353 stories

“5G offers no substantial practical advantages over LTE”

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There’s a deeper lesson here about money and the foolishness of crowds. (But the wise ones get little credit and probably took a career hit.)
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812 days ago
The key advantages of 5G are (1) the smaller cell sizes make serving large crowds more feasible and (2) the ability to use lower transmission power or different parts of the spectrum that don't travel well with long distances.

Both of these are advantages for the carrier. But the average person won't notice them. It is probably a net benefit for everyone that 5G and microcells are becoming standard, but there is no reason for the average person to get excited about it and run out and buy a 5G phone. It is like seeing a road crew digging up and replacing water pipes. Good and possibly even essential. But the water won't taste any different when they are done.
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How leaders can manage ‘brilliant jerks’

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The CEO of YSC Consulting offers a more holistic way to deal with colleagues who succeed despite treating others badly.

In nearly 25 years of working with leaders—and more than a decade of one-on-one coaching and advisory to Fortune 500 CEOs—there is one issue raised by virtually every leader in every environment: What to do about the brilliant jerk?

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817 days ago
The way you deal with a 'brilliant jerk' is to fire them. It usually turns out that such people are mostly brilliant at taking credit but the jerk thing is real. And the best case is that they've been hurting productivity for the duration that they've been 'indispensible' and the worst case is that you have to deal with a lawsuit or PR disaster because it turns out that they have been harassing other staff.
815 days ago
1000%. The best way to deal with a "brilliant jerk" is to not hire them. The second best way is to get rid of them. There are plenty of brilliant non-jerks. Why put up with sociopathic behavior from people?
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COVID risk assessment

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I hesitated posting this at all, because I am profoundly uninterested in hearing guesses framed as facts from all of the armchair epidemiologists out there, and this is catnip for them... But here's how I've been seeing things these last few months. Maybe you have too.

My goal is to not catch COVID at all. CDC tells me that my goal should instead be just "don't fill the hospitals past 100%", but I'm a little more ambitious than that.

Back in July, when Delta hit, the CDC maps started looking like something from the pre-credits scene of a Milla Jovovitch movie:

But while the whole country was turning red, the Bay Area was still orange, and the SF.gov graph looked like this. At the time, though I was still terrified, I judged it to be reasonable for me to be masked in a crowded room with other vaccinated people:

Then in December, Omicron happened, and the graph did this, and I nope'd out:

December-ish was also when I started hearing more about Long COVID, with numbers that seemed to move it into the category of "this is something you actually need to be concerned about", not some one-in-a-million thing that only a small number of people were unlucky enough to get.

So now here we are in March, and three things have happened:

  1. CDC has recolored their maps to reflect their new advice that so long as there is still freezer truck morgue capacity available in your area, you don't need to worry about COVID;

  2. Mask mandates are gone, and CDC has told everyone that masks are for your own protection instead of being a tool to reduce community transmission;

  3. And the SF graph now looks like this:

I don't want to be fused to my couch any more. I really, very much, very very much, wish to be standing on a sticky floor in a dark room full of people, listening to mediocre music. My standards are very low at this point. You don't even know.

But what I'm struggling with is, once that graph drops back down to pre-Delta levels, like, say, 50 new cases per day, should I go back to feeling comfortable being back in those crowded rooms full of purportedly-vaccinated strangers? Or do the facts that:

  1. Absolutely none of those fuckers will be masked, and
  2. I know more about Long COVID now,

mean that I should still be cowering at home, terrified?

I don't know how to do this math. The organization that is supposed to be providing this guidance, the organization that is chock-full of actual full-time professional epidemiologists, is now just transparently gaslighting us in the interest of... what? Political expediency and the economy instead of public health, I guess?

I also wonder whether that graph of new cases is as accurate today as it was last year, since, with both vaccinations and availability of home tests having increased, more and more people are probably getting infected but not reporting it.

Again: opinions not solicited! While my question is not rhetorical, as such, I am still very much not asking for your opinions or guesses as to the answer. You and I both know that you don't know.

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841 days ago
I do not know either. But I am going through the same kind of calculus myself and it terrifies me that our institutions have shrugged their shoulders and at least where I am there won't be a daily graph to look at in a few weeks to even try to make that guess.
841 days ago
This is a strange turn of events, especially given the change in political leadership. My conspiracy theory is that the changes by the CDC, etc. are being supported by Biden and Democrats in order to soften the blow of the 2022 election cycle. These policy changes are getting almost no airtime on news outlets, too, and I'm absolutely positive that wouldn't be the case if Trump was still in office. I don't say that to defend Trump in any way, but it seems that Democrats are being a bit hypocritical here.
841 days ago
In his book The Premonition, Michael Lewis absolutely shreds the CDC as a do-nothing agency.
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Parents against mask mandates use bogus 'surety bond' claims to flood schools with paperwork

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Jill Griffin had a panic on her hands.

