Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Posts Tagged ‘fraud

Follow-up: Disenfranchisement and the U.S. election(s)

leave a comment »

Two further items on disenfranchisement:

  1. I have repeatedly heard claims of a pact, of some sort, whereby some states want to ignore the respective state-wide popular vote in favor of the nation-wide popular vote when choosing their electors.

    This, if implemented, would be a gross disenfranchisement of the respective state’s population.

    Moreover, it would be constitutionally problematic in at least two regards: Firstly, it does away with the need to amend the constitution, thereby avoiding various checks-and-balances and violating the rights of the states and the people to have a say in how the constitution develops.* Secondly, it is contrary to the intentions of how the president should be elected. While this approach might (or might not) technically be within the considerable leeway given to the states in choosing electors, it is certainly against the spirit of the states of the federation electing who should be the “CEO” of the federation.**

    *Note the similar problem with judicial activism and the attitude that a small group of justices should be allowed to bend and alter the constitution without adhering to the prescribed manner—which was prescribed for a good reason.

    **Generally, the implementation of the U.S. as a federation appears to have grown weaker and weaker over time, with a considerable risk that it will soon be reduced to a single monolithic state and fifty ceremonial “states”.

  2. The sad truth is that elections (absent cheating …) are won by whoever manages to convince the greater part of the dumb masses. While I am not in a position to make a true quantification, I suspect that not even one-in-ten makes a truly informed and intelligent decision on how to vote, while well over half are driven mostly by emotions, egoism, and/or cheap propaganda, and while the remainder do try to vote reasonably but lack the information and intelligence to do so. The main difference between modern elections and the Roman panem et circenses is that modern politics is better at creating the impression of “serious” elections—what happens below the surface is not that different. Actually, there is one other important difference: a Roman politician, in my impression, bribed the people out of his own pocket, while the modern politician bribes with the tax-payers’ money.

    Indeed, it is striking how close to 50–50 elections tend to be, irrespective of the participants. If objective and informed choices were made, then 80–20 and 90–10 elections would be quite common; instead, 60–40 is considered a land-slide.*

    *I caution that while the rarity of 80–20 elections is an indicator of poor decisions, their presence is not a proof of good decisions; moreover, that it is important to look at aggregates, as e.g. a single 51–49 decision could result from the candidates coincidentally being almost equally good.

    The result is that the minority of voters whose votes really should count, those who understand how society, economics, and politics work, know their history, are highly intelligent, try to make rational decisions, can think critically, etc., stand a disproportionate risk that their votes do not matter. Say that (optimistically) these “good” voters cast 10 % of the overall votes, and that they go 8–2 (resp. 80–20) for candidate A over candidate B. This gives candidate A a leg up of 6 % of the overall vote, and all candidate B has to do is to win the dumb-masses 48–42 (roughly, 53.33–46.67, when scaled from 90 to 100) + one vote. Drop the optimistic 10 % to 1 % and even a near unanimous preference for one of the candidates is unlikely to matter.

Written by michaeleriksson

November 30, 2020 at 6:55 am

Disenfranchisement and the U.S. election(s)

with one comment

A recurring topic, argument, and/or pseudo-argument (depending on the details) is “disenfranchisement”. This ranges from legitimate concerns about legitimate voters having their votes uncounted (or, worse, switched to another candidate) for illegitimate reasons, to nonsense like “the Electoral-College system disenfranchises this-or-that group”.

While I will not go into a deeper discussion, I note that:

  1. In more-or-less any election, in any system known to me, involving a non-trivial population, a sizable proportion of the votes given will eventually not count in a meaningful manner. They have been given in vain or almost* in vain, because they were given to a candidate or party that did not win, and this fact alone is not disenfranchisement.

    *In e.g. the Swedish and German multi-party systems, a vote for a losing party might still result in a seat more in parliament, but this is nowhere near as valuable as actually being elected the governing party (or, mostly, one of the governing parties).

  2. Arguments that throwing out e.g a specific county due to poor controls, proof of voter fraud, or similar, would disenfranchise the legitimate voters in that county are partially correct and worthy of due consideration. However, they are not the entire story, and often it will be better to throw them out—if in doubt, to avoid future fraud.

