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Michigan’s Militia-Like Morons Can’t Math [UPDATE]

[Check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

They didn’t look very smart, the armed motley mess which staged a protest last Thursday on Michigan’s capitol steps culminating in a tantrum in the rotunda.

The protest reminded me of GOP representatives storming of a closed-door House hearing on the Ukraine quid pro quo — a staged protest meant to interfere and interrupt official governmental proceedings while providing a photo op for media and distracting the public from the underlying problem.

But last week’s armed protesters looked bad even if they were merely a distracting photo op. How does this serve their interests? They’ve undermined any credibility their right-wing ‘Blue Lives Matter’ brethren pushed since Ferguson protests in 2014.

Photo: Jeff Kowalsky, AFP-Getty Images. Shared here under Fair Use.
They’re an embarrassment to this state just as their whiny predecessors were during their Gridlock protest on April 15, violating the executive Stay Home order to rally on the capitol building’s steps, waving their Confederate flags and talking smack about the governor while puling about their lawns not getting cut and their roots not getting colored. Both protests two weeks apart violated the state’s laws related to the governor’s executive powers under a state of emergency.

But the embarrassment doesn’t end at the sight of the right-wing monkey horde barking like mad dogs at public servants who are only doing what they’re paid to do. It’s the horde’s inability to do basic math which makes them look deeply stupid.

The math:

Key:

Pink: 21 days from exposure at Easter to likely recovery.

Blue: 21 days from exposure at Gridlock protest to likely recovery.

Yellow: 21 days from exposure at Armed protest to likely recovery.

Lavender: 21 days from latest likely secondary exposure via Armed protest to likely recovery.

The period from exposure to COVID-19 carriers to average date clear of virus is about 21 days. The two protest rallies are marked off, Easter included since at least one church planned to hold service in spite of Governor Whitmer’s Stay Home order.

(Note a boo-boo on my part, should have marked April 30 as the first of 21 days ending on June 10.)

If Michiganders hadn’t had their little Gridlock tantrum on April 15, we’d have been done with Stay Home and more Michiganders would be alive today.

If all Michiganders stayed home uniformly as ordered and scrupulously obeyed the Stay Home order instead of a few hundred protesters having an armed conniption fit last Thursday, had they rigorously used masks whenever venturing into public spaces for essential business only, we’d have been done with the Stay Home order on the very day these rabid cretins protested in Lansing.

But no.

It’s bad enough that Easter observations in violation of the Stay Home order may have caused a spike in deaths 9-10 days later. But a protest which was supposed to be confined to cars?

Deaths were trending downward until the idiots’ Gridlock protest. It would be nice to know how many of the spike in deaths were people who attended the protest, or who broke the Stay Home order because they were inspired by Gridlock to do so. We may never know how many deaths were because of asymptomatic carriers exposed on that date unless researchers conduct a forensic genetic examination some time in the future.

To ignore this calculus and show up in the capitol without masks, ranting and exhaling in a confined space where law enforcement and lawmakers work is just plain moronic, risking personal health and life in a manner which also threatened others.

Or it’s something far worse — a deliberate attempt not only to interfere with the deliberative process in which all Michiganders have a stake and are represented by their democratically elected officials, but a terror attack intended to hurt and possibly kill the targets of protesters’ ire.

How many of the Michigan State Police, capitol police, lawmakers and staff will come down with COVID-19 as a direct result of this protest?

How many will represent minority majority regions of the state, disproportionately affected by COVID-19?

And how long will the rest of Michigan put up with the death cultists who threaten others, waving guns around inside our representatives’ workplace while blowing contagious viral material at others?

At this rate we’ll be under some form of quarantine all damned summer because these spoiled, stupid wretches can’t make the connection between their bad behavior and Michiganders’ deaths.

This is an open thread.

UPDATE — 05-MAY-2020 2:45 PM EST —

It doesn’t seem obvious to some people why Stay Home/shelter-in-place/lockdown is necessary in the absence of either proven pharmaceutical interventions to treat COVID-19 or a proven safe and effective vaccine targeting the underlying virus SARS-CoV-2. This tweet sums up the primary reason why Stay Home orders are necessary:

Henry Ford and Beaumont hospitals in the Detroit area experienced a month ago what happens to our health care system when people aren’t restricted from their former normal behavior. ICU beds are swamped, overflow capacity is likewise exceeded, ventilators and other respiratory aids are in short supply, painkiller and other drug inventory is decimated. Health care workers are overwhelmed and more likely to become sick themselves from a combination of stress, too many hours exposed to massive viral loads especially after personal protective gear has been depleted.

Lockdown to slow down the rate of contagion buys time for the health care system to handle the additional demand COVID-19 places on it — not to mention easing the pressure on other peripheral systems like refrigerated trucking and mortuary services.

It’s as if these armed cretins have already forgotten bodies piled up in hallways in at least on Michigan hospital.

But one additional benefit from a firm, well-enforced, and rigorously-observed lockdown: a change in citizens’ perspective. A societal reset, a reboot of our expectations.

There will be no return to what we once called normal. It’s done, gone, like poodle skirts and Brylcreem, rotary-dial phones and Betamax video, along with home parties hawking baby shit gold Tupperware.

These assholes spraying saliva as they scream at police — some of them out-of-state provocateurs — aren’t saving anything with their assault weapon intimidation. They are hanging onto a past by their fingernails while the virus has its mindless and predictable way with our population.

