2015-04-18

18:07

A Message In A Book [According To Hoyt]

I wanted to call that a message in a bottle, but that’s only because if I weren’t on pain pills I’d be drinking heavily.
I’m not going to go on a Hugo-thing, because frankly saying Sad Puppies doesn’t want message is not anything we did, but the same craziness that has the other side dubbing me a white (I’m spun gold, thank you very much. Take it up with Lowes and their paintchips) Mormon Dude. It’s not what we said and answering the craziness just encourages the mad people. Or to quote Grandma “I wouldn’t engage with a mad person even to go to heaven, because he might throw me down from there.”
Yes, there was some grumbling (Brad? Me? Who knows. Us Mormon dudes all look alike) about Message Fiction but that’s not the same as endorsing books without message.
How not, Sarah? You ask.
Well, because I don’t think it’s possible to have a book without any messages. At least not a book worth reading. A message will sneak in even in the under-plots, sub-plots or character development.
Take the Shakespeare books (please? I could use some more sales. Back titles have been sluggish. I don’t want to run a sale until I’m ready to write the final two which at this point looks like next year) – they were self-consciously devoid of political message, since I was so deep in the political closet I could have benefited from the installation of louvers on the door for ventilation.
What I couldn’t empty them of was of Sarah. I mean, I was the one writing it, and my assumptions and ideas leaked into the world building. What we see of Tudor England we see through my eyes. Some other writer might have made Nan a termagant, while I just made her strong and a little exasperated by her husband’s… poetic nature. Some other writer might have had a lot more explicit sex in, given the gender changing elf, while I limited myself to an oblique reference to sex on the kitchen table. More importantly, I think (it’s hard to tell, because it’s my own) that a certain doubt about the rightness of institutions, a certain poking fun at the nature of creativity, and a certain slipperiness of what is reality crept in. Because I’m in. Could those be assembled into a message? I’m sure they did for many people.
Or take my shifter books, also written as apolitical (more on that later): in reading them to get situated for the next book, I can’t avoid the feeling that they have a message about young people settling down to the business of growing up and looking after themselves and others. Not on purpose. It’s just that the people who thrive in the book are people who forge friendship connections and work hard. There is also a message of “police your own, or your enemies will.” I.e. if someone you identify with, someone on your tribe, commits a heinous crime, it’s up to you to stop the criminal, or the police and the normal law will tear your group apart. (Note for the other side who will try to take this out of context: prove “my tribe” and then prove “crime.” I don’t believe in thought-crimes.)
On the something more on that – in Noah’s Boy I’ve seen reviews slamming the book as political. This puzzled me at first, then I remembered I have a character in the beginning talking about illegal immigration as a side effect of the minimum wage and also as pulling it down. Now, for the observant people, the character who says that is Jason Cordova (one of the fun parts of the Shifter books is tuckerizing all my friends, including Professor Squeak and some of my fans from the diner.) and while I agree with his opinion, that opinion was also almost verbatim a conversation we’d had. It was certainly not the ‘message’ of the book, since the rest of it has bloody all to do with immigration (illegal or not – though because of the nature of Shifters a lot of the characters have immigrant parents) or with economics. Unless, of course, we mean immigration from the stars and economics of soul-preservation. Or something.
Now the lines the character says are maybe 30? Interspersed in other stuff, and it’s there mostly to distract the reader from certain clues about the nature of the character.
Is there a message in those lines? Well, I’d like more people to start thinking of economics as a science, like meteorology and understanding that while you can make it rain, do it enough and you cause a distortion in weather patterns, metaphorically speaking. I.e. yeah, sure you can raise the minimum wage (or have a minimum wage at all) but there will be consequences. Are those consequences you’re willing to live with? This is a valid point, and I’d like a lot more people to think about it.
Is that the message of the book? No, I’m fairly sure if that book has a message it’s “don’t marry someone just because some dragon wants you to.”
On the serious side, no, it’s not the message of the book. It’s some lines in a book.
Someone brought up Starship Troopers in yesterday’s comments saying it absolutely was message because of Johnny’s Civics lessons and blah….
Yeah. Okay. Let’s establish it has a message. What is the message? The characters in that world believe in the civics lessons, but they also have some sort of math that applies to politics. So, that’s the characters. What about the author? Was the message that this would be the better way to live?
The discerning reader (eh) might want to consider the other hints given in the books, the signs of resentment between businessmen/productive class and the military and wonder at other things, such as would that restricted a society innovate enough.
I mean, yeah, sure, no crimes against people in parks, but is this the best society evah?
I have read the book a million times, give or take a thousand, and I can’t tell you. I can tell you that the book gave me a lot to think about on the intersection of security and freedom and how you can fall into excess at both ends.
However, the book itself isn’t set up to validate that this future world is ideal. There are, as I said, hints and cracks of resentment and nowhere do we hear utopia has arrived. In fact the very clash with the bugs betrays less than utopia. People are immigrating. People want off Earth. This is never ONLY for economic reasons, as anyone who has read history knows. And Johnny Rico’s arc has more to do with being a very lonely/spoiled little rich kid, who finds a place to belong. His character arc is one of acceptance and blossoming as part of something larger than itself. It could have been done with another family, or a cult. It’s done with the military because that supports the whole security versus freedom arc of questioning. Why Johnny makes that journey is perhaps best understood in his father’s attempt to buy him off enlisting (with a trip/money, not with attention/love) and in his father’s later description of his state of mind before he himself enlists. (I.e. suffering from stress induced by being a business man in challenging times.)
So, is there a message there? I don’t know. “Be careful how much security you wish for” or “Do you want a more regimented society where people are free to walk around unarmed after dark? This is how to do it. Now, is this what you want?” could be it. But MOSTLY (and we have Heinlein’s word for it) after all the important stuff like feeding his family, he wrote to make people think. Tons to think about that, and a good chance you’ll write entire books “refuting” Johnny’s Civic lessons.
With good writers it’s never a good idea to take the beliefs of the characters as the message of the book.
So what is this message fiction we complain about. Well, it’s Piers Plowman. It’s a story written entirely to deliver a message. Not only will the characters harp on it, but every detail of the book (including names) will be distorted to support it. In its worst instances it’s like Novel Ninja’s post on Piers Plowman. It will all draggingly support the message, and the characters will explain how the message was right, and the writer will obvious avoid saner plots in order to demonstrate the message.
Say in the “failed colonization” novel I vaguely remember reading in the seventies, the message was “humans shouldn’t colonize the stars, because there are things out there so strange that it will drive our smart/competent people nuts, and the insane people aren’t strong enough to colonize.” Now, is that the message I took at the time? No. The message I took at the time was “See how I thwart your dreams of space colonization, you stupid little reader and show how much smarter than you I am.”
I don’t remember much of the book. I appalled me. The two things I remember vividly is that the captain died in a stupid and contrived gun (blaster, whatever) accident and that the last surviving member was a rocking hysteric (by which I mean rocking back and forth) who chooses to end it all, because he wasn’t worthy of being in this world. Or something.
But I do remember that along the way characters often took actions that made no sense, just so they could die.
In other words, message fiction is where you see the author’s fingers firmly in control of the wires making the characters dance and ALL of it leads to a pre-ordained conclusion from which there is no escape, usually a conclusion that is announced at the beginning.
It is possible to read any book as message fiction, if you stretch. But as close as I’ve come to it, I lack the single mindedness to drive everything to that end. There will be other threads. There will be questioning of whether the idea is right, and there will be bad consequences to the idea, because there always are.
However, there has been a tendency in trad publishing to “reward the right message” with promotion and push (though the message is often only obvious because they know the writer is the “right sort.”)
I disapprove of that simply because I find message fiction boring, even when I agree with it. It’s like you’re using your characters to prove a syllogism. It might be good math-proof, but it sucks as entertainment, as conveyance of emotion, as the importing of others’ experiences to the space behind your eyes that is what fiction at its best does.
RES in comments yesterday made an analogy between message being either the pill wrapped in a tasty-pocket of fiction with characters and plot, or the pill being naked and shoved down people’s throats. He is roughly right. I can take the message in the tasty pocket, and while I might or might not swallow it, it will be more fun than the naked pill, which often gets – metaphorically speaking – spit out on the rug. However, as someone pointed out, the best message is the ingredient you can’t see with the naked eye, but which still hits the mind. In other words, what I used to do because my kids didn’t eat veggies was puree them and mix them in meatloaf. Which meant they ate veggies without noticing.
But while that is the “best” there is still another level of message. I’d say that’s what I tend to do, simply because I often don’t “see” what I was trying to convey until revision. That is the message that comes from the way you mix the ingredients. For instance my all meat meatloaf is half ground beef and half ground turkey (usually bought on sale and as cheap as bread) two glugs of whatever wine is left from the last time we had a glass with dinner, some Italian herbs, two eggs, and a few crushed cloves of garlic.
The exact proportions are so ingrained (I’ve been doing this for over twenty years) that I ajust for the meat I have, and sometimes add some olive oil if the mix looks too dry. I could give you the exact same ingredients and your meatloaf would come out completely different.
That level of message is the message you can’t avoid. Nor would you want to. After all assembling the meatloaf is what we do. Meatloaf is what you sell. And we can’t make meatloaf without combining ingredients in the proportion that feels right to us.
Now if I even realize what the message (or the theme) of the story is, during revision, I might go back and draw it a little more clearly.
But I have never, not consciously, let message overwhelm the story. And I have never spent time doing things like naming characters Lee Tletuerp or the equivalent.
So message in fiction? Good heavens, yes. Pretty much always. How can you avoid it when you’re projecting the past into the future and building an entire world? Your beliefs will leak in.
Message so obvious your reader feels like you pounded him or her with the message-mallet ™ ? Try to avoid it. It makes for boring fiction, even if we agree with the message.
The best way to distinguish between the two? First readers. Be aware that there is a range of reactions. Some people will think your subtly drawn characters are like message-mallets and weirdly sometimes those will be the ones who agree. Others wouldn’t see message if it bit them in the nose.
But Message Fiction? Consciously sitting down and writing an entire novel to support a message, even if the message is as innocuous as “be kind to our webfooted friends, that duck might be somebody’s mother”?
Why bother? You’re more likely to carry your point with honest non fiction. And the reader will feel less insulted.


Ceci N’Est Pas Un Promo Post [According To Hoyt]

*The French is the Free Range Mollusc’s fault and though I still read the thing effortlessly, my grammar is all gone.  So if you don’t like it, yell at him.  Post on message and fiction (encore) later. I slept late today – SAH*

Good morning to one and all, ladies, gentlemen, cats, dragons, plants, and nameless horrors from beyond the stars alike! I’ve a raft of books for you this weekend. A couple of new releases, several rereleases, and a few older books for those who may have missed them the first time round, with one by our beloved Shadowdancer leading the list. Whether one of the books here or an old favorite, go read a good book this weekend! Life is too short to spend on boring books.

As always, future entries can (and should!) be sent to my email. Happy reading!

Jason Dyck, AKA The Free Range Oyster

Codemonkey, Word Polisher, Minion to the Stars

R.K. Modena

Sparrowind: The Dragon Who Lived As A Knight

Tiny Sparrowind can’t hunt from the sky, cannot hope to best his siblings in contests of strength, and scrapes by to survive. But in the books stashed in his parents’ hoard of gold and gems he finds a greater treasure: ideals.

Deciding to make his own way in life gives him more hope than he could have if he tried living only by the way of Dragonkind, but can this dreamer of a Dragon find his place in the world?

A delightful tale for all ages, that may be shared by reading out loud – either to a young audience, or those who are young at heart.

John Van Stry

The Sea of Grass

Portals of Infinity: Book Four

With no otherworld tasks to run for Fel, Will has spent the last year mainly helping Rachel consolidate her hold on her expanded kingdom. Barassa has been set back, for now, but Will knows it’s only a matter of time until they’re at odds once more and Barassa still has the bigger army. So taking the time to learn more about their enemy seems like a good place to start, and of course, Rachel has more things she expects him to do, even if he has no idea just how he’s going to do them.

Fel has things for Will to do as well, even if they are the more mundane jobs that a Champion of the faith must perform. Escorting missionaries isn’t the most exciting or glamorous job, but its one Will must do. At least the people are different, interesting, and friendly, and some perhaps a little too friendly. But that’s never gotten him in trouble before, right?

Peter Grant

War To The Knife

Laredo War Trilogy Book 1

Laredo’s defenders were ground down and its people ruthlessly slaughtered when the Bactrians invaded the planet. Overwhelmed, its Army switched to guerrilla warfare and went underground. For three years they’ve fought like demons to resist the occupiers. They’ve bled the enemy, but at fearful cost. The survivors are running out of weapons, supplies, and places to hide.

Then a young officer, Dave Carson, uncovers news that may change everything. An opportunity is coming to smash the foe harder than they’ve ever done before, both on and off the planet. Success may bring the interplanetary community to their aid – but it’ll take everything they’ve got. Win or lose, many of them will die. Failure will mean that Bactria will at last rule unopposed.

That risk won’t stop them. When you’re fighting a war to the knife, in the end you bet on the blade.

Mary Catelli

Newly released in print editions

Madeleine and the Mists

Enchanted pools, shadowy dragons, wolves that spring from the mists and vanish into them again, paths that are longer, or shorter, than they should be, given where they went… the Misty Hills were filled with marvels.

Madeleine still left the hills, years ago, to marry against her father’s will. If her husband’s family is less than welcoming, she still is glad she married him, and they have a son, two years old.

But her husband’s overlord has fallen afoul of the king. And all his men fall with him, including her husband.

She sets out, to seek the queen and try to bypass the king – and the Misty Hills.

Some things are not so easily evaded.

Also available from Barnes & Noble

A Diabolical Bargain

Growing up between the Wizards’ Wood and its marvels, and the finest university of wizardry in the world, Nick Briarwood always thought that he wanted to learn wizardry.

When his father attempts to offer him to a demon in a deal, the deal rebounded on him, and Nick survives – but all the evidence points to his having made the deal.

Now he really wants to learn wizardry. Even though the university, the best place to master it, is also the place where he is most likely to be discovered.

Also available from Barnes & Noble

Curses And Wonders

A collection of tales of wonder and magic.

A prince sets out to win his way to the dragon’s lair.

A woman fights a curse on her lands.

A man returns to his castle, bringing a magical sword, and worse things.

And more tales.

Includes “Dragon Slayer”, “The Book of Bone”, “Mermaids’ Song”, “Witch-Prince Ways”, “Sword and Shadow”, “Eyes of the Sorceress”, “Fever and Snow” – and “The Emperor’s Clothes”, which is not sold separately.

Also available from Barnes & Noble

Enchantments And Dragons

A wizard must produce justice enough to satisfy a dragon.

A young man tries to rob a tiger’s lair.

An enchantress tries to keep a court safe while they ignore the perils of misusing her magic.

A lady finds that court intrigues can spread even to the countryside.

And more tales.

Includes “Over the Sea To Me,” “Dragonfire and Time”, “The Maze, the Manor, and the Unicorn”, “The White Menagerie”, “The Dragon’s Cottage,” “Jewel of the Tiger,” and “The Sword Breaks.”

Also available from Barnes & Noble

Mackey Chandler

April

April Book 1

April is an exceptional young lady and something of a snoop. After a chance encounter with a spy, she finds herself involved with political intrigues that stretch her abilities. There is a terrible danger she, and her friends and family, will lose the only home she has ever known, and be forced to live on the slum ball Earth below. It’s more than an almost fourteen year old should have to deal with. Fortunately she has a lot of smart friends and allies. It’s a good things because things get very rough and dicey. They challenge the political status quo, and with a small population the only advantage they have in war is a thin technological edge.

And What Goes Around

April Book 6

The nation of Home and their ally Central seem to have bought some safety by moving Mitsubishi 3 from Low Earth Orbit to a halo orbit around L2 beyond the moon. It has added some expense to stay supplied, but it has unexpected advantages too. A little extra distance works just fine when Earth has its own problems. Like April and her close friends Heather and Jeff, Home is growing, developing its own character, and becoming more independent. They really have no choice.

Witchfinder


Part regency Romance (ah!), part adventure science fiction, this novel set in the magical land of Avalon will take you to various worlds (including ours) as Seraphim Ainsling, Duke of Darkwater navigates a web of intrigue and treachery upon which hangs the fate of the world and his own family.  Buy from Amazon here.  (And I swear I’m going to resume Rogue Magic if not this coming weekend, then the weekend after — depending on getting other house up — and race it to the finish. – SAH)


Leftist Writers: We're Here to Abolish White People [Ace of Spades HQ]

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Ben Affleck Lobbies PBS To Have His Slave-Owning Ancestors Censored From A Show About His Genealogy [Ace of Spades HQ]

Other people whose ancestors were probed on Finding Your Roots were revealed to have had slave-owning ancestors. Only Ben Affleck asked to have this censored. And the show acceded to his demand. And speaking of a fascist world in which...

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Saturday Gardening Thread: Persevere [Y-not, KT, Weirddave] [Ace of Spades HQ]

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Saturday Morning Politics Thread: Can We Forgive Marco Rubio? [Y-not] [Ace of Spades HQ]

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Overnight Open Thread (17 Apr 2015) [Ace of Spades HQ]

FBI holds "special" meeting in Juarez to address ISIS camp. OK, what they mean by addressing the ISIS camp is find out who is leaking information of the camp to Judicial Watch....

Hey rockstars, it’s time to play #Bandwiches! Check out... [http://atmidnightcc.tumblr.com/]



Hey rockstars, it’s time to play #Bandwiches! Check out these examples and give us your own! 🎸

SUPERVAN IV [Tim Blair]

During this evening’s tense episode of Supervan, the solar-powered wonder wagon finally arrives at Freak Out. Will this heroic vehicle claim the $5000 first prize?…

VAN’S BANS [Tim Blair]

Various leftists compare notes after being vanbanned by the Guardian‘s Vanessa Badham.

Why journalists should (at least sometimes) be activists [Dan Gillmor » Blog]

At the International Journalism Festival in Perugia, Italy, this week, I gave a talk entitled “Why Journalists Should be Activists,” and apart from a few departures from the text below, here’s what I said:

Two months ago, a New York Times journalist, investigative reporter James Risen, went on Twitter to denounce the Obama administration’s attitude toward the press. The administration, he said, was the “greatest enemy of press freedom in a generation.”

Risen’s tirade became a topic of conversation in the community of people who watch and comment on journalism. Some said a reporter shouldn’t be expressing such thoughts publicly, because it might cause readers to question his – and his newspaper’s – commitment to objective reporting. But the newspaper’s editor in charge of of journalism standards told Margaret Sullivan, the Times’ public editor,  that Risen had done the right thing.

“In general,” this editor said, “our reporters understand that they don’t and shouldn’t editorialize on issues we cover….I would put this in a different category.”

What category? Freedom of the press, of course. And he was right.

This was an important moment in the history of the New York Times. It was officially admitting that it is not neutral – isn’t pretending to be neutral – on this. The Times was, as an organization, taking an activist stance—far from its traditional role of observer and reporter.

I’m here to suggest to you today that all journalists need to think of themselves as activists in the world we now live in.

Before I explain this further, let me explain what I mean by journalism and activism. Journalism can include so many things, ranging from deep investigative work to fluffy entertainment, but for our purposes I think of it as helping people understand they world they live in, so they can make better decisions about how they live. This often involves telling truth to the rich and powerful, and uncovering things that the rich and powerful would prefer to keep secret. It also involves being thorough, accurate, fair, independent and – this is not done enough – transparent. Journalism is vital to liberty, because it is a cornerstone of free speech.

For activism, I’ll simply use the dictionary definition: “the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change.” I’d add to that – sometimes activism is campaigning to stop things from happening.

In many parts of this world, doing real journalism is activism—because truth telling in some societies is an act designed to bring about change.” I’m humbled by the people who risk their freedom, and sometimes their lives, to tell their fellow citizens and the rest of the world what is happening where they live. You will be hearing from one of them in the next talk.

In the western democracies with a more robust tradition of free speech and a free press, the idea of journalists as activists is often seen as taking sides in contravention of journalistic norms. But there’s a long and honorable history of what we call “advocacy journalism” – we could easily call it “activist journalism” – exposing injustices with the absolute goal of stirring public anger, and then public action to bring about change. In America, the people we called muckrakers in the early 20th century did brilliant journalism of this kind. Today filmmaker Laura Poitras, who’ll be speaking here by video this evening, and her colleagues are among many others who are carrying on that tradition. Do see CitizenFour, by the way; it’s brilliant.

Also today, we have a new category of journalism in this realm – journalism being done by people who are advocates first, and media producers second. I’m talking about Human Rights Watch, which consistently brilliant reporting on human rights issues around the world.

I’m talking about the American Civil Liberties Union, an organization in my own country that consistently does some of the best journalism – in several senses of the word – about threats to our fundamental liberties. In the interest of transparency, I should mention that my fantastically talented nephew, Daniel Kahn Gillmor, works with the ACLU.

In the past, these organizations and NGOs like them around the world were doing the journalism. But to get it seen they had to persuade traditional media organizations to care about, and then to publish or broadcast, reports based on the information the NGOs had collected. Now, in the digital age, every organization of any kind is also a media enterprise, and can go more directly to the public. Collaborations with traditional journalists are still helpful, but no longer as absolutely necessary as they were. We journalists should be welcoming the advocates to the journalism ecosystem – and recognizing them for their work. By the way, the American Civil Liberties Union probably litigates more open-records cases, using the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, than all traditional news organizations put together.

Now, I’m not saying all advocates are doing journalism – far from it. In many cases we’re getting untrue, unfair propaganda. We need know the difference, as journalists and as members of the public – that’s another talk entirely.

So we have a baseline of journalistic activism – all around us and often incredibly valuable – on a variety of issues. It make many traditional journalists, especially in my country, uncomfortable. Because we’re told, again and again, that one of journalism’s core values is objectivity and/or neutrality.

But even those journalists who worship at the altar of objectivity should recognize that on at least some issues, they cannot possibly be objective. Or at least, they should not be. On some issues we have to take stands, even though those stands may put us at policy odds with the people and institutions we cover.

What are these issues? The New York Times has picked one: freedom of the press. I hope no one here would dispute the need to take a stand for press freedom.

But I’d suggest this is only one of several policy issues where journalists who do not take activists stands are unfit to call themselves journalists. They all come under larger topics that are at the core of liberty, among them: freedom of expression, freedom to associate, freedom to collaborate, freedom to innovate.

We can’t be neutral here. We should be openly biased toward openness and freedom. Period.

Powerful governments and corporations are leading the attack against these core values, usually in the name of protecting us or giving us more convenience. In the process, these powerful entities are creating a host of choke points. They’re doing their best to lock down a lot of our computing and communications, and creating a system of control by others over what we say and do online.

This is a betrayal of the Internet’s decentralized promise, where speech and innovation and collaboration would often start at the edges of this network of networks, where no one needed permission to do those things. Choke points mean we have to ask permission.

What are these choke points? The most obvious is what’s happening to the Internet itself. Start with direct censorship, a growing trend in far too many parts of the world. I can’t imagine anyone here would object to journalistic activism on this front.

Surveillance, too, has become a method for government — often working with big companies — to keep track of what journalists and activists are doing—going way beyond the mission of stopping terrorism and solving major crimes. Surveillance is having a measurable chilling effect on freedom of expression, and no society that exists under pervasive surveillance can claim to enjoy basic liberty. We know from history that it deadens innovation and culture. If we don’t actively oppose mass surveillance, we’re not fit to call ourselves journalists.

Another choke point is the telecommunications industry. In America and many other countries– and often in concert with governments– big telecoms say they should have the right to decide what bits of information get to people’s devices in what order and at what speed, or whether they get there at all. This is what the network neutrality debate is all about in the U.S.: whether we, at the edges of the networks, or the telecom companies that provide the access to the Internet, get to make those decisions. If we don’t campaign for open and truly competitive networks, we’re not fit to call ourselves journalists.

“Intellectual property” is a valuable concept, but it’s also a choke point. Hollywood and its allies try to lock down or control innovative technologies that threaten incumbent companies’ business models. They’re abusing the patent and copyright systems, among other tactics. And they never ever quit. The latest sneak attack from this crowd comes in a secretly negotiated treaty called the Trans Pacific Partnership is the latest attempt by the intellectual property cartel to prevent innovation, and speech, that it can’t control—among many other bad effects. (We know about some of this because Wikileaks has published drafts of several chapters of this immense treaty.) If we don’t explain to the public what is happening, and then campaign for a more open process and for the right to innovate, we are unfit to call ourselves journalists.

Speaking of Wikileaks, let’s mention another choke point: the major payment systems  like Mastercard, Visa and PayPal. They almost shut down Wikileaks with a funding blackout. Only a few news organizations noticed, much less complained. Yet if you can’t get paid for your work, how do you plan to put food on your table? The centralized payment industry holds enormous power, by proxy, over journalists’ ability to make a living. If we don’t campaign against its arbitrary decisions, we’re not fit to call ourselves journalists.

Now let’s be honest about something: We’ve helped create some of the choke points — by choosing convenience over liberty in relying centralized Internet platforms like Facebook and Twitter and Google. I have to note that these companies do provide useful services. And they are often trying to be advocates for free speech, though not consistently.

But do journalists understand that the Internet is getting new editors, namely the people who work for some of those companies? Do journalists understand that by feeding Facebook they are feeding a company that will be their biggest financial competitor? If this was only a business issue I wouldn’t raise it. But it’s much more than that. This is about whether the terms of service at a tiny number of giant companies, as opposed to the First Amendment, will effectively determine our free speech rights. If we aren’t activists for open, decentralized technology and communications, we are unfit to call ourselves journalists.

The corporate online powers are also spying on us. It’s their business model. Journalists are waking up to this, more so in Europe than in the U.S., but we all need to be thinking harder about how companies can use and abuse big data. If we aren’t campaigning for privacy from corporations, not just governments, we are unfit to call ourselves journalists.

I’m not asking journalists to ignore nuances in any of this; life and business and policy truly are complicated. But when it comes to things that directly threaten perhaps our the most fundamental liberties—without which journalism is vastly more difficult if not impossible—there’s no excuse for failing to explain what’s at stake. Nor is there any excuse for failing to take more direct action.

Core freedoms – of expression, association, and more – should be everyone’s right. Journalists have a duty to be their defenders.

So I ask this of my journalism friends: Take stands, loudly and proudly. Be activists. Unless you prefer a world of choke points and control by others, this is part of your job.

(Note: Portions of this talk are from a piece I wrote for Medium last year.)

Regarding Chrome’s Power Efficiency on OS X [Daring Fireball]

Vlad Savov, writing for The Verge:

While reviewing the new MacBook Pro with Retina display, I ran the usual Verge battery test on Apple’s new machine. With the screen set to 65 percent brightness, it cycles through a series of websites until the laptop’s battery gives out. The native Safari made the new Retina machine look good: 13 hours and 18 minutes. Google’s Chrome, on the other hand, forced the laptop to tap out at 9 hours and 45 minutes.

Later:

Apple and Google must both bear a portion of the blame for this ongoing calamity. The MacBook maker has a vested interest in promoting Safari as the most efficient, fluid, and pleasing web experience on its platform. Safari will always have the advantage of being optimized for the latest OS X release ahead of any other browser, which means its lead in efficiency will never be completely eradicated. But three and a half hours? That’s the sort of gap that Google should be able to close — if it makes optimization its priority.

I don’t see how this is Apple’s fault or responsibility in the least regard. Are there accusations that Safari is using private APIs unavailable to Chrome that allow for this efficiency? It seems to me like the usual result of a cross-platform app (Chrome) vs. a platform-optimized one (Safari).

Heretofore-Unseen Sport Band Colors for Apple Watch Edition [Daring Fireball]

Bright red, dark blue, canary yellow, and a range of skin-tone sport bands, revealed at a Design Week event in Milan, Italy. There’s no way to tell from the photo whether the strap pins are gold or stainless steel — if they’re gold, that would suggest these colors are exclusive to the Edition models, but British cyclist/rugby player Will Carling tweeted a photo of the red strap paired with a stainless steel Apple Watch.

Rock On: A SongPop Adventure [Daring Fireball]

My thanks to Rock On — A SongPop Adventure for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Rock On is an iOS music trivia game that takes the proven formula of the hit game SongPop in a bold new direction. Listen to clips and guess the band in more than 80 levels spread across many rock genres. Rock On has beautiful graphics, great music, and even allows you to compare your progress and high scores against your friends.

Rock On — A SongPop Adventure is available exclusively on iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. (And, on a technical note, it’s written using Swift.) It’s a free download.

Apple Watch: An Overnight Multi-Billion Dollar Business [Daring Fireball]

Intriguing piece by analyst Carl Howe on Apple Watch:

I think I’ll save that analysis for another posting, but my belief is that the Apple Watch product line will become Apple’s most profitable product line ever, with gross margins exceeding 60 percent. Why? Because the core electronics modules in the expensive models are the same ones used in the Sport models, and they just don’t cost that much. And while adding Gold cases and designer bands add cost to the bill of materials, the costs are small compared to the price premiums paid for these products. Unlike in the consumer electronics business, I see no pressure for prices to fall and if anything manufacturing costs will, resulting in a very profitable business.

I think he’s made some smart guesses as to the product mix between Sport/Watch/Edition, but if I had to adjust his numbers at all, I’d move the number of Edition models Apple will sell slightly up. In Howe’s estimate, Sport is outselling Edition by about 45-to-1. But if it’s more like 30-to-1, the Edition line would account for as much or more total revenue, and certainly more profit. I’m guessing at an average selling price of around $400 for Sport (more 42 mm than 38 mm, plus lots of extra bands). But let’s say it’s as high as $425. At that ASP, 30 unit sales equals $12,750 in revenue. Given the prices of the Edition line (42 mm with Sport band costs $12,000; the ones with leather straps are $15-17,000), I’d imagine the ASP for Edition will be at least $12,750.

Angela Ahrendts: No Apple Watches for Sale in Retail Until June [Daring Fireball]

Angela Ahrendts, in a memo to retail store staff obtained by iGen:

Many of you have been getting questions asking if we will have the watch available in stores on April 24 for walk-in purchases. As we announced last week, due to high global interest combined with our initial supply, we are only taking orders online right now. I’ll have more updates as we get closer to in-store availability, but we expect this to continue through the month of May. It has not been an easy decision, and I want to share with you the thinking behind it. […]

Given the high interest and initial supply at launch, we will be able to get customers the model they want earlier and faster by taking orders online.

I know this is a different experience for our customers, and a change for you as well. Are we going to launch every product this way from now on? No. We all love those blockbuster Apple product launch days — and there will be many more to come.

Seems like a lot of people are blaming Ahrendts for this, but it seems pretty clear they just don’t have the supply at this point.

Scott Forstall Surfaces: Co-Producing Broadway Play [Daring Fireball]

Scott Forstall, on Twitter:

I’m thrilled to be co-producing the Broadway musical Fun Home funhomebroadway.com. Bravo to the phenomenal team!

Tweet of the day [Don Surber]


Al Sharpton, corporate puppeteer or puppet? [Don Surber]

Forty-plus years ago, Gil-Scott Heron wrote a pre-rap ditty, "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," which lashed out at white people for being white, and corporations for sponssoring his show. He said: "The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox/ In 4 parts without commercial interruptions."

He's right. The revolution is not being sponsored by Xerox.

Its sponsors are "AT and T, Viacom, Walmart, Perennial Strategy Group, Combs Enterprises, Comcast Corporation, McDonald’s, Ronald Perelman, Earvin 'Magic' Johnson, Forest City Ratner, Time Warner Cable, Barney’s, Coca-Cola, Essence Communications, Ford Division, Home Depot, Crystal McCrary and Raymond J. McGuire, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the NBA, Verizon, Colgate Palmolive, Macy’s, NASCAR, OraSure Technologies Inc., Best Buy, Greentrack Inc., the IM Foundation, Con Edison, and Entergy."

That is the list of corporate sponsors of Al Sharpton's tax-exempt group, National Action Network, as compiled by Jillian Kay Melchior of the National Review. She wrote: "Despite questions of the Rev’s financial irregularities and allegations of shakedowns, they support him."

Shakedown is an interesting description of the relationship between Sharpton and his 29 corporate sponsors. It implies that he is an accomplished extortionist who can command powerful corporate CEOs to do his bidding against their will. The National Legal and Policy Center chairman Ken Boehm told the New York Post in January: “Sharpton has enriched himself and NAN for years by threatening companies with bad publicity if they don’t come to terms with him. Put simply, Sharpton specializes in shakedowns.”

However, one man's shakedown artist is another man's shill. The companies that Sharpton shook down are rather small. Why not Google? Why not Microsoft? Why not Apple? If I were trying to shake someone down, I wouldn't waste my time on Best Buy, which seems to be the next Radio Shack. No, I would go after Exxon. Why bother with minnows when there are so many fat whales just waiting to be harpooned.

Sharpton also rounded up the usual suspects, people who market the black consumer. I mean how much arm-twisting does one have to do to get Essence Communications on board? The National Review asked Nascar why it signed up, but did not ask the NBA. Ah, Nascar is for white people, the NBA is for black people. I get it. The Nascar statement was very telling: "NASCAR and its leaders participate in a wide variety of opportunities to engage both the professional sports industry and our fans on relevant topics important to the continued growth of our sport. With that said, our involvement at a specific event should not be taken as any tacit endorsement of any positions or views or beliefs presented their beyond those offered by our leaders, NASCAR participants."

It is marketing. Belittle Al Sharpton's ratings all you want, but he is the No. 1 black newsman in America. You want to expand your stock car racing into the African-American market, you hire Sharpton. Shakedown -- sellout -- the description does not matter. What does matter is these companies are buying what Sharpton is selling. In the case of Comcast and Time Warner Cable, they bought access to the White House to approve their merger, but that failed.

Gil Scott-Heron wrote in that 1970 song:

Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies and Hooterville Junction
Will no longer be so damned relevant
And women will not care if Dick finally gets down with Jane
On search for tomorrow because black people
Will be in the street looking for a brighter day
The revolution will not be televised
He was prophetic. Within a year, CBS dumped "Green Acres," "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "Petticoat Junction" in favor of more relevant shows by Norman Lear and the like. Within a few years, John Amos was playing a black Jed Clampett in a Chicago ghetto but without the money or a Mister Drysdale living next door. Jimmy Walker played Jethro. Dyn-oh-mite! CBS improved its ratings. The white people who had watched the Hooterville shows remained seated, while black people flocked to see the new shows. The Vast Wasteland was now the Vast Recycling Center.

