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Thursday, January 26, 2023

"RUSSIA, RUSSIA, RUSSIA..." Interesting Twitter thread

  1. The person who led the relevant section, Charles McGonigal, has just been charged with taking money from the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Follow this thread to see just how this connects to the victory of Trump, the Russian war in Ukraine, and U.S. national security. 1/20

  2. The reason I was thinking about Trump & Putin in 2016 was a pattern. Russia had sought to control Ukraine, using social media, money, & a pliable head of state. Russia backed Trump the way that it had backed Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, in the hopes of soft control 2/20

  3. Trump & Yanukovych were similar figures: interested in money, & in power to make or shield money. And therefore vulnerable partners for Putin. They also shared a political advisor: Paul Manafort. He worked for Yanukovych from 2005-2015, taking over Trump's campaign in 2016. 3/20

  4. You might remember Manafort's ties to Russia from 2016. He (and Jared Kushner, and Donald Trump, Jr.) met with Russians in June 2016 in Trump Tower as part of, as the broker of the meeting called it, "the Russian government's support for Trump" (#RoadToUnfreedom, p. 237). 4/20

  5.  Manafort had to resign as Trump's campaign manager in August 2016 when news broke that he had received $12.7 million in cash from Yanukovych. But these details are just minor elements of Manafort's dependence on Russia. (#RoadToUnfreedom, p. 235). 5/20

  6. Manafort worked for Deripaska, the same Russian oligarch to whom McGonigal is linked, between 2006 and 2009. Manafort's assignment was to soften up the U.S for Russian influence. He promised "a model that can greatly benefit the Putin government." (#RoadToUnfreedom, p. 234). 6/20

  7. While Manafort worked for Trump in 2016, though, Manafort's dependence on Russia was deeper. He owed Deripaska money, not a position one would want to be in. Manafort offered Deripaska "private briefings" on the campaign. He was hoping "to get whole." (#RoadToUnfreedom, 234) 7/20

  8. Reconsider how the FBI treated the Trump-Putin connection in 2016. Trump and other Republicans screamed that the FBI had overreached. In retrospect, it seems the exact opposite took place. The issue of Russian influence was framed in a way convenient for Russia and Trump. 8/20

  9. The FBI investigation, Crossfire Hurricane, focused on the narrow issue of personal connections between the Trump campaign and Russians. It missed Russia's cyber attacks and the social media campaign, which, according to Kathleen Hall Jamieson, won the election for Trump. 9/20

  10. Once the issue of Russian soft control was framed narrowly as personal contact, Obama missed the big picture, and Trump had an easy defense. Trump knew that Russia was working for him, but the standard of guilt was placed so high that he could defend himself. 10/20

  11. It is entirely inconceivable that McGonigal was unaware of Russia's 2016 cyber influence campaign on behalf of Trump. Even I was aware of it, and I had no expertise. It became one of the subjects of my book #RoadtoUnfreedom. 11/20

  12. The FBI did investigate cyber later, and came to some correct conclusions. But this was after the election, and missed the Russian influence operations entirely. That was an obvious counterintelligence issue. Why did the FBI take so long, and miss the point? 12/20

  13. I had no personal connection to this, but will just repeat what informed people said at the time: this sort of thing was supposed to go through the FBI counter-intelligence section in New York, where tips went to die. That is where McGonigal was in charge. 13/20

  14. The cyber element is what McGonigal should have been making everyone aware of in 2016. In 2016, McGonigal was chief of the FBI's Cyber-Counterintelligence Coordination Section. That October, he was put in charge of the Counterintelligence Division of the FBI's NY office. 14/20

  15. We need to understand why the FBI failed in 2016 to address the essence of an ongoing Russian influence operation. The character of that operation suggests that it would have been the responsibility of an FBI section whose head is now accused of taking Russian money. 15/20

  16. Right after the McGonigal story broke, Kevin McCarthy ejected Adam Schiff from the House intelligence committee. Schiff is expert on Russian influence operations. It exhibits carelessness about national security to exclude him. It is downright suspicious to exclude him now. 16/20

