TKP Update – 10/06/2015

I promise I haven’t abandoned the page. I have been absolutely swamped lately with job changes, moving, and other personal items. Ready to get back into dishing the liberteh!

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Bias: It Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means

bias /ˈbaɪ əs/ noun – a particular tendency, trend, inclination, feeling, or opinion, especially one that is preconceived or unreasoned

Bias. While it is not a word exclusive to politics, the political realm is where it is tossed out the most. Used to describe news channels, pundits, politicians and more, “bias” has become a vulgar epithet intended to discredit the opposition. But if you read through the provided definition, there is nothing inherently negative about “tendency, trend, inclination, feeling, or opinion.” It is very much subjective and dependent on the person using it.

Recently, I was happy to learn about Ford’s announcement of the production of the Focus RS for their 2016 model line up. This innocuous statement displays my own bias. While I don’t claim to be a library of knowledge on the history of automotive racing, I know enough (on that, among other things) that this simple statement sparked my excitement. The “RS” moniker, for most manufacturers, means “Rally Sport.” Rallying is a fast paced and exciting form of off road racing utilizing high horsepower turbocharged 4- and 5-cylinder engines, performance suspension, and all wheel drive transmissions. While this car isn’t ready to race from the factory, it will be half-way there if similar vehicles are any indication of the Focus’ competition. Combined with a working knowledge of the partnership between Ford and the legendary Cosworth in the racing world, my biased opinion is that the Focus RS will be quite the pocket rocket and find its way to my garage – hopefully, some day soon.

That’s all that bias is. I heard a statement, compared it against what I know or assume to be true, and formed an opinion. I’m sure someone is out there who completely disagrees with me based on their own biased opinions, and that is perfectly ok! Disagreement encourages research and discussion. The result of which is progress that benefits everyone. How boring would be if everyone blindly agreed to everything? What if everyone was ok with walking everywhere? Someone had to say, “I disagree! I want to travel faster!” Animals were then harnessed and carriages built. And in the last century, the development and refinement of the automobile. What awesome stuff!

Particularly in the political realm, how did bias come to have such a negative, derogatory implication? Your guess is as good as mine. And it’s not just negative or derogatory. In context, it is used to convey that something is objectively wrong or incorrect. It happens all over the spectrum:

“You’re free to use any news source except Fox because they’re too biased.”

“Typical HuffPo bias…”

“Apparently Fox is running a story on reporting bias in media. Talk about irony.”

“Leave it to MSNBC to talk about their own biases than report facts.”

All of these are examples that I’ve personally seen or heard. Particularly in the first example (a former professor of mine at UK, by the way), bias is used to imply that Fox is objectively and measurably wrong. Are they? It depends on who you ask. I am neither defending nor condemning Fox News. The same can be said for MSNBC in the last comment.

We rely on news channels because – let’s be honest – we’d rather get reports on ISIS in the comfort of our homes than hunkered down behind a wall in Syria, avoiding AK47 gun fire. We expect the news channels to present things clearly, truthfully, and objectively. However, as demonstrated above and especially in light of the Brian Williams fiasco, we know that this doesn’t always happen. International stories, violent incidents, political policies, and even local reporting can incite a range of emotions, reactions, and discussions. Attempting a discussion amongst the static from the Godwins and Poes of the internet can be equally unnerving.

The point is… It’s not about whether or not a news source is objectively correct; it’s about recognizing that A) the anchors, reporters, executives, etc. have their own opinions that will inevitably ooze into the segments and B) every single person on the planet is guilty of confirmation bias. We hate being told when we’re wrong or having to admit when we’re wrong. It’s human nature. Some of us handle it better, but overall, we hate it because it’s uncomfortable. In an attempt to minimize that, we seek out information that reaffirms our beliefs. This is confirmation bias. Re-read the previous examples and you’ll recognize it. Anytime you hear someone say something along the lines of “I like MSNBC (Fox) because it’s honest reporting – unlike Fox (MSNBC) which is too biased for me.” It’s not about honesty – it’s about someone authoritative (an adjective sometimes used for news anchors) sharing a similar opinion as truth. This is why the left prefers Maddow, the right prefers Limbaugh, and libertarians (like me) prefer Stossel.

