Riding a Wild Wind, Transatlantic Jets Fly Faster Than Ever

Riding a Wild Wind, Transatlantic Jets Fly Faster Than Ever, by Jack Stewart.

On Thursday, a Norwegian 787 [flying from Los Angeles to Paris] briefly hit … 779 mph for part of its trip, with a tailwind of 224 mph. And on Friday, yet another Norwegian plane used the jet stream to set a new speed record for a subsonic transatlantic crossing. The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner went from New York’s JFK Airport to London’s Gatwick in 5 hours and 13 minutes. It beat British Airways’ 2015 record by three minutes and outpaced the standard crossing by half an hour. (The Concorde still holds the ultimate record among commercial aircraft: 2 hours, 53 minutes.)

So how does a standard Boeing jet carrying a full complement of passengers and luggage fly so fast? By taking advantage of a particularly vigorous jet stream, a current of air rushing from west to east, across the Atlantic. During Norwegian’s record-setting flight, that tailwind reached 202 mph and pushed a Boeing that usually cruises at 570 mph to 776 mph.

Airlines have long made use of the transatlantic jet stream to save time and fuel when flying from the US to Europe. “The airlines look at forecasted winds and they supply air traffic controllers with their preferred routing,” says Ian Petchenik, a spokesperson for FlightRadar24, which tracks flights all over the world.

17 Jan 2018, 0400 UTC. That rainbow in the middle marks wind speed, with red signifying the most intense part of the Jetstream.

The speed of sound at an altitude of 30,000 to 40,000 feet is roughly 670 mph. But Norwegian’s planes didn’t break the sound barrier. Those near-800-mph figures represent ground speed — how fast the aircraft is moving over land. Their air speed, which factors out the 200-mph wind boost, was closer to the 787’s standard Mach 0.85. (The older Boeing 747 can cruise at Mach 0.86, but is less efficient than its younger stablemate.) When talking supersonic, and breaking sound barriers, it’s all about the speed of the air passing over the wings, which in this case was more like 570 mph.

Dershowitz: I Wouldn’t Have Campaigned for Obama If I Knew About Farrakhan Pic

Dershowitz: I Wouldn’t Have Campaigned for Obama If I Knew About Farrakhan Pic. By Fox.

Harvard Law Professor and longtime Democrat Alan Dershowitz said he would not have campaigned for then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) if he knew about the future president’s photo op with Louis Farrakhan.

Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, is a “virulent anti-Semite and anti-American,” Dershowitz said on “Fox & Friends.” …

A photographer, Askia Muhammad, showed Fox News’ Tucker Carlson a 2005 picture of Obama and Farrakhan smiling together.

He said that afterward, the Congressional Black Caucus contacted him and demanded to have the photo back. …

Muhammad said he thought the CBC was concerned a photo with Farrakhan could hurt the young senator’s future presidential aspirations.

Muhammad added that Obama had Nation of Islam followers working in his Chicago senate office.

Do you think the media would have covered up for say Trump in the company of a white supremacist? No, it would have been a leading news item for a week. We’re being had. Dershowitz was had.

Daniel Greenfield: “Guns Are How A Civil War Ends… Politics Is How It Starts”

Daniel Greenfield: “Guns Are How A Civil War Ends… Politics Is How It Starts”, by Tyler Durden.

That’s the basic issue here. Who decides who runs the country? When you hate each other but accept the election results, you have a country. When you stop accepting election results, you have a countdown to a civil war. …

The Mueller investigation is about removing President Trump from office and overturning the results of an election. We all know that. But it’s not the first time they’ve done this.

The first time a Republican president was elected this century, they said he didn’t really win. The Supreme Court gave him the election. There’s a pattern here.

Trump didn’t really win the election. Bush didn’t really win the election. Every time a Republican president won an election this century, the Democrats insist he didn’t really win. …

When you consistently reject the results of elections that you don’t win, what you want is a dictatorship.

Your very own dictatorship.

The only legitimate exercise of power in this country, according to the left, is its own. Whenever Republicans exercise power, it’s inherently illegitimate.

