Attention Supreme Court Justices

Attention liberal justices worried about Trump.

Attention conservative justices who don’t want to see the Second Amendment eviscerated.

My earlier prediction here is looking increasingly correct. Your choice in the upcoming matter of Trump’s executive order is if you really want to set an extremely dangerous precedent, one likely to turn the USA into a full dictatorship in a decade or less, or not. Please rule accordingly.

Meet the Candidates

Mr. Establishment (a.k.a. Joe Biden) is, well, Mr. Establishment. That’s not the sort of person I want. Yes, I realize whomever the Dems nominate is, is going to be nauseatingly pro-Establishment to me. I’m an anarchist, after all. Of course, anarchists are not even 1% of the US population, so I’m not a very representative voter. But the success of Trump and Sanders in 2016 shows there’s lots of pissed voters sick of the Establishment out there. So color me skeptical about Mr. Establishment’s electoral viability.

Phony Baloney (a.k.a. Pete Buttigieg) is not as overtly a creature of the Establishment as Mr. Establishment, but if you look at his campaign material, or his autobiography, it’s very hard to find evidence of him actually standing for anything of consequence. It’s all platitudes and no policy with this one.

The Schoolmarm (a.k.a. Elizabeth Warren) has some of the best policy proposals one could expect from a Democrat (and plenty of them, in refreshing contrast to Phony Baloney), but do voters really want to be lectured to by The Schoolmarm? Is that a winning sales strategy (and that’s really the vibe she tends to put out, sorry, Schoolmarm fans)? I think not.

The Mummy (a.k.a. Bernie Sanders) may look dead, but he’s apparently still alive and taking another crack at the presidency, despite being almost an octogenarian. Yes, his policies are about as good as The Schoolmarm’s, but for some reason he’s never been able to get much support from African-Americans, despite having a pretty damn good record on racial equality (going way back to his college days when he led sit-ins to protest racist housing policies in Chicago). (But hey, if people chose their candidates rationally, Trump wouldn’t have gotten within a hundred miles of the White House.) Worse, The Mummy has spent years tweaking the noses of the Democratic Party Establishment. Yes, they deserved it. But they don’t think they deserved it, and they would rather have Trump be a two-term president than to see their old nemesis in the Oval Office. They’re that spiteful. I doubt a candidate with two big strikes against him can prevail in November of next year.

So, of the above, who actually would have the best chance of winning against Trump? Phony Baloney might be that person. The most important thing in politics is authenticity, and if you can fake that (and Phony Baloney sure can), you’ve got it made. Mind you, he’ll be better than Trump. Also mind you, “better than Trump” is the mother of faint praise.

It’s Establishment politics, after all. You were expecting, perhaps, something other than a sack of shit from it?

Assange and Wikileaks Worked for the Trump Campaign

The Mueller report makes that crystal-clear. Wikileaks directly communicated with Donald Trump, Jr. and deliberately timed its releases to benefit its preferred candidate.

Wikileaks also worked to actively deny that the GRU, Russia’s state intelligence agency, was the ultimate source of the information being passed on to them by “DC Leaks” and “Guccifer 2.0” (two sources later shown to be GRU pseudonyms).

Whether or not Wikileaks knew that Guccifer 2.0 and DC Leaks were the GRU is a different story. I have found no definitive evidence for this proposition in the report, though it’s a lengthy document and thus entirely possible my searching has missed something.

I will note, however, that Wikileaks has to the best of my knowledge never leaked damning inside information on the Russian state. Curious, isn’t it, that a self-professed “transparency” organization is so uninterested in blowing the whistle on a secretive, right-wing dictatorship yet at the same time is so persistently interested in blowing it on more open and free societies?

Just makes one wonder.

So, the Report is Out

And it has some pretty bad stuff in it. Remember, this is the redacted report, and the redaction was done by an Attorney General who was appointed because he believes Dear Leader can do no wrong.

It is a common censorship technique to deliberately include some bad stuff about your own side in a censored document. This lets those consuming the censored news believe they are getting both sides of the story, enabling the censorship to ultimately be more effective than that which excludes all unfavorable information.

Keep that in mind over the coming days.