  17. Back in June 2016, Kevin McCarthy expressed his suspicion that Donald Trump was under Putin's influence. He and other Republican members concluded that the risk of an embarrassment to their party was more important than American security. #RoadToUnfreedom, p. 255. 17/20

  18. The Russian influence operation to get Trump elected was real. It serves no one to pretend otherwise. We are still learning about it. Denying that it happened makes the United States vulnerable to ongoing Russian operations. 18/20

  19. I remember a certain frivolity from 2016. Trump was a curiosity. Russia was irrelevant. Nothing to take seriously. Then Trump was elected, blocked weapon sales to Ukraine, and tried to stage a coup. Now Ukrainians are dying every day in the defining conflict of our time. 19/20

  20. The McGonigal question goes even beyond these issues. He had authority in the most sensitive possible investigations within U.S. intelligence. Sorting this out will require a concern for the United States that goes beyond party loyalty. 20/20.
I've read two of his books.

Serious scholar.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

"USA, USA, USA..."

Madness. First 25 days of 2023, at least 39 mass shootings, at least 69 dead, many additional wounded. It's obscenely crazy.

Friday, January 20, 2023

The State of The Stupid.

A bit of Photoshop irascibility.
The rampant, reason-resistant incoherence is starting to get to me as I slink through Dry January and ponder the latest "federal debt default" canard.
The debt ceiling / federal shutdown / default threat dance is of course a recurrent, transiently annoying political brinksmanship shuffle. This time, however, the congressional GOP is overpopulated with nihilist firebrands who might just Go There. The upshot remains largely unknowable at this point—though it's unlikely to be good. From NPR’s Ron Elving: 

How could this year's fight over the debt ceiling be different?

For now, the White House and the leaders of both parties in Congress continue to vow they will avoid default. But Republican leaders are saying they won't raise the limit until the White House and Democrats agree to negotiate deep cuts in the federal budget and substantial changes to the spending process. How deep? How substantial? Those would be among the questions to be answered.

But this is not a drill, and it is not just another repetition of a periodic exercise. For a variety of reasons, 2023 could be the year the dealmakers fail and we face the consequences long feared. There are pivotal figures within the Congress who seem to be working toward just this outcome as a policy goal…



Nascent "Crypto Ice Age" in the wake of FTX et al, my ASS!  You just watch—these DigiFi hucksters will be exuberantly pitching scams aromatic of my foregoing deliberately absurd Photoshop spoof in no time.

Bet on it.
BTW, where's Gabe?
"Debt Crisis" Solution? 

Why the legal scholar Rohan Grey thinks the U.S. Mint can defuse the debt-ceiling standoff

By Annie Lowrey

Later this year, for no good reason at all, the United States might enter a chaotic period of financial default. Once again, the country has hit its statutory debt limit, because Congress continues to spend more than the government receives in tax revenue. The Treasury has no more legal authority to issue new debt and is currently using a series of “extraordinary measures” to keep the government’s bills paid. Those extraordinary measures will last for only six months or so. At that point, either Congress will raise the debt ceiling or the full faith and credit of the country will be at risk.

Rohan Grey is a law professor at Willamette University, in Oregon, and a leading promoter of an arcane idea that could save the country from all that drama: The Biden administration could exercise its unilateral legal authority over U.S. currency to mint a trillion-dollar platinum coin and use it to pay the government’s bills…

The power to create money in the Constitution is literally the power to coin money…

Good article. Read all of it, including the linked citations. I smells me some tangential Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) riffs here...
@HODLcoin™ baby! LOL.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

"Deliberation Science" readings update

There's so much yet to learn. And, even more yet to "unlearn." Some current readings.

First, a Christmas gift book from my sister.
The past several years, we’ve felt as if we’re all stuck in some weird Twilight Zone nightmare where we are constantly, relentlessly gaslit. Up is down, left is right, right is wrong. It feels as if the values of our society have changed almost overnight. We feel disoriented, frustrated, disaffected, and distrustful of each other. We ask ourselves whether we’ve gone crazy, or the world has, or both. No wonder people in the United States are waging a kind of war on trust, building elaborate castles of suspicion that imperil our personal happiness and national prosperity.

