Nemo Me Impune Lacessit

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Captain America and Spiderman, On the Rooftop

Filed under: Philosophy, Politics, Principles, Reading — Tags: , , , , — mikewb1971 @ 10:52 PM (22:52)

Usually, the superhero genre doesn’t do much for me (mostly I wait for the movies to show up on TNT or FX[1]).

But when they[2] get it right, it’s pretty damn good.

I saved these scanned pages from a post made years ago on the calguns.net message board. They were scanned from The Amazing Spider-Man #537.

Considering the current socio-political climate, it seems as though the importance of standing up for one’s views, regardless of whether the whole world is against you, cannot be understated.


NOTES

  1. Why bother going to see them at the overpriced cineplex, with its overpriced snacks, uncomfortable seats, other moviegoers who are assholes, etc., when you can save a bundle by seeing it at home — you can have your food and drink of choice, start the movie whenever you want, pause or stop it whenever you want, and not have to put up with people you wouldn’t otherwise touch with a ten-parsec pole?

    Seriously, they can’t cut much from any of the Marvel or DC flicks — there’s no nudity, excessive profanity or graphic, gratuitous gore to speak of, and if they cut out the comic-book style violence, there wouldn’t be any plot left.

  2. In this case, J. Michael Straczynski of Babylon 5 fame, Ron Garney, Bill Reinhold, Matt Milla, Cory Petit, Michael O’Connor, and Alex Alonso.

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Sunday, 13 August 2017

Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber, by James Damore

Filed under: Politics, Reading, Technology — Tags: , , , , — mikewb1971 @ 9:25 PM (21:25)

FULL TEXT OF JAMES DAMORE MEMO

Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber

by James Damore

I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists, and don’t endorse using stereotypes. When addressing the gap in representation in the population, we need to look at population level differences in distributions. If we can’t have an honest discussion about this, then we can never truly solve the problem. Psychological safety is built on mutual respect and acceptance, but unfortunately our culture of shaming and misrepresentation is disrespectful and unaccepting of anyone outside its echo chamber. Despite what the public response seems to have been, I’ve gotten many personal messages from fellow Googlers expressing their gratitude for bringing up these very important issues which they agree with but would never have the courage to say or defend because of our shaming culture and the possibility of being fired. This needs to change.

TL:DR

  • Google’s political bias has equated the freedom from offense with psychological safety, but shaming into silence is the antithesis of psychological safety.
  • This silencing has created an ideological echo chamber where some ideas are too sacred to be honestly discussed.
  • The lack of discussion fosters the most extreme and authoritarian elements of this ideology.
  • Extreme: all disparities in representation are due to oppression
  • Authoritarian: we should discriminate to correct for this oppression
  • Differences in distributions of traits between men and women may in part explain why we don’t have 50% representation of women in tech and leadership. Discrimination to reach equal representation is unfair, divisive, and bad for business.

Background [1]

People generally have good intentions, but we all have biases which are invisible to us. Thankfully, open and honest discussion with those who disagree can highlight our blind spots and help us grow, which is why I wrote this document.[2] Google has several biases and honest discussion about these biases is being silenced by the dominant ideology. What follows is by no means the complete story, but it’s a perspective that desperately needs to be told at Google.

Google’s biases

At Google, we talk so much about unconscious bias as it applies to race and gender, but we rarely discuss our moral biases. Political orientation is actually a result of deep moral preferences and thus biases. Considering that the overwhelming majority of the social sciences, media, and Google lean left, we should critically examine these prejudices.

Left Biases

  • Compassion for the weak
  • Disparities are due to injustices
  • Humans are inherently cooperative
  • Change is good (unstable)
  • Open
  • Idealist

Right Biases

  • Respect for the strong/authority
  • Disparities are natural and just
  • Humans are inherently competitive
  • Change is dangerous (stable)
  • Closed
  • Pragmatic

Neither side is 100% correct and both viewpoints are necessary for a functioning society or, in this case, company. A company too far to the right may be slow to react, overly hierarchical, and untrusting of others. In contrast, a company too far to the left will constantly be changing (deprecating much loved services), over diversify its interests (ignoring or being ashamed of its core business), and overly trust its employees and competitors.

Only facts and reason can shed light on these biases, but when it comes to diversity and inclusion, Google’s left bias has created a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence. This silence removes any checks against encroaching extremist and authoritarian policies. For the rest of this document, I’ll concentrate on the extreme stance that all differences in outcome are due to differential treatment and the authoritarian element that’s required to actually discriminate to create equal representation.

Possible non-bias causes of the gender gap in tech [3]

At Google, we’re regularly told that implicit (unconscious) and explicit biases are holding women back in tech and leadership. Of course, men and women experience bias, tech, and the workplace differently and we should be cognizant of this, but it’s far from the whole story.

