Snowflake Vin Scully Boycotts Football

Vin Scully said Saturday night that he will “never watch another NFL game” in response to the ongoing demonstrations by some players during the national anthem.

It’s interesting that Scully is such as an easily offended snowflake that entertainers kneeling on one knee bothers him but the massive brain damage that the players suffer like Christians being fed to lions in ancient Rome doesn’t bother him. Maybe if the NFL hired former players with brain damage to sell peanuts and popcorn in the stands they understand better what is happening below on the field. Maybe the NFL halftime shows should feature former players, too.

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California May Be Stupid but We Need Many Experiments

Catalonia is in the news because it wants to split from Spain but many other areas such as California need to govern themselves, too. Good science requires many experiments and political science is no exception. It’s absurd for California, New York, and New England to suffer Donald Trump and for Texas and Utah to suffer Barack Obama. The United States is too big to govern and should split. After California gains independence it should split into 4 pieces with each having the population of Switzerland. China, India, and Russia are enormous backward countries that the United States resembles more with each passing year.

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Catalonia and the Rise of Europe Over China

Marian Tupy writes of the Catalonian secession movement:

Since their separation, tensions between Czechs and Slovaks have disappeared and the two are, once again, the very best of friends. The Czechs no longer subsidize their poorer cousins in the east, while Slovaks no longer blame their problems on their “big brother” in the west. Everyone has won.

Independence can be a good way to lower tensions between peoples who no longer wish to remain a part of the same political entity and an excellent way to increase inter-jurisdictional competition, thereby allowing for greater institutional experimentation.

Prior to the rise of the European nation states in the 16th and 17th centuries, Europe was sub-divided into hundreds of different states and statelets. Germany alone consisted of over 300 different political entities prior to Napoleon’s consolidation of the territories in 1806.

These states offered their residents different sets of rights and responsibilities. They competed with one another in terms of policies, including religious tolerance and taxation. In fact, it was this territorial disunity that, scholars argue, enabled Europe to zoom past heavily centralized China to become the world’s leading economy.

The more governments split, the more citizens will benefit. Like China 800 years ago, the richest country in the world at the time, the United States is excessively centralized. The country should expel California, Texas, Florida, New York, and New England. The United States was created to defend against Britain and France but they are no longer belligerent. The smallest of the new countries, New England, will include 14 million people, a population nearly double that of Switzerland and larger than 38 of the 48 countries in Europe such as Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Greece, Portugal, and Finland.

Great Britain is robbing the Welsh and English to bribe the Scots to stay in the empire while Canada robs the English provinces to bribe Quebec to remain. Even a smaller country like Belgium would be more efficient if it were split into French and Dutch countries, each with population greater than Ireland.

Singapore was poor when it was expelled from Malaysia in 1965 but has become one of the richest countries in the world. Norway is richer than the Sweden it broke from in 1904 and Panama is much richer than the Columbia it split from in 1903. Taiwan and Hong Kong are much richer than China. Most, if not all, polities benefit from decentralizing because the closer the government is to the people, the more efficient and less corrupt.

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Medical School Quotas Hurts Everyone

Commentary magazine published, Medical School Quotas and National Health:Discrimination that Hurts Us All, in 1953, a problem that persists 64 years later.

America’s single most important welfare problem—most authorities have long agreed—is the endangering of the nation’s health by a shortage of medical care and particularly of doctors; and this supposedly organizationally ingenious nation has not yet found a way of improving this situation.

Attorney Steven Babitsky says the same problem persists today and he
helps foreign and domestic doctors navigate the absurdly complex legal system.

