Posts Tagged ‘robots’

LinkSwarm for August 11, 2017

Friday, August 11th, 2017

North Korea is making crazy threats again, which at this point is a dog-bites-man type story if ever there was one. They’ve done this sort of crazy lunatic invalid sabre-rattling before and, if President Trump doesn’t end up wiping them off the map entirely, will undoubtedly do it again. But it doesn’t change the underlying dynamic of the situation: North Korea can hurt us, but we can completely erase North Korea from the Prime Material Plane. So unless actual military action occurs, I doubt I have much to say (or link to) on North Korea…

  • NSA says no Russian hack of DNC computers. “Hard science now demonstrates it was a leak—a download executed locally with a memory key or a similarly portable data-storage device. In short, it was an inside job by someone with access to the DNC’s system.” Will the Trump Derangement Brigades finally let go of their Russian hacking fantasy? (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Why Does the Left Suddenly Hate Russia?”

    The new progressive hatred of Russia is baffling. Of course, Vladimir Putin is a thug and a killer who in the grand tradition of Russian autocracy has no intention ever of holding free elections. But he is perhaps no more a murderer than are the Castro brothers in Cuba, with whom we have concluded a détente and who have no arsenal capable of destroying the U.S.

    Putin is no more or less trustworthy than are the Iranians, with whom in 2015 we cut a deal on nuclear proliferation and who are far more likely than the Russians to send a nuclear missile into Israel someday. Putin’s brutal suppression of the press recalls the ongoing repression by President Recep Erdogan of Turkey — a linchpin member of NATO.

    There is no freedom in China. The Communists still in control have the blood of 50 million Chinese dead on their hands from Mao’s brutal revolutions and genocides. Yet we enjoy all sorts of cultural, political, and economic bipartisan relationships with China, whose nuclear patronage of North Korea has done more damage to U.S. security than any plot from the dark mind of Vladimir Putin.

    In terms of Russia’s macabre history, Putin is a piker compared with Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin, who may have orchestrated the deaths of 20 million Russians. After December 1941, the United States concluded a “Big Three” wartime pact with Stalin and supplied 20 percent of the Soviet Union’s wartime resources and arms — some of it later lavishly recycled to post-war Communist uprisings around the globe.

  • “Australian terror suspect planted plane bomb on brother.” And of course the BBC puts this information 17 paragraphs into the story: “The two suspects – Khaled Khayat, 49, and Mahmoud Khayat, 32.”
  • Democrats are screwed in 2018…and beyond:

    Even if Democrats were to win every single 2018 House and Senate race for seats representing places that Hillary Clinton won or that Trump won by less than 3 percentage points — a pretty good midterm by historical standards — they could still fall short of the House majority and lose five Senate seats.

    Snip.

    In the last few decades, Democrats have expanded their advantages in California and New York — states with huge urban centers that combined to give Clinton a 6 million vote edge, more than twice her national margin. But those two states elect only 4 percent of the Senate. Meanwhile, Republicans have made huge advances in small rural states — think Arkansas, North and South Dakota, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana and West Virginia — that wield disproportionate power in the upper chamber compared to their populations.

    Snip.

    Consider: In 1980, there were 18 states where the presidential margin was at least 5 points more Democratic than the national result, 18 states where it was at least 5 points more Republican than the national result and 14 states in between. Hypothetically, over three successive election cycles, all either party needed to do to win a Senate majority was win all 36 of the seats in the friendly states plus at least 15 of the 28 swing-state seats.

    Today, Republicans don’t even need to win any “swing states” to win a Senate majority: 52 seats are in states where the 2016 presidential margin was at least 5 percentage points more Republican than the national outcome. By contrast, there are just 28 seats in states where the margin was at least 5 points more Democratic, and only 20 seats in swing states.

