Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The Golden Age of White Collar Crime 

"High Tatra Mountaintops inspire leaders but Kangaroo valleys mature them.” 
– Winston Churchill misquoted

The Golden Age of White Collar Crime HuffPost 

China Will Use Its Digital Currency To Compete With The USD Forbes (Kevin W). *Sigh*. The way to become a reserve currency is 1. Run persistent trade deficits so your currency is held by parties outside your country and 2. Give them some OK places to park your currency besides cash. The US has Treasuries and other government guaranteed bonds, a well-regulated stock market for those who like to walk on the wilder side, as well as (until recently) cities with good airport access plus shopping, restaurants, museums and other attractions so that foreigners holding US currency might park it in US residential real estate

 They should have said: No Minister

One of the worst aspects of the sports rorts affair is the way elements of the public service turned a deliberate blind eye to what was known, or assumed, to be a failure by the Minister to be bound by the requirements of the law governing the way the grants could be approved. Continue reading 

ICAC wants charges laid over 'ghost guard' scam

Prosecutors should consider charging a former police officer and five others involved in the University of Sydney "ghost guard" work scam, the NSW corruption watchdog says.

I think that the tweet referred to in this clip too important not to note:

Rumour has the tweet was a mistake, being sent to the wrong account by whoever wrote it.
And yet the sentiment was, I am sure, genuine and shared widely.
Worse, no doubt there will be an enquiry to identify who did this, but there will not be about Cummings.

Advice was given that a generic online form should be used to contact PM’s office, highlighting flaws in corruption reporting regime

If we want to narrow the North-South divide that threatens our world, some limits on tax competition are inevitable. The world faces a crucial choice in the 2020s. We can either continue retreating from globalization in favor of xenophobic nationalism, tariffs, immigration restrictions, and exchange controls. That road leads ultimately to war, as it did in the 1930s. Or we can revive globalization by investing in a robust social safety net, infrastructure, education, and job creation.

 Vox – A former State Department watchdog on what they do — and why they matter.Late Friday night [May 16, 2020], President Donald Trump fired State Department Inspector General Steve Linick. It was the fourth abrupt dismissal of an inspector general in about as many weeks, and the latest case in which Trump claimed he’d lost confidence in the IG when it very much seemed like something else was going on. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed recommending that Trump fire Linick. That’s an important detail, because it seems Linick — who, as inspector general, was in charge of oversight at the State Department — might have been zeroing in on Pompeo himself, including the secretary’s alleged use of a political appointee to run his personal errands. Linick was also reportedly probing the administration’s $8 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, which sidestepped Congress. Congressional Democrats are now investigating Linick’s firing. But Linick is not the first IG to go. In April, Trump fired Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community’s inspector general, who had brought forward a credible whistleblower report about the president’s inappropriate phone call with the Ukrainian president that ultimately led to Trump’s impeachment. Trump had “lost confidence” in Atkinson, too. Earlier this month, Trump also moved to replace the acting inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services, who had written a report highlighting shortages of personal protective equipment and coronavirus tests in US hospitals, which Trump called “wrong.” And Trump replaced the acting Defense Department inspector general, who’d been tasked with overseeing the $2 trillion in funds from the coronavirus stimulus package, making him ineligible to oversee pandemic spending. Trump’s purge of inspectors general is unprecedented. But his ire for these internal watchdogs is not…”

Scott Morrison takes aim at Australia's industrial relations system, reaches out to business and unions

Twitter Bots Are Spreading Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories Rolling Stone 

Why Do Food Delivery Companies Lose Money? Josh Barro, New York Magazine. It is enormously frustrating to see economists act like ants pushing grains of rice around until they manage to stumble across a hole for it to fall into. Hubert Horan explained this all years ago with respect to Uber, and did a similar kneecapping of various app-based local transportation product extensions. It’s really not that hard to look at the economics of delivery and see that adding an app adds zero or even potentially negative improvements in production costs (due to moar overheads) but no one ex Hubert seemed willing to do the work.

The Time Is Ripe for More SocialismNathan J. Robinson, Newsweek (!).

2. — Home building, simplified.

3. Short essay on how an ex-CDC person sees things.  From my point of view off base, but fascinating in any case and of course you should read that side of the story.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

We do not need magic to change the World

"We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.” 
– J.K. Rowling an occasional reader of blogs who comes across  MEdia Dragon once in a while ;-)

The German theologian Martin Luther died in 1546. A biographical work published in London in 1846 attributed the following words to him: 

If I had my time to go over again, I would make my sermons much shorter, for I am conscious they have been too wordy.