After the Trayvon Martin incident, there was *a lot* of speculation and interpretation. Even a court trial can only do so much. During the ordeal, I kept saying, “Only three people know for a fact what happened that night: Trayvon, Zimmerman, and God. One is dead, one has testified, and the other is choosing to sit out for some reason. All we know after that is what is presented.” Enter – biased news anchors, and with them, their interpretations and opinions. Where would we be without them? Like I said before, someone has to say “I disagree” and present their evidence to the contrary. It’s with that evidence of the contrary that changes are made – progress is made – innovation is bestowed upon us. People dig and provide details that weren’t initially presented.

And we’re all better off – and better informed – because of it.

Further Reading: Hostile Media Effect

Oh yeah….

Before someone asks…

Here’s your meme:

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Metal Monday – 02/23/15 Edition

Today we’re getting loud, heavy, and chunky. Extra Chunky Chips Ahoy cookies. A level that only 3 down tuned 7 string guitars can provide: Whitechapel. This song came out last year and I wish I had discovered it sooner. In an interview for DiMarzio pick ups, guitarists Alex Wade, Ben Savage, and Zach Householder explain that they all contributed equally to this song – that it represents the very core of what the band is and who has influenced them. A phrase I’m happy to hear, and a core concept that needs to perpetuate on future albums because this beautiful masterpiece has my fist in the air from beginning to end.

Liberty themes abound in the lyrics about American citizens marching upon Capitol Hill. Hope you enjoy it as much I do.

Whitechapel – “Our Endless War”


Let’s go

America our wasteland
Where death is entertainment
The place where moving forward means you turn the other direction
A place where reality existed
And we still continue to bleed

Red, White, Blue for ourselves and who?
And they still hold the truth so we say
FUCK YOU
My country tis of greed, sweet land of idiocracy

THIS IS OUR ENDLESS WAR

While we still have liberty
Lets take back our justice for all
We can march at sundown upon capitol hill
We’re calling you out
Come face us now and see your true war
Let’s take it back
We the people have spoken against

OUR ENDLESS WAR

There is nothing left to prove
We’ve spoke our minds risked our lives
Make your move
Tread lightly, choose your words wisely
Or we will refuse to bleed

Red, White, Blue for ourselves and who?
And they still hold the truth so we say
FUCK YOU
My country tis of greed, sweet land of idiocracy

While we still have liberty

SHUT IT DOWN

50 states united as one
But we still cant find a solution
Where have we gone
It seems that our motto to live by
When your chin deep in shit
duck, breathe and die!!!!! [2x]

LET’S TAKE BACK OUR JUSTICE FOR ALL

We can march at sundown upon capitol hill
We’re calling you out
Come face us now and see your true war [2x]

I’ve said before and I’ll say it again
This world is ours
Let’s take it back and give them their war

LET’S TAKE IT BACK

We the people
Have spoken against

OUR ENDLESS WAR

My country tis of greed, sweet land of idiocracy

A Hug For The 1 Percenters, From A 99 Percenter

The Occupy Wall Street movement may have lost most of its steam but animosity towards the rich and affluent in America is still alive and well. Predominantly from the extreme left (though political allegiances hardly mean anything anymore) the extreme wealthy are expected to “contribute to society” and “pay their fair share” through extensive taxes on their companies, personal income, capital, and anything else to make their existence burdensome. They “hoard” their money away in Swiss bank accounts, or purchase rare opulent treasures that many would consider unnecessary. These modern day Scrooge McDucks, with monocle and top hat, have had their reign and now must pay the piper. What is their punishment to be? The government is to tax the ever living bejesus out of them to fund social welfare programs. Their wealth needs to be redistributed because it’s fair – because majority of people are much much lower on the totem pole and struggling to get by financially.

Having said that, I love rich people. Yes, you read that correctly. I love rich people. Filthy stinking rich. To quote the great philosopher Jay-Z, “fuck rich, let’s get wealthy.” I’m talking about people with so much money that you can smell it on them. They wipe their asses with Benjis. They drive cars so rare, you’ve never even heard of them. They own 15 different homes and they’re more hidden and secure than U.S. military bases. Since I adore these people, I must be wealthy too, right? I must be sitting a few rungs from the top as well.

False.

Full disclosure: I’m broke. Not impoverished, but I still keep my belt tight. My head is barely above water. Know what I make? $15.40 an hour. A mere 40 cents over the minimum that Democrats want. And let me tell you something: it’s nothing to shout about. First of all, thanks to taxes and overpriced insurance, I only take 2/3 of that home. Despite “earning” more than twice the minimum wage – on paper – I take home $10 and some change an hour. Factor in that I gas up twice a week because my employer is an hour of interstate driving away and it quickly becomes apparent that “living wage” is a very subjective phrase. Last I checked, working full time, I fall into the 4th quintile income bracket. I’m barely above poverty and I’m using (one of) my college degree(s) too.

