Outrun Change

We need to learn quickly to keep up with the massive change around us so we don't get run over. We need to outrun change.

Archive for the category “Pondering”

Ethical failures by NCAA and UNC Chapel Hill. Illustration of the phrase ‘auditing with your eyes closed.’

UNC Chapel Hill – “Midnight Old Well” by is licensed under CC BY 2.0

As mentioned in previous post, articles keep popping up on the systemic academic fraud at UNC Chapel Hill. Trying to hold my posts to under a thousand words each means there need to be multiple updates.

  • Reporter says the UNC scheme was widely  known
  • UNC grad, class of ’92, explains the reason UNC claimed as legitimate classes they previously confessed were fraudulent. Also says this fiasco shows him the UNC leadership chose money over honor.

10/13/17 – Duke Basketball Report at SB Nation – A Pitiful Victory – Article goes over a long list of warning signs of systemic cheating and fraud at UNC. After most of the points, the writer makes some comment along the lines of they knew, or we knew, meaning there was common knowledge of cheating.

Apparently there was a massive scandal at UNC back in the ‘60s and the school made a strong commitment to play clean. Article shows that commitment to integrity only lasted until somewhere around 1990.

Author says the rest of the ACC, and maybe everyone in college sports, should be upset with the lying and cheating. I agree. The NCAA isn’t able to find anything in the rule book to say academic and athletic fraud is actually punishable. (Next article says they removed from their rulebook the rule that said academic fraud is punishable.)

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More on the UNC fiasco and the FBI’s recruiting investigation

bell tower” by zach_mullen is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

I was planning to wait a while before talking some more about the UNC academic/athletic fiasco and the NCAA’s toothlessness, but articles just keep popping up that grab my attention:

  • UNC gave opposite stories to its accrediting agency and the NCAA
  • One of the head coaches implicated in the major FBI investigation was fired

10/20/17 – The News & Observer – How UNC changed its story-and lost its voice in college sports – Apparently UNC had a reputation of ethical behavior in its athletic programs before the current systemic academic & athletic fraud developed.  That reputation is now gone.

The current administration addressed the academic fraud with the accrediting agency and accepted responsibility. An internal investigation concluded the purpose of the fake courses was to keep athletes academically eligible for participation. The University drew a one year academic probation.

Article provides quotes saying that the University accepted responsibility, identified the courses as wrongdoing, admitting the courses were frauds, acknowledging the scheme was running for a long time, and agreed that more than two people were involved.

And then came the NCAA investigation…

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The last pieces of democracy slip away in Venezuela

The Venezuelan government has made its choice. Will that choice stand? Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The elections in Venezuela were stacked.

Oh, by the way, what economic system produced this human suffering? What political system produced this all-but-in-name dictatorship?

  • Hints of the fraud before the election.
  • In spite of polling and expectations, a mere 5 opposition candidates won a governorship.
  • Oh, the few in the opposition who won are denied their position; initial reports said that government hacks were sworn into office instead.
  • Four of the five opposition governors actually sworn in.

10/15/17 – Wall Street Journal – Venezuela’s Latest Election Fraud – More details on how the election results were cooked. Reporter describes more details on manipulation.

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Why is it necessary to have a nuclear defense?

After reading my post on Nuclear launch protocol and timing, you may be wondering why the United States built these,

Minuteman II on static display at March Air Base Museum. Photo by James Ulvog.

and why we built 550, 450, and 50 of these,

Minuteman II, Minuteman III, Peacekeaper ICBMs on display at Warren AFB. “Ywwrn_1b” by gvgoebel is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

as well as why we had 1,000 of these spread across the country for several decades:

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Venezuela continues to collapse

Oil platform in Venezuela. A view of what used to be and could have been now. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The bad news from Venezuela just doesn’t stop:

  • Protests have stopped because of lost hope
  • Professionals become prostitutes just to get enough food to keep the family life
  • Elections for state governors finally to be held on Sunday
  • Former executive of Brazilian construction company admits to paying $35 million to Venezuelan president’s election campaign
  • Guess on inflation rate for 2018 is over 2,300%

8/31/17 – Wall Street Journal – “Hope Is Gone” as Venezuelan Protesters Vanish From Streets – The protests have faded away. The ongoing massive arrests, torture of detainees, widespread human-rights abuses, and frequent shootings seem to have broken the protest movement. A number of senior leaders of the opposition have fled the country in fear for their life. Reports indicate 125 people have been killed and somewhere around 2000 have been wounded, with many of those people with permanent injuries.

