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25 Sep 19:07

America once again ranks as a top ten nation for economic freedom. But there’s a twist … - Publications – AEI

by James Pethokoukis

AEI
America once again ranks as a top ten nation for economic freedom. But there’s a twist …

Economic Freedom of the World: 2018 Annual Report from the Fraser Institute

To the extent “Make America Great Again” is an economic argument, it’s one that doesn’t make much sense. During the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump described America as pretty much a failed state, even using the phrase “third world country” multiple times. As he told The Washington Post, “I think we were a very powerful, very wealthy country. And we’re a poor country now.” This dystopian view was also part of the claim that 2016 was the “Flight 93” election where the nationalist 99% had one final chance to “charge the cockpit” and seize control from globalist Davoisie oligarchy running Washington and ruining America.

Of course, exploiting economic discontent is what so-called populists do, whether they are of the left or right. And they aren’t going to let facts — such as America having a net worth of over $100 trillion — get in their way. Yet it’s worth making sure those facts stay front and center as much as possible. Helpful in this endeavor is the new “Economic Freedom of the World” report from the Fraser Institute, which “measures the degree to which the policies and institutions of countries are supportive of economic freedom.” And some good news: America is back in the top ten. The US economy scores particularly high in areas such as “sound money” and “regulation.”

So give some credit to Trumponomics? Not really. Turns out that the underlying data is from 2016, as the Cato Institute’s Scott Lincicome helpfully notes on Twitter. Indeed, the comprehensive US score bottomed in 2011 after a long decline since 2000. It will be interesting to see if the next report shows the recovery that started during the Obama presidency continuing into the Trump years. One criteria that may trip up the future US ranking: “freedom to trade internationally.”

America once again ranks as a top ten nation for economic freedom. But there’s a twist …
James Pethokoukis

25 Sep 15:42

Video: What’s wrong with the surface temperature record?

by Anthony Watts
This was a surprise to me. A previous presentation I made on the issues with the surface temperature record got turned into a video. From the YouTube description: Anthony Watts, founder and editor at wattsupwiththat.com, explains why the oft-reported surface temperature record is inaccurate, misleading, and an insult to proper science. Some graphics in this…
24 Sep 17:53

HODL No More? The Amount of Bitcoin in Active Wallets Is Near Record Highs

by Leigh Cuen
An increasing amount of bitcoin is held by active individual users, suggesting the market is ripe for transactional growth, according to Chainalysis.
23 Sep 15:07

When Blockchains Go Down: Why Crypto Outages Are on the Rise

by David Floyd
It used to be that downtime was unheard of on blockchain networks. As new protocols and new trade-offs emerge, that's no longer the case.
23 Sep 15:03

New Mining Manufacturer Linzhi Announces Ethereum ASIC Miner

by Nick Marinoff
Want to Learn More About Mining? There’s a New Summit for That

Chen Min, the former chief chip maker at Bitcoin mining chip developer Canaan Creative, is turning her attention to Ethereum. Announcing her venture at the Ethereum Classic Summit in Seoul, South Korea, Chen’s new company, Linzhi, will focus on building cryptocurrency mining devices, and its first official products are a series of application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) miners designed specifically for Ethereum and Ethereum Classic.

Ethereum ASIC miners are relatively new. The first group arrived five months ago in April by way of Bitcoin mining giant Bitmain. Known as Antminer E3s, they were first shipped out last July and cost approximately $800 per unit. The first batch sold out almost immediately despite several selling limits, including Bitmain’s “one unit per user” principle, and restrictions on shipping to both Taiwan and China. The company had been touting its new technology since early February.

Susquehanna analyst Christopher Rolland was one of the first voices to break the news. Rolland explained, “During our travels through Asia last week, we confirmed that Bitmain has already developed an ASIC for mining Ethereum, and is readying the supply chain for shipments in [Q2 2018].”

Unfortunately, the Ethereum community has posed several problems for Bitmain by seeking to halt the use of ASICs, which they believe cause centralization and prevent fair competition in the mining arena. Recently, a developer put forth an Ethereum improvement proposal (EIP) suggesting an Ethereum Network hard fork that would ultimately prevent the utilization of ASICs in Ethereum mining.

In addition to this EIP impediment, Bitmain faced criticism for the release of its latest chip, the Antminer X3, which was built to mine Monero. The currency’s founder, Riccardo “Fluffypony” Spagni, claimed that the chip would be rendered inoperable by the time it was ready for release given that Monero was scheduled for a hard fork that would make it immune to ASICs.

Furthermore, Monero would undergo biannual changes that developers asserted would discourage both the centralization of mining and the use of ASICs when mining the currency. Prior to selling the chip, Bitmain posted on its website that the risks of cryptocurrency mining could be “related to changes in exchange rates of the cryptocurrency or to changes in the algorithm that is used to mine the cryptocurrency.” It also asked customers to “please deliberate well before making a purchase,” as they would not be processing any refunds.

During her talk at the Ethereum Classic Summit this week, Chen claimed that Linzhi’s new Ethereum miner would use only one-eighth of the power consumed by Bitmain’s devices. In addition, she said it would run at about 1,400 million hashes per second — a sizable increase compared to the 190 million hashes per second that Bitmain’s Antminers produce. If Chen’s claims hold up, Linzhi’s product could produce as much as $20 in ether per day — about $17 more than what miners would make using a Bitmain miner. At this rate, Chen believes the money people would pay for a unit could be earned back in as little as four months.

The miner is slated for release by April 2019, though Chen has yet to offer a figure of what a single mining unit might cost.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

23 Sep 14:27

Curve-Fitting

Remlaps

h/t Mccand

Cauchy-Lorentz: "Something alarmingly mathematical is happening, and you should probably pause to Google my name and check what field I originally worked in."
23 Sep 14:20

eCash Founder David Chaum Makes Bold Promises with Elixxir Blockchain

by Jimmy Aki
eCash Founder David Chaum Claims Invention of World’s Fastest Blockchain

Over 30 years after creating eCash, a predecessor of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies which spawned the Cypherpunk movement of the 1980s, Dr. David Chaum is back in the public eye with a claim of having invented “the world’s fastest cryptocurrency.”

Chaum is widely regarded as the forefather of cryptocurrencies and the wider world of cryptographic security and online privacy because of his pioneering security research work in the ’80s. His academic paper, “Blind Signatures for Untraceable Payments,” laid the groundwork for modern cryptography used in securing blockchains and cryptocurrencies. The “private key” and “public key” framework he laid out decades ago is still the basis for how cryptocurrencies are kept secured in wallets.

Birth of Elixxir

Now he claims to have invented the first blockchain in the world with the capacity to handle all the needs of consumer-scale messaging and payments. The new platform, dubbed “Elixxir,” is reportedly able to process hundreds of thousands of confidential, quantum-resistant transactions every second.

According to Chaum, the Elixxir blockchain offers faster and cheaper messaging and payment solutions than all other existing blockchains, with the ability to scale to levels current blockchains cannot dream of. While Elixxir claims to be able to handle hundreds of thousands of concurrent transactions every second with no problem, Ethereum, by comparison, is only capable of handling about 15 transactions per second.

In correspondence with Bitcoin Magazine, Chaum said the response to Elixxir has been overwhelming.

"Since our announcement, 24 hours ago, we’ve had over 600 express interest in running nodes and thousands express interest in our community. Our team is delighted and humbled by the response, and we look forward to further growing and working with our community."

Building on the background of eCash alongside more recent cryptographic innovations, Chaum claims that Elixxir will give users the benefit of speed and scalability on the level of non-blockchain platforms like PayPal or Visa — something which, if it can deliver, promises to be a game changer for the crypto industry regarding mass adoption.