The corporate sponsors of NAN know what they are getting from Sharpton. He is a proven commodity in marketing to African-Americans. I am surprised that Walmart did not sign on. It has saturated the white market and it is time Walmart expanded into the African-American market. Sharpton did a terrific job in destroying Ferguson, which had been a safe haven for black people who sought to escape the crime and lunacy of St. Louis. In 10 years the government will buy the land and turn it over to some tax-exempt corporate entity to create jobs in the Michael Brown Memorial Industrial Park. Sharpton can be there at the ribbon cutting, and maybe take a cut of the action for himself.

The symbiotic relationship between Sharpton and his 29 corporate sponsors is not extortion; it is marketing.

No to transgender "rights" [Don Surber]

After years of being fine with transgendering, I have come to the conclusion that nope, boys should be boys and girls should be girls. "Lola" and "Take A Walk On The Wild Side" have a good beat and you can dance to them, but they support an evil lifestyle.

I offer as proof Richard Speck, Robert Kosilek, and Bradley Edward Manning. These are three monsters -- a serial killer, a wife strangler, and a turncoat traitor -- who wanted to be girls so they can have more fun in prison.

But the real danger, as Robert Stacy McCain pointed out, is the transgender rights movement allows violent sex offenders to bury their past once they are out of prison by claiming they are women.


The issue is so important that it has Mister McCain in agreement with feminists who want to block people from changing their sexual identities with a so-called Allison's Law.

Usually such laws are named the victim of a heinous crime. In this case, the law is named for the alias that convicted sex offender Dennis Wayne Woolbert, 51, wants to use as his identity, even to the point of going from male to female on official documents, making it nearly impossible to trace him to his violent sex offenses.

From Robert Stacy McCain:

Allison Woolbert is, in fact, Dennis Wayne Woolbert, 51, who was convicted in 1992 of repeatedly raping a 14-year-old girl. This female family member was apparently Woolbert’s stepdaughter and, during a period of two months in the summer of 1991, Dennis Woolbert assaulted her “by performing vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse, cunnilingus and fellatio,” according to court documents. Woolbert was sentenced to six years in prison for aggravated sexual assault and the court noted “since the defendant is a repetitive sex offender, the risk of further offenses is high.” When Woolbert’s criminal history was exposed in January 2015, feminists at the site Gender Identity Watch called for enactment of “Allison’s Law,” which would prohibit “legal change of sex demarcation and name for rapists and violent offenders.”
The need for “Allison’s Law” was highlighted this week by the Virginia Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Robert Floyd Brown Jr. Brown is a 32-year-old inmate in federal prison in Petersburg, Virginia, who obtained a diagnosis of “gender identity disorder” and sought to change his legal name to Alicia Jade Brown. The trial court had denied this request, but the Virginia Supreme Court overruled the trial court’s decision Thursday, with only one member of the court dissenting from Chief Justice Donald W. Lemons’ ruling. Robert Floyd Brown Jr. is a dangerous sex offender.
Sorry, but there is no right for a male to change his identity to female, or a female to male -- especially a man who rapes a child who trusts him like a parent.

As for Brown, his rape victims were ages 10, 14, and 15. McCain reported: "Brown is suing to try to force federal officials to provide sex-change surgery. Should such dangerous criminals be allowed to legally change their names? Should federal taxpayers be required to pay for 'treatment' enabling fetishists to indulge their perverse fantasies?"

The treatment would make Brown's time in prison easier, either by allowing him to transfer to a women's prison, or become a woman of pleasure in prison. That was what Richard Speck did. He became a boytoy complete with homemade breasts implants. He prostituted himself for booze and drugs in an effort to mentally escape prison.

He methodically killed 8 nurses, remember.

The way you are born is the way you are. Your god may make mistakes, but the real God does not. A society that turns its back on God makes a huge mistake and is doomed.

William Wirt, the best U.S. attorney general [Don Surber]

William Wirt served as attorney general of the United States longer than anyone, serving nearly 12 years under Presidents James Monroe and John Quincy Adams. Wirt turned a minor Cabinet appointment into an important one, establishing it as an independent and competent office. An eloquent and highly intelligent advocate, his best work came after nearly 12 years as attorney general, when he advocated before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the Cherokee Nation in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia in 1831, which he lost, and Worcester v. Georgia in 1832, in which he prevailed.

The case he is probably most famous for is his prosecution of Aaron Burr for treason, 10 years before he became attorney general.

Born in Bladensburg, Maryland, on November 8, 1772, William Wirt became an orphan at 8. His Uncle Jasper Wirt raised him but by age 15 his inheritance was nearly exhausted. Benjamin Edwards, a wealth merchant in Montgomery County, Maryland, hired young Wirt to tutor his son and two nephews, enhancing the offer by allowing Wirt uninhibited access to his library. Wirt must have been a good teacher for the son, Ninian Edwards, would later become governor of Illinois.

Wirt made good use of that library. Virginia admitted him to the Bar at age 20.

"With the advantages of a vigorous constitution and a good person and carriage, but with the drawbacks of a meager legal equipment, a constitutional shyness and timidity, and an over-rapid, brusque, and indistinct utterance, he began his legal career at Culpeper Court-House, Virginia. In 1795 he married Mildred, daughter of Dr. George Gilmer, and removed to Pen Park, the seat of that gentlenan, near Charlottesville. This change introduced him to the acquaintance of many persons of eminence, including Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe. The boundless hospitality of the country gentlemen and the convivial habits of the members of the bar at that time had for a season a dangerous fascination for Wirt, who was regarded by his legal brethren rather as a bon vivant and gay, fascinating companion, than as an ambitious lawyer," according to NNDB.

He quickly amended his ways, buckled down, and honed his legal skills. But making acquaintanceship of future presidents Jefferson and Monroe served him well later. In 1795, he married Mildred Gilmer. After her death in 1799, he married Elizabeth Washington Gamble in 1802.

President Jefferson asked Wirt to prosecute Aaron Burr for treason in 1807. Burr had been Jefferson's vice president but the animosity was mutual for Burr had tried to steal the 1800 election from Jefferson in the Electoral College. This led to the 12th Amendment to end the practice of having the runner-up in the race serve as vice president.

The charges against Burr were flimsy. A group of men met at the estate of Harman Blennerhassett on an island in the Ohio River just south of Parkersburg, West Virginia, although neither the city nor the state existed then. Their intent was to establish a white republic in Texas. But the Virginia militia cracked down on them and charges were trumped up against them. Blennerhassett had fled to America from Ireland with his wife. His reason for leaving was not known until decades after he died on February 2, 1831; his wife was his niece.

At Burr's trial, Wirt delivered a beautiful opening speech which lasted four hours.

"His principal speech, occupying four hours, and which was characterized by eloquent appeal, polished wit, and logical reasoning, greatly extended his fame. The passage in which he depicted in glowing colors the home of Harman Blennerhassett, and 'the wife of his bosom, whom he lately permitted not the winds of summer 'to visit too roughly.' as 'shivering at midnight on the wintry banks of the Ohio, and mingling her tears with the torrents that froze as they fell,' was for many years a favorite piece for academic declamation; and the fact that, though worn to shreds by continual repetition, it still has power to charm the reader, is proof of its real though somewhat florid beauty," NNDB reported.

When you have the facts on your side, argue the facts. When you have the law on your side, argue the law. When you have neither, wax poetically about the colors of the house. Wirt lost. Nevertheless, the county adjacent to the home county of Parkersburg is named Wirt for him; its county seat is named Elizabeth for his wife.

Nevertheless, William Wirt was an excellent lawyer and he had the chance to prove it when James Monroe became president. Wirt would become the longest serving attorney general, as Monroe kept him for both terms, and Monroe's successor, President John Quincy Adams did not replace him. In 1819, Wirt successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court that Congress indeed has the right to charter a national bank without interference from the state of Maryland, in McCulloch v. Maryland.

Wirt also argued in the prevailing side in a dispute between two former business partners in Gibbons v. Ogden in 1824. At issue was whether Congress had the power over navigable waters. Again he prevailed, as he represented Thomas Gibbons. Wirt's co-counsel was Daniel Webster. While the case was wending its way through the legal system, Gibbons hired Cornelius Vanderbilt as his ferry captain, and later, his business manager. Commodore Vanderbilt would become a shipping magnate, first with boats and later with railroads.

The election of Andrew Jackson as president brought hard times for the nation due to his demagoguery. Wirt left the attorney generalship on March 4, 1829, the day Jackson became president. Wirt continued serving the nation in private practice.

"In June 1830, a delegation of Cherokee led by Chief John Ross selected Wirt on the urging of Senators Webster and Frelinghuysen to defend Cherokee rights before the U.S. Supreme Court. Wirt argued, in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, that the Cherokee Nation was 'a foreign nation in the sense of our constitution and law' and was therefore not subject to Georgia's jurisdiction. Wirt asked the Supreme Court to void all Georgia laws extended over Cherokee territory on the grounds that they violated the U.S. Constitution, United States-Cherokee treaties, and United States intercourse laws," according to Wikipedia.

The background of the case is the Cherokee had sided with the British in the Revolutionary War, and they owned valuable land that white people wanted. President Jefferson was the first to propose marching the Cherokee people to the Mississippi and making them live west of that great river. They were one of the Five Civilized Tribes -- Cherokee, Muscogee or Creek, Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations -- designated for a forced relocation to Oklahoma (then known as the Indian Territory) under the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which broke previous treaties with each tribe. Each tribe was located in the Deep South, and Southerners wanted their lands so the Southerners could have slaves plant cotton.

In 1831, speaking for the majority, Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that the Cherokee could not sue Georgia:  "The court has bestowed its best attention on this question, and, after mature deliberation, the majority is of the opinion that an Indian tribe or nation within the United States is not a foreign state in the sense of the constitution, and cannot maintain an action in the courts of the United States."

But Marshall telegraphed that the court would hear the case if someone else challenged Georgia. The Cherokee found that someone in Samuel Worcester, a Christian missionary who was born on January 19, 1798, in Worcester, Massachusetts, a seventh generation pastor going back to when the family resided in England. He truly believed in the Bible and in the rights of the Cherokee. He defied the Georgia law that required any non-Cherokee living on Cherokee land be licensed by the state of Georgia.

Which led to the Worcester v. Georgia case, in which Wirt prevailed, however the case had no impact on the fate of the Indians. Oh, the court ruled that the Cherokee were a sovereign people to some extent, but the removal of Indians from what would become the Confederate States continued as President Jackson and his successor, President Van Buren, marched the Indians away in the Trail of Tears, a march as cruel as the Japanese Bataan Death March a century later. The U.S. government marched the Choctaw out of Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, and Louisiana in 1831; the Seminoles from Florida in 1832; the Muscogee or Creek from Alabama, Georgia, and Florida in 1834; the Chickasaw from Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee in 1837; and the Cherokee from Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina.

This is another side of the evil of slavery that goes largely unacknowledged today. They were removed not so that white settlers could have land, but rather to allow white plantation owners to send in black slaves to till the soil and turn forests into cotton fields.

But that is not the fault of William Wirt. He did his best in a time when people of non-white races were considered chattel in America. He was a fine attorney general because he represented the people first, the politicians last.

In 1832, the Anti-Masonic Party nominated him for president, which was odd as he was a Freemason and had no problem with the organization. Nevertheless, he carried Vermont, receiving 7 votes in the Electoral College. His running mate was Amos Ellmaker, an original incorporator of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

Two years later, Wirt died at age 62.

Nearly two centuries later, the rest of the country may have forgotten him, but not the 5,845 West Virginians who call Wirt County home, including the 823 residents of Elizabeth.

Exceptional Americans: The list of the stories so far [Don Surber]

These are the stories of less-than-famous people who -- given the opportunities that our great nation provides -- made their country and indeed, the world, better. A new one is posted each day. In May, I shall publish the first volume of 50 stories.


Profiles to be published in print are marked with an asterisk.

* 1. James Knox Polk. He was our best one-term president, annexing most of what is west of the Mississippi, excluding Alaska and Hawaii.

* 2. Louis Chevrolet. Mechanic, race-car driver, and nameplate.

3. Evelyn Stone Bryan Johnson. She was 35 when she took her first flying lesson. She taught more men to fly than anyone.

4. George Swinnerton Parker. He took a socialistic board game and turned it into a primer on capitalism called "Monopoly."

**5. "Edwin Howard Armstrong, caught static for inventing FM." Perhaps my best headline. Earworm warning on the Steely Dan tune.

6. Thomas Nast. Invented editorial cartooning, and used it to bring down Boss Tweed.

7. Lamar Hunt. Helped create the AFL, which made America's game better -- and gave us the Super Bowl.

8. Gail Borden Jr. His condensed milk helped win the Civil War.

9. Samuel Gridley Howe. Abolitionist and pioneer in education. Unlike today's activists, he did not spend all his time lobbying politicians to spend government money on their pet projects; Samuel Gridley Howe walked the talk.

10. Jonathan Winters. I don't do many celebrities, but he turned his mental illness into comedy.

11. Ewing Marion Kauffman. Started a pharmaceutical company in his basement and nursed it into a billion-dollar corporation. Then he cashed in and brought major league baseball back to Kansas City. A class act.

12. "David Swinson Maynard: He put the Seattle in Seattle."

13. Carl Anthony Rakes. He always wanted to be a sheriff's deputy. Murdered by a career criminal on a lonely highway.

**14. Andrew Grove. Survived the Hungarian Fascists, endured the Nazis, dodged the Holocaust, escaped the Communists, and came to America at 20 to help launch Intel as its first employee.

15. Philip Hubert Frohman. Born in the Chelsea which his grandfather designed, he designed cathedrals across America including the National Cathedral in Washington.

16. Eugene Paul Wigner. The physicist who convinced Albert Einstein to lobby for the Manhattan Project.

17. Charles F. Dowd. He brought standardized time to the United States, making trains run right and enabling commercial broadcasting after he died.

18. William F. Buckley Jr. -- the true nonconformist of the fifties.

19. Robert Houghout Jackson. Supreme Court justice and Nuremberg prosecutor. What is remarkable about the Nuremberg trials is not that men were convicted and hanged, but that men were acquitted. These were not show trials, but rather a commitment to the judicial system that is the backbone of Western civilization.

* 20. Josiah Bartlett. As governor of New Hampshire, he sent the legislature home saying there was nothing left to do. Can we get his DNA and Jurassic Park him?

21. J.D. Tippit. The other man Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated.

**22. Edwin Powell Hubble. Along with Belgian Monseigneur Georges Henri Joseph Édouard Lemaître, he gave us the Big Bang Theory. Incredibly, neither man received the Nobel Prize -- but Al Gore did.

23. Cass Gilbert. Designed the best state Capitol in the nation: West Virginia's.

* 24. Andrew Carnegie. I eschew celebrities but his tale is irresistible, because it begins 126 years before his birth.

* 25. Saint Katharine Mary Drexel. Perhaps the richest woman in America, she gave it all up and took a vow of poverty. Patron saint of racial equality.

* 26. "Mary Edwards Walker, the only woman to earn the Medal of Honor." Oh, and she wasn't a soldier.

27. John Wesley Hyatt. He saved the elephant by inventing plastic.

28. James Robert Cade. The inventor of Gatorade.

29. Bill W. Founder of Alcoholics Anonymous.

** 30. Mario R. Capecchi. The war waif who would win the Nobel Prize. One of my favorites.

** 31. Elsie Quarterman. She brought the Tennessee purple coneflower back from extinction.

32. Nellie Tayloe Ross. The first woman elected governor.

** 33. Almon Brown Strowger. Upset with a conniving phone operator, he invented the forerunner to the rotary dial.

34. Oliver Evans. A century before Henry Ford, he made the movable assembly line possible.

* 35. George Phydias Mitchell. He liberated us from OPEC.

36. H.P. Lovecraft. Died in obscurity, but influenced Stephen King and other writers.

* 37. William Fouts House. He brought hearing to the deaf, which drew ire from the "deaf community."

38. Walt Disney. His was no Mickey Mouse operation.

** 39. Albert Abraham Michelson. America's first Nobel scientist.

40. Dorothy Scott Gerber. Babies were her business.

41. Ralph Braun, He gave mobility to the wheelchair-bound -- like him.

42. Clarence Birdseye. He changed how we eat.

43. Sarah Chang. The violinist prodigy who grew up.

44. Annie Jump Cannon. The astronomer given the "woman's task" of classifying the stars.

* 45. Melville Dewey. He computerized libraries before there were computers.

* 46. Henry Wells. He was the Wells in Wells Fargo and co-founder of American Express.

47. David Wilkinson. Inventor of a steam engine -- and a lathe that would change America.

* 48. George Swift. He beat the railroads and improved the American diet.

* 49. Benjamin Edes. He threw the Boston Tea Party.

50. Richard Jewell. The worst thing you can be sometimes is an innocent man.

51. Harold Eliot Varmus. The hippie who won the Nobel.

52. John Winthrop. America's first scientist.

53. Harvey Samuel Firestone. Tire magnate who fought the rubber cartel, and refused to join a tire cartel.

* 54. "George Warren Fuller, the man who crushed typhoid." The best public health measures have little to do with medicine.

55. "J. Walter Christie and the tank that beat Hitler."

56. Richard Conner. A little known Civil War hero who represents so many.

* 57. "The Real Adventures of Kit Carson." Folks, the true story beat the fiction.

58. Claude Shannon. Juggler -- and father of the information theory.

* 59. George Dewey. The highest ranking sailor in U.S. history.

60. "The Barcode Boys: Bob Silver and Joseph Woodland." Sometimes genius is ahead of itself.

61. Kary Banks Mullis. He took an LSD trip and landed a Nobel Prize.

* 62. "Charles Goodyear, invented the rubber industry and died broke." Goodyear Tire was founded 38 years after his death.

63. John Geary. The man behind the boulevard in San Francisco.

* 64. "Leland Stanford: After the Gold Rush." The true story of his founding of Stanford University is sadder than the urban legend.

* 65. Cyrus Hall McCormick. His reaper made America's breadbasket possible.

* 66. Mad Anthony Wayne. Like many good soldiers, Anthony Wayne rose through the ranks to become a general. But he earned the title Mad in the Revolutionary War on July 19, 1779.

67. "How Harold Zirin became Captain Corona." Or as Manfred Mann sang, "Mama always told me not to look into the eyes of the sun, but mama, that's where the fun is."

* 68. Everett Dirksen. He made the Civil Rights Act of 1964 possible. Democrats rewarded that Klansman Bob Byrd, who tried to filibuster the bill, with majority leadership.

69. "Ban Johnson: He saved baseball." He did so two decades before Kenesaw Mountain Landis.

* 70. Jedediah Smith. He died at 32, but he had opened the West. Less than 40 years later, a transcontinental railroad would cross through the land he explored. The maps he helped draft would guide them.

71. Adolph Zukor. He beat Thomas Edison's movie cartel, created the studio system, and believed the public is never wrong.

72. Frank Nelson Doubleday. He published John D. Rockefeller's autobiography -- and Upton Sinclair.

73. Earl Gilbert Graves:“How to Succeed in Business Without Being White.”

74. Charles F. Brush. He brought electric light to the world.

* 75. Ezra Cornell. He formed Western Union and co-founded a school you may have heard about.

76. Ray Harroun. He won one Indianapolis 500, in a way that later saved thousands of lives.

77. Alfred Fuller. The first Fuller Brush Man.

78. Hal Roach. He teamed Laurel with Hardy, and quietly incorporated black kids in the Little Rascals.

79. Hap Arnold. He overcame a fear of flying to become the highest ranking Air Force general ever.

80. Marshall Field: "The customer is always right."

81. George Stigler. An economist who challenged the notion that regulation hurts business; actually, regulation can protect businesses from competition -- making matters worse.

* 82. Joseph Glidden. He did not invent or perfect the six-shooter, the telegraph, or the locomotive. But Joseph Glidden did as much to tame the West as Samuel Colt, Samuel Morse, or all those railroad magnates. He did it with barbed wire.

83. John H. Johnson. His "Ebony" magazine pretty much invented the black middle class -- and enlarged it.

84. Joan Weston. Her sex and her social status limited her opportunities, so she used her great athleticism to become the queen of the Roller Derby.

* 85. John C. Frémont. The handsome bastard who should have been president. Seriously, we went with James Buchanan?

86. Wrong Way Corrigan. The workingman's Charles Lindbergh. And he flew a plane literally held together by baling wire.

* 87. John Hancock. The man behind The Signature.

88. Ayanna Howard. She wanted to be a doctor until she had to dissect a frog. Now she is building robots.

* 89. Charles Curtis. He left the reservation to become the first and only American Indian elected vice president.

* 90. Julia Grant. The Army wife who became first lady, and helped a nation heal from a civil war, an assassination, and an impeachment.

91. Will Cook. He wrote the music that brought down Broadway's color line.

92. William Seward Burroughs. The man whose adding machine helped pave the way for the computer.

93. Allen B. DuMont. Invented radar and sired television.

94. John Lansing. Was this Founding Father murdered?

95. Red Knickerbocker. The journalist whom both the Nazis and the Soviets despised.

96. Bradbury Robinson. The quarterback who threw the first forward pass.

97. Henry J. Kaiser. He built that!

* 98. Horace Greeley. Go West, Young Man.

* 99. Tadeusz Kościuszko. A Revolutionary War hero whom Thomas Jefferson betrayed.

100. Ruth Fertel. A bitter divorce left her destitute. Hard work made her a millionaire.

101. Thurl Ravenscroft, his voice was too deep for opera, but not Tony the Tiger.

102. Yvonne Helen Swayze. She taught Tommy Tune to dance.

103. Maggie Bailey. The grandmother who sold moonshine.

* 104. William Still. He was the conductor on the underground railroad.

105. Sam Tilden. He just may have won that 1876 presidential election.

106. Thomas Alva Edison. Let there be light.

* 107. David Davis. He made Lincoln president.

108. Edward Bates. The slave owner who fought in court to free a slave.

* 109. Isidor and Ida Straus. A love story for all of time.

110. Al Gilbert. He invented the Erector Set.

111. Calvin Coolidge. He recognized Indian rights.

112. Dodie Stevens. Tan shoes with pink shoelaces.

113. Tiffanys.

* 114. Woody Williams. A hero of Iwo Jima.

115. Elizabeth Holloway Marston. The real Wonder Woman.

* 116. Rebecca Nurse. First victim of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.

* 117. Gilbert Stuart. Why he did not finish his portrait of Washington.

118. Jonas Salk, Henrietta Lacks, and Albert Sabin. They helped end polio.

* 119. When President Cleveland saved the life insurance industry.

120. Edwin Land. Invented Polaroid. Inspired Steve Jobs.

121. Marjorie Merriweather Post. Cereal queen.

* 122. Townsend Harris. He made 13 Nobel winners possible.

123. Earl Anthony. Mister Bowling.

124. Albert Berry. First parachutist.

125. You Can Be Sure... If It's George Westinghouse.

126. Matthew B. Ridgway. The man who succeeded General MacArthur.

127. George Pake. If only Xerox had listened.

* 128. Charles Goodnight. The real Lonesome Dove.

* 129. Philip Henry Sheridan. Civil War hero. Indian fighter. Guardian of Yellowstone.

* 130. Robert Townsend and James Rivington. Spies so good, they hid it from each other.

131. Frederic Goudy. The man of 113 typefaces.

* 132. Albert Gallatin. He quelled the Whiskey Rebellion.

* 133. John Gunby. "I would sooner sink into a patriot's grave than wear the crown of England."

134. Lawrence Welk. It's a wunnerful life.

135. Raymond Loewy. He gave America style.

* 136. Leslie Richard Groves. Builder of the Pentagon and The Bomb.

137. Lucy Beaman Hobbs Taylor. First woman dentist.

138. Isaac Murphy. Arkansas's lone vote against secession.

139. Andrew Smith Hallidie. His little cable cars climb halfway to the stars.

* 140. Jim Bridger. The greatest Plainsman.

141. Ernest and Julio Gallo. Those little old winemakers.

142. Phil Metschan Tobin. The father of modern gambling.

* 143. Francis and Elizabeth Lewis. They sacrificed their lives and fortune for your liberty.

* 144. Sam Colt. The man behind the gun.

* 145. Anne Marbury Hutchinson. Mother of freedom of religion.

146. Bette Claire Graham. She truly profited from her mistakes.

147. Matilda Carse. 19th century mother against drunk driving.

* 148. Norman Borlaug. He saved a billion lives.

* 149. Prince Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole. He saved the Hawaiians.

150. Adolphus Greely. Medal of Honor for a lifetime of service.

151. Frederick Pabst, the captain who became a beer baron.

* 152. Edwin Drake, he drilled the first oil well.

* 153. Samuel Kier, he started the oil business.

154. Arthur Wightman, physicist and teacher.

**155. Charles Martin Hall, Alfred Ephraim Hunt, and Arthur Vining Davis, the aluminum men.

156. Frederick Muhlenberg, the first Speaker of the House.

157. Erastus Brigham Bigelow, left school at 10, helped found MIT at 47.

158. Ahmed Zewail, the Nobel laureate who wants to inspire Muslims.

159. Charles Sumner, caned but not beaten.

160. Sibbell (Sybil) Ludington, the female Paul Revere.

161. Grace Murray Hopper, the mother of COBOL.

162. Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, scientists who overcame pigeons -- and Hitler.

163. Lewis Morris: "Damn the consequences. Give me the pen."

164. Ely Parker, the Indian who drafted the terms of Lee's surrender.

165. Edward Everett, he integrated Harvard.

166. André de Toth, and the "House of Wax."

167. Felix de Weldon, sculptor of the Iwo Jima flag raising.

168. Richard Overton and Elmer Hill, they fought for a freedom they were denied.

169. Buffalo Bill Cody, Alexander Majors and the Pony Express.

170. William Seward: Lincoln's final ally.

171. Ellis Marsalis, the civil rights movement cost him his all.

172. Mark Dean: "There may be obstacles, but there are no limits."

173. William Wirt, the best U.S. attorney general.

twtw: 18 Apr 15: Cuba and US: new best friends? [The World This Week]

Cuba and the United States reached a historic turning point when Presidents Obama and Castro shook hands in Panama and set their countries on the path to friendship. President Obama also promised an end to meddling in the rest of Latin America -- a region once seen as America's back-yard. How did it happen? Apparently, it was written in the stars. Also in this podcast: how Iran is playing a diplomatic blinder; the continuing tragedy of would-be migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean; why Turkey is cross with the Pope; and the little gifts that came to mean much, much more.

Private bus startup Leap hit with complaint under US disabilities law [Ars Technica]

Chris Pangilinan, a former San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency engineer who uses a wheelchair, has alleged that new private bus startup Leap is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As such, Pangilinan recently filed a formal complaint with the Department of Justice.

Leap recently launched its service, offering interested commuters a luxury transit option that includes things like Wi-Fi, more personal space, and refreshments. Leap charges riders $6 per fare (more than double what local buses charge), and riders use the company's smartphone app to pay for fare or refreshments as well as to monitor when the buses are approaching.

Pangilinan, who moved away from San Francisco before Leap launched its service, said he found the company’s lack of accessibility "pretty shocking." His complaint alleges that Leap "removed features that made the buses previously wheelchair accessible, such as the front door ramp, and wheelchair securement areas within the vehicle."

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FBI can’t cut Internet and pose as cable guy to search property, judge says [Ars Technica]

A federal judge issued a stern rebuke Friday to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's method for breaking up an illegal online betting ring. The Las Vegas court frowned on the FBI's ruse of disconnecting Internet access to $25,000-per-night villas at Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino. FBI agents posed as the cable guy and secretly searched the premises.

The government claimed the search was legal because the suspects invited the agents into the room to fix the Internet. US District Judge Andrew P. Gordon wasn't buying it. He ruled that if the government could get away with such tactics like those they used to nab gambling kingpin Paul Phua and some of his associates, then the government would have carte blanche power to search just about any property.

"Permitting the government to create the need for the occupant to invite a third party into his or her home would effectively allow the government to conduct warrantless searches of the vast majority of residents and hotel rooms in America," Gordon wrote in throwing out evidence the agents collected. "Authorities would need only to disrupt phone, Internet, cable, or other 'non-essential' service and then pose as technicians to gain warrantless entry to the vast majority of homes, hotel rooms, and similarly protected premises across America."

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Meet George—1958’s one-of-a-kind analog computer—at Vintage Computer Festival East [Ars Technica]

The Vintage Computer Festival East is a once-a-year museum exhibit in Wall, New Jersey that shows off vacuum tube and transistor computers from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. While our own John Timmer visited the museum several years ago, we were long overdue to check back on the exhibition. VCF's newest addition made the trip well-worth it.

The incredible piece of big iron you see in the first picture above arrived yesterday. It's a one-of-a-kind analog computer built for MIT, so it doesn't really have a name or model number. Built by George A. Philbrick Researches in 1958, the volunteers at the science center have just taken to calling it "George."

Video: Ars gets a preview of the show from festival organizer, Evan Koblentz. Shot/edited by Jennifer Hahn (video link)

After this relic arrived at the museum, volunteers were up late into the night assembling it just for the show. It's now mostly put together but non-functional. While many museums aim solely to preserve an item as is, VCF actually refurbishes the computers in its collection. A lot of work remains, but the group will clean years of gunk off the unit in hopes to eventually get George in working order. One of the first upgrades will be replacing the 400 Volt power supply with something a little more modern—and less lethal.

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Op-ed: Why the entire premise of Tor-enabled routers is ridiculous [Ars Technica]

Ars recently reviewed two "Tor routers", devices that are supposed to improve your privacy by routing all traffic through the Tor anonymity network. Although the initial release of Anonabox proved woefully insecure, the basic premise itself is flawed. Using these instead of the Tor Browser Bundle is bad: less secure and less private than simply not using these "Tor Routers" in the first place. They are, in a word, EPICFAIL.

There are four possible spies on your traffic when you use these Tor "routers", those who can both see what you do and potentially attack your communication: your ISP, the websites themselves, the Tor exit routers, and the NSA with its 5EYES buddies.

Now it's true that these devices do protect you against your ISP. And if your ISP wants to extort over $30 per month for them to not spy on you, this does offer protection. But if you want protection from your ISP, just use a VPN service or run your own VPN using Amazon EC2 ($9.50/month plus $.09/GB bandwidth for a t2 micro instance). These services offer much better performance and equal privacy. At the same time, if your ISP wants to extort your privacy, choose a different ISP.

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Preview: Magicka 2 might be more wizardry than I can handle [Ars Technica]

The original Magicka was something of a surprise hit for publisher Paradox Interactive. The top-down, dungeon crawler by way of twin-stick shooter was a big enough seller back early in 2011 to sustain half-a-dozen updates since, including Magicka: Vietnam, an iOS spin-off, minor paid expansions, and of course a MOBA tie- in the form of Magicka: Wizard Wars.

The popularity of the series probably has something to do with the inbuilt sense of humor. Magicka was a colorful, light, and pun-filled fantasy parody with wizards endlessly lighting each other (and themselves) on fire with a silly and incomprehensible magical combo system. This is especially surprising from Paradox, a company otherwise known for its dry European war simulations and political strategy games.

Magicka 2, the first direct sequel to the original, continues that tradition, but without the original developers at Arrowhead Game Studios. They've since moved on to games like Gauntlet and Helldivers—titles that continue to play on the idea of accidentally screwing over yourself and your friends, but with new twists and styles.

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Science by robot: Outfitting the world’s “smartest” lake [Ars Technica]

BOLTON LANDING, New York—Arriving at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's field research station on the shores of lovely Lake George, the offices appeared deserted. The station's staff didn't hide from us; they had all relocated to another building for a training session on a new piece of technology. They've been doing a lot of that lately.

The scene in their meeting room was mostly pretty standard—tables, chairs, coffee, and snacks—but not many field stations have a shiny new nine-panel computer display on the wall. And no field stations have what that display will soon be showing.

Nestled along the eastern edge of New York’s stout and beautiful Adirondack Mountains, south of sprawling Lake Champlain, Lake George is a long, glacially sculpted basin filled by clear waters. The lake is 51 kilometers long, doesn’t get much more than three kilometers wide, and has long been a natural attraction. Thomas Jefferson once called it “the most beautiful water I ever saw." But today, a partnership between IBM, the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the local FUND for Lake George has a different descriptor in mind—“smartest” lake in the world. It's an effort dubbed the “Jefferson Project.”

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Photo - British and US Paras Over Holland DZ [BLACKFIVE]

U.S. and British paratroopers perform a static line jump over Holland Drop Zone in preparation for Combined Joint Operational Access Exercise 15-01 on Fort Bragg, N.C., April 11, 2015. The U.S. paratroopers are assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sean Martin

Photo - Transit the Canal [BLACKFIVE]

The guided-missile frigate USS Kauffman transits the Panama Canal, Panama, April 10, 2015. The Kauffman is supporting Operation Martillo, a joint effort with the U.S. Coast Guard and partner nations within the U.S. 4th Fleet area of responsibility. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Shane A. Jackson

Feminism as Rationalization or, Hating Men Because Men Don’t Like You Enough [The Other McCain]

Lindsay King-Miller (@AskAQueerChick) writes a column for @thehairpin, which is a spinoff site from TheAwl.com, which is one of those Trendy But Not Actually Popular Kind of Blogs That You Should Never Call a “Blog.” There are dozens of these sites out there trying to convince investors that they could be The Next Buzzfeed. More accurately, […]

Many smart GOP policies from the 1990s are less relevant today [AEI » Pethokoukis]

Almost every Saturday afternoon, I appear on Larry Kudlow’s radio show. There are few shows — very few shows — where policy is discussed as seriously. (NYC-DC journalists, take note!)

Last week, one of the guests was Senator Ted Cruz. During my panel segment at the end of the show, Larry asked the Heritage Foundation’s Steve Moore what a Cruz presidency would look like. And Moore recalled a lunch he had with Cruz during his 2010 run for US Senate: “I asked him, ‘What are your three top priorities?’ And he said a low rate flat tax,  school choice for every child in America, and he said he wanted to move toward a system of personal accounts for Social Security.”

