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Archive for the ‘corporate thugs’ Category

The guiding law regarding ownership of beaches in California is the California Constitution,, which prohibits ownership of beaches and tidelands (defined as either the high water mark or the start of vegetation, depending upon which is higher). In other words, you can’t own a beach in California, regardless of what Vinod the Vile insists.

The guiding law regarding access to beaches is the California Coastal Act of 1976. This Act was intended to protect access to the coast by maintaining, at a minimum, the amount of access that was available in 1976. The Coastal Act created a new kind of property, access rights, which are created either by use in 1976 or by signing over access rights afterwards. Access rights are similar to the concept of a right-of-way, where an entity has the right to pass through a property on a specified corridor in order to perform some public good such as, say, provide and maintain electrical lines. In the case of coastal access rights, the entity in question is the general public of the State of California, and the public good provided is the beach.

Access rights can be total, conditional, or none, based on what the situation was in 1976. The Coastal Commission was required to inventory and document by the end of 1981 access to all of the beaches of California. Once inventoried, landowners had to maintain the level of access that was provided at that point. If they provided no access, they could continue providing no access or they could voluntarily sell a right-of-way to the State if they so desired. If they provided conditional access, they had to continue providing conditional access under the exact same terms as when the Act was passed, and were required to get a permit if they wanted to change the amount of access they provided in any way. And if they provided full access… well, same deal. They had to continue doing so, and again, would have to get a permit if they wanted to change the amount of access they provided in any way.

The Act doesn’t require the Coastal Commission to grant a permit. Indeed, the Coastal Commission can deny a permit if a) it would reduce access to the beach, and b) there is no documented ecological or environmental reason or documented public safety reason for reducing access to the beach. The Act calls for maximizing access to the beach, thus is crafted such as to deny permits that would reduce access unless there is an ecological or documented public safety reason for denying access to the beach. (A bunch of unexploded artillery shells due to use as a USMC artillery firing range prior to the passage of the Act would qualify as a public safety reason, for example). The Coastal Commission cannot, however, require a landowner to provide more access than was provided in 1976 without compensating them for that access. That’s the law — the Coastal Commission cannot simply take access rights away from landowners and grant them to the general public, they can only maintain existing access rights and must buy any additional access rights that the public wants.

So anyhow, this is the law in California — it basically freezes access at 1976 levels, and requires the State to pay if it wants to require a landowner to provide more access than at 1976, and basically prohibits a landowner from taking away access that existed in 1976. In 1976, Martins Beach was open to the public. They could walk down the Martins Beach Road from the pavement for free, or they could pay a gate-keeper a small sum of money to drive down Martins Beach Road and park at a parking lot near the beach. When Vinod Khosla bought the land surrounding Martins Beach in 2008, he was warned that he had to maintain this access at the same level as 1976. He did so for two years, then decided he didn’t want to view any of the little people anymore, and locked the gate and put armed guards to keep people out — despite the requirements of the Coastal Act.

So here we are in 2018. The California Legislature passed a law in 2014 reiterating that Martins Beach is public property and that the access rights grandfathered in 1976 continues to exist. The California Court of Appeals affirmed that law, and the California Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal because the law is pretty much cut and dried. Khosla continues to try to prevent access but is handicapped in that because the local Sheriff says he won’t respond to trespassing calls because the surfers who jump the gate and go down to the beach to surf have a legal right to do so. Khosla could probably hire beefy security guards to attack surfers, but the surfers aren’t exactly shrinking violets and the security guards would have to assault the surfers in order to prevent them from continuing down the right of way granted by the 1976 Act, at which point the surfers would defend themselves and beat the crap out of the security guards. Needless to say, security companies are not falling over themselves to have their security guards beat up and charged with assault on a public right-of-way.

So what’s a billionaire oligarch to do when all the courts in the state of California refuse to be bought by his billions? Well… Vinod the Vile knows what to do: Take it to the U.S. Supreme Court. He figures that the Supreme Court got bought by the election of 2016, so he can get his way there.

Will it work? We’ll see. On the other hand, the current status quo, where Vinod can’t call the sheriff to get people thrown out for trespassing and security companies are reluctant to get involved for fear of being charged with assault or having their guards beat up, means that whatever the U.S. Supreme Court decides will be mostly irrelevant. Vinod the Vile will continue to have to watch the “little people” use “his” beach — and will continue to be able to do nothing at all about it.

– Badtux the Beach Penguin
Note: My personal experience with Vinod the Vile dates back to fourteen years ago, when he was the lead investor in our startup and decided to use the company as his personal playtoy to prove out some bizarre theories of his. I left in disgust after three years and the company folded shortly afterwards after he managed to asset-strip it for his own benefit, managing to get four times more money out of it than he invested in the first place by stealing the money from the other investors with bogus loans and other means. Don’t ever, EVER go to work for a company whose lead investor is Vinod the Vile, and don’t *ever* approach him for investment. He will rape you, clear and simple. That’s what he *does*.

