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The Lamps are Going Out in Asia

Posted on September 26th, 2017 at 3:47 by Sueyourdeveloper in category: News


US President Donald Trump’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly on September 19 may well come to be viewed as “historic,” but not in a good way. This article will leave for others the impact of Donald Trump’s and Kim Jong Un’s reality TV show rhetoric. But the substance of Trump’s speech—including threats to both North Korea and the Iran deal—may have closed any remaining doors to a diplomatic resolution to this crisis surrounding North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. Moreover, Trump’s speech and the North Korean reaction seem to have set us on a path that could very well end in a major war in Asia. The escalating threats and the closing off of diplomatic options by both sides makes it now more likely than ever that President Trump will have to make good on his threat to “utterly destroy” a nation of 25 million people. The strategic consequences of carrying out this threat, even if successful, will be felt for the remainder of this century, largely to the detriment of the United States and the Western World.

If anyone else tells me that “One politician is the same as another!” and “Don’t vote, you’ll just encourage them!” I’ll puke.

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  1. One million and one ways to say “votes have consequences.”

  2. I can imagine Trump voters telling their grandchildren, “Yes, he DID bumble his way into a nuclear confrontation but hey, there were some sick burns on Twitter before that!”

Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: I miss the Earth so much

Posted on September 24th, 2017 at 18:52 by John Sinteur in category: News


Another week, another attempt by Donald Trump to dominate the news cycle through insults and attacks. Last week it was Kim Jong Un, this week it’s the people who play professional sports – apparently all of them – who are in for Trump’s ire. It doesn’t really matter. Trump just wants the outrage. He wants people to be angry, upset, and divided. How he gets there isn’t that important. Whether it’s risking nuclear war or simply wiping his feet on the Constitution, eh, whatever works.

Trump doesn’t care about domestic policy. He doesn’t care about foreign policy. He cares about Trump and about how many times he can get the people to say and write the word Tru…that word. And since he has absolutely no idea how to engage people’s hopes and aspirations, how to lift up and encourage, how to stir people to positive action and greater ambitions…he does this.

He knows how to demean. How to belittle and mock. His natural expression is a sneer, his first instinct to deride. Because, to lift a few†words off a film, he’s a little man, a silly man, greedy, barbarous, and cruel …and he thinks everyone else is the same.

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  1. As those who continually learn shock-tactics learn, use only one method and eventually you become a caricature of yourself. Does Trump HAVE another operating mode? It looks like he doesn’t which means that, a year or so from now, he’ll be interviewed and the interviewer will say, “So, to open, what the first shocking comment you’ll be coming out with today? Go on, let’s hear it. I’ll wait.” and news programs will say, “…and finally, the President tweeted another in his long line of offensive tweets. Now, on to the weather!”

  2. @Kharkov: “Now, on to the weather! And that too is seriously fucked.”

  3. I like the (free) quote from Lawrence of Arabia, but the exact quote also applies if you replace “Arabs” by “politicians”. Try it:

    “So long as the Arabs fight tribe against tribe, so long will they be a little people, a silly people – greedy, barbarous, and cruel, as you are.”

    You can either find your favorite replacement for the “you” at the end… or not.

The Republicans Aren’t Even Pretending This Is About Healthcare Anymore

Posted on September 21st, 2017 at 0:05 by John Sinteur in category: News


What we are hearing now from a number of people is the open admission that the goal of the Republican Party, a death-cult based on human suffering, is to strip healthcare from those people who do not vote for them, and from people the conservative mind has adjudged are unworthy of its benefits.

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  1. They are literally willing to let people die so they can give a tax cut to rich people.

  2. Years ago, the Repugs would dress up their ideas as ‘Freedom’, ‘Efficiency’, ‘Equality’ etc. Now they’re not even bothering to hide it anymore.
    ‘We want to stick it to poor people, minorities and any group that didn’t vote for us, and yes, we’re happy to accept sloppy targeting that also gets those poor rubes who DID vote for us.’
    An improvement of sorts, I suppose but, and here’s where it gets scary, the Repugs have a guaranteed 35% base of support and the chance of up to 20% more.
    An educated, informed, active electorate… is one of those things the USA really should get around to at some point.

  3. In general some republicans can’t extend an open hand. I do think some are just going through the motions cause they can’t totally deny trump. Yet they do try. Who can really defeat him? That is the real question.

