Ukrainian missile strikes Poland, elections in Berlin to be repeated

This is an archived issue of my newsletter The Sleepy Fox from 16 November 2022. If you want to receive new issues as they are released, you can sign up for delivery to your inbox here.

Header image: Anybody who thinks Elon Musk is actually breaking Twitter obviously doesn’t remember just how broken Twitter used to be. We saw this screen a lot before Twitter killed it in a propaganda move to appear more stable. (Screenshot: The Next Web)

Hey look, I actually managed to release that podcast episode I’ve been going on about. It turned out to be a near-two-hour rant about the Silicon Valley tech press and their stupidity in convincing everyone for years that Elon Musk was a standup guy and a genius and then suddenly waking up to the fact that they’d bullshitted everyone all along. I actually can’t understand how people can work as journalists and be this stupid. And they have the whole world believing things about Twitter now that are blatantly wrong because of this. Like the idea that Twitter ever was successful in making money or that its management used to be reasonable before. And maybe, just maybe, if some deranged billionaire can just drop by and fire everyone because he feels like it, maybe your employee laws over there are as much at fault as the asshole billionaire? And maybe that’s where you should focus your attention? Just a thought. The episode also includes some valuable facts from my 14 years on Twitter that mainstream journalists have no idea about or have forgotten, of course.

I love mechanical keyboards. People who’ve seen me work know this about me, because they can hear it when I type. For years now, I have refused to use any keyboard that doesn’t have Cherry MX Blue1 switches in them. These switches simply make me happy when I type. Everything else makes me unhappy. Now, Cherry has introduced a new switch, the Cherry MX Black Clear-Top:

This new switch is inspired by what Cherry used in old Nixdorf CT06 CT07/2 M Softkeys Keyboard from the 1980s. Those Nixie switches had a very good reputation in the later enthusiast community so Cherry took research and made a new version of those switches with similar specs but for the modern market, so no internal diode and a little dot of lubricant on the spring. The milky upper housing and the characteristics of the spring and stem leads to a smooth feeling with rich acoustics.

I really have to try these in a finished keyboard one of these days. Right now I really don’t have the time to solder my own keyboards.

Ukrainian Missile Strikes Poland, Ukraine Government Ties to Failed FTX Crypto Currency Exchange

Most people woke up this morning to panicked stories about a Russian missile impacting in Przewodów in Poland yesterday afternoon and fears of World War III kicking off2. Two people were killed by the missile (or missiles) that hit a farming area in the village, which is very close to the Ukrainian border. It seems that the missile was indeed manufactured by Russia, but probably fired by Ukraine. It looks like ordnance from an SA-10 Grumble system and these are an integral part of the Ukrainian air defence. That the missiles were fired from Ukraine is at least the theory US president Joe Biden is going with and with all their intelligence capabilities, the US probably knows what’s up.

In other Ukraine news, the somewhat Russia-aligned website The Grayzone is advancing the theory that some of the money that disappeared in the FTX scam found its way to Ukraine to support the war effort.

The government of Ukraine is conducting an ongoing cleanup and whitewashing operation to rid any and all references to a high-level cryptocurrency fundraising arrangement it struck with FTX from the web. Eerily, it seems to have commenced just days before the scandal erupted. Online records unearthed by The Grayzone claim tens of millions were raised by FTX for the Ukrainian government, and put to a variety of belligerent uses. While mainstream media pores over the details of Bankman-Fried’s gargantuan crypto scam, not one single major outlet has investigated or even acknowledged FTX’s relationship with the government of Ukraine.

There’s not a lot of facts in this story to corroborate these claims, which may be Russian propaganda, but it is true that the Ukrainian government was working with FTX since at least March.

The Ukrainian government launched a new crypto donations website on Monday, streamlining its multimillion-dollar effort to turn bitcoin into bullets, bandages and other war materiel. “Aid for Ukraine,” which has the backing of crypto exchange FTX, staking platform Everstake and Ukraine’s Kuna exchange, will route donated crypto to the National Bank of Ukraine, Everstake’s Head of Growth Vlad Likhuta told CoinDesk. Ukraine’s crypto-savvy Ministry of Digital Transformation is also involved.

