Year: 2018

For the New Year, I’ll Be Rooting for the Isolationist Right

Not the “Right” part, I remain a pinko, but the “Isolationist” part.

These days, the only people who seem to be opposing the the US archipelago of wars around the world are the isolationist right, as shown by this essay in American Conservative.

Unfortunately, the (very) few mainstream anti-War voices on the left are largely silent these days, because of the fear of being seen as supporting Trump, but we do have meaningful movement supporting a reduction of America’s imperial ambitions on the right:

The mainstream media has attacked President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria as impulsive, blindsiding his own national security team. But detailed, published accounts of the policy process over the course of the year tell a very different story. They show that senior national security officials and self-interested institutions have been playing a complicated political game for months aimed at keeping Trump from wavering on our indefinite presence on the ground in Syria.

The entire episode thus represents a new variant of a familiar pattern dating back to Vietnam in which national security advisors put pressure on reluctant presidents to go along with existing or proposed military deployments in a war zone. The difference here is that Trump, by publicly choosing a different policy, has blown up their transparent schemes and offered the country a new course, one that does not involve a permanent war state.

The article is worth a read, as well as some serious consideration for the upcoming year.

Someone Is Losing Their Job

It appears that the shutdown of Gatwick airport may have been caused by police drones, and not some nefarious terrorist or prankster:

Some of the drone sightings which kept Gatwick Airport on lockdown for 36 hours may have been reports of Sussex Police’s own aircraft, the force’s highest-ranking officer admitted yesterday.

Police received 115 reports of sightings in the area surrounding the airfield, including 92 confirmed by Sussex Police’s Chief Constable Giles York as coming from “credible people”.

But the force launched its own drone to search for what officers believed at the time to be malicious aircraft deliberately being flown above the runway in the early hours of December 19 to intentionally force Gatwick to shut down.

Well, the behavior to this point DOES seem to reek of authorities covering up their own incompetence.

Gatwick was shut down for 3 days at the height of the holiday travel season, and if this turns out to be a police screw up, there will be hell to pay.

Hoo Boy!

You know the Russian meddling in the Senate election where Doug Jones defeated Roy “10 Commandments” Moore?

It not turns out that it was a false flag operation by a Democratic Party consultant: (I’m sure that he was well remunerated)

Reid Hoffman, the tech billionaire whose money was spent on Russian-style social media deception in a Senate race last year, apologized on Wednesday, saying in a statement that he had not approved the operation and did not support such tactics in American politics.

Why am I thinking that Mr. Hoffman is lying through his teeth, and that he either knew what was going on, or was willfully blind?

Mr. Hoffman said he had no idea that political operatives whose work he had financed had used fakery on Facebook and Twitter in the special Senate election a year ago in Alabama. But he had an obligation to track how his money was spent, he said, and he promised to exercise more care in the future.


The New York Times and The Washington Post reported last week that $100,000 from Mr. Hoffman was spent on a deceptive social media campaign to aid Doug Jones, the Democratic candidate, who barely defeated the Republican, Roy Moore.


They also used thousands of Twitter accounts to make it appear as if automated Russian bot accounts were following and supporting Mr. Moore, according to an internal report on the project. The apparent Russian support for Mr. Moore drew broad news media coverage.

(emphasis mine)

It really remarkable just how facile the Democratic Party political consultant community has in stepping on their own penises.

Yet another example of how the Dems snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

We really need to fire the whole lot of them.

Gee, You Make Their Working Conditions Hell, and Attack Their Pay and Benefits, and They Walk Away

After over 2 decades of a war on the teaching profession, it appears that teachers are now fleeing the professions:

Teachers and other public education employees, such as community-college faculty, school psychologists and janitors, are quitting their jobs at the fastest rate on record, government data shows.

A tight labor market with historically low unemployment has encouraged Americans in a variety of occupations to quit their jobs at elevated rates, with the expectation they can find something better. But quitting among public educators stands out because the field is one where stability is viewed as a key perk and longevity often rewarded.

The educators may be finding new jobs at other schools, or leaving education altogether: The departures come alongside protests this year in six states where teachers in some cases shut down schools over tight budgets, small raises and poor conditions.


The rising number of departures among public education workers is in contrast with 2009, when the economy was first emerging from a deep recession. Then, the rate was just 48 per 10,000 public education workers, a record low.


