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26 Mar 05:25

Last Week Was Not A Typical Week at Heterodox Academy

by Chris Martin

Heterodox Academy membership has been steadily growing, as more academics become aware of the many benefits viewpoint diversity provides students, professors, and administrators. In a typical week, however, we add somewhere between 10 and 15 new members, but last week we inducted 53. Though we can’t be certain, this interest was likely motivated by media appearances by co-founder Jonathan Haidt discussing the events at Middlebury College and increased attention on the issue of political orthodoxy on campus. Here are some points to consider about our new members:

1. None of the new members are from Middlebury. This isn’t a knock against Middlebury; I expect some Middlebury professors will join in the near future. But this fact suggests that concern about the Middlebury incident isn’t localized. Even if we expand “local” to mean the Northeast where Middlebury is located, we only find 12 of the 53 new members are from that area.

2. Two new members are from Canada and one is from Spain. The rest are from American universities, which is a continuation of previous trends in membership.

3. Charles Murray was invited to Middlebury by a political scientist, but only two new members are from political science. However, Murray’s research touches on intelligence, a psychological topic, and the modal discipline among new members in psychology at 9 (or 10 if you count psychiatry). Physics and economics are tied in second place at four new members from each discipline.

4. Murray also focuses on stratification, which is traditionally sociological and economic. Three new members are from sociology departments and four are from economics departments.

5. None of these members come from foreign languages or area studies (China studies, African-American studies, etc.).

6. From their first names, I estimate that 11 new members are female and 42 are male.

7. The ideological makeup of these 53 members is 15 centrist, 22 left/progressive, and 8 libertarian/classical liberal. Five new members chose “other,” “prefer not to say,” or “unclassifiable” for the ideology question. Only three chose “right/conservative.” These proportions are representative of a cross-section of contemporary academia.

The last point, about ideological makeup, is crucial. Of the 499 members who have answered the ideology question on the membership form, here is the breakdown:

Our goal has never been to be a conservative or anti-Left organization, although some people have leveled that accusation against us. Our members are not defined by an ideology, and we will continue to ensure that professors of all ideologies are welcome here. What does unify us is an anxiety about how our research and teaching are constrained due to the political homogenization of our academic institutions. If you are concerned too, please consider joining us.

26 Mar 04:31

Basic Attention Token

Basic Attention token is founded by Brendan Eich creator of JavaScript. They are going to implement Steemit into the Brave browser. This could be the fix to internet neutrality.
24 Mar 15:33

House Science Committee Hearing – Climate Science: Assumptions, Policy Implications and the Scientific Method

by curryja

by Judith Curry

Witnesses:  John Christy, Judith Curry, Michael Mann and Roger Pielke Jr.

The hearing will be held next week, March 29.  The announcement for the Hearing is [here].

I’ve completed my written testimony, I will post it Wednesday once the Hearing has commenced.

This Hearing is interesting on several fronts:

  • It includes 3 of the Grijalva 7
  • It is the first time I will be on the same panel as Michael Mann.

This should be high theater for climate geeks.

Get your popcorn ready.

Filed under: Policy, Politics
24 Mar 15:28

Web Browser Brave to Launch ICO for Ethereum Ad Token

by Michael del Castillo
Bitcoin browser Brave is planning an ICO for a new token based on the ethereum blockchain and designed to monetize users' attention.


22 Mar 15:59

These recently declassified nuclear test videos are utterly mesmerizing, terrifying

by Jonathan M. Gitlin

Enlarge / This well-known photograph was taken (extremely) shortly after the detonation of a nuclear device during Operation Tumbler-Snapper. The projecting spikes are known as a rope trick effect. (credit: US Department of Defense)

From 1945 until the practice was ended in 1963 with the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the US conducted 210 above-ground nuclear weapons tests. The majority of those took place at the Nevada National Security Site, then on remote Pacific atolls. Obviously, since the purpose of the tests was to understand this powerful new class of weapon, all of the tests were captured with multiple high-speed cameras (running at roughly 2,400 frames per second). And until now, many of those films have languished in classified vaults. But Greg Spriggs and his colleagues at Lawrence Livermore National Labs (LLNL) are rescuing and declassifying many of them, posting them on YouTube in the process.

The first 64 declassified films were uploaded this week, with footage from Operations Upshot-Knothole, Castle, Teapot, Plumbbob, Hardtack I, Hardtack II, and Dominic. And they're utterly mesmerizing. In fact, they're truly awesome, in the literal sense of the word.

For example, watch how the fireball grows down along the test tower and guide wires during the initial states of the Tesla shot during Operation Teapot. This test took place on March 1, 1955 in Nevada and was just 7 kilotons—a mere firecracker compared to later thermonuclear devices.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

22 Mar 15:53

Declassified Nuclear Test Videos Uploaded to YT

by Nathaniel Scharping, Discover
Nathaniel Scharping, Discover
A trove of footage from early U.S. nuclear weapons tests has just been declassified and uploaded to YouTube.The film release was part of a project headed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) weapons physicist Greg Spriggs which aimed to digitize and preserve thousands of films documenting the nation's nuclear history. The endeavor required an all-hands-on deck approach from archivists, film experts and software engineers, but the team says that this digitized database is already yielding new insights from the decades-old tests.
22 Mar 15:08

Declassified Nuclear Test: Housatonic Explodes in the Atmosphere

At 8.3 Megatons, Housatonic was the largest nuclear device detonated during Operation Dominic in 1962. It exploded in the atmosphere over 12,000 feet above Earth's surface.
22 Mar 14:09