As contributor Peterr wrote, a virus doesn’t care. Those of us staying at home do. We don’t want to excessively burden our health care workers and system, we don’t want to hurt our friends and families by infecting them or causing them sorrow.

We want our state to get through this protracted period of discomfort and come out on the other side healthy and alive.

We’ll observe the lockdown orders long enough to break the growth of contagion. We’ll learn how to make and wear masks, and our lawmakers will learn how to ensure our law enforcement have the framework they need to maintain the break in contagion. If confirmed cases and deaths increase again, we’ll go back into another lockdown until we break it again.

This will be our new normal, our new social compact, until drug therapy and/or vaccines are ready in a year or two if we are lucky.

Lastly, we’ll observe the lockdowns because this isn’t the end of it. COVID-19 is only our here and now. Something else is out there waiting for us in the future once our new normal has been built.

These saliva-speckled jackasses screaming about their freedom while interfering with our democracy demonstrate our society isn’t ready if another pathogen like SARS-CoV-2 emerged as the climate crisis worsens.

Stay home. Wear a mask when you can’t. Keep your distance. Wash your hands.

COVID-19 Tick-Tock Redux — Gridlocked Edition

[Check the byline, thanks! /~Rayne]

On March 25 I published a post in which I counted out the anticipated time required from a surge of new COVID-19 exposures to the date when the exposed persons would likely be recovered, dead, or free of SARS-CoV-2 virus.

At that time the last big public event at which people would have gathered closely and ignored social distancing was St. Patrick’s Day on March 17. Several states issued shelter-in-place/Stay Home orders after the last of the green beer was served, among them Michigan on March 23.

See Marcy’s post for a list of other states’ lockdown orders.

Of course Trump’s malignant narcissism, megalomania, and oppositional defiant disorder kicked in several times during his near-daily coronavirus briefing cum re-election campaign rally. He has champed at restraints on business, in part because Trump organization businesses have been shut down and cut into whatever their revenue streams may be, and in part because his good-old-boy network has been prodding him about the market and their businesses’ lack of revenue.

Which in turn has been used by the right-wing and white nationalists to foment unease and dissension among the Tea Party-ish types.

Like these embarrassments to my state.

Photo: Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images

While the DeVos family denies having any ties to the Michigan Freedom Fund and the Michigan Conservative Coalition which organized the “Operation Gridlock” protest for this Wednesday in Lansing, somebody surely funded the groups behind these racist feckwits.

And somebody organized these mouthbreathing zombies in Ohio so they would protest in Ohio’s capital city Columbus at the same time.

Photo: Joshua A. Bickel/Columbus Dispatch

And somebody organized these sheep-dip-for-brains in Kentucky as well, also protesting in Kentucky’s capital city.

Sure feels like Tea Party 2.0, just missing the tea bags.

But it’s possible there’s some other entity behind this neatly coordinated multi-state tantrum. Let’s not forget that in 2016 a foreign influence operation persuaded Floridians to hold rally-like pro-Trump events via Facebook.

Somebody knows exactly who the easily motivated Trumpists are who would jump in their car on relatively short notice. It’s just not clear yet whether this was homegrown or if there was help from abroad. Such effort could explain the number of Trump flags and other pro-Trump paraphernalia present at these protests. It would also explain the presence of the far right Proud Boys.

Whatever the case, these whiny morons protesting the lockdowns in their respective states as incursions against their freedoms have likely spread COVID-19 amongst themselves due to their lack of adequate social distancing.

That photo of the mouthbreathers in Columbus fogging up the glass is a perfect example of the aerosolized exhalation humans give off and other humans breath in when there is poor air circulation and a lack of distance between humans. It’s highly possible this photo captured the moment of exposure between individuals. I do hope some well-masked journalist asked these people their names so they could follow up with them:

— in 5 days time when infection has likely set in and earliest symptoms begin;
— in 10-14 days when mild cases will have symptoms and severe to critical cases will seek medical treatment or hospitalization; and again
— in 21-28 days when the exposed have been hospitalized, treated, begun to recover, or died leaving their loved ones behind to answer questions.

We’ll be watching the calendar for the wave of new cases which will likely start this weekend.

Calendar: days until primary and secondary exposures post-Gridlock have cleared

Thanks to these thoughtless morons demanding their freedom to buy lawn fertilizer and visit their hair colorist right the fuck now, the rest of us could be looking at lockdown extended to Memorial Day.

Yes, it will be nearly the end of May until the secondary exposures and infections die out after the primary wave of new exposures recover or fade.

It was bad enough that we will likely have a small wave of new cases because of resistance from evangelical and fundamentalist Christian churches which insisted on holding services for Easter. Those exposures would result in new cases from a primary exposure requiring recovery through the first week of May.

Freedom for the rest of us is sadly dependent on waiting out the illness and death of the persuadable and stupid.

This is an open thread.

Trump’s Death Panel Comes for Detroit [UPDATE-1]

[Update at bottom of post, thanks. /~Rayne]

Ordinarily I wouldn’t step on Marcy’s posts by putting another one up so soon and one so short, but I am both FURIOUS and scared sick about this.

Since last night, Detroit Free Press confirmed yesterday’s rumors about the number of ventilators at one chain of Detroit hospitals — that area hospitals had run out of ventilators and patients were notified on arrival they may not have access to a ventilator if needed.

Without ventilators, those suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome in critical need may die.

Trump decided to kill Detroiters by withholding essential equipment. He’s chosen not to act in a timely fashion and interfered with the state’s ability to obtain equipment, while trash talking about Michigan’s governor in the process.

Welcome to Trump’s death panel.