All those ideas went over pretty well with my fellow panelists, including Moore and John McIntyre of RealClear Politics. Now one of the things I write about frequently is the importance of developing center-right policies that are relevant for the fiscal and economic realities of 2015 American, not the 1990s or 1980s. Both the flat tax and carving out private Social Security accounts fail that test. So does school choice if as far as it goes is vouchers to help kids, especially low-incomes kids, escape terrible urban schools. That is necessary but not sufficient. Here is AEI’s Rick Hess in a 2010 National Affairs essay:

… reformers should broaden the educational-choice discussion beyond “school” choice. The narrow vocabulary of school choice made more sense 20 years ago, when online tutoring and virtual schooling were the stuff of science fiction, and when home schooling was still a curiosity. But in 2010, this language is profoundly limiting. In the health-care debate, even the most ardent single-payer enthusiasts believed that patients should be free to make a series of choices among physicians and providers of care. Yet in education, the most expansive vision of choice asks parents to decide among schools A, B, and C.

This kind of choice may appeal to urban parents eager to escape awful schools; it does little, however, for suburban parents who generally like their schools but would like to take advantage of customized or higher-quality math or foreign-language instruction. A promising solution would be to permit families to redirect a portion of the dollars spent on their children through the educational equivalent of a health savings account. Such a mechanism would help families address children’s unmet needs (such as extra tutoring in difficult subjects, or advanced instruction in areas of particular aptitude); it would also allow niche providers to emerge, would foster price competition for particular services, and would make educational choice relevant to many more families. …

It would seem, then, that school choice “works” in some respects and in some instances — but that choice alone could never work as well as many of its champions have expected, and promised. It is time for those who would like to transform America’s schools to let go of the dream that choice by itself is any kind of “solution.” The goal ought to be a much more serious agenda of school deregulation and re-invention.

More here from Hess on what a modern K-12 education reform agenda should include.

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Hillary Clinton and the myth of liberal exhaustion [AEI » Pethokoukis]

Hillary Clinton’s issue-free, presidential announcement video may have reinforced the assumption by some, particularly on the right, that she’ll have no agenda other than “making history” and other cultural issues. Here is conservative commentator Victor David Hanson:

 … she thinks she can win largely on the issue of being the first woman president in the manner that Barack Obama milked his racially iconic status in lieu of a record. Her supporters believe that they can reignite the old wars: the Republican war on women, war on minorities, war on immigrants, war on the environment, war on the poor, war on everybody — and thereby galvanize the supposedly oppressed, as in 2008-2012, to register, turn out, and vote in lockstep in record numbers. … What, then, is her agenda, in terms of economic and foreign policy? More borrowing, more social spending, more defense cuts, higher taxes still, more restrictions on fracking on public land, more promises to table the Keystone pipeline? Will she go full bore to promote cap and trade?

I don’t think that’s right. Over at Forbes, Adam Ozimek offers a needed corrective to that idea that as the Obama presidency draws to a close, liberals are out of ideas:

I believe there is a new liberal consensus on economic policy emerging and gathering strength. Department of Labor senior advisor Mary Beth Maxwell identifies it as well in a Medium post on “A ‘New’ Conventional Wisdom on Labor”. She quotes Paul Krugman, who provides what I think amounts to the basic case:

“Low wages, he argues, are not the product of inscrutable market forces, but rather choices. He joins many others in connecting rising income inequality with the decline in workers’ bargaining power.”

It’s not just Paul Krugman and liberal politicians like Barack Obama and labor secretary Tom Perez embracing this “new consensus” either. Even some centrist economists like Larry Summers and Robert Rubin have been making similar arguments. 

What’s important is that this isn’t just a restatement of long-time core liberal commitments, but a conclusion that is drawn from recent trends in empirical research. For example, the strain of minimum wage research led by Arin Dube and coathors that suggests little to no impacts of a higher minimum wage. And here’s a recent publication from the Peterson Institute for International Economics with empirical papers arguing for higher wages from Justin Wolfers, Adam Posen, Jacob Funk Kirkegaard and others.

Yuppers. Hillarynomics will focus on boosting middle-class incomes through the power of government. It will be a sweeping agenda likely to resemble the  recent report put forward by the Center for American Progress’s Commission on Inclusive Prosperity and co-written by Larry Summers. As I wrote recently, “among its suggestions (which I summarize broadly): (a) increase support for profit sharing and employee stock ownership plans; (b) increase union power; (c) more infrastructure spending; (d) encourage home ownership through more Fannie and Freddie lending, plus principal reduction; (d) more public service jobs for young people; (e) “ensure a level playing field for global trade”; (f) raise effective tax rates on wealthier Americans; (g) more financial regulation; (h) paid parental leave, paid caregiving leave, paid sick days, paid vacation,protections for part-time workers; (i) more immigration at all skill levels; (j) more spending on early childhood education; and (k) executive pay reform.”

Now that ain’t nothing. Far from it. Republicans may not like these ideas, but they target the economic insecurity and anxiety that many Americans feel. And what will the GOP response be?

 

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Reality check: 3 thoughts on the GOP and taxes [AEI » Pethokoukis]

Hot Air’s Noah Rothman, in a post on taxes and Rubionomics — and how some GOPers don’t like the latter’s policy on the former — that also mentions my relevant The Week column:

Republicans don’t merely have an emotional or nostalgic attachment to the policy of reducing the tax burden on individuals and corporations; it is a sound policy preference rooted in decades of research and centuries of theory. That doesn’t mean that the GOP’s tax policy preferences are popular. They aren’t.

1.) Indeed, the idea of cutting taxes for wealthier Americans and business is unpopular. The polling evidence seems pretty overwhelming, as both Rothman and I note.

2.) Smart tax policy — such as moving toward a consumption-based system — can boost growth. But it needs to be well designed. I don’t think, say, a flat-tax plan that loses nearly $1 trillion annually on a static basis and would require spending be reduced to levels unseen in more than 50 years would qualify as well designed. It is actually the definition of unsound policy — as is fashioning an economic plan under the assumption that those deep tax cuts will accelerate the US GDP growth rate to 4-5%.

3.) Think about this: The number of Medicare beneficiaries will increase by 50%, or 25 million, over the next 15 years. The number of people age 65 or older will increase by about one-third over the next decade, according to CBO, and by 80% between now and 2039. What’s more, “aging is the key driver of spending over the long-term” for Social Security and Medicare.

That’s just the mandatory spending. At the same time, nondefense discretionary spending is already at a historic low. Just keeping total federal spending at the levels seen over the past generation would seem a tough task. And at the same time you want to balanced the budget while also slashing tax revenue? Impressive.

The post Reality check: 3 thoughts on the GOP and taxes appeared first on AEI.

Here are 10 massive federal tax breaks — including one of the absolute worst [AEI » Pethokoukis]

Always worth a repost, via CBO. And while we are on the topic, here is a bit from a recent Michael Strain column on which of those tax breaks might be worth trimming (and expanding):

Only four in 10 high-school dropouts have a job, compared to seven in 10 college graduates. The reasons for this massive disparity are many, but surely a major factor is the low wages less-educated Americans can command in today’s labor market.

One way to solve this problem is to use federal money to supplement the earnings of low-income workers. Specifically, we should expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC is a federal earnings subsidy to low-income households. The basic idea is simple: If you work and your household earns below a certain amount, the government cuts you a check to supplement your earnings. … Previous expansions of the EITC have pulled significant numbers of jobless Americans into the workforce. And the EITC lifts millions of people, including children, out of poverty.

The EITC is much more generous to households with children than to households without children. For example, a household with three children can receive a maximum subsidy of about $6,000, while a childless worker maxes out at a little under $500. The maximum EITC benefit for childless workers should be expanded. President Obama has proposed an expansion that would cost roughly $6 billion a year. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has a similar proposal.

We could completely fund a significant EITC expansion for childless workers with less than one-tenth of the revenue from eliminating the mortgage-interest deduction, still leaving plenty of money to lower tax rates and reduce the deficit.

And this from Joe Antos on the top tax break:

The largest tax break in the federal tax code is a stealth subsidy that is both unfair and inefficient. Premiums paid for employer-sponsored health insurance are excluded from taxable income, reducing the amount workers owe in income and payroll taxes by about $250 billion annually. In effect, the exclusion is the third largest health program after Medicare and Medicaid, yet it has been largely ignored as Congress has tried to rein in federal health spending.

That lost revenue is more than enough to cover the cost of providing health insurance to the 42 million people who were uninsured in 2013. In addition, the exclusion has other pernicious effects.

The exclusion is regressive. According to a Joint Committee on Taxation analysis for 2007, the average savings for tax filers with incomes less than $30,000 was about $1,650 compared to about $4,580 for those with incomes over $200,000.

It distorts how workers are paid. Many workers do not realize that their employer’s contribution to the health insurance premium comes at the cost of lower cash wages. This has contributed to a shift from (taxable) cash wages to (nontaxable) health benefits. Between 1999 and 2014, the average employer contribution for family coverage nearly tripled while wage rates increased by only about half.

The exclusion fuels the growing cost of health care. There is no upper limit on the amount that may be excluded from income. That encourages workers to buy generous insurance that offers lower cost-sharing but higher tax-free premiums. Such coverage makes consumers less price-sensitive and promotes the use of medical services that may provide little value. According to the Institutes of Medicine, 30 cents of every dollar spent on health care in this country is wasted, in part because of the financial incentives of the exclusion.

The “Cadillac tax” — a 40 percent excise tax on high-cost health insurance that exceeds limits set by the Affordable Care Act — is a poor way to correct those perverse incentives. It is a blunt tool that ultimately will hit even moderate-priced health insurance (because of indexing), and one that continues to foster misunderstanding about who is actually paying when the employer makes a contribution to the benefit. But the tax has triggered a shift toward leaner insurance plans, and more employers are considering moving to a defined contribution approach to health benefits that will focus worker attention on what they can do to cope with rising health costs.

 

The post Here are 10 massive federal tax breaks — including one of the absolute worst appeared first on AEI.

Is QE working in the eurozone? And how? [AEI » Pethokoukis]

ECB boss Mario Draghi was attacked by a protester today during a journalist briefing. And just when things are looking up. From Barclays:

On 22 January, the ECB announced that it was expanding its asset purchase programme to include government bonds, agencies and international institutions. Although the ECB’s announcement of QE in January was not a surprise, the strong commitment to an open-ended programme and the amount of monthly purchases have resulted in a larger-than-expected market effect, with further declines in yields and spreads, an acceleration in the depreciation of the euro and a boost for stock markets. These effects have amplified the impact of previous measures on monetary and financial conditions, and we think they are likely to gradually facilitate the economic recovery and limit the downside risk to price stability, although it is still too early to be more conclusive at this stage.

QE had a strong and swift impact on financial markets, but it will take more time to translate into significant effects on GDP growth and inflation. Although it is much too early to draw conclusions on whether or not QE has been successful from a macroeconomic perspective, we look at the four main channels of monetary policy transmission to the economy and give a preliminary assessment on its macroeconomic impact.

We see four transmission channels which are likely to impact the economy positively: 1) the depreciation of the euro (which boosts export competitiveness and inflation); 2) the reanchoring of inflation expectations (which prevent real interest rates from increasing); 3) the reduction in nominal yields (due to a reinforced forward guidance effect and the portfolio squeeze effect of the purchases); and 4) the portfolio rebalancing effect (the spillover to other asset classes such as corporate bonds, loans and equities).

The post Is QE working in the eurozone? And how? appeared first on AEI.

Let’s help the middle class. But which one needs it most? [AEI » Pethokoukis]

Even more than most elections, perhaps, 2016 will be about which party has the better ideas to help the American middle class. But which middle class? A new paper from the St. Louis Fed breaks down the middle into three groups whose “demographic characteristics suggest it is unlikely to be persistently rich or poor” in terms of income or wealth or both.

For instance, “the demographic characteristics that are most likely to be associated with a poor family include being young, having less than a high school education, and being a member of a historically disadvantaged minority, either African-American or Hispanic of any race. At the other extreme, the characteristics most likely to be associated with earning a high income or possessing a great deal of wealth in most years include being middle-aged or older, having a college degree and being white or Asian.”

And each demographic group is faring quite differently. In “The Middle Class May Be Under More Pressure Than You Think” authors William Emmons and Bryan Noeth divy things up like this:

– Thrivers, which are families likely to have income and wealth significantly above average in most years and are headed by someone with a two- or four-year college degree who is non-Hispanic white or Asian.

— Middle class, which are families likely to have income and wealth near average in most years and are headed by someone who is white or Asian with exactly a high school diploma or black or Hispanic with a two- or four-year college degree.

— Stragglers, which are families likely to have income and wealth significantly below average in most years and are headed by someone with no high school diploma of any race or ethnicity and black or Hispanic families with at most a high school diploma.

And their findings:

The median incomes of thrivers and stragglers were slightly higher in 2013 than in 1989—about 2 and 8 percent, respectively. The median income of the demographically defined middle class, on the other hand, was 16 percent lower in 2013 than in 1989. The median wealth of thrivers was 22 percent higher in 2013 than in 1989, while the typical family in each of the two other groups experienced large declines, of 27 percent among the middle class and 54 percent among stragglers.

A handy road map for policymakers when thinking about how to prioritize policies, yes?

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The post Let’s help the middle class. But which one needs it most? appeared first on AEI.

In Madison, Wisconsin, the Farmers Market returned to the Capitol Square today. [Althouse]

The farmers were there...

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And the deep-fried cheese curds...

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And the proponents of peace...

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And the Walker-haters...

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"Did punk begin with 'I'm Henry The 8th I Am'? The minimal production, the basic drums, the snotty sloppy carefree vocal delivery..." [Althouse]

"... the directly Ramones-inspiring, 4th wall breaking cry of 'Second Verse, same as the first'.. to what extent could this track be considered an overlooked antecendent of the punk rock movement?"

That's an internet discussion I encountered after reading jr565's comment — "in regards to Henry Viii - now we know where the Ramones got their 'second verse, same as the first' from" — on last night's post about the #1 songs of 1965.

Here's how the song looked as interpreted by Patty Duke (in her Cathy persona) on her old TV show in 1965:



Here's the adorable original Peter Noone (in his Herman persona):



Actually the original is Harry Champion (it's really a British music hall from 1910):
Click for more »

"Gay Events That I, Marco Rubio, Would Go To." [Althouse]

A comic piece at The New Yorker — #1 on The New Yorker's "most popular" list — that riffs on a WaPo item that reads:

Presidential candidate and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in an interview with Univision’s Jorge Ramos on Wednesday that he would attend a gay wedding of someone he was close to — while qualifying that he wouldn’t condone the union itself.
It's a good comic idea, which is why I and, I assume, many others clicked on it, which is all that is needed to be "popular" for the purposes of climbing an internet "most popular" chart. The execution of the comic idea is another matter. But that's subjective, and it's going to depend on whether you feel empathy for politicians who need to adopt a namby-pamby pose on gay marriage.

I stopped to contemplate the quality of my own humor. Should I say "a namby-pamby pose"? To help decide, I did a Google image search on the phrase "a namby-pamby pose." #1:



My question is answered. The god Serendipity has spoken.

UPDATE: Speaking of gods speaking, no sooner do I publish this post than my doorbell rings. Though I don't normally answer the doorbell, I go to the door. It's 2 men in suits and a little boy. They've got copies of The Watchtower. Here's how I reacted:



Ah! It's such a perfect day today! I believe in The Universe!

"One virtue of appointing federal appellate judges to the Court is that these highly judicialized folk are already masters at applying Supreme Court doctrine." [Althouse]

"After all, this is what circuit-court judges do every day: they study and apply what the Supreme Court has said about one legal issue or another. One problem, however, is that Supreme Court precedent can be dead wrong. Sometimes, in fact, it is baloney. And lower-court judges, who daily slice and eat this doctrinal baloney, may be ill-equipped to see it for what it is. Specifically, they may be inclined to think that judges are more right than they really are, and other branches of government, more wrong. A lower court’s job is to follow the Supreme Court’s precedents, whether right or wrong. But the Supreme Court’s job, in certain situations, is to correct its past mistakes—to overrule or depart from erroneous precedents. (Brown famously and gloriously abandoned Plessy v. Ferguson’s malodorous 'separate but equal' doctrine.) Someone who has not spent his or her entire life reading Supreme Court cases — who has instead spent time thinking directly about the Constitution and also spent time in a nonjudicial branch of government with its own distinct constitutional perspectives and traditions — may be particularly good at knowing judicial baloney when he or she sees it."

Writes lawprof Akhil Reed Amar in "Clones on the Court/A Supreme Court that once included former senators and governors is populated today by judges with identical résumés. Here's why that's a mistake."

"I grew up with: midcentury furniture, and I still get a sense of rightness from living with it." [Althouse]

"I don’t think it’s only because of a generational memory; 60 years later, some of these objects still seem unsurpassed. I have two chairs designed by Gio Ponti the year I was born [1952], which are really perfect."

Said the artist David Salle, responding to a prompt (in bold face) from The Wall Street Journal, which includes pictures of various things including a chair, but not the Gio Ponti chair he declared perfect. I'm going to guess — consider the possibilities — it's this:



Salle also praises the book “Several Short Sentences About Writing,” by Verlyn Klinkenborg, which (I see) says things like:

Why short sentences? They'll sound strange for a while until you can hear what they're capable of. But they carry you back to a prose you can control...
Dot dot dot because that sentence actually turns out to be long and I'm transcribing and don't want to transcribe it all. Do you need to learn to control your prose? Did you forget about the usefulness of short sentences? Do you need a book to remind you?

Salle also has this:
A transformative technology can: change how you hail a cab, but I’m not sure it changes the structure of things that are really important to me. When I was in art school, the first portable black-and-white video cameras were introduced and quickly became part of the artist’s tool kit. There was a lot of talk then about how they would fundamentally transform art. And of course they did no such thing.
When I was in art school, circa 1970, we were invited to become entranced with a dot matrix printer that could only print letters and numbers but which could produce a crude image of, say, a face because of the way various letters and numbers read as darker or lighter from a distance. Is this where we were going?

"They weren’t thinking about me, just about my mother. They just ripped me out and tossed me aside," said Frank Sinatra. [Althouse]

Sinatra was a gigantic baby, the year was 1915, the setting was the family's kitchen, and the midwife had to call for the doctor, who arrived, with forceps, to save the mother. 

The doctor cut the cord and laid the boy - huge and blue, bleeding from his wounds, and apparently dead - by the kitchen sink, then quickly shifted his efforts to ­saving the nearly unconscious mother’s life.

The women all leant in, shouting advice in ­Italian. At the back of the scrum, one of them looked at the seemingly lifeless baby, picked up it up and, just in case, ran ice cold water from the sink over it and slapped its back. It snuffled and began to howl....

In a nightclub with a lover named Peggy Connelly, he flinched when, in the dark, she caressed his left cheek and her fingertips touched his ear. Though she had barely noticed the deformity, he told her how sensitive he was about it....
Connelly recalled: ‘There was no ­outburst of emotion, just a ­lingering bitterness about what he felt had been a stupid neglect of his infant self to concentrate on his mother, otherwise his torn ear might have been tended to in time.’
As for the mother, Dolly Sinatra:
After Frank was born, there were no more babies, possibly because the birth rendered Dolly unable to have any, but more likely because she ­simply decided — and she was one of life’s deciders — she didn’t want to go through that again.
But she compensated for her trauma in the strangest of ways. She chose to become a midwife and an abortionist, for which ­illegal activity she got the ­nickname ­Hatpin Dolly and a ­criminal record.
The link goes to an excerpt from the book "Frank: The Making Of A Legend" by James Kaplan. I ran across that this morning because last night we were watching the new HBO documentary "Sinatra: All or Nothing at All," which isn't based on Kaplan's book, but goes through the same story of the birth and contains that brief, startling fact: Sinatra's mother was an abortionist.

We were watching the Sinatra documentary because we'd gotten tired of that other, much more noticed HBO documentary "Going Clear," which is based on the Lawrence Wright book "Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief." I'm sure the book is much more worth your time. The movie is just too dumb for my taste. In the part I put up with, there were too many boring people on camera stating that they were indeed taken in. But why? Some of the clips of L. Ron Hubbard were interesting. He was brilliant/crazy/devious. He's a good character. The rest of the cast... well, one wonders what they would have done with their lives if they hadn't entered the "prison of belief" in Scientology.

I was surprised to see that both documentaries were made by the same guy, Alex Gibney. If he could have been allowed to stay with the interesting character in "Going Clear," I might have liked it as much as "Sinatra: All or Nothing at All." But left to delve into the mystery of ordinary people getting and staying inside of religious belief, he had little insight. At least not in the part I put up with.

Maybe I'll finish it at some point... or, more likely, switch to Wright's book or just Wright's New Yorker article, "The Apostate, Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology." I could get interested in Scientology's complicated legal problems, but I don't want to hear long accounts of dumb people getting trapped in "the Prison of Belief." Why are other people's beliefs a "prison"? If some beliefs are prisons, what beliefs are not prisons? Now, if the point is, the organization threatens and bullies anyone who tries to leave, then it's not belief that is the prison.

ADDED: Lawrence Wright goes on the podcast "Here's the Thing with Alec Baldwin" which I was in the middle of listening to when I tried to watch HBO's "Going Clear." This morning, having given up on "Going Clear," I went back to the podcast and was surprised to get to hear Alec Baldwin complain that what the movie was missing was just about exactly what I'd thought. Go to 23:32. Baldwin had seen the movie, and he said: "There wasn't any sense, to me, of: What are the people who are in Scientology, who remain in Scientology, who are dedicated to this, what do they perceive they're getting out of it?... What does it do for them? Why are they there?" Baldwin suggests "maybe it's in the book," and Wright is able to give some answers — but these are answers that make me want to ask whether the motivations are different from what brings people into other religions.

By the way, at the "Here's the Thing" site, the title of Wright's book is misstated as "Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Unbelief." That's a good (if unwitting) response to my statement (above) it's not belief that is the prison.

"In 1965 there were a ton of deserving No. 1 songs on the Billboard charts..." [Althouse]

"... and two silly novelty ones."

ADDED: The discussion about The Ramones that begins in the comments continues here.

Development Release: Tanglu 3.0 Alpha 1 [DistroWatch.com: News]

Matthias Klumpp has announced the availability of a new collection of test images for the Debian-based Tanglu distribution. The 3.0 alpha release is available in three editions and two architectures. "We are pleased to announce the release of the first development release of Tanglu 3, which includes Tanglu....

Distribution Release: ExTiX 15.2 [DistroWatch.com: News]

Arne Exton has announced the launch of ExTiX 15.2, currently available in two editions, KDE and LXQt. The two editions are based on packages from the recently frozen Ubuntu 15.04 repositories and Debian "Jessie". "ExTiX Linux Live DVDs (64-bit) are based on Debian Jessie/Ubuntu 15.04. The original system....

Are You Pondering What I’m Pondering? [hogewash]

I think so, Brain … but how much threat can he be if he thinks a psyops only has one eye?


Funny You Should Mention That [hogewash]

Commenter gmhowell wrote this in the comment section of the Another Forgery? post below.

I suspect ‘Gail’ is to Bill as ‘mother’ was to Norman Bates: a convenient fiction to help him further his own mental deterioration.

That’s an interesting observation. You see, one of the images that the anonymous coward Team Kimberlin commenter(s) have been repeatedly sending along with comments about Mrs. Hoge is this one from the movie Psycho:batesmomTeam Kimberlin’s fascination with ugly, macabre, and perverse things is really quite repulsive.


Thanks for the Links [hogewash]

A significant number of page views here at Hogewash! come from outside links. I’d like to thank those sites that have sent viewers this way during the past week. In addition to hits from search engines, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, Hogewash! has had visitors linked from:

Allergic to Bull
The Other McCain
Helm’s Deep
Ichneumon
rawdog
Evi L Bloggerlady
Instapundit
The Camp of the Saints
Batshit Crazy News
Popehat
Conservative Hideout 2.0
Reason
Saber Point
Thinking Man’s Zombie
Patterico’s Pontification

Thanks, fellow bloggers, for those links, and thank you to everyone who clicked on them.


The North Pole [hogewash]

North PoleAfter spending more than a month being captured into orbit on the dark side of dwarf planet Ceres, the Dawn spacecraft has traveled so that the sunlit north pole has come into view. These images used to make this animation were taken on 10 April at a range of around 33,000 km, and they represent the highest-resolution views of Ceres released to date. The spacecraft will settle into an 13,500 km orbit around Ceres and hold that distance until 9 May when it will move in for a closer look.

Image Credit: NASA


Another Forgery? [hogewash]

A reader sent me this link to a URL at the Wayback Machine that archives one of the Cabin Boy’s™ blog posts. That archived post shows you something I cannot because of the settlement agreement in last year’s copyright case prevents me from reproducing that blog post without Schmalfeldt’s permission. That something is a purported copy of the email the Cabin Boy sent me in violation of the current peace order. The text of the email appears to be correct, but the header appears to be forged. The header in the email the Cabin Boy has posted IDs the sender as “Gail Schmalfeldt.”

Here’s the header from the email that I received …Email_header… and here is the return path for the email.BS_email_returnpath
It seems fair to ask: why Schmalfeldt would bother to change the header? Given that he’s admitted—even bragged—about sending the email, what’s the point of the change? Sure, lying liars gotta lie, but you’d think he’d take a day off once in a while.

Oh, that prohibition on posting blog posts without permission works both ways, and posting without permission would be a breach of the settlement agreement. The agreement allows for relief for such a breach to be sought in the courts of the State of Maryland.

 


Are You Pondering What I’m Pondering? [hogewash]

I think so, Brain … but wouldn’t you expect a dermatologist to make rash judgments?


Team Kimberlin Post of the Day [hogewash]

This is the post that the Cabin Boy™ says provided him with the right to begin harassing me.

Originally posted on 3 September, 2012

More Lawfare Threats From Team Kimberlin

Some bozo calling himself the Liberal Grouch appears to be a member of Brett Kimberlin’s clown posse, and he’s threatening to sue Aaron Walker for defamation. He believes that Mr. Walker defamed him because he was accurately quoted in postings tweeted by Mr. Walker.

You can find the details of the exchange in question here, including tweets/posts that the Liberal Grouch deleted (perhaps in an attempt to erase evidence?).

Team Kimberlin is saying that they will start a “legal defense fund” for the Liberal Grouch if he sues Mr. Walker. They have the right idea because he will need a defense fund when the counterclaims come back from Aaron Walker.

Oh, and if Bill Schmalfeldt (if that’s his real name) is stupid enough to sue Aaron Walker, I’ll be first in line to make a substantial contribution to the Blogger Defense Team to help defray Mr. Walker’s legal expenses.

UPDATE—@LiberalGrouch tweets that I should read his side of the story. [Schmalfeldt has deleted the website.] I have. My comments above stand.

* * * * *

I should point out a few things about that post and the Cabin Boy’s™ poor recollection of it.

First, while I did refer to him as a member of Brett’s clown posse, I did not call him a “clown.” I referred to him as a “bozo.”

Second, Schmalfeldt was threatening to sue Aaron for accurately quoting him and OccupyRebellion with respect to the threat to rape either Lee Stranahan or his wife. The Cabin Boy had enough sense back then not to file a patently bogus lawsuit, an insight that has since slipped away from him.

Third, when the Cabin Boy wound up needing a legal fund to help support his lawfare, his buddies on Team Kimberlin haven’t been willing to put their money where their mouths were in 2012.

Stacy McCain describes Bill Schmalfeldt as a “deranged cyberstalker.” Ken White has called him a “demented freak.” I have come to believe those descriptions are too kind.


Quote of the Day [hogewash]

Analogies prove nothing, that is quite true, but they can make one feel more at home.

—Sigmund Freud


The Cabin Boy™ Gets Off [hogewash]

Judge Ellinghaus-Jones found that Bill Schmalfeldt did contact me in violation of the current peace order, but because she because she believed his story about his intent to offer help for Mrs. Hoge’s cancer treatment, she found him not guilty.

She also sternly warned him to never contact me again.

Aaron Walker was present and will have a more detailed analysis of the trial posted at Allergic to Bull later.

When last seen, the Cabin Boy™ was headed to the Commissioners’ Office to try to file some sort of criminal charge against me.

UPDATE—A few things did go well during the trial.

The Cabin Boy™ was not permitted to bring up non-related topics.

UPDATE 2—Judge Ellinghuas-Jones made no ruling as to the validity of the current peace order. She informed Schmalfeldt that, even if she agreed with him, the District Court cannot overturn an order of a higher court, in this case, the Circuit Court.

UPDATE 3—Aaron Walker’s post is up at Allergic to Bull.


Conference video from the Coase conference [Marginal REVOLUTION]

The link is here, more or less unedited I am told.  Somewhere in there (Saturday, 11 a.m.) is a panel with myself, Kenneth Arrow, Sam Peltzman, Gary Libecap and others on how academia and publishing models are evolving.

There are very likely other good bits too, but I did not catch most of the conference.  A while ago I was told a disaggregated series of videos would be produced.  If those come my way I will let you all know.

Declining Desire to Work and Downward Trends in Unemployment and Participation [Marginal REVOLUTION]

That is the next (and for me final) NBER paper from the macro workshop, by Barnichon and Figura, the pdf is here.  Their main claim is quite startling, and very important if true.  Here is the abstract:

The US labor market has witnessed two apparently unrelated trends in the last 30 years:a decline in unemployment between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, and a decline in labor force participation since the early 2000s. We show that a substantial factor behind both trends is a decline in desire to work among individuals outside the labor force, with a particularly strong decline during the second half of the 90s. A decline in desire to work lowers both the unemployment rate and the participation rate, because a nonparticipant who wants to work has a high probability to join the unemployment pool in the future, while a nonparticipant who does not want to work has a low probability to ever enter the labor force. We use cross-sectional variation to estimate a model of nonparticipants’ propensity to want a job, and we find that changes in the provision of welfare and social insurance, possibly linked to the mid-90s welfare reforms, explain about 50 percent of the decline in desire to work.

Did you get that last bit?  Wild.  The Clinton-era welfare reforms lowered the incentive to work.  Another part of the paper explains the possible mechanisms in more detail:

We conjecture that two mechanisms could explain these results. First, the EITC expansion raised family income and reduced secondary earnersís (typically women) incentives to work. Second, the strong work requirements introduced by the AFDC/TANF reform would have, through a kind of “sink or swim” experience, left the “weaker” welfare recipients without welfare and pushed them away from the labor force and possibly into disability insurance.

The authors have strong reputations, but is it true?  Stay tuned, and look for my live-blogging in the comments section of this post…

Does immigration enforcement reduce crime? [Marginal REVOLUTION]

No.  From Thomas J. Miles and Adam B. Cox in the JLE:

Prior research investigates whether immigrants commit more crimes than native-born people. Yet the central policy used to regulate immigration — detention and deportation — has received little empirical evaluation. This article studies a recent policy innovation called Secure Communities. This program permits the federal government to check the immigration status of every person arrested by local police and to take the arrestee into federal custody promptly for deportation proceedings. Since its launch, the program has led to a quarter of a million detentions. We utilize the staggered rollout of the program across the country to obtain differences-in-differences estimates of its impact on crime rates. We also use unique counts of the detainees from each county and month to estimate the elasticity of crime with respect to confined immigrants. The results show that the Secure Communities program has had no observable effect on the overall crime rate.

That is once again via the excellent Kevin Lewis.

Mark Zuckerberg chooses Michael Chwe’s *Rational Ritual* for his book club [Marginal REVOLUTION]

I will second the recommendation.  Michael is a political scientist at UCLA, and this volume is one of the most important social books of the last fifteen years.  He shows the importance of “common knowledge” in explaining social phenomena, namely we create rational rituals so that others can see we are acting in concert with them.  It’s all about public ceremonies, parades, dances, and meetings.  It’s also why good Super Bowl commercials can be so effective.  The work dates from 2001, but it seems more relevant each year.

Business Insider puts it well:

Chwe’s concept is readily apparent in the dynamics of social media. When a media organization posts a link to an online article on Facebook, for example, and people begin “liking” it, others will begin to assign some level of importance to the story and some will be compelled to share it and discuss it. The idea of “common knowledge” may also lend itself to thinking about advertising strategies on social media.

In this regard, by the way, the openness of the internet may make us more rather than less conformist.  Here is a good review of the book.

Turkish economic myths [Marginal REVOLUTION]

That is a new must-read post from Dani Rodrik.  Here is a pieced-together excerpt:

…low domestic saving has been the perennial constraint on the Turkish economy…Under Erdogan, the constraint has become ever more binding, as the saving rate (and particularly, the private saving rate) has come down…

So how has Turkey overcome this constraint over the last 12 years? By applying the same recipe of macroeconomic populism it has always relied on to generate growth – by borrowing, especially short-term, to sustain domestic consumption and investment. This strategy typically bears fruit as long as finance is cheap and available. But it comes at the cost of accumulating fragility and increased vulnerability to reversals in financial market sentiment. It often ends up in crisis as the funds dry up.

The novelty under AKP is that the populist strategy was modified in two respects. First, there was much greater reliance on foreign capital inflows and less reliance on printing money. Second, there was a switch from public-sector to private-sector borrowing.

There are useful pictures at the link.

Shroud of Turin Goes on Display Tomorrow [The PJ Tatler]

The most baffling religious relic of the Catholic Church goes on display tomorrow for the first time since 2010.

The Shroud of Turin is rarely displayed these days because of its deteriorating condition. But starting tomorrow through June 24th, the relic will will be available for public veneration in the Turin cathedral.

Numerous scientific tests conducted on the Shroud have been inconclusive in determining how old it is and how the image of an apparently crucified man was imprinted on the 14 foot long cloth — except one. A radiocarbon dating test conducted in 1988 proved the cloth to be a medieval forgery — probably. Or maybe. Two separate labs working with small pieces of the Shroud snipped off by scientists determined that the linen was manufactured in a 130 year period between 1260 and 1390.

