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  • Tearing off the Fig Leaf

    Posted by TM Lutas on August 27th, 2019 (All posts by )

    In 2019, New York finally did it. They gave up pretending that they can ever run the state under the state constitution and the normal rules of American governance. After pretending since WW II that the state’s housing situation was in a temporary state of emergency started by that war and periodically renewing the state of emergency this year, the rent control and stabilization kept the emergency but got rid of the time limit. The state of emergency is now permanent.

    On pages three and four of the bill, six separate edits make it clear that New York has adopted a permanent state of emergency. There’s no more renewals, no more expirations, no more re-examination, no return to normalcy.

    Most importantly, there is no state Constitutional amendment. The guarantee for just compensation for a taking of property remains. The prohibition of using the government to provide private benefit remains. In a time-limited emergency, such guarantees can be temporarily suspended, but not permanently. The state of New York has been claiming Hitler as their justification for suspending the New York Constitution for decades. No longer.

    Now New York claims the right to suspend their Constitution permanently and to widen the suspension from a few limited districts to the entire state. This is a horrifically bad idea. It’s also probably unconstitutional. But will anyone notice?

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 5 Comments »

    The Ideological Turing Test

    Posted by David Foster on August 26th, 2019 (All posts by )

    The Turing test is a means of assessing whether an automated system is truly intelligent by testing its ability to simulate an actual human being in conversation…the test to be conducted via terminals, over a communications link. Here’s an excerpt from Alan Turing’s own example of a hypothetical conversation:

    Interrogator: In the first line of your sonnet which reads “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day,” would not “a spring day” do as well or better?

    Witness: It wouldn’t scan.

    Interrogator: How about “a winter’s day,” That would scan all right.

    Witness: Yes, but nobody wants to be compared to a winter’s day.

    Interrogator: Would you say Mr. Pickwick reminded you of Christmas?

    Witness: In a way.

    Interrogator: Yet Christmas is a winter’s day, and I do not think Mr. Pickwick would mind the comparison.

    Witness: I don’t think you’re serious. By a winter’s day one means a typical winter’s day, rather than a special one like Christmas.

    At a considerably lower literary level, quite a few automated telephony systems today make an attempt to convince their targets that they are dealing with an actual human being, at least for a few seconds.

    The ideological Turing test…the term was invented by Bryan Caplan, following some comments by Paul Krugman…refers to an individual’s ability to accurately state opposing political and ideological views.  Caplan quotes John Stuart Mill: “He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that.”

    My observation is that neither side in America’s current political divisions is over-endowed with people capable of passing the ITT.  Paul Krugman asserted, unsurprisingly, that liberals do it better:

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Book Notes, Elections, Human Behavior, Marketing, Politics, Tech | 30 Comments »

    Summer Rerun: Jeff Sypeck’s Gargoyle Poems

    Posted by David Foster on August 25th, 2019 (All posts by )

    …which were inspired by the gargoyles of the Washington National Cathedral, were published in book form in 2012.  I was reminded of these poems by the dreadfully destructive fire at Notre Dame.

    The book includes 53 poems accompanied by black-and-white photos of the gargoyles and grotesques. These poems are really good…one of my favorites is  A Mother Consoles her Daughter.

    You can get the book via the usual on-line sources, the National Cathedral Store, or directly from Jeff’s blog, at this page.

     

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Christianity, History, Poetry | No Comments »

    Posted by TM Lutas on August 24th, 2019 (All posts by )

    Sometimes your eyes can trick you.

    HT: Political Calculations

     

    Posted in Diversions | 7 Comments »

    “After Minimum Wage Hike, Labor Day Will Be Replaced by Cheaper, More Efficient, Robot Labor Day”

    Posted by Jonathan on August 22nd, 2019 (All posts by )

    … Foremost on the front burner is an attempt by the Democrats to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. A fiscal review by the Senate Budget Committee, however, showed that doing so would make human labor costs so prohibitive that all human workers would quickly be replaced by AI software, self-serve kiosks, or those creepy headless Boston Dynamics robots. As companies could no longer afford to pay people $120 to not do a lick of work on the first Monday in September, “Labor Day” would have to be changed to “Robot Labor Day,” and the focus would switch to celebrating how our robot friends keep companies in business, rather than how minimum wages and unions almost destroyed them.