More than Disruption: How Blockchain Capital is “Democratizing” Venture Capital

by Michael Scott
Average investors — those of us who don’t belong to an elite institutional class, for example — wanting to invest in a venture capital fund that supports emerging blockchain technologies will soon be able to do so.Blockchain Capital, a venture capital firm that invests in blockchain technology companies, in collaboration with digital finance investment bank Argon Group, is about to issue its own Ethereum-based digital tokens called BCAP.The move is part of a new liquidity-enhanced venture capital fund called Blockchain Capital III: a combination of a traditional limited partnership and the BCAP digital token, which will be sold in an upcoming initial token offering (ITO).Brock Pierce, managing partner at Blockchain Capital, believes that with this move they are “democratizing access to an asset class traditionally only available to elite institutional investors.”Democratizing Venture CapitalismHere’s how it works. According to Pierce, Blockchain Capital is “providing the investor base across the globe with the opportunity to invest into a leading venture fund via a liquid, tradable, digital token.”Traditionally, venture fund investment has been restricted to an elite class of investors, including wealthy university endowments and politically connected unions and pension funds. These typical venture fund investments are also highly illiquid, locking up funds for terms as long as 10 years.During the initial token offering period, average investors who want to diversify and get exposure to the surging growth in blockchain startups can purchase BCAP tokens representing digital interests in the Blockchain Capital III VC fund, using bitcoin, ether or U.S. dollars. Unlike traditional VC fund investments with their 10-year terms, liquidity barriers are overcome since these tokens will soon be able to be bought and sold on secondary markets via established digital currency exchanges. Those exchange partnerships have yet to be announced but are in the works.In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine, managing partner Bart Stephens explained that BCAP tokens follow the SEC exemptions for unregulated securities — the same structure as bonds and high-yield debt — under Regulation D, allowing them to be sold in the U.S., as well as Regulation S, allowing them to be sold internationally.“We’re playing within existing guidleines,” said Stephens, “but offering something new.”Walking the Blockchain WalkLaunched in 2013, Blockchain Capital’s initial fund was the first venture capital fund dedicated to the Bitcoin and blockchain ecosystem. It was also the first fund to accept capital calls in bitcoin. The Argon Group, which is collaborating with Blockchain Capital on this initiative, is a major player in the emerging digital currency and token-based capital markets. “We are pioneering a groundbreaking moment in the history of venture capital by using blockchain technology to provide never-before-seen liquidity and access to investors,” said Stan Miroshnik, CEO of The Argon Group, to Bitcoin Magazine. “By investing in venture capital through a digital token, investors get liquidity, transparency, clear view on value and an ability to participate in an asset class previously reserved for elite institutions.”Blockchain Capital’s current portfolio is comprised of 43 unique companies from its prior two funds. These include Bitfury, BitGo, BitPesa, BlockCypher, Blockstream, Chain, Coinbase, Gem, GoCoin, itBit, PeerNova, Ripple, Wave and Xapo, among other blockchain technology leaders. This investment focus of the new fund is expected to further Blockchain Capital’s established reputation of identifying outstanding blockchain technology companies led by ambitious management teams and partnering with them to accelerate growth. “I’ve never been more excited in my whole career,” said Stephens, an experienced fintech exective, hedge fund manager and venture capitalist. “We think it’s a great thing for the overall ecosystem. We think it’s a great thing for the hobby industry of venture capital. Venture capitalists like to talk about disruption and innovation but very few of them walk the walk. We are actually using blockchain technology to disrupt ourselves. It’s always a little uncomfortable but I’ve always said if we don’t do it someone else will.”Full details of the offering will be disclosed in the offering memorandum, which is expected to be published on April 3, 2017, via post More than Disruption: How Blockchain Capital is “Democratizing” Venture Capital appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.
21 Mar 16:17

STEEMIT: Yesterday saw a Record Number of Transactions on the Blockchain at a jaw dropping 214,031 Transactions..!!


Yesterday saw a jaw dropping Record Number of Transactions on the Blockchain of 214,031 Transactions..!!

This is the highest number of Daily Transactions seen on the Blockchain ever.

This Record Number of Transactions came after a stellar weekend which saw the following number of Transactions:

Saturday - 171,477 Transactions

Sunday - 162,441 Transactions

Monday - 214,031 Transactions


DAILY TRANSACTIONS - dMAs (Moving Averages)


This Record Breaking number of Daily Transactions on the back of what appears so far to be a reversal in the price of STEEM off the recent lows, I once again reiterate the strength and growth of the Community.



Thanks again for reading.


21 Mar 16:17

IBM Launches Commercial Blockchain Cloud Service!

The ***Blockchain technology*** will be a vital part in the future of banking, computing and secure networks - that's a given, and all of us here on Steemit are sure of it. But it's also a fact that currently, Blockchain technology is still not very popular - it sounds *complicated*, it's not very accessible or easily applicable, so not many companies have started to use it yet. ## This is about to change! ### Tech giant IBM has just launched its first commercial Blockchain service, based on Linux' open source Hyperledger Fabric. With this step, IBM will be able to offer businesses a **cloud service** to build custom blockchains. IBM's strategy is to offer their customers a wide range of cloud services, and they had already announced to support blockchain technology and increase its popularity, so this project seems to go hand in hand with those plans.
"The Internet changed the way we deliver information and communicate; blockchain has the potential to do the same for business transactions and processes, especially where we are linking multiple parties.” -Marie Wieck, General Manager IBM Blockchain
### The goal is to offer their customers a service to build, deploy and manage their own secure blockchain networks. There is no **price tag** for the service yet - it's only been stated that start-ups will be charged less than Enterprise builders.
"Hyperledger Fabric is the operating system for IBM Blockchain, and the IBM Blockchain built an environment to develop, govern and operate a production, permissioned blockchain." -Jerry Cuomo, Vice President of Blockchain Technologies, IBM
### Jerry Cuomo, VP of Blockchain Technologies at IBM, has stated that *security* is their top priority and they've done everything they can to make this Blockchain service as secure as possible. To ensure that, they prevent unauthorized access by creating a security container for the ledger, they have separated the ledger from the rest of the cloud environment, and they have even added "tamper-responsive hardware", which will shut itself down if a hacker tries to access the network.
"So in the same way organizations have been able to leverage compute power via the cloud and applications via SaaS, IBM Blockchain will enable organizations to acquire blockchain functionality quickly without the risks and costs associated with buying and deploying the technology themselves. It gives IBM a good method to quickly win customers and market share." -Jeff Kaplan, Think Strategies about the IBM Blockchain
IBM is already working with big companies like Walmart, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Maersk and Northern Trust to build and run blockchain networks for them in the IBM Cloud. **This service could mark an important step in the process of making Blockchain technologies more popular and more accessible to the public.** I will be interested to see which companies will use the cloud service, what the abilities / features are, and how IBM's rivals will respond.
### What's your opinion - do you think a cloud-based Blockchain management service like this one could help make the technology more accessible? What are your thoughts about the future of Blockchain Technology?

*Images: [1](, [2](, [3](, Sources: [1](, [2](, [3](, [4](, [5](, [6](*

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© Sirwinchester

20 Mar 13:36

Ransomware for Sale

by Bruce Schneier

Brian Krebs posts a video advertisement for Philadelphia, a ransomware package that you can purchase.

20 Mar 13:24

Reason TV on the Future of Public Broadcasting

by Richard Morrison

Yesterday’s White House Budget Blueprint for fiscal year 2018 zeros out funding for, among other agencies, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Critics of that cut quickly suggested that reducing federal funding to non-commercial radio and television stations would be a mistake, with Public Broadcasting Service president and CEO Paula Kerger enumerating benefits such as “public safety communications and civil discourse.”

19 Mar 22:50

I Ran into the Store and Came Out to Find a Lady at My Car. Here’s Why:

by lskenazy

A surprise!

Dear Free-Range Kids: Ran across this “article” on Facebook:

I grew up in the ’90s in suburbia MI and remember this stuff. Now as a mother of an infant, I wish parenting wasn’t such a monumental, risk adverse task. Just last week I left my (overtired, recently screaming, just picked up from daycare) sleeping 8-month-old in a warm, remote-started, brand new, locked, electric car on a 50 degree day with a dog as backup for no more than THREE MINUTES as I ran into the corner store to buy a block of organic, locally produced cheese for my  made-from-scratch vegetarian dinner (clearly, I’m a careless mother).

When I came out there was a woman standing next to my car with her arms crossed. She told me she stood by the car to keep an eye on my kid. Not for predators, mind you, but to protect me from other adults or cops that may interfere.

We went on to have a 20 minute conversation about how she LOST her 3 kids to CPS for leaving them (aged 5 to 1 at the time) in the car while she went into a gas station to buy cigarettes. I was heartbroken and dumbfounded. Granted, I don’t know her whole story (I got the vibe there was more to it), but I am thankful for her goodwill for preventing that from happening to another mom as well.