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So: Comcast disconnected *my* cable drop and connected it to my *neighbor’s* drop because their technician apparently decided that the cable drop to my half of the building was just random abandoned wiring. And Comcast’s response to this for *three days straight* was to lie and say they were sending a technician out, when they never did nor had any intentions of doing so.

The resolution:

I went to Harbor Freight and bought this cable tracker:

WarbleWarbleWarbleWarble!

I already knew that my cable modem was receiving no signal, so I attached the alligator clips to the cable at my cable modem, and tracked the cable into the attic, and saw that it headed up to the front of the house, as I presumed based on the last time the cable guy came out. I then walked out my front door, and identified the exact cable.

The next part was a bit iffier. There were three cables there. One had no connector on it and appeared to go up to the attic. I decided to go up to the attic and look at the other cables there, and attached the warbler to one that looked like it might go to the front of the house. It hooked to a splitter. I attached the warbler to the cables that entered the splitter, and they went to the jacks in the back bedrooms of my house. I attached to the cable that went forward from the splitter, and it was the cable dangling on the front wall of the building with no connector on it.

So that wasn’t the cable I needed to hook up to. I checked each of the two other cables dangling on the wall *with* a connector by simply hooking them to the cable I’d identified as mine, and then waiting for my cable modem to detect signal on them. No signal. Or at least not one that my cable modem understood. I think one went to a satellite dish. My cable modem obviously doesn’t understand satellite signals.

So it had to be the one that was hooked up and going into the neighbor’s living room through the wall. Yep, the cable guy unplugged *MY* cable and plugged it into my *NEIGHBOR’S* wire!

One splitter later, and I’m back in business.

BTW, I did knock on the neighbor’s door to let them know I was about to unplug their cable for a minute to put the splitter. I got no answer, so clearly they weren’t in the living room using the cable. So I shrugged and put the splitter there. This is in their yard, the old lady of the house has all sorts of greenery there. I used to have more greenery on my side but I ripped most of it out because it was impinging on my jade plants.

Tomorrow I figure I’ll put a sign on my cable — XX50 XXXXX Street Do Not Disconnect”. I’ll put it in a zip-lok bag and use Guerilla Tape to tape it to the cable. I’ll also do the same to the cable drop that goes to the back of XX48 (it’s the cable drop for our entire building) so that they won’t disconnect my cable when the neighbor moves out, like they did once before when the previous neighbor moved out. Maybe that’ll keep the cable guys from disconnecting me again the next time they go to XX48 XXXXX Street to fiddle with the cable. We’ll see….

Meanwhile, a Comcast rep *finally* called me today and said, “do I need to send a technician out there?” I replied “No, I needed the technician two days ago, I already fixed your wiring goofup” and basically gave the story above.

So it goes.

– Badtux the “Comcast Sucks!” Penguin

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Libertarians who say we don’t need government police, intelligence agencies, etc. because private enterprise can do all of that forget that their proposal was the norm for the United States until after WW2. The reason why we quit doing that is that we learned that the private police and intelligence agencies were corrupt and selling their services on behalf of the highest bidder even if the highest bidder was asking them to violate the law, and in the process were harming innocents with no recourse.

Equifax is a perfect example of that. Equifax started out as sort of a private Stasi intelligence agency, gathering files of dubious integrity on people via various means both legal and illegal and selling them to the highest bidder with no regard for privacy or accuracy. If you wanted to make sure you weren’t about to rent an apartment to a gay or an atheist or a Communist, you paid Equifax to find out whether the renter was one of those things, and Equifax in turn paid your neighbors to inform on you, just like the Stasi did. And if a neighbor you had a feud with decided to tell them you were a Communist even if you weren’t, well, you had no way of knowing that this was why you couldn’t get anybody to rent to you, and no right to see what information they had on file on you and correct it.

It wasn’t Utopia, regardless of what the libertarians whine about, and that’s why the credit reporting agencies are regulated now and only allowed to collect financial information, not information about your politics or sexuality or religion or whatever, and why they’re required to give you access to your file and required to correct information if it’s incorrect (though you may have to sue them in some cases). Libertopia just *doesn’t work*. Invariably it ends up with corruption, thuggery, and fraud. The fact that corruption, thuggery, and fraud might work better than the former government of Somalia is not a rousing statement. Giardia is preferable to cholera too. But you don’t see me running out to contract giardia…

— Badtux the Non-libertarian Penguin

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So: NBC doesn’t own the trademarked name “Amazing Stories”. But they’re planning to introduce a show by that name. Without paying the guy who *does* own that trademark. And threatening to sue that guy if he doesn’t license the name to them under a contract where they haven’t met their own side of the contract by paying him.

Yeah, they’re willing to spend a million dollars per episode to produce the program, but not $40,000 per year to buy rights to use the name.

Evil, evil SOB’s.

– Badtux the “Fuck those fuckheads” Penguin

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So apparently according to Facebook, this stop motion art film from 1878, the first known movie recording ever made and thus of immense historical value, is pornography because some of the men and women were not wearing clothes when Eadweard Muybridge did the stop-motion photography to capture their motion. Note that there is no sex in the “film” — this was Victorian times, after all. Muybridge’s sole goal was to capture motion — of people, of horses, of machines — which was something that nobody had ever done before. He then mounted his photos in a circular carousel that spun them past an eyepiece so it looked like the subjects were moving. He thus invented motion pictures.

