The EU

Google says the EU requires a notice of cookie use (by Google) and says they have posted a notice. I don't see it. If cookies bother you, go elsewhere. If the EU bothers you, emigrate. If you live outside the EU, don't go there.

Monday, April 12, 2021

The Right to be Wrong

For John, BLUFWe are facing a crackdown on dissident views the Victorians or the Puritans would be proud of.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is the sub-headline:

Big Tech threatens to ban nonprofit for discussing alleged election fraud

From The Spectator US, by "Cockburn", 5 April 2021, 9:54 am.

Here is the lede plus one:

Over three-quarters of Republicans believe that there was widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election and about a third of all Americans believe that President Biden’s win was illegitimate.  When tens of millions of Americans lose faith in the system, that spells serious trouble for democracy.  A normal and healthy country would allow a fair and open debate about whether or not fraud occurred, and, if so, how much fraud and what evidence exists to back up these claims.  Instead, Big Tech platforms have repeatedly censored any mention of voter fraud at all.

Such was the case late last week when YouTube and Vimeo pulled a video interview with Trump lawyer John Eastman.  Cockburn’s colleague and The Spectator‘s Washington editor, Amber Athey, is a fellow at the Steamboat Institute and was invited to conduct the interview with Eastman at an event in Colorado.  The event was called, ‘What Really Happened?  An Insider’s Perspective on Representing the President and Claims of Election Fraud.’

Information does want to be free, but Big Tech is going to try to stifle it.  Thus the old fashioned sin of gossip will still flourish in the age of electronics.  Unless we go to a totalitarian regime, where all fear being reported to "the authorities" by friends and relatives, people will exchange information on the side.  It is slower that the Main Stream Media, but works as well.  It is what fueled the exchange of ideas in pre-Revolutionary War America.  Even in the Soviet Union there was the Samizdat Press.

However, today we do face the practice of Social Credit, as practiced in China.  To quote Wikipedia,

The social credit initiative calls for the establishments of unified record system for individuals, businesses and the government to be tracked and evaluated for trustworthiness.  Initial reports suggested that the system utilized numerical score as the reward and punishment mechanism; recent reports suggest there are in fact multiple, different forms of the social credit system being experimented with.  Numerical system has been implemented only in several regional pilot programs, while the nationwide regulatory method has been based primarily on blacklisting and whitelisting.  The credit system is closely related to China's mass surveillance systems such as Skynet, which incorporates facial recognition system, big data analysis technology, AI and Project Maven.
But, back in the United States, we are doing a cancel culture thing, where one is considered PNG (persona non grata) for holding the wrong views.  Thus Big Tech censoring certain produced materials.  Until we rebuild a concensus that information needs to be free, so that approaches to problems can be democratically determined, we will have censorship,  Until we learn to tolerate the views of others we will not be a Democracy in the best sense of the world.  We need to learn that people have the right to be wrong.  They don't have the right to impose their wrong thinking on others, but they have the right to hold wrong views.

Hat tip to my Wife.

Regards  —  Cliff

Saturday, April 10, 2021

"Updating" the Supreme Court

For John, BLUFSo much for knowing what is going on in our Nation's Capitol, with slight of hand being done hither and yon.  This is trying to change the Supreme Court in order to ensure that legislation, heretofor considered of questionable Constitutionality, will be allowed to pass muster.  Nothing new here.  President Franklin Roosevelt tried it back in 1937.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The Hill, by Reporters Morgan Chalfant and John Kruzel, 9 April 2021, 11:33 AM EDT, via Not the Bee.

Here is the lede plus three:

President Biden signed an executive order Friday establishing a commission to study whether to add seats to the Supreme Court and other reform proposals, the White House announced, fulfilling a promise he made on the campaign trail.

The commission will be chaired by former White House counsel Bob Bauer and Cristina Rodríguez, a Yale law school professor and former deputy assistant attorney general, and largely consists of academics and former officials from across the political spectrum.

