Saturday, July 8, 2017


A ship in port is safe; but that is not what ships are built for. -Grace Hopper, computer scientist and US Navy Rear Admiral (1906-1992)

Some 70 percent of young men are ineligible for military service "because of either education — they can't read or write — or health, mostly obesity and diabetes. The number comes from a Pentagon study a few years back.  Other factors include taking prescription drugs for ADHD, or having inappropriate tattoos or piercings.

From Barnett: The political theory announced in the Declaration of Independence can be summed up by the proposition I mentioned above: First come rights then comes government.  According to this view: The rights of individuals do not originate with any government, but preexist its formation. The equal protection of these rights is both the purpose and first duty of government.
These rights are thus protected from the majority.

An interesting idea from a new paper by Kahn: "The results indicate that scientists, engineers or technicians were not well-represented among the cadre of important British inventors, and their contributions remained unspecialized until very late in the nineteenth century. The informal institution of apprenticeship and learning on the job provided effective means to enable productivity and innovation. For developing countries today, the implications are that costly investments in specialized human capital resources might be less important than incentives for creativity, flexibility, and the ability to make incremental adjustments that can transform existing technologies into inventions and innovations that are appropriate for prevailing domestic conditions."

Who is...Jessica Mendoza?

A technology developed by Purdue researchers could provide an "instantly rechargeable" method that is safe, affordable and environmentally friendly for recharging electric and hybrid vehicle batteries through a quick and easy process similar to refueling a car at a gas station. John Cushman, Purdue University distinguished professor of earth, atmospheric and planetary science and a professor of mathematics, presented the research findings "Redox reactions in immiscible-fluids in porous media -- membraneless battery applications" at the recent International Society for Porous Media 9th International Conference in Rotterdam, Netherlands. 

At age 70, President Donald Trump is the oldest president to assume office.

The citizens of a democracy ought to understand how a commercial society (or a market economy) works, because such knowledge is a powerful antidote to many of the absurd policy proposals that special interests and thoughtless people press upon their governments.--Heyne

Certainly nowadays – perhaps in every age – government is not what it claims to be (competent, protective, and just), and it is what it claims not to be (bungling, menacing, and unjust).  In actuality, it is a vast web of deceit and humbug, and not for a good purpose, either.  Indeed, its true purposes are as reprehensible as its noble claims are false.  Its stock in trade is pretense.  The velvet glove of its countless claims of benevolence scarcely conceals its iron fist of violence and threats of more violence.  It wants to be loved, but it will settle for being feared.  The one thing it will not do is simply leave us alone.--Higgs 

The new novel by the furious Arundhati Roy is out.

A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found not so long ago that almost half of Americans die nearly broke. Of the general population, 46% of retirees die with savings of $10,000 or less. But that number climbs to 57% among retirees who are single.

Golden oldie:

In Cell, researchers Le Chang and Doris Tsao claim to have uncovered "The Code for Facial Identity in the Primate Brain." They develop a model representing each face as a vector in a 50-dimensional "face-space," and show that the firing rate for each face-sensitive neuron represents the location along a single axis through this space. This allows them to accurately predict the appearance of a viewed face from the collective recorded activity of the neurons. This work is a major advance in the decoding of complex neural representations, and refutes exemplar-based models of face recognition.

It is often said by the Left that success in the West has been the result of exploitation of vulnerable poor. McCloskey disagrees: "If exploiting poor people of color had been such a grand idea for rich white people, such as certain white Brazilians and white South Africans, then the white people in such countries would now be a lot better off than whites in Germany or Portugal or England or Holland, or the United States or Australia – places from which their ancestors came or to which their ancestors went.  They are not, and were not." 
She is not denying exploitation existed, she is saying that the tremendous growth in the West dwarfed any effective advantage of exploitation.

Hedrick Smith wrote in The Russians (1976) that, according to Soviet statistics, one fourth of the value of agricultural production in 1973 was produced on the private plots peasants were allowed (2% of the whole arable land).  In the 1980s, 3% of the land was in private plots which produced more than a quarter of the total agricultural output, i.e. private plots produced somewhere around 1600% and 1100% as much as common ownership plots in 1973 and 1980. Soviet figures claimed that the Soviets produced 20–25% as much as the U.S. per farmer in the1980s. (wiki)

Kathy Griffin's stunt has provoked appropriate outrage. But she was probably confused about the boundaries the American Left saw in criticizing Trump. For example, these events provoked little outrage:

  • Shortly after the election, #assassinatetrump and #rapemelania started trending on Twitter.

  • The former PacketSled CEO wrote on his Facebook page in November: "I'm going to kill the president-elect. Getting a sniper rifle and perching myself where it counts."

