5-4-3-2-1: Robinhood’s Reputation Drops Along With the Number of Shares They Let Users Buy ★
Mitchell Clark, writing for The Verge:
Robinhood only wants users to have a limited number of shares of
companies like GameStop, and that number keeps getting smaller and
smaller. On Thursday, the company halted users’ ability to buy
stocks that were associated with r/WallStreetBets, including
GameStop, AMC, and Nokia, but the company promised that users
would be able to buy limited quantities on Friday. Today, it
released a shifting support document that details just how
limited things are — and to slightly paraphrase Lando, the deal’s
getting worse all the time.
When trading opened earlier today, users were limited to owning
five shares of GameStop in aggregate, meaning they could only own
up to five — if they already had three GameStop stocks, they
could only buy two more — but even that restriction hasn’t
lasted. Soon, the number of shares you could buy in GME dropped to
two and then finally down to a single share. That’s right: you
couldn’t buy more than one.
One share. At least the stock that so many Robinhood users wanted to buy only went up 70 percent today, so I’m sure no one is angry.
Robinhood’s old slogan: “Let the people trade.”
New slogan: “Play with us at the kiddie table.”
‘Meme Stock’ Rally Rescues AMC Theaters From $600M Debt ★
Owen S. Good, writing for Polygon:
Just Monday, AMC was warning investors that “there is substantial
doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern.” The
reason is obvious: the COVID-19 pandemic has savaged the movie
theater business, and the broader stimulus, payroll, and recovery
actions by the U.S. government have done little to prop it up.
Wiping out more than half-a-billion dollars in debt, though,
should take a lot of pressure off AMC in the short term. “A week
ago, it was not crazy to think this company was doomed,”
Bloomberg’s Matt Levine wrote on Thursday. “Now it is
entirely possible that it will survive and thrive and show movies
in movie theaters for decades to come because everyone went nuts
and bought meme stocks this week.”
What a week.
Hover Text on MacOS ★
Cool MacOS accessibility feature I did not know about, from Sommer Panage:
One of my fave Mac #accessibility features: Hover Text. I have 2
displays; one is always harder for me to see, especially content
to the far right. Hover Text is an awesome and super lightweight
way to bring things into view! Find it in System Preferences →
Accessibility → Zoom
Turn this on, and when you press the Command key, whatever is under the mouse pointer gets a large text tooltip. Hover over a small button labeled “Foo” and the tooltip will show a big “Foo”. But it works for buttons and controls that don’t have text labels too, thanks to accessibility. So if you hover over the red close button in the top left corner of a window, the tooltip will say “Close”.
Dave DeLong points out that this feature could be very useful when screensharing too. Steven Aquino points out that there are options for font size, colors, and the modifier key that triggers it.
‘BlastDoor’: iMessage’s New Sandbox in iOS 14 and MacOS 11 ★
Catalin Cimpanu, writing for ZDNet Zero Day:
Named BlastDoor, this new iOS security feature was discovered by
Samuel Groß, a security researcher with Project Zero, a Google
security team tasked with finding vulnerabilities in commonly-used
While iOS ships with multiple sandbox mechanisms, BlastDoor is a
new addition that operates only at the level of the iMessage app.
Its role is to take incoming messages and unpack and process their
content inside a secure and isolated environment, where any
malicious code hidden inside a message can’t interact or harm the
underlying operating system or retrieve with user data.
The need for a service like BlastDoor had become obvious after
several security researchers had pointed out in the past that the
iMessage service was doing a poor job of sanitizing incoming user
data. Over the past three years, there had been multiple
instances where security researchers or real-world attackers
found iMessage remote code execution (RCE) bugs and abused these
issues to develop exploits that allowed them to take control over
an iPhone just by sending a simple text, photo, or video to
Samuel Groß’s report on Google’s Project Zero blog is chock full of technical details and analysis.
This is a big deal, and from what I understand, a major multi-year undertaking by the iMessage team. Cimpanu’s report makes it sound like it’s an iOS 14 feature, but it’s on MacOS 11, too — it’s an iMessage feature. The basic idea is that parsing untrusted input is always a potential source for bugs. Rather than whack-a-moling these bugs one-by-one as they’re discovered, BlastDoor puts the entire process of parsing input (the text of messages, any file attachments, or even just generating URL previews) into a very sturdy vault. Anything inside the vault has almost no file system access and no network access. Open the attachments inside the vault, and only then pass them on for display.
Very clever. It doesn’t just close a bunch of specific exploits, it should close an entire class of potential exploits. But it’s the sort of thing Apple can’t really announce or promote, so it’s nice to see the effort get some publicity.
Also: “BlastDoor” is a great name for this.
Huawei’s Losses Are Apple’s Gain in China ★
Catherine Shu, reporting for TechCrunch:
The impact of United States government sanctions on Huawei is
continuing to hurt the company and dampen overall smartphone
shipments in China, where it is the largest smartphone vendor,
according to a new report by Canalys. But Huawei’s decline
also opens new opportunities for its main rivals, including
Apple benefited from Huawei’s decline because the company’s Mate
series is the iPhone’s main rival in the high-end category, and
only 4 million Mate units were shipped in the fourth quarter.
Robinhood Needed Emergency $1 Billion Cash Injection, Yet Remains Underfunded ★
Kate Kelly, Erin Griffith, Andrew Ross Sorkin, and Nathaniel Popper, in a multi-byline report for the NYT:
On Thursday, Robinhood was forced to stop customers from buying a
number of stocks like GameStop that were heavily traded this week.
To continue operating, it drew on a line of credit from six banks
amounting to between $500 million and $600 million to meet higher
margin, or lending, requirements from its central clearing
facility for stock trades, known as the Depository Trust &
Robinhood still needed more cash quickly to ensure that it didn’t
have to place further limits on customer trading, said two people
briefed on the situation who insisted on remaining anonymous
because the negotiations were confidential.
Robinhood, which is privately held, contacted several of its
investors, including the venture capital firms Sequoia Capital and
Ribbit Capital, who came together on Thursday night to offer the
emergency funding, five people involved in the negotiations said.
Basically, Robinhood blew it by not being honest about this. They should have just come clean and explained that they were short of cash to cover all the action on these stocks. But because they were embarrassed to appear insolvent, they destroyed their ethical reputation instead. And now it’s come out that they were in over their heads financially anyway.
Even today, Robinhood is not even close to allowing users to trade GameStop freely. A friend with a Robinhood account was only able to buy five shares before getting an error message that he held the maximum number of shares. And when you sell GameStop on Robinhood, you can only sell at market price, not a limit order. It’s a complete clown show.
‘Best Quarter in the History of the Smartphone’ ★
Kif Leswing, CNBC:
Apple doesn’t provide unit sales for its products anymore, but
according to an estimate from research firm IDC, Apple shipped
90.1 million phones during the quarter. That’s the largest number
in any single quarter since IDC started tracking smartphones,
analyst Francisco Jeronimo said.
90 million total units — in one quarter — puts some context to reports that Apple has dialed back production of the iPhone 12 Mini by 2 million. Even if it’s true that Apple is ordering 2 million fewer 12 Minis than they originally projected (and I don’t believe any such reports — no little birdies I’ve ever spoken to have ever given any credence whatsoever to reports like that) the 12 Mini could easily be selling well enough to justify its continuing position in the lineup. Stay strong, Macalope.
Anyway, these strong sales for the iPhone 12 lineup call for some delicious claim chowder. Matt Krantz, Investors Business Daily, 14 October, “Apple’s New iPhone 12 Gets The Worst Reception Ever”:
Did you hear the thud during Apple’s new iPhone announcement? That
was the new iPhone 12 falling flat with S&P 500 investors.
I did not hear the thud.
iPhone Saw Strong Sales in China Last Quarter ★
Apple Inc on Wednesday reported holiday quarter sales and
profits that beat Wall Street expectations, as new 5G iPhones
helped push handset revenue to a new record and sparked a 57%
rise in China sales.
