Friday, June 23, 2017

No One Should Write A Column Twice Per Week

This is correct! A nice thing about blogging is it allows you to recognize that sometimes you have a good point (or a point you think is good) which requires a just few sentences. Or even one! This is not to say that shorter is always better. I am not trying to write in favor of my usual style. It's just that if you have a two column per week gig then you have to turn those two possibly good sentences into 740 words. Also sometimes your point might take 1500 words! Maybe you have two timely wordy good takes two days in a row! And that won't be an option either! Gotta have one column for Tuesday, one for Saturday, or whatever.

The general point is that even people who have a lot to say and are good at finding interesting things to say those things are going to find it hard to come up with two good 740 word columns on schedule twice per week every week. Year after year after year.

It isn't that writing two columns per week for an absurd about of money is hard work, it's just that a lot of it is inevitably going to be bad work. Though, yes, a lot of the people with those jobs are also horribly bad at them for other reasons.

Nobody Cares About Process

I still see Dem politicians boasting about how many hearings, etc..., they had for Obamacare back in 2009. Sure there's a working the ref angle here - reporters shouldn't continue (they never should have begun) broadcasting Republican complaints (lies) about how the Dems didn't include them in the process - but Republicans don't care, Republican voters don't care, and most other voters don't care either.

Figure out how to beat this bill and/or cause maximum PR and electoral pain for anyone who votes for it. It isn't as if there hasn't been time to prepare for this. And, no, relying on "moderate Republicans" to do the right thing won't work.


I doubt they need to be "foolproof" in the sense of being 100% safe.

The problems with semiautonomous features should sound a warning bell for auto makers, tech companies and parts suppliers. Customers will need to be convinced that these semiautonomous features that are the building blocks for autonomous vehicles are foolproof before they give up driving control.

They need to work in a way which reduces your stress levels, not increases them. Look even basic "cruise control" which has been around forever was never especially awesome. Sure I use it sometimes and lots of people do but I generally turn it off after awhile because it felt like I had to pay more mental attention, not less, to what was going on. As long as you feel like you might have to take full control suddenly, there's a little primitive brain stress alarm just poised to go off. The "auto-pilot" of instinctive driving (which I've lost somewhat since I don't drive that much anymore) is actually more automatic than autonomous driving features that only sorta work.

Researchers find that Americans are particularly skittish about giving up control of a vehicle to an automated system, but a new study says car buyers are now simply fed up with semi-autonomous features like lane-departure assist and adaptive cruise control, the Wall Street Journal reports.

As part of J.D. Power’s annual Initial Quality Study, the Journal says car buyers reported being “increasingly dissatisfied with the semiautonomous features showing up on vehicles.”

Is this a good idea?

Auto makers and regulators are taking steps to make semiautonomous safety gear becomes more ubiquitous. Nearly a dozen top car companies, for instance, have pledged to make automatic emergency brakes standard on future vehicles.

It could be! But people will like it if they're basically unaware of it until it kicks in, and not if they're expecting to happen, not if they are told "ah, don't worry about the brake, the car will apply it if necessary..probably..."


It's obviously good that they are pro-actively going after a genuine fire hazard, but the broader issue is years of neglect of basic fire safety issues. The cladding is likely just one problem of many.
Thousands of tower block residents around the UK have been warned that their homes are clad with the same flammable aluminium panels believed to have fuelled the deadly blaze at Grenfell Tower in London.

A day of frantic testing by local authorities began to determine how many people were living in potentially dangerous high rises, after Theresa May warned that some of the first tests had revealed combustible cladding on buildings.

Some councils said that cladding would be stripped from buildings and that round-the-clock fire patrols would start immediately in suspect blocks.

They Did It!!!

Can't wait to take a self-driving taxi to the mall!!!

“We are delighted that JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs have completed the full financing for American Dream. The response by the investment community to the bond offering and private financing have been exceptional, both oversubscribed, confirming strong investor confidence in our vision for American Dream. We would like to thank the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and Borough of East Rutherford for their assistance in the bond sale.” Don Ghermezian, President, Triple Five.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Later Evening Arguing


Happy Hour Thread

Get happy.

On That Note

This has been the basic critique of the DCCC every since I started paying attention to these things. They don't have a great track record.

All of that can lead to the conclusion that the DCCC could be as incompetent as its leftist critics allege, and Democrats could still take back the House. But there’s another perspective, which is essentially that while the party can help on the margins, it’s greatest power is to actively screw things up. When I asked Jeff Hauser, the director of the Revolving Door Project and a former Democratic operative who has been critical of the DCCC, to lay out this case for me, he argued that the organization shapes how individual races play out, especially in their early stages. Here’s part of the email he sent in reply:
  • The DCCC recruits candidates and influences primaries by signaling who is viable or not to donors and state and local party actors.
  • Mega-donors and independent expenditure groups take cues about which races matter and which messages work from the DCCC.
  • Young but experienced political staff are often directed to campaigns by the DCCC — there are a lot of arranged staffing marriages where candidates and staff, even campaign managers, barely know each other.
  • And candidates pick and choose messages with an eye toward being in line with the DCCC’s thinking, as they know direct contributions and independent expenditures go to campaigns in line with the DCCC.
  • When Ossoff went wholly bland and didn’t run on Trump, Russia, or almost anything else readily identifiable as an issue, that represented a campaign following DCCC directions.
  • If you are a Democrat and think Ossoff blew an opportunity and fear more of the same in 2018, you need the DCCC’s theory of the electorate to improve.