The attacks on Trump show that elections don’t matter to the left. …

The left lost Congress. They lost the White House. So what did they do? They began trying to run the country through Federal judges and bureaucrats. Every time that a Federal judge issues an order saying that the President of the United States can’t scratch his own back without his say so, that’s the civil war. …

The left’s system is that any part of government that it runs gets total and unlimited power over the country. If it’s in the White House, then the president can do anything. And I mean anything. He can have his own amnesty for illegal aliens. He can fine you for not having health insurance. His power is unlimited.

He’s a dictator.

But when Republicans get into the White House, suddenly the President can’t do anything. He isn’t even allowed to undo the illegal alien amnesty that his predecessor illegally invented.

A Democrat in the White House has “discretion” to completely decide every aspect of immigration policy. A Republican doesn’t even have the “discretion” to reverse him.

The “deep state” or “shadow government”?

This is a war over who runs the country. Do the people who vote run the country or does this network that can lose an election, but still get its agenda through, run the country?

We’ve been having this fight for a while. But this century things have escalated.

They escalated a whole lot after Trump’s win because the network isn’t pretending anymore. It sees the opportunity to delegitimize the whole idea of elections.

Now the network isn’t running the country from cover. It’s actually out here trying to overturn the results of an election and remove the president from office. …

Professional government means entrenched privilege and creeping corruption:

America was founded on getting away from professional government. The British monarchy was a professional government. Like all professional governments, it was hereditary. Professional classes eventually decide to pass down their privileges to their kids.

America was different. We had a volunteer government. That’s what the Founding Fathers built. …

What infuriates professional government more than anything else? An amateur, someone like President Trump who didn’t spend his entire adult life practicing to be president, taking over the job. …

When you’re a government professional, you’re invested in keeping the system going. But when you’re a volunteer, you can do all the things that the experts tell you can’t be done. You can look at the mess we’re in with fresh eyes and do the common sense things that President Trump is doing. …

Identity politics:

Identity groups don’t vote for leaders. … The left’s identity politics only represents ideas. Nobody gets to vote on them.

Instead the left puts out representatives from different identity politics groups, there’s your gay guy, there’s three women, there’s a black man, as fronts for their professional government system.

Dennis Prager: ‘My Opposition to Donald Trump Was Wrong,’ He Is a ‘Great President’

Dennis Prager: ‘My Opposition to Donald Trump Was Wrong,’ He Is a ‘Great President’, by Robert Kraychik.

“My opposition to Donald Trump was wrong,” said Dennis Prager, describing Donald Trump as a “great president” whose political successes are connected to a disregard for the left-wing and partisan Democrat news media narratives.

Prager’s comments came during Thursday’s episode of his eponymous radio show. While Prager has said that Trump was his last choice during the Republican primaries, he supported him vigorously in the general election against Hillary Clinton.

“I was wrong. My opposition to Donald Trump was wrong, in retrospect. I was wrong. I had friends who supported him, and I didn’t understand them. I said, “Are you not aware of what he said about John McCain? Isn’t that enough to disqualify the guy?” They perceived in him what I did not perceive in him, that these over-the-top statements – as objectionable as the statements themselves may be, and none of them defended the statements – nevertheless, what they perceived was accurate: a man who doesn’t give a damn about what the press says about him. That is the only way to govern. It is the only way to advance the principles of conservatism in the United States is to not give a damn.”

“[Donald Trump] is so much better a president than Mitt Romney would’ve made,” said Prager, describing Romney as “tepid” and concerned with appealing to news media outlets such as The New York Times. …

“He has turned out to be a great president with big communication flaws, in the way he tweets and some of the things he says and his temperament,” said Prager. “My temperament is the opposite. I love dignity. I love understatement. Okay, so be it.”

hat-tip Charles

Who’s afraid of Jordan Peterson?

Who’s afraid of Jordan Peterson? By Peggy Noonan.

