Friday, June 9, 2017

a regulation beclowning

At one David Lumb beclowns :
In March, the FAA noted that over 100,000 hobby drone owners had registered their machines since the year began, bringing the total in the US over 770,000. Owners have filed their non-commercial UAVs with the agency ever since the DoT passed a law in December 2015 that made registration mandatory. But a Washington, D.C. court has struck down that legislation, freeing just-for-fun drone owners from notifying the government of their purchases -- for good and ill.

The Department of Transportation passes laws! One can argue that a regulation can have the force of law but the difference between the two is significant and important.  Unelected bureaucrats "passing laws" maybe somewhat accurate but that isn't how the system is supposed to be.

Imagine a cop directing traffic. He holds out his hand to signal the traffic from the side street to stop and waves in the other direction for traffic to start. Imaginary David Lumb, on the sidewalk, then announces that "the cop has passed a law mandating the flow of traffic! Who knows what other vast power over mere men that cop has."

The FCC is a fine example of unelected bureaucrats transforming an arm of the government into something beyond it's purview. Previous to FDR, the FCC (and its predecessor the FRC) was mostly about the technical aspects of radio : are the licensee staying in their frequency? what is their allowable broadcasting power? are the paying their license fee?  In the 1936 election over 90% of newspapers opposed FDR and in retaliation he propagated regulation to prevent newspapers from owning radio stations. The president made his priority clear with a single sentence memo sent to the FCC chairman : "Will you let me know when you propose to have a hearing on newspaper ownership of radio stations."

In addition, they introduced the fairness doctrine and its predecessor the Mayflower Doctrine.  In 1939 the FCC ruled against John Sheppard and the Yankee Network stating that "The licensee has assumed the obligation of presenting all sides of important public questions, fairly, objectively and without bias" (from the book American Broadcasting and the First Amendment by Lucas A. Powe, jr, 1987 p110)  The FCC took it upon itself to decide what is and is not a "important public question" and if it is presented fairly.  Sheppard kept his broadcasting license by promising to never editorialize.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Rooster helmet

I bet I can guess the nickname of the guy who owned this. Everybody would yell at him "Hey! Cockface!"

Sunday, April 9, 2017

They're not egalitarians : Kate Jenkins of the Australian Human Rights Commission

Via JF Beck;  The Australian Human Rights Commission's Kate Jenkins considers the World Economic Forum's Gender Gap report (pdf) to be a quality source :
In the World Economic Forum’s 2016 Gender Gap Report, Australia ranked number one for educational attainment. Yet that same report ranked Australia 46th for overall gender equality due to low levels of economic participation and political empowerment.
Incorrect assumptions are being made about the progress of gender equality both in Australia and internationally. 

While the WEF Gender Gap Report (pdf) claims to be interested in the question of whether countries "educate women and men in equal numbers" note that women in Australia (p90) are over represented in tertiary education with a score of 102 for women to 72 for men but they redefine what looks to regular people like a gender gap as "equality."

WEF Gender Gap report Education in Australia
Equality, apparently, means when one side does better than the other.

With regards to political empowerment the Gender Gap report has 3 criteria : Women in parliament, Women in ministerial positions, and Years with female head of state (over the last 50 years).  At first, I thought they were under the impression that Queen Elizabeth was a dude. It turns out that by head of state they mean PM and not the Queen or Governor General. Second they are criticizing the choices women make to run or not and who women vote for. Third, you can get a grasp of the Gender Gap's line of thinking by noting the other data points they include : "Quota for women on candidate lists in national elections, Quota for women on candidate lists in local elections, Voluntary political party quotas."

Australia women voting for the wrong sex and women choosing not to run in elections causes gender gaps.

Australia ranking 2 places below Mauritania in the political empowerment category is shameful.  Mauritania has a President that became president after leading a coup (and it wasn't the first coup he had participated in), press restrictions, female genital mutilation, child marriage, a legal system that can result in rape victims being arrested for adultery, laws mandating islam as the religion of the state and all citizens so converting to another religion leads to a loss of citizenship, apostasy is also a death penalty crime and chattel slavery. If they're losing in a comparison with Mauritania then Australia must be a real hell hole for women. 

WEF Gender Gap report political empowerment ranking to Mauritania over Australia
Political Empowerment rankings (p13) Mauritania has quotas for women on candidate lists in national elections so that makes Mauritanian women more politically empowered than women in Australia despite the chattel slavery, dictatorship, female genital mutilation 

The economic participation is covered by the now old wage gap discussions (education, experience, hours worked etc).  But  I will note that legislators are counted in both the "economic participation" category and counted again in the "political empowerment" category. Burundi is ranked as #1 in the economic participation category; possibly due to their poverty causing the necessity of women to work.