The Trump doctrine: Only I can fix the world

Posted on September 20th, 2017 at 16:45 by John Sinteur in category: News


If one were to believe Donald Trump’s speech before the United Nations, in his short tenure as president he has already fixed the domestic problems he outlined in his “American Carnage” inaugural address, and is now prepared to apply his methods to the rest of the planet. One might even call this speech “Global Carnage.” Trump described a Hobbesian world in which decent countries everywhere are under assault from “small regimes” trying to undermine their sovereignty and destroy their ways of life. Or, as he elegantly phrased it: “Major portions of the world are in conflict, and some, in fact, are going to hell.”
This was very much the way he described America on the day he was sworn in. It too was a desolate, dystopian hellscape of smoldering ruins and abandoned cities, where bands of foreigners and gangsters roamed the land, raping and pillaging and leaving carnage in their wake. He promised to take the country back (reclaim its sovereignty, if you will) from people who were trying to impose their values and culture on the Real Americans. He told the world on Tuesday morning that he had largely accomplished that task.
Contrary to popular belief among the chattering classes, the people who loved his promise to “make America great again” were undoubtedly pleased to see him pledge to get the world in order as well. Trump was saying that it’s none of America’s business how you treat your own citizens (unless it interferes with business) and we are not going to honor any international treaties, laws or institutions that we don’t like. But that doesn’t mean other countries can do the same. We are a sovereign nation  but we are also the richest and strongest superpower on earth, and we will decide when and where other people are allowed to exercise control over their own countries.

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Getting granular with the claim that Trump is some media wizard

Posted on September 18th, 2017 at 22:43 by John Sinteur in category: News


Conclusion: To the claim that Trump is a master of media manipulation – which I doubt – I offer these alternatives:

1.) He cannot be shamed. Trump does not care if he is shown to be a liar, idiot, ignoramus, clown, or monster. Most people are not built like that. Therefore he can generate media attention without caring about the consequences. Most people are not built like that, either. Trump is exceptional, but this is different from saying he is a masterful. In fact, he’s a compulsive. Which is the opposite of mastery. Everything explained by attributing to Trump some genius for the media arts is better explained by his utter shamelessness, his malignant narcissism – and his indifference to being the clown figure.

2.) He is risk-friendly in a field where nearly all practitioners are risk-averse. This follows from what I just said. Enormously risky behavior is routine for Donald Trump, because he simply doesn’t care if he is shown to be a liar, idiot, ignoramus, clown, or ethical monster. Therefore he can accuse a previous President of the United States of a devilish crime without any evidence… and feel fine about it. It’s true that by these methods he dominates the news agenda and forces attention to his groundless charges, but “master media manipulator” is a poor description of the man who would do that.

3.) If you have opened yourself to manipulation, it’s less bad if a master of it did this to you. Think about it. If it takes a wizard to manipulate me, I must be pretty smart… right? When journalists testify to Trump’s genius as a mover of media they are bragging in a way they don’t quite realize. For they are implicitly saying: genius is required to manipulate us. Sorry, it’s not. Anyone in a position of power willing to float a false accusation can get you to cover it – and subvert your intention to cover something else. Anyone eager to make a spectacle of himself can create lurid headlines. Anyone smashing to bits norms of democratic governance will dominate the news agenda.

If you are a man, and you bite a dog, that does not make you a master of anything. But it does make of you news.

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Posted on September 16th, 2017 at 16:45 by John Sinteur in category: News


The truth is, no matter how he winds up leaving office, Donald Trump will always be with us. We may, unless there is nuclear Armageddon, outlast his presidency. Robert Mueller’s investigation may even shorten it. But we can’t repeal or replace it. Long after his presidency ends – indeed, long after he has departed this vale of tweets for that gloriously appointed Mar-a-Lago in the sky – Trump will continue to dominate and disrupt our lives at every turn. Because he’s Trump, being a former president will do nothing to diminish his desperate need for attention or his willingness to hurt whomever it takes to get it. He’ll still have his gifts as a showman, his wealth, his mastery of social media, and the unshakable devotion of his followers. And the media will remain just as eager to report and dissect and amplify his every untruth and slander. Indeed, freed from the shackles of the Constitution, Trump could end up provoking even more havoc out of office than he has as president.

There will never be, in short, a world without Trump. As we work to remove him from office, we must also grapple with a harsh truth: that his influence, and the broader forces he represents, will not end with his presidency. When Trump leaves the Oval Office, our long national nightmare will not be over. It will have just begun.

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  1. I sadly agree. Sometimes your writings return me to helpless feelings and I cry.

    Somewhere I had read the writer predicted civil war— in 15 yrs. 15 YEARS!! That’s a lot of misery. And then even worse misery.

