The End of an Era

Restaurants closing in 2024:

  • Fuddruckers is expected to close ALL locations by the end of the year
  • Old Country Buffet is closing ALL remainder locations
  • IHOP is closing 100 locations
  • Buffalo Wild Wings is closing ALL Canada locations as well as 60 locations in the US
  • Applebee’s is closing 35 locations
  • Red Lobster is closing 50 locations as they enter bankruptcy
  • Denny’s is closing 20 locations by the end of the year
  • Marie Callender’s is shutting down ALL remainder locations
  • Pizza Hut is planning to close 500 locations
  • Outback Steakhouse is closing 41 of their 700 locations
  • Sai Baro is closing a total of 50 locations with majority being mall locations
  • Mard Pizza is closing a total of 27 locations
  • Ruby Tuesday is closing 16 more locations in 2024.
  • BDQ is closing 8 of their 59 locations.
  • Joe’s Crab Shack is closing 41 of their 60 locations
  • Bonefish Grill is closing 7 locations

This is what cultural and economic decline looks like. Apparently 60 years of relentless immigration are not, in fact, good for the economy or the traditional culture. I wonder, however, how much of these failures are related to economic contraction, reduced consumer spending, and excessive debt versus the lack of appeal held by these traditional restaurant franchises for the newcomers.

UPDATE: A reader writes to explain what he saw at Outback Steakhouse:

Your assessment of the restaurant closures is spot on. I worked at an Outback for 5 years in a nice Chicago Suburb. When I started, Outback was still in its prime but only a year in they began to shift their marketing campaign. Between couponing, offering deals like “all you can eat shrimp”, and bending over for any customer that had the slightest complaint by comping their meal, it slowly but consistently brought the level of the clientele down. This was especially frustrating for myself and the servers alike that were used to 20% tips being the norm (when good service was provided of course) – however with the cheaper and more diverse customers, the tips became less and less. I think what happened is that Outback as a corporation became short-sighted and wanted to attract new customers but in the end it only caused them to be hurt by having to shrink margins to just keep these new customers happy by giving away so many freebees. A few years after I left, to no surprise, the location that I worked at closed.

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Nothing They Can Do

It’s such a shame that no one can do anything about Sean Combs beating the hell out of a young woman, despite the fact that there is clear video evidence of the assault.

LA District Attorney George Gascón says he is not able to prosecute Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs over the 2016 assault on Cassie Ventura caught on video because it happened too long ago. The Los Angeles district attorney’s office has announced that they cannot prosecute Sean “Diddy” Combs over a video showing him assaulting Cassie Ventura at a California hotel.

“The conduct would have occurred beyond the timeline where a crime of assault can be prosecuted,” implicating the statute of limitations in an Instagram post on Friday. California’s statute of limitations is one year for simple assault and three years for felony assault.

The footage, initially obtained by CNN, depicts the rapper in March 2016 grabbing Ventura, his then-girlfriend, by the neck, throwing her to the floor, and kicking her multiple times.

And yet, for some reason, he’s not being deplatformed, demonetized, or subjected to media hit pieces, and none of the corporations with which he works are refusing to work with him. Immunity to criminal prosecution is just one of the benefits of taking the ticket… until the Black Rider decides you’re no longer of sufficient use to him, of course.

I suspect the release of the video is a warning that Mr. Combs’s time is running out.

And in case you ever asked that very stupid question: “why doesn’t someone call the police?” this should answer your question. Because neither the police nor the justice system are allowed to touch the ticket-takers without permission.

UPDATE: No worries, justice is served, and we are assured that Mr. Combs is better now. In fact, we are even told that after going to rehab, he “continues to seek both therapy and spiritual work.”

