Thursday, February 25, 2021

My Quest for Better Internet: it's far more complicated than it should be

 I live in one of the densest cities in the US... San Francisco. 49 square miles with 80000+ residents, yet getting a good reliable Internet connection is far more difficult than it should be. 

At this point, I am with AT&T DSL, because it's the standard phone provider, and DSL was counted as an add-on service. I sorta forgot to look at the overall picture, and turns out I was paying $170 a month for 2 phone lines and 1 18 Mbps down / 1.5 Mbps up ADSL line. 

Which is ridiculous. That sort of connection won't even get me onto many "work from home" jobs which demands are much better connection. At times, I was getting even LESS than that. My actual usable speed is more like 14 Mbps down / 1 Mbps up, as tested by Speedtest. 

Screenshot of my Speedtest results from Nov 2020 to Feb 2021

So I clicked over to AT&T's website, and click on "upgrade my service". Turns out, they only offer ONE level of service to me... the Internet 18 ADSL plan. And I am already on it. And with phone and taxes, it costs me $170 a MONTH. 

My phone's LTE service (through Verizon) was much faster. Averages 80 Mbps down and 10-15 Mbps up. And Verizon is supposedly rolling out "5G Home Internet" in San Francisco. So I went to Verizon's website. Except they aren't. NEITHER 4G/LTE nor 5G Home Internet service is available at my address, and I've had my Verizon account for YEARS. Over a decade, actually. 

So I was thinking... can I use my LTE to supplement my DSL? Turns out, you *can* with Speedify. Connect / tether your phone to your PC, run Speedify, and Speedify will combine BOTH connections into one solid connection for your streaming or uploads or whatever you need. I have one of Verizon's unlimited plans for my cell. Problem solved, right? Wrong, unfortunately. Turns out, unlimited is for phone usage only. Tethering has a 15 GB limit a month, after which it slows down to 0.6 Mbps instead of 15 Mbps.  I blew through the 15GB data cap in TWO DAYS (just for uploading some gameplay videos). So that clearly won't work. I actually paid for a 3-year service (it's only like $3 a month) and I had to cancel. Fortunately, Speedify has a 30-day money-back guarantee. And I HIGHLY recommend the service if you can find a use case for it. 

So back to the search...  I was thinking... if I can't get Home Internet from Verizon, can I get it from one of their competitors? Given AT&T doesn't offer that, it had to be T-Mobile. Turns out, T-Mob has the SAME PROBLEM. No 4G/LTE Home service available at my address in downtown San Francisco, which is definitely in their service zone... for mobile, but not home internet. 

So what's a man who wants the internet to do? Check ALL competitors, of course. This brings me to... Comcast. Let's just say, I've heard horror stories about Comcast, lock you in with modem "rental" that you can easily buy one off eBay or whatever, have to call them every year to demand the promotional rate... But cable Internet does offer a lot better throughput without getting on fiber, which is very limited availability. 

So I get online and chat with Comcast sales rep. He said he will send an engineer out to do a "site survey" to verify availability and get back to me. 48 hours later, I got a call... Turns out, my block is NOT on Comcast's network, but good news... They will wire up my block in the next 60 to 90 days. Guess enough people on my block demanded it to put it on the schedule. But that doesn't help me at all then, does it? And the guy has the gall to ask me if I want to continue the install. I told him no, in an exasperated tone. 

I look around for other vendors, but there really aren't any other choices. 

I called Sonic Internet and they will set me up with dual-line bonded DSL which supposedly will do 60 Mbps down and 10-15 Mbps up. Not quite LTE speed but it's uncapped and unlimited. AND it comes with a phone line... for $130 a month (or less). So basically, it's 4x the bandwidth (or more) than AT&T's service, for $30-40 a month LESS than what I pay AT&T now. 

Sign me up, please. 

Then I cancel AT&T. 

I may revisit the situation in 12 months.  I can go without the phone line (nobody calls on the landline, it's not even connected) so Verizon 5G Home Internet will end up costing less and give me MORE bandwidth... if it ever rolls out. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Psychology of Karen II: The Vigilante Karen sub-type

 Last November I wrote a post about "Psychology of Karen", but I realized I had left something out... a subtype of Karen that base their actions on their supposed superiority (narcissism) rather than entitledness. I call this subspecies of Karen the "vigilante Karen". 

