(Last) Weekly Roundup: The Day They Turned The Riots Off Edition (With Minimal GameStop Content!)

I’d like to write about GameStop this week — I’d really like to write about it — but I think the final act of this drama, namely what will the government do about it? is the most interesting part of the saga, and therefore I’m going to wait. With that said, I want to point out that the Uniparty is already showing its hand on the future of “the wrong people manipulating the stock market”: Elizabeth Warren, The Progressive Cherokee Lioness, has already demanded that strong action be taken… against the online forums that allowed retail investors to organize. Oh, you thought she was going to go after the naked-short crowd? I treasure your naivete, dear reader, I really do.

One overlooked aspect of the GameStop craze, beyond the fact that it made one of my racing teammates a multi-millionaire in the course of four days, is that it wiped the nonstop blathering about “insurrection” off the front pages almost everywhere. Yes, dear readers, it was an insurrection, started by Emmanuel Goldstein Donald Trump and the time machine he used to encourage the “Storming” of the Capital after it began. Ignore the fact that said insurrection was mostly unarmed middle-aged people who walked through an open gap and stormed in orderly fashion between two velvet ropes so they could pose with Nancy Pelosi’s podium — there was a dude with zip ties! They were going to kill Mike Pence! For reals! That’s why it was so critical to shoot unarmed women in the face! The media has officially declared it an insurrection, like your school principal calling a snow day, and that’s what it will always be.

I’m personally not quite ready to let the “insurrection” go, however. In partcular, I want to discuss the most astounding article the New York Times has ever published — one that demonstrates the Uniparty at its most puissant, while simultaneously giving a booster shot to every conspiracy theory you could possibly imagine. Just in case you don’t feel like clicking the jump, I’ll give you a preview: it turns out that there is, in fact, a CEO of Anitfa, and you can get him on a Zoom call.

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Weekly Roundup: Woo For Its Own Sake At The End Of Tech Days Edition

Alright, let’s get it off our chests: When Wednesday happened, when Lady Gaga had un-self-consciously re-enacted The Hunger Games, and when it became apparent to even the dimmest among us that Trump and “Q” were not going to descend into the vaguely Riefenstahl-esque walled-off self-celebration/bad-poetry-slam with a Blackhawk chock-full of pedophile-grabbing grapples like the ones used in the Christian Bale Terminator movie, what was your first thought?

I’ll personally admit that my first thought was selfish. I didn’t think about the end of the American oil industry, or the promised gun confiscation, or the female athletes whose scholarships just vanished into thin air, or all that business about structuring the economy around issues of racial justice and climate justice. All I could think was: Well, that’s the end of the tech biz.

What the American press won’t tell you, the Indian press is shouting from the rooftops. Biden is promising “the infusion of hundreds of thousands of visas per year”. Let me repeat that:

The infusion of hundreds of thousands of visas per year.

Mr. Biden famously told unemployed coal miners that they should learn to code. I hope none of them listened, because as career advice in the Biden era, “learn to code” will be slightly less useful than “learn to play the accordion”. For God’s sake, there are only 1.46 million software development jobs in the whole country. Ask yourself a question in the format the meme kids love:

What percentage of software development jobs will be given to new visa holders, and why is it 100?

Like him or loathe him, Trump was good for middle-class American jobs, particularly in tech. I watched pay rates increase by a full third during the first two years of his administration, and had I stayed in tech rather than departing for the editorial lyfe, yo, I could have looked forward to further raises.

If you’re wondering why Big Tech mounted such a full-court press against him, now you know. It wasn’t to protect America’s womyn, nor was it to ensure the dignity of (insert your favorite group here). It was to reset labor costs back to the Obama years, and then some. Just as importantly, it was to take white and Black employees out of these jobs and replace them with people who can be dominated via the iron band of visa control. If you’ve never worked in tech, you’ve never seen how that control is used. The visa holders are the first people in the office and the last ones out. They never raise their voices to disagree, they never refuse a task no matter how degrading or unnecessary. It’s actually terrible for software development, because without anyone to say “No” you wind up with catastrophically complicated projects. But it makes the bosses feel goooooood.

Whatever. It’s done. Elections have consequences. Onwards with The Great Reset, amirite? Nevertheless, this Brave New World will force me to do at least one dangerous thing, and it’s this: I have to disagree with Scott Locklin.

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Weekly Roundup: The Men Who Went Their Own Way Edition

Earlier this week, discussing a mountain biking video, commenter stingray65 said:

I can’t quite get my head around the adult performer doing kid’s stunts. There are so many activities that adults continue to do that were things that mostly kids did when I was growing up such as riding bikes (includes jumps, and stunts), playing video games, reading comic books, collecting baseball cards, which tended to fade away as favorite activities once adulthood arrived and bikes were replaced by cars, and video games and comic books were replaced by work, dating, parenthood, and more sedentary adult hobbies (i.e. drinking, smoking, cooking, knitting, car wrenching, woodworking, watching TV). Today it seems that its the kids getting fat because they are more often doing sedentary “adult” activities (i.e. social media) and it is much more common to see middle-aged adults still doing extreme sports (at least the ones featured on YouTube videos), playing video games (with high powered machines and peripheral hardware), and collecting comic books, baseball cards, etc. as “investments”.

