Quotulatiousness

November 16, 2011

Stop the attempt to nationalize the internet (for the US government)

Filed under: Government, Liberty, Technology, USA — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas @ 12:17

If you don’t already associate SOPA with evil, Michael Geist explains why you should:

The U.S. Congress is currently embroiled in a heated debated over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), proposed legislation that supporters argue is needed combat online infringement, but critics fear would create the “great firewall of the United States.” SOPA’s potential impact on the Internet and development of online services is enormous as it cuts across the lifeblood of the Internet and e-commerce in the effort to target websites that are characterized as being “dedicated to the theft of U.S. property.” This represents a new standard that many experts believe could capture hundreds of legitimate websites and services.

For those caught by the definition, the law envisions requiring Internet providers to block access to the sites, search engines to remove links from search results, payment intermediaries such as credit card companies and Paypal to cut off financial support, and Internet advertising companies to cease placing advertisements. While these measures have unsurprisingly raised concern among Internet companies and civil society groups (letters of concern from Internet companies, members of the US Congress, international civil liberties groups, and law professors), [. . .] the jurisdictional implications demand far more attention. The U.S. approach is breathtakingly broad, effectively treating millions of websites and IP addresses as “domestic” for U.S. law purposes.

The long-arm of U.S. law manifests itself in at least five ways in the proposed legislation.

Will Penn State cancel its football program?

Filed under: Football, Law, Media — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 12:11

Given that they generated $50 million in profits from a $70 million revenue stream, the “smart money” is betting against:

If the Allegations Are True, Penn State Should End Its Football Program: Next week, Penn State plays Ohio State in a battle of scandal-plagued programs. The thought of these two facing off ought to send chills through the NCAA, any alum of either school, and anyone who loves college sports. Penn State and Ohio State seem determined to convince America that big-college athletics is beyond redemption. Just bear in mind: What Penn State is accused of is 10,000 times worse than what Ohio State did.

At Penn State, one of two must be the case: Either the accusations are false or they are true. If false, then Penn State, Joe Paterno and all others implicated deserve their honor back. If the grand jury presentment is true, we have barely scratched the surface of Penn State’s disgrace.

If the charges are true, not only did the Penn State football program allow its facilities to be used for the abuse of children, Penn State athletic officials and academic administrators were more concerned with preserving their money and power than with stopping future molestation. (The grand jury found the Penn State administrators’ explanations for inaction “not credible.”) If the charges are true, the phrases “Penn State” and “Joe Paterno” forever will be synonymous with the word “shame.”

[. . .]

Joe Nocera of The New York Times notes, “In 2009, Penn State football generated a staggering $50 million in profit on $70 million in revenue, according to figures compiled by the Department of Education. Protecting those profits is the real core value of college football.”

If Penn State’s trustees and new administration really cared about shame at the school, the remainder of the football season would have been canceled. Their actions suggest that what Penn State’s trustees and new administration really care about is making the public think honor has been restored, in order to keep the money flowing.

If the charges are shown to be true, the way Penn State could prove contrition, and recover perspective, would be to end its football program. Penn State is talking about contrition, but talk is cheap. Ending the Nittany Lions’ football program would prove contrition.

The (sad) tale of the tape

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 09:36

Tom Pelissero has the task of going through the tape of Monday night’s game against the Packers, doing the stats and assessing the play of the team. It’s not a happy job:

Here’s the tale of the tape from the Minnesota Vikings’ 45-7 loss to the Green Bay Packers, with grades on a scale of 0 to 5 in parentheses:

Quarterbacks (1)

Packers DC Dom Capers pulled out all the stops to chase and confuse QB Christian Ponder (62 snaps), who looked truly flustered at times for the first time in his young career. Using 11 different combinations of blitzers and mixing man and zone coverage behind them, Capers sent 28 patterns (rushes involving inside linebackers or defensive backs) in Ponder’s 36 dropbacks (77.8%), including the last nine in a row despite leading by 30-plus. MLB Desmond Bishop blitzed most frequently (13 times), followed by CB Charles Woodson (seven), BLB A.J. Hawk (seven), subpackage CB Jarrett Bush (six), FS Morgan Burnett (three) and CB Tramon Williams (one). The result was three sacks, 17 total QB pressures, three passes batted at the line and a 16-of-34 passing line (47.1%) that could have been worse if Ponder hadn’t stuck several tough throws into traffic. A flat-footed strike up the seam for 33 on third-and-4 was as good as it got. Ponder made one terrible decision, turning a flea-flicker into an interception for Williams even though the Packers had the right defense to defend it. Woodson missed chances for two more interceptions — one on a late crossing throw, the other when two players collided in pattern. A fumble caused by LOLB Clay Matthews’ sack was recovered by a teammate. Ponder scrambled twice for 17 yards. It seemed like Capers was in the Vikings huddle with the way the Packers kept taking away bootlegs, screens and other manufactured plays. One of Ponder’s three “explosive” completions and 38 of his 190 passing yards (20%) came on the final drive, after Green Bay had pulled several starters. The rookie has long way to go, but don’t they all? Joe Webb (three) took a counter option for 6 yards on his lone snap under center and played two snaps at receiver, catching his first NFL pass for 9 yards on a long drag against Woodson on third-and-18.

