Boris Johnson, the black marketeer

Brexit

We still don’t really know what Boris Johnson’s allegedly generous offer to the European Union was. But what we’re seeing now[1] certainly fits a pattern of seeking to blame the EU for any failure to reach a deal. But the Europeans have every reason to suspect that what Johnson seeks would create a pathway for a black market, which is precisely why the Irish backstop is so contentious.[2] And as we learned with Saddam Hussein, black markets can be incredibly lucrative for those who facilitate them, which leads to me to suspect that this is in fact Johnson’s plan.

Owen Bennett and James Crisp, “Fury as EU demands more Brexit concessions,” Telegraph, October 13, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/10/13/fury-eu-demands-brexit-concessions/


Catalonia

Pamela Rolfe and James McAuley, “Spanish Supreme Court sentences Catalan separatists to prison, sparking protests,” Washington Post, October 14, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/spanish-supreme-court-sentences-catalan-separatists-to-jail/2019/10/14/a0590366-ee59-11e9-89eb-ec56cd414732_story.html


Jeff Bezos

Charles Duhigg, “Is Amazon Unstoppable?” New Yorker, October 10, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/10/21/is-amazon-unstoppable

Franklin Foer, “Jeff Bezos’s Master Plan,” Atlantic, November 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/11/what-jeff-bezos-wants/598363/


Kurdistan

I guess Donald Trump did an oopsie.

Tobias Hoonhout, “U.S. Set to Impose New Sanctions on Turkey in Response to Syria Incursion: Report,” National Review, October 14, 2019, https://www.nationalreview.com/news/u-s-set-to-impose-new-sanctions-on-turkey-in-response-to-syria-incursion-report/

Saleha Mohsin, Jennifer Jacobs, and Ryan Beene, “U.S. Urges Immediate Cease-Fire in Syria as It Sanctions Turkey,” Bloomberg, October 14, 2019, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-10-14/u-s-sanctions-turkey-after-trump-opened-way-for-move-into-syria


  1. [1]Owen Bennett and James Crisp, “Fury as EU demands more Brexit concessions,” Telegraph, October 13, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/10/13/fury-eu-demands-brexit-concessions/
  2. [2]Karla Adam and William Booth, “Could Boris Johnson’s ‘no-deal’ Brexit break up the United Kingdom?” Washington Post, July 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/could-boris-johnsons-no-deal-brexit-crack-up-the-united-kingdom/2019/07/29/b871ebac-b1e6-11e9-acc8-1d847bacca73_story.html; Daniel Boffey, “However you look at it, the logic of a Brexit backstop refuses to yield,” Guardian, June 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/24/however-look-logic-brexit-backstop-refuses-to-yield-irish; British Broadcasting Corporation, “Irish deputy PM Coveney: No deal Brexit would mean customs checks in Ireland,” July 21, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-politics-49062367/irish-deputy-pm-coveney-no-deal-brexit-would-mean-customs-checks-in-ireland; Amanda Ferguson and William Booth, “Northern Ireland’s politicians don’t agree on much. Except that Boris Johnson’s no-deal Brexit would be a disaster,” Washington Post, July 31, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/northern-irelands-politicians-dont-agree-on-much-except-that-boris-johnsons-no-deal-brexit-would-be-a-disaster/2019/07/31/c209affa-b2eb-11e9-acc8-1d847bacca73_story.html; Peter Foster and Camilla Tominey, “Boris Johnson warned that ‘no deal’ Brexit will require return of ‘direct rule’ in Northern Ireland,” Telegraph, July 26, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/07/26/boris-johnson-warned-no-deal-brexit-will-require-return-direct/; Katy Hayward, “Can technology and ‘max fac’ solve the Irish border question? Expert explains,” Conversation, May 23, 2018, http://theconversation.com/can-technology-and-max-fac-solve-the-irish-border-question-expert-explains-96735; Conor Humphries, “Irish PM says hard Brexit would raise issue of Irish unification,” Telegraph, July 27, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-eu-ireland-nireland-idUSKCN1UL280; Séamas O’Reilly, “Hard Brexiters’ stance on the Irish border is nonsense – I can tell you, I grew up there,” Guardian, August 7, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/07/northern-ireland-hard-border-brexit-customs; Kate Proctor, “Irish border after Brexit – all ideas are beset by issues says secret paper,” Guardian, September 2, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/02/irish-border-after-brexit-all-ideas-beset-by-issues; Steven Swinford and Henry Zeffman, “Backstop protects stability in Ireland, Macron tells PM,” Times, August 22, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/find-an-alternative-to-irish-backstop-and-brexit-deal-is-possible-angela-merkel-tells-boris-johnson-dmtfzf9gz

A Pennsylvania high?

