25 August 2019

Headline of the Day

Pay Andrew Yang $1,000 a Month to Get Out of the Presidential Race
Jacobin
Yang's vision of society is truly dystopian, and his solution of $1000.00 a month fixes nothing.

Tweet of the Day


I really have nothing add to this.

Sadism Works as an Explanation


Specifically, they derive pleasure from the misery of "the other" that they have deemed unworthy:
I understand why it’s hard for normal people to believe that white evangelical Christians are sadists. Normal people have never been, as I was a long time ago, on the inside of that shadowy religious world. But the sooner they understand this, the sooner normal people will see that white evangelical Christian support for Donald Trump isn’t rooted in hypocrisy, contradiction or merely straying from the straight and narrow. The reason they support a fascist president is simple: They’re sadists.

The word “sadist” is off-putting. I get that. But if you’re thinking of sex, you’re thinking in the wrong way. If you’re thinking of “pleasure,” as in sexual pleasure, you’re thinking the wrong way. The pleasure white evangelical Christians derive from the suffering of human beings deemed less human than they are is not about sex. It’s about the pain, humiliation or even violence out-groups deserve by dint of being out-groups. Gay men, for instance, deserve their punishment because they are gay. Punishment for being gay is “divine justice.” From such “justice” comes pleasure—which is sadism.

I didn’t come up with the term. Richard Rorty did. I’m only pushing it as far to the fore as I can, because I don’t think normal people understand what they are facing, and if they don’t understand, they will keep treating sadists as if they have a legitimate place in a liberal democracy. Cruelty is the point, as Adam Serwer powerfully and famously put it in The Atlantic. But normal people must understand the animating force behind that cruelty. Sadists are sadistic not because they are cruel. It’s much simpler than that. They are cruel because being cruel to people deserving cruelty feels good.
I'm still considering the arguments, but the thesis is consistent with the actual observed events, and appears to have a significant predictive properties, which puts it a step above string theory.

24 August 2019

Tweet of the Day


Means testing for basic safety net programs is morally and politically bankrupt.

Ban Antibiotic Use on Livestock


Meat without antibiotics is a bit more expensive, on the order of 5-10¢ a pound, (the Danes banned antibiotics, so we have good cost data( but that is a reasonable price to secure the public health:
A deadly outbreak of multi-drug resistant Salmonella that sickened 225 people across the US beginning in 2018 may have been spurred by a sharp rise in the use of certain antibiotics in cows a year earlier, infectious disease investigators reported this week.

From June 2018 to March of 2019, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified an outbreak of Salmonella enterica serotype Newport. The strain was resistant to several antibiotics, most notably azithromycin—a recommended treatment for Salmonella enterica infections. Before the outbreak, azithromycin-resistance in this germ was exceedingly rare. In fact, it was only first seen in the US in 2016.

Yet in the 2018-2019 outbreak, it reached at least 225 people in 32 states. Of those sickened, at least 60 were hospitalized and two died. (Researchers didn’t have complete health data on everyone sickened in the outbreak.)

………

The investigators suggest that the surge in macrolide use could have encouraged the rise and spread of the azithromycin-resistant Newport strain.

“Because use of antibiotics in livestock can cause selection of resistant strains, the reported 41% rise in macrolide use in US cattle from 2016 to 2017 might have accelerated carriage of the outbreak strain among US cattle,” they wrote.

………

In recent years, around 70% of all medically important antibiotics in the US have been sold for use in animals. Public health advocates say agricultural use of antibiotics should be reduced significantly to preserve the effectiveness of the drugs.
It is completely insane to allow farmers to destroy our public health system for a few pennies.

The INF Treaty Was Already a Dead Letter

A week ago, the US test-launched a ground launched Tomahawk cruise missile.

In doing so, they validated Russian claims that the US installation of BMD systems in Europe were actually in violation of the INF treaty:
Arms Control Twitter has been abuzz since yesterday’s announcement that the United States had conducted a surprise launch of a Tomahawk missile on Sunday afternoon.

This wasn’t just your regular missile launch, however. It was a Tomahawk cruise missile launched from a ground-based Mark-41 Vertical Launch System (VLS), traveling to a distance of “more than 500 kilometers,” according to the Department of Defense.

In other words: a violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty––if the treaty still existed. It officially died on August 2nd, six months after both the United States and Russia announced suspensions of their respective treaty obligations. But the launch is an important walk-back of US security policy which for 32 years sought to curtail such weapons and instead, as we have written for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, makes the United States needlessly complicit in the INF’s demise and frees Russia from both the responsibility and pressure to return to compliance.

………

Why is everyone so worked up about the launcher?

This is where things get really interesting. The Mk-41 VLS launcher that was used to launch the Tomahawk is the same type of launcher that would be used to launch SM-3 interceptors from Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense stations in Romania and Poland, once the latter station is completed.

For years, Russia has said that the US deployment of these ground-based Mk-41 VLS launchers to Europe constitutes an INF violation, because they could theoretically be used to launch Tomahawks over 500 kilometers. Legally speaking, this doesn’t hold water––Article VII, paragraph 7 of the INF Treaty states that in order for a launcher to be considered in violation of the treaty, it must actually conduct a ground launch of a prohibited missile. Since this never happened while the INF Treaty was in force, the Mk-41 VLS launchers weren’t in violation.

