Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Space Destroyers

It's different when the space is, well, your entire city:
“I was asked a question about the property damage that was done, and in answering that question I made it very clear that we balance a very line between giving protesters — peaceful protesters — space to protest. What I said is, in doing so, people can hijack that and use that space for bad. I did not say that we were accepting of it, I did not say that we were passive to it, I was just explaining how property damage can happen during a peaceful protest. It is very unfortunate that members of your industry decided to mischaracterize my words and try to use it in a way to say we were inciting violence. There’s no such thing,” she said.

“What we did was manage a peaceful protest in the best way possible and when it got violent and destructive we responded to that. We have an obligation to protect people’s First Amendment rights. We also understand through the best training and best practices that we have to do everything we can to de-escalate, and those were the tactics that were deployed yesterday. Did people exploit those tactics or that space that we gave, that we facilitated to have people protest for bad? Yes, they did. But we didn’t endorse it.”
Space is space...

Preaching To The Choir

It really is a religion:
A taxpayer-funded graduate fellowship at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor is examining 17 faith-based institutions that have implemented "sustainability initiatives" in the hopes of developing workshops to teach pastors and other religious leaders how to change the behaviors of their congregants.

"Climate change-which affects traditional faith-based efforts to improve human health, mitigate poverty and redress social inequity-is inspiring religious organizations to advocate for clean air and water, restore ecosystems, and conserve resources," a grant for the project, which began last fall, states. "This project seeks to understand the empirical experiences of faith-based environmental efforts within communities."

"Through what motivations and processes do congregation level sustainability initiatives emerge?" the grant asks. "What factors facilitate and/or hinder implementation of these initiatives? What environmental and community outcomes are perceived to have been achieved through these initiatives?"
Hear the word of the climate changers...

You Owe, They Own

How unions take care of things:
In the 25 states without right-to-work laws, unions can take mandatory “fair share” or “agency” fees from workers who decline union membership. Those fees often amount to hundreds of dollars per year.

Unions can’t spend agency fees directly on politics, but taking fees from nonmembers frees unions to spend more from members’ dues on political activism for “progressive,” big-government policies.

Agency fees inflate union membership, as well — workers who want to opt out must consider they’ll have to pay the union — regardless of whether they join.
Ya wanna "join," don't ya?

Cubed

I was never this good:
Collin Burns was participating in the final round of a competition at Central Bucks West High School in Doylestown, and though his result isn't yet listed on the World Cube Association's website, a WCA rep told Mashable yesterday, "We can confirm that this is (or will be soon) the new official WCA world record for the 3x3x3 single solve category. To our best knowledge, it has been performed in an official competition, with all the rules being followed, even the scramble has been checked for its correctness." Burns, the current US National Champion, is the first American record-holder since 2006.

The previous world record was 5.55 seconds, set by a Dutch teen, Mats Valk, in 2013. As Business Insider noted last year, the record holder prior to Valk was an Australian teen, Feliks Zemdegs, who still holds the record for fastest average solve time, at 6.54 seconds—and Zemdegs also holds the No. 3 through 8 records behind Burns and Valk.
It's all in the wrist...

Bill's Bucks

Bill Clinton's quite lucrative speaking deal:
Goldman Sachs reportedly paid Bill Clinton $200,000 for a speech in 2011 just months before the investment bank started to lobby Hillary Clinton’s State Department, according to an International Business Times report.
According to the Times, the “discovery that Bill Clinton accepted a six-figure payday from Goldman Sachs just before the bank sought the ear of his wife’s department” will amplify even more the scrutiny “of the Clinton family’s often overlapping personal, philanthropic and official business interests.” That scrutiny, the Times notes, has reached a “fever pitch amid leaks” from Government Accountability Institute President and Breitbart News Senior Editor-at-Large Peter Schweizer‘s forthcoming book, Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich.
But...but...Koch Brothers!

Walker, Wisconsin Ranger

Scott Walker punches back:
“I said even if you’re a liberal Democrat, you should look at (the raids) and be frightened to think that if the government can do that against people of one political persuasion, they can do it against anybody, and more often than not we need protection against the government itself,” Walker told the radio station.

“As (the National Review) pointed out, there were real questions about the constitutionality of much of what they did, but it was really about people trying to intimidate people…” Walker said.

“They were looking for just about anything. As I pointed out at the time, it was largely a political witch hunt.”
Call them out for what they are.

Welcome To Fun City

It's literally her first day on the job:
"As our investigative process continues, I strongly urge every member of the Baltimore community to adhere to the principles of nonviolence," Lynch said in a statement. "In the days ahead, I intend to work with leaders throughout Baltimore to ensure that we can protect the security and civil rights of all residents. And I will bring the full resources of the Department of Justice to bear in protecting those under threat, investigating wrongdoing, and securing an end to violence."
Welcome aboard, Ms. Lynch...

Jurassic Confusion

Life will find a way:
Chilesaurus was a therapod – belonging to the group of two-legged carnivorous dinosaurs that included everything from Tyrannosaurus rex to Velociraptor.

It had strong arms like an Allosaurus, but only two fingers like a tyrannosaur. Both fingers were blunt. Most of the skeletons found were the size of a turkey, although a few bones suggested Chilesaurus could grow to three metres long.

Even more peculiar was Chilesaurus’ hips. All dinosaurs are split into two branches based on the shape of their pelvis – Saurischia (including the meat-eating therapods and giant long-necked sauropods) and Ornithischia (everything else, including Triceratops and Stegosaurus). While Chilesaurus’ hips looked very ornithischian, it’s relatives are all saurischians.

Finally, Chilesaurus was a plant eater. And its teeth were very similar to long-necked sauropods. It’s feet, on the other hand, resembled those of earlier giant plant eaters.
Did somebody-or something-jump the genetic gun?

Questions And More Questions

How not to make a guest feel welcome:
SCHIEFFER: I’m going to start with probably the most vocal opponent of same-sex marriage and that is Tony Perkins. He is the president of the Family Research Council. And, Mr. Perkins, I’m going to say this to you upfront. You and your group have been so strong in coming out against this — and against gay marriage that the Southern Poverty Law Center has branded the Family Research Council an anti-gay hate group. We have been inundated by people who say we should not even let you appear because they, in their view, quote, “You don’t speak for Christians.” Do you think you have taken this too far?
"You can't be controversial, this is CBS!"

The Comeback Kid?

Does NBC want him back?
"Andy believes viewers want him (Williams) back," the source said. "The feeling is that (Williams') problem seems to be more with the media and other reporters than his viewers — if Andy can figure out a way to get him back on the air he will do it."

Lack, a long-time Williams pal, returned to NBC in early March, and as chairman of NBC News will have the final say over the anchor's fate. He and Williams go back a long way — he served as the president of the news division from 1993 to 2003 and had a hand at positioning Williams for the "Nightly News" position in the first place.
Brian Williams, please come home?

