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Inconvenient statistics on crime, policing, and the black community

When emotion is brought into public policy we can count on bad things happening. Looting and rioting are doing damage to the argument for the need to reform policing. Is it bringing attention to it? Yes. But, not the kind of attention that is needed.

In the cold world of statistics we have these facts:

In 2019 police officers fatally shot 1,004 people, most of whom were armed or otherwise dangerous. African-Americans were about a quarter of those killed by cops last year (235), a ratio that has remained stable since 2015. That share of black victims is less than what the black crime rate would predict, since police shootings are a function of how often officers encounter armed and violent suspects. In 2018, the latest year for which such data have been published, African-Americans made up 53% of known homicide offenders in the U.S. and commit about 60% of robberies, though they are 13% of the population.

Wall Street Journal

We’ve seen this before but it won’t make it onto the nightly news. Instead the emotion of the current events will be highlighted because human suffering gets eyeballs to their TV screens. The coverage makes it seem like all white police officers are purposely looking for black people to kill. The numbers don’t agree with the narrative.

Meanwhile, looting and rioting are destroying businesses and neighborhoods. Chicago, in particular, we saw the destruction of many small businesses on the south and west sides. Retailers that were just beginning to look forward to somewhat getting back to business. First government stepped in with their heavy hand and closed them down. Now some people in their neighborhoods have put the final nail in the coffin. Who wants to re-open a business when the government can deem you non-essential and then because of the action by a police officer in Minneapolis your neighbors literally burn your business down.

A majority of the cities and states where the unrest is occurring are places where Democrats run the government. The people protesting overwhelmingly vote Democrat. There is cognitive dissonance happening here. The people protesting keep the people in power that they say keep them oppressed. It’s almost like battered wife syndrome. You get beaten and beaten but keep going back because you believe that person will change.

They won’t change. They will tell you they’re sorry. They’ll tell you they love you. They’ll tell you they’ll never do it again. But they will.

I’m not saying Republicans are blameless and there may be places where similar things are occurring where Republicans are in power. But, at least right now, what is happening and where it’s happening are not Republican strongholds.

We need to stop asking government to take care of us. Putting them in charge of our well being leads to abuse of power and overreach. If they are your parent expect them to tell you how, where, and why you should live. Keep them at more than an arms length and you’ll find your independence a God-send. You’ll be better off for it and so will the United States of America.

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Random Thoughts Technology

President Trump doesn’t understand the concept of the “Public Square”

A draft of President Trump’s Executive Order “Preventing Online Censorship”

President Trump today signed an Executive Order that threatens Internet based social networking platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. He says that these platforms are the 21st century equivalent of the public square and that the protections afforded by the First Amendment to the Constitution apply to these companies.

He has it totally wrong. The Internet is the public square and social networking sites are private companies that operate on the public square. If you don’t like what they do you can build your own site to compete with them. It’s important to remember that only the government is restricted from censoring you. Your school, your employer, or any private organization that you don’t control is allowed to control your behavior, to a certain extent, while on their property or using their service.

This is not to say that the big social networking companies aren’t partly to blame for his reaction. They are cow towing to a vocal minority that seeks to silence opposition to the main stream narrative of events of the day.

During this COVID-19 pandemic Twitter and YouTube have suspended accounts and taken down videos of scientists critical of the lockdown. I don’t believe that a person is sitting there at these companies manually taking down accounts and videos but this is done automatically when bunches of trolls flag accounts and videos reporting them as fake or harmful. That’s where the problem lies. It’s easy for humans to game the system of an algorithm that just responds to clicks.

The social media sites should relax their algorithms and just let the users decide for themselves. It’s bad enough that these automated systems create filter bubbles where all people see are views and news that support their own biases. Now we have these same systems shutting down debate.

I miss the early days of the Internet and the World Wide Web. It was such an open place to be where you could learn almost anything. You still can but you have to use a mental machete to chop away all the crap.

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Random Thoughts

Contact Tracing Administration – The future federal waste of tax dollars

Let’s count the days until the Department of Health and Human Services has a new division called the Contact Tracing Administration. Or, maybe it will fall under the Department of Homeland Security since virus infiltration into the nation is sure to be a national security threat.