  • 23% of federal prisoners are illegal aliens.
  • Former “sanctuary cities” in Clark County in Nevada and Miami-Dade County in Florida have confirmed they’re now in compliance with federal immigration law. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “For Fear Of Leaks, Google Cancels All-Hands Meeting Over Engineer Firing Fiasco.” Google went full Social Justice Warrior. Never go full Social Justice Warrior…
  • Christina Hoff Sommers: “Google has excommunicated James Damore for crimes against the Pink Police State.”
  • Trump Appoints More Judges in 200 Days Than Obama, Bush, Clinton.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Perhaps the Second Amendment is the black man’s ultimate sign of full citizenship.” Also this: “The National African-American Gun Association he founded has grown from 800 to 20,000 members since 2015.” Though the piece is marbled with the usual leftwing “America the racist” framing. (Hat tip: Shall not Be Questioned.)
  • This is, I think, a grave miscarriage of justice: man convicted of DUI for driving in and out of his own garage while drunk, never leaving his own property, which strikes me as a takings clause violation.
  • Julian Castro forms a PAC. Possibly eyeing a 2020 Presidential run? Well he’s certainly not going to win statewide…
  • Democrats “pro-worker” policies hurt workers. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Why is Spain arresting European journalists on Turkey’s behalf? Swedish citizen Hamza Yalcin is in jail for “treason” which seems to mean “criticizing the Erdogan regime.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • How Japan could have won World War II. “Win” in this case is not “pummeling America into submission” (impossible) but “making the costs of a protracted war so high that it avoids defeat.” Not striking Pearl Harbor was one key possibility. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Giant mech fight! Finally, the 21st Century I was promised! (The headline says “robots” but the video clearly shows piloted vehicles.) Now, from an actual military standpoint, that under-armored, under-powered mech is going to last about 15 seconds on a real battlefield and could be taken out by a single RPG (or any 8-year quick enough to jam a crowbar into the exposed, undersized tread gears), much less a real tank…
  • NY Times Editors Deny Reading Their Own Newspaper.”
  • “Emails Show WaPo, NYT Reporters Didn’t Want to Cover Clinton-Lynch Tarmac Meeting.”
  • Paper beats rock. Rock beats Mexican. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • I hate linking to ESPN given its SJW turn, but this profile of fighter Conor McGregor was too good not to.
  • Neanderthal cave structure dated to 176,500 years ago.
  • The fate of Viking settlers in Greenland. (Hat tip: Jerry Pournelle.)
  • Tweets:

    I encourage Antifa to buy a Soviet tank. They’ll discover tanks are cool, which will be a gateway drug to learning that guns are cool, after which it’s only a matter of time until they’re eating BBQ, driving pickup trucks and listening to Garth Brooks…

  • Texas vs. California Update for January 12, 2017

    Thursday, January 12th, 2017

    It’s been a long time since I compiled one of these, so this is going to be monstrously large. Also, just as I was finishing this up, the San Diego Chargers announced they were moving to Los Angeles. Hell, LA has proven in the past it’s incapable of adequately supporting one NFL franchise, much less two…

  • When you look at the full recession records, not just the last few years, Texas is still kicking California’s ass. “Over that time frame, Texas has grown more than THREE TIMES FASTER than California. Actually 3.4 times faster (Texas grew at a 4.1% annual rate vs. 1.2% for California).” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “A just released study calculates the total state and local government debt in California as of June 30, 2015, at over $1.3 trillion.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • California faces its first budget deficit since 2012. Or at least it’s first official deficit since then. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • A second judge, this one on the California First District Court of Appeal, rules that public pensions may be modified.
  • The California Democratic Party has gone hard left, and it’s taking the rest of the state with it:

    Increasingly, inside the party, it’s been the furthest Left candidates that win. In the Democrat-only Sanchez vs. Harris race for the U.S. Senate, the more progressive candidate triumphed easily, with a more moderate Latina from Southern California decimated by the better funded lock-step, glamorous tool of the San Francisco gentry Left.

    Gradually, the key swing group — the “business Democrats” — are being decimated, hounded by ultra-green San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer and his minions. No restraint is being imposed on Gov. Brown’s increasingly obsessive climate change agenda, or on the public employee unions, whose pensions could sink the state’s finances, particularly in a downturn.