Apple Responds to Safari 11 Criticism From Advertising Groups

Posted on September 16th, 2017 at 9:13 by John Sinteur in category: News


Six trade and marketing organizations this morning published an open letter to Apple asking the company to “rethink” plans to launch new versions of Safari in iOS and macOS that block cross-site tracking, and this afternoon, Apple offered up a response, which was shared by The Loop.


“Apple believes that people have a right to privacy – Safari was the first browser to block third party cookies by default and Intelligent Tracking Prevention is a more advanced method for protecting user privacy,” Apple said in a statement provided to The Loop.

“Ad tracking technology has become so pervasive that it is possible for ad tracking companies to recreate the majority of a person’s web browsing history. This information is collected without permission and is used for ad re-targeting, which is how ads follow people around the Internet. The new Intelligent Tracking Prevention feature detects and eliminates cookies and other data used for this cross-site tracking, which means it helps keep a person’s browsing private. The feature does not block ads or interfere with legitimate tracking on the sites that people actually click on and visit. Cookies for sites that you interact with function as designed, and ads placed by web publishers will appear normally.”

And the reply by the advertisers:

“Apple’s unilateral and heavy-handed approach is bad for consumer choice and bad for the ad-supported online content and services consumers love,” reads the letter. “Blocking cookies in this manner will drive a wedge between brands and their customers, and it will make advertising more generic and less timely and useful.”

Just die already. I’m still seeing your crap in the default setup. You’re still wasting my bandwidth with your “generic and less timely and useful” turds.

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  1. I want to meet some of the “consumers” the advertisers claim, who love those ads. I don’t like being followed by ads for a particular product months after I made a purchase of that product online.

  2. Mudak,
    Allow me to second that. It is extremely irritating to have ads thrown at you for an item you purchased and only need “one” of. How many vehicle radiators do you think I need, you advertising dip-wads?

  3. @Gene, I had it happen for a stove.

  4. It’s spreading. I just attempted to buy a bottle of water at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam. The attendant kindly informed me that she would need to scan my boarding pass.

  5. I go to Amazon a couple times a week and shop for “Size 9 Chukka Boots” …… and now the ads follow me around online. Curate your ad stream.

Equifax CEO Hired a Music Major as the Company’s Chief Security Officer

Posted on September 16th, 2017 at 9:09 by John Sinteur in category: News


Susan Mauldin, the person in charge of the Equifax’s data security, has a bachelor’s degree and a master of fine arts degree in music composition from the University of Georgia, according to her LinkedIn profile. Mauldin’s LinkedIn profile lists no education related to technology or security. If that wasn’t enough, news outlet MarketWatch reported on Friday that Susan Mauldin’s LinkedIn page was made private and her last name was replaced with “M”, in a move that appears to keep her education background secret.

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Toronto man ‘angry’ after learning his $8,100 master’s degree that required no exams or academic work is fake

Posted on September 15th, 2017 at 23:55 by John Sinteur in category: News


Erwin Sniedzins doesn’t trust traditional universities.

So when the Toronto business management consultant found one offering a master’s degree requiring no studying, exams, or academic work — for just $8,100 — Sniedzins thought it was a school sharing his unconventional approach to education.

“I don’t necessarily like to pay $30,000 to get a master’s when I feel I already have the knowledge,” Sniedzins said in an interview with CBC Toronto.


Sniedzins is president and CEO of Mount Knowledge, an educational software company. In his LinkedIn profile, he is described as an “Artificial Intelligence Gamification Patent Inventor, Key Note Speaker, Professor, Author.”

Well, he sure has to depend on artificial intelligence, since he obviously has no real intelligence… Well, let’s rewrite the headline.

“Snooty know-it-all Torontarded man, with conspiracy theory leanings, is ‘angry’ that he might not be as smart as he thinks he is. Pays $8100 to find out.”

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  1. I see no problem here. Universities routinely hand out honorary Doctorate degrees to a variety of people under the rough category of Life Experience, with no formal academic work deemed necessary. A quick internet search reveals that Muhammed Ali, Dolly Parton, Robert de Niro, Aretha Franklin, Conan O’Brien, and many more, have received PhDs for their achievements.

    So this bloke has received an Honorary Master’s Degree, with just a small charge for postage and handling. What’s the big deal?

  2. Nice try, Ed.
    People who are idiots consistently over-estimate their intelligence, experience and virtue.

Vatican Recalls Priest at Washington Embassy Amid Child Porn Investigation

Posted on September 15th, 2017 at 23:31 by John Sinteur in category: News


A high-ranking priest working in the Vatican’s embassy in Washington has been recalled after U.S. prosecutors asked for him to be charged there and face trial in a child pornography investigation, Vatican and U.S. officials said Friday.

