Tuesday Highlights

Good morning to y’all!

  1. Newsflash, some fired employees are disgruntled.
  2. Duh.
  3. Having taught two daughters to drive stick … it’s really not that hard. I suspect fictional exaggeration.
  4. Same sex marriage.
  5. Hmm. Not impressed with US foreign policy I suspect.
  6. Pretty pistol … one slipped past quality checks however.
  7. Chronology of drone strike procedures, aka how we changed in our ways of committing undeclared acts of war.
  8. There’s a slang term for that, “short eyes” … the answer isn’t covering the girls … its jailing the pervs (and in a place were short eyes is a de facto death sentence by fellow convict for the convicted). Remember the movie “Stick”?
  9. So, now everyone knows about Richard III. Here’s an excellent book on his life by one of the best writers of English historical fiction in the stacks.
  10. Hence …. dismal science.
  11. Heh … and we have found the heel to fill it.
  12. Uh. Riiiight. ;)
  13. Don’t worry, the liberal elite think SSM is more important (even though the numbers affected are basically on par).

31 Responses to Tuesday Highlights

  1. Don’t worry, the liberal elite think SSM is more important (even though the numbers affected are basically on par).

    I’ll trade with you. You support making SSM legal in every state where it isn’t and I’ll support making human sex traffiking a crime in every state where it’s legal.

  2. Hence …. dismal science.

    Dismal science doesn’t refer to poor predictions but to the implications of diminishing returns (same way entropy might justify calling physics a dismal science too).

    But are the predictions really that poor? Ask economists will the inflation rate in the US over the next ten years be withing -10% to +10% and nearly 100% will say yes. Switch to -5% to +5% and fewer will say yes but probably a majority. Narrow the range more and you’ll get more disagreement.

    Is that better than chance? Well inflation has ranged from maybe -20% to thousands of percent in the cases of hyperinflation. Picking a random number from -20%-1000% is highly unlikely to yield you somewhere between -10% and +10%. But what if you picked a random number between 0% and 10%? In that case you very well might be better on average than economists’ predictions.

    It would seem that it’s easy to take for granted a large measure of accuracy in predictions. Randomness only wins when you reduce the error bars sufficiently to make it win.

  3. Boonton,
    I see. “Make it illegal” and problem solved. Hmmm. Is that the only thing you could imagine doing to fight human trafficking? JA used to note that atheists and liberals were so much smarter than believers and conservatives. Your ability to find policy beyond “make it illegal” is a counter argument to his claim.

    Seriously, driving over 55 (65 in some spots) on highways is illegal. Which is why it never ever ever occurs and nobody ever talks about speed limits. Case closed. Automatic firearms have been illegal in the US since the turn of the last century. Which is why nobody uses them or talks about their use. ‘case the case is closed .. “it’s illegal”.

    Can you name any issues progressives have on their radar in which people are doing things against the law but which still are discussed? There are many. The problem is, I think, the Sudan/Congo issue. For whatever reason, and logic ain’t part of it, this SSM issue is a hot button one. Y’all think it is really really important and as a result many other, quite likely more important more pressing issues from a humanitarian/human rights perspective are ignored.

  4. Boonton,
    Golly, you are very sensitive. Yes. We’ve discussed dismal science and how it started from Malthusian predictions and so on.

    But are the predictions really that poor?

    Yep. Pretty much so.

    Randomness only wins when you reduce the error bars sufficiently to make it win.

    And now you see why cosmology theorists get mocked by the rest of the physics world for putting their error bars in the exponent.

  5. I see. “Make it illegal” and problem solved. Hmmm. Is that the only thing you could imagine doing to fight human trafficking?

    Actually at night time I done a costume and beat up pimps and traffickers on the mean streets of NJ. But more seriously what exactly are you doing to fight traficking? In fact every time you push the argument “we shouldn’t have SSM because X is more important” it’s very obvious that X isn’t important at all to you except as a wedge to avoid SSM (as in “we shouldn’t have SSM until we solve X, and since X will never be solved we should never have SSM”). If human trafficking is so important to you, why did you precede the point with 3 points that are much less important?

    And now you see why cosmology theorists get mocked by the rest of the physics world for putting their error bars in the exponent.

    Gotta better science to describe the universe on the macro scale? While it may sound trivial even just getting the sign right can be pretty impressive. For example, knowing the universe is expanding and that expansion is speeding up is a pretty amazing thing.

  6. Boonton,

    If human trafficking is so important to you, why did you precede the point with 3 points that are much less important?

