Friday, March 18, 2016

False Modesty

“How are we to start this story? I wish I could say that we’ll start at the beginning. But I don’t know where it starts. Just like everyone else, I’m not truly aware of the real sequence of cause and effect in my life….We store up all sorts of stories with fabricated logic, so that life can look as though it has some meaning. So I may as well start here in the midst of the confusion, at a time and a place where fate seemed to be taking a short break, holding its breath.”
~Bathroom Quote

Labor senator Sam Dastyari has foreshadowed protracted debate in the Senate today over changes to the way the Upper House representatives are elected.
Senators are expected to debate well into the night over proposed changes to the way Australians vote, with the Coalition and the Greens set to support the measures.

"Bring your pillows, bring your mattresses, we're not going anywhere," Senator Dastyari told reporters this morning. Pillow Parla aka talk

How Much International Tax Evasion is There?  The short answer seems to be ‘not little’. This analysis by Valeria Pellegrini confirms Gabriel Zucman’s estimates on how much in assets is hidden (a mind-boggling 6+% of the total) but estimates the stealth income as much lower than his estimates. Mind you, the amounts not reported are so great that including the estimated losses would make the US look like a far less significant capital importer than it appears to be.

“Unreported assets held abroad and tax evasion: Hints from external statistics”

By Valeria Pellegrini, Senior Researcher, Banca d’Italia, Alessandra Sanelli, Head of the International and Withholding Tax Division, Banca d’Italia and Enrico Tosti, Senior Researcher, Banca d’Italia. Originally published at VoxEU

Seven Adelaide families who control the trafficking of ice into Australia

A Hunter Valley man accused of murdering his partner with a single blow had bought an engagement ring and the pair had started trying to have children "You were looking for excuses because you'd lost your temper and deliberately struck her a blow to the head ... you intended to do at least serious harm," Mr Campbell said. Merrick replied, "I'm not trying to make excuses, Mr Crown". Military Training

The library … is no mere cabinet of curiosities; its a world, complete and uncompletable, and it is filled with secrets. Like a world, it has its changes and its seasons, which belie the permanence that ordered ranks of books imply. Tugged by the gravity of readers’ desires, books flow in and out of the library like the tides. The people who shelve the books [at Harvard’s Widener Library] talk about the library’s breathing – at the start of the term, the stacks exhale books in great swirling clouds; at end of term, the library inhales, and the books fly back. So the library is a body, too, the pages of books pressed together like organs in the darkness. Library an unquiet history

Penguin swims 5,000 miles every year for reunion with the man who saved his lifeMetro (Wat). Aaaw…Be sure to watch the clips

Once Hopeful for Harmony, a Philosopher Voices Discord in France  Alain Finkielkraut

Tax Justice Network. One of the core arguments of our Fool’s Gold project is that if you shower wealthy people and large corporations with goodies, two things happen. First, you may help them and you may be able to demonstrate some benefits, somewhere in the economy. Second, though, there is the annoying snag that those benefits entail costs elsewhere in your economy. *Why tax ‘competitiveness’ is like ice cream

In the Australian state of New South Wales, tiny inflatable pools deeper than 30cm must have a fence around them. This fence must be at least 1.2 meters tall and have a self-latching gate.
Bike riders risk a A$319 ($239, £168) fine for not wearing a helmet and a $425 fine for riding through a red light. Plain packaging is mandatory on boxes of cigarettes, not just in New South Wales but across the country. Most controversial of all are "lockout laws" which, since February 2014, have required bars in Sydney's main entertainment precincts to shut their doors to new patrons from 01:30 and stop serving drinks from 03:00. You can't buy a bottle of wine from a store after 22:00. Sydney Go to Bed Now ...

In 2015, author Jon Ronson published So You've Been Publicly Shamed, that book being the inspiration for the title of this article. In the early pages of the book, Ronson notes that:
And then one day it hit me. Something of real consequence was happening. We are at the start of a great renaissance of public shaming. ... When we deployed shame, we were utilizing an immensely powerful tool. It was coercive, borderless, and increasing in speed and influence.

Public shaming has gone online and gone viral. Online shaming, or internet vigilantism, is the use of the social media or another online public forum to draw attention to an individual or company who has allegedly committed some wrongdoings or harmed the shamer in some way. Examples of online shaming include, but are not limited to, comments designed to ridicule, harm, or threaten an individual or business as a result of some perceived anti-social behaviour.

