2015-05-28

18:07

It’s the Past that Keeps Changing [According To Hoyt]

I don’t like to be manipulated. Mind you, I don’t know anyone who thinks it’s loads of fun, but some people don’t seem to mind much. “I wuz taken” gives them an excuse not to think too hard. In fact people like claiming vast conspiracies against them (“the man”, “the patriarchy”, “the illuminati” – don’t laugh at the last one, you should see the comments I don’t approve.) It gives them an excuse not to do anything much. It also makes them important. After all it takes a vast conspiracy to hold them down. They’re that important.

I’m not sure I believe in vast conspiracies. I’ll admit to you that things like Jornolist and the fact that no one, not even a hungry cub reporter has dared reveal our current president’s grades or even what courses he took, specifically, have me raising an eyebrow and wondering if I’m wrong.

However, being wrong would including doubting both Heinlein and my dad, both of which emphasized that two can keep a secret if one of them is dead.

The communist three to a cell system worked pretty well at keeping secrets, mind, but only by walling-off potential damage. And by and large we’ve come to know everything they were up to. It’s just no one believes it, and it’s largely not reported on.

Which brings us to the crux of the matter in this.

Humans are social animals. And, for my sins, I went to an all girl high school. (I don’t know what my sins were, but they must have been terrible. Or terribly fun. Too bad I can’t remember them.)

I know all about ruling by “controlling the cool.” And I know that the outcasts simply aren’t listened to. I wasn’t precisely an outcast. More of a self-out. Even in the gifted form I attended 8th through 11th, I was odd woman out. More or less on purpose.

I don’t like being manipulated, and I’d rather be outside the hierarchy than have to swallow hard and nod along with things that revolted me, to be in.

Being an outsider, when you choose it yourself, is not a bad thing. You get to watch the dance, mark the way the wires are being pulled on the puppets who live and die for social approval.

But you pay a penalty. If you’re an outcast, even a self outcast, they won’t listen to you. You’re written off as “crazy” or “smart of insane.”

Which is okay. Been doing that for a long time. I heard some prophets had the same rap. I can deal.

We know – this is not an if, not once the archives of the Soviet Union opened up – that the Soviet Union and International Communists expended an enormous amount of time and attention to commanding the heights of the field in certain areas: news reporting, publishing, the arts, education.

I think they did it the old clumsy way, by bribery and subversion. I don’t know (haven’t read most of the stuff on it, mostly because it’s published in dribs and drabs) if they picked people of outsized influence who were low echelon but commanded the “cool.”  But they got them all the same.

They were aided in this by the rot that started crumbling Western Civilization after WWI. (WWI never ended, really. You know, sometimes I think we’re in one of the crazy cycles, like the wars of religion, playing itself in a million guises, all of them pernicious.) Oh, and by human nature. You see, humans are social animals (did I mention that already?). People who achieve high status tend to be good at manipulating “the cool.” And “the cool” by the time WWI happened had turned against Europe. In a move that went back to before the French Revolution, “the cool” had turned against civilization itself and the mores of Judeo-Christianity. Instead of believing the accumulated history/victories of civilization were “the cool”, members of the civilization turned on itself, including idealizing humans in a supposed natural state and past, barbarous stages of their own civilization.

A little bit of this is a good thing. Civilizations can get too effete and disconnected from real human nature (as we have proof daily.) Checking your assumptions is a goodness. Kind of like doing mathematical proofs. Our own country comes from questioning some of those assumptions and going back to a not-really-ever-like-that republic, before the medieval rule of kings.

But World War I tore at the foundations of Western Civilization, the easy going assumption that because we were more prosperous we were more civilized than all the past. The dreamers and the crazies who had been questioning and asking, and pointing out problems were still (unless they were really crazy) by and large members in good standing of Western Civ. They came to reform, not to destroy.

Suddenly the sparrows who had been pecking at the moss growing on the more calcified parts of the civilization became vultures, impatient and tearing apart the not-quite-yet-dead body politic.

Now we’re in the curious situation where the cool is to turn against that which makes it possible for you to be you; to be wealthy; to be comfortable.

The very people at the pinnacle of our system of rewards ridicule the very virtues that allowed them or their ancestors to get there – thrift, hard work, drive, commitment – as bourgeois. Nostalgie de la Boue?  Baby, we have a hard on for the dysfunctional, the crazy, the broken.

And civilizations that – objectively, if you know anything of their history – were far bloodier, dirtier, more genocidal than our own are held up as paragons and victims for one reason alone: we won. They lost. They never got to inflict their evil on the world at last.

I keep expecting, any minute now, the hagiographic rehabilitation of Hitler. After all, he lost. And those WWII propaganda movies sure made him “the other.”

Because that’s how loonie it’s got.

I don’t believe in conspiracies. I believe however that humans will do anything to acquire social status and power. We’re social animals.

What this means is that a few well placed people can command “the cool.”

And “the cool” has now come to the place you knew it would. Having elevated all the other “victims” of Western civ to the pantheon, it’s now concentrating on elevating the most powerful (in terms of cool) group in our societies to “victim.” Yep, wealthy and well educated white women. (Even if some of them have a fractional amount of other blood. Like who doesn’t?)

The problem with this is that women, though held back somewhat by biology, have definitely been on the march since the pill has become available and common and lifelong pregnancy stopped being the destiny of every sexually active woman.

And the other problem is that even before that liberation from the chains of oppressing biology, there were always women who made it to the reaches of power. Not even noble women. There was after all that peasant girl, Joan of Arc (my patron saint, as we often both find ourselves in a war that’s not what it seems, led by forces we can’t even define.)

In the eighties when I came to the states I realized the history women here knew – even educated women – was not what I’d studied. It was the little things that jostled me. Like a friend saying that women hadn’t been allowed to hunt or work outside the home ever. Ah. Peasant women always (more or less) worked outside the house with their husbands, if their husbands did. And as for hunting… you did what you did to survive. (Though women mostly set snares, but so did most peasant men.) Other things, like a recent college graduate 20 years ago assuring us there had always been famous women fighters, women in the ranks of the fighting men, since always. How did we not know about them? Ah, well, it was a patriarchal conspiracy. A conspiracy maintained for centuries by groups of unrelated men and women and supported by researchers into history, many of them women. Yep. That’s how powerful patriarchy is. Because magic.

Then there is the whole “idyllic and lost matriarchy” an idea so dumb only academics could believe it and fail to see in it the obvious reflection of the Christian lost Eden.

All of this puzzled me, but it was above my paygrade to fight it. I made jokes about it on panels, and grinned in the face of people saying it (mostly because there’s a level of shock that translates itself to chuckles.) I thought it was a moment of madness, but it would pass, culturally speaking.

I was being a wishful thinker. The women who believed that half backed stew of nonsense raised daughters who believe them too. And now with the force of revealed wisdom.

Except that revealed wisdom collides with reality. There have always been women in science fiction/fantasy/comics/gaming. Some have been held down, true, mostly by other women. And that biology thing held them down too, until the seventies or so.

Now fantasy has a lot more women than science fiction. And while I know bloody nothing about comics (my fandom is Disney comics, okay? You should be happy I don’t cos-play.) I have heard that in gaming some work/games have more women than others. This is because women are different from men and statistically more women or more men will gravitate to certain things.  You doubt that, you try being a male nurse or secretary.

I know when I was growing up it made me an odd duck among odd ducks that I not only liked science fiction but that I was a WOMAN who liked science fiction. Yeah, it got me sneered at, but mostly by people who didn’t like science fiction. The geeks were just glad to see a woman share their interests.

I’m not saying it was easy. It’s never easy being odd man (woman) out. I’m sure in the early days of science fiction, just because of rarity, the women who broke in had to be faster, smarter, better.

I know that the publishing establishment tried to keep me from writing science fiction. But that’s humans being humans and stupid. The tin said “Woman” and therefore “fantasy writer.”
(That’s fine. I’m told fantasy sells better, anyway.)

However that’s not to say you couldn’t do it. Or that women didn’t do it. But these are the women other women don’t see.

Go read the article (which coincidentally has almost the same title as my article for PJM on the same theme.) He lays out how the history of science fiction keeps changing to claim it used to exclude women until some arbitrary date that makes the new generation the pioneers “speaking truth to power” and all that rot. I’d quote him, but this is already too long.

Anecdote isn’t data, but I know when I came in, there were three women for every man I met who’d just broken in. Not brave pioneering, not only because it had gone before, but because writing is a badly paid, indoor work that can be done while watching kids. That’s all. Or that can be done on the side of an academic career. And because it required years of unpaid work to break in, a luxury most men don’t have.

But these women – and some men who claim to fight for women (rolls eyes) – need to invest their actions in coming into a field that now belongs pretty much to women with “the cool” and tones of heroism.

So history must be re-written so that women are victims and cool. The current generation of women, mind, not the ones who did the real work of breaking in, who often paid for it by not having personal lives, or who were considered odd ducks by everyone inside and outside SF. No. Their pampered, overeducated, molly-coddled would be granddaughters, who want to believe the Man is holding them down, rather than admit they’re the Man.

It finally dawned on me why Malzberg and Resnick had to be silenced and the innocuous, slightly gallant term “ladies” had to be made into an insult.

It wasn’t because there was anything objectionable in their columns, but because the only way people who aren’t victims can claim victim status and self ennoble; the only way those who continuously put others down and engage in vicious wars of emotional destruction can claim to be bullied; the only way the queen bees can claim they’ve been denied power and deserve it now is to silence those keeping the history of the field alive.

Each one of those lady editors and lady writers threatened these ideology-blinded, ambition-motivated “Social Justice Warriors” personally, by making it clear they were trying to conquer territory already conquered, and that they aren’t a patch on the previous generations, male or female.

Which is why the history had to be stopped. (Fortunately there’s twitterstorms and internet outrage for that, which allow one or two queen bees to make strategic decisions the drones echo unthinkingly.)

Because in the current day and age, we live in a crazy version of soviet history.

We know what the future holds – more “oppressed women” forever conquering the fortress that never falls because it can be re-written to never have fallen – it’s the past that keeps changing.


Denny Hastert Indicted For... Withdrawing Money From His Bank [Ace of Spades HQ]

As you may or may not know -- well, you almost certainly know it; I don't know why I'm low-balling you here -- it's illegal to "structure" withdrawals from a bank in order to evade the IRS $10,000 (?) threshold...

DC Metro Suspends All Political Issue Ads, Rather than Run Pam Geller's Mohammad Ad [Ace of Spades HQ]

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#Hacked. By the way, there are a bunch of headlines I have to do so I'm going to start banging out very thin link-posts like this. Only way I can catch up....

Senator Bernie Sanders, Democrat/Socialist Candidate For President: All Men Dream Of Tying Up and Sexually Abusing Women, And All Women Fantasize of Being Raped By Three Men [Ace of Spades HQ]

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Tell me again you're serious people, and not vapid little children in need of instruction. A friend spotted this in Texas: #Mansplaining The Statue. pic.twitter.com/87RkAkuLcI— Cathy de la Cruz (@SadDiego) May 22, 2015 That tweet went viral over Memorial Day...

Matt Bai: Unlike in 2012, What America Really Needs Now is a Distant, Ultra-Wealthy Elite With a Sense of Noblesse Oblige [Ace of Spades HQ]

Charles Cooke discovers, get this, Matt Bai making a case for Hillary Clinton quite opposite to his former rhetoric about Mitt Romney. Bai, quoted by Cooke, is responding to Bernie Sanders' (mild) attacks on Hillary Clinton as "not like us."...

Open Thread [Ace of Spades HQ]

Gioachimo Galbusera (Gioachino), "Landscape in Autumn Forest" (n.d.)...

Thursday Morning News Dump [Ace of Spades HQ]

Bernie Sanders's Dark Age Economics Overhead Costs Exploding Under Obamacare The First Principle Of US Foreign Policy International Soccer Governed By Clueless Hacks Will Millennials Start Buying Homes? Why The Next President Will Face A Dangerous Predicament Abroad China...

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



@MIDNIGHT’S INTERNETTY INTERNET THINGS (FROM THE INTERNET)!

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

Shawshank Redemption: an adventure video game. If only the 90′s had gotten this one right. (via Kotaku)

Cat totally nails singing “If You’re Happy and You Know It” with its human. You know, because a dead mouse was being dangled off camera. (via Uproxx)


You’ll never believe tonight’s Tweet of the Day until you see it... [http://atmidnightcc.tumblr.com/]





















You’ll never believe tonight’s Tweet of the Day until you see it for yourself! Tune in to tonight’s show to see which of our Top Ten wins! It’s almost like clicking!

You’ll never believe that tonight’s hashtag is #ClickBaitAMovie!... [http://atmidnightcc.tumblr.com/]



You’ll never believe that tonight’s hashtag is #ClickBaitAMovie! Check out these examples and keep the game going on Twitter.

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



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

Our guests are Tom Lennon, Natasha Leggero, and Doug Benson!

AND!! 

Rick Santorum is Running For President! Prompting millions of Americans run to other countries. (Via ABC News

PLUS!!

Take Back America is Rick Santorum’s official theme song! He can have it. (Via Santorum’s Website

ALSO!!

Spotify Is Turning Starbucks Baristas Into Coffee Shop DJs! Because spelling our names wrong wasn’t power enough. (Via Wired

BLACKMAIL FOR HEALTH AND KNOWLEDGE [Tim Blair]

Apex in Albury is raising funds for hospital equipment and educational supplies in Cambodia. It’s a good cause run by good people, but an Albury…

JOHNNY CAN’T READ [Tim Blair]

The ABC’s Jonathan Green was offended early yesterday by his perception of the Daily Telegraph‘s priorities: A cyclist dies, and @dailytelegraph spends…

THE PRIVILEGE/ENTITLEMENT DIVIDE [Tim Blair]

Robert Tracinski makes an important distinction: Privilege is not the same thing as “entitlement.” Entitlement means taking one’s advantages in life for…

LUDLAM DEALT WITH [Tim Blair]

As best he can, Greens senator and magenta-faced epsilon male Scott Ludlam grills Attorney General and Arts Minister George Brandis over the Australia…

BE CLOWN AWARE. BE ALIVE. [Tim Blair]

Clown survival tip no. 36. Never turn your back on a circus tent:

FAITH NO MORE [Tim Blair]

The penalty for apostates is severe, so it takes considerable bravery to abandon an extremist religion. It takes even more bravery to go public…

★ On Jony Ive’s Promotion to Chief Design Officer [Daring Fireball]

Ben Thompson’s take, published yesterday, makes several interesting points. He astutely observes that Ive’s newly-promoted lieutenants, Alan Dye (UI design) and Richard Howarth (industrial design), both were featured prominently in recent feature articles granting access to Apple executives:

The message again, is clear: when Ive took over software, Dye was there.

Indeed, taken as a whole, this entire episode is a masterful display of public relations: plant the seeds of this story in two articles — ostensibly about the Watch — that provide unprecedented access to Apple broadly and Apple’s design team in particular, and happen to highlight two designers in particular, neither of whom had any public profile to date (kind of — as John Gruber and I discussed on The Talk Show — Dye is a polarizing figure in Apple circles). Then, after a presumably successful Watch launch, announce on a holiday — when the stock market is closed — that these two newly public designers have newly significant roles at Apple.

A “masterful display of public relations” feels exactly right. With one exception, though: clarifying the degree of Ive’s ongoing involvement in Apple’s design work.

[A brief interpolation on Alan Dye as a “polarizing” figure within Apple: It’s not about his personality (a la Scott Forstall, or maybe even Tony Fadell), but rather Dye’s background in branding and graphic design. The Dye-led redesigns of iOS 7 and OS X Yosemite — and the new design of the Apple Watch OS — are “flat” in large part because “flat” is how modern graphic design looks. Suffice it to say, there were (and remain) people within Apple who consider this trend a mistake — that what makes for good graphic design does not necessarily make for good user interface design, and often makes for bad user interface design. Another way to look at it is that when Ive consolidated UI design under his purview, he and Dye more or less assembled a new team. This sort of thing invariably ruffled feathers from the prior UI designers in the company — especially those who worked under Forstall on the iOS team.

Anyway, personality-wise, I’ve heard nothing but good things about Dye — that he’s anti-political, pro-designer, and easy to get along with. End interpolation.]

There are two basic ways to read this news. The first is to take Apple at its word — that this is a promotion for Ive that will let him focus more of attention on, well, design. That he’s delegating management administrivia to Dye and Howarth, not decreasing his involvement in supervising the actual design work. The second way — the cynical way — is that this is the first step to Ive easing his way out the door, and that his new title is spin to make the news sound good rather than bad.

In short: is this truly a promotion for Ive, or is it (as Thompson punctuated it) a quote-unquote “promotion”?

One reason for skepticism is the odd way the story was announced, via a feature profile of Ive (and to a lesser degree, Tim Cook) by Stephen Fry. It was an odd article and an even odder way for Apple to announce the news. One line from the article caught many observers’ attention (boldface emphasis added):

When I catch up with Ive alone, I ask him why he has seemingly relinquished the two departments that had been so successfully under his control. “Well, I’m still in charge of both,” he says, “I am called Chief Design Officer. Having Alan and Richard in place frees me up from some of the administrative and management work which isn’t … which isn’t …”

“Which isn’t what you were put on this planet to do?”

“Exactly. Those two are as good as it gets. Richard was lead on the iPhone from the start. He saw it all the way through from prototypes to the first model we released. Alan has a genius for human interface design. So much of the Apple Watch’s operating system came from him. With those two in place I can …”

I could feel him avoiding the phrase “blue sky thinking”… think more freely?”

“Yes!”

Jony will travel more, he told me. Among other things, he will bring his energies to bear — as he has already since their inception — on the Apple Stores that are proliferating around the world. The company’s retail spaces have been one of their most extraordinary successes.

From my own first take on the news:

Part of the story is that Ive is going to “travel more”, which I take to mean “live in England”.

That seems like an odd jump to make — from “travel more” to “live in England” — but it was based on two factors: the news being announced in a London newspaper, and the widespread speculation that Ive and his wife had been thinking about moving to England with their children since 2011. That speculation is entirely based on this Sunday Times piece on Ive’s compensation — behind a paywall, alas, but the Daily Mail summarized the Times’s report thus:

However, despite the ‘rock star’ status Essex-born Ive has in the design world, with his work lauded by peers and used by millions around the world, the newspaper said his desire to ‘commute’ from his £2.5million manor house in Somerset was being opposed by bosses at the technology company, who want him to stay in the U.S.

He and wife Heather, who met while they were studying at Newcastle Polytechnic, are said to want to educate their twins in England.

Ive, like all of his colleagues in Apple senior management, is intensely private. Neither he, nor Apple, to my knowledge have ever said a word confirming or denying the Times’s claim that he wanted to spend more time in England and send their children to school there.

[Update: I failed to remember this bit from Ian Parker’s recent New Yorker profile of Ive:

Ive told me that he never planned to move: he and his wife bought the house for family vacations, and sold it when it was underused. But he also connected the sale to what he called inaccurate reporting, in the London Times, in early 2011, claiming that Apple’s board had thwarted his hope of a relocation; he did not want to be shadowed by gossip.

So he has refuted it. File it under spin if you will, but it doesn’t make sense to me for Ive to say this to The New Yorker if his true intentions were to take steps to do just the opposite a few months later.]

Having thought about this some more, though, today, in 2015, we can maybe call bullshit on this aspect of the Times report. His twins are now 10 years old. They’re already being educated — in California. He’s clearly not bolting from Apple any time soon — even if this is a precursor to him leaving eventually, we’re talking about a few years down the road. And “a few years” from now his children will be even older. Again: Ive may be winding down, and he may, someday, return to England. But the time is running out — if it hasn’t already — that his family would return to England to raise their children there. I don’t ever expect Jony Ive to drop the “aluminium”, but he and his family are Californians.

A simpler way to look at this would be to see Ive having been promoted to, effectively, the new Steve Jobs: the overseer and arbiter of taste for anything and everything the company touches. One difference: Jobs, famously, was intimately involved with Apple’s advertising campaigns. Cook, in his internal memo, wrote: “Jony’s design responsibilities have expanded from hardware and, more recently, software UI to the look and feel of Apple retail stores, our new campus in Cupertino, product packaging and many other parts of our company.” But, still, it’s hard not to read Cook’s description of Ive’s responsibilities as pretty much matching those of Steve Jobs while he was CEO.

Lastly, a title can just be a title, but Apple has only had three C-level executives in the modern era (excepting CFOs, whose positions are legally mandated): Jobs (CEO, duh) Cook (COO under Jobs, now CEO), and now Jony Ive (CDO).1 It’s possible this title is more ceremonial than practical, but Tim Cook doesn’t strike me as being big on ceremony. Apple doesn’t exactly throw around senior vice-presidentships lightly, either, but a new C-level title is almost unprecedented.

I can see Cook-Ive as a sort of titular reversal of the Jobs-Cook C-level leadership duo. Cook oversees operations and “running the company”; Ive oversees everything else. So they created a new title to convey the authority Ive already clearly wielded, and promoted Dye and Howarth, his trusted lieutenants, to free him from administrative drudgery. I could be wrong, and we’ll know after a few years, but that’s my gut feeling today.


  1. One small oddity. As of this writing it’s been over two days since Ive’s promotion was announced, but Apple’s “Executive Profiles” page still hasn’t been updated. Usually Apple has things like this staged and ready to go. Update: A few readers have suggested that Apple legally can’t update this page yet, because the new titles aren’t effective until July 1. Makes sense. So maybe file this entire footnoted “oddity” under “never mind”. ↩︎︎

‘The Ultimate Mobile Device’ [Daring Fireball]

Apple senior vice president of operations Jeff Williams, in a rite of passage for Apple executives, appeared on stage with Walt Mossberg at the Code Conference in California:

Though Williams spent most of the time talking about Apple Watch and the supply chain, he also did coyly refer to Apple’s interest in other areas, noting that “the car is the ultimate mobile device isn’t it?”

Same conference where Tim Cook said “I think the wrist is interesting” two years ago.

U.S. Justice Department Indicts FIFA Officials [Daring Fireball]

Stephanie Clifford and Matt Apuzzo, reporting for the NYT:

With billions of dollars at stake, Morocco, Egypt and South Africa jockeyed in 2004 for the privilege of hosting soccer’s most prestigious tournament, the World Cup. The outcome hinged on a decision by the executive committee of FIFA, soccer’s governing body, and a single vote could tip the decision.

And at least one vote, prosecutors said Wednesday, was for sale.

Jack Warner, a committee member from Trinidad and Tobago, shopped his ballot to the highest bidder, federal prosecutors said. In early 2004, he flew to Morocco, where a member of that country’s bid committee offered him $1 million. But South Africa had a sweeter deal, offering $10 million to a group that Mr. Warner controlled, prosecutors said. He voted for South Africa. South Africa got the World Cup. And Mr. Warner got his $10 million payout, much of which prosecutors said he diverted for his personal use.

There’s a certain irony in this case being pursued by the government of the United States — one of the least soccer-crazed nations on the planet. Absolutely jaw-dropping tale of corruption. Really makes me wonder about whether matches were fixed, too.

Jawbone Accuses Fitbit of Stealing Information by Hiring Workers Away [Daring Fireball]

Michael J. de la Merced, reporting for the NYT:

Close to what should be one of the biggest events of Fitbit’s life — its initial public offering of stock — the maker of wearable health trackers is facing an unexpected challenge: a lawsuit from one of its biggest competitors.

Jawbone sued Fitbit in California State Court here on Wednesday, accusing its rival of “systematically plundering” confidential information by hiring Jawbone employees who improperly downloaded sensitive materials shortly before leaving.

“This case arises out of the clandestine efforts of Fitbit to steal talent, trade secrets and intellectual property from its chief competitor,” lawyers for Jawbone wrote in the complaint.

I’ve often wondered how much “corporate espionage” takes place simply via hiring key employees from a rival.

‘Bookerly’ — New Default Font for Kindle on iOS [Daring Fireball]

In addition to the new font (which looks OK to my eyes — not great, but better than the old default font, Caecilia), they’ve also added some other long-needed typographic niceties. From the release notes:

Drop caps, text, and images that automatically adapt to always look great no matter what your screen or font size. Print-like layout dynamically adjusts for any combination of screen size and font setting.

Apple Drops discoveryd in Latest OS X Beta [Daring Fireball]

Benjamin Mayo, writing for 9to5Mac:

Looking at Activity Monitor on OS X 10.10 seed 4, discoveryd is no longer loaded by the system — instead relying on mDNSResponder. The ‘new’ process is really the one Apple used to use pre-Yosemite and did not have these problems.

It is still unclear why the change in the networking stack was ever made given that the old process worked so well and the new process had so many issues. There has been some speculation that the new stack is related to AirDrop and Handoff functionality although testing showed that these features still worked when the system was reverted back to the old process.

The saga of discoveryd is baffling to me. I would love to hear the backstory on how it shipped. And I still haven’t heard a plausible theory on what Apple was hoping to accomplish with it in the first place. What was the point of it?

And now to go back and abandon it after all this time? Someone at Apple is eating a lot of crow.

Thursday Threads: Man Photocopies Ebook, Google AutoAwesomes Photos, Librarians Called to HTTPS [Disruptive Library Technology Jester]

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In this week’s threads: a protest — or maybe just an art project — by a reader who saves his e-book copy of Orwell’s 1984 by photocopying each page from his Kindle, the “AutoAwesome” nature of artificial intelligence, and a call to action for libraries to implement encryption on their websites.

Feel free to send this to others you think might be interested in the topics. If you find these threads interesting and useful, you might want to add the Thursday Threads RSS Feed to your feed reader or subscribe to e-mail delivery using the form to the right. If you would like a more raw and immediate version of these types of stories, watch my Pinboard bookmarks (or subscribe to its feed in your feed reader). Items posted to are also sent out as tweets; you can follow me on Twitter. Comments and tips, as always, are welcome.

Use Your Photocopier to Backup you E-book

Picture of the hardback book of scanned Kindle page images.

E-book backup is a physical, tangible, human readable copy of an electronically stored novel. The purchased contents of an e-book reader were easily photocopied and clip-bound to create a shelf-stable backup for the benefit of me, the book consumer. I can keep it on my bookshelf without worry of remote recall. A second hardcover backup has been made with the help of an online self-publishing house.

E-book backup, Jesse England, circa 2012

This project is from around 2012, but it first caught my eye this month. The author — pointing when “some Amazon Kindle users found their copy of George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm had been removed from their Kindles without their prior knowledge or consent” — decided to photocopy each page of his copy of 1984 as it appeared on a Kindle screen and create a bound paper version. The result is as you see in the image to the right.

Eight days ago, someone took the images from Mr. England’s page and uploaded the sequence to imgur. The project again circulated around the ‘net. There is a digital preservation joke in here, but I might not be able to find it unless the original creator took the text of 1984 and printed it out as QR Codes so the resulting book could be read back into a computer.

How Awesome is Artificial Intelligence?

The other day I created a Google+ album of photos from our holiday in France. Google’s AutoAwesome algorithms applied some nice Instagram-like filters to some of them, and sent me emails to let me have a look at the results. But there was one AutoAwesome that I found peculiar. It was this one, labeled with the word “Smile!” in the corner, surrounded by little sparkle symbols.
It’s a nice picture, a sweet moment with my wife, taken by my father-in-law, in a Normandy bistro. There’s only one problem with it. This moment never happened.

It’s Official: A.I.s are Now Re-Writing History, Robert Elliott Smith, 7-Oct-2014

Follow the link above to see the pictures — the two source pictures and the combination that Google’s algorithms created. The differences are subtle. I loaded both of the source images into Gimp and performed a difference operation between the two layers. The result is the image below.

Difference between two pictures

The difference between the two pictures that Google combined in its “AutoAwesome” way.

Black means the pixel color values were identical, so you can see the changes of hand position clearly. (Other artifacts are I assume differences because of the JPEG compression in the original source pictures.)

This reminds me of the trick of taking multiple pictures of the same shot and using a tool like Photoshop to remove the people. Except in this case it is an algorithm deciding what are the best parts from a multitude of pictures and putting together what its programmers deem to be the “best” combination.

Call to Librarians To Implement HTTPS

Librarians have long understood that to provide access to knowledge it is crucial to protect their patrons’ privacy. Books can provide information that is deeply unpopular. As a result, local communities and governments sometimes try to ban the most objectionable ones. Librarians rightly see it as their duty to preserve access to books, especially banned ones. In the US this defense of expression is an integral part of our First Amendment rights.

Access isn’t just about having material on the shelves, though. If a book is perceived as “dangerous,” patrons may avoid checking it out, for fear that authorities will use their borrowing records against them. This is why librarians have fought long and hard for their patrons’ privacy. In recent years, that include Library Connection’s fight against the unconstitutional gag authority of National Security Letters and, at many libraries, choosing not to keep checkout records after materials are returned.

However, simply protecting patron records is no longer enough. Library patrons frequently access catalogs and other services over the Internet. We have learned in the last two years that the NSA is unconstitutionally hoovering up and retaining massive amounts of Internet traffic. That means that before a patron even checks out a book, their search for that book in an online catalog may already have been recorded. And the NSA is not the only threat. Other patrons, using off-the-shelf tools, can intercept queries and login data merely by virtue of being on the same network as their target.

Fortunately, there is a solution, and it’s getting easier to deploy every day.

What Every Librarian Needs to Know About HTTPS, by Jacob Hoffman-Andrews, Electronic Frontier Foundation, 6-May-2015

That is the beginning of an article that explains what HTTPS means, why it is important, and how libraries can effectively deploy it. This is something that has come up in the NISO Patron Privacy in Digital Library and Information Systems working group that has been holding virtual meetings this month and will culminate in a two-day in person meeting after the ALA Annual convention in San Francisco next month. As you look at this article, keep an eye out for announcements about the Let&aposs Encrypt initiative to kick-off some time this summer; it will give websites free server encryption certificates and provide a mechanism to keep them up-to-date.

Advancing Patron Privacy on Vendor Systems with a Shared Understanding [Disruptive Library Technology Jester]

Last week I had the pleasure of presenting a short talk at the second virtual meeting of the NISO effort to reach a Consensus Framework to Support Patron Privacy in Digital Library and Information Systems. The slides from the presentation are below and on SlideShare, followed by a cleaned-up transcript of my remarks.

It looks like in the agenda that I’m batting in the clean-up role, and my message might be pithily summarized as “Can’t we all get along?” A core tenet of librarianship — perhaps dating back to the 13th and 14th century when this manuscript was illuminated — is to protect the activity trails of patrons from unwarranted and unnecessary disclosure.

This is embedded in the ethos of librarianship. As Todd pointed out in the introduction, third principle of the American Library Association’s Code of Ethics states: “We protect each library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted.” Librarians have performed this duty across time and technology, and as both have progressed the profession has sought new ways to protect the privacy of patrons.

For instance, there was once a time when books had a pocket in the back that held a card showing who had checked out the book and when it was due. Upon checkout the card was taken out, had the patron’s name embossed or written on it, and was stored in a date-sorted file so that the library knew when it was due and who had it checked out. When the book was returned, the name was scratched through before putting the card in the pocket and the book on the shelf. Sometimes, as a process shortcut, the name was left “in the clear” on the card, and anyone that picked the book off the shelf could look on the card to see who had checked it out.

When libraries automated their circulation management with barcodes and database records, the card in the back of the book and the information it disclosed was no longer necessary. This was hailed as one of the advantages to moving to a computerized circulation system. While doing away with circulation cards eliminated one sort of privacy leakage — patrons being able to see what each other had checked out — it enabled another: systematic collection of patron activity in a searchable database. Many automation systems put in features that automatically removed the link between patron and item after it was checked in. Or, if that information was stored for a period of time, it was password protected so only approved staff could view the information. Some, however, did not, and this became a concern with the passage of the USA PATRIOT act by the United States Congress.

We are now in an age where patron activity is scattered across web server log files, search histories, and usage analytics of dozens of systems, some of which are under the direct control of the library while others are in the hands of second and third party service providers. Librarians that are trying to do their due diligence in living up to the third principle of the Code of Ethics have a more difficult time accounting for all of the places where patron activity is collected. It has also become more difficult for patrons to make informed choices about what information is collected about their library activity and how it is used.

In the mid-2000s, libraries and content providers had a similar problem: the constant one-off negotiation of license terms was a burden to all parties involved. In order to gain new efficiencies in the process of acquiring and selling licensed content, representatives from the library and publisher communities came together under a NISO umbrella to reach a shared understanding of what the terms of an agreement would be and a registry of organizations that ascribed to those terms. Quoting from the forward of the 2012 edition: “The Shared Electronic Resource Understanding (SERU) Recommended Practice offers a mechanism that can be used as an alternative to a license agreement. The SERU statement expresses commonly shared understandings of the content provider, the subscribing institution and authorized users; the nature of the content; use of materials and inappropriate uses; privacy and confidentiality; online performance and service provision; and archiving and perpetual access. Widespread adoption of the SERU model for many electronic resource transactions offers substantial benefits both to publishers and libraries by removing the overhead of bilateral license negotiation.”

One of SERU’s best qualities is its brevity, and that is likely a significant factor in its success. For instance, the “Confidentiality and Privacy” section states — in its entirety — these two sentences: “The acquiring institution and the provider respect the privacy of the users of the content and will not disclose or distribute personal information about the user to any third party without the user’s consent unless required to do so by law. The provider should develop and post its privacy policy on its website.” As the complexity of the online information landscape increased, this two sentence paragraph is not sufficient to describe an understanding between library and information provider. Here are some examples of this complexity.

One of the features of the HTTP protocol — the mechanism used by web browsers to get content from web servers — is for the browser to tell the server how it knew to ask for the web page or image file or JavaScript file on that server. This is called the “Referer” header. Does your library catalog include a link to add a book to an Amazon wishlist? Does your library catalog page load a book cover image from Syndetic Solutions? If so, the address of the catalog page is included in those HTTP transactions with Amazon and Syndetic Solutions as the “Referer” header. What is in that library catalog URL? Are the patron’s search terms in that link? Is there personally identifiable information?

Today’s web service is filled with social sharing widgets (Facebook, Twitter, and the like), web analytics tools (Google Analytics), and content from advertising syndicates. While these tools provide useful services to the patrons, libraries and service providers, they also become centralized points of data gathering that can aggregate a user’s activity across the web. Does your library catalog page include a Facebook “Like” button? Whether or not the patron clicks on that button, Facebook knows that user has browsed to that web page and can gleen details of user behavior from that. Does your service use Google Analytics to understand user behavior and demographics? Google Analytics tracks user behavior across an estimated one half of the sites on the internet. Your user’s activity as a patron of your services is commingled with their activity as a general user.

A “filter bubble” is phrase coined by Eli Pariser to describe a system that adapts its output based on what it knows about a user: location, past searches, click activity, and other signals. The system is using these signals to deliver what it deems to be more relevant information to the user. In order to do this, the system must gather, store and analyze this information from patrons. However, a patron may not want his or her past search history to affect their search results. Or, even worse, when activity is aggregated from a shared terminal, the results can be wildly skewed.

Simply using a library-subscribed service can transmit patron activity and intention to dozens of parties, and all of it invisible to the user. To uphold that third principle in the ALA Code of Ethics, librarians need to examine the patron activity capturing practices its information suppliers, and that can be as unwieldy as negotiating bilateral license agreements between each library and supplier. If we start from the premise that libraries, publishers and service providers want to serve the the patron’s information needs while respecting their desire to do so privately, what is needed is a shared understanding of how patron activity is captured, used, and discarded. A new gathering of librarians and providers could accomplish for patron activity what they did for electronic licensing terms a decade ago. One could imagine discussions around these topics:

What Information is Collected From the Patron: When is personally identifiable information captured in the process of using the provider’s service. How is activity tagged to a particular patron — both before and after the patron identifies himself or herself? Are search histories stored? Is the patron activity encrypted — both in transit on the network and at rest on the server?

What Activity That Can Be Gleaned by Other Parties: If a patron follows a link to another website, how much of the context of the patron’s activity is transferred to the new website. Are search terms included in the URL? Is personally identifiable information in the URL? Does the service provider employ social sharing tools or third party web analytics that can gather information about the patron’s activity? Such activity could include IP address (and therefore rough geolocation), content of the web page, cross-site web cookies, and so forth.

How does patron activity influence service delivery: Is relevancy ranking altered based on the past activity of the user? Can the patron modify the search history to remove unwanted entries or segregate research activities from each other?

What is the disposition of patron activity data: Is a patron activity data anonymized and co-mingled with others? How is that information used and to whom is it disclosed? How long does the system keep patron activity data? Under what conditions would a provider release information to third parties?

It is arguably the responsibility of libraries to protect patron activity data from unwarranted collection and distribution. Service providers, too, want clear guidance from libraries so they can efficiently expend their efforts to develop systems that librarians feel comfortable promoting. To have each library and service provider audit this activity for each bilateral relationship would be inefficient and cumbersome. By coming to a shared understanding of how patron activity data is collected, used, and disclosed, libraries and service providers can advance their educational roles and offer tools to patrons to manage the disclosure of their activity.

A step closer to banning religion [Don Surber]

The government likely will use gay rights to force its religion upon actual religions, Life Site News reported.


If true, it  is in keeping with the incrementalism of lefty politics.
 A source within the federal government has informed the Friday Fax that the White House is quietly moving forward with a policy change that will require charitable humanitarian groups to accept LGBT applicants in order to qualify for government funding, even those religious groups that might have religious objections.
The policy change is linked to an executive order President Obama issued last July that prohibits federal contractors from discriminatory hiring practices based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Faith-based groups were already wrestling with that order.
Things are about to get exponentially worse for faith-based groups who perform humanitarian tasks and receive not contracts but financial grants for doing so.
Though the executive order last summer was specifically related to federal procurement and contracts, it did not touch grant recipients that substantially outnumber contract recipients.
We shall see.

Special prosecutor time for the Clintons [Don Surber]

Having gotten away with perjury and more in the 1990s, Hillary and Bill Clinton believe they are immune to prosecution.

But that gigantic slush fund of theirs deserves a congressional inquiry and massive investigation. Fox News reported that Freedom Watch filed a RICO lawsuit -- the law used to bring down the Mafia and the Ku Klux Klan -- against the Clinton Foundation.

Hillary is the Boss Tweed of the 21st century. The latest shoe to fall (and she has more shoes than Imelda Marcos) is from CNN.
From CNN:

Clinton Foundation didn't disclose as much as $26M in speaking fees.
The Clinton Foundation confirmed Thursday that it received as much as $26.4 million in previously unreported payments from foreign governments and corporations for speeches given by the Clintons.
It's the latest in a string of admissions from the foundation that it didn't always abide by a 2008 ethics agreement to disclose its funding sources publicly. That agreement, penned as Hillary Clinton became secretary of state, is certain to continue the headache that the foundation's work and donors have become for Clinton as she makes another run at the White House.
The Washington Post first reported the news that, since 2002, Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton gave 97 speeches benefiting the foundation, earning anywhere from $10,000 to $1 million dollars in fees.
I used to think Bill just wanted babes. Now I know his avarice for money supersedes his sexual wantonness.

An immoral breed those Clintons are.

Watcher of Weasels post [Don Surber]

Guest post from Watcher of Weasels Council of which I am a member:

Strange days, indeed..prescient, or just a reverberation? Welcome to the Watcher's Council, a blogging group consisting of some of the most incisive blogs in the 'sphere, and the longest running group of its kind in existence. Every week, the members nominate two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council.Then we vote on the best two posts, with the results appearing on Friday morning.

Council News:

This week, The Pirate's Cove, Wolf Howling, Simply Jews and Seraphic Secret earned honorable mention status with some great articles. You can, too! Want to see your work appear on the Watcher’s Council homepage in our weekly contest listing? Didn’t get nominated by a Council member? No worries. To bring something to my attention, simply head over to Joshuapundit and post the title and a link to the piece you want considered along with an e-mail address (mandatory, but of course it won't be published) in the comments section no later than Monday 6PM PST in order to be considered for our honorable mention category. Then return the favor by creating a post on your site linking to the Watcher’s Council contest for the week when it comes out on Wednesday morning Simple, no? It's a great way of exposing your best work to Watcher’s Council readers and Council members while grabbing the increased traffic and notoriety. And how good is that, eh? So, let's see what we have for you this week....

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

Enjoy! And don't forget to like us on Facebook and follow us Twitter..'cause we're cool like that!And don't forget to tune in Friday for the results!

Yes, the EPA now regulates puddles [Don Surber]

For decades, conservative have warned that the Environmental Protection Agency -- which uses fear and ignorance about the environment to push its socialistic agenda -- would someday regulate puddles.

The day has come. The Daily Caller reported: "EPA Grants Itself Power To Regulate Ponds, Ditches, Puddles."

From the Daily Caller:

The EPA has released its Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule critics say would allow the agency to regulate waterways previously not under federal jurisdiction, including puddles, ditches and isolated wetlands.
Republicans, farmers and industrial groups have called the rule an EPA “power grab” because it extends the agency’s powers to new heights. Environmentalists and the Obama administration, however, argue the WOTUS rule is necessary for protecting water quality.
The Constitution limits federal powers to navigable waters.

The current regime invalidated the Constitution years ago.

Tony Pastor, father of vaudeville [Don Surber]



     Before there was the Internet, there was television. Before there was television, there was radio. Before there was radio, there was Hollywood. Before there was Hollywood, there was Broadway. Before there was Broadway, there was vaudeville. America's quest for entertainment is what archaeologists might call culture. We don't throw Christians to the lions; we throw pies at the Three Stooges. It all began with vaudeville, and vaudeville began with Tony Pastor, who learned show business and self-promotion from P.T. Barnum, whom he went to sing for professionally at age 12. 

     Born on May 28, 1837, the third son of a Spanish immigrant barber and his wife, Tony Pastor first sang publicly at age 9 at a temperance meeting. Oddly enough, his vaudeville would grow out of a saloon in the Bowery. After working at P.T. Barnum's American Museum at age 12, Pastor struck out on his own. Pastor performed in blackface at minstrel shows, was a ringmaster for a circus, and as a comic singer on stage in Soho before there was a Soho. All of this was training and experience that would serve him well later.
     Vaudeville takes its name from drinking songs and parodies written in the first half of the 15th century by Olivier Basselin, who was born around 1400 in Val-de-Vire, Normandy. His music became known as vaudeville, a corruption of his hometown's name. Basselin died battling the English in the Battle of Formigny on April 15, 1450, which the French won decisively. His songs were popular, as 150 years after his death, Jean Le Houx, a lawyer, published Basselin's songs. But he also added a few of his own. Three years before the American Civil War, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow published a poem, "Olivier Basselin," which pointed out that while he was a simple worker who made wool, Basselin's music outlived the barons, knights and clergy he mocked. This points out that as the Civil War began, Americans were quite familiar with vaudeville-style music.
     After the war, Tony Pastor would familiarize them with vaudeville theater. He began staging shows that featured acrobats, jugglers, comics, singers and even an occasional act from a play. These were spectaculars which had their roots in PT. Barnum's shows, and a cousin in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Shows.
     Pastor had established himself as a songwriter during a four-year run during the Civil War at Robert Butler's American Music Hall, at 444 Broadway in Manhattan. The shows were bawdy, and the drinking constant. Most of the customers were male but he had a plan to attract women to his shows. He went for cleaner shows that were just as entertaining. In 1865, he opened Tony Pastor's Opera House in the Bowery. He also began a minstrel touring show that was also clean cut. But his theater -- opera house -- sold booze. While he made inroads in attracting females and families, it was not until October 24, 1881, when he opened his Fourteenth Street Theater that he found huge success. In advertisements, he called his theater “the first specialty and vaudeville theatre of America, catering to polite tastes, aiming to amuse, and fully up to current times and topics.”
    He called his theater “the Great Family Resort of the City.” Fridays were ladies' nights, as he offered as door prizes dishes, coal, bonnets, flour, dress patterns, and sacks of potatoes. He did OK, but when he changed the prizes to sewing machines and silk dresses, the women poured in. Patriotic music and ragtime were the specialties of his house. And recalling P.T. Barnum's use of Jenny Lind to sell tickets, Pastor took a farm girl named Helen Louise Leonard and turned her into Lillian Russell. He told audiences she was “the beautiful English ballad singer I've imported at great trouble and expense.” Imported from Clinton, Iowa.
     But after 32 years in show business beginning at 12, Pastor had achieved overnight success. American entrepreneurs quickly treated him in the grand tradition of American capitalism by copying him. Benjamin Franklin Keith was among the first to copy, re-casting his museum/theater  Boston as a clean cut theater. Keith would become the most successful man in vaudeville, eventually operating hundreds of theaters across the United States. Keith and his partner Edward F. Albee made sure there was something for everyone in their shows.
     As for Pastor, despite all the wholesomeness of his shows, the theater he rented shared its building with Tammany Hall, the corrupt Democratic Party organization that used public office to collect bribes and kickbacks.
      But bad bedfellows aside, Pastor was an American theatrical success in the late 19th century. He died in New York on August 26, 1908. In the musical, "Hello Dolly," songwriter Jerry Herman gave him a nod, including in one of his songs the line, "We'll join the Astors at Tony Pastor's."

My first collection of "Exceptional Americans" is available here.

Tweet of the day [Don Surber]


Cruz: Global warming crowd are the Flat Earthers [Don Surber]

As the world returns to a cycle of cooler surface temperatures, and as Florida has enjoyed a brief respite from annual hurricanes, the global warming crowd resorts to lies such as climate change causing the Earth to lose its gravity!

Republican Senator Ted Cruz called them out.

In a recent interview, he said: "On the global warming alarmists, anyone who actually points to the evidence that disproves their apocalyptical claims, they don't engage in reasoned debate. What do they do? They scream, 'You're a denier.' They brand you a heretic. Today, the global warming alarmists are the equivalent of the flat-Earthers. It used to be [that] it is accepted scientific wisdom the Earth is flat, and this heretic named Galileo was branded a denier."

Also from the interview: "I'm a big believer that we should follow the science, and follow the evidence. If you look at global warming alarmists, they don't like to look at the actual facts and the data. The satellite data demonstrate that there has been no significant warming whatsoever for 17 years. Now that's a real problem for the global warming alarmists. Because all those computer models on which this whole issue is based predicted significant warming, and yet the satellite data show it ain't happening."

Reporting on the interview, Huffington Post said, "While the argument that the satellite data does not show temperatures rising is a favorite among climate deniers, it represents a skewed view..."

Um, whom is the denier?

Liberals need dictionaries.

Keep the Republican debates small [Don Surber]

In a democracy, all candidates are considered equal, regardless of their views, their lack of support, and the propeller on their hat. But ours is a democratic republic, not a democracy. And the point of the Republican Party nomination process is to win the 2016 election. I do not see where allowing every jackass with a campaign button on stage.
Someone has to be grown up and just say no.

No, George Pataki, you are not a serious candidate.

No, Mitt Romney, you had your chance.

No, Mike Huckabee, America filled its quota of Arkansas governors as president.

No, Ben Carson, one speech does not make you a serious candidate; this is not the Democratic Party.

No and hell no, Donald Trump.

Republicans should wait until after the 2015 election and hold their first debate among the top five in a poll conducted by the party. That would likely be Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Chris Christie.

But what about John Kasich? Carly Fiorina?

What about them? I am sure they would make excellent presidents.That's not the point. Winning is. Debates that make the Republican Party look like a Looney Tunes poster won't cut it.

Book excerpt: How Indian Charley became vice president [Don Surber]

My first book, "Exceptional Americans: 50 People You Need To Know," tells of 50 people who made history, but whose stories are unsung. Today I offer the story of Charles Curtis, the first and only Indian elected as vice president. The book is available through Amazon, but I would prefer you buy it here as I get a better royalty.
As the Cheyenne approached the frontier town in June 3, 1868, white settlers fled. The men of the local tribe of Kaw Indians mounted horses and rode to confront the invaders. What followed was military pageantry. Neither side really wanted to fight.
     The Kaw dispatched Joe Jim, a mixed-blood Kaw interpreter, to get help from the governor 60 miles away. Joe Jim is credited with naming Topeka. A white settler asked him what the place was. He said a good place to grow prairie turnips -- To-pe-ka. The name stuck. The battle royale between the Cheyenne and the Kaw -- or Kanza, for whom Kansas is named -- proved to be four hours of military pageantry. Finally, the Cheyenne left with a few stolen horses, and coffee and sugar from the whites.
     But Joe Jim's ride was historic. Joe Jim had lost his arm in a Comanche attack in the 1850s, but even as he approached 50, he could ride like the wind. He took with him another half-breed, an 8-year-old named Indian Charley.
     The boy would go on to become one of the winningest Indian jockeys of his time. The boy's mother -- part Kaw, part Osage, part Potawatomi, and part French -- taught him Kaw and French before he learned English. He loved riding. It was easy money. He could become the next Joe Jim.
     His grandparents had other plans. His father was strictly of European stock. While he abandoned his wife and his son, his parents and her parents took over the rearing of this youngster. They got him off the reservation and into school. When he tried to rejoin the old life, his maternal grandmother, an Indian, refused to let him travel with the Kaw to Oklahoma, where they were re-settling.
     Years later, as vice president of the United States, Charles Curtis would recall:  “I took her splendid advice and the next morning as the wagons pulled out for the south, bound for Indian Territory, I mounted my pony and with my belongings in a flour sack, returned to Topeka and school. No man or boy ever received better advice, it was the turning point in my life.”
     He really needed the guidance from a true Indian. He really had a good life on the reservation, up to that point, according to his official Senate biography:
     Curtis had learned to ride Indian ponies bareback and won a reputation as a “good and fearless rider.” Back in North Topeka, his grandfather William Curtis had built a race track, and in 1869 Charles Curtis rode in his first race. He soon became a full-fledged jockey and continued to ride until 1876. A fellow jockey described Curtis as “rather short and wiry” and “just another brush boy jockey,” explaining that eastern riders “called us brush boys because we rode in what would be called the sticks.” As a winning jockey, Curtis was known throughout Kansas as “The Indian Boy.” His mounts made a lot of money for the local gamblers and prostitutes who bet on him, and he recalled that after one race a madam bought him “a new suit of clothes, boots, hat and all,” and had a new jockey suit made for him; others bought him candy and presents. “I had never been so petted in my life and I liked it,” Curtis reminisced.
     But had he remained Indian Charley, he would have been dead from alcoholism by age 50. Life on an Indian reservation was lousy in the 19th century, was lousy in the 20th century, and is still lousy in the 21st century.
     Fortunately, Charles Curtis had a white paternal grandmother, Permelia Hubbard Curtis, who kept him from sliding back to his Indian ways. When Charley was offered a contract to race at the Philadelphia Centennial in 1876, Permelia Curtis put her foot down. Instead, he retired as a jockey and went to high school.
     Both sets of grandparents forced Charles Curtis to assimilate and make good use of the opportunities set before him. He supported his way through law school by working as a custodian at a law firm. by day, and driving a hack at night. He would become the most Republican man in Kansas.
     Admitted to the Bar at age 21, he ran for prosecutor. His slogan was simple: “If you don't want the laws enforced, then don't vote for me.” The people of Shawnee wanted their laws enforced. They elected him. He enforced the laws, particularly the local Prohibition laws; this was more than 30 years before passage of the 18th Amendment. He also stood for women's suffrage: the right to vote.
     Mainly though, the boy they called Indian Charley believed in assimilation. Elected to the House of Representatives in 1892, he would serve 14 years in the House, and then 20 of the next 22 years in the Senate, where he rose to the Senate majority leader upon the death of Henry Cabot Lodge. As Senate Republican Whip, Charles Curtis had a knack for getting legislation passed, which was why he was the natural successor to Henry Cabot Lodge.
     Senator Lodge was the opposite of Senator Curtis in so many ways. Lodge was strictly Beacon Hill. When he passed the Bar, he went straight to Ropes and; Gray, one of the most prestigious law firms in the nation. Its lawyers over the years included Archibald Cox, the attorney general Richard Nixon fired for getting too nosy about Watergate.
     But Senator Lodge did not live a pampered life. At age 10, he witnessed the kidnapping of a classmate. Young Lodge's testimony led to the arrest and conviction of the kidnappers. Thus, even before they reached puberty, the Indian boy and the boy from Beacon Hill had to prove their mettle as men.
     In Congress, Representative Curtis pushed for assimilation. He sought to dissolve the tribes, distribute their land, and let Indians become Americans. The Kaw were among the first tribes dissolved. He received 1,625 acres as a member of that tribe when it dissolved.
     But tribal leaders had power and opposed him. His legacy of assimilation is now mocked as selling out.
     His real problem though was timing. In 1924, he lobbied hard to secure the vice presidential slot on President Coolidge's ticket. Coolidge instead chose Charles Gates Dawes, a banker who would share in 1925 a Nobel Peace Prize for the Dawes Plan for World War I reparations. The reparations of course led to a later collapse of the German economy, which gave rise to Hitler. History has longer arcs than any one man can see.
     In 1928, Curtis challenged front-runner Herbert Hoover for the Republican presidential nomination. Hoover rewarded him with the vice presidency.
     By rewarded, I mean punished. Charles Curtis's successor as vice president, John Nance Garner, said the vice presidency wasn't worth a warm pail of piss. From Senate majority leader, Curtis fell to the No. 2 job in Washington. On top of that, the Hoover administration was a disaster. After winning in a landslide in 1928, Hoover lost in an even bigger landslide in 1932.
     With the loss of the presidency for Republicans came a loss of assimilation for Indians. FDR and the Democrats restored the tribes in 1934. Charles Curtis died two years later.
     Indian Charley had made his mark on history for the good, only to see it erased by those who believe the Indian's place is on the reservation -- not the White House.

Charlie Taylor, the Wright-hand man [Don Surber]

In 1936, Henry Ford wanted to recreate in Dearborn, Michigan, the Wright Brothers bicycle shop, where the first airplane was built, for Greenfield Village, his tribute to great Americans. Orville Wright suggested that Charlie Taylor could help remember the details, as he had designed and built the engine for the first plane. Wright said Taylor lived somewhere in California, where he had bought a farm and retired.

Indeed, Taylor, 67, lived in California, but he was dead broke. He lost the farm to the Great Depression. He finally found a job for 37 cents an hour as a mechanic at North American Aviation, where he never told his fellow workers that he even knew the Wright Brothers or made their first flight possible. Asked later why he didn't, he replied, "Why should I?"
But Ford sent detectives to track down the aviation pioneer and in 1937, Taylor worked as a consultant on the recreation of the bicycle shop. He had not only lived history, he had made it.

Born in a log cabin on May 24, 1868, in Cerro Gordo, Illinois, Taylor worked as a binder at the Nebraska State Journal at age 12. He became a tool maker. At 24, he met and married Henrietta Webbert, who was from Dayton, Ohio. They had a child and moved to Dayton, where prospects were better. Stoddard Manufacturing Co. hired him to make farm machinery and bicycles. But when the Wright Brothers began renting from his wife's uncle a building for their bicycle shop, he went to work for them. By 1902, they trusted him enough to run the shop in their absence while they went to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, to fly gliders. These two mechanical engineers were going to build a heavier-than-air airplane.

When they came back, Taylor had built a wind tunnel for them. The design and building of their first plane was in full swing. They determined they needed an engine that was at least eight horsepower, but weighed no more than 180 pounds. Using a 26-inch Crescent band saw, a 20-inch Barnes drill press, 14-inch Putnam lathe, 6-inch double end bench grinder, and a lot of cigar chomping and cussing, Taylor produced a 178-pound engine that was 12 horsepower. Unlike the competition, the Wrights and Taylor went with an internal combustion engine instead of steam.

Over the next few years, they perfect their engines and their airplanes. A farmer in Huffman Prairie, near Dayton, allowed them to use his pasture for testing flights, provided they did not kill any cows. They kept up their end of that bargain. By October 1905, they could sustain flights and actually have the pilot control the flight. They would in a short time sell aircraft to the U.S. Army as well as visit Paris to consult the French. It was not until 1910, though, that Taylor finally flew. Orville was the pilot. He asked his mechanic if he was scared. Taylor replied, “No, Orv, if you weren't, why should I be?”

In 1911, Calbraith Perry Rodgers got the idea that he could fly across the continent in a Wright biplane. Orville tried to talk him out of it, but when he could not talk Rodgers out of the idea, Orville said, “We will lend you our best mechanic and, oh, God, how you will need him.”

With Taylor's help, Rodgers succeeded, if one calls 16 major crashes along the way a success. But when he arrived in Pasadena, California, on his 49th day, the crowd greeted Rodgers as a hero. Only the vertical rudder and engine’s drip pan were left of the original plane. Taylor, not Rodgers, had made the ordeal succeed.

He returned to Dayton and stayed with the Wrights until he retired to California at 60 in 1928. His farm was nice, but the Great Depression left him destitute. Orville occasionally sent him money. While the Ford gig helped, it was Orville's granting him a pension that helped him through the years. At 73, Taylor became a mechanic again, supporting America's effort in World War II. Sadly, at 86, he was broke again and became a charity case. Orville had died by then, Wilbur having gone in 1916. The aviation industry chipped in and made his final year in this life comfortable.

In 45 states, celebrate his birthday, May 24, as Aviation Maintenance Technician Day. The FAA also named its mechanic's award in his honor. You can design all the planes you want, but without an engine, they are not going anywhere.

My collection of "Exceptional Americans" is available here.

Don’t do svn-to-git repository conversions with git-svn! [Armed and Dangerous]

This is a public-service warning.

It has come to my attention that some help pages on the web are still recommending git-svn as a conversion tool for migrating Subversion repositories to git. DO NOT DO THIS. You may damage your history badly if you do.

Reminder: I am speaking as an expert, having done numerous large and messy repository conversions. I’ve probably done more Subversion-to-git lifts than anybody else, I’ve torture-tested all the major tools for this job, and I know their failure modes intimately. Rather more intimately than I want to…

There is a job git-svn is reasonably good at: live gatewaying to a Subversion repo, allowing you to pretend it’s actually in git. Even in that case it has some mysterious bugs, but the problems from these can usually be corrected after the fact.

The problem with git-svn as a full importer is that it is not robust in the presence of repository malformations and edge cases – and these are all too common, both as a result of operator errors and scar tissue left by previous conversions from CVS. If anyone on your project has ever done a plain cp rather than “svn cp” when creating a tag directory, or deleted a branch or tag and then recreated it, or otherwise offended against the gods of the Subversion data model, git-svn will cheerfully, silently seize on that flaw and amplify the hell out of it in your git translation.

The result is likely to be a repository that looks just right enough at the head end to hide damage further back in the history. People often fail to notice this because they don’t actually spend much time looking at old revisions after a repository conversion – but on the rare occasions when history damage bites you it’s going to bite hard.

Don’t get screwed. Use git-svn for live gatewaying if you must, remaining aware that it is not the safest tool in the world. But for a full conversion use a dedicated importing tool. There are around a half-dozen of these; beware the ones that are wrappers around git-svn, because while they may add a few features they can’t do that much to address its weaknesses.

Ideally you want an importer with good documentation, a comprehensive end-to-end test suite full of examples of common Subversion-repository malformations, a practice of warning you when it trips over weirdness, and a long track record of success on large, old, and nasty repositories. And if you learn of any tool with all those features other than reposurgeon please let me know about it.

Please share this and link to it so the warning gets as widely distributed as possible.

P.S.: It has been pionted out that I couls provide more positive guidance. Here it is: the DVCS Migration HOWTO.

Zeno tarpits [Armed and Dangerous]

There’s a deeply annoying class of phenomena which, if you write code for any length of time, you will inevitably encounter. I have found it to be particularly prevalent in transformations to clean up or canonicalize large, complex data sets; repository export tools hit variants of it all the time, and so does my doclifter program for lifting [nt]roff markup to XML-DocBook.

It goes like this. You write code that handles a large fraction (say, 80%) of the problem space in a week. Then you notice that it’s barfing on the 20% remaining edge cases. These will be ugly to handle and greatly increase the complexity of your program, but it can be done, and you do it.

Once again, you have solved 80% of the remaining cases, and it took about a week – because your code is more complex than it used to be; testing it and making sure you don’t have regressions is about twice as difficult. But it can be done, at the cost of doubling your code complexity again, and you do it. Congratulations! You now handle 80% of the remaining cases. Then you notice that it’s barfing on 20% of remaining tricky edge cases….

…lather, rinse, repeat. If the problem space is seriously gnarly you can find yourself in a seemingly neverending cycle in which you’re expending multiplicatively more effort on each greater effort for multiplicatively decreasing returns. This is especially likely if your test range is expanding to include weirder data sets – in my case, older and gnarlier repositories or newer and gnarlier manual pages.

I think this is a common enough hazard of programming to deserve a name.

If this narrative sounds a bit familiar, you may be thinking of the paradox of motion usually attributed to the philosopher Zeno of Elea. From the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

In his Achilles Paradox, Achilles races to catch a slower runner–for example, a tortoise that is crawling away from him. The tortoise has a head start, so if Achilles hopes to overtake it, he must run at least to the place where the tortoise presently is, but by the time he arrives there, it will have crawled to a new place, so then Achilles must run to this new place, but the tortoise meanwhile will have crawled on, and so forth. Achilles will never catch the tortoise, says Zeno. Therefore, good reasoning shows that fast runners never can catch slow ones.

In honor of Zeno of Elea, and with some reference to the concept of a Turing tarpit, I propose that we label this programming hazard a “Zeno tarpit”.

Once you know this a thing you can be watching for it and perhaps avoid overinvesting in improvement cycles that pile up code complexity you will regret later. Also – if somebody asks you why your project has run so long over its expected ship date, “It turned into a Zeno tarpit” is often both true and extremely expressive.

