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    • Donation Drive: Set the Schedule for 2015
      The simplest economic principle is this: people do more of what they’re rewarded for.  Right now, I can no longer justify writing at this frequency and level for free. Over the past year I’ve written on ideology, inequality,and austerity.  I’ve discussed fundamental questions like what an economy is, the value of human life and the [...]
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It’s -2 Fahrenheit. Time to put the baby outside for a nap.

In Finland.

It’s tradition there to stick the kid outside in the pram for a brisk 2-3 hour nap in subzero temps. Check out this BBC Soundcloud for all the facts.

Of course, if you are in Finland, you will have received a Baby Box when your kid was born, containing snowsuit, mittens, hats, sleeping bag, etc, so you can safely leave it outside without worrying about it turning into a totcicle.

Here are the contents of a typical official Finnish Baby Box that every Finnish kid gets just for being born. Yes! Even the rich babies get them. They have no idea whether they’re going to grow up to be parasites on society.

article

Americans are cautioned not to do this. The neighbors will report you to CPS.

The Pennington Point: a case study in narcissistic parenting

Oh, Wow, some of the ex-Quiverful people at Patheos, No Longer Quivering and FreeJinger have been following the Pennington family for some time and they have collected some of Lisa Pennington’s parenting tips.

Yesterday, I wrote about the case of Alecia Faith Pennington who is unable to prove that she is a US citizen, or even that she actually exists, because her parents refused to submit a form for her birth certificate or SSN when she was born. There is a bit more information about this case that I can fill in. It seems that on top of being uber-“Christian” homeschoolers like the Duggars, the Penningtons are attempting to go “off the grid” with respect to secular government. That is, they don’t recognize the sovereignty of any governmental authority over them. They also consider social security numbers as “the mark of the beast”. None of this should be unfamiliar terminology to anyone who grew up in an eschatological religious sect. What is different is that these people take the admonition to stay apart from the world very literally.

That would be bad enough for Alecia but her parents are totalitarian nut jobs. I’m sorry, Alecia. You can’t open this bag of worms without harming your parents and they deserve to have their reputations ruined. Alecia Pennington is not responsible for the bad press that her parents are now facing. Her parents did this to themselves. None of their posts are private. They were posted all over the interwebs for their followers to see and worship. They held themselves up as models of “Christian” piety, perfection and discipline.

Before Alecia decided to get out of Dodge, Lisa Pennington, Alecia’s mother, was posting frequently about the regime she put her adult children through. It’s clear that her primary mission was complete control of their lives and convenience to her. She repeatedly uses the words that a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder would use throughout her posts. She says her adult children don’t have any right to live in her house, eat her food or drive her car. They have no right to privacy. She expects them to comply without question to any demand. And they are expected to feel grateful. That’s the key word here. Narcissists use it frequently. The keep account of everything they have ever done for you. Most parents believe that children should be cared for without any conditions or expectations. Narcissists think differently. To a narcissist, a child is lucky that the child is born at all and that incurs a lifelong debt to the parent that can never be remitted. Any provision of housing, nutrition or education is something they are not entitled to as her children but should feel enormous sense of gratitude to her.  She is bestowing her largess not on her children but on some subservient entity. They are suppose to glorify her.

Alecia leaving the compound and making a big stink about having an independent life without her is harshing the mellow she’s been in since she started writing about her perfect Christian life. Her lack of empathy is obvious in her post about Alecia leaving. She can not understand how Alecia could do this to the family or what possible reason she could have for leaving in the first place. Alecia is an extension of herself, therefore, whatever Lisa thinks must be what Alecia is thinking. Alecia does not have her own feelings and desires apart from Lisa.

Anyway, read these posts from Patheos and make up your own mind. These are not nice people and none of them deserve to be held up as pinnacles of perfection by getting their own TV shows.

The Pennington Point on Adult Kids Living at Home (from Love, Joy, Feminism by Libby Anne)

Homeschoolers Anonymous’ post on Alecia’s documentation problem calls it “identification abuse”. It’s not dissimilar to what happens to enslaved sex workers or what rich Kuwaitis do to household servants from South Asia. Their papers are taken away from them so they’re powerless to seek the help of law enforcement. This is what Alecia’s parents are doing to her. Alecia says she is getting the help of a lawyer now but this has been dragging on since September of last year.