Michigan’s Governor Whitmer couldn’t make it any more plain how urgent the situation was, just as Governor Cuomo has.

Trump’s gross negligence isn’t hurting just black Detroiters, either — yeah, I went there, you know damned well Trump doesn’t care about the woman who is our governor or the black people who are the majority in Detroit.

Trump is hurting rural white Michiganders in areas that voted for him in 2016.

If this is how he’s setting out to win swing states, I hate to see what more harm he’ll cause to solidly blue states.

UPDATE — 1:10 P.M. ET —

You need to watch this video produced by an ER nurse in Oakland County, Michigan. The county straddles four congressional districts, two of which recently flipped blue. This is where white flight settled pre-2000, leaving Detroit behind.

They don’t even have acetaminophen to give patients when they put the ventilator tube down their throats — assuming they still have ventilators right now.

Trump’s death panel won’t just kill you. It will make sure you suffer along the way.

 

Something in the Water: GOP Rep. Mitchell Bows out in Michigan

[Please check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

Rep. Paul Mitchell of Michigan’s 10th congressional district announced Wednesday he would not seek re-election.

He explained to Politico, “You look at the rhetoric and vitriol, it overwhelms policy, politics becomes the norm. Everything’s about politics. Everything’s about an election. And at some point of time, that’s not why I came here.”

Mitchell also said “A career in Washington was never my objective,” wanting to focus on issues while in office. He had also criticized the racist remarks made about the House Democrats’ freshman “squad” which includes fellow Michigander Rashida Tlaib. Tlaib’s 13th congressional district is on the other side of Detroit from Mitchell’s.

In Mitchell’s case more time with family is a key reason for leaving; he has a child with special needs at home in Michigan.

~ ~ ~

Here’s where it gets interesting. Really can’t blame Mitchell for wanting to get out of the cesspool before it gets any worse, especially when his family needs him at home.

But were there other reasons for him leaving? Recall that The New York Times ran a piece on Monday, These Michigan Voters Show How Trump’s ‘Go Back’ Attack May Help Him.

It was a crappy piece in that it only spoke with white people, and most appeared to be in MI-10. Granted, MI-10 is very rural, very Republican (R+13) , and very white (like 93% white), but the article painted an image of a district which was very racist.

Mitchell had been asked for his opinion about Trump’s ‘Go Back’ remarks:

Even so, Representative Paul Mitchell, the conservative Republican who represents the Port Huron area, struck a note of caution. “I do believe this strategy will be damaging to this election,” Mr. Mitchell said in a telephone interview. He has asked for a meeting with the president, hoping to add his voice to other Republicans who have urged Mr. Trump to restrain himself.

All of the women whom Mr. Trump told to “go back” to their countries — Ms. Tlaib and Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts — are United States citizens, and only one, Ms. Omar, was born outside the country, in Somalia.

“I was appalled by the chanting ‘send her back,’” Mr. Mitchell said of the crowd at Mr. Trump’s rally Wednesday in North Carolina, where the chant was directed at Ms. Omar. For Mr. Mitchell, the message struck close to home. “My youngest son was born in Russia,” he said. “We adopted him. He’s an American.”

Mitchell also felt Trump’s racist remarks would spur minority voter turnout, which seems like an odd thing to worry about in a district that’s so very white.

Did the NYT get this wrong, perhaps talking to an insufficiency of MI-10 voters only to come away with the sentiment that Trump’s xenophobia could be a winner?

Or did Mitchell feel he was unable to reconcile his personal beliefs with that of his constituents?

There’s one other darker possibility. Did the GOP ask Mitchell to step down and let a pro-Trump white nationalist run for MI-10 in order to assure Trump carries the district in 2020?

Stranger things have happened.

~ ~ ~

A couple more things to keep in mind about MI-10:

The district is extremely rural — it has approximately 705,000 residents but one of the largest areas of Michigan’s districts. It’s also inside the reach of a Sinclair TV station, received more reliably than internet across the district.

The city of Flint’s new water pipeline runs through the middle of the district from Flint to Lake Huron. Two drivers pushing the pipeline’s development and subsequently forcing Flint off Detroit’s water system were the bank(s) funding the pipeline and development of fracking near the water pipeline in MI-10. Fracking needs more water than can be obtained by simply drilling wells.

Enbridge’s Line 5 also runs through the district. Michiganders want the pipeline shut down because it runs under water through the straits between lakes Michigan and Huron, posing a massive risk to these Great Lakes should the aged pipe fail.

How these factors feature in Mitchell’s decision and the 2020 race is anybody’s guess at this point but they shouldn’t be disregarded.

Adder: Ran across this article in MetroTimes published here in Michigan. Seems John James, black candidate running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Gary Peters, has removed all references to Trump from his social media sites.

Hmm.

Thursday: Alien Occupation

Since I missed a Monday post with a movie clip I think I’ll whip out a golden oldie for today’s post.

This movie — especially this particular scene — still gets to me 37 years after it was first released. The ‘chestburster’ as scene is commonly known is the culmination of a body horror trope in Ridley Scott’s science fiction epic, Alien. The horror arises from knowing something happened to the spacecraft Nostromo’s executive officer Kane when a ‘facehugger’ leapt from a pod in an alien ship, eating through his space helmet, leaving him unresponsive as long as the facehugger remained attached to his face. There is a brief sense of relief once the facehugger detaches and Kane returns to consciousness and normal daily functions. But something isn’t right as the subtle extra scrutiny of the science officer Ash foreshadows at the beginning of this scene.

