Young Conservative Danish Woman Promotes Freedom, Underboob [Ace of Spades HQ]

Nikita Klaestrup. 'Sup? By the way: If you search her name, it turns out she's a model. She posts pictures of herself. "Arty" pictures, know what I mean?...

Terrific: Kennedy Seems to Be Leaning Towards Adopting the Government's Position on Obamacare, Because If He Doesn't, He'll Be Forced to Strike the Whole Law Down as Unconstitutional [Ace of Spades HQ]

The law was written to coerce states into setting up their own exchanges. The threat/inducement was that if you set up your own exchange, your citizens got federal subsidies; if not, then not. If you don't believe me, you can...

NYPD "Quietly" Planning for Mumbai-Style IS Attack on NYC [Ace of Spades HQ]

Wonderful. The 2008 Mumbai attacks were a larger-scale version of the mayhem the But the Crusades folks randomly perpetrated in Paris -- multiple teams running around setting bombs and shooting people. he NYPD has quietly spent the last six months...

#RacistDOJ: "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" Was a Lie From the Start; "Gentle Giant" Likely Punched Wilson and Went for His Gun [Ace of Spades HQ]

DOJ: No credible evidence Michael Brown's hands were up, said he likely punched Wilson and then went for gun at car pic.twitter.com/0Mj2ygtItl— Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) March 4, 2015 Cleared of all possible civil rights violations charges. The Justice Department has...

Here’s who’s on and what’s happening tonight on... [http://atmidnightcc.tumblr.com/]

Here’s who’s on and what’s happening tonight on @midnight!

Our contestants are Neal BrennanBryan Callen, & Esther Povitsky!


Ben & Jerry’s is making WEED INFUSED ICE CREAM! Now if only we could get it to stream Netflix… (Via Hightimes)


LeSean McCoy was traded to the Bills! EAGLES TRADED MCCOY?? C’MON!  (Via ESPN)


This “Priest” is taking digital confessions! Forgive us father for we have liked our own Instagram pictures… (Via Fox Santonio

@MIDNIGHT’S INTERNETTY INTERNET THINGS (FROM THE... [http://atmidnightcc.tumblr.com/]


Here’s some of the great stuff we found on the internet today that didn’t make it onto tonight’s show. Get your click on.

"My dogs mouth freaks out when you throw his Frisbee… So I added a little soundtrack to it." Translation: rapping dog. (via Reddit

 D Free is a device that tells you when to poop. Now THIS is the device you don’t want to become self-aware with A.I. (via Bustle.com)

comedycentral:Watch tonight’s next-gen @midnight to find out... [http://atmidnightcc.tumblr.com/]


Watch tonight’s next-gen @midnight to find out which of these #TechTVShows has the highest resolution and most terabytes.

Why Apple Doesn’t Report Jony Ive’s Compensation [Daring Fireball]

Eric Jackson, examining a question I raised on The Talk Show a few weeks ago:

Normally, all companies have to report the pay for the CEO, CFO, and three next most important “Named Officers.” Most would assume Ive would be among the next 3. Yet, Apple reports them as Ahrendts, Cue, and Williams. Why? I agree with Gruber that it’s likely because they just don’t want to report Ive if it’s high for fear of it becoming an issue when they don’t think a public discussion is warranted.

Notch, Post-Minecraft [Daring Fireball]

[**Update: Re-linked with the correct URL this time. Forbes’s “forward you to the next article” JavaScript dingus screwed me earlier.]

Interesting profile by Forbes, including some insight on the negotiations with Microsoft:

It was June 16, 2014, and Persson bunkered in his penthouse apartment with a cold. Minecraft users had been up in arms that week about the company’s decision to start enforcing its End User License Agreement, which barred players from charging others for certain game-play features, such as stronger swords. As hundreds of tweets an hour flowed in, Persson, feverish from his cold, tapped out a 129-character outburst that would change his life forever.

“Anyone want to buy my share of Mojang so I can move on with my life?” he asked. “Getting hate for trying to do the right thing is not my gig.”

Mojang CEO Carl Manneh was sitting at home with his family when he first saw the tweet. Within 30 seconds of his reading it, his phone rang. A Microsoft executive who coordinated with Mojang wanted to know if Persson was serious. “I’m not sure–let me talk to him,” said Manneh.

OneShot, a One Week Design Case Study [Daring Fireball]

Daniel Zarick goes behind-the-scenes on the making of OneShot, a new iOS app for sharing screenshots of article excerpts.

When I first heard about OneShot a few weeks ago, I hardly paid any attention to it. The idea of sharing screenshots — static images — of article excerpts seemed goofy to me. Twitter’s 140-character limit is a big motivator here, so I see the appeal, but it just sounded like a bad premise.

But Zarick’s design write-up (and Neven Mrgan’s aforelinked good words) made me want to try it, and I’m glad I did. The app is full of clever details, including smart use of OCR to make the text in screenshots un-static. I probably won’t use it much, because, well, I have a place where I post excerpts from interesting articles. But I can see why people use it.

Try [Daring Fireball]

Neven Mrgan on OneShot:

I’d like to see more software try to do a good job of a fuzzy task, let you help it with the last mile, and give you a fallback option. That kind of magic can be more delightful than behind-the-scenes, guess-and-stick-with-it magic we’re often promised.

I think this is a good rule of thumb.

Matt Haughey Retiring From MetaFilter [Daring Fireball]

Matt Haughey:

After 16 years of doing a bit of everything under the sun here, I’m stepping away from the day to day of running MetaFilter and moving into the background. Never fear, I’m leaving it in the best of hands and things are looking good for the future.

Godspeed, Matt. And thank you.

Unreal 4 for Animation [Daring Fireball]

Interesting not because of the film itself but the tool used to create it: Unreal Engine 4, with everything rendered at 30 FPS in real time. Via Sean Heber, who aptly notes:

It wasn’t that long ago that you’d only see this kind of quality in animated films. Now it’s realtime.

Tweet of the day [Don Surber]

Scoreboard 3-4-2015 [Don Surber]

Earworm alert in No. 9.

1. Congress fails to override the Keystone veto. We need a second politcal party, America. EVIL.

2. "Vladimir Putin wants to destroy NATO, says US commander in Europe Ben Hodges." Well, that's one thing he shares in common with Obama. EVIL.

3. 62% approve sending ground troops to fight the Islamic State. Fine, let them volunteer to go. Sorry, I have been down this road threetimes and every time the Americans get bored of the war. Any congressman or senator who votes to send ground troops and later opposes the war should be drawn an quartered. Hillary. Kerry. EVIL.

4. California state Supreme Court strikes down ban on where child molesters can live. Move them next door to each justice. Better yet, move the next door to the grandchildren of the justices. As NFIB vs. Sebellius showed, the Constitution no longer is worth the parchment it was printed on. EVIL.

5. Unsure is beating Elizabeth Warren in Florida presidential primary poll. That's reassuring. GOOD.

6. "Alabama high court orders halt to same-sex marriage licenses." You see there is this thing called The Law. Federal courts no longer recognize it, but it still applies in some state courts. GOOD.

7. "Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen's Submarine Finds Sunken World War II Warship." Submarine? With his money, he should have an aircraft carrier. GOOD.

8. "Defense secretary: ‘Mistake’ to have ‘blurted out’ Mosul offensive plans." No, the mistake was in not following through. The Obama administration, emboldening our enemies since 2009. EVIL.

9. A claim backed by fact:

(Sings) Teenage Muslim Lesbo Vampires. Teenage Muslim Lesbo Vampires.


10.  "A Chinese version of Saturday Night Live is set to be produced under a partnership between a Chinese video website and SNL producer Lorne Michaels." Hope the show isn't too lefty for the Red Chinese. GOOD.

From the blog:

11. "Saudi: Obama is the godfather of the prefabricated revolutions in the Arab world." Truth to power. GOOD.

12. "Facts not mentioned about guns." Washington Post story overlooks the state that allows concealed carry without a permit has the lowest gun murder rate. GOOD.

13. "Anti-cop narrative fails in LA." Pretty much a bank robber armed or unarmed is trouble. GOOD.

Today's American Vignette: "Xerox should have listened to George Pake."

Final score: GOOD 8, EVIL 5.

Matthew B. Ridgway, the man who succeeded General MacArthur [Don Surber]

American Vignettes looks at General Matthew B. Ridgway, the man who took over command when President Truman fired General of the Army Douglas MacArthur for insubordination. He later took over for General Eisenhower in Europe. Today marks the 120th anniversary of General Ridgway's birth.

Succeed has two meanings. One is the person who replaces another person. The other is the person who has success. General Matthew Bunker Ridgway succeeded General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, and proceeded to succeed in the battlefield.

General Ridgway was one of those overnight success stories 40 years in the making. He was a soldier, statesman and leader, the kind who led the Greatest Generation to victory in World War II -- and a less satisfying but important stalemate in Korea, where Ridgway led the Allied forces out of retreat.

Born at Fort Monroe, Virginia, on March 3, 1895, his father was a colonel in the artillery. General Ridgway wrote "my earliest memories are of guns and Marching men, of rising to the sound of the reveille gun and lying down to sleep at night while the sweet, sad notes of 'Taps' brought the day officially to an end."

At 18, he applied for West Point -- and failed the geometry test. A year later, he tested again and was admitted. In 1917, he graduated, married and began his life as a soldier. He saw stateside duty in World War I, and then came the long period of an underfunded and largely forgotten military. His assignments were exciting, mainly because he knew Spanish. He taught at West Point, served under General Teddy Roosevelt Jr. in the Philippines, oversaw an election in Nicaragua.

Ridgway also graduated from Command and General Staff School, and the Army War College. He caught the eye of Generals George S, Patton and George Marshall. Within a month of the United States entering World War II, Ridgway had his first star. In August 1942, he took over the 82nd Division, which was converting from infantry to airborne. Within a year, the 82nd Airborne was in Sicily,

The New York Times reported:
In North Africa in the spring of 1943, General Ridgway planned the Army's first major night airborne operation, part of the invasion of Sicily. The invasion, which began on July 10, 1943, led to in a rapid conquest of the western half of the island. By the end of the month all resistance had ceased.
That first airborne attack, involving paratroopers dropped from airplanes and troops flown into enemy territory on gliders, made American military history, but it was carried out with severe losses. Both enemy and Allied antiaircraft gunners shot down more than a dozen of the 82d's transport planes. These and other losses resulted from staff failure, mistaken instructions and the newness of such an operation.
As a result, General Ridgway, along with other airborne commanders like Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor and Gen. James M. Gavin, had a difficult time persuading higher command of the ultimate effectiveness of landing soldiers and equipment by parachute and gliders.
But the 82nd Airborne would get another chance. And this time General Ridgway would lead the battle by jumping into Normandy on D-Day, braving enemy fire. He was 49.

"I was lucky," the general later said. "There was no wind and I came down straight, into a nice, soft, grassy field. I recognized in the dim moonlight the bulky outline of a cow. I could have kissed her. The presence of the cow meant the field was not mined."

He was not the only general on the line on D-Day. His old boss, General Teddy Roosevelt Jr., was the oldest and highest ranking American general on the battlefield that day.

Ridgway was put in charge of all five airborne divisions as commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps. He led the corps through Operation Market Garden, and also pushed back the Germans in the Battle of the Bulge. In battle he brandished a grenade on one side of his chest, a first-aid kit on the other.

After the war, Ridgway was the U.S. Army representative on the military staff committee of the United Nations. This turned out to be pivotal, when the United Nations entered the Korean War in June 1950. It was quickly a mess. Within six months, the UN forces were in retreat from a relentless Chinese army. Then, in December 1950, Lieutenant General Walton Walker, commander of the Eighth Army in Korea, died in a jeep crash.

General Ridgway took over. General MacArthur, who was in charge of the Pacific, told him: "Eighth Army is yours, Matt. Do what you think best."

What General Ridgway thought was best was going on the attack.

Military historian Kennedy Hickman wrote:
Arriving in Korea, Ridgway found the Eighth Army in full retreat in the face of a massive Chinese offensive. An aggressive leader, Ridgway immediately began working to restore his men's fighting spirit.
Removing defeatists and the defensive-minded, Ridgway rewarded officers who were aggressive and conducted offensive operations when able. Halting the Chinese at the battles of Chipyong-ni and Wonju in February, Ridgway mounted a counter-offensive the following month and re-took Seoul. In April 1951, after several major disagreements, President Harry S. Truman relieved MacArthur and replaced him with Ridgway.
Promoted to four-star general, he oversaw UN forces and served as military governor of Japan. Over the next year, Ridgway slowly pushed back the North Koreans and Chinese with the goal of re-taking all of the Republic of Korea's territory. He also oversaw the restoration of Japan's sovereignty and independence on April 28, 1952.
The firing of MacArthur was necessary. He wanted to cross into China, which would have taken a war the world really didn't want to fight and widened it into World War III. Ridgway may have avoided a minefield on D-Day when he landed near that cow, but Korea was a minefield that he cleared merely by leading his men forward.

When Eisenhower resigned as the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, in May 1952, to run for president, Ridgway succeeded him. Small wonder that Pulitzer Prize winner Murray Kempton wrote of Ridgway's death in 1993 (at 98): "The Old Army is finally dead and departed. The funeral of Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway has to be its last rite. He was 98 and had buried every comrade who had served with him between the two World Wars and had been his command-fellows in the second of them. Ridgway was the Old Army; and it is peculiarly fitting for him to have been behind all his brothers arriving at the grave because he was the best of them."

In 1986, President Reagan awarded General Ridgway the Presidential Medal of Freedom, saying, "Heroes come when they are needed; great men step forward when courage seems in short supply. World War II was such a time, and there was Ridgway."

They call Korea the forgotten war, which would make General Ridgway the forgotten hero. America should be ashamed on both counts.

MacArthur and Eisenhower left big shoes to fill. General Matthew Bunker Ridgway fit them quite well.

All the previous American Vignettes.

Steam Gauge: Measuring the most popular Steam games of 2014 [Ars Technica]

When we first unveiled the Steam Gauge project last April, we were tracking just over 2,700 games released on Steam to that point. Since then, the library of games on Steam has ballooned to include more than 4,400 games by our count. That's incredible acceleration for a service that until recently was satisfied to grow slowly. For context, the last 18 months have seen as many new games added to Steam as the service's first 10 years combined.

All of that is to say, we're long overdue to see what Steam users have been buying and playing from that new crop of games. And that means diving back into our random sampling of public Steam data to estimate sales for all the Steam games released in 2014. We'll be slicing that data a number of ways in this piece and even providing a good deal of raw data for you to slice it up yourselves at the end if you wish.

If you haven't already, please look back at our original Steam Gauge piece for a detailed explanation of how we came up with the numbers referenced here. Keep in mind, while we feel these estimates are relatively reliable, they are still estimates. These figures may not precisely match the reality reported to and by individual developers. When we've been able to compare our estimates to actual reports, we find they overwhelmingly fall within 10 percent of each other in either direction. Also remember that PC games that aren't sold or registered on Steam don't appear in this data.

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“HBO Now” coming this spring for $15 per month, with Apple as launch partner [Ars Technica]

A source speaking to the International Business Times said that HBO will launch its standalone streaming service, called HBO Now, for $15 per month this spring with the premier of Game of Thrones. The company is also working with Apple to make Apple TV one of the launch partners for the service, the sources said.

HBO’s standalone streaming service has been greatly anticipated. For a monthly fee, viewers will be able to get HBO content without having to pay for an entire cable package. HBO’s long-standing relationship with pay-TV packages has prevented it from capturing key audiences, including younger people who may have never paid for TV service before and watch most of their entertainment online. HBO currently has a streaming service called HBO Go, but a bundled TV package is required for access.

HBO will serve up its content with the help of Major League Baseball’s Advanced Media platform, a decision that was made after the network decided to throw out its homemade streaming platform in late December. HBO's Chief Technology Officer Otto Berkes also resigned at that time.

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Imaging a supernova with neutrinos [Ars Technica]

There are lots of ways to describe how rarely neutrinos interact with normal matter. Duke's Kate Scholberg, who works on them, provided yet another. A 10 Mega-electron Volt gamma ray will, on average, go through 20 centimeters of carbon before it's absorbed; a 10 MeV neutrino will go a light year. "It's called the weak interaction for a reason," she quipped, referring to the weak-force-generated processes that produce and absorb these particles.

But there's one type of event that produces so many of these elusive particles that we can't miss it: a core-collapse supernova, which occurs when a star can no longer produce enough energy to counteract the pull of gravity. We typically spot these through the copious amounts of light they produce, but in energetic terms, that's just a rounding error: Scholberg said that 99 percent of the gravitational energy of the supernova goes into producing neutrinos.

Within instants of the start of the collapse, gravity forces electrons and protons to fuse, producing neutrons and releasing neutrinos. While the energy that goes into producing light gets held up by complicated interactions with the outer shells of the collapsing star, neutrinos pass right through any intervening matter. Most of them do, at least; there are so many produced that their rare interactions collectively matter, though our supernova models haven't quite settled on how yet.

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Netflix opposes data cap exemptions, except when it benefits from them [Ars Technica]

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings in 2012 accused Comcast of "no longer following net neutrality principles" by exempting its own online video service from data caps. "Comcast should apply caps equally, or not at all," Hastings argued.

But now Netflix has a chance to benefit from such differential treatment, and it's not turning the opportunity down. Netflix is launching its streaming video service in Australia on March 24, and its content will not count against data caps enforced by iiNet, a large Internet service provider there.

Customers "will have access to as much Netflix content as they like, without it counting against their monthly quota," iiNet announced yesterday.

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Probable Broadwell MacBook Air shows up in screenshots [Ars Technica]

We're drawing near to Apple's next product event, which means that leaks are starting to show up. Today, 9to5Mac posted screenshots from a Chinese forum that appear to confirm refreshed 2015 MacBook Airs. According to these screenshots, the "MacBook Air 7,2" is a 13.3-inch laptop that adds an Intel Broadwell processor and a slightly larger 7422 mAh battery, but it's otherwise mostly identical to the current 13.3-inch model. It's a fair bet that there's an 11-inch MacBook Air 7,1 that has been upgraded in similar ways.

While the source of these images can't really be verified and it's certainly possible to spoof these system information windows, the images themselves have all the details right. If they aren't the real thing, they're very good-looking fakes.

Let's run down the evidence in favor of them being real: first, the specs. This Mac is using a 15W Core i5-5250U processor with the HD Graphics 6000 GPU, which occupies the same space in Intel's lineup as the outgoing i5-4250U/4260U and their HD Graphics 5000 GPU. The Boot ROM version and SMC version values increase just a little from the 2013 model's, which is normal (the 2013 MacBook Air's are MBA61.0099.B18 and 2.13f15, respectively). Most convincingly, the build number of OS X 10.10.2 that the laptop is running is 14C2043. The standard build number on most current Macs is 14C109. Because new Macs require new drivers and other tweaks, they usually come with specialized builds of whatever the current OS X version is when they're first released. Those drivers are then rolled into the standard OS X releases in a future update.

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New CSI: Cyber show debuts on piracy sites ahead of broadcast [Ars Technica]

A new primetime CSI show about cyber crime is to debut Wednesday on CBS, but it's already making its way on to pirate sites.

Featuring Patricia Arquette, CSI: Cyber is about the Cyber Crime Division of the FBI that tackles illicit online behavior. Ironically, the first episode was available on Tuesday, a full day ahead of its scheduled premiere.

"The leaked footage comes from a high quality copy and doesn’t have any visible watermarks," according to TorrentFreak.

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Judge OKs $415 million no-poaching payout to Apple, Google employees [Ars Technica]

On Wednesday, US District Judge Lucy Koh granted preliminary approval for a settlement between four top tech companies—Apple, Google, Adobe, and Intel—and their former employees. The employees launched a class action suit against the companies after the Justice Department sued the top tech firms for anti-competitive labor practices in 2010.

The Justice Department had accused Apple, Google, and other top tech firms of agreeing not to approach each others’ engineers with better employment offers. The employees estimated that they collectively lost out on $3 billion in wages because competing companies would not give them better offers.

Lucasfilm, Pixar, and Intuit were also part of the original suit, but employees of those companies settled for $20 million early on in the suit.

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Oculus ready to go “full consumer” on Gear VR later this year [Ars Technica]

SAN FRANCISCO—At the Game Developers Conference today, Oculus CTO John Carmack announced that the Gear VR would be ready to move on from its confusing "innovator edition" branding and distribution for Gear VR to a full consumer model alongside the next Samsung product cycle, expected "around the end of the year."

"We have a plan, we have a date," Carmack said. "Oculus is going to go as hard as we can, to sell as many units as possible, to unleash the full marketing power of Samsung with the next edition of Gear VR."

While the upcoming consumer unit sounds like it will be targeted to work exclusively with Samsung's next mobile handset, Carmack said the release would accompany a sort of "back-unlock sales and promotion" of the previous Gear VR units. That sounds like Samsung will also start pushing consumer-facing Gear VR units for the Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy S6, but these plans were still unclear in Carmack's talk.

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FTC to award $25,000 for the best honeypot design to trap robocalls [Ars Technica]

On Wednesday, the Federal Trade Commission announced another contest to design a system to "identify unwanted robocalls received on landlines or mobile phones, and block and forward those calls to a honeypot."

The agency will select "up to five contestants" as part of what it’s calling "Robocalls: Humanity Strikes Back."

The first qualifying phase launches Wednesday and runs through June 15, 2015 at 10:00pm Eastern Time, while the final phase concludes at DEF CON 23 on August 9, 2015.

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Dentist who copyrighted patient reviews must pay $4,766 [Ars Technica]

A dentist who used a controversial contract to take "ownership" of her patient's reviews has been slapped with a court order to pay $4,766.

It's a not-entirely-satisfying end to a legal battle that began in 2011, when Dr. Stacy Makhnevich was sued by Robert Lee, a patient who challenged the arrangement. A company called Medical Justice created the contracts, which granted Makhnevich copyright for any potential patient reviews.

Medical Justice refused to defend the lawsuit, saying it was "retiring" that contract. Then Makhnevich literally made a run for it. Her own lawyers were unable to contact her, and she's been nowhere to be found since 2013.

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Theaters dig in heels, refuse to show Netflix’s Beasts of No Nation [Ars Technica]

Variety is reporting that four of the country’s largest theater chains are refusing to show Beasts of No Nation, an independently produced movie for which Netflix purchased the streaming and theatrical release rights for $12 million last week. Netflix is reportedly planning "a strong Oscar push" for the film, which stars Idris Elba. The company plans to make the movie available for streaming, but in order to be eligible for an Oscar, it must also have some form of theatrical release.

The theaters, though, aren’t interested. AMC, Carmike, Cinemark, and Regal all informed Variety that they won’t be screening the movie because the chains do not wish to show any movies that don’t conform to the traditional 90-day delay between a movie’s theatrical presentation and its availability in homes via disc or streaming.

Instead, quoting "insiders," Variety indicates that the movie will see a much more limited release in a few hundred smaller theaters, including the Alamo Draft House. Draft House CEO Tim League is quoted as saying he doesn’t mind the idea of showing movies in cinemas even if they’re available to people at home via streaming. "I think that argument is a little bit of a red herring," he said.

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Hillary Clinton ran private e-mail system while US secretary of state [Ars Technica]

Hillary Rodham Clinton used a private e-mail service with a non-government handle while US secretary of state—potentially putting her electronic communications at risk from hackers.

Clinton, a potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, has not publicly said why she used the private account—hdr22@clintonemail.com—for government affairs. But doing so raises security concerns and questions about whether the move was done to avoid disclosure of State Department communications under open records law.

A House committee is expected to issue subpoenas Wednesday about the issue.

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“Can I borrow your phone?” Hands-on with Mark Shuttleworth’s Ubuntu phone [Ars Technica]

BARCELONA, Spain—At the Canonical booth at Mobile World Congress, I had a chance meeting with Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical and spiritual leader of Ubuntu. I was actually at the booth to try out the new Ubuntu Edition of the Meizu MX4, a mid- to high-end smartphone, but all of the untethered devices had run out of battery—every phone, that is, except for Shuttleworth's.

"Can I borrow your phone for a while, then?" There was a brief pause while he processed the question, no doubt wondering what a perspicacious journalist would do with his phone, but then he nodded his assent and handed it over. We chatted for a while (he had some interesting things to say about the Ubuntu Edge, and I'm happy to report that he's an Ars reader) and then headed off for a meeting.

The Meizu MX4 is a shipping Android phone; it can be yours today for $450. Just like the Aquarius E4.5 that we wrote about a few weeks ago, Canonical is working with Meizu to make an Ubuntu Edition of the MX4. Inside the MX4 there's an octa-core Mediatek SoC, 2GB of RAM, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, LTE support, and all the usual bells and whistles you'd expect on a modern non-budget smartphone. The 5.3-inch, 1080p display is pretty darn impressive for a $450 device. The MX4 isn't as thin or light as the latest Apple or Samsung superphone, but it still feels like a solid, premium, well-balanced device. It doesn't have an SD card slot unfortunately, but it does have a removable battery.

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Fossil jawbone discovery is earliest evidence of human genus Homo [Ars Technica]

The hominin fossil record between three million years ago and two million years ago is thin, leaving a gap in our understanding of human evolution. Prior to three million years ago (called mega-annum, or Ma), there many fossils of Australopithecus, the apelike hominins that included the famous Lucy. By 2 Ma, there are multiple overlapping fossils clearly belonging to the genus Homo, the group that includes modern humans and all our most direct ancestors. Compared to Australopithecus, these creatures had larger brains, smaller jaws, and stone technology.

The gap is an important one, says Brian Villmoare, a physical anthropologist who analyzes facial characteristics of fossils. This is the period during which our ancestors made the important transition to the more adaptive patterns seen in Homo.

The discovery of a fossilized Homo jawbone, published in Science this week, sheds light on this gap in human evolutionary history. The fossil has features that classify it as belonging to the genus Homo, but it's approximately 2.8 million years old. This makes it 400,000 years older than the oldest evidence of Homo previously found.

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Sony’s new Project Morpheus prototype boasts 120Hz refresh rate, OLED display [Ars Technica]

Kyle Orland

SAN FRANCISCO—At a Game Developers Conference event today, Sony revealed more plans for the company's previously announced Project Morpheus VR headset, which will be coming in the first half of 2016.

While no prices or bundling details were announced, the device's improved specs were outlined by Sony Worldwide Studios president Shu Yoshida. Someone in the audience let out an audible "wow" when Yoshida started by revealing Morpheus' 120 Hz refresh rate and key display update. The screen is now an OLED display at 1920 x RGB x 1080, which Yoshida said means low persistence and removing motion blur from the old LCD. The device's screen is 5.7 inches, which is large enough for a 100 degree field of view. And the new design includes nine LED trackers to provide 360 degree tracking, according to Sony.

"With these specs achieved, we're one step closer to making VR a reality for games," Yoshida said. He went on to say that with the device "near final tech," there's finally a set of standards for developers to target.

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Welfare for Terrorists [The Other McCain]

He repaid British taxpayers by becoming an ISIS killer: Jihadi John and his asylum-seeking family have milked the British benefits system for 20 years, the Mail can reveal today. Housing the Islamic State executioner and his relatives in affluent parts of London has cost taxpayers up to £400,000. One landlord said Mohammed Emwazi’s family were ‘parasites’ […]

Zipper descending in, three, two... [halls of macadamia]

Just waiting for Justin Trudeau to whip out all his objections to this bill...just desserts

Reading the King v. Burwell transcript. [Althouse]

Here's the PDF of today's oral argument. I'm going to read it right now and give my immediate impressions.

1. Justice Alito topped Justice Kagan at page 11, lines 7-13. Kagan had just sprung her elaborate clerks-writing-memos hypothetical, and Alito said "Well... if I had those clerks, I had the same clerks ­­and Amanda wrote the memo, and I received it and I said, This is a great memo, who wrote it? Would the answer be it was written by Will, because Amanda stepped into Will's shoes?" Kagan had to respond to the laughter in the courtroom: "He's good."

2. Justice Sotomayor stumbles at page 16, line 2, after raising a principle of statutory interpretation from last year's Bond case (the chemicals-on-the-doorknob case, where the Court read a federal statute not to criminalize a matter that lay within the traditional powers of the state). She'd just spoken for a page and a half, and the petitioners' lawyer Michael A. Carvin was beginning to explain that this principle had never been applied in the context of a condition on federal spending. Sotomayor interrupted to "Oh, we did it -- ­­ we said it last year." But she just meant to repeat her point about Bond, which wasn't about conditional spending.

3. But it was that discussion of conditional spending that first lit up Justice Kennedy. He brought up the problem of a condition on spending that's so extreme that it should be read as coercion, and if it's coercion, it doesn't fit the conditional spending category at all. It is, in reality, regulation, and Congress lacks a power to require the states to set up the exchanges. Carvin weakly observes that the government hadn't made that that argument, and Kennedy says "Sometimes we think of things the government doesn't." This is the point discussed in my earlier post, which caused me to predict that the government would win the case, based on the constitutional avoidance move, to which, in fact, Kennedy Justice Scalia proceeds to refer: "If interpreting [a statute] one way is unconstitutional, you interpret it the other way."

4. Justice Scalia rushes to assist Carvin on that dangerous point raised by Kennedy. The constitutional avoidance doctrine is only used when you can find ambiguity in the statute. That's helpful, but it means Carvin must fend off all efforts to tease some ambiguity into the provision. Carvin stumbles at this point. He seems to think Kennedy was calling conditional spending into question. But Kennedy was only talking about conditions that are so dire that they are understood as requirements (that is, the feds have made the states an offer they can't refuse).

5.  Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor pummel Carvin about saying something different from what he'd argued in the previous Obamacare case, and the Chief Justice, at page 25, lines 10-12, makes a wisecrack that might not amuse those who don't like what he did back then: "Mr. Carvin, we've heard talk about this other case. Did you win that  other case?"

6. The Chief Justice, at page 27, offers Carvin "in extra ten minutes and maybe we'll give you a little bit more of a chance to talk," and Kagan, perhaps amusing herself, says "Well, then, I'll ask a  question." Carvin hears the cue that it's amateur comedy time and cracks: "Well, if you're going to ruin my ten minutes." And Kagan boldly speaks for a full page, mostly just repeating a point Justice Ginsburg had made earlier.

7. The standing question certainly seems to have dropped out of the case.

8. Nice line by the Solicitor General: "Their reading forces HHS to establish rump Exchanges that are doomed to fail."

9. The Solicitor General is luring the Justices into making sense of the statute, but Scalia resists, sarcastically: "There are no statutes that make no sense…. Every statute must make sense and we will ­­ we will twist the words as necessary to make it make ­­ that can't be the rule…. [I]s it not the case that if the only reasonable interpretation of a particular provision produces disastrous consequences in the rest of the statute, it nonetheless means what it says?" 

10. Justice Alito draws the Solicitor General into the question summarized at #3, above. The SG seems to stall for time by calling the question "novel." Kennedy is activated. He's serious about the coercion idea. The SG regroups: If this is a reason to interpret the statute "our way," go ahead, but he doesn't want to concede that the conditions are coercive. Also, if these dire consequences really were the incentive impose on the states, the states should have received clear notice. 


"In the shock scenario where Hillary bows out, the Democratic establishment would be initially stunned and directionless." [Althouse]

Says Bill Scher (at Politico), seeming to argue that some sort of order would emerge from the chaos, but — and I've read the whole thing — I'm really not sure what. Key passage:

As of now, says [Democratic consultant Chris] Lapetina. “there really isn’t any enthusiasm” for the non-Hillary Democrats already flirting with a run—Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb—meaning no one would instantly lay claim to the Clintons’ vast network of donors.

Still, the Democratic bench is hardly shallow. Among other possible candidates who might suddenly find a fire in their belly: Gov. Andrew Cuomo, former Gov. Deval Patrick, former Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Sens. Sanders, Mark Warner and Kirsten Gillibrand. Lapetina believes pressure would build for a few really big names to enter, such as Al Gore.

And then there’s Elizabeth....

In Re Another LOLsuit [hogewash]

The Dreadful Pro-Se Schmalfeldt served the following complaint (together with a summons) on me by mail.

I will post the exhibits at a later date on scribd.com and provide a link.

I don’t wish to make any substantive comment concerning this complaint until I have reviewed it more fully.

Ms. Schneider’s China estimate of the day [Marginal REVOLUTION]

Ms Schneider reckons that more than half of the world’s feed crops will soon be eaten by Chinese pigs.

That is from The Economist, via Scott Sumner, whose post is of interest more generally on numerous matters.  Scott also cites The Economist for telling us that in China smaller cities are more densely populated than larger cities.

New Jersey Deli Outrages Race-Baiting Leftists With His ‘White History Month’ Sign [John Hawkins' Right Wing News]

A New Jersey deli owner has outraged the far left by putting a hand-made sign in his shop window that proclaims March to be “White History Month” in his store.

Vote to Override Obama’s Veto of Keystone Pipeline Fails, But These Eight Democrats Voted Against Obama [John Hawkins' Right Wing News]

Bowing to the pressure of socialist, enviro-Nazis, Barack Hussein Obama vetoed the Keystone XL Pipeline despite that both houses of Congress passed the jobs/energy bill and most Americans approve of

Indoctrinating Our Kids: Muslim Holidays Now Being Added to New York City School Calendar [John Hawkins' Right Wing News]

New York’s Communist Mayor Bill de Blasio has now announced that the city’s school calendar will now include Muslim holidays. The mayor made his announcement on Wednesday. Mayor Bill de

VIDEO: This NBC Host Asks Ben Carson How Christian Faith and Science Coexist, and His Response is Perfection [John Hawkins' Right Wing News]

Liberals just love to pretend that Christians are drooling idiots who can’t square their faith with science. When Dr. Ben Carson was confronted with this idiocy on NBC’s Meet the

Government Union Warns Obama’s Lax Immigration Policy Is Virtually Guaranteeing An Attack Worse Than On 9/11 [John Hawkins' Right Wing News]

Indeed it does. I contend, it is an absolute certainty that there will be an attack of some form worse than 9/11 due to Obama’s policies… not just immigration, but

Wanted Suspect Taunts Police Officers on Facebook – But the Way the Sheriff Responds is the Definition of Epic [John Hawkins' Right Wing News]

Andrew Marcum was wanted by the Butler County Sheriff’s Office, and at first, he tried to play tough. But after taunting police on Facebook, Mr. Tough Guy ended up turning

Reverend Franklin Graham: A ‘Storm is Coming’ for American Christian Persecution (VIDEO) [John Hawkins' Right Wing News]

Islamic terrorists are routinely murdering innocent people in the Middle East, purely because they are Christians who refuse to submit to Islam — yet Obama will barely condemn these acts

5 Badass Things You Really Should Know About Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu [John Hawkins' Right Wing News]

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a very brave man, who has lived an incredible life. Yesterday’s speech before Congress was magnificent. He brought down the house before he even uttered

BREAKING: Dept. of Justice Clears Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson of Wrongdoing! Will Riots Renew? [John Hawkins' Right Wing News]

Will the riots renew? The Department of Justice has announced that couldn’t find any reason to indict the Ferguson, Missouri police officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Mike Brown last

Jihadi John’s family has been on state benefits for 20 years: How it’s cost taxpayers up to $600k to house fanatic and his relatives in upmarket areas [Video] [John Hawkins' Right Wing News]

Yesterday, I felt some sympathy for this family when they found out their son was a monster. I noted that he wasn’t made overnight and the family history had something

Hillary Email Scandal [John Hawkins' Right Wing News]

If you think Obama’s “transparency” has been opaque, imagine trying to see through President Shrillary’s. In order to keep her dirty deeds off the public record, the infamously unscrupulous politician

Response to Netanyahu’s Speech From Arabs and Democrats [John Hawkins' Right Wing News]

Yesterday Netanyahu spoke with the voice of reason against Obama’s terrifying policy of allowing the Islamist regime in Iran, the #1 exporter of terror in the world, to acquire nuclear

Media Ignores UN Climate Chief Who Says Global Warming is ‘My Religion’ [John Hawkins' Right Wing News]

So, the liberal media attacks everyone who claims to be religious, right? Yet, what have we heard about the UN climate chief who is running around claiming that global warming

Wyoming Now to Indoctrinate School Kids in Global Warming [John Hawkins' Right Wing News]

Wyoming may become the first state to force global warming on kids as part of a state enforced grade school curriculum. Worse, it is a Republican Governor who is signing

Obama ATF Now Planning to Ban Popular Rifle Ammo, Too [Video] [John Hawkins' Right Wing News]

This is so unconstitutional and it is outrageous behavior from Obama, the ATF and our government. If this ban stands, then a ban on all ammo will follow. And it

Atheist Journalist Lived a ‘Narcissistic, Profane’ Life — Until He Embarked on a Two-Year Investigation Into the Bible That Changed Everything [Video] [John Hawkins' Right Wing News]

Having been a Christian all my life, I can tell you that there is nothing in this world that I have found that gives me greater peace or moves me

[VIDEO] Hate Crime FAKED by Ohio Gay Rights Activist [John Hawkins' Right Wing News]

Wow. This guy is a special kind of stupid if he thinks he can get away with lying to the police, and putting all of this on social media. This

OUTRAGEOUS: Alabama BBQ Contest Officials Tell Pitmasters to Remove U.S. Flags [John Hawkins' Right Wing News]

What could be more American than southern BBQ, the U.S. flag, and competition? Well, in Alabama, BBQ contest officials are now outrageously demanding that contestants remove all American flags from

New Obama Weapons Shown Off by Al Qaeda [John Hawkins' Right Wing News]

Well, what a shock. Something that our ‘leader’ has decided to fund, has now crumbled. Pretty much the reverse Midas touch signature of this entire administration. Conservative Tribune reports: President

Sheriff Clarke Speaks Candidly: Eric Holder Is ‘Most Race-Obsessed Attorney General’ Ever [Video] [John Hawkins' Right Wing News]

I really admire Sheriff Clarke. He doesn’t hold back and tells it like it is. He’s right… Eric Holder is the most race-obsessed AG ever in the history of the

[VIDEO] Woman Brutally TORTURED For 7 Hours Ordered to Write Letters To Abuser [John Hawkins' Right Wing News]

One woman thought that her ordeal with her ex-fiancé was over. She thought that she and her children could move on, even though she still bore scars from the attack.

Los Federales Crack Down On Chinese Birthing Houses [John Hawkins' Right Wing News]

There’s apparently one group of illegals the Obama administration doesn’t like (Fox News) Airfare from the U.S. to China and a months-long stay in an Orange County, Calif., apartment: $80,000.

Caught using Alinsky tactics: Cincinnati ‘Gay’-rights activist Adam Hoover ‘fakes own abduction’ [John Hawkins' Right Wing News]

From The Last Tradition This was a classic Saul Alinsky tactic to make up fake incidents to draw attention and sympathy for their cause. Liberals lie all the time! World

Senator Cruz Rolls Out ObamaCare Alternative [John Hawkins' Right Wing News]

Wisely, this plan looks to be taking the best of all the Conservative ideas and putting them together (The Hill) Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Tuesday offered the latest in

CPAC’s Best & Worst Dressed 2015 Edition [John Hawkins' Right Wing News]

CPAC 2015 was another year where conservatives got together with one thing on their agenda: Politics. I show up, loving being among like minded individuals, ready to scope the fashion scene.

Going Bananas: A Case Study in Media-Manufactured Racism [John Hawkins' Right Wing News]

Political correctness is a pathological disorder. You can’t say “niggardly” or “black holes” or “chink in the armor” without provoking protests or risking your job. You can’t invoke the Constitution

Raping Culture [John Hawkins' Right Wing News]

A new documentary calls colleges like Harvard and Notre Dame “The Hunting Ground,” where rapists prey on women. A bipartisan group of senators demand new rules to “curb campus sexual

College Campus Update [John Hawkins' Right Wing News]

President Barack Obama wants Americans to dig deeper into our pockets to expand college education. Let’s update college indoctrination done in the name of education. Cornell University assistant professor Russell

Bibi Changes the Debate [John Hawkins' Right Wing News]

Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu totally changed the Iran/nuclear debate in his brilliant speech to Congress. Until he spoke, objections to the emerging draft treaty with Iran centered on technical,

If America Is Mars and Europe Venus, How Is Europe Doing? [John Hawkins' Right Wing News]

“Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus,” wrote Robert Kagan in “Of Paradise and Power,” published in 2003, just as the United States went into Iraq. Americans, he

Hundreds of Lawmakers Urge Against Proposed Ammo Ban [The PJ Tatler]

Via The Hill:

Second Amendment supporters in Congress are rallying against a controversial ammunition ban from the Obama administration.

Hundreds of lawmakers wrote to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) Wednesday, urging it to “abandon” a proposed ban on a popular armor-piercing bullet commonly used in AR-15 rifles.

The ATF’s proposed ban is intended to protect law enforcement officers from armor-piercing bullets and keep them out of harms way, but Republicans say the prohibition unfairly targets hunters, who sometimes use these guns.
“Under no circumstances should ATF adopt a standard that will ban ammunition that is overwhelmingly used by law-abiding Americans for legitimate purposes,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter to ATF Director B. Todd Jones.

The letter was signed by 239 House lawmakers, including Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and seven Democrats.

This follows the introduction last week of the Protecting Second Amendment Rights Act from Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) that would roll back the ATF’s power to regulate ammunition.

If he can’t do it through Executive overreach, President Obama is more than happy to let federal regulations run amok and choke the freedom out of America. He made gun control a focal point of his second inauguration speech and has spectacularly failed at getting anything done about it. Never mind the fact that the failures have come because the American people don’t support his fringe-left position on guns, this president does not like to be told “no”. The new Boehner/McConnell Republican majority just rolled over for the funding of the Obama’s amnesty plans, which makes one question whether he’s in for more than a strongly-worded letter on this issue.

U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Attacked by Blade-Wielding Assailant [The PJ Tatler]


(Yonhap News)

The U.S. ambassador to South Korea was attacked and wounded by at least one armed assailant on his way to a breakfast lecture event, according to Yonhap News Agency.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said his injuries are not life-threatening and there was “no known motive.” He’s being treated at a hospital.

South Korea’s YTN News reported that the attacker, armed with a razor blade, was heard yelling something about Korean unification. The assailant also reportedly said he was opposed to joint military drills being conducted by the U.S. and South Korea.

North Korea warned Tuesday that it could deter the U.S. by “conducting a pre-emptive strike.”

Lippert, 42, became ambassador in Seoul last fall. He used to be chief of staff to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and is close to President Obama, whom he advised on foreign policy in his first presidential campaign.


Ben Carson: Not Ready for Prime Time [The PJ Tatler]

As Barry Hussein reminds us every day, the presidency is not an entry-level job:

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson’s remarks on same-sex lifestyles are sparking more interest in the press than his announcement earlier this week that he has filed paperwork to run for the president of the United States.

In an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo that aired Wednesday, Carson dismissed comparisons between restrictions on gay marriage and slavery. ”People have no control over their race,” Carson said, adding that in his view people do have some control over their sexual orientation.

“Because a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight — and when they come out, they’re gay,” the former head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital said. “So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question.”

Leave aside the question of whether Carson is right or wrong in his statement; that’s not the issue here. The issue is: you don’t go marching into that  political box canyon in the first place. Remember that the media is going to try to make every potential GOP candidate look like an idiot, and the surest way to do that is via gotcha questions about sex or religion. The idea is to play into the media’s own stereotypes about conservatives and thus, in their eyes, validate them so that the paid operatives and mouthpieces of the progressive movement can proclaim themselves vindicated in their low opinion of conservatives yet again.

Ben Carson is a very impressive man, but he would be well served to forget running for the White House this year and maybe run for city council or mayor somewhere first. Otherwise he risks spoiling his own reputation and prematurely ending whatever career in politics he may one day have.

DOJ Exonerates Officer Wilson, Excoriates Ferguson Police in ‘Searing’ Report [The PJ Tatler]

The Justice Department said today that there isn’t evidence to support federal civil rights charges against Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, but issued a scathing report on racism within the Ferguson Police Department.

In a 105-page report, the DOJ found that the department “engaged in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the First, Fourth, and 14th Amendments of the Constitution.”

Addressing reporters moments ago, Attorney General Eric Holder addressed the Brown case first, stressing that “the promise that I made … was not that we would arrive at a particular outcome.”

“Our investigation has been fair and rigorous from the start,” Holder said, and found that Brown’s death “did not involve prosecutable conduct on the part of Officer Darren Wilson… I concur with the investigative team’s judgment.”

“These findings may not be consistent with some people’s expectations,” he acknowledged, but before passing judgment “I urge you to read this report in full.”

Al Sharpton’s National Action Network issued a statement saying they are “deeply disappointed” with the decision to clear Wilson.

The congressman who represents Ferguson, Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), said he was grateful that Holder investigated the Brown shooting in the first place.

“While I am extremely disappointed that Mike Brown’s killer will not face criminal charges, his death has forced our nation to begin a long overdue conversation on race and the disparities it continues to perpetuate for too many Americans,” Clay said.

And Holder stressed that the second federal investigation, which revealed a “widespread pattern” of discrimination at the department, was the real root of the Michael Brown protests.

The “searing” report found “a community that was deeply polarized” with “eroded police legitimacy” and residents who “feel under assault or under siege” by those who serve and protect, Holder told reporters.

That, he said, made the Brown shooting “set off like a powder keg” demonstrations against the department.

Holder said the review found city officials viewing law enforcement as a “tool for raising revenue” that “fostered unconstitutional practices at nearly every level.”

Ninety-three percent of arrests from 2012 to 2014 were of African-Americans though the community is 67 percent black. Eighty-five percent of traffic stops and 90 percent of citations issued were against African-Americans. Every case in which a police dog bit someone the person was African-American.

The report also addresses the local courts system, noting blacks were 68 percent less likely to have their case dismissed and are 50 percent more likely to have their cases lead to an arrest warrant.

Holder said constitutional violations included officers interfering with people recording police activity and the “common practice” of stopping pedestrians and requesting identification “for no reason at all.” Some stops started out as start “defensible” with proper cause, he said, but then would “blatantly cross the line.”

Investigators found “no other basis” for the patterns than “implicit and explicit racial bias,” Holder concluded. They also uncovered “a number of public servants” expressing racial or gender bias.

“Some community perception may not have been accurate” on the Brown case, Holder said, but on the broader concerns of racism in the police ranks “some of those protesters were right.”

Holder said the findings call for “immediate, wholesale corrective action” in Ferguson, and “nothing is off the table” as far as mandates.

The report states that “city officials have frequently asserted that the harsh and disparate results of Ferguson’s law enforcement system do not indicate problems with police or court practices, but instead reflect a pervasive lack of ‘personal responsibility’ among ‘certain segments’ of the community. Our investigation has found that the practices about which area residents have complained are in fact unconstitutional and unduly harsh. But the City’s personal-responsibility refrain is telling: it reflects many of the same racial stereotypes found in the emails between police and court supervisors. This evidence of bias and stereotyping, together with evidence that Ferguson has long recognized bu t failed to correct the consistent racial disparities caused by its police and court practices, demonstrates that the discriminatory effects of Ferguson’s conduct are driven at least in part by discriminatory intent in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

The email exchanges uncovered by investigators “involved several police and court supervisors, including FPD supervisors and commanders” and included one noting that President Obama wouldn’t be president for long because “what black man holds a steady job for four years,” one depicting Obama as a chimpanzee, and one that “included a photo of a bare-chested group of dancing women, apparently in Africa, with the caption, ‘Michelle Obama’s High School Reunion.’” Residents also told investigators of incidents when officers used racial epithets.

“While our investigation did not indicate that African Americans are disproportionately irresponsible, it did reveal that, as the above emails reflect, some Ferguson decision makers hold negative stereotypes about African Americans, and lack of personal responsibility is one of them. Application of this stereotype furthers the disproportionate impact of Ferguson’s police and court practices,” the report states. “It causes court and police decision makers to discredit African Americans’ explanations for not being able to pay tickets and allows officials to disown the harms of Ferguson’s law enforcement practices.”

Clay said the “disturbing findings” within the report “demand urgent remedies which must be swiftly implemented without obstruction or delay, and without further denials of the painful and undeniable facts.”

“It should serve as a template for transformational change, not just in Ferguson, but across this country,” the congressman added.

Jimmy Kimmel Unapologetic About Offending Anti-Vaxxer Loons [The PJ Tatler]

Good for him.

Jimmy Kimmel has an 8-month-old daughter, and he is sick and tired of all this anti-vaccination chatter lately, so he decided to do something about it.

The TV host made a PSA last week about why parents should be vaccinating their children. He preceded the video with a long speech about his pro-vaccine stance, and slammed celebs like Jenny McCarthy for speaking out against the practice.

Kimmel then played a PSA he shot that featured frustrated doctors blasting parents who don’t vaccinate.

And after the PSA aired, the Twitterverse erupted in angry messages directed at Kimmel, he revealed this week on his show.

Kimmel tackled the issue once again on Monday night, saying despite the scores of angry messages calling for him to apologize, he had no intention of saying sorry.

There are far too many cries for public apologies lately. Face it, the country has gone weak. Whether I agree with the celebrity or not on a given issue (and I do agree on this one), I am always happy to see one who won’t yield to reflexive outrage. Sometimes, you just have to be dismissive. Kimmel states perfectly why he is in this case:

“A lot of these groups are insisting I present both sides of the argument, and I am not going to do that either for the same reason I wouldn’t present both sides if a group of people decided that pancakes make you gay. They don’t, and there is no point in discussing it.”

NYC Public Schools to Get Muslim Holidays Off [The PJ Tatler]

Just don’t say “Christmas” on school property.

New York City public schools will now observe two Muslim holidays, officials announced Wednesday, making the district — the nation’s biggest — one of the few to put Islamic holy days on its calendar.

Under the change announced by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and city Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina, there will be no class for Eid al-Adha, also known as the Festival of Sacrifice, starting next September 24. Another Muslim holiday, Eid al-Fitr — a festival marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan — will become a holiday for those in summer school starting in 2016.

“This is a common-sense change,” de Blasio said Wednesday, “and one that recognizes our growing Muslim community and honors its contributions to our city.”

The decision affects some 1 million students in New York City. While it’s not known exactly how many of them are Muslim, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said that almost 1 million of the more than 8 million people in the city’s five boroughs practice Islam.

The move isn’t a surprise, given de Blasio’s campaign pledge to alter the school calendar with Muslim families in mind.

Leftists’ priorities would be pathetically amusing if they weren’t almost always ultimately destructive. Public schools aren’t supposed to be in the business of catering to a religious population anymore, remember? If a Christmas tree so much as passes within 500 feet of public property, radical atheists appear out of the ether with pitchforks in hand.

What is awful about the timing for this is that it plays into the false narrative that we need to be more sensitive to a religion that may or may not be telling its adherents to kill us because we really are the problem. Yes, there are a handful of moderate Islamist voices who claim that the violence isn’t an inherent part of the religion.

It’s difficult to hear them over the noise ISIS makes, however.

Politico Faces Its Worst Fear and Ponders a 2016 Without Hillary [The PJ Tatler]

Someone has abandonment issues.

Until now, Hillary Clinton’s run for the presidency has been viewed as pretty much a sure thing. But lately the road to near-certain nomination has taken a couple of rough turns, especially with the revelation that Clinton may have broken federal rules as secretary of state by communicating only on her private email account. Which makes us wonder: What if The Unthinkable did happen and she actually dropped out? What would be the Democrats’ response?

“Panic,” says Democratic consultant Chris Lapetina. Indeed, the biggest problem is that the Democratic establishment is apparently so terrified of the idea of a Hillary-less race—and the vicious primary that might result—it’s not even considering contingency plans. Political professionals, like military generals and crisis management experts, know that the way to avoid being blindsided is to prepare for every scenario. But while the Democratic National Committee has to officially remain neutral, much of the extraparty infrastructure has been moving ahead on the presumption of a Hillary campaign.

The Democrats are afraid of the no-Hillary option because their bench is thinner than Joe Biden’s hair before he got the plugs. All eyes would turn towards Elizabeth Warren at first, prompting an “elderly white woman for elderly white woman” straight-up swap for the party of youth and diversity. If the Hillary money went her way, the problem is solved. Warren, however, is a favorite of the Obama crowd, which isn’t always in sync with the Hillary crowd, so there is no guarantee that would happen.

The only reason to believe that the email problem will have a negative impact on Hillary is the fact that it was the New York Times that made it well known. Her Madameship’s minions can’t scurry about screaming about right-wing conspiracies on this one. Sadly, the Clintons are practiced lawbreakers and have never had any of their countless infractions stick.

My personal conspiracy theory here (pure speculation) is that the email scandal will only gain traction if power players inside the Democratic Party decide that Mrs. Bill needs to be nudged out in favor of Fauxcahontas.

Then it’s popcorn time.

Netanyahu Speech to Congress Leaves Only One Question on the Table: Do You Believe THIS Man? [The PJ Tatler]

Iranian Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khameini

The Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei is supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and ultimately the man with whom President Obama wants to make a deal on nuclear weapons development. (Seen here in front of a portrait of his predecessor, the Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini.)

Only one question remains after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu’s epic speech before a joint session of the U.S. Congress Tuesday, and it has nothing to do with Netanyahu, nor with U.S. President Barack Obama. The question is this:

Do you trust the Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei, the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran?