Meanwhile, because the Penningtons may have used an unlicensed midwife who didn’t file the birth certificate forms in a timely manner, they may be subject to fines. It’s $500/offense and they have nine children.

They’ll probably claim that it’s a religious liberty issue and appeal all the way to the US Supreme Court (which they don’t recognize).

You heard it here first.

Snow and Chocolate

It snowed all day today in Pittsburgh. It’s not too deep outside. The snow is light and fluffy. I’ve already taken the top layer off. But it did keep me indoors all day. The snow plough passed through a couple of times. The snow closed around its wake and within a half an hour, the road was covered again.

In the meantime, I kept myself occupied with audio books and scouted YouTube for good recipes when I ran across this one. It’s for a spiced chocolate pudding. I had every ingredient except the whole milk. But I’m making it tomorrow for sure. Imagine snuggling up to the fire with a good book and a bowl of this:

Re: Vaccine and Silicon Valley

Digby has a post up about lack of herd immunity in Silicon Valley schools. Note from the graph that the biotechs (Gilead, Genentech) are pretty much up-to-date with their vaccines. They’re over 90% vaccinated. It’s the Googles, Ciscos and Pixars that are slacking.

Ahem, I would just like to say that those IT people are probably the same people who think that drug discovery would be so much more efficient if we all just worked for little start up companies and removed all the complexity from the process.

{{rolling eyes}}

They really haven’t got a clue. Of course, my ability to code is minimal, though I can hold my own in the hardware area.

In the IT world, Moore’s Law is pretty easy to understand. The physics of electricity, magnetism, doping, transistors and the like is fairly well understood. It’s all perfectly straightforward, mostly. There’s very little ambiguity. That’s what science is like for the Silicon Valley entrepreneur. Knowing that the physics is understood and no longer very complex makes it sooooo much easier to “innovate”. So, what’s the problem with pharmaceuticals?

It’s little surprise to me that they don’t get their kids vaccinated. For all their bravado about how to innovate in the realm of science, to them the cell is still a “sufficiently advanced technology that is indistinguishable from magic”. You put vaccines in your body. You don’t inject chips. (It’s coming) They want to give the illusion that they’re geeky types but just like every other animal on earth, they fear what they don’t completely understand and many of them didn’t study quite enough biology.

I never liked the IT department at work. I had to interact with those guys but it was my group that found it necessary to learn their trade, mostly in order to figure out how to circumvent it. They seemed to be completely clueless when it came to the core science that actually paid their bills. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of power in IT. We all use it and we’re all at their mercy. Resistance is, to some extent, useless. We will be subject to their obtuseness during epidemics as well.

Time for a Serial update

Where Lee met Davis?

Where Hae Min Lee met Roy Davis? The corner of Essex Rd and Liberty Rd in Baltimore, MD.

Katiebird is killing the world with Plague on her new iPad so I think I might have lost her temporarily when it comes to Serial. But there has been a lot going on lately with Adnan’s case against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune so I’m doing an update and revising (slightly) my hypothesis on how Hae Min Lee died.

First, a disclaimer: I am firmly in the “Adnan is innocent” camp. I haven’t seen any convincing or physical evidence tying Adnan to the crime. His conviction hinges almost exclusively on the testimony of a witness with a significant conflict of interest.

What has been going on lately is that Rabia Chaudry, Adnan’s family’s friend, and former immigration lawyer, has been speaking at different law schools and universities about Adnan’s case. Just search “Rabia Chaudry” on YouTube and filter by upload date. There are numerous appearances to choose from. Her purpose is to keep the story alive while Adnan’s case winds through the appeal process. She is also raising money to hire lawyers and private investigators so Adnan gets an opportunity to mount a vigorous defense.