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Non-Competes are No More

The FTC eliminates a corporation’s ability to limit the employment prospects of its former employees:

Pursuant to sections 5 and 6(g) of the Federal Trade Commission Act (“FTC Act”), the Federal Trade Commission (“Commission”) is issuing the Non-Compete Clause Rule (“the final rule”). The final rule provides that it is an unfair method of competition—and therefore a violation of section 5—for persons to, among other things, enter into non-compete clauses (“non-competes”) with workers on or after the final rule’s effective date. With respect to existing non-competes—i.e., non-competes entered into before the effective date—the final rule adopts a different approach for senior executives than for other workers. For senior executives, existing non-competes can remain in force, while existing non-competes with other workers are not enforceable after the effective date.

This is definitely a positive development. The idea that a corporation should be able to coerce an employee into agreeing not to work for a competitor without compensation is one of the pernicious consequences of Clown World’s contract morality, in which everything is permissible so long as the victim can be coerced, forced, scammed, or otherwise convinced to agree to it.

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Disappointment, Guaranteed

The naive optimism of the clueless cultural observer would be hilarious if it weren’t so tediously and predictably inobservant:

After the disastrous launch of their Gemini AI, which insisted that George Washington was actually Black and couldn’t decide whether Musk’s tweets or Hitler was worse, Google’s response was timid and weak. This was just a bug! A problem with QA! It absolutely, positively wasn’t a reflection of corrupted culture at Google, which now appeared to put ideology over accuracy. Really, really!

Anyone watching that shit show would be right to wonder whether one of America’s great technology companies had fallen completely into the hands of the new theocracy. I certainly did.

But now comes evidence that Google perhaps isn’t totally lost, even if an internal war over its origin principles is very much raging. One pitting the mission of organizing the world’s information and making it useful against the newspeak Trust & Safety goal of controlling narratives and countering malinformation (i.e. inconvenient truths).

This played out in stereotype as 28 Googlers occupied the CEO of Google Cloud’s office for 10 hours this week, defaced property, and prevented other Googlers from doing their work. Because Google provides cloud services to Israel, said the occupiers. And thus The Current Thing demanded it be stopped by whatever means possible.

But then the most amazing thing happened. There was no drawn-out investigation. No saccharine statements about employee’s rights to occupy offices, preventing work from happening, or advance their political agenda at work. Nope. They were just fired. Immediately. All 28 of them.

The firings aren’t the result of Google suddenly realizing that it is a business that shouldn’t permit its employees to prioritize politics and ideology over doing their jobs. Nor do they represent a belated rejection of what the author calls “the new theocracy”. It’s simply what happens when those lower in the ranks of the corporate ahrimanocracy offend those who are higher in its ranks.

Remember, evil revels in its own hypocrisy. The more subjective the standard, the more complete its control.

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Ejected by the Beast

You can declare yourself to be a Yellow-Winged Dragonkin. You can threaten your fellow employees with violence and blackballing. You can be incapable of distinguishing between the mythical Hydra and the legendary Medusa. You can be confused about your sex. You can invert your sexual orientation. You can contribute absolutely nothing to the corporate bottom line. You can work for years on a project that will never, ever have any hope of eventually reaching the market and keep your job at Google.

But there is one line no Googler can cross and hope to remain employed.

On Wednesday, the Alphabet subsidiary rushed to fire 28 employees who were part of Tuesday sit-in protests against the company’s provision of artificial intelligence and cloud services to the State of Israel. The protests were organized by a group called No Tech for Apartheid, which had declared Tuesday a “day of action” at Google. At issue: Google’s Project Nimbus — a $1.2 billion cloud and AI contract with Israel — and the Israeli Defense Forces’ use of Google Photos in Gaza, “which has led to the arrest, imprisonment, and torture of thousands of Palestinians with little to no evidence,” the group said. “It’s clear that the Israeli military will use any technology available to them for genocidal means.”

It’s always useful to understand Clown World’s priorities. Convergence is just another word for clownocracy.

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Devil Mouse Continues Suicide

The Disney shareholders had a chance to at least try changing course, and they rejected it.

Disney (DIS) has successfully fended off activist investor Nelson Peltz in his quest to secure board seats at the company, officially ending a highly contested proxy battle that has plagued the entertainment giant and its CEO Bob Iger for months.

