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Journal: Communist Manifesto Reading Club Part I 5

Journal by smitty_one_each
Welcome to the Communist Manifesto reading club.
1. This is a team effort. I'm doing this in conjunction with damn_registrars. I'm willing to give this tract more than a casual skim, but only if those at least posing as sympathizers with Marx & Engels are playing along. That is, I'll read this text, but not as an example of stupid human tricks, m'kay?
2. Participants shall capture the "next few" paragraphs, up to ~300 words or so, such that we're including and analyzing a small, but substantial, amount of material.
3. We'll endeavor to read this in the classically Platonic mode of dispassionate inquiry. Biases happen, but like spice in food, need not require every dish to be inedible. I'm not sympathetic toward the authors, but let's give them their due, not doo-doo.
4. Installments will be whenever, hopefully not at a frequency lower than weekly. No one is under any sort of obligation in any direction, but I'll start this. If the other half of the team turns out to be a dud, I will not accuse him of being out of character.

Manifesto of the Communist Party

A spectre is haunting Europe â" the spectre of communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Tsar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies.
Where is the party in opposition that has not been decried as communistic by its opponents in power? Where is the opposition that has not hurled back the branding reproach of communism, against the more advanced opposition parties, as well as against its reactionary adversaries?
Two things result from this fact:
I. Communism is already acknowledged by all European powers to be itself a power.
II. It is high time that Communists should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the Spectre of Communism with a manifesto of the party itself.
To this end, Communists of various nationalities have assembled in London and sketched the following manifesto, to be published in the English, French, German, Italian, Flemish and Danish languages.

"A spectre is haunting Europe. . ."
Marx starts off a bit 'tinfoil hat', but:
(a) this is not a boring academic text, and a ball-grabber is perfectly reasonable for an opener,
(b) there is no reason to doubt the assertion that the PTB were as keen then on stomping political expression as the IRS has done to the Tea Parties in our day.
(c) Bismarck's subsequent creation of the Social Welfare State in Germany is a tacit acknowledgment of the pressures at work.

"Where is the opposition. . ."
This is sort of like how capitalism is currently disparaged in academia and the media. There must always be an Other, no? Let me add that I'm noting this as a pattern, without supporting it. Because I'm more comfortable with the group/self dichotomy as the source of friction than I am with Us. vs. Them, which seems more subjective, and prone to manipulation by pointy-bearded losers down at the coffee shop.

Chapter I. Bourgeois and Proletarians

The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.
Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.
In the earlier epochs of history, we find almost everywhere a complicated arrangement of society into various orders, a manifold gradation of social rank. In ancient Rome we have patricians, knights, plebeians, slaves; in the Middle Ages, feudal lords, vassals, guild-masters, journeymen, apprentices, serfs; in almost all of these classes, again, subordinate gradations.

"The history of all hitherto. . ."
I'm going to stipulate right here that the C.M. is NOT a full historical treatment. Thus, I'll provisionally accept this assertion. You kind of have to, or the exercise of reading further is dead in the water. That said, it's fair to say that Marx neither justifies this assertion here, nor points to elsewhere in his emissions that this wrenching course change in historical analysis is supported. Also, the science on this one isn't settled. Disbelief is officially suspended. I will henceforth use the acronym "DIOS" whenever reading C.M. and experiencing food arriving in my mouth from a non-standard direction.

"Freeman and slave. . ."
What bothers me about this enumeration is the attempt to sell the static nature of the societal org-chart. I'm just not sure the classes that Marx is alluding to were as statically compiled as he contends. Men rose and fell continually, their women with them. That "guild-master and journeyman" existed meant more of a career path than the master/servant relationship Marx wants it to.
In the earlier epochs of history, we find almost everywhere a complicated arrangement of society
Yeah? So? Among the bigger modern yawners is the Myth of the Noble Savage where there is an allusion to some Edenic golden age existence where the air was filled with "Let the Good Times Roll" by the Cars, and people were all swell to each other and stuff, prior to this pesky capitalism and the technology it breeds.
Well, put your money where your mouth is, say I. If you want to live an Old Order Amish then Be. My. Flipping. Guest. Just go do it. Knock your socks off. But don't sit there in the coffee shop, sipping a latte, bemoaning the weight of technology on your iPad, and expect other than contempt from me.

