Discrepancies

I can’t say I’m terribly surprised to be informed that the Clinton Foundation accounting appears to be more than a little shady:

The Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation filed Its 2016 Annual Report to California on Form RRF-1 seven days past the final deadline on Nov. 22, 2017. This key document was subsequently rejected.

That means the best-known Clinton charity has not been operating in full compliance with California laws for months, an adverse fact that should have been disclosed in other U.S. states where Clinton charities solicit donations, especially including New York.

Another glaring problem with the rejected California filing is that the total revenues of $77 million declared for the whole of the Clinton Foundation are much less than the $217 million in combined grants and contributions claimed on its 2016 external audit, which is available on page 5.

The calculation is: Total contributions of $135,445,489 plus total grants of $81,153,172 equal combined revenues of $216,598,561, which rounds up to $217 million. This large discrepancy is only part of the problems facing the Clinton Foundation in California.

On Feb. 22, 2018, Becerra demanded receipt of information concerning “all government funding, including grants from foreign governments” received by the foundation during 2016. The deadline for receipt is March 24, 2018.

California charity laws are tougher than those in many other U.S. states. In California, for example, charities must disclose particulars concerning all government grants, including those by foreign government entities.

These particulars, including amounts, are available to state regulators because California also requires that charities disclose (confidentially) the names of all donors giving 2 percent or more of total revenues in a given year, as listed on Schedule B of their federal tax filings.

The Clinton Foundation’s 2016 federal filing poses additional problems. Total revenues declared in Part VIII, line 1h, were just $63 million, or $14 million less than the amount declared on the California RRF-1 filing — and a whopping $154 million less than the figure independently confirmed by auditor CohnReznick.

It’s also a little remarkable that the Clintons continue on their rapacious mission to rake in more and more money… and for what? They both look like death mildly reheated these days. Hillary can’t even navigate a simple set of stairs. What on Earth will another million, or ten million, do to improve their quality of life one iota?


Corporate fraud

I imagine there are probably a lot of violations that merit investigation, particularly among the Trump-hating technology companies.

The U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating whether Apple Inc. violated securities laws concerning its disclosures about a software update that slowed older iPhone models, according to people familiar with the matter.

The government has requested information from the company, according to the people, who asked not to be named because the probe is private. The inquiry is in early stages, they cautioned, and it’s too soon to conclude any enforcement will follow…. Several weeks ago, the company admitted to slowing down the performance of older iPhones models to make their batteries last longer. Apple released a software update early in 2017 that throttled older iPhones, but didn’t specify that the action slowed the devices. In December, Apple apologized for not clearly communicating this information and vowed to release another update to mitigate the concern.

What, they think everyone forgot how Clinton and Obama audited and investigated conservative organizations and corporations?


Mailvox: remember the cartoon?

A small businessman asks if hiring a known SJW is an acceptable risk in certain specific circumstances:

I have a situation that I’d appreciate your perspective on, and which may be of interest to you as material for a blog post.

I have a business which operates full time. It’s small—just us and a handful of independent contractors—but it has provided well for us the past few years, and we are looking to hire someone on a full time or close-to-full-time basis, which would be a major investment of resources.

We have found what seems to be the perfect person for the job: a woman with the time to devote to our projects, and who has the right experience and skill set for the wide range of tasks she would be performing. She understands our industry and market, has also done some limited work with us, and we have been pleased with what she has produced. She appears to be a very self-motivated, hard-working person, one we could count on for the high level of productive output we need. Hiring her would be a tremendous help, and would enable us to branch out into new markets that we don’t have time to work on ourselves. But…

In the process of considering this person, I researched social media and found out that she was, to say the least, not in agreement with our theological, political, and social views. A summary:

  • Marion Zimmer Bradley fan
  • Belongs to a “Social Justice Committee.”
  • Aggressively pro-abortion
  • Aggressively pro-LGBTQ
  • Supports the SPLC.
  • Anti-alt-right, anti-white-nationalism
  • Defends Antifa while condemning white nationalists.

