Following the money

One thing that has long baffled me about our ongoing global clusterfuck has been the push to just pretend that it's not happening. Who benefits financially from that?

I think the answer is, commercial landlords and hotel financiers.

Backing up:

I don't think that the dropping of all mitigation measures happened just because "people" are "over it". I don't think it's some spontaneous groundswell. People have been given permission to say they're "over it", by misinformation campaigns that have been inflicted upon them.

Random individuals may be driven by infantile short-sightedness, but they are being encouraged in this by businesses, governments and state actors; they are being given cover to just pretend that it's not happening. Businesses are legendarily short-sighted, rarely able to see past the end of the quarter, but more than two years into this, shouldn't they have seen some patterns emerge? Even from the point of view of Capitalism Red in Tooth and Claw, how is it in their interest to have their employees dying by the thousands? To have them become saddled with life-long disabilities that will impact work and jack up the companies' own insurance costs for decades to come?

We've got stunts like this, where Maskless Mayor Breed gathers together a Rogue's Gallery of the world's worst businesses and pressures them into forcing their employees back into their cars and cubicles:

By committing to San Francisco, these businesses and many more are investing in this city and the people who live and work here. We are excited to welcome people back to downtown to work, dine, and experience our arts and culture. March is a new chapter for SF!

Which, due to character limits, she followed up with a second twit containing nothing but a list of the various companies' twitter handles. Ideally she'd be forced to wear their logos on her blazer like a NASCAR jacket, but she probably wouldn't even be embarrassed by that. Scarlet letter my ass.

tbreisacher: If the @SFPride parade was a tweet:

London Breed:

@BankofAmerica @BlackRock @sffed @FibroGenInc @GapInc @warriors @Google @HOKNetwork @Invitae @jpmorganchase @Meta @salesforce @united @Kilroyrealty @Mastercard @Microsoft @Orrick @SFGiants @SFSymphony @SPUR_Urbanist @Uber @usfca @Visa @WellsFargo

If a CEO wanted their employees back in the office for whatever reason (they think they're more productive, more controllable, whatever) they would just DO it. they don't need permission. They don't need the mayor campaigning for it. It's literally their call, and theirs alone. So why is the mayor campaigning for this? On whose behalf? We know it's not the CEOs, those are the targets of the campaign.

Part of the party line on this has been about the financial pain suffered by other downtown businesses, so is this on behalf of the hot dog cart on the corner? The food truck, the pizzeria, the upscale lunchtime businessman steakhouse?

No. Those businesses have no lobbying muscle at all. And more to the point, the various mayors and governors gave zero fucks about those businesses during the decades when the tech companies were building their own "free" cafeterias and restaurants directly into their office towers. Those companies did the math and figured out that if they served their employee a $6 meal in-house, they'd get an extra 2 hours work out of them every day. And all they had to do was shank that hot dog cart, that food truck, that pizzeria. Zero fucks were given while that was happening.

So who's left?

Commercial landlords. They see the spectre of the Googles of the world deciding that they need half as much floor space, and strong-arming their way into smaller leases, or just defaulting on it and daring them to fight it out in court. "We're Google, what are you gonna do?"

I think that those are the donors on whose behalf Breed is lobbying. That's why she wants us to believe the pandemic is over. So that when the CEOs tell everyone to get back to work, to justify those downtown tower leases, that the drones don't just quit. She, and the landlords, require the consent of the abused.

Notably, it will not be the employees of the commercial real-estate holding companies whose lives will be put at risk by these back-to-the-cubicle policies.

Who else, though? Here's another clue:

Breed is currently on a corporate-funded tour of the Great Houses of Europe, glad-handing movers and shakers in the capital cities, putting on her dog-and-pony show about how San Francisco is still a great tourist destination. Hitting all the talking points countering the Fox News stories about blood in the streets, telling everyone the Tenderloin is still a safe and welcoming place for High End Retail.

So who benefits from that? Which lobbyists will be pulling those strings? Airlines, obviously, but more importantly, hotel financiers, and the money-laundering oligarchs who love them.

As we learned from Scooby Doo, Donald Trump and Lex Luthor, it's always a real estate scam.


Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

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Daylight Saving Time Gripe Assistant Tool

For this map I made up a score to prove that you're right (or wrong) about Daylight Saving Time ruining everything. It's the total number of days with both sunrise and sunset times that satisfy your preferences, minus a penalty for sunrise and sunset times that are too late or early, respectively.

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"Dual Use"

Our company received an invitation to contribute a presentation on how AI technologies for drug discovery could potentially be misused.

The thought had never previously struck us.

We were naive in thinking about the potential misuse of our trade, as our aim had always been to avoid molecular features that could interfere with the many different classes of proteins essential to human life. [...]

In less than 6 hours after starting on our in-house server, our model generated 40,000 molecules that scored within our desired threshold. In the process, the AI designed not only VX, but also many other known chemical warfare agents that we identified through visual confirmation with structures in public chemistry databases.

Many new molecules were also designed that looked equally plausible. These new molecules were predicted to be more toxic, based on the predicted LD50 values, than publicly known chemical warfare agents. This was unexpected because the datasets we used for training the AI did not include these nerve agents.

The virtual molecules even occupied a region of molecular property space that was entirely separate from the many thousands of molecules in the organism-specific LD50 model, which comprises mainly pesticides, environmental toxins and drugs. By inverting the use of our machine learning models, we had transformed our innocuous generative model from a helpful tool of medicine to a generator of likely deadly molecules.

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

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David Mamet: Interested Party.

Pan, God of the Woods.

About the only positive thing you can say about famed play/movie writer David Mamet deciding to file an amicus brief in support of Texas in that state's appeal of a district court correctly tossing the state's social media content moderation bill as unconstitutional is... that it has fewer swear words than your typical Mamet production. [...] Mamet, if you don't know, took a Trumpian turn...

Brief of Amicus Curiae David Mamet In Support Of Defendant-Appellant:

He now looks out, but he can't find the objects the chart informed him he'd see. He concludes that he is lost. How can he determine his location? He has a map, but he's just misused it. How?

The Map is not the territory. The territory is the territory. The pilot's answer to the question "where am I?" lies not on the map, but out the windscreen. That's where he is. It doesn't matter where he calculated he should be, the territory below him is where he is. [...]

I report as an outdoorsman, that Panic is real. It is the loss of the mind and will to Pan, God of the Woods. The affected loses his reason, and runs about unable to recognize those actual signs (a road, his own footprints), which might bring him back to safety.

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