2014-01-18

19:07

9th Cir. Agrees With Volokh: The First Amendment Press Protection Is For A Technology, Not Merely An Industry [Ace of Spades HQ]

A notable win for Professor Volokh's project to see that the courts go back to recognizing that press freedom means freedom of the presses, not freedom for a special class of people recognized as members of the press. From the...

14 Minutes of Pissed Off Goalies [Ace of Spades HQ]

Just what it sounds like. Consider this an open thread, I know I am....

Your Cat Thinks You're Just A Big Stupid Cat [Ace of Spades HQ]

So sayeth a scientist who is selling a book. He notes that cats were never bred for companionship they way that dogs were. Cats sort of adopted us and got used to hunting the rats and vermin that fed on...

Saturday Car Thread 01/18/14 - [Niedermeyer's Dead Horse & CountrySquire] [Ace of Spades HQ]

Happy Saturday. Now that were through the challenge of competing with America's favorite sport, I thought we might give this car thread thing another try. This week we are honored to have Moron CountrySquire contribute his take on the big...

Saturday Morning Open Thread [Ace of Spades HQ]

Whenever-you-get-around-to-it edition....

Overnight Open Thread (17 Jan 2014) [Ace of Spades HQ]

Man, Keith Koffler nails it. The root of Obama's imperious Presidency. Obama is, for a politician, a relative loner who doesn’t want to be bugged by members of Congress. Of either Party. He has no famous chums in Congress....

STABILIDY AND SECURIDY IN THE REGION [Tim Blair]

A packed house for Julia Gillard’s big Dubai speech: …

HOOROO HIROO [Tim Blair]

A Japanese soldier who hid in the jungle for 29 years after World War II has died at 91: Hiroo Onoda was…

SIDE CHOSEN [Tim Blair]

The Courier-Mail‘s gullible Paul Syvret seems upset by a lack of boats: If I was Indonesia I’d now be tempted to…

ANNITA WHO? [Tim Blair]

To celebrate Paul Keating’s 70th birthday, Fairfax’s Jacqueline Maley files 1730 words of love about the “incredibly warm, intensely loyal, incredibly funny’’ former Labor…

HARVEY AND MERYL VERSUS THE NRA [Tim Blair]

US firearms manufacturers may as well shut down right away: Hollywood heavyweight Harvey Weinstein has revealed plans to expose the National Rifle…

CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE [Tim Blair]

Andrew Bolt smugly dismisses claims that Sydney is suffering a frightening global-warming induced heatwave. Well, what do you say to this, Mr Gaia-Hating…

POETS BANNED AT OVERLAND [Tim Blair]

Tax-mooching suckwads at Overland blacklist poets who are tainted by conservative association, including Labor voter Joe Dolce: I have just been advised…

Products for Nobody [Daring Fireball]

Abdel Ibrahim, writing at The Tech Block:

Just look at Chromebook Pixel for example. How many people are really going to spend $1300 on a high-resolution Chromebook? Are techies going to? No so much. Are everyday consumers going to? Hell no. Why even build it? To prove that they can build a high-resolution laptop for $1300? At this point, any hardware manufacturer can do that. Just go to your local Best Buy. […]

But at least they’re trying, right? Absolutely. I’m glad they are. But it would awesome if the brilliant minds at Google worked on something everyone reading this would actually want to buy. Not something we probably won’t see for years, maybe even decades.

Om Malik on Google’s Smart Contact Lenses [Daring Fireball]

Om Malik:

One in 19 people on this planet have diabetes. I am one. […]

So when I read about Google’s “smart contact lens project,” which allows these lenses to measure blood sugar levels, for a very brief instant I was excited.

Before and After [Daring Fireball]

The Joy of Tech on Google’s acquisition of Nest.

Speaking of DF RSS Feed Sponsors [Daring Fireball]

Another last-minute scheduling change has left next week’s spot open.

Update: That didn’t take long.

The next open spot after that isn’t until the end of February. If you’ve got a product or service to promote to DF’s discerning audience, get in touch.

Duplicate: A New Typeface From Commercial Type [Daring Fireball]

My thanks to Commercial Type for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Duplicate, a collection of new typefaces by Christian Schwartz and Miguel Reyes, paying homage to legendary French type designer Roger Excoffon.

Duplicate comes in three varieties: Duplicate Sans, Duplicate Slab, and Duplicate Ionic, each in 6 weights from Thin to Black. Designed for use in publications, websites, and corporate identities, Duplicate works beautifully at a wide range of sizes, from captions to headlines, and all 36 styles have been manually hinted for use on screen.

These are great typefaces — attractive, readable, and very distinctive. Duplicate is available now from Commercial Type for print, mobile apps, and as self-hosted webfonts.

NPD: Apple and Samsung Widen Lead in U.S. Phone Market [Daring Fireball]

Brian X. Chen, writing for NYT Bits:

Nokia, whose smartphones primarily run Microsoft’s Windows operating system, was not even worth mentioning in the study. In general, Nokia’s Windows phones have not gained traction in the United States, although Nokia’s phones are selling stronger in overseas markets like Argentina, India, Poland and Russia.

The NPD numbers underscore especially disappointing results for Motorola. Last year, the company aggressively promoted the Moto X, its first flagship smartphone made under its new owner, Google. Yet despite these efforts, Motorola’s presence in the United States last year dwindled compared with 2012, according to the study.

Update: The story has now been updated to read:

The report did not track phones using the Windows Phone operating system, so Nokia, which uses that software, did not appear. In general, Nokia’s phones have not gained traction in the United States, although Nokia’s phones are selling stronger in overseas markets like Argentina, India, Poland and Russia.

The 2015 Honda Fit [Daring Fireball]

Raphael Orlove, writing for Jalopnik:

The last and best feature of the car is Honda’s GPS solution: it’s your phone. You can order the car with navigation for something around $1500, or you can download the HondaLink app from Honda for $59.99 and get something better. With the app, the car will display your phone’s GPS on its seven-inch display. That means as you upgrade your phone, you’ll be upgrading your GPS, too. I can’t think of a better system.

Way of the future.

Nintendo Racks Up $240 Million Annual Loss [Daring Fireball]

Masatsugu Horie and Takashi Amano, reporting for Bloomberg:

“We are thinking about a new business structure,” Iwata said at a press conference today in Osaka, Japan. “Given the expansion of smart devices, we are naturally studying how smart devices can be used to grow the game-player business. It’s not as simple as enabling Mario to move on a smartphone.”

Hurry up, I say.

Hoefler Response [Daring Fireball]

Press release:

Last week, designer Tobias Frere-Jones, a longtime employee of The Hoefler Type Foundry, Inc. (d/b/a “Hoefler & Frere-Jones”), decided to leave the company. With Tobias’s departure, the company founded by Jonathan Hoefler in 1989 will become known as Hoefler & Co.

Following his departure, Tobias filed a claim against company founder Jonathan Hoefler. Its allegations are not the facts, and they profoundly misrepresent Tobias’s relationship with both the company and Jonathan. […] It goes without saying that all of us are disappointed by Tobias’s actions. The company will vigorously defend itself against these allegations, which are false and without legal merit.

The New York Times’ Most Popular Story of 2013 Was Not an Article [Daring Fireball]

Robinson Meyer, writing for The Atlantic:

Think about that. A news app, a piece of software about the news made by in-house developers, generated more clicks than any article. And it did this in a tiny amount of time: The app only came out on December 21, 2013. That means that in the 11 days it was online in 2013, it generated more visits than any other piece.

I’ll repeat: It took a news app only 11 days to “beat” every other story the Times published in 2013. It’s staggering.

Somewhere, Adrian Holovaty is smiling.

Anchorman 2 was Paramount’s final release on 35mm film [Ars Technica]

These old reels will go the way of the dinosaur.

According to unnamed industry executives speaking to the Los Angeles Times, Paramount has ceased releasing films on 35mm film and will go forward distributing movies exclusively in digital formats. The LA Times' sources said that Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues was the last Paramount movie with a celluloid release, and Wolf of Wall Street was the first major motion picture to be distributed entirely digitally.

The move has been a long time coming. Back in 2012, Ars reported that digital media research company IHS Screen Digest predicted that movie studios would cease producing 35mm film prints for major markets like the US, France, the UK, Japan, and Australia by the end of 2013. IHS also predicted that worldwide film distribution would cease by 2015.

The Los Angeles Times noted that Paramount has kept the landmark move quiet, possibly due to the fact that “no studio wants to be seen as the first to abandon film, which retains a cachet among purists.” Still, film prints can be up to twenty times as expensive to create and distribute as digital prints; the Times says a digital print can cost the studio $100, whereas a film print can sometimes cost $2,000 to make.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Op-ed: Star Trek’s expanded universe is a glorious mess [Ars Technica]

Last Friday, I wrote—with no small amount of vitriol—about the astonishing mess that is the Star Wars Expanded Universe (EU). Disney is making an effort to cull the enormous, multi-tiered wreck of Star Wars canon and semi-canon, and good on them for it, because it definitely needs taming before The Mouse can wade in and write new adventures (which, if history is any guide, we'll all hate anyway).

But what about the sprawling canon of that other famous Star-prepended franchise? You know, the one that boldly splits infinitives in its title sequences and originated both the terms "slash" and "Mary Sue?" What about all those Star Trek novels and video games—do all of them need to be beamed out into hard vacuum like so much space trash? A few gems exist in the garbage pit of the Star Wars EU—Timothy Zahn's work is almost universally praised, for example—but does Trek's canon feature similar gems?

Article spoiler: yes, it does. The Trek "expanded universe" isn't all silly new Lieutenants falling in love with Vulcans; some stories and characters are incredibly, jaw-droppingly crafted. We're going to talk about five of them—and the Trek that might have been, if they'd only been canon.

Read 62 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Ars readers react to Target’s POS snafu and mining Coinye coins [Ars Technica]

A new Coinye logo that's been, ahem, floating around.

The most high-profile hack in recent months has no doubt belonged to mega-retailer Target, which suffered the theft of over 40 million credit card numbers around Thanksgiving. The hack is still being investigated, but independent journalist Brian Krebs discovered "memory-scraping" malware hiding on Target's POS this week. You can find all the details in Dan Goodin's story, Point-of-sale malware infecting Target found hiding in plain sight.

Ars readers, of course, had plenty of theories as to how that malware got there. nijave wrote, "The registers probably either network boot or periodically contact a server to check for updated versions automatically. I'm guessing they compromised the server that the POS systems boot/get updates from. That system is probably fairly easily accessible. Running a network vulnerability scanner probably would find an exploitable server they could install their command and control server on. This could have been one of the inventory management servers the registers are allowed to communicate with."

Spazmodica had a more big-picture view: "Target got completely hosed on this. There definitely seems to be an insider element, plus a fair amount of incompetency. But aside from some IT staff who will lose their jobs, the only harm is to the consumers whose data has been compromised. The corporation itself won't face any real consequences, since it's perfectly legal to lose consumer data in the USA (unless it's medical data), and of course here in America corporate executives are never held accountable for anything." And Scallywag quipped, "POS systems are, indeed, well named."

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Why New Zealand put the kibosh on Dotcom’s arena mega-party [Ars Technica]

Photo collage by Aurich Lawson

At the last minute, Kim Dotcom has pulled the plug on his January 20 “Party Party” event at Auckland’s Vector Arena—for which he says 25,000 people had registered for free tickets.

In an e-mail to registered attendees, Dotcom says he cancelled the event after “we received advice that the event could risk breaching electoral laws.”

That advice arrived in the form of phone calls followed up by an e-mail from the Electoral Commission—the independent New Zealand government agency that administers elections and enforces spending and campaign rules.

Read 40 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Men know how to strategically piss off their opponents [Ars Technica]

Anger has long been associated with competitive situations—that’s why hockey has a penalty box, soccer has red cards, and basketball has flagrant fouls. A new study in PNAS delved into this relationship and found that anger has a complicated effect in competitions, sometimes boosting performance and other times making it worse. What’s more, the results suggest that men actually use anger strategically to get the better of their opponents. This strategy is called the Materazzi effect, after the Italian soccer player Marco Materazzi, who angered rival Zinedine Zidane enough to get him ejected from the World Cup final in 2006.

The Materazzi effect earns its name.

To examine the competitive consequences of anger, the researchers recruited some of the most outwardly competitive people out there: college men. They randomly paired up 260 participants and assigned each pair to play one of two games.

Strong man

The first game was a test of strength. The two players faced off over two rounds to see which had a stronger grip as measured by a hand dynamometer. After the first round, one player—called the “decision maker”—was given a chance to anger the other: he could assign his opponent to do between zero and twenty minutes of what the researchers called “boring administrative tasks” once the game was over. The other player was notified of the decision maker’s choice before the second round of the game.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

SayIt is the civic software for publishing “smart” transcripts [Ars Technica]

MySociety, the "e-democracy project" behind FixMyStreet and FixMyTransport, has launched a piece of civic software called SayIt, which publishes transcripts of speeches in a way that is easy to access and share.

SayIt is an open-source tool that has been built in collaboration with the Poplus network. The aim is to provide a resource for people who want to run websites and apps that can keep track of what politicians and other powerful people say. Transcripts can be stripped out of PDFs—a search-unfriendly data format—and published to SayIt so that they are easy to search and analyze.

The mobile-optimized publishing tool has built-in search functionality and allows people to link directly to any part of the transcripts. SayIt can be used as a hosted service or it can be built into a third-party website. In fact, MySociety says that SayIt's main purpose is to be built into other sites.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Google introduces smart contact lens project to measure glucose levels [Ars Technica]

It's not April 1. It's still 2014. This isn't a joke. Google just introduced a smart contact lens.

For now it's only a Google[x] experiment, but the idea involves a contact lens with a small wireless chip and a sensor that can measure a diabetic's glucose levels. For someone with diabetes, glucose levels require constant monitoring, usually by pricking the end of the finger and putting a drop of blood into a glucose measuring device. Google's contact lens measures glucose via the tear fluid in a person's eye. This means no more blood and no more picking fingers.

Google says it's currently testing prototypes that can take a glucose reading once per second, and the eventual plan is to integrate an LED to notify the user that their glucose levels need tending to. One of the bylines on the blog post is Babak Parviz, a Google[x] employee who has given numerous talks about embedding LEDs and other sensors into a contact lens.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Sleeping spacecraft Rosetta nearly ready to wake up for comet landing [Ars Technica]

ESA

The Rosetta spacecraft is due to wake up on the morning of January 20 after an 30-month hibernation in deep space. For the past ten years, the three-ton spacecraft has been on a one-way trip to a 4 km-wide comet. When it arrives, it will set about performing a maneuver that has never been done before: landing on a comet’s surface.

The spacecraft has already achieved some success on its long journey through the solar system. It has passed by two asteroids—Steins in 2008 and Lutetia in 2010—and it tried out some of its instruments on them. Because Rosetta’s journey is so protracted, however, preserving energy has been of the utmost importance, which is why it was put into hibernation in June 2011. The journey has taken so long because the spacecraft needed to be “gravity-assisted” by many planets in order to reach the necessary velocity to match the comet’s orbit.

Rosetta's path through the inner Solar System.

When it wakes up, Rosetta is expected to take a few hours to establish contact with Earth, 673 million km (396 million mi) away. The scientists involved will wait with bated breath. Dan Andrews, part of a team at the Open University who built one of Rosetta’s on-board instruments, said, “If there isn’t sufficient power, Rosetta will go back to sleep and try again later. The wake-up process is driven by software commands already on the spacecraft. It will wake itself up autonomously and spend some time warming up and orienting its antenna toward Earth to ‘phone home.’”

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Latina Actress Blacklisted for Supporting Republican Candidate [The Other McCain]

WOW! Cuban-American actress @MariaConchita_A supports GOP candidate in Calfiornia http://t.co/1M8tAhJpyv @regularrightguy #tcot — Robert Stacy McCain (@rsmccain) January 18, 2014 If I had ever heard of Maria Conchita Alonzo before now, I don’t remember it, but I know I’ll never forget her after this: A famed actress is facing backlash in San Francisco’s Latino community, […]

The ObamaCare ‘Death Spiral’ Debate [The Other McCain]

ObamaCare is exactly the kind of policy failure its opponents predicted, although it has also failed in a few unpredicted ways. The only way anyone can call ObamaCare a “success” is in a political sense, i.e., it helped re-elect Obama. We might also say ObamaCare is a “success” in the sense that its unmistakable failure will […]

Mexican Murder Suspect Is Finally Deported After 13-Year U.S. Crime Spree [The Other McCain]

Mexican criminal Fabian Godinez-Oseguera deported by ICE. This case “ought to make your blood boil,” indeed: Fabian Godinez-Oseguera was wanted on a warrant in Mexico for a 2000 murder. He fled to the United States and — despite multiple felony convictions here and having been repeatedly deported to Mexico — was still running around loose […]

Federal Court Upholds Bloggers’ Rights [The Other McCain]

Eugene Volokh cites a ruling yesterday by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Obsidian Finance Group v. Cox: The protections of the First Amendment do not turn on whether the defendant was a trained journalist, formally affiliated with traditional news entities, engaged in conflict-of-interest disclosure, went beyond just assembling others’ writings, […]

Read 700 Free eBooks Made Available by the University of California Press [The Travelin' Librarian]

American SensationsThe University of California Press e-books collection holds books published by UCP (and a select few printed by other academic presses) between 1982-2004. The general public currently has access to 770 books through this initiative. The collection is dynamic, with new titles being added over time.

Sadly, you can’t download the books to an e-reader or tablet. Happily, there is a “bookbag” function that you can use to store your titles, if you need to leave the site and come back.

Read the full post @ OpenCulture.com.

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Public Libraries Show Why Sharing Culture Should Never Have Been Banned in the First Place [The Travelin' Librarian]

FileCopyrightSimpleEnglishWikibookheader.pngYou’ll have a hard time finding a copyright monopoly maximalist who insists that public libraries should be banned. This would be political suicide; instead, they typically tell lies about why it’s not the same thing as online sharing. Let’s have a look.

A concept that’s becoming increasingly useful is “Analog Equivalent Rights.” Culture and knowledge should be just as available in the digital space, as it is in the analog space. We should enjoy exactly the same privacy rights and civil liberties online, as we do offline. The concept is completely reasonable, and nowhere near rocket science. This is a tremendously useful concept, as it makes lawmakers and others reflect on the liberties they are killing off for their children, sometimes followed by a mental shock as they realize what has been going on with their silent approval. Let’s have a look at how this applies to public libraries.

When you are challenging a copyright industry lobbyist over the concept of public libraries, and ask them if they are opposed to people having access to such culture and knowledge without paying, they are smart enough to not deride public libraries – as this would weaken their political position considerably. However, online sharing of culture and knowledge is the Analog Equivalent Right to the public libraries we’ve had for 150 years. Lobbyists will sometimes try to change the subject around this, or more commonly, lie using one of three myths. Here are those myths and lies, and why they are untrue:

Read the full post @ TorrentFreak.com.

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Books go online for free in Norway [The Travelin' Librarian]

NasjonalbiblioteketMore than 135,000 books still in copyright are going online for free in Norway after an innovative scheme by the National Library ensured that publishers and authors are paid for the project.

The copyright-protected books (including translations of foreign books) have to be published before 2000 and the digitising has to be done with the consent of the copyright holders.

Read the full article @ The Telegraph.

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Corporations Abusing Copyright Laws Are Ruining the Web for Everyone [The Travelin' Librarian]

Image Deleted DMCABy allowing limited use of copyrighted material for things like criticism, review, commentary, parody, or just personal non-commercial use, fair use has a widespread and often invisible impact on today’s social internet. Yet its very ubiquity means it’s often taken for granted by individuals — and the internet companies who benefit from it.

This is worrying because fair use is under threat, and one of the culprits is the DMCA takedown notice that provides copyright owners an easy tool to remove content they claim to be unlawfully posted. Copyright owners send these notices to web companies who host content; the companies must then remove the content or risk legal liability themselves. Meant to promote the quick removal of impermissible copyright infringement, the DMCA system works well in many cases.

Unfortunately, an increasing number of copyright holders misuse this system to target even lawful fair use of their work. And the current DMCA system enables these aggressive copyright owners by providing virtually no penalties for failing to consider common exceptions to infringement — like fair use.

Many times per week, WordPress.com receives such DMCA takedown notices that target what we can plainly see is fair use. An all too common example is a notice directed at a blogger who is criticizing a company or its products, and therefore using screenshots of the company’s website or a photo of the company’s wares in their post. This isn’t just an outlier case; given our unique vantage point, we see an alarming number of businesses attempt to use the DMCA takedown process to wipe criticism of their company off the internet.

Read the full article @ Wired.com.

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"Detroit Auto Show: Automakers push weight loss to promote fuel efficiency." [Althouse]

Yeah, lose some weight so cars don't need to burn so much fuel carrying you around.

No, they're not saying that. (They're just trying to make the vehicles weigh less.) But wouldn't it be funny if they did?

Maria Conchita Alonso booted out of a San Francisco production of "The Vagina Monologues" after appearing in an ad for a Tea Party candidate. [Althouse]

In the ad — which we talked about here — she said, expressing antagonism toward big government — "We’re screwed." She said it in Spanish. "The Vagina Monologues" production was also to be in Spanish. I don't know how to say "screwed" or "vagina" in Spanish, but the producer of the show, Eliana Lopez, wife of San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, said: "We really cannot have her in the show, unfortunately."

And Jim Salinas, "a long time Mission resident and former president of the San Francisco Latino Democratic Club," noting the sexual language in the ad, the chihuahua named "Tequila," and predicting boycotts if Alonso remained in the cast, said:

“We don’t act like that. First of all, that is not a typical Latina... First Amendment rights, we all have the right to say something. But it’s also our right to say we object to that.”
If you're a member of a minority group and you speak in a setting that seems to be conveying the message — politically leveraging the message — that you are a typical member of that group, you will attract criticism, and that criticism can also be criticized.

And criticize that play too. It sucks.

What is the origin of the idea of the "scorched earth" policy? [Althouse]

How far back does it go?

The tactic goes back to ancient times.

The term "scorched earth," according to the (unlinkable) OED is a translation of Chinese phrase jiāotŭ (zhèngcè), with the earliest use in English traced to 1937:

1937 C. McDonald in Times 6 Dec. 12/2 The populace..are still disturbed, in spite of official denials, by wild rumours of a ‘scorched earth policy’ of burning the city before the Japanese enter....
One OED example is comic:
1963 P. G. Wodehouse Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves xvii. 135 The kitchen maid..always adopts the scorched earth policy when preparing a meal.
If you've read the history at the first link, you might think that comic usage is in bad taste, but then you must never speak of "nuking" things in the microwave.

"His 'Bone-Dry' Martini features a tincture made from chicken bones that are roasted and dissolved in phosphoric acid..." [Althouse]

"... his Sazerac contains a touch of ambergris, the whale secretion used in perfume production..."

There's some weirdness going on these days in the segment of commerce that goes under the rubric "cocktails."


