What's Good: Feb. 14, 2020

Money, memes, and White Claw schemes.

Hello, good morning, happy Friday. Today is my last day working for Cook County. I am writing the final elements of this newsletter in the middle of a tall building, tethered to my phone, because I have fully surrendered my office to the new guy. He is great! He will do a good job. But being without an ethernet cable does make it a little bit harder to aggregate content and write words about it, oh well.

Hey also remember how last week I said I was looking forward to the opening of the Chicago Board Game Cafe? Surprise, I actually went that Saturday to the friends and family soft open. Less surprising, of course, is that it is incredible. I wrote quite a lot of words on those Instagram posts, you can go look at them if you want to see my mediocre pictures of the mind-blowing food and my ceaseless gushing about the magical space that they have created.

And it really is magical, I don’t know how else to describe it. Just being in the space feels good and cool, everyone - staff and patrons alike - is incredibly friendly, everything about it rules. Book a reservation immediately, they will fill up. Order the jerky, say hi to Chef Aaron for me.

I start at the new firm on Tuesday. I am very excited about it. I went to drop off my stuff this week and everyone was delighted to see me. That felt great. I think it’s a good sign.

Oh, and it’s Valentine’s Day. If you have someone to celebrate it with, I hope you have a wonderful and romantic day. I don’t, but that’s okay. I’ve got the pub.


You can pay for memes but you can’t buy class

One sponsored post isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? Flooding an entire platform with sponsored posts.

Two different pieces in the New York Times this week - one in Style, one in Opinion - cover Mike Bloomberg’s insane memestorm ad buy. The Style piece is by my friend Taylor Lorenz, whose work I last linked when she wrote about the TikTok houses. She really is on the cutting edge of this stuff. Bloomberg, unfortunately, gave money to the FuckJerry guy, who sucks major ass, to get him to do a sponsored post. I say unfortunately because this is probably going to be both extremely awful and extremely effective. It turns out that when you spend enough money to get enough people to say that you are cool, maybe you can convince people that you actually are cool, even if you are actually a super racist asshole that nobody should trust to enforce good laws like, I don’t know, the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The good news is that this at least forced Instagram to update their policies to make it marginally harder to flood the platform with bad sponsored political content:

The bad news is that, per Taylor’s article, Bloomberg is spending a million dollars per day on Facebook ads, so boomers are definitely going to vote for him in much greater numbers than anyone should. Fuck.

The campaign, which began this week, has already placed sponsored posts on Instagram accounts including @GrapeJuiceBoys, a meme page with more than 2.7 million followers; Jerry Media’s own most popular account, with more than 13.3 million followers; and @Tank.Sinatra, a member with more than 2.3 million followers.

Thanks, I hate it. But I love this:

In other news, Andrew Yang is out.


Is this securities fraud?

Brian Krebs is one of my favorite InfoSec people. He is a great writer and researcher, and he discovered/wrote one of my favorite InfoSec stories, wherein he discovered the author of the Mirai worm.

Anyway it turns out that “corp dot com,” the domain, is a big deal. Not just because it is a short domain, but because it can expose fundamental flaws in companies around the world:

In practical terms, this means that whoever controls corp.com can passively intercept private communications from hundreds of thousands of computers that end up being taken outside of a corporate environment which uses this “corp” designation for its Active Directory domain.

That is… not great! But the funniest part is that it is kind of Microsoft’s fault:

“The reason I believe this is Microsoft’s issue to solve is that someone that followed Microsoft’s recommendations when establishing an active directory several years back now has a problem,” Schmidt said.

Now, the section header is not just a pun about infosec and securities. Here is the securities part, although admittedly it is just a hypo (as far as I know). Suppose you are Schmidt, and you short Microsoft before announcing that you’re selling the domain (and that by the way it is a massive security risk). Is that securities fraud?

Or suppose that Microsoft tells you they won’t buy it, you take a huge short position on their stock, and you announce that you’re selling the domain to some black-hat hacker group. The stock would obviously fall. Is that securities fraud?

Or suppose that you are Microsoft, and this guy comes to you telling you that he wants you to buy his domain because it could cause you problems otherwise. You refuse, but you also don’t disclose to shareholders that his domain could cause problems. Is that securities fraud?

I hope Schmidt gets paid. I also hope that he does not violate any securities laws.


The judiciary’s abuse-reporting mechanisms are fundamentally broken

Here’s a good thread from Leah Litman, an incredible lawyer and law professor who has also been featured in this newsletter before.

This week, two women testified to Congress about the late Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Judge Reinhardt was extremely well-respected; their testimony was shocking to the legal community. They are extremely brave.