    Specifically, throwing them out when the election results were altered will reduce disenfranchisement. (Assuming that correcting the results, which would be preferable, is unrealistic.) Say, for easy numbers, that the true vote was 10,000 to 9,000 and that fraud alters this to 10,000 to 9,000 + 2,000 Allowing the results to stand would disenfranchise the 10,000 legitimate voters for the legitimate winner and the “people” as a whole. Throwing the results out would disenfranchise whom? Not the 10,000 whose votes would have been in vain, anyway, had the fraudulent result stood—they were disenfranchised by the fraud. Not the 9,000 whose votes would have been in vain in a fair election and who would have been given an unfair advantage through the fraud. Certainly not the 2,000, who did not exist in the first place, or voted without having the right to do so, or whatnot. The people as a whole? No: it too was disenfranchised by the fraud and throwing the county out lessens the error of letting a result opposite of the “will of the people” stand.

  3. Replacing the Electoral College with a direct “popular vote” would not solve any problems in a magic manner.

    Firstly, campaign strategies would change and there is no guarantee that e.g. Hillary would have won the popular vote in 2016, if the popular vote had counted. What if Trump had just ignored two smaller battle-ground states, thrown a major effort into California, and shifted the vote enough to take the popular vote while losing two states more?

    Secondly, any imagined disenfranchisement (using the word loosely) problems would just move. For instance, someone somewhere reasoned that voters in this-or-that non-swing state would be disenfranchised, because no-one cared about their problems and all candidates spent their efforts on Florida et co. Change the system and what happens? Florida, California, Texas, New York will get plenty of attention, but Alaska, Hawaii, Vermont, …, not so much.

    (In addition, this points to a more fundamental problem, where politics is reduced to bargaining, bribes to the voters for elections, etc. Here the Electoral College is at least a slight counter-weight—and it could be a considerable one if the College was strengthened to the degree that its members were elected as individuals who then made an independent decision about who should be POTUS.)

  4. If you want to experience true disenfranchisement, look at Germany: Here the alleged Conservatives and the Social-Democrats form coalition government after coalition government, making voting borderline pointless.

Written by michaeleriksson

November 24, 2020 at 10:21 am

“Trump is evil for not conceding” and other nonsense

with one comment

A particular annoyance around the POTUS election is the apparent obsession with (a) whether/that Trump concedes the election and (b) the presumed need to forcefully remove him from office (or his physical presence from the White House, or whatnot).

Even discounting the fact that Trump has very, very legitimate reasons to not concede as things currently stand, this is highly irrational, evil rhetoric, or plain insanity.

Firstly, for the losing party to officially concede is a mere courtesy—it has no major* legal or other practical effect. Here I strongly suspect that it is either a matter of further demonizing Trump through illegitimate means or of trying to avoid the very real possibility of Trump winning in court. Neither is an acceptable motivation, especially as it is of great importance that the gross misbehaviors involved in this election are investigated even should they not actually have changed the outcome or eventually turn out to be too hard to prove and/or remedy.

*Looking at details, there might or might not be some set of circumstance where the conceding party reduces his own options or where a concession would necessitate some secondary actions to be legitimate. For instance, continuing various law suits around e.g. election integrity or the results from some specific state or county might be harder and/or pointless. (However, not even that is entirely off the table, as there are other concerns than “who won” involved, including getting rid of bad eggs and ensuring that future elections are run differently.)

Secondly, there has not been one shred of proof that Trump (should he not win) would even attempt to remain in office past inauguration day. This is a very clear case of further demonization: just claim “Trump is so evil that he will never leave unless we send in the Navy Seals*” and some stupid people will believe it. He is effectively accused of the intent to commit a crime** in two months time—and pronounced guilty without proof, without any true current indication,*** and without even having had the opportunity to commit the crime.

*And why the Navy Seals is unclear to me: not only do they seem as an illogical choice, but their involvement would, in turn, stand the risk of being an illegal act. I have not investigated who is the proper choice, but the Secret Service seems much more plausible, as do some law-enforcement unit executing a court order.

