Murder Offsets

A fine is a price.

Carbon offsets are a voluntary penance mediated by an organization that promises to promote good elsewhere to make up for climate vice, much like indulgences paid to the church before the reformation. Essentially it's paying for the right to do wrong.

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Bill Gates' Land Ownership

Bill Gates now owns almost 242,000 acres of the continguous USA. This map shows that area as a rectangle that can be dragged.

Lots of articles on this are full of "4D chess" speculations about climate change blah blah, but the real reason for this seems to be very simple: "just to collect rent."

Most of us imagine farmers tilling the soil that has been in their families for generations. But many farmers lease at least some of the land they cultivate. According to Bruce Sherrick, a professor of agricultural economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, about 60 percent of row-crop farmland in the Midwest is leased. The landowners can include investors like Gates.

"Farmland has had a remarkably consistent ability to hedge against inflation," Sherrick says. And it tends to be "negatively correlated" against other investments, he adds: If the stock market is going down, the return on farmland is likely to be going up.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

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Cursed Computer Iceberg

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Awwwww shit

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Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

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ENGAGEMENT!

Every time we post to our Facebook account, it immediately gets 2-5 one-word comments from random Indian dudes with locked accounts that are years old and have thousands of friends:

"How are you doing, fellow San Francisco nightclub enthusiasts?"

This has increased dramatically in the last couple of months, so I guess we've attracted the attention of the Eye of Sauron of some botfarm.

To report these spam comments is a tiny, totally tractable number of clicks. Barely any clicks at all. Hardly worth mentioning:

  1. Click profile
  2. Ellipsis menu
  3. Find support
  4. Fake account (as "spammer" is not an option)
  5. Next
  6. Yes
  7. Report
  8. Next

To delete the stupid comment in what I gather to be the most effective way is also hardly any clicks at all, pretty much zero effort:

  1. Ellipsis menu
  2. Find support
  3. Spam
  4. Next
  5. Done

  6. Ellipsis menu
  7. Hide comment

  8. Ban (this link only appears after "Hide comment")

  9. Ellipsis menu
  10. Delete comment

If you do any of those things out of order, the "ban" option isn't available. They make it far easier to "block", but all that does is prevent me from seeing these assholes, it doesn't prevent others from seeing their spam comments. Also it's not clear to me whether "ban" means "from commenting on this post" or "from commenting on any of my page's posts".

But hey! The next day they email you to let you know that they have reviewed your report! Of course there is no way for you to know their decision. (Spoiler: it was to take no action.)

Also "Mary" (tagline "Only God is enough") wants you to know that she's selling her ticket due to dead sister ("painful loosing a family"). The ticket she's trying to sell was for a free event yesterday afternoon that had no tickets on sale, what with us having not sold a single ticket in 13 months.

Remember, everybody: Facebook's advertising engine is a hypnotism mind-control ray that can turn anyone into a Nazi in a week, and they are absolutely not just curating a spam cesspool full of shockingly transparent grifters.

It's slightly less bad on Instagram: only about one a week over there, and those are usually of the form, "Nice! Promote this post on @HipHopFans32767!" Or DMs offering to sell followers, a perennial favorite.

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Google Pay

Dear Lazyweb, there seem to be two different Google Pay APIs. Which should I use? PaymentsClient seems to describe a Google-specific API, and PaymentRequest seems to describe a W3C API that Google plugs in to.

Also, does Google Pay work in desktop macOS Chrome, if you do not own a physical Android device? What about in desktop Safari?

Previously.

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Kung Fu

The new "Kung Fu" series is predictably terrible, though I am contractually obliged to watch anything set in San Francisco, especially if there is chop-socky involved. But the most distracting part is SF's alternate geography.

First of all, her family owns a small, faltering dim sum restaurant in Chinatown (in a building that is 25'x100' at best, but still only has like 6 tables in it), but instead of living in Chinatown, they have a huge house in the chilly, pine-tree suburb of... Cow Hollow?