The question is not “Do you trust Khamenei to keep any deal on non-proliferation?” As Netanyahu pointed out, Iran is a danger if it breaks an agreement, but it’s an even great danger, albeit longer term, if it keeps its end of the bargain for the supposed 10-year compact. That’s because, freed from sanctions, it would emerge at decade’s end as a more prosperous nation, with long-range missiles and the capacity to build a nuclear weapon from its mothballed, but not destroyed, centrifuges, in less than 12 months.

As Bibi reminds us, we’re negotiating with Iran about nukes, but NOT about long-range missile development. Iran can already hit Israel, but it lacks transoceanic launch capabilities. Try not to think about that. It will only cloud your mind with thoughts of self-preservation.

In the speech to Congress, Netanyahu respectfully and forcefully answered all significant objections to his opposition to what he called “a bad deal” with Iran. In addition, the Israeli leader proposed a common-sense peace process that would give Iran the opportunity to prove that it really wants to join the community of nations, while safeguarding Israel, the Middle East, Europe and the United States from Iranian nuclear attack, on the off chance that the Islamic Republic turns out to be a jihadist revolutionary apocalyptic regime committed to destroying some or all of the above.

You see, while the media has focused on the supposed personal spat between the Israeli and U.S. leaders, ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether you like or trust Bibi Netanyahu or Barack Obama.

According to Wikipedia, Khamenei , like his nearly homophonic predecessor, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, has allegedly issued a fatwa against production, storage and use of nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, Khamenei  has presided over the construction of 19,000 nuclear centrifuges designed to purify uranium and plutonium to weapons grade. Officially (and laughably), Iran’s government purifies nuclear material to produce electricity, as it sits atop one of the world’s three largest petroleum reserves.

So, do you trust Khamenei  to idle not only his known centrifuges, but also his hidden sites? Do you trust the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic to suddenly become entirely transparent with the inspectors who will monitor the terms of the agreement?

If you said, “Yes,” do you know that Khamenei …

  • has repeatedly referred to Israel as “a cancerous tumor which should and will be cut out,”
  • has referred to Jewish leaders as subhuman,
  • leads a government that sponsors rallies to chant “Death to America” the “Great Satan,” and “Death to Israel,”
  • has supplied the weapons to kill thousands of U.S. troops, and that
  • Khamenei has said “the Holocaust is an event whose reality is uncertain and if it has happened, it’s uncertain how it has happened”?

Do you think the Islamic Republic of Iran, which in 1979 threw a modern Persian society back to the days when Muhammed was teaching camel wranglers how to wash their hands with sand after scraping the excreta from their keisters with stones — do you think these people now wish to find common ground with the civilization that they find immoral, repugnant and Satanic?

Remember, it’s not actually enough to trust Khamenei to keep his word, as Netanyahu points out, because Iran is a danger if it breaks the agreement, but it’s a potentially greater danger if it keeps the agreement.

What you have to believe is that Khamenei  has undergone a personal revolution, back to the future, and that he will lead his peace-loving Islamic Republic to do the same.

Do you believe?

The Greatest Hits from Netanyahu’s Address to Congress [The PJ Tatler]

Click here to view the embedded video.

The pundits have been going crazy since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of Congress today. What spoke loudest, though, was the thundering applause during some two dozen standing ovations for Bibi. And while much was made of Democrats being angry over the speech, there were just a couple of lines specifically related to President Obama’s nuke deal that made the majority of Dems sit out the ovation.

Here are some of Bibi’s best lines from the historic address:

TWEETING AYATOLLAH: “Today the Jewish people face another attempt by yet another Persian potentate to destroy us. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei spews the oldest hatred, the oldest hatred of anti-Semitism with the newest technology. He tweets that Israel must be annihilated — he tweets. You know, in Iran, there isn’t exactly free Internet. But he tweets in English that Israel must be destroyed.”

HEZBOLLAH: “For those who believe that Iran threatens the Jewish state, but not the Jewish people, listen to Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, Iran’s chief terrorist proxy. He said: If all the Jews gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of chasing them down around the world.”

IRAN’S NONEXISTENT MODERATION: “At a time when many hope that Iran will join the community of nations, Iran is busy gobbling up the nations. We must all stand together to stop Iran’s march of conquest, subjugation and terror. Now, two years ago, we were told to give President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif a chance to bring change and moderation to Iran. Some change! Some moderation! Rouhani’s government hangs gays, persecutes Christians, jails journalists and executes even more prisoners than before.”

IRAN AND ISIS: “Don’t be fooled. The battle between Iran and ISIS doesn’t turn Iran into a friend of America. Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam. One calls itself the Islamic Republic. The other calls itself the Islamic State. Both want to impose a militant Islamic empire first on the region and then on the entire world. They just disagree among themselves who will be the ruler of that empire. In this deadly game of thrones, there’s no place for America or for Israel, no peace for Christians, Jews or Muslims who don’t share the Islamist medieval creed, no rights for women, no freedom for anyone.”

MILITANT ISLAM: “The greatest danger facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons. To defeat ISIS and let Iran get nuclear weapons would be to win the battle, but lose the war. We can’t let that happen.”

CONCESSIONS: “Absent a dramatic change, we know for sure that any deal with Iran will include two major concessions to Iran. The first major concession would leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure, providing it with a short break-out time to the bomb. Break-out time is the time it takes to amass enough weapons-grade uranium or plutonium for a nuclear bomb. According to the deal, not a single nuclear facility would be demolished. Thousands of centrifuges used to enrich uranium would be left spinning. Thousands more would be temporarily disconnected, but not destroyed. Because Iran’s nuclear program would be left largely intact, Iran’s break-out time would be very short — about a year by U.S. assessment, even shorter by Israel’s. And if — if Iran’s work on advanced centrifuges, faster and faster centrifuges, is not stopped, that break-out time could still be shorter, a lot shorter.”

INSPECTIONS: “Inspectors knew when North Korea broke to the bomb, but that didn’t stop anything. North Korea turned off the cameras, kicked out the inspectors. Within a few years, it got the bomb…. Now, I know this is not gonna come a shock — as a shock to any of you, but Iran not only defies inspectors, it also plays a pretty good game of hide-and-cheat with them.”

PATH TO A BOMB: “That’s why this deal is so bad. It doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb; it paves Iran’s path to the bomb. So why would anyone make this deal? Because they hope that Iran will change for the better in the coming years, or they believe that the alternative to this deal is worse? Well, I disagree. I don’t believe that Iran’s radical regime will change for the better after this deal. This regime has been in power for 36 years, and its voracious appetite for aggression grows with each passing year.”

ARMS RACE: “This deal won’t be a farewell to arms. It would be a farewell to arms control. And the Middle East would soon be crisscrossed by nuclear tripwires. A region where small skirmishes can trigger big wars would turn into a nuclear tinderbox.”

THREE DEMANDS: “Before lifting those restrictions, the world should demand that Iran do three things. First, stop its aggression against its neighbors in the Middle East. Second, stop supporting terrorism around the world. And third, stop threatening to annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state… If Iran wants to be treated like a normal country, let it act like a normal country.”

HAGGLING: “Now, if Iran threatens to walk away from the table — and this often happens in a Persian bazaar — call their bluff. They’ll be back, because they need the deal a lot more than you do.”

BAD DEAL: “My friends, for over a year, we’ve been told that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well, this is a bad deal. It’s a very bad deal. We’re better off without it. Now we’re being told that the only alternative to this bad deal is war. That’s just not true. The alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal. A better deal that doesn’t leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure and such a short break-out time. A better deal that keeps the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in place until Iran’s aggression ends. A better deal that won’t give Iran an easy path to the bomb. A better deal that Israel and its neighbors may not like, but with which we could live, literally.”

STANDING UP TO TERROR: “You don’t have to read Robert Frost to know. You have to live life to know that the difficult path is usually the one less traveled, but it will make all the difference for the future of my country, the security of the Middle East and the peace of the world, the peace, we all desire. My friend, standing up to Iran is not easy. Standing up to dark and murderous regimes never is.”

A VOW TO ELIE WIESEL: “Elie, your life and work inspires to give meaning to the words, ‘never again.’ And I wish I could promise you, Elie, that the lessons of history have been learned. I can only urge the leaders of the world not to repeat the mistakes of the past. Not to sacrifice the future for the present; not to ignore aggression in the hopes of gaining an illusory peace. But I can guarantee you this, the days when the Jewish people remained passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over.”

STANDING TALL: “As a prime minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing: Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand…. You stand with Israel, because you know that the story of Israel is not only the story of the Jewish people but of the human spirit that refuses again and again to succumb to history’s horrors.”

Idiot Nobel Chairman Who Gave Obama a Peace Prize Receives Unprecedented Demotion [The PJ Tatler]

First time for everything.

The committee that awards the Nobel Peace Prize has demoted its chairman for the first time in the 114-year history of the award, after years of pressure from Beijing for his removal….

Mr Jagland also oversaw the controversial award handed to newly elected US President Barack Obama in 2009, shortly after becoming chairman that same year.

The move stunned the world and the recipient alike, as Mr Obama had been in office for fewer than nine months and the United States was still waging simultaneous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Mr Jagland said at the time that the organisation wanted to praise the US leader’s early vision of a world free of nuclear weapons and capture “the spirit of the times, the needs of the era”.

The article tries to blame it on politics but this is the first time in the award’s 114 year history that a chairman has been demoted. There certainly have been political shifts in Norway and on the committee in 144 years and no one else got canned. Maybe the Nobel laureate who had a vision of a world free of nuclear weapons can explain why he is so intent on making sure Iran gets some.

Bigfoot II [Judge John Hodgman]

Judge Hodgman and Bailiff Jesse tackle the reuse of ziptop bags, sleeping in jeans, Luddites, and creative work in today's docket clearing. Plus, Judge Hodgman admits to some monstrous behavior.

Google brings app messaging to its cloud [PCWorld]

Closing a gap with other enterprise cloud providers, Google has created a service to facilitate communications across applications that customers build on the company’s cloud platform.

The Google Cloud Pub/Sub service, made available as an open beta on Wednesday, is designed for exchanging messages across different Google cloud services and internal systems in great volume and with minimal delay.

The base service allows applications to dispatch missives to each other at a rate of up 10,000 per second. Google promises that the messages will arrive at their destinations in less than a second, even when customer systems are generating more than a million messages per second.

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Free game alert: The legendary 'Syndicate' is On the House at Origin [PCWorld]

Another month, another classic game given away for free as part of EA's "On the House" program: Syndicate. No, not the shooter from a couple years ago, but the legendary 1993 game from Bullfrog.

EA's apparently running down the list of famous Bullfrog games now, with the developer's Theme Hospital being used as the free title in January. That's not a bad thing, though—Bullfrog made some of the best PC games in history, and Syndicate is no exception.

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Microsoft's universal app platform is big play for mobile, but can it deliver? [PCWorld]

If Windows 10 is key to Microsoft’s effort to succeed in mobile, then the universal app platform is the technology that could make that happen. It promises to bring developers the cross-device nirvana they have long sought from Microsoft, but there are still challenges before Windows 10 can make headway against Android and iOS.

The universal app platform aims to let developers build one application that will work on PCs, tablets, smartphones, even the Xbox. It’s not a new concept for Microsoft, but the company insists that this time around it has got it right.

“The platform enables a new class of Windows universal apps—apps that are truly written once, with one set of business logic and one UI,” said Kevin Gallo, Microsoft’s technical lead for the Windows Developer Platform, in a blog post this week.

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Google, Yahoo offer online tools to keep address books current [PCWorld]

Google and Yahoo are both embracing the card format to help people better organize the contact information they store online.

Google is updating Contacts, which functions as an address book for communication software like Gmail and Hangouts.

The revamped Contacts, available in a preview version, will make it easier to keep track of a person’s contacts by pooling information stored in various Google services, the company said in a blog post Tuesday.

Google gave Contacts an interface overhaul based on the company’s material design language, which emphasizes showing information in card-like displays. This design appears in other Google products, including the Inbox mail service.

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Facebook wants to get better at detecting fake profiles [PCWorld]

Facebook is taking steps to improve how it detects fake profiles, particularly those created by people claiming to be someone else.

Fake profiles are a real challenge for Facebook, especially in developing markets. For example, in India there is a significant problem with men creating profiles that impersonate real women, a violation of Facebook’s rules. This makes some women afraid of creating profiles.

It’s part of a larger problem in India, where more men are on the Internet than women in comparison to other parts of the world, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg said Wednesday.

Facebook, Zuckerberg said, is tackling this problem and trying to become faster at flagging fake profiles, in part by getting better feedback from its users.

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Amazon's next cloud conference set for October in Las Vegas [PCWorld]

Motorola's president lauds the Lenovo acquisition and disses smartwatches with LTE [PCWorld]

BARCELONA—Don’t cry for Motorola. The company continues to make solid gear, and it’s finally starting to feel at home within the Lenovo product family. At least that’s the message from Rick Osterloh, Motorola’s president.

Osterloh spoke at a Mobile World Congress press event on Wednesday. The company hosted a similar sit-down at last year’s show, and this year Osterloh seemed more optimistic as Motorola embraces its future under Lenovo’s wing.  Osterloh didn’t drop any bombshells, but here are some key excerpts from his chat.

On the Lenovo and Motorola partnership

“Motorola is organized as a mobile business group within Lenovo. We’re a fully intact business much like we were with Google. Strategically, we’re organized this way to maximize flexibility, and we’re sharing our supply chain function, which is a source of huge leverage. So we’ll do platforming and joint procurement and stuff like that [while taking advantage of] Lenovo’s amazing manufacturing prowess.”

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Rejoice! Xbox One wireless controller adapter finally coming to Windows PCs [PCWorld]

Phil Spencer, head of Xbox at Microsoft, announced during a GDC presentation on Wednesday that we'll finally get a wireless adapter for Xbox One controllers later this year, enabling use on Windows without a USB tether.

This is huge news because it'll be the first time Microsoft has made it easy to use any Xbox Controller wirelessly on Windows in years. The Xbox 360 controller had a wireless Windows model for a while, but Microsoft stopped making the adapter easily available a few years back, making it easier to buy a wired 360 controller instead.

The push for wireless on Windows is part of Microsoft's effort to unify the Xbox and Windows ecosystems—or, rather, to keep the Xbox semi-relevant to PC gamers. The 360 controller earned its place as the favored Windows controller early on in the console's lifecycle, but anecdotally it seems like most PC gamers have stuck with the 360 controller or moved over to the PlayStation 4's DualShock 4 this generation.

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Republican lawmakers question FCC budget after net neutrality vote [PCWorld]

Some Republican lawmakers questioned the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s new budget request Wednesday, with a couple of them attempting to tie the agency’s funding to its controversial net neutrality vote days ago.

The FCC’s vote last Thursday to impose new net neutrality rules on broadband providers will likely face a court challenge, Representative Bill Johnson, an Ohio Republican, said during a hearing before the communications subcommittee of House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Defending the net neutrality order “will not be costless,” Johnson said. “Wouldn’t the commission have saved a significant amount of money if it had let Congress legislate on net neutrality instead of moving forward an ill-fated ... order that it knows is going to be litigated for years?”

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Intel's full speed ahead on Skylake chips for tablets, PCs, servers [PCWorld]

Intel has revealed more details about its next-generation chip code-named Skylake, indicating it will go into a broad range of tablets, PCs and servers.

Intel has hailed Skylake as its most important chip architecture in a decade and now says that it will be used in mainstream Core i3, i5 and i7 PC processors as well as Xeon server chips.

The first Skylake chip is expected to be Core M, designed to be used in Windows as well as Android tablets and hybrids.

The first Skylake PCs are expected to be available in the second half this year. Dell, for example, has said it will launch Skylake laptops in that time frame. Intel’s chips are used by most PC makers.

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Suddenly, net neutrality doesn't look so great for 5G [PCWorld]

Net neutrality and 5G may be on a collision course as the mobile industry tries to prepare for a wide range of mobile applications with differing needs.

The net neutrality rules passed by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission last week have raised some eyebrows at Mobile World Congress this week. The full text of the rules isn’t public yet, but mobile movers and shakers are having their say. The latest questions involve 5G, the next-generation standard that everyone here is trying to plan for.

The most common thing they think 5G will have to do is to serve a lot of different purposes. Regulators’ attempts to ban “fast lanes” and other special treatment might make that impossible, people who’ve been thinking about 5G said Wednesday.

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The other guys: Canonical and Jolla trot out alternatives to Android, iOS [PCWorld]

Four smartphone OSes that hope to find room next to Android and iOS were on display at Mobile World Congress, but the most exciting were Ubuntu Phone and Sailfish OS.

Apple and Google have further tightened their grip on the smartphone OS market; they had a market share of 96.1 percent last year, up from 94 percent in 2013, according to Gartner. However, that hasn’t deterred Mozilla, Samsung Electronics, Canonical and Finnish start-up Jolla from developing their own OSes.

At Mobile World Congress they all showed commercial devices for the first time. Mozilla’s Firefox OS and Samsung’s Tizen have user interfaces that are very reminiscent of Android, but Canonical with Ubuntu Phone and Jolla with Sailfish have been either brave or stupid enough to try something different.

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Google is ditching Chrome support for Ice Cream Sandwich devices [PCWorld]

Google is putting Chrome into a deep freeze for those running Android 4.0. 

Chrome 42 will be the last update for devices with Ice Cream Sandwich, a nearly four-year-old version of Android. Google says on the Chromium Blog that you’ll still be able to use Chrome if you have an older device, but Chrome 42 will be the last release through the Play Store. 

On an FAQ page, Google says supporting Ice Cream Sandwich requires too many compromises, with workarounds and complex code required to keep older devices on board.

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Nvidia surprise launches the 12GB GeForce Titan X, 'the most advanced GPU ever' [PCWorld]

Nvidia chief executive Jen-Hsun Huang strolled on stage at a Game Developer Conference presentation from Epic Games, casually announced the new flagship GeForce Titan X graphics card, autographed it, and left.

So that happened.

After spending the better part of two hours launching its Nvidia Shield gaming set-top box/console on Tuesday night, Huang took everyone by surprise when he launched the Titan X on Wednesday morning. 

“We have launched the most advanced GPU ever but and [given] the first one to Tim Sweeney,” the founder of Epic Games, Huang said on stage. After announcing the Titan X and some of its specs, Huang autographed the massive GPU module with a flourish—“To Tim, with love, Jen-Hsun” waved goodbye, and left.

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IBM acquires AlchemyAPI to fatten Watson portfolio [PCWorld]

IBM has acquired computing services provider AlchemyAPI to broaden its portfolio of Watson-branded cognitive computing services.

AlchemyAPI’s set of services could help developers augment their applications with machine-learning capabilities typically too complex to maintain in-house.

IBM is banking on a great need for such services. Cognitive computing will generate $50 billion in IT business within the U.S. alone, according to consulting firm Deloitte.

AlchemyAPI was founded in 2005 to provide computing services accessed over the Internet by a set of APIs (application programming interfaces). Approximately 40,000 developers have used AlchemyAPI’s services.

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Government hustles to enact privacy rules for drones [PCWorld]

The U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration plans to host a series of meetings with interested people aimed at developing best practices for protecting privacy in the burgeoning aerial drone industry.

The NTIA will launch what it calls a “multistakeholder process” focused on drone privacy standards in the coming months, the agency said. The NTIA on Wednesday opened up a request for comments on discussions aimed at developing privacy best practices for both the commercial and private use of drones, sometimes called unmanned aircraft systems.

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Is this “Eric Hoteham”? [Power Line]

(Scott Johnson)

This morning the AP identified one “Eric Hoteham” as the mysterious gentleman who registered the Internet address for Madam Hillary’s private email server at the Clintons’ Chappaqua home. That would be the server that housed Madam Hillary’s official State Department emails since August 2010. Some other server must have handled her official business before then. I thought that Mr. “Hoteham” must be a close relative of someone named “Rodham.”

As of this morning, the AP tactfully described Mr. Hoteham as of “mysterious identity.” The AP reporters have silently updated their story to add a little color to the identity of the mysterious Mr. “Hoteham,” but Brent Scher really zeroes in on a former Clinton flack named Eric Hothem. Scher’s Free Beacon article reasonably asks “Is the mysterious “Eric Hoteham’ actually long-time Clinton adie Eric Hothem?”

Good question! I think we’ll find out soon enough. In the meantime, pull up a chair and get out the popcorn.

On Hillary’s Emails, Marie Harf Struggles But Hillary Explains [Power Line]

(John Hinderaker)

Hillary Clinton’s personal email system is the big story of the day. We have belatedly learned that Hillary had no official State Department email account during her tenure as Secretary. Instead of using the government’s email system, she had a server installed in her home and administered her own private email account. Some of her aides also had accounts on Hillary’s private system, which used the domain name clintonemail.com.

At the State Department, spokeswoman Marie Harf struggles to explain to reporters why this was all kosher. To be fair, the reporters are not exactly incisive, either. The point that Harf finally brings out is that State Department employees have two separate email systems, one classified and one unclassified. But Hillary didn’t use either of them, which means that either 1) in four years, the Secretary of State never sent or received any emails that were or should have been classified, which is preposterous, or 2) Hillary has (or had) an unknown number of classified emails on her personal home server, which presumably violates various laws and regulations. Here is the ineffable Ms.Harf:

Actually, though, there isn’t much of a mystery. At a private party that happened to be caught on tape, Hillary explained–back in 2000!–that she had stopped using email because of “all the investigations.” Start at around the 3:30 mark:

As Secretary of State, Hillary came up with an even better alternative: use email, but keep it off the government servers so you can destroy anything that might be inconvenient, and control what gets produced if those troublesome investigations should resume.

Dem Filibuster Succeeds, House Gives Up On Defunding Executive Amnesty [Power Line]

(John Hinderaker)

The news was so heavy yesterday that I held off on commenting on the House vote to fund the Department of Homeland Security through the end of the fiscal year, with no exclusion of the administration’s executive amnesty. Some observations on the vote:

1) The roll call was 257 to 167, with all Democrats voting “yes,” but only 75 Republicans. This has prompted speculation about Boehner’s standing with his caucus. I doubt, however, that a serious challenge to his leadership will be mounted any time soon.

2) The practical urgency of defunding executive amnesty is diminished by the Texas federal court’s preliminary injunction barring implementation of the amnesty. I think it unlikely that a stay will be imposed on the court’s order by the court of appeals; the remaining question will be whether the scofflaw Obama administration will simply disregard it, and proceed in violation of the order. I don’t think that is likely, either. If those assumptions are correct, the defunding is arguably moot. See, however, Senator Jeff Sessions’ comments on the obligations of Congress, which are quoted below.

3) The bottom line here is that the Democrats’ Senate filibuster succeeded. The House funded DHS through the end of the fiscal year, and Mitch McConnell tried repeatedly to bring the House bill up for a vote, but was stymied by the Democratic filibuster each time. It was the filibuster that prevented DHS from being funded, yet the press generally blamed Republicans for the impending shutdown. This makes no sense, but if those are the rules, Republicans should remember them next time they are in the minority. In the meantime, this episode has added steam to the “abolish the filibuster” sentiment now growing among Republicans.

In anticipation of the House vote yesterday, Jeff Sessions released this statement. I find what he says to be pretty much inarguable:

The Democratic Party has been completely unified in its defense of the President’s amnesty in the face of overwhelming public opposition—and in the face of the President’s own repeated declaration that his conduct was illegal.

They voted in unison, messaged in unison, and their outside allies have launched third-party attacks against Republicans.

As a result, our Constitution continues to be eroded, our immigration system continues to slide into anarchy, and our constituents continue to suffer the debilitating loss of their jobs and wages.

Essential to any sovereign nation is the enforcement of its borders, the application of uniform rules for entry and exit, and the delivery of consequences for individuals who violate our laws. President Obama has nullified those laws, rules, and borders, and replaced those consequences with rewards.

The President’s decree provides illegal immigrants with work permits, trillions in Social Security and Medicare payments, and billions in free cash tax credits—all benefits explicitly rejected by Congress. This takes jobs, benefits, and work opportunities directly from struggling and forgotten workers.

The will of the American people cannot be forever denied. Republicans will have to come to realize that it falls on their shoulders to give voice to the just demands of the American people for a lawful system of immigration that serves their interests, defends their jobs, protects their security.

Nor can we allow the President to dismantle the constitutional powers of Congress, ceding our status as a coequal branch, on the hope the Judiciary intervenes to restore some fraction of that lost authority. When it comes to defending our sovereignty there is no “moving on.” Now is not the time for recrimination; now is the time for renewed determination. What motivates and excites a small group of open-borders billionaires has no connection to the hearts and lives of the working people of this country. They have been silenced for too long. Those who think this fight is over could not be more mistaken; it is only beginning. When the power of the American people is finally leveraged, people will be astonished by the results.

Note the echo of the great John Paul Jones, a bit of inspiration on a day when we badly need it.

Tammany Hall Redux: The Clinton Political Machine [Ed Driscoll]

“I would argue, the Clinton operation counts as a machine — not just as a metaphor or allegory, but as a bona fide, contemporary update of the old 19th-century operation,” Jay Cost writes at the Weekly Standard:

A lot of people were wondering what public business she was conducting on a private account. What I wanted to know was: what private business did she not want to conduct on a public account? If given three guesses, I’d say: politics, politics, politics.

There’s a historical parallel here with the Cameron Machine of Pennsylvania, which formed in the 1870s and lasted, in one form or another, until the 1920s. Simon Cameron was Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of War, but was basically fired in 1862 for facilitating graft. Yet he was a political maestro who had grown wealthy by trading on his governmental stature, and he was able to buy his way back into politics. In 1867, he defeated popular wartime governor Andrew Curtin for a Senate seat. This was back when senators were chosen by state legislatures, so Cameron won by persuading or buying off members of the Pennsylvania house and senate. He eventually became a powerhouse during the Ulysses Grant Administration — with control over Pennsylvania patronage, veto authority over executive officers, and a huge, loyal following (the Cincinnati Times estimated at one point that hundreds of people in Washington owed their position to him). He even prevailed upon Grant to name his son, J. Donald, secretary of war, even though Don had no experience to speak of.

Much of this is reminiscent of the Clintons — the initial fall from grace, the careful management of political contacts, the accumulation of wealth via political channels, the carefully run political shop, and especially the nepotism. And also, the cheesy scandals that embarrassed Simon Cameron but never brought him down. Cameron was caught up in a scandal trying to defraud the Winnebago tribe, and later on the House censured him for bilking the War Department — but it barely ever slowed him down. Sound familiar?

So, ultimately the question is: how is a machine liked this stopped? Unfortunately, the only thing that brought down Cameron, Inc. was the Great Depression. It survived the outlawing of the spoils system, the direct election of senators, and even the entirety of the progressive movement against the machines. It even survived the Camerons themselves. That is how powerful it was.

But a machine is only as strong as its component parts, which brings us to our exit quote: “If your lying liar pants on fire source worked with me at a federal agency as you and they contend, did you ask them to provide even a single email exchange with my using that account?”

It’s likely not a good idea at all for someone affiliated with the Clintons to reference pants; it’s poor salesmanship, to paraphrase Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca.

Update: A video reminder that Clinton Inc. is a multinational machine:


CNN Pre-Spins DOJ Report That Vindicates Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson [Ed Driscoll]

Last night, CNN aired a report claiming systematic racial bias in Ferguson, which I watched at the gym last night while being force-fed my daily half-hour ration of the Most Busted Name in News on the two-way Ministry of Truth telescreen above the treadmill. Watching it begged the obvious question, which of course CNN won’t answer: even if it’s true, what does that have to do with a man who robbed a convenience store, strongarmed the clerk, resisted arrest and died while trying to steal a police officer’s gun?

Answer: smokescreen, baby. “Must read: DOJ report totally vindicates Darren Wilson in Michael Brown shooting,” Allahpundit writes today:

Lots more at the link about how the most damning witnesses against Wilson, the ones who claimed Brown did nothing more than try to surrender, were easily exposed as liars once their stories were compared to the physical evidence and testimony from others. I’m imagining Eric Holder, who went to Ferguson promising to bring the “full resources” of the DOJ to bear on this investigation, rubbing his temples as he read through to the end of what his deputies had concluded. But then, as Ace says, that’s why Holder hedged from the outset by promising to investigate the Ferguson police generally for wider racial bias. He was smart enough to know that a civil-rights investigation of Wilson, which was always a longshot, could blow up on him completely by generating the sort of total acquittal that we’re seeing in today’s report. He needed a political consolation prize. No wonder he released that report yesterday, before this one. [Emphasis mine -- Ed] Imagine if the “Wilson was innocent” results had dropped today as the sum total of the DOJ’s work so far.

Exit question: Would Eric Holder, after reading this report, have brought charges against Wilson if he had been the St. Louis D.A.? Bob McCulloch, the St. Louis prosecuting attorney, ate mountains of crap from the left when he couldn’t obtain an indictment. Does Holder think he could have, or should have?

As Ace sardonically asks, with Wilson vindicated, “What am I expected to do with this information?”

Well, riot, I guess.

And Holder and Obama do want those riots, because any riots empower Obama and Holder, and give the rioters an outlet for their rage (and thus will not hold it against Obama and Holder that they’re not prosecuting Wilson).

This crew is actually willing to sacrifice some mid-sized cities rather than take a small PR hit.

I would expand “this crew” to also include their enablers in the MSM, who seemed gleeful to gin up the riot in November, and are doing everything they can to make the rubble bounce today.

Gray Lady Insults Servants [Ed Driscoll]

“Which New York Times Employees Are Treating Their Janitors Badly?” asks Gawker:

From: [Redacted]
Date: Mon, Mar 2, 2015 at 9:35:43 AM
Subject: Hi

I work as a janitor at The New York Times. On Friday night around 2am I was harassed by employees of The Times who were getting drunk in one of the offices of the floors I clean. Besides calling me creepy and implying that I would harm them somehow, they also threw a garbage can full of Chinese food all over the ladies bathroom right after I cleaned it.

I don’t know if you guys could use a story like that but I figured you’d find that interesting.

Is the story true? On the one hand, it’s Gawker. On the other, it’s the New York Times, whose journalists and editors act as if they’re still in junior high and refer to entire swatches of America as “The dance of the low-sloping foreheads.” Survey says…well, we certainly wouldn’t be surprised if it’s true, let’s put it that way.


Dispatches from Hillary’s Homebrew Email Server [Ed Driscoll]

So yesterday, the spin from team Hillary is that hey, she’s getting up there; she hasn’t driven a car since the mid-1990s, she doesn’t do new technology all that well. Email accounts? They’re so complex to set up. Today? AP reports that Hillary had her own private email server while Secretary of State, as Seth Mandel writes at Commentary:

First, the latest: not only did Hillary Clinton exclusively use private email addresses to avoid transparency and record keeping. She, as the AP reveals today, operated her own server at her home:

The computer server that transmitted and received Hillary Clinton’s emails — on a private account she used exclusively for official business when she was secretary of state — traced back to an Internet service registered to her family’s home in Chappaqua, New York, according to Internet records reviewed by The Associated Press.

Later, the AP explains why she did it, and how great of a security risk it was:

Operating her own server would have afforded Clinton additional legal opportunities to block government or private subpoenas in criminal, administrative or civil cases because her lawyers could object in court before being forced to turn over any emails. And since the Secret Service was guarding Clinton’s home, an email server there would have been well protected from theft or a physical hacking.

But homebrew email servers are generally not as reliable, secure from hackers or protected from fires or floods as those in commercial data centers. Those professional facilities provide monitoring for viruses or hacking attempts, regulated temperatures, off-site backups, generators in case of power outages, fire-suppression systems and redundant communications lines.

As Mandel writes, “with latest revelations that for purposes of digital communication Hillary essentially ran her own parallel government, it’s clear that Clinton’s ethical lapses should also be a scandal for President Obama:”

Obama didn’t think much of Clinton’s experience abroad*. HRC notes Obama’s belief that Hillary’s sense of worldliness amounted to “what world leader I went and talked to in the ambassador’s house, who I had tea with.” In Obama’s estimation, Hillary was not up to the task of being a top figure on the world stage.

But Obama wasn’t looking necessarily for competence or experience. His view in piecing together his team has always been about sidelining critics and rivals. So, fully aware that Hillary was unqualified, he asked her to be secretary of state. Allen and Parnes write:

Obama wanted Hillary on his team, and in making the case to his own aides, he knocked down the argument he had made on the trail that her experience was limited to tea parties. As important, having Hillary on the inside would let Obama keep control over perhaps the nation’s most potent political force other than himself.

Except it wouldn’t. Sometimes the Clintons’ parallel government works in Obama’s favor, such as Clinton’s Benghazi disaster. Her independent email server and private addresses enabled her to hide her correspondence on the attack, which also shielded the rest of the administration from that scrutiny. Obama is infamously secretive about his own records and his administration’s unprecedented lack of transparency was a good match for the Clintons.

And this latest development should be fun: “House committee to subpoena e-mails from Clinton’s personal account,” the Washington Post reports:

A House investigative committee is preparing to send out subpoenas later Wednesday to gather a deeper look into former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton’s nearly exclusive use of personal e-mails to do her official business as the government’s top diplomat, according to people familiar with the probe.

The House Select Committee on Benghazi, which first discovered Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail based on a home server in its inquiry into a fatal 2012 terrorist attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, is asking for all e-mails related to the attack from all Clintonemail.com accounts and any other staff members’ personal accounts.

The subpoenas are expected to go out to the State Department later Wednesday. The move escalates the panel’s conflict with Clinton and could complicate her expected run for president.

Beyond playing the expected wounded victim card, how will the Clintons not comply? Will they go the Lois Lerner “the dog ate my email server” route? Will they simply flat out refuse? Will lots of emails be deleted or redacted somehow? I’m sure they’ll find a way to checkmate this, or at the least employ some sort of modified limited hangout.

Because from Team Hillary’s point of view, really, what difference at this point, does it make? As Allahpundit writes:

The point about how early it is in the campaign and consequently how little people will remember about this by election day 2016 is right on. A few righties on Twitter yesterday were kicking around the theory that Team Hillary exposed the private e-mail account themselves, just so that they could get this out there now, take their beating for a week, and then let the media forget about it. I doubt that’s right — if they wanted to leak this, they wouldn’t have handed the credit for it to Trey Gowdy’s Benghazi committee — but they would have leaked it eventually, likely sooner than later, knowing that voters have short memories about most scandals. That’s especially true for Bill and Hillary, whose brand already has plenty of scandal built in. If you vote for Her Majesty in 2016, you do so with absolute assurance that her administration will be one ethical clusterfark after another because that’s who the Clintons are and that’s how they roll. If you’re okay with that then by definition you’re okay with her conducting America’s diplomacy off the books. If you’re not okay with that, and you shouldn’t be, then you probably gave up on the Clintons sometime around 1995. The only reason there’s a bipartisan flavor to the current outrage over her e-mail corruption rather than unified wagon-circling on the left is because there’s still hope among progressives that Elizabeth Warren can be convinced to run. They’ll add some blood in the water if they think it might attract Warren. Once she’s definitely out, though, they’re out of the Clinton ethics-watching business too.

Vox, the Politico and Bloomberg are all certainly “Ready for Hillary,” to coin a phrase; perhaps this defense of the Queen Bee is coalescing on the JournoList:


Meanwhile, David Brock spins into action in a bumbling attempt to defend Hillary on MSNBC, pondering many questions about his strange appearance, and one answer: Now we know which Democrat inherited the late Jim Traficant’s sky-high hair

* And in 2008, he was such a great judge on these matters himself…

Link of the Day: Truth Is, College Is for Suckers [IMAO]

[High Praise! to American Digest]

Off The Wall

Click on “see more” when you get there.

[Think you have a link that’s IMAO-worthy? Send it to harvolson@gmail.com. If I use your link, you will receive High Praise! (assuming you remember to put your name in the email)]

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Patience Really Is a Virtue [IMAO]

The US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, said that defeating ISIS will “require more patience”.

Yes. Remember to take your time: inhale – exhale – sight picture – squeeze.

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Obama Warned Us – For a Higher Purpose [IMAO]

“I’m not pushing these ideas for my sake. I’m pushing them because I think this is where America needs to go.” —President Obama #Leadership


“Allahu Ackbar.”

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Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day [VodkaPundit]

John Kasich

It looks like Ohio tried to use some tax trickery [PDF] to fund ♡bamaCare!!! Medicaid expansion in the Buckeye State:

The key revenue stream in question is the state sales and use tax as applied to Medicaid managed care organization (MCO) premiums. The state takes advantage of a loophole in the Medicaid funding system through which taxing these premiums provides revenue to the state and increases the amount of federal grant money that Ohio receives. Thus far, this tax loophole has cost the federal government hundreds of millions of dollars, and allowed Ohio to reduce its share of total Medicaid expenditures and spend even more. But that loophole is about to close.

A recent investigation by the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services (OIG) should warn states like Ohio currently using the loophole to fund expansion. Responding to OIG, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) stated it intention to bring wayward states into compliance. This means that Ohio will likely need to abolish its sales tax on Medicaid MCO premiums, and lose the critical revenue it provides.

The link is from Kristina Ribali and she explains things further:

It’s a slick system. So slick, in fact, that other states have tried it. For instance, Pennsylvania tried it and got a whopping $1.76 BILLION in extra federal grants over a three year period. The only problem – it’s illegal. In fact, this was already decided before Ohio tried it.

The Buckeye Institute’s President, Robert Alt, urged Ohio state lawmakers to pass a budget without Medicaid expansion. The testimony was successful, but Governor Kasich bypassed the State House and expanded Medicaid anyway via the Controlling Board – complete with this sketchy funding mechanism.

This is just going to kill whatever is left of Kasich. He made his name as a principled small-government conservative, almost libertarian, then threw that out when he saw the gleaming gobs of reverse-Danegeld hiding the manure pile known as ♡bamaCare!!!. Whatever remains of his reputation could be forever tarnished by this illegal funding gimmick.

I really used to like and respect him, too.

Emailgate: It’s Worse Than You Think [VodkaPundit]


This is a very big deal:

A week before becoming Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton set up a private e-mail system that gave her a high level of control over communications, including the ability to erase messages completely, according to security experts who have examined Internet records.

“You erase it and everything’s gone,” Matt Devost, a security expert who has had his own private e-mail for years. Commercial services like those from Google Inc. and Yahoo! Inc. retain copies even after users erase them from their in-box.

Although Clinton worked hard to secure the private system, her consultants appear to have set it up with a misconfigured encryption system, something that left it vulnerable to hacking, said Alex McGeorge, head of threat intelligence at Immunity Inc., a Miami Beach-based digital security firm.

It’s a foregone conclusion in my mind that for perhaps as long as four years, foreign powers were reading the Secretary of State’s official emails.

UPDATE: And then there’s this.


More here from Kyle Becker.

Leadership Means Begging Forgiveness? [VodkaPundit]

DEM 2016 Clinton

I’m sorry this page has turned into HillaryScandalPundit today, but we must return one more time to that well. This time it’s Frank Bruni asking if Hillary Clinton has a political death wish:

She and Bill have lived their entire political lives under fire, some of it deserved, some of it not. It’s as if they decided at a certain point that they’d never get a fair shake and should cut the corners that they could and behave as they wished. Their foes would storm the gates regardless.

But there are times when the Clintons are their own worst enemies.

Insistent that his persecutors would find sexual misdeeds even where none existed, Bill gave them a blue dress and Monica Lewinsky.

Aggrieved by the way her detractors saw her as haughtily above it all, Hillary decided on an approach to emails as secretary of state that has made her look haughtily above it all.

Is that entitlement? Or hubris?

An inability to change? Or a refusal to?

I approached someone who knows the Clintons well, asked how to make sense of this and got an answer that echoed observations about them from the past: “They’d rather seek forgiveness than permission.”

You get exhausted just briefly considering another eight years of a Clinton White House.

I’m all out of forgiveness, too, and sometimes get the feeling I’m far from alone.

Et Tu, Guardian? [VodkaPundit]

Even the leftwing folks at The Guardian see trouble ahead for Hillary Clinton because of Emailgate:

It leaves Clinton vulnerable to at least three lines of criticism: that she potentially broke fundamental rules governing the handling and security of state secrets; that she skirted around guidelines put in place to ensure historical accountability and transparency within high public office; and the political attack that she must have had something to hide.

Potentially breaching rules relating to state secrets
Perhaps the most serious accusation facing Clinton is that she may have breached one of the fundamental tenets of classified information. J William Leonard, former director of the body that keeps watch over executive branch secrets, the Information Security Oversight Office, told the Guardian that if Clinton had dealt with confidential government matters through her personal email, that would have been problematic. “There is no such thing as personal copies of classified information. All classified information belongs to the US government and it should never leave the control of the government.”

Tell that to Sandy Berger’s pants.

Overseas Misfire in the War on Drugs [VodkaPundit]

On the off chance you thought Zero Tolerance lunacy was limited to this country, here’s the heartwarming story of a 26-year-old American woman now sitting in a Japanese jail after her mother sent over her Adderall prescription:

Carrie Russell, a graduate from Western Oregon University, was reportedly diagnosed with attention deficit disorder at age 7. She is now jailed outside of Nagoya after her friends witnessed five plain-clothed police officers arrest her Feb. 20 at a restaurant in Tokyo, nearly 300 miles away, the Oregonianreported.

Her adoptive parents, John and Jill Russell, learned of the arrest the next day from their daughter’s friends. It took U.S. diplomats 24 hours to locate her, because the National Police Agency hadn’t notified the embassy of her arrest, a step typically taken when Japanese police detain an American, the Oregonian reported.

I hope this gets cleared up quickly and Russell is released, maybe even gets an apology. But the Drug War makes these things inevitable.

Three Emerging Digital Platforms for 2015 | Fail!lab [LISNews:]


‘Twas a world of limited options for digital libraries just a few short years back. Nowadays, however, the options are many more and the features and functionalities are truly groundbreaking.

From Three Emerging Digital Platforms for 2015 | Fail!lab

Actually Stoll's 1995 anti-Internet column was amazingly on-target [LISNews:]


Stoll predicted that the Web would be a fount of misleading information and outright lies, that it would be oversold as a tool for education and governing, and that it would isolate people more than bring them together. "A network chat line is a limp substitute for meeting friends over coffee," he wrote. "No interactive multimedia display comes close to the excitement of a live concert. And who'd prefer cybersex to the real thing?"

From Actually, that 'off target' 1995 anti-Internet column was amazingly on-target - LA Times

Yale first institution in the country to actively collect VHS tapes [LISNews:]

Yale has become the first institution in the country to actively collect VHS tapes, thanks to the initiative of Kaplanoff Librarian for American History David Gary and Aaron Pratt GRD ’16. Although the collection, which arrived late last week, is wide-ranging, a large portion consists of horror-genre movies, and most of the movies are from the 1970s and 80s.

From Library acquires 2,700 VHS tapes | Yale Daily News

Douglas Adams made me a writer: Neil Gaiman salutes his friend and inspiration [LISNews:]


Paying tribute to his genius at the annual Douglas Adams lecture, writer explains how meeting the Hitchhiker’s Guide author at 22 changed his life

From Douglas Adams made me a writer: Neil Gaiman salutes his friend and inspiration | Books | The Guardian

The new, palate-cleansing, ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ trailer. [Moe Lane]

After the horrid news I just posted, I figured this might cheer people up.

There Is No Compulsion In Religion [The Jawa Report]

Radio Free Europe:

They told us that we must become Muslims, or they would slit our throats...
Looking into that statement a bit deeper there is no Compulsion for Dhimmis or those who don't fight against the Muslims, or those who don't Prosthelytize or interfere with the spreading Islam.

Buy anyone who preaches his belief or stands against ISIS, then.

This refers to the perfection of Islam, because its proofs are perfect and the signs of its soundness are clear. Because it is the religion of reason and knowledge, the religion of sound human nature and of wisdom, the religion of righteousness and piety, the religion of truth and guidance, and it is perfect and acceptable to human nature, there is no need to compel anyone to enter it, because compulsion is only needed in the case of that which is off-putting and contrary to the facts and truth, or that of which the proofs and signs are not clear. Otherwise, anyone who comes to know this religion then rejects it and does not accept it, it is because of his stubbornness, because right path has become distinct from the wrong path, so no one has any excuse for rejecting it and not accepting it. There is no contradiction between this idea and the many verses that speak of jihad. Allah enjoined fighting so that the religion (worship) will all be for Allah alone and to ward off the aggression of those who are hostile towards Islam. The Muslims are unanimously agreed that jihad is ongoing and that jihad in word and in deed is a permanent obligation. Any commentator who thinks that this verse contradicts the verses of jihad, and is certain that it has been abrogated, holds a weak view, as is obvious from the wording and the meaning and as is clear to anyone who studies the verse, as we have pointed out.
So the next time someone quotes There Is No Compulsion In Religion implying Islam--phobia, point out all the exceptions and red tape, pardon me, I mean red knives.

Attn: Twitter User @_ks_4_harun @KS_Harun6 @Harun7_KS @_Harun7_KS (Update: All Too Easy) [The Jawa Report]



No, you die on your rage


Those silly ISIS licking Turks, such a sense of outrage.

Update: Next! https://twitter.com/KS_Harun6





Ahh here we are, https://twitter.com/Harun7_KS




Hat Tip :Censored31.

Attn: Twitter User TriCk @AbuHussainIS @AbuHussain09 @AbuHussain31337 (Update: Your Move Bub) [The Jawa Report]






Thanks to @B3m3t0r.

Update" I'm "blocked" again. LOL

Update: I need to check on TriCk!



Mr.s TriCk too @__UmmHussain



Jawas Win Again!


Your move bub.

Update: I'm like so blockededed.



ISIS Like Totally Immune From Airstrikes [The Jawa Report]

Our airstrikes don't scare ISIS.

Allahu Ackbar! (in this case I believe the translation is, "Oh Shit!")

Lieber ein Ende... [Perlsphere]

mit Schrecken als ein Schrecken ohne Ende. Sprichwörter sind was tolles, aber manchmal nerven sie einfach nur noch. Es sind Tage wie dieser, die zum nachdenken anregen - und Angst machen.

PEG: Ambiguity, precision and confusion [Perlsphere]


PEG parsing is a new notation for a notorously tricky algorithm that goes back to the earliest computers. In its PEG form, this algorithm acquired an seductive new interface, one that looks like the best of extended BNF combined with the best of regular expressions. Looking at a sample of it, you are tempted to imagine that writing a parser has suddenly become a very straightforward matter. Not so.

For those not yet in the know on this, I'll illustrate with a pair of examples from an excellent 2008 paper by Redziejowski. Let's start with these two PEG specifications.


One of these two PEG grammars accepts the string "aaa" but not the string "aa". The other does the opposite -- it accepts the string the string "aa" but not the string "aaa". Can you tell which one? (For the answer, see page 4 of Redziejowski 2008.)

Here is another example:

    A = "a"A"a"/"aa"

What language does this describe? All the strings in the language are obviously the letter "a", repeated some number of times. But which string lengths are in the language, and which are not? Again the answer is on page 4 of Redziejowski 2008 -- it's exactly those strings whose length is a power of 2.

With PEG, what you see in the extended BNF is not what you get. PEG parsing has been called "precise", apparently based on the idea that PEG parsing is in a certain sense unambiguous. In this case "precise" is taken as synonymous with "unique". That is, PEG parsing is precise in exactly the same sense that Jimmy Hoffa's body is at a precise location. There is (presumably) exactly one such place, but we are hard put to be any more specific about the matter.


The advantage of using a syntax-driven parser generator is that the syntax you specify describes the language that will be parsed. For most practical grammars, PEG is not syntax-driven in this sense. Several important PEG researchers understand this issue, and have tried to deal with it. I will talk about their work below. This is much more at stake than bragging rights over which algorithm is really syntax-driven and which is not.

When you do not know the language your parser is parsing, you of course have the problem that your parser might not parse all the strings in your language. That can be dealt with by fixing the parser to accept the correct input, as you encounter problems.

A second, more serious, problem is often forgotten. Your PEG parser might accept strings that are not in your language. At worst, this creates a security loophole. At best, it leaves with a choice: break compatiblity, or leave the problem unfixed.

It's important to be able to convince yourself that your code is correct by examining it and thinking about it. Beginning programmers often simply hack things, and call code complete once it passes the test suite. Test suites don't catch everything, but there is a worse problem with the beginner's approach.

Since the beginner has no clear idea of why his code works, even when it does, it is unlikely to be well-organized or readable. Programming techniques like PEG, where the code can be made to work, but where it is much harder, and in practice usually not possible, to be sure why the code works, become maintenance nightmares.

The maintenance implications are especially worrisome if the PEG parser is for a language with a life cycle that may involve bug fixes or other changes. The impact of even small changes to a PEG specification is hard to predict and hard to discover after the fact.

Is PEG unambiguous?

PEG is not unambiguous in any helpful sense of that word. BNF allows you to specify ambiguous grammars, and that feature is tied to its power and flexibility and often useful in itself. PEG will only deliver one of those parses. But without an easy way of knowing which parse, the underlying ambiguity is not addressed -- it is just ignored.

My Marpa parser is a general BNF parser based on Earley's. It also can simply throw all but one of the parses in an ambiguous parse away. But I would not feel justified in saying to a user who has an issue with ambiguity, that Marpa has solved her problem by throwing all but one arbitrarily chosen result.

Sticking with Marpa for a moment, we can see one example of a more helpful approach to ambiguity. Marpa allows a user to rank rules, so that all but the highest ranking rules are not used in a parse. Marpa's rule rankings are specified in its BNF, and they work together with the BNF in an intuitive way. In every case, Marpa delivers precisely the parses its BNF and its rule rankings specify. And it is "precision" in this sense that a parser writer is looking for.

Is there a sensible way to use PEG?

I'll return to Marpa at the end of this post. For now, let's assume that you are not interested in using Marpa -- you are committed to PEG, and you want to make the best of PEG. Several excellent programmers have focused on PEG, without blinding themselves to its limitations. I've already mentioned one important paper by Redziejowski. Many of Redziejowski's collected papers are about PEG, and Redziejowski, in his attempts to use PEG, does not sugarcoat its problems.

Roberto Ierusalimschy, author of Lua and one of the best programmers of our time, has written a PEG-based parser of his own. Roberto is fully aware of PEG's limits, but he makes a very good case for choosing PEG as the basis of LPEG, his parser generator. LPEG is intended for use with Lua, a ruthlessly minimal language. Roberto's minimalist implementation limits the power of his parser, but his aim is to extend regular expressions in a disciplined way, and a compact parser of limited power is quite acceptable for his purposes.

Matching the BNF to the PEG spec

As Redziejowski and Ierusalimschy and the other authors of Mascarenhas et al, 2013 recognize, not knowing what language you are parsing is more than an annoyance. We can call a language "well-behaved for PEG" if the PEG spec delivers exactly the language the BNF describes.

Which languages are are well-behaved for PEG? According to Mascarenhas et al, 2013, the LL(1) languages are well-behaved. (The LL(1) languages are the languages a top-down parser can parse based on at most one character of input.) Syntax-driven parsers for LL(1) have been around for much longer than PEG -- one such parser is described in the first paper to describe recursive descent (Peter Lucas, 1961). But most practical languages are not LL(1). Redziejowski 2013 and Redziejowski 2014 seek to extend this result by defining the language class LL(1p) -- those top-down languages with one "parsing procedure" of lookahead. The LL(1p) languages are also well-behaved for PEG.

Mascarenhas et al, 2013 also look at a different approach -- instead of writing a PEG specification and trying to keep it well-behaved, they look at taking languages from larger top-down classes and translating them to PEG. I don't know of any followup, but it's possible this approach could produce well-behaved top-down parsers which are an improvement over direct-from-PEG parsing. But for those who are open to leaving top-down parsing behind, a parser which handles languages in all these classes and more is already available.


In this post, I have adopted the point of view of programmers using PEG, or thinking of doing so. My own belief in this matter is that very few programmers should want to bother with the issues I've just described. My reason for this is the Marpa parser -- a general BNF Earley-drived parser that

  • has an implementation you can use today;
  • allows the application to combine syntax-driven parsing with custom procedural logic;
  • makes available full, left-eidetic knowledge of the parse to the procedural logic;
  • and parses a vast class of grammars in linear time, including all the LR-regular grammars.

The LR-regular grammars include the LR(k) and LL(k) grammars for all k. LR-regular includes all the languages which are well-behaved under PEG, and all of those that Mascarenhas et al, 2013 consider translating into PEG.


Comments on this post can be made in Marpa's Google group, or on our IRC channel: #marpa at freenode.net. To learn more about Marpa, there's the official web site maintained by Ron Savage. I also have a Marpa web site.

Phil Hands: The future arrived, again! [Planet Debian]

I am reminded by Gunnar's wonderful news that I have been very remiss in publishing my own.

Mathilda Sophie Hands, our second daughter, was delivered on the 9th of January.

Her arrival was a little more interesting than we'd have preferred (with Gunde being suddenly diagnosed with HELLP Syndrome), but all has turned out well, with Gunde bouncing back to health surprisingly quickly, and Mathilda going from very skinny to positively chubby in a few short weeks, so no harm done.