Huge Promises

According to Chaum, Elixxir succeeds at two majors things that other blockchains generally fail at. The first is that it has changed the makeup of the digital signatures used to verify ownership of cryptocurrency tokens. In his view, modern digital signatures are too much of a computational hassle, which in turn prevents blockchain platforms from scaling or achieving anything approaching the speed of non-blockchain networks. Elixxir will use one digital signature per block for each node contributing to that block.

"There's no way we can get speed and scalability if for every transaction a server has to do a public key operation like making a signature or checking a signature. We can cheat a little bit,” Chaum remarked at the recently concluded Consensus event in Singapore.

Elixxir effectively “cheats” by carrying out public key operations “in advance,” a framework that Chaum claims has not been attempted before, and which delivers speeds that are up to 1,000 times faster than any other blockchain in existence. This, Chaum says, is a breakthrough.

When asked if his blockchain can rival some popular networks such as Lightning, Chaum said, "Elixxir can take blockchain to a new level.

"A consumer messaging and payment app with performance, privacy and capacity that consumers are used to with today’s centralized systems. But at the same time, it can be resistant to attack even at the national adversary level."

In addition to speed, Elixxir’s cryptography “cheating” effectively future proofs the network against the specter of quantum computer attacks at a time when there is a substantial amount of debate over whether quantum computing poses a threat to blockchains.

For now, the project remains focused on transactions and is still not ready to hit the market anytime soon. Nevertheless, Chaum believes that Elixxir could eventually grow into much more than just a cryptocurrency by becoming a fixture in online security frameworks.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

20 Sep 20:36

Meet the Robot Lawyer Fighting Fines, Fees, and Red Tape

by ReasonTV

Joshua Browder is trying to cut red tape and upend the legal services industry with DoNotPay, a company that's running a "denial of service attack on the legal system."

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----------------

Joshua Browder is trying to upend the legal services industry. His company, DoNotPay, has built an AI-powered chatbot that interviews users about their legal problems in plain English and then uses their answers to complete and submit legal paperwork on their behalf.

Browder describes DoNotPay as "the world's first robot lawyer," and believes that the system he's building will one day be able to address the majority of legal issues.

"DoNotPay will have succeeded if the word 'lawyer' is completely removed from the dictionary for average people," Browder told Reason.

The 21-year-old entrepreneur from the UK, who taught himself to code by watching YouTube videos, lives and works with his eight-person team out of the same Palo Alto house that Mark Zuckerberg rented during his first summer in California building Facebook. Browder says the legal industry is so ripe for disruption through software because most services involve nothing more than standardized processes and boilerplate language.

DoNotPay initially focused on fighting parking tickets because Browder views them as an unfair tax on the poor. He says DoNotPay has succeeded in overturning citations about half the time, saving users $16 million in fines over its first three years. Now, operating on just over $1 million in venture capital funding, the start-up is expanding to cover a broad range of legal problems.

DoNotPay's app, which is in development, will monitors users' accounts and gets them money back whenever the law allows. It can automatically rebook plane tickets when prices drop, request refunds when banks charge illegal overdraft fees, and help users reclaim security deposits from shady landlords.

Browder says DoNotPay will never charge for any legal services, and he doesn't need much cash to continue expanding and thus has time to figure out a revenue source. This allows the company to serve clients who can't afford to hire lawyers, such as refugees seeking asylum and homeless people applying for public housing in the UK. DoNotPay is also working on a service that helps navigate the US visa process.

"These processes are so bureaucratic that if you have no resources at all, it really is impossible to get the help you need," says Browder. And as long as lawyers have an incentive to keep laws complex and their services expensive, he thinks it will take a bottom-up approach to make the system fair. DoNotPay has built bots that can query automated email, chat, and telephone systems thousands of times to, for example, get users a quick appointment at the DMV.

Browder calls this tactic "DDoSing the legal system to make it better." Beyond helping his users navigate bureaucracy, Browder hopes to flip the script by making legal complexity more of a pain for governments than for average people, and thereby incentivize lawmakers to slash red tape in general.

"There's a $200 billion legal industry at the moment," Browder says, "and DoNotPay will hopefully one day make it free for everyone."

For full text and downloadable versions, go to https://reason.com/reasontv/2018/09/19/robot-lawyer-fights-fines-fees-red-tape

Produced by Justin Monticello. Camera by Monticello and Zach Weissmueller. Music by Gunnar Olsen, Matt Harris, Geographer, Text Me Records & Bobby Renz, and Silent Partner.

Image credit: ID 126279773 © Andrey Popov | Dreamstime.com
20 Sep 20:09

“There Has Never Been An Energy Transition”

by David Middleton
Guest laugh by David Middleton If this wasn’t funny enough… This is too fracking funny.! Richard Newell, Daniel Raimi Aug 17 EXPERT VOICES Despite renewables growth, there has never been an energy transition Since 2010, the costs of producing electricity from solar photovoltaic systems have decreased by more than 80%. Wind and solar now vie…
20 Sep 16:08

Oklahoma City stores will deliver groceries with autonomous vehicles

by Mallory Locklear
Remlaps

h/t Roumen.ganeff

Next year, Oklahoma City residents will be able to have their groceries delivered to them by an autonomous vehicle. Udelv announced this week that a new partnership will bring its self-driving delivery vehicles to the city's largest local chain of gr...
20 Sep 14:22

Why Are Nondiscrimination Statements Not Diverse?

by David Rozado


David Rozado is a Senior Lecturer in the College of Enterprise and Development at Otago Polytechnic (New Zealand).


The term diversity can be operationalized demographically (in terms of race, gender, nationality and the like) or intellectually (in terms of viewpoints, beliefs, political opinion and the like) (Duarte et al. 2014). Numerous studies have shown the severe lack of ideological diversity in universities across the US, with the vast majority of faculty leaning left-of-center (Cardiff & Klein 2005; Inbar & Lammers 2012; Langbert, Quain & B. Klein 2016).

Arguably, one of the largest contributors to viewpoint variance among humans is political orientation, since political beliefs closely align with an individual’s views on a large array of policy and moral issues (Emler, Renwick & Malone 1983).  Thus, the ideological composition of college faculty can serve as a valid proxy to gauge the degree of viewpoint diversity in the Academy.

Despite the marginal representation of non-liberal viewpoints in the Academy, the degree of institutional protection granted to intellectual minorities in universities has been scarcely studied. Said disparity in representation of political opinion within the Academy and its infrequent study motivated the current research to determine the degree of protection that universities provide for intellectual minorities in their institutional statements.

In a recent study (“Why Are Nondiscrimination Policies Not Diverse?“), we carried out a quantitative content analysis for the presence of demographic and intellectual diversity related themes in mission, diversity and non-discrimination statements of US elite universities to compare the degree with which said statements embrace and protect demographic and viewpoint diversity. We have uncovered a relevant pattern, which could be symptomatic of an underlying ideological power structure. While most mission statements and diversity statements in the studied universities openly claim a commitment to protecting and fostering both demographic and viewpoint diversity, only a minority, 14%, explicitly protect viewpoint diversity in their non-discrimination statements. In contrast, archetypal categories of demographic diversity are overwhelmingly protected in non-discrimination statements. We find this disparity suspicious on the grounds of the vast underrepresentation of non-liberal viewpoints in the Academy.

Religious orientation defies straightforward categorization into the 2 clusters of demographic and intellectual diversity since religion can be both interpreted as a set of internal beliefs that relate humanity to the supernatural or transcendental and as a set of cultural practices, texts, sanctified places and organizations. Here, we focus on intellectual diversity associated with nonreligious beliefs, such as non-supernatural or non-transcendental viewpoints, ideas and political opinion. Therefore, we will ignore religion as a partial subtype of intellectual diversity.

