Sunday assorted links

1. “Burundi’s parliament has voted to pay $530,000 (£400,000) to President Pierre Nkurunziza and provide him with a luxury villa when he leaves office.

2. The Body Shop: “And there’s only three questions to get a job. It’s, ‘Are you authorized to work in the U.S.? Can you stand for up to eight hours? And can you lift over 50 pounds?’”

3. Here is a new NIMBY song, a kind of anti-recommended.  The tree song, people are calling in on Twitter.  A reflection of our time?

4. Elizabeth Bruenig on epilepsy (NYT).

5. The Get Smart “cone of silence” is now a commercial reality (NYT).

6. How to donate a piece of your brain to science — while you’re still alive.

7. Six hundred U.S. citizens right now quarantined on 15 military bases in this country.


#1: they don't give any other examples for comparison e.g. the Prez of the USA, France, Italy, Nigeria, South Africa ... So I've no idea whether it's a scandal or, alternatively, whether by Presidential standards it's rather modest.

That's not comparable to the money grubbing potential enjoyed by ex-royals Harry and Meghan.

JPMorgan Chase paid him what to prattle on for half an hour about years of therapy over the loss of his mother and what a hard life he's had.

Reverse fairy tale. Beauty kisses prince. Prince turns into a frog.

At this time I am going away to do my breakfast, after having my breakfast coming again to read
more news.

#3 If you want to save the tree buy the land or shut up and let the land owner do what he wants with his own property.

When the government has the power to override anyone's rights for any reason, Gresham's law says buy the government with some worthless PR rather than land with valuable dollars.

US president gets an annual pension of what a cabinet member makes, curently around 207,000.

Plus $1 million of travel, paid office space, staff salaries, secret service

An ex-POTUS can earn his annual pension (or more) in a single paid speech. One suspects that the market rate for a speech by an ex-president of Burundi is considerably less.

Seriously, why do some institutions pay that much for a lame ex-politician or royal, when there are much more interesting people in that market, at a fraction of the price, and when you could alternatively hire your favorite singer for the same kinds of money?

Are you really so naive to think they are paying for the speech?

In 1981 American author (of thrillers) Dean Koontz wrote 'The Eyes of Darkness’ about a Chinese military lab in Wuhan creating a viral bio weapon called Wuhan-400.

Did Dean Koontz work for the CCP (sarc)?

#7: suddenly the US might be about to get a useful pay-off from its vast number of military bases. Good.

Now, if the new virus should lead to an epidemic in Mexico will your armed forces be able to impose a block at the border? Would Mexico's be able to impose a block at its southern border?

P.S. I have no idea if this thing is going to be a major health problem or not. I'm simply saying" if ..."

We are talking about the U.S. military, so welcome to reality as revealed in the article, talking about 11 of the facilities. "The additional locations, which were announced February 6, can house up to 20 people, but none have been used yet."

There was during the Cold War, but today the US does not maintain a vast number of military bases. Although, the typical Army post is bigger than some Euro principalities. Fort Huachuca, AZ has serious potential.

In other news, reports an Iranian woman deceased from coronavirus. And, WSJ says "Corona virus outbreak slams embattled Iran economy."

>Are you authorized to work in the U.S.?

So... The Body Shop is anti-immigrant? Noted.

Not only that, but they also discriminate against the disabled with this arbitrary requirement of being able to lift 50 pounds. Just because I can't lift heavy boxes doesn't mean I shouldn't be able to express my unique personality in the warehouse

Don’t forget being able to stand for 8 hours. For a middle aged academic I can run quite well, and bike for hours. But stand? Tiring and boring.

Body shop's warehouse is full of bottles of hand creams, soaps, 'goop'... Items that are very cheap to manufacture. Little is lost if a fool drops a box. This is not a warehouse at Sikorsky handling 50k each helecopter parts. Body shop's only real risk is probably if the employee hurts themselves, which I imagine they avoid by hiring them as 'contractors' rather than real employees.

When I worked in a warehouse management's primary concern seemed to be theft. Then again, that warehouse was full of consumer-electronics products, and some of these had a high value-to-size ratio. Then again, RFID was still costly then.

Even so, they'd probably be more concerned if that warehouse was full of Gillette razor blades ...

I'm imagining someone calling his criminal buddies trying to fence a pallet-load of shea cream. Seems like a joke in a farcical film.

If theft is a primary concern, then they will check your bags and pocket at the end of the shift. I worked at a meat production facility, where they did, even though sausages are not that valuable, all told.

A friend worked at Taco Bell and the ploy there was to throw out unopened goods and then fish them from the trash after closing.


Politicians are quite fond of luxury living at taxpayer expense.

U.S. Presidents enjoy a lifetime of extravagant benefits, even if they resign the office after a month.

Presidential retirement benefits were non-existent until the enactment of the Former Presidents Act (FPA) in 1958. Since then, presidential retirement benefits have included a lifetime annual pension, staff and office allowances, travel expenses, Secret Service protection, and much more.

Actual White House total spending on Presidents while in office... is so staggering that it is diligently concealed from the press and public.

Bruenig is my favorite person on the left and she and Douthat are the best columnists at the Times these days.

+1, JC (I capitalize His initials). I wish Elizabeth would be more explicit in her faith, but I suppose there's not much of a broad-based demand for that. She is an excellent writer with a lot opf important things to to say. My view regarding her time at the WP is that she didn't do as I wish, but that's just me and my own preference and perspective. Matt, who?

#5 There is not much technical detail in the article beyond adding high frequency white noise, but I don't see why this wouldn't be easily defeated by a cheap band-pass filter. (

"I'm not paying for sex. I'm paying for them to leave afterward."

Most Democrats don't know the man they are blindly following:

Thank you. I was not aware of that.

