Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Arizona police officer kills man.

My maximum likelihood estimate is that this shooting was not necessary.  The officer was not alone.  My view is that the man could have been cuffed while lying on the ground by other officers and that the orders to follow detailed somewhat confusing instructions would have been difficult to follow exactly under the circumstances.  It was clear from the beginning that the man had trouble following the officer's orders.  I do not see anything that suggests the officer intended to create a situation that would enable him to shoot.  Rather, I see poor judgement about how to handle the situation that led to a perception of heightened risk when the man's hands were lowered to the vicinity of his waist while attempting to crawl.


George Reisman: The White Privilege scam

Here is GR's blog entry.

GR gets the basics right.  The solution to A having more de facto rights then B is to give B equal de facto rights, not take away some of A's.
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Over the course of American history, the individual rights of whites have been far better respected than the individual rights of blacks. Whites were never enslaved; they were never murdered by lynch mobs; they were never the victims of government-imposed racial discrimination/segregation in housing, schools, restaurants, stores, railways, buses, movie theaters, and elsewhere.

Now the obvious, blazingly clear solution for the lack of respect historically shown for the individual rights of blacks, is to put an end to that disrespect, and henceforth to show the same respect for the individual rights of blacks as is shown for the individual rights of whites. The guiding principle is very simple: In each and every individual case, the rights of the individual, black or white, must be respected.

Indeed, to a large extent, this has already happened. Black slavery was ended in the Confederate States by Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and then, in 1865, by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, in whatever states in the Union that still allowed it. The last reported lynching in the United States occurred in 1981. Racial segregation and discrimination have also greatly diminished as the laws that imposed them were repealed or struck down by judicial decision.

The obvious path that needs to be followed in order to complete the job is to extend to blacks recognition and respect for the same individual rights held by them that have been far more often recognized and respected in whites than in them. Nevertheless, a widespread movement has developed that holds that a very different solution is required. This alleged solution is the elimination of respect for the rights of whites insofar as it exceeds respect for the rights of blacks. The greater respect shown for the rights of whites is transformed from a matter of respect for individual rights into an alleged matter of group “privilege,” in this case “white privilege.” Thus whites allegedly enjoyed a privilege in not being enslaved. They allegedly enjoyed a privilege in not being murdered by lynch mobs. They were allegedly privileged in not being victims of government imposed racial discrimination/segregation.

The concept of white privilege is a giant scam. Like any other scam it leads people to give up something that is valuable, such as their life’s savings, in exchange for something that is valueless. In this case, they are bamboozled out of paying attention to and valuing the concept of individual rights and are left instead with the utterly nebulous and highly destructive concept of white privilege.

The very concept of privilege implies injustice and calls for the abolition of whatever privileges are in question. But since white privilege is used as a different name for what in fact is respect for the individual rights possessed by whites that have not been properly respected in blacks, the actual effect would be the loss of respect for those individual rights of whites. By the logic of the situation, whites could be enslaved, lynched, and otherwise wrongly treated all in the belief that it was merely a matter of stripping away white privilege. The concept of white privilege is an invitation to the violation of the rights of whites to the same extent that the rights of blacks have been violated.

The concept of white privilege is a formula for massive injustice. It obliterates the concept of individual rights and thus destroys the possibility of respect for anyone’s rights, white or black. It aims at a society in which everyone is a slave—not to a plantation owner perhaps, but to the state.

Colleges can be dangerous to your children

From Jonathan Turley's blog.

This story illustrates how intellectually dishonest many intellectuals have become.  Wait a minute - maybe they actually believe they are right!!! If so, they are even more dangerous?

Keep your children away from them.
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There is an interesting lawsuit in Ohio against Oberlin College by a small family-owned bakery over a racially charged case of shoplifting. Gibson’s Bakery alleges that school officials encouraged a boycott over false accusations of racism after three Oberlin students were arrested at the business. What is curious is that the students pleaded guilty to the charges and the Oberlin police found no evidence of racism, but the bakery is still be accused of racial profiling and running a “racist establishment.”

We have previously discussed Oberlin’s controversies over cultural appropriation and speech codes, including an effort to ban “sushi” as a cultural appropriation.

The latest controversy began in November 2016 when three black Oberlin students — Jonathan Aladin, Endia Lawrence and Cecelia Whettstone — were caught stealing wine. In August, the students admitted their guilty and also agreed that the store had not engaged in racist conduct in their arrest. Moreover, the students reportedly punched and kicked the shopkeeper. They initially claimed to have been racially profiled and that they only crime was using fake ids. However, Allyn Gibson said that he was attacked immediately after catching them with the stolen bottles of wine. The students ultimately dropped the claims and admitted that their guilt.

