Monday, November 30, 2020

Leopold Aschenbrenner is now blogging

 Leopold Aschenbrenner is now blogging

WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW:  Physicists could do the ‘impossible’: Create and destroy magnetic fields from afar

Don’t tar all our soldiers with the same brush

War in all its forms is awful, so let’s support those who conduct it on our behalf and, when they come back, go easy on them. They were only doing our bidding.
Continue reading 

Fast Company – The vaccines ‘do not show that they prevent you from potentially carrying this virus . . . and infecting others.’…The problem is, it is yet unknown if any of the three vaccines—including Moderna’s—will make the transmission of the virus from a vaccinated person to an unvaccinated person impossible. Or, to put it another way, it’s possible that even vaccinated people will be able to still infect unvaccinated people with COVID-19. As Zaks told Axios, while Moderna’s and other’s vaccines do appear to prevent people from getting “severely sick” from COVID-19, “[t]hey do not show that they prevent you from potentially carrying this virus . . . and infecting others.”

Fish save energy by swimming in schools Physics World

Squirrel gets drunk after eating fermented pears outside Minnesota woman’s home FOX9

A billion people have no legal identity – but a new app plans to change that World Economic Forum

Cash in the time of Covid Bank of England

Google ordered to hand over emails in £453m divorce battle FT

German watchdog reports EY to prosecutors over Wirecard audit FT 

Tax avoidance is real, and not the same as tax evasion

 AI to sum up research papers in a sentence

Atlas of Surveillance: Documenting Police Tech in Our Communities EFF

Privacy campaigner flags concerns about Microsoft’s creepy Productivity Score The Register

Microsoft productivity score feature criticised as workplace surveillance - The Guardian – “Microsoft has been criticised for enabling “workplace surveillance” after privacy campaigners warned that the company’s “productivity score” feature allows managers to use Microsoft 365 to track their employees’ activity at an individual level. The tools, first released in 2019, are designed to “provide you visibility into how your organisation works”, according to a Microsoft blogpost, and aggregate information about everything from email use to network connectivity into a headline percentage for office productivity. But by default, reports also let managers drill down into data on individual employees, to find those who participate less in group chat conversations, send fewer emails, or fail to collaborate in shared documents…”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said pork barreling was not illegal and was "unfortunately" common practice.

The New Money Trust: How Large Money Managers Control Our Economy and What We Can Do About It American Economic Liberties Project

A Long-Forgotten CIA Document From WikiLeaks Sheds Critical Light on Today’s U.S. Politics and Wars Glenn Greenwald 

How the US Used Disinformation and the ‘Jakarta Method’ to Change the World CNN

Tax avoidance is real, and not the same as tax evasion

Posted on November 24 2020

Richard Brooks of Private Eye is chair of Tax Watch UK, and he has written to me this morning saying that the characterisation I have
Read the full article…

New York Times, Trump Tax Write-Offs Are Ensnared in 2 New York Fraud Investigations:

Two separate New York State fraud investigations into President Trump and his businesses, one criminal and one civil, have expanded to include tax write-offs on millions of dollars in consulting fees, some of which appear to have gone to Ivanka Trump, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The inquiries — a criminal investigation by the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., and a civil one by the state attorney general, Letitia James — are being conducted independently. But both offices issued subpoenas to the Trump Organization in recent weeks for records related to the fees, the people said.

Emily Cauble (DePaul), Presumptions of Tax Motivation, 105 Iowa L. Rev. 1995 (2020):

Rebuttable presumptions are scattered throughout the Internal Revenue Code and the Treasury Regulations. In many cases, they are employed in service of determining a taxpayer’s motive or state of mind. 

Kirk J. Stark (UCLA), The Power Not to Tax, 69 Am. U. L. Rev. 565 (2019):

Among the most controversial changes in federal tax policy in recent years is the new limitation on the deductibility of state and local taxes—or SALT cap. Introduced as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the SALT cap differentially burdens residents of high-tax “blue states,” prompting some lawmakers to characterize the cap as an act of “economic civil war.” In one of the opening salvos of this “war,” a handful of blue states turned to alternative devices for raising revenue through the use of tax credits for charitable donations to state-designated funds. This strategy, modeled on long-standing “red state” tax credits used to fund private school vouchers, is rooted in the government’s “power not to tax,” understood here as the power to conditionally refrain from imposing taxes in exchange for the taxpayer making some legislatively sanctioned outlay. The introduction of the SALT cap has given new significance to this power not to tax, encouraging state and local lawmakers to devise strategies for funding public goods without utilizing formal tax mechanisms. This Article explores and evaluates the structural features of the law that account for this new state of affairs, as well as the ongoing controversy regarding how best to address the basic discontinuity in the law’s treatment of formal taxation versus conditional reductions in taxation.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

