The Insightful Troll

Rants and ruminations.

43 Senate Republicans Let Trump Get Away With It

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Senate Republicans

Adam Serwer exposes the other 43 people who are also culpable for the failed coup attempt on January 6th 2021:

Joining with Democrats to hold Trump accountable would have done too much damage to the party. Better to erode the foundations of American democracy than risk giving the rival party any advantage.

This is cowardice, but also ideology: Since liberals are not Real Americans, it is no sin to deprive them of power by undemocratic means. In this view, Trump’s behavior might be misguided, but his heart remainsI in the right place, in that his mob sought to ensure that only those worthy to participate in American democracy can hold the reins of power, regardless of whom the voters actually choose.

Although seven Republican senators broke ranks and voted to convict Trump, most of the caucus remained loyal to a man who attempted to bring down the republic, because in the end, they would have been content to rule over the ruins.

Everything Happens So Much

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From Kaitlyn Tiffany in The Atlantic :

Near the top of any list of the most treasured sentence fragments posted there, the now-defunct account @Horse_ebooks would have several entries. Twitter users still recirculate strange classics like “(using fingers to indicate triangular shape) SMELL SMELL SMELL GOOD NEW NEW NEW slice drink MATCH SPARKLER (thrown in air) STARS STARS STARS.” But the best-known @Horse_ebooks tweet, posted 10 years ago today, was astounding in its clarity and salience. It described both the internet and our entire human world. “Everything happens so much,” @Horse_ebooks tweeted on June 28, 2012.

The New Cold War

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Looks like we are being plunged back into 80s era between NATO and the East. Except this time it’s between a Russia, China and North Korea. From Reuters:

Stoltenberg said NATO in future would have “well over 300,000” troops on high alert, compared to 40,000 troops that currently make up the alliance’s existing quick reaction force, the NATO Response Force (NRF).

The new force model is meant to replace the NRF and “provide a larger pool of high readiness forces across domains, land, sea, air and cyber, which will be pre-assigned to specific plans for the defence of allies,” a NATO official said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a news conference ahead of a NATO summit that will take place in Madrid, at the Alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium June 27, 2022. REUTERS/Johanna Geron Stoltenberg said NATO combat units on the alliance’s eastern flank nearest Russia, especially the Baltic states, are to be boosted to brigade level, with thousands of pre-assigned troops on standby in countries further west like Germany as rapid reinforcements.

“Together, this constitutes the biggest overhaul of our collective deterrence and defence since the Cold War,” he said.

The Original Apple Watch?

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Seiko TV Watch

Seiko released what might be considered as the pre-cursor to the Apple Watch(time/date/chrono/audio/TV) if the Apple Watch was released in an age without the internet.

The very first model, DXA001, was only available to customers in Tokyo and Osaka for 108 000 JPY, and the second model, DXA002, was available in the whole of Japan at the cost of 98 000 JPY.

[..]

SEIKO TV watch consists of a 1.2-inch liquid crystal display screen set in a standard digital watch. The tiny TV can receive all UHF and VHF channels via an external receiver, connecting to the watch via a cable and connector. In its original function, the watch can be used as a timer and alarm, while the special features also include UKW radio in stereo quality.

They even sold for $300 and $500 (although in 2022 money that would amount to approximately $850 and $1460).

Supreme Court Strikes Down Concealed-firearm Permits

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Timothy Zick and Diana Palmer writing for The Atlantic:

Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the 6–3 majority in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, said, “The Second and Fourteenth Amendments protect an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home.” Bruen thus opens one of the next major battlegrounds over guns in America: not who can buy guns or what guns can be bought but where these firearms can be carried, every day, by the millions and millions of Americans who own them.