The Malik Effect

The physics of boy band breakups:
The advice of British cosmologist Stephen Hawking to heartbroken fans is to follow theoretical physics, because Malik may well still be a member of the pop group in another universe.

The physicist took a break from speaking about his work as one of the world's leading scientists to answer the question from one upset fan during a talk at Sydney Opera House at the weekend.

"Finally a question about something important," Hawking, who appeared via hologram, said to loud laughs from the audience.

"My advice to any heartbroken young girl is to pay attention to the study of theoretical physics because, one day, there may well be proof of multiple universes.

"It would not be beyond the realms of possibility that somewhere outside of our own universe lies another, different universe and, in that universe, Zayn is still in One Direction."
Whether that's good or bad depends on your POV...

Corinthian Collapse

Live by the market, die by the market?
Corinthian was one of the country's largest for-profit educational institutions. It collapsed last summer amid a cash shortage and fraud allegations.

The Education Department contends that Corinthian failed to comply with requests to address allegations of falsifying job placement data and altering grades and attendance records. It agreed to sell or close its campuses under pressure from the department.

The closures left many current and former students frustrated and with questions about what they mean for their education going forward.

"I would like to know if I am allowed to transfer my credits, if the credits even mean anything," said Dominique Avila, 35, who withdrew from Heald College's campus in Roseville, Calif., late last year and was trying to get her transcripts transferred to another school. "What does that mean as far as my debt goes?"
Pretty much the same as most college students...

On The Job

Lester Holt likes his job:

Empathy For The Devil

Conservatives do care more:
Do rightists also caricature their opponents? Yes, but not to anything like the same extent. A 2012 study by Jesse Graham, Brian A. Nosek and Jonathan Haidt asked conservatives and liberals to answer a series of questions as themselves, and then to answer them in the imagined personae of a typical conservative and a typical liberal. It found that the liberals were the least able to accurately to guess their opponents’ views, seeing conservatism as a kind of moral failure.

They’re not playing to the gallery. They’re not sloganizing. They genuinely believe that we conservatives went into politics because we hate the poor. Their conviction is so solid that facts crash against it as waves against a rock. Again and again, leftists will line up behind policies that hurt the general population in order to reward vested interests: the bailouts and the TARP boondoggle, the alternative energy scams, the trade barriers that favor privileged industries, the regulations that drive up prices. The practical consequences of these policies matter far less to their advocates than the opportunity to signal their good intentions. And if their intentions are good, ours must be bad.
"Heroes" always need villains...

The Air Up There

Creating oxygen on Mars:
“We’re going to build a small instrument that will generate oxygen on Mars. It will be the prototype of a much larger ‘factory’ that will provide astronauts with oxygen at some point in the future,” says Morten Bo Madsen, the head of the Mars group at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen…

“MOXIE works like a sort of fuel cell in reverse. A fuel cell produces energy by melting together hydrogen and oxygen to produce water. Instead, we’ll be using energy to remove an oxygen atom from CO2,” says Madsen.
But won't the Martians accuse us of global warming?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Phony Foundation

The Clintons' funny money catches up with them:
“The Clinton family’s mega-charity took in more than $140 million in grants and pledges in 2013 but spent just $9 million on direct aid,” notes the New York Post. “The group spent the bulk of its windfall on administration, travel, and salaries and bonuses, with the fattest payouts going to family friends.”

Good charities are supposed to put at least 75 cents of every dollar collected toward their mission. To put it mildly, the Clinton Foundation’s 6 cents on the dollar is well below that threshold. The Foundation’s “atypical business model,” as Charity Navigator very delicately put it, “doesn’t meet our criteria.”
But it does meet Hillary's...

Hot Birds

Time for fried wings:
Birds are killed when they fly through the towers, which can reach 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, according to a Wall Street Journal article published in February of 2014. At the time, the publication noted that regulators knew some birds would die, but didn’t expect the dozens of avian deaths during the project’s construction and testing phase. They’re reaching the conclusion of their two-year study on the solar farm’s effects on birds.

Nevertheless, this isn’t an isolated incident. A solar panel farm in Nevada was frying birds flying through the facility. In one test, engineers and biologists noticed trails of smoke emanating from burning birds.
Going green can be hazardous to their health...

Baltimore Eats Itself

Another day, another riot:
“Today’s looting and acts of violence in Baltimore will not be tolerated,” Hogan said in a statement. “In response, I have put the Maryland National Guard on alert so they can be in position to deploy rapidly as needed. I strongly condemn the actions of the offenders who are engaged in direct attacks against innocent civilians, businesses and law enforcement officers. There is a significant difference between protesting and violence and those committing these acts will be prosecuted under the fullest extent of the law.”
Earlier today, a group of protestors clashed with police officers. Arrests were made in the incident, but unfortunately, some officers were hurt.
When your city is under siege, who do you call? Who, indeed?

Worst Government Boss

Who's the worst to work for?
The annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, conducted by the Office of Personnel Management to measure employee perceptions about workplace conditions, designated the DHS as the worst agency and Customs and Immigration Enforcement, a division within the department, as the least desirable spot to hold a job.

The label doesn’t come as a surprise – DHS frequently is cited in the survey as one of the worst places to work within the federal government. Since 2013, the agency’s perception has grown worse.

Joining DHS at the bottom of the scale is the Department of Veterans Affairs, an agency with well-documented problems over the past several months, and the Department of Labor.

On the opposite end, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Department of State ranked the highest.
Granted, given the competition, that's probably not saying much...

The Physics Of Reform

Is there any way we can do this here?
...regulatory transparency got a considerable boost Thursday when the Red Tape Reduction Act (C-21) received Royal Assent and became law. Minister Tony Clement, who has championed the bill, can be proud that Canada is now the first country in the world to require that for every new regulation introduced one of equivalent burden must be removed.

C-21, has been operating as policy for several years already, which means that the costs of new rules must be quantified and equal or greater costs removed. It essentially caps the cost of rules coming directly from regulations. Government rules can also come from legislation and policy so the one-for-one rule is not a cap on the cost of all government rules. Still, it is a very good start.

Why is this so important? Regulation, both necessary and unnecessary (red tape), are a huge hidden tax on all Canadians. The latest estimate from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business suggests that regulation costs $37 billion a year. To be clear, not all of these costs could or should be eliminated. But Canada’s small business owners suggest that about 30 per cent of these costs, $11 billion, could be eliminated with no negative impact on human health, safety or the environment. This number seems reasonable given that British Columbia has reduced its regulatory requirements over the past decade by over 40 per cent with no one arguing the cuts had any serious negative impacts.
Maybe more of our politicians need to take science courses...