[This interview] burned through the internet, in part because she was remarkably hostile and badgering: “What gives you the right to say that?” “You’re making vast generalisations.” He seemed mildly taken aback, then rallied and wouldn’t be pushed around. It was also interesting because she, the fiery, flame-haired aggressor, was so boring — her thinking reflected all the predictable, force-fed assumptions — while he, saying nothing revolutionary or even particularly fiery, was so interesting. When it was over, you wanted to hear more from him and less from her. …

Why must the PC crowd shut him up?

What could a grown-up, seemingly stable professor (former associate professor of psychology at Harvard, full professor for 20 years at the University of Toronto) stand for that would make a journalist want to annihilate him on live TV — or, failing that, to diminish him or make him into a figure of fun?

He must have defied some orthodoxy. He must think the wrong things. He must be a heretic. Heretics must be burned. …

The interview was to promote his second book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. … In it he offers advice, much but not all of it based on decades of seeing patients as a psychologist, on the big eternal question: How to Live. He is of the tough school: Know life’s limits, see and analyse your own, build on what you’ve got and can create. And be brave. Everything else is boring and won’t work.

Deeper in, you understand the reasons he might be targeted for annihilation. First, he is an intellectual who shows a warm, scholarly respect for the stories and insights into human behaviour — into the meaning of things — in the Old and New Testaments. (He’d like more attention paid to the Old.) Their stories exist for a reason, he says, and have lasted for a reason: They are powerful indicators of reality, and their great figures point to pathways. He respects the great thinkers of the West and the Christian tradition.

More undermining of the modernist project, Mr. Peterson states clearly more than once that grasping at political ideology is not the answer when your life goes wrong. There’s no refuge there, it’s a way of avoiding the real problem: “Don’t blame capitalism, the radical left, or the iniquity of your enemies. Don’t reorganise the state until you have ordered your own experience. Have some humility. If you cannot bring peace to your household, how dare you try to rule a city?

That is a dangerous thing to say in an ideological age. … If I were of the radical established left, bent on squelching contending thought, I’d hate him too. …

Back to the hostile interview, and the labelling of Mr. Peterson as “controversial,” which is a way of putting a warning label on his work. When people, especially those in a position of authority, like broadcasters, try so hard to shut a writer up, that writer must have something to say.

When cultural arbiters try to silence a thinker, you have to assume he is saying something valuable.

So I bought and read the book. A small thing, but it improved my morale.

Peterson is pretty good here too:

hat-tip Stephen Neil

Refugees in Switzerland behave like movie stars: Want expensive clothes and don’t integrate

Refugees in Switzerland behave like movie stars: Want expensive clothes and don’t integrate, by Voice of Europe.

A Swiss youth hostel in the canton of Baselland, wanted to care for three unaccompanied child refugees. The idea was to give them everything they needed for successful integration. The result was disastrous.

In the summer of 2016, the three child refugees were given free youth homes that cost normally on average 300 francs (258 euros) per day, per person. They weren’t even moved into their rooms in fall of 2016, when the trouble started.

To be prepared for winter in Switzerland, the home carers supplied the three young men with winter clothes. But they didn’t like the clothes: “They were disappointed and told us they would rather go shopping at H&M or Dolce & Gabbana,” a care worker said.

The care workers later found out that the child refugees were selling clothes and stolen goods to other parties. Apparently their monthly pocket money of 160 francs (137 euros) wasn’t enough.

One of the young men, called Ahmed, complained about his supervisor, that he didn’t have enough time for him, etc. But reality was different according to a report and his complaint was dismissed.

A report says it was Ahmed himself, who rejected school, the work in the home and the cooperation with the support staff: Ahmed has “very high demands” on his environment, which nobody can do any justice. For example, he demands “a care worker who is available to him 24 hours a day, seven days a week”, and who “fulfils all his wishes immediately.”

Another asylum seeker behaved in the same way: He suddenly acted as if he did not know the rules of the house, he resisted agreements, provoked the other inhabitants with his behaviour and appeared very disrespectful to individual team members. According to the article in the Basler newspaper the expectations of the men “were as high as if they were guests in a five-star hotel”.