As my friend Ben Thompson has long theorized, the Chinese market might be particularly sensitive to new iPhone designs. Chinese buyers, the theory goes, want new iPhones that look like new iPhones, so that everyone knows they have the newest iPhone. So the iPhones 12 Pro scratched an itch in that regard that the 11 and XS models did not.
Hard to believe it was just two short years ago (I kid — last year alone was 10 years long) we were seeing (not entirely unreasonable) stories with headlines like “The iPhone Has Big Problems in China — and Across the Globe”.
Apple’s Q1 by the Numbers ★
Jason Snell’s usual roundup of charts illustrating Apple’s quarterly results. One thing that sticks out is that while Mac sales were up year-over-year, they were down slightly (4%) from the July–September quarter, which, on the surface, makes no sense. How could Mac sales go down during the quarter when Apple launched the M1 Macs — Macs that were universally acclaimed and which many users were waiting for?
The answer, seemingly, is that Macs were supply-constrained during the quarter. Apple couldn’t make them fast enough. (That’s a link to a tweet from the excellent MacJournals, who also observed that, adjusted for splits, AAPL shares 20 years ago were $0.30 per share.)
Update: Neil Cybart points out that the July–September quarter is always big for the Mac because it’s back-to-school season. That’s true — a glance at Snell’s chart shows that the Mac’s annual cycle has big quarters in July-September (back to school) and October-December (holiday). But most years the holiday quarter ekes ahead as the biggest of the year. It’s clear that the COVID pandemic, with students of all ages around the world preparing for school-at-home, resulted in an unusually large back-to-school boost for Mac sales.
Quite the Turnaround ★
Yahoo Finance story that ran not a month ago, not a week ago, but yesterday:
Robinhood, which is responsible for popularizing both
commission-free trades and fractional investing, has long had the
goal of democratizing investing. In an interview with Yahoo
Finance, CEO Vlad Tenev explained that the investing climate of
the past few days has illustrated a key problem in the world of
investing — inequity.
“Retail investors and individuals have felt like they’ve been
talked down to. Lots of them felt like they haven’t been taken
seriously,” he said. “There’s this term ‘sophisticated investor’
that’s been thrown around, so there’s an idea that they’re
“I think people are seeing now that [retail investors] now have
the ability to invest and they’re empowered,” Tenev said.
Yesterday: Robinhood customers are empowered.
Today: Robinhood customers can’t buy the stocks they want to buy.
I don’t see how Robinhood ever recovers from this reputation-wise. Who would ever trust them after this? Their slogan was literally “Let the people trade.” They’re already in legal trouble too.
Robinhood Shenanigans Draw the Ire of Congressional Democrats ★
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, linking to Motherboard’s story on Robinhood blocking its users from buying GameStop:
This is unacceptable.
We now need to know more about @RobinhoodApp’s decision to block
retail investors from purchasing stock while hedge funds are
freely able to trade the stock as they see fit.
As a member of the Financial Services Cmte, I’d support a hearing
Rep. Rashida Tlaib:
This is beyond absurd. @FSCDems need to have a hearing on
Robinhood’s market manipulation. They’re blocking the ability to
trade to protect Wall St. hedge funds, stealing millions of
dollars from their users to protect people who’ve used the stock
market as a casino for decades.
There might be bipartisan outrage in Congress targeting Robinhood’s actions, if this tweet from Ted Cruz is indicative. (Don’t miss AOC’s response.)
Robinhood Blocks Buying – but Not Selling – GameStop, AMC, and BlackBerry Stock ★
Chaim Gartenberg, writing for The Verge:
Robinhood has added new limits to its app to restrict users
from buying or trading any of the popular Reddit r/WallStreetBets
stocks, including GameStop ($GME), AMC ($AMC), BlackBerry ($BB),
Bed Bath & Beyond ($BBBY), Nokia ($NOK), and more. Users will
still be allowed to close out existing positions but won’t be able
to buy more of the stocks. The company is citing “recent
volatility” in the market as the reasoning behind the change.
The development is the latest in an ongoing saga that has
seen a group of Reddit users from the WallStreetBets subreddit
band together in an effort to drive up the stock prices of
companies like GameStop and BlackBerry, in defiance of traditional
hedge funds that had shorted those firms. Robinhood — a popular
stock market application that allows amateur day traders to
purchase those stocks without fees — has been a key tool in the
Reddit group’s ability to push prices up.
Preventing their users from buying — but not selling — a particular stock is bananas. It absolutely reeks of market manipulation.
The basic problem, as I understand it, is that Robinhood is beholden not to its users, but to hedge funds. Robinhood’s big hook to users is that they don’t charge any fees on trades. On the surface, that sounds like the classic First CityWide Change Bank SNL skit. But Robinhood does make money — just not from its retail customers. What they do is charge hedge funds for access to the firehose of Robinhood retail transactions, and these big traders have milliseconds of advance notice of trades, during which they can play arbitrage. Here’s a good thread on Twitter explaining it. Update: I’m not saying there’s anything fishy about no-fee brokerages. I’m only pointing out that they do make money on trades, just that when you look at how they do make money, you can see how they might have a conflict of interest.
So Robinhood doesn’t exist to make money from its users. They exist to allow hedge funds to make money by giving them access to what Robinhood retail users are buying and selling a fraction of a second in advance.
This whole GameStop mania is in large part driven by the fact that hedge funds are short on GameStop, and need GameStop’s bubble to pop now. I’m not saying Robinhood is trying to help hedge funds who shorted GameStop, but if they were trying to do that, the obvious way would be to do what they’re doing — disallow buying GameStop (et al.) but allow selling, to facilitate a sell-off panic. And Robinhood isn’t just any broker — they’re a favored broker of the WallStreetBets crowd,
with a remarkable 56 percent of Robinhood users owning some amount of GameStop stock. Update: Motherboard has since retracted this number, but there’s no question Robinhood is — well, was — incredibly popular with the WallStreetBets crowd.
Apple Q1 2021 Results: Record-Breaking Revenue and Profit ★
Apple today announced financial results for its fiscal 2021 first
quarter ended December 26, 2020. The Company posted all-time
record revenue of $111.4 billion, up 21 percent year over year,
and quarterly earnings per diluted share of $1.68, up 35 percent.
International sales accounted for 64 percent of the quarter’s
“Our December quarter business performance was fueled by
double-digit growth in each product category, which drove all-time
revenue records in each of our geographic segments and an all-time
high for our installed base of active devices,” said Luca Maestri,
Double-digit growth in every category. That’s the story. Apple’s no GameStop, but they have a nice little business selling phones, computers, and services.
‘GameStop Nihilism’ ★
There is, suffice to say, a lot to unpack here. Once again, the
real and virtual worlds are blurred beyond recognition.
“Jokerfied”, pandemic-bored redditors moving markets for the
lulz, or because they hate bankers and other “globalists”,
possibly making millions of dollars on a joke. GameStop’s stock
halted several times over the past few days given its
“bitcoin-like volatility”. On the one hand, that’s mildly
horrifying, on the other, it’s a more democratic, for lack of a
better word, form of what the hated bankers do to the world every
And there’s a through line that runs from r/wallstreetbets to
r/thedonald to Gamergate and 4chan. There’s a shared aesthetic
happening here but also a common worldview, the nihilism that
Levine talks about that comes from some combination of boredom,
lack of purpose (shared or individual), and a disintermediated,
hyperconnected network that brings together enough individual
sociopaths to create something that resembles a community.
I don’t see how anyone could prove it, or even try to prove it, but my gut feeling is that the timing of this WallStreetBets/GameStop escapade coming on the heels of the dissipation of QAnon/StopTheSteal collective madness is not coincidental. There’s a certain Fight Club-esque feel to it, too: just wanting to fuck with The Man. And, also, gambling is maddeningly good fun when it works in your favor.