Words Of Warning

Bobby Jindal on religious liberty:
“Corporate America needs to be careful because the same radical left that doesn’t want us to have religious liberty rights does not want us to have economic liberty rights. The same radical left that doesn’t want us to have religious liberty rights wants to tax and regulate these companies out of existence. They think profit is a dirty word.”

An impassioned Jindal acknowledged that activists and corporate interests were successful in bullying Indiana leaders, “But I’ve got news for them,” he said. “We’ve got legislation in Louisiana. We’ve already got a Religious Freedom Act. We’ve got legislation this session to protect people of faith and of conscience who hold the traditional view of marriage and they might as well save their breath because corporate America is not going to bully the governor of Louisiana when it comes to religious liberty.” The crowd at the conservative event erupted in applause.

“They need to understand there is no freedom of speech or freedom of association without religious liberty,” Jindal continued.”
Sadly, some of them don't...

Gender War Lessons

Why the transgender activists lose the argument:
Leftists have made a cause of transgenderism, but transgenderism makes a nonsense of many leftist tenets. For instance, leftist feminism depends on the assumption that there is no inherent difference between men and women and that therefore any inequality in their lives must be the product of bigotry and should be corrected by law. But if there is no inherent difference between men and women, what can it possibly mean to be transgender? When Jenner tells an interviewer: “I am a woman,” how does he know? Since, until he started fiddling with it, his body was a man’s body, he can only mean that he feels a mental or spiritual difference within him that he identifies as womanly. I only wish that more feminists felt that!

But if there is a difference between men and women — and, like, duh — it is entirely possible that in some matters the difference favors men. Men, for instance, may be better at scientific thinking, or cracking stupid jokes that are somehow hilarious, or writing great poetry, or abusing themselves and others for purposes of sexual gratification without any emotional blowback. Once you admit there is a difference, it is not cruelty or bigotry to note the results of that difference or to behave in accordance with them, always taking variations in individuals into account.
Individualism matters! Pass it on.

Big Government Broadband

Why the government should stay out of the broadband business:
ObamaCare, anyone? Veterans Administration? Postal service? Trains?

The federal government is over $18 trillion in debt. It clearly stinks at doing…well, just about everything.

Twenty states watched local governments throughout the nation fail spectacularly over and over again at being Internet providers. Often residents of entire states end up on the hook to bailout the failed local government attempts. So these twenty decided to pass laws to limit the damage.

The only question is – what are the other thirty states thinking?
that they'd be left alone on other matters if they played along? That's not how it typically works, unfortunately.

Northern End-Run

Yes, they did:
In a blog posting Sunday, Maura Pally defended the foundation’s work and reaffirmed its commitment to transparency. Pally’s statement comes amid growing scrutiny of the foundation as Hillary Rodham Clinton embarks on her presidential campaign.

Pally said the foundation expected to refile some of its tax forms because it had “mistakenly combined” government grants and donations. She said the foundation would “remedy” any errors, but stressed the total revenue was reported accurately.

Pally also described the foundation’s work with the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership, which she said received funding from a separate organization in Canada. She said that partnership does not disclose its donors as provided under Canadian law.
Always go where the law is most convenient...

Big Guns

What could go wrong?
The 2nd Cavalry Regiment is requesting that 81 of its 8-wheel-drive Stryker infantry carrier vehicles be equipped with 30-mm. automatic cannons -- double the caliber of the 12.7-mm. guns they already carry, the military news website Breaking Defense reports.

The House Armed Services committee is already setting aside money for the upgrade, which the Army approved Wednesday, according to a memo obtained by the website.

The upgraded cannons would give the Strykers added firepower against other light-armored vehicles.

The 2nd Cavalry Regiment, based in Vilseck, Germany, had been deployed to the Baltic States to deter aggression following Russia’s seizure of Ukraine’s Crimea region, Breaking Defense reports.
Big guns lead to bigger guns. It's guns all the way down...

A Cold One

Would you rather eat it, or drink it?
“It’s a crass, corporate greedy move to put a brand name like Ben & Jerry’s on a beer,” said Bruce Lee Livingston, executive director of the group Alcohol Justice, in remarks reported by USA Today. “It’s bad for children—who will start looking at beer as the next step after ice cream.”

I’d be surprised if ice cream-flavored beer appealed to anyone, let alone children, who are prohibited by law from buying the product. (Maybe it’s my personal bias against anything boasting a salted caramel flavor.) But let’s suppose Livingston is right, and the pairing is a gateway drug. If we assume that, why stop there? Let’s take this sort of reasoning to its logical conclusions—and look at Ben & Jerry’s ice cream itself.
Ice cream-the gateway drug?

Bone Shaker

Oh, please:
I am shaken to my bones by the e-mails, texts, postings and phone calls of the past few days. I made a terrible mistake. I was ignorant, naive and much too quick in accepting a request to co-host a dinner with Cruz at my home without taking the time to completely understand all of his positions on gay rights. I’ve spent the past 24 hours reviewing videos of Cruz’ statements on gay marriage and I am shocked and angry. I sincerely apologize for hurting the gay community and so many of our friends, family, allies, customers and employees. I will try my best to make up for my poor judgement. Again, I am deeply sorry.
"Please don't boycott me, I have a hotel business to support..."

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Hubble's 25th

Happy birthday, Hubble:
The original price tag of $400 million eventually ballooned to $2.5 billion — a massive cost overrun even for NASA. The agency was betting that once the telescope experienced “First Light,” it would be seen as worth the investment.

It wasn’t.

The company in charge of manufacturing, shaping, and polishing the 2.5 meter mirror assembled a measuring device incorrectly, leading to an error in polishing of about 1.3 millimeters. There were several opportunities to catch the error before launch, but the company — PerkinElmer — failed to do so. When the telescope took its first photos a month later, scientists realized to their horror that the Hubble was nearsighted.

The project became the butt of jokes and Congress was outraged. But NASA came up with a fix for the mirror — complex “spectacles” that would clear up about 98% of the image problem. In December 1993, after training for two years for the complex and dangerous mission, legendary astronaut Story Musgrave and six others rendezvoused with Hubble in space and installed the correctives.

The result was awe-inspiring.
Indeed, and we are better off for having had our eyes opened wider than ever before.

Green Fingers

Somebody's been cooking the books:
Writing in the Telegraph, Christopher Booker explained: “Figures from earlier decades have repeatedly been adjusted downwards and more recent data adjusted upwards, to show the Earth having warmed much more dramatically than the original data justified.”

In order to determine whether or not the data from the weather stations has been skewed, the Global Warming Policy Foundation has assembled an international team of experts including eminent climatologists, physicists and statisticians, to analyse the data and settle the matter.

The inquiry is being chaired by Professor Terence Kealey, former vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham. Launching the inquiry, Professor Kealey said: “Many people have found the extent of adjustments to the data surprising. While we believe that the 20th century warming is real, we are concerned by claims that the actual trend is different from – or less certain than – has been suggested. We hope to perform a valuable public service by getting everything out into the open.”
Dishonesty is not the best policy...

