Why I Did Not Go To Jail – Andreessen Horowitz

By | March 8, 2021

Jordan came back with an answer that I did not expect: “Ben, I’ve gone over the law six times and there’s no way that this practice is strictly within the bounds of the law. I’m not sure how PwC justified it, but I recommend against it.” I told Michelle that we were not going to implement the policy and that was that.

Well, that was that for a while. Then, almost two years later, the SEC announced that it was investigating Michelle’s previous company for stock option accounting irregularities. This started a massive investigation of all Silicon Valley companies and their stock option accounting practices. All told, more than 200 companies were found guilty of some sort of irregularity.

Source: Why I Did Not Go To Jail – Andreessen Horowitz

Why this single incident didn’t put PwC out of business is just literally beyond me. How one of the “big four” auditing firms can sign off on something that put 200 companies under indictment by the SEC ought to cause them to be forced out of business by the government, just on the face of it. At least the auditing arm of Arthur Anderson was split off after Enron, and went kaput. According to this writer — who expands on the backdating story — there were hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements, and all the auditing firms walked away unscathed.

This is another case like the housing crisis. The “big three” ratings agencies of Wall Street — which supposedly exist as a 3rd-party check on investments being offered for sale — were shown to be completely fraudulent. They allowed the crisis to happen by lying about the bonds in the first place, then stonewalled rating them accurately when the party started to crash, to give time to the big investment banks to shore up their positions.

I feel like I’m taking crazy pills here. Why would the government look the other way at any of this? It’s because you can’t neatly assign this government malfeasance to a political side. It transcends Right or Left. So the populace squabbles on social media about the social controversy of the day, while Congress argues about the size of a second government check in the course of a year, and both just ignore how the kings and emperors of our modern feudalistic system are taking over more and more of the system for themselves.

It was supposed to be a government OF the people, BY the people, FOR the people. Now it’s a government OF campaign donor recipients, BY campaign donors, FOR company executives. And you don’t have to look very far back to see how this is working out for us since Citizens United, just 10 years ago.

When did writing in major newspapers become so bad? – Machine Learning Everything

By | March 8, 2021

Maybe the convoluted writing with indiscernible insider nods is intentional to keep people like me out.

Source: When did writing in major newspapers become so bad? – Machine Learning Everything

I think he’s onto something here. Like the way spam is actually intentionally poorly written, in order to weed out people who are too smart for the scam, I think the Times is, in fact, using obtuse, lingo-lanced language to appeal to their target demographic, and push others away. The answer to the question of who comprises which of these groups is an exercise left to the reader.

British Press Reacts to U.K. Press Has Hysterical Reaction to Oprah’s Interview With Meghan Markle and Prince Harry | Hollywood Reporter

By | March 8, 2021

Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan, another long-time and very public critic of Markle, opened his show by repeatedly suggesting that Prince Harry had “spray-gunned” his family with the revelatory interview and that is was “so disloyal.”  “He’s been spray-gunning his entire family on global TV as Prince Phillip lies in hospital,” said Morgan, adding, “I see right through them,” and  that “Prince Charles has been bankrolling that couple for the last 5 years.”

Source: British Press Reacts to U.K. Press Has Hysterical Reaction to Oprah’s Interview With Meghan Markle and Prince Harry | Hollywood Reporter

The entire monarchy is bankrolled by the government. Anyone who has watched The Crown “sees right through” all of this nonsense, including Piers’ defenestration of the couple, in the defense of the institution.

Why is the country continuing to pay a small family of people $100M a year, and giving them governmental power, due to their having been born, and in very specific order? Note that this income is on top of the fact that the family owns vast amounts of the one thing no one is making any more: land. And, of course, it’s all the best real estate, with astounding homes and castles, which makes them a lot of money on top of the stipend.

The monarchy is a completely-historically-disingenuous proposition to begin with, as it has been more often knocked off and claimed by violence than by peaceful transition. Worse, in the 80 years following “the troubles,” the institution has increasingly shown itself to be an utter anachronism, without place in the modern world. The inhuman treatments that the family has used to extort behavior through the years is a matter of public record, and I’m surprised that anyone in the UK still supports the idea of it. The only reason it endures has to be the British press carrying their water, like this:

But I suspect that one day Harry will come to regret it, just as Diana did.

Source: PENNY JUNOR: Harry’s making the same mistake as Diana – and I fear he’ll come to regret it | Daily Mail Online

Netflix’s The Crown, while an otherwise-terrific show, always retrospectively paints the Regent in flattering colors, no matter how detestable her decisions have been over the past 60 years. It always depicts how she has been backed into a corner by society and government to make the calls she’s made, and makes her come off smelling like a rose, but that only serves to show how antiquated the entire institution is, in the post-war world. Especially given the intertwining of the Church of England alongside Parliament.

At the end of the day, the monarchy just a massive business. We have our own problems with massive businesses intertwining their wills with our government and our press. At this point, there’s probably, actually, little difference between the two systems, when you start to make a point-by-point comparison.