Two of the youngsters also received a season pass for the swimming pool, a bicycle and other things, to give them an enjoyable leisure time. It resulted in serious incidents as several women were sexually harassed.

PC people must want to be conned.

hat-tip Stephen Neil

London: Hunting down the thought criminals while violent crime surges

London: Hunting down the thought criminals while violent crime surges, by Christine Douglass-Williams.

Once again, London mayor Sadiq Khan is promoting an irresponsible brand of “diversity” over the interests of Londoners. Despite the surge in violent crime “overtaking England and Wales — and Britain’s multicultural capital, in particular,” Sadiq Khan is blaming the surge in recorded violent crime on falling police numbers.

However, guess where he intends to allocate more police resources toward, as a top priority? Hate crimes. “Evidence suggests that pressure from Khan and politically correct police chiefs is leading to significant resources being redirected” towards “crimes” such as “offensive communications,” largely in social media. …

Even before Khan’s election as mayor, his “dealings with Islamic extremists” raised doubts “over his suitability as London’s next mayor,” a position that he should not have occupied, as he has been pushing a clear agenda. His other mischief includes:

  • endorsing anti-Semites, defending 9/11 terrorists, and defending an al Qaeda member.
  • playing the victimology narrative, to the point of cautioning Westerners to play by the rules of Islamic supremacists, so as to not upset them to the point of joining jihadi groups.
  • calling deadly jihad attacks “part and parcel” of life in a big city.
  • calling progressive Muslims who want to live in unison with Westerners “uncle Toms.”

hat-tip Stephen Neil

Anti-immigration and Islamisation candidate wins Czech presidential election

Anti-immigration and Islamisation candidate wins Czech presidential election, by Voice of Europe.

Czech President Miloš Zeman has won a second five-year term in office, following a tight run-off vote against his rival Jiri Drahos.

According to the Czech Statistics Office, Zeman received 51.8% of the votes and his rival 48.2%.

Zeman is a strong opponent of immigration and said earlier that refugees don’t integrate, because their culture is incompatible with European culture. About Islam he said:

“I think we can coexist with Buddhism, Hinduism, Shinto, Confucianism, but we cannot coexist with Islam. It has anchored in its sacred texts that it must rule the world and have unbelievers submit.”

hat-tip Stephen Neil

No free lunch (at Google) for thought criminals

No free lunch (at Google) for thought criminals, by Philip Greenspun.

In a previous post, I summarized a Hillary-voting anti-development friend’s position with

1) immigration into a nation of 325 million is good and needs to be supported with passionate political effort

2) immigration into a town of 13,444 is bad and needs to be fought with passionate political effort

Maybe he can get hired at Google, based on “James Damore sues Google, alleging intolerance of white male conservatives” (Guardian):

The suit also alleges that Google maintains a “secret” blacklist of conservative authors who are banned from being on campus. Curtis Yarvin, a “neoreactionary” who blogs under the name Mencius Moldbug, was allegedly removed from the campus by security after being invited to lunch. The plaintiffs subsequently learned, it is claimed in the suit, that Alex Jones, the InfoWars conspiracy theorist, and Theodore Beale, an “alt-right” blogger known as VoxDay, were also banned from the campus.

The suit will likely reignite the culture wars that have swirled around the tech industry since the election of Donald Trump. Many liberals within the tech industry have pressured their employers to take a stand against Trump policies, such as the Muslim travel ban, and companies have struggled to decide the extent to which they will allow the resurgent movement of white nationalists to use their platforms to organize.

So permanent immigration of folks from countries where a desire to wage jihad is common .. is good. But lunchtime immigration of people who might offend the snowflake brogrammers is bad.

hat-tip Matthew

Melbourne: 42,000 homes in dark, no fans left at Kmart. Power outages due to “secret” air conditioners?

Melbourne: 42,000 homes in dark, no fans left at Kmart. Power outages due to “secret” air conditioners? By Joanne Nova.