Tools Of The Trade

He's definitely not his brother:
Inside their hotel rooms here, top fundraisers for Jeb Bush will discover a brochure encouraging them to use complimentary electric cars made by Tesla, long a Republican Party bugaboo because of its federal tax subsidies.

They will find lime green yoga mats and a copy of the eco-friendly, left-leaning “Modern Farmer” magazine (Headline: “Can plant factories save us from climate change?”).

And they will be surrounded by flamboyant Floridian kitsch, from white shag pillows to Taschen books celebrating Andy Warhol.
The hipster of the family?

Blue Core Battles

Don't like Common Core? You're obviously racist:
In 2013, Duncan famously said that it was “fascinating” that Common Core opposition came from “white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — [realize] their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were.” He later apologized — blaming “clumsy phrasing” — but since that time he’s learned to make the same point, just more subtly…
....

The federal government is flexing its muscles to protect an allegedly state-run program. Liberals are treating other liberals like they’re racist. Even the teachers’ unions are calling Common Core’s rollout “botched” and walking back their “once-enthusiastic” support for the program. It looks like the education technocracy is every bit as ineffective as the rest of our national technocracies.
And if more professed liberals would realize that, then the bigot card wouldn't work as well...

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Ronald Who?

Some sort of an actor?

The Russians Are Hacking

In Russia, mail reads you:
White House officials said that no classified networks had been compromised, and that the hackers had collected no classified information. Many senior officials have two computers in their offices, one operating on a highly secure classified network and another connected to the outside world for unclassified communications.

But officials have conceded that the unclassified system routinely contains much information that is considered highly sensitive: schedules, email exchanges with ambassadors and diplomats, discussions of pending personnel moves and legislation, and, inevitably, some debate about policy.
Somebody needs to update their security settings...

Ancient Trigger Warnings

Lessons about intellectual tyranny from a dead white guy:
Why would a call for more women in engineering provoke a hideous outcry? Because, Plato might say, although the longing to close the wage gap is strong, it is not as strong as the longing to protect and privilege the meaning of experience. It is an attack on the primacy of meaning for people like Sommers to propose that sociology (which today is almost synonymous with the study of how to politicize meaning) must be sacrificed to increase monetary equality. By giving up the study of sociology in favor of playing the patriarchal game by its own rules, the logic runs, women risk achieving marginal higher wages at the cost of dismantling the apparatus of social justice.
True equality always comes with a price, social justice warriors...

Red Ink

Written in blood, literally:
“Obviously when you do something like this it becomes a statement, and the reader will take away from it whatever they want to take away from it,” Colacion told the Daily Star. “But what we want to do is just kind of celebrate this rich culture, which impacts all of us every day, especially in the arts.”

Lebanon became home to large numbers of Armenians fleeing the Turks during World War I. While many emigrated during the Lebanese civil war, several Beirut neighborhoods remain centers of Armenian culture.

So just how do you publish in blood? The magazine approached five notable Lebanese-Armenian artists, from musicians to designers.
Did they talk to Sam and Dean?

Teacher's Bad Day

Class, dismissed:
After what he calls a semester of disrespect, backstabbing, lying, and cheating, Horwitz had all he could take.

"Yesterday I reached the breaking point," he said.

He sent a lengthy email to his Strategic Management class explaining that they would all be failing the course. He said the students proved to be incompetent and lack the maturity level to enter the workforce.

"It became apparent that they couldn't do some of the most simple and basic things they should have been able to do," said Horwitz.
All products of the lower education system...

For Shame

No shame, no fear:
“There’s no body shaming going on. Genuinely, 100 per cent this was driven by talking to our female customers and asking them what they want.

“As for the vandalising of our posters, a lot of what we have seen has been PhotoShopped, so they’re not even real defacements. I’d be alarmed if people are actually clamber across train tracks to deface posters and put their lives at risk.

“My position is: we won’t stand for that and TFL [Transport for London] are working with us on this. We are compiling admissions of vandalism against us and we will look into them. I don’t see us having any problem with us reporting individuals for vandalising our property. The law on this is clear.”

And in a comment that will surely pour vinegar into the protester’s wounds, Staveley claims the protest has actually helped his company’s brand profile and increased sales.

“I couldn’t have dreamt or hoped of having our advert reproduced more times across the news networks and social media as it has been done,” says Richard. “This protest has been absolutely phenomenal for us and entirely counter-productive for them.
These things usually are...

Common Enemy

The Clinton Foundation needs an independent audit, says...Common Cause?
“As Mrs. Clinton herself observed earlier this week, voluntary disclosure is not enough,” said Common Cause President Miles Rapoport. “A report in Thursday’s New York Times indicates that the Clinton Foundation violated an agreement to identify all of its donors. The foundation’s omissions create significant gaps in the information that voters need to make informed decisions at the polls.”
....

And to further guard against potential conflicts of interest, the foundation should stop accepting donations from foreign governments and ​foreign corporations, he said.
When an issue puts them on the same side as Ted Cruz, you know something's rotten in Clintonia...

Jenner Comes Out

Bruce Jenner's other secret:
When Sawyer asked if Jenner cheered when Obama became the first president to even say the word “transgender” in a State of the Union address, the 65-year-old replied that he “would certainly give him credit for that.”

“But not to get political,” Jenner continued, “I’ve never been a big fan, I’m kind of more on the conservative side.”

“Are your a Republican?” Sawyer asked in response, to which Jenner replied, “Yeah! Is that a bad thing? I believe in the constitution.”

“Do you think that would be an unsettling thing for some people in the conservative wing of the party?” Sawyer asked.

“I’ve thought about that,” says Jenner, adding that neither political party has a monopoly on understanding.
Neither do so-called liberals...

Covered In Red

I knew it was good for something:
There’s no more money coming from Washington after the state exhausts the $1.1 billion it received from the federal government to get the Obamacare exchange up and running. And state law prohibits Sacramento from spending any money to keep the exchange afloat.

That presents an existential crisis for Covered California, which is facing a nearly $80 budget deficit for its 2015-16 fiscal year. Although the exchange is setting aside $200 million to cover its near-term deficit, Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee acknowledged in December that there are questions about the “long-term sustainability of the organization.”

Mr. Lee’s disquieting assessment actually jibed with a 2013 report by the state auditor, which stated that, until the state’s health insurance exchange actually started enrolling Californians in health plans, its “future solvency” was ”uncertain.” Thus, Covered California was listed as a “high-risk” issue for the state.
Maybe that's why the state's Democrats said no thanks...

Liar Gate Part II

They're not done with Brian Williams yet:
An NBC News internal investigation into Brian Williams has examined a half-dozen instances in which he is thought to have fabricated, misrepresented or embellished his accounts, two people with inside knowledge of the investigation said.