Basically, this woman couldn’t be more of a social-justice-minded leftist if John Stuart Mill spawned her from the dust of the ground.

Here’s the thing: I think it’s likely, in our context, that political discussions would never even come up. But I have all kinds of red flags popping up and alarm bells going off. In our small business situation, what kinds of dangers could we encounter from a person like this?

Is there a difference between a social justice activist and a social justice warrior? Our personal interactions with this woman have been good, and she seems very decent and kind—though I realize there’s a reason you chose a smiley face for the cover of your SJWs books, which I have read. I know it’s possible that she is a decent, honest, though deceived person, who would never dream of trying to destroy us if she found out that we stand against everything she stands for. On the other hand…

No, there is no difference. My advice is straightforward. Do NOT hire this individual. Do not even THINK about hiring this individual. Once she finds out that you are opposed to the sacred Narrative, she will devote her life to sabotaging your business in ways you can’t possibly imagine or anticipate, even if that is directly opposed to her rational self-interest. Since he has read SJWAL, the Chapter One cartoon should have been sufficient to answer his question.



Upon further review

Last night I made two comments that drew an amount of attention. Well, three, actually. Allow me to explain:

First, as a result of Marvel badly misplaying its hand in an attempt to bypass the two major comics distributors and go direct-to-dealer in the late 90s, Diamond managed to establish a near-monopoly over the comics distribution business. Like all monopolies, their customer service has gone downhill as their prices have risen. If you combine their own reports on total retail sales with Hoover’s report on their annual revenue, Diamond takes 22 percent of the total retail dollar that goes through the comics stores. That amounts to a 37 percent markup, 17 points and 85 percent more than is normal for a distribution business.

It’s good to be the monopolist. The additional markup amounts to $55.8 million annually, or $31,885 in lost profit to each of the 1,750+ brick-and-mortar comics stores in the USA. It’s no wonder these stores are struggling or that long-established retail establishments are closing down everywhere from Arizona to Iowa and Sacramento. Diamond isn’t evil or even particularly rapacious, they are simply failing to recognize that they have been devouring their own seed corn. The rise of digital delivery systems combined with the shrinking physical channel is going to place Diamond in an increasingly difficult position; I would expect them to buy some of the independent publishers and get into content production themselves as time goes on, since from what I hear they are pretty smart.

Second, we have found it difficult to establish Alpenwolf even though we have completed one DevGame game and have several others in various stages of development because the major free game sites, Addicting Games and Kongregate, have kept changing their strategies in ways that make it difficult to work for them. Since we already built a complete virtual goods and virtual currency infrastructure, there is no reason why we shouldn’t simply launch our own free-to-play site. It’s going to be very small by gaming standards, and will probably launch with 3-5 games, but at least we’ll have a vehicle for getting our games out there to the gamers. From there, its simply a matter of building traffic and that’s not a challenge that frightens us. Frankly, it’s probably preferable to be able to grow slowly and steadily int his regard. Look for announcements asking for volunteers concerning forum moderation and writing trivia questions for everything from the NFL and NCAA football to comics and television shows in the next few months.

Third, if you think Neil Gaiman is a great novelist, or even a great SF/F novelist, you are simply wrong. He is a successful, talented and much-loved SF/F author, and understandably so, but he is also little more than a very successful stunt writer with two or three tricks in his bag. There is a reason that all of his notable books involve mythology of one sort or another; his true gift is translating ancient myth into a form that pleases postmodern palates. He also has the ability to convey that sense of the numinous that I lack. But Neal Stephenson, William Gibson, Alan Moore, John C. Wright, China Mieville, Nick Cole, and even George R.R. Martin are all better, more original SF/F writers with considerably more to say about the human condition than Gaiman.

When I have thought about the writers whose work I would like to be able to emulate or surpass over the years, Neil Gaiman never once entered into the equation, not even for a moment. Consider that American Gods is described as “Neil Gaiman’s best and most ambitious novel yet.” I liked that story considerably better when it was called Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul and On the Road. That being said, of the various comics I have read, Sandman is head-and-shoulders above the rest.

