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Emrys's Journal
Emrys's Journal
October 31, 2022

No, Elon and Jack are not "competitors." They're collaborating.

Elon Musk’s deal to buy Twitter has been met with surprise, derision, and gnashing of teeth — and an overwhelming amount of well-intentioned but poorly-informed commentary and analysis.

As someone who has followed the company closely since its inception and has had a chance to talk in depth about technical topics with Jack Dorsey and the company’s other founders over the years, I have a different view.

Here’s a series of common questions regarding the deal and the relationship between Dorsey and Musk about which I see the most errors and misconceptions.


The article, from a Twitter near-insider who specializes in combating disinformation in tech, is interesting food for thought about what Musk apparently thinks he's trying to do - and the author thinks will end disastrously - and how Jack Dorsey is not Musk's rival.
October 29, 2022

It might be ineresting to compare Twitter sources, but it looks like you have it well covered.

For anyone else who might be interested, here are a few of mine I check out regularly.

Here's Josh Marshall's Ukraine Twitter list (I don't check out this one that often, but it includes some I do, like Anders Åslund, Ukraine Weapons Tracker, Julia Davis (who we've discussed), The Kyiv Independent, Illia Ponomarenko etc.): https://twitter.com/i/lists/1494877848087187461

Individual accounts (mainly aggregators unless they're individuals' names):

The Dead District (based in Georgia) - https://twitter.com/TheDeadDistrict
Glasnost Gone - https://twitter.com/GlasnostGone
NEXTA - https://twitter.com/nexta_tv
Oryx - https://twitter.com/oryxspioenkop
News of Ukraine - https://twitter.com/uasupport999
Russia Vs World - https://twitter.com/RussiaVsWorld_
ТРУХА English - https://twitter.com/TpyxaNews
Euromaidan Press (can get a bit over-excited, depending who's staffing it) - https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress
BlueSauron - https://twitter.com/Blue_Sauron
Trent Telenko - https://twitter.com/TrentTelenko
Phillips P. OBrien - https://twitter.com/PhillipsPOBrien
Visegrád 24 - https://twitter.com/visegrad24
Thomas C. Theiner - https://twitter.com/noclador
WarMonitor - https://twitter.com/WarMonitor3
Rob Lee - https://twitter.com/RALee85
Jason Jay Smart - https://twitter.com/officejjsmart
Jay in Kyiv - https://twitter.com/JayinKyiv
ZMiST - https://twitter.com/ZMiST_Ua

I could draw the individual ones together in a Twitter list, but I think it would be duplicative (and overwhelming!). I check out different ones on different days, depending on mood and the type of info I'm after.

October 28, 2022

Twitter's good for some things - even after Musk took over

Jessica (Ka) L. Burbank, MPA

Well @elonmusk now owns this place so here’s a warm welcome to him and his fans

[Twitter video]

I'm not up for fact-checking this video, but it was worth clicking through to see the Musk fan meldowns in the replies.
October 27, 2022

How the U.K. Became One of the Poorest Countries in Western Europe

Britain chose finance over industry, austerity over investment, and a closed economy over openness to the world.

The past few months have been rough for the United Kingdom. Energy prices are soaring. National inflation has breached double digits. The longest-serving British monarch has died. The shortest-serving prime minister has quit.

You probably knew all of that already. British news is covered amply (some might say too amply) in American media. Behind the lurid headlines, however, is a deeper story of decades-long economic dysfunction that holds lessons for the future.

In the American imagination, the U.K. is not only our political parent but also our cultural co-partner, a wealthy nation that gave us modern capitalism and the Industrial Revolution. But strictly by the numbers, Britain is pretty poor for a rich place. U.K. living standards and wages have fallen significantly behind those of Western Europe. By some measures, in fact, real wages in the U.K. are lower than they were 15 years ago, and will likely be even lower next year.

This calamity was decades in the making. After World War II, Britain’s economy grew slower than those of much of continental Europe. By the 1970s, the Brits were having a national debate about why they were falling behind and how the former empire had become a relatively insular and sleepy economy. Under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, markets were deregulated, unions were smashed, and the financial sector emerged as a jewel of the British economy. Thatcher’s injection of neoliberalism had many complicated knock-on effects, but from the 1990s into the 2000s, the British economy roared ahead, with London’s financial boom leading the way. Britain, which got rich as the world’s factory in the 19th century, had become the world’s banker by the 21st.

October 26, 2022

Just one of many reasons Braverman has to go

At today's Prime Minister's Questions, Keir Starmer tried to hold Rishi Sunak to account for a number of issues. Sunak appeared to have shed the faux-humility he feigned in his stilted acceptance speech the other day and decided to channel Boris Johnson's rambustious style of baying obfuscation in response to any question he didn't feel like answering properly.

One such question concerned his reappointed/reprieved Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, and the shady circumstances surrounding her dismissal/resignation from Liz Truss's shortlived cabinet in the dim and distant past of last week. Braverman admitted having breached the ministerial code by using her private email account for government business and apologized for her "error" (note singular). But there's a bit more to it than that.