School districts have reported since at least 2015 having trouble finding enough qualified teachers to fill open slots, leading more states to open up temporary teaching jobs to people with no official training, according to the Learning Policy Institute, a nonpartisan education-policy research group. The rate at which qualified teachers are leaving the profession is likely to exacerbate that trend.

In the 12 months ended in October, one million workers quit public-education positions, according to the most recent Labor Department data. More than 10 million Americans work in the field.


In at least 12 states, public education budgets are down at least 7% from 2009 levels, adjusted for inflation, according to an analysis of census data by the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Teacher pay across the country, adjusted for inflation, is now 5% lower than it was in 2009, according to data from the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union.

Wages and salaries for public-education workers rose 2.2% in the third quarter from a year earlier, not adjusting for inflation. That matched the largest annual raise in nearly a decade, but was still well below the 3.1% annual increase in pay private-sector workers received in the third quarter, according to the Labor Department.

Sluggish pay gains have been tougher to swallow as more states require that teachers earn master’s degrees to work in the classroom, an expensive proposition that led more teachers to take out loans.

Tensions over inadequate pay and per-pupil funding levels came to a head in 2018 during statewide protests, in some cases shutting classrooms for as many as nine school days. The strikes produced modest gains in the states where they occurred—teachers in Arizona, West Virginia and Oklahoma all received raises—but they also popularized images of dilapidated textbooks and school rooms and portraits of teachers who took on odd jobs to make ends meet.

People are no longer entering the profession, enrollment in education schools has fallen as well.

They have been systematically removing pay, benefits, and job security while making the working conditions more punitive, and they are surprised when less people want that life?

This is econ 101, and kindergarten labor relations.

I Wish I Could Talk to My Dad about This

Before the Demolition

Developers in the Bay Area have a trick: They historically significant properties, and get permission to renovate them

They then demolish the buildings, and rebuild them as urban mansions, and then they resell the properties to overpaid Silicon Valley executives for millions of dollars in profits.

It is a plague on the Fog City, andthe City Planning Commission has just opened up a can of whup-ass on a developer who did this:

A property owner who illegally demolished a 1936 Twin Peaks house designed by a renowned modernist must rebuild an exact replica of the home rather than the much larger structure the property owner had proposed replacing it with, the City Planning Commission ruled this week.


In a unanimous 5-0 vote late Thursday night, the commission also ordered that the property owner — Ross Johnston, through his 49 Hopkins LLC — include a sidewalk plaque telling the story of the original house designed by architect Richard Neutra, the demolition and the replica.

The commission directive, unprecedented in San Francisco, comes more than a year after the home at 49 Hopkins Ave., known as the Largent House, was almost entirely knocked down. All that remained of the white, two-story redwood-and-concrete-block home was a garage door and frame.

Johnston had received planning permission only to remodel with a design that would have largely kept the first floor of the existing home intact.


The case attracted attention because Neutra is considered one of the most important modern architects and because it highlighted the trend of speculators illegally razing modest homes with the intention of replacing them with mega-homes. The new houses can fetch upward of $5 million, double or triple the price of an average house in already expensive San Francisco.

Planning Commissioner Dennis Richards said he hopes the commission’s action in the 49 Hopkins case will send a message to speculators accustomed to ignoring city planning and building laws with few or no repercussions. 

My dad spent his professional career as a city planner, and it was sh%$ like this that made him tremendously cynical about his chosen profession.

I think that he would have pleased and surprised, as well as a bit dubious about the final outcome, at this news, but I’ll never know.

Snark of the Day

I am not a fan of Nancy Pelosi.

Whatever her personal politics, it is clear that as speaker she is hostage to the big dollar donors in her official capacity as Speaker, and her obsession with “pay-go” is a disaster for the party and the country.

That being said, her characterization of Trump’s wall proposal as a, “Beaded Curtain,” is brilliant:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) joked in a recent interview that President Trump‘s proposal for a wall along the southern border has shifted from a cement structure to a “beaded curtain.”

“First of all, the fact … that he says, ‘We’re going to build a wall with cement, and Mexico’s going to pay for it’ while he’s already backed off of the cement — now he’s down to, I think, a beaded curtain or something, I’m not sure where he is,” Pelosi said in an interview with USA Today published Tuesday.

I love it.


Not My Happy Face

Everyone left work early today, so I decided to get Chinese at my favorite Chinese buffet in the area, as it is on the way home.

