Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Milton Friedman Was Right on Corporate Guidance, and "Woke" CEOs Ignore Him at Shareholders Peril It is the fiduciary responsibility of the directors to protect such assets…and maybe even the entire free market system, too. by Jon L. Pritchett and Ed Tiryakian

The Business Roundtable, an association that counts among its members the CEOs of some of the largest public companies in America, announced this week a fundamental change in its new definition of the purpose of a corporation.
Mainstream media genuflected. Milton Friedman rolled over in his grave.
The Nobel prize-winning economist and best-selling author helped to create the predominant view that the purpose of a corporation, particularly a large, publicly-traded one, is to increase its profits. To quote Friedman:
There is one and only one social responsibility of business – to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.
In fact, the overriding tenet of corporate finance, present in every college textbook, states that the role of the finance manager is to increase shareholder value.
Not according to this enlightened group. By their progressive definition, a corporation is not to independently pursue profit, but rather, pursue profit congruous with social good.
It’s as if the pursuit of profit is somehow immoral, the aim of increasing shareholder value doesn’t require the care of customers, employees, and suppliers, and our free market system hasn’t produced more prosperity for more people than any other economic system in the history of humankind.
So who decides the definition of social responsibility? What metrics determine if C Suite execs have achieved annual goals? Profits be damned, we reduced our carbon footprint by 2 percent, we saved four polar bears, and we made the world a better place for our kids by .0002 percent last year.
We can only imagine the squishy, subjective claims of success these modern CEOs will announce.
In his monumental essay in The New York Times on September 13, 1970, Friedman said,
The discussions of the "social responsibilities of business" are notable for their analytical looseness and lack of rigor.
There is also the distinct possibility that the CEOs who endorsed this modern corporate “manifesto,” which includes 181 of the 188 members of the Business Roundtable, were trying to appease the current wave of progressive political voices.
Or a less cynical view might be that it was an attempt to seek relief or approval from the activist investors who constantly agitate public companies through shareholder meeting protests and the like. Both groups have grown more and more hostile to capitalism. If the latter is true, corporate groupthink is worse than we thought. You know what they say: if you give a mouse a cookie, he’ll soon want a glass of milk.
We have seen this experiment into corporate social activism—let’s just call it what it is—with devastating effects on corporate reputation and shareholder value. Starbucks under Schultz, Target Corp., Dick’s Sporting Goods, IBM, Disney’s ESPN, Kellogg’s, etc. The results have been a punishing lesson about mixing non-corporate ideas with P&L statements almost immediately remedied upon backtracking their social initiatives.
In his essay, Freidman’s words were prescient.
This short-sightedness is exemplified in speeches by businessmen on social responsibility. This may gain them kudos in the short run. But it helps to strengthen the already too prevalent view that the pursuit of profits is wicked and immoral and must be curbed and controlled by external forces. Once this view is adopted, the external forces that curb the market will not be the social consciences, however highly developed, of the pontificating executives; it will be the iron fist of government bureaucrats.
Abandoning a 50-year-old view on the purpose of a corporation also undermines the belief in markets themselves. On this issue, Professor Friedman offered this dire warning:
[T]he doctrine of "social responsibility" involves the acceptance of the socialist view that political mechanisms, not market mechanisms, are the appropriate way to determine the allocation of scarce resources to alternative uses.
A simple review of the 20th century should convince us all that’s not a road we want to travel.
Thankfully, a handful of leaders has rebuked the Business Roundtable. The Council of Institutional Investors was one such group. “There’s no mechanism of accountability to anyone else,” said Ken Bertsch, the council’s leader. “This is CEOs who like to be in control and don’t like to be subject to the market demands."
In The Wall Street Journal, Michael Bordo, a Rutgers University economics professor and former student of Dr. Friedman, said the Business Roundtable’s new stance would have corporate executives behave like regulators. “That’s not what business is; that’s what government is,” he said. “I still think Friedman was right.”
It is the fiduciary responsibility of the directors to protect such assets… and maybe even the entire free market system, too.

