A Revised View of Sterling-Silver and the NBA

I am revising my view of the Donald Sterling story. I now believe that the NBA, through its Commissioner, Adam Silver, acted properly in banning Sterling from all Clipper activities. Blunt force was necessary and Sterling had to go immediately. The end game is yet to be played, but the NBA will play it out well. My earlier comment, below, was based on my normal, cautious approach to such matters. I now believe that allowing Sterling to survive in any role would have been a collosal error and I retract that comment.
Yesterday’s post follows.
Donald Sterling is owner, still, of the LA Clippers of the NBA and has been such for over 20 years. Adam Silver has been Commissioner of the NBA for a few months. Mr. Sterling made some horribly racially insensitive remarks to his girl friend who is half a century younger that he is. The comments were terrible, but it seems he was speaking in private and both being goaded on by her and goading her in return. It didn’t turn out well. Nevertheless, he deserved to be sanctioned, fined, suspended or otherwise punished by the league.  

Adam Silver is a new Commissioner. He acted by banning Mr. Sterling from attending games, practices and etc. for life. Mr. Sterling still owns the team, by the way. So, how does he own without participating. We’ll find out. 

I seems  that Mr. Sterling had few friends within the NBA and may be paying for accumulated grievances. His words were lamentable, but he is an owner and owners are to be treated with some discretion. I think a more seasoned Commissioner would have acted with some restraint, at least stopping short of a death penalty. The important factor here is that he is given no room to redeem himself, and by redeeming himself, redeeming the league. That is very important. Now the league is left with the redemption burden and it would have been easier if Sterling had to do it. The league will now be subject to huge pressure to make peace and that will be very expensive. It would have been easier if Sterling had to bear that burden. 

This gets to the accumulated grievances and friends points I made, Both are true. I don’t know what happened and what pressure Silver was subjected to, or whether anyone came to Sterling’s aid. Then, again, the workings of a sports league in camera are byzantine and I can only guess at the discussions that took place.

The Truth About Variability in Income Distribution

THE “RICH” ARE EVERYWHERE-From Powerlineblog.com
When Scott and I wrote “The Truth About Income Inequality,” one of the highlights of our pre-
internet career, we emphasized the remarkable degree of income mobility that has long
characterized the American economy. The rich man and the poor man, we argued, are largely
the same man in different stages of life. In recent years, some have tried to show that income
mobility has lessened, but longitudinal studies don’t support that claim. Greg Mankiw ,
chairman of Harvard’s Department of Economics, links to an article in–surprisingly–the New
York Times that contains some stunning data:
Thomas A. Hirschl of Cornell and I [Mark Rank of Wash U] looked at 44 years
of longitudinal data regarding individuals from ages 25 to 60 to see what
percentage of the American population would experience these different levels
of affluence during their lives. The results were striking.
It turns out that 12 percent of the population will find themselves in the top 1
percent of the income distribution for at least one year. What’s more, 39
percent of Americans will spend a year in the top 5 percent of the income
distribution, 56 percent will find themselves in the top 10 percent, and a
whopping 73 percent will spend a year in the top 20 percent of the income
It is clear that the image of a static 1 and 99 percent is largely incorrect. The
majority of Americans will experience at least one year of affluence at some
point during their working careers. (This is just as true at the bottom of the
income distribution scale, where 54 percent of Americans will experience
poverty or near poverty at least once between the ages of 25 and 60)….
So a majority of Americans will be in the top 10% of income at some time during their
working lives. That makes a mockery of the Left’s portrayal of a rigid caste system that–
somehow!–must be combated by ever-higher taxes and more government spending.
The Democrats’ current campaign against income inequality is puzzling, if you think about it.
Income inequality is a wonderful thing. In fact, a society without income inequality would
scarcely be worth living in. No income inequality means no promotions; no advancement; no
reward for training, education, hard work or experience; no benefit to being talented,
creative or innovative. Imagine if you graduated from high school (or dropped out, for that
matter) knowing that no matter what you did, you could never exceed the income you earned
as a first-year novice in the labor market. Income inequality is just another word for
Once you concede that income inequality in itself is a good thing, the only real question is
whether a hard-working person with reasonable abilities has a good shot at success. Academic
studies yield the same answer as our own common observation: yes, the hard-working and
talented (even modestly talented) can still get ahead in America.

MH 370 May Not be in the Indian Ocean After All!

In this article, the theory based on doppler effect evidence that MH 370, lost since March 8th, was on a course to the south Indian Ocean is examined and questioned. This theory was propounded by engineers at Inmarsat who analyzed the eight pings from the plane, and deduced from claimed doppler effect evidence, that the plane flew on a southern course from its last known position over the Straits of Malacca and crashed into the Indian Ocean west of Australia.
The geolocated satellite is over the equator, 65 degrees east longitude. That is well west of India. The plot line of possible routes is actually an arc from the south Indian Ocean to Nepal.