I really shouldn’t, because I tend to eat too much, and most of that stuff is really not particularly healthy, particularly if, as I do, you do lots of dumplings, kabobs, and ribs.

Well, it appears that the universe conspired to punish me for this act, because when I went in and paid for my meal, you pay upon entry, they gave me the senior citizen discount WITHOUT MY ASKING.

Hell, I didn’t even know that they HAD a senior citizen discount.

I am not amused.  Not ……… One ……… Bit.

Can We Just Give the Whales Weapons and Let the Chips Fall Where They May?

On Wednesday, Japan announced that it was pulling out of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), a step that will allow it to restart commercial whaling in the spring. The move comes after a failed attempt to get the IWC to set legal quotas for legal hunting by its members. For whales, the news is good and bad: the move with shift Japan’s hunting to its territorial waters, and away from the healthier populations in the Antarctic.

The plunge in whale populations in the 1970s ultimately resulted in an international moratorium on the commercial hunting of whales. The IWC allowed some exemptions for subsistence hunting among native populations, and left a loophole for killing whales in the course of scientific research. Japan exploited that loophole, sending large vessels to the Antarctic that killed hundreds of whales annually, with their meat ending up for sale in Japan.

But Australia, which has put whale sanctuaries in place to protect Antarctic populations, took Japan to the International Court of Justice and won a suit over the practice. The International Court determined that there was little to Japan’s claim that its whaling program was for science, as the country had never explored non-lethal alternatives or determined whether the number of whales it killed was appropriate to answer any scientific questions.

Japan has literally years of whale meat stored on ice, because even the Japanese don’t want to eat cetacean flesh any more.

This is a pissing contents engaged on the backs of aquatic mammals.

I’m hoping that someone blows up the whole f%$#ing fleet, but I’m a very bad person.

India: 1 — Amazon and Walmart: 0

India has significant restrictions on foreign goods entering its consumer markets, and now it has ruled that Amazon and Walmart cannot buy Indian sellers to use as a pass thru for its products:

The Indian government dealt a surprise blow on Wednesday to the e-commerce ambitions of Amazon and Walmart, effectively barring the American companies from selling products supplied by affiliated companies on their Indian shopping sites and from offering their customers special discounts or exclusive products.

If strictly interpreted, the new policies could force significant changes in the India strategies of the retail giants. Amazon might have to stop competing with independent sellers and end its offerings of proprietary products like its Echo smart speakers in India, its top emerging market.

For Walmart, which spent $16 billion this year to buy 77 percent of Flipkart, India’s leading online retailer, the new rules could hamper its strategy of selling clothing and other products under its own private brands and prevent it from using its supply-chain expertise and clout with retailers to drive down prices for Indian consumers.

Or drive wages down, and local vendors and manufacturers out out of business.

And then they use their monopsony power over the labor market to turn their workplaces into freakish hellscapes.

It’s just what they do.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India initially courted foreign companies to invest more in the country after his 2014 election victory, but his administration has turned protectionist as his party’s re-election prospects have dimmed in recent months. Mr. Modi has increasingly sought to bolster Indian firms and curb foreign ones through new policies, including one that requires foreign companies like Visa, Mastercard and American Express to store all data about Indians on computers inside the country. The government has also declared its intention to impose tough new rules on the technology industry.

The new e-commerce rules seemed to be an attempt by Mr. Modi to placate small traders, who have been hurt by his tax and financial policies, ahead of national elections next May, analysts said. The changes would also help Paytm, a local payments company that operates a digital mall, and Reliance Industries, an Indian conglomerate with online retail ambitions that is controlled by Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man and a political patron of Mr. Modi.

Under Indian law, foreign-owned retailers were already barred from selling any products directly on their own e-commerce sites. In response, Amazon and Flipkart, which has long had foreign investors, set up partially owned affiliated companies to sell products like groceries, electronics and books on their sites. The arrangements gave them more control over customer service and allowed them to sell some products at prices below those offered by independent sellers.

The new policies appear to close that loophole. They also prevent the online platforms from striking deals to sell products exclusively, which they frequently do now for hot items like new phone models.

Modi is a religious bigot and a a fascist.

Amazon and Walmart are Amazon and Walmart.

My hope is not that one or the other wins, but that somehow, both sides lose.

I Firmly Believe That If You Can’t Fool All of the People All of the Time You Should Start Breeding Them for Stupidity*

I think that we have determined a method to Valdimir Putin’s various machinations.

