Category Democracy

When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal

And it’s not a Trump quote

President Donald Trump has shown disdain for due process and democracy since his election. More like a dictator than a democratically elected and accountable public servant, he has tried to ride roughshod over anybody and anything that gets in his way, whether that relates to his political agenda or his own personal business agenda. And in the opinions of many people, he has already performed several impeachable activities.

During his short tenure, he has shocked people multiple times.

And his recent comment that he has an “absolute right” to share with Russia “facts pertaining to terrorism and flight safety” might lead readers to suspect that President Trump is the source of the title of this post. But he is not.

In fact the source is another president that courted substantial controversy. Namely, Read more

Word of the year 2016

Nothing to do with the ice caps

It’s that time of the year when various bodies such as the American Dialect Society and Global Language Monitor nominate the word of the year (WOTY).

Not to be outdone, at VoxSapiens we would like to nominate our word of the year.

Our thinking is along the lines of the Oxford English Dictionary’s nomination of post-truth and dictionary.com’s nomination of xenophobia. We see Brexit, Trumpquake and woke, all contenders for WOTY, as key arenas for use of both the OED’s nomination and ours.

But we see the issue as more than post-truth. We see a fundamental change in the world developing.

For that reason, we nominate Read more

Donald Trump ate my hamster

And Freddie Starr beat Max Clifford to win the US Presidency

So the unimaginable did happen. The Donald came from behind and now he is President-elect.

Trump’s unexpected triumph intersects perfectly with the recent spate of false news stories garnering higher positions in search engine results than genuine news stores. I say this because many of the false news stories are related to Trump. Indeed, some people believe that they are major contributors to his triumph, even, perhaps, the “edge” that he needed to pip Hillary to the post.

This disconcerting trend has even evoked comments from the current US president, Barack Obama, who has denounced the spate of misinformation across social media platforms but without getting drawn into the specific cases of stories related to the presidential election. (One might compare this statesmanlike approach to Trump’s cries of “foul” even before the polls were tallied.)

Whilst fake election stories are the current vogue, the fake news phenomenon extends much further into may other realms. For example: Read more

Are polling companies in crisis?

Major wrong call yet again

Once again the polling companies have got it wrong. And not just slightly wrong, but very wrong.

This time they predicted a Hillary Clinton win. Even 24 hours before the polls they predicted that Hillary would win.

Just a few months ago they predicted a “Remain” win in the Brexit poll.

Last year, there performance would deserve an “F” for the UK general elections. None of the 92 polls accurately predicted the 7% lead the Conservatives would actually achieve and a majority predicted a Labour victory.

% gap between Conservative and LabourAll pollsConservative leadsLabour leads
Total923342
017
1321517
222715
31037
4752
511
6321

In 2013, the pollsters were wrong with the British Columbia provincial elections.

Why do the pollsters repeatedly get it so wrong? Why don’t they learn?

Well, Read more

Could the Brexit shock be out-Trumped?

Could The Donald deliver a second surprise?

Very few people really expected the Brexit vote to end as it did. Even the Leave campaigners were preparing speeches to thank their street campaigners when they had to perform an about-turn and make the winning speeches. Even the online petition (now with over 4 million signatures) for another vote was initiated by a Leave campaigner who expected to lose the referendum.

Similarly everybody expects that the US presidential election is Hillary’s to lose. That Donald Trump, considered by many as almost a joke contender, couldn’t win. He couldn’t, could he? Could he?

Well the recent news may suggest that the second unbelievable national poll result may become a reality.

Read more

Financial regulation and the loss of sovereignty

A global phenomenon, nothing to do with Brexit

Right now in South Africa, President Zuma is being urged to refuse to sign the new Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment Act.

This act is part of ongoing global tightening of controls to reduce/eliminate money laundering and combat the financing of terrorism. There is plenty of freely available documentation to describe the aims – for example from the IMF and from the World Bank.

