• Trump Resigns

    Paraphrased from Donald Trump’s resignation letter from the SAG-AFTRA union, which is apparently the sort of thing he spends his time on now:

    Dear asshole,

    No, you are!

  • Projecting Confidence in Space

    Rephrased from One Hull Crack Located in ISS, Another One Suspected:

    ISS Russian Segment head Vladimir Solovyov underscored that only a pussy would get all worked up about some dumb cracks in your spaceship. Then he lit a cigarette and started playing that game where you jab a knife into the table between your fingers as fast as possible.

  • An Orange by Any Other Name

    From Color or Fruit? On the Unlikely Etymology of “Orange”:

    Orange, however, seems to be the only basic color word for which no other word exists in English. There is only orange, and the name comes from the fruit. […]

    This is not to say that no one recognized the color, only that there was no specific name for it. In Geoffrey Chaucer’s “Nun’s Priest’s Tale,” the rooster Chaunticleer dreams of a threatening fox invading the barnyard, whose “color was betwixe yelow and reed.” The fox was orange, but in the 1390s Chaucer didn’t have a word for it. He had to mix it verbally. He wasn’t the first to do so. In Old English, the form of the language spoken between the 5th and 12th centuries, well before Chaucer’s Middle English, there was a word geoluhread (yellow-red). Orange could be seen, but the compound was the only word there was for it in English for almost 1,000 years.

  • All The President's Tweets

    From Big Tech and Censorship:

    On January 7th Facebook issued an “indefinite” suspension of Donald Trump. Twitter followed with a permanent ban a day later. Snapchat and YouTube barred him. An array of other accounts were suspended. […]

    Surely this was acceptable in the face of a mob on the rampage? Legally, private companies can do as they choose. However, some decisions lacked consistency or proportionality. Although Twitter cited a “risk of further incitement of violence” by Mr Trump, the tweets it pointed to did not cross the common legal threshold defining an abuse of the constitutional right to free speech. Meanwhile Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is still on Twitter and death threats are easy to find online. The companies ought to have focused on individual posts for incitement. Instead they have banned people, including the president, pushing fringe voices further from the mainstream.

    I would argue that the president (any president) is entitled by our democratic values to be given more latitude in his political speech than the average person. The office of the president is our most important political office and the role of that office is to advance a political agenda. Regardless of which party the president belongs to, the odds are reasonably good that about half the country is going to dislike many aspects of that agenda. And some nontrivial subset of that half is going to be absolutely consumed with white-hot fury over it.

    As a consequence – even setting aside loftier arguments about the rights and privileges of the head of state – one could argue convincingly that the implicitly contentious nature of the presidency requires that the president’s political speech and rhetoric be given wider berth than pretty much anyone else.

    And so it was. For years, as president, Donald Trump regularly used social media in ways that were dangerous, irresponsible, or objectionable enough to get the average user banned. (Plenty of his followers were banned for saying the same sorts of things.) And all the while Twitter, Facebook, and the rest struggled with the question of where to draw the line as they performed a series of logical contortions after each new outrage to justify their decisions.

    What they had clearly decided is: not only can the president say anything he wants, but that these private companies had some kind of a moral obligation to distribute – let’s be serious: to promote – that speech. And as the duly elected, sitting president, one could argue that this position towards Donald Trump’s speech – unpleasant as it must have been for these companies to feel complicit in it – was nevertheless correct.

    However, as the very-soon-to-be-former president who has been rejected by voters, is days away from leaving office, and has been spending his last moments in power shamelessly abusing it, frantically employing these services in a sustained effort to orchestrate an all-out war on our democratic system in a desperate but ultimately futile attempt to cling to power? Well, in this case, it seems Twitter, Facebook and friends have decided less accommodation is owed.

    And I think that’s correct, too.

  • Great Place to Do Business

    From China CCP to Nationalize Jack Ma’s Alibaba and Ant Group:

    Reports from China indicate that the Chinese government may be working on a plan to nationalize Jack Ma’s Alibaba and the Ant Group. China’s ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has gone further ahead with the antitrust investigation into e-commerce giant Alibaba.

    Coming at the end of a years-long cascade of Chinese offronts to human rights and any reasonable standard of fair play, it beggars belief that western companies (particularly egregiously: Apple’s services and maufacturing interests, various sports leagues, and various media companies) continue to double down on China as a strategic partner and important growth market. The tide has been turning for a while now; it should be obvious by this point it’s not going to turn back.