The company revealed the news during its annual meeting of shareholders on Wednesday, confirming the current Disney board will remain intact following a shareholder vote that gave Disney a win “by a substantial margin.” About 75% of retail shareholders voted in favor of Disney’s current board, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Disney’s stock traded lower immediately following the results, with shares down more than 1%.

The results of the vote lend additional credence to the notion that once a corporation is completely converged, there is no way out except bankruptcy. The Disney executives will continue doubling down until their fate is sealed, assuming that it isn’t already.

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Dancing with Demonetization

Stripe first suspends, then desuspends, Dr. Malone’s Substack. His lawyers issued a press release describing the situation:

Stripe, a global payment processing company, has retracted its request for comprehensive financial data from Dr. Robert Malone following legal intervention by the Dhillon Law Group.

The initial request, which deviated from Stripe’s standard operating procedures, would have compelled Dr. Malone to provide extensive financial information from his business banking activities, including transactions and account balances spanning the entire history of his business bank account.

Dr. Malone, a medical researcher with a significant subscriber base on Substack, was faced with an abrupt policy change that threatened his business’s revenue stream. The payment processor’s demand for detailed financial records was not in line with the regular scope of information typically required by financial institutions, raising concerns about privacy and operational overreach.

“Stripe previously notified us that the firm required that we share details and activity relating to my business bank account with Stripe, including my current account balance, transactions, and all historical transactions, or else Stripe would stop processing payments from our Substack subscribers,” Dr. Malone said. “We were provided approximately one week to comply with this requirement. This was not a general policy, and appears to have been selectively deployed by Stripe in response to a U.S. Government request. As Substack only allows the use of credit card processing via Stripe, we saw this as a direct threat to the revenue from the business we have built up over the last two years using the Substack social media authorship toolkit. We immediately contacted the Dhillon Law Group, which has been able to promptly and favorably resolve this so that our business was not impacted by this new Stripe policy.”

The Dhillon Law Group challenged Stripe’s requirement on behalf of Dr. Malone, emphasizing the need to protect sensitive financial data while still ensuring the client’s business remained unaffected.

“Financial service providers must tread carefully when requesting client data. It is critical to uphold the delicate balance between regulatory requirements and an individual’s right to financial privacy,” said Mark Meuser, an attorney with the Dhillon Law Group. “We are satisfied with Stripe’s decision to withdraw its request, allowing Dr. Malone to continue his valuable work without unnecessary intrusion into his business affairs.”

If conservatives had any political utility whatsoever, they would immediately pass a law denying the right of every federally-regulated corporation providing any payment or banking service to deny those services to any citizen for any reason. Loans, of course, would be excepted from these guaranteed services. It’s not as if there isn’t ample precedent for this, as Congress passes laws requiring access for everything from college to restaurants. The idea that corporations should be granted Constitutional rights so they can act as a form of shadow thought police is fundamentally flawed.

The fact that conservatives won’t defend the right of citizens and nationals to participate in the economy, and instead are signing off on anti-constitutional antisemitism laws, is all one needs to know in order to grasp the fundamental uselessness of conservatives and the Republican establishment alike. Which means both conservatism and the Republican Party are going to eventually go the way of the equally useless Conservative Party in Great Britain, which is presently on track to be comprehensively wiped out by the Labour Party.

It’s bad enough that an evil party is evil. But that is its purpose. There is absolutely no reason for a party that is supposed to be good, but instead reliably supports that which is evil, to even exist.

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Honeypot or Genuine Alt-Tech

I support Andrew Torba and what he’s trying to do with Gab Social and Gab AI, and I particularly support his latest move to reduce the amount of resources that freeloaders are permitted to burn, but I don’t have perfect knowledge of him or the situation. And I definitely have made mistakes about people who later turned out to be infiltrators, gatekeepers, or bad actors, so in the interest of contemplating the essential truth of the matter, I’m linking to two articles about Gab that are polar opposites, one dedicated to attacking Torba, the other by Torba himself explaining his recent actions.

