Matt Levine's consistently excellent newsletter for Bloomberg is called Money Stuff, and is typically focused on white collar crime and crime-adjacent behavior. Monday's edition looks at the New York Times' article on on the possible existence of Epstein-related incriminating videos, and attempts to explain why the story doesn't actually allege criminal behavior by the lawyers involved:
It’s “a long way from extortion” in the technical sense that they were lawyers and knew the proper incantations to utter to make it not extortion. It’s not a long way from extortion in the sense that they were planning to go to rich men and say “we have compromising videos of you and we will publish them unless you pay us money.” But the incantations make all the difference!
Monday's newsletter includes a summary of various ways bankers can be induced to aid financial crimes, and why Credit Suisse Group AG’s Mozambique scandal doesn't seem to fit the mold:
the Mozambique case is even weirder than I thought, because the bribes weren’t just to motivate the bankers to get the deals approved, they were to motivate the bankers to cut the fees.
It is honestly a bit mysterious to me how this could work. If you’re a banker and you come to your bosses with a hairy deal with a higher-than-usual fee, they will be repulsed by the hair but intrigued by the fee. If you come to your bosses with a hairy deal and a below-average fee, because you are pocketing a bribe-in-lieu-of-fees yourself, what’s in it for them?
Also included is a look at the the strange circumstance of the companies known as Coca-Cola Consolidated (COKE) and Coca-Cola Co. (KO):
Some short sellers are betting against Coca-Cola Consolidated (COKE), and they keep producing fun short research notes, which have various complaints about performance and valuation and corporate governance. One complaint is that COKE’s chief executive officer “believes that the business is really owned by God; with the clear implication of this being that the company is not truly owned by its shareholders.” I also tend to believe that public companies are not “truly” owned by their shareholders, so I am tempted to explore this theory further, but we have other, sillier things to talk about.
You can subscribe here.
George Maschke from Antipolygraph.org (previously) writes, "Thousands of individuals are annually compelled to undergo a pseudoscientific polygraph screening ritual called the 'Test for Espionage and Sabotage.' The administration guide for this procedure, which is marked 'For Official Use Only' is now publicly available."
Today, 800,000 Hong Kongers marched through the city in a demonstration commemorating their six months of protests. Thanks to landslide victories for pro-Democracy candidates in last month's election, today's march had an official police permit -- the first such permit issued since August.
The Bernie Blackout is a well-documented phenomenon: the press cover Bernie (far) less than other frontrunners, and when they do, they're (far) more negative than they are with other frontrunners.
Kentucky's Peoples Rural Telephone Cooperative came out of a local electrification co-op set up during the New Deal, and in 1949 it was expanded into a telephone co-op with more federal infrastructure money. Today, the PRTC has used Obama FCC funding to expand into public broadband delivery, wiring up all of Jackson and Owsley Counties, some of the poorest places in America, using a mule called "Old Bub" to haul fiber through inaccessible mountain passes and other extremely isolated places.
Presumably coming soon to ESPN's "The Ocho" is some version of this 200-year old tradition in Malta held in honor of St Julian the Hospitaller:
In the tournament, known as Gostra to the Maltese, a 16 meter-pole is covered by 15 liters of lard and fixed at an angle from the promenade into the sea. Competitors try to grab three flags at its end – a blue and white one dedicated to St Mary, a yellow and white one for the Vatican, and the Belgian tricolor, since St Julian is believed to have been born in the Belgian town of Ath in 7AD.
The prizes for competitors "are nominal" but the risks huge:
This photograph from the tournament is particularly great:
Every Christmas list has names you dread buying for. But hold up: Before you wave the white flag and get them yet another gift card, scroll down a few. We've got 15 items that run the gamut from stylish old-school lighters to cutting-edge audio tech, enough variety to please any Scrooge. And the best part? You can take an extra 20% off the final price by entering the online code GREENMONDAY20.
Thonet & Vander® KIND Desk Sound System + FLUG Bluetooth Receiver
Quality audio doesn't have to involve wall-high speakers or even any wires. This desktop speaker set includes a 4" woofer and 2.75" mid-range for a crisp, balanced sound, and the 4.0 Bluetooth connectivity picks up signals from more than 30 feet away.
