Speaker for the Diodes

Jan. 20th, 2019

05:24 am - QotD

"One of my favorite patients had happy voices. They complimented him and he'd spend hours flexing in the mirror for them." -- chronically dislocated (@crochetiyeti), 2019-01-03

"My voices told me not to listen to them too much, because 'we are stupid'. Also, they told me amusing stories with [imagery] attached and jokes when I was immobilised for hours in a psychiatric hospital." -- @agquarx (@agquarx), replying to @crochetiyeti

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Jan. 19th, 2019

05:24 am - QotD

"On the other hand whether or not women were actually cooking fishes vaginally to make their husbands want to bone is in and of itself not as important as the fact that Burchard was pretty sure they were. Even if it doesn't tell us about a common practice, it tells us about what a Bishop appears to think is a common practice, and that tells us a lot about both our man Burchard and what Church leaders were spending time thinking 'bout." -- Dr Eleanor Janega, on medieval guidance regarding penance for different sins, "On Dildos and Penance", Going Medieval, 2019-01-09</a>

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Jan. 18th, 2019

05:24 am - QotD

"Your eye is a collection of cells that evolved to borrow the radiation from a fiery ball of superheated hydrogen and helium in order to gather information about objects outside your physical reach. Vision is a kind of divination shaped and fueled by a cosmic inferno." -- The CryptoNaturalist (@CryptoNature), 2019-01-03

[I've been saying things like, "my radiation detectors are miscalibrated; I need to see an optometrist," for a while...]

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Jan. 17th, 2019

03:11 pm - Tax percentage vs marginal percentage

(Also posted to FB & Twitter)

I was thinking about the clear explanations I've seen recently of how marginal tax rate brackets work, and it's obvious that the percentage-of-income that the final tax bill represents has to be smaller than the percentage your tax bracket is named for (i.e. the percentage collected on the topmost slice your income reaches), but I didn't have a clear picture of how much less. So I banged on LibreOffice for a bit when I should have been asleep, to plot a really naive approximation (i.e. ignoring all the deductions, deferments on retirement accounts, etc. that most tax returns involve, much less all the fancy approaches the super-rich use).

That is to say, it's obvious that someone in the 70% tax bracket won't be handing over 70% of all their income, but I wanted a visualization of how much less. And likewise for the existing brackets.

The perspective on how far out I had to zoom the view to see the effect of the proposed 70% marginal rate on incomes over $10MM, that is, just how big ten million is, may also be useful. (I didn't want to make the x axis a log scale, because I feared that would throw some people off. Though I'm not even sure whether LibreOffice will let me do that anyhow.)

Do check my math. I'm well beyond my areas of expertise. And if someone wants to do a more realistic version instead of my simplified worst-case one, I'd like to see that. 'Cause these are just an "if you pretend that the description of tax brackets is the whole of the tax code" abstraction.

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05:24 am - QotD

From the CBC radio program, The Current, 2019-01-03 ( transcript) [emphasis added]:

Geoff Turner: Now Senator Pressler was a signatory to a letter that talks or at least warns about a possible dangerous period in American democracy coming up. How fragile do you think democracy is in the United States right now?

Rob Goodman: Well I think it's fragile to the extent that one of our parties, as I said, is going in a really scary direction. I think you could consider the Republican Party, could be what political scientists call an anti-system party. It's a party that doesn't really believe our institutions are working in their current shape and it's a party that, given the choice between enacting its policies and strengthening democracy, wants to enact its policies. You know I think David Frum, who is a Republican commentator, put this really well, you know the claim he made is that if conservatives are given the choice between conservatism and democracy, it looks like they're going to choose conservatism. In other words, it looks like they have a vision of what counts for them as economic liberty that trumps as it were the right of the people to express their opinions through the ballot box. And I think we see this in just how deeply Republican candidates in states from Georgia to Kansas were invested in strategies and making it more and more difficult for Americans, especially people of colour to vote. That's a scary thing to me.


[Grandis vetus factio delenda est.]

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Jan. 16th, 2019

05:24 am - QotD

"We live in a world where 98%+ of people who see a tweet are not going to click on the link. If the goal is to inform people, news orgs need to adapt.

"Straightforward headlines, straightforward tweets, etc. The 'curiosity gap' need to end.

"Throughout the course of a day, I might scroll past hundreds of links. Sure, I'll click on a handful, but for the most part, it's just my eyes taking a split second to register what's said in the tweet and moving on.

