Are Workers Finally Returning to Offices in San Francisco?

The San Francisco Chronicle reports: San Francisco's office occupancy rate continued its spring recovery, rising above New York and San Jose last week, according to a review by a building security firm. After four months of increases, 33.4% of San Francisco workers were back at their desks last week, higher than New York's 32.9% and San Jose's 31%, but still behind seven major cities in security firm Kastle's Back to Work Barometer.... The city of Austin has consistently had the highest office occupancy tracked by Kastle and was at 58% last week, followed by fellow Texas cities Houston and Dallas. [And Los Angeles charts at around 40%] Both San Francisco Mayor London Breed and New York Mayor Eric Adams have urged firms to bring back workers to the office to help revitalize urban streets and the broader economy. "You can't stay home in your pajamas all day," Adams said at an event in February. "That is not who we are as a city. You need to be out, cross-pollinating ideas, interacting with humans. It is crucial. We're social creatures, and we must socialize to get the energy that we need as a city...." Around a fifth of San Francisco office space remains vacant and rents have been flat. That's better than during the omicron surge, when occupancy in New York and San Francisco was around 10%. (According to the article, citing figures from Kastle.) But there's also other metrics. The newspaper notes that the number of people exiting the stations for the San Francisco's public rail system "were up in the first three months of the year but still only around a quarter of pre-pandemic levels."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

War for Ukraine Update 66: The Face of War

(The Face of War by Daria Marchenko)

Commenter Jay sent me the image and suggested it for tonight’s post. Ms. Marchenko created it back in 2015 after Putin’s initial invasion of Ukraine. Here’s the details on it from the Australian Broadcasting Company aka ABC:

A young Ukrainian artist has captured global media attention by creating a striking portrait of Russian president Vladimir Putin out of 5,000 bullet shells collected in the separatist east.

Daria Marchenko’s The Face of War – a realistic and politically tinged depiction of Mr Putin in a dark suit and red tie – stands more than two metres tall and dominates the artist’s studio apartment.

“Sleeping in the same room with him was a bit scary at first. But I got used to it,” the 33-year-old artist and graphic designer said.

The 62-year-old Russian leader’s face changes expression under different light, his deep-set eyes turning from gloomy to more light-hearted.

Marchenko – her own right eyebrow pierced and fingers weighed down by heavy metal rings – demonstrates by drawing the window curtains and shining a hand-held lamp around her work.

“He can be proud, confused or serious,” she said.

“He can look like a person on a Soviet poster or he can be Superman.”

Her story has been covered by Britain’s top media outlets and major European and Australian papers and television channels.

But the artist has received barely a mention in Russia – Ukraine’s giant neighbour where Mr Putin’s approval rating is huge and denial of any involvement in the 16-month conflict is ever-present in the state-dominated media.

Only Russia’s popular Moskovsky Komsomolets broadsheet broke ranks by devoting a two-sentence paragraph to Marchenko’s work last month.

Marchenko has not concealed her deep-seated suspicion Putin personally instigated a conflict that has killed nearly 7,000 people since breaking out after Kiev’s ouster of a Kremlin-backed president.

“When people see his expression change, it reveals certain things,” she said.

“To me, this war is different from all others because it is built on a lie”.

Buckets and wooden crates filled with bullet cases occupy the centre of the artist’s small room.

Her first handful of shells came from her boyfriend, an active member of the Euromaidan movement that toppled the corruption-stained and deeply unpopular president Viktor Yanukovych and forced him into self-imposed Russian exile.

But her art supplies now come from friends fighting across the war zone in eastern Ukraine’s industrial heartland.

Much more at the link.

Here’s today’s address by President Zelenskyy. Transcript after the jump.

Unbreakable people of the bravest country!

Today we marked the Border Guard Day. It is clear that there can be no celebrations during the war. But it is necessary to support Ukrainian men and women who defend the state in the ranks of the Border Guard Service.

Since the first days of the war – and not only since February 24, but also since 2014 – border guards have been bravely defending Ukraine. They fulfill combat missions. They were the first to face the Russian invaders at the state border. They are under daily shelling. They are fighting side by side with the Armed Forces of Ukraine, with our National Guard, with the National Police, with the territorial defense and all those who stood up for our state.

In particular, they are fighting in Mariupol, heroically defending our city. 340 border guards – our heroes. I talked to them today. Congratulated them. Thanked them.