So what gives? Why don’t I get some assistance that I “rightfully deserve?” I may not be in the bulls eye of the demographic that the Dems want to help, but I’m still on the board. I should marching with the Occupy protesters. I should be writing letters to my Senators and Representatives, urging them to do something about this damn evil income inequality. I contribute just as much to society, right? I should be compensated accordingly.

Here’s the thing: none of the above can truly help me.

Imagine I’m trying to climb the income ladder, except I have a broken leg. And it’s nasty too. Compound fracture. Not a clean break but multiple pieces. I’m going to need corrective surgery, a titanium rod, and physical therapy – ALL on top of 6 months in a boot. Government assistance (let’s call it what it is – wealth redistribution) is somewhere between a band aid and a roughly assembled tourniquet. Yeah, it’s something, but in the grand scheme of things… it doesn’t change my situation. I’m still crippled. I could maybe advance up the ladder but it’s going to take a while and it’s going to be very painful. I want my leg to be in one piece and functional. The wealthy 1%ers, in this analogy, are somewhere between the actual surgeons and the administration of the hospital performing my surgery. They’re the ones directly contributing to me getting better.

At the core of it all is risk management. You may call it cost-benefit analysis. All decisions – especially economic decisions – carry risk. As you accumulate wealth, that risk becomes smaller because the loss to you is smaller. Imagine a used Chevy Cavalier for sale for $1,000. To someone making minimum wage, $1,000 is risky. Saving up that amount of money is difficult. What about reliability? Will the car break down five miles down the road? Those are the risks for someone making low wages at an entry level job. However, as they learn valuable skills and move up in the company, their wages increase because they’re more valuable. At $7.25 an hour – federal minimum wage – the Cavalier is a risky decision. What about at $8 an hour? $10 an hour? Salaried and making $40k a year? As the wealth accumulates, the margin of acceptable risk also increases.

For same car, what’s the margin of risk for someone clearing $100k a year? Probably zero. The car can be purchased easily. Any necessary repairs can taken care of just as easily. But now enters the second element of a financial decision: subjective value. What is the value of this car for someone making minimum wage compared to the doctor/lawyer/etc clearing six figures a year? For the former, it is access to mobility in the world. This may open up their opportunities to pursue a job with better pay or benefits. They value getting from Point A to Point B more than they value leather seats, touch screen navigation, and panoramic sun roofs. For the big wig, the ability to obtain transportation is nothing short of guaranteed. The questionable reliability of the aforementioned Cavalier is not a risk for them. They can afford factory fresh with the expectation of a long service life.

Because of these guarantees, they can afford to accept a new kind of risk – innovation. Most people would consider a person who earns six figures to have “made it” in life. They can live comfortably and also pursue new adult toys. In contrast to the Chevy Cavalier, let’s look at Mercedes-Benz. I’m a big fan of German engineering – Benz, BMW, Porsche, and Audi. Not just any Benz model – let’s look at the S65 AMG luxury sports sedan. Starting at $222k before options, it is a tour de force of automotive engineering. The S65 boasts many luxurious creature comforts and amenities such as 12 way adjustable power seats with memory settings – front and rear, touch screen stereo, rear seat entertainment screens, automatic sunscreens, and even a small refrigerator in the rear arm rest. All of these were unimaginable 50 years ago. Much less, the idea that a car could cost more than a house. But remember subjective value: at this level, the consumer obviously values the comforts more than just getting from A to B.

Of all the luxuries and technologies offered in the S65, I want to focus on one that isn’t exactly brand new: turbocharging. For my not-so-mechanically inclined readers, a turbocharger is a device that harnesses the kinetic energy of the spent exhaust gasses in an engine to spin a set of fans that feed more air into an engine than it would normally draw in. More air in the cylinders means more fuel can be mixed in for a bigger boom and more power. The best part is that it only operates when needed. Cruising on the highway under a light load, the engine will return fuel economy as expected for the given engine size. But stomp on the gas, and the exhaust flow spins up the fan, causing an exponential increase in air flow and consequently, horsepower. With this technology, small four cylinder engines can have power outputs that rival V6s and and even V8s. The S65 doesn’t use turbos for mere efficiency though. No, the S65 features a massive 6.0L V12 engine with TWO turbos. It offers a whopping 700+ pound/foot of torque and over 600 horsepower! So not only are you getting from point A to point B in style, but you’re getting there pretty damn fast too.

