August 6th – International News Round-Up (Part I)

Alt-Right/ Neo-Nazi

Daily Stormer

I highly recommend Right Wing Watch. It’s this website which does a round-up of stuff around the internet that is right-wing content. I’ve pretty much wanted to do the same kind of stuff since I saw it.

Stormer article on a video that Molyneux put out. Couple of thing that stand out here. The first is where Molyneux fits into this entire narrative. He does share some alt-right views, but there’s a curious kind of vague, mystical tone to what he says. Though, fundamentally, he’s a guy who stands against what the alt-right considers the whole “politically correct” SJW brigade, whatever that means. In the video, he talks about what he considers his “red pill” moment. For him, it was the fact that a democrat and a liberal (Clinton) got away with what most considered sexual assault. He thought that since Nixon got his reputation muddied because of Watergate, Clinton should have too. This is something that often gets repeated by alt-right individuals. The fact that they feel that feminists and liberals have a double standard.

The second that I would like to point out is the fact that the article boasts about the fact that the alt-right is winning the war on the internet. I would agree with this, even though I personally don’t like it. You just have to get on Youtube or Twitter to see the kind of disparity that exists between liberals and the number of nationalists/alt-right individuals. This applies to India too. It’s like they’re fighting for their lives. I have never seen an individual as motivated as a right-wing troll.

Race

Bradford Delong

Extremely interesting article on negotiations and the creation of a contract. I think we would all agree that is the model for how a constitution is created. You have various interest groups and then they for the most part agree on this legal document. Except, like the author points out, the slaves were never considered to be of equal standing and so were never really part of the negotiating process of creating the constitution. I haven’t done any more reading on this, so I’m going to trust what the author says as being true (that black people were in no meaningful way consulted in the initial drafts of the constitution), and that I interpreted it correctly. What this implies is very interesting. Once they were legally on equal footing, after the whole civil rights movement happened, you have an entire group of people, who were retroactively added to the constitution (which they were never a part of in the first place). If African Americans took this to court, they would win.

Internet

Cyborology

Article on cam models (by a cam model) on ideas of consent on the media that you create, and ownership of said media.

Zoey Foxx (Image Source: Wiki Commons)
Zoey Foxx (Image Source: Wiki Commons)

August 5th – International News Round-Up (Part II)

Philosophy

Nautilus

Great article on the constraints that physical processes place on the computational power of various organism. Hypothetical and otherwise.

The Wire

Article on life extending technologies and the fact that we need to think about them more, going forward. I think it’s put in a very interesting way. Also, some of the facts that he mentions are absolutely shocking. I mean, just intra-country wise, the fact that rich and poor counties in the United States can have a gap of 15 years in terms of life experience. If this argument is taken to its logical extreme, if we could create life extending technologies which could work, and were expensive, we would in essence create two strata of society. One would just be struggling and dying, and the other would be able to survive for a much longer period of time and would accumulate more wealth than they otherwise would have. This would then provide their offspring with the chance to do the same. I feel like life extending technologies would have a kind of multiplicative effect on an already unequal world.

India

The Wire

Article on the recent fuss about Karnataka (a state) that wanted a state flag. States in the US have flags. Some of them do at the very least, if not all. I agree with the author on a couple of things. What are we creating this unitary sense of being for? Why do we feel this fear when it comes to how we identify?

Media

The Imaginative Conservative

Thoughts on the show about William Shakespeare. It’s called Will, I believe. Might be wrong. Article points out that he was a catholic and the show takes his faith as forming part of the narrative of his life.

William Shakespeare (Image Source: Wiki Commons)
William Shakespeare (Image Source: Wiki Commons)

August 5th – International News Round-Up (Part I)

Alt-Right/ Neo-Nazi

Breitbart

Steve Bannon found a guy who managed to find his way to the white house with a book. He also endorsed him in a photo that’s doing the rounds. A lot of people were mad because this was like the Ivanka Trump endorsement fiasco, except with a poorly written book. In this excerpt from Breitbart, the author makes his point about how the left is the real bastion of fascism. I really hate reacting emotionally to stuff that I write about and I usually try as best as I can to avoid berating people and using emotive language to describe something that somebody wrote and clearly believes in, but this is the most patently absurd idea that I have ever heard.

He also gets it ass backwards by trying to explain why nationalism does not get to the core of what fascism means.

You can be nationalist without being a fascist, but fascism has always needed nationalism, ethnicity and religion, as a means to mobilize people. This isn’t particularly difficult to see. Literally every time this has happened in the history of the damn world, you can observe this pattern.

I’m not going to get into this in detail here, first because I don’t have the time and second because I really don’t want to engage with an idiot who can’t figure this out.

