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To Accompany the January 17, 2017 edition of Tidbits
Bob Jensen at Trinity University
Sometimes the grass is greener on
the other side because it's been fertilized with more bullshit.
Shoot for the space in between,
because that's where the real mystery lies.
Only those who
will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.
It's hard to beat a person who never gives up.
Historic Home Run Hitter
What's sad is to witness what Syria has become because nobody will give up.
Why, we grow rusty and you
catch us at the very point of decadence --- by this time tomorrow we may have
forgotten everything we ever knew. That's a thought isn't it? We'd be back to
where we started --- improvising.
Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (Act I)
And "because they're nonstate actors, it's
hard for us to get the satisfaction of [Gen.] MacArthur and the [Japanese]
Emperor [Hirohito] meeting and the war officially being over," Obama observed,
referencing the end of World War II.
President Barack Obama when asked if the USA of the future will be perpetually engaged in war.
Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.
Even conversations that are not politically correct.
We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life
that is waiting for us.
If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.
George S. Patton
Why were nearly all poll statisticians thinking alike in 2016?
If you don't know
where you're going, you might not get there.
Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude
you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly
on your shoulder.
Henry David Thoreau
Economists are the idiot savants of our time.
John Stuart Mill
Inspiring Insights from 50 TED Talks ---
The one I disagree with the most is that "You can learn almost anything in less than a day".
I would instead argue that you can't really learn most anything worth knowing in a lifetime.
Knowledge is analog, not digital.
Obama's Exit Memo to America ---
America is better off, in my opinion, for having had President Obama in office for eight years. The Democratic Party is not so fortunate having lost 1,000 legislative seats in the 50 states and Washington DC during his two terms in office, although not all of that loss can be attributed to his leadership. It really hurt the Democratic Party to lose both control of both the House and the Senate during his tenure in office. He set the gold standard on communicating before audiences. His record of compromise and working with other government leaders is not as great. Exhibit A is the revolving door of his Cabinet as evidenced, in part, by public criticisms of two of Obama's former Secretaries of Defense. A tribute to America is the two-time election of a black President and the margin of his victories in running against popular competitors like war hero John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney. A tradition in the USA is to be highly critical of current and former Presidents. President Obama left the voting public and the Congress far more divided than an most any time in recent history.
Michele Obama's Farewell Speech ---
Trump's national security pick Monica Crowley
plagiarized over 50 sections of her 2012 book ---
Bob Jensen's threads on celebrities who plagiarize ---
Truly poor people rarely mictrate to rich
countries. Instead they go to other poor countires --- in huge numbers ---
"The Beautiful South," The Economist Magazine, January 6, 2017, Page 83
We will fight back against attacks on Latinos,
African-Americans, Muslims, immigrants, women, and LGBT Americans. Our diversity
is what makes our country strong – and on this, there will be NO compromise.
Senator Elizabeth Warren welcomes Donald Trump to Washington DC
France "Independence" Means Closer to Russia ---
Climate Change is Going to Be Very Bad for the
Global Economy ---
Tom Sowell's Last Column
Some of Tom's best quotes
Socialism in general has
a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade
The next time some
academics tell you how important diversity is, ask how many Republicans there
are in their sociology department.
Password Was 'Password' ---
The US intelligence report on
Russian hacking directly implicates WikiLeaks ---
Children in Progressive-Era
The story going around
was that Las Vegas is now completely powered by renewable energy is fake news
Talladega College Says Band Will March in Trump's Inaugural Parade. Hell would
freeze over before the academically elitist University of Michigan Band
would march for the inaugural ---
Sewer by the Bay: San Francisco Grapples
With Street Feces and Rising Crime ---
Scientists continue to
disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the
actions of mankind ---
Ex-Chicago top cop blames
city’s spike in violence on politicians ---
Conservative provocateur Milo
Yiannopoulos' book rose to the top spot on the Amazon best-seller list on
Friday, about 24 hours after it was announced ---
Retaliates Against Russia: But what to make of the sanctions? ---
Democracy: Neil Gaiman’s
Transcendent Animated Tribute to Leonard Cohen, with Piano by Amanda Palmer ---
Economist Magazine: A
Reflection Upon Barach Obama's Presidency ---
The DNC Race Has Become Another
Fight Over Bernie Sanders When the Dems Need it the Least ---
The boss of one of the largest
accounting firms in the world says his biggest concern for Europe isn't Brexit
Washington Post Corrects Story of
Russian Hack of Vermont Utility ---
Nor does Russian code in a hack ipso facto make it a Russian hack. The Chinese and terrorists sometimes know how to code in Russian.
Can you imagine the NYT ever being critical of Senator Elizabeth Warren?
New York Times: Elizabeth Warren, Media Mischaracterize I.R.C. § 1043 As Tax Boondoggle For Trump Appointees ---
All I want for Christmas
is white genocide
Tweet from a Drexel University professor.
Drexel defends this as "protected speech." But one as to wonder if Drexel would've come to this professor's defense if the word "white" had instead been "black" or "Jewish" or "Islamic"
First it was motorcycle helmuts; Now it's self-driving
Self-driving cars will make organ donations a lot more scarce ---
How great was the Great Society?
The Real Pocahontas ---
"Martin Luther had a mug around which were three
rings,” wrote Mr. Bainton. “The first he said represented the Ten Commandments,
the second the Apostle’s Creed, and the third the Lord’s Prayer. Luther was
highly amused that he was able to drain the glass of wine through the Lord’s
Prayer, whereas his friend Agricola could not get beyond the Ten Commandments."
