Caved

Yesterday I posted a very optimistic interpretation of last week’s events In Washington. The Trump Administration is done, I said. Trump will be impotent for his remaining time in office.

And that is one likely outcome.

But there is another possibility.

Last week, Trump suffered several awful defeats. Awful for him that is. They were great for the American people.

These defeats were made worse because they happened in the first weeks of the Democratic Congress.

Worse, for Trump, the momentum was now against him. He was swimming against the current, and rapidly being pushed backward.

So yeah maybe he caved. Surrendered. Got to his knees and begged for mercy.

But maybe he just did what a good coach does when losing badly, and called for a time-out.

He can’t do anything about the SOTU, or the Stone indictment. He’s no closer to getting his wall than he was a month ago. But at least he’s gotten those interviews of TSA agents and border patrol agents at food banks off the TV news, along with let-them-eat-cake Republican billionaires.

So now we’re in a time-out and we should celebrate a victory for the American people. Those victories have been pretty scarce since Nov. 2016.

But the game resumes in three weeks.

The Bulletproof Coffee Founder Has Spent $1 Million in His Quest to Live to 180

Ten days before I met him at his home in British Columbia, Dave Asprey went to a clinic in Park City, Utah, where a surgeon harvested half a liter of bone marrow from his hips, filtered out the stem cells, and injected them into every joint in his body. He then threaded a cannula along Asprey’s spinal column and injected stem cells inside his spinal cord and into his cerebral fluid. “And then they did all the cosmetic stuff,” Asprey told me. “Hey, I’m unconscious, you’ve got extra stem cells—put ’em everywhere!” Everywhere meaning his scalp, to make his hair more abundant and lustrous; his face, to smooth out wrinkles; and his “male organs,” for—well, I’ll leave that part up to your imagination.

www.menshealth.com

Robert Mueller Got Roger Stone

“From Stone’s indictment and other documents released by the special counsel’s office, including Manafort’s indictment and Cohen’s sentencing memo, we now see that, from at least November, 2015, through October, 2016, key figures in the Trump campaign and on the business side of the Trump Organization were in regular contact with a variety of actors close to Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin.” www.newyorker.com

Trump is now irrelevant.

He is a sideshow. He is done.

He will spend the remainder of his presidency shouting impotently on Twitter, speaking to dwindling crowds, and devoting his remaining energy to his legal defense.

The Republicans are in disarray.

This is a great opportunity for the people to take America for the American people. And now we see if that opportunity will be grasped.

But what about the dog?

On a video conference this morning with a fellow home office worker, I was distracted throughout by the other guy’s small dog, who was attempting to climb up on the furniture. The guy was completely oblivious; the action was happening behind him.

Facebook knowingly duped game-playing kids and their parents out of moneyReveal

Facebook knowingly tricked children into spending their parents’ money online, according to court documents recently unsealed. Facebook literally called this “friendly fraud.”

“Sometimes the children did not even know they were spending money,” according to an internal Facebook report. “Facebook employees knew this. Their own reports showed underage users did not realize their parent’s credit cards were connected to their Facebook accounts and they were spending real money in the games, according to the unsealed documents.”

For years, the company ignored warnings from its own employees that it was bamboozling children.

A team of Facebook employees even developed a method that would have reduced the problem of children being hoodwinked into spending money, but the company did not implement it, and instead told game developers that the social media giant was focused on maximizing revenues.

When parents found out how much their children had spent – one 15-year-old racked up $6,500 in charges in about two weeks playing games on Facebook – the company denied requests for refunds. Facebook employees referred to these children as “whales” – a term borrowed from the casino industry to describe profligate spenders. A child could spend hundreds of dollars a day on in-game features such as arming their character with a flaming sword or a new magic spell to defeat an enemy – even if they didn’t realize it until the credit card bill arrived. …

The revenue Facebook earned off children had such large chargeback rates – a process in which the credit card company is forced to step in and claw back money on behalf of parents – that it far exceeded what the Federal Trade Commission has said is a red flag for deceptive business practices.

Despite the many warning signs, which continued for years, Facebook made a clear decision. It pursued a goal of increasing its revenues at the expense of children and their parents.

If you literally have “fraud” in the name of one of your business practices, that is probably not something you ought to be doing.

www.revealnews.org

Centralized “darknet” markets like Silk Road have given way to decentralized, anonymized “dropgang” networks

Drug dealers and other merchants in illegal physical goods are using private messaging platforms including Telegram and VPNs to communicate with customers, cryptocurrency for payment, and leaving goods in dead drops in public spaces such as parks.