Try as they might, those who believe the Shroud to be the burial cloth of Christ have offered no convincing proof that the radiocarbon test was flawed. The latest efforts center on trying to prove that the cloth is actually 2000 years old and that it had been cross contaminated with more modern pollens or bacteria. Another explanation for the later date has to do with the sample taken by scientists coming for a patch used to repair the Shroud following a fire that damaged it in the 16th century.

For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible.

What makes the Shroud such a compelling and mysterious object is the way it appears in photographic negatives. Until 1898, all that was visible was the faint outline, presumably in blood, of a human form. But an amateur photographer, Secondo Pia was astonished after being allowed to take a photo of the Shroud, to see the clear image of a human male that showed up on the negative.

0000.jpg - Shortcut.lnk

But no one has an answer to the question of how the image got on the Shroud. It’s not paint. It’s not a pigment of any kind. And there is no evidence that the various techniques to produce an image known by Medieval artists were used.

But few of the nearly 1 million people who will view the Shroud in the next two months care much about the scientific arguments.

Associated Press:

The 4.3-meter-long (14-foot) cloth will be displayed April 19-June 24. Pope Francis will view it on June 21 on an overnight trip to the Turin area, which will include private time with relatives.

Public viewings of the cloth were last held in 2010.

“Many pilgrims who had already seen the shroud in past showings come back, even though some saw it just five years ago,” Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia said on Saturday.

“That’s not a long time. And yet many of the bookings we have are people who have already seen the shroud. That means there is a fundamental need in people’s hearts to renew this incredible experience that they had the first time they saw it,” the prelate told reporters.

Reservations are mandatory but free of charge to see the shroud, displayed in a climate-controlled case, in Turin’s cathedral. Turin’s mayor said recently that more that 1 million people had made reservations. In 2010, some 2.5 million people came, according to organizers of the display.

The pope’s predecessor, Benedict XVI, has described the cloth as an icon “written with the blood” of a crucified man. Benedict said there was “full correspondence with what the Gospels tell us of Jesus.”

When Pope John Paul II saw the shroud in 1998, he said the mystery forces questions about faith and sciences and whether it really was Jesus’ burial linen. He urged continuous study.

Skeptics say the linen bearing the figure of a crucified man is a medieval forgery.

Nosiglia said people of all faiths will come to see the shroud, not just Christians. “Even non-believers will come. It’s an occasion that brings everybody together and aims to give a precise response to the violence in this world. It tells us that the way to build a fairer world is not violence, but love,” he said.

I am not a believer but I find the Shroud the most fascinating religious artifact in the world. There is nothing comparable in any other religion of which I am aware. It is certainly the most debated, the most studied religious artifact and for that, a trip to Turin to view it is most definitely worth it.

Celebrate ‘Diversity’ by Having Girls Wear Muslim Head Scarf? [The PJ Tatler]

This is one of the most bizarre efforts by diversity freaks to advance their cause.

A high school principal has canceled an exercise dubbed “The Covered Girl Challenge,” where girls would cover their heads with a Muslim head scarf. The event was nixed after intense criticism from people not besotted with idiotic notions of cultural relativism.

But, hey! Her heart was in the right place:

Intense criticism has prompted an Ohio high school’s principal to cancel a student event in which girls would celebrate diversity by spending a day wearing a Muslim headscarf.

Mason High School Mindy McCarty-Stewart also issued an apology in an email Thursday to district families, saying the intent of the April 23 student-led event was meant to be positive, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

“I now realize that as adults we should have given our students better guidance. After much consideration and after talking with the student event organizers, we have canceled the event,” she said.

Well, if the point of the event was supposed to be positive, obviously everything is OK. The fact that it was a display of profound ignorance about Islam and the brutal way it treats women — covered or not — should have had no bearing on the happy happy path to diversity and understanding the event would have promoted.

Sharon Poe, a former school board candidate in the district, told the Enquirer she opposed the “Covered Girl” event.

“My belief is wearing these hijabs represents the oppression of women and Sharia law,” she said, adding that public schools should not be promoting one religious tradition over another.

However, Yasmeen Allen, an Iraqi native with two teenagers at Mason High, told the newspaper that Muslim students at the school “were robbed of an opportunity” to counter negativity their religion faces around the world.

McCarty-Stewart said she decided to cancel the event because it was clear it was not reaching its goal of teaching tolerance, the Dayton Daily News reported.

She also said it was a mistake for the event, which was sponsored by a Muslim student group, to be promoted by the school’s student activities department.

The decision to cancel the event has since prompted its own backlash, with some complaining that the school caved in to anti-Muslim bigotry, The Associated Press reported.

To be intolerant of intolerance is the best lesson those kids can learn out of this. Since when is it “anti-Muslim bigotry” to protest against the reality of Muslim treatment of women? Sheesh.

Only radical multiculturalists promote diversity in a vacuum. When you ignore the reality of Islam’s oppressive 8th century ideas about women and celebrate one of the major symbols of that oppression — the hijab — you give aid and comfort to the very people and ideas you are supposed to be fighting.

Muslims do not celebrate “diversity.” They punish it — harshly. The price for non-conformity is sometimes death, always ostracization. And the hell of it is, the principal is clueless about the gaping dichotomy of celebrating diversity by having girls wear an anti-diversity symbol.

Someone that dense should be fired.

Last Two Doolittle Raiders Honored on Anniversary [The PJ Tatler]

Only two men are left alive from the 80 airmen and pilots who took off from the deck of the USS Hornet on April 18, 1942, and set out to send Japan a message that the U.S. would stop at nothing to win the war begun by Japan a few months earlier.

Retired Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” Cole, 99, and Staff Sgt. David Thatcher, 93, are the last of the Doolittle Raiders — the men who struck the first blow against the Japanese empire by bombing Tokyo. They are in Dayton, Ohio, today to present the Raiders Congressional Gold Medal to the National Museum of the US Air Force.

Associated Press:

“It just happens that way, I guess,” Thatcher, of Missoula, Montana, said of being one of the last survivors.

“Something’s just got to give,” said Cole, a Dayton native who lives in Comfort, Texas.

The museum’s director, retired Lt. Gen. Jack Hudson, accepted the medal, the highest honor Congress can give a civilian, for them in Washington on Wednesday. In a video message, Cole said it was an honor to receive the medal “on behalf of 78 fallen Raiders who we proudly served with on that famous raid.”

The latest Raider to fall was Lt. Col. Robert Hite, who died March 29 at age 95 at a Nashville, Tennessee, nursing facility. Hite was also the last of the eight Raiders who were captured by Japanese soldiers. Three were executed and a fourth died in captivity. Three other Raiders were killed soon after the bombing run, as most crash-landed or had to ditch.

Cole was the co-pilot for their mission’s leader, James “Jimmy” Doolittle, in plane No. 1 of the 16. Thatcher was engineer-gunner aboard the 7th plane, nicknamed “The Ruptured Duck,” whose crew’s crash-landing and evasion of Japanese troops in China was depicted in the movie “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo.”

Thatcher, who was played by Robert Walker in the movie while Spencer Tracy portrayed Doolittle, chuckled as he recounted how the Raiders had given little thought at the time of the raid about earning a place in history.

“We figured it was just another bombing mission,” he said in a phone interview from his home this week.

In the years afterward, though, he said, they realized: “It was an important event in World War II.”

Thatcher, who said he uses a cane and walker but otherwise is “getting around OK,” was looking forward to weekend events including reunions with family members of the other Raiders to share stories and remembrances.

“You learn something new every time,” Thatcher said.

Sixteen specially outfitted B-25s — a land-based bomber not designed for carrier take-offs — flew the long, perilous mission to drop a few bombs on the Japanese capital, also hitting targets in Yokohama and one each in Yokosuka, Nagoya, Kobe and Osaka. They took off 10 hours early after the task force was sighted by a Japanese picket boat, but all 16 crews managed to make it to the coast of China where most of the crews bailed out after running out of fuel.

Friendly villagers rescued all but 10 of the Raiders, which resulted in massive, brutal retaliation by the Japanese.

Smithsonian:

That generosity shown by the Chinese would trigger a horrific retaliation by the Japanese that claimed an estimated quarter-million lives and would prompt comparisons to the 1937-38 Rape of Nanking. American military authorities, cognizant that a raid on Tokyo would result in a vicious counterattack upon free China, saw the mission through regardless, even keeping the operation a secret from their Pacific theater allies. This chapter of the Doolittle Raid has largely gone unreported—until now.

Long-forgotten missionary records discovered in the archives of DePaul University for the first time shed important new light on the extent to which the Chinese suffered in the aftermath of the Doolittle raid.

n the moments after the attack on Tokyo, Japanese leaders fumed over the raid, which had revealed China’s coastal provinces as a dangerous blind spot in the defense of the homeland. American aircraft carriers not only could launch surprise attacks from the seas and land safely in China but could possibly even fly bombers directly from Chinese airfields to attack Japan. The Japanese military ordered an immediate campaign against strategically important airfields, issuing an operational plan in late April, just days after the Doolittle raid.

Survivor accounts point to an ulterior objective: to punish the Chinese allies of the United States forces, especially those towns where the American aviators had bailed out after the raid. At the time, Japanese forces occupied Manchuria as well as key coastal ports, railways and industrial and commercial centers in China.

[...]

By early June, the devastation had begun. Father Wendelin Dunker observed the result of a Japanese attack on the town of Ihwang:

“They shot any man, woman, child, cow, hog, or just about anything that moved, They raped any woman from the ages of 10 – 65, and before burning the town they thoroughly looted it.”

He continued, writing in his unpublished memoir, “None of the humans shot were buried either, but were left to lay on the ground to rot, along with the hogs and cows.”

The Japanese eventually captured eight of the Americans, executing three for “war crimes.” One American died in captivity and the remaining four were eventually rescued by soldiers when Nanking, where the prisoners were being held, was liberated.

The audaciousness of the raid had a big effect on American morale, but it was the Japanese, shaken by the notion that their cities were not invulnerable, who were affected even more. The military actually moved up plans to attack Port Morseby, New Guinea and Midway Island. When our codebreakers, who had cracked one of the Japanese navy cyphers, intercepted the information, the resulting naval engagements in Coral Sea and especially the decisive battle off of Midway Island sealed the fate of Japan and sent us on the road to victory.

The World War II generation is rapidly receding into history, but exploits like the Doolittle Raid will never be forgotten as long as courage and fortitude are celebrated in America.

Yee-Hah: Open Carry Coming to Texas [The PJ Tatler]

About time:

Texas is poised to become the largest state in the U.S. to allow citizens to openly carry handguns, a change long sought by gun-rights activists. The Texas House of Representatives on Friday voted 96-35 to allow residents with concealed-handgun licenses to openly carry their guns in public in holsters. A similar open-carry measure passed the Texas Senate last month; the two open-carry bills must be squared before being sent to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who has indicated support for the idea.

In contrast to its reputation for being permissive on firearms, Texas is one of six states, including California, New York and Florida, that currently bars citizens from openly carrying handguns. People who want to carry handguns in public on their person must obtain concealed-weapons permits and keep the weapons hidden.

“We are seeing historic progress in Texas,” said Terry Holcomb Sr., executive director of Texas Carry, a gun-rights group. He noted that open-carry legislation had never even made it out of a Texas legislative committee before this year.

No doubt the Left will flip out. But if Democrats can find a right to baby murder in the Constitution, surely conservatives can point to an actual constitutional amendment to support their position. Hey — it’s even happening in California.

The Fall of Ramadi Would Upend US Iraq Policy [The PJ Tatler]

It’s the same old story we’ve heard a dozen times. Islamic State targets a key city or region. They attack relentlessly. Iraqi troops flee in terror. And the government tries to cover up the fact that their soldiers are unable to stem the Islamic State tide.

What’s happening in Ramadi is a familiar story, one that has played out across western Iraq since early last year. But the administration had just made the claim this week that Islamic State had lost 30% of the territory it conquered last year, suggesting the war were going better.

The lightning assault on Ramadi would suggest otherwise.

Washington Post:

Rawi said that there had been “realignments” of forces but not retreats and that there were assurances from the U.S.-led ­coalition that airstrikes would increase. Still, he said, support has been sorely lacking.

“We don’t know if it’s neglect or just a lack of capacity,” he said.

Brig. Gen. Tahseen Ibrahim, a spokesman for Iraq’s Ministry of Defense, said reinforcements from counterterrorism units had been deployed.

“Our troops are preparing themselves to attack,” he said. Discussions were underway as to whether to also send what are known as popular mobilization forces, which include Shiite militias, but there was not yet an agreement, he said.

The question of sending the largely Shiite paramilitary forces has been contentious in Anbar, a predominantly Sunni province. But as the security situation has deteriorated, a growing number of local tribal leaders and officials have said they need all the help they can get. In his sermon Friday, Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, said “all sons of Iraq” should help the fight, a comment viewed as an endorsement of the militias playing a role.

At a Pentagon briefing Thursday, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, played down the importance of Ramadi, saying that it is “not symbolic in any way” and that Baiji, a key location for Iraq’s oil infrastructure, is “a more strategic target.”

But Iraqi military officials have said that securing Anbar province, much of which is controlled by the ­Islamic State, is an essential step before any advance on Mosul, the group’s base of power in Iraq.

That view was echoed Friday by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who called Dempsey’s remarks a “gross mischaracterization.”

“The fall of Ramadi would be seen by Iraqi Sunnis as a failure of the Baghdad government to protect them, and could deal a major blow to political reconciliation efforts that are essential to defeating ISIL,” McCain, using another acronym for the Islamic State, said in a statement Friday that was released jointly by Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.). “Yet apparently, the current U.S. strategy is to defend an oil refinery in Beiji, but abandon the capital of pivotal Anbar province to ISIL.”

With Shia militias rampaging through Sunni towns and villages, residents of Anbar don’t trust the government, and military forces fleeing the region and not much being sent from Baghdad to help with the fight confirms their suspicions that the government just doesn’t care very much about them.

The fall of Ramadi would only add to their well-founded skepticism:

Should Iraqi forces appear to only be able to win with the help of militiamen that reportedly looted their communities, it could exacerbate the very same sectarian tensions that led to the rise of ISIS.

“It can increase Sunni resentment and can set the stage of future Sunni resistance against Shiite advancement,” Gartenstein-Ross said. Given that the groups were also backed in some way by Iran “creates risks of perception of regional Shite war.”

And with less territory to control, there could be more ISIS fighters available to move to other areas to “surge them somewhere else or try to capture new territory.”

That’s because the terror group doesn’t appear to have lost many of its forces, even as it lost Tikrit.

U.S. defense officials told The Daily Beast that Iraqi forces confronted little resistance and that few fighters left Tikrit. It suggested that remnants of Saddam Husein’s regime—Baathist party members—were as strong a presence in Tikrit as ISIS. (After all, Tikrit is Saddam’s hometown and a Baathist stronghold.) Baathists and ISIS have increasingly worked together in Iraq even as they have varied goals: While Baathists are Iraqi secular nationalists seeking a return to power, ISIS wants a regional, ultra-religious caliphate.

What remains unclear is whether the loss of territory will create a stronger or weaker alliance between the two groups.

If Ramadi falls, it will likely push back Iraqi and US plans to retake Anbar province, including the key city of Mosul, this year. It may also change US calculations on whether we should give the Iraqi army more sophisticated arms.

But the real damage would occur with efforts to unite the country behind the government. Many Sunnis, if not fighting with IS, are not very troubled that the terrorists are giving the government all they can handle. That kind of lukewarm loyalty to Baghdad stands in the way of forging an effective, united front of Shias, Sunnis, and Kurds to throw Islamic State out of the country.

The fall of Ramadi would only exasperate the problem as Sunnis are confirmed in their belief that government forces will only fight and die to protect Shias. Prime Minister al-Abadi would do well to rush a sizable number of troops to the battle in Anbat and make a supreme effort to protect Ramadi from IS.

Otherwise, progress against Islamic State elsewhere won’t mean very much in the end.

‘Fundamental Transformation’ Taking America Down a Peg Economically [The PJ Tatler]

You have to give Obama this: he promised “transformation” and he’s delivering:

As world leaders converge here for their semiannual trek to the capital of what is still the world’s most powerful economy, concern is rising in many quarters that the United States is retreating from global economic leadership just when it is needed most.

The spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank have filled Washington with motorcades and traffic jams and loaded the schedules of President Obama and Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew. But they have also highlighted what some in Washington and around the world see as a United States government so bitterly divided that it is on the verge of ceding the global economic stage it built at the end of World War II and has largely directed ever since.

“It’s almost handing over legitimacy to the rising powers,” Arvind Subramanian, the chief economic adviser to the government of India, said of the United States in an interview on Friday. “People can’t be too public about these things, but I would argue this is the single most important issue of these spring meetings.”

The evidence is clear: our first Third World, fundamentally anti-American president, sold to the American public as a sunny optimist, is in fact a saturnine, rage-filled chameleon who will only ramp up the destruction in the final two years of his disastrous presidency.

Of course, the New York Times finds a positive spin to explain the decline:

Washington’s retreat is not so much by intent, Mr. Subramanian said, but a result of dysfunction and a lack of resources to project economic power the way it once did. Because of tight budgets and competing financial demands, the United States is less able to maintain its economic power, and because of political infighting, it has been unable to formally share it either.

Experts say that is giving rise to a more chaotic global shift, especially toward China, which even Obama administration officials worry is extending its economic influence in Asia and elsewhere without following the higher standards for environmental protection, worker rights and business transparency that have become the norms among Western institutions.

President Obama, while trying to hold the stage, clearly recognizes the challenge. Pitching his efforts to secure a major trade accord with 11 other Pacific nations, he told reporters on Friday: “The fastest-growing markets, the most populous markets, are going to be in Asia, and if we do not help to shape the rules so that our businesses and our workers can compete in those markets, then China will set up the rules that advantage Chinese workers and Chinese businesses.”

The Times: defending Obama til the last dog dies. Watch whom they endorse in the 2016 election to see what fate they wish for America.

Disney's fabric-based 3D printer puts out squishable objects you'll want to hug [PCWorld]

The typical, consumer-grade 3D printer creates objects made of thin layers of stiff, brittle plastic fused together. Of course, hard plastic isn’t ideal for all projects, so that’s why researchers from Disney, Cornell University, and Carnegie Mellon Univeristy have developed a new 3D-printing technique that creates objects out of layers of felt.

Disney’s fabric 3D printing method starts by taking a 3D model of an object, and “slicing” into printable layers—a typical part of the 3D printing process. Next, the printer laser-cuts shapes out of adhesive fabric that correspond to the sliced layers, then transfers that layer onto the printer’s build platform. It then applies heat to each layer to “activate” the fabric’s adhesive. 

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

How to make Linux's desktop look good on high-resolution displays [PCWorld]

Ultra-high-resolution displays with high pixel densities are all the rage now, and for good reason: They look amazing compared to conventional displays. The big problem for PC users is that a lot of software isn't designed with that level of pixel density in mind.

If you're running GNOME 3 in Linux, your first boot will have you looking for your reading glasses. (Windows suffers from similar issues with high-DPI displays.)

Luckily, you can save your eyes and enjoy that glorious screen you paid for with a few steps. This article will show you how to change the scaling settings for GNOME 3, Mozilla’s Firefox and Thunderbird, and Chromium.

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

Shape-shifting robot reveals secrets of Fukushima reactor [PCWorld]

Two robots that can change their shape on command have provided the most detailed look yet inside the heart of reactor number 1 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station in Japan.

The reactor is one of three that suffered a core meltdown after the massive tsunami that knocked electrical systems offline at the plant in March 2011, prompting a nuclear emergency that will take decades to clean up.

One of the most difficult jobs for the plant’s owner, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), is how to safely decommission the reactors that melted down, which are much too dangerous for humans to enter.

The robots are inspecting the reactor’s primary containment vessel (PCV), a large concrete structure that sits around the reactor and most of its associated machinery and piping. Molten nuclear fuel melted through the bottom of the reactor following the tsunami and is thought to have fallen to the floor of the PCV.

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

Comcast to bring two-gigabit Internet service to Bay Area, boost existing tiers [PCWorld]

Comcast said Friday that it will bring its 2-gigabit symmetrical Gigabit Pro service to San Francisco Bay Area consumers in May, sidestepping Google and its own fiber plans. The company also said it will boost the speeds of some of its more premium tiers and add a new Extreme 250 tier.

A Comcast spokesman said that prices for each of the services would be announced closer to the launch date. Comcast also said it would upgrade its Performance tier from 50 Mbps (megabits per second) to 75 Mbps, and its Blast tier from 105 Mbps to 150 Mbps, all for free.

Comcast previously announced plans to launch the Gigabit Pro service in Atlanta.

Why this matters: Cynics will see this as a way to appease Silicon Valley techies who may be lobbying the Federal Communication Commission and the Department of Justice to enforce net neutrality and block Comcast’s proposed merger with Time Warner Cable. It’s certain that these new bandwidth tiers won’t come cheap. But to Silicon Valley techies with nothing to spend money on but rent, food, gadgets, and sweet, sweet Internet, how can you say no?

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

Give Obama the Hook [Power Line]

(Steven Hayward)

I made the horrid mistake of channel-surfing to C-SPAN Senate coverage a couple days ago just in time to catch Sen. Babs “Don’t-Call-Me-Ma’am” Boxer bloviating about some public letter by “very smart people” backing up Obama’s Iran negotiations. Just then the batteries on my remote conked out, and I had to get up and walk over to the TV to change the channel, just like our great grandparents had to do before they trudged off five miles through the snow to school. It was that traumatic.

By coincidence, I just happened to be re-reading an old essay by Sidney Hook, who had this to say about the “very smart people” in his mid-century world of philosophers:

The plain truth of the matter is that philosophers who have concerned themselves with public affairs in the past have not distinguished themselves by the cogency of their analysis or the accuracy of their predictions. For example, every one of the philosophers who ventured a judgment on the Munich settlement of 1938—Whitehead, Russell, Dewey, Santayana according to report—hailed it and urged its approval as the best insurance of peace. It turned out to be the worst.

I’m still not totally sold on some aspect of Sidney Hook, but he was right on the central questions of the Cold War, and we could certainly use him around today.

A signing bonus for Iran? [Power Line]

(Scott Johnson)

One gets the impression that President Obama would be open to throwing in a couple of nuclear devices of the Supreme Leader’s choice to be named later if only Iran will sign a nuclear agreement with him on the dotted line. Consider Omri Ceren’s latest email update:

This Wall Street Journal article by Carol Lee and Jay Solomon went live yesterday [evening] just as everyone was going home, but it’s everywhere this morning so I wanted to pass it along. It reports out the President’s comments from yesterday [discussed here], in which he moved to placate Khamenei’s new demand for immediate sanctions relief upon signing a deal.

The White House is trying to spin the new concession, which contradicts the factsheet they distributed the evening of the Lausanne announcement, in two ways.

1st — they’re telling journalists that the new concession doesn’t matter because the snapback mechanism is more important than the sequencing of sanctions relief. That’s a difficult position to defend politically, because it’s obvious the White House caved again, and even more difficult to defend substantively, because snapback only works in theory if the Iranian economy is sufficiently fragile for pressure to matter – and immediate relief would stabilize that economy. Beyond the optics and the theory, very few people believe the administration’s Rube Goldberg mechanism for restoring sanctions would even work (FDD’s Mark Dubowitz has been saying so for months – http://www.foreignpolicyi.org/content/hill-briefing-wrap-iran-p51-and-congress – and David Rothkopf was brutal on the question last week – https://foreignpolicy.com/2015/04/09/hillary-clinton-is-the-real-iran-snap-back-obama-china-russia-sanctions/). It’s just not a great position to defend.

But this is what the administration has left, so this is what they’re going with. You’ll see more of it – ‘snapback more important than sanctions’ – over the weekend and into Monday as White House officials do damage control.

2nd — they’re trying to borderline-gaslight journalists by insisting that there was no new concession, that the President didn’t signal any new flexibility, and that sanctions relief will still be phased out. That line is falling a bit flat – Obama said what he said – but now the question is how they intend to square the circle. How do they make sanctions relief phased in principle, so they can keep saying they didn’t cave, but instantaneous in practice, so that the Iranians will take the concession? On that point there’s a suggestive little scooplet buried in the WSJ article:

“The Obama administration estimates Iran has between $100 billion and $140 billion of its oil revenue frozen in offshore accounts as a result of sanctions. U.S. officials said they expect Tehran to gain access to these funds in phases as part of a final deal. Iran could receive somewhere between $30 billion and $50 billion upon signing the agreement, said congressional officials briefed by the administration. Complicating negotiations, U.S.-ally Saudi Arabia has repeatedly charged in recent weeks that Iran has provided significant funding, arms and training to Shiite insurgents in Yemen who gained control of the country’s capital, San’a, and forced the country’s president to flee. Iran has denied these allegations. Iran also is a major supporter of the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, the Assad regime in Syria and a group of Shiite militias fighting in Iraq.”

An immediate and irreversible infusion of $50 billion would boost Iran’s GDP by more than 10% overnight and signal the end of meaningful financial pressure. But it would also allow the White House to continue insisting that sanctions relief was being phased out in principle: all the sanctions that matter would get removed immediately, but there would still be a few sanctions left as a legal matter.

The trick could still prove politically toxic on the Hill. It would provide the Iranians with an infusion of $50 billion for their terror infrastructure and their march across the Middle East, which would panic our Arab allies. who are at war with Iran because of those campaigns. It’s also $50 billion to a regime that is dedicated to America’s destruction and that killed over a thousand American soldiers. That spins itself.

Omri seeks to maintain our fighting spirit and keep hope alive as Obama seeks to sell us out, but the Democrats will fall into line with Obama as necessary to support the consummation he devoutly wishes with the Supreme Leader. Otherwise, you know, war. War is coming too, but it will arrive down the road, under circumstances less advantageous to us than those that prevail now.

I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar! [Power Line]

(John Hinderaker)

The Democrats were able to elect Barack Obama president strictly on the basis of his race, and they hope to duplicate the trick with Hillary Clinton. For a number of reasons, I have been skeptical that gender politics can put Hillary in the White House. Most fundamentally, she lacks the superficial attractiveness that many saw in Obama. But this video by Caleb Bonham and a group called Campus Reform is a reminder that, however silly it may seem, there are plenty of people for whom the fact that Mrs. Clinton is a woman is a decisive argument:

God help us.

A fine “mess” [Power Line]

(Scott Johnson)

Having lived through the Sturm and Drang over the precisely accurate “16 words” regarding Saddam Hussein in President Bush’s 2003 State of the Union Address, I am struck by the media’s — how to put it? — lack of interest in the absurd falsehoods retailed by President Obama et al. in the service of equally consequential causes.

President Obama and Secretary Kerry, for example, have both cited the fatwa allegedly promulgated by Iran’s Supreme Leader prohibiting the development of nuclear weapons in support of their arrangement in process with Iran. MEMRI has demonstrated over and over the nonexistence of the fatwa. Most recently, MEMRI has put it this way (footnotes omitted):

In President Obama’s announcement of the joint statement following the conclusion of the negotiations in Lausanne, he again mentioned the nonexistent fatwa, stating as fact that Iran’s Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons. This assertion by the president is not true. Such a fatwa has never been issued, and to this day no one has been able to show it, as MEMRI has detailed in five reports so far.

Where is the Sturm? Where is the Drang? They having gone missing along with the fatuous fatwa.

In his recent interview with the worshipful New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, Obama said this:

“I have to respect the fears that the Israeli people have, and I understand that Prime Minister Netanyahu is expressing the deep-rooted concerns that a lot of the Israeli population feel about this, but what I can say to them is: Number one, this is our best bet by far to make sure Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon, and number two, what we will be doing even as we enter into this deal is sending a very clear message to the Iranians and to the entire region that if anybody messes with Israel, America will be there.”

Elliott Abrams seeks to explicate Obama’s use of the term “messes with” in this passage:

What does “messes with Israel” mean? No one has the slightest idea. The President unfortunately uses this kind of diction too often, dumbing down his rhetoric for some reason and leaving listeners confused. Today, Iran is sending arms and money to Hamas in Gaza, and has done so for years. Is that “messing with Israel?” Iran has tried to blow up several Israeli embassies, repeating the successful attack it made on Israel’s embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992. Fortunately Israel has foiled the more recent plots, but is attempting to bomb Israeli embassies “messing with Israel?” Iranian Revolutionary Guards, along with Hezbollah troops, are in southern Syria now near the Golan. Is that “messing with Israel?” And what does the President mean by “America will be there?’ With arms? With bandages? With the diplomatic protection his administration is now considering removing at the United Nations?

If Iran “messes with Israel” via a nuclear weapon, is Obama promising retaliation by the United States? The context seems to me to suggest something like this, yet it is an absurd form of reassurance. If Iran were to “mess with Israel” via a nuclear weapon, Israel would retaliate on its own behalf, but otherwise wouldn’t be around to enjoy the show. Abrams takes this up in connection with another of Obama’s statements to Friedman, commenting:

What Israel worries about today is a nuclear attack by Iran or a terrorist group like Hezbollah to which Iran has given the bomb. No doubt that qualifies as “messing with Israel,” but were that to occur what exactly would “America will be there” and “stand by them” mean? Take in refugees from the destroyed State of Israel after the nuclear attack on it? The President’s language about “commitments” suggests that he may envision a formal defense commitment by the United States to Israel. Israel has not wanted such a treaty because it has always said it wants to defend itself, not have Americans dying to defend it. That position has served the US-Israel relationship well for 67 years. Should it really be changed now, and would that really help Israel? What would the value of such a commitment be? To ask the question another way, are not Poles and Estonians wondering right now about the value of their membership in NATO, if Mr. Putin “messes” with them?

The conclusion that I draw is not a new one; it is an old one. Obama and his minions repeatedly prove themselves willing to say anything in a bad cause. Beyond that, Obama’s words signify nothing. It is best not to put to much effort into trying to construe their precise meaning other than as instruments to promote the sale. One would think that this development might be newsworthy, but in Obama’s case, the news has become the preserve of an obscure institute specializing in Middle East research, or an out of the way blog maintained by a former Reagan/Bush administration official.

Abrams has more, all of it worth reading, in “‘Messing’ with Israel.”

The Week in Pictures: Hillarypalooza Edition [Power Line]

(Steven Hayward)

Has there ever been a more bizarre and more feckless presidential campaign launch than Hillary 2016? The nation might—might—be “Ready for Hillary,” but Hillary doesn’t look ready for us. Democratic elders must be privately in a state of panic: at least when Howard Dean melted down (or Ed Muskie in 1972—recall that he had the nomination locked up too, according to all the experts), there was a bench of other plausible candidates ready to step in the breach. What happens when Hillary botches something completely, or has a health problem?  Meanwhile, if GOP operatives had any sense of humor, they’d resurrect the 1980s A-Team van to chase after Hillary’s “Scoobie” van.

D'oh copy

Bill and Hill copy

Gives a whole new meaning to "Ready for Hillary," doesn't it?

Gives a whole new meaning to “Ready for Hillary,” doesn’t it?

Hillary with Horns copy

Hillary Kooll Aid copy

Hillary Nostalgia copy

Scooby Van copy Hillary Scoobue Van copy

Hillary Bemused copy

Caption Contest!

Hillary Small copy

And that’s how much latitude Bill will have with interns. . .

Hllary Choice copy Hillary Alzheimers copy Hillary Recycles copy Hillary Fiberty copy Hillary Speech copy Hillary Reset copy Hillary-The Sequel copy Hillary You-Me copy Hillary Baggage 2 copy Hillary Blimp copy Hillary Accomplishments copy Hillary Confusion copy Hillary Evidence Marker copy Hillary Wink copy Hillary Nope copy Hillary Dark Matter copy Hillary Exorcist copy Hillary Kooll Aid copy Bush Clinton copy Hill Civil War copy Hill Headroom copy Delete Key? copy Unclaimed Baggage copy Elle Cover Hillary copy Chelsea Cover copy

Bill! Dude! Time to quit your gluten-free diet. Go back to McDonalds.

Bill! Dude! Time to quit your gluten-free diet. Go back to McDonalds.

Copter copy Gyrocopter 2 copy Copter 3 copy

Islamic Mona Lisa copyObama JV copy

Reid Eye copy

Democrat Duck copy

Tax Day copy

Push UYps copy Thesaurus copy

Han Solo Home copy

And finally. . .

Hot 271 copy

Physicians Want Dr. Oz Removed from Columbia University Board Over His Bad Medical Advice [Wizbang]

On Friday, TVs “Dr. Oz,” Doctor Mehmet Oz, was once again forced to defend himself this time after a group of physicians at Columbia University demanded he be removed from the board over what they claim is his pushing of bad science and unsound medical advice. Oz responded after the group of Doctors forwarded a letter to the university asking the school to dismiss the TV doc from its board. The letter charges that Oz is a “fake and a charlatan.” The letter continues saying, “Dr. Oz has repeatedly shown disdain for science and for evidence-based medicine.” The letter also

Thrill-Kill Punk Convicted, Gets Life Without Parole [Wizbang]

“Luna has been found guilty of First-Degree Murder after Australian baseball player, Christopher Lane, was shot and killed as he jogged in Duncan in August 2013.” -Newson6.com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

‘Leftist Writers: We’re Here to Abolish White People’ [Ed Driscoll]

As spotted by Ace:

 

Unexpectedly.

Update:
Of course, it’s not like some masses need outside help to hasten their extinction.

We Came in Peace, for All Humankind [Ed Driscoll]

1984_fahrenheit_451_not_how-to-guides_6-1-14-1

Everything’s a Problem, the satirical blog written by Sonny Bunch of the Washington Free Beacon, has some fun going into faux-outrage mode over “Calling People ‘Guys,’” and quotes as his “problematic” example, David Gelernter’s March 2008 article in the Weekly Standard on “Feminism and the English Language,” in which Gelernter writes:

How can I teach my students to write decently when the English language has become a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Academic-Industrial Complex? Our language used to belong to all its speakers and readers and writers. But in the 1970s and ’80s, arrogant ideologues began recasting English into heavy artillery to defend the borders of the New Feminist state. In consequence we have all got used to sentences where puffed-up words like “chairperson” and “humankind” strut and preen, where he-or-she’s keep bashing into surrounding phrases like bumper cars and related deformities blossom like blisters; they are all markers of an epoch-making victory of propaganda over common sense.

