Sunday, May 21, 2023

'Shark Tank's' Kevin O'Leary, 'I have 54 companies in every state and nearly every sector, and we now know what the percentage is, it's just under 40 percent --- 40 percent are never coming back!' (VIDEO)

Office workers. Are the coming back in the new economy? 

Elon Musk say employees working from home are like Marie Antoinette: Let them eat cake! (Like the folks who have to deliver your groceries every day and can't "work from home.")

Kevin O'Leary is great.


Martha Stewart Becomes Sports Illustrated's Oldest Swimsuit Cover Model

She's amazingly hot at 81!

At WSJ, "At 81, the domestic goddess fronts the magazine in glamorous swimwear that leaves little to the imagination. Her motivation? ‘Showing people that a woman my age can still look good and feel good’."

Russia Retakes Bakhmut (VIDEO)

At the Wall Street Journal, "Bakhmut Is Largely Under Russian Control, Says Ukrainian General":

Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskiy says Ukrainian forces are still clinging to a tiny part of the city.

KOSTYANTYNIVKA, Ukraine—Ukrainian forces have lost effective control of the eastern city of Bakhmut, Ukraine’s top commander in the region said, as Moscow declared its first significant conquest since last summer after months of relentless fighting that has cost thousands of lives and obliterated the city.

Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskiy said Ukrainian forces clung to a tiny part of Bakhmut and were advancing around its flanks, but acknowledged that the city was largely under Russian control.

The city’s capture would mark the only significant success of a monthslong Russian offensive that has severely depleted its military.

The question of who really won the battle of Bakhmut, military strategists say, will be decided not by control over the shattered city but by the next phase of the war. Kyiv fought street by street and at great cost to grind down Russian forces and prepare its forces for its own offensive aimed at seizing back territory occupied by Russia. Fighting has also cut into Ukrainian forces after Kyiv committed additional units to its defense.

The fight for Bakhmut has highlighted how limited Moscow’s war aims have become. Russian media, which at the start of the war reported on its army’s lightning thrust toward Kyiv, has in recent days instead given daily updates on the fights for streets and even single buildings in a city once home to around 70,000 people.

That Ukraine was able to inflict very heavy losses on the Wagner group and Russian forces in Bakhmut for more than six months remains a success for the defenders, said Nico Lange, a former chief of staff to the German Defense Ministry and a fellow of the Munich Security Conference, a think tank.

“The complete takeover of Bakhmut does not make any strategic difference,” Lange, who visited the front lines as part of a study trip. “Ukraine will continue the defense in well-developed positions a little further west and at the same time may even get the Russians into trouble on the flanks.”

Ukrainian forces have been clinging to a shrinking patch on the western edge of Bakhmut for several weeks while launching counterattacks against Russian forces around the city.

On Saturday, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner paramilitary group that has been spearheading the offensive to take the city, said his forces had taken control of Bakhmut...

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Friday, May 19, 2023

Sohrab Ahmari, Tyranny, Inc.

At Amazon, Sohrab Ahmari, Tyranny, Inc.: How Private Power Crushed American Liberty--and What to Do About It.


On Instagram:

Sex and Candy

Marcy Playground:

Civil War at CNN as "Journalist" Christina Amanapour Attacks CEO Chris Licht for Daring to 'Platform' the Front-Runner for the Republican Nomination for President -- My Conclusion: Licht is a Dead Man Walking

At AoSHQ, "But this is a news organization, right? CNN staffers have been in a "fury" since the Trump townhall. In fact, they were angry about it even before Trump exposed Kaitlin Collins as a callow, hollow leftwing sloganeer."

Jamaal Bowman Finds His Voice. Some Republicans Don't Like the Sound


At NYT, "The Democratic congressman has made a habit of brashly confronting Republicans like Marjorie Taylor Greene, often in public displays meant to attract attention":

Many of his colleagues had already left for the night, but as Representative Jamaal Bowman, Democrat of New York, stepped out onto the Capitol steps on Wednesday, he had business left to do: heckling Republicans.

