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2024-02-27 07:05 by Karl Denninger
in Musings , 293 references
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"Putting profits over love" eh?

The operator of dating platforms Tinder, Hinge, and OkCupid is being sued over claims it makes its apps addictive and puts profit over love.

In a class action lawsuit filed on Wednesday in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, six plaintiffs said that the platforms deliberately created addictive, game-like design features to lock users into an endless "pay-to-play loop."

They claimed that Match Group, the parent company, actively presents the platforms as "effective tools" for building relationships off-app while exerting every effort to attract, retain, and reward paying subscribers online.

You mean the parent company of basically all, save for Bumble, dating apps?

Oh by the way, how did that happen considering that 15 USC says that any attempt to monopolize or restrain trade is a criminal felony.  I guess that doesn't apply to...... anything, since nobody brings criminal charges either on a state or federal level for such things anymore.

Back when there were many competing "dating sites" and all were owned by different parties, such as Plenty of Fish, Yahoo, Match and others there was actual diversity of how they operated because they were run by different people and thus tried to pick off each other's customers.  As you might expect in a competitive marketplace.

But the "swipe right and go" model on phones basically destroyed this, along with the "Match buys everyone" hegemony.

It does so through various means, the lawsuit said, including driving expensive subscriptions and perpetual use, creating, developing, and promoting psychologically manipulative product features, and pressuring users into buying a subscription.

IMHO this isn't all of it, but is certainly part of it.

See, if you and another find each other on such a site and it works out in any sort of permanent way (that is, you are looking for and find other than a nice quick fuck) then the site operator loses not one but two customers forever!

Look at some of the "features" you might find in these sites.  Many have what appear to be entirely-reasonable purpose (e.g. hide your profile from your boss.)  But that could also be "hide your profile from your boyfriend or girlfriend", could it not?  And of course if it is you will continue to get pinged with new matches every day enticing you to cheat on a nascent -- or even fully-formed -- relationship.

Is this the company's "fault"?  I don't know; this comes down, ultimately to a question of where is the line?  But given that all these sites with a few clear exceptions (e.g. Grindr) clearly claim they exist in whole or at least part to foment solid single-couple relationships are in fact full of design "features" that do the opposite or clearly enable the opposite is that at least constructive fraud in the inducement?

Good question, and it would appear the courts will decide.

But what I do know and can tell you from looking around them is that were I designing such an app (which isn't very hard, by the way; I bet I could have something running in a couple of weeks of coding) I could quite-easily change a few things around and ruin the usefulness of such a site for those intending that sort of deceptive practice.  I have no idea if building such an app would be successful as a business or not and one of the reasons 15 USC Chapter 1 damn well ought to be enforced is that for the last decade or more it has been impossible to find anyone who is willing to back such a venture because Match basically owns the space and has bought up all the competitors -- the very situation that 15 USC Chapter 1 says is a criminal felony.  As a result of this I've been told a few times by various folks in the "money business" that venture firms are singularly uninterested in anything of that sort.

Back in the early 2000s I met some interesting people on the pre-Match dominated version of some of these sites and had a couple of good relationships come out of it.  They ultimately failed but not due to anything other than the foibles of human interaction and dating people, which is of course always a risk when you're meeting people with romantic intent.

Would I spend money on any of these sites now, knowing what I do about who owns essentially all of them, the cross-interests that are evident even without paying just by looking at how they structure the site, how you interact on it and what you have to pay to get access to in the feature set and similar?

No, and it is for that very reason above: It is my contention that the sites and their owners are and will actively work against, whether by intent or just how their design works, any relationship and interaction I might find via that route.  So while I may well be on them at any given point in time I refuse to pay someone that, in my opinion, is likely to use my funds to act against the very reason I'm there.

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2024-02-22 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Musings , 589 references
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Ok, I'll weigh in.

The law in question is obscene.  It has stood on the books for 70 years and is known as 63(12) for where it is in New York's legal code.  Trump is not the first person it has been aimed at; it has been used against Juul, Exxon-Mobil and Shkreli, to name three of several other abusive attacks over the last few years.

In short this law is one that Trump knew was there and, one must assume, as he decided to operate there thought was just fine provided it got used on other people and not him.  If you willingly participate in a crooked system you should not be all that surprised when you wake up one morning and find a stick of C-4 up your ass with the detcord going around the door in the corner and some dude is softly chuckling at what he's about to do to you.

