Monday, March 07, 2016

The More Things Change ...

INK BOTTLE“Compassion alone stands apart from the continuous traffic between good and evil proceeding within us.”
~ Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State Of Mind, and Other Aphorisms

You were kind; this is what I would have said at your funeral if I had trusted myself to say anything at all; such an old-fashioned virtue and yet.  You had a wisdom that you didn’t seem to have earned.  You watched the rest of us move and had patience for our faults, like a quiet deity.  Your own weaknesses were the only ones you could not forgive ...
~Bathroom quote

The [Da Vinci Code] author Dan Brown, is a character from Foucault’s Pendulum! I invented him. He shares my characters’ fascinations—the world conspiracy of Rosicrucians, Masons, and Jesuits. The role of the Knights Templar. The hermetic secret. The principle that everything is connected. I suspect Dan Brown might not even exist. – interview with the Paris Review in 2008

Symposium, The More Things Change ...: Exploring Solutions to Persisting Discrimination in Legal Academia Changing ...

“Five booksellers who disappeared from Hong Kong last year have re-surfaced in detention in mainland China. They appeared in interviews on TV in which they confessed to crimes and ‘mistakes’.” Public Radio International

World Square Shopping Centre in Sydney's CBD has reopened after a police investigation into how a man fell from the balcony of an 18th-floor apartment at the complex in the early hours of Monday morning World Square closed after man falls from apartment balcony (special top secret exercise)

“There is no such thing as a true story. I know this because my daughter insists I told her to put her dirty dishes in the sink when I know I told her to put them in the dishwasher.” Over at The RumpusEllen Urbani writes about telling the truth

The Economist, The Biggest Loophole of All: Having Launched and Led the Battle Against Offshore Tax Evasion, America Is Now Part of the Problem:
Devin Nunes raised eyebrows in 2013 when, as chairman of a congressional working group on tax, he urged reforms that would make America “the largest tax haven in human history”. Though he was thinking of America’s competitiveness rather than turning his country into a haven for dirty money, the words were surprising: America is better known for walloping tax-dodgers than welcoming them. Its assault on Swiss banks that aided tax evasion, launched in 2007, sparked a global revolution in financial transparency. Next year dozens of governments will start to exchange information on their banks’ clients automatically, rather than only when asked to. The tax-shy are being chased to the world’s farthest corners.
And yet something odd is happening: Mr Nunes’s wish may be coming true. America seems not to feel bound by the global rules being crafted as a result of its own war on tax-dodging. It is also failing to tackle the anonymous shell companies often used to hide money. The Tax Justice Network, a lobby group, calls the United States one of the world’s top three “secrecy jurisdictions”, behind Switzerland and Hong Kong. All this adds up to “another example of how the US has elevated exceptionalism to a constitutional principle,” says Richard Hay of Stikeman Elliott, a law firm. “Europe has been outfoxed.”
A Taxing Oscars: $232,000 Swag Bags (40% Increase Over Last Year's), Tax Incentives For Best Picture Nominees

The Link of Democratic Significance.  Ilya’s book, Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government is Smarter, argues we pay a heavy price for democratic ignorance.  In this symposium, a variety of academics dissent from his argument.  Thomas Christiano’s piece for instance is entitled “Voter Ignorance is Not Necessarily a Problem,” here is one bit:
The second [premise of Somin] is that voter ignorance betokens bad public policy. But there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. How can this be the case? One explanation is that individually ignorant voters are small pieces of a large system that divides intellectual labor through discussions among elites, opinion leaders, and ordinary citizens. This system may entitle voters to trust in the opinions of others, sparing them the need to be well informed.
Here is Benjamin Page:
Ilya Somin’s Democracy and Political Ignorance suffers from the fallacy of composition: It uses individual-level evidence about political behavior to draw inferences about the preferences and actions of the public as a whole. But collective public opinion is more stable, consistent, coherent, and responsive to the best available information, and more reflective of citizens’ underlying values and interests, than are the opinions of most individual citizens.

Stasi tactics: facebook friends sleeping patterns tracked through messenger 

Chronic stress really does spread cancer in the body

Fusion announced the first class of fellows in the Rise Up: Be Heardfellowship program on Wednesday. The 14 fellows are both journalists and community activists who will be mentored by Fusion journalists and execs in a six-month program. Their reporting will focus on a number of issues around social justice, including homelessness, health care for undocumented immigrants and income inequality.Fusion wants to help young journalists and activists rise up and be heard

Mens rea: “The American Civil Liberties Union has discovered yet another civil liberty it isn’t interested in defending” [Robby Soave/Reason, Scott Greenfield]

Speaking of lack of mens rea: accidentally damaging a lamp in a federal government building in D.C. could send you to jail for 6 months [40 USC §8103(b)(4)(more) via @CrimeADay]
little bird links
A lot can happen on the internet over the course of a day, but it's amazing what happens each minute
15 things that happen on the internet every minute

Failing to embrace tech like mobile payments now will leave companies playing catch-up to early adopters over the long term
The five key technology trends businesses must embrace to stay ahead
The men who built Hollywood. They made millions, created scandals, and, for the most part, ruined their kids. A story of children and childish adults ... 

The federal seat-belt-law mandate was the result of a 1980s deal between Reagan-era Transportation secretary Elizabeth Dole (proof, long before Mayor Bloomberg, that nanny-statetendencies transcend partisan labels) and Detroit automakers, who calculated that regulating their customers would help stave off regulating their own design decisions. And now? Less individual liberty, more scope for police discretion, and in some states a taste for revenue: “In California, a single seat-belt violation can be as much as $490.” [Radley Balko] Earlier on mandatory seat belt usage laws herehere (“saturation detail” police stops), here, etc. (“doggie seat belt” laws), here (Germany: Pope in Popemobile), here, and here(England: Santa’s sleigh), among others.

CSIRO et al This report examines plausible futures for jobs and employment markets in Australia over the coming twenty years Tomorrow's Digitally Enabled Workforce

Facebook gets more from HMRC for adverts than it pays in tax 

The Australian FinTech Ecosystem’s Growth is Breathtaking
Timelio, 8/1/16. An example of the impressively emerging Australian FinTech sector is the fact that 14% of more than a billion dollar raised by FinTech around the world in December 2015 were raised by Australian FinTech startups. Australia has the third-biggest fund-management industry in the world, according to WSJ.

Scientists in Singapore have come up with a computer chip that could be used to make new kinds of surveillance robots that capture detailed images from kilometres away This tiny chip could make new city surveillance robots possible

  • “Drunk with power — how Prohibition led to big government” [Julia Vitullo-Martin, New York Post reviewing Lisa McGirr, The War On Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State]
"They wanted to go to Sydney, and they never made it. But they have the prime view of Sydney," Dr Steding told about 25 forensic science students from Swinburne Online who are doing fieldwork at the site. A View of Sudney Worth Dying For ...
Cognitive Reality and the Administration of JusticeKen Strutin writes in his latest article as follows, “science has much to say about how individual behavior and group wide phenomena influence the core issues of criminal justice. From self-incrimination to self-representation, from prosecuting to judging, from trial to punishment the law recognizes that there are subtle psychologics at work. Indeed, there is one long continuum of cognitive realities that pervade every precinct of criminal justice. And now, scientific study and legal scholarship has uncovered hidden biases in the deliberations of justice as well as overt barriers to cognitive functioning associated with confinement. This article is a collection of research into the cognitive nature of criminal justice participants, the constraints of confinement, and the administration of justice.”

Cynicism, romance, reality, grit: the private eye. His ambivalent appeal – a good person forced into dirty work – inspired an exacting literary style