Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member


DBoon's Journal
DBoon's Journal
November 25, 2023

'We will coup whoever we want!': the unbearable hubris of Musk and the billionaire tech bros

... Unlike their forebears, contemporary billionaires do not hope to build the biggest house in town, but the biggest colony on the moon. In contrast, however avaricious, the titans of past gilded eras still saw themselves as human members of civil society. Contemporary billionaires appear to understand civics and civilians as impediments to their progress, necessary victims of the externalities of their companies’ growth, sad artefacts of the civilisation they will leave behind in their inexorable colonisation of the next dimension. Unlike their forebears, they do not hope to build the biggest house in town, but the biggest underground lair in New Zealand, colony on the moon or Mars or virtual reality server in the cloud.
Indeed, there is an imperiousness to the way the new billionaire class disregard people and places for which it is hard to find historical precedent. Zuckerberg had to go all the way back to Augustus Caesar for a role model, and his admiration for the emperor borders on obsession. He models his haircut on Augustus; his wife joked that three people went on their honeymoon to Rome: Mark, Augustus and herself; he named his second daughter August; and he used to end Facebook meetings by proclaiming “Domination!”

While we should be thankful he has chosen to emulate Augustus instead of, say, Caligula, he is nonetheless aspiring toward the absolute power – and hairstyle – of a Roman dictator. Zuckerberg told the New Yorker “through a really harsh approach, he established two hundred years of world peace”, finally acknowledging “that didn’t come for free, and he had to do certain things”. It’s that sort of top down thinking that led Zuckerberg to not only establish an independent oversight board at Facebook, dubbed the “Supreme Court”, but to suggest that it would one day expand its scope to include companies across the industry.

At least Zuckerberg’s anti-democratic measures are expressed as the decrees of a benevolent dictator. Musk exercises no such restraint. In response to the accusation that the US government organised a coup against Evo Morales in Bolivia in order for Tesla to secure lithium there, Musk tweeted: “We will coup whoever we want! Deal with it.”

September 27, 2021

Proposed Los Angeles Council District 5 to unify white affluent homeowners

My neighborhood is currently represented by progressive council member Nithya Rama, who has been serving us well in her first term. The current district itself is very diverse, including Hollywood, Silverlake, and adjacent portions of the San Fernando Valley (NorthHollywood, etc.)

A proposed District would bundle affluent white homeowners into a dingle new District, extending from Brentwood to the border of Koreatown. See the following map (Draft Map # 53505 ):

Deliberately excluded are areas with concentrations of renters, Latino communities, and commercial areas directly impacting the adjacent residential areas. The proposed District consists almost entirely of white, affluent homeowners, creating a council seat dedicated solely to their interests.

My local neighborhood association has sent out a strong, almost hysterical sounding mass email insisting we MUST support this new District. They have also insisted that recipients email three copies to their friends, in true chain letter fashion. The email of course lacks any analysis of the map or of alternative maps.

I am opposed to this map as endorsing a form of residential segregation. Also I like Nithya Raman and would hate to be written out of her district.

Are there any DUers from Los Angeles involved in this process who can provide advice?


January 21, 2021

Parler's Internet host has its Internet addresses revoked

Parler, the beleaguered social network advertised as a “free speech” alternative to Facebook and Twitter, has had a tough month. Apple and Google removed the Parler app from their stores, and Amazon blocked the platform from using its hosting services. Parler has since found a home in DDoS-Guard, a Russian digital infrastructure company. But now it appears DDoS-Guard is about to be relieved of more than two-thirds of the Internet address space the company leases to clients — including the Internet addresses currently occupied by Parler.

The pending disruption for DDoS-Guard and Parler comes compliments of Ron Guilmette, a researcher who has made it something of a personal mission to de-platform conspiracy theorist and far-right groups.


It appears the Russian firm DDoS-Guard hosting Parler does not directly own the Internet addresses it is assigning. They are instead assigned to two corporations, one based in Belize and one based in Scotland. The entity which assigns Internet addresses in Latin America and the Caribbean (LACNIC) requires a physical presence in the region. The Belize company is a shell with no physical presence in Belize. LACNIC is terminating these addresses, including those assigned to Parler.
July 25, 2020

Criminals do impersonate police officers to commit crimes

Tips for Protecting You from Law Enforcement Impersonators :

Those who impersonate police officers erode the public’s trust in law enforcement and may endanger unsuspecting people. There are several tips you can remember to protect yourself during a traffic stop while helping your police officers do their jobs.