We have allowed ideologues to pocket a priceless property and walk away with it. Today, as college students and full-fledged young English teachers emerge from the feminist incubator in which they have spent their whole lives, this victory of brainless ideology is on the brink of becoming institutionalized. If we mean to put things right, we can’t wait much longer.

Our ability to write and read good, clear English connects us to one another and to our common past. The prime rule of writing is to keep it simple, concrete, concise. Shakespeare’s most perfect phrases are miraculously simple and terse. (“Thou art the thing itself.” “A plague o’ both your houses.” “Can one desire too much of a good thing?”) The young Jane Austen is praised by her descendants for having written “pure simple English.” Meanwhile, in everyday prose, a word with useless syllables or a sentence with useless words is a house fancied-up with fake dormers and chimneys. It is ugly and boring and cheap, and impossible to take seriously.

As I said, that was from early 2008. Flash-forward to six years of Hopenchange and the growing influence of the socialist justice warriors, as in this example, as spotted by Kathy Shaidle earlier this week, of a cri de coeur at Medium.com titled “Social Justice Bullies: The Authoritarianism of Millennial Social Justice,” written by someone who describes himself as possessing a “liberal heart,” and who “grew up in a liberal town, learned US history from a capital-S Socialist, and/or went to one of the most liberal universities in the country,” but, like Jonathan Chait of New York magazine, apparently thought he’d be devoured last by the revolution:

[M]illennials are grown up now — and they’re angry. As children, they were told that they could be anything, do anything, and that they were special. As adults, they have formed a unique brand of Identity Politics wherein the groups with which one identifies is paramount. With such a strong narrative that focuses on which group one belongs to, there has been an increasing balkanization of identities. In an attempt to be open-minded toward other groups and to address social justice issues through a lens of intersectionality, clear and distinct lines have been drawn between people. One’s words and actions are inextricable from one’s identities. For example: this is not an article, but an article written by a straight, white, middle-class (etc.) male (and for this reason will be discounted by many on account of how my privilege blinds me — more on this later).

* * * * * * * *

The Newspeak of the millennial social justice advocate is an intricately and powerfully designed mechanism that seeks to eradicate and socially criminalize dissent.

Let’s talk about racism. The mantra of the movement is thus: It is impossible to be racist against white people because racism is the equivalent of prejudice and power. Since white people have social and economic institutional power and privilege (in America), those who are racially oppressed cannot be racist toward whites since those who are racially oppressed do not have power.

Why can’t I simply rebut this with a trip to the dictionary? Because this is laughed at by social justice types. The image of a white person walking to the dictionary to define racism is literally a trope at this point because the millennial social justice advocate finds it so entertaining that a dictionary, constructed by those in power for those who speak the language of power, can possibly give an accurate definition of a word. [It's a link to a Website called DiversityInc (sic) titled, "Ask the White Guy: Is the Oxford Dictionary Definition of Racism Too White for You?" -- Ed]

Do you see where I’m going with this? It is now possible to absolve yourself of guilt by working enough academic nuance into a word to fundamentally change it — in your favor.

 

You’re never going to change the mind of someone this far gone; but there are ways to, as a wise president once said, “punch back twice as hard,” which we’ll explore right after the page break.

Green’s Bennett Backs Geo-Political Ghettoisation of Israel [Guido Fawkes]

BENNETT-BOYCOTT

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett has told the Jewish Chronicle that she backs the total boycott of Israeli artists, musicians and academics. The Green Party manifesto also calls for the suspension of the EU-Israel trade agreement. Twickenham candidate Tanya Williams recently told an anti-Israel rally: “Just because you observe the niceties of Holocaust Memorial Day it does not mean you have learned the lessons of history.” After the Respect Party the Greens take the most extreme anti-Israeli positions… 

Shahrar Ali, Bennett’s deputy as leader of the Green Party  was filmed delivering this crazily angry anti-Israel rant at a rally in London:

Surreal…


Tagged: Green Party, Green Totalitarianism

Friday Night Videos [VodkaPundit]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0U_E2ueuuQ/p>

I’ll never be able to retrace the virtual steps which led me to this live & acoustic version of Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell.” But that’s OK, because I bookmarked the heck out of it, if only for that epic guitar work.

“Sinister Testis,” Paul Sabourin, late 20th Century... [kevin w murphy]



“Sinister Testis,” Paul Sabourin, late 20th Century @paulandstorm

“Get off my lawn”, Roman, Julio Claudian Period, Mid... [kevin w murphy]



“Get off my lawn”, Roman, Julio Claudian Period, Mid first century A.D.

Spotted at the Met: Utili-kilt , AT-AT shirt. NEW YORK STYLE. [kevin w murphy]



Spotted at the Met: Utili-kilt , AT-AT shirt. NEW YORK STYLE.

Bookmobile Memories [LISNews:]

Topic: 

From The LA Times www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-0419-straight-bookmobile-20150419-story.html:

Bookmobiles have been a fixture of rural American life since the 19th century, when horse-drawn book wagons stenciled with gold lettering read Free Library. There were low-slung black panel trucks in the 1930s, side doors open to shelves, with children sitting on the wide fenders turning pages.

In the Riverside (CA) Public Library recently, I read the catalog from the Gerstenslager Co. in Wooster, Ohio, which built bookmobiles for the nation. Children and adults stood in line to ascend a few stairs and be inside a real library, albeit one with shelves set on a slight incline, so books wouldn't fall out when the coach was moving.

vs. UC-Clermont (@ Lorain County) [Lakeland Events]

DATE: Sun, 4/19/2015 | TIME: 12:00 PM | LOCATION: Elyria, Ohio

at Lorain County [Lakeland Events]

DATE: Sun, 4/19/2015 | TIME: 2:00 PM | LOCATION: Elyria, Ohio

Management Lecture Series, Stephanie Sheldon [Lakeland Events]

DATE: Tue, 4/21/2015 | TIME: 7:15 PM | LOCATION: Dr. Wayne L. Rodehorst Performing Arts Center

Campus Clean Up for Earth Week [Lakeland Events]

DATE: Wed, 4/22/2015 | TIME: 10:30 AM | LOCATION: Meet at the Clocktower

Book Discussion Group - Wednesday, April 22 @ noon [Lakeland Events]

DATE: Wed, 4/22/2015 | TIME: 12:00 PM | LOCATION: Library Workroom, C-2058

"Spirited Away" Screening [Lakeland Events]

DATE: Wed, 4/22/2015 | TIME: 12:15 PM | LOCATION: CLI - A2100

New! Study Skills & Tips [Lakeland Events]

DATE: Wed, 4/22/2015 | TIME: 2:00 PM | LOCATION: A-1044

…Isn’t this Daily Beast article on a Grand Canyon development project racist? [Moe Lane]

I do believe that by the Activist Left’s own rules it’s racist. “If a collective of big money investment interests have their way, the 5 million people who flock to the Grand Canyon’ breathtaking vistas every year will also soon be able to get in some shopping and catch a film on an IMAX theatre built right on top of the canyon’s rim.” The article goes on to patronizingly suggest that American Indians Native Americans First Peoples are incapable of deciding for themselves that there’s a lot of sense in separating Grand Canyon tourists from their money via various amenities.  Apparently the Left prefers indigenous peoples to stay in the quaint, (and awkwardly poor) rustic reservations that the paternalistic federal government placed them in.

:shaking head: …Man.  White people.

Moe Lane

PS: I don’t care one way or the other whether the Navajo build a shopping mega-mall complex near the Grand Canyon. I mean, hell, it’s their land and this is a free country. It’s just that I wish progressives would stop and think about the things that they’ve just said or written. It doesn’t even have to be every time.  Just ever so often.

Why I stopped reading Gary Hart’s piece on oligarchy. [Moe Lane]

Found here, via here.  Anyway, I was reading along, and came across this passage: “With its monumentally wrong-headed Citizens United decision…”  That was enough for me.  Oligarchical elements in our Republic are, indeed, rather strong: but it is instructive to note that they were not weaker under so-called ‘campaign finance reform.’ In fact, if you look at American politics since free speech was reaffirmed under Citizens United you will note that a good number of local political dynasties have been since defeated. 2014 in particular gives some prime examples; but ask the Carnahan family in Missouri how well they’re doing these days. Or the Reids in Nevada. I’m sure that there are other political families now on harder political times, these days.

I am not saying that life is all nice and egalitarian, now.  I am saying that it’s more egalitarian than it was. Such things typically happen when you make it easier for people to talk: there’s nothing an oligarch likes better than to be able to restrict what may and may not be freely said. And I have no real time at all for somebody who can’t tell the difference between what he thinks is going on, and what is actually going on.  There are only so many hours in the day, you know?

Moe Lane (crosspost)

PS: I should also note that Gary Hart probably has a bit of a personal grudge towards the Bush family – a grudge that would be all the more pronounced because it is largely not reciprocated. That’s how these things typically work. Usually to the chagrin of the person holding the grudge.

Light posting. [Moe Lane]

I either will be going to a SCA event, or I will be in bed with what turned out to be mild food poisoning.  …Yes.  I find this particular branch point on my daily decision tree to be rather exciting, myself.  A bit more than I’d like, frankly.

‘Immortals.’ [Moe Lane]

ImmortalsFall Out Boy

My children were utterly fascinated with Big Hero 6.  …Which, of course, was the plan.

More fallout in Boston from the slow-motion collapse of Big Wind. [Moe Lane]

Put not your faith in politically-subsidized energy projects:

The [Deval] Patrick [D, MA] administration’s $113 million New Bedford marine terminal, built as a Cape Wind construction staging area, has become a taxpayer-funded boondoggle now that the controversial offshore wind farm project is virtually dead in the water.

The South Coast Marine Commerce Terminal, which is still under construction and sits empty, is also running $10 million over budget and months behind schedule.

Baker administration officials are trying to lease out the terminal, but they now expect to fetch a lower return on the taxpayers’ investment after executives behind Cape Wind pulled out of a two-year deal to rent the 28-acre facility for $4.5 million.

Cape Wind, for those who are unaware, was a typical Big Green project designed to toss a bunch of wind turbines off of the coast of Massachusetts: it is dying now, partially because the turbines would have gotten in the way of rich people’s view of the water and partially because the industry apparently still can’t survive without government subsidies. Since it’s pretty clear that the GOP has no real interest in renewing past Congressional largess, there has been a lot of, ah, readjustments in just how smart an investment wind power actually is. Should be fascinating to see how this plays out.

In the meantime, of course, poor Governor Charlie Baker (R, MA) has to figure out how to fix Gov. Patrick’s mistake. Par for the course, these days: Democrats get to do the fiscal polluting, Republicans get to do the cleaning up. Ach, well, that’s what you have to when you’re the party that has all the grown-ups.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

Annnnd here’s the Justice League: Gods and Monsters trailer. [Moe Lane]

They’re going full alternate-universe on this one.  Looks cool.

Via Nodwick.

School Lunch Optical Illusion [The Jawa Report]

Believe it or not, both these images are of the same meal. But through manipulated lighting and a vast right-wing conspiracy, the image on the left makes the meal appear much less appealing than the actual Michelle Obama approved meal on the right.

obama-school-fish-lighting-both.png

The illusion illustrates how lighting and political spin can fool your mind into seeing things differently than they really are.


The Goodest [The Nerdist]

The guys got together for a hostful! Chris talks about his recent vacation to Utah, Matt talks about his wedding planning, and Jonah does an impression of President Obama. They also talk about the new Fast and Furious movie, Jonah’s excitement for Entourage, and debate what to call the episode!

This Is What An Entitled Mean Girl Looks Like And It Isn’t Pretty [UPDATED With Dissent By Patterico] [Patterico's Pontifications]

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: I’m going to exercise my prerogative as blog owner to insert an update at the head of this post. It’s actually a concurrence and a dissent, not just a dissent.

I am uncomfortable, and indeed angry, about what this business did, because they edited out the comments by the employee. Dana notes that at the end of the post, but I personally think it is far more significant than most apparently do, and I want to take a moment to explain why.

If these people are going to put out a video with only one side of the conversation, and edit out the comments of the employee, then I believe I am entitled to assume the absolute worst about what the employee said. So, until I hear different, I am going to assume that the employee hurled insults and profanities at the ESPN reporter. Am I wrong, towing company? Prove it. Until you do, I assume what I assume.

And given my assumption, the comments made by McHenry . . . still were not wise. But might be far more understandable than they seem in a video where all the context has been deliberately ripped out.

I’m just not comfortable joining in the online lynch mob based on an edited video like this. That said, I am happy to have a guest poster disagree, and I am happy to have all viewpoints aired. I just wanted to register my discomfort with the pile-on in a prominent way.

Again: if the towing company wants even the slightest bit of sympathy from me, they can present the entire video, or they can go to hell.

– PATTERICO

SECOND UPDATE BY PATTERICO: To be clear, I’m not accusing Dana of participating in an “online lynch mob” with this post. See the update by me below — the really long (and interesting!) one. — PATTERICO

[guest post by Dana]

Young, blonde and beautiful? You’ve got it made in our society – for a while, anyway. Power, confidence, and lots of attention. Who wouldn’t want that? Well, if young, blonde and beautiful is also demonstrably a mean-girl – arrogant, cruel and ill-mannered like ESPN reporter Britt McHenry, not me.

Having been warned that she was on camera and that a *video of her could be released, McHenry nonetheless chose to unleash a personal and caustic attack on a tow-truck company employee at Advanced Towing where McHenry was paying to have her towed car released:

Some of her comments to the woman working the counter:

The parking attendant can be heard in the video warning McHenry she is being filmed and threatens to ‘play your video’.

‘That’s why I have a degree and you don’t – I wouldn’t work in a scumbag place like this,’ McHenry responds.

‘Makes my skin crawl even being here.’

The parking attendant patiently replies: ‘Well lets get you out of here quickly.’

McHenry then fires back: ‘Yep, that’s all you care about – taking people’s money…with no education, no skill set. Just wanted to clarify that.’

“I’m in the news sweetheart, I will f—ing sue this place.”

“Do you feel good about your job? So I could be a college dropout and do the same thing?”

“I’m on television and you’re in a f—ing trailer, honey.”

“Maybe if I was missing some teeth, they would hire me, huh?”

“Lose some weight, baby girl.”

As someone who has had to pay to have a stolen car released from impound, I can understand McHenry’s frustration with the system. The painful fact of the matter is, if you want your impounded auto back, you have to pay. That being said, McHenry’s car was towed because of where she was parked, not because it was stolen. And while I may have resented having to pay for my car’s release, I certainly didn’t make it personal and blame the person behind the counter.

While the tow-truck company, along with the employee herself, have less-than-stellar reputations, it’s noteworthy that McHenry chose to go mean-girl in her attack when she went for the female jugular: physical looks. It may be the most powerful weapon in a beautiful woman’s arsenal. Young, blonde and beautiful, humiliated at finding herself having to pay for something I’m sure she felt was unfair, but adding insult to injury, also having to submit to someone so clearly beneath her. Unacceptable!

And it is this that makes McHenry not just an angry customer, but a seriously unattractive angry customer. If she was that frustrated and provoked by the experience of having to go to a seedy joint and pay for something she felt unfair, why not rant about the unethical behavior of the company and their bad business practices? Why make it personal and attack another woman’s looks? I think it’s because she is simply a mean girl. This is who she is. This personal attack did not happen in a vacuum, did not come out of nowhere. She knew exactly how to remind the employee – an employee who momentarily held power over young, blonde and beautiful – who had the real and lasting power. And who did not. She knew her cruelty would hit the mark and hurt the employee. And in that moment, she wanted to hurt the employee, not the business.

Untitled-3

Untitled-1(2)

Not surprisingly, McHenry herself appears to already have a reputation for being a rude snob.

McHenry later apologized but not directly to the recipient of her mean-spirited rant:

In an intense and stressful moment, I allowed my emotions to get the best of me and said some insulting and regrettable things. As frustrated as I was, I should always choose to be respectful and take the high road. I am so sorry for my actions and will learn from this mistake.

ESPN has suspended McHenry for one week.

(*The video, of course, does not reflect the entire conversation. We do not know what the employee may have said to further provoke McHenry, however, that does not change the personal attacks McHenry made.)

–Dana

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: Let me clarify a few things. First, I do not mean to accuse Dana of participating in an “online lynch mob.” I have re-read her post and, while I would not have written it the same way myself, one cannot accurately call this post “lynch mob” activity. To the extent that my update at the top might seem to suggest that, let me make it clear I did not intend that. However, I do think there are lynch-mobby aspects to the general reaction on the Internet to all of this, and I do think that it’s important to call for a little perspective on all of this.

First, let’s take a step back and look at what is going on. This morning I was listening to a fascinating podcast that Ace did with John Sexton on the concept of “Altruistic Punishment.” As Ace explained, they have done studies with young children where a young girl witnessed a monkey puppet stealing cookies from an elephant puppet. The girl shunned and otherwise punished the monkey puppet for stealing the cookie even though it wasn’t hers. Chimpanzees don’t react this way; they couldn’t care less whether the monkey puppet steals the elephant puppet’s cookie. That’s the elephant puppet’s problem.

So this sense that we need to band together and enforce social rules, even when we ourselves are not the target of the wrongdoing, is actually very important to human society. It has been shown that this is fundamental to human cooperation. You won’t follow the rules unless you know that everyone is subject to the rules. And so you enforce rules even when you aren’t being harmed.

But, as Ace points out, this can go overboard. Because it feels good to punish wrongdoers. We all know this. When we are righteously busting someone for dishonesty or crass behavior, we get a little frisson of self-righteousness that feels fantastic. This doesn’t make one a bad person. Every human feels this. On the podcast, Ace admits he feels it. “It’s like hunting a buffalo,” he says. When I was putting together posts detailing the sock-puppetry of supercilious people like Michael Hiltzik or Glenn Greenwald, I felt it. It’s natural.

And it can go overboard, leading to mob action. There was that Justene Sacco incident, which Ace discussed, in which Sacco wrote “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m White!” An online lynch mob formed, literally while she was on the plane, and people got whipped into a frenzy over her purported racisms. There was a specially created hashtag: #HasJustineLandedYet. She was actually met at the airport by an intrepid online shamer with a cellphone. She was fired. As it turned out, Sam Biddle, one of the leaders of the lynch mob, later interviewed her and learned that the tweet had been misintepreted. Context — the other side of the story; her side of the story — wasn’t necessary for the lynch mob to make its judgment. She was convicted before she landed. The fact that her tweet “was supposed to mimic—and mock—what an actual racist, ignorant person would say” was unknown and the possibility did not matter to people. Biddle’s later-expressed regret for his participation didn’t get Justene Sacco back her job.

Events like this have made me very reluctant to join in online mobs that form over alleged outrages — especially when I sense that there may be another side to the story. And I do think that such a mob has formed around this Britt McHenry story. Just look at Facebook or Twitter and you’ll find large groups of people saying a suspension is not enough; she needs to be fired; she’s a terrible person; etc. etc. etc.

Dana’s post is not like that. Dana’s post largely concentrates on the way women can sometimes act like “mean girls” in attacking others’ looks and other superficial things. These are all valid observations, and I think it’s clear that this is happening in the video. My update above is not meant to “defend” or “justify” or “excuse” the bratty behavior of a pretty TV girl attacking someone on superficial grounds.

That being said, my by-now innate reluctance to join online mobs leads me to be very circumspect about forming conclusions based on one side of the story. Again: this company deliberately edited out most of the commentary from the employee. This is not because the employee did not consent to having her voice on the video; it does appear at least twice, where she threatens to show the video, and where she says, in effect, let’s get you out of here quickly. The other comments she made — the ones which were edited out — were undoubtedly nasty and embarrassing to the employee. McHenry says the employee was being abusive, and based on the video being edited, I completely believe her. And that makes me angry.

And this is where I take issue with Dana in the post, because she characterizes McHenry’s comments as “cruel” and seems to accept the narrative being offered by the company. Dana says: “And while I may have resented having to pay for my car’s release, I certainly didn’t make it personal and blame the person behind the counter.” I could be misreading this, but I read this as implying that McHenry is simply upset about the situation and is taking it out on an innocent person behind the counter. Now, it’s possible that’s what happened. But I doubt it. Because if that’s all it was, they would have shown the whole video, unedited. And they didn’t.

Now, Dana does indeed acknowledge that the video has been edited, saying: “The video, of course, does not reflect the entire conversation. We do not know what the employee may have said to further provoke McHenry, however, that does not change the personal attacks McHenry made.” I’m glad Dana said that, and it shows that Dana is aware of the possibility that McHenry was provoked. I just think I assign more importance to that distinct possibility than is assigned by Dana, or frankly, by most people I see discussing this online. To me, it’s impossible to know how bad McHenry’s reaction is without the full context. Since the company has deliberately chosen to edit out the full context, I believe it is reasonable for me to conclude that their employee acted badly, and that the unedited video would be very embarrassing for them and would make McHenry’s remarks look (perhaps only slightly) less unreasonable.

TL;DR. I know. Mainly, I wanted to make clear that I do not accuse Dana of being involved in an online lynch mob. I know her too well to think that about her. But to the extent that one has formed outside this blog, I want to make it crystal clear that I am not joining in. Hence the update above.

Hookers for Hillary! [Patterico's Pontifications]

[guest post by Dana]

It’s been one pretty boring week in the Hillary for President campaign. Astro-turfing, entitled behavior and another History-of-Hillary revision (this time about her name) all added up to a fairly ho-hum Week One.

Until now!

Just in time to spice up Hillary’s lackluster campaign, the Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Nevada has announced the launch of Hookers for Hillary!

Untitled-1


“Hillary Clinton, as part of her husband’s administration, envisioned health care reform in the 1990’s, long before President Obama was able to sign it into law,” they write. “The Affordable Health Care Act made health insurance available for the first time ever to the 500 independent contractors employed by Dennis Hof. With any Republican nominee likely to work for its’ repeal, the Bunnies want to protect the quality health coverage that they now enjoy.”

“As Secretary Of State, Hillary Clinton gained invaluable experience negotiating with foreign leaders, and the Bunnies can definitely relate to negotiating through a language barrier,” they continued. “The Bunny Ranch entertains customers from all around the globe, and the girls have great respect for any woman who can take powerful men from oppressive cultures and make them bend to her will.”

And most amusingly, this:

“Bill Clinton presided over the most prosperous time in Bunny Ranch history, which coincided with a tax increase on the wealthiest Americans such as brothel owner Dennis Hof,” the Bunny Ranch writes. “The Bunnies recognize that thriving economies are built from the bottom up, where the vast majority of their clients originate. A return to relying on the disproven theory of trickle-down economics would only serve to exclude the vast majority of hard-working Bunny Ranch clients from having the discretionary income to enjoy with their favorite Bunny.

Oh, I just bet the Bunny Ranch was hopping with success when Bill was president!

No comment from Hillary’s camp on this latest group of “everyday” Americans supporting her bid for presidency. And definitely no comment from Bill, though we can be fairly certain he is most appreciative of these enthusiastic bunnies.

–Dana

Notifying authors about their reverse dependencies [Perlsphere]

This blog post outlines an idea for a service that informs people when their CPAN distributions gain reverse dependencies. Many authors are probably not even aware that their distributions have reverse dependencies, and what the implications of that can be. Sending them an email gives us a chance to congratulate and engage authors, but also to educate and encourage them in some new practices.

Recording DarkPAN dependencies on CPAN [Perlsphere]

This blog post outlines an idea for a service where people can register that they're using (i.e. dependent / reliant on) a CPAN distribution. This would provide additional information about which distributions underpin the Perl world, and if the registrants were contactable, it would help authors minimise breakages when making changes.

Grants Update - April 2015 [Perlsphere]

For the March round, we got no applications. The next round will be in May.

Grant updates:

Huh. Multiple beginning-of-line anchors work [Perlsphere]

Anchor

I've never had a reason to use multiple beginning-of-line anchors in a regex, so I wondered if it would work. I guess it does.

use v5.10;

my $string = <<'HERE';
This is line one
This is a cat
This is a dog
This is a lizard
This is a bird
That is a ostrich
HERE

my @matches = $string =~ m/
^This\ is\ a\ (\S+) \s+
^This\ is\ a\ (\S+)
/xmg;

say "Matches are @matches";

It works:

Matches are cat dog

Not that you'd ever want to do this. I was curious, I tried it, and now I know. That probably means I'm going to try to get it into production somehow.

Neil McGovern: Taking office [Planet Debian]

Yesterday, my first term started as the Debian Project Leader. There’s been a large number of emails congratulating me, and thanks to everyone who sent those. I’d also like to thank Mehdi Dogguy and Gergely Nagy for running, and of course Lucas Nussbaum for his service over the past two years.

Lucas also did a great handover, and so (I hope!) I’m aware of most of the issues that are ongoing. As started previously, I’ll keep my daily log of activities in /srv/leader/news/  on master.debian.org.

Russ Allbery: Review: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet [Planet Debian]

Review: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers

Publisher: CreateSpace
Copyright: 2014
ISBN: 1-5004-5330-7
Format: Kindle
Pages: 503

The Wayfarer is a tunneling ship: one of the small, unremarked construction ships that help build the wormhole network used for interstellar transport. It's a working ship with a crew of eight (although most people would count seven and not count the AI). They don't all like each other — particularly not the algaeist, who is remarkably unlikeable — but they're used to each other. It's not a bad life, although a more professional attention to paperwork and procedure might help them land higher-paying jobs.

That's where Rosemary Harper comes in. At the start of the book, she's joining the ship as their clerk: nervous, hopeful, uncertain, and not very experienced. But this is a way to get entirely away from her old life and, unbeknownst to the ship she's joining, her real name, identity, and anyone who would know her.

Given that introduction, I was expecting this book to be primarily about Rosemary. What is she fleeing? Why did she change her identity? How will that past come to haunt her and the crew that she joined? But that's just the first place that Chambers surprised me. This isn't that book at all. It's something much quieter, more human, more expansive, and more joyful.

For one, Chambers doesn't stick with Rosemary as a viewpoint character, either narratively or with the focus of the plot. The book may open with Rosemary and the captain, Ashby, as focal points, but that focus expands to include every member of the crew of the Wayfarer. We see each through others' eyes first, and then usually through their own, either in dialogue or directly. This is a true ensemble cast. Normally, for me, that's a drawback: large viewpoint casts tend to be either jarring or too sprawling, mixing people I want to read about with people I don't particularly care about. But Chambers avoids that almost entirely. I was occasionally a touch disappointed when the narrative focus shifted, but then I found myself engrossed in the backstory, hopes, and dreams of the next crew member, and the complex ways they interweave. Rosemary isn't the center of this story, but only because there's no single center.

It's very hard to capture in a review what makes this book so special. The closest that I can come is that I like these people. They're individual, quirky, human (even the aliens; this is from more the Star Trek tradition of alien worldbuilding), complicated, and interesting, and it's very easy to care about them. Even characters I never expected to like.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet does have a plot, but it's not a fast-moving or completely coherent one. The ship tends to wander, even when the mission that gives rise to the title turns up. And there are a lot of coincidences here, which may bother you if you're reading for plot. At multiple points, the ship ends up in exactly the right place to trigger some revelation about the backstory of one of the crew members, even if the coincidence strains credulity. Similar to the algae-driven fuel system, some things one just has to shrug about and move past.

On other fronts, though, I found The Long Way to be refreshingly willing to take a hard look at SF assumptions. This is not the typical space opera: humans are a relatively minor species in this galaxy, one that made rather a mess of their planet and are now refugees. They are treated with sympathy or pity; they're not somehow more flexible, adaptable, or interesting than the rest of the galaxy. More fascinatingly to me, humans are mostly pacifists, a cultural reaction to the dire path through history that brought them to their current exile. This is set against a backdrop of a vibrant variety of alien species, several of whom are present onboard the Wayfinder. The history and background of the other species are not, sadly, as well fleshed out as the humans, but each with at least a few twists that add interest to the story.

But the true magic of this book, the thing that it has in overwhelming abundance, is heart. Not everyone in this book is a good person, but most of them are trying. I've rarely read a book full of so much empathy and willingness to reach out to others with open hands. And, even better, they're all nice in different ways. They bring their own unique personalities and approaches to their relationships, particularly the complex web of relationships that connects the crew. When bad things happen, and, despite the overall light tone, a few very bad things happen, the crew rallies like friends, or like chosen family. I have to say it again: I like these people. Usually, that's not a good sign for a book, since wholly likeable people don't generate enough drama. But this is one of the better-executed "protagonist versus nature" plots I've read. It successfully casts the difficulties of making a living at a hard and lonely and political job as the "nature" that provides the conflict.

This is a rather unusual book. It's probably best classified as space opera, but it doesn't fit the normal pattern of space opera and it doesn't have enough drama. It's not a book about changing the universe; at the end of the book, the universe is in pretty much the same shape as we found it. It's not even about the character introduced in the first pages, or really that much about her dilemma. And it's certainly not a book about winning a cunning victory against your enemies.

What it is, rather, is a book about friendships, about chosen families and how they form, about being on someone else's side, about banding together while still being yourself. It's about people making a living in a hard universe, together. It's full of heart, and I loved it.

I'm unsurprised that The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet had to be self-published via a Kickstarter campaign to find its audience. I'm also unsurprised that, once it got out there, it proved very popular and has now been picked up by a regular publisher. It's that sort of book. I believe it's currently out of print, at least in the US, as its new publisher spins up that process, but it should be back in print by late 2015. When that happens, I recommend it to your attention. It was the most emotionally satisfying book I've read so far this year.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Steve Kemp: skx-www upgraded to jessie [Planet Debian]

Today I upgraded my main web-host to the Jessie release of Debian GNU/Linux.

I performed the upgraded by changing wheezy to jessie in the sources.list file, then ran:

apt-get update
apt-get dist-upgrade

For some reason this didn't upgrade my kernel, which remained the 3.2.x version. That failed to boot, due to some udev/systemd issues (lots of "waiting for job: udev /dev/vda", etc, etc). To fix this I logged into my KVM-host, chrooted into the disk image (which I mounted via the use of kpartx), and installed the 3.16.x kernel, before rebooting into that.

All my websites seemed to be OK, but I made some changes regardless. (This was mostly for "neatness", using Debian packages instead of gems, and installing the attic package rather than keeping the source-install I'd made to /opt/attic.)

The only surprise was the significant upgrade of the Net::DNS perl-module. Nothing that a few minutes work didn't fix.

Now that I've upgraded the SSL-issue I had with redirections is no longer present. So it was a worthwhile thing to do.

Jakub Steiner: The chore of tuning PIDs [Planet openSUSE]

Tuning PIDs is one of those things you really don’t want to do, but can’t avoid it in the acrobatic quad space. Flying camera operators don’t usually have to deal with this, but the power/weight ratio is so varied in the world of acro flying you’ll have hard time avoiding it there. Having a multirotor “locked in” for doing fast spins is a must. Milliseconds count.

FPV Weekend

So what is PID tuning? The flight controller’s job is to maintain a certain position of the craft. It has sensors to tell it how the craft is angled and how it’s accellerating, and there’s external forces acting on the quad. Gravity, wind. Then there’s a human giving it RC orders to change its state. All this happens in a PID loop. The FC either wants to maintain its position or is given an updated position. That’s the target. All the sensors give it the actual current state. Magic happens here, as the controller gives orders to individual ESCs to spin the motors so we get to there. Then we look at what the sensors say again. Rinse and repeat.

PID loop is actually a common process you can find in all sorts of computer controllers. Even something as simple as a thermostat does this. You have a temperature sensor and you drive a heater or an air conditioner to reach and maintain a target state.

The trick to a solid control is to apply just the right amount of action to get to our target state. If there is difference between where we are and where we want to be, we need to apply some force. If this difference is smaller, only a small force is required. If it’s big, a powerful force is needed. This is essentially what the P means, proprotional. In most cases, as a controller, you are truly unhappy if you are elsewhere to where you were told to be. You want to correct this difference fast, so you provide a high proportional value/force. However, in the case of a miniquad, the momentum will continue pulling you when you reached your target point and don’t apply any force anymore. At this point the difference occurs again and the controller will start correcting the craft pulling it back in the opposite direction. This results in an unstable state as the controller will be bouncing the quad back and forth, never reaching the target state of “not having to do anything”. The P is too big. So what you need is a value that’s high enough to correct the difference fast, but not as much so the momentum gets you oscillating around the target.

So if we found our P value, why do we need to bother with anything else? Well sadly pushing air around with props is a complicated way to remain stationary. The difference between where you are and where you want to be isn’t just determined by the aircraft itself. There are external forces that are in play and those change. We can get a gust of wind. So what we do is we correct that P value based on the changed conditions. Suddenly we don’t have a fixed P contoller, we have one that has variable P. Let’s move on how P is dynamically corrected.

The integral part of the controller corrects the difference that suddenly appears due to the new external forces coming into play. I would probably do a better job explaining this if I enjoyed maths, but don’t hate me, I’m a graphics designer. Magic maths corrects this offset. Having just the proprotional and integral part of the corrective measure is enough to form a capable controller perfectly able to provide a stable system.

However for something as dynamic as an acrobatic flight controller, you want to improve on the final stage of the correction where you are close to reaching your target after a fast dramatic correction. Typically what a PI controller would get you is a bit of a wobble at the end. To correct it, we have the derivative part of the correction. It’s a sort of a predictive measure to lower the P as you’re getting close to the target state. D gives you the nice smooth “locked in” feeling, despite having high P and I values, giving you really fast corrective ability.

There are three major control motions of a quad that the FC needs to worry about. Pitch for forward motion is controlled by spinning the back motors faster than the front two motors thus angling the quad forward. Roll motion is achieved exactly the same way, but with the two motors on one side spinning faster than the other two. The last motion is spinning in the Z axis, the yaw. That is achieved by torgue and the fact than the propellers and motors spin in different directions. Typically the front left and back right motor are clockwise spinning and the front right and back left motor are spinning counter clockwise. Thus spinning up/accellerating the front left and back right motors will turn the whole craft counter clockwise (counter motion).

I prepared a little cheat sheet on how to go about tuning PIDs on the NAZE32 board. Before you start though, make sure you set the PID looptime as low as your ESC allow. Usually ESC send the pulses 400 times a second which is equivalent to a looptime of 2500. The more expensive ESC can do 600Hz and some, such as the miniscule KISS ESCs, can go as low as 1200.