Pennsylvania

State legislator David Delloso has introduced a bill to legalize recreational marijuana in Pennsylvania[1] following the governor’s expression of support.[2]

If the drug were to be sold in Pennsylvania, it would be “well taxed and well regulated to protect the kids,” [David] Delloso said in a phone interview with Lancaster Online. “When I was a kid, you knew what bars would sell you a six-pack, but you knew that no matter how hard you tried, you weren’t getting out of a state store with a bottle of Jack Daniel’s.”[3]

This would be nothing like California. If passed, personal cultivation would remain illegal and marijuana sales would be legal only through Pennsylvania’s generic “state stores,”[4] presently branded “Fine Wines and Good Spirits,” the only places in the state where hard liquor may be obtained. I’m not seeing here who would cultivate the marijuana or under what conditions.

Hunter Moyler, “Pennsylvania proposes sale of recreational marijuana just days after governor says he supports legalization,” Newsweek, October 2, 2019, https://www.newsweek.com/pennsylvania-proposes-sale-recreational-marijuana-just-days-after-governor-says-he-supports-1462756


Brexit

Daniel Boffey and Heather Stewart, “Dismay in Brussels as Boris Johnson finally reveals Brexit plan,” Guardian, October 2, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/oct/02/boris-johnson-unveils-brexit-plan-for-alternative-to-backstop


Elon Musk

Elon Musk appears to be treating Mars as terra nullius before we have ruled out the existence of some microbes somewhere on the planet and it appears unlikely that colonists can be adequately protected from radiation.[5]

Samantha Rolfe, “Elon Musk’s Starship may be more moral catastrophe than bold step in space exploration,” Science X, October 2, 2019, https://phys.org/news/2019-10-elon-musk-starship-moral-catastrophe.html


  1. [1]Hunter Moyler, “Pennsylvania proposes sale of recreational marijuana just days after governor says he supports legalization,” Newsweek, October 2, 2019, https://www.newsweek.com/pennsylvania-proposes-sale-recreational-marijuana-just-days-after-governor-says-he-supports-1462756
  2. [2]Kara Seymour, “PA Governor Calls For Legalizing Recreational Marijuana,” Patch, September 25, 2019, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/gutg4/pa-governor-calls-for-legalizing-recreational-marijuana
  3. [3]Hunter Moyler, “Pennsylvania proposes sale of recreational marijuana just days after governor says he supports legalization,” Newsweek, October 2, 2019, https://www.newsweek.com/pennsylvania-proposes-sale-recreational-marijuana-just-days-after-governor-says-he-supports-1462756
  4. [4]Hunter Moyler, “Pennsylvania proposes sale of recreational marijuana just days after governor says he supports legalization,” Newsweek, October 2, 2019, https://www.newsweek.com/pennsylvania-proposes-sale-recreational-marijuana-just-days-after-governor-says-he-supports-1462756
  5. [5]Samantha Rolfe, “Elon Musk’s Starship may be more moral catastrophe than bold step in space exploration,” Science X, October 2, 2019, https://phys.org/news/2019-10-elon-musk-starship-moral-catastrophe.html

Francis Drake might have landed in Oregon, not California

Francis Drake

Melissa Darby argues that Francis Drake may have landed in Oregon rather than California, that Chinese porcelain fragments may not have come from Drake’s ship, and that Herbert Bolton, who had already established a reputation in academia and was in the twilight of his career, may have made up the whole thing about the Point Reyes site as a joke that got out of control.[1] Note that none of this actually amounts to a refutation:

Members of the Drake Navigators Guild, a nonprofit group championing the Drakes Bay theory, soundly reject [Melissa] Darby’s assertion about [Herbert] Bolton. “The idea of a conspiracy doesn’t work,” says Michael Von der Porten, a financial planner and second-generation member of the guild whose father was part of the 2003 team that studied the hoax. He also dismisses her conclusions about a landing north of Drakes Bay. “This is yet another fringe theory, a total farce.”

Michael Moratto, an archaeologist who has been digging around Drakes Bay for decades, agrees. “I’ve spent 50 years listening to all sides of the debate, and for me it is settled.” Darby favors an Oregon landing site for parochial reasons, he adds, and “is twisting all of this to suit her own purposes.” He still maintains that some of the Chinese porcelain found at the bay came from [Francis] Drake’s cargo.[2]

Andrew Lawler, “Did Francis Drake Really Land in California?” Smithsonian, September 26, 2019, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/did-francis-drake-really-land-california-180973219/


Israel

Felicia Schwartz, “Netanyahu Is Given Four Days in Pretrial Hearing to Fend Off Formal Charges,” Wall Street Journal, September 29, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/netanyahu-is-given-four-days-in-pretrial-hearing-to-fend-off-formal-charges-11569773428


Brexit

Kate Proctor, “Boris Johnson fuels speculation he could ignore Brexit delay law,” Guardian, September 29, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/29/boris-johnson-fuels-speculation-could-ignore-brexit-delay-law


Redlining

I’m beginning to make a project of cataloging the weapons, gratuitously displayed, that I refer to in a previous blog post.[3] It is possible to honor veterans and war dead without guns—indeed, many sites in the area do just this—so the fetishization here remains truly striking and while I may need to refine the scope of my claim, there are an awful lot of weapons on display in and around redlined areas.