WEF Gender Gap report Economic participation in Australia

Kate of the AHRC didn't mention the WEF's 4th category : health. The WEF notes the Australian life expectancy is 74 for woman and only 71 for men which everyone can see is a gender gap. But to the WEF Gender Gap Report it is women falling behind because they have redefined "equality" as women living 6% longer than men. Consequently, Australian Life expectancy is ranked at 87th place dragging down their overall score.

WEF Gender Gap report Health in Australia
Equality, apparently, means one side doing better than the other by at least 6%

In fact, the country listed at the very top of the 2016 Gender Gap Report Table C11: Healthy life expectancy (p55) isn't the country where men & women's health is most equal but the country with the biggest gap in life expectancy on the entire list : Russia (66 years for women and 55 for men). These are not rigorous egalitarians.

Someone should ask Kate Jenkins if the Australian Human Rights Commission shares the Gender Gap Report's views that "equality" requires men to die years before women and if she thinks quotas in a slave owning dictatorship means more political empowerment than Australia's system.

(previous reports on the Gender Gap Report can be found under the Phony Egalitarianism tag)

Update May 19, 2017 : On the first of May, I twittered in the general direction of Kate Jenkins citing the WEF Gender Gap report claim that equality of life expectancy should be a 1:1.06 ratio and asking :
@Kate_Jenkins_ You cite the WEF Gender Gap report; you agree with them that men must die years before women for there to be equality?
But no response. Related :

Kate Jenkins and her crazy eyes wearing her "Wen you laugh togetha cos you know ur gonna smash the patriarchy" shirt.
Kate Jenkins (right) in her poorly spelled smash the patriarchy shirt

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Art as a Creative Endeavor : Andy Warhol's Prince

Seen here

photograph of Prince, 1981 by Lynn Goldsmith
(I couldn't find a clean copy of the photo –this one is close –so this is taken from the lawsuit against the photographer by the Andy Warhol Foundation hence the oval around the eyes)

Prince by Andy Warhol, 1984

animated gif below the fold

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Ici Repose

I wasn't aware that "ici repose" was french for "here rests" Up until recently I assumed it was meant what it sounded like : Dead in the ground lying in icy cold repose.


Some typos are expected but there certain institutions that encountering a typo is as unexpected as a sudden bucket of cold dumped over you.

As seen at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts :

Monday, February 27, 2017

Roman Breast Plate

from the movie Gladiator (2000)

breasts breast plate

Saturday, February 25, 2017

I pretty much called it

Way back on the 3rd of May, 2015 there was an attack on the First Annual Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest held in Garland, Texas. The response to the attack included the Washington Post headline "Event organizer offers no apology after thwarted attack in Texas." Expecting the victim of an attempted mass murder if they'll apologize for being attacked isn't standard. In fact, I wonder how many people who only read the headline would assume the event organizer played some kind of role in the attack other than as the victim.

 Paco of Paco Enterprises in response :
I am trying to imagine the coming American "utopia", where everyone will be compelled to publicly accept the moral neutrality of homosexual acts, traditional Christian teachings on the subject will be excluded from the the marketplace of ideas, but an enormous cultural carve-out will be made for Muslim sensibilities. If Islamist radicals shoot up a gay pride parade, will the incident simply be considered a moral wash, or will gays actually be expected to apologize for provoking their assailants?

my response was this :
I think I would put money on this : the journolisters won't mention any particular religion and blame the "conservative" shooters while gays will be victims of hate/overheated rhetoric and muslims will be said to fear that perpetually mentioned backlash.

Fast forward to June 12, 2016 and the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando Florida occurs leaving 49 victims dead and dozens injured.  This mass murder was perpetrated by Omar Mateen an Islamist radical who had said "real muslims will never accept the filthy ways of the west ... taste the Islamic state [sic] vengeance." The NYTimes coverage included this editorial :
While the precise motivation for the rampage remains unclear, it is evident that Mr. Mateen was driven by hatred toward gays and lesbians. Hate crimes don’t happen in a vacuum. They occur where bigotry is allowed to fester, where minorities are vilified and where people are scapegoated for political gain. Tragically, this is the state of American politics, driven too often by Republican politicians who see prejudice as something to exploit, not extinguish. 
Throughout the editorial there is no mention of Islam or the potential of Islamic culture,  or ISIS or Islamic texts' position on gays to influence Mateen.