This is a very important article that questions the Inmarsat theory that has not revealed any evidence of the plane’s fate. SeeFlotsam Evidence.
Data Doesn’t Lie
The fuzzy math behind the search for MH370.
By Jeff Wise
A Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion aircraft searches for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight
MH370, over the Indian Ocean on March 31, 2014.
Photo by Rob Griffith/AFP/Getty Images

Five weeks into the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, more than $30 million has been
spent scouring great swatches of the southern Indian Ocean. Yet searchers have still not found a
single piece of physical evidence such as wreckage or human remains. Last week, Australian
authorities said they were confident that a series of acoustic pings detected 1,000 miles northwest of
Perth had come from the aircraft’s black boxes, and that wreckage would soon be found. But
repeated searches by a robotic submarine have so far failed to find the source of the pings, which
experts say could have come from marine animals or even from the searching ships themselves.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott admitted that if wreckage wasn’t located within a week or two “we stop,
we regroup, we reconsider.”

There remains only one publically available piece of evidence linking the plane to the southern Indian
Ocean: a report issued by the Malaysian government on March 25 that described a new analysis
carried out by the U.K.-based satellite operator Inmarsat. The report said that Inmarsat had
developed an “innovative technique” to establish that the plane had most likely taken a southerly
heading after vanishing. Yet independent experts who have analyzed the report say that it is riddled
with inconsistencies and that the data it presents to justify its conclusion appears to have been

Some background: For the first few days after MH370 disappeared, no one had any idea what might have
happened to the plane after it left Malaysian radar coverage around 2:30 a.m., local time, on March 8,
2014. Then, a week later, Inmarsat reported that its engineers had noticed that in the hours after the
plane’s disappearance, the plane had continued to exchange data-less electronic handshakes, or “pings,”
with a geostationary satellite over the Indian Ocean. In all, a total of eight pings were exchanged.
Each ping conveyed only a tiny amount of data: the time it was received, the distance the airplane
was from the satellite at that instant, and the relative velocity between the airplane and the satellite.
Taken together, these tiny pieces of information made it possible to narrow down the range of
possible routes that the plane might have taken. If the plane was presumed to have traveled to the
south at a steady 450 knots, for instance, then Inmarsat could trace a curving route that wound up
deep in the Indian Ocean southwest of Perth, Australia. Accordingly, ships and planes began to scour
that part of the ocean, and when satellite imagery revealed a scattering of debris in the area, the
Australian prime minister declared in front of parliament that it represented “new and credible
information” about the fate of the airplane.

The problem with this kind of analysis is that, taken by themselves, the ping data are ambiguous.
Given a presumed starting point, any reconstructed route could have headed off in either direction. A
plane following the speed and heading to arrive at the southern search area could have also headed
to the north and wound up in Kazakhstan. Why, then, were investigators scouring the south and not
the north?

The photo mentioned above and the graphs mentioned in the following paragragh are included in the original article Here.

The March 25 report stated that Inmarsat had used a new kind of mathematical analysis to rule out a
northern route. Without being very precise in its description, it implied that the analysis might have
depended on a small but telling wobble of the Inmarsat satellite’s orbit. Accompanying the written
report was an appendix , called Annex I, that consisted of three diagrams, the second of which was
titled “MH370 measured data against predicted tracks” and appeared to sum up the case against the
northern route in one compelling image. One line on the graph showed the predicted Doppler shift for
a plane traveling along a northern route; another line showed the predicted Doppler shift for a plane
flying along a southern route. A third line, showing the actual data received by Inmarsat, matched the
southern route almost perfectly, and looked markedly different from the northern route. Case closed.
Courtesy Malaysia Airlines

The report did not explicitly enumerate the three data points for each ping, but
around the world, enthusiasts from a variety of disciplines threw themselves into
reverse-engineering that original data out of the charts and diagrams in the report. With this
information in hand, they believed, it would be possible to construct any number of possible routes
and check the assertion that the plane must have flown to the south.

Unfortunately, it soon became clear that Inmarsat had presented its data in a way that made this goal
impossible: “There simply isn’t enough information in the report to reconstruct the original data,” says
Scott Morgan, the former commander of the US Air Force Rescue Coordination Center. “We don’t
know what their assumptions are going into this.”

Another expert who tried to understand Inmarsat’s report was Mike Exner, CEO of the remote sensing
company Radiometrics Inc. He mathematically processed the “Burst Frequency Offset” values on
Page 2 of Annex 1 and was able to derive figures for relative velocity between the aircraft and the
satellite. He found, however, that no matter how he tried, he could not get his values to match those
implied by the possible routes shown on Page 3 of the annex. “They look like cartoons to me,” says