    Read the entire post.

    Satire, like skateboarding, is not a crime – yet.

     

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Humor, Leftism, Politics | 37 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: Conlawprof and Climate Change

    Posted by Jonathan on August 21st, 2019 (All posts by )

    Interesting observations:

    On August 18, 2019, on Conlawprof, Professor BBB wrote:
     

    Your note reveals a common misunderstanding of the predictive models. First, the models tend to under-predict. That is, the observed macro-effects exceed what the models predict. The models and reports also tend to under predict global temperatures. (The IPCC noted that “the [observed] level of warming in 2017 was 0.15°C–0.35°C higher than [predicted] average warming over the 30-year period 1988–2017.”) [citing: ]

     
    I note that Professor BBB adds the word “predicted”. It is not in the original quotation. I checked the original quotation in IPCC5, and it struck me—generalist though I am—that he had inadvertently inverted the meaning of the quoted material. But not being expert, and realizing that different minds might reasonably disagree about such things, I promptly wrote my friends at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Secretariat…

    Seth links to a paper he wrote whose abstract includes this passage:

    Legal academics and the public are fascinated by both constitutional text and the processes by which it is interpreted. The precise role for legal academics in the interpretation of such charters is controverted. Doctrine and case law as established by the courts remain the core of academic legal discourse. Case law is, after all, the object about which doctrine is based, built, and extended. But the interpretation of constitutional text through case law comes with costs — it seems to lack democratic legitimacy, and where unconnected to text and history, it has a tendency to fence out (even the well-educated) the public. On the other hand, when legal academics shift to text and history, their work gains populist credentials, but, at that point, the legal academic risks his privileged position. For the legal academic has no monopoly, or even highly developed expertise, with regard to textual exegesis or the best use of historical materials…

    Substitute “scientists” for “legal academics”, and “climate data” for “text and history”, and there might be some kind of parallel here.

     

    Posted in History, Law, Rhetoric, Science | 16 Comments »

    Summer Rerun: Metaphors, Interfaces, Memes, and Thinking

    Posted by David Foster on August 20th, 2019 (All posts by )

    This rerun of an earlier post (slightly reworked) was inspired by a comment by MCS at this post:

    We are now living in the first post-literate society where the masses will be directed by rumor. Memes will take the place of reasoned discussion.

    Neal Stephenson wrote In the Beginning was the Command Line, a strange little book which would probably be classified under the subject heading “computers.”  While the book does deal with human interfaces to computer systems, its deeper subject is the impact of media and metaphors on thought processes and on work.

    Stephenson contrasts the explicit word-based interface with the graphical or sensorial interface. The first (which I’ll call the textual interface) can be found in a basic UNIX system or in an old-style PC DOS system or timesharing terminal. The second (the sensorial interface) can be found in Windows and Mac systems and in their respective application programs.

    As a very different example of a sensorial interface, Stephenson uses something he saw at Disney World–a hypothetical stone-by-stone reconstruction of a ruin in the jungles of India. It is supposed to have been built by a local rajah in the sixteenth century, but since fallen into disrepair.

    The place looks more like what I have just described than any actual building you might find in India. All the stones in the broken walls are weathered as if monsoon rains had been trickling down them for centuries, the paint on the gorgeous murals is flaked and faded just so, and Bengal tigers loll among stumps of broken columns. Where modern repairs have been made to the ancient structure, they’ve been done, not as Disney’s engineers would do them, but as thrifty Indian janitors would–with hunks of bamboo and rust-spotted hunks of rebar.

    In one place, you walk along a stone wall and view some panels of art that tell a story.