Director Ridley Scott employed a different variant of body horror in his second contribution to the Alien franchise, this time by way of a xenomorph implanted in her mimicking pregnancy in scientist Shaw. She is sterile, and she knows whatever this is growing inside her must be removed and destroyed or it will kill both her and the remaining crew. The clip shared here and others available in YouTube actually don’t convey the complete body horror — immediately before Shaw enters this AI-operated surgical pod she is thwarted by the pod’s programming for a default male patient. In spite of her mounting panic and growing pain she must flail at the program to enter alternative commands which will remove the thing growing inside her.

I suspect the clips available in YouTube were uploaded by men, or they would understand how integral to Shaw’s body horror is the inability to simply and quickly tell this surgical pod GET THIS FUCKING THING OUT OF ME RIGHT THE FUCK NOW.

I don’t know if any man (by which I mean cis-man) can really understand this horror. Oh sure, men can realistically find themselves host to things like tapeworms and ticks and other creatures which they can have removed. But the horror of frustration, being occupied by something that isn’t right, not normal, shouldn’t continue, putting its host at mortal risk — and not being able to simply demand it should be removed, or expect resources to avoid its implantation and occupation in one’s self? No. Cis-men do not know this terror.

Now imagine the dull background terror of young women in this country who must listen to white straight male legislators demand ridiculous and offensive hurdles before they will consider funding birth control to prevent sexual transmission of Zika, or fund abortions of Zika-infected fetuses which put their mothers at risk of maternal mortality while the fetuses may not be viable or result in deformed infants who’ll live short painful lives. Imagine the horror experienced by 84 pregnant women in Florida alone who’ve tested positive for Zika and are now being monitored, who don’t know the long-term outcomes for themselves or their infants should their fetuses be affected by the virus.

Body horror, daily, due to occupation not only by infectious agents alien to a woman’s body, but occupation by patriarchy.

I expect to get pooh-poohed by men in comments to which I preemptively say fuck off. I’ve had a conversation this week about Zika risks with my 20-something daughter; she turned down an invitation this past week to vacation with friends in Miami. It’s a realistic problem for her should she accidentally get pregnant before/during/immediately following her trip there.

We also talked about one of her college-age friend’s experiences with Guillain–Barré syndrome. It’s taken that young woman nearly three years to recover and resume normal function. She didn’t acquire the syndrome from Zika, but Guillain–Barré’s a risk with Zika infections. There’s too little research yet about the magnitude of the risk — this vacation is not worth the gamble.

But imagine those who live there and can’t take adequate precautions against exposure for economic reasons — imagine the low-level dread. Imagine, too, the employment decisions people are beginning to make should job offers pop up in areas with local Zika transmission.

What’s it going to take to get through to legislators — their own experience of body horror? Movies depicting body horror don’t seem to be enough.

Wheels
Put these two stories together — the next question is, “Who at VW ordered the emissions cheat device from Bosch before 2008?”

Pretty strong incentives for Volkswagen to destroy email evidence. I wonder what Bosch did with their emails?

Self-driving electric cars are incredibly close to full commercialization based on these two stories:

  • Michigan’s state senate bill seeks approval of driverless cars (ReadWrite) — Bill would change state’s code to permit “the motor vehicle to be operated without any control or monitoring by a human operator.” Hope a final version ensures human intervention as necessary by brakes and/or steering wheel. I wonder which manufacturer or association helped write this code revision?
  • California now committed to dramatic changes in greenhouse gas emissions (Los Angeles Times) — State had already been on target to achieve serious reductions in emissions by 2020; the new law enacts an even steeper reduction by 2030 in order to slow climate change effects and improve air quality.

I don’t know if I’m ready to see these on the road in Michigan. Hope the closed test track manufacturers are using here will offer realistic snow/sleet/ice experience; if self-driving cars can’t navigate that, I don’t want to be near them. And if Michigan legislators are ready to sign off on self-driving cars, I hope like hell the NHTSAA is way ahead of them — especially since emissions reductions laws like California’s are banking heavily on self-driving electric cars.

Google-y-do

  • Google’s parent Alphabet-ting on burritos from the sky (Bloomberg) — No. No. NO. Not chocolate, not doughnuts, not wine or beer, but Alphabet subsidiary Project Wing is testing drone delivery of Chipotle burritos to Virginia Tech students? Ugh. This has fail all over it. Watch out anyhow, pizza delivery persons, your jobs could be on the bubble if hot burritos by drone succeed.
  • API company Apigee to join Google’s fold (Fortune) — This is part of a big business model shift at Google. My guess is this acquisition was driven by antitrust suits, slowing Google account growth, and fallout from Oracle’s suit against Google over Java APIs. Application programming interfaces (APIs) are discrete programming subroutines which, in a manner of speaking, act like glue between different programs, allowing programmers to obtain resources from one system for use in a different function without requiring the programmer to have more than passing understanding of the resource. An API producer would allow Google’s other systems to access or be used by non-Google systems.
  • Google to facilitate storage of Drive content at cloud service Box (PC World) — Here’s where an API is necessary: a Google Drive user selects Box instead of Drive for storage, and the API routes the Drive documents to Box instead of Drive. Next: imagine other Google services, like YouTube-created/edited videos or Google Photo-edited images, allowing storage or use by other businesses outside of Google.

Longread: Digitalization and its panopticonic effect on society
Columbia’s Edward Mendelson, Lionel Trilling Professor in Humanities and a contributor at PC Magazine, takes a non-technical look at the effect our ever-on, ever-observing, ever-connected technology has on us.