How Media Fuels Terrorism
Toyota's hydrogen-powered car
wants to be the alternative to plug-ins, but there's one major drawback ---
Hydrogen-powered buses and trains (like the one in Germany) have a better chance than cars in the early years.
KPMG is one of the world's biggest accounting firms and its clients, which include some of the world's largest banks and financial institutions, are of course worried about Brexit — but the global chairman of KPMG says this is not his main concern.
John Veihmeyer told Business Insider that the rise of populism in Europe is far greater a threat to the continent's stability than Britain's exit from the European Union.
"We can all have our own views and it is going to be a personal view, but when I look at my role in the global economy and my concerns about it, I am more concerned about Europe than the UK," Veihmeyer told BI.
"The elections [in Europe] and the decisions [that are going to be made in 2017], like what will happen in France, could be very impactful for the rest of Europe — especially if we begin to see a trend or more similar activity in the Netherlands and other countries. It could threaten the [European] union. It would mean a disruptive period for years especially since there will be a focus more on Brexit."I wouldn't underestimate the concern I have for the health of the global economy and how this can become the biggest impediment of growth. The world is facing a lot of major uncertainties."
Nobel Speech ---
As a performer I've played for
50,000 people and I've played for 50 people and I can tell you that it is harder
to play for 50 people. 50,000 people have a singular persona, not so with 50.
Each person has an individual, separate identity, a world unto themselves. They
can perceive things more clearly. Your honesty and how it relates to the depth
of your talent is tried. The fact that the Nobel committee is so small is not
lost on me.
say that patriotism is the last refuge
To which a scoundrel clings.
Steal a little and they throw you in jail,
Steal a lot and they make you king.
There's only one step down from here, baby,
It's called the land of permanent bliss.
What's a sweetheart like you doin' in a dump like this?
rifleman’s stalking the sick and the lame
Preacherman seeks the same, who’ll get there first is uncertain
Nightsticks and water cannons, tear gas, padlocks
Molotov cocktails and rocks behind every curtain
False-hearted judges dying in the webs that they spin
Only a matter of time ’til night comes steppin’ in
Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son
And what did you see, my darling young one
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin'
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin'
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it's a hard, and it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall
Patti Smith Sings Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rains Gonna Fall” at
Nobel Prize Ceremony & Gets a Case of the Nerves ---
Donald Trump Won Because People Are Tired of
Political Correctness ---
Trump Owes a Debt of Appreciation to His Harshest Critics --- Especially
Hollywood Celebrities and Professors
Harvard: How the Attacks on Trump Reinforce His Strategy ---
One of the tricky things about strategy is that good strategies end up seeming inevitable, and that makes them difficult to analyze. After the fact, we have trouble distinguishing cause from effect, or strategic choices from good luck — and as a result, we draw suspect lessons from the exercise. This is especially true when the success in question was a surprising one.
For a sterling example, look no further than Donald Trump. Ex-post-facto rationalizing has portrayed his rise as being largely the result of Hillary Clinton’s strategic fumbles (not enough campaigning in the Rust Belt) and bad luck (James Comey). In this telling, Trump won the election not through his own actions but because he happened to be up against a particularly incompetent opponent. Another line of thinking argues that Trump’s win was a function of external factors: the media’s obsession with celebrity, the large field of GOP primary candidates, the interference of Russian hackers, an electorate that wanted change above all else. The factors here are very different, but the upshot is the same: Trump somehow won the election despite himself, not because of anything he actually did.
The problem with both of these views is that they portray the Trump triumph as inevitable, and it just wasn’t. It was one of the longest long shots in modern U.S. presidential history. So it’s worth asking what Trump did — strategically — that made it possible.
When he entered the race, Trump had zero political experience and was reviled by the Republican establishment. The normal thing to do was to follow the path of a typical “outsider” candidate, accepting the boundaries of the category and attempting to be sufficiently distinctive within that category to overcome the outsider disadvantages. For example, see Bernie Sanders: “I am a Democrat, but I bring a much more compelling liberal view than my establishment opponent.” Or Ben Carson: “I am a Republican candidate, but as a successful surgeon, I bring a fresh perspective.” In fact, this was such expected behavior from Trump that during the primary the media largely covered him as a classic outsider candidate, even though he was doing something radically different.
What he was doing was creating with precise and relentless consistency an entirely new category in the minds of voters: the politically incorrect candidate. He has since monopolized that new category.
To establish the legitimacy of the category, he made a consistent and devilishly tautological argument: In the category of traditional presidential candidates, the politicians are all politically correct. When they get in power, they fail you. Hence you don’t want a leader in that category — you want one in a new category called politically incorrect presidential candidates. I have been a huge success in business by being politically incorrect. Therefore: political correctness = failure, and political incorrectness = success.
It doesn’t matter whether he consciously set out to pursue that strategy or whether it was the result of his personality and instincts. The outcome is the same in either case.
Trump used an approach to attract primary and general election voters that businesses use to attract customers. Customers create categorical boundaries in their minds – e.g., Chinese restaurants, sporty cars, blue jeans – and within those boundaries they are disproportionately inclined to choose the product that feels the most natural, familiar, and comfortable to them. Because the mind craves simplicity and consistency, the product that feels most comfortable tends to be the one with which people have a long and dependable experience. For example, someone’s favorite Chinese restaurant is their favorite because they have gone there the most often and know the people and the menu and the layout best. Former Procter & Gamble CEO A.G. Lafley and I have termed this “cumulative advantage,” and it is an underappreciated way of attaining sustained leadership in a market.