It will delve into the issue of potentially expanding the court — an idea that has been floated by some progressives but heavily criticized by Republicans — and which Biden himself has been cool to, though without explicitly ruling out the option.

“The Commission’s purpose is to provide an analysis of the principal arguments in the contemporary public debate for and against Supreme Court reform, including an appraisal of the merits and legality of particular reform proposals,” the White House said in a release. “The topics it will examine include the genesis of the reform debate; the Court’s role in the Constitutional system; the length of service and turnover of justices on the Court; the membership and size of the Court; and the Court’s case selection, rules, and practices.”

So, here we go, off on a project to "pack" the US Supreme Court.  I frankly take this as one more effort to undo whatever the President Donald J Trump Administration has done.  And to find a way to slip it past the Congress and the People.

And when I say slip it by I mean just that.  Look at Candidate Biden back in October of last year.

Here are the first seven (short) paragraphs of the article: From The New York Post, By Reporter Mary Kay Linge, 10 October 2020, 1:22pm.

Voters don’t “deserve” to know Joe Biden’s stance on packing the Supreme Court, the Democratic nominee said this week.

In a prickly interview with a Las Vegas news station Friday, the Biden doubled down on his refusal to say whether he supports expanding the highest court in the land to more than nine justices.

“This is the number one thing that I’ve been asked about from viewers in the last couple of days,” began KTNV’s Ross DiMattei.

“Well, you’ve been asked by the viewers who are probably Republicans,” Biden sarcastically responded.

“Don’t the voters deserve to know where you stand on …” DiMattei continued.

“No, they don’t deserve,” Biden snapped. “I’m not going to play his game.”

So, while running for President, then Vice President Joe Biden took the position that there were certain things the voters don't deserve to know.  I wonder what other positions of Candidate Joe Biden the voters didn't deserve to know?

This kind of thinking makes elections like buying a pig in a poke.  Which is a way of saying not totally free and open.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Pitchers Cheating

For John, BLUFThe question right now is if Professional Baseball has its eye on one pitcher in particular.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From Ethics Alarms, by Mr Jack Marshall, 10 April 2021.

Here is the lede plus three:

This developing ethics story comes out of baseball, and if you skip the baseball ethics stories, this one shows why that is a mistake.  The erstwhile National Pastime is certainly off to a flying start this season in ethics controversies, what with the game’s bone-headed decision to get involved in race-baiting politics seeded by Joe Biden and Stacey Abrams.  This new controversy has the advantage of actually being about the game on the field.  It also has a marvelous jumble of factors, real and hinted:  history, tradition, real rules, unwritten ruled, rationalizations, hypocrisy, persecution, tarnished heroes, and maybe revenge.

Trevor Bauer is a pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers whose fame, reputation and salary ($34 million a year for three years) are out of proportion to his record, which stood at 75-64 as this season dawns.  At 30, this is roughly the equivalent of the success achieved by such immortals as Chris Young, Ben McDonald, and Chuck Dobson, mediocrities all.  But Bauer is 1) unusually articulate 2) a social media master, and 3) had his best two seasons, including winning a Cy Young Award in last year’s shortened, pseudo-season, just as he was nearing free agency.  Many players and his primary team in his career, the Cleveland Indians, don’t like Bauer, and not just because opinionated players are never popular with management.  He once knocked himself out a crucial post-season start by cutting a pitching hand finger playing with a drone (he loves drones).  In 2019, after allowing seven runs, Bauer threw a baseball over the centerfield wall, after seeing his manager Terry Francona come out of the dugout to remove him from the game.  Bauer apologized profusely, but it was the final straw, and the Indians traded him.

Bauer, among other opinions, has been among the most vocal critics (and one of the few player critics) of the Houston Astros in particular (see here), and cheating in baseball generally.