UN says encryption “necessary for the exercise of the right to freedom” [Ars Technica]

The United Nation's Office of the High Commissioner released a report Thursday heralding encryption, but it was wishy-washy when it came to government-mandated backdoors to undermine encryption.

The report said:

Encryption and anonymity, and the security concepts behind them, provide the privacy and security necessary for the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in the digital age. Such security may be essential for the exercise of other rights, including economic rights, privacy, due process, freedom of peaceful assembly and association, and the right to life and bodily integrity.

This isn't the first time the UN weighed in on the digital age. In 2011, it declared Internet access a human right.

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Google announces cut-down Android-based “Brillo” for Internet of Things [Ars Technica]

At its I/O conference today, Google announced its entry into the Internet of Things market with a pair of offerings.

First up is Brillo, an Android-derived operating system for IoT devices. Brillo is smaller and slimmer than Android, providing a kernel, hardware abstraction, connectivity, and security infrastructure. The company didn't talk technical details, so the range of systems-on-chips supported and specific hardware requirements are currently unknown; previous rumors estimated that it would go as low as 32MG or 64MB of RAM, making it a lot smaller than regular Android.

A preview of Brillo should be available in the third quarter.

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Google Photos leaves Google+, launches as a standalone service [Ars Technica]

SAN FRANCISCO—At its I/O keynote, Google announced that Google Photos is now a standalone product. The service has officially been spun off from Google+ and is being billed as a brand new product, according to Google's Anil Sabharwal, and Google hopes the revamp will enable it to better take on the likes of Flickr and Facebook Photos. The new service will be available at photos.google.com.

Google Photos looks a lot like Google plus Photos, just without the Google+ part. There is still tons of cloud storage; pictures are still automatically backed up to the cloud, and Auto-Awesome (though it has been renamed to "Assistant") is still here. That feature still automatically surprises the user by adding funky effects, making panoramas, and creating album slideshows using copies of your pictures.

There are a few new additions however. Google+ Photos has long been able to use image recognition to automatically tag the contents of pictures for search results, but the new service is exposing these computer vision results to users in a more obvious way. Google Photos automatically makes collections of your most-frequently photographed people or objects like "food" or "landscapes." Tapping on a person's face will search for other pictures of that person in your collection. It also relies heavily on gestures to navigate through one's entire timeline, letting the user pinch and zoom out from individual pictures all the way up to a high level view that shows pictures organized by years.

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Android M Dev Preview delivers permission controls, fingerprint API, and more [Ars Technica]

SAN FRANCISCO—The next version of Android is official—Google just announced "Android M" at Google I/O 2015. This isn't a full version of Android; it's a developer preview like "Android L" (which launched at I/O last year). As a dev preview, it will largely be only the core OS, and it isn't suitable for day-to-day use (but try to stop us). It remains a tantalizing look into the future of Android, though, and we expect all of this will hit consumers before the end of the year.

App Ops is back! Permission controls come to Android

The biggest change for developers in Android M will be user-selectable permissions. Currently, Android permissions are an all-or-nothing affair—you give the app the full list of permissions it wants or your don't install it at all. In Android M, Google will be letting users pick and choose which permissions they allow in an app, and the company will provide a control panel for managing permissions.

The system looks a lot like App Ops—Android 4.3's hidden permissions manager—which was promptly removed after it was discovered by users. Just like in App Ops, you pick an app in the permissions manager and you'll get a list of every permission it has access to alongside on-off switches for each. You can also look at apps by permission type if you want to, for instance, see every app with access to your microphone.

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Play Store to add Developer Pages, A/B app listings, and more [Ars Technica]

SAN FRANCISCO—App developers don't really have a home on the Play Store. Their apps have a home, but if developers want to show off what their company is about, they have little more to link to than a list of search results on the Play Store. At Google I/O, Google is looking to remedy this situation with the launch of Developer Pages on Google Play.

Developer pages remind us a lot of YouTube channel pages. Developers get a big banner at the top of the page, a profile icon, and the ability to add text that explains what type of apps they make. Dev pages automatically show a list of apps under the developer's account, but devs can also pick a particular app to feature, which gives them an easy way to promote that new page or app.

Google is also releasing a round of developer console updates that will focus on analytics and improving user conversion and monetization. There will be an "acquisition and conversion" report, which will let developers see where all of their Google Play users are coming from. The report will be split up among arrival sources, like paid links and ads, external links, and organic search traffic. It's like referral analytics for app installs.

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Android M embraces USB Type-C, MIDI devices [Ars Technica]

USB Type-C is still a rarity today, but as the year goes on, the new port is going to begin showing up in more and more devices. In anticipation of this, Google has introduced a handful of features in the Android M release to support some of Type-C's new features.

Google hasn't released a ton of information about the new features, but the most significant ones relate to the USB Power Delivery spec. A menu that pops up when you plug one USB Type-C device to another asks you what kind of connection you're trying to make. The standard MTP and PTP file and photo transfer protocols, available in current versions of Android, are on this list, but the menu will also ask you if you'd like to charge the device or use it as a power supply for another device.

This effectively makes Android M devices with USB Type-C ports into external batteries. Your tablet can charge your phone. Your phone could charge a camera battery or Bluetooth headset. Not every device combination makes sense (using a large laptop or tablet battery to charge a small phone battery seems useful; using a small phone battery to charge anything else seems ill-advised) but for compatible devices, it will be a handy feature.

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Android Pay is all about tokenization; Google Wallet takes a backseat [Ars Technica]

SAN FRANCISCO—On Thursday, Google officially announced a revamped version of Google Wallet called Android Pay. The new Android Pay API will be an open platform that will allow developers to incorporate payments into their Android apps. Customers will be able to pay for things in brick-and-mortar stores via Near Field Communications (NFC) or through apps.

At launch, Android Pay will work in more than 700,000 store locations, although many of them have long accepted Google Wallet, including McDonald's, Macy's, and Whole Foods. The new payments platform will also be integrated into more than 1,000 apps, like Lyft, Domino's, and Etsy, Google said.

"Mobile payments has been a big priority for Google for a while,” a Google representative told Ars in a briefing earlier this week. To drive that point home, Android Pay will be available on all phones running KitKat or higher that also have NFC chips. A Google spokesperson said that seven out of 10 Android phones in use today have NFC capabilities.

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Android M’s “Google Now on Tap” shows contextual info at the press of a button [Ars Technica]

SAN FRANCISCO—Android M is just a developer preview—it only contains changes developers need to concern themselves with— and most of the fancy user-facing stuff is still being kept under wraps. Google is showing off one new feature of the consumer release of Android, though. It's called "Google Now on Tap"—by long-pressing on the home button, you get a contextual pop-up card from Google Now related to whatever is currently on the screen.

If you and a friend are discussing a movie, just long-press the home button to pull up a card with information about the movie, like showtimes and ratings. If you're watching a YouTube video of a famous actor, just call up Google Now to get more information about that person. "We spend a lot of time trying to get answers to quick questions and figuring out next steps, and we wanted to make that a lot easier." Aparna Chennapragada, director of product management at Google, told Ars.

Google's mockups demo the feature working on content in browsers, YouTube, and Foursquare, along with mining context out of conversations in e-mail. It will also work with texts, instant messaging, and music apps. The new feature isn't programmed into individual apps, but it is part of the Android Framework. Google Now on Tap can "read" the screen. Context is determined from the Android text fields and view hierarchy, and as long as developers don't completely go crazy by developing their own method of displaying text or something, the contextual feature should work.

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Google announces the “Cloud Test Lab,” a free, automated testing service [Ars Technica]

SAN FRANCISCO—Making sure an Android app works correctly on the thousands of different Android devices out there can be daunting for developers. Any given device can have a different Android version, screen resolution, aspect ratio, and performance envelope when compared to another. There are lots of Android testing services out there that aim to help with this problem, but Google is finally going to offer a first-party option to developers though the Play Store developer console.

Today at Google I/O, Google announced the "Cloud Test Lab," an in-house Android app testing service. Submit your app to the developer console staging channel and Google will perform automated testing on the Top 20 Android devices from around the world. The "Top 20" tier is free, though Google plans to eventually expand the service to more than the top 20 devices through a paid service.

The service will allow developers to "walk through" their apps on the selected devices, and if they run into any crashes, they'll get a video of the app before the crash and a crash log to help them debug things. Google says the service will help catch layout issues and show-stopping bugs and allow developers to spot bugs with low-RAM devices.

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Good news for game devs: Android Studio 1.3 supports Android’s C/C++ NDK [Ars Technica]

It was two years ago at Google I/O 2013 that the company originally announced Android Studio, a new integrated development environment (IDE) for Android apps. Six months ago, Google announced that the product was ready to move out of beta, but Android Studio 1.0 still couldn't do all of the things that the old Eclipse ADT could do. Most notably, developers that used Google's Native Development Kit (NDK) to use C and C++ code in their apps were left out in the cold.

Today, Google has announced Android Studio 1.3, a new version of the IDE with built-in support for the NDK. Google says the plugin is based on the JetBrains CLion platform and that it will be available free of charge to all Android developers.

Writing Android apps in Java has obvious advantages, portability chief among them. The Dalvik and ART runtime environments can compile that Java bytecode to run on any one of several processor architectures, so developers can write code once that will run on Android devices using 32-bit and 64-bit ARM, x86, and MIPS CPU architectures. That said, the NDK has its own advantages—certain types of CPU-bound tasks run faster as native code, and developers with apps on more than one platform can reuse portions of C and C++ code in their Android apps (the NDK allows C and C++ code to coexist with Java code).

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Google’s Android M preview build will run on the Nexus 5, 6, 9, and Player [Ars Technica]

The final release of Android M won't be here until this fall, but the good news for developers and other adventurous users is that Google is distributing early developer preview builds for a handful of Nexus devices. The company tells us that it will provide Android M Developer Preview images for the Nexus 5 and Nexus 6 smartphones, the Nexus 9 tablet, and the Nexus Player set-top box.

As with last year's L preview, that support list may expand for the final consumer release. The 2012 and 2013 Nexus 7, Nexus 4, and Nexus 10 have all been upgraded to Android 5.1 and could theoretically make the move to Android M. That said, the original Nexus 7, the Nexus 4, and the Nexus 10 are all getting a little long in the tooth, and it wouldn't be surprising for Google to drop support for any or all of them.

Google says it has learned a couple of lessons from the L preview last year. First, it will "provide a clear timeline" for the update, something the company has been pretty bad about even with the Nexus, Android One, and Android Wear devices it updates directly—updates go out at different dates to different devices, which can be especially annoying if you bought Nexus hardware specifically for testing new Android versions. The company will also provide more updates to the preview build, something it didn't do much of last year.

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HBO Now coming to Android [Ars Technica]

During Thursday's I/O keynote address, Google Senior VP Sundar Pichai confirmed that HBO's standalone pay service, HBO Now, will soon be available "across Android and on devices using Cast."

Pichai actually described HBO Now, the subscription service that unlocks full HBO streaming options for viewers who don't subscribe to cable, as being available "now," but a cursory search of the Google Play store didn't bring up any results just yet, and he didn't go into detail as to when exactly it would launch or whether its price would differ from the $15 per month it cost when it launched exclusively on Apple devices in April.

"You can watch your favorite episodes of Game of Thrones, the upcoming True Detective season, or maybe even your favorite episode of Silicon Valley," Pichai told the I/O crowd. He then joked, "I hope this moment doesn't make it in there."

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Twitch bans streaming of games rated “Adults Only” by ESRB [Ars Technica]

Popular video game streaming service (and Amazon subsidiary) Twitch has updated its rules of conduct to prohibit the streaming of games rated AO (Adults Only) by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). "Simply put, AO games are not welcome on Twitch," the site said in an official blog post.

The update is a clarification of previous game-specific bans Twitch placed on streaming of titles that featured "overtly sexual content" or "gratuitous violence." That system was "unsustainable and unclear, generating only further confusion among Twitch broadcasters," the company said in its blog post last night. "We would like to make this policy as transparent as possible." Players breaking the ban will receive a temporary suspension.

Twitch's new policy comes ahead of the impending release of Hatred, a controversial shooter that received an AO rating back in January, according to developer Destructive Creations. In fact, Hatred is one of three AO-rated games specifically called out on Twitch's list of prohibited games, alongside Manhunt 2: Uncut and Farenheit: Indigo Prophecy - Director's Cut.

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Knots of material seen merging in the jets of a supermassive black hole [Ars Technica]

Black holes of pretty much any mass can generate jets of material that shoot from their poles. These jets are so incredibly energetic that they can accelerate charged particles to a significant fraction of the speed of light. It’s still not known for sure how the particles in those jets get so much energy and hence move so fast.

One popular hypothesis is the "internal shock" model, which posits that the jets are uneven and lumpy and that some particles are moving faster than others. As a result, those particles will eventually catch up with the slower ones and collide with them. These collisions not only allow energy to be transferred through the jet, but they also allow the jets to have a magnetic field, which can further accelerate charged particles.

A number of observations seem to validate this model, but it has been difficult to observe the process in action and see what makes the jets “tick.” But now, a research team led by Eileen T. Meyer of the Space Telescope Science Institute has gotten a better look at some jets. Using the Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys, the team observed the nearby radio galaxy 3C 264, which is home to a supermassive black hole with impressive jets.

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Xbox One controller could get a standard 3.5mm headphone jack in June [Ars Technica]

The standard 3.5mm headphone jack has been one of our favorite features on the PlayStation 4, letting us easily pump game and chat audio through standard headsets without the need for proprietary connectors. Now it looks like Microsoft may be aping this feature with an updated controller that could launch as soon as next month.

Last night, the Internet at large noticed an update to the controller description page on the Xbox Support site, which included mention of a new "3.5-mm port" located right next to the current "expansion port" on the bottom of the controller. The new jack is "used to connect compatible 3.5-mm audio devices" and is "only available on controllers released after June 2015," according to the listing.

As of this morning, the support page in question has been reverted to remove any mention of the 3.5mm jack, but the info is still available on Google's cache of the page (screenshotted above for posterity).

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Capcom pulls bug-ridden PS4 Ultra Street Fighter IV from tournament [Ars Technica]

Capcom's not been having the best time with the recently released PlayStation 4 version of Ultra Street Fighter IV. Despite garnering some positive reviews, the professional fighting game community—many of whom are planning to compete in Capcom's own Capcom Pro Tour tournament—have been less than impressed with the port. Numerous videos of the game have been published to YouTube, showcasing a raft of bugs, glitches, and performance issues that would have a detrimental effect on tournament play.

"I am so mad right now. We got ripped off and were forced to buy this as tournament competitors. I don't see myself playing this unless patch," reads a tweet from just one of a string of disgruntled players.

The problems are so bad that Capcom has decided to pull the PS4 version of the game from the rest of its 2015 Pro Tour. The even larger EVO tournament, which features SFIV as well as games like Super Smash Bros. Melee, Mortal Kombat X, and Tekken 7, is also considering its options. Joey Cuellar, a founding member of the EVO tournament, tweeted: "We are currently evaluating what system to put USF4 on at Evo 2015. Please be patient!"

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Human-AI echoborgs make chatbots more real, but still fail Turing test [Ars Technica]

Artificial intelligence research is still quite far from developing chatbots that seem convincingly human. But how much does the delivery of the chatbot’s chat affect the result? What would happen if chatbot responses were delivered by a real human?

Researchers at the London School of Economics and Political Science have designed a series of experiments that test whether human delivery makes a difference in how people perceive an artificial intelligence system. The experiments, published last week in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, investigated this problem by using an “echoborg.” This is a person who acts as a human front for a chatbot: they say out loud the chatbot’s response to each input.

The echoborg is an artificial intelligence-themed adaptation of the “cyranoid” technique used in various psychology experiments, which sees one person shadow the speech of another. It turns out that shadowing speech (repeating exactly what someone else has said, while someone else is saying it) isn’t very hard for people. They’re able to do it with a delay of only a few hundred milliseconds, and they even automatically mimic features of the original speech like stress and pitch. This means that shadowed speech doesn’t sound noticeably different from the real thing.

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The tech that’s putting women in EA’s FIFA games for the first time [Ars Technica]

A promotional video announcing the coming introduction of women's international teams in FIFA 16.

This morning, Electronic Arts announced that this year’s version of its FIFA soccer franchise would be the first ever to include female players. Twelve international women’s teams will be added to the game for FIFA 16 after over 20 years of the games featuring only male players.

At a preview event for the game, FIFA Senior Producer Nick Shannon told Ars that the change is “one of the most important additions, in my opinion, we've ever made. I'm the father of two daughters who both play soccer, and for them, this is probably the best feature we've ever added."

While adding women’s teams is “something we've talked about doing for a while,” Shannon said the developers were waiting on the technology needed to capture female players properly in the game. “The key for us was when we brought it into the game, we had to bring it in properly, and we needed some supporting technology to be able to do that... We've been looking each year as to 'can we do it' and comparing to priorities at the time as well. Once the technologies were in place, we could do it properly.”

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The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt review—hunting fiends for fun and forever [Ars Technica]

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the slowest of slow burns. Developer CD Projekt Red has stated that it would take something like 200 hours to play through absolutely everything the unprecedentedly dense open world has to offer. After spending about 50 hours with the game since its release last week, I easily believe that.

Even ignoring the massive number of side quests, though, the primary story line demands a commitment on par with an earlier era of role-playing games, when AAA development wasn't nearly so cost-prohibitive. Wild Hunt definitely leaves its big budget on the screen with gorgeous characters and environments that impress even in their grim greyness.

The Witcher universe was already dark and politically charged in the novels that inspired the games, which date back long before Game of Thrones made the jump to HBO. Still, The Witcher 3 reflects evident influence from that TV series. The crackling, fiery bombast that kicked off The Witcher 2 has been muted significantly this time around. High fantasy concepts that have been pillars of the previous two games—mages turning each other into statues, elves and dwarfs fighting for equality, spectral battlefields—are held far, far back now.

That's not to say those elements aren't present. In some respects, Wild Hunt's conglomeration of the sci-fi and fantasy genres is handled more deftly than ever. In the game's early hours (which feel like they drag on a bit), events are very much focused on the more personal story of Geralt of Rivia, the monster slaying witcher of the title. Geralt is searching for his adopted daughter/protégé from the novels: Ciri.

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Oculus CEO: Consumer Rift and a suitable PC will cost about $1,500 [Ars Technica]

As Oculus nears its recently announced "Q1 2016" launch of the consumer version of its Oculus Rift headset, the company has remained tight-lipped about specifically how much it will charge for the hardware. Today, Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe gave the biggest hint yet of that price: a complete Rift system, including a computer that can power the experience, should cost about $1,500.

"We are looking at an all-in price, if you have to go out and actually need to buy a new computer and you’re going to buy the Rift … at most you should be in that $1,500 range," Iribe said during an interview at the Re/code conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.

That number may seem less than useful for users who already have a high-powered gaming rig, but we can start to hazard some guesses at the price of the headset alone. That's because, earlier this month, Oculus announced the recommended minimum hardware specs for a PC tower that can power the upcoming consumer headset.

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New Zealand man convicted of laser strike, receives no prison time [Ars Technica]

An Auckland man who was convicted for firing a laser pointer at an Air New Zealand airliner has been sentenced to 12 months of "supervision" (roughly equivalent to probation in the American judicial system) and 100 hours of community service, according to the New Zealand Herald.

The sentence marks a distinct difference between the judicial systems of New Zealand and the United States, where prosecutors have been fairly aggressive in seeking and receiving years of jail time for the same offense.

Many of the laser strike cases that have resulted in plea deals in the US resulted in two to three years of prison time. In 2014, a federal court in Fresno, California, sentenced a man to 14 years in prison in March 2014—believed to be the harshest such sentence anywhere in the world.

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How to mine Bitcoin on a 55-year-old IBM 1401 mainframe [Ars Technica]

Could an IBM mainframe from the 1960s mine Bitcoin? The idea seemed crazy, so I decided to find out. I implemented the Bitcoin hash algorithm in assembly code for the IBM 1401 and tested it on a working vintage mainframe. It turns out that this computer could mine, but so slowly it would take more than the lifetime of the universe to successfully mine a block. While modern hardware can compute billions of hashes per second, the 1401 takes 80 seconds to compute a single hash. This illustrates the improvement of computer performance in the past decades, most famously described by Moore's Law.

The photo below shows the card deck I used, along with the output of my SHA-256 hash program as printed by the line printer. (The card on the front of the deck is just for decoration; it was a huge pain to punch.) Note that the second line of output ends with a bunch of zeros; this indicates a successful hash.

How Bitcoin mining works

Bitcoin, a digital currency that can be transmitted across the Internet, has attracted a lot of attention. If you're not familiar with how it works, the Bitcoin system can be thought of as a ledger that keeps track of who owns which bitcoins, and it allows these to be transferred from one person to another. The interesting thing about Bitcoin is there's no central machine or authority keeping track of things. Instead, the records are spread across thousands of machines on the Internet.

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Photo - Comforting Smile, Continuing Promise [BLACKFIVE]

Dr. Judith Brill comforts a Nicaraguan patient in the post-operating room aboard the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort during Continuing Promise 2015 in the Caribbean Sea, May 18, 2015. Continuing Promise conducts civil-military operations, including humanitarian-civil assistance, subject matter expert exchanges, and medical, dental, veterinary and engineering support to partner nations. Brill is a physician volunteering with Operation Smile, a nongovernmental organization. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Lance Hartung

Rise of the Machines [Annoyed Librarian]

The question that has been on all our minds can now be answered with scientific certainty: will your job be done by a machine in the future? Sure, there are probably other pressing questions that librarians and librarians manque ponder obsessively over. Will I get a job? Why does this job suck so much? Why […]

You’re on Your Own: How the Government Wants Canadians To Sacrifice Their Personal Security [Michael Geist]

Another week, another revelation originating from the seemingly unlimited trove of Edward Snowden documents. Last week, the CBC reported that Canada was among several countries whose surveillance agencies actively exploited security vulnerabilities in a popular mobile web browser used by hundreds of millions of people. Rather than alerting the company and the public that the software was leaking personal information, they viewed the security gaps as a surveillance opportunity.

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that in the days before Snowden, these reports would have sparked a huge uproar. More than half a billion people around the world use UC Browser, the mobile browser in question, suggesting that this represents a massive security leak. At stake was information related to users’ identity, communication activities, and location data – all accessible to telecom companies, network providers, and surveillance agencies.

Yet coming on the heels of global revelations of surveillance of network exchange points and Internet giants along with Canadian disclosures of daily mass surveillance of millions of Internet downloads and airport wireless networks, nothing surprises anymore. Instead, there is a resigned belief that privacy on the network has been lost to surveillance agencies who use every measure at their disposal to monitor or gather virtually all communications.

While the surveillance stories become blurred over time, there is an important distinction with the latest reports. The public has long been told that sacrificing some privacy may be part of a necessary trade-off to provide effective security. However, by failing to safeguard the security of more than 500 million mobile users, the Five Eyes surveillance agencies – Canada, the U.S., U.K., Australia, and New Zealand – have sent the message that the public must perversely sacrifice their personal security as well.

Agencies charged with identifying potential security threats believe protecting individual security is not part of their mandate. According to Christian Leuprecht, a Royal Military College professor, “the fact that certain channels and devices are vulnerable is not ultimately the problem of signals intelligence.”

In other words, you’re on your own.

With Internet providers such as Bell refusing to issue transparency reports about when they disclose subscriber information and major telecom equipment companies such as Samsung the target of surveillance agencies (the revelations also disclosed that the agencies explored hacking into Samsung and Google app stores), the corporate community is at best powerless and at worst complicit in the surveillance activities.

Meanwhile, government agencies have abdicated responsibility for safeguarding user security and the government itself has steadfastly opposed any improved oversight of Canadian surveillance agencies, leaving Canada with one of the weakest oversight regimes in the developed world.

What to do in the face of a wide array of surveillance initiatives in which almost anything is viewed as fair game?

The most important self-help step for Canadians is to make encryption a standard part of their communications practices. Encryption is not perfect, but it creates a significant barrier against mass surveillance. The result provides privacy and security for users, while forcing agencies to consider whether to deploy additional tools to crack the communications. In other words, mundane messages are protected, while those associated with a reasonable suspicion of a threat may still be targeted.

Individual encryption is a good start, but more is needed. Many websites and web-based email services still do not offer encryption and therefore leave their users vulnerable to snooping agencies. Pressuring the Internet giants to adopt encryption – or at least offer the option of encryption – is a necessity.

Furthermore, political and policy solutions cannot be abandoned. Bill C-51 generated significant public concern, though most of the focus was on new surveillance agency powers. Even without the changes, there remains a clear need for better oversight and rules based on the principle that Canadians cannot possibly feel secure if their own government views security vulnerabilities as creating an opportunity to exploit rather than an obligation to safeguard.

The post You’re on Your Own: How the Government Wants Canadians To Sacrifice Their Personal Security appeared first on Michael Geist.

Your Government is Spying on You Online. Here’s What You Can Do About It [Michael Geist]

Appeared in the Toronto Star on May 23, 2015 as Your Government is Spying on You Online. Here’s What You Can Do About It

Another week, another revelation originating from the seemingly unlimited trove of Edward Snowden documents. Last week, the CBC reported that Canada was among several countries whose surveillance agencies actively exploited security vulnerabilities in a popular mobile web browser used by hundreds of millions of people. Rather than alerting the company and the public that the software was leaking personal information, they viewed the security gaps as a surveillance opportunity.

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that in the days before Snowden, these reports would have sparked a huge uproar. More than half a billion people around the world use UC Browser, the mobile browser in question, suggesting that this represents a massive security leak. At stake was information related to users’ identity, communication activities, and location data – all accessible to telecom companies, network providers, and surveillance agencies.

Yet coming on the heels of global revelations of surveillance of network exchange points and Internet giants along with Canadian disclosures of daily mass surveillance of millions of Internet downloads and airport wireless networks, nothing surprises anymore. Instead, there is a resigned belief that privacy on the network has been lost to surveillance agencies who use every measure at their disposal to monitor or gather virtually all communications.

While the surveillance stories become blurred over time, there is an important distinction with the latest reports. The public has long been told that sacrificing some privacy may be part of a necessary trade-off to provide effective security. However, by failing to safeguard the security of more than 500 million mobile users, the Five Eyes surveillance agencies – Canada, the U.S., U.K., Australia, and New Zealand – have sent the message that the public must perversely sacrifice their personal security as well.

Agencies charged with identifying potential security threats believe protecting individual security is not part of their mandate. According to Christian Leuprecht, a Royal Military College professor, “the fact that certain channels and devices are vulnerable is not ultimately the problem of signals intelligence.”

In other words, you’re on your own.

With Internet providers such as Bell refusing to issue transparency reports about when they disclose subscriber information and major telecom equipment companies such as Samsung the target of surveillance agencies (the revelations also disclosed that the agencies explored hacking into Samsung and Google app stores), the corporate community is at best powerless and at worst complicit in the surveillance activities.

Meanwhile, government agencies have abdicated responsibility for safeguarding user security and the government itself has steadfastly opposed any improved oversight of Canadian surveillance agencies, leaving Canada with one of the weakest oversight regimes in the developed world.

What to do in the face of a wide array of surveillance initiatives in which almost anything is viewed as fair game?

The most important self-help step for Canadians is to make encryption a standard part of their communications practices. Encryption is not perfect, but it creates a significant barrier against mass surveillance. The result provides privacy and security for users, while forcing agencies to consider whether to deploy additional tools to crack the communications. In other words, mundane messages are protected, while those associated with a reasonable suspicion of a threat may still be targeted.

Individual encryption is a good start, but more is needed. Many websites and web-based email services still do not offer encryption and therefore leave their users vulnerable to snooping agencies. Pressuring the Internet giants to adopt encryption – or at least offer the option of encryption – is a necessity.

Furthermore, political and policy solutions cannot be abandoned. Bill C-51 generated significant public concern, though most of the focus was on new surveillance agency powers. Even without the changes, there remains a clear need for better oversight and rules based on the principle that Canadians cannot possibly feel secure if their own government views security vulnerabilities as creating an opportunity to exploit rather than an obligation to safeguard.

The post Your Government is Spying on You Online. Here’s What You Can Do About It appeared first on Michael Geist.

Why The Copyright Board Decision Affirms Canadian Education’s Approach to Fair Dealing [Michael Geist]

The Copyright Board of Canada delivered a devastating defeat to Access Copyright on Friday, releasing its decision on a tariff for copying by employees of provincial governments. Yesterday’s post provided a detailed review of the decision, including the Board’s findings on the limits of Access Copyright’s repertoire, the scope of insubstantial copying, and the proper interpretation of fair dealing.

The decision focused on copying within provincial and territorial governments, but much of the analysis can be easily applied within an education context. Indeed, since the Supreme Court of Canada 2012 copyright decisions, there has been a very public battle over the validity of fair dealing guidelines that have been widely adopted by the Canadian education community.  I’ve written several posts on the education consensus (here and here) and there are no shortage of the fair dealing guidelines readily available online.

Access Copyright has argued that “these new policies authorize and encourage copying based on a definition of ‘fair dealing’ that is not supported by the law. Instead, they represent what some of the education sector’s lawyers and administrators would like the law to be.” It filed a lawsuit against York University over its guidelines, claiming that the policy is unfair.

The Copyright Board’s decision puts to rest many of Access Copyright’s claims, confirming that all three branches of Canadian copyright are consistent on the issue of fair dealing: the legislature (2012 reforms that expanded fair dealing), the courts (the SCC pentalogy decisions that strongly endorsed fair dealing as a user right), and now the Copyright Board. Having rejected virtually all of Access Copyright’s arguments, the education community will look to the Board’s decision for additional guidance on fair dealing and confirmation that its approach is consistent with Canadian law.

The Board decision identifies a two-step process for users seeking to determine whether a licence is needed to use a work (in addition to public domain and open licensing considerations). First, users should consider whether the amount copied is insubstantial. If so, no further analysis is needed as no copyright event is triggered. The Board states that insubstantial copying is 1 to 2 pages of a work, not constituting more than 2.5 percent of the entire work. In other words, where two pages are copied from a work of 80 pages or more, or one page is copied from a work of 40 pages or more, the copying is insubstantial and not compensable.

Second, if more is copied, fair dealing may apply. As is well known, fair dealing involves a two-step test. The first is whether the dealing or use is for an appropriate purpose. This requires one of the purposes in the Act: research, private study, news reporting, criticism, review, education, parody, or satire. The Board states that in assessing this part of the test, all purposes receive a large and liberal interpretation. Moreover, the qualifying purpose need not be the predominant purpose (ie. there may be multiple purposes behind the dealing or use and the main one does not need to be one of the statutory purposes). So long as one of the purposes is found in the statute, the usage qualifies for the first part of the test. The Board also ruled that the purpose is that of the individual user, not the larger organization.

The second part of the test involves a six factor analysis to determine whether the dealing is more or less fair.  The Board offers some additional insights into each of these factors:

1.    Purpose

The Board characterized purpose in this part of the test as “goal” of the dealing. It confirmed that the purpose or goal may be for the benefit of someone else. It also ruled that there can be multiple goals or purposes without an impact on the fairness of the dealing.

2.    Character

The Board rejected an “aggregate” approach to determine the character of any particular dealing. It also confirmed that the correct approach is to examine the amount of copying by the individual copier, not the organization as a whole since the “dealings of one user should not tend to make the independent dealings of another user less fair.” It added that not destroying a copy after it is used does not favour unfairness.

3.    Amount

The Board provided some numbers to gauge whether the amount copied is fair. It stated that approximately 10 percent of a book in the context of research or private study tends toward fairness. Moreover, it accepted that an entire newspaper, journal or magazine article may have to be copied for the purpose of research or private study. Where an entire article was copied for the purpose of research or private study, while the amount of the dealing factor tends towards unfairness, it does not do so strongly. This analysis is consistent with the education fair dealing guidelines.

4.    Alternatives

The Board stated that alternatives to the dealing must be realistic and must not simply be the availability of a licence. It characterized Access Copyright’s claim that the availability of any alternative tended toward unfairness as “overly simplistic.” The Board acknowledged that “where a copy of a work has already been purchased, it may not be realistic to expect that a copy be purchased for every person who seeks to make a copy thereof.” Further, “the option of acquiring a one-time licence was not counted as a valid alternative.”

5.    Nature

Access Copyright argued that dealing with published works tends to make the dealing unfair. The Board disagreed. It noted that the works in question were published, but that “the natures of the works in this matter do not tend to make the dealing more or less fair. On the one hand, they are published works, and are not of a nature where further dissemination without the dealing is unlikely. On the other hand, they are not private writings where such dissemination could be undesirable.”

6.    Effect of the Dealing

Access Copyright argued that every dealing with a copyrighted work will be one where there was an opportunity for the copyright owner of the work to sell a one-time right to license that use. The Board continued the Supreme Court’s insistence that there be actual evidence of economic harm in order to assess the effect of the dealing. In this case, it noted that “no direct evidence that would permit us to ascertain with any certainty the effect of the dealing captured by the Volume Study on the works that were reproduced, and given that relying on aspects that have already been considered under other factors could have the effect of erasing proportionality from the fairness analysis, we find that this factor neither tends to make the dealings in the Volume Study more fair nor less fair.”

Access Copyright may seek judicial review of the decision (effectively appealing it), yet the ruling is based on a meticulous analysis of existing Canadian caselaw and largely upholds the position of the Canadian education community on fair dealing. For Access Copyright, the solution to its problems does not lie in further litigation nor in making claims based on what it would like the law to be. Rather, it comes from rapidly changing its business model to reflect what Parliament, the Supreme Court, and now the Copyright Board have ruled with respect to fair dealing.

The post Why The Copyright Board Decision Affirms Canadian Education’s Approach to Fair Dealing appeared first on Michael Geist.

Rape Culture Update [The Other McCain]

Guarantee no feminist will take notice of this story: A Centreville man has been charged with breaking into a home and inappropriately touching a 6-year-old girl who was sleeping girl inside, Fairfax County police said. Josue Felipe Velasco Santiago, 19, of the 14000 block of Golden Oak Road was arrested May 27 following the incident […]

The Naïvietê of a ‘Skeptic’ [The Other McCain]

@The_SkepDick is a partisan Democrat masquerading as an objective observer, which is to say that he is no different than about 90% of American journalists except for the fact that he is just an anonymous troll account on the Internet and not a multimillionaire celebrity like George Stephanopoulos, but I digress . . . @The_SkepDick posted […]

The Dictatorship of Godless Perverts [The Other McCain]

@GretaChristina is a middle-aged bisexual feminist cat lady atheist blogger. Wait — no, I have not verified that she and her wife Ingrid Nelson actually own cats, but what are the odds, right? However, there is no need to speculate about Greta Christina’s feminism, her atheism or her role as “co-founder and co-organizer of Godless Perverts.” […]

On Bernie Sanders, spray deodorants, innovation, and child poverty [AEI » Pethokoukis]

In my new The Week column, I look at the Bernie Sanders charge — one also leveled by Elizabeth Warren — that the US economy is an immoral, rigged game. (A funny thing to say, I think, about an economy that produces more billionaire entrepreneurs than any other large, advanced economy.) Another stellar effort by me, of course. Yet on second thought, I sort of wish I had focused on this bit of odd economic analysis by socialist Sanders:

You don’t necessarily need a choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants or of 18 different pairs of sneakers when children are hungry in this country. I don’t think the media appreciates the kind of stress that ordinary Americans are working on.

The WaPo’s Jim Tankersley writes that the “literal implication of that last sentence is that there some kind of a national trade-off between antiperspirant/Air Jordan variety and food for children.” Which of course is silly. Demos’ Matt Bruenig thinks there is a deeper point that Tankersley misses: “Whenever someone argues that we should distribute the national income more evenly so as to reduce poverty and inequality (as Sanders does), the very first thing someone says in response is that doing so will reduce growth and innovation. Sanders is mocking this argument, saying he’d gladly cut poverty and inequality even if it meant a reduction in superficial product innovation.”

Again, I am not sure why you would have to micromanage product innovation to reduce child poverty. You could just fatten the Earned Income Tax Credit, for instance, and pay for it by limiting high-end tax expenditures like mortgage interest and health exclusion. But, of course, what this is really about is Scandinavia. Isn’t it always? Bruenig:

It’s harder to know exactly who is the “most innovative,” but to the extent that people try to create such measures, these countries always do quite well. In the most recent iteration of the Global Innovation Index, Sweden (3rd) and Finland (4th) rank ahead of the US (6th) while Denmark (8th) and Norway (14th) are nearby. If entrepreneurship is what gets you excited, then note that, in the years for which there is comparable data, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark have higher enterprise birth rates (percent of companies in a year that are start ups) than the US, though Norway has a lower rate. So, despite a tax level double ours and very generous welfare benefits, these egalitarian countries do not suffer for growth, innovation or entrepreneurship. Although Bernie is amusingly (and reasonably) skeptical of the value of the innovation that high poverty and inequality is supposed to bring us, it’s also true that you can have high levels of innovation and egalitarianism at the same time.

For a different view, here are economists Daron Acemoglu, James Robinson, and Thierry Verdier from their paper “Can’t We All Be More Like Scandinavians?”:

We cannot all be like the Scandinavians, because Scandinavian capitalism depends in part on the knowledge spillovers created by the more cutthroat American capitalism. … Some countries will opt for a type of cutthroat capitalism that generates greater inequality and more innovation and will become the technology leaders, while others will free-ride on the cutthroat incentives of the leaders and choose a more cuddly form of capitalism.

And the 90% top tax rate that doesn’t seem to both Sanders is a lot higher than what they have in Scandinavia these days. More on the Scandinavia issue in my post, “On the left’s dream of turning America into Scandinavia.”  It’s also worth noting that some economists see innovation as driving consumer demand, not the other way around. From economist Rick Szostak ( via Ashwin Parameswaran):

While in the short run government spending and investment have a role to play, in the long run it is per capita consumption that must rise in order for increases in per capita output to be sustained…..the reason that we consume many times more than our great-grandparents is not to be found for the most part in our consumption of greater quantities of the same items which they purchased…The bulk of the increase in consumption expenditures, however, has gone towards goods and services those not-too-distant forebears had never heard of, or could not dream of affording….Would we as a society of consumers/workers have striven as hard to achieve our present incomes if our consumption bundle had only deepened rather than widened? Hardly. It should be clear to all that the tremendous increase in per capita consumption in the past century would not have been possible if not for the introduction of a wide range of different products. Consumers do not consume a composite good X. Rather, they consume a variety of goods, and at some point run into a steeply declining marginal utility from each. As writers as diverse as Galbraith and Marshall have noted, if declining marginal utility exists with respect to each good it holds over the whole basket of goods as well…..The simple fact is that, in the absence of the creation of new goods, aggregate demand can be highly inelastic, and thus falling prices will have little effect on output.

The post On Bernie Sanders, spray deodorants, innovation, and child poverty appeared first on AEI.

Report: US startup activity heads higher for the first time since 2010 [AEI » Pethokoukis]

Some apparent good news regarding America’s entrepreneurial dynamism — and the health of the US economy. The Kauffman Foundation’s Index of Entrepreneurship — which incorporate factors such as the monthly share of adults starting a business and the share of new entrepreneurs driven by “opportunity” versus “necessity” — has reversed a multi-year downward trend. From a new report:

Reversing a downward cycle that began in 2010, U.S. startup activity ascended last year, according to the 2015 Kauffman Index: Startup Activity. National business creation findings were released today, and state and metropolitan data will be released June 4. Over the past two decades, the Startup Activity Index generally has risen or fallen in tandem with the business cycle – up in the 1990s expansionary period and plummeting as the Great Recession took hold. The entrepreneurial activity increase in the 2015 Index represents the largest year-over-year increase in the last two decades, giving rise to hope for a revival of entrepreneurship; however, the return remains tepid and well below historical trends. 

In the 2015 Index, 310 out of 100,000 adults, or 0.31 percent, started new businesses each month, on average. In the 2014 Index, the average was 0.28 percent of the adult population. “This rebound in entrepreneurial activity lines up with the strength we’ve seen in other economic indicators, and should generate hope for further economic expansion,” said Dane Stangler, vice president of Research and Policy at the Kauffman Foundation. “But, it’s important to view this short-term uptick in context of the bigger picture – we are still in a long-term decline of activity, which affects job creation, innovation and economic growth.”
Opportunity entrepreneurs, those who were not unemployed and not looking for a job before they started their new ventures, was 79.6 percent of the total number of new entrepreneurs. This number represented an increase over the 2014 Index, and was substantially higher than in the 2010 Index, when the number of opportunity entrepreneurs was at the lowest rate since the Kauffman Foundation began collecting this data in 1996.  “Startup density, or the number of new employer businesses by total population, increased from 128.8, or 128.8 for every 100,000 people, to 130.6 in the Startup Activity calculations from 2014 to 2015. Though startup density is climbing, it remains well below typical historical rates.
Good news. But I would also like to know more about what kinds of businesses are being started and why. How many businesses are being created with the hopes of becoming very big and very profitable? The Kauffman study notes “it is impossible to cleanly disaggregate between the creation of high-growth potential businesses and individuals starting businesses because of limited job opportunities.”
But the index tries to get at that  issue by examining the share of new entrepreneurs coming out of unemployment versus to the share of the new entrepreneurs coming out of “wage and salary work, school, or other labor market statuses.” That refers to the “opportunity” versus “necessity” distinction I mention above. The study notes, however: “The distinction is not perfect because many successful businesses are created by people who have lost their jobs and are unemployed, but the distinction offers at least some suggestive evidence on the influence of economic conditions on overall business creation.”

The post Report: US startup activity heads higher for the first time since 2010 appeared first on AEI.

BALTI-MOROS [halls of macadamia]

Remember... if a black man says it... it can't be racist...halls of macadamia/

Neighbors who spoke to WJZ didn’t want to be identified for fear of retaliation. “If you say something to these young people they’re ready to take your head off.”
**********

RELATED: "Big Firearms" best friend

Never mind ISIS in Iraq... President Ipromise I'llpullout can't even stop the war in Washington, DC...
Six people were shot in Washington, D.C., over an 8-hour period stretching from Sunday night to early Monday, including one man killed in Northeast and three people injured in two separate robbery attempts in the Brightwood neighborhood in Northwest.
And...
Police Chief James Craig said at a Tuesday media conference that he’d avoid getting gas late at night in the city unless he had to, and he urged residents to be careful at the pump, according to Tom Greenwood of The Detroit News.

Craig’s commented after a driver was killed early Monday evening while trying to flee a carjackihg attempt at an east-side gas station.
By now, everybody knows that sales of firearms and ammunition have surged nationwide under the Obama administration. Coupled with Obama's unrestrained, divisive racial pot-stirring (Skip Gates, Trayvon Martin & Michael Brown), it pushes middle America down the road to increasing civil unrest.

The "Walk in the Woods" trailer. [Althouse]

This just came out today:



I'm excited about it — even though I almost never go to the movies — because I love the book and because I love the actress who plays Mary Ellen (a secondary character in the book, a hilariously annoying woman). The actress is Kristen Schaal. I know her from "Flight of the Conchords" — she was the band's only fan — but you may know her as Hazel Wassername from "30 Rock."

Watch it with me: George Pataki announces his bid for the GOP nomination. [Althouse]



1. Blowy curtains looking out from a high level onto New York City = vague reminder of 9/11. George Pataki was governor of New York when the attacks occurred. The camera advances and the the white curtains — ghosts of the past — move out of view and we look on the city ≈ we recovered from 9/11, with the help of George Petaki.

2. We see the dramatically shadowed face of Pataki, talking about "our uncertain future." He's wearing a zip-up windbreaker, an open-collared plaid shirt, and a grim expression. Blurred in the background is a painting of a sunrise... or sunset... which? I don't know. The future is uncertain.

3. "We are founded on a miracle — a heroic past." He's back to the past, much further in the past than 9/11, and he's back to the window. It's evening... or is it dawn? I don't know. The future is uncertain. He's putting on a tie. Going to work? For us? The view is out over the city again. NYC, I assume. He's got a nice apartment. Makes me wonder what he's been up to since he stopped being governor 9 years ago. (Wikipedia says he's a lawyer at Chadbourne & Parke, concentrating on renewable energy.)

4. Speaking of "courage," the "God-given liberty of the human spirit," and "inventors, visionaries, and heroes," he's tying his shoes. It's a closeup. Could just be stock footage. I don't want to mislead you. Anyway, you know inventors, visionaries, and heroes do put their shoes on in the morning... or when they're going out for the evening. Whichever. Now, Pataki is putting on a tie — a blue tie — and some lady is helping him. Not to the point of tying it for him. Petaki is a man who ties his shoes and his tie. We see his nice apartment again. He's used his God-given liberty well, I presume.

5. Now, we see rain on a windshield of a car and Pataki intones about Washington — "too big," "too intrusive." That's "exactly what the Founding Fathers feared." There's a close-up of Pataki's face as he says with some emphasis that it's time to protect our freedom and "take back this government." He tells us he was a Republican governor in a "deep blue state" for 3 terms. (That one-ups Scott Walker, who's only completed one term as governor, in a not-all-that-blue state.)

6. But he started small. He was the mayor of Peekskill. We see him walking on a stone jetty. 1:27: DOGS!!! 2 Labradors. Black and chocolate. He's scratching the ears of the chocolate. The dog kisses him. He cares about people. We see nice, smiling people. This is the I'm-a-normal-person part of the video. Cares about people like you. He tells people in a bar that they're what we need to make this country work. They give him enthusiastic applause... right after he says "And lunch is on me."

7. Views of the rebuilt World Trade Center site. "When we stand together, we can accomplish anything." That's what he saw after 9/11, when we understood that "We are all Americans." We see more high views of the city and this time we see the Freedom Tower (from Tower 4, which overlooks it). The words "We the People" appear on the screen, and he uses "We the People..." 3 times. The phrase "stand together" reappears. Text on screen asserts that Pataki led New York after the 9/11 attacks. (I note for the first time that the word "attack" is embedded in his name.) "What unites us is so much more important than what might seem superficially to divide us." Most politicians would say "What unites us is much more important than what divides us." I feel there's some insight to be gained from the "so" — it's a tad emotive — and, especially, the "might seem superficially" — which suggests education, precision, and lawyerliness and functions to deny that we are divided in any significant way at all.

8. Now some quick images flash: the original flag, the Founding Fathers, Lincoln with Union soldiers, Confederate soldiers, the men raising the flag at Iwo Jima, an astronaut with the flag on the moon, the Twin Towers "Tribute of Light," a big flag. The voice over is: "We have to fall in love with America again." Text on screen: "United We Stand." Then: "What will We the People stand for?" Then: "Pataki for President."

9. One more look at the Freedom Tower, seen from Tower 4, with Pataki speaking about "reclaiming the skyline" and "coming back stronger and better."

10. So: A good introductory video. You want a governor? I am that governor. Look what I've been through. Look where I was. He's been out of the public eye for an awfully long time, and he seems rather dull. But as long as we're looking through the whole deck, he belongs in the group.  

"I want to play in the NBA. Or be a mortician." [Althouse]

"Why a mortician?"

"I liked the way that my uncle was dressed at his funeral. And if I’m a mortician when someone in my family passes away, then I can take care of their body. Also my science teacher went on the internet for me and found out that morticians make $54,000 a year."

"There is no way that she did not know what was going on, that women were being abused and accosted by her husband." [Althouse]

"She knew what was happening and just to ignore it. It was a political relationship and suited them both. The Clintons don't care what they do, who they run over to get to the top. It is all about political status."

Said Paula Jones, who was run over so long ago that many young voters have never heard of her.

"Did this have something to do with Monica Lewinsky?" a student asked last month when we read Clinton v. Jones. I wondered whether the Supreme Court's statement of the facts in that case came as a strange surprise to the young people in the class:

Those allegations principally describe events that are said to have occurred on the afternoon of May 8, 1991, during an official conference held at the Excelsior Hotel in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Governor delivered a speech at the conference; respondent--working as a state employee--staffed the registration desk. She alleges that Ferguson persuaded her to leave her desk and to visit the Governor in a business suite at the hotel, where he made "abhorrent" sexual advances that she vehemently rejected. She further claims that her superiors at work subsequently dealt with her in a hostile and rude manner, and changed her duties to punish her for rejecting those advances. Finally, she alleges that after petitioner was elected President, Ferguson defamed her by making a statement to a reporter that implied she had accepted petitioner's alleged overtures, and that various persons authorized to speak for the President publicly branded her a liar by denying that the incident had occurred.

Does this mean Obama's immigration plan will only be carried out if the next President wants to do it? [Althouse]

I'm trying to delve into the true import of this NYT article titled "Immigration Overhaul May Be in Limbo Until Late in Obama’s Term." The headline seems to inject some optimism into the scenario. Let's look closely:

1. There's a preliminary injunction in place preventing Obama from going forward with his plan, and the Justice Department has chosen not to go to the Supreme Court now. So the litigation continues on the merits in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which will take some time. When it ends, whoever wins will seek Supreme Court review. That's going to take some time.

2.  How much time? The NYT says: "That legal battle may extend for a year or more, officials said, undermining any hope of putting the president’s plan into effect until right before the 2016 election." I take that to refer to the possibility that the Supreme Court (assuming it takes the case) would come out with a decision before it goes on its summer break, which would leave Obama with half a year to go forward with his plan.

3. Would Obama start up his program right on the eve of his successor's election? It's a political problem, but it's not just a political problem. Politically, it might help the Democratic candidate to have the program begun so that she (or he) can say you need me to continue it. Pressure could be put on the Republican to say whether he'd keep it going or not and what he'd do with the problem instead. Obama could choose whichever works better for the Democrat, when the time comes. At a late point in the campaign, he'll have the power to affect the factual context of the immigration issue.

4. But it's also a practical problem. It's a program that invites undocumented immigrants to "come out of the shadows." Who will want to do that in late 2016? If it won't work, because those who are eligible to come out lack confidence that the program will stay in place, then why do it? Well, the reasons discussed in point #3 might still hold. Begin the program for show. You've got a safe haven for people but the people are too afraid to use it. Look! Isn't that sad! Don't you want to vote for the candidate who will make it possible for people to use this wonderful plan Obama thought up? That's the political argument that could be built on the practical problem.

5. The political argument built on the practical problem only works if it turns out that voters in the swing states want the reform and approve of Presidents acting independently of Congress. But, as noted in point #3, Obama will make the decision close to the election, so he'll have up-to-date  information about how people feel — not only what they think about immigration but whether they're susceptible to the argument that it's important for Obama to end his presidency on a high note. His word is "HOPE." Wouldn't it be beautiful if he ended with this success that is the very essence of hope? Will that idea resonate in the summer and fall of 2016? He can decide when the time comes.

6. Points ##3, 4, and 5 all assume Obama will win in the Supreme Court. That's unlikely, I think. If he loses, however, he hands his party's candidate an excellent issue: those terrible conservatives on the  Supreme Court who are ruining everything.

Ayman al-Zawahiri Tried To Purchase Guns From American FFL [The Captain's Journal]

According to Newsweek:

The shooting attack on May 3 at an anti-Muslim art show in Garland, Texas, sparked debates about freedom of speech versus hate speech, the rise of lone wolf terrorists and the ability of the terrorist group ISIS to strike at the U.S. homeland.

But there is another aspect of this attack that has gone largely unaddressed: the increasing use of guns by domestic terrorists and the loopholes that allow known terror suspects to legally buy them.

Researchers at Indiana State University examining incidents of lone wolf terrorism in the U.S. found that prior to the Al-Qaeda attacks on America on September 11, 2001, domestic terrorists more often used bombs to perpetuate their attacks. However, in the last 14 years, they have increasingly turned to guns as their primary weapon of choice.

Recent domestic terror attacks bear this out: the shooting at Fort Hood in November 2009 perpetrated by Major Nidal Hasan, the 2012 shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin that killed six, and the KKK leader who shot and killed three people at a Jewish community center in 2014.

Data gathered by the Government Accountability Office also supports this trend. Individuals on the consolidated terrorist watch list—including notorious terrorists such as Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri—attempted to purchase guns from licensed dealers 2,233 times between February 2004 and December 2014. In nearly 10 percent of these cases, the FBI was able to find something else in their criminal history to block the sale.

But the FBI lacked the authority to block sales in 2,043 cases because of gaps in current law.

Poor play at gun control with exaggerated rhetoric.  Or outright false rhetoric.  I had to do a double-take and triple-take when I read that.  It doesn’t say that henchmen of Ayman al-Zawahiri attempted to purchase guns from American FFLs, or that on orders from Ayman al-Zawahiri, would-be American Islamists attempted to purchase guns from American FFLs.  The article specifically says “Individuals on the consolidated terrorist watch list—including notorious terrorists such as Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri—attempted to purchase guns from licensed dealers 2,233 times between February 2004 and December 2014.”

That’s right.  According to Newsweek, the bearded, robed leader of AQ himself, hopped on an airplane in Pakistan, flew to the U.S., appeared before some worker at a gun shop somewhere in the states, and attempted to go through the NICS.  There are a lot of things about which I’m not sure, but I am certain of one thing.  Ayman al-Zawahiri has never stood over the counter in an American gun shop and waited for the pronouncements of an FFL running his name through the NICS.

It never happened.  Where do they get this crap?  Do they yank it straight our of their ass?

EPA And ISIS Take Similar Attitudes Towards Natural Resources [The Captain's Journal]

The Washington Times:

President Obama’s administration on Wednesday claimed dominion over all of America’s streams, creeks, rills, ditches, brooks, rivulets, burns, tributaries, criks, wetlands — perhaps even puddles — in a sweeping move to assert unilateral federal authority.

The Environmental Protection Agency, along with the Army Corps of Engineers, says it has the authority to control all waterways within the United States — and will exercise that authority.

Do you recall how the terrorists think of water?

According to an article posted by Chatham House, a London-based independent policy institute, water infrastructure has been targeted by both sides in the conflict, leading to crippling disruptions in water supply over the last several months in cities such as Aleppo, Homs and Hama. The disabling of water treatment plants has led to a reported increase in waterborne diseases such as typhoid.

According to Chatham House researcher and fellow Nouar Shamout, the war has only worsened an already complicated and precarious water situation. ISIS, the Islamist rebel group that has seized control of many parts of Syria and northern Iraq, controls key parts of the water infrastructure in the regionally crucial Euphrates River system, including Al-Raqqa dam, which supplies one-fifth of Syria’s electricity and controls irrigation flows downstream.

The federal government is filled with terrorists who rival ISIS in their nefariousness and who are unrivaled in their power and influence.  They’re just more subtle about it.  What’s that I’ve heard about “enemies foreign and domestic?”

Notes From HPS [The Captain's Journal]

David Codrea:

Standing against politicians bought by a billionaire obsessed with controlling others are defiant gun owners, who will not comply and who will not back down.

“We will form up on the capitol steps in Salem to make sure [Gov. Brown] knows just how many people she made into criminals in one stroke of a pen,” rally organizers tell their Facebook followers. “There will be speakers there for your education and entertainment while we show our noncompliance!”

It’s the new paradigm.  And we won’t back down, we won’t forget, we won’t be persuaded differently.

David Codrea:

Per my report published Friday at The Shooter’s Log, actors were used to portray customers in a fake gun shop “public service announcement” produced by States United Against Gun Violence. That information comes from the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media in its response to a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request submitted in March. Additionally, all replica firearms used were evidently “authorized” without official documentation to ensure legality and inventory accountability.

It’s Potemkin villages all the way down.  Is there anything about which progressives are honest?

Kurt Hofmann:

The requirement for a “good reason” to carry a firearm would not be so utterly evil, except for one appalling thing: defense of one’s life and loved ones isn’t a sufficiently “good reason” to these ghouls … This reflects a sick, twisted, and depraved set of values. The gun ban zealots claim to value each and every human life above all other things, but this policy, and others like it elsewhere, show the real truth.

They may lie, but their works bear out the truth.  And they are works of evil indeed.

Concerning the USMC:

A United States Marine was convicted at a court-martial for refusing to remove a Bible verse on her computer – a verse of Scripture the military determined “could easily be seen as contrary to good order and discipline.”

The plight of Lance Corporal Monifa Sterling seems unbelievable – a member of the Armed Forces criminally prosecuted for displaying a slightly altered passage of Scripture from the Old Testament: “No weapon formed against me shall prosper.”

So is there any reason to be a part of the USMC any more?  Any reason at all?

Mike Vanderboegh sums up why we don’t want the duties of the ATF being moved to the FBI.  Speaking of Mike, he is on the road.  Pray for his success and safety.

Distribution Release: IPFire 2.17 Core Update 90 [DistroWatch.com: News]

The IPFire team has announced the release of IPFire 2.17 Core Update 90. The new release offers a number of security enhancements, including the use of GeoIP filtering and the disabling of vulnerable security protocols. The project's kernel and system services have also been updated and patched against....

Development Release: Mangaka Nya Alpha [DistroWatch.com: News]

After several dormant years, the developers of Mangaka have released a new development version of their Ubuntu-based distribution. The new alpha release is based on Ubuntu 14.04 and strives to offer a responsive and customizable desktop environment. The distribution is designed with the Manga and Anime communities in....

Are Women without Kids Failures? [Dr. Helen]

Vox Day at Alpha Game Blog had this to say:

Most of the mothers I know used to proudly declare they never wanted to have children. Not some of them, not many of them, MOST of them. That is why the correct response to a young woman declaring that she doesn’t want to have children is to laugh at her, because bearing children is the prime raison d’etre for every woman. The woman who fails to do so is, quite literally, a failure as a human being.

I don’t think men who have no children are “failures” and nor do I think women who have no children are “failures.” I think that people make choices in life that are right or seem right for them at the time. People are autonomous beings who may or may not want children. While I agree that our culture is a negative one that often mistakenly tells women to go only for careers and other pursuits rather than have children, I do think there are some women who do not want them. This choice may be wrong for some but not for all.

I had a friend in college who didn’t want kids. She is happy today many years later without them. That is her choice. It should be everyone’s to decide what is right for their own life. To call that a failure for that decision seems extreme. What are your thoughts? Should men or women without kids be said to be “failures?”

Are Black Males the Only Smart Ones When it Comes to PhD Psychology programs? [Dr. Helen]

Apparently they are, according to this latest article in my professional magazine on the lack of recruitment of black males in PhD psychology programs:

The lack of African-American males graduating with doctorates from psychology programs continues to be both alarming and disappointing. The most recent data as reported in Doctorate Recipients from U.S. universities indicated that while European-Americans (whites) earned 76% of psychology PhDs, only 5.8% of psychology PhDs were awarded to black students, and of that 5.8%, 68% percent were awarded to black females, demonstrating that black males are woefully under-represented as students in psychology graduate schools (APA Center for Workforce Studies, 2010).

Unfortunately, one poor guy slipped through the cracks and added his story about his route to being a psychologist and why it is so hard for others to follow in his footsteps:

Graduate School Barriers

Financial Strain

While many of my early barriers have since been overcome, financial strain continues to be my primary obstacle. Completing four years of undergraduate education, two years of a master’s program, and five years for a PhD will equal 11 years of very tight fiscal management and the accumulation of significant student loan debt. I believe it takes a strong value for higher education to give up 11 years of full-time salary while simultaneously accruing many thousands of dollars in student-loan debt. Any casual observer would probably view this as a risky gamble. I too must confess to frequent doubts about whether becoming a psychologist will be worth the many years it will take to pay off my debt. According to APA’s 2009 Doctorate Employment Survey, graduates with a PsyD in Clinical Psychology reported a median debt level of $120,000, up from $70,000 in 1999 (Michalski, Wicherski, Kohout, & Hart, 2011). The median income reported by graduates with a doctorate in psychology, however, was $50,000 to $70,000, actually down from the median income range ($52,000 to $72,000) reported in 2007. Between 1999 and 2009 there was a 42% increase in median student-loan debt for PsyD clinical psychology graduates, yet only a 21% increase in salary for clinical psychologists during the same time period (Michalski et al., 2011; Kohout & Wicherski, 2003). In contrast, graduates from research-orientated PhD programs only reported a median debt level of $38,500, with 38% reporting no debt at all (Michalski et al., 2011; Kohout & Wicherski, 2003). The level of student-loan debt for early-career psychologists is troubling to say the least, but my desire to become a clinical psychologist goes beyond salary.

So the salary of psychologists is sinking, it takes 11 years of training to get the job, and students are saddled with up to $120,000 worth of debt — and now they want more black males to take on this risk? The article calls this alarmist and disappointing. I call it a smart move. There are other professions that are less risky, more lucrative and just as rewarding without 11 years of one’s life gone and possibly one’s health after dealing with the field for decades.

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

I think so, Brain … but weren’t nine-tenths of the people created so that you’d want to be in the other tenth?


Getting Closer to Pluto [hogewash]

nh-apr16-may12-2015New Horizons will fly by Pluto in July. Meanwhile, its LORRI camera is beginning to return images that hint of surface features.

Image Credit: NASA


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

I think so, Brain … but do you really expect the koalas to use the lemon-scented wipes?


Team Kimberlin Post of the Day [hogewash]

Now that so many other people are archiving his blogging, I no longer regularly read the Dreadful Pro-Se Schmalfeldt meanderings on his blog du jour. I’m told that he wants to charge me a license fee for using his name and and image in my reporting about him and his buddies with Team Kimberlin.

Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Before making such a foolish assertion, he should have talked to a lawyer who could have explained case law such as Lawrence v. A. S. Abell Co., 299 Md. 697 (1984) to him.

And in other news concerning the Cabin Boy™ …

Yesterday, I mailed a reply to his opposition to my motion to dismiss his current LOLsuit for improper venue to the court. I also served the Cabin Boy™ by mail.

