The Insightful Troll

Rants and ruminations.

The Great Worker Revolt

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Ed Zitron on the impending worker revolt in the US:

The whole great resignation conversation we’ve been having continues to miss the obvious problem - that so much of our current capitalism is dependent on people being willing to accept bad wages and bad working conditions. 64% of retail workers don’t get paid a living wage, despite how important retail sales are to the economy, and as Omicron grows within the states during the biggest shopping season of the year, they’re at risk, which is why 685,000 retail workers quit in September.

What I am sloppily constructing here is a series of events that leads to a massive worker revolt - a reckoning like we have never seen in modern society. America’s response to the pandemic has always been half-measures - insufficient stimulus, insufficient PPE, insufficient testing, insufficient safety standards, insufficient everything, all of which most directly hit the people that had to leave the house - retail workers, restaurant workers, hospitality workers, nurses, and so on.

As I’ve said before, this was a time when corporations could’ve proved to their workers that they mattered - that the danger they put themselves was appreciated - and treated them with dignity, by which I mean more money and better working conditions. Instead, members of the government spread a lie that they weren’t working because of increased unemployment benefits, and companies proceeded to do just about anything other than pay them more.


America runs on the backs of poorly paid-and-treated workers, with several of the top 10 companies in America relying heavily on these kinds of poorly-paid customer-facing roles. And yet they seem incapable of accepting their hand in the deaths of these workers, or at least said acceptance doesn’t extend to paying them an actual living wage - $16.40 an hour, by the way, is not close to what a living wage is in most states.

This entire transaction of bad pay for awful work has worked for so long because these companies know that many of these workers don’t have a choice. Except the additional variable of crazed, violent customers and an invisible, murderous virus is enough to make these jobs untenable. It’s grotesque to say, but so many companies calculated pay and conditions for workers based on how little dignity their workers had, and now that calculation is going to bite them on the ass hard enough to make sitting impossible.

Exactly - for the first time workers have real power. Let us hope that the silver lining in all of this misery is that we come out on the other side with real labor reforms and a new found respect for the ‘everyday’ American.

Earth Is Getting a Black Box

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When an aeroplane crashes, it's left to investigators to sift through the wreckage to recover the black box.

It's hoped the recorded contents can be used to help others avoid the same fate.

And so it is with Earth's Black Box: a 10-metre-by-4-metre-by-3-metre steel monolith that's intended to be built on a remote outcrop on Tasmania's west coast.

Chosen for its geopolitical and geological stability, ahead of other candidates like Malta, Norway and Qatar, the idea is that the Tasmanian site can cradle the black box for the benefit of a future civilisation, should catastrophic climate change cause the downfall of ours.

If that sounds unhinged, it's worth remembering that we're currently on track for as much as 2.7C of warming this century.

Ask any climate scientist what happens when warming breaches 2C, and they'll almost invariably tell you it's not worth thinking about.

Plenty of past civilizations and empires have collapsed in the face of less.

Could this be a future generation’s or visiting alien’s monolith?

FDA Authorizes Emergency Use of Paxlovid

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today granted Emergency Use Authorization to Pfizer’s (PFE) Covid-19 oral anti-viral pill:

FDA has authorized the emergency use of Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir) for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults and pediatric patients with positive results of direct SARS-CoV-2 viral testing, and who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19, including hospitalization or death.

The treatment includes nirmatrelvir, which was specifically designed to block the activity of the SARS-CoV-2 Mpro, an enzyme that the coronavirus needs to replicate.

Pfizer said the pill will be made available to patients in the U.S. immediately. According to CNBC, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla had earlier stated that the company has already shipped some of the pills to the U.S. so they can be prescribed as soon as the FDA authorization comes through.

This is great news - another weapon in our war against COVID-19. Lets hope this works just as well against the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

88MPH: The Story of the Delorean Time Machine

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When this baby hits 88 MPH, you’re going to see some serious shit

88MPH: The Story of the DeLorean Time Machine, a feature-length documentary about the Back to the Future and the DeLorean used in the movie. The full documentary is available for free on YouTube.

One of the greatest movies of all time with arguably the perfect script. The 80s were the greatest time to grow up in America.

Lionel Messi - the GOAT

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I don’t watch or follow football - Ted Lasso has more knowledge of the sport than I do. But you recognize perfection when you see it. This video of Lionel Messi from 2009-2013 is just mind boggling.

I dont’t think I have ever seen someone master their sport to this level. Not Jordan. Not Tiger. Not Brady. Lionel Messi is the GOAT of GOATs.

America Is Not Ready for Omicron

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Ed Young in The Atlantic: America is not Ready for Omicron:

Will the new and rapidly spreading variant overwhelm the U.S. health-care system? The question is moot because the system is already overwhelmed, in a way that is affecting all patients, COVID or otherwise. “The level of care that we’ve come to expect in our hospitals no longer exists,” Lowe said.