"But you ever have that thing where you're like "I heard this somewhere, but I can't remember exactly where?" It happens to all of us. Maybe you read a quick article about something... or maybe you just saw a tweet. Over time, you probably don't recall.

[...examples (worth clicking through for; they do make this clearer)...]

"The big question that news organizations have to ask themselves is whether or not they want to be responsible for the next one-liner that never was.

"So I guess this is a long way of saying: Make Headlines Boring Again (and please read my article: https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2018/11/02/headlines-can-t-handle-trump-s-lies-so-it-s-time-rethink-them/221968 ... )"

-- Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy), 2019-01-03

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Jan. 15th, 2019

05:24 am - QotD

"Many people in power, living lives and spreading messages diametrically opposed to Dr. King's, will invoke his name today in a hollow attempt to honor a man murdered by the system they continue to prop up. We the black delegation reject your message in it's entirety." -- Travon Free, 2018-01-15

"We believe firmly in the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. I can see no conflict between our devotion to Jesus Christ and our present action. In fact, I can see a necessary relationship. If one is truly devoted to the religion of Jesus he will seek to rid the earth of social evils. The gospel is social as well as personal." -- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (b. 1929-01-15, d. 1968-04-04), Stride Toward Freedom, 1958

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Jan. 14th, 2019

05:26 am - QotD

"The ongoing moral panic about trans folk & bathrooms is emboldening men to attack women in bathrooms. The *debate itself* is making public toilets less safe for *all* women.

"Women (cis&trans) should have the right to pee in safety without what is becoming dangerous scrutiny.

"In case you missed it, the woman attacked is a lesbian cis woman. This is important. Cis lesbians are literally being put at risk of violence from cis men, because of anti-trans rhetoric that claims to be on the side of cis women in general & cis lesbians in particular

"it bears repeating: it is anti-trans rhetoric that is putting cis women at risk; particularly those who don't present particularly feminine.

"It is anti-trans rhetoric making lesbians LESS safe.

"It is anti-trans rhetoric enforcing old fashioned notions of femininity"

-- Emmeline May (@EmmelineMayRDPP), 2019-01-10, citing another Twitter thread about a cis lesbian ("sporty, not butch" presentation) being followed into a public restroom by a man who beat on the stall door, yelling and accusing her of being trans. In the last tweet of that thread there is this: "She said that she's in the process of growing her hair out for the first time since she was a teen, and I quote verbatim here, that it 'feels like I'm being forced back in the closet.'"


The next time the debate comes up again about whether the T really belongs in LBGTQ (because it always comes back eventually), consider this: not only was Stonewall led by trans women, but it's nigh impossible to separate society's homophobia from its transphobia, and anti-trans rhetoric, policies, and violence inevitably spill over onto cis queer people, and vice versa. It's all wrapped up together, so we need to stick together to oppose the hate.

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Jan. 13th, 2019

05:24 am - QotD

From the Quotation of the day mailing list, 2019-01-04:

"Books are many things: energy shots, life-jackets, flying carpets, alarm clocks, oxygen masks, weapons, salves. Who needs what and when can't be predicted till it happens." -- Jeanette Winterson

[ https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/dec/07/jeanette-winterson-books-that-made-me]

(submitted to the mailing list by Kathleen Magone)

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Jan. 12th, 2019

05:26 am - QotD

"The most judgemental hot tub is of course the j'accuzzi" -- Katie (@ZiziFothSi), 2018-12-27

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Jan. 11th, 2019

05:24 am - QotD

"I've sucked enough toes in my life to recognize when something doesn't look right." -- Reddit user jokes_on_you, quoted in "A Fake Nude of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Was Debunked By Foot Fetishists" by Samantha Cole, 2019-01-07

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01:26 am - Trump's Wall .. in 1958

Alex Hirsch (@_AlexHirsch) found an eerily relevant 1958 episode of a television western, about a Mr. Trump convincing folks to build a wall to keep them safe.

From that thread:

"I've had this theory that time travellers end up writing for Hollywood cause no one would believe them" -- Sara's mouse (@surrealyo)

"Someone has a time machine and is not using it to its fullest ability." -- Adam D. Jaspering (@jaspers47)

"someone needs to research what else this screenwriter wrote - it might be instructive." -- Tammy Rainey (@Tammy_Beth)

And Snopes has a link to the whole episode on YouTube.