Going to start doing some research on getting my town to adopt the kids’ bill of rights and become Free-Range. A couple years ago Wausau, WI was identified to be one of the safest small cities in the USA. As such, it should be a no-brainer to allow kids and parents to act as if their neighbors are not out to destroy their lives at any opportunity.

— Lisa

Yes — adopt that bill! Make it illegal to arrest parents who are not putting their kids in immediate, egregious and statistically likely danger!

Meantime, I am happy for this note reminding us that we are all so much better, kinder and more forgiving than the current culture expects us to be — a culture exhorting us to squeal on our neighbors instead of supporting them. 

Let’s hear it for the moms — parents! people! — who understand that most of us are doing our best and simply cannot, and need not, be perfect.

Next time you see a child waiting in the car, channel this lovely lady and show your support for your fellow man — and woman. Humanity will thank you. – L.


I want YOU…to be like the lady in this story.



19 Mar 21:47

UPDATE: Lowering the Bar for “Attempted Luring”

by lskenazy

UPDATE: Hi all! Just thought I’d clarify the reason for this “Attempted Luring” post. I highlight the media’s obsession with a very unlikely crime — stranger abduction — because constant coverage makes it seem common and ubiquitous.

It’s the same reason I highlight the stories that run when  a child is dropped off at the wrong bus stop and the narrative is, “Oh, how incredibly lucky we are that they child wasn’t immediately snatched by a predator!” No one writes, “A child walked by a building today and we are just incredibly lucky no brick dislodged and hit her on the head.”  But the possibility of abduction is always given credence. Non-events are treated as near misses.

It is harder to raise a Free-Range Kid, competently going about his or her day in the world, when we are told it’s World War Z out there. – L. 

Here’s a story from my neck of the woods, NYC, about a “frightening attempted luring” yesterday.

When you read it, ask yourself: What terrible thing happened that warrants news coverage? What are the odds that a van full of four people was trying to kidnap this girl? (Four people all agreeing to this felony, in the company vehicle?) What happens to our culture when fear gets reported as fact? And I’d love us to discuss the last line.

From ABC News , by Lucy Yang


There is a warning for parents and their children in the Bronx after a frightening attempted luring near a school.

The picture released by police is grainy, but the writing on the side of the truck apparently says “Empire Architecture Group.”

Police are looking for the men who were riding in this white pickup and who allegedly tried to lure a young girl to their vehicle

Shortly before 9 a.m. last Thursday in the Pelham Gardens section of the Bronx, a 13-year-old girl was walking to school.

She says the truck followed her for about a block.

By the time she reached Eastchester Road and Allerton Avenue, authorities report one of the men in the vehicle yelled out for her to come to the truck.

Eyewitness News is told there were four men in the pickup.

Thankfully, the young student kept on walking and made it safely to school

This area is heavy with commercial traffic.

Eyewitness News reached out to Empire Architecture Group, which is located in Queens, but we have not yet heard back.

Meanwhile, many in the neighborhood are hoping police make an arrest before another youngster is approached.

There are 8 million stories in the naked city.
This isn’t one of them.  – L.


We all know that no one drives a white van without evil in their heart.

19 Mar 21:39

Not Every Tragedy Contains a Moral

by lskenazy

A reminder from a reader that the way we package our “news” ends up affecting the way we see the world, and our job as parents.

And the easiest way to package any story is by making it seem as if X could have been prevented SO EASILY, if only a parent had been more vigilant:

Dear Free-Range Kids: My biggest peeve is how when a criminal is involved, that person — not the parent — seems to get a free pass from public scrutiny.  Consider the common case of somebody trying to steal a car, discovering a baby in the back seat, panicking, and fleeing the scene.

Hell will host the world’s hockey championships the day you see a commenter respond with, “How horrible!  What kind of bad person would steal a car like that?”  No siree bob.  It’s always, “WHO WOULD LEAVE THEIR KID IN A CAR??”  Our culture and jurisprudence won’t allow us to accuse a mom of “provoking” a rapist, but you can most certainly blame her for “provoking” a car thief!

I’m also sick to death of news media demanding a moral or message from every tragic incident.  “A vending machine tragically fell on a 3-year-old.  Now the parents are pleading others to be careful of vending machines.  Here are some vending machine safety tips.”

It’s as if we need this spin for some kind of psychological closure. The idea that shit happens is simply to terrifying to ponder.

The Fickle Finger of Fate is, indeed, tough to ponder. And yet the idea that we can and must control everything our kids do/see/experience/encounter is far more terrifying, because of the superpowers it supposes we possess, and the lack of sympathy afforded us if and when those superpowers somehow fail. – L.

Nothing bad would ever happen if parents just watched every kid every single second of every single day!


19 Mar 17:53

Defense against Doxing

by Bruce Schneier

A decade ago, I wrote about the death of ephemeral conversation. As computers were becoming ubiquitous, some unintended changes happened, too. Before computers, what we said disappeared once we'd said it. Neither face-to-face conversations nor telephone conversations were routinely recorded. A permanent communication was something different and special; we called it correspondence.

The Internet changed this. We now chat by text message and e-mail, on Facebook and on Instagram. These conversations -- with friends, lovers, colleagues, fellow employees -- all leave electronic trails. And while we know this intellectually, we haven't truly internalized it. We still think of conversation as ephemeral, forgetting that we're being recorded and what we say has the permanence of correspondence.

That our data is used by large companies for psychological manipulation ­-- we call this advertising --­ is well known. So is its use by governments for law enforcement and, depending on the country, social control. What made the news over the past year were demonstrations of how vulnerable all of this data is to hackers and the effects of having it hacked, copied, and then published online. We call this doxing.

Doxing isn't new, but it has become more common. It's been perpetrated against corporations, law firms, individuals, the NSA and -- just this week -- the CIA. It's largely harassment and not whistleblowing, and it's not going to change anytime soon. The data in your computer and in the cloud are, and will continue to be, vulnerable to hacking and publishing online. Depending on your prominence and the details of this data, you may need some new strategies to secure your private life.

There are two basic ways hackers can get at your e-mail and private documents. One way is to guess your password. That's how hackers got their hands on personal photos of celebrities from iCloud in 2014.

How to protect yourself from this attack is pretty obvious. First, don't choose a guessable password. This is more than not using "password1" or "qwerty"; most easily memorizable passwords are guessable. My advice is to generate passwords you have to remember by using either the XKCD scheme or the Schneier scheme, and to use large random passwords stored in a password manager for everything else.

Second, turn on two-factor authentication where you can, like Google's 2-Step Verification. This adds another step besides just entering a password, such as having to type in a one-time code that's sent to your mobile phone. And third, don't reuse the same password on any sites you actually care about.

You're not done, though. Hackers have accessed accounts by exploiting the "secret question" feature and resetting the password. That was how Sarah Palin's e-mail account was hacked in 2008. The problem with secret questions is that they're not very secret and not very random. My advice is to refuse to use those features. Type randomness into your keyboard, or choose a really random answer and store it in your password manager.

Finally, you also have to stay alert to phishing attacks, where a hacker sends you an enticing e-mail with a link that sends you to a web page that looks almost like the expected page, but which actually isn't. This sort of thing can bypass two-factor authentication, and is almost certainly what tricked John Podesta and Colin Powell.