Today Mathilda produced her first on-camera smile.

Matilda, smiling on camera for the first time

It's lovely when they start smiling. It seems to signal that there's a proper little person beginning to take shape.

Simon Josefsson: Laptop Buying Advice? [Planet Debian]

My current Lenovo X201 laptop has been with me for over four years. I’ve been looking at new laptop models over the years thinking that I should upgrade. Every time, after checking performance numbers, I’ve always reached the conclusion that it is not worth it. The most performant Intel Broadwell processor is the the Core i7 5600U and it is only about 1.5 times the performance of my current Intel Core i7 620M. Meanwhile disk performance has increased more rapidly, but changing the disk on a laptop is usually simple. Two years ago I upgraded to the Samsung 840 Pro 256GB disk, and this year I swapped that for the Samsung 850 Pro 1TB, and both have been good investments.

Recently my laptop usage patterns have changed slightly, and instead of carrying one laptop around, I have decided to aim for multiple semi-permanent laptops at different locations, coupled with a mobile device that right now is just my phone. The X201 will remain one of my normal work machines.

What remains is to decide on a new laptop, and there begins the fun. My requirements are relatively easy to summarize. The laptop will run a GNU/Linux distribution like Debian, so it has to work well with it. I’ve decided that my preferred CPU is the Intel Core i7 5600U. The screen size, keyboard and mouse is mostly irrelevant as I never work longer periods of time directly on the laptop. Even though the laptop will be semi-permanent, I know there will be times when I take it with me. Thus it has to be as lightweight as possible. If there would be significant advantages in going with a heavier laptop, I might reconsider this, but as far as I can see the only advantage with a heavier machine is bigger/better screen, keyboard (all of which I find irrelevant) and maximum memory capacity (which I would find useful, but not enough of an argument for me). The sub-1.5kg laptops with the 5600U CPU on the market that I have found are:

Lenovo X250 1.42kg 12.5″ 1366×768
Lenovo X1 Carbon (3rd gen) 1.44kg 14″ 2560×1440
Dell Latitude E7250 1.25kg 12.5″ 1366×768
Dell XPS 13 1.26kg 13.3″ 3200×1800
HP EliteBook Folio 1040 G2 1.49kg 14″ 1920×1080
HP EliteBook Revolve 810 G3 1.4kg 11.6″ 1366×768

I find it interesting that Lenovo, Dell and HP each have two models that meets my 5600U/sub-1.5kg criteria. Regarding screen, possibly there exists models with other screen resolutions. The XPS 13, HP 810 and X1 models I looked had touch screens, the others did not. As screen is not important to me, I didn’t evaluate this further.

I think all of them would suffice, and there are only subtle differences. All except the XPS 13 can be connected to peripherals using one cable, which I find convenient to avoid a cable mess. All of them have DisplayPort, but HP uses DisplayPort Standard and the rest uses miniDP. The E7250 and X1 have HDMI output. The X250 boosts a 15-pin VGA connector, none of the others have it — I’m not sure if that is a advantage or disadvantage these days. All of them have 2 USB v3.0 ports except the E7250 which has 3 ports. The HP 1040, XPS 13 and X1 Carbon do not have RJ45 Ethernet connectors, which is a significant disadvantage to me. Ironically, only the smallest one of these, the HP 810, can be memory upgraded to 12GB with the others being stuck at 8GB. HP and the E7250 supports NFC, although Debian support is not certain. The E7250 and X250 have a smartcard reader, and again, Debian support is not certain. The X1, X250 and 810 have a 3G/4G card.

Right now, I’m leaning towards rejecting the XPS 13, X1 and HP 1040 because of lack of RJ45 ethernet port. That leaves me with the E7250, X250 and the 810. Of these, the E7250 seems like the winner: lightest, 1 extra USB port, HDMI, NFC, SmartCard-reader. However, it has no 3G/4G-card and no memory upgrade options. Looking for compatibility problems, it seems you have to be careful to not end up with the “Dell Wireless” card and the E7250 appears to come in a docking and non-docking variant but I’m not sure what that means.

Are there other models I should consider? Other thoughts?

Randall Ross: On Writing Software for OpenPOWER [Planet Ubuntu]

We live in exciting times!

Not only do we now have an Ubuntu Phone, but we also have Ubuntu running quite nicely on the OpenPOWER platform (which is based on the POWER8 architecture).

You might be thinking "So, where are you going with this?" I'm glad you asked :)

In just a couple weeks, the very first OpenPOWER Summit will start. Everyone who's involved in the OpenPOWER community will be making the trek to sunny San Jose, CA. If you're writing (or thinking about writing) software that is targeted for the OpenPOWER platform, then you'd be crazy *not* to be there!

During the OpenPOWER Summit, the fun folks that bring you Ubuntu will be hosting a session entitled the "ISV Roundtable". This session is designed to connect people who have great ideas that would benefit from OpenPOWER to the people who can help make them reality.

Are you thinking of writing, tuning, or porting (it's super easy) software to benefit from OpenPOWER? This is the session for you.

Are you looking for the "next big thing"? You've found it.

I'd love to see you there!

Contact randall (at) ubuntu (dot) com

Fossil jawbone pushes back human evolution at least 400,000 years [CBC | Technology News]

Fossil Jaw

A 2.8-million-year-old jawbone fossil with five intact teeth unearthed in an Ethiopian desert is pushing back the dawn of humankind by at least 400,000 years.

Leave your selfie sticks at home, Smithsonian museum visitors told [CBC | Technology News]


The Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., is the latest major museum operator to ban selfie sticks. It is encouraging visitors to its 19 museums and galleries in the U.S. capital to snap pictures, but to please pack away the sticks. Are Canadian museums following suit?

How to protect your online privacy, according to Edward Snowden [CBC | Technology News]

Edward Snowden

Whistleblower Edward Snowden expanded on what tools he uses to stay safe online during a live video chat from Russia, hosted by Ryerson University in Toronto.

Microsoft co-founder helps find WW II warship 70 years after sinking [CBC | Technology News]

Japan-WWII Battleship

Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul Allen and his research team have found the wreckage of a massive Japanese battleship off the Philippines near where it sank more than 70 years ago.

See a shark's last meal in new 'Sea Monsters' exhibit [CBC | Technology News]

Thresher shark

Dissected sea creatures including sharks, squid and eels go on display at the Vancouver Aquarium, preserved using the same technique from the human Body Worlds show.

Selling elephant tusks illegally? Here's some bad news for you [CBC | Technology News]

Elephant in Tanzania

There's bad news for Canadians selling elephant tusks illegally – thanks to science, you can no longer pretend ivory is antique and get away with it.

Weasel rides woodpecker in incredible viral photo [CBC | Technology News]

Weasel riding green woodpecker

A photo of a green woodpecker fighting off an attack by a weasel in East London is spreading across social media, leading to skepticism, photoshopped variations and the hashtag #WeaselPecker.

for the person that called me a butterface .. bye [healthy is a lifestyle]

for the person that called me a butterface .. bye

legs in this lighting » blondevsworld you inspired me... [healthy is a lifestyle]

legs in this lighting » blondevsworld you inspired me to buy these shorts they are on point

just took too many selfies be ready [healthy is a lifestyle]

just took too many selfies be ready

"Day 1 is hard Day 4 is harder Week 1 is easierWeek 3 is shakyMonth 2 I think I may cave Month 6 I..." [healthy is a lifestyle]

“Day 1 is hard
Day 4 is harder
Week 1 is easier
Week 3 is shaky
Month 2 I think I may cave
Month 6 I think I am free
Year 1 I won’t lie I miss it but oh god my smile has never been more real and I am finally alive again.”

- Recovery via - dark-para-disee.tumblr.com (via winterr-girls)

i-workoutt:fightoncarryon:I’ve lost like 7lbs recently…but my... [healthy is a lifestyle]



I’ve lost like 7lbs recently…but my lifts are getting heavier!? So I’m ok with it lol. 😉

YESSSS!!!!! Great job! You look amazing! Keep lifting heavy!

ofbard: the box says “four servings” but my heart says one [healthy is a lifestyle]


the box says “four servings” but my heart says one

The 75 RINO’s Who Voted To Fund Obama’s Amnesty And Ignore The Constitution… [Weasel Zippers]

The Status Quo remains. Via BPR House Republicans, led by Speaker John Boehner, caved in to Democrat demands and passed a “clean” funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday. The bill includes funding for Obama’s executive amnesty actions, a sticking point for conservatives. The legislation provides funding for Obama’s move to shield […]

Feds Processed 7 Million Immigration Applications…IN ONE YEAR… [Weasel Zippers]

This is a ridiculous number… Via Breitbart: On Tuesday, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officials revealed that the agency processed nearly seven million immigration-related applications in just one year alone (fiscal year 2014). Because the agency does not have the resources to conduct in-person interviews with every applicant, officials noted that applicants for […]

Senate Can’t Override Obama’s Keystone Veto; Effort Falls 5 Votes Short… [Weasel Zippers]

Via Washington Examiner: The U.S. Senate voted down a key vote to override a White House veto on a bill to approve the contentious Keystone XL pipeline, which the GOP sees a key to job creation and maintaining a strong U.S. infrastructure. The vote on override a presidential veto failed 62-37. The Senate had passed […]

Rasmussen: Walker Beats Clinton By 8 Points Among Informed Voters If The Election Were Held Today… [Weasel Zippers]

Keyword: Informed. We’re all aware not everyone is informed…to put it lightly. Via Townhall: If the 2016 presidential elections were held today, Hillary Clinton would become the next President of the United States, according to a Rasmussen poll released Tuesday. But Governor Scott Walker would give her a run for her money. Rasmussen asked 1,000 […]

Outrageous Abortion Doctor Tells Princeton Students People “Have To Get Over The Love Affair With Fetuses”… [Weasel Zippers]

You’ve got to be a special breed of person to do this stuff… Via Campus Reform: In an hour long talk to Princeton University students, abortion doctor Willie Parker admitted to being willing to give abortions at 27 weeks during a lecture on reproductive justice to the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs […]

Prosecutors Considering Criminal Charges Against Michael Brown’s Family Over Beatdown Of T-Shirt Vendors… [Weasel Zippers]

This…could get very interesting. Via Smoking Gun: MARCH 4–Prosecutors are now considering criminal charges against members of Michael Brown’s family in connection with a violent confrontation over the sale of merchandise commemorating the late teenager, who was shot to death last year by a police officer. The St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney recently received the […]

NJ Deli Owner’s “White History Month” Sign Is Bringing The Outrage Squad Out In Full Force… [Weasel Zippers]

Naturally. Via NJ.com: FLEMINGTON — The sign in the deli window says, “CELEBRATE YOUR WHITE HERITAGE IN MARCH, WHITE HISTORY MONTH.” Jim Boggess, proprietor of Jimbo’s Deli on Main at 22 Main St., says, “No matter what you are — Muslim, Jewish, black, white, gay, straight — you should be proud of what you are. […]

Obama Regime Strategically Hid 100,000 Amnesty Approvals From Texas Judge… [Weasel Zippers]

Typical. What doesn’t this administration hide? Via Daily Caller: President Barack Obama’s deputies hid the rapid-fire start of his November amnesty from the Texas judge who is now weighing the amnesty’s legality. The cover-up was exposed March 3, the same day that top GOP leaders pressured GOP legislators to pass a toothless budget bill for […]

ISIS Cuts Hands Of Six Youths For Stealing In Mosul, Kidnaps 26 Female College Students, Forces Them Into “Temporary Marriages”… [Weasel Zippers]

Just another day in the “Caliphate.” Via Basnews: Islamic State (IS) militants in Nineveh Province have punished six youths in Mosul by amputating their hands. Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) official from Mosul, Saed Mamuzini, told BasNews that IS insurgents have increased the frequency and severity of punishments in the area. He revealed that on Monday, […]

Imam Who Said Ayaan Hirsi Ali Deserved Death For Criticizing Islam Was Hired By DOJ To Teach Muslim Classes To Federal Prisoners [Weasel Zippers]

Surprised? I’m assuming no. Via Daily Caller: An Egyptian-born imam who in 2007 said that Somali-born activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali should receive the death penalty for her criticism of Islam is now a Department of Justice contractor hired to teach classes to Muslims who are in federal prison. According to federal spending records, Fouad ElBayly, […]

Holder Threatens Ferguson Police: DOJ “Reserves All Of Its Rights” To Force Change, “Nothing Off Table”… [Weasel Zippers]

Even worse: Holder “some of the protesters were right.” Unreal… Via Guardian: Holder says the justice department “reserves all of its rights” to force basic change in Ferguson. “Nothing is off the table,” Holder says. Holder says that while perceptions of the Brown killing may have been flawed, the context of the incident and those […]

Moonbat Christian Woman Dresses Up As A Muslim Woman For Lent, Wearing Hijab For 40 Days… [Weasel Zippers]

Old and busted: White guilt. New and hot: Christian guilt. Via Christian Today: A blonde, blue-eyed Christian mum-of-two has decided to wear a Muslim hijab every time she goes out of the house during Lent to remind herself what it is like to be “other”. Jessey Eagan, children’s director for Imago Dei Church in Peoria, […]

State Department Tech Team Warned Hillary Her Use Of A Private Email Server Was A Major Security Risk… [Weasel Zippers]

Shockingly, their warnings were ignored. Via AJA: State Department technology experts expressed security concerns that then–Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was using a private email service rather than the government’s fortified and monitored system, but those fears fell on deaf ears, a current employee on the department’s cybersecurity team told Al Jazeera America on Tuesday. […]

Sharpton Still Milking Trayvon Martin Death… [Weasel Zippers]

Sharpton squeezing every last drop of race baiting out of the Martin case. At which point the parents will never see or hear from him again.

Salon: White People Favor Using “African-American” Because They Are Scared Of Word “Black”… [Weasel Zippers]

Liberal bed-wetters, yes. Everyone else, not so much. Via Salon: …The thing is, I never fully bought into the lie, though. I am a Black woman, formerly a Black girl, always a Black person who is proud of – because I was taught to be — my own Blackness. Because it is my Blackness – […]

Hey, I’ll Be at the Pickerington, OH Public Library Two Weeks From Today [Whatever]

John Scalzi Slideshow Image

And what will I be doing there? Oh, you know. Talking and signing books and answering questions and maybe reading something from the upcoming book that no one will have ever heard before. Maybe. We’ll see.

Anyway, if you happen to be anywhere near Pickerington, OH on the 18th of March, why don’t you come on down. This is, at the moment, my only scheduled appearance in mid-Ohio for 2015, so if you’d like to see me, you know where I’ll be.

Things I Promised People I Would Tell You About, Not That I Didn’t Want to Tell You About Them Anyway, Because They’re Cool [Whatever]

They are:

1. If you’re a science fiction writer and you would like maybe to get a little better grounding in some of the “science” portion of that genre, then this is going to be for you: The Schrödinger Sessions: Science for Science Fiction workshop, this summer from July 30 through August 1st.

What will the workshop cover?

The Schrödinger Sessions is a three-day workshop for science fiction writers offering a “crash course” in modern physics, to be held at the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI), one of the world’s leading research centers for the study of quantum mechanics.  We will introduce participants to phenomena like superposition, entanglement, and quantum information through a series of lectures by JQI scientists and tours of JQI laboratories.  We hope this will inform and inspire new stories in print, on screen, and in electronic media, that will in turn inspire a broad audience to learn more about the weird and fascinating science of quantum physics and the transformative technologies it enables.

Go to the link to find out more. The application form is not up yet but will be, as I understand, in a couple of days. Also, I’ve been asked to note to writers that it’s not just science fiction prose writers who are eligible to attend: Screenwriter and video game writers can also get in on this action. So check it out.

2. If you like Star Trek and/or Doctor Who — which given the demographics of the readership of this site seems like a pretty good chance — you may be interested in this: A Doctor for the Enterprise, a crossover comic book written by 2015 Worldcon Guest of Honor David Gerrold (who is enshrined in Star Trek lore for writing “The Trouble With Tribbles” and other things).

Note that this release is a limited edition, so if you want one, you should probably click that link above and get on it right away. I would not want for you to live your life in regret.

(Also, if you’re the sort who likes behind the scenes articles, here’s one on the making of the comic book. Enjoy.)

It turns out the Village People recorded a punk song in 1981 [WIL WHEATON dot NET]

I came across this punk rock masterpiece on one of my very favorite blogs, Dangerous Minds.

Now, look, I’m going to warn you: it’s the longest 2:27 of your life, and the video is sort of the ancient progenitor to a looping .gif, likely due to budget constraints, and the possibility that the band involved wasn’t particularly into recording a punk song because the band was THE VILLAGE PEOPLE.

Yes, those Village People.


Dangerous Minds says:

“Food Fight” is an anomaly in the Village People’s oeuvre: a first and last attempt to cash in on the punk audience from a band clearly grasping at straws, willing to try absolutely anything to stay relevant.

Musically, one can hear the best elements of DEVO, as well as The Dickies, and Hodo’s nerdcore vocals sound remarkably like Weird Al.

“Food fight” plays out like the music you’d hear in an early 80’s teenage T & A movie where there’d be some marginally “punk” band playing on the beach in wrap-around sunglasses and clam-diggers, while a bunch of girls in string bikinis did robot dances in the sand. Yes, it’s that good. The subject matter would seem to indicate the Village People’s new target demographic was middle school children.

I’m super conflicted about it, because on the one hand, it’s pretty epic … but it’s also pretty horrible, and it feels like ten minutes of repetition to me.

But, still, the fucking VILLAGE PEOPLE recorded a song that would have been perfectly at home in Valley Girl, or Night of the Comet, or Midnight Madness, or even on an episode of CHiPs, if they did something about the way old white people thought punk rock and new wave kids acted in 1981.

What do you think?

"How do you even begin to know who you’re dealing with, given that these private cops often wear..." [WIL WHEATON dot TUMBLR]

“How do you even begin to know who you’re dealing with, given that these private cops often wear police uniforms, carry police-grade weapons, and perform many of the same duties as public cops, including carrying out SWAT team raids, issuing tickets and firing their weapons.
This is the growing dilemma we now face as private police officers outnumber public officers (more than two to one), and the corporate elite transforms the face of policing in America into a privatized affair that operates beyond the reach of the Fourth Amendment.”

- Private Police: Mercenaries for the American Police State.

It turns out the Village People recorded a punk song in 1981 [WIL WHEATON dot TUMBLR]

BLOG WITH MUSIC AND VIDEO: It turns out the Village People recorded a punk song in 1981

I came across this punk rock masterpiece on one of my very favorite blogs, Dangerous Minds.

Now, look, I’m going to warn you: it’s the longest 2:27 of your life, and the video is sort of the ancient progenitor to a looping .gif, likely due to budget constraints, and the possibility that the band involved wasn’t particularly into recording a punk song because the band was THE VILLAGE PEOPLE.


View On WordPress

Hi Wil, would you ever consider/have you ever attended a con outside of the US? [WIL WHEATON dot TUMBLR]

I have had the great privilege of attending cons in the UK, Australia, Canada, and Germany. I’d love to do some more international conventions, but it’s a real challenge to fit them into my already busy schedule.

morgiesan: poekadots:incredible Goodness. Yes. Please be well,... [WIL WHEATON dot TUMBLR]




Goodness. Yes. Please be well, Hayley. And be more careful next time!

I recently saw the DnD 5e Beginner's Box at Walmart right next to a copy of ticket to ride. I am going to assume you are personally responsible for for Walmart carrying more, better games. Thank you. [WIL WHEATON dot TUMBLR]

That’s awesome. I went into a Barnes & Noble last year, and they had a tabletop game section that was bigger than the entire game section at a Target that was nearby. The manager of that section told me that she uses Tabletop as inspiration for ordering games from their distributor!

Father says no proof his son is ‘Jihadi John’ [Blazing Cat Fur]

Mr Emwazi was seen in public for the first time today since he was questioned by Kuwaiti police about his son’s activities

The father of Mohammed Emwazi is not sure that his son is masked Islamic State butcher Jihadi John, his lawyer has said.

Jasem Emwazi, 51, feels there is ‘no proof’ that the black-clad knife-wielding man featured in chilling hostage execution videos is his eldest child, it was reported today.

His Kuwaiti lawyer, Salem Al-Hashah, told Kuwait’s respected Al-Qabas newspaper: ‘He is not sure that he [Jihadi John] is his son.

‘There is no proof that the man shown in the videos and photographs is his son, as the media has reported in the last few days’…

…The lawyer’s comments appear to contradict earlier remarks made by Mr Emwazi, who is said to have told a colleague that his son is ‘a dog, an animal, a terrorist’ and called for him to be killed…

Proof of Ben Levin’s Involvement in Sex-Ed Program [Blazing Cat Fur]

Documents obtained by TheRebel.media through a Freedom of Information request answer the question parents around the province have been asking:

How much involvement did Ben Levin — the former Deputy Minister of Education turned convicted child sex offender — have in the crafting of the controversial new sex-ed program being rolled out to Ontario schools this fall?

Turkey blocks website of its first atheist association [Blazing Cat Fur]

It took less than a year for a Turkish court to block the website of the country’s first official atheism association.

The Atheism Association, the first of its kind in any Muslim-majority country, was officially founded in Istanbul’s Asian-side neighborhood of Kadıköy in April 2014. However, the Gölbaşı 2nd Civil Court of Peace in Ankara has finally moved to block the association’s website, according to the group’s statement on March 3, 2015.

As of March 4, Turkish internet users could not access www.ateizmdernegi.org without using tools to bypass blockings, such as a VPN.

The court ruling cites Article 216 of the Turkish Penal Law, which forbids “provoking the people for hate and enmity or degrading them”…

Suspects identified in deadly 1982 Paris Jewish deli attack [Blazing Cat Fur]

File picture dated August 11, 1982 shows people standing in front of the Jo-Goldenberg restaurant rue des Rosiers in Paris, two days after it was devastated in an attack by Palestinian gunmen. (photo credit: AFP/ JOEL ROBINE)

PARIS (AP) — More than 32 years after a deadly terror attack in Paris’ old Jewish quarter, French authorities have at last identified three suspects and are seeking their arrest.

Grenade-throwing Palestinians burst into the Jo Goldenberg deli on August 9, 1982, and sprayed machine-gun fire. Six people, including two Americans, were killed, and 21 injured. The restaurant, which has since closed, was a centerpiece tourist attraction in the famed Marais neighborhood.

Paris prosecutor’s office spokeswoman Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre said Wednesday that international arrest warrants have been issued for the three suspects — now aged in their late 50s and early 60s — who were believed to be members of the Abu Nidal group.

She says they are believed to be in the Palestinian territories, Jordan and Norway but declined to identify them by name, citing protocol…

Better late than never?

Pakistani man denies he is in Canada on a ‘military mission’ [Blazing Cat Fur]

TORONTO: A Pakistani citizen living in Toronto who risks being deported due to his alleged association with a Pakistani terrorist organisation by Canadian authorities has denied any links to such groups and denied police claims that he admitted living in Canada on a “military mission”, a report published on National Post said.

Mohammed Aqeeq Ansari was arrested in Toronto October of last year and responded to allegations against him in a hearing of Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) of Canada.

He is believed to have been recorded professing hatred against Canadians in a Toronto mosque and claiming he was sent to Canada on a special mission.

In his testimony, he refuted claims he preached hatred by saying: “I was talking about my aversion to Canadian or American exceptionalism.”

“I said I’m here for a reason” — to send money home to help Pakistani people, he told the board…

Bremen Islamic Centre sues police over raid – It made them & their automatic weapons feel excluded [Blazing Cat Fur]

“After Bremen Muslims said that raids and heightened police presence over a terror alert had made them feel excluded from society, a mosque raided by the authorities announced plans to sue over the search.

…Court documents deposited by the IKZ’s lawyer at the Bremen local court reveal that a 39-year-old Lebanese man arrested last weekend had bought automatic weapons in October and distributed them to people linked to the Culture Centre.”

Drone spotted near Charlie Hebdo as 10 more fly over Paris [Blazing Cat Fur]

A drone has been spotted hovering over the current offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine, as the mystery of the unmanned aircraft seen over Paris in recent weeks deepened with a further 10 sightings on Tuesday night.

French authorities have been flummoxed by the string of sightings of drones in France in recent weeks that have seen them illicitly fly over 17 nuclear power plants and a nuclear submarine base, as well as the Elysée Palace, the Eiffel Tower and the US embassy in Paris.

While police insist there is nothing to worry about, the sightings have raised public fears that terrorists could find a way to attach explosives or toxic chemicals to the drones.

On Tuesday night, a policeman reportedly spotted one hovering outside the offices of Libération newspaper, which is currently housing Charlie Hebdo – the satirical magazine targeted in an attack by Islamist gunmen in January that killed 12.

A police patrol gave chase to another drone at the porte de Montreuil, which leads to the ring road southeast of the capital. They were unable to keep up with it due to traffic, but the drone was then spotted at the nearby Porte de Vincennes, where another Islamist shot dead four people at a Jewish supermarket in the January attacks.

It was retrieved by four men who fled in a black car onto Paris’s “périphérique”, or ring road.

Little is known about the motivations of the drone owners and whether they are merely thrill-seekers playing with their new “toys” or individuals with more sinister aims.

The Paris prosecutor has launched an inquiry into “aircraft flight in a forbidden zone”, which is being led by Paris’s air transport gendarmes unit…

French baker accused of selling ‘racist’ cakes [Blazing Cat Fur]

A cake maker in the south of France has been threatened with legal action for inciting racial hatred unless he stops selling cakes deemed “obscene” by an anti-racism group in France. The baker told The Local he’s a victim of “intellectual terrorism”.

The owner of the pâtisserie in the town of Grasse, near Nice could find himself in hot water after being accused of selling racist cakes.

The sweet pastries in question, named “Gods” and “Goddesses” are in the form of obese people, covered in dark chocolate with over-sized sexual parts.

While the baker who sells the little men and women filled with shortbread and chocolate mousse sees the cakes as inoffensive, for one anti-racism group in France, they are anything but.

When you waste Canadian taxpayers’ money this badly you get an award for it [Blazing Cat Fur]

When you waste tax dollars this badly, Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation gives you a Teddy Award.

Brian Lilley reports on this year’s Teddy Awards to see who took home awards in the four categories: Federal, Provincial, Local, and Lifetime Achievement.

JOIN TheRebel.media for more news and commentary you won’t find anywhere else

U.S.-Backed Syrian Rebel Group Collapses, U.S.-Supplied Weapons End Up in Al-Qaeda Hands. Unexpectedly. [Blazing Cat Fur]

Reports this week revealed that a U.S.-backed Syrian rebel group, Harakat al-Hazm, had officially dissolved itself under pressure from Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria, and many of the fighters have joined up with the jihadist Islamic Front. With the group’s dissolution, the U.S.-provided TOW anti-tank missiles have reportedly falled into the hands of al-Nusra.

France hopes to shore up business with Cuba amid US policy shift [Americas – France 24 - International News 24/7]

President François Hollande this week announced he will travel to Cuba in May. It will be the first official visit by a French president to the communist-run country, coming on the heels of a historic rapprochement between Washington and Havana.

US officer cleared in fatal Ferguson shooting [Americas – France 24 - International News 24/7]

The US Justice Department will not prosecute a white former police officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old whose death in Ferguson sparked weeks of protests and ignited a national debate over how police treat African-Americans.

Boston Marathon bombing suspect goes on trial [Americas – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev went on trial for his life Wednesday in the Boston Marathon bombing, with his own lawyer bluntly telling the jury he did it. But she argued that he had fallen under the influence of his older brother.

India bans broadcast of rape documentary [Asia/Pacific – France 24 - International News 24/7]

An Indian court has banned the broadcast of a documentary on the country’s endemic rape problem, in which a death row convict expresses no remorse for his part in the 2012 fatal gang rape of a woman in New Delhi, placing the blame on the victim.

Islamic State group turning Yazidi boys into jihadists [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

The Islamist State group's bloody war of expansion in Iraq and Syria includes forcing boys from the Yazidi religious minority to train as child soldiers.

US officer cleared in fatal Ferguson shooting [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

The US Justice Department will not prosecute a white former police officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old whose death in Ferguson sparked weeks of protests and ignited a national debate over how police treat African-Americans.

India bans broadcast of rape documentary [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

An Indian court has banned the broadcast of a documentary on the country’s endemic rape problem, in which a death row convict expresses no remorse for his part in the 2012 fatal gang rape of a woman in New Delhi, placing the blame on the victim.

Hillary’s Flying Monkey Podesta Was Outraged Bush Aides Used Private Email Accounts [Jammie Wearing Fools]

Dude, that was like, eight years ago, or something. Let’s move on!

A top adviser to Hillary Clinton’s campaign-in-waiting accused the George W. Bush administration of using private emails to skirt transparency rules in 2007.

John Podesta, who left the White House in February for an unofficial role with Clinton, criticized Bush administration officials for using Republican National Committee email accounts for official business.

“At the end of the day, it looks like they were trying to avoid the Records Act . . . by operating official business off the official systems,” Podestasaid in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

The Bush White House admitted that it lost thousands of emails that weren’t backed up. Spokesman Scott Stanzel told reporters in 2007 that the White House had “not done a good job” of complying with transparency laws, according toThe Los Angeles Times.

Clinton’s own use of private emails is under scrutiny after The New York Timesreported on Monday that as secretary of State, she solely used a personal email for all her official business as the nation’s top diplomat.

In case you forgot, Podesta just left the Obama White House to go work with The Pantsuit. He also earned his Soros chops at the far-left Center for American Progress and with the bedwetters at Media Matters. Speaking of which, enjoy this one from the wayback machine.

Watch this video on YouTube.

And the plot is thickening, even more than Hillary’s cankles.

From The Onion to Daily Show, a roundup of Speechgate satire [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress Tuesday about the proposed Iran nuclear deal was one of the most anticipated and contested speeches of modern times.

The circumstances surrounding House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation, which bypassed President Barack Obama, subsequently infuriated Democrats and left many questioning Netanyahu’s motives a few weeks before Israel’s elections.

All of this also made Speechgate great fodder for satirical news outlets, which, as they are wont to do, poked fun at every angle of the speech and the media circus that surrounded it, offering political insights along the way.

In a segment on The Daily Show about Speechgate, or what he called a “festival of slights,” Jon Stewart reminded viewers that Netanyahu’s speech was not so different from his past addresses to Congress. Netanyahu, who is only the second foreign leader ever to speak to Congress three times, also spoke to a joint session of lawmakers in 1996, just after he was first elected prime minister. (This week Boehner planned to give Netanyahu a bust of Winston Churchill, the other world leader who spoke to Congress three times.)

“If Iran’s that close,” Stewart said about Netanyahu’s reference to Iran’s nuclear bomb capabilities, “why didn’t you bring your urgent warning about Iran going nuclear sooner? Oh wait, you did. Apparently time was also running out 19 years ago.”

The perennial satirists at The Onion focused on a different tension underlying Speechgate: Netanyahu’s strong alignment with the U.S. Republican party. In a piece titled “Netanyahu Doubles Down Against Obama With PowerPoint On Perils Of Affordable Care Act,” the Onion imagines Netanyahu as a politician with a purely Republican view on a purely American topic.

“Why should the government be making health care decisions for us?” the fake Netanyahu asks after calling the ACA an “unconstitutional” overhaul.

They didn’t stop there: A second Onion piece questioned whether Netanyahu has a sincere relationship with President Obama or is just using him for the “economic aid” and “weapons” that the U.S. annually sends to Israel.

Andy Borowitz, of the New Yorker’s “Borowitz Report” blog, took the Obama-Boehner-Netanyahu feud a step further. In his piece “Boehner Calls Netanyahu Closest Ally In Fight Against Obama,” Borowitz put some of Bibi’s words into the House speaker’s mouth.

“Even as the President threatens us with provocative acts, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s support for us has been unwavering,” Boehner says in Borowitz’s piece, echoing rhetoric Netanyahu repeated in his speeches at the AIPAC conference and on Capitol Hill. Of course, Borowitz substitutes Obama for Middle Eastern aggressors, Netanyahu for Obama and Boehner for Netanyahu.


For Vail’s Chabad rabbi, inspiration comes on ski slopes [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

Dovid Mintz, the Chabad rabbi in Vail, Colo., works the phone trying to corral a minyan on a powdery morning at one of North America's most popular ski towns. (Uriel Heilman)

Dovid Mintz, the Chabad rabbi in Vail, Colo., works the phone trying to corral a minyan on a powdery morning at one of North America’s most popular ski towns. (Uriel Heilman)

VAIL, Colo. (JTA) — When Dovid Mintz was growing up around the corner from the Lubavitcher rebbe in Brooklyn, he never imagined he’d find inspiration for Jewish outreach work on a black-diamond ski slope.

But after one of his nine siblings took up the post of Chabad emissary in Aspen, Colo., Mintz began making the trek to the Rockies to help out on holidays. He soon found himself drawn to the mountains of western Colorado – not, like so many others, for the skiing, but for the potential for Jewish outreach.

Located midway between Denver and Aspen, and home to the second-largest ski resort in the United States, Vail was chock-full of vacationers, retirees and ski bums — many of them Jews ripe for outreach. At the time, the only synagogue in town, B’nai Vail, did not hold regular Shabbat services.

Nearly a decade since he moved to Vail in 2006 (following another older brother who opened a Chabad center in s Denver suburb in 2004), Mintz says skiing gives him the emotional fuel for his Jewish outreach work. He’s on the snow about once a week, often with his kids and sometimes with his wife, Doba, who wears a skirt over her ski pants.

“Skiing with your family is one of the most powerful experiences in all of life,” Mintz, 33, told JTA. “You’re in your own domain, nothing can get in your way. You’re with your kids on the top of the world. Wow. We did it. What are we doing next? What are we going to fulfill?”

Many of the challenges Mintz faces are familiar to Chabad emissaries, or shluchim, the world over. He’s both rabbi and fundraiser, program director and spiritual leader, sexton and caterer. It’s tough getting a minyan — the quorum of 10 men required for Orthodox prayer. He struggles to instill in his kids a strong Hasidic Orthodox identity while balancing their need for a healthy social outlet in a place with practically no other religiously observant Jews.

But Mintz has come up with some unique responses to these challenges.

A techie working with Mintz created an automated “minyan maker” program that allows visitors to sign up for potential weekday services on Chabad of Vail’s website and receive automatic notification if 10 men or more commit to coming. Mintz has shared the technology with a handful of other Chabad centers. Morning minyans are held at Chabad’s rented space at Vail Run Resort. Afternoon minyans usually meet near a Starbucks shop, and worshippers come in their ski boots.

Vail doesn’t have a kosher restaurant, so Mintz employs a full-time chef to cook meals visitors can order for delivery to their hotel or condo. The service, which provides double-wrapped entrees so consumers can warm up their food without fear of non-kosher contamination, generates a modest profit.

And then there’s the skiing. The eldest of Mintz’s three kids, 6-year-old Isaac, spends several hours a day studying in an online school for the children of Chabad emissaries. But he gets in-person socialization by ice skating and at ski school, where he takes lessons twice a week. Hanging out with non-Jewish peers has also taught the boy a valuable skill, Mintz says: The ability to stick to his Jewish commitments even when tested with, say, the offer of non-kosher pizza at a friend’s birthday party.

“It doesn’t even bother him that he can’t have the pizza,” Mintz said. “That discipline you give them, they become masters of themselves. He’s capable of overcoming this.”

Plus, Mintz noted, the other kids’ families by now are familiar with their dietary restrictions and are respectful of them; they always make sure to have kosher snacks on hand.

On Shabbat, when up to 25 people may show up for meals, the Mintz children welcome guests, handing out yarmulkes and setting up the Kiddush table. On Passover, up to 200 people attend Chabad’s seders. Mintz says he has outgrown his current space and has begun fundraising in earnest for $4.5 million to buy a permanent property in Lionshead, one of Vail’s base villages.

With some 5,300 acres of terrain, Vail is the third-largest ski resort in North America. (Uriel Heilman)

With some 5,300 acres of terrain, Vail is the third-largest ski resort in North America. (Uriel Heilman)

Vail isn’t just any ski town. It’s home to the third-largest ski area in North America, with nearly 5,300 acres of terrain. That’s about eight times larger than nearby Aspen Mountain, 11 times larger than Stowe in Vermont, and more than 20 times as big as New York’s Hunter Mountain. World-famous skiers Lindsey Vonn, Sarah Schleper and Mikaela Shiffrin are all from Vail.

Chabad is not the only Jewish option here. B’nai Vail, an independent synagogue with about 230 members that’s been around since 1977, started holding regular Friday night services for the first time last summer after hiring an ex-Navy chaplain as its full-time rabbi. The services, which draw about 25 people, are held at the Vail Interfaith Chapel. There’s also a Hebrew school with about 50 kids that meets every Sunday — except for weeks when the kids have ski races.

“The people here didn’t move to Vail for a Jewish life. They moved to Vail for the outdoors,” B’nai Vail’s rabbi, Joel Newman, said. “But now that they’re here, they say: What is there Jewish that we can participate in?”

Newman, who is affiliated with the Conservative movement, says he doesn’t compete with Chabad. B’nai Vail has no Shabbat morning service, and he says his congregants typically don’t want the Hebrew-only service with gender-segregated seating that Chabad offers.

“It’s like two restaurants: He’s Chinese and we’re Italian,” said Newman, who at 62 still skis.

Some of the Jews who end up at the Chabad seek it out, but many discover it by accident when they spot Mintz on the mountain. Though he hardly stands out in his ski gear, the tzitzit ritual fringes that hang over Mintz’s snow pants are a dead giveaway.

Mintz says that being a shaliach in Vail is like a dream come true.

“We’re pumped to be here. We have that excitement, energy and motivation that we want to be here, fulfilling the rebbe’s shlichus,” or mission, he said. “This is who we are, this is what we embody. And then you get the skiing, and that’s a bonus.”

Ten senators tell McConnell they object to fast tracking Iran bill [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Ten senators who caucus with Democrats are objecting to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s plan to bring the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 directly to the Senate floor for a vote, thereby bypassing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The senators, among them Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), sent a letter to McConnell urging him not to fast track the bill, but rather to allow for negotiations with Iran to continue until at least the March 24 deadline for a political framework agreement. Because a final agreement is not expected until June, there is no reason to rush the vote, the senators wrote.

“We are disappointed that you have proceeded outside of regular order, which suggests that the goal of this maneuver is to score partisan political points, rather than pursue a substantive strategy to counter Iran’s nuclear ambitions,” the senators wrote.

The senators also wrote they would only vote for the bill after it has gone through regular procedures and been debated by the Foreign Relations Committee. Signing the letter were Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Bill Nelson (D-Fl.), Joe Donnelly (D-In.), Angus King (I-Me.), Chris Coons (D-De), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)

Homeland Security bill includes $13 million for religious and other nonprofit groups [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Funding for the Department of Homeland Security passed by Congress Tuesday includes $13 million for security at religious and other nonprofit institutions.

The Orthodox Union, Jewish Federations of North America and Agudath Israel of America applauded the passage of the funding bill, which still needs to be signed into law by President Barack Obama. The three organizations had spearheaded efforts to get the funding for religious and nonprofit institutions approved.

Since its inception nine years ago, the Nonprofit Security Grants Program has provided more than $110 million to Jewish schools, synagogues and other nonprofits. The money can be used for security training and improved security infrastructure.

“Anti-Semitism continues to grow abroad and at home, and the NSGP is essential to ensuring the safety and security of our community’s synagogues and schools,” said Nathan Diament, OU executive director for public policy.

Palau moves to stem the flow of package holiday makers from China [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

The government of Palau is taking drastic action to reduce the flood of tourists heading to the country from China by ordering a 50 per cent cut in the number of charter flights.

Under-20 soccer squad named 2014 Fiji Sports Team of the Year [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

Three months out from their debut at the Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand, Fiji's young soccer stars have returned from a tour of South East Asia to be hailed as their country's Sports Team of the Year for 2014.

Netball: Superleague returns to Fiji [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

It's taken six years of hard work but top level netball is back in Fiji with the first round of Superleague matches to be played this weekend.

New Zealand accused of spying on Pacific neighbours [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

New Zealand is spying on some of its closest Pacific neighbours and passing the information on to the United StatesThat's according to reports in the New Zealand Herald based on documents released by the fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Solomon Islands to benefit from disaster risk map training [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

Government staff in Solomon Islands have begun training to learn how to create, access and interpret disaster risk maps.

Observers vital fo Pacific tuna industry, researcher says [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

An Australian researcher says fisheries observation is proportionally as significant in Pacific island states as the mining industry is to Australia.

Pacific authorities review management of region's fisheries [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

The future management of the Pacific's coastal and inshore fisheries, which span more than 30 million square kilometres, is under review at a series of forums at the headquarters of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community in New Caledonia.

Documentary traces fall and rise of French Polynesia's tattoo traditio [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

Traditional tattoos with a modern twist are now a common sight in French Polynesia.

Charity donation: Australians donating less to non-government organisations [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

A study finds that while Australians' disposable incomes have grown in recent years, the level of giving to non-government organisations has flatlined.

My Trip to University of Kentucky’s College Radio Station WRFL [Radio Survivor]

I had a wonderful trip to Kentucky a few weeks ago and a highlight for me was getting to visit four radio stations. I traveled to Louisville in order to attend the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM) conference and to see some friends. Lucky for me, two of those friends have […]

The post My Trip to University of Kentucky’s College Radio Station WRFL appeared first on Radio Survivor.

Democrats Fighting for Unions and Against the Economy [RedState]


Across the country, state governments have righted the ship from the brink of numerous fiscal disasters by decreasing the power of unions to coercively force members to join and to collectively bargain on non-salary issues (and thus hide budgetary costs). Within the private sector, the evidence continues to mount that unions are bad for the economy, bad for good employees, and bad for all workers in that they reduce the pool of available jobs.

Whatever the usefulness of unions in days past, in present day America they serve three purposes: 1) enriching union heads, 2) protecting lazy/bad employees, and 3) forcibly confiscating workers’ pay and using it to elect Democrats. Thus it is no surprise that at a time when union membership and popularity is at an all time low, Democrats are doing everything in their power to help unions, with the aid of the force of law, to coerce workers into joining unions and paying dues. As my #BATF colleague F. Bill McMorris notes:

House Republicans are moving to block President Obama’s top labor arbiter from implementing new union election rules that would give labor groups an advantage in unionization campaigns.

Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL)Heritage ActionScorecardRep. Bradley Byrne63%House Republican Average39See Full Scorecard63% (R., Ala.) told the House Subcommittee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions on Tuesday that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) would “radically alter” the labor landscape through regulation rather than legislation. Byrne and congressional Republicans are employing the Congressional Review Act to attempt to block the NLRB from implementing changes they say are contrary to the law passed by Congress.

“The Board’s real goal is to dramatically tilt the outcome of elections in favor of union leaders by ambushing employers and workers without allowing them to fully understand their decision. The American people are on the losing end of the Board’s extreme culture of union favoritism,” he said.

* * *

Unions can spend months and even years wooing employees to sign petitions for election. Employers can encounter accusations of interference if they attempt to sway the process during this time. The existing process gives them time to present workers with the potential downsides of unionization. A speedier election limits a company’s ability to make the case against organization.

Byrne said in his opening remarks that the NLRB’s actions follow a trend of executive overreach from the White House.

“The Board’s rule eviscerates the right of employers to speak freely to employees during an organizing campaign,” he said in his prepared statement. “Congress amended the National Labor Relations Act to ensure employers have an opportunity to communicate with employees about union representation. Congress took this action not only to promote the voices of employers, but also to protect employee choice through a robust debate of important issues. The Board is overturning, by executive fiat, what Congress has expressly permitted by law.”

At the end of the day, Congress’ action is probably going to end up getting vetoed by the President. And even though, yet again, this executive action clearly exceeds the NLRB’s authority under the law, Democrats will doubtless vote to uphold Obama’s veto because we do not have a functioning Congress that can act in any way towards Obama other than that of a cringing, servile dog.

Nevertheless, it is useful for the American people to know exactly whose side the Democrats are on. And it’s not on the side of prosperity, workers, the economy, or the rule of law. It’s on the side of union thugs and their confiscation of hard earned worker money to line Democrat campaign coffers.

The post Democrats Fighting for Unions and Against the Economy appeared first on RedState.

Why Hillary is a Different Kind of Clinton [RedState]

Download Podcast | iTunes | Podcast Feed

On today’s edition of Coffee and Markets, Brad Jackson is joined by Leon Wolf to discuss the winners and losers of CPAC, if Scott Walker’s background will help him in 2016 and why Hillary is a different kind of Clinton.

Related Links:

RedState 2016 Presidential Primary Power Rankings: Week 5
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The post Why Hillary is a Different Kind of Clinton appeared first on RedState.

Clockwise 77: A Computer for Ants [Clockwise]

Predicting the Apple Watch and hoping for a Retina MacBook air, encryption and paranoia, and the latest in curved screens.

This episode of Clockwise is sponsored by:

  • lynda.com: Great online training. Get a free 10-day trial today!

  • Loot Crate: Great geek and gamer gear, like getting a gift from a friend every month!

Patch day [Small Dead Animals]

"I have a router between the Internet and my computer, I don't need a dedicated firewall." - Said lots of people who don't believe in defence in depth and should know better.

D-Link addresses home router vulnerabilities.

So, if you've got a model listed you'll need to patch the firmware when your version is released.

Split decision. [Small Dead Animals]

The good and the bad.

A Superior Court judge has ruled that although Ottawa blogger Dr. Dawg was defamed on a conservative message board, the hurtful words fell within the bounds of fair comment in the rough and tumble blogosphere.

Good that heated and ill-thought rants aren't necessarily defamation.
Bad that blog administrators are responsible for the comments.

Keep the bad in mind, please and thank you.

Via, nold.

Buh-Bye [Small Dead Animals]

If you can't follow the rules of society, then society shouldn't have to live with you.

The legislation fits into the Harper government's tough-on-crime agenda and follows through on a promise made in the 2013 Speech from the Throne.

Can you say 'wedge'?

Update: The announcement.

This will include a mandatory sentence of life without parole for first degree murders involving:

sexual assault;
kidnapping or forcible confinement;
the killing of police officers or corrections officers; or,
any first degree murders that are found to be of a particularly brutal nature.

The Prime Minister also recently announced the Government's intention to introduce legislation that would end the practice of making early release available for repeat violent offenders.

Oh...Shiny Pony. [Small Dead Animals]

CTV link

Via, Shinypo Nywatch (Heh).

Should I Try Out Kindle Unlimited? [TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics]

Kindle Unlimited Rolled Out in Canada a short time ago, and I have been contemplating trying it out. There is a free trial option, but this does not make the decision as straightforward as it might seem because in order to avail myself of the free trial, I would have to convert my Amazon.com account […]

The post Should I Try Out Kindle Unlimited? appeared first on TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics.

Snowden, NSA spying, hard drive malware ... what we need is a UN privacy watchdog! [The Register]

EFF writes a very angry letter asking United Nations to write a very angry letter to the US

The Electronic Frontier Foundation thinks the United Nations needs to get its arse in gear and safeguard people's privacy from government snoops.…

Connected Data gets serious about the business of file sharing [The Register]

No public cloud security risk, you say

It’s now available in Europe – yep, Connected Data has upped its peer-to-peer, file sync ’n share game with Transporter for Business, a way of sharing files that has no public cloud security risk at all.…

Docker hires'n'acquires to cure its security, networking headaches [The Register]

Container wrangler adding staff to tackle top issues

Application container firm Docker is staffing up, having brought on new talent to further its security and networking development efforts.…

Complicit Kiwis sniffed Pacific comms says Snowden [The Register]


New Zealand snooped on friendly Pacific island nations' communications to hand the haul to the NSA, according to the latest nugget to pop out of Edward Snowden's PR machine.…

Uber snaps up hip map startup [The Register]

Taxi firm stops, opens door, orders deCarta to get in

Uber, the "sharing economy" company which rose to infamy for being accused of profiteering during the Sydney siege, has bought data mapping and search startup deCarta.…

'Data center OS' Mesophere plans 2015 hire and roadmap drive [The Register]

Integrated dream for big-data brains

When Mesosphere landed $36m VC funding in December 2014 it also released the first part of its Datacenter Operating System (DCOS).…

IBM buys 'deep learning' upstart Alchemy API, hires 40,000 devs [The Register]

Soz ex-staffers, we want people who can smarten up Watson-as-a-cloud

Big Blue has taken a break from its busy axe wielding cost-cutting schedule to buy startup AlchemyAPI and hire 40,000 new developers.…

Shields up! Nvidia fires a 4King Android cannon at games console planet [The Register]

Can it play Crysis? Yes.

Pic  Nvidia is tossing its hat into the already crowded home console market with an Android-powered gaming device.…

WHY are GoDaddy and Verisign stockpiling patents? Do I smell war? [The Register]

Is the domain-name industry heading into a techno-legal battle?

A raft of patent applications has presaged a possible legal war in the rapidly expanding domain-name industry.…

Sophie the Stegosaurus was a teenaged fat lass claims triple-D model [The Register]

She's not fat, she's big boned

Pic + vid  Scientists at the Natural History Museum have used 3D models to work out what its famous Stegosaurus would have weighed when she was alive. And the answer is: a lot.…

International effort to wrangle t'internet from NSA fizzles out in chaos [The Register]

Is it time to put web governance effort out of its misery?

The launch of the ICANN-Brazil-led internet power grab dubbed NetMundial has been cancelled for a second time, raising questions over its continued existence.…

FREAK show: Apple and Android SSL WIDE OPEN to snoopers [The Register]

OpenSSL, iOS and OS X tricked into using weak 1990s-grade encryption keys

Security researchers are warning of a flaw in OpenSSL and Apple's SecureTransport – a hangover from the days when the US government was twitchy about the spread of cryptography.…

Smaug just melted the flesh off my bones in virtual reality [The Verge - All Posts]

Let's get this out of the way up front: I'm a huge fan of all things Tolkien, so there was no way I wasn't going to enjoy Thief in the Shadows. It's a virtual reality experience that Epic Games built in partnership with Weta Digital, the New Zealand-based digital effects studio responsible for the fabulous digital creatures in Peter Jackson's two Middle-earth film trilogies (among many other things).

Thief in the Shadows uses the Oculus Rift to put you in the hairy feet of Bilbo Baggins as he faces off against the massive dragon Smaug in a modified scene from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. It's a great choice of a scene to show off VR — after The Hobbit logo filled my field of vision, just as it does at the beginning of the...

Continue reading…

Xbox caters to Twitch and YouTube streamers with upcoming Windows 10 app [The Verge - All Posts]

Microsoft has big plans to bring gaming on Windows 10 and Xbox One closer together. One key to that strategy is the Xbox app the company announced back in January, which lets you access Xbox Live features from your PC. And after checking out a demo of the app at GDC in San Francisco, one thing is pretty clear: Microsoft is trying to tap into the booming market of Twitch game streamers and YouTube personalities.

"It's our aspiration to make every game better on Windows 10."

Your Xbox One already lets your record gameplay footage and share it on multiple services, but when you bring that concept to your PC the functionality opens up quite a bit. Using the Xbox app on Windows 10, you can browse all of the clips you recorded on your...

Continue reading…

Apple won't start manufacturing 'iPad Pro' until September, says Bloomberg [The Verge - All Posts]

"Delays involving the supply of display panels" have resulted in Apple pushing back manufacturing of its oft-rumored "iPad Pro" to sometime in September, Bloomberg reported today. The company had initially hoped to kick off production of its largest iPad yet this quarter, according to the report. If Apple sticks to its established cycle of announcing new iPad hardware, it's possible the larger tablet could still be unveiled sometime in October or in the weeks thereafter — though the display issues mentioned by Bloomberg could constrain supply.

Rumors of an iPad Pro with a 12.9-inch display have persisted for months, with many expecting the device to slot in between tablets and Apple's MacBook line with more powerful hardware and...

Continue reading…

Etsy seeks to raise $100 million in initial public offering [The Verge - All Posts]

Etsy, the online marketplace for arts and crafts and vintage goods, is seeking to raise $100 million in an initial public offering, the company said today. The decade-old company, founded by a carpenter named Rob Kalin, has expanded from its initial vision of a place for finding and selling handmade goods to an online storefront that now also includes mass-manufactured goods.

Continue reading…

Valve's virtual reality headset is great, but its controllers are the real story [The Verge - All Posts]

Valve has a lot of trust to regain when it comes to hardware. The Steam Machine concept — a fusion of consoles and gaming PCs, running Valve's own OS — was huge news in 2013 and early 2014, then dropped almost completely off the map, as it became clear that the strange, slightly yonic controller needed a redesign and manufacturers could just release their products as traditional gaming PCs. A year later, though, we've got a new game plan, a final controller design, and a virtual reality headset made in partnership with HTC. And Valve is doing something that no other major headset company is: trying to genuinely, practically reinvent the way we use our hands in virtual space.

Continue reading…

Apple begins preparing for next week's Watch event [The Verge - All Posts]

All this week, San Francisco's Moscone Center is hosting the annual Game Developers Conference — but literally right next door, Apple is preparing the Yerba Buena Center for Monday's big event, which is where Tim Cook and co. are expected to announce the final details of the Apple Watch. The decorations began in earnest today with the raising of the banner.

