Linky Friday: Learnin’ & Earnin’

Learning, The Early Years:

preschool photo

Image by andrewmalone

[L1] I’ll be darned if this story doesn’t confirm a lot of my biases about public school systems, the CPS, and attitudes towards homeschooling. UPDATE: It may not be an isolated incident.

[L2] I’ve always gone back and forth on the “read a new book” and “read the same book” or “read a new book,” though most of the things mentioned in this article are relevant to both. Just read, basically.

[L3] Have we figured out a fool-proof way to teach kids math?

[L4] A while back, Gabriel Rossman wrote about publication bias and how it affected the universal pre-K debate.

[L5] I am, as always, entirely on board with starting school later.

Migration:

moving photo

Image by Alikai

[M1] The recovery from job loss takes less time if you live near family. The power of social networks, or an artifact that they actually make less money to begin with and it’s easier to recover from a lower base?

[M2] No surprise, I agree with Kevin Williamson on helping people relocate, though the political environment right now seems pretty brutal for the concept.

[M3] One thing Mark Whitehouse says we can do to help African-Americans is through changing zoning laws so that people can move to where the opportunities are. (Alternately, we could just give them wealthier parents.)

[M4] Colleges are worried about a drop in foreign applicants to engineering schools. Maybe not just them.

[M5] Remember when threats to move to Canada were meant as a joke?

Crime:

[C1] The videos on this story remind me old GI Joe cartoons where they couldn’t use guns and so had “laser guns.”

[C2] Sweden is increasing the criminalization of rape by removing the concept of rape. {via Jaybird}

[C3] In what was thought to be a sequel to the rapes in Cologne, the alleged New Year rapes in Frankfurt didn’t happen.

[C4] If you have diarrhea, it’s apparently an officer’s right to obstruct your trip to the bathroom on a traffic stop.

[C5] George Friedman has an alternate take on the Flynn resignation.

Economics:

world of warcraft photo

Image by foeock

[E1] In the abstract, I agree with this piece about falling home prices. In the real, we recently bought our first house and will probably be moving again in the next few years. Oh, dear. I’ve become one of those people.

[E2] Yay markets! Even though I don’t consider myself a light user, the $5 price bump (as well as the implication that the new price is introductory) is probably not worth it for us. It’s funny to watch the industry come full circle, though.

[E3] I do not find this tidbit about Steve Bannon surprising at all.

[E4] Maybe less coding and more networking is needed. Both can be helpful! Though one of them is both (a) teachable and (b) non-zero sum.

[E5] Jane the Actuary believes it’s time to put an end to under-the-table domestic engineer work. Given that both employer and employee benefit, easier said that done.

Working:

[W1] While New Hampshire just killed theirs, Missouri recently signed a Right-to-Work bill, and the unions are responding.

[W2] South Carolinian Being workers, meanwhile, said “no union for us.”

[W3] It’s not uncommon to be unable to retain personnel due to low pay and tough working conditions, but it’s not the sort of thing you expect with politicians.

[W4] The rise and fall of the six-hour work day in Sweden.

[W5] How. Odd.

Learning, Continued:

frat house photo

Image by kafka4prez

[L6] Maybe the problem with vocational schools isn’t too little demand so much as not enough supply.

[L7] Is coding going blue collar? It… depends on the intelligence level of the blue collar workers we’re talking about. From experience I can tell you, some just can’t do it.

[L8] This has me wondering if we’re going to see national shifts in evidentiary thresholds in campus rape allegations every time there is a party change in the White House.

[L9] Interesting! Now, who’s going to be the first to sue American employers for disparate impact? {via Jaybird}

[L0] Mike Riggs writes of his life, times, and illusion of immortality as a fraternity brother.


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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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188 thoughts on “Linky Friday: Learnin’ & Earnin’

  1. L1: This is a horror story based on a legal technicality regarding full custody of kids. It doesn’t change my belief on public schools or home schooling or even CPS though. A recent encounter with a would be client actually made me appreciate why we have CPS.

    M1, M2: Doesn’t the two mean we should help remove entire families of poor people?

    M3: Good luck with this. Changing zoning laws is one area where many liberals, libertarians, and conservatives are in agreement though so progress is possible.

    C2: This is an intriguing way to handle sexual assault but I’m a bit worried about burden shifting. Its the state that is supposed to prove that the accused did the act and when sexual assault crimes revolve around the concept of consent it seems more like the accused is going to have to prove consent.

    E5: Interestingly enough Saul defended the practice of under the table domestic help on LGM. One reason why domestic help apps aren’t really doing so well is that once customers get somebody they like via the app, they switch to an independent contract without the app.

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    • L1 – Where are you getting that information? Not from the article which states:

      Harris, who is no newbie to single parenthood, has had sole custody of her children for several years.

      That was the supposed technicality that the state was invoking… that she didn’t have sole custody. Now, possibly she doesn’t but your comment is an assertion contrary to the article.

      The trend being reported in homeschooling circles is that NY is systematically reporting homeschooling families regardless of their legal status.

      But despite filing all the relevant and mandated paperwork and working closely with the district to ensure she was adhering to the proper protocol, Harris received a phone call from Child Protective Services a week later, demanding to know why her children had not been attending school.

      It is possible, I suppose, that this particular instance might be justified – though nothing in the article would suggest so – but what is being more widely reported is either a) incompetent record keeping on the part of the school district/state, or b) systematic targeting of legal homeschooling families by the state.

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      • L1. The piece has such an ideological slant that its hard to tell what is happening. I think the statement about custody may be a red herring. This is from the Buffalo News:

        In a statement last week, the district reported that Harris’ problems with Child Protective Services started prior to when she began home schooling the children in early December. School officials would not provide details of Harris’ situation because of privacy laws, but they said that the mother’s claims are inaccurate.

        . . .

        “After investigation, it is clear that Child Protective Services was contacted prior to the district receiving a letter of intent from the parent to home-school her children,” the district said in a prepared statement.

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        • Also from my link:

          [O]n Thursday a Family Court judge denied a request to return the children to Harris. Her 8- and 11-year-old children are staying with their great-grandmother. Harris is due back in court next month.

          This doesn’t sound like a technicality. It sounds like there were problems, and possibly in response to those allegations she wrote a letter on December 5th, simply saying she wants to homeschool her children starting December 8th. The link also states that she followed-up by filing an education plan, but doesn’t say when that was. I think there is something odd about deciding on a Monday in early December to start home-schooling your kids on Thursday.

          And she still doesn’t have her kids back after a court appearance, with legal representation, to make her case.

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        • The piece has such an ideological slant that its hard to tell what is happening.