The Long Game

I am much less likely to play Amateur Political Consultant than I once was. Campaigns do what they do and carping from the sidelines isn't going to change that. But the thing which is maddening is that we have House elections every 2 years in this country (plus special elections of course) and it's like the whole apparatus shuts down on election day and then revs back up again 12-15 months later. With all the money spent on TV ads you could actually pay people locally to worry about this stuff full time instead of reinventing everything. Dems always complain about low midterm turnout, but, well, what are people doing about it? There isn't a fixed amount of people that go to the polls. If you truly believe there are all these people who would vote for you if only you could get them to the polls, then..

Not A Debating Club

These days we mostly refer to "bothsidesing" as the need to come up with a supposedly Equal and Opposite Bad thing a Democrat did once in 1963 every time a Republican does something Bad. But a worse kind of bothsidesing is that Both Sides have serious lawmakers who just want what is best for the country but have ideological difference about how best to achieve that. So policy debates can be framed as "the free market" versus "big government."

But Republicans don't think poor people should have health care. They think people who get sick should die if they can't pay for treatment. Sure it's "the free market" (to some degree, nothing in our health care system is really "the free market"), but only in the sense that if you can't pay you don't get to buy the product. Fair enough for Maseratis, but in this case the product is "living."

Your Liberal Media

Still not liberal. The ratings will suck and they will keep it on the air anyway because obviously ratings aren't the goal. Who the hell - conservative, liberal, space alien - would want to watch Hugh Hewitt?

Even at "peak liberalism" MSNBC had an evening lineup of liberals, 3-4 hours of conservative Morning Joseph, and news coverage during the day which was fairly Obama-friendly, but not any more Obama-friendly than news outlets were Bush-friendly when he was in charge.


Despite all of this, uber doesn't have a viable business model. They subsidize every trip. By a lot.

Taking From The Poor To Give To The Rich

The details of the Senate Republican plan to make us all die faster aren't especially important, but even without knowing I could have told you: massive tax cuts for rich people financed by gutting Medicaid and making the shitty parts of Obamacare even shittier.

When Will Everyone Realize It Just Isn't Going To Work

Jokes on me, because everyone betting it will work probably got rich already, but...

News broke that Chris Lattner, Tesla's vice president of Autopilot software, was leaving Wednesday night — its third Autopilot exec departure in the last seven months.

While not applying specifically to Tesla, one reason I know that it isn't going to work is that almost everyone involved is focused on the hardest application - self-driving taxis. Of course this technology will work to some degree and get a bit better over time. Fixed or semi-fixed route buses would be possible (I question whether they'll be the killer cost-saving "app" people imagine, but they'll work), along with other similar things. But the idea that you snap your fingers and a car appears to whisk you off anywhere is Jetsons stuff.

Bye Jobs

Not the end of the world, of course. London is doing fine. But still disruptive for the people involved...

At a summit in Brussels on Thursday the EU’s 27 leaders – minus Theresa May – are expected to take the next crucial step in moving two EU agencies out of the British capital.

The EU is insisting the European Medicines Agency and the European Banking Authority, both located in Canary Wharf, find new homes after Brexit.

Given that they're EU agencies and the UK will no longer be in the US, having them be in London makes about as much as sense as having them be in Los Angeles, but I suppose "the EU is insisting"...

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Late Night

Rock on.

I'm Sure They Can Be Trusted


Several CIA contractors were kicked out of the agency for stealing more than $3,000 in snacks from vending machines, according to official documents newly obtained by BuzzFeed News.

Time For A Blogger Ethics Panel?

That's a story!
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday fired its highly regarded chief foreign affairs correspondent after evidence emerged of his involvement in prospective commercial deals — including one involving arms sales to foreign governments — with an international businessman who was one of his key sources.

Give Until It Hurts!!!

No, really, don't, but if you are fortunate enough to have a few spare nickels that you would otherwise give to Nice Polite Republicans...

Probably Not Much Of A Future Then

Nobody listens to me.

Looking beyond the immediate damage of a campaign like #deleteuber, there’s something else to consider for the long term: A big part of Uber’s perceived value has been attached to the notion that autonomous vehicle technology will enable the company to slough off its (human) driver cost-base entirely, i.e. not just by (as it does now) minimizing employment costs by using — some would say exploiting — low paid, ‘freelance contractors’ who do the actual work of driving people from A to B.

As far back as 2014 Kalanick has been saying Uber’s future lies in driverless cars.

“When there’s no other dude in the car, the cost of taking an Uber anywhere becomes cheaper than owning a vehicle. So the magic there is, you basically bring the cost below the cost of ownership for everybody, and then car ownership goes away,” he said three years ago, when Uber was valued at around $17BN, and without apparently a thought for the thousands of “dudes” he planned on leaving in the dust down the road.


They'll probably just fire the parliamentarian like they did once before, but, suck on 60 votes for the moment...

The Boy Got It Done

Was hilarious seeing people thinking this was "crazy."
Survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire are to be rehomed in a luxury housing development in the heart of Kensington, the government has said.
Sixty-eight one and two-bedroom flats have been acquired at the Kensington Row development, it added.