After I recognized what I was seeing from Ta-Nehisi Coates’ description,[4] my mother confirmed that there was “terrible” (I think she used that word) redlining in Pittsburgh. I pondered that later, wondering how she knew: Wouldn’t, I thought to myself, something like this be kept an insiders’ secret?

Um, no. I’ve found a redlining map of Pittsburgh. It does not cover the entire area that I am covering. But it is well worth exploring. The site is interactive in ways you might not expect, so try clicking on things, and then read the reports compiled at the time for each of the “graded areas.”[5] This is a historical gold mine.

What I can say is first, that it is shocking to see just how much of Pittsburgh was redlined—much, much more than could possibly be kept a secret—and second, that, over 80 years later, many of these areas have still not recovered, either through redevelopment or gentrification. There are many abandoned buildings, often more than one on a block, some of which have satellite dishes attached to them, indicating more recent occupancy, but showing that when calamity of one sort or another (often fire) strikes, properties may simply be left to crumble while neighbors strive to carry on. And, of course, these areas appear to have very high proportions of Blacks among their populations.

To be honest, I’ve never seen anything quite like this before. It’s jawdropping—all of it—what I’m seeing on the redlining map and what I’m seeing on the ground.

I’m still finding guns and other heavy weaponry on a catch-as-catch-can basis, so far, mostly south of the Monongahela River (the area I cover most intensively while driving for Lyft). It would be good to be more systematic about this.


  1. [1]Andrew Lawler, “Did Francis Drake Really Land in California?” Smithsonian, September 26, 2019, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/did-francis-drake-really-land-california-180973219/
  2. [2]Andrew Lawler, “Did Francis Drake Really Land in California?” Smithsonian, September 26, 2019, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/did-francis-drake-really-land-california-180973219/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “The banners and the guns: Flagrant racism in Pittsburgh,” Not Housebroken, September 22, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/09/20/the-banners-and-the-guns-flagrant-racism-in-pittsburgh/
  4. [4]Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The Case for Reparations,” Atlantic, June 2014, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/06/the-case-for-reparations/361631/
  5. [5]Robert K. Nelson et al., “Mapping Inequality,” University of Richmond, ed. Robert K. Nelson and Edward L. Ayers, n.d., https://dsl.richmond.edu/panorama/redlining/#loc=12/40.442/-80.073&city=pittsburgh-pa

Reading the tea leaves

Updates

  1. Originally published, September 22, 5:44 pm.
  2. September 22, 7:42 pm:
    • So-called “Arab” (for which, read “Palestinian”) parties have thrown their support behind Benny Gantz in an effort to stop Binyamin Netanyahu. A curious part is that Avigdor Liberman seems to have taken himself out of the game, refusing to endorse either Blue and White or Likud and instead insisting that the two major parties should form a unity government. Liberman doesn’t care whether Netanyahu or Gantz serves first.[1]

I’ve begun work on a new page entitled “Pittsburgh driving for the uninitiated.“

My real purpose is to have something to point to when the Lyft safety team relays a complaint (which they never describe with any detail or specificity and which I suspect they sometimes pull out of thin air) about the difficulties of Pittsburgh driving. And of course they won’t actually read it because they don’t really give a damn, would be happy to just terminate me regardless, and in the meantime satisfy themselves with messing with my head. But it does show something of what I’m up against and what all Pittsburgh drivers are up against.


I’ve added photographs to my last blog post entitled, “The banners and the guns: Flagrant racism in Pittsburgh.


I’m not fond of the class of coverage I have here for both the Brexit and Israel headings and that nothing else had reached my very arbitrary and very ambiguous threshold for coverage here yesterday explains the absence of an issue. I’m less interested in speculation than in what actually happens. But sometimes the analysis is worth reading.

With both these issues very much up in the air—no one can predict these outcomes with confidence—I hope these analyses offer a little additional insight.


Brexit

Jamie Doward, “Supreme court poised to rule against Boris Johnson, say legal experts,” Guardian, September 22, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/law/2019/sep/22/supreme-court-verdict-boris-johnson-prorogation


Israel

Natan Sachs, “The End of Netanyahu’s Unchecked Reign,” Atlantic, September 19, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/09/israel-steps-back-two-brinks/598384/

David Horovitz, “Results aren’t even official, but already nightmare 3rd election scenario looms,” Times of Israel, September 20, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/results-arent-even-official-but-already-nightmare-3rd-election-scenario-looms/

Oliver Holmes, “Israel: Wounded Netanyahu in desperate battle for political survival after poll blow,” Guardian, September 21, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/sep/21/netanyahu-battle-for-survival-after-israel-poll-shock-benny-gantz

Ruth Eglash, “Arab parties throw support behind Gantz as they seek to block Netanyahu,” Washington Post, September 22, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/in-second-stage-of-israels-election-process-president-could-be-kingmaker/2019/09/22/9cd4849c-dbce-11e9-a1a5-162b8a9c9ca2_story.html


Gig economy

This[2] is not what I wanted to hear.