I can immediately think of two possible responses here. The first one is that my father was hitting softballs out of the park down in his Hilton Head neighborhood as late as around his sixty-fifth birthday. (Still playing ten years later, just no longer swinging for the fences.) He grew up playing baseball, was a centerfielder for Notre Dame, and played softball much of his adult life. I didn’t play baseball — well, I didn’t play it much, anyway. I rode a bike. So here I am, at forty-nine, still riding a bike. No different from the old man, whom I recall taking his softball very seriously when he was in his forties.

That’s what I like to think of as the “Seen It All, Internet” answer. You know that answer. There’s someone to provide it almost immediately, everywhere from Usenet in 1987 to Reddit in 2021. Nothing’s really changed, you’re making a big deal about nothing, we’ve seen it all before, don’t get excited, I’m so blase and world-weary on this topic and all others… Yet any intelligent reader knows that the “Seen It All” answer almost never applies. There is a tremendous difference between how grown men pass their time nowadays and how they passed their time in 1990 or 1960 or 1650. So let’s take stingray65 seriously and search for an answer to his question.

To begin our discussion, let me tell you about two girls I met in 2013, within a few months of each other. The first one messaged me, before we met, “I just want to confirm that you are actually six foot two, and not lying about it, because I’m every bit of six feet tall and I’m tired of being disappointed.” The second one, who was not six feet tall but also wasn’t that far short of it, told me, somewhere around our second date,

“I’m really only interested in a man who is taller than I am, and who earns more money than I do.” After a brief, self-reflective pause, she asked, “Is that shallow?”

Well, dear readers, is it?

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Weekly Roundup: Axe Body Spray And The Approved Police Brutality Edition

From five feet away, he missed the headshot.

But you can’t say he wasn’t trying.

There were many people he could have shot.

He could have shot no one; in fact, after he fired his shot, the crowd dispersed in a manner that suggests it would have done so just as readily had he fired into the ceiling.

Instead, he made a single incompetent attempted headshot that struck Ashli Babbitt in the neck. You can hear her trying to breathe in the video. She’s alive for minutes. There is a single tear rolling from her left eye as it glazes over.

Ashli Babbitt served her country in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the United Arab Emirates — but it took an American to kill her, inside the building paid for and maintained with her tax dollars.

Shortly after her death, a blizzard of corporations — Chase, Bank of America, Chevron, Citigroup, American Express, Coca-Cola, Axe Body Spray — released statements condemning her murder in the same passionate terms they’d used to condemn the deaths of Jacob Blake, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tamir Rice, and Trayvon Martin.

Just kidding.

They’re totally cool with it, and they want to make sure you know that.

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Weekly Roundup: The Long Shadow Of Mr. Beast Killed 300 Kitchens Edition

If I have to explain Mr. Beast to you, chances are you won’t get it — but I’ll try anyway, just so you understand why my son and I paid fifty bucks to wait an hour and a half for ten bucks’ worth of food, and perhaps so we all understand the occasionally unpleasant aspects of the Internet a bit better.

Or, if you have a male child under the age of fifteen, you can ask him to explain it better. You don’t? Alright, here goes.

Mr. Beast, a 22-year-old college dropout, is to YouTube what Jimi Hendrix was to the electric guitar. He understands it at a fundamental, intrinsic level. Once upon a time, movie studios had something called “high concept”, which was a way of saying you have to be able to explain a movie in a single sentence. (The so-called “elevator pitch” is a corporate-toady version of this.) Mr. Beast takes the high concept and turns it into maximum high concept, a single idea taking the place of plot or story. The video that brought him to the attention of the public was “Counting to 100,000”, and much of his work follows in this semi-autistic vein (“I PUT 100 MILLION ORBEEZ IN MY FRIEND’S YARD”). Other videos feature him giving away money (“I’LL PAY FOR ANYTHING YOU CAN FIT IN THE CIRCLE”, “I BOUGHT EVERYTHING IN THE GROCERY STORE.”) He is hugely popular with young people, particularly young Internet-raised boys, who naturally resonate to the OCD, counting-to-numbers-and-spending-big-numbers aesthetic of his channel. He has given away millions of dollars on YouTube and along the way has earned something like $25 million for himself.

Here in the car business, we think Doug DeMuro is a pretty big deal in the video-clown game because he has 3.5 million subscribers; Mr. Beast has almost fifty million. Last week, they all bought hamburgers, which brings us to the, ahem, meat of this story.

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Weekly Roundup: GoDaddy Can Phish Off Edition

It was a Christmas dream come true. Right before the holiday, GoDaddy sent all of its employees the following email:

Though we cannot celebrate together during our annual Holiday Party, we want to show our appreciation and share a $650 one-time Holiday bonus!… To ensure that you receive your one-time bonus in time for the Holidays, please select your location and fill in the details by Friday, December 18th.

Over 500 of them promptly clicked through, no doubt thrilled at the prospect of additional help at a time when their spouses or other family members were likely suffering from uncertain employment or no work at all.