So, there you have it. Over to you damn_registrars.

User Journal

Journal: On posting anonymously 14

Journal by squiggleslash opposed to pseudonymously.

I'm finding it easier to post 100% honestly when I post AC on at least one subject at the moment. Why? Well, because if I post pseudonymously then I risk inflaming the wrath of an extremely nutty group, and I really don't have the time or patience or stomach for the kind of harassment I'd expect if I piss that group off.

I say this because it's a counterpoint to some of the stuff that's been said recently, especially in response to, for example, GamerGate and related Tech Sexism controversies, where many are of the opinion that anonymity has little value, encouraging the lowest forms of life to crawl out and make terrible attacks (such as death threats) without fearing the repercussions.

I have some sympathy with the position, but I also think linking identities to comments can severely limit people's ability to comment on things that genuinely bother them when there's a degree of mob like behavior by some on the opposing side of the issue in question.

Accountability is a force of moderation, but accountability cannot be the only means by which commentary is moderated, merely a significant but not insurmountable factor.

Update: This seems relevant ;-)

User Journal

Journal: As a conservative, I take full responsibility for ebola 10

Journal by smitty_one_each
Liberalsâ(TM) new message: You know who is responsible for Ebola outbreak in America? Conservatives
Never mind that I really don't actually wish harm to anyone; have vulnerable children; understand that ebola is likely to hurt the half of the economy still working, and not the couch potatoes. Oh no. The Holy Narrative must be protected. So, dutifully, I assume the role of bitter, raaaaacist, misogynist cling-on, Bible in my left hand, .45 in my right, and strike my best straw-man for you.
User Journal

Journal: Abject moron claims control over 1/26th of the alphabet 40

Journal by smitty_one_each
You have to enjoy the full context of this cranial rectalitis:
damn_registrars: "You were one of slashdot's foremost purveyors of President Lawnchair's pointless TLA"
me: "FDR, LBJ, BHO, WTF?"
d_r: "We have had the discussion before on why that argument holds no water. Bringing it back up is pointless. Take your fear mongering to a different discussion."
me: "That argument, and the rest of my post, is thoroughly buoyant."
d_r: "Wrong, wrong, wrong. You are full of shit on that one for the same reason you were full of shit on it before. You gave examples of three past presidents who are known by their initials, and I pointed out why they are known by their initials -
The all came from families where others with the same last name were president and/or commonly known as holding elected office in DC
You cannot say the same about Obama. Our government has never had anyone else elected by the last name of Obama. Your argument is invalid, end of story."

Listen, Hot Rod: you don't get to make some arbitrary distinction understood only by you, take the American tradition of referring to Presidents by initials, and bully people into not saying BHO.
Now take your bullying and get thee hence, creep.
You're just being peevish because you straight up lost the 'tantamount' discussion.
User Journal

Journal: Three years after Steve died... 1

Journal by jcr

I don't think I've written this down anywhere before, so here's my story about the first time I had a face-to-face conversation with Steve Jobs.

I was working for Richard Kerris in Apple Worldwide Developer Relations, on a group called the SWAT team. I was the Cocoa expert on that team, and I had colleagues who had expertise in UNIX internals, Windows development, and the Metrowerks tools.

Our role was to help third-party developers bring their products to Mac OS X, whether they were coming from Windows, Solaris, Mac OS 9, etc. We would look over their code, and consult with them on how to go about porting and/or rewriting their products for the new platform.

I went to Fred Anderson's retirement party which was held at Cafe Macs in Building four of the Infinite Loop campus. I saw Steve there, and I went over to introduce myself. I said "Hi Steve, I'm John Randolph. You may or may not recognize my name, but I used to flame you from time to time before I worked here." He asked me "Why did you stop?" I told him "Well, I work here now, and I respect the chain of command."

At the time we had this conversation, there was a big fight going on between the foot-dragging laggards who wanted to keep using the old Mac Toolbox API (which had been cleaned up considerably and put into a framework we called "Carbon"), and those of us who wanted to get everyone using the NeXTStep-derived "Cocoa" frameworks,

At the previous WWDC, Steve had started the keynote with a bit of theater: a coffin had risen up through a trap door on the stage, in the midst of a cloud of dry ice fog. Steve had opened the coffin to show a big Mac OS 9 box, and he praised OS 9 in a eulogy, to make the point that Apple developers should consider it dead and gone.