I am grateful to everyone whose professional day was today. I had the honor to present state awards to border guards who distinguished themselves in the battles for our state.

The occupiers are accumulating additional forces for new attacks against our military in the east of the country. They built up reinforcements in the Kharkiv region, trying to increase pressure in Donbas. They have already lost more than 23,000 soldiers in the battles of this senseless war for Russia. But they do not stop.

We know that the Russian command is preparing for new big losses.

In those units, the personnel of which was almost completely destroyed or significantly weakened in March-April, new people are being recruited. With little motivation. With little combat experience. They just want to get the right amount. So that they can throw these units into the offensive.

The Russian command is well aware that thousands more Russian soldiers will be killed and thousands more will be wounded in the coming weeks.

But why do the Russian soldiers themselves need this? Why do their families need this? Russian commanders lie to their soldiers saying they will face some serious responsibility for refusing to fight. And at the same time they do not tell, for example, about the preparation by the Russian army of additional refrigerators for storing corpses. They do not tell what new “planned” losses the generals expect.

Every Russian soldier can still save his life. You’d better survive in Russia than die on our land.

Our defenders have already destroyed more than a thousand Russian tanks. Almost two hundred Russian aircraft. Almost two and a half thousand armored fighting vehicles. Of course, the occupiers still have equipment in stock. Yes, they still have missiles to strike at our territory. But this war has already weakened Russia so much that they have to plan even fewer military equipment for the parade in Moscow.

We are actively communicating with partners to enhance sanctions on Russia. For Mariupol, for all the destroyed cities and communities of Ukraine, for war crimes against our people. For missile and air strikes at the territory of Ukraine.

Today the occupiers again fired missiles at the Dnipropetrovsk region and Odesa. Again and again, Russian troops prove that the people of Odesa are the same enemies for Russia as all other Ukrainians. The runway of the Odesa airport was destroyed. We will, of course, rebuild it. But Odesa will never forget such a Russian attitude towards it.

We expect a decision on oil restrictions against Russia in the near future. We insist that a fair part of sanctions against Russian oil should be the blocking of any attempts by Russia to circumvent restrictions through the sale of so-called oil blends. If any company or state helps Russia trade oil, it must also face sanctions. Any sponsorship in the interests of the Russian military terrorist machine must end.

I spoke today with President of France Emmanuel Macron. On various areas of cooperation between Ukraine and France, especially on defense. Also – on cooperation on Ukraine’s path to the European Union. We are moving towards the political formalization of what is already a fact: Ukraine has become an integral part of a united Europe.

I also spoke with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. On defense support for Ukraine and other efforts necessary to end the war.

I informed Boris about the current situation on the battlefield in the areas of active clashes and in detail about the situation in our east, in Mariupol, in the south of the country.

All the leaders of the free world know what Russia has done to Mariupol. And Russia will not go unpunished for this.

Many of the leaders are trying to help save our heroic defenders of the city. This was discussed in great detail with the UN Secretary-General during his visit to Kyiv. We are doing everything to ensure that the evacuation mission from Mariupol is carried out.

I held talks with President of Switzerland Cassis. Thanked for the humanitarian support of Ukraine and Ukrainians. The mediating role of Switzerland in helping Ukrainians who found themselves in Russia was discussed. Preparations for the conference on postwar reconstruction of our state were also discussed.

We are doing everything to return normal life to the de-occupied part of our Ukraine. The work of humanitarian offices has already begun in 93% of de-occupied settlements.

We are actively demining the liberated territory. Every day several dozen settlements are added to the list of those where demining has been completed. 69% of de-occupied settlements are again with full-fledged local self-government. We are restoring electricity supply, communications, water supply and gas supply. We are doing everything to return normal medicine, educational services, access to financial institutions. We are restoring roads.

Of course, there is still a lot of work ahead. The occupiers are still on our land and still do not recognize the apparent failure of their so-called operation. We still need to fight and direct all efforts to drive the occupiers out. And we will do it. Ukraine will be free.

Kherson, Nova Kakhovka, Melitopol, Berdyansk, Dniprorudne and all other temporarily occupied cities and communities in which the occupiers are now pretending to be “masters” will be liberated.

The Ukrainian flag will return wherever it should be by right. Return with a normal life, which Russia is simply unable to provide even on its own territory.