As ‘Queen’s Gambit’ Shows, The Stories We Choose To Tell Can Change Lives



Parts of Sydney tip 40 degrees as heatwave descends across NSW

Michael Watson began his career in the camera department and worked his way up – and his job in HBO’s Lovecraft Countrywasn’t easy. “On a visual level, [it is] a really fascinating show that offers a lot of different creative challenges. It’s a period piece. It actually takes place in many different periods, but none of them are the present day. And it’s playing around with a lot of genres … like classic horror and H.P. Lovecraft and science fiction. I mean, there’s even a role playing game style dungeon crawl in one episode.” – Slate

As ‘Queen’s Gambit’ Shows, The Stories We Choose To Tell Can Change Lives

Chess sets are sold out all over the United States, and little kids (and adults) of all genders are suddenly very, very into chess. What if Queen’s Gambit had been the rage 50 years ago, instead of, or alongside of, stories about Bobby Fischer? – Los Angeles Times

Book Sales Soar In Australia During COVID

While business is booming for online booksellers – Booktopia reported a 28% increase in sales in the 2020 financial year, driven substantially by Covid lockdowns – bricks and mortar stores have had an uneven year. – The Guardian

Murdoch’s News Corp. Bids To Buy Iconic Simon & Schuster

The powerhouse publisher was put up for sale by its owner, ViacomCBS, in March, and the company has since fielded more than half a dozen inquiries, according to three people familiar with the process who declined to be named because the matter remains confidential. – The New York Times

Poet Souvankham Thammavongsa Wins 2020 Giller Prize

Born in the Lao refugee camp in Nong Khai, Thailand, and raised in Toronto, Thammavongsa has earned acclaim for her four poetry books and her writing has been featured in publications including Harper’s Magazine, the Paris Review and The Atlantic. – CBC

700 Pages, 120 Characters, One Actor Reading The Audiobook

“Around 90% of [William Gaddis’s] JR is in unattributed dialogue, with only dashes and ellipses to indicate when a character starts and stops speaking or, more accurately, is interrupted. [The novel] is a teeming operatic racket, an anarchic satire of US capitalism where the flailing voices of more than 120 characters – plus snatches of adverts, news bulletins and TV broadcasts – bellow over one other.” Actor Nick Sullivan’s 37-hour reading of JR has attracted a fanbase in the nine years since it was released, and he calls it “the most rewarding narration job I have ever had.” – The Guardian

NYC Pub Borrows a Page From Leftists in Lockdown Dispute

Pioneering MEdia Dragons 🐉 🐉


Spreading Like Wildfire: Luther’s Network and the Early Reformation

How did Martin Luther’s message spread so quickly? 

DON’T OPEN THEM AT LEAST UNTIL 2020 IS OVER:  Egypt Has Unearthed 160 Ancient Coffins Since September. Some Were Sealed With a ‘Curse.’

STRONGER, BUT LESS VERSATILE: Neanderthals’ thumbs were well-suited to ‘squeeze,’ study says. “The paper, published Thursday in Scientific Reports, said Neanderthals were well-adapted to grip tools the way we grab hammers — but would have struggled to hold a pencil or shake hands with someone else.”

Kitten saved from cat-astrophe after car engine rescue RTE

Scientists accidentally discover Australian marsupials glow in the dark CNET 

Surprise discovery of rare plant at Norfolk ‘ghost pond’ BBC 

Fugging hell: tired of mockery, Austrian village changes name Guardian 

Missing ingredient for life finally found on a cometNew Atlas 

Huge Reservoir of Fresh Water Found Beneath the Sea Off Hawaii New Scientist

The Great American Essays


The psychological benefits of writing by hand / Fast Company – “For those of us who spend most days in front of a computer, writing by hand can have refreshing benefits…When you write by hand, you write more thoughtfully. Such mindful writing rests the brain, unlocking potential creativity, saysneuroscientist Claudia Aguirre. “Recent neuroscientific research has uncovered a distinct neural pathway that is only activated when we physically draw out our letters,” she writes. “And this pathway, etched deep with practice, is linked to our overall success in learning and memory.”

The ‘School of Embodiment’: This Is How To Do Good Sex Writing

“[Garth Greenwell] is, a practitioner, with [Lidia] Yuknavitch and a few others, of what we might call the School of Embodiment: a kind of close tracking of sensation and response that we typically assign to poets or sensory neurologists. This doesn’t mean that work by these writers is stylistically similar, only that it seeks meaning in and through the body.” – The Point

Why Are Contemporary Writers Obsessed With Self-Awareness?