Earlier this morning I tried to watch this video with these 2 supposed science geeks using nitrous oxide to hasten the infusion of berries and almonds into vodka. This is presented as an alternative to going out for a drink and "a dude in suspenders takes 7 hours to make it for you" — at least in San Francisco.

And I was listening to this amusing Stephen Merchant performance "Hello Ladies" — about dating — where he says the woman always orders "a cocktail" and gets a laugh as if everyone understands "cocktail" to be expensive. Back in the 70s, I knew a young woman who tested her dates' worthiness by — when the waiter asked if you'd like a drink — ordering a split of champagne.

But when did "cocktails" suddenly become something especially posh? I'm guessing specific establishments in American coastal cities made a market push. Here in the Midwest, far from the coasts, but right on the isthmus, I'm keeping biliary secretions of the intestines of the sperm whale out of my booze, and if I need reminder of the taste of deep-cooked bone, I'll gnaw on the charred tips of the last chicken Meade roasted with the drink on the side. And if there are any containers of nitrous oxide lying around, can't we just mix it with nothing?

Speaking of nothing, back in the 60s there was a whole genre of jokes about making a martini — the sophisticated cocktail of that era — that involved pouring gin in a glass and doing something else with the vermouth. So, seriously, if you want a glamorous cocktail, get some nice martini glasses and keep your gin in the freezer.

ADDED: Meanwhile, I went looking through my photographs from last month in Austin, Texas, thinking I'd taken a shot of a bar touting some crazy number of "infusions." I hadn't. But I found this:



IN THE COMMENTS: Paddy O says: "More along the lines of Althouse's opinion, is Ron Swanson's views on mixology":

Twilight catch. [Althouse]



Last night, in the blue hour.

It was a Lab fest:




With Zeus, and (in yellow) Iris...



And our new best friend (in chocolate) Colt:



The photobombing non-Lab is Bowie, so named because he has one blue and one brown iris... unlike Iris, who has neither heterochromia nor anisocoria. If your pet has mismatched eyes, David Bowie is not the only celebrity you could name him after. Consider calling him Aykroyd, Cumberbatch, Kiefer, Van Cleef, or Mila.

Flesh! and calenture. [Althouse]

In the comments to that first post of the day today, the one about the caveman diet, St. George said:

Interesting how "trash" is used to make food and how it is marketed.

Would you eat a Chapul bar?

Dates, chocolate, walnuts, flax, peanuts, and protein flour..i.e. ground processed cricket flesh.

The smaller the animals people eat, the poorer the civilization.

The scam here is that it's being marketed to appeal to people as a politically-conscious "revolutionary" food choice that benefits the environment...and your body!
I said:
Do insects have "flesh"? Isn't "flesh" just muscle... and do insects have "muscle"... and if not, what do they have that enables them to move?

From Wikipedia's article on "flesh":
With regard to biology, flesh is the soft substance of a human or other animal body that consists of muscle and fat; for vertebrate, this especially includes muscle tissue (skeletal muscle), as opposed to bones and viscera. Flesh may be used as food, in which case it is commonly called meat.
So... for the invertebrate, what are we talking about? Lobsters have flesh, right? Is it muscle or something more akin to the goo that exudes from a stepped-on grasshopper?

I've never thought about this before, but I see that insects do have muscles:
Unlike vertebrates that have both smooth and striated muscles, insects have only striated muscles. Muscle cells are amassed into muscle fibres and then into the functional unit, the muscle. Muscles are attached to the body wall, with attachment fibres running through the cuticle and to the epicuticle, where they can move different parts of the body including appendages such as wings. The muscle fibre has many cells with a plasma membrane and outer sheath or sarcolemma. The sarcolemma is invaginated and can make contact with the tracheole carrying oxygen to the muscle fibre. Arranged in sheets or cylindrically, contractile myofibrils run the length of the muscle fibre. Myofibrils comprising a fine actin filament enclosed between a thick pair of myosin filaments slide past each other instigated by nerve impulses.
The sarcolemma is invaginated... There is so much I don't know.
I looked up "flesh" in the (unlinkable) OED and what caught my eye — and this is one reason there's so much I don't know: I go with what's catching my eye at the moment — was the separate entry for "flesh!" "Flesh" with an exclamation point had its own entry, definition 9(d): "As a profane oath, God's flesh! Hence in 17–18th c. in ejaculations, as flesh! flesh and fire!" Example:
1695   W. Congreve Love for Love iii. i. 52   Flesh, you don't think I'm false-hearted, like a Land-man.
Here's the full text of Congreve's "Love for Love," in which I also found:
Look you, young woman, you may learn to give good words... if you should give such language at sea, you'd have a cat o' nine tails laid cross your shoulders. Flesh! who are you?
And:
Flesh, I believe all the calentures of the sea are come ashore, for my part.
Calenture. What is it? The OED says:
A disease incident to sailors within the tropics, characterized by delirium in which the patient, it is said, fancies the sea to be green fields, and desires to leap into it.
It's used in "The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe":
Yet even in this voyage I had my misfortunes too; particularly, that I was continually sick, being thrown into a violent calenture by the excessive heat of the climate....

In this distress we had, besides the terror of the storm, one of our men die of the calenture, and one man and the boy washed overboard....
"Calenture" can also be used figuratively to mean "Fever; burning passion, ardour, zeal, heat, glow."

A useful word, then, and a vivid exciting concept of madness, and yet we've lost it. I searched for it in the archives of the NYT and found little more than this "In the Woods" correspondence from July 16, 1866:
Why fix the date, my dear Editor, when the days of this torrid month lose distinction by fusion, and should be counted by calenture rather than calendar? Or why give you any place but that large suggestion of breezes and cafage? Enough to say that I write from a paradise of the fly-fisher — from one of those table lands above the reach of railroads, of which there are several yet unprofaned within the imporial limits of our State, from whose flanks...
Fleshly flanks, possibly invaginated...
... the streams run three several ways to join as many great rivers, springing secret and cold among forests whose skirts only the lumberman and the tanner have lifted.
Flesh! Do you feel a burning passion to speak and write with archaic locutions? The NYT correspondent infused writing about the landscape with sexuality, many years before we threw ourselves overboard into the seemingly green fields of direct talk about sex with real, human naked bodies and the porno films, "flesh flicks."

"Claim: Photograph shows a man eating a dead baby served at an Asian restaurant." [Althouse]

"The photographs" — shown here —  "were taken seriously by a number of law enforcement agencies who viewed them, and both Scotland Yard and the FBI investigated this matter, trying to determine when and where the pictures were taken and the identities of those appearing in them."

The origins of the images were quickly uncovered: The man in the photographs is Chinese performance artist Zhu Yu, who staged a conceptual shock piece called "Eating People" at a Shanghai arts festival in 2000. Maintaining that "No religion forbids cannibalism, nor can I find any law which prevents us from eating people," Zhu Yu acted out a performance in which he appeared to eat a stillborn or aborted child (likely constructed by placing a doll's head on a duck's carcass) and said that he "took advantage of the space between morality and the law and based my work on it."

The controversial photographs have since been part of a number of art exhibits and caused another stir in 2003 when they were aired on television in the UK as part of the Beijing Swings documentary...

"You can't forget that pigs are smart, social animals that experience a wide range of emotions." [Althouse]

"In such austere isolated conditions, they'll be suffering for much of their lives. For sure, it would get a lot of attention from animal rights groups."

Yes, but do you want your inside-a-pig-grown organs-for-humans or not?

This post needs a final line based on the old Groucho Marx joke: "Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."

Outside of a pig, medical technology is man's best friend. Inside of a pig it's too dark to read about ethics.

"For those many, many people who were raised on processed cheese, there is a memory connected with it that can’t be discounted in terms of its importance..." [Althouse]

"It’s a bite of the past, and that trumps flavor every time."

A quote from an article at Smithsonian.com on the history of Velveeta. That's just the next thing that interested me on line, not something I went looking for after that last post, which had food writer Michael Pollan giving us reason to enjoy some of the products of civilization (bread and other cooked foods), absolving us of the sense of obligation to return to whatever it is we imagine nourished the caveman, but not touching upon the mystic chords of memory of the more recent past, the days of mothers in aprons and the things that yielded so willingly to melting in that vividly golden childhood of yore.

And let's remember the psychology of environmentalism. Weren't we just talking about the problem of the industrial byproduct of all that Greek-style yogurt we've been eating? From the Smithsonian article:

[Emil Frey, a Swiss cheesemaker who moved from Switzerland to upstate New York, where he worked in cheese factories in the late 1880s]... figured out how... to help recoup some of the [cheese] factory's waste. He learned that by adding a by-product of cheesemaking called whey, which is the liquid released from curds during the cheesemaking process, to the leftover Swiss bits, he could create a very cohesive end-product. Frey named the product Velveeta....

"Michael Pollan explains what’s wrong with the paleo diet." [Althouse]

What do you mean by "wrong"? All Michael Pollan is saying is that people doing the paleo diet don't know exactly what our ancestors in evolutionary times ate and in what proportions. 

But prehistorical inaccuracy only makes the diet "wrong" if: 1. You adhere to a philosophy or moral code that demands not only that you attempt to ape the apeman but also that doing the best you can yet falling short is a violation, or 2. There is no independent scientific support for the healthfulness of the collection of foods that have been identified under the label "paleo."

I'm not really criticizing Pollan here. He didn't write the headline. It's pointing out the obvious that we don't know that the paleo diet is correct, not that we know it's wrong. Here's his book "Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation," which is oriented around making us feel good about (some of) the food that civilization has made for us.

One problem with the paleo diet is that “they’re assuming that the options available to our caveman ancestors are still there,” he argues. But “unless you’re willing to hunt your food, they’re not.”

As Pollan explains, the animals bred by modern agriculture — which are fed artificial diets of corn and grains, and beefed up with hormones and antibiotics — have nutritional profiles far from wild game.
Can you "beef up" beef? It's already beef. You can "humanize" a human being. But you can't bird up a bird, porkify a pig, or enlambate a lamb.

Here's one of my favorite songs:

Kerry Dismisses 98% Support for New Egypt Constitution as Just One Election and Not ‘Inclusive’ [The PJ Tatler]

When millions of Egyptians wanted the Muslim Brotherhood leadership out, President Obama noted that Mohammed Morsi won his presidential post in an election.

When nearly 20 million Egyptians — more than 98 percent of votes cast — approved a new constitution to replace the one forged by Islamists, Secretary of State John Kerry said elections aren’t everything.

Egypt’s new constitution was written by a committee of 50 including women, Christians, one Salafist and one independent Islamist, while the last constitution was written by the Muslim Brotherhood and associated Islamists. The new document forbids “religion, race, gender or geography” from being the basis to form a political party while guaranteeing freedom of religion and granting, for the first time, Copts the right to build churches without permission of the president. Women are recognized as equals in Egyptians society.

Several people died in clashes surrounding the voting sparked by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, who boycotted the vote. “Going to the polls was risky because of those who were trying to use violence to scare people from voting, but the army and the police exerted a great effort to protect the polls and to give assurance to the people who would like to vote…It was a phenomenon to see crowds of women at each poll, many of whom queued for hours to vote. Some of them were singing and rejoicing, and even dancing, before and after they cast their vote. There was a general spirit of joy among the people of Egypt who voted, in a way that never happened before. We, alongside other Christian denominations, encouraged the people of Egypt to fulfill their civil duty to vote and to pray for the future of Egypt,” Mouneer Anis wrote of the scene on the ground. “…Many voters carried the photos of Field Marshall al-Sisi, the Minister of Defense, in an attempt to persuade him to run for the presidency. This is because al-Sisi was the one who responded to the request of the millions of demonstrators on 30 June who called for early Presidential elections and the removal of the former President.”

But in a statement issued today, Kerry said it was just one vote and again called for inclusiveness — a refrain the administration has used since the Morsi overthrown in an effort to get the Muslim Brotherhood back into the political landscape.

“Egypt’s turbulent experiment in participatory democracy the last three years has reminded us all that it’s not one vote that determines a democracy, it’s all the steps that follow. It’s a challenging transition that demands compromise, vigilance, and constant tending. The draft Egyptian constitution passed a public referendum this week, but it’s what comes next that will shape Egypt’s political, economic and social framework for generations,” Kerry said. “As Egypt’s transition proceeds, the United States urges the interim Egyptian government to fully implement those rights and freedoms that are guaranteed in the new constitution for the benefit of the Egyptian people, and to take steps towards reconciliation.”

Kerry added that “the brave Egyptians who stood vigil in Tahrir Square did not risk their lives in a revolution to see its historic potential squandered in the transition.”

“They’ve weathered ups and downs, disappointment and setbacks in the years that followed, and they’re still searching for the promise of that revolution. They still know that the path forward to an inclusive, tolerant, and civilian-led democracy will require Egypt’s political leaders to make difficult compromises and seek a broad consensus on many divisive issues,” he said.

“Democracy is more than any one referendum or election. It is about equal rights and protections under the law for all Egyptians, regardless of their gender, faith, ethnicity, or political affiliation.”

Kerry said the U.S. government has “consistently expressed our serious concern about the limits on freedom of peaceful assembly and expression in Egypt, including leading up to the referendum, just as we expressed our concerns about the dangerous path Egypt’s elected government had chosen in the year that lead to 2013′s turbulence.”

He said they were using monitoring from the Carter Center and Democracy International to assess the fairness of the constitutional referendum and the “challenges ahead” including “Egypt’s polarized political environment, the absence of a fully inclusive process in drafting and debating the constitution ahead of the referendum, arrests of those campaigning against the constitution, and procedural violations during the referendum, such as campaigning in proximity to and inside polling stations and lack of ballot secrecy.”

“We strongly encourage the interim Egyptian government to take these concerns into account as preparations are made for presidential and parliamentary elections,” Kerry concluded. “The work that began in Tahrir Square must not end there. The interim government has committed repeatedly to a transition process that expands democratic rights and leads to a civilian-led, inclusive government through free and fair elections. Now is the time to make that commitment a reality and to ensure respect for the universal human rights of all Egyptians.”

Famed Actress Booted Out of Production for Endorsing Tea Party Candidate for Governor [The PJ Tatler]

Actress Maria Conchita Alonso is an anti-illegal immigration activist and fierce opponent of both the Castro brothers and the late Hugo Chavez. She has never hid her politics, appearing several times on Hannity and The O’Reilly Factor.

But Alonso’s endorsement of Tea Party candidate Tim Donnelly proved to be a bridge too far for San Francisco Latinos. After Alonso cut an ad with the colorful Donnelly, the local Hispanic community went ballistic. This led to Alonso being forced to quit a production of The Vagina Monologues that was set to open next month.

CBS San Francisco reports:

Donnelly has voiced strong views against illegal immigration and was once involved with the Minutemen Project, a group that patrolled the border with Mexico to catch immigrants coming across.

“Politicians and big government are killing our prosperity, pushing welfare costs through the roof and driving our schools into the ground,” Donnelly said in the ad.

Standing next to Donnelly, Alonso jokingly translated in Spanish, “We’re screwed.”

Alonso is an actress of Cuban and Venezuelan descent. She is perhaps best known for her role in the movie “Moscow on the Hudson” which also starred Robin Williams.

The actress was to perform next month at the Brava Theater Center in San Francisco’s Mission District in a Spanish-language version of “The Vagina Monologues,” scheduled for a run from February 14th through 17th. The show is being produced by none other than Eliana Lopez, wife of San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi.

“We really cannot have her in the show, unfortunately,” Lopez told KPIX 5. She said Alonso abruptly resigned from the cast on Friday, given the backlash on the immigration issue.

“Of course she has the right to say whatever she wants. But we’re in the middle of the Mission. Doing what she is doing is against what we believe,” Lopez said.

Oh, dear. We musn’t have that, must we? After all, there’s only one belief system among all Hispanics and if you don’t agree, good luck getting a job, sucker.

Alonso received an earful from listeners of Spanish-language radio station KIQI 1010 AM in San Francisco on Friday, after she said in an interview that she supported many of Donnelly’s views on illegal immigration. Several listeners took her to task after she used the term “illegal” to describe undocumented immigrants.

In the ad, Alonso holds a chihuahua named “Tequila” and uses some vulgar language which has also been a point of contention among some Latino viewers.

“We don’t act like that. First of all, that is not a typical Latina,” said Jim Salinas, a long time Mission resident and former president of the San Francisco Latino Democratic Club. Salinas said there probably would have been boycotts if Alonso had stayed on the production.

Liberal Hispanics tie themselves into knots trying to avoid saying what everyone in America knows; people who are in the U.S. without proper documentation are here illegally. I couldn’t care less if someone is “offended” by the truth. What does being offended have to do with the law? “Illegal” is the perfect word to describe those who broke the law to get here. Why mess with the English language except to obscure the truth?

Here’s the offending ad, which I find pretty clever, actually:

Click here to view the embedded video.

PJ Media’s J. Christian Adams Discusses NSA Reforms on Lou Dobbs Tonight [The PJ Tatler]

PJ Media’s Legal Editor J. Christian Adams appeared on Fox Business’s Lou Dobbs Tonight to talk about the Obama administration’s attitude about the rule of law and NSA reforms.


Last Chance to Stop Obamacare in Its Tracks: Prevent Insurance Company Bailout [The PJ Tatler]

Despite encouraging words from CMS and the administration on the numbers of young, healthy Americans vs. old, sicker Americans who have signed up for Obamacare policies, there is little cause for celebration by supporters of the law.

First, there is the “Obamacare number no one is talking about”:

When officials at the Department of Health and Human Services announced the most recent Obamacare enrollment figures earlier this week, they focused on one brag point amidst otherwise discouraging news about the program’s progress.

According to government tallies, 44.5 million people called or visited state and federal websites they said, presumably indicating broad interest in the new benefit.

But we also know that only 2.2 million people have signed up for Obamacare. Factoring in all of the professed web traffic, this would mean that the number of people who signed up (but didn’t necessarily pay) for an Obamacare health plan amounts to a conversion rate of less than 5% of the Obamacare web traffic.

And this is among consumers who had the patience to navigate the faulty Obamacare web portals.

This data strongly suggests that eligible consumers, who take the time to kick the tires on Obamacare, don’t like the products that they’re finding in the exchanges. They’re browsing, but not buying.

In the lexicon of the Internet, “conversion rate” amounts to the number of successful actions on a website (e.g. an e-commerce purchase) divided by the traffic to the site. Obamacare’s rate of converting web traffic into customers would place the program on par with the click through rates enjoyed by Internet banner ads, and well below sales figures on other e-commerce sites.

Considering the fact that most of the people who visited the exchange portals weren’t mere curiosity seekers (but are actually shopping for health insurance coverage) you get a sense how dismal these figures are.

The data suggest that the discrepancy between healthy and sick customers will continue, as those who have little or no need for insurance take a pass on Obamacare.

Not surprisingly, the problem is that the policies “were designed in Washington to suit political prerogatives rather than being designed in the marketplace to meet the demands of consumers.”

They’re laden down with costly mandates that leave the products too expensive. The plans try and make up for these costs by using narrow networks of cheap doctors and closed drug formularies. Despite the skinny networks, the plans still leave consumers with big premiums and deductibles. Washington managed to simultaneously degrade the coverage, and make it more expensive.

The bottom line: Insurance companies, already terrified at the “adverse selection” of consumers, may face huge losses in the marketplace.

How big? No one will know until July 2015, when the companies are supposed to report the numbers. But it’s important to note that the bailout program contained in Obamacare was really designed to help one or a couple of companies who ended up with an “adverse selection” problem so bad that they lost a lot of money.

From a Washington Examiner
editorial:

It’s worth keeping in mind, however, that the risk corridors program was intended to help any given insurer that was stuck with a disproportionate percentage of individuals with high medical claims. It wasn’t meant for a scenario in which there are massive industrywide losses.

In such a case, the taxpayer exposure could be huge. Under the program, if an insurer’s losses are 103 percent to 108 percent over the target amount, the federal government would absorb half of those losses — and for losses that exceed 108 percent, the government would cover 80 percent.

Seeing the potential danger of this program, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., in November introduced legislation to repeal it before it puts taxpayers on the hook. Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Ark., proposed companion legislation in the House. Industry lobbyists are already gearing up for a fight. Buzzfeed obtained talking points from Blue Cross Blue Shield Association CEO Scott Serota sent to the company’s members, warning that repealing the program “jeopardizes the entire private health insurance market and will ultimately lead to a single-payer system.”

But Republicans shouldn’t be cowed by such transparently self-serving industry scare tactics. Pursuing repeal is a win-win for conservatives and for the country.

You can bet those “target amounts” are very generous and would cause the risk corridor feature to kick in with minimal losses by the companies.

There are dozens of insurance companies participating in state exchanges. Assuming most, if not all, lose money, the bailout could be billions of dollars. Halting a bailout before it gets started may force most companies to abandon the Obamacare exchanges because they will be unable to jack up next year’s premiums high enough to avoid losing even more money.

There is probably a threshold under which the number of companies participating would make the entire program collapse. What if some states had no companies offering plans at all? That’s a scenario that would stop Obamacare in its tracks and force massive revisions, if not a de facto repeal.

There has been talk of including an anti-bailout provision with the debt ceiling bill. This is an excellent idea in that at the very least, it would force Democrats and the president to defend bailing out billion dollar companies due to their own incompetence. In truth, Democrats probably won’t even consider the change. And any actual bailout won’t occur until next year, after the midterms.

But it will be worth it just to watch the Democrats squirm as they simultaneously take the GOP to task for favoring “inequality” and the rich, while defending large corporations who will receive a massive bailout courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer.

Obamacare Doc Reveals ‘Drop Dead’ Date for Back End Fixes [The PJ Tatler]

Apparently, Obamacare is in a lot bigger trouble than anyone has let on — or anyone has imagined.

A document given to the contractor who replaced CGI in December shows how truly desperate is the position of the government.

Accenture has been tasked with finishing the construction of the healthcare.gov website — specifically, the back end of the site which will allow the transfer of subsidies directly to insurance companies.

The document makes it clear that the reason CGI was let go was because the government had no confidence that the company could affect the changes necessary to get the payment system up and running in time to avoid disaster.

The Hill reports:

The document said officials realized in December that the need to bring on Accenture was so urgent that there was no time to go through the “full and open competition process” before awarding them with a $91 million contract.

“There is limited time to build this functionality and failure to deliver…by mid-March 2014 will result in financial harm to the government,” the document says.

“If this functionality is not complete by mid-March 2014, the government could make erroneous payments to providers and insurers,” it continues. “Additionally, without a Financial Management platform that accounts for enrollments and associated program costs that integrates with the existing CMS Accounting platform, the entire healthcare reform program is jeopardized.”

Not completing the job on time may also result in harm to insurance companies:

Many of those who have signed up for ObamaCare are eligible for federal subsidies, which the government pays directly to the insurers. The document says that failure to complete the project by mid-March could result in “inaccurate issuance of payments to health plans which could seriously put them at financial risk; potentially leading to their default and disrupting continued services and coverage to consumers.”