On the “Threat” of G5

I started writing a long rant on this, but I just don’t have the time to do something super-comprehensive. Hence this shorter, less-comprehensive rant.

Suffice it to say that the professed concern about radiation from G5 cellular networks has all the hallmarks of pseudoscience. Radiation is harmful primarily if it is what is called ionizing radiation, and radio frequencies are so far from being ionizing that it’s not even funny. (Radio waves are some of the longest, lowest-frequency electromagnetic waves around; it is the shortest, highest-frequency waves that are ionizing.)

Because of how radiation-induced ionization works at the quantum level, you simply must have waves of a sufficiently high frequency to get ionization. The quanta of electromagnetic energy, photons, have an energy value proportional to their frequency, and ionization happens when a single photon interacts with a single electron. So low-energy, non-ionizing photons simply can’t ionize things, no matter how many of them you have. Physicists have amassed over 100 years of evidence which testifies to this fact.

Sure, there could theoretically be something as of yet undiscovered that makes non-ionizing radiation harmful, but so far there really isn’t much evidence in favor of this. Moreover, most of the alarmist propaganda about G5 is obviously written by those ignorant of the basic physics of electromagnetic radiation, given how much it confuses ionizing and non-ionizing radiation.

By far, the man-made non-ionizing radiation most harmful to life is… visible light from various forms of electric lighting! It’s known to have an adverse impact on many animal and plant species, including us humans, whose circadian rhythms it is prone to disrupt. But you don’t hear much concern about that, because visible light is a normal, everyday phenomenon. It’s less mysterious than radio waves, which lend themselves much better to unscientific fear-mongering by and for the gullible.

On top of that, the G5 fear-mongering I’ve run across is without exception about the base stations. None of it is about radiation from consumer handsets, and that is responsible for subjecting people to by far the strongest fields, for the simple reason your phone’s transmitter is so much physically closer to you than the transmitter on the cell tower. Again, your own phone is a familiar everyday object, making it harder to engage in fear-mongering about.

In other words, all available evidence points to the whole thing being driven by emotion and ignorance, not science. Mind you, I’m certainly open to a science-based critique of G5 technology from a health and safety standpoint. It’s just that so far, I haven’t seen one.

Frum: Dead Wrong on Immigration

In a provocatively-titled article published in this month’s Atlantic, David Frum (himself am immigrant to the USA) claims that “If Liberals Won’t Enforce Borders, Fascists Will.”

He points out (correctly) that the current level of immigration in the USA is historically high, then starts using lots of rhetorical hand-waving to imply that this is certain to cause all sorts of problems and resulting discontent in the voting public. And then, if liberals refuse to clamp down on the immigration, the scenario in the article’s title will presumably play out.

The problem with Frum’s contention is, what statistical evidence there is doesn’t precisely support the presumptions of his hand-waving very well. (That probably explains why hand-waving and not hard evidence is used in his article.) In fact, what evidence there is directly contradicts most of Frum’s assertions.

The Cato Institute recently published an article showing that public support for more immigration has actually increased since a fascist administration (and yes, Trump, is a fascist) took office in the USA. Actually, it’s been increasing since the mid-1990’s. Then, roughly 65% wanted immigration to be decreased. Now only about 30% do.

That’s right, roughly 70% want immigration kept the same or increased. And that’s after a decade of high levels of immigration! In a country with a fascist president who uses his bully pulpit to regularly promote xenophobia! There is, simply put, no evidence of growing public support for reducing immigration.

And let’s consider who tends to support restricting immigration? Republicans, that’s who. Where do Republicans tend to live? Away from the big cities. Likewise, Democrats (who support continued or increased immigration) tend to live in or near big cities. Where do immigrants tend to live? Also in or near big cities. That’s right, those who live near immigrants tend to view immigration in a positive light. Exactly the opposite situation one would expect if the mere presence of immigrants produced unease about immigration.

This goes for the border wall, too. The closer a person lives to the US/Mexico border, the less likely he or she is to support building Trump’s wall.