Teachers and staff members of her school district in Bethalto, Illinois, a small town outside of St. Louis, were suddenly worried that they would not be paid. They had seen videos posted online in which a parent who objected to the district’s Covid mask mandate said that she had filed a claim against the district’s insurance, causing the schools to lose all federal funding. 

Griffin, the Bethalto schools superintendent, has spent weeks dealing with the fallout.

“You have district officials who are spending time on things like this, rather than on what we need to be spending time on — making sure that our classrooms are covered right now in the middle of a pandemic,” Griffin said.

The parent’s claims were baseless. She had no ability to use the mask mandate to file a claim against the district’s insurance policy, or affect its federal funding in any way.

But the scare tactic has become a familiar one. A growing number of school districts across the country are facing similar challenges from parent activists who have adopted strategies and language that are well known to law enforcement and extremism experts who deal with far-right “sovereign citizen” groups in the U.S. The Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League call it “paper terrorism.”

The parents’ strategy is simple: Try to use obscure and often inapplicable legal claims to force a school district to make a policy change. And while the claims have no legal standing, they have been effective at spreading confusion and wasting school districts’ resources, even though the paperwork doesn’t require a formal legal response.

The parents and activists have organized through a new group called Bonds for the Win, which is named for a financial instrument at the heart of the pseudo-legal effort. The group’s members have spent the past two months bombarding school administrators with meritless claims over Covid policies and diversity initiatives. These claims allege that districts have broken the law and therefore owe parents money through what are called surety bonds, which government agencies often carry as liability insurance.

Bonds for the Win’s claims are not legitimate, according to education officials, insurance companies and the FBI. But even though the group has won no legal battles, it has already celebrated some successes in overwhelming districts with paperwork, intimidating local officials and disrupting school board meetings. 

“There is a lot of misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the purpose of a local school governing board,” said Julie Cieniawski, president of the Scottsdale Unified Governing Board in Arizona, which was one of Bonds for the Win’s first targets. “I do believe it has kind of become a central meeting point for people to share their grievances and not specifically about our district. It’s almost like living in a reality TV show when you’re experiencing it.”

In at least 14 states, Bonds for the Win activists attempted to serve sham paperwork to school districts, in several cases causing commotions that required police intervention. And the number of people joining their cause is quickly growing as misinformation about the strategy’s effectiveness circulates.

On the chat app Telegram, where the activists organize, Bonds for the Win’s main channel grew from 700 subscribers to nearly 20,000 in the past month. Its members focus on schools, but they have also served paperwork to a handful of county commissioners and discussed plans to go after other local officials, judges and sheriffs with similar claims.

"It’s almost like living in a reality TV show when you’re experiencing it."

Julie Cieniawski, president of the Scottsdale Unified Governing Board

Bonds for the Win did not respond to requests for comment.

The new strategy comes as school boards across the U.S. continue to serve as the front lines of a broader culture war that began in the midst of the 2020 presidential election and debates over pandemic-related safety measures. Parents have targeted school boards with activism ranging from recall petitions to criminal complaints over books available in school libraries. Bonds for the Win is using these battles as a way of drawing in followers, demonstrating how quickly a faulty fringe tactic can generate momentum as frustrated parents join forces with conspiracy theorists.

Miki Klann, a QAnon adherent in Scottsdale, Arizona, who has said she believes AIDS is a hoax and that the Earth is flat, founded Bonds for the Win in December. She did not respond to requests for comment, but has described her goals in numerous videos posted online. 

“We’re hoping that the parents start standing up and calling these people out for the crimes against humanity that they’ve been coerced to commit,” Klann said in a recent video uploaded to BitChute. “We want the people to understand their sovereignty.” 

The group’s strategy of intimidating government bodies with paperwork has been used in the past by sovereign citizens, loosely affiliated right-wing anarchists who believe federal and local governments are operating illegitimately.

“During the pandemic, you saw more and more of these pseudo-legal statements from people proclaiming that they didn’t have to wear a mask, citing various federal laws that just were not applicable at all,” said Mark Pitcavage, a senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. “Whether it’s connected with the sovereign citizen movement or not, it is a form of paper terrorism.”

“Paper terrorism” is a well-known tactic among anti-government extremist movements. The term originates from terminology that law enforcement officials used to describe the tactics of the Montana Freemen, an anti-government, self-described “Christian Patriot” militia that illegally declared its township in Montana outside the authority of the U.S. government.

