Thursday, March 14, 2019

Haque and Ocasio-Cortez both talk about personal motivation under socialism (v capitalism)



I’ll probably develop this more on Wordpress soon, but Umair Haque has recently tried to explain how people really are incentivized to become productive under his idea of socialism (and anti-capitalism).

His idea seems to center around localism, and people paying their dues in trade groups we used to call guilds, which then form small businesses. 
  

  
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez comment about American workers receiving less pay than the “value they create” is supposed to be proto-Marxist, according to Business Insider’s Jim Edwards. 

That theory leads to some internal mathematical contradictions, so it can’t be exactly true (if you’re taking a Master’s Oral exam in Econ and get asked this).   Common infrastructure is part of value (and consider "the tragedy of the commons").

Ocasio-Cortez had made the remark that “if you don’t have a job, you are left to die”.  That puts it bluntly. I have to come back to that.  

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The college admission scandal puts a faster spin on inequality, and what we might do about it



The media considers this morning’s charges from the DOJ in Massachusetts against a few celebrities and a lot of wealthy parents for bribery of university officials regarding admission of their kids a bombshell. 

Indeed, it will drive the polarization driven by intersectionality and belief in group victimization even further.  It will keep race and POC designation an issue in its own right.  It will surely up the ante on the debate over quotas and even issues like mandatory national service or conscription. 

It is particularly galling that non-athletes were admitted as “athletes” for sports they had never played.  I think of Harvard undergraduate John Fish’s videos, where indeed he shows plenty of videos of his high school track races and explains how track (an individual sport) gave him passion for everything.  


  
ABC’s Terry Moran is right in saying that a lot of what goes on is perfectly legal.  Hiring tutors and coaches and paying for private schools is a resource of the wealthy.   Kids are even told what sports to play or what musical instruments to learn for university class "casting".  Libertarian proposals for private school vouchers may help to some extent.  But, as Tim Pool suggested Monday, much of the problem is duping our kids to go into debt for degrees that are relatively useless in a practical job market.  Economic Invincibility has several videos on why college is a scam for many people. I did get a $2000 scholarship at William and Mary in 1961 strictly based academic ability, despite the fact that my parents were relatively well off; that set up the narrative of my life and books. 
  

Lori Loughlin was the star mom on “Summerland”, a family drama series on TheWB in the mid 2000’s.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Tim Pool writes Twitter stream advocating major reform of student debt, and it's urgent



Tim Pool is certain known for his multiplicative "Timcast" podcasts on YouTube and his commentary recently about social media and payment processor censoring or deplatforming of “conservatives”, and he has ironically drawn criticism because he “doesn’t believe in taking sides”.  Journalists aren’t supposed to, real people have to.



But today he wrote a 12-post Twitter stream on the indebtedness of young adults, especially student loans.  The sum of the parts is essentially like a blog post here. 

Although he has been critical of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, he agreed with her observation that “if you don’t have a job, you’re left to die.” 

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Pancreatic cancer treatment is complicated by a biochemical quirk with Vitamin D



The Washington Post has several linked stories Sunday morning about pancreatic cancer (following Jeopardy host Alex Trebek’s diagnosis of advanced disease ). 
  
Amy Ellis Nutt reports why pancreatic cancer is so difficult to treat:  it has something to do with the way the tumor cells use Vitamin D. There is also a story about a woman who, at 44, recovered because of an early diagnosis from unusually early painful symptoms. 



In 2016, my own annual physical showed a Vitamin D deficiency, which sounds odd in retrospect. 
  
We’d like to hear if there is progress with licensing Jack Andraka’s simple blood test for cancer markers.

Friday, March 08, 2019

Teenager defies anti-vax mom by getting his vaccinations when turning 18


Ethan Lindenberger, from Ohio, decided once he was a legal adult to get all the usual vaccines, to protect himself and others.  An Australian website reports on this, noting that in Australia they are considering an “no jab no play” policy. 

I’ll add that young adults about to live in dorms at college should get both vaccines for meningitis (the B vaccine is newer).  And the US should require people going to much of Africa for volunteer work to be vaccinated against Ebola. 