All around the world, democracy is now under strain due in part to social problems that cannot be solved through legislation or technology. In a very real sense, collective illusions do the most damage in free societies, precisely because they depend on shared reality, common values, and the willingness to engage with different viewpoints in order to function, let alone flourish. That is why I see collective illusions as an existential threat.

 The bad news is that we are all responsible for what is happening. And yet that is also the good news, because it means we have the power, individually and together, to solve the problem. The best news of all is that, as powerful as collective illusions are, they are also fragile because they are rooted in lies and can be dismantled through individual actions. With the right tools and some wise guidance, we can dismantle them…

…While our social nature is part of our biology, our reaction to our social instincts is within our control. When we’re armed with the right knowledge and skills, we don’t have to choose between being a maverick or being a lemming. This book aims to give you the tools you need to truly understand why and how we conform, how conformity leads directly to collective illusions, and how you can learn to control social influence so that it doesn’t control you…

…we often conform because we’re afraid of being embarrassed. Our stress levels rise at the thought of being mocked or viewed as incompetent, and when that happens, the fear-based part of the brain takes over. Confused and unsure of ourselves, we surrender to the crowd because doing so relieves our stress. Caving to the majority opinion also diffuses our personal responsibility for our decisions, making it easier to bear mistakes. When you find yourself making a decision on your own, it can feel isolating, and the personal responsibility can be intimidating. Indeed, whether our actions are right or wrong, they always feel better if we take them together with others.

Rose, Todd (2022-01-31T22:58:59.000). Collective Illusions. Hachette Books. Kindle Edition.
Persuasive case, eloquently made.
Think about Robert Cialdini's venerable "Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion" and how his "levers" model fits with Todd's thesis:
Consistency and Commitment;
Social Proof;
Appeals to Evidence;
Appeals to Authority;
Appeals to Scarcity.
Dr. Cialdini's work is widely known in the advertising / marketing domains, re principles and techniques going to being "influential." Dr. Rose's work reveals an unhappy flip side of that—our vulnerability to malign influence given our social anxieties regarding "fitting in" to socioculturural norms (which includes the political space).

How about some Justin Gregg?

I would also recommend Todd Kashdan's book apropos of this topic:
Also, more on principles of influence by our esteemed Zoe B. Chance in a prior post.

I recently subscribed to some useful Substack readings. This recent Steven Pinker offering stood out:
Reason To Believe
How and why irrationality takes hold, and what do to about it.

When I tell people that I teach and write about human rationality, they aren’t curious about the canons of reason like logic and probability, nor the classic findings from the psychology lab on how people flout them. They want to know why humanity appears to be losing its mind…

…Can anything be done? Explicit instruction in “critical thinking” is a common suggestion. These curricula try to impart an awareness of fallacies such as arguments from anecdote and authority, and of cognitive biases such as motivated reasoning. They try to inculcate habits of active open-mindedness, namely to seek disconfirmatory as well as confirmatory evidence and to change one’s mind as the evidence changes.

But jaded teachers know that lessons tend to be forgotten as soon as the ink is dry on the exam. It’s hard, but vital, to embed active open-mindedness in our norms of intellectual exchange wherever it takes place. It should be conventional wisdom that humans are fallible and misconceptions ubiquitous in human history, and that the only route to knowledge is to broach and then evaluate hypotheses. Arguing ad hominem or by anecdote should be as mortifying as arguing from horoscopes or animal entrails; repressing honest opinion should be seen as risible as the doctrines of biblical inerrancy or Papal infallibility.

But of course we can no more engineer norms of discourse than we can dictate styles of hairstyling or tattooing. The norms of rationality must be implemented as the ground rules of institutions. It’s such institutions that resolve the paradox of how humanity has mustered feats of great rationality even though every human is vulnerable to fallacies. Though each of us is blind to the flaws in our own thinking, we tend to be better at spotting the flaws in other people’s thinking, and that is a talent that institutions can put to use. An arena in which one person broaches a hypothesis and others can evaluate it makes us more rational collectively than any of us is individually.