 

Methodology

Universities Institutional statements represent a useful source of data for gaining a glimpse into a university perspective on matters of purpose, aspirations, hidden assumptions and power structures. In this work, we carried out a content analysis of 3 widely prevalent University institutional statements: mission, diversity and non-discrimination statements.

Between February and March of 2017, we collected the mission, diversity and non-discrimination statements of 50 elite universities in the US, as ranked by US News University Ranking Charts, 2017. To analyze the content of the gathered institutional statements, we used an emergent coding technique where the themes and categories to be searched in the statements were established following preliminary examination of the data by the authors. Subsequently, 3 human raters examined each statement and binary coded the presence of diversity related themes into 3 tables, one for each type of statement: mission, diversity and non-discrimination (available in the supplementary material). We found high levels of interrater agreement on this task (Fleiss kappa=0.83). A detailed description of the methods used for coding the statements content is available as supplementary material (here).

 

Results

Mission statements 

We found a differential presence of 8 target themes in the studied mission statements (Figure 1). All mission statements analysed explicitly mentioned the commitment of the institution to the “education of students” and the “generation of new knowledge (research)”. The theme of the University serving as an agent for “improving the world“, had a 90% prevalence.  The commitment of the University to “embrace” and/or “promote diversity” appeared in 80% of the mission statements studied.

 

Figure 1: Prevalence of 8 themes across the mission statements of 50 US elite universities.

 

Further analysis about the specific appearance of the diversity theme in mission statements revealed that out of the 40 universities (80% of our sample) that mentioned diversity in their mission statement, 29 (73%), explicitly referred to viewpoint diversity.

 

Diversity statements

Archetypical categories of demographic diversity such as race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression or ethnicity are fairly prevalent in diversity statements, see Figure 2. Interestingly, explicit references to the desire of the institution to promote/welcome viewpoint diversity was the most cited type of diversity, appearing in 88% of the diversity statements studied.

 

Figure 2: Prevalence of demographic and viewpoint diversity categories in diversity statements of 50 US elite universities.

 

Nondiscrimination statements

Analysis of the non-discrimination statements revealed the most striking pattern of this work. Most demographic categories of diversity (race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality, age) were explicitly and overwhelmingly protected in non-discrimination statements, see Figure 3. Oddly, diversity of ideas (beliefs, viewpoints, political orientation) was only explicitly protected (mentioned) in 14% of the non-discrimination statements studied.

 

Figure 3: Prevalence of demographic and viewpoint diversity categories in non-discrimination statements of 50 US elite universities.

 

Discussion

We have uncovered a pattern of elite universities in the U.S. overwhelmingly claiming to embrace both demographic and intellectual diversity in their mission and diversity statements. Yet, only 14 percent of the universities studied explicitly protect viewpoint diversity in their nondiscrimination statements while most archetypical types of demographic diversity receive extensive protection. This stark contrast warrants the question of whether an institution can claim to truly value viewpoint diversity, as most of the studied universities say they do in their mission and diversity statements, when there is no actual protection of viewpoint diversity in their nondiscrimination statements. A related outstanding question is whether the conspicuous absence of viewpoint diversity protection in nondiscrimination statements is intentional or accidental.

The themes and features contained in institutional statements probably reflect the standpoint of those doing the writing— in the case of universities, faculty and university administrators. This raises the question of whether the absence of viewpoint diversity protection in nondiscrimination statements is due to latent hostility from the ideological majority toward nonconforming viewpoint minorities, a not uncommon phenomena in intellectually homogenous groups.

We can conceive of several criticisms regarding this work. First, it could be argued that institutional nondiscrimination statements are simply fixated on complying with federal laws as well as additional ordinances at the state level which specifically forbid discrimination for a number of protected classes, usually demographic subtypes of diversity such as race, gender or ethnicity. Political affiliation or belief is not considered a protected class under federal law, albeit a few states and jurisdictions do protect it (e.g. California, D.C. and New York).

However, as of the writing of this paper, there is also no federal law in the United States protecting individuals against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. A few states provide protection against employment discrimination for those groups, yet thirty U.S. states do not explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity in their antidiscrimination statutes. Still, most of the studied universities have overwhelmingly chosen to provide protection for sexual orientation and gender identity in their nondiscrimination statements, despite not being required to do so by law. Hence, a minority group not being officially protected by federal or state law does not preclude its inclusion in nondiscrimination statements when universities judge that such groups deserve protection. Furthermore, even when not compelled by federal or state law, a minority of universities (14 percent) still chose to explicitly protect viewpoint diversity in their nondiscrimination statements, suggesting that at least some universities recognize a need for protecting underrepresented viewpoints in the Academy.

A counterargument could be made that institutional statements are not a valid source for analysis since they are filled with vague platitudes that attempt to please a large variety of stakeholders with little actual consequence. Additionally, it is not prudent to state definitively that an institution does not protect viewpoint diversity just because their nondiscrimination statements are bereft of explicit language indicating that they do. Actions may confirm or refute the content of the nondiscrimination statement. It is true that mission and nondiscrimination statements, which are required by accreditation agencies and federal law, serve a normative role. However, institutional statements also serve a utilitarian purpose by signaling institutional beliefs, communicating with key stakeholders and protecting underrepresented groups. In that sense, they play a significant role in shaping institutional behavior and are therefore valid objects of analysis when studying the degree of protection offered by universities to demographic or intellectual minorities.

Critics could also point out that humans tend to discriminate more acutely against demographic categories of diversity such as race, sex or nationality than against intellectual types of diversity such as beliefs or political opinion. We find this argument to be at odds with the historical record on discrimination against ideas, such as pervasive political repression and persecution of viewpoints within dictatorial regimes. Recent research even hints at the strong tendency of humans to discriminate in terms of viewpoints by showing how educational attainment is related to decreases in interethnic/interracial prejudice, but also to increases in ideological prejudice (Henry & Napier 2017).

It is conceivable that greater protection of minority viewpoints in the academy could embolden underrepresented intellectual factions, which in turn could lead to polarization and antagonistic relationships between viewpoint clusters. Yet, the empirical evidence on the performance of polarized teams, embodying diverse cognitive resources and perspectives, suggests that such groups, when facing a complex problem, produce ideas, solutions, and designs that outperform those from homogeneous groups (Page 2008; Shi, Teplitskiy, Duede & Evans 2017; Williams & O’Reilly 1998; Jang 2017). Therefore, it would be beneficial for educational institutions to encourage adversarial collaboration of intellectually heterogeneous teams while establishing systems that ensure dissent or debate can take place in a productive and amicable manner.

Finally, it can also be contended that the lack of viewpoint diversity protection in nondiscrimination statements is due to universities’ reluctance to protect individuals or groups with extreme opinions, such as those justifying or inciting violence against other groups. We obviously do not endorse that universities should protect viewpoints that promote violence. Yet, this concern is inconsistent with universities’ attitudes towards religious diversity. Some extreme interpretations of religion can potentially lead certain followers to violent behavior against those they perceived as antagonists. Yet, the potential for occasional violent interpretation of religion does not prevent universities from overwhelmingly protecting religious diversity in their non-discrimination statements.

The results of our work suggest an easy step for educational institutions to wholeheartedly signal their welcoming of intellectual diversity. Namely, proactive institutional protection of viewpoint diversity in their nondiscrimination statements by extending to this type of diversity the same degree of protection already provided to archetypical categories of demographic diversity. Such a policy would communicate to internal and external stakeholders a strong institutional commitment to prevent discrimination and harassment based on ideas.

