David French of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America discuss Harvard’s decision to rescind the admittance of Kyle Kashuv, a Parkland shooting survivor and conservative, for controversial past statements. They analyze the general misinformation and public ignorance about Medicare-for-All. And for today’s crazy martini, they discuss O.J. Simpson joining the Twittersphere.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Trump Plans to Live-Tweet Dem Debates

 

Trump’s favorite bully pulpit is his iPhone and he’s ready to pound it for the first primary debates of his Democratic opponents. From the Wall Street Journal:

The president, who has spent years embracing social media for his political advantage, is tentatively planning to live-tweet the debates on June 26-27, according to people familiar with the planning.

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America praise Texas Governor Greg Abbott for a series of conservative legislative victories. They also react as YouTube admits it is suppressing what it deems “borderline” content. And in a double crazy martini, they discuss Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (literally) running from Republican competition while reportedly entertaining a future primary challenge to either Sen. Chuck Schumer or Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

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Member Post

 

The Women’s World Cup is back in action… now with robots! Well, not really. But the players do commonly wear GPS trackers and heart rate monitors. “Manage Player Outputs”, the SPT device ad says. If algorithms don’t already analyze patterns of player activity, stay tuned.  More

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Member Post

 

Does anybody remember switchgrass? For roughly fifteen minutes roughly fifteen years ago, it was A Thing. And when the history of the 21st century is written, it will have Things. In such a history, switchgrass will be a footnote. On one page there will be something like “Very shortly before wealthy nations decided that (1) […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. I Cut the Cord

 

After threatening to do so for the better part of a year, I finally cut the cord yesterday. I mostly held on this long because of sports. With the exception of a few programs I watch with the girlfriend, or in some cases drink scotch and tolerate, all I watch is sports. I had an irrational fear that I would miss coverage of The Masters, US Open, or football. I should also mention my dog Norman watches The Golf Channel all day while I am at work. So I spent numerous mornings researching and became convinced Hulu Live was the right mix.

Still, I did not make the move. I decided I would downgrade to basic cable first — incrementalism people! I logged into my cable account where I was promptly asked if I wanted to upgrade with HBO. I then looked for how to change my services — it was nowhere to be found. They were ready and willing with a “team member” available to chat if I wanted to upgrade. So, I clicked yes, assuming if they could add services they could also take services away. Wrong. “That is not my department.”

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This week my guest is the person who deserves to be known as the Robert Caro of energy history—Robert L. Bradley Jr. Rob is the founder of the Institute for Energy Research, one of the best go-to sources for information and analysis about energy (and especially debunking the nonsense energy romanticism of the left), but most important for our purposes is the author of several astounding histories of the energy industry in America. His latest book is Enron Ascending: The Forgotten Years, 1984-1996. Rob had a front row seat to the meteoric rise and ultimate collapse of Enron as director of public policy analysis and senior adviser to Enron’s CEO, Ken Lay.

Enron Ascending is the third volume of a four-volume series (the final volume will be about the last years and ultimate collapse of Enron in 2001) that has an important common theme—political capitalism, which might be thought of as something like “crony capitalism,” though Rob is more precise than that. Far from being a market failure of capitalism, the Enron story is what Rob calls “contra capitalism,” and warns that we have more Enrons in our future if we attempt the “Green New Deal.”

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Judge Koh Is No 5G Wiz

 

Judge Lucy Koh of the Northern District of California gave the Federal Trade Commission an enormous victory this past week in its antitrust lawsuit against Qualcomm. Her conclusion was that “Qualcomm’s licensing practices have strangled competition” in key markets to the detriment of rivals, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), and consumers.

Her solution was a stern edict that at a minimum forces Qualcomm to abandon its “no-license, no chip” policy in three key ways. First, as that label suggests, Qualcomm may no longer sell its chips only to parties who have already obtained a license—perfectly proper under patent law—to use chips that contain Qualcomm’s patented technology. Second, Qualcomm must renegotiate all of its contracts worldwide to make sure that it only charges “fair and reasonable rates” for all of its technology and chipsets, including now required sales to its direct competitors in the 5G market. Third, the order prohibits Qualcomm from entering into “any express or de facto exclusive dealing relationships” with its customers. As the Wall Street Journal wrote, Judge Koh’s “Qualcomm coup” effectively “kneecaps” the major American player in the 5G market.