(It's plausible that the script was inspired by Trump's father, with folks noting that Woody Guthrie's song about him came out eight years earlier.)

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Jan. 10th, 2019

05:26 am - QotD

From "2018 In Review: The Sheep That Won The Internet" by Emma Tucker, 2018-12-20:

context )

"But although it might look like Koszary is simply having fun - and there's plenty of that - he says it's more than just 'pissing about on Twitter'. Many museums have digitised their collections in recent years, but Koszary says they're not making the most of them. According to him there's still hesitancy around how to use them, how to share them, and how to get people interested in what they offer. 'The absolute unit is one part of what we should be doing - it's the awareness-building that drives people towards what our colleagues want, which is crowdfunding, coming to exhibitions, and getting into the archive,' he says."

[I got to this article via a link in a tweet from @TheMERL, which I was reading because @rmd1023 linked to a thread @TheMERL instigated (which someone described as "museums trolling each other") by asking @britishmuseum to "give us your best duck". After lots and lots and lots of scrolling, I didn't spot any replies from @britishmuseum, but I did see a bunch of museuems, museum employees, other institutions, scientists, and random people who like ducks, sharing interesting and/or amusing duck-related stuff. It definitely made me more interested in several museums and their Twitter presences. Go have a pleasant scroll, and enjoy the ducks.]

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Jan. 9th, 2019

05:24 am - QotD

"The reason people (ie Louis CK) who get called out then turn around and become even worse isn't because the criticism 'alienated' them or whatever. It's because their so-called feminism was performative and meant for others' approval to begin with.

"When that approval is withdrawn, their true colors come out."

-- Miri (@sondosia), 2019-01-01

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Jan. 8th, 2019

05:24 am - QotD

After learning that the National Garden Bureau declared 2019 the year of the pumpkin, Seanan McGuire (@seananmcguire) wrote a sermon:

THE NATIONAL GARDEN BUREAU HAS SPOKEN.
2019 IS THE YEAR OF THE PUMPKIN.
AS HIS PRIESTESS--HONORED BE HIS PATCH--THE GREAT PUMPKIN HAS SELECTED ME TO SHARE THE WISDOM OF GOURD AND GROUND.

We must plant if we are to reap. Even the Great Pumpkin--hallowed be his vines--needs time to ripen from seed to spectacle. Don't be down on yourselves if you aren't instantly perfect. Don't force yourself to produce when it isn't time.

Every field requires a time to lie fallow. We say "fallow fields" as if that means something useless, but really, it means rest and restoration. It means giving the soil time to heal. Be as kind to yourself as you are to the soil.

Every pumpkin is perfectly itself, and perfectly what it is intended to be. No, they're not all perfectly round and smooth and orange and that's okay. You don't have to be perfectly round, or smooth, or orange, either. You are perfect exactly as you are.

Being perfect doesn't mean you can't change. Every pumpkin is perfect, but so is every jack-o-lantern. If you need knives and markers and a candle to feel like your true self, do it. Just make sure you're living YOUR truth, and not someone else's.

If someone is hungry, give them candy. If someone is sad, give them candy. If someone feels lost, give them candy. The Great Pumpkin solves a lot of problems with candy. A sandwich, a hug, and a helping hand can also be candy. Candy is in the eye of the beholder.

We are the mist and we are the monsters and we are the jack-o-lantern line that lights the evening sky; we are joy and we are fear and we are everything we want to be. Keep the Halloween spirit close and true. Don't smash pumpkins, don't break hearts.

Trick or treat.

#gourdandground

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Jan. 7th, 2019

09:27 pm - Money is power, even when taxed

This is something I posted to Twitter last night:

There's something I'm probably missing about the arguments around a higher marginal(!) tax rate. I've never been rich, so there may be a whole lot I just don't get, but the argument goes "highly paid people just won't bother to work more if the government is going to take most of the [additional] money." But
(a) beyond a certain amount of income, higher numbers _look_like_ (to someone who's never been rich) just markers for "keeping score", not money one could reasonably spend, & the IRS won't take the bragging rights, just the dollars,
(b) as Ada Palmer pointed out, getting to keep only ridiculous amount of money, not ludicrous amounts, won't slow down the "vokers", people whose work is a _vocation_ rather than merely a means to keep afloat (e.g. most artists);
(c) how badly do we need these people doing that _extra_ work on top of all the work they got paid for in a lower tax bracket / at a lower tax rate and still get to keep most of the income from (as opposed to maybe letting less established players into their field to do some of that work and get some of that pay)