Far-right Misinformation is Facebook’s most engaging content – Protocol — The people, power and politics of tech

By | March 3, 2021

Facebook, for its part, seems to be increasingly interested in limiting the rampant political polarization of its platform. Last month, Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company was launching an experiment to limit the amount of political news in some users’ news feeds. “One of the top pieces of feedback we’re hearing from our community right now is that people don’t want politics and fighting to take over their experience on our services,” Zuckerberg said.

Source: Far-right Misinformation is Facebook’s most engaging content – Protocol — The people, power and politics of tech

Interpreting for the gallery: “This is starting to impact revenues, so you bet your sweet bippie that we’re going to do something about it, but we operate our Almighty Algorithm in total secrecy, so you’ll just have to trust us that we’re fixing it. We have top. men. working on it. So you can calm down now. We’ve totally averted the impending declaration of ‘Marshall’ law you’ve been hearing about.”

Relatedly:

Videos of the convention, which was held for the Nation of Islam’s annual Saviours’ Day, are posted on the group’s Twitter, Facebook and YouTube pages, despite the social media companies’ policies against vaccine-related misinformation.

Source: ‘Vial Of Death’: Louis Farrakhan Pushes Vaccine Conspiracy Theories In Videos Posted On Facebook, Twitter | The Daily Caller

So is Farrakan considered right or left in the American political spectrum? Would the researchers involved in the NYU study quoted in the first article consider his “misinformation” on vaccine to be right- or left-wing? As long as we’re considering censorship, these kinds of categorizations seem important while wielding the ban hammer.

My snarky point is that Farrakan is obviously considered hard, hard left in American politics, and it’s immediately clear to anyone paying attention that pseudo-scientific nonsense is rampant on both sides of the political isle, so a “study” like the one quoted in the original article only serves to disingenuously inflame the tensions of precisely the people it targets, and everyone knows that.

People are rightly waking up to the fact that ALL foreign nations are running disinformation campaigns on social media. All they’re doing is finally getting a seat at the table in America, alongside our own, esteemed media.

When U.S. blamed Saudi crown prince for role in Khashoggi killing, fake Twitter accounts went to war

By | March 3, 2021

Saudi-based Twitter accounts using fake profile pictures, repetitive wording and spammy tactics sought to undermine the conclusion by U.S. intelligence officials, made public Friday, that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “approved” the operation that led to the killing of Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

Source: When U.S. blamed Saudi crown prince for role in Khashoggi killing, fake Twitter accounts went to war

More and more of our news cycle is centering on Twitter. The blue-check-mark journalists who enjoy relative stature on the platform get preferential treatment, and there’s hardly a news article today which doesn’t reference at least one Tweet for an official quote. Like Amazon reviews, American society is placing increasingly-serious trust in an inherently untrustworthy system, and the people who run it are doing so in opaque and unaccountable ways.

#SocialMediaIsDestroyingSociety

On Changing Blogging Format

By | March 3, 2021

I’m really late in coming to an understanding of this, but I’m just realizing that “blogging” has moved to video. I mean, the kinds of things I’m writing down here are mostly being done, these days, as 10-15 minute videos on YouTube. That’s why it’s so hard to find good blogs now. The problem, for me, is that video is effectively linear. I can read much faster than I can watch something. When I’m reading, I can track where a thought is going, and skim forward to the next thought. You can’t do that with video.

So much content I would love in written form is just being “wasted” in video form. And so many videos are just bullet point lists of things I’m tangentially interested in. At least, with a written list, I can neatly skip over the points I already know, or am not interested in.

I’ve spent an hour watching various videos on YT, mostly about the Battlefield game series, and the MCU movies. Of course, there’s endless repeats of various clips in the background, but the voiced-over script has (almost) nothing to do with what’s being shown. These videos could have easily been blog posts, with a few screenshots for effect, and I could have gotten through all of these thoughts in 20 minutes.

The “best” example of this was “This Is What Captain Marvel Has Been Doing For The Past 24 Years Before Avengers Endgame,” at 10:11 run length, which I watched in its entirety at 1.5x speed, and which ended without giving any reasonable explanation about what she might have actually been doing. That’s “content” I could have figured out in about 10 seconds if it had been a blog post.

And that’s really the problem right there. It’s clear that something magical happens on YT around 10-15 minutes. It must be something about the advertising. Almost every one of these videos is that length, and it must have something to do with making money from the site. So, like banner ads, people are trying to get paid, but the net effect for the end user is 10x worse. People just pad their videos with fluff to hit this magic mark, turn what would be a 2-minute thought into a 11-minute “piece,” and the net effect is that I just don’t watch much video.

Bill Allowing Big Tech To Form “Techno-Governments” To Be Announced Today – The Debrief

By | February 26, 2021

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak will be announcing legislation today that will allow major technology companies to effectively form techno-governments.

Gov. Sisolak first mentioned the proposal of creating “Innovation Zones” in Nevada during his State-of-the-State address on January 19. “New companies creating groundbreaking technologies can come to Nevada to develop their industries. This will be done without tax abatements or public financing.”