The United States has both a critical physician shortage and one of the most advanced health care systems in the world. Those two factors, plus the traditional attractions the country has to offer, make the United States one of the top destinations for the world’s best medical school graduates. But even though the country is not producing enough physicians and even though it will take decades to reach the needed number of home-grown physicians, the U.S. immigration system makes it difficult for international physicians to come to the United States to work. To do so, most international physicians must first secure a visa to work in a residency or a fellowship training program. In fact, more than 25% of the physicians now training in residency and fellowship programs are international medical graduates. Next, these physicians typically need to secure a work visa to remain in the United States and go into private practice or other work opportunities. Securing first the visa to train in the United States and then the visa to work in the country are difficult tasks, and there are many pitfalls along the way that stifle a physician’s aspirations to train and practice in the United States.

Most physicians seeking to enter the United States to practice medicine must initially engage in training before they can move into private, academic, or other clinically oriented practice areas. This is largely because licensing requirements in each state require training in the United States, and without a license, a visa is not an option. For the vast majority of international physicians, the first step to coming to the United States involves getting accepted into a residency or a fellowship program.

Foreign doctors should be allowed to practice without completing a residency. If their customers don’t require that experience, the government should leave them alone to freely live as they see fit. President Trump wrongly claims that we allow too many immigrants but we disparage foreigners who could enrich the country.

The United States has many political problems that have persisted since 1953. The unresponsiveness of the polity dooms the country to permanent stagnation. Splitting it into many countries is the only viable solution and ejecting California would be a good first step. They hate President Trump and might be happy to secede.

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How Much is the Dividend From Clean Government?

The dividend from clean government is at least $3000 per person per year. While the European Union, China, Japan, India, Brazil, and the United States believe that printing money and incurring debt are the secret to prosperity, Switzerland has done the opposite, carrying a light debt load, creating a large demand for the Swiss franc, allowing them to print francs and earn a large profit. According to the Wall Street Journal, Switzerland’s First-World Problem: What to Do With $750 Billion:

Thanks to its efforts to weaken the franc, the Swiss central bank has amassed $750 billion in stocks, bonds and cash.

That has provoked a lively debate in Switzerland: What should the country do with all of that? And whose money is it, anyway?

For now, the Swiss National Bank holds on to it, and invests it around the world—but not in Switzerland. It held $2.7 billion in Apple Inc. stock, for instance, at the end of March. Some lawmakers and many economists think a sovereign-wealth fund created outside the SNB should invest a chunk at home.

The SNB’s profit last year was 24.5 billion francs ($25.4 billion), or about $3,000 per Swiss resident….

The SNB makes bank because so many foreigners want the safety of Swiss assets and have poured cash into Switzerland. To keep the franc from rocketing up and damaging Swiss exporters, the central bank has been printing Swiss francs and selling them. The consequence: The central bank owns buckets of foreign assets, acquired essentially for free.

The Federal Reserve Banks of the United States remitted $107b of profits to the central government, or $331 per resident. In other words, Swiss residents earned 9x as much as USA residents.

The Swiss not only earn higher government profits and pay less interest on government debt but also live 4 years longer. Swiss men live longer than men in any country. They achieve their longer life span while spending 12% of GDP on health care while the USA spends 18%. Switzerland accepts the qualifications of European doctors while the USA requires a second residency, greatly increasing costs and discouraging foreigners from relieving the shortage of doctors. One reason that the Swiss might live longer is that 37% sport a body mass index greater than 25 compared to 67% in the USA.

The Swiss also earn more money, about 10% more GDP per person.

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Driving the Pikes Peak Highway

Mary and I drove to the summit of Pikes Peak last month.

Pikes Sign 1
Pikes Sign 2
Mountain Map
Summit Panorama
Rocks 2
Pikes Summit
Pikes Rocks
Bighorn cropped
Black Bear cropped
Mary Crystal Reservoir
Bigfoot cropped
Bigfoot desc cropped

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Chaos Monkeys, a Silicon Valley Story

Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley is a fascinating book for people like Mary and I who haven’t lived in the San Francisco Bay area for many years. The author, Antonio Garcia Martinez, writes in a unique way. Take note, Donald Trump fans, Martinez is the son of Cuban immigrants, and we’d be poorer without this book and the contributions Martinez made to the tech industry. The rest of this post is his words from the book and there is also a good interview of him on YouTube.

