Archive for September, 2015

Loving to hate: Google v Apple

Joe Wilcox asks: Is Android a dangerous monopoly? At issue is Google hate based on their being who they are.

the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department allegedly are beginning a joint investigation into Google’s Android licensing agreements. But I can explain what it means. Striping to the bones, from an antitrust perspective, there are two pivot points: Monopoly position and exclusive contracts. Then there is the broader regulatory agenda: Correcting (or preventing future) consumer harm.

Globally, Android is unquestionably a monopoly in the market for smartphones. However, its dominance in the United States is comparably muted by competition from iPhone. Based on smartphone subscribers, Android’s share was 51.4 percent for the three months ending July 31, 2015, according to comScore. iOS ranked second with 44.2 percent.

So the question: Are consumers robbed of choice that causes them harm? The answer relates to what I perceive as Google’s primary motivation for the current licensing arrangements. Android is a hugely fragmented operating system because Google doesn’t control platform updates. The company lets cellular carrier and manufacturing partners choose when, or if, to dispatch Android version updates. By the way, that demonstrates how much freedom licensees have—to control the experience for their customers, even if it hurts the platform they provide.

Apple presents competitive alternative from a unified base, as the majority of users typically adopt the newest and safest iOS version. Consumers have another attractive platform choice. By contrast, Android users get something less and quite possibly are harmed in the process. Fragmentation hinders choice and increases security risks presented by consumers running outdated Android versions and choosing to download apps from unmonitored sources (meaning not Google Play).

From that perspective—and a few commenters will blow brain aneurysms with this—it could be argued that Google causes more consumer harm by not imposing more control over Android with its licensees.

The question here is why the platform that imposes less control and provides more freedom of choice for both manufacturers and consumers is being subject to harassment while the platform that imposes a straight jacket is considered exemplary. That is characteristic of a leftist mentality: allowing the end user more choice among many options is harmful while restricting end user choice and option by an elite authority is considered good. This allegation of monopoly or whatnot stands in clear contradiction to the diversity in the market. But then, intellectual honesty is not a hallmark on the left. A ‘monopoly’ is constructed by ignoring such things as Amazon’s Kindle and the many manufacturers who make their own choices and tweaks to set their products apart from the competition. Android as fragmented is seen as “worse than bad” – a bug and not a feature. This appears to be one area where diversity is really bad and that brings up the point that the argument is made by those who aren’t very consistent in their thinking as the left generally considers diversity as super great.

That leads to the consideration NeoCon raised in More on facing “the truth”.

It’s not always—probably not even often—an easy or simple thing to comprehend the “truth” of events as they are happening. Doing so requires a host of elements: correct information, sound judgment, some knowledge of the past in order to put the present in context, and yes, the courage to face what you see even if it is a disillusioning departure from a previously held belief and/or hope.

It’s tough to sit back and examine our perceptions, especially if we are buried in a sea of emotion that is invisible to us that clouds our vision.

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Understanding socialism and the religion of the left

Mark Perry uses what What four previous popes had to say about socialism as a contrast and as a view of economic systems not often considered. Besides a contrast to the current Pope, the selections indicate that his predecessors were much more aware of the deeper issues involved in economic systems.

Pope John XXIII (1958-1963) … Socialism is founded on a doctrine of human society which is bounded by time and takes no account of any objective other than that of material well-being. Since, therefore, it proposes a form of social organization which aims solely at production; it places too severe a restraint on human liberty, at the same time flouting the true notion of social authority.

Pope Paul VI (1963-1978) … Too often Christians attracted by socialism tend to idealize it in terms which, apart from anything else, are very general: a will for justice, solidarity and equality. They refuse to recognize the limitations of the historical socialist movements, which remain conditioned by the ideologies from which they originated.