One outside observer, who is safe because he is an American living in the United States, observers the president has gained effective control of the entire government. I think if we look at the typical definitions that makes him a dictator.

In the meantime the oppressed people of the country continue to scramble for food, trying to find enough so they don’t starve to death.

9/22/17 – Miami Herald – In Venezuela, they were teachers and doctors. To buy food, they became prostitutes. – A large portion of the prostitutes in Columbia are women who escaped Venezuela. Before transitioning to the world’s oldest profession, many of them were teachers, doctors, professional women. One brothel even has a petroleum engineer.

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UNC Chapel Hill evades any sanctions from NCAA for academic and athletic fraud scheme that ran for 18 years.

UNC Chapel Hill bell tower. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The NCAA announced it will not impose sanctions on UNC Chapel Hill men’s and women’s basketball program for a systemic academic fraud that offered about 200 different “paper courses” over a two decade timeframe.

The NCAA acknowledges that from 1989 through 2011 around 6,000 students were in those courses. The NCAA acknowledges for these courses minimal attendance was required, faculty helped with papers, and the grading was quite loose.  An internal investigation found 3,100 students took a paper course during a specific 9 year timeframe, with somewhere around half of those enrolled being student athletes.

The reason UNC walks?

Non-athletes participated in the paper courses.

Since the known and admitted fraudulent courses weren’t used to benefit only athletes, the NCAA concluded the scheme does not violate their rules.

Seriously.

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More news on SpaceX

Echostar 105/SES-11 Mission” by SpaceX is in the public domain (CC0 1.0)

One article pondering how the planned super-heavy lift rocket from SpaceX will open up space travel like the DC-3 did for air travel. The third reuse of a Falcon 9 booster and the 18th recovery of a booster.  Also, three articles on SpaceX’s plans for Mars colonization:

In a major speech, Mr. Musk revealed the revised plans for SpaceX’s journey to Mars. The revision I see is a slightly scaled-down interplanetary spacecraft which can be multipurposed for lunar activity, resupplying ISS, or any other mission requiring heavy lift.

The vehicle will have 31 engines instead of the 47 planned a year ago. It will still lift 150 tons into low earth orbit.

Key concepts will be reusability of lift vehicles and in-orbit refueling to get vehicles ready for the interplanetary trip. Concept will be capsules can land vertically and will be able to take off without crew input.

Interplanetary capsule will be designed to have 100 person capacity and will have areas on board for entertainment.

The first trips to Mars could be in 2022 or more likely delayed until 2024. That is only 5 or 7 years from now.

Outlines of the Mars colonization plan are in line with what I’ve read before.

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Rapid economic growth of the American colonies before the revolution.

Take a look at how rapidly the colonies developed over the many years in advance of the successful American revolution. Comments are from An Empire of Wealth: The Epic History of American Economic Power by John Steel Gordon.

One part that is astounding to me is certain geographies were very conducive to a certain type of crop. That is why tobacco, or corn, or cotton, or fishing for cod thrived in certain areas.

Consider: export of tobacco from Virginia to England:

  • 1618 – 20,000#
  • 1622 – 60,000#
  • 1627 – 500,000 #
  • 1629 – 1,500,000#
  • 1638 – 3,000,000#

let’s look at the annual increase and compound rate of growth:

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More news on the emerging state-legal-federal-illegal marijuana industry.

8/30/17 – Wall Street Journal- Buzz Kill for Pot Farmers: Lower Prices – Estimates are the increasingly legal cannabis business has industry wide revenue of somewhere around $6B of sales a year compared to the tobacco industry with $119B annual sales.

According to companies who track such things, the prices for legal marijuana have been dropping.

A retail company in Seattle offers the pricing of one specific brand as an indicator. It is currently going for $10 a gram now compared to $15 a gram two years ago (9/15), which is a one-third drop.

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The story on Silk Road, an on-line drug bazaar, shows the power of rationalization and self-deception

Cover of “American Kingpin” from Amazon. Used under fair use.

The sad tale of Ross Ulbricht and his on-line drug bazaar called Silk Road is a good study of the outer limits of how far rationalization can carry a person.

It is also a frightening illustration of Jeremiah 17:9. From the New International Version, ponder:

The heart is deceitful above all thing and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

Considering the tale of Silk Road is useful for accountants wanting to learn about the outer fringe of the internet and he investigative power of the federal government, believers who would like an illustration of the frightening level of deceit that lives in the human heart, and anyone else wanting to learn more about the dark worlds that normal people will never see.

