Month: October 2017

Why Not to Trust the Cloud, Again

Google docs is amazing, except when it refuses to all you your own data:

A number of Google Docs users have reported being locked out of their documents today for, according to the message that pops up when they try to access the affected document, violating Google’s terms of service. Users that have tweeted about the issue have said their locked-out pieces were about a range of topics including wildfire crimes, post-socialist eastern Europe and a response to reviewers of an academic journal submission.


A Google spokesperson told us, “We’re investigating reports of an issue with Google Docs. We will provide more information when appropriate.” The range of subject matters and number of reports suggest it’s probably just a glitch, but the problem is a reminder of what we give up for the convenience and ease offered by cloud-based programs like Docs. Google Docs and others like it allow users to store their work offline, making it easily accessible wherever they happen to be. They also make it easy to share documents between a number of different people. But giving up control over your work comes with risks, as today’s issues make clear. And though they’re fairly rare, they can cause huge problems.

For example, Twitter user @widdowquinn said that while they had been encouraging others to use Google Docs for collaborative work on grants and academic papers, today’s glitch is a deal breaker.

“A dealbreaker?”

Gee, you think?  Google can shut you out from your own documents, because it violates their, “Terms of service,” and because it’s Google, which means that you will never, ever get even remotely close to a human being.


Clueless Motherf$#er of the Day, Halloween Edition

Jeet Heer.

The title of today’s intellectual super-fund site, “Hillary Clinton Shouldn’t Go Away. She Should Embrace Her Role as Trump’s Nemesis.”

She is pretty much the only political figure in the United States less popular than Donald Trump, including Richard Bruce Cheney, who generally polls lower than hemorrhoids.

Donald Trump tries to get into tussles with Hillary, because he knows that it makes him look good.

The DERP is strong in this one.


This looks fascinating:

Meanwhile, In Iceland

It appears that, for just the 2nd time in its history, Iceland will not have a right wing government:

Iceland’s ruling centre-right parties have lost their majority after a tight election that could usher in only the second left-of-centre government in the country’s history as an independent nation.

With all votes counted after the Nordic island’s second snap poll in a year, the conservative Independence party of the scandal-plagued outgoing prime minister, Bjarni Benediktsson, was on course to remain parliament’s largest.

But it lost five of of its 21 seats in the 63-member Althing, potentially paving the way for its main opponent, the Left-Green Movement headed by Katrín Jakobsdóttir, to form a left-leaning coalition with three or more other parties.

The make-up of the new government, however, remains uncertain since both left- and rightwing blocs have said they deserve a chance to try to form a coalition and Iceland’s president has yet to designate a party to begin talks.

Benediktsson called the election last month after his three-party centre-right government collapsed over an alleged attempt to cover up efforts by his father to help “restore the honour” of a convicted child sex offender.

The outgoing government had been only formed 10 months ago after early elections triggered by his predecessor’s resignation. Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson stepped down amid public fury at revelations in the Panama Papers that his family had sheltered money offshore.

If the Left-Green Movement had a modicum of political savvy, and my guess is that they don’t, they would take this opportunity to make changes to the political culture to make sure that their government is not just a short interregnum between more rule by the Independence Party.

This is important because Iceland won by bucking the standard neoliberal policy prescriptions, but the, largely through the Independence Party, there are (as the Panama Papers showed) still a number people who are eager to get back into that failed system.

Finally, a Senior Executive is Arrested

The billionaire founder of Insys Therapeutics was arrested on Thursday on federal charges that he participated in a scheme to bribe doctors to prescribe a fentanyl-based painkiller intended for cancer patients.

John Kapoor, the Insys founder, was charged with engaging in conspiracies to commit racketeering, mail fraud and wire fraud in an indictment filed in Federal District Court in Boston. He was arrested in Arizona, where Insys is based, and added as a defendant in a case that was previously filed against six former Insys executives and managers, including Michael Babich, the former chief executive, prosecutors said.


The charges escalate the continuing inquiries into Insys related to Subsys, an under-the-tongue spray that contains fentanyl, a highly addictive synthetic opioid. They came as President Trump declared the country’s opioid problem a public health crisis.

William D. Weinreb, the acting United States attorney for the District of Massachusetts, said the charges reflected a commitment on the part of authorities to combat the opioid-abuse epidemic. Opioids drugs were involved in more than 33,000 deaths in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We must hold the industry and its leadership accountable, just as we would the cartels or a street-level drug dealer,” Mr. Weinreb said in a statement.

 So a pharma executive got busted like the dope dealer that he is.

Now, how about going after Dimon, Blankfein, and the rest of those evil f%$#s?