The temperature reached 38C in Melbourne (100F) on Sunday — something it has probably done most summers since 10,000BC.

CitiPower, Powercor and the United Energy spokeswoman Emma Tyner said that as of 9.25pm, about 41,190 homes were without power across those three networks. – Sydney Morning Herald

Now why would that be? Ms Tyner puts a lack of supply in the nicest possible way:

“The extreme heat has significantly increased electricity use and this has resulted in localised power outages,” Ms Tyner said.

It’s not that governments didn’t plan energy policy — it’s the users who wanted too much (i.e your fault.) Though Victorians used to use more power than this. On Sunday, peak electricity demand was 9,124MW, about 13% less than the all time peak of 10,496MW in 2009. (In case you are wondering, Hazelwood (now closed) produced 1600MW or about 25% of Victorian baseload power.)

Mr Armstrong from Ausnet Services (another power company) blamed unreported air conditioners:

“There are a lot fuses blowing in the hot weather and a significant power pull with people having put in air-conditioners they didn’t tell us about,” Mr Armstrong said. — The Age

Who knew you needed to tell your power company when you put in an air conditioner? Gone are the days when people could willy-nilly run down to Retrovision and just buy an air con.

For a tale of government stupidity and obfuscation, read it all.

Australian governments concealing the truth about power

Australian governments concealing the truth about power, by Robert Gottliebsen.

The expected 2018 Victorian and NSW blackouts and brownouts have started. Last March I discovered blackouts were likely because NSW, Victoria and South Australian state governments had “vandalised our total energy system”.

In addition, Victoria, which has huge gas reserves, has been the key contributor to skyrocketing gas and power prices by legislatively blockading the development of its gas.

Never before in our recent history have we seen on this scale governmental incompetence and arrogant disregard for the well being of communities in the quest for green votes. …

It’s true part of the outages were caused by fuses, but the outages were too widespread. It’s another smokescreen. …

Government spin doctors and others are desperately trying to conceal the truth about the damage governments headed by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian (plus her predecessors Mike Baird and Barry O’Farrell) and South Australia’s Jay Weatherill have caused. …

We are looking at concealment of information from Victorians on a scale rarely seen in any developed country. …

On power shortages and blackouts it’s important that all Australians understand how the politicians conducted their vandalisation program.

The Victorian, NSW and South Australian governments “plonked” wind and solar farms around their states and declared that it was cheaper than conventional power. Lots of green votes followed.

What they concealed from the public was the fact that renewables need back up for times when the wind does not blow or, as happened on Sunday, the sun is not shining when demand peaks late afternoon or at night. Part of the of the cost of renewables is back up such gas power, hydro or huge batteries. You also need to alter the grid to cater for the fact that the power is coming from different places.

If those essential elements were included, then the costs of renewables would be much higher and there would be a political backlash.

But it gets worse. When the wind blows and the sun shines there are rushes of cheap electricity, which damages the economics of coal production. If you are also investing in gas hydro, or some other back up generators you can shut down coal. But the NSW and Victorian governments shut down vital coal fired stations without replacement plants. …

Victoria is going for diesel and on Sunday those diesel generators belched out fumes and pollution to avoid a full-scale crisis.

Victoria has become the diesel state. The greens turn a blind eye.

hat-tip Stephen Neil

Refugees policy: Australia plays bad cop so NZ can afford to be virtuous

Refugees policy: Australia plays bad cop so NZ can afford to be virtuous, by Gerard Henderson.

The problem with inventing words or phrases is that the clever ones soon become cliches. This seems to be the likely fate of the term ­“virtue-signalling”, which appears to have been coined by James ­Bartholomew in The Spectator in April 2015. …

Last November New Zealand’s Labour Prime Minister ­Jacinda Ardern said her country did not regard the plight of refugees, asylum-seekers and other detainees on Manus Island and Nauru “as acceptable”.

This was a clear criticism of the Australian government. Ardern repeated NZ’s offer to take 150 of the Manus Island detainees.