Catch you later!

Monday Morning: Brittle

The Emperor’s Palace was the most splendid in the world, all made of priceless porcelain, but so brittle and delicate that you had to take great care how you touched it. …

— excerpt, The Nightingale from The Yellow Fair Book by Andrew Lang

Last week I’d observed that Apple’s stock value had fallen by ~7% after its financial report was released. The conventional wisdom is that the devaluation was driven by Apple’s first under-performing quarter of iPhone sales, indicating weaker demand for iPhones going forward. Commenter Ian remarked that Apple’s business model is “brittle.” This perspective ignores the meltdown across the entire stock global market caused by China’s currency devaluation, disproportionately impacting China’s consumption habits. It also ignores great untapped or under-served markets across other continents yet to be developed.

But more importantly, this “wisdom” misses a much bigger story, which chip and PC manufacturers have also reflected in their sales. The video above, now already two years old, explains very neatly that we have fully turned a corner on devices: our smartphones are and have been replacing our desktops.

Granted, most folks don’t go through the hassle of purchasing HDMI+USB connectors to attach larger displays along with keyboards. They continue to work on their phones as much as possible, passing content to and from cloud storage when they need to work from a keyboard attached to a PC. But as desktops and their attached monitors age, they are replaced in a way that supports smartphones as our main computing devices — flatscreen monitors, USB keyboards and mice, more powerful small-footprint external storage.

And ever increasing software-as-a-service (SaaS) combined with cloud storage.

Apple’s business model isn’t and hasn’t been just iPhones. Not since the debut of the iPod in October 2001 has Apple’s business model been solely focused on devices and the operating system required to drive them. Heck, not since the debut of iTunes in January 2001 has that been true.

Is there a finite limit to iPhones’ market? Yeah. Same for competing Android-driven devices. But is Apple’s business just iPhones? Not if iTunes — a SaaS application — is an indicator. As of 2014, there were ~66 million iPhones in the U.S., compared to ~800 million iTunes users. And Apple’s current SaaS offerings have exploded over time; the Apple store offers millions of apps created by more than nine million registered developers.

At least nine million registered developers. That number alone should tell you something about the real business model.

iPhones are a delivery mechanism, as are Android-based phones. The video embedded above shows just how powerful Android mobile devices can be, and the shift long underway is not based on Apple’s platform alone. If any business model is brittle right now, it’s desktop computing and any software businesses that rely solely on desktops. How does that change your worldview about the economy and cybersecurity? Did anyone even notice how little news was generated about the FBI accessing the San Bernardino shooter’s PCs? Was that simply because of the locked Apple iOS account, or was it in part because the case mirrored society’s shift to computing and communications on mobile devices?

File under ‘Stupid Michigan Legislators‘: Life sentences for automotive hackers?
Hey. Maybe you jackasses in Michigan’s state senate ought to deal with the permanent poisoning of nearly 8000 children in Flint before doing something really stupid like making one specific kind of hacking a felony worthy of a life sentence. And maybe you ought to do a little more homework on hacking — it’s incredibly stupid to charge a criminal with a life sentence for a crime as simple as entry permitted by wide-open unlocked doors. Are we going to allocate state money to chase hackers who may not even be in this country? Are we going to pony up funds for social media monitoring to catch hackers talking about breaching wide-open cars? Will this law deter citizen white hats who identify automakers’ vulnerabilities? File this mess, too, under ‘Idiotic Wastes of Taxpayers’ Money Along with Bathroom Legislation by Bigots‘. This kind of stuff makes me wonder why any smart people still live in this state.

File this, too, under ‘Stupid Michigan Legislators‘: Lansing Board of Water and Light hit by ransomware
Guess where the first ransomware attack on a U.S. utility happened? Do I need to spell it out how ridiculous it looks for the electric and water utility for the state’s capitol city to be attacked by ransomware while the state’s legislature is worrying about who’s using the right bathroom? Maybe you jackasses in Lansing ought to look at funding assessment and security improvements for ALL the state’s utilities, including both water safety and electricity continuity.

Venezuela changes clocks to reduce electricity consumption
Drought-stricken Venezuela already reduced its work week a month ago to reduce electricity demand. Now the country has bumped its clocks forward by 30 minutes to make more use of cooler early hour during daylight. The country has also instituted rolling blackouts to cutback on electricity. Cue the right-wing pundits claiming socialism has failed — except that socialism has absolutely nothing to do with a lack of rainfall to fill reservoirs.

Coca Cola suing for water as India’s drought deepens
This is a strong piece, worth a read: Whose Water Is It Anyway?

After a long battle, the UN declared in 2010 that clean water was a fundamental right of all citizens. Easier said than done. The essential, alarming question has become, ‘Who does the groundwater belong to?’ Coca Cola is still fighting a case in Kerala where the farmers rebelled against them for using groundwater for their bottling plants. The paddy fields for miles around dried up as water for Coke or the company’s branded bottled water was extracted and transported to richer urban consumers.

Who did that groundwater belong to? Who do our rivers belong to? To the rich and powerful who can afford the resources to draw water in huge quantities for their industries. Or pollute the rivers with effluent from their industries. Or transport water over huge distances at huge expense to turn it into profit in urban areas.