The Vatican declined to identify the priest, but said he was currently in Vatican City and that Vatican prosecutors had launched their own probe.

Clearly the Vatican is still protecting pederasts.

After all this. ALL of these things. If a Catholic reader would be so kind to explain to me: why do you still visit their church? I can’t for the life of me understand…

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  1. I believe it’s called cognitive dissonance. Same reason Trump voters voted for him in spite of all the evidence clearly before them and why many still think he’s doing a great job in spite of all the evidence since then. But I think you already knew that…

Teen sends dick pic to 22-year-old woman, now he’s a child pornographer

Posted on September 15th, 2017 at 23:00 by John Sinteur in category: News


The Washington Supreme Court has upheld the conviction under state child porn laws of a 17-year-old boy who sent a picture of his own erect penis to a 22-year-old woman. The case illustrates a bizarre situation in which Eric Gray is both the perpetrator and the victim of the crime. Under state law, Gray could face up to 10 years in prison for the conviction.

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Jaws Drop As Trump Admits That He Never Knew Category 5 Hurricanes Existed

Posted on September 15th, 2017 at 22:57 by John Sinteur in category: News


Trump claimed that he has the best brain and that he is a smart person, but the man charged with protecting the people of the United States and responding to natural disasters didn’t know that category five hurricanes exist. It is impossible to believe that Trump could be this dumb, especially after Hurricane Andrew and Hurricane Wilma. Trump has property in Florida, so if he doesn’t know about category fives, he is one of the most oblivious people in history.

No, no, no, dear reporter. It’s not impossible to believe that Trump can be this dumb. Damn, I bet I could not swing a cat around here without at least hitting five people who do believe it.

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A Tale of Two Donalds

Posted on September 15th, 2017 at 20:56 by John Sinteur in category: News


Consider, for instance, the recent decision by the generally admirable Ken Burns, that quintessential chronicler of the depths and surfaces of Americana, to launch his new documentary on the Vietnam War, a disastrous and near-genocidal intervention in a faraway land, by insisting that it “was begun in good faith by decent people” and was a “failure”, not a “defeat”.

Take that as just one small indication of how difficult it will be to get rid of the deeply ingrained idea that the United States, despite its flaws, is an unquestionable force for good in the world. Only an America that continues to bathe in this mythology of innocence, of a God-given exceptionalism and virtue destined to rule the Earth, could have produced a Trump victory.  Only a recognition of how malevolent and blinding that innocence is could begin to open the way to a fuller understanding of the causes of Trump’s ascendancy and his almost mesmerizing hold upon those now referred to as “his base”.

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James Brzyski, infamous Philly priest, found dead in Texas motel

Posted on September 14th, 2017 at 9:16 by John Sinteur in category: News


James Brzyski, a defrocked Archdiocese of Philadelphia priest once described as one of the region’s most monstrous sexual predators, but who eluded prosecution after allegedly abusing dozens of boys in the 1970s and 1980s, was found dead Wednesday at a Texas motel.

Authorities confirmed they were investigating a man’s death at the Super 7 motel on Seminary Road in Fort Worth. They had not officially determined his identity or cause of death but said they did not suspect foul play.
They’re not saying it outright, but it sounds like a suicide because the authorities were getting close to putting him behind bars.
“There isn’t anything to suggest that someone else did this to him,” Detective Tom O’Brien said.

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  1. Good riddance swine

The iPhone Is Guaranteed to Last Only One Year, Apple Argues in Court

Posted on September 13th, 2017 at 14:54 by John Sinteur in category: News


Greg Joswiak, Apple’s VP of iOS, iPad, and iPhone Marketing, told Buzzfeed last month that iPhones are “the highest quality and most durable devices. We do this because it’s better for the customer, for the iPhone, and for the planet.”

But in court, Apple argues that it is only responsible for ensuring the iPhone lasts one year, the default warranty you get when you buy an iPhone. For comparison, if you enroll in Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program, you will be paying for your new phone for two full years.

We know this because Apple is currently fighting a class-action lawsuit over the widespread premature failure of tens of thousands of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus devices due to a design flaw that’s become known as “touch disease.” In that court case, currently being litigated in California, the plaintiffs attempted to argue that “consumers reasonably expect that smartphones will remain operable for at least two years when not subject to abuse or neglect because the overwhelming majority of smartphone users are required to sign service contracts with cellular carriers for two year periods.”

Apparently they have a different production line for European phones, as European law states:

EU law also stipulates that you must give the consumer a minimum 2-year guarantee (legal guarantee) as a protection against faulty goods, or goods that don’t look or work as advertised. In some countries national law may require you to provide longer guarantees.

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  1. Australia has a similar law to the EU. Australian Consumer Law guarantees certain rights to the consumer, one of which is that a warranty applies according to what a reasonable consumer would regard as reasonable, regardless of what a manufacturer states.

    What this means in practice is that a reasonable consumer would expect a $1000 phone to last more than a year, in fact you might expect it to last 3-4 years, and if that is accepted by a court, that is how long a warranty lasts, allowing refund, repair or replacement.

    See Also: https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/consumer-rights-guarantees/warranties

Apple calling its stores ‘town squares’ is a pretentious farce

Posted on September 13th, 2017 at 9:34 by John Sinteur in category: News


Excruciating self-congratulation has always been part of Apple’s brand, but the company took this to new levels at today’s iPhone event.

It started with a tribute to Steve Jobs that was unnerving in the depth of its veneration. As smiling photos of the company founder beamed down at the audience, we were told that Apple is not, in fact, one of the richest and most influential corporations of all time, but the embodiment of one man’s creative spirit. The revenue, the supply chains, the employees, the users — all an incarnation of Jobs.

“His greatest expression would not be a singular product, but rather Apple itself,” said Cook.

Even the auditorium the event took place in was framed as a mausoleum. It’s the last creative project touched by Jobs’ genius, we were told, and look how it shelters the faithful, called here to see the latest relics the great man bequeathed to the Earth.

And then things got really crazy.

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Facebook Wins, Democracy Loses

Posted on September 11th, 2017 at 17:02 by John Sinteur in category: News


A core principle in political advertising is transparency — political ads are supposed to be easily visible to everyone, and everyone is supposed to understand that they are political ads, and where they come from. And it’s expensive to run even one version of an ad in traditional outlets, let alone a dozen different versions. Moreover, in the case of federal campaigns in the United States, the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign-finance act requires candidates to state they approve of an ad and thus take responsibility for its content.

None of that transparency matters to Facebook. Ads on the site meant for, say, 20- to 30-year-old home-owning Latino men in Northern Virginia would not be viewed by anyone else, and would run only briefly before vanishing. The potential for abuse is vast. An ad could falsely accuse a candidate of the worst malfeasance a day before Election Day, and the victim would have no way of even knowing it happened. Ads could stoke ethnic hatred and no one could prepare or respond before serious harm occurs.

Unfortunately, the range of potential responses to this problem is limited. The First Amendment grants broad protections to publishers like Facebook. Diplomacy, even the harsh kind, has failed to dissuade Russia from meddling. And it’s even less likely to under the current administration.

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The Only Problem in American Politics Is the Republicans

Posted on September 11th, 2017 at 7:15 by John Sinteur in category: News


Political scientist Lee Drutman argues in a Vox essay that American politics is descending into what he calls “doom-loop partisanship.” Drutman notes that Americans have been “retreating into our separate tribal epistemologies, each with their own increasingly incompatible set of facts and first premises,” each heavily racialized, in which “[t]here’s no possibility for rational debate or middle-ground compromise. Just two sorted teams, with no overlap, no cross-cutting identities, and with everyone’s personal sense of status constantly on the line.”

Drutman attributes this to winner-take-all elections, the expanding power of the presidency, and the growing influence of money in politics. I think, despite all the very real design flaws in American politics, the problems he describe stem mainly from the pathologies of the Republican Party.

It is certainly true that the psychological relationship between the parties has a certain symmetry. Both fear each other will cheat to win and use their power to stack the voting deck. “If Republicans win in close elections, Democrats say it’s only because they cheated by making it harder for Democratic constituencies to vote; if Democrats win in close elections, Republicans say it’s only because they voted illegally.” But while it is not true that Democrats have allowed illegal voting in nontrivial levels, it is extremely true that Republicans have deliberately made voting inconvenient for Democratic-leaning constituencies. The psychology is parallel, but the underlying facts are not.

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Dozens gather at Jacksonville Beach to pray Hurricane Irma away

Posted on September 10th, 2017 at 10:30 by John Sinteur in category: News


The Jacksonville Beach Pier was the place where dozens gathered Thursday evening to pray with outstretched hands that this huge hurricane pushes out to sea.

News of the gathering spread fast.