On Thursday, Gary Cohen, the director of Medicare’s Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, told the House Energy and Commerce Oversight Subcommittee that the government would start paying insurers as soon as next week based on estimates of the federal subsidies owed to them.

Cohen said that “because we don’t have full functionality” of the website that the government was using a workaround, and that the automated payment system would be ready “in the next months.”

While Cohen did not give a timetable for the project, he said that a stopgap system would pay insurers next week based on calculations of what they are owed.

However, the back-end problems extend beyond federal subsidy payments. According to the document, the system is vulnerable to “inaccurate forecasting” of the risk mitigation programs in place to pay insurers who enroll a higher-than-expected number of sick patients with expensive bills, “potentially putting the entire health insurance industry at risk.”

By mid-March, Accenture must build a financial management platform that tracks eligibility and enrollment transactions, accounts for subsidy payments to insurance plans, “provides stable and predictable financial accounting and outlook for the entire program,” and that integrates with existing CMS and IRS systems.

Accenture will also have to clean up some aspects of the project that CGI failed to complete, such as the notorious 834 enrollment transmissions to insurance companies that in October and November were transmitting inaccurate and garbled data.

The government is going to guesstimate subsidies, which may lead to overpayment or underpayment to insurance companies. Apparently, they are going to leave it up to the IRS to determine if insurance companies are owed money, or whether the companies must refund the government.

Sounds like another disaster waiting to happen.

Open Thread: Who Needs A Land Line? [The PJ Tatler]

Sooo 20th Century.

As I was hooking up a new phone in my living room, the kind where you plug a jack into the wall, I wondered why I was holding onto what had largely become a relic. It rarely rings, and even when it does, it’s usually the dentist or a robocaller.

Could my family do without it, much like the 38.2 percent of households that the government estimates use wireless phones alone? How reliable is wireless 911 now? And is there any big difference between the landline services offered by traditional carriers and by cable companies?

These are all questions I had only vague answers to, so I wanted to investigate whether the $900 or so annually we spent on a traditional land line was justified.

I was surprised that the number was only 38.2 percent. I haven’t had one in six years, I believe. Phone bills are a great place for cities and states to nickel and dime you to death with taxes so I figured I would rather pay for one phone than two. I do understand why some people who work a lot from home have them.

But I don’t understand why my mom does.

Surprise! 7 of the 10 Worst States to Retire In Have Been Run by Libs for Years [The PJ Tatler]

Not the Number One you want to be, California.

The Golden State could be a fool’s gold choice for your golden years. Except for Social Security benefits, retirement income is fully taxed, and California imposes the highest state income tax rates in the nation (the top rate is a substantial 13.3%). The state sales tax of 7.5% — a temporary hike from 7.25% that’s set to expire in 2016 — is also daunting. The sales tax can reach as high as 10% in certain cities and counties that collect additional local taxes. It’s no wonder why California ranks so high among the top ten tax-unfriendly places for retirees.

Upside? I’ll never be able to afford to retire anyway.

Media Bias Primer 101: Duck Dynasty Season Premiere Edition [The PJ Tatler]

When it comes to bias from the MSM, it isn’t always what is said but often what isn’t. For example, look at these headlines regarding this past Wednesday’s season premiere of the show:

TV Line: Ratings: Duck Dynasty Premiere Down Sharply

Huffington Post: ‘Duck Dynasty’ Ratings Are Down Dramatically From Last Season

Talking Points Memo: Ratings Plummet For ‘Duck Dynasty’ Season Premiere After Star’s Gay-Bashing Interview

All, of course, mention the Phil Robertson interview to imply that there was a definite cause and effect in play.

It is true, the numbers were down sharply from last season’s premiere. Here is one tiny fact that none mentioned: last season’s Duck Dynasty premiere was the highest rated nonfiction series broadcast in cable history.

Oh, one other little salient point not noted in any of the three (there were more articles/posts I could have added but I felt three examples would suffice) is that the Duck Dynasty premiere easily won the ratings battle that night.

The way the lefties set this up was clear: if Duck Dynasty didn’t break it’s own record and have the best night in cable ever, Phil’s interview ruined the show. This is easy to do if no other context than last year’s number was provided.

While it may have been a big percentage drop, are they really in trouble with an 8.5 million viewers premiere? Here is more context: the much anticipated final season premiere of Breaking Bad drew 5.9 million.

The Robertsons are fine.

Could Cellphone Cases Help Justin Bieber? [The Volokh Conspiracy]

(Jonathan H. Adler)

Jess Bravin has a report that could be of great interest to the VC readership’s Belieber contingent:

The justices Friday agreed to decide when searching a cellphone requires a warrant—the very kind of evidence that Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies believe could link the “Believe” singer to the egging of a neighbor’s house.

Deputies searched Mr. Bieber’s Calabasas, Calif., house on Tuesday and seized his iPhone, among other items. The device could contain photos or video related to the egging, authorities think.

But Sgt. Ernie Masson, reached at the sheriff’s Malibu/Lost Hills station, said that while deputies had a search warrant for the Bieber house, he could not say whether it specifically covered the phone.

 

Conservatives Adopt Progressive Priorities [The Volokh Conspiracy]

(Timothy Sandefur, guest-blogging)

Progressive constitutional doctrine underwent some interesting changes in the middle of the twentieth century. One was the return of liberty-based concerns in jurisprudence, and the repudiation of some of the more extreme Progressive democracy-based legal decisions. This is most notable in West Virginia Bd. of Ed. v. Barnette, which held that school children could not be compelled to salute the flag, and overruled Minersville School District v. Gobitis only three years after the earlier decision had allowed schools to require this. Then in cases like Griswold, the Court recognized a right to privacy which ultimately barred the state from intruding into the bedroom. Justifying this right to privacy was difficult for Progressives, since doing so ran counter to democracy. Witness the fight between Justices Douglas and Black in Griswold. Black rightly argues that Douglas is reviving Lochner, but Douglas tries weakly to evade that accusation by taking shelter in weird language of “emanations” and “penumbras.” But the trend had begun of liberal justices reinjecting liberty considerations into some aspects of their jurisprudence, ultimately a healthy development, whatever its shortcomings.

What’s more interesting to me is how conservatives responded by making the Progressive theory of judicial restraint their own. They saw decisions like Griswold as disruptive to traditional values and social structures, and as rooted in abstract conceptions of justice of which good Burkean gradualists are always suspicious. But that gradualism combined with the primacy of democracy meant moral relativism.

Chief Justice William Rehnquist, for example, argued that there is “no basis other than the individual conscience of the citizen that may serve as a platform for the launching of moral judgments,” and “no conceivable way in which I can logically demonstrate to you that the judgments of my conscience are superior to the judgments of your conscience, and vice versa.” This meant that when the majority enacts laws, it aggregates the people’s subjective preferences—which then become both morally right and legally valid. “The laws that emerge after a typical political struggle in which various individual value judgments are debated,” he wrote, “take on a form of moral goodness because they have been enacted into positive law.” But it is only “the fact of their enactment that gives them whatever moral claim they have upon us…not any independent virtue they may have.”

Note how this reverses the principles of the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration holds that there are moral truths rooted in universal human nature; these are not matters of choice any more than are the laws of economics or the rules of a healthy diet—lawmakers are confined within them, and the laws they make take on a form of goodness only if they consist with those principles. The fact of their enactment is actually essentially irrelevant to the moral claim they have upon us, because a command is not, and cannot be, normative. (A command to do a wrong thing, for instance, does not thereby cease to be a command—whereas a purported moral rule to do a wrong thing ceases thereby to be a moral rule.) Yet while the Declaration provides that states may only do things “which Independent States may of right do,” Rehnquist’s formulation reverses this: the will of the majority is not only presumptively valid, but the very definition and source of morality; it creates moral law, so that states determine what individuals may, of right, do.

Probably the most influential conservative critic of judicial activism was Robert Bork, who explicitly denounced the Declaration and wholeheartedly embraced the Progressive critique of the judiciary in The Tempting of America. The Constitution’s “Madisonian system,” he claimed, provides that “in wide areas of life majorities are entitled to rule, if they wish, simply because they are majorities.” This was, of course, the exact reverse of Madison’s actual beliefs; Madison held that nobody is ever “entitled” to rule—and certainly not on account merely of them being majorities. Instead, rulers are authorized to rule, and only within the preexisting rights of individuals.

But while Bork claimed to recognize that courts have a duty to protect the individual against the majority, he provided no recipe for doing so, and he believed individual liberties should be strictly limited to those specified in the Bill of Rights. True, the Ninth Amendment declares that this is the wrong way to read the Constitution: it says that the fact that some rights are specified must not be interpreted to deny the existence or importance of other rights. But Bork tried to dodge the import of the Ninth Amendment by claiming, falsely, that there is “almost no history that would indicate what the ninth amendment was intended to accomplish,” and even likening that Amendment to an “inkblot.” Actually, Madison, Hamilton, and others wrote at length about what that Amendment meant, making clear that it was intended to ensure that nobody would think the Bill of Rights specifies all the rights that people possess.

Bork’s rejection of the idea that rights precede the state and limit its powers is rooted in moral agnosticism. “There is no principled way to decide that one man’s gratifications are more deserving of respect than another’s or that one form of gratification is more worthy of another,” he writes.

There is no way of deciding these matters other than by reference to some system of moral or ethical values that has no objective or intrinsic validity of its own and about which men can and do differ…. The issue of the community’s moral and ethical values, the issue of the degree of pain an activity causes, are matters concluded by the passage and enforcement of the laws in question. The judiciary has no role to play other than that of applying the statutes in a fair and impartial manner.

Thus, despite his reputation for moralistic conservatism, Bork was actually a relativist: the majority has unlimited freedom to adopt its (entirely subjective) moral preferences as law, and to impose those preferences on others. There is no way to judge the rightness or wrongness of the majority’s decisions in this matter, because the fact that a majority has adopted something just makes it right.

This argument was an updated version of the wolf’s view of political authority: legislative majorities have a basic right to do what they want to the citizen and the product of his labor, and those protections that are accorded to individual rights are only matters of legislative grace. In fact, Bork indignantly rejected Justice Harry Blackmun’s statement in his Bowers dissent that individual rights are protected because “a person belongs to himself and not others nor to society as a whole.” Such “extreme individualism,” Bork contended, would lead to a world in which “society may make no moral judgments that are translated into law.” Thomas Jefferson wrote that each of us is “made for ourselves,” and that it would be “slavery” to “suppose that a man had less right in himself than one of his neighbors or indeed all of them put together,” but in Bork’s view, the notion that each person belongs to himself and not to society as a whole “can hardly be taken seriously.” Nobody, he wrote, “should act on the principle that a ‘person belongs to himself and not to others.’ No citizen should take the view that no part of him belongs to ‘society as a whole.’”

The confusion between the state’s protection of rights on one hand, and its creation of “rights” (i.e., privileges) on the other, becomes clear when we ask whether the state creates, say, a woman’s right not to be raped. According to the positivist argument, a woman has no fundamental human right not to be raped; her so-called private or voluntary sphere is only a creation of law and hardly voluntary. Without the criminal laws against rape, or legal rules relating to marriage, divorce, and child-rearing, and the regulation of contraceptives, maternity care, or abortion, the relationship between men and women would not be what it now is. Indeed, it would be extremely difficult to figure out what that relationship might be, if it would exist in recognizable form at all. If a woman wants the right not to be raped, then according to this argument, she must advance and justify that right/privilege in a public forum. The state might give her that right by promulgating and enforcing rules against rape, but only if the lawmakers—who stand in a superior position to her, not in a position of equality—choose to create such a realm of freedom for her.

This example might appear extreme. But it is what Bork endorsed. In a democracy, he argued, the majority has a boundless power to outlaw whatever conduct it finds objectionable, including conduct that takes place in private, harms nobody, and is not witnessed or overheard by anyone else. This is because all law is simply the enforcement of the majority’s subjective and irrational prejudices. Just knowing that some activity is taking place and being “outraged” by it entitles the majority to proscribe that activity. Presumably, this would even include criminalizing private religious beliefs—because “[a] change in the moral environment…may surely be felt to be as harmful as the possibility of physical violence.” But it certainly would include rape, because laws relating to rape are also based on irrational emotional impulses: “[t]here is, indeed, no objection to forcible rape in the home…except a moral objection,” and morality has “no objective or intrinsic validity.”

Thus while Bork claimed to recognize a “moral distinction between forcible rape and consenting sexual activity between adults,” such a distinction was only his personal idiosyncrasy. There is “no objectively ‘correct’ hierarchy” of ethical values, and therefore “no way to decide” whether “sexual gratification [is] more worthy than moral gratification.” So we must “put such issues to a vote,” and “the majority morality prevails.” That, of course, means that a woman’s right not to be raped is only a subjective preference—and one the majority may override at will.

So, notwithstanding Bork’s belief that there is a difference between rape and consensual sex, “the subject for discussion is not my morality…. If a majority of my fellow citizens decide that [rape and consensual sex], while not alike, are nevertheless similar enough so that both actions should be made criminal,” then one must comply with that decision regardless of one’s own opinion; “while I may disagree…it is in the polling booth that my moral views count.” Obviously it would follow from the same premises that the majority may also permit rape by revoking a woman’s rights/privileges. Women would then need to resort to the ballot box to request that protection—assuming the majority sees fit to give them the right/privilege to vote.

We see here the horrifying consequences that follow from the notion that rights are benefits created by the state. That contention empties the word “right” of any real content, and replaces it with a permission extended by the superior state to the inferior individual, when and how the state chooses.

The founding fathers were familiar with this argument, and they rejected it. John Locke, the intellectual progenitor of the American Revolution, is most famous for his Second Treatise of Civil Government, passages of which Jefferson paraphrased in the Declaration. But in his First Treatise, Locke had focused on refuting the arguments of Robert Filmer, a monarchist whose view of rights was remarkably similar to modern positivism. Filmer claimed that government owns citizens, and that it may give them rights or withhold rights from them whenever it sees fit. So, Locke asked in his rejoinder, can princes also eat their subjects? If we recognize that rights are not just government-created permissions, we also can recognize that there are limits on what government may justly do to us. But Rehnquist and Bork held that government comes first, and that it gives people freedom when it wills, and for its own purposes. Their argument, as Locke said, lies in a little compass, and it is this: that all government is absolute monarchy, and the ground they build on is this: that no man is born free.

Did Judge Martin Retire Because He Was Under Investigation? – UPDATED [The Volokh Conspiracy]

(Jonathan H. Adler)

Last July, Judge Boyce Martin announced his retirement from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.  Tonight, TPM reports that Martin made his decision “under a cloud of accusations that he had racked up nearly $140,000 in ‘questionable travel expenses.’”

The details came out in a decision filed by five members of a federal panel on judicial conduct. The decision was in response to a petition filed by Boyce in August asking that his name be kept confidential and that his case not be referred to the Justice Department. Both requests were denied. . . .

Before the investigation could go any further, according to Friday’s decision, Martin submitted his letter of resignation to President Obama. Because of that, the court investigators halted their inquiry and never reached a conclusion about the expenses. . . .

In its decision, the panel wrote that the court’s efforts to disclose Martin’s name and refer his case to the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section were appropriate under federal rules.

UPDATE: A spokesperson for Judge Martin e-mails to note that Judge Martin had offered to repay all travel reimbursements he had received over the relevant period, not merely those that were in question.  This is the source of the $138,500 figure.  The spokesperson did not identify the value of those reimbursements that were in question, however.  According to the ruling, Judge Martin offered to repay this amount in three installments between June and August 2013, but only the first two payments were ever received.

For those interested in more details on this case, here is yesterday’s ruling and a prior ruling in the matter.  Former Sixth Circuit clerk Josh Blackman has also posted a handy timeline of relevant events.

SECOND UPDATE: According to Judge Martin’s spokesperson, he had sent a check to pay the third installment when it was due.  As this payment appears not to have been received by the court, he has sent a new payment to cover the final installment.

Empire State Building Owners Sue Photographer for Taking Topless Photograph on the 86th Floor Observatory [The Volokh Conspiracy]

(Eugene Volokh)

See the complaint, and a New York Daily News story:

Empire State Building management has filed a $1.1 million lawsuit against photographer Allen Henson for taking pictures of a topless woman at the skyscraper’s packed 86th floor observatory in August.

Here’s one of the photos, which I imagine originally didn’t contain the black rectangle; the Daily News story has more.

The owners’ theory is that the photographer (Allen Henson) is guilty of tortious trespass, for which the owners seek $100,000 compensatory damages and $1 million punitive damages. But while I sympathize with their disapproval of the photographer’s behavior — to quote the complaint, “[i]n order to continue to attract visitors, including families, to the Building and the Observatory, … ESB has to maintain both the image and the fact that the Building and the Observatory are … [an] appropriate place for families and tourists” — I just don’t see how their theory is sound.

It’s true that a property owner can allow people onto its property only on the condition that they behave in a particular way, and exceeding this consent might constitute tortious trespass. To quote the Restatement (Second) of Torts § 168, “A conditional or restricted consent to enter land creates a privilege to do so only in so far as the condition or restriction is complied with.” But, according to the Complaint itself, no such condition was clearly expressed to visitors. The Complaint says,

The admission ticket for the Observatory states, in pertinent part, that ESB “may refuse admission or expel any person whose conduct is objectionable.”

But that, on its face, simply reserves ESB’s right to kick people out, or not let them in. It doesn’t purport to legally limit the scope of visitors’ conduct, especially since the word “objectionable” is so vague that it can’t be understood as anything other than “We can kick you out if we don’t like what you’re doing.” Then the Complaint says,

In addition, ESB has specific rules that it requires commercial photographers and filmmakers to follow in order to apply for and obtain permission from ESB to use the Building and the Observatory in commercial film and photo shoots. As set forth on the section of ESB’s official website titled “Film & Photo Shoots”:

The Empire State Building receives requests to use its trademarked image in films and photo shoots throughout the year.

We will consider requests that:
• Showcase ESB positively, respectfully and responsibly
• Feature ESB, and not just views/skyline shots from its Observatory

To request permission for filming or a photo session, please submit the following information:
• Film I production company
• Contact name, title …

But the Complaint doesn’t claim that these rules were made known to Henson. And while commercial use of the building’s trademarks might be trademark infringement even without notice to the user, the photos shown in the Daily News article don’t, in my view, infringe the building’s trademarks or even use them. (Indeed, the owners didn’t claim trademark infringement in their complaint.) So it seems that the trademark use policy wouldn’t even apply to Henson’s behavior.

Indeed, if the Building owners were right in their legal analysis, they could sue people for $1.1 million not just for taking topless photos, but for taking any photos that are seen as “objectionable,” or that don’t “[s]howcase ESB positively [and] respectfully.” The Building owners might be able to impose such obligations on visitors, for instance by requiring all visitors to specifically agree to them (and defining the obligations more precisely). But the general policies they mention in the Complaint don’t, I think, impose any such general obligations as to conduct such as Henson’s.

Note that whether property owners can ban female toplessness from a place of public accommodation if they don’t ban male toplessness would be an interesting question of public accommodation discrimination law. I’m inclined to say that, just as many courts have concluded that Title VII’s ban on sex discrimination in employment doesn’t necessarily preclude different dress codes for male and female employees, courts might conclude likewise as to public accommodation antidiscrimination law and different nudity prohibitions for male and female visitors; but it’s not clear. It’s also not clear whether the Building owners do have different rules for men and women; they might prohibit male toplessness, too. (Compare People v. Santorelli (1992), which held that female toplessness in public isn’t generally illegal in New York, but avoided reaching the Equal Protection Clause challenge to the statute involved there.)

UPDATE: Words from the photographer, in the Village Voice:

“I don’t know,” [Henson] told the Voice, thoughtfully. “I would really like to take this seriously, but it just feels like somebody got drunk last night and said, ‘Fuck it, let’s sue him for a million dollars.’”

How 3D printing could revolutionize manufacturing [PCWorld]

One day a 3D printer, using a mix of materials, will be able to create body armor for U.S. soldiers that is more lightweight and stronger than anything could be made with traditional manufacturing and materials today.

That’s the word from researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, who are working to revolutionize 3D printing, as well as the way that companies build products ranging from jet engines and satellites to football helmets.

Scientists at the laboratory, a federally funded center in Livermore, California, that focuses on national security research, are working on architecting new materials to be used in a process called additive manufacturing, more commonly known as 3D printing, and developing a technique for building multiple materials into the same product.

They’re also studying the physics and chemistry at the base of the process in order to better understand how manufactured parts will stand up to conditions such as heat and stress, so they can predict a product’s behaviors and performance.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Are bitcoin's chances of acceptance getting better? [PCWorld]

Many countries are still grappling with the issues of crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin, of which there are at least 70. China’s central bank, for example, has ordered financial institutions to halt Bitcoin-related services and products.

With the value of Bitcoin increasing to more than $1000 this month after social gaming firm Zynga said it would begin accepting the virtual currency as payment, the question is: can crypto-currencies can become real currency?

From the perspective of the Reserve Bank in New Zealand, crypto-currencies are not currency, or more specifically not legal tender. They are payment systems.

A bank representative says the consistent message emerging from central banks and governments around the world is:

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

How Intel is buying, building a piece of the tablet market [PCWorld]

Intel has an ambitious goal for 2014: get its Atom chips into 40 million tablets, or four times the number of tablets that had Intel inside in 2013. But rather than do it by tailoring its products to what tablets now demand, the cash-rich company has another plan: pay tablet makers to use its chips.

That’s essentially what Intel is doing through a program first disclosed at its financial analyst meeting in November. Intel will pay tablet makers to cover the additional component costs of using its Bay Trail chips instead of ARM-based processors, and it will also help cover the engineering costs of designing an Intel tablet.

The Intel division that makes Bay Trail will incur a “significant increase” in its operating loss to pay for the plan, CFO Stacy Smith said at the November meeting, but the upshot is likely to be a lot more tablets based on Intel chips, potentially even from big players like Samsung.

”Basically, they’re making an investment to make up for them being slow to get into the market,” said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Mobile devices become launchpads for DDoS attacks [PCWorld]

An increasing number of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks against businesses are coming from mobile devices, according to Prolexic Technologies.

The American-based DDoS protection firm released data from its fourth quarter 2013 report that suggests mobile applications have and will continue to play a more expansive role in such attacks.

The report gathered data from attacks against Prolexic’s clients and showed that one international financial services firm fell victim to such an attack. Subsequent digital forensics and attack signature analysis by the company detected the use of AnDOSid, an Android app that can mount an HTTP POST flood attack. The company has described the increase in such attacks as a game changer and accredits the increase to the availability of downloadable apps and the ease which users can join DDoS campaigns. The company also said it expected to see an increasing number of such attacks in the coming year.

Prolexic president Stuart Scholly said he believes that applications commonly used in DDoS attacks like Low Orbit Ion Canon (LOIC) will increasingly become ported to mobile platforms in 2014.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Starbucks app teaches users to check security, experts say [PCWorld]

The weak protections for customer data in Starbucks’ mobile-payment app is a “wakeup call” for consumers who should never assume the apps they use in their smartphones are secure.

