Month: April 2019

Correlation? Causation? ¯_(ツ)_/¯

Scientists have identified what they claim is a biomarker for chronic fatigue syndrome.

I am not so sure.

What they are describing is a marker for a stressed immune system, and there are any number of conditions that stress the immune system.

What they need to do is look at how this test works for people with other related conditions: Depression, mitochondrial disorders, McArdle’s disorder, etc.

Then again, I’m an engineer, not a doctor, dammit!*

People suffering from a debilitating and often discounted disease known as chronic fatigue syndrome may soon have something they’ve been seeking for decades: scientific proof of their ailment.

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have created a blood test that can flag the disease, which currently lacks a standard, reliable diagnostic test.

“Too often, this disease is categorized as imaginary,” said Ron Davis, PhD, professor of biochemistry and of genetics. When individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome seek help from a doctor, they may undergo a series of tests that check liver, kidney and heart function, as well as blood and immune cell counts, Davis said. “All these different tests would normally guide the doctor toward one illness or another, but for chronic fatigue syndrome patients, the results all come back normal,” he said.

The problem, he said, is that they’re not looking deep enough. Now, Davis; Rahim Esfandyarpour, PhD, a former Stanford research associate; and their colleagues have devised a blood-based test that successfully identified participants in a study with chronic fatigue syndrome. The test, which is still in a pilot phase, is based on how a person’s immune cells respond to stress. With blood samples from 40 people — 20 with chronic fatigue syndrome and 20 without — the test yielded precise results, accurately flagging all chronic fatigue syndrome patients and none of the healthy individuals.

The diagnostic platform could even help identify possible drugs to treat chronic fatigue syndrome. By exposing the participants’ blood samples to drug candidates and rerunning the diagnostic test, the scientists could potentially see whether the drug improved the immune cells’ response. Already, the team is using the platform to screen for potential drugs they hope can help people with chronic fatigue syndrome down the line.

They have shown a test for immune response to various stressors, but this does not make it a reliable test for CFS, nor for that matter, does it prove the existence of CFS.

Absent a mechanism, or a more extensive study and comparison to other conditions that resemble, it’s very preliminary to claim proof of anything.

*I love it when I get to go all Dr. McCoy!

A Real Life Wile E. Coyote

Yeah, pretty much

I am referring, of course to Jacob Wohl, who at the young age of 21 years old, has been banned for life as a future’s trader and from twitter, been caught trying to create a bogus accusation against Robert Mueller, and now, caught on tape trying to fabricate a sexual assault claim against Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg:

A pair of right-wing provocateurs are being accused of attempting to recruit young Republican men to level false allegations of sexual assault against Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.

The details of the operatives’ attempt emerged as one man suddenly surfaced with a vague and uncorroborated allegation that Buttigieg had assaulted him. The claim was retracted hours later on a Facebook page appearing to belong to the man.

A Republican source told The Daily Beast that lobbyist Jack Burkman and internet troll Jacob Wohl approached him last week to try to convince him to falsely accuse Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, of engaging him sexually while he was too drunk to consent.

The source who spoke to The Daily Beast said Burkman and Wohl made clear that their goal was to kneecap Buttigieg’s momentum in the 2020 presidential race. The man asked to remain anonymous out of a concern that the resulting publicity might imperil his employment, and because he said Wohl and Burkman have a reputation for vindictiveness.
“The source who spoke to The Daily Beast said Burkman and Wohl made clear that their goal was to kneecap Buttigieg’s momentum in the 2020 presidential race.”

But the source provided The Daily Beast with a surreptitious audio recording of the meeting, which corroborates his account. In it, Wohl appears to refer to Buttigieg as a “terminal threat” to President Donald Trump’s reelection next year.

Seriously, if someone finds the time, could they beat the crap out of these guys?

Live in Obedient Fear, Citizen

It raises the obvious question: If they had a need to keep these records all these years, why do they have a burning need to destroy them now? (It’s a rhetorical question)

More details are coming to light about California’s opacity activists. Faced with impending transparency, a handful of law enforcement agencies decided to fire up the shredders rather than risk turning over police conduct records to the public under the new public records law.

Inglewood’s police department was given the go-ahead to shred years of responsive documents last December in a council meeting that produced no record of discussion on the matter or the council’s determination.