This question will have major implications for what it’s like to be an American. Are people carrying guns at schools and shopping malls and public parks? What about at churches and synagogues and mosques? What is it like to pray in places where fellow supplicants are armed? Courts and legislatures will have to decide whether people can carry guns at protests and political demonstrations, in voting booths, on the subway and bus, and in pretty much every other public space in American life. The Supreme Court spent several decades determining where in the public square—streets, sidewalks, airports, fairgrounds, public libraries, public plazas—speakers have a First Amendment right to communicate. The Court’s answer—not in every place, and not equally in all places—is probably a harbinger for how the justices will determine the “sensitive places” where firearms can be restricted.

Timothy Zick and Diana Palmer

As if the US was not scary place before, this is will guarantee an increase in gun violence. We are a sick country.

What Is Self Esteem?

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What is the fundamental definition of self-esteem? It’s you ability to see yourself as a flawed person and still hold yourself in high regard.

Esther Perel

Texas Police Attempt to Supress Bodycams

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Jason Koebler writing in Vice:

The Texas Department of Public Safety has asked the state’s Office of the Attorney General to prevent the public release of police body camera footage from the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde in part because, it argues, the footage could be used by other shooters to determine “weaknesses” in police response to crimes. […]

“Revealing the marked records would provide criminals with invaluable information concerning Department techniques used to investigate and detect activities of suspected criminal elements; how information is assessed and analyzed; how information is shared among partner law enforcement agencies and the lessons learned from the analysis of prior criminal activities,” the department wrote in a letter to the Office of the Attorney General that asked the office to prevent the release of the public records. “Knowing the intelligence and response capabilities of Department personnel and where those employees focus their attention will compromise law enforcement purposes by enabling criminals to anticipate weakness in law enforcement procedures and alter their methods of operation in order to avoid detection and apprehension.”

Really? What could anyone possibly learn from these videos? All they would see is over an hour of footage of the Robb Elementary Schools parking lot. What a disgusting show of cowardice.

Bill Maher Is Spot-on

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I have been a fan of Bill Maher for years. But last season - well - he just sounded like an old man screaming at clouds. But last Friday, in his usual “New Rules” segment, Bill nails one the biggest reason that the United States has a mass shootings problem.

It’s our glorification of gun violence.

Costco Hot Dog to Stay at $1.50

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Reliced Guitar

Everything is going up in price. Combine the Corona virus, supply chain constraints, and the government printing money - inflation is at levels not seen in a generation. Just go down to the grocery store and you will feel the sting. But I question how much of this is due to inflation and how much of it is business just taking advantage of the situation.

Costco is not rasing its cost of the hot dog - it will be keeping it at $1.50. A price that it has had since the mid 1980s. If the price tracked inflation, it would be $4.00 + today.

From Business Insider

When Costco’s current CEO, Craig Jelinek, once approached Sinegal, then the CEO, about raising the price of the hot dog, Sinegal told him, “If you raise the [price of the] effing hot dog, I will kill you. Figure it out.”

In 2009, Jelinek did figure it out. Costco stopped using its longtime hot-dog supplier, Hebrew National, and built a Kirkland Signature hot-dog factory in Los Angeles. It later built another one in Chicago. The new factories reduced the production costs for the hot dog, allowing Costco to continue selling the menu item for $1.50.

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Jelinek took over as CEO when Sinegal retired in 2012, and the hot dog’s popularity has only grown. In the 2019 fiscal year, Costco sold 151 million hot-dog combos for a total of about $226.5 million. And Jelinek said in Costco’s shareholder meeting in January that he had no intention of raising the price of the hot dog.

It is upon consumers to demand price stablization - and that means voting with our wallets.

COVID Will Be Like Smoking

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Benjamin Mazer in The Atlantic:

The pandemic’s greatest source of danger has transformed from a pathogen into a behavior. Choosing not to get vaccinated against COVID is, right now, a modifiable health risk on par with smoking, which kills more than 400,000 people each year in the United States. Andrew Noymer, a public-health professor at UC Irvine, told me that if COVID continues to account for a few hundred thousand American deaths every year—“a realistic worst-case scenario,” he calls it—that would wipe out all of the life-expectancy gains we’ve accrued from the past two decades’ worth of smoking-prevention efforts.