The investigation includes at least one episode that was previously unreported, these people said, involving statements by Mr. Williams about events from Tahrir Square in Cairo during the Arab Spring.
....

The two people with knowledge of the investigation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions, said the episodes under review included details of the incident in Iraq in 2003; statements Mr. Williams made about a missile attack while he was traveling in another helicopter over northern Israel in 2006; and the circumstances under which he received a fragment of a helicopter that crashed during the mission to kill Osama bin Laden in 2011.
He got bin Laden himself. At least, that's what he believes...

Friday, April 24, 2015

Men Of Steel

A Superman movie starring Nicholas Cage?
The project, known as Superman Lives, was loosely based on the “Death of Superman” story arc from the comics. It would have starred Nicholas Cage as the man of steel, and followed a script first authored by Kevin Smith.

Now, director Jon Schnepp takes viewers on a journey behind the scenes of the film that might have been in The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened? Schnepp interviews Tim Burton, Kevin Smith, and several others involved in the development of this odd comic book film which never came to fruition.
Well, at least Cage got to be Ghost Rider...

Neck Of The Gods

How to cure a hangover, ancient style:
The alcohol victim would have strung together leaves from a shrub called Alexandrian chamaedaphne (Ruscus racemosus L.), possibly wearing the strand around the neck, the text revealed.

Though people in the ancient world believed Alexandrian chamaedaphne could ease a headache, whether the cure really worked, let alone on a drunken headache, is unknown.
But at least you'd have your own laurels...

Switch

So here's the latest TV "experiment":
In today’s announcement, FYI instead focused on the fact that someone at some point decided seven years marks the point in many marriages at which couples become “restless and dissatisfied” and might wonder why they’d signed up with this guy instead of the doctor their mothers wanted them to marry. In the series, four couples “at a crossroads in their relationship” — FYI did not say if they’ve all been married seven years — get the chance to shack up with a stranger for two weeks in an “experimental marriage.”

They will eat, live and, yes, “sleep” with these total strangers, the network said.

As with WE tv’s recently pulled-due-to-lousy-ratings reality series Sex Box, relationship experts will help guide the Seven Year Switch couples through the process, FYI said. At the end of what the network explains is a monthlong experiment, each of the married couples will reunite and decide whether to divorce or renew their vows.
Which is probably about as long as this project will last...

Who Killed Ronald?

How not to save the Big Mac:
A burger chain serves up the sandwich version of meat & potatoes — the very antithesis of “progressive” anything. A fast-food burger is supposed to be simple, hearty, wholesome, perhaps-not-entirely-healthy fare designed for families on a budget and on the go.

It’s not wraps. It’s not tofu. It’s not sprouts. It’s a burger and fries, ably prepared from decent ingredients at a price that encourages people to indulge.
....

A fun meal with the kids is decent, fast, inexpensive dining on American food. There’s nothing “progressive” about it. And any attempt to force that square peg into the round hole of our hungry mouths is doomed to failure.
That hasn't stopped them from trying...

Me And My Drone

Let your drone walk your kid to school:
A Tennessee father who followed his eight-year-old daughter to school with a drone has now decided to ground it in the wake of the attention his flight has garnered. According to WVLT, a Knoxville, Tennessee television station, Chris Early decided to launch a drone to monitor his child’s walk to school after she requested that she be allowed to walk on her own
Also useful against bullies...

The Retired Dead

No more money for dead people:
Officials say the Social Security Administration holds the official federal database listing deceased individuals, but that other agencies are not updated frequently and that most inspector generals with other government agencies lack access to the list, which leads to a number of federal agencies issuing erroneous payments to dead people.

The Act would give all appropriate federal agencies the right to access a complete and current list of deceased individuals.

“Social Security’s death records are in disarray. They show millions of people over 112 years of age as alive when they’re actually dead. They mistakenly mark tens of thousands of living people each year as dead when they are alive,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI). “By cleaning up Social Securitys Death Master File and sharing it with other federal agencies, we can protect taxpayers and ensure their money isn’t being wasted fraudulently on the deceased.”
It would also help if their votes weren't used for the living...

Big Magma Valley

There's something lurking underneath Yellowstone:
The reservoir was found by University of Utah seismologists who completed what’s considered the first, most detailed picture of the “continuous volcanic plumbing system under Yellowstone,” postdoctoral researcher Hsin-Hua Huang said in a statement.

“That includes the upper crustal magma chamber we have seen previously plus a lower crustal magma reservoir that has never been imaged before and that connects the upper chamber to the Yellowstone hotspot plume below,” he said.

This upper crust chamber, which was previously known, could fill the Grand Canyon 2.5 times.

The scientists emphasized that their research doesn’t mean the volcano carries an increased danger nor is it closer to erupting. They simply used more advanced techniques to get a better picture of the system as a whole.

“The magma chamber and reservoir are not getting any bigger than they have been, it’s just that we can see them better now using new techniques,” study co-author Jamie Farrell said.
Why does that not make me feel any better?

Wiggle Room

Science versus supposition:
'By comparing our model against theirs, we found that climate models largely get the 'big picture' right but seem to underestimate the magnitude of natural decade-to-decade climate wiggles,' Brown said.

'Our model shows these wiggles can be big enough that they could have accounted for a reasonable portion of the accelerated warming we experienced from 1975 to 2000, as well as the reduced rate in warming that occurred from 2002 to 2013.'

'Statistically, it's pretty unlikely that an 11-year hiatus in warming, like the one we saw at the start of this century, would occur if the underlying human-caused warming was progressing at a rate as fast as the most severe IPCC projections,' Brown said.

'Hiatus periods of 11 years or longer are more likely to occur under a middle-of-the-road scenario.'
But the middle doesn't scare people as much...

Church Time

How to rebrand your business:
It might have been years before school officials and parents learned what was going on inside The Social Club — its website says it is “a private club for the enjoyment of both men and women … to engage in any sexual activity” — if someone had not sent anonymous letters to the school president and the local councilwoman. Both say the person who tipped them off claimed to be a concerned club member, although they don’t know that for sure.

Parents and religious leaders were called on to pack the Metro Nashville Council chambers to support a zoning change to prevent the club from opening. That’s when the club, which had spent $750,000 on the building and begun renovations, suddenly transformed into a church…

Roberts said church members will “meet and have fellowship” in the new building, but no sex will take place there. “If people have something else in mind, they will go somewhere else.”
Well, that is what motels are for...

Honesty...Honestly?

The NY Times says Hillary needs to come clean:
The increasing scrutiny of the foundation has raised several points that need to be addressed by Mrs. Clinton and the former president. These relate most importantly to the flow of multimillions in donations from foreigners and others to the foundation, how Mrs. Clinton dealt with potential conflicts as secretary of state and how she intends to guard against such conflicts should she win the White House.