Public records requests filed after the new law went into effect in January uncovered moves made by the Fremont city council to help local police rid themselves of records the public might try to request. The city lowered the retention period for officer-involved shooting records from 25 years to ten and allowed the department to destroy 45 years of police misconduct records it had decided to hold onto until it became inconvenient for it to do so.


Departments are willing to hold onto misconduct/shooting records for decades, but only start destroying them when it looks like they might have to share. Agencies can point to mandated retention periods all they want, but the argument doesn’t wash if they’re only sticklers about it when transparency is being forced on them.

Why you cannot allow the police to police the police.

Mandy Reese Davies Applies

Bill Gates hates Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s tax plan, to which the obvious rejoinder is, “Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?”

Bill Gates says he’s fine with the idea of higher taxes for the rich, but plans like the one being championed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, which target the top income brackets, are too extreme—and could encourage the wealthy to hide their money in offshore accounts.

Gates, in an interview with The Verge, didn’t mention Ocasio-Cortez or her well-publicized tax proposal directly by name, but his focus was clear. While the Microsoft co-founder and world’s second richest man agreed the U.S. could be “more progressive,” he downplayed “extreme” proposals, such as the freshman representative’s plan to raise the top tax rate from 37% to 70%.

“I believe U.S. tax rates can be more progressive. Now, you finally have some politicians who are so extreme that I’d say, ‘No, that’s even beyond,’” Gates said. “You do start to create tax dodging and disincentives, and an incentive to have the income show up in other countries and things. But we can be more progressive without really threatening income generation—what you have left to decide how to spread around.”

Bill Gates made his money in one of the most heavily subsidized industries on earth (copyright and patents are subsidies), and somehow any meaningful tax reform needs to be opposed, because some rich pig will find a way to avoid the taxes, so we have to try something else ……… And the next thing, that won’t work either ……… Rinse, lather, repeat.

You Know the Saying, “It’s not the Crime, it”s the Coverup?”

Even if there was no underlying crime, interfering with the investigation is obstruction of justice, and now some of the Mueller prosecutors are saying that Trump DID obstruct justice, though it should be noted that the sourcing is a bit of a double play combination:

Prosecutors working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded last year that they had sufficient evidence to seek criminal charges against President Donald Trump for obstruction of justice over the president’s alleged pressuring of then FBI Director James Comey in February 2017 to shut down an FBI investigation of the president’s then national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

Privately, the two prosecutors, who were then employed in the special counsel’s office, told other Justice Department officials that had it not been for the unique nature of the case—the investigation of a sitting president of the United States, and one who tried to use the powers of his office to thwart and even close down the special counsel’s investigation—they would have advocated that he face federal criminal charges. I learned of the conclusions of the two former Mueller prosecutors not by any leak, either from them personally or from the office of special counsel. Rather, the two prosecutors disclosed this information in then-confidential conversations with two other federal law enforcement officials, who subsequently recounted what they were told to me.


Independently of the Mueller report, confidential White House records that I have been able to review, as well as correspondence between the president’s attorneys and the special counsel already made public, demonstrate that the president and his attorneys considered Trump’s alleged attempt to shut down the Flynn inquiry to be the most direct threat to Trump’s presidency.


In the course of such cases, prosecutors and FBI agents working for Mueller often interacted with their peers in US attorneys’ offices around the country and in the DOJ’s Criminal Division and Public Integrity Section. Some of Mueller’s prosecutors, who had been detailed from other Justice Department offices, have since returned to their previous jobs or taken new positions in the department. The special counsel’s office was thus less sequestered than is generally believed.

It was against this backdrop that prosecutors working for the special counsel spoke to their peers in the Justice Department. That is how I learned what, in particular, the two Mueller prosecutors had to say about the Flynn investigation. Two people present during one such conversation provided me with detailed and consistent accounts of what the special counsel’s two prosecutors had said to them. A third person present corroborated that the conversation took place but declined to provide details of what was said.

One person who spoke to me reported grappling with the issue of what could be considered a breach of their colleagues’ confidence. But in part because of what they regarded as Attorney General Barr’s misrepresentations of the Mueller report, they believed it was important for the public and Congress to know what Mueller’s prosecutors had themselves privately concluded: that a charge of obstruction of justice was indeed merited by Trump’s actions in the Flynn matter.