“Have some dignity!” he yelled toward Representative George Santos, the New York freshman who is fighting federal fraud charges, and to a sea of TV cameras waiting below.

“Listen, no more QAnon, no more MAGA, no more debt ceiling nonsense,” he said as he pivoted to another confrontation, this time with Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, who stood nearby. The theatrical back-and-forth ended as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a fellow member of the left-wing “Squad,” gave a slight tug to Mr. Bowman’s arm, repeating, “She ain’t worth it, bro” — but not before a handful of lawmakers whipped out cellphone cameras to capture the soon-to-be viral spat.

In this hyperpartisan era, the country has no shortage of politicians willing to savage each other from across a hearing room or on social media. But Mr. Bowman, a media-savvy democratic socialist from the Bronx, has rapidly made a name for himself this spring by going where most of them have not: up to his opponents’ actual faces.

Mr. Bowman’s platform includes far-reaching left-wing policies that split his party. Still, his style — “middle school principal energy,” he calls it — appears to have captured the id of even more moderate Democrats and has fueled party speculation about his ambition.

A video in which an AR-15-owning House Republican from Kentucky tells Mr. Bowman, 47, to “calm down” as they argue over how to stop gun violence has already been viewed more than seven million times. A friendlier confrontation, with a conservative House colleague, spawned a full CNN debate.

“I don’t mean any harm,” Mr. Bowman said in an interview. “I ain’t trying to hurt nobody. But we’ve got to take America to the next level, and we are not moving with urgency.”

The approach also carries risks, especially for a Black man, some of which came into sharp relief on Thursday. That is when Ms. Greene, a combative Georgian with a history of spouting conspiracy theories and directly confronting her own political opponents, said that she had felt threatened by Mr. Bowman, even though video showed her smiling as they sparred.

Ms. Greene said that Mr. Bowman had called her a white supremacist, an insult she claimed was “equal to” someone “calling a person of color the N-word.”

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She then said that the congressman’s “physical mannerisms are aggressive” and accused him of leading a “mob” targeting her when they both appeared outside a Manhattan courthouse where former President Donald J. Trump was being arraigned — an apparent reference to a crowd that consisted largely of members of the news media.

“I’m very concerned about Jamaal Bowman,” Ms. Greene said, “and he’s someone that people should watch.”

Target Earnings Squeezed as Shoppers Stick to Basics

Target's getting hammered. Their grocery business takes just 3 percent of the share of total grocery sales in the U.S. And folks aren't shopping for the quasi-fashionable Target brand --- Tar-Jay. 

Maybe Target's the next Bed Bath & Beyond?

At WSJ, "Consumers cut back on nonessential items as sales come in flat; rise in theft cuts into profit."

Monday, May 15, 2023

Sad-Posting on Tik-Tok

It's all bad for you, all of social media. 

These platforms seem to be getting worse, though. Either that, or more scrutiny is revealing how lethal they are.

At WSJ, "Self-harm, sad-posting and disordered-eating videos abound on the popular app":

Calls to ban TikTok in the U.S. are growing louder. Government leaders are trying to keep the popular China-owned social video platform away from schools, public workers, even entire states, on the grounds that users’ data could wind up in the wrong hands.

Data privacy, though, might be less worrisome than the power of TikTok’s algorithm. Especially if you’re a parent.

A recent study found that when researchers created accounts belonging to fictitious 13-year-olds, they were quickly inundated with videos about eating disorders, body image, self-harm and suicide.

If that sounds familiar, a Wall Street Journal investigation in 2021 found that TikTok steers viewers to dangerous content. TikTok has since strengthened parental controls and promised a more even-keeled algorithm, but the new study suggests the app experience for young teens has changed little.

What teens see on social media can negatively affect them psychologically. Plenty of research backs this up. The simplest evidence may be found in my earlier column about teens who developed physical tics after watching repeated TikTok videos of people exhibiting Tourette Syndrome-like behavior.

A TikTok spokeswoman said the company has a team of more than 40,000 people moderating content. In the last three months of 2022, TikTok said it removed about 85 million posts deemed in violation of its community guidelines, of which 2.8% were suicide, self-harm and eating-disorder content. It also considers the removal of content flagged by users. “We are open to feedback and scrutiny, and we seek to engage constructively with partners,” the spokeswoman added.