Pass the Popcorn

The first charges have been issued in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election and possible collusion by members of the Trump campaign and arrests could be imminent, according to several reports.

CNN, Reuters and the Wall Street Journal reported that a grand jury has approved charges filed by investigators led by special counsel Robert Mueller against at least one person, and the indictment has been sealed by a federal judge, pending arrest. There was no information of the nature of the charges or their target. The reports suggested one or more arrests could take place as early as Monday.

That would take the broad investigation into Russia’s role in the election, which has hung over Donald Trump’s presidency since it began, to a new level, raising questions over how the White House and its allies would respond. Trump and his supporters have disparaged Mueller and tried to portray him as a sympathiser of Hillary Clinton and James Comey, the FBI chief fired by Trump.

My I’ve searched, and found nothing definitive on who will actually be on Muller’s hit parade.

My money would be on it be either Paul Manafort or Roger Stone, but we should find out in the next couple of days

Resurgent Germany, Revolt in Spain, Right Wing Populists Taking Power, What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

I don’t think that Catalonian independence would happen if the Madrid had even the vaguest concept of deconfliction strategies.

Unfortunately for Spain, and for Catalonia, Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy has based his entire career on n*****baiting the Catalans and the Basques, so everything is going pear shaped:

The Spanish government has taken control of Catalonia, dissolved its parliament and announced new elections after secessionist Catalan MPs voted to establish an independent republic, pushing the country’s worst political crisis in 40 years to new and dangerous heights.

Speaking on Friday evening, the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, said his cabinet had fired the regional president, Carles Puigdemont, and ordered regional elections to be held on 21 December.

Rajoy said the Catalan government had been removed along with the head of the regional police force, the Mossos d’Esquadra. The Catalan government’s international “embassies” are also to be shut down.


The actions came hours after Spain’s national unity suffered a decisive blow when Catalan MPs in the 135-seat regional parliament voted for independence by a margin of 70 votes to 10.

 If Madrid’s response had been a bit more measured, this would not be racing toward disaster.

And the Mistake Jet Cluster F%$# Continues

The F-35 was intended to be a major technical leap, not just in performance (it isn’t), and not just in stealth (it isn’t), but also in terms of its availability and maintenance overhead.

It turns put that it has failed the last bit as well:

The Pentagon is accelerating production of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 jet even though the planes already delivered are facing “significantly longer repair times” than planned because maintenance facilities are six years behind schedule, according to a draft audit.

The time to repair a part has averaged 172 days — “twice the program’s objective” — the Government Accountability Office, Congress’s watchdog agency, found. The shortages are “degrading readiness” because the fighter jets “were unable to fly about 22 percent of the time” from January through August for lack of needed parts.

The Pentagon has said soaring costs to develop and produce the F-35, the costliest U.S. weapons system, have been brought under control, with the price tag now projected at $406.5 billion. But the GAO report raises new doubts about the official estimate that maintaining and operating them will cost an additional $1.12 trillion over their 60-year lifetime.

Already, the agency said in the draft obtained by Bloomberg News, the Defense Department “must stretch its resources to meet the needs of continued system development and production while at the same time sustain the more than 250 aircraft it has already fielded.”

In addition to this, it has been revealed that the first 108 F-35s produced will never be combat capable, so something around $40 billion has been flushed down the toilet:

The new F-35 program executive officer, U.S. Navy vice admiral Mat Winter, said his office is exploring the option of leaving 108 aircraft in their current state because the funds to upgrade them to the fully combat-capable configuration would threaten the Air Force’s plans to ramp up production in the coming years.

These are most likely the same 108 aircraft the Air Force reportedly needed to upgrade earlier in 2017. Without being retrofitted, these aircraft would become “concurrency orphans” — airplanes left behind in the acquisition cycle after the services purchased them in haste before finishing the development process.

Left unsaid so far is what will become of the 81 F-35s purchased by the Marine Corps and Navy during that same period. If they are left in their current state, nearly 200 F-35s might permanently remain unready for combat because the Pentagon would rather buy new aircraft than upgrade the ones the American people have already paid for.

 What makes this particularly galling is the aircraft that would be left behind by such a scheme were the most expensive F-35s purchased so far. When the tab for all the aircraft purchased in an immature state is added up, the total comes to nearly $40 billion.

If you run the numbers, that is about $370 million for each of these hangar queens.

Imagine what could have done with that money.

I Experienced This in 2004. It Makes Sense.

There has been a diplomatic dust-up over the alleged use of a “sonic weapon” against US diplomatic personnel.

An extensive investigation by Cuban authorities has revealed that the noises in questions were cicadas and crickets.