The most significant outcome of the Serial podcast so far is that Adnan has been granted another appeal as a result of a hearing that happened last week. His lawyers were able to raise questions about the missing alibi witness, Asia McClain and whether Adnan’s lawyer effectively defended her client when she didn’t call Asia to the stand in the trial back in 2000. The appeal will be heard in June 2015. There are a couple of possible outcomes from the appeal. One is that nothing will change and the judges will rule against Adnan. The second is that he will get a new trial. That could drag things out a bit but I think by the time a new trial comes along, there will be enough evidence to show that the state doesn’t have a case against him. The third possibility is that the state could cut a deal with Adnan for something called an Alford plea. I think that’s a face saving deal for the state where they make the defendant plead guilty while maintaining his innocence. That could get Adnan released on time served but the conviction would still haunt him for the rest of his life. Rabia might be hopeful about this kind of deal but I wouldn’t want that hanging over my head for the rest of my life, especially because the case has been so public. People will always be wondering.

As far as evidence goes, DC lawyer Susan Simpson has been ripping through the state’s case against Adnan. The case was based on cell phone records and witness testimony. That witness was Jay and his testimony is pretty worthless by now. You can find Susan’s invaluable analysis of the “evidence” against Adnan at her blog TheViewFromLL2. Susan is meticulous and thorough. She is able to pull apart the evidence in a way that Sarah Koenig and Dana Chivvas of Serial did not. That’s not to say that Sarah and Dana did anything wrong. They just had a different area of expertise. Susan has a very logical mind and she’s very good at data analysis. If I’m ever accused of murder, I want Susan as my lawyer. She doesn’t miss a thing.

Ok, so on to my updated hypothesis of how the murder of Hae Min Lee happened. You can read about my initial hypothesis here. I am starting with the premise that Adnan is innocent and was unaware of any of the events surrounding the death of Hae on January 13, 1999. Additionally, I am also supposing that Jay also had nothing to do with the crime. He just happened to be on the cops radar for another reason altogether.

Someone killed Hae. My best guess is that it was a serial killer and my best suspect is Roy Sharonnie Davis. Davis is currently serving a sentence for the murder of Jada Danita Lambert, another young Woodlawn woman who died about 7 months before Hae. Lambert’s body was found in Herring Run Park about 30 minutes east of Woodlawn HS and there’s a gas station not far from this park where Hae’s credit card was used. So, here’s my best guess as to how the whole thing went down:

Hae Min Lee is at the school until almost 3:00pm on January 13. She talks to several reliable witnesses who say they remember her being there. She speaks to her co-coach for the boy’s wrestling team who reports that Hae says she is not taking the bus to the wrestling match. She is driving herself there. She has other things to do in the meantime, the first of which is picking up her cousin from daycare.

Hae leaves the school at about 3pm and heads to Campfield Early Learning Center. (Consult the Serial Podcast Locations map to follow the route).  She can take two possible routes to get from Woodlawn HS to the daycare center. One is the Rt 695 main artery running north-south. The other route is the back way through a residential area. If we think back to the Serial episode on “Route Talk”, we may remember that the area between the school and Rt. 695 is congested at that time of the day. If you’re in a hurry, you’d probably want to stay clear of that area. It takes almost 20 minutes for Sarah and Dana to go about 2 miles. So, let’s assume that Hae took the residential route.

Hae gets on Woodlawn Dr, makes a left onto Windsor Mill Road and a right onto Essex Road. That will eventually intersect with Liberty Road. Hae would stay on Essex and cross Liberty to get to the Campfield daycare. Along this route are two known addresses for Roy Davis. The first is at a place called Woodgreen Circle. Woodgreen Circle is a street behind Essex on the way to Liberty. The other known address is in the 7500 block of Liberty Road.

This is where I enter the realm of speculation but that’s Ok because that’s all the cops have with regard to Adnan’s involvement so my guess is as good as theirs is at this point.

I’ve tried to think of how Hae might have encountered Davis in this area and my best guess is that it happened in a gas station parking lot. I’m guessing that Hae was low on gas so she stopped to get some at the gas station at the corner of Essex Road and Liberty Road. There’s a Shell station at that corner along with some other stores. If you just want to get a few bucks of gas, you go in to the store to pay for the gas with cash before you pump it. Credit cards for high school students in 1999 are for emergencies only. I know because I had a teenager with a car living in my house back then.