Above: This is generally where Apple has traditionally put its hands-on area following Yerba Buena press conferences.

The banner on the front door matches Apple's "Spring Forward" invitation.

Continue reading…

Up close with Ferrari's latest supercar, the 488 GTB [The Verge - All Posts]

The Ferrari 488 GTB is predictable. More power, more speed, more aggressive lines, and even more curves. It's a flowing, organic, aerodynamic shape that seems to have been hewn from some scarlet-red meteor landed near Maranello. It goes from 0 to 100kmh in 3 seconds flat. It has a track-ready 0.06-second response time to the accelerator. Predictable, yes. But boring? Never.

Continue reading…

Why video game engines may power the future of film and architecture [The Verge - All Posts]

Epic Games, the company best known for Gears of War, has a very different plan for this generation of video games — one that expands far beyond what games are typically assumed to be. Founder Tim Sweeney sat down at the annual Game Developers Conference to explain why the company has moved away from expensive boxed blockbusters to its ambitious strategy for the future.

“We realized the world was changing,” says Sweeney. “Last generation Epic was like this badass AAA game developer, but we were pretty remote. We’d ship a game every two or three years, it’d get a huge reception, and we’d go off and build another one.”

Continue reading…

The fast, furious, and futuristic cars of the Geneva Motor Show 2015 [The Verge - All Posts]

This year's Geneva Motor Show has been a special one, hosting the announcements for an usually large number of special cars — everything from McLaren's P1 GTR to the Koenigsegg Regera, a 1,500-horsepower hybrid capable of chewing up and spitting out virtually everything else on the road. Oh, and the very last Bugatti Veyron was shown here after a ten-year run.

Here are some of the highlights.

Continue reading…

The new Avengers: Age of Ultron YouTube trailer was off to a bouncy start [The Verge - All Posts]

Something was clearly amiss with Marvel Studios' new Avengers: Age of Ultron YouTube trailer, almost to the point of being unwatchable. It seems there was a bizarre stabilization filter on that's warping every frame — and causing the black bars to bounce around like crazy throughout the clip. (Update: It's fixed now, thankfully — all verb tenses updated from present to past.)

Here's Iron Man, for example:

It wasn't intentional (although it does make for some trippy art). Marvel is aware, however, and is working to fix it (Update: it's fixed — see above.) This is Executive Editorial Director of Digital Media Ryan Penagos (aka "Agent M"):

Continue reading…

Rules Of The Roadrunner [Transterrestrial Musings]

This is great. What a wonderful document: Chuck Jones's rules for writing the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. ht @AmosPosner pic.twitter.com/o5ziZymEcY — Saladin Ahmed (@saladinahmed) March 4, 2015

WordPress Problems [Transterrestrial Musings]

So I’m slowly beating the site into submission, but running into a few issues. First, I’m using a child theme of TwentyFourteen, in order to avoid making changes to the main templates. The way that works is that I add changes to the child style sheet, which then supercede the parent. But there are some … Continue reading WordPress Problems

The Email Plot Thickens [Transterrestrial Musings]

This is sort of an amazing exchange. Here’s the thing. She didn’t just use a non-government email address, like Gmail or Yahoo, or her ISP. She set up her own domain and server (though the server may be shared, that’s still unclear to me). That means that she has total control over what data is … Continue reading The Email Plot Thickens

Obama’s Iran Deal [Transterrestrial Musings]

Netanyahu shows that it’s lose-lose: This was no partisan pitch – this was a heartfelt appeal against allowing Iran — a country that has vowed to annihilate Israel — to access nuclear weapons. The outrage is not that Mr. Netanyahu addressed Congress; the outrage is that President Obama is pushing for a deal that so … Continue reading Obama’s Iran Deal

The Latest Walker Scandal [Transterrestrial Musings]

His spokeswomen are way too hot. He doesn’t have a chance of winning.


Whoever You Are; Wherever You Go [According To Hoyt]


I’ve been cleaning the attic at the other house. This means I’ve been stumbling on caches of stuff my kids just put up there to avoid really cleaning. I.e. when I said “clean your room” they’d run upstairs and stuff papers in the spare room. There, all clean. (Sigh.)

It’s a bit like an archeological dig. You find things you never expected, things you expected but didn’t know where there precisely, and then things that make you shake your head and say “you were there all the time.”

What I mean is, you go through life changing, right? I mean I know both my political orientation and my reading interests, not to mention my writing interests have changed drastically since even my early thirties (when I was a Libertarian with a capital L and no compromises. Before that I was more European.)

Even then there were certain facets of continuity. For instance even in my younger, waffling days, I always hated communism for the abomination it was. Having read Gulag Archipelago and been forced to study Marx in all courses in school for three years, I really had no illusions about the emotional/psychological mechanics of communism.

I just sometimes didn’t recognize early stage communism, or the dangers of other authoritarian regimes, particularly anti-communist ones.

But I can look back and think “Wow, I was someone else.” And then…

But we were talking about my kids.

I’ve mentioned here before that younger son found his “vocation” and his interest in school when he was thirteen and we went to a presentation at the natural history museum, and he got REALLY interested in space science.

I never thought he paid any attention before.

But I found an exercise from when he was 8 and he says his favorite things in life are fried chicken (hey, I make good fried chicken), comic books, and the space wing of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

I never noticed his interest before, possibly because we also had to drag him away from the dinosaur wing (he takes after me.)

But it was a moment of recognition, a moment of “oh, there you were all along.”

The same thing with stumbling on a drawing from Kindergarten from Robert with a cat (wearing glasses) named Tom. This was years before he even thought of writing Cat’s Paw.

And weirdly there is the fact I often can’t tell whose exercise book/composition book/fragment of story/picture I’m looking at. And neither can they. Now if you’d asked me, I’d have said that my kids are different as night and day, but apparently the continuity is there.

(Or to quote older son “Well, mom, it’s a kindergartner with an incredible vocabulary who, nonetheless, confuses m and w. We can’t say anything but that he’s yours for sure.”)

What I mean, other than bragging about the boys (semi-bragging. Man, before ten did they creative-spell. And sometimes creative-word) is that there is a continuity to you even when you don’t see it.

It reminded me of talking to my best childhood friend, 4? 5? Years ago (too long. She divorced, my life got crazy. I lost touch. And now I don’t even know how to get in touch with her.)

This was at a time I was fighting agents trying to push me in a literary direction (over a fun direction, I mean.)

And she said “Oh, yeah, I can see how you’d hate that, of course.”

Now, people who knew me later and met the more airs-adopting me thought I wanted to be literary, or even to join academia. But Isabel who knew me in elementary (she was my desk mate) saw the continuity. (The short tale is that literary is easy for me to do, and at some point you’ll do anything to break in. Easy to read and fun is much harder. I’m still working on it, okay?)

So, you know the thing about never forgetting which voice is yours? We all have to put on masks to survive (these days, often political masks. I came to realizing it wasn’t worth it, but to each his situation and judgment) but never forget who you really are.

Because in the end, one way or another, who you really are, what you really love and what you really believe, at the heart of it, have a way of surfacing.

And you’ll never get far running from yourself.

With Hillary Imploding, Now Traveling to Caucus State Iowa Is... Al Gore [Ace of Spades HQ]

Oh, yes. Okay this isn't really a real story (yet); more just people basically making things up because they need (as I need) something to post. But it is worth asking: If Hillary goes down, who do they have? Everyone...

Thoughts On Netanyahu's Speech: Much Ado About Nothing [Ace of Spades HQ]

My overwhelming reaction to yesterday’s speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is, “that’s it?” Maybe part of my reaction is based on having seen only part of the speech on TV but having read the transcript. Delivery and the...

Open Thread [Ace of Spades HQ]

Sergei Arsenevich Vinogradov, "Beach Morya, Alupka" (1917)...

Wednesday Morning News Dump [Ace of Spades HQ]

Quintessential Hillary Stopping The IRS Is Walker Ready For Primetime? Funny That It's Coming From WSJ: Republican Crony Capitalism ISIS Is Throwing Gay Men Off Buildings Petraeus Reaches A Plea Deal Pelosi Exits Chamber Before Netanyahu Hillary Ran Her...

Morning Thread (3-4-2015) [Ace of Spades HQ]

"I, for one, am shocked to see Hillary Clinton involved in recordkeeping and fundraising scandals," said no one who remembers 1996....

Overnight Open Thread (3-3-2015) [Ace of Spades HQ]

Thanks to CAC for filling in last night with very short notice. All of us should help out with AOSHQDD on the next election to say thank you for all he does around here. Do Not Mess With Former Major...

Neil Tyson Has Nothing to Say But He Says It An Awful Lot [Ace of Spades HQ]

Sorry, I'm just so sick about what Obama's done to this country, and what this country has permitted him to do. Enjoy, if you can, alleged Master of Science Neil Tyson repeatedly saying the same stupid shit to his sheep...

Make sure to follow Comedy Central on Snapchat so you can see... [http://atmidnightcc.tumblr.com/]

Make sure to follow Comedy Central on Snapchat so you can see the Digital Pod story with Kevin Smith!! 

Here is who’s on and what’s happening tonight on... [http://atmidnightcc.tumblr.com/]

Here is who’s on and what’s happening tonight on @midnight!

Our contestants: Kevin Smith, Jessica Chobot, & Matt Mira!


It’s International Pancake Day! Mmmm free pancakes. (Via IHOP


There are spiders in the wall! Nope! Nuh uh. Buh-bye. (Via YouTube


Shower with Your Dad Simulator! We promise this is only half as creepy as it sounds. (Via Yeah, Rip


Like all Greens, Lee Rhiannon cares deeply about Australian wildlife. Really, she does. It’s just that Lee can’t correctly identify Australian wildlife, probably because she’s…


Celeste Young – “a sustainability/climate change professional who works as a communication and operational specialist with a particular interest in innovation and the use…


It’s easy to win the admiration of Australian leftists. Just leave your wife and children, become a Muslim, shoot at dark-skinned people,…

How the iPhone Helped Federico Viticci Achieve a Healthier Lifestyle [Daring Fireball]

Inspiring story from Federico Viticci:

Two years after my last treatments, sometimes I still turn to my girlfriend and I tell her that it’s amazing we’re able to be together and walk and laugh and go shopping and drive and not be stuck in a hospital room that smells like aseptic plastic bags and wet floors. And I also feel like I’m not communicating this well or concisely enough — the instinct of walking and going places is so intrinsic in mankind, the joy of getting it back sounds grandiose to most people. I get it. But it still feels incredible and I want to write it.

Small steps, literally. Today I’m free and I can count steps on my iPhone. Big deal — cue sarcastic tweet. Yes. It is a big deal to me. Because every day that I open the Health app and I see a plunge in that chart or I launch Pedometer++ and I see a red bar, it’s a day that I wonder whether I’m wasting my time trying apps and workflows and being obsessed with the urgency of news instead of going out and holding my girlfriend’s hand or walking with my dad, whom I don’t call enough.

Headline of the Day [Daring Fireball]

Rurik Bradbury, writing for Trustev:

A hot and heavy headline at the Wall Street Journal, “Fraud Comes to Apple Pay,” gives the impression of some kind of security weakness in Apple’s new payment system, but it’s not justified.

What has happened is that Apple Pay itself is basically fraud-proof, so fraudsters have turned their attention to the next weakest link: credit cards before they’re added to an Apple Pay wallet.

This is classic fraud via social engineering. Criminals use stolen credit card details (which can easily and cheaply be bought on sites like Rescator.cm) and then trick banks into allowing them to be loaded onto an iPhone. Once loaded onto a phone, they can make purchases until the card is canceled.

Anything to get “Apple” into a headline at the WSJ.

Recode: ‘Sony’s $840 Smart Glasses Are Too Dorky to Be Believed’ [Daring Fireball]

Eric Johnson:

Hard as it might be to swallow, this is a real promotional video for a real product made by a real company with a $30 billion market cap. It’s the developer edition of Sony’s smart glasses, which are called SmartEyeglass (great name!) and will be available to the eager buying public in the U.S., U.K., Germany and Japan on March 10.

They cost $840.

I know they’re a “developer edition”, but jiminy are these things ugly. They make Google Glass look cool.

iOS 8 vs. iOS 3: Allowing Touch Input During Animations [Daring Fireball]

William Van Hecke made an interesting video showing a difference in iOS 7 and 8 from all prior versions of iOS — touch gestures are now ignored during system animations. For example, when you unlock your iPhone and the home screen animates into place. It used to be that you could start swiping between home screens during the animation. Now, you can’t.

I’d more or less gotten used to this, but now that he’s called my attention to it, it does seem rather annoying, and an inexplicable regression. A seven-year-old original iPhone shouldn’t feel more responsive than a brand new iPhone 6.

Update: I’m not sure that Van Hecke’s description of how older versions of iOS worked is quite right. I think it’s more like the old animations ended abruptly, whereas starting in iOS 7 they ease out slowly. The difference isn’t between being interruptible or not, but rather between ending quickly and ending slowly. The result, though, is what matters, and the result is that it feels slower.

Mark Wilson: ‘You Guys Realize the Apple Watch Is Going to Flop, Right?’ [Daring Fireball]

Kudos to Fast Company’s Mark Wilson for having the stones to predict, boldly, that “Apple Watch is going to flop”, calling it “Jonathan Ive’s Newton”. Pretty sure he has a bad read on the battery life though:

There’s only so much you can do with sapphire glass [sic] and power-efficient microprocessors. Current reports say the Apple Watch could burn out in times as short as 2.5 hours before needing a recharge. Best-case scenarios (you know, when you use it a lot less), might stretch its life to 19 hours. But a loyal user of the Apple Watch would be forced to take it off and recharge it four times during a workday. That’s absurd.

It would be absurd, which is why it’s not true. Wilson links to a CNBC report for that “2.5 hours” figure, but CNBC’s source is this original report by Mark Gurman at 9to5Mac. Gurman reported:

Apple initially wanted the Apple Watch battery to provide roughly one full day of usage, mixing a comparatively small amount of active use with a larger amount of passive use. As of 2014, Apple wanted the Watch to provide roughly 2.5 to 4 hours of active application use versus 19 hours of combined active/passive use, 3 days of pure standby time, or 4 days if left in a sleeping mode.

Battery life may well be a serious problem for Apple Watch. It’s no surprise that it was and will remain one of the hardest engineering problems on the project. But no one is saying you’re going to have to recharge it every three hours. That’s so dumb it makes one think Wilson is being willfully obtuse so as to bask in the contrarian limelight for a few days.

Saudi: "Obama is the godfather of the prefabricated revolutions in the Arab world" [Don Surber]

I dislike the House of Saud, which despite great wealth and education is an 11th century caliphate practicing sharia law. But Ahmad Al-Faraj, a columnist with the Saudi daily Al-Jazirah, ripped Barack Obama over the Benjamin Netanyahu speech, an indication that even the Saudi Arabians get what the stakes are in Iran.

And I agree with Ahmad Al-Faraj's assessment of President Obama as "the godfather of the prefabricated revolutions in the Arab world."

Obama's Cairo speech inspired the Islamic State and others to light up Northern Africa and the Middle East.

From Ahmad Al-Faraj:

"The Obama administration does not suffice with condemning Netanyahu's visit. Obama has announced that he will not meet with Netanyahu on the grounds that he does not meet with state leaders a short while before elections take place in their countries, [though] elections in Israel will take place weeks after the visit!! Likewise, American Vice President Joseph Biden, whose presence at Netanyahu's speech in Congress is expected by virtue of his constitutional role as Senate president, announced that he would be on a trip abroad [on the day of] Netanyahu's speech!! U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also said he would be in Switzerland meeting with the Iranians on the nuclear dossier and therefore would not be able to attend Netanyahu's speech!! What angers the Obama administration even more is that Netanyahu refused an official request by several Democratic Congressmen to meet with him during [his] visit!!…
"I will conclude by saying the following: Since Obama is the godfather of the prefabricated revolutions in the Arab world, and since he is the ally of political Islam, [which is] the caring mother of [all] the terrorist organizations, and since he is working to sign an agreement with Iran that will come at the expense of the U.S.'s longtime allies in the Gulf, I am very glad of Netanyahu's firm stance and [his decision] to speak against the nuclear agreement at the American Congress despite the Obama administration's anger and fury. I believe that Netanyahu's conduct will serve our interests, the people of the Gulf, much more than the foolish behavior of one of the worst American presidents. Do you agree with me?"
Well, he certainly ranks in the bottom five with Hoover, Andrew Johnson, Millard Fillmore and James Buchanan.


Anti-cop narrative fails in LA [Don Surber]

Over the years, I have learned two things: Cops cover for one another, cop critics lie. So when an event happens, such as the recent shooting death of a homeless man in Los Angeles, I bide my time.

It turns out the innocent homeless man was a violent French bank robber.

From the New York Daily News:

A homeless man shot dead by Los Angeles cops was a French crook wanted on a probation violation and a convicted robber who once knocked off bank to finance his Hollywood dreams, police sources confirmed.
Charley Saturmin Robinet, 39, and a couple of armed accomplices were wearing masks and carrying guns in 2000 when they stormed a Wells Fargo and ordered customers to the floor, authorities said at the time.
The violent stickup man pistol-whipped a teller and was caught with more than $33,000 in cash when cops busted him after a wild car chase.
The French national told investigators after his arrest he was desperate for money to pay for acting classes at the Beverly Hills Playhouse, the Los Angeles Times wrote in 2000.
His lawyer from the case told the Daily News he remembers Robinet stubbornly refused to plead guilty even though his co-conspirators both cut deals and cops had an airtight case. 
"The trial was ridiculous, there was so much evidence," attorney Steve Cron told the News. "I kept banging my head against the wall, trying to make him realize he wasn’t going to win and that he'd wind up with a much harsher sentence."
Robinet received 15 years in prison. With time served before sentencing, authorities released him last May.

I'll go out on a limb here and say police had little choice but to shoot and kill old Charley Saturmin Robinet. Nice to see a liberal lie exposed.


Facts not mentioned about guns [Don Surber]

Which state has the lowest gun murder rate in America?


Which state has never required a permit to carry a concealed weapon?


In writing in the Washington Post about states trying to emulate Vermont by allowing concealed weapons without permits, Jeff Guo of Storyline did not mention the lowest-in-the-nation gun murder rate of Vermont.

Wonder why?

The only person Jeff Guo quoted in the story was Brian Malte, the national policy director for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Jeff Guo's only other quote was an anti-gun editorial in the Idaho Statesman.

From the Washington Post story:

On Friday, permitless concealed-carry bill SB347 passed the West Virginia Senate and is in the hands of the House judiciary committee. Both West Virginia’s House and Senate flipped into GOP control after the 2014 elections.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) seems supportive of gun rights. Last year, he signed a bill limiting the ability of municipalities to control how people buy guns or where they may carry them. Regardless of how he acts, the legislature would be able to override a veto.
Not mentioned is the $90 a permit holder must give the local sheriff for a permit. The tens of thousands of dollars in permit fees amount to a slush fund for the state's 55 sheriffs with few restrictions on disbursement of the money. Don't be surprised if the Democratic governor vetoes the bill in an effort to keep the sheriffs happ,y as the Democratic Party's base continues to crumble in West Virginia.

The best thing about not requiring permits is there is no ad hoc gun registry.


Xerox should have listened to George Pake [Don Surber]

American Vignettes looks at physicist and research director George Pake, who could have made Xerox bigger than Microsoft and Apple combined, if only the company's board of directors had listened.

When the 1960s began, the office machines industry in America was dominated by IBM and Xerox. The two companies were big on research. Both companies invested heavily in basic research and development. Double Nobel physics laureate John Bardeen sat on the Xerox board of directors. He helped invent the transistor, and later developed a fundamental theory of conventional superconductivity known as the BCS theory. Pretty much, you would not have computers this sophisticated this soon without John Bardeen.

And yet, Xerox would miss the boat on personal computers. It was not for lack of effort.

In 1969, Xerox acquired Scientific Data Systems, a small computer company in California, to compete with IBM in that arena. Its chief asset were 12 computer engineers headed by by Max Palevsky, a veteran of Packard Bell and Bendix. Interestingly, he had undergraduate degrees in both mathematics and philosophy.

Xerox needed the company to develop its computer research. Xerox's chief scientist was physicist Jack Goldman, who had helped develop a sodium-sulfur battery for electric cars at Ford. A former instructor at Carnegie Tech, Goldman hired a former student, George Pake, to run the computer research facility.

Pake was provost at Washington University in St. Louis, as well as a top-notch physicist. The New York Times reported: "In 1949, his first year as a faculty member, at Washington University, he published a seminal article on nuclear magnetic resonance. It became a cornerstone for research that led to what is now a widely used medical tool: modern magnetic resonance imaging, or M.R.I."

In his fourth year of teaching, he was elected the chairman of the physics department. Four years later, he moved on to Stanford before returning as provost in 1962.

Pake convinced Xerox to set up the research facility near Stanford in Palo Alto, California, instead of locating the research facility near the corporate headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut. This was a good move for science, but it may have been a bad move for Xerox, because of the rule of out-of-sight, out-of-mind. Closer proximity to the bosses may have helped convince Xerox to get in the personal computer business.

For his Palo Alto Research Center, Pake recruited top men, such as Bill English who had helped Douglas Engelbart develop the mouse. At PARC, English would replace the wheels on the mouse with a ball. Researchers developed the laser printer, the computer desktop, and computer icons. But Xerox managers decided to stay out of the personal computer business.

But the advances PARC researchers developed did not go to waste. In 1976, in the garage of Steve Jobs, he and Steve Wozniak began building the empire that could have been Xerox's.

As for Pake, the New York Times reported:
Much has been made of the question of whether Xerox then ''fumbled the future'' by failing to become a leader in the personal computing industry, though it did capitalize on laser printing technology in particular, which more than justified its investment in PARC.
Because of Xerox's strong financial position, the laboratory's first half-decade was a halcyon period for it. But as the company encountered growing competition in the copier business, bitter battles developed within PARC over how resources should be allocated to support which research projects.
''Pake had to balance all of the resources,'' said Michael Hiltzik, author of ''Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age.'' ''Pake had to deal with the higher-ups'' while ensuring his researchers their freedom.
Dr. Pake left PARC in 1978, when he became Xerox's vice president for research. He held that job until 1986, then became director of the Institute for Research on Learning in Palo Alto.
Isaac Newton was right. Scientists stand on the shoulders of giants. It's just sometimes those giants go unheard by the rest of us.

All the previous American Vignettes.

You left out the Voting Rights Act of 1965 [Don Surber]

As governor of Massachusetts, Elbridge Gerry almost vetoed the redistricting plan for congressional districts in 1812. Instead, he let the partisan divide of districts go into law, attaching his name forever to Gerrymandering.

This is what happens when you don't listen to your conscience, kids.

Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post wrote, "This is the best explanation of gerrymandering you will ever see. How to steal an election: a visual guide." He failed to include the effects of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which is the main driver of gerrymandering tehse days.

This is what happens when you don't do your homework, kids.

You see, the reason Republicans keep winning at the re-districting game is that federal law requires districts be carved out for black Americans. That's good for most of the members of the Congressional Black Caucus (Republican Mia B. Love and a few others represent majority-white districts) and for Republicans.

Republicans are only too happy to push Democratic voters into a majority-black district. That makes it better for the Republicans in the other districts. Georgia and South Carolina have no white Democratic congressmen. That's funny when you consider white Democrats held the majority of the House and Senate seats in the Old Confederacy up until the watershed 1994 election -- 30 years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

A link to Christopher Ingraham's poor work.


NYT inoculates Hillary [Don Surber]

The New York Times rolled out another Clinton scandal today: "Hillary Clinton Used Personal Email Account at State Dept., Possibly Breaking Rules."

Smelling blood in the water, the guppies circle.

Don't set your self up for the inevitable disappointment when it comes to that criminal enterprise known as The Clintons. This scandal will die rapidly. The New York Times chose today to roll the story out for a reason: Netanyahu's showdown with Obama is bigger news that will drown this story out -- and breaking the story now starts the clock on the scandal. By the time the 2016 general election is here, this story will be 1 1/2 years old.

From the New York Times: "Mrs. Clinton did not have a government email address during her four-year tenure at the State Department. Her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act."

Thus anyone who had her email address was a crony, including the many people who call themselves journalists. Any one of them could have broken this story in the last five years without much work.

From William Teach:

While this is a big story, as broken by the New York Times, appearing in the Washington Post, Fox News, others, and a big pull at Memeorandum, how many are surprised in the least by this news, and are thinking about it in the same internal voice that says “plain cereal for breakfast? OK”?
Nothing will come of this.

Mollie Hemingway also saw the same old pattern: "1996 Called, Wants Its Clinton Fundraising And Document Scandals Back."

Apparently the media "misread" the Benghazi report and is now reporting on it.

Tom Maguire doesn't get it: "This just in -- Hillarity! doesn't think the normal rules apply to her."

They don't, Tom.

Talking Points Memo shifted the story so it looks like Jeb Bush is picking on her because she is a woman: "Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) took a shot at Hillary Clinton early Tuesday over a report that she exclusively used her personal email account to conduct business at the State Department."

The one hope is that the public looks at this scandal and says, you know what? Uh-uh. Not going through this Backwoods Soap Op'ry again by electing another Clinton.


Shaking electrons brings atoms to standstill [Ars Technica]

I often get enthusiastic about Bose Einstein condensates, fascinating materials where large groups of atoms show collective quantum behavior. The thing that really gets me going is the process used to make 'em. The main step is something called optical cooling. It may sound very simple, but in reality it is difficult and mostly doesn't work.

A recent paper in Physical Review Letters now adds a new optical cooling method to the physicist's range of tools. In doing so, this opens up a whole lot of new and exciting possibilities.

Like, just cool off dude

The typical optical cooling method is an exceptionally neat bit of physics. Think about a gas of atoms. They are having a fantastic time in life's mosh pit, flying in all directions and bouncing off one another with vim and vigor. But as with all good things in life, some old dude will turn up, complain about the noise, and generally suck all the entertainment out of life—everything just slows down. Slowing everything down is the easiest way to think of cooling.

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More IoT insecurity: This Blu-ray disc pwns PCs and DVD players [Ars Technica]

For more than a decade, malicious hackers have used booby-trapped USB sticks to infect would-be victims, in rare cases to spread virulent, self-replicating malware on air-gapped computers inside a uranium enrichment plant. Now, a security researcher says he has found a way to build malicious Blu-ray discs that could do much the same thing—without any outward signs that an attack was underway.

Stephen Tomkinson, a security consultant at NCC Group, said he has devised a proof-of-concept exploit that allows a Blu-ray disc to compromise both a PC running Microsoft Windows and most standalone Blu-ray players. He spoke about the exploit on Friday at the Securi-Tay conference at the Abertay University in Dundee, Scotland, during a keynote titled "Abusing Blu-ray players."

"By combining different vulnerabilities in Blu-ray players, we have built a single disc which will detect the type of player it’s being played on and launch a platform-specific executable from the disc before continuing on to play the disc’s video to avoid raising suspicion," Tomkinson wrote in an accompanying blog post. "These executables could be used by an attacker to provide a tunnel into the target network or to exfiltrate sensitive files, for example."

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Tech support scammer threatened to kill man when scam call backfired [Ars Technica]

Tech support scammers should probably just hang up the phone when a scam call goes wrong.

But one scammer took things to a new level by threatening to kill a man who pointed out that the scammer was trying to steal money.

As we've reported numerous times, scammers pretending to work for Microsoft tech support call potential victims, tell them their computers are infected, convince them to provide remote access, and then charge them hundreds of dollars to fix imaginary problems.

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One year later, Sony’s new Morpheus prototype is still VR done right [Ars Technica]

SAN FRANCISCO—Reloading a gun in home video games is crap.

Shooting is crap, too, in a way. Moving your mouse or tilting your joystick and hitting a button doesn't really simulate the feeling of aiming and firing a gun that well, but at least there's some directionality and physicality to it (especially if you're squeezing a shoulder trigger on a handheld controller). Reloading, on the other hand, is total crap as an analog for the real-world action it simulates. All you do is tap a button, then watch a canned animation of your avatar making a complex series of motions to refill an ammo clip precisely with an unseen trove of bullets that are just sitting in an unseen backpack or something.

I didn't really realize how unsatisfying and artificial this process really was until I played with the latest prototype of Sony's Morpheus virtual reality headset at GDC today. There, in a demo called London Heist, I ducked and dodged behind a solid wooden desk as assailants fired on me from all directions, popping out to aim carefully placed shots by moving and tilting the PlayStation Move controller in my hands.

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Nvidia’s Shield is a $199 Android TV streaming microconsole powerhouse [Ars Technica]

SAN FRANCISCO—At a Game Developers Conference presentation tonight, Nvidia revealed Shield, a living room gaming and 4K video streaming-focused extension of its existing portable- and tablet-based Shield game console line. The "streaming device on steroids," as an Nvidia rep referred to it, will be available in "early May" for $199 with an included controller.

The Android TV-based, Tegra X1-powered Shield will run a selection of controller-optimized Android titles natively—Nvidia says a curated selection of 50 such games will be available at launch, but others will also be playable from the Google Play store or even through sideloading. This includes all the games that already run on Nvidia's Shield portable and Shield tablet consoles; games purchased on one of those devices will be playable on the others through the same account. Nvidia also left open the option of games that takes particular advantage of the extra processing in the X1 chip, which doesn't have the kind of power restrictions that often limit chips on mobile devices. Nvidia compared the power of the chip favorably to the Apple TV and the Xbox 360.

To show off that power, Nvidia let Ars try a demo of Doom 3: BFG Edition running at full 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second on the Shield, with some decently advanced lighting effects bouncing down the game's narrow hallways. Nvidia also demonstrated Crysis 3 running on the console and said it's working with Crytek to port the full CryEngine to Android for use on the device. During the announcement event, Gearbox co-founder Randy Pitchford came on stage to announce that Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel will be coming to the console as well, alongside ports for the Xbox One and PS4.

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John Doerr says Kleiner Perkins is not a VC firm “run by men” [Ars Technica]

SAN FRANCISCO—“There have been a lot of female partners, junior and senior,” John Doerr, one of the more well-known venture capitalist partners at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, told the jury in a high-profile gender discrimination trial on Tuesday.

Doerr, who joined Kleiner Perkins in 1980, made a name for himself investing in companies like Google, Amazon, Intuit, and Electronic Arts as well as Twitter, Square, Zynga, and MyFitnessPal, before they hit the big time. He also personally hired Ellen Pao and supported her throughout her time at Kleiner Perkins.

Pao has alleged that Kleiner Perkins failed to promote her based on her gender, ignored her complaints about harassment from some of the other partners, and fired her in retribution after she filed her lawsuit against the firm. But Doerr today defended his firm’s actions in court.

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Valve announces $50 Steam Link streaming box, free Source 2 engine [Ars Technica]

On Tuesday, Valve Software continued its Game Developers Conference-related trickle of news by confirming scant details on a variety of initiatives. In addition to a few more details about SteamVR and a previously unannounced living-room streaming box, dubbed Steam Link, the company confirmed that its 11-year-old graphics engine, Source, will finally receive an upgrade in the form of the Source 2 engine.

The Source 2 news, which came via press release, confirmed that the engine would be made available to all budding game and graphics developers for free, and that it would receive a Vulkan-compatible build (previously known as Next Generation OpenGL). However, the news was otherwise incredibly light on details, meaning no license-cost information, no release date, and no new or upcoming games attached to the engine.

The original version of Source has powered every Valve-developed game since 2004's Counter Strike: Source, and Valve has previously dodged questions about an updated engine by claiming that the engine had been iterated on to adapt to newer computer and graphics solutions.

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Liveblog: Sony talks Morpheus VR at GDC 2015 [Ars Technica]

It's been more than a year since Sony first announced its leap into the VR headset market with the GDC 2014 unveiling of Project Morpheus. Since then, there's been a new Oculus development kit (and a new behind-closed-doors prototype), a commercial release for the Oculus-powered Gear VR, and the recent announcement of the Valve/HTC-powered "Re Vive" headset. So today, Sony is holding an "intimate event" to update the press and the public on where the Morpheus effort stands in the quickly changing VR world.

Sony is holding the event details close to its chest, but we wouldn't be shocked if the PlayStation maker is ready to give official name, pricing, and/or release date details at the event. A few big name first-party game announcements or third-party game announcements would also go a long way toward convincing skeptics that their PlayStation 4 needs a pair of LCD goggles attached. Given how quickly LCD display and head-tracking technology is advancing, we'd also expect that the headset might now have more impressive specs than what we saw a year ago.

We're expecting roughly an hour of announcements starting at 3pm Pacific time, followed by some hands-on time with whatever Sony has on hand. Whatever it is, you'll hear it here first.

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Photo - Apache Landing [BLACKFIVE]

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Nicholas Ferris signals to an AH-64 Apache helicopter during deck landing qualifications aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry in the Arabian Gulf, Feb. 24, 2015. Ferris is a boatswain's mate. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Adam Austin

Why Watching the Watchers Isn’t Enough: My Talk on Privacy, Snowden & Bill C-51 [Michael Geist]

Last month, I had the honour of speaking at the Pathways to Privacy Symposium, a privacy event sponsored by the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and hosted by the University of Ottawa. The event featured many excellent presentations (the full seven hours can be viewed here). My talk focused on the recent emphasis on the need to improve oversight, a common refrain in reaction to both the Snowden surveillance revelations and Bill C-51, the anti-terrorism bill.  While better oversight is necessary, I argue that it is not sufficient to address the legal shortcomings found in both Canada’s surveillance legislation and Bill C-51. The full talk (which unfortunately has slightly delayed sound) can be viewed here or below.

The post Why Watching the Watchers Isn’t Enough: My Talk on Privacy, Snowden & Bill C-51 appeared first on Michael Geist.

Police Charge Ohio Democrat With Faking His Own Kidnapping [The Other McCain]

Some media are calling Adam Hoover a “gay rights activist,” which is really just a clever way of saying “Ohio Democrat”: A suburban Cincinnati gay rights activist was charged with a misdemeanor early Tuesday after police say he falsely claimed online that he was kidnapped and thrown in the trunk of his car, NBC affiliate […]

Not Making This Up [The Other McCain]

Child killer Polly Chowdhury (left) and her lesbian lover Kiki Muddar (right) A crime story that has everything: A Muslim lesbian was today found guilty of torturing her eight-year-old daughter to death with the help of her vampire-obsessed lover. Polly Chowdhury, 35, became convinced Ayesha Ali was ‘possessed’ and that she needed to be ‘punished’ […]

The Motives of Moody Loners [The Other McCain]

Last month’s shooting in Chapel Hill, N.C., sparked a raging online argument over whether it was (a) an anti-Muslim hate crime or (b) a dispute over a parking space. The insistence that the motive for the crime was either one or the other omits the possibility that it was (c) both or (d) neither. The victims […]

That Carlin Bit About ‘Just Cleaning His Gun When It Suddenly Went Off. . .’ [The Other McCain]

by Smitty Americans need to understand that, far from breaking any of our laws, Her Majesty is simply a law unto herself. How kowtow now, brown cow? — IGotOverMachoGrande (@smitty_one_each) March 4, 2015 Emphasis mine: Hillary Clinton’s exclusive use of a personal email account to conduct official business as secretary of State caused seems to […]

Two California Teachers Charged in Beach Sex Party With Five Teenage Boys [The Other McCain]

Alcohol, blowjobs and cocaine — the California ABCs: Two teachers who were arrested in January for allegedly having a beach sex party with five male students have been hit with new charges – including that they supplied cocaine to the minors. Melody Lippert, 38, and Michelle Ghirelli, 30, from the Los Angeles suburb of Covina, […]

On the Next Tech Talk: Alexa, what’s an Amazon Echo? [The Travelin' Librarian]

In this month’s Tech Talk (March 23rd) I will be performing a live demonstration of the Amazon Echo, a voice-controlled personal assistant, radio, and information device. I’ll also use the Echo as a jumping off point for a discussion of other current and future voice-controlled technology.

In this monthly feature of NCompass Live, the NLC’s Technology Innovation Librarian, Michael Sauers, will discuss the tech news of the month and share new and exciting tech for your library. There will also be plenty of time in each episode for you to ask your tech questions. So, bring your questions with you, or send them in ahead of time, and Michael will have your answers.

Register for free @ http://nlc.nebraska.gov/scripts/calendar/eventshow.asp?ProgID=13886

The post On the Next Tech Talk: Alexa, what’s an Amazon Echo? appeared first on The Travelin' Librarian.

The Misery Index is at a 56-year low. It needs to be replaced [AEI » Pethokoukis]

If you judge the US economy according to the 1970s-created Misery Index, times are pretty good. Inflation is low (thanks in part to low gas prices), unemployment is down (the Not-So-Great Recovery continues), therefore the Misery Index suggests an economy brimming with joy and contentment. And some other measures confirm that take. As the WSJ’s Josh Zumbrun notes in his piece on the index: “Economists may have caveats about the Misery Index; but consumers have fewer hang-ups. The Conference Board’s measure of Consumer Confidence and the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment index in January reached the highest since 2007 and 2004, respectively.”

A few points here:

First, among those caveats that Zumbrun mentions is that the official jobless rate may be giving a misleading picture of labor market health. While the 5.7% U-3 rate is just 1.3 percentage points above its prerecession low, the broader U-6 unemployment-underemployment rate is 3.4 points above its prerecession nadir. What’s more, the employment rate — the share of nonjailed, nonmilitary adults with any job —  is still way closer to its recession low than its prerecession high. And while job creation is up, wage growth has been pretty stagnant.

Second, cheaper gasoline has brought down the inflation rate. Great. But prices weren’t rising very fast even before the oil price plunge, and that was probably a holdover of the Great Recession’s adverse shock to demand. Low inflation isn’t always a good thing.

Third, while consumer confidence numbers are up, the higher savings rate may suggest a lack of confidence in the recovery. More from the WSJ: “Americans are taking the money they are saving at the gas pump and socking it away, a sign of consumers’ persistent caution even when presented with an unexpected windfall.” That attitude seems more in line with this gloomy chart:


Fourth, so what might a new-and-improved Misery Index be and show? Well, how about combining the 11.3% U-6 rate with about a 3% college tuition inflation rate, of great concern to many American families. That would give us a 14.3% New Misery Index, comparable to what we saw in the 1970s. Yes, I know it’s not perfectly comparable, but that may give a better rough sense of modern American economic well being than that of the old Misery Index

The post The Misery Index is at a 56-year low. It needs to be replaced appeared first on AEI.

The warmist, nanny-state left [halls of macadamia]

You look hard enough... you'll see, without exception, they all have a crumpled, stained blue dress in their closet.

Just one more loogie in an ocean of larcenous Liberal spit.

SCOTUSblog reports from the oral argument in King v. Burwell. [Althouse]

By Eric Citron. Excerpt:

[Justice Kagan... offered (something like) the following example:  Imagine I tell law clerk A to write a memo, and law clerk B to edit law clerk A’s memo, and then I tell law clerk C to write such memo if law clerk A is too busy.  And imagine that happens – law clerk A is too busy, so law clerk C writes it.  Should law clerk B edit it?... In response, petitioner’s counsel said that the context mattered, and it would depend on whether the Justice was indifferent between law clerk A and law clerk C writing the memo in the first instance.  But that seemed to play into Justice Kagan’s hand, who made clear that this was her point – that in understanding this text, the context obviously mattered....

[Justice Kennedy]... pointed out that, under petitioners’ reading, the federal government would be all but forcing states to create their own exchanges.... not just [because otherwise] their citizens would be denied benefits... [but also because] state insurance systems will fail if the subsidy/mandate system created by the statute does not operate....  For Kennedy, that seemed to make this case an echo of the last healthcare decision, where the Court concluded that it was unconstitutional coercion for the federal government to condition all Medicaid benefits in the state on expanding Medicaid therein....  Justice Scalia attempted to respond on petitioners’ behalf that such concerns do not enter if the statute is unambiguous, but Justice Kennedy reiterated his concern with adopting a reading that would create such a “serious unconstitutional problem.”
ADDED: I need to see the whole transcript — context matters! — but if this accurately portrays Kennedy's overall analysis, I think the government will win. This idea is that the challengers' interpretation asks the Court to read the statute to do something that would have to be stricken down as unconstitutional, because it would coerce the states to set up the exchanges. Congress lacks the power to commandeer the states and may only offer the states a choice. If the incentive to make the choice Congress wants is too heavy-handed — as it was with the Medicaid expansion in the 2012 Obamacare case — the would-be incentive is viewed as coercion. So if the provision is unconstitutional under the challengers' interpretation, in Kennedy's view, he will have reason to agree with the government's interpretation (that is, he would follow the doctrine of constitutional avoidance).

AND: SCOTUSblog has a second person, Tejinder Singh, also doing mid-argument reporting. Excerpt:
Justice Breyer [noted] that if the phrase “established by the state” is read to exclude exchanges created by HHS, then other provisions of the statute that also use that phrase would be rendered inoperative or nonsensical... The statute provides that insurance shall be made available on exchanges to “qualified individuals,” and further defines a “qualified individual” to mean, “with respect to an Exchange, an individual who” both wants to enroll in a qualified plan, and also “resides in the State that established the Exchange.” The government, as well as Justices Breyer and Kagan, argue that if the only way for a state to “establish” an exchange is to create it on its own, then there would be no “qualified individuals” in states that failed to do so, and therefore there would be nobody on the [HHS] exchanges (and, as Justice Kagan surmised, no product to sell on the exchanges).

Matt Drudge really wants us to talk about how cool Martin O'Malley is. [Althouse]

This trio of images has been up at Drudge for so long that I feel like it won't go away until we talk about it. So here it is:

Have at it.

1. What's that Obama hand signal?

The “hook ‘em Horns” sign is not to be confused with the shaka sign — another hand gesture frequently used by Obama. That’s when surfers and, especially, people from Hawaii extend their thumb and smallest finger as a way to say “hang loose.”
2. Remember when Hillary banged her head and had to wear sunglasses? Then she looked at her phone and it made her seem like someone annoying from L.A. 

3. Why is Martin O'Malley showing his arms while playing guitar? "Your basic semi-pro, rebel song-singing, reel and jig-playing Celtic rock band, it’s the sort of act that has more enthusiasm than skill, more heart than polish…O’Malley — looking quite buff, thanks to a sleeveless T-shirt that showed off his muscular arms…"

4. The 3 images together? Is it a coolness contest? A youth comparison? A specific argument against Old Lady Clinton?

"Do you wonder why people are so mixed up when the bimbos the TV stations send out don’t even know what the bill does?" [Althouse]

Said Mark Belling on the radio, using a word that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Daniel Bice questions:

OK, "bimbo" is a little dated. Still, should Belling be using that term to deride female TV journalists? What's his term du jour for their incompetent male counterparts?
When I hear "bimbo," I think of "bimbo eruptions," a term coined by Governor Bill Clinton's chief of staff Betsey Ross Wright:
As deputy chair of the 1992 Clinton presidential campaign, Wright established the rapid response system that was responsible for defending Clinton's record in Arkansas and promptly answering all personal attacks on the candidate. During the 1992 campaign, Wright coined the term "bimbo eruptions" to describe rumors alleging extramarital affairs by Clinton. 
How sexual is the term "bimbo"? Can it just mean idiot or does Belling seem to be insinuating that the reporter is slutty?

By the way, "bimbo" originally referred to a male, as the "o" ending suggests. (It means "baby" in the original Italian.) The oldest English usage is for "A fellow, chap; usu. contemptuous." That goes back to 1919, with the female meaning arriving a decade later: "A woman; esp. a whore." That's from the (unlinkable) OED, which has a draft addition from 2004: "derogatory. A young woman considered to be sexually attractive but of limited intelligence. (Now the usual sense.)" The OED quotes a Woody Allen story from 1976, "The Whore of Mensa":
"I'm on the road a lot. You know how it is - lonely. Oh, not what you're thinking. See, Kaiser, I'm basically an intellectual. Sure, a guy can meet all the bimbos he wants. But the really brainy women - they're not so easy to find on short notice."
ADDED: I searched for "bimbo" in Carl Bernstein's book about Hillary "A Woman in Charge," and I found this quote from "one of her aides":
She doesn’t look at her life as a series of crises but rather a series of battles. I think of her viewing herself in more heroic terms, an epic character like in The Iliad, fighting battle after battle. Yes, she succumbs to victimization sometimes, in that when the truth becomes too painful, when she is faced with the truth becomes too painful, when she is faced with the repercussions of her own mistakes or flaws, she falls into victimhood. But that’s a last resort and when she does allow the wallowing it’s only in the warm glow of martyrdom—as a laudable victim—a martyr in the tradition of Joan of Arc, a martyr in the religious sense. She would much rather play the woman warrior—whether it’s against the bimbos, the press, the other party, the other candidate, the right-wing. She’s happiest when she’s fighting, when she has identified the enemy and goes into attack mode…. That’s what she thrives on more than anything—the battle.

"As it turns out, the Common Core standards used by a majority of K-12 programs in the country require that students be able to 'distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.'" [Althouse]

"And the Common Core institute provides a helpful page full of links to definitions, lesson plans and quizzes to ensure that students can tell the difference between facts and opinions."

See the problem? Well, this NYT op-ed writer does, in "Why Our Children Don’t Think There Are Moral Facts." One of the top-rated comments over there begins "I find this entire argument specious from the start. The phrase 'moral facts' is deliberately provocative...." I agree.

The op-ed writer, by the way, is named Justin P. McBrayer. I've got to say the name is just perfect, like a name in a satirical novel about politics.

McBrayer is associate professor at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, where he teaches ethics and philosophy of religion. That's a nice gig! (Fact or opinion?)

"Chilling comment on Adam Liptak's NYT piece on the South Carolina employment benefits lawyer who focused attention the statutory text that might wreck Obamacare." [Althouse]

Liptak's article about Thomas M. Christina is titled "Lawyer Put Health Act in Peril by Pointing Out 4 Little Words":

“I noticed something peculiar about the tax credit,” he told a gathering of strategists at the American Enterprise Institute.... He pointed to four previously unnoticed words in the health care law... They seemed to say its tax-credit subsidies were limited to people living where an insurance marketplace, known as an exchange, had been “established by the state.”...

“Resistance is futile,” Mr. Christina said at the 2010 Washington conference, referring to state officials. “You can’t get re-elected if you turn down free money that would otherwise have been paid as tax credits to your citizens.”...

Mr. Christina did not anticipate that the Internal Revenue Service would in August 2011 propose and in May 2012 adopt regulations interpreting the law to allow subsidies in all 50 states, including those where the federal government ran the exchanges.
37 states did turn down the money and the feds stepped in and set up exchanges in those states and offering the subsidies even though these exchanges were not literally "established by the state." So now there's a case in the Supreme Court, to be argued tomorrow, which would take away the subsidies in those 37 states.

There are 709 comments on Liptak's article right now. I don't hold the NYT responsible for all the comments. I certainly don't vouch for what my commenters say, but I would take this out if I saw it in my comments. In fact, I'm only showing a screen shot because I don't want to create searchable text here:

There's only that one pushback comment from NYHuguenot — which itself goes too far — and it only arrived 11 hours after Cold's chilling remark, which has 11 thumbs up. I read Cold's comment in the middle of the night and hit the "flag" icon but I couldn't bring myself to check any of the options. "Inflammatory" and "Personal Attack" seemed closest but not precisely apt. I decided to blog about it here instead. It's evil to waft the suggestion of a violent attack. It might influence someone, though it's certainly not an imminent enough incitement to support arresting Cold. It's evil, but it's also ludicrous for Cold to project her political will — her desire to preserve the legislation — onto the seriously ill, as if they'll use their waning hours on earth to go out on an attack — they've got nothing to lose — and they'll fixate on some lawyer who noticed something in a 900-page statute that was so terribly important and yet so miserably unread.

Closing The Loophole Allowing Terrorists To Buy Guns [The Captain's Journal]

Chuck Schumer wants to do just that.  It sounds oh so reasonable, right?

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is calling for passage of legislation prohibiting individuals on the U.S. terrorist watch list from buying guns.

The New York Democrat noted the arrests this week of three Brooklyn men on charges they conspired to join ISIS in Syria or carry out attacks at home. If they were on the terrorist watch list, the bill Schumer’s backing would have prohibited them from buying firearms or explosives.

The watch list prevents individuals from flying on airplanes into and out of the country.

The federal database used to check gun buyers currently prohibits convicted felons and people with certain mental illnesses from buying guns.

“There is a major loophole in the federal law that would make your jaw drop,” Schumer told WCBS 880. Astoundingly, under current law, known or suspected terrorists on terrorist watch lists or no-fly lists can legally purchase weapons and explosives anywhere in the United States.

“We’re announcing a bipartisan drive to close that giant and dangerous loophole.”

Schumer said information from the Government Accountability Office shows individuals on the terrorist watch list cleared background checks 455 times in 486 attempted gun buys in 2013 and 2014.

Well, the prohibition against people with “mental illness” from purchasing guns is pure bigotry as I have pointed out before.  They don’t have a propensity to crime any more than anyone else does.  As for the issue of “terrorists” trying to purchase guns, I’m not too worried about that as long as I have them too.  But more to the point, tell us who those terrorists are, Chuck?  Give us names.  Would they potentially be Americans who the FBI is watching because they believe in certain things?

So let’s run down the kinds of things that worry the federal government, shall we?

1. Those that talk about “individual liberties”
2. Those that advocate for states’ rights
3. Those that want “to make the world a better place”
4. “The colonists who sought to free themselves from British rule”
5. Those that are interested in “defeating the Communists”
6. Those that believe “that the interests of one’s own nation are separate from the interests of other nations or the common interest of all nations”
7. Anyone that holds a “political ideology that considers the state to be unnecessary, harmful,or undesirable”
8. Anyone that possesses an “intolerance toward other religions”
9. Those that “take action to fight against the exploitation of the environment and/or animals”
10. “Anti-Gay”
11. “Anti-Immigrant”
12. “Anti-Muslim”
13. “The Patriot Movement”
14. “Opposition to equal rights for gays and lesbians”
15. Members of the Family Research Council
16. Members of the American Family Association
17. Those that believe that Mexico, Canada and the United States “are secretly planning to merge into a European Union-like entity that will be known as the ‘North American Union’”
18. Members of the American Border Patrol/American Patrol
19. Members of the Federation for American Immigration Reform
20. Members of the Tennessee Freedom Coalition
21. Members of the Christian Action Network
22. Anyone that is “opposed to the New World Order”
23. Anyone that is engaged in “conspiracy theorizing”
24. Anyone that is opposed to Agenda 21
25. Anyone that is concerned about FEMA camps
26. Anyone that “fears impending gun control or weapons confiscations”
27. The militia movement
28. The sovereign citizen movement
29. Those that “don’t think they should have to pay taxes”
30. Anyone that “complains about bias”
31. Anyone that “believes in government conspiracies to the point of paranoia”
32. Anyone that “is frustrated with mainstream ideologies”
33. Anyone that “visits extremist websites/blogs”
34. Anyone that “establishes website/blog to display extremist views”
35. Anyone that “attends rallies for extremist causes”
36. Anyone that “exhibits extreme religious intolerance”
37. Anyone that “is personally connected with a grievance”
38. Anyone that “suddenly acquires weapons”
39. Anyone that “organizes protests inspired by extremist ideology”
40. “Militia or unorganized militia”
41. “General right-wing extremist”
42. Citizens that have “bumper stickers” that are patriotic or anti-U.N.
43. Those that refer to an “Army of God”
44. Those that are “fiercely nationalistic (as opposed to universal and international in orientation)”
45. Those that are “anti-global”
46. Those that are “suspicious of centralized federal authority”
47. Those that are “reverent of individual liberty”
48. Those that “believe in conspiracy theories”
49. Those that have “a belief that one’s personal and/or national ‘way of life’ is under attack”
50. Those that possess “a belief in the need to be prepared for an attack either by participating in paramilitary preparations and training or survivalism”
51. Those that would “impose strict religious tenets or laws on society (fundamentalists)”
52. Those that would “insert religion into the political sphere”
53. Anyone that would “seek to politicize religion”
54. Those that have “supported political movements for autonomy”
55. Anyone that is “anti-abortion”
56. Anyone that is “anti-Catholic”
57. Anyone that is “anti-nuclear”
58. “Rightwing extremists”
59. “Returning veterans”
60. Those concerned about “illegal immigration”
61. Those that “believe in the right to bear arms”
62. Anyone that is engaged in “ammunition stockpiling”
63. Anyone that exhibits “fear of Communist regimes”
64. “Anti-abortion activists”
65. Those that are against illegal immigration
66. Those that talk about “the New World Order” in a “derogatory” manner
67. Those that have a negative view of the United Nations
68. Those that are opposed “to the collection of federal income taxes”
69. Those that supported former presidential candidates Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin and Bob Barr
70. Those that display the Gadsden Flag (“Don’t Tread On Me”)
71. Those that believe in “end times” prophecies
72. Evangelical Christians

Well, let’s see.  I’m a Christian who believes abortion is murder, who supports secession, who has a negative view of the U.N., who stockpiles ammunition (as his budget allows), who believes in the right to bear arms, who is deeply concerned about immigration (and not just illegal immigration), who believes in the militia, who opposes the “new world order,” who believes that Islam is a fairy tale concocted by an evil pedophile for the purpose of keeping his roving band of murderers and thugs together, who believes that the American way of life is under attack and has been for a very long time … shall I continue?

