The Insightful Troll

Rants and ruminations.

What I Think of Bitcoin

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Ray Dalio channels my thoughts on bitcoin:

As an extension of Bitcoin¹ being digital are the questions of how private it is and what the government will allow and not allow it to be. Regarding privacy, it appears that Bitcoin will unlikely be as private as some people surmise. It is, after all, a public ledger and a material amount of Bitcoin is held in a non-private manner. If the government (and perhaps hackers) want to see who has what, I doubt that privacy could be protected. Also, it appears to me that if the government wanted to get rid of its use, most of those who are using it wouldn’t be able to use it so the demand for it would plunge. Rather than it being far-fetched that the government would invade the privacy and/or prevent the use of Bitcoin (and its competitors) it seems to me that the more successful it is the more likely these possibilities would be. Starting with the formation of the first central bank (the Bank of England in 1694), for good logical reasons governments wanted control over money and they protected their abilities to have the only monies and credit within their borders. When I a) put myself in the shoes of government officials, b) see their actions, and c) hear what they say, it is hard for me to imagine that they would allow Bitcoin (or gold) to be an obviously better choice than the money and credit that they are producing. I suspect that Bitcoin’s biggest risk is being successful, because if it’s successful, the government will try to kill it and they have a lot of power to succeed.

The House That Tim Cook Built

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John Sculley was the Pepsi guy.
Gil Amelio was the leaking ship.
Steve Jobs was the visionary.
Tim Cook is the builder.

Apple’s turnaround in the ensuing years has generally been attributed to Jobs’s product genius, beginning with the candy-colored iMacs that turned once-beige appliances into objets d’office. But equally important in Apple’s transformation into the economic and cultural force it is today was Cook’s ability to manufacture those computers, and the iPods, iPhones, and iPads that followed, in massive quantities. For that he adopted strategies similar to those used by HP, Compaq, and Dell, companies that were derided by Jobs but had helped usher in an era of outsourced manufacturing and made-to-order products.

Catching the Virus From Surfaces?

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Derek Thompson, in The Atlantic:

Six months ago, I wrote that Americans had embraced a backwards view of the coronavirus. Too many people imagined the fight against COVID-19 as a land war to be waged with sudsy hand-to-hand combat against grimy surfaces. Meanwhile, the science suggested we should be focused on an aerial strategy. The virus spreads most efficiently through the air via the spittle spray that we emit when we exhale — especially when we cough, talk loudly, sing, or exercise. I called this conceptual error, and the bonanza of pointless power-scrubbing that it had inspired, “hygiene theater.”

My chief inspiration was an essay in the medical journal The Lancet called “Exaggerated Risk of Transmission of COVID-19 by Fomites.” (Fomites is a medical term for objects and surfaces that can pass along an infectious pathogen.) Its author was Emanuel Goldman, a microbiology professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. At the time, Goldman was a lonely voice in the wilderness. Lysol wipes were flying off the shelves, and it was controversial to suggest that this behavior was anything less than saintly and salutary. Other journals had rejected Goldman’s short essay, and some were still publishing frightening research about the possible danger of our groceries and Amazon packages.

But half a year later, Goldman looks oracular. Since last spring, the CDC has expanded its guidance to clarify that the coronavirus “spreads less commonly through contact with contaminated surfaces.” In the past month, the leading scientific journal Nature published both a long analysis and a sharp editorial reiterating Goldman’s thesis. “A year into the pandemic, the evidence is now clear,” the editorial begins. “Catching the virus from surfaces — although plausible — seems to be rare.”

Folded Map Project

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Tonika Johnson’s Folded Map Project explores the differences and similarities across this boundary by comparing an addresses on the North Side with the corresponding addresses on the South Side of Chicago.

In an interview by Paulette Beete for Colossal:

The ultimate point that I was trying to get across was that Chicago’s history of segregation is still with all of us today. I wanted to prove this point for people who might not make that connection [between] the disparity that exists and the history behind it. I wanted the project to be an entree into expanding people’s minds of Chicago’s history of segregation through thinking about their own lived experience. I really appreciated being able to do that through art, through photos and portraits and video because I wasn’t blaming people who live on these different sides. I was offering them insight into the larger question of, “did you really choose this? Does our segregation reflect how we want to interact? And if it doesn’t, then you have to question why is it this way?”