**Whether literally or figuratively is currently unclear to me.

***In contrast, speculation around Biden (voluntarily or involuntarily, de jure or merely de facto) being replaced by Harris in the not-too-distant future has a much higher plausibility. The claim remains speculation, but it is a legitimate concern (and one that actually would have a practical effect—unlike with Trump and the next item). Also contrast claims around future policy and actions in office made based on a candidates own stated plans and those that are baseless, horribly exaggerated, or taken out of context, as with the horrifying Goldwater will cause WWIII propaganda.

Notably, neither the non-concession nor the lack of current cooperation with a transition is a such a shred of proof: The former is similar to saying that “someone who pleads ‘not guilty’ will refuse to go to jail if convicted (which just proves how extra super-duper guilty he is)”. The latter is irrelevant, as Biden is not the “president elect” at this stage—and would not be so even if the election had been beyond reproach. He only becomes the “president elect” if and when the electoral college says so—and until then any cooperation by Trump would be a mere courtesy.

Thirdly, even if a losing Trump declared himself the still-POTUS and somehow did manage to occupy the White House, what would that practically change? Except for logistic inconveniences, hardly anything: As with the Presidential Twitter* account, his status as this-or-that would automatically be transferred to Biden with the inauguration ceremony. This is not some scenario from a fantasy novel where sitting on a magic throne or wearing a magic crown gives someone the right of command regardless of who is the acknowledged king.

*What motivated me to write this text was a claim in a Swedish news source that Twitter was handing the account over to Biden, given undue weight and the appearance that it was something happening here-and-now. Reading deeper, it was clear that Twitter had asserted that it would be following the same procedure as when Trump was inaugurated and transfer the rights at the time of the inauguration (implicitly, with reservations for the eventuality that Trump wins and makes the transfer unnecessary)—complete and utter non-news, in other words.

Excursion on pre-accusations and distortions:
I have a strong impression that this type of pre-accusations and distortions do not merely arise out of incompetence, sensationalism, or another “traditional” weakness of journalists, but as outright manipulation attempts. Consider similarly the pre-accusation that Trump would not concede the election, no matter the result—there was not one shred of proof that he would refuse to concede a legitimate and uncontroversial loss, but now, when he has very legitimate reasons to not concede an apparent loss, these legitimate reasons are ignored in favor of “we told you so”. Similarly, news reporting around various race-related court cases is often heavily distorted, creating an impression that there is a very clear case, that the accused did have certain motivations, or similar—and if a court, even quite legitimately, finds the opposite later, well, then cries of scandal, racist jurors/judges, and whatnot ensues. And then comes the riots … For an example, the same Swedish news source referred to Kyle Rittenhouse as a right-wing extremist, which is (a) disputable, (b) irrelevant in what currently appears to be a clear-cut self-defense case. But, no, the reader is to think “evil Nazi” and ascribe a motive of hate and malevolence. Also see some earlier, more detailed, discussions of similar topics, e.g. texts around George Floyd (at least, [1], [2]).

Written by michaeleriksson

November 21, 2020 at 1:23 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , , ,

Election fraud / Follow-up: Some observations around the current U.S. election(s)

with 2 comments

As a brief follow-up to my observations around the U.S. election(s):

I have done a fair amount of reading lately, including on the recurring topic of electoral fraud. I would like to pass on two of the more interesting pieces:

https://monsterhunternation.com/2020/11/05/the-2020-election-fuckery-is-afoot/: A discussion of the many red flags currently present. It covers a lot of the same ground that I might have covered, had I written an own piece on the topic.

https://www.dailysignal.com/2020/11/06/a-pro-bono-lawyer-for-trump-campaign-shares-what-he-saw-in-pennsylvania/: The claimed* experiences of a Republic election observer.

*I have no reason to doubt his truthfulness, but I cannot personally vouch for it either.

I try to keep an open mind on this issue, including correcting for potential bias from what I want to be true (i.e. that Trump won) and the fact that most of my sources might be pro-Republic/-Trump, but it is very hard at this juncture: with the sheer mass of red flags, claimed eye-witness accounts, whatnot, the conclusion of massive* fraud is almost unavoidable. This especially in light of the equally massive problems pre-election, including grossly unethical and partisan manipulations by e.g. Twitter and Facebook.

*As opposed to minor fraud, which is indisputable (and possibly unavoidable; and not necessarily limited to one camp).