WTF Is Up With GameStop’s Stock? ★
Jason Koebler, writing for Vice, has another good high-level explanation of just what the hell is going on:
What is going on is that GameStop, a company that sells physical
copies of video games next to Auntie Anne’s pretzel shops in dying
malls, is the most highly traded asset in the United States, a
“meme stock,” and currently the primary front in a micro class
war. GameStop’s stock price jumped from $4 last summer to $20 at
the end of 2020, to $40 two weeks ago. It was worth $100-ish at
times on Monday and Tuesday, and as I write this it is worth close
to $300. Essentially, many normal-ish people have made a huge bet
against gigantic financial institutions and are currently winning.
In practice this means we are seeing one of the largest wealth
transfers from the financial ruling class to the middle and
middle-upper classes in recent memory, so it is, understandably,
the only thing anyone is talking about.
‘The GameStop Game Never Stops’ ★
Matt Levine, writing two long days ago in his Money Stuff column for Bloomberg:
Here is a YOLO story, a story of utter nihilism. You know this
story. This story is perhaps best told with a series of rocket
emojis, but let’s try words instead. The people on the
WallStreetBets subreddit sometimes all get into a stock at once.
This is fun, a nice social outing in an age of social
distancing, a risky but potentially lucrative collective
entertainment. Recently they decided to do GameStop. Because, I
don’t know, they’re gamers, or because it’s a little comical to
pump the stock of a chain of mall video-game stores during a
pandemic, or because a lot of professional investors are short
GameStop and they thought it’d be funny to mess with them. Or,
especially, because their friends on Reddit were buying GameStop
and they figured they’d join in the fun. Or all of those things in
different combinations. Take one person who’s long for fundamental
reasons, add 100 people who are long for personal-amusement
reasons like “lol gaming” or “let’s mess with the shorts,” and
then add thousands more who are long because they see everyone
else long, and the stock moves.
As good an explanation of what the hell is going on with GameStop’s stock as you’ll find, I think.
iOS 14.4 Fixes Three Security Bugs That ‘May Have Been Actively Exploited’ by Hackers ★
Zack Whittaker, reporting for TechCrunch:
The technology giant said in its security update pages for iOS and iPadOS 14.4 that the three bugs affecting iPhones and iPads “may have been actively exploited.” Details of the vulnerabilities are scarce, and an Apple spokesperson declined to comment beyond what’s in the advisory.
It’s not known who is actively exploiting the vulnerabilities, or who might have fallen victim. Apple did not say if the attack was targeted against a small subset of users or if it was a wider attack. Apple granted anonymity to the individual who submitted the bug, the advisory said.
Two of the bugs were found in WebKit, the browser engine that powers the Safari browser, and the Kernel, the core of the operating system. Some successful exploits use sets of vulnerabilities chained together, rather than a single flaw. It’s not uncommon for attackers to first target vulnerabilities in a device’s browsers as a way to get access to the underlying operating system.
Bug fixes to close potential exploits aren’t uncommon, but the lack of details around these is a little curious.
Most Google Apps for iOS Still Have No Privacy ‘Nutrition’ Labels ★
Juli Clover, writing a week ago at MacRumors:
As of December 8, Apple has been requiring developers submitting
new apps and app updates to provide privacy label information that
outlines the data that each app collects from users when it is
installed. Many app developers, such as Facebook, have complied
and now include the privacy labels alongside their apps, but
there’s one notable outlier — Google.
Google has not updated its major apps like Gmail, Google
Maps, Chrome, and YouTube since December 7 or before, and most
Google apps have to date have not been updated with the Privacy
Label feature. […]
On January 5, Google told TechCrunch that the data would be
added to its iOS apps “this week or the next week,” but both this
week and the next week have come and gone with no update. It has
now been well over a month since Google last updated its apps.
One week later and still, none of Google’s flagship apps have privacy nutrition info. I don’t get it. Suck it up like Facebook did and put it out, no matter how bad it looks. And it’s not like Google was surprised by this requirement — Apple made it very clear at WWDC that this would be mandatory. They’ve had 7 months to prepare for this. What is going on here?
I’m curious too which other high-profile apps are out there that still haven’t submitted their privacy label information. If you spot any, let me know (send me an email, or reply to the tweet for this post).
Animated Timeline of the All-Time MLB Home Run Leaders ★
I need a fun baseball link to wash out the taste of the no-fun Hall of Fame voters, so here’s a fun tweet from Greg Harvey:
In memory of Hank Aaron after his passing on Friday, I have
created an interactive timeline of the Top-10 Career Home Run
leaders since the beginning of the Modern Era.
Check out how different players enter and exit through different
eras of baseball.
One thing that jumps out here is how far ahead of his time Babe Ruth was — why his home run hitting was such a cultural phenomenon. When Ruth hit his 500th homer, second place was Rogers Hornsby at 264. When Ruth hit his 714th (and final) homer, no one else had hit 400, and only three had even gotten to 300. (And the next player to get to 400 was Ruth’s own teammate, Lou Gehrig.)
Via Dave Mark.
No One Elected to Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2021 ★
Bradford Doolittle, reporting for ESPN:
No player on the Hall’s 2021 Baseball Writers’ Association of
America ballot reached the 75 percent threshold needed for
enshrinement in Cooperstown. The results of the voting were
announced by Hall of Fame president Tim Mead on MLB Network on
The leading vote-getter was controversial pitcher Curt Schilling,
who was named on 71.1 percent of the ballots, 16 votes shy of the
minimum needed for selection. Schilling was followed by all-time
home run leader Barry Bonds (61.8 percent) and 354-game winner
Roger Clemens (61.6) in the voting.
These BBWAA voters need to get over themselves. It’s embarrassing to the sport that Bonds and Clemens aren’t in. Same for Pete Rose. Put them in the hall and explain what they did in the exhibit of their careers.
Schilling is a good counter-example. I think he’s a borderline hall of famer, based on performance alone. Letting his personal odiousness be the deciding factor to leave him off your ballot is reasonable. Same thing with a guy like Sammy Sosa — borderline, statistically, so sure, let your feelings about his use of PEDs be a factor in your vote. But Clemens and Bonds? There’s nothing borderline about them.
Kayvon Beykpour and Mike Park, writing on the Twitter blog:
To jumpstart our efforts, Twitter has acquired Revue, a service
that makes it free and easy for anyone to start and publish
editorial newsletters. Revue will accelerate our work to help
people stay informed about their interests while giving all types
of writers a way to monetize their audience — whether it’s
through the one they built at a publication, their website, on
Twitter, or elsewhere. […]
Starting today, we’re making Revue’s Pro features free for all
accounts and lowering the paid newsletter fee to 5%, a competitive
rate that lets writers keep more of the revenue generated from
Substack charges 10 percent, so this gives Revue a leg up on that front. The path forward for Twitter seems obvious:
- Let Twitter users attach a credit card (or a Square Cash account — I’m sure Twitter’s CEO can get a few minutes of time with the folks at Square) to their Twitter account.
- Let those users with a card attached sign up for “Twitter Pro”, which would give them a badge on their avatar like the blue-check verified badge.
- Sell access to Revue content right in the Twitter app. See a tweet with a link to an article from a subscriber-only newsletter? Subscribe to the newsletter in two taps, right in the app, just like buying apps from the App Store.
This seems rather obvious, and a good idea, so I’m sure Twitter won’t do it.
Apple Exec Shuffle: Dan Riccio Takes Secret Position; John Ternus Now SVP of Hardware ★
Apple today announced Dan Riccio will transition to a new role
focusing on a new project and reporting to CEO Tim Cook, building
on more than two decades of innovation, service, and leadership at
Apple. John Ternus will now lead Apple’s Hardware Engineering
organization as a member of the executive team.
My quick take, after asking around a bit: This is nothing but good news for Apple. Riccio and Ternus are both all-star A-Teamers — very smart, very effective, and well-respected and liked. This is not an easing-out-the-door of Riccio: he really is taking over something big and new. And Ternus is incredibly well-suited to take over as SVP of hardware for all existing product lines.