Justus Rosenberg: One of Hannah Arendt’s rescuers
Ed Walker brought this piece to my attention, a profile of 95-year-old Justus Rosenberg featured in this weekend’s New York Times. I love the last two grafs especially; Miriam Davenport characterized Rosenberg as “a nice, intelligent youngster with no family, no money, no influence, no hope, no fascinating past,” yet he was among those who “…were a symbol of sorts, to me, in those days […] Everyone was moving Heaven and earth to save famous men, anti-fascist intellectuals, etc.” Rosenberg was a superhero without a cape.

That’s our week started. See you tomorrow morning!

See you tomorrow morning!

Thursday Morning: A Little Green Around The Gills

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to those of you who observe this opportunity to drink beer (tinted green or otherwise) and eat boiled dinner and wear green! We’ll know the hardcore among you tomorrow by your hangovers.

Folks overseas don’t understand how St. Patrick’s Day blew up to the same proportions as other holidays like Halloween, blaming it on American commercialization. But the holiday as observed in the U.S., like Halloween, has roots in immigration. Four to five million Irish immigrated to the U.S.; their descendants here are nearly 40 million today, roughly seven times the number of actual Irish in Ireland now. With this many Irish-Americans, even a tepid observation of St. Patrick’s Day here would be visible abroad.

In addition to all things green, we’ll be watching this week’s second #FlintWaterCrisis hearing. Representatives Chaffetz and Cummings can go all shouty on Michigan’s OneLawyeredUpNerd Governor Rick Snyder and EPA’s Gina McCarthy though I have my doubts anything new will emerge. (And you’ll see me get really angry if Rep. SlackerForMichigan Tim Walberg shows up to merely make face on camera. Useless helicoptering.)

Unlike Tuesday, I hope like hell somebody brings up Legionnaire’s cases and deaths in Flint after the cut-over of Flint’s water to Flint River. Thousands of children may have been permanently poisoned by lead, but people sickened and died because of this complete failure of government-as-a-business.

I can’t stress this enough: There were fatalities in Flint because of the water.

Hearing details – set a reminder now:

Thursday 17-MAR — 9:00 AM — Gov. Snyder (R-MI) & EPA Head McCarthy: House Hearing on Flint, MI Water Crisis (est 3 hours, on C-SPAN3)   Link to House Oversight Committee calendar entry

You can find my timeline on Flint’s water here — as noted Tuesday, it’s a work in progress and still needs more entries.

Moving on…

Apple leaves Amazon for Google’s cloud service
Wait, what?! File under ‘Wow, I didn’t know!’ because I really though Apple housed all its cloud services under its own roof. I mean, I’ve written about data farms before, pointed to a new Apple location. I didn’t know Apple had outsourced some of its iCloud to Amazon.

Which makes Senator Ron Wyden’s remarks about asking the NSA with regard to the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone even more interesting.

No wonder Apple is moving to Google, considering Amazon’s relationship with certain government agencies as a cloud service provider. Some of Apple’s data will remain with Amazon for now; we might wonder if this is content like iTunes versus users’ data. Keep your eyes open for future Apple cloud migrations.

US Navy sailors’ electronic devices combed for data by Iran
Gee, encrypted devices and communications sure are handy when members of the military are taken into custody by other countries. Too bad the Navy’s devices weren’t as secure as desired when Iran’s navy detained an American vessel in January this year. To be fair, we don’t know what all was obtained, if any of the data was usable. But if the devices were fully encrypted, Iran probably wouldn’t have said anything.

American Express’ customers’ data breached — in 2013
Looks like a select number of AmEx customers will receive a data breach notice with this explanation:

We became aware that a third party service provider engaged by numerous merchants experienced unauthorized access to its system. Account information of some of our Card Members, including some of your account information, may have been involved. It is important to note that American Express owned or controlled systems were not compromised by this incident, and we are providing this notice to you as a precautionary measure.

The breach happened on December 7, 2013, well into the Christmas shopping season, but we’re just finding out now? “Third party service” means “not our fault” — which may explain why AmEx shareholders (NASDAQ:AXP) haven’t been notified of a potential risk to stock value as yet. Who/what was the third party service? Where’s their notification to public and shareholders?

I need to brew some coffee and limber up before the hearing on Flint, track down my foam footballs and baseballs to throw at the TV while Gov. Snyder goes on about how sorry he is and how he’s going to fix Flint’s water crisis. Oh, and find an emesis basin. See you here tomorrow morning!

Thursday Morning: Don’t Feel Bad

While I am sorry a family has lost their father, I can’t mourn the bizarre passing yesterday of Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon.

McClendon had been indicted Tuesday for price fixing on real estate related to natural gas and oil development. Charges against him had been expected since 2012 when the violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act came to light.

But for a Michigander like me, this is not a remote and abstract story. Property over the Collingwood Shale formation in Northern Michigan was included in collusion between McClendon and Encana Oil & Gas executives to “avoid bidding up” prices. Between Chesapeake and Canadian corporation Encana, the two businesses owned nearly a million acres of Michigan — a chunk of land the size of Rhode Island.

Imagine it: two corporations buying a state-sized mass of land at rigged prices within a state. And all of it with underground water connected to a couple of the largest freshwater bodies in the world, much of it earmarked for fracking.

Energy visionary“? That’s what other resources leeches might call McClendon, who was at the heart of a dispute over Lake Michigan shoreline property. The land had been willed to “the children” of Benton Harbor by former residents J.N. and Carrie Klock, in memory of their daughter Jean, for use as a public park. In dedicating the land, J.N. Klock said, “…See to it that the park is the children’s.”