The website deepens an unprecedented tie-up between public and private sector forces in crypto. FTX is converting donations into fiat for deposit at the National Bank of Ukraine, a press release said. It described this relationship as a “first.”

Political News from Germany and the US

The elections in Berlin in 2021 were an epic failure. After the parliament decided last week that the federal elections for 327 Berlin polling districts will have to be redone, the Berlin Constitutional Court has now ruled that the elections for the city council, which were held at the same time, have to be entirely repeated. The new elections will probably happen on 12 February. Let’s see if the City of Berlin is smart enough not to schedule a major sporting event on the same day this time.

Good news for journalists: Their favourite nemesis is back! Donald Trump has announced he will run for president again in 2024. This means we can look forward once again to years of articles that basically boil down to the credo “orange man: bad” as the media tries its best to prevent Trump from being elected by all means necessary. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough of these articles for a lifetime.

Donald Trump has seeped into our collective consciousness so deeply that DALL·E, a machine learning algorithm trained on visual input from the internet’s vast library of human creations, basically generates Trump when you ask it to draw “an impressionist oil painting of the bad orange man in a suit” (image: DALL·E)

Speaking of AIs, The Verge ran this sensational headline yesterday: The scary truth about AI copyright is nobody knows what will happen next, which prompted me to ask myself how AI copyright is an issue when copyright law only covers work created by a person3. I am, of course, not a lawyer. But as a professional author, copyright is important to me and I’ve written many stories about software licensing (which is based on copyright law) in the past. As it turns out, my instinct was right. This long-winded article is basically a very roundabout way of saying that there’s nothing scary about AI and copyrights and that we actually probably can predict what will happen next. Key takeaways:

  1. AI’s don’t get copyright, copyright is for humans only.
  2. You can probably throw tons of copyrighted work in a big bucket and train your machine learning algorithm on it. Since copyright is defined by the creation of a new work, this will most likely be safe as the resulting artwork should be different enough to qualify as a new work. Even if it closely mimics an artist’s individual style. Artists have been copying each other for millennia. Another word for this process is inspiration.
  3. There might be a problem for people trying to copyright the data they train an algorithm on. But I think that’s fine. Gathering and curating data doesn’t make something a work. When I write a text, the text is the thing that I get copyright for, not my research. People can keep that proprietary if they want. No need to copyright it, too, though.

53 years after Apollo 11, NASA is going back to the moon. The first step in this journey has now been completed with the successful launch of the first Artemis rocket over night. It’s a bit hilarious, however, that the launch was delayed by an ethernet switch of all things.

NASA has successfully launched its first Artemis mission, after a faulty ethernet switch threatened the debut of the USA’s Space Launch System and return to Lunar exploration. The switch was on site at the Eastern Range radar facility, which NASA wrote is “necessary for launch.” The countdown was therefore paused at T-10:00 while the switch was replaced and tests conducted to ensure the new hardware was ready for the launch. That work meant the launch was pushed out of its scheduled time and into the two-hour launch window.

With the rocket now finally in space, and on its way to Luna for a mission that will test a future crewed expedition to the satellite’s surface, the USA’s and humanity’s long haul towards putting people on Mars has begun.

On My Desk Today

Today’s tasks include preparing (and hopefully recording and releasing) another Private Citizen episode. There’s also a lot of organisational work to take care of and a webinar to prepare that I’ll be hosting tomorrow.

I probably won’t get around to writing a newsletter, because I have a very busy day ahead of me on Thursday. One of the reasons being that I plan to stream the Warhammer 40.000: Darktide beta all afternoon and into the night. So expect the next issue of the newsletter on Friday.

  1. In case you have no idea what I am talking about: This blog post explains the different Cherry MX switches very well. And it has GIFs to show how they work! ↩︎

  2. An attack on Poland, a NATO member, would trigger NATO’s collective defense clause↩︎

  3. Fun fact: There isn’t even something like copyright for a corporation in many jurisdictions, with employers only gaining an automatic license for work done by artists, coders and writers while they are on company time. The copyright itself remains with the person creating the work. ↩︎