Two-thirds of U.S. teens use TikTok, and 16% of all U.S. teens say they’re on it near constantly, according to Pew Research Center. Kids’ frequent social-media use—along with the potential for algorithms to lure teens down dangerous rabbit holes—is a factor in the American Psychological Association’s new recommendations for adolescent social-media use.

The group this week said parents should monitor their younger kids’ social-media scrolling and keep watch for troublesome use. The APA also urges parents and tech companies to be extra vigilant about content that encourages kids to do themselves harm.

‘Every 39 seconds’ The Center for Countering Digital Hate, a nonprofit that works to stop the spread of online hate and disinformation, tested what teens see on TikTok. Last August, researchers set up eight TikTok accounts to look like they belonged to 13-year-olds in the U.S., the U.K., Canada and Australia. For 30 minutes, researchers behind the accounts paused briefly on any videos the platform’s For You page showed them about body image and mental health, and tapped the heart to like them.

TikTok almost immediately recommended videos about suicide and eating disorders, the researchers said. Videos about body image and mental health popped up on the accounts’ For You pages every 39 seconds, they added.

After the researchers published their findings, many of the videos they flagged disappeared from TikTok. Many of the accounts that posted the material remain. Those accounts include other videos that promote restrictive diets and discuss self-harm and suicide.

TikTok does take down content that clearly violates its guidelines by, for instance, referring directly to suicide. Videos where people describe their own suicidal feelings, however, might not be considered a violation—and wouldn’t fall under moderator scrutiny. They could even be helpful to some people. Yet child psychologists say these too can have a harmful effect.

TikTok executives have said the platform can be a place for sharing feelings about tough experiences, and cite experts who support the idea that actively coping with difficult emotions can be helpful for viewers and posters alike. They said TikTok aims to remove videos that promote or glorify self-harm while allowing educational or recovery content.

The company said it continually adjusts its algorithm to avoid repeatedly recommending a narrow range of content to viewers.

Sad and lonely

The Center for Countering Digital Hate shared its full research with me, including links to 595 videos that TikTok recommended to the fake teen accounts. It also provided reels containing all of the videos, some of which are no longer on the site. I also looked at other content on the accounts with flagged videos.

After a few hours, I had to stop. If the rapid string of sad videos made me feel bad, how would a 14-year-old feel after watching this kind of content day after day?

One account is dedicated to “sad and lonely” music. Another features a teenage girl crying in every video, with statements about suicide. One is full of videos filmed in a hospital room. Each of the hospital videos contains text expressing suicidal thoughts, including, “For my final trick I shall turn into a disappointment.”

Users have developed creative ways to skirt TikTok’s content filters. For instance, since TikTok won’t allow content referencing suicide, people use a sound-alike such as “sewerslide,” or just write “attempt” and leave the rest to the viewer’s imagination. Creators of videos about disordered eating have also evaded TikTok’s filters...

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Best Gifts for Mother's Day

Shop now, at Amazon, Mother's Day Gift-Finder

Kimberly Ells, The Invisible Family

At Amazon, Kimberly Ells, The Invincible Family: Why the Global Campaign to Crush Motherhood and Fatherhood Can't Win.

The U.S. Censorship and Laundering Complex

This is stunning.

Benjamin Weingarten's testimony before House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Accountability, May 11, 2023.

See, "“Censorship Laundering: How the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Enables the Silencing of Dissent”."

Schizophrenic Woman Arrested After Physically Attacking People on Chicago's Northside

The woman was apparently off her medication.

At the Other McCain, "Crazy People Are Dangerous."

BONUS: "In Terms of ‘Owning the Libs,’ Nobody Else Even Compares to Donald Trump."

Seattle Halts Mail Delivery to Southside

Mail theft has gotten so bad.

At Instapundit, "GOODER AND HARDER: Mail Delivery Halted for an Entire Zip Code in Seattle."