    You contend (implicitly) that SSM is more important an issue than human trafficking. You’re not making your argument well. I’ve argued specifically that SSM is not very important. Look. Back when I had time in my life and my kids were younger (and looking forward in a few years to the kids being not-at-home and time returning) I wrote essays 5 days a week. Then you could count how important this was … and I about the same number of essays on the two topics. Furthermore I’d contend that volunteering at a homeless shelter (as opposed to picketing or doing activist actvities for/against SSM) demonstrates I personally find the trafficking issue more important. And … in daily life in conversations with real-live people which arises more often … or are they about the same. ‘Cause I don’t remember the last not-network related time I had a SSM discussion with anyone. So … it’s not important to me.

    And remember, my claim is that it should be more important than SSM. Not that it is more important than any other given topic or issue. Finally. I’m treading water here as a links blogger … I link what people talk about, whether or not I think the topic (SSM) is of high importance, it’s going to get the link coverage it does because it comes up in the blogs I’ve put in my reader feed talk about it. I personally feel they should talk about the trafficking issue more than the SSM one, but my notions aren’t moving mainstream discussions, alas.

    So … stop dodging. Why do you think the one more important than the other? Just ’cause trafficking is illegal? Is that the reason you can ignore it? Really? You truly think our society is doing everything it could to stop it?

    Gotta better science to describe the universe on the macro scale?

    Seriously? You don’t think putting a +/- 5 in the exponent warrants a little teasing? Geesh.

  7. I would contend few if any essays you ever wrote had anything to do with trafficking. Granted I only came to this blog a few years ago….perhaps you wrote about it extensively when your kids were 5 but somehow I doubt it. As for volunteering at a homeless shelter, sorry that really has little or nothing to do with trafficking. I suppose the shelter might have helped a few people who escaped trafficking but if you’re going to get that indirect then almost anything might be said to be ‘fighting trafficking’. (I.e. I drink coffee at Starbucks, Starbucks keeps the street well lite and family friendly, if Starbucks went out of business shady enterprises might move in etc. hence every latte I gulp keeps young Asian girls from being forced to staff massage parlors run by the Russian mafia!)

    So … stop dodging. Why do you think the one more important than the other?

    You reserve the right to be a ‘links blogger’ and write and comment about lots of other things without declaring one is ‘more important’ yet you deny it to me?! People choose to focus on different things for a host of reasons beyond simply ranking what is more or less important. One could say, for example, the earth being impacted by a huge asteroid is the most important thing around since the extinction of the entire human race would be a bad outcome compared to the non-extinction of the human race (even if the non-extinct universe has some who are victimized by traffickers). Does it follow then that everyone who has not made that their top focus is indifferent to the mass destruction of all life on earth?

    Just ’cause trafficking is illegal? Is that the reason you can ignore it?

    Ahhh but I didn’t, I asked you where is it legal and I’ll support making it illegal. If you have a state where it’s legal, I would say that it would be very important to make it illegal there. Would that ‘solve’ the problem? Of course not. But once you got it illegal the difficulty of finding solutions goes up. On the other hand, SSM is simply a matter of making something a law or not. That policy can be easily debated and evaluated without taking away any state’s ability to fight trafficking.

    So we return to what are you doing to show how important trafficking is? The answer seems to be nothing, ‘cept to keep reminding us how important trafficking is whenever you want to change the subject of the conversation….which ironically says that trafficking isn’t really all that important to you.

    Seriously? You don’t think putting a +/- 5 in the exponent warrants a little teasing? Geesh.

    Indeed it does, but just a little bit of teasing.

  8. Boonton,

    I would contend few if any essays you ever wrote had anything to do with trafficking.

    I agree. I also wrote very few on SSM and those that I did were prompted by people like you (I wrote at least one for you in response to the insinuation that there were no secular arguments against it, which I provided for you).

    I’m sorry … did I mention the shelter I volunteer at is for homeless women (and the connection between prostitution, homelessness and trafficking is far closer than buying coffee at overpriced coffee shops).

    …write and comment about lots of other things without declaring one is ‘more important’ yet you deny it to me?! […] Does it follow then that everyone who has not made that their top focus is indifferent to the mass destruction of all life on earth?< ?blockquote>Sorry. I don’t “deny” it. I merely point out the Sudan/Congo dissonance is followed here.

    On the other hand, SSM is simply a matter of making something a law or not.

    But you’re missing the point. You have ~200k people becoming slaves and about the same number who want to get state sponsored marriage licenses. On the one hand, there are people who are enslaved, abused, have a short life expectancy, drugged, and have many many horriffic things occur to them. One the other hand you have (mostly) wealthy dinks (dink = dual income no kids) who want more legal benefits. Which is the more pressing issue? Why is this even a question? Why do religious group, liberal protesters &c all get in arms about the one and ignore the other. Numerically they are on a par, ethically and from a humanitarian perspective there is a clear difference.