Continued in article
This may account for a lot of Trump's votes in the GOP primary (especially against politically correct John Kasich), I still think that Hillary's blunders helped him more than politically correct critics in the general election. If more Sanders supporters had bothered to vote Trump would've lost the general election. Sanders supporters, however, were turned off by DNC and media corruption that favored Hillary over Sanders, especially her willingness to cheat in her debates with Bernie Sanders with the help of the DNC and CNN.
Someone Is Rewriting Trump’s Tweets Like A Grown-Up, And He Could Learn
From It ---
Does this have potential in college writing courses?
Seems like students could learn both from the exercise itself and when being assigned to evaluate the meaning lost versus meaning gained from the rewrites.
Of course, in the USA today there may be less demand for higher quality tweets (in terms of writing style)
This might be like photoshopping more clothes on Madonna or Lady Gaga
Moral Hazard --- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_hazard
LA agrees to $4 million settlement in fatal Venice police shooting of
homeless black man ---
In this tidbit I'm not trying to make it sound unjust to reward families of police brutality. Most, if not every settlement to date, is justified.
However, I would like to point out the moral hazard that such multi-million settlements create in society. Suppose Donny and Dorothy D have been separated for three years even though they are still married. Dorothy D is so scared of her violent drug-dealing husband that she has a court-ordered restraining order against Donny D., Dorothy D approaches Policeman Paul P with a proposition. If Policeman Paul P guns down Donny D she agrees to split her $4 million settlement with Paul P. That $2 million sounds very inviting to Paul P even though he might lose his $48,000 very risky job and get a year or two in jail for manslaughter. Jail time is not very probable if they stage the shooting properly while Dorothy D takes the video footage of the shooting. The bottom line is one less wife-beating drug dealer in LA and two millionaires. The only losers are and Donny D and the LA taxpayers, especially if such settlements become common in LA after hurting wives and disgruntled police officers catch on to how easy it's becoming to get such settlements.
This is may become an extension of those common and very lucrative insurance scams where one car filled with seven lawyers and doctors breaks suddenly and intentionally so as to be hit from behind.
The Real War on Science: The Left has done far more than the Right
to set back progress ---
. . .
But two huge threats to science are peculiar to the Left—and they’re getting worse.
The first threat is confirmation bias, the well-documented tendency of people to seek out and accept information that confirms their beliefs and prejudices. In a classic study of peer review, 75 psychologists were asked to referee a paper about the mental health of left-wing student activists. Some referees saw a version of the paper showing that the student activists’ mental health was above normal; others saw different data, showing it to be below normal. Sure enough, the more liberal referees were more likely to recommend publishing the paper favorable to the left-wing activists. When the conclusion went the other way, they quickly found problems with its methodology.
Scientists try to avoid confirmation bias by exposing their work to peer review by critics with different views, but it’s increasingly difficult for liberals to find such critics. Academics have traditionally leaned left politically, and many fields have essentially become monocultures, especially in the social sciences, where Democrats now outnumber Republicans by at least 8 to 1. (In sociology, where the ratio is 44 to 1, a student is much likelier to be taught by a Marxist than by a Republican.) The lopsided ratio has led to another well-documented phenomenon: people’s beliefs become more extreme when they’re surrounded by like-minded colleagues. They come to assume that their opinions are not only the norm but also the truth.
Groupthink has become so routine that many scientists aren’t even aware of it. Social psychologists, who have extensively studied conscious and unconscious biases against out-groups, are quick to blame these biases for the underrepresentation of women or minorities in the business world and other institutions. But they’ve been mostly oblivious to their own diversity problem, which is vastly larger. Democrats outnumber Republicans at least 12 to 1 (perhaps 40 to 1) in social psychology, creating what Jonathan Haidt calls a “tribal-moral community” with its own “sacred values” about what’s worth studying and what’s taboo.
“Morality binds and blinds,” says Haidt, a social psychologist at New York University and author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. “Having common values makes a group cohesive, which can be quite useful, but it’s the last thing that should happen to a scientific field. Progressivism, especially anti-racism, has become a fundamentalist religion, complete with anti-blasphemy laws.”
Last year, one of the leading scientific journals, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, published an article by Haidt and five colleagues documenting their profession’s lack of ideological diversity. It was accompanied by commentaries from 63 other social scientists, virtually all of whom, even the harshest critics, accepted the authors’ conclusion that the lack of political diversity has harmed the science of social psychology. The authors and the commentators pointed to example after example of how the absence of conservatives has blinded researchers to flaws in their work, particularly when studying people’s ideology and morality.
Continued in article
Bands: Should Colleges March in Trump Inaugural?
Jensen Forwarded This Comment to the Publisher
I worry that the Academy is contributing to class warfare. The working class and ignorant voters put Trump in office. Now the Academy wants to create a greater divide between elite intellectuals and the lower class. No thanks!
Student Loans: What You Need to Know Before
Bob Jensen's helpers for personal finance ---
Think $140 million scammed from suckers worldwide
Indictment in Alleged Diploma Mill Case ---
Why California's Liberal Laws Are Sometimes Unjust and Dysfunctional
Mother Jones: The Crazy Story of the Professor Who Came to Stay—and Wouldn't Leave ---
As the saying goes, the road to legal Hell is paved with good intentions
Harvard Business: Why We’re Seeing So Many Corporate Scandals ---
Washington Post's billionaire owner receives $600 million contract from
the CIA ---
Meanwhile, a petition campaign was launched related to news that Amazon, under the Post’s new owner, Jeff Bezos, recently secured a $600 million contract from the CIA. That’s at least twice what Bezos paid for the Post this year. Bezos recently disclosed that the company’s Web-services business is building a “private cloud” for the CIA to use for its data needs.