Not a surprise.

Neither is Barr’s blatantly corrupt behavior:  He has been covering up for Republican criminals since Iran-Contra.

Pass the Popcorn

It looks like Oliver North has been fired as president of the NRA amid claims that he attempted to force Wayne LaPierre’s resignation by threatening to reveal his self dealing:

National Rifle Association President Oliver North has been ousted after an alleged extortion scheme within the group’s highest-ranking officials came to light on Friday. In a statement, North told the organization he was “informed” he would not be nominated for reelection. North’s term ends Monday.

The NRA’s chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, wrote a letter to the board Thursday accusing North of plotting to remove him from the group by threatening to release to the board “damaging” information about LaPierre. He claimed North, a former Marine Corps lieutenant colonel perhaps best known for his role in the Iran-contra affair, was pressuring him to resign over alleged financial transgressions.

“Delivered by a member of our Board on behalf of his employer, the exhortation was simple: resign or there will be destructive allegations made against me and the NRA,” LaPierre wrote in the letter, which was published Friday by the Wall Street Journal.


On Saturday, at the NRA’s annual meeting in Indianapolis, Richard Childress, a vice president at the NRA, read what amounted to a resignation letter from North that announced and explained his departure.


North continued his resignation letter by saying he believes the NRA should establish a committee to review the organization’s finances, which he said constitute a “clear crisis” that “needs to be dealt with” if the NRA wants to continue to be a viable organization.

The NRA’s board, comprising 76 members, is scheduled to meet Monday.


The Wall Street Journal reported that North, who became NRA president last year, defended himself in a letter to the board Thursday, indicating his actions were “for the good of the NRA.” North previously wrote a longer letter to the board’s executive committee, alleging LaPierre had made more than $200,000 of wardrobe purchases and charged them to a vendor.


The back-and-forth is apparently fueled by a growing rift in a decades-long relationship between the NRA and the advertising agency Ackerman McQueen, according to the Journal. The NRA filed a lawsuit against Ackerman McQueen this month in Virginia alleging the firm had not been transparent in justifying its billings. In a statement to the Journal, Ackerman McQueen argued it was complying and called the lawsuit “frivolous, inaccurate and intended to cause harm to the reputation of our company.”

The suit specifically mentions a contract between Ackerman McQueen and North, the Journal reports, who was hired by the agency last year to host an NRATV documentary program, which LaPierre says nets him “millions of dollars annually.”

LaPierre detailed a phone call between one of his staff members and North that took place Wednesday, in which North allegedly suggested Ackerman McQueen was prepared to release an “allegedly damaging letter to the entire NRA board.”

“The letter would contain a devastating account for our financial status, sexual harassment charges against a staff member, accusations of wardrobe expenses and excessive staff travel expenses,” LaPierre wrote. “But then, Col. North explained the letter would not be sent — if I were to promptly resign as your Executive Vice President. And, if I supported Col. North’s continued tenure as president, he stated he could ‘negotiate’ an ‘excellent retirement’ for me.”

I am very amused.

Fuck Donald Trump’s Very Fine People

6 months after the shooting in Pittsburgh, another MAGA puke shoots up another synagogue, with 1 dead and 4 injured:

The timing, of course, was part of the intent. A gunman with a semiautomatic rifle walked into the Chabad of Poway synagogue during services Saturday morning and opened fire. It was the last day of Passover. At least one person was killed and three were wounded, while uncounted others have again been seared with mortal fear, all in the name of hate.

This is the second deadly synagogue attack in the United States in six months, following the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in October. That was the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history, leaving 11 people dead.

How can this be happening? What kind of shocking step backward is this?

For a while it was possible to look at anti-Semitic incidents — the swastikas painted on walls, the vile anti-Jewish rhetoric found on social media, the street attacks — as aberrational, as strange anachronistic bumps on the generally straight path forward for Jews in society.