    …a broad jagged crack runs across a panel or two, but the story is still readable: first, primordial chaos leads to a flourishing of many animal species. Next, we see the Tree of Life surrounded by diverse animals…an obvious allusion (or, in showbiz lingo, a tie-in) to the gigantic Tree of Life that dominates the center of Disney’s Animal Kingdom…But it’s rendered in historically correct style and could probably fool anyone who didn’t have a PhD in Indian art history.

    The next panel shows a mustachioed H. sapiens chopping down the Tree of Life with a scimitar, and the animals fleeing every which way. The one after that shows the misguided human getting walloped by a tidal wave, part of a latter-day Deluge presumably brought on by his stupidity.

    The final panel, then, portrays the Sapling of Life beginning to grow back, but now man has ditched the edged weapon and joined the other animals in standing around to adore and praise it.

    Clearly, this exhibit communicates a specific worldview, and it strongly implies that this worldview is consistent with traditional Indian religion and culture. Most viewers will assume the connection without doing further research as to its correctness or lack thereof.

    I’d observe that as a general matter, the sensorial interface is less open to challenge than the textual interface. It doesn’t argue–doesn’t present you with a chain of facts and logic that let you sit back and say, “Hey, wait a minute–I’m not so sure about that.” It just sucks you into its own point of view.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Academia, Arts & Letters, Blogging, Book Notes, Deep Thoughts, Film, Human Behavior, Internet, Obama, Tech | 9 Comments »

    Retconned America – The 1619 Project

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on August 19th, 2019 (All posts by )

    It appears that this week, the New York Times, the so-called paper of record, upon whom the self-directed spotlight of smug superiority ever shines – has now taken that final, irrevocable step from the business of reporting news and current events, matters cultural and artistic to becoming a purveyor of progressive propaganda. Of course, as characters in British procedural mysteries often say, ‘they have form’ when it comes to progressive propaganda; all the way from Walter Duranty’s reporting on famine in the Soviet Union through the drumbeat of ‘worst war-crime evah!’ in coverage when it came to Abu Ghraib, and the current bête noir – or rather ‘bête orange’ man bad. It seems that it has now become necessary for the Times to make the issue of chattel slavery of black Africans the centerpiece, the foundation stone, the sum and total of American history. Everything – absolutely everything in American history and culture now must be filtered through the pitiless lens of slavery.
    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Americas, Anti-Americanism, Civil Society, Customer Service, History, Leftism, Media, Tea Party | 33 Comments »

    The War on Trump. Stage Two.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on August 17th, 2019 (All posts by )

    The release of the Mueller Report with his painful conclusion that there was no Trump Russia collusion, has sent the political left on a search for another issue. “Obstruction of Justice” is not working out so the strategists at the New York Times, GHQ of the Trump Resistance, has settled on a new theme, explained at an Editorial Board meeting last week.

    A transcript of a recording was obtained by Slate.

    In the 75 minutes of the meeting—which Slate obtained a recording of, and of which a lightly condensed and edited transcript appears below—Baquet and the paper’s other leadership tried to resolve a tumultuous week for the paper, one marked by a reader revolt against a front-page headline and a separate Twitter meltdown by Jonathan Weisman, a top editor in the Washington bureau. On Tuesday, the Times announced it was demoting Weisman from deputy editor because of his “serious lapses in judgment.”

    The headline issue was a hilarious swap of headlines after the first was considered too friendly to Trump.

    [R]eader expectations of the Times have shifted after the election of President Trump. The paper… saw a huge surge of subscriptions in the days and months after the 2016 election… The Times has since embraced these new subscribers in glitzy commercials with slogans like “The truth is more important now than ever.” Yet there is a glaring disconnect between those energized readers and many Times staffers, especially newspaper veterans. [Executive Editor Dean] Baquet doesn’t see himself as the vanguard of the resistance… He acknowledges that people may have a different view of what the Times is, but he doesn’t blame the marketing. “It’s not because of the ads; it’s because Donald Trump has stirred up very powerful feelings among Americans. It’s made Americans, depending on your point of view, very angry and very mistrustful of institutions.

    So, readers who hate Trump went nuts after the first headline was not angry enough.