What’s more, the United States has consistently stated that although Mk-41s can launch Tomahawks, the ones deployed in Romania and Poland cannot. In December 2017, the State Department announced that “The Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System does not have an offensive ground-launched ballistic or cruise missile capability. Specifically, the system lacks the software, fire control hardware, support equipment, and other infrastructure needed to launch offensive ballistic or cruise missiles such as the Tomahawk.”

Perhaps this is true, perhaps it isn’t. But absent some kind of US transparency measure that offers visibility into the Aegis Ashore systems, Russia is forced to rely solely on an American promise. And for Putin, that’s simply not going to cut it. That being said, it’s also possible that no amount of transparency would ever have satisfied Putin, as his primary concern over Aegis Ashore appears to be directed at the general deployment of missile defenses in Europe, rather than their offensive potential.
I actually did work involving these sorts of launchers on naval vessels, specifically on power supplies that could be controlled by software to allow for a wide variety of missile types.

The software could be contained on a memory stick, the hardware is basically a terminal (If that), and the logistical support for a GLCM, which is shipped and deployed as a "ready round", is minimal.

Once the "Aegis Ashore" launcher is installed, a breakout from the INF treaty could be (and in fact was) executed in a matter of days.

23 August 2019

Presidential Race Update

3 candidates for the Democratic Presidential nomination have dropped out, Jay Inslee, John Hickenlooper, and Seth Moulton.

While Inslee actually ran on a substantive issue, he focused on anthropogenic climate change, Hickenlooper and Moulton pretty much ran against the Democratic Party, with Hickenlooper likening opposition to fracking to Stalinism, and Moulton engaging in jeremiads against the Democratic Party.

Good riddance to the last two, though Inslee, did manage to make addressing climate change s significant issue in the primary, which is a good thing.

Tweet of the Day


Pantaleo broke the law and killed a man in the process, and now the cops are threatening a slowdown because of their butthurt over the most meager accountability for their actions.

F%$# them and the horse that they rode in on..


1/2 of World's Ayn Rand Worst Tribute Band Ever, the Koch Brothers, Dies

David Koch has died of complications of prostate cancer at age 79.

Their wealth came largely from their father selling technology to Josef Stalin, and he had been funding the right wing for years.


There is an argument that one should not speak ill of the dead, but David Koch was a public figure, and his fans will no doubt use this as an opportunity to shape his legacy, so I feel that speaking the truth is essential at this juncture in any public forum except for his funeral or wake.

In my case, I will start with a list of positive things about his positive contributions to the public discourse and public policy in his time in American politics:
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That is all.

22 August 2019

What Do Brexit and the Black Death Have in Common?

Rising wages,* it appears.

This is precisely what the experts said would not happen:
No, really? Yes, really, via Reuters:
Major British employers gave average pay rises of 2.6% to staff in the three months to July, the highest pace of increase in more than 10 years, data from industry consultants XpertHR showed on Thursday.

Annual pay settlements in Britain began to rise roughly a year ago as the lowest unemployment rate since the mid-1970s put pressure on employers to retain staff, but deals had been stuck at around 2.5% in recent months.
And more:

In sharp contrast to the broader economic slowdown that has taken Britain to the brink of recession, the Office for National Statistics said annual average pay – excluding bonuses – rose by 3.9% in the three months to June, the highest rate since June 2008.

The ONS said about 115,000 more people found a job between April and June, when Theresa May extended the Brexit deadline until October, pushing up the number of people in work to a record of just over 32.8 million.
I'm not sure that the whole "Black Death" thing is particularly reassuring though.

H/t Naked Capitalism.

*For those of you who are not up on your labor history, after about half of Europe died of the plague, peasant wages jumped as a result of labor shortages.

The Pooch Has Been Thoroughly Screwed

I've always felt that Benyamin Netanyahu has been clear and present danger to the state of Israel, but I never imagined that he would do something so bone-headed that AIPAC would condemn his actions:
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on Thursday broke with Israel's decision to bar Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar (Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) from visiting the country, saying "every member of Congress should be able to visit."

"We disagree with Reps. Omar and Tlaib’s support for the anti-Israel and anti-peace BDS movement, along with Rep. Tlaib’s calls for a one-state solution. We also believe every member of Congress should be able to visit and experience our democratic ally Israel firsthand," AIPAC tweeted Thursday.
Well, that's what he gets for listening to Donald Trump.

Still Contemptible Bastards


They lied:
It’s been almost a month since DoorDash, the leading food delivery app in the US, finally caved to public pressure and announced it would stop pocketing its workers’ tips.

At the time, CEO Tony Xu announced in a series of tweets that DoorDash would institute a new model to ensure workers’ earnings would “increase by the exact amount a customer tips on every order.” Xu promised to provide “specific details in the coming days.” The next day, Xu sent out a note to DoorDash workers, broadly outlining changes and letting them know “what to expect in the days ahead.”

But 27 days later, current DoorDash workers tell Recode that the company’s pay and tipping policies have stayed the same. The company has not made any public statements about its worker pay and how it plans to institute the changes, nor has it offered a specific date when it will fulfill its promise.

A spokesperson declined to comment about the company’s plans to change its tipping policy.
They are not figuring out how to implement a fair tipping policy, they are trying to figure out how to best weasel out of their commitment.

The final word on DoorDash is this:  If they treat their employees like sh%$, who do you think that they will treat you as a customer?