Our hero takes a walk to clear her head, so she strolls past the Ferry Building on the new jetty that is 500' offshore. Either that or Treasure Island has been relocated. Or hey, maybe they moved and re-landscaped Alcatraz instead!

Ah, the wide, bustling, spotless streets of San Francisco's Chinatown that is totally not at all Vancouver:

Then it's time to spy on some smugglers, so they go down to "the docks" which someone's phone helpfully shows us are located at the corner of Fillmore and Marina. A neighborhood famous, of course, for its abandoned yet well-lit oil refinery:

And finally, one they got right. They visit the SF DA's office, and at first I was going to goof on this for being a weird stand-in for 850 Bryant, but this seems to actually be the Earl Warren Building, which is in fact where the DA's office is! Whew.

I mean, it's no Bullitt.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

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DNA Lounge: Wherein the last few days have been another long month.

I arrived at the club on Wednesday afternoon and one of our bike racks was missing -- torn out of the concrete at the root -- and two others were bent and wobbly. Also, our parklet was dented and had been moved a few inches. Some neighbors tell us that around 2AM, a bus took out a traffic light, a bolted-down city trash can, the bike racks, and then crashed into our parklet. I haven't heard any more details about that yet.

Then this afternoon, Devon rolled up the garage door to discover a bunch of paramedics out front. It looks like someone used their belt to hang themselves in the parklet, and so our entrance was blocked off as a crime scene for a few hours.

Today was the first day when businesses can apply for the "Save Our Stages" grants, AKA the "SBA Shuttered Venue Operators Grant". You thought getting your vaccine appointment was hard? This is a national program and there's not enough money in it for everybody so they set it up as some kind of first-come first-served Death Race where every bar and nightclub in the US was hitting reload on the page at 9AM and trying to fill out forms and upload PDFs at the same time. This went about as well as you'd expect:

"Shortly after 4PM, the SBA abandoned its effort to salvage the broken system and shut down it down for the day. No applications were processed."

Good to know that the Federal Government has decided to let Burning Man run their ticketing operation.

Meanwhile, the SF Mayor's Office announced a few days ago that "indoor live events" can resume next week. So when I said that based on past experience, they'd probably give us six days notice, I was being overly pessimistic. They gave us more like ten days notice!

Anyway, this "re-opening" plan they've announced is not real, it's just a PR stunt that doesn't actually help our industry. It caps attendance at the smaller of 15% capacity or 200 people (35% capacity if you demand an easily-forged vaccine receipt!) Nobody can operate a nightclub under those restrictions. We can't even afford to renew our insurance for that level of capacity. The response to this from everyone on the email thread of our local venue operators has been one giant eye-roll.

Governor Newsom's talk of re-opening in mid-June sounds like it might mean at 100% capacity, so that's more substantive, but a lot can change between now and then so I'm not holding my breath (so to speak).

I know you're all as anxious as we are to know when we can re-open (well, you're not, but it's nice that you think you are) but we're not announcing any re-opening plans yet. You'll be the first to know!

Meanwhile, stop by this weekend for our sidewalk parties at DNA Pizza: Friday at 7pm: Turbo Drive. Saturday at 4pm: Matinee Sessions with Sneakerz and Stefan, immediately followed by Bootie, live in the parklet at 7pm. Then Saturday from 4pm to 10pm, house and techno with Warehouse Connection.

If you didn't know that these events were happening, might I recommend that you join our mailing list?

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Apple Pay

I got Apple Pay working on the DNA Lounge store. Hooray.

There's one weirdness that I'm not sure how to solve, though. Clicking "buy" used to work like this: do some AJAX to turn the CC into a token, when that comes back, actually submit the form; on the back end, do some database junk; do some payment junk; and finally emit HTML saying "thank you" or "error".