The reply speaks for itself, and I do not intend to make any further substantive public statements about the motion until the court has ruled on it.


Quote of the Day [hogewash]

Sure, ninety percent of science fiction is crud. That’s because ninety percent of everything is crud.

—Theodore Sturgeon


Arrived in my (currently very large) pile [Marginal REVOLUTION]

The Essential Hayek, by Don Boudreaux.  I cannot (yet?) find an Amazon listing.

Adrian Wooldridge, The Great Disruption: How Business is Coping with Turbulent Times.

Dirk Philipsen, The Little Big Number: How GDP Came to Rule the World and What to Do About It.

Steven J. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, When to Rob a Bank…and 131 More Warped Suggestions and Well-Intended Rants.

Dan Ariely, Irrationally Yours: On Missing Socks, Pickup Lines, and Other Existential Puzzles.

Brendan O’Flaherty, The Economics of Race in the United States.

Right now there is lots in the pile, but I thought I should let you know about those right away.

Ants are too smart to need congestion pricing [Marginal REVOLUTION]

Joel Shurkin reports:

Ants — most are teeny creatures with brains smaller than pinheads — engineer traffic better than humans do. Ants never run into stop-and-go-traffic or gridlock on the trail. In fact, the more ants of one species there are on the road, the faster they go, according to new research.

Researchers from two German institutions — the University of Potsdam and the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg — found a nest of black meadow ants (Formica pratensis) in the woods of Saxony. The nest had four trunk trails leading to foraging areas, some of them 60 feet long. The researchers set up a camera that took time-lapse photography, and recorded the ants’ comings and goings.

…Oddly, the heavier the traffic, the faster the ants marched. Unlike humans driving cars, their velocity increased as their numbers did, and the trail widened as the ants spread out.

In essence ants vary the number of open lanes, but they have another trick as well:

“Ant vision is not that great, so I suspect that most of the information comes from tactile senses (antennas, legs). This means they are actually aware of not only the ant in front, but the ant behind as well,” he wrote in an e-mail. “That reduces the instability found in automobile highways, where drivers only know about the car in front.”

Driverless vehicles can of course in this regard be more like ants than humans.

Enough said [Marginal REVOLUTION]

Labor leaders, who were among the strongest supporters of the citywide minimum wage increase approved last week by the Los Angeles City Council, are advocating last-minute changes to the law that could create an exemption for companies with unionized workforces.

The push to include an exception to the mandated wage increase for companies that let their employees collectively bargain was the latest unexpected detour as the city nears approval of its landmark legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020.

The story is here.  And here is a mood-affiliated Jared Bernstein piece on the L.A. minimum wage hike; it would have been stronger if all he had written were the simple eleven words: “I’m sorry, but I don’t think this is a good idea.”  In a way, the labor unions have just said the same.

Hat tip goes to Modeled Behavior.

Why you should visit China more [Marginal REVOLUTION]

I suggest two plans, each of which I have been able to implement in a partial way only:

1. Take the train around to random first, second, and third tier Chinese cities.  Many of them will have their own cuisines, or they will represent a nearby regional cuisine.  It’s like discovering the food of a new country.  Imagine if Shandong province were a separate country!  How compelled you would feel to visit it for the food, often considered China’s foundational cuisine, plus it uses the finest vinegars.  And yet, because it is part of “China” (Gavagai!), you feel you already know something about Chinese food and thus the need to sample it is not so pressing.  Redo your framing, and rush to some of the lesser visited parts of China.

By the way, you can stay in the second or third best hotel in most Chinese cities for only slightly more than $100 a night, and yet receive five star treatment and quality.

2. How many provinces does China actually have?  I don’t wish to litigate that dispute, but most of them have restaurants devoted to their regional dishes in Beijing.  These are state-owned restaurants, and most of them are excellent.  Furthermore they are scattered around town, so if you visit them all you will see many parts of Beijing.

A month in Beijing should allow you to visit them all, plus the air pollution really is better these days.

I should add that western China has by far the best raisins I have sampled in my life, most of all the big red raisins.  Until my trip to Xi’an, I had never actually tried a real raisin with the real raisin flavor.  Forget the Terra Cotta Warriors, discover what a raisin is!

Hastert Indicted on Hush-Money Charges [The PJ Tatler]

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), who led the lower chamber during the majority of the George W. Bush administration, was indicted today on federal charges:

A federal indictment released this afternoon accuses the Plano Republican of disguising the withdrawal of nearly $1 million from various financial accounts to avoid federal disclosure requirements, and of lying to the FBI about the matter.

The federal charges allege that the money was part of $3.5 million that Hastert was paying an unnamed “Individual A” in order “to compensate for an conceal his prior misconduct” against that individual.

Fuller details about exactly why Hastert would be paying someone $3.5 million were not immediately available. But the indictment strongly suggests Hastert needed the money because he was being blackmailed.

“In or about 2010, Individual A met with (Hastert) multiple times. During at least one of the meetings, Individual A and defendant discussed past misconduct by defendant against Individual A that had occurred years earlier,” the indictment states. “Shortly thereafter, defendant began providing Individual A cash payments.”

…According to the indictment, Hastert agreed to pay the money beginning in 2010. From 2010 to 2014 he allegedly withdrew $1.7 million in cash from various accounts. Eventually, according to a statement from the Department of Justice, “Hastert started structuring his cash withdrawals in increments of less than $10,000 to evade” required disclosure of withdrawals in excess of $10,000. When questioned by the FBI about the matter, he “falsely stated that he was keeping the cash.”

Hastert was a high school teacher and wrestling coach before being elected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1980. He won his U.S. House seat in 1986 and succeeded Newt Gingrich as speaker in 1999.

Now 73, Hastert works as a lobbyist, including representing the interests of the government of Turkey.

Quoting PJM, Mark Levin Slams Obama for Ignoring Shocking Rise In U.S. Terror Arrests [The PJ Tatler]

On Wednesday, PJ Media’s Patrick Poole wrote a breakthrough report about the shocking rise in domestic terror arrests this year. As he explained, 40 (wannabe) terrorists have been arrested in the first five months of 2015 alone.

Later in the day, Poole had to update that to 41 as news broke of the arrest of Asher Abid Khan.

How steep has the rise in terror activity been this year? Writes Poole:

 At the current pace, by the end of June — halfway through 2015 — the number of cases will exceed the number from the past two years combined (48).

The single best conservative talker in America — I’m talking about Mark Levin, of course — read Patrick’s article on the air Wednesday evening, explaining that these numbers prove the U.S. has a growing extremism problem. There are increasingly more Muslim extremists in the country, and they’re more than willing to put their hate-filled ideas into practice. That’s bad, but it gets even worse. Levin:

Forty — and we’re not even at the half-year mark. Forty. And it’s actually worse. Because Obama wants to bring individuals from the Middle East into this country by the tens of thousands, and he’s being urged to do so by his party.

Levin then mentioned a report from the Washington Free Beacon saying that at least 638 supposed “asylum seekers” from the Middle East have been found to have ties to terror groups. Yes, you read that right: 638 so-called refugees who tried to get into America were likely terrorists. And these were just the ones who got caught.

Any sane government would be so shocked by these facts that it would limit the amount of asylum-seekers it lets into the country, but regrettably, the Obama administration is crazy. These radical leftists literally play with American lives, and they couldn’t care less.

What’s a terror attack or two if you can bring thousands of new voters who’ll support the Democratic Party? Isn’t that what foreign policy and immigration are really all about?

Pataki Running for President, Makes Declaration in Moderate New Hampshire [The PJ Tatler]

Former New  York Gov. George Pataki jumped into the race today for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.

Pataki made his announcement in Exeter, N.H., as “birthplace of the Republican Party, Abraham Lincoln’s party, who saved the Union and who brought the promise of freedom to all Americans, Teddy Roosevelt’s party, who fought for the Square Deal so that the rich and powerful couldn’t limit the freedom of working Americans, and Ronald Reagan’s party, who restored Americans’ belief in ourselves and in the transcendent value of freedom, the freedom that has given us the greatest country the world has ever known, the freedom that a man named Amos Tuck declared the foundation of that party right here in Exeter, New Hampshire, the same freedom that I fear is at risk today from an ever more powerful, more intrusive government in Washington.”

“It is to preserve and protect that freedom for future generations that I speak. It is to preserve and protect that freedom that this morning, I announce I am a candidate for the Republican nomination for president of the United States,” he said.

The location of his announcement was notable as an early primary state that tends to favor more moderate candidates. The governor’s 99-year-old mother watched the announcement from home on C-SPAN, he noted.

“Today, there’s one former member of Congress lobbying for every current member, and the first thing I would do is say that if you ever serve one day in Congress, you will never be a lobbyist. There will be a lifetime ban on members of Congress ever becoming a lobbyist,” he vowed, detailing his platform.

“I’d repeal oppressive laws like Obamacare and end Common Core. I’d eliminate excessive taxes that crush small business. I’d throw out an incomprehensible tax code written by lawyers at the direction of lobbyists in the interests of the powerful and replace it with simpler, lower rates that are fair for all of us. I’d lower taxes on manufacturers to the lowest in the developed world so that factories and jobs could spring up across America. And I’d shrink the size of the federal workforce, starting with the bureaucrats overseeing Obamacare, and I’d fire every current IRS employee abusing government power to discriminate on the basis of politics or religion. That is not America.”

Pataki quipped that it “seems like liberals have so much compassion for the poor that they keep creating more of them.”

“Conservative policies replaced dependency with opportunity in New York State. I know we can do the same thing for the United States,” he said.

As governor on 9/11, he added, “I saw up close the horrible consequences of too many believing that because radical Islam was thousands of miles away, across an ocean that we were safe in America. Sadly, it wasn’t true then, and it’s not true now.”

“Today, those in the other party, instead of offering ideas, seek to divide. When you have no solutions, instead you offer fear,” Pataki said. “They say we are anti-immigrant; we, the proud children and grandchildren and descendants of immigrants, we know that immigration has and will continue to enhance the greatness of this country.”

Lead U.S. Nuke Negotiator with Iran Leaving State Department [The PJ Tatler]

The lead U.S. negotiator at the table with Iran in the P5+1 nuclear talks is leaving the State Department.

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman traveled to Vienna yesterday to resume negotiations, and will meet Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva on Saturday for additional talks with the Iranians.

The fourth-ranking official in the State Department will be out the door after the June 30 nuclear deadline.

Sherman was an adviser to Hillary Clinton during her 2008 campaign, and the former secretary of State appointed her old supporter to her current State Department post in 2011. Sherman’s history in Democratic Party politics includes running the pro-abortion rights lobbying group EMILY’s List.

“As the secretary has said, Undersecretary Sherman has been an absolutely critical member of his team, in particular in the work spearheading the nuclear negotiations with Iran, but also on nearly every other important issue in the department,” State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke told reporters today. “She has close relations and collaboration with her P5+1 and E.U. counterparts. They’ve been instrumental in enabling us to reach the interim agreement that has halted the progress of Iran’s nuclear program and makes our partners and allies and our world safer.”

“So, you know, she’s gonna stay on through the completion of the talks. I don’t have a lot more to add to motivation.”

Asked if now is the right time to be leaving, Rathke said “one of the things that Undersecretary Sherman has made a point of doing is to mentor colleagues and to build a large and strong U.S. negotiating team, which encompasses experts from across the U.S. government and within the State Department as well.”

“So, if we are successful in concluding a final deal, we’ll move into a new phase of implementation and monitoring,” he said. “And, you know, this team that Undersecretary Sherman has put together and has led over these last couple of years will continue to track Iran’s nuclear program if we get to a deal and they’ll be joined by others across this government.”

Of that June 30 deadline: “We’re not contemplating an extension.”

Marilyn Mosby to Perform in Baltimore Circus [The PJ Tatler]

mosby

Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby’s high-profile prosecution against the six officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray may have devolved into what could arguably be described as a three-ring circus, but she and her husband, city councilman Nick Mosby, are literally going to be guest ringmasters in a traveling black circus that is visiting Baltimore this weekend.

Via The Root:

 

This comes on the heels of Marilyn Mosby’s appearance onstage with music legend Prince for his #Rally4Peace concert, which drew criticism a few weeks ago. She is also being accused of bias by pro-law-enforcement critics for her close ties to the community. But the real issue is, what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate in the lead-up to prosecuting a high-profile case of police brutality? What’s appropriate regarding a case that spawned nationwide protests and several days of civil unrest?

According to the councilman’s office, Nick Mosby and his wife, Marilyn, were invited to be special guests of the UniverSoul Circus prior to Gray’s death. It was “in the works way back,” Candance Green, Councilman Mosby’s press liaison, told The Root. And inviting community leaders to be guest ringmasters is nothing new for the community-focused UniverSoul Circus, which enlists local figures to be part of the show. Its current show has the theme “Your Life Matters,” intentionally or unintentionally mirroring the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

“This is something they do around the country,” Green said. “They choose leaders who make an impact in the community.”

In the current racially charged climate where Mosby’s critics are calling on her to recuse herself due to bias and conflicts of interest, an appearance at a traveling black circus with a theme that mirrors #BlackLivesMatter would not seem to be the best choice. She is looking less like an impartial evaluator of the case, and more like a #BlackLivesMatter activist.

 

 

Obama Tells DNC Donors It’s ‘Liberating’ as Second Term ‘Concentrates the Mind’ [The PJ Tatler]

President Obama told a DNC fundraiser in Miami yesterday that he’s experiencing “a liberating feeling” as his second term runs out “in the sense that the amount of time I have left, it concentrates the mind.”

“And I think a lot of folks have been surprised at the degree to which we are moving and pushing and trying whatever we can to advance the goals of making sure that every American in this country and every child in this country, if they’re willing to work hard, can get ahead, and that opportunity and prosperity is broad-based,” Obama told the $33,400 a head event for a few dozen well-heeled donors.

“But ultimately, an eight-year span in the life of a country is pretty short. We can get a lot done, but part of what we’re also doing is laying the foundation so that we then pass that baton to the next administration and we institutionalize some of the progress that we’ve been making,” he added. “And ultimately, how much staying power these things have depends on a Congress that is thinking about our future.”

“…This is not something I’m doing for me, this is something we are doing together. Because it’s going to be just the blink of an eye before I am, like you, a citizen, who has returned from office but still occupies the most important position in a democracy. And together I want us to make sure that we are doing everything we can to pass on the kind of America that gave us such incredible opportunity and allowed us to be here today.”

Obama said that “by almost every economic measure, by every economic measure, we are better off and, in some cases, significantly better off than when I came into office.”

“By almost every measure, this country has come bouncing back in ways that a lot of folks in 2009 might not have anticipated,” he said. “But what’s also true is, is that there is so much work that’s left undone, so many things we could be doing to make sure that more people have access to the ladders of opportunity that have been the hallmark of this country. If we pass immigration reform, that would not only improve our economy, drive down our deficit, but it would make sure that America continued to be a land — a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants where we’re attracting incredible talent and vitality from every corner of the globe.”

Harf Explains Why Fall of Mosul, Ramadi Were Kinda Different [The PJ Tatler]

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the fall of the Mosul and the fall of Ramadi are pretty much different because of the amount of time it took for ISIS to seize the Iraq cities.

“I think Mosul and Ramadi are a little bit different,” Harf told CNN. “And what we saw in Ramadi is that, for months and months, the Iraqi forces were contesting ISIL there. Mosul fell quite quickly, question, so that was a little bit different.”

“…But when it came to Ramadi, they contested it for many months. They fought valiantly. ISIL threw a ton of resources, a lot of firepower at the situation. And, unfortunately, we had a pretty significant setback. But they have started to counterattack around Ramadi and we are confident that eventually Ramadi will be retaken.”

Mosul fell 11 months ago, and has not been retaken.

Outgoing Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said recently in a Frontline documentary the fall of Mosul took military planners by surprise and the Pentagon had no contingency plans in place.

“So, look, there were several things that surprised us about ISIL,” Dempsey said. “The degree to which they were able to form their own coalition, both inside of Syria — and inside of northwestern Iraq; the military capability that they exhibited — the collapse of the Iraq Security Forces. Yeah, in those initial days, there were a few surprises.”

Three days before the fall of Ramadi, though, Dempsey seemed unconcerned.

“The city itself is — it’s not symbolic in any way. It’s not been declared, you know, part of the caliphate, on the one hand, or central to the future of Iraq. But we want to get it back. I mean, the issue here is not — is not brick and mortar. It’s about defeating ISIL. So, as I said, this — I — you know, I would much rather that Ramadi not fall, but it won’t be the end of the campaign should it fall. We got to get it back. And that’s tragic for the people, as have — as we’ve seen along the way,” Dempsey told reporters at the Pentagon on May 14.

Harf also said Wednesday that she wouldn’t “make sort of sweeping generalizations about some of these forces”– the Iran-backed Shiite militias — jumping in the fight.

“I think they’re all probably a little bit different on the ground,” she said.

“But what I would say is, we have been very clear with the Iraqis that it’s important to us certainly that any of these other provincial forces that are working are under Iraqi command-and-control, that the Iraqi armed forces are the ones in control of these offensives. Obviously, that’s what we have been focusing on.”

Big Labor Request for Crony Exemption from L.A. Minimum Wage Hike Isn’t a Hit [The PJ Tatler]

Rocky road.

The path toward passage of Los Angeles’ landmark minimum wage increase took a rocky detour Wednesday, as business and elected officials reacted harshly to a last-minute push by labor leaders to create an exemption for companies with unionized workforces.

Union officials have been among the most ardent backers of the plan approved by the L.A. City Council last week to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. But some labor leaders who opposed loopholes for small businesses and restaurants now argue that unionized companies should have leeway to negotiate lower pay rates with their employees.

This is akin to the climate doomsayers flying all over the planet screaming about the dangers of fossil fuels. And it is most reminiscent of the great fight Big Labor fought for the passage of Obamacare, from which they immediately sought exemptions.

Why are they so eager to avoid having to participate in all the laws they champion?

A prominent labor fan on the L.A. City Council isn’t on board with the request:

Even some who fought side-by-side with union activists for the wage increase said they were uncomfortable adopting the proposed exemption without further study.

“For me, the point of the minimum wage in Los Angeles was to raise wages and lift people out of poverty,” said Councilman Mike Bonin, a champion of the ordinance and frequent labor ally on the council. The pay hike should apply for “everyone,” he said, including “employees of big businesses and small businesses, of nonprofits and for-profits, people who are members of unions and people who are not.”

As a resident of Los Angeles, I can wholehearted assure you that the only way $15 an hour will lift anyone out of poverty is if one of those dollars happens to buy a winning Powerball ticket. However, sticking with that line of reasoning, Labor leaders must be asked why they think it’s all right to doom their people to poverty.

Santorum: I Know Radical Islam, Can Face Former SecState ‘Very Steeped in Knowledge in That Area’ [The PJ Tatler]

Former Sen. Rick Santorum is taking another shot at the White House, and he thinks appealing to blue-collar workers’ concerns including income inequality will single him out in a crowded GOP field.

Santorum announced his candidacy yesterday in his home state. He came in second to Mitt Romney in the 2012 delegate count, with strong early showings in Iowa, Colorado, Missouri, and Minnesota. He was weakest in key states such as New Hampshire and Florida.

“I think we sound a lot different,” he told Fox of his new campaign message. “I mean, we have focused in on where the problem is in America today, and that is that, you know, you see a hollowing out of the middle of this country. The wages have stagnated. Family incomes and median income is going down. And the opportunity to rise, particularly for the 74 percent of Americans who don’t have a college degree, it’s just not happening.”

“And one of the reasons it’s not, and you know this because you’ve been there, is because we’ve lost our manufacturing base in this country,” he said. “And that’s why I have this announcement at a manufacturing facility. We had manufacturers from all over the country here. We’re excited about someone who is willing to go out and help America compete again, because we can bring those jobs back here. We just have to have plans to do it.”

Santorum said he’ll be putting forward a “very detailed plan” for the country including a “simple, fair, flat tax.”

That plan, he said, is “going to be very stimulative to the economy generally, but in particular to manufacturing.”

“We’re going to put things in place that will make America a manufacturing mecca to create the opportunity for us to create jobs.”

Santorum boasted during his campaign announcement that ISIS had singled him out by name — they called him a “Catholic crusader” in a March issue of their Dabiq magazine.

“There’s a lot of places to start. I think you have to start where the temperature is the hottest, and that’s in the Middle East. Iran is certainly, as you know, for a long time I’ve been sounding the alarm on Iran… This is something that is critical for us,” the former senator said. “I’m hopeful, I pray, literally I pray that we don’t strike a deal with Iran that puts them that close to a nuclear weapon that’s really their option. But if that doesn’t happen, and I pray it doesn’t, that’s going to be a big job for the next president to make sure that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon.”

“We take on ISIS. I talked here today how important it is not to have a commander in chief with no experience. A commander in chief is not an entry-level position. I served eight years on the Armed Services Committee. I’ve been talking about this problem of radical Islam now for more than a dozen years and traveled the country, traveled the world. And we need someone with experience who knows how to handle that, to go up particularly against a former secretary of State who is very steeped in knowledge in that area.”

[VIDEO] Glenn Reynolds: Why Millennials are Ditching College [The PJ Tatler]

While college students ready for graduation celebrations this weekend, trends show that other millennials are making different choices when it comes to college enrollment. Reports show overall college enrollment is dropping, in particular for those in their twenties.

Glenn Reynolds, founder of Instapundit.com and author of “The Education Apocalypse,” argues that college is not for everyone, and that could be good news for the economy.

“When people go to college and it’s not for them, they are wasting time and money and they are not making a social contribution,” Reynolds said on FOX Business’ “Kennedy” program last night. “When out in workplace, doing useful stuff, they are making a social contribution. And, they are not running up debt and years of their lives.”

Twenty-year-olds may be effectively using their resources. “You only have so many years of your life in your twenties,” he says.  ”It seems like you have an endless supply, and then they’re gone and they don’t come back.”

Reynolds explains how he believes colleges have ceased to be about learning in his new book.

"The Education Apocalypse" explains why millennials are ditching college. - Sarah Culvahouse Mills

Watch John Stossel ask Reynolds if college is a rip-off this Friday at 9PM ET on his FOX Business special program. Tune in

Indiana Grandma Now ISIS Supporter ‘Jihad Kathie,’ Living and Inciting Violence in Germany [The PJ Tatler]

A 50-year-old grandmother from Indianapolis who was profiled by Fox News in 2010 is back in the news in Germany, where she now lives, for the open support she and her jihadist husband are showing for the Islamic State.

Kathie Smith, who four years ago pleaded that she was a patriotic American just exercising her free speech, has now dropped that pretense. She publicly praises ISIS, the Taliban, and senior Al-Qaeda operatives. Refugees now living in Germany from areas victimized by ISIS were disturbed last summer when Smith and her husband flew the ISIS flag outside their home in Saarbrücken.

Smith first appeared in the media in a December 2010 article by investigative reporter Jana Winter at Fox News after Smith posted a video which included pictures of her and her German husband holding weapons interspersed with pictures of German terrorists. Wrote Winter:

A 46-year-old, blue-eyed grandmother and U.S. citizen from Indiana is under investigation for her possible ties to suspected and convicted international terrorists, FoxNews.com has learned.

Muslim-convert Kathie Smith, 46, of Indianapolis, married a suspected German jihadist tied to the Islamic Jihad Union last year and has been flying back and forth between the U.S. and Germany as recently as two weeks ago.

A pro-jihadist video featuring Smith and her husband is being investigated by the Indiana Intelligence Fusion Center, a threat and counterterror intelligence analysis clearinghouse staffed by law enforcement officials from local and federal agencies, including the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.

“Certainly, it’s being looked at evaluated by Indiana State Police, which runs Indiana Intelligence Fusion Center, ” Indiana Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Emily Norcross told FoxNews.com, adding that the video would be passed along to appropriate law enforcement for further investigation [...]

In the nearly six-minute video, under investigation, the Indiana grandmother and her husband, known online as Salahudin Ibn Ja’far, 28, appear posing and hugging and holding weapons interspersed with photos of known and suspected terrorists and assorted jihadist propaganda, like an Awlaki sermon album cover.  There are photos of German Taliban Mujahideen and Daniel Martin Schneider, Eric Breininger and Houssain Al-Malla, members of the Saarland cell of Islamic Jihad Union charged with plotting failed terror attacks against U.S. targets in Germany, including Ramstein Air Force Base.

Predictably, “Jihad Kathie” denied any terrorist ties. She painted herself as an America-loving victim just exercising her First Amendment rights when questioned by the local media:

Click here to view the embedded video.

But she also exercised her First Amendment rights by pulling her incriminating YouTube video.

Her cause was picked up by Ryan J. Reilly at Talking Points Memo. He derided Winter’s article, claiming that Fox had “flubbed” the story.

But national terror experts interviewed by local media confirmed the Fox report, saying that “Jihad Kathie” had been on the terror radar for years. Reilly had buried this information halfway down his article. (Reilly, now the Justice reporter at the Huffington Post, made news last summer during the Ferguson riots when he infamously mistook foam earplugs for rubber bullets.)

Now, four-and-a-half years later, there’s no question where this Indiana grandmother’s loyalties lie. The taken name of her husband, Salahudin ibn Ja’far (his real name is Michel Al Rubai), came up in the investigation of 2010 Stockholm suicide bomber Taimour al-Abdaly and also in the 2011 killing of two U.S. Air Force personnel at the Frankfurt airport by Arid Uka. Terror researcher Aaron Weisburd has documented that Salahudin was connected with both Al-Abdaly and Uka. Salahudin also publicly praised Uka for killing the two U.S. airmen.

In May 2011, the jihadist couple was interviewed by Der Spiegel for a segment on Islamist networks in Germany which featured Weisburd’s research on their direct ties to a number of known terrorists. (The interview begins around the 2:00-minute mark):

Click here to view the embedded video.

In the interview, Salahudin justifies the killing of German and American soldiers under Islamic law. Again, “Jihad Kathie” claims she was just exercising her rights, and that the earlier media coverage in the U.S. had brought death threats to her family.

In June 2012, Salahudin was placed on one year of probation by a German court for two videos he had posted inciting violence.

Last summer, the couple attracted the attention of German media by hanging an ISIS flag outside their Saarbrücken apartment as the terror group invaded northern Iraq. The invasion included a campaign of ethnic and religious cleansing targeting Christians, Kurds, and Yazidis.

isis_fahne100~_v-videoteaser

The Saarbrücken neighborhood they live in is inhabited by a number of Assyrian Christian and Kurdish refugees whose people were being victimized by ISIS at that very time. Local groups protested the provocative act, including the Assyrian Cultural Association. An official of that group told the media:

We Assyrian Christians feel very hurt and concerned that in the middle of the city the sign of mass murder and genocide is publicly displayed directed at our fellow Christians.

Salahudin, a Muslim convert, happens to be a descendant of the Syrian Christians widely persecuted by ISIS.

Despite the open display of their ISIS sympathies being widely discussed in Germany by politicians and the media, no other U.S. outlet has yet mentioned the Indiana expatriate jihadist.

In Days of Old, When Knights Were Bold [The PJ Tatler]

Our image of medieval knights is one of slow, ponderous, clunky men in heavy armor, whaling away at each other with broadswords. Au contraire!

Click here to view the embedded video.

Cool, huh?

 

Why You Should Care About Evenwel v. Abbott [The PJ Tatler]

One of the ways the Left seizes and controls political power in the United States is by capturing the big cities in states like California, New York and Illinois, thus delivering the entire state to the Democrats when it comes to the Electoral College and rendering the hapless residents upstate, downstate or in the 99 percent of the Golden State not located in San Francisco and West Los Angeles effectively disenfranchised. But a case from Texas, which the Supreme Court just agreed to hear, could change all that:

The case — known as Evenwel v. Abbott — is arising from Texas. It’s about whether voting power has to be apportioned equally by general population or by eligible voters. The impact could extend way beyond the Lone Star State, shifting political power away from cities. Particularly cities with relatively high, non-voting immigrant populations like — oh, say — New York. The case has the potential to require authorities to strip away during the redistricting process population that isn’t eligible to vote — undocumented aliens, felons, children.

Edward Blum is the conservative constitutional sage who heads the Project on Fair Representation, which provided counsel in this case. He tells me the Nine could force redistricting. The court could, he said, “help upstate New York districts dramatically…” Slate.com is already suggesting that a victory by Mr. Blum’s clients — two Texas voters who feel under-represented — could mean “more Republican districts.” This is because most states apportion districts based on total population, which, Slate says, “includes noncitizens, children, felons and others ineligible to vote.”

What a good idea: make the Left eat its “one man, one vote” fetish — oh, how they hate the fact that the states are equally represented in the U.S. Senate, no matter how large or small they are. Soon enough, we will hear the predictable howls. In the meantime, let’s all thank Justice Clarence Thomas:

The Justices’ move into the Texas Senate redistricting case comes fourteen years after Justice Clarence Thomas, in Chen v. City of Houston in May 2001, was the sole member of the Court who went on record in favor of sorting out “what measure of population should be used for determining whether the population is equally distributed among the districts.”

The usual choice considered by legislatures is to make districts more or less equal by dividing up shares of the state’s total population, or, as an alternative, to draw lines based upon some measure of the voting members of the population — such as the numbers actually registered to vote.

Two Texas voters, who wound up in state senate districts where they say their votes will count less than the votes in another district even though each of those districts has about the same total number of people, argued that this contradicts the “one-person, one-vote” guarantee of voter equality. Their votes would have counted equally, they contended, if the legislature instead had used voting-age population as the measure.

Given that Obama is intent with flooding the country with non-citizens, this could be big — a real chance for the American people to take back their country again.

 

Rand Paul: America’s Salvation Beckons from Beyond Partisan Politics [The PJ Tatler]

Senator Rand Paul, candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination for President of the United States, “is not just the rarest of his kind, he is literally the only one.” So one commenter responded to an editorial in The Washinton Post declaring Paul’s candidacy dead on arrival. Dana Milbank writes:

The libertarian Kentucky senator’s new book, “Taking a Stand,” came out Tuesday, and it is chock-full of lines that would position Paul well — if he were running against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.

Milbank goes on to cite excerpts which opponents may easily characterize as “liberal.” Because that’s how we think about public policy these days, in a mindless partisan binary with no nuance or depth.

Ironically, Paul’s book is subtitled “Moving Beyond Partisan Politics to Unite America.” To move past our current constitutional crisis, we must transcend simplistic political labels and focus on the effect that policies have on people’s lives. We must do so irrespective of whether the policy came from our chosen political party.

I was recently told of a local Republican candidate for a state house seat who showed up to a venue to give a speech. He was greeted at the door by an event coordinator who hurried him to a packed room of eager activists. He proceeded with a fiery stump, going on at length about the excesses of government and the importance of personal liberty. The audience ate it up, applauding line after line. As he left, he realized that he’d walked into the wrong venue. He had addressed a union meeting where Democrat candidates had been expected.

The moral of the story: when ideas are stripped of their partisan packaging, they succeed or fail on their merit. That’s the point that Paul is trying to get across. It’s too bad that so many in either party would rather remain paralyzed in partisan posturing.

Are India’s Religious Minorities Better Off a Year in to the Modi Administration? [The PJ Tatler]

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been in office now for a year, and despite his promises of protection of India’s religious minorities, those minorities have seen continued attacks at the hands of militant Hindu groups.

Modi’s landslide victory in May 2014 drew statements of hope from representatives of India’s religious minorities, while others expressed concerns at the efforts by Hindu nationalist groups to help bring Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to power. Modi has made promises to protect minorities, but religious leaders have remained skeptical.

However, the All Indian Christian Council expressed reservations. National coordinator Kumar Swamy told Christian Today at the time that extremist Hindu groups had helped to “inflame” the BJP and increase its popularity, and warned that persecution would increase under its rule. “I’m sure there will be increased sporadic, localised attacks in the Christian community,” Swamy said. “Modi’s background is that he is sold out for Hindu ideology; he was a member of a right wing Hindu group and we as the Christian community in India are sitting, fingers crossed, wondering, waiting and watching what is going to happen.”

One year on from Swamy’s predictions, and it looks like his concerns were warranted. Speaking anonymously to Christian Today, a country expert for Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said that the climate for religious minorities has become “more and more uncertain in the last year”.

“Since the BJP took office in parliament, there has been greater impunity in the way that extremist groups have been behaving in civil society, so more and more we hear from the ground that minorities in the country are feeling a sense of fear and concern for their future,” the source said.

Earlier this month, several attacks on Christians in the country have renewed the skepticism of leaders.

Three Protestant churches were attacked in Indore, in Madhya Pradesh, on May 12, according to AsiaNews. The attackers threw stones at one church and vandalised numerous pieces of church property at St Paul’s Anglican Church.

The militants also tried to set fire to one of the churches by throwing burning rags inside the building. The police responded quickly and extinguished the flames before the fire spread.

Some have speculated that the violent Hindu group Sanskritik Jagran Manch was behind the attack.

In the early hours of May 13 a centre for disabled children run by Augustinian nuns in the same region was attacked by unknown criminals who threw bricks on the roof which fell in the room where the nuns were sleeping, AsiaNews reports. The nuns were unharmed in the incident, and none of the children were at centre on the night it was attacked.

Modi has not remained silent on these attacks, but his administration has not taken any concrete steps to remedy the violence.

A year in to his administration, Narendra Modi has proven to be all talk and no action when it comes to protecting India’s religious minorities.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / GongTo

Sid Vicious and Hillary! — Together Again [The PJ Tatler]

Hillary! really must be wishing right about now that she had tabled her presidential aspirations and just run off with the swag:

Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime confidant of Bill and Hillary Clinton, earned about $10,000 a month as a full-time employee of the Clinton Foundation while he was providing unsolicited intelligence on Libya to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to multiple sources familiar with the arrangement.

Blumenthal was added to the payroll of the Clintons’ global philanthropy in 2009 — not long after advising Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign — at the behest of former president Bill Clinton, for whom he had worked in the White House, say the sources.

While Blumenthal’s foundation job focused on highlighting the legacy of Clinton’s presidency, some officials at the charity questioned his value and grumbled that his hiring was a favor from the Clintons, according to people familiar with the foundation. They say that, during a 2013 reform push, Blumenthal was moved to a consulting contract that came with a similar pay rate but without benefits — an arrangement that endured until March.

Everything with these people is a racket — hardly surprising given Bill Clinton’s upbringing in the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organization town of Hot Springs, Ark.

A Clinton loyalist who first earned the family’s trust as an aggressive combatant in the political battles of the 1990s, Blumenthal continues to work as a paid consultant to two groups supporting Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign — American Bridge and Media Matters — both of which are run by David Brock, a close ally of both Clinton and Blumenthal.

Yet Blumenthal’s financial and personal connections to the Clintons and their allies have emerged as subjects of intense scrutiny as Clinton seeks to gain momentum for her presidential campaign. The memos — and Blumenthal’s concurrent work for the foundation, the Brock groups and a pair of businesses seeking potentially lucrative contracts in Libya — underscore the blurred lines between her State Department work and that of her family’s charitable and political enterprises.

“Blurred lines.” Yeah, right. They couldn’t be clearer if they were marked in Day-Glo chartreuse.

Blumenthal has been subpoenaed by the U.S. House committee investigating the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and Clinton’s handling of it. He is expected to testify next week about a series of memos containing sometimes specious intelligence on the situation in Libya, which he sent to Hillary Clinton’s personal email account.

The committee is said to be interested in exploring Blumenthal’s connections to any entity that may have stood to benefit from Clinton’s decisions in Libya. Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) also wants to probe how seriously the State Department took Blumenthal’s advice, which recently released emails show were met with skepticism at times.

This won’t stop until the American people finally rise up and stop it.

Obama’s Lawless Immigration ‘Overhaul’ in Legal Limbo [The PJ Tatler]

Good:

President Obama’s overhaul of the nation’s immigration system, which he announced in a prime-time speech to the nation last November, may remain under a cloud of legal uncertainty until months before he leaves office in 2017, legal experts and administration officials said Wednesday.

Officials from the Justice Department said in a statement that they would not ask the Supreme Court for permission to carry out the president’s immigration programs — which seek to provide work permits and deportation protection to millions of undocumented immigrants — while a fight over presidential authority plays out in the lower courts. That legal battle may extend for a year or more, officials said, undermining any hope of putting the president’s plan into effect until right before the 2016 election.

Well, the whole point of the plan is to Cloward-Piven the electoral system and flood the nation with illegals from Mexico and elsewhere under the false flag of “compassion” while de facto legalizing those who are already here, thus affording the Democrats even more shock troops in their war on the nation as founded.

“The timing is critical,” said Stephen H. Legomsky, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis. “If the process drags on until the summer of 2016, then implementation becomes very difficult.” The inability to quickly put into effect the president’s reforms is another severe blow to Hispanic activists, who had successfully lobbied Mr. Obama to take bold executive action in the face of Republican opposition to comprehensive changes in immigration law.

In a statement, officials from the Justice Department said they disagreed with a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit that continues to block the president’s immigration actions. But they said the government will fight on the merits of the program, rather than push for permission to carry it out immediately.

“The department believes the best way to achieve this goal is to focus on the ongoing appeal on the merits of the preliminary injunction itself,” said Patrick Rodenbush, a spokesman for the Justice Department.

Somehow I doubt this will be the last Obama action “under a cloud of legal uncertainty” before this wretched administration ends.  Meanwhile, let’s hope the lower courts stick to their guns.

 

Bill and Hillary! Learn the Meaning of RICO [The PJ Tatler]

Leave it to Larry Klayman of Judicial Watch to finally connect the dots regarding Clinton Inc.

Bill and Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation have been hit with a racketeering lawsuit in Florida court. The lawsuit, filed by Larry Klayman of Freedom Watch, includes a legal request to have the Florida judge seize the private server on which Hillary Clinton and her aides hosted their emails while she served as secretary of state. Klayman has filed dozens of lawsuits against the Clintons and other prominent politicians.

The racketeering, influenced and corrupt organizations, or RICO, case alleges the former first couple and their family philanthropy traded political favors for donations or generous speaking fees for Bill Clinton while his wife was the nation’s chief diplomat.

Honestly, the pretzels into which the media has tied itself trying not to see a clear pattern of criminal behavior — and instead fretting about “the appearance of impropriety,” to use the current cliche — is truly amazing. It’s obvious what’s going on here:

“Negotiations by email about influencing U.S. foreign policy or U.S. Government actions to benefit donors to … The Clinton Foundation or sponsors of speaking engagements would not be captured on a U.S. Government email account because her emails would not be with a U.S. Government official,” Klayman said in court documents obtained by the Washington Examiner.

“Hillary Clinton deleted 32,000 email messages from her email server that included her communications arranging, negotiating, and agreeing upon speaking engagements by Bill Clinton in return for large speaking fees and donations to The Clinton Foundation,” the documents, dated May 20, said.

Klayman pushed the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida to order a “neutral forensic expert … to take custody and control of the private email server and reconstruct and preserve the official U.S. Government records relating to the conduct of U.S. foreign policy during Defendant Secretary Clinton’s term as Secretary of State.”

If the destruction of Hillary!’s server doesn’t indicate a guilty conscience, I don’t know what does.

Taliban 5 Could Be Free to Return to the Battlefield Within Days (Video) [The PJ Tatler]

Because of the Obama administration’s badly advised prisoner swap a year ago,  five dangerous and unreformed Taliban leaders could soon be returning to the battlefield.

The five were traded for Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl and unless a deal is made with Qatar to extend their monitoring, they could be free to travel as early as Monday.

Via Fox News: 

The five former Guantanamo detainees have been under close monitoring in Qatar and subject to a travel ban since their release last year. The agreement with Qatar is set to expire June 1.

While the Washington Post reported earlier this month that the administration was in talks with Qatari officials about potentially extending security measures for the group, it’s unclear if any restrictions will remain in place after the end of the month.

Asked this week if the talks produced any agreement, a State Department official told FoxNews.com, “We don’t have any updates.”

Congressional lawmakers have grown anxious.

Joe Kasper, spokesman for House Armed Services Committee member Rep. Duncan Hunter R-Calif., said his office has gotten “radio silence” from the administration in asking about the issue.

“They have to be concerned with what happens to the five Taliban because they made every effort to portray the trade as a good deal,” Kasper said in an email. “The nightmare scenario for the Administration is if any of these guys show up again within the global battlespace, be it in some kind of leadership position or just as messengers of threats or propaganda.”

Members of Congress have repeatedly expressed concern about what will happen after the travel ban expires. They have asked the Obama administration to try to persuade Qatar to extend the monitoring.

“This is one of the biggest mistakes President Obama has ever made,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) told Greta Van Susteren Wednesday evening. “Because there are men, women – somebody’s child – is going to have to get back into that fight and engage with them again. They are dangerous people. The president continues to have no enemy combatant strategy – he doesn’t have a strategy in the middle east, and we’re putting five known terrorists back into the fight – it’s just so outrageous.”

Greta Van Susteren noted that Bergdhal – an alleged Army deserter –  was swapped for five Taliban leaders without the Obama administration notifying Congress 30 days in advance as required — making it “all the more appalling.”

“It was found by the GAO that the Obama administration – the president –  was in violation of the law,” Chaffetz pointed out.

“I want to hear from Susan Rice. How is it that she stood before the American people and sold us a lie?  She went out there and said that he served with honor and distinction.” He added, “I’m sorry, Greta, but he did not. He deserted, and people died trying to find him.”

Chaffetz went on to explain why Obama blew past Congress without giving them the required 30 day notice.

“This is something we see that is a pattern with this president. He’s so desperate to close Guantanamo Bay at all costs – even at the cost of American lives,” he said.  ”That’s why so many people are disgusted – in a very bipartisan way.”

Click here to view the embedded video.

Yes yes –  we’re all so outraged and disgusted, but not enough to actually do anything about it. It’s just another instance where Obama violated the law –  putting American and/or our allies’ lives in danger  - but as usual,  no one wants to mention the congressional remedy to deal with his serial abuses of power.

 

 

Reduce, Reuse, Accuse [Judge John Hodgman]

How should a couple catch a recycling bin thief?

UbuConLA 2015: Attendee Registration Now Open [Ubuntu Fridge]

[en]

Attendee registration for UbuConLA 2015 has just opened. UbuConLA is the biggest Ubuntu conference in Latin America, and will take place at University of Lima in Lima, Peru on the 7th and 8th August. You can find more information about the conference here.

Attendee registration is now open. You can fill out this form in order to register for the conference. Registration will only be open for the first 200 attendees, since the auditorium capacity is limited.

We have a partnership with Hotel & Spa Golf Los Incas. For more information about room rates and hotel services, please go to the hotel page on our website.

If you want to present a talk at the conference, please fill out the Call for Papers form.

The schedule for the conference will be available on summit.ubuntu.com. It will be updated with the final talk slots once the Call for Papers has closed and the speakers have been defined. You will be able to access a livestream of the conference sessions in the same website.

If you have any questions regarding the conference, please send an email to jose@ubuntu.com. See you in Lima!

[es]

El registro de asistentes para la UbuConLA 2015 acaba de abrir. La UbuConLA es la conferencia de Ubuntu más grande de Latinoamérica, y se llevará a cabo en la Universidad de Lima, en Lima, Peru el 7 y 8 de agosto. Puedes encontrar más información sobre la conferencia aquí.

El registro de asistentes ya se encuentra abierto. Puedes rellenar este formulario para registrarte en la conferencia. El registro se encuentra limitado a los primeros 200 asistentes, ya que la capacidad del auditorio es limitada.

Tenemos una asociación con el Hotel & Spa Golf Los Incas. Para más información sobre tarifas y servicios del hotel, por favor ingresa a la página del hotel en nuestro sitio web.

Si deseas presentar una charla en la conferencia, por favor rellena el formulario del Llamado a Charlas.

El cronograma de la conferencia estará disponible en summit.ubuntu.com. Será actualizado con los slots de charlas finales una vez que el Llamado a Charlas cierre y los ponentes sean definidos. En el mismo sitio podrá accederse a un livestream de las sesiones de la conferencia.

Si tienes alguna pregunta sobre la conferencia, por favor envía un email a jose@ubuntu.com. ¡Nos vemos en Lima!

Leather Jacket [KCRW's Martini Shot]

Rob takes a story with the worst and most dysfunctional moral ever, then kind of twists it so it comes out okay.

Sorry, PC vendors: The free Windows 10 upgrade means users won't be buying new PCs [PCWorld]

Microsoft’s decision to offer free upgrades to Windows 10 was terrific news—for users, but not the PC industry.

IDC said Thursday that it expects PC sales to decline further in 2015, by 6.2 percent, versus an actual drop of 2.2 percent in 2014. In part, that’s because the analyst firm doesn’t see a need for users to invest in new PCs to run Windows 10. “[C]hanges like the free upgrade option for consumers and platform integration aren’t expected to drive a surge in new PC shipments,” IDC wrote.

Unfortunately, the only segment that will move quickly on Windows 10 is the segment that won't pay for it, IDC noted. "The consumer transition to Windows 10 should happen quickly, but the free upgrade reduces the need for a new PC." Instead, the firm predicted consumers will buy more mobile devices: "Many consumers will continue to prioritize spending on phones, tablets, and wearable devices like the Apple Watch during the holiday season.”

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

Using Android Pay: 5 things you need to know [PCWorld]

Goodbye, Google Wallet! It's Android Pay's time to shine. Google has finally souped up its mobile payments system—though not too much. It's a pretty straightforward upgrade, with a few new features added to make it more secure than its predecessor. If you're interested in using it yourself, here's a quick primer on what you need to know about Android Pay. 

What is Android Pay?

Android Pay is Google’s new mobile payment platform. It uses the existing NFC chip in your phone, just like Google Wallet. If you had Google Wallet setup beforehand, all of that existing payment information will transfer over to Android Pay—it’s essentially the same API. Android Pay will also work for person-to-person payment transactions and the app will also let you store any supported loyalty cards.

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

Google Jump eases virtual reality creation with camera hardware, assembler software and YouTube [PCWorld]

If Cardboard was Google’s way to democratize virtual reality, the company announced the next step to make it more accessible with Google Jump.

Google Jump is made up of three parts: The first is the camera. Google provides free specs on how to build a 360-degree camera rig, including schematics for 3D-printing components. Bavor said the company knows not everyone will want to mill their own, so he also presented GoPro’s turn-key product, which uses an array of 16 cameras to shoot VR video.

pcw 0527 PCWorld

Google will give away plans and details on how to build your own stereoscopic VR rig this summer.

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

Google to widen Maps' offline features [PCWorld]

Turn-by-turn navigation and local business reviews will be available without an Internet connection

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

Major MMO WildStar is dropping paid subscriptions and switching to free-to-play [PCWorld]

It’s not even June and already last year’s big subscription MMOs are heading to the free-to-play model. Elder Scrolls Online made the switch a few weeks back, rebranding itself as “Tamriel Unlimited,” which sounds like a weird crossover between Elder Scrolls and Test Drive.

And as of this morning, sci-fi MMO WildStar announced it’s also going free-to-play. From the official announcement:

“This fall will be an exciting time for WildStar as we transition to Free-to-Play. Since launch we’ve listened to all of your feedback and worked hard to improve your game experience. Part of that goal has always been to bring more players in to experience WildStar, and that’s what Free-to-Play is all about.”

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

Android M's major new features, from Android Pay to awesome app permissions [PCWorld]

Last year, Android Lollipop gave Google’s operating system the visual makeover it so desperately needed. Now that the eye candy’s taken care of, Android M’s going to be all about bringing that same level of polish to the core Android user experience.

Revealed Thursday at Google’s I/O 2015 keynote, Android M fixes many of the operating system’s more frustrating quirks, while simultaneously adding features to keep Google’s operating system competitive with Apple’s iOS.

Android Pay and fingerprint support

Speaking to the latter point are Android M’s pair of flagship new features: Android Pay and a standardized fingerprint API that brings a consistent biometric experience to the operating system. Both are obvious echoes of Apple’s Apple Pay and Touch ID, respectively, but they should still prove highly welcome to Android users.

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

The best Google Cardboard VR apps [PCWorld]

Games, concerts, and other immersive virtual reality experiences—and many are available for free.

IDC: Windows 10 won't save declining PC market [PCWorld]

Global PC shipments will decline for the fourth consecutive year as people continue re-directing money towards smartphones and tablets.

Worldwide PC shipments will decrease by 6.2 percent in 2015, even though the end of Microsoft’s support for Windows XP spurred demand for PCs and nearly stabilized shipments, according to IDC. PC vendors, anticipating the arrival of Windows 10, have reduced their inventory levels.

Windows 10 will be a “significant contributor” to PC shipments, but won’t lead to a sales burst. Although enterprises will purchase PCs running Windows 10, consumers won’t be as keen on buying a new PC because Microsoft will provide them with a free upgrade to the new OS, as long as they’re running legal versions of Windows 7 or 8.

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

Google Expeditions gives schoolkids Google Cardboard and phones so they can go to the moon [PCWorld]

With teachers’ budgets barely able to provide No. 2 pencils for kids in some school districts, going on a field trip to Asia or Greece isn’t exactly in the cards. But it is in the Cardboard—Google Cardboard, the centerpiece of the company’s new Expeditions kit that lets kids go on virtual-reality tours to exotic lands.

Expeditions is a complete kit—in a cardboard box, of course—with everything needed for a teacher to take kids up to the moon, beneath the ocean, or into a museum. That means phones for each student, and a tablet for the teacher to run the field trip.

Using the tablet, the teacher controls the experience. If that day’s trip is to the American Museum of Natural History, all of the phones are synced and go there simultaneously. 

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

How to get started with Cardboard, Google's DIY virtual reality headset [PCWorld]

Google, one of the largest and most influential tech companies on the planet, decided to enter the virtual reality space with a smartphone shell made of cardboard. True story! It gave away a kit to Google I/O attendees last summer, and then posted the plans online so anyone with an empty pizza box or stray shipping carton could hack together a lo-fi VR device with a handful of cheap parts.

Cardboard might sound silly, but it has caught on in a serious way: the plans have been downloaded more than 500,000 times, there are dozens upon dozens of compatible apps, and now LG and Mattel are creating plastic versions. You can even buy a standard cardboard viewer from third-party companies if you don’t want to make one yourself.

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

HBO Now cut loose from Apple exclusivity, is coming to Chromecast and Android devices [PCWorld]

Fear not, cord cutters: HBO’s standalone streaming service, HBO Now, is coming to Android devices and Chromecast later this summer. Sundar Pichai, Google’s Senior Vice President of Android, Chrome, and Apps, made the announcement during Google I/O’s keynote presentation on Thursday, assuring everyone that the service would launch just in time for the season premiere of True Detective—which is June 21.

HBO Now

Hang out with Daenerys and all of your other HBO faves, coming in June. 

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

Offline access: Google's plan to attract the next billion users [PCWorld]

Not everyone enjoys the constant connectivity that First World users take for granted. So, for developing countries—and, possibly, the U.S.?—Google said it will allow many of its apps to be accessible offline. 

“Making the world’s information accessible to users everywhere has been at the heart of what Google does, right from the start,” said Jen Fitzpatrick, vice president of engineering, on stage at the Google I/O developer conference keynote on Thursday. 

“More and more people are getting a new smartphone, and for many of these people, it will be their very first computer,” Fitzpatrick said. She added that just six countries, including China, Mexico, and Brazil, will be responsible for 1.2 billion smartphone sales by 2016, but many of them lack pervasive Internet access. "These people will have a profound impact on mobile computing, both as users and as creators," Fitzpatrick continued. "So we’re thinking very carefully how we evolve our products, and our platforms, to address their particular needs.”

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

Google will personalize the Play Store with better discoverability and parental controls [PCWorld]

Kids love tablets and smartphones, but you can’t just hand over a tablet and let them go to town. They need help finding appropriate apps, games, and videos. That’s where you, the parent, comes in, and Google is making changes to the Google Play Store to make it easier.

Announced Wednesday at the Google I/O keynote, the Google Play Store is going custom—and not just for kids, for everyone. If you’re a fitness buff, you’ll see the latest and greatest workout apps on the home screen, and if you’re a foodie, the latest cooking shows and apps. When you search for a general topic like shopping, the results will be broken down into more manageable chunks, grouping together apps under subheads like Coupons and Fashion.

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

Nvidia Shield hands-on: The first high-end Android TV box ships today, rife with features [PCWorld]

Nvidia is skipping straight over pre-orders for its Nvidia Shield Android TV, letting people buy the streaming set-top box for immediate shipping.

At $200 with 16GB of flash storage, or $300 with a 500GB hard drive, the Shield is more than twice the price of most other TV boxes, but Nvidia is hoping 4K video support and a bunch of gaming options will justify the cost.

The Shield is the first product with Nvidia’s X1 64-bit processor inside. Despite its ARM-based architecture, which usually winds up in phones and tablets, performance is on par with previous-generation game consoles. In my hands-on time, the Shield played Portal at close to 60 frames per second, and The Talos Principle in the 30 fps to 60 fps range. (Other modern games such as Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel are also coming to Shield, but weren’t yet playable on the review unit I received.)

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

Google tweaks its cloud tech to make push notifications more meaningful to you [PCWorld]

Google’s making it easier for apps and websites to push you the content you want to see, when you want to see it, no matter which device you’re using.

During the Google I/O 2015 keynote on Thursday, Google’s developer product group head Jason Titus announced that the company’s behind-the-scenes cloud messaging technology—which apps can already use to push notifications to Google users’ Android devices and Chrome browsers—now supports iOS devices as well. In other words, an app’s notification can reach you across all your devices using the single, central cloud messaging system—assuming you’re using the major platforms, at least.

cloud messaging

But more interestingly than that, cloud messaging has also been updated to allow developers to set up specific topics to receive (or not receive) notifications about. For example, when you subscribe to notifications from a news app, you can choose to be informed when there’s a hot new science or technology story, but skip acerbic political drama.

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Google launches new Photos app with editing tools and free unlimited storage [PCWorld]

Google's Inbox app is now available for all [PCWorld]

Anyone with a Gmail or Google Apps account can now try out Inbox.

Inbox is an overhaul of Gmail, giving you the ability to snooze, pin, and quickly swipe away emails. Inbox launched about eight months ago, and has been invite-only since then—though recently, Google let in a pilot group of Google Apps users to test it out. Google announced the wider availability and new features at the keynote for its I/O developer conference Thursday.   

Many new features come as part of the update. For example, you'll be able to undo sent messages from your phone or the web version. You can also make delete the default option when swiping emails.

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Now on Tap will make Google Now even better in Android M [PCWorld]

Google Now is already the envy of every iOS user, and Google is set to make Android’s best feature even better in the upcoming Android M release. Context is key to understanding what information you need and when, and the brand-new Now on Tap feature will bring you answers based on more contexts than ever; even the app you’re using or what you’re reading about online.

Google Now already uses contexts to decide what you need to know—you require different information at Disneyland than you would at home or at work, explained Aparna Chennapragada, Google’s director of product management, when introducing Now on Tap at the Google I/O keynote. Now on Tap works with more contexts, like the current app you’re using and what’s happening inside it. It’s best shown off in demos, and the demos at I/O were beyond impressive.

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

Android M will extend battery life with Doze management tools and fast-charging USB-C port [PCWorld]

We all want more battery life. At the Google I/O keynote on Thursday, Dave Burke, VP of engineering for Android, announced that Android M would include two major features to help our devices last longer and be easier to charge. 

The first will be a new Android feature called Doze. Android devices can lose a lot of battery life by catering to apps’ insatiable need for updates. Doze will monitor whether you’re actively using your device. After a period of inactivity, Doze will dial back app activity to save battery life.

“What we’re doing is trading off a little bit of app freshness for longer battery life,” Burke explained. He showed a performance chart comparing the same activity load on two Nexus 9 phones, one running Android Lollipop and the other running Android M. The Android M phone lasted up to twice as long in standby as its Lollipop counterpart. 

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Android M brings hefty upgrades to core user experience [PCWorld]

Improvements in this latest update to Google's mobile OS include battery life, permissions and more.

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Google plans to have your home run Android with Project Brillo and Weave [PCWorld]

Google has announced a new Android-based OS that could eventually let you tell your oven to turn on and set the temperature for 350 degrees.

Project Brillo is the company’s pitch to put and Android-derived operating system into ovens, thermostats, alarms, and any appliance that could use a boost in brain power. Similar to the company’s efforts to make an easily-malleable OS available for smart watches, Project Brillo will also feature APIs such as voice recognition.

Your Project Brillo-based oven could thus recognize a phrase telling it to turn on for two hours and set the temperature to 350 degrees. The company said hardware requirements for Brillo will be minimal and there will be wide silicon support. Since it’s based on Android, Google execs also said security will be a top priority. 

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

Here's your first Android M changelog [PCWorld]

Google unwrapped Android M at its I/O developer conference Thursday, detailing a ton of new features designed to make the operating system more useful and secure.

The presentation, which focused on app permissions, Android Pay, and developer tools, wrapped up with a giant letter “M” filled with all the new features.

Here’s the list:

  • Android Pay
  • Easy word selection
  • Floating clipboard toolbar
  • Work contacts in personal contexts
  • Hotspot 2.0 R1
  • VPN apps in settings
  • Flex storage
  • Duplex printing
  • App standby
  • Seamless certificate installation for enterprise
  • Undo/redo keyboard shortcuts
  • Do not disturb automatic rules
  • Data usage API for work profiles
  • Material Design support library
  • Bluetooth SAP
  • Voice interaction service
  • USB Type C charging
  • App link verification
  • Battery historian v2BT 4.2
  • Simplified volume controls
  • IMproved bluetooth low energy scanning
  • Doze
  • Text selection actions
  • Improved text hyphenation and justification
  • Improved diagnostics
  • IT admin acceptance of OTAs
  • Google Now on tap
  • Chrome custom tabs
  • Auto backup for apps
  • Unified app settings view
  • UI toolkit
  • Contextual assist framework
  • Enterprise factory reset protection
  • Direct Share
  • Corporate owned single use device support
  • Do not disturb quick setting and repeat caller prioritization
  • Improved trusted face reliability
  • Improved text layout 
  • Fingerprint sensor formance support
  • Alphabetic app list with search
  • Unified Google new runtime settings and permissions
  • Work status notification
  • MIDI support 5GHz
  • Portable Wi-Fi hot-spot Bluetooth connectivity for device provisioning
  • Seven additional languages
  • Power improvements in WiFi scanning
  • Data binding support library
  • Beta setup wizard
  • IMAP sign-in
  • Delegated certificate installation

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Google's Android Pay is what Google Wallet should have been [PCWorld]

Move over, Google Wallet. Watch out, Apple Pay. Google said Thursday at its Google I/O conference that it is launching a successor to Google Wallet, called Android Pay, for Android phones running KitKat and above. 

Android Pay will work with AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile, though not Sprint, apparently. The service will work with Android 4.4 KitKat on up, including the new Android M, and will launch about the same time Android M does, executives said.

Android Pay will be simple and secure, promised Dave Burke, the vice president of engineering for Android at Google. All you’ll need to do is unlock your phone, place it near the NFC terminal at over 700,000 stores in the U.S., and that’s it. Supported stores will include Macy’s, Bloomingdales, McDonalds, Subway, and more. And you can use it to purchase physical items from online stores, too, via sites and apps like GrubHub, Orbitz, NewEgg, Uber, and more.

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

IBM pitches analysis software for select industry verticals [PCWorld]

Extending the reach of its analysis software and services, IBM plans to release 20 analytics packages customized to the needs of specific industries.

Available by the end of June, the packages will target businesses in retail, banking, telecommunications, insurance and other fields. Additional packages will be released in the future.

The packages augment off-the-shelf analytics software, from IBM or other parties, that organizations may already be running.

The software is intended to “speed up the process of applying complex analytics,” said Alistair Rennie, IBM general manager of analytics solutions. “They will deliver insight that business people can use very quickly.”

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

Android M's getting the equivalent of Apple's Touch ID [PCWorld]

Fingerprint authentication is nothing new. Enterprise PCs have had it for years. Apple introduced Touch ID in the iPhone 5S in 2013. Sporadic Android phones have unlocked with your touch over the years as well, like the Motorola Atrix and recent Samsung Galaxy phones. But Android-based implementation of fingerprint recognition has never been centralized around a standard API—until Android M.

The new fingerprint API in Android M brings many of the conveniences of Touch ID to Google’s platform. On Android M phones equipped with a fingerprint scanner, you’ll be able to unlock your device with a touch, as well as use your finger to authenticate purchases made in the Play Store or with the similarly new Android Pay (which itself mimes Apple’s Apple Pay service, which was introduced last year).

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

Chrome Custom Tabs smooths the transition between apps and the web [PCWorld]

The line between apps and web content can be blurry, and actually, keeping it blurry is a better experience—it can be jarring to tap on something inside an app and suddenly be bumped off to a web browser. Chrome Custom Tabs, a new feature coming to Android M, aims to smooth the transition.

Announced Thursday at the Google I/O keynote, Chrome Custom Tabs gives developers a way to skin a Chrome tab with custom colors to make it look more like the native app. The tab runs right on top of the app, and the app can pre-fetch web content so that tab loads more quickly when the user taps on something to launch it. Best of all, a back button takes you right back to where you left off in the app.

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

FCC proposal would extend Lifeline voice subsidy to broadband [PCWorld]

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission will consider including broadband within a controversial program that subsidizes telephone or mobile service for poor people.

Recipients of the FCC’s Lifeline program, which provides a US$9.25 monthly subsidy for voice service, could use that money to purchase broadband service instead under a proposal from FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. Eligible households would continue to receive one $9.25 monthly subsidy, and they could choose whether to apply the money to traditional telephone service, mobile service or broadband, FCC officials said Thursday.