The police Incident Report online, adds disturbing details:

On Wednesday, November 9, 2016, at approximately 4:58pm, officers responded to the area of Gibson’s Bakery in reference to a report of a fight in progress. As officers were responding to the area, dispatch advised that this was involving an alleged theft complaint. Dispatch advised that Allyn Gibson, who is an employee of Gibson’s Bakery, was attempting to apprehend a subject who Allyn had witnessed attempt to steal several items. As officers approached the area, Sgt. Ortiz, and Officer Feuerstein both stated they observed Allyn Gibson lying on his back with several individuals kneeling over him punching and kicking him with several other individuals in the immediate area. Officers attempted to gain control of the situation and were met several times with resistance from several different individuals. After a few minutes officers were finally able to take one female into custody and calm the incident and attempt to figure out what had taken place.

Moreover, the Oberlin police conducted an investigation into arrests at Gibson’s and found “a complete lack of evidence of racism.” The police looked at arrested over a five-year period, and found 40 adults arrested for shoplifting but only six were African-American.

None of that seems to matter.

A boycott has been maintained against Gibson’s, which was the victim of a crime by Oberlin students. There is a great deal in the complaint below that is deeply troubling in terms of the conduct of Oberlin faculty and students.

A lawsuit was filed in November against Oberlin and Meredith Raimondo, vice president and dean of students, for slander. The complaint details how school faculty encouraged demonstrations and supported the protests with suspended classes and resources. Raimondo allegedly appeared at the demonstrations with a bullhorn and distributed a flyer that said the bakery is a “RACIST establishment with a LONG ACCOUNT of RACIAL PROFILING and DISCRIMINATION.” The complaint also alleges that the school has warned visitors that Gibson’s is a racist establishment.

Notably, the complaint discusses the prior controversy over the firing of Joy Karega, an assistant professor of rhetoric and composition, after she posted anti-Semitic statements. We discussed that controversy. The complaint suggests that Raimondo was brought in to reinforce the school’s relationship to black students after the firing of Karego, who is African American.

There is also an interesting discussion of how the school canceled its long-standing order with the bakery and, when the owner met with then-President Marvin Krislov and Tita Reed, assistant to the president of Oberlin College. He alleges that the officials pressured him to drop any criminal charges against the students.

The complaint alleges libel, slander, interference with business relationships, interference with contracts, deceptive trade practices, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring and trespass and asks for more than $200,000 in damages.

Here is the complaint: Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College

Hundreds of Professors Seek Removal Of Statues To Christopher Columbus and Teddy Roosevelt

Here is Jonathan Turley's blog entry.

JT is on target.

People like these professors are not likely to provide objective information or advocate for freedom.  Keep your children away from them.

My bet is that at some time in their lives they have behaved in ways that, by their own standards, would call for their dismissal.
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I have been writing and speaking about the movement to remove statues that range from confederate leaders to Columbus to Supreme Court justices to Founders

(here and here and here and here). I specifically wrote about the call for the removal of monuments to George Washington and others as the list lengthens of figures to be cleansed from public historical displays. In a particularly concerning development, hundreds of professors have now joined this movement in signing a letter calling for New York City to remove monuments honoring Theodore Roosevelt and Christopher Columbus. The open letter to New York’s Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments and Markers declares such historical figures as representing “white supremacy” and “objects of popular resentment.” The letter is an embarrassment for higher education as these academics adopt over-simplified and ahistorical approaches to this controversy.

The scholars state:

As scholars of American art, cultural history and social analysis, we are writing to urge that the Commission recommend the removal of several monuments from public view in New York City. They have long been highlighted as objects of popular resentment among communities of color and anti-racist scholars, artists, and movements. It is thus no surprise that these monuments have risen to the top of the list of the “symbols of hate,” to quote Mayor de Blasio, singled out during the Commission’s recent public hearings. For too long, they have generated harm and offense as expressions of white supremacy. These monuments are an affront in a city whose elected officials preach tolerance and equity.

It is important to note that they are speaking of Teddy Roosevelt and Columbus. The attack on Roosevelt is illustrative of the simplistic treatment given the history of the period:

As an imperialist, and frank advocate of eugenics, Roosevelt’s views on racial hierarchy are well-known to historians. The Museum (center of the American eugenics movement in the early years of the twentieth century) now pays tribute to his conservationist efforts, without acknowledging the link to those racialist beliefs. The dedication of the Museum’s memorial in 1936 and of the adjoining equestrian monument in 1939 was celebrated by its officials as a consummation of the theories of Henry Fairfield Osborn, who had presided over the institution’s early growth at the same time as he championed eugenics within and without.