The liberal media would be screaming "conflict of interest" if such a contract was awarded to the billionaire owner of Fox News.
This illustrates own difficult it often is for billionaires to shed themselves of conflicts of interest.
Polanyi In Our Times: What the Austro-Hungarian economic
theorist tells us about the upheavals of our age.---
The Long and Brutal History of Fake News ---
. . .
But amid all the media hand wringing about fake news and how to deal with it, one fact seems to have gotten lost: Fake news is not a new phenomenon. It has been around since news became a concept 500 years ago with the invention of print—a lot longer, in fact, than verified, “objective” news, which emerged in force a little more than a century ago. From the start, fake news has tended to be sensationalist and extreme, designed to inflame passions and prejudices. And it has often provoked violence. The Nazi propaganda machine relied on the same sorts of fake stories about ritual Jewish drinking of childrens’ blood that inspired Prince-Bishop Hinderbach in the 15th century. Perhaps most dangerous is how terrifyingly persistent and powerful fake news has proved to be. As Pope Sixtus IV found out, wild fake stories with roots in popular prejudice often prove too much for responsible authorities to handle. With the decline of trusted news establishments around the country, who’s to stop them today?
Fake news took off at the same time that news began to circulate widely, after Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1439. “Real” news was hard to verify in that era. There were plenty of news sources—from official publications by political and religious authorities, to eyewitness accounts from sailors and merchants—but no concept of journalistic ethics or objectivity. Readers in search of fact had to pay close attention. In the 16th century, those who wanted real news believed that leaked secret government reports were reliable sources, such as Venetian government correspondence, known as relazioni. But it wasn’t long before leaked original documents were soon followed by fake relazioni leaks. By the 17th century, historians began to play a role in verifying the news by publishing their sources as verifiable footnotes. The trial over Galileo’s findings in 1610 also created a desire for scientifically verifiable news and helped create influential scholarly news sources.But as printing expanded, so flowed fake news, from spectacular stories of sea monsters and witches to claims that sinners were responsible for natural disasters. The Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 was one of the more complex news stories of all time, with the church and many European authorities blaming the natural disaster on divine retribution against sinners. An entire genre of fake news pamphlets (relações de sucessos) emerged in Portugal, claiming that some survivors owed their lives to an apparition of the Virgin Mary. These religiously inspired accounts of the earthquake sparked the famed Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire to attack religious explanations of natural events, and also made Voltaire into an activist against fake religious news.
Continued in article
The Political Correctness Police Crack
Down on . . . Kids Books The literary altercations of 2016 have highlighted the
dilemma of publishers, illustrators and writers in a neo-Jacobin era of
hair-trigger racial, sexual and ethnic sensitivities ---
In January, after a two-week social-media drumming, Scholastic pulled from distribution “A Birthday Cake for George Washington,” which was criticized for an excessively jolly portrayal of enslaved people in the first president’s household.
. . .
In July, controversy swirled around Lane Smith’s picture book “There Is a Tribe of Kids” (which publisher Roaring Brook did not recall) for representing children in a natural setting with feathers in their hair (see below)—as if, critics said, they were “playing Indian.” In August, Candlewick recalled copies of E.E. Charlton-Trujillo’s young-adult novel “When We Was Fierce.” Early critical praise had morphed into social-media wrath over the author’s use of an invented urban dialect that was, in the words of one prominent fault-finder, “deeply insensitive.”
. . .
Fictional and fictionalized stories are among our best means of voyaging into strange places, of experiencing life from within other skins, of hearing the beat of hearts unlike our own. But art cannot flourish under ideological repression. Thousands of talented writers and illustrators, with their editors and publishers, are trying in good faith to bring forth thoughtful, imaginative books. Rather than police every micro-transgression, how much better, in 2017, to give them a bit of creative space.
Years ago my friend Jean Chittenden sat on a censorship board that filtered history questions on SAT examinations. She said one part of history was that was not allowed is reference to a historical fact that "women brought water to men on the field." That was one of my early discoveries that there is a Big Brother filtering known facts from the archives of history.
Bob Jensen's threads on the political correctness police ---
The University of British Columbia Apologizes for Rescinding a Speaker's
As far as the politcal correctness police are concerned any charges make you guilty irrespective of investigation outcomes.
Bob Jensen's threads on the political correctness police ---
Can We Really Measure Implicit Bias? Maybe Not ---
What is "racial bias?"
I take pride in the two plaques on my wall that were given to me by the Minority Business Students at Florida State University during my four years at FSU. I was the faculty representative to that association for two years.
I do not consider myself racially biased even to a point where we enrolled our children in both the public schools in Tallahassee and in San Antonio where white students were in the minority --- at least I suspected white students were in the minority. My children had Hispanic and black teachers. My son Marshall even had a wonderful third grade teacher who admitted that she could not functionally read. Another teacher was brought in daily to teach reading.
But I once turned down a nice offer from Tulane University because we would never enroll our children in the New Orleans public schools and considered it private Catholic schools to not be suitable for our family. Other schooling options were too expensive and logistically inconvenient for us in New Orleans.
Was our concern about public schools in New Orleans a "implicit racial bias?" I think not. It was more of a concern about both safety and quality of education (think class sizes among other things).
My guess is that there are few, if any, of the most liberal/progressive university faculty who will send their K-12 children to public schools in New Orleans, Detroit, Chicago, St Louis, NYC, Baltimore, Washington DC, etc.
The complicated problem is that there's a confounding of fears of crime risks, school quality, noise (yes noise), and real or implicit racial bias. I would never try to discourage a black family from being my neighbor just because of skin color. I would discourage a drug dealer from being my neighbor irrespective of skin color.