However, there is one voice conspicuously absent in the dissent. Where are the independent board members? After all, the CEOs are employees who work at the direction of directors and shareholders.
The resources these CEOs propose to spend in the pursuit of social good are not their own. Those resources are capital invested by shareholders; not by the growing category of “stakeholders” these modern CEOs seem so intent on pleasing.
It is the fiduciary responsibility of the directors to protect such assets… and maybe even the entire free market system, too.

This Giant AI Chip Is the Size of an iPad and Holds 1.2 Trillion Transistors

This Giant AI Chip Is the Size of an iPad and Holds 1.2 Trillion Transistors: Made by startup Cerebras, the Wafer Scale Engine (WSE) features 1.2 trillion transistors, 400,000 cores, and 18 gigabytes of on-chip memory.

Mobilinkd APRS

VA Harm Reduction Totalitarians Force Islamic Terrorist Inspired Sharia on American Veterans BY BABATIM

For Eighteen years the American military has fought the Taliban, al Qaeda, and ISIS from the Hindu Kush to the Philippines Seas and most lands in between. The one common denominator between those Jihadi scum is their view on smoking cigarets. They are militantly anti-smoking, as in cut off your fingers for smoking, anti-smoking. One of the first things people do when they see Americans rolling into villages after thumping ISIS or al Qaeda or whoever, is to light up and enjoy the right to ‘smoke them if they got them’.
I was told repeatedly as a young officer that there are no atheists in the foxholes, and went on to observe there are no non-smokers there either. The closer you are to fighting infantry the more uniform their behavior regarding smoking becomes.
This is is with great mixed emotions I make the following announcement: On 1 October, at every Veterans Administration Facility in America, all smoking and smoking related products will be banned. The ban will include parking lots and facility grounds and will be enforced by the VA police who issue tickets on behalf of the Federal Court. Try dodging one of those and the Men in Black show up to shoot your dog and yoke you up for smoking a cigaret.
As a local VSO (veteran service officer) I frequent VA facilities throughout the Rio Grande Valley. I see the occasional smoker in the designated smoking areas and have never seen anyone smoking in a non-designated area. This new directive is addressing a problem that is not evident, and using the iron fist of Federal law enforcement to isolate, alienate, and eventually incarcerate the most vulnerable in the veteran population.
Most veterans, like most people, understand that smoking is no longer popular or considered acceptable behavior in public places. Most will comply with posted signs prohibiting smoking. Those who ignore those signs and refuse to refrain from smoking on private property have a problem, but it is not tobacco addiction. They have other issues and the last thing they need is a federal police officer in their face issuing them a 300 dollar fine they cannot afford to pay because they felt like having a smoke.
Somehow I’ve ended up being the co-chair of the local VA system Management Advisory Council, and I have been doing it long enough for the members to anticipate my reaction to a policy like this. They were hesitant to bring it up, when they did everybody in the room looked at me.  I was smiling, trying hard not to laugh out loud, struggling to regain what passes as composure for me these days.
Eighteen years….. was how I started, and rejecting the temptation to  describe my minor contributions in reducing the number of Islamic Harm Reduction Totalitarians during delightful sojourns in Afghanistan and Iraq I focused on the point.
That point is this new rule has nothing to do with smoking. It is an obvious attempt to force compliance on a small segment of the population that the mandarins running the VA find deplorable. I used deplorable on purpose too just in case anyone was slow on the uptake.
The VA maintained that their concern is exclusively veteran health which is why, in addition to throwing the full weight of federal law upon the head of hapless Vets, they now offer smoking cessation classes,  5-days a week.  Having declared a smoking jihad the VA decided that Vets can even bring their spouses to smoking cessation class where they can participate for free.
If smoking cessation classes actually worked that would be a fair point, but they do not work, and that is a long-known inconvenient fact.  Being rather pedantic on the “fact-stuff” I pointed out there is a drug with over 80% success at treating life-long smokers with just one application. Some of the VA folks knew where I was going and hung their heads because that drug is psilocybin. Here is an abstract from an NIH study conducted at John Hopkins in 2014 telling you all about it.
The number one health problem facing veterans (and non-vets) in the Rio Grande Valley is morbid obesity and the resulting problems of diabetes and hypertension. If there were a way to magically remove the excess lipids in every human within 100 meters of our meeting we could have  (in theory)  built one hell of an elephant with which to remind people reality has a vote in the affairs of humans.
The signature injury of the current war is low testosterone in the men who fought it. Is the VA doing anything about that? No, of course not;  in America  cutting edge therapy that address hormone imbalances, addiction, PTSD, Insomnia, chronic orthopedic problems, and Traumatic Brain Injuries are only available to the wealthy and connected. You can listen to hours of discussions about new innovative treatments for those problems on the Joe Rogan podcast. But to access the treatments you need to make Joe Rogan money.
Harm Reduction Totalitarians are annoying, joyless, pale creatures who could be dangerous in countries with a feminized culture and unarmed citizenry. Here Harm Reduction Totalitarians remain a source of amusement because they are crazy people. What are you supposed to do when a 350 pound bald man tells you that smoking will ruin the quality of your life? If your answer is to laugh I’m warning you right now that is a bad move. Fat shaming is as bad as dead naming and you wouldn’t call Bruce Jenner, Bruce would you? Actually his son did say that in an interview and even he caught social media shit for it, but that’s not the point.
The point is it is time to make a stand for freedom. I know how to do that too so in support of the millions of muslims liberated from anti smoking tyranny by the American armed forces I’m going to start smoking. All the right people hate it so it must be the right thing to do.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