Make sure it is a marked police unit. If it is not a marked unit, the emergency lights should be built in and are usually not a temporary light placed on the vehicle.
•Try to stop in a well-lit area or a location where there are a lot of people present.
•Turn on your emergency flashers but don’t turn off your car.
•Do not get out of the vehicle to meet the officer. Officers usually don’t like this anyway.
•Lock your door.
Look for a uniform, official department jacket, and other equipment used by police officers for the performance of their duties.
•If the officer is in plainclothes, look for identifying clothing and equipment. If unsure, explain to the “officer” that you are unsure about the situation and ask them to display official department identification and badge. Ask where they work and if you can contact their dispatch center to confirm their identity. You may also request a marked patrol unit respond.
•Pay attention to what they are asking. Most officers will advise you of the reason for the stop and request your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance.
•If they immediately tell you to get out of the car without any preliminary questions, be suspicious.
•Trust your instincts. If they don’t seem to be a real police officer they are probably not.

from https://www.canbypolice.com/docs/police_impersonators.pdf with my emphasis

May 16, 2020

How many people do you propose to allow to suffocate to death of Covid 19

as an acceptable cost of re-opening businesses? We already have over 85,000 deaths, how many more are ethically acceptable?

Any opening strategy will result in further spread of a deadly infection for which we have no effective treatment.

How many should be allowed to die? Would you be willing to be one of those? Why not? Is it because someone else's death is acceptable but not yours?

What do we say to the family and loved ones who died so the economy can open? Do the dead get a posthumous medal for their sacrifice, as we do with members of the military who give their lives for their country or do we just say "too bad, I'm alive and you aren't"?

The phrasing of the question as "under what conditions should businesses re-open" completely evades the ethical issue of killing tens of thousands of people in the process.

I find it absolutely horrific that we are speaking in these terms. I cannot believe we have come to this.


May 11, 2020

Dead baboons and lockdown protests

The book "A Primate's memoir" tells the story of a researcher studying the behavior of baboons on East Africa. I recall one story in particular.

A local safari lodge was serving steaks from cattle infected with tuberculosis. The meat scraps were left out and found by the baboons, who considered them a delicacy. Consistent with baboon social rules, the dominant (most aggressive) males consumed the scraps themselves. The resulting outbreak of tuberculosis kills off these most aggressive "alpha" males.

The result changes the social dynamics of the troop. The surviving baboons were the females and less aggressive "beta" male baboons.

The following quote from a research paper summarizes the results:

In his book A Primate's Memoir, Sapolsky studied the activities and lifestyle of the Forest Troop to explore the relationship between stress and disease. In typical baboon fashion, the males behaved badly, angling either to assume or maintain dominance with higher ranking males or engaging in bloody battles with lower ranking males, which often tried to overthrow the top baboon by striking tentative alliances with fellow underlings. Females were often harassed and attacked. Internecine feuds were routine. Through a heartbreaking twist of fate, the most aggressive males in the Forest Troop were wiped out. The males, which had taken to foraging in an open garbage pit adjacent to a tourist lodge, had contracted bovine tuberculosis, and most died between 1983 and 1986. Their deaths drastically changed the gender composition of the troop, more than doubling the ratio of females to males, and by 1986 troop behavior had changed considerably as well; males were significantly less aggressive.

After the deaths, Sapolsky stopped observing the Forest Troop until 1993. Surprisingly, even though no adult males from the 1983–1986 period remained in the Forest Troop in 1993 (males migrate after puberty), the new males exhibited the less aggressive behavior of their predecessors. Around this time, Sapolsky and Share also began observing another troop, called the Talek Troop. The Talek Troop, along with the pre-TB Forest Troop, served as controls for comparing the behavior of the post-1993 Forest Troop. The authors found that while in some respects male to male dominance behaviors and patterns of aggression were similar in both the Forest and control troops, there were differences that significantly reduced stress for low ranking males, which were far better tolerated by dominant males than were their counterparts in the control troops. The males in the Forest Troop also displayed more grooming behavior, an activity that's decidedly less stressful than fighting. Analyzing blood samples from the different troops, Sapolsky and Share found that the Forest Troop males lacked the distinctive physiological markers of stress, such as elevated levels of stress-induced hormones, seen in the control troops.

From https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC387823/

I think of this story whenever I hear about aggressive macho types refusing to social distance, refusing to wear masks, attacking pandemic restrictions on gatherings and otherwise flaunting their disregard for Covid-19 risks.

Maybe *they* are culling the herd just as the aggressive baboon males did.
November 4, 2017

News workers unionized. Days later, they were jobless. Was it payback?

A billionaire’s decision last week to shutter the news sites Gothamist and DNAInfo, just a week after employees voted to unionise, seemed to mark another low for unions in online media age.

Owner Joe Ricketts seemed to be making good on threats to pull the plug on his publications if workers joined a union. But in a public statement, Ricketts – a Donald Trump backer and founder of the discount stock brokerage TD Ameritrade – said the decision was purely financial.

But Tim Schick, administrative director of NewsGuild-CWA, says unionization doesnt have to come with a huge cost to the employer. “They fight it tooth and nail because it means they have to sit down with workers to talk about wages and benefits.”


LAist was my favorite go-to site for local events and news. They were very good at covering political rallies and other local political activism (in addition to the usual "10 places to get donuts in LA" articles)

Profile Information

Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 21,725

Journal Entries

Latest Discussions»DBoon's Journal