My point is that implicit racial bias is seldom a single-variable issue. Racism or lack thereof is confounded among a myriad of other factors.
Hear Alan Watts’s 1960s Prediction That Automation Will Necessitate a
Universal Basic Income ---
MIT: Basic Income: A Sellout of the American Dream ---
Negative Income Tax --- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_income_tax
Milton Friedman --- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milton_Friedman
My conservative hero is Nobel economist Milton Friedman. However, I'm still dubious about one of his ideas called the negative income tax that is intended to provide everyone a basic income and remove most of the safety nets of the poor like food stamps and other forms of welfare. What I don't like about the idea is that it's totally disruptive of the law of supply and demand. For example, under supply and demand if there is no demand for Joe Doe's lousy labor (such as writing lousy books or painting lousy pictures) then Joe Doe must do other types of less-lousy labor to make a living or live minimally on welfare or turn to crime. Under the negative income tax Joe can spend his lousy life painting lousy pictures, writing lousy books, or playing dominos daily with idle friends on his front porch in front of a keg of beer.
It's also easier to abuse the basic income concept. Mom or dad or both than let the kids go hungry without shoes while they blow their monthly cash on booze, drugs, prostitutes, and gambling. A basic income feeds addictions and causes depressions in daily idleness and lack of purpose. Earning money with labor actually makes many (most?) people happier.
In nations like the USA having enormous underground economies it's also possible to cheat on the negative income tax by drawing the fixed wage from the IRS plus having an unreported wage working for cash or committing crimes for cash. Current estimates run as high as $2 trillion in the underground economy such as when millions of people get food stamps, welfare, and reported wages plus trillions of dollars in unreported cash wages. Some nations like India are now trying to control the underground economy by eliminating unreported cash in the economy, but thus far India is having a monetary disaster in the transition process.
By far the biggest problem of a basic income is that it destroys incentives to meaningfully work.
Overall, the USA's schools earn a C on the latest Quality Counts report
card, with variations among some states ---
State Report Cards Map ----
Top Five With B Grades: Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maryland
Bottom Five with D Grades: Nevada, Mississippi, New Mexico, Idaho, Oklahoma
Average for the USA is a C Grade that puts it between Ohio and Montana
Select any of the 50 states in the map to view that state's details
The Atlantic: When Finnish Teachers Work in America’s Public Schools
Bottom Line: They don't like it
Go to the above article to find out why.
The Economist Magazine:
South Africa spends more on education, as a fraction of GDP, than European countries do on average. Yet it ranks at the bottom of educational league tables. What explains its terrible results?
Extension of the "Trolley Problem" to a "Desalination Problem"
Israel Proves the Desalination Era Is Here --
One of the driest countries on Earth now makes more freshwater than it needs
In California Desalinization Regulations Go Too Far
It's getting increasingly difficult to exaggerate the degree to which some environmental activists and bureaucrats have placed the needs of California's critters above the needs of its growing population. Many of these stories are almost literally unbelievable.
I've reported on the government's decision to largely empty a massive reservoir in the Sierra foothills to save about a dozen hatchery fish, an otherworldly story given it took place at the apex of the drought—and given those non-endangered fish would be eaten by other species before they meandered to the ocean. Then there were the shutdowns of the water pumps in Tracy because of the fate of a handful of bait fish (Delta smelt).
I still roll my eyes at a proposed project—at an estimated cost of $70,000 to $300,000 per fish—to help salmon swim around Don Pedro dam. It's easy enough to identify a salmon. What explains efforts to halt a major source of water supplies in Orange County over concerns about the fate of some plankton?
Sure enough, concerns about those small and microscopic organisms continue to slow efforts to build a much-needed desalination project on an industrial site in Huntington Beach. The rains have started again, but Californians are still facing drought conditions. It's best to plan now to avoid a future crisis. Turning ocean saltwater into drinking water remains one of the most sensible long-term options to provide at least some of our water needs.
. . .
I've got nothing against plankton, which are a necessary part of the food chain. I'm not against reasonable measures to save any manner of wildlife, but these fights fundamentally aren't about larvae, salmon, trout and smelt. They are about growth. No-growth activists have long understood that the battle over water sources is a battle over people. The critters are just pawns in this tiresome game.
"(N)ew California regulations (from the state water board) governing desalination plants make subsurface intakes mandatory unless it can be shown they're not economically and/or technically feasible," reported Water Deeply. "The new rules—the only such regulations in the world—are forcing additional delays for the proposed plant, which has been seeking state permits since 2001." The publication puts the issue in stark terms: The Huntington Beach battle is about the future of desalination in the state, and the future of several other proposed plants along the coast.
That's an important battle for those of us who want to assure enough water in this state so that our kids and grandkids have a prosperous future here. There's no question which side we should choose: Let's put people over plankton.
The California regulations limiting or prohibiting desalination along the coastline to save an inconsequential proportion of plankton in the Pacific Ocean is closely related to the Trolley Problem that focuses on hard choices between sacrificing a few lives as collateral damage necessary to save many more lives.
Watch a 2-Year-Old Solve Philosophy’s Famous
Ethical “Trolley Problem” ---
Erika and I recently watched the Helen Mirren film entitled "Eye in the Sky" ---
That movie centers on a drone strike in Kenya where the debate concerns whether collateral damage with a 65% chance of knowingly killing one child outweighs an almost certain chance of killing 80 people in a mall (where the terrorists cause the deaths).
I'm told that some of the technologies in the "Eye in the Sky" movie will not become realities for a few years.