After the 1919 Black Sox Scandal, baseball cracked down on pitchers doctoring the ball with foreign substances or by marring the surface to make it do tricks.  Nonetheless, that many pitchers continued to try to slip spit, or Vaseline, or slippery elm, or pine tar onto the ball has been assumed, indeed known, ever since.  This year, as part of the game trying to cut down on strike-outs which have reached boring levels (baseball is more entertaining the more the ball is put in play), MLB announced that umpires would be checking the balls more carefully and regularly to ensure that the rule against doctoring the ball wasn’t being violated.  Lo and Behold, the first pitcher to have his thrown baseballs collected for inspection based on suspicion of doctoring was…Trevor Bauer!

While I have liked watching Baseball and cherished it as being as American as Apple Pie and Motherhood, it has seemed to be getting a little too big for its britches, but nowhere near the NBA or American Football.  Then came the hypocrisy and boot licking surrounding the All Star game.  If only the Commissioner had resigned from Agusta.  Alas, no.

A pitching scandal would just be icing on the cake.  It would not divert attention, but focus it.  And it would be sad.

Regards  —  Cliff

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Narrow Minds

For John, BLUFThose pushing "White Supremacy" as the key to unlocking the secrets of society have a narrow view of society and of history.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The American Conservative, by Commentator Rod Dreher, 8 April 2021, 7:51 PM.

Here is the lede plus one:

Writing at Yahoo! News, Prof. Jennifer Ho, president of the Association of Asian American Studies and a faculty member at the University of Colorado Boulder, would like you to know that when black people attack Asians, it’s really white people’s fault:
The point I’ve made through all of those experiences is that anti-Asian racism has the same source as anti-Black racism: white supremacy.  So when a Black person attacks an Asian person, the encounter is fueled perhaps by racism, but very specifically by white supremacy.  White supremacy does not require a white person to perpetuate it.
This makes everything the fault of Caucasian males of European origin.  That they represent a culture is not relevant.  It is the wrong culture.  However, it is a serious question to ask, if Admiral Zheng He had sailed East, rather than West, in 1405, would the West still be the wrong culture, or would it be an oppressed minority under the colonial thumb of another culture?

Later in the article is this summation of the state of academia.

This is what totalitarians do: they destroy the cultural memories of a people in order to make them easier to control.  It is gobsmacking that the gatekeepers and guardians of educational institutions are capitulating in the destruction of the institutions they have been charged with defending.

Why would anyone want to go into academics today?  Serious question.  I keep saying it over and over, and maybe somebody will believe me and act:  all those who want to save the humanities in this Dark Age had better stop trying to shore up this rotten imperium, and instead start building the equivalent of early medieval monasteries:  communities within which knowledge and traditional academic practices can survive this barbarian epoch.  I’m not exaggerating.  It’s that serious.

Perhaps, as we broaden our knowledge of other cultures, and of world history, we will come to appreciate what contributions Western Cukture has made.

Perhaps we will come to realize the Declaration of independence promised more than mere mortals could deliver all at once, but that it was a framework for overcoming our own narrow views and for making it a better world.

Regards  —  Cliff

Faux Pas

For John, BLUFTurkey sometimes wants to be part of Europe, and sometimes not.  Its great city of Istambul is in Europe, as is Turkish Thrace.  But, much of it is in Asia, including its Capitol, Ankara.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The Boston Globe, by New York Times Reporters Matina Stevis-Gridneff and Carlotta Gall, 7 April 2021, 5:25 PM.

Here is the lede plus two:

If diplomacy is part theater, acted out on meticulously crafted sets, then a protocol blunder this week turned a top-level visit by European Union leaders to Turkey into high drama.

Whether by design or by oversight, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Union’s executive arm, was left awkwardly standing as her colleague Charles Michel, the president of the council representing the bloc’s 27 members, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey took the only two available seats between the EU and Turkish flags.

“Uhm …” von der Leyen was heard saying in a video as she stood, lingering, in the grand room in the Turkish presidential palace Tuesday while Michel and Erdogan settled in their gilded seats, perfectly centered for a photo op.