Starbucks acknowledged this week that its app stores usernames, email addresses, and passwords in clear text. As a result, anyone could see the information by connecting the phone to a PC.

Choose ease over security

Starbucks chose not to encrypt the data and store it on its servers in order to make the app easier to use. Taking the additional security measures would have meant having the user logon each time they used the app. By storing the data in clear text on the phone, users only had to login once, until they added more money to their account.

”The recent news that the Starbucks mobile app is not adequately protecting usernames and passwords should be a wakeup call for us—both as mobile consumers and employees,” said Jack Walsh, mobility program manager at software testing and certification firm ICSA Labs. “No one should assume that their company’s mobile apps are safe and properly secure sensitive employee or customer data.”

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

The smartest cars may need 5G networks, Ericsson says [PCWorld]

Some of the most futuristic features envisioned in networked cars will depend on 5G mobile technology that probably won’t be available in full until 2020, according to Ericsson’s chief technology officer.

There’s a bright future for cellular in cars, according to Ulf Ewaldsson, who is the mobile gear vendor’s senior vice president and chief technology officer and head of Group Function Technology. He spoke with IDG News Service following a big automotive push by Ericsson at International CES earlier this month. Among other things, the company showed off its CVC (Connected Vehicle Cloud), designed to deliver applications in a car for information, entertainment, making service appointments and other needs. Ericsson announced partnerships with both a carrier (AT&T) and a carmaker (Volvo).

ulf ewaldsson ericsson

Ulf Ewaldsson

But more advanced networked-car visions, up to and including self-driving cars, will rely on capabilities that Ericsson sees coming in the as-yet-undefined 5G technology that will augment today’s 4G networks, Ewaldsson said. Ericsson and others are already talking about what to include in 5G, but Ericsson has said it expects commercial deployments of the future specification starting in 2020.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Six more US retailers attacked like Target, security firm says [PCWorld]

Cybercriminals have stolen payment card data from six more U.S. retailers using similar point-of-sale malware that compromised Target, a computer crime intelligence company said Friday.

The conclusion comes from a study of members-only forums where cybercriminals buy and sell data and malicious software tools, said Dan Clements, president of IntelCrawler, which conducted the analysis.

The retailers have not been publicly named, but IntelCrawler is providing technical information related to the breaches to law enforcement, Clements said in a telephone interview Friday.

Hackers' tools determined

IntelCrawler has also identified a 17-year-old Russian who it says created the BlackPOS malware, which intercepts unencrypted payment card data after a card is swiped. Security experts believe malware based on BlackPOS was used against Target.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

The car of your dreams: The best concepts from NAIAS 2014 in Detroit [PCWorld]

Hydrogen-powered. Three-wheeled. Gesture-controlled. The concept cars we saw at NAIAS in Detroit were all some kind of crazy, but don't be surprised if you see something like them in the near future.

10 classic films to stream for free on Crackle [PCWorld]

From works by legendary directors to films featuring Oscar-nominated acting performances, these ten streaming movies are worth your time and more than worth their low cost of zero dollars.

Some tech firms say Obama's surveillance plan is thin on details [PCWorld]

The tech industry gave a mixed reaction Friday to President Obama’s proposed government surveillance reforms, with some saying his plan for curtailing abuse left either glossed-over details or was unclear.

The president on Friday proposed a series of reforms to the National Security Agency’s surveillance methods, as part of an effort to strike a better balance between privacy and national security.

”We’re concerned that the President didn’t address the most glaring reform needs,” Mozilla said in a statement.

The Firefox browser maker raised a point made by others: Although the plans include assigning new privacy advocates to a surveillance court, and a shift away from the NSA’s bulk-phone-records-collection program, they fall short of recommendations made by Obama’s own review panel.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

The Hinderaker-Ward Experience, Episode 63: Gilligan, Drugs, and Other Important Matters, With Steve Hayward [Power Line]

(John Hinderaker)

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Steve Hayward joined Brian Ward and me this morning to analyze the great issues of the day:

Steve Hayward With A Little More Hair

Steve Hayward With A Little More Hair

* the death of actor Russell Johnson and the enduring life of Gilligan’s Island

* the Chris Christie “Bridge-gate” scandal, how things look the week after the storm

* Barack Obama’s proposed reforms for NSA data gathering on American citizens

* legalized marijuana in Steve Hayward’s current state of residence, Colorado

* the proposed Meryl Streep anti-NRA movie

* Loon of the Week (Minneapolis mayor squares the circle on polar vortices and climate change) and This Week in Gatekeeping (when “Fun Facts” break bad)

You can listen to the podcast by playing it right here, or you can go to Ricochet to download or subscribe to the podcast in various ways, or you can subscribe on iTunes or elsewhere. Or you can use Stitcher. There are many ways to experience the Hinderaker-Ward Experience, but I think the best is by subscribing on iTunes. That way, you never have to worry about missing an episode.

We were sponsored this week by Encounter Books and, in particular, Glenn Reynolds’s new book, The New School.

NewSchool098

Why Don’t We Merge These Disasters and Call It “ClimateCare”? [Power Line]

(Steven Hayward)

Or the “Affordable Climate Act”?

Two stories from the Wall Street Journal this morning gild my two posts from the last few days about what happens to liberal dreams when this thing called “reality” intrudes.  First:

Exchanges See Little Progress on Uninsured

Early signals suggest the majority of the 2.2 million people who sought to enroll in private insurance through new marketplaces through Dec. 28 were previously covered elsewhere, raising questions about how swiftly this part of the health overhaul will be able to make a significant dent in the number of uninsured.

Insurers, brokers and consultants estimate at least two-thirds of those consumers previously bought their own coverage or were enrolled in employer-backed plans. . .

Only 11% of consumers who bought new coverage under the law were previously uninsured, according to a McKinsey & Co. survey of consumers thought to be eligible for the health-law marketplaces. . .  One reason for people declining to purchase plans was affordability.

We shouldn’t be surprised that something called the “Affordable Care Act” would be anything but.  And the number of uninsured Americans is now likely higher because of this law.

Story number 2:

EU Climate Targets to Stop Short of Ambitions

The European Union’s self-styled reputation as an environmental crusader is likely to take a bruising next week, when it will publish climate and energy goals expected to fall short of those demanded by some of its member states. . .  The EU looks set to join industrialized nations such as Canada and Japan in reining in its green aspirations.

So let’s tally this up: we have a health care policy and a climate policy both falling short of “ambitions.”  And for the exact same reason: reality just won’t conform to the will of liberalism.  Darn reality anyway.  Why don’t we just combine climate and health care policy into one big hairy policy, with a single “czar”?   Oh, wait, we already have that: It’s called the “Obama Administration.”

The Week in Pictures: Aging Boomers Edition [Power Line]

(Steven Hayward)

News yesterday was that Michelle Obama had received her AARP (Angry Advocates for Rapacious Pensioners) membership card in the mail, and I had a momentary flash of hope that the Obamas might be considering early retirement.  Nope: she turned 50, and the White House is throwing a big birthday party for her.  Now is Michelle a “baby boomer”?  The demographic cutoff has always struck me as somewhat arbitrary, but given the Millennialism of the Obamas’ worldview, it’s very tempting to kick them out regardless of the guidelines, and leave us baby boomers alone to our patented brand of self-indulgence.  Then, too, I came across the photo below of what MacGyver looks like today; not even Patti and Selma would swoon over him any more.

Old Boomers copy

Funky Music copy

How MacGyver has fallen. . .

How MacGyver has fallen. . .

With fond memories of Russell Johnson...and the rest.

With fond memories of Russell Johnson…and the rest.

This one's a trivia quiz.  Let's see who knows the reference.  (The answer is in VCh. 1 of The Age of Reagan, Vol. 2)

This one’s a trivia quiz. Let’s see who knows the reference. (The answer is in VCh. 1 of The Age of Reagan, Vol. 2)

This, apparently, was a real ad.

This, apparently, was a real ad.

Greatest. Rickroll. Ever.

Greatest. Rickroll. Ever.

Miley Cyrus copyFat copy

Wife of the Year copy

Breakfast copy

Gay Pot copy

French Army Knife copy

Fast Einstein copy

PJ Boy Sugar copy

Media Protects Obama copy

Obama Christie Blame copy

Christie Road Closed copy

Obama Built to Last copy

Obama v Founders copy

Tax Sunlight copy

Liberal Quaranteen copy

Nietschean Bear copy

Bear Kills copy

Vote Odin copy

And finally. . .

Hot 104 copy

 

What were once vices are now Dem priority [Power Line]

(Scott Johnson)

Kimberly Strassel’s weekly Wall Street Journal column “IRS targeting and 2014″ is something of a bombshell. As Mark Tapscott explains, Strassel reports that keeping the IRS “muzzle in place” for 2014 was Obama’s top priority during negotiations with House Republicans on the just-passed omnibus spending bill. The vehicle for keeping the muzzle in place is the recently proposed IRS rule that proscribes all kinds of educational activities that 501(c)(4) non-profits have routinely conducted.

In other words, the Obama administration seeks to achieve legally by regulation in 2014 what it achieved illegally by agents acting under orders in the 2012 election cycle. What were once vices are now to become the law.

They are certainly a Democratic priority. With the proposed IRS regulation on the table in the recent omnibus budget negotiations, Democrats sacrificed other items on their wish list to preserve the IRS regulation:

It’s IRS targeting all over again, only this time by administration design and with the raw political goal—as House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R., Mich.) notes—of putting “tea party groups out of business.”

Congressional sources tell me that House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R., Ky.) had two priorities in the omnibus negotiations. One was getting in protection for groups that morally oppose ObamaCare’s contraception-coverage requirement. The other was language that would put a hold on the IRS rule.

The White House and Senate Democrats had their own wish list, including an increase in funding for the International Monetary Fund, the president’s prekindergarten program and more ObamaCare dollars.

Yet my sources say that throughout the negotiations Democrats went all in on keeping the IRS rule, even though it meant losing their own priorities. In the final hours before the omnibus was introduced Monday night, the administration made a last push for IMF money. Asked to negotiate that demand in the context of new IRS language, it refused.

Strassel implicitly concedes that IRS targeting in the 2012 election cycle was not “by administration design.” It seems to me that her column equally supports the inference that the IRS targeting was by administration design the first time around. This time around they mean to regularize it.

Strassel observes that the 90-day comment period on the proposed IRS regulation ends on February 27, positioning the administration to shut down conservative groups early in this election cycle. Strassel leaves hanging the question why Republicans didn’t join issue with the Democrats on this point. One wants to shout: Get a clue, guys!

Our friend Cleta Mitchell makes a cameo appearance in Strassel’s column:

Treasury is also going to great lengths to keep secret the process behind its rule. Cleta Mitchell, an attorney who represents targeted tea party groups, in early December filed a Freedom of Information Act request with Treasury and the IRS, demanding documents or correspondence with the White House or outside groups in the formulation of this rule. By law, the government has 30 days to respond. Treasury sent a letter to Ms. Mitchell this week saying it wouldn’t have her documents until April—after the rule’s comment period closes. It added that if she didn’t like it, she can “file suit.” The IRS has yet to respond.

Read Strassel’s column here.

Quotations from Co-Chairman Keith [Power Line]

(Scott Johnson)

Keith Ellison represents Minnesota’s Fifth District in Congress. He proudly identifies himself first and foremost as the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. With a little help from Karen Hunter (as he notes in the Acknowledgements), he has now written the memoir cum manifesto My Country ‘Tis of Thee: My Faith, My Family, Our Future. Ellison writes in chapter 14 (“What’s the Matter With Congress?”):

Some media outlets are not disseminating news but are replacing news with opinion and entertainment. Others focus on reporting personalities and “the horse race” in politics, presenting “both sides” of any question with no effort to sort fact from falsehood. Too few focus on giving voters the information they need to make up their own minds.

During the 2012 election cycle, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney proposed defunding the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). I was opposed to this proposal, as all Americans should have been. PBS provides one of the best outlets where we can get news and information that’s accurate. And he wanted to get rid of it?

The existence of PBS and National Public Radio (NPR) is crucial for having informed citizens. They provide an important alternative. Some people may not want to tune in because they’re not “entertaining” enough, and the right wing claims they have a liberal bias (I disagree). But it’s necessary. Without PBS and NPR, and other fact-based outlets, we would be worse off.

The Constitution says that Congress should make no law abridging freedom of the press. Congress [sic] also says you have a right to a lawyer if you’re charged with a crime. But what do we do if people can’t afford one? We give them a lawyer. If we aren’t getting a free press, I believe the government should at least support public broadcasting.

Duck Dynasty takes on Girls [Wizbang]

Duck Dynasty launched their new season on A&E last week. It was a blockbuster, though ratings were slightly lower than for last season which was a cable TV record. Here’s some perspective on the launch from Breitbart… The show’s Wednesday night episode, the first from season 5, scored 8.5 million viewers, a figure that eclipsed […]

Free At Last: Federal Court Hands Bloggers Legal First Amendment Protections [Wizbang]

At long last we get a proper ruling on the First Amendment status of bloggers, one affording them the same legal status as “real” journalists; this from the Ninth Circuit Court in California, no less. The Ninth Circuit is often derided as the “Ninth Circus” because its rulings are almost invariably left-wing and anti-American. But […]

Obama: We’re going to keep spying on you, get over it [Wizbang]

As we predicted, President Obama’s big policy speech on the National Security Agency was a big zero. As we expected, he was throwing bones everywhere. We wouldn’t want to have been in the audience, getting hit in the head with a rib bone can be painful. Here’s an excellent summary of what he said. At […]

Senate Democrats agree – Benghazi was a terrorist attack [Wizbang]

A Senate Committee has released a BIPARTISAN!!! report stating that the Benghazi attack was a terrorist attack and that it could have been prevented. Color us shocked. Congressional Democrats for the first time joined the GOP to condemn the State Department for refusing security measures they say could have prevented the deaths of the U.S. […]

What we have here President Obama is a failure to communicate [Wizbang]

President Obama is facing a real crisis in his Presidency. We’re not convinced it’s actually a crisis for the American people, but it’s certainly a crisis for him, and the character from Cool Hand Luke is a good analogy to the President’s problem. We want to be very clear; our nation is certainly facing a […]

Jimmy Kimmel Reminds Youth They Are Paying for Old Folks’ Expensive Obamacare Insurance [Wizbang]

ABC’s late night comedian Jimmy Kimmel did an hilarious job slamming Obamacare and pointing out to young people that under Obamacare they are the ones stuck paying for the expensive healthcare needed by the elderly with a spoof “commercial” about the President’s disastrous healthcare policy (See video above). You see, the way Obamacare is supposed […]

Obama’s IRS Is Now Targeting Sarah Palin’s Father, Old Media Ignores [Wizbang]

Sarah Palin’s Father Chuck Heath, Dr. (left) and brother Chuck Heath, Jr. (right). Sarah Palin’s father, Chuck Heath, Sr., is being harassed by the IRS. And yet, the Old Media complex is not saying a word about this story. Imagine that. On his Facebook page, Sarah’s brother, Chuck Heath, Jr., posted that his father is […]

#BENGHAZI: Bipartisan Senate Report Finds Attack Was Preventable [Wizbang]

A newly release Senate Intelligence Committee report cast blame on the State Department for the attacks on the Benghazi Mission and CIA annex.  The report, which details fourteen different findings about the attacks that night, makes it clear that the attack was preventable.   Ultimately, however, the final responsibility for security at diplomatic facilities lies with […]

Reporter Confronts Union Chief Supporting a Child Molesting Teacher [Wizbang]

Fox News correspondent Jesse Watters recently traveled to Michigan to find out why the teachers union there is fighting so hard to force the taxpayers to give a big cash payment to a teacher convicted of molesting a child. Watters confronted Steven Cook, the head of the Michigan Education Association–the teachers union there–over why the […]

Obama Fails as Iran Celebrates Nuclear Agreement as an ‘American Surrender’ [Wizbang]

It looks like Barack Obama was taken for a ride with his administration’s failed negotiations with Iran over that country’s nuclear ambitions. The Iranians are touting the agreement as a victory over both Obama in particular and “the west” in general. Iran’s purported “moderate” president, Hassan Rouhani, took to his Twitter account to celebrate his […]

VIDEO: Michigan Cops Harass Citizen Legally Carrying a Gun [Wizbang]

VIDEO: Michigan Cops Harass Citizen Legally Carrying a GuA Michigan man legally carrying a pistol openly in a holster was illegally stopped and harassed by Grand Rapids police in March of 2013 in an incident that sparked a federal lawsuit. Now the full video of the encounter has been released to the public. Last March, […]

Obama headed for a smack down by the Supreme Court [Wizbang]

Yesterday the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the first case that could – and probably will – limit the President’s use of executive power. This case, Noel Canning, seeks to overturn the use of “recess appointments” by a President. Specifically, President Obama made appointments to the National Labor Relations Board when the Senate was […]

Octomom is charged with welfare fraud [Wizbang]

Well! I’m shocked!! OK, I’m not. Could you believe it? Charged with welfare fraud. This loving mother of 14, a wannabe porn star, welfare fraud? What’s next? Maybe the President has lied to us once or twice? OK, we’ve snarked this to death and we’ll stop. This actually IS a problem, and we’re not talking […]

Let’s All Help Harvey Weinstein Keep His Promise [Ed Driscoll]

This will end well:

A day after he announced he was going to make a film taking on the NRA with Meryl Streep, Harvey Weinstein — the producer of several violent films — told CNN’s Piers Morgan in an interview to air tonight that he has had a change of heart about violent content in film. Asked by Morgan about his hypocrisy of making these violent films, Weinstein said, “They have a point. You have to look in the mirror, too. I have to choose movies that aren’t violent or as violent as they used to be. I know for me personally, you know, I can’t continue to do that. The change starts here. It has already. For me, I can’t do it. I can’t make one movie and say this is what I want for my kids and then just go out and be a hypocrite.” He added that he would make a movie like Lone Survivor, “a tribute to the United States special forces,” but “I’m not going to make some crazy action movie just to blow up people and exploit people just for the sake of making it.”

Harvey is channeling the left’s “New Civility” lockstep initial reaction to the Tuscon shooting in January of 2011 of Democrat Gabrielle Giffords, Bush #41-appointed Federal Judge John M. Roll, and over a dozen other victims killed or wounded. Recall that CNN vowed on the air to avoid using gun metaphors — until it dusted off the Crossfire brand name last year, rightly earning Sarah Palin’s contempt for their hypocrisy. Similarly, MSNBC suggested considering eliminationist rhetoric as the equivalent of racist hate speech, until Martin Bashir managed to combine both racialist hate speech and elimination rhetoric in one spectacularly toxic rant.

So let’s see what product rolls out over the next few months and years under the Weinstein imprimatur, and compare it to his promise yesterday. Oh, and speaking of Harvey’s hypocrisy:

It’s also worth noting that one of the things Weinstein was discussing on the [Howard] Stern show was a project he was working on about a film depicting Jews resisting the Nazis during the Holocaust. When the libertarian-minded Stern asked Weinstein whether it was inconsistent to make a movie about people using guns, the movie mogul replied that such conduct was justified in the context of the Nazis’ genocidal plans. He’s right about that.

That’s certainly a worthy concept for a motion picture, but perhaps not from someone who just a few years ago produced a film based on a bestselling novel by a German author written to  justify his nation’s postwar excuse that they were clueless that the Holocaust took place.

Obama the Loner [Ed Driscoll]

Veteran White House reporter Keith Koffler on “The Root of Obama’s Imperious Presidency:”

I covered both the Clinton and Bush White Houses. Routinely, with each of them, there was line of cars on the West Wing driveway belonging to members of some committee or faction of Congress that had dropped by to meet the president. If they wanted the gathering to remain below the radar, they “snuck in” the side door, and then the camera guys who were always in a position where they could see the entrance there told us about it.

With Obama, almost never. Nothing. No meetings. If you ask around on Capitol Hill, no phone calls either. Obama, expostulating about the uncooperativeness of Republicans, does nothing to get them to cooperate. It’s not in his character. And then he attacks them for his own paucity of results. He’s like a high school football player who never comes to practice and then whines that he’s warming the bench.

Unfortunately, Obama’s temperament will now have serious consequences for the nation. We’ll be in a constant state of Constitutional subversion for the next three years as Obama issues edicts and bullies the private sector into doing his bidding. At any point, with some particularly outlandish act, he can kick things up to a major Constitutional crisis. It’s a sad thing to see.

As Hugh Hewitt told me near the end of the interview I posted yesterday, “Nobody takes [Obama] seriously.  We are effectively without a President for thirty-six months.” At least a president as the Founding Fathers envisioned the role. Read Koffler’s post to understand why.

Andrew Cuomo: Catholics Need Not Reside in New York [Ed Driscoll]

Wow, I’m old enough to remember when “Progressives” actually paid lip service to words like “tolerance” and “diversity:”

… You’re seeing that play out in New York. … The Republican Party candidates are running against the SAFE Act — it was voted for by moderate Republicans who run the Senate! Their problem is not me and the Democrats; their problem is themselves. Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are and they’re the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.

(Ellipses in original.) As Kathryn Jean Lopez writes at the Corner, “Look how far we have come since 1984:”

On Sept. 13 of that year, another Governor Cuomo, Andrew’s father, Mario, famously laid out his contention that being personally opposed to abortion – the taking of innocent human life – and being a public advocate for its legality and subsequent policy accommodations was an morally sound position for a Catholic in politics. Now we’ve moved away from pretending his is a coherent and theologically acceptable position. As we enter the week of the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision 41 years ago Wednesday, Andrew Cuomo explains that the only acceptable public position in the state of New York is to support legal abortion — and, based on his agenda, its expansion.

Ironically, Mario Cuomo justified his position as an exercise in protecting religious freedom. That incoherent slippery slope led to the Little Sisters of the Poor being told by the federal government to green-light abortion drugs, contraception, and female sterilization insurance coverage to employees. (See here and here and here and here for more on the case of the Obama administration vs. the Little Sisters of the Poor.)

Is Dad fit for New York? During his 1984 speech, Mario Cuomo talked of his and his wife’s personal consideration that “a fetus is different from an appendix or a set of tonsils.” Sounds like some of that crazy “right-to-life” talk his son just warned about! Fortunately for Mario, he said it in Indiana, at Notre Dame. Democratic politicians have been known to say crazy things there. President Obama, you might recall, said he would protect conscience rights in health-care reform in a much-protested speech there. Perhaps what is said in South Bend stays in South Bend? As we’ve seen with the Department of Health and Human Services abortion drug, contraception, sterilization mandate: As long as you don’t actually do anything with your moral conviction in the public square – including the charity you run or the business you operate – it’s tolerable to believe other than what those who confuse use with a cultural tyranny desire and issue regulatory and judicial mandates about when they can. Never mind that the life of the unborn tracks from science – seen on many a sonogram across the country — typically celebrated, scientifically unmistakable.

Glenn Reynolds’ response is typically Insta-terse — and spot-on: “GLEICHSCHALTUNG!”

