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Good Cop, Bad Cop
tuesday report #15 // subway nihilism vs. the good samaritan (which way, western man?), big tech ups and downs, strike!, and random acts of violence
Welcome back to the Tuesday Report, Pirate Wires’ weekly digest. Every week, we deliver a brief, lead story followed by a storm of fire links to catch you up on everything you need to know.
The different kinds of violence we accept. Predictably, after the past few years of national abolish-the-police hysteria, Americans no longer feel safe in cities across the country (despite activist and media insistence “crime is down”). With respect for the badge at a lifetime low, young men no longer want to be cops, which is doubly problematic as police forces are already incapable of adequately tackling the job. As a result, wealthy localities nationwide have turned to private security guards in an attempt to fill the vacuum. Naturally, security guards and Samaritan intervention, rather than crime, have become the target of leftwing activists and local politicians in an evolving national story.
Last week, River covered the tragic death of a mentally unstable man on a New York Subway, subdued by a Samaritan in the middle of an episode. With no present justification, that moment has been racialized, and young “anti-racist” activists are now calling for the Samaritan’s imprisonment. But activist efforts to instigate another culture race war aren’t going quite as planned, with frustration over the obviously gray and difficult problems of out-of-control drug abuse, mental illness, and homelessness overtaking even the comments section of the New York Times. On social media, users recalled another recent Subway encounter, in which a young woman was assaulted while a packed Subway car looked on, and did nothing, as the woman begged for help. Which way, western man?
In San Francisco, a famously pro-crime sitting member of the Board of Supervisors is finally calling for a “criminal” prosecution. The criminal? A security guard who shot a shoplifter in self-defense. Activists have framed the killing as anti-black and anti-trans, as the criminal was both black and trans, while other shoplifters have expressed alarm and confusion over what they believe to have been a shot in response to shoplifting, which, in San Francisco, is supposed to be legal. The New York Post reports:
Xavier Davenport, Brown’s friend and mentor, said it made little sense for the security guard to kill the young man for shoplifting, saying it’s something that’s done every day in the city.
“A bunch of people steal from this Walgreens every single day. I know because I used to be a loss prevention manager for Old Navy for years, for almost more than a decade,” he told CBS. “Why this black young boy had to be taken away so senseless from something that everyone in this community and everyone around San Francisco does?”
But the shoplifter wasn’t shot for shoplifting. The only evidence we currently have indicates the shoplifter was shot while attacking a security guard. Last week, I covered San Francisco’s Mad Max Whole Foods, which was closed due to rampant shoplifting, violence (“male with machete is back”), and drug abuse, including lethal overdose in the store bathroom, all defended by the San Francisco Chronicle… but not by the New York Times.
Machine Democrats understand they can’t be the pro-crime party headed into the next election, no matter what the deranged activist class wants, because rampant, de facto legalized crime is one of the only things the average American voter agrees on — and their opinion is it’s bad. America’s choice is obvious: we can have law and order, with more funding and respect for police, and commitments from cities to actually prosecute crime, or we can have chaos, violence, and vigilantism. Pick.
THIS WEEK IN PIRATE WIRES
The latest from Solana. America has been fiercely divided over a commemorative transsexual Bud Light can from TikTok Hell for over a month now, resulting in several firings, plummeting sales, and hundreds of pieces. Generally, the drama has been framed as a story of either trans activist excess or right wing talking heads from hell, but none of that is really correct. This is a drama that could only exist online, and this is a story about the impact of social media, which is both designed to drive us insane, and where we all now live. Check out How to Safely Navigate Our Haunted Transsexual Internet before we lock it up for paying subscribers later today.