You see, you are a potential terrorist, and Chuck wants to add you to the list of prohibited persons who cannot purchase firearms, coupled with universal background checks so you can’t do a person to person transfer.  Do you understand?

Notes From HPS [The Captain's Journal]

Kurt Hofmann:

OK then–what has changed in this supposed threat to law enforcement officers since 1986, when BATFE granted the exemption? According to that agency, the change is the appearance on the civilian market of pistols that can fire the round–pistols that unlike the single-shot models generally recognized as intended for sport, and not of much interest to people with nefarious, violent intentions, are repeaters. That, the BATFE tells us, is the difference …

“Millions upon millions of M855 rounds have been sold and used in the U.S., yet ATF has not even alleged – much less offered evidence – that even one such round has ever been fired from a handgun at a police officer.” And if the BATFE has no evidence of that, they certainly have no evidence of such a round having been fired from a handgun through an officer’s body armor–the “threat” that supposedly justifies the ban.

[ … ]

In the final analysis, to be free, we the people must have the means to present a credible threat to those who would presume to rule us–and to the enforcers of that rule–should they dare to slip the bonds of the Constitutional limits on their power. Ammunition that can penetrate government myrmidons’ armor, usable in a firearm that can be easily concealed, is a part of that threat–and that’s why the Obama regime wants it banned.

Read all of Kurt’s analysis.  Several interesting things may be noted about what Kurt has said.  I haven’t spent the time to give this proposed ban all the time it deserves, but now that I think about it, the ATF surely must know that their reasons for the proposed ban are at best head-scratching and at worst laughable.  If I had decided to go to war against police or anyone else – and I haven’t – I surely wouldn’t choose a SBR or “pistol” (i.e., barrel < 16″) without a stock.  An AR pistol, with its buffer tube, is just not concealable, and besides that, I’m not certain what being concealable has to do with anything anyway.  We may as well be debating the man in the moon and how he pertains to the price of eggs in China.

Anyway, Kurt cuts through the smoke in his last paragraph.  We must have the means – weapons and ammunition – to present a credible threat to those would would abuse authority over us.  Green tip ammunition, while not perfect for every scenario, allows increased penetration when it’s necessary (e.g., shooting through glass windows or walls when someone is shooting at us and we don’t want our rounds to ricochet off track).

Via David, here is JPFO’s position on the green tip ban.  Yea, yea.  It sounds like a lot of bluster to me without any willingness to do anything about it.

Speaking of JPFO, here is a communication from David Codrea:

Over the weekend, I submitted my resignation as a content contributor to and adviser for Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership. Here’s why:

Last week, I submitted my article on Mike Vanderboegh’s BamaCarry speech to KeepAndBearArms.com Newslinks, another website SAF bought. It never appeared.

It’s no secret there is hostility between Mike and Alan Gottlieb. And Mike was apparently told by some readers that Alan has forbidden articles by or about him to appear on any properties he controls.

Alan confirmed that was the reason for the piece being banned.

I had previously said that I do not align myself with organizations, but with individuals.  JPFO is hanging by a thread in my book, since Kurt Hofmann is the only reason I would have left to pay them any attention whatsoever.  IF they lose Kurt, they may as well drop of the face of the planet as far as I am concerned.  David’s loss is huge, and I am truly sorry for this loss of income for my friend David.

David Codrea:

News that can help shape the political landscape of the gun rights advocacy community was broken last night on the nationally-syndicated Armed American Radio program, when Larry Pratt, Executive Director of Gun Owners of America, announced GOA will begin scoring politicians on their support or opposition to amnesty for illegal aliens.

Good for Larry.  I appreciate his stance on this issue.  My views are well known, and align with the idea that immigrants from South of the border are a risk to gun rights.

Handgun “safety instructor” in West Virginia worried about constitutional carry bill.  Ya.  I’ll bet he is.

Jihadists try to capture a Christian girl, but she had a machine gun.  We have the Hughes amendment.

We are genetically more like our fathers [Dr. Helen]

This is according to a new study:

Like father, like son. And also like daughter, according to new research.

The University of North Carolina School of Medicine released a study Monday indicating mammals are genetically more like their fathers than their mothers, according to a statement from UNC.

“Specifically, the research shows that although we inherit equal amounts of genetic mutations from our parents – the mutations that make us who we are instead of some other person – we actually ‘use’ more of the DNA that we inherit from our dads,” the statement reads.

What? How dare mammals use more of the DNA from a father than a mother. There must be a government program or law that can change this inequality.

Are You Pondering What I’m Pondering? [hogewash]

I think so, Brain … but is it wise to let Porky in on our plans? He might squeal.

In Re a Contempt Petition [hogewash]

On 30 January, there was a hearing on my petition to have Bill Schmalfeldt found in contempt for his violation of the current peace order. Judge Stansfield has now ruled, and he has let Schmalfeldt off with a warning.

The Court will, therefore, enter an order dismissing the pending Petition for Contempt with a warning to the Defendant, WILLIAM M. SCHMALFELDT, with a warning that there should not be any future violations(s) of the Peace Order as entered.

Dawn and Ceres [hogewash]

Video Credit: NASA

Are You Pondering What I’m Pondering? [hogewash]

I think so, Brain … but if you’re allergic to alcohol, couldn’t you take shots for it?

Team Kimberlin Post of the Day [hogewash]

Back in 2013, I sought a peace order against Brett Kimberlin which was not granted by the District Court, and I lost my appeal to the Circuit Court. During the Circuit Court hearing, Brett Kimberlin told Judge Stansfield that he was not present when a subpoena for documents was served at his office in Cabin John, Maryland.


Uh, huh.

Quote of the Day [hogewash]

Learning how to live in the greatest peace, partnership, and brotherhood with all men and women, of whatever description, is a moving and fascinating adventure.

—Bill Wilson

MRU is nominated for an International Academy of Web Television award [Marginal REVOLUTION]

Here is the GMU press release:

Marginal Revolution University’s “Everyday Economics” video series has been nominated for an International Academy of Web Television award in the Best Documentary or Educational Series category.

There is more information here.

Just to repeat myself…. [Marginal REVOLUTION]

1. The obviously correct legal answer is to toss at least part of ACA back into the hands of Congress for a rewrite.  (There is rarely a well-defined “intent of the legislature” in most matters of detail, yet the wording itself is clear.)  But since many people do not like what Congress would do (or not do) in this situation, this is an option which cannot be discussed very much.  The critics would have to let on that they do not consider the current Congress to be a legitimate governing body.

2. Along the lines of my recent blog post, it is remarkable how many “ugly” pictures of Hillary Clinton I have seen since the email scandal broke.  Aren’t there pretty pictures of Hillary with a Blackberry?

Labor union sentences to ponder [Marginal REVOLUTION]

to raise labor share, unions have to decrease markups or the cost of capital; don’t see evidence or mechanism there

That is from A Macroeconomist, on Twitter.  A union which simply grabs for more from the employer will raise marginal cost and induce an offsetting boost in the price, restoring capital’s share (to some degree, depending on assumptions), and of course passing some of the burden along to consumers, most of whom are workers.  The tweeter did also note that unions might decrease income inequality within the category of labor, however.  Nick Bunker comments on that.  Via Kevin Lewis, here is a new and interesting paper on how unions might reduce wage inequality.  David Henderson comments on unions and prices.

I am often struck by the conflict between one supposition and one fact.  First, employers are supposed to be reaping some big surplus from hiring unskilled labor.  Second, when a downturn comes, it is unskilled labor who are laid off.

Sweet Briar will close [Marginal REVOLUTION]

I used to think it was a decent enough school, and now:

Sweet Briar College announced today that it is shutting down at the end of this academic year.

Small colleges close or merge from time to time, more frequently since the economic downturn started in 2008. But the move is unusual in that Sweet Briar still has a $94 million endowment, regional accreditation and some well-respected programs. But college officials said that the trend lines were too unfavorable, and that efforts to consider different strategies didn’t yield any viable options. So the college decided to close now, with some sense of order, rather than dragging out the process for several more years, as it could have done.

The story is here, and this is not the last such event of its kind.  Why is it failing financially?  Here is one take:

Sweet Briar officials cited overarching challenges that the college has been unable to handle: the lack of interest from female high school students in attending a women’s college like Sweet Briar, declining interest in liberal arts colleges generally and declining interest in attending colleges in rural areas. Sweet Briar is in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. “We are 30 minutes from a Starbucks,” said James F. Jones Jr., president of the college.

It seems to me that many other small colleges are in a far worse position, but are instead papering over the cracks, for how long I do not know.  Update: This revised version of the story has additional information.

Paging Indiana Jones: Who Doesn’t Love a ‘Lost City In the Jungle’ Story? [The PJ Tatler]

Well, here’s one now. With a Monkey God, too!

The jungle-choked remains of a “lost city”, abandoned by a mysterious civilisation several centuries ago and long fabled for reports of its gold and “monkey children”, have been uncovered in the depths of the rainforests of Honduras. A team of American and Honduran archaeologists, aided by the bushcraft and survival skills of former British SAS soldiers, has just emerged from one of the most remote locations on Earth with news of their stunning discovery.

The expedition was seeking the site of the legendary “White City”, also known as the “City of the Monkey God”, a goal for Western explorers since the days of the Spanish conquistadores in the 16th century. The city, believed to be one of many lost in the Mosquitia jungle, was home to an unknown people that thrived a thousand years ago but then vanished without trace – until now.

Unlike the Maya, so little is known of this pre-Columbian culture that it does not even have a name.


“It shows that even now, well into the 21st century, there is so much to discover about our world,” said Christopher Fisher, the lead archaeologist. ”The untouched nature of the site is unique and if preserved and properly studied can tell us much about these past people and provide critical data for modern conservation,” he told the Telegraph.

The site is located deep in the Mosquitia, a vast and barely inhabited region of swamps, rivers, and mountains. To navigate the choking foliage, the team was guided by Steve Sullivan and Andrew Wood, the former SAS soldiers who are experts in bushcraft survival skills.

Like this, you mean?

Click here to view the embedded video.

(And, yes, that’s Alfred Molina as the treacherous native guide.)

Here’s the link to the National Geographic story.



Netanyahu Rebuts Obama: ‘I Presented a Practical Alternative’ to Administration’s Iran Deal [The PJ Tatler]

Countering President Obama’s assertion that he offered no alternative to Washington’s plan for an Iran nuke deal, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after landing in Israel that there was indeed an alternative offered.

“After my short visit to the United States, I return to Israel knowing that many around the world heard what Israel has to say about the impending deal with Iran,” Netanyahu said. “In my speech before the Congress, I presented a practical alternative, which would impose tougher restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program, extending Iran’s breakout time by years.”

“I also called on the P5+1 to insist on a deal that would link the lifting of those restrictions to Iran’s ceasing its sponsorship of terrorism around the world, its aggression against its neighbors and its calls for Israel’s destruction,” he continued. “I heard encouraging responses from both Democrats and Republicans. They understood that the current proposal would lead to a bad deal and that the alternative is a better deal. Happy Purim.”

Obama, who didn’t watch Netanyahu’s speech but commented on it after reading a transcript, said “the prime minister didn’t offer any viable alternatives.”

Speaking from the nuclear talks in Switzerland today, Secretary of State John Kerry said they won’t be “distracted by external factors or politics.”

“Most importantly, as President Obama said yesterday, we know that no one has presented a more viable, lasting alternative for how you actually prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon,” Kerry said. “So, folks, simply demanding that Iran capitulate is not a plan, and nor would any of our P5+1 partners support us in that position. And it’s very important to remember we have partners in this effort – France, Germany, Britain, China, Russia – all of whom have similar feelings about the importance of what must be done here.”

Talks will resume on March 15, he added, “recognizing that time is of the essence, the days are ticking by, and important decisions need to be made.”

Like Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, Kerry advised worrying about Iran’s terrorist activities after the deal.

“Now, for all the objections that any country has to Iranian activities in the region – and believe me, we have objections and others in the world have objections – the first step is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” Kerry said.

If Supes Rule Against Obamacare, GOP Must Finish It Off Immediately [The PJ Tatler]

Never let a crisis go to waste:

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Tuesday offered the latest in a series of Republican ObamaCare alternatives ahead of a Supreme Court ruling that could gut the law.

Cruz’s bill, called the Health Care Choices Act, would allow people to buy health insurance across state lines, long a Republican health policy goal. It would also repeal Title I of ObamaCare, which would undo much of the law, including the mandate to buy insurance, the insurance marketplaces and subsidies to help people afford coverage.

Republicans are looking to show that they have a plan ready if the court strikes down subsidies for around 7.5 million people in the roughly three-dozen states using federally run marketplaces. The court will hear arguments in the case, King v. Burwell, on Wednesday. The Obama administration insists that it does not have a contingency plan and that it will prevail in Court.

Alas, given the Republicans’ general ineptitude — we have to prove we can govern by rolling over for Harry Reid and the minority Democrats! — nothing is a sure bet. McConnell and Boehner could easily manage to lose a tactical engagement to a Girls Scouts troop marching up Capitol Hill. Their most likely response to an Obamacare defeat would be to offer subsidies anyway — anything to keep the senior wing of the Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Party happy.

Still, the chance to jump on King v. Burwell should John Roberts, you know, actually believe Jonathan Gruber’s plain statement that the federal subsidies were deliberately not included in Barrycare in order to encourage the states to get on board with their own exchanges, should not be missed.  Deregulation is the way forward, not greater government control. Because you know the Democrats are just itching to impose their “single-payer” goal on the American people, by force if necessary.

How Stupid Is the Obama Administration? [The PJ Tatler]

Or naive. Or, let’s face it, evil. It appears that we have an entire administration of expensively credentialed plutocrats, without the slightest clue how the world really works. Bibi Netanhayu gave his “good friend” John Kerry a hint yesterday when he referred to Iran as a “Persian bazaar,” where the hondeling is part of the fun and cheating is the name of the game. And now here come the Iranians to prove it!

Iran rejected on Tuesday as “unacceptable” U.S. President Barack Obama’s demand that it freeze sensitive nuclear activities for at least 10 years but said it would continue talks on a deal, Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported. Iran laid out the position as the U.S. and Iranian foreign ministers met for a second day of negotiations and as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a stinging critique of the agreement they are trying to hammer out.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met a day after Obama told Reuters that Iran must commit to a verifiable halt of at least 10 years on sensitive nuclear work for a landmark atomic deal to be reached. ”Iran will not accept excessive and illogical demands,” Zarif was quoted by Fars as saying.

When dealing with anybody named “Mohammed” in that part of the world, it’s always wise to count your fingers after the handshake, but our intrepidly idiotic secretary of state plunges ahead, willing to absorb any humiliation for the sake of his boss, who’s still licking his wounds after yesterday beating by Bibi.

Obama’s stance … is expressed in unacceptable and threatening phrases,” he was reported as saying, adding that talks with Kerry in Switzerland would nonetheless carry on.

The aim of the negotiations is to persuade Iran to restrain its nuclear program in exchange for relief from sanctions that have crippled the oil exporter’s economy, thereby reducing the risk of war over the protracted dispute. The United States and some of its allies, notably Israel, suspect Iran of using its civil nuclear program as a cover to develop a nuclear weapons capability. Iran denies this, saying it is for peaceful purposes such as generating electricity.

Speaking before the U.S. Congress in Washington, Netanyahu warned Obama against accepting a nuclear deal with Iran that would be a “countdown to a potential nuclear nightmare” by a country that “will always be an enemy of America”.

But of course the Iranians will carry on — they’re getting everything they want. As I pointed out in this space nearly two weeks ago, the whole point of these “negotiations” is to give Iran a legitimate path to the bomb within ten years and probably a lot sooner, as in tomorrow — a point the Israeli prime minister made in his speech to Congress yesterday. And if Congress won’t oblige by ratifying whatever bad deal Barry Hussein & Co. come up with, well… there’s always executive action to make sure Valerie Jarrett’s Islamic friends get what they want.


Facebook Explodes After Netanyahu’s Epic Speech [The PJ Tatler]

Are you wondering how the average American responded to Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu’s epic speech in Congress yesterday? Well, wonder no more. I’ve got the answer. We asked our Facebook followers yesterday what they thought of the speech:

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 13.33.50

The reactions came in fast and they were unanimous:

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 13.16.03

While rightfully praising Netanyahu, many readers also had a thing or two to say about President Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who had the nerve to turn her back on the prime minister when he said that, if necessary, his country will stand alone.

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 13.16.58


No wonder Obama was angry with Netanyahu: he hasn’t had a hit speech like that since 2008, when he ran for president and tens of millions of voters actually thought he could deliver “change we can believe in.” The only “hope and change” we see now comes – Facebook users said – from Israel’s prime minister, a military and political hero who fears no one, and who serves his country with great honor.

The contrast with President Obama couldn’t be clearer. Facebook sleeps when he gives a speech but lights up at the moment Netanyahu addresses the nation — and the rest of the world. Go Bibi!

Taliban: Hell No, We’re Not in Peace Talks [The PJ Tatler]

The Taliban in Afghanistan said reports that it is willing to negotiate have been greatly exaggerated — and are “baseless,” in fact.

Press reports last month indicated that the Afghan government and Taliban would sit down for Pakistan-moderated negotiations in the coming weeks. But the jihad is still on, the group calling itself the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan said in a statement today.

“The media has been publishing false reports periodically over the past week asserting the heating up of negotiations and even fabrications about visits by the delegations of Islamic Emirate. We reject all such claims. There is no such process taking place and neither can such matters shape up behind closed doors or be kept hidden,” the Taliban said. “If there was anything taking place in this regard, the Islamic Emirate would have informed the media and its countrymen through its official channels.”

They said they support a “dignified peace as a necessity and aspiration of its countrymen” — but in a Sharia state of mind as “the main factors fueling this war are the presence of foreign invaders and continued anti-Islam activities.”

“Since Jihad is an individual obligation due to the presence of invaders therefore the Islamic Emirate until now deems the use of weapon as upholding this command,” the statement continued.

“Since all reports about negotiations are baseless, which seem to be the work of intelligence circles, hence no one should believe them. Such baseless rumors have been circulated many times over the past 13 years but all praise is due to Allah, it has failed in harming the Mujahideen or cultivating distrust. This wave of lies shall also pass by fruitless this time around and time shall prove everything.”

The Taliban further stated it believes “such rumors are the work of secret agencies with sinister goals therefore the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan calls on its nation to be vigilant as ever about enemy plots and not be fooled by mere propaganda.”

Rhodes: ‘The Day After a Deal Is Reached’ We’ll Still Care About Iran’s Terrorism [The PJ Tatler]

Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told PBS that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s impassioned address to a joint session of Congress about the Iran nuclear threat won’t damage President Obama’s efforts to strike a deal with the Islamic Republic.

“I mean the fact of the matter is the president said there’s nothing new because we have been hearing these arguments from Prime Minister Netanyahu privately and publicly for some time now. He’s made very clear his opposition to the type of deal that we’re pursuing,” Rhodes said.

“What we heard today was a lot of different arguments we’ve heard from different places from the prime minister pulled together in one space. As the president said, he made similar arguments before the joint plan of action was agreed over a year ago and that has actually borne out as a successful effort to halt the progress of Iran’s program and roll it back in certain elements.”

Rhodes said Netanyahu “has been clear about his view but we don’t think he’s putting forward an alternative that can deal with the issue of preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon as effectively as the type of deal that we’re negotiating.”

He said the administration remains adamant about not roping in the regime’s other behaviors — support for terrorism, support for Bashar al-Assad and Houthi rebels included — because “the nuclear challenge is distinct.”

“But the day after a deal is reached if we get an agreement, our concerns about other Iranian activities in the region will be exactly the same as they are today. We’ll be just as concerned about their support for terrorism, their support for Hezbollah, their destabilizing actions in the region as we are today,” he said. “But the fact is if you can verifiably ensure that they’re not able to get a nuclear weapon, we will be more secure and the region will be more secure.”

Asked why the Israeli government is so worried, Rhodes replied, “I think the prime minister has a longstanding view on Iran that takes a particular line that opposes this type of diplomatic agreement.”

“But the fact is the type of deal that he laid out today is one that is simply unattainable. That involves Iran dismantling its entire nuclear structure. It involves Iran changing the nature of its behavior in the region. That’s a recipe for no deal,” he continued. “Not only will the Iranians not agree to that. No other country in the world would support us in taking that position in the negotiations.”

He also defended the sunset clause in the agreement, stressing “the fact of the matter is the same type of options that we have in place today to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon will be available to the president of the United States in 10, 15 years — whenever the conclusion of the duration of the deal is.”

As far as how negotiations are proceeding, Rhodes said “it’s going to come down to a question of political will on the Iranian side.”

“We can see what this could look like but we’re not there because the Iranians saw further to move on some issues we really care about and we’re not going to make a bad deal as the president said. We have had plenty of opportunity to accept the bad deal and we haven’t done it.”

Cosby Accuser: He Wanted Me to Smear Oatmeal on My Face [The PJ Tatler]

A woman who is accusing comedian Bill Cosby of rape is claiming he wanted her to smear oatmeal all over her face and style her hair like Queen Noor of Jordan.

Queen Noor:

Queen Noor of Jordan

“He was obsessed with her,” the new accuser told BuzzFeed News, referring to the beautiful American who wed King Hussein in 1978.

The accuser is identified only as an aspiring actress named “Patricia.” The unusual request was made when Cosby invited her to a taping of The Dinah Shore Show.

Cosby went out of his way to send a particular photo of Queen Noor with her golden hair in a teased bun so Patricia could replicate the style at a salon, Patricia told BuzzFeed.

She also drank something he gave her “as they engaged in some bizarre acting improvisation exercises that involved her pretending to be a queen while she had oatmeal on her face, she reportedly said.”

“He told me to convince him that I could remain regal and queen-like no matter what I looked like,” she said.

She later felt strange from the drink, blacked out, and woke up naked in Cosby’s guest bedroom with the robe-clad comedian claiming he had to remove her dress because she threw up, she told BuzzFeed.

Other Jane Does encouraged “Patricia” to come forward. “You’re not alone,” Patricia reportedly said. “You don’t have to keep this a secret anymore.”

“Patricia” is 58 and currently living in Southern California.


Hoyer: ‘At a Minimum’ Deal ‘Must Dismantle Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Infrastructure’ [The PJ Tatler]

Click here to view the embedded video.

It’s no secret on Capitol Hill that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) aren’t the best of friends, and that was evident in their very different reactions to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to a joint session of Congress yesterday.

Hoyer was seated next to Pelosi and jumped to his feet with enthusiastic applause often, while “near tears” Pelosi fidgeted and acted uncomfortable.

He was behind Pelosi at a press conference later, video above, and cast priceless looks in her direction as she described her near-tears experience.

Finally, Hoyer issued his own statement on Netanyahu’s speech:

“Today, Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke before a joint meeting of Congress regarding the ongoing negotiations with Iran, and I share his concern that Iran has shown it cannot be trusted. I remain hopeful – though skeptical – that an agreement can be reached, which is clearly the best option. If there is an agreement, at a minimum it must dismantle Iran’s nuclear weapons-related infrastructure, include what Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken called ‘the strongest, most intrusive inspection and access program that any country has ever seen,’ and deal with militarization. America’s policy toward Iran has consistently been and must continue to be prevention, not containment.”

Hoyer appeared side by side with Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in D.C. on Sunday. “Democrats and Republicans don’t always agree, but when it comes to the safety and security of Israel, we will stand together,” Hoyer said.

Stan Evans: RIP [The PJ Tatler]

America lost a great man and scholar this week: Stan Evans.

If you don’t know Stan Evans, you don’t know Senator Joe McCarthy.  One of the thick, heavily footnoted works of Evans was Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies.  I have never read a book so thoroughly footnoted.

In sum, Evans recognized that McCarthy had his flaws, as everyone does.  But the truth is that McCarthy was onto  something when he claimed Soviet agents and sympathizers had infiltrated the United States government.  Evans used records from the Venona Project containing Soviet archives to match many of the people McCarthy claimed were Soviet moles with actual Soviet KGB records.  In short, McCarthy was more right than wrong.


But don’t tell Hollywood or the Democrats (and even some Republicans).  They long ago turned McCarthyism into a noun.

After I left the Justice Department, I got in touch with Evans.  Evans graciously spent hours on the telephone with me one day, chatting about some of my favorite topics: history, myth, the Soviets and the unique role of America in defending and preserving the dignity of human freedom.

Evans knew his stuff.  He was a giant in the defense of human freedom.

But our conversation touched on a matter that had profound historical import, especially for the mythology that McCarthy was a Witchfinder General who made false accusations.  It was also a matter which escaped his book.

A central criticism of McCarthy is that he was a fabulist, that he exaggerated the number of communist agents in a famous speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, on February 9, 1950.  The issue is whether McCarthy said he had a list of 57 or 205 communist agents or sympathizers.  Claims that he exaggerated this number would dog McCarthy through his fight with Truman, Eisenhower and the Senate.

Evans noted in his book two important facts.  First, McCarthy claimed he said 57, and he submitted this number in his official text of the speech into the Congressional record.  The truth is he got this list from State Department whistle blowers frustrated with the lax security at State toward Soviet sympathizers.  Second, all newspaper accounts of his speech in the Wheeling papers vanished.  Evans could not obtain firsthand contemporaneous accounts of the speech because, simply, they vanished from many of the usual sources that would have them.

I asked Stanton why he didn’t go to the Wise Library at West Virginia University, my alma mater, and look for the February 1950 Wheeling paper there.  Stanton excitedly told me that he did, though after his book was published.  He found a copy of the missing newspaper account at WVU.  Naturally, Stanton said McCarthy had in fact only referred to 57 Soviet agents and sympathizers — a claim backed up in time by records obtained in the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Nobody should be terribly surprised by the communist influence in the American government.  Through the 1930s, Stalin was Uncle Joe, presiding over a fundamental transformation of economic systems.  Fans from around the world flocked to participate in this new model.  Many ended up with bullets in the head. Papers like the New York Times hid the gulags and starvation from the world.  In World War II, Uncle Joe was our ally, and sympathizers in positions of power replicated themselves throughout government.

Stan Evans documented this history in footnoted detail.  It’s a documented history that lives on and the cause of freedom is better off because of Stan Evans.


Ben & Jerry’s Ready to Make Marijuana Ice Cream [The PJ Tatler]

Last month, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield told HuffPo Live they would consider creating a cannabis-based ice cream flavor…once it’s legal.

Click here to view the embedded video.

“Makes sense to me,” Cohen told host Alyona Minkovski matter-of-factly. “Combine your pleasures.”

Ben & Jerry?s and the marley family celebrate Bob Marley?s iconic legend album,  America, Sep 2014

“Ben and I have had previous experiences with substances, and I think legalizing marijuana is a wonderful thing,” Jerry Greenfield said. “It’s not my decision. If it were my decision, I’d be doing it, but fortunately we have wiser heads at the company that figure those things out.”




U.S.-Backed Syrian Rebel Group Collapses, U.S.-Supplied Weapons End Up in Al-Qaeda Hands. Unexpectedly. [The PJ Tatler]

Reports this week revealed that a U.S.-backed Syrian rebel group, Harakat al-Hazm, had officially dissolved itself under pressure from Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria, and many of the fighters have joined up with the jihadist Islamic Front. With the group’s dissolution, the U.S.-provided TOW anti-tank missiles have reportedly falled into the hands of al-Nusra.

Hazm was the first U.S.-backed group to receive TOW missiles, the Washington Post reported last April – and at the time the Washington D.C. foreign policy establishment hailed Hazm as “rebels worth supporting.”

But now with the demise of Hazm it seems the fantasy of backing “vetted moderate” groups in Syria is effectively at an end.

Word of Hazm’s demise began early this week:

And word began spreading of Hazm fighters joining up with other more hardline groups:

And now comes evidence that the U.S.-supplied weapons given to Hazm are now in Al-Qaeda hands:

And one astute observation:

As I reported throughout the past year here at PJ Media, the U.S. reliance on the so-called “vetted moderate” groups was doomed to failure for no greater reason than that these groups were never moderate to begin with. Back in July I was reporting that U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) units were defecting to ISIS.

By early September I reported that even more FSA units were operating openly with ISIS and al-Nusra, and two Hazm fighters were telling the L.A. Times that they fight alongside al-Nusra and approve of the group. A day later a FSA commander publicly admitted that his forces were fighting with ISIS and al-Nusra – both designated terrorist organizations — along the Syria/Lebanon border, confirming my earlier reporting.

As Congress approved an Obama administration request in mid-September for an additional $500 million in support for the “vetted moderate” rebel groups and the U.S. began bombing ISIS positions in northern Syria, Hazm issued a statement condemning the U.S. bombing campaign, calling it “an attack on the revolution.”

By mid-October, Obama officials were publicly throwing the “vetted moderate” rebel groups under the bus, saying they were going to instead train an entirely new force to confront ISIS. This happened just a few weeks after Obama persuaded the GOP leadership to buy into his failing Syria policy.

In early November reports began to emerge of Hazm, FSA and Syrian Revolutionary Front (SRF — another U.S.-backed group) units surrendering and defecting to al-Nusra. Those surrenders and defections continued up until now.

Then in December I reported on al-Nusra deploying U.S.-provided TOW missiles that had been previously supplied to the “vetted moderate” groups. By the end of the year, even the New York Times was reporting that the FSA was under effective control of Al-Qaeda.

And yet despite these developments some — namely Senator John McCain and his crew — continued to back the FSA:

While some will complain that the complete collapse of the three-year Obama Syria strategy was because we didn’t support the “vetted moderate” rebel groups… ENOUGH…

…the simple fact is that any fool with a pair of eyes and not blinded by the foreign policy establishment’s narrative could see this result coming. In fact, a few of us, myself included, warned of this end game going back to when the conflict in Syria began in 2011. And here we are.

With the Middle East in tatters in the wake of Obama’s “Arab Spring,” it is past time for the D.C. foreign policy establishment to admit to total failure. The evidence of this bipartisan policy disaster is written across the map.

As Instapundit is wont to say, this has all happened rather… unexpectedly.

Israeli Court Rules to Allow Jewish Prayer on Temple Mount [The PJ Tatler]

An Israeli judge has reversed a police policy that barred Jews from praying on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

Temple activists were euphoric Monday after a precedent-setting ruling by Magistrates’ Court Judge Malka Aviv in the case of Yehuda Glick vs. the Israeli Police, a day earlier. The judge ruled that the police “must make sure that Jews are able to pray on the Temple Mount” – in a ruling replete with harsh criticism of the police’s policies on the Temple Mount.

Activists were quoted on a Temple activists blog as saying: “This day will be remembered for generations in the annals of the struggle for the return of Jews to the Temple Mount.”

The police are legally bound “to ensure that Jews are able to pray on the Temple Mount, and not to act sweepingly to prevent Jews from praying on the Temple Mount,” the judge determined.

Attorneys for Rabbi Glick pointed out the historic nature of the ruling.

Attorney Aviad Visoly, who represented Glick said Tuesday that the verdict “has made prayer on the Temple Mount ‘kosher’. In essence, the court took the Supreme Court’s rulings about the Jews’ right to pray on the Temple Mount, and implemented them.”

“This is almost the first ruling – and certainly the most sweeping – in which the court implements the right of Jews to pray on the Temple Mount. From today, every Jew is allowed to pray on the Temple Mount. The prayer itself is not an offense.”

Prior police policies had barred Jewish prayer at the site for fears that such actions would spark Palestinian violence. Judge Aviv ruled the policy “arbitrary” and “without appropriate consideration” and awarded Glick roughly the equivalent of $125,000 in damages and $37,700 in legal fees.

The site is an important one in both Jewish and Christian history:

Temple Mount is considered to be one of the most important religious sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. Jews, Christians and Muslims all consider it sacred, making it one of the most contested sites in the world. Among Christians and Jews, there is some dispute as to whether it is the biblical Mount Moriah or Mount Zion.

According to Jewish tradition, it is the place where God’s presence is most manifested, and followers of rabbinic Judaism believe it to be the site where God gathered dust to create Adam.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / Mikhail Markovskiy

Hands-on: HTC's Vive headset made this virtual reality noob a virtual reality believer [PCWorld]


That was all I managed to mutter after finishing my demo with the Vive, HTC’s new virtual reality headset powered by Valve’s SteamVR technology.

For 20 minutes, I existed in an immersive world unlike the one I live and breathe in every day. I hung out with a whale underwater, painted the ceiling with fire, and even helped fix up an ATLAS-type robot from Valve’s Portal. I didn’t just look around, either; I interacted with the fish swimming near me, walked underneath the ceiling of fire to the see it on the other side, and moved around on a walkway similar to one in Half-Life: Episode 2.

When I tried the Samsung Gear VR at IFA last year I wasn’t completely sold on the idea of bringing virtual reality into my living room. I’ve always thought the technology to be sort of a gimmick—something that only hardcore gamers would really want to invest in. And GearVR, like the Oculus Rift (which I haven’t used), requires you to basically stay stationary, tracking only your head movements.

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Google confirms poor performance is to blame for reneged Android Lollipop encryption pledge [PCWorld]

It turns out there was something to the report that hardware performance was to blame for Google backing off its encryption requirement for new Lollipop devices.

Google issued a statement to Engadget, confirming that many phones won’t come with encryption turned on, a reversal of the company’s original plans:

“In September, we announced that all new Android Lollipop devices would be encrypted by default. Due to performance issues on some Android partner devices we are not yet at encryption by default on every new Lollipop device. That said, our new Nexus devices are encrypted by default and Android users (Jelly Bean and above) have the option to encrypt the data on their devices in Settings —-> Security —- >Encryption. We remain firmly committed to encryption because it helps keep users safe and secure on the web.”

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NBC may launch a cheap streaming service just for comedy [PCWorld]

The big cable bundle is continuing to crumble, as NBCUniversal ponders a standalone streaming video service for comedy fans.

NBC could charge between $2.50 and $3.50 per month for the service, the Wall Street Journal reports. In addition to full episodes from shows like Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show, the service could include original scripted shows, unscripted shows, and sketch comedy drawing on NBC's existing TV stars. Library programming from other networks could also help round out the streaming service.

NBC already streams many of its shows online. Recent episodes appear on the network's website and mobile apps, as well as on Hulu, while past seasons have gone to Netflix and Amazon Prime. According to the Journal, the new service may end up getting first dibs on recent episodes. The addition of original series and off-network content might also help the service stand out.

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The new Contacts Preview drags Google's address book out of the Netscape era [PCWorld]

Google Contacts is getting a much-needed overhaul, eliminating the misery of managing who you message.

You can try out the new web app right now by going to the Google Contacts Preview. Once you enable it with your Google account, you'll default to the new page every time you navigate to your Contacts.

The design is reminiscent of Google's Inbox email app, drawing heavily from the company's new Material Design aesthetic. The contacts are grouped together in stark white bundles, which pop out from the light gray background. 

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Nvidia's Shield console won me over, but not for the reasons you think [PCWorld]

The Nvidia Shield didn’t exactly get a warm reception at its unveiling on Tuesday night.

While Nvidia was flouting its lightweight console as the future of video games, the gaming press was chortling on Twitter about the hardware limitations, and pointing out the lagginess in Nvidia’s Grid streaming games service. At $200, they said, why not save up a little more for an Xbox One or Playstation 4 that can play modern games natively? (PCWorld’s own Hayden Dingman was among the skeptics.)

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EU countries agree on watered-down roaming and net neutrality plans [PCWorld]

European Union countries have proposed keeping roaming charges around at least until mid-2018, going against proposals from the European Parliament and Commission for their all-out abolition by the end of the year.

At the same time, representatives of the countries proposed weakening the net neutrality rules already agreed on by the Parliament and the Commission. The counter-proposal sets the stage for heated discussions as the 28 EU member states, gathered as the Council of the EU, try to reach a compromise with the EU’s other two law-making bodies on a new telecommunications law before the end of June.

The Council proposed introducing a basic roaming allowance within which consumers can make and receive calls, send text messages and use data services without paying roaming fees. Once this allowance is used up though, the operator will be allowed to charge a fee, albeit much lower than current charges, the Council said. It proposes reassessing the situation in mid-2018 to see if further regulatory measures are needed to phase out charges altogether.

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Can a Barcelona romance bring Wi-Fi and cells together? [PCWorld]

In the romantic city of Barcelona, cellular and Wi-Fi are getting set up on a lot of dates this week.

It’s a classic story: They’ve been neighbors for years and don’t always get along, but a lot of friends think they’re the perfect couple. There’s more matchmaking than ever at this year’s Mobile World Congress.

The two types of networks are complementary, because often Wi-Fi is strong where cellular is weak, and vice versa. Most people use their cellphones outdoors and try to get on Wi-Fi when they’re indoors. But due to growing demand for mobile services, the line between the two is starting to blur. Vendors and carriers at this year’s show are demonstrating new technologies that bring them together.

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One year later, we're no closer to finding MtGox's missing millions worth of bitcoins [PCWorld]

Few people marked the recent anniversary of one of the biggest catastrophes to hit bitcoin—the day MtGox went bust.

Once the world’s biggest market for the digital currency, the Tokyo-based exchange collapsed on Feb. 28, 2014 with liabilities of some ¥6.5 billion ($63.6 million). It said it was unable to account for some 850,000 bitcoins, worth nearly half a billion dollars at the time. It was a staggering sum, possibly purloined by hackers who exploited a bug in the bitcoin system, according to the company.

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Apple in settlement talks with car battery maker A123 Systems [PCWorld]

Apple is in talks to settle a lawsuit filed by electric-car battery maker A123 Systems, which has charged the iPhone maker with poaching five of its employees to set up a new battery division.

The lawsuit has added fuel to reports that Apple is getting into the electric-car business.

Apple filed a motion Tuesday that requested the court for more time to file its response to A123’s motions as it and the five engineers charged “are exploring potential resolution of this matter.”

A123 alleged in its complaint filed last month in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts that the engineers had worked at its System Ventures Technologies division in Waltham, Massachusetts, which does research and development in the area of lithium-ion battery technology.

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Microsoft's Windows 10 for phones already gaining momentum [PCWorld]

Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 OS hasn’t taken the world by storm, but its successor, Windows 10, is off to an encouraging start even before its release.

Only a handful of Windows 10 handsets were on display on the show floor of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, but with some device and chip makers announcing their intentions to support Windows 10 on smartphones, that could translate to many more handsets becoming available by year end.

Microsoft has said that Windows 10 will provide a more consistent user experience across smartphones, tablets and PCs. A technical preview of the OS is already available, with the final version expected to reach handsets later this year. Some handsets, but not all, running Windows Phone 8.1 will be upgraded to Windows 10.

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Sling TV bulks up base package with AMC and IFC [PCWorld]

AMC and IFC are joining Sling TV’s streaming video lineup today, bringing the base package up to 16 channels.

Dish Network, which operates Sling TV, had announced last month that AMC was coming to the $20 per month service, but hadn’t given a time frame. Also, Dish hadn’t said whether any other AMC properties would be part of the base package.

Unfortunately, neither of the new channels offer Sling TV’s “Replay” feature, which lets users watch any show from the past few days, but both AMC and IFC will offer some on-demand content in the future. There’s also no word on when other AMC properties such as BBC America, BBC World News, and We TV will be added to Sling TV.

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The Upload: Your tech news briefing for Wednesday, March 4 [PCWorld]

Alibaba opens its cloud for business in U.S.

Alibaba is set to compete for cloud services with Amazon Web Services, Google Compute Engine and Microsoft Azure with a new data center in California, the first outside China for the Aliyun subsidiary. It is initially targeting low-hanging fruit: the U.S. operations of Chinese companies. But its use of proprietary technology may be a turnoff for prospective customers who are wary of cloud lock-in.

IBM plugs its OpenPower servers into the cloud

IBM wants to show that its Power processors are a good alternative to Intel’s x86 chips in the cloud market, so it’s rolling out an infrastructure-as-a-service using OpenPower servers. The SoftLayer division is starting the Power move with a data center in Texas but will later roll out the service worldwide.

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Budget smartphones shine at Mobile World Congress [PCWorld]

Budget smartphones from the likes of Sony, Microsoft and up-and-comer Alcatel OneTouch have improved to such an extent that the question whether or not to buy one of the latest high-end smartphones is tougher than ever before.

The launches of the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge from Samsung Electronics and the One M9 from HTC didn’t disappoint. However, it wasn’t expensive flagship smartphones like those that dominated in Barcelona, but smartphones that cost US$300 or less unlocked.

Even with such cheaper phones, manufacturers are increasingly focusing on looks.

A company that has succeeded in this regard is Sony, with its Xperia M4 Aqua. The product has a plastic frame and back, instead of glass and metal, but Sony has chosen materials that still look good.

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China says new cybersurveillance proposal follows US security practices [PCWorld]

China is scratching its head over why the U.S. is opposing a new anti-terror law relating to cybersurveillance when the U.S. and other countries have also requested that tech companies hand over data to help stop terrorists.

On Wednesday, China’s parliamentary spokeswoman tried to play down the impact the proposed legislation might have on foreign tech businesses, in the face of U.S. fears it would require companies to hand over sensitive data to the country’s government.

The anti-terror law is still under review, but if passed, it would require tech companies to give encryption keys to the authorities, and create “back doors” into their systems for government surveillance access.

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King v. Burwell: a discouraging mid-argument report [UPDATED] [WITH FINAL UPDATE] [Power Line]

(Paul Mirengoff)

Eric Citron at Scotusblog provides a mid-argument report on King v. Burwell, the vital Obamacare case being heard by the Supreme Court today. According to Citron, the petitioners, who argue that subsidies are not available on the federal exchange faced a troubling question from Justice Kennedy, on whose vote the case may very well turn.

Kennedy, says Citron, “expressed deep concern with a system where the statute would potentially destroy the insurance system in states that chose not to establish their own exchanges – likening this to an unconstitutional form of federal coercion.” Recall that part of the argument in favor of the view that subsidies aren’t available on the federal exchange is the idea that Congress set up Obamacare this way to induce states to establish their own exchanges. This is what Jonathan Gruber famously said.

If I understand the import of Kennedy’s questioning, he’s concerned that such a scheme might be unconstitutional. If so, then he might strain to construe the statute as not “coercing” the states to establish exchanges, and therefore not withholding subsidies to residents of states that opt not to have exchanges.

Let’s see, though, how the questioning of the government’s lawyer goes.

UPDATE: The argument that petitioners lack standing to challenge the statute has not gone well. Of note, Justice Sotomayor seemed to reject. This might mean she wants to the Court to rule on the merits because she’s confident now the government will win.

FINAL UPDATE: According to the Washington Post’s account of the oral argument, the government lawyer faced hostile questioning only from Justices Scalia and Alito. Chief Justice Roberts reportedly never tipped his hand. And, as noted above, Justice Kennedy’s questioning suggests that he more likely than not will uphold subsidies for those purchasing insurance on the federal exchange.

So Obamacare may well dodge another bullet. If so, it shouldn’t come as a major surprise. Unlike the four liberal Justices, who are basically on a political mission, the right-of-center group includes independent-minded Justices, and can’t really be considered a bloc when it comes to big cases.

Why no deal is better than Obama’s deal [Power Line]

(Paul Mirengoff)

I found Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress persuasive in all but one respect. I question Netanyahu’s claim that the alternative to the deal Obama seems prepared to settle for is “a better deal.”

It believe that the Iranian regime’s overriding goal is to obtain nuclear weapons. If that’s the case, Iran will not agree to a deal that significantly impedes its ability to reach this goal. It follows that the most likely alternative to a bad deal with Iran is “no deal.”

Accordingly, President Obama and his supporters have a point when they demand to know how Netanyahu intends to thwart Iran’s ambition in the absence of their deal — one that at least would permit inspections, thus perhaps improving the ability of the U.S. and Israel to know whether Iran is “breaking out” and racing towards development of nuclear bombs.

The answer to Obama’s point is that the absence of a deal doesn’t mean the absence of a strategy for preventing Iran from obtaining nukes. In fact, the absence of a deal would facilitate two approaches that hold more promise of thwarting Iran than even a decent deal.

In theory, there are three scenarios under which Iran won’t get the bomb. First, military action might prevent it. Second, the right kind of regime change might prevent it. Third, a deal might prevent it.

The first and second scenarios are the most effective because the third depends on some level of cooperation and compliance by a notoriously hostile and unreliable regime. The second scenario is preferable to the first because military action might not be entirely effective and, in any event, carries collateral risks. But the second scenario depends on events beyond our control.

If, as seems likely, Netanyahu is wrong that tougher bargaining will produce a decent deal, then his approach rules out the third scenario — a non-nuclear Iran achieved through bargaining. But Obama’s deal also rules out this scenario unless regime change occurs before the deal expires. As discussed below, this is highly unlikely.

Moreover, even during its life, the deal wouldn’t prevent an Iranian nuclear breakout. It would only give Israel and the U.S. a half year to a year (according to most estimates) to invoke the first scenario, a military response. As discussed below, the existence of the deal makes such a response by the U.S. highly unlikely.

In sum, a non-nuclear Iran cannot, in all likelihood, be achieved through bargaining.

Regime change of the right sort would almost certainly mean an end to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, provided that Obama’s deal hasn’t already caused Iran’s neighbors to develop nukes. What, then, are the prospects for such regime change?

If Iran gets out from under sanctions, the prospects are slim. The Iranian regime has survived for more than 35 years through all sorts of hardship. The absence of sanctions would relieve Iran from much hardship, making regime change highly unlikely.

A tough sanctions system would significantly increase the prospect for regime change. We can infer this from the fact that, before Obama began to lift sanctions, the Iranian economy was in sufficiently bad shape that the mullahs sought out “the Great Satan” for talks. Surely, they did so because they saw their grip on power loosening. And this, as Netanyahu pointed out yesterday, was before oil prices plummeted.

The other way in which Iran’s nuclear ambitions might be thwarted is through military action. To be optimally effective, such action would require U.S. involvement. For Israel to take such action would probably require U.S. consent if hardliners like Netanyahu lose power.

Deal or no deal, Obama isn’t going to take military action against Iran. But in two years, such action by the U.S. might well be back on the table. So might consent to an Israeli strike.

However, if the U.S. and Iran reach a deal, U.S. military action is highly unlikely, even in a “breakout” scenario. As Ray Takeyh points out, the reaction to North Korea’s atomic provocations shows that the U.S. and its international partners deal with such arms control infractions through endless mediation: “Once an agreement is signed, too many nations become invested in its perpetuation to risk a rupture.”

Absent a deal, Obama’s successor will be less constrained when it comes to taking military action against Iran and to consenting to Israeli action. This, I suspect, is one important reason why Obama is so eager to reach a deal, even a manifestly bad one.

To summarize, there are three conceivable pathways to a non-nuclear Iran. Obama’s approach relies on the least effective of them — a deal — and effectively precludes the other two. Moreover, by all accounts, the deal he’s willing to settle for contains so many concessions as to nearly forfeit its status as a conceivable pathway to thwarting Iran.

The better course is to insist on a much better deal. If that deal can’t be had, we will retain two more plausible approaches to thwarting Iran — sanctions-induced regime change and the military option.

The Obama administration was correct, then, when it stated that no deal is better than a bad deal. And Netanyahu was correct when he compellingly explained yesterday why the Obama administration’s likely deal is a bad one.

The Problem with Discounting the Traditional, Two-Parent Family [Wizbang]

The left is all about destroying the traditional family and supplanting it with “families” of its own making. While non-traditional families aren’t necessarily an “evil” that need to be eliminated, the destruction of the traditional family is an evil that needs to be stopped. The problem with discouraging the traditional, two-parent family is that children born of a one parent family (or even living with no parents) are generally forced into asking for support from outside the family–whether it be from government or community–or going without any help at all. In the case of the former it reinforces the expectation

The American Mind Gets Closed a Little Further [Ed Driscoll]

“Why Our Children Don’t Think There Are Moral Facts” is a topic explored by Justin P. McBrayer, who bio states that he’s an associate professor of philosophy at Colorado’s Fort Lewis College. Curiously though, his article is in the New York Times, a odd location given that it’s a newspaper run by children who don’t believe there are moral facts. But responding to the Common Core syllabus, McBrayer writes:

But second, and worse, students are taught that claims are either facts or opinions. They are given quizzes in which they must sort claims into one camp or the other but not both. But if a fact is something that is true and an opinion is something that is believed, then many claims will obviously be both. For example, I asked my son about this distinction after his open house. He confidently explained that facts were things that were true whereas opinions are things that are believed. We then had this conversation:

Me: “I believe that George Washington was the first president. Is that a fact or an opinion?”

Him: “It’s a fact.”

Me: “But I believe it, and you said that what someone believes is an opinion.”

Him: “Yeah, but it’s true.”

Me: “So it’s both a fact and an opinion?”

The blank stare on his face said it all.

How does the dichotomy between fact and opinion relate to morality? I learned the answer to this question only after I investigated my son’s homework (and other examples of assignments online). Kids are asked to sort facts from opinions and, without fail, every value claim is labeled as an opinion. Here’s a little test devised from questions available on fact vs. opinion worksheets online: are the following facts or opinions?

— Copying homework assignments is wrong.

— Cursing in school is inappropriate behavior.

— All men are created equal.

— It is worth sacrificing some personal liberties to protect our country from terrorism.

— It is wrong for people under the age of 21 to drink alcohol.

— Vegetarians are healthier than people who eat meat.

— Drug dealers belong in prison.

The answer? In each case, the worksheets categorize these claims as opinions. The explanation on offer is that each of these claims is a value claim and value claims are not facts. This is repeated ad nauseum: any claim with good, right, wrong, etc. is not a fact.

In summary, our public schools teach students that all claims are either facts or opinions and that all value and moral claims fall into the latter camp. The punchline: there are no moral facts. And if there are no moral facts, then there are no moral truths.

As Allan Bloom wrote 35 years ago at the beginning of The Closing of the American Mind:

There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative. If this belief is put to the test, one can count on the students’ reaction: they will be uncomprehending. That anyone should regard the proposition as not self-evident astonishes them, as though he were calling into question 2 + 2 = 4. These are things you don’t think about. The students backgrounds are as various as America can provide. Some are religious, some atheists; some are to the Left, some to the Right; some intend to be scientists, some humanists or professionals or businessmen; some are poor, some rich. They are unified only in their relativism and in their allegiance to equality. They are unified only in their relativism and in their allegiance to equality. And the two are related in a moral intention. The relativity of truth is not a theoretical insight but a moral postulate, the condition of a free society, or so they see it. They have all been equipped with this framework early on, and it is the modern replacement for the inalienable natural rights that used to be the traditional American grounds for a free society. That it is a moral issue for students is revealed by the character of their response when challenged – a combination of disbelief and indignation: “Are you an absolutist?” the only alternative they know, uttered in the same tone as “Are you a monarchist?” or “Do you really believe in witches?” The danger they have been taught to fear from absolutism is not error but intolerance. Relativism is necessary to openness; and this is the virtue, the only virtue, which all primary education for more than fifty years has dedicated itself to inculcating. Openness—and the relativism that makes it the only plausible stance in the face of various claims to truth and the various ways of life and kinds of human beings—is the great insight of our times. The true believer is the real danger. The study of history and of culture teaches that all the world was mad in the past; men always thought they were right, and that led to wars, persecutions, slavery, xenophobia, racism and chauvinism. The point is not to correct the mistakes and really be right; rather it is not to think that you are right at all.

And as McBrayer’s essay today illustrates, that’s now a state-sanctioned policy. Because as Glenn Reynolds writes at Instapundit, “Our ruling class doesn’t like the idea of moral facts because that might limit their flexibility, which reduces opportunities for graft and self-aggrandizement.”

See also: Oceania’s existential struggle with Eastasia and/or Eurasia and the real-life turn-on-a-dime pivot by leftwing intellectuals that inspired it.

Earlier: ‘Let’s Destroy Liberal Academia’

Obama: The Provincial President [Ed Driscoll]

“Why Obama hates Netanyahu, and vice versa” is explored in a remarkable essay by Haviv Rettig Gur of the Times of Israel:

At a recent gathering of the Israel Council on Foreign Relations, the eminent former director general of the Foreign Ministry, Prof. Shlomo Avineri, called Obama’s foreign policy “provincial.” It was a strange choice of words to describe the policies of a president with such a cosmopolitan outlook and so much eagerness to engage the world.

But Avineri had a point.

Obama’s remarkable memoir, “Dreams from My Father,” includes a powerful account of how his experiences as a young, keenly observant social organizer in South Chicago instilled in him the sensibility that would come to define his presidency.

In the book, he describes his reaction upon hearing the children of a poor Chicago neighborhood divided into “good kids and bad kids – the distinction didn’t compute in my head.” If a particular child “ended up in a gang or in jail, would that prove his essence somehow, a wayward gene…or just the consequences of a malnourished world?”

“In every society, young men are going to have violent tendencies,” an educator in one majority-black Chicago high school told him in the late 1980s. “Either those tendencies are directed and disciplined in creative pursuits or those tendencies destroy the young men, or the society, or both.”

The book is full of such ruminations, and they echo throughout Obama’s rhetoric as president. In his last speech to the UN General Assembly, he asserted that “if young people live in places where the only option is between the dictates of a state or the lure of an extremist underground, no counterterrorism strategy can succeed.”

For Obama, terrorism is, at root, a product of social disintegration. War may be necessary to contain the spread of Islamic State, for example, but only social reform can really cure it.

Add to this social vision the experience of a consummate outsider – half-white and half-black, with a childhood and a family scattered around the world – and one begins to see the profile of a man with an automatic empathy for the marginalized and an almost instinctive sense that the most significant problems of the world are rooted not in ideology but in oppressive social and economic structures that reinforce marginalization. This sensibility is broader than any economic orthodoxy, and is rooted in the hard experience of South Chicago.

After taking the helm of the world’s preeminent superpower in January 2009, this social organizer set about constructing a foreign policy that translated this consciousness into geopolitical action.

“The imperative that he and his advisors felt was not only to introduce a post-Bush narrative but also a post-post-9/11 understanding of what needed to be done in the world,” James Traub noted in a recent Foreign Policy essay. “They believed that the great issues confronting the United States were not traditional state-to-state questions, but new ones that sought to advance global goods and required global cooperation — climate change, energy supply, weak and failing states, nuclear nonproliferation. It was precisely on such issues that one needed to enlist the support of citizens as well as leaders.”

The world was one large Chicago, its essential problems not categorically different from those of South Chicago’s blacks, and the solutions to those problems were rooted in the same essential human capacity for overcoming social divisions and inequities. This was Obama’s “provincialism” — his vision of the world that favored the disadvantaged and downtrodden, that saw the ideological and political clashes between governments as secondary to the more universal and ultimately social crises that troubled a tumultuous world.

No wonder the gang at NBC attacks anyone using the word “Chicago” as racist; it’s the entire prism through which their God King sees the world.

Perhaps what worried Mr. Obama the most about Prime Minister Netanyahu speaking today were the inevitable comparisons of tone and style, and for good reason. As a result of watching Netanyahu, Jazz Shaw of Hot Air takes a second look at Bibi:

When the Prime Minister finished speaking today, I realized exactly how wrong I had been in assuming that this was going to be some cheap, catchpenny display. This was, as I said on Twitter in the moments following the address, one of the most powerful speeches which I have seen delivered in that chamber in the modern era. Netanyahu was the essence of many attributes so lacking in American politics today. He was gracious, not only to those who obviously support him, but to those who might disagree with him here on various policy points. (And, as I will cover below, even with those who were simply rude.) He projected wisdom and rational thought, so frequently lacking in the cheap seats of the theater of American politics. He was sincerely grateful for all that he and the nation he represents have received from the United States and for the consanguinity between our nations. He expressed confidence and hope in a lasting relationship which should be a hallmark of civilized relations in the modern world.

Above all, he was not there to be a politician as I had previously supposed. He was there to be a leader, but also a gracious ally, speaking as an equal on the world stage. He did not come with his hat in hand to ask America to save him. He reiterated that Israel could save itself, but that it would not have to stand alone as long as those with common values which embrace basic goodness stood together in sodality. It was, quite simply, one of the most moving speeches I have witnessed in many years.

I was wrong – in the worst way, since I have clearly allowed cynicism to poison the well – when I supposed that this speech was a pointless, partisan, political ploy. I think I’ve spent too long watching American politicians standing up on cable news and barking out the same tired talking points which their minions repeat ad nauseam for the mainstream media complex. I was highly impressed and felt a bit ashamed. I owe the Prime Minister an apology and I do so now.

I miss the days when America was led by a grownup who had faith in his country and its people. I hope we have that experience once again.

Related: “Dreams from Netanyahu’s Father,” from Seth Lipsky of the New York Sun and Time magazine.

PMQs SKETCH: Who are We and What are We Doing Here? [Guido Fawkes]

gallery_guido (2)

It’s always exciting to discover a new low in PMQs. We’ve been bumping along the bottom since the New Year and here we had stomach-fluttering slump.

The prodigious noise in the chamber – so chamber reporters said – was mainly that of conversations between people trying to make themselves heard above other conversationalists. Half an opposition bench vacated itself before the end of play. The mood in the House was ‘Who are we and what are we doing here?’ (Answers in the comments.)

The Speaker, still smarting from his humiliation on Cockerell’s documentary, wore his fixed smile, barely tried to control the chamber. The prime minister kept reaching up to yank his tail. He mocked the Speaker’s verbosity. He caricatured his catchphrases. He pleased his Bercow-baiting back bench.

And while this is all very well, it must be said that the Speaker has won everything he needs to win. He is now unbeatable, unmoveable, invulnerable. The Tories have misread the threat, and funked the chance to bring to the floor of the House just before the half-term recess the only Motion that offers a chance of ousting him (to make the Speaker’s re-election a secret vote). He saw them funk it, and feels himself secure.

In a tight parliament, with irreconcilable parties, coalition government may not be a possibility. The powers of the Speaker will multiply. His collusion with Labour – already an established fact – will work against the Tory minority government. He will find a way – because he has a genius for these things – to by-pass the Queen and bring a Labour government to the Treasury benches.

And just about the time he should be resigning, he will preside over the Westminster exodus, to a continental-style, non-confrontational, horseshoe-shaped venue with individual desks and microphones – with his hand on the volume.

Remember, above all else, John Bercow is an artist of power, a grand master in the renaissance workshop tradition. And the Tories are just too cavalier, too amateur to deal with him. Tail-tweaking is an inadequate response.

We can only watch.

Next new depth: Ed Miliband’s achievement must not go unrecorded. A third world war is brewing, the European Union may be about to implode, religious maniacs have established a medieval tyranny just north of the Plain of Megiddo, and the Labour party itself faces an existential threat from the Scots Nats.

So, Miliband spent half his quota of questions on challenging Cameron to a television debate.

There is a rumour that Cameron was going to challenge Miliband to a television debate and has thus been outflanked. If this is the size of it, the opposition leader showed himself to be one pitiful pygmy.

Cameron asked which MPs were going to use the photo-op shots of Miliband on their leaflets. Most of the people who put their hands up were Scots Nats. There will be slaughter over the border and lose or win, Miliband will go down as the leader who destroyed his party.

Tagged: Gallery Guido, PMQs

Clegg and Cameron at Sixes and Sevens [Guido Fawkes]

Red magazine have been quizzing the party leaders…

Tell us in six words why we should vote Lib Dem?

“Stronger economy. Fairer society. Opportunity for all.”

Yep, that would be seven words.

Tell us in six words why we should vote Conservative?

“Security for you, your family and country.”

Yep, that would also be seven words.

It must be a coalition thing…

Tagged: LibDems, Statistics, Tories

NHS Admit Medical Records Are Not Safe [Guido Fawkes]


The NHS has finally admitted what everyone has known for years: they can’t guarantee the security of the information gathered by their Care.data programme. Tim Kelsey, NHS England’s national director for patients and information, admitted on Tuesday that the security of patients medical records “can never be 100 per cent guaranteed”. In 2013 Mr Kelsey assured that Care.data “does not put patient confidentiality at any risk”…

Despite his admission, Mr Kelsey and the NHS are keen to push ahead with their plan for a giant central database of every NHS patients personal health information.

You can opt out of the Care.data system by clicking here

Tagged: NHS, Techno Guido

Boxgate: Proof Party Leader Stood on Box for Photo-Op [Guido Fawkes]

A concerned wee reader gets in touch regarding the use of boxes by politicians in photo-ops:

“At just 5’5” and with our MEP, Ian Duncan, and David Cameron being well over 6 foot, I confess I’m perched on a box of jump leads I retrieved from the boot of my car in this pic taken at Loch Lomond last year. However, the PM is such a gentleman that when we last had our picture taken at Number 10, he slipped off his shoes so that I didn’t look just quite so short.

There’s the difference – Miliband bigging himself up in front of men, while Cameron is more than happy to be a gentleman to women…”

Thanks for clearing that one up, Ruth from Scotland…

Tagged: Spin, Tories

Yet Another Mainstream Media UKIP Smear [Guido Fawkes]

“UKIP candidate gets date of General Election wrong on campaign poster” claimed the Telegraph this morning, publishing a leaflet from soon to be red-faced candidate John Tennant, who had embarrassingly told voters to turn out on May 6 instead of May 7.

Just one problem with the story: the leaflet was from 2010, when polling day was May 6. Whoops!

UPDATE: The Telegraph have now pulled the story.

Tagged: Media Guido, Telegraph, UKIP

Hands on with the new Sinclair ZX Spectrum [Guido Fawkes]


If you’re a geek of a certain age, the chances are that your first encounter with a computer was the iconic Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Over 5 million of the all-in-one keyboard-computers were sold, introducing a generation of nerds to coding and computer games. Well, if you hanker for simpler times you’re in luck, a British company has brought the icon back to life.

Techno Guido got his hands on the prototype recreated Spectrum today and was quite taken with the device. Resplendent in plastic and rubber, the reproduction almost smells like the 1980s. Admittedly the recreation is little more than a glorified Bluetooth keyboard that pairs with a phone or tablet running ZX Spectrum apps, but that hardly seems to matter when you’re mashing the spongy keys while playing “Chuckie Egg” on an iPad. You can even use it to send a tweet…

The recreated Sinclair ZX Spectrum will be available for under £100 this spring, you can register your interest here.

Tagged: Techno Guido

“Blackbusters” Calamity Kenny Set for Westminster Return [Guido Fawkes]

There are fewer “safe seats” in Scotland for Labour than they might like these days, but if they lose Mid-Lothian then they really have been routed.

Luckily they’ve chosen a candidate there to give them the maximum possible chance of screwing it all up: Calamity Kenny

Congratulations to Kenny Young who was selected last night.

As Guido revealed he would be in January.

Tagged: Calamity Kenny, Freedom for Scotland, Labour Party

Luvvies’ Media Plurality Law Threatens BBC Dominance [Guido Fawkes]

“If democracy is to flourish, we will need diverse and independent voices in the media. Yet media concentration in Britain remains at worrying levels.” That’s according to John Cleese, Frankie Boyle, a host of Guardian journalists and the NUJ, who today demand a new media plurality law in a letter to the Guardian. For once, Guido agrees with the bien-pensant self-appointed watchers of the free press. There is a media organisation standing in the way of press plurality: the BBC.

This Guardian-produced chart shows that the BBC controls 39.3% of our news consumption, dominating far more of the market than any competitor. As this analysis from 2011 shows, TV accounts for 73% of news consumed by the public, and the BBC accounts for 70% of TV news coverage. The Beeb is also dominant online and on radio. Its threat to press plurality is even greater when one considers that it is protected from fair competition by a state subsidy via taxation.

As the media luvvies tell the Guardian today, “media concentration in Britain remains at worrying levels”. They are absolutely right when they say “If democracy is to flourish, we will need diverse and independent voices in the media”. No doubt they will follow up their letter with a call for the BBC to be broken up…

Tagged: BBC, Media Guido

Hippies Turn Clegg’s Office Into “Collectively-Run Learning Space” [Guido Fawkes]

Representatives of the ‘Free University of Sheffield’ have released a statement to the global media:

“we have transformed the space, symbolic of betrayal and the politics of the neoliberal establishment into an autonomous, collectively-run learning space. Among other things we will be running a seminar on the failures of liberal democracy”

Alas, “a core of 10-15 students” only managed to get into Clegg’s constituency office for a few minutes to unfurl a banner before the coppers turned up and turfed them out. Back to class…

Via @ForgePress

UPDATE: A LibDem spokesman adds:

“Earlier today, a small group of people briefly entered the office. They were asked to leave by a member of staff but refused.  The police were called and the group left peacefully after a short sit in protest.”

Tagged: LibDems, Loony Left

Boxgate Goes Box Office at PMQs [Guido Fawkes]

Ed’s leaflet woes and Guido’s important boxgate scoop got the full box office treatment at PMQs today:

PM: “We’re all starting to think about leaflets, I’ve got a little question. Apparently you can go round to his office and he stands on his soapbox to make him look a little bit taller. Let’s ask, how many people are going to put the leader of the opposition on their leaflets?”

Well it looks like David Cameron got his “daily dose” of Guido yesterday.

UPDATE: In Vine form:

Tagged: Labour, PMQs, Tories

Kensington Rumour Mill: Late New Entry [Guido Fawkes]

There’s a surprise new entry in the race to be the next Tory MP for Kensington: the glamorous union-slayer Simone Finn. Despite being an adviser to the Cabinet Office, Finn is not currently seen as the “Downing Street candidate” and has business background. But the mother of two is an old friend of Dave’s. Regular readers will remember her though as being central to Frankie Maude’s trade union reforms. She’s feisty…

Tagged: Dave, Tories, Totty Watch

PMQs LIVE: Who Is Asking the Questions Today [Guido Fawkes]


Oral Questions to the Prime Minister

Q1 Mr Khalid Mahmood (Birmingham, Perry Barr)

Q2 Mr Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight)

Q3 Barry Gardiner (Brent North) 

Q4 Sir Edward Garnier (Harborough) 

Q5 Mr David Winnick (Walsall North)

Q6 Katy Clark (North Ayrshire and Arran) 

Q7 Mr David Ward (Bradford East) 

Q8 Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) 

Q9 Barbara Keeley (Worsley and Eccles South)

Q10 Julie Elliott (Sunderland Central)  

Q11 Guy Opperman (Hexham) 

Q12 Oliver Colvile (Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport)

Q13 Seema Malhotra (Feltham and Heston) 

Comments in the comments please…

Labour’s Pink Van Parked on Double Yellow Line, Again [Guido Fawkes]

Snapped in Westminster last night.

Typical trade union drivers…

Tagged: Labour Party, Unions

Boffins: Climate Change Caused ISIS [Guido Fawkes]


Climate change is contributing factor to the savage conflict that is tearing Syria apart, if the boffins at the University of California are to be believed. In a paper titled ‘Climate change in the Fertile Crescent and implications of the recent Syrian drought’, the West Coast wonks claims that climate change caused a severe draught in Syria and, well,  people basically get more irritable when it’s hot. And ISIS do seem very irritated about something…

Guido isn’t saying that the scientists have got it wrong, but this isn’t the fist time that someone has made wild claims about the causes of droughts in Syria. For instance, take a look at this  newspaper article from 1933..




Tagged: climate change, Gaia Fawkes, Jihad

Plain Speaking on Plain Packaging [Guido Fawkes]

Sponsored post.


On 24th February 2015 critics of standardised packaging of tobacco came together for An Evening of Plain Speaking on Plain Packaging at the Institute of Directors in London. The well-attended event featured members of the public and representatives of some of Britain’s leading thinks and campaign groups including Mark Littlewood (Institute of Economic Affairs), John O’Connell (TaxPayers Alliance), Dr Madsen Pirie (Adam Smith Institute), Claire Fox (Institute of Ideas), Angela Harbutt (Liberal Vision), Rory Broomfield (The Freedom Association), Emily Barley (Conservatives for Liberty), Chris Snowdon (IEA Lifestyle Economics Unit) and Simon Clark (Forest).

Describing the policy as “risible and utterly ridiculous”, Littlewood said:

“Look at the issues that are facing our country and the world at the moment. A budget deficit this year of nearly £100bn; a fairly modest economic recovery we still don’t know is sustainable or not; and international instability in the Eurozone, in Ukraine, and further afield in Syria. With this sort of backdrop what kind of final act would you expect this government to take? That’s right, the final act of this parliament before the general election, with that background of problems, is probably going to be to regulate the colour schemes that British adults are allowed to look at. That is a pretty feeble grasp of priorities.”

According to Chris Snowdon the issue was not about tobacco but about “packaging and commercial freedom and the limits of government action”“The most troubling aspect of plain packaging,” added Claire Fox, “is what it tells us about the authorities’ view of us. Stop treating teenagers like they’re idiots, and stop treating adults like they’re teenagers.”

Watch a film of the event here.

If you’re opposed to plain packaging it’s not too late to make your opinions known.

To write to your MP via our Last Chance Saloon website click here.

Tagged: Sponsored

Chuka Uses Tragic Train Track Tragedy to Trash Private Sector [Guido Fawkes]

Yesterday evening Labour’s Chuka Umunna tweeted his great displeasure at being delayed in returning to his luxury art-deco penthouse apartment in Streatham. There can be no doubt that the Shadow Business Secretary is a man in a hurry for a government limo. Chuka blamed the delay on the private-sector Southern Railway and immediately tried to politicise the issue, making clear he wanted the service brought back into the public-sector:

Unfortunately for Chuka the delays out of Victoria had nothing to do with the private ownership of the railways:

Not a great look.

Tagged: Labour Party, Spin, Twat Watch

John Woodcock Referred to Standards Commissioner [Guido Fawkes]

The long campaign is well underway, meaning candidate spending is limited to £30,700 and MPs are looking for ways to bend the rules to keep costs down. John Woodcock, for example, has sent his constituents a letter backing a ‘non-partisan’ third-party charity which, coincidentally, he has also made a central focus of his campaign for re-election. Pre-paid Commons envelopes are not allowed to be used “in a way that can be construed as campaign expenditure”, despite Woodcock using the word “campaign” four times in his letter backing the ‘Save Our Hospital’ group. The taxpayer is picking up the bill.

He is also auctioning off tickets to tours of parliament to raise cash for the ‘charity’. As you can see from Woodcock’s website, Save Our Hospital is a key part of his re-election campaign, listed as one of his main six re-election campaign pledges, so it is hardly independent. Tory MP David Morris has written to Standards Commissioner Kathryn Hudson asking her to investigate. Where is the money really going?

Tagged: Cash, Labour Party

Straight Line of the Day: What Was the Private Email Address That Hillary Used While At the State Department? [IMAO]

[High Praise! to Hatless in Hattiesburg for suggesting this]

Works like this: I feed you Moon Nukers a straight line, and you hit me with a punch line in the comments.

What was the private email address that Hillary used while working at the State Department?

Bonus link: Some other folks are also tackling the topic (some responses NSFW).

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Life With Isis – Open Enrollment [IMAO]

(somewhere secret in the desert)

Corporate HR Imam: Welcome everybody to our first open enrollment fair. Now that Baghdadi has announced the caliphate, we will be able to fully implement Sharia which means many new and exciting benefits will be coming your way this year. You may be wondering why we had Bring Your Daughter to Work Day the same day we are having the open enrollment fair. Don’t worry. You’ll have plenty of time this afternoon to share the rough and tumble workday of the ISIS mujahideen with your daughters. But we wanted your daughters here today so they can enjoy the new benefits immediately. As you are all aware, under Allah’s law, healthcare is not a privilege but a right. May I please direct all your daughters to the Healthcare Tent to my right so they can get their free vaccinations and genital mutilations?

Ahmed: Wait a minute. Did I just hear you right? You want to vaccinate my daughter?

Galid: I am confused. I thought that vaccinations were a fiendish plot by the Jews to give us the autism.

Corporate HR Imam: Claims that vaccines cause autism have been thoroughly debunked. You have nothing to fear.

Galid: Ah, but is that not what the Jews would want us to think?

Ahmed: Was not Jonas Salk a Jew? You expect me to believe that a Jew would cure polio and invent vaccines out of the goodness of his black heart? Surely Allah laughs at such a thing.

Ali: Death to vaccines!

All ululating and shooting into the air

Galid: Death to autism!

Ahmed: Death to free preventative medicine!

Ali: Death to declining infant mortality rates!

Habib: Death to AIDS!

Corporate HR Imam: Calm down, everyone. Calm down. I can guarantee you that the vaccines are safe.  I’ll be getting them myself.

Galid: I am confused.  Do you expect me to believe that such great minds as Charlie Sheen and Jenny McCarthy could be mistaken?  Allah forfend.  How could this be?

Ahmed: Yes. I do not want my daughter to catch the autism.

Galid: Yes. Yes.  My daughter is already too smart. We have kept her out of school, but it does no good. If she got the autism and could then do the counting better than me and beat me every time at the blackjack, the shame would be too great.  I would have to honor kill her, Allah forbid.

Corporate HR Imam: Let’s think about this logically for a minute. Why would the Jews want to give any of us autism? What good would that do?

Ahmed: Have you ever tried to brainwash a child with autism?

Ali: Yes. It does no good. They just stare off into space and hit the ground with a stick. I cannot even get them to ululate.  If all our young recruits had the autism….

Galid: Maybe if there were casinos of the Great Satan around here, we could use the autisms for fundraising, but then Allah forbids us from gambling. I am so confused.

Ahmed: But it is not gambling, my friend, if it is a sure thing.

Corporate HR Imam: Why do I get the feeling that everything you know about autism you learned from watching Rainman? You probably are not aware that we already have some mujahideen with autism, and their skills are very valuable to our cause. Rainmomar? Are you here? Please come forward Rainmomar.

Rainmomar: 50,217 mujahideen. 50,000…50,217.

Corporate HR Imam: Rainmomar has been very helpful to our cause.

Rainmomar: 5,356,125,342 infidels left to behead. 5,356,125,342 infidels.

Corporate HR Imam: He handles all our numbers for us.

Rainmomar: 13 bullets.  13 bullets in your magazine.  13.

Ali: Ah.  See!  He is wrong.  My magazine holds 30 bullets.

Corporate HR Imam: But did you not just shoot many into the air?

Ali: Oh yeah. Wow.  He is right.  I only have 13 left.

Corporate HR Imam: He is great for our logistics and planning.  And you wouldn’t believe how much time he saves us during our annual inventory accounting.

Rainmomar: 106,660 beheadings per mujahideen. 100,000…..106,660 beheadings.

Corporate HR Imam: See?  He’s better than an abacus. If we can meet our stretch goals for massive destruction and recruiting, we hope to get that beheading ratio cut in half by the end of Q4. Thank you, Rainmomar. You may sit down.

Rainmomar (mumbling): 12 minutes to drone attack. 12. 12 minutes.

Corporate HR Imam: What was that? No bother. Lets’ get back on track and talk about the exciting new benefit package under full Sharia.

(To be continued, maybe, if I feel like it)

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The Good, the Bug, and the Ugly [IMAO]

Now on the internet: photos of dead bugs found in Michelle Obama’s “healthy” school lunches.

The good news: jumping up in revulsion counts as exercise under her “Let’s Move!” initiative.

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Very Healthful [IMAO]

Democrat Congressman Earl Blumenauer has released a plan calling for “more research on the health effects of guns.”

Well, for starters, having one in the nightstand gives you a better night’s sleep than Ambien.

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Over the Hillary [VodkaPundit]

Canada DEM 2016-Clinton

In the wake of Emailgate, Bill Scher explains what happens if Hillary Clinton chooses not to run:

“Panic,” says Democratic consultant Chris Lapetina. Indeed, the biggest problem is that the Democratic establishment is apparently so terrified of the idea of a Hillary-less race—and the vicious primary that might result—it’s not even considering contingency plans. Political professionals, like military generals and crisis management experts, know that the way to avoid being blindsided is to prepare for every scenario. But while the Democratic National Committee has to officially remain neutral, much of the extraparty infrastructure has been moving ahead on the presumption of a Hillary campaign.

After Hillary the Democrats have Elizabeth “Fauxcahontas” Warren and Martin “Who?” O’Malley.

I’d panic, too.

Vice President Fiorina [VodkaPundit]

CPAC 2015

Josh Kraushaar is the third person I’ve read saying that former HP CEO Carly Fiorina is actually running for Vice President in 2016. And he’s the second person I know of (Bill Whittle was the first) to say she’s come a long way from her unimpressive bid to unseat California Senator Barbara Boxer in 2010. Kraushaar saw her speak at CPAC and came away with this:

After watching her latest stump speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, it’s clear that she’s got more potential than many have given her credit for.

She’s an engaging speaker who has articulated a more cogent contrast against Hillary Clinton than any of the other prospective Republicans. She earned one of the loudest applause lines at CPAC on Thursday when she argued that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was speaking before Congress not to offend the president but to warn the world of the dangers of a nuclear Iran.

Most significantly, she was one of the few speakers who actually delivered a speech that was focused against Hillary Clinton—the GOP’s all-but-certain opponent in 2016—rather than dwell on President Obama’s shortcomings.

Think about this for just a moment, and having Fiorina at the bottom of the ticket makes an awful lot of sense.

Need a Spiro Agnew-type attack dog to keep her teeth sunk into Hillary? Fiorina is all that and a woman, neutering at least some of the Left’s cries of “Sexism!” (I say some because you know they’ll cry it regardless.) Fiorina also stands as a woman of actual accomplishment, as opposed to Hillary having ridden her husband’s coattails to fame and fortune and having served as one of our least-distinguished Secretaries of State.

Fiorina’s weakness is of course her tumultuous time at HP and her messy exit from the company. She may very well have saved HP, but she laid off an awful lot of people, and worse yet ruffled an awful lot of feathers — there’s a lot of oppo to be had from her former employees. Like Mitt Romney, she will be hit and hit hard on her record. Unlike Romney, she can be an excellent counterpuncher.

(As an aside, I had a brief conversation with Tammy Bruce on just that topic a year or two ago, between taping Trifecta segments when she was filling in for Bill or Scott Ott. I mentioned what a terrible counterpuncher Romney was during the campaign, and she stopped and thought for a moment and added, “He probably would have been a terrible President.” Politics doesn’t take time off between campaigns, so a sitting President has to be just as good at taking and returning a hit as a candidate. It’s easy to see how the Democrats would have made short work of Romney, even during the so-called honeymoon period.)

So Fiorina would come in as Veep with considerable strengths and just one liability — but it’s almost impossible for me to see how any successful business leader could survive the Progressive Hate Machine. What do you think? Would her time at HP hurt the ticket more than her other skills would help?

Thought for the Day [VodkaPundit]

8,000 Congressmen and Nothing On [VodkaPundit]


Bill Whittle has the Trifecta Triple this week, where one host spends three segments on one topic, and his set asking if America Is Just Too Damn Big is among the best of these I can recall ever taping.

So here’s Part I, and I hope you enjoy the heck out of it.

To Protect and to Server Herself [VodkaPundit]


How bad is Emailgate? Hillary Clinton wasn’t just using a private account for official State Department business, which is totes against the law, she was using her own server:

Operating her own server would have afforded Clinton additional legal opportunities to block government or private subpoenas in criminal, administrative or civil cases because her lawyers could object in court before being forced to turn over any emails. And since the Secret Service was guarding Clinton’s home, an email server there would have been well protected from theft or a physical hacking.

But homebrew email servers are generally not as reliable, secure from hackers or protected from fires or floods as those in commercial data centers. Those professional facilities provide monitoring for viruses or hacking attempts, regulated temperatures, off-site backups, generators in case of power outages, fire-suppression systems and redundant communications lines.

A spokesman for Clinton did not respond to requests seeking comment from the AP on Tuesday.

Of course they didn’t respond.

To anyone who might still miss the Clintons and their adorable antics, all I can say is: Well.

sazquatch:I am honestly so supportive of young women and girls who don’t want to present themselves... [(More) Amy's Ramblings]


I am honestly so supportive of young women and girls who don’t want to present themselves as sexual, whether they’re asexual, sex-repulsed, politically celibate, women who don’t want to feel or be sexy, or women who just don’t want to discuss it. I’m supportive whether this is something temporary or permanent, whatever the reason for it.

If sex isn’t liberating for you, that’s great. There’s nothing wrong with that and I’m sorry you’re being sold the lie that you’re repressed and/or unfeminist.

Android Phone Dump: March 2015 [(More) Amy's Ramblings]

Last year, I got sick of my LG not updating due to lack of space on the onboard memory (really, an android phone should have a MINIMUM of 8 GB onboard; this had a paltry 4 GB and I was running out of space daily) so I broke down and bought a Samsung Galaxy SIII.

It’s a good phone.  Not the highest of the high class, but a robust phone that’s running Android KitKat (and might get Lollipop; we will…

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Hak5 1803 – Experimental Quadcopters and RSS-Reading Arduinos [Technolust since 2005]

Experimental FPV Quadcopters at the London Hackspace. Darren meets with London Aerospace to check out V-Tail and Nano Class multirotors. Plus, how to set up your Arduino to visually represent words from an RSS – all that and more, this time on Hak5!

Download HD | Download MP4


The post Hak5 1803 – Experimental Quadcopters and RSS-Reading Arduinos appeared first on Technolust since 2005.

In other news, Guy Fieri made nachos in a garbage can and nobody... [kevin w murphy]

In other news, Guy Fieri made nachos in a garbage can and nobody was the least bit surprised.  

Cosplay, Comics & Geek Culture in the World of Librarians [LISNews:]

For all you comics geeks.

Graphic novel and comic book fans are book lovers, so it is no surprise that libraries and librarians are portrayed fairly frequently in all sorts of graphic works. Here are some comics that feature libraries and librarians and are perfect for some light reading or for a fun library display.

So they’re gonna make an awful The Moon is a Harsh Mistress movie. [Moe Lane]

I first hear of this via Frank Fleming…

..and it comes pre-sucking!

Twentieth Century Fox has acquired the film rights to classic sci-fi novel “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress” and Bryan Singer has come on board to direct the adaptation to be titled “Uprising,” an individual with knowledge of the project told TheWrap.

Nice to see that they’re not going to waste any time in turning the script into a flaming pile of cowsh*t. Very efficient of them.  Very, very efficient.

‘Moderate’ :eye-roll: Democrats say that they’re smart, and they deserve respect. [Moe Lane]

Yeah, guys, lots of luck with this:

But with Democrats of all stripes evaluating what went wrong in the 2014 midterms and wondering how to win back seats in 2016, members of the [New Democratic Coalition, a supposedly moderate Democratic group] see an opening to really be heard — and hopefully taken seriously… That’s why, for the first time in its nearly 18-year history, the group is putting out a comprehensive legislative agenda.

Aside from everything else, their timing is absolutely stellar: they picked the day after the progressive Left scored a win over the Republican majority in Congress to call for a shift in rhetoric and policy.  I can tell you exactly what the progressive response is going to be, and it’s this: “Heel, dogs.” Not that the NDC’s agenda was going to be all that great, seeing as the Hill didn’t even bother to leak the document ahead of time.  That’s usually a sign that a load of insipid pap is coming down the pipeline…

Via Instapundit.

LIBRE smacks HuffPo back on Latino outreach. [Moe Lane]

So, let me set the background, here.  The Huffington Post decided last week to run a hit piece (the lack of link is deliberate, and meant as an insult) on the LIBRE Initiative, which is a Spanish-language activist group that is also big on small-government conservatism (full disclosure: my friend/former RedState colleague Brian Faughnan happens to works for them). This sort of thing infuriates the (largely white) progressive leadership cadre, mostly because said leadership cadre has written for themselves a wonderful narrative where they’ve selflessly taken up the White Enlightened Man’s Person’s Burden to ward and foster and nurture all those disadvantaged Persons of Color.


…Yeah, sorry about that. Anyway, LIBRE kind of steps on that narrative: hence, the hit piece.  Yesterday, LIBRE’s Executive Director Daniel Garza hit back.  This HuffPo piece I’ll link to:

…there are some who believe that all Latinos must hold liberal views, or that you’re not authentically Latino if you are a conservative. In recent years people like Henry Cuellar, Susana Martinez, Ted Cruz and others have been criticized — often by anglos — for not being sufficiently Hispanic, simply because of their personal beliefs.

The staff and volunteers of the LIBRE Initiative experience this every day, as critics who profess to have the best interests of the Latino community at heart — including People For the American Way — argue that a pro-economic liberty organization can’t be trusted to deliver aid to kids arriving at the border, or to provide medical checkups to needy families, or provide children backpacks, notebooks, and haircuts as they go back to school. Some of the staunchest self-professed defenders of Hispanics say we can’t care as they do because we put more faith than they do in individuals and less in government.

This is not only wrong; it’s un-American.

I really, really hope that people bristled at that last sentence, there.  Daniel went on to mention some of the things that LIBRE does, which were all very much mainstream outreach things: helping people pass driver’s tests, English-language classes, health and back-to-school clinics. These are all things that should not be particularly partisan, but that certain elements on the Left want to make partisan… and done exclusively by their side. The idea that somebody could be providing this assistance and in the process say Oh, by the way: you’ve noticed too how badly Obamacare serves Spanish-speakers? What? You thought that you were the only one getting hammered by that? Not at all! Hey, let me tell you about this meeting… angers progressive activists, largely because they fear the ideological competition.

After all, who wants to work to convert other people to your views?  It’s ever so much easier to simply have the field all to yourself. A win by default is still a win.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

I have difficulty believing that this @erichoteham account is real. [Moe Lane]

I know Twitchy is having fun here and here with this Eric Hoteham Twitter account (for those unaware, ‘Eric Hoteham’ is supposedly the guy who set up the rapidly-becoming-infamous ‘ClintonEmail.com’ private account for Hillary Clinton), but it can’t be real.  There is no way that the Clinton campaign would keep around somebody who did something this stupid.

I don’t care who you are, that’s a campaign-killer right there. Everybody in this business knows that you don’t make even silly death threats like that* when you’re part of a campaign team. It’s absolutely counter-productive. I hate to be that guy, but… this has to be a fake. A better fake than usual, but still a fake.

Moe Lane

*I assume that the other woman was also from the American House of Cards.  I wouldn’t know: watching the original House of Cards kind of made it impossible for me to stay interested in the remake.

‘Skipper Dan.’ [Moe Lane]

Skipper DanWeird Al Yankovic

Eh, at least he’s working.

FINALLY! Player storage in Dragon Age: Inquisition. [Moe Lane]

No new DLC yet, though. But I actually kind of believe that they’re going to generate some, now. Maybe multiplayer isn’t bringing in the cash?

Anyway, time to go check out the chest…

The White House sort of admits that this Hillary Clinton email thing has legs. [Moe Lane]

(Via Hot Air) Oh, this is good. Short version: Jon Karl asked Josh Earnest, quite often, if the administration knew about Hillary Clinton’s habit of ignoring government rules by never using (or even having) her work email.  Hilarity ensued, if you’re into that sort of thing:

A free translation:

Jon Karl (ABC News): Does the White House think that Hillary Clinton broke the law by not using a work email when she was Secretary of State?

Josh Earnest (WH Press Secretary): Yadda yadda yadda…

Jon Karl: Does the White House think that Hillary Clinton broke the law?

Josh Earnest: Yadda yadda…


Josh Earnest: Ah… no?

Jon Karl: Your predecessor Jay Carney stated for the record back in 2011 that everybody in the government was supposed to be using work email accounts…

Josh Earnest: Look, yadda –

Jon Karl: …did the administration not know that Hillary was ignoring that requirement?

Josh Earnest: Maybe Jay Carney never emailed Hillary Clinton…

Jon Karl: Wait, what?

Josh Earnest: …so, clearly, yadda yadda yadda. Some non-work email accounts are OK.

Jon Karl: She did not have a work email account! It was all a private account!

Josh Earnest: [expletive deleted] it. Go talk to her, OK? We told ‘em what the proper email procedure was. Happy? HAPPY? They’re going to send the zombies after me now for admitting this, so I hope you enjoyed it.

…Man, I wouldn’t take the WH Press Secretary job on a bet.

Moving on: yeah, this story may have some legs – particularly since (also via Hot Air*) it turns out that a bunch of Clinton’s staffers may also have been using private email accounts to do State Department business. You will probably recognize the names: Huma Abedin and Philippe Reines. At least one of them has an account on the same host (ClintonEmail.com); but, obviously, if Hillary Clinton and her staffers are communicating with each other on official business using private accounts then there’s really no way to track that using the official State Department computer system.  Which was almost certainly the point.

If this all seems like an odd sort of scandal to generate such a potentially campaign-damaging (or even -destroying) result… well, that’s how it works in this business. It’s the little stuff that can trip you up. Don’t why that is, but I’ve seen it happen enough times to accept that the phenomenon exists. Especially when you remember that not everybody in the Democratic party loves Hillary Clinton.  Some, in fact, hate her. They also fear her, of course; which is one reason why this story is getting a surprising amount of play.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

*Actually via Gawker, but I can’t make myself give them traffic directly. Still, they’re smelling blood on the water over there; and they’ve been chasing a variant of this story since 2012.

DO IT, Al Gore. [Moe Lane]

Doooooo itttttttt.

You know he wants to. Sure, he’d be 68 in 2016, but so will Hillary Clinton. It is clearly his time. It is his destiny.

Tweet of the Day, EMILY’s List Is ‘Ready For Hilary’ edition. [Moe Lane]

No, not a typo.  Well, it is a typo. It’s just not MY typo.


Had to work on *two* computers today. [Moe Lane]

Which is good; it distracted me from immigration strategizing stupidity.  Anyhow, finally got the old computer configured as the kid’s new computer and got the video editing software installed on the new computer. The latter was much easier than the former: the former was largely an exercise in doing the exact same thing six times in a row, until it inexplicably decides to finally work.  It makes me wonder whether there’s normally a secret chant involved, or perhaps a spirit that needed to be placated.


Oh, like you haven’t wondered that yourself, sometimes.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Trial Begins [The Jawa Report]

Lets get on with the formalities so we can get to the Death to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev part.

ederal prosecutors have painted Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as a cold-blooded terrorist who knew exactly what he was doing when he allegedly detonated the second of two bombs along Boylston Street near the marathon’s finish line. They say Tsarnaev left a note scrawled in a Watertown, Mass., boat where he hid after the blasts. “The U.S. Government is killing our innocent civilians,” the note read, according to his indictment. “We Muslims are one body, you hurt one you hurt us all.” Prosecutors say that, questioned in the hospital after he was apprehended, Tsarnaev confessed to the bombings and showed no remorse.

Suleyman_AlMaghrebi (@CityWolf_IS7) Wants Some MOAR (Update Jawas Foiled by Muslim Shield) (update II: Muslim Shield Fail!) @RPG__Mujahid [The Jawa Report]

And MOAR shall he get...



Another slow learner.


Previous Jawa encounters with Suleyman..

Attn: Retard Abu Suleyman (@LONEWOLF__03)
Reader Love Mail: Suleyman Hates Me (Update: @Citywolf_IS PWNED!)


Update: He's back!

Also he has me blocked.


click for the justpasteit from Jihadi John.


Muslim Shield?!?!

Damn, now what shall I do?


Muslim Shield Fail!


I hope Sulyman doesn't think I've forgotten him.



Sullayman, Mujahid Zulqarnain whatever.

FBI Sending Team To Bangladesh To Investigate Murder of Avijit Roy [The Jawa Report]

Farabi Shafiur Rahman has been remanded to custody for ten days for incitement of the Murder. Hopefully the FBI can track down those who were incited by Rahman.

he US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) will "shortly" send a "small team" to Dhaka to assist Bangladeshi law enforcement agencies investigate the brutal murder of writer-blogger Avijit Roy, report agencies.

The decision came after the Bangladesh government accepted the US offer to engage the FBI in the investigation process.

Jihadi John Had Two Jobs [The Jawa Report]

One was leach and the other was street thug.

Jihadi John and his asylum-seeking family have milked the British benefits system for 20 years, the Mail can reveal today.


Housing the Islamic State executioner and his relatives in affluent parts of London has cost taxpayers up to £400,000.

One landlord said Mohammed Emwazi’s family were ‘parasites’ and ‘tenants from hell’. Incredibly, they are still believed to be pocketing £40,000 a year in handouts despite there being no sign of them in Britain.

...Records show the family were first placed in a three-bedroom apartment – now worth £900,000 – in Little Venice before moving to a £1million terraced home. The £1,950-a-month rent was covered by Westminster City Council, according to the property’s owner.

The house had to be turned from four bedrooms to five to accommodate the growing family, whose four-year stay cost taxpayers about £93,600 in rent alone.

Despite the huge outlay, Mr Emwazi tried to buy the home for £300,000 – even though it was worth double this at the time. The owner had no idea how he had the cash to make the offer, which was declined.

The Emwazis were then moved to a £600,000 apartment near Lord’s Cricket Ground, which was rented through Network Housing Group, and then on to a £1.4million apartment in Maida Vale.

Not satisfied with the free rent money plus the 300k pounds in cash, Mohammed Emwazi joined the North London Boy's Gang and robbed people in the street to fund terrorism. He also had connections to an second attempted tube bombing.

Its clear his connection with CAGED Prisoners is because he was attracted to to them as a known advocate for terrorists after his activities caught the eye of security services.

So far as I can tell, robbing the Kuffar, leaching from the Kuffar and terrorism against the Kuffar. All Halal, or permitted under Islam.

So its no wonder CAGE see's him as innocent.

To ISIS From America With Love [The Jawa Report]

Just click it!

The pictures in this post were taken at the end of January at Ahmed al Jaber airbase in Kuwait, where A-10 Thunderbolt attack planes belonging to the 163rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron "Blacksnakes," part of the 122nd Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard, based at Fort Wayne, Indiana, are deployed to support Operation Inherent Resolve against militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Short Pants [The Nerdist]

Some hostful goodness for the middle of your week! Chris talks about something very strange that happened to him the other day, Jonah talks about his endless love for Dan Aykroyd and the SNL 40th Anniversary show. They also talk about the passing of Harris Wittels and their memories of him.

King v. Burwell (Halbig ObamaCare Case): Oral Argument in Supreme Court Today [Patterico's Pontifications]

Today is the day. In preparation, hackwork pieces are appearing all over Big Media, seemingly all from the pro-Obama side. (Shocking and unexpected!) Michael Cannon had a little fun with the fact-challenged offering from Sarah Kliff at Vox, and notes no fewer than 18 problems with it. I won’t go over all 18, but let’s whet your appetite with a couple of them:

3. “As anyone who covered it at the time…remembers, the law’s passage was an absolute mess,” Kliff reports, and the “messy language and loose ends that legislators expected to get ironed out simply became part of the law.”

Nevertheless, Kliff reports that all congressional staff involved with the drafting of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act swear they meant to authorize the disputed taxes and subsidies in states with federal Exchanges. She also reports that all journalists who reported on the drafting process swear that every time the topic arose, Democratic staffers always said these provisions would be authorized in states with federal Exchanges. (Well, except these members of Congress and this journalist.)

Kliff neglects to mention that there is absolutely zero contemporaneous evidence of any kind that supports those recollections. Or that contemporaneous discussions of that issue, like this one by Jonathan Cohn, show (A) that even the sharpest journalists weren’t paying attention to this issue, and (B) to the extent they did, their impressions were consistent with the subsidies being conditional.

Thus, the only contemporaneous evidence that speaks directly to the question presented to the Court is the explicit statutory text clearly limiting subsidies to Exchanges “established by the State.” That’s probably something Kliff should have mentioned. You know, so readers can decide whether to take the “if you like your health plan, you can keep it” crowd at their word.

It’s worth noting, I think, that the link to “this journalist” goes to an NPR piece that says:

Indeed, on Monday a group of Democratic House members from Texas wrote to President Obama urging that the House approach be preserved in the final bill. They worry that because leaders in their state oppose the health bill, they won’t bother to create an exchange, leaving uninsured state residents with no way to benefit from the new law.

Absolutely nobody ever said that!!!! Oh, except that guy.

Oh, and except Jonathan Gruber . . . multiple times. But, you see, Kliff advances the compelling “we should all believe Jonathan Gruber” argument, which Cannon refutes easily:

16. Kliff writes, “[Jonathan] Gruber has disavowed the remarks [in which he told audiences that the law conditions subsidies on states establishing Exchanges], saying that he spoke ‘off the cuff’ and made a mistake. There’s reason to believe him: Gruber spoke regularly to dozens of reporters during this period and never mentioned this idea to any of them.”

Kliff should have mentioned there is also reason not to believe Gruber’s disavowals. Gruber made that claim multiple times, and his attempts to explain those comments away reveal, um, inconsistencies.

Kliff also should have mentioned that at least one of his “off the cuff” remarks was anything but. As our pal Morgen said at the time:

Cannon’s piece is worth reading in full. But as we prepare for today’s argument, I would like to point out one major logical flaw that runs through so many of the pro-Obama arguments: the argument that “we are right, and because we’re right, that means were right.” So many of their arguments simply assume the thing they are trying to prove.

For example, there is the “Moops” argument advanced by Jonathan Chait, which references the Seinfeld episode in which George tells Bubble Boy that he got a trivia question wrong because the card says the “Moops” invaded Spain in the 8th Century. This argument is advanced to show that a drafting error is just a drafting error. Putting side (as Cannon shows) the fact that the government is not arguing that the language was a drafting error, the argument still assumes what it claims to prove. It is a fact that the Moors invaded Spain, goes the argument, and it is a fact that the language was drafted to give subsidies to federally established exchanges. Therefore, you must read the language as giving subsidies to federally established exchanges.

See how easy arguments are when you assume your conclusion to be true?

Likewise, the pro-Obama folks argue that, as doofus Scott Lemieux puts it, “the Cannon-Adler interpretation may be unconstitutional, since states have to be given fair notice before a federal benefit is taken away.” Of course, for it to be “taken away” it had to be granted to begin with. But if you just assume the subsidies were there, then you can’t take them away without telling the states clearly. Once again, the argument assumes the very thing the pro-Obama faction is trying to prove: that Congress granted the subsidies to begin with.

The fact is, even if everybody assumed that people would get subsidies, that appears to have been based on another poor assumption: that all states would establish exchanges.

Somewhere Aristotle is spinning in his grave, trying to figure out how his principles of logic have been so badly distorted.

I’ll try to offer some commentary on the oral argument this evening.

Deputy Inspector General: “There Is Potential Criminal Activity” In Disappearance of Lerner Emails [Patterico's Pontifications]

Weird how they were able to find plenty of emails when the IRS just couldn’t find any:

The IRS’s inspector general confirmed Thursday it is conducting a criminal investigation into how Lois G. Lerner’s emails disappeared, saying it took only two weeks for investigators to find hundreds of tapes the agency’s chief had told Congress were irretrievably destroyed.

Investigators have already scoured 744 backup tapes and gleaned 32,774 unique emails, but just two weeks ago they found an additional 424 tapes that could contain even more Lerner emails, Deputy Inspector General Timothy P. Camus told the House Oversight Committee in a rare late-night hearing meant to look into the status of the investigation.

“There is potential criminal activity,” Mr. Camus said.

How about that.

pericmd 031: More on tab completion (3): case sensitivity, Complete [Perlsphere]

Continuing from the previous blog’s example, you’ll notice that by default tab completion is case-insensitive:

% mycomp2 --baz h<tab>
% mycomp2 --baz H<tab><tab>
HISTFILESIZE    HISTSIZE        HOME            

This is because most completion routines, including complete_env() used above, or complete_array_elem() used often in custom completion routines, offer ci (case-insensitive) option which defaults to $Complete::OPT_CI which in turn default to environment variable COMPLETE_OPT_CI or 1.

If you turn off case-insensitivity, e.g. by:

% export COMPLETE_OPT_CI=0

then the above completion will no longer work:

% mycomp2 --baz h<tab><tab>

Alternatively if you need to set case (in-)sensitivity specifically in a routine, you can turn it on or off explicitly. For example:

# explicitly turn on case-insensitivity, regardless of COMPLETE_OPT_CI or $Complete::OPT_CI setting
complete_array_elem(array=>\@array, word=>$args{word}, ci=>1);

There are several other settings in Complete that are observed by the other Complete::* modules. Most of these settings’ default are optimized for convenience. This will be covered in the next blog post.

Maintaining Perl 5: Grant Report for January 2015 [Perlsphere]

Tony Cook writes:

Approximately 61 tickets were reviewed or worked on, and 11 patches were applied.

There were no especially interesting tickets this month.

1.60cpan #101078 create/test bisect script and start bisect
cpan #101078 review bisect results, comment
0.27#120357 (security) research and comment
0.52#122432 review status
#122432 summarize status of cpan dists
2.25#122443 testing, polish
1.48#122730 bang head against dzil, try some simple fixes,
create github issue
0.20#123065 apply to blead
0.83#123218 produce a patch
0.15#123315 comment
2.13#123341 testing, review code and comment
2.78#123394 review, cleanup, testing, push to blead
#123394 review discussion and comment
2.52#123413 review latest patch, look into sdbm history,
#123413 review, testing, fixes, push to blead, comment
0.23#123437 review and comment
0.58#123443 look for similar write() bug and work on fix
0.18#123512 review and comment
1.17#123528 review patch, discussion of win32 GetVersionEx()
1.03#123532 testing, review code, comment
3.03#123538 diagnose, produce a patch, comment
#123538 test, apply to blead, check 123622 and lots of
win32 test failure code in between
3.34#123542 reproduce, debugging, try to reduce test case
#123542 reduce test case size, try to understand the parser
0.67#123549 review, research, testing, comment
1.60#123551 try to work out afl-gcc/blead build issues
4.00#123554 diagnose, debugging and comment
#123554 produce a better patch, checking code, comment
#123554 review, re-test and apply to blead
0.57#123555 review, research and comment
#123555 review discussion and mark as rejected
0.33#123562 try to understand code
1.52#123566 review, testing, apply to blead and comment
0.45#123575 review, testing
0.50#123580 review discussion
0.22#123585 review ticket and code
0.97#123591, 123538, test, add tests to 123538 patch
1.84#123599 research and comment
#123599 follow-up comment
0.45#123600 review smoke results, re-test and push to blead
0.25#123605 review, test and apply to blead
0.83#123606 review, test, apply to blead and comment
0.53#123620 review and briefly comment
#123620 review
1.13#123632 review, check history/usage of Opcode, comment
#123632 test and apply to blead
0.52#123634 review, test and apply to blead
0.20#123635 review discussion and patch and reject
6.96#123638 (security) review, discussion, attempt to fix
#123638 debugging
#123638 code review
#123638 testing
0.40#123658 review discussion and patch, comment
1.79#123672 review, find problem not in v5.14, start bisect
#123672 fix bisect
0.40#123675 review discussion, research, comment
1.05#123677 try to debug
0.35#123682 review and briefly comment
1.30#123683 try to visually track down commit, leont beats me
to commenting, start bisect
0.35#123689 comment
0.40#123693 review patch and comment
0.47#36248 try to understand cause and boggle at encoding.pm
0.9764-bit gcc/win32 build issue
3.18check out recent gcc Win32 build issues
1.30cygwin op/repeat.t issue
1.28fix SDBM_File build on gcc/win32
1.35look into Win32 test failures, reproduce, start bisect
0.83More 5.20.2
0.95more gcc Win32
0.52Plack-App-PHPCGI setup
2.68Review 5.20.2 votes list
0.55review and comment on character/bin data thread
1.40review bisect result and fix bisect code
0.40review maint-5.20 votes
0.45win32 sdbm issues
0.32win32 test failure
2.83win32 unthreaded sdbm_file build issues, discussion,
diagnosis, fix, testing

73.35 Hours Total

Simon Josefsson: EdDSA and Ed25519 goes to IETF [Planet Debian]

After meeting Niels Möller at FOSDEM and learning about his Ed25519 implementation in GNU Nettle, I started working on a simple-to-implement description of Ed25519. The goal is to help implementers of various IETF (and non-IETF) protocols add support for Ed25519. As many are aware, OpenSSH and GnuPG has support for Ed25519 in recent versions, and OpenBSD since the v5.5 May 2014 release are signed with Ed25519. The paper describing EdDSA and Ed25519 is not aimed towards implementers, and does not include test vectors. I felt there were room for improvement to get wider and more accepted adoption.

Our work is published in the IETF as draft-josefsson-eddsa-ed25519 and we are soliciting feedback from implementers and others. Please help us iron out the mistakes in the document, and point out what is missing. For example, what could be done to help implementers avoid side-channel leakage? I don’t think the draft is the place for optimized and side-channel free implementations, and it is also not the place for a comprehensive tutorial on side-channel free programming. But maybe there is a middle ground where we can say something more than what we can do today. Ideas welcome!

Clint Adams: As one might expect, a white person responded to him. [Planet Debian]

“I think poor black people and white intellectuals using the same model is pretty telling, actually: the two most isolated sides of the spectrum,” he said.