First is the hit piece. While it is well-researched and most of the details appear to be accurate, there is nothing conclusive, it’s mostly guilt-by-association combined with an apparent lack of knowledge of how much it costs to run even what looks like a shoestring operation and make a living, especially when all the cheaper mainstream options cannot be used. And a similar approach could be just as easily used to “expose” me. His mother may be an astrology freak, but my father is a convicted felon. His brother may be gay, but mine died of a drug overdose. And the questionable nature of his past involvement with the Silicon Valley crowd can’t even begin to compare with my having been a Wax Trax! recording artist. Which is why I’m essentially dubious about the significance of the various red flags being waved:

Over the past decade, the United States, and to a great extent the entire world, have been in a growing state of censorship. Ideas that go against the accepted narrative are often removed from the internet and the creators of those ideas are persecuted as being “hateful” or purveyors of disinformation. Many major hubs of communication like Twitter, Facebook and Youtube have actively censored their platforms, particularly after the 2016 US Presidential Election primarily due to the rise of the Alt-Right movement. E-celebrities, content creators, and many of their followers found themselves banned from mainstream social media, which created a vacuum that was soon filled by vaporware sites and grifters whose profits lay in victimhood narratives and false hype, none of which are more notorious or egregious than Gab and its founder Andrew Torba.

Founded just months before the 2016 Presidential Election by self-described Silicon Valley conservative Andrew Torba, Gab touted itself as a censorship-free alternative to Twitter and was heavily promoted by the media before becoming associated with far-right extremism and hate after the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. As of 2022, Gab has adopted a militant Christian nationalist bent and boasts of having an excess of one million “cumulative registered accounts” as well as having a value of $10 million, despite indisputable evidence to the contrary.

Since Gab’s inception, Torba has shapeshifted and rebranded himself many times in order to attract any group that would promote Gab and give him money. Over the course of Gab’s history, Torba has pandered to nearly every fringe online community on the right-wing spectrum; ranging from 4chan lolicon connoisseurs and edgelords to the QAnon and MAGA cults and beyond. If one looks past Torba’s conservative christian veneer they will find an affinity grifter who says and does everything in his power to keep the façade of Gab being a viable alternative to Twitter going and keep the money flowing. Torba relied on making misleading claims about the user base and utility of Gab in order to rip off millions of dollars from investors, many of whom he swindled using his conservative christian affinity grift.

Gab’s notoriety is mainly due to Torba fostering a drama producing environment on the site by not moderating terms of service violations like doxxing and threats of violence. Why does Torba purposefully leave some of the more unhinged elements of Gab unmoderated? What has Torba done to improve Gab with the millions of dollars he raised? What happened to those millions? Why hasn’t the SEC done anything about it? Does Gab’s seeming immunity from legal consequences and purposeful lack of moderation point to it being a honeypot, especially considering Torba’s frequent willingness to report his own users to the Feds?

Andrew Torba And The Grift Of Gab, THE PROVIDENCE POST, 15 March 2023

Second is Torba’s post made in the aftermath of the anti-freeloading policy that I personally believe to not only be justified, but long overdue for a business that has reportedly been running in the red on the Silicon Valley investment model for a long time. I even expressed my opinion on the matter in a meme posted on Gab this morning, of which Torba himself approved.

Torba’s recent post, at least to me, reads like that of a moderately successful entrepreneur who is simply doing whatever he needs to do to in order to keep the lights on his current operation in a moribund industry, even as he attempts to shift resources toward a more promising one in a new and growing industry.

Thank you to everyone who upgraded to GabPRO today. We had our single biggest revenue day for PRO since January 2021. Gab Social is well on its way to becoming sustainable longterm.

The past year has been very tough. As many of you noted we have been operating at a loss for a long time and that needed to change quickly.

The compounding problems of both storage space filling up and capital draining month to month had to be solved or Gab was going to die. We couldn’t let that happen and so drastic measures had to be taken to solve two problems at once. We also needed to do something big that would get the attention of everyone here so that all of us could be focused on solving these issues together.

