Shared posts

07 Jul 17:40

Transparency 10 Years after the Pay Raise

by Commonwealth Foundation

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the midnight pay raise. Although it was ultimately repealed, the pay raise was a dark hour in Pennsylvania political history. Over the past decade, though, state government has steadily moved toward increased openness, transparency, and accountability.

Here are a few reforms lawmakers have enacted to shed more light on state government:

  • the open records law and creation of the Office of Open Records
  • PennWatch, a searchable database of state expenditures
  • the lobbying disclosure law
  • the Independent Fiscal Office (IFO), which releases independent revenue projections and selected analysis of legislative proposals
  • legislative rules preventing middle of the night votes
  • the posting of roll call votes and fiscal notes online

Thanks to these measures, the public is better informed. Take Gov. Tom Wolf's budget proposal, for instance. Gov. Wolf may claim that his budget provides "property tax relief," but the IFO estimates it would amount to a $4.5 billion tax hike on Pennsylvanians in EVERY income level. That's just one example of how enhanced transparency helps taxpayers uncover the truth.

In that same spirit, the latest legislative push for transparency would shine light on negotiations for state worker contracts. Currently, taxpayers are kept in the dark about a process that adds millions of dollars each year to the cost of government.

Transparency alone will not return Pennsylvania to prosperity, but it serves as a powerful tool combating half-truths that are used to justify greater burdens on Pennsylvania families.

07 Jul 13:57

It's Probably Nothing

by Kate

While you were flag debating...

A stock market crash there has seen $3.2 trillion wiped from the value of Chinese shares in just three weeks, triggering an emergency response from the government and warnings of "monstrous" public disorder.[...]

In an extraordinary move, the People's Bank of China has begun lending money to investors to buy shares in the flailing market. The Wall Street Journal reports this "liquidity assistance" will be provided to the regulator-owned China Securities Finance Corp, which will lend the money to brokerages, which will in turn lend to investors.

The dramatic intervention marks the first time funds from the central bank have been directed anywhere other than the banks, signalling serious concern from authorities about the crisis.

More: Over 20% of listed China stocks now in trading halt

07 Jul 20:28

Are selfies the future of mobile payments?

by Nancee Halpin

BII US Retail Fraud

As the e-commerce industry grows, so does the need for secure online payment systems. A common concern among online shoppers, especially in the wireless mobile commerce domain, is sharing personal payment information over the internet. Online merchants have limited ways of confirming a shopper’s identity making them more susceptible to fraud. As we reported previously, US retailers’ mobile commerce channels faced the highest fraud losses as a percentage of revenue in 2014. Multiple financial services are moving into wireless capabilities, including banking and payments, requiring the same progress of security and identity verification services. 

This story was originally sent to thousands of professionals in the E-Commerce industry in this morning's E-COMMERCE INSIDER newsletter. You can join them -- sign up for a RISK FREE trial now »

MasterCard wants to usher in the digital age of payments by allowing shoppers to pay for online purchases with a selfie, reports CNN. Rather than remembering a password (that can be hacked or forgotten), users can make online purchases with just the MasterCard mobile app and their face. Here’s how it will work:

  • Download the MasterCard phone app.
  • Go to the facial recognition option.
  • Stare at the phone.
  • Blink once.

In an effort to cut down on fraud, MasterCard uses the facial recognition software to create a code based on the user’s face that will stay on the device the app is installed on. The company decided to use blinking as the best way to make sure that someone could not just use a picture of the customer to make unsolicited purchases. Users will also have the option to use a fingerprint scan as verification instead. This new feature is currently in the testing phase and MasterCard looks to launch it to the public this coming fall.

Here are other stories you need to know from today's E-COMMERCE INSIDER:


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07 Jul 05:00

How politically immature are you?

A quiz to share with progressives you know...
07 Jul 14:54

Are Helicoptered Kids More Depressed at College?

by lskenazy


This excerpt from Julia Lythcott-Haims’ new book, “How to Raise An Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success,” is more than viral. It pleads with parents to step back and let kids make their own decisions  — and mistakes:

The data emerging confirms the harm done by asking so little of our kids when it comes to life skills, yet so much of them when it comes to academics.

The data do look alarming, A survey of college counseling center directors found 95% of them believe that the number of students with significant psychological problems is a “growing concern on campus.” Lythcott-Haims saw this first-hand when she was dean of freshman at Stanford. But, she writes:

The mental health crisis is not a Yale (or Stanford or Harvard) problem; these poor mental health outcomes are occurring in kids everywhere. The increase in mental health problems among college students may reflect the lengths to which we push kids toward academic achievement, but since they are happening to kids who end up at hundreds of schools in every tier, they appear to stem not from what it takes to get into the most elite schools but from some facet of American childhood itself.

Peter Gray has argued the same in his book, “Free To Learn“: When kids don’t get a chance to play on their own, they grow fearful and depressed because only in play do they get to be the adults — to learn how to make decisions, deal with consequences, solve problems and really be a person, instead of a precious possession or pet.

What I hope people don’t take away from this research, however, is that there is one “right” way to parent. There isn’t. There’s only a growing recognition that Free-Ranging is not dangerous or nutty:

Madeline Levine, psychologist and author of The Price of Privilege, says that there are three ways we might be overparenting and unwittingly causing psychological harm:

  1. When we do for our kids what they can already do for themselves;
  2. When we do for our kids what they can almost do for themselves; and
  3. When our parenting behavior is motivated by our own egos.

Levine said that when we parent this way we deprive our kids of the opportunity to be creative, to problem solve, to develop coping skills, to build resilience, to figure out what makes them happy, to figure out who they are. In short, it deprives them of the chance to be, well, human. Although we overinvolve ourselves to protect our kids and it may in fact lead to short-term gains, our behavior actually delivers the rather soul-crushing news: Kid, you can’t actually do any of this without me.

That has always been the message of Free-Range Kids: Our children are safer and more competent than we’re told they are, by a fear-crazed society.

But let’s not forget that it is society that is shoving this fear down our throats and pressuring parents to be ever-present. It’s not like a bunch of neurotic parents decided to ruin their kids’ lives. It’s a society that almost mandates helicoptering — in some cases, legally.

So let’s not rag on our fellow parents for doing yet another thing “wrong.” Let’s just use this as a way to help Free-Rangers explain that what we’re doing is not crazy or dangerous, and it has a wonderful upside. – L

Welcome, helicoptered kids!

Welcome, helicoptered and un-helicoptered kids!


07 Jul 20:21

Some More Thoughts on Greece -- When European Charity Runs Out, All That is Left is Inflation

by admin

People keep talking about reducing Greek debt to a sustainable level, but part of the problem is that there is not such level.  Even at zero.  The problem is that Greece is running a government deficit even before any debt service, so if creditors were to waive all of its debt, it would still need to be borrowing new money tomorrow.  Debt forgiveness is not enough -- what the Greeks need is for Europe to write off all its debt, and then (having lost all their money on the old debt) start lending new money immediately.  Note also that any bailout agreement reached this month will just put everyone back in the exact same place a few months from now.

This situation cannot be expected to change any time soon, for a variety of reasons from demographics (Greece has the oldest population in Europe, and a relatively rich pension system) to ideology (the current pseudo-Marxist government will never implement the reforms needed to turn the economy around, even if they promise to do so under duress).

With structural solutions unlikely, Greece has only the options of charity and inflation. Greece still seems to be hoping for charity, which they make harder by spewing derision at the same folks whom they are begging for alms.  Europe, certainly Germany, is in no mood to be charitable any longer, but may still do so depending on their calculation about which action -- bailout or exit -- has the worse long-term consequences for keeping Portugal, Spain, and Italy both in the Euro and continuing to pay their debts.

Lacking charity, the only thing left is inflation.  Some folks think I am advocating that option.  I am not.  The best possible hope for Greece is to slash its economic regulation, privatize business, and cut back on the public sector -- but that is not going to happen with the current government.  Or maybe any government.

I say inflation is the only option because that is what balances the budget and "solves" debt problems when politicians are unable or unwilling to make any hard choices.  It is sort of the default.  If they can't balance the budget or figure out how to pay off debt, then inflation does it for them by reducing the value of pensions and outstanding debts**.  This is what will happen with a Grexit -- a massive bout of devaluation and inflation what will greatly reduce the value of any IOU, whether it be a pension or a bank deposit.

Eventually, the one good thing that comes from inflation and devaluation is that the country becomes really cheap to outsiders.  Tourists will flock in and olive oil will sell well internationally as the new drachma loses its value, creating value for people holding stronger currencies and potentially forming the basis for some sort of economic revival.  My wife and I decided a few months back to postpone the Greek vacation we wanted this year -- too much turmoil is still possible -- and wait for it to be a bargain in 2016 or 2017.


**Postscript:  This is exactly why the Euro is both immensely seductive and a dangerous trap for countries like Greece.  Seductive, because it could pursue any sort of destructive banana republic fiscal policy it wished and still have a strong currency.  A trap because it can no longer print money and inflate away its debt problems.