For years, the group “buried local judges, sheriffs and county attorneys in a forest of paper,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, assailing local government offices with baseless lawsuits and fake court judgments. After an armed standoff in 1996 in which the Freemen refused to leave their foreclosed land, the group surrendered to authorities.

Bonds for the Win doesn’t explicitly describe itself as part of the sovereign citizen movement. However, it is taking a route similar to that of many anti-mask and anti-vaccine movements that have grown during the pandemic by borrowing tactics and faux-legal verbiage from sovereign citizens to fit their own purpose.

The faulty insurance claims focus on surety bonds, which school districts and other government agencies often carry as liability insurance in case an employee commits a crime like embezzling money. Typically, only the district — not private citizens — can file a claim, according to insurance companies, but parents following Bonds for the Win apparently believe they, too, can file claims over Covid precautions and other complaints. Activists say that once they file these claims, either the insurance company or school officials will have to pay a financial penalty to parents. This is not the case, insurance companies and districts say. 

The claim letters cite various state, federal and international laws that schools have supposedly violated by imposing Covid precautions and diversity initiatives, including distributing obscene material to minors, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the Nuremberg Code, a guideline for ethical medical research that many anti-vaccine mandate efforts have cited.

The FBI calls this general tactic “bond fraud,” cautioning in broader guidance that the “scheme frequently intermingles legal and pseudo legal terminology in order to appear lawful.”

Still, school districts say the claims are causing distress and commotion.

In North Carolina, police turned off the lights and escorted a group of adults out of the Iredell-Statesville school board meeting on Feb. 7 when the group attempted to serve paperwork demanding an end to all Covid mitigation measures, videos posted to Telegram show. The school district in Ankeny, Iowa, requested an extra police presence at its board meeting this month after a man, who attempted to serve notice of insurance claims to school officials for allegedly violating international law by requiring masks in schools, posted on a conservative website that “good men may have to do bad things.” 

The school board in Loudoun County, Virginia, briefly shut down its Feb. 8 meeting when a group of parents and children tried to serve paperwork on board members. The paperwork included notarized letters with a lengthy list of complaints — including alleged discrimination against white students and unvaccinated children — and said if the board didn’t respond within three days, the district would have to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in restitution that couldn’t be appealed in court.

Each of these incidents was celebrated on the Bonds for the Win Telegram channels, where the activists circulate draft claim letters and videos of members serving their demands to local officials. But there’s no evidence that the group’s efforts led schools to lift mask mandates or make other policy changes. 

Based on these videos, some of the Bonds for the Win activists appear to believe that their legally dubious claims could succeed, while other organizers have at times signaled that the true intention is to cause disruption. 

“We have people from all over the country submitting videos of them serving their school boards and it’s hilarious,” Klann, the Bonds for the Win founder, said in a video this week. “These insurance companies are not ready for the thousands of claims we’re about to file.”

Klann has raised over $14,000 for Bonds for the Win on PayPal, according to public transaction records. Klann has said she got the bond claims idea from a post on SGT Report, a website that publishes conspiracy theory videos.

SGT Report uploaded a video interview late last year with an Ohio man named Steven Socha, who said his threat at an Indian Creek Local Board of Education meeting to file claims against a district’s bonds caused it to drop a mask mandate. Socha said he got the idea from a Telegram channel that frequently discusses supposed legal loopholes people can use by acting as their own lawyer. 

The Indian Creek school board president and district superintendent said Socha’s threat did not cause the school board to vote against extending its mask mandate. Socha did not respond to requests for comment.

“Truthfully, I don’t think the board members even understood what he was talking about,” said T.C. Chappelear, the district’s superintendent. “You know, there was nothing given to us in writing.”

But that didn’t stop Socha’s idea from becoming a model. After the Bonds for the Win website launched in December, Klann and her followers began setting up Telegram channels to organize, including separate ones for all 50 states.

Klann then tried the strategy on Jan. 25, when she and the internet forum operator Ron Watkins threatened to file claims against the Scottsdale Unified School Board’s surety bonds if the board didn’t address their demands — including closing all vaccine clinics and removing books that “promote pedophilia” — within five days. 

Klann passed out paperwork to the board members at the meeting while Watkins — who has been prominently accused of being the “Q” behind the QAnon conspiracy movement, though he has denied it — promoted his nascent congressional campaign. Watkins did not respond to a request for comment.

The Scottsdale Unified school board members do not have surety bonds, and they are not required to do so under Arizona law. The Scottsdale Unified School District said in a statement it does not consider Klann’s paperwork to be “a legally recognized document.”