It was the only such lakefront park for Benton Harbor, a financially-challenged city with 89% African American residents. But the property adjoined the intended development of a Jack Nicklaus golf course, and the McClendon family as well as other notable figures (like Rep. Fred Upton and Whirlpool CEO Jeff Fettig) lived in the neighborhood of both the intended golf course and Jean Klock Park. The dispute caused considerable heartburn for Benton Harbor residents. It still boggles my mind that wealthy parasites like McClendon simply felt they could ignore the intent of the Klocks’ intentions, their proxies arguing the pricey (read: unaffordable to the average Benton Harborite) golf course would meet the standard of public access.

Note also, that Benton Harbor was among the Michigan cities to which an emergency financial manager had been appointed because of its municipal financial crisis — just like Flint, Michigan.

I can only imagine what other parasitic nonsense will emerge in the debris field left by McClendon. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Quick hits

That’s enough damage for now. Be anti-parasitic and do something nice for others today.

Appalachian State Trashnado: The Second One

Hey there Lugnuts, how the hell you doing? That’s right, Trash Talk is back. Bigger. Better. And more trashy than ever. This ain’t no party. This ain’t no disco. This ain’t no fooling around. There are probably other things this ain’t. But I cannot find David Byrne to tell us. But he obviously would. Cause he would be one of us.

To be honest, there would still be no Trash until the start of the proper NFL season. But for one little thing from Appalachia, i.e. the Mountaineers. And the most glorious September 1, 2007 battle in the Big House where the Mountaineers bathed in the glorious defeat of the hometown Michigan Bo Merlot Wolvereenies. I have been to some outlandishly kick ass monumental college football games, but this one I had to consume by giant TeeVee. Nevertheless, glorious it was. Wiki has an awesome entry on the gig.

And here we are, seven years later, quite nearly to the day. YAY! So, after some concerted badgering by Marcy and Jim, it was unquestionably time to trash the place up. And so we shall.

Before we take a brief look at the weekend’s festivities, let us stop for a second and bow down to Texas A + M. Kevin Sumlin has got something going on down there. And, yeah, I am pretty sure this will draw the Gulf Coast Pirate out of his rum filled Galveston area cove. But truth abides (as does The Dude). Wait. Where was I? Oh yeah, Texas A+M just blew up #5 rated South Carolina, and ‘Ole Ball Coach Steve Spurrier. 55 – 28. Ouch. Wow. Keep your eye on the Aggies and new QB Kenny Hill. Who killed Kenny?? Nobody, Kenny killed Johnny Football. Also on Thursday and Friday, ‘Ole Miss put some hurt on a game Boise State team, ASU held back and still blew out Weber State, and Sparty from that other Michigan School took apart the other Gamecocks, from Jacksonville State. Bad weekend at Black Rock for all things Gamecock it seems.

Okay, yeah, yeah, on Friday night, BYU whipped UConn and Arizona and Rich Rod looks on their way to the same against UNLV. Nevada might be a better match, but UNLV is cannon fodder for the Kitties down here under in teh Old Pueblo.

But Saturday AM brings the Mountaineers back in the Merlot land of Ann Arbor. The scene of such hope and glory past. Can it be the future? Ah, fate has a fickle finger, you never know! Okay, maybe that Emptywheel lady will chafe at all this fond recollection of the glory of 2007, but this is fair and impartial peoples! That’s right, I have an official military man, Col. Morris Davis on my side. (If he flip flops now, he is dead to me!).

So, some other games of interest this weekend include: Ohio State Blecheyes visiting the Navy Midshipmen and their awesome new helmets. Seriously, these Navy helmets are bad ass. After this use, Navy is gonna contribute them to some riot police in a small American hamlet in order to suppress the peoples. Like Ferguson.).

UCLA at Virginia may be a great test for a UCLA team that a few are putting in the National Championship game. I like the Bruins here, but not to get to the big one. The other Mountaineers, of West Virginia, can often hang and play, but Alabama will rock them. Don’t sleep on Rice at Notre Dame. Cause, you know, teh Irish will probably be freaking out obsessed over their fake girlfriends and all. Clemson at Georgia is kind of interesting this early. Both superb programs with a boatload of transition. LSU will take the Badgers from Wisconsin, but it may not be easy. The Seminoles SHOULD take care of the OSU Cowboys. I think. But I also think Jameis Winston is shaky, if not a relentless scofflaw, and who knows? Lastly, the Fresno State Buldogs at USC. I actually think the Trojans win this, but would have no surprise if they did not. USC is a clusterfuck right now, and there is no way around that.

So, have you felt the change around here? It is subtle, but give it a go. In the meantime, get yer ya ya’s out and rip this joint. It is football season once more.

Rumble at the Big House Trash Talk

[As a reminder, it is fundraising week Chez Emptywheel. Please help support our work if you can.]

[special Live Update From the America’s Cup below]
We are only a week into real football and already there is a blockbuster game on tap. The Fighting Irish are going up the country to visit the Big Blue Bo Merlots at the Big House. Lotta B’s in that sentence, but it is hard to give these two teams A’s! (Thanks, I will be here all week, enjoy the veal). Well, at least this game is not in the ignominious class of the 2007 game, which was a scintillating battle of unvictorious and untied loser teams. So, there is that.