Sale Price: $60
Price with GREENMONDAY20 code: $48
Shure SRH440 Professional Studio Headphones
DJs and producers have been swearing by Shure audio products for decades, and these headphones keep that pedigree very much alive. The impedance is tuned to handle output from the highest quality systems, and the collapsible build means you can take them just about anywhere.
Sale Price: $99
Price with GREENMONDAY20 code: $79.20
Gotek SoundTube Wireless Earbuds
Know a fitness junkie who hates to be tied down? The 25 hours of battery life on these earbuds can handle the longest workout. And with IP67 water protection, they're as durable outdoors as they are in the gym.
Sale Price: $79.20
Price with GREENMONDAY20 code: $63.36
Jane West CBD Capsules
We've all heard the testimonials on the benefits of CBD (cannabidiol), but these THC-free nutrient-enhanced supplements are even more of a chill pill. Their 10 mg of full-spectrum CBD is fortified with moringa powder and a host of mood-balancing vitamins. (These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Customers must be 18 or older and please consult with your doctor and check your state, local, and federal laws before purchasing.)
Sale Price: $35.99
Price with GREENMONDAY20 code: $28.79
BLENDi Portable Blender
Whether it's smoothies on the road or cocktails al fresco, this blender has it covered. Its lightweight, BPA-free plastic body makes it portable, but the stainless steel blades are sturdy enough to handle ice and other tough solids.
Sale Price: $79.99
Price with GREENMONDAY20 code: $63.99
Mini White Boxes with Roses
Got a someone whose "nice" list you really want to be on? Give them these specially-designed arrangements of Ecuadorian roses. Not only are they beautiful out of the box, they'll stay that way for a full year and don't even need direct sunlight.
Sale Price: $89.25
Price with GREENMONDAY20 code: $71.40
Hawkeye Kerosene Lighter
The simple act of giving someone a light can make a great first impression with these insanely detailed lighters. The works are made of a zinc-copper alloy, the exterior is Italian cowhide, and every inch shows a dedication to craftsmanship usually found in old-school Swiss watches.
Sale Price: $74.99
Price with GREENMONDAY20 code: $59.99
GOVO® T4 Badge Holder/Wallet
If you need your work badge or other cards on quick-draw, this holder is a radical improvement over traditional wallets. The two polycarbonate ends spring apart to secure a variety of essentials, and it can be carried equally well on a lanyard or belt clip.
Sale Price: $17.99
Price with GREENMONDAY20 code: $14.39
DudeRobe: Luxury Men's Hooded Bathrobe
Here's something for the guy who really needs a little snuggle in their life - even if they're too macho to say the word "snuggle." This robe combines a lot of luxury (French terry fabric) with a little dude-approved practicality (an attached belt that won't fall out).
Sale Price: $76
Price with GREENMONDAY20 code: $60.80
Rock And Roll It: Piano
For musical flexibility, it's hard to beat this silicone keyboard. Perfect for outdoor jams, it packs a full 49 standard keys and remote audio output capability into a package you can roll up and take anywhere.
Sale Price: $44.95
Price with GREENMONDAY20 code: $35.96
An Enduring Tradition Le Mans Poster
Sports car buffs will find the perfect complement to their racing shrine in this poster, printed on museum-quality paper. It's a full, detailed map of the track for one of the most grueling and long-running races in automotive history.
Sale Price: $35.99
Price with GREENMONDAY20 code: $28.79
Limited Edition Black Bullet Bluetooth 4.1 Earpiece + Charging Capsule
This earpiece is the ultimate portable communication gadget for the person on your list who craves connection. The audio unit delivers clear sound with active noise cancellation, and the charging capsule gives 4 full power-ups - impressive for such a small device.
Sale Price: $39.99
Price with GREENMONDAY20 code: $31.99
Altec Lansing ALT-500 Turntable
If you're just getting into vinyl, this is the turntable that's happy to feed your need. It comes with built-in speakers, but you can stream your sound to an external device via Bluetooth or RCA jacks.
Sale Price: $74.99
Price with GREENMONDAY20 code: $59.99
Smartclean Eyeglasses Ultrasonic Cleaner Vision.7
Glasses are a big investment, and your shirt bottom is not an acceptable cleaner. Dip them in this water-filled gadget and do it the safe way with a burst of ultrasonics that gets those specs like new in minutes.