There is this narrative that people think [Chicagoans] don’t interact. But we do, a lot, especially through art. That’s how we know the city is segregated. (laughing) We know that we’re disrupting this segregation when we come together. And that’s why I think art is such a beautiful common denominator.

This project is a reminder of the economic inequality and the effects of America’s historical segregation policies far reaching effects. Which are still on display, for anyone who cares to notice.

Apple and Hyundai-Kia

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Phil LeBeau and Meghan Reeder over at CNBC:

After years of speculation that it will eventually get into the auto business with its own vehicle, Apple is close to finalizing a deal with Hyundai-Kia to manufacture an Apple-branded autonomous electric vehicle at the Kia assembly plant in West Point, Georgia according to multiple sources who briefed CNBC on the plan.

The so-called “Apple Car,” which is being developed by a team at Apple, is tentatively scheduled to go into production in 2024, though people familiar with the talks between Apple and Hyundai-Kia say the eventual rollout could be pushed back.

[…]

Sources familiar with Apple’s interest in working with Hyundai say the tech giant wants to build the “Apple Car” in North America with an established automaker willing to allow Apple to control the software and hardware that will go into the vehicle.

In other words, this will be an “Apple Car,” not a Kia model featuring Apple software.

Prince - Super Bowl XLI

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The best Super Bowl halftime performance is Prince’s performance during Super Bowl XLI in 2007. Anil Dash’s excellent write-up:

Prince’s halftime show wasn’t just a fun diversion from a football game; it was a deeply personal statement on race, agency & artistry from an artist determined to cement his long-term legacy. And he did it on his own terms, as always.

Opening with the stomp-stomp-clap of Queen’s “We Will Rock You”, Prince went for crowd participation right from the start, with a nod to one of the biggest stadium anthems of all time — and notably, is one of the songs in the set that he never performed any time before or after. Indeed, though his 1992 song “3 Chains O’ Gold” was clearly a pastiche of the then-rejuvenated “Bohemian Rhapsody”, Prince had rarely, if ever, played any Queen covers at all in his thousands of live shows.

But with that arena-rock staple, Prince was signaling that he was going to win over a football crowd. He launched straight into “Let’s Go Crazy” at the top of the set. As one of the best album- and concert-opening songs of all time, this was a perfect choice. Different from any other Super Bowl performer before or since, Prince actually does a call-and-response section in the song, emphasizing that this is live, and connecting him explicitly to a timeless Black music tradition.

Watch the full show here.

The Slabs

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Danny MacAskill visits the Isle of Skye with his mountain bike to find an impossibly steep route down the Dubh Slabs.

That was pretty scary.

I’ll say.

Hello, Douchebags!

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Though the latest episode of “Real Time” was the first of the Joe Biden era, Bill Maher used his “New Rules” segment to talk not about the newly minted administration, but instead about Republicans.


On Josh Hawley:

Oh, he’s an up-and-comer. Washington insider says he’s among 2021’s most punchable faces. Handsome, youthful and vigorous, he’s the far-right JFK with a little dash of KKK. And as the son of a wealthy banker and a graduate of Stanford, Yale and a private prep school, Josh knows what he hates most in this world: elites. Loathsome and transparently ambitious, Josh was the first editor to formally choose Trump’s baseless election fraud conspiracy over his pledge to uphold the Constitution. But before you say he’s anti-democratic, Josh wants you to know that he’s just asking questions. Questions like, ‘Why does the winner of an election always have to be the guy who gets the most votes?'

On Colorado congresswoman Lauren Boebert:

Not to be outdone in the area of hating government from the inside, freshmen Colorado rep and high school dropout Lauren Boebert is some of you may have already thought of — if you ever thought — ‘What would happen if Michelle Bachman smoked bath salts?’ This sassy gal was taking her hoops out to fight the libtards and she, and she wants everyone to know she has exactly one issue: guns. Spoiler alert, she likes them. She is from a town named Rifle and owns a restaurant called Shooters, where the waitstaff, no kidding, are encouraged to carry loaded weapons on the job. My suggestion if you eat there, make sure you tip at least 20%! I ate there once, I asked the waiter ‘How fresh is the fish?’ He said ‘I don’t know, you feel lucky, punk?'

Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Green, a QAnon supporter:

The true mayor of crazy town, and everyone’s favorite Karen. The congresswoman who makes most people say, ‘How is she not a teacher from Florida who f—s her students?’ I don’t know, but holy s— is this lady crazy? She does not listen to lobbyists and special interests. No, she listens to microwaves. I’m talking dogs. She is an all-in QAnon believer who thinks science and reason are a conspiracy to trick people into thinking. Reagan saw a shining city on a hill, this chick sees spiders on her arms. Move over AOC, say hello to WTF.

Yea - the newest members of the Republican Class of 2021. Sit tight, its going to be a long 4 years.

Intel Should Be Worried

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Tom Warren reporting in The Verge:

"We have to deliver better products to the PC ecosystem than any possible thing that a lifestyle company in Cupertino” makes, Gelsinger reportedly told Intel employees. “We have to be that good, in the future."

The Apple M1 chip is out. It has proven to be faster than Intel’s best - both in performance and power consumption. To make matters worse, Apple has already transitioned its OS and vendors are quickly porting their Intel based software over to the new architecture.

Traditionally, Intel would have some time to play catchup as the software needs to be upgraded to the new silicon. Thanks to Apple’s Rosetta technology, Intel native apps run without modification on Apple silicon - with little or no performance hit. Lets not forget, this is Apple fourth transition (68K -> PowerPC -> Intel -> Apple Silicon). They have successfully done it three times before, and the fourth is already proving to be no different.

Intel’s new CEO Pat Gelsinger seems awfully arrogant calling Apple a “life style company.” The introduction of Apples ARM silicon in their computer line is as industry shaking as the release of the iPhone. Just ask how things turned out for Nokia, RIM, Microsoft and Palm.

Intel shouldn’t be making wise cracks. They should be scared to death. Pat Gelsinger should be paranoid.

Don’t be this guy:

New Administration, New Website.

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Change is everywhere. Even the new The White House website is more inclusive, focused and hopeful.

As the great American poet Bob Dylan once said - The Times They Are A-Changin'. This time for the better.

Wake Up Call for Republicans

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Matthew Cook in a plea for Republicans and Trump supporters to wake-up.


This is a wake-up call for Republicans. America elected Joe Biden by over 7 million votes, and you’re confused because you didn’t see us flock to his rallies and cheer his smackdowns like we were at a pro wrestling event during a global pandemic. We don’t wear matching hats or have “no more malarkey” flags waving from the backs of our trucks. Do you know why? Because Biden is not our tribal warlord. We believe the job of a U.S. President is to represent more than one interest group. That’s why 81 million of us turned out to stop a narcissistic personality cult that embodies all seven of the deadly sins — most of all pride, which you’ve taken to levels of blasphemy, claiming your political leaders are handpicked by Jesus Christ.

This country is called the United States and we have multiple converging crises that need adult supervision but we are being distracted trying to get control over a critical mass of you who no longer believe in reality.

This took a psychotic narcissistic President, with what is essentially a state run media outlet in Fox, two of the largest tech companies (Facebook & Twitter) in a perfect storm with Republican leaders such as Ted Cruz & Josh Hawley 4 years to spread lies and disinformation that eventually led to an insurrection by American citizens. I fear it’s going to take a lot more time to bring the Party of Lincoln back to its roots.

That is if the party survives at all.

Kamala Harris - Madam Vice President

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The first Black Vice President. The first person of South Asian descent to be Vice President. The first woman to hold that office. This is the look of political power in the future. There is a lot to celebrate today.

To all the right wingers - get used to it.

America's White Supremacist President

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It was popular, at the time of Donald Trump’s ascension, to stand on the thinnest of reeds in order to avoid stating the obvious. It was said that the Trump presidency was the fruit of “economic anxiety,” of trigger warnings and the push for trans rights. We were told that it was wrong to call Trump a white supremacist, because he had merely “drawn upon their themes.”

