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Budget deal = last-minute booty calls

I wish they were on CNN, because they get a lot closer to the truth than our corporate media. Jon Stewart and John Oliver:

Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman, Google (left) in conversation with Nik Gowing

Absolutely astounding, considering what this company is worth. A disgrace.

An aircraft fleet owned by Google’s founders and former CEO received improper discounts on jet fuel that saved the three billionaires up to $5.3 million dating back to depths of the Great Recession in 2009, according to a government report released Wednesday.

The findings by NASA’s inspector general surfaced during a review of a government airfield lease for seven planes and two helicopters controlled by Google’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and the Internet search company’s former CEO, Eric Schmidt.

The aircraft are managed through a company called H211 set up by the three men through the tremendous wealth that they have accumulated as Google Inc.’s stock price has soared from $85 in 2004 to nearly $1,100. … The H211 aircraft saved somewhere from $3.3 million to $5.3 million beginning in 2009 by buying fuel through an arm of the U.S. Department of Defense at below-market prices that allowed them to avoid state and local taxes, according to the report. The discounts didn’t result in any losses for NASA or the Department of Defense, the report said, but probably deprived the state of California and local government agencies of tax revenue. Other fuel suppliers probably missed out on an opportunity to make money had H211 not worked out the special arrangement with the government.

… “We think it’s pretty outrageous,” said John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog. “Basically, it’s just another example of preferential treatment for the Google guys.”

Thanks to Tony Munter.

The universe is still a hologram

spiral tribe

Except now they have proof:

A team of physicists has provided some of the clearest evidence yet that our Universe could be just one big projection.

In 1997, theoretical physicist Juan Maldacena proposed that an audacious model of the Universe in which gravity arises from infinitesimally thin, vibrating strings could be reinterpreted in terms of well-established physics. The mathematically intricate world of strings, which exist in nine dimensions of space plus one of time, would be merely a hologram: the real action would play out in a simpler, flatter cosmos where there is no gravity.

Maldacena’s idea thrilled physicists because it offered a way to put the popular but still unproven theory of strings on solid footing — and because it solved apparent inconsistencies between quantum physics and Einstein’s theory of gravity. It provided physicists with a mathematical Rosetta stone, a ‘duality’, that allowed them to translate back and forth between the two languages, and solve problems in one model that seemed intractable in the other and vice versa. But although the validity of Maldacena’s ideas has pretty much been taken for granted ever since, a rigorous proof has been elusive.

In two papers posted on the arXiv repository, Yoshifumi Hyakutake of Ibaraki University in Japan and his colleagues now provide, if not an actual proof, at least compelling evidence that Maldacena’s conjecture is true.

Must. Bang. Head. On. Wall.

I knew it was bad. I just didn’t know it was this bad.

So, Greg. You “have no clue” why all those homeless people and junkies are disturbing your pristine view of downtown San Fran? You’re not too smart, are you? You make no connection at all between economic, social, and political influences and their results? What a moron.

Silicon Valley rising star Greg Gopman took to Facebook on Tuesday to rail against poor and homeless residents of San Francisco, inflaming already simmering tensions between the city’s tech industry and low-wage workers.

Gopman, the CEO of the hackathon-organizing startup AngelHack, went on a rant wishing the “crazy, homeless, drug dealers, dropouts, and trash” would segregate themselves and stop marring his experience of San Francisco.


In the comments, Gopman bemoaned how the “degenerates” of San Francisco “gather like hyenas, spit, urinate, taunt you, sell drugs, [and] get rowdy” in an area of town he considers to be off-limits to them. In comparison, he offered a rosy view of more class-segregated cities, where, he says, “the lower part of society keep to themselves. They sell small trinkets, beg coyly, stay quiet, and generally stay out of your way. They realize it’s a privilege to be in the civilized part of town and view themselves as guests.”


Gopman deleted the post and apologized for his diatribe the next morning. “I trivialized the plight of those struggling to get by and I shouldn’t have,” he wrote. “I hope this thread can help start an open discussion on what changes we can make to fix these serious problems.”

The CEO’s comments came just a day after protesters blocked a Google commuter shuttle, decrying tech-driven gentrification and San Francisco’s increasingly unaffordable housing costs. As the uber-rich tech industry migrates north from Silicon Valley the city’s real estate costs have soared, income inequality has worsened, and many long-time San Francisco residents are suddenly being priced out of their neighborhoods.

While Gopman’s post was especially incendiary, he’s not the only one who has expressed the idea that homeless and poor residents are an unsightly burden on the city. Another startup founder, Peter Shih, sparked outrage over the summer by complaining that homeless people were ruining San Francisco for him. This disgust may soon spread past a few insensitive individuals and start influencing actual policy. San Francisco is currently considering criminalizing homelessness by making it illegal to sleep in city parks at night.

Let’s not leave L.A. out of this. Here’s some yuppie scum, making fun of a passed-out homeless man.

Man of the year

Pope Frank.

Joy to the world

The Roches:

Hallelujah Chorus flash mob

I never get tired of it:


Crosby Still & Nash:

Never going back again

Fleetwood Mac live:

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