Diane Mulcahy, “California’s New Gig Economy Law Is All Bark, No Bite,” Forbes, September 20, 2019, https://www.forbes.com/sites/dianemulcahy/2019/09/20/californias-new-gig-economy-law-is-all-bark-no-bite/


  1. [1]Ruth Eglash, “Arab parties throw support behind Gantz as they seek to block Netanyahu,” Washington Post, September 22, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/in-second-stage-of-israels-election-process-president-could-be-kingmaker/2019/09/22/9cd4849c-dbce-11e9-a1a5-162b8a9c9ca2_story.html
  2. [2]Diane Mulcahy, “California’s New Gig Economy Law Is All Bark, No Bite,” Forbes, September 20, 2019, https://www.forbes.com/sites/dianemulcahy/2019/09/20/californias-new-gig-economy-law-is-all-bark-no-bite/

Politics, whether or not by other means

Iran

Paul Schemm, “Saudi military presents weapons debris, says oil attacks ‘unquestionably sponsored’ by Iran but launch point not yet determined,” Washington Post, September 18, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/iran-warns-us-of-broad-retaliation-in-case-of-any-attack/2019/09/18/35a1275c-d99f-11e9-a1a5-162b8a9c9ca2_story.html


Israel

Aron Heller, “Gamble pays off for Lieberman, who becomes Israeli kingmaker,” Associated Press, September 17, 2019, https://apnews.com/192335a30dca44e59fb1534974de5891


Gig economy

John Myers, Johana Bhuiyan, and Margot Roosevelt, “Newsom signs bill rewriting California employment law, limiting use of independent contractors,” Los Angeles Times, September 18, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-09-18/gavin-newsom-signs-ab5-employees0independent-contractors-california


 

California’s AB 5 has larger implications

Gig economy

There is a new blog post entitled, “The larger question of California’s AB 5.”

Angela Chen, “This is one way Uber and Lyft want to get around making drivers employees,” MIT Technology Review, September 13, 2019, https://www.technologyreview.com/s/614308/uber-lyft-ab5-gig-workers-labor-classification-third-category-tech-policy/

Noam Cohen, “How Tech Firms Like Uber Hide Behind the ‘Platform Defense,’” Wired, September 13, 2019, https://www.wired.com/story/how-tech-firms-like-uber-hide-behind-the-platform-defense/


Brexit

Tim Ross, Jess Shankleman, and Alex Morales, “Boris Johnson’s Nightmare on Downing Street,” Bloomberg, September 13, 2019, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-09-13/nightmare-on-downing-street-as-team-johnson-fears-brexit-mutiny


Iran

Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed credit for a drone attack on Saudi Arabian oil production facilities 500 miles away.[1]

Hours later, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo directly blamed Iran for “an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply.” Pompeo, however, offered no specific evidence.[2]

If the Trump administration is looking for an excuse to attack Iran, I suppose this will do. Even if Mike Pompeo is wrong about Iran launching the attack,[3] Iran backs the Houthi rebels and would likely have supplied the drones that would capable of hitting the target. It would almost be as if Donald Trump got rid of John Bolton[4] just in time (four days ago) to avoid him taking credit or blame for such a decision.

Kareem Fahim and Steven Mufson, “Saudi Arabia oil output takes major hit after apparent drone attacks claimed by Yemen rebels,” Washington Post, September 14, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/drone-attacks-on-saudi-oil-facilities-spark-explosions-and-fires/2019/09/14/b6fab6d0-d6b9-11e9-ab26-e6dbebac45d3_story.html


  1. [1]Kareem Fahim and Steven Mufson, “Saudi Arabia oil output takes major hit after apparent drone attacks claimed by Yemen rebels,” Washington Post, September 14, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/drone-attacks-on-saudi-oil-facilities-spark-explosions-and-fires/2019/09/14/b6fab6d0-d6b9-11e9-ab26-e6dbebac45d3_story.html
  2. [2]Kareem Fahim and Steven Mufson, “Saudi Arabia oil output takes major hit after apparent drone attacks claimed by Yemen rebels,” Washington Post, September 14, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/drone-attacks-on-saudi-oil-facilities-spark-explosions-and-fires/2019/09/14/b6fab6d0-d6b9-11e9-ab26-e6dbebac45d3_story.html
  3. [3]Kareem Fahim and Steven Mufson, “Saudi Arabia oil output takes major hit after apparent drone attacks claimed by Yemen rebels,” Washington Post, September 14, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/drone-attacks-on-saudi-oil-facilities-spark-explosions-and-fires/2019/09/14/b6fab6d0-d6b9-11e9-ab26-e6dbebac45d3_story.html
  4. [4]Anne Gearan, John Wagner, and Robert Costa, “Bolton out as national security adviser after clashing with Trump,” Washington Post, September 10, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-fires-bolton-as-national-security-adviser-saying-he-disagreed-strongly-with-many-of-his-suggestions/2019/09/10/13409e2c-d3b9-11e9-9610-fb56c5522e1c_story.html

Uber and Lyft defiant

Gig economy

We already knew Uber was planning to defy California’s AB 5 requiring it to classify its drivers as employees.[1] Now we see Lyft will do the same.[2] It’s no surprise and the Vox article[3] otherwise adds nothing new to earlier coverage.[4] Nathan Heller’s article[5] is a bit more retrospective, with little new for those of us who’ve paid close attention, but possibly useful for those who haven’t.