To recap, I postulated that "regular" Karen do things because she:

["Karen"] feels entitled to service (narcissism) and due to either temporary or permanent psychopathy, refused to see her own mistake(s). When confronted by others, instead of self-reflect, her response was to counter-attack by any means available, including doubling down on her mistake, and making false reports to police, because she MUST win, even if she had to engage Machiavellianism by lying. 

However, this is not quite the case in "vigilante Karen". A vigilante Karen, for one reason or another, decided to take on someone else's problem, even though there is either no problem or is none of her business. A vigilante Karen decided to "right some wrong" with her inappropriate behavior. This is in contrast to most "regular" Karens where her behavior is self-centered: "serve me!" "listen to me!" and so on.

Two examples of Vigilante Karens:  

"Vigilante Karen" (a): Karen mom, towing her own child, stalked an unaccompanied minor at an airport because she believed the child's a runaway (she's just waiting for the next flight). 

"Vigilante Karen" (b): picked up a baby from a stroller and was unwrapping the baby despite repeated "no" from the mother, gets accused as a kidnapper and bolted (without the baby). 

The decision-making process is actually quite similar, except the behavior did not stem from entitledness ("I deserved to be served!") but rather, a different aspect of narcissism: a sense of their own importance, that they know better than you. 

If you read through both of the links above, you'll see that both "Karens" believe something and they *must* be right. In (a), Karen believed the child must be a runaway and in (b) the baby should be held, not left in a stroller. And they decided to "right the wrong" by aggressively going after the target, despite multiple indications that their help is neither necessary nor appreciated. 

"Vigilante Karen" feels she knew better than anyone else narcissism) and due to either temporary or permanent psychopathy, refused to see her own mistake(s) and/or why her behavior was inappropriate.  

In case (a), Karen was only stopped by an airport gate employee, who threatened to call security on her, after apparently walking through half of the airport looking for her target. In case (b), Karen apparently realized she really did behave like a kidnapper and bolted. (Though it's possible she really is out to kidnap a child?!)


So how do you deal with the vigilante Karen? 

A vigilante Karen wanted to be "right", and will probably WANT to cooperate with the authorities. She probably would not lie, as she may genuinely be concerned, though her "solution" may be wildly inappropriate. In (a) she wanted to drag the target to a different terminal (where her own flight) and turn her over to the authorities, never mind this is practically kidnapping. And in (b) she decided the baby should be held, and picked the baby up despite objections from the mother. 

Unfortunately, if you are the target, there's nothing you can do to convince Karen she's wrong. Her superiority complex will cause her to ignore all such evidence as happened in (a) "That doesn't prove anything", maybe escalated to "you're lying". 

Generally, you will need to involve the authorities yourself, or shout out and demand attention from everyone nearby, and if the transgression is so egregious, people will react (hopefully). Which should get Karen to back off, and/or authorities be summoned. 

Vigilante Karens do not escalate when people around started paying attention, esp. when summoned by heinous accusations like "kidnapper!", or stopped by someone who actually has authority (like airport gate personnel). They wanted to be "right", and having the crowd or the authorities turn against them is not in their plans. 

This is a marked contrast to the "regular" Karens who can and will exaggerate the problem to authorities. Regular Karens wield authorities (police, manager, etc.) as a "tool" in order to "win", to "punish" people who will not obey her.  Vigilante Karens wanted to be "right" so they will generally want the facts on their side, so they will generally NOT lie and make false reports because that would prove they were wrong to start with. They will usually quit when they realize they can't win. 

VIgilante Karens, being Karens out of "righting some wrong", is less destructive than "regular" Karens who act that way out of entitledness, and therefore inherently less destructive in general. They know when to quit, whereas regular Karens will double- or triple-down, make false reports to police, and so on, and don't know when to quit. 