* * *

Like the masters of old buying servants off the ship, tech companies are required to spend nontrivial sums for foreign hires. Many companies, particularly smaller startups, don’t want the hassle, and hire only American citizens, an imposed nativism nobody talks about, and which is possibly illegal. Big companies, which know they’ll be around for the years it will take to recoup their investment, are the real beneficiaries of this peonage system.

Large but unexciting tech outfits like Oracle, Intel, Qualcomm, and IBM that have trouble recruiting the best American talent hire foreign engineers by the boatload. Consultancy firms that bill inflated project costs by the man-hour, such as Accenture and Deloitte, shanghai their foreign laborers, who can’t quit without being eventually deported. By paying them relatively slim H-1B-stipulated salaries while eating the fat consultancy fees, such companies get rich off the artificial employment monopoly created by the visa barrier. It’s a shit deal for the immigrant visa holders, but they put up with the five or so years of stultifying, exploitive labor as an admissions ticket to the tech First World. After that, they’re free. Everyone abandons his or her place at the oar inside the Intel war galley immediately, but there’s always someone waiting to take over.

Strictly speaking, H-1B visas are non-immigrant and temporary, and so this hazing ritual of immigrant initiation is unlawful. Yet everyone’s on the take, including the government, which charges thousands in filing fees. The entire system is so riven with institutionalized lies, political intrigue, and illegal but overlooked manipulation, it’s a wonder the American tech industry exists at all.

* * *

As a piece of clickbait-y news, want to know which is the most expensive word in the English language? Around 2011 or so, and probably still to this day, the priciest word in the global auction on words was “mesothelioma.” This tongue twister is a rare form of lung disease common among former asbestos-plant workers. Thanks to a series of class-action lawsuits against former factory owners, filed by plaintiffs’ attorneys who make fortunes on contingency fees, the value of this word was bid up as high as $90 per click. Want to screw a slimy lawyer? Google “mesothelioma” and start randomly clicking on the ads that appear. You’re costing a lawyer almost a whole benjamin every time you do that.

Lung-cancer words, despite their superlative cost, are still a pretty niche market. What are the costliest Google keywords among relatively high-volume keywords? The ranking changes, but the top ten is always composed of some combination of “insurance,” “loans,” “mortgage,” “classes,” “credit,” “lawyer,” and so on. These are Google’s moneymakers, which pay for the Android phones, the Chrome browser, the self-driving cars, the flying Wi-Fi balloons, and whatever weird, geeky, philanthropic shit the company is up to recently.

As part of our push to woo Facebook, I had been getting Google Alerts on the company for months. One in particular had caught my attention. In October 2010, a mother in Florida had shaken her baby to death, as the baby would interrupt her FarmVille games with crying. A mother destroyed with her own hands what she’d been programmed over aeons to love, just to keep on responding to Facebook notifications triggered by some idiot game. Products that cause mothers to murder their infants in order to use them more, assuming they’re legal, simply cannot fail in the world. Facebook was legalized crack, and at Internet scale. Such a company could certainly figure out a way to sell shoes. Twitter was cute and all, but it didn’t have a casualty rate yet, no matter how much this Lady Gaga person was tweeting.

* * *

Like Jesus speaking to his apostles, Facebook often imparted nuggets of its culture in the form of parables. The parable here concerned a misguided Facebook employee who leaked news of a soon-to-be-launched product to the tech press. Zuck reacted via a to-all email with the subject line “Please resign,” an alarming presence in anybody’s inbox. The email, which was projected onto the screen in Pong and read line by line, encouraged whoever had leaked to resign immediately, and excoriated the perpetrator for his or her base moral nature, highlighting how he or she had betrayed the team. The moral to this story, a parable of the prodigal son but with an unforgiving father, was clear: fuck with Facebook and security guards would be hustling you out the door like a rowdy drunk at the late-night Taco Bell.