WB8ELK-5 Pico Balloon Launch at Huntsville Hamfest 2019

DIY Survival Salt Water Solar Desalinator (Fits in Backpack!)

Satellite Station 4.0 Part 9 – Upgraded Simple Portable Station AUGUST 20, 2019 BY FKEMMERER

We were up on Mt. Washington here in New Hampshire this past weekend and we decided to use the SOTA activation as a test for our updated Portable Satellite Station 4.0. It turned out that the station was also a great SOTA and Grid Square Activation station for terrestrial contacts.
An upgraded Portable Satellite Station has been part of our 4.0 Satellite Evolution plan from the start. The goals for the station included:
  • Support for FM and Linear Satellite Contacts
  • Computer Control to handle Doppler Shift
  • A simple, easy to deploy portable antenna system for 2m and 70cm
  • Full-Featured 100w/75w Transceiver with External Preamps for good weak-signal performance
  • Quite, Green Power using Solar Energy and Batteries

Station Components

Our upgraded portable station uses the following components:

Portable Antenna System

Elk Antenna on Tripod
We decided to keep our antenna system simple and quick to deploy. We choose a portable 2m/70cm antenna from Elk and mounted it on a camera tripod. A carpenter’s slope gauge is used as an elevation indicator and our iPhone serves as a compass to point the antenna in the azimuth direction. A weighted bag, Bungie cord, and a tent stake anchor the tripod in the windy conditions on the mountain. A 15 ft length of LMR-240uF coax with N-connectors make the connection between the antenna and the rest of the station.

Station Transceiver and Supporting Gear

Portable Station Transceiver and Preamps
We decided to mount the station Transceiver and supporting gear on a piece of plywood to make it easy to transport and setup. The components from lower-right moving counter-clockwise include:
The preamps are powered and sequenced by the IC-910H through its coax outputs. The 70cm side of the second diplexer is used as a filter to prevent transmissions on 2m uplinks from de-sensitizing 70cm downlink signals.
Portable Station Electronics
The use of the mounting board for all of the components allows the station to deployed quickly and helps to ensure reliable operation.
We used a MacBook Air Laptop running MacDoppler to control the transceiver’s VFOs (via a USB CI-V cable). MacDoppler also provided azimuth and elevation data used to point the antenna during satellite passes.

Portable Power

Portable Solar-Battery Power System
Powering a 100w radio in a way that allows continuous use for a day can be a challenge. It’s important to do this in a way that that does not generate noise so we do not disturb others trying to enjoy the outdoors. We met all of these needs using a combination of solar power and batteries.
Portable Solar Power
The primary source of power comes from a pair of 90w foldable solar panels from PowerFilm. The panels are wired in series and connected to an MPPT Charger which charges a pair of batteries. This approach allows the system to provide usable power when it is cloudy and the voltage output of the solar panels drops.
We use a pair of A123 10 Ah LiPo battery packs to supply high-current capacity when transmitting. The solar-battery combination is capable of maintaining full battery voltage while supporting the continuous operation of our station for a full day.
The MacBook Air Laptop batteries are adequate to operate the station during the available satellite passes. We have a 12V DC to 120 VAC inverter which can power the computer from our solar battery setup if needed.