“We’re gonna put this storm to sea — no fear,” one person in attendance said.

Darwin award volunteers.

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  1. Well, if it worked for King Canute then surely it’ll work for these…
    Oh, hang on, it DIDN’T work for Canute…

  2. Well, I suppose they could say they moved Irma to the other coast of Florida (Jax is on the E. coast).
    But passing it on to someone else doesn’t seem very godly.

  3. Wow, I am so glad there is an easier way to forecast weather with the JESUS model as those damn SHIPS, GFS, NAM , UKMET, ECMWF etc. models are far to complicated.


Posted on September 9th, 2017 at 16:50 by John Sinteur in category: News

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Google promised not to scan Gmail for targeted ads—but for how long?

Posted on September 9th, 2017 at 16:12 by John Sinteur in category: News


Google tells judge it might resume targeted advertising “to meet changing demands.”

As soon as their bottom line demands it…

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Hurricane preparation

Posted on September 9th, 2017 at 14:40 by John Sinteur in category: News


He should replace it with cat5 cable…

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  1. If you want to keep your roof from flying into the air you should secure it with an ethernet.

PSA: no matter what, Equifax may tell you you’ve been impacted by the hack

Posted on September 9th, 2017 at 12:27 by John Sinteur in category: News


It’s clear Equifax’s goal isn’t to protect the consumer or bring them vital information. It’s to get you to sign up for its revenue-generating product TrustID.

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Texas Chemical Plant Sued For Millions, First Responders Charge Gross Negligence

Posted on September 9th, 2017 at 11:36 by John Sinteur in category: News


Seven first responders filed a lawsuit Thursday against a chemical company whose Houston-area facility exploded after Hurricane Harvey. The lawsuit against Arkema and three of the company’s executives is seeking over $1 million in monetary relief, and alleges that the company did not adequately warn law enforcement and public health agencies about hazardous materials at the chemical plant. Those allegations come after Arkema and its lobbying group, the American Chemistry Council, lobbied to kill a federal rule designed to require companies to better coordinate and inform first responders about the toxic compounds at chemical plants. The rule would have taken effect in March.

The EPA’s rule, which included a series of other safety provisions, was ultimately delayed to February 2019 by the Trump administration, with the support of top Texas Republican lawmakers – many of whom received large campaign donations from the chemical industry.

The suit filed in Harris County court asserts that after explosions at the Arkema’s Crosby plant emitted a cloud of gas, company officials “repeatedly denied that the chemicals were toxic or harmful in any manner to the people, and first responders, in the community”. Yet, the complaint says the fumes sickened the first responders, and charges Arkema with “gross negligence” and “malice”.

“Immediately upon being exposed to the fumes from the explosion, and one by one, the police officers and first responders began to fall ill in the middle of the road”, says the lawsuit, which was filed by members of local agencies including law enforcement and the fire department. “Calls for medics were made, but still no one from Arkema warned of the toxic fumes in the air. Emergency medical personnel arrived on scene, and even before exiting their vehicle, they became overcome by the fumes as well. The scene was nothing less than chaos. Police officers were doubled over vomiting, unable to breathe. Medical personnel, in their attempts to provide assistance to the officers, became overwhelmed and they too began to vomit and gasp for air”.

In a statement, Arkema said its employees did “everything they could to protect the public.”

There’s a part missing in that sentence. I think the Arkema rep must have mumbled “as long as it doesn’t cost us money” in a way the reporter failed to hear.

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  1. Well. Suing arkema is a must. Gross negligence. But will someone please tell these folks they gotta sue the state of Texas too. It’s only fair.

Stand up who HASN’T been hit in the Equifax mega-hack – whoa, whoa, sit down everyone

Posted on September 8th, 2017 at 11:38 by John Sinteur in category: News


“I apologize to consumers and our business customers for the concern and frustration this causes. We pride ourselves on being a leader in managing and protecting data, and we are conducting a thorough review of our overall security operations.”

Yeah. Right. Quite a show of pride right there. The average lemonade stand has better data protection standards than you have.

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You Are the Product

Posted on September 8th, 2017 at 10:03 by John Sinteur in category: News


Whatever comes next will take us back to those two pillars of the company, growth and monetisation. Growth can only come from connecting new areas of the planet. An early experiment came in the form of Free Basics, a program offering internet connectivity to remote villages in India, with the proviso that the range of sites on offer should be controlled by Facebook. ‘Who could possibly be against this?’ Zuckerberg wrote in the Times of India. The answer: lots and lots of angry Indians. The government ruled that Facebook shouldn’t be able to ‘shape users’ internet experience’ by restricting access to the broader internet. A Facebook board member tweeted that ‘anti-colonialism has been economically catastrophic for the Indian people for decades. Why stop now?’ As Taplin points out, that remark ‘unwittingly revealed a previously unspoken truth: Facebook and Google are the new colonial powers.’