I can see these agents now showing up at our homes with their little uniforms and most assuredly a badge of some sort. They’ll show up at your house because no one answers the phone call from an unfamiliar number.

The idea is to reach out to everyone who has tested positive for the virus, find out whom they might have inadvertently exposed and encourage them all to avoid infecting others. But an army of 180,000 contact tracers provisioned with telephone headsets and scripts does not guarantee that anyone will want to talk to them, much less follow their advice.

New York Times

These people will be the new TSA. They’ll be called Health Security Agents (HSA), Health Security Officers (HSO), or maybe Contact Tracing Administration Agent (CTA Agent). You know they’ll have to have a nifty three letter acronym.

I predict billions of dollars getting wasted so the government can create huge databases of who we are, who our associates are, and where we go. Combine that with the push to go cashless and the government will own you and your bank account.

Don’t think this can happen? I didn’t think the government had the power to designate some businesses essential and some not. I didn’t think they had the power to shut down the entire US economy. I didn’t think they had the power to shut down religious services. Somehow they don’t have the power to do these things but they did them.

Good luck to us.

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Random Thoughts

Uncle Tom; An oral history of the American black conservative

The question is will African Americans watch this movie? If they do will they believe its content and/or will it change any minds?

The film debuts on June 19, 2020

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Random Thoughts

Scared of what is not dangerous

We’re now reaping what we have sowed. Anti-bullying, participation trophies, helicopter parents, no keeping score, no more valedictorians, safe spaces, cancel culture, and on and on and on. We’ve been softened to the point where we are scared of things that aren’t dangerous. We have met the boogeyman and he is us.

Imagine if an insurance actuary was so scared of something that she graded it 1,000 times riskier than the data showed. This might be a career-ending mistake. This is exactly what people have done regarding COVID-19: making decisions on fear and not data.

According to CDC data, 81% of deaths from COVID-19 in the United States are people over 65 years old, most with preexisting conditions. If you add in 55-64-year-olds that number jumps to 93%. For those below age 55, preexisting conditions play a significant role, but the death rate is currently around 0.0022%, or one death per 45,000 people in this age range. Below 25 years old the fatality rate of COVID-19 is 0.00008%, or roughly one in 1.25 million, and yet we have shut down all schools and day-care centers, some never to open again! This makes it harder for mothers and fathers to remain employed.

realclearpolitics.com
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Random Thoughts

Confirmed: SARS-CoV-2 no more infectious than Influenza

I found out about a free course offered by Johns Hopkins University to get certified to be a Contact Tracer. In the course they discuss the basics of the virus and its infectiousness. According to Johns Hopkins University SARS-CoV-2 (which causes the disease COVID-19) is NO MORE INFECTIOUS THAN SEASONAL INFLUENZA (See area circled in red in the slide above). Yes, you read that right. As part of training to become a contact tracer they teach you that you are at no more danger from getting COVID-19 than you are from getting the normal run of the mill average every day FLU.

If this is in fact the case, which I have no doubt that it is because Johns Hopkins University is the authority, what is going to happen to our society when the next flu season rolls around? Or say when a bad flu season rolls around? Do our “experts” and scientists expect the economy to shut down because of this? This is ridiculous.

What is a Contact Tracer anyway? We hear about them in the news all the time as being critical to the nation opening back up and life returning to normal. Well contact tracers are the people that will be intruding into your life to find out where you’ve been and who you associated with under the guise of stopping the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

The people employed as contact tracers aren’t the problem. They will be people like you and me and most likely just people looking for a job. Especially in this time when the government shut everything down. You can be sure a contact tracer’s job will be essential. The problem will be the data they will compile and what happens to it. The data will be a treasure trove of information about where you’ve been, who you associate with, and what you do in your spare time. I don’t know about you but unless we’re dealing with a disease that is like Ebola or a flesh eating bacteria that will kill you in a few days employing these human data miners is a huge infringement on our private lives and personal liberty.

I did pass my course by the way with a grade of 97%. According to them I made two errors. One error I believe is theirs. Here is the question:

Why is building rapport with cases and contacts important for contact tracing? Select all that apply

1. To help them understand that you are in charge

2. To help educate them about SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19

3. To help increase the chances that they will effectively isolate and quarantine.

4. To help collect complete, accurate information from them

I answered that 3 & 4 were correct. They said that I should have also included #2. I believe they are incorrect because educating someone about SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 won’t help me contact trace. It will only let my interrogatees know about the virus.