Now I admit that the editorial doesn't include anything about a backlash like I predicted but the New York Times doesn't let me down. After the shooting they published an article headlined "A Muslim Community in Virginia Feels the Heat of Extremists’ Sins" and includes a quote from an imam "We’re fearful of a backlash."

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Correction for Tim Blair

Angela Davis (right) shaking hands and smiling with leader of East Germany Erich Honecker proponent of the Berlin Wall, the Inner German Border and the idea of shooting people trying to exit East Germany

Tim Blair writes :
Also, it’s the first resistance movement anywhere that actually opposes guns.
"The next 1,459 days of the Trump administration will be 1,459 days of resistance: Resistance on the ground, resistance in the classrooms, resistance on the job, resistance in our art and in our music." – Veteran US civil rights activist Angela Davis, who is free to say whatever she wants without fear of incarceration.

I don't think Angela Davis is opposed to guns, at least not opposed to guns for people on her side. Four guns owned by her were used to take hostages in a courtroom in an attempt by her boyfriend's brother to free her boyfriend from prison.

In 1970, fired UCLA professor Angela Davis considered a prison inmate named George Jackson to be her "lifetime" husband, though they were never legally married. George Jackson was a Black Panther and in a subset of the Black Panthers called the Soledad Brothers. A plan was hatched to get Jackson out of prison by kidnapping persons during the trial of another Black Panther named James McClain. Those to be held hostage - including the judge, deputy district attorney, and jurors - would be traded for Jackson's freedom. McClain was being tried in the Marin County Hall of Justice. Judge Haley was presiding over the trial of McClain who was accused of stabbing a prison guard while serving a sentence for burglary.[10]
The person chosen to effectuate the kidnapping was George's younger brother Jonathan. In the week preceding the kidnapping, Angela Davis and Jonathan Jackson spent much time together, visiting George, buying things, and cashing checks. In the days before the kidnapping, Davis and Jonathan Jackson drove to Mexico, Santa Cruz, Oakland, San Jose, San Francisco, and San Rafael. Two days before the kidnapping, Davis and Jonathan Jackson bought a shotgun from a pawn shop in San Francisco. After Davis paid for the shotgun, the barrel of the shotgun was sawed off so as to be concealable.[11]
Angela Davis looking endearingly at Fidel Castro (who seized power and kept power with guns)

Angela Davis was also a Communist Party USA leader and the Communist Party USA Vice Presidential candidate in 1980/1984. I haven't seen her explicit views at the time but the CPUSA had a reputation for following the USSR's party line. Gus Hall, the Chairman of the CPUSA and her running mate in 1980 & 1984, defended the Soviet war in Afghanistan.

In her book "Women, Race and Class" (1981) she writes a chapter titled" Rape, Racism and the Myth of the Black Rapist" where she mentions "In the history of the United States, the fraudulent rape charge stands out as one of the most formidable artifices invented by racism." I wonder what response a sign warning that some women lie about rape would have gotten at the Women's March?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Robert Reich : Tyranny Detective

Tyrant Detective Robert Reich always gets his tyrant; mostly because he lowers the bar so everyone qualifies.

Robert Reich, has come up with a little video where he explains 
"Historically, tyrants have tried to control the press using 4 techniques that, worryingly, Donald Trump is already using."
1. Berate the media and turn the public against it. Trump refers to journalists as “dishonest,” “disgusting” and “scum.” When Trump lies—claiming, for example, “massive voter fraud” in the election, and that he “won in a landslide”—and the media call him on those lies, Trump claims the media is lying. Even televised satires he labels “unfunny, one-sided, and pathetic.” 
2. Limit media access. Trump hasn’t had a news conference since July. (His two predecessors had news conferences within days of being declared president.) He’s blocked the media from traveling with him, and even from knowing with whom he’s meeting. His phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which occurred shortly after the election, was first reported by the Kremlin. 
3. Threaten the media. During the campaign, Trump threatened to sue the New York Times for libel in response to an article about two women who accused him of touching them inappropriately years ago, and then another that revealed part of his 1995 tax returns. He says he plans to “open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.” 
4. Bypass the media and communicate with the public directly. Trump tweets incessantly, issues videos, and holds large rallies—all of which further enable him to lie directly to the public with impunity. The word “media” comes from “intermediate” between the powerful and the public. The media hold the powerful accountable by correcting their misstatements, asking them hard questions, and reporting on what they do. Apparently Trump wants to eliminate such intermediaries. 
Historically, these 4 techniques have been used by demagogues to erode the freedom and independence of the press. Donald Trump seems intent on doing exactly this.