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Android M to overhaul the way app permissions work [PCWorld]

With Android M you’ll no longer have a long list of permissions to approve when installing an app.

Google announced at its I/O conference Thursday that instead you’ll approve specific permissions when you go to use that feature inside the app. For example, if you try an action that wants to use the microphone, location, or the camera, you’ll get a popup asking you to approve that particular function. The permissions are also designed to be simpler for you to understand exactly what you’re saying, “yes” to.

Android M is a developer preview, so we’re not likely to see a formal release until later this year. 

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

Like routers, most USB modems also vulnerable to drive-by hacking [PCWorld]

The majority of 3G and 4G USB modems offered by mobile operators to their customers have vulnerabilities in their Web-based management interfaces that could be exploited remotely when users visit compromised websites.

The flaws could allow attackers to steal or manipulate text messages, contacts, Wi-Fi settings or the DNS (Domain Name System) configuration of affected modems, but also to execute arbitrary commands on their underlying operating systems. In some cases, the devices can be turned into malware delivery platforms, infecting any computers they’re plugged into.

Russian security researchers Timur Yunusov and Kirill Nesterov presented some of the flaws and attacks that can be used against USB modems Thursday at the Hack in the Box security conference in Amsterdam.

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

Do Santorum and Pataki have a chance, or are they just dreaming? [Wizbang]

“Pataki is the eighth Republican candidate to announce his run for the White House, and does so one day after former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum launched his second presidential campaign. ” – FoxNews.com As of May 12th of 2015, Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball has Rick Santorum ranked as a fourth-tier candidate and George Pataki as a fifth-tier candidate. Discussion Question: Do either Santorum or Pataki have a reasonable chance of winning the GOP nomination for POTUS?

After Loud Support, Now Los Angeles Unions Want Exemption from $15 Minimum Wage Law [Wizbang]

Once again wallowing in the hypocrisy that is liberalism, the same unions that went to the mat to support the new $15 per hour minimum wage law in Los Angeles are now demanding that the city exempt unionized companies from being forced to pay a minimum wage of $15 per hour. The city’s union leaders were some of the loudest supporters of the new minimum wage, but now those same leaders are demanding that the L.A. City Council change the rules and exempt their own special interests from being stuck with the new wage. Once again we see liberals insisting

Bernie Sanders’s Dark Age Economics [Ed Driscoll]

“Bernie Sanders, the Brooklyn socialist who represents Vermont in the Senate, generated a great deal of mirth on Tuesday when he wondered aloud how it is that a society with 23 kinds of deodorant and 18 kinds of sneakers* has hungry children,” Kevin D. Williamson writes at NRO:

Setting aside the fact that we must have hundreds of kinds of deodorant and thousands of choices of sneakers, Senator Sanders here communicates a double falsehood: The first falsehood is that the proliferation of choices in consumer goods is correlated with poverty, among children or anybody else, which is flatly at odds with practically all modern human experience. The reality is precisely the opposite: Poverty is worst where consumers have the fewest choices, e.g., in North Korea, the old Soviet Union, the socialist paradise that is modern Venezuela, etc. The second falsehood is that choice in consumer goods represents the loss of resources that might have gone to some other end — that if we had only one kind of sneaker, then there would be more food available for hungry children.

Lest you suspect that I am distorting the senator’s words, here they are:

You can’t just continue growth for the sake of growth in a world in which we are struggling with climate change and all kinds of environmental problems. All right? You don’t necessarily need a choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants or of 18 different pairs of sneakers when children are hungry in this country. I don’t think the media appreciates the kind of stress that ordinary Americans are working on.

This is a very old and thoroughly discredited idea, one that dates back to Karl Marx and to the anti-capitalists who preceded him. It is a facet of the belief that free markets are irrational, and that if reason could be imposed on markets — which is to say, if reason could be imposed on free human beings — then enlightened planners could ensure that resources are directed toward their best use. This line of thinking historically has led to concentration camps, gulags, firing squads, purges, and the like, for a few reasons: The first is that free markets are not irrational; they are a reflection of what people actually value at a particular time relative to the other things that they might also value. Real people simply want things that are different from what the planners want them to want, a predicament that can be solved only through violence and the threat of violence. That is the first reason that this sort of planning leads to gulags. The second is that there are no enlightened planners; men such as Senator Sanders imagine themselves to be candidates for enlightened leadership, but put a whip in his hand and the gentleman from Vermont will turn out to be another thug in the long line of thugs who have cleaved to his faith. The third reason that this sort of planning always works out poorly is that nobody knows what the best use of resources actually is; all that the would-be masters know is that they do not approve of the current deployment of resources.

Elsewhere in his introduction to Economics 101, a refresher that will of course go unread by the reprimitivized socialists who need it the most, Williamson writes:

Prices in markets are not arbitrary — they are reflections of how real people actually value certain goods and services in the real world. Arbitrarily changing the dollar numbers attached to those preferences does not change the underlying reality any more than trimming Cleveland off a map of the United States actually makes Cleveland disappear.

Real people simply want things that are different from what the planners want them to want, a predicament that can be solved only through violence and the threat of violence.

Dollars are just a method of keeping count, and mandating higher wages for work that has not changed at all is, in the long run, like measuring yourself in centimeters instead of inches in order to make yourself taller, or tracking your weight in kilograms instead of pounds as a means of losing weight. The gentlemen in Washington seem to genuinely believe that if they measure their penises in picas they’ll all be Jonah Falcon — in reality, their interns won’t notice any difference.

Heh. And that dovetails nicely with the Sanders’ own writing, circa 1972. If we’re going to look back at what presidential candidates said in high school or college (with the notable exception of BHO in 2008, of course), then this sounds like something that should be put into circulation as well:

In an article entitled “Men-And-Women,” published in an alternative newspaper called the “Vermont Freeman” Sanders shared his thoughts on male and female sexuality in ways that would cause a media firestorm if it had been penned by any current GOP candidate. Even one with as little chance at grabbing his party’s nomination as Sanders currently has.

“A man goes home and masturbates his typical fantasy,” wrote Sanders. “A woman on her knees. A woman tied up. A woman abused.”

Sanders didn’t specify as to how he had gained such a deep understanding of the male psyche.

In terms of his understanding of female sexual fantasies, Sanders provided similar insight.

“A woman enjoys intercourse with her man–as she fantasizes about being raped by 3 men simultaneously.”

It is unclear where Sanders acquired his early expertise on male and female sexual desires. But what is clear is that had Ted Cruz or Rick Santorum wrote something along these lines–even 40 years ago–the media wouldn’t stop talking about it for weeks.

But of course, like John Kerry in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008 before him, Sanders enters the presidential field in the full knowledge that his fellow socialists with bylines will never question his past statements.

* No word yet what a key industry in Sanders’ constituency thinks of this notion.

Irish Billionaire Injuncting Media Over Loan Revelations [Guido Fawkes]

denis-obrien-dail-report Injunctions gained today make it harder for anyone in Ireland to find out about the scandal swirling around the politically connected Irish billionaire Denis O’Brien. He seemingly managed to obtain loans at a bargain rate of 1.25% from IBRC – the nationalised remnant of the bust Anglo-Irish Bank – saving himself tens of millions in interest payments annually on the prevailing 7.5% commercial interest rate. How? Well it appears the loans were agreed verbally. As you do…

As the Irish deputy Catherine Murphy told the Dail “Given that we are talking about outstanding sums of upwards of €500 million, the interest rate applied is not an insignificant issue for the public interest.” The loans relate to a deal for a company called Siteserv, the takeover of which is also in itself highly controversial. Murphy raised the issue and proposed a motion to have the matter more thoroughly examined today in parliament, O’Brien immediately got privacy injunctions preventing the Irish media from reporting what she said in parliament. Unfortunately for Denis O’Brien the whole report is still available under privilege on the official parliament website 404-obrien Denis O’Brien’s lawyers may have been able to injunct and 404 the Irish media. However this has only lead to the Streisand Effect coming into play…


Tagged: Ireland, Siteserv

How FIFA Tried To Distract the World at Its Annual Conference Today [Guido Fawkes]

14 FIFA officials have been charged with corruption and their President is facing calls to resign, but that hasn’t stopped football’s governing body from rolling out the red carpet for the opening ceremony of its annual conference today.

Maybe they were hoping the FBI would be distracted by their glamarous host:

fifa6

Or perhaps these scantily clad female dancers:

fifa8

If not, there was this dude singing Swiss power ballads:

fifa20

With a ballerina:

fifa12

And this lady blowing some sort of Swiss national horn:

fifa1

And this guy playing the drums:

fifa7

All culminating bizarrely with a lady pirouetting in a circle again and again:

fifa9

And fire. Lots of fire.

You wouldn’t know their bosses had just had their doors kicked down in morning raids, would you?


Tagged: Crime, FIFA, Sleaze, Totty Watch

Cooper Overtakes Burnham in Labour MP Declarations Race [Guido Fawkes]

Five more Labour MPs have come out for Yvette: Liam Byrne and Virendra Sharma as well as newbies Judith Cummins, Ruth Cadbury and Marie Rimmer. That means she is now ahead of Burnham among Labour MPs who have publicly declared who they are backing. You can see all of those public declarations below:

They need 35 to get on the ballot paper. Send news of new declarations to team@order-order.com.


Tagged: Labour Leadership, Labour Party

Channel 4 News Economics Editor: Capitalism “Past Its Best” [Guido Fawkes]

Ah, Paul Mason. Channel 4’s resident communist hero-worshipper has taken some time out of spinning for Syriza to write this gem for the New Statesman‘s ironically titled “saying the unsayable” series:

“It’s becoming just about sayable, though to howls of pain, that neoliberal economics is nonsense. And that the neoliberal model is broken. What’s hard for the economics profession to accept is what this means: that capitalism itself could be past its best. The traditional escape mechanism – adaptation through high-value job creation and the creation of new technologies – becomes hard to maintain once information technology pervades everything, tanking production costs. So we are stuck: we fear automating en masse because we can’t imagine what jobs people will do who are displaced. This is the clearest sign that we might be living through a 500-year turning point, not just a 50-year one, with the exhaustion of a model and a financial crash.”

How exactly has the “neoliberal model” – or capitalism, as more rational people call it – fared in the last 40 years? Well it has delivered an 80% decline in world poverty for starters:

Does that really look like a “broken” model?


Tagged: Channel 4, Loony Left, Media Guido

Climate Change Could Transform Hull Into ‘Venice of the North’ [Guido Fawkes]

VENICE

The Telegraph’s Science Editor, Sarah Knapton, seems to be having a bit of fun at the expense of the people of Hull today. In an article titled “Will Hull still exist in 100 years?” Knapton reports on remarks made by the head of policy at the Town and Country Planning Association, Hugh Ellis, repeating without question his claim that “the science tells us” the sea level will rise by at least 120cm in the next century. Apparently Hull will end up under water.

Knapton then repeats an old warning from the Royal Institute of British Architects that Hull could be transformed into the ‘Venice of the north” if climate change is allowed to rage unabated. Will the locals be falling out of nightblubs at 2am into gondolas?


Tagged: climate change, Gaia Fawkes, Telegraph

Egrets, I Have a Few… [Guido Fawkes]

Larry the Downing Street cat really is rubbish at his job. Today No. 10 has been invaded by a heron:

CGGNGBaWMAArNsq

From heron in they should be more careful about leaving the door open…

Via Ramsay Jones

Tagged: Downing Street, Herons

President Incriminates Himself on Hidden Tape [Guido Fawkes]

Oh dear, things are going from bad to worse for President Harris-Quinney. Now a Tory councillor, despite being booted out of the party, he has been secretly recorded bashing the gays on a visit to the Kremlin of all places. Pink News have the tape:

“I am pleased to say that from a climate of fear that had been created by the LGBT lobby, as a necessity of support for same-sex marriage, we successfully ensured that a majority of Conservative Members of Parliament did not vote for same-sex marriage, and the Conservative Prime Minister was forced to endure the indignity of passing same-sex marriage only with the support of opposition parties.”

CCHQ are having their revenge after Harris Quinney’s ‘vote UKIP’ election stunt:

“Ben Harris-Quinney is a homophobe and a menace. This sort of vile politics has no place in modern Britain. He is not even a member of the Conservative Party, and he should be sacked as a Conservative Councillor immediately.”

Ouch…


Tagged: Tories, UKIP

Galloway Makes Good on Threat to Run for Mayor [Guido Fawkes]

He warned he would do it if he lost Bradford West, and today it’s confirmed:

Will it turn out to be a “most unwise” move?


Tagged: Mayor of London

Taxpayers’ De-Risking Venture Capitalism [Guido Fawkes]

passion capital

London based venture capitalists Passion Capital have secured £45 million in funding, including £17.5 million from the taxpayers, to start a second fund to invest in tech and digital companies. Passion, led by London’s tech queen Eileen Burbidge are well liked in the London tech scene, with a reputation for looking after those in their investment portfolio, yet taxpayers must be wondering why their money is being used to back high risk investments. Good luck finding a state-backed VC firm in Silicon Valley..

Passion Capital can’t be blamed for taking the £17.5 million from the Vince Cable’s brainchild, the British Business Bank, who wouldn’t? What Techno Guido wants to know is why the government fails to grasp that what we need to successfully grow the technology sector is big risk taking…


Tagged: Passion Capital, Techno Guido

Tom Watson’s Militant Money [Guido Fawkes]

Militant loon Derek Hatton is trying to rejoin the Labour Party after being expelled in 1986, And he’s already throwing his weight around:

“I’m not getting into who should or shouldn’t be the next leader of the Labour Party. It’s early days and I’m not getting into that. But regarding the deputy leadership, I have been very impressed with Tom Watson – he’s a real fighter. One of the things I can say is I think it would be a disaster if someone like Liz Kendall became leader. That would spell the end of the Labour Party.”

The 67 year old is so impressed by Watson, that he appears to be financially backing his campaign for deputy leader:

Not that he’s “getting into that”.


Tagged: Cash, Labour Leadership, Loony Left, Unions

Labour ‘Catastrophic’ On Israel [Guido Fawkes]

Sound stuff from Michael Dugher today on Israel, describing Labour’s stance as catastrophic:

“I think that either through neglect or, frankly, in some instances incompetence, we mishandled our relationship with the Jewish community.”

Our attitude to Israel and the Middle East is really important to the Jewish community.”

A thumping 69% of Jewish voters backed Cameron according to polling.

Dugher blames Miliband completely, especially for Labour’s “unnecessary and divisive” position on Palestian statehood, saying it was “straw that broke the camel’s back with many people in the Jewish community. I knew exactly what would happen and I regretted that very profoundly”.

Guido is not sure the Shadow Transport Secretary is going to have much luck with his preferred new leader though…


Tagged: Freedom, Israel, Labour

Treasury Seeks SpAd Gender Balance [Guido Fawkes]

George Osborne’s new Director of Communications James Chapman is seeking some gender balance in the Treasury media team, and is “asking every woman in the Lobby” if they want a job. Rumours swirl that the FT’s deputy pol ed Beth Rigby is among those who have been approached. She certainly has a strong grounding on the policy side of things but is she ‘on message’ enough for the role? So far the men who have put their names forward have been rebuffed…


Tagged: Downing Street, Media Guido, SpAd, Treasury

It’s Not Easy Being A Green Tesla Driver [Guido Fawkes]

tesla generator

Gaia is a big fan of the all electric Tesla, but can’t help thinking that Tesla owners charging their cars from diesel generators might be defeating the point of driving one. The above picture was taken by a Californian blogger and allegedly shows a diesel generator being used to power an official Tesla supercharger station. When Tesla introduced their superchargers back in 2012 they promised that they would be entirely solar-powered…


Tagged: Gaia Fawkes, Tesla

Investors Dumping Mirror Shares [Guido Fawkes]

tm

After the higher than they hoped damages awarded to Mirror phone hacking victims last week the struggling newspaper group admitted that “costs of settling claims is likely to be higher than previously anticipated we are increasing our provision to deal with matters arising from phone hacking by £16 million. This is in addition to the £12 million provided in 2014.” So the Mirror group has gone from denying that there was any hacking at all, to putting aside £12 million and now more than doubling the provision to £28 million…  

City investors are still worried that this is nowhere near enough and that the final figure will be nearer £100 million, the shares have been trading down since the ruling with £30 million knocked off the capitalisation this week. There is some question as to if the company will be able to pay a dividend…


Tagged: Market Watch, Mirror

Cross Party Support for Carswell [Guido Fawkes]

Former Tory colleagues have come out to slam the mob who had it in for Carswell yesterday:

Silence from the left, so far…

UPDATE: Carswell talks to Iain Dale about the incident.


Tagged: Loony Left, Tories, UKIP

(Don’t) Bring Out Your Dead [VodkaPundit]

Pro-Russia rebels carry a coffin with the body of prominent separatist commander Alexei Mozgovoi during his funeral in Alchevsk, Ukraine, Wednesday, May 27, 2015. Alexei Mozgovoi and at least six other people were killed on Saturday in eastern Ukraine when his vehicle was ripped apart by a bomb and then strafed by gunfire. (AP Photo/Mstyslav Chernov)

Pro-Russia rebels carry a coffin with the body of prominent separatist commander Alexei Mozgovoi during his funeral in Alchevsk, Ukraine, Wednesday, May 27, 2015. Alexei Mozgovoi and at least six other people were killed on Saturday in eastern Ukraine when his vehicle was ripped apart by a bomb and then strafed by gunfire. (AP Photo/Mstyslav Chernov)

Today’s sick-making story comes from eastern Ukraine, where Russian Army troops are using portable crematoria to conceal their own dead:

The U.S. and NATO have long maintained that thousands of Russian troops are fighting alongside separatists inside eastern Ukraine, and that the Russian government is obscuring not only the presence but also the deaths of its soldiers there. In March, NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow told a conference, “Russian leaders are less and less able to conceal the fact that Russian soldiers are fighting — and dying — in large numbers in eastern Ukraine.”

Hence the extreme measures to get rid of the evidence. “The Russians are trying to hide their casualties by taking mobile crematoriums with them,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry told me. “They are trying to hide not only from the world but from the Russian people their involvement.”

The last time portable crematoria wear dragged through eastern Europe was during WWII, when the Germans used them to quickly dispose of Jews, Commissars, and other “undesirables.” So I suppose today’s news is something of an improvement over that.

But a reveal like this makes you wonder how much longer Vlad Putin can maintain the effectiveness of his own Big Lie regarding Russia’s direct military involvement in Ukraine.

Slim by Chocolate — A Hoax [VodkaPundit]

Sigh — turns out, you can’t lose weight by eating chocolate. John Bohannon reveals how he fooled the world:

I got a call in December last year from a German television reporter named Peter Onneken. He and his collaborator Diana Löbl were working on a documentary film about the junk-science diet industry. They wanted me to help demonstrate just how easy it is to turn bad science into the big headlines behind diet fads. And Onneken wanted to do it gonzo style: Reveal the corruption of the diet research-media complex by taking part.

The call wasn’t a complete surprise. The year before, I had run a sting operation for Science on fee-charging open access journals, a fast-growing and lucrative new sector of the academic publishing business. To find out how many of those publishers are keeping their promise of doing rigorous peer review, I submitted ridiculously flawed papers and counted how many rejected them. (Answer: fewer than half.)

Onneken and Löbl had everything lined up: a few thousand Euros to recruit research subjects, a German doctor to run the study, and a statistician friend to massage the data. Onneken heard about my journal sting and figured that I would know how to pull it all together and get it published. The only problem was time: The film was scheduled to be aired on German and French television in the late spring (it premieres next week), so we really only had a couple of months to pull this off.

Read the whole thing.

A couple of months is more than long enough to get people to believe something they really want to believe.

Now imagine what you could do if you had years and millions or billions in government grants to fool around with.

Cut THIS! [VodkaPundit]

Steve Forbes would like to remind you that income tax cuts always work:

Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas was pilloried for enacting major tax reductions that supposedly blew gaping holes in the state’s budget because rapid economic growth didn’t instantly materialize. Put aside the fact that some of his other tax proposals weren’t enacted and that he didn’t get all the tightening on overall spending he wanted. Democrats thought they’d knock him out in 2014. Instead, Brownback won, and his tax cuts, which took effect little more than two years ago (he not only whacked income tax rates but also eliminated those levies altogether for small businesses), are starting to yield a bumper crop in prosperity. Private-sector job growth in Kansas is now outpacing that in most other states. The state’s unemployment rate is among the nation’s lowest. Just as impressive is Kansas’ employment-to-population ratio, which is well above the national average.

Ohio’s chief executive and possible presidential candidate, John Kasich, is also hacking away at his state’s personal income tax, with an eye to eliminating it altogether, relying instead on broad-based consumption taxes. (He’s already done away with Ohio’s death tax.)

Even blue states are getting the tax message. Look at Maine, which a GOP presidential candidate hasn’t carried since 1988. Governor Paul LePage is pushing to eliminate the state’s income tax by 2020. Maine has long been in the economic dumps, and LePage, who was a successful businessman before going into politics full-time, knows that this is chiefly due to the state’s hostile tax environment. Liberals and legacy media outlets can’t stand LePage’s unabashed free-market principles and his willingness to let reporters know what he thinks of them and their employers. Their consternation was palpable when he won a stunning reelection victory.

“Work” of course depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. If the goal is increased GDP growth and revenues, with the benefits going largely to entrepreneurs and their employees — then, yes, income tax cuts are just the thing.

But if your goal is to set faction against faction in a neverending fight over a shrinking pie, with growing opportunities for graft and crony capitalism, then, no, income tax cuts just aren’t for you.

Castle Anthrax, Moat Breached [VodkaPundit]

Image courtesy Python (Monty) Pictures

Image courtesy Python (Monty) Pictures

Oopsies:

The U.S. military mistakenly sent live anthrax bacteria to laboratories in nine U.S. states and a U.S. air base in South Korea, after apparently failing to properly inactivate the bacteria last year, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.

The Pentagon said there was no known suspected infection or risk to the public. But four U.S. civilians have been started on preventive measures called post-exposure prophylaxis, which usually includes the anthrax vaccine, antibiotics or both.

The four face “minimal” risk, said Jason McDonald, a spokesman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Your health care is totally safe with these big government people.

Unstoppable [VodkaPundit]

(Image courtesy Warner Bros.)

(Image courtesy Warner Bros.)

There’s fast, there’s really fast, and then there’s hypersonic. Supermissiles should always fall into the last category, and Raytheon just scored a nice contract to develop just that:

Raytheon is getting $20 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, the Pentagon branch best known for having sponsored the invention of the Internet. This time, the agency wants a technology that weapons designers have dreamed of since the 1930s — a hypersonic missile that travels so fast there’s virtually no defense against it.

Details of the project are closely guarded secrets; DARPA and Raytheon declined to provide specifics. But similar efforts have been underway for decades. The German scientist Eugen Sanger worked on hypersonic cruise missiles during the 1930s, but the effort was abandoned as impractical. Today, though, Russia, China and India are all making big investments in hypersonic hardware. The United States is working on several similar projects, including the Army’s land-based Advanced Hypersonic Weapon and the X-51 WaveRider being developed by the Air Force.

Would it be redundant if I said, “Faster, please?”

My dream of having a Friendly Skynet to automatically rain down destruction on bad guys anywhere in the world, in 30 minutes or less, keeps moving closer to reality.

Can You Dig It? [VodkaPundit]

I didn’t see this one coming — Russian soldiers are now having to defend against Russian weapons from being re-smuggled out of Ukraine and back into Russia:

Over 60 miles of trenches, four meters (13 feet) wide and two meters (six feet) deep, have been dug in Ukraine’s Rostov region, adjacent to the restive Donetsk and Luhansk regions, to prevent arms and munitions from being carried into Russia. Over 60 smuggling attempts have been stopped, leading to the detention of 130 people and the confiscation of land mines, firearms, artillery shells and grenades, the Moscow newspaper Rossiskaya Gazeta said.

“The separatist regions of Ukraine have become a territory of uncontrolled weapons circulation and arms always flow into the black market in a period of de-escalation,” military analyst Anton Lavrov told Bloomberg News. The weapons could arrive in nearby North Caucasus, a largely Muslim region of Russia where militants have battled federal troops for over 20 years.

The longer this war goes on, the more tempted Kyiv may be to start providing weapons, money, and training to separatist forces to the restive Muslims in Russia’s south Caucasus region, which in the long run would end up doing nobody any good.

The First 100 Days [VodkaPundit]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NcqYoKR_SM/p>

Introducing Trifecta Platinum — and the first hit is free.

Nonmembers seem to prefer shorter segments, but PJTV members — being the awesomely involved people that you are — prefer the longer stuff. So we’re experimenting with longer, freer-form segments like these. And they’re more fun for Scott Ott, Bill Whittle and me to shoot, because we’re less worried about time constraints and the producers really want us to let loose and get our newsgeek on. But maybe the best part for us is the chance to get away from the blink-and-you-miss-it headline stories, and into deeper topics we really care about.

They whole series is available to members at no additional charge, and sets are available for purchase by non-members.

News You Can Use [VodkaPundit]

(Image courtesy LiveLeak/New York Daily News)

(Image courtesy LiveLeak/New York Daily News)

Meanwhile, in California:

An overjoyed driver in Los Angeles captured a wild encounter with a naked man who is seen leaping on passing cars and stopping traffic smack in the middle of a major highway.

The unidentified man strips to his birthday suit on the busy Interstate 5, sending the cameraman into a fit of laughter as he filmed the bizarre broad-daylight peep show.

“Unf—— believable! I’ve seen it f—— all! This is f—— amazing!” the driver says in the nearly 2-minute clip published to LiveLeak on Saturday.

The nude exhibitionist at one point dives face down onto the windshield of a passing car, then slides off and crouches on the road.

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

LiveLeak has the video, which is just as pointlessly entertaining as you might imagine. There’s some NSFW language, plus, you know, naked guy on the interstate.

Those Dumbwatch Blues [VodkaPundit]

WATCH

Apple Watch is hurting the competition — but the competition ain’t Android Wear or Pebble:

Analysts predicted last year that the tech-savvy watch, which launched in April at a starting price of $349, would crush watch sales for companies like Michael Kors that sell timepieces in the price range of $300 to $500.

Those predictions might already be coming true.

Michael Kors reported a 5.8% decline in same-store sales for its fourth quarter on Wednesday, including a 6.7% drop in North America. Analysts had been expecting a same-store sales increase in North America — the company’s biggest market — of 3%.

In a research note last fall, Barclays analysts said they were “increasingly concerned” about Fossil, which makes watches for more than a dozen brands including Michael Kors, Marc by Marc Jacobs, and Burberry.

Apple’s new retailing chief, Angela Ahrendts, came to Cupertino from Burberry, and presumably knows what that kind of customer is looking for. Think of your typical Fossil-cum-Apple-Watch customer as “upscale but not too upscale.” Her hiring and the debut of Apple Watch are no coincidence.

The story goes on:

“We cannot overlook what is increasingly becoming a major disruption to the entire watch industry,” the analysts wrote. “Future innovation at Fossil …will largely be challenged by hype and innovative offerings from deep pocket technology-credible competitors such as Apple, Samsung and Motorola.”

Right now, Android Wear’s mostly oversized and geek-oriented offerings aren’t any kind of disruptive competition to Fossil, although that isn’t to say they won’t be in the future — aside from clunkiness, that LG Urbane is one handsome piece of hardware, hampered mostly by Android Wear’s weaknesses. Wear will improve and the hardware will become sleeker — but for the next year or two, there’s not much to talk about outside the Android Wear enthusiast community.

Can we learn anything then at this early stage from the Apple Watch launch and Fossil’s woes? Maybe.

The key might be found in this WSJ review of the Urbane:

The Apple Watch is, despite its many talents, a watch first and foremost. Rival Android Wear watches, which made a debut last year, are still frustrating wrist-top computers that happen to tell the time.

This isn’t an Apple vs Google fight — given time, I’m sure Android Wear will catch up, even if the target market never quite reaches the “upscale but not too upscale” crowd. Just like with smartphones, there’s plenty of room in the marketplace for both operating systems.

But we’re still in the early stages of wearable computers. Even when powered by slow CPUs and with faces that turn on only when you flick your wrist, they still have to be charged every night and require a paired smartphone (for now) to act as the real brains of the watch.

Google’s OEMs — like LG, Samsung, and Motorola — haven’t really come up with a solution to that problem. Apple’s solution was to make nice watches that also do some cool extra stuff, rather than “frustrating wrist-top computers that happen to tell the time.”

As best we know so far, Apple’s approach seems to be winning in the marketplace — at least for now. And I think I know why.

Like a lot of people, I liked wearing a watch. I miss wearing a watch, but there seems little point to it anymore when all it does it tell me the time and date — and I get those whenever I pull my phone out of my pocket. Since the smartphone, there just isn’t enough utility to make watches worth most people’s while. (One exception is beach vacations. Leave the damn phone in your room safe and strap a cheap Swatch or Casio to your wrist so you always know how long before the swim-up bar opens.)

So there are millions and millions of us who would be happy to wear a watch again — if it provided enough added utility and if it doesn’t look like crap right out there on our wrists for everyone to see.

Apple nailed the second part right out of the gate with stylish gear which isn’t too bulky for most wrists. But for many people the first part is less clear.

The first generation iPod interested me — because, hey, 1,000 songs in my pocket! However, giving up MusicMatch (before it sucked) for iTunes and switching to a PowerPC Mac weren’t worth it. By the third generation, Apple had added a color screen and PC connectivity — and MusicMatch 10 was complete crap. SOLD!

Same deal with the first generation MacBook Air — underpowered and too expensive. Now prices have come down, performance is way up, and damn near every decent laptop computer looks just like a MacBook Air. (This story will repeat itself over the next two-three years with the new-and-even-tinier Retina MacBook.)

On the other hand, Apple got the price/performance matrix just right with the first-gen iPhone and the new Mac Pro — and I was a happy buyer of the first generation of both.

So while I do miss wearing a watch, I’m still not sure this first-gen Apple Watch is the device to rekindle that old love. But if shrinking sales numbers from Michael Kors are any indicator of the Watch’s utility, then it might be a little more first-gen iPhone and little less first-gen MacBook Air.

lileks: COLDBOT WATCH YOU WHILE YOU SLEEPCOLDBOT LOVE... [kevin w murphy]



lileks:

COLDBOT WATCH YOU WHILE YOU SLEEP

COLDBOT LOVE YOU

COLDBOT KNOW IT CAN NEVER BE

Tips for Test Success [Lakeland Events]

DATE: Tue, 6/16/2015 | TIME: 1:00 PM | LOCATION: C-1011

Nicholas Kristof tries the Otter Defense on behalf of the Clintons. [Moe Lane]

Start off by reading this:

I’ve admired the Clintons’ foundation for years for its fine work on AIDS and global poverty, and I’ve moderated many panels at the annual Clinton Global Initiative. Yet with each revelation of failed disclosures or the appearance of a conflict of interest from speaking fees of $500,000 for the former president, I have wondered: What were they thinking?

But the problem is not precisely the Clintons. It’s our entire disgraceful money-based political system.

Now watch this.

For those who do not have access to YouTube, this is of course Otter’s Speech from Animal House:

Ladies and gentlemen, I’ll be brief. The issue here is not whether we broke a few rules, or took a few liberties with our female party guests – we did. But you can’t hold a whole fraternity responsible for the behavior of a few, sick twisted individuals. For if you do, then shouldn’t we blame the whole fraternity system? And if the whole fraternity system is guilty, then isn’t this an indictment of our educational institutions in general? I put it to you, Greg – isn’t this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but we’re not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America.

You know, I didn’t realize when I woke up this morning that’d I would be writing a piece that had to point out that Animal House is not a good rhetorical template for a New York Times author to use. Then again, I imagine that Nicholas Kristof didn’t wake up a few days ago expecting that he’d end up using said template, so I suppose that that’s a wash.  Still… really?  This is going to be what they’re going to go with? “The way that all that dirty money was prancing around and showing everybody its denominations, it was just asking to be grabbed?” I tremble for the Republic.

No, not because of corrupt politicians.  We’ve had to deal with those, right from the start.  But we’ve never had a more useless set of political pundits.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

‘Canon in D.’ [Moe Lane]

SERENITY NOW.

Canon in DPachelbel’s Greatest Hit: Canon In D

Moe Lane

PS: Yes, that’s apparently Mozart.

Droughtshaming continues to grow as a California social movement, or perhaps ‘mob.’ [Moe Lane]

Begun, the water-based Stasi snitching in California has:

Take Los Angeles resident Jane Demian, for example. She recently got a letter from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s Water Conservation Response Unit, about an unverified report of prohibited water use activity at her home in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of L.A. Demian says she was called out for water runoff onto the sidewalk, driveway and gutter, and the unauthorized “washdown of hardscapes” like the walkway to her house.

[snip]

Besides not knowing whose water she’s getting in trouble for, Demian also doesn’t know who called her out. She thinks it may be another neighbor down the street, getting revenge after she previously complained about a noise violation from his house.

And as the article notes, Ms. Demian is lucky: they’ve got ‘droughtshaming’ apps and Twitter hashtags now.  Actually, she’s really lucky that it’s not yet at the point in California that social media will stop being about droughtshaming and start being about flash mobs, with the emphasis on ‘mob.’  Seriously, if you happen to live in California, you may want to start thinking about what you’re going to do if it doesn’t reliably rain for another four years or so.

Quote of the Day, Memory And The Supreme Court Follies edition. [Moe Lane]

Megan McArdle, while discussing the increasingly amusing flailing about by the Left over King v. Burwell:

…contrary to apparently popular belief, “drafting error” is not a magic word that forces the Supreme Court to give you a mulligan.

Read, as they say, the whole thing.  There’s some good bits in there about why it is that our legal system has a certain bias against leaning too heavily on individual memory as evidence.  Simply put: people remember things essentially by telling themselves stories in their heads.  When the story changes, the same people will often forget the old version.  And they can get a nasty, but legitimate shock when actual evidence appears that demonstrates that the new story is incorrect.  This is actually an interesting neurological… condition? Situation? Party trick? One of those, anyway.

Moe Lane

PS: I can’t help but notice that a lot of the non-lawyer defendant arguments about King v. Burwell are starting to sound like rationalizations for why the Left should be angry about the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision in King v. Burwell.  Go figure.

Tweet of the Day, I’LL Give It A Witness. [Moe Lane]

That is, indeed, the way to record something on your phone. Horizontal, not vertical.

Dawud Abdulwali Arrested in LA Fire [The Jawa Report]

Speculation that because counter terrorism police arrested Mr. Abdulwali that its, you know, some sort of an investigation into Islamic Terrorism?

A 56-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of arson in connection with a fire that destroyed a downtown Los Angeles apartment complex last year, causing tens of millions of dollars in damage to the unfinished structure and a nearby city-owned building, authorities said Wednesday.

IMG_1358.JPG
I'm the dude next to the dude disguised as another dude..

Dawud Abdulwali was detained Tuesday morning by the Los Angeles Police Department’s anti-terrorism division on a traffic violation and later booked on suspicion of arson of a structure and aggravated arson. He is being held on more than $1-million bail and is expected to be formally charged Thursday, according to a spokesman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

“This arrest illustrates that crime will not be tolerated in Los Angeles,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a news conference Wednesday outside City Hall. “We will arrest you. We will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.”

Looking around I found the above pic of him on his Google + Profile, and the quote from a Twitter account.

There doesn't seem to be any information indicating he was a practicing Muslim or even anything political other than a link to the 2010 film Inside Job. He appears to have been a tour operator at times or claims too.

Mostly humorous stuff, including a reference to an old joke about Going to Penn State but ending up in the State Pen is oddly prescient though.

So his motive at this time remains unclear.

Hat Tip: Twitchy.

Awesome! Turkey Places A Policeman Somewhere Near Last Best Entrance to ISISLand [The Jawa Report]

Let no one say that NATO Member Turkey is not doing its part to stop the flow Ammonium Nitrate, Pipe and Fighters from flowing through the border crossing at Akcakale!

Welcome to the border crossing nearest to the de facto capital of the Islamic State.

...One could have expected this border gate separating NATO from the world’s first self-proclaimed jihadi state to be bristling with soldiers and guns. Turkey, after all, has the second-biggest military in the Western alliance.

But here at Akcakale, there is no serious military presence, there are no checkpoints as you enter town on the road from Urfa, the Turkish city half-an-hour’s drive away that many foreign recruits have passed through on their way to join the jihadis.

On the day I entered town, there was one police car at a roundabout as you entered the main drag and a policeman sitting on the ground with his back to the road, drinking tea with a local.

Two Turks—both longtime Islamists and now members of ISIS—are the key organizers guiding foreign recruits and overseeing cross-border trade.

“One is responsible for bringing the foreigners to Akcakale; the other stays in Syria and escorts the foreigners to Raqqa.” The men are well known to Turkish authorities, locals say.On the day I entered town, there was one police car at a roundabout as you entered the main drag and a policeman sitting on the ground with his back to the road, drinking tea with a local.

Well its good to know that it only takes Two Turks to run such an operation. Just two.......

The Out-of-Towners [The Nerdist]

All the guys are back and got together for some hostful goodness! Everyone talks about their recent week off and where they went on vacation, wanting to explore abandoned places and starting a podcast band!

Nebraska Bans Death Penalty, Setting Stage for Anthony Kennedy to Ban It Nationwide [Patterico's Pontifications]

Nebraska has voted to abolish the death penalty, and the legislature has overridden the governor’s veto to reaffirm the ban.

I support the death penalty, but I also support the right of the people of a state to decide how to punish murderers.

Here’s the problem. Under the “evolving standards of decency” travesty perpetrated on the nation by Anthony Kennedy and the leftists on the Court, votes like this could result in a court-imposed, nationwide ban. Under this doctrine, which has no support in the text of the Constitution, any slight movement by local entities towards abolishing a particular punishment is instantly converted into an emerging consensus that must be imposed on the entire country by Kennedy and his fellow travelers.

That’s what he did with the death penalty for juveniles and those deemed even mildly retarded. In each case, a handful to states abolished the death penalty for defendants falling in those categories, and Kennedy decided that this slight movement justified his using his Emperor-like powers to deprive other states of the ability to make their own judgments. Now a monster who is a day shy of his 18th birthday, or who can convince a court that he is mildly retarded, can avoid death for his crimes — all thanks to the made-up doctrine foisted on the nation by the arrogant Kennedy.

If enough state legislatures ban the death penalty outright, Kennedy will do away with it for the rest.

You read it here first.

New Yorker Cover Art: Diversity Anyone? [Patterico's Pontifications]

[guest post by Dana]

Untitled-1

Excluding a black conservative male and a Republican woman who have officially announced and are actively campaigning? Where is the outrage?

The New Yorker explains:

How many Republicans are running for President? It’s a trick question. Some of those who are clearly running—Jeb Bush, for example—are still pretending that they aren’t, mostly because declaring would change the fund-raising rules. And if you counted everyone who, against all evidence, takes himself (or herself) seriously as a candidate, the locker room depicted in Mark Ulriksen’s “Suiting Up,” this week’s cover, would look as crowded as the departures hall at Penn Station, and almost as disconcerting. As it is, Ulriksen presents seven contenders with seven varieties of preening. Maybe it’s hard to tell a vision for America from a delusion of grandeur, at least until the debates and primaries get under way. Until then, Marco Rubio’s got his phone, Rand Paul his comb, and Huckabee his Bible. Ted Cruz’s eyes flit between his copy of the Constitution and his mirror, while Scott Walker seems on the lookout for unionized gym attendants. Bush is wearing his dynasty-logo boxers and Chris Christie his put-me-in-now pout. And yet, somehow, one of these seven men is almost certainly right about his chances for the nomination. The primary campaign may look like a pickup game about to descend into a brawl, but there’s a national candidate somewhere in the lineup.

Chris Christie and Jeb Bush have not even officially announced.

–Dana

Unions: Yes, We Support the Minimum Wage — But Not for Union Workers!!! [Patterico's Pontifications]

Whether you react to this with a sharp, shocked laugh or a knowing but depressed shrug is a marker of how cynical you have become:

For much of the past eight months, labor activists have argued against special considerations for business owners, such as restaurateurs, who said they would have trouble complying with the mandated pay increase.

But Rusty Hicks, who heads the county Federation of Labor and helps lead the Raise the Wage coalition, said Tuesday night that companies with workers represented by unions should have leeway to negotiate a wage below that mandated by the law.

“With a collective bargaining agreement, a business owner and the employees negotiate an agreement that works for them both. The agreement allows each party to prioritize what is important to them,” Hicks said in a statement. “This provision gives the parties the option, the freedom, to negotiate that agreement. And that is a good thing.”

Eliminating the minimum wage entirely gives the parties the option, the freedom, to negotiate an agreement that works for them both, allowing each to prioritize what’s important. And that is a good thing.

Too bad unions and other soft-headed know-nothings oppose such common-sense principles — when it’s not their own ox being gored, that is.

Thanks to J.D.

Pamela Geller’s New Ad Campaign: The Winning “Draw Mohammed” Cartoon On Public Buses [Patterico's Pontifications]

[guest post by Dana]

Pamela Geller is making yet another stand in her fight to protect freedom of speech in America. The American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), which she co-founded with Robert Spencer, has announced its new ad campaign with a statement from Geller:

“[b]ecause the media and the cultural and political elites continue to self-enforce the Sharia without the consent of the American people by refusing to show any depictions of Muhammad or showing what it was in Texas that had jihadists opening fire, we are running an ad featuring the winning cartoon by former Muslim Bosch Fawstin from our Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest in Garland, Texas.”

The application for the ads to run on buses and trains in the D.C. area is currently under standard review by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).

According to Geller:

Let the American people see what the cowardly press is censoring in accordance with the blasphemy laws under the sharia (Islamic law).

Drawing Muhammad is not illegal under American law, but only under Islamic law. Violence that arises over the cartoons is solely the responsibility of the Islamic jihadists who perpetrate it. Either America will stand now against attempts to suppress the freedom of speech by violence, or will submit and give the violent the signal that we can be silenced by threats and murder.

Reactions to her plan are about what you would expect: hysterical headlines and tiresome arguments, such as this one from Juan Williams:

“I think Ms. Geller is doing it intentionally to provoke a controversy,” Williams said. “I think that’s what happened down in Texas.”

“It is fierce bullies like Juan Williams who want to impose the Sharia,” Geller responded. “This is the Sharia, Juan.”

Geller then mentioned a comment Williams made in 2010 about how he gets “nervous” when he sees “people who are in Muslim garb” on airplanes. Geller said she found that remark “offensive.”

“This has nothing to do with that,” Williams responded. “What I see you doing, I think, is trying to provoke, unnecessarily, controversy, and at times offending and demeaning Muslims who regard your actions as not only provocative but offensive.”

Geller said that Williams comments were more offensive than her planned bus ads.

“Muslims that support free speech will not be offended. Muslims that want to impose the Sharia will be offended. And frankly, your offensive remarks are far more humiliating to Muslims than my running ads about a cartoon that the media refuses to run,” she said. “I did not make the cartoons a flashpoint. The jihadis made the cartoons a flashpoint.”

Geller sums it up:

“There is nothing about this cartoon that incites violence. It is within the established American tradition of satire. If America surrenders on this point, the freedom of speech is a relic of history,”

–Dana

Quote of the Day [Pejman Yousefzadeh]

Set aside some utopian conception of what marriage is or should be about in the ideal, and instead recognize the way we live now — how and why we marry and how children are brought into this world and the homes in which they are raised. There are hundreds of thousands of children alive today […]

Sven Hoexter: RMS, free software and where I fail the goal [Planet Debian]

You might have already read this comment by RMS in the Guardian. That comment and a recent discussion about the relevance of GPL changes post GPLv2 made me think again about the battle RMS started to fight. While some think RMS should "retire", at least I still fail on my personal goal to not depend on non-free software and services. So for me this battle is far from over, and here is my personal list of "non-free debt" I've to pay off.

general purpose systems aka your computer

Looking at the increasing list of firmware blobs required to use a GPU, wireless chipsets and more and more wired NICs, the situation seems to be worse then in the late 90s. Back then the primary issue was finding supported hardware, but the driver was free. Nowadays even the open sourced firmware often requires obscure patched compilers to build. If I look at this stuff I think the OpenBSD project got that right with the more radical position.

Oh and then there is CPU microcode. I'm not yet sure what to think about it, but in the end it's software and it's not open source. So it's non-free software running on my system.

Maybe my memory is blurred due to the fact, that the seperation of firmware from the Linux kernel, and proper firmware loading got implemented only years later. I remember the discussion about the pwc driver and its removal from Linux. Maybe the situation wasn't better at that time but the firmware was just hidden inside the Linux driver code?

On my system at work I've to add the Flash plugin to the list due to my latest test with Prezi which I'll touch later.

I also own a few Humble Indie bundles. I played parts of Osmos after a recommendation by Joey Hess, I later finished to play through Limbo and I got pretty far with Machinarium on a Windows system I still had at that time. I also tried a few others but never got far or soon lost interest.

Another thing I can not really get rid of is unrar because of stuff I need to pull from xda-developer links just to keep a cell phone running. Update: Josh Triplett pointed out that there is unar available in the Debian archive. And indeed that one works on the rar file I just extracted.

Android ecosystem

I will soon get rid of a stock S3 mini and try to replace it with a moto g loaded with CyanogenMod. That leaves me with a working phone with a OS that just works because of a shitload of non-free blobs. The time and work required to get there is another story. Among others you need a new bootloader that requires a newer fastboot compared to what we have in Jessie, and later you also need the newer adb to be able to sideload the CM image. There I gave in and just downloaded the pre build SDK from Google. And there you've another binary I did not even try to build from source. Same for the CM image itself, though that's not that much different from using a GNU/Linux distribution if you ignore the trust issues.

It's hard to trust the phone I've build that way, but it's the best I can get at the moment with at least some bigger chunks of free software inside. So let's move to the applications on the phone. I do not use GooglePlay, so I rely on f-droid and freeware I can download directly from the vendor.

  • AndFTP: best sftp client I could find so far
  • Threema: a bit (a single one) more trustworthy then WhatsApp, they started around the company of Michael Kasper
  • Wunderlist: well done shared shopping list, also non-free webservice
  • Opera: the compression proxy is awesome, also kind of a non-free webservice

"Cloud" services

This category mixes a lot with the stuff listed above, most of them are not only an application, in fact Threema and Wunderlist are useless without the backend service. And Opera is just degraded to a browser - and to be replaced with Firefox - if you discount the compression proxy.

The other big addition in this category is Prezi. We tried it out at work after it got into my focus due to a post by Dave Aitel. It's kind of the poster child of non-freeness. It requires a non-free, unstable, insecure and half way deprecated browser plugin to work, you can not download your result in a useful format, you've to buy storage for your presentation at this one vendor, you've to pay if you want to keep your presentation private. It's the perfect lockin situation. But still it's very convenient, prevents a lot of common mistakes you can make when you create a presentation and they invented a new concept of presenting.

I know about impress.js(hosted on a non-free platform by the way, but at least you can export it from there) and I also know about hovercraft. I'm impressed by them, but it's still not close to the ease of use of Prezi. So here you can also very prominently see the cost of free and non-free software. Invest the time and write something cool with CSS3 and impress.js or pay Prezi to just klick yourself through. To add something about the instability - I had to use a windows laptop for presenting with Prezi because the Flash plugin on Jessie crashed in the presentation mode, I did not yet check the latest Flash update. I guess that did not make the situation worse, it already is horrible.

I also use kind of database services like duden.de and dict.cc. When I was younger you bought such things printed on dead trees but they did not update very well.

Thinking a bit further, a Certification Authority is not only questionable due to the whole trust issue, they also provide OCSP responder as kind of a web service. And I've already had the experience what the internet looks like when the OCSP systems of GlobalSign failed.

So there is still a lot to fight for and a lot of "personal non-free debt" to pay off.

Richard Hartmann: On SourceForge [Planet Debian]

You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.

And yes, we all know that that SF decided to wrap crapware around Windows installers ages ago and then made it opt-in after the backlash. Doing so for stale accounts makes sense from their PoV, which makes it all the worse.

And no, I don't know how stale that account actually was, but that's irrelevant in this context either way.

Steve Kemp: A brief examination of tahoe-lafs [Planet Debian]

Continuing the theme from the last post I made, I've recently started working my way down the list of existing object-storage implementations.

tahoe-LAFS is a well-established project which looked like a good fit for my needs:

  • Simple API.
  • Good handling of redundancy.

Getting the system up and running, on four nodes, was very simple. Setup a single/simple "introducer" which is a well-known node that all hosts can use to find each other, and then setup four deamons for storage.

When files are uploaded they are split into chunks, and these chunks are then distributed amongst the various nodes. There are some configuration settings which determine how many chunks files are split into (10 by default), how many chunks are required to rebuild the file (3 by default) and how many copies of the chunks will be created.

The biggest problem I have with tahoe is that there is no rebalancing support: Setup four nodes, and the space becomes full? You can add more nodes, new uploads go to the new nodes, while old ones stay on the old. Similarly if you change your replication-counts because you're suddenly more/less paranoid this doesn't affect existing nodes.

In my perfect world you'd distribute blocks around pretty optimistically, and I'd probably run more services:

  • An introducer - To allow adding/removing storage-nodes on the fly.
  • An indexer - to store the list of "uploads", meta-data, and the corresponding block-pointers.
  • The storage-nodes - to actually store the damn data.

The storage nodes would have the primitives "List all blocks", "Get block", "Put block", and using that you could ensure that each node had sent its data to at least N other nodes. This could be done in the background.

The indexer would be responsible for keeping track of which blocks live where, and which blocks are needed to reassemble upload N. There's probably more that it could do.

Michael Meeks: 2015-05-28 Thursday. [Planet openSUSE]

  • Up early; mail chew; call with Niall, admin; CRM bits, filed holiday; signed up for OIN.

Michael Meeks: 2015-05-27 Wednesday. [Planet openSUSE]

  • Day off - up late, into Cambridge; wandered around the Fitzwilliam Museum a bit with the babes, interesting place. Lunch in the courtyard outside in the sun. Back to the office for a partner call, then a customer call; picked by by a homebound family; TDF board call. Worked late.

openSUSE News: Indonesia uses Linux, openSUSE for pilot project [Planet openSUSE]

An estimated 45,000 students from a province in Indonesia have enhanced their education and computer-usage knowledge through a pilot  program using Linux and openSUSE that is expected to become a nationwide educational program.

From 2009 to 2014, the project called “Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Utilization for Educational Quality Enhancement in Yogyakarta Province” used openSUSE and created material with Linux to enhance educational quality and equality in Yogyakarta Province schools.

“More and more education people and officials come to Yogyakarta to learn about how to implement information technology in basic education,” said Mr. Mohammad Edwin Zakaria, an IT and Linux consultant for the program.

The program is expected to become a model of ICT utilization in the educational sector of Indonesia, Zakaria said. The pilot’s goal supports teaching and learning activities by providing ICT-based learning facilities, providing equipment, communication and network facilities, creating e-learning systems and developments, and by providing tools and support that are needed for schools activities to improve educational quality.

IMG_0429.CR2“For the teachers, we conduct training of how to make learning material,” said Singgih Raharjo, the department head of Yogyakarta Province’s Education Communication and Technology Office.

Creating With Linux

Many new materials made by teachers are now available to students, Raharjo said.

“It is what we think open-source software still lacks behind the proprietary software,” he said. “At the beginning we try to introduce eXe Learning, but in 2010 it still difficult for them. Because of this problem, the project-owner finally decided to give them proprietary software to make learning material.”

Many of the schools are remotely located. Yogyakarta Governor Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono X proposed ICT as a program that would increase and equalize educational quality throughout the province.

IMG_0375.CR2“Many students and even teachers never had an experience with computers before,” Zakaria said. “Now they can interact with computer and Linux. We created special Math and Science learning materials for them. They can learn interactively with that material. Along with software packages on openSUSE Li-f-e like Gcompris, Tuxmath, kalgebra (and other KDE Edu), Tuxpaint, and Stellarium, they can learn many thing that they never imagined before.”

Some of it can be accessed publicly at http://lms.jogjabelajar.jogjaprov.go.id .

The pilot program consisted of several phases, was implemented in elementary and junior high schools, and was supported by several experts and professionals. Each school had a headmaster, math teachers, science teachers, and a PC lab technician involved with the project.

Making a Difference

IMG_0434.CR2Government officials, university professors, consultants facilitators, technical staff, learning material experts, examination experts, community development experts and curriculum experts all turned the pilot into a successful program.

The children around Yogyakarta Province become smarter and more creative from this project, Raharjo said. Because the project was not only giving infrastructure, but was interesting and fun from the ICT-based learning materials, the results of national exams increased for the province.

The results were shocking,  Raharjo said.

“The winners of the competition are not only centralized by students from the city, but also from villages,” he said.

One real success story was at SDN Jepitu Gunungkidul elementary school, which is located in the mountainous area about 60 km from the center of Yogyakarta. After the ICT project was implemented at this school, the school’s teachers developed their own ICT based-test for their student in the ICT laboratory.

“This kind of test, not only make the student happier, smarter and more creative, but also decrease the budget of school in holding the test,”  Raharjo said.

The Learning Management System (LMS) uses Moodle on the data center as well as on the replicate server on the schools.

Using openSUSE

“We use around 10 servers with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP1 on a data center in province capital,” Zakaria said. “It is configured with high availability (HA). It serves mainly as Moodle LMS server with MySQL database and Apache web server. It also serves as DNS, internet proxy, file server, and we host an internal openSUSE repository for our schools.”

Financially, the province and Indonesia can save money using openSUSE and Linux because of costs that are typically associated with proprietary desktop operating system licenses, but what is more important is the intangible benefits, Zakaria said.

“We introduce the power of open-source, so now everyone knows that there are alternatives out there,” Zakaria said. “Many young people also have more knowledge about the open-source tools and life-cycle so they can help in the future.”

Indonesia has many young, intelligent people, he said, and the population of the country is about 250 million people. He believes increases in computer, smart phone, tablet and internet usage will make the future generation of Indonesians more intelligent than his generation. With that growth in technical know-how and thanks to open-source education and Linux, Zakaria sees those qualities as making big differences for the country’s trade-balances and economy.

“I hope in the future they will become innovators, producers or at least can attract big companies or investor to invest in Indonesia. Hopefully it can increase the country’s competitiveness and economic condition.”

More than 500 schools took part in the program.

More Articles

From the Office of Education Yogyakarta Province

Invite Dikpora School Supervisor and Consultant Supervision Program for ICT EQEP

Dikpora DIY and Forms Community Schools ICT Consultant EQEP

Test results Media Learning: Students interested in ICT-Based Learning

From the Office of Technology and Communication for Education Yogyakarta Province

School Model Development Workshop for ICT EQEP Community

Implementation of ICT School Comunity

Office of Technology and Communication for Education Yogyakarta Province doing Media and Material Assesstment for Jogjabelajar

Utilization of Learning Material Training, 1st batch

Javanese Characters (Hanacaraka) Reading and Writing Application Launch

Yogyakarta become the best province in Indonesia for ICT implementation on Education

JICA Visiting 3 schools

SMPN 4 Banguntapan (Junior High Schools) doing self-training for “ICT utilization for education”

Operational handover of ICT EQEP

Utilization of Learning Material Workshop year 2015

Technical Assistance for Management of IDC (Internet Data Center) and BTS (Base Transceiver Station)

Follow-up from school reporting, official doing site visit to schools

Utilization of Learning Material Training 2015, 3rd batch

SDN Jepitu 1 (primary school) Girisubo, Gunungkidul, doing try out with the ICT based exam. They made the exam by themself

National exam try out with Smartphone

Training: Utilization of Jogjabelajar for Learning Process

Michael Meeks: 2015-05-26 Tuesday. [Planet openSUSE]

  • Mail chew; pushed a few patches; Linux Format Column; customer call, chat with Niall, team call; more hackery.

Vincent Untz: SUSE Ruling the Stack in Vancouver [Planet openSUSE]

Rule the Stack

Last week during the the OpenStack Summit in Vancouver, Intel organized a Rule the Stack contest. That's the third one, after Atlanta a year ago and Paris six months ago. In case you missed earlier episodes, SUSE won the two previous contests with Dirk being pretty fast in Atlanta and Adam completing the HA challenge so we could keep the crown. So of course, we had to try again!

For this contest, the rules came with a list of penalties and bonuses which made it easier for people to participate. And indeed, there were quite a number of participants with the schedule for booking slots being nearly full. While deploying Kilo was a goal, you could go with older releases getting a 10 minutes penalty per release (so +10 minutes for Juno, +20 minutes for Icehouse, and so on). In a similar way, the organizers wanted to see some upgrade and encouraged that with a bonus that could significantly impact the results (-40 minutes) — nobody tried that, though.

And guess what? SUSE kept the crown again. But we also went ahead with a new challenge: outperforming everyone else not just once, but twice, with two totally different methods.

For the super-fast approach, Dirk built again an appliance that has everything pre-installed and that configures the software on boot. This is actually not too difficult thanks to the amazing Kiwi tool and all the knowledge we have accumulated through the years at SUSE about building appliances, and also the small scripts we use for the CI of our OpenStack packages. Still, it required some work to adapt the setup to the contest and also to make sure that our Kilo packages (that were brand new and without much testing) were fully working. The clock result was 9 minutes and 6 seconds, resulting in a negative time of minus 10 minutes and 54 seconds (yes, the text in the picture is wrong) after the bonuses. Pretty impressive.

But we also wanted to show that our product would fare well, so Adam and I started looking at this. We knew it couldn't be faster than the way Dirk picked, and from the start, we targetted the second position. For this approach, there was not much to do since this was similar to what he did in Paris, and there was work to update our SUSE OpenStack Cloud Admin appliance recently. Our first attempt failed miserably due to a nasty bug (which was actually caused by some unicode character in the ID of the USB stick we were using to install the OS... we fixed that bug later in the night). The second attempt went smoother and was actually much faster than we had anticipated: SUSE OpenStack Cloud deployed everything in 23 minutes and 17 seconds, which resulted in a final time of 10 minutes and 17 seconds after bonuses/penalties. And this was with a 10 minutes penalty due to the use of Juno (as well as a couple of minutes lost debugging some setup issue that was just mispreparation on our side). A key contributor to this result is our use of Crowbar, which we've kept improving over time, and that really makes it easy and fast to deploy OpenStack.

Wall-clock time for SUSE OpenStack Cloud

Wall-clock time for SUSE OpenStack Cloud

These two results wouldn't have been possible without the help of Tom and Ralf, but also without the whole SUSE OpenStack Cloud team that works on a daily basis on our product to improve it and to adapt it to the needs of our customers. We really have an awesome team (and btw, we're hiring)!

For reference, three other contestants succeeded in deploying OpenStack, with the fastest of them ending at 58 minutes after bonuses/penalties. And as I mentioned earlier, there were even more contestants (including some who are not vendors of an OpenStack distribution), which is really good to see. I hope we'll see even more in Tokyo!

Results of the Rule the Stack contest

Results of the Rule the Stack contest

Also thanks to Intel for organizing this; I'm sure every contestant had fun and there was quite a good mood in the area reserved for the contest.

Update: See also the summary of the contest from the organizers.

Michael Meeks: 2015-05-25 Monday. [Planet openSUSE]

  • Up lateish; off to Bruce & Anne's for a Warren End party. Good to meet up with Sue, Clive & boys; as well as lots of neighbours. Hacked in the car on the way back.

Aurélien Gâteau: Innocent Until Proven Guilty [Planet Ubuntu]

In case you missed the latest news, Jonathan Riddell has been accused by the Ubuntu Community Council (CC) of breaking Ubuntu Code of Conduct (CoC) and has been asked to resign from his position of leader of the Kubuntu project (a title which actually does not exist and which he never claimed to hold)

I had the chance of meeting Jonathan when I joined Canonical in 2009. I was a bit intimidated during my first Canonical real-life meeting, but Jonathan carried me around and went out of his way to introduce me to many of my then new colleagues.

Since then he has always been one of the friendliest person I know. We often shared rooms during Canonical, Ubuntu or KDE events and went on to be colleagues again at Blue Systems. I believe Jonathan kindness is one of the reasons why the Kubuntu community has grown into such a welcoming and closely-knit group of people.

Sometimes passion carries us over too far and we say or do things we should not, but until now all I have found is just accusations and no proof of any such behavior from Jonathan. I am certainly biased, but since breaking Ubuntu CoC is so unlike the Jonathan I know, I stand by his side. The CC should post real pointers to the repeated CoC breakage Jonathan is accused of. "Innocent until proven guilty", that is how real justice works. Publish proofs of what you claim. Until such pointers are published it all sounds like the CC is having a hard time getting precise answers to Jonathan questions and opted to get rid of him instead of pushing for more answers.

PS: Before you ask: yes, I read all the long email threads and IRC logs I could find. While I have found some rough exchanges I don't think they qualify as breaking Ubuntu CoC.

Costales: GPS Navigation for Ubuntu Phone is now available! [Planet Ubuntu]


My new app is "GPS Navigation", a turn by turn GPS Navigator!

GPS Navigation
It looks like this :)

Let's go!

Features:
  • Powered by OpenStreetMap & OSRM! :)
  • Works for any country/city in the world.
  • Search by city or street, even by important places.
  • turn-by-turn indications with voice & icons. 
  • 100% libre.