Station Performance

View from Mt. Washington Summit
Our portable station did very well during its initial test! I had to move the antennas and operate the station by myself on this activation which limited my ability to make a large number of contacts during the limited number of satellite passes that were available. Still, I was able to make 6 solid contacts through AO-91 and AO-85 while on Mt. Washington. I did not have a suitable linear satellite pass to make contacts but I was able to hear the EO-88 beacon with no problems and confirm that the doppler correction system was working well.
The station also put in a great performance visa-vie 2m terrestrial contacts. We made a total of 70 contacts using 2m FM and USB! We received many good signal reports with our longest contacts being some 275 mi from our location. We also worked stations on four other SOTAs this way.

Learnings and Next Steps

Our station exceeded my expectations during our initial test on Mt. Washington – especially in terms of the number of Terrestial Contacts that I was able to make with it. I did notice that the transmit side of the system was quite a bit stronger than the receive side. This is an indication that a better antenna would help.
We changed the antenna polarization to vertical for 2m FM contacts and to horizontal for 2m USB contacts. This helped the receive side performance quite a bit.
I found that a headset was essential for satellite and terrestrial weak-signal operation in USB mode. I was able to use the hand microphone and the radio’s speaker for most of the 2m FM contacts that I made. This gave interested onlookers a chance to experience Amateur Radio.
Satellite operation would have been much easier and more productive with a helper to handle pointing the antenna while we operated. This improvement will need to be coupled with a headset/speaker combination that allows the person pointing the antenna to hear the quality of the downlink while moving the antenna and finding the best polarization.
I am looking forward to doing some grid-square activations using our upgraded portable station. It was a pleasant surprise to find as much interest in Terrestial contacts on the 2m band as we did. The Nashua Area Radio Society does several SOTA activations each year and I am looking forward to using that station for these as well.
Here are links to some additional posts about our Satellite Station 4.0 Projects:
Fred, AB1OC

Promise of a Solar Storm & Satellite Environment Check-In | Space Weathe...

Joe Bonamassa - Cradle Rock - Live at Beacon Theater

This Mystery YouTuber Will Teach You More about the Soviet Union Than Your Professors The English YouTuber Bald and Bankrupt, using a small GoPro and smartphone, provides millions of viewers with an in-depth look at Eastern Europe. by Bill Wirtz

Your teachers gave you the boring dates and names of long-dead politicians, and all you know about communism is that your conservative uncle uses it to describe every policy he doesn't like. However, there is an English YouTuber who will open your eyes to the reality of the impact the Soviet Union had on many places in Europe.
As YouTube gradually replaced television, its original appeal was in how amateurish it felt and looked. People who barely knew how to hold a camera were uploading footage that seemed as though it had been recorded with a potato. Following the popularity of Casey Neistat, vlogs have been professionalized to include wide-angle shots, multiple cameras, drone footage, and staged scenes such as walking toward the camera. This is not me going after these new vloggers, particularly as Neistat's knowledge of videography is part of the reason he attracts a certain audience.
Bald and Bankrupt hasn't adopted this method. The English YouTuber works with a small GoPro on a handle or uses his smartphone to film his adventures. Most of his content is filmed in Eastern Europe, particularly in the former Soviet republic or countries occupied by the Soviet Union. His aim is to show the lives of real locals, away from the tourist spots and Starbucks coffee. His exploits in the middle of nowhere are peculiar yet captivating. With as little as a bottle of vodka and the spontaneity of talking to villagers, Ben (known as Bald) meets very eccentric characters and makes an abandoned village seem more interesting than the downtown areas of large metropolitan cities.
Ben, who has never revealed his real name, first started vlogging from India. According to a website created by fans, the vlogger filed for bankruptcy in the UK due to a failed business venture, giving the name to his channel. Ever since he ventured into Eastern Europe, the attention to his videos has seen an upward drift, and he’s now closing in on one million subscribers, totaling almost 95 million total views.
Ben's vlogs reveal more than just adventurous trips to poor countries; his videos speak for themselves rather than narrate history. He allows the locals to tell their stories—even if it surfaces after a bottle of vodka—and abandoned buildings and secret military facilities compel viewers to connect the dots.
What was the Soviet Union, and how is it possible that decades after its fall, the countries affected by its terror are still in such bad shape?
Your modern-day Stalinist college friend is likely to tell you that if it hadn't been for Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany may very well have won the war and subjected all of Europe to the rule of its brutal regime. This is arguably correct and the reason why, even at Western European universities (the Free University of Brussels, for instance), the brutal tyrant and leader of the Soviet forces is given an honorary title. Just as other historical figures need asterisks next to their names, Stalin requires a very large one.
Hitler and Stalin signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, or the Treaty of Non-aggression, in August of 1939. The two powers divided up the countries between the Third Reich and the Soviet Union, most importantly Poland. The latter was invaded by both the Wehrmacht and the Red Army, which celebrated their respective victories with a jointly held parade in September of 1939, known as the German–Soviet military parade in Brest-Litovsk.
The war crimes of the Soviets involved targeting unarmed civilians, bayoneting children, and burning people alive.