Examples of these rationality-promoting institutions include science, with its demands for empirical testing and peer review; democratic governance, with its checks and balances and freedom of speech and the press; journalism, with its demands for editing and fact-checking; and the judiciary, with its adversarial proceedings. Wikipedia, surprisingly reliable despite its decentralization, achieves its accuracy through a community of editors that correct each other's work, all of them committed to principles of objectivity, neutrality, and sourcing. (The same cannot be said for web platforms that are driven by instant sharing and liking.)

If we are to have any hope of advancing rational beliefs against the riptide of myside bias, primitive intuitions, and mythological thinking, we must safeguard the credibility of these institutions. Experts such as public health officials should be prepared to show their work rather than deliver pronouncements ex cathedra. Fallibility should be acknowledged: we all start out ignorant about everything, and whenever changing evidence calls for changing advice, that should be touted as a readiness to learn rather than stifled as a concession of weakness.

Perhaps most important, the gratuitous politicization of our truth-seeking institutions should be halted, since it stokes the cognitively crippling myside bias. Universities, scientific societies, scholarly journals, and public-interest nonprofits have increasingly been branding themselves with woke boilerplate and left-wing shibboleths. The institutions should not be surprised when they are then blown off by the center and right which make up the majority of the population. The results have been disastrous, including resistance to climate action and vaccination.

The defense of freedom of speech and thought must not be allowed to suffer that fate. Its champions should have at their fingertips the historical examples in which free speech has been indispensable to progressive causes such as the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, civil rights, opposition to the war in Vietnam, and gay rights. They should go after the censors on the right as vigorously as those on the left, and should not give a pass to conservative intellectuals or firebrands who are no friends to free speech, but are merely enemies of their enemies.

The creed of universal truth-seeking is not the natural human way of believing. Submitting all of one’s beliefs to the trials of reason and evidence is cognitively unnatural. The norms and institutions that support this radical creed are constantly undermined by our backsliding into tribalism and magical thinking, and must constantly be cherished and secured…
Hmmm… “critical thinking?” Yeah. “Necessary but insufficient?” One wonders.

Dr. Pinker cites Professor Keith Stanovich:

Myside bias is displayed by people holding all sorts of belief systems, values, and convictions. It is not limited to those with a particular worldview. Any belief that is held with conviction—any distal belief, to use Robert Abelson’s (1986) term—can be the driving force behind myside thinking. In short, as an information processing tendency, myside cognition is ubiquitous.

Some might argue that something so ubiquitous and universal must be grounded in the evolution of our cognitive systems (either as an adaptation or as a by-product). Others, however, might argue that myside bias could not be grounded in evolution because evolutionary mechanisms would be truth seeking, and myside bias is not. In fact, evolution does not guarantee perfect rationality in the maximizing sense used throughout cognitive science—whether as maximizing true beliefs (epistemic rationality) or as maximizing subjective expected utility (instrumental rationality). Although organisms have evolved to increase their reproductive fitness, increases in fitness do not always entail increases in epistemic or instrumental rationality. Beliefs need not always track the world with maximum accuracy in order for fitness to increase.

Evolution might fail to select out epistemic mechanisms of high accuracy when they are costly in terms of resources, such as memory, energy, or attention. Evolution operates on the same cost-benefit logic that signal detection theory does. Some of our perceptual processes and mechanisms of belief fixation are deeply unintelligent in that they yield many false alarms, but if the lack of intelligence confers other advantages such as extreme speed of processing and the noninterruption of other cognitive activities , the belief fixation errors might be worth their cost (Fodor 1983; Friedrich 1993; Haselton and Buss 2000; Haselton, Nettle, and Murray 2016). Likewise, since myside bias might tend to increase errors of a certain type but reduce errors of another type, there would be nothing strange about such a bias from an evolutionary point of view (Haselton, Nettle, and Murray 2016; Johnson and Fowler 2011; Kurzban and Aktipis 2007; McKay and Dennett 2009; Stanovich 2004). What might be the nature of such a trade-off?

