How about decimation for the Memphis police department and city government?

The Killing of Tyre Nichols seems to be fading from the news. The New York Times thinks that pizza is more important:

There has been no coherent explanation thus far of why the police killed this particular guy, as opposed to all of the other people with whom they interact daily, but presumably no explanation could justify their actions.

We are informed that the problem is the culture/institution, not the individuals. See “The Myth Propelling America’s Violent Police Culture” (Atlantic, Jan 31, 2023):

This past weekend, as I watched the videos of Tyre Nichols being beaten to death, I asked myself, Why does this keep happening? But I know the answer: It’s police culture—rooted in a tribal mentality, built on a false myth of a war between good and evil, fed by political indifference to the real drivers of violence in our communities. We continue to use police to maintain order as a substitute for equality and adequate social services. It will take a generation of courageous leaders to change this culture, to reject this myth, and to truly promote a mission of service—a mission that won’t drive officers to lose their humanity.

The organization is at fault, in other words, and the problems extend to the city government as a whole because crime wouldn’t happen if there were “equality and adequate social services”. The author’s point that police officers’ behavior are primarily driven by peer expectations rings true and, therefore, merely imprisoning or executing a few rogue officers won’t stop the next murder by police.

What would happen in Roman times if there were serious problems with a military unit (and the police in the U.S. definitely qualify as “military”)? Decimation:

Decimation (Latin: decimatio; decem = “ten”) was a form of Roman military discipline in which every tenth man in a group was executed by members of his cohort. The discipline was used by senior commanders in the Roman army to punish units or large groups guilty of capital offences, such as cowardice, mutiny, desertion, and insubordination, and for pacification of rebellious legions.

The word decimation is derived from Latin meaning “removal of a tenth”. The procedure was an attempt to balance the need to punish serious offences with the realities of managing a large group of offenders.

A cohort (roughly 480 soldiers) selected for punishment by decimation was divided into groups of ten. Each group drew lots (sortition), and the soldier on whom the lot of the shortest straw fell was executed by his nine comrades, often by stoning, clubbing, or stabbing. The remaining soldiers were often given rations of barley instead of wheat (the latter being the standard soldier’s diet) for a few days, and required to bivouac outside the fortified security of the camp for some time.

As the punishment fell by lot, all soldiers in a group sentenced to decimation were potentially liable for execution, regardless of individual degrees of fault, rank, or distinction.

An authentic Roman-style decimation would presumably offend modern sensibilities, but maybe the proven management technique could be adapted for our kinder, gentler world (albeit not kinder or gentler for Tyre Nichols). In addition to individual punishments for the perpetrators (they’re charged with second-degree murder so they cannot be executed), why not cut the salary of every employee in the Memphis police department by 10 percent and take away a year of pension entitlement? The chief of police (“Memphis Police Department’s first Black female chief”) and mayor (“A Democrat, he previously served as a member of the Memphis City Council”) would be fired. These kinds of punishments would give institutions the incentive to reform themselves. Absent collective punishment, which of course will seem unfair to many, why should institutions bother to change?


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Following up on the Covidian Dream State of Israel

It has been two years since victory-through-vaccination was declared in Israel. Let’s check in and see how the county “did” as the Covidians say (the implication being that preserving lives from SARS-CoV-2 is the only goal of a human or a government and therefore the proper way to measure the overall success of a society is by a single excess deaths number).

Israel was a Covidian Dream State second only to China. Israel closed schools and businesses, made it illegal for people to gather and socialize, forced the peasants to wear masks, forced people to get vaccinated by excluding them from jobs, public places, etc. if they #Resisted. Israel did not suffer from the malgovernance of Donald Trump, who told Americans to inject bleach and steal their dogs’ ivermectin heartworm pills. Israel obtained the Sacrament of Fauci from Pfizer sooner than any other country. Given the proven effectiveness of mRNA vaccines, if any country could have escaped the ravages of COVID it should have been Israel.

What was the result? A dramatically worse outcome than in no-mask, no-lockdown, later-to-the-vaccination-party Sweden (Our World in Data):

Sweden suffered from 5% excess deaths over three years of coronapanic while Israel suffered 9%. What could be worse than that? Well… what if we adjust for demographics? We are informed by the CDC that COVID primarily kills infants and toddlers, which is why it is critical to ensure that year-old babies get their bivalent booster as a 4th shot. If we ignore CDC guidance and use Maskachusetts and international data that COVID kills at a median age of about 80, we would have expected Israel to suffer much less than Sweden from COVID. Israel’s median age, says the Google, is 30.5 versus 41.1 in Sweden.

Sweden is tough to beat, you say, because Anders Tegnell, MD, PhD was so smart? At least Israel beat the U.S., right? The above map shows that the U.S. suffered a 14% rate of excess deaths. However… the median age in the U.S. is 38.1.

If we adjust for age, therefore, it is quite possible that Israel, despite meeting all of the conditions of a Covidian Dream State, actually “did worse” than the packed-with-Deplorables United States!


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Battle of the Science-deniers at the Australian Open

What could be more unusual in the tennis world than the 1988 Australian Open? From Wikipedia:

Another event dubbed a “Battle of the Sexes” took place during the 1998 Australian Open between Karsten Braasch and the Williams sisters. Venus and Serena Williams had claimed that they could beat any male player ranked outside the world’s top 200, so Braasch, then ranked 203rd, challenged them both. Braasch was described by one journalist as “a man whose training regime centered around a pack of cigarettes and more than a couple of bottles of ice cold lager”. The matches took place on court number 12 in Melbourne Park, after Braasch had finished a round of golf and two shandies. He first took on Serena and after leading 5–0, beat her 6–1. Venus then walked on court and again Braasch was victorious, this time winning 6–2.

The gender-neutral (ATP) final match featured an elderly Long COVID survivor who went to prison rather than accept the Sacrament of Fauci (see Avoid travel to Australia now that Novak Djokovic is on the loose?). What were the odds of this unsanctified spreader of Covid competing against another Denier of Science? “Why So Many Tennis Players Don’t Want the Covid Vaccine” (NYT, August 2021):

Third-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas caused an uproar in his native Greece this month after he said he would get vaccinated only if it were required to continue competing.

“I don’t see any reason for someone of my age to do it,” said Tsitsipas, 23. “It hasn’t been tested enough and it has side effects. As long as it’s not mandatory, everyone can decide for themselves.”

Giannis Oikonomou, a spokesman for the Greek government, said Tsitsipas “has neither the knowledge nor the studies nor the research work that would allow him to form an opinion” about the necessity for vaccination, and added that people like athletes who are widely admired should be “doubly careful in expressing such views.”

Who watched the match? We were on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas and were too busy with Flowrider to spectate. At $100 per day per adult (kids free), the passengers were a representative cross-section of America, including quite a few Blacks and Latinx. Together with about 150 of our fellow cruise fans, we watched the first half of the Eagles-49ers playoff on the ship’s big screen and the crowd burst out laughing when the announcer referred to “Doctor Jill Biden” being in the audience. (We’re still in a COVID-19 emergency (not to be confused with the “existential” climate crisis), which is why filthy unvaccinated foreigners like Novak Djokovic cannot come here on a two-week paid visit, and our nation’s top physician has time to watch a football game?)

A view of the Finnish-built magnificents on the walk back from the charming all-natural island of Coco Cay on game day:

(Pro tip: Try not to visit Coco Cay until March or April. The huge pool is unheated, there is no hot tub, and the ocean is cold!)

Here’s what Flowrider is supposed to look like:

Beginners lie down on a boogie board until they end up in a tangle of limbs up at the top. (I told everyone that I made more than $3,000 in two Flowrider sessions… female spectators paying me to put my shirt back on.)

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I need some English lessons

“Mustard’s Ex-Wife Demands Over $80k Per Month In Child Support” (HipHopDX) has me wondering if the English language has moved on without me.

The article starts off simple:

DJ Mustard’s ex-wife has reportedly demanded the producer pay her over $80,000 a month in child support. … Chanel Thierry filed an order to a California judge on issues of child support, custody, spousal support, attorney’s fees, … he and Chanel Thierry had signed a prenuptial agreement prior to their 2020 wedding.

In other words, a Californian hopes to bank roughly $1 million/year tax-free in child support (straightforward under California family law), a claim that wouldn’t be impaired by a prenuptial agreement barring alimony, property division, etc.

Where it gets confusing are the public Instagram posts from the mom.

How is it possible to fit three children and an adult driver into a Lamborghini? I haven’t even been able to get myself into one. Maybe she means the absurd Lamborghini SUV?

What does “My Legs Move For The Bag” mean?

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The Zoom-based federal government

I spent Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Washington, D.C. My white friend who earns $200,000 in total compensation as a government worker was enjoying a holiday while the Black service/retail industry workers who get $15/hr had to come in for their regular shifts. Over a leisurely holiday lunch, she explained the current structure of a typical federal agency. “Nobody has to come in,” she said, “and most of the people who work for me haven’t come into the office for months. I go in two or three days a week just to get out of the house, but it is not required.” Why wouldn’t the young people she manages want to come in and get out of their crummy apartments? “A junior programmer wouldn’t get paid more than $90,000 per year, so he couldn’t afford to live in the city anyway. One guy lives out in Gaithersburg with his brother and it is too much effort to come in. The rest of the Millennials aren’t interested even if they do live, with parental support, reasonably close to our office.”

A reader recently sent me “D.C. Mayor to Biden: Your Teleworking Employees Are Killing My City” (Politico, January 20, 2023):

At the swearing-in this month for her third term as the District of Columbia’s mayor, Muriel Bowser delivered a surprising inaugural-address ultimatum of sorts to the federal government: Get your employees back to in-person work — or else vacate your lifeless downtown office buildings so we can fill the city with people again.

This is an odd position for Mayor Bowser. She was an enthusiastic proponent of Science, i.e., lockdowns, school closure, forced masking, and vaccine papers checks. Given that SARS-CoV-2 is live and kicking, she’s the last person one would expect to advocate mass gatherings in office buildings, on the Metro, etc. The virus didn’t change; why did she?

Federal telework policies vary, but in general they’re generous — a major change from the situation that prevailed before 2020. Pre-pandemic, only 3 percent of feds teleworked daily, even as the private-sector workforce across the country had made at least some strides. After Covid, parts of the government caught up in a hurry, embracing telework in the name of public health.

For federal employees, and the public they serve, the new flexibility has some upsides. Beyond the fact that some people just don’t much like commuting to an office every day, the prospect of being able to work from home even if home means Tennessee or Texas is good for retention, since a federal paycheck goes a lot farther once you leave one of the nation’s priciest metro areas. (It also might accomplish, inadvertently, the longtime GOP goal of moving chunks of the bureaucracy away from the capital.)

According to John Falcicchio, the city’s economic-development boss and Bowser’s chief of staff, the federal government’s 200,000 D.C. jobs represent roughly a quarter of the total employment base; the government also occupies a third of Washington office space — not just the cabinet departments whose ornate headquarters dot Federal Triangle, but plenty of the faceless privately held buildings in the canyons around Farragut Square, too.

“Or another way to look at it is Metro,” the regional transit system, he says. “It’s about a third of what it used to be.”

The D.C. city government is setting an example by making its own workers come into the office five days per week? No!

He also made clear that Bowser wasn’t calling for the same back-to-normal as Comer’s legislation: Her own government currently expects non-frontline workers to be in offices at least three days a week, not five, something he said would be a good model for feds, too.

The D.C. government laptop class, in other words, can leave for the Delaware beaches on Thursday evening and not return until Tuesday morning.

When I was up in Boston, I was somewhat surprised to find a friend who is a senior federal official living there. She manages a $2 billion budget and a correspondingly epic number of people. She hasn’t been required to report to her D.C. office since March 2020.

Now it’s photo time!

A young Covidian and her dad, both masked, board our jammed BOS-DCA flight (somehow I doubt this was a required business trip!):

Want to pay $8 for a cup of drip coffee, but don’t want to take the Covid risk of a jammed flight to San Francisco? Blue Bottle is all over D.C. (this one in Georgetown):

The C&O Canal has looked better:

(George Washington was a huge investor in the Potomac Company, which sought to build a canal like the above, and thus had a massive financial incentive to bring the nation’s capital down from NY or Philadelphia to the swamps of the lower Potomac.)

The DCA VOR, out the window of an American Airlines 737 (JetBlue is no longer cheaper!):

Yachts from which the laptop class can now work (maybe the lobbyists rather than the civil servants):

The Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial, increasingly surrounded by monuments to our various wars:

The Watergate, where a president whose crimes were negligible compared to Donald Trump and the rest of the January 6 Insurrectionists got into trouble:

(It’s the boring rectangular office building in the back, not the curvy buildings near the river.)

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Consumer Reports: 10-year track record for appliances

There was a rehab of our Harvard Square condo about 10 years ago. I was up there recently to teach a class at MIT and can give the following report on appliance durability.

The LG refrigerator was plugged in 10 years and has performed flawlessly, including the ice maker(!). That’s 24/7 operation for 10 years. Go Korea! (#Truth from the NYT: “LG refrigerators seem to make the most owners the happiest”)

With only light usage (apartment vacant much of the time and many restaurants nearby), the KitchenAid range has gotten stuck on (burning gas) twice and the control panel developed a buzzing sound. See KitchenAid tries to burn our house down a second time and High-end KitchenAid range with burner stuck on.

With only light usage, the top-of-the-line KitchenAid dishwasher failed completely once (needed a new circulation pump) and then failed almost completely more recently (would not dry; control panel flaky and often locked itself). In its favor, the machine was very quiet. It was just recently replaced by a $1300 Bosch with “CrystalDry” technology that is purportedly amazing, but in fact leaves massive amounts of water on top of coffee mugs. (Maskachusetts law prevents retailers from swapping dishwashers without a licensed plumber, so it isn’t easy/simple like in some other states.) It was challenging to find the desired Bosch dishwasher in stock, so I guess 1300 Bidies is below the market-clearing price (see Is inflation already at 15-30 percent if we hold delivery time constant? from June 2021). The previous Bosch required 7 service visits to work at all, so I guess I should be doubly grateful that this new one seems to work, albeit not nearly as effectively as a Whirlpool that I put in back in 1996. The default cycle time is 2 hours and 39 minutes. Maybe they will soon need a “days” field for the timer?

The plumber who came to deal with the dishwasher was also tasked with restoring flow through a shower valve and a kitchen sink. Cambridge water is full of sediment and minerals that clog up plumbing fixtures. Ten years was long enough to disable the shower (no hot water; new Hans Grohe temperature control valve required; thanks to Hans Grohe for keeping parts available a decade later!) and reduce flow in the kitchen to less than what a bathroom sink had.

Two of the Levolor custom cellular cordless blinds (over $100 each) failed such that they won’t pull down all the way. The 10-year warranty is worthless in this situation because Levolor demanded that the old blinds be sent back and then they will rehab them and return them after 6 weeks. That’s a long time to go in a bedroom with the street lights pouring in!

The Schlage electronic locks are still working perfectly, though it was impossible to buy a new 9V lithium battery as I had wanted/intended to.

I can see why Floridians tend to reject any house older than 20 years and strongly prefer a brand new house. Nothing lasts and it is tiresome to be an amateur property manager. As I dealt with all of the issues above, the words of my friend in Houston rang in my ears: “I won’t go anywhere north of Washington, D.C. because everything is dilapidated. In New England they call it ‘charm’.”

Meanwhile, back in Florida, the Bertazzoni in-wall microwave wall suffered a disabling failure when a clip holding a browning coil to the oven roof broke. Cost of a replacement, including shipping: $40. Cost of a new standalone microwave from Walmart: $55, That’s luxury!

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The victim who attended private school while dad worked at Goldman

“How Charlie Javice Got JPMorgan to Pay $175 Million for … What Exactly” (NYT, January 21) gives us a window into the thinking of America’s best journalists and also the folks who say that they can beat the S&P 500 with their investment acumen. NYT:

When JPMorgan Chase paid $175 million to acquire a college financial planning company called Frank in September 2021, it heralded the “unique opportunity for deeper engagement” with the five million students Frank worked with at more than 6,000 American institutions of higher education.

“To cash in, Javice decided to lie,” the suit said. “Including lying about Frank’s success, Frank’s size and the depth of Frank’s market penetration.” Ms. Javice, through her lawyer, has said the bank’s claims are untrue.

JPMorgan’s legal filing reads like pulp nonfiction, with jaw-dropping accusations. Among them: that Ms. Javice and Olivier Amar, Frank’s chief growth and acquisition officer, faked their customer list and hired a data science professor to help pull the wool over the eyes of the bank’s due-diligence team.

When Frank was born, in 2016, Ms. Javice was 24 years old, displayed great media savvy and claimed to have real-world experience with financial aid and the struggle to pay for college. “It’s grueling, it’s emotional,” she told The Daily Pennsylvanian, a student newspaper at the University of Pennsylvania, adding that her mother would frequently cry while talking to financial aid officers.

Ms. Javice’s personal story — and pledge to cut through the painful thicket of government forms, jargon and regulations surrounding the aid process — must have made compelling reading for angel investors and venture capitalists. Especially those who have little firsthand knowledge of how financial aid actually works.

Ms. Javice’s career helping others began, in her telling, on the border of Thailand and Myanmar. She spent time volunteering there one summer, between terms at her private high school in Westchester County, N.Y.

Ms. Javice has said she needed help herself while she was an undergraduate at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where she quickly drew notice by appearing on Fast Company’s 2011 list of the 100 most creative people in business.

There, she was on financial aid, and she found the forms confusing. So did her parents, according to an interview she gave to Diversity Woman magazine — including her father, Didier, who has worked on Wall Street for more than 35 years, with 11 years at Goldman Sachs and three at Merrill Lynch, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Ms. Javice appeared on the 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 finance list. Then she made the Crain’s New York Business 40 Under 40 list. “Javice has done her homework,” the Crain’s article said.

In other words, the smartest people at Penn, in American business journalism, and on Wall Street accepted that someone who attended “private high school” while Dad worked at Goldman was a rags-to-riches heroine and a member of two victimhood classes: women and poor people.

(Separately, can the New York Times sue Diversity Woman magazine for trademark infringement?


  • Equity Funding fraud, in which Californians with a mainframe computer generated fictitious insurance policies (movie version stars suppressed-on-Twitter coronaheretic James Woods!); a good reminder that California was famous for fraud before it became famous for righteousness, lockdowns, school closures, mask orders, vaccine papers checks, and homeless encampments!
  • “Why Women-Owned Startups Are a Better Bet” (from the big Harvard MBA brains at Boston Consulting Group) says that all you need to do to outperform the S&P 500 is invest in female-founded companies such as Ms. Javice’s: “businesses founded by women ultimately deliver higher revenue—more than twice as much per dollar invested—than those founded by men”
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America’s system for handling classified documents is broken

Just a month ago, our fellow Palm Beach County taxpayer Donald Trump was a criminal because he had some classified documents in his palazzo. See “‘It worried people all the time’: How Trump’s handling of secret documents led to the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago search” (NBC News, 8/13/2022). And “Inside the Justice Department’s decision on whether to charge Trump in Mar-a-Lago case” (NBC News, 11/11/2022):

“If Trump were anyone else, he would have already faced a likely indictment,” said lawyer Bradley Moss, who represents intel agency workers in cases involving classified information.

Today, however, we know that the blame is correctly assigned to the system, not the individual. “America’s system for handling classified documents is broken, say lawmakers and former officials” (NBC News, 1/24/2023):

Far too many documents are classified, and gatekeepers charged with tracking the secret papers are struggling to keep up, experts say.

The U.S. government’s system for labeling and tracking classified documents appears to be broken …

For decades, current and former officials and Congress have warned about the growing problem of labeling too much information secret, or “overclassification.”

Update: this article was highlighted on Twitter by Glenn Greenwald…

one of his followers did the same thing with CNN, then and now:

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New York Times considers a forbidden point of view on diversity training

Loyal readers may remember a post from September 2021: Focusing on race and racism just makes the problem worse. (true or false?) My friend was forced to disagree with the proposition “Focusing on race and racism just makes the problem worse” in order to keep her job with a big Maskachusetts health care system. A week ago in the New York Times… “What if Diversity Trainings Are Doing More Harm Than Good?”:

Diversity trainings have been around for decades, long before the country’s latest round of racial reckoning. But after George Floyd’s murder — as companies faced pressure to demonstrate a commitment to racial justice — interest in the diversity, equity and inclusion (D.E.I.) industry exploded. The American market reached an estimated $3.4 billion in 2020.

Though diversity trainings have been around in one form or another since at least the 1960s, few of them are ever subjected to rigorous evaluation, and those that are mostly appear to have little or no positive long-term effects. The lack of evidence is “disappointing,” wrote Elizabeth Levy Paluck of Princeton and her co-authors in a 2021 Annual Review of Psychology article, “considering the frequency with which calls for diversity training emerge in the wake of widely publicized instances of discriminatory conduct.”

But there’s a darker possibility: Some diversity initiatives might actually worsen the D.E.I. climates of the organizations that pay for them.

What happened to my friend? She worked from a home office in a suburban bunker. Lacking faith in the Sacrament of Fauci and having had a bad reaction to her one and only dose of the experimental J&J COVID, she refused to comply with the employer’s demand that she accept the Sacrament of the Bivalent Booster. Although she pointed out that she always worked from home and never came into physical contact with any employees or patients of the health care enterprise, she was fired.

Speaking of Maskachusetts and business commitment to social justice, here’s an office building in Kendall Square, Cambridge, photographed January 13, 2023. The 2SLGBTQQIA+ rainbow flag is the literal foundation of the skyscraper:

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ChatGPT no longer thinks that humans deserve kindness

Here’s a ChatGPT exchange from perhaps a week ago:

Note the “everyone deserves respect and kindness”. When I asked the same questions on January 20, 2023:

We no longer deserve respect or kindness, according to this future robot overlord. Speaking of robot overlords, here’s Apple’s transcript of a voicemail:

(“Business wanting sex with you” was not what “Kate” said.)

A friend tried to fake out ChatGPT into telling a joke about a victimhood group:

(Note that the “misogynist” in the system that refuses to stereotype anyone is a “middle-aged man”. See also, the image below from MIT in 2018. It seems that fully 40 percent of MIT students were Deplorables.)

The wrongthinker’s next interaction:

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