Miami-Dade County

Friday: Smells Like

With the lights out, it’s less dangerous
Here we are now, entertain us
I feel stupid and contagious
Here we are now, entertain us
A mulatto, an Albino
A mosquito, my libido, yeah


— excerpt, Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana

Been a rough week so I’m indulging myself with some double bass — and because it’s Friday, it’s jazz. This is 2009 Thelonious Monk Competition winner Ben Williams whose ‘Teen Spirit’ is both spirited and minimalist. Check out this set with Home and Dawn Of A New Day, the first embued with a hip-hoppy beatmaking rhythm.

More Shadows on the wall
While Marcy has some questions about the recent alleged Shadow Brokers’ hack of NSA-front Equation Group and malware staging servers, I have a different one.

Why is Cisco, a network equipment company whose equipment appears to have been backdoored by the NSA, laying off 20% of its workforce right now? Yeah, yeah, I hear there’s a downturn in networking hardware sales due to Brexit and the Chinese are fierce competitors and businesses are moving from back-end IT to the cloud, but I see other data that says 50-60% of ALL internet traffic flows through Cisco equipment and there are other forecasts anticipating internet traffic growth to double between now and 2020, thanks in part to more video streaming and mobile telecom growth replacing PCs. Sure, software improvements will mediate some of that traffic’s pressure on hardware, but still…there’s got to be both ongoing replacement of aging equipment and upgrades (ex: Southwest Airlines’ router-fail outage), let alone new sales, and moving the cloud only means network equipment is consolidated, not distributed. Speaking of new sales and that internet traffic growth, there must be some anticipation related to increased use of WiFi-enabled Internet of Things stuff (technical term, that — you know, like Philips’ Hue lighting and Google Nest thermostats and Amazon Echo/Alexa-driven services).

Something doesn’t add up. Or maybe something rolls up. I dunno’. There are comments out on the internet suggesting competitor Huawei is hiring — that’s convenient, huh?

AI and Spy

  • Data security firm working on self-tweeting AI (MIT Review) — The software can generate tweets more likely to illicit response from humans than the average phishing/spearphishing attempt. Seems a little strange that a data security company is working on a tool which could make humans and networks less secure, doesn’t it?
  • Toyota sinks a bunch of cash into AI project at U of Michigan (ReadWrite) — $22 million the automaker pledged to development of self-driving cars, stair-climbing wheelchairs and other mobility projects. Toyota has already invested in similar AI development programs at Stanford in Palo Alto, CA and MIT in Cambridge, MA. Funding academic research appears to be a means to avoid a bigger hit to the corporation’s bottom line if the technologies do not yield commercially viable technology.
  • Steganography developed to mask content inside dance music (MIT Review) — Warsaw University of Technology researcher co-opted the rhythm specific to Ibiza trance music genre. The embedded Morse code buried in rhythm could not be audibly detected by casual listeners as long as it did not distort the tempo by more than 2%.

Sci-like-Fi

  • New theory suggests fifth force of nature possible (Los Angeles Times) — The search for a “dark photon” may have led to a new theory explaining the existence and action of dark energy and dark matter, which together make up 95% of the universe. I admit I need to hunt down a better article on this; this one doesn’t make all the pieces snap into place for me. If you’ve seen a better one, please share in comments.
  • Sound wave-based black hole model may show Hawking radiation at work (Scientific American) — Can’t actually create a real black hole in the lab, but a model like this one created by an Israeli scientist using phonons (not photons) may prove Stephen Hawking was right about information leakage from black holes. The work focuses on the actions of quantum-entangled particle pairs which are separated on either side of the event horizon. Beyond adding to our understanding of the universe, how this work will be used isn’t quite clear. But use of quantum entanglement in cryptography is an important and growing field; I wouldn’t be surprised to see this finding shapes cryptographic development.
  • Pregnant women’s immune system response may affect fetus’ neurological system (MedicalXpress via Phys.org) — While an expectant mother’s immune system may prevent a virus from attacking her fetus, the protective process may still affect the fetus long term. Research suggests that some neurological disorders like schizophrenia and autism may be associated with maternal infections pre-birth.

Late adder: Travel Advisory issued for pregnant women to avoid Miami Beach area according to CDC — Five more cases of Zika have been identified and appeared to have originated in the newly identified second Zika zone, this one east of Biscayne Bay in the Miami Beach area. The initial Zika zone was on the west side of Biscayne Bay. The CDC also discouraged pregnant women and their sex partners from traveling to Miami-Dade County as a whole; the county has now had a total of 36 cases of Zika.

In the video in the report linked above, FL Gov. Rick Scott pokes at the White House about additional Zika assistance, but Scott previously reduced spending on mosquito control by 40%. Now he’s ready to pay private firms to tackle mosquito spraying. Way to go, Republican dirtbag. Penny wise, pound foolish, and now it’s somebody else’s job to bat cleanup.