I signed a decree on awarding our defenders – warriors of the National Guard of Ukraine. 133 national guards were awarded state awards, 11 of them posthumously.

Eternal memory to all who died for Ukraine!

Eternal glory to everyone who stood up for the state!

Glory to Ukraine!

Here’s today’s operational update from Ukraine’s MOD:

The operational update regarding the russian invasion on 18.00 on April 30, 2022

The sixty-sixth day of the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people to a russian military invasion continues.

russian enemy continues to conduct full-scale armed aggression against Ukraine and offensive operations in the Eastern Operational Zone.

In the Slobozhansky direction, a group of russian enemy troops continues to launch air strikes and artillery shelling on the city of Kharkiv.

In the Izium direction, russian occupiers, with the help of independent units of the 1st Tank Army and the 20th Combined Arms Army of the Western Military District, the 35th Combined Arms Army and the 68th Army Corps of the Eastern Military District, and airborne troops are trying to advance in the direction Izium – Barvinkove and Izium – Slovyansk.

russian enemy continues to concentrate forces and resources both in the temporarily occupied territories of the Kharkiv oblast and in the Belgorod region, in the immediate vicinity of the state border of Ukraine. Thus, the occupiers moved units of the 55th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade of the 41st Combined Arms Army of the Central Military District to the Volokhiv Yar settlement, and units of the 5th Independent Tank Brigade of the 36th Combined Arms Army of the Eastern Military District to Izyum.

russian enemy is increasing the air defense system, conducting air reconnaissance of the positions of units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine with the use of UAVs in the settlements of Velyka Komyshuvakha, Ivanivka, Chervone, Kurulka, Dovhenke, Nova Dmytrivka and Barvinkove.

russian occupation forces continue to carry out illegal actions in the occupied territories of Kharkiv region. According to available information, russian enemy is forcibly deporting the population to the territory of the russian federation. russian occupiers are spreading misinformation about the capture of Kharkiv, Kyiv and Zaporizhzhia.

In the Donetsk direction, russian enemy is conducting active hostilities along almost the entire line of contact. Air strikes and artillery shelling of Ukrainian defenders’ positions continue.

The main efforts of the enemy are focused on offensive operations in the Lyman, Severodonetsk, Popasna and Kurakhiv areas in order to take full control of the settlements of Rubizhne, Popasna and, probably, further attack on the Lyman, Slovyansk and Barvinkove.

In the Mariupol direction, russian enemy continued to launch air strikes on the city of Mariupol. The main efforts are focused on blocking units of the Defence Forces in the area of ​​the Azovstal plant.

In the Zaporizhzhia direction, russian enemy regrouped and increased artillery units in order to continue the offensive.

In the Tavriya direction, russian enemy continues to demonstrative actions in order to prevent the transfer of units of Ukrainian troops to other areas, replenishes stocks of ammunition and fuel and lubricants.

In the South Buh direction, russian occupiers forces of the 8th and 49th Combined Arms Armies, the 22nd Army Corps, the coastal units of the Black Sea Fleet of the Southern Military District and airborne troops are fighting to improve their tactical position. The enemy continues to regroup units, take measures to replenish supplies.

Preparatory measures of the enemy to carry out the offensive and reach the administrative border of the Kherson region are underway.

In the Mykolayiv direction russian enemy continues attempts of fire destruction of positions of our troops.

In the Bessarabian direction, russian occupiers are spreading misinformation about the threat to the population of the transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova from Ukraine.

In the Volyn and Polissya directions, units of the Armed Forces of the republic of belarus continue to perform tasks to strengthen the section of the Ukrainian-belarusian border in the Brest and Gomel regions.

It is possible that russian enemy will provoke in the border areas.

russian enemy remains in danger of launching missile and bomb strikes on military and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine. According to the available information, the russian mobile short range ballistic missile systems Iskander-M are still deployed in the territory of the republic of belarus, and some aviation units of the russian Air Force continue to be based at certain airfields.

In the Siversky direction, russian enemy continues artillery shelling of units of our troops and infrastructure in the border areas of Ukraine with the russian federation.

russian occupiers are launching missile and bomb attacks and carrying out artillery shelling of civilian infrastructure and residential areas in the settlements of Zaporizhzhia, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv oblasts.

russian enemy also continues to illegally detain Ukrainian citizens and tortures and torments them.