The other way hackers can get at your personal stuff is by breaking in to the computers the information is stored on. This is how the Russians got into the Democratic National Committee's network and how a lone hacker got into the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. Sometimes individuals are targeted, as when China hacked Google in 2010 to access the e-mail accounts of human rights activists. Sometimes the whole network is the target, and individuals are inadvertent victims, as when thousands of Sony employees had their e-mails published by North Korea in 2014.

Protecting yourself is difficult, because it often doesn't matter what you do. If your e-mail is stored with a service provider in the cloud, what matters is the security of that network and that provider. Most users have no control over that part of the system. The only way to truly protect yourself is to not keep your data in the cloud where someone could get to it. This is hard. We like the fact that all of our e-mail is stored on a server somewhere and that we can instantly search it. But that convenience comes with risk. Consider deleting old e-mail, or at least downloading it and storing it offline on a portable hard drive. In fact, storing data offline is one of the best things you can do to protect it from being hacked and exposed. If it's on your computer, what matters is the security of your operating system and network, not the security of your service provider.

Consider this for files on your own computer. The more things you can move offline, the safer you'll be.

E-mail, no matter how you store it, is vulnerable. If you're worried about your conversations becoming public, think about an encrypted chat program instead, such as Signal, WhatsApp or Off-the-Record Messaging. Consider using communications systems that don't save everything by default.

None of this is perfect, of course. Portable hard drives are vulnerable when you connect them to your computer. There are ways to jump air gaps and access data on computers not connected to the Internet. Communications and data files you delete might still exist in backup systems somewhere -- either yours or those of the various cloud providers you're using. And always remember that there's always another copy of any of your conversations stored with the person you're conversing with. Even with these caveats, though, these measures will make a big difference.

When secrecy is truly paramount, go back to communications systems that are still ephemeral. Pick up the telephone and talk. Meet face to face. We don't yet live in a world where everything is recorded and everything is saved, although that era is coming. Enjoy the last vestiges of ephemeral conversation while you still can.

This essay originally appeared in the Washington Post.

18 Mar 02:02

Nearly $2 billion has been wiped off bitcoin’s value in three days all because of a fork


Meanwhile, STEEM more than doubled in the last 24 hours.

Nearly $2 billion has been wiped off bitcoin’s value in three days all because of a fork

"To understand the issue, it's key to look at how bitcoin transactions are processed" writes Arjun Kharpal for Just under $2 billion has been wiped off the value of bitcoin in under three days as a fight over the future of the technology underpinning the cryptocurrency wages on.This is down from highs of $1,255.32 on Tuesday, which valued the total bitcoin pile at $20.36 billion.
17 Mar 13:27

Bitshares is superior to any other crypto and therefore so is Steem

**While the realm of Bitcoin got even more divided, Ethereum and Monero got trade hyped, while Dash went off a slope, Bitshares went through a test that should attract some attention. And therefore so should Steem. You know why? Because it is going to be all about transaction speed, cost and the ability to scale fast, not tomorrow, but now! One block every ten minutes, or one every 60 seconds, or the slowed down complex ethereum one? Forget it, they cannot do it! Countdown like this: "3-2-1" and you know how fast block times are for Bitshares and Steem... Yes, former Bitshares and Steem developer Daniel Larimer is moving on to new (blockchain) adventures, but he can do so, because he left behind something that can be build further upon.** Currently there is no known blockchain technology out there that is able to even get close to the transaction speed and the amount of transactions per second of Bitshares and Steem. To make it very clear here, mister Vays is a very bad advisor when it comes to Bitshares and Steem. He did hurt these platforms systematically, even when he admited that he does not understand the blockchain technology, at all. So please do distinguish facts from 'Vaysction'... Now I almost lost my cool there. Some curse words came to mind, yet I managed to keep them inside. ### The stresstest proves it At a good day Bitcoin can do about 160 Transactions Per Second {TXS}. If it scales to 4MB per block that would go up to about 640 TXS. Most of the other cryptocoins work the same way. Now, let's give Dash some thumbs up for maybe being able to hit 1600 TXS. It is mainly future talk by the way. Just like decentralized exchanges for these coins and things like that. And smart contracts on Ethereum, might be clever, yet extremely slow. Not even brought up the thing that lead to a blockchain split. Bitcoin seems to be going the same way, due to a dispute between developement teams. Monero, is mainly a mix and match technique, to try and hide transactions. How fast is it, and how well does it scale? Yes, the market, well, that is mostly about speculation, not about knowledge. [Recently the Bitshares testnetwork did a stresstest]( And this is in the here and now, mind you. Right now that network can do 3300 transactions per second. That means 198000(!) transactions per minute. Being able to do 14000 Operations Per Second {OPS}, it bit more than 4 operations per transaction, per second. That is now, not in the future, not over a month, or a next fork that still needs to be accepted by a network of miners. No, this is NOW! You want to see a superior blockchain technology at work? Well, if you are on Steem, you are actually part of it already. Bitshares and Steem did basicaly come from the same technology base, both originally created by Daniel Larimer and now continued by other enthousiastic and talented developers. And you need proof of this incredible superior blockchain technology? ### You can see it for yourself There is a site that shows life statistics for Bitshares, Bitshares testnet and Steem(!). Just [CLICK HERE]( to pay it a visit. There is a dropdown menu that lets you select which network you want to watch. The main reason Bitshares and its code cousin Steem work at such great speeds is because they do their blocks on the count of three. So, what discussion about scaling? Or User Issued Assets, you may call them coins too if you want too. And confirmation times? Where? Not at Bitshares, not at Steem. Where is that decentralized exchange for all these other slow blockchaines? Not even to start about the costs of transactions. And if you have an account at Steem, you know how fun it is to give Steem Power, Steem Backed Dollar or Steem to any other account. With a message it is even more fun, as cheap as 0.001 STEEM, such fun, now can your DOGE do that? In my opinion Steem and Bitshares are extremely under valued. But that is due to the capital locked into the classic blokchains and the way they have been hyped for a long time. At some point though the more smart investors will move to the superior blockchain technology. Especialy because it has a lot of growth potential, not to be found anywhere else currently. And it can do so much more than just move value around, yet even at that Bitshares and Steem excell! ### The future is already here Bitshares is going to add private transactions as part of the developement and Steem has only just begun to evolve, still in beta (experimental) fase. Exciting times, they are, more to come, but for us the future is already where we are at. Just realize how that works, 3-2-1 and another block added. Now compare that to 10 minutes, taking sometimes more than an hour to confirm, that's Bitcoin. And Dash makes that 6 times faster, true, but it still is not near 3-2-1. If you are using Bitshares and/ or Steem, you are in that high speed realm, there you go, another one, 3-2-1... Maybe you did not grasp the extreme speed and the sheer power of the Bitshares and Steem blockchain networks. Hopefully you do now, or a bit more, at least. And even though Daniel Larimer might have moved on to new and exciting future developements, he did create it. Were now other clever developers can take the solid working foundation and move it forward into the future even more. _Now is it not exciting, can you feel the vibe?_ # Steem 'n Roll and have a splendid weekend! _License: cc0/public domain. Image by @oaldamster, background 'bitcoin' photo by [Benjamin Nelan at Pixabay](
17 Mar 13:19

“My Toddler Was Almost Sex-Trafficked from the Grocery with Me Standing There.” Oh Really?

by lskenazy

This story comes from a reader named Jennifer who wrote:

So I am in 3 separate mommy groups and each of them in the past few days has posted this OMG! alert:
Jennifer’s plea: Stop this insanity from gaining credibility!