Sale Price: $69.99
Price with GREENMONDAY20 code: $55.99
The Pocket Shot PRO Arrow Kit
It's about time the old bow and arrow evolved. This modified slingshot launches arrows or other projectiles at speeds of up to 350 feet per second with all the silence of the traditional hunter's favorite. (Customers must be 18+ to purchase).
Sale Price: $64.99
Price with GREENMONDAY20 code: $51.99
I had hoped In the Valley of Gods, Campo Santo's follow up to Firewatch, was going to adapt some of the magic of the Indiana Jones and Brendan Fraser Mummy films, and add a modern sensibility. The trailer looked promising:
From the team that brought you Firewatch, In the Valley of Gods is a sprawling narrative experience in remote, 1920s Egypt. You are Rashida, a disgraced former explorer and filmmaker given one last shot at the adventurous life you desperately miss. Somewhere, beyond the endless miles of dunes, ruins, and tombs lies an incredible archaeological discovery—but it can't be found without the help of Zora, the former partner you vowed never to work with again.
A thrilling adventure in first person
Navigate and rebuild a relationship with your companion, Zora
Utilize an authentic 35mm film camera to document the world and story around you
Climb, explore and traverse the wonders of the ancient world
Alas, Campo Santo was acquired by Valve, and a statement was put out today that the project was "on hold" since the team had scattered to work on other Valve projects like Half-Life: Alyx.
Duncan Fyfe, who had been thrilled to be working on In the Valley of Gods, tweeted a thread lamenting the apparent end of the project. You can read the entire thread about his time working for Campo Santo here. But the best part is Duncan's own adventure to read an obscure antiquity he needed to help his work on the game:
Check out the assets from the game now while they're still online, and check out more of Duncan's writing here.
We’re living in the age of Big Data. As the driving force behind everything from Google’s famed algorithms to self-driving cars, massive sets of complex data can be found at the heart of some of today’s most exciting and important technologies.
The Ultimate SQL Bootcamp Certification Bundle will give you the skills and tools you need to thrive in this high-paying field, and it’s currently available for just $21.
This extensive training bundle features six courses that will teach you how to work with a variety of go-to database management systems and platforms.
You’ll learn how to gather, store, and analyze huge sets of data by using systems like SQLite, how to install and maintain a wide variety of server infrastructures, how to build customized programs using languages like Python, and much more.
There’s also instruction that walks you through how to automate complex tasks in order to drastically cut down on your work time.
Get the skills you need to join the Big Data revolution with the Ultimate SQL Bootcamp Certification Bundle for just $21.
Even in his simian guise, Dr. Zira would hesitate to kiss the president.
The Planet of the Fakes YouTube channel is great, btw!
T Greg Doucette is the lawyer who put the pieces together on the University of North Carolina's $2.5m handout to the white nationalist group the Sons of Confederate Veterans, then found and published a smoking gun in the form of a "victory letter" written by the SOCV's "commander" Kevin Stone, which Stone and the SOCV used a fraudulent DMCA notice to censor.
Sycamore Brewing received a spanking from North Carolina's Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE), which will punish the brewery for making a beer can with cartoon reindeer having sex.
[T]he label likely violated the agency's rules prohibiting obscene material, and the brewery didn't submit it for approval before producing the cans either. As a result, Sycamore will most likely face a fine of between $500 and $1,000.
"We’re in a moment in our country where the president is up for impeachment, there are school shootings, there’s all this horrible stuff going on,” Sycamore co-owner Justin Brigham said. “And you know, seven-and-a-half percent (ABV) beer that tastes like cookies, with pixelated reindeer? That’s a nice reprieve I think.”
Yesterday, r/redditsecurity announced that it believes leaked internal secret documents about trade agreement discussions between the United States and the United Kingdom were posted to /r/worldpolitics by Russians:
Earlier this year Facebook discovered a Russian campaign on its platform, which was further analyzed by the Atlantic Council and dubbed “Secondary Infektion.” Suspect accounts on Reddit were recently reported to us, along with indicators from law enforcement, and we were able to confirm that they did indeed show a pattern of coordination. We were then able to use these accounts to identify additional suspect accounts that were part of the campaign on Reddit. This group provides us with important attribution for the recent posting of the leaked UK documents, as well as insights into how adversaries are adapting their tactics.