A detail in a Times article by Tim Shipman and Carol Wheeler shed more light on what was going on:

... Simon Case, the cabinet secretary, alerted Truss that Suella Braverman, the home secretary, had committed two breaches of the ministerial code. She had emailed cabinet papers from her ministerial account to her private gmail account and then on to backbench veteran Sir John Hayes, a fellow right-winger. She also copied in someone she thought was Hayes’s wife but was actually an assistant to Andrew Percy, the MP for Brigg and Goole. After taking advice from colleagues, Percy spoke to the chief whip, Wendy Morton, who referred the issue to Case.

Braverman was later to argue that the document was simply a written ministerial statement, that she had had a blazing row with Truss about immigration numbers (implying that was the real reason for her dismissal) and that she had sent it by mistake at 4am. It was, in fact, sent three or four hours later that morning.

A No 10 source was withering: “She doesn’t make any decision without consulting John Hayes,” who had been acting as an unofficial adviser, frequently seen in the Home Office, meetings which had come to the attention of Matthew Rycroft, the permanent secretary. “Concerns had been raised prior to Wednesday that Braverman might have been sharing restricted government documents with people she shouldn’t have,” a source said. Braverman agreed to resign.


The Ministerial Code nowadays seems to be honoured more in the breach than the observance, and few expect a state apparatus under the control of a party of government that did its damnedest to protect Boris Johnson and his allies from any consequences for such transgressions to impose any serious sanction on Braverman.

It's not a stretch to infer that Braverman has made a habit of sharing government documents with John Hayes (and goodness knows who else) - and for some reason, his wife - for quite some time.

If anyone wants to slip down the rabbit hole and check out who Hayes is and what he stands for, here's his Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Hayes_(British_politician). Holder of what has been the safest Tory seat in the UK, he has some predictably charming views on issues ranging from capital punishment to equal marriage to abortion and, of course, Brexit. He's also a "strategic adviser to BB Energy, a Dubai-headquartered energy trading group".

As for immigration, the Guardian's been doing its own digging to flesh out Hayes's side of the story:

Sir John Hayes: ‘in lockstep’ with Suella Braverman on immigration
Veteran Tory MP was intended recipient of home secretary’s plans sent from her personal email

Hayes told the Guardian last week that [Braverman] planned to campaign alongside him on immigration from the backbenches.

“Suella in seeking my advice, sent a draft policy document to me, which she inadvertently ended up sending to a third party in parliament. That is a technical breach of the code,” he said.

“She reported herself and accepted responsibility. She’s disappointed to leave office but resolved to continue to campaign with me and others to fulfil the party’s manifesto commitments to cut legal immigration and end illegal migration.”


Who the "others" are and whether any of them have also been recipients of illicit emails from Braverman, directly or via Hayes, is a question that deserves an answer, but on current form, that's not going to happen on the floor of the Commons.

This may end up being a relatively trivial matter with no serious repercussions for those involved. Maybe it'll be a shot across Braverman's bow that stops such future "unofficial consultations" with Hayes and whoever else. But I have a feeling something else may happen soon that may see her implode, as she seems rather accident-prone.

Meanwhile, I'd rather see Braverman held to account for her hideous views on immigration and asylum seekers, among many other aspects of her portfolio, but it looks like Labour isn't well placed to tackle her on those issues since Starmer declared last week that there's little between Labour and the Tories on immigration.
October 20, 2022

Too late. Nuclear plants take too long to build. We need solutions sooner.

In the UK, the new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point C has been disastrous in the numerous delays it's suffered and its cost overruns for a variety of reasons. If the same finances had been devoted to developing renewable resources we're already using and tapping newer ones, it would have been better for the environment and the economy. We've never built a nuclear plant that's come in on schedule and on budget.

The usual complaint about renewable resources is that they're intermittent. How this can be addressed depends on geographical location. Already some wind and solar installations are twinned with battery complexes. We also have hydro schemes which can be used as accumulators to balance loads and demands and are long-tried and tested technology. Battery technology is not without its own problems, but innovations arise every year, and with more concerted investment their environmental and financial costs could no doubt be reduced. There are also innovations like using columns of superheated sand to serve as storage. Such technology is much less pie in the sky than the trumpeted new nuclear technologies, some of which are always just beyond the horizon. There are also extensive interconnectors between European countries that can share the load and help to balance demand with supply.

There are also natural resources which aren't intermittent. It's been a source of great frustration for we who live in the UK that the government has been so reluctant and slow to invest in tidal power - which is predictable, and has sufficient overlapping cycles around our coast that it could provide baseload. This again is technology that's now being belatedly applied here. There's also geothermal energy, which has been deployed in some cities around the world, but for some reason our government would rather drill and frack for oil and gas rather than tap into energy which is pretty much unlimited, low-cost and low-risk.

All of the technologies I've mentioned could be developed and deployed more quickly than nuclear installations. And it's amusing to see the myth propagated here that nuclear power is somehow carbon-neutral. No source of electricity and power - including renewables - is, and in the case of nuclear, the costs will extend way beyond the lifetimes of any of us alive now. Nuclear power plants also require backup from other sources in case they have to suddenly go offstream for any reason, and in the UK at least, that's meant various types of gas power plant that can be brought onstream very quickly.