  1. Didn't have an hour to watch the PM's speech? Catch up on the key points here

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison outlines the first steps in what he's calling a JobMaker plan. Catch up on the key points from his National Press Club address here.

If I had my time to go over again, I would make my sermons much shorter, for I am conscious they have been too wordy.

What makes this photo so amazing is that it looks so ordinary. The man in the shorts waiting in line in this shop in Portugal is the President

ALEX MITCHELL. Don Harwin becomes cactus

In the halcyon days of the NSW Liberal Party’s ascendancy, Don Harwin was a fast-rising star. Then he hit a wall and fell from being one of State’s most powerful Liberal Ministers to the lowly status of an unloved backbencher. How and why? (Only Barry O'Farrell knows) Continue reading  

Time to abolish the spies?

Planned expansion of the powers of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) should alarm anyone who believes in democratic values and rule of law. 

When he was a kid, Rob Kenney had a rough family life and grew up without stable parents around to teach him how to do common household chores. He and his wife successfully raised two children and Kenney decided to use his parenting experience to help those who may be lacking parental guidance. He’s started a YouTube channel called “Dad, how do I?” that offers “practical ‘dadvice’ for every day tasks” like how to fix a running toilet, how to check the oil in your car, and how to shave your face.

Everyone wants a glimpse of the post-Covid world, so the public square is thick with prophets. Ignore them  

       They've announced the shortlists for this year's Orwell Prizes, including the award for political fiction; finalists for that include Booker Prize-co-winner Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo, Pulitzer Prize-winner The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead, and Lucy Ellmann's Ducks, Newburyport. 
       The winners will be announced 25 June. 

This lovely short film by Cristóbal Vila shows how the simple Fibonacci sequence manifests itself in natural forms like sunflowers, nautilus shells, and dragonfly wings.

See also Arthur Benjamin’s TED Talk on the Fibonacci numbers and the golden ratio and the Fibonacci Shelf
ABC’s four-episode 1994 The Stand miniseries was directed by Mick Garris and featured an all-star ’90s cast, with Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald, Jamey Sheridan, Laura San Giacomo, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis, Miguel Ferrer, Matt Frewer, Rob Lowe, and even NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabar appearing in the project. It was well-received by viewers, bringing in an average of 19 million viewers per episode, and received two Primetime Emmy Awards, but after 26 years (and as with many early screen adaptations of King’s works), the series hasn’t really aged well.

Slate – We should take comfort in hating this. “…My internal alien has identified the lack of normal eye contact as one central pitfall of the video-chat experience. Talk to someone over FaceTime or Zoom, and they’ll never quite meet your eyes. They’ll spend the call looking at their screen, a few inches below or to the side of their camera, giving you the perpetual feeling of trying to get the attention of someone who’s ever so slightly preoccupied. Once, on a Skype call many years ago, a friend looked directly into her camera to say something heartfelt to me with the approximation of true eye contact. The effect was jarring: I didn’t fully realize that we hadn’t been making eye contact until she was suddenly staring straight into my soul from inside my screen. She was gazing at her computer’s eye, not mine, and could actually see less of my face than when she was looking at her screen, yet I felt strangely, uncomfortably exposed. When I recently tried it on a video call with my niece and nephew in an attempt to make them laugh, it gave me the unsettling impression of carrying on a conversation with HAL 9000, who’d been watching me watch the kids throughout our call. (FaceTime, perhaps even more eerily, has a new feature that attempts “eye contact correction” to make it appear you’re looking directly at each other, even when you’re not.)…”

BuzzFeedNews: A quarantine reading list courtesy of Glennon Doyle, Veronica Roth, Julia Alvarez, and more. ” Powell’s Books recently asked some of its favorite authors to share which books they’re reading and recommending during quarantine. Here’s what they had to say…”

 These websites take different routes to suggest books to read

In less than a week, a grad student casually solved a famous math problem that had gone unsolved for decades. When she told her advisor: "He started yelling, 'Why aren't you more excited?'"

77 Nobel Laureates Denounce Trump Officials For Pulling Coronavirus Research Grant NPR (NPR)

REASON MAGAZINE WRITERS CAN NOW RETURN TO THE OFFICE: Scientists believe cannabis could help prevent and treat coronavirus.