But it is becoming clear that anti-Semitism is on the rise, both here and in Europe. France reported a 74% increase in anti-Jewish offenses in 2018, and in Germany, violent anti-Semitic attacks surged by more than 60%. In the U.S., the Anti-Defamation League has documented an alarming rise in hate incidents against Jews. According to the organization, anti-Semitic incidents jumped 57% in 2017 over the previous year. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned in January that “we must rise up against rising anti-Semitism.”

We still have more to learn about the Poway attack, but a 19-year-old suspect has been arrested, and local officials are calling this a hate crime.

Seriously, fuck them, and fuck Trump, and fuck anyone whose cowardice leads them not to speak up.

This Explains a Lot

Twitter has successfully set up algorithmic filters to stop posting by ISIS and al Qaeda, but they have not done the same for Nazis, Klansmen, and other violent white supremacists.

No we know why: It turns out that white supremacists are indistinguishable from Republican Politicians:

At a Twitter all-hands meeting on March 22, an employee asked a blunt question: Twitter has largely eradicated Islamic State propaganda off its platform. Why can’t it do the same for white supremacist content?

An executive responded by explaining that Twitter follows the law, and a technical employee who works on machine learning and artificial intelligence issues went up to the mic to add some context. (As Motherboard has previously reported, algorithms are the next great hope for platforms trying to moderate the posts of their hundreds of millions, or billions, of users.)

With every sort of content filter, there is a tradeoff, he explained. When a platform aggressively enforces against ISIS content, for instance, it can also flag innocent accounts as well, such as Arabic language broadcasters. Society, in general, accepts the benefit of banning ISIS for inconveniencing some others, he said.

In separate discussions verified by Motherboard, that employee said Twitter hasn’t taken the same aggressive approach to white supremacist content because the collateral accounts that are impacted can, in some instances, be Republican politicians.

The employee argued that, on a technical level, content from Republican politicians could get swept up by algorithms aggressively removing white supremacist material. Banning politicians wouldn’t be accepted by society as a trade-off for flagging all of the white supremacist propaganda, he argued.


Though Twitter has rules against “abuse and hateful conduct,” civil rights experts, government organizations, and Twitter users say the platform hasn’t done enough to curb white supremacy and neo-Nazis on the platform, and its competitor Facebook recently explicitly banned white nationalism. Wednesday, during a parliamentary committee hearing on social media content moderation, UK MP Yvette Cooper asked Twitter why it hasn’t yet banned former KKK leader David Duke, and “Jack, ban the Nazis” has become a common reply to many of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s tweets. During a recent interview with TED that allowed the public to tweet in questions, the feed was overtaken by people asking Dorsey why the platform hadn’t banned Nazis. Dorsey said “we have policies around violent extremist groups,” but did not give a straightforward answer to the question. Dorsey did not respond to two requests for comment sent via Twitter DM.


Though Twitter has rules against “abuse and hateful conduct,” civil rights experts, government organizations, and Twitter users say the platform hasn’t done enough to curb white supremacy and neo-Nazis on the platform, and its competitor Facebook recently explicitly banned white nationalism. Wednesday, during a parliamentary committee hearing on social media content moderation, UK MP Yvette Cooper asked Twitter why it hasn’t yet banned former KKK leader David Duke, and “Jack, ban the Nazis” has become a common reply to many of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s tweets. During a recent interview with TED that allowed the public to tweet in questions, the feed was overtaken by people asking Dorsey why the platform hadn’t banned Nazis. Dorsey said “we have policies around violent extremist groups,” but did not give a straightforward answer to the question. Dorsey did not respond to two requests for comment sent via Twitter DM.


“Most people can agree a beheading video or some kind of ISIS content should be proactively removed, but when we try to talk about the alt-right or white nationalism, we get into dangerous territory, where we’re talking about [Iowa Rep.] Steve King or maybe even some of Trump’s tweets, so it becomes hard for social media companies to say all of this ‘this content should be removed,’” Amarasingam said.


Any move that could be perceived as being anti-Republican is likely to stir backlash against the company, which has been criticized by President Trump and other prominent Republicans for having an “anti-conservative bias.” Tuesday, on the same day Trump met with Twitter’s Dorsey, the President tweeted that Twitter “[doesn’t] treat me well as a Republican. Very discriminatory,” Trump tweeted. “No wonder Congress wants to get involved—and they should.”

I understand why any algorithm would flag some Republican politicians as white supremacists, it’s because some Republicans ARE white supremacists.