On average, men and women biologically differ in many ways. These differences aren’t just socially constructed because:

  • They’re universal across human cultures
  • They often have clear biological causes and links to prenatal testosterone
  • Biological males that were castrated at birth and raised as females often still identify and act like males
  • The underlying traits are highly heritable
  • They’re exactly what we would predict from an evolutionary psychology perspective

Note, I’m not saying that all men differ from women in the following ways or that these differences are “just.” I’m simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership. Many of these differences are small and there’s significant overlap between men and women, so you can’t say anything about an individual given these population level distributions.

Personality differences

Women, on average, have more:

  • Openness directed towards feelings and aesthetics rather than ideas. Women generally also have a stronger interest in people rather than things, relative to men (also interpreted as empathizing vs. systemizing).
  • These two differences in part explain why women relatively prefer jobs in social or artistic areas. More men may like coding because it requires systemizing and even within SWEs, comparatively more women work on front end, which deals with both people and aesthetics.
  • Extraversion expressed as gregariousness rather than assertiveness. Also, higher agreeableness.
  • This leads to women generally having a harder time negotiating salary, asking for raises, speaking up, and leading. Note that these are just average differences and there’s overlap between men and women, but this is seen solely as a women’s issue. This leads to exclusory programs like Stretch and swaths of men without support.
  • Neuroticism (higher anxiety, lower stress tolerance).This may contribute to the higher levels of anxiety women report on Googlegeist and to the lower number of women in high stress jobs.

Note that contrary to what a social constructionist would argue, research suggests that “greater nation-level gender equality leads to psychological dissimilarity in men’s and women’s personality traits.” Because as “society becomes more prosperous and more egalitarian, innate dispositional differences between men and women have more space to develop and the gap that exists between men and women in their personality becomes wider.” We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism.

Men’s higher drive for status

We always ask why we don’t see women in top leadership positions, but we never ask why we see so many men in these jobs. These positions often require long, stressful hours that may not be worth it if you want a balanced and fulfilling life.

Status is the primary metric that men are judged on[4], pushing many men into these higher paying, less satisfying jobs for the status that they entail. Note, the same forces that lead men into high pay / high stress jobs in tech and leadership cause men to take undesirable and dangerous jobs like coal mining, garbage collection, and firefighting, and suffer 93% of work-related deaths.

Non-discriminatory ways to reduce the gender gap

Below I’ll go over some of the differences in distribution of traits between men and women that I outlined in the previous section and suggest ways to address them to increase women’s representation in tech and without resorting to discrimination. Google is already making strides in many of these areas, but I think it’s still instructive to list them:

  • Women on average show a higher interest in people and men in things
  • We can make software engineering more people-oriented with pair programming and more collaboration. Unfortunately, there may be limits to how people-oriented certain roles and Google can be and we shouldn’t deceive ourselves or students into thinking otherwise (some of our programs to get female students into coding might be doing this).
  • Women on average are more cooperative
  • Allow those exhibiting cooperative behavior to thrive. Recent updates to Perf may be doing this to an extent, but maybe there’s more we can do. This doesn’t mean that we should remove all competitiveness from Google. Competitiveness and self reliance can be valuable traits and we shouldn’t necessarily disadvantage those that have them, like what’s been done in education. Women on average are more prone to anxiety. Make tech and leadership less stressful. Google already partly does this with its many stress reduction courses and benefits.
  • Women on average look for more work-life balance while men have a higher drive for status on average
  • Unfortunately, as long as tech and leadership remain high status, lucrative careers, men may disproportionately want to be in them. Allowing and truly endorsing (as part of our culture) part time work though can keep more women in tech.
  • The male gender role is currently inflexible
  • Feminism has made great progress in freeing women from the female gender role, but men are still very much tied to the male gender role. If we, as a society, allow men to be more “feminine,” then the gender gap will shrink, although probably because men will leave tech and leadership for traditionally feminine roles.

Philosophically, I don’t think we should do arbitrary social engineering of tech just to make it appealing to equal portions of both men and women. For each of these changes, we need principles reasons for why it helps Google; that is, we should be optimizing for Google — with Google’s diversity being a component of that. For example currently those trying to work extra hours or take extra stress will inevitably get ahead and if we try to change that too much, it may have disastrous consequences. Also, when considering the costs and benefits, we should keep in mind that Google’s funding is finite so its allocation is more zero-sum than is generally acknowledged.

The Harm of Google’s biases

I strongly believe in gender and racial diversity, and I think we should strive for more. However, to achieve a more equal gender and race representation, Google has created several discriminatory practices:

  • Programs, mentoring, and classes only for people with a certain gender or race [5]
  • A high priority queue and special treatment for “diversity” candidates
  • Hiring practices which can effectively lower the bar for “diversity” candidates by decreasing the false negative rate
  • Reconsidering any set of people if it’s not “diverse” enough, but not showing that same scrutiny in the reverse direction (clear confirmation bias)
  • Setting org level OKRs for increased representation which can incentivize illegal discrimination [6]

These practices are based on false assumptions generated by our biases and can actually increase race and gender tensions. We’re told by senior leadership that what we’re doing is both the morally and economically correct thing to do, but without evidence this is just veiled left ideology[7] that can irreparably harm Google.