Finally, the Pew Research Center has done comparative surveys on immigration in multiple countries. Here’s the most recent one. Note that, compared to the world as a whole:

  • Americans are more likely to believe immigrants are a source of national strength.
  • Americans are less likely to associate immigrants with crime.
  • Americans are less likely to associate immigrants with terrorism.
  • Americans are less likely to support the deportation of illegal immigrants.

In short, there’s simply not much evidence in favor of Frum’s contention.

Quite the contrary, I would say. Support for fascism in the USA comes primarily from rural right-wingers who have little or no regular interaction with immigrants. Simply put, they fear that which they don’t know.

Newly-naturalized citizens naturally see such fascist proclivities as personal threats and as such oppose them. Therefore, increasing the number of immigrant voters will improve the quality of the electorate, by increasing the fraction of it that has a profound revulsion to fascist politics.

And it’s not just the situation on the electoral battlefield that will be helped by the presence of more immigrants. The electoral battle itself will tend to be less fought and more conceded in the pro-immigration, pro-diversity direction. Remember, the mere presence of immigrants tends to cause a more positive attitude towards immigrants.

“You’re promoting immigration because you want to destroy America,” the fascists say. And on this one, they are right; or rather, we should act in ways that make this accusation correct. When fascists say “America” they are referring not to what actually is but their fascist vision of what they believe it ought to be. That vision is evil and should be destroyed.

Politics is war by other means. Fight it. Support continued and even increased immigration.

The 737 Max Scandal

I was going to make a long post of my own about it, but Vox just preempted me. Executive summary (I encourage you to read the Vox article):

  1. Boeing found themselves painted into a corner by decades-old design decisions whose consequences they couldn’t have foreseen.
  2. Basically, it was not possible to easily and quickly make a safe aircraft that was more fuel efficient, to compete with the new Airbus A320neo.
  3. Boeing should have sucked it up and taken the loss involved in playing catch-up with Airbus.
  4. Instead, they decided to bolt new, more efficient engines on the existing 737 airframe (even though they didn’t really fit) and christen the result the 737 Max.
  5. The new planes had kludges installed (sensors and software) in an attempt to paper over their fundamental unairworthiness.
  6. A corrupt relationship with the FAA allowed the kludged-up planes to be approved and sold.
  7. The inevitable happens.

Really, it should come as a surprise to absolutely nobody that a plane that substitutes good engineering practices based on the laws of physics operating in the real world, for software operating in cyberspace, ends up sometimes startling and surprising pilots, sometimes with tragic results. It should also come as no surprise that said software has bugs, also sometimes with tragic results.

The most important overall rule of software development is that it’s extremely difficult to get right. As someone who’s worked in that field, I know this by first-hand experience.

Bad Advice from Rick Wilson

In a recent New York Daily News opinion piece, Rick Wilson claims:

That’s why the Democrats have two options for the 2020 presidental race: Make the race a referendum on Trump and Trumpism, or lose.

No. No those are not the two choices the Democrats face. This is not even remotely true.

The Democrats already have had an election where they campaigned as a referendum on Trump and Trumpism: the 2016 presidential election. That was most of Hillary Clinton’s platform: being the Not Trump candidate. And we all know how well that worked out.

Moreover, opposition parties facing authoritarian movements have generally failed when they campaign on the “at least we’re not them” platform. It’s what doomed the opposition for decades in Venezuela and Italy. They campaigned on being Not Chávez and Not Berlusconi in multiple elections… and lost every one.

It was only when the opposition changed their campaign tactic to “what we can do better for you” that their fortunes changed.

Ignore the Not Trump line. Everyone interested in voting Trump out already knows that means voting for the Democrats in 2020. The Democrats have an absolute lock on the Not Trump vote; as such, any additional effort focused on this sales tactic is wasted.

Look, I get it: Rick is a conservative. For him, personally, about the only thing good about the Democrats is that they are Not Trump. He’s not enthused about any of their other policies. He’s not looking forward to holding his nose and voting for a Democrat. But hold his nose and vote Democrat he will.

One of the greatest errors in thinking one can make is to extrapolate one’s own beliefs onto others. For millions of Americans, Trump is not so abjectly repugnant as he is to Wilson (or, for that matter, yours truly). Yes, it would be a great thing if he was: Trump would have never been elected. But wishing something were so does not make it so.