For many years in cognitive science, there has been a growing tendency to see the roots of reasoning in the social world of early humans rather than in their need to understand the natural world (Dunbar 1998, 2016). Indeed, Stephen Levinson (1995) is just one of many theorists who speculate that evolutionary pressures were focused more on negotiating cooperative mutual intersubjectivity than on understanding the natural world. The view that some of our reasoning tendencies are grounded in the evolution of communication dates back at least to the work of Nicholas Humphrey (1976), and there are many variants of this view. For example, Robert Nozick (1993) has argued that in prehistory, when mechanisms for revealing what is true about the world were few, a crude route to reliable knowledge might have been to demand reasons for assertions by conspecifics (see also Dennett 1996, 126–127). Kim Sterelny (2001) developed similar ideas in arguing that social intelligence was the basis of our early ability to simulate (see also Gibbard 1990; Mithen 1996, 2000; Nichols and Stich 2003). All of these views are, despite subtle differences between them, sketching the genetic-cultural coevolutionary history (Richerson and Boyd 2005) of the negotiation of argument with conspecifics.

The most influential synthesis of these views—and the most relevant to myside bias—was achieved by Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber (2011, 2017),whose subtle, nuanced theory of reasoning is grounded in the logic of the evolution of communication. Mercier and Sperber’s theory posits that reasoning evolved for the social function of persuading others through arguments. If persuasion by argument is the goal, then reasoning will be characterized by myside bias. We humans are programmed to try to convince others with arguments, not to use arguments to ferret out the truth. Like Levinson (1995) and the other theorists mentioned earlier, Mercier and Sperber (2011, 2017) see our reasoning abilities as arising from our need not to solve problems in the natural world but to persuade others in the social world. As Daniel Dennett (2017, 220) puts it: “Our skills were honed for taking sides, persuading others in debate, not necessarily getting things right.”

In several steps, Mercier and Sperber’s (2011, 2017) theory takes us from the evolution of reasoning to our ubiquitous tendency, as humans, to reason with myside bias. We must have a way of exercising what Mercier and Sperber call “epistemic vigilance.” Although we could adopt the inefficient strategy of differentiating trustworthy people from untrustworthy people by simply memorizing the history of our interactions with them, such a strategy would not work with new individuals. Mercier and Sperber (2011, 2017) point out that argumentation helps us to evaluate the truth of communications based simply on content rather than on prior knowledge about particular persons. Likewise, we learn to produce coherent and convincing arguments when we wish to transmit information to others with whom we have not established a trusting relationship. These skills of producing and evaluating arguments allow members of a society to exchange information with other members without the need to establish a prior relationship of trust with them.

If, however, the origins of our reasoning abilities lie in their having as a prime function the persuasion of others through argumentation, then our reasoning abilities in all domains will be strongly colored by persuasive argumentation. If the function of producing an argument is to convince another person, it is unlikely that the arguments produced will be an unbiased selection from both sides of the issue at hand. Such arguments would be unconvincing. Instead, we can be expected to have an overwhelming tendency to produce arguments that support our own opinion (see Mercier 2016).

Mercier and Sperber (2011) argue that this myside bias carries over into situations where we are reasoning on our own about one of our opinions and that, in such situations, we are likely to anticipate a dialogue with others (see Kuhn 2019). The anticipation of a future dialogue will also cause us to think to ourselves in a mysided manner. Mercier and Sperber’s (2016, 2017) theory makes differential predictions about our ability to evaluate the arguments of others. Basically, it predicts that, though we will display a myside bias in evaluating arguments if the issue in question concerns a distal belief, we will display much less of a myside bias when the issue in question is a testable belief.