07 Jul 17:22

“Deniers” in their midst – All is not well in Nobel Prize Land

by Anthony Watts
A couple of days ago we reported on the Mainau Nobel Conference, on Friday, 3 July, over 30 Nobel laureates assembled on Mainau Island on Lake Constance signed a declaration on climate change. Problem was, there were 65 attendees, and only 30 signed the declaration. As is typical of the supression of the alternate views…
07 Jul 03:15

TPP partners plot milder copyright takedown rules

by Richard Chirgwin

Still hostile to users, says EFF

A leaked copy of Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiating text from May seems to show the US trying to mollify the other countries finagling over the deal.…

06 Jul 21:02

Study: Home Depot Has Better Cybersecurity Than Defense Contractors

A new study questions how strong federal government contractors' cybersecurity is, claiming Home Depot's computers are more secure.
07 Jul 00:57

Understanding the Ninth Amendment

by James P. Allen

In 2004, University of Illinois College of Law Professor Kurt T. Lash wrote The Lost Original Meaning of the Ninth Amendment for the Texas Law Review (Vol. 83, December 2004). It is the first in a series of two articles explaining the Ninth Amendment in light of newly discovered and seldom discussed material. Because there was not unanimous consensus in the ratification debates, this article seeks to identify the core concepts of the original meaning of the Ninth Amendment, rather than an absolute definition.

In considering the history of the Bill of Rights, the current nomenclature is anachronistic. Originally, the Bill of Rights was simply referred to as the amendments. This makes sense when one reads the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, which do not protect certain rights like the other amendments, but rather protect federalism by limiting the possible interpretations of the Constitution. The Ninth reads:

The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Thus, the enumerated rights in the first eight amendments, along with the rights found elsewhere in the Constitution, such as the right against government impairment of contracts, cannot be read to diminish our other natural rights not specifically mentioned in the Constitution.

There are two prevailing theories on the practical application of the Ninth Amendment. The “libertarian” theory uses the Ninth Amendment as a basis for an engaged judicial enforcement of unenumerated rights against the federal government. The “federalist” theory reads the Ninth Amendment, in conjunction with the Tenth, with each amendment serving to buttress the other by striking a balance between federal and state power.

Both theories, Lash claims, have historical merit.

The original Constitution, as ratified, included no list of guaranteed freedoms as state constitutions did. Madison and other federalists argued that the doctrines of enumerated powers already protected these rights. In other words, the federalist argument ran, “Why should we create exceptions to powers not granted in the first place?” Furthermore a list of rights could never be exclusive, so a bill of rights might both eliminate rights not mentioned and inadvertently expand federal power.

Congress and state ratifying conventions created many drafts of what would ultimately become the Ninth Amendment, all of which sought to limit the “interrelation” or “construction” of the Constitution.

For instance, New York’s proposal directly stated that federal powers are few and enumerated, and that state powers are unenumerated. The proposal also guaranteed that any limit placed on Congress does not “imply that Congress is entitled to any Powers not given by the said Constitution; but such Clauses are to be construed either as exceptions to certain specified Powers, or as inserted merely for greater Caution.”

Thus the antifederalist fears of a broad interpretation of the Necessary and Proper Clause were assuaged as were the federalist fears of the limiting of rights. The proposals from other states also shared this duality. Rhode Island’s and South Carolina’s proposals were almost identical to New York’s. Other states, like North Carolina, differed in that they did not merely declare the principle of enumerated powers but also allowed for certain specific interpretations of constitutional provisions.

Madison himself thought such declarations were unnecessary, but he followed North Carolina’s method anyway.

What remains unclear, however, is whether the rights protected by what came to be the Ninth Amendment are natural individual rights or a collective right to local self-government. North Carolina’s and Virginia’s proposal preferred the natural rights interpretation and New York’s preferred the collective right. Although Madison and other drafters of the Ninth Amendment believed in natural rights, it is unclear whether they thought the Ninth Amendment guaranteed these rights.

In the House, the debate between these two theories continued. One position, later echoed by Robert Bork, feared that “retaining” unenumerated rights begs the unanswerable question of what rights are retained. Because of this difficult question, proponents of this side, represented chiefly by Edmund Randolph, wanted to focus on the limiting of federal power and not protecting rights.

Madison’s side countered that the line between powers limited and rights retained was “fanciful.” The Senate continued this debate in largely the same terms. However because both the Senate majority and minority reports were unclear as to the meaning of the proposed Ninth Amendment, neither theory can claim victory. Whatever ambiguities remained, the objections were eventually overcome and the amendment ratified.

Many have read Madison’s comments in the House debate to mean that he supported the “federalist” as opposed to the “libertarian” theory. Lash points out that this is a slightly inaccurate reading. The House debate centered on whether courts would be more adept at enforcing rights or limiting powers, not whether rights were collective or individual. The fact that Madison removed the language of powers from the proposed amendment and replaced it with language of rights, an idea which no state had proposed, instead suggests he sympathized with the “libertarian” theory.

Madison’s views were made clearer when the first national bank bill was being debated. He claimed, that a bank would “directly interfere with the rights of the States, to prohibit as well as to establish banks.” Thus his argument was, according to Lash, one of a collective right to local self-governance.

Indeed Madison did not even mention individual rights in his speech to Congress on the bank question. Another constitutional scholar, Randy Barnett, believes Madison actually took the “libertarian” approach in arguing against the bank. Barnett’s argument rests on Madison’s statement that a bank would affect “the equal rights of every citizen.”

In conclusion, Lash maintains that the original purpose of the Ninth Amendment was to limit federal power and preserve local control of “political conventional rights.” At that time, individual rights and states’ rights were seen as opposite sides of the same coin of personal freedom.

06 Jul 18:26

Awoogah: Get ready to patch 'severe' bug in OpenSSL this Thursday

by Chris Williams

Heads up for July 9 security vulnerability fix

Sysadmins and anyone else with systems running OpenSSL code: a new version of the open-source crypto library will be released this week to "fix a single security defect classified as 'high' severity."…

06 Jul 09:39

A battle plan against “regressive regulation”

by Walter Olson

In a new Cato white paper, Brink Lindsey considers the possibilities of assembling a political coalition aimed at trimming at least some kinds of excessive regulation [Arnold Kling, Coyote]:

Despite today’s polarized political atmosphere, it is possible to construct an ambitious and highly promising agenda of pro-growth policy reform that can command support across the ideological spectrum. Such an agenda would focus on policies whose primary effect is to inflate the incomes and wealth of the rich, the powerful, and the well-established by shielding them from market competition. A convenient label for these policies is “regressive regulation” — regulatory barriers to entry and competition that work to redistribute income and wealth up the socioeconomic scale. This paper identifies four major examples of regressive regulation: excessive monopoly privileges granted under copyright and patent law; restrictions on high-skilled immigration; protection of incumbent service providers under occupational licensing; and artificial scarcity created by land-use regulation.

Tags: competition through regulation, copyright, immigration law, land use and zoning, occupational licensure, patent law, regulation and its reform

A battle plan against “regressive regulation” is a post from Overlawyered - Chronicling the high cost of our legal system

06 Jul 12:40

Main Line school teacher launches Jersey Shore business

by Alison Burdo
For Shoregoers in Ocean City, New Jersey, there is now an easier way to cart your beach chairs, umbrella and buckets to the sand. Todd Serpico, a Radnor elementary school teacher, and his neighbor launched Beach Caddy earlier this year to help families carry all their beach necessities by connecting them with a teenager through a smartphone app, according to a report from the Main Line Media News. Todd Serpico, the RES teacher, and his neighbor were talking about business ideas this past winter…
06 Jul 21:21

Meet the two 'Uber for trash' startups that are trying to make waste less wasteful

by Nathan McAlone

dump truck garbage wasteThe word "Uber" has quickly become the stand-in for the on-demand economy in general, leading to many startups describing themselves as the "Uber for X."

Many of the companies in this space are fundamentally similar — they connect two entities together, usually buyers and sellers, in the most efficient way possible. 

So it should come as no surprise that there are currently two startups being called “the Uber for trash,” and both are focusing on making waste less wasteful.

The first startup, Spoiler Alert, comes at trash from a humanitarian perspective. Spoiler Alert’s goal is simple: to make it easier for companies to donate (or even sell) leftover food, Techcrunch reports. The startup primarily connects those with food surpluses, like retailers, to nonprofits that are looking for food donations. And Spoiler Alert transactions are logged to make it easy for the donors to claim tax deductions.

During the three-month beta period almost 10,000 pounds of food were donated through the iOS app.

“Spoiler Alert is as easy as throwing food away,” co-founder Emily Malina told Techcrunch. “What we offer is an opportunity to save money through a variety of ways. If companies are able to reduce the amount of food they throw away, they can have fewer hauling pickups, which reduces hauling fees. We offer a secondary market for discounted food sales, which enables new revenue streams, and streamline and simplify the documentation for tax benefits, which are quite sizable.

Spoiler Alert is free for donations, but plans to make money on commissions for discounted food sales, as well as accounting and tax services. The app is only available in New England, but the team hopes to expand to New York, and then across the U.S.

garbage trash waste landfill dump

While Spoiler Alert is focused on food, Atlanta-based startup Rubicon is taking aim at the trash hauling industry in general. The company started seven years ago with the goal of changing the way businesses handled their garbage, but now the team is launching an app focused on residential waste, Wired reports.

The app would allow you to book a garbage pickup like you’d book an Uber — although with a slightly longer time frame (think hours versus minutes).

While this might not be necessary for many people, the mere fact that Rubicon is moving into a space historically dominated by monopolistic behemoths has the potential to drive change. Rubicon, like Uber, doesn’t have any trucks (or dumps) of its own. The service simply connects people who want to get rid of trash with people who want to haul it, and Rubicon gets paid based on how much it saves both.

Rubicon is still in beta, but CEO Nate Morris told Wired he expects to launch in the coming months. Morris said his goal was to have trash pickups occur in 30 minutes or less.