    The interior parts of California already rank near the bottom, along with Los Angeles, in terms of standard of living — by incomes, as opposed to costs — in the nation. Compared to the Bay Area, which now rules the state, the more blue-collar, Latino and African American interior, as well as much of Los Angeles, account for six of the 15 worst areas in terms of living standard out of 106 metropolitan areas, according to a recent report by Center for Opportunity Urbanism demographer Wendell Cox.

    Given the political trends here, it’s hard to see how things could get much better. The fact that most new jobs in Southern California are in lower-paying occupations is hardly promising. In contrast, generally better-paying jobs in manufacturing, home-building and warehousing face ever-growing regulatory strangulation.

    Sadly, the ascendant Latino political leadership seems determined to accelerate this process. In both Riverside and San Bernardino, pro-business candidates, including San Bernardino Democrat Cheryl Brown, lost to green-backed Latino progressives.

    For whatever reason, Latino voters and their elected officials fail to recognize that the increasingly harsh climate change agenda represents a mortal threat to their own prospects for upward mobility. Before this week’s election, California policy makers could look forward to Washington imposing such policies on the rest of the country; now our competitor regions — including Utah, Arizona, Nevada and Texas — can double down on growth. Expect to see more migration of ambitious Californians, particularly Latinos, to these areas.

    California is on the road to a bifurcated, almost feudal, society, divided by geography, race and class. As is clear from the most recent Internal Revenue Service data, it’s not just the poor and ill-educated, as Brown apologists suggest, but, rather, primarily young families and the middle-aged, who are leaving. What will be left is a state dominated by a growing, but relatively small, upper class, many of them boomers; young singles and a massive, growing, increasingly marginalized “precariat” of low wage, often occasional, workers.

  • Sanctuary cities might drive California into bankruptcy:

    California is about to face the music as Donald Trump becomes 45th President of the United States. Their Sanctuary Cities violate federal law and after Jeff Sessions is confirmed as Attorney General (and he will be), they are going to either have to knock that off or have funding to their law enforcement and their government stripped away. Sessions can’t wait and I have to say, I will enjoy watching this showdown. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that Trump pulling 37% of federal funding for their governments would cause chaos and upheaval. Yes, it will… it will also cause California to go absolutely toes up bankrupt.

    It’s simple. They can either follow the rule of law, or the free flow of money from DC gets cut off. In 2015, that amounted to about $93.6 billion. That’s a lot of money to turn away because you insist on not following the law. Let’s see how long that lasts. I love the thought of this. It’s about time Sanctuary Cities were stopped and this is an excellent way to do it. New York, Chicago and DC will all face the same choice by the way. Imagine the meltdown. Good times.

  • “California paid LESS to the feds per capita than Texas. California got MORE back per capita from the feds than Texas.” Freeloaders love the Blue State model… (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Another way of looking at California’s economy:

    California has 39 million people — 43% larger than the 2nd largest state (Texas). Such GDP comparisons don’t tell us much in terms of the PROSPERITY of a nation. Or a state.

    The proper comparison is PER CAPITA GDP. Using that more meaningful figure, CA is the 10th most prosperous state.

    But an even MORE accurate comparison is to take the per capital GDP and adjust it for COL. Because of California’s high taxes, crazy utility laws, stifling regulations (paid by consumers) and sky-high housing costs, CA in 2014 ranked WAY down in 37th place. Only 13 states were worse.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • Same as it ever was:

    Governor Jerry Brown announced today that the budget was $1.4 billion in deficit. At the end of last year, the state announced that it was giving state employees a raise which would cost taxpayers over $2 billion over the next four years. Do you think there is a connection?

    A story ran locally in Southern California saying that over 105 employees in Santa Monica, a medium sized city, earn over $300,000 a year. The Governor of the state of California earns $174,000 per year. If you do the research, you will find that there are over 200 state employees that earn more than that

    When I was deciding what I wanted to do in my younger years, my mother told me I should go to work for the government, good benefits she said. I knew I would be bored and would die young if I became a government drone. My little sister listened to her. Today, my little sister is retired on a great government pension, I still fight to pay my taxes. Given the pay that even the lowest government official receives, my mother was right.