As I mentioned before, turbocharging is nothing new in automotive engineering. The first turbocharged vehicle made its debut in the early 1960s. It is a proven technology. It can be found in quarter-of-a-million dollar luxury sport cars (the S65 in this case) down to the very affordable Ford Fiesta, a daily beater that offers a lot of bang for the buck (approx. $15k). Turbos did not start out as a perfect technology though. Someone had to take a risk with the first turbocharged car in 1960-whenever. Profits from the sales went into engineering and R&D. Time passes and then advertisers were able to say, “You know that thing you like? We made it better.” Thanks to advances and developments in material choice, engine tuning, and overall engine design, companies like Volvo (known for turbocharging much of its fleet) have developed a reputation for amazingly reliable vehicles that exceed well over 200,000 miles on the odometer during their lifespans. The consumer wins with a reliable product. The producer wins with a pay day. To paraphrase a quote printed on a former employer’s pay stubs, “A satisfied customer made this check possible.”

As I previously mentioned, the S65 offers extravagant amenities…

  • 12 way power seats with memory
  • seat massage
  • seat ventilation
  • power sunshades in the rear windows
  • rear refrigerated storage
  • 12″ touchscreen technology center (radio, navigation, WiFi, etc)
  • rear seat entertainment screens

Compare these against the commonplace turbo. Now, in 2015, someone takes a risk with the new conveniences and technologies. In turn, Benz uses the profits from the sale of an S65 to reinvest into R&D and engineering. Is there a cheaper motor option for the power seats? Is there a material that improves the efficiency of the seat ventilation whilst still providing an elegant appeal? Is there a faster, smarter CPU for the in-dash technology center? Without someone willing to take risks, those questions may not be answered. Thankfully, there are people willing to accept that risk. Risks, along with other needs, wants, and desires, fuel innovation. Innovation not only creates jobs, but perfects risky technology (like the turbo in the 60s) into bomb proof reliability staples (see Volvo) at an affordable price (Ford Fiesta and Ecoboost).

So for the rich, the elite, the wealthy, the affluent, the connected, the powerful… The people of this country with big demands and even bigger bank accounts… Thank you for taking risks. Thank you for never being content with what you have. Thank you for treating luxury like a necessity. I’d hug you all if I could. Sue me, I’m an affectionate person. Because of your purchasing decisions, I (and many others) have future job prospects to look forward to. And maybe I’ll drive to that job someday in a budget daily beater Ford that offers 12 way power seats with massage, a touchscreen dash with WiFi, and a refrigerator unit that keeps my Kahlua mocha latte nice and chilled.

OH!

…..and a turbo.

Metal Monday – 01/26/15 Edition

Surveillance. NSA. Edward Snowden. I feel that’s all that needs to be said. C’mon… This is a libertarian blog. Do I really need to explain how fucked up it is that the government is spying on our shit without permission or probable cause? Here’s some more reading just in case you need a refresher:

Why Privacy Matters Even If You Have “Nothing To Hide”
You May Have ‘Nothing to Hide’ But You Still Have Something to Fear
3 Reasons the ‘Nothing to Hide’ Crowd Should Be Worried About Government Surveillance

Swedish technical groove masters, Meshuggah, tackle invasive surveillance on their latest album with The Demon’s Name Is Surveillance.


Mechanical compound eye
Imposed observance. Sentries in the sky
Vigilant lenses. Objectives belied
In blackened heavens covertly they hide

They see you. They see all. They know all indiscretions
Compiler of your dreams, your indignations
Following your every single move
They see you

All-seeing instrument. Supreme perception
Omnifocal accumulator
Thief of integrity. Its gaze upon the blind
Information divinity by man designed

The lives of all they occupy. Their eyes in dismal gloom
The all-piercing, dead oculi – mirrors of our doom
Oblivious to the trespass as you gaze into the black
The demon of surveillance insultingly staring back
– Into you

They own your every secret, your life is in their files
The grains of your every waking second sifted through and scrutinized
They know your every right. They know your every wrong
Each put in their due compartment – sins where sins belong

They know you. They see all. They know all indiscretions
Compiler of your dreams, your indignations
Following your every single move
They know you

Je suis Charlie? What about Je suis Michael Moore?

