I’m on the Professor Watchlist—and it’s woken me up to the radical truth about America and social progress — Quartz

The Professor Watchlist is one such relic of the past, returned to the present—a readily available archive of who should be punished, who should be surveilled, and who should be erased. There may be more to come: Lists of refugees and undocumented immigrants, ready for an official invocation. Lists of enemies of the state, both foreign and domestic. Lists of radicals, lists of community organizers, lists of scientists. Lists that reminded people of dark moments in American history; of Joseph McCarthy and Richard Nixon, and the Japanese internment camps in the US during World War II.

It is a confirmation that those who believed progress was inevitable were wrong all along.

Source: I’m on the Professor Watchlist—and it’s woken me up to the radical truth about America and social progress — Quartz

Donald Trump and the US economy: 10 charts for tracking his progress — Quartz

10 charts to track his progress putting plans into action, updated continuously.

As president, his pledge to “Make America Great Again” will be judged largely along economic lines, whether it’s bringing back factory jobs, boosting wages, or renegotiating trade deals. … we don’t have to rely on guesswork or partisan punditry to evaluate his progress; we’ve got reliable data to gauge Trump’s success

  • Real GDP growth
  • Unemployment
  • Labor force participation
  • Poverty
  • Trade balance
  • S&P 500
  • Wage growth
  • Budget balance
  • Public debt
  • Coal mining jobs

Source: Donald Trump and the US economy: 10 charts for tracking his progress — Quartz

Forget What Is Normal, Champion What Is Just – The Atlantic

Saying “we mustn’t normalize this behavior” rather than “we need to stop this behavior” is really a way of saying that you don’t want to engage in politics, but would rather just signal to those who already agree with us just how appalled we are.

Perhaps the increasingly popular premise, that to air a belief is to normalize it, renders a society least able to contest wrongheaded ideas precisely when it is most vital.

Source: Forget What Is Normal, Champion What Is Just – The Atlantic

Wonky Thoughts: The Scientific Method, Redefined

The process of objective reasoning is essential not only to science, but to most other aspects of civilization, including government, law, economics, journalism, education and medicine.

The premise is that objective truth exists, and that it is accessible by everyone. The scientific method is the process by which we analyze the world around us to illuminate objective truth for ourselves and others.

Explanations matter. Equations without explanations are empty, and their predictions limited.

A good explanation:

  • Must define a process which changes some aspect of reality.
  • The process must be observed in action.
  • The process must be measured and quantified.
  • The explanation must reconcile theory and observation.
  • The work must meet the standards of objectivity listed above as ancillary elements of the scientific method.
  • The explanation must be verified through successful prediction of experimental results or observations of real-world changes.
  • The explanation will often explain other phenomena in areas unrelated to the initial inquiry.

Source: Wonky Thoughts: The Scientific Method, Redefined

News Sources

Which news sources should we believe, when there are so many to choose from, and each one is telling you not to believe another one?

by Vanessa Otero

You have to evaluate media based on something other than the fact that one source told you not to listen to another source.

Remember that journalism is a professional and academic field with a set of agreed-upon standards. People get degrees in it and people who are really good at it get jobs in it at good organizations.

Source: Vanessa Otero

 

We all have to get our information from somewhere. Remember that everyone at least unconsciously has a diagram like this in their mind which they use to evaluate new information based on their past experience with various sources of information. This diagram is not mine. This diagram is probably not yours. But everyone that can see an article’s source and has past experience with that source will have preconceptions about the credibility of the article’s content.

The UK’s Investigatory Powers Act allows the State to tell lies in court • The Register

Enshrining parallel construction in English law

Section 56 of the act as passed sets out a number of matters that are now prohibited from being brought up in court. The exact wording of section 56(1) is as follows:

Exclusion of matters from legal proceedings etc.
(1) No evidence may be adduced, question asked, assertion or disclosure made or other thing done in, for the purposes of or in connection with any legal proceedings or Inquiries Act proceedings which (in any manner)—

(a) discloses, in circumstances from which its origin in interception-related conduct may be inferred—

(i) any content of an intercepted communication, or

(ii) any secondary data obtained from a communication, or

(b) tends to suggest that any interception-related conduct has or may have occurred or may be going to occur.

This is subject to Schedule 3 (exceptions).

Section 56(1)(b) creates a legally guaranteed ability – nay, duty – to lie about even the potential for State hacking to take place, and to tell juries a wholly fictitious story about the true origins of hacked material used against defendants in order to secure criminal convictions. This is incredibly dangerous.

There is no point in having punishments for lawbreakers if it is illegal to talk about their law-breaking behaviour.