But while their comments about Judge Reinhardt specifically were surprising, their criticisms of the reporting systems in the judiciary that kept them from disclosing the abuse they suffered is… unfortunately much more familiar. Victims of Kozinski who have spoken publicly about his abuse (like Leah) have been quite focused on the procedures and processes that allowed this behavior to continue. I mean even getting forced out of the judiciary is not enough to make these people shut the fuck up:

Republicans just cannot help telling on themselves, can they?

I don’t have an answer here, I am not sufficiently qualified to design a system that will allow victims to make reports about abuse by judges that sufficiently protects their personal lives and their careers. But what I do know is that the best way to build one is to listen to them, and so I hope you read Leah’s thread and the testimony of Liv Warren and Deeva Shah, it is very important.

One more note - a bunch of us noticed a few months ago when noted “apolitical law club,” the Federalist Society, got together to clap for Kavanaugh. And we have also noticed that some of the people who were doing the clapping back then are now being quite vocal about Reinhardt, either by making their own tweets or retweeting others and claiming the social capital of issuing the criticism. But everyone knows exactly what side you’re on, and you don’t get to only care about this when it’s politically convenient. People who do that are morally bankrupt. In short: FedSoc sucks.

Just to cap things off on a less depressing note, here is another, much happier and cooler Leah-related thing.


There are, in fact, laws, even when you’re drinking claws

Look, I love craft beer, but I also cannot stand the kind of guy who explains (usually wrongly) everything about every beer to everyone around him without them asking him to do so. I hate those guys, I hate what they do to the craft beer community, I hate that the prevalence of them keeps people (and especially women) away from craft beer.

But this seems a little extreme:

Chaos erupted outside a popular Brooklyn brewery Friday night, when an apparently annoyed craft-beer hater pulled a gun on a long line of people who were waiting to buy the latest designer IPA, according to cops and online reports.

A gun?! He wasn’t even in line! As far as I can tell, there was literally no reason for him to be there! He just decided to get so angry about people standing in line for a thing they enjoy that he waved a gun around, what? And of course the cops came and arrested him, inside his apartment, because he did not even flee the scene.

But also, these people were there… overnight? Chicago gets its fair share of beer lines for barrel-aged releases by various breweries, but I don’t think I’ve heard of anyone ever waiting out overnight. That is a little much.

Soon afterward, the man came back outside to glare at the line again. He began drinking a can of White Claw hard seltzer — which may have been just another taunt — and “just talking a bunch of s–t,” the witness said.

“So we talked some s–t back,” the witness said.

“The guy was telling us we were a bunch of idiots waiting online for beer, so I said, ‘Oh what, is this the only Airbnb you can afford?’

“Then he got super pissed and threw a White Claw at us, which was the funniest part of the night.”

If this happened to me, I would be sad about the wasted White Claw. I enjoy White Claw. But it would be pretty funny. (Minus the whole gun thing.)


The right has lost its mind

Here are a few insane things the right has been up to:

I have been trying all week to come up with some correlations between these things. You know, because that’s what good curators do, they curate things and then they find common lines between them.

But the only common line between these things that I can imagine, short of some QAnon-level insanity, is that all of these people want to simultaneously be powerful and be victims. They want to have and exert power over everyone and everything around them, but they also want to leverage the idea that they are being victimized by forces beyond themselves and use that fake victimization to demand additional protections of their entrenched power. They want attention and sympathy and pity, but they also want to be feared and respected. It is this utterly bizarre confluence of conflicting statuses. It is contradictory and entirely understandable all at once.

Many of us have dogs, so will bring dog feces to throw on people! We will also throw cups of human urine! We might resort to actually firing guns into the camps and at the re-enactors! We will put poison in the water, we will use noise to disrupt the battles and sleep! These events must stop! Our local organizer tells us he is ready to go! You have been warned, now if it is not called off, we will destroy you! You have less than 1 month to issue a cancellation notice, do it asap!

And this is the best fake threat they can come up with, really?

just so you know we are real and returning.

They are all fundamentally broken people who want to inflict their brokenness on others. That’s what I came up with.

YouTube banned a Nazi this week, though, so that’s good.


You deserve some good animal content

SEE IT: Upstate N.Y. dog tops world record by fitting 6 tennis balls in his mouth, owners say

(that one is part of a thread)


There is a little bit of Friday left, but I think we can all get through it. And if you don’t have a date tonight, do something nice for yourself. You deserve it.

If you like this newsletter, please share it with your friends, it’s fun to see how many people are enjoying it. Okay, have a good week, see you next week!