As a result of the offensive of the Ukrainian Defence Forces in the Kharkiv oblast, control over the settlements of Verkhnya Rohanka, Ruska Lozova, Slobidske and Prilesne was restored.

We believe in the Armed Forces of Ukraine! Let’s win together!

Glory to Ukraine!

We’ll get to Mariupol below, but the good news in today’s Ukrainian MOD update is they’ve reestablished control over five towns north of Kharkiv. This pushes the Russians even farther back and away from the city.

Here’s today’s updated assessment from the British MOD:

And here’s the British MOD map for today.

You can still see that the contested area between Izium and Luhanks is getting smaller.

There is no DOD backgrounder for today.


The Russians heavily bombarded the Azovstal facility over the past 24 hours. It’s defenders and those they’re defending are in serious jeopardy!

Yesterday The NY Times published an in depth piece of reporting on those defending Mariupol from the Azovstal complex and those seeking shelter with them:

The footage shows a child wearing a makeshift diaper crafted out of tape and plastic bags, asleep in a dank and moldy room. An elderly woman with a bandaged head is seen dressed in a uniform jacket, once worn by steel plant workers, as she shakes uncontrollably. And small children make plaintive requests. “We want to go home,” a girl says. “We want to see the sunshine.”

These scenes are from videos shared online in recent days by the Azov regiment, a unit in the Ukrainian military, which says they were taken in the mazelike bunkers beneath the sprawling Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine. Russian soldiers control the rest of the city, and fighting continues around the plant. The plant has become the last refuge for thousands of trapped Ukrainian fighters and civilians. There is no escape, and little chance of rescue.

The independent journalists who chronicled the siege of Mariupol for Western news media left a month and a half ago because the security risks were too great. The warring parties have stepped in to fill the vacuum of firsthand coverage, sharing content from the ground and, in Azov’s case, pleading for help to their hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.

With almost no cellphone service, electricity or access to the internet, Azov’s videos provide what could be some of the only glimpses into life at the steel plant.

Early Thursday, Azov fighters said Russian forces had bombed a field hospital within the plant, reportedly killing wounded soldiers and burying people in the rubble. Reports of the attack prompted renewed calls from Ukrainian officials and the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, for a humanitarian corridor to evacuate civilians.

Supplies within the plant are said to be running extremely low. “It is not a matter of days, it’s a matter of hours,” Mariupol’s mayor, Vadym Boychenko, told a news conference on Friday.

“If Mariupol is hell, Azovstal is worse.”

Russia views capturing the port city as crucial to its aim of securing a land bridge along Ukraine’s south to connect Crimea to the Donbas, and its forces have been shelling the plant relentlessly. The devastation there — city officials have said that tens of thousands of residents have been killed — stands as one of the largest humanitarian crises of the war.

“We are filming these videos to draw attention to the fact that they are at the plant, so that the enemy does not say there are no civilians here,” Capt. Svyatoslav Palamar, the deputy commander of the Azov regiment based at the factory, told The New York Times in a text message.

“So that they can be evacuated.”

The Times could not independently verify the exact location of the videos, but the interiors appear consistent with the design of the plant, and a former employee familiar with the premises confirmed that the images seemed to have been created there.

Since April 18, Azov has released several videos that focus on civilians who say they are trapped at the plant, and feature mostly women and children. “I want everyone who sees this video to help us create this green corridor, to help us leave here,” said one mother holding her toddler in a video released on April 24, when Ukraine was observing Orthodox Easter. “Safely. Alive. The civilians and the soldiers.”

Much more at the link!

Ukrayinska Pravda has the details on the Russian war crime that Ukrainian Member of Parliament Sovsun has tweeted:

WARNING! Sensitive content.

The mother of a Ukrainian military prisoner in Mariupol named Dan received a photo of her dead son on the morning of April 30.

Source: mother of the soldier in a comment to “Ukrainska Pravda”

Details: The mother said that Dan was surrounded by the Russians on 19-20 April and had appeared in a video made by Russian propagandists.

On the morning of April 30, she was sent a photo in which she recognized her son.

I watched the video so you don’t have to. I’m not posting it.

If the Ukrainian military cannot find a way to break the Russian siege of Mariupol, its defenders and those they are defending are going to give, as Abraham Lincoln once described it, the last full measure.



