August 10th – International News Round-Up (Part I)

Right Wing

Right Wing Watch

Rick Joyner is a pastor who says that Trump is sensitive to the word of the Lord. He also says that there is hope since they now have the “most evangelical cabinet in U.S. history.”

Economics

Mainly Macro via Economists View

UK is an anomaly. Article has a chart form the FT about how GDP growth has been positive and real wage compound growth has dropped in the same period (post crisis). So, what gives?

Vox EU (CEPR Policy Portal) via Economists View

Roads and Schools. Article argues that the benefits that communities and the economy accrues from schools is distributed over a longer period of time and takes longer to add up, thus making it a lot less attractive in the eyes of politicians.

Marxism

Stumbling and Mumbling via Economists View

How the authors version of socialism differs from the conventional statism that is often associated with it. Along the way he also argues from a smaller government.

Society

Louis Proyect

National anthems and their influence on the country. Author goes into when it first started being used as a proxy for getting crowds to conform and stand up.

Colin Kaepernick (Image Source: Wiki Commons)
Colin Kaepernick (Image Source: Wiki Commons)

A Dragon’s Best Friend

On sustainable models of tourism in popular cities/towns. How to ensure that the citizens of a town get something out of it.

Vice

Vice article on the changing face of ballet. This could be interesting in a wider sense. I think there are a lot of people who come from many different ethnic backgrounds who are involved in different art forms, professionally and otherwise, which are very firmly rooted in western traditions. It would be interesting to see if they could bring something of themselves to these art forms and if it would continue to be appreciated by the more traditional schools.

Religion

Times of Israel

A Russian has launched an ICO that he claims is the first Kosher currency. I’m actually really interested in this model of doing business, which incorporates more than just the start operating practice of creating shareholder profit. Whether this will be a success or not will remain to be seen. Read the article for the details on the cryptocurrency that will operate on Jewish financial law.

Guam

Savage Minds

Guam has been in the headlines because North Korea threatened it. Guam has a huge US military presence. This is what inspired the threat.

August 9th – International News Round-Up (Part I)

Religion

The Immanent Frame

On the politics of Islam in America, caught between the appropriation of the Liberal and the Conservative spheres.

Tech

The Daily Dot

Boycott Google or Ban Google isn’t working out apparently. They’re pointing out the obvious here, which is that there is no way to get around using Google. Though in my head, all this article serves to do is bring up the fact that there is such an enormous amount of data that Google is able to process and use. Thing is, the fact that you don’t have a choice in the matter, and that they’re big enough for competition to be irrelevant should be reason enough for more anti-trust lawsuits, right?

Finance

Center for Financial Inclusion

CFI Blog post on ICICI bank in India and how they hooked up with Stellar, to create a product for their customers. ICICI customers can transfer money using a mobile wallet. This money is process in a cryptocurrency, the unit of which is lumens. It’s not very clear if you can export this cryptocurrency out of its environment. Probably not.

Society

Vox

The firing of the Google engineer who wrote the now infamous memo might not be open to arbitration. Google engineers are not unionized and the United States apparently offers no protection to employees at their workplace (in the private sector).

Gizmodo

An alternative to the anti-diversity google memo. Article on how science has always been used to justify the men over women argument, apart from various other things.

Timeline

Fascinating article on an article who explores Greenwich in New York City and how the forces that forced the young, black, gay and homeless of Stonewall now own it. Did they win?

Cherry Lane Theater in Greenwich Village (Image Source: Wiki Commons)
Cherry Lane Theater in Greenwich Village (Image Source: Wiki Commons)

United States

Vox

Article on the unprecedented ethical concerns that affect Trump and this administration.

War

USA Today

Blackwater will receive more contracts going forward. I’m not sure why every time it gets reported, they open with a shocking line like: “The United States is considering a plan to entrust security to private contractors…”.

They’ve been doing it for a minute now.

The exact nature of their work is not clear, but apparently, they will serve in an advisory role.

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.”