There's are added considerations beyond the morality of the decision to incur the collateral damage of one child's death. This is mentioned in the "Eye in the Sky" movie. The added considerations are the externalities of media coverage. The terrorists take a media hit if they kill 80 innocent shoppers in a mall. The military takes a media hit if it kills one innocent child to save 80 shoppers. That media hit can reduce the amount of future funding of the military. Allowing the terrorists to attack shopping malls can increase the funding of the military.
My point here is that the social choices (long-term versus short-term) that what appears to be an optimal solution regarding collateral damage in the short-term may be sub-optimal for the long-term where more funding may lead to even greater technological weaponry.
In the case of the above Huntington Beach desalination plant versus plankton, there's the added consideration that wealthy residents along the shore at Huntington Beach are simply using the plankton argument not so much to save the plankton as to protect their shore from a large and unsightly desalination plant.
And like the "Trolley Problem" difficult choices in many, many contexts often entail collateral damage impacting a few versus larger damage impacting many.
Israel is so desperate for water that it turned successfully to desalination. How desperate will the drought in California have to become before Californians turn more seriously to desalination?
There are many extensions of the "Trolley Problem." For example, on his way out of office President Obama quadrupled the allowed eagle kill in the case of collateral damage resulting from building more and larger windmill farms to generate electricity for the many.
Regulators of self-driving vehicles on public roads must build "Trolley Problem" decisions into software that entails how the cars will confront emergencies where there are only two choices that both entail collateral damage. For example, there may only be a software choice between plowing into a school bus that shoots out in front of the car versus swerving into a child at bus stop on the corner.
Public schools must often make decisions regarding collateral damage to educating most of the students versus enormous budget allocations needed for a few severely disabled students who need one-on-one teaching with expensive added overhead like a real world case in where it was decided, at local taxpayer expense, to fly a student daily between a home in the wilderness to a special school for the blind. If taxpayers didn't pay, the parents might have elected home schooling although this might be inferior to specialized schooling for a blind child.
And this can be easily extended to decisions to pull the plug on a gaga granny in a hospital. Sixty Minutes on CBS did a special called "The High Cost of Dying" focused on the enormous proportion of Medicare budget that is spent keeping patients hopelessly alive. Interestingly, families that will not pull the plug on gaga granny as long as Medicare pays quickly concede to having the plugs pulled if granny's estate will have to kick in when Medicare will no longer pay.
If the drought in California becomes increasingly severe, California will eventually follow the lead of Israel and build desalination plants along the coast.
And if terrorism becomes an increasing problem worldwide more collateral damage will be allowed in drone strikes on terrorists.
The Trolley Problem is a philosophical
problem that eventually boils down to numbers.
USA President Harry Truman faced such numbers when making a Trolley Problem choice to drop atomic bombs in WW II. Interestingly, he was thinking about long-term numbers of Japanese as well as Americans.
It all comes back to having to make choices in the context of
the social choice impossibility theorem ---
New York Times: Homeland Security
Officials Took Millions in Bribes to 'Look the Other Way' ---
WASHINGTON — In 2012, Joohoon David Lee, a federal Homeland Security agent in Los Angeles, was assigned to investigate the case of a Korean businessman accused of sex trafficking.
Instead of carrying out a thorough inquiry,
Mr. Lee solicited and received about $13,000 in bribes and other gifts from the businessman and his relatives in return for making the “immigration issue go away,” court records show. Mr. Lee, an agent with Homeland Security Investigations at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, filed a report saying: “Subject was suspected of human trafficking. No evidence found and victim statement contradicts. Case closed. No further action required.”
But after another agent alerted internal investigators about Mr. Lee’s interference in another case, his record was examined and he was charged with bribery. He pleaded guilty in July and was sentenced to 10 months in prison.
It was not an isolated case. A review by The New York Times of thousands of court records and internal agency documents showed that over the last 10 years almost 200 employees and contract workers of the Department of Homeland Security have taken nearly $15 million in bribes while being paid to protect the nation’s borders and enforce immigration laws.
These employees have looked the other way as tons of drugs and thousands of undocumented immigrants were smuggled into the United States, the records show. They have illegally sold green cards and other immigration documents, have entered law enforcement databases and given sensitive information to drug cartels. In one case, the information was used to arrange the attempted murder of an informant.
The Times’s findings most likely undercount the amount of bribes because in many cases court records do not give a tally. The findings also do not include gifts, trips or money stolen by Homeland Security employees.
Throughout his campaign, President-elect Donald J. Trump said border security would be one of his highest priorities. As he prepares to take office, he will find that many of the problems seem to come from within.
Continued in article
Bob Jensen's Fraud Updates --- http://faculty.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm
5:38 Blog: Fact-Checking Won’t Save Us From Fake News ---
One thing to note about fact checkers is that those like Snopes that are politically biased do provide a useful service, but keep in mind that they have selectivity bias --- they seldom fact check the fake facts that they like out in the world.
I also find this to be the case in the liberal world of academe. For example, the Chronicle of Higher Education often allows fact checking by encouraging comments on their articles. However, they now cherry pick some of the articles that will not allow comments and, thereby, shut down fact checking by respondents.
How Can We Minimize Grade Challenges?
In four universities I taught in a masters or doctoral program where graduate students had to have a 3.0 gpa or better to graduate.
One time I had a well-meaning colleague who normally gave only A grades gave a student (who was a likeable dud) a C with a promise to eventually change the grade to a B if the that C grade in question prevented the student from graduating. Sure enough in that student's final semester his gpa was slightly below 3.0. The student of course (along with his mother who came for the graduation ceremony) reminded my colleague of her grade change promise.