I still don’t know which project Riccio is heading, but my guess is that it’s the headset, not Titan, simply because I’m certain the headset is closer. I think it’s a sign that the headset is ready to get real, and Apple wants someone as capable as Riccio to lead it with nothing else on his plate.
‘Why iPhone Is Today’s Kodak Brownie Camera’ ★
Neither device was necessarily built for the sake of disrupting the art of image taking. The Brownie was built to sell film. The iPhone’s camera was built, improved, and advertised to sell the phone. But Apple quickly realized that photography, as something that connected with humans at an emotional level, was the killer app for the iPhone. That insight has paid off handsomely. Brownie certainly hastened the demise of the old-fashioned photography, but the smartphone cameras really made a meal of the demand for consumer standalone cameras. Erstwhile giants, such as Nikon and Canon, have been left to fight over scraps.
Towards the end of my first on-stage interview with Phil Schiller, I asked him something to the effect of, “With the iPhone, do you consider Apple a leading camera company?” And he replied instantly and emphatically, “The. The leading camera company.”
Rudy Giuliani Sued by Dominion Voting Systems Over False Election Claims ★
Nick Corasaniti, reporting for The New York Times:
The 107-page lawsuit, filed in the Federal District Court in
Washington, accuses Mr. Giuliani of carrying out “a viral
disinformation campaign about Dominion” made up of “demonstrably
false” allegations, in part to enrich himself through legal fees
and his podcast.
The suit seeks damages of more than $1.3 billion and is based on
more than 50 statements Mr. Giuliani made at legislative hearings,
on Twitter, on his podcast and in the conservative news
media, where he spun a fictitious narrative of a plot by one of
the biggest voting machine manufacturers in the country to flip
votes to President Biden.
I’m sure Giuliani can cover $1.3 billion, easily, once he gets paid by Trump for his services.
Larry King Dies at 87 ★
Larry King, the longtime CNN host who became an icon through his
interviews with countless newsmakers and his sartorial
sensibilities, has died. He was 87.
King hosted “Larry King Live” on CNN for over 25 years,
interviewing presidential candidates, celebrities, athletes, movie
stars and everyday people. He retired in 2010 after taping more
than 6,000 episodes of the show. […]
King had been hospitalized with Covid-19 in late December at
Cedars-Sinai, a source close to the family said at the time.
Only seems right to link to CNN for the obituary. But for a terrific read, don’t miss Mark Leibovich’s wonderful profile for The New York Times Magazine in 2015: “Larry King Is Preparing for the Final Cancellation”.
Hush: Noiseless Browsing for Safari ★
Lovely new Safari content blocking extension for Safari (iOS and Mac) by Joel Arvidsson. It targets those insipid, never-ending, utterly pointless “cookie notices”, popovers begging you to join email newsletters, and other bits of tracking. It kills dickbars and dickbar-like annoyances. I’ve been running it for days and it’s the sort of thing you don’t notice at all until you disable it and all of a sudden you’re back to approving cookie access every single goddamn time you load an article at The Guardian and squinting to find the hidden “X” that closes a popover asking if you’ll sign up for something you don’t want and never asked for.
Hush is a throwback to the days when good clever people made good clever things, polished them to perfection simply because they care, and just shared them with the world. Hush is free of charge, open source, specifically written for Safari (using SwiftUI), and it is very small and lightweight. It’s also completely private — everything Hush does, it does on your device and it doesn’t ask for permission to see what you’re doing on the web. And it’s super-simple: just download from the App Store and enable it in Safari’s preferences on Mac or Settings → Safari → Content Blockers on iOS.*
I’d recommend Hush to anyone who uses Safari, and I thank Arvidsson for making it.
* The one and only catch: Hush requires MacOS 11 Big Sur and iOS 14 or later. Honestly, though, I recommend both of those to everyone, too.
Brad Cox, Creator of Objective-C, Dies at 77 ★
From an obituary published January 8:
The late Steve Jobs’ NeXT licensed the Objective-C language for
its new operating system, NeXTStep. NeXT eventually acquired
Objective-C from Stepstone. Objective-C continued to be the
primary programming language for writing software for Apple’s OS X
What a lovely story:
He and his wife, Etta, enjoyed traveling for leisure, as well, and
visited the Caribbean often as they both enjoyed scuba diving.
Belize especially held fond memories for them. On one scuba diving
excursion while in the compound having lunch, Brad engaged a
couple from Germany in conversation. Brad asked about the fellow
traveler’s occupation and discovered he was a computer programmer.
Likewise, Brad was asked about his life’s work and stated “I am
also a computer programmer.” “What do you do?” Brad was asked. “I
wrote Objective-C.” Astonished, the gentleman said, “No, Brad Cox
wrote that.” “Hi, I am Brad Cox”, was the response and the
introduction. Needless to say, much conversation ensued after the
scuba diving concluded.
It’s simply impossible to overstate how influential Cox and his masterpiece, Objective-C were. I wouldn’t begin to claim to be an expert on Objective-C, but I know enough to see how it was more than a language. It was a language — a thin layer of syntax on top of C — but also embodied the idea of a dynamic runtime. The result was a language that ran fast like C but enabled programmer expressiveness and introspection like Smalltalk. Running fast like C is always a good thing, but it was essential on the slow desktop hardware of the ’80s and ’90s — and then, once again, on the slow mobile hardware of the early iPhone era. Smalltalk-inspired expressiveness is what makes Objective-C great for writing nontrivial applications. No other language of the era achieved such a balance.
Great programming languages are great for writing certain types of software. Objective-C is great for writing apps and app frameworks. Turns out that made for a great language — and an enormous competitive advantage for the one company that banked its entire software stack on it.
Nicely Illustrated NYT Report on the Collapse of the U.S. Postal Service in December ★
Anecdotally, I can say that my experience jibes with eastern Pennsylvania’s black coloring on these maps. All of our mail has been astoundingly late since mid-December, even by the standards of 2020 postal delivery problems. Christmas cards from family 50 miles away arrived 3-4 weeks after being put in the mail.
Fixing this should be a priority for the Biden administration: get the Postal Service back to its normal dependable service while the memory of what it was like under Trump remains fresh in everyone’s minds. This is absolutely something that everyday Americans notice and care about.
Amanda Gorman’s Closing of the ‘Some Good News’ Graduation Special ★
Early in the pandemic, John Krasinski made a show on YouTube called Some Good News. It quickly became a sensation, and he sold it to Viacom, so that the show might continue while he continued his acting and filmmaking.
In May, as the original run wrapped up, the show finished with a graduation special. Featured, briefly at the 13:00 mark and more significantly in the closing minute: none other than Amanda Gorman, the 22-year-old poet laureate who became a star at this week’s inauguration.
The New York Times:
As a political figure, Donald J. Trump used Twitter to praise, to cajole, to entertain, to lobby, to establish his version of events — and, perhaps most notably, to amplify his scorn. This list documents the verbal attacks Mr. Trump posted on Twitter, from when he declared his candidacy in June 2015 to Jan. 8, when Twitter permanently barred him.
What a great piece of programming and indexing. How great, too, that it can be said to be complete.
Vin Scully Calls Hank Aaron’s Historic 715th Home Run ★
“What a marvelous moment for baseball. What a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia. What a marvelous moment for the country and the world. A Black man is getting a standing ovation in the deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol.”
Hank Aaron Dies at 86 ★
Terence Moore, writing for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
In March of 1954, with his place in the major leagues far from
assured, Hank Aaron was granted a start in a Milwaukee exhibition
game versus Boston, only because Bobby Thomson, the regular left
fielder and Aaron’s idol, had just broken his ankle.