  • Treason


    Protesters loyal to President Trump stormed the Capitol on Wednesday, halting Congress’s counting of the electoral votes to confirm President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory as the police evacuated lawmakers from the building.

    Here is the sequence of events: President Trump holds a rally for his most ardent supporters in Washington D.C. and encourages them to go to the Capitol to interfere with the normal function of government. Immediately thereafter, hundreds of those same supporters storm the Capitol building in an attempt to prevent the formalization of a transition of power.

    In effect, the president has used his followers in a direct attempt to remain illegitimately in power by force. The term we have for this sort of thing is: an attempted coup. I don’t see how a serious observer of these events could conclude that the actions of President Trump and these supporters constitute anything less than treason.

  • 2021

    It’s my intention to make a concerted effort to write regularly on this site in 2021. A resolution, I suppose.

    Why? There’s no specific reason other than that I’ve somehow gotten it in my mind that this will be a worthwhile exercise in self-improvement. As they say, “clear writing means clear thinking,” so regardless of which way that statement correlates, hopefully I’ll wind up either better at writing or better at thinking. Maybe even both.

    The plan is simple: write five posts on average per week during 2021.

    The subject matter is irrelevant and the length is not material. The objective is simply to force myself to think about some subject enough so much as to distill an opinion or observation and render it clearly into text. Doing that enough times will hopefully have the desired effect.

    So happy New Year, gentle reader. And look forward to at least a solid week’s worth more posts where this came from before I likely set this resolution aside to languish in the traditional manner.


  • How Much does Illegal Streaming Cost?

    From U.S. Senator Thom Tillis.

    “The shift toward streaming content online has resulted in criminal streaming services illegally distributing copyrighted material that costs the U.S. economy nearly $30 billion every year, and discourages the production of creative content that Americans enjoy”

    It certainly makes sense for the government to act against large-scale, commercial, copyright-infrigning streaming services. These estimations of the cost to the U.S. economy that online piracy represents have always struck me as highly dubious, however.

    $30 billion per year? For context, that’s roughly equivalent to the combined revenues of Netflix and YouTube for 2019¹. Is there really another Netflix + YouTube sized subscriber base out there that would be willing to pay for these services if only some of the same content weren’t available elsewhere for free?

    I doubt it.

    In reality I suspect these illegal services are bad for a handful of specific, very large companies, but drastically less so than they would like you to believe. And essentially neutral to the economy as a whole.

    1. About $35 billion.

  • Apple is so huge it doesn’t know what “small” is.

    From Apple announces App Store Small Business Program (emphasis mine):

    Apple today announced an industry-leading new developer program to accelerate innovation and help small businesses and independent developers propel their businesses forward with the next generation of groundbreaking apps on the App Store. The new App Store Small Business Program will benefit the vast majority of developers who sell digital goods and services on the store, providing them with a reduced commission on paid apps and in-app purchases. Developers can qualify for the program and a reduced, 15 percent commission if they earned up to $1 million in proceeds during the previous calendar year.

    This is certainly an improvement over the current state of affairs (where Apple takes 30% off the top from everybody¹). However, the revenue limit that Apple has set for this program seems pretty arbitrary and pretty low. A million dollars sure seems like a lot of money at first blush and I’m sure that’s why they chose it. Indeed, it certainly is a lot to a solo indie developer or a very small team. However, it is surely not a lot of money for a small business that employs more than a few people to build software.

    A software company in the US with one million dollars in annual gross revenue would struggle to support 10-12 employees outside of major tech markets. In places like San Francisco, New York City, or Austin, it would be closer to 5-7 employees. That’s hardly a big business that is in a position to fork over another 15% of its revenue in platform taxes to a company worth some two trillion dollars ².

    Apple should just cut their tax for everyone. Taking even a 15% cut from developers whose products create enormous value for iOS—and therefore Apple’s highly lucrative hardware products—is pretty egregious. I’m not sure a change this anemic is going to do much to tamp down the growing developer discontent Apple is confronting.

    1. Well, everybody who isn’t important enough to negotiate special terms. The “standard” 30% cut will now only apply to the App Store middle class: too successful for this new program, too small to negotiate a special deal.
    2. About $2,010,000,000,000 as I write this.

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