This sounds very virtuous. Over the ditch, there is a generous, young, female, left-of-centre Prime Minister. Meanwhile Malcolm Turnbull is channelling the hardline policy of his Coalition predecessors John Howard and Tony Abbott, which is being ­implemented by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.

The NZ Prime Minister’s gesture disguises one central fact: her country is not as generous to asylum-seekers as Australia — and never has been.

Australia’s population is close to 25 million and NZ’s population is close to five million. Under its refugee and humanitarian program, Australia accepts 13,750 persons each year. NZ’s customary annual refugee intake is 750. …

Australia’s disinclination to take up NZ’s offer to accept 150 of the Manus Island detainees is understandable. Since the two ­nations have an effective open border with respect to their citizens, anyone who is accepted by New Zealand is entitled to enter Australia in due course. …

Any suggestion that asylum-seekers can find their way to Australia via NZ will encourage people smugglers to revamp their deadly business. There is evidence of people smugglers putting boats back into the water with the claim that a journey to NZ will lead eventually to residence in Australia.

US vs. China: in trade, the gloves are off

US vs. China: in trade, the gloves are off, by Alan Kohler.

Last week the Trump administration announced tariffs of 30 per cent on imported washing machines and solar panels. It was widely, and no doubt correctly, seen as the start of new trade offensive against China. …

[Trump’s Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer]: “On a purely intellectual level, how does allowing China to constantly rig trade in its favour advance the core conservative goal of making markets more efficient? Markets do not run better when manufacturing shifts to China largely because of the actions of its government. Nor do they become more efficient when Chinese companies are given special privileges in global markets, while American companies must struggle to compete with unfairly traded goods.” …

And then in Davos on Thursday, President Trump took a pretty clear swipe at China: “We support free trade but it needs to be fair and it needs to be reciprocal because in the end unfair trade undermines us all. The United States will no longer turn a blind eye to unfair economic practices including massive intellectual property theft, industrial subsidies, and pervasive state-led economic planning”.

Broadly, the US is now defining China as a strategic competitor, and a cheat at that, and the previous doctrine of “constructive engagement” is out the window. …

China’s resources imports have kept Australia out of recession for 26 years, and now the growth in China’s middle class consumers is underpinning a whole new export boom, in food, tourism and education. So it’s getting harder and harder for Australia to choose America over China if those two really do come to blows.

The other problem is the US dollar. In addition to using tariffs, the Trump administration seems to be on a mercantilist campaign to devalue the currency.

The US dollar has already declined 13 per cent, pushing the AUD from US71c a year ago to US81c today, and last week Treasury Steve Mnuchin let the cat out of the bag when he said a weaker currency was “good for America” (the first time a Treasury Secretary has said that for a long time, possibly ever). …

Weak exchange rate policy and protectionism go together. Just ask China.

hat-tip Stephen Neil

The Follower Factory: Paying for fake online followers by the thousand on the black market

The Follower Factory: Paying for fake online followers by the thousand on the black market. By Nicholas Confessore.

The real Jessica Rychly is a Minnesota teenager with a broad smile and wavy hair. … When she goes on Facebook or Twitter, she sometimes muses about being bored or trades jokes with friends. Occasionally, like many teenagers, she posts a duck-face selfie.

But on Twitter, there is a version of Jessica that none of her friends or family would recognize. While the two Jessicas share a name, photograph and whimsical bio — “I have issues” — the other Jessica promoted accounts hawking Canadian real estate investments, cryptocurrency and a radio station in Ghana. The fake Jessica followed or retweeted accounts using Arabic and Indonesian, languages the real Jessica does not speak. While she was a 17-year-old high school senior, her fake counterpart frequently promoted graphic pornography, retweeting accounts called Squirtamania and Porno Dan.

All these accounts belong to customers of an obscure American company named Devumi that has collected millions of dollars in a shadowy global marketplace for social media fraud. Devumi sells Twitter followers and retweets to celebrities, businesses and anyone who wants to appear more popular or exert influence online. …

The accounts that most resemble real people, like Ms. Rychly, reveal a kind of large-scale social identity theft. At least 55,000 of the accounts use the names, profile pictures, hometowns and other personal details of real Twitter users, including minors, according to a Times data analysis.