    So, what to do ?

    But there’s something larger at play here. This is a really hard story, newsrooms haven’t confronted one like this since the 1960s. It got trickier after [inaudible] … went from being a story about whether the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia and obstruction of justice to being a more head-on story about the president’s character.

    In other words, the New York Times went all in on RussiaGate and that exploded in their faces, so now they’ve had to shift their Main Narrative to denouncing Trump as racist:

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Elections, History, Politics, Trump | 67 Comments »

    Six Hundred Million Years in K-12

    Posted by David Foster on August 17th, 2019 (All posts by )

    (This post is now an August perennial, in honor of the beginning of the new school year–indeed, many kids have already been in school for 2 or 3 weeks)

    Peter Orszag, who was Obama’s budget director and is now at Lazard, thinks it would be a good idea to cut back on summer school vacations for kids, arguing that this would both improve academics and reduce obesity.

    I’m with Jeremy LottBut to look at the vast wasteland that is American public education — the poor teaching, the awful curriculum, the low standards, the anemic achievement, the institutional resistance to needed reform — and say that the real problem is summer vacation takes a special sort of mind.

    I wrote about the war on summer vacation back in 2006, after stopping at a store in Georgia on the first day of August and discovering that this was the first day of school for the local children.

    The truth is, most public K-12 schools make very poor use of the time of their students. They waste huge proportions of the millions of hours which have been entrusted to them–waste them through the mindless implementation of fads and theories, waste them through inappropriate teacher-credentialing processes, waste them through refusal to maintain high standards of performance and behavior.

    When an organization or institution proves itself to be a poor steward of the resources that have been entrusted to it, the right answer is not to give it more resources to waste.

    Orszag and similar thinkers seem to have no concept that good things can happen to children’s development outside of an institutional setting. Plenty of kids develop and pursue interests in science, literature, art, music…plus, there is plenty to be learned simply by interacting with friends in an unstructured environment.

    Would the world be better off if Steve Wozniak and Jeri Ellsworth..to name only two of many, many examples..had their noses held constantly to the school grindstone rather than having time to develop their interests in electronics?

    Lewis E Lawes, who was warden of Sing Sing prison from 1915 to 1941, wrote an interesting book titled Twenty Thousand Years in Sing Sing. The title refers to the aggregate lengths of the sentences of the men in the prison at a typical particular point in time.

    Lawes:

    Twenty-five hundred men saddled with an aggregate of twenty thousand years! Within such cycles worlds are born, die, and are reborn. That span has witnessed the evolution of the intelligence of mortal man. And we know that twenty thousand years have seen nations run their courses, perish, and give way to their successors. Twenty thousand years in my keeping. What will they evolve?

    Following the same approach, the aggregate length of the terms to be spent in K-12 schools by their current students is more than 600,000,000 years. What proportion of this time is actually used productively?

    And how many of the officials who supervise and run the public schools, and the ed-school professors who influence their policies, think about this 600,000,000 years in the same serious and reflective way that Lawes thought about the 20,000 years under his supervision? Some do, of course, but a disturbing percentage of them seem to be simply going through the bureaucratic motions.

    And the politicians and officials of the Democratic Party, those who talk so much about their devotion to Education and The Children, are the last people in the world who are ever going to call them on it.

     

    Posted in Big Government, Crime and Punishment, Education, Politics, USA | 6 Comments »

    New! – Your Chicagoboyz Friday Weather Pic

    Posted by Jonathan on August 16th, 2019 (All posts by )

    waterspout

    Waterspout

     

    Posted in Photos | 2 Comments »

    Media Incredibility

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on August 14th, 2019 (All posts by )