Roosevelt was indeed expansionist in his policies and those policies are troubling in many respects. However, he was also a great leader in many other respects, including his leading role in laying the foundations for American conservationism.

I may be naive in believing that academics are joined by a deep intellectual commitment to history and objectivity. However, to see professors joining this blind rage against historical figures is truly depressing. The letter simply sweeps too broadly in seeking the removal of such memorials.

Escaping Modernity

Here is a comment from Don Boudreaux that provides the right perspective about markets.

One interesting observation by Don is:

Fortunately, anyone so disliking market forces that he truly wants to escape them can do so while leaving the rest of us alone. All such a person must do is to find a few acres of land and become self-sufficient.

This suggests that some of those who are against the "big bad market" are more interested in forcing others to live their way than simply living their way themselves.

You can use Don's perspective and insights to destroy the pseudo-intellectuals at  your next cocktail party.
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Many writers have described the mishmash of emotions and ideas that motivate the “antiglobalization” protesters who have been so much in the news since the 1999 Seattle riots. To point out that many of these ideas are irreconcilably at odds with each other is now old hat. (What, for example, does it mean to be an anarchist who advocates government controls on commercial activity?)

I want here to take these ideas as seriously as possible. Perhaps we can find a way to make the protesters happy without bringing civilization to a screeching halt.

Already, any antiglobalization advocate reading this article will likely accuse me of stacking the rhetorical deck against him. “We don’t seek to crush civilization,” he might argue.

He would be wrong. The core idea of these protests is deep animosity toward commercial exchange–a gut loathing of economic activity beyond the simple sort that took place among a small handful of people living on self-sufficient medieval manors or in tiny primitive villages.

Civilization is impossible, however, without substantial commercial exchange and a deep specialization of work. It exists only when most of our economic wants are satisfied by the market–that is, by people who produce output mostly for strangers rather than for themselves, and who are guided in their decisions of what to produce not by the commands of a sovereign but, instead, by what each of these people perceives to be his own best means of prospering. And in the market the signals that guide producers come principally from the prices determined by consumers voluntarily spending their own money.

In short, civilization requires wealth, and wealth requires a free market, extensive commerce, and a deep division of labor. Will Durant put it nicely: “Every cultural flourishing finds root and nourishment in an expansion of commerce and industry. . . . For society, as well as for an individual, primum est edere, deinde philosophari–eating must come before philosophy, wealth before art.”

But no law requires anyone to value civilization. Someone might well decide that civilization’s fruits, no matter how succulent and healthy, aren’t worth the downside.

And there indeed is a downside. It’s one that to most of us is so insignificant relative to the upside that we seldom think of it. But the downside is real, and it is the focus of many of those who so bitterly loathe the market. The downside is that everyone in civilization is enormously dependent on the choices and actions of millions of others. Every civilized person depends on the creativity, efforts, and choices of countless strangers spanning the globe.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

23 State Attorneys General support concealed carry reciprocity

Here is the text of a letter to congressional leaders from the Attorney General of Missouri signed by 23 state Attorneys General supporting constitutional concealed carry reciprocity.
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As the chief legal officers of our States, we, the undersigned 23 state Attorneys General, write in support of the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 (S. 446) and the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 (H.R. 38). We share a strong interest in the protection of our citizens’ Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, and we are committed to supporting federal and state policies to preserve that constitutional right. These bills, if enacted, would eliminate significant obstacles to the exercise of the right to keep and bear arms for millions of Americans in every State.

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides an individual right to own and carry a firearm for self-defense. The Amendment states that “[a] well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” U.S. Const. amend. II. As the Supreme Court recognized in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 592 (2008), the Second Amendment “guarantee[s] the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.” Indeed, “individual self-defense is ‘the central component’ of the Second Amendment right.” McDonald v. City of Chicago, 561 U.S. 742, 767 (2010) (quoting Heller, 554 U.S. at 599).

The core interest protected by this right is self-defense by law-abiding citizens. This right therefore extends to weapons “in common use” and “typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes.” Heller, 554 U.S. at 624–25, 627 (quoting United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174, 179 (1939)).

