Thursday, October 08, 2020

Probative Cognitions: You Betting Against Penrose's Pluripotent Theories?!?!?!?!

nautil.us  |  Once you start poking around in the muck of consciousness studies, you will soon encounter the specter of Sir Roger Penrose, the renowned Oxford physicist with an audacious—and quite possibly crackpot—theory about the quantum origins of consciousness. He believes we must go beyond neuroscience and into the mysterious world of quantum mechanics to explain our rich mental life. No one quite knows what to make of this theory, developed with the American anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff, but conventional wisdom goes something like this: Their theory is almost certainly wrong, but since Penrose is so brilliant (“One of the very few people I’ve met in my life who, without reservation, I call a genius,” physicist Lee Smolin has said), we’d be foolish to dismiss their theory out of hand.

Penrose, 85, is a mathematical physicist who made his name decades ago with groundbreaking work in general relativity and then, working with Stephen Hawking, helped conceptualize black holes and gravitational singularities, a point of infinite density out of which the universe may have formed. He also invented “twistor theory,” a new way to connect quantum mechanics with the structure of spacetime. His discovery of certain geometric forms known as “Penrose tiles”—an ingenious design of non-repeating patterns—led to new directions of study in mathematics and crystallography.

The breadth of Penrose’s interests is extraordinary, which is evident in his recent book Fashion, Faith and Fantasy in the New Physics of the Universe—a dense 500-page tome that challenges some of the trendiest but still unproven theories in physics, from the multiple dimensions of string theory to cosmic inflation in the first moment of the Big Bang. He considers these theories to be fanciful and implausible.

Penrose doesn’t seem to mind being branded a maverick, though he disputes the label in regard to his work in physics. But his theory of consciousness pushes the edges of what’s considered plausible science and has left critics wondering why he embraces a theory based on so little evidence.

Most scientists regard quantum mechanics as irrelevant to our understanding of how the brain works. Still, it’s not hard to see why Penrose’s theory has gained attention. Artificial intelligence experts have been predicting some sort of computer brain for decades, with little to show so far. And for all the recent advances in neurobiology, we seem no closer to solving the mind-brain problem than we were a century ago. Even if the human brain’s neurons, synapses and neurotransmitters could be completely mapped—which would be one of the great triumphs in the history of science—it’s not clear that we’d be any closer to explaining how this 3-pound mass of wet tissue generates the immaterial world of our thoughts and feelings. Something seems to be missing in current theories of consciousness. The philosopher David Chalmers has speculated that consciousness may be a fundamental property of nature existing outside the known laws of physics. Others—often branded “mysterians”—claim that subjective experience is simply beyond the capacity of science to explain.

 

Singularities and Spinors Were Just Another Day At The Office - Twistors Are Penrose's Big Bet

phys.org  |  In the 1960s, in an attempt to understand quantum gravity, physicist Roger Penrose proposed such a radical alternative. In Penrose's twistor theory, geometric points are replaced by twistors—entities that most closely resemble stretched, light ray-like shapes. Within this twistor space, Penrose discovered a highly efficient way to represent fields that travel at the speed of light, such as electromagnetic and gravitational fields. Reality, however, is composed of more than fields—any theory needs also to account for the interactions between fields, such as the electric force between charges, or, in the more complicated case of General Relativity, gravitational attraction resulting from the energy of the field itself. However, including the interactions of General Relativity into this picture has proven a formidable task.

So can we express in twistor language a full-fledged quantum gravitational theory, perhaps simpler than General Relativity, but with both fields and interactions fully taken into account? Yes, according to Neiman.

Neiman's model builds on higher spin gravity, a model developed by Mikhail Vasiliev in the 1980s and '90s. Higher spin gravity can be thought of as the "smaller cousin" of String Theory, "too simple to reproduce General Relativity, but very instructive as a playground for ideas," as Neiman puts it. In particular, it is perfectly suited for exploring possible bridges between holography and twistor theory.

On one hand, as discovered by Igor Klebanov and Alexander Polyakov in 2001, higher spin gravity, just like , can be described holographically. Its behavior within space can be captured completely in terms of a boundary at infinity. On the other hand, its equations contain twistor-like variables, even if these are still tied to particular points in ordinary space.

From these starting points, Neiman's paper takes an additional step, constructing a mathematical dictionary that ties together the languages of holography and twistor theory.

"The underlying math that makes this story tick is all about square roots," writes Neiman. "It's about identifying subtle ways in which a geometric operation, such as a rotation or reflection, can be done 'halfway.' A clever square root is like finding a crack in a solid wall, opening it in two, and revealing a new world."

Using square roots in this way has a longstanding history in math and physics. In fact, the intrinsic shape of all matter particles—such as electrons and quarks—as well as twistors, is described by a square root of ordinary directions in space. In a subtle technical sense, Neiman's method for connecting space, its boundary at infinity, and twistor space, boils down to taking such a square root again.

Neiman hopes that his proof of concept can pave the way toward a quantum of gravity that does not rely on a boundary at infinity.

"It will take a lot of creativity to uncover the code of the world," says Neiman. "And there's joy in fumbling around for it."

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Probative Cognition: Impossible Patterns And Materials That Aren't Supposed To Exist

oakridger  |  “If nuclear fission can occur naturally near the surface, why wouldn’t it occur deep in the earth?” Hollenbach asked.

Using SCALE nuclear safety analysis codes, Hollenbach simulated a georeactor that would function as a fast neutron breeder reactor and have an energy output (under 3 terawatts) that would enable it to heat the planet’s core and power its magnetic field for 4.5 billion years, the widely accepted age of Earth. The initial density and relative abundance of uranium isotopes that he assumed for his simulation were based on what is determined to be present in a certain kind of meteor that is almost oxygen-free (as Earth was during its formation).

By absorbing neutrons, the uranium isotope U-235 would break into lighter elements more readily than the much more abundant uranium isotope U-238, releasing considerable heat energy and neutrons that will trigger more fission, or self-sustaining chain reactions. Free neutrons absorbed by U-238 nuclei can cause the formation of plutonium-239, another nuclear fuel. This process, known as breeding, can significantly extend the lifetime of a nuclear reactor. 

Hollenbach’s calculations also generated data on the fission products that would result from uranium fission deep within Earth, as well as from radioactive decay. He showed that two helium isotopes, He-3 and He-4, would be produced in the same relative proportion by georeactors as helium isotopes found in basalt extruded from volcanic lavas in Hawaii and Iceland. Because helium is a light noble gas that does not react with other materials, it could migrate from a georeactor to hot spots on Earth’s surface. “The only way helium is produced on the Earth is through fission or decay of heavy elements,” he said.