          My favorite bit is “Claiming to have an order from a local judge…” Did they have an order or didn’t they? If they didn’t, then this is burying the lede. If (as I fully expect is the case) they did in fact have an order, then insinuating otherwise is grossly irresponsible, as well as being simply bad reporting. Court orders aren’t deep dark secrets. They could easily have checked this out. That they didn’t, and instead went with lurid insinuation, tells us (were it not already obvious) that this is agitprop, not journalism.

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          • Actually… this isn’t a homeschooling issue at all (or at most, tangentially around the side issue of whether NY is using homeschool requests to trigger CPS action – separate lawsuit already filed in a different case).

            I think you all need to watch the video… this is about community organizing around the state abusing power and the legal system to make it impossible for a poor woman to do the right thing.

            Turn it into a culture war fight over homeschooling at your own risk.

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            • In your video, the man keeps saying this is a homeschooling issue and seems to be trying to energize homeschoolers for political or financial support.

              What I gather is that the initial grounds for taking her children away were supplemented in an amended petition which added additional grounds. The mother’s lawyer is obviously upset that the government is mending their hold to strengthen their case, and is right to complain about it, but at the end of the day, the standard is going to be the best-interest-of-the-child, and this is a technical objection. The judge apparently found that the children were in imminent danger; the lawyer thinks the danger is being over-dramatized by the government, but we the public don’t know what the danger is. We know that the only neutral party, the judge, found the claims serious.

              AMENDMENT: I sped through the video; it was painfully protracted, so I apologize if I missed something.

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    • C2 sounds like my understanding of sexual assault law in Canada (like the article describes, if i understand the machine translation, there is no criminal code violation of ‘rape’, rape bring one of a range of acts that fall under the offence of ‘sexual assault’; the legal standard is supposed to be affirmative consent).

      Let’s just say that it has not resulted in a rash of dubious convictions or a shifting burden of truth.

      The rates at which victims report to police, police believe them, prosecutors take on the case, and the accused are convicted, all remain at rates that would be sadly familiar to Americans.

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      • That’s right. The key improvement was folding rape cases into the general law of assault, which makes grey legal areas in the court room easier to handle as it is all one body of law pertaining to touching someone without consent with the sexual element just treated as a subset of the greater whole.

        It didn’t do anything to help the matters beyond that which were about issues with the justice system not related to legal definitions.

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    • M1, M2: Perhaps, but not all at once. Move the person(s) with the best prospects, let them get settled, then they can work with whoever is helping with relocation to get more family moved. Moving a whole clan with only a single, or otherwise small number of members able to find immediate gainful employment is just a setup for failure.

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  2. L1: Ditto what Lee said. I’m working on cases right now where a lot of the clients had very chaotic home lives (the litigation is over adverse effects from a anti-psychotic drug). I read the files and wonder “Where the hell was CPS?” or “Why didn’t CPS intervene sooner?” There are a lot of permanently damaged people who went through years of child abuse without intervention. IIRC a lot of people who become habitual criminals have long histories of being abused as children and the fact that they fell through cracks in the system makes them more untrusting.

    M4: I have a feeling that Trump has already caused damage to our reputation and standing abroad that are going to take years/decades to recover from. Not that I expect his supporters will care because I have a suspicion that there is a certain amount of nihilism among a lot of Trump supporters.

    W1: Related. Iowa passed or is attempting to pass a right to work law with the typical carve outs for police and firefighters. So far police and firefighters have been showing solidarity with other public sector workers and saying the carve outs are wrong.

    http://iowastartingline.com/2017/02/13/police-officers-we-didnt-vote-republican-to-get-stabbed-in-the-back/

    W2: There is an unintentional (maybe?) political slant in the way you wrote this or just a typo.

    The history of unions in the United States is that they were much more successful in the Northeast, Upper Midwest, and West than the rest of the United States. Unionism always faired worse in the South. Basically the Unions did much better in areas with more “white ethnic” residents over Anglo-Americans. Erik Loomis will also state that there is always a racial angle when it comes to Unionism in America with white workers frequently putting race identity above class identity especially in the South.

    L7: I read this article too and I am skeptical but maybe that is a generational thing. The coding they were describing might not require a degree from Stanford or MIT but does seem to require some skills that could thrive at post-high school education and some upper-level math.

    L8: We are going to see dramatic shifts on many, many things between admins especially as polarization increases.

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  3. L7: It’s not really about intelligence per se, but more specifically verbal skills and a proficiency with languages. I have a high IQ and aced my way through the engineering math courses but I had to fight my way through the (now ancient) procedural batch Fortran and PL1 classes. And despite several attempts I’ve never had any luck learning more modern languages either. I also absolutely hate trying to do anything with a CLI like command-line Linux or configuring routers.

    It all comes down to verbal vs visual thinking. If I can’t picture something in my mind as a graph or a diagram I can’t really understand it.

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    • Being able to visualize your code as a graph is one of the strengths of modern OO languages. Hell, drawing out the diagram ahead of time is one way to make the actual code development easier.

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    • I have problems with theoretical math, but once I can tie it to concrete problems I understand, the theory ‘coalesces’ so to speak.

      LaPlace transforms were a weird thing I memorized to get through the test and never understood. Until I hit a circuit class wherein the use of LaPlace transforms not only rendered an entire class of problems much more easily solvable, but I had a physical representation of the transform in front of me.

      It made me understand why you’d remove a variable only to put it back, and let me fully grok what was going on in the actual math.

      The entire point of calculus (at least Cal I and II) moved from “vague theory I memorized and could spit back but didn’t understand” to “Oh, I get this” thanks to physics.

      I need a real world problem I understand and want to solve to really get the theory behind the more esoteric (to me!) math. I need to be using the tool to understand the tool, I guess.

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      • For me, Laplace transforms gelled during my Automatic Controls class.

        And yeah, once I started getting into CFD, calculus, diffyQs, and linear algebra all came together into a beautiful thing.

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      • A friend of mine basically invented most of the Numeric Methods to solve calculus in order to get through Calc 1 and 2. (The teacher was okay with him writing code in his TI calculator…)

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        • That would be reinvented, unless your friend is ungodly old. Newton did methods for numerical differentiation — the TI-8x family of calculators come with one of them built in. Approximations of integrals, although not called that, go back to Babylonia and Egypt (to calculate area-based tax payments on plots with irregular boundaries like rivers). Euler did numerical solutions to differential equations (Euler did a ridiculous range of things — he’s on my short list of historical figures I’d like to spend an evening over drinks with, assuming language barriers are fixed somehow). The first of the vastly improved Runge-Kutta methods for systems of differential equations appeared around 1900.

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  4. From what I hear, the IAM was going to have a tough time wining the SC plant, less because SC is hostile to unions & more because Boeing is making it hard for the union to be able to offer more than marginal gains.