As for my own writing, you might contemplate this: How many other authors flow as easily across as broad a range of genres as I do? How many authors have historically done so? Perhaps my inability to focus precludes achieving greatness in any one genre, but I think that sort of unusual breadth at least merits consideration.

UPDATE: this guy has a skeptical, but reasonable perspective on the situation.

To say Arkhaven has been controversial is an understatement. From the moment the company’s flagship title, Alt-Hero, was announced the internet was debating whether a right wing perspective would “save” comics, or further damage an already fractured industry. But as I said before, what’s lacking is a shared notion of what “saving comics” really means. That said, there is a general consensus that Mark Waid’s head on pike would be a good start. Which brings us back to Vox Day and Arkhaven. Most criticism directed toward Vox can be boiled down to: “The last thing comics needs is another goddamn writer with an agenda.”

A self-described libertarian nationalist and member of the Alt-Right, Vox Day has never been shy about his politics. Likewise, his yet to be release Alt-Hero series looks to be something of a satire of today’s overly politicized comics. The project is still months away from completion, so for now we’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, Arkhaven has two titles digitally available on Amazon—Quantum Mortis and Right Ho, Jeeves. Both are selling well. Neither are political in nature. And there’s the rub—Alt-Hero could be a political screed. Then again, maybe not. But so far Arkhaven’s catalog hasn’t shown itself to be a mouthpiece for anybody’s politics. If only we could say the same for Marvel.

Does this signal a new dawn for comics? Well, if bringing content to an ignored demographic is Arkhaven’s end goal, it’s not a bad start. And drawing new readers to the medium is a net gain for everyone. But as Green Lantern artist Ethan Van Sciver has been quick to point out, the company currently has no presence in Diamond’s monthly Previews catalog, which is a prerequisite for getting books stocked in comic book stores. And in Sciver’s eyes, if a company isn’t moving product through brick-and-mortar shops, it’s contributing absolutely nothing to the overall health of the industry.

I’ll be blunt, if Arkhaven can eventually become successful enough to provide comics shops with enough monthly product to pay the rent, Vox will not only save the industry, he’ll be the motherfucking Batman.

Better yet, the Shade.


The most hostile work environment on the planet

James Damore’s lawsuit is making it clear to everyone just how toxic the work environment is at Google. It is so extreme that even Rod Dreher has taken notice of the lethal convergence.

7. ‘Discourage them all throughout the industry’
“If we really care about diversity in tech, we don’t just need to chase serial offenders out of Google, we need to discourage them all throughout the industry,” a lengthy internal post on Damore read. “We should be willing to give a wink and a nod to other Silicon Valley employers over terminable offenses, not send the worst parts of tech packing with a smile …”

8. ‘I will hurt you’
Damore’s memo prompted another employee to post this quote: “I’m a queer-ass nonbinary trans person that is fucking sick and tired of being told to open a dialogue with people who want me dead. We are at a point where the dialogue we need to be having with these people is ‘if you keep talking about this shit, i will hurt you.”

9. ‘Relies on crowdsourced harassment’
Google encourages employees to enforce unwritten norms by harassing and ostracizing those who break them, according to the suit, and by allowing employees to create “blocklists” on their communications systems. “[Google] relies on crowdsourced harassment and ‘pecking’ to enforce social norms (including politics) that it feels it cannot write directly into its policies,” the suit states.

11. ‘You’re being blacklisted…at companies outside Google’
Google manager Adam Fletcher wrote in 2015 he would never hire conservatives he deemed hold hostile views. “I will never, ever hire/transfer you onto my team,” he wrote. “Ever. I don’t care if you are perfect fit or technically excellent or whatever. I will actively not work with you, even to the point where your team or product is impacted by this decision. I’ll communicate why to your manager if it comes up. You’re being blacklisted by people at companies outside of Google,” he added. “You might not have been aware of this, but people know, people talk. There are always social consequences.”

It’s really rather remarkable how completely out of control the big technology companies are. And it’s going to be even more remarkable to see how fast they collapse once the artificial circumstances keeping them afloat change. They are like hollow, cancer-ridden giants and I expect that several of them will vanish as soon as the debt-equity bubble pops.