Longread: Stampede at JFK
A firsthand account of the public’s stampede-like reaction to a non-shooting at New York’s JFK International Airport. To paraphrase an old adage, if all you have is a gun, everything looks and sounds like a shooting.

Let go of your fear and let the weekend begin.

Miami-Dadistan Finishes Absentee, Provisional Ballot Counting, Media Still Doesn’t Call Floriduh

Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections Penelope Townsley took great joy in pointing out to the Miami Herald that her county beat three other large Florida counties in finishing counting absentee and provisional ballots on Thursday, the third day of ballot counting:

Townsley made note of the fact that Miami-Dade, the state’s largest county, finished ahead of three other big Florida counties — Broward, Palm Beach and Duval.

Broward County finally finished counting ballots at about 11:30 p.m. Thursday, said Broward elections spokeswoman Evelyn Perez-Verdia. Palm Beach and Duval were still tabulating their absentees as of Thursday afternoon.

Florida’s official tally of county-by-county status indicates that Miami-Dadistan has indeed finished its absentee and provisional ballot counting. The tally shows Palm Beach and Duval still counting absentee ballots. However, perhaps because this tally shows that only 19 of the 67 counties at the time of this writing have counted their provisional ballots (I’ve seen no media outlets pointing this detail out), major media outlets such as CNN and the New York Times still have their electoral college counts stuck on 303 to 206, with Floriduh’s 29 electoral votes still not assigned to either candidate. Earlier Thursday, the Romney campaign appeared to concede defeat in Florida, but that also did not lead to moving the scoreboards.

I can’t help wondering if the large number of counties not yet finishing the counting of all of their provisional ballots might be due to the way that large numbers of people were moved to new precincts this year with poor notification that their voting site changed. Poorly trained poll workers may have sent some of these voters to provisional ballots rather than checking to see if the voters had been moved to other nearby voting locations where they would have voted normally.

Despite Townsley trying to claim that her county did an overall good job, she still completely sidestepped questions about what went wrong in the precincts where people stood in line until after 1 am to vote. From the Miami Herald article linked above:

Townsley said her elections staff was prepared for the presidential race turnout and lengthy ballot, which included numerous county and state amendment questions. She said she deployed 200-plus more scanning machines and 400 more poll workers for this election compared with 2008, and made trouble-shooting decisions Tuesday to shift resources where needed.

Asked why there were waits up to six hours at various precincts in the Brickell area of Miami, as well as in West Kendall, Country Walk, Goulds and Homestead, Townsley ducked the question without providing details.

“That is precisely the reason we will be conducting an after-action report to determine what actually went wrong,” she said. “We will learn from those lessons.”

Grover Norquist-style small government advocate Miami-Dadistan Mayor Carlos Gimenez feels that he is on top of the situation. His brilliant plan on Thursday afternoon, according to the Herald, was to assemble a task force (which appears to consist only of county commissioners) to find out what went wrong. I’m guessing that these geniuses won’t trouble their little minds with the possible explanation that cutting government to a size where it can’t function properly might have played a role in leading the world to conclude that they are managing a third world local government.

Meanwhile, Grover Norquist-style small government advocate Foriduh Governor Rick Scott  is doing his best to hide from the controversy, but he was forced to comment Thursday:

Florida Governor Rick Scott, heavily criticized when he refused to use his emergency powers to extend the number of early voting days in the state, now says he’s willing to look at whether changes are needed to make voting go smoother.

/snip/

At an event in Orlando on Thursday morning, Gov. Scott was asked about the voting problems in Florida.

“I’m going to be sitting down with the Secretary of State soon to go through all of the issues that might have come up during the election and make sure we always keep improving,” said Scott.

Overall though, the Governor said he was happy with the election process in Florida this year because so many people came out to vote.

Considering the extreme lengths that Scott and his Republican legislature went to in trying to suppress voter turnout, that last bit where he said he was happy with high turnout must have been a really painful thing for him to say.

Update From Miami-Dadistan: Vote Counting Continues into Third Day

Despite a claim from Grover Norquist Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez that “This is not a Third World country”, his intentionally small government has now entered into its third day of attempting to count ballots from Tuesday’s general election. While Miami-Dadistan is by no means the only jurisdiction where the election overwhelmed the resources on hand, it still stands out as the biggest example of the impact of the drive to cut taxes so low that a functional government cannot be sustained.

Dan Froomkin at HuffPo pointed yesterday to data from Hart Research, reproduced in the figure here, that shows minorities and Democrats disproportionately across the country faced longer waiting times to vote. A picture is beginning to emerge, though, showing that efforts by authorities to suppress minority votes actually provides stronger incentives to stand in the excessively long lines and vote anyway, providing the best sort of revenge.