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      • My general understanding is manufacturers in the South offer higher wages to avoid unionization, so the persistent potential threat of unionization might be the point of optimal maximization of worker benefits. IOW, unions are not irrelevant.

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        • Exactly, if unions are a viable threat, then employers have two options: lobby to change the legal landscape so unions are not a threat, or compensate employees such that unions are not attractive. Even in SC, where unions are not treasured institutions, the threat of unionization is enough to cause Boeing to offer compensation that marginalizes the union.

          And it makes sense, because a work stoppage costs way more than any possible savings could be had by being stingy.

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          • FWIW, there’s a strong union presence in all the refineries in Houston — bar one. (or at least there was, 15 years ago when I heard this story from management. I’m well out of the loop now).

            The one that doesn’t have a union keeps a close eye on it’s neighbors, and simply alters benefits and pay to keep it in line with the neighboring refineries. They don’t get strikes, their workers get the same pay, life goes on.

            Of course, without all the neighboring plants having unions like that they wouldn’t offer such good pay and benefits, and without that their workers would…want to unionize.

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                • As I’ve said before, Unions should be easy to form and dissolve. If you have an industry with nearly 100% unionization, there might be a problem*, especially if the relationship between the union and management is highly contentious.

                  *Although not necessarily a problem, if the relationships are largely benign or cooperative. If the key players are constantly at each others throats, that won’t be good for anyone in the mid to long term.

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  5. C5 – That theory on Flynn, that he was more out on a limb regarding policy than he thought he was, makes a lot of sense. (It’s why he was also fired from the DIA, getting too far ahead of himself in a plan to create a clandestine force within that agency without getting sufficient buy-in). It’s also possible the Pence is still the tipping point with this theory, as I imagine he’s on the traditional Republican line that “Russians are bad, mkay?” even if Pence believes (which I think he does) that Iranians are bad. (nobody really argues that ISIS is bad).

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    • If Flynn was following Trump’s instructions, why did he feel the need to resign? Were his lies to the FBI so egregious that Sessions told him that he couldn’t let it slide? Who besides Sessions is in position to put any pressure on Flynn in light of Trump’s continued support? The spooks?

      At this point, I don’t believe that Trump would care that Flynn lied to Pence or the FBI. If the lying is the issue, go to Trump in the presence of White House counsel, confess your sins, be “counseled” and move on. If necessary, issue a pardon. Since he seems comfortable breaking every other norm of governance, why not expand the use of the pardon power to keep Flynn in your circle?

      So, (a) Kim’s PTBs told Trump that Flynn had to go because in the real world Russia is the real enemy or (b) the IC had Flynn on tape at a time and place that he didn’t expect to be recording saying something really shocking — like trading NATO for an alliance against Islam.

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      • I think the pivot point is most likely Pence, who publicly defended Flynn’s assertion that he didn’t discuss sanctions with Russia before inauguration. All the evidence at this point suggests that Trump’s people were apprised of Flynn’s actions, and in a normal administration we would conclude from that evidence that Trump himself was also aware. (Personally, I think he was but simply didn’t care.) But Pence was the one who really stuck his neck out defending Flynn and by extension the entire admin., so the falling axe was directed at Flynn to save Pence’s ass. The weird thing is this: in the normal course of things, wouldn’t Pence also have been apprised of Flynn’s pre-inauguration actions, especially insofar as he was the person running point on damage control? And if wasn’t, why wasn’t he?

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        • The conspiracy theory answer is that Pence was in a “move up or move out” position in Indiana, so accepted the VP slot as a gamble, but has been kept outside the Trump family-Bannon-Conway loop. I have the impression from EO signing pictures that Pence is often standing by himself, while the inner circle folks are together on the other side.

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          • Even then, why would Flynn give his personal assurance (read: lie) to Pence if Pence was on the outside of all the action (would Flynn actually state something so categorically when it could be so easily debunked?)? And if Pence actually is on the outside of the power structure, why was Flynn even talking to him about it, and why was he (Pence) talking to the media about it?

            Adding: If you assume that Flynn would NOT have lied to Pence about it (why would he?), then Pence is the point man in an operation to harm Flynn’s reputation (and Pence is the liar!). Which takes us back the theory in the C5 linky.

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            • Because Pence was out there on TV defending Flynn. And Pence was deployed because they needed someone who wasn’t Trump or a Trump mouthpiece to say it. In short, they needed the VP to confirm it.

              And I suspect Flynn was egotistical enough to think that either his communications were not intercepted, or he’d have such control over the relevant government organizations that’d it’d never be leaked. (And I suspect he never even thought about foreign intelligence agencies intercepting it).

              You don’t need a clever conspiracy — you just need Flynn lying to Pence because he thought the truth wouldn’t come out. And the only reason he resigned was likely due to dual pressure from Pence and Priebus (who, if nothing else, can always quit and be set up to play principled Republican and make bank — or quietly start pushing the GOP Congress that likes him more to revolt) and Bannon probably felt cutting him loose might kill the story.

              Trump, judging by his press conference, seems like he was forced into accepting the resignation.

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                  • It actually doesn’t. Not for me, anyway. I mean, I get that that’s the basic view we’re all supposed to accept. It just doesn’t make any sense.

                    For example, I’m curious why Pence thought that a) he – rather than Trump or Spicer or Miller – needed a definitive answer from Flynn regarding his actions to report to the public, and b) why he went public with that information when the evidence presented to the WH explicitly contradicted Flynn’s purported account, evidence which Flynn himself (given his role) had certainly already been briefed on.

                    At the level of retail politics Flynn was axed to save Pence’s ass (since Pence went out on a limb here). I just wonder why Pence went out on that limb. So let’s suppose that FLynn actually DID lie to Pence. What was to be gained by Pence going public with the claim? (Well, what WAS gained…??) It seems to me a strange way for Flynn to engage in damage control, given that countervailing evidence had been presented to the WH, presumably including Pence, unless the controlled damage was to upend Flynn’s tenure.

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                  • And also, greginAK and Morat, I just wanted to add that even tho we’re making judgments without complete information here I don’t think this story is over. My guess is that there’s more info about this and related coming down the pike, and we can revisit the topic if (and when) that happens.

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        • I’m moving this reply upthread a bit to combat indentitis.

          The normal procedure for US intercepts is that if one of the parties is a US citizen on US soil, what they say is redacted and the identification of the US citizen is blandified, if not completely redacted. I think that’s what Flynn expected. I’m sure he’s familiar with these procedures.

          However, he may have been the subject of a wiretap order from the FISA court, OR, foreign powers with no such procedures in the way captured the whole thing and shared. Canada comes to mind, for instance.

          By the way, if this turns out to be the case, it kind of charmingly reassures me a bit about the adherence to procedures and protections that is the expected norm among the intelligence community.