The Second Amendment historically has guaranteed the right to carry firearms outside the home for self-defense. In Heller, the Supreme Court relied on the preeminent authority on English law for the founding generation, William Blackstone, who explained that the right to self-defense, codified by the framers in the Second Amendment, was an “individual right protecting against both public and private violence.” Heller, 554 U.S. at 594 (citations omitted). As Justices Thomas and Gorsuch have written, “‘[s]elf-defense has to take place wherever the person happens to be,’ and in some circumstances a person may be more vulnerable in a public place than in his own house.” Peruta v. California, 137 S. Ct. 1995, 1998–99 (2017) (Thomas, J., and Gorsuch, J., dissenting from the denial of certiorari) (quoting Eugene Volokh, Implementing the Right to Keep and Bear Arms for Self– Defense: An Analytical Framework and a Research Agenda, 56 UCLA L. REV. 1443, 1515 (2009)). 

To be sure, the right to carry firearms for self-defense is not unlimited, and the Supreme Court has stated that its decisions do not cast doubt on the “longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.” Heller, 554 U.S. at 626–27. But these exceptions all assume that the right to carry a weapon in self-defense applies in public places generally.

The Second Amendment, moreover, applies to both the Federal Government and the States. The Second Amendment is a right “fundamental to our scheme of ordered liberty,” and so it applies not just to the Federal Government but also to the States under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. McDonald, 561 U.S. at 767; see also Caetano v. Massachusetts, 136 S. Ct. 1027, 1027 (2016) (per curiam).

Nevertheless, some activist courts have held that the Second Amendment has no application at all outside the home, and thus have upheld state laws banning any firearm ownership outside the home. See, e.g., Peruta v. California, 137 S. Ct. 1995, 1997, 1999 (2017) (Thomas, J. and Gorsuch, J., dissenting from the denial of certiorari) (collecting cases); e.g., Williams v. State, 10 A.3d 1167, 1177 (Md. 2011); Mack v. United States, 6 A.3d 1224, 1236 (D.C. 2010). Further, ten states refuse to recognize any out-of-state concealed carry permits, and many more refuse to recognize out-of-state concealed carry permits unless certain conditions are met.

The citizen interest in self-defense, supported and protected by the Second Amendment, is called into serious question by such blanket refusals to permit carrying firearms in self-defense outside the home or to allow non-resident visitors to carry concealed weapons. Because some States refuse to give the Second Amendment its full import, Congress should enact concealed-carry reciprocity legislation, to help implement and enforce the constitutional right to self-defense for millions of law-abiding Americans across the country.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Climate change theory that makes sense

Here is a link to a Youtube presentation by Henrik Svensmark.

An important, credible climate change theory.

Those who accuse others of being "Climate Deniers" cannot be trusted to be objective.

Self-learning computer program supreme at games - what next?

Here is a link to a paper "Mastering Chess and Shogi by Self-Play with a General Reinforcement Learning Algorithm.

The significance of this algorithm goes well beyond games to many aspects of human activity.

Here is the paper's abstract.  Keep in mind that previous world champion chess programs are superior to the best human Chess Masters.
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The game of chess is the most widely-studied domain in the history of artificial intelligence. The strongest programs are based on a combination of sophisticated search techniques, domain-specific adaptations, and handcrafted evaluation functions that have been refined by human experts over several decades. In contrast, the AlphaGo Zero program recently achieved superhuman performance in the game of Go, by tabula rasa reinforcement learning from games of self-play. In this paper, we generalise this approach into a single AlphaZero algorithm that can achieve, tabula rasa, superhuman performance in many challenging domains. Starting from random play, and given no domain knowledge except the game rules, AlphaZero achieved within 24 hours a superhuman level of play in the games of chess and shogi (Japanese chess) as well as Go, and convincingly defeated a world-champion program in each case.


Is the Sea Level Stable at Aden, Yemen?

This link is to a paper by Parker and Ollier.

Some reports show a rising sea level trend at Aden and Yemen.  P&O say that this is likely due to questionable statistical adjustments. Their conclusion follows.
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The tide gauge record of Aden is a composite derived from 5 distinctive sets of measurements, with the historical data, comprising 4 of these sets, ending in 1969, and the novel measurements with a new tide gauge, starting in 2007. By revising the alignment of the data up to 1969, and neglecting the misaligned new measurements, the sea levels are only very weekly rising at − 0.05 to 0.24 mm/year in Aden over the 20th century.

In Mumbai, the tide gauge record is the composite of 3 distinctive sets of measurements, with the historical data, comprising 2 of these sets, ending in 1994, and the novel measurements with a new tide gauge, starting in 2005. By revising the alignment of the data up to 1994, and neglecting the misaligned new measurements, the sea levels are perfectly stable over the 20th century.

In Karachi, the tide gauge record is the composite of 4 distinctive sets of measurements, with the historical data, comprising 3 of these sets, ending in 1995, and the novel measurements with a new tide gauge, starting in 2007. By revising the alignment of all the data, the sea levels were previously shown in Parker (2016) to be weekly increasing at +0.18 mm/year over the twentieth century.