Someone at the coffee shop is unimpressed!

Jolie is a UN envoy regarding refugees.

Pretty much everywhere in Ukraine:

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) has published a report on the sabotage campaign within Russia:

Early in the morning on April 27, a drone crashed in a muddy field southwest of the Russian city of Kursk, around 100 kilometers northeast of the border with Ukraine. Locals tracked down the destroyed device not long after, and posted photographs to Telegram and other social media.

The device appeared to be a Bayraktar TB2, a versatile Turkish-designed unmanned aerial vehicle capable of long-distance surveillance as well as dropping guided bombs or firing anti-tank missiles.

It wasn’t the Russians who were flying the drone.

And that wasn’t the only unusual thing that happened in that part of Russia that same morning: There were also two unexplained explosions at Russian military and industrial sites — one in Kursk and one near Voronezh, not far to the east.

Nor does it appear to have been Russians who flew low-altitude attack helicopters in the pre-dawn hours of April 1 around the time that a fuel depot exploded less than 50 kilometers from the Ukrainian border.

Since February 24, Russian forces have laid waste to towns and cities in northern, eastern, and southern Ukraine, killing thousands of civilians and forcing millions to flee in a war that prompted the West to punish Moscow with sanctions and send massive supplies of military aid and support to Kyiv.

Ukrainian forces thwarted an offensive aimed at taking Kyiv in the war’s early weeks, prompting Russian troops to withdraw from close to the capital. Much of the fighting is now focused on the region known as the Donbas and other areas in the east and south.

Away from the active battlefronts within Ukraine, though, there’s a less bloody, less prominent front in the two-month-old war, a shadow campaign that has included attacks on military and industrial targets in Russia itself.

It’s not clear how many incidents have occurred, or whether they resulted from air strikes, or missiles, or sabotage. An unofficial tally by RFE/RL, based on open-source reporting, counts at least a dozen since the war’s beginning.

The preponderance of evidence points directly at Ukraine, but the attacks have gone largely unheralded by Kyiv.

They’ve also been played down by Russia — for reasons that, analysts said, include embarrassment that its formidable military is unable to protect the country from being attacked from a foreign location.

Some of the incidents may also have a more mundane explanation, said William Alberque, director of strategy, technology, and arms control at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies: negligence or corruption in Russia and its armed forces.

“On the one hand, you have to understand that Russia is moving ammunition at scale, so accidents are going to happen,” Alberque told RFE/RL. “But once you get over, what, 22 accidents in 60 days? Then you are also going to be looking at enemy action.”

“Some of it is bravery, some of it is incompetence, some of it is Russian corruption, but let’s not get bogged down in the details,” he said. “The larger picture is that this is incredibly poor Russian planning, incredibly poor Russian execution; they’ve allowed infiltration of their airspace, and by missiles.”

Much more at the link!

Last night in comments commenter Cameron asked if I’d seen a couple of articles/columns/opinion pieces and asked what I thought and if they were legit. I tracked them both back to their sources. The first tracks back to Max Blumenthal’s anti-American agitprop website. You had to read really carefully at the bottom of the post to find that out. Then at Blumenthal’s site you had to expend a lot of work to find the about page that tells you whose site it is. These are themselves red flags. The fact that it was originally published by Blumenthal’s site tells me its agitprop. The second site doesn’t even have an about page, is named for the guy who owns/runs it, but does have a list of regular contributors. One of them is an American “comedian” who was a regular on RT until it was shut down.

Let’s leave it there for tonight.

Your semi daily Patron:

Your semi daily Chef Jose Andres:

Open thread!

The post War for Ukraine Update 66: The Face of War appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Fedora’s Lead Speaks on the Popularity of Linux and the Importance of Open Source