One hopes that after four years of brown children in cages; of attempts to invalidate the will of Black voters in Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Detroit; of hearing Trump tell congresswomen of color to go back where they came from; of claims that Joe Biden would turn Minnesota into “a refugee camp”; of his constant invocations of “the Chinese virus,” we can now safely conclude that Trump believes in a world where white people are — or should be — on top. It is still deeply challenging for so many people to accept the reality of what has happened — that a country has been captured by the worst of its history, while millions of Americans cheered this on.

The worst president the United States has ever had. We can add insurrectionist to that long list. He will go screaming, kicking, yelling, pouting, screaming. But he is out. And it wasn’t the courts - it was the American voters.

I am regaining faith in this country. It’s going to be a long journey, and as with any journey it begins with a first step. That step was taken today.

The Week After Twitter Banned Trump

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The Washington Post:

Online misinformation about election fraud plunged 73 percent after several social media sites suspended President Trump and key allies last week, research firm Zignal Labs has found, underscoring the power of tech companies to limit the falsehoods poisoning public debate when they act aggressively.

The new research by the San Francisco-based analytics firm reported that conversations about election fraud dropped from 2.5 million mentions to 688,000 mentions across several social media sites in the week after Trump was banned from Twitter.

Imagine if this was done half way through the Trump Presidency.

This Transfer of Power Wasn't Peaceful

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74% of Republicans believe Joe Biden didn't win the Presidency legitimately. Now this is the country the Biden administration and Democratic Senate and House are tasked with governing. A country that requires 25,000 armed troops to keep the peace on inauguration day.


Thanks to Donal Trump and his enablers - the US can no longer claim to be an example a peaceful transition of power. Good news is, this is Donald Trump’s last day as President of the United States.

These Are Trumpers

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Jordan Klepper leads a focus group to understand the minds of Trumpers. Well, at least we can all agree with the final conclusion.

Dr. Brian May

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As a member of Queen, Brian May became regarded as a virtuoso musician and he was identified with a distinctive sound created through his layered guitar work, often using a home-built electric guitar called the Red Special. May wrote numerous hits for Queen, including “We Will Rock You”, “I Want It All”, “Fat Bottomed Girls”, “Flash”, “Hammer to Fall”, “Save Me”, “Who Wants to Live Forever”, “Too Much Love Will Kill You”, and “The Show Must Go On”.

A Truth Reckoning

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Randall Lane in Forbes:

Simple: Don’t let the chronic liars cash in on their dishonesty. Press secretaries like Joe Lockhart, Ari Fleischer and Jay Carney, who left the White House with their reputations in various stages of intact, made millions taking their skills — and credibility — to corporate America. Trump’s liars don’t merit that same golden parachute. Let it be known to the business world: Hire any of Trump’s fellow fabulists above, and Forbes will assume that everything your company or firm talks about is a lie. We’re going to scrutinize, double-check, investigate with the same skepticism we’d approach a Trump tweet. Want to ensure the world’s biggest business media brand approaches you as a potential funnel of disinformation? Then hire away.

This isn’t cancel culture, which is a societal blight. (There’s surely a nice living for each of these press secretaries on the true-believer circuit.) Nor is this politically motivated, as Forbes’ pro-entrepreneur, pro-growth worldview has generally placed it in the right-of-center camp over the past century — this standard needs to apply to liars from either party. It’s just a realization that, as Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, in a thriving democracy, everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts. Our national reset starts there.

This hurts Retrumplicans the only place they care about. Their pocket books.

The Lies We Tell Ourselves

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Sam Sanders in an opinion piece for NPR:

There is a lie some Americans tell themselves when America is on its worst behavior: “This isn’t America!” or “This isn’t who we are!” or “We’re better than this!”

You heard versions of this lie again this week after armed insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol on urging from President Trump, attempting to undo the results of last November’s election.

Even in the halls of Congress, after the broken glass was cleared and U.S. senators and representatives were allowed back into their chambers from undisclosed locations, Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska came back to this refrain: “Our kids need to know that this isn’t what America is.”

We are a country built on fabrication, nostalgia and euphemism. And every time America shows the worst of itself, all the contradictions collapse into the lie I’ve heard nonstop for the last several years: “This isn’t who we are.”

January 6th told us exactly what and who we are. Now the questions is - how do start to become who we strive to be.