“I don’t want my picture connected to the account, nor my name,” Ms. Rychly, now 19, said. “I can’t believe that someone would even pay for it. It is just horrible.” …

Fake followers are big business. It’s openly done, and lots of people do it.

While Twitter and other platforms prohibit buying followers, Devumi and dozens of other sites openly sell them. And social media companies, whose market value is closely tied to the number of people using their services, make their own rules about detecting and eliminating fake accounts. …

The Times reviewed business and court records showing that Devumi has more than 200,000 customers, including reality television stars, professional athletes, comedians, TED speakers, pastors and models. … For just pennies each … Devumi offers Twitter followers, views on YouTube, plays on SoundCloud, the music-hosting site, and endorsements on LinkedIn, the professional-networking site. …

Devumi’s fake followers also serve as phantom foot soldiers in political battles online. Devumi’s customers include both avid supporters and fervent critics of President Trump … Randy Bryce, an ironworker seeking to unseat Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, purchased Devumi followers in 2015, when he was a blogger and labor activist. Louise Linton, the wife of the Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, bought followers when she was trying to gain traction as an actress. …

An editor at China’s state-run news agency, Xinhua, paid Devumi for hundreds of thousands of followers and retweets on Twitter, which the country’s government has banned but sees as a forum for issuing propaganda abroad. An adviser to Ecuador’s president, Lenín Moreno, bought tens of thousands of followers and retweets for Mr. Moreno’s campaign accounts during last year’s elections. …

For some entertainers and entrepreneurs, this virtual status is a real-world currency. Follower counts on social networks help determine who will hire them, how much they are paid for bookings or endorsements, even how potential customers evaluate their businesses or products. …

According to data collected by Captiv8, a company that connects influencers to brands, an influencer with 100,000 followers might earn an average of $2,000 for a promotional tweet, while an influencer with a million followers might earn $20,000.

Genuine fame often translates into genuine social media influence, as fans follow and like their favorite movie stars, celebrity chefs and models. But shortcuts are also available: On sites like Social Envy and DIYLikes.com, it takes little more than a credit-card number to buy a huge following on almost any social media platform. … Once purchased, the followers can be a powerful tool.

“You see a higher follower count, or a higher retweet count, and you assume this person is important, or this tweet was well received,” said Rand Fishkin, the founder of Moz, a company that makes search engine optimization software. “As a result, you might be more likely to amplify it, to share it or to follow that person.” …

In April, The Times set up a test account on Twitter and paid Devumi $225 for 25,000 followers, or about a penny each. As advertised, the first 10,000 or so looked like real people. They had pictures and full names, hometowns and often authentic-seeming biographies. …

“Everyone does it,” said the actress Deirdre Lovejoy, a Devumi customer. …

Marcus Holmlund, a young freelance writer, was at first thrilled when Wilhelmina, the international modeling agency, hired him to manage its social media efforts. But when Wilhelmina’s Twitter following didn’t grow fast enough, Mr. Holmlund said, a supervisor told him to buy followers or find another job. In 2015, despite misgivings, he began making monthly Devumi purchases out of his own pocket. …

“No one will take you seriously if you don’t have a noteworthy presence,” said Jason Schenker, an economist who specializes in economic forecasting and has purchased at least 260,000 followers.

Not surprisingly, Devumi has sold millions of followers and retweets to entertainers on the lower and middle rungs of Hollywood, such as the actor Ryan Hurst, a star of the television series “Sons of Anarchy.” In 2016 and 2017, he bought a total of 750,000 followers, about three-quarters of his current count. It cost less than $4,000, according to company records.

So if they do it, all their competitors have to do it too. Sigh.

Conclusive Proof that Michael Wolff Is a Liar

Conclusive Proof that Michael Wolff Is a Liar, by John Hinderaker.