The only plausible answer is full and complete disclosure of all sources of money going to the foundation. And the foundation needs to reinstate the ban on donations from foreign governments for the rest of her campaign — the same prohibition that was in place when she was in the Obama administration.
Good luck with that...

American Made

Arnold Schwarzenegger, American:
“Everything that I have accomplished in my career is because of America,” he said. “Every single thing: my bodybuilding career, my movie career, the political career, my family, everything, the millions and millions of dollars that I have made in my life and everything. All those opportunities are because of America.”

“So, I’m not going to complain about the only job that I can’t do,” Schwarzenegger added. “I think much more about the great things that I could do. Only in America, you could have a career like that.”
Appreciation is its own reward...

Play The Game

You will be indoctrinated:
The game, titled “Agent of Change” and designed by feminist activists, does not allow students to complete the game until they have given enough “correct” answers as per the designers’ stated philosophical influences, such as “norms challenging,” “feminist theory,” and “social norms theory.” According to the Agent of Change website, the program helps users “see the connections between these power-based violations, how these problems affect their lives, and what they can do to challenge the cultural norms that help sexual violence flourish.”
....

When asked if Agent of Change dealt with the ethics of binge drinking, the morality of casual sex, or the propriety of being alone while intoxicated with a potential sexual assaulter, Mosely responded: “No.” In her words, Agent of Change doesn’t get into any of that because “[Mosely doesn’t] believe that is the problem.”
Now shut up and play...

Head Games

Who's up for a new head?
NYU Bioethicist Arthur Caplan says Dr. Canavero’s plans are unethical, because the surgical technique for spinal surgery isn’t perfected, the chance of immunosupressive rejection is high, and the brain may not be able to “integrate” with a body with which it isn’t familiar. According to Caplan, “[T]he most likely result is insanity or severe mental disability.”

Dr. Canavero seems to be a legitimate neurosurgeon with the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, but his obsession with becoming the first successful surgeon to perform a head transplant is a bit Frankenstein-y. He does seems more legitimate, however, than some prior high profile oddballs, such as Dr. Richard Seed, who made a big splash in the late 1990s when he proclaimed he wanted to perform the first human cloning.

But then again, recent media reports suggested that Dr. Canavero’s talk of head transplants was all an odd publicity stunt for a video game called Metal Gear Solid. But just today, it’s being reported that Dr. Canavero has filed a sworn affidavit with Italian police, denying that he has anything to do with the game maker, and that it’s using his likeness without his permission.
I blame Skull Face...

Fly Away

The workers have spoken:
The North Charleston plant, which opened in the right-to-work state four years ago and builds fuselages for 747s and 787s, employs about 7,500 workers. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers had been trying to build support for a vote this week on unionizing 3,175 production and maintenance workers, but called off the vote days before it was to happen.

“After speaking with Boeing workers who we were previously unable to reach, we’ve determined now is not the right time for an election,” union organizer Mike Evans said in a statement. “An atmosphere of threats, harassment and unprecedented political interference has intimidated workers to the point we don’t believe a free and fair election is possible.”
Intimidating workers is what the union was supposed to do...

Mercury Falling

When female athletes attack:
Police report that Griner, 24, became engaged in an argument with Johnson, also a WNBA player, at their home in Goodyear, Arizona, about 20 miles from Phoenix. The argument became physical, police reported.

Both players were arrested but released from the Maricopa County 4th Avenue Jail in Phoenix early Thursday morning.

Police were called to the home at 133rd Drive where Johnson’s sister, Judy, told police that she didn’t know what to do about the pair’s fighting.
Charge admission?

The Jaws Of Victory

Who really won the last elections?
Since January, according to the U.S. Senate vote count website, there have been 10 nominations confirmed. Each one has seen unanimous support from Democrats who voted, but varying levels of Republican support.

Seven nominations—George C. Hanks, Jr., to be a U.S. district Judge for the Southern District of Texas, Alfred H. Bennett to be a U.S. district Judge for the Southern District of Texas, William P. Doyle to be a Federal Maritime Commissioner, Carlos A. Monje, Jr., to be Assistant Transportation Secretary, Christopher A. Hart to be National Transportation Safety Board chairman, Daniel Henry Marti to be Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator and Michael P. Botticelli to be Director of National Drug Control Policy—passed the Senate unanimously. That means all senators who voted on the nominations voted in favor, with no GOP opposition.
There are winners and losers, and sometimes, the roles are reversed...

Rogue Robodoc

What could go wrong?
The robot itself runs on a single PC running software based on open standards, such as Linux and the Robot Operating System. It communicates with the control console using a standard communications protocol for remote surgery known as the Interoperable Telesurgery Protocol.

This communication takes place over public networks that are potentially accessible to anyone. And because the robot is designed to work in extreme conditions, this communications link can be a low-quality connection to the internet, perhaps even over wireless.

And therein lies the risk. “Due to the open and uncontrollable nature of communication networks, it becomes easy for malicious entities to jam, disrupt, or take over the communication between a robot and a surgeon,” say Bonaci and co.
The next time a machine operates on you, you may want to get a programmer's second opinion...

The War Dividend

What do we do about our endless wars:
Obama pledged in his 2013 inaugural address that “a decade of war is now ending,” but the numbers suggest otherwise. The U.S. takes regular lethal action in at least five countries. U.S. troops are deployed in three conflict zones. And America is directly involved in a pair of Arab civil wars.

Some administration officials fear that things will get worse before they get better, particularly in Ukraine and Iraq. But they are divided on how best to proceed, people familiar with the Obama team’s internal debates say — with top officials like Secretary of State John Kerry urging measures like arming Ukrainian government forces with Javelin anti-tank missiles, which can ostensibly be called defensive.

The goal, as one administration official put it, would be that “dead Russians will come back across the border and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin will feel a greater price for his escalation.”

But the roster of violence is sobering, and the president’s more cautious advisers fret about how much more military risk America should take on as global conflicts multiply.
How many wars can be fought on the head of a pin?

Big Fear On Campus

The climate of fear:
The only “culture” afflicting students today is one of excessive gullibility, and it is creating a multitude of real victims. In service to a persecution complex, these and other colleges have sacrificed their bottom lines. By coddling their overprotected student bodies, these colleges did their charges no favors. But now that they must confront suboptimal financial realities, perhaps these schools will begin to address this problem of their own making.

It is well past time for America’s colleges to stand up to the real aggressors in their midst. Since it is now clear that their current course is a suicidal one, maybe institutions of higher learning will decide that it is in their best interests to create a “safe space” for the unjustly maligned.
Unfortunately, they want to feel safe in their own spaces from those who disagree with them...

Bomb Night

He set her up the bomb:
Ahmad said he felt pressure to go all out in asking his would-be date to the big dance.