Full paper:

David Rozado & Stephen Atkins (2018). “Why Are Nondiscrimination Statements Not Diverse?” Academic Questions 31 (3): 295-303.


As an organization that prizes pluralism and disagreement — with more than 2k members holding diverse views on most issues — Heterodox Academy does not really have “official positions.”

Opinions expressed here are those of the author(s). Publication does not imply endorsement by Heterodox Academy or any of its members. We welcome your comments below. Feel free to challenge and disagree, but please try to model the sort of respectful and constructive criticism that makes viewpoint diversity most valuable. Comments that include obscenity or that sound like a tirade or screed are likely to be deleted.

The post Why Are Nondiscrimination Statements Not Diverse? appeared first on Heterodox Academy.

18 Sep 19:29

My Tucker Carlson Interview Last Night, and Calling Out Bill Nye & James Hansen

by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

It didn’t last long, but I was interviewed in one segment on Tucker Carlson’s show of Fox News Channel last evening:

Watch the latest video at foxnews.com

The subject was Hurricane Florence and whether it could be blamed on President Trump (specifically) or humanity (more generally).

You really can’t say much in only a couple of minutes, and it’s difficult when you don’t know what the questions will be. I got a plug in for Anthony Watts’ revealing the deception Bill Nye’s (The Science Guy) faked global-warming-in-a-jar experiment.

How did I get on Tucker’s show? It started when the folks at the Texas Public Policy Foundation asked me to write an op-ed to counter the global warming hype around Hurricane Florence. That was published in USA Today yesterday morning. They also set up several radio talk show interviews during the day, and scored the Tucker Carlson spot several hours before showtime.

I have to drive 2 hours to Nashville for national TV interviews, since our local TV affiliates have stopped honoring requests to handle the studio work here in Huntsville. If it’s a major show, the network pays for a makeup artist to come in and take a few years off my face.

I never get to see TV interview while we are doing them remotely. I have an earpiece and stare into a TV camera. It takes a few times to get used to having a conversation with a camera lens.

The more I think about Bill Nye’s experiment, the more irritated I get with the consensus scientific establishment for not telling Bill Nye that such an experiment cannot work; you cannot demonstrate the greenhouse effect on temperature with CO2 in a glass jar. Scientists who understand atmospheric radiative transfer know that.

The fact that the “Climate 101” video is still out there means the scientific establishment (plus Al Gore, who used it in his “Climate Reality Project”), are complicit in scientific fraud in order to advance the alarmist global warming narrative.

If their evidence for human-caused climate change is so good, they shouldn’t have to fake evidence to support their claims. I realize Bill Nye isn’t part of the climate research establishment, but he has a huge influence on public perception and scientific understanding. James Hansen also has had a huge influence on the public debate, and yet broke NASA rules by speaking to the press and Congress without management approval (and also likely violated the Hatch Act by campaigning politically..yes, he did, ThinkProgress, because he was a member of the Senior Executive Service, which has special Hatch Act rules.. I know because I was one of them, and I resigned NASA rather than have my hands tied).

This is the state of climate science today: if you support the alarmist narrative, you can exaggerate threats and connections with human activities, fake experiments, break government rules, intimidate scientific journal editors (and make them resign),and even violate the law.

As long as you can say you are doing it for the children.

18 Sep 19:22

August 2018 global average temperatures unremarkable

by admin

The latest lower troposphere—the part of the Earth’s atmosphere where weather occurs and life exists—monthly average temperature anomaly from UAH is shown in the revised chart to the top right of this page. Click the thumbnail image for a larger image and table of recent data.

The August figure was 0.19°C, little different from the 2007 Bet base year average of 0.16°C.

18 Sep 13:04

John Stossel 2009 video — Milton Friedman and economists say ‘price gougers’ are heroes and deserve medals - Publications – AEI

by Mark Perry

AEI
John Stossel 2009 video — Milton Friedman and economists say ‘price gougers’ are heroes and deserve medals

The video above “Price Gouging” is one of John Stossel’s educational videos in his series “Stossel in the Classroom.” Here are some “money quotes”:

Milton Friedman: “Gougers deserve a medal.”

Gouger Entrepreneur John Shepperson: “Somebody needs to bring these products to people when there are disasters and emergencies, and this is going to be one person who is not going to be there that they took out of the equation.” Reason? John was arrested for ‘price gouging’ after traveling from Kentucky to Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina with 19 generators that he brought to the devastated area that was without power, and trying to sell those generators above his cost.

Russ Roberts: “People want to live in a world where love motivates people to help others. And love does that. But there’s not enough love to go around. Love for strangers is not going to motivate enough people to get in their trucks, load them up with generators, and take them down to people who are cold and hungry.”

Bonus Videos below:
1st place winners of the 2018 Stossel in the Classroom “Price Gouging” Video Contest.

College Division: Erika Lewis, age 18

High School division: Annelise Kofod, Age 17

John Stossel 2009 video — Milton Friedman and economists say ‘price gougers’ are heroes and deserve medals
Mark Perry

18 Sep 12:38

Commuting in 2017

by Randal O'Toole

The total number of American workers who usually commute by transit declined from 7.65 million in 2016 to 7.64 million in 2017. This continues a downward trend from 2015, when there were 7.76 million transit commuters. Meanwhile, the number of people who drove alone to work grew by nearly 2 million, from 114.77 million in 2016 to 116.74 million in 2017.

These figures are from table B08301 of the 2017 American Community Survey, which the Census Bureau posted on line on September 13. According to the table, the total number of workers in America grew from 150.4 million in 2016 to 152.8 million in 2017. Virtually all new workers drove to work, took a taxi-ride hailing service, or worked at home, as most other forms of commuting, including walking and bicycling as well as transit, declined.

Transit commuting has fallen so low that more people work at home now than take transit to work. Work-at-homes reported for 2017 total to nearly 8.0 million, up from just under 7.6 million in 2016. 

Two other tables, B08119 and B08121, reveal incomes and median incomes of American workers by how they get to work. A decade ago, the average income of transit riders was almost exactly the same as the average for all workers. Today it is 5 percent more as the number of low-income transit riders has declined but the number of high-income – $60,000 or more – has rapidly grown. Median incomes are usually a little lower than average incomes as very high-income people increase the average. In 2017, the median income of transit riders exceeded the median income of all workers for the first time.

For those interested in commuting numbers in their states, cities, or regions, I’ve posted a file showing commute data for every state, about 390 counties, 259 major cities, and 220 urbanized areas. The Census Bureau didn’t report data from smaller counties, cities, and urbanized areas because it deemed the results for those areas to be less statistically reliable. 

The file includes the raw numbers plus calculations showing the percentage of commuters (leaving out people who work at home) who drive alone, carpooled, took transit, (with rail and bus transit broken out separately), bicycled, and walked to work. A separate column shows the percentage of the total who worked at home. The last column estimates the number of cars used for commuting including drive alones and carpoolers.

For comparison, you can download similar files for 2016, 2015, 2014, 2010, 2007 and 2006. The formats of these files may differ slightly as I’ve posted them at various times in the past. Soon, I’ll post similar files for commuting by income and other pertinent topics.

18 Sep 12:19

I Agree With the NY Post: It’s shameful what US Open did to Naomi Osaka

by admin

Via the New York Post".  This is just disgusting:

Naomi Osaka, 20 years old, just became the first player from Japan to win a Grand Slam.

Yet rather than cheer Osaka, the crowd, the commentators and US Open officials all expressed shock and grief that Serena Williams lost.

Osaka spent what should have been her victory lap in tears. It had been her childhood dream to make it to the US Open and possibly play against Williams, her idol, in the final.