So the growth side of the equation is not without its challenges, technological as well as political. Google (which has a similar running-out-of-humans problem) is working on ‘Project Loon’, ‘a network of balloons travelling on the edge of space, designed to extend internet connectivity to people in rural and remote areas worldwide’. Facebook is working on a project involving a solar-powered drone called the Aquila, which has the wingspan of a commercial airliner, weighs less than a car, and when cruising uses less energy than a microwave oven. The idea is that it will circle remote, currently unconnected areas of the planet, for flights that last as long as three months at a time. It connects users via laser and was developed in Bridgwater, Somerset. (Amazon’s drone programme is based in the UK too, near Cambridge. Our legal regime is pro-drone.) Even the most hardened Facebook sceptic has to be a little bit impressed by the ambition and energy. But the fact remains that the next two billion users are going to be hard to find.

That’s growth, which will mainly happen in the developing world. Here in the rich world, the focus is more on monetisation, and it’s in this area that I have to admit something which is probably already apparent. I am scared of Facebook. The company’s ambition, its ruthlessness, and its lack of a moral compass scare me. It goes back to that moment of its creation, Zuckerberg at his keyboard after a few drinks creating a website to compare people’s appearance, not for any real reason other than that he was able to do it. That’s the crucial thing about Facebook, the main thing which isn’t understood about its motivation: it does things because it can. Zuckerberg knows how to do something, and other people don’t, so he does it. Motivation of that type doesn’t work in the Hollywood version of life, so Aaron Sorkin had to give Zuck a motive to do with social aspiration and rejection. But that’s wrong, completely wrong. He isn’t motivated by that kind of garden-variety psychology. He does this because he can, and justifications about ‘connection’ and ‘community’ are ex post facto rationalisations. The drive is simpler and more basic. That’s why the impulse to growth has been so fundamental to the company, which is in many respects more like a virus than it is like a business. Grow and multiply and monetise. Why? There is no why. Because.

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  1. I think this is a good analogy: “Facebook and Google are the new colonial powers.” And make no mistake it is not just the current developing countries that are being colonized. Facebook and Google already tell people what to think, directly, or as a proxy of a Russian clique. Once they have all the behavioral data they can start shaping individual behavior. Governments and other companies will be at the mercy of the big five data holders. Trump already allowed ISPs to deep inspect all individual Internet users to collect as much data as they want while the NSA is not allowed to keep track of simpler data (on USA citizens). The big five can move the data on all people to whatever jurisdiction they like to do what ever they want with it. What is going to stop them from constricting the world population for ever more riches? Moral? I hope something is going to stop them, but I doubt it will be public outcry.

Obama response to rescission of DACA

Posted on September 6th, 2017 at 9:05 by John Sinteur in category: News

Immigration can be a controversial topic. We all want safe, secure borders and a dynamic economy, and people of goodwill can have legitimate disagreements about how to fix our immigration system so that everybody plays by the rules.

But that’s not what the action that the White House took today is about. This is about young people who grew up in America – kids who study in our schools, young adults who are starting careers, patriots who pledge allegiance to our flag. These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants. They may not know a country besides ours. They may not even know a language besides English. They often have no idea they’re undocumented until they apply for a job, or college, or a driver’s license.

Over the years, politicians of both parties have worked together to write legislation that would have told these young people – our young people – that if your parents brought you here as a child, if you’ve been here a certain number of years, and if you’re willing to go to college or serve in our military, then you’ll get a chance to stay and earn your citizenship. And for years while I was President, I asked Congress to send me such a bill.

That bill never came. And because it made no sense to expel talented, driven, patriotic young people from the only country they know solely because of the actions of their parents, my administration acted to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people, so that they could continue to contribute to our communities and our country. We did so based on the well-established legal principle of prosecutorial discretion, deployed by Democratic and Republican presidents alike, because our immigration enforcement agencies have limited resources, and it makes sense to focus those resources on those who come illegally to this country to do us harm. Deportations of criminals went up. Some 800,000 young people stepped forward, met rigorous requirements, and went through background checks. And America grew stronger as a result.