There remains at least four interesting questions:

  1. Was the fraud sufficient to actually affect the result of the election? (And, no, this is not a given, even with the razor-thin margins in some states—a cheating party might still have won without cheating.)
  2. Will the scope of the fraud be sufficiently investigated and corrected?
  3. To what degree was it an organized act and to what degree just individuals acting on their own?
  4. Assuming a high degree of organization above: To what degree was Biden, Harris, the DNC, whatnot, informed or instigating? (Note that it is quite possibly for massive and organized fraud to have taken place without e.g. Biden having any knowledge of it.)

Excursion on women and voting:
In my original text, I forgot to mention the issue of women making poor voting choices. These choices should come as no surprise to those who follow demographics and voting, but it is worthy of mention in light of a few pre-closing texts, notably [1]. I have not yet seen any numbers for 2020, but it is notable e.g. that there was very large male–female difference in 2016, and that I have seen similar skew towards naive pro-Left attitudes and votes among women on a great number of occasions in the U.S., Germany, and Sweden. The effect sans-Hillary might be smaller than in 2016, but the 2020 figures are very likely to show another would-have-been-a-landslide victory for Trump among men.

Written by michaeleriksson

November 8, 2020 at 10:19 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , , ,

Follow-up: Fraudulent product information/German DVDs/Koch Media

with one comment

In January, I wrote about the fraudulent behavior of Koch Media regarding the 1980s/1990s Sherlock-Holmes series*.

On the same day, I sent an email to Koch Media with a demand for rectification. This received a near-immediate automatic confirmation of receipt, implying that Koch Media definitely received said email.

Nevertheless, there has been no further reaction in the almost month since then—despite an explicit dead-line set for the 21st of January.

Correspondingly, I will now put the matter in the hands of the police.

I have already (as explicitly mentioned in the email to Koch Media) taken the non-reaction as cause to download the missing episodes from the Internet, which I consider perfectly legal as a remedy of a defect product in light of an uncooperative counter-part*. I advise other victims to do the same, should Koch Media or the respective seller not respond appropriately to complaints.**

*A minor hitch is that, according to German law, the first point of contact and party required to provide remedy is the seller, not the producer, of a good. However, due to the time period involved, I can no longer safely say who the seller was, let alone provide proof of purchase from that seller. Further, it is obvious that the fraud has been perpetrated by the producer (Koch Media), with the sellers likely acting in good faith or even qualifying as victims. Nevertheless, fellow victims with a sufficient knowledge (and preferably a receipt) should turn to the seller first.

**I stress that any such attempt should be preceded by a complaint with a demand for remedy. This to (a) give Koch Media a fair chance, (b) reduce the risk of legal culpability on behalf of the downloader, (c) let Koch Media know that its fraudulent actions have had consequences, giving incentives for an improved behavior. I further stress that this recommendation only applies to purchasers of Koch Media’s product. I refrain from giving explicit download instructions, seeing that such instructions have been legally problematic in some other contexts (however, it is not hard to find out how).

Written by michaeleriksson

February 4, 2019 at 12:06 am

Fraudulent product information/German DVDs/Koch Media

with 3 comments

A few years back, I bought a German edition by Koch Media of the 1980s/1990s Sherlock-Holmes series*, labeled as “Die komplette Serie” (“The complete series”). Re-watching it, I also visited the Wikipedia page—and was highly confused to see a mention of 41 episodes, where my “complete” DVD set only contains 36.

*As this is a British production: I use the word in the U.S. meaning and/or as a British plural.

As it turns out, Koch Media has arbitrarily removed five episodes, without giving the slightest indication of this fact. Worse: These five appear to be the movie-length* ones, which (in a rough approximation) then equal ten episodes worth of screen-time… By this reckoning, “complete” corresponds to roughly three-quarters (36/46). I note, in contrast, that Wikipedia claims the full 41 episodes for the English language region-1 (“The Complete Granada Television Series”) and region-2** (“The Complete Collection”) equivalents. Further, that any excuse based on what was originally aired in Germany falls flat on its face,*** seeing that German Wikipedia points to even fewer episodes being aired and dubbed versions*** being available for the missing episodes. Further yet, that the movie-length additions were sent during and are an official part of the series (in contrast to e.g. some continuations of sci-fi series). Further yet, that they were made long before the DVD-box was released (actually, before DVDs were available), making a “it was complete at the time” explanation impossible.