Steve Bannon (Image Source: Wiki Commons)
Steve Bannon (Image Source: Wiki Commons)

Race

Pharyngula

Coates on the series that the GoT writers (I think?) are going to make. Alternate history shows are fascinating as an idea, but Coates makes some very good points. It’s one thing to have an alternate history show where Nazi’s have won. Nazism in America obviously does elicit the kind of response that Confederate causes do. Nazis were tried and executed for their crimes. Confederate generals are still seen as an integral part of southern (white) history.

Unions

Splinter News

Slate’s staff are trying to unionize and apparently the management are against it. They have their reasons and the staff obviously have enough incentives to want to unionize. The language that the management are employing to dissuade them is really dodgy though.

August 4th – International News Round-Up (Part II)

Feminism

Feministing

Very interesting article on the nature of what we would call modern feminism today. Again, I’m not criticizing the nature of any movement for equality that people desire. I just think there’s much to criticize in most post-modern movements. I think they all arise from this idea of absolute individual autonomy that borders on the western notion of owning something (in this case, the body) as the absolute. I also think that there are very real problems with how we code consent (as a binary), when it’s really about power relations. Take for example the fact that we think it’s wrong for a tenured professor to sleep with an undergrad student. There’s clearly no parity in terms of power between the two.

“That self-criticality means advocating for consent while questioning Western individualism’s reliance on the language of capitalism. For example, in Richard M. Wright’s essay on teaching consent through playtime, Wright explains sexual consent using the example of a friend wanting to borrow a book – if your friend says no or expresses hesitation, the author writes, you shouldn’t borrow their book. While the example itself is useful, upon closer examination it troubled me: I want to be able to make an argument for our rights over our bodies without necessarily relying on the idea of property ownership.

How do we imagine a standard of bodily autonomy which doesn’t reduce us to a libertarian vision of atomized individuals trading consent on a free market, but instead emphasizes our codependence?”

Feminist Current

Article and podcast on how the movement about reproductive rights should not be about “rights” but should be about sovereignty.

Iran

The Iran Project

Iran says its non-oil exports remain uncompetitive. This, despite the fact that the dropping of the sanctions was supposed to ease some pressure.

Iran Export Ship (Image Source: Flickr)
Iran Export Ship (Image Source: Flickr)

United States

FiveThirtyEight

Discussion on what Trump needs to do to right the ship. Strictly Machiavellian (as they mention themselves).

August 4th – International News Round-Up (Part I)

Opioid Crisis

Vice

Very thorough article on the nature of what we call the opioid epidemic in the United States and the fact that it’s really about more than just opioids and it’s a lot deadlier than people think. It’s also true that this affects poorer people disproportionately. Most people agree that middle America is already having a tough time with the exodus of manufacturing jobs. Those started leaving in 90s, I believe.

Jobs

Washington Post

Manufacturing jobs might not be dead in America. They might have just migrated to the coast. Trump also said that he wanted to make encouraging people to move, a part of the outreach to his voter base. He wants to send the message that if you want jobs, you might have to move for it. There’s a hitch though (it’s also mentioned in the article). The 2008 mortgage crisis made the homes of individuals worthless. Most of them lost their homes. Some of them managed to pay off the debt, but are stuck with homes that nobody wants to buy. That’s an enormous sunk cost to just leave lying around.

LGBT

Vice

I think that is we have a romantic view of what it might be to part of communities such as the furry community. It seems to be a way for people to connect sexually in a manner that makes them feel more comfortable. For young LGBT kids, as the article points out, the furry community can be very important. I get all of that, and I think that it’s pretty great, but I can’t help feeling like our sexuality is slipping further and further into the realm of the imagination. Our ideas of sexuality have changed so drastically over the past century. Just think about that for a second. In all the years of human existence, even modern human existence, we haven’t seen a period of such rapid change. There’s no way all of this will turn out to be positive in the long term.

Dutch Furries Gorichem (Image Source: Wiki Commons)
Dutch Furries Gorichem (Image Source: Wiki Commons)

Real Estate

Richard Green

It is not that difficult–if you have access to capital.  Here are the steps:

(1) Buy an apartment complex for $10,000,000 at a 4.5 percent cap rate with a 35 percent downpayment; finance $6,500,000 with an interest only loan at 3.5 percent that comes due in five years.

(2) Let’s say 35 percent of the value of the property is land and the remainder is improvements. Improvements on apartments are depreciated on a straight line basis over 27.5 years.  So taxable income is

450,000-227,500 (interest) – 236,363 = -13,863 or a taxable loss.

Meanwhile, cash flow is 222,500 per year.  So one gets cash while taking a tax loss.

(3) It gets better.  Suppose when refinancing happens in five years, the property has gained 20 percent in value.  Now one gets a 65 percent LTV loan on a $12,000,000 property–and gets to pull $1,300,000 out of the property.  Suppose NOI has also gone up 20 percent.  Sow now taxable income is

540,000-273,000-236,363 = 30,636.