When helium was first discovered in the 1960s on Earth’s surface, it was assumed that helium gas in space was trapped in the surface during Earth’s formation. Hollenbach said trapped helium would have outgassed during Earth’s molten stage. He found that the ratio of He-3 to He-4 at the surface corresponds to the ratio calculated to be produced by deep-Earth fission. It’s not the same as the ratio of helium isotopes formed in the air by cosmic rays (which is up to 34 times lower). 

Because most fission products are lighter and less dense than nuclear fuel in a georeactor, Hollenbach said, they most likely migrate away from a georeactor after accumulating there. As a result, the georeactor’s energy output will stop decreasing and start to rise again.

The Earth’s magnetic field varies in strength and has flipped its polarity over millions of years. These changes, he suggested, could be explained by georeactors that turn on and off. 

“The cyclic nature of geomagnetic field reversals and periodic high volcanic and plate tectonic activity indicate a varied power source,” he said.

If beryllium-10 and certain noble gases were discovered in deep mantle magmas and volcanic lavas and if anti-neutrinos could be detected, such evidence would help validate the georeactor model, he added. A FORNL participant suggested that Hollenbach confer with researchers at the IceCube Neutrino Observatory in Antarctica. 

Hollenback asserted that an even better understanding of georeactors could be attained through simulations using advanced software on today’s supercomputers — if funding for such a study is available.

 

The World Finally Caught Up With And Properly Acknowledged My Manz Sir Roger Penrose

bbc  |  UK-born mathematical physicist Sir Roger, from the University of Oxford, demonstrated that black holes were an inevitable consequence of Albert's Einstein's general theory of relativity.

Reacting to the win, he told the BBC: "It was an extreme honour and great pleasure to hear the news this morning, in a slightly unusual way - I had to get out of my shower to hear it."

Among scientific awards, he said, this is "the prime one".

Penrose receives half of this year's prize, with the other half being shared by Genzel and Ghez. Prof Ghez is only the fourth woman to win the physics prize, out of more than 200 laureates since 1901.

The other female recipients are Marie Curie (1903), Maria Goeppert-Mayer (1963) and Donna Strickland (2018).

"The history of black holes goes way back in time to the end of the 18th Century. Then, through Einstein's general relativity, we had the tools to describe these objects for real," said Ulf Danielsson, a member of the Nobel Committee.

But the mathematics of black holes was incredibly complex. Many researchers believed they were nothing more than mathematical artefacts, existing only on paper. It took researchers decades to realise they could persist in the real world.

"That's what Roger Penrose did," said Danielsson. "He understood the mathematics, he introduced new tools and then could actually prove this is a process you can naturally expect to happen - that a star collapses and turns into a black hole."

Sir Roger explained: "People were very sceptical at the time, it took a long time before black holes were accepted... their importance is, I think, only partially appreciated." 

Penrose was born in 1931 in Colchester and comes from a distinguished scientific family. He is the son of the psychiatrist and geneticist Lionel Penrose and Margaret Leathes, who was the daughter of a well-known English physiologist. His brother Jonathan is a chess grandmaster.

Sir Roger shied away from competition as a child and struggled in exams. He told BBC Radio 4's The Life Scientific programme in 2016: "I was good at maths, but I didn't necessarily do very well in my tests." However, he added: "The teacher realised if he gave me enough time, I would do well.

"I think I had to do all my arithmetic working it out from first principles," he chuckled, adding: "I just was slow, and I'm slow at writing."

In the 1950s, he came up with the Penrose triangle, an impossible object which could be depicted in a perspective drawing but could not exist in reality. The triangle, along with other observations by Sir Roger and his father Lionel, influenced the Dutch artist MC Escher, who incorporated them into his artworks Waterfall, and Ascending and Descending.

Inspired by the British scientist Dennis Sciama, Penrose next applied his mathematical ability to physics. In 1965, he published a landmark paper in which he was able to show that a black hole always hides a singularity, a boundary where space and time ends.

 

 

When Our Most Powerful General Purpose Technology Inventories Our Most Probing Cognitions?

quantummagazine  |  Every day, dozens of like-minded mathematicians gather on an online forum called Zulip to build what they believe is the future of their field.

They’re all devotees of a software program called Lean. It’s a “proof assistant” that, in principle, can help mathematicians write proofs. But before Lean can do that, mathematicians themselves have to manually input mathematics into the program, translating thousands of years of accumulated knowledge into a form Lean can understand.

To many of the people involved, the virtues of the effort are nearly self-evident.

“It’s just fundamentally obvious that when you digitize something you can use it in new ways,” said Kevin Buzzard of Imperial College London. “We’re going to digitize mathematics and it’s going to make it better.”

Digitizing mathematics is a longtime dream. The expected benefits range from the mundane — computers grading students’ homework — to the transcendent: using artificial intelligence to discover new mathematics and find new solutions to old problems. Mathematicians expect that proof assistants could also review journal submissions, finding errors that human reviewers occasionally miss, and handle the tedious technical work that goes into filling in all the details of a proof.

But first, the mathematicians who gather on Zulip must furnish Lean with what amounts to a library of undergraduate math knowledge, and they’re only about halfway there. Lean won’t be solving open problems anytime soon, but the people working on it are almost certain that in a few years the program will at least be able to understand the questions on a senior-year final exam.

And after that, who knows? The mathematicians participating in these efforts don’t fully anticipate what digital mathematics will be good for.

“We don’t really know where we’re headed,” said Sébastien Gouëzel of the University of Rennes.

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

How Sausage Gets Made In A Fundamentally Corrupt Governance Operating System

CTH  |   With 30-days left before the election perhaps it’s worthwhile remembering what all of this opposition is about…. Something 99% of American voters do not quite understand.

Congress doesn’t actually write legislation. The last item of legislation written by congress was sometime around the mid 1990’s. Modern legislation is sub-contracted to a segment of DC operations known as K-Street. That’s where the lobbyists reside.

Lobbyists write the laws; congress sells the laws; lobbyists then pay congress lucrative commissions for passing their laws. That’s the modern legislative business in DC.

When we talk about paying-off politicians in third-world countries we call it bribery. However, when we undertake the same process in the U.S. we call it “lobbying”.

CTH often describes the system with the phrase: “There are Trillions at Stake.” The process of creating legislation is behind that phrase. DC politics is not quite based on the ideas that frame most voter’s reference points.