The real unknown is what an Omicron cross will do when it follows a Delta hook. Given what scientists have learned in the three weeks since Omicron’s discovery, “some of the absolute worst-case scenarios that were possible when we saw its genome are off the table, but so are some of the most hopeful scenarios,” Dylan Morris, an evolutionary biologist at UCLA, told me. In any case, America is not prepared for Omicron. The variant’s threat is far greater at the societal level than at the personal one, and policy makers have already cut themselves off from the tools needed to protect the populations they serve. Like the variants that preceded it, Omicron requires individuals to think and act for the collective good — which is to say, it poses a heightened version of the same challenge that the U.S. has failed for two straight years, in bipartisan fashion.


Here, then, is the problem: People who are unlikely to be hospitalized by Omicron might still feel reasonably protected, but they can spread the virus to those who are more vulnerable, quickly enough to seriously batter an already collapsing health-care system that will then struggle to care for anyone — vaccinated, boosted, or otherwise. The collective threat is substantially greater than the individual one. And the U.S. is ill-poised to meet it.

The key message is that this is a collective threat - and America has forgotten how to work as a part of the collective.

At the risk of sounding like a total nerd - okay who am I kidding - Spock said it best:

Were I to invoke logic, however, logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

And Kirk replies:

Or the one.

Hopefully the sliver lining of this pandemic will be that Americans learn to that sometimes individual rights have to take a backseat for the common good.

The Missing Chirstmas Mustache

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A four-minute animated short with Ted Lasso and the gang called The Missing Christmas Mustache. A nice way to kick off the holiday festivities.

3-2-1 Backup Rule

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With holidays upon us, families around the country will be generating millions of images and gigabytes of video files. Unfortunately these will remain on people’s cell phones until a catastrophe happens. Either they lose the phone or a device failure will render their memories lost. The only way to protect yourself is to have a clear back strategy.

Here is where the 3-2-1 backup rule comes into play.

Backups are good, but they may be useless without redundancy. This being said, a good backup strategy is a sure way to protect your data from any malfunction, erroneous activity, or disaster coming your way. Here, the 3-2-1 rule comes into play.

Key parts of this strategy:

  • Three copies of all data locally.
  • 2 backups - each on a different physical media.
  • And finally, a copy goes to the cloud.

This may seem overkill but the cost data loss is too high, which is why it is very smart to be ready even for any eventuality. The 3-2-1 backup rule is your way to keep data safe.

Wealth Disparity in Tokyo

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An interesting side by side comparison Tokyo’s poorest district vs the wealthiest.

I do not see too much of a difference. What is fascinating is that the poor neighborhood seems to have more stores, restaurants and activity than the wealthier neighborhood. It would be interesting to see if someone has done something similar to show the wealth disparity in United States. In the US it would be mansions with manicured lawns vs blocks of flats and gangs on the street.

Burnout Society

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An essay on The Burnout Society by Byung-Chul Han on Apposition:

Our old disciplinary societies were filled with external coercion: prohibitions, moral codes, instructions, fire-and-brimstone preachers, sanctimonious neighbours. If we went against the fabric of society, we risked and accepted our punishment, whether it came from the hands of worldly powers or in divine retribution.

Our motivations today come from within. Our goals are success and health. Our life is like a project, its worth measured by our accumulation of those things. No longer obedience-subjects, we are achievement-subjects. If the rejects of disciplinary society were madmen and criminals, the rejects of achievement society are depressives and losers.

I have a suspicion that the root cause of this is our society’s addiction to social media leading to our hyper inflated need to ‘keep up with the Jonses.’

Fox NFL Eviscerates Aron Rogers

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It’s obvious that the American public does not listen to physicians and scientists - so it falls on the athletes and celebrities to convince people to get vaccinated.

Taxing Billionaires

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Sums it up pretty well. Elon, last I checked I get my taxes deducted directly from my paycheck. And I am willing to bet its at a higher percentage then yours. We seriously need to re-vamp the tax code in this country.

The Gunpowder Plot

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Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

This might remind you of the excellent movie V for Vendetta released in 2005 (If you haven’t seen the movie, it is excellent). But what exactly was the Gunpowder Treason and Plot? History Today has an excellent article on the history and the modern festivals that commemorate it.

Guy Fawkes’ Night, the ‘Fifth of November’, has been popular and long-lived for two different reasons. The first is the spectacular nature of the event that it commemorated. Had the Gunpowder Plot succeeded, it would have killed the majority of the English political nation of the time, including most of the royal family, aristocracy and leading gentry and many merchants, as well as demolishing Westminster Palace and much of the Abbey and surrounding houses. It was intended not just to overthrow the existing monarch and central and local government, but the Church of England, as established since the Reformation, and the Protestant faith dominant in England. In its place the plotters planned to restore the Roman Catholic religion and enthrone a puppet princess.

James Bond Health Risk Analysis

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Epidemiologists have analyzed all 25 James Bond movies to assess the risks Bond encounters on his travels around the globe.