    I suggested it’s the same reason that for a decade the intelligentsia were decrying genocide in the Sudan when 10-100 more people were dying of genocidal violence in the Congo. Why did the former get press and not the latter. I have no clue, but it seems misguided to me …

  9. Boonton,

    Indeed it does, but just a little bit of teasing.

    Exactly what they got.

  10. Which is the more pressing issue?

    The more pressing issue is a combination of both the harm that can be avoided AND the amount of energy that needs to be applied to reduce that harm. Given that much trafficking happens in 3rd world countries and by shady criminal netowrks, it’s pretty clear that there is no simple change of law that will solve the problem of 200K people becoming slaves. If you think there is please share the law with me and I’ll give you all possible support.

    this same principle applies to you…it explains why you clean up your basement even though Syria or the Congo is such a bigger mess that causes much more heartache for humanity. If you could stop suffering in Syria as easily as you could clean up your basement, I’d agree to call you a monster if you choose to clean the basement. Since you can’t fix Syria easily, your wife has her priorities perfectly aligned if she chooses to nag you over the mess in the basement.

  11. Boonton

    The more pressing issue is a combination of both the harm that can be avoided AND the amount of energy that needs to be applied to reduce that harm

    Millions of hours and likely billions of dollars have been spent in the SSM discussion, campaigns and arguments. How much suffering has been avoided, very little. How much suffering could have been avoided if this effort went to raising awareness and combating trafficking? A lot more than was touched with the SSM affaire.

    But basically you are right. How much harm can be avoided is the key point, because the harm present in the trafficking side is more than a few orders of magnitude higher any (small) impact you make is likely to be far more than all the harm put together on the SSM side of the fence. It’s kind like improving from 2 mpg to 3 gets you more improvement than anything you can do in a car that gets better than 50.

  12. Boonton,
    The point being a small improvement is likely to alleviate more than all the harm put together on the other side.

  13. You’re not thinking in terms of marginal benefit. You have 4-5 hours free on a Saturday. Let’s say you can clean your basement or work for peace in Syria. Clearly if you could accomplish either in 4-5 hours, you should choose Syria or else you’d be a selfish monster.

    But you can’t, 4-5 hours ‘working on Syria’ would likely produce nothing but 4-5 hours working on your basement will make a very nice basement…and keep you wife off your back.

    But just say your daughter likes messy basements. She tells you you should care more about Syria and while you’re cleaning she starts throwing boxes off the shelves, making mess behind you. So now it takes you 8 hours to clean the basement. Does your daughter really care about Syria? If she helped you the job could have been done in 2 hours giving 2-3 hours you guys could have worked on Syria. Instead she raised the price you paid for doing your basement so much you have even less time for other activies.

    A logical conclusion here is that your daughter really cares more about mess than Syria and Syria is just a red herring she used to justify her behavior.

    The LDS Church spent millions of dollars and man hours fighting SSM. Why didn’t it put that into a grassroots anti-trafficking effort? You reasoning seems to be they care more about gays getting married than they care about innocents being held as sex slaves. But another explanation is that given what they could reasonably do with their volunteers and funds, they could accomplish what in their mind was more good by stopping SSM than doing an anti-trafficking movement that would accomplish little actual results.

    Another word for this is the Paradox of Value.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox_of_value

  14. Boonton,
    Your paradox of value isn’t explaining why SSM wins out over trafficking in the press and the notion that this (SSM) not the other is the burning issue of the day. Just like I don’t understand how the Sudan won over the Congo. I don’t think the paradox of value explains it. I suspect it’s a herd thing, people don’t think, don’t read and talk about what the other guy is talking about.

  15. I think it would. Imagine if a state had legal trafficking. I think horror stories about innocent college girls on spring break being kidnapped and taken to state X would easily trump more dry debates about SSM (and SSM debates do seem to be dying out after the flash in the pan effect when it seemed anti-SSM advocates might have had enough of an edge to get a constitutional ban going). But no state legalizes it and it costs money to send reporters to third world countries to report about it overseas (and unlike, say, covering a civil war in Syria, trafficking is the type of story that requires a lot of sources and connections, you can’t just get off the airport in Thailand and ask where you can meet traffickers….notice for example there’s lot of stories ’bout Mexican narcowars but you don’t see many stories reporting directly from inside the drug cartels).

    Hence for, say, CNN you get the same effect as cleaning out your basement vs. solving the Syrian war. CNN would probably love to get its hands on a well researched, in depth undercover report about worldwide trafficking. But given a midlle level experience reporter and a $5,000 expense account it’s easier to go to DC and report about the SC taking on a SSM case.