*Most episodes likely clock in at roughly fifty minutes, and are based on the many short-stories. Several stories were book-length, however, while others might have been given more time for other reasons when filmed.

**Differences between DVD-regions (a user-hostile idiocy) would not give a satisfactory justification, but at least some explanation.

***Germany is infested with dubbed versions of everything (cf. excursion), and a sometime problem is that material that was never aired is not available in dubbed versions, and are therefore not included on DVD releases either—to the great annoyance of those who use the English audio as a matter of course.

Barring great incompetence and lack of due diligence, there is only one conclusion possible: A deliberate and fraudulent attempt to mislead the customers about the contents.

Unfortunately, this is only the latest of many, many grossly dishonest distortions by the German DVD industry. For instance:

  1. I once bought a few Hitchcock movies in a box labeled as having English audio, but where half of them actually only contained German audio. Note: Not “a few Transformers movies”—we are talking about movies that are simultaneously classic and artistic, which should not be watched in a dubbed version by anyone.
  2. In the days when I used DVD players,* I regularly encountered DVDs marked as having English/German audio and German subtitles (with no qualifications!), where it turned out that it was impossible to disable the subtitles when using the English audio.

    *Today, I use a computer with software that does not allow such inexcusable idiocies.

  3. Occasionally, especially with older material, alleged dual-audio TV-series turn out to have single episodes with only German audio (“Get Smart” springs to mind).
  4. Seasons are often divided into two smaller boxes (it self acceptable) that are labeled as “The complete season X” (“Die komplette Xte Staffel”) in large letters, with an accompanying “Volume 1” resp. “Volume 2” in smaller letters and on a different line (no longer acceptable). Since the only sane expectation* is that a DVD release of a TV season does not leave anything out, the only reasonable implication of “complete” would be “this volume contains the entire season in one go”, which is quite in contrast to the actual intent. A non-misleading description would be e.g. “Die Xte Staffel: Volume 1” (“Season X: Volume 1”) in a consistent letter size and on one line.

    *Unlike with books and “unabridged”, where e.g. the “The unabridged [very long book], volume 1” might be justifiable, seeing that long books often are abridged. (However, even then, it would make more sense to leave “unabridged” out, and to be very, very careful about marking all abridged works as “abridged”.) There might be some very, very rare exception, e.g. when some episode has not been aired for censorship reasons or when portions of episodes have been cut to fit a certain combination of time-slot and advertising; however, both are quite rare in Germany. (While, by reputation, British TV series are often cut when aired in the U.S.)

  5. The treatment of “Breaking Bad” was particularly poor and dishonest: The fifth and simultaneously last season was split into and advertised as, respectively, the fifth season (half-a-season at full price) and the last season (half-a-season at full price).

    This is made the worse, because anyone who had, even casually, followed the news on the series would have known that the fifth (in the true sense) season also was the last, and must have assumed that the claim of “fifth season” implied the end of the series.

    With the previous item, the observant buyer at least has a chance and most of the victims will be among the poor readers, but here it would take actually research to become aware of the problem. (Yes, I too fell for this one.)

(To which can be added the more global problems, like unskippable copyright warnings and trailers, annoying menus, and whatnots—some of which reach the point of invalidating merchantability or fitness for purpose.)

Excursion on further action:
In a parallel email, I will confront Koch Media and demand that the missing episodes be provided to me separately.

Excursion on books:
Unfortunately, such dirty methods are not limited to DVDs. For instance, many thick U.S. fantasy books that sell at price X in the U.S. are split into several smaller volumes when translated to German—and sell at price X each.*

*Or, at least, they were/did during my first few years in Germany, when the access to English language books was much more restricted than today (and I read much more fantasy than I do now). Such nonsense, the poor quality of translation, and the inevitable distortion through even a rare good translation, moved me to stick to English whenever possible, and I cannot speak as to the current situation.

Excursion on dubbing:
Dubbing is the bane of TV/movies/acting/whatnot in Germany. Compared to Sweden, this malpractice has left generations with Germans with a stunted English, a distorted understanding of acting,* and some very odd ideas through various mistranslations.** The average TV sender (at least when I stilled watched TV) sends every non-German program dubbed into German. The vast majority of all cinemas are exclusively or almost exclusively German only. Until possibly as late as ten years ago, DVD buyers had to be very, very careful to check that there actually was an English audio track on originally English (language) movies.*** Etc. (And, yes, this applies even to “art” movies and, almost unbelievably, musicals.)