Zlatan Todorić: Interviews with FLOSS developers: Paul Wise [Planet Debian]

After starting with Joey Hess, we continue with Paul Wise. What makes his star to shine are many things such as being a DSA (Debian System Administrator), a helpful hand on mailings list, encouraging people to join Debian teams but most of all - he has encyclopedia knowledge on Debian as a whole which he gladly shares with anyone who asks (very fast response on IRC channels). It is almost impossible for any single person to count all Debian teams, work and places - to know most of those things, you can image the vast knowledge which Paul has. The legend says that his brain has better and faster search engine algorithm on Debian related queries than all other engines combined. So lets see what he has to share with world.

me: Who are you?

pabs: Paul Wise (pabs) and I have to say that I'm no-where near as knowledgeable as your intro suggests.

me: How did you start programming?

pabs: Messing around with fractals and graphics things in MS BASIC.

me: How would you now advise others to start programming?

pabs: Pick an issue in a tool you use, investigate how the tool works and how you can change it, fix that and contribute the change back to the project that created that tool. In the process you will learn skills, interact with the community and contribute to the project.

me: Setup of your development machine?

pabs: Lenovo Thinkpad with external monitor, Debian testing and some tweaks

me What is your preferable language (for hacking)? Why? How do you compare it to other languages?

pabs: I currently prefer Python for its readability. It still has some rough edges though the documentation covers them fairly well. I generally pick up new languages when working on projects written in them. Haskell is next on the horizon due to Nikki and the Robots.

me: Describe your current most memorable situation as software developer/hacker?

pabs: I had a great time creating fractals in BASIC, learning about the Mandelbrot set, L-systems and more. My days and nights of hacking on frhed (a GPLed hex editor for Windows) to help me cheat at Civilisation were pretty memorable. frhed led to my work on reverse engineering the CHM file format (a documentation format for Windows programs). A stand-out moment during my time with Debian was hacking on the derivates census patch generation code during the Debian UK BBQ weekend, surrounded by geeks playing Portal, cooking things, hacking on Debian and generally having a good time (thanks Steve!).

me: Some memorable moments from Debian conferences?

pabs: There are so many; meeting Debian folks, playing Mao once and then never again, late night games of werewolf, both delectably delicious and hideously disgusting cheeses, fried insects, day trips to beautiful landscapes, inspiring keynotes, exciting BoFs, secret IRC channels for planning surprise birthday parties, blue hair, wet air, blocks of fried cheese, a vast quantity of icecream, pants, geeks in the surf, volcanoes, hiking, a wonderful view, a uni-cycling stormtrooper & more.

me: How do you see future of Debian development?

pabs: I hope we will continue to exist and uphold our principles for the foreseeable future. I don't have any crystal balls though.

me: You recently became member of Debian DSA - what is that like, what roles do you have and what tasks are in front of DSA?

pabs: We wrote a bit of text about that for DPN recently.

me: You have large knowledge on Debian and you share it with anyone who wants to know more. What motivates you to do so?

pabs: I want the operating system I personally rely on to exist into the future, helping folks work on and join Debian can help with that.

me: Why should developers and users join Debian community? What makes Debian a great and happy place?

pabs: Every Debian contributor has different reasons for joining the community. Personally the Social Contract, the DFSG and the spirit and culture behind them are the main reason to be involved. I also like our many efforts towards technical excellence and correctness. Of course I've made a number of good friends over the years, especially as a result of attending DebConf every year since 2007.

me: You are member of Debian publicity team which writes Debian news - do you need more people to join that team and how can they start?

pabs: Since there is an infinite amount of work to do, pretty much every part of Debian always needs help, that includes the publicity team. We published a post about ways to help here.

me: If someone wants to contribute to Debian in terms of packaging, can they do it anonymously (for example over Tor network, does Debian have .onion address)?

pabs: Due to Debian's penchant for transparency it is harder but there are definitely package maintainers who have built up a reputation for good work under a pseudonym over the years and become Debian contributors as a result. I'm not aware of completely anonymous package maintainers but there are definitely people who file bugs using one-off pseudonyms, which is almost the same thing as anonymously. There are definitely Debian contributors and members who use Tor while contributing to Debian. In fact, as Debian is very highly dependent on OpenPGP and the best practices for OpenPGP include refreshing your keyring slowly over Tor, so probably quite a number of Debian contributors use Tor. As far as I know Debian itself does not run any Tor relays or onion services.

me: What are places that non-packaging developers and people could join and help spread Debian even more?

pabs: There are many ways to help Debian, including non-technical ones. Unfortunately our web page about helping Debian isn't quite up-to-date with all of them but a few more are to volunteer at DebConf, helo with artwork requests, speak about Debian at events or even come up with ideas for projects. Whatever skills you have, Debian can probably make use of them. If you aren't sure where to start, jump on the debian-mentors mailing list or IRC channel and we can probably guide you to the right place within Debian. Don't worry about not being skilled enough, everyone starts somewhere.

me: How do you see Debian will manage webapps?

pabs: Personally I prefer locally installed software, standard data formats and standard data transfer protocols to the wild webapps world but I understand they are becoming very popular to produce and use due to the ubiquity of the web browser platform. Antonio Terceiro is mentoring a project for this year's newcomer mentorship programs (outreachy/gsoc) that aims to improve support for installing web apps on Debian installations. I hope it succeeds as it could help make Debian more popular on servers and home servers in particular.

me: How would you advise Debian (and other FLOSS users) to setup their machine in terms of security and anonymity?

pabs: All technology has upsides and downsides. I would advise anyone to analyse their situation and protect themselves accordingly. For example if you have a bad memory, full disk encryption, which is based on pass-phrases might lead to data loss and physical security might be a better choice for protecting your data. The right choices around technology are very much a personal thing.

me: Is it better to setup xmonad (because it is Haskell based WM) with small dependency chain or GNOME (because it is getting sandboxed apps) in term of security and privacy implications?

pabs: Again, the right choices around technology are very much a personal thing. Due to the design of X11, both of these are approximately equivalent from a window-manager security properties point of view, that is to say, pretty bad. Wayland is one of the possible X11 successors and offers much better security properties. GNOME folks are working on switching to Wayland. Ultimately though it comes down to how each person uses their window manager and which software they run under it.

me: Should Debian join Tor project as distro that installs Tor relays by default - should it offer that as option in installer in Debian 9?

pabs: Running a Tor relay requires a reasonably fast and reliable Internet connection and should be a conscious decision on behalf of the sysadmin for a computer so Debian probably shouldn't install them by default. If tasksel gets support for installing tasks from Debian Pure Blends, then we could add a Tor relay task to the Debian Sanctuary Pure Blend.

me: Have you ever considered joining initiatives such as FreedomBox?

pabs: I was quite moved by Eben Moglen's talk at DebConf10 in New York and the resulting BoF. It seemed like a very ambitious project but I didn't really have the knowledge, skills or time to contribute yet.

me: Are you a gamer? Valve Steam games are offered for free to Debian Developers - do you use steam and play Valve games? Your thoughts on Steam and non-free Linux gaming?

pabs: I play computer games occasionally, all from Debian main or ones that I'm packaging. 0ad is my current go-to for a bit of gaming. I don't have any experience with Steam or non-free games on Linux.

me: Is there something you would change in FLOSS ecosystem?

pabs: Various folks have highlighted new and ongoing challenges for the FLOSS ecosystem in various places in recent years.

Something that I would like to highlight that does not get talked about enough is the choices we make around our digital artefacts. This is the discussion around "preferred form for modification" or "source". The "source" for a particular digital artefact is a deliberate choice on behalf of the authors. Often generated files are distributed alongside the "source" without any instructions for reproducing the generated files from the "source". It sometimes happens that FLOSS contributors forget to distriute what they have chosen as "source", instead just distributing the generated files. This is a fairly well known issue but still happens. What isn't thought about quite as much is that the choice of "source" has consequences for future development possibilities of that "source". Some forms of "source" are more expressive than others, can be modified in a wider variety of ways and are better choices in general. Sometimes the consequences of choosing less expressive forms are mild and other times they are quite important. I hope more people will start to think about these choices. Some examples where, in my opinion, various people could have made better choices are listed in the mail I sent to the games team list last year.

Another thing I would like to highlight is the work that organisations like Software Freedom Conservancy and Software in the Public Interest do to protect, defend, promote and support FLOSS projects. It is very important work that needs our interest and support.

me: Can FLOSS world create great alternatives to Viber, Dropbox, WhatsUp, Facebook, Skype and other non-free services?

pabs: I think that the FLOSS world has already created alternatives to all of those. The success of non-free services doesn't take these alternatives away but it does mean some of them are less useful because some of them are the kind of tools that become more useful with a larger amount of people using them. I don't know what it would take for the FLOSS alternatives to achieve similar success as network effects are hard to overcome. Hopefully mako is right and the network effects are overrated.

me: Your thoughts and compare Cloud, IaaS, PaaS, SaaSS? To what should the FLOSS world pay more attention and energy?

pabs: Initially I dismissed these as buzzwords and a threat to Free Software. These days I view them as potential opportunities for Free Software. Cloud-related technologies such as OpenStack and virtual machines can make private compute farm hardware more flexible and useful to their owners. IaaS providers can be used to run Debian more simply and cheaply and therefore bring Debian to more people than possible with hardware. PaaS providers can be used to run Free Software services. SaaSS can be based entirely on Free Software and respect users. Of course, just like running Free Software on hardware (proprietary or libre), cloud technology, IaaS, PaaS and SaaSS all come with downsides. The FLOSS world should aim to inform users of our software of these downsides. For example, the Debian installer could note that it is running on Intel CPUs with a proprietary BIOS and various proprietary software running, that it is running on a mobile phone with a locked bootloader, that it is running in a Xen VM on machines owned by Amazon. Free Software services could note they are running on Google App Engine etc. Free Software web browsers, chat clients etc could note when they are connecting to proprietary network services. All these notes could inform users about the downsides present in the particular situation encountered. There is also much work to be done making it easier to run Free Software on top of or use Free Software to connect to all manner of platforms from lowRISC to UEFI to VMware to Google App Engine to GitHub to Facebook. The more places Free Software can reach, the more people will be exposed to the philosophy behind it and the more potential there is for folks to join the community. While co-option of the FLOSS world is a dangerous certainty, co-option of proprietary platforms might be able to expand the reach of the philosophy behind Free Software.

me: Your thoughts on Purism (the open hardware laptop initiative that got recently funded on CrowdSupply)?

pabs: I don't know enough about that to comment but personally I am more interested in a laptop based on a libre CPU architecture. The RISC-V ISA and the lowRISC project seems to be one of the more promising possibilities at this point in time.

me: Did you watch Citizenfour - comments on it?

pabs: I've seen the trailer and look forward to watching it at some point, I read there might be a screening at DebConf15.

Use an Apple or Google device? You may be vulnerable to a 'FREAK' attack [CBC | Technology News]

Millions of people may have been left vulnerable to hackers while surfing the web on Apple and Google devices, thanks to a newly discovered security flaw known as "FREAK."

3D scanning reveals how much Sophie the Stegosaurus weighed [CBC | Technology News]

London's Natural History Museum said Tuesday that Sophie, a young adult when it died around 150 million years ago, weighed around 1,600 kg and its body mass was about the same size as a small rhinoceros.

Sony's VR headset for Play Station to be released early 2016 [CBC | Technology News]

Games-Game Developers Conference-Project Morpheus

Sony intends on unleashing its virtual-reality headset on consumers next year, the gaming and electronics giant said Tuesday at a news conference held during the Game Developers Conference.

Fabrics of the future could analyze the health of wearers [CBC | Technology News]

Christa Brosseau

The exercise sweatband of the future may not just collect what runs down your brow, it could also gather important health information.

There’s no kangaroo emoji :( [Fitness, baby!]

There’s no kangaroo emoji :(

Sproutie hears the Shortwave Shindig [The SWLing Post]

IMG_7321SWLing Post reader, Dave Richards (AA7EE), made a short video of his regen receiver “Sproutie” tuned to the Shortwave Shindig Friday evening.

Dave writes:

“I was quite pleased with the fidelity. Of course, the skirts on a regen are quite broad, even though the nose of the selectivity curve is fairly narrow.  The signal was a bit lower in level and noisier at the beginning of the show but by the time it got to this segment, it was a nice strong signal. Sorry – no S-meter here, so that is the best I can do!”

Dave, thanks for sharing this video! Sproutie did a brilliant job tuning in a program from across the continent. I’m also most impressed with Sproutie’s audio. Amazing!

Readers, click here to read a previous post about Dave’s home brew regen receiver, “Sproutie.” Also, be sure to bookmark Dave’s blog by clicking here.

Two hour special PCJ broadcast: March 14, 2015 [The SWLing Post]

pcjPCJ International has noted a special two hour transmission on March 14th, 2015 from 2300 to 0100 UTC on 7,570 kHz.

Though no details have been released yet, Keith Perron has noted that they plan to give away listener prizes.

How do you guys feel about the episode Mudd's Women? I have a lot of conflicting feelings towards it and how it could've been used to comment on human trafficking or how people view women as commodities or how what housewives do is basically unpaid labor and extremely devalued but instead it has a strange sort of "believe in yourself" and I'm kinda confused by it. [My Happy Space Family]

Yeah I have reaaaaally mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, all three women are complicit in their own trafficking and like super extremely desperate for husbands because they feel like they can’t survive without men in their lives, which is a really sketchy premise for an episode. On the other hand, Eve (the one in the pink dress) is a really strong character who doesn’t let men treat her like shit or objectify her just because she is a mail-order bride. 

I totally agree with you on the “Um what is this episode even trying to say???” point. Like at first I was really happy because I thought it was going to be: “Women have value other than their looks. Even ugly women deserve to be treated well, and the work they do in this world is important even if it is traditionally feminine.” They portrayed Eve’s husband as a bumbling asshat who couldn’t even do basic cooking, and the episode painted him in a bad light when he tried to treat Eve like a useless sex object. So that seemed really good, and I was excited about it. But then the last few minutes had the whole EVE CAN BE PRETTY EVEN WITHOUT SEXY DRUGS IF SHE HAS CONFIDENCE IN HERSELF and I was just like ???????

Basically my entire opinion on the episode can be summed up with ???????????????????????????

But Eve is an awesome character, and one of my favorite one-episode ladies. 



Keep the asks coming

Tuesday Ask Night! [My Happy Space Family]

Hey everyone!  Feel free to send us your thoughts, questions, stories, requests, etc. 

Asking frequencies are open!

(You’re welcome to blacklist ‘double dumbask on you’ if this isn’t your cup of tea.) 

thefitrasta:When i talk about power and flexibility…. one person... [healthy is a lifestyle]


When i talk about power and flexibility…. one person comes to mind…

hobbits-and-destiel: skeletonwang: that is not a dog that is... [healthy is a lifestyle]



that is not a dog that is the continent of australia 

clifford went through a goth phase

i want it

blondesquats: take all the pictures you want if its going to help you love yourself [healthy is a lifestyle]


take all the pictures you want if its going to help you love yourself 

allipoet:Mystery Science Theater and RiffTrax Appreciation Post [RiffTrax]


Mystery Science Theater and RiffTrax Appreciation Post

DOJ Makes It Official: No Civil Rights Charges Against Darren Wilson… [Weasel Zippers]

Maybe next time, Al. Via WaPo: The Justice Department on Wednesday released a report explaining why it will not pursue federal civil rights charges against Darren Wilson, the white police officer, who shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, in Ferguson, Mo., last August. The department found that Wilson’s actions “do not constitute […]

The Big Idea: Bruce Schneier [Whatever]

What’s your electronic data worth to you? What is it worth to others? And what’s the dividing line between your privacy and your convenience? These are questions Bruce Schneier thinks a lot about, and as he shows in Data and Goliath, they are questions which have an impact on where society and technology are going next.


Data and Goliath is a book about surveillance, both government and corporate. It’s an exploration in three parts: what’s happening, why it matters, and what to do about it. This is a big and important issue, and one that I’ve been working on for decades now. We’ve been on a headlong path of more and more surveillance, fueled by fear – or terrorism mostly – on the government side, and convenience on the corporate side. My goal was to step back and say “wait a minute; does any of this make sense?” I’m proud of the book, and hope it will contribute to the debate.

But there’s a big idea here too, and that’s the balance between group interest and self-interest. Data about us is individually private, and at the same time valuable to all us collectively. How do we decide between the two? If President Obama tells us that we have to sacrifice the privacy of our data to keep our society safe from terrorism, how do we decide if that’s a good trade-off? If Google and Facebook offer us free services in exchange for allowing them to build intimate dossiers on us, how do know whether to take the deal?

There are a lot of these sorts of deals on offer. Wayz gives us real-time traffic information, but does it by collecting the location data of everyone using the service. The medical community wants our detailed health data to perform all sorts of health studies and to get early warning of pandemics. The government wants to know all about you to better deliver social services. Google wants to know everything about you for marketing purposes, but will “pay” you with free search, free e-mail, and the like.

Here’s another one I describe in the book: “Social media researcher Reynol Junco analyzes the study habits of his students. Many textbooks are online, and the textbook websites collect an enormous amount of data about how — and how often — students interact with the course material. Junco augments that information with surveillance of his students’ other computer activities. This is incredibly invasive research, but its duration is limited and he is gaining new understanding about how both good and bad students study — and has developed interventions aimed at improving how students learn. Did the group benefit of this study outweigh the individual privacy interest of the subjects who took part in it?”

Again and again, it’s the same trade-off: individual value versus group value.

I believe this is the fundamental issue of the information age, and solving it means careful thinking about the specific issues and a moral analysis of how they affect our core values.

You can see that in some of the debate today. I know hardened privacy advocates who think it should be a crime for people to withhold their medical data from the pool of information. I know people who are fine with pretty much any corporate surveillance but want to prohibit all government surveillance, and others who advocate the exact opposite.

When possible, we need to figure out how to get the best of both: how to design systems that make use of our data collectively to benefit society as a whole, while at the same time protecting people individually.

The world isn’t waiting; decisions about surveillance are being made for us – often in secret. If we don’t figure this out for ourselves, others will decide what they want to do with us and our data. And we don’t want that. I say: “We don’t want the FBI and NSA to secretly decide what levels of government surveillance are the default on our cell phones; we want Congress to decide matters like these in an open and public debate. We don’t want the governments of China and Russia to decide what censorship capabilities are built into the Internet; we want an international standards body to make those decisions. We don’t want Facebook to decide the extent of privacy we enjoy amongst our friends; we want to decide for ourselves.”

In my last chapter, I write: “Data is the pollution problem of the information age, and protecting privacy is the environmental challenge. Almost all computers produce personal information. It stays around, festering. How we deal with it — how we contain it and how we dispose of it — is central to the health of our information economy. Just as we look back today at the early decades of the industrial age and wonder how our ancestors could have ignored pollution in their rush to build an industrial world, our grandchildren will look back at us during these early decades of the information age and judge us on how we addressed the challenge of data collection and misuse.”

That’s it; that’s our big challenge. Some of our data is best shared with others. Some it can be “processed” – anonymized, maybe – before reuse. Some of it needs to be disposed of properly, either immediately or after a time. And some of it should be saved forever. Knowing what data goes where is a balancing act between group and self-interest, a trade-off that will continually change as technology changes, and one that we will be debating for decades to come.


Data and Goliath: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s Web site. Follow him on Twitter.

Today’s Reading is From the Book of Redshirts [Whatever]

This is cool: Redshirts being used as part of a church sermon (specifically at St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church in Madison, Wisconsin). It is, logically enough, being used a bit like a parable (or at least a framing device) to help discuss a larger and more complicated theological idea. I like it when my work finds use in interesting ways like this. The sermon’s pretty good, too.

(Thanks to Pamela Grenfell Smith for bringing it to my attention.)

7 Stages of Grief [WIL WHEATON dot TUMBLR]

7 Stages of Grief:


  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance
  6. Acceptance Speech
  7. Afterparty

geekandsundry:"Whatever I have given, I have gained." RIP... [WIL WHEATON dot TUMBLR]


"Whatever I have given, I have gained." RIP Leonard Nimoy 

Houston AMSAT Net #1091 - 03 Mar 2015 [Houston AMSAT Net Podcast]

In this edition:

02. Receiving ISS SSTV
04. SUWS WebSDR Antennas Info
05. ISS SSTV Images
06. Excellent PD180 Software
07. CubeSats Offered Deep-Space Ride
08. Space Launch System Booster Test Firing Video Feed
09. More About Space Launch System
10. ARISS SSTV Diploma Available
11. Patrick WD9EWK on Twitter
12. WD9EWKs Youtube Videos
13. Central States VHF Society Call for Papers
14. JPL Ranging Code
15. Leonard Nimoy
16. EDN on Spock
17. 50 Mbps Troposcatter
18. CubeSat Ambipolar Thruster
19. 73 on 73 Award
20. Ride to the Edge of Space
21. NASAs HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE 25th Anniversary Swag
22. Greater Houston Hamfest
23. and more.

ITU Smart Sustainable Development Model Report Touts Amateur Radio’s Advantages [American Radio Relay League | Ham Radio Association and Resources]

The use of Amateur Radio in disaster preparedness and response was among “best practices” cited in the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Smart Sustainable Development Model Report for 2015. International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) President Tim Ellam, VE6SH/G4HUA, is a member of the Smart Sustainable Development Model Advisory Board, which prepared the report, published in January. Th...

New York City to add Muslim holidays to school calendar [Americas – France 24 - International News 24/7]

New York City public schools will start observing two of Islam’s most important holidays, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, The New York Times reported on Wednesday, citing an announcement to be delivered by the city’s Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Mexican cartel leader arrested in pre-dawn raid [Americas – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Federal forces on Wednesday arrested the leader of one of Mexico’s most feared drug cartels in a pre-dawn raid in the northern city of Monterrey, officials said. The arrest marks the second capture of a Mexican drug kingpin in less than a week.

Chile volcano eruption sends 3,500 residents fleeing [Americas – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Southern Chile’s Villarrica volcano erupted early on Tuesday, sending heavy smoke into the air and lava coursing towards the small city of Pucon, prompting authorities to evacuate thousands of residents.

Boston Marathon bombing trial set to begin [Americas – France 24 - International News 24/7]

An all-white jury that includes a restaurant manager, several retirees and a social worker will hear the trial of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, which gets underway with opening statements on Wednesday.

Homeless man shot dead by LAPD mistakenly identified as French national [Americas – France 24 - International News 24/7]

A homeless man who was shot and killed by Los Angeles police officers over the weekend was a convicted bank robber who assumed the identity of a French national to enter the United States during the 1990s, officials said Tuesday.

Homeless man shot dead by LAPD identified as French national [Americas – France 24 - International News 24/7]

A homeless man killed on Skid Row by Los Angeles police was an undocumented French migrant who had been released last May from a federal prison after serving roughly 14 years for bank robbery, a law enforcement official said on Tuesday.

Indonesia prepares to execute Australian drug smugglers [Asia/Pacific – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Two convicted Australian drug smugglers arrived on Wednesday at an Indonesian island prison where they will be executed by firing squad along with seven other foreigners, one of them French, despite international outrage.

Justice Department: No Darren Wilson charges [Jammie Wearing Fools]

The Justice Department formally closed its investigation of Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson, declining to bring criminal charges for the killing of Michael Brown.

In a report released Wednesday, prosecutors said that “Wilson’s actions do not constitute prosecutable violations” of federal civil rights law.

“There is no evidence upon which prosecutors can rely to disprove Wilson’s stated subjective belief that he feared for his safety,” the Justice Department report said.

Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to address the findings at 3 p.m. EST.

Full story.

Netanyahu speaks the truths Obama denies [Jammie Wearing Fools]

This is the real world, unraveling before our eyes, and to see it clearly is to understand why Iran cannot be allowed to get the bomb. Its vow to destroy Israel and America must be taken seriously.

Look at the death and destruction it has caused already, and it defies common sense to believe Iran would be more peaceful with the bomb. Driven by the will to dominate, it cannot be trusted to restrain doomsday weapons.

Which brings us back to Obama. His willingness to grant Iran a soft deal is a malignant example of his refusal to accept the role of Islam in Islamic terrorism. As writer Fred Siegel recently scoffed, the president is insisting that he is an “expert on legitimate Islam” and “assuming his role as Defender of the Islamic Faith.”

Even if well-intentioned, these are not harmless mistakes. Obama’s rigid ideology and faith in his own powers of redemption are blinding him to the results. It is why he has been slow to confront both the Islamic State and the Islamic Republic.

Instead of recognizing his mistake, Obama complains about alarmist media accounts and warns that, because of the Crusades, Christians should be wary about getting on their “high horse” over Muslim atrocities.

All this is sophistry designed to deflect responsibility away from the Oval Office, even as it makes cataclysmic nuclear war more likely.

Full story.

Last Year’s Paternity Leave Mascot is This Year’s “Homophobe” [Jammie Wearing Fools]

You’re useful to the left so long as they can exploit you.

New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy will join senior Obama administration officials at a working fathers event on Monday, part of a broader White House effort to push for family-friendly policies at companies across the U.S.

Some fans and sports commentators bashed Mr. Murphy when he missed the first two games of the season for the birth of his first child. Major League Baseball, the Mets and a host of media outlets came to his defense, and the episode ultimately highlighted a key issue for working dads and turned the ballplayer into an unofficial spokesman for fathers.

Indeed, the role of caregivers has changed markedly in the past two decades. Therewere about 2 million stay-at-home dads in the U.S. in 2012, nearly double the 1.1 million in 1989.

“The workplace is changing for dads too in terms of how dads participate now in changing diapers, child care, coaching teams,” a senior administration official said last week.

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Chief Economist Jason Furman, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and others also will relay their experiences, the official said.

We suspect Murphy won’t be invited back any time soon and he should expect life to become miserable.

“I disagree with his lifestyle,” Murphy said. “I do disagree with the fact that Billy is a homosexual. That doesn’t mean I can’t still invest in him and get to know him. I don’t think the fact that someone is a homosexual should completely shut the door on investing in them in a relational aspect. Getting to know him. That, I would say, you can still accept them but I do disagree with the lifestyle, 100 percent.”

Such an opinion won’t go over well with the leftists stormtroopers.

“We love the people. We disagree the lifestyle. That’s the way I would describe it for me. It’s the same way that there are aspects of my life that I’m trying to surrender to Christ in my own life. There’s a great deal of many things, like my pride. I just think that as a believer trying to articulate it in a way that says just because I disagree with the lifestyle doesn’t mean I’m just never going to speak to Billy Bean every time he walks through the door. That’s not love. That’s not love at all.”

And cue the outrage:

There are certainly notes in Murphy’s comments which suggest compassion and which clearly reveal that his feelings are not that of a stereotypical homophobe. Murphy is certainly not going to bash Bean or hurl any epithets at the guy. But there is no escaping the fact that that the terms in which he couches his feelings about all of this are representative of the sort of mindset, whether it’s based in his own Christianity or, coming from another person might be based in something else, which has led to the discrimination, hate and marginalization of homosexuals throughout history.

“Disagreeing” with Bean or anyone else’s homosexuality is nonsensical. It’s not an opinion. It’s not a philosophy, political position, choice or a world view. It’s a fact. It’s part of who Bean is as a person. To say one “disagrees” with Bean’s homosexuality is no more coherent than saying one “disagrees” with Murphy’s left-handedness. Or with Murphy’s heterosexuality for that matter. Who would ever say they “disagreed” with Murphy’s heterosexuality? What would we think of a person who said that?

Only certain opinions are approved of these days. Questioning the gay lifestyle sure isn’t one of them. In fact, we surmise his opinions will gain more attention than ISIS hurling gay men off buildings.

Good luck, Mr. Murphy.

Global Warming Nonsense of the Day: ‘Understanding grief can help us adapt to climate change’ [Jammie Wearing Fools]

The other day we figured this was the dumbest “climate change” story of the week.

By now, it’s pretty clear that we’re starting to see visible manifestations of climate change beyond far-off melting ice sheets. One of the most terrifying implications is the increasingly real threat of wars sparked in part by global warming. New evidence says that Syria may be one of the first such conflicts.

We know the basic story in Syria by now: From 2006-2010, an unprecedented drought forced the country from a groundwater-intensive breadbasket of the region to a net food importer. Farmers abandoned their homes—school enrollment in some areas plummeted 80 percent—and flooded Syria’s cities, which were already struggling to sustain an influx of more than 1 million refugees from the conflict in neighboring Iraq. The Syrian government largely ignored these warning signs, helping sow discontent that ultimately spawned violent protests. The link from drought to war was prominently featured in a Showtime documentary last year. A preventable drought-triggered humanitarian crisis sparked the 2011 civil war, and eventually, ISIS.

That brought heaps of scorn and ridicule upon Slate, all deserved. But it’s still midweek, so there’s time to top that idiocy.

In a normal and healthy grieving process, individuals move through the process of grief and continue with their lives. How well a person copes during this process depends on their experience, context and external circumstances.

For instance, at the New South Wales Coastal Conference in 2012, one local government participant told us they had found that the community accepted and believed that climate change was happening but added that “when we went to talk to them about possible relocation in the future, they got really angry”.

A few years ago I found that some people working on climate adaption did not understand these sorts of reactions from communities and businesses. This was often because they had not thought about how people might respond emotionally to the information they were sharing.

Clive Hamilton discusses some of these responses in a 2009 paper, and in his 2010 book Requiem for a Species where he proposed that denial, maladaptive (bad) coping, and adaptive (good) coping were the three key psychological responses to climate change. This gives a context for understanding responses at a conceptual level.

In response, I adapted one of the best known models used for grief and loss, developed byElisabeth Kubler Ross, to give a practical context to these responses and enable better management of them. This model defines five key phases of responses to loss: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, and has been incorporated into standard change-management processes.

There are limitations to using this model as the process of climate change is not a neat bell curve which moves through phases in sequence, rather a dynamic process which can be subject to unexpected shocks.

The most unexpected shock for these blithering idiots is realizing they’ve been had by a massive hoax. Then the grieving and shock really begins. Via Tim Blair, who’s having fun with this:

Readers are invited to work through the climate grieving process by telling their stories in comments. Preferably these stories will involve jets, cars, motorcycles, mining, fracking, building, land clearing and other proven grief-recovery methods.

ISIS Savages Toss Another Gay Man Off Building [Jammie Wearing Fools]

Weird how we don’t hear a peep from the crowd who scream “homophobe” at any politician who doesn’t march in lockstep with the gay lobby.

Militants fighting for the Islamic State in Syria have thrown yet another young man to his death from a building after accusing him of being gay.

Stomach-churning photographs show a large bloodthirsty crowd gathered at the foot of a multi-storey building in the group’s de facto capital Raqqa to watch the murder of the young victim.

With the baying crowd clambering on to rooftops to get a better view of the savage scene, the blindfolded man is dragged to the roof of the tallest building in the neighbourhood by bearded militants, who use mobile phones to film him being barbarically thrown to his death.

The images were released by local activist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, who work undercover in the ISIS stronghold to expose the terror group’s atrocities.

The photographs carry the distinctive yellow logo of ISIS’ propaganda wing Al Hayat Media Centre, suggesting they come from an as-yet unreleased video of the savage murder.

The photographs shows a huge crowd gathering at the foot of a run-down building in the west of the city, which ISIS captured in early 2014 amid the ongoing chaos of the Syrian Civil War.

So many people are seen in the streets to watch the man being thrown to his death that vehicles are unable to pass along the streets, although it appears the militants have erected metal railings to keep the crowds in line, giving a chilling sense of order to the savagery.

The blindfolded victim – who is understood to be in his 20s – is seen being dragged to the top of the building by three black-masked militants while two armed but undisguised fighters stand at their side using mobile phones to film the gruesome murder.

The next image shows the man plunging to his death, falling face first from behind a white metal railing towards the ground several stories below.

Remember, however, they have nothing to do with Islam or something.

President-in-Waiting Clinton Ran Her Own ‘Highly Unusual’ Private Email System for Official Business [Jammie Wearing Fools]

Shockingly, the media has actually carried this story into a second day. By now we figured the Clintonistas would be calling it old news.

The computer server that transmitted and received Hillary Clinton’s emails — on a private account she used exclusively for official business when she was secretary of state — traced back to an Internet service registered to her family’s home in Chappaqua, New York, according to Internet records reviewed by The Associated Press.

The highly unusual practice of a Cabinet-level official physically running her own email would have given Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, impressive control over limiting access to her message archives. It also would distinguish Clinton’s secretive email practices as far more sophisticated than some politicians, including Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, who were caught conducting official business using free email services operated by Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc.

Most Internet users rely on professional outside companies, such as Google Inc. or their own employers, for the behind-the-scenes complexities of managing their email communications. Government employees generally use servers run by federal agencies where they work.

In most cases, individuals who operate their own email servers are technical experts or users so concerned about issues of privacy and surveillance they take matters into their own hands. It was not immediately clear exactly where Clinton ran that computer system.

Clinton has not described her motivation for using a private email account — hdr22@clintonemail.com, which traced back to her own private email server registered under an apparent pseudonym — for official State Department business.

Motivation? How about hiding incriminating or dubious activities? And yes, it gets even more suspicious:

Operating her own server would have afforded Clinton additional legal opportunities to block government or private subpoenas in criminal, administrative or civil cases because her lawyers could object in court before being forced to turn over any emails. And since the Secret Service was guarding Clinton’s home, an email server there would have been well protected from theft or a physical hacking.

But homemade email servers are generally not as reliable, secure from hackers or protected from fires or floods as those in commercial data centers. Those professional facilities provide monitoring for viruses or hacking attempts, regulated temperatures, off-site backups, generators in case of power outages, fire-suppression systems and redundant communications lines.

A spokesman for Clinton did not respond to requests seeking comment from the AP on Tuesday. Clinton ignored the issue during a speech Tuesday night at the 30th anniversary gala of EMILY’s List, which works to elect Democratic women who support abortion rights.

It was unclear whom Clinton hired to set up or maintain her private email server, which the AP traced to a mysterious identity, Eric Hoteham. That name does not appear in public records databases, campaign contribution records or Internet background searches. Hoteham was listed as the customer at Clinton’s $1.7 million home on Old House Lane in Chappaqua in records registering the Internet address for her email server since August 2010.

The Hoteham personality also is associated with a separate email server, presidentclinton.com, and a non-functioning website, wjcoffice.com, all linked to the same residential Internet account as Mrs. Clinton’s email server. The former president’s full name is William Jefferson Clinton.

We’re sure the rest of the media will be all over the identity of the mysterious Mr. Hoteham.

Options on Iran; Our Abysmal Schools; Advancing Computer Technology; How Long Have We Known of the Color Blue? [Chaos Manor - Jerry Pournelle]


Chaos Manor View, Tuesday, March 03, 2015


Slow day. The physical therapist was here today. I had to tell her about the fall yesterday, and she looked at the places where I have pains, called them sprains, and came up with tortures which made them better, but they are still sore.

Took Roberta out for dinner. Well, sort of. Went to Tony’s, a neighborhood Mexican place we both like, no tablecloths, unlimited quantities of pico de gallo, and everyone friendly. I’ve been to Hugo’s and a pizza place, since the stroke, but this was the first time since that we’ve been to Tony’s..Hasn’t changed.


Nothing unexpected in Netanyahu’s speech to Congress today. The President made a point of telling the world that he didn’t watch it, but he didn’t like it and there were no viable alternatives in it. All of which is true. There no viable alternatives we don’t know about, and none of them looks good. Over time the alternatives grew fewer and fewer – inevitably – and the ones remaining got more unpleasant and therefore less viable. One of the few remaining ways to stop Iran’s nuclear capability now is with massive military force on the order of the Iraq invasion, and this President isn’t going to do that. Another possibility is massive Israeli airstrikes against all of Iran’s nuclear facilities, and that probably isn’t enough; it might take nuclear weapons, and Israel would hand anti-Semites everything they ever wanted if they did that. Joint Israeli-NATO air strikes might do it, but it would not be quick, and likely would need ground ops as well.

Massive economic warfare has a very low probability of success. It is too late for that. We have delayed far too long; can we now live with an Iran that has nuclear weapons? We’d better learn how. Mr. Obama may delay that day until after the next inauguration, but not much longer.

If there are other alternatives, I would much appreciate hearing them. What won’t work is friendliness. I wish it would.



U.S. millennials post ‘abysmal’ scores in tech skills test, lag behind foreign peers (WP)

By Todd C. Frankel March 2 at 10:21 AM

There was this test. And it was daunting. It was like the SAT or ACT — which many American millennials are no doubt familiar with, as they are on track to be the best educated generation in history — except this test was not about getting into college. This exam, given in 23 countries, assessed the thinking abilities and workplace skills of adults. It focused on literacy, math and technological problem-solving. The goal was to figure out how prepared people are to work in a complex, modern society.

And U.S. millennials performed horribly.

That might even be an understatement, given the extent of the American shortcomings. No matter how you sliced the data – by class, by race, by education – young Americans were laggards compared to their international peers. In every subject, U.S. millennials ranked at the bottom or very close to it, according to a new study by testing company ETS.

“We were taken aback,” said ETS researcher Anita Sands. “We tend to think millennials are really savvy in this area. But that’s not what we are seeing.”

The test is called the PIAAC test. It was developed by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, better known as the OECD. The test was meant to assess adult skill levels. It was administered worldwide to people ages 16 to 65. The results came out two years ago and barely caused a ripple. But recently ETS went back and delved into the data to look at how  millennials did as a group. After all, they’re the future – and, in America, they’re poised to claim the title of largest generation from the baby boomers.

U.S. millennials, defined as people 16 to 34 years old, were supposed to be different. They’re digital natives. They get it. High achievement is part of their makeup. But the ETS study found signs of trouble, with its authors warning that the nation was at a crossroads: “We can decide to accept the current levels of mediocrity and inequality or we can decide to address the skills challenge head on.”

The challenge is that, in literacy, U.S. millennials scored higher than only three countries.

In math, Americans ranked last.

In technical problem-saving, they were second from the bottom.

“Abysmal,” noted ETS researcher Madeline Goodman. “There was just no place where we performed well.”

But surely America’s brightest were on top?

Nope. U.S. millennials with master’s degrees and doctorates did better than their peers in only three countries, Ireland, Poland and Spain. Those in Finland, Sweden and Japan seemed to be on a different planet.

Top-scoring U.S. millennials – the 90th percentile on the PIAAC test – were at the bottom internationally, ranking higher only than their peers in Spain. The bottom percentile (10th percentile) also lagged behind their peers. And the gap between America’s best and worst was greater than the gap in 14 other countries. This, the study authors said, signaled America’s high degree of inequality.

The study called into question America’s educational credentialing system. While few American test-takers lacked a high school degree, the United States didn’t perform any better than countries with relatively high rates of failing to finish high school. And our college graduates didn’t perform well, either.

There is a lot more, but you get the idea. Our high schools are awful. And now the rot has spread to many of our colleges. We have sown the wind for decades; we now reap.

There is much we could do, but we will not do it. We will continue to mandate programs from the District of Columbia with its terrible schools, imposing new theories on Podunk, Iowa and East Misery, Missouri. We will continue to act as if anyone believes that the solution is more money. And the schools will get worse.

Alas Babylon.


Subject: Could IBM’s brain-inspired chip change the way computers are built? (WP)


Could IBM’s brain-inspired chip change the way computers are built? (WP)

By Amrita Jayakumar March 2 at 7:00 AM

The human brain is a powerful supercomputer, but it consumes very little power.

The brain is also excellent at processing information efficiently — billions of neurons are deeply connected to memory areas — which gives us the ability to access the data we need to make a decision, quickly make sense of it and then resume normal operation.

That fundamental structure is what sets us apart from machines. It’s the reason we can think and feel and process millions of pieces of data in a fraction of a second every day, without our heads exploding.

Computers don’t work this way.

For decades, they’ve been built to perform calculations in a series of steps, while shuttling data between memory storage areas and processors.

That consumes a lot of power, and while computers are good at crunching huge volumes of information, they’re not so good at recognizing patterns in real time.

With funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and partnerships from national laboratories, engineers at International Business Machines created a chip last year that could imitate the structure of the human brain, in the hope that it would lead to a more efficient model of computing.

The result has the potential to transform the way computers are built in the future, according to IBM, while consuming as much power as a hearing-aid battery.

IBM’s long-term goal is to build a “brain in a box” that consumes less than 1 kilowatt of power and yet can quickly identify patterns in large data sets, said Dharmendra Modha, IBM’s chief scientist for brain-inspired computing.

Applications for this technology range from national security to disaster response. That’s why IBM’s team and scientists from Lawrence Livermore, Oak Ridge and other national laboratories took a trip to Capitol Hill last week to demonstrate the technology before lawmakers.

Devices powered by the chip could be used to perform biosecurity checks by sifting through biological samples to identify harmful agents, or power autonomous spacecraft, or monitor computer networks for strange behavior, scientists said.

IBM’s flagship supercomputer, Watson, which is built on today’s computer architecture and consumes large amounts of power, exemplifies linear calculation, Modha said.

In contrast, the chip has the ability to recognize or “sense” its environment in real time, similar to what humans do with eyes and ears.

For instance, the chip has been used to play a game of Pong by “looking” at the ball and moving the paddle to meet it.

Again there is much more. Clearly, while the average and even above average schools continue to deteriorate, there are still sources of well trained innovative development scientists.

One of my advisors comments:

Designing and scaling up the hardware is the easy part. Figuring out how to use it is difficult.

It’s been about 14 years since the first GPU with reasonably flexible programmability (NVIDIA’s GeForce 3). It didn’t take long before people started using it for general-purpose computation (I hosted a panel at the first conference on this topic— see the panel slides), but the process of co-evolution continues. Computer scientists influence the evolution of GPU programming models, and GPU designers offer new ways to build programmable hardware.

The same process has actually been underway with neural networks for five times as long, since that concept dates back to 1943. Neural networks were basically all software-based for the first several decades, but hardware entered the picture at least 20 years ago (from IBM!). Progress has been very uneven, but I have to assume that if commercial applications for simple neural networks were forthcoming, we’d have seen them by now.

IBM wants to make very complex neural networks, but I don’t know how they intend to configure them (the equivalent of “programming”), and I don’t know if any of their proposed applications are truly better served by neural networks than they might be by distributed processing (separate small CPU cores spread throughout a robot or vision sensor or whatever). Much of what makes the human brain valuable is encoded in its configuration, the way that its sensors and actuators are pre-wired into the brain’s structure. It took an awful lot of trial and error to work out these elements, and I don’t think anyone would claim the result is particularly optimal; in many ways, it’s barely functional.

Still, I don’t mind that IBM is working on this problem. It could turn out to be hugely valuable. I think it’s just too early to say.

A sentiment I tend to agree with, but we must understand that while computer power probably follows an S curve (ogive), we are on the exponential part of it, and probably can expect a thousand fold increase in computing power at least. I tend to believe in more.



3D Printing Everywhere from Lab to Factory (EE Times)

Cars, lab equipment, DIY nearly anything

R. Colin Johnson

3/1/2015 10:04 AM EST

PORTLAND, Ore. — Printers that print three-dimensional (3D) objects were invented as a way to enable kids to make cool toys for themselves. But now dozens of companies are making industrial-sized versions capable of making production quality products — such as the Local Motors car — and custom parts for laboratories that used to have be to go to the machine shop.

“The first question we ask when we conceive of new part for an experiment is if we can print it ourselves on the 3D printer,” said Alex Millet, a visiting student from Puerto Rico who works with professor Andrew Zwicker, head of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL).

According to Zwicker and Millet 3D printers have become a crucial piece of laboratory equipment, allowing them to make one-offs of practically any piece of laboratory equipment (except lenses and other glass parts). 3D printers build up layers of plastic, metal, ceramic or organic materials. The piece is merely designed using a computer aided design (CAD) program that transfers instructions to the 3D printer — telling it when and what to “extrude” to form each layer of an object — with 100-micron accuracy.

The biggest advantage — except low cost — is the speed at which experiments can be accelerated, since the 3D printer can one-off custom parts in a matter of hours — including the CAD programming time — instead of sending the plans off to a machine shop and waiting days to get the part back.

Before using the 3D printer, Zwicker’s team tested its parts for resilience to heat, pressure, stress and strength, finding them adequate for most laboratory experiments — including dielectric insulators for electrodes. Funding was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science under its Fusion Energy Sciences program.

Local Motors
Beside labs, now even mass production is being switched to 3D printing, a capability not unnoticed by Chinese manufacturers, who are investing heavily in the manufacture of 3D printers. But is China’s large, relatively inexpensive workforce working themselves out of a job by making 3D printers?

One company trying to short circuit the exploitation of cheap foreign labor is Local Motors, which is promising to open 100 microfactories to make its vehicles locally in every country where they will be sold, each customized to meet the needs of local residents.

They are also building a Mobi-Factory in the back of a semi-trailer so that vehicles can be produced in-place in remote locations that cannot support the expense of a permanent micro-factory. So far they are planning on three models, the Rally Fighter (pictured), the Racer and the Cruiser, all manufactured by the same 3D printer from different CAD files.

Local Motors U.S. factories will be introducing the Rally Fighter to the commercial market later in 2015 using the 3D printer to make both its body and chassis. The electric car will use motors and other drive train parts from Renault. The company also will allow engineers and partners — and eventually even consumers — to go online and use its CAD tools to produce customized vehicles with features that fit their particular application. Currently Local Motors has micro-factories in Phoenix, Ariz and Las Vegas, Nev. with Washington D.C. next on the list.

— R. Colin Johnson, Advanced Technology Editor, EE Times


The Color Blue

I present comments; I have no expertise in this matter ;


I need to research this some more,  but the assertion that ancient Hebrew did not have a word for the color blue may not be correct.

The third paragraph of the Shma (daily prayer starting with,  “Hear O Israel,  the Lord is our God,  the Lord is one) makes reference to tassels (called tzitzit) on the prayer shawl (called the tallit). This paragraph of the prayer is a quote from Numbers 15:37-41.  The paragraph includes a direction that the tzitzit are to include a blue thread.

This suggests at least one source dating from at least 400 BCE (and perhaps older) referring to the color blue.

Hugh Greentree 

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

I read your mail on the color blue with interest. [Yesterday] Doing some reading of my own, I find it is espousing the ‘relativist’ school of color theory. It is by no means the only one. There is a ‘universalist’ school as well, one that relies on human biology.
It is a fascinating question; can they really not see blue until they have a word for it? Then who first invented the word?   Or is it that they can see the difference but literally don’t have the language for it? If you have the words “black” and “white” but not “gray” in your dictionary?  How would you describe gray?  As lightish black?  What if you’re not given any choices and can only choose one answer, as on a multiple choice test?


Brian P.

In Exodus 24:10 (English Standard Version): “and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness.” The sapphire stone referenced is Lapis Lazuli, a very beautiful blue stone. No matter what folks may think of what happened to the Elders of Israel in this account, the significant side event is the reference to a pavement that was blue. It was noticed, it was a familiar color like unto Lapis Lazuli and this comes from antiquity. The word blue may be recent, but folks have noticed likeness for quite some time.

Chuck Fenton

Dr. Pournelle,
Perhaps the Jews learned to see Blue before the rest of the world? I don’t read Hebrew, but per Wikipedia, the description of Tzitzit comes from the book of Numbers 15:38
“Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, that they shall make themselves fringes on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and they shall put on the corner fringe a blue (tekhelet) thread.”
Also per Wikipedia Tekhelet appears ~48 times in the Tanakh, and was obtained as far back as 1400 BCE and was described as the color of turquoise. I don’t know how this fits in with “when did we begin to see blue,” but perhaps the Torah and the existence of Sanai turquoise mines need too be reconciled with the theory?


Being one of countless men stricken with red-green color “blindness,” I see blue as one of the two colors most clear (the other being yellow).

To me, there are shades of red and green which are indistinguishable from each other in natural sunlight, but which are as different as black and white under lighting of different spectra. There are shades of green which are indistinguishable from grey under natural sunlight.

Looking at an aeronautical chart, I can’t tell the difference between blue and magenta lines unless there are lines of the other color close to the one I’m looking at (in which case they are sharply different and identifiable). Due to this, my FAA medical certificate prohibits me from flying at night (when, ironically, color differences are more

apparent) or from airports which are controlled by colored lights from the control tower (in other words, “no nights and no lights”).

I’ve never seen “deep blue sea” as being blue. It’s almost black to me.

Shallow water, such as La’ie Bay, is clear with color patches in it, some of which are blue. The dark paint favored by Navy-warbird owners is definitely blue, even against the background of the “non-blue” ocean itself, while people with normal vision say that the paint and the ocean are exactly the same color. Thus, planes which are all but invisible to them are as obvious to me as if they were painted yellow!

Even when colors are seen, color vision is largely a matter of interpretation. At what point does red become pink? Why is there no equivalent of “pink” to describe an equally diluted intensity of green?

Ancient people SAW blue, but it was so pervasive that they couldn’t describe it any more than we can describe the taste of salt. They didn’t have a word for “gravity” either, but they were still fully aware of its existence! Once the Egyptians began creating blue dyes, that color needed its own definition.


Regarding Blue, Words, and Cognition.
The Russian language has two words for blue: синий (navy blue) and голубой (sky blue). An English speaker confined to the nouns would be forced to call both colors “blue.”
Does the ancient lack of a word for “blue” mean the ancients couldn’t “see” blue? Ancient Greek had no word for “velocity,” but their natural philosophers were certainly aware of change of location over time. They just couldn’t discuss it compactly.Sort of like English-speakers discussing Gemütlichkeit.

I really have no conclusions, and I am certainly not a Biblical scholar. I am mildly color blind and my father was more so.  We know that adult lactose is a fairly recent development (25,000 years or so.) I am inclined to agree with Mike Flynn, but I don’t know how recent a development is color blindness – or the lack of it.


And that is enough for tonight. My sprains are not painful but they are annoying. More tomorrow.


Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




Net Neutrality; Space Access; Run Your Car on Water?; Robots [Chaos Manor - Jerry Pournelle]


Chaos Manor, Friday, February 27, 2015


The FCC seized control of the Internet yesterday. Many cheered.

John Fund gives the political right view in NRO but they don’t permit quotes.

A Libertarian view on Net Neutrality comes from Forbes. Recall that the Interstate Commerce Commission clung to its regulatory powers long after highways and airports made most of its work irrelevant. When it was abolished few noticed. Some regulation was needed in the days when railroads were the only means of fast transport, (see The Octopus as a fictional view) but it continued long after highways and airlines which it could not regulate changed the whole transport picture. Its meeting Room with thrones for the Commissioners (who were full time regulators) became a subject of scorn. David Friedman argues persuasively that it hindered competition.

The FCC no longer has Ma Bell, as many other communications organizations emerged, but now it claims the Internet as its own. Adam Smith said ““People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.” They do this by having government make rules about entering their business…

The Forbes essay comes close to my own sentiments. It is months old.

= = = =

Am I The Only Techie Against Net Neutrality?


If you watch the news, it seems just about everyone is in favor of “Net Neutrality” legislation. Despite being a tech-addicted entrepreneur, I am not. No, I am not a paid shill for the cable industry. I am no fan of Comcast or any other ISP I’ve ever had the “pleasure” of dealing with. I’m skeptical of large corporations generally and dislike the fact that in this debate I appear to be on their side. While I have no problem with net neutrality as a principle or concept, I have serious concerns about Net Neutrality as legislation or public policy. And since a false dichotomy is being perpetuated by the media in regards to this matter, I feel an obligation to put forth a third point of view. In taking this stand, I realize I may be the only techie, if I can aspire to that label, opposed to Net Neutrality and that I open myself to accusations of killing the dreams of young entrepreneurs, wrecking free speech, and destroying the Internet. Nevertheless, here are three reasons I’m against Net Neutrality legislation.

I Want More Competition

Proponents of Net Neutrality say the telecoms have too much power. I agree. Everyone seems to agree that monopolies are bad and competition is good, and just like you, I would like to see more competition. But if monopolies are bad, why should we trust the U.S. government, the largest, most powerful monopoly in the world? We’re talking about the same organization that spent an amount equal to Facebook’s first six years of operating costs to build a health care website that doesn’t work, the same organization that can’t keep the country’s bridges from falling down, and the same organization that spends 320 times what private industry spends to send a rocket into space. Think of an industry that has major problems. Public schools? Health care? How about higher education, student loans, housing, banking, physical infrastructure, immigration, the space program, the military, the police, or the post office? What do all these industries and/or organizations have in common? They are all heavily regulated or controlled by the government. On the other hand we see that where deregulation has occurred, innovation has bloomed, such as with telephony services. Do you think we’d all be walking around with smartphones today if the government still ran the phone system?

The U.S. government has shown time after time that it is ineffective at managing much of anything. This is by design. The Founders intentionally created a government that was slow, inefficient, and plagued by gridlock, because they knew the greatest danger to individual freedom came from a government that could move quickly–too quickly for the people to react in time to protect themselves. If we value our freedom, we need government to be slow. But if government is slow, we shouldn’t rely on it to provide us with products and services we want in a timely manner at a high level of quality. The telecoms may be bad, but everything that makes them bad is what the government is by definition. Can we put “bad” and “worse” together and end up with “better”?

I don’t like how much power the telecoms have. But the reason they’re big and powerful isn’t because there is a lack of government regulation, but because of it. Government regulations are written by large corporate interests which collude with officials in government. The image of government being full of people on a mission to protect the little guy from predatory corporate behemoths is an illusion fostered by politicians and corporate interests alike. Many, if not most, government regulations are the product of crony capitalism designed to prevent small entrepreneurs from becoming real threats to large corporations. If Net Neutrality comes to pass how can we trust it will not be written in a way that will make it harder for new companies to offer Internet services? If anything, we’re likely to end up even more beholden to the large telecoms than before. Of course at this point the politicians will tell us if they hadn’t stepped in that things would be even worse.

If the telecoms are forced to compete in a truly free market, Comcast and Time Warner won’t exist 10 years from now. They’ll be replaced by options that give us better service at a lower price. Some of these new options may depend on being able to take advantage of the very freedom to charge more for certain types of Internet traffic that Net Neutrality seeks to eliminate. If we want to break up the large telecoms through increased competition we need to eliminate regulations that act as barriers to entry in the space, rather than create more of them.