So getting back to our conversation.. I told Steve what I was doing on Richard's team, and I said "I know that you can't do this politically, but I wish you could have another coffin on the stage at the next WWDC...." and he said: "With Carbon in it?"

He was grinning. At that point, I realized that I could quit worrying about where Apple's development environment was heading. Steve knew what we needed to do, and in the years that followed, Apple has kept the best of NeXT's technology, and let go of what we didn't need.

We miss you Steve, but we're doing fine. Thanks for the things you made happen.


User Journal

Journal: I Sure Some Sycophant Will Claim They Were "Just Doing Their Job" 102

Journal by smitty_one_each

So, to sum up: it is likely that members of the Obama administration committed federal crimes by illegally sharing confidential taxpayer information with the White House for political purposes. With luck, we will find out for sure before our next president is inaugurated. The alternative is that a high-ranking White House official fabricated a baseless smear against the administrationâ(TM)s political opponents and passed it on to reporters to further the administrationâ(TM)s political agenda. Any way you look at it, this is a shameful episode in the already bleak history of the Obama administration.

Come on, defend it like it was the targeting of the Tea Parties, and collecting taxes is just what the IRS does, or something. Every time you use the Nuremberg Defense, down in Hell, Satan has a chuckle. Losers.


Journal: How Dangerous is Being a Cop in the US? 15

Journal by Jeremiah Cornelius
How Dangerous is Being a Cop in the US?

I saw a posting on Facebook (which I can no longer find, because Facebook posts are ephemeral and the algorithm used to put things on your timeline is apparently unstable) talking about the cost/person of police departments in major cities throughout the US. In the comments was the question "how much do you pay someone to risk getting shot every day?" with the implication that your average police officer in the US faces a substantial risk of death by gunfire daily, and therefore whatever the costs were, they were a good value.

And that got me thinking. Always a dangerous place for me to go.

How dangerous is it to be a police officer in the US? Is there significant risk of dying by gunfire? How does it compare with other occupations?

So let's go.

How many police officers are there in the US? How is that number changing annually?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 780,000 "Police and Detectives" in the US in 2012. That's our baseline. That number, BTW, is expected to grow by 5% by 2022, totaling about 821,000 by then. I'd love more data about this, but it's all I could find in a quick search, so we'll consider 780K as our baseline number of police in the US.

How many police officers died in the line of duty in 2012? Was that number "typical" for the years around it?
According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 122 officers died in the line of duty in 2012. That number is low compared to 2010 (161) and 2011 (171), but high compared to 2013 (100), so let's dig a little deeper with a graph:

Police Deaths by Year 1990-2013

Graph by Evan Robinson

Frankly, I think I see a slight downward trend in the data, but the math says otherwise. There's virtually no correlation between passage of time and number of police deaths. I note that 2001 (241) is quite an outlier. You have to go back to 1981 to get another year where more than 200 police died, but in the 70s, only 1977 (192) had fewer than 200 police deaths. The 70s were far worse than the 60s, which were worse than the 50s.

What's the chance of death in the line of duty for a police officer in the US? What's the chance of death by gunfire?
If there are 780,000 police officers in the US and 159.4 die annually (the mean from 1990 and 2013 inclusive), the chance of dying is 159.4 in 780,000 or 1 in 4892.8 or .0002. That's about 2 hundredths of a percent. Specifically taking 2012 numbers, it's 122 in 780,000 or 1 in 6393 or .00016, or about 16 thousandths of a percent. But let's take the higher number of 1 in about 4890, again .0002. Expressed as a death rate per 100,000, that is 20.4 -- that is, 20.4 of every 100,000 police officers in the US die annually from line-of-duty causes.

The overall annual death rate in the US for 2010 (the most recent final value I can find according to the Department of Health and Human Services, at the CDC website) was 747.0, with a preliminary value of 740.6 for 2011. So police line-of-duty death rates are about 3% of total mean death rates.