What followed wasn't a cooperative act of terror. While Nazi Germany plundered and terrorized the people of Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Hungary, the Soviets spread their inhumane reign over countries such as Finland, Belarus, Ukraine, and the Baltic states.
Estonia lost a fifth of its population to the horror of Soviet annexation, followed by mass deportations (including those of Jews) and executions, resulting in five times the number of deaths as under the later Nazi rule. The war crimes of the Soviets involved targeting unarmed civilians, bayoneting children, and burning people alive, as described in the book War in the Woods by former Estonian Prime Minister Mart Laar.
The atrocities in Estonia could not rival the mass executions without trial within Soviet Russia, the pogroms aimed at Jews, the shooting of refugees trying to escape East Germany, or, most harrowing of all, the Holdomor in Ukraine. The term “Holdomor” describes the mass starvation of more than five million Ukrainians through an artificially created famine ordered by Stalin. Today, should you take a long train ride in Ukraine and wonder why so much of the land is uninhabited, know that it's because consecutive communist and Nazi occupation killed an unimaginable number of people.
Bald and Bankrupt is not a political channel. The YouTuber has found an ingenious way of making uneventful places look exciting. He provides millions of viewers with an in-depth look at Eastern Europe and dispels the myth that they are cold-hearted people. His videos include trips to Moldova, Georgia, Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine.
Inadvertently, however, he has also shown us that the people in these countries aren’t only hospitable but also that they were and are victims. Complete economic and social control, mass deportations, and mass surveillance damaged the social fabric significantly. The Soviet Union broke the entrepreneurial spirit, and the last young people who haven't learned English and departed for the West are left with corrupt politicians seeking to withdraw the last cents that are left.
We also know that some countries have not tried to improve in any significant way since the end of communism and have instead fallen victim to systemic and epidemic corruption. As some wealthy individuals, often politicians, benefited from the privatizations of the 1990s, the system has become more than just crony: it's downright oligarchical in places such as Moldova.
During one video entitled "Nobody Visits This Country...Find Out Why," filmed in Chișinău, the capital of Moldova, Ben explains some of his perspective:
When you visit things like this [points at an abandoned observatory], you can understand why the old people that I meet here, who remember the time under Soviet Union... that those people say it was better then. That they'd like to return to the Soviet Union. Despite the crimes of Stalin and Lenin and... all the terrible things that were done to the people under the Soviet system.
When watching Ben's videos, as light-spirited as they are, we need to understand what we're looking at. Destroyed and empty sanatoriums, dancing halls, hotels, roads, and factories bear witness to an economic system that was never going to work, and its perpetual defenders need to realize that it destroys not only the pretended bourgeoisie but all people alike.
It is, in essence, like the Berlin Wall. Today you can (and should) lean against it, take pictures in front of it, and spray your most creative graffiti on it, not least because that is what people did in West Germany prior to the fall of the Wall. As we enjoy laughter and friendship with people whose countries were affected by the communist terror, we also mustn’t forget their hardship.