• Merchants in San Francisco neighborhood threaten to stop paying taxes and fees if homelessness is not addressed

    The homeless population in San Francisco's Castro district is vandalizing and burglarizing businesses and harassing pedestrians and residents, said area merchants in a letter to the City of San Francisco. They are demanding that officials help the unhoused people by providing beds and counseling. If the City fails to act, the merchants said they will consider withholding taxes and fees from the city.

    From the SF Chronicle:

    "If the city can't provide the basic services for them to become a successful business, then what are we paying for?" Karraker told The Chronicle on Tuesday. "You can't have a vibrant, successful business corridor when you have people passed out high on drugs, littering your sidewalk. These people need to get help."

    City officials replied by sending a letter that said, "We greatly appreciate hearing from community members about what they are seeing on the streets and will continue to work with the Castro community to improve conditions for all in the Castro."

    Sounds like a great action plan.

  • Leader of major Texas Anti-Abortion group arrested for soliciting a minor
    Luke Bowen speaking at the Right to Life Panel at the Texas Youth Summitt Sep 19, 2020. See video below.

    Luke Bowen, the Political Director and the public face of Texas Right to Life, was arrested earlier this month for solicitation of a minor. The forced pregnancy organization fired Mr. Bowen on the same day he was arrested.

    From Vice:

    Bowen allegedly "knowingly" solicited a minor online "with the intent" of engaging "in sexual contact or sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse," according to a complaint filed by Montgomery County prosecutors obtained by The Courier of Montgomery County.

    Texas Right to Life is one of the most powerful anti-abortion groups in a state known for setting the anti-abortion agenda for the rest of the nation. As part of his work for the organization, Bowen had appeared on stage representing Texas Right to Life at a 2020 Texas Youth Summit panel, spoke to Politico in 2018, and served as its campaign treasurer, according to a Texas campaign finance report filed last month.

    From Chron:

    He stands accused of soliciting sex from a minor online, a second degree felony in Texas that can result in up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

    Montgomery County First Assistant District Attorney Mike Holley said that Bowen's arrest was the result of a sting conducted as part of the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force program.

    Bowen's arrest happened "on the scene," Holly said Thursday, meaning that Bowen's exchanges with officers posing as children constituted sufficient probable cause to arrest him without obtaining a warrant. 

    From author Jessica Valenti's newsletter:

    The political director of Texas Right to Life, the state's largest and oldest anti-abortion organization, has been been arrested for solicitation of a minor. Luke Bowen has deleted his Twitterremoved his picture from LinkedIn—presumably because it matches the released mugshot—and taken down any mention of Texas Right to life on his LinkedIn work history.

    In response, the group has been scrubbing Bowen's name from their website. Texas Right to Life has removed his name from press releases and are deleting entire webpages that featured Bowenincluding one where he ran a training for college students. 

    The Texas Right to Life Website has done a thorough job of flushing its former leader down the memory hole by removing all mentions of this name, but thanks to Archive.org, you can see that Bowen was advertised as its premiere speaker:

    Luke Bowen joined Texas Right to Life as the Senior Political Associate in the summer of 2017, and he became the Political Director in the fall of 2018. Luke began his career in politics after graduating from Wheaton College (IL) in 2011 with a degree in Political Science. Before joining Texas Right to Life, Luke spent 5 years with Texas Patriots PAC, a Super PAC Senator Ted Cruz credits as playing a key part in his 2012 Senate win, and as an independent consultant. Luke has been involved in dozens of elections, hundreds of races, and has a 70.71% win record. 

    A 2013 Texas GOP Vote bio describes Bowen's early conversion to Republicanism:

    Luke's interest in politics began at a very early age while listening to Rush Limbaugh during car rides with his father, and developed into a passion in college after reading works by Alexis de Tocqueville, Frederic Bastiat, Leonard Read, and Ayn Rand. 

    I asked Texas Right to Life via Twitter if it will launch an investigation to find out how many children may have been sexually abused by Bowen while he was under its employ, but it hasn't yet responded. If it does, I'll update the post.

    It's not a good look for a "pro child" organization to have an accused pedophile in charge, but it was never about the children, was it?

  • How a CEO's three lame jokes cost his company $4 billion

    In the 1980s, Gerald Ratner inherited The Ratner Group, which owned over a thousand successful low-cost jewelry stores across the U.S. and UK called Ratners. In 1991 Gerald was invited to speak at an Institute of Directors convening. "It was a prestigious event with thousands of the U.K.'s most powerful investors in attendance," writes Sean Kernan in Medium. Gerald wrote a speech and showed it to his PR rep, who told him to add some jokes, which he did. He showed the revised speech to his wife, and she told him to nix the jokes he'd inserted. He didn't. Big mistake — it cost him his career and his fortune.