With people taking notice of DC politics for the first time; and with people not as familiar with the purpose of DC politics; perhaps it is valuable to provide clarity.

Most people think when they vote for a federal politician -a House or Senate representative- they are voting for a person who will go to Washington DC and write or enact legislation. This is the old-fashioned “schoolhouse rock” perspective based on decades past. There is not a single person in congress writing legislation or laws.

In modern politics not a single member of the House of Representatives or Senator writes a law, or puts pen to paper to write out a legislative construct. This simply doesn’t happen.

Over the past several decades a system of constructing legislation has taken over Washington DC that more resembles a business operation than a legislative body. Here’s how it works right now.

Outside groups, often called “special interest groups”, are entities that represent their interests in legislative constructs. These groups are often representing foreign governments, Wall Street multinational corporations, banks, financial groups or businesses; or smaller groups of people with a similar connection who come together and form a larger group under an umbrella of interest specific to their affiliation.

Sometimes the groups are social interest groups; activists, climate groups, environmental interests etc. The social interest groups are usually non-profit constructs who depend on the expenditures of government to sustain their cause or need.

The for-profit groups (mostly business) have a purpose in Washington DC to shape policy, legislation and laws favorable to their interests. They have fully staffed offices just like any business would – only their ‘business‘ is getting legislation for their unique interests.

These groups are filled with highly-paid lawyers who represent the interests of the entity and actually write laws and legislation briefs.

Corrupt Interest Networks Have Become America's Operating System...,

ineteconomics  |  Sarah Chayes: When I was writing my 2015 book, Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security, I realized we are on the same spectrum as those other countries. I just did not yet realize exactly how relevant that analysis was to the U.S., and how swiftly the calamities would come.

On Corruption in America begins with the 2016 decision in McDonnell v U.S., in which the corruption conviction of a former Virginia governor was overturned by a unanimous Supreme Court. What stunned me was the divergence between ordinary people’s understanding of corruption — basically, if it quacks like a duck… — and the unanimous view of elites across the political divide that corruption is something of minor consequence, beneath notice. The opinion, accepted by all eight justices, including the late Ruth Bader Ginsberg, warned that America was in more danger from the fight against corruption than from corruption itself.

I knew we were in for very serious trouble.

LP: What kind of trouble, exactly?

SC: I had been looking at countries with systemic corruption and no civic means of redress. These kinds of conditions led to violent explosions, ideological insurgencies, a massive movement that erupted across the Arab world, peaceful civic protests that in a couple of cases spiraled into world-shaking civil wars, mass migrations out of those regions, and what have you.

In the places I’ve studied, there tended to be not so much a veer toward the extreme, but a jolt. That’s the kind of trouble I saw ahead for the U.S. I think we already experienced it to some extent in 2016, and I suspect it’s not over.

LP: Your book looks at networks of people who exploit political and economic systems to increase their wealth by working across private and public sectors. Help us understand this in a historical context. What is new or distinct with corruption in America today? What are some of its features?

SC: I looked at the Gilded Age in particular — understood broadly, from about 1870-1935 — and here’s the shocker: almost nothing is different today. Then, as now, intertwined, even intermarried, networks of billionaire-equivalents seized the main levers of power and bent them to their own objectives.

They wove themselves into incredibly resilient webs, which included business magnates, top government officials (or sometimes people serving in the two capacities at once), and even outright criminals. Often, they traded places in these various sectors, working in business for a while, then government, then back in business, and so on. They bent and distorted public institutions and laws, or eviscerated them. They physically crushed resistance. They brilliantly divided the egalitarian coalition against itself, across class and especially racial lines. They veiled themselves in secrecy. They bought people off.

Then, as now, their chief revenue streams were public procurement, finance, energy, and high-end real estate. Pharma/processed foods and the tech sector might be today’s most significant additions.

LP: You note that both political parties are intertwined with corrupt networks. How does this manifest in the current election cycle? Some hope a Biden presidency would be a blow to corruption. What’s your take?

SC: This is one of the most difficult aspects of this book — for me, and doubtless for readers. Americans so crave a good-guy-bad-guy story, now more than ever. We’re desperate for some sense of redemption. In the broad “blue” camp, what people want to hear is unadulterated Trump-loathing, and almost nothing else. But in the Biden-Harris ticket, I’m afraid I see a bit of a fantasy: that we can just wake up from this nightmare and it’s 2015, and none of this ever happened. But this book asks readers to see how 2015 and the prior two decades or so delivered the nightmare. And it highlights the role of many Democrats in creating the conditions. That is, Trump is not the lone villain in these pages, and all other sins are not wiped away before the sole objective of removing him from the office he is unfit to hold.

The next problem here, of course, is false equivalency. I do not mean and am not saying that all sides are equally corrupt. There is a small coalition of uberwealthy Americans that, since the late 1970s, has been systematically working to dismantle the institutions and practices that promote citizens’ well-being. Few if any of them are Democrats. But, on the “blue” side of the house, we have witnessed mass infection with what I call the “Midas disease” (see below) and consequently, an opportunistic validation of the radical moves made by that coalition of the rich.

Biden and many of those around him are among those validators. Among Democrats, we’ve seen the glorification of the “financial industry,” the avid participation not just in pay-to-play politics but in the influence-peddling economy that delivered us Joe Biden’s son Hunter serving on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. There was the Clinton Foundation before that.

We’ve also witnessed the wanton sabotage of regulatory safeguards that protected Americans from the worst abuses of profit-seeking corporations. All this has ratified the program of the largely Republican cabal I just mentioned. That is, what could have been isolated after the Reagan Administration as a radical project that violated every American principle of government to benefit the governed has instead been turned into bipartisan orthodoxy. No wonder half the American electorate doesn’t vote.

Monday, October 05, 2020

Forced Lockdowns Setting The Stage For Forced Vaccinations Setting the Stage For __________?

jonathanturley  |  In a recent column in the New York Times, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer criticized President Donald Trump for not issuing a national order making the wearing of masks mandatory – a pledge made by Vice President Joe Biden raising serious constitutional questions. Now, Whitmer is having her broad interpretation of state executive authority checked by the Michigan Supreme Court, which found that she violated the Constitution with her extension of the state of emergency.

The Supreme Court found that Whitmer lacked authority under two laws — the Emergency Management Act from 1976 and the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act from 1945.  Notably,  before the court’s opinion, advocacy groups submitted more than 539,000 signatures in a bid to repeal the 1945 law.