As Froomkin also pointed out, despite Barack Obama mentioning in his victory speech that “We have to fix that” regarding the long lines, one of the best mechanisms for a Federal response to the problems has been gutted, as the Washington Post has noted that the Election Assistance Commission, put into place after the 2000 voting fiasco, is a zombie commission that has no appointed members. Obama’s Justice Department is well aware of the organized efforts by many Republican governors to suppress minority voting through overzealous purging of voting rolls, so there is no excuse for the Obama administration allowing the commission to be depopulated prior to the election.

But to return to the Fiasco in Florida, the Miami CBS station posed the obvious question to election authorities there:

In September, CBS4 News was the first to report on the long ballot and the potential effect it may have during the election.

“There will be lines,” Supervisor of Elections Penelope Townsley said at the time.

CBS4 News put the ballot to the test on October 25th and found that taking 30 minutes to complete it would not be unusual.

/snip/

“Did you ever have any indication on how long it was going to take someone, an average time, that it was going to take,” [Reporter David] Sutta asked.

“No, actually not,” replied Gimenez.

When asked if they ever worked out an average time it would take voters to fill out the forms, [Deputy Supervisor of Elections Christina] White said they didn’t have one.

Another indicator of the third world status of the Miami-Dade government is the state of denial in which they are operating. Despite making Florida once again a global laughingstock for its inability to conduct an election, we see claims of success:

The fallout left Florida the final much-mocked but blank spot on the long-decided Electoral College map.

Elections supervisors and Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez acknowledged a range of problems at a “handful” of sites — topped by a lengthy ballot and poorly organized precincts. But they also argued that no more than a half-dozen of the county’s 541 polling places experienced severe waits, including the Brickell Avenue area of downtown Miami, West Kendall, Country Walk, Goulds and Homestead.

Deputy supervisor of elections Christina White defended the county’s overall handling of the election, noting that 90 percent of precincts were closed by 10:45 p.m.

“We think Election Day was largely a success,’’ she said.

One claim in the Herald article cited above is that the Brickell Avenue site consolidated a number of precincts so that more people could vote at a site they were familiar with. But I already noted that Florida did a poor job generally in notifying people that they had been changed into new precincts, as I got a surprise when I went to vote in the August primary. On Tuesday, Carol Rosenberg tweeted the fate of at least one Miami resident who stood in line two hours only to learn that he had been changed to a different voting site.

While Miami-Dadistan has not yet sunk to the levels of incompetence and fraud seen in the 2010 Afghanistan election, we can only wonder if they are just a tax cut or two away from being there.

Miami-Dade Republican Mayor Gimenez Shrinks Government So Small It Can’t Conduct Election

Grover Norquist must be very proud of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez (R), who has shrunk the county government to a size at which it cannot conduct an election.

The electoral maps showing Barack Obama’s re-election should be complete now, but Florida once again has embarrassed itself completely by being unable to conduct an election. Fortunately, this time the outcome of the election does not hinge on Florida’s 29 electoral votes and only one county appears to be the problem instead of several counties languishing in chaos.

Miami-Dade County has announced that it will not have final election results until Wednesday afternoon. The reports on how the election was handled in parts of the county are truly ugly, as voters in some precincts faced waits of seven hours throughout the day:

The wait at the UTD Tower in Brickell exceeded six hours throughout the day. Even voters who arrived before the polls opened at 7 a.m. found themselves stuck in a seemingly endless line. At closing time, hundreds remained to cast their ballots.

Poll watchers said the precinct was understaffed and poorly organized.

For one, poll workers had trouble finding voters’ names in the hard-copy registry because two precincts (and six sub-precincts) were voting at one location.

“This is the worst excuse for a precinct I’ve ever seen,’’ said Manuel E. Iglesias, a volunteer attorney for the Romney campaign.

Of the eight ballot scanners, only two were working. Only two people were able to vote at any one time, he said.

Alexandra Lange, a 50-year-old Brickell resident, waited more than six hours to fill our her ballot. She left the polling place irate.

“This is a mess,’’ she said. “There is a bottleneck at the door. It is chaos.’’

Chaos due to small government would seem to be the goal of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez. From his own biography at the county’s website, we see that he wishes to define himself in terms of tax cuts and small government:

Mayor Gimenez brings decades of invaluable public service experience to the post, and continues to pursue a set of clearly defined priorities that reflect both his governing philosophy and the challenges of the current economic environment. After successfully championing the largest tax cut in County history during his first year in office, due to a special election, his priorities remain reducing the burden on taxpayers and shrinking the size of government, while preserving essential public safety services and programs for seniors and children.

It would seem that conducting an election does not fit into Mayor Gimenez’ definition of an essential government function. Grover Norquist must be very proud of him.