But in the ATOs treatment of small business people, if anything the culture of the ATO has worsened, not improved. The ATO consistently demonstrates that, in its dealings with small business people, it cannot be trusted to act fairly and with due and proper process. In some cases, arguably, it appears that it cannot be trusted to act within the law, for example in relation to fraud allegations Small business losing confidence ATO

omg huge bird links
McKinsey & Company – March 2016 – From waterfall to agile: How a public-sector agency successfully changed its system- development approach to become digital, Martin Lundqvist and Peter Braad Olesen. “Government agencies around the world are under internal and external pressure to become more efficient by incorporating digital technologies and processes into their day-to-day operations

TaxGrrrl, FBAR, FATCA Filings Top 1 Million As IRS Increases Scrutiny On Foreign Accounts. “The penalties for noncompliance may, under the law, result in civil penalties, criminal penalties or both”…

(Russian - Putin's) Czech spa town Karlovy Vary aka Carlsbad ...

The people who can’t stop making puns
Teacher Marta Chamilova of Tatranka fame Over at the Literary Hub, twelve writers reflect on the high school English teachers who changed their lives. Also check out Nick Ripatrazone’s piece of advice for English teachers

1,885 paintings, 1,228 sculptures, 7,089 drawings, 30,000 prints, 150 sketchbooks, 3,222 ceramic works: That's what Picasso left behind. Then there are the fakes... More Fakes

"Erin Andrews awarded $55 million in civil case over nude video": The Tennessean has this news update

"Secrets of Great Appellate Writing": That's the title of my contribution to the March 2016 edition of "Appellate Issues," a publication of the American Bar Association Judicial Division's Council of Appellate Lawyers

“I think I’m better at providing affordable housing than the government. I have a tenant in his 70s who pays me $189 a month, and the government pays the remaining $351.” So, he’s better at providing affordable housing than the government because the government subsidizes his tenant’s rent to make the apartment affordable I’m Not Evil. I’m a Landlord. New York Times
Modesty post

PLoS ONE 10(4): e0123355. Official announcements of tax authorities as well as media reports provide taxpayers with descriptions of their tax authority. The question arises how taxpayers respond to such information and whether different descriptions of a tax authority affect taxpayers` beliefs regarding tax authority’s power (coercive power or legitimate power), and most interestingly tax evasion.

Art and arson. Arshile Gorki, Robert Rauschenberg, Alfred Leslie, John Baldessari: Why do artists' studios so frequently go up in offalpine flames?

"Justices' junkets: Scalia's death at a Texas lodge spotlights a Supreme Court ethics question." USA Today has this editorial.

The Hollow State Politics: The Left Behinds vs. Technorati Global Guerrillas

"False Modesty: Why the Supreme Court Does Not Need Judicial Minimalism." Evan Bernick has this blog entry online today at The Huffington Post

“Our vicious little group was so competitive, always arguing over who was the first to coin a phrase or invent a joke. But does it even matter? Maybe Groucho said it first. Or maybe George Kaufman wrote it and Groucho just read it. Or perhaps Mr. Benchley said it first and I repeated it and Kaufman wrote it and Groucho made it famous. But who really cares? In the end, does any of it matter?” Dorothy Parker to Violet Epps, about the Algonguin Round Table group.

"Top name withdraws from Supreme Court consideration": Manu Raju, Kevin Liptak, and Ariane de Vogue of have a report that begins, "Adalberto Jordan, a federal judge in Miami seen as a top contender for the Supreme Court vacancy, has withdrawn his name from contention, a lawmaker told CNN on Wednesday."

Edward J. McCaffery (USC), The Meaning of Capital in the Twenty-First Century: America is on a path towards a level of both wealth and income inequality unparalleled in recorded history. Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century summarizes and conveys the work of Piketty and many co-authors, over many decades, looking at the structure of income and wealth inequality across many nations and centuries.