Pope John Paul II (1978-2005) … The fundamental error of socialism is anthropological in nature. Socialism considers the individual person simply as an element, a molecule within the social organism, so that the good of the individual is completely subordinated to the functioning of the socio-economic mechanism. Socialism likewise maintains that the good of the individual can be realized without reference to his free choice, to the unique and exclusive responsibility which he exercises in the face of good or evil. Man is thus reduced to a series of social relationships, and the concept of the person as the autonomous subject of moral decision disappears, the very subject whose decisions build the social order. From this mistaken conception of the person there arise both a distortion of law, which defines the sphere of the exercise of freedom, and an opposition to private property. A person who is deprived of something he can call “his own,” and of the possibility of earning a living through his own initiative, comes to depend on the social machine and on those who control it. This makes it much more difficult for him to recognize his dignity as a person, and hinders progress towards the building up of an authentic human community.

Pope Benedict XVI (2005 – 2013) … The State which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person—every person—needs: namely, loving personal concern.

These ideas do not often surface in arguments about socialism vs capitalism. They delve into the depths of human nature and, in that, provide us an opportunity to examine our own beliefs and how they can be corrupted by desires and fantasies.

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Measuring global poverty

John Hinderaker says it’s a dose of reality for the Pope.

I really don’t like Pope Francis. Some popes have been positive, world-historical figures, like John Paul II. Others have been clueless tag-alongs with the intellectual fashions of their time. I am afraid that Francis falls into the latter category. His hostility toward free enterprise is the fruit of ignorance, not holiness. His best defense is that as a citizen of Argentina, he has no experience of the benefits of free enterprise. But as the leader of a world-wide church, he is obliged to inform himself before he pontificates.

A reader passes along this graph, from EconLog, which plots on the horizontal axis a person’s position in his own country’s income distribution, and on the vertical axis, a person’s position in global income distribution, as of 2008. The poorest Americans (points 1 or 2 on the horizontal axis) have incomes that put them above the 50th percentile worldwide. Note that 12% of the richest Americans belong to the global top 1%:

The graph only shows the U.S., Russia, Brazil, China, and India in citizen position on a global versus country income distribution. It has much of interest. The exceptional nature of the U.S. is quite evident in both position and in the shape of the curve. If you want to address either poverty or income inequality, you need to look in places other than the U.S. if you are serious about addressing the issues involved.

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Ahmed’s Clock: dust is settling but child development ignorance remains

Paul Mirengoff highlights the idea that 14 year-old kid makes Obama his dupe.

Why would Mohamed bring the old device to school? I can think of only two plausible reasons: (1) to get credit from his teacher or (2) to cause a reaction by those who might fear the device posed a potential danger.

The first motive seems unlikely. From all that appears, there was no assignment that called on him to bring in a device.

Mohamed claims that he was encouraged by his father to bring the device to school to show off his skills to his engineering teacher. But taking apart an old clock would involve no engineering skill or inventiveness.

Obama, on the other hand, appears clearly to have overreacted. Bringing in part of an old time clock doesn’t merit an invitation to the White House. Obama should have had someone fact check this story before proclaiming Mohamed emblematic of what makes America great.

Some who initially sympathized with Mohamed have confessed error. Famous scientist Richard Dawkins, a leftist, said he “feels like a fool” for having been taken in by the hoax.

There remains one anomaly: “When the device started beeping in class.” The clock was a plug in the wall type and even then would need to have an alarm set and turned to make any noise so it wasn’t the clock that was beeping. Some critical data is missing in this story even after several days.

Keep in mind this is a 14 year old 9th grader. Yes, his dad was a middle east activist. Yes, it was a repackaged digital clock such as could easily be found in a thrift store or at a garage sale and not the work of engineering genius. A video that shows the kid waving a pencil type soldering iron around a surface mount component on some salvaged circuit board shows the lack of ‘chops’ in that area as well. But it is a 9th grade boy we are talking about: a young teenager just at the algebra stage. Pushing against authorities? Check. (with encouragement from his Dad, even, it appears). Taking nifty things apart? Check. Using existing stuff to make something that ‘looks cool’? Check.Tweaking teachers? Check.