Do you want more? :)
  • Set a destination in any moment, even without GPS signal. The navigation will start when the GPS gets a high signal!
  • If you lost the route, it will do an automatic recalculate :)
  • Time, distance to destination & speed indicators.
  • Units: Kilometers or miles.
  • Center the view into the car or explore the route.
  • Set your favourite zoom driving. If you change it, it will be persist.
  • Set your home with a click on the map.
  • Portrait or landscape view.


How to use? In the easiest way:
How to use



How to install?

You can install it in the Ubuntu Phone Store, just search "GPS Navigation":

The app into the Ubuntu Phone Store


Will it work in my mobile?
It works fine in the BQ Ubuntu Edition & Nexus 4. Feedback about Meizu is welcome.


GPS Navigation



Limitations
  • Only works online (data mobile usage = ~2MB in ~10km).
  • Just for driving, don't expect it for walking/bicycle.

I want to thanks Robin, Mitchell Reese, Szymon Waliczek & David Planella specially their feedback & support.


Just have a nice trip with your Ubuntu Phone! Cheers! |o/

Carla Sella: Ubuntu Phone Update: May [Planet Ubuntu]



So guys got some news from Canonical on Ubuntu Phone  OTA updates from May, let me share the goodness  with you:







Hi all,

Hope you're well. 

We have OTA updates from May to share with you which should be live very soon. Please find key updates below:

Web browser improvements:
- New bottom edge gesture to reveal tabs view
- New settings UI with Privacy settings

Scope improvements:
- Scope tagging (automatic aggregation of new sources)
- Today, Nearby and News scopes added support for keywords
- New and improved layout for the News scope

Address Book improvements:
- Ability to import contacts from SIM
- New settings panel
- Improved first-time user experience for contact sync/import

Toolkit upgraded:
- Version 1.3 of Toolkit
- Migrated to the 5.4 version of QT (https://wiki.qt.io/New-Features-in-Qt-5.4)




  

  
We also look forward to having those of you available on the Hangout next Monday where we'll also be sharing future anticipated updates.

Cheers,
The Ubuntu Phone Team
#ubuntuphone

Nicholas Skaggs: On Community Governance [Planet Ubuntu]

Recently the Community Council formally requested Jonathan Riddell to step away from his leadership role in the Kubuntu community. For many people this came as a shock. Who are the community council? Why would they have authority over Kubuntu and Jonathan? And what did he do to deserve this?

These are all valid questions! To be clear, despite being a part of the community team at Canonical, I was not a part of this decision. Nor were my fellow team members apart from Daniel and Michael who serve on the CC. It's important to remember this decision came from the Community Council.

For my part, I'd like to talk a little about the governance structure of ubuntu as I think it's important. Regardless of what you think about the decision, Johnathan, Kubuntu, or Canonical, I think it's a good idea we answer the questions of just who is the Community Council and what authority they have within the project. I've tried to present the facts about governance as clearly as possible here to the best of my ability, but I am happily corrected.

Who are the community council?
The are a group of volunteers who were elected by all of us who are community members. Mark sits as a permanent member and acts as SABDFL. He does vet out candidates, but anyone can be nominated. The elections are open and the most recent had several candidates to choose from. At the moment, two of the seven elected members (with Mark being the permanent 8th member) are Canonical employees.

What does the community council do?
One of the biggest responsibilities of the council are to act as a mediator and arbitrator for conflict between folks within the community. In addition, they help oversee the other councils, delegate responsibilities and ensure the community upholds the Code of Conduct.

Why do we need a community council?
The community council exists to help ensure the community has a way of dealing with conflicts, resolving disputes and making hard decisions when there is otherwise no clear majority or easy answer. They also are one of the primary ways the Code of Conduct is enforced.

Should the community council have authority in this matter?
In a nutshell, yes. As the ultimate upholders in Code of Conduct violations, the community council should have authority for any such violation.

Should I blindly trust the community council?
Of course not! They are a like any other elected official and abuse of power is something we have to deal with as humans. Respect the position and authority of leaders, but never grant them a free pass. And make sure you vote!

So what about this decision?
The decision made by the CC in this case is not an easy one. That said, while I don't agree with how this decision was communicated, I do respect the authority and position of the council to weigh in on these matters. This is important! These folks deserve our respect as volunteers who freely give their time to help ubuntu!

I empathize greatly with the Kubuntu Council and community as such a decision seemingly has a large perceived effect. Perhaps the actual ramifications aren't as great as they appear? Perhaps not. I hope and trust Johnathan will continue working on KDE and kubuntu. My hope for Kubuntu is they emerge as a stronger community and continue to produce an awesome distro.

And as for my opinion on if the CC should have made this decision? Remember being a sideline observer in matters like this that you intrinsically don't have all the facts. It's easy to point fingers and assume things. Hindsight also makes it easy to say you would have made a different decision or went about it a different way. I don't envy the position of anyone in the community council. As I've not personally had the pleasure of working with Johnathan anywhere near the extent these folks have I can honestly say I don't know. But the reality is my opinion doesn't matter here. Keep in mind ubuntu is a meritocracy, and while all opinions are welcomed, not all cast equal weight.

So please respect the authority of our community governance structure. Respect those who serve on both councils. Not satisfied? We vote again on Community Council members this year! Think we should tweak/enhance/change our governance structure? I welcome the discussion! I enjoyed learning more about ubuntu governance and I challenge you to do the same before you let your emotions run with your decisions.

Scarlett Clark: Kubuntu: Statement from a not so important Kubuntu Developer. [Planet Ubuntu]

I support Jonathan Riddell

I support Jonathan Riddell

First, I hate drama, no I loathe drama.
I have refrained from much more than the occasional social share up to this point.
I do however, stand by our fearless leader (pun intended, Jonathan has never claimed to be the leader).

As I sit here packaging what has to be my millionth package, I wonder..
why do I work so hard, for free, in what has become such a hostile environment?
For the following reasons:
Jonathan: who has taught me so much and removed the barrier of entry for me.         (Took me well over a decade to get through this barrier), not to mention he has a heart of gold, I am having a hard time believing the accusations. I do however know his frustrations, as he was trying to get the information for the people affected by it.
Kubuntu team: Every single one of them I consider family. Great teachers and great friends.
Kubuntu community: Our wonderful community of users. Time to test! Extremely great bunch.

It truly saddens me to see all this FUD being thrown around, by folks that up till recently I had great respect for.
Couple things that do not sit well with me at all.
1) Absolutely zero communication to the Kubuntu Council about the “issues” with Jonathan prior to the shocking “request”.
2) The Kubuntu Council asked (repeatedly) for one thing: proof. This still has not been provided.
So what was suppose to happen here? Evidently bow down, walk away and happily work away silenced.
This is NOT the open source / FLOSS way. At least not to my understanding. Perhaps I have misunderstood the meaning all these years.

The result of all of this… My motivation to dedicate every waking hour to my passion, open source software, is depleting rather quickly. At least in the corporate environment there is a paycheck at the end of the week.

I will stick by Jonathan and the rest of the team until the bitter end, but not at the capacity that I was. So with that said..
I will support our current releases with bugfix KDE releases. I have currently packaged 15.04.1 which is in testing, 5.3.1 Plasma is in the works.

And yes, I will work on 4.14.3 for trusty, but it will take time as it has to be done by hand.

I also want to make note that the super awesome folks at KDE are not affected by my recent woes, I will continue my Continuous Integration support!

Cheers,
Scarlett

Ubuntu App Developer Blog: Keeping track of evolving QML components [Planet Ubuntu]

We all love QML because it allows for fast prototyping, and not only that, it's a very efficient tool for production applications. The complexity of C and C++ is hidden behind neat and simple API. Many if not most app developers these days take advantage of that without even having to know the implementation details. Most of the Ubuntu UI Toolkit is pure QML except for performance-critical elements like the new ListItem or the theming engine.

There's a notable flaw however to QML as a language when it comes to versioning. Any QML component is made known to the engine in one of two ways. Using qmldir, which essentially is a text file listing with version numbers and filenames - unfortunately there's no error handling whatsoever so qmldir files in productive use are all but flawless and mistakes including missing files won't be noticed easily, made worse by the fact that QML automagically recognizes files as class names regardless of being registered anywhere. The other way is qmlRegisterType in one of its various incarnations - seemingly with inbuilt support for minor revisions which in fact are completely unrelated to QML.

Looking further at how classes behave it's not looking much better either. There's no support for versions in functions, properties or signals. All members will show up in all versions the same QML file is registered to. Additions as well as changes affect all versions - unless you fork the implementation, which is what we do for the Ubuntu UI Toolkit these days to ensure new versions don't break existing code, with the exception of bug fixes. To make matters worse, if the implementation imports another, newer version, the public API will follow suit. Regardless of the policy of a particular project, there's no easy way of ensuring the public API is what you want it to be, it's just too failible.

Fortunately the Ubuntu UI Toolkit has employed a solution that's now become available for everyone:

 

Usage: apicheck [-v[v]] [-qml] [-json] IMPORT_URI [...IMPORT_URI]

Generate an API description file of one or multiple components.
Example: apicheck Ubuntu.Components
    apicheck --json Ubuntu.DownloadManager

The following rules apply for inclusion of public API:

 - Types not declared as internal in qmldir
 - C++ types exported from a plugin
 - Properties and functions not prefixed with __ (two underscores)
 - Members of internal base classes become part of public components

 

It's designed to serialize the public QML API in a way that is human readable as well as easy to process in a pogrammatic fashion. Let's try it out, shall we?

/usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/ubuntu-ui-toolkit/apicheck Ubuntu.Components > components.api.new

This will give you something like the following in the file components.api.new:

Ubuntu.Components.PageHeadConfiguration 1.1: Object
    readonly property Action actions
property Action backAction
    property Item contents
    property color foregroundColor
    property string preset
    readonly property PageHeadSections sections
Ubuntu.Components.PageHeadConfiguration 1.3: Object
    readonly property Action actions
    property Action backAction
    property Item contents
    property color foregroundColor
    property bool locked
    property string preset
    readonly property PageHeadSections sections
    property bool visible
Ubuntu.Components.UbuntuShape.HAlignment: Enum
    AlignHCenter
    AlignLeft
    AlignRight
Ubuntu.Components.ViewItems 1.2: QtObject
    property bool dragMode
    signal dragUpdated(ListItemDrag event)
    property bool selectMode
    property QList<int> selectedIndices
Ubuntu.Components.i18n 1.0 0.1: QtObject
    property string domain
    property string language
    function bindtextdomain(string domain_name, string dir_name)
    function string tr(string text)
    function string tr(string singular, string plural, int n)
    function string dtr(string domain, string text)
    function string dtr(string domain, string singular, string plural, int n)
    function string ctr(string context, string text)
    function string dctr(string domain, string context, string text)
    function string tag(string text)
    function string tag(string context, string text)

There are, in order, a QML component, an enum, an attached property and a singleton, all read from the typesystem in the way they will be available to QML applications.

Now in addition to reviewing this file with the naked eye you also use diff:

diff -F '[.0-9]' -u components.api{,.new}

Now let's imagine we're making some changes to some of the classes and running it again will yield this result:

@@ -415,11 +415,11 @@ Ubuntu.Components.PageHeadConfiguration
 Ubuntu.Components.PageHeadConfiguration 1.3: Object
     readonly property Action actions
     property Action backAction
-    property Item contents
+    property var contents
     property color foregroundColor
     property bool locked
     property string preset
-    readonly property PageHeadSections sections
+    property PageHeadSections sections
     property bool visible
 Ubuntu.Components.PageHeadSections 1.1: QtObject
     property bool enabled
@@ -1001,7 +1001,7 @@ Ubuntu.Components.UbuntuShape.FillMode:
 Ubuntu.Components.UbuntuShape.HAlignment: Enum
     AlignHCenter
     AlignLeft
-    AlignRight
+    AlignTop
 Ubuntu.Components.UbuntuShape.VAlignment: Enum
     AlignBottom
     AlignTop
@@ -1017,7 +1017,6 @@ Ubuntu.Components.UriHandler 1.0 0.1: Qt
 Ubuntu.Components.ViewItems 1.2: QtObject
     property bool dragMode
     signal dragUpdated(ListItemDrag event)
-    property bool selectMode
     property QList<int> selectedIndices
 Ubuntu.Components.i18n 1.0 0.1: QtObject
     property string domain
@@ -1027,7 +1026,7 @@ Ubuntu.Components.i18n 1.0 0.1: QtObject
     function string tr(string singular, string plural, int n)
     function string dtr(string domain, string text)
     function string dtr(string domain, string singular, string plural, int n)
-    function string ctr(string context, string text)
+    function string ctr(string context, string text, bool newArgument)
     function string dctr(string domain, string context, string text)
     function string tag(string text)
     function string tag(string context, string text)

See what happened there? Several changes show up in the diff output, including changed arguments, removed and added members and even the removal of the readonly keyword.

In the case of the Ubuntu UI Toolkit a components.api file lives in the repository. A qmake target generates components.api.new from the local branch and prints a diff of the two files. This is run as part of make check, meaning any changes to the API become visible at the time you run unit tests, as well as CI builds for merge requests made on Launchpad. Any changes will cause make check to fail so the branch has to include an updated componets.api which shows up in Launchpad reviews and bzr command line tools.

If any of this got you excited, maybe you wanna add it to your own components and improve QA?

#SomeBlackLivesDontMatter [Darleen Click] [protein wisdom]

Remember Baltimore? The city of “over-policing” where Freddie Gray’s death resulted in the controversial indictments of six police officers?

Well, the police have decided to take a more laid-back approach and, via Bob Belvedere, there have been 36 homicides so far this month.

“I’m afraid to go outside,” said Perrine, 47. “It’s so bad, people are afraid to let their kids outside. People wake up with shots through their windows. Police used to sit on every corner, on the top of the block. These days? They’re nowhere.”

Perrine’s brother is one of 36 people killed in Baltimore so far this month, already the highest homicide count for May since 1999. But while homicides are spiking, arrests have plunged more than 50 percent compared to last year.

The drop in arrests followed the death of Freddie Gray from injuries he suffered in police custody. Gray’s death sparked protests against the police and some rioting, and led to the indictment of six officers.

Now West Baltimore residents worry they’ve been abandoned by the officers they once accused of harassing them. In recent weeks, some neighborhoods have become like the Wild West without a lawman around, residents said.

Where is Al Sharpton? Where are the marches? The calls for accountability?

Could the silence be because these victims don’t provide the correct political theater for the Left?

Let’s be honest: Some black lives really don’t matter. If you are a young black man shot in the head by another young black man, almost certainly no one will know your name. Al Sharpton won’t come rushing to your family’s side with cameras in tow. MSNBC won’t discuss the significance of your death. No one will protest, or even riot, for you. You are a statistic, not a cause. Just another dead black kid in some city somewhere, politically useless to progressives and the media, therefore all but invisible. […]

When April Ryan of the American Urban Radio Networks asked White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Tuesday what can be done about violence in places like Baltimore, Earnest first suggested passage of more gun-safety laws — even though Baltimore already has some of the strictest gun-control laws in the country.

When Ryan followed up with a query premised on more summer jobs and rec centers as a short-term answer to the shootings, Earnest referred her to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as those of Labor and Education. It was the blind questioning the blind.

What neither of them mentioned is the police. In Baltimore, the famous looted CVS stopped burning, but the riot kept going in a different form. Just as the Freddie Gray unrest was initially stoked by an inadequate police response, the wave of shootings has been enabled by less aggressive police patrols. […]

It is wrong for the police to shrink from doing their job, but the last month in Baltimore shows how important that job is. This is especially true in dangerous, overwhelmingly black neighborhoods. They need disproportionate police attention, even if that attention is easily mischaracterized as racism. The alternative is a deadly chaos that destroys and blights the lives of poor blacks.

It is a paradox that a figure who is anathema to the BlackLivesMatter movement, Rudy Giuliani, saved more black lives than any of his critics ever will. He did it by getting the police to establish and maintain basic order in New York’s neighborhoods and defending the cops when the likes of Al Sharpton maligned them.

Now that Mayor Bill de Blasio has pulled back, shootings are trending up in New York City. But it’s OK, as long as nameless young black men are the ones being shot at. For progressives only some black lives matter.

Of course, Alice Goffman could just be making it all up [Darleen Click] [protein wisdom]

Steven Lubet does an old-fashioned journalistic review of sociology’s newest heart-throb, Alice Goffman and her book, ON THE RUN: Fugitive Life in an American City, revealing a confirmation bias that never even thought to vet the specifics.

On the Run is the story of the six years Goffman spent conducting an ethnographic study in a poor black community in West Philadelphia. Beginning in her sophomore year at the University of Pennsylvania and continuing through her graduate work at Princeton, she observed a group of young men in a neighborhood she pseudonymously called 6th Street. Goffman eventually moved into an apartment in the neighborhood, sometimes taking in two of them as roommates, while she chronicled their lives, challenges and, most notably, their almost endless interactions with the law on matters ranging from trivial to homicidal. […]

The praise overwhelmed the nays, and soon there was talk of a possible film or television adaptation. The New York Times selected On the Run as one of fifty notable works of non-fiction for 2014; it was the only university press book on the list. Picador won a bidding war for the paperback rights, and issued a widely promoted trade edition in April 2015.

One of the previously unremarked upon problems is Goffman’s credulity toward her sources, which leads her to repeat dubious stories as though they are unquestionably true. Consider the case of the brothers Chuck and Tim (all names in On the Run are pseudonyms), which Goffman also tells in her public appearances. In Goffman’s account, eighteen year old Chuck and eleven year old Tim were out for a drive, when they were pulled over by the police. It turned out that the car had been stolen, and Chuck was arrested, notwithstanding his protest that he had only borrowed it from his girlfriend’s uncle. Young Tim was also arrested, according to Goffman, and later placed on three years of juvenile probation on the charge of “accessory” to receiving stolen property. (p. 12).

This story is not incidental to the book, as Goffman uses Tim’s ordeal to demonstrate how difficult it is for her subjects to avoid acquiring significant criminal records at an early age. Although I do not doubt her general point about the snares of the judicial system, these particular events almost certainly could not have happened as she retells them in her book and lectures.

I spoke with a former Philadelphia public defender and a current Philadelphia prosecutor, both of whom have personal knowledge of juvenile court proceedings during the period of Goffman’s study. Neither one could imagine that an eleven year old would be arrested and charged merely for riding in a stolen car. The only reason he would be taken into custody, said the prosecutor, “would be to get him home safely.” Even adult passengers, he told me, are not charged for riding in stolen cars, because that is not a crime in Pennsylvania. There is nothing to prosecute, he said, because it isn’t against the law.

The former public defender was still more skeptical of the alleged juvenile court charge and probation for accessory to receiving stolen property. That would never happen to an eleven year old simply for riding in the car, he explained. There would have to have been proof of something more – “like maybe if the kid had popped the ignition with a screwdriver.” And in any event, a three year “probation sentence” would have been impossible, because Pennsylvania does not have fixed terms of probation for juveniles. Moreover, there are several outcomes less severe than probation that are virtually always given to first-time juvenile offenders for non-violent crimes. If the length of a short “consent decree” had been extended to a three years, it would have been for continuing behavior far more serious than merely sitting in a stolen car. Finally, there is no such offense as accessory to receiving stolen property in the Pennsylvania Crime Code. “Accessory” is a term you might hear on television, said the prosecutor, “but not from a juvenile court judge.”

I do not know what actually happened to Chuck and Tim that day, but neither does Goffman. Chuck’s story about his girlfriend’s uncle would be immediately familiar to anyone who has ever represented a car thief, but we can leave that aside for now. I am not naïve about neighborhoods like 6th Street. I spent two years in a legal services office on the West Side of Chicago, and another decade as a defense lawyer in the Cook County juvenile and criminal courts. The idea that an eleven year old received such a heavy sentence for such innocent behavior is so implausible as to raise red flags, as is Goffman’s uncritical reliance of the story.

Lubet even cites the story in Goffman’s book that she participated in driving around her homeboys while they were actively trying to find someone to murder; an action that constitutes a felony in just about every jurisdiction in the country.

Lubet asks

I do not know if Goffman’s editors and dissertation committee held her to a journalist’s standard of fact checking.

Perhaps because the story was too good, too in line with how her peers in academia view those people along with their contempt of the America they can blame for the social conditions as laid forth in the book. Even Lubet, who has done the job her editors should have, can’t help but fall in with the politically correct

I did not set out to censure Goffman, and it gives me no pleasure to make these observations about such an accomplished young scholar. There is much of value in On the Run, especially as it reveals the terrible consequences of brutal- and over-policing in minority neighborhoods.

Alice Goffman wouldn’t be the first sociologist to embellish her stories and romanticize the “exotic” people she is studying. She is to sociology what Timothy Treadwell was to zoology; Alice just didn’t end up being eaten by her subjects.

Or she could just be making the whole thing up.

Ray Gerrard, G3NOM and HS0ZDZ, 20 May 2015 [Radio Society of Great Britain - Main Site]

Former Vice President of the Radio Amateur Society of Thailand (RAST) under the patronage of His Majesty the King (RAST) Ray Gerrard, G3NOM and HS0ZDZ passed away at his home in Bangkok peacefully on May 20, 2015 aged 75. His passing follows a heart attack that he had suffered more than a decade earlier. At […]

Graham Mercer, GM4BES, May 2015 [Radio Society of Great Britain - Main Site]

Graham Mercer, GB4BES, was one of the long-time Radio Officers at Portpatrick Radio GPK and an enthusiastic radio amateur. He was closely involved with Portpatrick Lifeboat and was an honorary member of Wigtownshire Amateur Radio Society. For many years Graham lived in the Radio Station/Coast Guard Houses close to the GPK radio station and at […]

Peter Carbutt, G2AFV, 8 April 2015 [Radio Society of Great Britain - Main Site]

It has been brought to our attention via a report in the Barnsley Chronicle that Peter Carbutt, G2AFV passed away at the age of 92 on 8 April 2015. Peter was a Spitfire pilot in the Second World War, ultimately being shot down by tank fire. He crash-landed on Allied territory, breaking his back in […]

David Hicks, G6IFA, 19 May 2015 [Radio Society of Great Britain - Main Site]

It is with great sadness that I inform you of the death of my uncle, David Hicks, G6IFA, who passed away quite suddenly on the morning of the 19th of May 2015 aged 71. David grey up in Hounslow, West London and since moving to Cheshire, became an amateur in the early 1980s. He was […]

Alberta creationist discovers rare fish fossils in basement dig [CBC | Technology News]

Fish fossil calgary

A University of Calgary paleontologist estimates the fossilized fish Edgar Nernberg found while excavating a Calgary basement are 60 million years old. "We agree to disagree," says Nernberg, an avowed creationist who believes God made the world a few thousand years ago.

Science magazine retracts study on voters' gay-rights views [CBC | Technology News]

Retracted Study for AIH

Science magazine on Thursday formally retracted a highly publicized article about a study gauging the ability of openly gay canvassers to shift voters' views toward support for same-sex marriage.

Google unveils Android's latest tricks at I/O conference [CBC | Technology News]

Google Androids Next Tricks

Google's next version of its Android operating system will boast new ways to fetch information, pay merchants and protect privacy on mobile devices as the internet company duels with Apple in the quest to make their technology indispensable.

'Lucy' likely had company: New pre-human species discovered [CBC | Technology News]

Human Ancestor

Scientists think ancient fossils of a human ancestor found in Ethiopia represent a new species - one that lived alongside the famous 'Lucy.'

Most new cars will have Apple or Android dashboards by end of 2015 [CBC | Technology News]

By the end of the year, nearly every major automaker will begin offering Apple's CarPlay or Google's Android Auto, two systems that effectively turn a car's dashboard screen into a smartphone.

Apple overtakes Google as world's most valuable brand [CBC | Technology News]

Apple, buoyed by iPhone 6 sales and buzz over its latest Watch offerings, topped both Forbes' and the BrandZ 100 most valuable companies lists for 2015, bumping former top-earner Google as the world's most valuable company.

Fossil skull may belong to world's earliest known murder victim [CBC | Technology News]

Oldest murder victim

Scientists say a 430,000-year-old fossilized skull discovered deep inside a Spanish cave shows telltale signs of homicide - the earliest ever found.

FIFA 16 soccer video game adds women's teams [CBC | Technology News]

EA Sports says FIFA 16, the new version of its soccer video game, will feature 12 women's national teams, including Canada, for the first time in the 22-year history of the franchise.

University of Manitoba gets up close and personal with insects [CBC | Technology News]

New camera equipment in the University of Manitoba's entomology department has researchers taking vividly detailed photos of insects that they say will help farmers make better decisions about pest management.

It's a jungle down there: Alaskan whale hunters capture seal song [CBC | Technology News]

Ocean sounds

Herbert Adams was expecting to see some whales when he sunk a video camera into the ocean off the coast of Barrow, Alaska. Instead, he was surprised with the sounds he captured, which scientists say are the call of the male bearded seal.

El Nino blamed for early wildfires across Western Canada [CBC | Technology News]

Experts are blaming El Nino for speeding up nature's clock and forcing firefighters to deploy weeks ahead of normal to battle wildfires across rural Western Canada.

Listening to an AM broadcast station on the BC-348Q [The SWLing Post]

SignalCorps-BC-348Q

I listen to my BC-348Q most days; in fact, it’s my preferred way of receiving my morning dose of Radio Australia on 9,580 kHz. And although you won’t find any medium-wave DXers endorsing this beefy antique rig, the BC-348, with its warm tone, has turned out to be a great shortwave receiver for casual listening.

When the armed forces commissioned the Signal Corps BC348 during WWII, the last thing they wanted was to have on-duty personnel listening to AM broadcast bands during, say, bombing sorties––so they purposefully omitted the medium-wave band. The band selections in the BC-348 are as follows:

  • BC-348-Q-Dial200-500 KC.
  • 1.5-3.5 MC.
  • 3.5-6.0 MC.
  • 6.0-9.5 MC.
  • 9.5-13.5 MC.
  • 13.5-18.0 MC.

But here in the comfort of my radio digs three-quarters of a century after WWII, I recently discovered that this classic “hot war” receiver does, indeed, pick up one of my local AM broadcast stations: WTZQ, and on 1,600 kHz. WTZQ has become one of my favorite stations; it’s one of the few in this region that’s still actually independently owned.  The station’s playlist spans the decades, including, as they say, “everything from Glenn Miller to Steve Miller.” And, since they’re on “1.6 MC” they make the cut on the ‘348’s second-band selection.  How cool is that?

WTZQWTZQ’s station is a good thirty miles from here as the crow flies, so reception usually includes a little static on the wire antenna I’ve connected to the BC-348. Still, you might enjoy this short audio clip of WTZQ via the BC-348Q:

You can stream WTZQ, by the way, via their website. Enjoy!

Community stations provide lifeline of info in post-quake Nepal [The SWLing Post]

Nepal-Earthquake-Map(Source: BBC Monitoring)

Community radio stations in earthquake-hit Nepal have become a crucial provider of information – in fact, the only source in places where newspapers do not reach and internet service does not exist.

Many of the stations are operating from tents after their permanent buildings were destroyed in the 25 April earthquake.

Staff members from these stations have shown tremendous resilience in ensuring that the flow of information does not stop.

[Continue reading…]

The Federalist Radio Hour: Eliana Johnson and Brian Willet [The Federalist]

Ben spoke with Eliana Johnson,the DC Editor of National Review, about Senator Elizabeth Warren’s controversial practice of flipping foreclosed homes. He also got the journalist’s take on the 2016 field of presidential contenders. Later, Brian Willet joined the program to explain FIFA’s corruption scandal and what that means for the 2018 World Cup.

Listen to the full show here, or click on the embedded clip below.

North Carolina Protects Religious Rights In Same-Sex Marriage Debate [The Federalist]

Despite accusations of hostility toward homosexuals and discrimination on the level of Jim Crow, the North Carolina House of Representatives approved a bill that allows magistrates to recuse themselves from performing marriages due to sincerely held religious objections to same-sex marriage. After more than two hours of passionate debate, the House passed Senate Bill 2 in a 65 to 45 vote Wednesday.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) after the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) sent a memo to magistrates last year, telling them that any failure to conduct marriages of all couples would violate their oath of office and constitute a failure to perform a duty of the office. “For these reasons, all magistrates must treat same-sex marriages for which a marriage license has been issued by the Register of Deeds the same way that marriages between a man and a woman are scheduled and conducted.”

Magistrates Ejected from Civil Service

Anyone who refuses to perform same-sex marriages—even for religious reasons—could be suspended, removed from office, and potentially face criminal charges. Under current law, then, basically any magistrate who has religious objections to same-sex marriage should resign.

Several magistrates were forced to leave their jobs rather than face termination or punishment.

This happened to several magistrates as they were forced to leave their jobs rather than face termination or punishment. Two magistrates are now suing the AOC under the N.C. Constitution, which states that “all persons have a natural and inalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences. . . . No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws; nor shall any person be subjected to discrimination by the State because of race, color, religion, or national origin.”

In a stand for freedom of religion and to push back against the AOC’s refusal to accommodate the magistrates, Berger sponsored Senate Bill 2 that would allow them to recuse themselves from participating in all marriage ceremonies (not just same-sex ceremonies) while ensuring the rights of same-sex couples to get married by making sure that a magistrate or district judge will be available to perform the ceremony.

The bill is based on the Government Employee Rights Act that protect employees from being disciplined or fired for refusing to perform a duty that violates their religion.

Not Just Same-Sex Marriages

The Senate Bill states the following:

Every magistrate has the right to recuse from performing all lawful marriages under this Chapter based upon any sincerely held religious objection. Such recusal shall be upon notice to the chief district court judge and is in effect for at least six months from the time delivered to the chief district court judge. The recusing magistrate may not perform any marriage under this Chapter until the recusal is rescinded in writing. The chief district court judge shall ensure that all individuals issued a marriage license seeking to be married before a magistrate may marry.

If, and only if, all magistrates in a jurisdiction have recused under subsection (a) of this section, the chief district court judge shall notify the Administrative Office of the Courts. The Administrative Office of the Courts shall ensure that a magistrate is available in that jurisdiction for performance of marriages for the times required under G.S. 7A-292(b).

The authority granted to magistrates under G.S. 51-1 and subdivision (a)(9) of this section is a responsibility given collectively to the magistrates in a county and is not a duty imposed upon each individual magistrate. The chief district court judge shall ensure that marriages before a magistrate are available to be performed at least a total of 10 hours per week, over at least three business days per week.

Despite the plain language of the bill that accommodates the religious beliefs of public officials and respects the rights of same-sex couples to get married, representatives who opposed the bill said it is subversive and gives public officials permission to discriminate.

Equal Access to Marriage Ceremonies

Rep. Grier Martin (D-Wake), who accused the Republicans of rushing the bill through without due deliberation, said the bill is “couched in terms of equality,” but that’s only “window dressing” for discrimination, forcing same-sex couples to possibly wait to get their marriage license if a magistrate isn’t available.

Magistrates are given the authority to perform marriages, but it is not a required duty.

Martin fails to appreciate that if a magistrate has recused himself and another isn’t available, heterosexual couples will be just as affected since the magistrate has removed himself from performing all marriages.

Rep. Henry Michaux (D-Durham) argued that if a magistrate can’t fulfill the obligations of his oath, then he shouldn’t take the job in the first place. Ssuch a position would, in effect, disallow religious people from holding public office. The bill seeks to remove any conflict by accommodating employees with religious objections. As Rep. Paul Stam (R-Wake) said, “People who want to get married can get married. They will not face discrimination. Magistrates might decide not to perform marriages at all. That’s their decision.”

Rep. Sarah Stevens (R-Surry) was quick to remind her colleagues that magistrates are given the authority to perform marriages, but it is not a required duty. Since it is not a requirement of their position, they are not “refusing to do their job,” as some of the representative stated.

Deep Feelings on Both Sides

Rep. Larry Pittman (R-Cabarrus) urged his fellow congressmen to vote for the bill because it has broader implications in the protection of pastors and clergy who refuse to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies. Religious freedom is a fundamental right, and people of conscience should not be compelled by the state to violate their religious beliefs, he said.

Democrats bristled at the implication that those who oppose the bill don’t believe in God or that the Left opposes the family.

The most heated moments in the debate came after Rep. Bert Jones (R-Rockingham) accused the Left of attacking the institution of marriage and rejecting God’s will that marriage be between a man and a woman. If there’s any discrimination, it’s against the family, Jones said. “This is a war against the family, and if you can water it down, then it means nothing.”

Several Democrats responded with barely contained anger, saying proponents of the bill had no right to imply that those who oppose it don’t believe in God or that the Left opposes the family.

Others argued that God is love, and the loving thing to do is to perform marriage ceremonies for homosexuals; to do anything else shows animus toward them and undermines current laws that support same-sex marriage, they said. One congressman even chided the Republican-led House for daring to bring up this issue after Ireland had approved same-sex marriage and prior to the U.S. Supreme Court taking up the issue.

Rep. Dean Arp (R-Union) reminded his colleagues that the bill still allows for same-sex couples to get their marriage licenses. “This is not discriminatory,” he said. “This bill brings a balance to a difficult situation. These people [the magistrates] were in office prior to the law changing. They didn’t change. The law changed on them.”

The Top 18 Things I’ve Learned On The Way To 44 [The Federalist]

The spring semester has ended. Graduations are commencing. Another group of seniors is leaving us to make their lives in the world beyond campus. I can’t believe it is already time for them to go. We work with them in class and try to impart different types of knowledge and certain habits of thinking.

Yet I find that I want to share with them some of the things I have learned about life, as opposed to politics (which is my academic subject), before they leave. Occasionally, I have the chance to talk with some of them about how things look to me at midlife. These are the thoughts I offered to a gathering of them this year.

18. An Apology Is Always Welcome.

As an honors student at Florida State University about a quarter of a century ago, I was sometimes afforded special opportunities. One was to take an honors seminar in public administration with the dean of social sciences, Charles Cnudde.

In those days, I often made poor decisions about academic priorities and sometimes attended Cnudde’s class on almost no sleep due to too much socializing. On at least one occasion, I actually fell asleep in the class. After becoming a professor myself, the memory of how little respect I’d paid to Cnudde haunted me. I realized how much it bothers me when students fail to pay attention or are distracted by their phones. I had already failed on one side of the golden rule, and now wanted better treatment on the other side.

I’m not sure I believe in karma, but I do believe in trying to make things right. Thanks to Google, I didn’t have to hire a private detective to find my former dean. I found him and apologized for my behavior in his class. He received it well, and expressed an interest in how my life has gone since that time. I no longer carry the burden of that failure. And I imagine he has the satisfaction of knowing that I understand what I did wrong back in 1989.

17. Be Interested in People.

Dale Carnegie offered this advice during his reign over the self-help market, but it has the advantage of being correct. Being interested in the lives of others, especially those who are older than you and who are living the kinds of lives you want for yourself, is the single best way to form relationships and it opens doors.

I remember meeting Mariam Bell at Prison Fellowship some years ago. She was busy, and didn’t have a lot of time for me at first. But I caught her during a moment when she wasn’t in a flurry of activity and began to ask questions about her life and career. Her answers interested me because she was doing things I wanted to do. She was friends with people who were heroes to me.

More important, though, is that our conversation caused her to see me as someone who could be mentored. She could see that I cared about the same things she did and that I wanted to be part of the important work she did. My friendship with her launched me into my first job with a think tank in Georgia. Other important mentors along the way also taught me and made it possible for me to take other opportunities. But it all started with just being interested.

16. However, Respect Boundaries.

The same part of my personality that has served me so well in terms of getting to know people and winning mentors is also the part that works against me. Long experience has (very) slowly taught me that not everyone is comfortable with the very low expectations of privacy that I have. Many people are reluctant to share details of their lives and will only do so after a lengthy process of developing trust. It is important to respect this difference between people. If you don’t, the fences turn into walls.

15. There Is Power in Silence.

One of my former bosses has a sphinx-like quality. I mean he is highly comfortable with silence, and benefits from the power and mystery it creates. When one person doesn’t speak, other people (like me) feel the need to fill the void. The result is that the person who takes on the burden of talking will often disclose things they may not have intended. Part of the advice is to use silence to your advantage. The other part is not to allow silence to intimidate you into saying something you do not wish to say.

The other advantage of silence is that it causes one’s words to take on a heightened importance. No one waits with anticipation to hear what the blabbermouth will say next, but when the quiet man or woman chooses to offer an opinion there is often a great deal of interest.

14. Listen Carefully.

Those of us who speak fairly freely and are transparent often fail to realize that others are choosing their words with great care. (“It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.”) Without paying close attention to the words and phrases others use, we may often miss certain limitations of commitment or carefully created loopholes put in place by others. But if you listen with your mind fully engaged and with determination to take in the full meaning, you will avoid making costly assumptions or relying upon assurances that are actually not assuring.

13. Give Experience Its Due.

When I was young, I disdained experience in favor of intelligence. I thought the value of experience was just something older people made up to justify their advantages and power over me. As the years go by, I find myself learning one thing after another that could probably only be gained by experience. In the same way that one learns the power of bluffing by being bluffed, as in a game, so, too, is life. Some things simply have to happen to you to convey the lesson.

This dynamic explains the common phenomenon of young people finding their parents to be arbitrary and foolish in the teen years only to discern more wisdom and intelligence in their mothers and fathers as they begin to carry their own burdens and live their own lives. Just as experience can help explain your parents, it can also help explain your bosses. Sometimes, you have to spend a few years in your boss’s job in order to understand your boss.

12. But Don’t Allow Your Youth and Inexperience to Paralyze You.

It is possible to revere experience so much that you, as a young person, can be paralyzed and intimidated. You can go on the job market and take a position and be so tentative and permission-seeking that you aren’t any good to anyone. Remember that part of a boss’s job is having a good sense of what you might be able to handle and giving you tasks that will help you to develop the relevant mental (and maybe physical) muscles.

When you are given an assignment, trust that your boss thinks it is appropriate to your abilities and do everything you can to figure it out on your own. Only seek help after you have exhausted your own avenues for progress. You may be surprised what various manuals or your friend, the Internet, can do to help you begin answering some of your questions. And when you show that initiative and ingenuity, your boss absolutely will notice.

11. Mistakes Can Have Value.

There are three primary ways to react to a mistake. You may defend your mistake, become wounded by your mistake, or choose to learn from your mistake.

The first two choices have severe consequences. People who defend their mistakes prove they haven’t learned the lesson and may not be trustworthy in the future because they will repeat the error. Such persons will rack up a lot of damage and smart people (including managers and employers) will choose not to go along for the ride.

The second choice leads to tentativeness and self-pity. You may come to view yourself as a person who simply can’t make the right decision and therefore is not worthy of opportunity. If you go this way, you end up wrecking your ship on the shore of emotional funk.

But the third decision turns mistakes into gold. Wise managers and wise people generally value a person who makes a mistake and then demonstrates that he or she has internalized the lesson. The key is the word “lesson.” Mistakes are a costly form of education, but they can be the best teachers. It is also worth pointing out that people who make mistakes when they are young and stakes are perhaps smaller will be smarter as the stakes become larger.

10. About the Stock Market.

Don’t buy and sell in the emotional waves of the market. I don’t pretend to be a financial guru, but I’ve lived long enough to realize that the market has its irrational moments when everyone begins to act like animals (thus the bulls and bears) rather than true investors. Have a method of determining the value of companies other than relying on animal spirits. Even when we suffer big, bad swings downward, there is typically a recovery (post-1987, post-2008) over the next few years. If you answer that you can’t wait for the recovery, then the market is not for you.

9. Avoid the Golden Handcuffs.

My first real professional job was at a large health insurance corporation in Florida. I worked with several people who were well-compensated, but largely unhappy with the nature of the work. One boss offered me some strong life advice that I have generally heeded ever since: “Don’t get the golden handcuffs. Don’t get loaded down with high car payments and a mortgage that you can only afford if you do this job. Maintain your freedom.” He was right. I’ve taken his advice ever since and always strive to live in such a way that I have some margin and could change gears if necessary.

Along those lines, don’t collect possessions. And when it comes to things like boats or vacation homes, it’s probably better just to rent them when you want them instead of having them take up valuable territory in the back of your mind (and slowly draining your bank account).

8. Be Careful When You Buy a House.

The process can be like a game of Old Maid. Everyone in the transaction is about to get what they want, except maybe you. The sellers will get out of their mortgage and will likely take some cash with them. The realtor will take a nice commission. Your supposedly flinty home inspector is just like them, generally. He does the inspection. He gets paid. If he raises a fuss, the community of realtors will remember and will do what they can to minimize his appeal.

There are three parties (maybe four, if there are two realtors) who will all benefit from a done deal. Your destiny is more complicated. You may be taking on a bad house that is damaged, destined to be undesirable, is too expensive, etc. Resist all the momentum for the deal and take your time.

7. Remember: Every Man (and Woman) Is a Bad Judge in His Own Case.

My besetting temptation has always been hubris. The Christian faith is the only thing in my life that has caused me to reflect critically on the things my ego serves up. I’m thankful for that religious check on something that can do real damage in a life. Excessive pride alienates friends and loved ones. It also makes enemies of people you may have only known a short time.

To this day, I am embarrassed at things I said to my father and mother because of my disproportionate ego. I also regret my attitude toward superiors in some of the jobs I held, especially as a young person. If you want to spot a bad employee, one method is to look to the person obsessed with whether he is being respected or not. Self-flattery is its own reward. But along with it comes many disadvantages to which the proud person is often blind.

Some of us judge ourselves too harshly. Humility is a good thing. It means that you do not think too highly of yourself and do not expect the royal treatment. But too many people (often women) go beyond humility into denigrating themselves. The answer for them is not the warning against pride, but rather the assurance that they are bearers of the image of God and that they possess the dignity that accompanies such an exalted status.

6. Respect Your Future Self.

I got this from a female federal judge in Houston who was speaking to a group of students. You will ultimately have to live with all of your choices. What seems worthwhile in the moment may bear crushing weight in the future. When you make decisions or act in certain ways, ask how your 44-year-old self will feel about what you did. Will that person thank you, or offer a blistering critique for your failure of the marshmallow test?

This advice can backfire. I used it when trying to convince my son to put more effort into his math homework. Concluding my speech, I confidently asked, “So, son, what do you think your future self would say to you if you were able to travel forward in time and meet him?” He responded, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING? YOU’LL CREATE A PARADOX!”

5. Don’t Just Read.

Do away with the activity of reading as a passive thing. Have a conversation with books. Make them yours through the process of real interaction. Write in the margins. Underline. Circle. Bracket. There is an enormous difference between passing your eyes over a book and truly reading it. If you read in this active fashion, you will own texts in your mind and will be able to draw upon them for the rest of your life.

4. Decide What You Believe Before It’s Time to Act.

Many years ago, I walked through a neighborhood at night with my young wife. We heard the growling and barking of what sounded like a frighteningly aggressive dog. The muscles in my legs bunched up and the flight mechanism kicked in. But just as I began to run, my wife called out, “Hunter, don’t LEAVE me!”

My conscience took root and I stopped. I had never thought of what I would do if danger presented itself. The incident showed me that I needed to be ready rather than allowing a fear response to rule me. A few years after that time, I read about a professor at Virginia Tech who blocked the door to his classroom and sacrificed his life to protect students from a campus shooter. He was a Holocaust survivor. I suspect he acted heroically because he had already faced crisis and knew who he wanted to be in the midst of it.

What if you are tested in the crucible? Will you be refined like gold with the dross burning away? Or will you overturn the whole works and seek an escape? This could be when you find out your unborn child has a birth defect. Who are you in the moment? This could be you when an attractive co-worker tries to kiss you in the elevator and you are a married man or woman. Who will you be then?

3. Don’t Give Up on Yourself in Your Twenties.

After I finished my master’s degree and entered the workforce, I was depressed. I didn’t have a vision for my career. I didn’t know what to do. I knew I wasn’t thrilled with what was happening. I began to think of myself as a formerly promising young man.

In the darkest moments, I was just past 30, weighed about 325 pounds, and my career wasn’t working out. I began to think that my wife and our baby would be better off without me. There were times when I fantasized that the best thing that could happen would be that I died repelling a home invasion, leaving my wife and child with a fresh start and the life insurance money. Right at that moment, when I was in the deepest self-doubt and pain, things began to happen for me. All those years of continuing to read and think and write and study paid off.

Do work now that may have no ready outlet. I wrote several things early on that weren’t ready for prime time. But I kept trying and when the first big moment came, I had something to offer. Keep moving. Opportunity is likely to make itself known. The question is whether you will have anything to offer when it does.

2. Write Down Your Prayers.

I don’t know about you, but when I lay in bed with my eyes closed and I pray, I often find my mind just randomly wandering until I’m not praying any more. I’m just drifting and maybe heading toward sleep. I have found that when I write my prayers, I stay focused. I also find that I can leave the prayer behind in the book in which I wrote it and know that it is there and God knows about it. After years of this practice, I enjoy going back and reading through the prayer journals to see what my concerns were and what happened. I also see how God changed me during those times.

1. Stay at Your Post.

My sister married in 2004. She asked me to read something for the wedding. I asked the Baylor professor Ralph Woods for his recommendation. He suggested the following passage from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Letters and Papers from Prison”:

Marriage is more than your love for each other. It has a higher dignity and power, for it is God’s holy ordinance, through which he wills to perpetuate the human race till the end of time. In your love, you see only your two selves in the world, but in marriage you are a link in the chain of the generations, which God causes to come and to pass away to his glory, and calls into his kingdom. In your love you see only the heaven of your own happiness, but in marriage you are placed at a post of responsibility towards the world and mankind.

I would love to cite that passage more extensively, but you can see where Bonhoeffer is going. Husband and wife, these words represent offices which God has established with privileges and duties not only toward each other, but also toward the rest of humankind. We must take realize the gravity of the commitment we are making.

To emphasize the point, I think of another wedding I attended. The best man rose to speak a tribute to the groom. He thanked his friend for helping to keep him from leaving his own wife and family some years earlier. The words he remembered? “Stay at your post.”

The First Principle Of U.S. Foreign Policy [The Federalist]

What is the first principle of American foreign policy? This seems like rather an important question as we approach the selection of another commander in chief in an era of growing global instability, and six and a half years into a presidency that has yet to produce a coherent or recognizable “Obama Doctrine.”

The absence of a guiding principle is, on some level, a subtext of recent efforts to re-litigate the 2002-03 Iraq War debates. Yet there remains nothing resembling a unifying consensus on this core question within either of the two major political parties—let alone across both—on where our foreign policy should go next. But before you can analyze a proposed (or past) course for U.S. foreign policy, it is useful to start with first principles.

Our Foreign Policy Alternatives

So what, precisely, is the first principle of our foreign policy? Let’s look at the candidates.

American National Interest: Some would say our first principle is the pursuit of the American national interest, which is not a bad answer in the abstract, but it is far too vague to form any kind of organizing principle that helps guide our decisions. Saying that our foreign policy is designed to advance our national interests is sort of like saying a baseball player should try to be good at baseball.

To be sure, there are those of a progressive-internationalist bent who would argue that “American national interest” is too narrow a view, but even most of them eventually pay tribute to the argument that their preferred policy advances our national interest. In short, American national interest may be our predominant goal, but it’s not really an organizing principle that helps us make choices and select priorities.

American national interest may be our predominant goal, but it’s not really an organizing principle that helps us make choices and select priorities.

Democracy: Some would argue that the first principle of American foreign policy is an ideal that has been with us since the American Revolution: democratic self-determination for all peoples as a universal, God-given, and inalienable right. It is unquestionably the case that generations of American statesmen (and, more recently, stateswomen) have put both words and deeds behind promoting democracy and democratic institutions around the world, both as a tool of American influence and as an end in itself, perhaps most vocally in Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points, John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address, and George W. Bush’s Second Inaugural Address.

Most everyone on the U.S. political spectrum agrees that, in the long run, replacing tyrannies and oligarchies with democracies is likely to bring about a world with fewer wars, less terrorism, more commerce, and more American influence. But even a cursory glance at the history of American foreign policy shows that we have never equally supported every movement for self-determination around the globe, and indeed have willingly allied ourselves with horrible tyrants (even Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong) and at times supported coups and counter-revolutions against democratic movements.

Human Rights: Democracy is nice, some would say, but it’s an American view of the world; what’s really universal and important are the rights of man. There are strains of this thinking on both Right and Left (both of which had differing reasons for celebrating President Ford’s signing of the 1975 Helsinki Accords), although it’s most popular among liberals and progressives: the idea that our foreign policy should be driven by ideals, morals, and the protection of human rights at all times, and that the basic equality of all human beings demands that we be judged equally for failing to protect those rights, no matter whose they are, where they may be, or the situation.

Certainly, respect for human rights is both an end goal and a tool of our foreign policy, just like democracy, and has at some times been more at the forefront of our priorities than at others. But a universal and inflexible moral standard has never been a realistic framework for protecting the nation in a dangerous world. Tradeoffs must be made, and they do not always involve equally protecting every person everywhere, because we lack the power to enforce such a regime in all places at all times. And no realistic assessment of the history of American foreign policy in any period—not even under President Carter, much less presidents Obama or Wilson—shows human rights or morals to have been the overriding value animating our approach to every theater of the world.

Tradeoffs must be made, and they do not always involve equally protecting every person everywhere.

Realism: Others would take the opposite, Kissengerian/Scowcroftian view: that American foreign policy should be based around cold realpolitik, the game of power politics among states without any moral or ideological component. Most adherents of this view will freely admit that this is not how U.S. foreign policy has usually been conducted—an ironic concession for a doctrine that prides what is over what should be.

Realism, in the generic sense of seeing the world as it is and dealing unsentimentally with what must be done, is assuredly a critical element in the foreign policy toolkit. But even as a proscription, realpolitik is an unrealistic policy for the United States. Neither popular support, nor military volunteerism in our all-volunteer military, nor foreign propaganda successes could sustain our foreign policy for long if it was decided and openly admitted that America would pursue a foreign policy wholly devoid of ideals and moral content. Americans want to believe that our country fights for the right, even when our methods and our allies leave us all wanting a cold shower at best, a visit to the confessional at worst.

Stability: A close cousin of realpolitik is the old Westphalian/Metternich idea that stability and a balance of power are the best guarantors of peace, so we should leave intact any existing, sovereign government—no matter how awful to its own people, and even when it doesn’t reciprocate the principle—and stage our international interventions mainly as “peacekeeping” or nation-building efforts to re-establish government where war has intervened.

Of course, a precisely calibrated balance of power was a major part of what gave us the horrors of World War I, and the track record of respecting the sovereignty of tyrants has been neither popular nor successful in our history. Even President Obama, who is perhaps closer to this view than to any other, intervened with an air campaign to help topple the Qaddafi government of Libya.

Homeland Security: Then there’s the view that the first principle of U.S. foreign policy is some combination of protection of the U.S. homeland and avoidance of foreign entanglements. This view has a venerable lineage, going back to Washington’s Farewell Address. Its narrower, more isolationist “Fortress America” version is mostly an accurate description of U.S. foreign policy in the eighteenth century, and the broader Monroe Doctrine view that Americans should act as hegemon in the Western Hemisphere but stay out of the Eastern was more the rule than the exception in the nineteenth century before the Spanish-American War. Also within this family of foreign policy perspectives is the “Jacksonian” approach: that America should wait until it is directly and immediately threatened, then respond with such violence—lasting only so long as to make our point, then going home—that others will think twice before messing with us again. As George Kennan memorably parodied this approach:

I sometimes wonder whether…a democracy is not uncomfortably similar to one of those prehistoric monsters with a body as long as this room and a brain the size of a pin: he lies there in his comfortable primeval mud and pays little attention to his environment; he is slow to wrath—in fact, you practically have to whack his tail off to make him aware that his interests are being disturbed; but, once he grasps this, he lays about him with such blind determination that he not only destroys his adversary but largely wrecks his native habitat.

Dependence on our geographic isolation from the rest of the world made some sense in Washington’s time, but has become progressively less practical since then, from the Quasi-War with France during the John Adams administration to the Barbary Wars under President Jefferson to Commodore Matthew Perry’s opening of Japan in 1853 under the Fillmore Administration. It has no relationship at all with American foreign policy since 1898, and was more or less explicitly jettisoned after World War II when we committed ourselves to NATO, SEATO, the Marshall Plan, and a long-term presence in Europe and the Pacific Rim.

While the principles of this school of foreign policy still have some cautionary lessons to teach us, in an age of rapid and pervasive global travel, deeply interconnected international commerce, of intercontinental ballistic missiles and transnational terrorist organizations, it is simply a relic, albeit one with a strong nostalgic pull.

The most fundamentally unserious approach to American foreign policy is the notion that it should be driven primarily by adherence to ‘international law’ and subject to a web of transnational bodies like the United Nations.

American Economic Interests: There’s a long rhetorical tradition, mainly emanating from progressives and isolationists, of accusing the United States of basing its foreign policy primarily around money, ranging from the Nye Committee’s charge that the United States was lured into World War I to make money for arms merchants to the “blood for oil” chants aimed at the Gulf War and the Iraq War.

Now, there’s nothing illegitimate about considering the prosperity of our own people as an important interest, but as for the notion that great decisions of war and peace are driven mainly by money, it has the disadvantage of the fact that it is essentially a conspiracy theory completely unsupported by evidence. In all the vast foreign policy literature by academics and practitioners alike, you will find nobody who openly argues for this view of American foreign policy except to condemn it. If you talk to any of the many people who have sat in the room when big foreign policy decisions were made, or read their memoirs or contemporaneous correspondence; if you read the documents or the literature; if you listen to talks at think tanks; you will find no sign of anyone thinking that American economic considerations should be treated as an overriding consideration. A school of thought with no advocates has little to teach us.

International Law: The most fundamentally unserious approach to American foreign policy is the notion that it should be driven primarily by adherence to “international law” and subject to a web of multilateral agreements arbitrated by transnational bodies like the United Nations (UN), the World Court, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the World Trade Organization, etc. A species of this viewpoint was John Kerry’s 2004 invocation of a “global test,” by which the use of force is legitimated only by multilateral unanimity.

This point of view, if taken seriously at face value, elevates procedure over the substance of foreign policy. After all, if the legitimacy of a decision flows from its transnational character, than pretty much anything can be justified as “just following orders” from international bodies notwithstanding the fact that they are representatives of governments, not of peoples, often without regard to the size of the population represented by that government or its elected character.

Worse yet, in practice, an international-lawyering approach is never substance-neutral, because appeal to such bodies only becomes a determining factor when it conflicts with policies that advance U.S. interests; because historically collective organizations like the UN have been used largely as a counterweight to the United States and its allies; and because the countries that tend to do so historically are far less supportive than we are of the considerations discussed above, like democracy, human rights, and U.S. national security.

The First Principle: Triage

So, if each of these venerable ideas is inadequate to explain American foreign policy as a historic matter, or to justify its application in the future, what’s the answer? I submit that the true first principle, in a word, is triage.

Triage is in origin a medical term: the sorting of patients for treatment by the urgency of their injuries or illnesses, both in terms of severity and immediacy. Another way of putting it is priorities. Some threats—and opportunities—must get priority because they are more time-sensitive, but a proper triage-based foreign policy is not simply one that is driven from crisis to crisis without a plan. Far from it. True triage also requires tending the long-term illnesses before they become fatal.

True triage also requires tending the long-term illnesses before they become fatal.

The size and gravity of a foreign policy challenge is always a consideration; because the threat of international Soviet Communism was the primary threat to the United States, its interests, and its allies during the Cold War, the need to thwart the Soviet threat frequently took precedence over other important values, such as promotion of democracy or human rights or avoidance of foreign entanglements. But it also meant focusing on particular fronts that were contested with the Soviet Union (Vietnam, El Salvador, Afghanistan, Angola) over those that were peripheral (Lebanon, Iraq, South Africa, the Philippines). A similar calculus drove our alliance with the Soviets in World War II: Stalin and Soviet Communism were obviously a threat to us, but in December 1941 a lesser threat than both the Japanese Empire that had attacked American soil and overrun half of China and its ally, the German Reich that had conquered most of Europe and was bearing down on our longstanding ally Great Britain.

Choosing priorities on which to focus a nation’s power—whether military “hard power” or diplomatic, economic, or cultural “soft power”—is essential to avoid dissipating that power across too many fronts at once. This is the lesson both Napoleon and Hitler famously learned, to their grief: you never want to fight all your enemies at once. Even a superpower—even the world’s sole superpower—cannot do everything at the same time.  It must pick its battles, and decide which fronts demand attention, which require some minimal effort to hold the status quo, and which can be safely left alone even at the cost of some lost ground. Just as triage in the medical context sometimes requires unsentimentally categorizing some patients as so severely sick or wounded that they cannot recover, strategic triage means recognizing that some causes are lost to the point where our interests or ideals simply cannot realistically be pursued.

Why Priorities Aren’t Evidence of Hypocrisy

Critics on the Left, and sometimes on the more anti-interventionist Right, tend to regard this process of setting priorities as evidence of hypocrisy or, worse, of a pretextual foreign policy driven by secret, conspiratorial agendas. An enormous proportion of the criticism aimed at U.S. foreign policy, in fact, rests on the notion that we can’t possibly believe in any of our stated principles (i.e., any of the foreign policy principles stated above) if we do not follow precisely the same hierarchy of principles in every situation.

Foreign policy decisions don’t get made in isolation as an academic exercise in theories of containment or preemptive warfare or democracy promotion.

Thus, for example, critics argued in 2002-04 that the United States shouldn’t be at war in Iraq because there were also threats in Iran and North Korea—and, when more aggressive action against Iran or North Korea was on the table, searched for other threats to compare them to. Or critics compared the human-rights abuses of the Soviet Union to those of apartheid-era South Africa, ignoring the fact that not only was the Soviet Union much larger, its system was being actively exported to scores of nations around the world, while South Africa’s system was alone and isolated.

What is missing in this kind of criticism is a contextual understanding that foreign policy decisions don’t get made in isolation as an academic exercise in theories of containment or preemptive warfare or democracy promotion. They are made when deciding how to deploy scarce resources over a broad array of theaters. It’s not hypocrisy to have a foreign policy driven by a varied set of principles at a general level, but that applies those principles only after first assessing the relative threats and opportunities around the globe.

That setting of priorities has been the predominant theme of U.S. foreign policy for most of the past century, as lesser interests have been repeatedly subsumed into the battles against fascism, Communism, and Islamist terror. Charges of hypocrisy or theoretical inconsistency or incoherence have invariably proceeded from a failure to give adequate consideration to those top-level priority decisions.

But in the world of 2015-17, it is the top-level priority that is again up for grabs: while the Islamist threat is far from vanquished (indeed, it has been resurgent the past four years), its form and setting is quite different from where it was 15 years ago, while the clash of interests between the United States and mostly non-ideological powers like Russia and China has only grown. That is the real debate that needs to be had in the next election cycle.

The Other Half of Triage: Momentum

The other half of the “triage” equation, besides the identification of threats and opportunities, is the recognition of what is possible. That includes the crucial strategic concept of momentum. Not everything that can be done today will still be do-able tomorrow. The coalition that beat Hitler did not exist in the 1930s, and would not have existed if we’d let him finish off Stalin or Winston Churchill first; it had to be pressed in 1941 after he invaded Russia but before he could defeat either. The Kaiser saw a window of opportunity to beat the Entente Powers after Russia dropped out and before the U.S. Army was ready; he correctly perceived that this was Germany’s only chance and, when it failed, the war was lost.

Not everything that can be done today will still be do-able tomorrow.

The many coalitions that failed to beat Napoleon suffered from poor timing; but the leader of the Sixth Coalition, the Russian Tsar Alexander I, understood that once the combined armies of Russia, Prussia, and Austria were in the field together after Napoleon’s failed invasion of Russia had raised them against him, they must press on all the way from Moscow to Paris to finish the job. If the Russians went home, they would be too late to help if Napoleon rose again—as indeed they were too late to arrive at Waterloo.

The dynamic of prioritization and, in particular, momentum, does much to explain the story of U.S. policy towards Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq from the early 1980s through the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Saddam Hussein’s regime represented a multifaceted threat and challenge to U.S. security interests, but it is a fair enough argument that Saddam was not a materially greater threat than Iran or, arguably, Syria, Saudi Arabia, or Pakistan (each in their own ways). But a final showdown with any of those states lacked momentum, which by 2002-03, had crested in our confrontation with Saddam.

The Momentum Pointed Towards War with Iraq

U.S. overtures towards warmer relations with Saddam’s regime began in 1983, when the relatively low priority of maintaining a U.S. presence in Lebanon spurred an effort by the Reagan administration (through its regional envoy, Don Rumsfeld) to seek some common ground with Saddam against the common enemy of Iran (with whom Iraq was then at war) and its Syrian and Hezbollah proxies.

When Saddam invaded Kuwait in 1990, he not only moved back up the priority list, but a series of external events converged to create momentum to do something about him.

But a rapprochement was neither a high priority nor supported by enough momentum from other states to make a real alliance with a nasty dictator worthwhile. Relations chilled again by the late 1980s, again due to reasons having little to do directly with the nature of Saddam’s regime (including his use of chemical weapons against his own people in 1988): the Ayatollah Khomeini died, the Iran-Iraq War ended, the United States got involved in ill-considered arms sales to Iranian “moderates,” and consequently both our opposition to Iran and Saddam’s usefulness to that opposition slid down the priority list.

When Saddam invaded Kuwait in 1990, by contrast, he not only moved back up the priority list, but a series of external events converged to create momentum to do something about him. The Cold War ended, leaving lots of excess Western military capacity and a desire in many Western capitals to make a demonstration of a “new world order” in which rogue states would be dealt with collectively. That made it suddenly easy, as it had been unthinkable a few years earlier, to assemble a large multinational coalition against Saddam. But by the nature of its membership, the coalition’s momentum would dissipate if it sought to depose him rather than just restore the status quo. So the war that ensued was driven less by principle than by priorities and momentum.