Yet the Michigan Supreme Court has now ruled that neither law gave Whitmer the authority to continue the state of emergency or issuing unilateral orders past April 30th.

NEJM  |   Six Trigger Criteria for State Covid-19 Vaccination Mandates.

  • Covid-19 is not adequately contained in the state.

  • The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has recommended vaccination for the groups for which a mandate is being considered.

  • The supply of vaccine is sufficient to cover the population groups for which a mandate is being considered.

  • Available evidence about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine has been transparently communicated.

  • The state has created infrastructure to provide access to vaccination without financial or logistic barriers, compensation to workers who have adverse effects from a required vaccine, and real-time surveillance of vaccine side effects.

  • In a time-limited evaluation, voluntary uptake of the vaccine among high-priority groups has fallen short of the level required to prevent epidemic spread.

The Plague Of Justinian And The Fall Of Rome

theconversation |  The plague of Justinian, named after the Roman emperor who reigned from A.S. 527 to 565, arrived in the Roman Empire in A.D. 542 and didn’t disappear until A.D. 755. During its two centuries of recurrence, it killed an estimated 25% to 50% of the population – anywhere from 25 million to 100 million people.

This massive loss of lives crippled the economy, triggering a financial crisis that exhausted the state’s coffers and hobbled the empire’s once mighty military.

In the east, Rome’s principal geopolitical rival, Sassanid Persia, was also devastated by the plague and was therefore in no position to exploit the Roman Empire’s weakness. But the forces of the Islamic Rashidun Caliphate in Arabia – which had long been contained by the Romans and Sasanians – were largely unaffected by the plague. The reasons for this are not well understood, but they probably have to do with the caliphate’s relative isolation from major urban centers.

Caliph Abu Bakr didn’t let the opportunity go to waste. Seizing the moment, his forces swiftly conquered the entire Sasanian Empire while stripping the weakened Roman Empire of its territories in the Levant, the Caucasus, Egypt and North Africa.

Pre-pandemic, the Mediterranean world had been relatively unified by commerce, politics, religion and culture. What emerged was a fractured trio of civilizations jockeying for power and influence: an Islamic one in the eastern and southern Mediterranean basin; a Greek one in the northeastern Mediterranean; and a European one between the western Mediterranean and the North Sea.

This last civilization – what we now call medieval Europe – was defined by a new, distinctive economic system.

Before the plague, the European economy had been based on slavery. After the plague, the significantly diminished supply of slaves forced landowners to begin granting plots to nominally “free” laborers – serfs who worked the lord’s fields and, in return, received military protection and certain legal rights from the lord.

The seeds of feudalism were planted.

The Antonine Plague Spurred The Rise Of The Roman Catholic West

charleshughsmith |  Things change, supposedly immutable systems crumble and delusions die. That's the lay of the land in the The Empire of Uncertainty I described yesterday.

It's difficult not to be reminded of the Antonine Plague of 165 AD that crippled the Western Roman Empire. The exact nature of the virus that struck down as many as one-third of the Empire's residents is unknown; it's thought to be an early variant of measles or smallpox.

One would have guessed the populace achieved "herd immunity" after the first wave devastated the Empire, but that's not what happened. The plague continued until 180 AD, and recurred a decade later, continuing to sow misery and economic costs.

Valiant co-Emperor Verus fell ill and died in 169 AD, leaving his adopted brother Marcus Aurelius to struggle on as the sole leader of Rome's efforts to repel invasions and maintain its defenses.

What's different now is the extreme fragility of America's financial and social orders. The apparent strength of the economy rests on increasing extremes of financialization and its corrupting fruit, soaring wealth/power inequality.

"The market" would have us believe corporations profiting from "engagement" (i.e. divisiveness and turmoil) are the most valuable assets in the land. If the Empire's most precious assets are the derangements of "engagement," then what else do we need to know about its advanced fragility?

If data stripmined from debt-dependent consumers is the most profitable resource in the nation, that's a definition of distortion and delusion. It's almost as if the American economy and social order have discounted the material world, as if financial leverage, data-mining and "engagement" are all that really matters and the material world will magically take care of itself. 

Sunday, October 04, 2020

Corrupt Corrosive Covens That Have Profoundly Damaged America...,

 chicagounheard  |  Teachers unions don’t like to affiliate themselves with police unions.  The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) recently advocated for pulling Chicago police from the city’s schools.  As we see the police brutality against Black people continue unabated even as the light of transparency increases, police unions are not very popular. They protect rogue and abusive police officers and have for hundreds of years.  They fight reform and any sorts of limits on their power. 

And they do their job well.  Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer, who brutally killed George Floyd, had 18 prior complaints against him and still had his job.   Police unions are effective at protecting their members.  

And it is the same with teachers unions. When police officers or teachers are accused of wrongdoing, it is the union that supplies the public relations spin, the lawyers and the defense. 

Teacher unions want you to believe that they are about students, that they are social justice warriorsfighting for sanctuary citiesDREAMers and others, but their fundamental purpose is to increase teachers’ pay, lower their class sizes and protect their jobs.  And in these roles, they are successful.  When I was a teacher, that is what I wanted from my union. 

It is not the union’s job to protect students; their job is to help teachers keep their jobs. Sadly, this is still the teacher union’s job, even when teacher members are sexual molesters and otherwise abusive.  In the 2018 series Betrayed, the Chicago Tribune uncovered hundreds of cases of sexual assault and abuse by teachers and school staff in Chicago’s public schools over the previous 10 years; there are myriad examples of predators moving from school to school. It is impossible to know the exact number because records are spotty.  

In Betrayed, there is evidence of the failings of every step of the school system while the CTU remained silent.  Apparently, their leader, Jesse Sharkey, “missed” the emails from investigators.  What could he say?

It is not hard to argue that these recent actions of both police and teacher unions are not in the public interest. Both enjoy significant political power from supporting elected officials who advocate for them. The unions often fight any legislation aimed at increasing teacher accountability and transparency or eroding the robust job protections that teachers and police officers enjoy.

Sadly, almost everyone has a story of a bad teacher. When I was a teacher, I had a colleague who was just waiting to retire.  For two years, I saw the energetic and intellectually curious 6th graders in her class shrivel. It was heartbreaking.

The barriers to firing ineffective–not to mention harmful or predatory– teachers are almost insurmountable thanks to tenure laws, which give teachers almost 100% job protection once they have taught for a few years.  This probationary period is different in different districts, but teacher unions always fight for the shortest probationary period possible. 