    Trent Telenko has already addressed the free-fall of credibility when it comes to elements of the federal government in the wake of the suspicious death in supposed tightly-supervised custody of Jeffrey Epstein, the Pedo-Prince of Perv Island. The resulting discussion thread provided plenty of food for thought, as well as clarifying the degree of contempt that elements of the so-called ruling classes and the federal justice bureaucracy apparently feel towards those ruled – in that they can’t even be bothered to tell a believable story regarding the last days of the Pimp to the Privileged.
    Once upon a time, we had – or at least, thought we had – a national news media which might, with the wind blowing in the right direction, and assuming that the reporters at the top of the national news-food chain weren’t best buddies with the studly, hip, and dynamic president and his glamorous wife – that national news media would cover the important stories. Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Conservatism, Culture, Current Events, Media, Society | 16 Comments »

    “Twitter Rolls Out New Feature That Auto-Posts ‘Ban Assault Rifles!’ From Your Account Any Time a Mass Shooting Hashtag Starts Trending”

    Posted by Jonathan on August 14th, 2019 (All posts by )

    Don’t give them ideas:

    Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said he was “excited” about the rollout of the new feature.
     
    “For at least 2 years now, maybe even longer, America has been faced with the tragedy of mass shootings,” said Dorsey. “While some people waste time considering the feelings of the victims and their families, others do the smart thing and start offering solutions to the problem. Now, the only solution that would have any effect – at least according to all the angry tweets I’ve read on the topic – is a complete ban on assault rifles. The problem is, not everyone is doing all they can to spread that message – like those ‘why don’t we discuss this calmly and study our options’ morons.”

    UPDATE: This is satire.

     

    Posted in Humor, Leftism, Media, Politics, RKBA | 8 Comments »

    Murder, Suicide, and Society

    Posted by David Foster on August 12th, 2019 (All posts by )

    A collection of worthwhile…if not very cheerful…links from Don Sensing.

     

    Posted in Deep Thoughts, Human Behavior, Religion, Society, Terrorism, USA | 13 Comments »

    “Red Flag” Laws

    Posted by Jonathan on August 12th, 2019 (All posts by )

    From this helpful summary of recent trends in US gun laws at Ammo.com:

    After a wave of mass shootings in 2017 and 2018, one of the most fashionable pushes for gun control was the rise of so-called “red flag” laws, or Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs).
     
    [. . .]
     
    Red flag laws enable law enforcement to confiscate firearms from an individual who is considered a threat to themselves or others. However, these confiscatory actions can be taken based on simple allegations. An accusation from a family member, friend, or associate is enough of a justification for law enforcement officers to seize an individual’s firearms.
     
    Potential for due process violations has emerged since red flag laws started gaining traction. Even the American Civil Liberties Union, who views the Second Amendment as a collective right as opposed to an individual right, has expressed concern about how red flags will essentially create Minority Report-like scenarios in America. Individuals could see their rights stripped just based on speculation on the part of petitioners and a judge.
     
    Subsequently, the accused are compelled to take their accusers to court, even though the accused has never been charged with or convicted of a crime. To make matters worse, the defendant could have their weapons seized without even a hearing before a judge. Months could go by before a gun owner wins back his gun rights in court.

    It seems likely that govt officials will use red flag laws to harass unpopular people. It seems likely that red flag laws will have perverse unintended consequences such as ex-girlfriend empowerment. Red flag laws will be enforced by the same institutions and officials whose inability to prevent or stop mass shootings is used as an argument for passing red flag laws.

    In politics, if it feels good, if it’s fashionable, if it’s glib, if everyone seems to want it, it’s probably a bad idea.

     

    Posted in Leftism, Politics, Rhetoric, RKBA | 15 Comments »

    Jeffrey Epstein’s Death in Federal Custody, the Suicide of Federal Government Credibility

    Posted by Trent Telenko on August 10th, 2019 (All posts by )

    The announced “death by suicide” of Pedo-Pimp to the Powerful Jeffrey Epstein in Federal government custody while;

    1. On a 24/7 suicide watch,
    2. After his first “suicide attempt,”  in late July, and
    3. Before there was any time for a real autopsy…

    …is such utter horse manure as to utterly destroy any shred of credibility of the Federal government.

    That Federal Attorney General Barr first called for an FBI investigation of Epstein’s death — to deafening loud round of public rasp-berry’s.