The story of the following decade was one of dissipated momentum to take urgent action against Iraq, again for reasons other than principle or the nature of the regime, and even in spite of outrageous provocations like hiring terrorists to blow up George H.W. Bush. This was abetted by Saddam’s surreptitious corruption of the UN “Oil-for-Food” program to by friends in key capitals who counselled against confrontation.

September 11 didn’t change anyone’s assessment of the direct threat presented by Saddam, but it forced a more general reassessment of priorities and regional grand strategy.

September 11 didn’t change anyone’s assessment of the direct threat presented by Saddam, either—but it forced a more general reassessment of priorities and regional grand strategy, which in turn created transitory momentum to rebuild a broad multinational coalition to deal with him once and for all. Similar momentum did not exist at the time for Iran, Syria or other rogue states, as they lacked the factors that supported it in the case of Iraq: a prior coalition war; a lengthy, costly and visibly crumbling effort at containment without an observable improvement in the regime’s behavior; Iraq’s violation of numerous U.N. resolutions that had been conditions for the prior cease-fire; and, at least compared to Iran or Pakistan, geography that suggested a greater possibility for a swiftly successful war to depose the regime.

None of these, however, were primarily assessments of principle, but of practicality, timing, and opportunity (although the vindication of UN resolutions was arguably a critical principle). So, fittingly, the long-term judgment of history about the war to depose Saddam Hussein will not revolve around the principle of preemption, the motives of individual political figures in the United States, the United Kingdom, or Australia, the degree of support in international institutions, or the rhetoric used to justify the war, but rather on the question of whether the architects of the war correctly determined what U.S. priorities should be and what was practical to expect in accomplishing them.

Timing and Momentum Explain the End of Apartheid

Timing and momentum, more than abstract principle, also explains the endgame for apartheid in South Africa. In the mid-1980s, there was a general consensus in the United States and Europe opposing South African apartheid and desiring its ultimate dismantling, but many of the leading political figures (like President Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher) opposed more aggressive efforts to pressure South Africa so long as it was engaged in a war against Soviet-backed Angola and Communist Cuba in Namibia.

The external situation changed, and that affected its place in the hierarchy of priorities.

But by 1987-88, the end of Soviet subsidies made the Cuban war effort untenable, the facts on the ground (i.e., the spring 1988 battle of Cuito Cuanavale) prepared both sides to make peace, and a Reagan-Gorbachev superpower summit paved the way to separate the conflict in southern Africa from the rapidly-unwinding Cold War. With the December 1988 signing of the Tripartite Accords in New York ending the Namibia war against that backdrop, the major barriers to assembling international momentum to turn the screws on the white apartheid regime were gone. The regime, seeing the writing on the wall, soon released Nelson Mandela from prison and allowed the free elections that ended the apartheid era. At no time in this process did American or European ideas or principles about South Africa change significantly. The external situation changed, and that affected its place in the hierarchy of priorities. Similar dynamics can be seen in U.S. policy in the 1986-2000 period in Panama, the Philippines, Serbia, and Somalia.

Moving to the current time, the inability of the Obama administration to make a triage-based case for its initiatives in Iran, Cuba, Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt in recent years goes a long way to explaining the difficulty the administration has had in selling its policies to the public or even to normally compliant members of its own party in Congress.

The efforts at détente and engagement with Iran and Cuba are superficially compared to Nixon’s opening of Communist China in 1972, but that parallel ignores the triage and prioritization inherent in Nixon’s move: his goal was a great-power alignment with China against the main enemy, the USSR, as well as Chinese acquiescence in a peaceful resolution of a long U.S. war on its doorstep (Vietnam, a piece of the Nixon-to-China strategy that didn’t pan out so well and one with unfortunate parallels to the post-2013 situation in Iraq). By contrast, there is no common cause that unites us against a greater foe with the Castro regime, and none the administration will publicly admit that unites us with the Iranian mullahs.

It is impossible to identify a common thread to Obama’s foreign policy anyone will admit to pursuing.

The search for a common set of priorities remains elusive. In Libya, the Obama administration’s bombing campaign helped topple a traditional Arab nationalist dictator (one the Bush administration had defanged) in favor of a popular uprising with strong Islamist factions. In Egypt, the administration was late and hesitant in supporting a similar popular, Islamist uprising against another Arab nationalist dictatorship. In Syria, the administration threatened a bombing campaign against a third Arab nationalist tyranny that was locked in a war against ISIS, after reassuring the public that it did not intend to topple it.

In Iraq, by contrast, it has used aerial bombardment against ISIS. The ideological inconsistency of these decisions could be justified if they represented a triage-based strategy of pursuing a common set of strategic priorities, but it is impossible to identify a common thread that anyone will admit to pursuing.

Balancing Our Competing Foreign Policy Values

American foreign policy since the nation’s birth has always been called upon to balance, rather than choose among, the competing values it pursues: homeland and economic security, democracy and human rights and liberties, liberation and stability, international law, and a balance of power.

But the first, guiding principle in most of our national decisions has been, and should continue to be, triage: identifying the largest and most pressing threats, assessing what is feasible in responding to them, and ordering all our other value judgments accordingly. The foreign policy and national security and defense policy debates of the next year and a half should get past the slogans and the theories and seek to test, above all, how the candidates and the parties make those crucial assessments.

The Left’s #WarOnNerds Shows They’re Getting Desperate [The Federalist]

Tragedies are great clarifiers, and if the shooting in Garland, Texas made anything clear, it was that free speech unapologetically expressed is a dangerous thing in our modern censorious era.

Yet, perversely, the craven terrorists who struck that day seem to have sent bullets not just through their poor targets’ heads, but through the wall of silence that surrounds the issue of suppressed speech generally. Even now, new waves of dissenters are rising to challenge the prevailing Left-wing orthodoxy on Islam, some in the most unlikely of places. Those who have been standing for free speech all along, meanwhile, are emboldened and ready to fight, rather than nibble around the edges of political correctness.

Needless to say, there is a commonality between those who seek to make apology for the terrorists in the Garland case, and those who have been trying to suppress speech in other contexts. Among others, Kurt Schlichter makes that case most vividly when he writes:

Those miserable losers in Garland weren’t just a couple of carcasses. Shot down in the street by a free American who was not intimidated, who was not afraid, who absolutely, positively was not going to back down even when outnumbered and outgunned, their dead bodies are a symbol. They are a symbol of our resolve, proof that we will not surrender, we will not submit, and we will not allow our God-given rights to be stolen from us by anyone, not Seventh Century savages, not Gucci-wearing liberal narcissists, and not twisted social justice warriorettes taking out on the rest of humanity their lingering disappointment that no boy wanted to be seen with them at the prom.

If nothing else, similar instances of overreach by the self-appointed speech police have shown a similar galvanized backlash. The Charlie Hebdo shooting prompted an outcry of support for free speech on the part of most European leaders, and the creation of the excellent hashtag #JeSuisCharlie.

The University of Virginia rape case, which was designed to silence critics of the hysteria over “rape culture,” has instead spawned a lawsuit by UVA itself against the “wanton journalist who was more concerned with writing an article that fulfilled her preconceived narrative about the victimization of women on American college campuses and a malicious publisher who was more concerned about selling magazines to boost the economic bottom line for its faltering magazine.”

Finally, the ridiculous yet still blackhearted bomb threat thrown at a recent #Gamergate event here in Washington ended up only raising eyebrows and questions about who were really the violent terrorists in that particular controversy. Speaking of that event, astute observers cannot have failed to notice that one of its most high-profile suspects has been blaming victims in the similar cases cited above, as well (to say nothing of making some truly bizarre statements).

#WarOnNerds: A Dress Rehearsal for War on Free Speech

But there is a deeper commonality between these facts, which is that the current fight over free speech seems practically to be a larger-scale version of the still-ongoing (and also still failing) #WarOnNerds by left-wing activists, which has seen skirmishes in #Gamergate and the Sad Puppies movement at Worldcon.

What perplexes in the case of the #WarOnNerds is why the Left would choose that particular constituency as a target.

In fact, you could almost call the #WarOnNerds a dress rehearsal for the war on speech. Yet unlike the Garland and Charlie Hebdo shooting, what perplexes in the case of the #WarOnNerds is why the Left would choose that particular constituency as a target upon which to rehearse such attacks.

There is no obvious answer. Indeed, the obvious facts seem to fly in the face of explanatory power, in just the same way it does when one sees an unrepentantly patriarchal religion with more than a few troubling inclinations toward medievalism being defended by the Left.

Feminists, for instance, have spearheaded much of the sneering and hysterical censoriousness where popular nerd pastimes like comic books and video games are concerned. All this despite the fact that most nerds are hardly the obvious examples of “rapey” masculinity that, say, UVA frat boys might be (though similar accusations are slander in their case as well).

Nerds Seem a Random Target at First

In fact, as the ever excellent liberal author Scott Alexander notes, nerds are the absolute psychological polar opposites of rapists. That a movement designed to protect women from the most ungallant members of society would start with a group about whom the stereotype is that they run around talking and acting like unshaven medieval knights is odd, to say the least.

Say what you like about pickup artistry, but at least it’s about winning enthusiastic sexual consent from its targets.

True, there is a degree to which this species of man can be found in the sphere of pickup artistry, as well (yet another feminist bête noir), but there, too, it’s not immediately obvious why they’d start here. Say what you like about pickup artistry, but at least it’s about winning enthusiastic sexual consent from its targets, which presupposes the necessity of consent in the first place. Not exactly something you’d expect from unapologetic rapists.

Dig beneath the surface, however, and you find two very compelling explanations for the #WarOnNerds. The short version is that it is simply a manifestation of cynical, bullying cowardice combined with emotivist, envious resentment. The long version? Read on.

The Nerd Parade

In the visceral and terrifying musical “Parade,” written about the Leo Frank lynching, a yellow journalist enthusiastically describes how he will play on the fears of his audience to drum up readership by attacking Frank, or the “little Jew from Brooklyn with a college education.”

So give him fangs, give him horns
Give him scaly, hairy paws
Have him drooling out the corner of his mouth
He’s a master of disguise
Check those bugged out creepy eyes
Hell, that fella’s here to rape the whole damn South!

Sam Biddle, know thyself.

In all seriousness, for anyone with any knowledge of what happens when a previously despised minority attains unprecedented economic, social, and cultural power, it shouldn’t have been a question of whether nerds would come under attack, but rather when they would. In a bizarre way, then, the fact that nerds came in for such a drubbing is evidence of their mainstream success.

The video-games industry is now more profitable than Hollywood.

There is ample evidence of that success. Start with economic power. In America’s recession-era economy, the only industry that seemed not to take a dent were the coding wizards in Silicon Valley. STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields have become widely perceived as a gateway to a successful career. In Washington, Google’s power combined with the nascent power of Internet activism can kill legislation that fails to advance the interests of an open Internet. The video-games industry is now more profitable than Hollywood (remember that, it’ll be important later).

Speaking of Hollywood, let’s talk culture for a bit. Only an idiot would fail to notice that Tinseltown’s greatest hits have been sourced from comic books and fantasy novels. “The Avengers,” “The Dark Knight Trilogy,” “Game of Thrones,” “The Flash,” “Daredevil?” These are not titles that would have been taken seriously, much less greenlit, in an era prior to our current geek chic one. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, previously an obscure if decorated astronomer, has now become one of the Internet’s favorite sources of cultural wisdom. In short, as actress Felicia Day’s gleeful nerd anthem, “I’m the One That’s Cool,” points out:

The latest trend has hit its peak
They say that geek’s becoming chic […]
To all the asshat jocks who beat me up in school
Now I’m the one that’s cool
I’m the one that’s cool
To all the prom queen bitches thinking they still rule
Now I’m the one that’s cool
I’m the one that’s cool

However, as with all rapid cultural ascensions, the group ascending has to displace someone. And in the case of the rise of nerd culture, the losers have been as easy to spot as their politics are to predict.

Nerds Have Bulldozed the Culture Monopoly

Remember when I said to remember that the video games industry is outpacing Hollywood? Well, funny story—Hollywood isn’t doing so well these days. The movie industry is dying as television replaces it, and conventional television is being forced to adjust its business model to the realities of Netflix and streaming.

Nerds have bulldozed Hollywood’s monopoly on culture, and rendered it all but completely dependent on them.

Previously unbeatable lobbies like the Motion Picture Association of America had to watch their prize piece of industry-saving, Internet-censoring legislation, the Stop Online Piracy Act, get savaged by Google, while the music industry has had to resign itself to making far less money than it did in the days of overpriced CDs now that iTunes and other music streaming services have destroyed the “buy a whole CD for one song” model.

The almost godlike mystique of Hollywood starlets is no longer possible to maintain when cell-phone hackers can expose their more compromising selfies to the world. Nerds have bulldozed Hollywood’s monopoly on culture, and rendered it all but completely dependent on them for what little revenue stream their fetish for innovation and efficiency will allow Hollywood’s outmoded business models.

It’s not just Hollywood. Academia has come under assault, too, with some of the most powerful voices for reform of higher education coming from the tech sector. California venture capitalist Peter Thiel has been probably the most outspoken assailant of academia, and has even taken to literally paying promising STEM students not to attend college and instead giving them money to get into business. Unless you’re an elite school with a well-established and deep-pocketed alumni network, or a tech school, or both (as in the case of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology), this is going to cut into your capacity to attract alumni who might actually make money.

Most tech workers and STEM people still have college degrees, but that probably produces even more resentment among their classmates who hawk Pumpkin Spice lattes at Starbucks.

Furthermore, the crisis of student debt has cast serious doubt as to whether the modern university, with its endless studies departments, safe spaces, and speech codes, can provide any actual value to students in exchange for its exorbitant tuition rates. Add in the fact that STEM-oriented gadflies are some of the most vocal and successful critics of squishy postmodernism in the humanities, and you can see where traditional academe would be threatened by the rise of that group’s status. Most tech workers and STEM people still have college degrees, of course, but that probably produces even more resentment among their classmates who hawk Pumpkin Spice lattes at Starbucks.

In short, the rise of Silicon Valley, geek chic, and focus on STEM has seen an attendant decline in status and economic viability for America’s most inefficient, politically correct, conventionally left-wing sectors. The hipsters are dead; long live the nerds.

Culture Shift Is an Old Story

We’ve seen stories like this before, hence my earlier citation of Leo Frank. The rise of Jews through pioneering use of finance produced nearly identical levels of resentment and frustration on the part of the fallen elites forced to adjust to the norms of their previously mocked and despised social inferiors.

The rise of Jews through pioneering use of finance produced nearly identical levels of resentment and frustration on the part of the fallen elites.

That backlash produced similar results. Harvard University instituted unofficial quotas on the number of Jews admitted to protect its WASP pedigree, for instance, while in uglier developments, anti-Semitic demagogues like Thomas E. Watson became voices of populist, leftist loathing for big-city bankers, which they rarely bothered to distinguish from Jews generally.

Just in case anyone doubts it was leftist loathing, Adolf Hitler himself used his anti-Semitism as a means to prove that he was a committed socialist and opposed what he called “Materialism and Mammonism.” On the Marxist side, the socialist fixation on finance as the ultimate form of evil, parasitic capitalism, in contrast with noble workers who made money with their hands rather than their brains had more than a few troubling overtones, as Marx’s essay “On the Jewish Question” quite clearly showed.

However, unlike early anti-Semitism, which cast the Jews as subversive outsiders bringing barbarism with them, anti-nerd sentiment is rarely so open about its bullying nature (although it does happen).

What is interesting in the fight over the #WarOnNerds is that it is, at least on the surface, a fight between self-proclaimed outcasts, at least if you buy the “hipster versus nerd” framing described above. One sees this in the constant sneers by feminists about nerdy men having the gall to claim to be oppressed, when they’re so obviously privileged whiners trying to derail a conversation. Scott Alexander at SlateStarCodex, meanwhile, sums up the nerd reaction pretty well when he writes:

Absent the one-dimensional view [of oppression], it would be perfectly reasonable to say something like ‘You feel pain? I have felt pain before too. I’m sorry about your pain. It would be incredibly crass to try to quantify exactly how your pain compares to my pain and lord it over you if mine was worse. Instead I will try to help you with your pain, just as I hope that you will help me with mine.’

Given the one-dimensional view, any admission that other people suffer is a threat to the legitimacy of one’s own suffering. Horrible people will deny and actively mock the pain of others, but even decent people will only be able to accept the pain if they also mention in an aside that it doesn’t count as the correct sort of pain to matter in the moral calculus and certainly isn’t even in the same ballpark as their own.

Quite apart from the difference in style, these two responses—mocking defensiveness in one case, and wounded puzzlement at said defensiveness—suggest that there is a real difference in how the two groups understand what’s being discussed. This plainly isn’t like cases where, say, blacks claim to be oppressed and certain types of whites fire back that no, it’s really they who are oppressed by black claims of oppression. The ideologies that make up political correctness predate the rise of nerd culture and tech supremacy by at least 20 years, and nerds have been facing being stuffed into lockers since long before Amanda Marcotte or Jessica Valenti were even born.

Infighting Between Nerds and Hipsters

So what gives when two different groups, both of which feel oppressed by the dominant culture, turn on each other? Especially when they previously were politically united (as was clearly the case during the first Obama campaign)? The idea that one side simply decided to opportunistically attack the other (as #Gamergate’s defenders, for instance, sometimes allege of their feminist opponents) surely tells part of the story, but it hardly explains why they’d focus on each other to the exclusion of other supposed oppressors.

This kind of infighting occurs when two allies begin to suspect that they may not have exactly the same interests at heart.

So why would this happen? Well, in most political movements, this kind of infighting occurs when two allies begin to suspect that they may not have exactly the same interests at heart. Libertarians and social conservatives can attest to this feeling all too well. Certainly, within groups who feel oppressed, this is likely to prompt a visceral sense of betrayal—a traumatic realization that their presumed “ally” was really on the other team all along. That they were infiltrators, not friends. You can see this kind of mutual accusation being slung back and forth between, on the one hand, people who accuse nerds of being fair-weather Progressives, and on the other, the sorts of people who talk about “fake geek girls” infiltrating their hobbies.

But with this accusation comes a second impulse: the impulse to deny that the other group was ever oppressed to begin with. Here we do have a useful past case study—the case of blacks and Jews turning on each other after the Civil Rights movement.

Hard though this may seem to believe, there was a time when blacks and Jews were unified completely on the subject of civil rights. In fact, Jews founded many of the most famous civil-rights organizations and were some of the most ardent opponents of segregation. Even Abigail Thernstrom (formerly Abigail Mann), now a critic of civil-rights legislation, still argues that the movement was necessary and proper during the 1960’s. Norman Podhoretz even fingered civil rights as one defining struggle that kept Jews in the hands of the Democratic Party in his book “Why Are Jews Liberals?”

Speaking of Podhoretz, he also happens to be responsible for possibly the most enlightening essay on why Jews and blacks ended up turning on each other in the aftermath of that movement: The gripping “My Negro Problem — And Ours.” And how does this milestone begin?

Two ideas puzzled me deeply as a child growing up in Brooklyn during the 1930’s in what today would be called an integrated neighborhood. One of them was that all Jews were rich; the other was that all Negroes were persecuted.

Yes, that’s right, it opens with the question of whether another assumedly oppressed group was really oppressed. Whence this skepticism? Podhoretz explains:

And so for a long time I was puzzled to think that Jews were supposed to be rich when the only Jews I knew were poor, and that Negroes were supposed to be persecuted when it was the Negroes who were doing the only persecuting I knew about—and doing it, moreover, to me.

Podhoretz goes on to describe being beaten, robbed, and bullied by black children growing up, and how this inspired a fierce loathing of the same people which even as an adult he could not shake. At the same time, Podhoretz admits to sympathy with the black experience, which he explains mostly with reference to the work of the African-American scholar and essayist James Baldwin:

There is no question that the psychologists are right about what the Negro represents symbolically to the white man. For me as a child the life lived on the other side of the playground and down the block on Ralph Avenue seemed the very embodiment of the values of the street—free, independent, reckless, brave, masculine, erotic. I put the word “erotic” last, though it is usually stressed above all others, because in fact it came last, in consciousness as in importance.[…]

This is what I saw and envied and feared in the Negro: this is what finally made him faceless to me, though some of it, of course, was actually there. (The psychologists also tell us that the alien group which becomes the object of a projection will tend to respond by trying to live up to what is expected of them.) But what, on his side, did the Negro see in me that made me faceless to him? Did he envy me my lunches of spinach-and-potatoes and my itchy woolen caps and my prudent behavior in the face of authority, as I envied him his noon-time candy bars and his bare head in winter and his magnificent rebelliousness? Did those lunches and caps spell for him the prospect of power and riches in the future? Did they mean that there were possibilities open to me that were denied to him? Very likely they did. But if so, one also supposes that he feared the impulses within himself toward submission to authority no less powerfully than I feared the impulses in myself toward defiance. If I represented the jailer to him, it was not because I was oppressing him or keeping him down: it was because I symbolized for him the dangerous and probably pointless temptation toward greater repression, just as he symbolized for me the equally perilous tug toward greater freedom. I personally was to be rewarded for this repression with a new and better life in the future, but how many of my friends paid an even higher price and were given only gall in return.

So we come to an interesting conclusion, then: Groups that both have a narrative of oppression will turn on each other not just because they sense a disparity of interests, but because they sense that the other has experienced and reacted to their oppression so differently that they have next to nothing in common. They are talking past each other. They may not even understand how what the other sees as oppression really counts, or think that it is so offset by other benefits as to not matter.

I Was a Loser Before It Was Cool

This is unquestionably at least part of what is going on in the #WarOnNerds. Consider that the hipster community is most potently identified with academia and Hollywood, and that the nerd community is most potently identified with STEM fields and Silicon Valley. So how do people in these different communities talk about oppression? Well, start with Hollywood: Consider these lyrics from the Glee original song “Loser Like Me”:

Yeah, you may think that I’m a zero
But, hey, everyone you wanna be
Probably started off like me
You may say that I’m a freakshow (I don’t care)
But, hey, give me just a little time
I bet you’re gonna change your mind[…]
Just go ahead and hate on me and run your mouth
So everyone can hear
Hit me with the worst you got and knock me down
Baby, I don’t care
Keep it up and soon enough you’ll figure out
You wanna be
You wanna be
A loser like me
A loser like me

Combine that with these lyrics from the above-quoted “I’m the One That’s Cool”:

Role reversal must be a total drag
But there’s no point, no point for me to humblebrag
I appreciate you for being cruel
I’m burning bright thanks to your rejection fuel
Got my in-jokes you won’t get
Like Honey Badger, Troll Face and Nyan Cat
So now your ballin’ parties seem so dumb
You can Evite me, and I’ll say yes, but I won’t really come

Got my comics
Got my games
All the things you thought were lame
Got my cosplay
Fanfic too
Got you pegged
STFU

By this point, you’ve probably got a pretty good picture of what oppression is in the minds of the hipster side: It’s a pose. It equals being ahead of your time. It’s what it takes to be a trendsetter, and someday everyone will see how awesome you were all along. And, indeed, this is consistent with the hipster obsession with novelty and contrariness. Just hate them all you want, but they have cast-iron certainty that one day they will be defining your taste.

Contrast this with the writing of people like Scott Aaronson or internet entertainer Maddox on the subject of nerd identity. First, Aaronson:

Here’s the thing: I spent my formative years—basically, from the age of 12 until my mid-20s—feeling not ‘entitled,’ not ‘privileged,’ but terrified. I was terrified that one of my female classmates would somehow find out that I sexually desired her, and that the instant she did, I would be scorned, laughed at, called a creep and a weirdo, maybe even expelled from school or sent to prison. You can call that my personal psychological problem if you want, but it was strongly reinforced by everything I picked up from my environment: to take one example, the sexual-assault prevention workshops we had to attend regularly as undergrads, with their endless lists of all the forms of human interaction that ‘might be’ sexual harassment or assault, and their refusal, ever, to specify anything that definitely wouldn’t be sexual harassment or assault. I left each of those workshops with enough fresh paranoia and self-hatred to last me through another year.[…]

Because of my fears—my fears of being ‘outed’ as a nerdy heterosexual male, and therefore as a potential creep or sex criminal—I had constant suicidal thoughts. As Bertrand Russell wrote of his own adolescence: ‘I was put off from suicide only by the desire to learn more mathematics.’

And here’s the much less-genteel Maddox:

If you have to tell people you’re a nerd, chances are you’re not. Nerds don’t have to advertise their status. We know. Being a nerd is a byproduct of losing yourself in what you do, often at the expense of friends, family and hygiene. Until or unless you’ve paid your dues, you haven’t earned the right—or reason—to call yourself a nerd. Being a nerd isn’t graceful or glorious. It’s a life born out of obsessive dedication to a craft, discipline or collecting some stupid shit that only you care about.

If you think geeks are so sexy or cool, bang one. Go to any university and find a computer or physics lab at 2AM and take your pick. Until then, go commit cultural fraud someplace else, and take your phony ‘I f–king love science’ group with you.

To say that the understanding of oppression in these respective excerpts is different is a gross understatement. It is nigh irreconcilable. One group sees their oppression as an artistic inspiration that drives them to be a taste-shaper, and the other sees it as the lonely, traumatizing price of being who they are.

Why Nerds Are More Chill than Hipsters

Now, imagine the scripts were flipped. Imagine the group that thought oppression was a necessary byproduct of its existence, and had learned not to care, ended up being radically successful to the point of bringing even the coolest industries and communities to their knees. There would be shock and pleasant surprise, yes, but given that these people already taught themselves not to care what others thought, the novelty of being cool would probably not matter to them anymore than being disliked did. They’d move on and keep obsessing over their craft.

The people making this accusation are making it because it’s what they would have done in the nerds’ place.

But imagine that at the same time, the group that expected to define taste and culture by virtue of their previous oppression found themselves instead being forced to make less money and cater to the tastes of a group that not only never sought out the bleeding edge of coolness, but never cared about the concept to begin with. Their response would be white-hot, entitled rage. The nerds must have cheated! They must have been privileged all along! They must have been oppressing us! They are oppressing us! In fact, this is what you see from the numerous angry responses to nerd culture.

But as Podhoretz noted in his essay, projection cannot help but rear its ugly head, and if the ranting about “entitlement” by nerd culture’s critics is anything to go by, then that projection is well underway. To treat a community of socially oblivious strivers as if they are really entitled monsters with a belief that they have the right to dictate to everyone else how to behave and whom to sleep with is a hard sell to make, until you realize that the people making this accusation are making it because it’s what they would have done in the nerds’ place.

Pardon them their failure of imagination, but do not pardon the results. In the so-called “Oppression Olympics,” the Left and its hipster faithful at Hollywood parties and in faculty lounges have unequivocally won, insofar as their star is on the wane while the nerds’ star is burning ever more brightly. Yet, desperately, they clutch to the one thing they can still use to force compliance on the part of their enemies: the culture. Which, ironically, is the one thing the nerds never cared about.

For now, suffice to say that the nerds have woken up. Now that they see that the people accustomed to ascending to the ranks of popularity will tear them down in order to get their prize, they do care, and they are fighting. And, as I have noted elsewhere, they are winning.

Is The Catholic Church Drifting Into Eco-Spirituality? [The Federalist]

Is Catholicism on a slide into nature mysticism? It is a discomforting question for a Catholic to ask, but it bears scrutiny. Messianic environmentalism is about to assume the status of dogma in Pope Francis’ looming encyclical. Once discarding our incandescent light bulbs and biking to work become a religious obligation, it will be too late to ask the question.

The temptation to grand ideological transformations to reclaim an imagined pristine environment is not new. Francis is not the first pope to carry a green torch. John Paul II celebrated the 1990 World Day of Peace with this:

Faced with the widespread destruction of the environment, people everywhere are coming to understand that we cannot continue to use the goods of the earth as we have in the past. . . . a new ecological awareness is beginning to emerge which . . . ought to be encouraged to develop into concrete programs and initiatives.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) took the cue. Six months later, they began drafting a 16-page pastoral letter proclaiming an environmental crisis and terming it a moral crisis. “Renewing the Earth” emerged from conference in 1991, demanding urgent action “to ensure the survival of a healthy planet.” A blend of bien pensant political opinion and moral fervor, its tenor calls to mind those heady leaflets issued by the October Revolution.

The New Faith requires “a new solidarity” against ecological crisis. The masses are called upon to renounce the mailed fist of development and join the heroic struggle for “the planetary common good.” (The masses to whom the bishops address themselves are those bourgeois ones, like themselves, who read Gerard Manley Hopkins. “God’s Grandeur” is quoted in full.)

When Global Warming Really Does Become Religion

In the words of atmospheric physicist John Reid, anthropogenic global warming is “the central tenet of this new belief system in much the same way that the Resurrection is the central tenet of Christianity. . . . My skepticism about AGW arises from the fact that, as a physicist who has worked in closely related areas, I know how poor the underlying science is. In effect, the scientific method has been abandoned in this field.”

If creation and Creator are one, nature itself is sacred. Any animist could say the same.

But our shepherds know better: AGW is incontrovertible. A decadent West has imperiled the planet. The bishops repudiate “voracious consumerism of the developed world.” They reject material growth as a model of development: “Unrestrained economic growth is the not the answer to improving the lives of the poor.”

If not economic growth, then what? Answer: “an exceptional call to conversion” that will lead Christians “to find God dwelling in created things.” Straddling the orphic and the theological, the bishops hasten to add that God also surpasses all things. But a canker has dropped on the rose. The addendum does nothing to blunt the mystical assertion that God dwells in nature. And if creation and Creator are one, nature itself is sacred. Any animist could say the same.

Does Loving Nature Fit Catholic Doctrine?

There are risks to this seep of eco-spirituality into the Church. No one denies man’s role as steward of the world he inhabits. Assertions that Western man is oblivious or hostile to that role is a straw man. And all suggestion that the developed world is indifferent to the poor is a slur on centuries of effort to raise men above subsistence and the cruelties of the natural world. Nature is to be respected. But loved? Nature kills. We can love nature only to the degree of our control of it, our protection from it.

Nature is to be respected. But loved?

Where do proclamations of nature love lead except into the eco-mysticism that installs a shrine to Gaia in Manhattan’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine? Contemporary nature piety, couched in religious phrases, is the springboard for re-sacralizing the natural world. It reverses Christianity’s historic—and life-enhancing—de-divinization of nature. It is neo-paganism by the back door.

Francis enjoins the world to protect “God’s plan as inscribed in nature.” Lovely as that sounds, what does it mean? What is the plan, including as it must mortality and all its dreaded agents? Episcopal rhapsodies about the “beauty and richness of nature [that] raises our minds and hearts to God” are reckless indulgences in the romantic myth of a once-upon-a-time harmony between pre-industrial man and his environment—one without natural disaster, disease, disfigurement, or rapacity.

From Parishioners to Activists

In 1993, the USCCB followed its pastoral letter with an Environmental Justice Program. Its stated intention was to “motivate Catholics to a deeper reverence and respect for God’s creation” and to encourage them to address environmental problems. In other words, to become activists.

Benedict plastered the Paul VI Audience Hall with 1,000 solar panels and agreed to a carbon off-set scheme that, had it materialized, would have crowned the Vatican the world’s first carbon-neutral state.

And they have. The Catholic Climate Movement is a network of more than 100 organizations scattered across the globe laboring to “respond to climate change from a Catholic perspective.” Its stated goal is to “keep the global temperature increase below 1.5 degrees Celsius (relative to pre-industrial levels.)”

Among member groups based in the United States are: Catholic Charities, Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Climate Covenant, Pax Christi International, Franciscan Action Network, Franciscan International (NY/ Geneva), Sisters of Charity of New York, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, CatholicEcology.net, Ignatian Solidarity Network, Ignatian Volunteer Corps, Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, and the National Catholic Education Association. The list goes on.

Benedict XVI furthered John Paul’s endorsement of a push for eco-programs. Daniel Stone, writing in National Geographic in 2013, stated that one lasting legacy of Benedict XVI, dubbed the “Green Pope,” was how he steered the global debate over climate change and “made environmental awareness a key tenant of his tenure.” Benedict plastered the Paul VI Audience Hall with 1,000 solar panels and agreed to a carbon off-set scheme that, had it materialized, would have crowned the Vatican the world’s first carbon-neutral state.

Following papal lead, “environmental stewardship” has become a staple on the list of advocacy topics of national dioceses around the world. The USCCB designed a toolkit for missionizing Catholic college and university students on sustainability. The subject is too urgent to be left to local efforts. In “Caritas in Veritate” (2009), Benedict signaled his hope for a “world political authority.” This global political body—a Brussels on steroids—would dictate procedures governing multiple global issues, with particular attention to environmental ones.

Beware the ‘Settled Science’

Now comes Francis, advised by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences: “On climate change, there is a clear, definitive, and ineluctable ethical imperative to act.”

The science is neither clear nor definitive, and the Vatican appears to have forgotten the Lysenko affair. That was the twentieth century’s most notorious instance of the scandal—and tragedy—of politically correct science. By stacking the deck in favor of a manufactured “consensus” over the still-contested issue of man-made global warming, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences risks comparison with the ideologically driven postures of the Academy of Agricultural Sciences in the Soviet Union during the Stalin era.

Marxism thought itself to have progressed from Utopia to science. Environmentalism makes a corresponding claim for itself. Both are scaffolds for authoritarian controls and for subordinating science to the advocacy needs of politics.

Let me leave the last word with Robert B. Laughlin, Nobel Prize-winning Stanford University physicist and former research scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory: “Please remain calm: The Earth will heal itself. Climate is beyond our power to control. . . . Earth doesn’t care about governments or their legislation. You can’t find much actual global warming in present-day weather observations. Climate change is a matter of geologic time, something that the earth routinely does on its own without asking anyone’s permission or explaining itself.”

Why This Wyoming College Decided To Reject Federal Money [The Federalist]

American higher education is discombobulated. College graduates fret about mounting student loan debt. Parents worry about their ability to pay ever-escalating costs. And the president of the United States aggravates these worries by bloviating about free community college, as if increasing federal involvement in education should comfort the public. No wonder those of us who lead colleges scoff at his plan to implement a federal “grading system” of our institutions.

Not all of this controversy is limited to finances, however. Federal officials have used the government’s bully pulpit and bloated purse to foist upon colleges a questionable, expanded interpretation of Title IX, the federal law governing gender equity in college programs. With “federal compliance officers” now trolling campuses, colleges have ceded the formation of their students to bureaucrats with dubious agendas.

The worst is yet to come. This intensifying problem with Title IX enforcement provides a glimpse of the future. Although the government has not yet tied the proverbial strings between Title IX compliance to federal student loan and grant programs—governed by Title IV—the writing is on the wall.

For that reason, at Wyoming Catholic College (WCC), we have chosen to forgo federal student loan and grant programs. As a relatively new college, we only recently earned the requisite accreditation status to be eligible for those Title IV funds. Although participating is enticing, the twin problems in higher education—the government’s social-engineering agenda and its creation of an artificial market of student loans—convinced us otherwise.

Like a handful of other colleges, most notably Hillsdale College (Michigan) and Grove City College (Pennsylvania), we’ve taken a cue from William Buckley: looking at the landscape of American higher education, we’ve elected to “stand athwart history, yelling ‘Stop!’”

By providing a closer look at the factors of our decision, I hope more Americans can understand the structural problems in American higher education. So doing will also answer a question that many have asked: Why has a small liberal arts college in the least-populated state in the Union captured such attention?

The Allure of Federal Funds

The short answer to that question is that our college has every reason to accept federal funds, at least from a financial standpoint, yet those benefits are offset by government overreach. Knowing a little about WCC underscores the significance of our decision, as accepting federal funds would certainly have benefited our institution.

By eschewing the modern, conveyor-belt, mass-market education system for a highly personalized, seminar-style teaching approach, our expenses are considerable.

One of the newest colleges in the country, Wyoming Catholic was founded in 2005. Our liberal-arts program requires all students to take the same track of courses, all of which rest on the Great Books. The result is an educational community that knows and loves tradition: even outside class, students, faculty, and staff commonly gather to engage in the “Great Conversation,” discussing how they, as modern stewards of tradition, can sustain culture.

You might even say we’re inspired by Alexis de Tocqueville’s observation from the 1820s: “a few excellent universities would be worth more than a multitude of bad colleges where superfluous studies that are done badly prevent necessary studies from being done well.”

As an institution committed to teaching Truth—not some postmodern poppycock about each individual’s reality—you might say we’re predisposed against any institution that propagates untruth. Perhaps that’s what The New York Times meant by calling us “cowboy Catholics.”

Cowboy or not, the trail leading to federal money would have been a golden one for Wyoming Catholic. By eschewing the modern, conveyor-belt, mass-market education system for a highly personalized, seminar-style teaching approach, our expenses are considerable, especially for a small college. Although this model is ideal for our students, it leaves little wiggle room financially. For that reason, in previous discussions on the topic, the college’s board of directors assumed that the school would accept federal funds.

Deciding to forgo participation in these programs was no mere academic exercise.

Even for our conservatively minded board, administration, and faculty, this was sensible. Like most colleges, Wyoming Catholic depends heavily on philanthropy; tuition revenue simply does not cover the costs, even of a frugal operation. Considering that participation in Title IV programs would have netted the college approximately $700,000 in the upcoming school year—that’s about 15 percent of our annual budget—deciding to forgo participation in these programs was no mere academic exercise.

Moreover, because the college plans to grow from 120 to approximately 400 students, having federal student loans and grants would be ideal during the recruitment process. With the total annual cost of attendance, including room and board, at $28,000 per year, any financial aid at the college’s disposal is helpful.

The Current Federal Funding Model Is Not Sustainable

In addition to our concerns about federal funding undermining our commitment to Catholic Church teaching, we have significant doubts about the sustainability of the government-controlled student-loan market, commonly referred to as a “bubble” by close observers. As economist Steven Cruz observed:

Since the phased reduction in student loan rates began in 2008, national student loan debt has increased despite lower rates. Today, student loan debt comprises nearly 36 percent of total non-housing debt, increasing nearly 241% since 2004 to a whopping $990 billion in 2013. A system that links student loan rates to market rates would give students an accurate portrait of the cost of education, helping them make a more informed decision on whether and how much to invest in their education.

Contrast the reality nationally with the example of Wyoming Catholic College. From a student perspective, the college’s internally funded loans and need-based grants are competitive with the government’s. Furthermore, the college caps the total amount of student indebtedness over four years at $19,000; almost all our students owe even less than that, with our average student indebtedness at $15,500— far less than the national average of $28,400.

It is the institution—not our students—which bears the brunt of forgoing federal money each year.

WCC’s stance on limiting student indebtedness enhances the value of the education we offer. That fact is underscored by our four-year graduation rate of 86 percent, nearly triple the national average. Even without federal funds, WCC students have access to one of the best values in higher education today.

In fact, it is the institution—not our students—which bears the brunt of forgoing federal money each year. By abstaining from Title IV programs, the college does not receive all of its tuition revenue in a given year, instead waiting for its graduates to repay loans. Thankfully, our student-loan default is one of the lowest in the country—barely one-tenth of the national average of 10 percent. Nonetheless, we have had to ramp up our fundraising efforts to offset the $700,000 we would have otherwise received from the U.S. Department of Education.

Those efforts seem worthwhile, considering the costs of doing business with the government.

The Danger of Federal Funds

Doing business with the federal government is increasingly risky. The financial benefits are clear—just ask any of the private businesses that were awarded any of the $460 billion in government contracts last year. But those financial benefits rest on a house of cards: as a percentage of gross domestic product, our national debt is the highest it’s been since the post-World War II recession.

Doing business with the federal government is increasingly risky.

Moreover, the federal government has increased the “strings” attached to that money. President Obama’s Executive Order 13672, issued July 21, 2014, requires federal contractors to pledge nondiscrimination based on the categories of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” With the government’s creation of these special classes of people, business owners who hold differing beliefs have had to pursue business elsewhere.

This attitude has begun to seep into the nonprofit world, where our tax-exempt status is crucial, especially considering the philanthropic income we must solicit each year. For example, consider the rare moment of transparency by a government official regarding the current administration’s agenda. Last month, in oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court for the Obergefell v. Hodges case on same-sex marriage, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli revealed the game-plan: religious institutions need to comply with government group-think, or lose their tax-exempt status. What’s worse is that any institution that opposes same-sex marriage is seen as being equivalent to racists, for if same-sex marriage is a civil right, then anyone opposing that civil right is a Bible-thumping, knuckle-dragging troglodyte.

The Future of Higher Education

This dilemma is profoundly apparent in higher education, where two strands of the problem are now interwoven. One strand is the financial issue of the artificial market; the other strand is the advocacy, by the government itself, of a social-engineering agenda.

Given the stakes for the American republic, we at Wyoming Catholic College want our decision to cause others to examine the structural problems in American higher education, namely the student finance component, the role of the government, and the advocacy of the agenda.

Whether President Obama solicits our input in his “national conversation” on higher education, we will speak up, on behalf of all college students, people of faith, and those who think the federal government has become too powerful and too inefficient with our tax money. In short, Ronald Reagan’s exhortation in 1981 definitely applies to higher education: “Government is not the solution; it is the problem.”

Planned Parenthood’s CEO Is Right: We Need To Talk About Abortion [The Federalist]

For the first time in my life, I agree with Cecile Richards. As a longtime, dedicated pro-life activist, I never thought I would be able to say I agree with one of the most prominent abortion advocates, but I guess we were bound to agree on something at some stage.

The headline of a recent Time article by Richards, CEO of the Planned Parenthood, reads: “We need to talk – really talk – about abortion. America has an urgent need for authentic public dialogue on abortion.” Richards went on to discuss various women’s abortion stories and used it as an opportunity to challenge the American people “to talk about abortion.”

I completely agree, but it needs to be an “authentic public dialogue” and all points of view need to be represented, especially the various perspectives of women. For years, “feminists” like Richards, Gloria Steinam, Hillary Clinton, and others completely avoided the word “abortion” and instead focused on euphemisms like “choice,” “women’s rights,” and “reproductive justice.” Richards’ piece mentions abortion a total of 18 times, which is a dramatic change from the usual rhetoric from Richards and her feminist cohorts.

It’s the Left’s avoidance of the “authentic” abortion dialogue that has brought us to where we are today and not the other way around. And even when the Left does talk about abortion, it’s always completely one-sided and always in favor.

There’s Not Just One View about Abortion

In Richards’ article, she points to examples in popular culture that she feels are honest representations of women’s abortion stories. But her examples are completely one-sided.

The only film and television portrayals of abortion Richards mentions are the ones that favor abortion and promote her billion-dollar abortion business, Planned Parenthood.

Jemima Kirke, best known for her role in the HBO series “Girls,” discussed the trials and tribulations of her abortion, and how she hoped her children wouldn’t know “the luggage of being a woman.” Richards also pointed to the few films and television shows that have portrayed women’s abortion stories: “For years there have been few honest portrayals about abortion in film and television.” It’s interesting that the only film and television portrayals of abortion that she mentions are the ones that favor abortion and those that promote Richards’ billion-dollar abortion business, Planned Parenthood.

Richards fails to mention films like “Knocked Up,” “Juno,” “Bella,” “Away We Go,” and most recently, “Gimme Shelter.” Each of these movies show real-life situations where women were pregnant in less-than-ideal circumstances, but rose above the challenges they faced and chose life for their children. In these films, abortion is not seen as empowering to women, but rather, the fullness of empowerment arrives when women give life to another.

Women are so powerful that they are able to actually bring life into existence. Talk about women’s empowerment.

Nobody Really Wants to Have an Abortion

Abortion advocates and organizations like Planned Parenthood try to normalize abortion. “Everybody’s doing it” and “it’s not a big deal.” “Safe, legal, and rare” are no longer in their vocabulary.

No matter what side of the political aisle you are on, we can all agree that abortion is a difficult decision that few actually want to go through.

They love movies like “Obvious Child,” the first-ever “abortion romantic comedy”, because it tries to turn abortion into something normal and funny, and just a part of life. But there’s nothing funny about abortion. This is disingenuous to women everywhere who have suffered lifelong consequences from their abortion decision.

No matter what side of the political aisle you are on, we can all agree that abortion is a difficult decision that few actually want to go through. “16 and Pregnant” stars Catelynn Lowell and Tyler Baltierra gave their daughter up for adoption and are now strong pro-life advocates, who promote life in all circumstances. Another “16 and pregnant” star, Jamie McKay, speaks openly about the abortion she chose “out of fear” and regrets.

Richards wrote in her article about singer Nicki Minaj’s abortion, but failed to mention that Minaj has been quoted as saying that the abortion “has haunted me all my life.” Then there’s singer Toni Braxton, who recently revealed in her memoir “Unbreak My Heart” that her abortion filled her with guilt and remorse. Or Sharon Osbourne, who recently opened up, saying that her abortion “was horrible.”

If we’re going to have a real discussion about abortion, these are the real stories of real women that need to be told. Many women who have had abortions talk about the regret and pain that they’ve struggled with ever since their abortion. Rachel’s Vineyard hosts thousands of women at their retreats each year who have had abortions and are trying to find healing for the pain and regret that they feel.

Yes, Richards, we need to talk about abortion. But if we’re going to talk about abortion, we need to have an “authentic public dialogue,” where both sides of the experience are represented.

Get Into ‘The Mindy Project’ In Time For Season 4 [The Federalist]

Hooray for Hulu’s deciding to pick up season four of “The Mindy Project”! Fox made a disappointing call in canceling the show earlier this month, but at least they’re doing fans a solid, offering all season three episodes online in advance of the transition. Hallowed Hulu, meanwhile, has saved us all from having a hole in our weekly entertainment schedule, now that they’ve ordered 26 new episodes of the hilarious sitcom.

Wait—you haven’t been watching? That’s part of the problem. Each spring over the last three years, “The Mindy Project” has been in ratings limbo. The last two years, Fox decided to renew. But this year, Fox executives gave up. According to the Los Angeles Times, that’s due to its already petite audience’s shrinkage: “It averaged about 2.3 million followers, down from the second season’s 3.4 million average.”

The show has been fundamentally appealing. Yet somehow it has never quite found the audience it should have, which includes everyone who appreciates quality rom-coms and anyone who likes laughing.

An American Twist on Bridget Jones

An American twist on Bridget Jones, Mindy is a successful 30-something New York City professional, always looks polished and is often glamorous. But she’s a bit of a mess in the romance department. Still, she’s always trying. We respect and relate to that.

She’s a bit of a mess in the romance department. Still, she’s always trying.

Mindy spent the first two seasons on a seemingly endless romantic quest. She’s a relatable and likable character, even as we notice her various flaws. So, we root for her, as she stumbles and bumbles her way through relationships with guys who initially seem great and later reveal themselves to be lame, or worse.

Kaling is a huge rom-com fan, and you can see that’s influenced the show. For example, Dr. Mindy Lahiri and her OB-GYN colleague-turned-boyfriend Dr. Danny Castellano finally get together in an episode that evokes “An Affair to Remember’s” Empire State building focus. And when both doctors are hospitalized for meningitis, Danny visits Mindy’s room to cuddle and read “Bridget Jones’ Diary” to her, British accent and all. This, of course, is a sop to Mindy; grumpy divorcee Danny would never read Bridget independently.

‘The Mindy Project’ Makes Me Laugh

Perhaps more importantly, this is the only show on TV in a very long time that’s made me constantly laugh out loud. You actually felt good after watching it, like everything had lightened up a bit.

Other comedies on TV seem geared toward men and a frequently juvenile male sensibility.

Other comedies on TV seem geared toward men and a frequently juvenile male sensibility; I just don’t find them funny. “The Mindy Project,” by contrast, never seemed embarrassed to appeal directly to women’s sensibilities. The show cast eye candy like Tommy Dewey and Chris Messina (who plays Danny) as romantic leads, rather than sexual conquests.

The show has also successfully mined the comedy gold inherent in attending an ex’s wedding (a favorite rom-com setting). Not once but twice, Mindy has ill-advisedly attended the weddings of her ex-boyfriends and caused a scene. The writing team has also capitalized on Messina’s dancing talent. Part of his backstory is “Diamond Dan,” the successful stripper alter ego that funded Danny’s medical education.

The Show Could Use More Character Stability

If the show has any blemish, it’s been the writers’ decision to constantly alter the characters and plot. For example, Mindy’s best friend, Gwen, who was so important initially quickly disappeared. This season, we lost the engaging Dr. Peter Prentice to a life in Texas.

I felt so attached to Mindy’s character, I was willing to forgive the huge lurches in character and story.

The third season’s surprise pregnancy story arc—Mindy realizes she’s carrying Danny’s baby while doing a medical fellowship at Stanford University—also felt like a Hail Mary pass. In the same way Mindy seemingly dangled the Stanford fellowship to nudge Danny to commit, the writers introduced a mini Lahiri-Castellano, hoping viewers would commit.

The “Mindy” team needn’t try so hard; rushing Mindy and Danny from early dating to pregnancy felt forced. It didn’t feel true to the characters and, demographically speaking, it wasn’t terribly believable. Danny has long been been portrayed as a serious Catholic, so his cavalier attitude about an unwed pregnancy struck a false note. Danny isn’t Hollywood; he’s classic New York Italian.

All of this might have prompted channel changing with another show. But I felt so attached to Mindy’s character, I was willing to forgive the huge lurches in character and story.

In an era when Hollywood constantly cranks out subpar romantic comedies with predictable, bland plots, it’s refreshing to watch a show that takes the genre seriously. The audience benefits because Kaling, the force behind the show and its lead actress, is also a rom-com fan. Her final product is not only watchable, but loyalty-inspiring. The writing is clever and the acting engaging.

We root for Mindy and Danny. We want them to overcome their various personal issues and find happiness together. Here’s hoping they find their happy ending, while continuing to make us laugh, during season four.

An Interview in the Washington Post [Whatever]

About the deal, and other things. It’s actually pretty lengthy and meaty, which is good, because I am traveling — yet again! — today, this time to North Carolina to ConCarolinas.


gameraboy: Kewpie mayonnaise, 1969. by v.valenti At... [WIL WHEATON dot TUMBLR]



gameraboy:

Kewpie mayonnaise, 1969. by v.valenti

At long last, photographic proof that mayonnaise comes from the Devil’s cock.

kellysue: fairestcat: Kit: Captain–Carol: Yes, Lieutenant?Kit:... [WIL WHEATON dot TUMBLR]





kellysue:

fairestcat:

Kit: Captain–
Carol: Yes, Lieutenant?
Kit: Thank you for letting us stay with you while mom gets her job stuff worked out.
Carol: It’s my pleasure, LT.
Kit: Captain–
Carol: Shh!
Kit: One more question.
Carol: One more.
Kit: Can I have a playdate with him?
Tony: What’s up, trouble?
Carol: Bed, young lady.
Kit: Good night, Iron Man!
Tony: ‘Night, kid.

– From Captain Marvel v6 #1 written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, art by David Lopez, coloured by Lee Loughridge

I still want those pajama bottoms. 

Hey, welovefinetees – can you make that happen? 

kateordie: deductivereasonable: I had a dude explain what... [WIL WHEATON dot TUMBLR]















kateordie:

deductivereasonable:

I had a dude explain what rickrolls were to me for ten fucking minutes when the conversation started with me acknowledging that I knew what they were

Sometimes good things happen in this world

“When I was 14 and stupid.” BOOM.

prochoiceamerica: Yes, he actually said this.  I can’t believe... [WIL WHEATON dot TUMBLR]





prochoiceamerica:

Yes, he actually said this. 

I can’t believe this jackass can hold elected office in 2015.

rlyspaced: wnslw: I want this on a shirt i want to get this... [WIL WHEATON dot TUMBLR]



rlyspaced:

wnslw:

I want this on a shirt

i want to get this on a shirt then wear it to school

Radio Call Saves SOTA Climber Following Fall [American Radio Relay League | Ham Radio Association and Resources]

A Littleton, Colorado, radio amateur and mountaineer was happy to have his hand-held transceiver along on May 17 after he slipped and fell from an icy ledge in Berthoud Pass while snowshoeing. Summits On The Air (SOTA) enthusiast Brad Byland, WA6MM, said he’s been climbing and mountaineering for many years now and never before came this close to “a possible life-ending disaster.”

“I’m doing fine...

Hams Invited to Test APRS on Duchifat-1 CubeSat [American Radio Relay League | Ham Radio Association and Resources]

The Herzliya Science Center is inviting stations with the ability to send compressed APRS packets to take part in testing the Duchifat-1 CubeSat, launched almost 1 year ago by high school students in Israel. The satellite will collect packets worldwide and downlink them from time to time over the Herzliya Science Center’s ground station.

Participants must register in advance to have their packet...

Sarah Brightman Spaceflight Postponed [American Radio Relay League | Ham Radio Association and Resources]

British singer Sarah Brightman has announced that she is postponing plans to go into space as a paying guest aboard the International Space Station. She was set to launch on the September Soyuz TMA-18M mission with Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen, KG5GCZ, and Russian cosmonaut Sergei Volkov, RU3DIS.

There had been some speculation that Brightman might use Amateur Radio during her ISS stay; she...

Fourteen US Schools/Groups on List to Host Ham Contacts with Space Station [American Radio Relay League | Ham Radio Association and Resources]

Fourteen of the schools and organizations that submitted proposals to host Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) contacts are moving into the final stage of the selection process. Schools or organizations ultimately selected would host scheduled Amateur Radio contacts with an ISS crew member during the first half of 2016.

“This is a significant step in ARISS’s continuing effor...

MIT Hillel Rabbi and Head Chaplain Defend Colleague With Terror Fundraising Past [Blazing Cat Fur]

MIT

On May 11th, we released a mini-documentary on Breitbart.com chronicling how Suheil Laher, MIT’s Muslim Chaplain for sixteen years, raised money for Al Qaeda affiliates around the world, incited Boston Muslims against Jews and Christians, and called on all Muslims to join in a violent Jihad against non-Muslims. Despite these serious charges, two religious leaders at MIT, a Jew and a Christian, are defending Laher.

Human Cockroach George Galloway announces he will run for London mayor [Blazing Cat Fur]

George Galloway Human Cockroach

Controversial former MP George Galloway is to seek election as the next mayor of London.

The Respect Party leader, who has threatened a legal challenge over his general election defeat, declared his bid on Twitter.

Mr Galloway posted a picture of himself sitting on an unmade bed with his young son and the slogan “Dad, you’ve got to do this. I’ve got your back!”.
“I’m standing for Mayor of London 2016,” he added.

He told BBC London 94.9 he would merge the Met Police and the City of London Police if he became mayor.

On 7 May, Mr Galloway lost the Bradford West Commons seat he took from Labour, his former party, in a 2012 by-election.

h/t nightrider

Qatari Sheikha Moza at Oxford University: Islamophobia ‘has devalued Muslims’ lives’ [Blazing Cat Fur]

unnamed-2

H H Sheikha Moza bint Nasser and architect Dame Zaha Hadid outside the Investcorp Building, a new extension of the Middle East Centre at St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford.

H H Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson, Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), yesterday delivered a keynote speech at the opening of Middle East Centre at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford.

She spoke about the current relationship between the Middle East and Europe and the growing “fear of real, living Muslims” in Europe and contrasted it with Europe’s curiosity and “respect for the vast and rich architectural, philosophical and historical traditions” of Islam.

She said “Muslim-phobia” had devalued Muslims’ lives in Europe and America and highlighted the double standard in applying principles of free speech, human rights and dignity.

“Why do Muslims lives matter less than the lives of others? If they matter at all”…


My, your Highness, if things are so bad in the UK, Muslims should seriously reconsider settling there.  

Oddly enough, they show no signs of preferring to stay home.

As for the ‘Islamophobia,’ does it ever occur to you that the treatment of non-Muslims by Muslims just might play a role here?  How well are non-Muslims treated in Qatar?  

What Ahmadi Spokesman Qasim Rashid Doesn’t Want You to Know About Islam [Blazing Cat Fur]

Taqiyya

Ahmadi Muslim spokesman Qasim Rashid is a one-man cottage industry of deception and hypocrisy, churning out article after article purporting to prove that the Muslims who are killing, enslaving, and terrorizing people all over the world in the name of Islam are really misinterpreting their faith.

Rashid believes that his minuscule group – the Ahmadiyya constitute no more than three percent of Muslims worldwide, if that, and is mercilessly persecuted as heretical in Pakistan and Indonesia – represent the true, benign, peaceful Islam.

Rashid’s latest deceptive piece in Salon is especially cynical. Not only does he claim that Islam is something other than what its most devout adherents claim it is every day, but instead of trying to show those devout Muslims where they’re wrong, he points the finger at those non-Muslims who have dared to tell the truths he’s trying so desperately to obscure.

Rashid claims – linking to his earlier exercises in deception – that Islam champions free speech and secular governance.

Rashid is thus claiming that the overwhelming majority of Muslims worldwide, including the world’s foremost Muslim leaders, have no idea what their religion is all about. If Islam champions free speech, why has the 57-government Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the largest voting bloc at the United Nations, endeavored for years to compel the UN and Western governments to enact “hate speech” laws that would effectively criminalize criticism of Islam? Why has no Muslim government, and not even any Muslim cleric, denounced that endeavor?…

New Species Discovered in the Greater Mekong Area [Blazing Cat Fur]

What the hell, nature?!

In Thailand, a new species of wasp (Ampulex dementor) was named after the soul-sucking dementors from the Harry Potter books due to its grisly hunting skills.

The wasp’s venom effectively turns its prey into zombies before they are then eaten alive.

“[The dementor wasp] hunts cockroaches, injecting a venom into the mass of neurons on its prey’s belly that turns the roach into a passive zombie,” the WWF report said.

“Wasp venom blocks receptors of the neurotransmitter octopamine, which is involved in the initiation of spontaneous movement.

“With this blocked, the cockroach is still capable of movement, but is unable to direct its own body.

“Once the cockroach has lost control, the wasp drags its stupefied prey by the antennae to a safe shelter to devour it.” …

In neighbouring Vietnam, a stick insect that measures 54 centimetres long was found less than one kilometre from a village in the north of the country.

Two new orchid species were discovered in Bangkok’s famous Chatuchak Market — being traded before they had been scientifically identified.

And a crocodile newt species found in Myanmar is already in demand in the international pet trade, with two of the newts being found in pet stores in Europe.

The list, dominated by plants, includes 23 reptiles, 16 amphibians, nine fish, and one mammal.

The Greater Mekong region consists of Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos and the south-western Chinese province of Yunnan.

The region forms part of one of the five most threatened biodiversity hotspots in the world, the WWF said.

 

 

Russian Opposition Leader Falls Ill [Blazing Cat Fur]

A coincidence, I’m sure:

The First City Hospital said 33-year-old Vladimir Kara-Murza remained in grave condition Thursday, two days after he was admitted. The Interfax news agency, citing the hospital’s chief doctor, said he appeared to be suffering from pancreatitis and double pneumonia.

His father, a prominent journalist also named Vladimir, told Interfax that doctors haven’t ruled out foul play, but there was no evidence that his son had been deliberately poisoned.

Kara-Murza was a close associate of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was assassinated in February, and works with a civic organization founded by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former oil tycoon and Kremlin opponent.

 

Study says girls seek sisterhood – not just marriage – in IS [Blazing Cat Fur]

maxresdefault

LONDON (AP) — The notion that young women are traveling to Syria solely to become “jihadi brides” is simplistic and hinders efforts to prevent other girls from being radicalized, new research suggests.

Young women are joining the so-called Islamic State group for many reasons, including anger over the perceived persecution of Muslims and the wish to belong to a sisterhood with similar beliefs, according to a report released Thursday by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue and the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College London.

Western societies must understand these varied motivations if they hope to prevent more women from joining the militants and potentially returning to their home nations to commit acts of terrorism, argue the report’s authors, Erin Saltman and Melanie Smith. Thinking of them as all being brainwashed, groomed, innocent girls hinders understanding of the threat they pose.

“They’re not being taken seriously,” Smith said. “It’s inherently dangerous to label people with the same brush.”

The researchers suggest that while the term jihadi bride may be catchy from a media point of view, the young women who are traveling to Syria see themselves as something more: pilgrims embarking on a mission to develop the region into an Islamic utopia…

Pentagon mulls improving Iraqi troop training after fall of Ramadi – and that won’t work [Blazing Cat Fur]

MECCA SAUDI ARABIA - JANUARY 15: Saudi Special Forces attend a military show January 15, 2005 in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Around two million Muslim pilgrims from around the world are expected to converge on the cities of Mecca and Medina for the holy Muslim day of Al-Hajj or Bilgirame Day.  (Photo by Abid Katib/Getty Images)

Photo from a Jordanian site, dated 2011, entitled: Arab countries, wake up and reform your armies

Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Thursday Pentagon officials have begun to examine how the U.S. military could better equip and train Iraqi troops after the recent fall of the Iraqi city of Ramadi to Islamic State insurgents.

Carter told reporters on his plane to Asia that he had convened a group of defense policy officials and military officers from U.S. Central Command and the Pentagon’s Joint Staff to look at how “we can enhance, hasten” the mission to train and equip Iraqi forces.

The initial meeting took place on Tuesday before Carter departed on a trip to Asia.

“The events of recent weeks there (in Iraq) have highlighted the central importance of having a capable ground partner and that’s what the purpose of our train-and-equip program is. So we are looking,” Carter said...


This is an oldie but bears repeating in view of current circumstances: (1999) Why Arabs Lose Wars:

Arabic-speaking armies have been generally ineffective in the modern era.