The COVID vaccines are, without exaggeration, among the safest and most effective therapies in all of modern medicine. An unvaccinated adult is an astonishing 68 times more likely to die from COVID than a boosted one. Yet widespread vaccine hesitancy in the United States has caused more than 163,000 preventable deaths and counting. Because too few people are vaccinated, COVID surges still overwhelm hospitals—interfering with routine medical services and leading to thousands of lives lost from other conditions. If everyone who is eligible were triply vaccinated, our health-care system would be functioning normally again. (We do have other methods of protection—antiviral pills and monoclonal antibodies—but these remain in short supply and often fail to make their way to the highest-risk patients.) Countries such as Denmark and Sweden have already declared themselves broken up with COVID. They are confidently doing so not because the virus is no longer circulating or because they’ve achieved mythical herd immunity from natural infection; they’ve simply inoculated enough people.

We need a nation wide campaign to undo the damage caused by the politicization of the COVID vaccines.

You'll Regret That Relic

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Reliced Guitar

I never comprehended the relic guitar craze - I just never understood why guitarists would pay more for a beat-up guitar. John Bohlinger sums my thoughts up perfectly:

Guitars are like the Velveteen Rabbit: If the owner truly loves them and plays them enough, they will come to life. If you want your guitar to look played, play it so much that it seldom sees the inside of a case. After a few months, maybe you’ll find your 4-year-old son joyfully beating it with a drumstick. You’ll be pissed, but in due course, you’ll laugh it off.

After a year maybe you’ll swap out the pickups, and in doing so your screwdriver will slip and gouge the front. You’ll curse, but in time you won’t care. Maybe on a sweaty, lonely August night the neck will feel sticky and you’ll impulsively sand it down to the wood. It will look rough but eventually your hand grease will leave that neck smooth and buttery. Somebody will spill beer on it, blow smoke on it, airlines will do their best to destroy it, and hundreds of hours of music will vibrate through it. All of this will make your guitar an honest-to-God relic—a historical artifact of your musical journey. You can’t fake that.

The Museum of Endangered Sounds

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The Museum of Endangered Sounds

The Museum of Endangered Sounds is an interesting collection of sounds from old technologies. A lot of these brings me back to my childhood - from the thump of Space Invaders, Pac Man, the sound of NES cartridges and even the now extinct Nokia ‘candy bar phone’ ringtone. An aurual to through nostalgia.

A Steep Decline in Teen Mental Health

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CDC warns of a steep decline in teen mental health

The Washington Post is reporting that More than 4 in 10 told the health agency they felt ‘persistently sad or hopeless’:

Although young people were spared the brunt of the virus — falling ill and dying at much lower rates than older people — they might still pay a steep price for the pandemic, having come of age while weathering isolation, uncertainty, economic turmoil and, for many, grief.

In a news conference, Kathleen A. Ethier, head of the CDC’s division of adolescent and school health, said the survey results underscored the vulnerability of certain students, including LGBTQ youth and students who reported being treated unfairly because of their race. And female students are far worse off than their male peers.

Moriah Balingit

This situation if the result of the destruction of the social network of relations due to the modern lifestyle. To have meaningful social relations with our peers is extremely important for humans and even more so for teenagers.

First the modern lifestyle mostly destroyed the small communities where people know each other and spend a lot of time together. People began to stay in their house all the time with no contacts with a community. At this first stage, as the local community was eliminated, the remaining pillars of social relations were school, for young people, and work for adults. Adults were able to maintain some degree of additional social life by having some friends and inviting them regularly to create the opportunity to meet.

Later come all the smartphones, tablets, computers, social networks that captivated all the attention, especially of young people so even more so people were pushed to stay more at home and meet less people further increasing the social isolation.

The final blow came from the COVID-19 confinement were people were forced to stay at home reducing social contacts only to the close family members. This situation created an unsustainable isolation raising serious mental health problem especially for teenagers but also for adult people.