“In ‘promposals,’ you’re supposed to go big,” he said. “It’s kind of a trending thing now, too, where everyone just asks in a really creative way.”

So during lunchtime, Ahmad strapped a paintball vest to his waist and filled the open pockets with red paper tubes attached to red wires, a prop made to look like explosives. And he stood up on the stage in the cafeteria holding a sign that read: “I kno it’s A little Late, But I’m kinda…THE BOMB! Rilea, Will U Be My Date To Prom?”

“I’m Middle Eastern, and I thought the bomb was kind of funny and clever,” he said. “I wasn’t wearing the vest for more than, like, 20 seconds. I asked her, took a picture, took it off, and then the school got upset.”
I wonder why...

Bare Banzai

Nudity for nationalism?
Right winger Teruki Goto is pictured on his campaign poster in his birthday suit, wielding a samurai-style sword in front of two Rising Sun flags and the imperial chrysanthemum crest.

A strategically-placed stroke of one of the kanji ideographs that make up his name covers his modesty.

Elections in Japan tend to be very staid affairs: candidates' campaigns generally consist of them wearing a sash bearing their name as they stand outside train stations greeting commuters -- most of whom do their best not to make eye contact.

Each candidate is allowed to print a limited number of flyers while their posters -- usually formulaic headshots with a vacuous slogan along the lines of "Making things better" -- must be corralled on huge election noticeboards, alongside everyone elses.

Add in Japan's tendency to avoid controversy, even in matters of running the local council, and Goto's campaign for a seat on the assembly of Chiyoda ward in Tokyo certainly catches the eye.
Small sword, big ambitions?

The Long Goodbye

What Eric Holder leaves behind:
The list goes into Holder’s efforts to protect America from terrorism, thwart drug smuggling, stop violent crimes and cybersecurity threats, and help prisoners re-enter society.

The list doesn’t list some of the more controversial aspects of Holder’s tenure, such as his department’s decision to seize phone records from reporters, or the botched gun-running operation known as Fast and Furious that some say contributed to the shooting death of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.

It also doesn’t note that in 2012, Holder was held in contempt of Congress for the department’s failure to provide information about Fast and Furious to Congress.

The Justice Department also produced a nine-minute video to send Holder off, one filled with praise from Democrats such as former President Bill Clinton, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and several Democratic senators.
He might as well have stayed on the job to hear all the accolades...

The Dearly Digital

using VR to bring back the dead?
Questions like how someone's character would be captured (they'd likely have to go through the process in full when alive), or how limited their interactions would be till remain. We'll have to wait and see what Paranormal Games has in store, but it's an intriguing, if very scary, prospect: would you want to live forever in a simulation? Or perhaps we already are.
I sometimes wonder if the people I see are figments of somebody's imagination myself...

Happy Lands

What are the happiest countries?
The top 10 on the list is dominated by nations from Scandinavia - which are unsurprisingly also among the wealthiest on the planet too.

Equally unsurprising are the countries lower at the bottom of the list - almost all of which are in the midst by bloody civil war, political unrest or crushing poverty.

One surprising anomaly, however, is Palestine, which came just below the midway point in the study at number 108, despite being ravaged by conflict.
Maybe they're only happy when they're fighting?

Their Fair Share

Hypocrites, reveal thy-selves:
MSNBC, the liberal network that advocates at every turn for a progressive revenue system, is home to four tax delinquents who have all lectured their audience about tax fairness over the years.

Rev. Al Sharpton, PoliticsNation host and civil rights activist, has more than $4.5 million in state and federal tax liens against him and his for-profit businesses, according to the New York Times. The IRS filed a $70,000 tax lien against MSNBC weekend host Melissa Harris-Perry and her husband earlier this month.

The Cycle co-host Touré and former The Reid Report host Joy Reid, still a contributor, are also in debt to the government. National Review reviewed public records and reported Touré owes more than $59,000, while Reid owes nearly $5,000. Representatives said their debts are in the process of being resolved.
Taxes for thee, not for me...

You Can't See Me

What's it like to be invisible?
Once the illusion of the invisible body was created, the researchers tried two different experiments. The first one measured the sweating of skin and increased heart rate in response to a knife threatening the empty space representing the body, said Arvid Guterstam, a former doctoral student in cognitive neuroscience who is now at the University of Washington.

“We were measuring that the illusion actually works,” Guterstam said. “The brain should react with automatic stress response when sharp object is approaching. We showed you have an increased stress response and similar to illusion of having mannequin body.”

In the second experiment, the researchers created an invisible body in front of a crowd of strangers in the room. In both instances, the body exhibited a stress reaction.
You are a ghost...

From Russia With Cash

It certainly pays to have friends:
New York Times reporter Jo Becker, who spent months investigating the deal before publishing a story Thursday, said Guistra and Clinton were both "whisked to the [palace] of President Nazarbayev in Kazakhstan, and it's a fascinating story, because everybody walked away from the table that night with something."

Clinton, Becker said, "basically endorsed" the "progress" Kazakhstan had made on its democracy, though Nazarbayev was elected "with 90 percent-plus of the vote ... in an election that was widely criticized as being rigged."

Schweizer said Clinton even held a press conference with the president and praised his human rights record.

In the end, Giustra got what he wanted.

"The bottom line is after they leave, a couple of days later, Frank Giustra gets his uranium concessions, which end up being enormously lucrative to him and to a small group of Canadian mining investors," Schweizer said.

Becker said his company went from "a worthless shell company overnight -- became this ...huge uranium mining deal."

And then soon after that, Becker said, "Bill Clinton got a huge donation, $31 million from Frank Guistra to his charitable foundation, followed by a pledge to donate $100 million more."
In Russia, donation buys you...

Palms Up

Somebody's crystal ball was cracked:
During a hearing before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, a witness testified that a VA manager in Philadelphia allegedly compelled subordinates at a party to pay his wife $30 each to have their fortunes read, according to the Washington Times.

The hearing Wednesday reportedly addressed widespread allegations within the department's offices across the country -- from accusations of mental abuse of employees to falsifying records.

Rep. Jeff Miller, a Florida Republican and committee chairman, asked Kristen Ruell, a quality review specialist who works at the Philadelphia VA office, about reports a manager had his subordinates pay his fortune-telling wife for her services, the newspaper reported. The accusations stemmed from a dinner party with VA employees last June.
The wife should have seen this coming...

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Safety Zone Dance

The safety culture versus freedom of speech:
Faced with a speaker who thinks outside the box, campus groups lit up in protest. Students taped their mouths shut. Others heckled and jeered Sommers as a “rape apologist.” Still others advertised alternate “safe spaces” for students “traumatized” by a speech.