So these regulations are centrally imposed by global non-government organizations. Just like the Kyoto Protocol and the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child, right?

Err ….. no. These regulations are different because Read more

British hypocrisy

Not so Nice

On the day of the terrorist attack in Nice, Fatima Manji was scheduled to present the evening news on Britain’s Channel 4. The newsreader roster had been prepared 10 days earlier.

As one might surmise from the name, Fatima is Muslim. So was the terrorist.

Purely coincidental one might assume; but Fatima’s faith prompted an outburst by Kelvin MacKenzie.

Read more

Heading for Brexit?

Hold on, it may never happen

So on Thursday 23 June 2016 a majority of British voters chose the Brexit option. This unexpected result has caused major ripples across the globe.

The next step is for the UK prime minister to invoke Article 50, following which two years of negotiations take place and then Britain (or, more accurately, the United Kingdom – see the box below) leaves the EU unless there is unanimous agreement amongst the remaining states to extend exit negotiations.

Read more

Google breakup? Now Europe gets it wrong

On the Internet four years behind USA as usual

Now the European Parliament has weighed into the battle, four years behind the US Consumer Watchdog, calling for a resolution that Google be broken up.

See this NYTimes blog article, for example.

This is going over old ground … very old ground.

We discussed it here.

Four and a half years later our opinion is Read more

Emigration Tax

Is the Finance Ministry becoming Hotel California?

You can check out any time you want but you can never leave. So sang The Eagles in 1970. Here at Vox Sapiens we suspect that country residence could begin to resemble living at Hotel California. There may come a time when you will be unable to leave the country without paying your share of the public debt.

Let us explain a bit more about the state of public finances before returning to the pay-as-you-leave hypothesis …

Read more

The Internet Age Emperor’s New Clothes

A Bit of a long shot

The BitCoin bubble is in full swing. But this bubble started a lot longer ago than most commentators report, and is much bigger than most commentators report.

The main reason is that most commentators give credence to BitCoin, and treat it like a respectable currency. Even laying aside the Silk Road connections, here at Vox Sapiens we have no confidence in BitCoin (or in its cousins such as LiteCoin and NameCoin). Here’s why. Read more

Driving bankers’ bonuses off the front page

That’s what government funds are for

Rumors today suggest that GM and Chrysler will award their employees with bonuses of up to 50% of base pay.

The VoxSapiens team assumes that bankers are breathing a sigh of relief at this news. Read more

Paybox.me is not a competitor for Paypal

Beware this one.

This blog is not usually concerned with warning people about websites that show similarities with scams. But this post breaks with tradition because the website in question has been mentioned in the comments to a previous post: Google breakup? Wrong target again.

In that post I discussed why Paypal was far more dangerous than Google, with respect to consumer choice and other monopolistic matters.

Earlier today “Al” commented that Paybox (http://www.paybox.me/r/signuppage) was emerging as a potential competitor to Paypal.

I don’t think this is the case. For several reasons I think that the business is a l-o-n-g way from competing with Paypal. Read more

The end of Open Source ?

The GPL debate will run and run

Over the last few days a debate has flared up over the GPL (the GNU General Public License). Specifically, the debate relates to the refusal of DIYThemes to release its WordPress Thesis theme under the GPL.

The details of the debate encapsulate a major nerdfest, with legal and technical nerds crawling out of their boxes and greeting the world. But beyond this, the debate has much wider implications.

In fact, at Vox Sapiens we wonder whether this debate will be seen as the tipping point that identifies the crest of the Open Source wave. We think that, maybe, the strength of the Open Source movement will wane from this moment because Read more

Lawyers and the real world again

Why can’t they see the bigger picture?

So Microsoft (presumably on the advice of lawyers) used the DCMA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) to force Cryptome.org’s hosting provider, Network Solutions, to close down the website and keep a lock on the domain name to prevent the site being relocated. Then a day later the complaint was rescinded, allowing the site to be restored.

This was a bad thing to do? Why?

OK, where should I start? Read more

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