The word "fraud" in legal use has a fairly strict definition: Someone must be harmed as a result of your deceptive conduct; they must take an action that they would not have but for your lie and get fucked as a result of it.  But case law for this specific law said otherwise because the statute in question specifically defined itdishonest conduct is enough and nobody has to actually get screwed.

To be clear Trump knew this risk existed and both set up his "empire" and continued to play in NY.  How did he know that?  Because it was the basis of the "Trump University" case that the previous prosecutor used against him!  Remember that case?  I do.

So how's your "Most Stable Genius" look in light of this set of facts, may I ask?

Here's the law in question:

12. Whenever any person shall engage in repeated fraudulent or illegal acts or otherwise demonstrate persistent fraud or illegality in the carrying on, conducting or transaction of business, the attorney general may apply, in the name of the people of the state of New York, to the supreme court of the state of New York, on notice of five days, for an order enjoining the continuance of such business activity or of any fraudulent or illegal acts, directing restitution and damages and, in an appropriate case, cancelling any certificate filed under and by virtue of the provisions of section four hundred forty of the former penal law or section one hundred thirty of the general business law, and the court may award the relief applied for or so much thereof as it may deem proper. The word "fraud" or "fraudulent" as used herein shall include any device, scheme or artifice to defraud and any deception, misrepresentation, concealment, suppression, false pretense, false promise or unconscionable contractual provisions. The term "persistent fraud" or "illegality" as used herein shall include continuance or carrying on of any fraudulent or illegal act or conduct. The term "repeated" as used herein shall include repetition of any separate and distinct fraudulent or illegal act, or conduct which affects more than one person. Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, all monies recovered or obtained under this subdivision by a state agency or state official or employee acting in their official capacity shall be subject to subdivision eleven of section four of the state finance law. 

In connection with any such application, the attorney general is authorized to take proof and make a determination of the relevant facts and to issue subpoenas in accordance with the civil practice law and rules. Such authorization shall not abate or terminate by reason of any action or proceeding brought by the attorney general under this section.

Note the wild-eyed set of definitions here.

No harm is required; deception, false promises, concealment or similar elements of conduct are sufficient.  You don't have to show that someone got fucked, in short, you merely need to show that someone lied and that such conduct occurred more than once even if the acts themselves are unconnected or in different areas or lines of business.

Now think about the breadth of this for a minute.  A car dealer -- every car dealer -- tells you its a great time to buy a car even if they know otherwise.  Literally every F&I office in a car dealership tries to sell you things, such as extended service contracts, that are demonstrably to your detriment in that they are wildly outpriced for what you receive and they conceal that by not fairly disclosing, for example, that they have an 80% margin on that "extended warranty" and almost nobody manages to successfully collect if the car does break down.  Hell, even the "green cap" on tires with $20 nitrogen gas fills are a screw job; the gas, assuming they actually did use it, costs about fifty cents -- which they of course do not disclose.  Similar "deception" is committed by every lender, every single real estate agent and similar every single day.

Even if the target of such "deceptions" is not harmed at the pure discretion of the NY AG ("may apply") that entity can be destroyed and the fruits of every element of same is, at said person's discretion, forfeit.

Trump probably liked this element of NY Law.  I'm sure a lot of other people do; it is a cudgel that can be wielded by the rich and powerful at will who have outsize political influence.  Unlike virtually every other law citing "fraud" which requires the target to get screwed in some form or fashion that is not the case here.  This "law" has stood on the books for seventy years and not only has Trump not done anything about it nor has his family line which was also all through NY and by the way neither has anyone else.

May I remind you that both the Juul and the Exxon-Mobil cases were filed while Trump was President and had a very clear bully pulpit to use in this regard, if not his entire Department of Justice?

Oh, you want to do business with people in NY and subject yourself to NY's jurisdiction given this fact?

Are you really that fucking stupid?

Orange Jesus was, even with clear proof that this law was being applied politically while he was President, and he got his asshole split wide open.  Awwwwwwwww...

Do stupid things, win stupid prizes -- now let me know when you're willing to cut off all business with any entity that has Nexus in NY State -- and until you are sit down and shut the fuck up because you are doing business there with clients and customers knowing that mere advertising, which always is full of "puffery", say much less anything ordinary in the realm of salesmanship, subjects you to forfeiture of every single fucking penny you make in sales to or within that state, plus interest.