The nuclear technologies currently in use also require water cooling at some stage in their generation cycles. This means either building them on the coast and using seawater - risky when we're faced with the sea level rise that's predicted - or, as the French do, building them by substantial rivers. That was all very well until the extended droughts this past summer catastrophically reduced some rivers to shadows of their usual selves.

None of this contradicts the idea that it makes little sense right now to withdraw from service, for instance, German nuclear plants and revert to burning coal for electricity there. The costs are sunk, except for the not insignificant risk of accident the bulk of their environmental impact has already occurred, and if they have relatively safe lifespans left, I'd tolerate squeezing some more time out of them, even though doing so is going to be something of a gamble.

And finally, if the war in Ukraine has taught us one thing, it's that nuclear plants can be used to hold hostage any countries that host them.

October 18, 2022

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford shouts down Welsh Tory leader in Senedd [Twitter video]

This is really remarkable from Drakeford, who is usually very mild-mannered and even-tempered. The righteous anger leaps off the screen.


Peter Gillibrand

The First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, has just shouted at the leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies, in the Senedd after a question about the Welsh NHS…

[Twitter video]


This exchange mirrors regular ones in the Scottish Parliament, where the Tories similarly seek to politicize NHS delivery to attack the governing party and shamelessly shrug off any blame for their own actions in government.
October 14, 2022

American voice actor imitates Scottish regional accents near-perfectly [Twitter videos]

With so much nonsense and heaviness around at the the moment. I found this quite a lift. Apart from Aberdonian (an outlier even in Scotland, and I'm sure he'll perfect it in time), Tyler Collins pretty much nails them all (though the auto-subtitles aren't 100% right!).


Tyler Collins

Dispelling rumours it’s impossible for Americans to do this one thing.

[Twitter video]

Tyler Collins

Follow up.

[Twitter video]

Tyler Collins

Thanks for the lovely reactions Scotland!! Yer aw fit

[Twitter video]
October 13, 2022

'Worse than Theresa May': Liz Truss faces revolt in 'brutal' encounter with backbench Tory MPs

Tory MPs are ‘openly plotting how to put this Government out of its misery,’ one MP said
Speaking to the 1922 Committee of MPs on Wednesday night, Ms Truss “called for the party to highlight the devastation that would have been caused to small business had we not acted” by capping energy bills, according to a No 10 source. She added that “Labour had no plan to avert this”.

But in response, critics including Robert Halfon, the chairman of the Commons education committee, accused her to her face of abandoning Conservative values and questioned her decision-making ability – prompting rounds of applause from colleagues.

One MP told i: “That was a worse 1922 meeting than any under Theresa May. Brutal.” MPs are “openly plotting how to put this Government out of its misery,” they said.

Ms Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng will hold talks with rebel MPs from next week onwards to convince them that the “medium-term fiscal plan” on 31 October will address their concerns, according to Thérèse Coffey, the Deputy Prime Minister. She added: “It’s all about engagement.”


The disastrous 1922 Committee meeting followed a disastrous Prime Minister's Questions performance from Truss during the afternoon. So bad was the committee meeting that afterwards Truss was driven to attend the Commons Tea Room in a desperate measure to seem engaged with her party's MPs, many of whom had instead headed straight for the Strangers Bar for a stiff drink or many.

The Twitter hashtag #1922Committee is teeming with reports of despairing observations from Tory MPs exiting the meeting, some of which will no doubt form the basis for articles like this one from the Guardian:

At a meeting of the backbench 1922 Committee, MPs described her performance as “just appalling” and raised serious concerns about mortgage rates and polls showing a hefty Labour lead.

The chair of the education select committee, Robert Halfon, told Truss she had “trashed the last 10 years of workers’ Conservatism”, citing achievements under David Cameron and Boris Johnson such as apprenticeships and levelling up, and comparing those priorities to tax cuts and banker bonuses. The MP Julian Lewis asked if Truss was planning to compensate mortgage holders.

Leaving the room, one MP said the atmosphere was “funereal” and another that the prime minister had “done absolutely nothing to reassure colleagues whatsoever”. Another described the situation as impossible.


One such report suggested that as many as 40 Tories might join the Opposition in the lobby if a no confidence vote is called soon.

BBC Newsnight offered this summary:
BBC Newsnight

#Newsnight’s Political Editor @nicholaswatt examines whether momentum is building within the Tory party to replace the PM

Where does Liz Truss go from here?

[Twitter video]

A random Twitter user offered this one:
Rich Payne 🌱

How the fuck are all our key leadership decisions made by someone “going to tearoom” or writing a letter to the “1922 Committee”?

This is real life in 2022, not fucking Hogwarts. Embarrassment of a country.

Hogwarts would be an improvement. It at least had some discipline and direction, nobody froze and everybody got to eat, and the goodies won in the end.

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