Some professors should not be allowed to assign grades.
Revenue recognition: Guidance for preparers and auditors ---
The textbook you chose for this semester may not be adequately up to date on changed revenue recognition rules.
GASB Introduces Possible New Approaches for Governmental Fund Reporting ---
45 recommendations to Congress would help many taxpayers ---
Now this is bird food for a Trump Tweet.
The Accidental Whistle-Blower: How a Retired London Journalist Uncovered
Massive Corruption Half a World Away ---
Bob Jensen's Fraud Updates --- http://faculty.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm
From the CFO Journal's Morning Ledger on January 6, 2017
The Pending Disaster Now Called the "border adjustment Tax"
That was quick: Constellation Brands Inc., the U.S. distributor of Corona beer, is already thinking about alternative ways to run its business should its cost base rise after a planned tax overhaul. Despite the fact that Republicans, who are set to take full control of the U.S. government later this month, haven’t yet crafted legislation, the company is looking at ways to avoid raising prices, Vipal Monga and Jennifer Maloney write.
Republican legislators are proposing to erase tax deductions on imports while exempting exports. The so-called border adjustment could lead to higher levies for the automotive and retail industries, according to an analysis by Ernst & Young LLP. Constellation would consider purchasing more natural gas and packaging material from the U.S., offsetting the potential impact of the proposed tax overhaul on imports like its Mexican beverage, Chief Executive Rob Sands said on Thursday.
Chief Financial Officer David Klein said it is possible that, under the House Republicans’ proposal, companies wouldn’t be able to deduct costs incurred abroad against their U.S. corporate taxes, creating an incentive to make as much in the U.S. as possible. The border-adjustment tax proposal has caused finance chiefs and tax directors across the country to examine their supply chains to see how they would fare.
The GOP historically promoted free trade while the Democratic Party went the other way to protect domestic jobs. Now the GOP is leading the way toward disastrous trade wars where industries like agriculture and other exporters will be hit hard.
Bye Bye to Defined-Benefit Pension Plans
From the CFO Journal's Morning Ledger on January 6, 2017
British letters and parcels delivery company Royal Mail PLC plans to close its 90,000-member defined-benefit pension plan, joining a long list of U.K. corporates that are withdrawing fixed retirement provisions due to rising costs, the Financial Times reports.
Such plans will probably disappear worldwide and in the 50 states of the USA. leaving only government pensions backed by money printing presses that can afford such plans.
Finding and Using Health Statistics --- http://www.nlm.nih.gov/nichsr/usestats/index.htm
Best Medical Schools in the World (2013) ---
More of the Top 50 are in the USA relative to any other nation.
World Health Organization ranking of health systems in 2000 ---
From Our World in Data
Financing Health Care --- https://ourworldindata.org/financing-healthcare/
Lots of interesting comparisons here
Added considerations should be that having insurance with enormous deductibles is like having no insurance for people who cannot afford thousands of dollars in deductibles before the insurance kicks in,"
Added considerations include having insurance that the major providers (hospitals and doctors) refuse to accept is like having no insurance.
World Health Organization: World Health Statistics 2015 --- http://www.who.int/gho/publications/world_health_statistics/2015/en/
Updates from WebMD --- http://www.webmd.com/
Malpractice Lottery for Lawyers or Criminals or Both ---
Jensen's Threads and Timeline for Obamacare ---
Bob Jensen's threads on medicine ---
Obama says Bernie Sanders supporters helped undermine Obamacare ---
I must admit that I too am in favor of a German-style medical insurance system where there is a national plan funded by taxpayers with added premium plans funded by companies or people themselves.
Bloomberg: Drug Stocks Plunge as Trump Threatens to Force Price
Pharmaceutical and biotech stocks plummeted Wednesday after President-elect Donald Trump said he’d force the industry to bid for government business, a position that aligns him with congressional Democrats and against the powerful drug-manufacturing lobby.
“They’re getting away with murder,” Trump said at a press conference in New York. “Pharma has a lot of lobbyists and a lot of power and there is very little bidding. We’re the largest buyer of drugs in the world and yet we don’t bid properly and we’re going to save billions of dollars.”
The industry is the latest target of a president who’s made a habit of negotiating via Twitter. The Nasdaq Biotechnology Index fell 3 percent at 2:41 p.m. in New York, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Pharmaceuticals, Biotechnology & Life Sciences Index was down 1.8 percent.
Investors had been betting that Trump would be good for the industry -- drug and biotech stocks had gained since his election -- but it now appears the Republican may take up the banner Democrats carried during the campaign and lock onto drug prices as an issue that hits many Americans in their wallets.
Democrats have supported having Medicare, which covers the elderly and disabled, negotiate prices directly on behalf of patients, while defending against such a program has been a priority for the drug lobby in Washington. Medicare is the biggest purchaser of drugs and medical services in the country.
“It’s a policy we ought to consider,” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland, told reporters Wednesday. “But as you know, Republicans have not been open to that consideration.”
Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont Independent, tweeted that Trump is right about the pharmaceutical industry getting away with murder. “But do Trump and Republicans have the guts to police drug companies and lower prices?” he asked.
The Senate plans a test on the issue this week. The chamber will likely vote on an amendment to the 2017 budget resolution backing the government’s ability to negotiate drug prices on behalf of Medicare. The amendment, from Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, is meant to see where senators stand on the issue.
Continued in article
The Lies and Deceptions of Obamacare ---
One misleading statement that 20 million uninsured got medical insurance under Obamacare. That may be literally true, but most either got added to Medicaid (free medical insurance that could have happened without the complicated legislation of Obamacare) or insurance with such enormous deductibles that those insured could not afford to use that insurance and went to emergency rooms instead for free medical care.