I guess two things are remarkable to me here: First, how widely and generally accepted it is that Uber and Lyft drivers deserve better protection from neoliberal bullshit; and second, that Uber and Lyft really imagine they can prevail in a court system that handed down the Dynamex decision. Really, what they can do is stall, and I suspect that’s the real plan, to delay being busted for their bezzle.

Shirin Ghaffary, “Uber and Lyft say they don’t plan to reclassify their drivers as employees,” Vox, September 11, 2019, https://www.vox.com/2019/9/11/20861599/ab-5-uber-lyft-drivers-contractors-reclassify-employees

Nathan Heller, “A New California Law Takes Aim at Uber and Lyft,” New Yorker, September 12, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-silicon-valley/a-new-california-law-takes-aim-at-uber-and-lyft


Brexit

Boris Johnson has repeated the lie[6] that everyone, including the Scottish Court of Session, knows is a lie.[7]

Francis Elliott, “I didn’t lie to the Queen, says Boris Johnson,” Times, September 12, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/i-didnt-lie-to-the-queen-says-johnson-q875lrxzk


Palestine

Times of Israel, “Netanyahu: I tried to annex Jordan Valley before election but AG said I couldn’t,” September 11, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-tried-to-annex-jordan-valley-before-election-but-was-told-to-wait/

Jacob Magid, “PM’s Jordan Valley map was error-strewn, but is his vow worth taking seriously?” Times of Israel, September 12, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/pms-jordan-valley-map-was-error-strewn-but-is-his-vow-worth-taking-seriously/


  1. [1]Kate Conger, “Uber Says It Will Not Change Driver Status Under California Gig-Worker Law,” New York Times, September 11, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/11/business/economy/uber-california-bill.html; Aaron Gordon, “Uber To California: Make Us,” Jalopnik, September 11, 2019, https://jalopnik.com/uber-and-lyft-drivers-shouldnt-expect-to-be-employees-a-1838048966
  2. [2]Shirin Ghaffary, “Uber and Lyft say they don’t plan to reclassify their drivers as employees,” Vox, September 11, 2019, https://www.vox.com/2019/9/11/20861599/ab-5-uber-lyft-drivers-contractors-reclassify-employees
  3. [3]Shirin Ghaffary, “Uber and Lyft say they don’t plan to reclassify their drivers as employees,” Vox, September 11, 2019, https://www.vox.com/2019/9/11/20861599/ab-5-uber-lyft-drivers-contractors-reclassify-employees
  4. [4]Kate Conger, “Uber Says It Will Not Change Driver Status Under California Gig-Worker Law,” New York Times, September 11, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/11/business/economy/uber-california-bill.html; Aaron Gordon, “Uber To California: Make Us,” Jalopnik, September 11, 2019, https://jalopnik.com/uber-and-lyft-drivers-shouldnt-expect-to-be-employees-a-1838048966
  5. [5]Nathan Heller, “A New California Law Takes Aim at Uber and Lyft,” New Yorker, September 12, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-silicon-valley/a-new-california-law-takes-aim-at-uber-and-lyft
  6. [6]Francis Elliott, “I didn’t lie to the Queen, says Boris Johnson,” Times, September 12, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/i-didnt-lie-to-the-queen-says-johnson-q875lrxzk
  7. [7]Karla Adam and Michael Birnbaum, “Allies of British prime minister resign amid outrage over Parliament suspension,” Washington Post, August 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/british-leaders-backers-dismiss-outrage-over-parliament-suspension-as-candyfloss/2019/08/29/fa1e2c96-ca3c-11e9-a4f3-c081a126de70_story.html; Griff Witte and Karla Adam, “Scottish court rules Johnson’s suspension of Britain’s Parliament was illegal,” Washington Post, September 11, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/scottish-court-rules-johnsons-suspension-of-britains-parliament-was-illegal/2019/09/11/84265a36-d40a-11e9-8924-1db7dac797fb_story.html; Griff Witte and Karla Adam, “Scottish court rules Johnson’s suspension of Britain’s Parliament was illegal,” Washington Post, September 11, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/scottish-court-rules-johnsons-suspension-of-britains-parliament-was-illegal/2019/09/11/84265a36-d40a-11e9-8924-1db7dac797fb_story.html

Uber. Toilet. Flush.

Gig economy

Bullshit:

“Our hope with these changes is to reset and improve how we work day to day — ruthlessly prioritizing, and always holding ourselves accountable to a high bar of performance and agility,” an Uber spokesperson told TechCrunch. “While certainly painful in the moment, especially for those directly affected, we believe that this will result in a much stronger technical organization, which going forward will continue to hire some of the very best talent around the world.”[1]

For crying out loud, it even sounds like bullshit. And that’s exactly what it is.