ESC refresh rate NAZE32 Looptime
286Hz 3500
333Hz 3000
400Hz 2500
500Hz 2000
600Hz 1600

You do this in the CLI tab of baseflight:

set looptime=2500
save

Hope this has been helpful for some as it was for me :).

Quick Guide on PID tuning

Jakub Steiner: Minis and FPV [Planet openSUSE]

FPV

I’ve got some time into the hobby to actually share some experiences that could perhaps help someone who is just starting.

Cheap parts

I like cheap parts just like the next guy, but in the case of electronics, avoid it. Frame is one thing. Get the ZMR250. Yes it won’t be near as tough as the original Blackout, but it will do the job just fine for a few crashes. Rebuilding aside, you can get about 4 for the price of the original. Then the plates give. But electronics is a whole new category. If you buy cheap ESCs they will work fine. Until they smoke mid flight. They will claim to deal with 4S voltage fine. Until you actually attach a 4S and blue smoke makes its appearance. Or you get a random motor/ESC sync issue. And for FPV, when a component dies mid flight, it’s the end of the story if it’s the drive (motor/esc) or the VTX or a board cam.

No need to go straight to T-motor, which usually means paying twice as much of a comparable competitor. But avoid the really cheap sub $10 motors like RCX, RCTimer (although they make some decent bigger motors), generic chinese ebay stuff. In case of motors, paying $20 for a motor means it’s going to be balanced and the pain of vibration aleviated. Vibrations for minis don’t just ruin the footage due to rolling shutter. They actually mess up the IMU in the FC considerably. I like Sunnysky x2204s 2300kv for a 3S setup and the Cobra 2204 1960kv for a 4S. Also rather cheap DYS 1806 seem really well balanced.

Embrace the rate

Rate mode is giving up the auto-leveling of the flight controller and doing it yourself. I can’t imagine flying line of sight (LOS) on rate, but for first person view (FPV) there is no other way. NAZE32 has a cool mode called HORI that allows you to do flips and rolls really easily as it will rebalance it for you, but flying HORI will never get you the floaty smoothness that makes you feel like a bird. The footage will always have this jerky quality to it. On rate a tiny little 220 quad will feel like a 2 meter glider, but will fit inbetween those trees. I was flying hori when doing park proximity, but it was a time wasted. Go rate straight from the ground, you will have way more fun.

Receiver woes

For the flying camera kites, it’s usually fine to keep stuff dangling. Not for minis. Anything that could, will get chopped off by the mighty blades. These things are spinning so fast than antennas have no chance and if your VTX gets loose, it will get seriously messed up as well. You would not believe what a piece of plastic can do when it’s spinning 26 thousand times a minute. On the other hand you can’t bury your receiver antenna on the frame. Carbon fibre is super strong, but also super RF insulating. So you have to bring it outside as much as possible. Those two don’t quite go together, but the best practice I found was taping one of the antennas to the bottom of the craft and have the other stick out sideways on top. The cheapest and best way I found was using a zip tie to hold the angle and heatshrink the antenna onto it. Looks decent and holds way better than a straw os somesuch.

Next time we’ll dive into PID tuning, the most annoying part of the hobby (apart from looking for a crashed bird ;).

“‘Islamic Intelligence State’ — a caliphate run by an organization that resembled East Germany’s notorious Stasi domestic intelligence agency.” [Darleen Click] [protein wisdom]

An important article via geoffb. Some excerpts

[W]when the architect of the Islamic State died, he left something behind that he had intended to keep strictly confidential: the blueprint for this state. It is a folder full of handwritten organizational charts, lists and schedules, which describe how a country can be gradually subjugated. SPIEGEL has gained exclusive access to the 31 pages, some consisting of several pages pasted together. They reveal a multilayered composition and directives for action, some already tested and others newly devised for the anarchical situation in Syria’s rebel-held territories. In a sense, the documents are the source code of the most successful terrorist army in recent history.

Until now, much of the information about IS has come from fighters who had defected and data sets from the IS internal administration seized in Baghdad. But none of this offered an explanation for the group’s meteoric rise to prominence, before air strikes in the late summer of 2014 put a stop to its triumphal march.

For the first time, the Haji Bakr documents now make it possible to reach conclusions on how the IS leadership is organized and what role former officials in the government of ex-dictator Saddam Hussein play in it. Above all, however, they show how the takeover in northern Syria was planned, making the group’s later advances into Iraq possible in the first place. In addition, months of research undertaken by SPIEGEL in Syria, as well as other newly discovered records, exclusive to SPIEGEL, show that Haji Bakr’s instructions were carried out meticulously. […]

It was there that the “Lord of the Shadows,” as some called him, sketched out the structure of the Islamic State, all the way down to the local level, compiled lists relating to the gradual infiltration of villages and determined who would oversee whom. Using a ballpoint pen, he drew the chains of command in the security apparatus on stationery. Though presumably a coincidence, the stationery was from the Syrian Defense Ministry and bore the letterhead of the department in charge of accommodations and furniture.

What Bakr put on paper, page by page, with carefully outlined boxes for individual responsibilities, was nothing less than a blueprint for a takeover. It was not a manifesto of faith, but a technically precise plan for an “Islamic Intelligence State” — a caliphate run by an organization that resembled East Germany’s notorious Stasi domestic intelligence agency.

The plan would always begin with the same detail: The group recruited followers under the pretense of opening a Dawah office, an Islamic missionary center. Of those who came to listen to lectures and attend courses on Islamic life, one or two men were selected and instructed to spy on their village and obtain a wide range of information. To that end, Haji Bakr compiled lists such as the following:

    *List the powerful families.
    *Name the powerful individuals in these families.
    *Find out their sources of income.
    *Name names and the sizes of (rebel) brigades in the village.
    *Find out the names of their leaders, who controls the brigades and their political orientation.
    *Find out their illegal activities (according to Sharia law), which could be used to blackmail them if necessary.

The spies were told to note such details as whether someone was a criminal or a homosexual, or was involved in a secret affair, so as to have ammunition for blackmailing later. “We will appoint the smartest ones as Sharia sheiks,” Bakr had noted. “We will train them for a while and then dispatch them.” As a postscript, he had added that several “brothers” would be selected in each town to marry the daughters of the most influential families, in order to “ensure penetration of these families without their knowledge.” […]

IS wanted to know everything, but at the same time, the group wanted to deceive everyone about its true aims. One multiple-page report, for example, carefully lists all of the pretexts IS could use to justify the seizure of the largest flour mill in northern Syria. It includes such excuses as alleged embezzlement as well as the ungodly behavior of the mill’s workers. The reality — that all strategically important facilities like industrial bakeries, grain silos and generators were to be seized and their equipment sent to the caliphate’s unofficial capital Raqqa — was to be kept under wraps. […]

Within IS, there are state structures, bureaucracy and authorities. But there is also a parallel command structure: elite units next to normal troops; additional commanders alongside nominal military head Omar al-Shishani; power brokers who transfer or demote provincial and town emirs or even make them disappear at will. Furthermore, decisions are not, as a rule, made in Shura Councils, nominally the highest decision-making body. Instead, they are being made by the “people who loosen and bind” (ahl al-hall wa-l-aqd), a clandestine circle whose name is taken from the Islam of medieval times.

Islamic State is able to recognize all manner of internal revolts and stifle them. At the same time, the hermitic surveillance structure is also useful for the financial exploitation of its subjects.

The air strikes flown by the US-led coalition may have destroyed the oil wells and refineries. But nobody is preventing the Caliphate’s financial authorities from wringing money out of the millions of people who live in the regions under IS control — in the form of new taxes and fees, or simply by confiscating property. IS, after all, knows everything from its spies and from the data it plundered from banks, land-registry offices and money-changing offices. It knows who owns which homes and which fields; it knows who owns many sheep or has lots of money. The subjects may be unhappy, but there is minimal room for them to organize, arm themselves and rebel.

Putin to Demark: “Nice warships you got there, a shame should anything happen …” [Darleen Click] [protein wisdom]

to them.”

Russia has threatened to target Denmark’s warships with nuclear weapons if the Scandinavian nation becomes a member of Nato’s missile defence shield.

In comments which have been met with anger in Copenhagen, the Russian ambassador to Denmark said a move towards better integration with the Western alliance would make it a “threat to Russia”, and that it would have to accept the consequences.

Mikhail Vanin told the told Jyllands-Posten newspaper: “I do not think that the Danes fully understand the consequences if Denmark joins the US-led missile defence shield. If that happens, Danish warships become targets for Russian nuclear missiles.”

Heck of a job, Barry!

Breast milk may alter behaviour of babies [CBC | Technology News]

Mothers may influence the mood and behaviour of their behaviour through their breast milk, researchers say.

Salty water on Mars? Curiosity rover finds signs of brine [CBC | Technology News]

The Curiosity rover on Mars has found signs of brine — super salty water. "It's only a very small amount, and only during the planet's spring and winter months," CBC's Johanna Wagstaffe says of a new study's findings, which were recorded at the planet's Gale Crater.

Grey whale breaks migration record - and may have revealed bad news [CBC | Technology News]

Gray Whale

A female grey whale from Russia crossed the Pacific, swam to Mexico and back in a record-breaking migration - revealing some disconcerting news along the way.

Tecsun PL-380: Murray’s new travel radio [The SWLing Post]

Tecsun PL-380 in the Morocco desert.

SWLing Post reader, Murray, recently took the Tecsun PL-380 with him on a trip to view the solar eclipse and then to Morocco for an extended excursion. He writes:

We flew out of Billund Denmark for the [solar] eclipse flight. A couple of days after the eclipse we flew to Cassablanca Morocco, where we were to join our 2 week excursion.

Here is a shot of the radio [above] at our camp in the dunes south of Erfoud in south central Morocco. In total we spent 2 1/2 weeks in Morocco and the desert was the nicest Radio quiet location I have been in. No interference what so ever! And lots of stations. It was great. The battery consumption of the PL-380 was very good. Nice unit.

Many thanks for sharing your thoughts on the PL-380, Murray! It must have been bliss listening to the shortwaves in such an RFI-free area.

Like you, I think the PL-380 is a brilliant travel radio and one I often recommend (click here for my travel radio review). I also travel with the Tecsun PL-310ET and the new CCrane CC Skywave--all great compact portables.

Unlocking the trapped FM receiver in your smart phone [The SWLing Post]

RadioDialWhile Norway prepares to shut down FM, one group–the National Association of Broadcasters–is trying to unlock FM receivers in smart phones; receivers built into smart phones, but not allowed to be activated.

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Benn, for sharing this report from NPR’s All Tech Considered:

In this club, there are no rules. Watch this fan exclusive and... [The Flash]



In this club, there are no rules. Watch this fan exclusive and get ready for the final episodes of The Flash and Arrow beginning tonight and tomorrow at 8/7c!

Despite Gratuity, ‘Game of Thrones’ Still Moralizes Sex [The Federalist]

George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, alongside HBO’s television version “Game of Thrones” that returned for season five April 12, stands out as being one of the few fantasy series aimed squarely at an adult demographic. The violence and sex alone guarantee that. Some have gone so far as to say the show is inherently immoral, and strikes out on the transcendental virtues—the good, true, and beautiful.

Yet despite the numerous shades of moral gray and sexual gratuity, the show also stands out for being able to unite fans squarely behind certain characters, and squarely against others. And how those fans align tells us something about the inherent sense of right and wrong even our post-sexual revolution culture attaches to sex.

The main sympathetic characters of “Game of Thrones” could be seen as pillars of old-school, Victorian-style virtue. Unlike the good guys in popular shows like “Justified,” the Stark family illustrates conservative family values.

The Starks’ Conservative Family Values

For example, the head of the family, Ned Stark, acknowledges his bastard son, treating him as his own. While this causes tension with his wife, who understandably resents the constant reminder of Ned’s unfaithfulness, Ned neither dismisses nor glorifies his past failings. Ned both loves and protects Jon Snow, treating him as one of the family.

Jon Snow explains that he won’t sleep with anyone, because he does not want to bring any more bastards into the world.

Jon Snow learns the lessons his father teaches, resolving to hold himself to a higher standard of honor. In the both the books and the show, he explains that he won’t sleep with anyone, because he does not want to bring any more bastards into the world. When he does end up in a sexual relationship with a girl, it is because he must maintain an undercover identity. And both the books and the show still portray him as guilty about it, every single time.

Robb Stark, Ned’s eldest son, responds to the world with a similar moral compass. In the books, Robb suffers wounds on the battlefield and the daughter of a minor nobleman nurses him back to health. One thing apparently leads to another, and he sleeps with her. Because of this, he insists on breaking his agreement with Lord Frey, who had given his aid with the expectation that Robb would marry one of his daughters.

Robb values the honor of the girl he slept with more than his own respectability, or the utility of keeping Frey happy. He could have pretended it hadn’t happened and gone on with his war. He didn’t. In the television series, Robb has an affair and falls in love with a character original to the show, despite his promised marriage arrangements. While not as noble as the book’s character, HBO’s Robb still only sleeps with the woman he marries.

‘Game of Thrones’ Antagonists Manipulate Others with Sex

This is in (stark?) contrast to Theon Greyjoy, a boy fostered with the Starks. Theon is probably one of those most treacherous characters of the story. The television show displays pronounced differences between Theon and Ned’s sons from the outset. One of the first scenes with just Jon, Robb, and Theon involves Theon throwing out sexual banter that Jon and Robb completely ignore. Theon frequently visits prostitutes, and when he is journeying back to his homeland by ship, he takes the captain’s daughter to sexually entertain him throughout the voyage, fully planning on never seeing her again despite her plea that he might keep her as a mistress.

Lord Tywin, too, is found with a prostitute in his bed, which causes his death.

Greyjoy’s actions resemble what we see in the series’ antagonist family, the Lannisters. Jamie and Cersei Lannister, twins, have been involved in an incestuous, adulterous relationship for years. While Jamie is completely faithful to his lover, he’s apparently not bothered that she commits adultery every time she is with him…until it becomes obvious that she is no more faithful to him than she is to her husband.

Cersei, on the other hand, is happy to use sex for either political gain or simply for her own irresponsible pleasures. (There is no political gain in sleeping with her younger cousin, Lancel). Cersei’s son Joffrey, while not as fond of his family members, proves himself perhaps even more sadistic in his preference for violence and sex. And Cersei indulges him in this, saying to his face that if he wants noble virgins or prostitutes, that’s fine, since he’ll be king, and just needs an heir.

It is unthinkable that Ned Stark or his wife would ever have that conversation with any of their children. Even Lord Tywin, the outwardly austere head of the family, has a weakness for the pleasures of the flesh. He, too, is found with a prostitute in his bed, which causes his death.

Chastity Is Still Associated with Nobility

Which brings us to Tyrion, who is as much of a contrast to the rest of his family as Theon is to the Starks. As a teenager, Tyrion follows up his first sexual encounter by marrying the girl, although it ends up being a very short-lived marriage, thanks to his father. True, the television show introduces Tyrion as a lecherous man. But as Tyrion grows more distanced from his decadent family, he becomes more and more honorable in his sexual dealings. When forced to marry Sansa Stark against both their wills, he refuses to force her to consummate the marriage.

The notable contrast between the sexual dealings of the good guys and bad guys tells us a lot about our own culture and sex. It shows that, despite the sexual revolution, we can’t help but intrinsically associate chastity and nobility. Those who have casual or manipulative sex fall firmly into the black hat camp, and redemption accompanies a move back toward traditional sexual virtue.

This isn’t because George R.R. Martin is a closet conservative. Rather, the book and show demonstrate a deeper moral fiber, one that acknowledges the intrinsic human worth in every person, no matter his or her station, and sees a value in honesty and keeping one’s vows. “Game of Thrones” shows that audiences cannot help but have some respect for the sexual act as an important, potent thing, rather than something unremarkable and cheap. Despite how frequently “Game of Thrones” portrays sex, it cannot fail to demonstrate its moral significance for a character’s integrity.

Rick Perry Expertly Handles Hostile Audience Question About Corporate Donors… [Weasel Zippers]

She has no qualms with the Clinton Foundation. HT: digitas daily

Calling Her Hillary? Yeah, That’s Sexist Now Too… [Weasel Zippers]

Cause why not? Via NY Post: Now that Hillary is officially in the running, prepare to start hearing the s-word. Don’t like her politics? Sexist! Disagree with her positions? Sexist! Still have issues with Benghazi? Sexist! The s-bomb will be dropping left and right over the next 18 months during an election season that’s bound […]

Civil Forfeiture Causes Veteran To Lose Over $60,000 To Police, Despite Lack Of Criminal Charges… [Weasel Zippers]

Back door tax for local jurisdictions. Lorette Lynch the AG nominee supports civil forfeiture. Via Forbes Mark Brewer is a decorated Air Force veteran who fought in the global war on terror. But last month, he became a casualty in the drug war. I n late March, the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled […]

Taliban Condemns ISIS For Deadly Bombing In Afghanistan [Weasel Zippers]

How dare ISIS horn in on their territory? FAIZABAD, Afghanistan — A motorcycle-riding suicide bomber attacked a bank branch Saturday in eastern Afghanistan, killing at least 35 people in a deadly attack the country’s president said was claimed by the Islamic State group. The attack marks a major escalation in the country’s fight against an […]

18 Shot In Chicago Since Friday Morning … [Weasel Zippers]

16 of those shot are taking advantage of Obamacare. Via Chicago Tribune At least 18 people have been shot, two fatally, in shootings across the city’s Northwest, West and South sides since Friday morning. One man was killed and another wounded in a shooting in Humboldt Park late Friday, one of three separate shootings in […]

Daughter of Ugandan Pastor Gang-Raped by 5 Muslim Men After Father Refused to Close Down Church [Weasel Zippers]

Via Christian Post: Daughter of Pastor Gang-Raped by Muslim Men in Uganda: ‘Your Father Should Close the Church’ A 17-year-old daughter of a Ugandan Christian pastor was allegedly gang-raped by five Muslim men after her father ignored the men’s threats warning him to stop having worship services at his church located in the Muslim-majority Budaka […]

Univision Owner: 2016 Presidential Race Over, Hillary Clinton Is The Winner… [Weasel Zippers]

Hillary will save Israel. Via Washington Examiner Haim Saban, the billionaire media mogul who owns the Spanish-language U.S. TV channel Univision, is apparently convinced that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is a shoo-in to the White House. In a recent interview, Saban said it’s not a matter of if Clinton wins, it’s a matter of […]

Here’s What Obama’s Planning For Earth Day [Weasel Zippers]

Via Twitchy: Obama says 'no greater threat to planet than climate change' http://t.co/pS9Gwerg3G pic.twitter.com/RZcAnoWVko — FRANCE 24 (@FRANCE24) April 18, 2015 And golf? On greens irrigated w precious water in "conservation area" @thehill Obama to mark Earth Day w climate change speech at Everglades — Tampa (@S1CT) April 18, 2015 Keep reading…

GITMO Prisoner That Met Osama Bin Laden To Be Released… [Weasel Zippers]

He has been reformed into a moderate. Via Miami Herald A federal parole board has cleared another Guantánamo “forever prisoner” — a 37-year-old Yemeni who the U.S. profiled as having met Osama bin Laden — for release from the detention center in southeast Cuba. “I am against violence. I don’t have the least intention to […]

Even The Dead Don’t Want To Vote For Hillary Clinton [Weasel Zippers]

Via Twitchy: Look! Real obit from Concord, NC, paper Independent Tribune. The deceased is not a @HillaryClinton fan. pic.twitter.com/0DVoT8YBEg — David Whisenant WBTV (@DavidWhisenant) April 18, 2015 @HillaryClinton Go away…no one likes you — Kyle (@Sharks244815) April 18, 2015 Keep reading…

Arab TV Commentators: Obama Supports Iran Because His Father Was a Shiite… [Weasel Zippers]

Obama getting back to his roots. Via CNS News Commentators on two different Arabic television programs claimed that President Barack Obama is pushing a nuclear deal with Iran because his father, Barack Obama Sr., was a Shiite Muslim, and President Obama apparently wants the Shia-run government of Iran to be victorious in the region. The […]

NLRB May Gut Right To Work Laws [Weasel Zippers]

Obama stacked the board so it could do his dirty work. What do laws that the people’s representatives voted for mean anyway? Via Freebeacon: The federal government’s top labor arbiter may use its regulatory power to force non-union employees in right to work states pay union dues. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) put out […]

Australia Arrests 5 For ISIS-Inspired Terror Plot Scheduled For ANZAC Day… [Weasel Zippers]

Via Yahoo News Five Australian teenagers were arrested Saturday on suspicion of plotting an Islamic State group-inspired terrorist attack at a Veterans’ Day ceremony that included targeting police officers, officials said. The suspects included two 18-year-olds who are alleged to have been preparing an attack at the ANZAC Day ceremony in Melbourne later this month, […]

New VA Scandals Call Into Question Agency’s Ability To Clean House [Weasel Zippers]

Via Fox News: Nearly a year after a scandal rocked the Department of Veterans Affairs, revealing that the agency’s centers nationwide were manipulating records to hide dangerously long patient wait times, the bad news just keeps on coming — calling into question the agency’s promise to clean house. Ignored claims, manipulated records, cost overruns and […]

Liz Warren To Take Center Stage At California Democratic Party Gathering… [Weasel Zippers]

In the interim Hillary is still trying to connect with everyday Americans. Via LA Times Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a populist who some liberals hope will seek the White House in 2016 — despite her many denials — will keynote the California Democratic Party convention in May, the party announced Thursday. Former Rep. Barney Frank […]

Here Are The Paranoid Creepy Rules Hillary Set For The Everyday People To Meet With Her [Weasel Zippers]

Via The Right Scoop: Now the rules have come out for being an “every day American” that got to meet Hillary on the campaign: “I get there, and the first thing he said was, ‘I need you to sign this release.’ And I said, ‘Why? Who’s going to be here?’” Yowell explained. ” The people […]

Obama To Sell Gulf Cooperation Council Leaders On Iran Deal At Camp David… [Weasel Zippers]

The skeet range is closed for repairs. Via Reuters President Barack Obama will meet with leaders from Gulf Cooperation Council countries at the White House on May 13 and at the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland the following day, the White House said on Friday. The summit, to include leaders from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, […]

Thieves Steal Deadly Radioactive Material In Mexico, Five States On Alert [Weasel Zippers]

Via RT: Authorities have issued emergency warnings to five Mexican states after it was reported that thieves had stolen potentially deadly radioactive material, the latest such heist to strike the Latin American country. The interior ministry issued an alert in the states of Tabasco, Campeche, Chiapas, Oaxaca and Veracruz that a container holding iridium-192 – […]

Union Complains Of Intimidation In Right To Work State, Postpones Election At Boeing SC Plant… [Weasel Zippers]

The South doesn’t cotton to blue State Unions. Via Reuters The union trying to organize Boeing Co’s South Carolina plant withdrew its petition for an April 22 election, citing “a toxic environment and gross violations of workers’ lawful organizing rights.” The decision, which delays the date for an election by at least six months, was […]

Armada Of Iranian Ships Sailing Towards Yemen [Weasel Zippers]

We are building toward something very bad. Via The Hill: U.S. military officials are concerned that Iran’s support for Houthi rebels in Yemen could spark a confrontation with Saudi Arabia and plunge the region into sectarian war. Iran is sending an armada of seven to nine ships — some with weapons — toward Yemen in […]

archiemcphee: Anthropomorphism + Wordplay = AwesomeWe’ve... [WIL WHEATON dot TUMBLR]





















archiemcphee:

Anthropomorphism + Wordplay = Awesome

We’ve already got a soft spot for anthropomorphic food so we love these playful minimal ink and acrylic illustrations created by Cape Town, South Africa-based illustrator and designer Jaco Haasbroek. From a bellicose birthday cake to what may be the world’s official all-purpose seal of approval, the series depicts adorably personified Food, Objects and Animals either speaking or captioned by painfully cute puns and other sorts of wordplay.

Click here to view the entire series.

To check out more of his work visit Jaco Haasbroek’s website, Flickr page, Instagram feed or follow him right here on Tumblr at haasbroek.

[via Free York]

Why do some people have such a problem with the idea that everyone should be treated equally? [WIL WHEATON dot TUMBLR]

Because some people have the intellectual and emotional maturity of spoiled, entitled, 10 year-olds.

I've always been a marvel fan boy, but I'm looking to expand my taste what would you suggest for me to check out? [WIL WHEATON dot TUMBLR]

Some non-cape titles that I am crazy about include:

Bitch Planet

The Fade Out

Locke & Key

Casanova

Amateur Radio Newsline Report 1961 April 17 2015 [Amateur Radio Newsline Podcast]

  • IARU Monitoring Service identifies new intruders into the ham radio bands
  • Geomagnetic storm sparks auroras over Canada and the United States
  • Australia may soon take ham radio into space
  • Unlicensed broadcaster in Kentucky hit with a $15,000 fine
  • What causes the worst interference to ham radio

THIS WEEK'S NEWSCAST
Script
Audio  

Special Event Stations Mark World Amateur Radio Day, April 18 [American Radio Relay League | Ham Radio Association and Resources]

Today, Saturday, April 18, is World Amateur Radio Day (WARD). The event celebrates the founding of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) on April 18, 1925, in Paris, with ARRL Co-Founder Hiram Percy Maxim, 1AW, as its first president.

From the 25 countries that formed the IARU in 1925, the IARU has grown to include 160 member-societies in three regions.

Radio amateurs worldwide are taking ...

FCC Proposes to Make Past Amateur Radio Address Information Private [American Radio Relay League | Ham Radio Association and Resources]

[UPDATED 2015-04-17 1400 UTC] The FCC is seeking comments on a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) in WT Docket 15-81 that would restrict routine public inspection of an Amateur Radio licensee’s address history. The Commission said it was taking the action in an effort to enhance the privacy of individual licensees. The change would not affect public access to a licensee’s current address inf...

Woman Rescues American Flag – Gets Cuffed and Detained [Blazing Cat Fur]

“This is what was going on at Valdosta University (Valdosta, Georgia) for 3 days…The campus refused to do anything about it … So we decided to get the flag and give it the respect it deserved…We just wanted to remove it and dispose of it properly…The American flag represents our Freedom why would you want to walk on that??? Please repost as much as possible make this go viral people need to see the truth…I wonder Donors of VSU are ok with this blatant disrespect of the flag.”

Union bosses are lovin’ $15-an hour fast-food protests [Blazing Cat Fur]

Demonstrators hold signs during demonstrations asking for higher wages in the Manhattan borough of New York

Demonstrators hold signs during demonstrations asking for higher wages in Manhattan, April 15, 2015. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Labor bosses collect some super-sized paychecks, and they’re in no mood to order off the dollar menu.

Officials with six-figure salaries led “Fight for $15″ strikes across the country Wednesday. They want fast-food workers to unionize, so they can keep filling up while union membership rates in other industries run dry.

Service Employees International Union president Mary Kay Henry, who was paid $276,439 in worker dues in 2014, joined union activists at a McDonald’s protest in San Francisco…

h/t Marvin

Savage: ‘Police brutality in reverse’ [Blazing Cat Fur]

michael-savage

“I want to talk about police brutality in reverse,” Michael Savage said on his show this week.

“Yesterday in New York City, a group of communist vermin rioted on the Brooklyn Bridge. They attacked the police.”

Australia: Flatmate creep spied on woman with wrist watch camera claims he was in love [Blazing Cat Fur]

unnamed

A grub who covertly filmed his housemate undressing because he was in love with her has walked from court.

Mian Shahzad planted a wrist watch containing a spycam in the bathroom to capture the woman naked but later admitted he should’ve just asked her on a date.

The Pakistani migrant, who has since lost his job as a Department of Immigration security guard, was handed a one-month suspended jail sentence after pleading guilty to the “nefarious” act.

Defence lawyer Michael Kuzilny told Melbourne Magistrates’ Court Shahzad, 31, hid the camera because wanted to watch his flatmate having a shower…

Muslims Conduct Interfaith Dialogue Gang Rape Of Pastor’s Daughter Over Failure To Shutter Church [Blazing Cat Fur]

ugandan church

A 17-year-old daughter of a Ugandan Christian pastor was allegedly gang-raped by five Muslim men after her father ignored the men’s threats warning him to stop having worship services at his church located in the Muslim-majority Budaka district.

Morning Star News reports that an unnamed pastor, who preaches at the New Hope Church in the Kaderuna sub-county of the district, received a number of threatening messages and text messages telling him to disband his church in the area because it was responsible for helping lead locals to convert from Islam to Christianity.

Hoaxer Fools Wannabe Home-Grown Jihadis Into Revealing Their Lust For Violence Against Aussie Targets [Blazing Cat Fur]

australia

An internet impostor has fooled dozens of followers of radical hate preacher Junaid Thorne into revealing their thirst for violence against Australian-based targets including newspaper cartoonists, Jewish groups and other innocent civilians.

Security agencies are now reviewing material gathered by the anonymous impostor who set up a fake Twitter account pretending to be Thorne this month.

Australia: Get a degree in warming propaganda and denial [Blazing Cat Fur]

Astonishing and shocking. The University of Queensland now offers a course to teach students not to doubt.

In fact, it teaches students how to attack any sceptics – including leading climate scientists – who point out flaws in the theory than man is heating the world dangerously…

h/t Marvin

HuffPo: Quebec Must Address its Growing Climate of Islamophobia [Blazing Cat Fur]

Quebec-islam-drapeau

Muslim Quebecers have become victims of an increasingly dangerous Islamophobic environment. Recently, Quebec has witnessed very alarming anti-Muslim and anti-Islam rhetoric that has led to moral onslaught against citizens of Muslim faith. Such toxic atmosphere has been reflected in incidents of violence against Muslim Quebecers youth, women, men, community centers and mosques…

…The motto that secular Quebec is in opposition to all religious beliefs due to its history of social clash with the church is not quite correct in this context. While it’s an open highway for media outlets, politicians and others to offend, insult and attack the Muslim Quebec community by degrading its public figures, religious rituals, and tainting its institutions with shrouds of rumours, these smear and hatred campaigns are rarely targeting other citizens’ groups and cultures within the society…

UK: ‘Kill All Men': Lib Dem Activist in Hate Speech Scandal [Blazing Cat Fur]

unnamed-6

A Liberal Democrat activist who sits on two national party committees has been suspended from her regional party after a string of sexist comments on social media. The activist in question, Sarah Noble, made multiple tweets of a disturbingly hateful nature, including “kill all men”, “f*ck men”, and “die cis[gendered] scum”.

The comments were brought to light by by HEqual, a gender egalitarian campaigning group. After being made aware of them, former Lib Dem Equalities Minister Jo Swinson was quick to condemn Noble’s comments…

Oggcamp14 – Friday night at The Plough. [Cannon-Linux]

The_PloughHaving walked 10 mile I finally arrived at The Plough shagged out and hungry. The pub is actually really nice, a typical English country pub at the centre of a village.

The pub had been warned of our descending on their premises and the ‘Library room’ had been reserved for us. After passing hoards of geeks outside on the grass area, it was a warm and lovely evening, ravenous I ordered Chilli Burger and Chips. (burger again?)

Barstaff: “Where will you be sitting?”
Me: “Anywhere you like I’m starving, just tell me where to sit.”
Barstaff: “Why don’t you sit there and I’ll bring your food to you.”

I duly sat opposite the bar as instructed. After a few minutes a blond-haired women who I suspect was the landlady suddenly barked at me;

Landlady: “If you’re going to sit there I’m opening the back room!”
Me: “Pardon me?”
Landlady: “It’s not fair for me to close off the back room if you’re all going to spread yourselves out all over the place.”
Me: “Excuse me, I was told to sit here? I have ordered some food.”
Landlady: “Well you’ll have to eat it in the back room.”

IMG_20141004_135414Rather stunned at this alternative style of hospitality I dragged my aching legs into the Library come back room. Now I don’t drink alcohol normally but I make an exception for Oggcamp and consumed copious amounts of Hadleys real ale (I think that was what it was called) in fact we drank so much real ale we drank every last drop in the pub!

I think the pub owners and staff were overwhelmed by the amount of people there, most of us bought double the amount of whatever drinks we wanted as getting served was a complete nightmare. I did have another run-in with the landlady sadly, due to how busy the place was nobody collected any of the huge dirty plates. I brought mine back and plonked it on the beer tray on the bar which didn’t go down well I’m afraid but in my defence it was taking up valuable beer space on the table.

I love the Friday night it really is fantastic. You get to meet all your friends old and new, talk about loads of things most of which you cannot remember the next day. I spoke with loads of people yet sadly the only one I can really remember was Charlie a two-year old girl who blew me away with her ability to count to 10 both in sign language and normally and was able to recite the ABC!

Oh there was one other, and this was weird. I’d invited my mate Anthony Newman AKA antiphase along. I’ve known him on-line for something like seven or eight years maybe more so it was the first chance to meet him in the flesh as they say. So I’m sat there gobbing off as usual pint in hand and Anthony appears in front of me.

Me: “Oh wow! you made it! Fecking awesome!”
Anthony: “I’ll just get a beer.”

I never saw him again the whole evening! I searched the place high and low, feck knows where he went. People tried to help with “What’s he look like?” All I could say was “How the fook would I know I met him for 20 seconds for the first time in my life!”

As the classic saying goes “Once the beer ran out we all ran out” four or five of us staggered off up the country lane back to the Travelodge.

adam_loves_me[Edit]
I forgot to put the Adam Sweet story in. Oops!

Can I just point out I’ve known Adam for years and he is in fact my mate before anyone gets out their pram.

So Adam was chatting up these two girls, you know the sort of thing “Oh yeah I had a recording contract……..” clearly he was hoping for a ménage à trois. As we was leaving I leant between the two girls, placed my hand on Adam’s arm and said “Mate, your misses says can you hurry up back to the car as your kids are starting to play up.”

The girls walked off and Adam seemed as if he was going to cry for some reason?

[Pictures by George Doscher released under CC]

Oggcamp14 – Day 1 The event.