Both Spoiler Alert and Rubicon are built on the premise that you can make money by providing the market with greater efficiency than traditional businesses. And Morris is confident. “We know from the past that when technology competes against brick-and-mortar assets, technology wins every time.” he told Wired.

SEE ALSO: We asked an Uber driver about his worst experience with a passenger

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: This small landfill in New York turns trash into electricity for 400 homes

06 Jul 02:09

June 2015 temperatures edge up; remain below Gore line

by admin

An up-tick in temperature anomalies in June saw Mr Gore and the warming scenario score the first win against the no-change forecast since January of 2013, nearly two-and-a-half years ago. The outlook for the dangerous warming scenario remains bleak, however. Over the 7.5 years of the Armstrong-Gore Bet so far—we have now past the ¾ mark—the errors that have arisen from projecting temperature to increase at a rate of 3°C per century are more than 50% larger than the errors from the no-change forecast.

Is it really possible that the simple no-change forecast of 21st Century temperatures is better than the IPCC projections from expensive and complex computer models? Yes, it is. That conclusion is consistent with the evidence presented by Kesten Green and Scott Armstrong in their recently published review of evidence on the effect of complexity on forecasting. They found that using complex methods increases forecast errors relative to the forecasts from simple methods that decision makers could understand by 27% on average. We expect that the results of The Climate Bet will increase that average.

For the latest data from UAH and the progress of the bet, see the new chart to the right.

02 Jul 05:00

Greek Taxpayers Facing a Future of Debt Slavery

Greece has defaulted on its debt to the International Monetary Fund, the first “developed” country to do so. But is Greece merely a casualty of a flawed eurozone or a canary in the coal mine?After hobbling along on “emergency” loans for five years, a $1.73 billion payment due Tuesday night went unpaid  —  the largest missed payment in the international finance organization’s seventy-one-year history. The IMF tellingly refused to call the missed payment what it was: a default, opting instead for “in arrears” (which, for the uninitiated, is a complex, highly-technical financial term that means default). Greece now shares company in this respect with the likes of Sudan, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Haiti, Yugoslavia, and Somalia.For Greece, the pain has been a long time coming, since it began relying on emergency loans five years ago. And now default  — while sending shocks of volatility through global financial markets  —  has been almost anticlimactic. But the jagged lines on a financial chart tell little of the carnage happening on the ground, or of what is to come.The problems Greece and the world face now are manifold. For Greeks, capital controls and bank closures have left people without access to the funds in their accounts. ATMs have lines stringing away from them at all hours, even though daily withdrawals are limited to €60. The next weapon in the financial warfare: deposit seizures. While it may be easy to dismiss these afflictions as the result of socialist policy, but that wouldn’t be an accurate characterization of what’s transpired.No, when Greece resorted to emergency funding, the Troika (the collective pejorative for the European Commission, European Central Bank, and IMF) authorized €110 billion in assistance, in exchange for vague, unquantified promises of “austerity.” The more recent loans were actually diversion of interest payments on Greek debt owed to other eurozone countries, lent back to Greece. Even now, after default, there is little doubt in the financial world what the “solution” to the debt crisis will be  —  more debt.Of course, it’s easy to dismiss these presumptions as the misguided naïveté of Keynesian central planners, but doing so ignores the more pervasive threat of sovereign debt. As Greeks are learning, the IMF (like many of the world’s central banks) will not accept default; it never has, and never will. Calling Greece “in arrears” didn’t do it any favors. The message is clear: you will pay. So although for a time Greece was comfortable, living beyond its means, it’s soon time to pay the piper.Government Debt Isn’t Like Private DebtSovereign debt isn’t like a credit card, family budget, or a mortgage, no matter how many folksy analogies politicians make. No, government debt is something altogether more sinister. When a state borrows money, repayment is on the heads of its citizenry, without expiration. At one point in the Hellenic drama Germany’s war reparations were at issue. An infinitesimally small minority of the population could recall the war, and an even smaller subset  —  if any  —  was even remotely accountable. But the point is illustrated clearly: public debt is interminable.This trait alone is toothless without its necessary complement: enforcement. Since government revenues are generated through taxes, and government debts are future revenues spent now, then debts are simply future taxes. While this is well-covered ground, most people seem to forget that taxes are one of the only debts for which nonpayment results in prison time.To make sovereign debt even worse, the citizenry doesn’t have the ordinary contractual protections of say, reviewing the terms, choosing how much to borrow, deciding on what to spend the money, or even agreeing to repayment schedules. Apparently, all of these choices are made at the “ballet-box.” But I’d wager that if you asked 100 people how to spend just $100, you’d get at least ninety-nine different answers. The problem gets worse, not better, when you have 300 million people and $1 trillion in debt on the table. In the end, there’s an incentive to pass the buck; the next generation can figure it out, we’re getting ours. But who will ultimately be forced to pay the bill? That demographic is unfortunate indeed, since they will be forced to pay exorbitant taxes without trappings of social welfare, just to make the interest payments on the largesse.For them, “figuring it out” means a life spent working to service another’s debts, backed by the callous indifference of law. There’s a word for that, isn’t there? Oh, yeah: slavery.
06 Jul 14:20

The NYT Unintentionally Presents Evidence Against the Minimum Wage

by Don Boudreaux
(Don Boudreaux)


Here’s a letter to the New York Times:

Reporting on the decline in teenage employment in the U.S. you write that “[e]xperts are struggling to figure out exactly why” (“It’s Summer, but Where Are the Teenage Workers?” July 4).  Hmmm.  Apparently none of the experts interviewed for your report offered the most obvious explanation: minimum-wage legislation.  Being both unskilled and without work experience, teenagers’ productivity is very low – too low in many cases to make them profitable hires for employers who must pay the government-dictated minimum wage.

Your failure even to mention the minimum wage as potentially being among the reasons for the decline in teenage employment is especially mysterious given this paragraph in your report:

What is clear is that those who need a job the most are often the least likely to get one.  To a large extent, the higher a household’s income, the more likely a teenager is to get a job.  Suburbanites have a better shot than city dwellers, and white teenagers face far better odds than blacks, in part because of disappearing federal support for summer jobs.

Economists who analyze the minimum wage in depth have long predicted that the relatively few jobs that are available at the minimum wage will be filled disproportionately by the least-risky among low-skilled workers – such as workers who hail from affluent suburbs with good schools, who are privy to the ‘right’ social connections, and who, having their own automobiles, can get to work more reliably than can workers who must depend upon public transportation or the good graces of busy family and friends.

Although you don’t realize it, the reality unmasked throughout your report supports economists’ traditional warnings of the many wretched consequences unleashed by minimum-wage legislation.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030

Other factors, undoubtedly, also are now working to reduce the labor-force participation of teenagers in America – forces such as the increasing prosperity of ordinary Americans (which permits greater consumption of leisure and other non-income-earning pursuits).  But to write such a report without even mentioning legislation that directly raises the cost of employing low-skilled workers is inexcusable.

(I thank Dwight Lee for the pointer to this report in the Gray Lady.)

06 Jul 04:00

Amazon Liberates Readers

By Stewart Dompe

Science fiction author Ursula K. Le Guin thinks Amazon represents everything that’s wrong with capitalism:

If you want to sell cheap and fast, as Amazon does, you have to sell big. Books written to be best sellers can be written fast, sold cheap, dumped fast: the perfect commodity for growth capitalism.

The readability of many best sellers is much like the edibility of junk food. Agribusiness and the food packagers sell us sweetened fat to live on, so we come to think that’s what food is. Amazon uses the BS Machine to sell us sweetened fat to live on, so we begin to think that’s what literature is.

She blames the online retailer for perpetuating a system that encourages authors to produce “sweetened fat” instead of the literature that nourishes the soul. She attacks the marketing of best seller lists (“BS lists”), and it would not be a mistake to infer that she believes these lists are comprised of an entirely different sort of “BS.” She writes:

Best Seller lists are generated by obscure processes, which I consider (perhaps wrongly) to consist largely of smoke, mirrors, hokum, and the profit motive. How truly the lists of Best Sellers reflect popularity is questionable.

If the literary world is a garden, then Amazon would be a gardener whose liberal use of fertilizer, Le Guin contends, has encouraged the growth of weeds. But her anger is misplaced. There is no gardener — and the garden is more beautiful than ever.

Spontaneous Order in the Book World

Amazon is a consequence, not the cause, of the digital revolution. More books are being published every year because it is now easier to become an author. Traditional publishers printed 316,480 new titles in 2010. That’s 100,000 more than they published in 2002, but this figure is dwarfed by the 2.7 million “nontraditional” titles that were published in 2010. The importance of publishing houses, bookstores, and critics has eroded because authors can now bypass these middlemen and sell ebooks directly to the public. All it takes is a website and some social-media savvy.

More writers can now pursue their dreams of becoming authors. The garden is growing larger and more diverse.


Some will argue that with this large increase in quantity, the weeds will start to outnumber the roses. The problem with this argument is that it misunderstands the market segmentation that is occurring. Simply put, what is a weed to one is a rose to another. Publishers need to sell a minimum number of books to recover the substantial fixed costs of printing. These financial pressures mean that even a well-written manuscript would be rejected if it were judged to appeal to too small an audience. As the cost of publishing has fallen, manuscripts that were previously rejected are now being published, and authors can now target smaller audiences. It is therefore unsurprising if readers find that most books conflict with their aesthetic preferences — they are not the intended audience.

Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter will never sit on my parents’ nightstand. That is neither a tragedy nor unexpected, but to the people who love historical horror fiction, the world is a better place with that book in it. More writers can now pursue their dreams of becoming authors. The garden is growing larger and more diverse.

What Hath Marketing Wrought?

Le Guin is concerned about the influence of marketing in creating best seller lists. But even with a much larger budget than what book publishers have, Hollywood seems incapable of ensuring against $100 million bombs like Tomorrowland. Producers may broadly know what “the people” want, but that knowledge offers little guidance in ensuring a commercial success.

If you had told me a few years ago that one of the most popular book series in America, the Twilight saga, would be about a love triangle between a mopey teenage girl, a werewolf, and a centuries-old pedophile, I would have laughed in your face. Another best seller, Fifty Shades of Grey, started as Twilight fan fiction. In what smoke-filled room was it decided to sell erotica at Walmart?

Best sellers are an interesting phenomenon, because book consumption — once an intimate connection between reader and writer — has transformed into a widely shared social experience. These shared experiences create bonds between strangers. Art is a bridge that connects otherwise lonely islands of experience. When Mark Zuckerberg announced his book club, he was inviting countless strangers to join him in thinking and talking about the world.

Producing a best seller is harder than it looks. What sells or doesn’t sell — and what becomes the next breakout hit — is never the outcome of design. Writers and publishers experiment. Readers respond. Social media allows the cycle to accelerate, and sometimes the results can seem bewildering.

In this new era, more people are dedicating their lives to creating art. It is hard to find fault with either those pursuing their dreams or those paying them to do so. There are more books than we can read in a lifetime. If there is anything to regret, it is our pitifully short lives, not the literary bounty before us.

Le Guin is a brilliant novelist, but she fundamentally misunderstands the nature of the 21st-century market. The challenge now facing all readers is not to criticize the abundance of choices but to develop better filters for finding the literature that appeals to their interests. Luckily, Amazon has some recommendations you may be interested in viewing.

06 Jul 08:44

One of the world's biggest banks just admitted bitcoin could destroy existing finance firms

by Oscar Williams-Grut

People watching a bonfire

French bank BNP Paribas says the technology underpinning bitcoin has the potential to make existing companies "redundant," a huge admission from one of the world's biggest banks.

Analyst Johann Palychata writes in the company's magazine Quintessence that bitcoin's blockchain, the software that allows the digital currency to function, "should be considered as an invention like the steam or combustion engine," that has the potential to transform the world of finance and beyond.

The blockchain is an online ledger of all the bitcoin transactions that take place. It's spread across thousands of computers and servers globally.

It lets people exchange bitcoin by spreading the record of exchanges and ownership history across a wide area. It adds a layer of trust that is essential to bitcoin — everyone can check a coin hasn't been double spent and is actually owned by the person claiming to.

Palychata says that if this type of technology is applied to securities trading —  the world of buying and selling company shares — then "existing industry players might be redundant."

If investors can trade shares directly with each other in a system that has a layer of trust built into it then middle men — stock brokers — aren't needed anymore.

That's a huge thing for an investment bank to say, especially one of BNP Paribas' size — it's France's biggest bank

Most banks have been keen to play down the competition from financial technology, or fintech, startups, saying new technology presents opportunities rather than threats.

Falling technology costs and the disruption that followed the financial crisis of 2008 have lead to a wave of innovation and competition for banks. Bitcoin and the blockchain are some of the most cutting edge financial experiments we've seen.

Banks like Santander and Barclays are investing in and experimenting with financial technology of their own, saying it's a good chance to improve their own services.

But the truth — as Palychata makes clear — is these banks are being forced to innovate. While its unlikely that any one of hundreds of startups currently springing up will replace Santander or Barclays, banks face death by a thousand cuts as startups attack different parts of their businesses from multiple angels. If they don't do something soon it will start to affect the bottom line.

Palychata's scenario of blockchain being applied to stock trading isn't such an outlandish scenario either — US exchange operator Nasdaq is currently experimenting with the blockchain.

That said, Palychata's "redundant" prediction is a worst case scenario. He believes it's more likely that stock broking firms will adopt the blockchain technology to trade among themselves, rather than offer it directly to consumers.

And even if a startup or coder builds a blockchain for trading shares and opens it directly to the public, Palychata thinks the security issues around keeping private keys — the access codes used to get digital assets traded on the blockchain — means current firms could develop a new role as the guardians of these keys.

But the fact that an analyst is using the word "redundant" shows how seriously banks are taking this threat.

Join the conversation about this story »

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06 Jul 15:22

The next Reddit could be based on bitcoin and impossible to censor

by Rob Price

riots on fire burning flame ferguson missouri

What's next for Reddit? After the abrupt dismissal of a popular staff member saw its volunteer moderators take hundreds of the site's most popular communities offline in protest, some users have speculated that this is the beginning of the end for the community-driven news site.

But there's another, far more radical vision for Reddit (or a site just like it): A decentralised, bitcoin-powered community that is impossible to shut down, impossible to censor.

It's the free speech advocate's dream — and it's not as unrealistic as you might think.

Similar projects are already thriving, and two new blog posts published on Sunday have made clear just how close we already are.

Bitcoin, meet Reddit

First we have Fred Wilson, a prominent venture capitalist at Union Square Ventures. Wilson suggests taking one of the underlying principles of bitcoin — the blockchain — and applying to Reddit. The blockchain, if you're unfamiliar with it, is a decentralised ledger that stores every transaction made on the bitcoin network. It means there is no need for a central bank to keep a record of who's spending what, because everyone has the record. It also means that because everyone has a copy, it is all but impossible to censor.

Apply that principle to Reddit and it gives you a community, collectively powered by its users, that is impossible to censor. It's the techno-libertarian dream of effectively limitless free speech.

reddit all ellen pao fat people hate community responseMany of Reddit's recent woes have come from the tensions that have risen between the site's support of free speech, and the reality of having to police a website for abusive, offensive, or illegal content. (Many users were outraged when the site banned r/FatPeopleHate, a community dedicated to — you guessed it! — hating fat people.)

Wilson suggests that, actually, "it may be that there is no viable middle ground between a centrally controlled media platform and an entirely decentralized media platform. You are either going to police the site or you are going to build something that cannot be policed even if you want to."

He goes on: "The interesting thing about an entirely decentralized media platform is that you can have clients that choose to curate, police, and censor and clients that choose not to ... The demand is there. The supply (technology) is there. And we’ve seen a bunch of teams working on this. I think one or more will get it right. And I think that will happen soon."

This isn't just a thought experiment

Interesting hypothetical idea, right? Well, it gets a lot more exciting when you take into account the fact that Reddit has previously tried to do exactly this.

A second blog post, published by former Reddit engineer Ryan X. Charles on Sunday, sheds new light on internal experiments at Reddit. Charles, though no longer working at the company, was hired as a "cryptocurrency engineer," to help develop a digital currency for the site.

Yishan WongBut, he writes, "we actually had a secret, higher priority goal: We wanted to decentralise Reddit."

In a discussion last year with then-CEO Yishan Wong, Charles was told that the company "had a high-level plan of decentralizing reddit in the works, and they needed someone to execute this vision. Soon thereafter, I left my job at BitPay, the leading bitcoin payment processing company, to join reddit, Inc. My primary goal at reddit on Day 1 was to decentralize reddit."

Ultimately, the plans never came to fruition. Wong parted ways with Reddit, as did Charles just months later after a large funding round. But how might it have operated? The engineer gives an example:

Each user has an app, the reddit app, which connects to the reddit p2p network. For most users, the app is a normal web app. Each user funds their own app with a small amount of bitcoin. In order to download content, the user pays a very, very small amount of bitcoin to the peers on the network. This incentivizes people to keep the app open so as to keep servicing the other users. Furthermore, when a user upvotes content, that sends a small amount of bitcoin to the author of that content, thus incentivizing the production of good content. If all the content is authenticated, we can be reasonably sure most payments are going to the right people.

In this scenario, reddit, Inc. still exists, they just don’t have a monopoly on the hosting of reddit content. Instead, anyone can run the app to host the content, and reddit, Inc. is just the biggest service provider. Any user can run a business by running the app full-time. Any user, including reddit, Inc., can censor content they themselves deliver to other users, but cannot censor content other users send to other users.

Decentralised networks are far closer than you realise

Bitcoin is the highest-profile realisation of a blockchain-powered app, but it's not the only one. One of the other significant examples is OpenBazaar. Originally developed as a successor to online drug marketplace Silk Road, it has evolved to become a decentralised marketplace that lets users buy and sell literally anything using bitcoin.

As such, OpenBazaar faces all the same challenges that any decentralised media platform would. How do you tackle harassment, or slander, or deceit? How do you deal with objectionable content? How do you persuade people to contribute processing power to the upkeep of a network that will, in all likelihood, be used to help facilitate illegal activity?

open bazaar honeyIn June, OpenBazaar took $1 million in VC funding from Andreessen Horowitz, one of Silicon Valley's most high-profile venture capital funds, as well as Union Square Ventures — the same fund Wilson is a partner at. At the time of the funding, lead developer Brian Hoffman was candid about the fact there would inevitably be "misuse" of OpenBazaar by criminals, but hoped the funding round would help "legitimise development of the protocol."

Hoffman's argument is that as OpenBazaar is a protocol (like BitTorrent), rather than a centralised entity (like the Pirate Bay), its developers can't be held liable for what takes place on it — the same argument the creators of a decentralised Reddit would likely use to wash their hands of illegal content.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Hoffman told Business Insider that he thinks Wilson is "super on point with this analysis I think."