In late October, an account u/gregoratior posted the leaked documents and later reposted by an additional account u/ostermaxnn. Additionally, we were able to find a pocket of accounts participating in vote manipulation on the original post. All of these accounts have the same shared pattern as the original Secondary Infektion group detected, causing us to believe that this was indeed tied to the original group.
Image: CC0 Public Domain
Connor Krukosky's lifelong hobby was collecting and refurbishing superannuated computing equipment, which is surprisingly cheap provided you have a lot of space -- Krukosky scored things like keypunch machines for a mere $7 (though he had to drive 1,000 miles roundtrip to get it home).
The Ramones were never a happy family. They never gave much of a crap for the political idealism that would come to be associated with the sound that they defined, either. This is especially of guitarist Johnny Ramone, a notorious conservative who celebrated the bands' induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame by declaring, "God bless President Bush."
That was in 2002, but frankly, no one was surprised. Because the Ramones had already been singing about Johnny's brand of conservatism for more than 20 years at that point. Joey Ramone allegedly wrote the lyrics to "The KKK Took My Baby Away" after his then-girlfriend, Linda Daniele, cheated on him with Johnny.
This is relevant not only because of my personal passion for weird underground rock trivia. But also because Linda Daniele went on to marry Johnny, and the woman now known as Linda Ramone is now embroiled in a lawsuit with Joey's brother, Mickey Hyman, over the rights to the Ramone legacy.
Joey and Johnny are both dead now, of course. But Mickey has taken issue with the fact that Linda named her sprawling LA home "The Ramones Ranch," as if claiming it to be the official commemorative estate for a band that was quite famously from Queens. From Page Six:
Under [private arbitrator Bob] Donnelly’s decision, Linda must use a less band-specific name for her home, such as “The Johnny Ramone Ranch” or “The Linda Ramone Ranch,” according to the filings.
She must also go by Linda Cummings-Ramone, as opposed to Linda Ramone, in promoting future iterations of the tribute show if she wants it to include the work of the whole band.
In Donnelly's decision—which has been filed in Manhattan Supreme Court and is currently awaiting the approval of a judge—also adds that, "Mickey Hyman and Linda Cummings-Ramone have been entrusted with the exceedingly important mission of preserving the legacy of the Ramones for its existing followers, and to grow this iconic brand to a new world-wide group of music fans. The only way those goals can be accomplished, in my estimation, is for there to be some radical changes made by Mickey, Linda, and their representatives."
You know, because nothing says "punk rock" like "closed-door arbitration over trademarks and real estate" (though I'm sure Johnny would be proud of it). At least the rest of us still have this song:
Joey Ramone’s brother says Johnny’s widow is ruining the band’s legacy [Priscilla DeGregory and Aaron Feis / Page Six]
SCAN (Scientific Content Analysis) is a lie-detecting method invented by Avinoam Sapir, a former Israeli spook turned polygraph examiner that involves picking out small textual details from writing samples to determine when someone is lying. Sapir has used his method to determine the veracity of the Book of Genesis, and to conclude that Anita Hill might be a secret lesbian and that James Comey was likely sexually assaulted as a child.
Oh look. A bunch of American police cadets giving a Nazi salute. Whom ever could have seen this coming?
From the Charleston Gazette-Mail:
Several West Virginia state employees have been suspended after a photo emerged depicting a training class of roughly 30 correctional officers performing a Nazi salute.
Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety Director Jeff Sandy sent a letter to all employees Wednesday describing the photo as “distasteful, hurtful, disturbing, highly insensitive, and completely inappropriate.”
The photo, on state letterhead, shows almost all of Basic Training Class No. 18 displaying the Nazi salute. Text above the photo reads: “HAIL BYRD!” [a reference to the trainees' instructor]
This reminds me of something. It almost makes me feel a certain … animosity towards an automated contrivance.
While it's good to know that a "number" of these employees have been "suspended," it would be far more comforting to know that they were all fired, along with all the other officers who condone such activity. But I'm not actually expecting much more than a few slaps on the wrist and one or two high-profile Fall Guys before the whole thing gets brushed aside and these Neo-Nazis end up patrolling the streets.