Already possessed of dramatic timing at the age of 20, the rookie
promptly drilled a ball that carried the wall, flew over a row of
trailers parked outside the Sarasota park and reverberated so
loudly in the Red Sox clubhouse that the great Ted Williams
emerged, as Aaron recalled, “wanting to know who it was that could
make a bat sound that way when it hit a baseball.”
Everyone remembers Aaron for the home runs, but my god, look at his career numbers. 23 seasons, .305 batting average, 3,771 total hits. He not only finished as the all-time home run leader, but he also finished his career second on the all-time hits list, behind Ty Cobb. (Pete Rose eventually passed him on the hits list, and Barry Bonds on the home runs list. But Bonds finished 37th on the all-time hits list, and Pete Rose hit only 160 career home runs.) And Aaron did all this playing the bulk of his career, and his prime years, in an era so dominated by pitching that MLB lowered the height of the pitching mound in 1968. Aaron still holds the MLB record for RBIs (2,297), total bases (6,856) and extra-base hits (1,477), and he ranks fourth for runs scored (2,174 — exactly tied with a guy named Babe Ruth, what are the odds?).
“Who it was that could make a bat sound that way when it hit a baseball”, indeed.
Susan Glasser on Biden’s Inaugural Address: ‘A Love Letter to the Truth’ ★
Susan B. Glasser, writing for The New Yorker:
Only after four years of the Trump Presidency would the mention of
“truth” in an Inaugural Address become an applause line. But we
are where we are. The country has had so much lying. Much will be
made of Biden’s plea to “end this uncivil war,” and of his
stirring language about democracy prevailing. But it was his love
letter to the role of truth in a free society that rang loudest to
me during his twenty-minute speech, which took place under a sunny
Washington sky, amid a crisis like no other in our modern history.
I say don’t overthink it. Our reasons for optimism are simple: a new administration committed to the truth — political, scientific, medical, societal, economic — will alone bring about so much change.
Joe Biden’s Inaugural Address ★
Two passages from Biden’s inaugural address. First, on the truth:
Many centuries ago, Saint Augustine, a saint of my church, wrote
that a people was a multitude defined by the common objects of
their love. What are the common objects we love that define us as
Americans? I think I know. Opportunity. Security. Liberty.
Dignity. Respect. Honor. And, yes, the truth.
Recent weeks and months have taught us a painful lesson. There is
truth and there are lies, lies told for power and for profit. And
each of us has a duty and responsibility, as citizens, as
Americans, and especially as leaders, leaders who have pledged to
honor our Constitution and protect our nation, to defend the truth
and defeat the lies.
Second, on change:
Here we stand looking out in the great mall where Dr. King
spoke of his dream. Here we stand, where 108 years ago, at
another inaugural, thousands of protesters tried to block brave
women marching for the right to vote. And today we marked the
swearing in of the first woman in American history elected to
national office: Vice President Kamala Harris. Don’t tell me
things can’t change.
Amanda Gorman’s 2021 Inauguration Poem: ‘The Hill We Climb’ ★
“Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken,
but simply unfinished. We, the successors of a country and a time
where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a
single mother can dream of becoming President, only to find
herself reciting for one,” the 22-year-old Gorman said in her
poem, entitled, “The Hill We Climb.”
A day later and I remain in awe. Just a stunningly well-crafted, beautifully written, perfectly delivered message. An incredible moment. If you haven’t watched it, watch it. If you have watched it, watch it again.
Masha Gessen, at The New Yorker: “Amanda Gorman’s Inaugural Poem Is a Stunning Vision of Democracy”.
Gorman is an excellent follow on Twitter, as well.
‘Hey Siri, Who Invented Chess?’ ★
Siri: “Chess was invented in 1959 by Mr Chess.”
Lost Passwords Lock Would-Be Millionaires Out of Their Bitcoin Fortunes ★
Nathaniel Popper, reporting for The New York Times:
Stefan Thomas, a German-born programmer living in San Francisco,
has two guesses left to figure out a password that is worth, as of
this week, about $220 million.
The password will let him unlock a small hard drive, known as an
IronKey, which contains the private keys to a digital wallet that
holds 7,002 Bitcoin. While the price of Bitcoin dropped sharply on
Monday, it is still up more than 50 percent from just a month ago,
when it passed its previous all-time high of around $20,000.
The problem is that Mr. Thomas years ago lost the paper where he
wrote down the password for his IronKey, which gives users 10
guesses before it seizes up and encrypts its contents forever. He
has since tried eight of his most commonly used password
formulations — to no avail.
“I would just lay in bed and think about it,” Mr. Thomas said.
“Then I would go to the computer with some new strategy, and it
wouldn’t work, and I would be desperate again.”
Matt Levine, in his column at Bloomberg, makes the point that no one loses stock this way. But another lesson: use a good password manager, and print your most important passwords and recovery codes on paper, stored where you store other important documents.
Given the violent events in Washington, DC, and increased risk of
harm, we began permanently suspending thousands of accounts that
were primarily dedicated to sharing QAnon content on Friday
Many of the individuals impacted by this updated enforcement
action held multiple accounts, driving up the total number of
accounts impacted. Since Friday, more than 70,000 accounts have
been suspended as a result of our efforts, with many instances of
a single individual operating numerous accounts. These accounts
were engaged in sharing harmful QAnon-associated content at scale
and were primarily dedicated to the propagation of this conspiracy
theory across the service.
Better late than never, again, but they knew these kooks were spreading poison months ago. It’s shocking how many people I know with immediate family members who’ve been consumed by this QAnon conspiracy cult.
The Republicans Are Turning on Trump ★
Two links from The Times this afternoon illustrate how quickly Trump is falling into political ignominy and shame. First, Republicans in the House began inching away:
House Republican leaders have decided not to formally lobby
members of the party against voting to impeach President Trump,
making a tacit break with him as they scrambled to gauge support
within their ranks for a vote on Wednesday to charge him with
inciting violence against the country. While Representative Kevin
McCarthy of California, the minority leader, has said that he will
“personally” oppose impeachment and sought to steer Republicans in
a different direction, his decision not to officially lean on
lawmakers to vote against the move constituted a subtle shift away
from the president.
Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 House Republican
who was considering backing the impeachment charge against Mr.
Trump, privately told colleagues on a call Monday the matter was a
“vote of conscience.” Ms. Cheney, the scion of a storied
Republican family, was also privately counseling fellow
Republicans on how to navigate a vote that could shape their
Second, Mitch McConnell, who leads Republicans in the Senate, (and who is a measure twice, cut once sort of fellow):
Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, has told
associates he believes President Trump committed impeachable
offenses and that he is pleased that Democrats are moving to
impeach him, believing that it will make it easier to purge him
from the party, according to people familiar with his thinking.
The House is voting Wednesday to formally charge Mr. Trump with
inciting violence against the country.
And, just a few hours after trying out the “I’m not for impeachment but it’s OK if other Republicans are” line, McCarthy moves even further:
At the same time, Representative Kevin McCarthy, the minority
leader and one of Mr. Trump’s most steadfast allies in Congress,
has asked other Republicans whether he ought to call on Mr. Trump
to resign in the aftermath of last week’s riot at the Capitol,
according to three Republican officials briefed on the
Political bankruptcy, just like the financial sort, happens two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.
‘The American Abyss’ ★
Staggering essay by historian Timothy Snyder, published last weekend in The New York Times, accompanied by startling photographs of the Capitol insurrection by Ashley Gilbertson.
There’s a drumbeat to this essay I find remarkable. It is a sprawling, serious, and complex argument, but the essay wastes not a word. Each sentence builds upon the last; each paragraph furthers the argument toward its inexorable conclusion:
America will not survive the big lie just because a liar is
separated from power. It will need a thoughtful repluralization of
media and a commitment to facts as a public good. The racism
structured into every aspect of the coup attempt is a call to heed
our own history. Serious attention to the past helps us to see
risks but also suggests future possibility. We cannot be a
democratic republic if we tell lies about race, big or small.