  • At the January women's march in Washington, D.C., Madonna said "Yes I'm angry, yes I'm outraged, yes I have thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House."
  • In March, rapper Snoop Dogg released a video in which he points a gun at a "Clown Trump" and pulls the trigger. At an annual convention in May, Outgoing California Democratic Party chairman John Burton led the audience in a chant "F--- Donald Trump."
  • Anyone wondering about Jessica Mendoza's abilities as a baseball analyst need only have watched the NBC Sunday game between the Pirates and the Mets. She was excellent--and charming. I doubt any YouTube clips are available because Boone was so dramatically inferior--and sometimes stupid--they probably have been destroyed.

    Trump got some support recently from, of all places, MSNBC.

    First on the European contribution to their defense:

    "While the U.S. spends more than 3 percent of its massive GDP on defense, Germany barely spends more than 1 percent according to the most recent data from the World Bank. France spends just about 2 percent, and the U.K.'s defense spending is under 2 percent of its GDP. And when you consider the fact that the U.S. has a much larger economy than any of those three European powers, the difference in real dollar amounts is huge.
    The fact is that Western Europe's extensive and elaborate welfare state relies heavily on not having to foot major defense costs. Whether its socialized medicine, hefty unemployment stipends, or guaranteed housing, the European budget simply can't afford to pay for all of those things and boost its defense spending at the same time."
    Second, Global Warming:

    "The White House is expected to say the United States is backing out of the Paris climate deal. Just like President Trump's call for more European defense spending, this move pushes back hard on some of European political class' most dominant financial obligations and political narratives of the last 25 years...the growing number of career bureaucrats get to keep on "working" for environmental improvements with almost no accountability. Compared to the war on terror, which does demand more tangible results, this is a much more politically pliable issue. For the political class, this is a win/win in perpetuity."

    Both illegal and prescription drugs are found in the bodies of fatally-injured drivers—a good source of data, since they are tested more often than drivers in non-fatal crashes—about 43 percent of the time. Alcohol above the legal limit, meanwhile, was found in just 37 percent of the drivers. That’s a stark turnaround from 2005, when alcohol was the bigger culprit, detected in 41 percent of traffic deaths, compared to just 28 percent for drugs.

    As of 2014, there were 24 births per 1,000 girls under 19 - down 10 percent in a year, according to a new CDC report. That is half the rate recorded in 2007, and a third of the rate in 1991.

    Unalienable:  not transferable to another or not capable of being taken away or denied; inalienable: Inherent in the U.S. constitution is the belief that all people are born with an unalienable right to freedom.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, 
    that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, 
    that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
    -- Thomas Jefferson, et al., United States Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

    Unalienable was first recorded in the early 1600s. Historians have pointed out that in
    a draft of the Declaration of Independence, its author Thomas Jefferson wrote “certain
    inherent and inalienable rights,” choosing to use alliteration. But Jefferson’s wording and
    spelling were later changed to “certain unalienable Rights.” To add to the apparent
    mystery, on a wall in the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., the phrase appears as
    “certain inalienable rights,” and inalienable is the spelling found in most modern quotations
    from the Declaration. In one way, the solution to the puzzle is simple: until sometime in
    the 1830s, unalienable was the overwhelmingly preferred spelling. But since then,
    inalienable gradually replaced it. Today, were it not for our annual commemoration of the
    Declaration of Independence, the spelling unalienable would be all but forgotten. In
    another way, the answer to the puzzle is less straightforward: it is evidence of the
    constantly competing and changing word forms found in English. There are many other
    examples of unruly rivalries involving the prefixes in- (from Latin) and un- (from Old and
    Middle English), both jostling for dominance in the formation of “not” compounds.

    Liberty and capitalism have gone together; communism and serfdom have gone together.  These are the facts.--Thomas Wilson

    The Coleman Report--mandated by the Civil Rights Act--found, among many other things, that 50 years ago in both math and reading the average black student in grade 12 placed in the 13th percentile of the score distribution, meaning that 87 percent of white students in grade 12 scored ahead of the average black 12th grader.
    But 50 years later, that gap has barely narrowed, the analysis shows. The average 12th grade black student, according to data from the 2013 National Assessment for Educational Progress, placed only in the 19th percentile. In reading, the achievement gap has improved slightly more than in math, but after a half century, the average black student scores at just the 22nd percentile.

    America has at least 200 years of shale gas, which is clean burning, efficient and made in America. We have 500 years of coal, and the emissions of pollutants from coal plants have fallen by more than 50% in recent decades.  Should we allow technology and innovation to make it cleaner still through gasification, carbon capture and so on?
    Because of the advances in drilling technologies, the value of American oil, gas and coal resources that are currently recoverable is estimated at near $50 trillion — which is more than double our national debt. The Paris climate accord would require America to keep this massive treasure chest of resources in the ground, never to be used.

    AAAaaaannnnnnddddd......A Graph:

    The bottom yellow line represents the current recovery, which has produced less GDP growth than prior cycles. But in terms of length, it is now tied for third place, surpassed only by the 1961–69 and 1991–2000 expansions.

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