The developer recommends some caution: "Being both a huge Twitter and Reddit fan I certainly think building a decentralized media company is intriguing but harder than it looks. You kind of saw the difficulty with attempts like Diaspora [an earlier decentralised social network] that never really took off. Projects like OpenBazaar and others are feverishly working to unbundle those types of businesses to push profit generation to the edges rather than by charging a toll with ads or fees in the center.

"The blockchain and decentralized databases enable us to do so and those offerings are improving every day."

"A paradigm shift is happening"

pao reutersThe outcome of the #RedditRevolt, as some are calling it, is anyone's guess. More than 100,000 people signed a petition calling for CEO Ellen Pao's removal over the weekend, while clones like are springing up and promising users an "uncensored" Reddit-like experience. But at the same time, it's not clear how many "ordinary" Reddit users — the majority of whom never even register accounts — care about these company politics.

Whether it is ultimately Reddit or not, however, it is inevitable that someone experiments with building Wilson's idea of a decentralised media platform. After all, as Charles points out, companies are already attempting it. When that happens, OpenBazaar may provide a useful social, business, and legal blueprint to follow.

"Incumbents like Reddit should be watching over their shoulders," Hoffman tells me, "because a paradigm shift is happening and it's closer than you think."

Join the conversation about this story »

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06 Jul 15:30

Fix the Sex Offender Registry: This 19-Year-Old Is Not a Threat to Children

by Lenore Skenazy

TeenSunday New York Times readers just heard about the case of Zach Anderson, the 19-year-old who met a young woman he believed to be 17 via an online dating app, had sex with her once, and now sits in jail. After he gets out this week, he will spend the rest of his life as a registered sex offender. He will also endure five years of court-mandated internet deprivation. He won’t even be allowed to have an email address.

Why? His date lied about her age: she was actually 14. Our sex offender laws fail to distinguish between child rapists and teens having sex with other teens.

I wrote about Zach's case here at Reason about three weeks ago. As NYT’s Julie Bosman reports:

As an Indiana resident, Mr. Anderson will most likely be listed on a sex offender registry for life, a sanction that requires him to be in regular contact with the authorities, to allow searches of his home every 90 days and to live far from schools, parks and other public places. His probation will also require him to stay off the Internet, though he needs it to study computer science.

Some advocates and legal authorities are holding up Mr. Anderson’s case as the latest example of the overreach of sex offender registries, which gained favor in the 1990s as a tool for monitoring pedophiles and other people who committed sexual crimes. In the decades since, the registries have grown in number and scope; the nearly 800,000 people on registries in the United States go beyond adults who have sexually assaulted other adults or minors. Also listed are people found guilty of lesser offenses that run the gamut from urinating publicly to swapping lewd texts.

Bosman interviewed Brenda V. Jones, executive director of Reform Sex Offender Laws, who pointed out that even in cases when judges wish to grant leniency (Zach's judge, the irascible Denis Wiley, did not), the mandates of the registry are draconian. And the registry is public, ostensibly to alert us to the "fiends" preying on minors nearby.

But Zach is not a fiend. He’s also not alone. In fact, a quarter of the people on the registry were actually added to it as minors—minors who had sex with other minors. That doesn't make them predators. It makes them like most of us: people who have sex with other people in their age bracket. That’s 200,000 young lives decimated, and 200,000 dots on sex offender maps, scaring parents from ever sending their kids outside again. (That's how I originally became interested in this issue. It's hard to go “free-range” when we're told that every dot on the map represents another threat to children.)

I would add that even the people who have committed heinous acts do not deserve to be on a public registry once they have served their time. Contrary to popular belief, sex offenders have the lowest recidivism rate of any criminals aside from murderers. But we don't have a public drug dealer registry, or arson registry, or assault registry.

That's because the sex offender registry is about public shaming, not public safety. Zach is just one fish caught up in this net of fear, grandstanding, a media devoted to scaring us, and good old American hypocrisy when it comes to sex: We love it as much as any species, but only allow ourselves to talk about it in terms of crime and danger.

06 Jul 19:38

Government Is Spending Millions to Rush To the Front of the Parade

by admin

From Shawn Regan at PERC, via Arnold Kling

Last year, riding the buzz over dying bees, the Obama administration announced the creation of a pollinator-health task force to develop a “federal strategy” to promote honeybees and other pollinators. Last month the task force unveiled its long-awaited plan, the National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators. The plan aims to reduce honeybee-colony losses to “sustainable” levels and create 7 million acres of pollinator-friendly habitat. It also calls for more than $82 million in federal funding to address pollinator health.

But here’s something you probably haven’t heard: There are more honeybee colonies in the United States today than there were when colony collapse disorder began in 2006. In fact, according to data released in March by the Department of Agriculture, U.S. honeybee-colony numbers are now at a 20-year high. And those colonies are producing plenty of honey. U.S. honey production is also at a 10-year high.

The White House downplays these extensive markets for pollination services. The task force makes no mention of the remarkable resilience of beekeepers. Instead, we’re told the government will address the crisis with an “all hands on deck” approach, by planting pollinator-friendly landscaping, expanding public education and outreach, and supporting more research on bee disease and potential environmental stressors.

I am sure the government, once they have had some bureaucrats running around filing reports and plans for a few years will soon claim credit for the improvement.  My prediction:  This agency will still be here 50 years from now.  You can never kill these things once created.  This is only slightly less irritating than politicians who claim that they "created X million jobs" when in office, but only slightly.

Update:  Another very similar example:  transfats.

The Food and Drug Administration recently moved to eliminate trans fats from the American diet, and food activists and the public-health lobby are claiming a historic victory. Yet this is a rare case of the Obama Administration regulating from behind. Markets had as much to do with the fall of trans fats as government did with their rise.

The FDA’s first restrictions on the use of partially hydrogenated oils as a major source of trans fats in processed foods—think Crisco shortening—give food makers three years to phase out the substance. Evidence began to accumulate in the early 2000s that trans fats were connected to bad cholesterol and cardiovascular diseases. Shoppers and diners concerned about health risks soon started to revolt against the fried and baked goods and the fast-food fare where they were prevalent.

Lo and behold, the food industry responded by changing their recipes and eliminating the oils from some 86% of their products. Trans fat consumption plunged by 78% over a decade, according to the FDA’s estimates, and is now well below the two grams per day that the American Heart Association says is the safe upper limit. The rare survivors of this purge are niche foods like microwave popcorn, frozen pizza and chocolate sprinkles, where trans fats are useful for improving taste and texture.

06 Jul 02:31

DDoSers call 1988 and want its routing protocol hacked

by Darren Pauli

500 routers whip up colossal DDOS over ye olde RIP protocol

Attackers are exploiting an ancient networking protocol to enslave small home and office routers in distributed denial of service attacks, Akamai says.…

06 Jul 00:57

ONE MILLION new lines of code hit Linux Kernel

by Simon Sharwood

4.2 rc1 is biggest … release … candidate … EVER

Linus Torvalds has loosed Linux 4.2-rc1 upon a waiting world, and rates it the biggest release candidate ever in terms of the volume of new code it contains.…

05 Jul 19:10

Turning Teens who Have Sex into “Sex Offenders” — The Story Continues

by lskenazy


The front page of today’s New York Times features the case against Zach Anderson, a case you read about here three weeks ago. Zach is the 19 year old who met a young woman, 17, on “Hot or Not,” had sex with her once and now sits in jail. When he gets out next week he will spend the rest of his life on the Sex Offender Registry, and the next five years forbidden to go online.

Because, it turns out, the girl lied and was actually 14. But really because our Sex Offender laws fail to distinguish between the child rapists it was created to slam, and anybody else who has sex before a certain age.

I wrote up Zach’s case because it is a great way to highlight how overboard the sex laws and registry are. As Julie Bosman of the Times reports:

As an Indiana resident, Mr. Anderson will most likely be listed on a sex offender registry for life, a sanction that requires him to be in regular contact with the authorities, to allow searches of his home every 90 days and to live far from schools, parks and other public places. His probation will also require him to stay off the Internet, though he needs it to study computer science.

Some advocates and legal authorities are holding up Mr. Anderson’s case as the latest example of the overreach of sex offender registries, which gained favor in the 1990s as a tool for monitoring pedophiles and other people who committed sexual crimes. In the decades since, the registries have grown in number and scope; the nearly 800,000 people on registries in the United States go beyond adults who have sexually assaulted other adults or minors. Also listed are people found guilty of lesser offenses that run the gamut from urinating publicly to swapping lewd texts.

The Times goes on to interview Brenda V. Jones, executive director of Reform Sex Offender Laws, who points out that even in cases when judges wish to grant leniency (the vindictive Dennis Wiley did not), the mandates of the registry are draconian. Worst of all could be the fact that the registry is public, ostensibly to alert us to the “fiends” in our midst.

But Zach is not a fiend. And one fourth of the people on the registry got on as minors…because minors have sex with other minors. That doesn’t make them predators. It makes them like most of us, people who have sex with people in our age bracket. And yet, we’re talking 200,000 young lives decimated — 200,000 dots on sex offender maps, scaring parents from ever sending their kids outside again. (That’s how I originally got interested in this issue. It’s hard to go Free-Range when we’re told our kids are in constant danger from the dots in the neighborhood.)

I would add that even the people who have committed heinous acts do not deserve to be on a public registry once they have served their time. Contrary to popular belief, sex offenders have the lowest recidivism rate of any criminals except for murderers. And yet we don’t have a public Drug Dealer Registry. A public Arsonist Registry. A public Assault Registry….