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          • Per lawfare blog, only if the US citizen’s name is not of intelligence value in of itself. Clearly the fact that a discussions on sanctions was being done with a US citizen with the potential capacity to act on it is relevant.

            Which seems the sort of mistake someone who thought they knew a lot more about the subject than they did would make.

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          • I think that’s what Flynn expected. I’m sure he’s familiar with these procedures.

            To distinguish two lines of thinking on this topic, I’m not suggesting that Flynn’s having lied to Pence about the topics discussed with the Russian embassy isn’t internally consistent (so to speak) with the outcome and admin. offered rationales. It’s perfectly perfect!

            I’m suggesting that the bare fact that Pence went public with Flynn’s (alleged!! (gotta keep my skepticisms straight here :)) categorical denial perks my ears up. It makes no sense. Why was Pence point man on defending Flynn’s actions? (Actions which, taken in isolation, would create absolutely no caterwauling from the media or anyone else.) Why did Pence take his “word for it” to begin with when both of the (presumably) had access to not only the evidence IC presented to the WH but are familiar with intelligence gathering mechanisms more generally? Why did the WH think the controversy around Flynn’s actions warranted the explicit, personally indicting expression of innocence proferred by Pence?

            Maybe I’m wrong, but from a retail political perspective Flynn’s having met with the Russian ambassador during the “elect” phase just isn’t that biguva deal. So I’m inclined to believe that something else is going on.

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            • Pence was not briefed on Flynn, period. That’s been established. He defended Flynn because both Flynn and Trump told him Flynn hadn’t done it. Pence was not point man, but Pence was one of the ones defending him because….Pence is part of the administration.

              I think you’re trying to make a simple thing very complex, then getting confused.

              Stories surfaced, Flynn denied them, Trump denied them, Pence denied them. Trump was, at the least, briefed that Flynn actually did those things. Nobody told Pence. Pence continued to deny them, because he’d been told by Trump and Flynn they weren’t true.

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              • I think you’re trying to make a simple thing very complex, then getting confused.

                Well, as I mentioned to Marchmaine a month ago when he thought I was getting ahead of all this Russia stuff … we’ll see!

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            • I don’t see anything wrong with Flynn meeting with the Russian ambassador prospectively either. I’d expect that. I’d expect an exchange of formalities and contacts.

              If all Flynn did was meet with the Russian ambassador prospectively, then why did he lie about what he said to the FBI? That’s the charge here.

              In addition, Flynn took money from RT, which is probably against DoD regulations and against the emoluments clause, since RT is state-owned. That’s probably a disciplinary thing, reduction in rank and pension, not a crime. Still, he’s starting to look pretty iffy. Bad judgement at the least.

              It’s puzzling to me, too.

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              • Relating to the discussion we’re having now, I thought it was very (VERY) interesting that in the presser yesterday Trump deflected criticism over the functioning of his gummint by saying that when “his” guys are installed things will get better, and he included Comey as one of “his” guys.

                Weird. Very weird. (Add: Maybe nothing. But still really effing weird.)

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                  • That’s the logic of ISIS, bro!

                    Add: Ok, that was too quick. In my view (just my view, alright?) “pleases” isn’t the operative word here. “Subservient to” is closer, and might just strike the mark.

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                    • I’m binge watching Game of Thrones to get caught up for the new season, and damn if it doesn’t seem perfectly appropo of our current events.

                      Everything with the Trumpian faction is dominance and subjection, kissing of rings and humiliation of vassals.

                      Not just building a wall, but making the conquered vassals pay for it.

                      I mean, this item about Trump forcing Chris Christie to eat meatloaf sounds like some weird Joffrey/ Ramsay Bolton stuff to humiliate a rival, precisely because it is so petty and minor.

                      I wrote over at LGM about how even things that appear unplanned, like the chaotic roll out of the Muslim ban which resulted in non-Muslims being detained and interrogated, others having their phones searched, are the result of a larger “order” that is being communicated by Trump; that is, the public display of arbitrary yet draconian power.
                      “I am the State” seems to be the message.

                      And in other authoritarian cultures, this is meant to terrify people into self-policing, to never know when they may be on the right or wrong side of the law.

                      We already see it, in the number of messages of legal green card holders deciding a trip abroad just isn’t worth it right now, or even American citizens being advised to leave their cell phones home when traveling, to avoid them being searched.

                      The purpose of Trump’s madness is intimidation and fear, not clarity and policy.

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                  • Here’s the Hot Take! about Comey’s meeting with the Senate intel committee:

                    He spilled something (otherwise Rubio woudn’t have tweeted about an increased likelihood of bipartisan investigations) and the thing spilled covers his own ass. And that never rarely works. An unscheduled two hour! Friday afternoon meeting between the FBI jefe and the Sen powerbrokers re: Trump’s connections to Russia? Somethings coming down the pike.

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      • I think the calculus was that between Pence being angry and Bannon wanting to cut a distracting loss, Flynn went.

        Two-way loyalty is not a Trump strong suit, and it’s certainly not Bannon’s.

        Call it an attempt to end the problem and mollify Pence.

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      • I don’t think Flynn was following Trump’s instructions – I think Flynn was following what he believed were Trump’s wishes. (and Bannon’s and Miller’s). And to a large enough extent, he probably was. (but not large enough, or executed well enough, or timed correctly, or some combo of that, to keep his job)

        But we’ve seen evidence that Trump rarely if ever gives out clear instructions, and is capable of saying several contradictory and incompatible things in the space of a single (run on) sentence.

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  6. E4 – Everything it says sounds wrong to me. Skills teach you how to think about a problem. I’ll take a problem-solver over a name-dropper any day. I don’t know how much networking I actually do – I’m in the second half of my professional life – but I wouldn’t bother making connections with people who are unskilled, and I assume they wouldn’t bother with me if I were unskilled. I mean, mentoring is different, but even there I’m more likely to push someone toward improving his expertise rather than his network.

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    • Pinky,
      if you’re good enough at your job, your network materializes around you. A friend of mine picked up a few people from the Dear Esther crew, because they were that good.
      You want to “network” in programming? You do some open source work — it builds a portfolio, and it gets you connected to other folks.

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      • Kim: You want to “network” in programming? You do some open source work — it builds a portfolio, and it gets you connected to other folks.

        This is truth. One of my oldest friends did this. His degree is in Medieval German Lit, but he had an old computer and put Linux on it, then started messing around with IP Networking. Wound up writing a (free online) book on using Linux to manage networks, which a lot of folks found impressive enough that these days, he can largely trade on his reputation to find work.