    Our government pension system is over $500 billion upside down. Retired state employee health benefits add an additional $300 billion or more to that deficit. The system is out of control. Pay and benefits to government employees at state and local levels is incomprehensible, and the government leaders still come to you and I and ask us to foot the bill for their indulgences.

    What is even more evil about the system is that government unions, led by thugs who force people to pay union dues for the privilege of having a government job, take the money from the government employees and put it into the political system to pay for the campaigns of the Governor, statewide elected officials, legislators and city councils with whom these unions then negotiate for the out-of-control pay and benefits. If anyone tries to limit them, as I once tried by tying everybody’s salaries to the Governor’s salary, they are marked for political defeat. And the system perpetuates itself, taxes to employees to unions to politicians, as it did in the Soviet Union, until the whole system collapses.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • California has stopped growing:

    Driven by rising out-migration and falling birth rates, California’s population growth has stalled, leading analysts to consider a possible forecast of a so-called “no-growth” period in the future.

    Although Americans nationwide have been flooding south and west for years, the Golden State has become an exception. Nearly 62 percent of Americans lived in the two regions, Justin Fox observed from Census figures. “That’s up from 60.4 percent in the 2010 census, 58.1 percent in 2000, 55.6 percent in 1990 — and 44 percent in 1950. The big anomaly is California, which is very much in the West, yet has lost an estimated 383,344 residents to other states since 2010.”

    “The state’s birth rate declined to 12.42 births per 1,000 population in 2016 — the lowest in California history,” the San Jose Mercury News noted, citing a state Department of Finance report. “In 2010, the last time figures were compiled, the birth rate was 13.69 per 1,000 population.”

  • California Democrats legalize child prostitution.” (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • Some are objecting to the term “legalization”.
  • California Democrats vote to line Eric Holder’s pockets:

    Last week California’s progressive lawmakers announced that they’ve put former Attorney General Eric Holder, now a Covington & Burling partner, on retainer as the state’s outside counsel. “This is potentially the legal fight of a generation, and with Eric Holder we’ve added a world-class lawyer,’’ said Senate majority leader Kevin de León.

    This is odd. Typically states hire outside counsel for help with specific cases, but the legislature is paying Mr. Holder $25,000 a month for three months under the initial contract, apparently for 40 hours a month and the privilege of his attention if something comes up.

  • At least one California assemblyman thinks that the Holder deal is illegal. “California courts have interpreted the civil service mandate of article VII of forbidding private contracting for services that are of a kind that persons selected through civil service could perform ‘adequately and competently.'”
  • In California, robots are replacing people in warehouse work. The minimum wage is mentioned, but only in passing.
  • California is the state third most likely to enter a death spiral in a recession. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to increase their own salaries by more than $19,000 a year, despite public comment from dozens of opponents.”
  • “California state firefighters will receive substantial raises of up to 13.8 percent this year, according to newly released details from a proposed contract that their union negotiated just before Christmas.” Just the thing a state with a budget deficit needs…
  • “The evidence is clear that standards of living are substantially higher in Texas than in California, which has a model of excessive government.” More: “During the last decade, economic growth in the real private sector has increased by 29 percent in Texas compared with only 14 percent in California. Job creation increased by 1.2 million in California compared with 1.7 million in Texas, which has a labor force two-thirds of that in California. Remarkably, Texas’ job creation was roughly one-third of total civilian employment increases nationwide.”
  • Texas ranked third nationally in economic freedom for the sixth consecutive year. California ranked 49th, just ahead of New York.
  • California Democrats vow to go all-out to keep illegal aliens from being deported. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • CalPERs plans to sell $15 billion worth of equities over the next two years. Also: “CalPERS’ current portfolio is pegged to a 7.5% return and a 13% volatility rate” even though the most recent returns were “a 0.6% return for the fiscal year ended June 30 and a 2.4% return in fiscal 2015.”
  • But the shift from Fantasyland to Reality has been a slow and painful one for CalPERS:

    Overseers of the nation’s largest pension trust fund, the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), last month reduced – albeit reluctantly – its projection of future earnings by a half-percentage point.