I Want More Privacy

Free speech cannot exist without privacy, and the U.S. government has been shown to be unworthy of guarding the privacy of its citizens. Only the latest revelation of many, Glenn Greenwald’s new book No Place To Hide reveals that the U.S. government tampers with Internet routers during the manufacturing process to aid it’s spying programs. Is this the organization we trust to take even more control of the Internet? Should we believe that under Net Neutrality the government will trust the telecoms to police themselves? The government will need to verify, at a technical level, whether the telecoms are treating data as they should. Don’t be surprised if that means the government says it needs to be able to install its own hardware and software at critical points to monitor Internet traffic. Once installed, can we trust this government, or any government, to use that access in a benign manner?

While privacy and freedom of speech may not be foremost on your mind today because you like who is running the government right now, remember that government control tends to swing back and forth. How will you feel about the government having increased control of the Internet when Republicans own the House and Senate and Jeb Bush is elected President, all at the same time?

I Want More Freedom

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. – James Madison, The Federalist No. 51

Many of us see the U.S. government as a benevolent and all-knowing parent with the best interests of you and me, its children, at heart. I see the U.S. government as a dangerous tyrant, influenced by large corporate interests, seeking to control everyone and everything. Perhaps these diverging perspectives on the nature of the U.S. government are what account for a majority of the debate between proponents and opponents of Net Neutrality. If I believed the U.S. government was omniscient, had only good intentions, and that those intentions would never change, I would be in favor of Net Neutrality and more. But it wasn’t all that long ago that FDR was locking up U.S. citizens of Japanese ancestry in concentration camps and Woodrow Wilson was outlawing political dissent. More recently we’ve seen the U.S. government fight unjust wars, topple elected democracies, and otherwise interfere in world affairs. We’ve seen the same government execute its own citizens in violation of Fifth Amendment rights guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution. Simply put–I don’t trust the U.S. government. Nor do I trust any other government, even if “my team” wins the election. I see any increase in regulation, however well-intentioned, however beneficial to me today, as leading to less freedom for me and society in the long term. For this reason those who rose up against SOPA and PIPA a few years ago should be equally opposed to Net Neutrality.

What Instead?

Internet bandwidth is, at least currently, a finite resource and has to be allocated somehow. We can let politicians decide, or we can let you and me decide by leaving it up to the free market. If we choose politicians, we will see the Internet become another mismanaged public monopoly, subject to political whims and increased scrutiny from our friends at the NSA. If we leave it up to the free market we will, in time, receive more of what we want at a lower price. It may not be a perfect process, but it will be better than the alternative.

Free markets deal exceptionally well in the process of “creative destruction” economist Joseph Schumpeter championed as the mode by which society raises its standard of living. Although any progress is not without its impediments and free markets aren’t an instant panacea, even U2’s Bono embraced the fact entrepreneurial capitalism does more to eradicate poverty than foreign aid. Especially in the area of technology, government regulation has little, if any place. Governments cannot move fast enough to effectively regulate technology companies because by the time they move, the technology has changed and the debate is irrelevant. Does anyone remember the antitrust cases against Microsoft because of the Internet Explorer browser? The worse services provided by the large telecoms are, the more incentive there will be for entrepreneurs to create new technologies. Five years from now a new satellite technology may emerge that makes fiber obsolete, and we’ll all be getting wireless terabit downloads from space directly to our smartphones, anywhere in the world, for $5/month. Unrealistic? Just think what someone would have said in 1994 if you had tried to explain to them everything you can do today on an iPhone, and at what price.

Update 6 February, 2015: Today, it was revealed by FCC commissioner Ajit Pai that the proposed Net Neutrality plan the FCC is considering is 332 pages long. It will not be released to the public until after the FCC has voted. Pai claims this regulation will give “the FCC the power to micromanage virtually every aspect of how the Internet works.”

The one certainty is that it will be years in courts, and will enrich many law firms.


A year or two ago I read about a technique for using aluminum, wetted with a room-temp liquid metal, sitting in a tank of water. I forget which metal they used, other than it not being mercury.

Aluminum is unique in that it’s very unstable, instantly oxidizing, but, very *stable* because the oxide layer is incredibly durable. This is why it’s so difficult to solder.

By wetting it with the layer of liquid metal, it’s unable to form its oxide layer. Instead, the oxide is shed into the water, as it combines with the “O” from the H2O, liberating the H2, which can then be used to drive a fuel cell, or, an internal combustion engine.

Because the hydrogen is stored in water, which is on par with the stability of the aluminum block, the supply can be stopped by lifting the block out of the water, creating an on-demand hydrogen system, obviating entirely the question of storage. (When the aluminum block is fully converted to a pile of aluminum oxide, it can be quickly replaced

– “five minutes” not being an unreasonable guess — and the oxide returned to the “fuel refinery” to be reduced to metallic aluminum (with the oxygen byproduct utilized to help improve the efficiency of the process).

I wonder if Toyota is using something like this? If so (and even if not

so!) I have to wonder why they’re going the fuel cell route rather than simply piping it to one of their engines. If I were a betting man, my money would be on politics rather than technology. It’s hard to conceive of a hydrogen/fuel cell/electric motor system having higher efficiency than a hydrogen/engine system. (In either case, the “exhaust” would be the same: water.)


I remarked that efficient and reliable energy storage would change the world. I got this reply:

Yup. For some, a change for the better; for others, a change for the worse (I’d hate to be deeply vested in an oil refinery if cheap water-to-hydrogen becomes practical.)

As an aside, I have to wonder if those tales of “The inventor who created a pill that let him drive his car on water” were more of a practical joke than “invention.”

I can easily see some wag rigging his car with a pile of aluminum shavings, wetted with mercury, and placed in his empty fuel tank — a tank rigged so that the fuel line was at the *top* of the tank rather than the bottom. When the witnesses verified that the tank was “empty”

(no liquid), and that the water was indeed water, he would pour the water into the tank, and then, with great fanfare, drop his “invention”

into the tank (in reality, an aspirin), and then wait a few minutes, then start up his car and drive it, to the amazement of the spectators.

Assuming that any of the apocryphal tales are true, it was inevitable that nothing would come of them, since the premise — a Magic Tablet — was pure hokum.

I know of no reports of progress in making fuel out of water without putting in a great deal of energy, It makes for great science fantasy though. And really efficient batteries would do wonders. But my experience with hydrogen is that it really wants to be free.





Pete Worden is leaving NASA at end of March. Readers of NEO News will remember that Pete has been a consistent supporter of NEA studies and planetary defense, in the Air Force where he rose to the rank of Brigadier General, in several policy related positions in Washington, and for the past nine years as Director of NASA Ames Research Center (and my boss).

In the early 1990s Pete invited several of us (including Gene Shoemaker) to visit Falcon Air Force Base and discuss the observations of bolides being made by surveillance satellites, and he organized one of the first meetings on planetary defense in Erice, Sicily. This meeting included astronomers who were calling for the Spaceguard Survey, Edward Teller and others from the nuclear establishment who favored experimenting with nuclear deflection, and a few representatives of the public including Lori Garver (later NASA Deputy Administrator) and Bob Parks (long-time writer of the weekly blog What’s New for the American Physical Society). Pete basically locked us all up for a week in a monastery until we agreed on a joint statement about the NEA impact hazard and planetary defense.

Back when II was active in politics, Then Col. Pete Worden was my (and General Graham’s) candidate to head a big X-project. We had some chance of success, but politics got in the way. Alas.


Henry Vanderbilt’s space conferences are among the best gatherings of this sort you can possibly attend. An announcement:

The announcement is that we (finally!) have a site nailed down for our next Space Access conference – Thursday April 30th through Saturday May 2nd, at the Radisson Hotel Phoenix North, three intensive days on the technology, business, and politics of radically cheaper space transportation.

Full conference info is at

http://space-access.org/updates/sa15info.html. (I’ll attach a copy

also.) We should have first-pass agenda details up in a week or so – as usual we’re putting this all together on a just-in-time basis, and the agenda will evolve (and improve) right up through the conference.

Henry Vanderbilt

SA’15 Conference Manager

I keep hoping I will be up to going.


Will robots reduce the demand for labor? I am perhaps skeptical. Consider that in the 1980’s Apple computers were assembled in highly automated factories in the United States – now they are assembled by hand in Asia by armies of workers jammed into shacks like battery hens using jewelers screwdrivers. Your clothes were sewed by hand, your fruits were picked by hand¦ If wages are down it’s not because of automation, but the population explosion and all that cheap third-world labor. I mean, if robots are making human labor obsolete, why are the rich in the United States so adamant that they simply must have immigration to expand the size of the labor force? Answer: it is supply and demand, not automation, that drives down wages.
Sure, there are processes like making nails or weaving simple textiles where machines are so efficient that no matter how cheap labor gets nobody will ever use human labor again. There are also some processes, like precision welding, where machines are simply more repeatable and precise. But for many other tasks, in Bangladesh you can get a human for 50 cents an hour, with no up-front capital costs, no maintenance costs, no retirement costs. Simple, cheap, disposable (plenty more where they came from). Whereas a machine could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars up front, maintenance contracts for industrial machines are not cheap, and you can’t just throw away that kind of capital investment if the need for the machine goes away.
Historically automation does not cause low wages – rather, because automation is so expensive, automation is a reaction to high wages. I mean, if automation caused wages to fall we would see more robots in poor countries, and that’s not the pattern, is it?
I think the big question ultimately will be capital costs. A robot could surely be made to pick strawberries faster than any human being. But how much is it going to cost? A million dollars? Or 5000? That I think is the issue, not the theoretical ability of a robot to do human work.


I commented on this yesterday. I can only point to tasks that robots and AI do routinely that not long ago were considered peculiarly human. I would not bet heavily against the robots; and the Asian sweatshops won’t be there forever. How long before you can print a special purpose robot?


It’s still pledge week.  If you have never subscribed, this would be a good time to do it; and if you haven’t renewed in a while, right now’s a good tome to do that.


Government Food Cops Are Out to Lunch

Dietary guidelines look nothing like how people really eat. Maybe that’s why they don’t work.


Cheryl Achterberg


The classic American sandwich is about to get a radical makeover. Forget about roast beef or cold cuts. Red meats and processed meats are out. A slice of cheese is permissible, provided it is low-fat and low-sodium. Skip the chips, even if they’re baked. Dinner needs an overhaul too: Less pizza, fewer cheeseburgers and casseroles, or change their recipes to make them healthier. At mealtime, water is the preferred beverage of choice—unless you are an adult, when moderate alcohol consumption is acceptable.

That, at least, is how the modern American family should eat, according to recommendations submitted this month to the federal government by 15 experts in nutrition and health—the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Every five years the committee is formed to advise the government on how to update its Dietary Guidelines for Americans according to the latest “scientific” data. I sat on the committee in 2010.

To fulfill its task and complete its 571-page report, the committee “developed a conceptual model based on socio-ecological frameworks to guide its work.”

If government committees of experts will tell you what you ought to eat, why would you suppose experts in mental health will not tell what you ought to have available on the Internet?



After net neutrality vote, an uncertain future for the Internet (WP)

By Larry Downes February 27 at 8:00 AM

Thursday, during a rancorous meeting of the Federal Communications Commission, the agency voted 3-2 to impose public utility regulations on Internet access providers, resurrecting a 1934 law known as Title II.

According to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s comments at the meeting, this milestone decision, which undoes nearly 20 years of bipartisan “light touch” regulation for the Internet, was necessary to provide the agency with the authority it needed to pass enforceable Open Internet rules, or what is sometimes known as “net neutrality.”

Two previous efforts over the last decade were rejected by federal courts, who held that the FCC had failed to make the case that Congress had ever authorized the agency to police broadband, regardless of the agency’s best intentions.

So Wheeler decided to turn back the clock to a time when Congress had given the FCC broad power over an earlier communications technology — the monopoly phone company of the early 20th century.  Through a legal fiction the chairman referred to as “reclassification,” the Internet will be redefined as a telephone service. The agency can then regulate broadband using laws passed to oversee Ma Bell, treating it the way it does the old (and now nearly dead) copper phone network. Those laws, or some uncertain subset of them, will now apply to the Internet.

The Iron Law at work. It needs regulating. What must we do to make that happen?



Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




Argentine president’s full-page ad discredits Nisman’s complaint [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

BUENOS AIRES (JTA) — Argentina’s president published an advertisement in eight major newspapers discrediting AMIA special prosecutor Alberto Nisman’s allegations against the government.

The advertisement published Wednesday says the complaint prepared by Nisman, who was found dead in his Buenos Aires apartment Jan. 18, is “filled with contradictions, illogical, with no legal basis.”

Headlined “Commitment, Truth and Justice,” the full-page ad defends the memorandum of understanding signed between Argentina and Iran in 2013: “It is only possible to ratify the path traced by the executive power and the national congress through the memorandum of understanding, a tool that would enable us to interrogate the Iranian citizens accused” in the 1994 AMIA bombing case.

The attack on Argentina’s leading Jewish institution killed 85 people and came two years after an attack on the Israeli embassy in Argentina.

According to the complaint of Nisman, who was Jewish and was appointed in 2004 to lead the AMIA investigation, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner covered up for former Iranian officials accused of being involved in the AMIA attack  and tried to “erase” their roles in planning the bombing.

In Wednesday’s full-page ad the government praises the decision by Federal Judge Daniel Rafecas to dismiss Nisman’s complaint against Kirchner and other officials. It also alleges that Nisman had political objectives: “Is it possible to think of a different hypothesis than (Nisman) seeking a political effect of destabilization?,” the ad says.

On Wednesday, Prosecutor Gerardo Pollicita appealed Rafecas’ decision. The case now moves to a federal court, which will determine whether or not to uphold Rafecas’ dismissal or to allow Nisman’s complaint, filed by Pollocita Feb. 13, to move forward.

Isaac Herzog hopes to speak softly and carry Israel’s election [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

Leader of the Zionist Union faction Isaac Herzog speaking to foreign press in Jerusalem, Feb. 24, 2015. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Leader of the Zionist Union faction Isaac Herzog speaking to foreign press in Jerusalem, Feb. 24, 2015. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

TEL AVIV (JTA) — Isaac Herzog paces slowly up and down the stage, one hand in his suit pocket, a slight smile forming through his slender lips.

Quietly, his heavy breath audible through the microphone, the center-left candidate for prime minister runs down a detailed a list of policy reforms, almost never changing his tone or raising his voice. Even when he builds toward an early crescendo — telling the crowd “I intend to win” — it sounds more like a policy analysis than a rallying cry.

It’s a stark contrast to his opponents in the Israeli elections later this month, and Herzog knows it. When an audience member mentions right-wing Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, who had gesticulated and grinned and filled the room with his voice during an appearance before the same forum several days earlier, Herzog cut off the question.

“And he was flamboyant and everything was simple,” Herzog said sarcastically, addressing an auditorium of English speakers Sunday night at a series called the Tel Aviv International Salon. “And he will annex 100,000 Palestinians and they will have [Israeli] IDs and they will all be loyal to the flag.”

Herzog, who leads the center-left Zionist Union slate, is the leading contender to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when Israelis go to the polls on March 17. But his campaign represents a change not just of substance, but of style.

Herzog is soft-spoken, focused on building consensus domestically and strengthening ties internationally. Netanyahu is vociferous, presenting himself as an uncompromising leader willing to stand up even to Israel’s closest allies.

“All parts of our society are simmering from within, are asking questions, are debating,” Herzog said on Sunday. “My role as a leader is to unite everyone, bring them together to a common denominator, give them a sense of purpose and hope.”

Herzog’s detractors — Netanyahu chief among them — say this tendency is a weakness. Netanyahu’s ads claim Herzog will “capitulate to terror” and question whether he’s fit to lead a country beset by threats. Herzog’s quiet demeanor may also be costing him with voters accustomed to an outspoken prime minister. Though his party has been running neck-and-neck with Netanyahu’s Likud atop the polls, a recent Times of Israel survey found that one-fifth of likely voters either had no opinion of Herzog or hadn’t even heard of him. Herzog’s nickname — the diminutive “Bougie” — doesn’t help.

“He lacks charisma,” said Eytan Gilboa, a public opinion expert and senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. “There are people who are better and worse on screen. He’s less good. He doesn’t demonstrate enough strength and charisma, so he’s taken as someone who can’t be right for this position.”

Herzog was born in 1960 to Israeli political royalty. His grandfather, Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog, was the country’s first chief rabbi, and his father, Chaim Herzog, its first president. Like Netanyahu, Herzog attended high school in the United States, graduating from New York’s Ramaz School while his father was Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations.

Classmate Shira Dicker recalled Herzog as boyish yet sophisticated, once identifying her Chanel No. 5 perfume by scent as she walked down the hallway.

“He was an aristocratic young man,” Dicker said. “He was freckle-faced and fresh-faced. Who is surprised that he ended up where he is right now? He was diplomatic in a great way. He was a natural. He was to the manner born.”

Herzog served as an officer in the elite 8200 intelligence unit and then studied law, rising to become partner at Herzog, Fox & Ne’eman, a major Tel Aviv firm founded by his father. He became cabinet secretary to Labor Prime Minister Ehud Barak in 1999, where he became embroiled in a campaign finance investigation and escaped charges by invoking his right to remain silent. He was first elected to the Knesset with Labor in 2003, and has since served as Israel’s tourism minister, welfare minister and housing minister.

After Labor’s disappointing third-place showing in the 2013 election, he won the party primary in an upset. When the current campaign began, Herzog boosted Labor’s middling poll standing by merging lists with former Justice Minister Tzipi Livni’s center-left Hatnua party to form the Zionist Union. The two leaders agreed, should they win, to each serve as prime minister for two years — a deal that, according to Herzog’s opponents, shows spinelessness.

A tough exterior has been a prerequisite for left-wing politicians to win in Israel. If he becomes prime minister, Herzog will be the first Labor candidate since 1969 to do so without first serving as defense minister or Israel Defense Forces chief of staff.

“The nation accepts Bibi’s thesis that before talking about quality of life, you talk about life — that security issues are the most important,” said Arye Mekel, a veteran Israeli diplomat and former adviser to Likud Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir. “Can a Labor man who doesn’t have an extensive security background become prime minister? That’s an interesting question.”

Several of Herzog’s colleagues, when asked, could not name a major piece of legislation he spearheaded while in the Knesset. Instead, they say, he will achieve results by finding common ground among powerful rivals.

“Herzog is the kind of guy that can work with other strong people,” said Labor lawmaker Erel Margalit, who supported Herzog’s bid to become party chairman. “That’s a trait we didn’t have in Netanyahu. He would not come to be the leader of the Labor party if he didn’t have that strength.”

Dialogue and compromise are also key to Herzog’s policies. He wants to negotiate with the Palestinians but says he would seek a regional peace conference if bilateral negotiations fail. To combat Iran’s nuclear program, he says he would work closely with the Obama administration to define red lines in American-led negotiations. He has remained vague on issues of religion and state ahead of an election that may force him to partner with religious parties.

But for Herzog, policy specifics are mostly beside the point. He has positioned himself as the anti-Netanyahu, collected and moderate under pressure. His fate will likely hinge on whether a moderate alternative is enough to inspire Israeli voters.

“We’re offering an alternative leadership of partnership,” Herzog wrote on Facebook last month. “[Netanyahu is] offering personal survival and a self-centered focus. The public isn’t stupid. In this war, we’re fighting for our home. And we’ll win.”

Obama: Netanyahu said ‘nothing new’ and offers ‘no viable alternative’ [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

(JTA) — President Barack Obama said there was “nothing new” in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress.

He also said that Netanyahu “didn’t offer any viable alternatives” to the nuclear agreement currently being discussed with Iran by the world powers, on Tuesday from the Oval Office, in a transcript released by the White House.

Obama said that he did not watch the speech since he was on a video conference when it took place, but that he “did have a chance to take a look at the transcript.”

“The Prime Minister appropriately pointed out that the bond between the United States of America is unbreakable, and on that point I thoroughly agree. He also pointed out that Iran has been a dangerous regime and continues to engage in activities that are contrary to the interests of the United States, to Israel, and to the region. And on that, we agree. He also pointed out the fact that Iran has repeatedly threatened Israel and engaged in the most venomous of anti-Semitic statements. And no one can dispute that,” Obama said.

“But on the core issue, which is how do we prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, which would make it far more dangerous and would give it scope for even greater action in the region, the Prime Minister didn’t offer any viable alternatives,” he said.

Obama pointed out that during the period of negotiations Iran has frozen its nuclear program and “rolled back some of its most dangerous highly enriched uranium, and subjected itself to the kinds of verifications and inspections that we had not previously seen.”

If no deal is signed then “Iran will immediately begin once again pursuing its nuclear program, accelerate its nuclear program, without us having any insight into what they’re doing, and without constraint,” the president said.

Obama called on Congress and Netanyahu to “wait until there’s actually a deal on the table that Iran has agreed to, at which point everybody can evaluate it; we don’t have to speculate.  And what I can guarantee is that if it’s a deal I’ve signed off on, I will be able to prove that it is the best way for us to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”

U.N. envoy calls for investigation into civilian Gaza deaths [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A United Nations envoy called for an investigation into the civilian deaths during the Israel-Gaza conflict and the implementation of the Gaza reconstruction plan.

Makarim Wibisono, who recently took over as the special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, also recommended the lifting of the blockade on Gaza, the halt of the mistreatment of Palestinian children in the custody of Israeli authorities and a halt to Israel’s policy of demolishing the homes of suspected Palestinian terrorists, as part of his report submitted this week to the Human Rights Council.

Wibisono in the recommendations section of the report called on Israel to: “Conduct prompt, thorough, effective, independent, impartial and transparent investigations into all alleged incidents of killing of civilians during the hostilities, and make public the findings and any steps taken regarding accountability.”

“The stark disparity in casualty figures on the two sides … reflects the [skewed] balance of power and the disproportionate cost borne by Palestinian civilians, raising questions as to whether Israel adhered to the international law principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions,” Wibisono said in the report.

The report does not mention the tunnels dug by Hamas from Gaza to Israel, to be used for terror attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers, nor does it address Hamas’ practice of taking up military positions in civilian neighborhoods. It also reports that “thousands of indiscriminate rockets were reportedly fired by Palestinian armed groups from Gaza.”
Wibisono was denied entry by Israel into Gaza to research the report. His findings were based on interviews conducted with witnesses and victims in Amman and Cairo as well as video calls with victims in the Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian Maan news agency.

According to Wibisono, 2,256 Palestinians were killed during the July-August conflict, of whom 1,563 were civilians including 538 children, while 66 Israeli soldiers and five civilians died.

“Voices from across the Occupied Palestinian Territory called in unison for accountability, an end to the blockade and an end to the occupation. If another round of deadly violence is to be avoided, the underlying problems perpetuating the conflict and the almost daily violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people must be addressed and those responsible brought to justice,” Wibisono said in his conclusions.

How Netanyahu’s speech played in Israel [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

Israeli shopkeepers watch Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress, on a television, Jerusalem, March 3, 2015. (Danielle Shitrit/Flash90)

Israeli shopkeepers watch Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress, on a television, Jerusalem, March 3, 2015. (Danielle Shitrit/Flash90)

In America, pundits and politicians are wondering what Netanyahu’s speech will mean for the next few months, years, even decades of U.S.-Israel and U.S.-Iranian relations.

In Israel, everyone is focused on the next two weeks.

Since the speech was announced in January, Netanyahu’s critics have accused him of using the U.S. Capitol stage to boost his polls ahead of Israel’s March 17 election. Supporters say his only intention is to defend his country from a looming threat.And in Israel, where there isn’t much political debate on the need to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon, reactions to the speech all addressed one question: What does this mean for the ballot box?

“There’s no doubt that the pictures of Congress giving a standing ovation can have a positive influence on the voters,” said Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. “Israelis understand that the criticism of him was political. Israelis understand that Israel-U.S. relations are strong.”

In Israel’s newspapers, responses to the speech, as always, fell along ideological lines. At the pro-Netanyahu daily Israel Hayom, Boaz Bismuth, under the headline “The speech of a historic moment,” wrote that Netanyahu succeeded in transcending politics, as “There are moments in which a leader does what he does not for votes, but for the children … There are moments in history that a leader makes happen.”

Elsewhere, pundits were more skeptical of the prime minister’s goals. Nahum Barnea, a staunch Netanyahu critic at Yediot Aharonot, wrote that Netanyahu created “a golden opportunity to leave an impression on voters in Israel, and used it to the fullest.”

Netanyahu has been emphasizing the Iranian threat throughout the campaign, despite polls showing that voters care more about economics this time around. Oded Eran, a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies, said in light of that, Netanyahu’s speech won’t influence the polls, as “there are problems of housing and cost of living and health care, and he didn’t change anything in this respect.”

But at the left-wing Haaretz, Yossi Verter wrote that refocusing the campaign was the speech’s key success. Now, Israelis will all be talking about Netanyahu’s marquee issue: Iran.

“It’s too early to say whether Bibi’s appearance on Capitol Hill two weeks before the election will stanch his Likud party’s steady decline in the polls and leave him in office for another term,” Verter wrote. “What’s certain is that this week will be dominated by the issue Netanyahu and his campaign staff want to highlight: security, security, security.”

Israel tells Argentina that it is responsible for embassy bombing investigation [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

BUENOS AIRES (JTA) — Israel told Argentina’s president that her country is responsible for investigating a 1992 attack on its embassy in Buenos Aires.

The statement from Israel’s embassy in the Argentine capital came in response to an accusation made earlier in the week by Argentina’s President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner, who rebuked Israel for not working to bring the perpetrators of the 1992 bombing of its embassy in Buenos Aires to justice.

“Why is Israel not an appellant in the case of the Israeli Embassy bombing attack?” the president asked during a televised address to the nation.

The Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires said in a statement emailed to reporters on Tuesday that “as international treaties state, the safety of all diplomatic delegations is the responsibility of the recipient country. It is Argentina’s responsibility to investigate the attack perpetrated against the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires. During the last 23 years, Israel has supported the continuity of actions aimed at taking the responsible to trial.”

“That goal undoubtedly expresses the will of both nations,” said the statement.

The statement also expresses concern about the Jewish community and the Israeli interest in the 1994 AMIA Jewish center bombing case.

“Finally, the State of Israel again states its concern for the welfare of Jewish communities, especially in the wake of countless anti-Semitic manifestations that happen in the world. Therefore, Israel will continue to express the importance of continuing research on the attack that occurred against the AMIA,” the statement said.

Also on Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mentioned the two bombings in Buenos Aires during his address to a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress, when he said that Iran “blew up the Jewish community center and the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires.”

On Sunday, in a nearly four-hour televised address, Argentina’s president sent a message to the “internal and external actors that used the AMIA case for their own interests,” demanding that they not use Argentina as a “chess theater of geopolitical situations not related to us.”


Library Opens Applications for Teacher-in-Residence [Library of Congress: News]

The Library of Congress is seeking applications from current K-12 teachers or library/media specialists for two Teacher-in-Residence positions within its Educational Outreach division during the 2015-16 school year: Deadline April 7.

Smart things powered by snappy Ubuntu Core on ARM and x86 [Mark Shuttleworth]

“Smart, connected things” are redefining our home, work and play, with brilliant innovation built on standard processors that have shrunk in power and price to the point where it makes sense to turn almost every “thing” into a smart thing. I’m inspired by the inventors and innovators who are creating incredible machines – from robots that might clean or move things around the house, to drones that follow us at play, to smarter homes which use energy more efficiently or more insightful security systems. Prooving the power of open source to unleash innovation, most of this stuff runs on Linux – but it’s a hugely fragmented and insecure kind of Linux. Every device has custom “firmware” that lumps together the OS and drivers and devices-specific software, and that firmware is almost never updated. So let’s fix that!

Ubuntu is right at the heart of the “internet thing” revolution, and so we are in a good position to raise the bar for security and consistency across the whole ecosystem. Ubuntu is already pervasive on devices – you’ve probably seen lots of “Ubuntu in the wild” stories, from self-driving cars to space programs and robots and the occasional airport display. I’m excited that we can help underpin the next wave of innovation while also thoughtful about the responsibility that entails. So today we’re launching snappy Ubuntu Core on a wide range of boards, chips and chipsets, because the snappy system and Ubuntu Core are perfect for distributed, connected devices that need security updates for the OS and applications but also need to be completely reliable and self-healing. Snappy is much better than package dependencies for robust, distributed devices.

Transactional updates. App store. A huge range of hardware. Branding for device manufacturers.

In this release of Ubuntu Core we’ve added a hardware abstraction layer where platform-specific kernels live. We’re working commercially with the major silicon providers to guarantee free updates to every device built on their chips and boards. We’ve added a web device manager (“webdm”) that handles first-boot and app store access through the web consistently on every device. And we’ve preserved perfect compatibility with the snappy images of Ubuntu Core available on every major cloud today. So you can start your kickstarter project with a VM on your favourite cloud and pick your processor when you’re ready to finalise the device.

If you are an inventor or a developer of apps that might run on devices, then Ubuntu Core is for you. We’re launching it with a wide range of partners on a huge range of devices. From the pervasive Beaglebone Black to the $35 Odroid-C1 (1Ghz processor, 1 GB RAM), all the way up to the biggest Xeon servers, snappy Ubuntu Core gives you a crisp, ultra-reliable base platform, with all the goodness of Ubuntu at your fingertips and total control over the way you deliver your app to your users and devices. With an app store (well, a “snapp” store) built in and access to the amazing work of thousands of communities collaborating on Github and other forums, with code for robotics and autopilots and a million other things instantly accessible, I can’t wait to see what people build.

I for one welcome the ability to install AI on my next camera-toting drone, and am glad to be able to do it in a way that will get patched automatically with fixes for future heartbleeds!

Fixing the internet for confidentiality and security [Mark Shuttleworth]

“The Internet sees censorship as damage and routes around it” was a very motivating tagline during my early forays into the internet. Having grown up in Apartheid-era South Africa, where government control suppressed the free flow of ideas and information, I was inspired by the idea of connecting with people all over the world to explore the cutting edge of science and technology. Today, people connect with peers and fellow explorers all over the world not just for science but also for arts, culture, friendship, relationships and more. The Internet is the glue that is turning us into a super-organism, for better or worse. And yes, there are dark sides to that easy exchange – internet comments alone will make you cry. But we should remember that the brain is smart even if individual brain cells are dumb, and negative, nasty elements on the Internet are just part of a healthy whole. There’s no Department of Morals I would trust to weed ‘em out or protect me or mine from them.

Today, the pendulum is swinging back to government control of speech, most notably on the net. First, it became clear that total surveillance is the norm even amongst Western democratic governments (the “total information act” reborn).  Now we hear the UK government wants to be able to ban organisations without any evidence of involvement in illegal activities because they might “poison young minds”. Well, nonsense. Frustrated young minds will go off to Syria precisely BECAUSE they feel their avenues for discourse and debate are being shut down by an unfair and unrepresentative government – you couldn’t ask for a more compelling motivation for the next generation of home-grown anti-Western jihadists than to clamp down on discussion without recourse to due process. And yet, at the same time this is happening in the UK, protesters in Hong Kong are moving to peer-to-peer mechanisms to organise their protests precisely because of central control of the flow of information.

One of the reasons I picked the certificate and security business back in the 1990’s was because I wanted to be part of letting people communicate privately and securely, for business and pleasure. I’m saddened now at the extent to which the promise of that security has been undermined by state pressure and bad actors in the business of trust.

So I think it’s time that those of us who invest time, effort and money in the underpinnings of technology focus attention on the defensibility of the core freedoms at the heart of the internet.

There are many efforts to fix this under way. The IETF is slowly become more conscious of the ways in which ideals can be undermined and the central role it can play in setting standards which are robust in the face of such inevitable pressure. But we can do more, and I’m writing now to invite applications for Fellowships at the Shuttleworth Foundation by leaders that are focused on these problems. TSF already has Fellows working on privacy in personal communications; we are interested in generalising that to the foundations of all communications. We already have a range of applications in this regard, I would welcome more. And I’d like to call attention to the Edgenet effort (distributing network capabilities, based on zero-mq) which is holding a sprint in Brussels October 30-31.

20 years ago, “Clipper” (a proposed mandatory US government back door, supported by the NSA) died on the vine thanks to a concerted effort by industry to show the risks inherent to such schemes. For two decades we’ve had the tide on the side of those who believe it’s more important for individuals and companies to be able to protect information than it is for security agencies to be able to monitor it. I’m glad that today, you are more likely to get into trouble if you don’t encrypt sensitive information in transit on your laptop than if you do. I believe that’s the right side to fight for and the right side for all of our security in the long term, too. But with mandatory back doors back on the table we can take nothing for granted – regulatory regimes can and do change, as often for the worse as for the better. If you care about these issues, please take action of one form or another.

Law enforcement is important. There are huge dividends to a society in which people to make long term plans, which depends on their confidence in security and safety as much as their confidence in economic fairness and opportunity. But the agencies in whom we place this authority are human and tend over time, like any institution, to be more forceful in defending their own existence and privileges than they are in providing for the needs of others. There has never been an institution in history which has managed to avoid this cycle. For that reason, it’s important to ensure that law enforcement is done by due process; there are no short cuts which will not be abused sooner rather than later. Checks and balances are more important than knee-jerk responses to the last attack. Every society, even today’s modern Western society, is prone to abusive governance. We should fear our own darknesses more than we fear others.

A fair society is one where laws are clear and crimes are punished in a way that is deemed fair. It is not one where thinking about crime is criminal, or one where talking about things that are unpalatable is criminal, or one where everybody is notionally protected from the arbitrary and the capricious. Over the past 20 years life has become safer, not more risky, for people living in an Internet-connected West. That’s no thanks to the listeners; it’s thanks to living in a period when the youth (the source of most trouble in the world) feel they have access to opportunity and ideas on a world-wide basis. We are pretty much certain to have hard challenges ahead in that regard. So for all the scaremongering about Chinese cyber-espionage and Russian cyber-warfare and criminal activity in darknets, we are better off keeping the Internet as a free-flowing and confidential medium than we are entrusting an agency with the job of monitoring us for inappropriate and dangerous ideas. And that’s something we’ll have to work for.

What Western media and polititians fail to mention about Iraq and Ukraine [Mark Shuttleworth]

Be careful of headlines, they appeal to our sense of the obvious and the familiar, they entrench rather than challenge established stereotypes and memes. What one doesn’t read about every day is usually more interesting than what’s in the headlines. And in the current round of global unease, what’s not being said – what we’ve failed to admit about our Western selves and our local allies – is central to the problems at hand.

Both Iraq and Ukraine, under Western tutelage, failed to create states which welcome diversity. Both Iraq and the Ukraine aggressively marginalised significant communities, with the full knowledge and in some cases support of their Western benefactors. And in both cases, those disenfranchised communities have rallied their cause into wars of aggression.

Reading the Western media one would think it’s clear who the aggressors are in both cases: Islamic State and Russia are “obvious bad actors” who’s behaviour needs to be met with stern action. Russia clearly has no business arming rebels with guns they use irresponsibly to tragic effect, and the Islamic State are clearly “a barbaric, evil force”. If those gross simplifications, reinforced in the Western media, define our debate and discussion on the subject then we are destined pursue some painful paths with little but frustration to show for the effort, and nasty thorns that fester indefinitely. If that sounds familiar it’s because yes, this is the same thing happening all over again. In a prior generation, only a decade ago, anger and frustration at 9/11 crowded out calm deliberation and a focus on the crimes in favour of shock and awe. Today, out of a lack of insight into the root cause of Ukrainian separatism and Islamic State’s attractiveness to a growing number across the Middle East and North Africa, we are about to compound our problems by slugging our way into a fight we should understand before we join.

This is in no way to say that the behaviour of Islamic State or Russia are acceptable in modern society. They are not. But we must take responsibility for our own behaviour first and foremost; time and history are the best judges of the behaviour of others.

In the case of the Ukraine, it’s important to know how miserable it has become for native Russian speakers born and raised in the Ukraine. People who have spent their entire lives as citizens of the Ukraine who happen to speak in Russian at home, at work, in church and at social events have found themselves discriminated against by official decree from Kiev. Friends of mine with family in Odessa tell me that there have been systematic attempts to undermine and disenfranchise Russian speaking in the Ukraine. “You may not speak in your home language in this school”. “This market can only be conducted in Ukrainian, not Russian”. It’s important to appreciate that being a Russian speaker in Ukraine doesn’t necessarily mean one is not perfectly happy to be a Ukranian. It just means that the Ukraine is a diverse cultural nation and has been throughout our lifetimes. This is a classic story of discrimination. Friends of mine who grew up in parts of Greece tell a similar story about the Macedonian culture being suppressed – schools being forced to punish Macedonian language spoken on the playground.

What we need to recognise is that countries – nations – political structures – which adopt ethnic and cultural purity as a central idea, are dangerous breeding grounds for dissent, revolt and violence. It matters not if the government in question is an ally or a foe. Those lines get drawn and redrawn all the time (witness the dance currently under way to recruit Kurdish and Iranian assistance in dealing with IS, who would have thought!) based on marriages of convenience and hot button issues of the day. Turning a blind eye to thuggery and stupidity on the part of your allies is just as bad as making sure you’re hanging with the cool kids on the playground even if it happens that they are thugs and bullies –  stupid and shameful short-sightedness.

In Iraq, the government installed and propped up with US money and materials (and the occasional slap on the back from Britain) took a pointedly sectarian approach to governance. People of particular religious communities were removed from positions of authority, disqualified from leadership, hunted and imprisoned and tortured. The US knew that leading figures in their Iraqi government were behaving in this way, but chose to continue supporting the government which protected these thugs because they were “our people”. That was a terrible mistake, because it is those very communities which have morphed into Islamic State.

The modern nation states we call Iraq and the Ukraine – both with borders drawn in our modern lifetimes – are intrinsically diverse, intrinsically complex, intrinsically multi-cultural parts of the world. We should know that a failure to create governments of that diversity, for that diversity, will result in murderous resentment. And yet, now that the lines for that resentment are drawn, we are quick to choose sides, precisely the wrong position to take.

What makes this so sad is that we know better and demand better for ourselves. The UK and the US are both countries who have diversity as a central tenet of their existence. Freedom of religion, freedom of expression, the right to a career and to leadership on the basis of competence rather than race or creed are major parts of our own identity. And yet we prop up states who take precisely the opposite approach, and wonder why they fail, again and again. We came to these values through blood and pain, we hold on to these values because we know first hand how miserable and how wasteful life becomes if we let human tribalism tear our communities apart. There are doors to universities in the UK on which have hung the bodies of religious dissidents, and we will never allow that to happen again at home, yet we prop up governments for whom that is the norm.

The Irish Troubles was a war nobody could win. It was resolved through dialogue. South African terrorism in the 80’s was a war nobody could win. It was resolved through dialogue and the establishment of a state for everybody. Time and time again, “terrorism” and “barbarism” are words used to describe fractious movements by secure, distant seats of power, and in most of those cases, allowing that language to dominate our thinking leads to wars that nobody can win.

Russia made a very grave error in arming Russian-speaking Ukranian separatists. But unless the West holds Kiev to account for its governance, unless it demands an open society free of discrimination, the misery there will continue. IS will gain nothing but contempt from its demonstrations of murder – there is no glory in violence on the defenceless and the innocent – but unless the West bends its might to the establishment of societies in Syria and Iraq in which these religious groups are welcome and free to pursue their ambitions, murder will be the only outlet for their frustration. Politicians think they have a new “clean” way to exert force – drones and airstrikes without “boots on the ground”. Believe me, that’s false. Remote control warfare will come home to fester on our streets.


NHK WORLD RADIO JAPAN - English News at 21:01 (JST), March 4 [English News - NHK WORLD RADIO JAPAN]

BONUS: Leonard Nimoy Plays Not My Job [Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!]

For this week's bonus episode, we revist our 2008 interview with actor, poet, photographer, and all-around wonderful human being Leonard Nimoy. He was, and always shall be, our friend.

Floods kill 7 in PNG Highlands [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

Seven people have died in Papua New Guinea's Highlands region from floods caused by continuous heavy rains in the past several weeks.

Police arrest scores of refugees in Nauru [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

Police on Nauru have arrested scores of refugees, possibly up to a hundred, in the wake of recent protests.

Support for Fiji ratifying UN torture convention [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

Fiji appears almost certain to ratify the UN Convention Against Torture and human rights organisations are welcoming the move.

Fiji government and opposition at odds over fate of park [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

A war of words has erupted between Fiji's government and opposition over the fate of a park in Lautoka.

More than 100 refugees arrested after protests on Nauru, advocates say [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

Nauru police arrest more than 100 refugees in connection to recent protests on the Pacific island, advocates say.

Monte Cecilia Housing Trust - David Steemson [RNZ: New Zealand Society]

One of Auckland's biggest emergency housing suppliers is facing challenges to its own future. The Monte Cecilia Housing Trust says it depends on outside help for much of its income. But costs are outstripping the funding.

Are college and community radio deejays going bearish? [Radio Survivor]

Every now and again I check in with the Spinitron blog to see what kind of music is getting play on college and community radio stations. To my surprise, two of the top five album or tune titles for last week referenced bears; a third mentioned caves and claws. The top Spinitron disk for February […]

The post Are college and community radio deejays going bearish? appeared first on Radio Survivor.

Digital Watch: In Search of High Fidelity Internet Radio [Radio Survivor]

After writing last week about how some listeners were upset about changes to the BBC 3 high quality/bitrate stream my curiosity was piqued about higher fidelity internet radio stations. So I set about finding stations that highlight sound quality by offering higher bitrate streams. First, it’s important to define terms. For the purpose of this […]

The post Digital Watch: In Search of High Fidelity Internet Radio appeared first on Radio Survivor.

Enough with Benghazi Already [RedState]


Let me say at the outset that I understand that what happened at the embassy in Benghazi was a tragedy for everyone involved, especially for the families of those who were killed, and I do not want to minimize their loss. I think by now everyone who is paying attention to this scandal likewise understands that Ambassador Stevens and three other people are dead at least in part because of the failure of the State Department to properly secure the embassy in the face of what they should have recognized was a legitimate threat to the safety and health of embassy personnel. And I think most people likewise understand that, as Secretary of State at the time, the ultimate responsibility for this failure flows through Hillary Clinton on its way through to President Obama, and that there is considerable evidence that Clinton herself was involved in the systematic indifference to the threat displayed by the State Department in general.

All of that is to say: I understand that Benghazi should be a career-ending scandal for Hillary Clinton. It should be a silver bullet that derails her Presidential aspirations. But it will not be, and its time we stop deluding ourselves otherwise.

As of this moment, Congress has held over a dozen hearings on Benghazi and reviewed tens of thousands of pages of documents. Republican talking heads on the cable news have attempted for two and a half years to flog this story at every opportunity. The problem is not that the story has gotten no exposure, or that no investigation has been conducted. The problem is that, for whatever reason, people do not care. Blame the media, blame the American people, blame whoever you want, two years of a sustained campaign has failed to make this story register as a political force and it’s time to move on.

Like it or not, the Clintons have demonstrated throughout the years that they are, essentially, scandal-proof. America gets it: the Clintons are crooked. They surround themselves with crooks and hacks. They are not especially good at anything other than making the Clintons richer and more powerful. For a lot of people, that’s a political death knell. For the Clintons, it seems to mostly engender grudging admiration from swing voters at how they keep getting away with being crooks. In particular Clintons have been having scandal accusations thrown at them by Republicans for so long that each new successive scandal accusation just becomes additional proof that Republicans have Clinton Derangement Syndrome. Fair or not, this is the way it is and it’s time to come around to that fact: scandals are not the way to defeat a Clinton, and no amount of #BENGHAZI hashtags is going to change that.

Which is why I read with dismay that Republicans are seizing on this latest scandal about Hillary’s emails (already something that frankly won’t serve to dent Hillary’s image) and tying it back to Benghazi which has already become a buzzword with which the general public has lost interest.

Look, as it happens, I think Hillary will be relatively easy to beat, as a general election candidate. She’s nothing like her husband as a politician. She’s uncharismatic, shrill, aloof, and gives the clear impression that she is indifferent to regular people. The only thing at all that she has going for her is that her last name is “Clinton” and the historical appeal of being the first female President. I don’t think that will be enough to get her across the line, in the final analysis. But the fact that she’s a crook/not especially competent is already baked in to the public’s perception of her and pressing the issue is frankly likely to galvanize support behind her as yet another Clinton who is the victim of relentless Republican scandalmongering.

Hillary Clinton is a bad politician with bad/no ideas who would be a bad President. Defeat her using that line of attack; it’s eminently doable. It’s time to move on from Benghazi.

The post Enough with Benghazi Already appeared first on RedState.

Enough is Enough: John Boehner Must Go [RedState]

Allow me to add my voice to that of my RedState colleague Bill S: after the events last week, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)Heritage ActionScorecardRep. John BoehnerN/AHouse Republican Average39See Full ScorecardN/A must step down as Speaker of the House. He has stabbed conservative Republicans in the back too many times, and the votes over funding the Department of Homeland Security, including Obama’s illegal executive amnesty, are merely what has finally pushed me over the edge.

Ever since Obama announced his executive order on amnesty back in November, conservatives have been pushing for Congress to reassert its Constitutionally delegated power over the purse and defund the order. The bill funding the Department of Homeland Security was our best chance to do so. As yesterday’s vote illustrates so clearly, Boehner doesn’t care what conservatives–the base of his part–think, and if his own caucus opposes a bill, he’s even willing to use Democratic votes to provide most of the majority he needs to pass a bill.

Jim DeMint has written an excellent article for Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal. Having been both a Representative and Senator and consistent voice for conservative Republicans everywhere, he understands the problems we face in Washington better than most. During his time on the Hill, he said he noticed a disturbing tendency among the GOP’s leadership:

The phrase I heard most often from Republican leadership while serving in the House and Senate was, “This is not the right time to have this fight.”

Whether the issue was balancing the budget, school choice, patient-driven healthcare, eliminating earmarks, raising the debt limit, ending big, crony handouts like the Export-Import Bank or any stand against the continued growth, favoritism and intrusion of big government, conservatives were always told to wait. Wait until conservatives have the majority. Wait until we have the White House. Wait until we are reelected.

We’re seeing that “wait” attitude in practice today as the House votes on a “clean” Department of Homeland Security funding bill. Despite the fact that Republicans have majorities in both the House and the Senate that were elected on a pledge to fight against President Obama’s executive amnesty, and despite forcing through a big spending bill at the end of 2014 with the promise they would fight later on Homeland Security appropriations, they are now punting the issue entirely.

To make this entire situation even more absurd, as he notes near the end of the piece, Republican leaders were the ones responsible for creating this strategy in the first place. However, once it came time to fight, they retreated yet again.

This is hardly the first time John Boehner has stabbed conservatives in the back, but of all his instances of cowardice, this one must stand out the most. Rarely, if ever, has the Executive Branch been so brazen in its breach of the Constitution or in its usurpation of the powers granted to Congress by that document. If he is not willing to stand up now, then when is he?

The alternative strategy proposed by John Boehner and his ilk is to punt the issue to the courts. The Supreme Court has ruled in the past that Congress has plenary power over who to admit into or expel or exclude from this country, going as far as to state in 1909, “over no conceivable subject is the legislative power of Congress more complete….” Nevertheless, the precedent being set here is a dangerous one. As Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)Heritage ActionScorecardSen. Jeff Sessions85%Senate Republican Average29See Full Scorecard85% eloquently explains:

Congress, so threatened, can never acquiesce to this action by funding it. The President has acted unconstitutionally, and it is the President—not Congress—who must back down. We are a coequal branch of government, delegated with the powers necessary to defend our institution and our constitutional role. We cannot and must not establish the precedent that we will fund illegal actions on the hope that another branch of government will intervene and strike down that illegal action at some later point. To establish such a precedent would be to empower any future President to demand Congress fund any unlawful decree, and then assert that Congress is ‘shutting down the government’ unless this illegal, off-the-books program is funded. Congress must reassert its waning power. We must reestablish the constitutional principle that the people’s representatives control the purse.

By refusing to stand up to Obama over funding his executive amnesty, John Boehner is every bit as complicit in this usurpation. What Obama started, Boehner finished by allowing it to stand, even though it meant relying on the Democrats in Congress over the vast majority of the members of his own party. Even if the courts overturn Obama’s executive order, the precedent of Congress surrendering its powers without a real fight remains, and the courts might not always be there to bail them up.

It’s time for John Boehner to step down as Speaker of the House. Each and every one of the 167 GOP members who voted against the bill should get to work on ousting him as party leader and replacing him with someone conservatives in and out of Congress can trust to defend the Constitution. Yes, they risk retribution, but as Bill S notes, “Committee assignments are not worth the damage that House and Senate leadership are doing to the Republican party and to the country by continuing to tolerate Barack Obama’s patently unconstitutional behavior.” I won’t go as far as he does and suggest that every one of the 75 GOP members who supported the bill must be primaried, but it’s more because I think we should focus our efforts on a few. In particular, Boehner must be our first target this primary season, and for the good off our party he must be defeated. Along with him we must target Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)Heritage ActionScorecardRep. Kevin McCarthy40%House Republican Average39See Full Scorecard40% and Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA)Heritage ActionScorecardRep. Steve Scalise76%House Republican Average39See Full Scorecard76%, neither of whom are acceptable candidates for the Speakership if Boehner goes.

At this point, I think it is incumbent upon all of us to write our GOP Representatives and demand that they take action to remove John Boehner as Speaker of the House. It is simply unacceptable for him to remain in that position any l9nger.

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LIBRE smacks HuffPo back on Latino outreach. [RedState]

So, let me set the background, here.  The Huffington Post decided last week to run a hit piece (the lack of link is deliberate, and meant as an insult) on the LIBRE Initiative, which is a Spanish-language activist group that is also big on small-government conservatism (full disclosure: my friend/former RedState colleague Brian Faughnan happens to works for them). This sort of thing infuriates the (largely white) progressive leadership cadre, mostly because said leadership cadre has written for themselves a wonderful narrative where they’ve selflessly taken up the White Enlightened Man’s Person’s Burden to ward and foster and nurture all those disadvantaged Persons of Color.


…Yeah, sorry about that. Anyway, LIBRE kind of steps on that narrative: hence, the hit piece.  Yesterday, LIBRE’s Executive Director Daniel Garza hit back.  This HuffPo piece I’ll link to:

…there are some who believe that all Latinos must hold liberal views, or that you’re not authentically Latino if you are a conservative. In recent years people like Henry Cuellar, Susana Martinez, Ted Cruz and others have been criticized — often by anglos — for not being sufficiently Hispanic, simply because of their personal beliefs.

The staff and volunteers of the LIBRE Initiative experience this every day, as critics who profess to have the best interests of the Latino community at heart — including People For the American Way — argue that a pro-economic liberty organization can’t be trusted to deliver aid to kids arriving at the border, or to provide medical checkups to needy families, or provide children backpacks, notebooks, and haircuts as they go back to school. Some of the staunchest self-professed defenders of Hispanics say we can’t care as they do because we put more faith than they do in individuals and less in government.

This is not only wrong; it’s un-American.

I really, really hope that people bristled at that last sentence, there.  Daniel went on to mention some of the things that LIBRE does, which were all very much mainstream outreach things: helping people pass driver’s tests, English-language classes, health and back-to-school clinics. These are all things that should not be particularly partisan, but that certain elements on the Left want to make partisan… and done exclusively by their side. The idea that somebody could be providing this assistance and in the process say Oh, by the way: you’ve noticed too how badly Obamacare serves Spanish-speakers? What? You thought that you were the only one getting hammered by that? Not at all! Hey, let me tell you about this meeting… angers progressive activists, largely because they fear the ideological competition.

After all, who wants to work to convert other people to your views?  It’s ever so much easier to simply have the field all to yourself. A win by default is still a win.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

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A Closer Look at King v. Burwell [RedState]

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On today’s edition of Coffee and Markets, Brad Jackson is joined by Josh Archambault to discuss the King v. Burwell case before SCOTUS, what a ruling could mean for state’s that did not create their own ObamaCare exchange and how the court could ratchet up political pressure to change the law.

Related Links:

Doctors, patients scramble ahead of high court Obamacare decision
Swing vote on Supreme Court says striking down Obamacare subsidies could cause a ‘death spiral’ for health insurance exchanges as justices hear arguments in Affordable Care Act challenge
A Court Rebuke, Then Effective Repeal and Replacement?
Josh Archambault at The Foundation for Government Accountability

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Hillary Clinton’s Sleaze of State [RedState]

The Ethical Vision of Hillary Clinton

The Ethical Vision of Hillary Clinton

(Image Credit: Ed Driscoll)

Hillary Clinton violated the professional ethics of her office as Secretary of State. She used a personal email address for official business. This is unethical because the official work emails of a Federal Civil Servant or Executive Appointee are supposed to belong to the government and be archived for posterity. The furor over the Department of Justice and their deliberate obstruction of discovery regarding Lois Lerner’s emails should give you an idea of just how corrupt this is. If it doesn’t, an official with the National Archives gives us some perspective as to how serious this actually is.

“It is very difficult to conceive of a scenario—short of nuclear winter—where an agency would be justified in allowing its Cabinet-level head officer to solely use a private email communications channel for the conduct of government business,” a former National Archives and Records Administration official told The Times. – The National Journal.