But they are definitely related.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

The Bogosity of Napoleon Hill

Aside from Robert "Rich Dad" Kiyosaki (who is not really what you think he is), one of the most frequently mentioned names among MLMers, other than their own upline or company head, is likely to be Napoleon Hill. Without further information, you would probably think of Napoleon Hill as some sort of a self-help guru who managed to interview the most famous, the richest, and the `most influential people of his times and thus gaining secrets of success. He claimed to have advised President Woodrow Wilson and wrote Fireside Chats for FDR. He claimed he met with Andrew Carnegie as a no-name writer. Supposedly Carnegie took a liking to him, helped him write his paper, then challenged him to interview the successful people of his time, introduced him to Henry Ford, who then introduced him to others such as Alexander Graham Bell, Luther Burbank, Theodore Roosevelt, Charles M. Schwab, F.W. Woolworth, Willian Wrigley Jr., John D Rockefeller, Harvey Samuel Firestone, and a few more. 

However, actual historians believe most of this is utter fabrication. Or in modern terms, total BS. Carnegie's biographer stated that he had ZERO evidence that Carnegie ever met with Napoleon Hill, muchless collaborated with him or introduced him to others. Outside of ONE documented short meeting with Thomas Edition in 1923 inpublic, there is NO documented evidence of Hill EVER meeting with the famous people whom he supposedly interviewed. All such evidence was "conveniently" lost in a fire. 

Hill claimed to have advised multiple presidents, including helping President Wilson write the treaty of Germany's surrender at Versailles at WW1, as well as advising FDR on how to write his fireside chats. However, White House has NO record of Hill at all. Hill also claimed to be an attorney though even his own biography notes that he never performed legal services for anyone. 

Frankly, this sounds like a lot of Kiyosaki to me. 

Both claimed to have known incredible people, gotten great advice from them, and wrote about such, but did not become tremendous success themselves, but merely supposedly inspirational people with controversy.  Kiyosaki was quoted at an interview by _SmartMoney "Is Harry Potter real? Why don't you let Rich Dad be a myth, like Harry Potter?"  Please keep in mind that "Rich Dad Poor Dad" is published as "non-fiction", similar to "How to Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill.  Only a decade later did Kiyosaki trot out Alan Kimi who claimed his father, Richard Kimi, is Rich Dad.  Frankly, given the decades of silence, and the supposedly "request for privacy" (much like Napoleon Hill's convenient fire destroying much of his rough draft and proof he had met with all those famous people) it's not impossible for Kiyosaki to established enough post-hoc backstops after two decades to cement his "legend". 

But this is about Napoleon Hill. 

Napoleon Hill is not a guru. He's a conman who published fictional interviews with famous people. 

How do we know? Because Carnegie did write "Wealth", later retitled "The Gospel of Wealth", where he stated that rich are mere trustees of their wealth and should dedicate their fortune to the "general good" and the family should live modestly. The advice was quite different from the ones he "supposedly" gave to Napoleon Hill after a supposedly prolonged interview. And it definitely wasn't 300 pages long that Napoleon Hill later expanded the conversation out to be. Even Hill's official biographers admit that it was “a somewhat contrived conversational format featuring Hill and Andrew Carnegie.”

His magnum opus was convincing people that he still is, decades after his death. 

And now you know. 

P.S. For further reference, check this article from Gizmodo

Saturday, January 30, 2021

The Gamestop Short Squeeze and Its Implications on the Widening Wealth Gap

 First of all, there is no denying the wealth gap had been widened between the haves and have-nots during the pandemic. The people who barely got jobs are doing worse than ever. People who had wealth didn't give a **** other than being inconvenienced. 

And currently, the Gamestop Short Squeeze is causing some panic among the most wealthy of investors... such as hedge fund managers, who wield tremendous wealth (of their clients) and can make or break companies. They can't believe a bunch of plebes had caused them to lose a ton of money. 

To make a long story short: a "short-sell" is basically a "bet" that the price of a particular stock would fall. It's also known to "hold a short position". And a lot of hedge funds held a short position on GME (Gamestop) stock, tens of millions worth. On Tuesday, those hedge funds started to panic when GME stock starting moving the OTHER way instead... it's going up, and up. And the hedge fund managers decided to get out and just eat their losses. And when one does, others quickly followed, And their exit from their short position fueled the rise of the prices even higher, cause yet other short sellers to give in. All in all, it was estimated that this one stock caused its short sellers about 5 BILLION dollars net, and 876 million in a single day.  And those who joined the buy-in early reaped tremendous benefits. 