Fedora project leader Matthew Miller spoke to TechRepublic's Jack Wallen this week, sharing some thoughts on the future of Linux — and on open source in general: Matthew Miller: I think it's a lost cause to try to "sell" our quirky technology interest to people who don't see it already. We need to take a different approach.... I think our message, at its root, has to be around open source.... [W]ith Linux, when you install an open-source distro, you're not just part of a fan community. You're part of a colossal, global effort that makes software more available to everyone, makes that software better and better, and makes the whole world better through sharing... Just by using it you're sharing in this amazing undertaking, part of a move away from scarcity to an economy based on abundance.... Jack Wallen: What's the biggest difference in Linux today vs. Linux of 10 years ago? Matthew Miller: I think first we have to start with just the amazing ubiquity of it. Ten years ago, it was cute to find a TV that ran Linux. Now, not only is it definitely powering your TV, you've probably got Linux running on your lightbulbs! It's everywhere. And while Linux had pushed proprietary Unix from the server room, ten years ago Windows-based servers were pushing back. The cloud changed that — now, the cloud is Linux, almost completely. (Anything that isn't is a legacy app that it was too much trouble to port!) From tiny devices to the most powerful mainframes and supercomputers: Linux, Linux, Linux.... Jack Wallen: If Linux has an Achilles' heel, what is it? Matthew Miller: Linux and the whole free and open-source software movement grew up with the rise of the internet as an open communication platform. We absolutely need that to continue in order to realize our vision, and I don't think we can take it for granted. That's more general than an Achilles' heel, though, so right now let me highlight one thing that I think is troubling: Chrome becoming the dominant browser to the point where it's often the only way to make sites work. Chromium (the associated upstream project) is open source, but isn't really run as a community project, and, pointedly, very very few people run Chromium itself. I'd love to see that change, but I'd also like to see Firefox regain a meaningful presence. Miller also said Fedora's next release is focused on simplicity. ("When the OS gets in the way, it drops from the conversation I want to have about big ideas to ... well, the boring technical details that people never want to deal with") And he also shared his thoughts on what Linux needs most. "What I'd really like to see more of are more non-technical contributors. I mean, yes, we can always benefit from more packagers and coders and engineers, but I think what we really need desperately are writers, designers, artists, videographers, communicators, organizers and planners. I don't think big companies are likely to provide those things, at least, not for the parts of the Linux world which aren't their products." "We need people who think the whole grand project I've been talking about is important, and who have the skills and interests to help make it real."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

50 Years After Walking on the Moon, an Astronaut Anticipates Our Return

In 1972 — half a century ago — Charles Moss Duke walked on the moon. Now 86 years old, he's ready for America to get back to exploring the moon, reports the Associated Press: Duke said he does not begrudge NASA for ending the Apollo program to focus on space shuttles, the international space station and other missions in more remote parts of space. But he looks forward to future missions that build off of what he and others have learned from their time on the moon, which called "a great platform for science." Duke also noted that he's encouraged by the commercial partnerships that have developed around space exploration, like Space X and Blue Origin [and the companies he describes in their video as "the others"]. Those options, he said, "make space available for more people and more science and engineering and unmanned stuff." "That compliment is going to be really important in the future," Duke went on. The article notes the first of NASA's huge Space Launch System rockets is scheduled to blast off later this year, "with crewed flights planned subsequently." In the video interview, Duke adds that "With Artemis, NASA is going to be focused on deep space, to the moon and beyond, and I'm excited about that..." "The more people we get into space, and can see the beauty of the earth — and the incredible emotion that you [feel] when you see the earth hung in the blackness of space — it's going to affect a lot of people."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Saturday Evening Open Thread: MBA Thesis — White Bros With Money Can Never Fail*

2/ As long as we’re on this topic, it’s worth noting that the things that make a lot of people like Twitter are closely tied to its lack of profitability. Not saying there’s no way to square that circle. But it’s hard. One of the key reasons Twitter doesn’t make money …

3/ is that it simply lost or was late to a race that was mostly won by Facebook and the Google ad ecosystem. But there’s something more specific. Twitter doesn’t have a lot of ads. You ever notice that? I certainly have. That’s a problem for Twitter. The other thing …

4/ is that while Twitter also spoils the “free speech” model by actually running things by engagement centered algorithms, it makes it much easier to opt out of than Facebook and Instagram do. As a user I love that. But that cuts hard against the prevailing …

5/ profitability models of social networks. To a significant degree they’re letting you opt out of the business model. My point here isn’t that Twitter can’t be profitable. My point is that it’s very complicated. The reason the current and past managements haven’t figured it …

6/ out yet isn’t that they’re idiots as Musk seems to think. Here’s what it reminds me of. Over the course of its history TPM has been ad based, then membership based and also sorts of different mixes along the way. Over the years when someone didn’t like the ads or didn’t …