I was in northwest Baltimore City in 2004, when the cicadas, Brood X technically, came out, and the noise levels were intense, so I know how disruptive it can be:

The US pulled the bulk of its diplomats from Cuba in September, blaming attacks on its staff that caused hearing loss and concussions. Cuba has denied any involvement, and now it is offering a counter-explanation: The alleged “sonic attacks” are coming from cicadas and crickets.

That detail comes from an AP report on a television special aired in Cuba yesterday to refute the US narrative about flagging diplomatic relations.

“We compared the spectrums of the sounds and evidently this common sound is very similar to the sound of a cicada,” Lt. Col. Juan Carlos Molina, a Cuban government expert, said on the television broadcast Alleged Sonic Attacks. The program also claimed sufficiently loud insect noises could “produce hearing loss, irritation and hypertension in situations of prolonged exposure.”

The US embassy was only reopened in 2016. Since the attacks, the Trump administration, which opposes normalizing relations with Cuba, has expelled Cuban representatives from the US and issued a warning against travel to the island nation.

If there were a brood coming out, I could see how it could cause all these symptoms.

The din of a cicada brood is indescribable.

I Demand to See the Original Birth Certificate!

Australian politics has been thrown into disarray after 5 MPs were ruled ineligible to serve for holding dual citizenship:

The Australian deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce, and four senators have been ruled ineligible to sit in parliament by the high court, with only the National party’s Matt Canavan and NXT’s Nick Xenophon surviving a challenge that has hung over seven parliamentarians since their dual citizenship was discovered in July and August.

The court’s unanimous decision to uphold a strict reading of the constitutional disqualification of foreign citizens will trigger a byelection in the New South Wales seat of New England, won comfortably by Joyce, the National party leader, at the 2016 election. The court’s ruling also forced the deputy National party leader, Fiona Nash, and One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts out of the Senate. Two Greens senators, Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters, who had already resigned, were confirmed as ineligible by the court.

Joyce’s exit strips Malcolm Turnbull’s government of its one-seat majority in the House of Representatives for now, but he could return through a byelection on 2 December.


In a joint decision the justices rejected the commonwealth’s argument that MPs or senators would need to have knowledge of their dual citizenship in order to be disqualified.

Speaking after the decision, Joyce, who was born in Australia but held New Zealand citizenship by descent from his father, said he had “no reason to believe that … I was a citizen of any other country than Australia”.

Joyce said the decision was “tough” but he was not “totally surprised” by it. He said he would not “cry into his beer” but rather prepare for the byelection in New England.

The Labor opposition rounded on the government, with its leader, Bill Shorten, claiming Australia now has “a minority government”:

Joyce broke the law and as a result, we now have a minority government. Turnbull should’ve stood him aside, terrible judgement once again.

— Bill Shorten (@billshortenmp) October 27, 2017

It is the silly season down under as well, it appears.

Death Wears Fuzzy Bunny Slippers

It turns out that while waiting for the literal end of the world, nuclear crews spend a lot of time waiting ……… and waiting ……… and waiting ……… and waiting ……… and waiting.

Two guys a hundred feet underground for 24+ hours waiting for the call that they hope never comes.

One is watching the dials, and the other one gets comfortable and relaxed so that they will be sharp when his turn comes to watch the dials.

Snuggies and fuzzy bunny slippers are a not infrequent part of the latter regime, hence the most awesome unit patch ever.


Have a Halloween meme video:


Commitment to Transparency, My Ass

There was never an indictment, because it was determined that this would serve to alert the Japanese that their codes had been broken, but what was interesting to me was that, 70 years after the fact, the government was still trying to keep this cloaked in secrecy:

Newly published documents by the National Security Archive reveal why a grand jury refused to prosecute a Chicago Tribune reporter during World War II for a leak.

Correspondent Stanley Johnston was accused of revealing the United States cracked a Japanese code, which alerted the military to Japanese war plans before the Battle of Midway. A Tribune editor attributed the source of information to “naval intelligence.”

A prosecution was contemplated under the Espionage Act, but the government backed off because they feared what may happen if a trial publicized that the U.S. compromised the Japanese code.

The Justice Department under President Barack Obama fought against a lawsuit filed by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. It lost when a district court ruled in 2015 that disclosure would “result in a more complete public record of this historic event” and affirm the government is “open, in all respects, to scrutiny by the people.”

Yet, the government appealed, and it was not until September 2016, when the appeals court ruled against the government’s claim that a federal court had no jurisdiction to order the release of transcripts, that an effort to keep 75 year-old documents secret came to an end.

This is a 75 year old secret, and Barack Obama and his Evil Minions felt compelled to keep it under wraps, because ……… Worst Constitutional law professor ever.