Why we’re blind

We all have biases and use motivated reasoning to dismiss ideas that run counter to our internal values. Just as some on the Right deny science that runs counter to the “God > humans > environment” hierarchy (e.g., evolution and climate change) the Left tends to deny science concerning biological differences between people (e.g., IQ[8] and sex differences). Thankfully, climate scientists and evolutionary biologists generally aren’t on the right. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of humanities and social scientists learn left (about 95%), which creates enormous confirmation bias, changes what’s being studied, and maintains myths like social constructionism and the gender wage gap[9]. Google’s left leaning makes us blind to this bias and uncritical of its results, which we’re using to justify highly politicized programs.

In addition to the Left’s affinity for those it sees as weak, humans are generally biased towards protecting females. As mentioned before, this likely evolved because males are biologically disposable and because women are generally more cooperative and areeable than men. We have extensive government and Google programs, fields of study, and legal and social norms to protect women, but when a man complains about a gender issue issue [sic] affecting men, he’s labelled as a misogynist and whiner[10]. Nearly every difference between men and women is interpreted as a form of women’s oppression. As with many things in life, gender differences are often a case of “grass being greener on the other side”; unfortunately, taxpayer and Google money is spent to water only one side of the lawn.

The same compassion for those seen as weak creates political correctness[11], which constrains discourse and is complacent to the extremely sensitive PC-authoritarians that use violence and shaming to advance their cause. While Google hasn’t harbored the violent leftists protests that we’re seeing at universities, the frequent shaming in TGIF and in our culture has created the same silence, psychologically unsafe environment.

Suggestions

I hope it’s clear that I’m not saying that diversity is bad, that Google or society is 100% fair, that we shouldn’t try to correct for existing biases, or that minorities have the same experience of those in the majority. My larger point is that we have an intolerance for ideas and evidence that don’t fit a certain ideology. I’m also not saying that we should restrict people to certain gender roles; I’m advocating for quite the opposite: treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group (tribalism).

My concrete suggestions are to:

De-moralize diversity.

As soon as we start to moralize an issue, we stop thinking about it in terms of costs and benefits, dismiss anyone that disagrees as immoral, and harshly punish those we see as villains to protect the “victims.”

Stop alienating conservatives.

  • Viewpoint diversity is arguably the most important type of diversity and political orientation is one of the most fundamental and significant ways in which people view things differently.
  • In highly progressive environments, conservatives are a minority that feel like they need to stay in the closet to avoid open hostility. We should empower those with different ideologies to be able to express themselves.
  • Alienating conservatives is both non-inclusive and generally bad business because conservatives tend to be higher in conscientiousness, which is require for much of the drudgery and maintenance work characteristic of a mature company./li>

Confront Google’s biases.

  • I’ve mostly concentrated on how our biases cloud our thinking about diversity and inclusion, but our moral biases are farther reaching than that.
  • I would start by breaking down Googlegeist scores by political orientation and personality to give a fuller picture into how our biases are affecting our culture.

Stop restricting programs and classes to certain genders or races.

  • These discriminatory practices are both unfair and divisive. Instead focus on some of the non-discriminatory practices I outlined.

Have an open and honest discussion about the costs and benefits of our diversity programs.

  • Discriminating just to increase the representation of women in tech is as misguided and biased as mandating increases for women’s representation in the homeless, work-related and violent deaths, prisons, and school dropouts.
  • There’s currently very little transparency into the extend of our diversity programs which keeps it immune to criticism from those outside its ideological echo chamber.
  • These programs are highly politicized which further alienates non-progressives.
  • I realize that some of our programs may be precautions against government accusations of discrimination, but that can easily backfire since they incentivize illegal discrimination.

Focus on psychological safety, not just race/gender diversity.

  • We should focus on psychological safety, which has shown positive effects and should (hopefully) not lead to unfair discrimination.
  • We need psychological safety and shared values to gain the benefits of diversity
  • Having representative viewpoints is important for those designing and testing our products, but the benefits are less clear for those more removed from UX.

De-emphasize empathy.

  • I’ve heard several calls for increased empathy on diversity issues. While I strongly support trying to understand how and why people think the way they do, relying on affective empathy — feeling another’s pain — causes us to focus on anecdotes, favor individuals similar to us, and harbor other irrational and dangerous biases. Being emotionally unengaged helps us better reason about the facts.

Prioritize intention.

  • Our focus on microaggressions and other unintentional transgressions increases our sensitivity, which is not universally positive: sensitivity increases both our tendency to take offense and our self censorship, leading to authoritarian policies. Speaking up without the fear of being harshly judged is central to psychological safety, but these practices can remove that safety by judging unintentional transgressions.
  • Microaggression training incorrectly and dangerously equates speech with violence and isn’t backed by evidence.