It’s hard to recall a more unsportsmanlike event.

Here was a young girl who pulled off one of the greatest upsets ever, who fought for every point she earned, ashamed.

At the awards ceremony, Osaka covered her face with her black visor and cried. The crowd booed her. Katrina Adams, chairman and president of the USTA, opened the awards ceremony by denigrating the winner and lionizing Williams — whose ego, if anything, needs piercing.

“Perhaps it’s not the finish we were looking for today,” Adams said, “but Serena, you are a champion of all champions.” Addressing the crowd, Adams added, “This mama is a role model and respected by all.”

Incredibly, much of the media and powerful celebrities have rallied around Ms. Williams to claim that she is actually the victim. She claims she was a victim of sexism in the match, but she was playing (and getting beat) by another woman.  She claims she was a victim of racism in the match because she is a woman of color, but she was not playing a white woman.  She claims to be a victim of the tennis establishment when in fact she is the most powerful person in women's tennis (maybe ever) and wields far more wealth and power than anyone on that court that day -- a power and privilege demonstrated by the fact that all the other powerful and privileged rallied to her side immediately after the match.

18 Sep 11:55

Study: people tend to cluster into four distinct personality “types”

by Jennifer Ouellette
Remlaps

h/t PheliX

Article intro image

Enlarge / Average, Reserved, Role Model, and Self-centered: not everyone falls into these four categories, but you might. (credit: Northwestern University)

People love taking online quizzes; just ask Buzzfeed and Facebook. A new study has sifted through some of the largest online data sets of personality quizzes and identified four distinct "types" therein. The new methodology used for this study—described in detail in a new paper in Nature Human Behavior—is rigorous and replicable, which could help move personality typing analysis out of the dubious self-help section in your local bookstore and into serious scientific journals.

Frankly, personality "type" is not the ideal nomenclature here; personality "clusters" might be more accurate. Paper co-author William Revelle (Northwestern University) bristles a bit at the very notion of distinct personality types, like those espoused by the hugely popular Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Revelle is an adamant "anti-fan" of the Myers-Briggs, and he is not alone. Most scientists who study personality prefer to think of it as a set of continuous dimensions, in which people shift where they fall on the spectrum of various traits as they mature.

What's new here is the identification of four dominant clusters in the overall distribution of traits. Revelle prefers to think of them as "lumps in the batter" and suggests that a good analogy would be how people tend to concentrate in cities in the United States.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

18 Sep 02:02

YouTube Does Not Actually Understand The Skeptic Position: It Put A Warning On My Climate Video Saying Exactly What I Said

by admin

I have made this point in the past, but very few folks on the warming-panic side of the climate debate actually are familiar with even the most basic outlines of what skeptics argue.  The climate debate is one of the worst examples I can think of where partisans gain their only knowledge of what the other side is saying from slanted and ill-informed descriptions of the opponents by their own side.  This is roughly like my informing myself of Hillary Clinton's political positions solely from listening to Rush Limbaugh.

YouTube has adopted a policy of putting information / warning labels on videos by climate skeptics.  Here is a screen shot, the YouTube addition is in the beige box:

This is the only example I know of YouTube doing this -- for example, you can't find information labels on, say, 9/11 Truther videos reading "steel doesn't have to melt to fail" or on Bernie Sanders socialist videos saying "adopting Marxism led to the deaths of tens of millions of people in the 20th century."  So I guess we climate skeptics are considered by Google to be the worst of the worst on the truth scale.

But the truly hilarious part is that I don't disagree with this statement one bit**.  Neither does any other prominent skeptic I know of.  In fact, I have queued up the video to the 19:30 mark and you can watch me say exactly this.


Clearly, Google does not actually know what climate skeptics say.  In fact, much of the video (which despite being 2 years old is still my current position on the topic and a good introduction to the climate debate) is about this very topic -- how what skeptics actually say and what warmists say what we way are so different, and how that SNAFU's the climate debate.  One of my most popular articles in Forbes was on the same topic.

Postscript:  I am not a conspiracy theorist, and try not to assign arcane outcomes in chaotic systems to subterfuge.  But I do find it odd that when I Google myself, in the fourth position is random critique of one of my climate articles.  There have been much more intelligent critiques of me historically than this one, and this particular critique garnered far fewer reads and inbound links than the original article, which shows up nowhere in the search.  I am not persuaded that Google is putting its thumb on the scale in favor of critiques of skeptics, but I could be.

**Though I might quibble with equating climate change and global warming.  They are obviously related but certainly not equivalents.

17 Sep 14:13

Verizon is bringing fixed 5G to businesses (VZ)

by Peter Sarnoff

This story was delivered to Business Insider Intelligence Apps and Platforms Briefing subscribers hours before appearing on Business Insider. To be the first to know, please click here.

Verizon and wireless network equipment provider Cradlepoint launched a new trial program, dubbed Pathway to 5G for Business, that's based on Verizon’s 5G fixed wireless service with Cradlepoint’s wireless router.

5G MWC

The program, which provides the first fixed 5G service for businesses in the US, enables participating enterprises to enjoy internet speeds around 300 Mbps, with peek speeds of up to 1Gbps, for a limited time. The move marks Verizon’s latest step to expand its presence in the 5G space, as the company unveiled its fixed 5G service targeted at the home last week.

Verizon’s fixed 5G wireless service is expected to be highly sought after by companies due to the technology’s improvements to business processes:

  • 5G’s network speeds will enable more seamless enterprise communications and collaboration. 5G’s low latency will largely dispel network lags, which cause spotty video and audio conference calls that occur on slower broadband networks, for example.
  • The next generation of wireless networking will enable more capable, intelligent office spaces. 5G’s increased bandwidth will allow more internet-connected devices in the office to engage in data-rich activities without suffering from performance issues related to bandwidth congestion. A news company, for instance, with hundreds of TVs, cameras, and computers would be able to quickly upload a 4K video to its website without concern over the other internet-connected devices soaking up the network’s bandwidth.

Verizon is poised to benefit from being the first to launch fixed 5G for the enterprise. Although Verizon’s new partnership only offers a trial program for businesses, the move will allow Verizon to be enterprises' first touchpoint with 5G. And if enterprises that opt into the trial program decide 5G is promising, it could secure more business for Verizon.

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17 Sep 14:13

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and his wife are buying Time Magazine for $190 million

by Rosie Perper

salesforce tower san francisco marc benioff 5332

  • Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne Benioff will buy Time Magazine for $190 million. 
  • The announcement comes just eight months after Meredith Corp., publisher of several popular print publications, completed its purchase of Time.
  • In a note relayed by Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal, Benioff said he and his wife would have "no operational responsibility" for the weekly outlet, and acquired it as an investment.


Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne Benioff will buy Time Magazine for $190 million. 

The sale comes just eight months after Meredith Corp., which publishes such titles as People, Better Homes and Gardens, and Entertainment Weekly, completed its purchase of the iconic magazine.

Meredith also listed several other titles, including, Fortune, Money, and Sports Illustrated, though negotiations for those publications continue to drag on, according to the Wall Street Journal

The sale is expected to close with 30 days, according to the Journal, and the Benioffs are buying the outlet as individuals. 

Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal told staff in a letter on Sunday night the Benioffs would be acquiring the iconic magazine "as a family investment." 

"It will have no connection to Salesforce, the software company Marc founded in 1999," Felsenthal added. "While they will not be operators of the business, we are extremely fortunate to have Marc and Lynne’s guidance and mentorship as we set out to build a new company.

"TIME is a treasure trove of the world’s history and culture," Benioff wrote in a note included in Felsenthal's letter. "Lynne and I will take on no operational responsibility for TIME, and look only to be stewards of this historic and iconic brand with all of us.”