7/ like something about the membership fees they’d write in and say something like, you’re missing the obvious thing: merchandize. You should fund this thing by selling shirts and mugs and other TPM products. This is sort of like telling a family of ten that they …

8/ don’t need to have money troubles when there are so many aluminum cans out there just waiting to be collected together and taken to the recycling center for real cash money. These suggestions were always well meaning but they were always examples that the suggester …

9/ had zero idea about anything tied to the mechanics and business realities of digital publishing. The kind of bright idea you get when you have zero idea what you’re talking about. When Musk is telling banks he has an idea to charge for embedding tweets, that’s …

10/ basically the platform equivalent of saying just sell shirts. It’s when you not only have no good ideas or any idea what you’re talking about but no one has even walked you through the cliche bad ideas.

* As long as there are other white guys with money to rip off…

The post Saturday Evening Open Thread: MBA Thesis — White Bros With Money Can Never Fail* appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Apple Extends Its Grace Period for Deleting Old (and Unpopular) Apps from Its App Store

"As a response to recent coverage of software being purged from the App Store, Apple is sharing its criteria for how it chooses to remove abandoned apps," reports 9to5Mac. Apple's announcement say it's only flagging apps for possible removal "that Developers will also have more time to comply after being notified." (90 days instead of 30 days). And 9to5Mac adds that Apple "is also reiterating that the practice is not new but instead part of an initiative that started six years ago. But the Verge took a different message from "Apple to developers: if we deleted your old app, it deserved it." [T]he company has responded — by issuing a press release effectively saying that nobody was downloading the apps anyways.... Apple's explanation does clear up why it, as some developers noted, seemed to apply the rules inconsistently. For example, one developer noted that Pocket God, a popular game from the iPhone's early days, hasn't been updated for seven years but is still on the App Store. Apple is basically saying it's still up because it's still popular. From one angle, this reasoning doesn't necessarily gel with the first half of Apple's post, where it says it removes old apps to ensure "user trust in quality apps," and to improve discoverability, security and privacy, and user experience. After all — if an app is problematic because it's outdated, more downloads would make a bad app a bigger issue. Who's being harmed if there's an outdated app almost no one is downloading? But Apple says it doesn't want the App Store cluttered up with apps that both developers and users have forgotten about. It has enough problems making it easy for users to find good apps as it is, and it's easy to imagine Apple seeing deleting old, seemingly irrelevant apps as a good solution.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Consortium is Creating ‘Passports’ to Track Contents and Repair History of Europe’s EV Batteries

Slashdot reader schwit1 shares this report from an automotive blog called The Truth About Cars: A group of German automakers, chemical concerns, and battery producers have announced the joint development of a "battery passport" designed to help government regulators trace the history of the cells. The consortium is funded by the German government and is supposed to work in tandem with new battery regulations that are being prepared by the European Union. According to the German economic ministry, officially the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, the overarching plan is for the EU to mandate traceable hardware be installed in all batteries used in the continent by 2026. Those intended for use in electric vehicles are up first, with the passport scheme also serving to chronicle everything from the vehicle's repair history to where the power cell's raw materials were sourced. Reuters reports that batteries "could carry a QR code linking to an online database where EV owners, businesses or regulators could access information on the battery's composition." This digital tool should also make it easier to recycle raw materials inside batteries, the government statement said, which would cut dependence on foreign suppliers which control the vast majority of resources, like lithium and nickel, essential for battery production.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

US Seeks to Steal Putin’s Top Scientists by Loosening Their Visa Requirements

"The Biden administration has a plan to rob Vladimir Putin of some of his best innovators," reports Bloomberg, "by waiving some visa requirements for highly educated Russians who want to come to the U.S., according to people familiar with the strategy." One proposal, which the White House included in its latest supplemental request to Congress, is to drop the rule that Russian professionals applying for an employment-based visa must have a current employer. It would apply to Russian citizens who have earned master's or doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics in the U.S. or abroad, the proposal states. A spokesman for the National Security Council confirmed that the effort is meant to weaken Putin's high-tech resources in the near term and undercut Russia's innovation base over the long run — as well as benefit the U.S. economy and national security. Specifically, the Biden administration wants to make it easier for top-tier Russians with experience with semiconductors, space technology, cybersecurity, advanced manufacturing, advanced computing, nuclear engineering, artificial intelligence, missile propulsion technologies and other specialized scientific areas to move to the U.S. Biden administration officials have said they've seen significant numbers of high-skilled technology workers flee Russia because of limited financial opportunities from the sanctions the U.S. and allies have imposed after Putin's invasion on Ukraine. The provision would expire in four years.