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  7. L2: I am a firm believer that the best way to make kids hate reading is to insist they read the books you think they should be reading, not the ones they want to read. I make better stuff readily available to my kids, but if they really want books of Minecraft hints, then so be it. They are internalizing that reading a book is a good way to obtain information they want, while at the same time refining the skill set of getting information from the written page.

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    • I remember this as a high school phenomenon. Up until maybe eighth grade, you’d see kids walking around with regular books. (If you want to know exactly how old I am, the most common sightings were Jaws and The Shining.) By the end of twelfth grade, after a force-fed diet of Death of a Salesman and Madame Bovary, kids would rather rip their eyes out than read another book.

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          • My pet peeve is that “classic” is defined as something that 1960’s professors thought would shock the sensibilities of their students. The Great Gatsby dares to look at whether the life of wealth is really fulfilling! What if America really has classes? Love, morality, the American Dream…every American high school student in the 2010’s has grown up surrounded by cynicism about these things, so The Great Gatsby is going to open absolutely no doors for them. Five years before they met Daisy, they met Effie Trinket. If anything, they’ll read The Great Gatsby and come away thinking that Nick is naive.

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            • “classic” is defined as something that 1960’s professors thought would shock the sensibilities of their students.

              My working definition is a classic is a book that non-specialists read voluntarily some arbitrarily defined period of time after it was written. When those 1960s professors first read The Great Gatsby it was contemporary fiction, or close to it. The thing is, most fiction doesn’t hold up well. I grew up devouring science fiction. When I go back and re-read books I absolutely adored, more often than not I find them unreadable. This doesn’t mean they were bad. It merely means they were of their time. One danger with English class reading assignments is that it is tempting for the teacher to assign something that spoke to him, but doesn’t to later generations simply because it was specific to its time. I dodged Catcher in the Rye, but I gather that it is an example of the phenomenon.

              I have come around to the idea that assigning “classics” in high school, or even lower division college, is probably a mistake. You run into issues of unfamiliar writing style and cultural assumptions that present barriers to enjoyment. Assign good contemporary fiction and talk about that, with “good” functionally defined as there being something to talk about. The idea isn’t to teach the canon, whatever that is, but to teach thoughtful reading.

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              • I was young enough when I read Catcher in the Rye that I was enchanted with Holden. If I read it at my current age, it’d be a completely different book. The kid’s a self-absorbed putz. I was too young to recognize that the author realized it, too, although there’s some debate about how much he realized it.

                You’re right about older science fiction. It seems like every character is the stock scientist with a hen-pecking wife.

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                • The sci-fi that is less focused on tech and more focused on story and characters tends to age better. It’s remarkably easy for a story that has a dependency on tech that we surpassed long ago to kick you right out of it (like, say, relying on magnetic tape in the mainframe of your starships computer). This is why Starship Troopers still holds up rather well, because we still don’t have powered armor or FTL ships yet.

                  But something like Stranger is so much more character focused that it’ll suffer more from an inability to be relevant to a reader far enough removed from the 1960’s.

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              • I remember a radio interview a couple of years ago with Yann Martel where they were discussing the nature of a “classic”, and Martel was unsure whether it was safe to say the New Testament had sufficiently stood the test of time, or was merely temporarily popular.

                I read Catcher in the Rye at around the age when I might have gotten it as an assignment, not for school but because I was casting about for something to read at home and my parents had a copy. I was glad I didn’t have to read it for class – I found it boring enough the first time without having to sit through discussions in class.

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  8. A quick bleg:

    There is a Korean TV Show called “Reply…” which is basically the Korean version of the Wonder Years. The most recent version takes place in 1988. There is an episode where two of the characters go to China and the city happened to have a new Japanese restaurant. I spent a lot of time wondering whether a city in China would have a Japanese restaurant in 1988 or whether that is an anachronism. Do normal people just ignore stuff like this?

    My thinking was that China was just slowly starting to open up in 1988 and it was still a year or two before Tianamen Square

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    • Saul,
      No, normal people do not ignore things like this.

      [Just like normal people don’t ignore Gotham using Red Alert’s Russian buildings for their CGIed NYC. That’s just lazy, dudes]

      But I betcha you don’t know what smoke they’re using in Breaking Bad’s intro… (It’s really quite distinctive, nothing burns quite like it).

      [I think China may have had a 1940’s outlook on Japanese food, and then you have some amount of time before people are really willing to eat their enemy’s food… So it doesn’t seem… implausible. Granted my friends from China tell me about raising pigs in their backyards, so… ]

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    • The first KFC opened in China in 1987. And I gotta think there was still some sort of small Japanese ethnic community in China during the 80s, whether descended from when Japan itself opened up in the Meiji period, or from communist and other left wing insurgents that got out of Japan when none of their plans went anywhere in the post-World War 2 period. (or some combo of both)

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    • I think it depends on the city. I can see the biggest cities in China as potentially having a Japanese restaurant in the late 1980s but in a provincial city it is unlikely.

      Most people have hazy recollections of the past and poor knowledge and really don’t go for fine detail. You can get a lot wrong and as long as it looks right, people will accept it as long as it looks right enough. Its how most historical movies or television works. Witch burnings are pretty good example of this. Witch burnings weren’t really common in the Middle Ages and were of a Renaissance and Early Modern thing than a Medieval thing. They were also much more common in Protestant countries than Catholic countries, with the exception of France, because the Catholic Church wasn’t that big on accusing women of being witches. But people project what they think about the Catholic Church and the Middle Ages, a dark time of superstition with a hidebound patriarchal religion and assume that witch burnings were common in the Middle Ages.

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      • Oh, but it is.

        There is a massive and determined propaganda effort being conducted to persuade us of how evil and dangerous Muslims are, Radio Rwanda style.

        The Murdoch papers carry a near-daily feature of lurid stories of Muslim atrocities along the lines of this Frankfurt story, and they have a receptive audience in power now.

        I’m a bit tongue in cheek about the White Christian Terrorist threat, but the battle being waged here is deadly serious.

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        • Chip,
          This is what you get when the Powers that Be decide that “No Policing of the Immigrants” would be a fun test case to run in Europe.

          Do you really think they’re much different than the Jewish Terrorists in Jerusalem?

          If you don’t police, people will do it for you. And they will police to what they consider “proper decorum” (In Hispanic countries, a woman alone can often be a target for harassment, particularly after dark. In America (though not sweden) a naked woman is really, really asking for trouble pretty much anywhere.).

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  9. L0 [being a fraternity brother]:

    I really liked this piece. As someone who never thought about joining a fraternity–and who engaged in the casual snobbery against fraternities that so-called “intellectuals” (whose intellectualism is defined in part by declining to join fraternities and not so much by, say, actual intellectualism) resort to–I found that piece both enlightening and honest. (I was one of those “intellectuals,” by the way, who thought I was too good for frats. Also, I couldn’t afford it.) The good and the bad is there. It’s one person’s story, and it’s honest.