For Scott Menzel, the Scottsdale Unified superintendent, the claim letters are the latest instance of misinformation he’s had to deal with over the past two years, which he attributes to the convergence of sharp political divides and anxiety around Covid that resulted in unparalleled hostility toward school officials.

“I think we are at risk in terms of the future of our country,” Menzel said. “The truth has been obfuscated. People have bought into conspiracy theories that aren’t based in reality, and that creates a problem for all of us who are trying to educate our students and prepare them for the future.”

In Bethalto, the Bonds for the Win push was led by Trisha Stilwell, a local mother. In videos posted by the group, she said that claims she had filed against the district objecting to mask mandates caused the town’s schools to lose all federal funding and resort to asking parents to volunteer as teachers. Neither was true, but the claims quickly spread on social media, said Griffin, the superintendent.

“She created uncertainty and fear within some of our staff and community around her accusations in those videos."


Griffin wrote a letter to dispel the rumors, and devoted a half hour of a recent board meeting to addressing the misinformation, highlighting documents that showed the district’s funding had not been interrupted. 

The U.S. Department of Education said in a statement that it has never suspended access to federal funds after a claim was filed against a school district’s surety bond.

Stilwell, who appeared in the videos using the pseudonym “Violet,” did not respond to a request for comment.

“The facts do matter,” Griffin said. “She created uncertainty and fear within some of our staff and community around her accusations in those videos, and the host nor anyone else involved did anything to validate her claims.”

Liberty Mutual, the district’s insurer, sent a letter to Stilwell on Feb. 7 stating that she had no standing to bring a claim, according to a copy obtained by NBC News. The same day, Griffin received a call from another superintendent in Illinois asking for advice on how to deal with activists attempting to file claims against their bonds. She couldn’t believe the tactic was spreading.

“It’s hard to wrap your head around,” Griffin said. “When things like this occur, it just makes it a little bit more challenging for all of us. It takes the focus off what the focus should be on, and that’s our students.”

Pitcavage, of the Anti-Defamation League, said taking up time and resources is often the goal for groups like these — “clogging up the system, so that the system doesn’t work.”

“At some point, because they’re doing all this, the party on the other side could decide it’s not worth the effort to fight it,” he said. “And the next time this issue comes up, they don’t do that thing. They just let it go down. Then the people haven’t just lost the battle — they lost the war.”

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850 days ago
These parents are tired of parenting and wish they were child-free again. But maybe it would be quicker to give their children up for adoption than to just tell them they left cookies on the highway and wait for nature to run its course.
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Virginia Beach Police used forged DNA reports to get confessions, investigation finds

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The Virginia Beach Police Department used forged DNA evidence in at least five interrogations, the state

The state's attorney general's office said officers would present to suspects documents with forged letterhead and contact information and, in two cases, a signature from a made-up employee.

(Image credit: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images)

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890 days ago
This kind of corruption is bound to happen when our law courts are built around coerced confession as the fundamental basis for criminal conviction. While it is important to reform our police forces to make our streets safer, we won't have a true justice system until we remove coerced confession entirely. 90% to 95% of criminal convictions are coerced confessions. I suppose The Spanish Inquisition would be proud of the continuation of their legacy.
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On blocking, and the coinsplaining cryptobros

In the last week, I have been referred to as "Daddy" more times than ever before in my life. And apparently I'm a "boomer" now.

I've also been told that my blog is a psyop to protect the dollar.

Since the twit-shitshow (twitshow) began, it looks like I got 1.7M "impressions", around 30K likes, 7K RTs, 700 replies, and my number of followers went from 15K to 24K. (But then I immediately blocked about 1000 of those new followers, so I'm not sure if those are reflected.)

The top response (number one with a bullet) was "do your research". I used to think that "do your research" was a signifier of people who like a little bleach in their horse paste, but it turns out that it is also the rallying cry of cryptobros. There's probably significant overlap between those two groups.

The coinsplainers just cannot fathom that someone wouldn't want to sell Amway with them. You must Just Not Get It, that's the only explanation.

But once they move on to the insults, those usually include "virtue signalling". Is it safe to assume that anyone who uses that phrase is also mad that they aren't allowed to use the N word? I think it is.

There was also a fair amount of whataboutism. None of them have seen Mr. Gotcha and it shows.

I keep seeing people adding me to twitter lists like "tech" and "founders" and it makes me remember that I need to post more poop jokes.


Block, Also Block @jwz blocked you I am forever advising people, "Why hit Reply when the Block button is right there?"

But the struggle is real. I feel it too, especially these last few days. There are so many people who are wrong on the internet. So many! You don't owe them your time. Block with righteous glee.

