Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Lightning Posts 7/5/17: Declaration of Independence, Earnings Gender Gap in the Trump Administration and Sex Robots.

1.  You may have read how the National Public Radio (NPR) tweeted the Declaration of Independence yesterday, and how some on Twitter thought that NPR was tweeting criticism about Donald Trump (and not about George III)  and calling for a revolution now (rather than then).  Fun and games followed, by Trump supporters.

Despite my personal enjoyment of such misinterpretations, it's always good to remember that a handful of voices on Twitter is just that:  A handful.  Whether that handful stands for thousands, for tens of thousands or just a handful is something that can't be determined from the actual number of angry tweets.  Neither should we generalize those tweeters to all people who voted for Trump, however fun that would be. --  As you may have noticed, I detest the false generalizations* fashion which never seems to get old.

2.  The gender gap in earnings in the Trump administration is larger than in any since 2003.  That is a feature and not a bug and a central part of the Alt Right platform which Trump stands on.

3.  This is a fun lesson in the use of numbers for political purposes.  It has to do with a proposal to raise the Illinois income tax.  Here's one statement about the events:

llinois lawmakers are one crucial step away from ending the record state budget impasse following a flurry of activity on Independence Day that saw the Senate override Gov. Bruce Rauner's vetoes of a tax hike and spending plan.
The measures now await action in the House, where 15 Republicans broke ranks with the governor over the weekend to approve the budget package and stave off further destruction to universities, social services and possibly the state's credit rating.


Rauner did not appear in public Tuesday and has not taken journalists' questions for weeks. He announced his veto via Facebook.
"I just vetoed Speaker Madigan's 32% permanent income tax (rate) increase,'" the governor said on his Facebook page, with an accompanying image showing him using his veto stamp on a large pile of paperwork.
Bolds are mine.  Another statement:

The Illinois Senate overrode the governor's veto of a new budget package on Tuesday, bringing the state closer to resolving the crisis it's currently in.

The Senate had approved several bills on Tuesday morning but they were promptly vetoed by Governor Bruce Rauner.
After overriding the vetoes, the bills now return to the House where lawmakers will also need to override them.
On Sunday, the budget package passed in the Illinois House with bipartisan support.
The package includes an increase to the state's individual income tax rate from 3.75% to 4.95%. It would also increase the rate for corporations to 7%, up from 5.25%.

Bolds are mine, again.

Both statements are correct, as far as I know.  But note how they elicit very different feelings.  A 32% increase in the income tax sounds gigantic, while an increase in the rate from 3.75% to 4.95% does not, especially when we learn that the rate used to be 5% as recently as 2014.

4.  This story about sex robots begins in an extremely odd manner.  The sex robots are treated both as gender-less and as female:

Sex robots have the potential to provide a valuable service for people who are elderly, disabled or who find intercourse traumatic, but they also carry ethical risks, experts say.


The authors behind the Foundation for Responsible Robotics’ (FRR) report, published on Wednesday, believe they could herald a “revolution” in sex, helping people who would otherwise find it hard to have intimate relationships.

But they also raise concerns that sex robots could increase the objectification of women, alter perceptions of consent and be used to satisfy desires that would otherwise be illegal.

The first two paragraphs I have quoted treat sex robots as gender-less, while the third one assumes that they will be assigned a pretend female sex.  If that was not the case, concerns about the objectification of women would not crop up.  Objectification of humans, yes, but not objectification of women.

Thus, despite the nod to women's needs the article includes,  it looks like the sex robots are really intended for elderly or disabled men or men who would otherwise find intimate relationships difficult.


*  An example from the other side of the political aisle would be blaming all Muslims for any terror event.