Maybe she didn’t make it into the store because the gas station attendants should have remembered her. Maybe Davis encountered her in the parking lot, forced her back into the car and took her on a drive. Did he pretend he was a full service attendant? Did she roll down her window? Did he threaten her? Catch her off guard? Smack her on the right side of her head with something to scare her? Does he force himself into her car?

Somewhere between the corner of Essex and Liberty and the Crown Gas Station on the corner of Northern Parkway and Harford Road, Davis presumably killed Hae. If Davis wants to relive his previous experiences with Lambert, he heads east on Liberty towards Herring Run Park. He makes a left onto Northern Parkway. Then, after he kills her, he realizes that the car was almost out of gas so he stops to put a gallon in the car at the gas station at the corner of Northern Parkway and Harford Road. Otherwise, he’s got to get rid of the body and he’d be stuck in a stalled car at the side of the road. Someone might notice him walking away from the car that they later find contains a dead body.

We can all speculate why he chooses to bury the body in Leakin Park. It’s closer to home if he’s going to have to ditch the car. Is there a bus route on Edmonson Ave? Yes, there is and several routes come off of it going north towards Davis’ home. There might have been too many people around in Herring Run Park to dump the body there so he found somewhere closer to home where the notoriety of leaving a dead body there would look almost commonplace. He leaves the body face down in the car, waits until later that night and buries the body in Leakin Park. Then he ditches the car on Edmonson Ave and takes the last bus towards home.

I’m not the first person to speculate on this route or encounter with Davis. Reddit has a few adventurous types who stray far from the Adnan-Jay nexus of culpability. Koenig has probably thought of it as well. The reason why it has been underplayed may be that a.) Davis is still alive and it’s improper for Koenig to defame him before he’s officially a suspect (?) and b.) Davis is at the same correctional facility that houses Adnan and the last thing you want is for Adnan’s story to get the attention of a violent serial killer in jail with you. Yeah, that would keep me up at night too.

Meanwhile, Deirdre Enright’s Innocence Project at UVA is sitting on a DNA request. They’re hoping that the samples are not contaminated and biding their time.

Stay tuned.

Re: Pharma, Yes! The left can be taught.

Matt Stoller at Ian Welsh’s blog gets a clue using Pfizer’s acquisitions as an example of the financialization of the pharmaceutical industry. At least he isn’t beating up on R&D for making crappy drugs. He’s opened the door a crack and peered in. Fascinating, eh, Matt? There’s a career making piece in there.

The Conflucian policy advice to Hillary Clinton on economics

It’s a bit much for one dragon.

She didn’t ask for my opinion but she’s getting 200 advisors to tell her theirs. The problem she is facing is how to rebalance the country in terms of income inequality without, you know, pissing off the ultra wealthy. I’m not sure it can be done. A little bit of a snit is to be expected in all likelihood. Although, maybe she could have someone from Vox put together one of those cool and groovy graphics that demonstrate that no matter how hard the vanishing middle class works, we will never be able to afford our own yachts. That might bring a tear to the eyes of the 1%. The graphics should show how big a boat you can buy on a lifetime of $32000/year (if you’re lucky enough to get that these days) compared to what Steve Ballmer can buy.

Ok, so what would I recommend? Well, the rich are not going to like this but I’m not really interested in how the rich feel about these things. I’m only interested in bringing back prosperity, income security and innovation to the American middle class. It’s not all about them, except they are behaving like greedy dragons sitting on a giant pile of gold. If they’d just get off the stash we wouldn’t have any problems with the rich. I don’t envy their wealth and don’t want to be like them. I just want to be fairly compensated without feeling like I just got a handout that i didn’t deserve.