The Runner Stumbos [Ed Driscoll]

You went full Godwin, man. Never go full Godwin: “Kentucky’s Democratic Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo who at a campaign event Thursday for senatorial candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes compared defeating Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in 2014 to the allies liberating Europe from the Nazis at the end of World War II,” Noel Sheppard writes at Newsbusters, along with video of Stumbo saying:

GREG STUMBO, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE (D-KENTUCKY): You know, we’ve got a lot of people who came here tonight to celebrate, and I have to speak to the crowd that when we kicked off this campaign back in July in Lexington. And it reminded me of the feeling that our troops must have had when they liberated the European nations following World War II. Can you imagine what it felt like to know that you were liberating a country? Well, you’re about to liberate your state, you’re about to liberate your state from the worst reign of misabuse that we’ve seen in the last 30 years. You’re about to give us hope.

Moe Lane files this under his “Not Ready For Prime Time Watch:

More via Hot Air, which notes that state Rep. Stumbo is politically pig-ignorant as well as historically so (and rather vile about it, too*); Senator McConnell’s power comes from being a facilitator between the state of Kentucky and the federal government.  He is not an actual ruler or anything. Of course, admitting to objective reality wouldn’t be as much fun for the Democrats then, huh?

And it would be worth asking Stumbo — and Grimes — the question that Jonah Goldberg likes to ask skull-full-of-socialist mush college kids, which eventually inspired Liberal Fascism: “I’ve never met a real social-welfare state leftist who could answer the following question without having to think real hard: ‘Aside from the murder and genocide, what exactly don’t you like about National Socialism?’”

Update: An earlier version of this post somehow truncated half the post due to an Internet error; we didn’t intend for this to be the CROATOAN of blog posts.

Krauthammer: ‘Stop the Bailout — Now’ [Ed Driscoll]

“First order of business for the returning Congress,”  Charles Krauthammer writes, “The No Bailout for Insurance Companies Act of 2014:”

Make it one line long: “Sections 1341 and 1342 of the Affordable Care Act are hereby repealed.”

End of bill. End of bailout. End of story.

Why do we need it? On Dec. 18, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers was asked what was the administration’s Plan B if, because of adverse selection (enrolling too few young and healthies), the insurance companies face financial difficulty.

Jason Furman wouldn’t bite. “There’s a Plan A,” he replied. Enroll the young.

But of course there’s a Plan B. It’s a government bailout.

Administration officials can’t say it for political reasons. And they don’t have to say it because it’s already in the Affordable Care Act, buried deep.

First, Section 1341, the “reinsurance” fund collected from insurers and self-insuring employers at a nifty $63 a head. (Who do you think the cost is passed on to?) This yields about $20 billion over three years to cover losses.

Then there is Section 1342, the “risk corridor” provision that mandates a major taxpayer payout covering up to 80 percent of insurance-company losses.

Never heard of these? That’s the beauty of passing a bill of such monstrous length. You can insert a chicken soup recipe and no one will notice.

Nancy Pelosi was right: We’d have to pass the damn thing to know what’s in it. Well, now we have and now we know.

As Jonah Goldberg  wrote last month, “When asked how he silenced opponents in the health industry during his successful effort to socialize medicine, Aneurin Bevan, creator of the British National Health Service, responded, ‘I stuffed their mouths with gold.’” For those same reasons, American insurers had few qualms about being willing partners for the Obama administration, despite knowing, as Jonah goes on to note, “if the architects of Obamacare had their way, the insurers would have been in even worse shape today:”

The original plan was for a “public option” that would have, over time, undercut the private insurance market to the point where single-payer seemed like the only rational way to go. If it weren’t for then-senator Joe Lieberman’s insistence that the provision be scrapped, DeMuth writes, “Obamacare’s troubles would today be leading smoothly to the expansion of direct federal health insurance to pick up millions of canceled policies and undercut rate increases on terms no private firm could match.”

In other words, the insurers knew the administration never had their best interests at heart, but got in bed with it anyway.

Articulating my sympathy for the insurance companies is difficult without the accompaniment of the world’s smallest violin. But, still, I have to wonder, do those running these firms have no backbone whatsoever? I understand that the insurance companies have been consolidating into de facto utilities for decades. But they at least once mustered some passion for defending their status as private enterprises. Sure, they have obligations to shareholders, but their obligations do not end there. Can’t one of them resign on principle and speak up? Or are their mouths so stuffed with gold that they couldn’t get the words out even if they tried?

But Krauthammer’s right — there should be no taxpayer bailout of those who chose to voluntarily engage in a corporatist partnership with the Obama administration. As a great philosopher once said:


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(Via Janie Johnson.)

‘Scientists Decide Americans Are Too Stupid to Understand Global Warming’ [Ed Driscoll]

Stacy McCain quotes from James M. Taylor at the Heartland Institute, who notes:

New polling data show the American public is growing increasingly skeptical of an asserted climate crisis. Alarmists have responded by claiming Americans are not smart enough to make proper decisions on climate policy.
The Yale University Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication released a survey showing only 15 percent of Americans are “very worried” about global warming, compared to 23 percent who believe global warming is not happening at all. A plurality of Americans — 38 percent — believe global warming is happening but are only “somewhat worried” about it. . . .
Survey author Edward Maibach bemoaned the results and claimed Americans do not understand global warming issues. “Our findings show that the public’s understanding of global warming’s reality, causes, and risks has not improved and has, in at least one important respect, gone in the wrong direction over the past year,” said Maibach.

Speaking of “the wrong direction,” At the Weekly Standard, Patrick Allitt asks if we “Remember the Future?” At the start of the 1960s, liberals imagined a hugely positive one, with labcoat-wearing slide-rule engineers working inside crisp Mies van der Rohe buildings envisioning supersonic flight, orbiting space stations, and routine trips to the moon. By the end of the decade, the American left, having vanquished the New Deal-Great Society era liberals, only to lose to Richard Nixon, decided that life was grim, and only going to get worse. The tone of this punitive worldview was summed up in Paul Erlich’s The Population Bomb, published in 1968:

Ehrlich became a professor of biology at Stanford. He specialized in butterflies, then became interested in human population. During the postwar decades, the world’s population was rising fast. Ehrlich became convinced that it was outstripping food supplies. In The Population Bomb (1968), he wrote that a demographic catastrophe lay in the immediate future. It was, he declared, already too late to prevent the famines that would sweep not just the developing world but Western Europe and North America in the late 1970s and ’80s.

The book became a bestseller, while a series of television appearances made Ehrlich a household name. He wrote op-ed essays and spoke tirelessly on college campuses, becoming one of the most highly paid pundits of the “ecology” era (1967-75). Overpopulation, he believed, was accelerating the rate at which industrial nations were using up natural resources. Soon there would be nothing left. He agreed with the authors of The Limits to Growth (1972) that we faced a bleak future with less of everything.

Julian Simon, meanwhile, became a professor of business at the University of Illinois. In the late ’60s, he, too, worried about overpopulation; but a closer look at the issue led to a change of heart. He discovered that population growth and economic growth usually went together and that there was no evidence of food shortages. The chronic problem of American agriculture, in fact, was overproduction. Population was rising because fewer children were dying and life expectancy kept increasing. That was good news, surely. Quite apart from a decline in agonizing bereavements, said Simon, children once doomed but now destined to survive might go on to be the next Einstein or Beethoven.

Simon also believed in the free market, whose long-term effect was to make products and raw materials not costlier and rarer but cheaper and more abundant. Occasional shortages stimulated increases in efficiency, the invention of better techniques, and the use of new materials.

Simon was ultimately proven correct, but Ehrlich of course grabbed all of the attention, to the point of becoming one of the Tonight Show’s favorite “intellectuals” in the 1970s.  While there’s an unfortunate reactionary sucker punch against Glenn Beck at the end, this 2010 video from Matt Novak of Paleofuture sums up the grim apocalyptic tone of the 1970s all too well:


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As the late  Kenneth Minogue noted in 2010, “We must face up to the grim fact that the rulers we elect are losing patience with us.”  Our scientists beat them to the punch decades ago. Their anger is eternal; only the buzzwords they employ in their attempt to control us have changed:


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Thought for the Day [VodkaPundit]

Welcome to the Happy Fun Surveillance State [VodkaPundit]

Trifecta: If the NSA can save just one life… what, it hasn’t?

News You Can Use [VodkaPundit]

You know you’re not supposed to do that, right?

Friday Night Videos [VodkaPundit]


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Once or twice a decade it seems, country makes big inroads into the pop charts. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by records and radio pretty much everywhere during the ’70s, when it happened twice — with great results.

One of those was Willie Nelson’s 1978 classic, Stardust. The album was a collection of his deceptively simple-seeming takes on American songbook staples like “All Of Me,” “Moonlight In Vermont,” “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” and of course the title track.

Tonight’s pick, Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies,” appeared in my head as an earworm the other night when I was settling down into bed. I had my iPad on my lap and my earbuds in my ears, so I pulled up the song on YouTube and let it go. When you’re relaxed and can really listen to a song, you notice things you might not have before. In this case, not in over 35 years of listening to a song.

It’s nicely layered (I wish I knew who arranged it), and doesn’t waste any time establishing them. A few guitar chords and then the piano kicks in followed quickly by the strings and harmonica. Barely 11 seconds have gone by before Nelson’s gentle vocal begins and you know you’re in for something special. But what I noticed the other night is there’s sort of a rhythmic tension between the three main layers of the arrangement — vocal, main orchestration, and strings.

That tension adds excitement, almost drama, to a simple sunny song about a summer sky. Or maybe it was just my imagination getting away from me on a soft bed under dim lights at a late hour.

But something has kept people listening to this one for nearly four decades, and maybe that’s it.

Compliance and Obedience [Everyday Athlete]

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Every day this week has felt like a revelation.  For ease of targeting what interests you, I am going to split this into two parts – a faith piece and a fitness piece.

I have never felt more sure that I am exactly where I am supposed to be.  I am convinced that God’s prompting and my obedience to that prompting are what led me to Chicago, although why He brought me here is beyond my comprehension at the moment.  I love this city and everything about living here so far.  The ease of this whole transition has been nothing short of mind-blowing, even having had positive expectations based on my last move to Charlotte.

I feel like I have been getting spiritual homework a lot lately.  Maybe it’s a certain topic that keeps showing up on my Facebook feed, coming up in conversations with my friends, or popping up in sermons or my reading of the Word.  I just know that I keep seeing it for a reason.  I’ll share that specifically, my lesson lately has to do with dating and relationships, especially boundaries and expectations.  Far smarter people than me have already written extensively on this topic, so I’ll share the links in the event this is also a lesson any of you need to learn!

Getting Ahead Of Yourself

Setting Boundaries

Long-Term Singleness

This piece of scripture has really resonated with me this week as well.  I pray a lot lately.  Whenever I start to worry or have anxiety about something, I pray about it, turn it over to God, and then do the best I can to refuse to worry about it any longer.  Sometimes I feel led to do things that scare me or are uncomfortable.  When that happens, I just acknowledge those feelings, reaffirm my willingness to obey despite them, and pray for the courage to follow through and act.  Obedience and faith are quite a powerful combination!

I am pretty happy with my fitness endeavors this week.  I finished up the first week of my Predator Diet meal plan, and am feeling good about it.  I went to CrossFit three days this week and to Flywheel classes two days this week.

I am starting to feel more comfortable at River North CrossFit.  Friday night’s workout was a great experience for me.  I learned how to do pressing snatch balances for the first time.  I also got a ton of coaching, positive feedback, and motivation from the coach.  The WOD itself was hellish – 7 rounds of 20 push press and 20 overhead squats.  I pushed myself really hard (thanks in part to Alex’s coaching and attention).  In fact, I almost finished the WOD before the 25 minute time cap – I was only 7 reps short!  It was the first time since I moved here that I wasn’t sure my legs would survive the walk back to my apartment after the WOD without collapsing!

I read this article from Breaking Muscle about why it’s good NOT to have goals.  Counter-intuitive to most, but it totally made sense to me.  I don’t really have any specific outcome goals attached to my nutrition coaching.  I basically want to get leaner in a sustainable and healthy way while still being able to train hard and get better.  I don’t have a target body fat percentage or weight in mind.  Let me explain…

82703-Quotes+about+loving+life+quoteWhen I have had outcome goals in the past, like a competition, all of my motivation to train and eat right came from the fear of not being ready when the day arrives.  There was a definitive expiration date on the goal, so to speak.  So after the competition has passed, despite my best intentions, I fell off the wagon.  My motivation for staying on track vanished.  It was impossible for me to just keep doing what I had been doing leading up to the competition, because that would not have been healthy or sustainable…so instead, everything just went out the window.

All of my goals are process-oriented for the time being.  By that, I mean they are broken down into daily and weekly actions that when performed consistently, will eventually get me to my outcome goal.  Since Alli is doing my nutrition, it’s a no-brainer.  As the coach, it is her job to determine if the program is working effectively and to make changes if it is not.  My responsibility as the client is simply to be compliant so that the results are indicative of the program’s effectiveness.  So for me, my goal is 100% meal plan compliance for the foreseeable future.  That also means prepping my meals the night before (even when I’m exhausted) to ensure I can stay on track the next day.

Likewise, for training, my goals are still pretty vague.  If I could sum it up in one statement, it would be: “Become a CrossFit Beast.”  All that really means for me to is to show up and do work consistently, so that I can get stronger, better conditioned, and more skilled (especially at Olympic lifts) over time.  So, for process goals, that translates to going to CrossFit 3-5 days per week, and supplementing CrossFit with some conditioning work (Flywheel).  It also means listening to my body when it comes to rest days and scaling workouts in order to stay healthy and injury-free.

I am also looking at a much longer timeline for my goals.  I am not looking at this through the lens of a “12 Week Challenge” or anything like that.  I am looking at this from the perspective of what I want to become by the end of this year.  A full year.  No pressure to do anything drastic just to meet some arbitrary timeline.  No beating myself up if after 3 months I am not hitting PR’s in all the major lifts or don’t have washboard abs.

I want to train hard consistently because I have a passion for training, not because I have to burn X number of calories to lose Y number of lbs to get Z target body fat percentage.  I want to eat in a way structured to support optimal health and to fuel my training and recovery because that’s when I feel my best and most confident.  Those sources of motivation will never change.  They don’t expire.  They just are.

Sometimes, we do the right things for the wrong reasons.  I am guilty of this too.  But I am really trying to focus on doing the right things for the right reasons because I think that is the key to long-term success.

 


Joe Manchin (D, West Virginia) backstabs Nick Rahall (D, WV). [Moe Lane]

Well, isn’t this interesting.

  • February, 2013: “U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced today that he is honored to invite Major Richard Ojeda, a West Virginia veteran and a community organizer, as his guest for the President’s State of the Union address.”
  • October, 2013: “A nationally recognized political report has moved a possible race for Congress next year in West Virginia from “Lean Democrat” to “Toss Up.” The Cook Political Report said Friday state Sen. Evan Jenkins, R-Cabell, is drawing closer to longtime 3rd District Congressman Nick Rahall.”
  • January, 2014: “Rahall has outrun the political change in West Virginia so far, but Obama’s dire approval ratings here are dangerous for the veteran incumbent.”
  • January, 2014: “Richard Ojeda, a West Virginia veteran who was Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) guest at the State of the Union last year, apparently liked what he saw of Congress. Ojeda has announced that he plans to challenge 19-term congressional veteran Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) in the state’s upcoming primary.”

…and, of course, if Ojeda wins his first act will be to vote for Nancy Pelosi to become Speaker of the House.  His next set of acts will be to negotiate with the House Democratic leadership about which of Ojeda’s principles will not have to be sacrificed to the greater glory of the Democratic liberal agenda.  Because that’s how it works with ‘conservative’ Democrats; like unicorns, they are wondrous and magical icons of hope whose only flaw is that they do not actually exist.

Still.  It’s amusing that Senator Joe Manchin has been carefully nurturing this fellow to supplant Nick Rahall.  Excuse me, ‘allegedly’ nurturing Richard Ojeda.  But this shouldn’t surprise Leftists; after all, if conservative Democrats would happily betray conservatives, why wouldn’t they betray individual Democrats, too?

Moe Lane

Rand Paul (accurately) notes that Jim Crow was a majoritarian policy, too. [Moe Lane]

I am probably quite a bit too neoconservative for Senator Paul’s liking, but: no fear.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), in an interview Thursday, likened President Obama’s governing philosophy to the kind of “majority rule” that led to Jim Crow laws and Japanese internment camps.

[snip]

“The danger to majority rule — to him sort of thinking, well, the majority voted for me, now I’m the majority, I can do whatever I want, and that there are no rules that restrain me — that’s what gave us Jim Crow,” Paul said. “That’s what gave us the internment of the Japanese — that the majority said you don’t have individual rights, and individual rights don’t come from your creator, and they’re not guaranteed by the Constitution. It’s just whatever the majority wants.”

(H/T: Hot Air Headlines) I’ll add the Trail of Tears and our abysmal treaty history with Native Americans to that one, too. The central problem for democracy has always been what happens when 54% of the voters, say, want to do something horrible to the other 46%*. The Founders – mindful of the story of Socrates, and those of mob rule in the Roman Empire** – put up a bunch of roadblocks to that; and it’s no accident that the USA still remains a place where ‘a contested election’ does not mean ‘firefights in the streets.’ That the entire thing sounds absurd – which it is not; violent power changes are the norm throughout human history – show the power of the concept that our current President so unthinkingly disparages.

Let me lock that ‘unthinkingly’ down, by the way.  I do not say that Barack Obama wishes to set up a dictatorship, as modern people define the term. I do say that his behavior would be instantly recognizable to people of the Hellenistic period: President Obama wishes to rule, and to have his decrees backed up by the loud, riotous approval of the Mob***. We are fortunate that our current educational system is only poor by our own standards; that the President himself lacks the charisma that the successful Classical-era Tyrants relied upon; that, as a direct result of the first two points, any Mob that the President could generate would be more of a bunch of cyber-street protesters than an actual populist movement;  and, finally, that basic republican structures are still in place in this country, with a critical percentage of Obama’s own Democrats being unwilling to change them.

But none of this excuses the President for not doing his technical reading.  You’d think that somebody who made ‘public service’ his career path could be counted on to at least do a private survey of the history of government…

Moe Lane (crosspost)

*Although it’s usually more like that they want to do something horrible to, say, a subgroup of the 46%.

**If you are thinking of that Thomas Jefferson quote, alas: it is almost certainly bunk. And probably anti-Bush agitprop, at that (2004 was a period where the GOP controlled both the White House and Congress).

***No, not the Mafia.

Quote of the Day …Yes, Joe Biden Is Running For President edition. [Moe Lane]

And he’s going to be a vicious little weasel about it, too.

“John [Kerry], thank you for your passion and perseverance and the incredible, incredible energy you’ve shown in representing American interests around the world,” Biden said. “I have been here for — I have to admit — for eight presidents, and I have never seen a man or a woman with as much energy and commitment that you have shown. John, we thank you for that.”

Bolding mine, because I enjoy making trouble.  Your move, Hillary Clinton.

Moe Lane

PS: As my wife notes… no, this is subtle.  For Joe Biden, at least.

This @Coelasquid comic reminds me of a Manly Wade Wellman short-short. [Moe Lane]

Specifically: this Manly Guys Doing Manly Things comic reminds me of MWW’s “Blue Monkey.” I certainly hope that Kelly Turnbull understands that that’s a pretty nice compliment, by my standards…

Moe Lane

PS: What’s that? You’ve never read Manly Wade Wellman’s John the Balladeer (Appalachian folk-magic*) stories and books?  Why, you lucky so-and-so: Baen has a collection of the short stories available.  For FREE.  I had to join a science fiction book-of-the-month club that it took me a year to extricate myself from, just to get that book.  True, it was worth it, but still: technology does have its points.

*And I don’t mean light-and-fluffy folk, either. Wellman didn’t write gore or cosmic horror, but you messed with the supernatural at your peril in the John the Balladeer stories.

“Think.” [Moe Lane]

Well, since the Blues Brothers came up in conversation:

Think, Aretha Franklin

I could listen to that woman all day.

Somebody worked out the final repair bill for The Blues Brothers. [Moe Lane]

I was sent this by Constant Reader BigGator5: do not watch it unless you have six and a half minutes to kill. It’s fascinating to see just how much property damage a musical comedy can wrack up.

Spoilers below, but if you’re not the sort of person who has watched The Blues Brothers then I’m not exactly sure what it is that you’re getting from this website anyway.

Moe Lane

CPAN Release Perl::Critic::Policy::logicLAB::ProhibitShellDispatch 0.03 [Perlsphere]

Just before christmas I received a bug report for my Perl::Critic policy: Perl::Critic::Policy::logicLAB::ProhibitShellDispatch.
The policy was motivated and implemented to avoid calls to platform specific utilities etc. At a certain point I was involved in migrating a rather large code base from Solaris to Linux and then we really got bitten by this.
The recommendation is to use pure-perl tools where available. An example of this I had observed earlier was calls to hostname like so:

    my $hostname = qx/hostname/;
my $hostname = `hostname`;

These can easily be exchanged by use of the CPAN distribution Net::Domain and you can possibly find other such examples (please let me know of these, since I am always on the lookout for more examples).

A pretty basic problem area and a very simple implementation.

Now back to the bug report.

The initial policy was one of my first and the code was pretty basic and I did expect it to hold some issues, but since the problem area was so basic I did not know what to expect.
The issue reported was a false-positive for Net::OpenSSH‘s system method. The issue demonstrated that the code was way too simple and I had to rewrite the internals. The policy simply evaluated PPI::Token::Word‘s (and some others), but I had to extend the policy to evaluate the context of the words and hence look at the involved statement as a whole.
So all in all a somewhat hard to fix bug, since the policy was perhaps broken by design. But at the same time, the policy is better now and I think it addresses some other cases I do not know about, with the improved implementation.
Considering the value provided by the bug report and can only welcome bug reports and emphasize the importance of reporting bug and requesting features etc. and if I was afraid of bug reports, the policy would never have been released in the first place.
The distribution is now on Github, but this does not mean you have to fork and create a pull request – you can always just contact me, but you are most welcome to use the open repository.

jonasbn, Copenhagen
(cross-posted from logicLAB.jira.com)

Testing Random Dice Rolls [Perlsphere]

I've decided to rewrite my Perl testing course from scratch and hit upon an interesting problem that is outside of the scope of the course, but is a perfect fit for this site: testing dice rolls. I have the the following function as part of a student lesson in the course:

sub roll_dice {
    my $arg_for = shift;

    my $sides = $arg_for->{sides} || 6;
    my $times = $arg_for->{times} || 1;

    # we could have also chosen to croak() or throw an exception here
    $sides = 6 if $sides < 2;
    $times = 1 if $times < 1;

    return sum( map { 1 + int rand $sides } 1 .. $times );  # fixed!
}

Rolling dice is random and it's fair to say that testing randomness is hard. Is the above correct? For the purposes of the tests, students only need to test if the expected values are in range. But what about the distribution of those values?