Both teachers and police officers work with the public when they are at their most vulnerable.

Politically - The FOP Is A Pimple On A Gnat's Ass Compared With The Teacher's Unions...,

influencewatch |  The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) is a membership association and labor union comprised of more than 330,000 law enforcement officers. Officers are members of local chapters known as “lodges,” which act as labor unions or fraternal organizations, and number over 2,200 nationwide. The FOP claims to improve working conditions for police officers as well as maintain safety for the public through education, community involvement, and legislation, among other things.[1] Lodges engage in collective bargaining on behalf of police officers in states that permit such bargaining.[2]

The FOP has a full-time lobbying component, the Steve Young Law Enforcement Legislative Advocacy Center, which advocates for or against legislation to protect government worker labor unions, law enforcement, and the FOP’s interests.[3] The FOP has spent nearly $6 million lobbying since 1998.[4] In the 116th Congress, FOP supported legislation like the Social Security Fairness Act, legislation that would eliminate the exemption for state and local government workers from Social Security;[5] the Law Enforcement Officers Equity Act covering police retirement administration;[6] and the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act, legislation that would require states and municipalities to engage in collective bargaining with police unions like the FOP local lodges.[7][8]

The FOP opposes any potential legislation that may negatively affect law enforcement, including legislation that would weaken protections for police officers regarding healthcare and overtime, create or support civilian review boards, or normalize relations with countries like Cuba and Mexico, which the FOP deems safe havens for “cop-killers.” [9] The FOP also opposes any amendment or legislation that would weaken the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act (CAFRA) of 2000.[10] CAFRA was seen as favoring law enforcement over citizens by only increasing law enforcement’s burden of proof to a preponderance of evidence, as opposed to clear and convincing evidence, when seizing property alleged to have been used for criminal purposes. CAFRA also allowed formerly secret information to be shared between prosecutors and authorities seeking civil asset forfeiture.[11]

Though the FOP has supported some Republicans (most prominently endorsing Republican candidate Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential election[12]), its federal political action committee has in most election cycles contributed the larger share of its donations to Democrats; in 2014, it made no contributions to any federal Republicans, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.[13]

The FOP was established in 1915 by two police officers in Pittsburgh. It became a national organization in 1917.[14]

America's Largest Labor Union Has Presided Over The Decline Of American Public Schools

influencewatch |   The National Education Association (NEA) is America’s largest labor union representing nearly three million employees, principally teachers. With affiliates in every state across 14,000 communities [1], NEA represents teachers, education support professionals, retired teachers, education faculty and staff, substitute teachers, and administrators.[2] It exercises enormous political clout in everything from contract negotiations to issue advocacy and lobbying.[3]

The NEA is a major political player, with its associated political action committees contributing nearly $143.5 million to federal candidates and committees—97% of which supported Democrats and liberals—from 1990 through February 2019. [4] The NEA is also deeply entangled in state and local politics and is a major contributor to left-of-center nonprofit organizations.[5]

 

AFT's Randi Weingarten Would Protect A Dead Body In The Classroom...,

influencewatch |  The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is the second-largest teachers’ union in the United States. The union represents roughly 1.5 million members, most of whom work in teaching and education-related jobs as well as nursing.[1] The union is a member of the AFL-CIO.

The AFT, like most public-sector unions, is a major player in liberal policy and Democratic Party politics. The union and union president Rhonda “Randi” Weingarten are associated with the Democracy Alliance network of liberal mega-donors.[2] AFT and its associated political committees are also substantial contributors to Democratic candidates and party committees: According to the Center for Responsive Politics, those committees have spent upwards of $80 million on federal elections, with $79 million going to Democrats and left of center groups.[3]

The union’s political positions focus on preserving privileges for teachers largely regardless of teacher quality. The AFT is a staunch defender of “tenure” policies that make it exceptionally difficult to remove ineffective teachers from the classroom.[4] Additionally, the union opposes many efforts to bring pension contributions and expenditures into long-run balance.[5]

Numerous AFT local unions have been affected by serious corruption committed by senior officers in the local unions. The Washington Teachers Union, the United Teachers of Dade, and the Broward Teachers Union all suffered substantial financial losses from financial corruption committed by their officers.[6] The AFT locals in Chicago and New York City have also been embroiled in highly controversial local politics.

Union president Randi Weingarten is a longtime union official, having served previously as president of the AFT-affiliated local teachers union in New York City, the United Federation of Teachers. In her work as New York’s teacher union president, Weingarten gained infamy for her aggressive defense of teachers awaiting dismissal hearings for misconduct in the city’s “rubber rooms.” One principal went so far as to suggest Weingarten “would protect a dead body in the classroom.”[7]

Saturday, October 03, 2020

When The Time Is Ripe The CIA Will Dust Off Its Playbook And Give The LARPS A Plot And A Purpose

foreignpolicy |  If proud boys and vigilantes can’t pull off a coordinated drive for power, they may opt for a time-honored approach in democratic politics: the “strategy of tension.” In a paper published this spring, University of Winchester criminologists Matt Clement and Vincenzo Scalia defined the strategy of tension as a political method of “state crime,” designed to produce “a climate of fear within communities. [Strategies of tension] employ deceit, threats, and acts of violence in order to maintain control across society through fear of the consequences of challenging the government of the day.”

The term was coined in Italy during the Years of Lead from the late 1960s to the 1980s, when political violence exploded, with bombings, kidnappings, and failed coups making weekly headlines. Under the strategy of tension, as the left grows more militant, influential, and strident in its demands, the right tries to inflame social tensions rather than defuse them. The violence has a dual purpose, to both suppress and provoke. The right’s aim is to cordon the left off from power by simultaneously intimidating them, eliciting escalation, getting the police to crack down, and using the chaos to manipulate public opinion and political alliances.

Virtually every member of the Western Alliance has had its own years of lead, not only Italy but Britain during The Troubles in Northern Ireland, France as it tried to cling to Algeria and was targeted by its own paramilitary terror campaign, South America in the years of Operation Condor, Mexico’s Dirty War, and so on. America is no exception. The country has been here several times before: Bleeding Kansas during the 1850s, when slave-owners and abolitionists faced off in murderous confrontations; the birth of the first Klan after the Civil War to resist Radical Reconstruction; and the wave of violence that accompanied the rise of the Third Klan during the civil rights movement. Elements of the left from John Brown to the Italian Red Brigades have also pursued violent accelerationist campaigns in pursuit of social change. But only the reactionaries have enjoyed approval from more mainstream sources of political power. Often, they got logistical support as well as material and legal cover from security services.