Convergence tends to metastasize after a company hits its peak. We’re seeing this in industry after industry, and particularly in corporations whose executives start to believe their position is unassailable.


You can’t even hope to contain him

James Damore files his much-anticipated lawsuit against Google, and reveals a number of surprising facts about Google policy:

Google Provides Internal Tools to Facilitate Blacklisting

Google’s internal company systems allowed employees and managers to maintain a “block list” of other employees with whom they did not wish to interact. For example, if A adds B to her block list, B is not able to look A up in the company directory, communicate with A through the internal instant messaging system, view A’s contact information or management chain, or see A’s  posts on internal social media. A and B would not be able to work together constructively on an engineering project if either person blocked the other.

It is common knowledge within Google that employees were habitually added to block lists for expressing conservative political views. In these comments, employees and managers discussed using block lists to sabotage other Googlers’ job transfers onto their teams.

When an employee was blocked by a manager in another department in retaliation for reporting misconduct, Google HR defended the practice of blacklisting co-workers, stating: “Thanks for sharing this. Co-workers are allowed to control who can access their social media accounts (like G+ and hangouts). Unless your inability to access John’s social media accounts is negatively impacting your ability to do your job, we don’t find any information to suggest that John is retaliating against you in violation of policy.”

 On a separate occasion, another Googler posted: “Another day, another entry on a  blacklist I wish wasn’t necessary to keep.” This was reported to Google HR. Google HR responded that the employee “was just expressing his own personal opinion on who he likes working with, [therefore] we did not find his comments to violate Google policy.”

At a “TGIF” all-hands meeting on October 26, 2017, an employee directly asked executives about the appropriateness of employees keeping political blacklists. Kent Walker, the Senior Vice President of Legal, dodged the question rather than repudiating the practice of  blacklisting.

On September 8, 2017, a group of conservative employees met with Paul Manwell, Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s Chief of Staff, to raise concerns about the ongoing problem of politically motivated blacklisting, bullying, and discrimination at Google. This meeting was a direct response to the company’s handling of the Damore situation.

The conservative employees shared their own experiences with discrimination and asked the management for three major reforms. First, they asked for clarity around communication  policies, recommending that Google publish a clearer statement on what is acceptable and unacceptable employee communication, and that any and all complaints about communication be adjudicated through “a documented, fair, transparent, and appealable process.” In the meeting, the employees pointed out that company leadership was sending mixed messages on whether it was even  permissible to criticize diversity policies. Second, the employees requested protection from retaliation, asking the leadership to make a public statement that conservatives and supporters of Damore would not be punished in any way for their political stances. Third, the conservative employees asked the company to make it clear that the hostile language and veiled threats directed at Damore and his supporters were unacceptable, and in the interest of making Google a healthier environment for employees of all political stripes, the managers and VPs who made such statements should retract them. On information and belief, none of these reforms ever took place.

In or around October 2017, a number of diversity activists at Google indicated that they had met with VPs Danielle Brown and Eileen Naughton in order to ensure that they would be able to continue blacklisting and targeting employees with whom they had political disagreements. On October 22, 2017, a conservative employee asked HR to help put him in contact with company leadership to discuss the issue of targeted political harassment. This request was acknowledged by Employee Relations on October 31, 2017. On December 22, 2017, Employee Relations indicated to the employee that they would not be following up on his concerns about the systemic problems he raised, and they considered the matter closed.

Google Maintains Secret Blacklists of Conservative Authors

On August 26, 2016, Curtis Yarvin, a well-known conservative blogger who has reportedly advised Steve Bannon, Peter Thiel, and other members of the Trump administration, visited the Google office to have lunch with an employee. This triggered a silent alarm, alerting security personnel to escort him off the premises.

It was later discovered that other influential conservative personalities, including Alex Jones and Theodore Beale, are also on the same blacklist.

