Editorial | 2022.12.12

Which meme should I use?
Soccer Qatar World Cup meme USA England Washington Cox and Combs
Soccer Qatar World Cup meme USA England Washington Cox and Combs
Soccer Qatar World Cup meme USA England Washington Cox and Combs
6 foot 20 fucking killing for fun Gage
I vote number 2 Dan
But I like #3 for being topical
AWESOME. Put a beer in his hands Ryan
4chan meme Harry Kane Star Wars KO

This post is kind of hefty, so let's start with a couple of adorable pics from the zoo.
A couple of adorable pics from the zoo

Lizard zoo

Zoo snake Zoo giraffes
International soccer tournament

Stable diffusion soccer ball blood splatter

A couple of weeks ago I discussed in depth Qatar pulling the rug on Budweiser and stadium beer enjoyers. That was the light beer of World Cup controversies, as everyone is well aware.

"Rainbows are racism"

Qatar World Cup stadium rainbow stable diffusion

Early on, people were like, "can gay fans attend without getting arrested?" Arresting people en masse for their sexuality would be a bad look for FIFA and Qatar, so there seems to have been a modest compromise on the matter. But the extent to which people have to be outwardly in compliance with Qatar's faith-based laws seems to have shifted in recent months. And so the international community decided to twist Qatar's nips about it. Teams brought rainbow captain armbands and fans brought rainbow attire. FIFA banned the former, stadium security banned the latter.

Qatar's reverse uno card is to say that anyone criticizing their domestic policies is 'racist'. It'd make a lot more sense if laws or even their religious foundations had any relation to race or ethnicity. In the broader interpretation of racism as any bigotry, it is true that numerous western nations are condemning the faith-based laws of a soveriegn nation. But this isn't a particularly strong argument: "it is bigoted to call inferior our culture of treating others as legally inferior".

Meme World Cup Qatar Scottish Soccer Hooligan weekly

To Qatar's credit, they haven't arrested anyone (afaik) for their identity/sexuality and they declined to prosecute a pitch invader with a rainbow flag. On the other hand, that's not a very high bar. But this is FIFA, whose reform committee head in 2015 called soccer in the US "an ethnic sport for girls in schools". Francois Carrard may have just been lashing out at America's DoJ threatening FIFA's racket, but he could have been considerably less chauvinist and eurocentric about it. Likewise, European football still struggles with overt racism and disrespect for women's sport, so it's difficult to fully believe the international condemnation here.


Fifa Sepp Blatter money rain incident

Why was Carrard so indignant? Oh yeah, Loretta Lynch kicked the walls of FIFA and the whole rotten place came down. Well, CONCACAF too.

US DoJ "The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States," said Attorney General Lynch. "It spans at least two generations of soccer officials who, as alleged, have abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks. And it has profoundly harmed a multitude of victims, from the youth leagues and developing countries that should benefit from the revenue generated by the commercial rights these organizations hold, to the fans at home and throughout the world whose support for the game makes those rights valuable. Today's action makes clear that this Department of Justice intends to end any such corrupt practices, to root out misconduct, and to bring wrongdoers to justice ? and we look forward to continuing to work with other countries in this effort."?

So throw that on the pile of reasons to take a dim view of this tournament. Fast-forward to today, Blatter's successor Giovanni Infantino has been in full face-saving mode, redirecting concerns about theocratic rule to anecdotes about how he was bullied for being a ginger when he was a child.

"Excuse me, I booked a double wide"

Qatar world cup shipping container fan village

I might have praised the lack of arrests prematurely, maybe everyone's just hanging out in their shipping container between matches.

"Modern slavery"

Qatar World Cup stadium rainbow stable diffusion blood rain

Beer bans and FIFA corruption aren't great, but it's possible to laugh about them. Even the rainbow thing is just a mild controversy as long as no one gets hurt (beyond the usual, Harry Maguire-related injuries). But the real reason to take a dim view of this World Cup is that Qatar used an insidious form of indentured servitude to prey on destitute migrant workers, many of whom suffered preventable deaths. It's too serious of a topic for this blog, but it has to be part of a discussion of this World Cup. The only thing I'll add is that the whole hosting enterprise was meant to be a wealth flex, but how affluent can you be if need to resort to that?

Is all of this normal?

Russia world cup scary bleachers stadium

Yes and no. Four years ago the World Cup was held in a country that is currently leading the competition for North Korea of the Year, beating out Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and North Korea. But at least Russia could use existing infrastructure and/or just put up some bleachers.