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  10. RE: Pre-K studies

    Ouch. Translated into English, many or most (all?) of the benefits of Pre-K might come from selecting parents who care about education, or who have the resources to send their kids to Pre-K.

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  11. E2: I don’t think it’s that surprising. The creation of streaming video was a one-time event that caused demand for bandwidth at zero marginal cost to dramatically exceed available capacity. That was several years ago, and nothing comparable has come up since. Assuming that they’ve been building out additional capacity, it makes sense that at some point unlimited plans would become viable again.

    I am curious about the fine print, though. Seems like a lot of people would try to use this as a replacement for home Internet service, and stream HD Netflix videos on their TVs for hours a day, which I don’t think is currently viable over mobile networks.

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  12. Bill Gates argues that we should tax robots.

    So let’s say that you have a guy who affixes flanges to widgets. He gets $50,000 a year for doing this. Welp, they invent a robot that can replace this guy.

    Bill Gates argues that the amount of taxes paid shouldn’t change.

    I don’t know if it’s crazy enough to work… but it’s crazy enough to get 57% of the population in support of it.

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    • It sounds like an attempt to drive robot created jobs overseas so we can specialize in flipping burgers. It’s the equiv of taxing cars because we’re worried about job loss from eliminating horses.

      Implementation problems include that we can turn 4 robots into big one robot. Also, while the example of “a guy who affixes flanges to widgets” is clear, how many people were “replaced” by the robots in those silicone chip manufacturing plants?

      Gate’s justification is also suspect. “…a robot tax could finance jobs taking care of elderly people or working with kids in schools, for which needs are unmet…”

      If the focus is on “how to spend the money” rather than “is this a market failure or an efficient way for the gov to generate money” then that’s a problem. It’s especially a problem if we’re asking the gov to preserve jobs that the market wants to ax, which appears to be the motivation when he talked about “slow down the speed of that adoption somewhat”.

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        • Alright, I’ve been turning this one over in my head.

          It feels different.

          Excel created a tool.

          The robot is replacing a person. Doing a better job, maybe. Maybe being an order of magnitude more efficient. (I prefer my circuit boards drilled by machine, for example.)

          But a robot replacing a guy is different from a tool making it possible for Edna the small business owner to do her own books.

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            • I mean, go here. Check out “Flat with Seams” and “Steeked V-Neck”.

              It’s probably possible to create a robot capable of creating such a wonder.

              Edna would never have to knit again.

              She could make sweaters in minutes rather than in weeks and sell them for a decent profit above and beyond the cost of the yarn she picked up at Michael’s.

              I think.

              And in her spare time, she could take up knitting.

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          • Excel and Word let one person do the job of many. It’s the same thing. And it’s in many ways a good thing: lowering the cost of producing goods means more people can have them. And in principle, giving workers better tools increases their production and raise wages. (It generally hasn’t, of course, but either it will eventually or all those lovely generalities we learned in Econ 101 were false. And since those are the same generalities that tell us that the minimum wage destroys jobs, it must be the former.)

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            • And in principle, giving workers better tools increases their production and raise wages.

              How much more wealth do you have today than someone in your position X generations ago?

              How many fewer positional goods do you have today than someone who made as much money as you (adjusted for inflation, of course) X generations ago?

              That said, most of the robots I’ve seen do one thing and do it well but they don’t do two things. The robot who drills holes in my circuit board is not the same robot as the one who solders the various things that need soldering.

              So one circuit board probably involves a dozen (two dozen?) robots start to finish but, at the end of the day, the robots make a kabillion circuit boards and will be poised to make a kabillion more tomorrow.

              Word/Excel, by comparison, do not map 1:1. It’s not the same thing.

              For one thing, Word/Excel created jobs by the millions. Perhaps not *ACCOUNTING* jobs… but this tool eliminated a scarcity premium.

              Robots? I’m not sure that robots are eliminating a scarcity premium.

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              • Or maybe there are. It’s just that a guy capable of drilling two circuit boards that looked identical to each other was *SO* rare that it feels like replacing him, effectively, didn’t impact society the way that Word/Excel did.

                It feels like Word/Excel getting rid of accountants/secretaries was the equivalent of getting rid of scribes in the ancient world by giving tools to humans while, at this point, robots aren’t giving tools to humans, just increased outputs.

                So far.

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                • And I thought about this some more during wrestling: Robots now are where computers were in the 60’s and 70’s. Sure, they don’t take up a room anymore, but they’re not something that a person would own. A corporation might… but not a person.

                  Same for robots.

                  But the 80’s weren’t that long after the 60’s and 70’s.

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    • This is why we need more political parties in America.

      Taxing the automation is just a way to give the people who are bringing in the automation more tax $$ to spend.

      Why tax automation when you can distribute ownership more broadly?

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              • No, why here?

                Educated/efficient work force. Reliable power grid. Multiple transportation hubs, including sea and air. Stable political system. Whatever you’re making is probably consumed there. Low risk (meaning your factories aren’t going to be seized by the state or it’s rebels). Clear ownership of title. Good enforcement of contracts. Good natural resources. Available Land.

                There are things we could do better (taxes).

                There are things that are normally held against us which really don’t matter (cost of labor in an automated factory is basically zero, so having expensive labor doesn’t really matter).

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                • Great, now let us negotiate the cost of doing business with all those benefits. The traditional model is just to tax you for those benefits. Maybe that’s the only thing that we’ll be able to come up with… but that way lies wage slavery.

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                  • Great, now let us negotiate the cost of doing business with all those benefits. The traditional model is just to tax you for those benefits. Maybe that’s the only thing that we’ll be able to come up with… but that way lies wage slavery.

                    So if the company goes under, then we want the workers to lose their health benefits, and all the other benefits that typically the gov supplies. I also want to be anchored to that company (because I’m part owner) and not be free to seek better opportunities.

                    We could (for public companies) use taxes to purchase shares and then give them to the workers… but if the workers felt they had value they could *already* simply purchase them right now.

                    RE: Wage Slavery
                    You’ve lost me. How is creating jobs in the free market “slavery”?

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                  • No, he’s talking about distributing parts of ownership in lieu of taxes. You went to appropriation because you have only binary notions of economics.

                    I put a legal gun to your head and I *make* you give me some or all of your company.

                    This is exactly the definition of “appropriation”.

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                • He’s talking about the gov seizing factories

                  No one mentioned seizing factories Dark, except you. Which reveals not only your ideological predispositions around these types of discussions but your psychology as well.

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                  • No one mentioned seizing factories Dark, except you.

                    We’re talking about building factories, taxation, and the gov “distributing ownership more broadly” in lieu of taxes.