*I have a long standing hypothesis that the mediocre level of German acting is largely a result of dubbing: Not only are viewers removed from the larger market of English-speaking actors, but since the dub-actors are often second-/third-rate and/or obsessed with “sounding cool” and/or try to play every single character as were he a professional speaker, the mark of comparison is set far too low, which (in turn) hits the quality of even (original) German productions. (Calling dub-actors “voice actors” is a potential insult to many of the U.S. and Japanese voice actors that I have heard in the context of animation: Not only are these very often better actors in general, but they also avoid the forced/fake “coolness” and unnatural voices of German dub-actors—unless and to the degree that the specific part calls for it.)

**For instance, the German version of “Die Hard” is infamous for making the terrorists non-German and then having to jump through various continuity hoops to make things fit. For instance, there are often gross translation errors. For instance, there is often a considerable dumbing down or drop in register compared to the original phrasing—I once caught the trailers of some movie in both German and English: The original used phrases like (in my rough recollection) “You may repossess your vehicle!” and “Are you resisting arrest?”, while the translation used (again, rough recollection) “Fahren Sie Ihre Schrottkarre weg!” (“Drive your piece of trash away!”) and “Nah, wer hüpft denn da herum!” (“Who is jumping [sic!] around?”) for the same respective passage.

***And, as described above, this was not always enough…

I actually tend to use attitude towards dubbing as an informal intelligence test: Does a German prefer original versions, if need be with sub-titles, or dubbed versions? If the former, he is usually a fair bit above average in intelligence, education, and intellectual aspiration (as born out by later experiences); if the latter, he will* fail on at least one the three criteria, irrespective of how he otherwise looks on paper. Certainly, I will condemn him as a “Banause”, in light of the immense damage that dubbing causes to the quality of a work.

*I can recall no exception among people my age or younger, although some are bound to exist with a large enough sample. Older generations might be excused, for having had lesser opportunities (or currently having weaker eyes).

Written by michaeleriksson

January 7, 2019 at 12:40 am

Apartment frauds

with 6 comments

I am currently looking for a new apartment (my current being both over-priced and provided by a less than white-vested landlord—he, however, is not the topic of this post). Doing so, I stumbled upon an everything-included 65 m^2 apartment at a mere 300 Euro—not entirely unheard of, even in the middle of Cologne, but certainly a rarity where some catch could be suspected: Possibly, the location was smack on top of a discotheque? Possibly, the ad was a bait-and-switch from a dubious realtor?

No: A first electronic contact resulted in a return email, describing how the apartment’s owner, Laurentiu Marian Ganea, had to relocate to London for a few years and needed to let the apartment.

All-in-all, not entirely implausible, but with an added tale of the sole key being in London with the owner and a discrepancy in the names used, the situation remained suspect. I refrained from an early judgement, however: The great amount of detail included seemed to give the offer some realism.

Now, in a first step, I wrote a pleasing email, wanting to live up to the owner’s stated “perfect person” criterion (I would certainly be highly selective in his shoes). Within 12 minutes of sending, I received a surprisingly lengthy answer that made me very, very suspicious: The problem with the key was solved, UPS would handle this through some sort of escrow and, by all appearances, he had settled on me as his tenant. Really? Would anyone in his right mind give the key to an apartment with electronics and furniture in it to a complete stranger? Why was he not more choosy, considering that he could offer an extremely good deal, which should have had the people lined up to apply? Why did he seem to stress the benefits of quick action? Even with his relocation issues…

(Also, the UPS solution is slightly suspect, in and by it self, UPS being a not uncommon tool for fraudsters.)

Next step: See if his name was known to detective Google. It was. One page declared him the new star on the fraudster skye.

Well, as the saying goes: If it seems too good to be true…

As an aside, in the future, I will likely consult detective Google at an early stage as a matter of course. The time wasted on a failed search is shorter than that wasted on writing emails or hunting someone down on the telephone.

Written by michaeleriksson

November 21, 2010 at 12:38 pm