Simpsons wigsphere

Eight years ago, Brazil built a bunch of facilities for the World Cup and Olympics. The investment drew a lot of criticism given the nearby areas' economic state. Many of these facilities now sit underutilized or abandoned. It's a pretty big waste for some momentary national prestige.

Is there a solution?

It's tough to find a modern government free from the taint of evil, but that doesn't mean FIFA can't draw the line at "no large scale military invasions or state-sanctioned slavery". They won't, but it's totally doable.

What about throwaway stadiums? Well, the 2026 Canada/US/Mexico World Cup will use these:

AtlantaMercedes-Benz Stadium
BostonGillette Stadium
DallasAT&T Stadium
HoustonNRG Stadium
Kansas CityArrowhead Stadium
Los AngelesSoFi Stadium
MiamiHard Rock Stadium
New YorkMetLife Stadium
PhiladelphiaLincoln Financial Field
San FranciscoLevi's Stadium
SeattleLumen Field
TorontoBMO Field
VancouverBC Place
GuadalajaraEstadio Akron
Mexico CityEstadio Azteca
MonterreyEstadio BBVA

They're all fully-built stadiums - or rinks, I assume the Canada ones are converted hockey arenas. The facilities might get a fresh coat of paint and some new urinals to really impress the international visitors, surrounding infrastructure will get updates. But the scale will be such that these cities can prepare for the event without abandoning occupational health and safety.

And while every country has some form of sovereign immunity, these governments are considerably more transparent and accountable than Qatar and Russia. Laborers, FAs, and FIFA have numerous vehicles for legal relief should any party attempt bribery, discrimination, or a last-minute beer ban.

Is the idea of favoring hosts with pre-existing infrastructure biased against small or developing nations? It sure is, but only in the traditional single-host paradigm. If Qatar had shared hosting honors with Bahrain, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and maybe Kuwait, they probably could have avoided the human rights disaster and eventual need to scrap or convert a bunch of 60,000 seat stadiums. Dubai to Riyadh is a third the distance from Sao Paulo to Manaus and a quarter of the distance from Toronto and Mexico City.

I'm not a World Cupologist, but I believe the multi-host model works. See: Canada/US/Mexico '26, Japan/Korea '02, and the Champions/Europa leagues. Automatic qualification would have to be reworked, but its far easier to tweak the competition rules than to police bribery and labor practices outside your sovereign domain.

Eng 1 - 2 Fra

Olivier Giroud goal England France 2022 World Cup

I must have missed a message... What's not coming home? Connie
England fans chant "it's coming home". It's not coming home this year because of Maguire. He is an English defender. He is really bad. It will be his fault. KO
You are all caught up. You are all set for Monday water cooler talk.
Might need to see the final score line first.
Brushing Flora and watching the game.
Olivier Giroud nods a header in, John Stones is near side marking no one, Harry Maguire is trying to come through his back. Narrator
Lol who else are you going to mark on a cross?
Theo Hernandez runs over Mason Mount, the ref misses it but awards the pen on VAR.
Now that's defending.
England have any interest in scoring from open play?
You can tweet that.
Hahaha. KO
Kane puts it over the bar. Narrator
Harry Kane't.
Harry Maguire is booked.
Maguire yellow card. Lols. KO

Elon Musk twitter elden ring style stable diffusion

Last month Elon was in the early stages of his Twitter rebuild. He culled much of the herd with a "pledge to be ultra-hardcore or take a package" email. The public's response seems to have fallen on either side of the political divide. To paraphrase:

The Right Elon is firing all of those SF liberals who personally suppressed my free speech. I hated this guy when he made electric cars but I love him now. Go Elon!

I don't doubt that Twitter has its share of "SF liberals", many of whom self-selected by taking the package. But it also has ITOps guys who listen to Joe Rogan and think taxation is theft. It also has whoever has fought the ideological battle in favor of unrestricted speech, effectively enough that it required a (confirmed) seditious conspiracy to finally get Trump booted. It also has developers who don't moderate content and are the reason there is a platform to fight over.

The Left Haha Elon is kneecapping the company he just overpaid for!