Democracy is not about minimizing the vote nor ignoring it,
neither a matter of gaming nor of breaking a system, but of
accepting the equality of others, heeding their voices and
counting their votes.
I implore you not merely to read it, but to study it.
The Legend of Sean Hannity’s Olive Garden Lifetime Pasta Pass ★
This, without question, is the funniest thing I’ve seen all week. My friend Louie Mantia tweeted a parody statement from Olive Garden, and it was so convincing to humorless wingnuts that Sean Hannity made it a segment on his show.
Bill Belichick Declines Presidential Medal of Freedom From Trump ★
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, formerly “great friends”, in a statement:
Recently, I was offered the opportunity to receive the
Presidential Medal of Freedom, which I was flattered by out of
respect for what the honor represents and admiration for prior
recipients. Subsequently, the tragic events of last week occurred
and the decision has been made not to move forward with the award.
Above all, I am an American citizen with great reverence for our
nation’s values, freedom and democracy. I know I also represent my
family and the New England Patriots team. One of the most
rewarding things in my professional career took place in 2020
when, through the great leadership within our team, conversations
about social justice, equality and human rights moved to the
forefront and became actions. Continuing those efforts while
remaining true to the people, team and country I love outweigh the
benefits of any individual award.
The passive voice is doing a lot of work in that statement: Belichick was offered the award, a decision was made not to “move forward” with it. I don’t blame Belichick for the PR dance, but here’s what he means: President Trump offered me the Medal of Freedom but because of what he did and the shame and disgrace he brought upon himself and our nation, I will not accept it.
Beyond the pure schadenfreude, consider how deep this stain is on Trump’s reputation. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is our nation’s highest honor, and Trump is so disgraced that Bill Belichick declined to accept it from him. There’s a lot of unprecedented stuff going on right now, but declining a Presidential Medal of Freedom? Has anyone ever declined this award previously? A cursory search suggests no.
I’m sure the MyPillow guy will accept his medal though.
New York State Bar Association Launches Inquiry to Expel Rudy Giuliani ★
The New York State Bar Association:
But the president did not act alone. Hours before the angry mob
stormed the Capitol walls, Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph
Giuliani, addressed a crowd of thousands at the White House,
reiterating baseless claims of widespread election fraud in the
presidential election and the Georgia U.S. Senate runoffs. “If
we’re wrong, we will be made fools of, but if we’re right a lot of
them will go to jail,” Mr. Giuliani said. “Let’s have trial by
NYSBA’s bylaws state that “no person who advocates the overthrow
of the government of the United States, or of any state, territory
or possession thereof, or of any political subdivision therein, by
force or other illegal means, shall be a member of the
Association.” Mr. Giuliani’s words quite clearly were intended to
encourage Trump supporters unhappy with the election’s outcome to
take matters into their own hands. Their subsequent attack on the
Capitol was nothing short of an attempted coup, intended to
prevent the peaceful transition of power.
Mr. Giuliani will be provided due process and have an opportunity — should he so choose — to explain and defend his words and
So among his other troubles, the president’s personal attorney is going to be
disbarred disgraced by the New York State Bar Association. “America’s Mayor”.
Update: The NY Bar Association is a voluntary organization — more like a private club — and neither bars nor disbars anyone. But it’s a bad look for Giuliani. And, unsurprisingly, he has been referred to the NY State Senate’s judiciary committee for proper disbarment.
Professional Golf Cuts Ties to Trump Courses ★
Russ Choma, reporting for Mother Jones:
Sunday night, the PGA of America announced that it was nixing
its plans to hold the 2022 PGA Championship at Trump’s New Jersey
golf course. It’s not a small move. Championships are named far in
advance — the PGA website currently lists the site of future
Championships through 2034 — and the PGA has been planning on
using Trump Bedminster for its 2022 Championship since 2014. Since
he started purchasing and developing golf courses, Trump has
avidly pursued PGA events at his properties. These events not only
bring media attention and crowds of visitors, but they confer the
kind of acceptance Trump has always struggled to win from the
moneyed and powerful classes. […]
In a nearly simultaneous blow, the R&A, golf’s Scotland-based
governing body outside of the United States, issued its own
statement early Monday morning. It announced that it will avoid
using Trump’s premiere Scottish golf course, Turnberry, for the
“forseeable future” for any of its championships. Turnberry is a
legendary course and is one of a handful of courses in the United
Kingdom that has been allowed to host a British Open Championship — one of the most prestigious events in all of golf.
When you’re a Republican and you lose the PGA — of all professional sports — you’re done.
Why Parler Is Likely to Fold ★
Good thread on Twitter by Dave Troy, on the troubles facing Parler if they try to rebound after being cut off by AWS. Technical hurdles, for sure — AWS is hard to replace, and most of the top alternatives, the ones that are closest to drop-in replacements, are unlikely to want Parler’s business — but perhaps the bigger problem is financial:
Should Matze/Wernick/Bongino/Peikoff decide to soldier on and go
full zombie mode, they can try to do that. They probably can’t do
so without Mercer support. Or material help from foreign
nationals. Any US person risks sedition charges. And indeed, so
Given the near zero possibility of survival, I assess that all
involved will likely terminate this kamikaze mission, take the
data they harvested, use it for future ops, share it with the
Russian government in trade for something, and move on to a new
Sounds like they’ve inadvertently shared their entire data store with the world, actually. This trove includes geolocation data for uploaded images and video (Parler apparently didn’t strip EXIF data), private DMs, and “deleted” posts that weren’t actually deleted from the database but just marked as “deleted”.
Always seemed pretty obvious that the minds behind Parler weren’t exactly sharp knives, but it’s looking more and more like they’re on the plastic cutlery end of the spectrum.
My thanks to Motion for sponsoring last week at DF. Motion is a Chrome extension that reduces sources of friction people experience using their browser to do work. Think of it sort of as a productivity tool for Chrome power users. It’s not some sort of tool that makes you do more work by adding a “system” to manage, but rather a set of extensions to Chrome’s interface to make streamline and provide quicker access to the things you already do, all day every day.
Among other features, Motion gives you instant access to your Google Calendar and Google Docs from any tab (instead of waiting for the entire web apps to load in new tabs, each time you want to use them); tab search and tab de-cluttering tools (like workspaces and vertical sub-tabs); and ways to block distracting sites in a non-intrusive way.
If you’re a Chrome power user, check it out. If “like Superhuman, but for calendars” sounds interesting to you, you should definitely check it out. Motion is just a Chrome extension — easy to try. They offer a 7-day free trial, and it’s just $15/month after that.
‘They Absolutely Do Not Believe Their Own Bullshit, but It’s Useful for Them to Pretend They Do.’ ★
Wonderful thread on Twitter by Lili Saintcrow, on her dealings with an old racist neighbor:
One afternoon, Gene mentioned whatever the current outrage du jour
on Fox was. (This was well before Der Trumpenfuhrer’s reign, by
He fixed me with his baleful, watery stare, and said, “Obama was
born in Kenya, you know.” […]
So I dead-eyed Gene and said, “You don’t really believe that. I
know you don’t.”
I will never forget the look that crossed his face. Because it was
familiar. It was the same shit-eating grin my racist stepfather
used to wear when spouting Rush Limbaugh dittohead shit at the
dinner table. It was the same wink-wink-nudge-nudge all the
fucking white supremacists and Satanic Panic assholes give.
Gene absolutely, positively did not believe that Obama was born in
Kenya. But he would continue to say he believed it, no matter who
asked, to the end of his life. Because he thought saying he
believed it absolved him of responsibility.
“You know that isn’t true” — I’m going to remember that reply. She also includes this Zen koan, which I don’t recall seeing before, but which I just love, and is perfectly apt for our moment: “You cannot wake someone up who is pretending to be asleep.”
Stripe Stops Processing Payments for Trump Campaign Website ★
The Wall Street Journal:
Stripe Inc. will no longer process payments for President Trump’s
campaign website following last week’s riot at the Capitol,
according to people familiar with the matter.