In short, Mercier and Sperber (2011, 2017) provide a model of how myside bias is inherent in the evolutionary foundations of reasoning. From their evolutionary story of origins, it is not hard to imagine how the gene-culture coevolutionary history (see Richerson and Boyd 2005) of argumentation abilities would reinforce the myside properties of our cognition (a subject of much speculation I can only allude to here). For example, in an early discussion of myside costs and benefits, Joshua Klayman (1995) suggests some of the gene-culture coevolutionary trade-offs that may have been involved. He discusses the cognitive costs of generating ideas outside the mainstream—“Just keeping an open mind can have psychic costs” (Klayman 1995, 411)—and the potential social disapproval of those who waffle. And he discusses the often-immediate benefits of myside confidence triumphing over the more long-term benefits of doubt and uncertainty. Anticipating Mercier and Sperber (2011) in some ways, Klayman (1995, 411) argues that “when other people lack good information about the accuracy of one’s judgments, they may take consistency as a sign of correctness”; he points to the many characteristics of myside argumentation (e.g., consistency, confidence) that can bootstrap social benefits to the individual and group. Dan Kahan’s discussions of his concept of identity protective cognition (Kahan 2013, 2015; see also Kahan, Jenkins-Smith, and Braman 2011; Kahan et al. 2017) likewise suggest other potential mechanisms for myside bias to confer evolutionary benefit by facilitating group cohesion. These possible social benefits must be taken into account when we assess the overall rationality of mysided thinking…

Stanovich, Keith E. (2021-08-30T23:58:59.000). The Bias That Divides Us. MIT Press. Kindle Edition.
That blew me away. I am a long-time fan of Mercier & Sperber's "Why Do Humans Reason?"
"Why do humans reason?" Uhhh... to WIN the argument at hand. If objective truth happens along the way, so much the better.
A "Pen is Mightier Than The Sword" riff.


I agreed to accept a comp hardcopy to read, evaluate, and review this book. Just finished it. Review pending. Tangential to the topic of this post, a Very enjoyable read nonetheless. The above quote sums it up succinctly and accurately. While the "pursuit of happiness" is an widely enduring yet often "aspirational" ideal, orienting toward consistently having more deliberate "fun" is easier to accomplish and helps in the achievement of rational, prosocial, stable "happiness."


Goes beyond “fun.”


You know those recent iPhone Max Pro ads, “Hollywood in your pocket?“ I guess we’re fixin’ to see. I just ordered the full Monty—a 14 Max Pro with a terabyte of capacity.

“Baltimore in my pocket.”

More to come...

The U.S. public debt

The U.S. public debt is not properly a GOP federal budget bargaining chip. The entirety of constitutional language devoted to it is set forth above.

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Damar Hamlin

24 year old 2nd year NFL Buffalo Bills defensive player, graduate of the University of Pittsburgh. He went into cardiac arrest during the first quarter of the Monday night football game against Cincinnati after making an open field tackle. I feared he would die. Tonight, there is great news that he has regained consciousness and is able to communicate with his doctors. He is still on a vent in critical condition in the ICU, and the likely extent of his recovery is still unknown, but things are looking much more favorable than they were just a day ago. Yes!

Latest report is that Damar's intubation has been removed, and he's communicating lucidly.

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Pele, RIP

He was 82.

A Sad passing.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Year end update

My sister and family are gettin' hammered

Carole, my younger (& only) sibling, has lived in Marquette, MI for decades. Blizzards? Numbing cold?

I went there once for my birthday in February.

She sent me the coolest stuff for Christmas.

Quarter of the way through this book already. It jumped the line. Very cool. I mostly just read Kindle / eBooks any more. The eyes are getting pretty sketchy. Making the effort here, though.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

A wild end to 2022

Everyone, be careful out there.
[Above, 6 pm, 12/22] I live in Baltimore. We've had dismal, cold rain all day, and tomorrow (Friday the 23rd) the forecast says we'll have a temperature drop across the day from the low 50's to 16F, with winds up to 55 mph or more. The expected low here on Christmas Eve is 9F. 
Ugh. Homeless people are gonna die, here and elsewhere in this vast storm path.
Please be safe.
FRIDAY UPDATE: Our rain has finally stopped, winds are beginning to howl, and the temperature is dropping like a rock—faster than an FTX token. We're reportedly gonna hit a midnight low of 9F.

New reads...