To be clear, this was in Ankara, Turkey, not Brussels, Belgium.

The article goes on to explain that Turkey is looking to revive its bid to join the European Union, something which had once been a slow journey forever, slowed, wrongly, by the Europeans early on, when Turkey becoming part or the European Union might have made a difference.  But, no, the members weren't having it.  Now we see a more autocratic Turkey, again pushing for entry to the EU.

I used to be supportive, but now I am one of those hesitating.

Keep in mind that current Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, quipped, while Mayor of Istanbul, “Democracy is like a tram.  You ride it until you arrive at your destination, then you step off.”

Regards  —  Cliff

  For one thing, European folks hadn't gotten over 1453 AD and the fall of Constantinople, or the more recent Treaty of Lausanne, on 24 July 1923, which resulted in a population exchange, or the turmoil in the Balkins.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Income Inequality in the US

For John, BLUFWe have been told we are seeing great income inequality, but when all factors are considered, it isn't so.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

In which The Tax Prof introduces the concept of GINI Coefficient.

The Gini coefficient is a single number aimed at measuring the degree of inequality in a distribution. It is most often used in economics to measure how far a country's wealth or income distribution deviates from a totally equal distribution.

The Gini coefficient measures the inequality among values of a frequency distribution (for example, levels of income).  A Gini coefficient of zero expresses perfect equality, where all values are the same (for example, where everyone has the same income).  A Gini coefficient of one (or 100%) expresses maximal inequality among values (e.g., for a large number of people where only one person has all the income or consumption and all others have none, the Gini coefficient will be nearly one).

For larger groups, values close to one are unlikely.  Given the normalization of both the cumulative population and the cumulative share of income used to calculate the Gini coefficient, the measure is not overly sensitive to the specifics of the income distribution, but rather only on how incomes vary relative to the other members of a population.

From The Tax Prof Blog, by Professor Paul Caron, 1 April 2021.

Here is an except from a Wall Street Journal op-ed:  "Incredible Shrinking Income Inequality," by Mezsers Phil Gramm and John Early:

We can now show that if you count all government transfers (minus administrative costs) as income to the recipient household, reduce household income by taxes paid, and correct for two major discontinuities in the time-series data on income inequality that were caused solely by changes in Census Bureau data-collection methods, the claim that income inequality is growing on a secular basis collapses.  Not only is income inequality in America not growing, it is lower today than it was 50 years ago. ...
And here is the ultimate paragraph:
The raging debate over income inequality in America calls to mind the old Will Rogers adage: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble.  It is what you do know that ain’t so.”  We are debating the alleged injustice of a supposedly growing social problem when—for all the reasons outlined above—that problem isn’t growing, it’s shrinking.  Those who want to transform the greatest economic system in the history of the world ought to get their facts straight first.
Will Rogers, the Roping Fool.  A very smart man.

But, we need to be careful of people selling the idea of income inequality.  There is some, but not as much as some are bleating.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Named after the Italian statistician and sociologist, Corrado Gini.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Snacks of Our Youth

For John, BLUFNow, for important news.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the InstaPundit, by Blogger Gail Heriot, 6 April 2021, 0600.

Here is the Blog Post:

IT’S HISTORIC:  On this day in 1930, the Twinkie was invented by bakery manager James Dewar in Schiller Park, Illinois.  As is so often the case, capacity was the mother of invention.  The machinery for making cream-filled strawberry shortcake was unused when strawberries were out of season.  Twinkies (which were originally banana cream filled) were the off-season solution.
And an excellent solution it was.

And where is Schiller Park?  It is just off the Southeast edge of O'Hare Airport, in Chicago.

As a trivia sidelight, in the Air Force General Officers, not to their face, are sometimes referred to by their number of stars, followed by "Twinkie", as in a Lieutenant General being referred to as a Three Twinkie.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff