Wretchard (@wretchardthecat) asked an interesting question on Twitter Wednesday, and the implications from the question are being carefully ignored by the Progressive-Democratic Party Presidential candidates who want to forgive all—or most—student debt.

Forgiving student debt sends the signal that educational investment is worthless because it cannot return the rate of the money borrowed to finance it. That may actually be true but then what is the value of the credential?

Read the whole thread, it’s pithy and concise, as are the comments ensuing.

In Which the 9th Gets One Right

Facebook’s use of the output of its facial recognition software—imagery of individuals’ faces—without those individuals’ prior permission can be contested in court, according to the Ninth Circuit.  Facebook had demurred when the case was brought.

On Thursday, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected Facebook’s efforts to dismiss the ongoing class-action lawsuit, which could potentially require the company to pay billions in compensation.
The lawsuit dates back to 2015 when three Facebook users living in the state [Illinois] claimed the tech giant had violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, which requires companies to obtain consent when collecting their biometric information.

Better is the Enemy of Good Enough

In the aftermath of Boeing’s failure with its 737MAX, the FAA—and foreign jurisdictions—are on the verge of entering that larger failure regime.

As Boeing Co and safety regulators push to complete long-awaited fixes for 737 MAX jets, testing has expanded to cover increasingly unlikely emergencies including potential computer failures pinpointed by overseas authorities, according to US government officials briefed on the details.
The broader risk analyses and simulator scenarios, some details of which haven’t been reported before, show the lengths to which leaders of the Federal Aviation Administration, in coordination with their foreign counterparts, are going to verify the safety of the MAX fleet before allowing the planes to fly again.

A Dysfunctional Racist

No, that’s not a redundancy—not in this case.

Via Shannon Davis, @shannondd76:

Yeah—this is one thing that Donald J Trump has been a miserable failure at.


Iran, as I write this (Monday), has rejected efforts to defuse the situation in the Arabian Gulf, a situation it has created with its piracy of and extended threats toward oil shipping in the Gulf and transiting the Strait of Hormuz.  Indeed, in response to a planned British redeployment of a couple of small combat ships to the Gulf to add to the protection of British tankers, Iran had this:

But Mr [Ali, Iranian government spokesman] Rabie warned Sunday that a European military deployment in the Gulf would be viewed as an escalation of the crisis. “Such moves under the current conditions are provocative,” he said, according to IRNA.

A Foolish Question

In a piece about British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new Brexit architect Dominic Cummings, a question was raised that’s central to the next three months of Great Britain’s future and perhaps to its future’s subsequent years.

The question now is whether he [Cummings] will steer the Johnson government toward swallowing a compromise divorce deal with the EU or prepare it to quit with no deal at all.

This is a foolish question. Not only are they not mutually exclusive, they must be done in parallel—or rather the better question must be done in parallel with the no-deal: steering the matter toward a better compromise from the EU.


Great Britain, early in this latest stage, might finally have a Prime Minister who’s serious about Brexit because he’s committed to it in his soul, unlike the Remainer Theresa May (whom I think made a good faith effort, but because her heart wasn’t in it, she couldn’t perform).

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson laid out a hard-line negotiating stance with the European Union, setting the stage for fraught Brexit talks before the UK’s scheduled departure from the bloc on Oct 31.

Among other things,

One More Reason

…to be clear and overt in our support for the Republic of China.

We sailed a guided missile cruiser through the international waters of the Taiwan Strait last Wednesday, and the People’s Republic of China objected.  Then it threatened.

China said it would take all necessary military measures to defeat “separatists” in Taiwan.

This comes, also, after the PRC threatened military action against the people of Hong Kong because they’ve been uppity enough to insist that the PRC honor its commitment to Hong Kong’s (semi-)autonomy IAW its handover agreement with Great Britain.

Sanctions on Turkey?

That’s the question being asked regarding Turkey’s decision to buy—and subsequently to take delivery on—Russia’s AS-400 anti-aircraft missile system and the impact that has, or should have, on our alliance with Turkey.

The question, though, assumes we have an alliance. Formally, one exists, but it’s in name only outside of NATO (and with Turkey cozying up to Russia, that one is in flux, too); Turkey has chosen functionally to walk away from any bilateral arrangement.

I think, though, the decision to cancel Turkey’s F-35 buy is sufficient. We don’t need to apply sanctions; we don’t need to have much of anything to do with Turkey, good or bad, outside our NATO obligations.

Much Ado

…is being made about the People’s Republic of China’s slowing economic growth rate.

The Chinese economy has suffered a loss of momentum in the second quarter, with the GDP falling to 6.2% from a 6.4% expansion in the first three months of the year, figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics showed on Monday.

This is the slowest growth rate in 27 years, goes the alarm.  That’s supposed to apply pressure to the PRC to start negotiating seriously with the US on trade.  In truth, it does add some pressure, but it’s necessary to keep in mind a couple of other things, too.