If you want detailed explanations, feel free to Google (tm) "short selling a stock" and "Gamestop short squeeze" and read genuine news sites offering analysis of this event, not just the pundits. 

But what about the wealth gap? 

This is where it becomes interesting. You see, people did engineer the "squeeze", but they have tried to rally the smaller investors for MONTHS, both on Reddit and on wallstreetbets Discord, and probably other venues as well. That they went viral was probably not what they expected. 

But is this "market manipulation"? Or is this within the law, as no untruth was passed around, just a lot of fund managers caught with their pants down, and got... reamed in the process? 

The fund managers are already speaking out... They want the government to stop "meme stocks" from destroying the market... which should probably say "their own portfolio's worth" instead. Some even as far as labeling wallstreetbets as "alt-right"

What's even more interesting is some brokerages have suspended the trade of these so-called "meme stocks" or placed severe restrictions on quantity. Though several later rescinded the limit, claiming that their trade clearinghouse had both technical and financial issues and once those are resolved the trading is back to normal. However, Robinhood so far has yet to relax the 1 share restriction, which is interesting in that Robinhood portrayed itself as an advocate for the small investors, thus the name. 

There's a longer explanation here. Basically, the trading firms cannot execute the trade directly, but have to go through a clearinghouse. And because the clearinghouse is the one who has to actually execute the trade, they are the hold holding the most liability and risk, and that is worse for the most volatile stocks, and thus, the trading prices went up by a sharp margin, and somebody have to cover those costs, as they cannot be covered by customer funds, due to regulations. However, Webull and other platforms, but notably, NOT Robinhood, were able to get Apex to find other partners to cover its risks and trading resumed. 

Indeed, other clearinghouses such as TD Ameritrade Clearing and Charles Schwab Clearing did not choose to restrict trading at all, and Apex only did so for limited time. Robinhood chose to restrict trading. It is worth pointing out however, Robinhood uses its own internal clearing, rather than using an external clearinghouse. 

TL;DR -- Robinhood chose to restrict trading and has yet to relax. Other trading houses either never restricted trading, or was only restricted for a short time while some issues were settled. 

Is this merely coincidental timing? It certainly could be, and how Robinhood does business is indeed its own business, but the timing of the decision makes it the fodder of conspiracy theorists, calling Robinhood a "traitor" and "sellout" to the elite despite its namesake. 

UPDATE: My explanation was haphazard. Apparently, a broker has to provide collateral of which the amount depends on the volatility of the stock to the clearinghouse. And Robinhood's CEO claimed he was woken up at 3AM that the company needs to put up like a billion bucks collateral IMMEDIATELY in subsequent interviews. On the other hand, he refused to admit he was put into a cash crunch by this. He chose to restrict trading, and thus, decrease the need for cash, and thus, there is no cash crunch. 

But really, what Robinhood did was by a) by choosing to restrict trading instead of cash crunch, b) it had instead made itself conspiracy fodder through convenient timing. 

I find Louis Rossmann's explanations on Youtube pretty digestible

In a related case of "convenient timing", Discord is banning the wallstreetbets Discord server due to repeated inability to observe common netizen decency on profanity and bad language. Keep in mind that wallstreetbets Discord and the subreddit are populated by personalities who basically insult each other for kicks, that it became a style that just doesn't fit on Discord. The fact that Discord chose this particular moment to enforce the ban make wallstreetbets look like martyrs and Discord a stooge for the wealthy elite... which is rather (in)convenient timing indeed. 

But the point is... Be skeptical, make sure what you hear are facts, not merely opinions. Opinions makes sense when they are presented because evidence presented are usually one-sided or out of context. Look up all the facts, both sides of the aisle, before making your decision. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

WTF: anti-vax Pharmacist caught sabotaging hundreds of COVID vaccine doses

I have no problem when antivax folks spread nonsense opinions... they are EASILY debunked with the truth, which they cannot debate. And if they don't want the vaccine, the more for the rest of us. But when they actively start to interfere with vaccines, esp. important vaccines like the Moderna COVID vaccine, they need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. 