Michael Wolff’s book about the Trump White House was released to great fanfare, but quickly proved to be full of errors and outright lies. I doubt that anyone takes it seriously anymore, but in any event, this should be the last nail in its coffin:

On Bill Maher’s HBO program, Wolff …  recently claimed he’d omitted an “incendiary” incident because he lacked “ultimate proof.” He invited people to “read between the lines” of a paragraph near the book’s end; when you do, “you’re going to say ‘Bingo!’ ”

The political Twittersphere then went viral over a sentence claiming [U.N. Ambassador Nikki] Haley “had been spending a notable amount of private time” with Trump on Air Force One. Bingo, they concluded: The president and his UN envoy are having an affair.

Mrs. Haley has denounced Wolff’s lie, noting among other things that she has been on board Air Force One a grand total of once.

Trump gives talk to empty room at Davos: the epitome of fake news

Trump gives talk to empty room at Davos: the epitome of fake news. By Steven Hayward.

The “fake news” slogan may be overused and stretched sometimes, but good catch by Glenn Reynolds to note that USA Today ran a “news” story that “President Trump May Be Giving a Speech to an Empty Room in Davos.” It was based on nothing more than a few unnamed “sources” saying that there had been a call for a boycott by some no-name figures from Africa, and that “a number of people” would walk out. This truly is fake news. Especially since it turned out to be completely wrong.

Instead of a walkout or a half-empty hall, Trump spoke to a packed house, many of whom did in fact walk out—after he finished the speech, mostly because they wanted to be around him. Prime Minister Theresa May then spoke to a half empty room. Heh.

The Art Of The Shutdown

The Art Of The Shutdown, by Scott Rasmussen.

President Trump didn’t respond to the so-called shutdown of the federal government in the way that the political class thought he should. He didn’t get personally involved in detailed negotiations to end the impasse and didn’t convey a sense of crisis to the American people.

When all was said and done, this skirmish showed the dangers of underestimating President Trump and his ability to connect with voters on issues the political elites ignore. His approach worked because he instinctively understood the strategic situation far better than Senate Democrats, establishment Republicans, and his other beltway critics.

Glenn Reynolds:

Weird how this keeps happening, at the same time we’re constantly told he’s a big fat idiot with the emotional stability of a toddler.

Back to the Rasmussen article:

First, the president recognized that the term “shutdown” is a dramatic overstatement of what really was going on. … Outside of the DC area, nobody really noticed any impact.

If you “shut down the government” and nobody notices, that creates far bigger ideological problems for Democrats than Republicans. So, the president directed his Administration to minimize the impact of Congressional dysfunction on the American people.

Second, the president understood that the fate of the Dreamers is only one part of a much larger immigration issue. … The American people want an immigration deal that protects the Dreamers but also includes serious border security measures. Voters reject the open border policy espoused by many Democrats.

If Chuck Schumer’s party wants to protect the Dreamers, all they have to do is accept a border wall and other security measures. If they don’t, the president will happily bring the dispute to voters in November and the Republicans will likely pick up a few Senate seats.

President Trump also understood the appeal of fighting back against politics as usual. Republican voters have varying degrees of discomfort with President Trump’s demeanor, but they love it when he fights the media and the political class.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? By David Henderson.

In his excellent 2010 book At Home, Bill Bryson, in describing the life of a servant about 100 years ago in Britain, writes:

Perhaps the hardest part of the job was simply being attached to and dependent on people who didn’t think much of you. Virginia Woolf’s diaries are almost obsessively preoccupied with her servants and the challenge of maintaining patience with them. Of one, she writes: “She is in a state of nature: untrained; uneducated . . . so that one sees a human mind wriggling undressed.” As a class they were irritating as “kitchen flies.” Woolf’s contemporary Edna St. Vincent Millay was rather more blunt: “The only people I really hate are servants. They are not really human beings at all.”

This comes only a few pages after Bryson has explained the hard work the “kitchen flies” did in hauling buckets of water upstairs for baths.

hat-tip Matthew