On or about September 15, 2016, a Google employee asked HR if the writers could be removed from the blacklist. HR refused to help with the request, and instead, reconfigured the internal system so that it was no longer possible to see who was on the blacklist.

Google Allowed Employees to Intimidate Conservatives with Threats of Termination

In the midst of any heated political discussion at Google, it has become commonplace to see calls for conservatives to be fired or “encouraged to work elsewhere” for “cultural fit” reasons. Googlers are extremely proud of the fact that the company has created a “shared culture of shared  beliefs” and openly discriminates against job applicants who do not share the same political ideology.

I’m flattered, of course. Is it not better to be feared than respected? But it’s not as if it has done them any good, as Google leaks worse than the average White House.


Defensive telecommuting

Sarah Hoyt predicts an increase in defensive telecommuting due to the expected rise in the number of false accusations of sexual harassment:

One of the predictions I’m seeing everywhere, for instance, is how now Human Resources will need a lot more power over companies to prevent more #metoo incidents of sexual importuning of women.

The funny thing about this is that anyone with two eyes and a modicum of understanding of the world knows that this is not where the crazy is headed. As the attempt to drown out the legitimate cases of harassment – mostly by leftists, in leftist-dominated institutions – by claiming #metoo and that all men were essentially harassers became more frantic, it has become obvious that any man can be accused of harassment at any time by anyone.

So, here is a genuine prediction: I predict that instead of giving HR more power, this will give companies pause before hiring women, which will lead to a lot of decent and qualified women being left unemployed.

The second-order effect of that, for companies that can’t avoid hiring women, is two-fold: they’ll either hire women to “make-believe” positions, in which they interact only or primarily with other women, creating a drain on the bottom line, or they will allow a lot more work-at-home by both men and women.  I predict we’ll see a great move towards that in the next year.

It’s true that at this point, any man would have to either be insane or incredibly short-sighted to hire or voluntarily work with a woman in any role that involved direct physical contact. The Left is trying to set up its usual “heads I win, tails you lose” situation here, but as we all know, a no-win situation is just another way to spell “carte blanche”.

And giving more power to HR to cure corporate ills is akin to prescribing two packs a day to someone already suffering from lung cancer.


Convergence kills

The business world is beginning to recognize that more and more corporations have a diversity problem:

Does the world of comic-book superheroes have a diversity problem?

The question matters a lot for investors. Here’s why.

Consumers pay up for good, original content. And comic books come through in spades. They spawn a colorful array of endearing superheroes, followed by profitable movie spinoffs, action figures and collectibles.

Thus superheroes play a significant role in sales trends at Time Warner TWX, +0.26{139dcce145f96af3658d0fca91371b90d108412f7d21b6b2f7ff4f9655f4a3ee}  and Walt Disney Co. DIS, +0.12{139dcce145f96af3658d0fca91371b90d108412f7d21b6b2f7ff4f9655f4a3ee} home of DC Comics and Marvel Entertainment, respectively. They also impact sales at Netflix NFLX, +0.64{139dcce145f96af3658d0fca91371b90d108412f7d21b6b2f7ff4f9655f4a3ee} which has produced two popular series based on comic-book characters, Cinemark CNK, +1.49{139dcce145f96af3658d0fca91371b90d108412f7d21b6b2f7ff4f9655f4a3ee} Regal Entertainment RGC, +0.04{139dcce145f96af3658d0fca91371b90d108412f7d21b6b2f7ff4f9655f4a3ee} AMC Entertainment AMC, +5.32{139dcce145f96af3658d0fca91371b90d108412f7d21b6b2f7ff4f9655f4a3ee} Hasbro HAS, -0.16{139dcce145f96af3658d0fca91371b90d108412f7d21b6b2f7ff4f9655f4a3ee} and Mattel MAT, -1.79{139dcce145f96af3658d0fca91371b90d108412f7d21b6b2f7ff4f9655f4a3ee}

So if the new wave of “diverse” superheroes has caused the recent slump in comic-book sales growth, that’s a trend investors need to sit up and notice.