    Then he followed that credibility destroying knee jerk response near seconds later by saying the Department of Justice Inspector General would conduct the investigation — given the non-prosecution of so many in the DoJ & FBI after the IG caught them red handed leaking FISA surveillance sources and methods to the press — amounts to an “Eff-U” slap in the face to the General Public.

    This is pure “Pravda Reporting on Chernobyl” territory.  It’s all about elite posturing and “Face” while the radioactive pile burns.

    America functions on the consent of the governed.  This requires the government be credible through elite replacement by elections as well as the fair administration and enforcement of justice for both the powerful as well as the least of us.

    The circumstances of Mr Epstein’s death are such that I’ve completely lost any faith in the concept of “Justice” that in any way involves the institutional FBI or Department of Justice.

    I hate saying that because it leaves us here:

    “Those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable.”

    That Rubicon has now been crossed. G-d help the people of these United States.

    Please comment and tell me I’m wrong.  I’m in the mood to be lied too.

     

    Posted in America 3.0, Big Government, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Deep Thoughts, Law, Law Enforcement, Morality and Philosphy, Politics | 71 Comments »

    New! – Your Chicagoboyz Friday Weather Pic

    Posted by Jonathan on August 9th, 2019 (All posts by )

    storm

    Rain Minus 30 Seconds

     

    Posted in Photos | 1 Comment »

    One Bad Turn Deserving of Another

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on August 8th, 2019 (All posts by )

    My initial reaction upon reading of Juaquin Castro ‘outing’ local San Antonio donors to the Trump campaign was along the lines of “oh dear, that was so not a good idea!” Nothing that I have read about the imbroglio in the days since has given me cause to revise that opinion … other than to confirm it. Yes, such information is a matter of public record, but opening up certain of your constituents to harassment, especially in the wake of such things as calls for Republicans to be harassed in restaurants, protested by persons threatening violence at their homes, attacked physically, and going so far as shooting up their softball teams … this does not calm the political passions in any degree. No, it’s as good as spraying gasoline on a bonfire, and the Castro brothers richly deserve every bit of the opprobrium they have earned – especially locally.

    There is a rather curious thing about San Antonio; it may look like a medium-sized city to the distant observer, but it is actually the biggest small town in the world. The networks of personal connection are as strong and as intertwined as any small town. Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events | 16 Comments »

    A US sanctions bleg

    Posted by TM Lutas on August 7th, 2019 (All posts by )

    The US maintains a list of individuals and organizations it sanctions under various programs here. Does anyone out there independently keep track of these individuals/groups and why they’ve been placed on the list?

     

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 3 Comments »

    Under Pressure

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on August 6th, 2019 (All posts by )

    On summer nights, in the suburb where I lived in the late 1980ies, I often heard gunfire at night – a regular popping kind of noise, like pebbles dropping into a metal bucket. The every-day noise of the city died away, as well as sounds of traffic on the highway between Zaragoza and Logrono. Very distant, of course – the firing range at Bardenas Reales was at least thirty miles north as the crow flies, but the sounds of artillery, air gunnery, and military war games carried quite well, under certain conditions. I was often reminded then, of accounts from both world wars – recollections of residents in France and England; miles from the front, but who could hear the war, at a distance. The popping sound of distant firing also reminded me of other accounts, like this one – of submarine warfare in WWI, and how pressure worked on the hulls of early submarines, quite often fatally to their crews.

    The noise – hissing, popping, creaks and groaning, as the pressure builds, and builds. I cannot help thinking that the shootings in an El Paso Walmart, at a bar in Dayton, and at the Gilroy garlic festival are symptomatic of pressure building to a nearly unbearable level. Those young men, the shooters in each case (as well as earlier shooters like Dylan Roof and Adam Lanza) are the weakest rivets popping loose. Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Civil Society, Conservatism, Crime and Punishment, Culture, Current Events, Human Behavior, Media, The Press, USA | 36 Comments »

    It’s A Lot!