There’s no other conspiracy here. That’s the simple truth of the matter. The advertising market tanked last year with the economy/inflation and it impacted us hard. We made significant cost cutting measures over the past year but it still wasn’t enough. Running a website as big as Gab costs a lot of money and there’s no way around that.

The team has started working on the storage issue and this change buys us a lot more time to handle it. We have been reading many of your suggestions and taking them into account.

We see that many of you are concerned about your identity which I totally understand as someone who has been dragged through the mud personally for 8 years now by the media, members of Congress, foreign governments, the ADL, the SPLC, and many more people. I’ve been”canceled” 100 times over. I get it.

That being said there are plenty of ways you can support us anonymously. The easiest way to do that is by sending physical mail to our mailing address with a money order, etc. We have a mail in check option on the GabPRO checkout flow. Just be sure to include your reference number and Gab username. You can get a money order at any post office and plenty of other places. You can also work with other Gabbers you trust who can gift you a PRO account.

I’m confident that Gab will emerge from this stronger than ever with a more united community.

We can’t do this alone anymore. We need your help if we are going to make this work longterm and I know that together we can get the job done and keep the one single place on the internet that allows free speech to stay online permanently.

Those who haven’t been on the business end of a deplatforming, and haven’t been subjected to a full-bore media assault, have no idea how stressful it is or how it hardens those who have gone through those things without cracking. Assuming that Torba is not an actor or a honeypot, and the evidence presented is neither substantial nor convincing, I can assure you that Torba no longer cares one little bit about the opinions of those with the luxury to cling to their precious anonymity or those who think they know better than he does what it takes to keep Gab alive.

As every Castalia, Arkhaven, Infogalactic, and UATV subscriber knows, either you actively and materially support what you like or you don’t matter at all. Just as no army has any use for warriors who won’t fight, no business has any use for supporters who burn up its resources rather than contribute them. The reason Castalia House will be around when Tor Books goes out of business, and the reason UATV will be around when YouTube turns out the lights, is solely due to the strength and the commitment of this community. I do not say that lightly. It’s the literal truth.

If the Gab community is strong enough, and committed enough, and if Torba is genuinely the committed Christian Nationalist man he now presents himself as being, it will survive. If any of those three pieces are missing, it will not. In the meantime, and despite our well-known past differences, I wish him and his endeavors well.

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Abandoning Google

The director of the DiRAC Institute at the University of Washington explains why he is getting rid of all of the Google services he uses.

I’ve been reading Google’s Gemini damage control posts. I think they’re simply not telling the truth. For one, their text-only product has the same (if not worse) issues. And second, if you know a bit about how these models are built, you know you don’t get these “incorrect” answers through one-off innocent mistakes. Gemini’s outputs reflect the many, many, FTE-years of labeling efforts, training, fine-tuning, prompt design, QA/verification — all iteratively guided by the team who built it. You can also be certain that before releasing it, many people have tried the product internally, that many demos were given to senior PMs and VPs, that they all thought it was fine, and that they all ultimately signed off on the release. With that prior, the balance of probabilities is strongly against the outputs being an innocent bug — as @googlepubpolicy is now trying to spin it: Gemini is a product that functions exactly as designed, and an accurate reflection of the values people who built it.

Those values appear to include a desire to reshape the world in a specific way that is so strong that it allowed the people involved to rationalize to themselves that it’s not just acceptable but desirable to train their AI to prioritize ideology ahead of giving user the facts. To revise history, to obfuscate the present, and to outright hide information that doesn’t align with the company’s (staff’s) impression of what is “good”. I don’t care if some of that ideology may or may not align with your or my thinking about what would make the world a better place: for anyone with a shred of awareness of human history it should be clear how unbelievably irresponsible it is to build a system that aims to become an authoritative compendium of human knowledge (remember Google’s mission statement?), but which actually prioritizes ideology over facts. History is littered with many who have tried this sort of moral flexibility “for the greater good”; rather than helping, they typically resulted in decades of setbacks (and tens of millions of victims).