I am not sure if this is Twitter’s problem, or everyone else’s problem.

Why You Should Never Give to the DCCC, Part Gazillion

The DCCC is still enforcing its blacklist of consultants who work with primary challengers, and they have chosen Dan Lipinski, who is anti-abortion, anti-gay, and who literally inherited his from his father.

Needless to say, this has pissed off a lot of party activists, and I would argue, right thinking people:

Progressive groups are coming to the aid of Marie Newman after at least four consultants dropped her campaign under pressure from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s new policy to cut off vendors working with primary challengers.

Politico reported Friday morning that a consultant had dropped Newman’s campaign as recently as Wednesday. She’s taking a second shot at unseating incumbent Dan Lipinski in Illinois’s 3rd District after she came within 2.2 points of beating him in a 2018 primary. Democracy for America, or DFA, is endorsing Newman and will fundraise for her, a spokesperson for the group told The Intercept. Politico reported that the DCCC was clear with the consultants that if they continued working against Lipinski, their future business with the party would suffer.

The DCCC policy, critics say, will have the effect of protecting white male incumbents defending seats against challengers in an increasingly diverse party. That’s the case with Lipinski, who inherited the seat from his father in 2005 and has retrograde views when it comes to much of the Democratic agenda, including his opposition to marriage equality and abortion rights. He voted against the Affordable Care Act in 2010, the signature legislation House Democratic leaders are trying to save in their campaign against Medicare for All.

While some House Democrats have strongly objected to the DCCC policy, others, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, support it. The DCCC says the policy doesn’t discourage primary challengers and that anyone who wants to run for office can do so without them. The DCCC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“The DCCC would rather stand with a so-called Democrat who has stood against reproductive, immigrant, and LGBT rights and a $15 minimum wage rather than allow a fair competition and choice for voters,” said Alexandra Rojas, head of Justice Democrats. “The Democratic Party leadership is choosing machine politics over ushering in a new generation of leaders and the fundamental idea of democracy. Dan Lipinski needs to go and Marie came within 1,600 votes of defeating him with progressive support in 2018. We look forward to Marie finishing the job, but have not made a formal endorsement at this time.”

Newman told Politico and confirmed to The Intercept that the two mail firms that dropped her campaign did so specifically because of the DCCC policy implemented by Rep. Cheri Bustos, who chairs the committee. Newman said that a number of consultants unaligned with the DCCC reached out to her on Friday and that she is putting her campaign back together. “It’s tricky,” she told The Intercept. “This has been very expensive for my campaign — it’s cost time and money and effort and frustration, but we’re working through it.


NARAL Pro-Choice America endorsed and heavily backed Newman in 2018. The group’s president reacted angrily to the DCCC’s move against her.

Let me be clear: I have very little use for any consultant supported by the DCCC, I think that they over charge and under perform, but the DCCC creating such a blacklist, and choosing Dan Lipinski as their hill to die on, is really beneath contempt.

Local Baltimore Pol Makes the Big Time

Hauling out boxes of “Healthy Holly” books and documents, dozens of federal law enforcement agents Thursday struck homes, businesses and government buildings across Baltimore as an investigation into Mayor Catherine Pugh’s business dealings widened.

FBI agents and IRS officials executed search warrants at her City Hall office, Pugh’s two houses, and offices of the mayor’s allies, as the growing scandal consumed the city’s attention, generated national headlines and provoked fresh calls for the embattled Democratic mayor’s resignation.

“This is too much for our city,” Democratic City Councilman Zeke Cohen said. “It puts all of us under a tremendous strain, and again it is not fair either to the people that live here, or the people that work here.”

The short version of this is that Pugh is accused of using her office to push sales of her self-published “Healthy Holly” children’s books.

It really amazes me just how petty and small time corruption typically is.

Bad Day at the Office

The SpaceX Dragon crew capsule experienced an anomaly during testing at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

In plain language, it blew up.

There are no repeated casualties:

An accident Saturday during an abort engine test on a Crew Dragon test vehicle at Cape Canaveral sent a reddish-orange plume into the sky visible for miles around, a setback for SpaceX and NASA as teams prepare the capsule for its first mission with astronauts.