Julia Belluz for Vox has a detailed factual story on measles here. Joshua Nerius, a software product manager, describes getting the measles at 30 because of anti-vax rearing.
  
I got the measles in June 1950 shortly before my seventh birthday. We went home from vacation in Ocean City MD early.  There is some possibility that my physical athletic development during grade school could have been compromised. 
  
Facebook has announced it will shadowban posts or pages presenting anti-vaccine misinformation.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Trump's emergency declaration may make building a wall harder: legal expertiese needed badly



Yulyah Panfil has an interesting article on CNN explaining why Trump’s emergency declaration makes building more wall harder. 

The problem is that only Congress can appropriate money to acquire real estate property along the border by eminent domain. Trump may be able to manipulate military projects, but not take land from civilians without Congress. 



And there are not many lawyers schooled in both constitutional law, and real estate (property rights), to see how to connect the dots. 

Chris Cuomo tonight reported on a story that migrant family crossings are at an all time high, often seeking detention as safer than life in Central America – and the border patrol is unprepared for the volume.  This does sound like an emergency of sorts – and contradicts earlier claims that “illegal” entry has declined.  Here is the NPR story by Joel Rose and John Burnett.  

Friday, March 01, 2019

Global warming not a reason to avoid having children



MSN has shared an article about population demographics that seems to come from conservative sources. “No, Global Warming Is Not a Reason to Have No Children”, link

This article seems to come from conservative sources. She gets into arguments that seem like a reverse existentialism, about non-existence and being anti-human and anti-life. I guess we don’t know if neutron stars have their own kind of consciousness (Scientific American).  




She also reports that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been advising her constituents not to have kids as part of her Green New Deal.  I heard about her comment about the cheap seats and being in control, but this one I hadn’t heard, not even from Timcast. 
  
Nevertheless, that new book “The Uninhabitable Earth” by David Wallace-Wells drives this kind of thinking. I’ll have a full review of it on Wordpress soon.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

House passes two gun control bills (closes Charleston loophole) but unlikely to get through Senate (action effort mounted)



David and Lauren Hogg made a short film, animated, on the policy changes necessary to reduce gun violence.  It’s on Twitter here (I didn’t see a YouTube link).  Again, I’d like them to make a feature film based on this past year (I’d contribute to a kickstarter if there were one – I did to a television show on this.) 

David’s Twitter feed today also shows him making an appeal to text your Senators to pass legislation recently passed by the House. 



The House has in fact passed two bills (the first on gun control in a long time) on party lines to tighten background checks. 

The first bill requires federal background checks on all gun sales, including (especially) private sales. 
  
The second bill closes the “Charleston loophole” that allows some gun sales to be completed before an investigation is completed, by some number of business days.  But Dylan Roof already had the weapon he used for two months. 
  
We’re probably in a situation where schools need metal detectors for all who enter the buildings.  Maybe there is some faster way to see them with technology.  Even that is not perfect, as there are plastic weapons.  The “3-D” printed weapons fortunately work only for one or two rounds, usually. When I was substitute teaching in the mid 2000’s there were no checks (in northern VA) although a few schools required you to leave your driver’s license.  One special ed teacher was busted one day at a school where I worked for having weapons in his car.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Abuse of minors reported at southern border while House passes bill to undo Trump's national security emergency


Pamela Brown et al on CNN are reporting on sexual abuse of minors at the border under US custody, mostly of unaccompanied children, mostly of females.  
 
Despite the fact that illegal immigration through the border has dropped since 2000, unaccompanied minors have apparently increased.  Most come from Hondouras, Guatemala and particularly El Salvador. Many are kept in Nogales, AZ and then transferred to military facilities turned to detention centers.  The law allows expedited returns of children from Mexico but not the other Central American countries.   
  

  

It would be challenging to set up sponsorship or adoption programs for them, but Canada has tried harder than we have.   
  