That’s because the public Sex Offender Registry is not about public safety. It’s about public shame. It’s about our obsession with predators and politicians pandering to it, with laws that studies show do not make kids any safer.

Zach is just one fish caught up in this net woven of fear, grandstanding, a media devoted to scaring us, and good old American ambivalence when it comes to sex: We love it as much as everyone else, but only allow ourselves to talk about it in terms of  danger and dysfunction. Movies, TV shows, talk shows, news shows and thrillers about predators allow us to contemplate sex non-stop by giving us the perfect excuse: We’re outraged!

That’s not enough justification for ruining so many lives. – L


This young man cannot live near a school, church or day care center for the rest of his life, as he had sex, once, as a teen, with another teen he thought was his age and therefore constitutes a threat to children.

Zach Anderson, 19, cannot live near a school, park or day care center for the rest of his life, as he had sex, once, with  another teen he thought was his age, and therefore he constitutes a threat to children.


05 Jul 15:26

An observation on the $135,000 cake refusal

by Walter Olson

Has anyone noted that the “Ferguson syndrome” of ruinously escalating fines for petty violations [covered widely in the liberal press, and here previously], and Oregon’s ordering of a couple to pay $135,000 for not complying with a request to bake a cake (being covered at AP, widely in the conservative press, and here previously, with related], might actually amount in part to the same issue?

P.S. On Twitter, colleague Jason Kuznicki and I discuss the issue a little further. He writes: “Can’t say I agree. Punitive fines are really hidden taxes. The bakery issue is about punishing crimethink.” I respond: “But with sensible damages calculation (i.e. circa zero) the bakery action would lose much of its power to intimidate. Also, there’s debate: are oppressive local fines ‘just’ a revenue abuse (typically our side’s view) or a wider #NewJimCrow? Or to put it yet another way: once you allow oppressive fines, don’t be surprised if they are used to oppress.”

Tags: crime and punishment, damages, discrimination law, Oregon, petty fines and fees

An observation on the $135,000 cake refusal is a post from Overlawyered - Chronicling the high cost of our legal system

02 Jul 16:02

11 timeless lessons from a book that changed billionaire CEO Elizabeth Holmes' life

by Richard Feloni

- Understand that people exist to help one another.
- Be mindful of others' humanity.
- Realize that many mistakes, even egregious ones, are the result of ignorance.
- Do not overly exalt yourself.
- Avoid quick judgments of others' actions.
- Maintain self-control.
- Recognize that others can hurt you only if you let them.
- Know that pessimism can easily overtake you.
- Live in the present.
- Refrain from imposing your feelings onto reality.
- Turn an obstacle into an opportunity.

elizabeth holmes, theranos, sv100 2015

Billionaire Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was named No. 1 on Business Insider's Silicon Valley 100 list this year due to her remarkable rise to success.

Holmes has always been intense and pragmatic, and one book that she read in her formative years helped harden her resolve.

When she left Houston for Stanford University in 2002 to study chemical engineering as an undergraduate, her parents sent her with a copy of Marcus Aurelius' "Meditations," according to a New Yorker profile by Ken Auletta.

The book, a collection of personal writings from the chaotic last decade of the ancient Roman emperor's life, is the philosopher king's interpretation of Stoic philosophy, focusing on accepting things out of one's control and maintaining mastery over one's emotions.

In a recent interview with the Academy of Achievement, Holmes said she read the book "over and over again" and found the story of an incredibly disciplined and focused leader "very inspiring."

About a year after enrolling, Holmes dropped out of Stanford to build Theranos, a blood test company based on the premise that an analysis of a single drop of blood could replace the costly and uncomfortable current blood tests.

While many in the scientific community have expressed skepticism over the efficacy of the tests due to the current lack of (but upcoming) peer-reviewed trials of the technology, the promise of the company and the trust in Holmes as a leader has resulted in $400 million in venture capital raised and a deal with Walgreens, resulting in Holmes' $4.6 billion estimated net worth, according to Forbes.

To find out what may have inspired Holmes, we've gone through Gregory Hays' translation of "Meditations" and selected some of its most important lessons.

Understand that people exist to help one another.

Marcus believed that even though there will always be people who live selfishly and those who want to destroy others, mankind was meant to live in harmony. "That we came into the world for the sake of one another," he writes.

And within society, leaders such as himself emerge. And it is their duty to be the guardian of their followers.

Be mindful of others' humanity.

Remember that every one of your followers, every one of your superiors, and every one of your enemies is a human being who eats and sleeps and so forth. It sounds obvious, but it is easy to belittle or to magnify the importance of others when you are making a decision about them.

Remember that every person has dignity and pride.


Realize that many mistakes, even egregious ones, are the result of ignorance.

When a person makes a decision that offends you, Marcus writes, first consider whether they were "right to do this" in the sense that they are acting in a way that is morally acceptable, even if it is against your own self-interest. In that case, do not spend energy complaining about it.

If, however, they are behaving in a reprehensible way, consider their actions to be based in ignorance. It's for this reason that many of these offenders "resent being called unjust, or arrogant, or greedy," Marcus writes. When dealing with your followers, punishment or chastisement should thus be done in an educational way.

Do not overly exalt yourself.

It is true that leaders should take their leadership roles seriously, but not in a way that makes them feel godlike in some way.

Remember, "you've made enough mistakes yourself," Marcus writes. "You're just like them." And if you've managed to avoid some of the mistakes your followers make, then recognize that you have the potential to falter and do even worse.

Avoid quick judgments of others' actions.

Sometimes what you initially perceive as your followers' or your competition's mistakes are more wise and deliberate than you think.

"A lot of things are means to some other end. You have to know an awful lot before you can judge other people's actions with real understanding," Marcus says.

Maintain self-control.

While it is natural to react to an offense by losing your temper or even becoming irritated, it is in no way constructive. To maintain control over your emotions, Marcus writes, remember that life is short.

You can choose to spend your time and energy languishing over things that have already happened, or you can choose to be calm and address any problems that arise.

Recognize that others can hurt you only if you let them.

Think about a time when someone insulted you, for example. You made the decision to let their words hurt you, when you could have instead pitied them for being ignorant or rude.

The only actions that should truly hurt you, Marcus writes, are things you do that are shameful, since you are in control of your own self-worth and values.

Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos

Know that pessimism can easily overtake you.

It is common to have strong emotional reactions to disasters, but behaving in this way only keeps you from addressing the challenges that arise and fills you with powerful negative thoughts.

"How much more damage anger and grief do than the things that cause them," Marcus says.

Live in the present.

"Each of us lives only now, this brief instant. The rest has been lived already, or is impossible to see," Marcus writes.

Refrain from imposing your feelings onto reality.

Your company collapses, your house burns down, you lose all your money — none of these are "bad" (or "good" for that matter), according to Marcus' philosophy. When you see things as they really are, you're able to avoid succumbing to your emotions and accept what has happened.

Turn an obstacle into an opportunity.

Ryan Holiday's book "The Obstacle Is the Way" is based off this Stoic fundamental, which says that we should use inevitable challenges as a chance to become a stronger person. Holiday likes "The Black Swan" author Nassim Taleb's definition of a Stoic, which is someone who "transforms fear into prudence, pain into transformation, mistakes into initiation, and desire into undertaking."

SEE ALSO: THE SILICON VALLEY 100: The most amazing and inspiring people in tech right now

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03 Jul 12:30

Vetoing Liquor Privatization, Pennsylvania's Governor Says Competition Would Raise Prices

by Jacob Sullum

Yesterday Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed a bill that would have privatized the sale of wine and liquor while liberalizing the rules for selling beer in the Keystone State. Wolf counterintutively argues that replacing the state monopoly with private businesses would be bad for consumers. "During consideration of this legislation," he says, "it became abundantly clear that this plan would result in higher prices for consumers." He also worries that letting private businesses sell wine and liquor would result in "less selection for consumers."

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Wolf and his fellow Democrats "warned that prices would rise as private businesses sought profit." In other words, private merchants will jack up prices because they want to make money—unlike the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), which seeks only to raise revenue. If you think those two motives sound pretty similar, you are smarter than Pennsylvania's governor, who fails to recognize that the relevant difference between these two models for distributing booze, when it comes to how high prices can be raised, is the presence or absence of competition. Other things being equal, more competition leads to lower prices, so it is hard to see why Pennsylvanians would have to pay more for a bottle of whiskey if the state monopoly were replaced by profit-driven businesses competing against each other. 

If you compare the prices charged by the PLCB to the prices charged by, say, Total Wine & More across the border in New Jersey, you'll find that customers generally pay more for liquor in Pennsylvania: for example, just picking three products I often buy, $30 vs. $25 for Bulleit rye whiskey, $52 vs. $44 for 10-year-old Ardbeg Scotch, and $44 vs. $37 for Herradura reposado tequila (all in 750-milliliter bottles). Total Wine also has a bigger selection: 354 varieties of Scotch, for instance, compared to fewer than 100 at the PLCB. Is there any reason to think Total Wine could not offer similar prices and variety to Pennsylvanians?

The prediction of higher prices is not only inconsistent with basic economic principles and the experiences of the three dozen or so states that already have private liquor sales. It is also inconsistent with another major argument used by opponents of privatization, who say abolishing the state monopoly will lead to more drinking and more alcohol abuse. Last year, for instance, the union that represents the employees of Pennsylvania's state-run liquor stores warned that privatization would mean more deaths from drunk driving. Or as one union-sponsored TV spot put it, "it only takes a little bit of greed to kill a child." It is hard to reconcile Wolf's warning about higher prices with the union's prediction of higher consumption.