You may think, they can't be THAT crazy... Turns out... they can be. A Wisconsin pharmacist who worked for a hospital was caught going into the stocks and removing a box of Modera COVID vaccines and leaving them OUT of required refrigeration, with the intention of destroying their effectiveness, then returning them to refrigeration before he would be discovered. Over 50 people have received shots from the doses he tampered with before he was caught. 

So far, those people are doing okay with their immune response, and it seems the vaccine will work even if not quite refrigerated, but officials are not taking any chances and will be tracking all of them. In the meanwhile, several HUNDRED doses of the vaccine will now have to be junked because one man can't allow his irrational belief to be challenged, the public be ****ed. 

And let's just say, tampering with the pandemic vaccine during a national pandemic will bring the FDA CID, the FBI, AND the police down upon you. 

Beware of the next antivaxxer you see. They may be crazy enough to allow you to die for THEIR beliefs. 

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Herbalife 1: Science 0 -- How MLM gets away with SLAPPing science again and again

BehindMLM just reported that Herbalife, through legal threats against scientific journal's staff and publisher, has forced a study finding heavy metal in Herbalife products into MIA status (no longer linked or even published, completely missing, as even "retracted" studies stay online). 

This is very discouraging as this is basically SLAPP: strategic lawsuit against public participation. They are threatening to sue in order to BURY some inconvenient truth. When it didn't work against the researchers who wrote the study, they went after the journal and publisher as well, and they caved despite their editorial panel recommending "retain" for the study. And this is AFTER Herbalife stooge scientists failed to challenge the science

But you have to remember, this is Herbalife, who wore down the FTC so it was ONLY fined 200 million back in 2016, and got FTC to dance around the words "pyramid scheme" in the settlement. Given that Herbalife annual revenue is almost 5 billion ($4.89 billion as of 2018), 200 million is an ouchy, not a serious wound. 

If you do not want to see this stand, it's time to engage the Streisand Effect: publicize this censorship attempt. What are they trying to hide that they used legal teams on multiple continents and tried to (and failed) rebuttal via their own scientists (in Brazil)? 

Thursday, November 12, 2020

The Psychology of Karen: How willful blindness and self-righteousness lead to crazy behaviors

In 2020, the name "Karen" became a pejorative, meaning a probably white woman acting in an extremely socially inappropriate manner. The name Karen is now the embodiment of "white entitledness" usually a white female in her 40's wearing a particular shorter haircut. (note: the male version is often named "Chad")

But Karen is real. Earlier in 2020, Amy Cooper was dubbed New York's "Central Park Karen" when she called the police and claimed a black man threatened her life. In reality, a bird-watcher (who happens to be black, also surnamed Cooper, no relations) asked her to leash her dog in a leash zone in Central Park. If not for him recording the encounter on his phone, "Karen" false accusations may have resulted in him going to jail. 

Many "Karen" tales appeared on in the various "TalesFrom______" subreddits where "a wild Karen appeared" usually preceded by "ahem!". "Karen" then starts making outrageous demands of another person with words such as, "you were moving inventory, you MUST work here! Why don't you serve me? Get off your lazy *** or I'll get you fired!" The story then diverges, but often involving either Karen physically attack the narrator for ignoring her, or summons a manager to deal with the "rude employee". "Karen" then started to embellish the story in her own retelling, claiming to have been attacked by the narrator. The ending may feature "Karen" getting her comeuppance at the hands of either security guard or police. 

Many of which are obviously fictional, but they are rather popular tales. They SOUND plausible. And in the case of Amy Cooper, they actually do exist.  All because Mr. Cooper asked her to leash her dog (that she was supposed to), Amy Cooper called the police to report that an "African American man" threatened her life. It was documented by her 911 call. When the story went viral, Amy Cooper was fired from her job and surrendered her dog, her life basically ruined.  

But what was she thinking? How could she justify her outrageous behavior, even go as far as making a false report to the police? And if a seemingly normal white person can do that... who else is capable of this? And how many other black people or other minorities have suffered from this sort of false reporting in the past? It is an extremely disturbing thought. 

To figure out what a "Karen" was thinking, we need to dive into the mind of a narcissist.