    With earnings on investments the last two years barely exceeding zero, CalPERS has been compelled to sell assets to make its pension payments – which far outstrip contributions from state and local governments and their employees.

    Reducing the “discount rate” to 7 percent will force employers, and perhaps employees, to kick billions of more dollars into the system to slow the growth of CalPERS’ “unfunded liabilities,” as the $150-plus billion debt is termed.

    However, the extra contributions generated by lowering the discount rate will not erase that debt, which is likely to keep growing if CalPERS’ investment earnings continue to fall short, as many economists expect. In fact, CalPERS’ own advisers see a prolonged period of relatively low earnings, and say the system shouldn’t count on more than 6.2 percent.

    Rationally, the discount rate should have been lowered by at least another full percentage point. But CalPERS has already increased its mandatory contributions by 50 percent to make up for investment losses during the Great Recession and other factors, and cutting the discount rate to 6 percent would probably mean bankruptcy for a number of local governments, especially some cities.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • And CalPERs needs to do a lot more:

    This is why the CalPERS board must do far more — starting with, on a large scale, finally embracing pension reforms and, on a smaller scale, shuttering an over-the-top corner of the CalPERS website that says it’s a myth that pension costs are crowding out “government services like police and libraries.”

    It’s no myth. The Los Angeles Times reported last month that pensions and retirement health benefits now consume 20 percent of revenue in Los Angeles and Oakland and a stunning 28 percent in San Jose. While the state government is in better shape than most local governments, it’s beginning to feel the strain as well. On Wednesday, Bloomberg reported that beginning in April, the state will increase vehicle registration fees from $46 to $56 to help cover the soaring cost of pensions for California Highway Patrol officers. In 2000, the state had to pay about one-eighth of annual CHP pension costs. Now it must pay about half.

  • “Home values in San Francisco have doubled in a matter of four years. Since 2012 the typical San Francisco home went from $600,000 to $1,200,000. The Bay Area is under a tech based hypnotic spell and foreign money just can’t get enough of million dollar crap shacks in San Francisco. As we all know trees do not grow to the sky with unlimited potential and at a certain point the laws of reality have to hit. Only 11 percent of households in San Francisco can actually afford to purchase the typical $1.2 million crap shack.”
  • San Francisco welcomes immigrants…unless they threaten to move next door. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • “New housing data show foreclosure activity in California dropped to an 11-year low in 2016. But the state is still working through a backlog of homes purchased with bad loans during the last housing bubble.”
  • How America’s restaurant bubble is about to burst. Actually, the piece focuses mainly on the impossibility of running a profitable fine dining restaurant in San Francisco and other similarly expensive locales. (Hat tip: Zero Hedge.)
  • “How the University of California exploited a visa loophole to move tech jobs to India.”
  • The Census bureau says that Texas continued to grow in 2016. “Another big gainer was Texas, whose addition of about 433,000 people accounted for 19% of the country’s growth. The state, with 27.9 million people, grew from a relatively strong flow of immigrants and people relocating there from other states.”
  • Texas was second relocation destination choice in 2015:

    Texas experienced a net gain of out-of-state residents in 2015, with 107,689 more people moving to Texas than Texas residents moving out of state. This is a 4 percent increase in the net gain of Texas residents from 2014 (103,465 residents).

    The total number of residents moving to Texas from out of state in 2015 increased 2.8 percent year-over-year to 553,032 incoming residents. The highest number of new Texans came from California (65,546), followed by Florida (33,670), Louisiana (31,044), New York (26,287) and Oklahoma (25,555).

    Texas once again ranked third in the nation for number of residents moving out of state (445,343) in 2015. The most popular out-of-state relocation destinations for Texans were California (41,713), Florida (29,706), Oklahoma (28,642), Colorado (25,268), and Louisiana (19,863).