One point made by opponents of privatization is indisputably true: The current system is good for some people. The Post-Gazette notes that Democrats worry about "the state jobs provided by the liquor stores," while beer wholesalers, currently the only legal source of beer aside from bars and restaurants (including a few restaurants conveniently located in the middle of grocery stores), do not want to lose the legal privileges that line their pockets. Welcoming Wolf's veto, the Malt Beverage Distributors Association said the bill "would have eliminated most of our small, family-owned and operated businesses."

Such concerns are completely understandable but should carry no weight whatsoever. Any rigged market benefits certain interest groups at the expense of consumers and would-be competitors. For anyone outside those privileged groups, that should count as an argument against the system, not a reason to keep it.

The argument that monopolizing the liquor business brings in revenue that would otherwise have to be raised through taxes likewise proves too much, since it could be used to justify state ownership of any industry. As Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) and Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre) correctly observe, "Pennsylvania should not be in the business of selling liquor"—or any other consumer good. Imagine how much money could be raised if Pennsylvanians had to buy toilet paper from state-owned outlets.

Scarnati and Corman complain that "Gov. Wolf has rejected moving Pennsylvania into the 21st century when it comes to the sale of wine and spirits." That strikes me as excessively generous. The technology enabling private merchants to exchange booze for money is hardly a recent development. It has been around for thousands of years. It's the idea that governments should run this business that is relatively new, and its rationale had nothing to do with keeping prices low, contrary to what Wolf seems to think. Quite the opposite: The state liquor monopolies created after the repeal of Prohibition were designed to be bad for consumers, on the theory that making it harder and more expensive to get drunk would result in less drunkenness.

Through "modernization of our state liquor system," Wolf says, "we can support and bolster consumer convenience without selling an asset and risking higher prices and less selection for consumers. I am open to options for expanding the availability of wine and beer in more locations, including supermarkets. I have also put other compromises on the table, including variable pricing, direct shipment of wine and expanding state store hours." When Wolf talks about "modernizing" state stores to make them more customer-friendly, he is abandoning the goal of discouraging consumption, which was the main justification for putting the state in charge of liquor distribution to begin with. The more they strive to emulate private businesses, the more state liquor monopolies undermine their reason for existing.

04 Jul 13:15

Frederick Douglass on Liberty, Slavery, and the Fourth of July

by Damon Root

On July 5, 1852, the abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass delivered one of the greatest speeches of his long and storied career. Titled "What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?," Douglass' speech contained both a searing denunciation of American slavery and a rousing defense of the libertarian principles coursing through the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. "Interpreted as it ought to be interpreted," Douglass thundered from the stage, "the Constitution is a glorious liberty document."

In my view, there's no such thing as a bad day to reflect on the wisdom of Frederick Douglass—but July Fourth is perhaps a better day for it than most. So as a way of both honoring Douglass and marking the anniversary of his remarkable July Fourth speech, here are two stories from the Reason archives which examine the life and legacy of this indispensable American hero.

Frederick Douglass, Classical Liberal

It's true that Frederick Douglass simultaneously championed both civil rights and economic liberty. But the proper term for that combination isn’t Social Darwinism; it's classical liberalism. The central component of Douglass' worldview was the principle of self-ownership, which he understood to include both racial equality and the right to enjoy the fruits of one's labor.

Consider the remarkable 1848 letter Doug­lass wrote to his old master, the slaveholder Thomas Auld. It rings out repeatedly with the tenets of classical liberalism. "You are a man and so am I," Douglass declared. "In leaving you, I took nothing but what belonged to me, and in no way lessened your means for obtaining an honest living." Escaping from slavery wasn't just an act of self-preservation, Douglass maintained; it was an affirmation of his unalienable natural rights. "Your faculties remained yours," he wrote, "and mine became useful to their rightful owner."

Douglass struck a similar note in his powerful 1852 speech "What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?" Evoking John Locke's famous description of private property emerging from man mixing his labor with the natural world, Douglass pointed to slaves "plowing, planting and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools, erecting houses" as proof that they too deserved the full range of natural rights. "Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? That he is the rightful owner of his own body?" Douglass asked his mostly white audience. "There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven, that does not know that slavery is wrong for him."

What Frederick Douglass Teaches Us About American Exceptionalism and the Growth of Freedom

Douglass' genius was not in hailing or excoriating American in hyperbolic terms. Plenty of people before and after him have done that. To simply assert that the United States is the either most perfect or most depraved nation is a form of exceptionalism, to be sure. But it is also an indulgent gesture that presumes that we can't redeem ourselves or ever be held in error.

I think what resonates to this day is that Douglass was able to place America not simply in an international context but also to recognize that embracing freedom and liberty is a process that will continue to unfold and expand (or contract) over time.

The United States has much to be ashamed of as a nation and much to celebrate. But as we hurtle through history, what we need more than anything is a compass by which to chart future actions. Douglass' life and writings help provide that in a way few other examples can.

03 Jul 17:33

David Gross', Nobelists' painful AGW publicity stunt

by Luboš Motl
Sixty years ago, on July 15th, 1955, Max Born, Werner Heisenberg, Hideki Yukawa, Otto Hahn, and 14 other Nobel prize winners signed the Mainau Declaration against the use of nuclear weapons. It was a decade after Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the fear made sense. The superpowers had accumulated lots of nukes and their destructive character had been observed.

These days, there is another meeting of the Nobel laureates at Lindau. Nobel prize winners including David Gross performed something that cynics in Deutsche Welle call "a stab at relevance" or "a publicity stunt": the 2015 Mainau Declaration on "climate change" (see the PDF file with the declaration).

Brian Schmidt, the 2011 Nobel prize winner in physics for his (and their) experimental discovery of the dark energy, became the spokesman for this publicity stunt. David et al., don't you feel a little bit painful? Or, more precisely, too painful?

To continue with this most important example from my viewpoint, David Gross is an amazing physicist. But he's still part of the far left-wing group think that has contaminated most of the scholarly institutions in the U.S. and most other Western countries. I've heard him talking about things like "climate change" a few times.

One of these monologues – and I think that you might find similar ones publicly – was something I couldn't forget because it shed some light on a previously underestimated motivation for such attitude. He proudly said something like: "Scientists have become amazingly powerful. For example, the climate scientists say something about CO2 and hundreds of billions of dollars are immediately redirected. Isn't it great?"

Well, it may be great, but isn't it worrisome or embarrassing? Or do you really believe that if and when someone becomes powerful, he's automatically wise and his decisions are wise? What makes David Gross' attitude possible is that he must identify himself as a member of the same community that includes fraudsters like Michael Mann and his kin. I couldn't identify with any of those. These individuals are not real scientists, with the integrity and other features that this description demands. The actual link between David Gross and e.g. Michael Mann isn't science; it is the left-wing ideology and it's shameful if David and others try to pretend something else, to lie to themselves.
Mainau Declaration 2015 on Climate Change

We undersigned scientists, who have been awarded Nobel Prizes, have come to the shores of Lake Constance in southern Germany, to share insights with promising young researchers, who like us come from around the world. Nearly 60 years ago, here on Mainau, a similar gathering of Nobel Laureates in science issued a declaration of the dangers inherent in the newly found technology of nuclear weapons—a technology derived from advances in basic science. So far we have avoided nuclear war though the threat remains. We believe that our world today faces another threat of comparable magnitude.
OK, the first sentence boasts that they're the smartest folks in the Milky Way. They come from "around the world". It's not really true because they come mostly from the U.S. and the places where Nobel prizes are often being won, but let's not be picky.

What's more important is that despite your Nobel prizes, you present no evidence that would be relevant and it's because you don't really have the slightest clue about the problem. Despite your Nobel prizes, you are mainly a bunch of old Gentlemen who are happy to sign any left-wing petition that someone offers you.

Your boasting is on par with that of the Argentine pensioner named Jorge Mario Bergoglio who declared himself the second most important human being on Earth after Jesus Christ and who decided to (literally) preach about the global warming hoax, too. A difference is that this top apparatchik in the Catholic Church has at least written about 100 pages of text about the issue – while you, the Nobel prize winners, have only managed to compose 5 superficial paragraphs that in no way exceed what we expect from the intellectual giants of Leonardo DiCaprio's magnitude.

Incidentally, even though the nuclear weapon threat 60 years ago was real, the doomsaying predictions have turned out to be wrong – along with the recommendations that were done by the signatories. No nuclear war has started in the 6 decades after that petition. And the existence of a large number of nuclear weapons may actually be partially or mostly credited with the peace that the developed countries have enjoyed since the Second World War.

And what about the claim that the global warming hoax is a threat of comparable magnitude as the nuclear Armageddon? Please, you don't really believe that, do you? The existing nuclear bombs are undoubtedly enough to kill a vast majority of the mankind if used in a certain way. But the global warming? Even if the most insanely overstated predictions of a 5 °C warming (up to 2100) were right, you just don't die from these changes of the temperature. For most people on Earth, such a warming would be a net benefit. And those for whom it would be bad would have many simple ways to adapt. But the actual change of the global mean temperature will be comparable to 1 °C and even the sign is pretty much uncertain although the warming is slightly more likely than cooling.
Successive generations of scientists have helped create a more and more prosperous world. This prosperity has come at the cost of a rapid rise in the consumption of the world’s resources. If left unchecked, our ever-increasing demand for food, water, and energy will eventually overwhelm the Earth’s ability to satisfy humanity’s needs, and will lead to wholesale human tragedy. Already, scientists who study Earth’s climate are observing the impact of human activity
This kind of reasoning shows that when it comes to issues outside their rather narrow expertise, the dear Nobel prizes can rationally think at most as well as average schoolkids at a basic school. First, the increasing consumption really means the mankind's ability to deal with the resources – it's a sign of the progress, not something one should be a priori frightened by. And the sentence starting with "If left unchecked" is nothing else than the repeatedly debunked Malthusian nonsense that no sensible person may be seriously persuaded by.