Update: What an irony that I had a small bug that would pass "range" tests, but not a chi-square test :)

Let's say I roll a six-sided die 60 times and I get the following results for the numbers 1 through 6, respectively:

16, 5, 9, 7, 6, 17

Is that really random? It doesn't look like it. In fact, if you have dice at home, there's a good chance that they will also give you a non-random distribution. Dice often have the pips formed by a dimple in the surface. This means that the face with 1 pip weighs more than the face with 6 pips. This will skew your results in the long-term and that's why dice often have the pips printed rather than gouged out.

For the above distribution, though, you could use Pearson's chi-square test. In Perl, it's available via Statistics::ChiSquare:

use Statistics::ChiSquare 'chisquare';
say chisquare( 16, 5, 9, 7, 6, 17 );

Unfortunately, that prints:

    There's a >1% chance, and a <5% chance, that this data is random.

As it turns out, the chi-square test says there's only a 1.8% chance of those numbers being "fair". So not only is the interface awkward, the numbers are rounded off to the point where they're not very useful.

What's worse, it doesn't handle non-uniform distributions. Let's say I wanted to compute the odds of something being amiss when I rolled two-six sided dice. The frequency looks like this:

Sum   Frequency   Relative Frequency 
2     1           1/36 
3     2           2/36
4     3           3/36
5     4           4/36
6     5           5/36
7     6           6/36
8     5           5/36
9     4           4/36
10    3           3/36
11    2           2/36
12    1           1/36

Statistics::ChiSquare used to have a chisquare_nonuniform() function, but that was removed years ago (I don't know why).

So that's two strikes against using this module.

What I want is a way of taking a list of actual die rolls and a list of expected die rolls and calculating the probability that the distribution is fair. I initially wrote the code for this, but made a small math error in calculating chi-square. amon on stackoverflow presented the correct algorithm.

use Carp; 
use List::Util qw< sum >;
use Statistics::Distributions qw< chisqrprob >;

sub chi_squared_test {
    my %arg_for = @_;
    my $observed = $arg_for{observed} 
      // croak q(Argument "observed" required);
    my $expected = $arg_for{expected}
      // croak q(Argument "expected" required);

    @$observed == @$expected or croak q(Input arrays must have same length);

    my $chi_squared = sum map { 
        ( $observed->[$_] - $expected->[$_] )**2 
        / 
        $expected->[$_]
    } 0 .. $#$observed;

    my $degrees_of_freedom = @$observed - 1;
    my $probability        = chisqrprob(
        $degrees_of_freedom,
        $chi_squared
    );

    return $probability;
}

With that, now I can just do this:

say chi_squared_test(
  observed => [ 16, 5, 9, 7, 6, 17 ],
  expected => [ (10) x 6 ]
);

And that prints out 0.018360, the probability of that set of die rolls occurring by chance.

Building up our expected list is left as an exercise for the reader.

Zoe's erstes Foto [Perlsphere]

Nein, natürlich gibt es schon Fotos von Zoe. Unmengen Fotos, denn im Gegensatz zu ihrer Schwester wächst sie im Zeitalter der digitalen Fotografie auf. Letztens habe ich mal wieder die Dia-Sammlung meiner Eltern gesehen... Zwei Schränke voll mit jeweils vermutlich so vielen Fotos wie wir von einem einzigen Flug in Digitalform mitbringen. Trotzdem hat Zoe vor ein paar Tagen ihr erstes etwas anderes Foto bekommen und musste dafür ziemlich mutig sein.

Einführung in SQL/RDBMS [Perlsphere]

SQL wird gerne als Artbezeichnung für Datenbanken verwendet, dabei ist es nur eine genormte Sprache, in der mit Datenbanken kommuniziert werden kann. Zutreffender wäre eigentlich die weitaus weniger verbreitete Bezeichnung RDBMS für Relational Database Management System.

Gist of the Day: Named Capture in Perl Regular Expressions (Briefly) [Perlsphere]

One of the largest critiques I see about regular expressions is that they lack readability. Well, in Perl 5.10 named capture was added (http://perldoc.perl.org/perlretut.html) which I think adds an awful lot of readability to Perl regular expressions.

The Caveats

  • I’m using UTF-8 in this demo. I am not going to go into all the details of working with UTF-8 since it isn’t the point of this gist.
  • There are a number of ways to capture matches in a regular expression. This is one of them, I’m not going to weigh all of the pros and cons of the different methods (especially since most of it comes down to personal preference).
  • This is going to be just an introduction, a very brief run-through.
  • The demo is intended to simulate a plausibly realistic scenario, not an actual real-life scenario. I was trying to come up with a simple scenario where the benefits of this feature would be apparent. I would agree with most arguments about how this might not be the best or most common approach to this problem, keep in mind that I’m demonstrating a specific feature of regular expressions, not trying to come up with the best way to solve this specific problem.

The Demo

We’re going to focus entirely on lines 22 through 33, that’s where the magic happens. Take special note of how the (?<symbol>.) piece, and other (?<...>...) bits name a match. This syntax takes the match and sticks it into either a grouping of \g{name} for backreferences, or $+{name} for captures. That’s what you see when I’m assigning things, you see me pulling from the %+ hash.

Why’s This Useful?

This is useful primarily for reasons of readability and maintainability. If you use the traditional $1 then when your pattern changes and you need to add something else into the beginning, you now have to change your $1 into a $2. If there were more capture variables, you’ll also need to update those as well. Named capture really helps in this situation since you can just name your new capture match and you’re good to go.

Conclusion

I like named capture, I think it’s useful, it’s easy, and it solves some real problems with regular expressions. Let me know what you think, and let me know if you have any other requests for gists.

Miriam Ruiz: Löve is a changing project [Planet Debian]

 

 

I have just uploaded a newer version of Löve to Debian, 0.9.0. As usual, this version breaks compatibility with the API of previous versions. Literally: “LÖVE 0.9.0 breaks compatibility with nearly every 0.8.0 game“. It’s a hard to fix situation from a package maintainer’s point of view, at least until they agree on a stable API, hopefully in a 1.0 version sometime. Löve has been in Debian official repositories since 2008.

As major changes, we can see that it’s using SDL2 and LuaJIT now. Depending on where the bottlenecks were in some of the demos and games, the performance might have improved a lot. The improvements have been a lot, and the structure of the API is more consistent and clean. Congratulations to everyone that has made it possible.

On the bitter part, well, most of the previous games and demos will most likely not work any more without some changes in the code. As we don’t have any reverse dependencies in the archive (yet), this won’t cause any severe problems. But, of course, Debian is not an isolated island, and people might need to execute some old code without being able to migrate it.

I have prepared some packages for older versions of Löve that might make the situation more bearable for some, until code is migrated to the new API. These versions can be co-installed with the latest version in the archive (0.9.0). I’m not sure if it will be needed, but if it was, I might consider putting previous 0.8 version in the official repositories. I would prefer not to do it, though, as that would make me the de facto maintainer of the upstream code, as Löve community is moving forwards with newer versions.

Daniel Pocock: Debian.org enabled for SIP federation, who will be next? [Planet Debian]

The Debian community has announced the availability of SIP for all of approximately 1,000 Debian Developers who comprise the membership of the organisation.

Benefits for the wider free software community

This means packages providing SIP (and soon XMPP/Jabber) will hopefully be under much more scrutiny from developers in the lead up to the next major Debian release, codename jessie, expected early 2015.

Although the user guide provides setup details for several packages and softphones, including Jitsi and Lumicall, the developers of the core SIP server have not indicated that any specific package should be preferred and it is up to each user to choose the client that best suits their needs.

Who will be next?

Discussion has already started about replicating this technology for the Fedora community.

Users of the Lumicall softphone on Android are already able to make federated SIP calls, so just dialing username@debian.org from Lumicall is sufficient to make a call to a Debian Developer and see federated SIP working.

People who want to try SIP federation for their workplace or any other organisation are encouraged to see the Real-time Communications (RTC) Quick start guide

Steve Kemp: Some software releases to change the topic. [Planet Debian]

Now it is time for me to go silent for a while, and not talk about jobs, unemployment, or puppies.

This past week has also been full of software releases. Some of the public ones include:

Lumail - My console mail client, with integrated lua scripting

After three months of slow work I've issued a new release today. This release features several bugfixes for dealing with malformed MIME messages, and similar fun.

The core set of lua primitives hasn't changed very much for a good six months now, which means I guess rightly what kind of things would be useful.

Templer - My perl-based static-site generator.

This was recently updated to add two new plugins to the core:

  • A redis plugin to allow you to set variables to values retrieved from redis.
  • An RSS plugin to allow you to inline (remote) RSS feeds into your static HTML. Useful for building news-pages, etc.

Although there are a million static-site generators I still think mine has value, and I am consistently using it.

Months ago when I said "I'm writing a mail-client", all I need to do is handle three cases:

  • Display a list of folders.
  • Display index of messages.
  • Display a single message.

Then some new things like "Compose", "Reply", "Forward", I remember somebody commented along the lines of "Yeah, but MIME will make you hate your life" I laughed. Now I know better. Still it works, it works well, and I'm glad I did it.

Jonathan McDowell: Fixing my parents' ADSL [Planet Debian]

I was back at my parents' over Christmas, like usual. Before I got back my Dad had mentioned they'd been having ADSL stability issues. Previously I'd noticed some issues with keeping a connection up for more than a couple of days, but it had got so bad he was noticing problems during the day. The eventual resolution isn't going to surprise anyone who's dealt with these things before, but I went through a number of steps to try and improve things.

Firstly, I arranged for a new router to be delivered before I got back. My old Netgear DG834G was still in use and while it didn't seem to have been the problem I'd been meaning to get something with 802.11n instead of the 802.11g it supports for a while. I ended up with a TP-Link TD-W8980, which has dual band wifi, ADSL2+, GigE switch and looked to have some basic OpenWRT support in case I want to play with that in the future. Switching over was relatively simple and as part of that procedure I also switched the ADSL microfilter in use (I've seen these fail before with no apparent cause).

Once the new router was up I looked at trying to get some line statistics from it. Unfortunately although it supports SNMP I found it didn't provide the ADSL MIB, meaning I ended up doing some web scraping to get the upstream/downstream sync rates/SNR/attenuation details. Examination of these over the first day indicated an excessive amount of noise on the line. The ISP offer the ability in their web interface to change the target SNR for the line. I increased this from 6db to 9db in the hope of some extra stability. This resulted in a 2Mb/s drop in the sync speed for the line, but as this brought it down to 18Mb/s I wasn't too worried about that.

Watching the stats for a further few days indicated that there were still regular periods of excessive noise, so I removed the faceplate from the NTE5 master BT socket, removing all extensions from the line. This resulted in regaining the 2Mb/s that had been lost from increasing the SNR target, and after watching the line for a few days confirmed that it had significantly decreased the noise levels. It turned out that the old external ringer that was already present on the line when my parents' moved in was still connected, although it had stopped working some time previously. Also there was an unused and much spliced extension in place. Removed both of these and replacing the NTE5 faceplate led to a line that was still stable. At the time of writing the connection has been up since before the new year, significantly longer than it had managed for some time.

As I said at the start I doubt this comes as a surprise to anyone who's dealt with this sort of line issue before. It wasn't particularly surprising to me (other than the level of the noise present), but I went through each of the steps to try and be sure that I had isolated the root cause and could be sure things were actually better. It turned out that doing the screen scraping and graphing the results was a good way to verify this. Observe:

adsl-noise.png

The blue/red lines indicate the SNR for the upstream and downstream links - the initial lower area is when this was set to a 6db target, then later is a 9db target. Green are the forward error correction errors divided by 100 (to make everything fit better on the same graph). These are correctable, but still indicate issues. Yellow are CRC errors, indicating something that actually caused a problem. They can be clearly seen to correlate with the FEC errors, which makes sense. Notice the huge difference removing the extensions makes to both of these numbers. Also notice just how clear graphing the data makes things - it was easy to show my parents' the graph and indicate how things had been improved and should thus be better.

James Bromberger: Linux.conf.au 2014: LCA TV [Planet Debian]

The radio silence here on my blog has been not from lack of activity, but the inverse. Linux.conf.au chewed up the few remaining spare cycles I have had recently (after family and work), but not from organising the conference (been there, got the T-Shirt and the bag). So, let’s do a run through of what has happened…

LCA2014 – Perth – has come and gone in pretty smooth fashion. A remarkable effort from the likes of the Perth crew of Luke, Paul, Euan, Leon, Jason, Michael, and a slew of volunteers who stepped up – not to mention our interstate firends of Steve and Erin, Matthew, James I, Tim the Streaming guy… and others, and our pro organisers at Manhattan Events. It was a reasonably smooth ride: the UWA campus was beautiful, the leacture theatres were workable, and the Octogon Theatre was at its best when filled with just shy of 500 like minded people and an accomplished person gracing the stage.

What was impressive (to me, at least) was the effort of the AV team (which I was on the extreme edges of); videos of keynotes hit the Linux Australia mirror within hours of the event. Recording and live streaming of all keynotes and sessions happend almost flawlessly. Leon had built a reasonably robust video capture management system (eventstreamer – on github) to ensure that people fresh to DVswitch had nothing break so bad it didn’t automatically fix itself – and all of this was monitored from the Operations Room (called the TAVNOC, which would have been the AV NOC, but somehow a loose reference to the UWA Tavern – the Tav – crept in there).

Some 167 videos were made and uploaded – most of this was also mirrored on campus before th end of the conference so attendees could load up their laptops with plenty of content for the return trip home. Euan’s quick Blender work meant there was a nice intro and outro graphic, and Leon’s scripting ensured that Zookeepr, the LCA conference manegment software, was the source of truth in getting all videos processed and tagged correctly.

I was scheduled (and did give) a presentation at LCA 2014 – about Debian on Amazon Web Services (on Thursday), and attended as many of the sessions as possible, but my good friend Michael Davies (LCA 2004 chair, and chair of the LCA Papers Committee for a good many years) had another role for this year. We wanted to capture some of the ‘hallway track’ of Linux.conf.au that is missed in all the videos of presentations. And thus was born… LCA TV.

LCA TV consisted of the video equipment for an additional stream – mixer host, cameras, cables and switches, hooking into the same streaming framework as the rest of the sessions. We took over a corner of the registration room (UWA Undercroft), brought in a few stage lights, a couch, coffee table, seat, some extra mics, and aimed to fill the session gaps with informal chats with some of the people at Linux.conf.au – speakers, attendees, volunteers alike. And come they did. One or two interviews didn’t succeed (this was an experiment), but in the end, we’ve got over 20 interviews with some interesting people. These streamed out live to the people watching LCA from afar; those unable to make it to Perth in early January; but they were recorded too… and we can start to watch them… (see below)

I was also lucky enough to mix the video for the three keynotes as well as the opening and closing, with very capable crew around the Octogon Theatre. As the curtain came down, and the 2014 crew took to the stage to be congratulated by the attendees, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit proud and a touch nostalgic… memories from 11 years earlier when LCA 2003 came to a close in the very same venue.

So, before we head into the viewing season for LCA TV, let me thank all the volunteers who organised, the AV volunteers, the Registration volunteers, the UWA team who helped with Octogon, Networking, awesome CB Radios hooked up to the UWA repeated that worked all the way to the airport. Thanks to the Speakers who submitted proposals. The Speakers who were accepted, made the journey and took to the stage. The people who attended. The sponsors who help make this happen. All of the above helps share the knowledge, and ultimately, move the community forward. But my thanks to Luke and Paul for agreeing to stand there in the middle of all this… madness and hive of semi structured activity that just worked.

Please remember this was experimental; the noise was the buzz of the conference going on around us. There was pretty much only one person on the AV kit – my thanks to Andrew Cooks who I’ll dub as our sound editor, vision director, floor manager, and anything else. So who did we interview?

  • Alan Robertson (Assim Proj)
  • Arjen Lentz (twice – well, two topics!)
  • Daniel (A student at LCA for the first time)
  • Dave Chinner (XFS)
  • Erin Walsh (Rego desk manager)
  • Jason Nicholls (AV Director LCA 2014)
  • Jeremy Kerr (Kernel Developer)
  • Jessica Smith (Astronomy Mini Conf)
  • Jono Oxer (Audosat)
  • Karen Sandler (Gnome)
  • Keith Packard (X) and BDale Garbee (Freedom Box, Debian)
  • Kevin Vinsen (ICRAR, Square Kilometer Array)
  • Lennart Poettering (SystemD)
  • Linus Torvalds (Yet another Kernel Developer)
  • Matthew Wilcox (Another Kernel dev, and a Debian Dev as well)
  • Michael Still (OpenStack)
  • Paul Weyper (Canberra Linus Users Group)
  • Paul Wise (Debian)
  • Pia Waugh (Open Government)
  • Rusty Russel (Yet another Kernel Developer! Oh, and started LCA in 1999)

One or two talks did not work, so appologies to those that are missing. Here’s the playlist to start you off! Enjoy.

Colin Watson: Testing wanted: GRUB 2.02~beta2 Debian/Ubuntu packages [Planet Debian]

This is mostly a repost of my ubuntu-devel mail for a wider audience, but see below for some additions.

I'd like to upgrade to GRUB 2.02 for Ubuntu 14.04; it's currently in beta. This represents a year and a half of upstream development, and contains many new features, which you can see in the NEWS file.

Obviously I want to be very careful with substantial upgrades to the default boot loader. So, I've put this in trusty-proposed, and filed a blocking bug to ensure that it doesn't reach trusty proper until it's had a reasonable amount of manual testing. If you are already using trusty and have some time to try this out, it would be very helpful to me. I suggest that you only attempt this if you're comfortable driving apt-get directly and recovering from errors at that level, and if you're willing to spend time working with me on narrowing down any problems that arise.

Please ensure that you have rescue media to hand before starting testing. The simplest way to upgrade is to enable trusty-proposed, upgrade ONLY packages whose names start with "grub" (e.g. use apt-get dist-upgrade to show the full list, say no to the upgrade, and then pass all the relevant package names to apt-get install), and then (very important!) disable trusty-proposed again. Provided that there were no errors in this process, you should be safe to reboot. If there were errors, you should be able to downgrade back to 2.00-22 (or 1.27+2.00-22 in the case of grub-efi-amd64-signed).

Please report your experiences (positive and negative) with this upgrade in the tracking bug. I'm particularly interested in systems that are complex in any way: UEFI Secure Boot, non-trivial disk setups, manual configuration, that kind of thing. If any of the problems you see are also ones you saw with earlier versions of GRUB, please identify those clearly, as I want to prioritise handling regressions over anything else. I've assigned myself to that bug to ensure that messages to it are filtered directly into my inbox.

I'll add a couple of things that weren't in my ubuntu-devel mail. Firstly, this is all in Debian experimental as well (I do all the work in Debian and sync it across, so the grub2 source package in Ubuntu is a verbatim copy of the one in Debian these days). There are some configuration differences applied at build time, but a large fraction of test cases will apply equally well to both. I don't have a definite schedule for pushing this into jessie yet - I only just finished getting 2.00 in place there, and the release schedule gives me a bit more time - but I certainly want to ship jessie with 2.02 or newer, and any test feedback would be welcome. It's probably best to just e-mail feedback to me directly for now, or to the pkg-grub-devel list.

Secondly, a couple of news sites have picked this up and run it as "Canonical intends to ship Ubuntu 14.04 LTS with a beta version of GRUB". This isn't in fact my intent at all. I'm doing this now because I think GRUB 2.02 will be ready in non-beta form in time for Ubuntu 14.04, and indeed that putting it in our development release will help to stabilise it; I'm an upstream GRUB developer too and I find the exposure of widely-used packages very helpful in that context. It will certainly be much easier to upgrade to a beta now and a final release later than it would be to try to jump from 2.00 to 2.02 in a month or two's time.

Even if there's some unforeseen delay and 2.02 isn't released in time, though, I think nearly three months of stabilisation is still plenty to yield a boot loader that I'm comfortable with shipping in an LTS. I've been backporting a lot of changes to 2.00 and even 1.99, and, as ever for an actively-developed codebase, it gets harder and harder over time (in particular, I've spent longer than I'd like hunting down and backporting fixes for non-512-byte sector disks). While I can still manage it, I don't want to be supporting 2.00 for five more years after upstream has moved on; I don't think that would be in anyone's best interests. And I definitely want some of the new features which aren't sensibly backportable, such as several of the new platforms (ARM, ARM64, Xen) and various networking improvements; I can imagine a number of our users being interested in things like optional signature verification of files GRUB reads from disk, improved Mac support, and the TrueCrypt ISO loader, just to name a few. This should be a much stronger base for five-year support.

Enrico Zini: liberation-vs-expectations [Planet Debian]

Liberation vs expectations

I feel like I found a key struggle: liberation vs expectations.

Many ideas liberate me, like poliamory, atheism, anarchism, nonviolent communication, sexual liberation, discordianism, free software, nonjudgemental environments, E-prime, sillyness, love, pataphysics, dada, constructivism, rolling naked in the mud, fantasy, bdsm exploration, pansexuality, this very idea that i'm trying to describe, crying, laughing, mindfulness, what have you.

Sometimes however they become an end rather than a mean, they give me expectations and judgements, and take some other freedom away.

I feel like I found where to draw a line: It's the point inbetween freeing myself of my limits and making myself some new ones.

It's one of those epiphany moments. Weeeeeee!

Sascha Manns: Calibre 1.20.0 packaged for openSUSE [Planet openSUSE]

I’m pleased to announce a new 1.20.0 package of calibre for openSUSE. Whats happend in this version?

New features

  • Edit book: Add a new tool to automatically arrange all files in the book into folders based on their type. Access it via Tools->Arrange into folders.
  • Edit book: Add various validity checks for OPF files when running the Check Book tool.
  • Edit book: Add checks for duplicate ids in HTML/OPF/NCX files
  • Edit book: Add checks for filenames containing URL unsafe characters to the Check Book tool
  • Conversion: Allow getting text for entries in the Table of Contents from tag attributes.

Bug fixes

  • AZW3 Output: When converting EPUB files that include an HTML titlepage and no external cover is specified, ensure that the Go to cover action on the Kindle goes to the cover image and not the HTML titlepage.
  • Prevent setting an incorrect value for compression quality in the wireless driver causing an error
  • Show a busy cursor while calibre is working on matching books on the device to books in the library, which can take a while if the user has a lot of books on the device.
  • iTunes driver: Retry automatically a few times when failing to send multiple book to iTunes.
  • HTML Input: Fix UTF-16/32 encoded files that are linked to from the parent file not being properly processed.
  • EPUB Output: Fix splitting of large HTML files removing all child tags from inside tags.
  • Edit book: Fix tab characters not being identified in the lower right corner.

Downloading

You can find the latest version in the Documentation:Tools Repository. As example for openSUSE 13.1: http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/Documentation:/Tools/openSUSE_13.1/ .

Bugreports

You can send Bugreports for the calibre package to the Novell Bugzilla

Donations

Donations for the packager are everytime welcome. Just click on: Donate

Pavel Machek: Evil people at mozilla [Planet openSUSE]

Mozilla people are now officially evil. When asked, why they don't offer database for download, it was for "privacy of the contributors". Nice. I contributed quite a bit of data. At that time, map only showed numbers of known points in the area.