I’m trying. Here’s the viral post:

My name is Amanda and I’m a Longview, Texas resident. I’m convinced that our two-year-old daughter was the victim of a potential sex-trafficking scam yesterday.

I got in the check-out line at a local store early afternoon. I took my daughter out of the cart and the couple ahead struck up the typical conversation about how “cute your daughter is” and then asked about her age, repeatedly. I initially was understanding of what I assumed was a cultural barrier, but I quickly became uncomfortable with the woman’s body language and close proximity to my cart/kids. I picked my daughter up only to have the woman ask if she could hold her. The woman was so close at this point that my toddler reached her arms around the woman before I could really respond. In an instant her proximity finally changed and she backed away. I grabbed back on to my daughter as the woman was saying, “Say bye to mommy”—what an unusual comment to provoke a child to say. The woman resisted returning her when I physically pulled my daughter from her arms.

Know their conversation began immediately with me and this all took place over only a few moments. After this couple left, I was really shaken up but still noticed the man a few feet away in my peripheral vision, continuing to stand, by himself, with no groceries, in a closed check-out lane. He faced the opposite direction, but was looking over his shoulder at me; glaring would be an understatement. His eyes did not leave my every move and I confidently matched his stare to show I was aware of his presence. I loudly conversed with the cashier about their security staff and the odd couple that seemed predatory.

I’m thankful to Jesus that He alone protected us! I was able to get out and home safely with my family.

I’ve since researched sex-trafficking and some details were precisely my experience. I want to recount those specifics to create awareness in hopes that you can protect your own children.

She goes on to list all sorts of things like, “The woman checked out with two items of little value [that] she could easily abandon.” As if not having a cartload of groceries is so unusual as to be frightening. Then she concludes:

Please SHARE this with your friends to raise awareness about this critical issue that is happening right under our noses. Together, we can END IT.

The idea that a child  would be plucked FROM ITS MOM in PUBLIC by THREE PEOPLE, all in cohoots, is almost beyond the plot of a Liam Neeson movie.

But you don’t have to listen to me deconstruct this scenario. I sent the piece to David Finkelhor, director of the  Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, a scholarly organization solely devoted to the study and prevention of just such crimes. He wrote:

If you look at the victimization dangers for 2-year-old kids, the overwhelming, overwhelming perpetrator category — for abduction, sexual abuse, homicide and sex trafficking (very rare for that age) — is their caregivers. Fathers, mothers, uncles, grandparents, day care operators and baby sitters.

Stranger abduction of children so young is minuscule, maybe under half a dozen a year.

When they do occur, the motive is more likely to be wanting to have a child to raise, ransom or wanting to retaliate against someone for some offense (e.g a drug dealer who wants to extract money from a client), not sex trafficking.

Moreover, child abduction rarely occurs in a crowded public venue like that, where help would be easy to muster.  Most sex trafficking lures and abductions are of teenagers.

It’s hard to say what was going on in this interaction with foreign looking people, and maybe something sinister was afoot, but this mom makes a lot of strong assumptions.  It does illustrate how immigration and diversity can so easily escalate to unease.   Parents should spend their worry time on other perils.

Perils like what a steady diet of Facebook hysteria is doing to their nerves. – L.


Wave bye-bye to the sex traffickers! (Photo from BabyCenter)



17 Mar 13:01

What economic lessons about medical costs can we learn from the competitive market for cosmetic procedures?

by Mark Perry

h/t Whig Zhou

Between 1998 and 2016 prices for “Medical Care Services” in the US (as measured by the BLS’s CPI for Medical Care Services) more than doubled (+100.5% increase) while the prices for “Hospital and Related Services” (data here) nearly tripled (+177% increase). Those increases in the costs of medical-related services compare to only a 47.2% increase in consumer prices in general over that period (BLS data here). On an annual basis, the cost of medical care services in the US have increased almost 4% per year since 1998 and the cost of hospital services increased annually by 5.8%. In contrast, overall inflation averaged only 2.2% per year over that period. The only consumer product or service that has increased more than medical care services and about the same as hospital costs over the last several decades is college tuition and fees, which have increased nearly 6% annually since 1998 for public universities.

One of the reasons that the costs of medical care services in the US have increased more than twice as much as general consumer prices since 1998 is that a large and increasing share of medical costs are paid by third parties (private health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, Department of Veterans Affairs, etc.) and only a small and shrinking percentage of health care costs are paid out-of-pocket by consumers. According to government data, almost half (47.6%) of health care expenditures in 1960 were paid by consumers out-of-pocket, and by 1990 that share had fallen to 19% and by 2015 to only 10.5% (see chart above). It’s no big surprise that overall health care costs have continued to rise over time as the share of third-party payments has risen to almost 90% and the out-of-pocket share approaches 10%. Consumers of health care have significantly reduced incentives to monitor prices and be cost-conscious buyers of medical and hospital services when they pay only about 10% themselves, and the incentives of medical care providers to hold costs down are greatly reduced knowing that their customers aren’t paying out of pocket and aren’t price sensitive.

How would the market for medical services operate differently if prices were transparent and consumers were paying out-of-pocket for medical procedures in a competitive market? Well, we can look to the $15 billion US market for elective cosmetic surgery for some answers. In every year since 1997, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery has issued an annual report on cosmetic procedures in the US (both surgical and nonsurgical) that includes the number of procedures, the average cost per procedure (starting in 1998), the total spending per procedure, and the age and gender distribution for each procedure and for all procedures. Here is a link to the press release for the 2016 report, and the full report is available here.

The table above (click to enlarge) displays the 20 cosmetic procedures that were available in both 1998 and 2016, the average prices for those procedures in each year (in current dollars), the number of each of those procedures performed in those two years, and the percent increase in average price for each procedure between 1998 and 2016. The procedures are ranked by the number of procedures last year. Here’s are some interesting finding from this year’s report and the table above:

  1. For the top ten most popular cosmetic procedures displayed above for last year, none of them has increased in price since 1998 more than the 47.2% increase in overall consumer prices, meaning that the real, inflation-adjusted price of all ten of those procedures has fallen over the last 18 years.
  2. For the three most popular procedures in 2016 (botox, laser hair removal and chemical peel – all nonsurgical cosmetic procedures), the nominal price for each has actually fallen since 1998 by large double-digit percentage declines of -11.3%, -21.7% and -34.8% respectively. That is, the prices for those prices have fallen in price since 1998 measured in current dollars, even before making any adjustments for inflation. Note also that the demand for those three procedures has increased dramatically, especially botox procedures (29 time increase since 1998) and laser hair removal (9.5 time increase).
  3. The two most popular surgical cosmetic procedures last year were liposuction and breast augmentation, which have increased in current dollar prices by 30.6% and 26.2% respectively since 1998. Both of those average price increases were less than the 47.2% increase in consumer prices over the last 18 years, meaning that the real, inflation-adjusted prices for liposuction and breast augmentation procedures have fallen since 1998.
  4. The average price increase between 1998 and 2016 for the 20 cosmetic procedures displayed above was 32%, which is less than the 47.2% increase in consumer prices in general. Of the 20 procedures above, 14 increased in price by less than overall inflation (and therefore decreased in real terms) and only six increased in price by more than inflation. And most importantly, none of the 20 cosmetic procedures in the table above have increased in price by anywhere close to the 100.5% increase in the price of medical care services or the 176.7% increase in hospital services since 1998. The largest cosmetic procedure price increase since 1998 was the nearly 70% increase for upper arm lift surgery, which is still far below the doubling of prices for medical services overall.
  5. As in previous years, there was a huge gender imbalance for cosmetic procedures last year – women accounted for 12.43 million procedures and more than 91% of the 13.65 million total cosmetic procedures performed last year.