Be open about the science of human nature.

  • Once we acknowledge that not all differences are socially constructed or due to discrimination, we open our eyes to a more accurate view of the human condition which is necessary if we actually want to solve problems.

Reconsider making Unconscious Bias training mandatory for promo committees.

  • We haven’t been able to measure any effect of our Unconscious Bias training and it has the potential for overcorrecting or backlash, especially if made mandatory.
  • Some of the suggested methods of the current training (v2.3) are likely useful, but the political bias of the presentation is clear from the factual inaccuracies and the examples shown.
  • Spend more time on the many other types of biases besides stereotypes. Stereotypes are much more accurate and responsive to new information than the training suggests (I’m not advocating for using stereotypes, I [sic] just pointing out the factual inaccuracy of what’s said in the training).

[1] This document is mostly written from the perspective of Google’s Mountain View campus, I can’t speak about other offices or countries.

[2] Of course, I may be biased and only see evidence that supports my viewpoint. In terms of political biases, I consider myself a classical liberal and strongly value individualism and reason. I’d be very happy to discuss any of the document further and provide more citations.

[3] Throughout the document, by “tech”, I mostly mean software engineering.

[4] For heterosexual romantic relationships, men are more strongly judged by status and women by beauty. Again, this has biological origins and is culturally universal.

[5] Stretch, BOLD, CSSI, Engineering Practicum (to an extent), and several other Google funded internal and external programs are for people with a certain gender or race.

[6] Instead set Googlegeist OKRs, potentially for certain demographics. We can increase representation at an org level by either making it a better environment for certain groups (which would be seen in survey scores) or discriminating based on a protected status (which is illegal and I’ve seen it done). Increased representation OKRs can incentivize the latter and create zero-sum struggles between orgs.

[7] Communism promised to be both morally and economically superior to capitalism, but every attempt became morally corrupt and an economic failure. As it became clear that the working class of the liberal democracies wasn’t going to overthrow their “capitalist oppressors,” the Marxist intellectuals transitioned from class warfare to gender and race politics. The core oppressor-oppressed dynamics remained, but now the oppressor is the “white, straight, cis-gendered patriarchy.”

[8] Ironically, IQ tests were initially championed by the Left when meritocracy meant helping the victims of the aristocracy.

[9] Yes, in a national aggregate, women have lower salaries than men for a variety of reasons. For the same work though, women get paid just as much as men. Considering women spend more money than men and that salary represents how much the employees sacrifices (e.g. more hours, stress, and danger), we really need to rethink our stereotypes around power.

[10] “The traditionalist system of gender does not deal well with the idea of men needing support. Men are expected to be strong, to not complain, and to deal with problems on their own. Men’s problems are more often seen as personal failings rather than victimhood, due to our gendered idea of agency. This discourages men from bringing attention to their issues (whether individual or group-wide issues), for fear of being seen as whiners, complainers, or weak.”

[11] Political correctness is defined as “the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against,” which makes it clear why it’s a phenomenon of the Left and a tool of authoritarians.


FOR FURTHER REFERENCE

  1. British Journal of Guidance & CounsellingWomen, careers, and work-life preferences by Catherine Hakim [Article linked to in the original document by J. Damore]
  2. PDF version (also here)

NOTES

  1. Published at The Libertarian EnterpriseNumber 935 – 13 August 2017

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Quote of the Day for Thursday, 20 July 2017

Filed under: Economics, Politics, Principles, Quote of the Day, Reading — Tags: — mikewb1971 @ 4:07 AM (04:07)

It is my contention that this concept of spontaneous order is the central idea of the enlightenment, brought to a pinnacle nine years later by Adam Smith with his invisible hand and applied to life itself by Charles Darwin some decades later. If the English language can get along without a government, why do we so quickly assume that English society cannot organise itself?

To labour the point, today in London roughly 10 million people ate lunch. Working out just how much of each type of food to have available in the right places at the right time to ensure that this happened was a problem of mind-boggling complexity, made all the harder by the fact people made up their mind what to eat mostly at the last minute.

Who was in charge of this astonishing feat? Who is London’s lunch commissioner and why does he get so little credit? Why is this system not subsidised? How can it be so lightly regulated?

The protesters who gather to criticise free enterprise from time to time use Facebook and iPhones to arrange their protest, drink Starbucks and eat Pret, wear shirts and shoes, in some cases even use toothpaste and shampoo before setting out. They swim where they wish to in a sea of possibilities provided by free enterprise.

— Matt Ridley, Free Markets are Revolutionary, Liberating, and Democratic (Foundation for Economic Education [FEE])


Monday, 11 July 2016

No TOR for the Masses?

Recently Techspot India reported that the NSA doesn’t want us civilians using the TOR technology —

NSA classifies Linux Journal readers, Tor and Tails Linux users as “extremists”

Funny how TOR was originally developed by the Naval Research Laboratory and furthered by DARPA. Now that it’s out of the bag, they want to put it back under their exclusive control. Sort of like the internet itself.