SpaceX is testing the Crew Dragon ahead of the capsule’s first test flight with astronauts later this year, following a successful Crew Dragon demonstration mission to the International Space Station in early March.

SpaceX confirmed the accident, first reported by Florida Today, in a statement Saturday evening. No injuries were reported.

“Earlier today, SpaceX conducted a series of engine tests on a Crew Dragon test vehicle on our test stand at Landing Zone 1 in Cape Canaveral, Florida,” a company spokesperson said. “The initial tests completed successfully but the final test resulted in an anomaly on the test stand.”

The red plume in the photo is from the nitrogen tetroxide propellant.

Mo Money, Mo Money, Mo Money

Despite the fact that the F-35 technically entered service last year, it is still not combat ready.

The block 4 upgrade is supposed to get it there (maybe) and now we discover that the price tag for this will run into the billions:

Lockheed-Martin Corp.’s F-35 jet, the world’s costliest weapons program, just got even costlier.

The estimated total price for research and procurement has increased by $22 billion in current dollars adjusted for inflation, according to the Pentagon’s latest annual cost assessment of major projects. The estimate for operating and supporting the fleet of fighters over more than six decades grew by almost $73 billion to $1.196 trillion.


Instead, the increase reflects for the first time the current cost estimates for a major set of upgrades planned in coming “Block 4” modifications, according to the report.


But the long-range cost estimate for operating the fleet from 2011 to 2077 was problematic even before the latest independent Pentagon cost projection of an increase to $1.196 trillion. By contrast, the F-35 program office’s latest estimate declined by about $8.5 billion to $1 trillion.

Block 4 is a major upgrade, and includes integrating new weapons beyond its current meager loadout, (including European weapons and the short range Sidewinder), adding electronic warfare capabilities, and adding the ability for the F-35 to communicate with legacy aircraft.

Note that even with this upgrade, the cannon will still not work properly, and the vaunted ALIS maintenance program is still (at best) marginally operational, so the term “combat ready” is a bit of a stretch.

For only a few tens of billions of dollars, which could otherwise be used to rebuild aging infrastructure, educate citizens, and provide healthcare.

The F-35 is an exercise in what James Tiberius Kirk would call, “The illogic of waste.”

Hell Yes

San Francisco is looking at instituting a payroll tax on stock awards.

They are calling it an “IPO Tax”, and I wholeheartedly approve.


San Francisco Supervisor Gordon Mar is circulating a motion that, if approved by a majority of the county board, would place a payroll tax covering stock-based compensation on the November ballot. The proposal, a draft of which was obtained by Bloomberg, would impose a new cost, “for the privilege of engaging in business in the city,” on companies that dole out equity to employees.

Mar told local labor and community activists at a meeting Monday night that he plans to announce the proposal on Wednesday during a subcommittee hearing and to introduce it in the next couple weeks, said Kung Feng, executive director of Jobs With Justice San Francisco, a coalition of labor and community groups that’s among the organizations advocating for the tax. Uber declined to comment because it hasn’t seen the legislation.


“We know corporate IPOs alone did not cause income inequality and our social crises,” Mar plans to say at the Wednesday meeting, according to prepared remarks shared by his office. “But they have, and will, exacerbate it. So today I’m announcing a proposal to tax the wealth generated by IPOs to fund programs to address income inequality.”

The potential law, which some are calling an “IPO tax,” reflects uneasiness in a city with constant reminders of the income gap, from Google buses to Uber drivers sleeping in their cars. A new analysis from San Francisco’s budget office indicates that IPO riches under the current tax system will provide little benefit to the city while driving up housing prices. But there’s a long road to making a new law. For it to take effect, the motion would need to secure majority support from the board of supervisors, win approval from voters in November and survive any potential legal challenges from affected companies.


The money from the tax would support affordable housing, lower-income workers, education and other benefits, according to Feng, one of several people briefed on the plans who spoke to Bloomberg. This year’s IPOs are “going to create vast inequality and displacement, and we as a city need corporations to pay their fair share and be good neighbors,” said Feng. “The IPO tax is one step toward that.”

I don’t expect it to pass, and if it does, I expect it to be tied up in court for years, but I can dream.