At 14 years old, a home-brew clock effort would need careful guidance such as building a kit or following a projects cookbook recipe. See, for instance, the materials available for the Picaxe or the Arduino or the Rasberry Pi. These all require software and the code needed for a clock is surprisingly complex. A 9th grade is most likely to use the code provided in a kit or cookbook and maybe tweak it a bit.

The school personnel should know these things., It is their vocation, after all. That is what makes the over-reaction noteworthy. The President has children and he should have some feel for childhood intellectual development. But what Mirengoff illustrates as does the arrest of Ahmed, is the presumption that a child is just a small adult. That is perhaps problem number 1.

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Will v. Pope

George Will on the Pope, Pope Francis’ fact-free flamboyance (i.e. the Pope’s problem with false witness)

Pope Francis embodies sanctity but comes trailing clouds of sanctimony. With a convert’s indiscriminate zeal, he embraces ideas impeccably fashionable, demonstrably false and deeply reactionary. They would devastate the poor on whose behalf he purports to speak — if his policy prescriptions were not as implausible as his social diagnoses are shrill.

He stands against modernity, rationality, science and, ultimately, the spontaneous creativity of open societies in which people and their desires are not problems but precious resources. Americans cannot simultaneously honor him and celebrate their nation’s premises.

The Lord has given us gifts. There is something strange about a leader of the Church turning his back on those gifts and rejecting what the Lord is saying in offering them.

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Breathless: finding confirmation of a belief – or so it seems.

The climate alarmists have, as a fundamental belief, that evil non-government corporations are in conspiracy to hide evidence of disaster and buying influence to deny the alarmist dogma. So when something is found that supports the belief, the reporting goes breathless in the affirmation of faith. Exxon Scientists Knew Fossil Fuels Caused Climate Change Back in 1977 is an example.

It’s a story reminiscent of the way Big Tobacco covered up the deadly effects of smoking. In the 1980s, Exxon spent millions of dollars on groundbreaking research which irrefutably showed how their products would change the climate. And then they buried it all.

The story is devastating in that Exxon is likely responsible for much of the anti-science climate denial rhetoric out there to this day. I just read the whole thing, and it’s made me incredibly angry.

A bit of education in both history and science might do a lot to quell that anger but anger tends to promote denial of reality rather than acceptance. Consider, for instance, that the issue in 1977 was global cooling, not global warming. Consider that the ‘greenhouse effect’ of CO2 was already well known. Consider the confusion and misdirection evident in using a photo showing “The Exxon Valdez spilled an estimated 10.8 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound, Alaska, in 1989” as an illustration for the post. Neglect the fact that windmills are killing more birds, by orders of magnitude, than oil spills have. Stop to think a minute about just what Exxon could gain by trying to suppress common knowledge or how it could think such an effort might be anything but futile.

Too much anger, too much breathlessness, too little intellectual integrity.

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Ahmed’s clock

If there is any greater testament to failures in public schools, the recent saga of a 9th grader with a homebrew electronic clock should rank right up there.

I have to say, if I were a teacher and a student had a device that looked like this and started beeping during class, I’d be a little nervous too. Imagine how the Secret Service would react if it had been mailed to the White House: [Ed Driscoll]

A bomb has one major ingredient – the explosive. This is a mass of some chemical that can blow up. Do you see anything in the picture of Ahmed’s clock where there is any significant mass of something that could blow up? Or consider the Boston Bomber and his pressure cooker pots. Those were containers, like pipes with caps on each end, that could hold some explosive and provide a containment that could enhance the effect.

In this case, it was funny noises and perhaps some flashing LED’s and wires that caused the alarm. In microcontroller cook-books, making a beep and flashing a light are the first things you learn how to do. The biggest question is why Ahmed left the battery connected after the first period teacher told him he ought not show it to other teachers.