Setting social irresponsibility aside, in a purely business sense, it is beyond stupid to build a product which will explicitly put your company’s social agenda before the customer’s needs. Think about it: G’s Search — for all its issues — has been perceived as a good tool, because it focused on providing accurate and useful information. Its mission was aligned with the users’ goals (“get me to the correct answer for the stuff I need, and fast!”). That’s why we all use(d) it. I always assumed Google’s AI efforts would follow the pattern, which would transfer over the user base & lock in another 1-2 decade of dominance.

But they’ve done the opposite. After Gemini, rather than as a user-centric company, Google will be perceived as an activist organization first — ready to lie to the user to advance their (staff’s) social agenda. That’s huge. Would you hire a personal assistant who openly has an unaligned (and secret — they hide the system prompts) agenda, who you fundamentally can’t trust? Who strongly believes they know better than you? Who you suspect will covertly lie to you (directly or through omission) when your interests diverge? Forget the cookies, ads, privacy issues, or YouTube content moderation; Google just made 50%+ of the population run through this scenario and question the trustworthiness of the core business and the people running it. And not at the typical financial (“they’re fleecing me!”) level, but ideological level (“they hate people like me!”). That’ll be hard to reset, IMHO.

What about the future? Take a look at Google’s AI Responsibility Principles and ask yourself what would Search look like if the staff who brought you Gemini was tasked to interpret them & rebuild it accordingly? Would you trust that product? Would you use it? Well, with Google’s promise to include Gemini everywhere, that’s what we’ll be getting. In this brave new world, every time you run a search you’ll be asking yourself “did it tell me the truth, or did it lie, or hide something?”. That’s lethal for a company built around organizing information.

And that’s why, as of this weekend, I’ve started divorcing my personal life and taking my information out of the Google ecosystem. It will probably take a ~year (having invested in nearly everything, from Search to Pixel to Assistant to more obscure things like Voice), but has to be done.

Once more, we see the benefits of being rejected by the evil institutions of the world. It puts you ahead of the curve whether you want to be there or not.

I am not reliant upon YouTube or Blogger because I am partially blocked from using both services. I am banned from Google’s Mountain View campus because the SJWs there are afraid of me. I quit using Google for search a long time ago because it is no longer capable of performing its primary function. I still use my Gmail account, mostly because it does a good job of filtering out the spam, but I have multiple email alternatives that I have been using for years.

Some people might wonder how it is possible that a corporation will knowingly destroy itself by putting ideology ahead of customer service, customer satisfaction, or even revenue, but those who have read SJWAL and Corporate Cancer know exactly what is happening here, and why it won’t stop.

Convergence invariably kills over time.

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Fake Success, Real Failure

Vice has filed for bankruptcy and its content management system was shut down yesterday:

Vice.com has stopped publishing new content and laid off several hundred employees, its CEO announced late on Thursday. The outlet once valued at billions of dollars had to be rescued from bankruptcy last year, by a consortium including George Soros.

The website is still available, but its content management system was shut down minutes before midnight, according to one employee. The VICE company will “transition to a studio model,” CEO Bruce Dixon said in a message sent to the staff, as part of “fundamental changes to our strategic vision.”

“We create and produce outstanding original content true to the Vice brand. However, it is no longer cost-effective for us to distribute our digital content the way we have done previously,” Dixon wrote. Going forward, Vice will partner with “established media companies” to distribute its digital content on their platforms instead.

Funded by major corporations and venture capital throughout the 2010s, Vice was valued at $5.7 billion in 2017.

It’s fascinating to compare the fragility of a large, massively-well funded operation like Vice with the antifragility of small, independent operations like UATV. While UATV can survive multiple hits that reduce its revenue to zero for as long as it takes to build the subscriber base back again… and again, the use of debt means that not even a bailout from George Soros is sufficient to keep a Clown World institution like Vice afloat.

Everything about Clown World is fake, pride, and short-lived.

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