The (Rum) Punch Line

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(thanks KL)

 

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Putin’s Goods On Trump

Every couple of weeks speculation surfaces that Vladimir Putin has the goods on Donald Trump and is somehow blackmailing him. The same speculators go on to wonder what it is that Putin has.

It is not women. Trump may well have slept with women in Russia while married, but no one really cares. His supporters accept that he is a philanderer. After all, here is a guy who boasted about the size of his penis in a presidential debate. Of course he is going to use it any chance he gets.

Steve Bannon was right. What Putin has over Trump is money laundering. Specifically, Russian money. It will probably come out that either Trump’s business or his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s business depended on laundered Russia money, breaking all sorts of laws.

Unfortunately for Putin, using this blackmail evidence carries some costs. He can’t just say that Trump was money laundering. He has to do it indirectly, which will probably mean sacrificing one of his oligarch allies and charging them with Russian crimes that would then highlight the money trail and expose Trump’s laundering.

In addition Putin’s leverage may decline over time. Special counsel Robert Mueller will likely put it all together on his own and charge Trump’s and/or Kushner’s organizations with money laundering. Of course, Putin retains some leverage in that he could still be able to supply some details that make Mueller’s case airtight.

Any way you look at it, in all probability Trump’s son or his son-in-law is going to need a presidential pardon.

The Self-Driving Future: Part 5

Once we have self driving cars, will there be any privacy left? Probably not. We will have to go to extreme measures to prevent Grandma Google and Frère Facebook from following every journey.

It used to be that you were anonymous in a cab. The driver didn’t know your name and you paid with cash.

Then they started letting people pay for cabs with credit cards, and your anonymity was left at the curb. Still, they weren’t really tracking where you went.

Then Uber came along and tracked everything. Where you came from, where you went, what time of day you traveled and more. But if you didn’t take Uber and drove yourself you still had a chance at privacy.

Self driving cars are likely to be unlocked by a phone app, so the car will know who you are. The car manufacturers are going to track how and where the car drives itself to protect themselves from liability if there is an accident. At this point, the car will know your identity and where and when it went. Do you really think they won’t be linked?

Even if you drive the car manually, all of the sensors required to track you will still be there. Services like Amazon’s Alexa will be riding shotgun with you.  Do you really think you’ll be able to turn them off? Even if you could, your insurance company will probably give you a big break on rates if you leave them on.

Especially if you buy it from Amazon Auto Insurance.