With Apple Pay it's basically the same but with different JS junk -- however, said JS junk seems to want me to invoke its "completePayment" method after I've done my backend payment junk and determined whether it succeeded or failed. And calling that method on is, you know, tough to do after I've submitted a form and loaded a new page and the ApplePaySession object no longer exists.

If I don't call that method, it seems to work anyway -- the order goes through, the card is charged -- but the Apple Pay popup on the phone times out and says the order didn't complete, which is less than ideal.

So, short of rewriting everything to work completely differently... any brilliant suggestions?

Anyway, take a look at checkout.js and let me know if you see anything stupid in there.

Previously.

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Signal hops on the Dunning-Krugerrand bandwagon

Not only is Signal a sketchy-as-fuck privacy-violating social network wearing "security" cosplay, now it also has a climate-incinerating Ponzi scheme bundled in.

Cool, cool.

Stephen Diehl:

Do they think we don't see through the thinly veiled pump and dump scheme that's proposed? It's an old scam with a new face.

Allegedly the controlling entity prints 250 million units of some artificially scarce trashcoin called MOB (coincidence?) of which the issuing organization controls 85% of the supply. This token then floats on a shady offshore cryptocurrency exchange hiding in the Cayman Islands or the Bahamas, where users can buy and exchange the token. The token is wash traded back and forth by insiders and the exchange itself to artificially pump up the price before it's dumped on users in the UK to buy to allegedly use as "payments". All of this while insiders are free to silently use information asymmetry to cash out on the influx of pumped hype-driven buys before the token crashes in value. Did I mention that the exchange that floats the token is the primary investor in the company itself, does anyone else see a major conflict of interest here? [...]

The whole Libra/Diem token (or whatever they're calling its remains this week) was a failed Facebook initiative exploiting the gaping regulatory loophole where if you simply call yourself a cryptocurrency platform (regardless of any technology) you can effectively function as a shadow bank and money transmistter with no license, all while performing roughly the same function as a bank but with magic monopoly money that you can print with no oversight while your customers assume full counterparty risk. If that sounds like a terrible idea, it's because it is. [...]

The larger trend is of activist investors trying to turn every app with a large userbase into a coin operated slot machine which forces users to buy from a supply of penny-stock-like tokens that are thinly traded and which investors and market makers collude on to manipulate prices for their own gain.

Yes, all that. But also, he began his post with:

This time [the exploitation and betrayal] felt much deeper because it introduced a conflict of interest from our fellow technologists that we truly believed were advancing a cause many of us also believed in. So many of us have spent significant time and social capital moving our friends and family away from the exploitative data siphon platforms that Facebook et al offer, and on to Signal in the hopes of breaking the cycle of commercial exploitation of our online relationships. And some of us feel used.

Well, I'm sorry, but if you felt that way about Signal, you were a damned fool.

It is clear from its design and behavior that Signal's priority is to be a social network first and an encryption tool second. Growth at any cost.

Signal immediately spams all of your contacts with your phone number as soon as you sign up, proving conclusively that they value "expand the social network" more than privacy. That shows where their priorities lie, and from that alone, you know that they're sketchy as fuck.

But beyond that, Signal pretends to be open, but very much is not. If you compile and distribute your own copy of Signal, you are legally prohibited from calling it Signal -- and if it's not called Signal, it cannot connect to the Signal network of servers, meaning your fork cannot talk to Signal users.

Which means that the only way to use Signal to talk to other people using Signal is to use the official app. And you have no way of knowing what's actually going on inside it. Maybe it's running the same code as what they publish. Or, you know, maybe not.

Abusing Trademark law to circumvent the checks and balances that open source development normally provides is just appalling. They get to pretend that it is open source, get that bullet item on the pitch sheet, get the good press associated with that, get credulous nerds to call them "fellow technologists" (whatever-the-fuck that means) while still maintaining absolute control.

Signal is no less a vertically-integrated, untrustworthy data silo than any product from Facebook or Google.

And now it is also roping you in to the global suicide pact known as "proof of work".

Cool, cool.

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