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2024-02-21 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Musings , 461 references
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Watch this video (I can't embed it as Youslob has deemed it "18 over" because it involves violence.)

I know, its 25 minutes, which is far more than most American's attention span.  Not watching this video may well get you either killed or bankrupted, so if you wish to argue that you don't have time for it, that's fine -- I will toast your death because now you've had an explicit warning and ignored it so you deserve to get buttfucked and when you do get buttfucked I'm going to laugh at your bankruptcy or worse.

Do I have your attention yet?


At what point does the lady cop in that video know there's a problem and do the wrong thing that got her friend killed and she nearly-so -- and why?

I'm gonna make your scroll down.












At 9:50 into the video, all the way up to 14:30ish, or for roughly five minutes, it is clear that an asymmetric information situation exists of some sort.  Neither of the cops knows what it is but that it exists is absolutely clear to both of them at that point.

The worst-case situation for the driver assuming no such asymmetric information is that he's going to get busted for DUI (in fact Shelby mentions exactly this on the radio; she suspects a DUI but for weed, not alcohol) which for the driver is a serious pain in the ass, might get him jail time but isn't a life-ending event and isn't a felony either unless its a subsequent offense -- a fact Shelby knows, if in fact it is, since she called in his ID.  Fighting over it (e.g. resisting arrest) on the other hand is a felony and while the driver does sound like he might be intoxicated and he was swerving still, it ought to be clear to the driver at the point Shelby tells him another cop is coming he's not talking his way out of the stop.

The only reason to resist in this situation is that there is an unknown-to-the-deputy's set of facts -- but is known to the driver -- that means the driver is going to jail for something more-serious than a DUI if and when he gets out of the vehicle.

Shelby has five minutes of time after it should be apparent to her that this is the case.

What is the correct action for her to take?

She should have upgraded the situation from a traffic stop to a felony stop; you get back to your vehicle, either behind the door as partial concealment or in the vehicle where you have the engine block as hard cover and once your partner arrives you order the driver out of the vehicle, hands first out the windows, through the loudspeaker with enough distance between you (and your lights on his vehicle and the door partly blinding him) so that he cannot get a clean shot at you.  You remain in such a covered position until he has his hands where you can clearly see them and you can get to him, with your sidearm out and at low ready, before he can try anything (e.g. he is prone on the ground, face down, with his hands stretched out above his head.)  If you do that and he pulls or points a gun you have the clear drop on him and you shoot him.

If you're wrong -- there is no asymmetric information in his possession -- and he's just confused due to intoxication you've lost nothing.  Yeah, he gets inconvenienced because he had to put his hands out the window, open the door from the outside latch, crawl out hands first and get on the ground face-down.  Whoopie do-do.  You still find the weed or run your impairment test once he's out of the vehicle and you can see his hands, if he's intoxicated you can arrest and stuff him for that and if you find something smokable perhaps its marijuana and perhaps not (I note that in Tennessee weed isn't legal but Delta 8 and 10 are and both smell exactly the same as marijuana) so all the odor gives the cop is probable cause for a roadside impairment test which means you have to get out of the car -- and, probably, enough probable cause for a search of the vehicle.  If there's nothing well then there's nothing -- he goes home and he's pissed off about it but he prompted that response by refusing to exit the car.

That he's refusing means there is a decent, if not high probability, that he knows something that you as a deputy do not.  If you're Shelby you might think the most-likely possibility given the smell is that he has marijuana in the car, but again there are a dozen perfectly-legal Delta 8 and 10 shops all up and down Route 66 here and he drove past several of them so if that's what he's got its not against the law.  Being impaired, however, is illegal whether the drug in question is legal or not.

But in this case the asymmetric information he has and the deputy does not is that he has a gun and since he's a convicted felon if you find the gun he goes to jail right now and faces a felony charge in the State, with the potential for a federal felony charge.  He knows this and she doesn't -- and that's why he refused to get out, because he knew damn well that if he got out of the car it was 100% certain he was going to get busted with it.

When someone is behaving in a fashion that makes no sense given the information you have and assume is shared between the two of you the odds are extremely high the other actor(s) know something very important that you do not.

Want me to go somewhere else that will make you uncomfortable?  Shelby plays the feelings game with the dude who claims she's pulled him over because he's black.  If you put feelings before facts you are likely to get seriously screwed or even die.