He is determined to ensure that blithering idiots and delusional megalomaniacs take power in countries he considers a crucial to Russian interests:

Russia warned the U.S. against any effort to influence the royal succession in Saudi Arabia, offering its support to embattled Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who’s under continuing pressure over the killing of a government critic.

President Vladimir Putin’s envoy to the Middle East said Prince Mohammed has every right to inherit the throne when the ailing 82-year-old King Salman dies.

“Of course we are against interference. The Saudi people and leadership must decide such questions themselves,” Mikhail Bogdanov, who is also deputy foreign minister, said in an interview in Moscow on Tuesday. “The King made a decision and I can’t even imagine on what grounds someone in America will interfere in such an issue and think about who should rule Saudi Arabia, now or in the future. This is a Saudi matter.”

When you look at the various allegations of meddling by Putin, allegations that he supported Trump,. Erdoğan, le Pen, Modi, and now MBS.

It makes his life a lot easier when people that you have to deal with are stupid, monomaniacal,  and/or delusional.

*President Adam Weisshaupt (from Dave Sim’s Cerebus)

First, You Burn down Parliament, and THEN You Go with Slave Labor

It appears that Hungarian PM Viktor Orban has moved too quickly to make slave labor a reality in his country:

Viktor Orban, the far-right prime minister of Hungary, has been confronted by an unusually persistent wave of street protests after pushing through a bill this month that could require workers to put in up to 400 hours of overtime — a measure that opponents call a “slave law.”

About 5,000 demonstrators took to the streets of Budapest again on Friday, after President Janos Ader signed the bill into law. In a radio interview Friday morning, Mr. Orban dismissed opposition to the changes as “hysterical shouting.”

Since re-entering office in 2010, Mr. Orban has made a series of moves that have set off alarms among European allies and others in Hungary: curbing judicial independence, restricting news media freedom and plurality, and blatantly enriching his business allies. But few of his actions have ignited such anger as the changes to the labor law.

What does the law say?

The amendments to the Hungarian labor code passed by the governing majority in Parliament raise the yearly cap on overtime to 400 hours from 250, and gives companies three years instead of one to pay for the work.

In some cases it also lets them avoid paying extra for overtime, allowing them to compensate some employees at their regular hourly rate instead, experts said.


Analysts say the labor law changes have struck a rare chord among ordinary Hungarians, including outside the opposition heartland of the capital, Budapest, because the issue affects their daily lives.


Why did the government take this step?

The government needs Hungarians to accept longer hours because the country is running out of workers.

As many as 350,000 Hungarians, or more than 5 percent of the country’s working-age population, are working in another part of the European Union, according to Mr. Kollo.

These people have left to work elsewhere because pay is complete sh%$ in Hungary.

You have people voting with their feet.

Opponents of the changes argue that they were passed as a favor to multinational companies like German automakers, which have built plants in the country in recent years and whose economic model depends on a cheap and flexible work force.

And there you have it:  It’s a desperate race to the bottom, and this is a (possibly the) core EU value, which, ironically enough, has denied Orban the freedom of action that (for example) Mussolini had in the 1920s.

It will be fascinating to see where this ends, but my guess is that it’s time for the ordinary Hungarian to get the f%$# out of Dodge.

Unleashing the Power of the Private Sector

The price inflation in medicaid has tripled after Iowa privatized the program.

Obviously, it’s a limited sample, but when one considers that this has almost always been the case with the private sector running healthcare, it should come as not surprise:

The average cost of insuring an Iowan on Medicaid has climbed nearly three times as fast since the state hired private companies to manage the program, when compared to the previous six years, new state figures show.

Since fiscal 2017, the first full year of privatization, the per-member cost of Iowa’s Medicaid program has risen an average of 4.4 percent per year, according to the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency. In the previous six years, the per-member cost rose an average of 1.5  percent per year, the agency said.

The new cost figures come amid continuing controversy over whether Iowa should have hired private companies to run the $5 billion program. The shift’s supporters said it would slow growth in health care spending on the more than 600,000 poor or disabled Iowans covered by Medicaid.

It was never about making Medicaid working better, it was about making it worse, as well as being about shoveling money to politically connected contractors.

This is a feature, not a bug.