MP: The competitive market for cosmetic procedures operates differently than the traditional market for health care in important and significant ways. Cosmetic procedures, unlike most medical services, are not usually covered by insurance. Patients paying 100% out-of-pocket for elective cosmetic procedures are cost-conscious, and have strong incentives to shop around and compare prices at the dozens of competing providers in any large city. Providers operate in a very competitive market with transparent pricing and therefore have incentives to provide cosmetic procedures at competitive prices. Those providers are also less burdened and encumbered by the bureaucratic paperwork that is typically involved with the provision of most standard medical care with third-party payments. Because of the price transparency and market competition that characterizes the market for cosmetic procedures, the prices of most cosmetic procedures have fallen in real terms since 1998, and some non-surgical procedures have even fallen in nominal dollars before adjusting for price changes. In all cases, cosmetic procedures have increased in price by far less than the 100.5% increase in the price of medical care services between 1998 and 2016 and the 176.6% increase in hospital services. In summary, the market for cosmetic surgery operates like other competitive markets with the same expected results: falling real prices over time for many cosmetic procedures.

Question: If cosmetic procedures were covered by third-party payers like insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid, what would have happened to their prices over time? Basic economics tell us that those prices would have most likely risen at about the same 100.5% increase in the prices of medical services in general between 1998 and 2016. The main economic lesson here is that the greater the degree of market competition, price transparency and out-of-pocket payments, the more contained prices are, in health care or any other sector of the economy. Another important economic lesson is that the greater the degree of government intervention, opaque prices and third-party payments, the less contained prices are, in health care or any other sector of the economy. Some important lessons to consider as we attempt to reform national health care…. once again.


17 Mar 12:04

Writer Offers Solution to Heckler’s Veto on College Campuses

by Aleister
Hold them to the same rules as the speaker.
14 Mar 22:08

Bitcoin is Now Useless for Micropayments, But Solutions are Coming

by Kyle Torpey

STEEM should also have been mentioned here, with its free transactions and guaranteed confirmation in 45 seconds.

14 Mar 21:34

Can a 4-Year-Old Walk to School? Or Walk 5 Miles in the Snow, In the Dark, in Siberian Winter, Lighting Fires When Necessary, to Fetch Help for Her Grandfather?

by lskenazy

Since you might have missed your latest copy of The Siberian Times, here’s a story for you, perfect for a blizzard:

Little Saglana Salchak has spoken for the first time about her sad 6 hour trek through treacherous snow drifts with wolves around to get to a neighbour’s home from her grandparents’ remote farmstead.

Miserable at finding her 60 year old grandmother ‘cold’, she was sent to call for help by her grandfather Borbak who is totally blind. He did not realise the time he told her to make the walk: it was 5 am, a pitch dark.

The four year old took matches, which she could use to light a fire, and followed the tracks of a horse sled, partly on a frozen river, which she knew led to the neighbour’s home.

‘It was very cold and I was so hungry,’ said the intrepid girl. ‘But I wasn’t scared. I was just walking, walking, walking. And I finally got there.’

That she did. In a land where there are bears (hibernating) ad wolves (who aren’t). As a local explained:

Tuva is crowded with wolves. They plague the cattle, and shepherds groan because of  them. In the dark she could easily have stumbled on a pack….This girl was lucky that she did not meet them. Her only hope would have been to climb a tree.”

Okay, that is ALL amazing, But one bit of that amazingness is that while we worry when kids climb trees,  elsewhere kids’ safety DEPENDS on them climbing trees.

Clearly this girl was extraordinary even by Siberian standards, or her story wouldn’t have made the papers. But she reminds us just how incredibly competent kids can be, even — maybe especially — when unsupervised.

This is knowledge we have lost just as surely as the knowledge of how to skin a bear, build a sleigh, or make a fire in the forest in the snow in the dark.

At age 4. – L.


Saglana can probably walk to school by herself, too. (Pictures reprinted from Siberian Times, which reprinted them from NTV, Yury Darbaa)



14 Mar 21:17

Progressive Narrative Fail: Why Are Low Income Workers and the Unemployed Running from High Minimum Wage States to Low Minimum Wage States?

by admin

I think many folks are aware of how certain wealthy neighborhoods use zoning to keep out the lower-income people they don't want around  (e.g. minimum lot sizes, minimum home sizes, petty harassment over home and lawn maintenance, etc.)  If you think of California as one big rich neighborhood, many of their labor and housing laws have this same effect of keeping lower income people out.

From the Sacramento Bee

Every year from 2000 through 2015, more people left California than moved in from other states. This migration was not spread evenly across all income groups, a Sacramento Bee review of U.S. Census Bureau data found. The people leaving tend to be relatively poor, and many lack college degrees. Move higher up the income spectrum, and slightly more people are coming than going.

About 2.5 million people living close to the official poverty line left California for other states from 2005 through 2015, while 1.7 million people at that income level moved in from other states – for a net loss of 800,000.

The leading destination for those leaving California is Texas, with about 293,000 economically disadvantaged residents leaving and about 137,000 coming for a net loss of 156,000 from 2005 through 2015. Next up are states surrounding California; in order, Arizona, Nevada and Oregon.

Wow, I am totally lost.  The minimum wage currently in California is $10.50 an hour, going up to $15 over the next 5 years.  The minimum wage in Texas is the Federal minimum at $7.25.  If I understand it right from progressives, minimum wages are a windfall for workers that raise wages without any reduction in employment.  So why are the very people California claims it is trying to help leaving the state in droves?  For unenlightened Texas, of all places.

Of course the reason is that minimum wages do indeed have employment effects.If you think of California as one big rich neighborhood, minimum wages act as a zoning plan to keep the "unwashed" out.  Setting a minimum wage of $15 is equivalent to saying, "if your skills and education and experience are low enough that your labor is not yet worth $15 an hour or more, stay out."

Of course, there are a lot more problems for jobs in California than just minimum wages.  At every turn, California works to make operating a business difficult and hiring unskilled workers more expensive.  And then there is the cost side.  With its building restrictions and environmental rules, most California cities have artificially inflated housing costs, just another way to tell lower income  people to keep out.

Well-paid new arrivals in California enjoy a life that is far out of reach of much of the state’s population. Besides Hawaii and New York, California has the highest cost of living in America.

During the past three years in Sacramento, median rent for a one-bedroom apartment has risen from about $935 a month to $1,230 a month, according to real estate tracking firm A single mother working 40 hours a week at $15 an hour would spend nearly half of her gross income to afford an apartment at that price. She would pay about 10 percent less for a one-bedroom rental in Houston or Dallas.