I have too much going on at once on Kindle these days. "Escape From Model Land" came to me via a review in my Science Magazine. Stephanie Hare's book then caught my eye while Twitter-searching Erica Thompson. Then, my wife alerted me to a CBS Morning News piece featuring Amy E. Herman.
Working on finally finishing these. Almost done with "Driverless Finance."
NOTE: Finished "Driverless Finance."
SBF made bail in NY today. $250M, 1% cash collateral. He will be on ankle-monitored "house arrest" at his Stanford Law faculty parents' digs in Palo Alto. Beats the hell outa of pre-trial incarceration in the Bahamas.
See my prior posts on this maudlin circus.
845 pages of ass-whup. PDF


We had a baby grandson for what seems like about 3 days. He'll be 3 yrs on January 15th.

We ("Pop" & "Mee-mo") pick him up from pre-school daily. Took him to Starbucks the other day for hot chocolate. The kid is fabulous.


The Covid, flu, and RSV bugs continue to bedevil us. Global warming issues clamor for attention. Species extinctions seem to be accelerating. Refugee migrations are also ramping up. Pollution worsens. Armed combat? (Russia) Threats to democracies? Evident everywhere you turn. Civilian gun violence? Disinfo? Malign Tech? Need I elaborate? The list of overlapping concerns remains.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022


Final Legal Notice

To, Robert Gladd
Address: 8210 Creek Water Lane Las Vegas NV 89123
Email: **********
This is last chance for you, to hold this Case File you must submit a minimum payment of $300.00
You can email us on below address for any query or payment mode;
This Legal Proceeding will be issued on your Docket Number DL-20731642 with one of Cash Advance Inc. Company to let you know that after making calls on your phone number, we were unable to reach out to you. So, the account's department of Cash Advance has decided to mark this case as a Flat Refusal and press Legal Charges against you.
CASE NO:  FGTM-98524L2
Amount Outstanding: $1200.00
Do revert if you want to get rid of these legal consequences and make payment arrangements today or else, we will be proceeding legally against you and this notification will also be sent to your current employer. The opportunity to take care of this voluntarily is quickly coming to an end. I regret to advise that unless payment is received before the end of this week this invoice will be passed over to our legal authority.  This could seriously affect your credit rating, so I urge you to contact us immediately to make payment or arrange an alternative before this date.
We will be forced to go ahead legally against you and once it proceeds to the Court House, the creditor has entire rights to tell your employer and your references about this issue and the lawsuit will be the next step which will be amounting to $6700.00 and will be totally levied upon excluding your attorney charges. If you take care of this matter out of court, then we will release the clearance certificate from the court and make sure that no one will contact you in the future.

Please let us know of your intention by today itself so we can hold the case or else we will send the paperwork to your local county sheriff department, and you will be served by court summons at your doorstep.
You can reply us on below address for more information;  
One scarcely knows where to begin. Perhaps we could start with a Google search for "CASE NO:  FGTM-98524L2." 'eh? 

I get this kind of crap all the time. Y'all probably do as well, right? These (cringingly English-as-a-2nd/3rd/4th language) phishers are relentless. Moronically so.

I sold that Las Vegas house in Sept. 2013, and moved back to California. I'd retired in May 2013. Didn't have Comcast email until after we'd relocated to the Bay Area. 

Idiots. They don't want to meet Bad Bobby.

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Congratulations, Argentina

All kidding aside, you gotta give these athletes their props. I have yet to see an obese futbol player. Moreover, this final has made a convert outa me.

Friday, December 16, 2022

Day 295

of Putin's 3-day invasion and conquest of Ukraine
I watched this in its entirety last night on Netflix. Please do likewise.
When Putin invaded on Feb 24th, I was sure President Zelenskyy
would be exiled, captured, or killed right away. 295 days later, he survives.
I am glad to be wrong, every day that goes by.

One brave man, leading a fearless nation in their fight against barbarity.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022



 What in the hell is he up to?
I started using Twitter mainly to pimp this blog, back when I was in the #HealthIT space. It has worked well for me. Perhaps not much longer, though, in light of the SMH juvie, trollish provocateur antics of the new (highly leveraged) owner.