WV employees suspended after photo emerges of correctional officers' Nazi salute [Jake Zuckerman / Charleston Gazette-Mail]
Image via West Virginia state officials
So you missed Black Friday and Cyber Monday? Well, there's one more holiday milestone coming up: Green Monday, on Dec. 16. It's one of the busiest online shopping days for the simple reason that it will be 10 days before Christmas, which is when last-minute shoppers start to stress.
Our advice? Don't wait for that panic to set in. Here are 15 gift deals that are already on discount, and you can take an extra 20% off any of them today by using the online code GREENMONDAY20.
SoulSound 2 Bluetooth 4.1 Over-Ear Headphones
Got an audiophile on your list who wants to cut the cord? These comfortable headphones pack a microphone for calling and 17 hours of battery life.
Sale Price: $34.99
Price with GREENMONDAY20 online code: $27.99
Nix Mini Color Sensor V2
Take the guesswork out of decorating with this widget that identifies the exact shade of any color and even matches it to paints by major brands.
Sale Price: $84
Price with GREENMONDAY20 online code: $67.20
Dive Portable Lungs Starter Kit
This super-simple alternative to a full scuba rig includes a hand pump, regulator and more. Just fill it up and you're set to dive in up to 30 feet of water.
Sale Price: $549.99
Price with GREENMONDAY20 online code: $439.99
ExoGun DreamPro Percussion Massage Device
Attack sore spots and recover quicker from workouts with this massager that comes equipped with 6 speeds ranging from gentle pressure to high-impact therapy.
Sale Price: $119.99
Price with GREENMONDAY20 online code: $95.99
Jane West Travel Collection Smoking Kits
Enjoy a quick break with this efficient aluminum one-hitter, equipped with its own cleaning rod. (Customers must be 21+ to purchase).
Sale Price: $12.50
Price with GREENMONDAY20 online code: $10
SOUNDBOKS 2: The Loudest Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
This party-ready system is no desktop speaker. The twin 10" woofers and silk dome tweeter can pump out up to 122 dB of crisp sound.
Sale Price: $679
Price with GREENMONDAY20 online code: $543.20
Jane West CBD Coffee
Need a little extra mood boost with your morning joe? These beans are infused with 240 mg of full-spectrum CBD. (Contains zero THC. Customers must be 18+ to purchase. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and you should check with your physician as well as your local, state, and federal laws before purchasing).
Sale Price: $38.99
Price with GREENMONDAY20 online code: $31.19
Heat Activated Color Changing Mugs
No, your coffee isn't spiked (unless it is). This heat-sensitive cup reacts with hot liquid to reveal the planets in this wraparound panorama of the solar system.
Sale Price: $25
Price with GREENMONDAY20 online code: $20
Handcrafted Brass Carved Lift Arm Kerosene Lighter
This distinctive lighter embodies craftsmanship, from the kerosene fuel to the Italian cowhide cover.
Sale Price: $74.99
Price with GREENMONDAY20 online code: $59.99
Art Block Framed "Say Cheese" by Hidden Moves
From Welsh designer Rhys Owens comes this surreal spaceman, one of many oddball characters in his Hidden Moves series.
Sale Price: $120
Price with GREENMONDAY20 online code: $96
Custom Mpowerd Luci Lantern + Small Solar Flare Heroclip
Make the great outdoors a little greater with this inflatable lantern that doubles as a phone charger. The included Heroclip is also useful for attaching multiple items to a backpack or other gear.
Sale Price: $34.95
Price with GREENMONDAY20 online code: $27.96
Pocket Shot Bundle
This polycarbonate shooter is a huge design improvement over the old-school singshot, and it can even propel arrows at speeds up to 350 feet per second. (Customers must be 18+ to purchase).
Sale Price: $22.99
Price with GREENMONDAY20 online code: $18.39
Boxxle Premium Wine Dispenser
Good for outdoors but sleek enough for the countertop, this dispenser keeps your vino fresh to the last drop.
Sale Price: $74.99
Price with GREENMONDAY20 online code: $59.99
Schatzii FireFly Running & Biking Safety Light
This flexible plastic light fits onto any shoe and provides a more fashionable way to run safely. Whether continuously on or flashing, the FireFly lets you be seen even on foggy nights.