Lisa Kennedy Montgomery on the Fall of MTV News

This is so right on. She's awesome.


The Impending Thermidor Reaction in Jacobin America

It's Victor Davis Hanson, at American Greatness, "At peak woke, our reign of terror is beginning to lose momentum because its continuation would destroy all the work of 247 years of American progress and sacrifice":

The decade-long French Revolution that broke out in 1789 soon devolved into far more than removing the monarchy, as it became antithetical to the earlier American precedent. American notions of liberty and freedom were seen as far too narrow, given the state, if only all-powerful and all-wise, could mandate “equality” and force “fraternity” among its subjects.

Each cycle of French revolutionary fervor soon became more radicalized and cannibalistic—until it reached its logical ends of violent absurdity.

Originally, the idea of curbing the power of a Bourbon king through a parliamentary republic became lethally counter-revolutionary.

Soon even attacks on the Catholic Church and the abolition of the monarchy entirely were deemed insufficient. The king himself and his consorts had to be beheaded. Monasteries and churches were to be ransacked, and priests exiled or lynched.

The sometimes moderate Girondins, who favored constitutional government, were mostly executed by their former friends among the Montagnards. In turn, the latter were soon deemed too conservative for the emerging crazy Jacobins. So they, too, had to be decapitated. The ensuing year-long reign of terror guillotined thousands of innocents, deemed guilty of being guilty of something.

By 1793, the revolution had turned nihilist and suicidal. The foundational date of France was recalibrated (not as 1619 but) as 1789—or “year one.”

Jacobins sought to wipe out religion, both materially and spiritually. They replaced God, first, with the atheistic “Cult of Reason” and then a stranger still “Cult of the Supreme Being”—a dreamed-up, living, humanistic god that only the murderous Robespierre could fully envision, but eerily similar to our own Green New Deal deity.

The months of the year themselves were renamed, the days of the week renumbered and relabeled. Statues were toppled, first at night, later in shameless daylight. Place names were erased and renamed. The original revolutionary heroes were not to be mentioned; their uncouth successors deified. Money was printed to “spread the wealth”—until it was worthless.

Murderous cancel culture ran unchecked. Yesterday’s French revolutionary became today’s counterrevolutionary—and tomorrow’s decapitated.

Almost everyone who originally had opposed the absolute monarchy, and, like the Americans, wished for a constitutional replacement, was eventually executed by revolutionaries who were then executed by more radical revolutionaries. The longer and more radical the revolution ran, the meaner, dumber, and more deadly the revolutionaries who emerged from the woodwork.

Finally, what could not go on, did not go on, as French society unraveled. Then the so-called Thermidors put an end to the madness of the Robespierre brothers and their sidekick, the 26-year-old Saint-Just, and did to them what they had done to thousands.

The final revolutionary correction saw a Directory, then a Consulate, and finally the dictator Napoleon—the self-described emperor who claimed he was the final absolutist manifestation of the “Revolution.”

A Revolution of the Disingenuous

We are swept up in similarly scary revolutionary times, after the perfect storm of the 2020 rioting, the COVID destructive lockdowns, and a radical socialist takeover of the old Democratic Party...

Keep reading.


Robert Draper, To Start a War

At Amazon, Robert Draper, To Start a War: How the Bush Administration Took America into Iraq.

Naughty Girl

On Twitter.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

'There is no way Joe Biden can make it to election day next year...'

At Power Line, "THE BIDEN COUNTDOWN CLOCK": "His growing incapacity to function is becoming more obvious by the day."

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Demand for Property in Alys Beach, Planned Community on Florida's Panhandle, Has Soared Over the Past Few Years

 At the Wall Street Journal, "The Houses Must Be White, and the Designs Preapproved. Everybody Wants In":

When Covid hit in 2020, Iain and Ronni Watson were planning a cruise in Greece with their friends David and Jackie Weill. So instead of heading to the Mediterranean, the Watsons ended up visiting the Weills at their new home in Alys Beach, a coastal planned community on the Florida Panhandle. 
But the Watsons quickly discovered that Alys Beach had more in common with their intended destination than they thought. With its all-white, stucco homes and cobblestone streets, Alys Beach reminded them of the Greek Islands.

