Outrun Change

We need to learn quickly to keep up with the massive change around us so we don't get run over. We need to outrun change.

Archive for the category “Other stuff”

The last pieces of democracy slip away in Venezuela

The Venezuelan government has made its choice. Will that choice stand? Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The elections in Venezuela were stacked.

Oh, by the way, what economic system produced this human suffering? What political system produced this all-but-in-name dictatorship?

  • Hints of the fraud before the election.
  • In spite of polling and expectations, a mere 5 opposition candidates won a governorship.
  • Oh, the few in the opposition who won are denied their position; initial reports said that government hacks were sworn into office instead.
  • Four of the five opposition governors actually sworn in.

10/15/17 – Wall Street Journal – Venezuela’s Latest Election Fraud – More details on how the election results were cooked. Reporter describes more details on manipulation.

Read more…

More details on Venezuela’s upcoming bond payments

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Found an article giving more details on the Venezuelan bond payments at risk. Particular item of note is the breakout of principal and interest.

Oh, the five opposition governors were actually sworn in.

10/25/17 – ZeroHedge – The Time Has Come:  Venezuela May Be In Default In Under 48 Hours – Venezuela skipped two more coupon payments over the weekend, for another $237M, making a cumulative $586M of missed coupons for a week.

Tables in article are detailed enough that it takes a while to understand. If I get it, this is the P&I due in near future, with the breakout between principal and interest on the two big payments:

Read more…

Default watch on Venezuelan bonds

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Venezuela is in danger of defaulting on bond payments in the next few weeks.

10/17/17 – Miami Herald – Maduro faces financial nightmare in Venezuela – just in time for Halloween – The government has bond payments of $1B due on 10/27 and $1.2B due on 11/2.  Total due in next six weeks, which would be the end of November, is a total of $3.53B. Both S&P and Fitch are rating Venezuela as having a high probability to default within 6 months.

Here some more of the detailed numbers:

10/20/17 – CNBC – Venezuela is blowing debt payments ahead of a huge, make-or-break bill – Here is a schedule of upcoming required bond payments:

Read more…

UNC Chapel Hill evades any sanctions from NCAA for academic and athletic fraud scheme that ran for 18 years.

UNC Chapel Hill bell tower. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The NCAA announced it will not impose sanctions on UNC Chapel Hill men’s and women’s basketball program for a systemic academic fraud that offered about 200 different “paper courses” over a two decade timeframe.

The NCAA acknowledges that from 1989 through 2011 around 6,000 students were in those courses. The NCAA acknowledges for these courses minimal attendance was required, faculty helped with papers, and the grading was quite loose.  An internal investigation found 3,100 students took a paper course during a specific 9 year timeframe, with somewhere around half of those enrolled being student athletes.

The reason UNC walks?

Non-athletes participated in the paper courses.

Since the known and admitted fraudulent courses weren’t used to benefit only athletes, the NCAA concluded the scheme does not violate their rules.

Seriously.

Read more…

More bad news for college basketball

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Looks like a new mega-scandal has burst on the college basketball scene. I’ve just started paying attention to it. Will describe a few articles on the fiasco and then let it sit for a while before discussing it in more detail.

The feds indicted assistant coaches from four named colleges with two more unnamed schools mentioned, with sufficient detail to allow guesses as to which school’s coaches will next face a perp walk.

Charges are described in Yahoo Sports on 9/26/17: FBI brings Armageddon to college basketball, and its’ just the tip of the iceberg.

Allegations are large payments going to promising high school recruits to get them attending particular schools. Named schools are Arizona, Auburn, Oklahoma State, and USC.

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Nuclear launch protocol and timing

Drawing courtesy of Adobe Stock.

In case I ever want to make reference to such things, I now can cite an article that describes a guess at the nuclear launch protocols in place for the United States. Article also has speculation as to timing for each phase of the sequence.

Someday I may want to cite an unclassified source, so here it is:

Read more…

Venezuela continues to spiral downward

Venezuelan flag. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

News out of Venezuela keeps getting worse.

8/18/17 – Wall Street Journal – Venezuela’s Former Attorney General Flees to Columbia – The constituent assembly removed the Attorney General earlier in the month and last week took over all legislative powers from the Congress. When the government leveled corruption accusations against the now-deposed Attorney General, she and her husband fled for their lives to Columbia.

As an indicator of why she had to get-outta’-Dodge is that the secret police raided her home last week and the government has now banned 60 other prosecutors from leaving the country.

8/26/17 – Hot air – Girls As Young As 12 Turned To Prostitution To Survive Venezuela’s Socialist NightmareRead more…

Ripple effects of marijuana legalization in California

Photo by James Ulvog.

I have seen two amusing ripple effects of soon-to-be-legal recreational use of marijuana in California.

The first impact is visible in hotels. I am sure you have seen the disclosures at hotels that if you smoke in a no smoking room you will be hit with a large cleaning fee charged to your credit card.

I recently stayed at a hotel which had the typical comment of a $250 smoke cleaning fee on the check-in form, which I had to initial.

In the room, there is a sign in the bathroom, which you can see above. Just in case you weren’t aware that smoking marijuana constitutes smoking, the sign reminds you that if you smoke either tobacco or marijuana there will be a $250 cleaning fee.