All this goes on while the House votes down Trump’s national emergency declaration. It will pass the Senate and lead to Trump's first veto, ironically.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Climate change debate leads to insult from Ocasio-Cortez, SJW rebuf of Diane Feinstein



OK, just a couple of insults in the media yesterday.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rebuffed a critic of her total Green New Deal and said “we are in control and you’re shouting from the cheap seats”.  OK, you have to have money to speak?  That’s why my content is free.  This idea can go in dangerous directions, for me at least. 




Well, she had to crowd fund her security deposit for her rent in DC?

Seriously, now she sounds like Kellyanne Conway on the left, saying that morality is more important than being factually and semantically correct (in related to destroying the Amazon deal for New York). 

Then Senator Diane Feinstein, meeting with schoolkids in California, rebuffed the most radical climate change proposals and said she had been working on this for thirty years and wasn’t going to respond to criticism that she wasn’t energetic enough. And the SJW took her remarks and started another little twitter storm, as if she were attacking the kids. 

Feinstein is level headed and right about most things. 
  
Today, Fareed Zakaria interviewed author David Wallace-Wells, about “The Uninhabitable Earth”, which is getting beyond “inconvenient truth” zones. The moral conundrums, at a personal level, become even more complex. Wells wants to do something about bovine emissions of methane.   The climate was still stable 25 years ago, but not now.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Would Germany's health insurance system provide a good model for reform (even for Bernie Sanders)?


Jamie Drew, in the New York Times, offers an interesting argument that the U.S, would do well to consider the German model for health insurance rather than Canada’s. 





As the video explains there are public and private insurance systems. 
  
This seems to be a fair mix of private incentives for innovation (regulated to prevent perverse incentives) along with fairly priced and means-tested health insurance for everyone.

  

Update: Feb. 24 

Today Fareed Zakaria recommended Switzerland's system, which he said resembles Obamacare with a very strict individual mandate and very stable premium supports for lower income people. But it can't sell politically here. But do the math. 

Saturday, February 16, 2019

EFF analyzes presidential "emergency declarations" as posing a surveillance threat for ordinary Americans



Cindy Cohn and Shahid Buttar have a summary article at Electronic Frontier Foundation on the constitutional and legal questions about President Trump’s “national emergency” to get his “wall” built on parts of the southern border, link
  
There is tension between two concepts.  Congress is supposed to control how money is appropriated. But Congress was quite loose in defining exactly what constitutes a “national emergency” as it assumed the president would act in good faith. 

In this case, Trump admits he doesn’t really have to do it (blunder), and that it is a political trick to appease his aggrieved base. 





On January 5, I wrote a detailed piece on my Books blog on an Atlantic piece that went into how an emergency declaration could interfere with many other things, including expression on the Internet. Perhaps that idea is softened by the reality of many other standing emergencies (such as for 9/11) were never rescinded. A Fox article Thursday did mention “martial law”.   (Curiously Fox would not allow a link to this article from this blog;  go to ' https://www.foxnews.com/politics/what-is-a-national-emergency-how-can-trump-use-it-to-fund-border-wall ' on your own; this almost sounds like EU's "article 11" -- or is this just a security certificate problem?) 

 
EFF’s biggest concern is increased covert surveillance of normal Internet activity, which could lead to wrongful prosecutions. 

CBS News reports that multiple lawsuits were filed late Friday.
  
Nicholas Fandos analyzes ("four key questions"_ what Congress can do, but it would be unlikely to override a veto of the undo.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Trump expected to sign compromise tomorrow, and then work around; make El Chapo pay?



Erica Warner et al report in the Washington Post this morning that Congress is working on its “social studies test” compromise for signature before midnight Friday, Feb. 15, link here.

But Trump is expected to institute some executive orders, probably short of an emergency, to fund more of the wall, past $2 billion or so.  Ted Cruz suggests that the money be confiscated from El Chapo.  I’d go for that.



  

Today is February 14, Valentines Day, one year from the Parkland Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school shooting.

Update:

McConnell announced today that Trump would issue some sort of Emergency Friday.  Here is what ABC News writes as interpretation. 

Update Friday:

When I stopped for lunch in Rocky Mount, NC at a Denny's I checked my phone and found Trump's statement.  By saying he didn't have to do this, he shot himself in the foot and amputated his toes. 