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Oggcamp14 – The long walk to the pub. [Cannon-Linux]

The Friday before Oggcamp is possibly one of the best experiences you’ll ever have. Lots of excited people desperate to meet one-another and throw alcohol down their throats. The nights revelry was planned for a pub called The Plough which according to that inbred ‘get a bleedin hair cut’ Mark Johnson was “Only five minutes down the road from the venue.” I decided to walk down and braved the dual carriageway.

IMG_20141003_183211Now I did have a quick look at Google maps about two days prior and remembered I had to turn right by the venue so this I duly did. As you would expect the road I was on was yet another fecking ‘lets drive like loons’ road but fear not dear reader, cars are the least of your problems! I am now a devout cycle hater, sorry but there it is. These utter swine tear up the footpaths like some latter day Barry Sheene. with total disregard for pedestrians. In fact I’ll go further, these complete and utter low life’s look at you as if to say “What the feck are you doing walking on a footpath.” seriously, I was passed at Mach 1 speeds by at least 20+ cyclist’s of whom only two bothered to ting their pathetic bell at me. I did on a couple of occasions look back to see if any of these death riders was approaching me and both times I saw these bastards cranking the pedals even harder so that if they did knock me down the chances of a hit and run was entirely possible!

I had been walking for ages and still was in the middle of the countryside? “Where the hell am I I thought?” it was as if I was walking on a treadmill and getting nowhere fast. After a long while I gave up. Clearly this road did not lead to civilisation and everyone heading along it was caught in some sort of time flux purgatory so I decided to head back the way I came. By now it was starting to get dark, fast approaching was a big blue sign with “WELCOME TO OXFORD 3½ Miles” WTF? So I had walked about a mile from the Travelodge, probably four plus miles along this road and now had 3½ to go to get back to where I started!

As I approached the Oxford Hotel I spied a guy in a classic geek shirt “G’day mate, you from Oggcamp?” Actually I’m from Essex but that’s a whole other story. “Yes” I said “But like me you’re going the wrong way I think.” I had met who I would come to call Aussie Guy. We headed back moaning about cyclist’s, prices and Oxford in general.

Oggcamp14 – Friday night at The Plough

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Oggcamp14 – The bus journey. [Cannon-Linux]

So having left Oxford train station I headed for the town in search of sustenance. While walking past every oriental food outlet known to man and finding that places of high cuisine such as McD’s and Burger King was full I headed back to the Wig & Pen which is a really nice pub to be honest.

wig-and-pen-oxfordOrdering a strong cup of tea and a burger & chips (This will be a recurring feature by the way) I settled down in a leather chair by the window when suddenly I had a text from my co-conspirator Matthew Copperwaite “Oi baldy, where are you?” (He didn’t really text that but I do like a good laugh) after fumbling around with the on-screen keyboard I gave Matt my location and he couldn’t have been far because literally five minutes later he arrived.

Oggcamp finally begins! Matt, Marie (Matt’s fiancée) and me settle down for a good old chin-wag. Moggers joined us after a little while and with the second round of drinks starting to appear I thought it best to catch the bus to the Travelodge before they all started drunkenly singing the software freedom song!

I waited at the bus stop with some trepidation, you can pretty much guarantee with a bus numbered 300 there’s going to be some knob  head hanging out the window shouting “THIS IS SPARTA!” at every bus stop.  After asking the driver “This is the bus for the Travelodge pear tree isn’t it?” he replied with a less than encouraging smile “Yes it is, I’ll try to remember to tell you where to get off.” The 300 is a bit like a fast train, it only stops at a few stops, this is important information by the way and in a later post about the night of the curry will be very relevant. So we shot off down the road with pushchairs and big women with bags clinging on for dear life. For a journey that I thought was supposed to be 20 minutes or so but we seemed to arrive at my dropping off point fairly quickly “Here you go mate. You can’t see it very well but the Travelodge is behind them trees over there.” said the bus driver. “How the hell do I get across that four lane Grand Prix track?” I replied. “There’s some traffic lights there you can cross there.” The bus pulled away to an uproar of laughter for some reason?

I walked a couple of yards along the dirt beside the busiest dual carriageway in England and waited at the traffic lights. And I waited, and I waited, and I waited, and I waited, the bastard didn’t mention that the lights only change if someone comes out of the Park & Ride site over the road! And that looked like it had been deserted since the Royalists left town in 1646! Gripping my drag-along case I decided to see if I could give Usain Bolt a run for his money and sprinted to the central reservation where I waited, and waited, you get the picture.

I finally made it to the Travelodge where I met a nice lady on reception who booked me in “Your room is on the first floor, take the stairs over there.” STAIRS? No lift? Does this woman not realise I have just played truck roulette on her towns ridiculous traffic system?

Oggcamp14 – The long walk to the pub.

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Oggcamp 14 – The train journey. [Cannon-Linux]

So I bought my tickets in advance from @thetrainline to be fair their turnaround is really good. For anyone who has never used them they send you like fifty million ticket look-alikes in an envelope. Now usually I would take the whole lot with me but on this occasion I decided to take just the actual tickets.

My local train journey is one of those classic village halt type services whereby you rarely see any guards or ticket collectors so my journey to Birmingham New Street was pretty uneventful. I had to catch the 11:07 to Oxford and dragging my case down the aisle found some woman sat in my seat;

“I’m ever so sorry but I think you’re sitting in my seat?”

Why are we English so apologetic? And why was I apologising anyway? I mean, I hadn’t done anything wrong. After sorting it out I put my case on the parcel rack and the woman and her friend thought that a jolly good idea and proceeded to attempt to lift their 300,000 kilo cabin crew bags up on the shelf: “Here let me help” like the perfect gentleman I am I started to lift the said cases in turn to my crotch so that like a power lifter I could manhandle their case above my head to where my case was already sitting. Proud at my display of manhood and etiquette I was just about to sit down when I notice the black smear mark across the front of my crisply pressed trousers that I intended to wear to the Friday ‘Lets get blathered’ Pre-Oggcamp drink up! Lets just say I wasn’t a happy bunny.

Just outside of Banbury the Virgin Rail guard made his way down the carriage. “Tickets please, can you have your tickets ready please” most of the people round me fumbled for their Trainline envelopes while I produced my ticket.

Guard: “I’m sorry sir, that is your reservation. I need to see your ticket.”

Me: [The blood rushing from my face] “That is my ticket? The others at home clearly stated they was not a ticket. The only one I have left is this one from Bloxwich to Birmingham”

Guard: “That ticket is fine but should have a reservation with it.”

Me: “But you cannot reserve seats on my branch line?”

Guard: “Oh? Well you don’t have a ticket for this journey”

Me: “Oh yes I do, look at my phone, there’s the evidence I bought my ticket.”

Guard: “It clearly says this is not a ticket”

Me: “I know that, I am proving to you I bought one.”

Guard: “Well you’ll have to see what they say in Oxford”

I continued my journey with the prospect that I was going to have to pay at least an additional £20. The two women opposite was very helpful with their “Ooh you look worried” comment by the way.

I arrived at Oxford where my cunning plan of just walking through was foiled by the cattle segregating channels that stood before me. There was nothing for it, I was going to have to speak to the smartly dressed station bloke and explain the situation.

Me: “Excuse me, apparently there is a problem with my ticket according to the guard on the train?”

The Suit: “Lets have a look sir. I can’t see anything wrong?”

Me: “Well he said it was a reservation not a ticket?”

The Suit: “Let me assist you sir”

He then proceeded to halt the 40 odd people trying to funnel through the exit and inserted my ticket into the machine. The little yellow paddles promptly reclined into their recesses and the suit said;

The Suit: “There we are sir, thank you for travelling with us today.”

As I swanned through the barriers I glanced back at the 40 odd delayed passengers who all looked on thinking “Ooh the fook is E, I’ve never seen (h)im on the tele?”

Oggcamp14 – The bus journey.

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Laugh Out Loud live from Ontario's cottage country! [Laugh Out Loud from CBC Radio]

From Cottage Country Festival last year - two new voices to Laugh Out Loud - Adrian Cronk and Nigel Lawrence. Get your tickets today for our last show of the season. cottagecomedy.com

Holocaust descendants file US lawsuit against French rail [Americas – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Descendants of Holocaust victims this week filed a class-action US lawsuit against French state railway company the SNCF, accusing it of seizing property owned by tens of thousands of Jews, and others, sent to Nazi concentration camps.

Afghan president blames IS for deadly bombing [Asia/Pacific – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani blamed the Islamic State (IS) group for a suicide bombing that killed at least 35 people outside a bank on Saturday in the eastern city of Jalalabad.

Australian teens arrested in alleged terrorism plot [Asia/Pacific – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Five Australian teenagers were arrested Saturday on suspicion of plotting an Islamic State group-inspired terrorist attack at a Veterans’ Day ceremony that included targeting police officers, officials said.

Turkey’s hidden Armenians search for stolen identity [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

In 1915, during World War I, the Ottoman Empire ordered the extermination of the Armenian people. One and a half million were killed in the first genocide of the 20th century. But up to 200,000 women and children survived, converting to Islam and being integrated into the Kurdish and Turkish communities. Today, their descendants are discovering their Armenian roots that had lain hidden for generations. Our reporters followed them on their difficult search for identity.

South Africa's Zuma vows to stop anti-migrant violence [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma on Saturday cancelled a state visit to Indonesia to deal with a wave of anti-immigrant violence at home and promised peace to those who wished to remain in Africa's most advanced economy.

Afghan president blames IS for deadly bombing [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani blamed the Islamic State (IS) group for a suicide bombing that killed at least 35 people outside a bank on Saturday in the eastern city of Jalalabad.

NHK WORLD RADIO JAPAN - English News at 21:01 (JST), April 18 [English News - NHK WORLD RADIO JAPAN]

Dick Flavin [Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!]

Dick Flavin, PA announcer and poet laureate for the Boston Red Sox, joins us along with panelists Faith Salie, Maz Jobrani, and Tom Bodett.

Isis removed from UN's official list of names for future hurricanes for Islamic State association [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

'Isis' is removed from the official list of names for future hurricanes due to now being deemed inappropriate because of its association with the Islamic State militant group.

Who can break NZ stranglehold on Women's World 7s series? [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

Round four of the Women's World Rugby 7s series has taken the teams to the Canadian city of Langford on Vancouver Island, where New Zealand will be out to make it four tournament wins in a row.

Hekari must win and win big to make progress in OFC Champions League [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

The 2010 winners of the OFC Champions League PNG's Hekari United take on Tahiti's Tefana later today in a game they must win to have any hope of making this season's semi-finals.

Tagata o te Moana for 18 April 2015 [RNZ: Tagata o te Moana]

Vanuatu relief direction pending; Pacific regionalism at heart of Fiji Forum dissent; Education controversy in Fiji; Fiji Times defends reporting of opposition comments; Pacific leaders meet to ensure regional voice heard at UN; Landowners bid to purchase Solomons goldmine; New police head in Samoa looks for improvement; A comedy about a New Zealand born Samoan who travels to Samoa to learn what it means to become a 'real island guy' is set to be released this year. Tahiti has made it into the Guinness Book of Records with the largest band of Ukulele players in the World.

Hal Heiner for Governor of Kentucky [RedState]

In the race for Governor of Kentucky, I have contributed $250.00 to Hal Heiner’s campaign and support him for Governor.

I do not know him. I know some people around him. But I have been paying close attention to Heiner, his positions, and the state of the race.

Heiner already has a 14 point lead. He is running a very solid race. I do like Matt Bevin a lot, but I have paid quiet attention to the race and dynamics and think Heiner has put down a better operation, a better ground game, and is already solid on the issues.

Heiner is a man of faith. He is a conservative. And he is willing to push Kentucky right. He’s not afraid of controversy, though he does not seek it, and I think he’ll be a good fit in the general election.

I wish not to speak ill of any of the candidates. But I have been paying close attention to the race. I think Hal Heiner is the best candidate. I’m happy to lend my support and my money to his election.

The post Hal Heiner for Governor of Kentucky appeared first on RedState.

Why I stopped reading Gary Hart’s piece on oligarchy. [RedState]

Found here, via here.  Anyway, I was reading along, and came across this passage: “With its monumentally wrong-headed Citizens United decision…”  That was enough for me.  Oligarchical elements in our Republic are, indeed, rather strong: but it is instructive to note that they were not weaker under so-called ‘campaign finance reform.’ In fact, if you look at American politics since free speech was reaffirmed under Citizens United you will note that a good number of local political dynasties have been since defeated. 2014 in particular gives some prime examples; but ask the Carnahan family in Missouri how well they’re doing these days. Or the Reids in Nevada. I’m sure that there are other political families now on harder political times, these days.

I am not saying that life is all nice and egalitarian, now.  I am saying that it’s more egalitarian than it was. Such things typically happen when you make it easier for people to talk: there’s nothing an oligarch likes better than to be able to restrict what may and may not be freely said. And I have no real time at all for somebody who can’t tell the difference between what he thinks is going on, and what is actually going on.  There are only so many hours in the day, you know?

Moe Lane (crosspost)

PS: I should also note that Gary Hart probably has a bit of a personal grudge towards the Bush family – a grudge that would be all the more pronounced because it is largely not reciprocated. That’s how these things typically work. Usually to the chagrin of the person holding the grudge.

The post Why I stopped reading Gary Hart’s piece on oligarchy. appeared first on RedState.

IBM opposes religious liberty [RedState]

Louisiana is currently in the process of enhancing religious liberty in the state, with the full backing of Governor Bobby Jindal. House Bill 707 by Representative Mike Johnson. IBM, which has been doing some growing in Louisiana, sent a letter to legislative leaders and Jindal opposing the bill.

IBM has made significant investments in Louisiana including most recently a technology services delivery center in Baton Rouge, creating new jobs for Louisiana workers.  We located the center in Baton Rouge because we believe Louisiana has great talent and would continue to be a rich source of such talent.  However a bill that legally protects discrimination based on same-sex marriage status will create a hostile environment for our current and prospective employees, and is antithetical to our company’s values.  IBM will find it much harder to attract talent to Louisiana if this bill is passed and enacted into law.

Our perspective is grounded in IBM’s 104-year history and our deep legacy of diversity and inclusion – a legacy to which we remain strongly committed today.  IBM is opposed to discrimination against anyone on the grounds of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or other protected categories.

We urge you to work with the Legislature to ensure this legislation is not discriminatory.

It is, first of all, incredibly clear that IBM did not read the bill, which works to prevent local governments from pulling business licenses from businesses that operate on their owners’ faiths. It in no way legalizes discrimination, which is really becoming a tired cry from the Left. Secondly, IBM clearly has no idea what the culture in Louisiana is like if it thinks this law will create a hostile environment here.

Thirdly, good on Bobby Jindal for a quick and awesome response to IBM’s ridiculous letter, which you can read in the link. Louisiana, as he notes, already has a Religious Freedom Restoration Act on the books. This is just a supplemental bill that is inspired by the major issues we’ve seen around the country in recent months.

IBM, it should be notes (as it was over at The Hayride), that IBM also does business in countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Yemen. You know, places that, at best, throw gays in prison (at worst, they execute them). So, IBM’s stance on this is just a wee bit awkward.

 

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Obama to Americans in Yemen: You’re on Your Own [RedState]

As we all should know by now, the official government of Yemen fell earlier this year. Among those caught in the chaos that has ensued are a number of American citizens living in the country. The United States has evacuated its troops stationed at an air base in the country, but the fate of those not working for our government are locked in limbo. Writing for McClatchy, John Zarocostas observes:

American citizens escaping Yemen, including small children and some frail elderly, are arriving exhausted in Djibouti after harrowing journeys from the besieged country, where a U.S.-supported Saudi Arabian bombing campaign is entering its fourth week, the U.S. ambassador to the small Horn of Africa country told McClatchy on Thursday.

Calling the flight from Yemen “a tough experience” for many of the evacuees, the U.S. envoy, Tom Kelly, said hundreds of Americans have arrived in Djibouti in recent days aboard foreign ships and aircraft after journeys that for some included hundreds of miles of dangerous land travel from Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, to the ports of Hodeidah and Aden.

In one case, Kelly said, some would-be evacuees were left behind at the port of Aden because they had been unable to climb up rope ladders to board an Indian navy frigate from smaller boats that had ferried them to the larger ship, which had been unable to dock because of fighting in the city.

These aren’t Yemeni political dissidents or members of an oppressed minority group in the country. These are American citizens, and for whatever reason, the Obama administration has turned its back on them. From the article:

The Obama administration so far has declined to organize a rescue mission for the estimated 3,000 to 4,000 U.S. citizens in Yemen. U.S. officials have said they believe it is too dangerous for U.S. military assets to enter Yemeni waters and air space. They’ve also suggested that organizing Americans to meet at a single departure point would put them at risk of attack from al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula or other terrorist groups seeking American hostages.

That, however, has left Americans largely on their own to find a way out of the country. The U.S. Embassy in Sanaa has been closed for months, and the last American troops in the country were evacuated last month, a few days before the Saudi bombing campaign began.

In a message posted on its website, the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa advises that an Indian naval vessel will be leaving Hodeidah for Djibouti and that it had been informed that Americans would be welcomed. But the embassy also noted that “unfortunately, we don’t have information on who to contact to board this ship.”

Got that? The Obama administration’s plan to get American citizens out of Yemen–in the sense it can even be called a plan–is to depend on the good will of other countries. India is explicitly mentioned here, but Russia has also evacuated a few Americans. In other words, one of our biggest current geopolitical foes is doing more to help Americans trapped in Yemen than our own government. Has our President forgotten about the Navy SEALs?

Even Jimmy Carter, for all his many faults, at least tried to rescue the Americans held hostage in Tehran. President Obama, however, has declined to do even that much. All of this is bringing back the unpleasant memories of how our government abandoned Saigon and the Americans there who weren’t able to cram themselves into helicopters, and like it was then, the blame for this can be placed principally, if not entirely, at the feet of Democrats. However, even with Saigon, we again at least made an effort to rescue our own, even if it was a horribly insufficient attempt at doing so.

Barack Obama is disgracing both himself and the office of the Presidency by refusing to rescue our own people. I can assure you, our allies and enemies across the world are taking note of this.

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Tech at Night: Net Neutrality will hurt the poor [RedState]

Who benefits the most from competition and innovation in Internet services? The people who have the most need to save money: the poor. Further they more than anyone have the need to use the Internet to save money and to seek opportunity. They need cheap Internet.

And Net Neutrality will take it away from them.

It’s true though, T-Mobile is as non-Net Neutral a service as you can get, and that innovation was only growing. FCC may start taking it all away from us, which will mean more up front costs for all of us. All thanks to Obama’s plan to regulate the Internet.

More regulation. Less choice. More government. Less liberty.

I mean, Net Neutrality was argued for with lies and fraud all along, as firms like Netflix actively sought to mislead Americans about what ISPs are doing.


Important baby steps: Government is going to try to hog spectrum less, which is important to letting wireless Internet grow and expand to meet our ever increasing needs.


I really hate this reactionary opposition to CISA. The libertarian view of cybersecurity reminds me of the libertarian view of foreign policy: it calls for a neutered government too weak to defend American interests. When you hate NSA more than you hate Russian attackers, your priorities I question.


The EU is singling out Google for persecution but there’s nothing inherently wrong with Google favoring its own stuff. People do have choices after all.


I remain wary of comprehensive patent reform. When was the last time a comprehensive bill was any good?

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More fallout in Boston from the slow-motion collapse of Big Wind. [RedState]

Put not your faith in politically-subsidized energy projects:

The [Deval] Patrick [D, MA] administration’s $113 million New Bedford marine terminal, built as a Cape Wind construction staging area, has become a taxpayer-funded boondoggle now that the controversial offshore wind farm project is virtually dead in the water.

The South Coast Marine Commerce Terminal, which is still under construction and sits empty, is also running $10 million over budget and months behind schedule.

Baker administration officials are trying to lease out the terminal, but they now expect to fetch a lower return on the taxpayers’ investment after executives behind Cape Wind pulled out of a two-year deal to rent the 28-acre facility for $4.5 million.

Cape Wind, for those who are unaware, was a typical Big Green project designed to toss a bunch of wind turbines off of the coast of Massachusetts: it is dying now, partially because the turbines would have gotten in the way of rich people’s view of the water and partially because the industry apparently still can’t survive without government subsidies. Since it’s pretty clear that the GOP has no real interest in renewing past Congressional largess, there has been a lot of, ah, readjustments in just how smart an investment wind power actually is. Should be fascinating to see how this plays out.

In the meantime, of course, poor Governor Charlie Baker (R, MA) has to figure out how to fix Gov. Patrick’s mistake. Par for the course, these days: Democrats get to do the fiscal polluting, Republicans get to do the cleaning up. Ach, well, that’s what you have to when you’re the party that has all the grown-ups.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

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Doddering grandma forgets traffic laws and parks in handicap space [RedState]

hillary parking

This is straight from the “rules are for little people” school of governance. The school that teaches you how to make $100,ooo over night trading in agricultural commodities and that it’s fine to take multi-million dollar contributions from foreign governments in exchange for policy concessions.

On a campaign stop, somewhere in flyover country

new yorker view

Hillary Clinton’s campaign van (haven’t heard if it has an astro-turf floor like Bill Clinton’s El Camino. Huma Abadin is traveling with her, so who knows?)

This is really par for the course with Hillary. She holds rules and everyday people in contempt. Tipping and other common courtesies are unknown to her. This kind of behavior, when taken into context with what we know about the fundraising of the Clinton Foundation guarantees a Hillary Clinton presidency will make the regime of Barack Obama look like an ethical Golden Age of Athens.

 

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Hillary Clinton’s astroturfed grandparents [RedState]

clinton census

None of us were surprised when the “plain folks” meeting Hillary Clinton on the trail turned out to be Democrat activists. That’s who she is. She doensn’t know anyone but Democrat operatives, or, put another way, the only people who will put up with this nasty self-aggrandizing baggage are Democrat operatives.

But now Hillary Clinton is branching out into Joe Biden country. Back in 1988, Joe Biden was forced to end his presidential bid when it was discovered that the tales he told of his hardscrabble coal-mining father were actually borrowed from stump speeches by British socialist Neil Kinnock and Biden’s father was a middle class professional.

Via Buzzfeed, this is Hillary’s speech (Trigger Warning: may cause involuntary gag reflex):

We are turning down people who really want to work. I mean they are here to work. And a lot of them now have children who are American citizens, and they are doing the best they can to try to make a good life for themselves and their families. And you know, I think if we were to just go around this room, there are a lot of immigrant stories. All my grandparents, you know, came over here and you know my grandfather went to work in lace mill in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and worked there until he retired at 65…

She traced her Methodism back to the Wesley brothers themselves, who converted her great grandparents in the small coal mining villages of Southern Wales. She immigrated with her family as a young girl to Scranton and went to work — very young ― in a silk mill, and then she met and married my grandfather,

Actually, Hillary’s grandmothers, both of them, were born in the United States as was one of her grandfathers. In fact, the one she mentions in the blockquote died in 1952 when she was just a few years older than Hillary is now.

How do Hillary’s handlers spin this:

“Her grandparents always spoke about the immigrant experience and, as a result she has always thought of them as immigrants,” a Clinton spokesman told BuzzFeed News. “As has been correctly pointed out, while her grandfather was an immigrant, it appears that Hillary’s grandmother was born shortly after her parents and siblings arrived in the U.S. in the early 1880s.”

Again, she had exactly one immigrant grandparent, he arrived as an English-speaking child, so it is doubtful there was a lot of family talk about the “immigrant experience” and certainly not enough to lead an incredibly credulous Hillary Rodham to think they had been immigrants.

This isn’t the first run-in Hillary has had with a mythological family history

[The Houston Chronicle, 1995]

Taking a weekend break from official duties on her Asian tour, the first lady escaped already-remote Katmandu and traveled two hours by prop plane, land rover and rowboat to the Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge.

Later, she got to meet Sir Edmund Hillary, the first person to reach Mount Everest’s summit in 1953.

Sir Edmund Hillary, a frequent visitor and benefactor of Nepal since his historic trek, had a brief Hillary-to-Hillary handshake at the Katmandu airport before Clinton departed Sunday for Bangladesh.

The first lady said her mother had read about the famous climber and knew his name had two L’s.

“So when I was born, she called me Hillary and she always told me, ‘It’s because of Sir Edmund Hillary,'” Hillary Clinton reported.

Hillary Clinton, it should be noted, was born October 26, 1947 and Sir Edmund Hillary made his first notable climb in January 1948. (As an aiside I use the Snopes.com account here to make a point. Snopes finds the claim false because Hillary’s mother might have heard of the famed New Zealand beekeeper even before he made noteworthy climbs and Hillary simply misspoke. This is a prime reason why you should never lose sight of the fact that Snopes.com is nothing but a bunch of Democrat shills on political issues.)

Like Biden’s Welsh coal miner father and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)Heritage ActionScorecardSen. Elizabeth Warren7%Senate Democrat Average29See Full Scorecard7%‘s high cheek-boned Cherokee princess grandma who may have eloped to be married in a church to escape RACISM, Democrats never seem quite happy with who they are. All three of these family fabulists were children of some privilege. They were raised in households of means. Both Warren and Clinton are products of Ivy League universities. One gets the feeling that they realize that they got where they are by a combination of chance and, in Hillary’s case, having sex with Bill Clinton. They know they have nothing in common with the average American in income, experience, education, or worldview. As a result they are constantly making up a family history in order to try to connect with normal people. And they keep failing.

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Fighting for $15 or Something [RedState]

From the diaries…

The continuous cry for “equality!” has slithered its way into most every aspect of American life. Although too often the facts surrounding said “inequality” are disregarded, emotions are strong and demands for fairness are repeated. Although the phantom War On Women steals a majority of the limelight, the Fight for $15, another emotionally-driven, young crusade, continues to gain traction, and the movement’s most recent display was on tax day, April 15.

As their website states, the Fight for $15 campaign began in 2012 when fast food workers went on strike to protest income inequality. An hourly wage of $15 and union rights are what they’re demanding from the “greedy” corporations they shout at. How dare successful companies with cheap products and high turnover not pay their employees an arbitrary amount, most likely decided upon following a spur-of-the-moment stunt.

Central to this drumbeat is the fact that a handful of Americans (the 1%) have so much more than others (the 99%), and, despite a host of factors involved with that truth, people observe that reality and determine it’s wrong. A gap remains between the wealthiest and the rest of us, and the country as a whole is more disillusioned with it than ever. According to a February 2015 article from the Pew Research Center:

…there is every indication that the public not only sees the problem of inequality, but is finding it more difficult to get ahead. The number of Americans who believe there is plenty of opportunity to get ahead through hard work has declined by 16 percentage points since the turn of the century, according to Gallup. Pew Research Center surveys also find a significant decline over this period in the share of Americans thinking that hard work leads to success.

This is what fuels workers in fast food restaurants to demand a certain level of pay. They only see a paycheck lower than that person’s over there, and determine they are being treated unfairly. No matter that hard work and searching for opportunities to better yourself can propel you out the doors of establishments whose biggest moneymaker is the lunch hour rush. It’s all unfair.

Just this week, a young CEO of a company called Gravity Payments decided it was a “moral imperative” to give his employees raises by cutting his salary 90% to make sure each of his employees made at least $70,000, despite their position in the company. What led to this decision? The CEO, Dan Price, “…decided to hike his employees pay after he read a study about happiness. It said additional income can make a significant difference in a person’s emotional well being up to the point when they earn $75,000 a year.” The foundation of thought which led to Price’s decision seems to be what drives those in the Fight for $15 crowd. A number, whether $15/hr or $70,000 a year, is determined to be the thing which will make the employee(s) happy. But what about competing to get a promotion? What about choosing one interviewee over another because of skill set or education? These aren’t things meant to ruin a sense of worth or happiness, it’s simply good business, and companies should seek the best, and if possible, reward the best, in order to improve their company atmosphere and ultimately, their bottom line.

There is an epidemic in the form of connecting one’s worth as an individual to one’s hourly or yearly wage. This anger insinuates that employees aren’t being treated as human beings. They disregard that while your individual worth is priceless, on the job you are worth what an employer is willing and able to pay you for the services you provide, the education you bring to the table, and your past experience. When we again connect a person’s value to the amount of money they earn, the entire argument for higher pay gets muddled beyond recognition. Instead of encouraging others to set and achieve personal goals in order to better themselves, we are teaching the opposite. We are teaching that it is a company’s responsibility to increase and maintain your happiness.

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Elizabeth Warren’s Education Power Grab Fails [RedState]

Yellen Hearing

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)Heritage ActionScorecardSen. Elizabeth Warren7%Senate Democrat Average29See Full Scorecard7% says she is not running for President. Sadly, that does not make her a benign or waning influence in national politics.

As MSNBC host Rachel Maddow has (with probable glee) noted, Hillary Clinton – probably in an effort to do or say something that is interesting or motivating to anyone, anywhere – has been parroting Warren. CNN Money ran a story with a similar thrust recently, saying of Hillary’s announcement video, “Long considered a centrist, Clinton sounded strikingly similar to Warren, the outspoken darling of the left wing.”

For as long as Warren remains the favorite of the progressive movement, and a major driver of Clinton’s positioning as a candidate, it’s important to keep tabs on what she’s up to, because it tells us what liberals and the Democratic Party overall will try next.

While Warren is mostly known for crusading for more big government in the form of things like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, created by the Dodd-Frank legislation that preserved too-big-to-fail, recently she has been showing her big government instincts with regard to K-12 education matters, too. This may seem like a boring topic, but with many readers being parents, it warrants our attention.

Currently, Congress is undertaking a process called ESEA reauthorization. Basically, this can be a vehicle for continuing bad, big-government, intrusive, top-down federal meddling in education (or even worsening it). Or it can be an opportunity for at least moderate education reform.

The Senate is looking at a bill that would do a couple of things, namely in general adjust the balance between states and the federal Department of Education when it comes to driving the education policy train in a direction that would be more federalist than it currently is, and ban Common Core. Warren does not like it, and like any good big government liberal, she wants to keep Washington in the drivers’ seat, especially where it concerns the matter of teacher evaluations – a fight teachers unions would rather have at the federal level, where they can fight on one front with a liberal Democrat president in charge (good for them), rather than fighting on many fronts to avoid any measures to hold bad teachers accountable which would be tricky, especially with a bunch of union-skeptical conservative governors running the states since the 2014 election.

This is where we get to some good news. The Senate committee tasked with ESEA reauthorization marked up a bill on that front, and an amendment Warren wanted that would have dug Washington’s claws deeper into education policy failed:

“The first amendment to go down to defeat came from Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)Heritage ActionScorecardSen. Elizabeth Warren7%Senate Democrat Average29See Full Scorecard7% of Massachusetts who sought to require that states and local school districts explain the criteria they use to evaluate teachers, but Alexander opposed the effort, saying he wanted to move Washington away from saying how teachers should be evaluated. Warren said the amendment was about improving transparency, but Alexander’s sentiment prevailed as the amendment was defeated along party lines.”

This is a good thing. While it does not show that Warren’s influence on the Democratic Party or liberal America is waning, it does show that at least her Senate colleagues are not kowtowing to her, despite the fact that the media loves to talk about how Warren is seen as the best thing since sliced bread, even by people who vote Republican. This is usually the kind of storyline that freaks out the Senate GOP and causes them to start caving to stupid, liberal demands that make for bad policy and bad politics. The rejection of Warren’s amendment provides a glimmer of hope here.

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Slate: Obama’s pristine and scandal free reign is his gift to Hillary [RedState]

obama globe

Sometimes your read stuff and do a double take because you just can’t believe it. For instance:
Obama’s Gift to Hillary Clinton
No modern-day president has left his potential successor a less scandal-plagued legacy than Barack Obama.

We are due for a major presidential scandal. At least, that’s been the pattern for three of the last four administrations. By this point in 1987, President Reagan had fought through the Iran–Contra affair. By this point in 1999, President Clinton was coping with fallout from his impeachment. And by this point in 2007, President Bush was dealing with continued revelations into the torture at Abu Ghraib and the criminal investigation of a former aide, Scooter Libby (to say nothing of a failing economy and an unpopular war launched with bad intelligence in Iraq).

Conservatives will huff and harrumph to the contrary, but relative to his peers, Obama has had a remarkably clean, scandal-free presidency. Unlike Reagan, he hasn’t had to offer a national apology. Unlike Clinton, he hasn’t had to face a special prosecutor. And unlike George W. Bush, he hasn’t had to answer to something like the 9/11 Commission. He’s had scandals, but not the kind that bring intra-party criticism—a sure sign that the offense is serious—or force a massive public reckoning. This isn’t a matter of polarization either. When the IRS scandal broke, Democrats as well as Republicans called for investigations. As it withered, however, it became a more partisan affair.

Far from being a burden on Clinton’s bid, Obama is an asset. Which is why the campaign will embrace him. Not just as a conduit to black American voters, but as a good president whose policies should be continued and extended. No, this doesn’t equate to an inevitable Clinton victory, and the public may still want a change of pace after eight years of Democrats. But for Democratic partisans, it’s far preferable to the alternative world where Clinton is desperately running away from the president and his administration.

Indeed, for as much as liberals have complained about Obama’s stoicism in the face of almost everything, that same quality is poised to give Democrats a key bonus in the game: Stability. And when Republicans warn of a “third Obama term,” Clinton can flip that as a good thing.

This is the Slate equivalent of “drunk blogging.” What this twit writing this does is use a malleable definition of scandal so that Scooter Libby being convicted on trumped up allegations by a malicious prosecution and the actions of some Army Reserve soldiers at Abu Ghraib are Bush scandals but since Obama didn’t order Lois Lerner to unleash the IRS on conservative groups, no harm-no foul.

The Obama presidency has been beset with scandal in a way that perhaps no other administration has, other than arguably Nixon’s.

Obama’s has been a pay to play administration where high rollers and major donors were able to use the federal government as their personal piggy bank. Solyndra and climate change whacko Tom Steyer. Obama claimed to have personal authority to determine when Congress was in session and was repudiated by the Supreme Court. But the list is long.

IRS scandal

Solyndra and all manner of ‘green energy’ boondoggles

Punishing politically incorrect auto dealers during the restructuring of Chrysler and GM

Requiring nuns and priests to have medical coverage for contraceptives

Attacking religious freedom at home and abroad… except as it applies to Muslims

Remember the low-level fly-by of Air Force One over Manhattan that caused panic?