Sacramento remains relatively affordable compared to other California markets. Median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles is about $2,270 a month. In San Francisco, $3,700. Without subsidies, those prices are unreachable for a single parent making $15 an hour.

The key to attacking poverty is creating more jobs, not artificially raising the rates of entry-level jobs.

14 Mar 18:59

Remy: Fake News

by ReasonTV

Remy stops by CNN to deal with "Fake News."

Written and Performed by Remy. Produced by Austin Bragg.

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Reason is the planet's leading source of news, politics, and culture from a libertarian perspective. Go to for a point of view you won't get from legacy media and old left-right opinion magazines.



Nothing else to report, Ed
as we've been banned from the press gaggle
and labeled as "fake news" by the president.

We'll have to prove him wrong. Thanks Tim.

Trump's approval numbers have gone to new lows
according to a new poll--and we're never wrong about those
And is Starbucks' new cup bringing people to tears
No, but we'll find two tweets like we do every year

Uh, Ed? Yes Tim? Look, this is obviously bad
But do you think we could maybe help our case a tad
They say we're not news, that we just make stuff up
My apologies, Tim, I'll fix that right up

A nurse shark bit a man in a Florida park
Could this summer be the SUMMER OF SHARKS
Plus, a product you own causes death exponentially
The answer to that misleading question eventually

Ed, you're hiding the cause of acute meningitis
Do you see why perhaps there are folks who don't like us
I really believe that they're flatly just wrong
But could you just help me a little? Can do Cap-i-tan.

A Hero Is Born! Meet the daring A.G.
who won't enforce the laws with which she disagrees
Plus, Kim Davis, the mouth-breathing slob
Should we jail public servants who won't do their jobs?

Okay, see, that's what I mean. That's what they accuse
That we color the coverage to match with our views
Should we not be objective and foster a trust?
I suppose you're right, Tim. I'll do what I must

A World on the Brink! Perils unfurled
as Trump speaks with the most dangerous man in the world
Plus, Mitt Romney's gaffes just don't seem to slow
His moronic claim Russia is our biggest foe


Finally, it's given all journalists stupors
But proof has been found by Pricewaterhouse Coopers
The President making with great genuflection
concessions to Russia if he wins the election

A White House in chaos? We give you a peak
at the transcripts we got from a delightful new leak
Plus, Edward Snowden, the traitor abroad
Should leakers be hung like the cowards they are?
14 Mar 18:57

Ones-complement arithmetic: it lives!

by Eric Raymond

Most hackers know how the twos-complement representation of binary numbers works, and are at least aware that there was an older representation called “ones-complement” in which you negated a binary number by inverting each bit.

This came up on the NTPsec development list recently, with a question about whether we might ever have to port to a non-twos-complement machine. To my utter, gob-smacked astonishment, it turns out ones-complement systems still exist – though, thankfully, not as an issue for us.

I thought I could just mumble something about the CDC 6600 and be done, but if you google “one’s-complement machines” you’ll find that Unisys still ships a series of machines with the brand “Clear-Path Dorado” (latest variant introduced 2015) that are emulations of their old 1100-series mainframes running over Intel Xeon hardware – and these have one’s-complement arithmetic.

This isn’t a practical port blocker for NTPsec, as NTP will never run over the batch OS on these things – it’s about as POSIX-compatible as the Bhagavad-Gita. It’s just weird and interesting that ones-complement machines survive in any form at all.

And a bit personal for me. My father was a programmer at Univac in the 1950s and early ’60s. He was proud of his work. My very first interaction with a computer ever was getting to play a very primitive videogame on the oscilloscope-based video console of a Univac 1108. This was in 1968. I was 11 years old, and my game machine cost $8M and took up the entire ground floor of an office building in Rome, Italy.

Other than the 1100, the ones-complement machines Wikipedia mentions (LINC, PDP-1, and CDC6600) are indeed all long dead. There was a ones-complement “CDC Cyber” series as late as 1989, but again this was never going to implement POSIX.

About other competitors to twos-complement there is less to say. Some of them are still used in floating-point representations, but I can find no evidence that sign-magnitude or excess-k notation have been used for integers since the IBM 7090 in 1959.

There’s a comp.lang.std.c article from 1993 that argues in some technical detail that that a C compiler is not practical on ones-complement hardware because too many C idioms have twos-complement assumptions baked in. The same argument would apply to sign-magnitude and excess-k.

UPDATE: It seems that Unisys is the graveyard of forgotten binary formats. I have a report that its Clear-Path Libra machines, emulating an ancient Burroughs stack machine architecture, use sign-magnitude representation of integers.

14 Mar 18:55

Solar Road Update -- The Stupid Continues

by admin

The one thing that I can count on is that if someone, somewhere in the world writes on solar roads, I am going to hear about it in my email.  I will confess that I have a soft spot for solar roads -- it is hard not to be entranced by the spectacle of such an incredibly stupid idea that is greeted by so much enthusiasm from nominally "pro-science" types.  My best estimate is that there may be close to a million acres of flat commercial roof space in this country, real estate where solar panels could be free of disturbance and angled optimally for the most power output.  So instead folks just seem to be giddy about putting solar panels on roads, there they cannot be angled and where they have to be hardened against driving and traffic.

So here is your latest update, from Idaho:

Despite massive internet hype, the prototype of solar “road” can’t be driven on, hasn’t generated any electricity and 75 percent of the panels were broken before they were even installed.

Of the panels installed to make a “solar footpath,” 18 of the 30 were dead on arrival due to a manufacturing failure. Rain caused another four panels to fail, and only five panels were functioning shortly thereafter. The prototype appears to be plagued by drainage issues, poor manufacturing controls and fundamental design flaws.

Every single promise made about the prototype seems to have fallen flat and the project appears to be a “total and epic failure,” according to an electrical engineer.

If it had worked, the panels would have powered a single water fountain and the lights in a restroom, after more than $500,000  in installation costs provided by a grant from the state government. The U.S. Department of Transportation initially handed $750,000 in grants to fund the research into the scheme, then invested another pair of grants worth $850,000 into it. The plan, dubbed, “Solar FREAKIN’ Roadways” raised another $2.2 million dollars in crowd-funding, even though several scientists publicly debunked the idea.

Scientists repeatedlycriticized the scheme as panels on roads wouldn’t be tilted to follow the sun, which makes them incredibly inefficient, would often be covered by cars during periods when the sun is out and wouldn’t be capable of serving as a road for long.

Solar FREAKIN’ Roadways has received fawning coverage in The Huffington Post, Nature World News, Newsweek, Wired, Ecowatch and National Geographic. The program was supported by political leaders like Idaho Republican Sen. Mike Crapo.

I don't know if the manufacturing failures here are related to the hardening of the panels that must occur for them to be used for roads, or if they are more typical of the boondoggles one gets when crony companies enrich themselves by selling cr*p on government contracts.

But good news!  If you have extra money that you were just going to throw on the street because it was too much of a hassle to carry in your wallet, you can still give cash to Solar Freakin Roadways instead.



14 Mar 18:54

Scott Pruitt’s statement on climate change

by curryja

by Judith Curry

My analysis of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s recent statements on climate change, and the response to his statements.

