Anti-ACT groupies throwing a temper tantrum in lieu of a well thought out critique

So the Twitter hit the fan and once again the fake outrage machine goes into overdrive thanks to a post that was made by the deputy leader of the ACT Party (for the sake of disclosure, I was a member 9 years ago and ran as a candidate in Wigram but I’ve since left the party and haven’t voted for them since running in 2008) regarding the ‘controversial’ idea that one should live within ones means by only making lifestyle choices that you can afford ( link ):

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So you expect that people would post rational replies such as pointing out that circumstances can change over long periods of time, that the lack of access to affordable contraception, abortion and comprehensive sex education isn’t something that is universally consistent around New Zealand, that punishing children for the stupidity of parents seems cruel and unusual punishment etc. then you would be wrong. Nope, rather than talk about the tonnes of legitimate issues that exist with the ACT Party policies and philosophy you had the usual screaming and complaining from the ‘emotions first, rationalism and logic on the back burner” with screaming about how the rich can only have kids but fail to see how ‘poor having more poor people to be chewed up like a commodity in the capitalist grinder for the benefit of the rich’ apparently doesn’t sound repugnant to one person:

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Then followed by the same stupid nonsense of complaining that the ACT Party want to eradicate those with disabilities:

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Even though on the actual policy website ( link ) they note the following: “Continue to advocate for continued and more generous state support for those with physical or mental conditions who require support, including improved access to supported living arrangements for those with serious mental illness.”. Again, there are loads to attack the ACT Party on without needing to make shit up. Then there is this chap:

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Want to know what is really repugnant, the fact that you couldn’t even be bothered to sit and reflect on what was actually posted before firing off a reply because if you had you would have realised that what Beth was talking about and the scenario you laid out are not the same situation. Again, there are legitimate issues regarding their policy such as the time limit on the Job Seeker or solo parent support benefit that you could rip apart but I guess mischaracterising what someone posts as a Segway for your tirade seems to be your de rigueur. Then there are people who just pull stuff out of their backside like claiming what was posted as a ‘puritanical moralism’:

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Because making sure that you can affordable a lifestyle choice that you make is apparently the hallmark of puritanical moralism according to this chap – really? The only person who seems to be doing puritanical moralism seems to be your and your interpretation of being a responsible adult – feeling guilty about some choices you’ve made in life?

The rest of the posts on that thread? A clear indication that they never read the ACT Party policies ( link ) so instead they use it as a venue to projectile vomit the poorly digested information they gleamed off their friends, family and an almost pavlovian response when ever the name of a centre right party’s is heard within earshot. As noted the beginning, there is a lot one can be critical of in regards to what the ACT Party actually say in their party manifesto – you don’t need to go around inventing new things to be outraged about just as Democrats don’t need to whip themselves into a frenzy over Russia when there are so many horrible things the Republicans are doing already – be it the EPA, Education, the repeal of ObamaCare etc. How about people focus on what is actually real rather than making stuff up or am I expecting too much?

Healthcare reform in the US: The dumpster fire of dumpster fires.

So once again we have the Republicans, after having 8 years to come up with an alternative healthcare policy, have delivered a mess called ‘The Better Care Reconciliation Act’ which not only fails but what makes the situation worse which is compounded further via the dishonesty by Republicans regarding the ‘Affordable Care Act’ aka ObamaCare – side note, I personally prefer a single payer healthcare system like we have in New Zealand but take from that you will:

1) It fails to explain to the American public why there is an individual mandate in the first place. It has nothing to do with ‘big bad Obama’ taking away your rights’ and everything to do with ensuring that a system that doesn’t discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions are able to get coverage without risking a death spiral in the health insurance market. You need enough young and healthy people paying into the system so that cost of those with pre-existing conditions can be offset.

2) The death spiral isn’t the result of ObamaCare but the result of Republicans getting rid of the ObamaCare Risk corridor stabilisation fund which would help during the transition as all Americans get into the insurance system. The first wave of people signing up being the sickest thus their costs would be immediate and need to be offset by the stabilisation fund whilst the healthier customers come in and buy up policies which will eventually balance out the initial amount of money that went out to cover the first wave of people who signed up.

3) The stabilisation fund was to bridge the gap (the period between sick people entering and then healthier people entering in later on) as to ensure that it didn’t go into the death spiral but thanks to Republicans cutting it (the stabilisation fund) the net result was a sharp rise in premiums and insurance companies leaving states but then again this has always been part of their (Republican) play book: “[policy] doesn’t work and we’ll make sure that [policy] won’t work by taking away the central plank that holds up the said policy”.