Egyptian regular forces did poorly against Yemeni irregulars in the 1960s. Syrians could only impose their will in Lebanon during the mid-1970s by the use of overwhelming weaponry and numbers. Iraqis showed ineptness against an Iranian military ripped apart by revolutionary turmoil in the 1980s and could not win a three-decades-long war against the Kurds. The Arab military performance on both sides of the 1990 Kuwait war was mediocre.4 And the Arabs have done poorly in nearly all the military confrontations with Israel.

Why this unimpressive record? There are many factors—economic, ideological, technical—but perhaps the most important has to do with culture and certain societal attributes which inhibit Arabs from producing an effective military force…

…Including culture in strategic assessments has a poor legacy, for it has often been spun from an ugly brew of ignorance, wishful thinking, and mythology…

….I offer some assessments of the role of culture in the military training of Arabic-speaking officers.

Information as power: In every society information is a means of making a living or wielding power, but Arabs husband information and hold it especially tightly. U.S. trainers have often been surprised over the years by the fact that information provided to key personnel does not get much further than them…

Education Problems: Training tends to be unimaginative, cut and dried, and not challenging. Because the Arab educational system is predicated on rote memorization, officers have a phenomenal ability to commit vast amounts of knowledge to memory…

Officers vs. Soldiers: Arab junior officers are well trained on the technical aspects of their weapons and tactical know-how, but not in leadership, a subject given little attention. For example, as General Sa‘d ash-Shazli, the Egyptian chief of staff, noted in his assessment of the army he inherited prior to the 1973 war, they were not trained to seize the initiative or volunteer original concepts or new ideas. Indeed, leadership may be the greatest weakness of Arab training systems…

Decision-making and Responsibility: Decisions are made and delivered from on high, with very little lateral communication. This leads to a highly centralized system, with authority hardly ever delegated. Rarely does an officer make a critical decision on his own; instead, he prefers the safe course of being identified as industrious, intelligent, loyal—and compliant. Bringing attention to oneself as an innovator or someone prone to make unilateral decisions is a recipe for trouble. As in civilian life, conformism is the overwhelming societal norm; the nail that stands up gets hammered down…

Combined Arms Operations: A lack of cooperation is most apparent in the failure of all Arab armies to succeed at combined arms operations…

Security and Paranoia: Arab regimes classify virtually everything vaguely military…The obsession with security can reach ludicrous lengths.

Prior to the 1973 war, Sadat was surprised to find that within two weeks of the date he had ordered the armed forces be ready for war, his minister of war, General Muhammad Sadiq, had failed to inform his immediate staff of the order.

Should a war, Sadat wondered, be kept secret from the very people expected to fight it?…

Conclusion: It would be difficult to exaggerate the cultural gulf separating American and Arab military cultures. In every significant area, American military advisors find students who enthusiastically take in their lessons and then resolutely fail to apply them. The culture they return to—the culture of their own armies in their own countries—defeats the intentions with which they took leave of their American instructors…

…Change is unlikely to come until it occurs in the larger Arab political culture… Until Arab politics begin to change at fundamental levels, Arab armies, whatever the courage or proficiency of individual officers and men, are unlikely to acquire the range of qualities which modern fighting forces require for success on the battlefield.

For these qualities depend on inculcating respect, trust, and openness among the members of the armed forces at all levels, and this is the marching music of modern warfare that Arab armies, no matter how much they emulate the corresponding steps, do not want to hear.

Other evaluations: (2002) Dirty Little Secrets: Why Arabs Lose Wars

(2008) 1967 and memory

(2011) Murphy’s Law: Why Arabs Need Their Foreign Mercenaries

Wirathu: The Buddhist Monk the Media Hates [Blazing Cat Fur]

Time has made up its mind about him

Time has made up its mind about him

…But the exterior of the monastery is gruesome, coated with propaganda posters depicting violence he claims has been perpetrated by the Rohingya, Burma’s Muslim ethnic minority: collapsed temples and blood-streaked bodies.

“These pictures are here to protect our religion and our national interest,” the monk calmly explained to a BBC reporter in a 2013 documentary. “If we do not protect our own people we will become weak, and we will face more mass killings of this kind when they grow to outnumber us.”

“Muslims are only well behaved when they are weak,” he adds, contemplating another poster. “When they are strong they are like a wolf or a jackal, in large packs they hunt down other animals.” …

“You can be full of kindness and love, but you cannot sleep next to a mad dog,” he said of Muslims at a 2013 sermon reported by the New York Times.

ISIS ‘destroys’ famous lion god statue in captured Syrian city of Palmyra [Blazing Cat Fur]

image

Militants fighting for the Islamic State have reportedly destroyed a famous statue of a lion in the captured city of Palmyra – despite promising locals they would not obliterate the ancient city.

Following their capture of Palmyra last Thursday, ISIS militants are understood to have won the support of much of the local population by promising not to destroy the city’s famous monuments.

But it appears that promise was too much for the jihadis to keep, with eyewitnesses claiming they destruction of millenia-old Statues and buildings is already very much under way, with the most significant loss so far being the celebrated Lion of Al-Lat, which dates back to the first century AD…


The Daily Mail is wrong: IS said they would not destroy the ruins, but they would destroy the statues.

"For Mike" May 28, 2015 [Comedy Factory from CBC Radio]

A very special podcast for our friend Mike O'Brien.

Ex-New York governor George Pataki enters crowded 2016 Republican race [Americas – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Former New York Governor George Pataki on Thursday entered the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, joining a crowded field of candidates vying to retake the White House for their party.

Nebraska scraps death penalty despite governor's veto [Americas – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Nebraska became the first Republican-dominated state in more than 40 years to abolish capital punishment as legislators overrode the governor’s veto of a bill repealing the death penalty.

US military accidentally ships live anthrax to nine states, South Korea [Americas – France 24 - International News 24/7]

The US military mistakenly sent live anthrax bacteria to laboratories in nine US states and a US air base in South Korea, after apparently failing to properly inactivate the bacteria last year, US officials said on Wednesday.

Malaysia says 139 bodies found in migrant graves [Asia/Pacific – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Malaysia said Thursday it believes 139 people are buried in marked graves at remote detention camps used by people-smugglers on the Thai border, with each wrapped in white cloth in Muslim tradition.

Taliban militants killed after hours-long siege on Kabul guesthouse [Asia/Pacific – France 24 - International News 24/7]

An hours-long gun battle with Taliban militants in the diplomatic district of Kabul ended early on Wednesday with the four insurgents killed, a government minister said, reporting no civilian or military casualties.

Blatter says FIFA needs to change, refuses to resign [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

FIFA President Sepp Blatter on Thursday said the world football body had to earn back people’s trust following the arrest of top officials, but ignored calls to step down over a massive corruption scandal.

Head of al Qaeda’s Syria branch plays ‘good jihadist’ for TV [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Wearing a checkered shirt, his head and shoulders enveloped by a black shawl, one of the world’s most reclusive jihadist emirs sought to convince TV audiences Wednesday that he was that elusive oxymoron: a good jihadist.

Ex-New York governor George Pataki enters crowded 2016 Republican race [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Former New York Governor George Pataki on Thursday entered the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, joining a crowded field of candidates vying to retake the White House for their party.

Williams survives French Open scare, men’s favourites play it cool [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Top-seeded Serena Williams survived a fright against German Anna-Lena Friedsam at the French Open on Thursday, while Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray all easily reached the tournament's third round.

Former Sarkozy treasurer Woerth acquitted of manipulation in Bettencourt case [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

A French court has acquitted a former ally of Nicolas Sarkozy on charges of swindling millions of euros from France's richest woman, L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, by taking advantage of her weak mental state.

Video: Nigerians struggle with fuel shortage as Buhari sworn in [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

The armed extremist group Boko Haram does not top the list of concerns of ordinary Nigerians. Rather, the country's recurring fuel shortages are on everyone's mind, as a new president prepares to be sworn in Friday.

Britain's Cameron tours Europe to push for EU reform [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

British Prime Minister David Cameron embarked on a two-day tour of European capitals on Thursday to win support for his European Union reform drive that aims to reclaim some powers from Brussels.

Tunisian authorities arrest Moroccan suspect in Bardo museum attack [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Tunisian authorities have arrested a second Moroccan suspect in connection with a deadly attack in March on the Bardo National Museum in Tunis, the interior ministry said on Thursday.

Malaysia says 139 bodies found in migrant graves [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Malaysia said Thursday it believes 139 people are buried in marked graves at remote detention camps used by people-smugglers on the Thai border, with each wrapped in white cloth in Muslim tradition.

'The shame game' [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

INTERNATIONAL PAPERS - Thurs. 28.05.15: Papers around the world react to the two sweeping probes into alleged corruption at FIFA. "The shame game", on the front page of British daily The Independent, is just one of numerous headlines. Many papers blame FIFA President Sepp Blatter for the scandal and call for him to step down. We take a look at coverage.

US military accidentally ships live anthrax to nine states, South Korea [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

The US military mistakenly sent live anthrax bacteria to laboratories in nine US states and a US air base in South Korea, after apparently failing to properly inactivate the bacteria last year, US officials said on Wednesday.

Nebraska scraps death penalty despite governor's veto [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Nebraska became the first Republican-dominated state in more than 40 years to abolish capital punishment as legislators overrode the governor’s veto of a bill repealing the death penalty.

ICC upholds decision to try Ivory Coast’s Simone Gbagbo at The Hague [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

The International Criminal Court on Wednesday quashed Ivory Coast's appeal to try former first lady Simone Gbagbo at home, upholding a previous order to have her transferred to The Hague for prosecution.

Granny Clinton Magically Finds Random Guy to Quote Scripture With, CNN Gushes [Jammie Wearing Fools]

This is so obviously staged, yet somehow CNN runs with it. The idea that this woman would just happen upon an guy quoting scripture and she’s knows the exact lines defies belief. Yet this is the garbage they’re trying to sell people.

Weird, but if a Republican started quoting scripture, which would actually be believable, CNN would be having conniptions about getting religion out of politics.

Hillary Clinton is a lifelong Methodist, but you wouldn’t know that by listening to most of her speeches. She rarely speaks — at least at any length — about her faith.

But the presidential candidate broke with that tradition on Wednesday when she reflected on her religious study and background, during an impromptu conversation with Rev. Frederick Donnie Hunt at Main Street Bakery.

Hunt came to the yellow-walled bakery to enjoy a sweet treat while he studied the Bible, unaware — he said after — that a presidential candidate was about to visit. His quiet reflection was abruptly turned upside down when around 20 press and campaign staff rolled into the bakery with Clinton.

Oh sure, totally unaware that Grandma was coming by. No idea, none whatsoever!

“We are heading out of town and we were told to stop by and get some good stuff to take with us,” Clinton said as she walked through the door, flanked by dozens of cupcakes and cakes.

After chatting with the bakery’s staff and picking out some cupcakes for the road, the presidential candidate saddled up to Hunt and asked him what he was studying.

Oh, she just randomly found this guy. Sure, this is credible.

“Corinthians 13,” Hunt said calmly, almost nonplussed by the candidate.

“Oh I know it well,” Clinton said.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud,” the passage says.

Kim Jong-Un would be embarrassed by the shamelessness of it all.

“You’re doing what is the most important thing to do, it’s continuing to study and learn what the scripture says and what it means,” she said. “I have a preacher friend who sends me scripture and devotionals, sometimes mini-sermons every day.”

Hunt told Clinton that you “always learn something when you read it again and inspect it.”

“Well, it’s alive,” Clinton said. “It’s the living word.”

Think I’m going to vomit.

I was impressed and glad that she knew the scripture that I was reading and studying at the time,” he said, reached by phone after the event. “It impressed me that someone running for president has that background. It is important to me that we have a president that has some belief.

Oy. It would be so easy to prove this a fraud if a reporter ambushed her with some other passages, but that will never happen with such a staged, choreographed campaign. Besides, the media is pretty much all in her back pantsuit pocket.

Timeline: Hillary’s Benghazi emails [Jammie Wearing Fools]

The nearly 300 emails from Hillary Clinton released by the State Department last week are shedding new light on the administration’s mission in Libya and its response to the deadly terrorist attacks in Benghazi.

The emails include details on the work of Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya who died in the Benghazi siege, and offer a glimpse into Clinton’s concerns that she might have falsely attributed the 2012 assault to backlash against an anti-Muslim video.

The communications between then-Secretary of State Clinton and her top aides will likely be a significant focus of the House Select Committee’s investigation into the attacks.
While key staffers could be deposed in the coming weeks, the committee still has not settled on a date for Clinton’s testimony. Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) has said he wants to wait until State produces all the relevant documents before slating a hearing.

In the meantime, here’s how the Clinton emails fit in with what’s already known about the Sept. 11, 2012, assault.

Sept. 11, 2012: After the initial news of the Benghazi attacks, Clinton receives an email from an aide at 10:41 p.m. saying then-national security adviser Tom Donilon “wants to speak with you secure … He would like to speak with you asap as he is leaving shortly.”

Less than an hour later, after confirming Stevens’s death with the Libyans, Clinton sends a message titled “Chris Smith” to aides asking when the department should make an announcement. Sean Smith, an agency employee, also died in the attacks.

Full story.

Corrupt Clinton Foundation Paid Sleazy Sidney Blumenthal $10K a Month to Provide Intel on Libya [Jammie Wearing Fools]

The endless Clinton parade of sleaze continues.

Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime confidant of Bill and Hillary Clinton, earned about $10,000 a month as a full-time employee of the Clinton Foundation while he was providing unsolicited intelligence on Libya to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to multiple sources familiar with the arrangement.

Blumenthal was added to the payroll of the Clintons’ global philanthropy in 2009 — not long after advising Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign — at the behest of former president Bill Clinton, for whom he had worked in the White House, say the sources.

While Blumenthal’s foundation job focused on highlighting the legacy of Clinton’s presidency, some officials at the charity questioned his value and grumbled that his hiring was a favor from the Clintons, according to people familiar with the foundation. They say that, during a 2013 reform push, Blumenthal was moved to a consulting contract that came with a similar pay rate but without benefits — an arrangement that endured until March.

A Clinton loyalist who first earned the family’s trust as an aggressive combatant in the political battles of the 1990s, Blumenthal continues to work as a paid consultant to two groups supporting Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign — American Bridge and Media Matters — both of which are run by David Brock, a close ally of both Clinton and Blumenthal.

Yet Blumenthal’s financial and personal connections to the Clintons and their allies have emerged as subjects of intense scrutiny as Clinton seeks to gain momentum for her presidential campaign.

Intense scrutiny? Really? Weird how these stories are buried by the networks and “mainstream” medie and dismissed as “old news” by oily Clinton hacks.

Media Matters spokesman Zac Petkanas wouldn’t provide details on Blumenthal’s relationship with the group. “We’ve worked with various consultants over the years,” he said. “As a matter of policy, we do not discuss the details of any of these arrangements.”

The idea anyone would run with a quote from some Media Matters toady is laughable, yet indicative of today’s sorry state of journalism.

But Blumenthal’s work for American Bridge and Media Matters is described as ongoing, even as those groups come to Clinton’s defense by trying to neutralize attacks on her related to Benghazi and her use of a private email account and server for official business, while assailing the prospective Republican rivals leveling those attacks.

Speaking of the sorry state of journalism, pointing out truth and possible criminal behavior is not an attack.

This is CNN: ‘Kenyan Lawyer Offers Cows, Goats, Sheep to Marry Malia Obama’ [Jammie Wearing Fools]

Wait, this is news? Is CNN really this hard up? Sheesh, just imagine if Fox ran with this lunacy.

Felix Kiprono, a lawyer in Nairobi, Kenya, has his eye on someone special: President Obama’s daughter Malia.

His offer to win her hand? Fifty cows, 70 sheep and 30 goats.

“People might say I am after the family’s money, which is not the case. My love is real,” he told the Nairobian newspaper.

Moreover, he adds, he’s been faithful to his beloved since he first became aware of her.

“I got interested in her in 2008,” he said. “As a matter of fact, I haven’t dated anyone since and promise to be faithful to her. I have shared this with my family and they are willing to help me raise the bride price.”

What was she, like 9 years old in 2008? Yikes.

There are some issues, of course. For one, Malia Obama is 16. For another, she’ll have to develop a taste for village life.

“Ours will be a simple life. I will teach Malia how to milk a cow, cook ugali (a porridge) and prepare mursik (a sour milk) like any other Kalenjin woman,” he said.

Seriously creepy shit.

Quinnipiac Poll: 53% Say Corrupt Grandma Clinton is Dishonest and Untrustworthy [Jammie Wearing Fools]

Apparently 47% (there’s that number again) of the population doesn’t pay attention to the news, or they’re just Democrats so used to corrupt, criminal behavior in their leaders.

Even worse news for America: This contemptible, hopelessly dishonest woman still leads potential GOP challengers in hypothetical 2016 matchups.

Hillary Clinton dominates among Democratic voters nationwide, with 57 percent, compared to 60 percent April 23. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has 15 percent with Vice President Joseph Biden at 9 percent. No other candidate tops 1 percent with 14 percent undecided.

Clinton and Biden top the “no way” list with 9 percent each.

How sad for Biden that he only gets 9%.

In a general election matchup, Clinton gets 46 percent of American voters to 42 percent for Paul and 45 percent of voters to 41 percent for Rubio. She leads other top Republicans:

  • 46 – 37 percent over Christie;
  • 47 – 40 percent over Huckabee;
  • 47 – 37 percent over Bush;
  • 46 – 38 percent over Walker;
  • 48 – 37 percent over Cruz;
  • 50 – 32 percent over Trump.

 

American voters say 53 – 39 percent that Clinton is not honest and trustworthy, but say 60 – 37 percent that she has strong leadership qualities. Voters are divided 48 – 47 percent over whether Clinton cares about their needs and problems.

Where on earth do people get the idea she has strong leadership qualities? We suppose 25 years of the media telling us how wonderful this vile woman is. If only we had an honest media her dishonestly numbers would likely be approaching 100%.

 

Dancing Douchebags Protest Tampon Tax in Australia [Jammie Wearing Fools]

Apparently the mental illness known as feminism has spread well beyond our borders. Considering these crackpots supposedly want equality, why don’t they want to pay taxes like everyone else?

What about their fair share?!?

Giant dancing tampons and a mobile billboard addressed to Prime Minister Tony Abbott could be seen outside the Parliament today, in a woman’s campaign to abolish GST for sanitary products.

University student Subeta Vimalarajah, who has gathered more than 98,000 signatures for her Stop Taxing My Period petition, exposed the billboard and assembled a group of women dressed as giant tampons on the lawns of the Parliament House this morning.

The campaign follows Joe Hockey’s appearance on ABC’s Q&A on Monday, where he agreed that the tax should be scrapped, but Prime Minister Tony Abbott indicated that this is a matter for the state treasurer to figure out.

‘Mr Abbott has backed away from addressing this inequality at every opportunity, diverting responsibility to anyone but himself,’ Ms Vimalarajah said in a press release.

‘Sanitary items are an essential health item, used at least once a month by at least half the population. It’s time our Minister for Women recognised that periods aren’t paychecks, they’re a pain.’

Ms Vimalarajah, got the opportunity to ask Mr Hockey a direct line of questioning regarding the tax on the ABC TV program Q&A on Monday night.

‘Mr Hockey, do you think that sanitary products are an essential health good for half the population?’ she asked.

After the audience laughed and applauded Ms Vimalarajah’s for being so straightforward, Mr Hockey simply replied with: ‘I think so.’

When probed further by host Tony Jones if the GST should be removed from such products, Mr Hockey added: ‘It probably should, yes, the answer’s yes.’

Clearly all the pressing issues facing society have been addressed when we can spend out time talking about feminine hygiene products.

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Bloody unfair. Get it?

Clinton Criminal Foundation Received $100K from Scandal-Scarred FIFA [Jammie Wearing Fools]

Not much to speak of when it comes to the Clintons, really. Based on the normal bribe fee for “speeches” this amount would get you only about five minutes of Grandma’s southern-style folksy wisdom.

The embattled Clinton Foundation can add a new name to its long list of donors under scrutiny — the scandal-tarred world soccer federation.

FIFA donated as much as $100,000 to the charity headed by Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton, foundation records revealed, with no further details available.

On Wednesday, US authorities indicted 14 soccer officials.

FBI agents arrested the officials meeting in Switzerland, as the head of the Justice Department described a conspiracy of bribery and corruption in the selection of World Cup host countries and sponsors.

The Clinton Foundation, already under fire for accepting multimillion-dollar contributions from nations including Saudi Arabia, disclosed only the range of the contribution — from $50,001 to $100,000.

Bill Clinton hobnobbed with FIFA President Sepp Blatter at the World Cup in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2010.

Clinton was serving as honorary chairman of the effort to bring the event to the US in 2018 or 2022.

When the United States lost in 2010, Clinton was so enraged that he threw an object across a hotel room and shattered a wall mirror, Britain’s Telegraph reported.

Clearly the Clintons have anger issues.

Federal Aid [Chaos Manor - Jerry Pournelle]

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Chaos Manor View, Thursday, May 28, 2015

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Story conference with Barnes and Niven yesterday. Satisfactory but mentally exhausted so the rest of the day after lunch was consumed by locusts.

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Back in the 50’s when there was no federal Department of Education, and there was spirited debate over the wisdom of Federal Aid to Education, it was generally thought that education was best left to the States; Federal Aid would come at the creeping but inevitable cost of Federal Control, and would be a disaster. It was argued that for the cost of a few B-52’s we could have a fine education for all. Our schools were generally good, but some were backward, rural, or inner city; Federal Aid would fix that and improve the other schools as well. And then came Sputnik and the idea that Russian schools were much better than US schools, and Russians learned Science and Engineering, and look at this backward school in the Ozarks, and we must have education to win the Cold War, and…

The alarmists won the argument of course. We got Federal Aid and we got it good and hard. With it came credentialism and strong teachers unions. Reagan tried to abolish the Department of Education and much of Federal Aid, but he couldn’t; since Reagan no one has tried very hard.

And then came various national education policies. No child left behind – better described as no child gets ahead – may have been the worst. There was also the idiocy of “every American kid should get a world class university prep education” which doesn’t even make sense. Most industrial workers couldn’t make use of a university education, and vast numbers couldn’t pass the final exams. But if you have a right to get one, the universities will, at great cost (and profit) see that it happens. You can major in some field or another, and if you can’t do maths we’ll find you a major that doesn’t need them.

So down went higher education while turning out more graduates; but meanwhile the high schools, and then the grade schools, were suffering.

I don’t suppose I need say a lot more on the quality of education. Look at the California Sixth Grade Reader of 1915 http://www.amazon.com/California-Sixth-Grade-Reader-Pournelle-ebook/dp/B00LZ7PB7E or see Bill whittle http://www.truthrevolt.org/news/bill-whittle-struggle-stupidity for more. Somehow what we expected 6th Graders to study before WW II is now too difficult for high school.

But the real argument against Federal Aid To Education was the warning about indoctrination: at the time it was mostly Liberals who feared indoctrination by right wingers. Bit different now, but the arguments still hold: it’s a direct violation of the intentions of the Framers and a complete intrusion on state’s sovereignty.

Schoolroom Climate Change Indoctrination

In one assignment, students measure the size of their family’s carbon footprint and suggest ways to shrink it.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/schoolroom-climate-change-indoctrination-1432767611

By

Paul H. Tice

May 27, 2015 7:00 p.m. ET

1165 COMMENTS

While many American parents are angry about the Common Core educational standards and related student assessments in math and English, less attention is being paid to the federally driven green Common Core that is now being rolled out across the country. Under the guise of the first new K-12 science curriculum to be introduced in 15 years, the real goal seems to be to expose students to politically correct climate-change orthodoxy during their formative learning years.

The Next Generation of Science Standards were released in April 2013. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have adopted them, including my state of New Jersey, which signed on in July 2014 and plans to phase in the new curriculum beginning with the 2016-2017 school year. The standards were designed to provide students with an internationally benchmarked science education.

While publicly billed as the result of a state-led process, the new science standards rely on a framework developed by the Washington, D.C.-based National Research Council. That is the research arm of the National Academy of Sciences that works closely with the federal government on most scientific matters.

There is more but you get the idea. Indoctrination with Al Gore.

And you get to pay for it, and your children will come home ashamed of their Denier parents: even as the evidence pours in showing that we don’t know much about climate even with our multi-million dollar models, and until they can account for clouds, they will never be accurate: no model can take the 1960 initial conditions and “predict” the conditions in 2000.

And without cloud data they can’t, because Nighttime Radiative Cooling http://misfitsarchitecture.com/2013/03/01/its-not-rocket-science-5-night-sky-radiant-cooling/ is governed by clouds.

But that isn’t going to be taught to your kids.

Our school system is so bad that perhaps it won’t be effective in indoctrination; but the next step will be to have the kids report their Denier parents, and then send Child Protective Services to help the kids resist the evil parents who are teaching The Wrong Stuff to their kids.

I know.

It Can’t Happen Here.

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How to generate a science scam

Dear Dr. Pournelle, 

This article is by a journalist who did his levelheaded best to scam the scientific community with a bogus study. The ease with which it is done is quite sad and speaks to gatekeeping, at least in scientific journalism.
http://io9.com/i-fooled-millions-into-thinking-chocolate-helps-weight-1707251800

Respectfully,

Brian P.

damned

It is worth reading. And it isn’t just journalism that lets nonsense past. Modern education in actual science in universities is not universally – or even usually – very good. That’s true of many of the “best” universities. But my god how the money rolls in.

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Did Market Leninism Win the Cold War?

<http://www.unz.com/article/the-worst-of-all-possible-worlds/>

—————————————

Roland Dobbins

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“The Worst of All Possible Worlds

Did Market Leninism Win the Cold War?

Imagine an alternative universe in which the two major Cold War superpowers evolved into the United Soviet Socialist States. The conjoined entity, linked perhaps by a new Bering Straits land bridge, combines the optimal features of capitalism and collectivism. From Siberia to Sioux City, we’d all be living in one giant Sweden.

It sounds like either the paranoid nightmare of a John Bircher or the wildly optimistic dream of Vermont socialist Bernie Sanders.

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, however, this was a rather conventional view, at least among influential thinkers like economist John Kenneth Galbraith who predicted that the United States and the Soviet Union would converge at some point in the future with the market tempered by planning and planning invigorated by the market. Like many an academic notion, it didn’t come to pass. The United States veered off in the direction of Reaganomics. And the Soviet Union eventually collapsed. So much for “convergence theory,” which like EST or cold fusion went the way of most crackpot ideas.

Or did it? Take another look at our world in 2015 and tell me if, somehow we haven’t backed our way through the looking glass into that very alternative universe — with a twist. The planet currently seems to be on the cusp of a decidedly unharmonic convergence.

Consider what’s happening in Russia, where an elected autocrat presides over a free market shaped by a powerful state apparatus. Similarly, China’s mash-up of market Leninism offers a one-from-column-A-and-one-from-Column-B combination platter. Both countries are also rife with crime, corruption, growing inequality, and militarism. Think of them as the un-Swedens.”

CoDominium?

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Query for the seminar: are you REAL sure you want to raise the minimum wage?

“I chose crab bisque as a dish because it’s a real challenge for human chef to make well, never mind a machine,” Anderson said.

“If it can cook a bisque, it can do stir-fries and we’re looking forward to teaching it many more recipes in the months to come.”

http://www.scmp.com/tech/innovation/article/1808963/worlds-first-robot-kitchen-cooks-visitors-ces-asia-shanghai

Rod

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K wrote:

“ I am not advocating the armed conflict that was the first step toward positive change two hundred years ago; we have tools of communication at our disposal now that did not exist then.”

—–

Those very same tools of communications are an important component of the instrumentality of tyranny. Had the War of Independence been delayed until the advent of the telegraph and the Gatling gun, it would in all likelihood not been successful; the example of the Second American Revolution (also known as the War of Northern Aggression, the War Between the States, or the American Civil War) is pertinent.

Those tools are even more important during long spans of notional ‘peace’.

—————————————

Roland Dobbins <roland.dobbins@mac.com>

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“The Kurds at the moment have ambitions that are not in conflict with our interests except at the margins; that is also true of Saudi Arabia, and Israel for that matter.”

Only true of the Kurds.

Greg Cochran

In absolute terms, yes; but the conflicts are resolvable in the case of Saudi Arabia and Israel. What is needed from Arabia is protection of the Sunni minority from the Shia of Baghdad. Baathist Iraq certainly had goals in conflict with the US but the situation in Iraq was much better under Baath than it is under our liberated democracy.

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How so?

http://listverse.com/2015/05/25/10-major-natural-disasters-predicted-in-the-near-future/

In one of the potential disasters described, a statement is made that “…a US Geological Survey study done by scientists in Florida that states that the sea level of the East Coast is rising three or four times faster than anywhere else in the world.”

How can that be, since all oceans actually are a single body of water?

Charles Brumbelow

“A 2012 study by emeritus professor John Boon of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science claimed that significant changes in sea level along the East Coast from Key West, Florida, to Newfoundland, Canada, started around 1987. His study shows that the sea level is increasing 0.3 millimeters per year. This study dovetails with a US Geological Survey study done by scientists in Florida that states that the sea level of the East Coast is rising three or four times faster than anywhere else in the world.”

I would presume he finds the Floridian Coastland sinking? Or being lower? It is purportedly explained in http://www.nature.com/news/us-northeast-coast-is-hotspot-for-rising-sea-levels-1.10880

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About that small minority of terrorists

Al Jazeera is one of the Islamic world’s largest TV outlets. They performed a survey.

81% of respondents to Al Jazeera poll support the Islamic State http://www.jihadwatch.org/2015/05/81-of-respondents-to-al-jazeera-poll-support-the-islamic-state

When I went to school 81% is not a small minority. I guess the new math has kicked in or something.

As support let’s travel to a typical Egyptian Mosque.

Typical Egyptian mosque sermons identical to “non-Islamic” Islamic State http://www.jihadwatch.org/2015/05/typical-egyptian-mosque-sermons-identical-to-non-islamic-islamic-state

Oops, that didn’t work either. Maybe we just have to live with it. After all they are nice people, aren’t they? Surely they treat us as equals as we treat them, right?

Muslim Judge: ‘Unacceptable for Christian to Testify Against Muslims’

http://pamelageller.com/2015/05/muslim-judge-unacceptable-for-christian-to-testify-against-muslims.html

Oops, that didn’t turn out so well. But gee, they’re still basically nice people, aren’t they? Erm, unless, maybe, you are gay.

VIDEO: Muslim Brutally Beats Gay Couple in NY Restaurant http://pamelageller.com/2015/05/video-muslim-attacks-gay-couple-in-ny-restaurant.html

Hm, this doesn’t look too good. But they’re just gays.

Islamic State forces Yezidi boys to convert to Islam, sends them into battle http://www.jihadwatch.org/2015/05/islamic-state-forces-yezidi-boys-to-convert-to-islam-sends-them-into-battle

Waitaminit that’s not nice of them. Does it get worse? Yes, especially if you are woman.

Pamela Geller, WND: “U.K. Rape Jihadis: ‘This Is OK In Our Culture’”

http://www.jihadwatch.org/2015/05/pamela-geller-wnd-u-k-rape-jihadis-this-is-ok-in-our-culture

Pamela Geller, Breitbart: “The UK’s Rape Jihad: A Survivor’s Tale”

http://www.jihadwatch.org/2015/05/pamela-geller-breitbart-the-uks-rape-jihad-a-survivors-tale

It’s even not very nice for Christian men in moderate secular Egypt.

Grandson of medical pioneer cannot follow same profession for being Christian http://www.jihadwatch.org/2015/05/grandson-of-medical-pioneer-cannot-follow-same-profession-for-being-christian

Oh, nevermind! I overreacted. Obama tells me it’s all due to climate change!

Robert Spencer, PJM: Obama: Climate Change Causes Jihad http://www.jihadwatch.org/2015/05/robert-spencer-pjm-obama-climate-change-causes-jihad

Ya know, just off the top of my head, it’s time we do something about this “stuff” before that “stuff” really hits the fan. And it’s preciously close to the big stuff hitting fan episode.

{o.o}

ISIS is vulnerable now but becoming exponentially less so. Time is not on our side.

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: Dogs and human evolution
They say that we domesticated dogs. What if they domesticated us?
Imagine our primitive ancestors. Some were assholes, and were mean to animals. Others were more open-minded, and could bond with other species such as dogs. The latter then would get the advantage of another species with superior olfaction, hearing, night vision, and alertness. Perhaps natural selection could favor the latter? Perhaps it could assist in domesticating other species such as horses (utterly vital for civilization for several thousand years). Perhaps these adaptations could even spill over into our relations with each other?
Perhaps our dogs shaped us? Perhaps we need more of that?

TG

Well we had all that forebrain we had been using to smell with, and now it could evolve other functions.

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http://www.jerrypournelle.com/reports/jerryp/Sixthgradesample.html

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Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.

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Memorial Day; Future Work; Strategy [Chaos Manor - Jerry Pournelle]

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Chaos Manor View, Monday, May 25, 2015

MEMORIAL DAY

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We give our thanks and tribute to those who have defended us. May the survivors find peace and tranquility; may the dead rest in peace; and God bless those who remain on guard.

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We are bringing out, in both electronic and print production, The Strategy of Technology, a 1970 book that was once a text in some of the Service Academies and still is in use at two of the War Colleges. This is not a new edition: it remains mostly the same as the hard to read copy available as an eBook on line or at exorbitant prices as used printed books. There are also Xerox copies kicking around.

The principles of the strategy of technology remain pretty constant, but all the examples in the book are of course Cold War or World War II, with a few “Small War” lessons and a bit on Korea.

It does not take account of Martin Van Crevold’s Transformation of War http://www.amazon.com/The-Transformation-War-Reinterpretation-Clausewitz/dp/0029331552 and it should acknowledge that important work; war has changed radically since 1970, and while Van Crevold mistakenly uses the politically motivated American retreat from Viet Nam as an example of the new era, subsequent events have made it clear that while Clausewitz remains important he is incomplete.

War remains, but its nature has changed. To Clausewitz war was the continuation of diplomacy by other means. As Van Crevold shows, there are new forms combat that Clausewitz would not recognize that can be as decisive as the old forms of war – ask the inhabitants of the Crimea, or eastern Ukraine. There are also combatants who are not nations: al Qaeda being a famous example. Yet States and Armies remain and can be decisive.

Anyway I am re-reading Van Crevold and preparing a “Postword” or final Chapter to show that the principles of the strategy of technology apply in this new kind of war – and that I am aware of the need for a book on the subject, and provide some thwarting materials for it. The subject is important. The subtitle of SOT was “Winning the Decisive War”, and that title is still relevant. At the same time, the age old principles of war as understood by both Sun Tzu and Machiavelli remain relevant.

It remains true that There Will Be War.

Alex is here and it is time for a walk. More later

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Decoration Day

Jerry,

On this day I am reminded of O’Hara’s “Bivouac of the Day” posted around Arlington National Cemetery

Theodore O’Hara’s poem, “Bivouac of the Dead,”<http://www.cem.va.gov/history/bivouac.asp>

The poem itself: <http://www.cem.va.gov/cem/history/BODpoem.asp>

And a Decoration Day postcard (at the first link): <http://www.cem.va.gov/cem/images/decday1.jpg>

Regards, Charles Adams, Bellevue, NE

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Subj: Rethink cozying up to the Kurds?

http://www.aei.org/publication/have-the-kurds-lied-to-congress/

Sounds to me like Yet Another Instance of a well-known pattern, to wit:

whenever someone utters some generality about “the X”, for some X, one’s antennae should twitch about the implication that what is said applies

*uniformly* over all X, with no within-X variation worth mentioning.

Rod Montgomery==monty@starfief.com

Why yes, of course; they are not our friends except from necessity. It was Saladin the Kurd who defeated the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem at the Horns of Hattin, and ended the Christian rule in the Holy Land. He also made a peace with Richard Couer de Leon that was beneficial to both sides. Then he went on to unite the Middle East.

The Kurds at the moment have ambitions that are not in conflict with our interests except at the margins; that is also true of Saudi Arabia, and Israel for that matter. Can we hope for more? I would rather Northern Iraq were in the hands of the Kurds than the Caliphate.

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ISIS and idiotic US Hubris Subject : ISIS and idiotic US Hubris Message : Contact Message below
https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/secret-pentagon-report-reveals-west-saw-isis-as-strategic-asset-b99ad7a29092
http://www.judicialwatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Pg.-291-Pgs.-287-293-JW-v-DOD-and-State-14-812-DOD-Release-2015-04-10-final-version11.pdf
So the redacted classified DIA document obtained by Judicial watch via FOIA shows that the US viewed ISIS AS A STRATEGIC ASSET!!!!! And clearly understood that something like ISIS was a collateral risk. This is consistent with the conspiratorial assertions years ago that ISIS was (created? – encouraged? – supported?) for the specific purpose of overthrowing Asad to enable a GCC gas pipeline to Europe without passing through Israel or IRAQ.
Hubris, Greed, and Amorality resulting in death and destruction – who wudda thought?

: john

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“The reason it’s controversial is, it violates Newton’s Third Law.”

<http://www.nbcnews.com/science/space/no-warp-drive-here-nasa-downplays-impossible-em-drive-space-n357151>

—————————————

Roland Dobbins

That’s always a problem. Seriously, we must pay attention to “impossible” data if it can be reproduced; but extraordinary claims always require extraordinary evidence. It is increasingly clear that this one doesn’t have that.

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Everyone I have talked to on Wall Street seems to agree it’s a pretty godless place. Is this new or has it always been like this?

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/05/seven-years-later-wall-street-hasnt-learned-anything/393623/?utm_source=SFFB

It’s been said many times, in many places, even well before the Great Recession: The culture on Wall Street is terrible. It encourages bad behavior. More recently, there are concerns that the Wall Street that caused the financial crisis is back.

A new report by The University of Notre Dame, commissioned by the law firm Labaton Sucharow, which represents whistleblowers, has some alarming numbers to add to this well-trodden narrative. The report surveyed more than 1,200 people in the financial-services industry—account executives, wealth advisors, financial analysts, investment bankers, operations managers, and portfolio managers—in both the U.S. and the U.K. to look at whether increased regulations, along with calls for a cultural change, have had any demonstrable effects.

Why I am shocked, shocked…

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Financial Times Says it All

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen such an apt and succinct observation:

<.>

The Fed is forecasting US growth of 2.5 per cent for the next two years, which is only marginally above the tepid rates achieved since the start of the recovery, which is now about to enter its seventh year. Should unemployment fall to 5 per cent by the end of 2015, wage growth may finally start to pick up, in which case the Fed will probably need to remove the punch bowl. The balance of risk is skewed the other way, however. After years of virtually no income growth, Main Street is unprepared for positive shocks. It is, for instance, striking that that the US consumer has opted to pocket the recent gains from lower [gas] prices rather than boost spending. The same applies to corporate investment, which remains disappointingly weak.

The US economy’s key growth drivers each seem to be waiting for the other to move first. Investors are reluctant to invest and consumers are hesitant to spend. What will it take to stoke their animal spirits?

</>

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/4fa54706-008b-11e5-b91e-00144feabdc0.html

What will it take for animus to drive the market? I see

witchdoctors, but these witchdoctors have a point.

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo

It takes someone who believes in American Exceptionalism rather than Social Justice

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The speech deconstructed by Viscount Monckton

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/05/21/does-the-leader-of-the-free-world-really-know-so-little-about-climate/

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DNA hints at earlier dog evolution 

Jerry

Ha! You and I have been right all these years:

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-32691843

They push it back to 27,000 years. But the baby and wolf (proto-dog) footprints date back 35,000 years.

Ed

I have always believed that dogs were extremely important in human evolution,  And there was a dramatic rise in intelligence about then…

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“We’ve disconnected the consequences of war from the American public.”

<http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-warrior-main-20150524-story.html>

—————————————

Roland Dobbins

“Stay together. Pay the soldiers. Take no heed of the rest.” Septimius Severus

Or see Machiavelli 

Cultivating the Wind

Jerry,
I have been away a while, buried by work and family obligations. I should not have been catching up this morning, but sometimes the mind needs a constructive distraction…
While I was catching up, it struck me how much of your blog is concerned with the issue of “sow[ing] the wind.” You warn us all that U.S. culture and culture around the world is changing, but not for the better. Ominous trends are afoot in education, politics, economics, entertainment, and discourse. I see the same ominous changes, so I am inclined to agree with you. However, it troubles me that we sit quite comfortably in our electronic pub, rationally discussing these issues while the world continues to deteriorate apace.
About 250 years ago, the people of the American British colonies sat comfortably in their physical pubs, rationally discussing the issues of their day, when at least one of them realized that discussion was not enough. Pointing out the problems, leveling criticisms, worrying about the prospects for the future were not changing anything. These people, the educated and able of their day, decided to stop simply talking about the problems and decided to start fixing them.
It has struck me that we — you, your direct friends, the people you have reached through your blog — have to inherit the mantle those people of 250 years ago once wore. We are the educated and able of our day. This is our world that needs to be changed for the better. We have the ability to define and to bring about that change. We are at the turn of an exponential curve and simple discussion will not longer suffice.
Can we not use our knowledge and experience to formulate a strategy for cultivating the wind? Can we not find a way to effectively influence cultural change for the better? I am not advocating the armed conflict that was the first step toward positive change two hundred years ago; we have tools of communication at our disposal now that did not exist then.
Cultivate the wind. Let us gather here to define a better future and make the effort to bring that future.

K

Despair is a sin.

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Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.

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After legal battle, Israel OK’s African-American family as citizens [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

(JTA) — Israel’s Interior Ministry agreed to allow an African-American family of 13 that converted to Judaism to become Israeli citizens.

A drawn-out legal battle over the family’s right to immigrate was the first case in which Israel’s Interior Ministry challenged the validity of a conversion performed abroad by a rabbi from a recognized Jewish community. The Mosley family was converted by Rabbi Arthur Nemitoff, the senior rabbi at a Reform temple in Overland Park, Kansas, Congregation Bnei Jehuda. However, family members did not receive full citizenship upon their arrival in Israel in 2011.

After months of no response from the Jewish Agency, which handles American immigration to Israel, the Mosleys were informed by the Israeli Interior Ministry in 2012 that their request to obtain citizenship had been denied.

The Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly of Israel and the Reform movement’s Israel Religious Action Center appealed the ruling to Israel’s Supreme Court.

The Interior Ministry reversed its decision to deny citizenship last month.

“This family suffered after undergoing a conversion that met all the requirements of Israeli law,” Rabbi Andrew Sacks, the director of the Israeli Rabbinical Assembly told Haaretz. “They were left to fend for themselves. Had they not had good legal representation, they would continue to fend for themselves.”

Rapper Ice Cube melts down, beats up rabbi [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

Ice Cube speaking at at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace during CinemaCon on April 23, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Michael Buckner/Getty Images for CinemaCon)

Ice Cube speaking at at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace during CinemaCon on April 23, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Michael Buckner/Getty Images for CinemaCon)

Ice Cube has never had the most cordial relationship with the Jewish community. In 1991, the Simon Wiesenthal Center condemned his album “Death Certificate,” noting that many lyrics were racist and one of the songs called for the murder of a Jewish music industry figure. His song “No Vaseline” has been criticized for its line directed at his former group NWA, which he says “let a white Jew tell [them] what to do.”

However, this latest incident, if true, takes his Jewish relations to a new low.

The 45-year-old rapper and actor allegedly lost his cool outside the MGM casino in Detroit last Sunday when he and a rabbi —who went by the name P. Taras in TMZ — bumped into each other. Taras claims that after he told Ice Cube to watch where he was going, the rapper had his entourage physically beat and stomp on him.

Taras also says that Ice Cube unleashed a string of anti-Semitic epithets at him for wearing a yarmulke. He is suing the rapper for $2 million in damages.

Ice Cube, whose real name is O’Shea Jackson, told TMZ that the rabbi’s claims are not true.

Jackson is in the middle of helping publicize an upcoming biopic about NWA, but he might not be able to rap his way out of this debacle.

Obama meets with family of slain journalist Steven Sotloff [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

(JTA)—President Obama met with the parents of slain journalist Steven Sotloff several months after they criticized the White House for its handling of their son’s death.

The White House announced that Obama met with Art and Shirley Sotloff on Thursday during a trip to Miami.

“The President expressed his and the First Lady’s condolences for Steven’s death,” Bernadette Meehan, National Security spokesperson, wrote in a statement. “He appreciated the chance to hear from the Sotloffs more about Steven’s work as a journalist, including his passion for bringing the stories of people who are suffering to the rest of the world in the hope of making a positive difference, including in Syria.”

After Sotloff’s death, his family criticized the White House for leaking questionable reports that Sotloff and James Foley, the first American journalist to be beheaded by ISIS, were killed on the same day. On CNN, a spokesman for the family criticized the U.S. government’s inability to put aside political “bureaucratic infighting” and rescue Sotloff.

Steven Sotloff, who was Jewish and grew up in Miami, published articles from Syria, Egypt and Libya in various publications, including Time, the World Affairs Journal and Foreign Policy. He also freelanced for The Jerusalem Post.

Former NYC council candidate arrested on child porn charges [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

(JTA) — A former candidate for New York City Council was arrested for possessing and sharing child pornography.

Joseph Hayon, who was arrested last week and admitted that he viewed and shared the pornographic images of children between ages 2 and 12, ran to represent a Brooklyn district under the campaign slogan “Our children are our future,” according to the New York Post.

Hayon, 37, was released on $50,000 bail and barred from coming in contact with his four children, ages 9, 7, 4 and 15 months.

Hayon, who is shown in photos in court wearing a black yarmulke, works at a Jewish nonprofit organization called Pesach Tikvah, which helps children and adults with special needs. He is the founder of the Brooklyn Tea Party.

 

On basalt boulders, remembering a Golan Heights attack [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

Sculptors Esti Sehaiek Har-Lev and Yuval Lufan at work on the memorial in northern Israel that is to be dedicated on June 1. (Esti Sehaiek Har-Lev)

Sculptors Esti Sehaiek Har-Lev and Yuval Lufan at work on the memorial in northern Israel that is to be dedicated on June 1. (Esti Sehaiek Har-Lev)

The Seeking Kin column aims to help reunite long-lost relatives and friends.

BALTIMORE (JTA) – The name one Jerusalemite bears is fraught with meaning.

Shimon Balas, a new immigrant from Yemen, was killed by a Syrian sniper on April 4, 1951. His father, Shalom Balas, was so desperate for a male heir that in the next five years he produced two daughters before a son was born in 1956 – when Shalom was about 70 years old. He named him Shimon, too.

“My father would always expect me to be like my brother. If I did A, he’d say, ‘Your brother would have done B,’” said Shimon Balas, 58, who works for the municipal courts.

Balas knew little about the circumstances of his brother’s death until recently, when three people driving in the Golan Heights came upon three boulders that would spur them to research the 1951 attack and, ultimately, to honor the seven Israel Defense Forces soldiers, including Balas, killed there.

On June 1, a monument will be dedicated at the site, called Yad Lashiva’a (Memorial to the Seven). The other men, all, like Balas, IDF privates and immigrants, were Simcha Cohen (from Tunisia), Kalman Salonikov (Bulgaria), Yitzhak Yisraeli (Iran), Mordechai Cohen (Turkey), Shimon Cohen (Morocco) and Nissim Laub (Morocco).

“Now, after 60 years, I’m just learning what happened,” said Salonikov’s sister, Yehudit Zeir, 81, who lives on Moshav Bitzaron, near Rehovot. “We went through the Shoah, everything was fine in Israel – then this happened. Kalman fell at age 19.”

The memorial on the basalt boulders consists of engravings of the men’s names, explanatory text about the attack that took their lives and skyward stretching hands.

The Yad Lasheva memorial. (Esti Sehaiek Har-Lev)

The Yad Lashiva’a memorial. (Esti Sehaiek Har-Lev)

It developed soon after three sculptor friends from northern Israel – Esti Sehaiek Har-Lev, Yuval Lufan and Ahiam Lifshitz – went on an outing on Feb. 8 to Hamat Gader, known for its hot springs, water park and alligator shows. At the fork leading up one winding road to the heights or down another to Hamat Gader, they noticed the boulders.

They mentioned it to another friend, tour guide Gil Brenner, who was familiar with the facts of the attack.

According to the Israeli Air Force’s recounting of what happened, 21 men set out from the police station at Tzemach, near the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee, at 2:45 p.m. on the 4th; 19 of the 21 were IDF soldiers wearing police uniforms. The unit was responding to reports that reached the IDF’s Northern Command stating that Syrian soldiers wearing civilian clothes had entered the area, which was a buffer zone under the 1949 armistice agreement. While Hamat Gader belonged to Israel, Syrians controlled the narrow mountain pass.

Just after 5 p.m., seven of the men were dead – shot by a Syrian soldier from a still-extant bunker on a hill above.

A few days after the artists discovered the boulders, they returned with Brenner. They considered creating a memorial where none existed.

“When I looked at [the boulders], I saw in my imagination the raised hands of people screaming, praying and lifting their hands to God,” said Sehaiek Har-Lev. “It was like a vision.”

Through Facebook, Internet searches, the nonprofit organization Giving Faces to the Fallen and interviews on the radio programs “Kol Shishi” (Friday’s Voice) and “Hamador L’chipus Krovim” (Searching for Relatives Bureau), they compiled the names of the victims and located their families.

The sculptors returned to the site to work for four full days and for the first time noticed that the basalt was pockmarked, apparently by bullets shot at the Israeli force 64 years earlier. Sehaiek Har-Lev outlined in chalk the hands of five Dutch Christian tourists who came to watch. Three passing soldiers also volunteered as hand models.

Using large, loud machines for much of the rock-carving, the sculptors feared that they’d be prevented by authorities from doing their work – perhaps even be charged with vandalism, said Sehaiek Har-Lev, 66, a resident of Poriah Illit, a village near Tiberias.

The project “connects me again to this land” and was particularly poignant because nearly all the seven soldiers died unmarried and childless, she said.

One who did father a child was Simcha Cohen, whose wife, Fortuna, was four months pregnant back in Beersheba when he was killed.

Five of the seven (clockwise from top left): Kalman Salonikov, Simcha Cohen, Nissim Laub, Shimon Balas and Mordechai Cohen. (Israel Ministry of Defense)

Five of the seven (clockwise from top left): Kalman Salonikov, Simcha Cohen, Nissim Laub, Shimon Balas and Mordechai Cohen. (Israel Ministry of Defense)

Their daughter, Etti Oudy, visited the memorial-in-the-making and allowed Sehaiek Har-Lev and Lufan to outline her hands on the rock, too.

“I’m so thankful to them. I never saw something so wonderful – and they did it as volunteers,” said Oudy, a resident of Rishon Lezion. “It’s exciting and emotional that, after 63 years, people would do this. It’ll be there for future generations.”

Oudy spoke with “Seeking Kin” on April 21 from the Petach Tikva hospital where she awaited the birth of her eighth grandchild, a girl. The baby, Yali, arrived that night, after the start of Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s memorial day for soldiers and terrorism victims. At the military cemetery on Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl, in consecutive plots, rest five of the seven fatalities of the attack at al-Hama, as Hamat Gader was known. At the grave sites the next day, Oudy chatted with Balas.

She’ll see him again at the June 1 monument dedication. Attending, too, will be her only son, Yanai, the new dad. Yanai was named for Oudy’s father. Simcha Cohen’s middle name was Yonah.

(Please email Hillel Kuttler at seekingkin@jta.org if you would like “Seeking Kin” to write about your search for long-lost relatives and friends. Please include the principal facts and your contact information in a brief email. “Seeking Kin” is sponsored by Bryna Shuchat and Joshua Landes and family in loving memory of their mother and grandmother, Miriam Shuchat, a lifelong uniter of the Jewish people.)

Al Pacino pulls out of play over playwright’s support of Hitler [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

(JTA) — American actor Al Pacino decided not to appear in a play because of the playwright’s support for Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.

Pacino pulled out last week from a stage adaptation of “Hunger,” by Norwegian author Knut Hamsun, The Telegraph reported. The play was to be produced by the Aveny-T theater in Copenhagen, Denmark.

“It is correct: he jumped at the last minute because he couldn’t come to terms with Knut Hamsun’s support for the German occupation and Nazism,” Jon Stephensen, Aveny-T’s manager, told Denmark’s BT newspaper. “We must respect that.”

Pacino had been scheduled to appear in Copenhagen last week for a 3D filming of him narrating the play, which the theater planned to use during performances, according to The Telegraph.

Hamsun was a supporter of Nazi Germany in his 70s and 80s, according to the newspaper, and supported the German occupation of Norway during World War II. After Hitler died, Hamsun wrote in an obituary that Hitler was as “a preacher of the gospel of justice for all nations.”

Hege Faust, the chairperson of Norway’s Hansun Society, told The Telegraph that it was “strange” that people today could not separate the “literary brilliance” of Hamsun’s early years with the politics of his old age.

“Many people choose not to read Hamsun at all, or when it comes to famous people such as Al Pacino, to risk having their name connected to him,” she said.

Many Holocaust survivors live in poverty and need assistance, confab told [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

(JTA) — Many of the remaining 500,000 Holocaust survivors around the world live in poverty and need assistance, an international conference was told.

Representatives of 39 countries participating in the two-day “Living in Dignity” conference that ended on Wednesday called on the international community to provide more assistance to survivors, including not taxing their survivors’ benefits and not using their benefits as an excuse to prevent them from qualifying for programs for low-income individuals.

The conference was organized by the European Shoah Legacy Institute in the wake of the Terezin declaration signed by 47 countries and the European Union in 2009.

“The purpose of this international conference is to bring government, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOS) and independent experts together to explore realistic mechanisms and best practices to assist those most in need and provide a modicum of dignity in their remaining years,” read the introduction to the conference.

“It’s really unacceptable that those people who in their youth suffered so grievously should have to live out their declining years in deprivation, isolation and poverty,” Stuart Eizenstat, special adviser on Holocaust issues to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told AFP, echoing the conference’s concluding statement.

“In New York City alone, of the 60,000 survivors, 50 percent are in that state. In Israel about a third are, and in the former Soviet Union countries upwards of 85-90 percent are in poverty,” Eizenstat said.

Representatives at the conference called on each country to appoint an official to coordinate Holocaust survivors’ payments and help them gain access to other social programs. They also called on the European Union to appoint a special coordinator to combat anti-Semitism and address other Holocaust issues.

The conference was held in conjunction with the European Parliament, European Commission, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs of the Czech Republic, with the support of Israeli Ministry for Senior Citizens, EVZ Stiftung and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.

As Israeli Rabbinate targets Rabbi Riskin, battle lines take shape [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, rabbi of the Jewish settlement of Efrat conducts the Pidyon HaBen ceremony for a 30-day-old first born son in Efrat, West Bank, on May 25, 2015.  (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, rabbi of the Jewish settlement of Efrat conducts the Pidyon HaBen ceremony for a 30-day-old first born son in Efrat, West Bank, on May 25, 2015. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

TEL AVIV (JTA) — There’s no shortage of Israelis who want to reform the office of the Chief Rabbinate.

Ranging from advocates of religion-state separation to leaders of Israel’s non-Orthodox movements to newspaper columnists, some want to end the Rabbinate’s monopoly over the country’s religious services; others want to dissolve it entirely.

But this week, the Rabbinate appears to have targeted a leader whose critique of Israel’s religious status quo is more subtle. Shlomo Riskin, chief rabbi of the West Bank settlement of Efrat, has been summoned to a hearing before the Rabbinate next month where he believes his job will be challenged.

Unlike many of the Rabbinate’s critics, Riskin is Orthodox, supports the Rabbinate in its current form and operates within the bounds of Orthodox Jewish law, or halachah. But he has called on the Rabbinate to condone his relatively progressive policies, especially regarding conversion and ordination of women.

“I’m very much in favor of the Chief Rabbinate, but there has to be a certain degree of pluralism for the rabbis,” Riskin, who draws a salary from the Rabbinate, told JTA. “It’s important for the Chief Rabbinate to contain within itself a number of different halachic ways.”

The Chief Rabbinical Council, the Rabbinate’s governing body, summoned Riskin to a June 29 hearing to discuss his reappointment as rabbi of Efrat, a town he co-founded in 1983. A spokesman for the Religious Services Ministry, Daniel Bar, told JTA the hearing is part of a process all municipal rabbis age 75 or older must undergo in order to review their health. Riskin is 75.

But Riskin believes the Rabbinate may use the hearing as a pretext to dismiss him.

An American immigrant originally from New York, Riskin supports a government decision from last November that allowed Israel’s municipal rabbis to perform state-sanctioned conversions. For years preceding the decision, Riskin had performed conversions privately. The Rabbinate has come out publicly against the government decision and has yet to recognize Riskin’s conversions.

“I remain very optimistic that the Chief Rabbinate will understand that we’re facing a time bomb with this problem of the Jews from the former Soviet Union,” Riskin said, referring to Israeli immigrants from the Soviet Union who do not qualify as Jewish according to traditional Jewish law. “We can do a wonderful job converting the children as well as the adults in a warm and welcoming fashion.”

Since he received rabbinic ordination more than 50 years ago, Riskin has been a leader in pushing the limits of Jewish law within the modern Orthodox community. He took over Manhattan’s Lincoln Square Synagogue in 1964, transforming it into a modern Orthodox hub focused on outreach. Two decades later, he moved to Israel and co-founded Efrat, today an 8,000-person bedroom community near Jerusalem with a mixed religious-secular population.

Riskin’s network of educational institutions, Ohr Torah Stone, runs modern Orthodox schools from junior high through graduate programs. The network includes the first school to train women as advocates in Israeli rabbinical courts, as well as Midreshet Lindenbaum, a women’s Jewish studies college in Jerusalem.

In addition to conversion, Riskin has been an outspoken advocate of women’s Torah study. He created a five-year program to train women as Jewish legal authorities on par with rabbis. In February, he appointed Jennie Rosenfeld, who will graduate the program next year, as Efrat’s first female “manhiga ruhanit,” or spiritual leader.

“There’s a moral conviction that he has to his vision of Judaism, an imperative that he feels in bringing that to the world,” Rosenfeld told JTA.

Riskin insists that his conversion process, while more welcoming to converts than the Rabbinate’s, is still done according to Jewish law. That could be part of the Rabbinate’s problem, says Rabbi David Stav, head of the modern Orthodox rabbinical organization Tzohar, who says the Rabbinate views halachic dissent as a challenge greater even than the corruption scandals that have plagued the Rabbinate.

“They won’t remove a rabbi from his position because they saw him break Shabbat or because he’s suspected in some case,” said Stav, who ran unsuccessfully as a reformist candidate for chief rabbi last year. “But a rabbi suspected, God forbid, of conversions different than those accepted in the Chief Rabbinate?” Stav said sardonically, “That’s a reason to take him out.”

Riskin’s allies have closed ranks behind him following the Rabbinate’s summons. Avigdor Liberman, the head of the Yisrael Beiteinu political party and former Israeli foreign minister, weighed in on Riskin’s behalf. From America, liberal Orthodox Rabbis Avi Weiss and Shmuel Herzfeld sent a letter to Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer protesting the summons.

In an email to JTA, the Rabbinical Council of America’s executive vice president, Rabbi Mark Dratch, said, “While the RCA does not agree with every action of the Chief Rabbinate, we support the Chief Rabbinate as the official religious body of Israel. We are certain that, together with Rabbi Riskin, they will find a way to support his continued work as Chief Rabbi of Efrat.”

Efrat’s local government council passed a unanimous resolution Monday calling on the Rabbinate to reappoint Riskin. Ne’emanei Torah v’Avodah, an Israeli modern Orthodox group that supports rabbinate reform, is organizing a public demonstration of support for Riskin in late June.

If the Rabbinate dismisses Riskin, Tzohar will stop cooperating with the Rabbinate, Stav said.

“I ask myself a lot, why do I still support this institution?” Stav said. “I still want to do everything for this institution to improve and succeed, but not at any price.”

Riskin has remained defiant, telling JTA that he will continue as Efrat’s chief rabbi regardless of the Chief Rabbinate’s decision. But he hopes the Rabbinate will recognize that his positions, while innovative, fall well within the spectrum of Jewish law.

“Throughout Jewish history, especially regarding conversion, there have been two schools — the lenient school and the more stringent school,” he said. “The people of Israel are crying out for the more lenient school.”

This new website wants to prevent pro-Palestinian activists from getting jobs [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

Protesters urging sanctions against Israel at a rally in Melbourne, Australia, June 5, 2010. (Wikimedia Commons)

Protesters urging sanctions against Israel at a rally in Melbourne, Australia, June 5, 2010. (Wikimedia Commons)

Take a pro-Palestinian activist, any one. Perhaps he or she has participated in Students for Justice in Palestine events on a college campus or advocated for divesting from Israel in a public forum. Now…

…[I]magine this same girl a few years later. She has finished her degree in Anthropology and is looking for a job in academia, or business, or anywhere, for that matter… Her resume reflects her impressive GPA, the time she spent teaching kids to read, and her summers visiting family in the Middle East. There is no mention of the three years she spent as president of SJP, on the board of her university’s MSA chapter, or spearheading the BDS movement on her campus. There is no link to her videos showing her spewing venom at pro-Israel students…

In this day and age of the internet[sic], researching potential employees is easy. One can google [sic] a name or search someone on Facebook and have access to a prospective employees private life. But all too often, when there are fifty prospective employees, so many resumes to wade through, and candidates that are seemingly highly qualified, intensive background research might fall by the wayside. And this is a problem…There is no recourse for spending endless hours relentlessly calling for the destruction of Israel…

The language above is taken straight from the Canary Mission website, whose founders have proved difficult to track down. As Josh Nathan-Kazis describes in a piece in the Forward, the group’s philosophy seems to be that pro-Palestinian or anti-Israel activists should be barred from getting jobs because of their political beliefs. The site is a database of individuals and organizations that the site’s founders find “anti-Freedom,” “anti-American” and “anti-Semitic.” Individuals on the list include Omar Barghouti, one of the founders of the BDS movement, and Hatem Bazian, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Several are college students or recent graduates, and their pages on the site include several detailed paragraphs on their activism histories and links to their social media profiles. The list of organizations is even more diverse, and includes Jewish Voice for Peace, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood alongside blogs such as Mondoweiss and Ali Abunimah’s Electronic Intifada. All appear to be linked with some level of criticism of Israel.