                    Which is revealing of not only your psychology around these types of discussions but your ideological predispositions as well.

                    In my past, I started a company. It failed but that’s a different issue.

                    The government always has a gun pointed at the heads of small business because the gov has a monopoly on the use of violence. Keep that in mind when you talk about passing laws to make people do things with their own property.

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                    • We’re talking about building factories, taxation, and the gov “distributing ownership more broadly” in lieu of taxes.

                      Building factories is ideologically neutral. The question of taxation, in this context, is limited to taxing “labor” if replaced by a robot. And the third thing was mentioned by Marchmaine, who ain’t an effing communist, as far as I know, (tho sometimes I have a hard time reading Catholics on these issues so I could be wrong.)

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                        • But at that point you’ve already blurred the whole issue, Dark. You’ve already begged all the question; already decided the issue. If taxes in general are justified (I know you already suggested that they’re theft, but leave that aside for a moment) then why wouldn’t a tax on the revenue generated by a robot which replaces a (human) employee be justified?

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                          • I know you already suggested that [taxes are] theft…

                            Actually I think that was you. ;)

                            What I’m calling “theft” is “forced transfer of ownership”. Trying to call “forced transfer of ownership” a “tax” is a misuse of language.

                            …If taxes in general are justified

                            First of all, I strongly dislike employment taxes. They suppress wages and job creation, both of which society should want to be high. However let’s ignore that.

                            why wouldn’t a tax on the revenue generated by a robot which replaces a (human) employee be justified?

                            First, the definition of “a robot” is vague and subject to engineering manipulation. 2nd, robots are often doing work that no human has ever done or even could do.

                            Even assuming that we can define “which replaces a human employee” in a way that isn’t subject to gaming and makes sense…

                            Standing in the way of productivity enhancing technology sounds like a bad idea economically and a misuse of political tools. Government backed Ludditism isn’t going to work and will be attempting to have us “specialize” in low productivity work, the equiv of flipping burgers.

                            Worse, we should NEVER punish an employer for hiring a human (including previously hiring a human). If you say to an employer “if you ever replace that human we’re going to tax you”, what they’re going to hear is “don’t create that job if you can possibly avoid it”.

                            Job creation is FAR more important than retaining current jobs. Anything which makes creating a job undesirable should be examined carefully to see if that’s really in society’s best interests.

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                            • Anything which makes creating a job undesirable should be examined carefully to see if that’s really in society’s best interests.

                              I have Milton Friedman on Line 1;

                              He’s screaming something about how only shareholder interest matters, not society’s.

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                              • IMHO we want a society where employers are competing for employees. Where job creation is the solution a company uses to solve a problem, not the last.

                                This implies increasing wage growth and decreasing unemployment.

                                The opposite is a society where job creation is a rare privilege, carefully handed out by politicians to their chosen. Where creating a job is the LAST resort of a company because it’s so risky.

                                This implies stagnant wage growth and large unemployment.

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                            • Actually I think that was you. ;)

                              No, here’s you’re comment preceding my “D’oh”:

                              Usually the idea is to make money.

                              Which is sort of the opposite of having it stolen from you.

                              Stolen = theft in most folks’ locution, seems to me.

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                              • Actually I think that was you. ;)

                                No, here’s you’re comment preceding my “D’oh”:

                                Usually the idea is to make money.

                                Which is sort of the opposite of having it stolen from you.

                                Stolen = theft in most folks’ locution, seems to me.

                                You left out the “taxes” part, so let’s put that in.

                                Marchmaine: This is why we need more political parties in America. Taxing the automation is just a way to give the people who are bringing in the automation more tax $$ to spend. Why tax automation when you can distribute ownership more broadly?

                                Dark Matter: Why build a factory here if that’s even a possibility? (also quoting what he said in bold)

                                Marchmaine: Why open factories here at all?

                                Dark Matter: Usually the idea is to make money. Which is sort of the opposite of having it stolen from you.

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          • I suppose my question is, if the “factories” are nothing more than a building that houses a bunch of robots with a skeleton crew of humans, then why should we care where they are located?

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            • Probably we won’t… which is why it begs the question of why anyone would build the empty building in the US at all?

              But, if the answer is that having removed human capital at all, then supply chain reasons are good reasons, then that’s the value prop that one leverages.

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                • Exactly. Of course, it’s always possible that renters, soon-to-be-displaced wage earners and people who chose their parents unwisely find lucrative careers in new and exciting fields like window washing, dog poop removal, and yard maintenance.

                  Well, not those sectors, of course. They’re already flooded with labor supply. But you know what I mean.

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                • What we are circling around is, how to respond to a labor-less economy.

                  My basic assumption is the reality won’t be that bad.

                  Look at the world two centuries ago, where moving stuff overseas took months or years. Then bingo, cost and time to transport stuff has dropped to effectively zero. There have been unpleasant side effects (Heroin and religious fanaticism grown in Afghanistan shows up in the US), but with it has come VAST improvements in the quality of life for basically EVERYONE.

                  And if we’d tried to explain to the society of centuries ago that dropping transportation to zero was a good thing, they’d think we were nuts.

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                  • Yes, maybe.

                    I mean, every time the subject of automation and AI comes up, someone gives us a lecture on the Lump of Labor Theory, which hold (as I understand it) that while automation reduces the need for labor in one area, the lower consumer prices stimulate demand, such that the overall demand for labor rises and everyone can afford large pizzas with everything.

                    Is that always going to be the case?
                    I’m not sure.
                    I do believe we are at a point where machines and AI can actually outstrip humans ability to consume it all.

                    For example, consider garments. Basic clothing- shirts, pants, shoes- are absurdly cheap, where even the poorest can afford to have a dozen or two of every item.

                    In fact, America deluges the 3rd world with castoff clothing, where even the poorest people in the poorest parts of the world are walking around in “I’m With Stupid” tee shirts and Nike sneaker knockoffs.

                    The world, quite literally cannot consume enough clothing to raise the wages of garment laborers.

                    And yet garment makers are still, still, seeking automation to squeeze the cost of garment labor lower.

                    Its completely reasonable to project a time when the entire garment demand in the world can be handled by a tiny sliver of human labor.

                    Now expand that to food, which is also insanely cheap. Then consumer electronics, vehicles, machinery, resource extraction…

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                    • Its completely reasonable to project a time when the entire garment demand in the world can be handled by a tiny sliver of human labor.

                      Sure.

                      Now expand that to food, which is also insanely cheap. Then consumer electronics, vehicles, machinery, resource extraction…

                      Sure, a scary thing.

                      Problem is, the judgement of history is these sorts of vast productivity improvements always make things much better, even if they’re really scary at the time. If I’m supposed to take this scare seriously I don’t see why I shouldn’t take all the other previous scares seriously, and that leads to destroying weaving machinery.