Now those other actors may be delusional and that there are a lot of them doesn't change that possibility.  Take the fairly-recent espousing that "The fed will cut rates many times!" by a huge number of people -- and thus you should buy stocks, buy a house because you will be able to rapidly refinance to a lower rate, etc.  I have pointed out several times why I believe that's crap and now, with the most-recent CPI and PPI data, it looks like I'm right.  The number of people believing something doesn't add or subtract anything from its validity.  Look at how many people were scared out of their damned wits by Covid despite this table from the CDC on the risk of dying from the disease:


For those under 69, by the CDC's own data, the risk of dying was just 5 in 1,000 (!!) and for those under 50 your risk was 2 in 10,000 or better.  For children under 19 the risk was three in one hundred thousand, meaning that if every one of the 60 million kids in America had been infected the number of deaths would have been about 1,800.  For reference roughly double that many people die of drowning every year in the United States, about one fourth of them kids.


Where's the crossover between the risk of dying from the disease and the jabs?  I'll tell where I know the odds don't make sense today and clearly did not even in 2020 when the above was published by the CDC -- in those under 49.  Maybe for those over 50 but then again perhaps not since we seem to keep having people die downstream at a wildly-accelerated rate after being jabbed and its not slowing down.  But to give these shots on a mass-basis in the entire population?  You're out of your fucking mind if you took that shit unless you had asymmetric information about your personal risk specifically.

The only difference between these scenarios is the amount of time required for the consequences to become evident.

The deputy above got shot in the leg and her partner was shot dead because neither of them recognized that the behavior of that driver made no sense unless he had asymmetric information they did not.  Rather than act prudently given roughly five minutes of warning they instead continued on the original assumption that this was just a dude that might be intoxicated a bit and one of them paid for that stupidity with their life and the other received a nasty hole in her leg.

Yes, that was stupid and the first and most important lesson is to call things what they are.  I hope Shelby, if she stays on the force over in Blount County, learned something from this about asymmetric information and when it is clear the person you are interacting with likely has it and you don't then you back off until you are reasonably sure you're not going to get drilled.

Now look at the market around you today -- in stocks, real estate and elsewhere.  Does it actually make sense that everything will be ok or is the person who has to be on the other side of the transaction -- that is, the seller -- likely have asymmetric information you do not?

If you believe the bullshitters out there today, just as in 1999 and 2007, never mind 1929 and before while you might not wind up holding the bag you're about as likely as that Deputy to have it all be ok when you are presented with evidence that the other guy has asymmetric information and you don't retreat back to your car and upgrade the "DUI" to a felony stop.

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2024-02-18 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Musings , 597 references
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From Rasmussen comes a rather nasty "tea leaf" sort of thing starting with a document from one of the "Five Eyes" folks appearing to implicate the Obama Administration in actual spying on Trump's campaign and presumptive Administration officials.

There's plenty more where that appears to begin, and it leads to more questions than answers.

But folks, if the questions and answers lead to a conclusion that our intelligence agencies effectively "Queered" an election - or attempted to -- that's a coup d'etat and this was not one or two people involved in it: It's a huge percentage of both House and Senate, the entirety of the State Department that knew about it, which is not a trivial number of people and a bunch of foreigners too.

This would all be wildly illegal.

Is it a violation of 18 USC 2383?  Good question.  Advocating the overthrow of the government by force is under 18 USC 2385.

But Section 2384 states that a seditious conspiracy exists when:

If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.

Note where the "or" clause is.

A conspiracy to overthrow or put down the Government does not require the actual use of force.  All the other elements that can constitute this offense do but a coup d'etat does not require violence to be taken as part of the action(s) of the persons participating in it to be punishable.

Therefore if, in fact, this was aimed at destroying or otherwise tampering with the lawful and peaceful selection of our civilian government then there is a very clear argument that the elements of 18 USC 2384 were satisfied and everyone involved is subject to said prosecution.

This is a matter of the gravest extreme in that you are talking about a literal attack on the Constitution and Government itself.  You do not need to burn, loot, murder, shoot or blow things up to commit the offense, and the offense is not against a person it is against the entirety of the United States and its Constitution.

The United States and its State Department (and adjuncts, aka "the CIA") have a long and well-documented history of doing exactly this in other nations -- including, quite-arguably Ukraine and definitely (even admittedly-so) in many other nations, including Iran.  That does not standing alone convict people in our government in this instance but it certainly does mean we've done it before in other places so to claim that "we'd never do that" rings hollow.

