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The official US policy from the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 to early 2009 was that Russia was a friend. Russia was an ally in the war against Islamic extremism. Russia was a trusted partner in multiple ventures, including the International Space Station.

Note that none of this was ever reciprocated by Russia. Russia continued treating the United States, and the West as a whole, as if the West was out to get them. Russian paranoia would not allow them to be good citizens in the world economy. Instead the Russian oligarchs huddled over their piles of looted Soviet wealth like dragons upon piles of gold, glaring at the West as if the West wanted to steal their gold. That didn’t stop the continuous outreach by the West though. If we were just friendly enough, it was thought, eventually Russia would come around and be willing to join us in the great experiment of modern civilization.

Then 2009 happened.

What changed in 2009? Well: In late 2008 Russia invaded Georgia in a clear act of naked militaristic aggression. It became clear at that point that Russia was a militaristic expansionist nation with the goal of annexing parts of its neighbors via blunt military force. This blatant 19th century colonialist war of conquest was directly in contrast to the great experiment of modern civilization that was taking place in most of the rest of the world.

At that point, Russia started looking less like a potential friend and ally, and more like someone we’d need to fight a war with eventually. And things changed. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea in 2014 was the last straw for most of the world.

Russia’s current bad relations with the West aren’t the fault of the West. They are the fault of a paranoid, aggressive Russia that is stuck in 19th century thinking and refuses to join modern civilization, which it sneers at as “weak”.

That is all.

— Badtux the Geopolitics Penguin

Why Twitter is doomed

So I have been watching the resignation notices for people leaving Twitter. Basically, it looks like all of the developers other than those on immigration visas are leaving. I see a lot of familiar names there, people who are experts in scalability who have published papers on how to scale things, experts in Internet protocols whose names are on IETF RFC’s, experts in algorithmic complexity with journal papers, and then just the average everyday Joes who keep the lights on. And I think: Twitter is going to crash.

Oh, not right now. See, here’s the thing. Everything at Twitter is massively redundant. There’s three or four copies of every tweet geographically distributed across multiple data centers. There’s dozens of circuits and routers into each data center. There’s two electrical circuits and two power distribution units into every rack. And so on and so forth. But:

Things break. Routers fry or lose their mind. Disk drives die. Switches quit switching. Hypervisors quit hypervising. The breaker blows on a PDU because it’s gotten old or hot and no longer will carry the load. Someone has to go in and fix these things as they happen. Sure, there’s redundancy. There’s other disks with copies of data. There’s other routers. There’s other circuits. There’s other servers with hypervisors on them. But as racks start going dark because nobody fixed things, the service slows down. Eventually the spare resources for redundancy run out. Then something goes out… and there’s nothing redundant to pick it up. Something crashes.

And if it’s an important part of Twitter like the globally distributed data store master index, Twitter might never come back up. 

I’m not sure how to describe this to non-technical people, but basically, consider it like the master index for all of Twitter (that’s not exactly how it works, but close enough). This is replicated in RAM caches worldwide. And if you crash it, it’s possible to rebuild it by scanning the actual key-value store for the tweets… but the people who know how to do that have gone out the door, along with the Joes and Janets who know how to fix the hardware. Maybe Mahesh and Yang here on H1B visas and thus unable to leave Twitter can reverse engineer it and over the course of a week or two figure out how to rebuild the indexes. But by that time the advertisers have turned off the money spigots, the users have fled to Reddit or Instagram, and Twitter has gone the way of MySpace.

At this point, I don’t know of any way that Twitter avoids that fate. Maybe Musk could go hat in hand and hire back some of the talent he just drove away. But I don’t think they’ll come back. Most worked at Twitter because they wanted to work at Twitter, not because they have to work at Twitter. Many of the people who know the most about the deep dark innards of Twitter made a fortune on the Twitter IPO and have no need to work anymore. And they’re likely to give Musk the finger.

The wildcard in all this is the bankers. Musk didn’t fund the purchase of Twitter with his own money. He borrowed money, or got other investors to come in on it. And those people are going to be *pissed* when Twitter crashes. Will they fire Musk and try to mend fences themselves with the people necessary to get Twitter back up and going? Or did Musk put enough poison pills in the contracts to keep that from happening.

Either way, Twitter is still dead. The contract stuff just determines who gets sued over it, and whether Twitter *stays* dead after it crashes that first time.