Last week, there was a controversial interview of Scott Pruitt on CNBC. A sampling of the headlines reporting on his interview:

New Yorker:  Scott Pruitt rejects climate change reality.  A relatively thorough summary of the interview with Scott Pruitt.

Washington Post:  On climate change, Scott Pruitt causes an uproar — and contradicts the EPA’s own website.

CNBC:  Scott Pruitt’s climate denial is dangerous and out of step.

Guardian: EPA head Scott Pruitt denies that carbon dioxide causes global warming.  Subtitle:  Trump adviser shocks scientists and environmental advocates with statement that negates EPA policy and ‘overwhelmingly clear’ evidence on climate change

David Robert at Vox: Scott Pruitt denies basic climate science. But most of the outrage is missing the point. Subtitle:  It’s not about Pruitt and it’s not about facts. Excerpt: The right’s refusal to accept the authority of climate science is of a piece with its rejection of mainstream media, academia, and government, the shared institutions and norms that bind us together and contain our political disputes.

A number of scientists have responded in various venues regarding their opinion on Scott Pruitt’s statements.  Here I include the ‘official’ statement from the AGU:

AGU Responds to Statements from EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on Climate Change.  Excerpt: The position statement of the American Geophysical Union regarding climate change leaves no doubt that increasing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide resulting from human activity is the dominant source of climate change during the last several decades.

You may recall my concerns about the AGU policy statement on climate change [link]

What Scott Pruitt actually said

Listen to what Scott Pruitt actually said on CNBC and then compare it to the portrayal in the media.  Here is the key text:

I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.  But we don’t know that yet.  We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis.

Can you square what Pruitt actually said with the distorted quotes and headlines about this?  I can’t.

I think that these two statements made by Pruitt are absolutely correct:

I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact

We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis.

The other two statements give slightly conflicting messages:

I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.  But we don’t know that yet.

The main statement of controversy is:

I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.

You can interpret this in two ways:

1.Pruitt is denying that CO2 is a primary contributor to recent global warming


2.Pruitt is saying that he does not accept as a ‘fact’ that CO2 is a primary contributor because we simply don’t know.

Since his subsequent statement is “But we don’t know that yet”, #2 is obviously the correct interpretation.

I think he is saying that he is not convinced that we know with certainty that humans have caused 100% of the recent warming (which is what some climate modelers are saying, see recent tweets from Gavin Schmidt), or that humans have caused ‘more than half’ of the recent warming (which was the conclusion from the IPCC AR5.

JC reflections

If I am interpreting Pruitt’s statements correctly, I do not find anything to disagree with in what he said: we don’t know how much of recent warming can be attributed to humans. In my opinion, this is correct and is a healthy position for both the science and policy debates.

Exactly what the Trump administration intends to do regarding funding climate science, energy policy and the Paris climate agreement presumably remain as subjects of debate within the administration.  Looking at every little leak and quote out of context as a rationale for hysteria simply isn’t rational or useful.

The most interest reaction to all this is David Robert’s vox article:

The right’s refusal to accept the authority of climate science is of a piece with its rejection of mainstream media, academia, and government, the shared institutions and norms that bind us together and contain our political disputes.

The ‘problem’:  a change of administration and party after 8 years, mainstream media no longer has a lock on the media’s message (given all of the new news sources on the internet), academia’s profoundly liberal bias is being challenged, and the consensus that has been negotiated and enforced by certain elite scientists is being challenged.

Three cheers for democracy, the internet and the scientific process.

Filed under: Policy, Politics
10 Mar 16:02

A remedial lesson from Milton Friedman for Team Trump to address its ‘understanding deficit’ of international trade

by Mark Perry

Donald Trump has demonstrated his profound misunderstanding of the basic economic principles of international trade for several years now, and perhaps reached a pinnacle when he told the New York Daily News in an interview last August that “we’re getting hosed by the Chinese — and that we’ve done it with our eyes wide shut.” Here’s more of Trump from that interview, further demonstrating his clueless and child-like misunderstanding of international trade:

“What China has done to America?” he raged. “The money and the jobs they’ve taken from us? It is the greatest single theft in the history of the United States.” In other words, China is to the United States as Bernie Madoff is to investors. “And Japan is almost as bad,” he stormed. “Japan sells us millions of cars — and we sell them wheat!

MP: Alternatively, we might say “What the US has done to China? The manufactured goods we’ve taken from them? It is the greatest single theft in the history of China.” In other words, the United States is to China as Bernie Madoff is to investors. Here’s more from the interview:

“I’ve been saying for years that China would take us down. Why? Because our leaders are stupid and China’s leaders are smart. They sell to us, no taxes, no nothing. We sell them 10% of what they sell us. Ninety percent to 10%! It’s crazy. Our trade deficit with China is like having a business that continues to lose money every single year. Who would do business like that?”

Peter Navarro, in his Wall Street Journal opinion piece earlier this week (see related CD post here) demonstrated his fundamental misunderstanding of international trade when he opened his op-ed with the following question: “Do trade deficits matter?” Just to ask the question is to admit one’s ignorance of trade theory, which has been pretty settled on this topic since Adam Smith taught us in 1776 that “Nothing…can be more absurd than this whole doctrine of the balance of trade.”

To help Mr. Trump and Mr. Navarro with their “understanding deficit” about international trade theory and trade deficits, it’s a good time to invoke the timeless wisdom of Milton Friedman (featured on CD here), presented below as a remedial refresher on some of the most basic principles of international trade (updated for today):

In the international trade area, the political rhetoric is almost always about how we must export, and what’s really good for America is an industry that produces exports. And if we buy from abroad and import lots of goods from countries like China, Japan and Mexico, that’s supposed to be bad. In the words of Donald Trump, we are getting “hosed,” “ripped off,” “crushed,” and killed” by our trade partners who then laugh at us as they supposedly steal our jobs.

But clearly that is backwards and upside-down thinking. After all, the goods we send abroad to other countries we now can’t eat ourselves, we can’t wear, and we can’t use for our homes and households. Simply put, the goods and services we export and send abroad are goods and services not available to us. On the other hand, the goods and services we import from China, Japan, Germany and Mexico provide Americans with TV sets we can watch, automobiles we can drive, food we can eat, with all sorts of nice things for us to use.

Here are two important points about trade that Mr. Trump and Mr. Navarro need to understand: 1) the economic gain to Americans from foreign trade is what we import from countries like China, Japan and Mexico, and 2) what we export is the cost of getting those imports. And the proper objective for a nation as Adam Smith put it, is to arrange things, so we get as large a volume of imports as possible from China, Japan and Mexico, for as small a volume of our exports as possible.

This carries over to the terminology we hear Mr. Trump and Mr. Navarro use. When they talk about a favorable balance of trade, what is that term taken to mean? It’s taken to mean that we export more than we import. But from the point of view of our economic well-being and our standard of living, that’s an unfavorable balance. That means we’re sending out more goods and getting fewer in return. Each of you in your private household would know better than that. You don’t regard it as a favorable balance when you have to send out more goods to get less coming in. It’s favorable when you can get more by sending out less.



The post A remedial lesson from Milton Friedman for Team Trump to address its ‘understanding deficit’ of international trade appeared first on AEI.

10 Mar 12:04

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