If some resource becomes scarce or if we approach its limits, its price will go up and this increased price will automatically push the people to lower its consumption or find alternatives. The mankind can never "overspend" such a resource because it's mathematically impossible! And no resource we really need is anywhere close to be saturated. For example, the total mass of water on Earth is 1.4 x 1021 kilograms, about 4 billion times the total mass of the whole mankind. Globally, we can't run of water in the next century (and much more than that).

For a more urgent example, people consume at most as much food as they may produce. The total amount of food we can grow has increased substantially because of many reasons – including more advanced technologies, genetic engineering, and the increase of the CO2 concentration in the air (which must be thanked for about 20% increase of the crop yields). The Earth is demonstrably able to feed 7 billion people. It is doing so every year. The population may grow to 8 billion people at some point. Will the Earth be able to feed 8 billion?

Well, if the population will reach 8 billion, the answer is clearly Yes! If the Earth weren't able to feed that many people (or another number), the population would simply not grow. In civilized countries, people would have fewer children because they would think that they can't feed them. In poorer countries where the value of the human life is not equally high, people could have the same number of children but a smaller percentage would reach adulthood – they could die of hunger.

At any rate, Nature unavoidably regulates the human population much like it regulates many other things. The number 7 billion people may look large relatively to the population in the past but the population in 1900 was higher than the population in 1800, too. There is absolutely no reason to think that the current population is in any sense close to any "ultimate" or "physical" limit. To suggest that the current population must be close to a physical limit is nothing else than an irrational Malthusian fearmongering which is logically equivalent to the Jehovah Witnesses' claims about the judgement day.

(And unlike the climate change alarmists, even those religious people have learned not to repeat the claims about the persistently delayed deadlines. Their predictions have failed too many times and they have already realized how painful they have been.)

The claim that climate scientists are "already observing signs of human activity" is at least questionable. But even if we decide that it's true, it's not such a big deal that we may observe signs of human activity in the climate or any other layer of the Earth. In the microwave spectrum, the Earth looks like a bright star – because of the people. Whether you like it or not, we are really masters of this blue, not green planet. To one extent or another, this has been the case for centuries or thousands of years. This fact is in no way a reason to worry. It may be a source of pride. If something just becomes observable, it is very far from the level at which it is dangerous. The more accurate measurement apparatuses and methods we have, the greater gap between the "observable level" and "dangerous level" exists.
In response to the possibility of human-induced climate change, the United Nations established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to provide the world’s leaders a summary of the current state of relevant scientific knowledge. While by no means perfect, we believe that the efforts that have led to the current IPCC Fifth Assessment Report represent the best source of information regarding the present state of knowledge on climate change. We say this not as experts in the field of climate change, but rather as a diverse group of scientists who have a deep respect for and understanding of the integrity of the scientific process.
Sorry but if you are able to praise the IPCC which has violated tons of absolutely rudimentary scientific quality standards while it was preparing its reports (those were documented and analyzed by lots of others, including Robbert Dijkgraaf's IAC, an umbrella organization above the world's academies of sciences, which had made recommendations to the IPCC to improve their methodology and all those recommendations were completely ignored even in the next, fifth report), then you simply don't have a deep respect for or understanding of the integrity of the scientific process. You are pissing on the integrity of science.

The work of the IPCC is one of the most despicable examples of a political abuse of science since the era of eugenics. And the reason is not just the fact that Rajendra Pachauri, the recently fired IPCC boss, is a perverse sexual predator – although there probably exists a correlation between his sexual behavior and the subpar science or pseudoscience that he was supervising. The reason is that the IPCC simply didn't objectively or honestly manipulate with the data. Every person who is not completely blinded and who is interested in these matters must have figured that out.

Conclusions of the IPCC were based on cherry-picking, distortion of the evidence, inclusion of unscientific literature printed by NGOs, blackmailing of honest scientists, and so on, and so on. For observers in the whole world, the 2009 ClimateGate correspondence between the IPCC members became the clearest insight into the unbelievable corruption that determined almost all the important behavior of the IPCC.
Although there remains uncertainty as to the precise extent of climate change, the conclusions of the scientific community contained in the latest IPCC report are alarming, especially in the context of the identified risks of maintaining human prosperity in the face of greater than a 2°C rise in average global temperature. The report concludes that anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the likely cause of the current global warming of the Earth. Predictions from the range of climate models indicate that this warming will very likely increase the Earth’s temperature over the coming century by more than 2°C above its pre-industrial level unless dramatic reductions are made in anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases over the coming decades.
The IPCC report doesn't contain any genuine evidence that anything dangerous is taking place with the climate. Also, the meme about the 2 °C limit is nothing else than a pure superstition built around a randomly picked number – well, not quite randomly picked because it was deliberately chosen to be "just a little bit higher" than the temperature change that has been observed, in order to bring the predicted judgement day around the corner. Nothing special happens when the average temperature of some area increases by 2 °C relatively to a random baseline – and even the smarter and more honest alarmists have acknowledged this obvious fact.
Based on the IPCC assessment, the world must make rapid progress towards lowering current and future greenhouse gas emissions to minimize the substantial risks of climate change. We believe that the nations of the world must take the opportunity at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in December 2015 to take decisive action to limit future global emissions. This endeavor will require the cooperation of all nations, whether developed or developing, and must be sustained into the future in accord with updated scientific assessment.
There is no quality scientific research done by the IPCC reports, its selection of the literature is biased, and the conclusions can't be trusted. But more generally, science can simply never say things like "the world must make rapid progress towards something". Science is not "normative". A century ago, science couldn't really "imply" that handicapped people or some ethnic groups should have been eliminated, either, even though the eugenicists tried to make this structurally isomorphic claim to the alarmists' claim above. Whether people decide to abandon one technology or another is up to their values and priorities and those can't be "dictated" by a report, even if it were scientifically credible, and the IPCC reports have never been.

On another page on the server of the Lindau meetings, Peter Doherty (the 1996 Nobel prize winner in medicine) said:
They say that we may expect the breakdown of civil society in 21. century. And the poor on the planet are going to be the most affected, as always.
The idea that "the poor on the planet are the most affected" is nothing else than a widespread Marxist lie about the human society. At the end, capitalism and technological progress (with extremely special and important thanks to the fossil fuels, too!) have primarily improved the life of the most ordinary people, and very dramatically. It's especially their life – the most ordinary people's life – that is better than at any previous point of the human history. And there exists no reason to expect that these improvements will stop or be reversed. For this reason, the quote is a shameful lie. When the physicists listen to similar "quotes", can't they see that their petition is nothing else than an artifact of their perverse extremist political delusions and it has nothing whatever to do with science – with the human activity in which they have made special achievements?

On the Deutsche Welle page, Gross is quoted as saying:
2015 is a critical year for climate change, claims Gross.
Do you really believe this extraordinarily stupid and self-evidently irrational claim? You have calculated the beta-function of QCD to be\[

\beta (g)=-\left(11-{\frac {2n_{f}}{3}}\right){\frac {g^{3}}{16\pi ^{2}}}.

\] A nice result. Now show me the analogous calculation that implies that "2015 is a critical year for climate change"! Why isn't the result 1871 or 1917 or 1945 or 1968 or 2009 (Copenhagen+ClimateGate) or 2035 or 2055 or 2350? You know that this statement – and all other statements you have made – is complete bogus, don't you? It's the cheapest imaginable way to get the attention of the most gullible listeners, to create a sense of urgency by a claim that has absolutely no justification.
Later, David Gross complained to DW the media was uninterested in asking detailed questions about the content of the declaration. It's a bit difficult to do that when you're not allowed to see the content. We were set up.
Well, I have reproduced the full text of your petition for everyone to see what sort of atrocious activities you are doing on your vacation in Germany. The complaint that the "media are not doing enough" to spread the hysteria is pretty incredible. Readers are still drowning in hectoliters of this stinky garbage and the situation was even worse in 2007 or so when the global warming hysteria peaked.
Still, the laureates say it's in part the media's responsibility to influence public opinion.
Sorry but the ethical media's responsibility is to honestly inform the readers and viewers.

It's embarrassing that these famous physicists have endorsed this despicable petition. By their relative fame, they are lowering the prestige of physics that has been considered not just another discipline of human activity but a hard science. I am also sure that such events reduce the young talented people's desire to make important breakthroughs and win the Nobel prizes.

Incidentally, Ivar Giaever is among the 65 participants of the 65th Lindau meeting, too. At least someone who hasn't lost his mind completely, you may say. Well, the number of signatories is just 36 which is about 55% of the participants – and this percentage probably overstates the actual one because some of the 36 signatories were actually not present (i.e. 36 is not a subset of those 65). Haven't they forgotten to stress the fact that it's 97% of the scientists who agree, so that 36/65 = 0.97? Or did they decide that this claim would be too obviously preposterous? Sadly, the statements they failed to omit are comparably preposterous.