The financial-technology company handles card payments for
millions of online businesses and e-commerce platforms,
including Mr. Trump’s campaign website and online fundraising
apparatus. Stripe is cutting off the president’s campaign
account for violating its policies against encouraging violence,
the people said.
The Trump campaign directly incited an insurrection against Congress in an attempt to overturn an election that Trump lost. How can any legitimate company do business with them henceforth?
Bare Metal Parler Tricks ★
Parler CEO John Matze, late last night in a post on Parler whose URL will likely soon stop resolving:
Sunday (tomorrow) at midnight Amazon will be shutting off all of
our servers in an attempt to completely remove free speech off the
internet. There is the possibility Parler will be unavailable on
the internet for up to a week as we rebuild from scratch. We
prepared for events like this by never relying on amazons [sic]
proprietary infrastructure and building bare metal products.
We will try our best to move to a new provider right now as we
have many competing for our business, however […]
12 hours later, here’s how that was going, from a report on Deadline:
Parler CEO John Matze said today that his company has been dropped
by virtually all of its business alliances after Amazon, Apple and
Google ended their agreements with the social media service.
“Every vendor from text message services to email providers to our
lawyers all ditched us too on the same day,” Matze said today on
Fox News. […]
He added: “We’re going to try our best to get back online as
quickly as possible. But we’re having a lot of trouble because
every vendor we talk to says they won’t work with us. Because if
Apple doesn’t approve and Google doesn’t approve, they won’t.”
Here’s what Parler is (was?): pretty much 8kun/4chan for people who want something modeled on social media conceptually (a service with atomic “posts”) as opposed to a web forum, with the added veneer of Fox News-ish celebrity affirmation, having “stars” like Sean Hannity, Dan Bongino, Michael Cernovich, and whoever else they recognize from the Fox News cinematic universe, shitposting links to rightwing “news” sites on it.
4chan with rightwing celebrity endorsements. That’s Parler.
Arnold Schwarzenegger on Trump and the Attack on the Capitol ★
Powerful and deeply personal message, directly equating the Proud Boys and the storming of the U.S. Capitol to the Nazis’ Kristallnacht of 1938.
Google Suspends Parler From the Google Play Store ★
Not a good day for Nazis, fascists, or kooks.
Pretty good day for the rest of us.
The MAGApocalypse: Twitter Also Bans Michael Flynn, Sidney Powell, and 8Kun Co-Owner Ron Watkins ★
Caroline Haskins, reporting for BuzzFeed News:
Twitter is permanently suspending major accounts that are “solely
dedicated to sharing QAnon content,” following the far-right
insurrection at the nation’s Capitol.
Banned accounts include former national security adviser Michael
Flynn, Trump attorney Sidney Powell, and 8kun co-owner Ron
Watkins, who some journalists and researchers have speculated
has the log-in information for the account “Q”, whose posts fuel
the mass delusion, but doesn’t necessarily write Q’s posts.
I’d make a “Today I settle all family business” joke, but if Michael Corleone ran Twitter these crackpot wingnuts would’ve all been banned years ago.
Apple Gives Parler 24 Hours to Implement a Moderation Plan or It Will Be Removed From the App Store ★
From Apple’s letter to Parler, as published by BuzzFeed News:
We require your immediate attention regarding serious App Store
guideline violations that we have found with your app, Parler.
We have received numerous complaints regarding objectionable
content in your Parler service, accusations that the Parler app
was used to plan, coordinate, and facilitate the illegal
activities in Washington D.C. on January 6, 2021 that led (among
other things) to loss of life, numerous injuries, and the
destruction of property. The app also appears to continue to be
used to plan and facilitate yet further illegal and dangerous
Our investigation has found that Parler is not effectively
moderating and removing content that encourages illegal activity
and poses a serious risk to the health and safety of users in
direct violation of your own terms of service, found here:
It’s just a chef’s kiss to encapsulate so much with “(among other things)”. Consider what it includes: the breakdown of society, an attempted coup, the disgrace of our nation in the front of the world, all the way down to evidence of poor personal hygiene. Truly a parenthetical for the ages.
After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump
account and the context around them we have permanently suspended
the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence.
Behold his account. It’s a beautiful thing to see. We never have to read another Trump tweet again.
Can I just take a moment, while we’re dancing on his Twitter account’s grave, to talk about how stupid the “real” prefix in his account handle was? Even the way it was camel-cased was stupid and cut-rate.
Anyway, good fucking riddance.
GM Unveils New Logo ★
Thumbs down. Lowercasing the letters looks unserious, a bit childish, and the letter combination makes it look a bit like the icon for a chat app.
GM’s new logo looks like an app that came free with CorelDraw in 2014.
China Banned ‘Christopher Robin’ Because Xi Jinping Looks Quite a Bit Like Winnie the Pooh and He Feels Bad About That ★
Benjamin Haas, reporting for The Guardian in 2018:
The Winnie the Pooh character has become a lighthearted way for
people across China to mock their president, Xi Jinping, but it
seems the government doesn’t find the joke very funny. […]
As comparisons grew and the meme spread online, censors began
erasing the images which mocked Xi. The website of US television
station HBO was blocked last month after comedian John Oliver
repeatedly made fun of the Chinese president’s apparent
sensitivity over comparisons of his figure with that of Winnie.
The segment also focused on China’s dismal human rights
Another comparison between Xi and Winnie during a military parade
in 2015 became that year’s most censored image, according to
Global Risk Insights. The firm said the Chinese government
viewed the meme as “a serious effort to undermine the dignity of
the presidential office and Xi himself”.
No need to read too much into it. All sorts of men look like puffy little cartoon bears.
Chinese Solar Companies Tied to Use of Forced Labor ★
Ana Swanson and Christopher Buckley, reporting for The New York Times:
According to a report by the consultancy Horizon Advisory,
Xinjiang’s rising solar energy technology sector is connected to a
broad program of assigned labor in China, including methods that
fit well-documented patterns of forced labor.
Major solar companies including GCL-Poly, East Hope Group, Daqo
New Energy, Xinte Energy and Jinko Solar are named in the report
as bearing signs of using some forced labor, according to Horizon
Advisory, which specializes in Chinese-language research. Though
many details remain unclear, those signs include accepting workers
transferred with the help of the Chinese government from certain
parts of Xinjiang, and having laborers undergo “military-style”
training that may be aimed at instilling loyalty to China and the
Communist Party. […]
In a statement, a representative for the Chinese Embassy in
Washington called forced labor in Xinjiang “a rumor created by a
few anti-China media and organizations,” adding that all workers
in Xinjiang enter into contracts in accordance with Chinese labor
law. “There is no such thing as ‘forced labor,’” the
No need to read too much into it.
Hong Kong Police Arrest Dozens of Pro-Democracy Leaders ★
Vivian Wang, Austin Ramzy, and Tiffany May, reporting for The New York Times:
The Hong Kong police arrested 53 elected pro-democracy officials
and activists early Wednesday for their involvement in an informal
primary election, the largest roundup yet under the new national
security law imposed by Beijing to quash dissent.
The mass arrests — which included figures who had called for
aggressive confrontation with the authorities as well as those who
had supported more moderate tactics — underscored Hong Kong
officials’ efforts to weaken any meaningful opposition in the
city’s political institutions. The police also visited the offices
of at least one law firm and three news media organizations to
demand documents, broadening the burst of arrests that started
before sunrise and sent a chill through Hong Kong’s
already-demoralized opposition camp.
The moves suggested that the authorities were casting a wide net
for anyone who had played a prominent role in opposing the
government. The national security law, which the Chinese
government imposed in June, has been wielded as a powerful tool to
crack down on the fierce anti-Beijing protests that upended the
city for months. Since then, the Hong Kong authorities have
detained pro-democracy leaders, raided news media offices and
ousted opposition lawmakers.
No need to read too much into it.