Let's look at his 4 criteria and see of Robert Reich thinks Obama is a tyrant: 
1) berate the media - The Obama admin called Fox News illegitimate. I recall Obama on the Daily Show bashing the media for being focused on shiny objects. (as an aside, why should the media be free from criticism? They often truly deserve it.) I'm not sure if he ever committed the unforgivable sin (and the hallmark of all the worst tyrants) of calling a televised satire "unfunny." 

2) Limit media access - Obama kicked some reporters from less fawning newspapers off his plane during the campaign while claiming a lack of room. There wasn't room on the plane for a NY Post reporter but Glamour magazine? Sure. The Obama admin tried to exclude Fox from pool interviews and when the other news orgs balked everyone's interview time was reduced (see link above). Obama's EPA head Lisa Jackson used the nom-de-plume "Richard Windsor" to evade FOIA requests.

3) Threaten the media.  The Obama admin referred to reporter James Rosen as a co-conspirator to get a warrant to monitor his email over time because he had written an article based on a source in the State Dept. and then they tried to keep the warrant a secret. Note the selective prosecution of leaks. Obama's appointment Ann Ravel of the FEC wants posting of a video to youtube with a political point of view to be subject to FEC regulations. Obama has said the Citizen's United case was wrongly decided. Keep in mind that when asked "It's a 500-page book, and at the end it says, so vote for X, the government could ban that?" the response from the Obama administration was "Yes"

4) Bypass the media and communicate directly with the public. Yeah Obama has held rallys, TV speeches, radio addresses, TV infomercials * and posted to twitter.

Following is my attempt at being a tyrant in a single sentence :
Because some reporters are awful, lying incompetent hacks (#1 berate the media) I think the law should be changed by Congress so there should be one standard for libel for everyone instead of a separate standard for a "public figure" (#3 Threaten the media) and I'm going to exercise my free speech rights to post this on my blog (#4 Bypass the media and communicate directly with the public) but I will refuse to do a press conference (#2 Limit media access).

(I'd like to point out that while I support having a single standard for libel I am opposed to changing the standard to where the defendant has to prove something is true instead of the complainant having to prove the truth is on their side. I think the value of free speech tends to outweigh the burden of having to present the truth. Also there is the very real idea that something can be true without having proof right at hand. Technically, this puts me at odds with the UK and France where the defendant has to offer proof that what the published is true. Does this mean they are as big a tyrant as me?

* at the TV infomercial link above to the NY Times is headlined "Infomercial for Obama Is Big Success in Ratings" and, while I could have sworn the NYT was interested in the corrosive effect of money in politics, there is absolutely zero mention of it – not even a mention of how much was spent.

Update Feb 10, 2017 : I forgot this important evidence as to why Reich thinks Obama is a tyrant. Back in 2008, during the campaign, a reporter was asking him a question and he responded with "Why Can't I Just Eat My Waffle?"  (#2 limiting media access)

Monday, January 23, 2017

Bad graph : Requiem for the American Dream (2015)

A Bad Graph from the movie Requiem for the American Dream (2016) at about 42 minutes in

the graph is labeled at left  "% of total tax revenue"

Noam Chomsky : During the period of great growth of the economy the 50s and the 60s, but in fact earlier, taxes on the wealthy were far higher. Corporate taxes were much higher, taxes on dividends were much higher, simply taxes on wealth were much higher. The tax system has been redesigned , so that the taxes that are paid by the very wealthy are reduced and correspondingly, the tax burden on the rest of the population is increased.

My first thought was that "% of total tax revenue" meant the percentage of all Federal tax revenue – which seemed like an odd measure. My second thought was that graph sure doesn't show much in way of business cycles. That would be because they labeled it "% of total tax revenue" instead of the less ambiguous "tax rate." It turns out that the tax rate on "dividends were much higher" but the "taxes that are paid by the very wealthy are" increased and, contrary to Chomsky, not "reduced."

graph showing capital gains tax rate and the inflation adjusted revenue

towards the end

The tendencies we've been describing within American society; unless they are reversed, it's going to be an extremely ugly society. It's a society based on Adam Smith's vile maxim: all for myself, nothing for anyone else. A society in which normal human instincts and emotions of sympathy and solidarity and mutual support are driven out. That's a society so ugly I don't know who would want to live in it. I wouldn't want my children to. 
If only Adam Smith had some sort of Theory of Moral Sentiments. Of course, "all for myself, nothing for anyone else," was described by Adam Smith as a "vile maxim" and was not his vile maxim.