Now, map contains precise GPS points. So, I can not only see where I live, or where my horse lives, but also where I have been, and how fast I was traveling at that time. Thanks, mozilla. Data actually useful for non-evil purposes, like cell numbers and wifi APs are still not available for download.

Can you spot your house on mozilla map?

(Ideal solution would be of course to stop displaying detailed information on the map, and start allowing database download, in "central point for given cell id / wifi id" form. That should be enough to protect privacy, and it is also useful for geolocation.. without offering your position to mozilla.)

Kohei Yoshida: The art of drawing border lines [Planet openSUSE]

I spent this past week on investigating a collection of various problems surrounding how Calc draws cell borders. The problem is very hard to define and can become very subjective depending on who you talk to. Having said that, if you ever imported an Excel document that makes elaborate use of cell borders into Calc, you may often have seen that the borders were printed somewhat differently than what you would have expected.

Here is an example. This is a very small test Excel document that I made that contains all cell border types that Excel supports. When you open this document in Excel and print it on paper, here is what you get.

excel-print

When you open this document in Calc and print it, you probably get something like this:

calc-print-before

You’ll immediately notice that some of the lines (hair, dashed and double lines to be precise) are not printed at all! Not only that, thin, medium and thick lines are a little skinner than those of Excel’s, the dotted line is barely visible, the medium dashed line looks a lot different, and the rest of the dashed lines all became solid lines.

Therefore, it was time for action.

Results

I’ll spare you the details, but the good news is that after spending a week in various parts of the code base, I’ve been able to fix most of the major issues. Here is what Calc prints now using the build from the latest master branch:

calc-print-after

There are still some minor discrepancies from Excel’s borders, such as the double line being a bit too thinner, the dotted line being not as dense as Excel’s etc. But I consider this a step in the right direction. The dashed and medium dashed lines look much better to my eye, and the thicknesses of these lines are more comparable to Excel’s.

The dash-dot and dash-dot-dot lines still become solid lines since we don’t yet support those line types, but that can be worked on at a later time.

So, this is all good, right?

Not quite. One of the reasons why the cell borders became such a big issue was that we previously focused too much on getting them to display correctly on screen. Unfortunately, the resolution of a typical PC monitor is not high enough to accurately depict the content of your document, so what you see on screen is a pixelized approximation of the actual content. When printing to a paper, on the other hand, the content gets depicted much more accurately simply because you get much higher resolution when printing.

I’ll give you a side-by-side comparison of how the content of the same document gets displayed in Excel (2010), Calc 4.2 (before my change), and Calc master (with my change) all at 100% zoom level.

First up is Excel:

screen-excel

The lines all look correct, unsurprisingly. One thing to note is that when displaying Excel approximates a hairline with a very thin, densely dotted line to differentiate it from a thin line both of which are one pixel high. But make no mistake; hairline by definition is a solid line. This is just a trick Excel employs in order to make the hairline look thinner than the thin line counterpart.

Then comes Calc as of 4.2 (before my change):

screen-calc-before

The hairline became a finely-dashed line both on display and in internal representation. Aside from that, both dashed and medium dashed lines look a bit too far apart. Also, the double line looks very much single. In terms of the line thicknesses, however, they do look very much comparable to Excel’s. Let me also remind you that Excel’s dash-dot and dash-dot-dot lines currently become solid lines in Calc because we don’t support these line types yet.

Now here is what Calc displays after my change:

screen-calc-after

The hair line is a solid line since we don’t use the same hair line trick that Excel uses. The dotted and dashes lines look much denser and in my opinion look better. The double line is now really double. The line thicknesses, however, are a bit off even though they are internally more comparable to Excel’s (as you saw in the printout above). This is due to the loss of precision during rasterization of the border lines, and for some reason they get fatter. We previosly tried to “fix” this by making the lines thinner internally, but that was a wrong approach since that also made the lines thinner even when printed, which was not a good thing. So, for now, this is a compromise we’ll have to live with.

But is there really nothing we can do about this? Well, we could try to apply some correction to make the lines look thinner on screen, and on screen only. I have some ideas how we may be able to achieve that, and I might give that a try during my next visit.

That, and we should also support those missing dash-dot, and dash-dot-dot line types at some point.

Randall Ross: Planet Ubuntu Needs More Awesome - Part 2 [Planet Ubuntu]

In Part 1, I presented some of the results of my surveys about Planet Ubuntu from late 2013. Didn't read the summary? There's still time! What better a way to start your day?

With that behind us, let's dive into Part 2 of my promised summary along with additional bonus colour-commentary and recommendations not available anywhere else (at any price.)

TL;DR:
Planet Ubuntu needs a makeover.

6.


Survey Says:
There is a strong indication that people want a "new and improved" Planet Ubuntu.

Colour Commentary:
I'm firmly of the same opinion. Planet Ubuntu looks creaky and awkward. It's a throwback to an earlier era of web design. Interactivity? Not there. It also doesn't present well on different form factors. Have you ever tried reading it on Ubuntu Touch? Were you happy with the result? I could go on and on, but suffice to say there's room for improvement.

Some of you might be thinking "Why bother? There are plenty of other social web platforms that we could use as an Ubuntu blog. Why not just use ______." The problem with the word that's usually on top of that blank is that it's always out of our control, often predatory, and usually a bad idea in the long run. The best chance we have to shape the personality of one of the most prominent sites about Ubuntu is to actually maintain control of it. Planet Ubuntu reflects on Ubuntu whether we want to admit it or not. Let's admit it and make Planet Ubuntu great again.

Randall Concludes:
Let's reboot it.

7.


Survey Says:
Ignoring the fence-sitters, people want Ubuntu stories to have prominence, by a factor of two to one.

Colour Commentary:
I was a little surprised by how many people don't care one way or another. That aside, the majority vote for increased prominence of Ubuntu-related content is encouraging. I think this represents a good compromise for people who are insistent about blogging about non-Ubuntu topics on an Ubuntu site. (Yes, there are some who are.) Give them a small place, but not a place that detracts from the main event. Maybe the "real estate" a story gets should be proportional to the amount of Ubuntu content it contains. The mechanism for determining that would have to be designed, but it's an idea that has merit.

Randall Concludes:
Ubuntu-centric stories should be granted more prominence.

8.


Survey Says:
Huh?

Colour Commentary:
People have no idea how widely (or not) Planet Ubuntu is read. Some think it's amongst the top sites on the web, and others swear it's nothing but cob webs and tumble weeds. This isn't really surprising since the site doesn't publish any stats, and in the absence of data people will make up some wild assumptions. If we want Planet Ubuntu to have as wide a readership as possible, which IS what we want, then perhaps an important first step would be to insert analytics, or even a simple page view counter that can be graphed over time. That way, well be able to see if we're as popular as we need to be.

Randall Concludes:
Publish page view stats ASAP. We cannot improve what we cannot measure.

9.


Survey Says:
People want Planet Ubuntu authors to abide by the Ubuntu Code of Conduct.

Colour Commentary:
This was a bit of an accidental poll. While I was in the midst of my polling activities an unfortunate article that was a clear violation of the CoC and in poor taste was posted. What surprised (and disappointed) me is how long it took to take it down. Thankfully it was removed, but who knows how many people saw the article and now associate Ubuntu with something crass and juvenile?

Adding even more disappointment, the article was from someone who wasn't even an Ubuntu Member any more. So, it should never even have been posted in the first place.

And, adding *even more* disappointment, an effort to clean up the list of people who could post to Planet Ubuntu had been languishing for months.

Randall Concludes:
Maintain the site. (Looking in the direction of Community Council). Take down CoC violations with haste (i.e. in minutes, not hours). If you don't have the time/bandwidth, then delegate, or increase your numbers.

10.


Survey Says:
Nearly an even split.

Colour Commentary:
Given that there's a desire to make Ubuntu stories more prominent (see above), I'm curious to know what mechanism the people who don't want up-voting would use to make this happen. Perhaps an algorithm that scans for keywords and adjusts prominence accordingly? Or, maybe we could leave the decision to a panel of experts? I don't think either of these options have merit. I advocate that we use a system of up-voting by a group of people that are passionate about Ubuntu and are actively contributing to it day-in, day-out. Perhaps Ubuntu Members would be a good start for a group of up-voters?

Randall Concludes:
We need a reliable way to make Ubuntu articles prominent. Up-voting is that way.

---
To be continued...
I will wrap up the series in my next post with general conclusions and a prescription on how to make Planet Ubuntu awesome again. In the meantime, please share your thoughts in the comments.

Michael Zanetti: Little sneak previews [Planet Ubuntu]

Recently I’ve been busy working on the right edge gesture in Ubuntu Touch. Here’s a little sneak preview:

Note that this is still work in progress and probably won’t hit the image really soon.

If you’ve been paying attention while watching the video you might have noticed that I used Ubuntu Touch to control my living room lighting. That is done with a set of Philips Hue Lightbulbs which I got end of last year and a soon to be released app called “Shine”, running on Ubuntu Touch, MeeGo and Desktops.

Stay tuned!

flattr this!

Krita 2.8 Beta 2 Released [Planet KDE]

This week, we made a lot of progress on the road towards the 2.8 release of Krita, which is expected around the end of this month. There are still a number of bugs that we really want to address, of course, but Krita is getting very polished and stable now!

Important changes since the first beta, released in December are:

  • 19 crash fixes
  • Lovely new splash screen by Tyson Tan
  • The fill tool uses 75% less memory
  • The color palettes have been updated refined
  • New icon for the magic wand/contiguous selection tool
  • Support for non-zero fill rule in the experiment brush (thanks to David Gowers)
  • New icons by Jens Reuterberg, David Revoy and Vasco Basque
  • Fix Krita Gemini to find the QML files correctly on Linux
  • Improved out-of-memory handling
  • Fix the cursor when pressing CTRL to pick colors
  • Fix the cursor outline when hovering
  • Don't show an error when the autosave fails because the user is still painting
  • When pressing backspace/shift backspace to fill a whole layer with the foreground or background color, disregard the global opacity setting
  • Don't show garbage on the canvas when moving a rotated canvas around when OpenGL is disabled
  • Synchronize the color selectors with each other
  • New, more precise cursors by David Revoy
  • Fix calculation of the shape's insets when it has Miter joining
  • Fix the initial size of the window
  • Fix the color smudge brush in dulling mode
  • Fix double cropping of the image when using the infinite-canvas feature
  • Make the text tool create a vector layer
  • Correctly initialize the mouse-pressure feature for the hairy brush
  • Save the Color As Mask setting to brush presets
  • Fix saving a single layer image where the layer is larger than the image
  • Fix the pixelize filter
  • Improve the desaturate filter and add two new types of desaturation
  • Many fixes to the shade selector
  • Show the selection outline when loading a selection from file
  • Fix the high quality scaling on some ATI cards. Patch by Paul Geraskin.
  • Fix performance issues caused by the overview docker
  • Updated brush presets
  • Fix the transform tool to not process locked layers
  • Make the crop tool handle the shift modifier to lock the aspect ratio
  • Add Qt plugins to load ORA and KRA files. This allows these file types to be shown in the reference images docker
  • Smoother thumbnails for KRA files
  • Many fixes to tablet and stylus handling and add preliminary support for evdev-based tablets
  • Fix the Lut docker to use the right OCIO display
  • Fix the COPY blending mode to handle the alpha channel correctly
  • Fix loading hatching brush presets
  • Fix the scaling and reloading of file-backed layers
  • Fix the channel docker getting confused when converting the image a new colorspace
  • Add a third brush option slider to the toolbar
  • Show newly created tags in the context menus for adding tags
  • Fix a deadlock when editing nodes. Thanks to Anton Saraev for the patch!
  • When opening the favourites palette with a keyboard shortcut, show it under the cursor position
  • Fix saving and loading the color-dodge blending mode in ORA files
  • Added a menu entry to open the file manager in the resources folder
  • Fix the autbrush size calculation

For Windows, there are new builds:

A build for Windows XP will follow.

Especially on Windows, we have many important improvements:

  • The x64 build now installs by default into the right folder
  • If the x86 version is started on a 64 bits windows a warning is displayed
  • The installer now allows custom install locations
  • The swapper now works on Windows, which means that crashes due to being out-of-memory shouldn't happen anymore
  • The X86 build is much more stable -- there was an interesting problem there with our memory management. We allowed 50% of the main memory of the system to be used for tiles. However, 32 bits Windows has a 2GB limit per process. If you've got 4GB of memory in your system, Krita would use the full 2GB for tiles, leaving no memory for the rest of Krita.
  • Fix the size and position of the window correctly
  • Fix the mapping of tablet buttons

There are some known regressions that will be fixed before the final release

  • On Intel GPU's with OpenGL enabled, canvas-only mode only works if you disable hiding the titlebar
  • Using the color-to-alpha filter when painting is broken

Upcoming fixes include improved gaussian blur and unsharp mask filters.

 

FLOTUS not waiting until Jan 2017 to do commercial endorsements … [Darleen Click] [protein wisdom]

A little quid pro quo for AARP’s support in passing ObamaCare …

I, for one, look forward to Michelle’s infomercial career with Ron Popeil and his Veg-O-Matic.

h/t Weasel Zippers

“First of all, that is not a typical Latina” [Darleen Click] [protein wisdom]

Latina actress endorses TEA Party candidate in ad, gets fired.

A famed actress is facing backlash in San Francisco’s Latino community, after she voiced support for a conservative candidate for California governor.

Maria Conchita Alonso starred in a campaign ad for Assemblyman Tim Donnelly of San Bernardino County, a Tea Party favorite who is seeking the Republican nomination.

Donnelly has voiced strong views against illegal immigration and was once involved with the Minutemen Project, a group that patrolled the border with Mexico to catch immigrants coming across.

“Politicians and big government are killing our prosperity, pushing welfare costs through the roof and driving our schools into the ground,” Donnelly said in the ad.

Standing next to Donnelly, Alonso jokingly translated in Spanish, “We’re screwed.”

Alonso is an actress of Cuban and Venezuelan descent. She is perhaps best known for her role in the movie “Moscow on the Hudson” which also starred Robin Williams.

The actress was to perform next month at the Brava Theater Center in San Francisco’s Mission District in a Spanish-language version of “The Vagina Monologues,” scheduled for a run from February 14th through 17th. The show is being produced by none other than Eliana Lopez, wife of San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi.

“We really cannot have her in the show, unfortunately,” Lopez told KPIX 5. She said Alonso abruptly resigned from the cast on Friday, given the backlash on the immigration issue. [...]

In the ad, Alonso holds a chihuahua named “Tequila” and uses some vulgar language which has also been a point of contention among some Latino viewers.

“We don’t act like that. First of all, that is not a typical Latina,” said Jim Salinas, a long time Mission resident and former president of the San Francisco Latino Democratic Club. Salinas said there probably would have been boycotts if Alonso had stayed on the production.

The ad is played for laughs and the charge of “vulgar language” is ridiculous …

… but Leftists cannot have any minority stray off the Leftist plantation, so now Ms. Alonso is officially an inauthentic Latina.

Tolerance!

Neuroscience journal edited by kids, for kids [CBC | Technology News]

HI-kidscience-852.jpg

A new science journal has kids reviewing neuroscience papers, with the goal of making studies about the brain easy for young people to understand.

Google Glass-wearing driver beats ticket in court [CBC | Technology News]

A San Diego traffic court threw out a citation Thursday against a woman believed to be the first motorist in the country ticketed for driving while wearing a Google Glass computer-in-eyeglass device.

Yearning for the Bush League [The DiploMad 2.0]

Sorry for the lag in posting. I have had a health issue to deal with, nothing serious, but it has consumed a lot of Ibuprofen and time, and has led me to reflect, again, on "Saber-tooth Tigers and the Design Specifications of Life." It also serves as a reminder that when young, you know why something hurts; when old, it just hurts, and you have no idea why.

On to matters more glum than getting old. Yes, yes, I did make a quasi resolution to fight pessimistic tendencies for the new year, but I give up. Going around with a moronic smile on my face makes me look like I am going around with a moronic smile on  my face: I am not convincing anybody, least of all, me. Just about seventeen days into this new year of 2014, and things are bad, real bad, and not getting better. Can't pretend otherwise, or wish it away into the cornfield.

Before I get to the gist of today's message, let me reflect on the past. Back when I was a useful citizen and had a job, I got a good close up look into how foreign governments actually view the USA and its President. My best time in the foreign service was under Reagan and the Bush father and son presidencies. The worst time was under Obama, followed by Carter, and further back, Clinton. I particularly liked George W. Bush. I had a lot of respect for him as a leader, and as somebody who actually cared about his country, and the people in the field. Some foreign leaders liked Bush, some did not. Some agreed with his policies, some did not. None, however, dismissed him, laughed at him, or failed to take seriously any request or comment coming from him. This was a man not afraid to pull the trigger. That quality, unfortunately or not, is critical in foreign affairs. Working overseas, when I would go see a foreign official and say, "President Bush wants this," those were powerful words, backed up by the demonstrated power of the United States and the willingness of President Bush to use it. As I said, some people did not like Bush, did not like what he tried to do, but he was a serious president who needed to be taken into account.

Those were the Good Old Days. Who takes anything President Obama says seriously? The United States is increasingly irrelevant to major developments in the world. We fritter away on power and influence on nonsense, and on endless lecturing of others on residual issues such as global warming and gay rights. We undermine our network of alliances and disregard our friends' core interests: be it Israel's right to security; the abandonment of of our hard-fought victories in Iraq and Afghanistan; the sell-out of allies such as Mubarak; promoting the Muslim Brotherhood; sabotaging the UK on the Falklands; pushing for mindless regime change in Libya; the Benghazi fiasco; conducting a bizarre zig-zag policy towards Syria; helping make Russia a prominent player in the Middle East; paving the way for Cuba's return to the OAS; acquiescing to Iran's nuclear ambitions; ceding ground to China; and selling guns to Mexican drug cartels. Those are a few examples; I am sure you can come up with more.

We see members of allied governments openly expressing dismay with Obama. Prominent military historian, and senior advisor to the British Ministry of Defense, Sir Hew Strachan, tells the press that Obama is "incompetent." As reported in The Daily Beast,

President Obama is “chronically incapable” of military strategy and falls far short of his predecessor George W. Bush, according to one of Britain’s most senior military advisors.  Sir Hew Strachan, an advisor to the Chief of the Defense Staff, told The Daily Beast that the United States and Britain were guilty of total strategic failure in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Obama’s attempts to intervene on behalf of the Syrian rebels “has left them in a far worse position than they were before.” 
The extraordinary critique by a leading advisor to the United States’ closest military ally comes days after Obama was undermined by the former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who questioned the President’s foreign policy decisions and claimed he was deeply suspicious of the military. 
Strachan, a current member of the Chief of the Defense Staff’s Strategic Advisory Panel, cited the “crazy” handling of the Syrian crisis as the most egregious example of a fundamental collapse in military planning that began in the aftermath of 9/11. “If anything it’s gone backwards instead of forwards, Obama seems to be almost chronically incapable of doing this. Bush may have had totally fanciful political objectives in terms of trying to fight a global War on Terror, which was inherently astrategic, but at least he had a clear sense of what he wanted to do in the world. Obama has no sense of what he wants to do in the world,” he said.
We have Israeli Defense Minister Yaalon saying about John Kerry's obsession with the Palestinians,
"Secretary of State John Kerry – who has come to us determined and is acting out of an incomprehensible obsession and a messianic feeling – cannot teach me a single thing about the conflict with the Palestinians," Mr. Yaalon was quoted as saying in the country's largest daily, Yedioth Ahronoth. The paper said theLikud member's comments were made in private. He was also reported to have said that "the only thing that can save us is if Kerry wins the Nobel prize and leaves us alone."
That is stunning language for a senior Israeli official to use about the American Secretary of State. It shows you how relations between the two countries have suffered during the Obama misadministration. North Africa is imploding; the Saudis are furious over the sell-out to Iran; the Iranians are gloating about their victory over the USA and the West; nobody knows what is happening in Syria; Al Qaeda has taken Falluja; Iraq is slipping into sectarian war; and the Taliban feels confident of victory. And our ahistorical Secretary of State? Well, he's obsessed with the phony Palestinian issue. As I wrote before,
The whole Palestinian homeland bit is a massive scam. Palestinians are Arabs just like the folks in Jordan and Egypt--Arafat was born in Cairo. When the Arab states invaded the nascent state of Israel in 1948, they did not do so for a Palestinian homeland. They just wanted to kill Jews, drive them into the ocean, and eliminate Western influence from the region. Egypt, Jordan, and Syria intended to take the tiny parcel of land allocated to the Jews by the UN and keep it. No Palestinian homeland, no "two state solution," just another "final solution" which would have seen tens-of-thousands of Jews killed, including those born in "Palestine," yes, Jews were also "Palestinians." That's all. Period. 
After the Arab states got their clocks cleaned, we began to hear the baying about a Palestine homeland which just so happened to coincide exactly with the boundaries of Israel. Amazing how that happens! Wherever Jews lived, THAT formed part of the Palestinian homeland. Jordan, of course, had the West Bank from 1948 to 1967; at no time was that then considered part of this definition of the "Palestinian" homeland. It was part of Jordan. There were no international cries to free that portion of Palestine from Jordanian occupation. The West Bank became part of the "homeland" only when Israel took it from Jordan in the Six Day War. 
We also saw the amazing phenomenon of Palestinian refugees. Arabs displaced by fighting started by Arabs were dumped by Arabs on the tender mercies of the UN. The Arab countries wanted nothing to do with them. The UN being all about programs, of course, created the monstrosities known as Palestinian refugee camps, and established a massive money-sucking bureaucracy to administer them and beg for ever greater amounts of money--most of it from Western countries, including the USA. 
 And it goes on. I have just ordered the Gates book, so I won't comment on it until I have read it except to say that from excerpts in the press, our former Secretary of Defense does not apparently hold the Obama misadministration in high regard when it comes to foreign policy and national security issues.

As I write this, President Obama is on TV (when is he not?) trying to put out the NSA fire. Much of what he says is blame shifting nonsense but even what he says that is true comes across as nonsense because of the messenger.  When Obama tells us we need an intel apparatus to defend our country from real enemies, we can probably all agree with the President. The problem is that we know the President does not really believe it and with his deliberate gutting of our military and economic strength, there is increasingly less we can do about those enemies, anyhow.  It's the difference between a threat by Clint Eastwood and one by Don Knotts. The words might be the same, but the message is quite different.

Enough said for now. Off to take my Ibuprofen and rage against old age.