The other sad thing about Obamacare (and Medicaid) is that so many doctors and hospitals refused to accept patients insured by Obamacare.
Something you will never hear in a speech by President Obama
Major hospitals in Chicago will no longer serve patients insured in Obamacare exchanges (except in true emergencies) ---
News Item Prior to November 8 Election of President Trump
Major Chicago Hospitals Not In 2017 Obamacare Marketplace Plans ---
Some of Chicago’s largest hospitals said they will not be part of any Cook County Affordable Care Act marketplace plans in 2017.
University of Chicago Medical Center and Rush University Medical Center both said they don’t plan to be in network for any Obamacare marketplace plans next year.
The change means patients with doctors at those hospitals will either need to find a plan off the marketplace, and lose Obamacare subsides, or find a new doctor.
Northwestern Memorial Hospital said it will also be out of the marketplace, but will have exceptions for some of its partner hospitals.
Continued in article
According to emergency room physicians Obamacare made it much worse for emergency rooms.
American College of Emergency Room Physicians
The Uninsured: Access to Medical Care Fact Sheet ---
In fairness government often funds basic research and applied research having lower probabilities of success. The private sector skims off the projects having both higher payoffs and higher probability of success. For example, the government might fund research on a rare disease affecting less than 1,000 patients. The private sector would deem this to have a losing payoff.
Don’t Thank Big Government for Medical Breakthroughs ---
New cures come from private research, not cash dumped into the National Institutes of Health.
Act, which will promote medical innovation. They should be wary, however, of the $4 billion budget boost that the law gives to the National Institutes of Health.
The assumption seems to be that the root of all medical innovation is university research, primarily funded by federal grants. This is mistaken. The private economy, not the government, actually discovers and develops most of the insights and products that advance health. The history of medical progress supports this conclusion.
Few findings in medical science significantly improved health until the late 19th and early 20th centuries. During that period came breakthroughs such as anesthesia and antisepsis, along with vaccines and antibiotics to combat infectious diseases. The discovery of vitamins and hormones made it possible to treat patients with deficiencies in either category.
In America, innovation came from physicians in universities and research institutes that were supported by philanthropy. Private industry provided chemicals used in the studies and then manufactured therapies on a mass scale.
Things changed after World War II, when Vannevar Bush, who had led the U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Development during the war, persuaded Congress to increase federal subsidies for science. The National Institutes of Health became the major backer of medical research. That changed the incentives. Universities that had previously lacked research operations suddenly developed them, and others expanded existing programs. Over time these institutions grew into what I call the government-academic biomedical complex.
Since then, improvements in health have accumulated. Life expectancy has increased. Deaths from heart attack and stroke have radically decreased, and cancer mortality has declined. New drugs and devices have ameliorated the pain and immobility of diseases like arthritis. Yet the question remains: Is the government responsible for these improvements? The answer is largely no. Washington-centric research, rather, might slow progress.
Many physicians have never lacked motivation to develop treatments for diseases. But the government-academic biomedical complex has recruited predominantly nonphysician scientists who value elegant solutions to medical puzzles—generally preferring to impress their influential peers rather than solve practical problems. Vannevar Bush believed that basic research, unrelated to specific ends, was the best approach to scientific progress. How something works became more important than whether it works. Aspirin, for example, came into use even though researchers weren’t sure exactly what made it effective. That approach would never work today. Instead of the messy work of studying sick patients, scientists now prefer experimenting with inbred mice and cultured cells. Their results accrue faster and are scientifically cleaner, but they arguably are less germane to health.
Practical innovation requires incremental efforts. But the reviewers of grant applications for medical research are obsessed with theory-based science and novelty for novelty’s sake. They find incrementalism mundane. Consistent with that attitude, a 2003 review published in the American Journal of Medicine found that of more than 25,000 publications in prominent biomedical journals, only 100 even mentioned a medically relevant application of the research.
Academic administrators, operating under the delusion that government largess would grow forever, have become entitled. But since the 1980s, funding for the National Institutes of Health has lagged far behind the growth of an aging population in need of medical innovation. The extra $4 billion in the 21st Century Cures Act will have little effect on that financial gap.
Today, researchers compete for government grants at increasingly shorter intervals and with diminishing chances of success: Less than 1 in 5 grant applications succeeds. This inhibits risk taking.By contrast, private investment in medicine has kept pace with the aging population and is the principal engine for advancement. More than 80% of new drug approvals originate from work solely performed in private companies. Note that such drug approvals come on average 16 years after the beginning of clinical trials, which typically cost $2.5 billion from start to finish. Even if grant-subsidized academics wanted to create a new drug, economic reality prevents it.
Continued in article
Dr. Stossel, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and professor emeritus at Harvard Medical School, is author of “Pharmaphobia: How the Conflict of Interest Myth Undermines American Medical Innovation” (Rowman Littlefield, 2015).
In fairness government often funds basic research and applied research having lower probabilities of success. The private sector skims off the projects having both higher payoffs and higher probability of success. For example, the government might fund research on a rare disease affecting less than 1,000 patients. The private sector would deem this to have a losing payoff
A Sharp Rise in Retractions Prompts Calls for Reform ---
Bob Jensen's universal health care messaging --- http://faculty.trinity.edu/rjensen/Health.htm
Bob Jensen's health care messaging --- http://faculty.trinity.edu/rjensen/Health.htm
Bob Jensen's Home Page --- http://faculty.trinity.edu/rjensen/