The transaction shows the growing integration between the tech and media industries.

In 2013, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post for $250 million, though at the time Bezos had no prior experience in the newspaper business. Since then Bezos has invested in several other digital media outlets.

Similarly, Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs, acquired a majority stake in The Atlantic, a magazine and multi-platform publisher.

Benioff, the co-founder, CEO, and chairman of Salesforce, was ranked number 246 in Bloomberg's Billionaire Index. The 53-year-old's San Francisco-based cloud software provider reported revenue of $10.5 billion last year, according to Bloomberg.

SEE ALSO: How Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos reinvented The Washington Post, the 140-year-old newspaper he bought for $250 million

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The world's most dangerous venomous animals are all in Australia

14 Sep 20:25

This Simulator Was Built to Stop Cops From Shooting Dogs

by ReasonTV

Reason TV takes an inside look at a simulator designed to train law enforcement not to kill family pets.

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Reason is the planet's leading source of news, politics, and culture from a libertarian perspective. Go to reason.com for a point of view you won't get from legacy media and old left-right opinion magazines.
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Sheriff's deputies Terry Lindsey and Diana Ciaramellano are walking into a backyard in a residential neighborhood, responding to a tripped burglar alarm, when a mid-sized dog runs out to see who has traipsed onto its masters' property. The dog barks and growls at the deputies from about 15 feet away, every bit of its body language conveying a clear message: LEAVE.

Deputy Lindsey yells at the dog to go away while unclipping the pepper spray from his belt with his left hand. To his right, Ciaramellano unholsters her gun, in case Lindsey's pepper spray doesn't work. She could reach for her taser, but a dog is a small, fast-moving target from straight ahead, and the prongs the weapon fires are finicky.

The dog ignores the commands and stands its ground. What happens next in this kind of situation could be either another routine day for the Harford County Sheriff's Department or end up as a major lawsuit, complete with local, maybe even national, headlines: "Maryland Cops Kill Family Dog in Backyard."

The dog charges forward, and Lindsey fires the pepper spray. It works. The animal yelps and retreats. The encounter probably takes fewer than 10 seconds.

The large projector screens surrounding the deputies go blank. They are standing in a big, dark room on the second floor of the Harford County Sheriff's Department in front of a VirTra use-of-force simulator—a high-tech video tool that trains deputies how to respond to real-life situations in real time. The guns, tasers, and spray canisters are all modified with lasers that the projector screens detect and react to.

The simulator can hold hundreds of different live-action video scenarios, from active shooters to domestic violence calls to traffic stops—each one with several branching options that an operator at a computer can choose from, depending on how the officer responds—but these Harford County deputies are among the first in the country to use it to learn how to deal with dogs.

The initiative is the brainchild of the National Sheriffs' Association (NSA), a nonprofit group that represents sheriffs across the country, and it's part of an increasing recognition by law enforcement that it has a problem with dogs. Reason travelled to the Harford County Sheriff's Department for a demonstration of how officers are being trained to fix it.

Over the past decade, countless stories of police shootings of dogs have sparked public outrage and led to huge lawsuits against departments. But NSA deputy executive director John Thompson says police officers typically receive little to no training on how to deal with dogs, beyond using lethal force, despite the near-guarantee that they will encounter one at some point in the course of their duties.

"I'm a perfect example," Thompson, now retired from law enforcement, says. "I would have just shot a dog if he came at me biting and barking and snapping. It's just what we did. It was taught to us. You neutralize the problem. It was an acceptable practice in the older days and still seems to be across the country in many agencies."

The NSA says additional pilot programs are being planned in Orange County, Florida, and Oakland County, Michigan. The group is also working with the Justice Department's Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program to develop a comprehensive course for police to learn how to handle and deescalate canine encounters.

"We identified that this was a problem and created this training so we could keep officers safe, pets safe, agencies from paying out multi-million dollar lawsuits, and honestly, so we can keep the relationship between police and community a whole lot better, because it's just rampant," Thompson continues. "Every day you hear of an officer shooting a dog. It's not because they're crazy, warmongering people who want to shoot a dog, it's just they've never been trained or told different."

For full text and links, read "How to Keep Cops From Shooting Dogs" at Reason.com here: https://reason.com/blog/2018/09/14/how-to-keep-cops-from-shooting-dogs

Video edited and produced by Meredith Bragg. Camera by Meredith and Austin Bragg. Text by C.J. Ciaramella.

Music: "Cylinder Two" by Chris Zabriskie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
Source: http://chriszabriskie.com/cylinders/
Artist: http://chriszabriskie.com/
14 Sep 19:39

Brave Launches Legal Offensive on Google Ads Data Collection Practices

by Anna Baydakova
The startup behind Brave Browser has filed regulatory complaints against Google over the "massive" amount of user data exposed in online advertising.
14 Sep 14:23

U.S. Major Landfalling Hurricanes Down 50% Since the 1930s

by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

While the wind, storm surge, and freshwater flooding from Category 1 Hurricane Florence will no doubt cause massive damage, we should remember that – historically speaking – major landfalling hurricanes were more frequent in past decades.

Contrary to popular perception, the number of major hurricanes making landfall in the U.S. has dropped by an average of more than 50% since the 1930s:

While you might object that the current decade isn’t over with yet, if we assume the long-term average of 6 storms per decade continues for the remaining 2.5 hurricane seasons, the downward trend since the 1930s will still be a 50% reduction.

Why did I pick the 1930s as the starting point?

Because yesterday I presented U.S. Government data on the 36 most costly hurricanes in U.S. history, which have all occurred since the 1930s. Since the 1930s, hurricane damages have increased dramatically. But, as Roger Pielke, Jr. has documented, that’s due to a huge increase in vulnerable infrastructure in a more populous and more prosperous nation.

It’s not due to stronger hurricanes hitting the U.S. or to global warming.

14 Sep 13:56

How’s the US economy been doing? Incomes up, inequality stable - Publications – AEI

by James Pethokoukis

AEI
How’s the US economy been doing? Incomes up, inequality stable

So let’s look at the numbers: US median household income rose for the third straight year in 2017, according to new Census Bureau figures. And that’s where the good news seems to stop, at least according to the top line numbers. The 1.8 percent growth rate in 2017 lagged behind the previous two years, when median household income rose 3.2 percent in 2016 and 5.2 percent in 2015. And while a scan of the numbers shows household income level to be the highest on record, that’s only due to changes in how the Census Bureau calculates the numbers. Essentially incomes are about the same as where they were at previous peaks in 1999 and 2007.

So that sort of seems like stagnation. But less so if you look at the income numbers calculated by the Congressional Budget Office. As economist Jason Furman notes in a tweet today, CBO data show median income surpassed its 2007 peak back in 2014. He also wrote that Census has some data issues, including “no household size adjustment, a biased inflation measure, no benefits, inconsistent treatment of govt programs, etc.” All stuff CBO handles better, according to Furman, although its numbers come out less frequently.

(And by the way, CBO numbers also show incomes up 42 percent from 1979 through 2014 for the broad middle class — measured as the 21st to 80th percentiles. And median household income is up 16 percent since 1999 through 2014. Is that stagnation? I report, you decide. The data  show increasing incomes even though growth during that 15-year period was slower than the previous 15-year span. But to my mind, at least, the numbers undermine the “no better off than decades ago” argument of the populist left and right.)

One more thing from the Census report: No change in income inequality. Good news for those who find that gap worrying. Indeed, there is reason to think inequality has been stable for a decade.