Now, what should we expect when expecting this mammoth matchup? For one thing, some great trash talking! And, man, there has already been some prime trashing going on behind the ESPN Gameday set in Ann Arbor. Check out the sign this guy has to greet the blighted Irish:

Play like your girlfriend is real today

Hahahahaha, oh man my side hurts. As an extra bonus, the Game Day folks were just discussing the Arizona v. UNLV game, and all picked “Rich Rod’s team”. The boos from the Michigan cognoscenti about shook the earth at the mention of Rich Rod. Some bonus trash from the Big Mitten: Michigan coach Brady Hoke slams Johnny Football by saying the reigning Heisman winner wouldn’t even be starting were he on the Big Blue. Whoa! Also, Notre Dame, in apparently the only way they could find to show that they can rock and roll, have added Bon Jovi’s kid as a walk on cornerback on their roster.

Since the NCAA put in their overtime rules, I guess someone has to win this game. My friend Armando (who weekly does a series of picks at Talk Left) has the Domers and the 4 points. Naw, Big Blue all the way baybee! Also on tap today is Jim White and Armando’s Florida Gators hooking up in South Beach with the Miami Hurricanes. This game is far from what it once might would have been, but still could be good. Canes in a big home upset. The other really sweet matchup is South Carolina at Georgia. Clemson clocked the Bulldogs in the first week. Hard to see the Dawgs going 0-2 to start the year, but I am rolling with the ‘Ole Ball Coach and his Cocks.

Well then, off to the NFL we go. The only game of note in the pros is The Cheese versus The Niners. Is san Fran as good as they looked last year? Does Colin Kaepernick have too many weapons now that he has Anquan Boldin to go with Vernon Davis and Frank Gore et. al? Who in the world is playing on Green Bay’s offensive line at this point and what will the Pack do for a QB when Aaron Rodgers gets his clock cleaned because of that porous O-Line? This REALLY pains me to say it, but Niners roll at home.

Couple of other pro games of note, namely the Sunday and Monday Night games. SNF is the Gents at the Owboys. Jerry Jones says he is so excited he has insomnia. Think Good Eli will show up to give Jerry indigestion too? Not me, nope this is early in the season and the Cowboys will dredge up some more usual hollow hope for the hometown. But they play again, and Eli will own that one. On MNF we have teh Iggles at the Skins. The much awaited debut of the Chip Kelly Quack Attack run by Mike Vick in the NFL, and the return of the rebuilt RGIII. This is a very tough call. Slight edge to Skins because they are at home, Kelly needs time to have his offense gel and Philly’s defense is a question mark. If vick stays healthy and productive though, watch out. A real sleeper game is the Cardinals at the Rams. Both teams are WAY improved. Watch out for Larry Fitzgerald now that he has Carson Palmer instead of a string of scrubs throwing to him, and the Card’s defense should be solid once again.

Lastly, this weekend is the Italian Grand Prix. There are a few MUST watch races on the Formula One calendar, and Monza is at the top. It always is, but there may be weather Sunday, which could seriously skew things and turn it into really compelling theatre. I was up for qualifying this morning and am sad to report the Red Bulls, led by Sebastian Vettel, have locked out the front row. Nico Hulkenberg surprisingly got his Sauber into P3, with Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso in P4 and P5 respectively. The buzz everywhere is that this race, at effectively Ferrari’s home track, will likely decide Massa’s future. Out qualifying Fernando is a good start, but the result is what will matter. Massa is almost certainly driving for his future in F1 at all with Kimi Raikkonen’s potential return to Maranello lurking. The one thing in Massa’s favor is that Alonso wants no part of Kimi returning to the fold. Should be an interesting race and it goes off at 8:00 am EST on NBCSports.

THIS JUST IN: SPECIAL LIVE UPDATE FROM THE AMERICA’S CUP RACE!

ACRace 2This is from our very own fearless Emptywheel Roving Reporter Rosalind, hot off the wires!

“Greetings Wheelies! it is I Rosalind, Roving Reporter. The Emptywheel
assignment editor forced me to spend the weekend in San Francisco. Temp in the 80s, clear blue skies, giant boats flying across the water. Good times.

When we last met, I was waxing rhapsodic over the America’s Cup Sailing races finally coming to San Francisco, one of the most perfect natural venues for a sailboat race. Alas, Larry Ellison, Mr. Oracle, as defender of the Cup got to chose the new boat design and went with a radical new approach: giant catamarans with towering fixed wings that can go really really fast – 50 mph fast – but are wickedly unstable in the SF Bay conditions.

ACRace 3Two destroyed boats and one crew member’s death later, the official America’s Cup finals kicked off today, after a summer Challenger series where the only suspense was which boat was gonna break down first. Truthfully. I really wanted to blow off this trip, but you know how stern the EW taskmaster can be. So here I am, in glorious weather surrounded by tourists from around the World and SF citizens from all about and happy happy shopkeepers loving the influx of customers. The races are free to all, just head to the waterfront and pick a spot. Grandstands free for the public are near the Marina Green.

ACRace 4A relative treated me to a reception last night at the St Francis Yacht Club where the Italian engineers responsible for figuring out Computational Flow Dynamics made a lot of sense for why this new Wing technology will have other applications and is a great advancement, but they had an open bar and well, I’ll have to get back to you on that one….

The New Zealand boat looked scary good today, the boat was just flying over the water. The Oracle boat looked off its game from the get go. They lost a crew member over the side per-race, and it went down for, there. They had a rip in their Wing that they patched with Duck Tape (hee…h/t EW)

Races 3 and 4 tomorrow (Sunday).

That is it for this sporting weekend ladies and gents. There are a plethora of games and things to talk about, and let’s get to it in comments. Music this week by, of course, a Michigan man, Bob Seger and his Silver Bullet Band, with the classics Travellin Man and Beautiful Loser. Wonderful tunes if you have not heard them in a while.