-- these are bits I see other folks at least touch on, but there's one more that I haven't heard anybody else raise, which makes me wonder whether I'm just overlooking something because I don't know being rich:


(d) even if you can only buy so many yachts and sports cars before you run out of things to spend fantastic wealth on, one thing you _can_ do with that much money is give it away, and by choosing which charities to donate to, see to it that things that match your priorities get funded. Having so much wealth gives you agenda-setting power just by choosing which charities to fund. And charitable donations are pre-tax deductions, aren't they? So if you donate all your income that would have been in the highest tax bracket to charities (assuming it's less than 50% of your total income), none of _that_ money gets taxed; it all goes to furthering your priorities and agenda in the charity domain. So all that money folks are worried you won't bother working for still amounts to _personal_power_ to make things happen in the world. Is that not a motive for still doing the work that earns the extra income?


This doesn't help fund the government, one of the purposes of increasing the top marginal(!) tax rate, but it does mean that money is put back out into the world doing good -- if your priorities don't conflict with mine anyhow ;-) -- and flows into the economy where some of it will wind up in the government's hands by way of what the charities spend it on, and helping everyone the charities employ or buy goods and services from, thus stimulating the economy more _and_ distributing wealth a little bit. (I'm not sure how large that last effect will be.)


So: what aspect of rich-people finance and rich-people psychology am I overlooking due to unfamiliarity with that tax bracket?

(On FB, Jeffrey Huo replied to this with a ink about how yes, money = scorekeeping for the ultra-rich: https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2018/12/rich-people-happy-money/577231/?fbclid=IwAR0KptBMSLb-e1z4opSBzvRt-iNEgsATO2VZnpXN4HX5bi10sWLdEUC02tc )

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05:24 am - QotD

"Poverty exists not because we cannot feed the poor but because we cannot satisfy the rich" -- anonymous, AFAICT

Today is
Gregorian: 2019 January 07
Julian: 2018 December 25 -- Christmas Day for the subset of Orthodox churches on the old calendar
Hebrew: 5779 Shevat 01
Islamic: 1440 Rabi`ath-Thani 29
Persian: 1397 Dey 17
Mayan: 0.0.0.13.0.6.2.8
Indian: 1940 Pausa 17
Coptic: 1735 Koiak 28

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Jan. 6th, 2019

05:24 am - QotD

"Consider that God did not send an angel to summon the Magi for the sake of paying honor to Christ, but showed them a new and unusual star. Understand, however, that this was done because, in His supreme wisdom, He knew that they would be summoned more easily by a star, than if He were to send them a different heavenly messenger. For they were star experts, and indeed anyone is drawn more easily by means known to him, than by those unknown." -- Saint Stanislaus Papczynski (b. 1631-05-18, d. 1701-09-17)

[To my friends celebrating the holiday that comes after Christmas today, a blessed Feast of the Theophany of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Epiphany Of Our Lord, Three Kings Day, and/or Little Christmas to you! So begins the season of Epiphanytide.]

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Jan. 5th, 2019

05:26 am - QotD

"what clown came up with the slogan 'eat the rich' but not 'no vore but class vore'" -- 80% softness by volume (@NireBryce), 2018-12-28

[Wishing almost everyone a good last day of Christmas! Unless you're old-calendar Orthodox, in which case I wish you a happy day-before-Christmas-Eve!]

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Jan. 4th, 2019

05:24 am - QotD

"Adaptation requires two things: mutation and selection. Mutation produces variety and deviation; selection kills off the least functional mutations. Our old, craft-based, pre-computer system of professional practice-in medicine and in other fields-was all mutation and no selection. There was plenty of room for individuals to do things differently from the norm; everyone could be an innovator. But there was no real mechanism for weeding out bad ideas or practices.

"Computerization, by contrast, is all selection and no mutation. Leaders install a monolith, and the smallest changes require a committee decision, plus weeks of testing and debugging to make sure that fixing the daylight-saving-time problem, say, doesn't wreck some other, distant part of the system."

-- Atul Gawande, "Why Doctors Hate Their Computers", The New Yorker, 2018-11-12 thanks to [info] - personal siderea for linking to this)

[Merry eleventh day of Christmas!]

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