It would certainly be a story of arrogance that the world's wealthiest man managed to oust enough critical staff to destroy his $40b acquisition. I'm not so sure though. Here's the main reason: from the user standpoint, Twitter is more or less the same product as it has been since Jack Dorsey's first tweet (NFT is on discount btw). Sure they probably didn't host videos back then and the recommendation engine has been iterated upon. But Twitter is not, say, buying Oculus to try to move their aging user base into virtual reality. And unlike Facebook, Twitter is as successful as its ever been. In my mind, Twitter is closer to Google search than Facebook.

ESG teams

Twitter architecture whiteboard Elon Musk

Amidst the sensationalism, I heard a couple of concrete examples of teams that were dissolved entirely:
If you take Elon at his word, AI and free speech are amoral so governance of these things isn't necessary in his Twitter. If you believe Elon is full of shit, AI and free speech governance hurt his ability to repay creditors and are therefore unnecessary in his Twitter. In my experience, ESG boards tend to be more chaff than wheat, so in eliminating these roles Elon could also be trimming the fat (boat Elon best Elon). Considering every major tech company is in a hiring freeze and/or layoff period, the only things that set Twitter apart are how severe and how noisy their RIFs are.

The layoffs

They're pretty darn noisy. The anti-Musk crowd is quick to paint them as aimless, but perhaps he knows what he's doing, namely:
I'm going to sound like a crusty embedded developer who just doesn't understand the web stack, but Twitter's development burden seems minimal. Sure, there's scaling and browser/mobile API updates to keep up with, but compare that to kicking out a half-dozen new smartphone designs every year.

Months later, Twitter hasn't suffered any outages that I'm aware of. Maybe the platform isn't at risk, maybe these layoffs are only threatening Twitter's brand and its ability to compete with the next big social media thing.

Vox botuli

Elon Musk twitter trump poll

Elon claimed to be a free speech absolutist and kicked around the idea of blanket amnesty to legal, non-spam accounts. So it was obvious he'd bring @realDonaldTrump back, right? Strangely, Elon put his principles up to a vote. He posted a poll about reinstating Trump's account only months after claiming loudly that Twitter is full of bots.

The vote affirmed Elon's forgone decision, but Trump declared he would not to abandon his Twitter knockoff, TRUTH.

Tweet Call to Activism Trump Elon
Source. There was a lot of stuff like this.

The anti-Elon camp got all snarky, strangely ignorant of how unreliable the former president is.

Tweet Elon Musk drama Trump

People (and marketers) are sticking around because there's no good alternative (due to market share, not techonology). If Tiktok or Instagram or Mastadon could take Twitter's place, the tsunami of anti-Elon content would have been posted on another platform.

Send in the clowns

Trump was offered amnesty. So were Tubby Crocs Gun Kid and Jewish Space Laser Lady. Alex Jones, however, was excluded from Elon's free speech paradise because profiting from the death of children goes too far. I'm sure vox populi would agree but it is strange that they weren't asked.

Kanye West Ye last tweet boat Elon
It's amazing that Kanye went out with a Boat Elon (best Elon).

After being reinstated, Kanye didn't take long to find Musk's amnesty limits. Following Ye's batshit Alex Jones interview he went on a Twitter rant that got him banned for inciting violence.

Hunter's laptop

Elon Musk for president 2020 Trump Rage Against the Machine RATM
Well not literally since he's South African.

All of this reeks of bread and circuses. It's no secret that Elon has a track record of being controversial to suck the air out of an otherwise more controversial room. But since Twitter has no shareholders and there doesn't seem to be any other damaging Musk news, it's not clear why he would be grandstanding. He is being sued by the Tesla board for (something like) taking fulltime compensation while having a side project or two. Posting midnight selfies with the Twitter H1Bs and trying to drag Sir Elton John into an argument about disinformation doesn't seem helpful to his case.

The best I can come up with is that he's trying to groom the Twitter subscriber base for 2024.

Elon Musk What really happened with the Hunter Biden story suppression by Twitter will be published on Twitter at 5pm ET!

Well that's subtle. The alt-right loves the story of the MAGA computer repair guy who gave Hunter's laptop to (former White House cyber adviser) Rudy Giuliani who imaged it and sent the drive to Tucker Carlson who claimed (probably on advice of counsel) that it was lost in the mail.

If only John McAfee were still alive. Johnny Cyber would promise to find the missing hard drive, crack the FDE, use Hunter's Burisma credentials to make gas $1.00/gallon, and be snoozing under a hammock by midafternoon. But John McAfee is dead and we're stuck with Elon whose best efforts are to ride the controversy's coattails by posting Slack messages discussing it.