    From the Medium piece:

    The beginning of his speech was standard procedure, celebrating his company's success and sales numbers. Then, halfway through it, he began making jokes playing off his brand's cheap reputation:

    "Ratners does not represent prosperity — and come to think of it, it has very little to do with quality as well.

    We also do cut-glass sherry decanters, complete with six glasses on a silver-plated tray that your butler can serve you drinks on, all for £4.95.

    People say, 'How can you sell this for such a low price?' I say, 'Because it's total crap.'"

    Then, he took it one painful step further saying,

    "We sold a pair of earrings for under a pound, which is cheaper than a shrimp sandwich from Marks and Spencer, but probably wouldn't last as long."

    The jokes drew roaring laughs from the crowd. But it would have a very different manifestation in the market.

    The UK press quickly picked up on Gerard's jokes, and the working-class folks who shopped at Ratners were enraged by the insulting remarks. "By week's end," writes Kernan, "The Ratner Group's stock lost £500M in valuation ($1.5B today's dollars). By year-end, they'd lost another 80% of the company's value." Over 300 stores were closed, and "Gerald was forced to resign from his position as CEO. He was also forced to sell his shares, which he used to pay off his debt, leaving him with nothing."

    He should have listened to his wife.

  • Los Angeles Police Department seizes 40 cars in a crackdown on street takeovers but will return cars in 30 days

    The LAPD boasted about seizing 40 cars during a number of raids on illegal street takeovers across the city, but said it will return the cars to their owners after 30 days. That's great news for the towing companies that contract with the city to impound the cars because they'll have repeat business. It's not so great news for the people affected and injured by the sociopaths who skid around in circles.

    From KTLA:

    During a crackdown over the weekend, police arrested six people, impounded 43 vehicles and recovered four guns.

    The suspects were arrested on suspicion of a gun violation, an attempted murder warrant and one hit-and-run.

    Authorities said they prevented 22 street takeovers.

    "We're going to be out here again, we're not going to stop, we're going to keep going," LAPD Detective Ryan Moreno said. "We're going to start hopefully getting more resources our way to keep doing this more and more until this problem starts to slow down."

  • Florida man steals a box truck and leads police on a wild chase

    A box truck wouldn't be most people's choice for a getaway vehicle, but this gentleman felt it would suit his purposes as he led police officers on a chase that resulted in damage to more cars than I could count. Eight minutes into the hot pursuit, the box truck driver stepped out of the broken-down vehicle and declared the chase would now be conducted on foot. As the man tried to run, a squad car hit him, and he fell. After a brief but lively struggle, he was handcuffed and escorted into a police vehicle. The competition will now be held within Florida's courts, which are renowned for their fairness and exemplary jurisprudence. We hope the driver will look back on his actions with a newfound appreciation for the many wonderful laws we have on the books and the many fine people who are charged with enforcing them.

  • Iceberger: draw an iceberg and see how it will float

    Draw an iceberg and see what part of it appears above the water's surface on Joshua Tauberer's fun interactive web page.

    Icebergs are less dense than water, so they always float with about 10% of their mass above the water. But which way up? An iceberg wouldn't float exactly like on this page in reality. Its three-dimensional distribution of mass and its relative density compared to the water are both significant factors that are only approximated here.

  • Video montage of Kari Lake mimicking her beloved leader

    GOP Arizona governor candidate Kari Lake is well-known for her excellent talents as a drag king. She is now pretending she never had anything to do with drag culture and spends a lot of time saying ugly things about her former draq queen friends, and limits her drag performances to mimicking the mannerisms, speech inflections, and words of her orange god-emperor.

    The Republican Accountability Project's video of Lake's routine comes with an apt quote:

    "She had without exception the most stupid, vulgar, empty mind that he had ever encountered. She had not a thought in her head that was not a slogan." —George Orwell, 1984

  • "Why I Hate My Uncle," by William Hitler (Look magazine, 1939)

    A copy of Look Magazine from July 4, 1939 will cost you $950, because it has a a six-page photo-illustrated feature by William P. Hitler, called "Why I Hate My Uncle."