Modern society got it all wrong. We think having more goods and entertainment to consume make us happier but this is not how it works. Not if the social life and the social network around us is poor or non-existent.

We need to radically change modern lifestyle and stop with chasing materialism and showcasing wealth. The pandemic, I hope, has shown us that we need to re-orient ourselves to family, friends and community.

The Dictator Trap

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Brian Klaas for The Atlantic:

[…] you have to understand the power and information ecosystems around dictators. I’ve studied and interviewed despots across the globe for more than a decade. In my research, I’ve persistently encountered a stubborn myth—of the savvy strongman, the rational, calculating despot who can play the long game because he (and it’s typically a he) doesn’t have to worry about pesky polls or angry voters. Our elected leaders, this view suggests, are no match for the tyrant who gazes into the next decade rather than fretting about next year’s election.

Reality doesn’t conform to that rosy theory.

Autocrats such as Putin eventually succumb to what may be called the “dictator trap.” The strategies they use to stay in power tend to trigger their eventual downfall. Rather than being long-term planners, many make catastrophic short-term errors—the kinds of errors that would likely have been avoided in democratic systems. They hear only from sycophants, and get bad advice. They misunderstand their population. They don’t see threats coming until it’s too late. And unlike elected leaders who leave office to riches, book tours, and the glitzy lifestyle of a statesman, many dictators who miscalculate leave office in a casket, a possibility that makes them even more likely to double down.

It’s not going to end well for Putin.

Its a Trap!

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Amazon Go’s “grab-and-go” shopping experience (where you walk out of the store with your items without having to check out first) doesn’t work that well for all shoppers.

When Amazon announced their new store concept, Xavier Harding wrote

White people who have never been “randomly” followed around at a Walgreens may have no problem walking into a store, grabbing an item and leaving — like this guy in the Amazon Go promo video.

But shoppers of color, who already see enough unwanted attention, may have their doubts. Especially in a store where the employees are mostly there for customer service, as Amazon’s promo video suggests. They roam the store, stock shelves and hang out near shoppers.

In the immortal words of Admiral Akbar:

Its a trap!

Appeasement Hasn't Worked.

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Jake Tapper stating the obvious - two decades of stern warnings and misplaced optimism in the US paved the way for Russian President Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine.


I mean honestly. If you were Putin do you were Putin, would you think there were any real limits to what you can get away with? I mean it’s easy to see why he thought this time would be no different. President Biden is right. Dictators who do not pay a price for aggression continue causing more chaos. But may I ask - have we actually learned that lesson?

So far, it looks like we have not. The US (along with the its NATO allies) must immediately enforce a no fly zone over Ukraine. Appeasement did not work with Hitler - it will not work with Putin.

We in the US say that we are the protectors of freedom and democracy in the world - the one indispensable nation. Well here is a clear cut case of when the United States military might is required. The world is watching. Are we as a nation going to live up to our rhetoric? Or are we going to stand by and let the thousands of civilians die?

The Rats Are Starting to Flee

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Looks like the sanctions are starting to bite - Lukoil is Russia’s second biggest oil company behind state-owned giant Rosneft. It now faces huge challenges as traders shun Russian crude for fear of running afoul of Western sanctions even though they do not directly target fossil fuel exports.

Lukoil shares listed in London have lost roughly 99% of their value following the invasion. Dealing in the company’s stock was suspended on Thursday. Predictably, the board has publicly broken ranks with Putin.

We express our sincere empathy for all victims, who are affected by this tragedy. We strongly support a lasting ceasefire and a settlement of problems through serious negotiations and diplomacy.

The rats have began to leave the sinking ship.

B-52s Deployed to the Ukraine Border?

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B-52 strategic bombers spotted less than 100 kilometers from Ukrainian border.

A few hours ago, a group of two American B-52 strategic bombers, escorted by NATO fighters, practiced strikes from Romanian airspace, approaching the borders of Ukraine at a distance of less than 100 kilometers.


Those B-52s are just aching to say hello to that that stalled Russian convoy. Finally - A message Putin will understand.