So it goes. I’m just gonna stock up on the popcorn and make bets about whether Twitter lasts longer than this lettuce:

— Badtux the Tech Nerd Penguin

twitter-lettuce-meme

Reminder: There is no medical evidence that human life exists before the third trimester of pregnancy. A fetus prior to that time has no ability to exist independently of their mother, fails every common test of brain activity, and otherwise flunks every medical test of “human” versus “not human”.

Saying “life begins at conception” is not a medical observation. It is a religious observation. Under the 1st Amendment, we’re not supposed to be legislating religion into law. But the current right-wing jihadists who run the U.S. Supreme Court only care about one amendment of the Bill of Rights — the 2nd Amendment — and that’s because they don’t care about the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or rule of law in general, they care about making sure that their fellow right-wing jihadists are well armed so that they can seize power at gunpoint if the population decides they aren’t going to be ruled by the Christian Taliban’s right-wing jihadists.

Look, I can respect your heartfelt religious belief that life begins at conception. But when you want your religious belief to be written into law, you are *WRONG*. The Constitution says you’re wrong, and if you spit on the Constitution, you aren’t a real American.

And what that says about the right wing Christian Taliban jihadists on the U.S. Supreme Court…

— Badtux the 1st Amendment Penguin

Legitimacy.

It is what a government has when it largely represents the will of the majority of its people. Not the will of a small minority. And not imposing tyranny on that small minority either, it respects and protects the rights of that small minority. But we have a word for when a small minority rules the majority — that word is *tyranny* — and tyrannies are always illegitimate.

In the case of courts in English-speaking countries, they maintain their legitimacy via what’s known as “stare decisis”. That is, they based their opinions in court cases based upon a) current law, and b) previous opinions. This is not a new principle. It is one reason, for example, why the Catholic Church moves so slow — they have 1,500 years of precedents for papal opinions, and if a papal opinion doesn’t comply with that 1,500 years of precedent it can make only a tiny move towards a new position at a time, it can’t just throw out the old position altogether.

Stare decisis was the basis for the Supreme Court’s decisions for the past 150 years. Each new decision was couched in the language of previous decisions, or in the plain language of the law itself. This has at times caused issues when the Court recognized rights that were not currently respected, such as the right of black people to attend the same schools as white people, but even there the opinion was couched in Equal Protection language from prior court decisions. The Supreme Court didn’t come roaring out of 1945 intent upon guaranteeing equal rights to black people and simply ruling that black people had equal rights, it built decision after decision upon prior decision. When it decided “separate but equal is inherently unequal” it did not pull the decision out of its butt, it relied on 50 years of data showing that “separate but equal” never was plus language from previous Equal Protection court decisions showing that if the school segregation law was not treating citizens equally, it could not be law.

In this fashion the Supreme Court has typically been an anchor preventing radical change while providing for preservation of rights. The Court has at times gone off into evil territory — Dred Scott and Plessy v. Ferguson come to mind — but eventually through applying the Constitution to court case after court case managed via stare decisis to come back from the dark side. Stare decisis gave legitimacy to the Court’s opinions and thus legitimacy to the notion of rule of law. And rule of law is important, because without rule of law, what you have is rule of gun, and rule of gun always ends up with the most ruthless and most murderous in charge.

Which is why it’s utter disaster for the United States that last week the Supreme Court basically threw stare decisis into the toilet in favor of a radical coup that remade American law from scratch based upon the ideological notions of the judges. By throwing out stare decisis in favor of imposing their ideology upon the nation, the Supreme Court has basically killed any legitimacy that it had. The Supreme Court fundamentally committed a right wing coup of the U.S. government last week, a coup setting five authoritarians in charge of the nation, and killing any respect that the majority of Americans have for the court.

Why is that important? It’s important because the Supreme Court relies upon other branches of government to do its work. The Supreme Court did not enforce the desegregation of Little Rock High School. The 101st Airborne did, via the intervention of the executive branch. So the Supreme Court ruled that New York’s concealed weapon law was illegal. New York’s concealed weapon law is very popular in New York State. What is the Supreme Court going to do when New York says f**k you, we’re going to continue enforcing our concealed weapon law? Joe Biden isn’t going to dispatch the 101st Airborne to free people imprisoned for violating New York’s concealed weapon law.