Assume that the owner’s all in marginal tax rate is 50 percent.  In exchange for a one time $1,300,000 in cash and cash flow of $267,000, the owner pays a little over $15,000 in taxes and 3.5 percent in interest on the extra money.  No matter how one looks at it, this is a tax rate on cash of less than 10 percent.

It keeps going for 27.5 years, at which point the owner can defer taxes via a like-kind exchange. All of this is perfectly legal.  And it explains why salaried workers pay more in taxes than owners of capital.

Race

Vice

Affirmative action is controversial in any country that it is practiced in. In India, it’s a bit (very) different. Government institutions have quotas to fill. Also, we deal with caste, and not race. Very different monster, but that’s a story for another day.

I know you’re not a lawyer, but what’s your sense of how this might play given the Supreme Court has repeatedly said some consideration of race is kosher?
It’s very difficult to know what the Supreme Court would decide given the recent personnel changes. But even before, it’s a very divisive topic. One judge could change the ruling. And the Supreme Court has already made it more difficult for institutions to implement affirmative action. They want some more accountability. So an institution cannot just say they gave admission to a minority student because they want diversity. That’s not enough. The institution has to bring evidence that it tried every other option available that is race-neutral to increase racial and ethnic diversity, like implement various programs, before they started using affirmative action. The court sees the benefit of diversity but would prefer that people achieve that with race-neutral means. Of course, that’s quite impossible. And that’s a very important point to keep in mind. But the institution has to prove they tried.

So the University of Texas did a great job demonstrating they had these programs, which is why the court granted them the option to continue with Affirmative Action. There will be another institution that is less diligent in designing race-neutral admissions policies before they do racial preferences. I don’t know what the court decision will be then.”

August 3rd – International News Round-Up (Part III)

Neo- Liberalism

SPERI

I was going to tag this under the United Kingdom but I see it now as a chance to make a wider point about a couple of things. One is that conservative parties and their policy of putting the matter of choice at an individual level and not willing to recognize the fact that systems can be gamed to make certain choices easier to make seems to cut across countries. This idea of circumstances not affecting the choices and outcomes of social processes is quite surprising and something that conservatives have become quite proficient at.

The second point I wanted to make was with respect to the famous David Cameron comment about people eating too much and not working out enough. There are tons of neighborhoods in the United States which have a real problem with basic access to healthy food. Fruits and vegetables are sometimes more expensive to buy since you have to make a bulk investment. Parents might work day to day. They simply don’t have the time to do this for their children. What compounds their problem is the fact that fast food companies have invested so much money in R&D that their per serving rates are absurdly low. Junk also satiates people a lot better than boring wholefoods do.

Now, these are all obviously complex arguments to make. They also require you to make observations on how ethical any of this, and how it affects individuals and communities over a period of time. That also might be why they’re apparently called the, ‘nasty party’.

David Cameron (Image Source: Wiki Commons)
David Cameron (Image Source: Wiki Commons)

Abortion

The Guardian via Feminist Current

Apparently, women who are receiving the abortion treatment (pills?) are required to be told that their abortion can be reversed. This is after they have taken the first pill and before they have taken the second one. I’ve seen a bunch of articles that speak of this as a coercive practice. I really don’t see how.

ISIS

Fair Observer

How is the international consensus on genocide prevention helpful in the conflict that is fueled by ISIS? Clearly, the fact that it was drafted with national states as the primary actors in mind has affected the international community on some level, but I really don’t believe that it really has hamstrung efforts. There’s more fundamental reasons why there wasn’t more done.

August 3rd – International News Round-Up (Part II)

United States

Vice

Trump tweeted out that the market was at an all-time high and that stocks have never been worth as much. I haven’t checked, but this is probably true. Vice provides you with all the usual caveats to this statement.

Job Market

Zero Hedge

Article speculates that real unemployment numbers are much higher than the government is telling them. I don’t know either way. I’m more interested in the number of people who want jobs in Amazon now. It feels like it did a couple of years ago when everybody wanted a job at facebook, then at google, and now at Amazon.

Amazon (Image Source: Flickr)
Amazon (Image Source: Flickr)

Authorship

Nieman Storyboard

Katherine Boo on her craft. It’s an interesting read. Actually, makes me want to find that book of hers and see if it manages to buck the trend and not be another white person writing about Bombay. That being said, I actually like point number 8 in the article.

8) I don’t try to find simple characters.

“If you’re searching for a super-virtuous character, you’re denying … the infinite variety of the human condition,” Boo said. “When I select people to write about, I’m looking for individuals who don’t necessarily fit existing blueprints and whose choices and actions reveal the most about the societies they inhabit.” Boo also doesn’t believe in making herself a character in the story so that readers will have someone to identify with, as many of her editors have encouraged. “If you have this image of me constantly present, that distracts you from what’s going on,” she said.