It helps if you think of the "Block" button as the "Go Fuck Yourself" button. Maybe try to imagine Jeff Goldblum singing the "It's maaaahhh birthhhhhday" song every time you press it.

Basically, I block someone if they have said something stupid enough to make me want to hit reply and frustratedly explain it to them. We all know that there is no future in sending that reply, but as I said, the struggle is real. So instead I block them, because the chance that this person will ever say something I want to hear is... not large.

But, maybe some day Mr. Firstname Bunchanumbers dot Eth and I woulda been pals. My loss!

And those blocks happen not just for people who have replied to me. If I see your comment, and you're a dumbass, you get a block. This sometimes leads to perplexed people saying "but he blocked me and we've never spoken!" So if that's you, and it made you sad, my sympathies. But this is a matter of self-defense and one does what one must.

Now some people may think that if you blocked them, they have "won", but I don't care about that even a little bit. What they think is irrelevant to me. The goal is to remove them permanently from my experience. I will, by definition, never see their "he actually blocked me lmao" posts.

"You mean I can push one button and make this weird guy I've never heard of go away forever? Neat."

But, if you do reply to a dumbass before you block them -- let's bring back *plonk*.

During the Recent Unpleasantness, I blocked over a thousand new followers based on keywords in their profiles (dot-eth, etc.) Fortunately, crypto-bros always self-identify, because it's a cult. The grift requires total commitment. (Don't ask for the script, it was messy.)

I have also made good use of megablock.xyz -- it blocks a bad tweet's author and every person who liked it.

I reported a couple dozen of the more abusive ones, but to the shock of absolute no one, Twitter finds nothing to be against their terms of service. I would like to be in the habit of reporting twits more, but it is so many clicks, and it's about as useless as telling 311 about a blocked bike lane.

I am once again asking for you to untag me in your replies Because Twitter is terrible, after you've blocked someone, all of the replies from people who are making the mistake of continuing to engage with them still show up in your mentions. You can mute the entire thread, but then you lose everything, not just the sub-thread with the dipshit you blocked.

In summary, Twitter is a land of contrasts.


Blocking is time management. You block someone who's spending their time trying to waste yours. When you block someone on twitter it's because both you AND THEY agree that your time is more valuable than their time.

Relatedly, anildash:

A reminder that may not be obvious: amplification on social networks has monetary value. Twitter's algorithm counts it as engagement even if you shared a tweet to criticize it or mock it, and uses that signal to amplify the tweet further. Only RT what you would pay to promote.

Do not reply to, retweet, or quote a tweet from a fascist unless you would give them your money. Apparently some people would rather make that gift than change their behavior online, and I don't know what to do about that.

If you think that quote-tweeting does not juice the engagement numbers of the bad take, you are wrong. If you think that screenshotting it does not do the same thing, you are probably wrong. Twitter has very good OCR, and if they aren't scanning screenshots for twitter links and handles in order to decide what to show to more people, I would be shocked.


And since we're talking about "engagement" and all of that horseshit, how about giving a follow to @dnalounge and @dnapizza? It would be nice to get those numbers up. My staff thanks you in advance. Tip your bartenders.

Also, please follow @dnalounge on Instagram -- we are getting very close to 10K followers, and I understand that once we reach that, we unlock a secret prize: the ability to add a "swipe up" link to our posts, so that it's possible to go from a post about an event, to the actual ticket page, rather than having just the one Lincoln Bio. Imagine that.

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

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893 days ago
I am not engaged on these social networks, but it is bizarre to me that people are still accusing others of 'virtue signalling'. I guess maybe it is a bit smug to be virtuous. But it sure beats the 'asshole signalling' which seems pretty common these days. I'm more virtuous than anybody that accuses others of virtue signalling. And I'm happy to signal it.
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2 public comments
895 days ago
The allure of crypto is ducking with people. Some see things that are wrong in the world, or think there are too many regulations without ever understanding that the financial markets started out like crypto.

Then people lost their shirts, and some their life’s, and then we decided a “free for all” was a really bad idea.

But I am sure this time it’s different.
iPhone: 49.287476,-123.142136
894 days ago
Very good observations. Especially the notion that in dismissing crypto as a solution, it’s important not to dismiss the problem. As I’ve matured in my thinking about solutions in my professional life I’ve started actively thinking about them as collections of trade offs and things that have been tried before in different context or time.
895 days ago
“I am forever advising people, "Why hit Reply when the Block button is right there?"

But the struggle is real. I feel it too, especially these last few days. There are so many people who are wrong on the internet. So many! You don't owe them your time. Block with righteous glee.”
Washington, DC
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