Monday, February 11, 2019

Bipartisan border security negotiations reported to bog down as Feb. 15 deadline approaches



The major media, especially CNN is reporting that bipartisan negotiation on border security, due by Feb. 15, is breaking down again, as in this article by Stephen Collinson. 

The Democrats seem to want the limit the number of detention beds for ICE.  It’s not clear if this applies only along the border, or at the many detention centers in the country.  (There are several in each of Virginia, Maryland and especially Pennsylvania.)  Apparently the number of beds for minors is part of the issue.  


It would sound logical to appropriate a budget for beds and then have a mechanism to handle an emergency.  Why is this a sticking point?  It should not be acceptable to release undocumented people without some sort of process or supervision (asylum application, relatives, sponsors, non-profits, etc, which need to be built up).

There seems to be some progress on the issue of the actual fence or wall itself.
  
It seems more likely that some sort of “emergency declaration” could occur Feb. 16 than an actual partial shutdown. No more political hostages, please. 

Later Monday:

Oh, well, now there is an "agreement in principle" (Washington Post, Erica Werner et al). . 

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Is the public health establishment "right" on selling colonoscopies?



I will do a Cologuard test first (I plan to do it around President’s Day, after getting some other stuff done), but if there is a positive DNA test (likely at my age), then there would be a colonoscopy.


There are some naysayers out there, although most of the YouTube videos are supportive.  Not this one.

I’m not sure what to make of his statistics, and whether this is a case of the public health establishment vs. the libertarian-prepper-gun-owing-self-sufficiency crowd.  He seems to have some nutritional supplements to sell.

This begins to sound a bit like the anti-vax debate. 
  
Here’s another example of a bad experience.

Friday, February 01, 2019

Anti-vaccine, anti-climate-change; many people simply don't trust "elite" information sources and depend on tribal hierarchy for what they believe, period



Yesterday, I read a Facebook post from a Friend who said her daughter was unvaccinated against measles and that she lived in an era with an outbreak, and wondered how to protect her daughter. Duh?  Get vaccinated?

And I saw comments from people who believe that they should not expose their kids to even the slightest theoretical chance of autism.
  
So I know, of course, the medical world’s position, for example, the AMA  Or Harvard, with Vivien Chou

If I had kids, I would vaccinate them.  I recall that Tribeca film festival pulled a film ("Vaxxed") that supported vaccine resistance. 


That’s a big “skin in the game” question, isn’t it.

I thought, how until modern times, most people were used to getting their information through a familial or tribal hierarchy (including religious).  Truth is not highly individualized.  Judgment was based on “common sense” and real world experience.  Just like an Army Basic, a few of the earthier soldiers said I had no “common sense”.

So people who live in more rural areas, in a more self-contained “intentional” community want the freedom to live according to what is their own personal experiential “common sense”.  We see this especially with the gun debate.  

And we see it with climate change, although you would think more parents, even in communities like this, would be more concerned about their own grandchildren.  They’ve been caught especially flatfooted by the wildfire problem.
  
The problem of course is, as people mix with others, some “herd immunity” problems start to surface. Public health officials insist that when parents refuse to allow an older child to be vaccinated, the parents are putting at risk other people's kids who are still too young to be vaccinated (especially measles).  I have measles just before my 7th birthday in 1950.    




Update: Feb. 3

Julia Belluz, in a 2017 article, applies Moral Foundations Theory to explain the attitude of parents who do not want to allow their kids to be vaccinated. 

Belluz also has an article Feb. 1 on measles itself. 

Thursday, January 31, 2019

The warming Arctic, unstable polar vortices, and cold waves



So, all the “proles” are going to say that the elites are breaching common sense and refuse to believe the theories on climate change, and the calls for some political measures now.

But a warming Arctic may nudge the “polar vortex” south more often.

Kelly Levin of the World Resources Institute explains here.  

It’s also true that in the distant past, winter cold spells were even more extreme.  If you check the World Book Encyclopedia from 1950, which my family had (and which I kept – those great covered relief maps of the states) many northern and midwestern states have very extreme record lows which have not been approached in my lifetime.