    Posted by Jonathan on August 5th, 2019 (All posts by )

    Allotalotsa

     

    Posted in Photos | 5 Comments »

    Worthwhile Reading

    Posted by David Foster on August 5th, 2019 (All posts by )

    Anthony Kronman, a professor of law at Yale, writes about how an obsessive focus by academia on ‘diversity’ (as that term is now used) is destructive of individuality and the search for truth.

    Victor Davis Hanson observes that the Robert Muller’s “dream team,” loaded with Ivy Leaguers, was expected to devastate Trump’s legal team, which had scarcely a Harvard man or woman in sight.

    Electricity problems in Sweden – looks like these are being driven by the closing of nuclear plants, the increased reliance upon wind, and the failure to build adequate transmission capacity to collect the wind turbines with the loads.

     

    Posted in Civil Society, Education, Energy & Power Generation, Environment, Law, Leftism | 20 Comments »

    Is this mass shooting linked to others ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on August 3rd, 2019 (All posts by )

    Today there was a mass shooting event today in El Paso Texas, in a Walmart.

    There is some evidence that the mass shooting took place in a “Gun Free Zone.” This is still being sorted out. I live in Arizona and have a CCW permit, but I usually do not carry a gun. I do have one in my car. I do see quite a few shops that do not allow guns inside.

    There is some evidence that that the shooter may be Hispanic, but the story resembles the New Zealand Shooter who attacked a mosque. In that case also there was a “manifesto” giving his motives.

    With both of these incidents with mass shootings, there is some resemblance to the incident in Norway where a “white supremacist” attacked children at a Socialist summer camp on an island.

    The Norwegian Police arrested Anders Behring Breivik, a 32-year-old Norwegian right-wing extremist,[25] on Utøya island[26] and charged him with both attacks.[27] His trial took place between 16 April and 22 June 2012 in Oslo District Court, where Breivik admitted carrying out the attacks, but denied criminal guilt and claimed the defense of necessity (jus necessitatis).[28] On 24 August, Breivik was convicted as charged and sentenced to 21 years of preventive detention in prison, the maximum sentence allowed in Norway. The sentence can be extended indefinitely as long as the prisoner is deemed a threat to society.

    What is going on here?

    Breivik is linked to a 1,518-page compendium entitled 2083: A European Declaration of Independence bearing the name “Andrew Berwick”.[31][32][151] The file was e-mailed to 1,003 addresses about 90 minutes before the bomb blast in Oslo.[152][153] Analysts described him as having Islamophobic views and a hatred of Islam,[154][155] and as someone who considered himself as a knight dedicated to stemming the tide of Muslim immigration into Europe.

    What about New Zealand?

    the posts suggest that every aspect of the shootings was designed to gain maximum attention online, in part by baiting the media. The shooter live-streamed the attack itself on Facebook, and the video was quickly shared across YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram. Before committing the act, he shouted, “Remember, lads, subscribe to PewDiePie,” a reference to Felix Kjellberg, who runs YouTube’s most subscribed-to channel. The phrase itself is a meme started by PewDiePie’s fans, and its goal is to be reprinted.\

    In both cases, the shooter surrendered and was not killed. Why? They seemed to want a public forum for their causes. The El Paso shooter also surrendered. We will see what the motive was.

     

    Posted in Society | 23 Comments »

    Summer Rerun — Book Review: Life in a Soviet Factory

    Posted by David Foster on August 3rd, 2019 (All posts by )

    Bitter Waters: Life And Work In Stalin’s Russia by Gennady Andreev-Khomiakov

    A fascinating look at the Soviet economic system in the 1930s, as viewed from the front lines of that system.

    Gennady Andreev-Khomiakov was released from a labor camp in 1935, and was fortunate to find a job as a book-keeper in a sawmill. When the factory manager, Grigory Neposedov (a pseudonym) was assigned to run a larger and more modern factory (also a sawmill), he took Gennady with him.