One would think that Obama was working for the US state security apparatus, not the other way around.

Our Friends in the Ukraine

There are now indications that the Ukraine is a major contributor to the recent rapid advancement in the North Korean ICBM program.

The only question is whether the technology transfer id the result of corruption or espionage.

My money is on the latter:

Pyongyang’s rogue missile-firing has evoked a commotion among its neighbours. But the anger has turned into threats after Kim Jong-un’s regime astounded the world on July 4 – Independence Day in the United States – with its first intercontinental ballistic missile, which flew almost 1,000 kilometers after being launched.

The Hwasong-14, which means ‘fire star’ in Korean, reached an altitude of 2,802 km and traveled 933 kilometers east into the Sea of Japan after a 39-minute flight.


The international community had previously been told that it could take more than 10 years before Pyongyang could come up with an ICBM prototype that might pose a substantial threat – until Hwasong-14 skirted across the airspace of northern Japan.


The Russian Defence Ministry initially believed the missile was merely one of the many makeshift “toys” that the Kim regime liked to parade, but the Pentagon confirmed shortly after that it was the real deal.

Russian missile experts who examined photos of Hwasong-14 were quoted as saying the North Korean ICBMs may be copycat versions of long-range missiles made by the Soviet Union, such as the SS-18 Satan, capable of carrying multiple warheads with independently targetable reentry vehicles, Kanwa Defense Review has said.

The Hwasong missiles bear all the hallmarks of the SS-18, and one telling indicator is its strikingly similar fairings.

An initial analysis of the known trajectory and payload of the Hwasong family has lent fresh evidence to conjecture that Pyongyang may have obtained key ICBM technology from the Ukraine-based Yuzhnoye Design Office, which was once a Soviet Union bastion for rockets and advanced weaponry research and development, but is now allegedly laden with debt.


North Korea’s ability to “skip grades” in missile technology, notably in regard to composite materials, solid fuels, and warhead thermo-protection, has spooked analysts, who now suspect the regime may have taken lessons from outside, given that Pyongyang is hard pressed to even feed its own population.

“Since 2000, Pyongyang has been sending spies to Ukraine, sometimes via Moscow, forcing the latter of tip-off Kiev to intercept [them]. But it appears that the strained ties between Moscow and Kiev are now playing into Pyongyang’s hand,” an observer said.

Or they are just paying money.

Even if Pyongyang got the plans for the rocket, getting the necessary manufacturing and systems expertise to make sense of those plans a non trivial endeavor.  (It’s probably more difficult for spies to get the latter)

That’s why my guess is that someone at the Yuzhnoye Design Office got paid for the information.

A Bit Late to Admit This

As I noted in April, the rag-f%$#ing of likely Sanders voters did not appear the result of, “Entirely innocent incompetence.”

The New York City Board of Elections is admitting it broke state and federal law when it improperly removed voters from the rolls ahead of the presidential primary last spring, including more than 117,000 voters in Brooklyn.

That’s according to a draft consent decree announced Tuesday— nearly a year after the Board was sued in federal court for violating the National Voter Registration Act and state election law.

The Brooklyn voter purge was first reported by WNYC just days before last spring’s primary election.

As a part of the settlement, the Board agreed to a series of remedial measures that will be in place at least through the next presidential election, November 2020 — pending court approval. The deal restores the rights of improperly purged voters and establishes a comprehensive plan to prevent illegal voter purges in future elections.

You know, the fact that these bastards got to say, “My bad,” and walk into the sunset without being frog-marched out of their offices in handcuffs kind of honks me off.

Yeah, I’m still bitter over this sh%$.

Headline of the Day

The DNC Picked a Bunch of Sleazy Lobbyists as Superdelegates, Can’t Figure out Why No One Is Donating.

It’s an on-point analysis of a rather anodyne story at Politico on DNC fund raising panic, but there is a few gems of unvarnished truth out there:

Party officials involved in fundraising say donors repeatedly turn them away with a “try again next year,” especially since it became clear there won’t be an official party autopsy from 2016. Democrat Jon Ossoff’s loss in his much-hyped special congressional election in Atlanta’s suburbs in June has also depressed donor enthusiasm.


DNC members themselves have now been asked to give or raise $1,000 each, some said — a request people who’ve been around the committee for decades say they can’t remember being made before.

Not only the party base, but the big donors are demanding reforms.

I don’t think that the moneybags wing of the Party are looking to implement a socialist agenda, but I do think that they realize that they spent a huge amount of money on a hapless candidate and a hapless party establishment, and they want to see changes.

I do not expect to see meaningful changes until dissatisfaction reaches a crescendo, because there are simply too many people who earn a living by mismanaging Democratic party operations.