It's so meaningless, why would Elon even step in this? Perhaps it's just a one-off and he won't continue to court alt-right voters?

Elon Musk My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci


Elon Musk Twitter stable diffusion

If we work off the assumption that Elon's aggressively trying to make Twitter's financials look good to his creditors, the RIFs make sense. His embrace of fringe conspiracies might be a bold move to win over the alt-right crowd, but it gambles against the left/center's willingness to leave his platform.

I think we're looking at three possible scenarios:
  1. Elon's simply wealthy enough that he can use Twitter as a passion project. He'll buy out Saudi Arabia's share when he liquidates more Tesla stock.
  2. Musk correctly or incorrectly thinks alienating centrists/businesses and courting the alt right will be profitable (or a fast pass to some sort of advantageous bankruptcy).
  3. Elon or his creditors have a significant nonmonetary interest in Twitter, significant enough that they're willing to collectively hold a $40b bag.
I talked about some of the #3 scenarios before. Tldr: CFIUS, Cambridge Analytica, Vladimir Putin, wealth tax.
Financial times

BagSelect BagSelect It shouldn't even be a crime to scam crypto investors


The FTX cypto exchange and its fwb investment firm Alameda Research became the latest victim of greed and hands-off regulatory policy. Exchange tokens proved once again to be a scam. I'll wait for the Netflix docuseries, but it appears some company insider did a last minute extraction of company funds before it could be frozen to repay creditors. I just hope the series doesn't mention 'the weasel' (I strongly advise against looking this up).

Accountants, please help decipher this mess.
Analogy on their assets vs liabilities:
They used a non first edition Charizard Pok?mon card they owned as leverage to buy a small country

Tech layoffs and bearish CEOs

urTakeIsSoBad urTakeIsSoBad Let me explain something OP touched on but did not explain well.

Remember when Uber was getting into self-driving cars? It was pure nonsense so that they could continue to pretend to be a growth company. It was irresponsible bullshit pulled by upper management in an attempt to juice the stock higher.

Lots of companies are being exposed for their version of "self-driving nonsense" and are using the cover of the "coming recession" to hide the layoffs that are resulting from their gross negligence (and the bullshit growth stories they were spewing that the market was accepting at the time)

OP's point, more or less, is that these CEOs and other C-suite execs want a recession so they can blame the layoffs on the macro environment, and avoid getting called out for their nonsense attempts to fool the market with a "growth story". "We had to lay people off because of the macro environment" sounds a hell of a lot better than "we were grossly mismanaged and engaged in borderline fraudulent moonshot growth strategies"

Even the companies that didn't promise gamechanging disruption were handed a decade of economic growth, huge tax cuts, and 2020's reckless fiscal and monetary policies. The post caught my eye because my operating assumption was that the dire warnings from permabull tech CEOs meant 2023 would not be clear sailing. OP doesn't contradict that really, he just says that the bearishness is a CYA for empty promises of growth.

Fiscal policy, monetary policy, and politics

Pivot to tighten? Are they mad?? Pivot should be away from further tightening
it's Biden and democrats, not the first time they changed the dictionary. from now on hawk = dove and dove = hawk
This is every politician. Don't act like if Republicans were in power they would be like, "yep, we're totally in a recession. Economy is garbage built on lies." I lived through the George W. Bush years. Those motherfuckers were denying any and all economic problems until the whole damn thing almost collapsed. Also, it was that motherfucker's administration that started our fiscal insanity. Two wars and 2 massive tax cuts that were totally unfunded. Doubled the national debt in 8 years after Clinton actually reduced it.

Tweet ayei eloheichem Ukraine war ROI

Recent news on the Ukraine front has included things like thermobaric weapons and attacks on infrastructure to make the winter months difficult for noncombatants. But with economic uncertainty ahead, US domestic advocacy for isolationism has grown. On that subject, I ran across a couple of well-articulated points:

Scoutmaster-Jedi Scoutmaster-Jedi This war is so helpful for the US military in every way imaginable.
1. Destroy the military capacity of Russia 2. Learn about actual state of Russian military capacity 3. Renew ammunition stock 4. Clear out old inventory (replace with new) 5. Test weapons and strategy 6. Build up US defense industry production capacity 7. Renew NATO and other military partnerships

... with no commitment of ground forces.

woakula woakula calls on Ratheon and lockheed? If I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die in the green.

Ukraine lotr meme
Source. I mean, that mithril armor helped a lot more than Bilbo himself could have.

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