Clement and Scalia described the strategy of tension as a vicious cycle. State prevention of emancipatory politics leads to dissent, which is in turn repressed and delegitimized, further isolating social movements.

State prevention of emancipatory politics leads to dissent, which is in turn repressed and delegitimized, further isolating social movements.
With no outlet for their demands, activists pursue more radical confrontations, leading their opponents to justify almost any violence in maintenance of the oppressive regime.

That dynamic is on display in the response to this year’s BLM protests. Once initial police suppression was met with uprisings, the “good guys with guns,” “patriots,” and militias showed up. Ostensibly there to protect businesses and  support law enforcement, the armed right has instead brought Chekhov’s AR-15 onto the political stage. The inevitable exchanges of gunfire and vehicular assaults at protests demonstrate, as Christina Cauterucci recently wrote for Slate, the political ethos of “own the libs” has escalated into “kill the libs.”

In the classic model, the strategy of tension was associated with Cold War covert action and CIA interference in our allies’ domestic politics. After World War II, Western intelligence agencies really did organize “stay-behind networks” with alumni of both fascist regimes and anti-communist resistance networks in preparation for a possible Soviet invasion.

And a military threat from the east was only one strategic danger: The left, it was feared, could also rise to power in the West at the ballot box and through social movements. The CIA did put its hands on the scale in the elections like Italy in 1948, when left-wing parties were portrayed as Soviet puppets and systemically kept out of a coalition government. In the late 1960s, the rise of the New Left was indeed met with covert violence, police terror, and a string of false flag attacks by neo-Fascists intended to suppress, discredit, and isolate the young movement.

 

He-Man Woman-Hater Proud Boy LARPS Even More Confused Than The Oath Keepers...,

WND  |  A co-founder of Proud Boys said Friday he will sue Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and media outlets that have called the organization "white supremacist" and "Nazi."

"I'm suing them. I'm suing Joe Biden. I'm suing CNN. All of these reporters that call this multi-racial patriotic group white supremacists and Nazis," said Gavin McInnes in an interview with Newsmax TV.

 The group, which portrays itself as a patriotic counterbalance to Antifa, was spotlighted in the presidential debate Tuesday when Biden named it as a "white supremacist" group that President Trump should specifically condemn.

McInnes, who left the group in 2018, said the people associated with Proud Boys who are being labeled are "not tolerating it anymore."

"As far as I'm concerned, that's the new 'N' word. You call me a Nazi? That's as bad as any other racial epithet," he told Newsmax TV. Those people killed 6 million Jews, and to call us that is a deep-seated insult.

McInnes left Proud Boys after an October 2018 clash between members of the group and Antifa that followed a speech he made in New York at the Metropolitan Republican Club. He helped found the Proud Boys in 2016.

He said the organization previously sued the discredited Southern Poverty Law Center for describing the Proud Boys as a hate group.

"Now we're gonna start getting litigious with everyone. It's the only way to fight back," he said.

He said Biden labeled the Proud Boys as white supremacist possibly because he's "senile" or "mentally weak."

"When you're incurious and your brain is going, which seems to be about half the American population these days, then the tiki torch guys in Charlottesville, and Patriot Prayer, and militia, and three-percenters, and Trump supporters, they're all the same, and the KKK," McInnes said.

In an interview Thursday with Britain's Sky News, the national chairman of Proud Boys -- who is African American and Cuban -- noted his skin color.

 

 

Oathkeeper LARPS Been Telling Themselves A Story - But They Don't Yet Know The Plot...,

theatlantic  |  I drove from Kentucky into the mountains of Carroll County, Virginia, and, in a field along a winding road, parked at the end of a long row of pickup trucks and SUVs. A hundred people, most of them armed, were looking up at a man giving a speech from the back of a flatbed truck that was painted in camouflage. Between the crowd and me were two young men with semiautomatic rifles. They stopped me in a manner—neither friendly nor unfriendly—that I’d encountered at checkpoints in other parts of the world.

So-called militia musters like this one had been quietly happening all over the state. The legislature was still pushing ahead with gun-control measures, and people were preparing for the possibility of more riots, and for the election. Rhodes was scheduled to give remarks but, as usual, he was late.

One of the young men said something into a walkie-talkie, and a muscular Iraq War veteran named Will joined me and explained the reason for the guards and the men posted in the woods on the far side of the field. They weren’t worried about law enforcement—a deputy from the sheriff’s department stood not far from me, leaning against his cruiser. It was leftists, antifa, who might record your license plate, dox you, show up at your home.

This was a different kind of crowd than Rhodes had drawn to the VFW hall. Many were in their 20s and 30s and had come in uniforms—some Three Percenters wore black T‑shirts and camouflage pants, and members of another group stood together in matching woodland fatigues. From the latter, a man climbed onto the flatbed and introduced himself as Joe Klemm, the leader of a new militia called the Ridge Runners.

He was a 29-year-old former marine and spoke with a boom that brought the crowd to attention. “I’ve seen this coming since I was in the military,” he said. “For far too long, we’ve given a little bit here and there in the interest of peace. But I will tell you that peace is not that sweet. Life is not that dear. I’d rather die than not live free.”

“Hoo-ah,” some people cheered.

“It’s going to change in November,” Klemm continued. “I follow the Constitution. We demand that the rest of you do the same. We demand that our police officers do the same. We’re going to make these people fear us again. We should have been shooting a long time ago instead of standing off to the side.”

“Are you willing to lose your lives?” he asked. “Are you willing to lose the lives of your loved ones—maybe see one of your loved ones ripped apart right next to you?”

After he finished, Rhodes rolled up in his rented Dodge Ram and parked in the grass beside me. He walked to the flatbed but didn’t climb it. Then he turned and faced the crowd. His speech meandered back to revolutionary times, evoking the traditions of a country founded in bloodshed. He urged them to build a militia for their community.

Rhodes stayed at the muster long after most people had left, meeting every last person, his history lessons stretching on and on. Eventually the conversation turned to the problems in the area—the drug overdoses and mental-health crises and the desperate state of the local economy. The people there seemed to believe that taking up arms would somehow stave off the country’s unraveling rather than speed it along.

When the protests erupted in Kenosha a month later, many of the demonstrators brought guns, and vigilante groups quickly formed on the other side. They called themselves the Kenosha Guard. There was a confrontation near a gas station like the one at Pepperoni Bill’s, and a teenager allegedly opened fire and killed two people. A man affiliated with antifa allegedly gunned down a Trump supporter in Portland later that week, and Rhodes declared that “the first shot has been fired.”

