30 July 2021

Tarnished Medal Link Sausage Platter

There's been more than one day of late that I didn't know up from down. But then, I've been following American politics for half a century…

  • Well, in the last few minutes, the US women's football team has proven its mental strength by winning a penalty-kick shootout against the Netherlands to proceed to the semifinals. The Orange One will be disappointed that That Woman whom he suggested needed to "win something" before she spoke out on anything put away the decisive kick… and will entirely miss that Rapinoe's kick was decisive because her teammate Angela Naeher saved three Dutch penalties today.
  • This, a few days after Simone Biles showed her mental strength by not placing herself (and potentially others) in jeopardy for the benefit of the sponsors. <SARCASM> I'd offer her a virtual hug, but the last thing that she needs as a survivor of US Gymnastics' inbred old-white-guy arrogance (and Dr Nasser — and his defenders — in particular) is unsolicited physical, even virtual, contact from an old white guy. </SARCASM>

    The scheduling of damned near everything at the Olympics is for the benefit of the sponsors, and in particular the advertisers (world wide). It's certainly not for the integrity of competition; if it was integrity of competition, the individual events in gymnastics would precede the all-around, and the team competition would always follow the individual events. The team sports — especially those, like football, that require considerable recovery time for repeated elite-level performance — would be more spread out, regardless of the so-called "pageantry." And so on.

    And if the sponsors weren't in control, the Olympic Games would not be occurring in the midst of a pandemic near lockdown of the host nation.

  • If you need proof that the entitled-old-white-guy attitude is tarnishing all competition — not just the Olympics — consider this startlingly counterfactual piece of argument-from-authority on the purportedly flawed case against noncompetes. The fundamental problem is that the piece looks at the data from entirely one perspective, and with entirely one objective: Existing capital accretions own the workers, their ideas, and their skills, and only the existing capital accretions are entitled to benefit from the workers, their ideas, and their skills. It's more than just "labor is subordinate to capital," an underlying meme of post-Expansion America. The law-journal article cited in the "opinion piece" to which I linked here fails most tests of experimental-design validity. For example, the article focuses only on high-team-implementation-IP noncompete agreements as its source; I am left to wonder just how much a franchised sandwich stop really needs to keep its minimum-wage workers from going to work for a competitor, because those minimum-wage workers don't know the recipe for the "secret sauce" in the first place. Then there's the question of applying noncompetes to independent contractors, like authors and screenwriters and so on (seen a default publishing contract lately? in particular, a publishing contract from a certain NYC-based conglomerate controlled in Germany… or its competitor controlled by a Franco-Swiss arms dealer?). Then there's the never-stated definition of "innovation" at the core of the article. And all of that is before getting into the dubious, cherry-picked data and "statistical" methods.

    If anyone needs a further reason to distrust the law-and-economics movement and its misapplication of laboratory-based-and-confined numerical methods to the "real world," this opinion piece (and the law-journal article) provide that reason. At most (and even that depends upon measures of data integrity that I'm not in a position to evaluate either way) the criticisms raised in the article suggest that "perhaps, for some narrow and highly specialized circumstances, noncompetes of broad scope and extremely limited duration might be an appropriate bargained-for consideration." But that also presumes that noncompetes are subject to bargaining in the first place, doesn't it? Instead, though, through the magic wand of "we're economically sophisticated tools of capital accretion and we know both what we're talking about and what's good for General Motors'murika," the authors of the articles cheapen their analysis by Olympic-caliber conclusion jumping.

    Both pieces implicate — don't quite cross whatever line there is — academic integrity matters. The editors who accepted the underlying law-journal piece should be hauled off to a graduate-level, team-taught course with a title like Statistical Methods and Designs for Epidemiological Inquiry and Analysis in the Social Sciences before ever being allowed to evaluate pieces of this nature again. Whether for overall acceptability or during the editorial process. The editors who accepted the opinion piece need at least a basic course in statistical reasoning (taught with calculus, not The Students'-T Test for Dummies). The authors… that's for another time, because it's a complex situation touching on academic integrity, academic freedom, conflicts of interest (recognized and otherwise), and the necessity of the "sniping process" in academia. That said, their decision to "go general public" was certainly ill-considered.