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The era of free lunches is over, at least in the tech industry. For decades Big Tech has relied on exponential growth in computing power to compensate for deficiencies in everything from management practices to programmer training. But no longer. The end of Moore’s law (the observation that transistor density tended to double every two […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Why America’s Social Media Firms Aren’t ‘Parasites’

 

It’s hard to be a big tech company these days without somebody rooting for your demise. But some cases are a bit more understandable than others. Like this one: “Bannon says killing Huawei more important than trade deal with China.” I mean, I get it. Former Trump White House adviser and nationalist Steve Bannon wants America to launch and win a Tech Cold War against China. Taking an ax to what might be its most important tech company, a key player in the global 5G rollout, might be a big step forward in such a plan.

But it’s not Americans wanting to shut down just Chinese tech companies. Sometimes it’s Americans going after American firms. “Maybe we’d be better off if Facebook disappeared,” writes Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, in an op-ed for USA Today. And his problem isn’t just with the social media giant run by Mark Zuckerberg. According to Hawley, Twitter and Instagram, though oddly not YouTube, are also “best understood as a parasite on productive investment, on meaningful relationships, on a healthy society,” He claims they’ve created an “addiction economy” based on extracting and selling data gleaned from uninformed users. The first sentence of the piece: “Social media consumers are getting wise to the joke that when the product is free, they’re the ones being sold.”

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. How Is This Tech Cold War with China Supposed to Work, Exactly?

 

Let’s assume the Trump White House blacklisting of Huawei in effect marks the beginning of a full-fledged Tech Cold War between America and China, complete with a Digital Iron Curtain. The full metaphor. How then does the conflict end in an American victory? And what does that even look like? Have the tech cold warriors, both within the White House and externally, given serious thought to any of this?

We know how the more comprehensive Cold War 1.0 concluded, with the dissolution of the Soviet Empire in 1991. It was a collapse that some predicted was inevitable. But at the time many others thought the scenario so unlikely as to be unworthy of speculation. The whole idea of 1970s detente was based on the perceived durability of the USSR. And this view held nearly to the very end. For example: The 1984 film “2010: The Year We Make Contact” was a sequel to the 1968 Stanley Kubrick-directed film “2001: A Space Odyssey” and concerns a joint US-USSR deep space mission.

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Jim is back! Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America get a kick out of New Yorkers bluntly rejecting Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 2020 presidential bid but it does give Greg an idea of how to thin the 24-candidate field. They also applaud Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai for giving AT&T, Verizon and other carriers more latitude to block the robocalls flooding our cell phones. And they have a lot of fun with PETA’s ridiculous denunciation of former President Jimmy Carter of speciesism and a human-supremacist worldview because he likes to go turkey hunting.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

I’m sorry, but this is a “get off my lawn” vent. I’m sick and tired of reading a one paragraph news story followed by a dozens of tweets implying “this is what people are thinking”. No, it’s not. There was already a news article out there about a poll that said how 80% of all […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Should We Tax Facebook and Google So They Change Their Business Models?

 

Paul Romer.
Is Big Tech today as dangerous as Big Money a decade ago? Economist and Nobel laureate Paul Romer seems to think there are disturbing similarities. In a New York Times op-ed, Romer advocates taxing revenue from the sales of targeted digital ads to check the size and power of “dominate digital platforms,” specifically Facebook and Google. “Our digital platforms may not be too big to fail,” he writes. “But they are too big to trust.” Romer’s policy goal is to nudge these companies away from the original sin of advertising-driven business models, and Romer sees a Pigovian tax as a more efficient way to reduce their size and influence than antitrust or regulation. He doesn’t like targeted ads, nor the financial power they generate.