According to the Customs of My People, Chinese and a Movie on Christmas

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Shameik Moore … Miles Morales (voice)
Jake Johnson … Peter B. Parker (voice)
Hailee Steinfeld … Gwen Stacy (voice)
Mahershala Ali … Uncle Aaron (voice)
Brian Tyree Henry … Jefferson Davis (voice)
Lily Tomlin … Aunt May (voice)
Luna Lauren Velez … Rio Morales (voice)
Zoë Kravitz … Mary Jane (voice)
John Mulaney … Spider-Ham (voice)
Kimiko Glenn … Peni Parker (voice)
Nicolas Cage … Spider-Man Noir (voice)
Kathryn Hahn … Doc Ock (voice)
Liev Schreiber … Wilson Fisk (voice)
Chris Pine … Peter Parker (voice)
Natalie Morales … Miss Calleros (voice)
Edwin H. Bravo … Brooklyn Visions Security Guard (voice)
Oscar Isaac … Interesting Person #1 (voice)
Greta Lee … Interesting Person #2 (voice)
Stan Lee … Stan (voice)
Jorma Taccone … Green Goblin / Last Dude (voice)
Joaquín Cosio … Scorpion (voice)
Marvin “Krondon” Jones III … Tombstone (voice) (as Marvin Jones III)

Directors: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
Writers: Phil Lord, Rodney Rothman

Yes, it’s better than the trailer

This is a spoiler free review, of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and I will not go into the minutae of the plot beyond what you can see in the (attached) trailer.

Charlie and I saw this, while Sharon* and Nat saw Mary Queen of Scotts, because Sharon* was not interested in seeing an animated superhero movie, and I have always had a visceral loathing of Mary I of Scotland, so I did not want to see the movie.

Natalie was up for both, but went, and enjoyed, Mary Queen of Scotts, which was probably best for her.

The basic plot is that Wilson Fisk (The Kingpin) is engaging in dimension spanning experiments to further his nefarious (but understandable) aims.

This threatens the very fabric of existence, and brings other Spider beings into Miles Morales’ universe.

Miles Morales must learn how to use his powers and work with other Spider folks in order to do this.

It’s a rather ordinary Spider-Man plot with a multiverse thrown in, but really, you don’t go to this movie for the plot, you go to the movie for the characters and the art direction.

The characterization, and dialogue, are very good.

“How good?”, you ask?

So good that I did not find Nicholas Cage, who voiced Spider-Man Noir, annoying.

The performances are all top flight, with Kathryn Hahn’s performance as Doc Ock, and Hailee Steinfeld’s performance as Gwen Stacy being the strongest.

As to the art direction, it was magnificent.

First, they had a clear vision, and a reason to use animation as a result.

Second, their vision recreated the medium of the printed comic book to a degree I have never seen.

In addition to using the classic boxes for internal dialogue, they treated the background in a way that evoked the occasionally problematic color registration issues present in comic books, along with the occasional captioned sound effects.

One health note here:  If you have an issue with flashing lights,  migraines or a seizure disorder, it might be triggering.

Nat was having a mild migraine yesterday, which is why it was good that she saw Mary Queen of Scotts instead. You probably want to make sure that you are ready for what is a very vibrant style on that day.

One final note, it has what will be one of  Stan Lee’s final cameos, with him telling Milo that about his Spider-Man costume, “It always fits — eventually,”  pulls at the heart strings.

There is also a blink-and-you-miss-it call out to Steve Ditko.

Finally, (do I need to say this for a Marvel Studios Film?) SIT THROUGH THE WHOLE CREDITS.  Seriously.

Overall rating: 9 of 10.

As to the Chinese food, we had dinner after seeing the movies, and I shared Peking Duck with Sharon* at David Chu’s, a local kosher Chinese eatery, which I highly recommend.

That duck is why I did not write the review last night. It’s delicious, but it is perhaps the best sleeping aid that I have ever encountered.

I was sleeping like a baby at 8:30 pm.

*Love of my life, light of the  cosmos, she  who must be obeyed, my wife.

Italy Just Caved

The Italian government has capitulated to Brussels on its budget:

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte forged a deal with populist leaders to submit a revised budget proposal to the European Commission, in a bid to avert fines against Italy.

Conte’s euroskeptic deputies Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio, who hold most of the political power in the administration, set aside their opposition to concessions at talks running late into Sunday night and agreed on a new package to send to Brussels, government officials said.

Because shrinking your economy is the best way to get out of debt, if you are a mad dog or a German economist.

The Italian budget is already in primary surplus (excluding debt payments), but more cuts are demanded because of an unwillingness to recognize that Brussels’, and Berlin’s, world view is creating poverty and right wing populism.