In the past few years, Disney’s Marvel Entertainment has rolled out an Afro-Latino Spider-Man, a Muslim Ms. Marvel, a female Thor, a gay Iceman, a Korean Hulk, an African-American female lead in Iron Man, and a lesbian Latina America Chavez.

Now fans accustomed to more “traditional” characters may have come down with diversity fatigue. And they could be walking away in protest….

Already, the trends don’t look good. Last year, sales growth of comic books, graphic novels and digital offerings cooled off to 5.3{139dcce145f96af3658d0fca91371b90d108412f7d21b6b2f7ff4f9655f4a3ee} as revenue hit $1.08 billion, says ICv2. That was significantly lower than the 9.9{139dcce145f96af3658d0fca91371b90d108412f7d21b6b2f7ff4f9655f4a3ee} annual average growth during 2010-2015.

This year could be even worse. ICv2 President Milton Griepp says comic-book store sales fell 10.5{139dcce145f96af3658d0fca91371b90d108412f7d21b6b2f7ff4f9655f4a3ee} in the first nine months of this year compared with the same time in 2016. He doesn’t yet have hard numbers for digital and regular bookstore sales. But he doubts they will be strong enough to offset the steep decline at comic-book stores, which account for over half of sales.

Convergence represents a problem for some, but tremendous opportunity for others. And as for our foray into comics, we are on track to release at least two 24-pagers in both digital and print format in February, as well as a pair of full-length black-and-white graphic novels.

And the good news is that SJWs always double down, as one perspicacious and hauntingly magnetic observer has noted.

Marvel also pushes back on the theory that diversity hurts sales…. So Marvel is sticking to its guns. “We have had such a great opportunity to create new and interesting characters that are truly representative of the way the world is,” says Sana Amanat, Marvel’s content development director who helped create Kamala Kahn, the popular Muslim Ms. Marvel. “We have made great strides, and we have more to go.”

But the writer has what really promises to be a great idea:

Here’s a suggestion for Cebulski, from the cheap seats. Your company, Marvel, loves to say it reflects the world outside your window. If so, why not step up and launch a series that features alt-right characters battling it out with social justice warriors?  

That would, indeed, be intriguing, would it not? What a brilliant idea!

 

Beyond improbable

So, as you may recall, the Christmas adverts in the UK were suspiciously interethnic this year. Six of the major retailers, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Debenham’s, Sainesbury and Tesco, all just happened to feature interethnic couples who, despite the fairly complex web of interethnic relations tracked by Her Majesty’s Government, all just happened to be of the black man-white woman variety.

Now, I am fully accustomed to the usual excuse-mongering about how interethnicity simply reflects modern society and how anyone who finds this to be suspicious, unlikely, improbable, or indeed, anything less than inspiring is a dirty, double-dyed racist who is unfit to live in any civilized society. Nevertheless, I thought that I would run the numbers to see just how likely it would be for six major commercials to just happen to feature that particular interethnic combination.

There are nine recognized interethnic combinations that are capable of describing the full range of couples shown in the commercials. They are:

  • White and Black Caribbean with White British
  • White and Black Caribbean with Other White
  • White and Black African with White British
  • White and Black African with Other White
  •  African with White British
  • African with Other White
  • Caribbean with White British
  • Caribbean with White Other
  • Other Black with White British

The grand total of individuals on the right column involved in such relationships in the United Kingdom is 156,000. Since the statistics are not divided by sex, but the actors in the commercials are, we must divide that number by two; observe we’re keeping the number of sexes to two rather than, say, 37, in order to keep this reasonably simple. That gives us 78,000.

However, the total number of UK individuals involved in relationships is 25,555,555. Dividing 78k by 25.6M gives us 0.3 percent. So, there is a one in 327 chance that such a BM/WW couple would randomly appear in an advert. However, we are dealing with not one, not two, but SIX commercials.

Multiplied out, my calculator does not display that many zeroes, but to put it another way, there is a one in 1,237,350,745,449,354 chance that these particular adverts just happened to reflect reality. That is one in 1.2 quadrillion.

Which is the mathematical way of saying, “why yes, that is indeed SJW convergence I espy.”