                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luddite

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                      • This is the Lump Of Labor lecture I was referring to.

                        But is it guaranteed to be ever thus?

                        “Automation has never been a problem before, so it will never be a problem in the future” doesn’t sound like a convincing argument.

                        Invoking the Judgement of History doesn’t make it any stronger.

                        Shouldn’t we be seeing evidence of sustained increased demand for labor, somewhere, where the cost of labor is rising?

                        Because productivity has been rising for decades, consumer prices have fallen, consumption itself has risen, and yet….wages have been essentially flat.

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                        • My worry stems from thinking about it in terms of tasks or skills, rather than jobs. If computers in the future can manipulate objects, understand and reply to natural language, drive cars, etc, it becomes pretty hard to come up with tasks that an unskilled or semi-skilled laborer can possibly perform in a more cost-effective way than a machine. Once you have a substantial pool of prime-age people that are unemployable, you can have a very big problem even if that’s not all or even a majority of the population.

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                          • Thats my fear as well.
                            Its not like the demand for labor will be zero or even close to it, but the pool of unemployables will continue to grow, and at some point become politically unstable.

                            And we’re not even talking about low skilled workers.

                            Most professionals- lawyers, doctors, engineers- consist mostly of skills like analysis, logic, the sort of things that algorithms do very, very well.

                            The number of actual skills that demand a human are actually pretty small.

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                          • Or as I’ve said before: The problem with automation and expert systems — it’s the buggy whips and cars problem, except now humans are the horse.

                            There is still a need for taxis, truckers, and other transport services — but if we have expert systems driving them, there’s no need for people. The job still exists, the human part has just been removed.

                            (I believe self-driving cars are going to be the inflection point. When you put taxi drivers — including Uber folks — and truckers out of work, you’re going to be yanking employment out from a big enough chunk of humans, in a short enough time period, that addressing the problem will likely be THE issue for several presidential cycles).

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                        • (because of your comments on wages)

                          “Automation has never been a problem before, so it will never be a problem in the future” doesn’t sound like a convincing argument.

                          Let’s rephrase that.

                          “[Vastly increasing productivity] has never been a problem before, so it will never be a problem in the future”.

                          Of course, “vastly increasing productivity” has created all sorts of problems, but the net of it has always been strongly positive. Yes, various people, sometimes entire sectors, have lost their jobs. Farming for example used to employ roughly 90% of people, now it’s maybe 2% (ish).

                          To the old time farmers, future jobs were invisible and unknown, that 90% represented massive stability. The idea that jobs would just appear if labor was freed up would have been just crazy talk.

                          …is the Lump Of Labor…guaranteed to be ever thus?

                          Of course not. No more than any of the other laws of economics or even physics are guaranteed to work. But having identified the facility which you’re using, you should pay a lot of attention to why that reasoning has been wrong historically.

                          Because productivity has been rising for decades, consumer prices have fallen, consumption itself has risen, and yet….wages have been essentially flat.

                          “Wages” is the wrong measurement, try Wages+Benefits+Mandates+Taxes.

                          There is no such thing as a free lunch. If the gov mandates employment taxes, health insurance, safety regs, and that your employer be able to *prove* they’re not discriminating on the basis of sex/race/whatever, then that’s coming out of your pocket.

                          If it’s unreasonably expensive, hidden from you, a lot more ‘benefit’ than you’d pay for in a free market, and you don’t want it, then tough, it’s still coming out of your pocket. It’s even possible some of these things make various situations worse, but still “tough”.

                          Some of the taxes scale with wage, but a lot of these things are flat per person fees. This affects the lower end of the income scale much more than the higher end. This isn’t the entire story but it is a large piece of it.

                          We tend to look at wage growth from the 1970’s, which was the peak of the post WW2 golden era of labor, rather than over the last century. With the rest of the world’s young men dead and their infrastructure destroyed, the US’s labor was at a premium.

                          Also, immigration has tended to suppress the incomes of lower skilled Americans, I seem to recall its effect was relatively low, in the single digits percentage wise?, but whatever.

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      • Taxing the automation is just a way to give the people who are bringing in the automation more tax $$ to spend.

        Can you explain that. I’m confused. Seems to me, irrespective of whatever other complaints we might have regarding the proposal, that taxing automation as it replaces (human) jobs means the folks who brought it in (ie., the factory owners) have exactly the same amount of tax dollars to spend before as after. Is that wrong? Am I misunderstanding the proposal? Misunderstanding your comment?

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        • No, you’re right… it’s not more revenue so much as protecting revenue to keep the wheels turning. If you keep replacement level taxation, but people are losing actual revenue, that will still lead to… issues.

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    • The government already taxes robots. It taxes the profits they make for their owners. And between corporate income taxes and the ever-compounding taxes on investment income, it taxes them much more heavily than it taxes the typical factory worker.

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  13. Jaybird: That said, most of the robots I’ve seen do one thing and do it well but they don’t do two things. The robot who drills holes in my circuit board is not the same robot as the one who solders the various things that need soldering.

    You need to meet more robots, because the days of one trick ponies was a long time ago. A modern industrial robot is fully programmable, can maintain multiple instruction sets in memory, has 6 degrees of freedom, & can be fitted with multiple tools it can select according to those instructions.

    The robot/Excel analogy isn’t perfect, but only because Excel lets one person do the data entry work of many, whereas the robot is replacing a person directly. Unless you look at as a case of one robot programmer being able to do the work of many manual laborers.

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    • Unless you look at as a case of one robot programmer being able to do the work of many manual laborers.

      Hrm. Looking at it that way, we’ve got a real problem on the horizon.

      Someone pointed out to me a million years ago that GM was worth in the 30’s of Billions and employs more than 200,000 people.

      Facebook, by contrast, is worth in the 300s of Billions. It employs fewer than 20,000.

      This is going to turn into some serious shit.

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      • I don’t think it will be unsolvable shit, but it will be serious. I am optimistic that human ingenuity will find a way past it.

        I am very pessimistic that American political machines are up to the task, because the incentives are all buggered to hell & gone.

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        • I am very pessimistic that American political machines are up to the task, because the incentives are all buggered to hell & gone.

          I’m not convinced it’s a job for the politicians. The whole shifting 90% of the population off of the farms wasn’t done by the political establishment.

          I think we’re staring at a massive improvement in overall human productivity on a scale we haven’t seen since the industrial revolution took over the farm.

          The implication is it will be accompanied by a truly impressive increase in GNP, and we’ll have enough resources to just throw money at various problems.

          I think everyone is overstating how big and how bad the problems will be, but even if they’re right, the benefits will be so extreme it mostly won’t matter.

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