Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Endlessly Repeating

I admit I didn't think that in 2018 we'd still be talking about... Joe DiGenova.


Zuckerberg and the gang should be social pariahs. That's the worst you can do to full of shit boy billionaires. It isn't so much about political campaigns, it's that Facebook basically let everyone scrape their database in ways that even data/privacy paranoids weren't quite aware of.

I'd say spit at him if you see him, but that'd probably get you arrested, so just boo.

Since The Weather Sucks,

and is going to continue to suck for the next twenty-four hours, I declare an early happy hour.

Afternoon, Thread


Accidents Happen

With human drivers, the concept of "an accident" has been so extended that absent alcohol or (usually at the same time) hit and run, few drivers get prosecuted for killing people.

So, let's take the extreme case... what happens if a self-driving car goes "psycho" and runs up on a sidewalk and mows down 20 people. Who gets prosecuted? You, smart person, but this will never happen. Okay, fine. What if it does?

You Gotta Have Faith

The unwavering belief (and, really, you can't even suggest it might not be true to some people) of self-driving car boosters is that they'll be safer than human drivers. I'm not one who even worries about safety in that, as I keep saying, if they work they'll be safe, tautologically, but there isn't any particular reason to think this is actually true. It might be! Some day! I'm sure in 2300 we'll all be uploading our brains into robot bodies, too, but that's a few months away. Human drivers get distracted and drunk blah blah blah, but self-driving car sensors aren't very good, the AI required to recognize that a stop sign is indeed a stop sign is actually pretty hard (and a stop sign's the easy one!), "intuition" and interaction with other entities on the road is going to be limited, and weather conditions are not those of Mountain View all over the country.

Every time there's an accident/death involving a self-driving car, people will assert that "well, self-driving cars are safer than human drivers so we're going to overall reduce the number of accidents." Thank you, serious scientist person and stupidest economist on twitter, for this assertion without any evidence whatsover. And even if it will be true one day, the things don't even work yet! How is it true now? I guess you don't make driving safer without cracking a few skulls first.

Fundamentally, the question is can a self-driving car *ever* be at fault for hitting a pedestrian and, if they are, who gets the manslaughter charge? The answer, of course, is "never" and "nobody." They'll be safer one day! OK, cool, hope it isn't your kid.

Heckuva Job

There were the evil bastards, and then there were the Model UN debate team crowd, young boy blunders putting on their first big boy suits writing for big boy magazines and being on big boy teevee shows, being patted on the head for punching hippies. War was very serious, they intoned, and only the Very Serious People could be trusted with it. It must have been so exciting!

No one knows for certain how many Iraqis have died as a result of the invasion 15 years ago. Some credible estimates put the number at more than one million. You can read that sentence again. The invasion of Iraq is often spoken of in the United States as a “blunder,” or even a “colossal mistake.” It was a crime. Those who perpetrated it are still at large. Some of them have even been rehabilitated thanks to the horrors of Trumpism and a mostly amnesiac citizenry. (A year ago, I watched Mr. Bush on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” dancing and talking about his paintings.) The pundits and “experts” who sold us the war still go on doing what they do. I never thought that Iraq could ever be worse than it was during Saddam’s reign, but that is what America’s war achieved and bequeathed to Iraqis.

Morning Thread

Pain in the butt weather predicted. Rain, snow mix. Winter, go away!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Late Night

Rock on.

Monday Evening

More snow just in time for..umm... Spring?


Supremos didn't shoot down the new PA map, so that'll be good for a couple of House seats in November (that's not a justification for the lawsuit and map, though the map of one old Congressional district gives you a sense of how bad it was).

I'd Vote For Dick Nixon Over Cuomo

I don't know enough about Cynthia Nixon's actual views to know if she's Good, but Cuomo is very very bad. As bad as they get. Most bad Democrats have to hide the fact that they'd prefer to have Republicans in power, but Cuomo's basically open about it!

Operation Blame The Pedestrian Begins


TEMPE, Ariz. - Tempe police are investigating a deadly crash involving a self-driving Uber vehicle overnight.

The Uber vehicle was reportedly driving early Monday when a woman walking outside of the crosswalk was struck.

I'm not fully familiar with Arizona/Tempe pedestrian crossing laws, but contrary to popular belief, it is not always "jaywalking" simply to cross/be in the street outside of a crosswalk, and even if it is, that doesn't mean drivers can just mow you over any more than I can take a baseball bat to a car that runs a stop in front of me.