There is a lot of talk about wanting more students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM subjects). It is one thing for a pundit like Driscoll to be paranoid about anything electronic, but any high school teacher? and administrators? and cops? Avocational interests are fundamental to STEM pursuits and the Maker’s communities [see Makezine] show just how much of a need there is to share ideas, show off work results, and socialize with others of the same mind. That is why, perhaps, that community is all in a tizzy about Ahmed’s clock. It is yet another illustration of just what modern school systems, the establishment, thinks of geeks and nerds. It is fortunate for society that, so far, word about such atrocities as Ahmed’s clock get out and support for reason gets voiced.

Update: Here’s Dave Jone’s rant at EEVblog eevBLAB #14 – 14yo Hobbyist Arrested For Bringing DIY Clock To School and Hackaday explains why you should build a clock for social good this week. It should also be noted that the very quick invite to the White House appears to have a racial twinge – Ahmed was a victim of white privilege or something and had the appearance of a protected minority.

Update 2 – Reverse Engineering Ahmed Mohamed’s Clock… and Ourselves. Yep: looks like the kid found an 80’s digital alarm clock and re-packaged it in a pencil case off Amazon. This rather fits with the idea of a precocious 9th grader out to tweak teachers. He shoulda’ been guided to more modern, microcontroller based, ideas and ongoing development of add-on features. Instead, the schools provided destructive feedback. Rather than encourage technical education and experimentation, the positive feedback was directed towards social disruption and disorder. Modern school systems in a nutshell.

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A matter of integrity

Robert Sp[encer says “What disturbs people is not the Pope’s authority for his views but his seeming unawareness of opposing evidence”. He cites “On Pope Francis and Church Integrity,” by Rev. James V. Schall, S.J., Crisis.

we might say that the Pope’s positions are backed by scholarly opinions. The only trouble with this approach is that other scholars in both areas find evidence that the opposite views are more persuasive and valid. What disturbs people is not the Pope’s authority for his views but his seeming unawareness of opposing evidence.

To be in error on a matter of scientific opinion is, of course, not exactly heresy. It happens every day. Indeed, it is the nature of scientific method of testing and retesting. Likewise, to be wrong (or right) about earth warming is not a matter of faith.

But if the Church takes a position in the matters of, say, evolution, science, or economics that turns out, on further investigation, to be wrong or doubtful, it will seem untrustworthy also in areas over which it does claim competence. However tempting or popular to comment on, there are some things on which the Church should just avoid taking a stand.

Galileo provided a lesson and that case still impugns the integrity of the Church. Will they never learn? When the boundaries between politics, religion, and science become clouded, all lose.

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Sportsmanlike conduct

Deron Snyder thinks the Patriots have been America’s most hated team this century — to some. The thing is, what he describes of football hate is also relevant to the current debate about rape on campus, the Black Lives Matter rioting, and politically driven prosecution.

The piling on since “Deflategate” has been unseemly, unsightly and plain ol’ ugly, enough to make this Patriots anti-fan raise his voice in support.

I didn’t think critics could be more petty after expressing their outrage over the air pressure in some footballs.

Considering that many of the sources hail from teams that lost to the Patriots, you have to wonder what percentage of their gripes are sour grapes. There’s a whole lot of “I have a feeling” and “I just know,” but not much that can be verified.

There’s no defense against a nagging sense or widely-held assumption that you did something wrong.

That’s why the ordeal of dredging up unsubstantiated accusation from decades ago is an exercise in futility … unless the objective is providing ammo to shoot down Belichick and Brady.

In that case, mission accomplished, though the haters are firing blanks.

While the NFL is a business dripping in money, it is also a sport. The conduct of the players. coaches, and league officials as highlighted by Snyder are well outside the realm of sportsmanlike conduct. Firing blanks? talk to Scooter Libby about that …

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Insanity, firearms edition

Chris Cox notes how Gun-phobics target tragedy – “Second Amendment opponents ignore the reason bullets fly.”

