Schadenfreude Squared

 

I’m a little late on this but I read not too long ago about a couple of Twitter employees who called out Elon Musk via public tweets. I’m not sure “called out” is the right phrase . . . one employee implied that Musk has no idea what he’s talking about and the second just gratuitously insulted him.

Both were fired. Musk actually announced the first guy’s firing on Twitter.

The tone of the media coverage surprised me. It sounded like Musk was some kind of monster. But ask yourself this question, and I will do the same: “If I posted something on Twitter to the effect of ‘I work at Company X and our CEO is an idiot,’ what would happen?”

My answer is: I don’t think it would go well. I’d probably lose my job.

But really the most intoxicating angle on this is Twitter employees losing their jobs over something they posted on Twitter. 🙂

Quod circulat, volvit. What goes around comes around.

Musk vs. Markey: A Battle of Wits With an Unarmed Man

 

Pardon me for stating the obvious but Senator Ed and a lot of other pissy little congresspeople were fine with Big Tech’s self-regulation when that meant censoring people and ideas that they didn’t like.

They’re also fine with the whims of billionaires like Zuckerberg, Soros, (former billionaire) SBF and so on when those whims include making massive donations to Democratic candidates and causes.

A quick Web search on Ed Markey reveals that he went to law school, went into politics, has apparently never done a productive day’s work in his life, but he wants to tell the world’s greatest entrepreneur how to run a business.

“Congress must pass laws!” That’s the problem. People get into Congress and they think that Congress has to pass laws. We don’t need any more goddamn laws. Every law takes away freedom or money (which is another form of freedom, the freedom to earn a dollar and spend it the way you want to).

We can all (well, many of us) figure out how to get through life without so many goddamn laws.

Finally, why is Senator Ed’s avatar wearing a mask? Can an avatar get COVID?

Schadenfreude

 

Now that a federal appeals court has blocked the Biden student debt relief program, I have to admit that I really like to see people make terrible decisions and have to face the consequences, like taking on a colossal debt load in order to obtain a college degree with no commensurate value.

I bet the Germans have a word for that. Germans have a word for everything.

All You Need is Love?

 
John and Yoko

We saw The Beatles LOVE by Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas. It was a fun show. My only quibble is that there’s about the right amount of buffoonery for, say, a Marx Brothers tribute, but a little too much for a Beatles show.

A friend tells me his favorite Beatle is John, followed by George, which I’d say are not bad choices. I’ve always thought George was underrated as a singer-songwriter compared to Paul.

One thing that always bothered me about John is that he was telling people that all they need is love, while he himself had a fondness for fashion, drove a Rolls Royce and lived in the most expensive building in New York.

I’m not aware that anyone ever asked him about the apparent contradiction but it would have been a good question: “You’re telling people who may be living on the street or can’t afford food that all they need is love while you seem to need white suits, top hats, luxury cars and apartments. What’s up with that?”

He was a phony I guess is what I’m saying, not that you can’t also be a genius as a singer and songwriter because evidently you can.

The New Transgender Standard

 

Danger, Folly and Presumption

 

The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals, would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted to no council and senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it.

— Adam Smith

When a Mass Murder is of No Interest

 

Three University of Virginia football players were shot to death a few days ago. This has not set off a national media frenzy despite the fact that the victims were young, black, unarmed and not involved in the commission of a crime at the time of their death.

They won’t get the “say his name,” George Floyd martyr treatment, no Black Lives Matter protests or condemnations, and very little press coverage at all, considering we’re talking about a mass murder of three black college students sitting on a bus.

Why? Because the shooter looks like this:

Christopher Jones

Harvard, Yale, Berkeley Pull Out of Law School Rankings

 
woman holding sword statue during daytime

Law schools at Harvard, Yale and UC Berkeley have pulled out of U.S. News & World Report’s rankings over concerns that the system is biased against equity programs.

It seems unlikely that the system is biased against equity programs or that the rankings even consider equity programs, but if “equity programs” means what I think it does, it means that the schools reject accomplished candidates who are White, Asian or Jewish in favor of less accomplished candidates who are not White, Asian or Jewish.

That would show up indirectly in rankings if the rankings look, as I’m sure they do, at LSAT scores, GPA and other indications of merit.

It seems like one of two things can happen as a result of equity programs. One is that the schools teach classes to the level of the students, so if you reduce the qualifications of the students, you teach classes at a correspondingly lower level of rigor.