Are there issues that need resolving? Sure but what have the Republicans proposed other than the same reheated ideas that simply don’t work because healthcare is one sector of the market which the ideas of market forces cannot be applied – increasing costs don’t reduce demand (simply put, health is a need not a want so people generally cannot hold off until a ‘better deal’ comes along) and due to the highly regulated nature of the market (for good reason) the sorts of innovation that drive down costs take years to make it market not to mention the requirement to make back not only the initial investment but the costs of getting it to market in the first place (reduction in delivery is undermined by the cost of the final product due those inputs I talked about).

How does one deal with it? government intervention which ensures that a social good like healthcare is available in sufficient enough volume at an accessible price point hence government intervention; either directly such as directly providing healthcare by owning hospitals, clinics etc or indirectly through a single payer with strong regulations to keep costs under control. There is also invention in the education sector to also ensure that sufficient enough nurses, doctors and trained specialists are entering into the profession through subsidising education through lower fees and interest free student loans. Then there is bulk negotiation of pharmaceuticals from companies – horse trade over the prices and drive down the cost per unit, the company gets a secure customer who pays on time and the customer (aka ‘the tax payer’) receives value for money. At different points in the health sector the government can and does intervene to bring down the cost of delivery and you’d think with over 70+ years of national healthcare systems from around the world that America could learn from, they (America) still insist on re-inventing the wheel.

Updates-a-plenty: Windows 10 Creators Update plus test beta macOS 10.12.4, iOS 10.3 and tvOS 10.2

It appears that the Windows 10 Creators Update is now feature frozen and will be receiving no more features – all bug fixes and from then on out but so far it appears that part of the update has no only been about adding new features but making the whole ‘software as a service’ model work a whole lot smoother when compared to the anniversary update. The biggest problem, as I’ve noted in the past, is the fact that although the idea of ‘software as a service’ (aka ‘rolling release’) is a great idea because it allows features to be rolled out once they’re ready rather than meeting an arbitrary release date the downside is that Windows is a spaghetti code clusterfuck that is a kin to the family tree of the royal families of Europe.

If Windows was a clean layered design then it would be possible to upgrade things in a piecemeal fashion without being concerned that all hell was going to break loose but alas we’ve seen no attempt to fix the mess up before going down this road with the net resulting in an update followed by a flurry of updates in quick succession to address the numerous things that were broken along the way. What Microsoft really do need to do is basically do what they’re doing when it comes to Windows Nano Server and make it clear that things are going to be broken along the way and have a long term transition plan like how Apple did with the movement from ‘Mac OS Classic’ to ‘Mac OS X’ through the use of Classic, Carbon and Cocoa. What would the Window would be like: Virtualisation for exact backwards compatibility, a reformed/cleaned up Win32 for traditional applications that’ll require some tweaking and then UWP for modern applications going forward.

macOS 10.12.4 is at its sixth beta which is quite a record which makes many wonder whether the rumours of a hardware release, as noted on Mac Rumors, could be coming as early as next next week but keeping in mind that no invites have been sent out so I doubt they’ll spring on at the last minute. There has been a rumour that there will be an iPad even in April as reported on 9to5mac which sounds more plausible given that by that stage the new ‘space ship’ Apple headquarters would have been complete which might double as a big unveiling of a new vision for Apple going forward which includes a refreshed iPad and possible Mac product line.

iOS, tvOS and watchOS are all developing nicely with the transition to the APFS appearing to go smoothly with no evidence seen that they’ll be reversing course in terms of case sensitivity so don’t be surprised if we end up seeing as part of the 10.13 announcement a big declaration as to the importance of testing software on the new file system.

They hated Obama more than they cared about their own health

I was watching this Vox Media video regarding ObamaCare/Affordable Care Act in Whitley County (Kentucky) which heavily voted for Trump but keeping in mind that historically the county was a strong hold for Republican support even when it is against their own self interest as seen in the video below: 

Reading through the comment section there as a to and fro debate between multiple parties over the fact that this county had overwhelmingly supported Trump and that Trump was going to take away their healthcare yet people still voted for Trump anyway:

Feel sympathy for them. I do. Not all of us had the money or opportunity to go to college. You want to say they are just stupid? Then by the same lodgic you must say that those born handicapped are just born that way and shouldn’t be helped. We can’t exclude people because they lack education or smarts. Are their lives not as valuable as anyone else’s. Of course they are. Do they not deserve food and shelter and a decent standard of living? How can anyone demand equality for minority races, the handicapped, for different religions and leave out people because they weren’t born smart enough? They might have been misguided in voting for Trump but no one else was listening, no one else seemed to care. These people felt so forgotten that they took a chance, a long shot, but that’s the only odds they were given. Obama could have fixed a lot by not throwing it back to congress to improve Obamacare but to just sign one more executive order to help these desperately poor people that everyone seems to have forgotten.