White Pill. Where should humanity establish its first space colony? Guest written by Owen Lewis, the Saturday digest’s lead story makes the case for several spots in the solar system, and explains why others aren't viable, at least in the near-term. Also: links about SETI, longevity, Denisovans, Dune: Part Two, robot soccer, what's next for fusion tech in the US, and more. (Pirate Wires)
Cultural appropriation is an American asset. Everyone does it, and we’re the best at it, so why on Earth should we stop? River makes the case for cultural appropriation. (Pirate Wires)
Jordan Neely wouldn’t be dead in a state hospital. After a schizophrenic busker with a history of violence was strangled on a train, River proposes mandatory in-patient care for mentally ill homeless people. (Pirate Wires)
Doordash revenue up 40% year-over-year (WSJ)
Palantir stock surge fueled by rising demand for AI products (Bloomberg)
Looks like PayPal was a pandemic stock. A post-COVID slowdown in e-commerce transactions, along with an explosion of fintech innovation from competitors, appear to be popping the PayPal bubble. (CNBC)
Elizabeth Holmes, facing prison, sits down with the NYT. She didn’t look like the Hamburglar, so people are mad about this. (NYT)
Lyft stock drops sharply. Despite seeing a 14% revenue increase in the first quarter, Lyft’s share prices plummeted by over 20% last week after the company released a financial forecast that was weaker than investors hoped for. (WSJ)
Mainstream press finally discovers BlueSky. Developed by a pack of actually quite interesting crypto-friendly folks at Twitter, and improbably designed — at Twitter — to be a decentralized Twitter killer free of censorship, the forward-facing piece is now just looking… a lot like Twitter. Haven’t seen the protocol piece play out yet, but will report as it comes together. (WSJ)
Daily Bitcoin transactions on par with 2017 peak. Both the price of Bitcoin and the volume of activity on its blockchain have surged in recent weeks, as the U.S. banking system has come under increasing stress. Some commentators warn that the spike in transactions is driven largely by Ordinals protocol activity, which they argue may be a transient fad rather than a lasting paradigm change. (Axios)
FTC lawsuit against data broker dismissed by federal judge. The agency failed to provide sufficient evidence to back its allegations that data broker Kochava was unfairly selling data. (NYT)
FTC trying to ban Meta from profiting off minor user data. An FTC official said Meta’s “recklessness has put young users at risk,” and it “needs to answer for its failures.” The agency wants to bar the company from monetizing data collected from users under 18. If at first you don’t succeed… (NYT)
Trudeau bill might cause Meta to pull news content in Canada. Rather than pay fees to publishers, Meta would likely cease news content altogether on Facebook and Instagram (lol). (Bloomberg)
Twilight for internet freedom in Singapore. A new online safety bill would allow the government to order platforms to remove content over offenses as vague and trivial as disrupting “national harmony.” (Bloomberg)
Uber’s former chief security officer sentenced for covering up data breach. In 2016 Joe Sullivan concealed a cyberattack from federal investigators; now he’s facing three years of probation. According to Axios, this is “likely the first time a security executive has faced charges for mishandling a data breach.” (Axios)
Riot Games, Activision begin big gender discrimination payouts. In 2021 the companies independently agreed to pay eligible staffers and contractors who had legally valid claims to harm from things like sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination. Over 1,500 women will receive up to $40,000 from Riot Games, and “hundreds” will receive five to six-figure payouts from Activision. (Axios)
Tech trade associations ramping up fight against online protections for minors. State legislators are trying to enact safety and privacy protections for minor social media users; trade associations are lobbying hard to kill those bills. (WaPo)
ByteDance has a “sensitive words” list. The Chinese company monitors the use of hundreds of words across all its social media apps, including TikTok. On the list are terms related to the Uyghurs, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tibet, and US-China relations. Probably nothing. (Forbes)
TikTok tracked which users watched LGBT content. The company claims to have restricted access to this data after 2021, but industry insiders say it should never have been collected. (WSJ)
TikTok responds to US lawmakers in 54-page letter. After the notorious committee hearing in March, lawmakers still had hundreds of questions for TikTok, which the company answered in a long letter published Friday. Executive summary? ‘The CCP has no control over us whatsoever; you have nothing to worry about re: our data collection practices; we have no political biases; and we really care about kids.’ (WaPo)
Investors go all in on AI gold rush (WSJ)
Chegg says ChatGPT is ruining its business. Shares at the company have dropped more than 40%. (CNBC)
White House takes first steps to limit AI risk. Biden dropped in briefly on a gathering of prominent AI CEOs and said: “what you’re doing has enormous potential and enormous danger.” Officials called for “responsible innovation” with “appropriate safeguards.” Also announced: $140 million in NSF spending on new AI research centers, and soon-to-be-released guidelines for government agencies to safely utilize AI. (NYT) (Twitter)