By then, some writers popular on the militant right had been warning that wars don’t always start with a clear, decisive event—an attack, a coup, an invasion—and that you might not realize you’re in one until it’s under way. Civil conflict is gradual. The path to it, I thought, might begin with brooding over it. It could start with opening your mind.

Friday, October 02, 2020

Why Liberals Hate Leftists And Negroes

caitlinjohnstone |  Liberals hate leftists. Hate them, hate them, hate them.

They don’t often admit it of course. Admitting you hate those to your left at least as much as you hate those to your right would cause a lot of cognitive dissonance for those who think of themselves as being on the left, and it would weaken their arguments considerably.

But they do. Liberals hate leftists, for a number of reasons.

Liberals hate leftists because there is a night-and-day difference between a capitalist, imperialist establishment and an ideology which wants to tear down that establishment and replace it with peace and socialism. There’s more of a difference between true leftists and establishment liberals than there is between the far right and establishment liberals.

Liberals hate leftists because the psychological discomfort known as cognitive dissonance actually hurts, so those who provoke it can often be perceived as the cause of that pain.

Liberals hate leftists because they’ve spent their whole lives building and reinforcing a worldview which validates war, oligarchy and exploitation while thinking of themselves as defenders of equality and sanity, so when someone comes in promoting an ideology which highlights the discrepancy between those two points the cognitive dissonance which sets in makes them feel like the leftist just slapped them in the face.

Liberals hate leftists because while both purport to support the working class and disempowered groups, only one of them actually does so.

Liberals hate leftists for the same reason someone telling a bogus self-aggrandizing story at a party would hate somebody who caught them in one of their lies in front of everyone.

Liberals hate leftists because leftists are a constant reminder that liberals are not the thing they pretend to be.

Liberals hate leftists for the same reason you’d hate someone who keeps yelling out “This is all fake! Those are actors!” at a theater: they disrupt a pleasant illusion the liberals are trying to enjoy about villains being fought by heroic protagonists.

I Was Unaware That Diversity/Sensitivity Training Is A CIA Invention...,

newyorker  |   The invention of the sensitivity-training group is often traced to a specific evening: Lewin was running a workshop for teachers and social workers in Connecticut, where he had been hired by the state to help address racial and religious prejudice. After the participants had left, a few stragglers returned and asked to be permitted to sit in on the debriefings, and Lewin agreed. Though it was initially awkward to have the participants present, Lewin realized that the setup led to frank and open conversations. He saw the transformative possibilities of uninhibited feedback in the real time of the group session, and established the idea of the corporate T-group—shorthand for sensitivity “training group”—at the National Training Laboratory, in Bethel, Maine. His inroads into social engineering could also be put to less conciliatory purposes; Lewin was a consultant for the Office of Strategic Services and developed programs to help recruit potential spies.

The T-group, which was sometimes called “therapy for normals”—rather insensitively by today’s standards but with the intent of destigmatizing the practice—was a therapeutic workshop for strangers which would take place in a neutral locale and promote candid emotional exchange. A typical T-group session would begin with the facilitator declining to assume any active leadership over the session, a move that would surprise and disconcert the participants, who would collectively have to work out the problem of how to deal with a lack of hierarchy or directives.

It sounds simple enough, but the experience could be deeply unsettling, even life-changing, for some. As one contemporary witness of the Bethel N.T.L. workshops remarked, “I had never observed such a buildup of emotional tension in such a short time. I feared it was more than some leaders and members could bear.” The T-group promised an antidote to the oppressions of Dale Carnegie-style insincerity that dominated the business world, and, crucially, the sessions seemed to provide a glimpse of a reality in which it was finally possible to know how one was really perceived.

the prize for the “toughest encounter seminar that had been ever convened at Esalen” went to one run collaboratively by George Leonard and Price Cobbs. Leonard was a white psychologist from the South, whose youthful encounter with the terrified eyes of a Black prisoner surrounded by a white mob instilled in him a lifelong commitment to fighting racism. He implored Cobbs, an African-American psychiatrist who was co-authoring the book “Black Rage,” to come to Esalen to collaborate. They organized a storied, twenty-four-hour-marathon racial-sensitivity workshop between Black and white participants that became rancorous: “the anger rolled on and on without end” and “interracial friendships crumbled on the spot.” Finally, Anderson relates how, as the sun was beginning to rise, an African-American woman was moved to spontaneously comfort a crying white woman, and this shifted the tenor of the entire session. Though the episode could easily be read less sunnily, as another troubling instance of the oppressor requiring comfort from the oppressed, the facilitators purportedly deemed it a success. Cobbs spoke to Leonard and declared, “George, we’ve got to take this to the world.”

Cobbs’s career encapsulates the shift of sensitivity training from its literary roots to corporate argot. He was sparked by early epiphanies about Black anger and injustice, inspired by reading Richard Wright, James Baldwin, and Ralph Ellison. He admired the plot of “Invisible Man,” for instance, because “the unnamed main character’s sense of his own invisibility fans his ultimate rage into flames of self-expression. . . .” Cobbs credited Lewin’s research as a key precedent when he went on to found Pacific Management Systems, a training center for T-group leaders, and he played a role in the spinoff of diversity training from sensitivity training. His years of advising African-American businesspeople formed the basis of his guide, from 2000, “Cracking the Corporate Code: The Revealing Success Stories of 32 African-American Executives.”

In her provocative history “Race Experts,” from 2002, the scholar Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn examines Cobbs’s career as part of the larger story of how “racial etiquette” and sensitivity training “hijacked” and banalized civil-rights discourse. Quinn persuasively maintains that “sensitivity itself is an inadequate and cynical substitution for civility and democracy—both of which presuppose some form of equal treatment and universal standard of conduct,” and neither of which, of course, the U.S. has ever achieved.

Democrat Monopoly Power Over The Black Vote

BAR  |  The Biden-Trump confrontation revealed, with crystalline clarity, that the real “genius” of the American electoral process is its total imperviousness to popular demands for a healthier, more just and less economically precarious society and a peaceful, ecologically stable world. Instead, the Democratic alternative to the white supremacist Republican in the White House is — another lifelong racist, mass-incarcerating, corporate-serving, warmongering old white man. 

