Sunday, May 14, 2006

How exactly does one 'sacrafice a tax cut'

When in doubt, frame in the contextual double-negative:
"And how do Democrats plan to pay for all this? By repealing the tax cut for the richest Americans. Because the least we can do for these troops who have endangered their lives and mental health is to sacrifice a tax cut for the wealthiest among us."
You don't 'sacrafice a tax cut', because that implies that everything should be taxed all the time, everywhere and at ridiculous percentages. Anything else is a 'tax cut' which can be potentially 'sacraficed'.
In this country, we first assume the federal government gets nothing, and then apportion how much will be paid for by whom by creating tax policy. From this perspective, there are no tax cuts, but rather when a tax is removed, we are moving back towards the normative 'government gets nothing' stance.
This argument is designed to create new taxes while avoiding the dirty words of 'new taxes'. Once a tax has been removed, that removal isn't something that can be 'sacraficed'. No, you need implement a 'new tax'.
It's okay by these guys, because it's only on 'the rich', and even though they're likely part of 'the rich', their business is well served by their purposes of lining up 'for' taxing themselves, as the additional popularity/profits will outweigh the additional taxes in net.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

NSA wiretapping

What amazes me, is that people can get things so wrong:
"Obviously, they're fighting terror. Because every single American might just be participating in terrorism. So they really need to keep track of all of our phone calls. It's obvious, right? Obvious, but not particularly legal, though since when has that stopped BushCo?"

Part of developing neural networks, algorithms which would provide incredibly valuable information in the war on terror, is being able to feed it incredible amounts of data. If these guys would just look at the theory behind "Total Information Awareness" and other data mining efforts, the effectiveness would be incredibly clear.

Basically you have a computer taking enormous amounts of data, and developing metrics. In order for a computer to be able to 'learn' to flag good events from bad events, there must be an enormous amount of *real* information provided to the system.

The guys in the NSA doing this research don't care that such and such information is about me or you.. we're just numbers.... we're experimental 'white noise' in their analysis. It's somewhat like Risk Management in banks... there are algorithms which will tell you "don't make this loan", even though it cannot give you verifiable reasons or evidence why. What you have is a bunch of meaningless accumulations of data which statistically suggest that X would be a bad loan to make.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


This quote from the DK

"I'd like to know which jokes, in particular, Hoyer thought were in bad taste. Colbert, like many of us, is crashing the gate in DC. The natives, not used to getting more than Jay Leno-style good-natured ribbing, don't like it when one of their own gets a serious dose of reality."

See... these guys just *loved* the way Colbert was really 'sticking it to the man/media', regardless of whether this was accurate or happened to be one of the best possible career moves he could have made.
I just really can't stand that attitude of 'oh, you showed him!', like as though an appropriate way to influence people and change their attitudes is to throw a bucket of water over their heads. This is the same criticism I have of the so-called 'Speak truth to power' bullshit.

I understand that these guys are frustrated at not having the government do what they want it to do, but the solution is to write clear, intelligent articles without lame, naked attempts at rhetoric or persuasion. The solution is to work hard, make money, and get elected, not sing songs and chant with naked chicks.

You don't convert people by telling them they're stupid. For one, they're probably just as smart as you are. For two, nobody should accept such childish criticism from anybody.

What Colbert was basically (wrongly, but popularly) telling the press was exactly what Kerry told me all during 2004. "You are stupid and wrong, but I can tell you how to make it all better because I am smart and right." He may have thought he was 'speaking truth to power', but in fact, he was just practicing name-calling (or the art of guilt by generalized accusation, if you will).

Though I would hope Colbert's career would be harmed by this, it's just one of those infinitely unpredictable details of economics and psychology that it probably won't. Either way, he really showed them all... showed them what and ass he can be. Might as well have just hopped up on the podium, dropped trou, and taken a massive dump on the microphone. :-)