What’s worse, it’s neoliberal bullshit, the bullshit that, among other things, asserts the problem of profitability is never with the company itself, never with its business plan, and certainly never with management, but always with the workers. Efficiency here is always defined in terms of cutting labor costs. Drivers have borne the brunt of this from the beginning (and California, at least, is finally calling bullshit[2]); that failed (and still fails), so now Uber lays off employees.

Megan Rose Dickey, “Uber lays off 435 people across engineering and product teams,” TechCrunch, September 10, 2019, https://techcrunch.com/2019/09/10/uber-lays-off-435-people-across-engineering-and-product-teams/

Heather Somerville and Mark Maurer, “Uber Cuts More Than 400 Technical Jobs,” Wall Street Journal, September 10, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-cuts-more-than-400-technical-jobs-11568144111

Sophia Bollag, “California Uber, Lyft drivers to become employees under measure Gov. Gavin Newsom says he’ll sign,” Sacramento Bee, September 11, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article234973107.html

Kate Conger, “Uber Says It Will Not Change Driver Status Under California Gig-Worker Law,” New York Times, September 11, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/11/business/economy/uber-california-bill.html

Alejandro Lazo, “California Passes Landmark Bill Requiring Contract Workers to Be Labeled as Employees,” Wall Street Journal, September 11, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/california-governor-still-in-talks-with-uber-lyft-over-gig-workers-law-11568212014


Brexit

This is what Boris Johnson’s government has denied,[3] cannot admit, and why:

The Court of Session said that the decision was invalid because it was “motivated by the improper purpose of stymieing parliament” in an excoriating judgment that effectively accused the prime minister of misleading the Queen to make her act unlawfully.[4]

Chris Smyth, Kieran Andrews, and Jonathan Ames, “Parliament suspension ‘unlawful,’” Times, September 11, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/scottish-court-rules-parliament-suspension-unlawful-xdzj2c6kk

Griff Witte and Karla Adam, “Scottish court rules Johnson’s suspension of Britain’s Parliament was illegal,” Washington Post, September 11, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/scottish-court-rules-johnsons-suspension-of-britains-parliament-was-illegal/2019/09/11/84265a36-d40a-11e9-8924-1db7dac797fb_story.html


Palestine

In a previous installment,[5] Binyamin Netanyahu had promised to annex almost all of the West Bank.[6] He might not be getting the reaction he hoped for:

Yamina, a coalition of right-wing religious parties, also dismissed Netanyahu’s statement as “spin” and said only it would ensure that large swaths of the West Bank currently under Israeli control are retained.

“With regards to the Jordan Valley, we call on Netanyahu to pass a cabinet decision already this evening as was done when sovereignty was applied over Jerusalem. There is no need for legislation. We will stand behind him immediately,” it said in a statement.

“Otherwise, the entire nation of Israel will know that this was a cheap political spin meant to snarf up votes and nothing more,” the statement added. . . .

On the left-side of the political map, Labor MK Itzik Shmuli linked the announcement to Netanyahu’s efforts to avoid prosecution in a series of graft probes.

“In order to obtain enough mandates for immunity from prison Netanyahu will even promise to annex the moon,” Shmuli tweeted.[7]

I have little doubt Binyamin Netanyahu is desperately attempting to avoid prosecution, but I fear Ayman Odeh gets it right:

However, Ayman Odeh, who heads the Joint List alliance of Arab majority parties, warned Netanyahu’s vow was no mere campaign promise.

“This isn’t only election spin,” Odeh wrote on Twitter, claiming the annexation of areas of the West Bank was part of the Israel right’s “vision of apartheid.

“They don’t want to make the [West] Bank part of Israel, they want to make Israel an extension of the West Bank. A minority of Jewish citizens ruling a majority of Palestinian subjects without rights,” Odeh added.[8]

Israel already engages in ethnic cleansing and operates an apartheid system, preferring Jews to those it calls “Arabs,” seeking to erase Palestinian identity (a genocidal act).

Times of Israel, “Netanyahu’s Jordan Valley sovereignty vow widely panned by politicians as ‘spin,’” Times of Israel, September 11, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahus-jordan-valley-vow-widely-panned-by-politicians-as-spin/