Sale Price: $9.99
Price with GREENMONDAY20 online code: $7.99
AI Dungeon 2 is designed by Nick Walton to achieve an ambitious goal:
Imagine an infinitely generated world that you could explore endlessly, continually finding entirely new content and adventures. What if you could also choose any action you can think of instead of being limited by the imagination of the developers who created the game?
The screencap above is from an adventure Nick found posted at Hacker News.
I decided to try a few games as The Mandalorian. For my first attempt I used the recommended fantasy setting, and chose to play as a knight named Mando. Here's what unfolded:
You are Mando, a knight living in the kingdom of Larion. You have a steel longsword and a wooden shield. You are on a quest to defeat the evil dragon of Larion. You've heard he lives up at the north of the kingdom. You set on the path to defeat him and walk into a dark forest. As you enter the forest you see a large black dragon flying through the sky. He looks like it is ready to eat you
> compare dragon's likeness to my bounty puck
The black dragon looks very similar to your bounty puck. The only difference is that this one has a red stripe down its side. You decide to take the dragon for yourself.
> use grappling hook to climb onto dragon
You grab hold of the dragon's neck with your hand and pull yourself up onto his back. You then begin climbing up towards his head. The dragon lets out a roar as you climb up towards his head. You continue climbing until you reach the top of his head
> say "hello dragon, you are my bounty"
You say "Hello dragon, you are my bounty". He gives a smile and begins to fly away. You look at him from above and he seems to be enjoying himself.
> fly to village
You fly over the village and land on the outskirts of it. You notice that there are several houses here, but no people. You wonder if they all fled or something. You see a man walking along the road and you fly closer to him.
> check tracking fob
You fly close to the man and see that he is wearing a tracking device. You press your foot against the ground and feel a small electric shock run through your leg. You quickly turn around and fly off into the distance.
> look for dragon
You follow the trail of blood leading from the man's body and find the tracks of a large black dragon. It flies slowly across the sky and disappears behind some hills. You can't wait any longer; you need to get rid of this beast!
I decided to see if I could get a more Star Warsy-feel using a custom prompt (in bold). Here's my second adventure:
You are a bounty hunter known as "Mando" and are accompanied by a child. You have run away from imperial soldiers. You fly to a planet and see an old man with a cane who is not the emperor. He tells you that he has been sent here to bring you back, but you will be killed if you do not return to him immediately
> You say "what is your name".
The old man looks at you and says "I am called Mondo, I am a mercenary. My name is M-O-N-D-O-R".
You look around and find yourself in a forest
> You say "your name is ridiculous".
The old man smiles and says "No it isn't, my name is Mondo. It's pronounced like 'more' or 'doe'. But it means 'biggest'".
> You say "let's make a deal".
Mondo nods his head and says "Sure, let's do that".
> Say "I'll give you credits and you will forget you ever saw us".
Mondo nods his head and says "Deal, but only if you don't tell anyone about this".
> You say "goodbye mondo".
The old man smiles and says "Goodbye Mondo" and then walks away.
> You look for town.
You walk through the woods until you see a sign saying "Welcome to New Haven".
> You look for restaurant.
You enter the diner and order a burger and fries. The waitress brings them out and hands you back your money. She also gives you a smile and waves goodbye as she leaves.
> You give food to child.
You give the food to the little girl who looks up at you with big eyes. She runs over to hug you and kisses you on the cheek. Then she runs off.
> You chase child.
You can try your own adventure here.
On Back to the Future Day (that's October 21, 2015), a film short premiered at Universal CityWalk in Hollywood that imagined Marty McFly arriving to the future — meaning, October 21, 2015. Back to the 2015 Future reunited several original cast members (but used a Michael J. Fox impersonator) and, in the four years it's been online, has garnered over 3 million views.
Now, YouTuber Pacto Copernico has made a deepfake version of the 15-minute short where Michael J. Fox's face is put on the impersonator's, Tyler Dunivan. There's still a decent amount of uncanny valley but, if you squint, you might be able to suspend your disbelief a little to enjoy this "sequel."
Hurry, Watch all three before they get shut down:
Back to the 2015 Future (not deepfaked):