For those of you who have been in the military, there is an important and fundamental principle taught to every officer: Never issue a command that you know is going to be disobeyed. It destroys your legitimacy as an officer and makes it more likely that future commands are going to be disobeyed. This is what last week’s Supreme Court did — they issued a command that they know is going to be disobeyed. They issued that command because they *know* that it’s going to be disobeyed. The Supreme Court knowingly destroyed its own legitimacy. Why? Simple — the Supreme Court in the past has been a major defender of rights for minorities in America. By deliberately destroying the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, the right wing is betting that they via rule of gun can then take away rights from minorities that were previously granted by the Supreme Court.

In short, last week’s Supreme Court deliberately destroyed its own legitimacy in hopes that rule of gun rather than rule of law will become the norm in the United States. The right wing believes that because they are the most ruthless and most murderous people in America, they will come out on top when rule of law collapses because the judicial system has lost all legitimacy. Last week’s Supreme Court decisions weren’t an accidental destruction of the Court’s legitimacy — they were a deliberate destruction by people who want to burn it all down. And if you are not a white male Christian with conservative beliefs, you should be very, very worried right now.

— Badtux the “Time to get well armed, people” Penguin
I wonder how many people who are out tonight, protesting the end of Roe, couldn’t bring themselves to vote for “the lesser of two evils” and rationalized their insane purity test by saying ”Roe is settled law”?

Now that Roe is gone, Clarence Thomas has his eye on Obergefell (same-sex marriage) and Griswold (access to contraceptives. Alito wants to revist Loving (interracial marriage) and Kelo (government seizing property through eminent domain to give to another for private development.

Several want to “modify” (in other words, overturn) Miranda, Escobedo, and Gideon, which provide safeguards for those accused of crimes.

SCOTUS also overturned New York’s concealed carry weapons law, effectively mandating that the whole country is a “must-issue” jurisdiction.

Women can say goodbye to what few rights they have remaining: FMLA, equal pay (such as it is), protection from domestic violence, obtaining credit without a male co-signer, etc.
Racial and ethnic minorities can say goodbye to all of their rights as well.

Jews, Muslims, and other non-“christians” will once again be targeted by vengeful Talibangelicals.
Fundamentalist voodoo will replace science and drive our children’s education.

All those pesky environmental and occupational safety regulations standing in the way of increased corporate profits will be swept away.

A free press, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly will be eliminated in the name of “national security.”

Health care will be available only to the wealthy, after Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are abolished as “wasteful entitlements.”

And this will be the status quo for the rest of our lives, because SCOTUS is a guaranteed lifetime job . Barrett and Kavanaugh are in their fifties: they’ll be there for the next 30 years.

Make no mistake about it: the GQP is bringing us to a theocracy that makes Iran under the Ayatollahs look benign.

Still think they were “both the same”?

Was it worth it? Was your demand for political perfection worth losing America as we knew her? Is your conscience still clear, now that your refusal to vote for the lesser of two evils brought us the far greater evil? An evil that will last for decades, if not longer?

I hope you “conscience voters” are satisfied.

This is on you. You did this. Your arrogant naïveté, your refusal to “compromise” your “principles,” your abject failure to see the world as it was, elected trump, even moreso than the racists and misguided idiots who voted for him.

I hope you’re really some Goddamned proud of yourselves tonight.

Go out and hold your candlelight vigials, sing “We Shall Overcome,” and… BASK IN THE KNOWLEDGE THAT THIS IS ** YOUR** FAULT.

It’s that day where the right wing always freaks out about people celebrating their Mexican heritage. Strangely enough, they never freak out about people celebrating their Irish heritage on St. Patrick’s Day. Nothing to do with skin color I’m sure. [/s]