    William Patrick Hitler was born in Liverpool in the UK in 1911. His father was Adolf Hitler's brother Alois Hitler. William moved to Germany in 1933 in an attempt to benefit from his uncle's position of power. It appears William, who was familiar with Adolf's family background, was an embarrassing thorn in Adolf's side during the 1930s. Moving to the United States in 1939, William served in the US Navy in World War II. After the war, William Hitler changed his last name to Stuart-Houston.

    Look's article is written by William and reveals what it was like to be Adolf Hitler's nephew. Here are some excerpts:

    • "Being very close to my father at the time, he (Adolf Hitler) autographed this picture for me. We had cakes and whipped cream, Hitler's favorite desert. I was struck by his intensity, his feminine gestures. There was dandruff on his coat."
    • "When I visited Berlin in 1931, the family was in trouble. Geli Raubal, the daughter of Hitler's and my father's sister, had committed suicide. Everyone knew that Hitler and she had long been intimate and that she had been expecting a child – a fact that enraged Hitler. His revolver was found by her body."
    • "I published some articles on my uncle when I returned to England and was forthwith summoned back to Berlin and taken with my father and aunt to Hitler's hotel. He was furious. Pacing up and down, wild-eyed and tearful, he made me promise to retract my articles and threatened to kill himself if anything else were written on his private life."
    • "This is Hitler's new Berchtesgaden home which I first saw in 1936. I drove there with friends and was shown into the garden. Hitler was entertaining some very beautiful women at tea. When he saw us he strode up, slashing a whip as he walked and taking the tops off the flowers. He took that occasion to warn me to never again mention that I was his nephew. Then he returned to his guests still viciously cracking his whip."
    • "I shall never forget the last time he sent for me. He was in a brutal temper when I arrived. Walking back and forth, brandishing his horsehide whip, he shouted insults at my head as if he were delivering a political oration."

    The July 4, 1939 issue of Look Magazine is scarce with just the single copy listed for sale on AbeBooks. It is offered by Rare Non Fiction, a seller located in British Columbia, Canada.

    Look was a rival to Life Magazine, and was published between 1937 and 1971. Prominently featuring eye-catching photography and well known people, Look employed Stanley Kubrick as a staff photographer from 1946 to 1951.

    Originally priced at 10 cents, this copy features Hollywood film stars Hedy Lamarr and Robert Taylor on the cover, and also has articles on America's most wanted criminals, nurses, and horse racing. It is comfortably the most expensive copy of Look listed for sale on AbeBooks.

    (This is a BB reader favorite from 2017)

  • Chinese e-commerce platform bans "Lie Flat Cat" merchandise for violating "public order and morality"

    Chinese e-commerce platform Taobao has banned the sale of merchandise featuring cartoon cats sprawled on comfy chairs, because it violates "public order and morality." Taobao also told the RHR Shanghai Adoption Home for pets to stop selling "shirts with content related to lying flat."

    The shirts are popular with young Chinese people who reject their country's work-until-you-collapse culture and embrace the "lying flat" movement.

    Lie-flat cat products. From @RHR上海领养之家 on WeChat public account

    From Sixth Tone:

    The lying flat idea caught on last year as a reaction against competitive, overwork-driven culture. One of its early advocates was a factory worker who began blogging about his efforts to avoid work by living cheaply, eating instant noodles, and staying at home. Few have gone as far as he did, but many youngsters have taken it as permission to strive less.

    Bai lan, a more recent buzzword that went popular earlier this year, means letting a bad situation deteriorate rather than taking the initiative to fix it, a more cynical attitude that's gained appeal as unemployment has continued to worsen.

    In July, the jobless rate for Chinese urban youths aged 16 to 24 rose to 19.9%, the highest figure since records began in 2018, and the fourth consecutive month that China has logged a new youth unemployment record.

  • Startup uses AI to transform call center workers' accents into "white voice"

    Have you seen the 2018 movie Sorry to Bother You? It's about a young black man who gets a job at a call center and has trouble making sales until he adopts a "white voice."

    A new company called Sanas seems to have based its business plan on the movie. It has developed software that converts call center workers' accents into "standard American English." If you listen to Sanas' demo, it sounds remarkably like the white voice in Sorry to Bother You.

    From SF Gate:

    But there's a fundamental flaw with the tacit promises of Sanas, and the logic presented by Sarim — an angel investor with "more than 25 years of call center experience," according to his LinkedIn. Accents don't cause bias, they trigger pre-existing biases. That bigotry is supercharged by the power dynamics at play in the hellscape of modern customer service, where frustrated callers are trapped on the phone with agents who have little authority to solve their problems, and everyone is forced to interact exclusively through dehumanizing, uncanny valley scripts. It's all happening under the watchful eye of surveillance systems that put the average police state to shame.