I’m surprised that anyone found this in the article, it is tiny:

This way is easier:

— Jaime de Juan-Sanz (@JaimedeJuan) December 13, 2018

What Have They Got to Hide?

Inglewood, California, a municipality with a horrible record on police shootings and other law enforcement misconduct, is planning to destroy police records ahead of a California law coming into force that makes these records public.

My only conclusion is that the actual records will confirm that their problem is far worse than has been reported:

The city of Inglewood has authorized the shredding of more than 100 police shooting and other internal investigation records weeks before a new state law could allow the public to access them for the first time.

The decision, made at a City Council meeting earlier this month, has troubled civil liberties advocates who were behind the state legislation, Senate Bill 1421, which takes effect Jan. 1. The law opens to the public internal investigations of officer shootings and other major uses of force, along with confirmed cases of sexual assault and lying while on duty.

“The legislature passed SB 1421 because communities demanded an end to the secrecy cloaking police misconduct and use of force,” Marcus Benigno, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, said in a statement. “Inglewood PD’s decision to purge records undermines police accountability and transparency against the will of Californians.”


Inglewood City Council approved the destruction of records that have been in the police department’s possession — more than 100 cases — longer than required by law. The city staff report and council resolution describing the action makes no mention of the new police transparency law. Instead it says the affected records are “obsolete, occupy valuable space, and are of no further use to the police department.” It added the traditional method of destroying such records is to shred them.


The Inglewood Police Department has a reputation for secrecy and using excessive force. In 2008, the department’s officers fatally shot four men in as many months, three of whom turned out to be unarmed. The U.S. Department of Justice launched a civil rights probe and found significant flaws in the way the department oversaw use-of-force cases and investigated complaints against officers.

Civil rights advocates still question why Inglewood police opened fire on a couple found sleeping in a car in 2016, killing them both.

I’m sure that the police told the Inglewood City Council, that this was the only way to avoid liability, but that’s a lie.

The only people being protected here are the police, the city will have any defense hamstrung by things like Federal Court Rule 37 on discovery.

Of course, the police did not tell the councilmen about that, because at the end of the day, the police work for the police.

Good Point

The good folks at El Reg make a very good point about how Facebook’s recent problems may pose an existential threat, because, “No one likes a lying asshole.”

Increasingly, we are seeing people looking for ways out of Facebook, and this is why:

Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: Facebook, its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and its COO Sheryl Sandberg, and its public relations people, and its engineers have lied. They have lied repeatedly. They have lied exhaustively. They have lied so much they’ve lost track of their lies, and then lied about them.


By any measure, Facebook as an organization has knowingly, willingly, purposefully, and repeatedly lied. And two reports this week demonstrate that the depth of its lying was even worse than we previously imagined.

Before we dig into the lies, though, it’s worth asking the question: why? Why has the corporation got itself into this position, and why does it have to be dragged kicking and screaming, time and again, to confront what it already knows to be true?


Mark Zuckerberg knows that all too well, and as internal emails handed over to the British Parliament and then published make clear, the top tier of Facebook was highly focused on that question of existential dread: how do we avoid becoming the next MySpace, Geocities, Google Plus, or Friendster?


And the answer was the smart one: make yourself a part of the digital ecosystem. Yes, Facebook was completely reliant on its users, but everyone else wanted those users, too, and while it had them, the corporation needed to make sure it became enmeshed in as many other systems as possible.


Facebook started cutting shadier and shadier deals to protect its bottom line. Its policy people started developing language that carefully skirted around reality; and its lawyers began working on semantic workarounds so that the Silicon Valley titan could make what looked like firm and unequivocal statements on privacy and data control, but in fact allowed things to continue on exactly as they had. What was being shared was not always completely clear.


Well, you can do all that, and still Facebook will know where you are and sell that information to others.

To which the natural question is: how? Well, we have what we believe to be the technical answer. But the real answer is: because it lies. Because that information is valuable to it. Because that information forms the basis of mutually reinforcing data-sharing agreements with all the companies that could one day kill Facebook by simply shrugging their shoulders.


What Zuckerberg didn’t factor into his strategic masterstroke, however, was one critical detail: no one likes a liar. And when you lie repeatedly, to people’s faces, you go from liar to lying asshole. And lying asshole is enough to make people delete your app.

And to think, only a year ago, people were mooting Mark Zuckerberg as a presidential candidate.