Of course, the govvies probably won’t mind too much if political figures with ties to George Soros and the Saudi royal family use it. At least they didn’t seem to mind when a certain former senator turned Secretary of State mishandled classified information on a private home-based server, so I’m guessing that they’ll sign off on corrupt use of the TOR tech as well, just so long as it’s the “right people” using it.

H/T Seth Anderson Bailey


FOR FURTHER REFERENCE

  1. Wikipedia page for Tor
  2. Wikipedia page for TAILS
  3. Wikipedia page for Dark web

NOTES

  1. Approximate reading level – 11.7
  2. Reposted –
    1. Personal blogs and micro-blogs – Diaspora* / Ello / Facebook [page / profile] / Google Plus here and here / Liberty.Me [blog / profile] / Minds / seen.life / Tea Party Community / tsu / Twitter / WordPress.com
    2. Extropy UnboundFacebook / WordPress.com
    3. The Weekly SeditionFacebook / Twitter / WordPress.com
    4. Libertarian Party –
      1. New MexicoLPNM Blog / LPNM Official Facebook page / LPNM Official Facebook group
      2. Bernalillo County, New MexicoLPBC Blog / LPBCNM Official Facebook page / LPBCNM Official Facebook group

Copyright © 2016 Libertarian Party of New Mexico, Libertarian Party of Bernalillo County, New Mexico and Mike Blessing. All rights reserved.
Produced by KCUF Media, a division of Extropy Enterprises.
This blog entry created with medit and Notepad++.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Book Review: Dr. Adder, by K.W. Jeter

Filed under: Reading — Tags: , , — mikewb1971 @ 8:09 AM (08:09)

Maybe it was beyond the pale for 1972 and 1984 . . .

I first heard about Dr. Adder while reading a review of it one of Jim Baen’s New Destines book-magazines. New Destines was published in the 1980s, but I didn’t discover them until the early 1990s at used bookstores.

Anyway, the reviewer said something along the lines of “this is the sickest, most depraved book I’ve ever come across,” and gave a short paragraph on why that was the case (basically, the idea that the title character, Dr. Adder, performs elective surgery on hookers to the specifications of their clients).

For what it’s worth, Dr. Adder might have been considered “sick” and “depraved” when it was originally written (1972) and then published (1984), but today, it’s kind of . . . stale.

For me, the least believable part of the book was the CIA-developed “flashglove,” a prosthetic arm which is placed on the stump where the user’s original arm used to be, where it then connects with the user’s nervous system. How this connection is made (beyond physically joining the unit to the stump) isn’t specified by Jeter. (I guess that’s what this edition’s cover shows — Dr. Adder with the flashglove connected to his arm.) After being attached to the user, the flashglove then gives the user extended sensory abilities (again, how isn’t specified), along with the ability to kill with a touch (the unit emits some some sort of “vibration” that causes flesh and bone to explode).

Why anyone would voluntarily give up an arm and hand for this sort of thing is quite beyond me.

Probably the most notable part of the book was the description of the “Vagina Dentata,” where Adder does his surgical bit and adds sharks’ teeth (filched from the local oceanography labs) to the genitals of a hooker intended for his arch-nemesis, such that said nemesis is castrated immediately after insertion (pp. 89-90). Later, it turns out that this was really the idea of said nemesis, but whatever (p. 201).

The idea of looking into the deepest, darkest part of a person’s soul and making those forbidden, taboo thoughts into tangible reality is a theme that Jeter visits again at least once. See his Star Trek: Deep Space Nine novel Warped, where a special holodeck modification is used thusly.


FOR FURTHER REFERENCE

  1. Dr. Adder on Wikipedia

NOTES

  1. Approximate reading level – 9.5
  2. Reposted –
    1. Personal blogs and micro-blogs – Amazon / Diaspora* / Ello / Facebook [page / profile] / Galaxy2 / Google Plus / Minds / seen.life / tsu / Twitter / WordPress.com

Copyright © 2016 Mike Blessing. All rights reserved.
Produced by KCUF Media, a division of Extropy Enterprises.
This blog entry created with medit and Notepad++.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

So the Catholic Church Says “Spend More” ?

Filed under: Media, Politics, Principles, Reading — Tags: , , , , , , — mikewb1971 @ 6:28 PM (18:28)

Today’s Albuquerque Journal ran an article on page C1 (“Metro & New NM”) — PullTogether kicks off, faces funding skepticism

From the article —

In a separate and somewhat dueling news conference, Archbishop of Santa Fe John C. Wester said he wants state leaders to do more than “sing a jingle,” and to find new revenue sources to pay for programs such as state-assisted child care and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or food stamps.