The first thing that needs to be noted is the fact the county was heavily leaning Republican so in reality it is the age old joke of it being a place that you could put a wheel barrow up with a red rosette affixed to the aforementioned gardening utensil and the locals would still vote for them no matter how much they’re getting fucked over by the Republican Party. This isn’t solely and America phenomenon given that there are parts of New Zealand that are politically tribal – farmers who will keep voting National Party through thick and thin and parts of the urban centres that’ll keep voting Labour even when the fail to deliver over and over again. So at the end of the day I don’t think there was a dogs balls chance in hell of that county ever flipping the county from Republican to Democratic given how ingrained the idea of being Republican is to that particular area 

I’m sure someone will claim that “You want to say they are just stupid?” But the reality is that they are stupid because they never asked the follow question, “what do you mean, something great?” and as we’ve seen today it appears that Trump has admitted that maybe healthcare is a lot more complicated than getting up and making a blustering speech at the podium during one of his rallies. By the way, these people aren’t idiots – if I said to them, “buy this truck, it is great” do you really think they would turn around and just go and buy it? of course not! they would ask, “why do you say it is great” and then demand the specifications, whether it has any endorsements from professional organisations, along with other information relevant to the decision to buy or not to buy. So yes, these people do have the nous to make a big purchasing decision that they’ll have to live with for years but they weren’t smart enough to see through the slick sales tricks by Trump? Maybe the answer is simpler than may in the media try to make it out to be – that those who voted for Trump hated Obama (Hillary seen as the ‘heir’ to Obama’s legacy) more than they care about their own health. Then again, it isn’t the first time that hate has blinded people into making a stupid decision in life.

What happens when mainstream political parties fail

I look at the rise of the far right wing in Europe and around the world – particularly when one considers the rise of the ‘alt-right’ in the United States and how the media has decided to cover this along with how mainstream political parties have decided to response to an unorthodox rag tag group of conflicting alliances that are hell bent on ‘raging against the machine’. What has been frustrating is the mainstream media’s response particularly when the likes of CNN attempt to blame someone like Milo for ‘bringing it up on themselves’ when a group of mouth breathing morons go out to protest and riot – destroying public property all whilst claiming it is all done in the name of ‘freedom of speech’. Here is an interview with Milo after the riot at the UC Berkeley campus and sit there as you watch the video and reflect on how an ordinary person with little or no knowledge of political trends will interpret what took place:

What we see is the media, rather than reporting on the fact that there are violent rioters who consciously decided to violently riot, what ended up occurring is CNN playing the game of claiming that the rioters were ‘forced’ into behaving violently merely by virtue of Milo’s presence – that apparently these rioters have no self control over what they do, they’re just automatons that blindly react to stimuli and as a result they had no choice but to behave violently when Milo appeared. Really, is that the level of analysis that CNN is now engaging in where a speaker is now held responsible for the actions of some idiots who cannot exercise self control and protest peacefully? What is the term we call for such behaviour that CNN displayed? That’s right – victim blaming.

What makes the situation even worse is, as Milo notes, there were people who went along to the talk just to find out what all the hubbub was all about. Thanks to the violent protesters from the far left and the lack of any serious condemnation by the mainstream left for such behaviour by fellow travellers there is a high likelihood that those who were once on the fence are now a lot more open to what Milo has to say. The net result of the far left’s violent stupidity has been the pushing of people who would have otherwise been centrist to the right.

Back to the previous paragraph, what frustrates me about the reporting is the deliberate distortion because it reminds me of what I experienced down in Christchurch when I was interviewed by ‘The Press’ where, out of an hour conversation the author made the elaborate connection between me, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Chaney, Neo-Conservatism and the war in Iraq all on the basis that I have some criticism of Islam and I have read some Leo Strauss writings. Oh, and the best one was the claim that I supported polygamy because I believe marriage should be turned into a civil contract then I flippantly said if people wanted have multiple wives or multiple husband I wouldn’t care either way. Yeah, reminds me of what Hamza Yusuf said regarding the news – it isn’t until you hear about yourself in a newspaper when you realise how much of what is reported on is inaccurate or just flat out deliberate lies.