  
And we’ve never had a blizzard quite like New York’s in March 1888, although the second (February) blizzard of 1978 when I was living in Manhattan came close.  World Weather Attribution indicates that severe winter weather is actually less common than it used to be. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Immigration detainees "volunteer" to work for practically nothing


Victoria Law has a big op-ed in the New York Times about the “voluntary” labor of immigrants in detention centers as exploited by private contractors, link here
  
Apparently the pay is pennies an hour.
  
Detention of immigrants who entered unlawfully but who may be processing asylum claims is viewed as civil, not criminal.  So it is rather shocking that Congress allow this.
  
  
Detention centers exist all over the country, not just at the border.  There is one in Farmville VA, another near Berlin MD on the eastern shore;  there are several in Pennsylvania.
   
CNN has a news report on a center in Virginia for detained unaccompanied minors.

Monday, January 28, 2019

A note about populist conservatism from Prager U; did the Covington students "intend" to make others "uncomfortable"?



I’ll put this video on the “issues blog” this time.

Stephen Harper explains “Why Trump Won” for Prager U.
  

He explains that people who live “everywhere” and are numerous are still fewer than people who live “somewhere”, are much more tribal or family-centered and much less immune to the policy dislocations caused by other.  The globalists believe they are anti-tribal and anti-identarian, as if intersectionality were beneath them. 
      
He describes what he calls “populist conservatism” which is more pragmatic than libertarianism and even perhaps Reagan-style conservatism and supply-side economics.
  
What he doesn’t explain is the slide into identarianism even by the “progressives” in the tech community, leading to new forms of censorship.


I’ll link to an opinion piece by Jonathan Capehart, “Time to take on the Covington ‘smirk’”, link     I certain agree with Capehart that the position both Sandmann and Phillips found themselves in was, well, absurd.  But I don’t think Sandmann owed the world or Phillips deference to intersectional ideas about past injustices to groups.  Sandmann’s strategy could be understood as simply a way to defuse a possibly volatile situation, as it (apart from external racial or cultural contexts) would be normally healthful and mature way to react – stand still and do nothing. Capehart has a similar op-ed that “nothing justified what the Covington students did.”  It is certainly reasonable to note the paradox in the Catholic school's sending students to march for the Church position on abortion -- when in practice "the right to life" applies to many more people than the unborn. 

Monica Hesse has an interesting perspective, “The Covington Students and the art of making people uncomfortable”, that is more double edged.  This is the “Rorschach test” where everyone sees in the Sandmann-Phillips “summit meeting” what they are predisposed to see based on past experiences within their own groups.  This was an issue when I was at NIH in 1962.



Update: Feb 4 

Attorneys from an Atlanta law firm have sent warning letters, to retain documents, to at least 50 parties related to Sandman.  Some of the parties do not appear to have said anything negative about him (like David Brooks).  The PDF of the letter is embedded in this Red State article

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Pelosi beats Trump in this first game of thrones as Trump opens government for three weeks





Okay, Trump caved in, after near breakdown at east coast airports on Friday. That’s how “this ends”.  He’d let the government open for three weeks.  Here’s a typical story from my own email provider.  I’ll put the video on this blog this time rather than the TV Reviews blog, where I had put the past two.
  
Neither Trump, Schumer, nor Pelosi belong in the Washington Nationals’s starting rotation this season!


Trump went on a long time about specific processes that he thinks happen around the border. 
  
A bipartisan committee is supposed to work out a compromise that would be likely to provide some wall or fence construction in some specific areas.  There would like be some homes and land taken near the Rio Grande river, in Texas especially, under eminent domain.  That’s likely to come up in the discussions.

It is still unclear whether Trump could get funds for a wall after Feb. 15, if he did not get “his wall” to appease Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh and his base, without a national emergency declaration.

The real threat would be that any national emergency that was “valid” would involve other threats that could involve compromising Internet express and access. See “Books” and the story on the Atlantic article, Jan. 12.
  
Furthermore, failing to pay certain employees could have increased the likelihood of a real terror threat that could have led to a “genuine” national emergency. See Jan 22 post.