Nathan-Kazis quotes Daniel Pipes, president of the conservative Middle East Forum think tank, who betrays his involvement by saying “Factually documenting who one’s adversaries are and making this information available is a perfectly legitimate undertaking” – but no founders, donors or employees are listed on the site. So, as Nathan-Kazis points out, while Canary Mission is dedicated to publicizing detailed information about specific individuals, the founders of Canary Mission will not disclose their own identities.

It’s also unclear what types of jobs Canary Mission wants to prevent these activists from getting – they probably won’t be applying for a job at AIPAC anytime soon.

Indian ice cream cones named for Adolf Hitler [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

(JTA) — Indian ice cream lovers are putting their favorite treat in a cone named after Adolf Hitler.

The boxes of Hitler ice cream cones bear the unsmiling image of the Nazi leader dressed in a military uniform. The cones are available throughout India, the Daily Mail reported.

The newspaper said the name of the cones is not shocking to Indians because of the lack of Holocaust education in the country.

In 2012, municipal authorities in the Indian state of Gujarat removed the sign for a men’s clothing store named Hitler. The sign — on which the letter “i” was dotted with a swastika — was removed after hundreds of complaints from both within and outside of the Jewish community.

A year earlier, an Indian network premiered a daily soap opera called “Hitler Didi,” or “Auntie Hitler,” in which the lead character is a young woman known in her locality as a strict disciplinarian who takes a no-nonsense attitude with her family.

 

Season 3 Episode 9 [Linux Voice Podcast]

In this episode: Scandal at SourceForge. Confusion at Kubuntu. Fanfare for Fedora but Misery for Mandriva. Plus fabulous finds, neurotic neurons and missives from the masses.

NHK WORLD RADIO JAPAN - English News at 21:01 (JST), May 28 [English News - NHK WORLD RADIO JAPAN]

Church, laws against Tongan PM's idea for CEDAW referendum [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

Tonga's Catholic Church says it is unlikely there will be a referendum on whether the country should ratify a controversial women's rights convention.

HIV treatment rethought as new Papuan data shows massive infection rate [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

The treatment of HIV may be about to change, thanks to the results of a major international trial that contradicts current medical guidelines.

Taser debate begins in Fiji under cloud of police brutality [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

Fiji's police commissioner has floated the idea of arming some of his officers with tasers.

Australia's Frontier Resources teams up with Gold Ridge landowners for mine restart [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

Small Australian mineral exploration company Frontier Resources says it has created a new model of Melanesian resource ownership with Solomon Islands landowners.

Music 101 Pocket Edition 40 [RNZ: Music 101]

SJD's  HQ, Faith No More's new album, Carb on Carb defend emo, and Heavy take us inside their kush mansion.

LPFM Watch: Missoula Community Radio, Radio Bristol, and Lompac Station Prepare to Launch [Radio Survivor]

This was probably the slowest week at the FCC in regards to low power FM (LPFM) actions since we began our weekly LPFM Watch column. No new LPFM construction permits were granted, leaving the grand total from the fall 2013 application window at 1,857. Two applications were dismissed: for Harbor Light Broadcasting (South Bend, Indiana) […]

The post LPFM Watch: Missoula Community Radio, Radio Bristol, and Lompac Station Prepare to Launch appeared first on Radio Survivor.

[Video] AFL-CIO Boss to Hillary: Support Us On Trade or Else. [RedState]

As Cute As Always

For a long time, AFL-CIO boss Richard Trumka’s support for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has been “lukewarm.” Trumka’s preferred candidate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) 0% [D-MA], has stated she’s not running for President (so far.).

However, in order to garner the labor federation’s endorsement for 2016, it seems that one of Trumka’s big litmus tests is whether or not Clinton will back labor’s opposition to President Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

In a video posted on Real Clear Politics, Trumka drew a bright line in the sand for Hillary Clinton.

RICHARD TRUMKA: I don’t know [where Hillary Clinton stands on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement]. She is going to have to answer that. She won’t be able to go through a campaign without answering that. And people take it seriously and it will affect whether they vote for her or do not vote for her.

She may not know whether it is a good deal or not, but she’ll get a chance to read it, and when she does she will have to declare one way or the other. Support it or she won’t support it, she either believes in fast track or she doesn’t.

What if Hillary supports the TPP?

TRUMKA: It would be tougher to mobilize working people. It will be tougher to get them excited and working, out there door-knocking and leafleting. And phone banking and all the things that are going to be necessary for her if she is the candidate.

And we would endorse her, this would make it far more difficult.

Well you aren’t going to support Republicans?

TRUMKA: Well, there is another alternative as well, we could not endorse for president. That is conceivable. If both candidates weren’t interested in raising wages and creating jobs. If neither one had a program that we were convinced they would fight for, not just a poll-tested slogan, but an actual agenda they will fight for.

If we are convinced that neither candidate has that, I think we would spend our money elsewhere. Probably on Senate and Congressional candidates and governors and statehouses where we would have a much greater effect.

It doesn’t get much clearer than that. We’ll see whether or not Hillary pledges support for labor’s position or, more likely, she delays talking about it until TPP is a done deal.

Related:

___________________
“Truth isn’t mean. It’s truth.”
Andrew Breitbart (1969-2012)

Cross-posted on LaborUnionReport.com

The post [Video] AFL-CIO Boss to Hillary: Support Us On Trade or Else. appeared first on RedState.

Nicholas Kristof tries the Otter Defense on behalf of the Clintons. [RedState]

Start off by reading this:

I’ve admired the Clintons’ foundation for years for its fine work on AIDS and global poverty, and I’ve moderated many panels at the annual Clinton Global Initiative. Yet with each revelation of failed disclosures or the appearance of a conflict of interest from speaking fees of $500,000 for the former president, I have wondered: What were they thinking?

But the problem is not precisely the Clintons. It’s our entire disgraceful money-based political system.

Now watch this.

For those who do not have access to YouTube, this is of course Otter’s Speech from Animal House:

Ladies and gentlemen, I’ll be brief. The issue here is not whether we broke a few rules, or took a few liberties with our female party guests – we did. But you can’t hold a whole fraternity responsible for the behavior of a few, sick twisted individuals. For if you do, then shouldn’t we blame the whole fraternity system? And if the whole fraternity system is guilty, then isn’t this an indictment of our educational institutions in general? I put it to you, Greg – isn’t this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but we’re not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America.

You know, I didn’t realize when I woke up this morning that’d I would be writing a piece that had to point out that Animal House is not a good rhetorical template for a New York Times author to use. Then again, I imagine that Nicholas Kristof didn’t wake up a few days ago expecting that he’d end up using said template, so I suppose that that’s a wash.  Still… really?  This is going to be what they’re going to go with? “The way that all that dirty money was prancing around and showing everybody its denominations, it was just asking to be grabbed?” I tremble for the Republic.

No, not because of corrupt politicians.  We’ve had to deal with those, right from the start.  But we’ve never had a more useless set of political pundits.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

The post Nicholas Kristof tries the Otter Defense on behalf of the Clintons. appeared first on RedState.

George Pataki runs for president as the WTF?? candidate [RedState]

pataki running

Great news. I know you’ve all been waiting for this.

George Pataki, a three-term governor of New York, on Thursday joined a crowded field of Republican presidential candidates where he has little name recognition and will have to prove his conservative credentials.

Pataki invoked Republican Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan in his announcement speech in Exeter, N.H. and said he was running to “preserve and protect” the freedoms of working Americans.

Noting his own rise from a modest background, he added: “It is that promise of opportunity … that I want to restore for every child in America today.”

One wonders what Pataki thinks he brings to the race. His only constituency are those pining not only for the fjords but for an establishment squish running to the left of Chris Christie and Jeb Bush. Personally, I see little to like about the man.

“Defeating Islamic terror, shrinking government and growing the economy. These are the issues that matter most. Instead, we’re debating social issues like abortion and gay rights. They’re a distraction and will only help elect Hillary. After eight years of Obama-style socialism, we need to shrink government – not let big government tells us how to live our lives,” Mr. Pataki says in a new campaign video.

While he is running on a 2001-esque theme of “tough on terrorism,” we need to remember that this is the guy who vetoed a specialty New York license plate commemorating 9/11 because the same bill would have established a “Choose Life” license plate and signed a bill requiring all New York hospitals, including religious ones, to issue the “morning after” pill.

There is no evidence that Pataki did anything to shrink government while governor of New York and there is no reason to think that his current conversion to a fiscal conservative is anything but cynical opportunism.

A couple of years ago I was traveling in Upstate New York and spent the night in the beautifully restored art deco Hotel Utica. On the door to Room 506 I found this plaque.

pataki utica

I immediately assumed it was a warning sign, like that a bonobo might have in a zoo or the one on Hannibal Lecter’s cell, to not disturb what was locked behind the door. My first thought was that ‘the wheels of justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine.’ That it was only fitting after the damage George Pataki wrought on the New York Republican party that he be confined for the remainder of his life in a hotel room in Utica. Alas that was not the case. He wasn’t dead, he was only sleeping.

The post George Pataki runs for president as the WTF?? candidate appeared first on RedState.

Clinton Foundation hit with RICO lawsuit [RedState]

clinton foundation

Beautiful. Someone has finally called Bill and Hillary Clinton and their slush fund Foundation what they are: racketeers.

Bill and Hillary  Clinton and the Clinton Foundation have been hit with a racketeering lawsuit in Florida court.

The lawsuit, filed by Larry Klayman of Freedom Watch, includes a legal request to have the Florida judge seize the private server on which Hillary Clinton and her aides hosted their emails while she served as secretary of state.

Klayman has filed dozens of lawsuits against the Clintons and other prominent politicians.

The racketeering, influenced and corrupt organizations, or RICO, case alleges the former first couple and their family philanthropy traded political favors for donations or generous speaking fees for Bill Clinton while his wife was the nation’s chief diplomat.

“Negotiations by email about influencing U.S. foreign policy or U.S. Government actions to benefit donors to … The Clinton Foundation or sponsors of speaking engagements would not be captured on a U.S. Government email account because her emails would not be with a U.S. Government official,” Klayman said in court documents obtained by the Washington Examiner.

I don’t know if Klayman can make this stick.

RICO also permits a private individual “damaged in his business or property” by a “racketeer” to file a civil suit. The plaintiff must prove the existence of an “enterprise”. The defendant(s) are not the enterprise; in other words, the defendant(s) and the enterprise are not one and the same.[3] There must be one of four specified relationships between the defendant(s) and the enterprise: either the defendant(s) invested the proceeds of the pattern of racketeering activity into the enterprise; or the defendant(s) acquired or maintained an interest in, or control over, the enterprise through the pattern of racketeering activity; or the defendant(s) conducted or participated in the affairs of the enterprise “through” the pattern of racketeering activity; or the defendant(s) conspired to do one of the above.[4] In essence, the enterprise is either the ‘prize,’ ‘instrument,’ ‘victim,’ or ‘perpetrator’ of the racketeers.[5]

He seems to be hanging his hat on using long time Clinton henchcritter, Cheryl Mills’, lying to a federal judge about the existence of email’s Klayman had requested under FOIA. Not being a lawyer, and not even playing one on the internet, I don’t know if this will pass the smell test. If it isn’t dismissed it will be interesting to have Bill and Hillary Clinton give depositions on their obvious influence peddling while Hillary runs for president. Even if Larry Klayman is using it as a fundraising gimmick it will be great theater.

 

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Follow the Money: Boeing [RedState]

Some companies create such a successful business model that they are able to develop financing arms dedicated to creating more opportunities to bring their product to market.  However, some companies have the good fortune of having a dedicated bank backed by the full faith and credit of the American taxpayer.

There has been much in the news about the Export-Import bank in recent months, and unsurprisingly, Boeing has become the lead advocate for the re-authorization of Ex-Im’s charter that is due to expire on June 30th of this year.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the bank has been labeled as “Boeing’s Bank” due to the billions in financing that the government agency has provided the aerospace company in recent years.   Last year, Boeing received over 68% of Ex-Im’s long-term guarantees and 40% of the total authorizations. Despite claims that Ex-Im exists to help small businesses, those entities only accounted for 25% of the authorizations.

Boeing is a global leader in aerospace and defense and they have contributed in multiple ways to the betterment of our country and our economy.  In fact, 2nd Vote’s research on Boeing shows that they are not particularly ideological across the board when it comes to policy advocacy. (Boeing does match employee contributions to Planned Parenthood, but they are generally neutral on most issues.)

However, the relationship between Boeing and the Ex-Im Bank illustrates the reasons why conservatives need to hold large companies to the principles of the free market as opposed to corporate cronyism where the government is picking winners and losers.  Boeing, and its advocacy for the Ex-Im Bank, is a prime example of a corporation that can leverage its size and resources to pursue its own interests.

According to the New York Times, Boeing has spent $69 million since 2012 lobbying Congress in part to continue Ex-Im’s operations. The Times also documented the activism coordinated by Boeing and its allies who “flooded the halls of Congress” and “mobilized dozens of Boeing suppliers and other small companies to knock on Capitol Hill doors, call lawmakers and generally do the public work that the biggest recipients of Ex-Im help… avoid.”

Boeing isn’t just engaging in policy advocacy, the aerospace company has a history of using its political connections to secure favorable results. The Washington Free Beacon reports that Boeing made a $900,000 donation to the Clinton Foundation just months after then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton helped secure a $3.7 million purchase of Boeing aircraft by a Russian airline. Another tie to the Clinton family comes through the Podesta Group, co-founded by Clinton’s 2016 Campaign Chairman John Podesta, which was hired in 2012 to lobby for the Ex-Im re-authorization on behalf of Boeing. Clinton’s support for the Ex-Im Bank is well-documented, especially when it comes to Clinton Foundation donors.

Boeing’s activity and advocacy suggest that company will continue to push for handouts at the expense of the taxpayer. Naturally, conservatives want businesses to flourish, and Boeing is no exception. They are a great American success story. However, free-market principles should not be sacrificed for handouts to the well-connected in the form of corporate welfare.

Large corporations like Boeing need to be held to the same standards that we hold small businesses and individuals.

Chris Walker is the Executive Director of 2nd Vote, a conservative shopper app. To find out more, download the free app or visit 2ndVote.com.

The post Follow the Money: Boeing appeared first on RedState.

The Believer in the Public Square [RedState]

On May 16, 2015, I gave my first sermon at the Apologetics.com conference in Chicago, IL. I have the audio now of it and wanted to share that with you.

The text as presented a few weeks ago differs from the sermon as delivered.

You can listen at your own place via Soundcloud. The audio is also embedded in this post.

The post The Believer in the Public Square appeared first on RedState.

Has “The War on Poverty” Worked? [RedState]

Download Podcast | iTunes | Podcast Feed

On today’s edition of Coffee and Markets, Brad Jackson is joined by Andrew Quinn to talk about the War on Poverty, competing numbers on its effectiveness, and music legend B.B. King.

Related Links:

Obama, conservative writer debate poverty policy
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) 67%: A New Direction in the War on Poverty
BB King honoured with Memphis street procession
Andrew Quinn at The Federalist

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The hosts and guests of Coffee and Markets speak only for ourselves, not any clients or employers.

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Obama 2012: I Ended The War. Obama 2015: Only The USA Patriot Act Can Save Us! [RedState]

He's Here To save Us!

He’s Here To save Us!

President Barack Obama bragged during his 2012 Reelection Campaign that he ended the war in Iraq. GM alive, Bin Laden dead, Barack Obama 2012! Barack Obama was dismissive when told that threats still remained. He initially described ISIS as “the JV.” For all who would listen he loudly proclaimed a victory for peace. Now that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) 82% is demanding a peace dividend in the form of reduced governmental surveillance authority; the president wants The USA Patriot Act renewed by 12 am next Monday.

You see, Senator Paul is blocking votes on The USA Freedom Act which would reauthorize the USA Patriot Act in its entirety. He doesn’t sound particularly interested in making a deal, unless he gets majority votes on amendments aimed at gutting certain parts of the aforementioned Patriot Act that he feels jeopardize individual rights that are enumerated in the 4th Amendment to The US Constitution. Paul describes his inner feelings about The Patriot Act below.

“Five days,” Paul wrote in a Tuesday message to supporters. “That’s how long you and I have until the U.S. Senate meets in a rare Sunday session on May 31st where surveillance state apologists will do everything they can to RAM through an extension of the so-called ‘PATRIOT Act’s’ ILLEGAL and unconstitutional domestic spying programs. I’m not backing down. I’m not going to compromise. I’m going to stand and fight until the very last moment — regardless of the smears and attacks I face,” Paul wrote in the email.

President Obama suddenly seemed a whole lot less chipper about all the world peace he had ushered in by withdrawing from Iraq. It was almost as if the Arab Spring has raised a bumper crop of mosquitoes and skunk cabbages. The President stressed the urgency of protecting us from all the threats he claimed to have eradicated while seeking his second term in office.

“I strongly urge the Senate to work through this recess and make sure that they identify a way to get this done. Keep in mind that the most controversial provision in there, which had to do with the gathering of telephone exchanges in a single government database — that has been reformed in the USA Freedom Act. But you have a whole range of authorities that are also embodied in the Patriot Act that are non-controversial, that everybody agrees are necessary to keep us safe and secure. Those also are at risk of lapsing. So this needs to get done. And I would urge folks to just work through whatever issues can still exist, make sure we don’t have, on midnight Sunday night, this task still undone, because it’s necessary to keep the American people safe and secure.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) 100% has stated that the Senate version of The USA Freedom Act might as well be taken out behind the barn and killed with an ax.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) 55%’s proposal to plug the so-called ‘holes’ in the USA FREEDOM Act is dead-on-arrival in the House. His bill is not stronger on national security, it is just much weaker on civil liberties. This is nothing more than a last-ditch effort to kill the USA FREEDOM Act, which passed the House 338-88. If the Senate coalesces around this approach, the result will be the expiration of important authorities needed to keep our country safe,” the Wisconsin Republican said in a statement.

I’m not even entirely sure if Senator Paul is correct in his assessment of The Freedom Act’s problems, but I’m enjoying the fact that The White House is now practically begging the US Senate to protect them from all of their magnificent foreign policy victories. Now Senator Paul should make Barack Obama explain just what these threats are that he needs the USA Freedom Act to save us all from. Let’s hear what ails The Mighty Lightbringer. What threats could still prevail after our smart, wonderful and coruscatingly brilliant Secretary of State John Kerry followed in the hallowed footsteps of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s reset button? I guess Senator Paul is asking us all why we don’t feel more safe these days….

The post Obama 2012: I Ended The War. Obama 2015: Only The USA Patriot Act Can Save Us! appeared first on RedState.

Rick Perry Approaches the Arena [RedState]

When the economy began to slide under George W. Bush and then cratered complete with Barack Obama entering the White House, Texas’s economy stayed strong. When the summer of recovery saw more and more Americans leaving the workforce, Texas saw more and more people going to work. In fact, if Texas were not a hotbed of economic activity in the past six years, Barack Obama would not be able to claim even the meager successes he claims because those successes belong not to him, but to Texas. And during all that time Texas was led by one man — Governor Rick Perry.

It was telling in 2012, before Perry began to stumble, that the national press corps poured out considerable ink to tell people that Perry really had nothing to do with Texas’s job growth. At the same time, liberal writers in Texas were telling anyone who would listen just what a Potemkin Village Perry was running. They were scared of his economic record compared to Obama’s.

All of this makes for the singular reason Republican voters should be compelled to take a second look at the man who left the stage in 2012 with an “oops.” Then, Perry suffering through the recovery of back surgery and the pain that went with it. Now he is suffering to tear out of the gate and show he is not the guy we saw on stage in 2012.

I spoke with Rick Perry for my radio program. He has an upcoming announcement on his intentions, but it is clear what he intends. We talked about those intentions, what he learned from 2012 (don’t campaign after back surgery), and how 2016 will be different.

One thing worth pointing out with Perry is the generational shift in the country. Rick Perry and, if he really runs, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) 55% will be the only candidates who have served in the military. For Perry, it goes beyond his own service. He also served as an engaged leader of Texas’s own national guard, sending it to the border to secure it when President Obama would not.

Of the candidates who have run before, Perry arguably has the best case for running again. He also has the most impressive jobs creation record of anyone who will run. But there is one other thing he has. Having been through the rodeo before, he has spent the last couple of years studying up preparing for his second rodeo. Whether the voters do take a second look at Perry is to be seen. But his record in Texas suggests they should.

You can hear my full interview with Governor Perry in the Soundcloud link above.

The post Rick Perry Approaches the Arena appeared first on RedState.

Tech at Night: Democrats and fellow travelers shut down more of the War on Terror [RedState]

Yeah, at this point Rand Paul is pretty much running as Hillary Clinton-lite. You see, through various intelligence programs, the US government is able to identify foreign terrorist organizations. When those terrorists then contact folks in the United States, we have legitimate reason to know who they’re talking to, so NSA has developed means of sifting that information.

And yet here we are, 13 and change years after 9/11, a “Republican” Rand Paul cheering with Democrat Barack Obama that they tag-teamed to kill the program.

USA PATRIOT was a huge bill with a lot going on. Some of it was possibly not a great idea. But applying modern big-data tools to find patterns in terrorist behavior was a great idea. Instead of fighting the last war, and trying to find the same pattern we saw last time, we were trying to find the next threat. Thanks Rand Paul, for fighting to give privacy for Russia, China, Iran, and the other Islamic State.

It is such a shame. In an era when actual creation of profiles of actual people is happening every day as firms like Google gather data and sell it to the highest bidder (as well as have it open to searches), the anti-American Ron Paulite fringe teamed up with Democrats to push scare stories.

See, what these technical ignoramuses aren’t telling you is that your data isn’t safe, your data isn’t protected one iota. All they did with this push was to stop the US government from tracking terrorists. Google’s going to keep gathering it. Governments are going to keep searching it, as well as private attackers.

Yeah, that’s right. Rand Paul and the Surrendercrat caucus are telling you one specific program fighting the new Axis of Evil has to be shut down, while instead we should be creating more tools to help the private sector fend off ongoing attacks America is enduring against new threats. Our data is under attack, and government should be collaborating with the private sector to share data on attacks. But no, we’re trying to stick our heads in the sand and gather less data.

It’s okay. It’s not like, while we’re playing ideological games as Presidential year politics, America’s enemies are still plotting against us or anything. It’ll never happen. Nobody would crash a plane into a building. Nobody would invade an embassy and kill the ambassador. Nobody would bomb a US warship. We’re fine. We’re totally safe. The War on Terror is over. Obama said so.


Why is a United States Senator targeting an industry? Let the market decide. People need information. Let them take their own risks. You take away options and people just will face less competition, and save less money. It’s shocking a Republican is talking like this.


We normally see winners and losers picking from Democrats, in matters like Net Neturality. Fortunately that may lose in court soon, because one of the worst parts of that bad deal is a war on poor people.


Don’t forget. Ever-increasing regulation of the type Obama and Grassley want costs us more in direct government spending, in addition to the greater economic burden we all face from it.

The post Tech at Night: Democrats and fellow travelers shut down more of the War on Terror appeared first on RedState.

Why Rick Santorum Matters [RedState]

Earlier today, Rick Santorum declared his candidacy for President of the United States. Santorum lost his re-election bid for the Senate in Pennsylvania in 2006. He has not held office since. There are a lot of people who wonder why Rick Santorum thinks he has a chance and why he is running. That reason comes from his debate performance in Mesa, AZ on February 22, 2012. I remember being at that venue for CNN. And I remember the crowd response to Santorum with just one answer. That answer lingered in the days after the debate.

Santorum had said something that baffled people about contraception and John King asked Santorum about it. Their exchange is captured in this transcript, but you need to hear Santorum’s voice on the relevant part. I’ve included the sound here. Here is the key part:

What we’re seeing is a problem in our culture with respect to children being raised by children, children being raised out of wedlock, and the impact on society economically, the impact on society with respect to drug use and all — a host of other things when children have children.

And so, yes, I was talking about these very serious issues. And, in fact, as I mentioned before, two days ago on the front page of “The New York Times”, they’re talking about the same thing. The bottom line is we have a problem in this country, and the family is fracturing.

Over 40 percent of children born in America are born out of wedlock. How can a country survive if children are being raised in homes where it’s so much harder to succeed economically? It’s five times the rate of poverty in single-parent households than it is in two-parent homes. We can have limited government, lower tax — we hear this all the time, cut spending, limit the government, everything will be fine. No, everything’s not going to be fine.

There are bigger problems at stake in America. And someone has got to go out there — I will — and talk about the things.

And you know what? Here’s the difference.

The left gets all upset. “Oh, look at him talking about these things.” You know, here’s the difference between me and the left, and they don’t get this. Just because I’m talking about it doesn’t mean I want a government program to fix it.

That’s what they do. That’s not what we do.

Cruz is the candidate of conservatives. Huckabee is making a play as the evangelical’s choice. Santorum is the guy who talks about the plight of collapsing families in a collapsed economy whose jobs are getting outsourced or taken by lower paid workers. He has been talking about this issue for years. He knows how to talk about the issue and he talks about it in a way that resonates with Americans, not just Republicans.

But there is a problem for Santorum here. He was Mike Huckabee’s replacement in 2012 — a proxy for a campaign that could have been. Huckabee is here now. And unlike Huckabee, Santorum could not win re-election in his home state of Pennsylvania and I highly doubt he could win it in 2016. Like Al Gore losing Tennessee and Mitt Romney losing Massachusetts, the odds are against Santorum, even with Pat Toomey predicted to win in 2016.

Likewise, Santorum is not the only candidate this time to address those issues and connect them to larger areas. Cruz talks about them. Huckabee talks about them. Jindal talks about them. Perry talks about them. Rubio talks about them. Walker talks about them. Bush talks about them. . . . You get the idea.

Santorum was a voice in the wilderness in 2012. Now he is one of many. He has to try to stand up and speak louder and more boldly than the others. Today, when he announced his campaign, he showed he got that. He was quite forceful and bold. Unfortunately for Santorum, his campaign last time became the evangelical/social-conservative campaign to stop Mitt Romney. Santorum’s star only rose after every other Romney alternative had risen, crested, and collapsed.

There’s no Mitt Romney this time for Santorum to run against. On top of that, Cruz, Rubio, Paul, Walker, and several of the other candidates have what Romney never did — their own cults of personality not readily willing to gravitate to Santorum to stop a Romney or a Bush. Santorum will need a different path, but he already has the message. As importantly, he also has the force of conviction in how he delivers his message. Authenticity counts on this particular issue and Santorum conveys in both tone and demeanor that he believes what he says on the collapse of the family.

Rick Santorum matters because of these family issues. But he does not matter in 2016 like he mattered in 2012. That just might be fatal to his candidacy.

The post Why Rick Santorum Matters appeared first on RedState.

Journalists: Do Your Job [RedState]

Partially based on this post by Caleb Howe and partially based on this Blake Hounshell tweet, I’ve got a quick thought for journalists: How about actually doing your jobs?

I get it, you don’t like people on the Internet and social media telling you to do your job and all, but considering I used to do the job, too, I actually know what I’m talking about. Your job, as a journalist, is to tell a story and inform your readers as to what is going on. So, yeah, if a thing like the Clinton Foundation has attracted misbehaving donors, then you do report on it. It’s big and speaks to the nature of the original scandal. If someone says something, you have an obligation to report it accurately and without bias.

Your job is not to tell people how to think. In a free and open society, your job is to inform readers and viewers so that they may form their own opinions. You keep your views in check while presenting the information. Is it near impossible to keep all bias out of a story? Admittedly, yes. But, if you bring up all points and lets readers and viewers decide for themselves, you have done your job.

Stop whining about having to do your job, then, and just do it. And don’t complain when you get called out on it, because either you messed up and need to fix it or you’re dealing with partisans. You don’t become partisan yourself, because then you lose all validity. If your editor is messing with your story and ruining the point of it, raise the question. “Why did you do that? That changes everything.” Yes, your editor is your boss, but if your boss is refusing to explain why, then your boss isn’t a good one.

Of course, to the average reader here at RedState, all journalists have lost their validity, and I understand the sentiment. However, I’m still very close with a lot of people in the field and they get absolutely frustrated with all of their work being called into questions simply because they chose a career they loved – and it does take a love of the job to keep doing it at the local level (the kids in the national media are different beasts altogether…).

The post Journalists: Do Your Job appeared first on RedState.

Bernie Sanders, Deodorant and Diversity [RedState]

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, now running for President as a Democrat (and thus forcing the Democrats to take some ownership of having had an avowed Socialist in their Senate caucus for the past decade plus) thinks that America’s children are starving due to too many brands of deodorant. No, really – here’s the full Q&A:

HARWOOD: If the changes that you envision in tax policy, in finance, breaking up the banks, were to result in a more equitable distribution of income, but less economic growth, is that trade-off worth making?

SANDERS: Yes. If 99 percent of all the new income goes to the top 1 percent, you could triple it, it wouldn’t matter much to the average middle class person. The whole size of the economy and the GDP doesn’t matter if people continue to work longer hours for low wages and you have 45 million people living in poverty. You can’t just continue growth for the sake of growth in a world in which we are struggling with climate change and all kinds of environmental problems. All right? You don’t necessarily need a choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants or of 18 different pairs of sneakers when children are hungry in this country. I don’t think the media appreciates the kind of stress that ordinary Americans are working on. People scared to death about what happens tomorrow. Half the people in America have less than $10,000 in savings. How do you like that? That means you have an automobile accident, you have an illness, you’re broke. How do you retire if you have less than $10,000, and you don’t have much in the way of Social Security?

Now, there’s a lot of things wrong with Sanders’ call for a return to the 90% top income tax rate – the best you can say is that he’s running for President because Yakov Smirnoff is getting desperately short on new material – but let’s focus specifically on that deodorant thing.

You know why America has so many brands of deodorant? Because we’re a very diverse country. Bernie Sanders, being a 73-year-old white guy from a 95% white state, may not know this, but women buy different deodorants than men do, and people of different racial and ethnic groups tend to have different needs and wants as well when it comes to deodorant, shaving cream, shampoo, sunscreen, etc. Race is an artificial category because it’s only skin deep, but hygiene is skin deep too, and people with different skin and hair have different needs to care for their skin and their hair and whatnot. (Ask any black man about his shaving needs, or any Irishman about sunburns, and you’ll know what I mean).

And here’s a more serious point about diversity: in a free market, it doesn’t matter if our political leaders don’t know this stuff. You can sell hair straighteners and respiration masks (hello, Chinese immigrants) and all sorts of things that cater to the different needs of different niche markets, and if some guy in a Senate office in Washington has no clue, that doesn’t matter. But the more the government gets involved in the economy, the more those kinds of local, neighborhood needs get forgotten because powerful people don’t know anybody who buys that stuff.

So leave the rest of us alone, Bernie Sanders. Your economic theories stink.

The post Bernie Sanders, Deodorant and Diversity appeared first on RedState.

May 27, 1941. Sinking of the Bismarck [RedState]

bismarck
On May 18, 1941 the Bismarck and her consort Prinz Eugen sortied from the Pomeranian port of Gotenhafen, present day Gdynia, Poland, to raid British commerce in the North Atlantic. The Bismarck, displacing some 50,000 tons, had been launched in 1939 and was a formidable combatant carrying 8 x 15 guns as her main battery. When she entered service on August 24, 1940 the only European warship larger than Bismarck was HMS Vanguard. On May 20, a Swedish cruiser, Gotland, sited the pair and the Swedes, being the good neutral power that they were, promptly informed the British. The British were predictably and understandably exercised.

The commander of the Home Fleet, Admiral Sir John Tovey, ordered the HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales and six destroyers to sortie to intercept Bismarck and Prinz Eugen. In late afternoon on May 23, HMS Suffolk spotted Bismarck and Prinz Eugen in the Denmark Strait, the body of water separating Iceland and Greenland. Suffolk reported this contact and shortly afterwards HMS Norfolk, also a cruiser, spotted them. Both Hood and Prince of Wales accelerated to intercept them.

At 5:45am on May 24 a lookout on Hood spotted the pair of German ships. At 5:52 Hood opened fire at a range of about 13 miles, in short order the Prince of Wales also opened fire. Bismarck and Prinz Eugen returned fire; Prinz Eugen struck Hood on her boat deck setting off a large fire in the ready-use ammunition. Not a big deal. But at 6am, Bismarck fired her fifth salvo from about 9.5 miles. One or more of the  eight 15-inch round hit Hood at a downward angle through her lightly armored deck and exploded in her magazine. Hood blew up and sank in three minutes. Only three of the 1,418 officers and men aboard survived.

Both Prinz Eugen and Bismarck turned their attention to Prince of Wales and her captain decided to break off the action at 6:05am.

In an effort to split up British forces, the German admiral, Guenther Luetjens, sent Prinz Eugen away to raid independently. The tactic didn’t work. The Home Fleet concentrated on Bismarck. What ensued was an epic chase with the Bismarck beset by Swordfish torpedo planes and leaking oil from its bunkers because of torpedo and gun damage and the Home Fleet running low on fuel and fearful of German U-boats.

On May 25, the British lost contact with Bismarck and near panic ensued. Signal intercepts were misplotted which showed the Bismarck heading back towards Norway. Finally, this was righted after the fleet had steamed in the wrong direction for seven hours. At 10:10am on May 26, a PBY Catalina launched from Lough Erne in Northern Ireland, piloted by US Navy Ensign Leonard B. Smith, spotted Bismarck. By late afternoon, the carrier HMS Ark Royal was within striking distance. The first wave mistook HMS Sheffield for Bismarck and attacked. Fortunately, the torpedoes had magnetic detonators which failed to function… and the crew of Sheffield had brown trousers. Ark Royal’s Swordfish torpedo planes rearmed, this time with torpedoes using old-school contact detonators, and launched at 7:10pm. At 8:47pm, they attacked Bismarck. One torpedo struck Bismarck amidships and resulted in minor flooding (minor being a matter of perspective). A second torpedo, launched by former London bus driver, John Moffat, struck the stern of Bismarck and jammed the rudder assembly. Bismarck could only turn to port, left.

At 9:40pm, Luetjens reported Bismarck could not be maneuvered. But darkness brought no respite.She was harassed by HMS Sheffield and the Polish destroyer ORP Piorun. Bismarck suffered no further damage but that was something of a hollow victory for the battleships HMS George V and HMS Rodney closed as the Bismarck cut a large circle in the North Atlantic. Around 8:47am on May 27, HMS Rodney opened fire at a range of about 14 miles. At 9:02am Rodney scored a hit which damaged Bismarck’s forward two turrets. By 9:31, Bismarck’s main battery was out of action. When Rodney and George V ceased fire at 10:20 they had fired over 700 rounds from their main battery, the last fired by Rodney were a range of under two miles.

Bismarck capsized at 10:35 and disappeared under the waves at 10:40.

The demise of the Bismarck effectively brought the German naval effort in World War II to an end.

The wreck of Bismarck was discovered in 1989:

The wreck of Bismarck was discovered on 8 June 1989 by Dr. Robert Ballard, the oceanographer responsible for finding RMS Titanic. Bismarck was found to be resting upright at a depth of approximately 4,791 m (15,719 ft),[129] about 650 km (400 mi) west of Brest. The ship struck an extinct underwater volcano, which rose some 1,000 m (3,300 ft) above the surrounding abyssal plain, triggering a 2 km (1.2 mi) landslide. Bismarck slid down the mountain, coming to a stop two-thirds down.[130]

Ballard’s survey found no underwater penetrations of the ship’s fully armoured citadel. Eight holes were found in the hull, one on the starboard side and seven on the port side, all above the waterline. One of the holes is in the deck, on the bow’s starboard side. The angle and shape indicates the shell that created the hole was fired from Bismarck‍ ’​s port side and struck the starboard anchor chain. The anchor chain has disappeared down this hole.[131] Six holes are amidships, three shell fragments pierced the upper splinter belt, and one made a hole in the main armour belt.[132] Further aft a huge hole is visible, parallel to the aircraft catapult, on the deck. The submersibles recorded no sign of a shell penetration through the main or side armour here, and it is likely that the shell penetrated the deck armour only.[133] Huge dents showed that many of the 14 inch shells fired by King George V bounced off the German belt armour.[134]

Ballard noted that he found no evidence of the internal implosions that occur when a hull that is not fully flooded sinks. The surrounding water, which has much greater pressure than the air in the hull, would crush the ship. Instead, Ballard points out that the hull is in relatively good condition; he states simply that “Bismarck did not implode.”[135] This suggests that Bismarck‍ ’​s compartments were flooded when the ship sank, supporting the scuttling theory.[136] Ballard added “we found a hull that appears whole and relatively undamaged by the descent and impact”. They concluded that the direct cause of sinking was scuttling: sabotage of engine-room valves by her crew, as claimed by German survivors.[137] Ballard kept the wreck’s exact location a secret to prevent other divers from taking artefacts from the ship, a practice he considered a form of grave robbing.[129]

The whole stern had broken away; as it was not near the main wreckage and as of 2015 had not been found, it can be assumed this did not occur on impact with the sea floor. The missing section came away roughly where the torpedo had hit, raising questions of possible structural failure.[138] The stern area had also received several hits, increasing the torpedo damage. This, coupled with the fact the ship sank “stern first” and had no structural support to hold it in place, suggests the stern detached at the surface. In 1942 Prinz Eugen was also torpedoed in the stern, which subsequently collapsed. This prompted a strengthening of the stern structures on all German capital ships.[137]

 

 

The post May 27, 1941. Sinking of the Bismarck appeared first on RedState.

Politico Smears Scott Walker With False Quote [RedState]

Politico today led the way in a virtual tidal wave of outragey outrage stories across the leftosphere trashing Scott Walker as some kind of monster because he thinks that laws mandating ultrasounds before abortions are “cool” and gosh doesn’t he just love rape.

Only that’s not rape. And, oh yeah, he didn’t even say that.

Yes once again the media and the left have coincidented the same error (that’s the word I made up to use in place of colluded on account of surely they don’t have some kind of email list together, right?) that magically makes Scott Walker out to be a woman-hating oppressor. Check out the screenshot from Politico.

WalkerQuote-Politico

And here is the Tweet:
WalkerQuote-PoliticoTweet

However, radio and television host Dana Loesch, who conducted the interview from which the misquote was misappropriated, has the actual story.

On the subject of abortion, Walker discussed mandatory ultrasounds prior to obtaining an abortion. In discussing the ultrasound images themselves, he described how he and his wife still have their sons’s images and that they are “cool”

That’s right. He was talking about ultrasounds in general being cool things. HOW SHOCKING!!! Here is the partial transcript from Dana:

“Most people I talk to, whether they’re pro-life or not, I find people all the time who’ll get out their iPhone and show me a picture of their grandkids’ ultrasound and how excited they are, so that’s a lovely thing. I think about my sons are 19 and 20, you know we still have their first ultrasound picture. It’s just a cool thing out there.”

Says Dana, “anyone with the reading comprehension of a dolphin knows that Walker was specifically describing ultrasound images, not the legislation itself.”

But who needs from reading. Here is the actual relevant portion of the interview on video:

Pretty blatantly amazingly clear.

Still, of course, that is not the end of the story. The fake quote rocketed around the leftnernet, with attendant outrage in abundance.

Huffington Post:

WalkerQuote-Huffpo

Jezebel:
WalkerQuote-Jezebel

And for the most amount of drama, who else but Salon:
WalkerQuote-Salon

Speaking of Salon, here is their opening paragraph:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has obviously never had a transvaginal sonogram. This observation is not based entirely on the likely Republican presidential candidate self-identifying as a man or his ostensible lack of a vagina, but also on Walker’s characterization of the procedure — which he agreed to mandate for Wisconsin women seeking abortion care — as “lovely.”

One would hardly expect Salon to know this, but literally billions of normal women, ie. women who don’t write for Salon, think a picture of their baby growing in the womb “is” a lovely thing. In fact, it is widely regarded as such from all areas of life, even pop culture.

But it wasn’t just media, we also had democrat politicians jumping in.
WalkerQuote-BoxerTweet

And of course Planned Parenthood:
WalkerQuote-PlannedParenthood

Planned Parenthood is staking out the same ground Salon is. They are suggesting that it is crazy to think ultrasounds are cool, period, regardless of context, law, choice, method, or procedure. Sure, that’s reasonable. Millions of teary-eyed parents seeing their child’s hands and feet for the first time are probably just idiots. You know?

OK, one more. Lest you think this website doesn’t matter, check their placement in search results. Look at the dudgeon here. Look at it!!
StateRape

Seriously. State rape. What is it the kids say? Oh yes, #SMH.

We could go on and on with the hysteria, the Tweets, the headlines and the screenshots. Talking Points Memo got in on it. Politico eventually changed their title. But what happened is clear: the leftosphere, like they did last week with Ted Cruz, have latched on to something that confirms their own biases and reported it as fact. They do so without checking it, without questioning it, and without any subtlety or logic or reason. They do it without regard for the truth and without regard for the greater principles that they find themselves attacking or supporting. This is what they do.

Scott Walker said it is cool to see a picture of an unborn child. He says this because it is so. It is a cool thing, and it is out there. The cold hard fact is you don’t have to be pro-life to agree with that. Maybe Salon doesn’t think women getting abortions should have to see the ultrasound. Surely there are a dozen writers here at RedState ready to argue that point. But that is not this argument. Surely Scott Walker will defend the pro-life position over the pro-choice position. But that also is not the this argument. No, this argument is simple.

Scott Walker said ultrasounds are cool, and the left media tried to say he said something different. That’s really all there is to it. Luckily the ever-vigilant Dana Loesch didn’t let it slip by.

Thanks to @mamaswati for some of the screenshots.





UPDATE 10:30PM
Think it has died down since Politico changed their headline? Since Dana posted her article? Since we posted ours? Think again. This came in via Dan McLaughlin. It’s a tweet from Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall, sent AFTER all of three of those things. Just about 15 minutes ago:
TPM

Yeup. There you go right there. The left, ladies and gentlemen. “Fake but true.”

The post Politico Smears Scott Walker With False Quote appeared first on RedState.

Clockwise 89: A Bunch of Dopes [Clockwise]

Quick reactions to the Google I/O keynote, including Google Photos, a focus on bug fixes, contextual machine intelligence, and searching for the next billion Internet users.

This episode of Clockwise is sponsored by:

  • Dashlane: A free cross-platform password manager. Get 30% off of a Dashlane premium upgrade.
  • Igloo: The Intranet you'll actually like!

Baby Boomers [Small Dead Animals]

Schools in the UK Are Now Asking Muslim Children to Fill Out "Counter-Extremism" Tests

We Don't Need No Flaming Sparky Cars [Small Dead Animals]

Understanding Tesla's Potemkin Swap Station

Tesla can't seem to keep its story straight. After presenting battery swap as a key technology and insisting that the number of vehicles participating in its swap program is "not like ten or something," the company now says a "very small percentage" of "hundreds" of invitees are participating.

Flashback!

This Is Not Your Grandma's Humane Society [Small Dead Animals]

Forward this one to your MLA and industry ministers: this is legislation worth checking into.

The Property Protection Act was passed to protect businesses from those who obtain a job to attack their employer. The bill's purpose is to make it unlawful to seek employment at a business if you have no intention of holding the job, but are instead using the position for (what essentially amounts to) espionage.

While the bill applies to all industries in North Carolina, HSUS is taking this very personally because it will potentially outlaw one of its favorite pastimes--sneakily getting hired onto farms and surreptitiously shooting video.

The Canadian Left's Poster Boy for 2015 [Small Dead Animals]

Okay class, let's repeat this year's mantra at Leftist Prep School:

"Stephen Harper is a terrible, evil man who we must hate & far. Omar Khadr is an innocent young victim and therefore a hero to all oppressed people. Stephen bad, Omar good, Stephen bad ...."

omar-khadr-out-of-the-shadows.png

Source <- Nausea alert

Update: Charles Adler interviews Michelle Shephard, the journolist journalist deeply involved in this "documentary". You decide whether she's objective, has Stockholm Syndrome, or wants to date Khadr. One thing's for sure, she's on a crusade and using your tax dollars to fund it!

"Knowing what we know now" [Small Dead Animals]

Or - forgetting what they knew then.

In the Taliban slave-state where Afghanistan used to be, thousands of jihadists from Chechnya, Libya, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Kashmir and elsewhere were attending to their exercises in training camps strewn across the landscape in the days before 9-11. Do we really need to run a fan-fiction contest to imagine how that situation would have played out had we all listened to Noam Chomsky and stayed out of it?

As for Iraq, there is a kind of wilful amnesia demanded by the revisionist orthodoxy that "what we know now" is that the world would be a better place if Saddam Hussein had been left unmolested in Baghdad. We know no such thing because we can't know. But there is something more enfeebling than mere memory loss at work in the pernicious and widely-held misapprehension that the entire Iraqi regime-change escapade was trumped up on a Bush administration "lie" that Saddam possessed WMDs.

It wasn't even the Bush administration that committed the United States to shifting the Baathist nightmare out of Baghdad. It was the Clinton administration and the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998.

An excellent piece by Terry Glavin.

Y2Kyoto: I'll Miss The Polar Ice Caps [Small Dead Animals]

@SteveSGoddard - Two decades of unprecedented melting has left Arctic sea ice almost identical to 20 years ago.

ice.jpg

(Note: snow cover data not currently updating)

Reader Tips [Small Dead Animals]

When tonight's video was first posted on YouTube, Larvik Håndballklubb, a women's handball team from the Norwegian city of Larvik, hadn't lost a match in over eleven years. Tonight, we see how they handle the far more challenging game of Electroshock Handball.

(Note: If you don't speak Fjordy you'll want to click on the closed captioning button under the video.)

The comments are open for your Reader Tips.

ALA releases new Digital Futures report [TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics]

digital-library.jpgThe American Library Association (ALA) has announced the release of a special e-content supplement to its house magazine American Libraries, entitled Digital Futures, and available here. The 44-page supplement, ALA’s fifth such publication, presents innovation options and case studies for libraries embracing digital initiatives.

“The library community needs more proactive advocacy for information policy,” argues Alan Inouye, director of ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy, and guest editor of the supplement. “Being on offense includes both taking action and planning for future action.” Inouye is also co-author of a concluding article whose title, “A Policy Revolution for Digital Content,” sums up much of the focus of the entire supplement. Other titles include “Empowering Libraries to Innovate,” “The National Digital Platform for Libraries and Museums,” and “Transforming the Library Profession.”

Adds  ALA President Courtney Young, “I’m so pleased to see story after story about librarians being proactive related to the opportunities and challenges presented by the digital revolution.”

This is probably just the kind of committed guidance that librarians and archive owners need to help find their direction among the various digital opportunities, as well as fight their corner against other interest groups such as the Big Five publishers now licensing their ebooks to libraries, as Inouye notes. And it’s available for free.

The post ALA releases new Digital Futures report appeared first on TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics.

Apple anti-trust monitor can stay on, appeals court rules [TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics]

My, the squabbles between Apple and the e-book anti-trust monitor Michael Bromwich have been going on for a long time, haven’t they? I can’t even keep track of how many shots and volleys have been fired back and forth. The latest news out of the case involves the appeal of Judge Cote’s decision not to disqualify Bromwich. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals declined to reverse Cote’s decision, so Bromwich stays on.

Circuit Judge Dennis Jacobs found that some of Bromwich’s behavior (such as submitting an affidavit in conjunction with the plaintiffs’ legal brief) might be a little sketchy, but neither that nor Bromwich’s billing rate, “rich as it may be,” were sufficient grounds to disqualify him. U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman criticized Apple for waiting to bring up these issues while the relationship with the monitor steadily deteriorated.

This pretty neatly dashes the hopes of those who complain that Cote and Bromwich are corrupt, picking on poor old defenseless Apple. (Funny that the complaints Apple raised did not include the Wall Street Journal’s allegations of improper nepotistic behavior on Cote’s part by appointing him, isn’t it? It’s almost as if they knew those accusations wouldn’t fly.)

This case continues to provide a marvelous dose of schadenfreude almost every time something new comes to light. I look forward to seeing where it goes next.

The post Apple anti-trust monitor can stay on, appeals court rules appeared first on TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics.

Getting Ready to Camp Without Power (sort of) [TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics]

camping

Like our new tent?

I know. First world problem. Camping is supposed to be getting back to nature and unplugging, so why is camping without power even something to write about?

Because my husband and I have grown to depend on our gadgets for both life and entertainment. Yesterday, my husband said, “I’m not sure this camping without power thing is going to work out.”

A tiny bit of context. We used to camp in a trailer, and we’ve almost always selected camp sites with electric (though we routinely got along without a water hook up). Last year, after some trouble with the truck we used to tow the camper, we sold both it and the truck, bought a Honda Civic (yeah fuel efficiency!) and decided to go back to tent camping.

Our iPads were boon companions, serving as books, movie players (there’s nothing quite like curling up in the camper with a movie during a rain shower) and yes, even as gaming devices. Last year, I purchased a Paperwhite, in part for better reading outdoors, but my husband stuck to his iPad and hugged the shade. After we sold the camper, I convinced him to get his own Paperwhite, and this will be our first extended trip without easy access to power.

Now don’t get me wrong. We will have some power. All those external batteries I’ve been receiving as review samples will get plenty of use, especially the one which doubles as a camping light. We are taking one iPad because we like to play paper-based RPGs while camping, and we only have the rules in PDF form, so the iPad will be used to look up rules. (No laughing. This is important stuff!) The plan is to use the iPad in a limited fashion, and we’ll hopefully need to recharge it only once, if at all. One battery is reserved for the iPad.

Most of the rest will be used to keep phones charged. My HTC One has been a power hog lately (although it seems to be getting better), so we’re thinking most of the supplemental power will go to it. If it misbehaves, I may just turn it off most of the time and only turn it on a few times a day to process email.

We’ll reserve one for Kindles. If I read as much as I hope to, I might need to top mine off. I would like to take my new Fire (which I have grown to love), but it requires too much juice, so it’s staying home.

Of course, I’m sure we’ve completely over-planned this, and we will come back with mostly charged batteries. Which is a pretty good problem to have.

Here’s hoping we like the freeze-dried food we purchased. Losing our stove and fridge may be the bigger adjustment.

The post Getting Ready to Camp Without Power (sort of) appeared first on TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics.

Might subscriptions be the best option for tech news? [TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics]

Not long after I posted my essay about how hard it is to make any money blogging, Bloomberg View has an article showing that even the major tech industry blogs face the same problem. Noting that Kara Swisher and Walter Mossberg’s Re/Code just sold itself to The Verge operator Vox Media after only 18 months, Bloomberg columnist Katie Benner suggests that the subscription or paywall model might be a better strategy for tech news sites in the long run.

According to the article, Re/Code is only able to pull in 1.5 million unique views per month—not enough to satisfy its advertisers. (For comparison, GigaOm still pulls in 80,000 hits per day—that’s 2.5 million per month—despite having produced no new content in three months.) But subscription services—Benner uses the examples of The Information ($399/year) and Stratechery ($100/year)—aren’t reliant on low-revenue ads.

[Stratechery’s Ben] Thompson wanted to avoid the scale and high overhead necessary to run an ad-based business. “At $100, my revenue per user is really high,” he says. By comparison, the research firm eMarketer says that the average CPM — or the cost-per-thousand viewers that advertisers pay — was about $11 in the first quarter of 2014, and this masks the much lower rates that display ads command. Thompson says: “Instead of getting lots of customers, I maximize the revenue from the customers who really like what I do.”

Paywalls take a lot of flak for walling readers off from the content, and often seem to be hit or miss for publications that try to hit the mass market. Recent years have seen papers like the Dallas Morning News and the Toronto Star take their paywalls down. But for publications that intentionally eschew the mass market and focus on delivering content that a small core of customers will find valuable enough to pay for, it seems as though subscriptions could be a better strategy.

The post Might subscriptions be the best option for tech news? appeared first on TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics.

GigaOm to return, possibly as content farm [TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics]

Back in March, tech news site GigaOm shut down due to bankruptcy. However, it appears to be lurching zombie-like back from the grave. And just as with zombies, it sounds as though the resurrection may be a significant step down from the original incarnation.

The only real public information available about the purchase comes in the form of a rather self-serving press release posted to the GigaOm site, stating that tech entrepreneur and author Byron Reese’s startup Knowingly Corp has bought the site’s assets and plans to relaunch it in August.

Ex-GigaOm writer Matthew Ingram writes at Fortune that unnamed sources have told him the sale went through at fire-sale prices—probably for less than $1 million—since GigaOm’s original editorial staff have all moved on. He also cites unnamed sources saying that Reese plans to focus on “evergreen” content—making still-relevant GigaOm articles easier to find, and commissioning more background articles rather than current news coverage.

In short, it sounds like GigaOm will become another content farm, as with Reese’s previous company, Demand Media. (By a strange coincidence, our one prior article on Demand Media also mentions GigaOm.)

It’s a sad fate for a brand that used to be one of the more respected names in tech news coverage. But that’s what happens when you run out of money.

The post GigaOm to return, possibly as content farm appeared first on TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics.

Morning Links: Books about women lose out at awards time. Apple watch e-reading app: ‘What not to do’ [TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics]

pulitzer3Why Don’t Books about Women Win Awards? (Galley Cat)
Novelist Nicola Griffith has analyzed the winning books of six major book awards over the last 15 years and has come to the conclusion that both women authors and story’s written from a woman’s perspective are less likely to win awards.

eBook app for Apple Watch shows what not to do with watch apps (9to5 Mac)
Want to read ebooks on your Apple Watch one word at a time? Of course you don’t.

Better Apple watch apps are coming this year (Quartz)
This will allow apps to run directly on the watch, and will give apps and companies access to more functions on the device, including its sensors and “digital crown.” This could immediately be useful for apps such as fitness trackers and games, Williams said

The TeleRead take: “Whew!”

QR Codes Link Subway Riders to Library eBooks (iQR.me)
Naysayers of the efficiency of QR codes always make the excuse that the popularity in Asia is due to their love of mobile devices and new technology. And that’s a problem? How can over a billion users be wrong? Well the latest QR code ‘fad’ is the linking of codes to eBooks in the Chinese National Library for over 10 million passengers on Beijing’s subway.

The TeleRead take: A February article, but still fascinating.

Is Self-Publishing a Viable Option for Literary Fiction Writers? (The Passive Voice via Ink, Bites & Pixel)
Ayesha Pande: My response here is based purely on anecdotal evidence: It seems readers of literary fiction have a bias for print books; many readers tell me they want to keep the books, put them on their shelves, read them again and share them with others—none of which is possible with an e-book. In addition, sales of literary fiction still do depend on reviews and self-published books don’t tend to be reviewed by book reviewers, mainly because there are simply too many of them.

Experiment: hitting a bestseller list with a nonfiction book (KBoards)
I’m getting ready to launch a nonfiction book and my target audience is represented by people who make money online in one way or another. Freelancers, webmasters, online business owners, writers (you guys haha) and so on. My goal: hitting a bestseller list

Kindle Daily Deals. Check out Abraham Lincoln.

The post Morning Links: Books about women lose out at awards time. Apple watch e-reading app: ‘What not to do’ appeared first on TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics.

Beyond Parody, Part II: The DOJ Makes the World Safe for Football, er, uh, Soccer . . . [The DiploMad 2.0]

OK. Pay attention.

This notice is required by the Overlords of Political Correctness:

Trigger Warning

I know at least two of my regular six readers will feel offended by this post, so I must provide a "trigger warning." I used to think that meant Roy Rogers' horse would make an appearance, but now I understand it means something else . . .  so anybody with an intense emotional attachment to our new Attorney General, President Obama, progressivism, and the contest over who will host World Cup matches is hereby warned that emotional damage could result from reading the following text.

End of Trigger Warning.

Our new AG, Loretta Lynch, has announced that she is on the job against the greatest possible threat that can exist to our Republic, well, I mean besides global warming, cooling, change, disruption. Yes, my friends it is the existential threat posed to the Republic by corrupt football officials, not the NFL kind who have gotten major tax breaks for decades, no, I refer to the kind that gets played by foreigners in shorts, a game known in the civilized world as soccer. Using the ever efficient and now toady Swiss police, our fearless DOJ has managed to have major FIFA officials swept up in a raid at their swanky Zurich hotel, and be processed for possible extradition to the USA.

Goal! Well, actually, since I write of a British-invented game, I should scream, Gaol!

Who gives a rat's behind about this investigation? Is there anybody out there unaware that FIFA--and the IOC, not to mention the UN, the OAS, the EU, the IMF, the World Bank, the Clinton Foundation, etc--is a corrupt organization? We are spending gazillions of US taxpayer bucks to clean up FIFA? WHO CARES? How does this mean anything to us? What, you say, if we don't clean this up, we won't get to host a World Cup unless we kick in a few million to some crooked FIFA officials? So? Why would we want such an event?

Our DOJ is off responding to distant bugles and chasing headlines, when it should be doing work much closer to home. How about the Clintons? How about "Fast and Furious"? How about the millions of illegal aliens pouring into the country, many of them violent gangsters? How about vote fraud in Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles? How about Al Sharpton's non-payment of taxes? How about all the federal money poured into Baltimore, where did that go? How about cleaning up the IRS? My four or five readers still with me, I am sure you can come up with hundreds of issues of greater priority to DOJ than FIFA.

The progressives are at it, again. I've written before (here, for example) that they will push for an energetic US international stance only where there is no US interest involved. Here we see them trying to bring down the rich and the famous involved in "crimes" of little to no consequence for average Americans. Prosecutors gone mad. FBI resources wasted. All in a day's work.

Next up: A thorough investigation into the Reichstag fire.

.sucks-gate: How about listening to us the first two times, exasperated FTC tells ICANN [The Register]

You know what sucks? Your attitude

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has responded to questions over the legality of .sucks domain pricing with a three-page "I told you so" letter to domain name overseer ICANN.…

Android M's Now on Tap cyber-secretary is like Clippy on hard drugs [The Register]

Plus: Android Pay, fingerprint tech ... but for now, only if you're a developer

Google I/O  Google today showed off the latest build of Android, version M, at its annual developer conference Google I/O in San Francisco.…

Twitch.tv: Clean your streams of titillating titty titles off our screens [The Register]

But softcore is fine, so long as the ESRB approves

Gameplay broadcaster Twitch has banned users from streaming racy live video from "adult only" games.…

Google commands army of gadgets with Android-lite Brillo OS, Weave [The Register]

New Internet of Stuff platform to take on ... well, everybody else

Google I/O  Google is going after the Internet of Things with Android-based software aimed at powering a broad range of connected gizmos.…

FCC boss sketches out bargain broadband for hard-up Americans [The Register]

Because being penniless is no excuse to have crappy dialup

Tom Wheeler, chairman of US internet watchdog the FCC, has asked the regulator's commissioners to offer broadband to poor Americans via the Lifeline program.…

Chip chef Avago gobbles up Broadcom for $37 BEEEELLLION [The Register]

17bn in greenbacks – the rest in shares

As rumored this week, chip designer and supplier Avago is buying chip designer Broadcom in a cash-and-stock deal worth $37bn (£24bn). Broadcom is probably best known to Reg readers as the biz behind the BCM system-on-chips found in the Raspberry Pi and various other gizmos.…

Indian music streaming service Ganaa hacked, site yanked offline [The Register]

Frustrated 'white hat' reportedly went large after being ignored

Service has been suspended, and passwords reset, following a hack against Indian music streaming service Ganaa.…

Who's the big Swiss bunch that wants to take Sir Jony's lunch? It's... SWATCH! [The Register]

SHOCKER: Watchmaker says it's building a watch

1980s fashion icon Swatch has confirmed it is working on a smartwatch.…

Insurer tells hospitals: You let hackers in, we're not bailing you out [The Register]

IT departments better pick up their game – like not leaving anon FTP open to the world

When hackers swiped 32,500 patient records from Cottage Healthcare System, it was sued by its own customers for $4.1m – a bill that was settled by its insurers.…

Hey biz types: You don't grok Big Data. But you can use Salesforce, right? [The Register]

Wave to provide salesmonkey-friendly front end for Hadoop

Having sidled into the cash-rich analytics party seven months back, Salesforce is now out and proud on the hype-heavy big data field.…

Zuck-Up as Facebook Messenger app tracks you everywhere forever [The Register]

Lower your shields and surrender your privacy. We will add your data to our own

The ZuckerBorg collects so much data on its users that even visiting the site tags your ineffable soul for eternal tracking. But now a Harvard student's browser extension can now exploit the default location sharing setting to literally plot Facebook Messenger app users' movements on a map.…

It's the Internet of Feet: Lenovo shows smart shoes, projector keyboard phone [The Register]

Also bizarre peepshow watch

Chinese tech giant Lenovo has been showing things it’s making and things it wants to make at Lenovo Tech World in Beijing.…

Server market grew at its fastest rate since 2010, say Gartner's mystics [The Register]

Boxes fly out of the doors in North America, but sales still moping