  1. [1]Megan Rose Dickey, “Uber lays off 435 people across engineering and product teams,” TechCrunch, September 10, 2019, https://techcrunch.com/2019/09/10/uber-lays-off-435-people-across-engineering-and-product-teams/
  2. [2]Sophia Bollag, “California Uber, Lyft drivers to become employees under measure Gov. Gavin Newsom says he’ll sign,” Sacramento Bee, September 11, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article234973107.html; Alejandro Lazo, “California Passes Landmark Bill Requiring Contract Workers to Be Labeled as Employees,” Wall Street Journal, September 11, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/california-governor-still-in-talks-with-uber-lyft-over-gig-workers-law-11568212014
  3. [3]Karla Adam and Michael Birnbaum, “Allies of British prime minister resign amid outrage over Parliament suspension,” Washington Post, August 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/british-leaders-backers-dismiss-outrage-over-parliament-suspension-as-candyfloss/2019/08/29/fa1e2c96-ca3c-11e9-a4f3-c081a126de70_story.html
  4. [4]Chris Smyth, Kieran Andrews, and Jonathan Ames, “Parliament suspension ‘unlawful,’” Times, September 11, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/scottish-court-rules-parliament-suspension-unlawful-xdzj2c6kk
  5. [5]David Benfell, “The U.S. is now a little less likely to invade Iran,” Irregular Bullshit, September 10, 2019, https://disunitedstates.com/2019/09/10/the-u-s-is-now-a-little-less-likely-to-invade-iran/
  6. [6]Oliver Holmes, “Netanyahu vows to annex large parts of occupied West Bank,” Guardian, September 10, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/sep/10/netanyahu-vows-annex-large-parts-occupied-west-bank-trump
  7. [7]Times of Israel, “Netanyahu’s Jordan Valley sovereignty vow widely panned by politicians as ‘spin,’” Times of Israel, September 11, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahus-jordan-valley-vow-widely-panned-by-politicians-as-spin/
  8. [8]Times of Israel, “Netanyahu’s Jordan Valley sovereignty vow widely panned by politicians as ‘spin,’” Times of Israel, September 11, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahus-jordan-valley-vow-widely-panned-by-politicians-as-spin/

Donald Trump just isn’t that into Faux News (not fake enough) anymore

Updates

  1. Originally published, August 30, 8:26 pm.
  2. Update August 30, 9:55 pm:
    • Dorian is now a category 4 storm as it approaches the Bahamas. Considerable uncertainty remains as to how it will affect Florida.[1] I have also updated the maps from the National Hurricane Center.

Faux News

So in the last installment,[2] Donald Trump slammed Faux News for daring to feature some neoliberals (Democrats).[3] Now we have the spurned Faux News firing back.[4] I’m waiting to see the supermarket tabloids on this one. ’Cause you know that’s where all the juicy stuff is.

Allyson Chiu,“‘We don’t work for you’: Fox News’s Neil Cavuto rebukes Trump for slamming network,” Washington Post, August 30, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/08/30/neil-cavuto-fox-news-trump-work-you/


Gig economy

There is a new blog post entitled, “Time for the gig economy to grow up.”

Aaron Gordon, “Uber And Lyft Don’t Have A Right To Exist,” Jalopnik, August 30, 2019, https://jalopnik.com/uber-and-lyft-dont-have-a-right-to-exist-1837680434

Alejandro Lazo and Eliot Brown, “Uber, Lyft, DoorDash Threaten Ballot Fight Over California Gig-Worker Law,” Wall Street Journal, August 29, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-lyft-doordash-threaten-ballot-fight-over-california-gig-worker-law-11567126445


Elon Musk

There is another new blog post entitled, “The consciousness of Elon Musk.”

Edwin Chan, Lulu Yilun Chen, and Chunying Zhang, “The Time a Jet-Lagged Musk Made Alibaba’s Jack Ma Sound Grounded,” Bloomberg, August 29, 2019, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-08-29/the-time-a-jet-lagged-musk-made-alibaba-s-jack-ma-sound-grounded


Dorian

234529_5day_cone_no_line_and_win
This storm track takes Dorian almost directly over the northern Bahama Islands. National Hurricane Center map, August 30, 2019, fair use.

For those who are hoping, seriously or otherwise,[5] Mar a Lago is on south Florida’s Atlantic coast, roughly parallel with Grand Bahama.

I’ve been thinking this storm would surely turn north. Initially I figured it would hit the Carolinas. But as of the 8:00 pm images, the storm appeared to be following an earlier forecast track fairly closely. If the track shown above holds, Dorian should make landfall near Vero Beach, far enough north from Mar a Lago that winds should be strong but considerably reduced. We’re not talking eye wall stuff here by something like 80 miles.
234529
Note that the purple zone is for winds 39 miles per hour or higher. National Hurricane Center map, August 30, 2019, fair use.
car-2019-08-30-20
72-hour gif, images taken two hours apart, as of 8:00 pm.