Source: The UK’s Investigatory Powers Act allows the State to tell lies in court • The Register

CIA Secret Assessment – Russian Interference With U.S. Election

NPR has confirmed that intelligence officials say it’s now “quite clear” Russian hackers worked to tip the presidency in Donald Trump’s favor. Trump’s transition team has dismissed the assessment.

Source: CIA Secret Assessment Says Russia Interfered With U.S. Election To Help Donald Trump Win : The Two-Way : NPR

 

“What worries me is the extent to which this is an ongoing pattern — which, by the way, is the Russians’ pattern in other parts of the world.

And is that going to be the case in our elections? Four years from now, are we going to have the Democrats, the Republicans, the independents and the Russians? I mean, this is very serious stuff.”

— Senator Angus King, an independent senator from Maine

 

Deep down in its article, the Post notes — rather critically — that “there were minor disagreements among intelligence officials about the agency’s assessment, in part because some questions remain unanswered.” Most importantly, the Post adds that “intelligence agencies do not have specific intelligence showing officials in the Kremlin ‘directing’ the identified individuals to pass the Democratic emails to WikiLeaks.”

Most important of all, the more serious the claim is — and accusing a nuclear-armed power of directly and deliberately interfering in the U.S. election in order to help the winning candidate is about as serious as a claim can get — the more important it is to demand evidence before believing it. Wars have started over far less serious claims than this one.

Source: Anonymous Leaks to the WashPost About the CIA’s Russia Beliefs Are No Substitute for Evidence — The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald

Donald Trump is right: Free trade is broken, but his “fix” would only make things worse. — Quartz

Starting with Ronald Reagan, one after another, American presidents of both parties have oversimplified and overemphasized the benefits of free trade, without pausing to study its costs, and who was paying them

Trump has correctly identified a problem. But by focusing only on free trade deals he risks repeating the very mistakes that conjured him forth in the first place.

International free trade theory ultimately rests on this Ricardian bedrock: Free trade is a win-win, and not a zero-sum, proposition. … But that’s only part of the picture. Sometimes free trade isn’t a win-win at all. When a business shuts down due to its country’s loss of comparative advantage in that industry, people lose their jobs. Finding work in an entirely different sector is seldom as peachy as Ricardo’s model makes it seem.

The Keynes-based policies of the postwar era were designed with the understanding that workers were also consumers—a fundamental engine of demand. Making sure they had enough money in their pockets to buy goods kept the economy chugging along.

Though you’ll often hear people say that Nafta let Mexicans steal American jobs, this rhetoric distracts from a far more fundamental dynamic of trade—that workers in all countries benefit from rules that prevent corporations from exploiting them.

What economists seldom explain is that the only way for the US to gain from cheaper production in China is by giving up those same jobs at home, according to Ricardo’s model, and employing laid-off workers in more sophisticated, better-paying jobs.

Ricardo didn’t account for what happens when another country devalues its currencies against the dollar, forcing the US to run a chronic current account deficit. When this happens, the cheapness of imported goods enjoyed by American consumers doesn’t come from comparative advantage. These supposed “gains from trade” result from one country suppressing its people’s purchasing power in exchange for propping up employment. The US gets the opposite: excessive consumption and job loss. Until those imbalances readjust, America’s trade deficit will persist—and so will joblessness among its lower-skilled workers.

Just as free trade itself didn’t cause America’s lost jobs and stagnant wages, neither will restricting it fix those problems. Winning global cooperation on exchange rates would help—a lot. But ultimately, to make free trade fair again, instead of “bringing back jobs,” America’s new president should also invest in creating new ones.

Source: Donald Trump is right: Free trade is broken, but his “fix” would only make things worse. — Quartz

The most disruptive phase of globalization is just beginning, according to economist Richard Baldwin — Quartz

Baldwin argues that globalization takes shape in three distinct stages: the ability to move goods, then ideas, and finally people.

Technology will bring globalization to the people-centric service sector, upending far more jobs in rich countries than the decline in manufacturing has in recent decades. … The disruption won’t come because people will move more freely across borders, but because technologies will provide “a substitute for being there,” Baldwin says.

even if we put up trade barriers, the jobs we protect will be for robots, not people

You say governments need to do more for the losers of globalization. How?

We have to look for inspiration from northern European countries who have comprehensive retraining, help with housing, help with relocation. Typically they have the unions, governments, and companies working together to try and keep the social cohesion. It doesn’t always work, but at least they try and most people feel that the government is helping them.

Source: The most disruptive phase of globalization is just beginning, according to economist Richard Baldwin — Quartz