The second and more likely outcome is that the schools teach the classes as they always have and the “equity” admits drop out because they’re not able to compete against students who are more qualified and more prepared to succeed than they are.

If you want to see the poor remain poor, generation after generation, just keep the standards low in their schools and make excuses for their academic shortcomings and personal misbehavior. But please don’t congratulate yourself on your compassion.

— Thomas Sowell

Book Banning and Other Shenanigans

 

I heard just the last piece of a news item on TV last night about someone or other wanting to ban To Kill a Mockingbird from a school library — I didn’t even catch if it was left-wing nuts or right-wing nuts, but book banners always remind me of Kurt Vonnegut’s response to these sorts of dimwits:

“Have somebody read the First Amendment to the United States Constitution out loud to you, you God damned fool!”

Granted, To Kill a Mockingbird is not a very good book, vastly overrated, but there’s no case that I can think of for banning it from a school library.

You might think I’ve painted myself into a corner here with a First Amendment argument given that another currently hot topic is schoolbooks on sexual topics.

But no, I think reasonable people can agree that some types of subject matter are not appropriate for school children. We have R-rated movies, right? No one has a problem with that.

We never had any problems with inappropriate material in the Irvine Unified School District, which my son attended, probably because the teachers and administrators knew as well as anyone that the first-rate academic results achieved by the district had little or nothing to do with them, and everything to do with the families that live in the district and their expectations of their children regarding what it means to be a student.

I attended every Open House, Back to School Night, parent-teacher conference, etc., and rarely did I feel that I was in the presence of greatness.

The teachers and administrators were as replaceable as a worn-out set of tires. And knowing that, they were never motivated to try any shenanigans . . .

Chess Game of the Day: Italian Game

 

One of my online chess games. White falls into a trap, grabs a piece, and loses immediately. Some annotations below . . .

11. Ng4 (I think 11. f4 is better.)

16. d4 (Or 16. b4 Bd6)

19. bxa5?? (White doesn’t really have any problems here. Swapping queens seems reasonable. It must be very tempting to grab the Knight but it results in a mate in 3.)

20. Kh1 (Or mate in 2 if White doesn’t interpose the bishop.)

Places, Loved Ones

 

No, I have never found
The place where I could say
This is my proper ground,
Here I shall stay;

Nor met that special one
Who has an instant claim
On everything I own
Down to my name;

To find such seems to prove
You want no choice in where
To build, or whom to love;
You ask them to bear
You off irrevocably,
So that it’s not your fault
Should the town turn dreary,
The girl a dolt.

Yet, having missed them, you’re
Bound, none the less, to act
As if what you settled for
Mashed you, in fact;
And wiser to keep away
From thinking you still might trace
Uncalled-for to this day
Your person, your place.

— Philip Larkin, “Places, Loved Ones”

Unemployment Numbers Don’t Make Sense

 

From a Daily Wire newsletter:

Tech giant Meta is laying off 13 percent of its workforce across all of its companies: Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, etc.

That amounts to around 11,000 jobs — the biggest tech layoff of the year. That’s an especially high number when you remember that since its founding 18 years ago, Facebook has never had to cut back its workforce.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared to address the layoffs in a leaked video Wednesday afternoon, saying, “I want to say up front that I take full responsibility for this decision…It was one of the hardest calls I’ve had to make in the 18 years of running the company.”

And… the company has signaled investors to expect further bad news in the fourth quarter. This comes after Meta announced a second straight quarter of declining revenue in October.

Everywhere you look, big tech is struggling. Last week, Amazon announced that it has put a freeze on hiring for at least a few months because it said the economy was “in an uncertain place.”

The rideshare company Lyft is laying off 13 percent of its workforce. They say they’re preparing for a likely recession next year.

The payment processing platform, Stripe, is cutting 14 percent of its staff. The company’s CEO said in a memo to employees, “We were much too optimistic about the internet economy’s near-term growth in 2022 and 2023 and underestimated both the likelihood and impact of a broader slowdown.”

And…That’s to say nothing of Elon Musk firing about 50 percent of Twitter employees. . . .

According to one report, over 21,000 employees have lost jobs across 46 different companies in less than two weeks.

Job opening marked in newspaper

I work in technology so that’s the industry I know best but this has got to be happening elsewhere, right? Of course, the news above has a ripple effect for tech recruiters, who are also losing their jobs.