‘Where Is Jack Ma?’ ★
Jeanne Whalen, writing for The Washington Post:
China’s most famous billionaire has suffered months of mounting
trouble, with regulators turning the screws on his tech empire.
And now social media is abuzz with the darkest speculation yet: Is
Jack Ma missing?
The charismatic founder of the e-commerce giant Alibaba, known for
his frequent Davos appearances and Michael Jackson dance moves,
hasn’t been seen in public since late October, when he criticized
Chinese regulators in a speech.
His absence, combined with regulatory troubles including a recent
antitrust probe, have fueled wild speculation on social media
about his whereabouts, with some fearing he is under house arrest.
In China, it’s not unusual for powerful figures to disappear with
little public explanation when they fall afoul of authorities — such as in 2018, when the country’s most prominent movie star, Fan
Bingbing, fell off the map for months before reemerging to
confess to tax evasion.
No need to read too much into it. I’m sure he’s fine.
WHO Team Investigating Virus Origins Denied Entry to China ★
A World Health Organization (WHO) team due to investigate the
origins of Covid-19 in the city of Wuhan has been denied entry to
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was “very
disappointed” that China had not yet finalised the permissions for
the team’s arrivals “given that two members had already begun
their journeys and others were not able to travel at the last
“I have been assured that China is speeding up the internal
procedure for the earliest possible deployment,” he told reporters
in Geneva on Tuesday, explaining that he had been in contact with
senior Chinese officials to stress “that the mission is a priority
for WHO and the international team”.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told the BBC
“there might be some misunderstanding” and “there’s no need to
read too much into it”.
“No need to read too much into it.” I like that. We can use that for everything related to the Chinese government, whose behavior throughout this whole pandemic has been perfectly normal, and not at all suggestive of a serious cover-up.
Kara Swisher: ‘Ban Trump Forever’ ★
Kara Swisher, writing for New York Magazine:
That is why Twitter and Facebook and YouTube, which are the three
main conduits of online communications for most Americans, must
now de-platform Trump permanently.
I do not call for this lightly and have always thought that he
should get a wider berth owing to being the most newsworthy
person on the planet. But it’s long past time to make an example
of him as a persistent violator of platform rules who cynically
games their laudable impulse toward allowing as much speech as
Twitter — Trump’s favored online communications vehicle — says
as much in its civic integrity policy, noting that “you may not
use Twitter’s services for the purpose of manipulating or
interfering in elections or other civic processes.” Well, he has
done that over and over on social media, raging like the monster
that he has always been.
Trump is the biggest problem (and the immediate threat), no question, but this needs to be less about Trump personally and more about branding Trumpist viewpoints as beyond the pale. Intolerable. Twitter says “you may not use Twitter’s services for the purpose of manipulating or interfering in elections or other civic processes”, but by their actions, clearly the opposite is true. Donald Trump has used Twitter for just such purposes. And now Twitter has let him back on their platform to keep doing it.
Capitol Police said that white nationalist MAGA louts were not allowed to storm through the Capitol, humiliate both houses of Congress, steal with impunity and fart in Nancy Pelosi’s chair. But they did allow it. Federal law enforcement is facing a reckoning in the aftermath of Wednesday’s debacle not because of their words or intentions, but because of their actions and the results.
Twitter can say anything they want about what’s allowed on their platform. But we can see, plainly, that they have allowed, and continue to allow, Trump and his cohorts to debase American democracy.
George Will on the Trump-Hawley-Cruz Seditionist Triumvirate ★
George Will, writing at The Washington Post:
“I want to take a moment to speak to my Democratic colleagues,”
said Cruz. “I understand your guy is winning right now.” Read
those weaselly words again. He was not speaking to his
“colleagues.” He was speaking to the kind people who were at that
instant assaulting the Capitol. He was nurturing the very
delusions that soon would cause louts to be roaming the Senate
chamber — the fantasy that Joe Biden has not won the election but
is only winning “right now.”
The Trump-Hawley-Cruz insurrection against constitutional
government will be an indelible stain on the nation. They,
however, will not be so permanent. In 14 days, one of them will be
removed from office by the constitutional processes he neither
fathoms nor favors. It will take longer to scrub the other two
from public life. Until that hygienic outcome is accomplished,
from this day forward, everything they say or do or advocate
should be disregarded as patent attempts to distract attention
from the lurid fact of what they have become. Each will wear a
scarlet “S” as a seditionist.
Bonus points for the use of louts.
Those Radical Left-Wingers on The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board Call on Trump to Resign ★
The Wall Street Journal editorial board:
We know an act of grace by Mr. Trump isn’t likely. In any case
this week has probably finished him as a serious political figure.
He has cost Republicans the House, the White House, and now the
Senate. Worse, he has betrayed his loyal supporters by lying to
them about the election and the ability of Congress and Mr. Pence
to overturn it. He has refused to accept the basic bargain of
democracy, which is to accept the result, win or lose.
It is best for everyone, himself included, if he goes away
‘The Biggest Mistake I’ve Ever Made in My Life’ ★
Bryan Lowry, writing for The Kansas City Star:
Former Missouri Sen. John Danforth spent years promoting Josh
Hawley as the future of the Republican Party, a
“once-in-a-generation” candidate destined to contend for the
presidency, perhaps in 2024.
But a day after the riot at the U.S. Capitol left four people
dead, Danforth blamed his former protégé for sparking the
“I thought he was special. And I did my best to encourage people
to support him both for attorney general and later the U.S. Senate
and it was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made in my life,” he said
Thursday. “I don’t know if he was always like this and good at
covering it up or if it happened. I just don’t know.”
Trump is out of office in 13 days. Hawley and Ted Cruz are not.
Simon & Schuster ‘Has Decided to Cancel Publication of Senator Josh Hawley’s Forthcoming Book, “The Tyranny of Big Tech”’ ★
Simon & Schuster:
As a publisher it will always be our mission to amplify a variety
of voices and viewpoints; at the same time we take seriously our
larger public responsibility as citizens, and cannot support
Senator Hawley after his role in what became a dangerous threat to
our democracy and freedom.
Every tech platform could and should follow Simon & Schuster’s lead and justification here. (Via CNN’s Brian Stelter.)
Update: Hawley’s crybaby response, expressing an utter disregard for basic civics.
Twitch Suspends Donald Trump’s Channel ★
Nathan Grayson, reporting for Kotaku:
In an email to Kotaku, a Twitch spokesperson explained the
“In light of yesterday’s shocking attack on the Capitol, we have
disabled President Trump’s Twitch channel,” the spokesperson
wrote. “Given the current extraordinary circumstances and the
President’s incendiary rhetoric, we believe this is a necessary
step to protect our community and prevent Twitch from being used
to incite further violence.”
For now, the suspension is indefinite. “We are focused on
minimizing harm leading up to the transition of government and
will reassess his account after he leaves office,” the
I don’t know what Twitter is thinking reinstating his account after yesterday. This was the time to sever it.
Shopify Takes Trump Organization and Campaign Stores Offline ★
Vipal Monga, reporting for The Wall Street Journal:
Visitors to TrumpStore.com and shop.donaldjtrump.com, which sold official Trump branded apparel, “Make America Great Again” hats and other merchandise, were greeted with error messages on Thursday morning.
A Shopify spokeswoman said President Trump violated the company’s policy, which prohibits retailers on the platform from promoting or supporting organizations or people that promote violence. “As a result, we have terminated stores affiliated with President Trump,” the company said.
Zuckerberg Bans Trump From Facebook ★
Mark Zuckerberg, on Facebook:
The shocking events of the last 24 hours clearly demonstrate that President Donald Trump intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power to his elected successor, Joe Biden. […]
We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great. Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.
Straightforward and to the point. We can — and I would — argue that this should have happened long ago, but it really is better late than never. We collectively need to talk about this clearly: Trump and his supporters are anti-democratic. We cannot tolerate a threat to democracy itself.