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More on the capabilities of firefighting aircraft

Found a great resource from CAL FIRE, Firefighting Aircraft Recognition Guide, which provides a photo and background of the fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft in the Cal Fire inventory.

Some of the fun highlights, along with a few more photos:

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Final thoughts on the tale of Silk Road. Part 9.

Cover of “American Kingpin” from Amazon. Used under fair use.

This is the 9th and final part of a discussion of Silk Road, as discussed in American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road, written by Nick Bilton. For the longer story, you may enjoy reading parts one, two, three, four, five, sixseven, and eight.

Other thoughts on the book

If you have previously been following the Silk Road story, you will enjoy the book. It reads like a good detective novel, except it is all true.

The book describes the mutual low opinion held of other federal agencies by the staff of most of the federal agencies that had a part in the investigation. This is not the first time I’ve read of those attitudes or heard of poor cooperation across agencies.

Lack of technical discussion

A couple of the reviews at Amazon indicate there is minimal technical detail in the book. That is absolutely the case.

Read more…

The Silk Road perps. Where are they now? Part 8.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

This is part 8 of a discussion of Silk Road, as described in American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road, written by Nick Bilton. To learn how these three individuals earned an extended stay in federal housing, you may enjoy reading parts one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven.

Current status:

In good ol’ Dragnet style, where are bad guys now?

Here is the info from the federal Bureau of Prisons website:

Update 12/10/18:  Roger Thomas Clark, accused of being “Variety Jones”, is in federal custody awaiting trial.

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It didn’t end well for two of the feds investigating Silk Road. The tale of Silk Road, part 7.

The wages of corruption. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Two of the feds working on the Silk Road investigation went rogue. That did not turn out well for them.

This is part 7 of a discussion of Silk Road, as described in, American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road, written by Nick Bilton. Check out parts one, two, three, four, five and six, if you wish. (Cross-post from my other blog, Nonprofit Update.)

Since the book was written, there have been more developments. I stumbled across the additional info after drafting this series of posts.

Let’s take a look at how things turned out for the two crooked federal agents.

What did the two feds do and what did they get for their trouble?

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Where did one guy wind up by making moral decisions with no moral frame of reference other than himself? The tale of Silk Road, part 6.

Mr. Ulbrecht’s housing for the rest of his life (plus the next 40 years). Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

How far did he go?

So as a result of running the drug bazaar called Silk Road, where did Ross Ulbricht wind up with his efforts to forcibly legalize drugs and simultaneously remove God from His throne and take over the throne for himself?

What did he get for his efforts? The feds claim he had tens of millions of dollars in his personal accounts.

(This is part 6 of a discussion of Silk Road, as described in, American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road, written by Nick Bilton. Check out parts one, two, three, four and five, if you wish.)

He ran a web site at which he knowingly sold to anyone who could pay:

  • pot,
  • coke,
  • heroin,
  • many varieties of synthetic drugs,
  • equipment & supplies to manufacture drugs,
  • automatic weapons,
  • grenades,
  • rocket launchers,
  • body parts, including but not limited to:
  • livers,
  • kidneys,
  • bone marrow,
  • deadly poisons,
  • counterfeit identification,
  • counterfeit currency,
  • keystroke loggers,
  • spoofing software,
  • sundry hacking tools, and
  • fake passports.

He also contracted for and paid for what he thought was the murder of five people who offended him.

Read more…

Capabilities of fire-fighting air tankers

Courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture, photo by Lance Cheung, in public domain.

An article in the Daily Bulletin on 9/2/17, Cal Fire’s new firefighting aircraft is pricey – but worth it, officials say, describes the capabilities of a 747, the newest tanker on the Cal Fire roster. Article also described capacity of several other tankers.

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The power of rationalization when you have no frame of reference other than your own opinion. The tale of Silk Road, part 5.

According to ‘Dread Pirate Roberts’, his ordering the execution of a renegade employee is morally the same as the U.S. President ordering one of the above wartime launches. Illustration courtesy of Adobe Stock.

This is the second of two posts describing the frightening power of rationalization on display in the story of Ross Ulbricht, also known as Dread Pirate Roberts, as he developed the Silk Road website where you could buy anything you wanted. The story is told in American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road, written by Nick Bilton. This is the fifth post in a series. You may enjoy reading parts one, two, and three.

You might want to read part four before diving into this wrap-up of the rationalization discussion.

How can body organs be okay?

Shall we extend this discussion into body organs?

I suppose there might be some way for informed consent to be given in a situation where a body organ is extracted and sold on the Dark Web. I can’t get my brain around it, but I suppose there might be some possible way to do so that would be consistent with libertarian concepts.

I have a real problem with thinking that organ providers in China gave informed consent.

Maybe I’m missing the boat or maybe just can’t stretch my brain far enough, but I don’t see how libertarian concepts can be used to justify the sale of either hand grenades, rocket launchers, or livers & kidneys. That seems to be a rationalization to do what you otherwise feel like doing.

There is even more rationalization in play.

How do beatings and torture fit in?

Read more…

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