The sea levels have, therefore, been stable in Aden, as at Karachi and Mumbai, over all the 20th century.

These and other key sites of the Indian Ocean indicate a stable sea level of about zero mm/year over the last 50 years, as shown in Mörner (2007, 2010, 2014, 2015a, b, 2016a, b), Parker and Ollier (2015) and Parker (2016).

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

We are doomed

Here is an article from the Wall Street Journal, by Eli Stopkols.

It seems that too many young people do not understand that Capitalism offers a higher standard of living and more freedom than Socialism, the latter being well known for ruining economies and tyranny.  A simple test of economic and civil liberty understanding is to ask someone which they prefer.

There also seems to be a lack of understanding that power leads to corruption, and that Socialism puts more power in fewer hands than Capitalism - hence leads to more corruption - or that the competition fostered by Capitalism tends to reduce the opportunities for corruption.

Too many people also view more inequality as synonymous with more poverty. Which is better, more inequality with a higher standard of living for all or less inequality with a lower standard of living for some?  Another misconception about inequality is that it reflects some taking advantage of others.  Virtually no one appreciates that random walks produce increasing inequality, hence that it is a normal outcome of a "fair playing field".  For example, if all people start with the same income and income for each person has the same positive trend growth rate plus an identical independent random element, then there will be increasing income inequality over time.

We are doomed to in increasingly inefficient economy and further loss of freedom due to economic dumbth.
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ELON, N.C.—John Della Volpe, who has been polling millennials for 17 years, stood before about 150 students in a gleaming new center at Elon University this fall in search of an answer.

In his 2016 survey for Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, 42% of younger Americans said they support capitalism, and only 19% identified themselves as capitalists. While this was a new question in his survey, the low percentage of young people embracing capitalism surprised him. He had come here, in part, to better understand why.

“Maybe it had to do with the ‘American Dream,’ and how capitalism was correlated with it, but a lot of young people don’t believe in it anymore,” said Ana Garcia, a junior at the Elon event. “We don’t trust capitalism because we don’t see ourselves getting ahead.”

Largely because of such millennials, generally those born in the 1980s and 1990s, socialism has moved from being a taboo because of its associations with the Cold War to something that has found rising appeal among those polled by Harvard and in other surveys that compared different generations.

Grace Magness, an Elon freshman, has experienced the shift firsthand. Her great grandfather, she said, was named Eugene Debs after the labor leader who ran for president five times for the Socialist Party at the turn of the 20th century. “He was so embarrassed about it when he was older that he would never introduce himself using his full name,” Ms. Magness said.

For her, she says, “socialism has gotten less spooky; it’s no longer associated with communism the way it was.” She adds: “straight-up capitalism seems like it has a lot of potential to be really corrupt.”

Young people across the generations tend to be viewed as more left-leaning than their elders. Underlying the millennial generation’s leftward tilt is angst about the future, Mr. Della Volpe said. In a new smaller Harvard survey, released Tuesday, 67% of those polled said they are more worried than hopeful about the direction of the country. The fall survey sampled 2,037 peopled aged 18 to 29 in live interviews.

“If something unites these young people,” Mr. Della Volpe said, “it’s fear,” driven by their perception that they have limited economic opportunities and that society as a whole has become more unequal.

The 2016 poll also found that the millennial generation is less religious than their parents and losing faith in institutions—a finding consistent with other polls that track some of that loss of faith to the slow recovery from the deep recession that began in 2008.

“Every new group of voters is disproportionally affected by whatever was salient when they were growing up,” said Celinda Lake, a long-time Democratic pollster. “That’s led this group to be really cynical about institutions: military, government.”

In the view of Kristen Soltis Anderson, a Republican pollster and the author of, “The Selfie Vote: Where Millennials Are Leading America and How Republicans Can Keep Up,” the idea that young people tend to be liberal and become more conservative with age is misguided. “The oldest millennials are actually the most left-leaning,” she said. “If you came of age, graduated college and were job hunting around the time of the financial crisis, you might be asking, What have free markets done for you? The easy rhetoric that ‘markets are bad, government is bad’ is appealing.”

The Harvard survey has polled roughly 1,000 respondents between 18 and 29 years old annually since 2001. The sample size has grown over time. In the spring 2016 survey, it was a measure of nearly 3,200 people. The survey has a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points.

Still, millennials polled say they want a bigger role for government in making conditions better for their future. The number of young people who believe that tax cuts spark economic growth, which had held fairly steady for years, fell seven points over the past two years, according to the 2016 Harvard survey.