What I see as the biggest obstacle to income equality is what I call “exploitative profit mining”. That is the idea that Americans  can be harvested for various wealth through rents, fees and deregulation. I don’t want to feel like a crop anymore. The number one biggest policy initiative that I would propose is to eliminate the incentives to take advantage of everyday Americans simply because there is no one making sure it doesn’t happen. Than means reregulation. I can already hear the screams and howls from the flaming swamp monsters of the ridiculously rich. We can start at Wall Street. Let’s stop rewarding excessive financialization and risk taking. Maybe this would mean that Wall Street bonuses have to be capped at no more than 15% of income. That’s right, give those guys a straight salary. Maybe this would mean you can’t work an analyst to death at 100 hours a week. Go through every industry and increase the compensation to all stakeholders, not just the shareholders. Hire good managers and stop making CEOs co-owners who have an incentive to increase the values of their options at everyone else’s expense. That’s not socialism. That’s fairness.

Speaking of shareholders, I would like to see an alternative to the 401K. Americans should not be forced to gamble their retirement savings at a global casino. It’s immoral to require non-wealthy Americans to do this. Sorry, I’m not into it. I don’t like risk, especially when I’m going to have to live on that money. Plus, the 401K system undermines industries and innovations that create jobs. We have all seen investments gain in value when jobs are eliminated. The work still has to be done but it’s sent overseas or heaped onto the backs of people who are left after the lay off bloodbath. It’s inefficient and it destroys wealth of the middle class. Again, shareholders are not the only people who count. Bring back defined benefit pensions.

Medicare for all. There I said it. It’s ridiculous that anyone in this country has to be at risk of losing everything they’ve worked for all of their lives because cruelty is the flavor of the day on TV and radio. Let’s stop beating people when they’re down. If there are going to be sacrifices, everyone should have to make them, including the people getting rich on hip joint replacements and hospital beds. If you can’t get Medicare for all, at least impost cost controls and uniform fee schedules. Insurance companies shouldn’t have to negotiate different payments for each course of treatment based on how much profit providers think they can reap. Obamacare is not the wonderful panacea it’s been made out to be and it was never supposed to control costs. Let’s stop lying about it.

For god’s sakes, do something about long term unemployment. We’ve been hanging out here for too long. The jobs numbers are not telling the whole story. There are too many part time positions, too many temp positions and salaries are too low. Plus, ageism is rampant. Those of us who have decades to go before we can retire need to live on something. In the meantime, our lives are on hold. We can’t spend money because we don’t have it. That’s a drag on the economy and it depresses the wages of everyone else. People in the sciences especially need help. There’s a blighted generation that needs to be working. Set up some  private-public research labs, pay us a living wage and let’s get on with it already. We’re being wasted out here.

Those are some of my suggestions. I can think of a zillion more. We need to work on infrastructure, especially broadband. We need to gradually free ourselves from fossil fuel. The lefties will make climate change the reason but I’m just as interested in loosening the control of the super rich oil barons on the rest of our lives. Their price manipulations affect everything from mass transit initiatives to food prices. We should be allowed to choose whether we want to be owned by oil. I choose not to.

By the way, I don’t want profit sharing. I want a nice, steady income with a living wage. I’ve seen profit sharing schemes and they’re not serious. They are no substitute for stability. Our corporate overlords have a different value system than average Americans. Some of us do not want to be our own bosses, aren’t particularly turned on by playing capitalist games and just want the sweet relief of a regular paycheck. Recognize this. It’s important. Let’s stop measuring success in terms of how many yachts we can buy. Success can mean many things from discovering a new drug to being the best baker around. It’s not all about money.

I invite other Confucians to chime in here. What would your advice be to Hillary?

Finally, here is a video from one of my favorite straight talking Australians, Jane Caro. Caro has a background in advertising but she has been a popular speaker on education and feminism as well. In this video, Caro speaks about Dangerous Ideas. Her bit on quotas for women on boards and other institutions is brilliant. Not to be missed. So, I would add as a final suggestion to Hillary to institute a Gender Glasses program like they have in Finland. That is a government office that actually gathers cold, hard statistics from workplaces that demonstrate whether there is discrimination that prevents women from succeeding. No more “he said/she said”. If statistics are good enough in sports, they’re good enough to prove sexism in the workplace. Let’s measure everything. This country is way too deferential to men’s needs and ignores the economic impact on women’s lives.

Fast forward to about the 3 minute mark to Jane’s introduction.

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