Critics—and the authors they cover—seem to be obsessed with self-awareness. Writing about oneself isn’t new at all, but what’s current (and quickly growing stale) is the overtly self-conscious way contemporary writers have chosen to go about it. – The Nation

The Great American Essays

“We’re going through a particularly rich time for American essays: especially compared to, 20 years ago, when editors wouldn’t even dare put the word “essays” on the cover, but kept trying to package these variegated assortments as single-theme discourses, we’ve seen many collections that have been commercially successful and attracted considerable critical attention.” – LitHub

 'Smart People" Review: Prisoners of Their Politics

What makes “Smart People” more than just a brilliant hatchet job is that Ms. Diamond clearly feels for her characters, who are imprisoned by the stereotypes they embody. They are—so to speak—human beings beneath the skin, and none of them are happy with their privileged lives, least of all Ginny, whose ambition to get ahead is so powerful that it has cut her off from the ordinary pleasures of human existence: “I don’t do girlfriend well. I’ve never actually done girlfriend.”


Why Did President Obama’s First Memoir Take So Long To Write?

The 44th president’s memoir was indeed much longer than he originally planned, and this is only volume one. “He writes in a very classic way. … He sits down with a pen and pad.” And that’s another way he differs from many former presidents: Obama writes his own books. – The New York Times

In the Scottish village of Newburgh, the Christmas lights hung up around town were designed from drawings done by local schoolchildren. Poppy McKenzie Smith shared some of the displays on Twitter.

Reply from Authors of “To Save the Economy, Save People First” Regarding “Lockdowns Work”

More on lockdowns as a core response to community spread of Covid-19

When milkweed leaves are scarce, hungry caterpillar get angry

NEWS YOU CAN USE:  Self Defense and Your Vehicle.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Economy of favors

 “To me, Tolstoy and Melville are giants, towering above almost everyone else in literature—when facing Anna Karenina, War and Peace, or Moby Dick, I’m overwhelmed, I’m in awe of their genius. When I see a reader express not only dislike but also disdain towards them, part of me is amused—these books need no defence. But at the same time, I’m appalled at the arrogance.”

Like humility, awe is sparsely distributed among readers and other humans.

Beachgoers flocked to Bondi yesterday at the start of an extremely hot weekend in Sydney.

1959 Porsche Emory Outlaw Coupe | Image

1959 Porsche Emory Outlaw Coupe | Image 1959 Porsche Emory Outlaw Coupe

We all know those unhappy souls who work hard to be thought of as comedians. Every family, every workplace, has one. 

Some words look like typos. Phlegm is one. Similarly, apothegm. Both appear to be missing vowels, and I always double-check the spelling. In the second stanza of “January” (1894) by Robert Bridges I found another faux-typo

An “economy of favors.” Poetry prizes suffer from reciprocity: judges give awards to those who have given them  Awards  

Some Of The Many Books That Helped Us Cope In 2020

Mysteries, children’s books, nonfiction, romance, books about race and racism, and so much more – along with an awful lot of screentime and chill, it’s how we coped with this, OK, yes, unprecendented year. – Washington Post

Zebra finches amazing at unmasking the bird behind the song ScienceDaily 

Humans get sick diving in the ocean, but here’s why dolphins don’t Inverse 

The Botanist Daring to Ask: What If Plants Have Personalities? Bloomberg 

Remote Islands Will Be One of the Largest Wildlife Sanctuaries in the World MyModernMet 

Utah helicopter crew discovers mysterious metal monolith deep in the desert CNN 

Can’t Travel, Can’t Go To Concerts, But This Irish Cellist On YouTube Is Bringing The Joy

Like many musicians, Irish cellist Patrick Dexter decided to post performances to YouTube during Irish lockdown. He thought, well, what the heck, now I have time to play music outside for other people. “The open-air recitals, shot outside his picturesque cottage in Mayo on the rural west coast, have been viewed millions of times.” – BBC

As If to Demonstrate an Eclipse: Comedian Chuck Nice Reads Billy Collins’s Ode to the Quiet Wellspring of Gratitude

…with a funny and poignant meditation on the personal gravity of gratitude and why being grateful is “one of the most powerful things that any one person can do.”

As If to Demonstrate an Eclipse: Comedian Chuck Nice Reads Billy Collins’s Ode to the Quiet Wellspring of Gratitude

“I am grateful, not in order that my neighbour, provoked by the earlier act of kindness, may be more ready to benefit me, but simply in order that I may perform a most pleasant and beautiful act,” Seneca wrote two millennia ago as he contemplated gratitude and what it means to be a generous human being.