Police line-of-duty deaths, while tragic, are not a significant risk compared to mean death rates in the US.

But wait, we want to talk about gun-related police deaths, right? Again according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, in 2012 50/122 officers killed died from gunfire. Over the past decade, the mean percentage of officer deaths from gunfire was 36%. So the gun-related death rate is 20.4*.36 = 7.4 per 100,000.

How do these death rates compare with other ages, causes, and professions?
In 2008 (the most recent year for which data in a complete Statistical Abstract of the United States is available), the only age range to have a death rate anywhere near that low is 5-14, where the male death rate was 24 and the female death rate was 12. Police officer line-of-duty deaths are therefore less common (statistically) than any death of 5-14 year old boys, although more common than 5-14 year old girls. Line-of-duty gun deaths are about one-third as common as all deaths of 5-14 year old boys and about half as common as all deaths of 5-14 year old girls. In 2008, the mean death rate for males 25-35 (in which age range I imagine many police officers fall) was 225. For males 35-44 it was 348. So depending upon their age range, police officers are between 10x and 17x more likely to die from non-work-related causes than line-of-duty causes. And 30x to 47x more likely to die from non-work-related causes than line-of-duty gunfire.

In 2006, comparable causes of death to all line-of-duty deaths include: Heart Failure (excluding ischemic heart disease aka "a heart attack") at 20.2; NonTransport Accidents (including falls, drowning, smoke inhalation, fire/flames, and poisoning) at 24.4; Diabetes at 24.2; Alzheimer's disease at 24.2; Drug and Alcohol induced deaths (combined) at 20.2.

Also in 2006, comparable causes of death to gun-related line-of-duty deaths include: prostate cancer at 9.5; Leukemia at 7.3; Falls at 7.0; Alcohol induced deaths at 7.4.

According to preliminary data for 2013 (see page 14), the rate of "fatal occupational injuries" in Construction is 9.4 per 100,000; Transportation and Warehousing is 13.1; Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting is 22.2; Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction is 12.3.

In other words, it's as dangerous to be a police officer as it is to be a farmer (3 million people), forester or logger (1.7 million people), commercial fisherman (1 million people) or hunter (about 14,000 people). So there are over 5.7 million jobs in the US more dangerous than being a police officer. And another 6 million in construction, which has a higher death rate than police gun-related deaths.

What's it all mean?
So yeah, being a police officer is a dangerous job, but the job-related danger is much less than your basic life-related danger (health problems, general accidents, etc.). And there are about 7 times more people doing Ag-related jobs which are more dangerous than being a police officer.

So what do we have to pay these people to risk being shot every day? I'd say a mean of about $57K per year, which is what they get. Maybe we need to raise the pay of the people in Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting, who get mean annual wages in the $18K - $41K range for more dangerous jobs.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
I realize that putting the TL;DR way down here kind of defeats the purpose, but it allows me to put the conclusion after the work, which I like.

Being a police officer is a dangerous occupation. But there are plenty of people in the US who do more dangerous jobs for far less pay. Police line of duty death rates are comparable to death rates from Diabetes and Alzheimer's disease or the combination of drug and alcohol induced deaths. Police line of duty shooting death rates are comparable to alcohol induced deaths, Leukemia, or death by falling. A male police officer between 25 and 44 is many times (10x - 17x) more likely to die from a non-work-related cause than to die in the line of duty. And only about one-third of those line-of-duty deaths are gun-related.

And here's something else to think about
On average a police officer dies in the line of duty in the US about every 55 hours (everything you need for this calculation is above so I'm not going to insult your intelligence by including it). On average a police officer kills a civilian (about 400 annually) about every 22 hours. So I think we have more to worry about from them than they do from us.

The Matrix

Journal: The Matrix is Mimetic 13

Journal by Jeremiah Cornelius

As Yuval Harari points out, "What is so special about us that allows for such cooperation? Unflatteringly, it is our talent for deluding ourselves. If you examine any large-scale human cooperation (or co-option), you will always find some imaginary story at its base. As long as many people believe in the same stories about gods, nations, money or human rights (memes and antitropes) - they follow the same laws and rules (of conduct)."

Air is water with holes in it.