The Billionaire

Thinking about yesterday’s NYT article on Trump’s taxes, it appears that not only is Trump not a billionaire, he’s hardly even a businessman. He has two enterprises – his image as a businessman, and cheating on taxes.

He doesn’t own the assets that make him appear wealthy, his businesses do. He doesn’t buy his haircuts or dinners, he invests in businesses that take a loss on them.

He’s hardly even a millionaire, given that his assets mainly exist to pay his personal expenses, his profits almost zero out, and his personal debt of $300 million far outweighs his profit.

On the whole the Trump Organization is a grift, a fake, an illusion, a con. It only appears to be a legit business because of the scale of the lie.

Update: Forbes makes the case that his assets are still at least $1B > his debt:

In fact, Trump is a multibillionaire, worth $2.5 billion, by our count. His portfolio, which includes commercial buildings, golf properties and branding businesses, is worth an estimated $3.66 billion before debt. The president has a fair amount of leverage—adding up to a roughly $1.13 billion—but not enough to drag his net worth below a billion dollars.

Chess Clock Meetings

What if meetings were like fast chess, where each player has a strict limit on total time? When you talk you start your chess clock. If you go over your budget you must be silent for the rest of the meeting.

You could also apply this to days as whole. You get 2.5 hours for all meetings together, and when the limit is reached you must say no.


Shortages are a distinctive feature of the United States in the time of COVID and in the Trump years as a whole.

They are a new thing. In my lifetime the US has always been a place of plenty. In Trump’s strongman capitalism the economy comes second to his hold on power.

Shortages were a feature of the Soviet Union. I witnessed the strange dysfunction of the market visiting East German in the 1980s. It was like nothing I had ever seen until now.

The causes of shortages included:

  • Trump’s trade war with China. Tariffs. Retaliation.
  • COVID-related manufacturing, farming and distribution shutdowns
  • Closing of the schools, related to COVID. Move to remote learning.

Here are some shortages that come to mind.

  • Chromebooks (trade war, remote learning)
  • toilet paper (COVID)
  • meat (COVID)
  • eggs (COVID)
  • bikes (caused by trade war)

Be vewy vewy quiet

Though some Internet users are unaware of this fact, a large number of personal websites still exist in the Internet jungle. They can be found in the well-lighted regions, but Gopherspace and the darknets are more productive hunting grounds. Since search engines in the well-lighted areas of the Internet jungle are nearly blind to all but the most well-known personal websites, other hunting methods are more productive in those areas. Some of those methods are: looking for webrings, searching for personal website congregation points, and combing the blogrolls of previously-discovered personal websites.

Hunting the Nearly-Invisible Personal Website

This bit is interesting:

An interesting fact is that, thanks in part to the the near total absence of corporate predators and government species in the darknets, these areas are growing in number and size. More users are coming to the darknets in particular to breath in the wonderful aroma of a beautiful flower called “free speech”. Not many free speech flowers continue to bloom in the well-lighted areas of the Internet jungle. Almost all have now been trampled by corporate and government animals.

I like that idea, but I also know that a Tor blog would have less traffic than this one on ye olde WWW, if that’s even possible.

Woke up to my dream

Last night I dreamed about the wave of Republican cruelty under Trump. Yes, it was a political dream. In it I was painfully aware of the scope and depth of wrongs happening right now. I could feel them.

I woke up to a story about the first of three planned state killings being carried out.

In 2019, Barr moved to reinstate the federal death penalty after a nearly two decade lapse.

Daniel Lewis Lee, a convicted killer, was executed Tuesday morning in the first federal execution in 17 years after the Supreme Court issued an overnight ruling that it could proceed.Lee was pronounced dead by the coroner at 8:07 a.m. ET in Terre Haute, Indiana. His last words were “I didn’t do it. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life but I’m not a murderer. You’re killing an innocent man,” according to a pool report.The Supreme Court cleared the way for the resumption of the federal death penalty in an unsigned order released after 2 a.m. ET Tuesday.

Daniel Lewis Lee executed after Supreme Court clears the way for first federal execution in 17 years

Police shouldn’t have guns

Police could not shoot so many people if they didn’t have guns. As long as police do carry guns there will be a lot of shootings. It is rarely necessary to carry guns.

If you have a hammer everything looks like a nail. If you have a gun everything looks like something which calls for it. Those of us who are not carrying guns get by just fine. Police can do the same as anybody else.

There are not many situations which really demand guns. Among other reasons, suspects would be less inclined to reach for a gun if officers weren’t known to be carrying themselves. There is an arms race between suspects and law enforcement. If law enforcement stands down, suspects will too.

If a suspect has a gun, police don’t need to engage immediately. The suspect isn’t going to shoot them just for the hell of it. In the moment the police can put their hands up and hand over their wallets. They can get the suspect later.

There do exist rare situations which call for police with guns. When that happens the unarmed cop should call a specialist, like a SWAT team.

Outside of the US police don’t always wear guns. They get by fine using weapons with lower lethality.

In Manchester, England, where the number of deaths in the last 40 years is two. Sir Peter Fahy, the chief constable of the Greater Manchester Police, believes that the the number is the result of a radically different approach toward guns and mental health than we have in the United States. “The whole way that we train officers is that the absolute last resort is to use your firearm,” he says. “When you get into a situation, you assess the situation, you give yourself other options. And it starts from a position, always, that the best weapon is their mouth.” The vast majority have to use their mouths, or at least not firearms, because only 209 of the 6,700 officers in Manchester’s force are armed.

How British police officers keep the peace, without carrying guns

In a battle between a suspect who does not have a gun and a cop who does have a gun, the cop should never ever use their gun.

You can argue that guns are too common in the US for everybody to be armed but the police. But this is a problem created by 2nd amendment extremism. Guns should not be so common. We should not accept that broken situation. That police carry guns feeds into gun-nutism.

In that sense the reason there are so many police shootings is that gun nuts have put guns in so many hands. The cause of Breonna Taylor’s death and so many others is political obsequiousness towards guns. Which matters more, Black lives or plentiful guns?

The answer to that in American politics is clear: guns. We all know which way the scales will tilt. And this raises the question of whether that is by design. Do we have so many guns floating around out of fear of Black people? Are police carrying guns in the first place because of Blackophobia?

2 jams and a freakout

When Charles Lloyd was a teenager in 1950s Memphis, he played saxophone in a jazz and R&B band that crossed the Mississippi River to play the all-night roadhouses in West Memphis, Arkansas. Those clubs presented white country bands in the afternoons, and the ever-inquisitive Lloyd often checked them out. He was soon captivated by the sound of the steel guitar, an instrument that could slide through microtones like a trombone, squeal like a trumpet, and sizzle like an electric guitar. Ultimately, though, it sounded like nothing in the jazz world.