Twelve Nigerian Homosexuals Face Stoning by Sharia Court… [Weasel Zippers]

Via National Turk: Religious leaders in the Nigerian northern State of Bauchi have put 12 men on trial for engaging in an act of homosexuality. Local reporters say the men face stoning to death if found guilty by the Islamic Court which is using the Sharia legal system in the trial. 9 out of the […]

College Feminists Celebrate Sex Week At Northwestern University With “Sex Position Cookies”… [Weasel Zippers]

The thought of hideous feminist wildebeests eating penis-shaped cookies is a mental picture I could have down without. Via Campus Reform: Northwestern University (NU) hosted a Christmas-themed event for students in which they decorated “sex position, penis, and boob cookies.” “Have you been naughty or nice? Get naughty with NU Sex Week and decorate sexy […]

Florida Universities Allow Students To Carry Guns On Campus In Their Cars [Weasel Zippers]

“Hold on, don’t go nowhere, I gotta go get my gun out of my car.” Via Breitbart: Florida universities have begun complying with the First District Court of Appeals’ ruling that “state universities cannot bar students from storing guns in their cars while on campus.” On December 11th, CBS Miami reported that the 15-member court […]

Obama Admin Helped Visiting Muslim Brotherhood Delegation Enter U.S. Without Routine Airport Inspection… [Weasel Zippers]

Wouldn’t want to offend their delicate Islamic sensibilities. Via IPT: Newly released records confirm a 2012 Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) report that the State Department cleared the way for a visiting delegation of Muslim Brotherhood officials to enter the country without undergoing routine inspection by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents. The April 2012 visit came […]

Today Is The Birth Anniversary Of Mohammad [Weasel Zippers]

Congratulate all Muslims on the auspicious birth anniversary of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), teacher of mercy& compassion pic.twitter.com/vNoJrSyfov — Hassan Rouhani (@HassanRouhani) January 18, 2014 Hassan Rouhani, President of Iran urges that we congratulate all Muslims. I’m not sure that “congratulations” would be the first words I would have for Mr. Rouhani and Iran…

Obama Picks Soros Crony To Lead NSA Probe… [Weasel Zippers]

All roads lead back to Beelzebub. Via CNS News: When President Obama needs help, he can always turn to one of the Soros inner circle. In a speech on Jan. 17, Obama announced that his new Presidential Counsel John Podesta will lead a “comprehensive review of Big Data and privacy,” following the NSA privacy scandal […]

Federal Appeals Court Rules Bloggers Have First Amendment Protections [Weasel Zippers]

Watch Obama get a sad on on this one… The Obama regime seems to believe that they have the right to dictate who qualifies as a “journalist”, and seem to argue that only “real journalists” (translate MSM) qualify for journalistic or First Amendment protections. Ah no, and this case could have legal ramifications that could […]

Lightning Breaks Finger Off Christ’s Hand In Rio [Weasel Zippers]

Wild pictures. Via NY Post: Lightning has broken a finger off the right hand of Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro. Father Omar, rector of the shrine that holds the statue, told the Globo radio station that lightning frequently strikes the nearly 100-foot tall statue, a symbol of Rio that overlooks the Brazilian […]

Lib Rag Salon Calls For “Nationalizing” Media To Create “Socialist Society”… [Weasel Zippers]

Libs are truly insane. Via Salon: Imagine a world without the New York Times, Fox News, CNN, the Wall Street Journal, and countless other tools used by the 1 percent to rule and fool. In a socialist society run by and for the working people it represents, the mega-monopolies like Walmart, Halliburton, Exxon-Mobil, and the corporations that run the tightly controlled “mainstream media” […]

Idaho Senators Co-Sponsor Concealed Carry Legislation [Weasel Zippers]

Sounds good but Dingy will never schedule it for a vote. Via Idaho State Journal Idaho U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch are co-sponsoring legislation to expand the rights of gun owners in states like Idaho, according to a press release. Introducing the bill, along with Crapo and Risch, are Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), […]

Judicial Giant Quietly Retired Under Investigation For Travel Expenses [Weasel Zippers]

He is going to pay back the money when he gets his income tax refund. Via TPM When federal appellate court judge Boyce F. Martin Jr. announced his retirement in July, he was praised as “one of the giants of the Kentucky judiciary.” But what was unknown publicly until Friday was that Martin left the […]

Obama (Again) Vows To Rule By Decree If Congress Doesn’t Bow To His Demands… [Weasel Zippers]

How many times is he going to repeat this? WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says he believes 2014 can be a breakthrough year for the country. In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama says the U.S. is primed to bring back jobs lost in the recession or to overseas competitors. But he says […]

2 Americans, IMF And UN Officials Among 21 Killed In Kabul Suicide Attack [Weasel Zippers]

The Taliban are also on the run… Via Reuters A Taliban suicide bomber and gunmen attacked a restaurant popular with foreigners in the Afghan capital, killing up to 21 people including three United Nations staff and the IMF’s top representative in Afghanistan. Gunmen burst into the restaurant spraying diners with bullets after the bomber blew […]

Portland Church Says It Will No Longer Allow Republican Fundraising Dinner Tied To Gun Raffle [Weasel Zippers]

The raffle wasn’t being held at the Church, the winner was going to be announced during the Lincoln Day Dinner. Via Oregon Live A Greek Orthodox church in Portland on Friday yanked permission for the Multnomah County Republican Party to hold a Lincoln Day fundraising dinner tied to a controversial gun raffle. The Multnomah County […]

ESPN Considered Banning Use of “Redskins” Name… [Weasel Zippers]

I’m sure that would have gone over well with ESPN’s viewers. Via ESPN Ombudsman Robert Lipsyte: A wave of hurt feelings, if not a sense of betrayal, seemed to sweep across ESPN last week after the sports website Deadspin revealed that its Baseball Hall of Fame mystery voter was Dan Le Batard, a rising star […]

Obama: We’re Still Going To Collect All The Data, Just May Have Someone Other Than NSA Store It [Weasel Zippers]

So what were the “reforms” Obama touted in his speech? In the words of some, “smoke and mirrors”. He doesn’t intend to actually pay attention to the Constitution and stop collecting the massive amounts of data. He suggested that someone other than the NSA could store it, to “prevent abuse”. So the answer to unconstitutionally […]

Top Syrian Rebel Leader Being Courted By John Kerry: Oh, By The Way, I’m A Member of Al-Qaeda… [Weasel Zippers]

Just last month John Kerry was offering to meet with the newly formed largest Syrian rebel group, Islamic Front. Abu Khaled al-Suri is the leader of the Islamic Front’s largest faction, Ahrar al-Sham. BEIRUT — A top official of a major Syrian rebel group acknowledged Friday that he considers himself a member of al Qaida, an admission […]

Feds Release Details Of “Urgent” New Healthcare.gov Contract [Weasel Zippers]

But..but..I thought it was “fixed”? Let’s pay more to a new company that also has cheated the government in the past, without adequately vetting it..again… Via WFB: Newly released documents reveal the anxieties of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) about Healthcare.gov, which warn that failure to finish the website puts “the entire […]

Chicago Dems Turn MLK Prayer Breakfast Into Democratic Rally… [Weasel Zippers]

Typical Chicago Dem hackery. Via Chicago Tribune: The city’s annual prayer breakfast to honor the life of Martin Luther King Jr. on Friday at times turned into an election-year pep rally for Illinois Democrats to push the idea of a minimum wage hike. The invitation-only event ahead of Monday’s King holiday drew more than 700 […]

Tolerance, San Francisco Style [Jammie Wearing Fools]

A famed actress is facing backlash in San Francisco’s Latino community, after she voiced support for a conservative candidate for California governor.

Maria Conchita Alonso starred in a campaign ad for Assemblyman Tim Donnelly of San Bernardino County, a Tea Party favorite who is seeking the Republican nomination.

Donnelly has voiced strong views against illegal immigration and was once involved with the Minutemen Project, a group that patrolled the border with Mexico to catch immigrants coming across.

“Politicians and big government are killing our prosperity, pushing welfare costs through the roof and driving our schools into the ground,” Donnelly said in the ad.

Standing next to Donnelly, Alonso jokingly translated in Spanish, “We’re screwed.”

Full story.

METRO-NY Conference – teaching and learning [librarian.net]

I kicked off my year of “Back doing talks” with giving the keynote talk at the METRO-NY’s annual conference. I was invited by Jason Kucsma who I know from way back in the day as one of the founders of Clamor Magazine, where I wrote an article about the USA PATRIOT Act in 2004. Jason is now the executive director of METRO-NY and we marveled at how the more things change, the more they stay the same. Clamor’s back issues are hosted at the Internet Archive. They also do Open Library which I’ve been volunteering for over the past year.

My talk was about the past eighteen months of fair use and other similar decisions that we’ve seen in the courts recently and talking about how now, more than ever, it’s a good time to start affirmatively and possibly aggressively sharing our cultural content. You can read the talk online here and see my notes.

One of my favorite things about going to conferences to speak is that I also get to go to listen. I went to three presentations and I had useful takeaways from all of them. This is what I learned.

  • Beyond Digitization: Hacking Structured Data out of Historical Documents – this was a presentation by a few of the folks at NYPL labs discussing how their crowdsourced “help us structure the data in our theater program” project worked. Great demo, interesting talk. Big takeaway: data, raw data, needs to be “first class citizen” in libraries and be available like other materials. We have a lot of content that isn’t just in monograph/serial form, we should get it out there.
  • Open Access is a Lot of Work!: How I Took a Journal Open Access and Lived to Tell About It – Emily Drabinski talked about how she got the Radical Teacher monograph into an open access model and how it was worth it but also a lot of work. Big takeaway: shifting the model to where you do more labor for the project instead of just paying more for it can be useful in not just bottom-line cash ways.
  • Transforming Computer Training Services @ Your Library – Brandy McNeil at NYPL has turned their tech training program into a big, polished, smoothly working system. This is partly because of funding but in many ways it’s because of the buy-in she was able to get and the collaborations that she did with many other people (branch managers, marketers, IT people, etc) and she outlined how that worked and why it was worth it. Big takeaway: centralizing services and having a consistently branded approach can be very useful in a situation where you have 80+ sites and three languages and countless people and spaces to work with.

It’s official: Winamp and Shoutcast acquired by Radionomy Group [Radio Survivor]

RADIONOMY WINAMP SHOUTCASTIt’s finally for real: Winamp and Shoutcast live on. Though there have been reports that the online radio platform Radionomy purchased them from AOL, Radionomy just made the official announcement today.

This comes some 26 days after Dec. 20, 2013, which was the date AOL said the services would be shut down and taken offline. Reports that a sale of Winamp and Shoutcast was imminent surfaced just a day before the scheduled shut-down. The report seemed much more credible in the following weeks when the Winamp and Shoutcast websites remained online and accessible.

Terms of the Radionomy deal were not disclosed. The company said that, “The acquisition will give Radionomy exposure to a much larger audience and pave the way for offering Radionomy listeners an enhanced experience.” CEO Alexandre Saboundjian said that Radionomy plans to make the Winamp player “ubiquitous, developing new functionalities dedicated to desktop, mobile, car systems, connected devices and all other platforms.” Winamp users will also get access to Radiononmy’s inventory of 60,000 internet radio stations.

The Radionomy platform allows anyone to set up an internet station, at no cost to the broadcaster. Radionomy provides advertising and monetization. The Belgium-based company says the Shoutcast acquisition will expand its presence in the US, claiming that it will become “the source of approximately half of all streamed internet radio worldwide.”

It is not yet clear how the Shoutcast directory will be integrated with Radionomy. We also don’t know to what extent Radionomy plans to support the free Shoutcast streaming platform that thousands of stations and stream hosts use for online broadcasting. I hope to learn more about these issues soon.



Rand Paul (accurately) notes that Jim Crow was a majoritarian policy, too. []

I am probably quite a bit too neoconservative for Senator Paul’s liking, but: no fear. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), in an interview Thursday, likened President Obama’s governing philosophy to the kind of “majority rule” that led to Jim Crow laws and Japanese internment camps. [snip] “The danger to majority rule — to him sort of thinking, well, the majority voted for me, now I’m the | Read More »

Tech at Night: When Snowden wins, America loses. Healthcare.gov is still insecure. []

Tech at Night

Bitcoin is not really as widely used as its shills want you to think.

Ajit Pai is the man and understand what it means for the courts to be used to quash innovation. As the courts refused to crush the VCR, I want them to leave Aereo alone.

By the way, Healthcare.gov is still at risk. Good thing it's a miserable failure, though that doesn't help the poor souls already signed up and at risk in the vulnerable systems.

Democrats want to pass a new law mandating a private-public partnership to track where you and your phone are at all times, in the name of 911 calls. But remind me again how all the Snowden stuff is about privacy and not anti-Americanism and a rollback to 9/10/2001 thinking again. Sure, guys. Sure.

Douglas Ruskkoff And The Luddite Left []

Wow! I thought I was the political reactionary. When did Archie Bunker register as a moss-backed Democrat and start work at some predictably Lysenkian font of mainstream media bed-pan wisdom? This apparently took place because Progressive jet-fuel geniuses have just now figured out that a free-flow of information will make it harder for them to control what people are currently thinking or what they say.

I’ve just read an example of this Progressive Neo-Reaction in a Politico Magazine article entitled “How Technology Killed The Future.” Author Douglas Ruskkoff, like the PTSDed space marine in the movie “Aliens” tells us its game over. He explains the nature of our ineffable damnation below.

The result for institutions—especially political ones—has been profound. This transformation has dramatically degraded the ability of political operatives to set long-term plans. Thrown off course, they’re now often left simply to react to the incoming barrage of events as they unfold. Gone, suddenly, is the quaint notion of “controlling the narrative”—the flood of information is often far too unruly.

Arizona GOP lodges FEC complaint against the pro-Ann Kirkpatrick House Majority Super PAC. []

Oops. PHOENIX – The Arizona Republican Party filed a complaint today with the Federal Elections Commission against a pro-Ann Kirkpatrick ad currently running on television in Arizona. The complaint argues that the television ad violates federal laws that prohibit coordination between candidates and Super PACs. The complain asks the FEC to immediately begin an investigation into the ad. The ad, which is running on Phoenix | Read More »

Subscription eBook services and publishers. Why don’t they get along? [TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics]

I’m obviously missing something about subscription eBook services and publishers. To me, it seems like they are a natural. Readers can try a book without worrying about the cost, probably leading them to try something they wouldn’t otherwise read. That’s great for book discovery, which is currently a big concern in the industry. When readers [...]

The post Subscription eBook services and publishers. Why don’t they get along? appeared first on TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics.

Thirty years of time shifting: The Supreme Court decision legalizing the VCR [TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics]

Today marks an important anniversary for our digital media era—an era that couldn’t have been foreseen thirty years ago, but nonetheless relies to a very great extent on a legal decision exactly thirty years old. Today is the 30th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision that declared the Sony Betamax VCR was legal because [...]

The post Thirty years of time shifting: The Supreme Court decision legalizing the VCR appeared first on TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics.

Almost everyone read the Verizon v FCC net neutrality verdict WRONG [The Register]

The end of the internet, my foot

Comment  Doomsday arrived this week – or is about to. That's if you've been reading the tech blogosphere.…

NTT DoCoMo says two mobe OSes are enough, so sayonara to Tizen [The Register]

March launch for Linux-powered phone OS put on indefinite hold

The open-source Tizen mobile OS has suffered another setback, with Japanese mobile giant NTT DoCoMo announcing that it has put off plans to launch a smartphone powered by the system this year.…

Rosetta comet chaser due to wake up for final rendezvous on Monday [The Register]

Ten-year space mission reaches final goal

Scientists at the European Space Agency and NASA are facing a nervous weekend as the Rosetta spacecraft prepares to power up after three years of hibernation on Monday morning.…

Those NSA 'reforms' in full: El Reg translates US Prez Obama's pledges [The Register]

Filleting fact from fiction

Analysis  On Friday, President Obama gave his long-awaited speech on plans to reform the activities of the US intelligence services and how they monitor the rest of the world.…

Google cleared to land in private terminal at Silicon Valley airport [The Register]

Heavy-hitting honchos headed for high-class hanger hangout

Mineta San José International Airport has announced a deal to build a private terminal catering to Silicon Valley executives.…

Someone stole your phone? Now they'll have your STARBUCKS password – the horror! [The Register]

Plaintext logins spark, wait for it, a storm in a C cup

Starbucks has been called out after its smartphone app was caught storing unencrypted passwords on the mobe's file system.…

Johnson & Johnson has removed formaldehyde from its baby shampoo [The Verge - All Posts]

Johnson & Johnson's popular "No More Tears" baby shampoo can now claim yet another "no more" to its title: formaldehyde. The company told the New York Times that as of this month, it's created a entirely new formula for its signature shampoo, sold under the label "improved formula," that eliminates the chemical commonly associated with preserving dead bodies. Formaldehyde is a naturally-occurring chemical in many fruits, but the US government classifies it as a cancer-causing agent in high doses.

Johnson & Johnson maintains that the amount that could previously be found in one bottle of baby shampoo was 15 times less than the amount a person would be exposed to when eating one apple. And to be clear, the company was never deliberately...

Continue reading…

Microsoft re-releases latest Surface Pro 2 update following initial issues [The Verge - All Posts]

Microsoft is re-releasing its latest Surface Pro 2 firmware update today. Following issues with the update last month, the software maker pulled it to investigate and correct the problems. Initial reports revealed failed installations and battery issues in instances where the update was successful. Today's firmware update appears to replace the existing version released in December, and is being offered to systems with or without the previous version. The Verge can confirm the firmware update is rolling out today, outside of Microsoft's Patch Tuesday which occurred earlier this week.

While the Surface Pro 2 firmware update is rolling out, Microsoft has not yet updated its history page for the device to acknowledge the change. Earlier...

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Watch this: fans break onto the set of 'Star Trek: The Next Generation [The Verge - All Posts]

Captain Picard would not have been pleased. Back in 1988, less than a year after Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered, several super fans wandered onto the studio of the iconic series in Hollywood, California, and filmed their own unauthorized, behind-the-scenes tour. One of the invaders was also reportedly a special effects technician working for the show at the time, Greg R. Stone.

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Intel to cut more than 5,000 jobs in 2014 [The Verge - All Posts]

The market for PCs may be stabilizing, but that hasn't stopped Intel from cutting a few thousand jobs. Earlier this week the chipmaker revealed its earnings for 2013, which included "signs of stabilization" for the traditional PC market. However, despite this the company is being forced to reduce its workforce by five percent this year, which amounts to more than 5,000 jobs. The cuts are expected to include retirements and other voluntary options. "This is part of aligning our human resources to meet business needs," spokesman Chris Kraeuter told Reuters.

The announcement comes after an earnings report that seemed like good news for the company, including a two percent quarterly increase in PC revenue and what was described as "strong"...

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Massive Target data breach may have been caused by a Russian teenager [The Verge - All Posts]

The security breach that impacted 70 million Target customers last month may have been caused by malware created by a 17-year-old Russian hacker. While the suspected teenager wasn't actually responsible for perpetrating the attacks, he did reportedly write the software, known as BlackPOS, that was used after being purchased by the eventual attackers. The news comes courtesy "multi-tier intelligence aggregator" IntelCrawler, which reports that the malware used during the Target breach "may have" also been a part of a similar attack on retailer Neiman Marcus.

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Paramount reportedly abandoning 35mm film for US movie theaters [The Verge - All Posts]

Hollywood's digital-only future is quickly approaching. Though the studio hasn't made an official announcement, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that Paramount Pictures has become the first major Hollywood studio to phase out 35-millimeter film for its big theatrical releases in the US. The first digital-only release, according to the Times, is the best picture-nominated The Wolf of Wall Street, which debuted in the US on Christmas day. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, meanwhile, will be the last to be distributed on 35mm.

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Heavy Metal magazine getting rebooted with a focus on film and TV [The Verge - All Posts]

Much like its contemporary Omni, sci-fi and fantasy magazine Heavy Metal is getting a reboot — but this time it's going to be much more than a print publication. As Variety reports, the magazine has been sold to new owners, among them film producer Jeff Krelitz. And the plan is to leverage the Heavy Metal brand across a variety of media, including film and television, with a heavy focus on genre entertainment in the vein of studios like Legendary Pictures. "There are so many fans of Heavy Metal in the industry," Krelitz told Variety. "It was the place that inspired them to become who they are now and has the potential to be so much more."

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Palette modular controller adds dials and switches to your computer [The Verge - All Posts]

Whether it's a touchscreen, keyboard, or mouse, there are plenty of ways to interact with your computer, but sometimes you need something a little more tactile. Enter Palette, described as a "freeform hardware interface," that lets you create a custom controller with a variety of switches, dials, and buttons. It works with Mac, Windows, and Linux devices, and the creators say that they're working to support a variety of software right away, including Photoshop and Traktor. Each module also comes with built-in LED lights so you can work late into the night.

All of the pieces come in the form of tiny blocks and you can arrange them however you like, sticking them together like LEGO blocks. "Our fingertips are some of the most sensitive...

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The Weekender: constructing cameras, creating cars, and conserving California's water [The Verge - All Posts]

Welcome to The Verge: Weekender edition. Every Saturday, we'll bring you some of the best and most important reads of the past seven days, from original reports, to in-depth features, to reviews and interviews. Think of it as a collection of some of our favorite pieces that you may have missed — or that you may just want to read again. You can follow along below, or keep up to date on Flipboard.

Continue reading…

Lightroom for iPad briefly appears on Adobe's site before being pulled [The Verge - All Posts]

Photo editors could get an important mobile app from Adobe soon. According to a listing posted earlier this week on the company's website, Lightroom could be coming to the iPad. As 9to5Mac reported, the product listing was up for a brief period of time before it was quickly taken down. The mobile software was priced at $99 per year with a cloud subscription, allowing you to sync photos between your computer and your iPad. The rumored feature would match up well with Lightroom's reported tagline: "Take Lightroom anywhere."

This isn't the first we've heard of a mobile Lightroom app — the company has been planning a program like this since early 2013 when it demoed a Lightroom-style mobile app on The Grid, an online show from Photoshop...

Continue reading…

Ariane [Transterrestrial Musings]

Looks like they’re in big trouble. It was a business model set up to compete with the Space Shuttle, not a truly reusable vehicle with modern technology. They may continue to get some business for Ariane 5 for political reasons, but I’d say their only chance is to back to the drawing board with Ariane […]

Sex In The Popular Culture [Transterrestrial Musings]

Why it’s becoming drenched in it.

Politics And Pschology [Transterrestrial Musings]

Some thoughts on Jonathan Haidt’s work. Note all the umbrage in comments from “liberals” (they’re not really — they’re leftists). But I’ve never seen them address the issue of why conservatives and libertarians are so much better at predicting a “liberal” viewpoint than the other way around. [Update a few minutes later] Bad link. Fixed […]

The IRS And 2014 [Transterrestrial Musings]

They’re working to make sure the political opposition is muzzled again.

The One Ring [Transterrestrial Musings]

Would it work for anyone other than Sauron?

The Invisible Judith Curry [Transterrestrial Musings]

Apparently, she doesn’t fit the narrative. [Update a while later] Gee, maybe global warming isn’t worth doing anything about. Yeah, may be. [Update a few minutes later] Curry responds to Michael Mann’s accusation that she is “anti-science.” [Update a couple minutes later] Has the sun gone to sleep? Who cares? After all, all these genius […]

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