How’s the US economy been doing? Incomes up, inequality stable
James Pethokoukis

14 Sep 13:18

BitGo Gets Approval From State Regulators to Launch Custody Service

by Jimmy Aki
Regulators Greenlight Bitcoin Futures

BitGo has received the green light from the South Dakota Division of Banking to act as a qualified custodian for digital assets, according to a Business Wire press release.

The approval means the BitGo Trust Company can now offer secure storage for digital assets “designed for institutional customers,” Chief Compliance Officer Shahla Ali told Bitcoin Magazine. “Built on BitGo’s multisignature security, BitGo Custody delivers modern security for modern assets,” Ali continued.

Ali went on to explain that “BitGo has been working on its application for its charter to be a qualified custodian for the past year.” Per South Dakota regulations, the company won't begin storing assets under the Trust until a 30-day period has elapsed.

Along with the volatility of cryptocurrencies — which stablecoins are seeking to remedy —  the obstacle of having a safe storage option for cryptocurrencies has obstructed institutional investors from entering the market. Seeing as these investors are used to having their funds safely stored or being FDIC insured, BitGo CEO Mike Belshe believes the lack of readily available custodial services have kept "institutional investors out of the market."

BitGo is not the first cryptocurrency company to offer custody services. Digital assets platforms Coinbase and Gemini have both launched their own custody solutions in a bid to attract institutional investors to the market, as well, and financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs and Northern Trust are reportedly planning to launch similar services.

In the press release, Belshe points out that, unlike custody services offered by exchanges, BitGo is solely focused on cryptocurrency custody. Built on the technology behind BitGo’s wallet services, the custody will offer cold wallet support with storage in “bank-grade Class III vaults,” support for over 75 cryptocurrencies, multi-user accounts and around-the-clock support.

The custody service is the latest attempt by the company to build out its services. Recently, BitGo implemented a predictive Unspent Transaction Output (UTXO) management system. The UTXO system manages micro-units of cryptocurrencies “by minimizing transaction sizes at high fee rates, while automatically sweeping up and processing many small fragments of coins when fees are low.”



This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

13 Sep 16:24

Census data released today show continued gains for middle-class Americans and little evidence of rising income inequality - Publications – AEI

by Mark Perry

AEI
Census data released today show continued gains for middle-class Americans and little evidence of rising income inequality

The Census Bureau released its annual report today on “Income and Poverty in the United States: 2017” with lots of new, updated data on household and family incomes, and household demographics through 2017. Below are four charts with commentary based on the new Census data on household income through 2017. Shortly I’ll post my annual analysis “Explaining US income inequality by household demographics,” here’s my post from a year ago for 2016 data.

1. Median and Average Household Income, and Average Household Size. The chart above shows: a) average annual household income in 2017 dollars (dark blue line), b) median household income in 2017 dollars (light blue line), and c) average household size (brown line), all from 1975 to 2017.

Median household income last year of $61,372 was an increase of 1.8% from 2016 and brought median income for US households to the highest level ever, above the previous record level last year of $60,309. The income gain last year was the fifth consecutive annual increase in real median household income starting in 2013, following five consecutive declines from 2008 to 2012 due to the effects of the Great Recession. The last period of four consecutive gains in annual median household income was during the late 1990s at the end of the longest economic expansion in US history (120 months from March 1991 to March 2001). Although it doesn’t get as much attention as median income because it’s influenced by outliers on the high-end, average household income also increased to a new record level last year of $86,220, which was an increase of 1.5% from 2016 and the seventh consecutive annual increase starting in 2011.

Also notable is the fact that average size of US households has been falling steadily for the last 70 years (or more) and was 2.54 persons in 2017, up slightly from 2.53 persons in 2016, a record low. The 2.54 average members per household last year was down by 0.50 persons from the 2.94 average in 1975 and down by more than one full person since the 3.56 average persons per household in 1947 (not shown above).

Income adjusted for household size is calculated and presented below, but it should be obvious that a comparison of median household incomes over time is distorted because the average size of US households has been declining. It’s almost important to note that the typical US household in 2017 had an annual income of $12,464 more (in 2017 dollars) than the typical household in 1975 – that’s more than $1,000 in additional income every month for the typical household today compared to 42 years ago. And when you consider that the cost of most manufactured goods and many services including clothing, footwear, appliances, electronics, TVs, household furnishings, sporting goods, airline travel, telephone service, computers and automobiles have become cheaper and more affordable over time (relative to increases in overall consumer prices and incomes), along with the increased availability of services that are now almost free (GPS, music, cameras, Craigslist listings, Wikipedia information, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.), that $12,000 annual increase in real household income since 1975 translates into a much higher standard of living for the average American today compared to a generation ago.

======================================

2. Average and Median Income per Household Member. The chart above displays average and median household income adjusted for household size. Both the average and median income per person in the US reached all-time highs in 2017 of nearly $34,000 (in 2017 dollars) for average income per person, and $24,160 for median income per household member last year. Compared to 1975, the average household income per US household member has increased by 74% from $19,500 to $34,000, while the median household income per person has increased by 45% from $16,600 to $24,160. Without adjusting for household size, average household income increased by only 50% since 1975 (vs. 74% adjusted for average household size) and median income increased only 25% (vs. 45%), demonstrating the importance of adjusting for changes in household size when comparing median household incomes over time.

========================================

3. Married 2-Earner Households. The chart above shows annual median income from 1949 to 2017 for families headed by married couples with both spouses working. Income for a typical family in this group reached an all-time high last year of $111,000, and the median family income for this group of Americans has been above $100,000 (in 2017 dollars) for the last five years. Since 1949, the real inflation-adjusted median income for married couples with two earners has more than tripled (from $34,800) and since 1963 has more than doubled (from $54,700).

==========================================

 


4. What Rising Income Inequality? We hear all the time about “rising income inequality” in America (there are more than 100,000 Google search results for that term), about “the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer,” the “stagnant or disappearing middle class,” all of the recent income gains going to the rich,” the lack of income mobility and other narratives of pessimism. In a December 2013 speech, President Obama described rising income inequality as the “defining challenge of our time” and promised that for the rest of his presidency, he and his administration would focus all of their efforts to stop the increase in income inequality. And yet, the data in today’s Census Bureau tell a much different story.

a. The top chart above shows the shares of total income earned by the top 20% and top 5% of US households from 1993 to 2017. In 1993, 48.9% of total income went to the top quintile of US households, and 24 years later in 2017, the share of income going to the top 20% of households has increased to only 51.5%. Likewise, in 1993 the share of total income going to the top 5% of US households was 21.0%, and that share had increased to only 22.3% last year. Interestingly, the 22.3% share of income earned by the top 5% of households last year was lower than the share that group earned in 2016 (22.6%) and 2001 (22.4%), and the same as in 2006, 2011 and 2012. Over the last two decades, the income shares of the top 20% and top 5% have been remarkably stable at about 49-51.5%  and 21-22.6% respectively, and there has been no statistical evidence of significant “rising income inequality” according to these measures.

b. The bottom chart above shows the annual Gini index of income inequality (a statistical measure of income dispersion that quantifies income inequality on a range from 0.0 for complete equality to 1.0 for complete inequality) for US households from 1993 to 2017. Like the first two measures above, the Gini index measure of income dispersion reveals that there has been no significant trend of “rising income inequality” for US household incomes over the last quarter century. The Gini index in 1993 was 0.454 and last year it was 0.482, the same as in 2013, and this statistical measure of income inequality has also shown remarkable stability for the last several decades in a narrow range between 0.46 and 0.48.

Whether we look at Census Bureau data on the share of total income going to the top fifth and top 5% of American households, or Census data on Gini coefficients for US household income, there is very little statistical support for the commonly held view by the public, academia, and the mainstream media that income inequality has been rising in recent years or decades. A more accurate description of income inequality over the last several decades in the US would be to say that it has been remarkably stable for the last 25 years starting about 1993.