Now if the IRS were to yank the Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s 501(c)(3) non-profit status so that donations are no longer deductible on the donors’ 1040 (and PIT-1 ?) and the Church were subject to the same sorts of taxation as, say, the rest of us, how much could the State of New Mexico rake in from Wester and his buddies?

If Bishop Wester really cares about “the children” as much as he professes, why doesn’t he cut the check to the State for whatever amount he deems necessary right now?

Or he could directly help those he claims to care about so much — which is preferable from my viewpoint, as that doesn’t further increase the expenses and intrusiveness of Santa Fe, Washington DC, and One Civic Plaza.

Add to that the point that if those who profess to care about poor people so much would simply directly provide the help they say they is necessary instead of lobbying and agitating for a larger, more intrusive, more expensive welfare state, there wouldn’t be as much of an underclass in America needing that help.

Finally, to paraphrase a friend from years ago:

Poverty in the Third World is when there are flies crawling on your kids as they go through a trash heap, looking for whatever.

Poverty in America is when you get that letter from Comcast or DirecTV with “FINAL NOTICE” printed across the top in big letters.


NOTES

  1. Approximate reading level – 18.5
  2. Reposted –
    1. Libertarian Party –
      1. New MexicoLPNM Blog / LPNM Official Facebook page / LPNM Official Facebook group
    2. The Weekly SeditionFacebook / Google Plus / Twitter / WordPress.com

Copyright © 2016 Libertarian Party of New Mexico and Mike Blessing. All rights reserved.
Produced by KCUF Media, a division of Extropy Enterprises.
This blog entry created with Notepad++.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Obama’s Presidential Firsts

Filed under: Humor, Politics, Reading — Tags: , , , , — mikewb1971 @ 6:01 AM (06:01)

Obama’s Presidential Firsts

The Many Accomplishments of President Barack Hussein Obama (r. 2009-2017 (?))

By Tom Ririe

Quit trashing Obama’s accomplishments. He has done more than any other President before him. Here is a list of his impressive accomplishments:

  1. First President to be photographed smoking a joint.
  2. First President to apply for college aid as a foreign student, then deny he was a foreigner.
  3. First President to have a social security number from a state he has never lived in.
  4. First President to preside over a cut to the credit-rating of the United States.
  5. First President to violate the War Powers Act.
  6. First President to be held in contempt of court for illegally obstructing oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
  7. First President to require all Americans to purchase a product from a third party.
  8. First President to spend a trillion dollars on “shovel-ready” jobs when there was no such thing as “shovel-ready” jobs.
  9. First President to abrogate bankruptcy law to turn over control of companies to his union supporters.
  10. First President to by-pass Congress and implement the Dream Act through executive fiat.
  11. First President to order a secret amnesty program that stopped the deportation of illegal immigrants across the U.S., including those with criminal convictions.
  12. First President to demand a company hand-over $20 billion to one of his political appointees.
  13. First President to tell a CEO of a major corporation (Chrysler) to resign.
  14. First President to terminate America’s ability to put a man in space.
  15. First President to cancel the National Day of Prayer and to say that America is no longer a Christian nation.
  16. First President to have a law signed by an auto-pen without being present.
  17. First President to arbitrarily declare an existing law unconstitutional and refuse to enforce it.
  18. First President to threaten insurance companies if they publicly spoke out on the reasons for their rate increases.
  19. First President to tell a major manufacturing company in which state it is allowed to locate a factory.
  20. First President to file lawsuits against the states he swore an oath to protect (AZ, WI, OH, IN).
  21. First President to withdraw an existing coal permit that had been properly issued years ago.
  22. First President to actively try to bankrupt an American industry (coal).
  23. First President to fire an inspector general of AmeriCorps for catching one of his friends in a corruption case.
  24. First President to appoint 45 czars to replace elected officials in his office.
  25. First President to surround himself with radical left wing anarchists.
  26. First President to golf more than 150 separate times in his five years in office.
  27. First President to hide his birth, medical, educational and travel records.
  28. First President to win a Nobel Peace Prize for doing NOTHING to earn it.
  29. First President to go on multiple “global apology tours” and concurrent “insult our friends” tours.
  30. First President to go on over 17 lavish vacations, in addition to date nights and Wednesday evening White House parties for his friends paid for by the taxpayers.
  31. First President to have personal servants (taxpayer funded) for his wife.
  32. First President to keep a dog trainer on retainer for $102,000 a year at taxpayer expense.
  33. First President to fly in a personal trainer from Chicago at least once a week at taxpayer expense.
  34. First President to repeat the Quran and tell us the early morning call of the Azan (Islamic call to worship) is the most beautiful sound on earth.
  35. First President to side with a foreign nation over one of the American 50 states (Mexico vs Arizona).
  36. First President to tell the military men and women that they should pay for their own private insurance because they “volunteered to go to war and knew the consequences.”
  37. Then he was the First President to tell the members of the military that THEY were UNPATRIOTIC for balking at the last suggestion.

