Monthly Archives: April 2020

Groupthink and/or Capitalism

Assuming this is not part of some weird conspiracy, it either demonstrates profound groupthink, or something even more profound and yet facile about the way in which capitalism induces corporations large, and also smaller, to reach for identikit messaging.

I suppose one could chalk it up to the narrowness of advertising agencies, but I prefer to think there’s a more telling story in there somewhere. Not, though, that I have any real idea what it is.

(Spotted via BoingBoing)

Posted in COVID-19 | 1 Comment

The Evil that is Rick Scott

…continues to bedevil Florida even after he bought his Senate seat: Rick Scott’s $78 million unemployment website was designed to fail, but that’s not the worst of it.

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Broweird Indeed

Broward Judge Corey Amanda Cawthon (lower left) holds court over Zoom. No bathing suits in sight. (Image provided by Florida Supreme Court.)

It seems that Broward Circuit Judge Dennis Bailey has felt a need to admonish local counsel:

One comment that needs sharing and that is the judges would appreciate it if the lawyers and their clients keep in mind these Zoom hearings are just that: hearings. They are not casual phone conversations. It is remarkable how many ATTORNEYS appear inappropriately on camera. We’ve seen many lawyers in casual shirts and blouses, with no concern for ill-grooming, in bedrooms with the master bed in the background, etc. One male lawyer appeared shirtless and one female attorney appeared still in bed, still under the covers. And putting on a beach cover-up won’t cover up you’re poolside in a bathing suit. So, please, if you don’t mind, let’s treat court hearings as court hearings, whether Zooming or not.

It’s stuff like this that makes lawyers here in Miami-Dade County, which is just south of Broward but in a distant zeitgeist, a bit smug. (And yes, I still wear a bow tie for Zoom classes. And pants.)

Posted in Law: Practice | Leave a comment

Unvarnished Trump

Although the story is oddly absent from my domestic printed media, the Guardian pulls no punches in describing yesterday’s public Presidential meltdown:

A toddler threw a self-pitying tantrum on live television on Monday night. Unfortunately he was 73 years old, wearing a long red tie and running the world’s most powerful country.

Donald Trump, starved of campaign rallies, Mar-a-Lago weekends and golf, and goaded by a bombshell newspaper report, couldn’t take it any more. Years of accreted grievance and resentment towards the media came gushing out in a torrent. He ranted, he raved, he melted down and he blew up the internet with one of the most jaw-dropping performances of his presidency.

This was, as he likes to put it, “a 10”.

Trump’s Easter had evidently been ruined by a damning 5,500-word New York Times investigation showing that Trump squandered precious time in January and February as numerous government figures were sounding the alarm about the coronavirus.

With more than 23,000 American lives lost in such circumstances, some presidents might now be considering resignation. Not Trump. He arrived in the west wing briefing room determined to tell the world, or at least his base, that he was not to blame. Instead it was a new and bloody phase of his war against the “enemy of the people”: the media. Families grieving loved ones lost to the virus were in for cold comfort here.

Even conservative bloggers understand how bad it was. Here’s Steve Berman, of The Resurgant,

Monday’s coronavirus press conference was a total disaster. It was a train wreck, launch failure, explosion of stupid. “Everything we did was right,” Trump said, straight faced, one day after Dr. Anthony Fauci admitted on CNN that no, not everything we did was right.

And this schoolyard exchange with CBS News’ Paula Reid:

But worst, is this gaffe. When asked what authority the president has to open the nation, when state governors are already forming coalitions, Trump responded, “I have the ultimate authority.”

This straightforward answer exposes many of Trump’s worst instincts, and his total misunderstanding of his role as POTUS. All of Trump’s talk about working with governors belies his true belief that he alone has the authority.

Of course, if all you read was the NY Times, you’d never know the nation just witnessed a train wreck. All they have is a sober news analysis which leads as follows:

The president’s insistence that only he can decide if the country should reopen for business was disputed by constitutional scholars and contrasted with his earlier message that it was not for the federal government to take the lead in fighting the virus.

It is an important point that needed making, but it hardly seems the whole story.

Posted in COVID-19, The Media, The Scandals | 1 Comment

Mental Whiplash (Oil Cartel Edition)

I remember when the major casualties of the OPEC oil cartel were Japan, the US, and Europe. I remember the oil shock, aka the oil crisis of 1973. I’m still stuck in a world in which higher oil prices are not in the short-term interests of the average US consumer, although given the effects on global warming and the need to transition away from carbon fuels, I understand that the longer-term picture is much more complicated.

Still, it creates mental whiplash when I read that the head of the US Government, some guy by the name of Donald Trump, just brokered a deal with the Saudis and the Russians, two of his favorite autocrats, to lower oil production by almost 10% in order to raise oil prices. Of course this also helps out his over-leveraged buddies in the US fracking business. It isn’t, I’m quite sure, motivated by concern for the environment.

The next election can’t come too soon.

Posted in Econ & Money, Politics: International | Leave a comment

‘Contact Tracing in the Real World’

Excellent essay by Ross Anderson on Contact Tracing in the Real World, especially apposite in light of a number of government and private tracker apps being floated and even implemented.

Posted in COVID-19, Cryptography, Law: Privacy | 1 Comment