Romer’s approach toward Big Tech might sound familiar to anyone who followed the post-Financial Crisis debate about Wall Street and “too big to fail.” Among the policy options for taming the megabanks and de-risking their business models were regulation, antitrust, or higher capital requirements. That last one, advocates argued, was the most efficient and market-friendly way of making failure less likely, potentially serving as a de facto tax on bigness, or even spurring a self-initiated breakup.

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One of the biggest debates ongoing within the right involves the regulation of Big Tech companies, namely Twitter, FaceBook, and Google. Briefly, the populists are on one side. They believe that American tech companies should follow free speech principles despite being private companies. Opposing them are the free marketeers, who also disagree with what these […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Home Automation, 1990s Style

 

It is a truism that the cobbler’s children have no shoes, the carpenter’s house has a leaky roof, and none of the plumber’s own toilets flush properly. I would add to that: An electrical engineer’s home wiring is a mysterious network none other should touch. My best friend is an engineer (mechanical, so his cars are always in need of repair), and has described all engineers as inherently lazy and misdirected. “You see” he likes to start, “Engineers hate doing any work, even simple work, and so they spend their life’s energies devoted to finding ways to avoid it, even if the quest for said ways takes far longer, and requires more blood, sweat, and tears than just doing the job in the first place.” When you turn loose such an engineer on a house and its wiring, you begin an adventure in electrical mystery, complete with enough random strobing lights, and lights that mysteriously turn on or off, to put the Winchester Mansion to shame. Electrical engineers can do far more than any mere eldritch forces.

Enter my father. Long before the current home automation push, with Nest Thermostats and WiFi lightbulbs and every tech company having a mic in every room to spy on you, and a speaker to flatter you about said spying, my father had the notion that a computer controlled and networked house was a sure-fire winner, and to demonstrate this he decided that our house would be the guinea pig. And why not? It was getting remodeled and expanded, and that made for the perfect opportunity to put in the network wire and junction boxes all over. It sounded good in theory, and moreover he already had the experience in creating the first smart and computerized electrical systems in vocational trucks (the term you hear today is “Multiplexed”), reducing the miles and miles of point-to-point wiring, mechanical switching, relay banks, stacks of relay logic, and all the days of labor associated with wiring up a truck. All of that was reduced to a single smart panel, entirely solid state, and that was in the late 1980s. By the early 90s, he was ready to apply those concepts to a house.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The FTC Unfriends Facebook

 

While Facebook thrives in the marketplace, the company is under siege by angry critics both inside and outside of government over privacy issues. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) claims that Facebook violated its 2011 privacy consent decree and may impose a fine on the company of up to $5 billion. The FTC alleges that Facebook did not do enough to protect user data from being improperly exploited by Cambridge Analytica, which used that data to supply strategy advice to the Trump campaign.

In one sense, the fine is the least of Facebook’s worries; other initiatives are in development to alter the way the company does business. With her usual lack of caution, Senator Elizabeth Warren has called for the breakup of Facebook, Amazon, and Google on the ground that their allegedly monopolistic practices tend to squash smaller upstarts, leading to what she laments as a rapid decline in competition and innovation across an industry that has been defined by fierce competition and high levels of innovation. Warren doubled down on her position by recently unveiling a new bill imposing criminal liability—including jail time—on corporate executives for simple negligence in carrying out their manifold duties.

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David French of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America have a strong difference of opinion about Tiger Woods, but both are impressed by the comeback Woods pulled off to recover from debilitating injuries and win a fifth Masters green jacket. They also enjoy watching House Speaker Nancy Pelosi try to downplay how socialists and socialists policies are surging among Democrats but David warns conservatives not to pop too much popcorn as they watch. And David explains why we may have hit “peak stupid” on Twitter as the left tries to pretend Ilhan Omar’s comments were something other than a flippant diminishing of 9/11 and that any criticism of her comments amounts to incitement.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day – Dare to Fail Greatly

 

Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly. – Robert F. Kennedy

Yes, the man who said this is Bobby Kennedy, a man disliked by the right and who should be distrusted by the left. (Robert Kennedy worked for Joe McCarthy and at the time apparently liked the work.) But when someone is right about something, pay attention, perhaps especially if you dislike the person.

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