Instead of the flat hierarchies witnessed with darknet markets, merchants today employ hierarchical structures again. These consist of procurement layer, sales layer, and distribution layer. The people constituting each layer usually do not know the identity of the higher layers nor are ever in personal contact with them. All interaction is digital – messaging systems and cryptocurrencies again, product moves only through dead drops.

The procurement layer purchases product wholesale and smuggles it into the region. It is then sold for cryptocurrency to select people that operate the sales layer. After that transaction the risks of both procurement and sales layer are isolated.

The sales layer divides the product into smaller units and gives the location of those dead drops to the distribution layer. The distribution layer then divides the product again and places typical sales quantities into new dead drops. The location of these dead drops is communicated to the sales layer which then sells these locations to the customers through messaging systems.

Interesting that the distribution happens before the sale, not after.

Using messaging, cryptocurrency and dead drops isolates members of each layer from each other, and from the higher layers. There is minimized chance of a rival gang or police capturing lower-down layers and “rolling them up,” which is SOP for organized crime investigations.

If members of such a structure are captured they usually have no critical information to share, no information about persons, places, times of meeting. No interaction that would make this information necessary ever takes place.

It is because of the use of dead drops and hierarchical structures that we call this kind of organization a Dropgang.

The result of this evolution is a highly decentralized, specialized and resilient method of running black market commerce.

Dropgangs have their own problems. Among them is finding suitable locations for dead drops. Criminals are marking locations with inexpensive Bluetooth beacons, detected using mobile apps on the customer’s phone.

Expect to see this technique picked up by legitimate business as well, and a proliferation of low-end jobs moving product from distributor to dead drop to customer. Soon we’ll see drones used to service dead drops, and later, long-range high capacity drones used for distribution.

Continue thinking, what is possible if we combine: 4G/5G mobile internet, anonymous messaging, messaging bots, anonymous and untraceable digital currencies, strong end-to-end encryption, GPS, cheap electronics, 3D printed mechanics, cheap drones – both short distance multicopters and long distance fixed wing, visual processing for navigation, and lots of code.

My mind is blown. Now consider all of this playing out against dysfunctional, corrupt governments.

There’s a Neal Stephenson novel in all this. Or an episode of NCIS.

opaque.link/post/dropgang/

Let’s get small

I just now switched off my ancient 27″ Apple Cinema Display and am now using the MacBook Pro’s 13″ display only. And I think I like it. After all, I can only look at one thing at a time and now I can see the whole display without moving my head. I barely have to move my eyes.

Do you prefer a small display?

64-year-old Navy vet Joe Ford lives “house-free” in Alaska

I have been scrambling around these parts since 2013, inhabiting a variety of iterations, from riverbank tent camps to cabins, buses and RVs and occasionally at fancy lodges when I have worked caretaking gigs. I live like this in protest of our consumer society. I find it more fulfilling, more authentic, less stress – on the planet and on my brain.

He rejects the “homeless” label:

If you have a place to gather your thoughts and lay your head at the end of the day, how is that not a home? My accommodations are substandard if a house is used as a metric. But my tent keeps me and my bedroll out of most elements in the spring, summer and as far into the fall as I can take it. I find sturdier shelter when the water I soak my false teeth in overnight freezes and I have to chisel them free before I can eat breakfast. Right now, I have a bus with a wood-burning stove in it on loan for the winter, so I’m out of the elements until spring.

But:

Poverty can be a rough row to hoe. It has forced me to seriously compromise the lifestyle and the values I was raised to expect from my perch in a lilywhite midwestern suburb. During my lifelong descent of the economic ladder, which I attribute to my “don’t care” attitude, I got a closeup view of all the unfairness, malfeasance and destructive aspects of “the system”. I was indoctrinated into it, and have gone from struggling to fit in to rejecting the game entirely and looking for alternatives.

www.theguardian.com

‘Art Of The Deal’ Co-Author Predicts Donald Trump May End Shutdown For 1 Vain Reason

This has been sticking with me since I saw it yesterday: Tony Schwartz, Trump’s “Art of the Deal” ghostwriter, predicts Trump will end the shutdown before Tuesday because he wants to give the State of the Union in front of Congress. Because it’s all about the vanity for Trump. www.huffingtonpost.com

Additionally, I saw an article yesterday that said the Dems are sending a proposed budget for the full $5.7B that Trump asked for — but no wall.

My prediction: Trump will say there’s a wall in there, and declare victory. I expect the Democratic proposal involves repairing existing barriers and building new ones where needed. Let’s just call that a wall.

Imma just leave this here. This prediction is worth even less than you paid to read it.