My Life is a Lie

I just read that the death metal band Hatebeak, has released its 4th album in 12 years.

That doesn’t make my life a lie.

Neither does the fact that the lead singer is, “Waldo, a 21-year-old African grey parrot.”

What makes my life a lie is the fact that they are a, “Baltimore-based three-man studio project”, involving drummer Blake Harrison, guitarist Mark Sloan, and the aforementioned Waldo.

I have been living in the greater Baltimore area for 18 years, and I have never heard of Hatebeak.

Seriously, here is a a bit of Baltimore performance art that makes John Waters look like Pat Boone, and I was completely unaware.

What is wrong with me?

I could have had these guys play at Natalie’s or Charlie’s B’nei Mitzvah, if I had only known.

Physics: 1 — 5G: 0

Much of the promise of blazingly fast 5G performance comes from using shorter frequencies to get data rates.

Physics is a cruel mistress, and so millimeter wave 5G will probably never move beyond densely populated urban areas, because the range, and penetration, are inadequate:

5G mobile networks have started arriving but only in very limited areas and amidst misleading claims by wireless carriers.

While all four major nationwide carriers in the United States have overhyped 5G to varying degrees, T-Mobile today made a notable admission about 5G’s key limitation. T-Mobile Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray wrote in a blog post that millimeter-wave spectrum used for 5G “will never materially scale beyond small pockets of 5G hotspots in dense urban environments.” That would seem to rule out the possibility of 5G’s fastest speeds reaching rural areas or perhaps even suburbs.

Ray made his point with this GIF, apparently showing that millimeter-wave frequencies are immediately blocked by a door closing halfway while the lower 600MHz signal is unaffected:


With 4G, carriers prioritized so-called “beachfront spectrum” below 1GHz in order to cover the entire US, both rural areas and cities.

5G networks will use both low and high frequencies, but they’re supposed to offer their highest speeds on millimeter waves. Millimeter-wave spectrum is usually defined to include frequencies between 30GHz and 300GHz. But in the context of 5G, carriers and regulators have generally targeted frequencies between 24GHz and 90GHz. T-Mobile’s high-frequency spectrum includes licenses in the 28GHz and 39GHz bands.

Millimeter waves generally haven’t been used in cellular networks because they don’t travel far and are easily blocked by walls and other obstacles. This has led us to wonder how extensive higher-speed 5G deployments will be outside major cities, and now T-Mobile’s top technology official is saying explicitly that millimeter-wave 5G deployments will just be for “small pockets” of highly populated areas.


“Some of this is physics—millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum has great potential in terms of speed and capacity, but it doesn’t travel far from the cell site and doesn’t penetrate materials at all,” Ray continued. “It will never materially scale beyond small pockets of 5G hotspots in dense urban environments.”

I would also note that if a company is designing a 5G phone, the performance of its wireless modem chip in the millimeter wave band will not be a priority, because the end user will rarely, if ever, encounter the service.

So, 5G will likely be a bit faster, with lower latency, but not the game changer that the phone companies have promised us.

So, the Trump Administration is Pro Rape as a Weapon of War

It appears that the whole, “Shining city upon the hill,” thing is now inoperative:

A German-drafted resolution was adopted after a reference was cut referring to the need for U.N. bodies and donors to give timely “sexual and reproductive health” assistance to survivors of sexual violence in conflict.

The U.S. veto threat was the latest in a string of policy reversals that some U.N. diplomats say has been driven by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, a conservative Christian who staunchly opposes abortion rights.


Acting U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Jonathan Cohen did not speak after the council vote.

After the vote French U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre told the 15-member body: “It is intolerable and incomprehensible that the Security Council is incapable of acknowledging that women and girls who suffered from sexual violence in conflict – and who obviously didn’t choose to become pregnant – should have the right to terminate their pregnancy.”

The language promoting sexual and reproductive health is long-agreed internationally, including in resolutions adopted by the Security Council in 2009 and 2013 and several resolutions adopted annually by the 193-member General Assembly.

The text adopted on Tuesday simply reaffirms the council’s commitment to the 2009 and 2013 resolutions. A reference to the work of the International Criminal Court in fighting the most serious crimes against women and girls was also watered-down to win over Washington, which is not a member of the institution.

This is beyond contempt.