I’ve read that Walmart is doing layoffs and FedEx is closing stores. Disney had a rough earnings report a few days ago, the stock dropped to a two-year low and, according to Variety, the company will begin enacting layoffs, implementing a targeted hiring freeze and limiting company travel.

And yet in spite of all this, the one bright spot in the Biden economy remains low unemployment numbers.

I cannot figure it out. We lost 20 million jobs in the COVID pandemic. We’ve regained about 10 million. What happened to the other 10 million people. Did COVID kill them all?

The only other explanation I can think of is that people are dropping out of the workforce. I read an article a few months ago saying that a million people had dropped out of the workforce in the space of a month. It didn’t say why, probably a variety of reasons in play.

But the unemployment numbers don’t make sense. Someone should be asking more questions about this but I don’t see anyone doing it.

Messaging vs. Reality

 

Headline

I live in California. Gavin Newsom’s main flaw is that he’s very stupid.

Democrats are not getting destroyed on messaging. I don’t even know what the Republican message is. I know the Democratic message is “MAGA Republicans, extreme MAGA Republicans, fascists.”

Now that is a losing message, I grant you, because Democrats who aren’t insane, for whom politics does not play a destructive force in their life, have friends, neighbors, co-workers, family members, etc., who are Republicans and understand that while Republicans have different political views, they aren’t trying to put Democrats in gulags.

Democrats are getting destroyed by reality.

Republicans are running on GDP, inflation, lying about inflation, recession, lying about recession, gas prices, food prices, stock market, crime, border security, fentanyl deaths, energy independence, foreign policy, supply chain, social corruption, silencing, lies, pronouns and fucking with children.

Actually, now that I think about it, maybe the Republicans could borrow a message from Alexander Solzhenitsyn:

We know they are lying, they know they are lying, they know we know they are lying, we know they know we know they are lying, but they are still lying.

In Which We Learn That You’re Much More Likely to be Killed by a Bed Than by a Political Extremist

 

Man Wearing Gas Mask Standing Beside Store Facade

‘We are a tinderbox’: Political violence is ramping up, experts warnLos Angeles Times

Politically motivated violence has ebbed and flowed throughout U.S. history. Currently, America is going through an upsurge in right-wing violence, according to researchers who track attacks and other incidents. They say today’s climate is comparable to that in the mid-1990s, when a similar wave of right-wing violence culminated in the 1995 bombing of the federal office building in Oklahoma City, which killed 168 people.

I’ll call bullshit on that. I can do that. If someone pulls the the Oklahoma City bombing out of their ass and makes a gratuitous suggestion that it’s about to happen again, I get to gratuitously deny it.

In fact, to avoid having to repeat myself, I’ll call bullshit on most of the article. It’s extremely slanted.

There were 9,625 threats against members of Congress and their families last year, according to the Capitol Police — more than twice as many as in 2017.

How many of the threats were carried out? I’ll estimate zero. That is the biggest scam . . . everyone gets death threats but no one ever dies.

Has anyone ever been killed by someone who notified them ahead of time? Did Lee Harvey Oswald send JFK a death threat? It’s a bad move, if you have any ambition of actually getting away with the crime, to alert the victim in advance.

Over the last decade, politically motivated extremists, a majority of them right-wing, have killed over 400 people in the U.S., according to the Anti-Defamation League, which has tracked domestic political violence for 15 years. In 2021, political violence resulted in 29 deaths, according to the ADL’s most recent report.

The ADL data is flawed and consistently mis-cited, as we’ve pointed out before. A neo-Nazi strangles his wife, the ADL counts it as an extremist killing. A white supremacist gang member kills a rival white supremacist gang member, the ADL counts it as an extremist killing.

And so on.

The ADL includes those it describes as “anti-government” or “incel/manosphere” as right-wing extremists. Why being anti-government or incel requires being a right-wing extremist, I do not know.

 

One thing that gets in the way of understanding the world is a lack of context and perspective. During the same 10-year period cited by the ADL, there were at least 165,000 murders in the U.S.
The FBI has not issued the official number of murders in the U.S. in 2021, but it is expected to exceed the number of murders in 2020: 21,570. The ADL says 29 of the 2021 murders were committed by extremists.

So the ADL data could be characterized as follows: The number of murders committed by extremists is very small.