The Watsons were so besotted with the community that they made an offer on a five-bedroom home during the visit. By December, they had moved full-time from California to Alys Beach with their two daughters.

White walls and roofs are among the requirements that create the unusual aesthetic of Alys Beach, a 158-acre community on the Gulf of Mexico off Scenic Highway 30A. The look has proven popular with home buyers: Over the past several years, demand for homes there has increased and prices have ballooned, according to local real-estate agent Jonathan Spears with Compass. In the first quarter of 2023, the average sale price in Alys Beach was $5.74 million, up about 25% from $4.59 million during the same period of last year, he said.

“Most of the families that we’ve met here, 20 to 25 families, have bought in the last three years,” said Dr. Weill, 59, an organ-transplant specialist and author. He and his wife live primarily in New Orleans and spend about 170 days a year in Alys Beach.

When Alabama residents Elton B. Stephens and his wife, Alys Stephens, started vacationing on the Panhandle about 70 years ago, what is now Alys Beach was vacant land. At the time, the area had yet to become a popular vacation spot, according to their granddaughter, Alys Protzman. “I can only imagine what the roads must have been like,” she said. “Many people were not vacationing down there at that point.”

In the 1970s, Mr. Stephens purchased the land that would become Alys Beach through his company, the Birmingham-based conglomerate Ebsco Industries. The Stephens family held on to the land for decades as beach communities grew up around it. In the early 2000s, they felt the time was right to develop the land into a second-home community, Ms. Protzman said. They named it after her grandmother, Alys Stephens, who had died by the time construction commenced in 2004.

Ms. Protzman’s cousin, Jason Comer, spearheaded the project with urban planners AndrĂ©s Duany and Galina Tachieva of DPZ CoDesign. Mr. Duany had been part of a team in the 1990s that coined the term New Urbanism, which refers to the creation of mixed-use, walkable communities. DPZ CoDesign has been behind the design of several New Urbanist communities on the Panhandle, including Rosemary and Seaside.

In designing Alys Beach, Mr. Duany said the goal was to create a community that was both walkable and private. To do this, many of the homes are built around individual courtyards, a design that was inspired by courtyard homes in Guatemala. They are also close together, some sharing party walls, which creates a cohesive sea of white along the community’s narrow streets. “With the conventional American house, you need a large lot to achieve privacy,” Mr. Duany said, “but the courtyard provides privacy in a relatively small lot.” This allows Alys to have a high density and enough people to support the restaurants and public life, he said.

Most people in the community walk or ride bicycles, said Dr. Weill. “We stay most of the summer there, and I can go a month without getting into the car,” he said.

Home designs in Alys Beach must be approved by Marieanne Khoury-Vogt and her husband Erik Vogt, the designated town architects, and other members of a review committee. At first, the style of the homes in the community was inspired by Bermudian architecture, according to Mr. Duany. But it has since evolved into an unusual blend that includes everything from Mediterranean to Moorish influences, Ms. Khoury-Vogt said. Alys Beach has a list of approved builders and architects that homeowners can choose from, although they can apply to use a different architect.

White is the color of choice, Ms. Khoury-Vogt said, because it is timeless and reflects heat. (Elements such as doors, window surrounds, shutters and gates can be different colors, she said.) The absence of color pushes architects to give each house distinctive carvings and parapet walls, said Jeffrey Dungan, an architect who has been designing homes in Alys Beach for over a decade. Homes are also required to be masonry, although materials like wood, stone and metal can be used judiciously to introduce warmth and texture, Ms. Khoury-Vogt said.

There are also guidelines for vacation rentals in Alys Beach. In order for homeowners to rent out their homes, for example, they are required to have specific glasses, linens, and serveware: cotton-sateen blend Garnier-Thiebaut linens, and dinnerware and flatware from Fortessa. These items are purchased through the community’s vacation rental program.