* * *

Rather than harshly regulate every step of this sexual-legal minefield, Facebook preferred to lay down basic guidelines. Delicately, but unambiguously, our HR Man stated that we could ask a coworker out once, but no meant no, and you had no more lets after that. After one ask, you were done, and anything beyond that was subject to sanction.

* * *

Many cool Valley companies have engineering-first cultures, but Facebook took it to a different level. The engineers ran the place, and so long as you shipped code and didn’t break anything (too often), you were golden. The spirit of subversive hackery guided everything. In the early days, a Georgia college kid named Chris Putnam created a virus that made your Facebook profile resemble MySpace, then the social media incumbent. It went rampant and started deleting user data as well. Instead of siccing the FBI dogs on Putnam, Facebook cofounder Dustin Moskovitz invited him for an interview, and offered him a job. He went on to become one of Facebook’s more famous and rage-filled engineers. That was the uniquely piratical attitude: if you could get shit done and quickly, nobody cared much about credentials or traditional legalistic morality. The hacker ethos prevailed above all.

* * *

For years Google had been famously dismissive of Facebook, the fortified redoubts of its search monopoly making it feel untouchable. But as the one-way parade of expensive talent from Google to Facebook continued with no end in sight, Google got nervous. Companies are like countries: the populations really vote only with their feet, either coming or going. Google instituted a policy whereby any desirable Googler who got a Facebook offer would have it beaten instantly by a heaping Google counteroffer. This, of course, caused a rush of Googlers to interview at Facebook, only to use the resulting offer as a bargaining chip to improve their Google pay. But many were legitimately leaving. The Googlers at Facebook were a bit like the Greeks during the rise of the Roman Empire: they brought lots of civilization and tech culture with them, but it was clear who was going to run the world in the near future.

* * *

To me, only the man who needed nothing was truly free. Until I was financially independent (e.g., fuck-you money), or the captain of a profitable enterprise, I was merely a slave whose bondage was worth one or another price, locked in as much by diapers and tuition costs as by a vesting schedule.

* * *

As a geographic tangent: New Zealand was commonly used as a test bed for new user-facing products. It was perfect due to its English-language usage, its relative isolation in terms of the social graph (i.e., most friend links were internal to the country), and, frankly, its lack of newsworthiness, so any gossip or reporting of new Facebook features ran a low risk of leaking back to the real target markets of the United States and Europe. Aotearoa is the original Maori word for New Zealand, which roughly translated means “Facebook test set.” Thus does that verdant island nation, graced with stunning fjords and clear alpine lakes, sample whatever random product twiddle a twenty-three-year-old Facebook engineer in Menlo Park dreams up.

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A Sad Song About a Tractor Rollover

According to Modern Farmer:

Tractors now claim some 125 lives a year in the U.S., according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), representing the biggest danger on a farm….

Tractor rollovers. Grain suffocation. Deadly fumes. Goring. Electrocution. Heatstroke. Farming is one of the deadliest professions in the world.

Unfortunately, farm safety is an issue rarely discussed outside of agricultural circles. Out of 335,000 workplace fatalities worldwide, over half occur in agriculture, according to the International Labour Organization. The particular hazards vary around the globe — in Sweden, livestock accidents are a major killer, while a number of Kenyan farmers have died from a toxic corn fungus — but the danger is a constant.

In some countries, farming accounts for twice as many deaths as all other industries. Agriculture has been the deadliest U.S. industry every year for the last decade, beating out mining and construction in deaths per 100,000 workers.

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Do You Use “Concerning” as an Adjective?

If so, you should be aware that it is a poor use of the language and that there are many better alternatives. Instead of saying, “The latest tweet by President is very concerning”, substitute alarming, bothersome, disquieting, distressing, disturbing, nerve-racking, perturbing, scary, troubling, unsettling, upsetting, worrisome, or worrying. Daily Writing Tips discusses it fully.