“The party is me, right now. I am the Democratic Party,” Joe Biden shot back at the “clown” Donald Trump, who repeatedly tried to associate the former vice president with the Green New Deal, Medicare for All and Black Lives Matter demands to rein in the police — all issues supported by super-majorities of Democrats, and even large chunks of Republican voters, but opposed by the candidate now representing the Party. 

“You just lost the left,” Trump twice hollered, wishfully. In an actual democracy the Democrats would, indeed, have committed political suicide by nominating a corporate hack and career race-baiter like Biden as their standard-bearer. But the U.S. is a corporate dictatorship where the rich have two parties and the rest of us effectively have none. 

The voters that Trump referred to in the debate as “the left,” are actually at the center of the U.S. political spectrum, where super-majorities favor the positions taken by Bernie Sanders during the primaries. Exit polls in South Carolina and on “Super Tuesday” showed that the same Democrats that voted for Joe Biden nevertheless favored Sanders’ positions on the issues, but opted for Biden in fear of Trump and his rabid White Man’s Party. It’s a simple formula that allows Democrats to promise their base nothing — except that they are not Trump or some other flagrant racist.

“The U.S. is a corporate dictatorship where the rich have two parties and the rest of us effectively have none.”

The trick will continue to work until voters, especially Blacks, stop rewarding Democrats for their serial betrayals. There is nothing smart or “strategic” about falling for the same trick every election cycle – and anybody that tells you different is in on the con game.

Thursday, October 01, 2020

Capitalism Energizes Hierarchy And Grows Through Sabotage

capitalaspower  |  According to the theory of capital as power, capitalism, like any other mode of power, is born through sabotage and lives in chains – and yet everywhere we look we see it grow and expand. What explains this apparent puzzle of ‘growth in the midst of sabotage’? The answer, we argue, begins with the very meaning of ‘growth’. Whereas conventional political economy equates growth with a rising standard of living, we posit that much of this growth has nothing to do with livelihood as such: it represents not the improvement of wellbeing, but the expansion of sabotage itself. Building on this premise, the article historicizes, theorizes and models the relationship between changes in hierarchical power and sabotage on the one hand and the growth of energy capture on the other. It claims that hierarchical power is sought for its own sake; that building and sustaining this power demands strategic sabotage; and that sabotage absorbs a significant proportion of the energy captured by society. From this standpoint, capitalism grows, at least in part, not despite but because of – and indeed through – sabotage.

Greed Is Not Good...,

ksjomo  |   Milton Friedman’s libertarian economics advocating shareholder capitalism has influenced generations trying to understand the economy, not only in the US, but all over the world.

He was not just an academic economist, but an enormously influential celebrity conservative ideologue who legitimized ideas for the like-minded, including the belief that ‘greed is good’. Now, shareholder capitalism’s consequences haunt the world and threaten humanity with stagnation and self-destruction.
 
In 1962, Friedman published his most influential book, Capitalism and Freedom. In September 1970, the New York Times Magazine published his essay, The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase Its Profits. The fiftieth anniversary of its publication has triggered an international debate of its contemporary significance, especially with the resurgence of ethno-populist jingoism embracing his neoliberal economic agenda.  

The article -- reiterating the Friedman Doctrine, presuming perfectly functioning markets that only exist in the minds and writings of some economists -- is a manifesto for American shareholdercapitalism. It inspired the counter-revolution against Keynesianism, development economics and other state interventions.
 
The word ‘competition’ appears only once, in the last sentence. Yet, some supporters insist that Friedman was not ‘pro-business’, but rather ‘pro-market’. But, unlike capitalism, the market has been with us for several millennia and has happily co-existed with unfreedoms of various types.
 
Perfect competition rarely exists due to inherent tendencies undermining it. Hence, various challenges to Friedmanite wisdom. For half a century, information and behavioural economics have challenged his many assumptions, certainly much more than the Austrian School advocacy and defence of capitalism.
Thus, Friedman conveniently ignored ‘market imperfections’ in the real world, although or perhaps because they undermined the empirical bases for his reasoning. So, even if Friedman’s logic was true, reality prevents profit-maximizing firm behaviour from maximizing societal welfare, if not cause the converse.
 
bMeanwhile, Friedman’s monetarist economics has been discredited, and has little practical influence anymore, especially with the turn to ‘unconventional monetary policies’, particularly after the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. Yet, his ideological sway remains strong, as it serves powerful interests.


(Cheerleading) Monopoly Power And Sexual Abuse

mattstoller.substack  |  When I started writing this newsletter on monopoly power, I would not have predicted that one of the more interesting and popular themes would be on how market power plays out in the world of cheerleading. And yet, the story of monopolization in cheer is a great example of the problem of concentrated corporate power, because it reveals so much about how our economy actually works.

As a quick recap, the company involved is called Varsity Brands, which has monopolized the sport of cheerleading by buying up most major competitions. Varsity is owned by private equity giant Bain Capital. What makes this story so useful is that there are no fancy high tech gadgets in cheer, no possible excuses from economists; it’s just the use of raw power to extract money from teenagers and their families through a business conspiracy.

The story also speaks to the power of advocates to make change. Over the past six months, competitors and customers have filed multiple class action antitrust lawsuits against Varsity, all essentially alleging the same anti-competitive practices from different angles. These cases hit one after another, building on each other and adding more details to the overall story of recklessness that occurs under a monopoly.

And now another shoe just dropped.

Last week, Marisa Kwiatkowski and Tricia L. Nadolny at USA Today detailed a massive scandal of rampant sexual abuse in cheerleading. There’s a high-profile aspect of this scandal; Netflix’s Cheer celebrity Jerry Harris was arrested for producing child pornography involving young cheerleaders, with complaints about him seemingly ignored by the main cheer governing body. But the scandal is more far-reaching than just Harris. What Kwiatkowski and Nadolny found was that over a 100 convicted sex offenders who had raped or assaulted children or otherwise engaged in sexual misconduct were allowed to work in the cheerleading world, and the two governing nonprofits of the sport - USA Cheer and the U.S. All Star Federation (USASF) - did not put these sex offenders on their list of people banned from the sport.

This kind of abusive behavior happens in every sphere of human activity, so one might think that abuse is not intrinsic to any particular business model. Further, these offenders by and large did not work at Varsity, but at independent gyms and associated companies doing business in the cheerleading ecosystem, so it’s even easier to see this as an isolated scandal. And yet, while it may not at first seem like it, this scandal about predators is part of the same monopoly story that I happened to hit on in January. This is a story of a theme I’ve hit on in other industries, or what is known as absentee ownership.