Gotta Deliver

Sure the joke about all of us armchair pundits is that we believe that what wins elections is that politicians support our personal policy preferences. I don't think that's true of all of my policy preferences, though admittedly some, but I think to some extent the issue is less about winning elections - which seems to happen when people are pissed off at the party in power - than it is about winning re-elections, or specifically maintaining power once you have it.

I know the narrative of Obama folks is that they inherited a financial meltdown and that they did what they had to do to avert catastrophe - some of which was unpopular - and then passed Obamacare, which they were brave to do even though it was unpopular (?), and they did all of this during a time when the media turned over the cameras to Sarah Palin and the Tea Party.

But they purposefully let a lot of people lose their homes as they bailed out the banks (this is on Obama). "They" purposefully put off any benefits of Obamacare until later in order to get that sweet sweet magic CBO score (this is not all on Obama), which left people thinking "Obamacare" was their shitty insurance before Obamacare had even kicked in.

My point isn't to lay blame (ok not all my point), my point is that by any measure, in 2010 the Dems had not delivered. People were losing their homes, the banks were bailed out, and their health care didn't get any better.

We have diehard Republicans and diehard Democrats, a few totebagging "independent minded swing voters," and then a bunch of people for whom voting and politics generally is optional. They, too, sort pretty neatly into one party or the other. If they don't think there's much to vote for or against they won't bother.

Texting and Driving

There are "good" reasons to look at your phone when you are driving. By "good" I don't mean you should do it. You shouldn't for the same reason that you shouldn't be texting, but there is no reason at all to be trying to type a text on a phone at 65 miles per hour. I've been in cars with people who did it and I almost lost my shit. These activities are just not compatible. People say things like, "people eat while driving! it's the same!" No it isn't the same. I can't scarf down a Big Mac without looking at the damn thing. I can't type 140 characters (and no one can) without staring at the phone.

Safety regulators still have no idea just how deadly the combination of mobile phones and cars can be, but mounting evidence paints a grim picture.

The latest disconcerting data come from a massive study by Zendrive, a San Francisco-based startup that tracks phone use for automobile insurers and ride-hailing fleets. Of the 2.3 million drivers it monitored over 5.6 billion miles, some 12 percent were characterized as mobile-phone addicts—calling, texting or scrolling through apps three times more than the average driver.

Pedestrians shouldn't be staring at their phones while walking in the middle of the street (even if they are in a crosswalk) but they're unlikely to kill anybody else if they do so.

Happy Iraq War Day

Many of those Republicans (not to mention pundits who are Democrats) who are Good now because they hate Trump still think it was a jolly idea.

We're All Leaders Of None

One sad thing about online politics is that too many people (add me to this list if you wish) confuse arguing about shit on the internet with political activism. So often I see people write things like, "what we need to do..." when what they mean is "what other people should be doing...". And of course it's fair to level these kinds of criticisms against big institutional organizations which soak up fundraising money. Still, if you think we need to, say, take it to the streets, make your sign and get out there.

Monday Morning

Here's hoping to a peaceful week.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Sunday Evening

Oh dear. That means tomorrow is...

I Can't Find It Funny

We had some fun here in this sucky blog even in the darkest days of the Bush administration. Laughing our way through the apocalypse and all that. I have a hard time maintaining a sense of humor now. It isn't that I think Trump is worse - he isn't, yet (give him time!) - it's that I am less confident in the ability of our great system to nudge the ship back on course.

There's No Way Jeffy Jeff Is A Liar

What would we tell the white children?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ testimony that he opposed a proposal for President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign team to meet with Russians has been contradicted by three people who told Reuters they have spoken about the matter to investigators with Special Counsel Robert Mueller or congressional committees.

Look Forward To Your Pedestrian License Test

Gonna have to learn a new language to earn one.

Uber thinks it may have arrived at a solution. In a recent patent application, the ride-hailing giant proposes wrapping its self-driving cars in flashing signs to effectively communicate messages to pedestrians and others around it. The illustration accompanying the application is pretty wild: flashing arrows would appear on the side-view mirrors, a projector would display a virtual crosswalk in front of the car, and a “virtual driver” would pop up in the windshield to point pedestrians in the right direction. In essence, the car would need to be lit up like the Las Vegas Strip in order to make up for the absence of a human behind the wheel.

“In the real world, when there’s a human driver, they’re usually not shouting out the window, ‘Hey I’m slowing down now,’” says Sean Chin, a product designer at Uber’s Advanced Technology Group, which oversees its autonomous vehicle program. “There are subtle things you can do, like a head nod or flashing lights. And while we don’t have final implementation, what we’re considering is what is a new language we can create to give people that information.”