Please read this in its entirety before you send hate mail.

The past few days have been a whirlwind around the globe, particularly in regards to free speech rights. Not even two weeks ago, gunmen stormed the offices of the French satirical publication, Charlie Hebdo. They claimed to be members of a Yemen based Al-Qaeda group, and stated the attack was a defensive act against the publication’s depictions of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad. A few days later, several world leaders along with millions of protesters joined in Paris to demonstrate their unity for free speech. Gathered under the moniker “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie), the rally was supposed to stand in defiance of violent retaliation to unpopular speech. A demonstration that, for lack of a better phrase, was complete and utter bullshit.

Why?

Because not long after this gathering, French police arrested a comedian over a Facebook post about the attack. On top of that, this eagle eye identified numerous people among the demonstrators who are also guilty of the same speech persecution the rally claimed to be against – including the lone U.S. representative, Eric Holder. Furthermore, Americans were upset that the U.S. didn’t have a bigger presence because our narrative of “liberty and justice for all.” Considering we’re the same country that targeted particular political interest groups, I’d say we had no fucking business at all participating. Our involvement in that rally, or lack thereof, was probably the most honest thing Washington has ever done.

On a completely unrelated note, ultra left wing filmmaker Michael Moore came under fire for his Twitter remarks about military snipers – assumed to be a response to the movie, American Sniper. He later explained his comments; stating that they had nothing to do with the new Bradley Cooper movie, which he even praised. His comments were more personal commentary on the concept of a sniper in a military conflict due to personal reasons involving his uncle in World War II.

What the hell do these situations have in common? Freedom of speech, obviously. More specifically, what freedom of speech is and what it isn’t, and the public’s response. Speech is a natural right. It is an innate concept from our birth, and continues to be present as we grow and develop – building our language, vocabulary, dialect, etc. Despite popular opinion, is it not bestowed upon us by a government, state, or agent or representative of those bodies. In terms of the United States, carefully read the First Amendment and you will see that it does not grant the freedom of speech, but rather states that Congress shall not infringe upon it:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The artists at Charlie Hebdo who drew the illustrations of Muhammad were well within their right to do so. Was it “culturally insensitive,” and kind of a dick move? Sure. Are people free to express their displeasure? Absolutely. I’m not a Muslim but I can understand why someone would be upset. Personally, I have no boundaries. I’m drawn to profane and insensitive humor (like that of Daniel Tosh, Anthony Jeselnik, George Carlin, Bill Hicks, and liberty loving Doug Stanhope). However, no matter how crass, rude, and inappropriate their animations were…

THEY DID NOT DESERVE TO DIE!

What does this have to do with Michael Moore’s comments? Of the public outrage in response to his comments, there is a common theme of, “he should be sent overseas and made to endure what our military snipers endure – THEN he would change his mind.” In other words, he should be taken against his will (he obviously has no desire to go to the Middle East or he would have gone already) and put in a dangerous situation in order to change his mind to a more favorable opinion. Let that sink in for a moment. People are not only upset, but they want to use the threat of violence in order to get a desired result. This is called coercion. And since opinions on the military fall into the political realm, using coercive force to achieve a particular political goal is the textbook definition of terrorism. Now…

I am not referring to people upset with Michael Moore as terrorists.

Bolded for emphasis. I am not name calling or making accusations. While I haven’t seen any direct calls for violence, what I have seen are suggestions of him being placed in a dangerous situation to encourage him to change his mind. While desires for violence are not the same as committing violence, it is a very dangerous line to walk along. A line, that if crossed, comes with consequences because now you are infringing upon another person’s life and safety. Perhaps what is even more disturbing is that some of these people were hashtagging Je suis Charlie just a few weeks ago. The situation of free speech doesn’t change just because the sacred cow changes. The Charlie Hebdo cartoonists were well within their right to make their illustrations. Michael Moore is also within his right to make his comments. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean you’re free from criticism. You must endure any social consequences. But violence is not a legitimate response.

I fucking hate Michael Moore. He is a scumbag. He can take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut for all I care. He is so insignificant to me, that I don’t even have an opinion on his statements. You’re free to feel however you want about him. You can hate him all you want. You are free to call him a fat fuck, shit stain, clit blister for all I care. What you are not free to do, however, is commit a violent infraction against him.