The biggest stretch in Graumans et al.’s analysis is that of feline-borne Toxoplasmosis, a parasite carried by cats. Those who contract the parasite tend to exhibit reckless behavior, such as mice losing their fear of cats. Bond engages in all manner of reckless behavior, and the authors suggest he may have contracted the parasite from Ernst Stavro Blofeld’s fluffy white Persian cat (featured in both From Russia With Love and Spectre). The possibility is admittedly far-fetched, but isn’t that the essence of a good Bond film?

The result is a highly entertaining, tongue-in-cheek short paper in the journal Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease. The paper details 007’s exposure risk to infectious agents during his global travels, covering everything from foodborne pathogens to ticks and mites, hangovers and dehydration from all those martinis, parasites, and unsafe sex.


The biggest stretch in Graumans et al.’s analysis is that of feline-borne Toxoplasmosis, a parasite carried by cats. Those who contract the parasite tend to exhibit reckless behavior, such as mice losing their fear of cats. Bond engages in all manner of reckless behavior, and the authors suggest he may have contracted the parasite from Ernst Stavro Blofeld’s fluffy white Persian cat (featured in both From Russia With Love and Spectre). The possibility is admittedly far-fetched, but isn’t that the essence of a good Bond film?

Dave Grohl Plays Drum to Recording of Smells Like Teen Spirit

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Dave Grohl plays this song with Kurt Cobain’s vocals. I think this is the first time I’ve seen Grohl play along to Nirvana since Kurt Cobain’s death.

It probably wasn’t easy for DG to get to this point where he was willing to share. At the show (and in his book and many interviews) he actually talked about the long path it took to get to not only TALK about Kurt, but to even want to listen to ANY music after his death. Still, a lot of time has passed, which always helps. And in the meantime, Dave has become quite a talented, thoughtful storyteller. I am sure, as difficult as it will always be to him, it probably also now a cathartic experience for him. At least I hope it is.

Writing the Perfect Bond Theme

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Barnaby Martin analyzes the theme that Radiohead wrote for the 2015 Bond film Spectre, a song that he calls “one of the greatest Bond themes ever written”

The 'Opportunity Zones' Loop Hole

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David Wessel on How ‘Opportunity Zones’ Became a Loophole for Elites'

It sounds good. Lots of tax-averse wealthy have money to invest. Scores of left-behind communities are starved for capital. Public policy can and should intervene. But Mr. Parker and allies apparently failed to appreciate the cleverness and aggressiveness of lawyers, accountants and money managers employed by the wealthy. They found myriad ways to exploit opportunity zones to reduce clients’ tax bills without much attention to those who actually live in the zones.


So what do we learn from all this? If we’re going to use the tax code to nudge rich people to invest in poor neighborhoods, we need stronger guardrails to direct money to intended destinations and more aggressive oversight — yes, from the Treasury Department and the I.R.S. — to counter the legions of well-paid loophole finders.

Nuclear Power - Best Bet Against Climate Change

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While high-profile accidents like Chernobyl, Fukushima, and Three Mile Island have helped to make us skittish about nuclear engergy - Samuel Miller MacDonald argues that it might be our best bet against climate change:

One of the main benefits of nuclear energy, of course, is that nuclear power plants themselves do not emit carbon or fine particulates. The ominous-looking smoke stacks made iconic by the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant of The Simpsons in fact only emit steam, making them much less deadly than the smaller, quainter, nostalgic red brick smokestacks of traditional coal plants. Nuclear-derived electricity would not completely eliminate the death toll due to carbon air pollution, given that a major portion of it comes from non–point source pollution like cars and trucks. But if nuclear plants were to displace existing electricity-generating coal and gas plants, they would certainly save many lives from air-pollution–related deaths each year; one study suggests, in particular, between 0.5 and 7 million lives by midcentury. Indeed, the more we learn about carbon air pollution, the more alarmed we should be, since it causes everything from birth defects to early-onset dementia. And the air pollution death toll doesn’t include the hundreds of millions or billions of people who will almost certainly suffer illness, displacement, and premature death from business-as-usual global warming trends this century. Again, replacing coal and gas electricity generation with nuclear energy worldwide could theoretically remove a nontrivial chunk of global carbon emissions.

The Hitchhiker's Guide - 42 Years!

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The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, first in the series of wacky and beloved sci-fi books by Douglas Adams, turns 42 years today. And of course 42 is the answer to the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything.

The Marcus O'Dair, author of The Rough Guide to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

We can see it in culture, where Adams' story is rumoured to have inspired everything from the band Level 42 to comedy show The Kumars at No. 42,“ he says. "We can see it in tech: in the real-life ‘knife that toasts,’ for instance, or in-ear translation services reminiscent of the Babel fish. The most visible sign of its ubiquity, though, might be the fact that we can celebrate its anniversary not at 40 or 50 years but at 42 — and everyone knows why.

Don’t panic - and never leave home without a towel.