Two words: Bowe Bergdahl.

Eavesdropping on the phones of allied leaders

Illegal surveillance

More illegal surveillance 

Still more illegal surveillance

 Letting the New Black Panther Party evade prosecution

Operation Choke Point

This is just a sampling of the more minor scandals. What has distinguished this administration’s scandals from other is the willingness to kill other people, American and foreign, in order to further policy goals.

Operation Fast and Furious racked up a body count in the low hundreds and effectively destabilized large areas of the Mexican border in order to create a fact narrative to support more gun control laws.

The VA scandal killed veterans or deprived them of needed medical care for the sake of improving reporting numbers.

Letting a man with known sympathies for Islamic extremism to stay in the Army until he shot up Fort Hood… then classifying it as ‘workplace violence’ rather than a terror attack

Race baiting in an already tense Ferguson, MO, definitely increased property loss if not actual loss of life.

Of course, the perfect storm of Obama/Clinton arrogance, incompetence and duplicity was the sacking of the US consulate in Benghazi and then blaming it on some “filmmaker.”

I won’t even get into the crappy policy decisions that have turned Libya and large areas of Iraq and Syria into terrorist states; to pissed away a war won in Iraq and a winnable war in Afghanistan; or handed Egypt over to Muslim extremists; or destroyed six decades of American diplomacy in six short years.

Obama’s ability to skate above a seething cauldron of incompetence and maliciousness that would have destroyed a lesser man it a direct result of a lapdog media unwilling to do even the basics of reporting and a Congress composed of Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)Heritage ActionScorecardSen. Harry Reid10%Senate Democrat Average29See Full Scorecard10%‘s Senate, which was intent on protecting Obama at all cost, and a stump-trained House under Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)Heritage ActionScorecardRep. John BoehnerN/AHouse Republican Average39See Full ScorecardN/A that was afraid to do anything lest they be called racist.

If Clinton wants to run on hers being a third Obama term it is hard to see how that results in anything but a GOP landslide.

 

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Operation Empty Chair [Small Dead Animals]

On the run;

Al-Qaida's Yemen branch routed government forces from a large weapons depot in the country's east on Friday, seizing dozens of tanks, Katyusha rocket launchers and small arms, security officials said, as airstrikes by a Saudi-led coalition intensified in the capital, Sanaa, and also in Yemen's second-largest city.

The seized depot is located in Mukalla, the capital of Hadramawt -- Yemen's largest province where al-Qaida has been consolidating its control. Only the day before, the militants captured a major airport, an oil terminal and the area's main military base.

No Bergdahl left behind - The Obama administration so far has declined to organize a rescue mission for the estimated 3,000 to 4,000 U.S. citizens in Yemen.

The Tolerant Left [Small Dead Animals]

EYE ON A CRAZY PLANET;

You might think the value of adults being able to read those books they want and make their own choices about them would be self-evident to people living in a free society.

Not so to the Social Justice Wankers.

Wynneing! [Small Dead Animals]

CBC advises it's probably nothing: The news that Toyota is moving production of its popular Corolla vehicle from Cambridge, Ont., to Mexico is further confirmation that Canada has slipped to third place in North America's auto sector... (h/t Larry)

Reader Tips [Small Dead Animals]

At times like these the old-fashion quality of sincerity, when combined with hopefulness and an almost childlike absence of cynicism, can reignite the heart like nothing else.

Let it glow: Here are The Seekers performing the bestselling single in the UK in 1965, I'll Never Find Another You.

The comments are open, as always, for your Reader Tips.

The Tolerant Left [Small Dead Animals]

For those keeping score: a Palestinian card trumps the Indian card.

CC1oO__UgAEcwDb.jpg:large.jpeg

Bill's Wife [Small Dead Animals]

Twitchy: Team Hillary makes 'everyday Americans' hand over their cell phones

15 talking points about ‘Anthropocene Fictions’ [TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics]

It’s not everyday that a 288-page academic book arrives in my mailbox, especially a big fat academic tome that taxes my failing eyesight and hardly fits into my apartment building’s mail slot. But I’m glad this one made it safely across the seas from where it was published by the University of Virginia Press. It […]

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French woman says ‘Happy People Read And Drink Coffee’ [TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics]

Agnes Martin-Lugand wrote a novel in Paris, self-published it in December 2013 and when it caught on with a wide readership, her writing career took off. Now her debut novel “Happy People Read and Drink Coffee” is being translated to English and is set for a Spring 2016 publication date, with The Weinstein Company (TWC) […]

The post French woman says ‘Happy People Read And Drink Coffee’ appeared first on TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics.

DWARF PLANET Ceres beams back SUNNY north pole FROWN [The Register]

Dawn spacecraft transmits best high-res images yet, enthuse boffins

In the build up to NASA's first science orbit of dwarf planet Ceres later this month, the agency's spacecraft Dawn has been capturing stunning images of the extraterrestrial body.…

Verizon FLICKS FINGER at Netflix with skinny à la carte-style TV package for fibre munchers [The Register]

OTT behaviour to claw back U.S. market share? Surely not!

U.S. cable giant Verizon vowed last year that it would offer channels à la carte to its customers simply because the demand was there. From tomorrow (19 April), the telco's fibre network subscribers will be able to pick and choose the pay-TV they want.…

Amazon axes try-before-you-buy AppStore TestDrive facility from shopfront [The Register]

No, you can't pet that doggy in the window

Amazon customers can no longer preview apps via the online retail giant's TestDrive service before making a purchase, after the firm quietly killed the function on Wednesday.…

Post-pub nosh neckfiller: Tortilla de patatas [The Register]

The real Spanish omelette – accept no wobbly dining substitute

As regular readers know, the Special Projects Bureau's headquarters is a mountaintop redoubt in a sleepy corner of rural Spain, so it was inevitable that we'd eventually turn our wobbly dining attention to the legendary "tortilla de patatas" (potato omelette).…

Who runs this world? Sony Pictures CEO jokes about getting UK culture minister fired [The Register]

And replacing him with former PM's grandson

Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton mulled pulling strings to get UK culture minister Ed Vaizey fired to replace him with the grandson of former prime minister Harold MacMillan.…

Go for a spin on Record Store Day: Lifting the lid on vinyl, CD and tape [The Register]

Tech for digitising treasured tunes – how easy is it to get into the groove?

Feature  Today, Saturday 18 April, is Record Store Day. Partly a celebration of vinyl, and partly a keen marketing drive to remind people that there are still places to buy music that don't involve massive offshore companies. No doubt there will be busy queues outside venues like Rough Trade East in London, and, alas, speculators buying every special Record Store Day release they can, to flog on eBay a few hours later.…

BOFH: Explain? All we need is this kay-sh with DDR3 Cortexiphan ... [The Register]

You opened Pandora's Box, you shut it again

Episode 5  The PFY has crossed the line. Even though he knows better, he's attempted to explain something technical to management.…

Philip Glass tells all and Lovelace and Babbage get the comic novel treatment [The Register]

Plus: Love, Sex and Other Foreign Policy Goals

Page File  El Reg bookworm Mark Diston chews through the latest literary treats with a fascinating autobiography from composer Philip Glass. Jesse Armstrong of Peep Show fame has a debut novel and for comic novel fans we've a curious take on the development of the first computer from Sydney Padua.

Let’s PULL Augmented Reality and CLIMAX with JISM [The Register]

Oh come on! It's ripe for renaming

Something for the Weekend, Sir?  “Augmented Reality is a terrible expression,” says the AR demonstrator. “It’s a pity it doesn’t have a better name. So we call it XXooming. With two Xs.”…

FCC hit with SEVENTH net neutrality lawsuit [The Register]

CenturyLink joins queue suing US busybody to kill new rules

CenturyLink has become the seventh organization to sue the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to dismantle its radical new net neutrality rules.…

Makerbot axes 'scores of staff' – 3D printing just doesn't pay the bills [The Register]

Morale hits new low for troubled kitchen-table factory pioneer, Reg source claims

3D printing pioneers Makerbot has culled roughly 80 employees at its Brooklyn headquarters, abolished three divisions, and closed three of its shops.…

Oklahoma approves execution by nitrogen gas as a backup to lethal injections [The Verge - All Posts]

Yesterday, Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin signed into law a bill that approves the use of nitrogen gas for executions in the state. The method, which would effectively asphyxiate death row inmates by forcing them to breathe pure nitrogen through a gas mask, is meant to be the primary alternative to lethal injection, The Washington Post reports.

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William Shatner apparently thinks a Kickstarter-funded water pipeline will save California [The Verge - All Posts]

Is William Shatner crazy, or did he just make a bad joke? You might start asking yourself that question after hearing the latest idea from the 84-year-old star: a Kickstarter-funded, $30 billion water pipeline to save California from its devastating drought.

In an interview with Yahoo Tech's David Pogue, Shatner says, "I’m starting a Kickstarter campaign. I want $30 billion ... to build a pipeline ... Say, from Seattle. A place where there’s a lot of water. There’s too much water." He adds, "How bad would it be to get a large, 4-foot pipeline, keep it above ground — because if it leaks, you’re irrigating!"

You heard it here first: Seattle has too much water.

Shatner says Seattle has too much water anyways

It's not clear if Shatner...

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Verizon's 'customizable' FiOS TV packages violate contract, says ESPN [The Verge - All Posts]

ESPN is fighting back just hours after Verizon announced plans to offer new FiOS TV packages that split up channels into cheaper, semi-a la carte bundles. The massive sports network, owned by the Walt Disney Company, said in a statement provided to Recode that Verizon's new bundles "would not be authorized by our existing agreements." The statement continues, "Among other issues, our contracts clearly provide that neither ESPN nor ESPN2 may be distributed in a separate sports package."

The contracts that your cable provider signs to bring your favorite channels to your home often have many stipulations — most programmers, for instance, require that their powerhouse channels be offered alongside their less popular offerings. Extremely...

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I flew an X-Wing fighter at Star Wars Celebration [The Verge - All Posts]

Get a large group of people together at an event with even the faintest whiff of commercial underpinnings, and you're going to get some fascinating promotional events. Whether it's the Bates Motel at SXSW or the annual flood of tie-ins at Comic-Con, they're an opportunity for companies to hawk their wares by creating one-of-a-kind experiences that will get audiences talking.

But here's the dirty little secret: sometimes they're also pretty fun, and here at Star Wars Celebration EA has a booth in place to promote its upcoming game Star Wars: Battlefront. In what they're calling "The X-Wing Experience," attendees wait in an insanely long line, after which they strap on X-Wing pilot gear and sit down into a cockpit mock-up, complete with...

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5 film techniques J.J. Abrams will use to showcase his Star Wars universe [The Verge - All Posts]

One of the great pleasures of the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer is seeing a new director inject his own flourishes into an already visually distinctive series. The Star Wars visual catalog has a few staples that have stayed consistent throughout the series: think transitional wipes and pilot POV shots. Unfortunately, the prequels saw George Lucas expand the toolset with a lot of uninspired tricks: slow zooms on wide shots, Barbara Walters glow, and a stubborn use of a locked-down camera.

From the looks of the new Star Wars trailer, J.J. Abrams and his cinematographer, Dave Mindel, seem to be trading out the bad visual trademarks and replacing them with some of their own. Here are some examples of what we might be able to...

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The longest-running predator study in the world is running out of wolves [The Verge - All Posts]

A 57-year predator study will likely be forced to shift directions as early as next year because the wolf population it studies is nearly extinct. Since 1958, scientists have tracked the ebbing wolf population on Michigan's Isle Royale, an island in Lake Superior. Now the study is down to only three predators, and that number may reach zero by as early as next year, according to a report in Nature.

When the study first began, the Isle Royale wolf population neared 50, but it has been declining for some time now. A decade ago there were just 30 wolves on the island, and a Nature report last year had that number down to ten.

The last male wolf joined the pack in 1997

In the 1940s, three Canadian gray wolves walked across the ice on Lake...

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The Weekender: Formula E racing, internet astrology, and the oceans' garbage vortexes [The Verge - All Posts]

Hello fellow weekend-goers, and welcome back to The Weekender. This week, we found the nicest person on the internet, we dove into the world of friendly astrology, and we went to Miami to see a Formula E race. We'll also be setting you up for a stellar weekend back on this terrestrial plane. So sit back and take a journey with us.

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The Real Problem With The Hugos [Transterrestrial Musings]

Chad Orzel says there’s just too much to read. [Update a while later] Sort of related: The culture war has gone nuclear. And yes, that young man was a waste of a good heart.

Space Access [Transterrestrial Musings]

The preliminary schedule has been posted.

Replica Retraces Lafayette's Voyage to America [USA - Voice of America]

A replica of the warship that carried France's Marquis de Lafayette to help American colonists in their war of independence sets sail for the United States on Saturday, symbolic of a historic moment that binds the two nations. Lafayette crossed the Atlantic on the original Hermione in 1780 to tell his friend George Washington, commander of the American insurgents against British imperial rule, that France was sending a strong military force to help them. The replica fired its cannons as it sailed up the French river Charente on Saturday to the military shipyards of Rochefort, where both vessels were built. French President Francois Hollande paid a brief visit to the warship, which was due to set sail later in the day. The new Hermione has been under construction since 1997 and cost 25 million euros ($27 million) to build. It will head for Yorktown, Virginia, where Lafayette and his forces played a critical part in a decisive battle against the British. “I feel it's important that this boat is remembered as more than just a modern recreation, that it represents the historical boat as well,” said Adam Hodges-LeClaire, a U.S. citizen, history student and one of the 80-strong crew aboard the 1.2-ton warship. Hodges-LeClaire had made his own period costume to wear during the voyage. The frigate is due to arrive in Yorktown on June 5 for a two-month tour of key locations in the American Revolution, including Annapolis, Boston, Philadelphia and New York City. To the American independence movement of the time, Lafayette — whose full name was Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert de Motier de Lafayette — was "our Marquis." Although an aristocrat who persuaded King Louis XVI to send military help to Washington's men, Lafayette also maintained a civic role after the king and much of the French nobility had been executed in France's own revolution, which began in 1789, less than a decade after his voyage. The two countries sealed their friendship almost a century after Lafayette's voyage with the 1876 inauguration of the Statue of Liberty at the entrance to New York harbor, a gift from the French people to commemorate the centenary of the Declaration of Independence. Since then, Franco-U.S. military and diplomatic relations have ebbed and flowed, hitting a recent low point when France opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. More recently, France resisted, then gave in to pressure from the United States, its NATO ally, to delay the delivery of a helicopter-carrying warship to Russia because of the Ukraine crisis.

Earth Day Concert, Rally in Washington [USA - Voice of America]

An all-day Earth Day rally and concert has attracted massive crowds to the National Mall in Washington Saturday. Usher, Mary J. Blige, Gwen Stefani, Common and Train were set to perform during the free Global Citizen 2015 Earth Day concert hosted by will.i.am and renowned journalist Soledad O'Brien near the Washington Monument.  The rally is a joint initiative with the Global Poverty Project, which is live-streaming the event, to end extreme poverty. Organizers are seeking to highlight the problems of poverty and climate change around the world. They are also encouraging participants to commit to making environmentally friendly "acts of green" this year, and asking attendees to sign petitions for a U.N. conference on climate change planned for Paris in December. "Whether it's the big migrations we expect to see or soil depletion or emptying the oceans, loss of species, loss of timberland — all these things are creating poverty at the same time that they are also creating climate change issues," said Kathleen Rogers, Earth Day Network president. “Eliminating poverty will require solving climate change.” Earth Day organizers also are announcing plans with developers of the popular "Angry Birds" game to create a new in-game experience about climate change. "Angry Birds" has been downloaded 2.8 billion times worldwide. The game's climate change campaign will coincide with the U.N. General Assembly in September as world leaders tackle sustainability goals. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, actor Don Cheadle and Coldplay's Chris Martin were expected to speak to attendees.  The concert and rally coincide with the spring meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, top officials of which are also expected to speak at the rally. Earth Day is officially observed on Wednesday, April 22. This year marks Earth Day's 45th Anniversary. Earlier, President Barack Obama said in his weekly address there is "no greater threat to our planet than climate change." "Climate change can no longer be denied or ignored," with 14 of the 15 hottest years on record happening in the first 15 years of this century, he said.  Last year was the warmest recorded year.  The Earth's rising temperatures are having "very serious implications," the president said, including stronger storms, deeper droughts and longer wildfire seasons.   The U.S. leader said he will observe Earth Day Wednesday at Florida's Everglades, a location he described as "one of the most special places in our country" and "one of the most fragile." He said rising sea levels are putting the "national treasure" at risk.  The world is looking to the U.S. to take a leadership role in dealing intelligently with climate change, President Obama said. "And that's what we're doing," he said, adding that America is using more clean energy than ever before and is number one in wind power. He said other measures taken include an increasing number of energy-efficient cars and buildings that save consumers money. Some material for this report comes from AP.

US Urges Greece to Work Out Details [USA - Voice of America]

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has urged Greece to go through "every line" in its budget to draft a reform plan to satisfy its international creditors. Lew, speaking in Washington Friday, said he believes that is the level of detail required. "This isn't resolved by speeches; it isn't resolved by rhetoric. It's resolved by the hard technical work,'' he added. He said after meeting with finance ministers, including Greece's Yanis Varoufakis, that there is an urgent need to come together around a comprehensive approach. Lew stressed that failure to reach an agreement would "lead to immediate hardship in Greece and increased uncertainties for Europe and the global economy." Varoufakis had told an audience at the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington Thursday that Greece will "compromise, compromise, compromise without being compromised" in order to stay in the eurozone. G20 meeting Finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 leading economies wrapped up two days of meetings in Washington Friday.  The gathering took place on the sidelines of the World Bank - International Monetary Fund Spring meetings, held from April 17 through the 19th. The G20 issued a joint communique pledging increased efforts to boost confidence while welcoming modest improvements in the global economy. Although worries about Greece were expressed on the sidelines of the meeting, Greece was not mentioned in the communique. Last week, Greece made a debt repayment of $495 million to the International Monetary Fund, easing days of uncertainty and bringing relief to investors. It was a crucial payment that will help Greece move closer to securing a final international bailout package and stay in the eurozone.   Finance ministers of eurozone countries agreed earlier this year to extend Greece's bailout on the condition that the country would present a sound plan of economic reforms. Athens submitted a number of measures this month to combat tax evasion and fraud. Unemployment in Greece is double that of the rest of the Eurozone countries. Since 2010, Greece has received two loan packages from the European Union and the IMF, a total of more than $270 billion, in exchange for austerity measures and sweeping economic reforms.

Fast Track Trade Bill Opens Economic, Political Divisions [USA - Voice of America]

U.S. lawmakers agreed on draft legislation this week to give the White House “fast track” authority to negotiate a free trade deal with Pacific nations. If approved, the bill gives lawmakers the authority to set trade objectives, but limits their ability to make changes once agreement is reached. Trade officials say the bill would help President Barack Obama realize his so called “Asia pivot,” but as Mil Arcega reports, it also sets the stage for economic and political divisions at home.

US Trade Bill Moves Forward [USA - Voice of America]

Leaders of a U.S. Senate panel have agreed on legislation to enhance President Barack Obama’s ability to negotiate trade agreements and to ensure that such pacts cannot be altered by Congress. If approved, the bill would boost efforts to forge a trade pact between the United States and 11 Pacific nations - and is already being blasted by American labor and environmental groups. Obama’s trade representative is empowered to negotiate free trade agreements, but congressional approval of such pacts is fraught with danger. Any amendments Congress imposes could send all parties back to the negotiating table or sink an agreement altogether. Trade promotion authority, or TPA, solves the problem by subjecting trade pacts to an up-or-down vote in Congress, with no amendments allowed. That authority existed in the 1990s, when the North American Free Trade Agreement was negotiated and approved, but has since expired. Thursday, Republican and Democratic leaders announced agreement on a bill to restore TPA. Republican Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said, “The renewal of TPA will help American workers and job creators unlock new opportunities for growth and promote better, higher-paying jobs.” The committee’s top Democrat, Ron Wyden, said, “Opening foreign markets is critical to creating new opportunities for middle-class American Jobs. This bill sets our country on the right track.” The bill sets forth labor, environmental, and human rights standards designed to attract the support of lawmakers wary of free trade accords. Those measures do not satisfy America’s largest trade umbrella group, the AFL-CIO, whose president, Richard Trumka, said TPA “would lead to more lost jobs and lower wages.” Environmental groups are also lining up in opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership that would be fast-tracked for approval under TPA. Karthik Ganapathy is a spokesman for the group 350.org. “The trade agreement is a disaster for climate change. Our main objection is that TPP [Trans-Pacific Partnership] hands even more power to big oil. It is a climate disaster," said Ganapathy. But Republican Senator John McCain says the Trans-Pacific Partnership is in America’s economic and geo-strategic interests. “This vital trade agreement will open new opportunities for trade and level the paying field for American businesses and workers, while sending a powerful strategic signal about America’s commitment to the Asia-Pacific," said McCain. A fierce legislative battle over TPA lies ahead, with many progressive Democrats already lining up in opposition, along with some Republicans who worry fast track authority cedes congressional power to the executive branch.

US Envoy Hails India's Decision to Taper Use of Greenhouse Gas [Science &amp; Technology - Voice of America]

India's surprise decision to agree to phase down the use of a potent greenhouse gas after years of opposition is a "significant step'' toward global action to address climate change, the U.S. State Department's climate change envoy said Friday. India on Thursday proposed an amendment to the United Nations' Montreal Protocol, which calls on countries to phase out their use of HFCs — gases used in refrigerators, air conditioners and insulating foams that are a highly potent form of greenhouse gas emissions. India's amendment calls for a 15-year transition period for developing countries to phase down their use of HFCs in appliances. For years, India has opposed a phase-out of HFCs under the protocol, which focuses on curbing the use of ozone-depleting substances. It has argued HFCs should be handled instead under the Kyoto Protocol, which places the responsibility only on developed countries to make greenhouse gas cuts. Negotiations on a climate agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol have been more challenging, as countries disagree over how to share the burden of emissions cuts. Over 190 countries will meet in Paris later this year to try to secure a deal after more than two decades of talks. President Barack Obama and State Department climate change negotiators had long pressed India to agree to phase out HFCs under the Montreal Protocol, of which every country in the world is a member. Obama discussed phasing down HFCs with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a bilateral meeting in India in January. The United States had already secured cooperation in 2013 from China to phase out HFCs under the Montreal Protocol after years of opposition. Air-conditioner and refrigerator use has been projected to grow by up to 20 percent per year in India, according to the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency, an independent group. That puts India on track to surpass HFC consumption in the United States. India's decision to phase down HFC use "signals that they share our concern about the growth of HFCs and their impact on the climate system" and "are in agreement that the Montreal Protocol is the right forum in which to address this issue,'' Todd Stern, U.S. special envoy for climate change, told Reuters in an e-mailed statement.

More Anti-Factual Analysis from Paul Krugman [International Liberty]

I don’t know whether to be impressed or horrified by Paul Krugman.

I’m impressed that he’s always “on message.” No matter what’s happening in America or around the world, he always has some sort of story about why events show the need for bigger government.

But I’m horrified that he’s so sloppy with numbers.

My all-time favorite example of his fact-challenged approach deals with Estonia. In an attempt to condemn market-based fiscal policy, he blamed that nation’s 2008 recession on spending cuts that took place in 2009.

Wow. That’s like saying that a rooster’s crowing causes yesterday’s sunrise. Amazing.

Let’s look at a new example. This is some of what he recently wrote while trying to explain why the U.S. has out-performed Europe.

America has yet to achieve a full recovery from the effects of the 2008 financial crisis. Still, it seems fair to say that we’ve made up much, though by no means all, of the lost ground. But you can’t say the same about the eurozone, where real G.D.P. per capita is still lower than it was in 2007, and 10 percent or more below where it was supposed to be by now. This is worse than Europe’s track record during the 1930s. Why has Europe done so badly?

Krugman answers his own question by saying that the United States has been more loyal to Keynesian economics.

…what stands out from around 2010 onward is the huge divergence in thinking that emerged between the United States and Europe. In America, the White House and the Federal Reserve mainly stayed faithful to standard Keynesian economics. The Obama administration wasted a lot of time and effort pursuing a so-called Grand Bargain on the budget, but it continued to believe in the textbook proposition that deficit spending is actually a good thing in a depressed economy.

I have to confess that alarm bells went off in my head when I read this passage.

If Krugman was talking about the two years between 2008 and 2010, he would be right about “staying faithful to standard Keynesian economics.”

But 2010 was actually the turning point when fiscal policy in America moved very much in an anti-Keynesian direction.

Here’s the remarkable set of charts showing this reversal. First, there was zero spending growth in Washington after 2009.

Second, this modest bit of fiscal restraint meant a big reduction in the burden of government spending relative to economic output.

Wow, if this is Keynesian economics, then I’m changing my name to John Maynard Mitchell!

So is Krugman hallucinating? Why is he claiming that U.S. policy was Keynesian?

Let’s bend over backwards to be fair and try to find some rationale for his assertions. Remember, he is making a point about U.S. performance vs. European performance.

So maybe if we dig through the data and find that European nations were even more fiscally conservative starting in 2010, then there will be some way of defending Krugman’s claim.

Yet I looked at the IMF’s world economic outlook database and I crunched the numbers for government spending in the biggest EU economies (Germany, UK, France, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, accounting for almost 80 percent of the bloc’s GDP).

And what did I find?

Contrary to Krugman’s claims, total government spending in those nations grew slightly faster than it did in the United States between 2009 and 2014.

So on what basis can Krugman argue that the U.S. had a more Keynesian approach?

Beats the heck out of me. I even looked at the OECD data on deficits to see whether there was some way of justifying his argument, but those numbers show the biggest reduction in red ink (presumably a bad thing according to Keynesian stimulus theory) took place in the United States.

But I will close by acknowledging that Krugman’s column isn’t just focused on fiscal policy. He also argues that the Federal Reserve has been more Keynesian than European central banks. My impression is that both the Fed and the ECB have been keeping interest rates artificially low, so I’m not sure that’s an effective argument (or an effective policy!), but I’ll leave that issue to the folks who specialize in monetary policy.

P.S. If you want additional examples of Krugman’s factual errors, see here, here, here, here, here, here, here,here, here, and here.


Conquer, Compete, or Compare? [Everyday Athlete]

sydmac

Team SydMac!

Yesterday, I competed in the Team RX division of the Summer Galt Games.  It was my second CrossFit competition, but first time competing in the Rx division.

I agreed to compete because one of my friends asked me to do it with her.  I reluctantly agreed (competitions, whether dance, figure, or CrossFit, carry a high stress factor for me).  We initially registered for the scaled division, but a couple of weeks beforehand, we decided as a team to switch to the Rx (more advanced) division, which was a decision we all felt was the right one, but was fraught with anxiety.

We anxiously awaited the event announcements on Wednesday, and when they released the 5 Rx Team workouts, I was initially relieved.  Despite the fact that I rarely Rx workouts at my CrossFit gym, the events in the Team Rx division were all things I could actually do (albeit some better than others).  The format was teams of four – 2 guys and 2 girls.  The first event partnered one guy and girl, the second event partnered the second guy and the second girl, the third event partnered both guys, the fourth event partnered both girls, and the final event was all four team members competing together, so each team member would compete in 3 events out of the 5.

My Clean PR

It’s ugly, but hey, you don’t get points for pretty…

I’ve gone back and forth about how much detail to provide about the competition itself, the events, and the results, and have decided that less is more.  The highlights are that I performed very well in my first event, which consisted of two movements I’ve only recently become proficient in: toes-to-bar and pistols.  In the second event, which was a max clean, I set a new PR of 125, which is a milestone I’ve been chasing for some time (bodyweight clean).  When I competed in the scaled division a year ago, I also had to do one rep max clean, and back then, I did 80 lbs – that’s a pretty sizeable improvement! In the final team event, we just did work and had a blast.

When it was all said and done, we placed 25th out of 26th teams, but I didn’t really care where we placed.  The fact I was competing Rx was an accomplishment in and of itself and is indicative of the fact that I am actually getting better.

I would love to tell you that overall it was a wonderful experience, but there were some downsides to competing.

I know I just wrote a post recently about finally being accepting of who I am and caring less about what other people think of me.  And I know that I am very much a proponent of “compete against yourself” and not worrying about where you stack up in relation to others.  BUT – in a competition situation, it is kind of impossible to have that attitude.  By definition, you are putting yourself out there to be compared to other people and to see where you fall in relation to others.  Before the max clean event, I overheard a few different pairs of girls discussing what they planned to open with – one pair decided on 155 lbs and another pair decided on 185 lbs.  Talk about disheartening!  Here I was hoping desperately to at least TIE my PR of 115 lbs and these girls were planning their opening lifts 40-70 lbs higher than any weight I had ever cleaned.  Despite making a 45 lb improvement between competitions, it made my new PR seem pretty pathetic.

I am kind of ashamed to admit to this, but let’s be real.  Despite the fact that I have generally been happy with the way my body looks lately, my mentality took a big blow come competition time.  There were girls with some phenomenal physiques there, and they got noticed by everyone.   My guy teammates and other guys were constantly commenting on how hot some of these girls were.  I felt like a squishy, unathletic blob.  And the thing that made me angry was the fact that I was at the Galt Games, competing Rx, and yet somehow, the fact that I didn’t feel “hot” or “cute” seemed to trump whatever athletic achievements I had earned.  This hashtag Performance Over Appearance girl was letting my old insecurities about my body rob me of whatever scraps of pride remained in my performance after seeing how poorly I stacked up against everyone else.

Do I regret the competition?  Absolutely not.  I chose to compete to get out of my comfort zone, to test myself, and to have a good time with friends – mission accomplished.  Did I learn that my confidence and self-esteem are a little more fragile than I thought they were?  Yes.  Competing is not easy, and a certain amount of mental toughness is required.  Competing is also not a necessity – I know plenty of CrossFitters who are amazing, but who have not competed.

So, what to do?  I can throw a pity party for myself over the fact that my Olympic lifting sucks compared to most of my peers and lament the lack of muscular definition in my upper body and midsection.  I can skip CrossFit several days in a row and wallow in some Ben & Jerry’s.  I can skip the WOD’s that don’t play to my strengths and scale the ones I do so that I don’t have to risk being the last one to finish.  OR, I can use that frustration the fuel my focus on training hard to keep getting better and remind myself that I had a six-pack once and it didn’t solve any of my problems.  Competition can make you or break you, and I refuse to succumb to the latter.  Onward and upward, my friends!  The Winter Galt Games are only six months away!

fire

 

.

 


Never Enough [Everyday Athlete]

Relaxing after CrossFit For Hope

Relaxing after CrossFit For Hope

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to be visiting Charlotte for work and decided to stay through the weekend.  While I was there, I participated in CrossFit for Hope, which is a charity fundraiser for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

In 2013, I went to CrossFit For Hope to cheer on one of my friends, but was sidelined as an observer because of a shoulder injury.  I remember feeling somewhat relieved that I didn’t actually have to participate.  It’s a fundraiser, not a competition, and there were scaled and Rx versions of the workout, but the thought of having to do a WOD in front of so many strangers when I had only been doing CrossFit for a couple of months was kind of terrifying.  I had originally signed up to do the scaled version of the workout (ring rows instead of pullups; snatches and thrusters at 35 lbs) before I decided to back out.  I volunteered to count reps for one of the women from my CrossFit gym at the time, and she did the workout Rx.  I remember watching her do pull-ups and snatches and being so impressed.  I wished so badly I was where she was.  In my mind, she was legit, and I was still just a CrossFit impostor.

Fast forward to 2014.  My friend Amber and I were both doing CrossFit For Hope together in back to back heats so that we could count reps for each other.  I was in the first heat and was super nervous.  I was having one of those, “Why did I sign up for this?” moments.  I was mostly nervous about the power snatches at 55.  Snatch is by far my weakest lift, and I always dread any workout with them in it.  My max snatch was only 70 lbs at the time, so having to do 3 rounds of max snatches in one minute at 55 lbs on top of 4 other exercises made me incredibly uneasy.

The CrossFit For Hope workout was 3 rounds of:

1 min max box jumps

1 min max thrusters (55)

1 min max pull-ups

1 min max burpees

1 min max snatches (55)

1 min rest

Powet Snatch!

Powet Snatch!

When my time came, we got to choose which exercise to start with, and I chose box jumps.  In hindsight, probably not the best idea to make snatches my finisher for every round.  The workout was rough.  One minute feels like an eternity when you’re trying to do as many reps as possible of pretty much anything, unless it is the one minute of rest between rounds, and then it feels like it goes by in an instant.  But I had an awesome 360 degree epiphany during round 2 – I was, exactly one year later, where I had dreamed of being as a newbie CrossFitter.  I was completing the workout Rx.  I was doing pull-ups and able to link 5 or 6 together before dropping off the bar to regrip or rest.  I was power snatching at 55.  I didn’t fail a single rep when it came to the snatches, and although I didn’t get as many reps for snatch as I did for the other exercises, I was totally happy with the effort I put in.

In that moment, I felt so proud.  I had reached a point I had dreamed of being a year earlier.  But aren’t goals and aspirations always a moving target?  I’ve improved and I should be proud of that, but now I’m chasing even bigger goals.  Muscle-ups.  A bodyweight clean and jerk (only 10 lbs away).  A 95 lb snatch.  It’s so easy to forget to celebrate how far I’ve come when it feels like wherever I am is never good enough.  I will never reach a point where I am strong enough.  Fast enough.  Skilled enough.  There is always room for improvement.  But I have to take the time to occasionally reflect back on where I started and celebrate how far I’ve come.

I think the same applies to life in general – people are always chasing something, and usually when they find it, it doesn’t bring them the satisfaction they thought it would, so they think they need more.  They finally start making six figures a year, and then realize that the money doesn’t go as far as they thought they did.  They finally get that promotion and realize it doesn’t come with as much power and authority as they expected.  They get married only to realize that they’ve traded in their single person problems for a whole new set of married person problems.  Sometimes, we have to take our eyes off of the next big thing, whatever it may be, and look around and appreciate exactly where we are.


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