Accusations of privilege need to give way to invitations to storytelling

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Imagine for a moment… A white neighborhood watch volunteer in a community which had experienced repeated burglaries observes a black young man walking in the neighborhood. He approaches the young man and asks if he can speak with him for a moment. He explains why he is out there and what he sees that makes him suspicious. The young black man is upset by the insinuation, but since the conversation has started, he explains that he is walking back to his step-mother’s house from the store. The two part ways and we never hear about the exchange.

Or maybe it plays out like this… The neighborhood watch volunteer hangs back and follows. His reasoning is that if something happens, he is going be a witness to it. This is, after all, what they train neighborhood watch volunteers to do — be a good witness. To the young black man this looks a lot like the stories he grew up hearing. The neighborhood watch volunteer does not realize that because he did not grow up hearing those stories. So the young black man walks up to the volunteer and asks if he can speak with him. He explains that being followed like that is upsetting and frightening. He offers to share the kind of stories he grew up hearing so the volunteer might understand. …

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Trump’s Taxes

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From Newsweek

Your Tax Return is a First Offer in a Negotiation

The system of taxation in the United States is unique.

In most countries, the amount one owes in taxes is calculated by the government and assessed by demand. If the amount is calculated in error, it falls on a the taxpayer to prove the error.

In the United States, by comparison, the amount owed is calculated by the taxpayer and presented in the taxpayer’s annual filing. If the government believes the calculation to be in error to the disadvantage of the government, an audit can be required by the government in an effort to substantiate the government’s claims.

This distinction is crucial to understanding the debate over President Trump’s taxes and the reporting that he paid only $750 in 2016 and 2017, and nothing at all in 11 of 18 years between 2000 and 2017. But before wading into the purported weeds of the New York Times reporting, let me put it as my father put it to me as I entered the workforce almost 40 years ago. …

19th / 20th Century Fundamentalism — with all its peculiarities — should not be confused with “theism”

Barry Lyons claims there are Ten Questions That a Theist Can’t Answer. I don’t mean to be unnecessarily snarky… but a halfway decently educated theist should have no problem with his ten observations. But a very quick thing about me before addressing them:

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I was a journalism student in junior college. Having grown up in church and having met missionaries, after finishing my associates degree I asked my pastor about visiting the country his family came from (the Philippines). I saved up the money; they provided me contacts who I could visit and stay with. There I discovered that college and above was taught in English and would cost me $0.10 on the U.S. tuition dollar to pursue a biblical studies degree. I did the math and was all of a sudden “called.” …

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Adam Smith knew this from the start… A “theory of moral sentiments” is required for capitalism to work.

Yesterday’s Republican Party sounds like they want to do exactly what got us into this mess to begin with. It’s time for us to demand their retirement once and for all…

…and to return to a theory of moral sentiments in economics.

There is a solution to this crisis that does not conform to what we have incorrectly been taught about capitalism. I’ll argue here that returning to what Adam Smith called a “theory of moral sentiments” in economic thinking leads us to see how a “settlements pause” is the only truly moral way to address this crisis.

Walk “Settlements” Up and Down the Chain

I have a favorite brew pub called Post No Bills here in Monterey, CA. They had to shut down. The owner isn’t sure how he will be able to pay his lease. Right there is a “settlement”. But it works its way up to the building owner, who probably financed the construction of the building. Let’s say that company floated a bond issue to build the building. My guy’s lease payment funds the building owner’s coupon payments… There is another settlement. …

Can Medicine and Government Think Outside the Box?

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I went to my doctor today. I was there to discuss numbness and tingling in my pinkie and ring fingers and related pain in my wrist (likely an ulnar nerve issue). But I also wanted to ask about the coronavirus.

I try to think “behind” things to understand the underlying mechanisms. A respiratory disease like COVID-19 causes the body’s immune system to launch an aggressive attack in the lungs. The resulting inflammation obstructs the flow of air into the lungs. …

We are in the middle of a generational changing of the guard

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All by itself, Tuesday’s State of the Union address was to be the fulcrum over which the Republican Party crosses into its future, beginning with Wednesday’s vote to acquit the President. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, apparently succumbing to her Loony Squad’s pandemic lack of self awareness, only drew the nation’s attention more closely to this with her petulant tearing up of the House copy of the speech.

To understand this moment is to understand the broader scope of what the 2016 election represents.

Judgment Day for Yesterday’s Republican Party

The math of the Electoral College is right in front of us. Donald Trump is President because the Rust Belt concluded — as Peggy Noonan explains — that yesterday’s Republican Party gave us a government by and for the protected class. Their experts dismissed the trade deficit as a capital account surplus. Sounds great for those who have capital (read: income producing assets). The Rust Belt understood that those who don’t are left with only two things: their left hand and their right, to earn an income by making things. The protected class, whom Nassim Taleb would call the IYI class (intellectuals, yet idiots who don’t have “skin in the game”) made trade policy, but did not have to live with the consequences. …

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Without Hunter Biden, where would Jason Bourne get his stash?

Imagine a country elects a President because they think the “Establishment” is corrupt, out of touch, and has left them behind. Imagine that President commits to “draining the swamp.” Donald Trump?


It is right there in the transcript of the conversation between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymr Zelenskyy — right up front at the beginning:

Well yes, to tell you the truth, we are trying to work hard because we wanted to drain the swamp here in our country. We brought in many many new people. Not the old politicians, not the typical politicians, because we want to have a new format and a new type of government. …

Deflation is the monster in the central banker’s closet

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What if I told you was in the business of predicting hurricanes?

Seeing as they are getting into just about every business, it might not be a surprise. But that’s not the point here.

What matters is the technology which produces this hurricane forecast map. It is exactly the same technology which enables Amazon to pull off same-day delivery. Let me explain.

Knowledge Management and Storm Path Prediction

The field of “Knowledge Management” (KM) breaks things down into three basic groups. There is “data” — which in meteorology would be a reading like temperature, atmospheric pressure, dew point, etc. The data originates from an instrument at a point in time. …

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I Learned to Listen in a New Way

“She” is genetically “male.” We became friends as a result of our common interest in politics, guns and gun rights, our affiliation with San Diego County’s Republican Party, and just out of a desire to simply be decent people.

For a whole different set of reasons (including specific things like homelessness in our community and generally being fed up with our current crop of “why we can’t” elected officials in my community) I ran for office in 2016 and 2018 (unsuccessfully both times). I actually loved every minute of it. I loved the rough and tumble of debate. I loved getting out into the community and meeting people. I even didn’t mind asking for money. …

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I boils down to one different letter in a domain name

Hans McMurdy started out with a response to my article Why Let’s Encrypt is a really… bad idea” and ended up writing his own article, which I highly recommend. It is very well written because it is clearly addressed to a non-technical audience. This is the kind of thing we in the cybersecurity arena badly need to get much better at doing.

At the end of his response post he asks about whether “…strictly speaking, from a security perspective do SSL EV’s provide any objective protection or value to consumers for things such as phishing, MITM’s , etc?” …


John Horst, CISSP® — ISSAP®

I am a charter member of the pocket-protector set, but old enough to make fun of them and otherwise have a healthy skepticism of tech.

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