They didn’t get a bonus. Instead, they got a written warning that they had fallen afoul of a so-called “phishing” message created by GoDaddy security staff to test awareness of identity theft via fraudulent email, and a notification that they had all been re-enrolled in a computer security course.

Merry Christmas! But I’ve seen (and done) worse…

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Weekly Roundup: You May Not Be Interested In Racism But It Is Interested In You Edition

I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I don’t devote much thought to (what we are supposed to call) COVID-19. My wife and son are younger than I am and they are in good physical shape, so the risk for them is low. I’m morbidly obese, all but sedentary, and I have the eating habits of a raccoon, but I’ve also proved quite impossible to kill, so there you go. I am obsessive about my vitamins, and since Vitamin D levels appear to matter that’s a good thing.

On the other hand, COVID-19 is tremendously interesting to me as a lens through which to observe the modern idiocracy/kleptocracy/kakistocracy formerly known as the United States. The disease is almost meaningless in and of itself; it has increased the annual death rate in the United States by about twelve percent, which is not great but not exactly the 1918 flu pandemic, which killed 300,000 people in just two months across a country with a quarter of today’s population. Rather, it is the reaction to the disease that fascinates. The hypocrisy and naked urge to power given full faith and credit by the media, as discussed at Up In The Valley. The irony of our putative national search for fascists to attack — Punch A Nazi Today, Everyone, And “Nazi” Can Mean Anything You Want It To Mean! — while Amazon and the banks and the government act in literal lockstep, which, for those of you who got your education from a public school, is how fascism actually worked. We are being told that the government can’t make you take the vaccine, but that every corporation in the United States has simultaneously decided you’ll need it in order to do business with them. This is Phase II of Corporations Enforce Unwritten Law On Behalf Of The Government; Phase I was when the corporations decided that “hate speech” was adequate grounds to deny you everything from a bank account to a meal at a restaurant.

Oh yeah, about that vaccine: who gets it first?

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Weekly Roundup: de Sade Edition

It’s New Used Luxury Car Month here at Riverside Green! No sooner does brother Bark take delivery of his pre-loved G80 than I have to one-up him with this very fine 1986 Mercury Grand Marquis LS Coupe! This Marquis will be doubly familiar to TTAC readers of yore: the Mehtas took delivery of it from an estate sale in 2010, just after I wrote the story of a misspent Summer of ’89 in my own 1980 Marquis Brougham Coupe.

After ten years of Sajeev’s care and improvements, the “MGM” runs fairly well, although it needs a dozen small fixes from power windows (they don’t) to fuel gauge (permanently on a pessimistic “E”) to transmission selector (which is one letter off… most of the time). Unlike Bark’s Thrifty-Six G80, the Grand Marquis has a full five (er, 4.9) liters of V-8 power, although said power is something like 42% of what the HTRAC Hyundai puts to the wheels.

Here’s the interesting part, however: after eleven years, I have finally found a car that genuinely piques my son’s interest.

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Weekly Roundup: Flyin’ Low And Feelin’ Less Mean Edition

As the constant reader will recall, at the very end of September I broke my right fibula and ripped a ligament off the inside of my ankle riding BMX trails in Austin, TX before the press preview of the Rolls-Royce Ghost. I stayed two additional days in Austin to get my drive completed and to visit my old friend Robert Farago before coming home for corrective surgery in the first week of October.

My cast came off three weeks ago and I’ve been trying to rehab the ankle and leg a bit. Yesterday I went outside to ride a bicycle for the first time. With a little encouragement from my son I was able to put some motion into said bike. While I have some reduced range of motion, it’s all on the “up” end. I can point down as well as any ballerina (well, any ballerina of my size, anyway) which means I can jump a bike. So I tried about ten hops, eventually getting up to about an 18-inch gap between ground and tire. The world record for bunnyhopping a BMX bike is 42 inches, most pros can do 30-36 inches easily, and prior to this injury I was probably capable of hitting 24 on a good day — but I will not pretend I am not enthusiastic that I can pull 280 pounds of bike and rider this far off the ground on a withered calf muscle and a recently-repaired joint.

Also, as Ted Williams said in the famous anecdote about hitting modern pitching, I’m 49 years old.

So this is all good news. And it’s been instructive for me to consider how sour I’ve been over the past two months, entirely as a result of not being able to ride.

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(Last) Weekly Roundup: Obviously No Americans Want A $156,000/Year Job Edition

Well, folks, the hits from HITLER DRUMPF just keep coming. His latest attack on American democracy is a sick and racist weaponizing of the DOJ against noted social benefactor Mark Zuckberg & Co., seeking penalties and damages for the totally normal business practice of deliberately concealing the existence of over 2,600 (two thousand, six hundred) jobs on American soil from American citizens so that said jobs could be used to sponsor new green card permanent residents from India.

Facebook’s completely reasonable defense was that no American citizen wanted these jobs. And why would they? The average salary for these 2,600 jobs was a pathetic $156,000 a year. So naturally Zuck had to give them to immigrants, who are always willing to get the job done.

Can you believe that DRUMPF is objecting to this?

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