This must be run to the ground, in public, and if substantiated every person who was involved in any way must face charges for same.

The very legitimacy of our government at all levels -- federal, state and local -- depends on it.

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2024-02-03 08:22 by Karl Denninger
in Musings , 312 references
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While the people yelling are all claiming "go woke, go broke" its not quite that simple, as the rather-convoluted ownership structure for Sports Illustrated makes clear.

Media has changed.  It used to be that SI was the sports news venue other than this or that on a random basis on the nightly news.  Of course their annual swimsuit issue was the subject of much collection and, for young men, plenty of fapping as well.

Look around you though.  TIME Magazine was a weekly publication and in fact owned Sports Illustrated until 2018.  It now "survives" every two weeks.... sort of.  When was the last time you saw one?  Newsweek, arguably its primary competitor, ceased publication in 2012, moving to an all-digital format.  How well is it doing now?  I haven't read a single article from it in years.

But as SI flailed about it, like so many other places, it tried to be "adaptive" and expanded their view of "swimsuits" to something other than what it historically had been: An appeal to young men (whether physically or at heart) who like looking at young, sexy women in bathing suits.

As Vogue put it in their piece on this "change":

For Day, the casting process is more about character than how someone looks in a bikini. “Our goal in selecting who we feature is centered around identifying some of the most inspiring, interesting, and multidimensional women that we can find,” she says. Sampaio had been on Day’s radar for her activism within the LGBTQIA community. “We are deeply moved that Valentina was willing to put her trust in us,” says Day. “We didn’t think twice about wanting to amplify her voice and message and give her a platform to advocate from on behalf of her personal aspirations and the trans community.”

That was a belly flop.  It turns out that men won't buy a magazine that has "women" (yeah, as above SI bit into that too) that said men either find unattractive or who aren't really women, but like to pretend they are.  Go figure; SI used to appeal to the very primal urge of men to reproduce and that was a decent strategy to sell magazines.  Remove said urge to reproduce with the persons in the images and suddenly said men don't buy the magazine anymore.  If they were subscribers rather than one-off buyers and attribute back that decision to your sports reporting, well, then you're really in trouble.

Was this supposed to be a big shock?  Day, the editor in chief of the Swimsuit thing, was always out of her mind and frankly, from my point of view it was idiotic to put a woman in charge of this in the first place.  Why?  Look at the rest of the species; it is the male Robin that is pretty, not the female. The same is true for lions, peacocks and countless other creatures when there is a significant difference by sex.  In other words whether you like it or not from a biological point of view males advertise, females choose.  Now map this onto human behavior and what you see among women "competing" is garbage; they "dress up" (whether in swimsuits or otherwise) to try to impress other women!  Madison Avenue has made a fortune out of turning women against each other through peddling a completely-false set of expectations and beliefs that run counter to biological imperatives and the entire world is more-poor for it.  The truth, like it or not and it always has been and will be this way, is that men put forward the proposition but women choose.  Thus if you want to sell magazines to men (who consume more sports media than women; go figure as they "view" themselves through an unrealistic "I could do that" sort of lens just like women do and thus live vicariously through sports) you put a heterosexual man in charge and let him cast the models for what he believes is maximally likely to get other men to pay for the content.  Instead SI actually claim themselves that they were "redefining" beauty standards in the name of "Diversity, Inclusion and Equity" and what they got is DIE -- their own death, to be specific.

Congratulations guuurl; you did it and business went boom the bad way!

By the way calling those who don't get an involuntary telephone pole in the pants at such images bigots doesn't work to sell magazines either so don't bother with that.

In the end, however, this isn't as simple as just "woke and broke"; its also a tale of the media generally, and digital content has changed it forever.  You can lament it all you want but the local newspaper is no more (if it exists at all its a piece of a large entity that has a "special edition" with maybe one person covering said "local stories") and the papers in major metros are struggling -- or gone entirely.  The ad dollars that a car dealer spent on a local newspaper can be targeted on modern media to only those who are likely to buy cars, where in the newspaper by definition you are paying to advertise to 80 year old geriatric people who long ago lost their driver license because they can't see.

Nonetheless this failure stands as yet another testament to the fact that when you go against what which is in fact real the odds are high you're not going to have a happy outcome.

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