My posts are gathered into two collections:

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Final thoughts on the tale of Silk Road. Part 9.

Cover of “American Kingpin” from Amazon. Used under fair use.

This is the 9th and final part of a discussion of Silk Road, as discussed in American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road, written by Nick Bilton. For the longer story, you may enjoy reading parts one, two, three, four, five, sixseven, and eight.

Other thoughts on the book

If you have previously been following the Silk Road story, you will enjoy the book. It reads like a good detective novel, except it is all true.

The book describes the mutual low opinion held of other federal agencies by the staff of most of the federal agencies that had a part in the investigation. This is not the first time I’ve read of those attitudes or heard of poor cooperation across agencies.

Lack of technical discussion

A couple of the reviews at Amazon indicate there is minimal technical detail in the book. That is absolutely the case.

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The Silk Road perps. Where are they now? Part 8.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

This is part 8 of a discussion of Silk Road, as described in American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road, written by Nick Bilton. To learn how these three individuals earned an extended stay in federal housing, you may enjoy reading parts one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven.

Current status:

In good ol’ Dragnet style, where are bad guys now?

Here is the info from the federal Bureau of Prisons website:

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It didn’t end well for two of the feds investigating Silk Road. The tale of Silk Road, part 7.

The wages of corruption. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Two of the feds working on the Silk Road investigation went rogue. That did not turn out well for them.

This is part 7 of a discussion of Silk Road, as described in, American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road, written by Nick Bilton. Check out parts one, two, three, four, five and six, if you wish. (Cross-post from my other blog, Nonprofit Update.)

Since the book was written, there have been more developments. I stumbled across the additional info after drafting this series of posts.

Let’s take a look at how things turned out for the two crooked federal agents.

What did the two feds do and what did they get for their trouble?

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Where did one guy wind up by making moral decisions with no moral frame of reference other than himself? The tale of Silk Road, part 6.

Mr. Ulbrecht’s housing for the rest of his life (plus the next 40 years). Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

How far did he go?

So as a result of running the drug bazaar called Silk Road, where did Ross Ulbricht wind up with his efforts to forcibly legalize drugs and simultaneously remove God from His throne and take over the throne for himself?

What did he get for his efforts? The feds claim he had tens of millions of dollars in his personal accounts.

(This is part 6 of a discussion of Silk Road, as described in, American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road, written by Nick Bilton. Check out parts one, two, three, four and five, if you wish.)

He ran a web site at which he knowingly sold to anyone who could pay:

  • pot,
  • coke,
  • heroin,
  • many varieties of synthetic drugs,
  • equipment & supplies to manufacture drugs,
  • automatic weapons,
  • grenades,
  • rocket launchers,
  • body parts, including but not limited to:
  • livers,
  • kidneys,
  • bone marrow,
  • deadly poisons,
  • counterfeit identification,
  • counterfeit currency,
  • keystroke loggers,
  • spoofing software,
  • sundry hacking tools, and
  • fake passports.

He also contracted for and paid for what he thought was the murder of five people who offended him.

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The power of rationalization when you have no frame of reference other than your own opinion. The tale of Silk Road, part 5.

According to ‘Dread Pirate Roberts’, his ordering the execution of a renegade employee is morally the same as the U.S. President ordering one of the above wartime launches. Illustration courtesy of Adobe Stock.

This is the second of two posts describing the frightening power of rationalization on display in the story of Ross Ulbricht, also known as Dread Pirate Roberts, as he developed the Silk Road website where you could buy anything you wanted. The story is told in American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road, written by Nick Bilton. This is the fifth post in a series. You may enjoy reading parts one, two, and three.

You might want to read part four before diving into this wrap-up of the rationalization discussion.

How can body organs be okay?

Shall we extend this discussion into body organs?

I suppose there might be some way for informed consent to be given in a situation where a body organ is extracted and sold on the Dark Web. I can’t get my brain around it, but I suppose there might be some possible way to do so that would be consistent with libertarian concepts.

I have a real problem with thinking that organ providers in China gave informed consent.

Maybe I’m missing the boat or maybe just can’t stretch my brain far enough, but I don’t see how libertarian concepts can be used to justify the sale of either hand grenades, rocket launchers, or livers & kidneys. That seems to be a rationalization to do what you otherwise feel like doing.

There is even more rationalization in play.

How do beatings and torture fit in?

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