This YouTube video basically takes his plates and puts them together into frames of a movie the way he did with his carousel, except now they’re all stitched together. And Facebook thinks this collection of historical photographs that were designed to be stitched together into primitive looping movies is pornography. What a bunch of dimwits. Can’t tell the difference between a historical art film of immense historical value, and pornography. Yay, Facebook. You’re a bunch of morons.

– Badtux the Arts Penguin

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And they kicked a blind woman and her guide dog off a plane because they didn’t want to re-seat her to someplace where her dog could sit on the floor in front of her. Despite the fact that the Americans with Disabilities Act says they have to accomodate her and re-seat her if a seat can be found.

But they’re American Airlines, which has a long history of violating the law regarding service dogs. They regularly harass and bully people and claim impunity. They have even continued this conduct after signing a consent decree saying they wouldn’t do it anymore.

This is, of course, a blatant violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but they don’t care about the law, because they don’t have to — a federal government that is 100% owned by big corporations is refusing to enforce the law against said big corporations.

So in short, American Airlines is a criminal enterprise that refuses to obey the law, and the government refuses to enforce the law against it. That’s the sort of situation that leads to massive lawsuits or, if lawsuits have been barred by law, eventually leads to violent revolution. And violent revolution never ends up well for the country that does it. I can’t remember one that turned out well, whether it was the Russian Revolution that put the Communists in charge, or the Egyptian Revolution that put the Islamists then the Army in charge, all that happens is that the most violent win and then impose their will upon the rest of the people at gunpoint.

— Badtux the “These people are criminals” Penguin

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The United States has not been #1 in healthcare for decades now, but now the US healthcare system is looking perilously like a Communist health care system — there are now massive shortages of critical drugs everywhere in the system and widespread rationing. This is a system on the verge of collapse, not a system to be maintained or emulated.

How did this situation arise? Well, first of all, put aside any notion that the drugs in question are difficult to make or have ingredients that are scarce. They aren’t. For the most part, they’re largely old drugs long out of patent protection that anybody has the right to manufacture. So why isn’t anybody manufacturing them? After all, that’s what economic theory says will happen if there are shortages and price hikes, right?

So let’s go back to when Pharma Bro raised the price of that old out-of-patent toxoplasmosis drug to $750 per pill. Why was he able to do that? As I pointed out then, it’s because the new model for the drug industry is to buy up all the competition and demolish their factories. He did that, and became the only company selling that drug. Then he could raise the price, create shortages, whatever, and if anybody dared try to compete with him, all he would have to do is drop the price of the drug back to $1/pill until the new competitor ran out of money and folded. Since the costs of the established incumbents were amortized long ago, basically all they have to pay is raw ingredients. They don’t have to amortize $150M for a new drug factory. At $1/pill with 50c profit per pill, it’d take over 60 years to amortize that — long beyond the investor event horizon.

Now, add in the fact that Big Pharma just doesn’t care about a lot of these older drugs. They aren’t very profitable, either because there are substitutes or because there’s just enough competition to keep them from doing a Pharma Bro and raising the price to $750 per pill. So if they need to make a batch of some other more profitable drug in that factory? Well, too bad about the shortage that results, but don’t worry, they’ll return the factory back to making that critical but not-profitable drug as soon as they finish making that batch of the new more profitable drug.

So the question is, what do we do about this? India perhaps has a useful model. They had the same problem, because they cannot afford to pay full asking price for drugs, so they’re always at the end of the line when there are shortages. For drugs that Big Pharma won’t manufacture reliably because they’re not profitable enough, or that Big Pharma tries to do a Pharma Bro on and create an artificial shortage and $750/pill, India has their own state-run pharmaceuticals manufacturing facilities that will churn out those old drugs in mass quantities for cheap. For newer drugs they will force companies to license those drugs to Indian drug manufacturers if there are shortages, and if the company refuses to license the drug, India will cancel the patent on the drug and simply let anybody in the country make the drug.

It’s amazing that a chaotic corrupt state like India can manage to get this right, but the so-called Greatest Nation On Earth(tm) cannot. But then, the level of corruption here in the United States has risen to a level that would astound the average Indian. Oh sure, we don’t have to bribe driver’s license clerks in order to get our driver’s license issued, like is the case in India, but our lawmakers? Bribed to an extent that Indian lawmakers can only imagine in their fondest fantasies. As long as Big Pharma is capable of bribing our legislators without repercussions, critical medicines will continue to be in short supply and rationed here in the United States just like in all other 3rd world countries on this planet, and people will die unnecessarily for lack of critical drugs — and Big Pharma will just shrug and say, “so?”. Because anybody who cared about actual people, rather than profit, has long since retired from those companies, and so they’re now effectively being run by cold blooded lizard people from planet Sociopath, who view human beings as prey, not fellow travellers. So it goes, in the so-called “Greatest nation on Earth”.

– Badtux the Lizard-scryin’ Penguin

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