I feel much better now. I had been under the impression he hadn’t been doing ANYTHING . . . Such an accomplished individual . . . in the eyes of the ignorant maybe!

H/T Michael Z. Williamson


NOTES

  1. Original article
  2. Reposted –
    1. Personal blogs and micro-blogs – App.net / Diaspora* / Ello / Facebook page / Facebook profile / Google Plus / Grassfire / MeetMe / seen.life / Tea Party Community / tsu / Twitter / WordPress.com
    2. The Weekly SeditionFacebook / Google Plus / Twitter / WordPress.com

Copyright © 2016 Tom Ririe and Mike Blessing. All rights reserved.
Produced by KCUF Media, a division of Extropy Enterprises.
This blog entry created with medit.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

DC and Marvel, Dumping on Their Dinner Plates

Filed under: Media, Reading, Viewing — Tags: , , , , , , , — mikewb1971 @ 8:04 PM (20:04)

Skimming through my Facebook feed, I found the following:

Cosmic Book News: Comic Book Retailers Sound Off On DC & Marvel As Sales Drop

Basically, the author explains how DC and Marvel are running their superhero franchises into the ground, and possibly poisoning that particular well for any other publishers, as well.

The interesting thing is that McGloin attributes this to Marvel and DC offering their same titles in both still-pictures-comic format as well as in audiovisual form (movies and television), when both Marvel and DC were letting their franchises be made into movies and TV shows back in the 1950s and 1960s.

Rather, I suspect that we’re seeing the same sort of thing that happened in the mid-1990s, when Marvel began rebooting its franchises (I remember them starting to playing these games with the X-Men in 1994.) and putting out multiple versions of the same issue, with different “collector edition” covers (especially the foil-covered ones!).

Big Bang Comics in Ireland put it rather succintly:

And I’ve heard the tired line before “justifying” the periodic reboots from these clowns:

These characters are so endearing and established . . .

To me, that’s equivocation for “we’re too lazy to develop any new characters.”

Case in point — the Star Trek franchise.

Back in 1985 and 1986, Gene Roddenberry and associates were working on bringing Star Trek back to television, but Paramount wasn’t keen on paying the higher salaries that the 1960s Original Series could command. So they went with a cast of actors not known for being in the science fiction genre. Rather than trying to cast these actors in the roles of the Original Series, Roddenberry created a whole new cast, ship, etc.

Did it pay off for Roddenberry and Paramount? I’d say so. The Next Generation ran for SEVEN seasons, as compared to The Original SeriesTHREE seasons.

Even better — The Next Generation had two series spun off from it (Deep Space Nine and Voyager), each of which had a cast separate from The Next Generation, and each of which ran for seven seasons.

Hell, the prequel series to the franchise (Enterprise) ran for four seasons.

When Paramount / CBS (whoever owns the franchise at this point) did decide to reboot it in 2008 and “bring back the original characters” with new actors, they wrote the script in such a way that picked up from previous endeavours, instead of simply blowing them off wholesale.

Brian Hibbs at Comic Book Resources has this to say:

We have to be mindful that the marketplace is changing, and that we have to change with it. I see a market that is moving away from line-driven buying, that is growing tired of the constant cycle of relaunch and reboot, that has far more options for their time and mindshare than ever before, and that can meet their craving for superhero material increasingly in other media. And that has, most dangerously, had their long-standing habits interrupted by their very pushers.

So far, the ONLY franchise reboot that I’ve seen that was significantly better than the original was the Battlestar Galactica remake of 2003-2009.

So far, out of all of the superhero titles currently published by DC and Marvel, the only one that does anything for me any more is Injustice: Gods Among Us. That’s because when someone gets killed, the writers try to avoid coming up with some cockamamie excuse to resurrect the character(s).

It seems to me that the executives at DC and Marvel assume their customer base to be composed of idiots who will buy into anything with their (the executives’) stamp of approval upon it.

Basically, this is the same sort of logic that Heckler & Koch GmbH used when they pitched their neutered version of their G-36 (the infamous flop called the SL8) — they figured that the HK fanboys (I’m guilty of being a bit of one myself back in the 1990s) would shell out hard cash for anything with a red “HK” stamped on one side of the stock or pistol grip. If that wasn’t a miscalculation, I don’t know what does qualify as one.

Will this endless cycle of reboot and remake ultimately bring down the DC and Marvel movie and television businesses, too?

Should I even care?

H/T Kevin Tuma


NOTES

  1. Approximate reading level – 13.0
  2. Reposted –
    1. Personal blogs and micro-blogs – App.net / Diaspora* / Ello / Facebook page / Facebook profile / Google Plus / seen.life / tsu / Twitter / WordPress.com

Copyright © 2016 Mike Blessing. All rights reserved.
Produced by KCUF Media, a division of Extropy Enterprises.
This blog entry created with medit.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

[Garrison Center] Arbitration Isn’t The Problem

Filed under: Media, Politics, Principles, Reading — Tags: , , , , , — mikewb1971 @ 10:26 PM (22:26)

Arbitration Isn’t The Problem

November 5, 2015 — Thomas L. Knapp

Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Robert Gebeloff of the New York Times claim to have discovered “a far-reaching power play orchestrated by American corporations” (“Arbitration Everywhere, Stacking the Deck of Justice,” October 31[1]). They’re missing the forest for the trees. Arbitration is not the problem.