While the legislation wouldn’t provide subsidiaries or public funding, according to a draft of the Bill obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, major technology firms would be granted authority to form their independent techno-governments within Nevada. “[They] would carry the same authority as a county, including the ability to impose taxes, form school districts and justice courts and provide government services, to name a few duties,” Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.

Source: Bill Allowing Big Tech To Form “Techno-Governments” To Be Announced Today – The Debrief

On the path of our regression from a representative republic to a modern fuedalism-by-oligarchy, apparently we’re traveling back past the robber-baron days of companies running entire towns, with private police and fire departments — and their requisite taxation — and perhaps even paying people in scrip for buying things in the company store.

And all of this is made possible by the magic of…

What I wish I had known about single page applications – Stack Overflow Blog

By | February 24, 2021

I settled on JHipster, a development platform for building web applications using modern technology: Angular, React or Vue for the client side, and Spring plus Gradle or Maven for the server side. It’s been around for years, is very well documented, and has great community support.

Source: What I wish I had known about single page applications – Stack Overflow Blog

I think the author hit at least one nail squarely on the head: Team size is an important consideration for the tech stack. I would argue that a Java/Angular stack is probably only appropriate for large teams, which wouldn’t need jHipster anyway. I tried it once, and it took FORTY-FIVE minutes to bootstrap a site on my top-of-the-line Dell laptop. There are an astonishing number of moving parts buried inside of it.

I’ve been using Rails for 15 years or so now, and one can argue about its strengths and weaknesses compared to other webdev toolkits, but it works really, really well for one-person “teams” writing highly-focused internal tools. I’ve spent the past month writing a single-page app in VueJS inside of my current tool, and it’s been an interesting experiment. I may have more to say about it later.

“I will slaughter you” | daniel.haxx.se

By | February 19, 2021

Source: “I will slaughter you” | daniel.haxx.se

“I lost my family, my country my friends, my home and 6 years of work trying to build a better place for posterity. And it has beginnings in that code. That code is used to root and exploit people. That code is used to blackmail people.”

“So no, I don’t feel bad one bit. You knew exactly the utility of what you were building. And you thought it was all a big joke. Im not laughing. I am so far past that point now.”

Someone literally and directly threatens an open source maintainer’s life, and a commenter on his blog post says we should look to Apple, instead of law enforcement, to “police” his thought and action. He’s already stated that he’s lost $15M of business, and his “family, friends, country, and home” because of curl’s author. This person is obviously confused about curl, and the role it played in all the things he accuses. (It’s just a command-line HTTP agent, and can’t “hack” anything that has been properly secured.) But, sure, let’s deplatform him from a cloud provider, potentially locking him out of his personal data as well. Surely, this will assuage his murderous reaction to this string of recent misfortune.

We all know how out of touch our government is in this “Web 2.0” world, but Apple, Twitter, Facebook, Google, et. al. are not even nominally accountable to the public. On the one hand, it’s frightening to think that people are looking to corporations to safeguard society. On the other hand, I suppose that people could rationally look to them because our government is so completely ineffective in our digital world.

Unless something significant happens to rebalance power from corporations to the government again, especially with respect to the digital economic and informational challenges we face, it feels like we are headed straight for a cyberpunk, citizens-of-worldwide-megacorps future that authors have been warning us about for decades. And it will happen, not because the big, scary government mandated it, but because government stopped doing anything, and corporations just took over where government left off, and did things according to the only thing that drives them: their bottom line.

Chromebooks outsold Macs worldwide in 2020, cutting into Windows market share – GeekWire

By | February 18, 2021

New numbers show 2020 was the first year that Chromebooks outsold Macs, posting impressive market share gains at the expense of Windows. Computers powered by Google’s Chrome OS have outsold Apple’

Source: Chromebooks outsold Macs worldwide in 2020, cutting into Windows market share – GeekWire

Just once, I want to see these graphs and sales figures omit corporate purchases from the data. I’m certain that Dell, HP, and Lenovo could provide numbers that show shipments to end users and, say, Best Buy and Target, vs bulk corporate orders. Then we’d see how people actually vote with their own personal dollars.

IDC, along with Gartner and others, have been doing this forever. The whole point of these articles is to cast aspersion on Apple’s influence in the computer market. As Microsoft-funded outfits (you can’t convince me otherwise), they’re never going to change.

Speaking of boosting the numbers with corporate purchases, the increase in Chromebook numbers in this graph is directly related to schools purchasing them for at-home use in remote “learning.” And they suuuuuck. Both of my sons have them, and they are just terrible, awful things to work with. You couldn’t pay me to believe that anyone would buy one for personal use. A person would buy a cheap iPad over a Chromebook, 100 times out of 100.

And don’t even get me started with the bat-crazy mish-mash of unrelated web sites my boys have to navigate to do “online” school. It’s a disaster. I mean, I know that the educational software world is way behind, but… dang. I really hope this area of the economy gets some serious investment, now that Covid has made everyone aware of just how bad it is.

After 25 years of seeing this lie about market share numbers, I wonder if it’s possible for me to run down someone inside the big 3 PC manufacturers who could provide a breakdown in their figures for personal vs. corporate or school use…