My other error is most likely my fault. Here is the question:

In the following exchange, which active listening tool is Jacob using: paraphrasing or reflecting?

Contact: Geez, how could I be sick? I’ve been doing everything I can to avoid this. You’ve got to be kidding me!”

Jacob: You’re angry that you spent time nearby someone with coronavirus and upset that this is happening.

1. Paraphrasing

2. Reflecting

I said Jacob was paraphrasing when supposedly he was reflecting. To me they are the same thing. It’s just repeating back what the other person said. I know I lack the empathy needed to discern between the two. The distinctions are subtle to me.

What they call paraphrasing and reflecting I call annoying parroting. I don’t need someone to validate what I just said. I find it patronizing and quite frankly full of bullshit.

Here’s my certificate by the way.

I wonder what this gig pays?

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Random Thoughts

What happened to the ACLU?

This is the organization that used to stand up for due process and defend the rights of even the worst people.

If you were looking for more evidence that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been losing its principled approach to civil liberties, look no further: The group has filed suit to thwart Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s recently proposed reforms to bolster due process protections for students accused of sexual misconduct.

Reason.com
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LA Times finally wakes up and realizes that collapsing economies do more harm than viruses

How are the United States and other developed nations supposed to help when we’ve shut down our economies? As many fathers scream at their children, “Money doesn’t grow on trees!”

Born and raised in Brazil’s drought-ridden northeast, she moved with her partner to Rio de Janeiro in 2018, in search of work. He was hired as a janitor; she began selling meals on the street, and soon they were bringing in $280 a month — enough to start saving to one day build a house back home.

The novel coronavirus pushed that dream out of reach. Lima, who has diabetes and heart problems, putting her at higher risk of dying if she contracts the virus, stopped working once the pandemic took hold in her sprawling slum, known as the City of God.

Now it seems that if the coronavirus doesn’t kill her, hunger may.

“We have to pay the rent, and we don’t have the money,” said Lima, 48. “I haven’t even been able to buy beans.”

The economic devastation the pandemic wreaks on the ultra-poor could ultimately kill more people than the virus itself.

The United Nations predicts that a global recession will reverse a three-decade trend in rising living standards and plunge as many as 420 million people into extreme poverty, defined as earning less than $2 a day.

As for the 734 million people already there, the economic tsunami will make it harder for them to ever climb out.

LA Times
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Once infected you’re immune for life?

Professor Delores Cahill from the University College Dublin says that the worldwide response to COVID-19 is wrong and there was no need for the lockdown and few people should have died.

If she is not correct she should be interviewed by the main stream media and her ideas debunked. But, I’m willing to guess that she is correct and she will be ignored.

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Random Thoughts

Software engineer rips apart COVID-19 propagation model that locked down the world

So now we learn that the software used for modeling the propagation of COVID-19 across the world is shit software. It’s something that is over a decade old and written using poor programming practices. It appears to have been translated from one language to another, the same inputs produce different outputs (which it’s not supposed to do), and the modelers knew of all the bugs in their system and tried to cover it up by saying that averaging out the results would be accurate.

A software engineer, formerly of Google, went through the code and was appalled at what he/she found.

The Imperial code doesn’t seem to have working regression tests. They tried, but the extent of the random behaviour in their code left them defeated. On 4th April they said:  “However, we haven’t had the time to work out a scalable and maintainable way of running the regression test in a way that allows a small amount of variation, but doesn’t let the figures drift over time.”

Beyond the apparently unsalvageable nature of this specific codebase, testing model predictions faces a fundamental problem, in that the authors don’t know what the “correct” answer is until long after the fact, and by then the code has changed again anyway, thus changing the set of bugs in it. So it’s unclear what regression tests really mean for models like this – even if they had some that worked.

lockdownskeptics.org

Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx used this information to help convince President Trump to shut down the country. President Trump’s initial instinct that this was not that big a deal was correct and he should have stuck to his guns.

In essence, we shut down our country and the world for a virus where around 97.5% of the people that get infected fully recover. 2.5% become critical and a percentage of them die. I wish #PeakStupid wasn’t true.