And it’s not just politicians who use this craven strategy. Anti-gun groups, such as Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety, use it to advance their anti-gun agenda and even raise money. Immediately following a tragedy, they push emotional appeals to promote their cause and declare, “enough is enough.” Unfortunately, they offer no real solutions to the problems of violence in our communities — just the same rhetoric, devoid of common sense, logic or even the smallest connection to reality. In the case of expanded background checks, why would we expand something that is not working in the first place?

Irrationality driving an attempt to limit the rights to self defense. At the same time, another column castigates an elected official for denying rights to gays by refusing to sign marriage licenses.

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Just what is the Law, anyway

Victor Davis Hanson: America’s descent into lawlessness – “Chaos reigns when the law favors protected individuals and groups.”

America is becoming analogous to the mess in lawless contemporary Venezuela. When the law is suspended or unevenly applied for politically protected individuals and groups, then there is no law.

We are now seeing the logical descent into the abyss of chaos.

From Scooter Libby to Kim Davis with Lerner, Obama, sanctuary cities, et al in between.

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Infantry strong. And distractions

Lieutenant General Gregory Newbold (U.S. Marine Corps, ret.) takes up what tempers the steel of an infantry unit: “It is artificial to constrain the debate about women in the infantry to physical capabilities. This doesn’t address what holds an infantry unit together in the worst conditions humanity has to offer.”

the issue we’re now debating has to include a recognition of cohesion and the cost of sexual dynamics in a bare-knuckled brawl, amidst primeival mayhem, in which we expect the collective entity to persevere because it has a greater will and fighting spirit, and not because it is bigger, faster, or more agile. The championship team in virtually any professional sport may only coincidentally be the most physically talented, but it most assuredly will be the most cohesive. Why not appreciate the same ingredients in infantry units?

Finally, you may bet your future earnings that the current effort to integrate the infantry will not cease with a few extraordinary females, but will eventually accommodate a social engineering goal by changing standards. Think I am wrong? It’s already happening. Read the words and understand the goals of the current Secretary of the Navy (an arsonist in the fire department) and the Secretary of the Air Force, and examine what we now call “the Dempsey Rule.”

If I’m wrong, the cost may be denied opportunity to strong and impressive young women. If you’re wrong, our national security is shaken and there is a butcher’s bill to pay. Make your choice. The line forms on the left.

The one or the many? The question was put on the table in one of the later, PC, Star Trek movies in a different context. It is the question here as well in a more raw form. The basis is about the nature of humanity and trying to pretend it is something that it is not and using denial to try to make it so, anyway.

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Doom! I tell ya’ – Doom

It is ‘oh so typical’ of modern ignorance. Danielle Nierenberg explains Here’s why industrial food is deceivingly cheap – “Food is seemingly cheaper and more convenient than ever before. However, what people don’t pay for at the cash register, they pay in healthcare costs and environmental consequences.”

The use of the word “industrial” is enough to raise suspicions. Then there’s the idea that people are living longer and healthier lives and the environment is cleaner than it has been in the past to realize that the base presumption is oxymoronic. Another issue on this ‘anti-industrial’ ethos is the disregard of the poor who benefit most from having inexpensive healthy food. The availability of cheap food is why starvation in the world today is nowhere near as desperate as it has been for most of human history.

Conventional agriculture isn’t cheap. From the use of artificial fertilizer and pesticides to the obesity epidemic, our current food system has a number of hidden costs to the natural environment and human health, far outweighing the benefits of cheap food.

“Agriculture is arguably the highest policy priority on today’s global political agenda, in recognition of its widespread impacts on food security, employment, climate change, human health, and severe environmental degradation,” says Alexander Müller, a leader of the TEEBAgFood project team. “I truly see this as being one of the most timely and important research initiatives in the field of sustainable agriculture.”

