The biggest crime in America: unregulated capitalism

Our priorities are all screwed up. The wrong people are in jail.

In dollar terms, what group of Americans steals the most from their fellow citizens each year?

The answer might surprise you: It’s employers, many of whom are committing what’s known as wage theft. It’s not just about underpaying workers. They’re not paying workers what they’re legally owed for the labor they put in.

It takes different forms: not paying workers the federal, state, or local minimum wage; not paying them overtime; or just monkeying around with job titles to avoid regulations.

No one knows exactly how big a problem wage theft is, but in 2012 federal and state agencies recovered $933 million for victims of wage theft. By comparison, all the property taken in all the robberies of all types in 2012, solved or unsolved, amounted to a little under $341 million.

One of the nice things about stealing that much money is that you can buy off people to cover your criminality. Also, we have these ideological fanatics — Libertarians and Republicans and Conservatives — who will leap to the defense of the Invisible Hand’s right to pick pockets.

Friday Cephalopod: This Pokemon Go stuff is getting out of hand

I mean, really. This team of ‘scientists’ hijacked a valuable research submersible, strapped their gadget to it, and sent it cruising to a depth of 900 meters in the Pacific Ocean just to catch this goofy-looking purple thing.

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Listen to these people…buncha giggly teenagers.

I’m a bit annoyed that they went to all this trouble to find it, and then they apparently were all out of pokeballs.

It’s actually a movie prophesying our future under Trump

We’re getting yet another dumb-as-dirt Christian movie: Torchbearer. It’s made by Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s brand new campaign advisor, and it ‘stars’ Phil Robertson, the Talibanesque asshole who is best known for selling duck calls and appearing in a reality TV show. How bad is it? You may not want to watch the trailer.

Firstly, it visually and emotionally assaults the viewer by lingering on gruesome images of violence and death, using reenactments and animation as well as the most graphic historical footage from Auschwitz and more recent images of victims of ISIS and Boko Haram being beaten, shot and burned to death. I would call the movie’s infliction of trauma gratuitous, but it seems a very purposeful act meant to provoke and inflame and generate a rage to war.

This is what this country has come to. And it’s so stupid: Robertson is an ignorant nobody, they’ve just concatenated a collection of horrible, unrelated images, and claimed that only being as fanatical about your fanatical Christianity as this fanatic will save you from those other fanatics. Meanwhile, they obliviously show prolonged scenes of Catholic and Lutheran Nazis committing atrocities under the rule of the Catholic Hitler, while blaming their actions on atheists.

I disapprove

Statues of a naked Donald Trump have appeared in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Seattle, and New York City. I don’t understand why.

They are intended to demean and belittle the guy, I understand that. But does anyone think they’ll be effective? At all? Does anyone think they’re even the slightest bit accurate? Caricature should have a substantive point of some sort — political cartoons, for instance, will exaggerate features to make the subject instantly recognizable, but then the idea is that the caricature is doing something, saying something to illustrate an idea. These statues are just standing there inert, looking unpleasant. It’s content-free mockery.

I have to switch it around. If a statue of a naked Hillary Clinton were erected somewhere, would anyone find it to be a cogent argument?

I’ve personally been the subject of a lot of this sort of thing: I’m regularly sent photoshops, or scrawled, poorly done cartoons, that simply illustrate me as short, fat, and ugly. I don’t see the purpose; if the creators think it stings, I actually do know exactly what I look like, and mainly what I see is that they had to work to make me look uglier, and that what’s most ugly are the minds of the people who think these kinds of garbage portrayals are persuasive or in any way potent.

Wonderful news about our criminal justice system

NO MORE PRIVATE PRISONS.

The Department of Justice will stop contracting with private prisons, the department announced Thursday morning. The decision comes a week after the DOJ inspector general released a damning report on the safety, security, and oversight of private prisons, which incarcerate 12 percent of federal inmates.

Now if we could just end the drug “war” and demilitarize the police…

The ugly id of billionaires

You called me a mean name. You banned me. You don’t like me. You don’t love me.

It’s striking how often the bitter complaints of unwarrantedly rich fucks like Peter Thiel are little more than the plaintive whines of a neglected toddler…a toddler with gobs of money and lawyers who want to appease him with vindictiveness.

Peter Thiel, I don’t love you, I don’t like you, and my vocabulary is too feeble to come up with the mean name you deserve. You’re a petty, nasty, poisonous little man, lacking in the strength and confidence to cope with dissent in any way other than by flailing about with lawsuits. May your every drink, no matter how costly, taste of gall, and your fine meals be flavored with wormwood; may your silk sheets have the texture of slime. I hope you live a long life of fruitless floundering for love, and some distant day die alone, attended only by a calculating battery of lawyers.

Theory

I sure wish more people understood the meaning of theory in science, but at least Piers Sellers does a good job of explaining the concept. I try to hammer into my students (as my teachers hammered into me) the primacy of evidence — observation and measurement — but evidence always has to be for or against something, and that something is theory. You can’t have a theory without evidence, and you can’t have evidence without a theory to give it meaning. So I’m always happy to see another explanation of this core concept of science.

Fundamentally, a theory in science is not just a whim or an opinion; it is a logical construct of how we think something works, generally agreed upon by scientists and always in agreement with the available observations. A good example is Isaac Newton’s theory of gravitation, which says that every physical object in the universe exerts a gravity force field around itself, with the strength of that field depending on its mass. The theory—one simple equation—does a superb job of explaining our observations of how planets orbit around the sun, and was more than good enough to make the calculations we needed to send spacecraft to the moon and elsewhere. Einstein improved on Newton’s theory when it comes to large-scale astronomical phenomena, but, for everyday engineering use, Newton’s physics works perfectly well, even though it is more than three hundred years old.

One danger of the public misunderstanding of this idea is that they do equate theory and opinion; they tear down successful theories with rhetoric and ignorance, and they also elevate nonsense by labeling it, without comprehension, a theory. And I could piss in the snow and call it a book, too.

But theories are abstract, after all, so it’s easy for people to get tricked into thinking that because something is based on theory, it could very likely be wrong or is debatable in the same way that a social issue is debatable. This is incorrect. Almost all the accepted theories that we use in the physical and biological sciences are not open to different interpretations depending on someone’s opinion, internal beliefs, gut feelings, or lobbying. In the science world, two and two make four. To change or modify a theory, as Einstein’s theories modified Newton’s, takes tremendous effort and a huge weight of experimental evidence.

This is something that should be explained to everyone visiting Answers in Genesis and their horrible dishonest “museum” and “ark park”. The central argument Ken Ham always makes is a demolition of the whole concept of theory — he claims that any alternative explanation, no matter how much it ignores the evidence, is a theory, and all theories are equal, and therefore, his bizarre, highly subjective and ideologically driven interpretation of the words of his holy book are just as much deserving of the title of “theory” as the hard-earned, constantly tested, well-supported by evidence theory of evolution.

And that’s dangerous. Ken Ham uses the degradation of theory to peddle nonsense to the rubes and make money and promote his narrow religion, but as the article explains, it’s also being used to corrupt decision-making about climate that endangers every human being on the planet.

Heroes

The Lakota and Dakota are fighting another battle in which they are the underdogs: North Dakota oil interests are building a pipeline across the state, right near the Standing Rock reservation and their water supply, the Missouri, Mississippi, and Big Sioux rivers.

You know, oil pipelines leak, right?

So look at these amazing photos of the current standoff.

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The police keep standing on the wrong side of every fight, don’t they?