Alabama-based real-estate agent Matt Curtis and his wife, Courtney Curtis, bought their four-bedroom, roughly 3,900-square-foot home in Alys Beach for about $6.4 million with the intention of spending a few weeks there with family, then renting it out the rest of the year. They spent about $5,170 to purchase the required linens, Mr. Curtis said, plus a $100 monthly replacement fee. No family photos can be displayed while a property is being rented, he said...

Friday, May 5, 2023

'Rochelle Walensky is a monster for what she did during the Covid pandemic...'

The CDC chief resigned this morning, rather abruptly, it turns out.

Here's Christina Laila, at Gateway Pundit, "BREAKING: Rochelle Walensky Resigns as CDC Director":

During the height of the pandemic, the CDC announced a 60-day moratorium on evictions.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky acted independently and signed the order – no congressional authorization needed. Walensky is queen and what she says goes...

Monday, May 1, 2023

Royal Oak Classic Briquets

At Amazon, Royal Oak Sales 192-294-328 7.7Lb Regular Charcoal, 7lb.

BONUS: Cuisinart CCG190RB Inch BBQ, 14" x 14" x 15", Portable Charcoal Grill, 14" (Red).

Uncool Blue Checks

Since anyone can get the blue check now, for $8.00, they're not that glamorous any more.

At the New York Times, "Are Blue Checks Uncool Now?":

Once a coveted status symbol, Twitter’s verification badge — which can be purchased for a monthly fee — is no longer fashionable, according to some users.

Twitter’s blue check mark was once a coveted status symbol. Now, some users are calling it “the dreaded mark” or that “stinking badge.”

Last week, Twitter began stripping the verification symbols from the profiles of thousands of celebrities, media personalities and politicians. The shift came as Elon Musk, the company’s chief executive, continued to roll out Twitter Blue, a subscription service that offers special features like tweet-editing in addition to the blue badge — for $8 a month.

Now that anyone can purchase a blue check, many users find the symbol newly uncool. The icon makes its owner appear “desperate for validation,” according to the rapper Doja Cat. To others, it signals support for Mr. Musk amid his bumpy takeover of the platform. Users who value the symbol enough to pay for it are being shouted over by a chorus of prominent users who say verification is no longer worth it.

Can the blue check remain desirable now that it has lost its air of exclusivity?

“The idea that you would pay for status, and that it’s something that’s not conferred upon you, seems to be fundamentally undesirable for people who have status,” said Robyn Caplan, a senior researcher at the Data & Society Research Institute.

Jacob Sartorius, 20, a musician and content creator, said he was elated to get a blue check in 2016. “It was an honor. It was kind of a symbol of, wow, something’s happening,” he said.

Mr. Sartorius said he would now rather spend $8 on a sandwich from Subway than on Twitter Blue. “It’s not something that’s cool anymore,” he said.

Twitter users’ self-consciousness when it comes to their blue checks speaks to the symbol’s evolution from a tool designed to prevent impersonation into a fickle marker of cultural relevance. Twitter introduced verification badges in 2009 during what Dr. Caplan called the “red carpet era” of social media, when companies were trying to coax celebrities and brands onto their platforms. The badges reassured public figures that they would not be impersonated, and the recognition served as an ego boost.

Because so many public figures received badges, and the faceless masses did not, jockeying for verification became something of a blood sport — and the blue check a symbol of victory. Guides proliferated online advising users on how to gain entry to the club.

Mr. Musk sought to undermine that two-tiered approach, which he called a “lords & peasants system.” He has framed Twitter Blue as a move to democratize the platform.

Waves of blue-check paranoia began to sweep across the platform last year, when Mr. Musk said he would soon start removing check marks from users’ profiles. After allowing the expected judgment day to come and go at the start of this month, Mr. Musk began removing the badges on April 20. (Mr. Musk has long shown an affinity for the number 420, which is often used to allude to marijuana, once dropping it into a tweet that landed him in hot water with the Securities and Exchange Commission.)

Mr. Musk did not respond to a request for comment, and an email to Twitter’s communications department was automatically replied to with a poop emoji...

Now that Musk let the rabble in, Twitter's no longer an insider's club of elite bad actors who have no interest in preserving the regular, majoritarian values of the this country.