As reported by the indefatigable Chelsea Summers, whose prose I sample here:

Functioning pockets make women very excited. This is a sentence that shouldn’t need to be written in 2018. Women are busy, and we need to carry our stuff with the same ease as men do. Still fashion resists giving us what we want, when what we want is more, bigger, better pockets. It’s neither hard nor expensive to make women’s pockets functional – after all, fashion does it for men – so what’s the deal with women’s pointless pockets? The answer is a heady mix of sexism and patriarchal fear.

(from The Guardian, 8.23/18, I am not making this up; couldn't possibly). I am not defending Bernie or attacking Summers, just reporting the news.

Of course you are not making it up. And the fact that you are completely unaware of how many women complain about exactly this point would seem to indicate that you don't have much contact with women, or at least listen to them talking about clothing they find unsatisfying, even after decades of apparent progress in the market saying it is empowering women.

#3 Yes, a Seattle person equating the cutting of a tree to murder. The irony is, that Seattle may have more problems - in a truly "green" or "deep-enviro" sense - with *not* be willing to cut down trees than with cutting them.

2. Glad to hear they are being excellent to people in their hiring practices. Due to the large positive externalities this is something that should be encouraged.

2. Surely that’s coupled with a policy of fast firing, as otherwise it would surely fail.

The article specifically mentions a low turnover rate for the type of work, presumably on account of how they are hiring people who find it hard to gain employment elsewhere.

Of course, I presume some percentage of new hires are fired in pretty much all US warehouses.

6. How to donate a piece of your brain to science — while you’re still alive.
Six or seven times maybe, but eventually you run out of brain.

Yeah, but after the third or fourth time you stop caring.

#2: The article says that the new hires are treated like apprentices, but doesn't say what they're paid. Minimum wage? More? I'd think there be high up-front costs from taking on these untrained workers -- unless these are all unskilled jobs?

#2 - Definitely a worthy initiative and one which almost by definition doesn't scale. Because these people find hiring barriers in other firms, firms who agree to hire pay a de facto "efficiency wage" which gives the workers an incentive not to get fired. If many firms do this then the return will shrink.

paul allen and me were working on a libertarian thing. it worked well no gun control no carbon tax no cap and trade. ballmer got kicked out as a Lockheed dave martin nato robot (bald head kid from Jonestown tx a Jonestown massacre kool aid drinker game). gates was up for execution then was bailed out via trump wanting to seem like a nice liberal capitalist friendly guy, Microsoft seemed to take quite a lot (they've already stopped being nerd friendly after regaining a footing after apple was peaked, slimy Harvard people). jobs was killed, gates was nuked pretty good, slouching forced to look like the python symbol etc, decommissioning nuclear robots is fun hans blix work, like crossbow from real genius, the genius bar etc

anyway, the nerds and I are friends, im very friendly and meek, the last mimzy etc Dorothy and todo or Dorothy and the magic kids dolls the epi pen, no wonder everyone started dying when the cowardly west attacked when I had a black face, the actual black man stabbed me in the back as well, anyway, if everyone didn't know I had all dollar euro penny and five dollar note I would be hanging out with the nerds, the nsa state making big tech then switching to business via retail, making steve jobs and bill gates people for the capitalist west. I miss paul allen, he was killed then allen thicke then a bunch of nice people died helping to save the west while the traitors attacked, the Bolsheviks got into the lefts capitalists, the left makes better capitalists than the right since the right was ruined via mitts 2012 primary run as a immigration hawk, he used anti immigrant sentiment to win the primary then trump used the same thing to win in 2016, tpp would've been a much richer and better future if jeb or romney had won and signed tpp

anyway the immigration restrictions and higher wages via fewer workers is nice for the displaced workers, but tpp would've been more profitable

never seen so many dead dorothys or kids, weird its like I was Americas defenses

I actually liked America too, all of it, every region. the racists, the sour, the nice, the discarded, and I was very good at it. mostly just todo, en todo everything etc

good to see everyone doing better, the satellites really can scramble everyones minds, back to an intuition at most, gersons lobotomy is funny but only because a lot of innocent victims were killed because of the neocons joining the left, the redhead kid in sc the other day and young Alicia Silverstone caroline lady, still hasn't ended, so keep laughing at gersons lobotomy until then. its almost fixed the communists really had this all planned since the berlin wall and the communists really captured the neocons, and the communists really killed the neocons and gop while on their same team

back to invisible circus, the americans provide the talent and character im just the guy with the circus

#2 - I'm sure there are attorneys salivating at the thought of bringing a negligent hiring suit the first time an employee harms another employee or a customer

#2 - The under-reported point about this is that Human Resources recruitment and selection processes are garbage. There’s a reasonable degree of confidence that they struggle to screen out any but the most incompetent of liars and fakers.

For an entry-level position like a warehouse worker, you can go through the expensive pantomime of having a recruitment process, or you can admit the only useful test is the job.

So you make the hiring process as cheap and simple as possible, you watch the new staff work, and you fire a certain number during the probation period (and probably about the same number you fired under your old hiring process).

The question is: how far up the corporate hierarchy can you make this work?

I would think the critical issue is how much the employee can effectively cost you. A low level slacker warehouse worker is probably at least 50% as productive as your best low level warehouse worker, and you are probably paying that guy twice as much. You can easily see how much he's doing and the warehouse manager can yell at him every time his 15 minute break hits the 45 minute mark. So, there's not a lot of harm.

Whereas, a slacker mid level manager, can probably get by with 25% of your high end workers productivity for a year before it becomes obvious that she's not very effective. Often there's no easy way to determine if the person is actually contributing to a significant degree, or just attends all the meetings and then puts in the minimal amount possible when she's not in a meeting.

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