Step one of TEEBAgFood, already underway, is using a series of sector-specific, geographically widespread ‘feeder studies.’ These studies are assessing the misplaced environmental and social costs of different agricultural commodities–rice, livestock, palm oil, inland fisheries, maize, and agroforestry.

Next, the study will produce a Scientific and Economic Foundations Report, building the theoretical context of the connections between business, agriculture, food, and biodiversity and ecosystems. A Policies, Procedure, and Consumption Report will then present a variety of viable production systems and policies, adjusted for multiple socioeconomic contexts. Finally, a Synthesis Report, supported by complementary communication strategies, will communicate the key findings and recommendations.

It’s anthropogenic climate disaster all over again. Government money towards academics to produce ‘studies.’ Policies based on deceit and ideology. Propaganda campaigns to persuade the masses. It is top down with the elites, the in-crowd, the believers that are to be in charge of things. What is missing? How about bottom up decision making in many small decisions by individuals who vote with their self interest in mind?

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Brady v NFL

John Dowd asks: Was Tom Brady ambushed? The issue is about clarity in rules and procedure that are especially important in sports.

Football, baseball, soccer and virtually every sport on the planet have one thing in common: They all have rules that are supposed to protect the integrity of the game. When rules get broken, everyone loses.

But when sports authorities don’t enforce their own rules with transparency and fairness, the integrity of the game is equally compromised. What’s happening today with the NFL undermines the concepts of integrity and fairness in the application of the rules and threatens to damage football’s credibility for years to come.

The NFL’s fundamental failure to conduct an expeditious, fair, honest and consistent approach to rules enforcement undermines the entire game. The league needs to reconsider its suspension of Tom Brady, and use this unfortunate episode as an opportunity to correct a terrible injustice to one the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.

This is particularly interesting in that the NFL is trying to maintain that its actions were all about the integrity of the game. They seem oblivious to the idea that the concept of integrity also applies to them.

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Treason of the Professors

John Hinderaker describes an article by William Bradford who says:

The following are seven tactics, in order of increasing departure from traditional conceptions of the scholarly enterprise, whereby CLOACA conducts PSYOP attacks to support Islamist military operations. The first is promotion of more rigorous rules and compliance standards for Western militaries. The second is distortion of LOAC principles to immunize Islamist combatants and render counterforce more operationally complex and legally risky. Third, CLOACA misrepresents aspirations for what LOAC should be as statements of fact as to what LOAC already is. Fourth, CLOACA degrades U.S. intelligence collection and exploitation. Fifth, it advocates restoration of Islamist detainees to the battle, and sixth, it calls for prosecution of U.S. troops for alleged LOAC violations to cause hesitancy, indecision, and reduction in military vigor. Finally, it encourages execution of direct action missions, including material support of Islamists and treasonous conduct.

The issue is 4th generation warfare and the battlefield is political. The mainstream propaganda machine, including the The Critical Law of Armed Conflict Academy, is a fifth column working for the defeat of Western Cultures and societies. As Hinderaker notes, the defense is out in force to rebut the article and demean its author. He concludes “We are long overdue for a serious discussion of the role that elites in the legal profession have played in our now 14-year-old (at least) war with Islamic extremists. Unfortunately, because of flaws in both the messenger and the message, Bradford’s essay will not prompt such a debate.” which only illustrates just how careful one needs to be when attempting to hold the machine to account.

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Critical Race Theory

A comment on Dennis Prager, “The Left Only Sees White Evil.”

The devil works in obvious ways sometimes. Hating other individuals simply because of the color of their skin–even if you think that brings them “power” or “privilege”–is racism. But at least two generations of Americans have been taught the opposite, thanks to the far left dominance of the academy. Prager is sadly correct when he ascribes growing black-on-white racial hate crimes to the far left’s “victimhood” narrative, as well as his conclusion that more bloodshed is likely to come. — Instapundit

Only whites can be racist is a self contradictory concept upon which to base a rationalization for an ideology.

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