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How to Cope With Cops

Increasing numbers of people are being stopped while driving and being arrested so Dale Carson, a criminal defense lawyer who was a cop in Miami for 8 years, wrote
Arrest-Proof Yourself to help people cope with the police state. The following are excerpts from the book.

The system needs you. It’s huge. It’s no small chore keeping the jails filled; government employees at work; and those tax dollars, fines, and court costs rolling in. The problem nowadays is that, in many cities, serious crime is way down. The cops are great at arresting the really bad guys, and state legislatures have passed stiff sentencing guidelines that put felons away for decades. What you’ll never see, however, is a headline like this: “Crime Down—Judges Laid Off, Cops Furloughed, Jails to Close.”

One of the “advancements” in law enforcement that truly disgusts me is the extension of vehicle laws to bicycles and the use of proactive policing techniques to pile felony charges onto children. Every criminal attorney in my city has cases of children arrested and jailed for such crimes as riding a bicycle at night without a light, riding without a helmet, and riding with their buddies on the handlebars. This enforcement is highly selective and never, ever occurs in wealthy neighborhoods. Poor kids, primarily poor black kids, are just Hoovered up into the system in industrial-sized quantities.

Naturally, this takes much of the fun out of riding bikes, which for most kids is their first taste of freedom from their parents and an important stage in growing up. These bicycle laws were passed by city commissions and state legislatures to protect children’s safety. Unfortunately, the welfare state has an unfortunate tendency to morph into the police state. For police, bicycle safety laws have become another means of making more arrests and racking up more points. Children need to stay free and out of jail long enough to grow up, straighten up, and become citizens. Help them out.

Schools already look like prisons, with surveillance cameras, electric locks, entry and exit recorders, armed police, and escape-proof detention rooms. Several Texas school districts now mandate that students carry a magnetic card with an embedded Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip. These cards track students’ locations, supposedly for safety reasons. Students, who can be punished for not carrying their cards, are freaking out. There are certain mildly naughty teenaged activities (smooching, sneaking a cigarette, masturbating) that need to be done in secret. They need to happen without children being busted, tossed into juvie jail, and given a permanent arrest record in the FBI’s database. In Surveillance High, there’s no place to run, no place to hide, and no place to grow up.

Plate scanners make possible thousands of easy arrests and generate gushers of revenue from traffic tickets, court fines, jail charges, and the unending fees of the probation and parole system. (See Arrested for the detailed list). The decrease in arrests initially caused by the Supreme Court’s prohibition against traffic-stop searches has been more than offset by the increase in scanner-generated arrests. A plate scanner that costs thousands can pay for itself in a few shifts. Every arrest-hungry patrol officer, and every dollar-hungry tax collector, is lusting for one.

Police use the devices to scan for criminal offenses, arrest warrants, detainers (wanted for questioning by detectives or other agencies), BOLOs (Be On the Lookout for), stolen vehicles, traffic violations, and, increasingly, administrative offenses such as unpaid, expired, suspended, or revoked driver’s licenses, unpaid traffic and parking tickets, unpaid child support, and probation and parole violations. Cops soon may be able to scan for professional and business license problems; zoning violations; unpaid property, sales, and income taxes; even unpaid driver’s insurance and health insurance premiums. There are few legal barriers to using police as revenue agents and bureaucratic paperwork checkers. This mission creep is alarming. Citizens need more than a little wiggle room with government.

As you pass under these cameras and scanners, you can sense the binary code flashing along fiber-optic cables, beaming up to satellites and bouncing among computers and servers from sea to shining sea. The machines are whispering to each other. They’re thinking; they’re planning. It’s Skynet, coming alive. Soon there will be no place to run and no place to hide in America, the Land of the Surveilled.

Real bad guys share one characteristic: they’re hard to catch by cops driving around in cars. Here’s my beef with proactive policing as currently practiced. For every big crook caught, thousands of petty offenders get hammered for smoking weed, flipping off a police officer, and playing their stereos too high. Processing these people endlessly through the criminal justice system is abusive, not to mention expensive. Too many people’s rights get trampled.

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