What angers me after all of what has happened with Trump and the rise of the alt- right that there has been no structured reply from the left or mainstream right in response to this other than to call people whom you disagree as being racist, xenophobic or that well quoted Clintonism ‘basket of deplorables’. The reason why the alt-right has risen is because of the chronic failure the mainstream right and the left to address their respective  sides failures. The left has turned into an autocratic movement hell bent on tarring and feathering anyone who dares say or do the wrong thing. Bill Maher on his own show encapsulated that wonderfully in a few of his more recent monologues:

White working class, and I’d say working class folks in general, look at the left and think, “why the fuck would I want to associate myself with them? They don’t see my issues as real, I’m mocked and ridiculed, and then I’m told to shut up when I want to voice an opinion that the coastal elite consider triggering and mansplaining”. They’ve moved the political discussion into the realm of ‘freaks and weirdos’ to the point that the important issues such as health, education, social welfare, infrastructure, national defence and so on are no longer discussed in any great detail but rather the political rallies revolve around feelings and vacuous statements that leave the audience knowing less than when they originally came in.

When Hillary Clinton said, “but we’re already great” – what is that telling the worker who just lost their job at the local coal mine or steel mill? A complete disconnection from the day to day reality that many Americans face was the message that she sent. When Hillary was harping on about how it was ‘her turn now’ sent the message that by virtue of being a women she should be given the job. Hillary also claimed not to be part of the establishment and yet had the WHOLE establishment apparatus behind her – from the head of the DNC through to pop culture icons and the media outlets willing to give her mountains of free coverage then how can one really claim to be anti-establishment?

The right on the other hand believe that they’ve got something that’ll keep them in power but they ignore the fact that most of what Trump talks about goes completely against Republican orthodoxy – he is against multilateral free-trade agreements but in the past Republicans were always for them, he has shown little or no concern regarding the size of the deficit and said in an interview that deficits don’t matter because we control our currency hence ‘we won’t end up like Greece’, and that doesn’t touch on the larger issue of Roe vs. Wade where the latest Supreme Court pick seems a lot more moderate than Antonin Scalia so at best if the religious right were looking for the ruling to be overturned then they’re going to be disappointed – expect nothing more than the status quo being upheld. So is the future of the Republican Party an ‘American first’ nationalist populist party with little regard for the kinds of conservative values that have sat at the heart of the establishment Republican world view? Are the Republican Party willing to throw ideology under the bus for the sake of holding onto power or will they quickly realise that power without the ability to actually change the country in the direction they want is ultimately just as bad as being in opposition.

The failure of the right and the left to address the concerns of ‘ordinary people’ in a meaningful way has resulted in the rise of Trump, Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen and so on because neither side offered a compelling set of solutions other than the same reheated ideas that have failed in the past plus the lack of candidates who could actually speak to the genuine concerns of the average working class Joe and Jane Sixpack who simply want a good job, a home, good school for the kids to go to, infrastructure that is reliable, a safety net in case the worse case scenario occurs and a superannuation/pension to support when they retire. The problem is that the party that is supposed to be advocating on behalf of Joe and Jane Sixpack has been off in left field with the social justice warriors and other cranks instead of actually advocating for ordinary people which has left an opening for Trump. The result has been that Trump has has come in and firstly communicated to Joe and Jane Sixpack that he understands and empathises with them (as seen in the speech at the RNC and the swearing in ceremony) and then secondly picks at a few key issues which all ties together the narrative that America is weak because of weak leadership which has resulted in out of control immigration (both legal and illegal) as well as shonky trade deals that don’t benefit the American worker – whether it is right or wrong, to the average Joe and Jane Sixpack they see someone who is decisive in identifying the problems without the layers of political correctness drizzled on top.