Corporate preference for private arbitration instead of litigation in government courts is nothing new. The twist in the Times expose is that arbitration clauses have evolved to make it more difficult for dissatisfied customers to band together and bring particular types of suits: “Class actions” in which numerous complaints are bundled together, reducing the plaintiffs’ costs and resulting in huge potential aggregated damage awards.

In recent years, arbitration clauses have begun specifying individual arbitration. Corporate attorneys know that most customers won’t spend hundreds or thousands of dollars arbitrating $10 complaints. If the complaints can’t be aggregated, they’re not worth pursuing from a financial standpoint. A win for the corporations, a loss for consumers whose complaints don’t pass the financial test.

What Silver-Greenberg and Gebeloff leave out are two important consumer tools: Information and choice.

Their story opens with reference to “a clause that most customers probably miss” on “page 5 of a credit card contract.”

The reason most customers probably miss that clause is that most customers don’t bother to read contracts pertaining to small-money matters, or have them reviewed by attorneys, before signing them. That’s a choice. So is the decision to sign something one hasn’t read.

The Times piece quotes F. Paul Bland Jr. of Public Justice, a “national consumer advocate group.” Bland claims that “[c]orporations are allowed to strip people of their constitutional right to go to court.” No, people are allowed to voluntarily waive their right to go to court, in return for valuable considerations. If they do so from voluntary ignorance, that’s their fault and no one else’s.

It’s not that complicated:

If you don’t want to commit to arbitration in general, or to individual arbitration in particular, don’t sign contracts committing yourself to those things.

If you consider reading and understanding a contract before you sign it to be too much work, don’t complain when your decision to remain ignorant comes back to bite you.

If you really, really want something, but the only way to get it is to accept an arbitration clause, then make your choice. Do without that thing or to accept the clause. Nobody owes you a smart phone or a credit card or whatever. Take the deal or don’t take the deal. Don’t blame arbitration itself, which is as good in some cases, and better in most, than resort to government courts. Remember, it was government that made the corporations so powerful in the first place.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


FOR FURTHER REFERENCE

  1. http://nytimes.com/2015/11/01/business/dealbook/arbitration-everywhere-stacking-the-deck-of-justice.html

NOTES

  1. Approximate reading level – 12.3
  2. Original article
  3. Reposted –
    1. Personal blogs and micro-blogs – App.net / Diaspora* / Ello / Facebook page / Facebook profile / Google Plus / tsu / Twitter / WordPress.com
    2. Libertarian Party –
      1. New MexicoLPNM Blog / LPNM Official Facebook page / LPNM Official Facebook group
      2. Bernalillo County, New MexicoLPBC Blog / LPBCNM Official Facebook page / LPBCNM Official Facebook group
    3. The Weekly SeditionFacebook / Google Plus / Twitter / WordPress.com

Produced by KCUF Media, a division of Extropy Enterprises. Webmaster Mike Blessing.
This blog entry created with Notepad++ and KWrite.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Notes from New Mexico Journey Nov-Dec 2015 [AAA-NM]

Filed under: Life, Preparedness, Reading — Tags: , , — mikewb1971 @ 2:42 AM (02:42)

  1. p.4 — “New Directions” column by Ana Gonzalez
    1. Use the new safety features included with new cars and trucks, but don’t get complacent with them.
    2. Still pay attention to your blind spots, your mirrors, the road, etc.
    3. Good advice, but there’s always someone who will figure that they can let it slip “this one time.”
  2. p.8 — “Here to There” app for Android.
  3. p.10 — “Smart Coverage” — Be Aware of Staged Crashes
    1. Get all of the information you can on the other driver(s) and vehicle(s), road conditions, as well as statements from witnesses, etc.
    2. Be wary of unsolicited tow trucks, repair offers, etc.
  4. p.15 — “Interstate Icon”
    1. Apparently, every winter, the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority [AMAFCA] builds a 13-15-foot tall “snowman” out of tumbleweeds painted white, with a black-painted 55-gallon drum as a tophat. Then they leave it on the roadside of westbound I-40 near the Big I (where I-40 intersects with I-25). I guess AMAFCA needs to keep its employees “busy” during the winter months . . . ?

FOR FURTHER REFERENCE

  1. New Mexico Journey

NOTES

  1. Approximate reading level – 9.0

Copyright © 2015 Mike Blessing. All rights reserved.
Produced by KCUF Media, a division of Extropy Enterprises.
This blog entry created with Notepad++ and KWrite.

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