Saturday, December 15, 2018

Saturday Evening

Busy, busy, busy.

Take Japper

I saw a certain CNN personality refer to the "smart, hard-working conservative journalists" at the folding Weekly Standard and many sad tributes from eventheliberal journalists. Mainstream journalists treat conservative journalists like part of the family, and eventheliberal journalists see them as honorable sparring partners. When The Nation folds they will dance on its grave, and when In These Times folds they'll say, "what's In These Times?"

Lunch Thread


Could You At Least Tell Us What You Want

Run out the clock and hope for desperation to pass the thing is the plan, I guess.

Theresa May has come home from Brussels empty-handed and without hope of further negotiations over the Irish backstop, with the failure to achieve any kind of breakthrough leaving her brutally exposed.

Plans to work over Christmas on a legal guarantee over the temporary nature of the backstop had run into a brick wall, EU officials said, despite May’s claim that she would be holding further talks “in the coming days”.

Brussels sources claimed May was just keeping up a pretence that the legal guarantee she had promised rebellious Tory MPs during this week’s leadership challenge was still on the cards.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Evening Thread

Bye Bye Weekly Standard

It isn't even that old, but I am sure it will be eulogized as some sort of remnant of an era or Good Conservatism, a view aided by its recent Never Trumpism, instead of for all the death and destruction (or, really, because of it) it caused around the world.

Lunch Thread

Travel day for me.

Morning Thread

Jarad for Chief of Staff?

Of course, why not?

Actually, I could come up with about a hundred reasons why not. Rules against nepotism, for one. But heck, those only apply to the little people.

Overnight Thread


Thursday, December 13, 2018

All In The Family

No one else left.

First, We Do All The Crimes

You gotta admire the way they think. Sort of.

Manhattan-based federal prosecutors are investigating whether some of the $107 million in donations to then-President elect Donald Trump's inaugural committee were misspent, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

The Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, said the investigation arose in part from the slew of materials seized in April raids on Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, by federal prosecutors.

Rediscovering The Deficit


Team D

Donald Trump might be the greatest president in the history of the universe, and all the Mueller stuff might be JUST SO UNFAIR, but who the hell would be dumb enough walk into that legal buzzsaw and work for this administration now?

It isn't as if I think Donald's gonna be hauled off in chains tomorrow... but everybody around him is going to continue to pay for lawyers, if nothing else.



Washington (CNN)Alleged Russian spy Maria Butina pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday for conspiracy to act as an illegal foreign agent in the United States.

Butina, 30, was accused of working to infiltrate Republican political circles through groups such as the National Rifle Association to bolster Russian interests.

Bet it's a nonstop party at NRA headquarters these days.

Youtube is a Sewer

I basically don't use Youtube for anything except watching music of various kinds. At some point - I dunno, a couple of years ago - those "recommended videos" (gotta keep fighting to turn the damn autoplay next video off!) started getting really weird. Often nothing to do with whatever crappy music I happened to be listening to. Basically a click or two (or autoplay) away from crazy racist conspiracy stuff.

The humans who run YouTube (and run its algorithms) aren’t exactly proud of the fact that their product showcases misogynist rants or pseudoscientific nonsense or apocalyptic conspiracy theories. But their position is that what happens inside their black box is extremely hard to correct or regulate, and on the scale at which YouTube operates, it’s impossible to apply human judgment to every case. They wish there was a way to serve up video recommendations without poisoning people’s minds till someone believes it’s necessary to invade a pizza parlor with an assault rifle, but that’s a real tough computational challenge.

What this line of defense leaves out is a very basic, obvious fact: YouTube already has access to an algorithm that can sort through videos without promoting unhinged fringe material. It’s called Google. YouTube is part of Google. When and if Google’s search algorithms start giving Google users fringe results, Google treats that as a failure and tries to fix the algorithms.


And so YouTube doesn’t have to pick out Pizzagaters or MRAs or neo-phrenologists. It has the power to send viewers in the opposite direction. The people who run YouTube made the choice to teach its algorithms to value trash—even if they thought they were teaching the system to value something more neutral, like viewing time. There was a time, in living memory, when the YouTube recommendation system was less aggressive and it acted like Google: stacking up more and more songs by the same band you were listening to, say, or the same subject you were watching a clip about, until you’d had all you wanted and were done.

Morning Thread

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Disgraced Former Speaker Gingrich To Be Chief Of Staff?

That'll at least be good for laughs for the 20 days or so it lasts.

More Days of May

She survives the vote. Brexit's like pulling a tooth .00001mm per day.

Witch Hunted

To be fair, it is a long commute.

3 Years Sounds Like Forever

3 years in prison is a long time. 3 years in prison is a long time (to me) for any crime short of rape or murder or something with a similar level of violence and harm to others. When educated white guys go to prison for that long there's always a brief collective "whoa, whoa, isn't that a pretty harsh punishment?" even as similar or greater sentences get dished out for drug and property crimes which basically harm no one.

Still I'd like to settle on the new normal that 3 years in an American prison is actually a pretty harsh punishment, for almost every crime.

Like A Taxi, But It Always Shows Up in 30 Seconds, And Cheaper

This is the self-driving robotaxi fantasy. More profitable for businesses and cheaper for consumers. I don't know if Lyft and Uber are viable continuing business models at their current prices but I really doubt that robotaxis, even if they worked, would really be able to go much below those prices. I mean, their current business model is making labor provide its own capital and barely paying them enough. I'm not sure how removing labor but adding more expensive capital (with a lot of backend labor, also, too) really changes this much.

My general point is that Lyft and Uber have pretty good coverage and pretty good prices even in many suburban areas. You can already replace a lot of non-commuting trips with them at reasonable prices. One barrier to this is the marginal costs of driving are hidden so when you own a car a trip seems almost "free," but many households with one or more adults who don't need cars for commuting could probably subtract one and fill the gap with Lyft trips and save money.

If these services aren't replacing private cars, I'm not sure why robotaxis would. Just how cheap can a 4 mile trip to the grocery store be, and if it's $8 instead of $12 (numbers entirely made up) is that really going to make the difference to people? And I do think in urban hellholes like mine Lyft/Uber have made getting around without using a private vehicle more appealing, but I don't see how robotaxis improve that...

The Money Primary

We think of the "money primary" as the race to prove that candidates can actually raise money.

I think it's more the race to see who can get a paycheck.