In conclusion, the election of Donald Trump has been the result of both the right and the left failing to the concerns of ordinary people seriously and the rise of charismatic populist leaders to tap into that unhappiness. For someone like me, who looks into the US political arena, I don’t expect the right to come up with a solution but I do expect the Democratic Party to at the very least be able to answer the grievances of the working class with more than just re-heated politically correct rhetoric and demonising those who don’t happen to 100% line with with every single social issue right off the bat. Bernie Sanders realised the need to build alliances when he walked into the ‘belly of the beast’ when he gave the presentation at Liberty University where he appealed across the isle to at least work on those common ground issues such as healthcare reform to provide a sustainable and affordable healthcare system for all. So whilst Hillary was patting herself on the back you had Bernie Sanders building the bridges just as he is building them today – in other words doing the hard yards rather than just turning up and hoping some buzzwords will get the folks out to vote. The net result? He lost the primary because too many Democrats convinced themselves that ‘Hillary was more electable’ but when you look at the polling regarding her against Trump you’d see that she was neck for neck with Trump where as Bernie Sanders was comfortably beating Trump even once you take into account the margin of error.

On a good side there is a movement developing that is addressing the short comings of the Democratic Party but it appears that the establishment aka ‘Third Way Democrats’ are fighting tooth and nail through it’s media backers. The big question is whether, rather than resorting to identity politics, the resurgence social democrats within the Democratic Party bring back the party to its working class roots. On the right there are also forces at work but it is less public such as the displeasure being voiced by Lindsey Graham and John McCain but the rumour has it that many of those who are unhappy are buying their time. The reason for this buying their time is when Trump fails and fails hard there won’t be the ability for Trump and his backers to claim that his presidency was sabotaged. If the Trump presidency fails the last thing those on the right want his Trump claiming a conspiracy occurred against him and that his ideas were perfect if it weren’t for the rebellious senators/congressmen so instead many are standing back and allowing the train wreck to occur and then when it does occur that collective sanity is restored. It reminds me of Al Franken where he said that ‘impeachment is months and months and months away’, the fact that he didn’t outright reject the proposition tells me that for any sort of impeachment to occur it would require the co-operation of Republican members as well so it appears that Trump’s detractors are buying their time – a game of chess where one has to think 2-3 or 4 move ahead.

All in all I’m hoping for the best but I’m preparing for the worst because ultimately it requires American’s taking ownership of the problem and dealing with it because unfortunately if it isn’t dealt with then the rest of the world have to deal with the fall out.

Inconsistent Republicans: One rule for Democrats but another set of rules for Republicans

I always find it funny how when Sean Spicer tells the public service to do their jobs:

They didn’t take the same position when Kim Davis threw a temper tantrum in the name of ‘taking a moral stance’ and the Republican Party couldn’t help but rally around her as if she was some sort of modern day martyr sticking up for ‘traditional values’ and ‘morality’.

Then there is the firing of acting US Attorney General Yates for following the constitution. Funny how the Trump supports were screaming about how Obama was an ‘imperial presidency’ and how he ‘trampled over the constitution’ yet as soon as Trump appears in the Whitehouse all that concern about the constitution suddenly disappears because ‘our guy is there’ is a lot more important than what he is actually going to do now that he is in the hot seat.

Building on from that there was the screaming and howling by the Trump supporters along with the ‘tea baggers’ whining about Obama’s overuse of executive action all whilst ignoring the fact that Obama has issued fewer executive orders than previous presidents! Just to drive the point home further – where is the protest over Trump and his ‘executive overreach’ and ‘bypassing congress’ and ‘imperial presidency’? Is it only of a great concern when the other guy does it but when your guy does it then the ends justify the means so therefore he can do what ever he likes because he is on your team?

Side Note: I’ve uploaded a podcast today so check it out on the left hand side of the page under the title “THE MATISYAHU SHOW” if you want an eclectic mixture of politics, philosophy and technology.

Another week, another podcast

I’ve uploaded a new podcast outlining what I think will occur under Trump and the relationship he’ll have with Russia/Putin going forward. I’m under no illusion regarding Russia/Putin or Trump but what I do cover is what could happen based on the assumption that each party is guided by some sort of rational self interest aka ‘whats in it for me’ to explain their behaviour.

I’m currently working on an article that debunks the claims regarding the iPhone and AppStore – specifically the fact that to get applications on your phone you need to use the AppStore.

There has been another build for the 10.12.3 update which seems to be taking a good amount of time to get done so it makes me wonder whether we’ve got developers jumping between macOS 10.12 and 10.13 so that it is all ready by the time WWDC rolls around in June for the unveiling. When it comes to 10.13 it’ll be interesting to see what is announced now that the iOS and macOS teams have now merged – hopefully it’ll mean a harmonisation of frameworks so when one platform moves forward that all platforms end up benefiting from the improvements rather than having to wait for it to be ported across.