    And Sanas does little to remediate this hellscape; it merely puts a filter on it.

  • Oligarch's 130-foot superyacht sinks off the coast of Italy

    The Italian Coast Guard reports that all four passengers and five crew members were rescued when a superyacht named "My Saga" sank off the coast of Italy on 20 September.

    According to Superyacht Fan, the owner of the yacht is Russian oligarch Gennady Ayvazyan, who heads Krutrade, one of the world's largest traders of coal. He's also the former director of the World Coal Association, based in London.

    While our hearts go out to Mr. Ayvazyan for his tragic loss, we can take comfort in the fact that he also owns a 213-foot superyacht, also called "My Saga."

  • Chinese government punishes 27 people for "tragically ugly" illustrations in kids' math books

    China's Ministry of Education has deemed illustrations in children's math textbooks to be "not beautiful" and "quite ugly" and failed to "properly reflect the sunny image of China's children." Twenty-seven people involved with the books' publication have been punished, reports The Guardian.

    The mathematics books were published by the People's Education Press almost 10 years ago, and were reportedly used in elementary schools across the country. But they went viral in May after a teacher published photos of the illustrations inside, including people with distorted faces and bulging pants, boys pictures grabbing girls' skirts and at least one child with an apparent leg tattoo.

    Social media users were largely amused by the illustrations, but many also criticised them as bringing disrepute and "cultural annihilation" to China, speculating they were the deliberate work of western infiltrators in the education sector.

    Take a look at the images here. They are indeed ugly in more than one way. I'm surprised they were approved!

  • Here are Quentin Tarantino's 40 favorite movies of all time

    Blow Out? Sure. Easy Rider? Definitely! Taxi Driver? 100%, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein? Uh, if you say so. Indiewire published this updated list of Quentin Tarantino's top 40 movies of all time.

    There Will Be Blood

    Paul Thomas Anderson's Oscar winner "There Will Be Blood" is considered by many to be one of the best movies of the 21st century, and Tarantino is among them. Speaking to Brit Sky Movies in 2009, the director referred to the film as "one of the best movies made in this decade." One of the things Tarantino told Anderson after he watched the film was how great the movie was despite there being no prolonged cinematic set pieces. "Then I saw the film again and I was completely wrong," Tarantino said in an interview. "Putting out the oil fire is a brilliant cinematic set piece…and the score is one of the great modern original soundtracks to be done."

  • If you want a pill to work faster, lay down on your right side

    If you want your medication to kick in as fast as possible, lay down on your right side. It beats standing up, according to a computer model of the human stomach.

    From New Atlas:

    Led by Prof. Rajat Mittal, a team at Johns Hopkins University set out to see which body position would work best for getting a pill the lowest in the shortest amount of time. In order to do so, they created a computer model of the human stomach, known as StomachSim. That model simulates what takes place inside the stomach as food – or in this case a pill – is digested.

    Common sense would seem to dictate that an upright posture would be the best bet. However, due to the asymmetric shape of the stomach, it was found that lying on the right side allowed a pill to dissolve 2.3 times faster than if it were taken while standing upright.

    In other words, whereas a pill taken when standing would take 23 minutes to dissolve, it would only take 10 minutes when lying on the right side. Lying on the left side is the worst choice, with the pill taking over 100 minutes to dissolve.

  • Everything is fine in the UK, thanks to the Tories

    "And when we announce the winner, we'd like you all to pretend this is a brand new government, not the exact same one that's fucked you sideways into a full-blown state of social, economic, and ecological collapse. Coz nothing says "A Brighter, More Secure Future" than plummeting wages, soaring inflation, poverty, hunger, foodbanks, a collapsing health system, underresourced rescue services, cities on fire, dying rivers, drought, crop failures, overflowing sewage, and polio!"

    Enjoy the latest foul-mouth excoriation of the UK's shitshow parliament from thejuicemedia.

    As a bonus, here's their Q video:

  • Washington Post compares Apple's M2 MacBook Air vs. M1 MacBook Air

    Is Apple's M2 Macbook Air a lot better than the M1 model? In this Washington Post video, Chris Velazco and Geoffrey Fowler did a blind test of both machines and decided there's not much of a speed difference between the two models for most purposes. The M2 costs $200 more and has a slightly better webcam and a bigger display (and a notch), so there's that. But if you already have an M1, don't waste your money on an upgrade. In fact, unless you have an Air that's more than five years old, you should wait for Apple to release something that makes a real difference.