It was just reported that he has sold $3.6B of his Tesla stock (TSLA), which is now down -60% YTD.
In fairness, TSLA didn't even rise above $100 until mid-June 2020, so it's still more than 50% higher across the the period since then. The Y-axis low of $150 (rather than zero) in the upper graph visually amplifies the apparent relative decline. Nonetheless, he may well soon be flirting with a hostile takeover attempt (depending on how many buyers bought high).


The unfolding thread
apropos of my December 8th post.
So, software (AI) can now write software?
Competitive programming problems represent a challenging task for even skilled programmers: Given a short natural language description of an algorithmic problem, contestants must quickly write a program that solves the task. On page 1092 of this issue, Li et al. (1) present the AlphaCode system, which represents a substantial step forward in the development of machine learning (ML) models that can synthesize computer programs to solve these types of challenging problems. But what is perhaps most surprising about the system is what AlphaCode does not do: AlphaCode contains no explicit built-in knowledge about the structure of computer code. Instead, AlphaCode relies on a purely “data-driven” approach to writing code, learning the structure of computer programs by simply observing lots of existing code...
Programming is a powerful and ubiquitous problem-solving tool. Systems that can assist programmers or even generate programs themselves could make programming more productive and accessible. Recent transformer-based neural network models show impressive code generation abilities yet still perform poorly on more complex tasks requiring problem-solving skills, such as competitive programming problems. Here, we introduce AlphaCode, a system for code generation that achieved an average ranking in the top 54.3% in simulated evaluations on recent programming competitions on the Codeforces platform. AlphaCode solves problems by generating millions of diverse programs using specially trained transformer-based networks and then filtering and clustering those programs to a maximum of just 10 submissions. This result marks the first time an artificial intelligence system has performed competitively in programming competitions.
All very interesting.


This author just testified at a Senate crypto hearing.

From her prescient Prologue 2031 "premortem." Just started reading. Stay tuned. 
Below, Professor Allen during her Senate testimony.


THE BAHAMAS (The Borowitz Report)—People around the world have been flabbergasted to learn that a man who created a business based on imaginary money might be a fraud.

In interviews spanning the globe, respondents expressed shock and disbelief that a firm offering customers wealth by turning their actual money into pretend money could be anything but legitimate.

“I’m still trying to wrap my head around this,” Johan, who is based in Sweden, said. “How could a business built on a foundation of nonexistent dollars somehow collapse?”

“I’m completely gobsmacked by the news,” Caitlyn, who lives in London, said. “Of all of the firms offering big returns on made-up money, this one seemed the most solid.”

Roger, who lives in Michigan, expressed concern about the broader implications of a company swimming in fictitious billions suddenly going bankrupt. “I just hope that one bad apple doesn’t wreck the entire fake-money industry,” he said.

"From a famous actor and an experienced journalist, a wildly entertaining debunking of cryptocurrency, one of the greatest frauds in history and on course for a spectacular crash

At the height of the pandemic, TV star Ben McKenzie (The O.C., Gotham) was the perfect mark for cryptocurrency: a dad stuck at home with some cash in his pocket, worried about his family, armed with only the vague notion that people were making heaps of money on something he—despite a degree in economics—didn’t entirely understand. Lured in by the promise of taking power from banks, possibly improving democracy, and sure, a touch of FOMO, McKenzie dove deep into blockchain, Bitcoin, and the various other coins and exchanges on which they are traded.

But after scratching the surface, he had to ask, “Am I crazy, or is this all a total scam?” In Easy Money, McKenzie enlists the help of journalist Jacob Silverman for a caper and exposĂ© that points in shock to the climactic final days of cryptocurrency now upon us. Weaving together stories of average traders and victims, colorful crypto “visionaries,” Hollywood’s biggest true believers, anti-crypto whistleblowers, and government agents searching for solutions at the precipice of a major crash, Easy Money is an on-the-ground look at a perfect storm of 2008 Housing Bubble–level irresponsibility and criminal fraud potentially ten times more devastating than Bernie Madoff." [Amazon blurb]
OK, release date July 18, 2023? They need to get off the dime and ramp this up (yeah, easy for me to say). Michael Lewis looms in the wings (LOL).
Just kidding

5:10 well worth your time. Listen carefully.
__________ #cryptNOcurrency