In 2020, according to the CDC, 1,080 people were killed falling out of bed. Are you terrified of beds? You’re much more likely to be killed by a bed than by an extremist. Is the Los Angeles Times running alarmist stories about beds?

Though some Democrats have been criticized for provocative language . . . the party as a whole, especially President Biden, has been more forceful than Republicans in renouncing extremist rhetoric and actions.

“It’s one thing to condemn the violence,” Biden told reporters Saturday after he cast his ballot early in Delaware. “But you can’t condemn the violence unless you condemn those people who are arguing that the election is not real.”

Biden dedicated an entire speech in Philadelphia to warning of peril to democracy.

That’s the speech where he said Republicans are democracy-hating fascists, right? That should calm everyone down. Thanks, Joe.

Nowhere in the article that I can see is it mentioned that Democrats spent Trump’s entire term arguing that his election was not real due to Russian collusion, with a couple of impeachments thrown in for political theater.

Don’t sleep on the edge of the bed.

Bivalent COVID Booster: One Data Point

 

Put Away Childish Things

 

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. — 1 Corinthians 13:11

I’ve noticed in recent years what I’d call adult men playing card games and board games that seem to be intended for children.

When I was growing up, men played adult games like poker or chess, maybe backgammon or checkers, Hearts or Spades.

I’m not saying one way or the other is better for society, but . . . well actually, I guess I am.

yellow red and blue lego blocks

Arrested and Conceivably Killed

 

To be fair, the plan to kill children is still under review. 🙂

AOC Building Henhouses

 

In 1945, George Orwell wrote this:

Prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated henhouse.

He couldn’t be more right, in my opinion, especially when the topic is politics.

I can’t think of a more perfect embodiment of Orwell’s theory than AOC, who in 2022 gives us headlines like this:

Headline

It’s so trite that even the headline writer is compelled to split it up into hot-button words and phrases — fascism, Jim Crow, White nationalists, apartheidet voilà! Henhouse!

Paul Pelosi = Jussie Smollett?

 

Update to this story:

The Awful Truth: Paul Pelosi Was Drunk Again, And In a Dispute With a Male Prostitute Early Friday Morning.

20 Things You Don’t Have to Apologize For

 

You Never Have to Apologize For…

1. Removing someone from your life that repeatedly crosses your boundaries. ~Bonnie Romano

2. Being who we are, and feeling our feelings. ~Courtney Redd-Boynton

3. Trusting your instincts, even if you can’t explain it. ~Kate Willette

4. We should never apologize if we’re not truly sorry. I don’t believe in apologizing because someone ‘demands’ an apology. ~Olga Baez Rivera

5. Quality “me” time (taking care of ourselves). ~Nath Ray

6. Your opinion—there is no right or wrong opinion, and there’d be a lot less arguments if more people could just respect and appreciate different insights. ~Jennifer Werner Mader

7. Standing up for what you believe in. ~Michelle Galyon-Stallings

8. Living life the way we choose to, regardless of fitting in with other people’s norms. ~Tanya Johns Emery

9. Making decisions about your own future that don’t do any harm to anyone. No one should be made to feel guilty for trying to better themselves. ~Rebecca Killeen

10. You shouldn’t have to apologize for how you feel. You may need to apologize for how you act on your feelings, but never for being hurt, angry, sad, etc., and expressing how you feel. There’s a difference. ~NathanArisa Ferree

11. Being sensitive. I feel my feelings and I believe it’s hurtful when individuals are quick to tell someone to “get over it.” If we aren’t harming anyone, we all deserve to process our feelings in our own time frame and manner. ~Lori Mitchell

12. For being protective of our children and trusting our instincts as parents—especially when they’re not yet capable of advocating for themselves. ~Amitola Rajah

13. Having to grieve. Some people think there is a time limit or a timeframe. It could take a lifetime to accept someone we love passing away. ~Lisa Marie

14. Speaking the truth. It ain’t always pleasant, but better to know what’s really in someone’s heart than be fake! ~Kiran Sohi

15. Speaking up when someone has hurt us in some way. ~Karin Alberga

16. Fighting for the rights of animals. ~Linda Leppington

17. Taking a break and doing absolutely nothing for ten minutes. ~Christina Teresa

18. Being a free thinker and questioning everything even when it’s not the popular thing to do. ~Kathy Gildersleeve Wesley

19. Choosing what you think is best for your life. ~Kay West

20. Apologizing too much. ~Lori Deschene