  • Arizona and Florida managed to dethrone Texas for the relocation top spot for the first time in a dozen years.
  • Why is Austin housing more expensive comapred to other Texas cities? “The reasons vary, but boil down to Austin’s relative unwillingness–thanks to NIMBYism and regulations–to build more housing.”
  • It doesn’t help that Austin is experiencing a net influx of 3,000 Californians a year. Seems like more…
  • California ban on modern sporting rifles went into effect January 1. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Police in Kern County, California, have killed more people per capita than in any other American county in 2015.” Caveat the first: The Guardian. Caveat the second: Thanks ever so much for that full-frame background video designed to bring by computer to a screeching halt, Guardian
  • How Marfa, Texas turned itself into an art colony.
  • Students at California law schools are doing horribly on the bar exam. “Law schools are admitting less and less qualified students in an effort to bolster their bottom lines. And why do their bottom lines need to be bolstered? Because they have too many faculty relative to student demand for the schools, and are either reluctant or unable to reduce the size of the faculty to “right size” the law school relative to present demand for the JD.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Maybe they should start calling it “North American Apparel“:

    Canadian apparel maker Gildan Activewear Inc. has won a bankruptcy auction for U.S. fashion retailer American Apparel LLC (curxq) after raising its offer to around $88 million, a person familiar with the matter said Monday.

    Gildan’s takeover marks the end of an era for the iconic Los Angeles-based company, which was founded in 1998 by an eccentric Canadian university drop-out and grew to become a part of U.S. popular culture thanks to its racy advertising.

    Gildan will not take any of American Apparel’s 110 stores, but will own its brand and assume some of its manufacturing operations, the source said. The deal is subject to a bankruptcy judge approving it on Thursday.

  • State of California: You can’t mention actresses ages, because Reasons. IMDB: Free speech. Bite me.
  • And if you hadn’t seen them already, two previous BattleSwarm stories that touch on the Texas vs. California issue:

  • Interview with TPPF’s James Quintero on the Texas Municipal Pension Debt Crisis
  • The Texas 85th legislative session opens with budget tightening on the agenda.
  • LinkSwarm for June 18, 2013

    Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

    Too much going on, so here’s a LinkSwarm to start your day:

  • Why the IRS scandal is worse than the others.
  • Snowden: Obama made all NSA abuses worse. Well, making things worse is Obama’s magic touch…
  • The NSA confirms it can listen to domestic phone calls without a court order. Or so Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) said a few days ago, but now he’s trying to walk his statement back.
  • Even Al Gore is shocked at the NSA’s sweeping domestic surveillance. Hey Al: That’s just what happens when you have no controlling legal authority.
  • Don’t tell the liberals, but conservatives actually won the Arizona voting rights case.
  • Erdogan cracks down in Turkey. (Hat tip: Claire Berlinski’s Twitter feed.)
  • Q: What do Democrats call illegal aliens who have beaten women and children? A: Evidently future Democratic voters, since they refuse to amend the Gang of 8 illegal alien amnesty bill to exclude them.
  • A rundown on Texas gun laws signed into law from the most recent session. (Previously.)
  • Democratic Rep. John Larson (D–Con) whines that it’s so very, very unfair that ObamaCare applies to congress. Hold on, Rep. Larson. When I can get some time on a scanning-tunneling microscope, I’ll see if I can find an appropriately sized violin.
  • Maureen Dowd slams Obama some more: “When the man who polled where to take his summer vacation and whether to tell the truth about his affair with Monica Lewinsky tells you you’re a captive of polls, you’d better listen up.” Bonus: Description of the NSA program as “No Call Left Behind.”
  • A new crime control initiative in Houston: arm the law-abiding. More on the Armed Citizen Project here.
  • Second Amendment activists gather twice the necessary number for signatures to force a recall election for Colorado Senate President John Morse.
  • Animal Rights activists get Obama Administration to end testing on chimps. So much for liberals being part of the “science-based community.”
  • SooperMexican makes brutal fun of the SNAP Challenge. (If you’ve never heard of the SNAP challenge, it’s another variant on the “Any time conservatives cut a dime of government funding, 10 million children starve!” argument.)
  • Scientists invent a robotic cat. Evidently it has the “massive indifference to your presence” and “not coming when you call it” parts of a cat’s personality down pat…