Kayla Epstein, “‘I’m rooting for a direct hit on Mar a Lago!’ Former Canadian prime minister creates Twitter storm,” Washington Post, August 30, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2019/08/30/im-rooting-direct-hit-mar-a-lago-former-canadian-pm-creates-twitter-storm/

Jason Samenow, Matthew Cappucci, and Andrew Freedman, “Potentially disastrous Hurricane Dorian strengthens to Category 4 as it targets Florida and Southeast U.S.,” Washington Post, August 30, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2019/08/30/potentially-disastrous-hurricane-dorian-looms-closer-stronger-targeting-florida-southeast-us/


  1. [1]Jason Samenow, Matthew Cappucci, and Andrew Freedman, “Potentially disastrous Hurricane Dorian strengthens to Category 4 as it targets Florida and Southeast U.S.,” Washington Post, August 30, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2019/08/30/potentially-disastrous-hurricane-dorian-looms-closer-stronger-targeting-florida-southeast-us/
  2. [2]David Benfell, “Are we waiting for the make-up sex or does this count as another divorce?” Irregular Bullshit, August 29, 2019, https://disunitedstates.com/2019/08/29/are-we-waiting-for-the-make-up-sex-or-does-this-count-as-another-divorce/
  3. [3]Brett Samuels, “Trump criticizes Fox, which ‘isn’t working for us anymore,’” Hill, August 28, 2019, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/459105-trump-criticizes-fox-which-isnt-working-for-us-anymore
  4. [4]Allyson Chiu,“‘We don’t work for you’: Fox News’s Neil Cavuto rebukes Trump for slamming network,” Washington Post, August 30, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/08/30/neil-cavuto-fox-news-trump-work-you/
  5. [5]Kayla Epstein, “‘I’m rooting for a direct hit on Mar a Lago!’ Former Canadian prime minister creates Twitter storm,” Washington Post, August 30, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2019/08/30/im-rooting-direct-hit-mar-a-lago-former-canadian-pm-creates-twitter-storm/

Are we waiting for the make-up sex or does this count as another divorce?

Faux News

Donald Trump apparently did not utter the words, “I divorce thee,” three times. (Oh right, that’s a custom among some Muslims. Well, you know, lots of things are confusing these days.)

Brett Samuels, “Trump criticizes Fox, which ‘isn’t working for us anymore,’” Hill, August 28, 2019, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/459105-trump-criticizes-fox-which-isnt-working-for-us-anymore


Jeffrey Epstein

There is a new blog post entitled, “We’ll never know. We’ll never be able to conclusively rule out the conspiracy theories about Jeffrey Epstein’s death.” I’m sure the elite will manage to trudge on. It must be tough.

Mark Hosenball, “FBI studies two broken cameras outside cell where Epstein died: source,” Reuters, August 28, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-people-jeffrey-epstein-cameras-idUSKCN1VI2LC


Uber

There is another new blog post entitled, “Uber’s spiral down.”

Eliot Brown and Sarah Nassauer, “Uber Cuts Third of Marketing Staff; Lyft Chief Operating Officer Exits,” Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-cuts-third-of-marketing-staff-lyft-chief-operating-officer-exits-11564430556


Dorian

car-2019-08-29-20
Dorian’s brush with Puerto Rico and a string of Carribean islands can still be seen in this 72-hour gif, composed of images taken two hours apart, as of 8:00 pm EDT tonight.

Matthew Cappucci, Andrew Freedman, and Jason Samenow, “Hurricane Dorian: Florida on guard for potential major hurricane strike,” Washington Post, August 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2019/08/29/hurricane-dorian-florida-guard-potential-major-hurricane-strike/


Sexual orientation

Can sexual orientation be attributed to nature or nurture? The answer seems to be, it’s complicated, but there are a number of genetic components that appear to increase the probability of particular orientations.[1] What we’re not seeing here is linear causation, with one cause and one effect. But these findings would seem to indicate that sexual orientation cannot be attributed solely to any social cause. They will be a blow to social conservatives, especially those who think they can “reprogram” people to be heterosexual.

Andrea Ganna, et al., “Large-scale GWAS reveals insights into the genetic architecture of same-sex sexual behavior,” Science 365, no. 6456 (2019), doi: 10.1126/science.aat7693


Brexit

But one top Johnson lieutenant, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, was caught on camera acknowledging that Johnson was struggling to push through Brexit without a majority.

“Parliament has been very good at saying what it doesn’t want. It has been awful at saying what it wants. That’s the reality. So eventually any leader has to, you know, try,” Wallace explained to French Defense Minister Florence Parly, caught on camera ahead of an unrelated meeting in Helsinki.

A government spokesman said later that Wallace “misspoke.”[2]

But everyone knows that Ben Wallace “misspoke” the truth. It’s really rather silly, which I guess is another word for a legal artifice, to deny it.

Karla Adam and Michael Birnbaum, “Allies of British prime minister resign amid outrage over Parliament suspension,” Washington Post, August 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/british-leaders-backers-dismiss-outrage-over-parliament-suspension-as-candyfloss/2019/08/29/fa1e2c96-ca3c-11e9-a4f3-c081a126de70_story.html


  1. [1]Andrea Ganna, et al., “Large-scale GWAS reveals insights into the genetic architecture of same-sex sexual behavior,” Science 365, no. 6456 (2019), doi: 10.1126/science.aat7693
  2. [2]Karla Adam and Michael Birnbaum, “Allies of British prime minister resign amid outrage over Parliament suspension,” Washington Post, August 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/british-leaders-backers-dismiss-outrage-over-parliament-suspension-as-candyfloss/2019/08/29/fa1e2c96-ca3c-11e9-a4f3-c081a126de70_story.html