The New York Times is developing a new policy for anonymous sourcing

At first glance, it could have been mistaken for a joke. In an irony-drenched tweet, New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan announced that the Gray Lady is developing a new policy for anonymous attribution, citing newsroom sources "who asked to remain nameless to avoid career suicide." NYT sources, who asked to remain nameless to …

George Bernard Shaw quote – from an Italian restaurant 

"Sonia Sotomayor knows how to lead and when to follow": Abigale Svoboda of The Daily Illini, the student newspaper of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has this report.
Tim Mitchell of The News-Gazette of Champaign, Illinois has an article headlined "Sotomayor on Scalia: 'There is a loss, and you can feel it.'"
Peoria Public Radio reports that "Supreme Court Justice Speaks At U Of I Campus."
And The Associated Press has a report headlined "Sotomayor: Scalia like an annoying brother she misses."

U.S. Secret Service: Data Analyses Could Better Inform the Domestic Field Office Structure, GAO-16-288: Published: Feb 10, 2016. Publicly Released: Mar 11, 2016

He's either loved or hated for his work -- but from 9/11 to the Boston Marathon bombings, Ken Feinberg is the go-to name in managing disasters.

"Judge enters guilty plea in gun case, not in open court; Judge Henry Saad is accused of carrying a loaded handgun in his carry-on bag at Metro Airport": Eric D. Lawrence of The Detroit Free Press has this report.

Francis X. Donnelly and James David Dickson of The Detroit News report that "Appeals judge pleads to bringing handgun to airport."
And The Associated Press reports that "Michigan judge pleads guilty to having gun at airport."

Leo Shanahan, Business Spectator, 4/3/16.   Some of ANZ’s most senior traders have been caught allegedly manipulating the bank bill swap rate in recorded telephone calls and instant chat, demanding the interest rate be “set as high as f**kin’ possible.” ANZ chief risk officer Nigel Williams indicated the ASIC evidence was based on chat messages between ANZ traders.

Using data to drive business intelligence
Huffington Post, 10/2/16. A  Penn State study found that they could use Twitter data to predict the likelihood that someone would enrol on Obamacare, whilst another trawled social media to predict when someone might be tempted to join IS.
This kind of behavioural analysis has been available after Twitter opened up its data pipe to researchers via projects such as Gnip, which is an open source repository for social data.
The Pentagon’s secret pre-crime program to know your thoughts, predict your future

Mr Ford : Ultimately, we are working towards tax estimates on all taxes we administer. We already release an estimate in relation to GST. We do not break it down to say, 'This specific part relates to tobacco.' In terms of your question about the quantification, I think where we end up with tobacco is to say that there is X amount of consumption based on the work that we have undertaken—this is being overly simplistic, I need to say—we will try to work out the total amount of consumption that has occurred in the community; we will subtract from that the amount that we know has been cleared through Customs and ourselves; and the difference between the two would tell us how much has come from a market other than the legitimate market. If you think about the difficulties in trying to confirm total consumption, that is why we are working with a number of scientists et cetera to see how we can do thatPredicting illicit Tobacco Estimates

Beyond the Hype: The Hard Work Behind Analytics Success
MIT Sloan Management Review, March 2016. Few companies have a strategic plan for analytics or are executing a strategy for what they hope to achieve with analytics. Organizations achieving the greatest benefits from analytics ensure the right data is being captured, and blend information and experience in making decisions.
Corruption falters as investors, journalists and voters take action

Québécois comedian Mike Ward is already out $100,000 in legal fees after discovering how CHRC can stand for Crushes Humor, Ruins Comedy [Gavin McInnes, The Federalist]

Michelle Lyon Drumbl (Washington & Lee), Joint Winners, Separate Losers: Proposals To Ease the Sting for Married Taxpayers Filing Separately, 18 Fla. Tax Rev. ___ (2016):
A taxpayer who is “considered as married” according to the Internal Revenue Code’s definition must file either a joint income tax return or an individual return using the “married filing separately” filing status. Those married taxpayers who file a separate, rather than a joint, income tax return are denied valuable benefits and subjected to a host of other unfavorable limitations. Low-income taxpayers in particular are hurt by these limitations. Certain married taxpayers, including victims of domestic violence and abandoned spouses, may have no choice but to file using the married filing separately status. Low-income taxpayers in such situations could benefit tremendously from such benefits as the earned income credit as they begin to rebuild their lives, but they are denied it.

Newly discovered bacteria can eat plastic bottles Raw Story (furzy)

IBISWorld reveals Australia’s Top 1000 companies
7/3/16. Business analysts at IBISWorld have revealed a list of Australia’s Top 1000 companies, offering detailed and diverse insights into the nation’s most successful companies, growing and declining sectors, and new businesses to watch in 2016 and beyond