  • Badtux the Snarky Penguin
Why do I despise Elon Musk? Let me count the ways:
Musk’s attitude towards laws is that laws are for the little people to follow, not for lords of the universe like him. He is quick to support law and order when it’s little people committing crimes, but he is Nixonian — “It isn’t a crime if a rich person does it.” For example, when the public health department of Alameda County ordered all businesses in the county to shut down for two weeks at the start of COVID to stop the spread of COVID, Musk refused to obey the state law giving her that power. And he has repeatedly manipulated Tesla etc. stock for his profit and then denying that he broke the law despite multiple SEC fines.
Musk runs the most racist car company in America, sued more times for racism in the past ten years than every other car company in America *combined*. Despite being a niche player with approximately 2.3% of the U.S. car market. And fish rot from the head, so that says something about Musk that makes him look… well, racist.
Musk also has little concern for the safety of his workers. Tesla has been fined by OSHA more than every other car company in America *combined*. The injury rate for Tesla’s factory in Fremont is greater than at any other auto factory in America. Again, the fish rots from the head. It’s part of his elitist attitude — “laws are for the little people, they should be glad to even have a job.”
Musk also is no friend of free speech. California has laws prohibiting retaliation against workers who speak out about illegal activities. Musk has repeatedly violated those laws by firing workers who complain publicly about working conditions or racism in his factory because free speech is for elitist scum like him, not for the peons. And when a reporter wrote about a botched introduction of a new Tesla model, Musk personally retaliated against that reporter by cancelling that reporter’s Tesla order. Because free speech is for rich people like him, not for the little people.
Basically, as far as I’m concerned Elon Musk is a grifter scam artist who managed to maneuver himself into control of several companies, take credit for their success, and use his showmanship skills to talk them up so that he can make a fortune from stock manipulation. He is the king of the pump and dump. He makes P.T. Barnum look like an amateur. There are many smart people who are responsible for Tesla becoming a successful niche manufacturer of luxury autombiles. Elon Musk’s total contribution to that success is scamming people into investing in Tesla back in the early days when it wasn’t clear that Tesla was ever going to make a profit. That’s an important contribution… but he didn’t “create” Tesla. Many, many people created Tesla, and Musk only provided one piece of the puzzle by scamming people into investing in Tesla when no sane person would have done so.
So anyhow. Tesla now has approximately 2.3% of the U.S. car market, so they’re still a niche player in the car market. Elon Musk did not somehow “fundamentally change the car market in America.” Claiming to have done so — and many other hyperbolic anti-factual claims of that sort — are another reason I despise Elon Musk.
I don’t despise Elon Musk because he’s rich. I don’t despise Elon Musk because his companies threaten established industry players. I despise Elon Musk because he is racist elitist scum. As established above.
That is all.
– Badtux the Scum-despising Penguin

Can you sue God?

Would it be possible to sue God?
The first issue would be finding a court with jurisdiction. God is domiciled in Heaven, which is not within the direct jurisdiction of any earthly court.
That in and of itself would tend to say no, you cannot sue God. But wait! Like Amazon, God has facilities like, *everywhere*! All these churches, each of which claim to be the House of God and claim that they are Doing God’s Work, clearly establish relevant jurisdiction in the state of California.
And if you say, “well, those churches aren’t *directly* owned by God”, there’s still the fact that God performs actions in the state of California. Just ask any insurance company. A tree falls over onto your car? Act of God! A tornado rips through your hometown? Act of God! Generally, if someone comes into the state of California and harms me, the State of California is an appropriate venue for a lawsuit against that person. If an Act of God happens to me, clearly I have the right to sue God!
This leads to the last problem with suing God: Providing proof of service to the court in order to allow the lawsuit to proceed. And at this point, your lawsuit runs into an impenetrable roadblock: Nobody has ever returned from Heaven, and since God lives in Heaven, returning from Heaven is necessary in order to provide proof of service. Well, one guy came back, but He went back and He is not available for use as a service processor. If you cannot provide proof of service to the court, the lawsuit cannot proceed.
At that point, your lawsuit enters a limbo state awaiting proof of service. One year after filing, after you fail to provide proof of service of a summons upon God, your lawsuit is automatically dismissed.
And that little roadblock — nobody returning from Heaven — is why you cannot sue God. Even if God wasn’t imaginary, He simply can’t be served with a court summons due to that whole one-way-trip thing when it comes to Heaven, and thus He is beyond the jurisdiction of any earthly court.
— Badtux the Legal Penguin
Artwork by Sergey Grechanyuk.
There is an idiotic Libertarian saying, “democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what’s for dinner”. But there’s a whole lot more sheep than wolves. Around 7 million sheep in America, and 4500 wolves.
 
The reality is that there are *always* more sheep than wolves. That’s how predator-prey relationships work. Democracy is where the prey (sheep) vote that the wolf gets to eat grass. Unless the wolf gets them to vote to put sheep on the menu, it ain’t on the menu.
 
Now, the wolf whines that it’s tyranny that the sheep won’t put sheep on the lunch menu. He has a right, a right he says, to eat sheep. Which is why the predator is *always* against democracy. 1000 sheep and 1 wolf voting the dinner menu never works out well for the wolf.

Libertarians know this. But they think they are predators, so if they get to be in charge, they’ll have sheep for dinner. But of course they’re not predators. They’re deluded fanboy wannabes who have read too much bad fiction posing as “truth”, and if a predator ever comes to power, they’re going to be first on the dinner menu.

— Badtux the Realist Penguin