Even more significantly, I haven’t found anybody who has independently analyzed the Inmarsat report
and has been able to figure out what kind of northern route could yield the values shown on Page 2
of the annex. According to the March 25 report, Inmarsat teased out the small differences predicted
to exist between the Doppler shift values between the northern and southern routes. This difference,
presumably caused by the slight wobble in the satellite’s orbit that I mentioned above, should be tiny
—according to Exner’s analysis, no more than a few percent of the total velocity value. And yet Page
2 of the annex shows a radically different set of values between the northern and southern routes.
“Neither the northern or southern predicted routes make any sense,” says Exner. Given the discrepancies
and inaccuracies, it has proven impossible for independent observers to validate Inmarsat’s assertion
that it can rule out a northern route for the airplane. “It’s really impossible to reproduce what the Inmarsat
folks claim,” says Hans Kruse, a professor of telecommunications systems at Ohio University.
This is not to say that Inmarsat’s conclusions are necessarily incorrect. (In the past I have made the
case that the northern route might be possible, but I’m not trying to beat that drum here.) Its engineers
are widely regarded as top-drawer, paragons of meticulousness in an industry that is obsessive about
attention to detail. But their work has been presented to the public by authorities whose inconsistency and
lack of transparency have time and again undermined public confidence. It’s worrying that the report
appears to have been composed in such a way as to make it impossible for anyone to independently
assess its validity—especially given that its ostensible purpose was to explain to the world Inmarsat’s
momentous conclusions. What frustrated, grieving family members need from the authorities is clarity
and trustworthiness, not a smokescreen.

Inmarsat has not replied to my request for a clarification of their methods. This week, the Wall Street
Journal reported that in recent days experts had “recalibrated data” in part by using “arcane new
calculations reflecting changes in the operating temperatures of an Inmarsat satellite as well as the
communications equipment aboard the Boeing when the two systems exchanged so-called digital
handshakes.” But again, not enough information has been provided for the public to assess the
validity of these methods.

It would be nice if Inmarsat would throw open its spreadsheets and help resolve the issue right now,
but that could be too much to expect. Inmarsat may be bound by confidentiality agreements with its
customers, not to mention U.S. laws that restrict the release of information about sensitive
technologies. The Malaysian authorities, however, can release what they want to—and they seem to
be shifting their stance toward openness. After long resisting pressure to release the air traffic control
transcript, they eventually relented. Now acting transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein says that if
and when the black boxes are found, their data will be released to the public.
With the search for surface debris winding down, the mystery of MH370 is looking more impenetrable
by the moment. If the effort to find the plane using an underwater robot comes up empty, then there
should be a long and sustained call for the Malaysian authorities to reveal their data and explain
exactly how they came to their conclusions. Because at that point, it will be all we’ve got.

Dartmouth’s Problem May Be Its Liberal Culture

As a Dartmouth alumni, I am very disrturbed by the recent news from the college. This Stephen Hayward article gets at what may be the underlying issue there and elsewhere where the liberal culture runs the campus. 

The Washington Post reports today that the president of Dartmouth, Philip Hanlon, is decrying
“extreme behavior” on the campus. Is he taking proper note of the students who occupied his
office with their extreme demands for preposterous things? That would be a “No.” Instead:
Dartmouth College’s president lamented Wednesday that the Ivy League
school’s promising future “is being hijacked by extreme behavior,” including
sex assaults, parties with “racist and sexist undertones,” and a campus culture
in which “dangerous drinking has become the rule and not the exception.”
I’ll leave it to the Dartmouth alums on Power Line’s higher education desk to parse out the
whole thing, but there’s one aspect of the wider story here that deserves note. Hanlon is
implicitly siding with the current rage about “rape culture” on campus. Some conservatives
have questioned the general statistic that even President Obama has cited that one out of five
women experiences rape in their college years. Leaving aside this quarrel, allow me to
suggest that Hanlon and the feminists are actually right about a larger point: college campuses
currently tolerate—indeed actually encourage—a predatory climate toward women in which
there is enormous social pressure to have sex, and are permissive about massive alcohol use
by undergraduates whose chief purpose is to undermine inhibitions.
Step back and note something obviously out of whack with this whole controversy. It is said
that college campuses are the prime venue of “rape culture.” But most college campuses are
run by liberals, and liberalism and its correlates—maximum individual liberation in all things
sexual—is the dominant orthodoxy. Why is this problem ostensibly most severe where
liberalism reigns? Perhaps for the same reason that poverty and social dysfunction are worst
where liberalism reigns supreme (Detroit). Hanlon notes a rising number of reported rapes at
Dartmouth. He should be embarrassed by this. But he ought to ponder this question: is
sexual assault a problem at conservative colleges like Hillsdale, Patrick Henry, Liberty
University, or Regent University? I wonder why not. Actually I don’t. Hillsdale and other
conservative colleges actually take seriously their role as moral instructors of young adults,
and extend this responsibility to enforcing the alcohol laws, basic behavior and manners, and
even dress codes. Liberal universities like Dartmouth might want to borrow a clue, but don’t
hold your breath.
Maybe the next group of students that occupies Hanlon’s office will bring this up.

Dienekes’ Anthropology Blog: Neandertals gave Europeans lipid catabolism genes

This article gives support for the paleo diet among Europeans due to Neanderthal genes that remain in the European genetic code.