  16. Boonton,
    We’re not talking about overseas trafficking. We’re talking about domestic trafficking. Just Saturday the Chicago paper ran a piece about a guy in a brownstone near O’Hare who held 5 women in his house for years … that didn’t cost them much. Last week there was an article about a woman who finally got out of the trafficking network … and highlighted how women in the system aren’t aware that there are avenues out. Those billions spent, if spent instead of on SSM were on raising awareness of pathways for women to get clear … would do a lot more good at lessening suffering than how it is spent.

    Yes. “It’s illegal” but how many resources are spent trying to combat it? Likely (again) less than the activists spend trying to help upper middle class dinks gets some legal benefits. Right?

  17. Just Saturday the Chicago paper ran a piece about a guy in a brownstone near O’Hare who held 5 women in his house for years

    So the media covered a local trafficking case. What’s the problem again?

    Explore, how did the case come to light? What circumstances brought the brownstone to the attention of the media and law enforcement? It sounds like the man had taken steps to make his operation ‘under cover’. Why would he have done that? Because a more obvious trafficking operation would have attracted unwanted attention faster in Chicago than it would in some developing countries.

  18. Boonton,

    So the media covered a local trafficking case. What’s the problem again?

    The problem is you said they would cover Syria instead of this.

    Because a more obvious trafficking operation would have attracted unwanted attention faster in Chicago than it would in some developing countries.

    Not following you here.

    Again, you have not explained why anyone should care more about SSM than trafficking.

  19. So tell me how did the story about the brownstone break?

  20. Boonton,
    OK. I’ll check that tonight. What impact does the source of the story have on your claim that SSM trumps trafficking in importance?

  21. Boonton,
    A twice weekly columnist (John Kass) wrote a Sunday piece on a Feb. 1 DA indictment. Apparently three individuals two men, one women kept 6 women enslaved near O’Hare for a number of years. One of them drove them around and ran them as prostitutes. They were chained in the basement and drugged regularly … other abuses mentioned. They lived in a two flat, their upstairs neighbors didn’t notice a thing. Thought they were friendly.

  22. Boonton,
    Oh … that came out on the 10th. No mention that I recall was in the papers between Feb 1 and 10 besides that.

  23. OK but how did the thing get discovered? Did someone escape? An investigation?

  24. Boonton,
    OK. Googling the names, they’ve gotten some noteriety. There’s a “huffpo” article. Here’s a local news report. None of the articles mention how they got caught. The Kass article mentions interviews with neighbors and schoolkids, the former didn’t notice anything (talked about grilling with the guy) and school kids noticed the cute girls passing by in work clothing.

  25. So the ‘basement cleaning v Syria’ question’s answer isn’t stable. Police make a bust, the local DA calls a press conference. What’s easier then for a local paper to cover? They have a police beat reporter, a local guy to cover DA press conferences. They don’t have anyone to send off to Syria. So that gets coverage.

    On the other hand suppose no trafficking had been uncovered. What would be easier….send off an under cover reporter to try to find it or cover the city council that’s debating a SSM proposal?

  26. Boonton,
    We’re not talking about what is easier, but which has the most marginal humanitarian value. Clearly the answer is trafficking, largely because of the 3 vs 50 mpg issue. If your actions do just a little to help the trafficking problem you’ve just relieved all the possible harm you can imagine from the SSM side.

  27. We’re not talking about what is easier, but which has the most marginal humanitarian value

    Given the perps have already been arrested, reporting about them would seem to have little humanitarian value. Abenst special knowledge, sending a reporter out who has no leads to try to find trafficking for, say, 5 hours prioir to deadline, is unlikely to find anything while a report about Syria from newswires will. Same way 4-5 hours for you is likely to clean the basement but highly unlikely to do anytihng about Syria or trafficking.

  28. Boonton,

    reporting about them would seem to have little humanitarian value

    I’m unclear on why you figure “reporting” to be the first and only thing humanitarian aid might supply.

  29. I’m unclear on why you figure “reporting” to be the first and only thing humanitarian aid might supply.

    You were talking about reporting which is what news stations and newspapers do. I suppose if you’re going to talk about everything else then yea all of Chicago’s Burger Kings paid more attention to making hamburgers than stopping trafficking.

  30. Boonton,
    If you read back, I made early reference to activists and those funds spend campaigning and raising awareness on the SSM affair might be better spent raising awareness and helping people get out of slavery. That was clearly not “just” journalism … and also clearly not making burgers.

  31. And why not burgers? Why are activists suppose to prioritize things but not others? What about those who spend their time building up burger joints and those who go to them? Why aren’t they doing something about trafficking!?

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