The rest of the article is just as depressing as this. The highest mark he hands out is a bare (2) to the defensive line. The receivers and the defensive backs each got half a mark, which may be too generous. You may have the best running back in the NFL (and I think they do), but if you can’t pass and you can’t stop your opponent from passing, it is not going to make enough of a difference.

The gender wage gap won’t go away

Filed under: Economics, Government, Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 09:28

Kay Hymowitz explains that even with the best will in the world, the wage gap — often referred to as the 75-cents-on-the-dollar phenomenon — between men and women will persist:

Let’s begin by unpacking that 75-cent statistic, which actually varies from 75 to about 81, depending on the year and the study. The figure is based on the average earnings of full-time, year-round workers, usually defined as those who work 35 hours a week or more.

But consider the mischief contained in that “or more.” It makes the full-time category embrace everyone from a clerk who arrives at her desk at 9 a.m. and leaves promptly at 4 p.m. to a trial lawyer who eats dinner four nights a week — and lunch on weekends — at his desk.

I assume, in this case, that the clerk is a woman and the lawyer a man for the simple reason that — and here is an average that proofers rarely mention — full-time men work more hours than full-time women do. In 2007, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 27 percent of male full-time workers had workweeks of 41 or more hours, compared with 15 percent of female full-time workers; just 4 percent of full-time men worked 35 to 39 hours a week, while 12 percent of women did. Since full-time men work more than full-time women do, it shouldn’t be surprising that the men, on average, earn more.

The other arena of mischief contained in the 75-cent statistic lies in the seemingly harmless term “occupation.” Everyone knows that a CEO makes more than a secretary and that a computer scientist makes more than a nurse. Most people wouldn’t be shocked to hear that secretaries and nurses are likely to be women, while CEOs and computer scientists are likely to be men. That explains much of the wage gap.

But proofers often make the claim that women earn less than men doing the exact same job. They can’t possibly know that. The Labor Department’s occupational categories can be so large that a woman could drive a truck through them. Among “physicians and surgeons,” for example, women make only 64.2 percent of what men make. Outrageous, right? Not if you consider that there are dozens of specialties in medicine: some, like cardiac surgery, require years of extra training, grueling hours, and life-and-death procedures; others, like pediatrics, are less demanding and consequently less highly rewarded. Only 16 percent of surgeons, but a full 50 percent of pediatricians, are women.

Don’t expect China to save your economy

Filed under: China, Economics, Government, Media — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:19

Jon, my former virtual landlord, sent along this link which should pour cold water on the notion that China will step in to save the economies of other countries:

China’s economy has a reputation for being strong and prosperous, but according to a well-known Chinese television personality the country’s Gross Domestic Product is going in reverse.

Larry Lang, chair professor of Finance at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said in a lecture that he didn’t think was being recorded that the Chinese regime is in a serious economic crisis — on the brink of bankruptcy. In his memorable formulation: every province in China is Greece.

The restrictions Lang placed on the Oct. 22 speech in Shenyang City, in northern China’s Liaoning Province, included no audio or video recording, and no media. He can be heard saying that people should not post his speech online, or “everyone will look bad,” in the audio that is now on Youtube.

In the unusual, closed-door lecture, Lang gave a frank analysis of the Chinese economy and the censorship that is placed on intellectuals and public figures. “What I’m about to say is all true. But under this system, we are not allowed to speak the truth,” he said.

Despite Lang’s polished appearance on his high-profile TV shows, he said: “Don’t think that we are living in a peaceful time now. Actually the media cannot report anything at all. Those of us who do TV shows are so miserable and frustrated, because we cannot do any programs. As long as something is related to the government, we cannot report about it.”

China, for all its amazing growth and rising economic prospects for (some of) its population, is still not a modern economy. The government — specifically the military — is too deeply involved at far deeper levels than other governments and the reported economic figures may or may not have any relationship with reality. When your boss is a general, he has ways of ensuring that you report the “right” results that a civilian CEO cannot match. It’s not just your job you risk by reporting unwelcome results.

I’ve ridden this hobby horse, as Jon calls it, many times over the years.

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