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Tennesseans Now Able To Deworm Their COVID Without A Prescription

Governor Bill Lee has signed a bill that will allow people who believe, despite all available evidence, that Ivermectin can treat COVID-19, to get it without a prescription at a local pharmacy instead of at a feed store. This is very exciting news for people who are very wrong about things, and has been described by the Tennessee Conservative as "giving residents access to treat COVID-19 without a prescription," which it is not, because Ivermectin does not do anything to treat COVID-19.

That same site very seriously reports that this means that "Adults can complete a sheet giving information regarding pre-existing conditions, describe their current symptoms to the pharmacist, and the pharmacist can then dispense the correct dosage for that patient," which does not actually exist, because Ivermectin in correct or incorrect doses does not do anything to treat COVID-19.

On the bright side, should the dopes that take this end up in a bad way from taking it, they will not be able to sue the pharmacist that was forced to prescribe it to them.

The bill reads:

AMENDMENT #1 rewrites the bill to authorize a pharmacist to provide ivermectin to a patient, who is 18 years of age or older,, pursuant to a valid collaborative pharmacy practice agreement containing a non-patient-specific prescriptive order and standardized procedures developed and executed by one or more authorized prescribers.

This amendment requires the board of pharmacy to adopt rules to establish standard procedures for the provision of ivermectin by pharmacists, including rules to provide the patient with a standardized fact sheet regarding ivermectin.

This amendment provides that a pharmacist or prescriber acting in good faith and with reasonable care involved in the provision of ivermectin under this amendment is immune from disciplinary or adverse administrative actions for acts or omissions during the provision of ivermectin. Also, a pharmacist or prescriber involved in the provision of ivermectin under this amendment will be immune from civil liability in the absence of gross negligence or willful misconduct for actions authorized by provisions of this amendment.

You know what? If people are that desperate to own the libs by taking medication that does not work and could give them seizures, then they should be free to do that. At this point, I feel the same way about this as I do with drugs that actually are illegal — it's better to "legalize" and try to make things as safe and unlikely to end in death as possible, since people are going to use them anyway. That's all you can do. Either they're going to get it from a pharmacist or they're going to get it from the farm, nothing we can do about it. We've shouted from the rooftops for at least a year now, and if they haven't gotten the message by now, no one can help them.

The truly obnoxious thing is that they want it to be treated like a medication that will actually do something to treat covid, and they want the pharmacists to play along and pretend like it will, doling out "fact sheets" and the like. That's what's dangerous.

A similar bill proposed in Ohio this week will force doctors to "promote and increase distribution" of Ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine and tell their patients that these drugs have been proven to be effective in treating COVID-19, despite the fact that they have not been.

“This is securing that right for an individual to make, with consultation with their health care provider, the best decision for their health care plan,” said the bill's co-sponsor, Republican Ron Ferguson. Of course, if a doctor is required by law to promote something even if they, as a doctor, know it to be unsafe, that is not actually so much making a decision in consultation with their patient as it is with the government.

At this point, they may as well require doctors to prescribe homeopathic tinctures and that magic drinking bleach all of the conspiracy theorists love. Really, what's the difference? Well, other than the fact that it is impossible to overdose on homeopathic tinctures, on account of the fact that they are literally just water.

Republicans have long lobbied for the state's right to interfere in the patient-doctor relationship, frequently forcing doctors to lie to abortion patients about fake potential risks and non-existent "abortion pill reversals" and give them unwanted and unneeded transvaginal ultrasounds meant to emotionally manipulate them into having a baby they don't want.

There is a reason why prescriptions exist, and why one must be secured, from a doctor with years of training, before taking certain medicines. Because people who don't have that training are not qualified to make those decisions. It's one thing to say "Hey, I was looking into this kind of birth control, what do you think?" and another to say "I would like to take oxycontin as a birth control pill!" and demand the doctor give you a prescription even though it's not going to do anything for you. We have enough problems with doctors prescribing certain medications based on which pharmaceutical companies give the best perks, we don't need this nonsense.

This does not seem like a thing that will end well.


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