    Although he had almost no formal education, Neposedov was an excellent plant manager. As Gennady describes him:

    He was unable to move quietly. Skinny and short, he moved around the plant so quickly that he seemed to be running, not walking. Keeping pace with the director, the fat chief mechanic would be steeped in perspiration…He rarely sat in his office, and if he needed to sign some paper or other, you had to look for him in the mechanic’s office, in the shops, or in the basement under the shops, where the transmission belts and motors that powered the work stations were located…This enthusiasm of his, this ability to lose himself completely in a genuine creative exertion, to give his all selflessly, was contagious. It was impossible to be around Neposedov without being infected by his energy; he roused everyone, set them on fire. And if he did not succeed in shaking someone up, it could unmistakely be said that such a person was dead or a complete blob.

    With his enthusiasm and dedication to his factory, Neposedov comes across almost as a Soviet version of Hank Reardon (the steel mill owner in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged), with this difference–Nepodesov could throw himself as enthusiastically into bureaucratic manipulation as into his technical and leadership work. All of his skills would be needed to make this factory a success.

    Although the sawmill had modern equipment, it was producing at only a fraction of its design capacity. One of the problems was energy: the plant was powered by a 200HP steam engine, and whoever had built the place had spent almost all of the budget on other equipment, leaving very little for the boiler. The original boiler that came with the plant turned out to be useless, and was replaced with a salvaged boiler..this worked, but was not in good shape and produced only about half the steam needed to run the engine–and the plant–at full power.

    At this point in history, and in this particular corner of the Soviet economy, the amount that was available to be paid to workers was strongly related to the output of a plant. And workers at this sawmill were becoming increasingly desperate, on the point of actual starvation. Neposedov, aided by Gennady, pusued a three-part program of improvement: (1)fix the boiler, (2)improve the workflow (as we would now call it) within the plant, and (3)put in place an incentive system for the workers.

    New “pipes” for the boiler were somehow obtained (I think “pipes” in this context refers to boiler flues) and the workflow was continuously analyzed and improved. The most interesting part of the story, though, deals with the incentive program. The plant manager apparently had discretion to put such programs in place as long as he could pay for them out of increased output. (As the book describes it, there were extensive accounting systems in place throughout the Soviet economy–indeed, Lenin had once gone so far as to say “Socialism is accounting.” The accounting seems a bit similar to what you would find in a multidivisional American company with extensive intracompany transactions.) The incentive system that Gennady designed for this sawmill was based on very sharp pay increases for the workers when production exceeded target–so that, for example, you could double your pay by producing only 25% over target. (Actually, the plan paid collectively by group and by shift, rather than on an individual basis.)

    The incentive plan, together with the repaired steam boiler, resulted in very high production–140%, then 160% of target–and correspondingly high pay for the workers. Gennady had some nervous moments when he feared he had made a mistake in the calculations and the cost of the additional wages would exceed the amount generated by the new production….a mistake like this could easily have landed him back in Siberia, or worse. But it turned out that the new system was indeed sustainable.

    The local Communist Party leadership, while pleased with the increased production, was disturbed that the propaganda buzzwords of the day were not being implemented. “Socialist competition” was hot at the time, and the Party organizer insisted on competition at the individual worker levels, not just the group and shift level.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Big Government, Book Notes, Business, Economics & Finance, Leftism, Management, Russia | 4 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: If You Thought HRC’s “Deplorable” Comments Were Bad—Come Visit My Bailiwick: CONLAWPROF

    Posted by Jonathan on August 2nd, 2019 (All posts by )

    Seth quotes another law professor:

    I don’t know how many such voters [for Trump] there are, but even one is too many. They are nuts, and complicit in evil… (emphasis added)

    From the comments:

    “Vote for us you deplorable scum”
    Now that’s a bumper sticker that I want to see.

    The western Left, having gotten by for decades on slogans, ad hominem attacks and physical intimidation, is unable to make its case against an opponent who won’t be intimidated and who has mastered the Left’s own rhetorical tools. Center-Right voters have caught on, thus Trump. Center-Right pols are catching on slowly. Or so it seems. Don’t get cocky, as the man said.

     

    Posted in Academia, Civil Society, Leftism, Trump | 6 Comments »