“China races ahead of U.S. on AI regulation.” A verbatim Axios headline on Monday morning, the implication being it is somehow a problem for us if China hamstrings itself in perhaps the most consequential tech arms race of the century (or ever?). (Axios)
“If we stop, guess who’s not going to stop: potential adversaries overseas.” Said the Pentagon’s Chief Information Officer on Wednesday of AI development. Protect this man (from the pernicious influence of mainstream tech reporters) at all costs. (NYT)
AI crime fighters. Axios did like this one though. (Axios)
IBM CEO hopes to replace nearly 8,000 jobs with AI. The company plans to freeze hiring for jobs that could potentially be automated. (WaPo)
Princeton student develops app to prevent AI plagiarism. It’s called GPTZero, and it helps distinguish between human and AI-generated text. Useful for publishers… and Princeton professors. Kind of giving teacher’s pet. (Bloomberg)
Runway AI releases generative AI movie-making toolkit. Using it, you can generate a 15-second reel from a text prompt. FYI if any Pirate Wires subscribers happen to create and send along a super dope text-to-video reel this week, there’s a good chance it makes the next newsletter. (Axios)
Small bank stock prices plunge, then rebound. PacWest Bancorp, Western Alliance, Zions Bancorp, Fifth Third Bancorp, and First Horizon all saw steep declines in share price on Thursday. This was just days after First Republic failed, and only hours after the Federal Reserve declared the banking system “sound and resilient.” Since then, most have seen significant rebounds, but fears of broader financial contagion have not been fully quelled. (NYT) (Twitter) (WSJ)
Soros Fund to buy Vice Media for $400 million. The company was valued at $5.7 billion in 2017. (NY Post)
Harlan Crow paid $150,000 in tuition fees for Clarence Thomas’s nephew. A few weeks ago, we learned Thomas has both accepted and failed to disclose many lucrative gifts from Crow since being appointed to the nation’s highest court. Now, we know that Thomas sent a relative he was raising as a son to an expensive private school on Crow’s dollar. On the one hand: not cool, Clarence. On the other: can’t a Supreme Court sugar baby secure his bag in peace? (ProPublica)
Kellyanne Conway funneled $25k from a nonprofit to Clarence Thomas’s wife. The money — ostensibly paid for consulting work — came from a nonprofit that soon filed a Supreme Court brief for a voting rights case. The conservative judicial activist who hatched the plan told Conway to leave Mrs. Thomas’s name off the billing paperwork: “no mention of Ginni, of course.” (WaPo)
Down goes Tarrio. Four members of the Proud Boys, including former leader Enrique Tarrio, were convicted of seditious conspiracy for their role in the January 6th Capitol riots. A fun fact for the kids: Tarrio once admitted to selling BLM t-shirts after his far-right merch was blacklisted by card-processing companies. (NYT) (Insider)
Supreme Court blocks execution of Oklahoma inmate. The inmate, Richard Glossip, was convicted of arranging the murder of his boss in 1997, and has always maintained his innocence. Even Oklahoma’s state attorney general agreed that the underlying conviction was unsound. (NBC)
Goodnight, Tuesday Morning. The national discount homegoods retail chain is set to shutter all of its roughly 200 remaining stores. (CNN)
9 dead, 7 injured after shooting at Allen, Texas outlet mall. The gunman was shot dead at the scene. The discourse, already pushed to the brink by the Subway Strangler, has been predictably unhinged. (CNN)
Viral links (sorry):
WHO finally declares COVID-19 pandemic emergency over. Thank you? (WSJ)
CDC gets new director. As the US government also officially exits its pandemic emergency era, Rochelle Walensky will step down from her post as CDC director. (WSJ)
FDA approves first RSV vaccine. Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) infection causes cold-like symptoms and kills around 10,000 elderly people per year in the United States. The vaccine is approved for those 60 and up and will be sold by pharmaceutical giant GSK. (NBC)
“ChatGPT doesn’t have childhood trauma.” Such was the slogan on a striking writer’s picket sign, as Hollywood’s ongoing labor dispute involves the threat posed to writing jobs by generative AI. While flexing your childhood trauma is kind of weird to begin with, some more bad news for Hollywood: because ChatGPT is trained on the complete corpus of crazy things crazy people have said, it in fact has many millions of childhoods worth of trauma. (Twitter) (Axios)
Jose Rogan. Listen to Joe Rogan do an Athletic Greens ad in flawless Spanish, and ponder the limitless potential of this mind-boggling technology. (AI Breakfast)
Swifties are indoctrinating children in the classroom. Sick, sick, sick. (Twitter)
Anheuser-Busch CEO distances company from Dylan Mulvaney ads. During a call with investors, CEO Michel Doukeris said “we need to clarify the facts that this was one can, one influencer, one post and not a campaign.” (NY Post)
You are an evil bastard, Conceptual James :). So said Dr. Jordan B. Peterson in jest after news dropped that Northwestern University froze funding for two student groups that hosted James Lindsay. (Twitter) (The Spectator)
Massive piles of cooked pasta appear in New Jersey forest. Like, hundreds of pounds of pasta. No one knows where it came from. Good luck sleeping tonight. (NY Post)
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