So why are we having a national debate about solutions to the “non-problem” of rising income inequality that doesn’t even exist according to several standard Census Bureau measures? Maybe it’s another example of what H.L. Mencken called an “imaginary hobgoblin”:

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

===========================================================

 

5. The Disappearing Middle Class? The chart above represents what might be one of the most important findings in the new Census data and confirms a trend I’ve highlighted many times before. Yes, the “middle-class is disappearing” as we hear all the time, but it’s because middle-income households in the US are gradually moving up to higher income groups, and not down into lower-income groups. In 1967, only 9% of US households (only 1 in 11) earned $100,000 or more (in 2017 dollars). Last year, more than 1 in 4 US households (29.2%) were in that high-income category, a new record high. In other words, over the last half-century, the share of US households earning incomes of $100,000 or more (in 2017 dollars) has more than tripled! At the same time, the share of middle-income households earning $35,000 to $100,000 (in 2017 dollars) has decreased over time, from more than half of US households in 1967 (53.8%) to less than half (only 41.3%) in 2017. Likewise, the share of low-income households earning $35,000 or less (in 2017 dollars) has decreased from more than one-third of households in 1967 (37.2%) to below one-third of US households last year (29.5%), a near-record low.

Bottom Line: Here are some of the key takeaways from the new Census report on US incomes through 2017:

  • The 1.8% gain in real median US household income last year brought median income to more than $61,000, the highest level ever recorded.
  • The income gain in 2017 was the fifth annual increase and the first period of five consecutive increases in median household income since the late 1990s.
  • Compared to 1975, the typical US household today has $12,464 more annual income (in 2017 dollars) or more than $1,000 more per month in real, inflation-adjusted dollars to spend on goods and services, many of which have become much more affordable today than in the 1970s (or weren’t even available then).
  • Adjusted for household size, which has been falling over time, real median household income per household member last year of $24,160 (in 2017 dollars) was the highest in history.
  • Real median income for married couples with both spouses working reached a new all-time record high last year of $111,000 and has more than doubled from $54,700 in 1963.
  • By three different measures — income shares of the top 5% and 20% and the Gini coefficient — there is no evidence of a significant rise in income inequality over the last 25 years; all three measures have been remarkably flat for more than two decades.
  • The share of US households with incomes of $100,000 or more (in 2017 dollars) reached a new record high of 29.2% last year, which is more than triple the share of households in 1967 with that level of income. At the same time, the share of US low-income households (real incomes of $35,000 or below) fell to a near-record low of 29.5%.
  • America’s middle-class is disappearing but into higher, not lower, income categories over time.

Census data released today show continued gains for middle-class Americans and little evidence of rising income inequality
Mark Perry

13 Sep 15:33

British Lawmaker Wants to Ban Your Private Facebook Groups Because She Worries You're Using Hate Speech

by Scott Shackford

Lucy PowellU.K. Parliament member Lucy Powell of the Labour Party wants to use her government authority to ban your private online group discussions.

I'm not exaggerating here. Powell introduced legislation in the House of Commons this week that would ban secret, private, invite-only groups on Facebook. It would go so far as to hold moderators legally responsible for hate speech or defamation on the forums.

Powell believes that secret online groups are responsible for radicalization (rather than the more logical likelihood that radicalization prompts people to seek out private online outlets). And she has this strange idea that outrageous ideas presented on social media outlets simply don't get challenged. She writes in The Guardian:

Online echo chambers are normalising and allowing extremist views to go viral unchallenged. These views are spread as the cheap thrill of racking up Facebook likes drives behaviour and reinforces a binary worldview. Some people are being groomed unwittingly as unacceptable language is treated as the norm. Others have a more sinister motive.

While in the real world, alternative views would be challenged by voices of decency in the classroom, staffroom, or around the dining-room table, there are no societal norms in the dark crevices of the online world. The impact of these bubbles of hate can be seen, in extreme cases, in terror attacks from radicalised individuals. But we can also see it in the rise of the far right, with Tommy Robinson supporters rampaging through the streets this summer, or in increasing Islamophobia and antisemitism.

In fact, extremist views get challenged all the time, online and elsewhere, by people like Powell and by many, many others. But she doesn't really mean that these views aren't being "challenged." What she means is that these radical views aren't being punished.

Powell notes that allowing private groups to exist "locks out the police, intelligence services and charities that could otherwise engage with the groups and correct disinformation." By "correct disinformation" she actually means "prosecute people." She doesn't say as much in her Guardian column, but her motion for consideration of the bill explicitly says that too few people have been prosecuted under the United Kingdom's Communications Act, which criminalizes online hate speech. She makes it clear that she doesn't think enough people are being punished by the government for saying bad things. This is not about correcting disinformation at all:

[O]nline hate crimes are still rarely prosecuted and go largely unreported. Our laws desperately need to catch up. Today I am proposing a small step to establish clear accountability in law for what is published on online forums and to force those who run the forums no longer to permit hate, disinformation and criminal activity.

The Evening Standard notes that the members of Parliament who support Powell's bill have themselves been subjects of online harassment. So most certainly part of this push involves elected government officials trying to stop people from saying stuff about them that they don't like under the guise of protecting citizens from harassment.

Powell talks about extremists trying to radicalize people into violence, but a look at how hate speech laws in U.K. are actually investigated paints a different picture. Over the weekend, viral outrage (of the like Powell worries about) erupted when the South Yorkshire Police tweeted out encouragement for citizens to report incidents of hate to them, even if they weren't even crimes under U.K. law:

After people complained that the tweet was reminiscent of Orwellian speech controls, the police department's chief constable responded that they had been misconstrued and that people were exaggerating the department's intent. He says he wants to keep track of what's going on in the community to engage in "proactive police work to try and stop crimes from happening in the first place."

But thanks to the United Kingdom's hate speech laws, that's actually what makes the department's behavior "Orwellian." The "crimes" he is trying to stop involve people expressing opinions that the government has officially declared hateful and off-limits. One reason his police department wants to investigate is to tell people they aren't allowed to say certain things.

And now M.P.s like Powell are deliberately looking for more opportunities to track down and punish people for saying things the government finds hateful, going so far as to try to ban private groups on social media entirely because the police cannot snoop on them. The privacy of your secret little online group where you complain about your neighbors (and perhaps even your local police!) is jeopardized because Powell thinks you're going to turn people violent.

12 Sep 15:57

Verizon 5G home Internet: $70/month, 300Mbps to 1Gbps speeds, no data caps

by Jon Brodkin
A Verizon logo at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Enlarge / A Verizon logo at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

Verizon Wireless will start offering a 5G-based wireless home Internet service next month in parts of four US cities, with service coming to other cities at an as-yet-unspecified date.

"Typical" download speeds will be around 300Mbps. The max speed of nearly 1Gbps will be available "depending on location," and there will be "no data caps," Verizon said. The speeds are fast enough to rival Verizon's fiber-to-the-home service, and the carrier has previously claimed that its 5G network will have "single-millisecond latencies."

Verizon 5G Home will be available in parts of Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento beginning on October 1, and customers can sign up starting on Thursday morning, Verizon announced yesterday.

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12 Sep 15:14

Attempted murder of GOP candidate for Congress narrowly foiled

Three days later, not a peep from the national media.
12 Sep 12:04

New Strzok, Page Texts Highlight ‘Culture of Media Leaking’ at the FBI and DOJ

by Mary Chastain
Remlaps

Too bad that our news industry has morphed into an entertainment industry. In a rational world, an attempted coup by high level law enforcement officials would be front page news.