But today, that shadow has been cast over some of our best and brightest young people once again. To target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong. It is self-defeating – because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel. What if our kid’s science teacher, or our friendly neighbor turns out to be a Dreamer? Where are we supposed to send her? To a country she doesn’t know or remember, with a language she may not even speak?

Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision, and a moral question. Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us. They are that pitcher on our kid’s softball team, that first responder who helps out his community after a disaster, that cadet in ROTC who wants nothing more than to wear the uniform of the country that gave him a chance. Kicking them out won’t lower the unemployment rate, or lighten anyone’s taxes, or raise anybody’s wages.

It is precisely because this action is contrary to our spirit, and to common sense, that business leaders, faith leaders, economists, and Americans of all political stripes called on the administration not to do what it did today. And now that the White House has shifted its responsibility for these young people to Congress, it’s up to Members of Congress to protect these young people and our future. I’m heartened by those who’ve suggested that they should. And I join my voice with the majority of Americans who hope they step up and do it with a sense of moral urgency that matches the urgency these young people feel.

Ultimately, this is about basic decency. This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated. It’s about who we are as a people – and who we want to be.

What makes us American is not a question of what we look like, or where our names come from, or the way we pray. What makes us American is our fidelity to a set of ideals – that all of us are created equal; that all of us deserve the chance to make of our lives what we will; that all of us share an obligation to stand up, speak out, and secure our most cherished values for the next generation. That’s how America has traveled this far. That’s how, if we keep at it, we will ultimately reach that more perfect union”

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  1. A Canadian senator says that we should invite them to apply to come to Canada.

  2. Anyone missing a competent US President yet?

Why I’m Resigning From Trump’s Diversity Coalition

Posted on September 6th, 2017 at 8:32 by John Sinteur in category: News


Over the past month, many corporate leaders have fled the councils and coalitions President Trump assembled at the beginning of his administration. I am proud to join them. While I will never cease advocating for policies that benefit America’s Hispanic-owned businesses, the moral costs of associating with this White House are simply too high. There is no place for a National Diversity Coalition in an administration that by its word and deed does not value diversity at all.

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Current Events

Posted on September 6th, 2017 at 0:26 by John Sinteur in category: News

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  1. There’s porn everywhere now. Why didn’t you include Mohammed?

  2. Stop using the “whataboutism” fallacy will, it doesn’t suit you.

  3. @Will: Oh I dunno, because Mo is dead and isn’t contemporaneous with Kim and Trump?

  4. Game, set and match. Take a seat, Will.

  5. It’s in poor taste. There! Get it!

    Just because it’s two nimrods doesn’t mean you have to act like one.

  6. So primness and prudery as well as whataboutism, misdirection and false equivalence. All in the service of rightwing talking points, pursued as relentlessly as though written by a Macedonian teenager.

  7. Hey, we didn’t give the world Hitler or Stalin. Europe did.

    My view of history is that current events are a result of past event. Go back to the past if you want to know when events took a wrong turn. Democrats only have themselves to blame for Trump.

  8. “It’s all THEIR fault” doesn’t suit you either.

  9. Poor taste? Blimey, Will, that is expecting too much. I thought it was a hilarious cartoon.

    (I have news for you if you think that image is porn, btw. Admittedly depiction of male anatomy is normally a little more…erm…attractive.)

  10. OK, so I stand corrected. My SO says that it is gross and he doesn’t want to look at it. Poor taste then :-]

  11. Oh Sue’s SO. I looked at my anatomy (standing corrected or not) as you put it..thought it was attractive (at least to someone), but now NOW, I ashamed. Oh no, years of therapy are now in front of me. Oh woe is me. 🙂

    Regarding Cartoon — hilarious indeed! And @John — you are a bit harsh on Will. He is, at a high level, partially correct in blaming (implied) corruption and mismanagement of the democrats as one of the causes for Trump. Certainly not all. It is far more complex and cannot be “one” cause. Hillary was a flawed choice. Divisive, dynastic and with much baggage. Too bad Joe did not run. Too bad others like Bernie were run off the rails by the Hilary machine. We cannot ignore these events.

  12. Of course we can’t. But it’s a bit much to ask a single cartoon to address more than one, two at most, things on that long list of “stuff that got us here”. Dismissing something because “this or that happened a while a go and that helped get us in this situation and you’re not addressing that particular pet peeve” is unhelpful to say the least.

  13. Precisely. You don’t need to shoehorn Hillary into this cartoon when it’s clearly not about her.

Yes, this is Michelle Obama

Posted on September 5th, 2017 at 11:09 by John Sinteur in category: News


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  1. I definitely have hat envy 🙂

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