“The students were so carried away with the idea that I was a threat to their safety,” Sommers told the website Campus Reform, that Oberlin officials “arranged for security guards to escort me to and from the lecture to protect me from the safe spacers.” This sounds sane, if it’s Opposite Day.

Oberlin and Georgetown are not alone. Campus panic over “unsafe” speakers — and the subsequent tendency of universities to chicken out and disinvite guests like Charles Murray, Condoleezza Rice and Ayaan Hirsi Ali — has grown to the extent that an official “Disinvitation Dinner” was launched in New York last week with keynote speaker George Will.
Dare to disagree, and the students will be forced to flee to their safe rooms...

We Heart Subsides

Keep the subsidies going, say...Republicans?
The legislation, offered by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), one of the most politically vulnerable Senate incumbents in 2016, would maintain the federal HealthCare.gov tax credits at stake in King v. Burwell through the end of August 2017.

The bill was unveiled this week with 29 other cosponsors, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his four top deputies, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), John Thune (R-SD), John Barrasso (R-WY) and Roy Blunt (R-MO). Another cosponsor is Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), the chairman of the conference's electoral arm.

Such a move would seek to protect the GOP from political peril in the 2016 elections when Democrats would try to blame the party for stripping subsidies — and maybe insurance coverage — from millions of Americans in three dozen states. A defeat for the Obama administration in a King ruling would likely create havoc across insurance markets and pose a huge problem for Republicans, many of whom have been pushing the Supreme Court to nix the subsidies.

"This bill is a first step toward reversing the damage that Obamacare has inflicted on the American health care system," Johnson said.
But until then, we have to try and save our phony-baloney jobs...

Lynch Pin

Well, here she is:
Ms. Lynch, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, was confirmed 56 to 43, with 10 Republicans voting for her.

Her confirmation took longer than that for all but two other nominees for the office: Edwin Meese III, who was nominated by President Ronald Reagan, and A. Mitchell Palmer, who was picked by President Woodrow Wilson, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Republicans have found themselves in a quandary for months. They longed to replace Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., and they agreed that Ms. Lynch was qualified for the job. But they opposed her because Ms. Lynch defended President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
So who voted for her?
The Senate voted 56-43 in favor of Lynch, approving her with help of Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Thad Cochran (Miss.), Susan Collins (Maine), Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Orrin Hatch (Utah), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Mark Kirk (Ill.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Their non-work is done...

Drone War

President Obama, on an accidental drone strike:
“As president and as commander in chief, I take full responsibility for all our counterterrorism operations,” including the one that inadvertently took the lives of the two captives, a grim-faced Mr. Obama said in a statement to reporters in the White House briefing room.

“I profoundly regret what happened,” he added. “On behalf of the U.S. government, I offer our deepest apologies to the families.”

Mr. Obama’s remarks came shortly after the White House released an extraordinary statement revealing that intelligence officials had confirmed that Warren Weinstein, an American held by Al Qaeda since 2011, and Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian held since 2012, died during a drone strike . The White House did not explain why it has taken three months to disclose the episode, although it typically takes some weeks after a strike to confirm the identities of casualties.

Two other Americans who belonged to Al Qaeda, Ahmed Farouq and Adam Gadahn, were also killed in American operations in the same region, the statement said. Neither had been specifically targeted and their presence at the sites of the operations was not known at the time, officials said.
Some more on Gadahn here. So at least they did get him.

Maker Believe

Remembering the start of the Maker Movement:
By the end of the weekend, the thoroughly inspired and spent organizers realized they were clearly onto something, something potentially big and significant. As founding Editor-in-Chief Mark Frauenfelder recalls: “None of us, the staff or the attendees, had any idea what to expect. The Faire turned out to be one of those things that was way better than any of us could have imagined. It was the Woodstock moment for our tribe, a lovefest and kickoff event for a new way of life for hundreds of thousands of us.”
Happy Maker Day!

Sisters

Shades of The Dark Half:
Teratomas are embryonal tumors -- the most common brain tumors in infants less than 36 months old -- that are typically benign, but are defined as being composed either of tissues that are foreign to the area, or tissues that derive from all three of the germ layers. Germ layers contribute to the formation of all organs and tissues during embryonic development, according to The Embryo Project Encyclopedia. These masses can sometimes contain hair, teeth, bone neurons or even eyes.

"This is my second one, and I've probably taken out 7,000 or 8,000 brain tumors,” Shahinian told NBC 4.

Karanam referred to the tumor as her “evil twin sister who’s been torturing me for the past 26 years,” NBC 4 reported.
Having someone inside your head is literally not fun...

Equal Opportunity Cash Critic

The author of Clinton Cash has a new target:
“What we’re doing is a drill-down investigation of Jeb’s finances similar to what we did with the Clintons in terms of looking at financial dealings, cronyism, who he’s been involved with,” Schweizer told me on Thursday. “We’ve found some interesting things.”
....

Schweizer says he and a team of researchers have been pouring over Bush’s financial life for about four months. Among other things, they’re scrutinizing various Florida land deals, an airport deal while Bush was governor that involved state funds, and Chinese investors in Bush’s private equity funds (something I wrote about for Bloomberg last year).
Sorry, liberals-both sides are equally corrupt...

Singing On The Brain

How an MRI scanner passes the time:
“The technique excels at high spatial and temporal resolution of speech — it’s both very detailed and very fast,” the institute’s technical director Brad Sutton said in a statement. “Often you can have only one these in [magnetic resonance] imaging. We have designed a specialized acquisition method that gathers the necessary data for both space and time in two parts and then combines them to achieve high-quality, high-spatial resolution and high-speed imaging.”

The technology, he said, allows researchers to use MRI in a way they couldn’t have a couple of years ago.

Johnson’s research seeks to better understand how the “neuromuscular system and larynx change and atrophy as we age,” he said. Then, he wonders if any sort of vocal training or other techniques could reverse the aging effects.

“In order to do this, I need to look at how the muscles of the larynx move in real time,” he said, explaining how the MRI video comes in handy.
Singing keeps you young:

Healthy As A Lie

Caught in a lie:
Mother-of-one Gibson, 23, has now admitted she fabricated the cancer, when quizzed by the Australian Women's Weekly.

"No. None of it is true," she confessed in an interview published Thursday entitled "My lifelong struggle with the truth".

"I just think (speaking out) was the responsible thing to do. Above anything else, I want people to say 'okay, she's human'."

Gibson added that after years of lies, confronting the truth was "very scary, to be honest".

Reports said she had received hate mail and even death threats since being exposed. She said the backlash had been "beyond horrible".

Gibson did not go into detail about her motivations for lying, other than that she had a troubled childhood.
Honesty is the healthiest policy...

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Blogging In The Years: 1995

Clifford Stoll is not a fan of this Internet thing:
The Usenet, a worldwide bulletin board, allows anyone to post messages across the nation. Your word gets out, leapfrogging editors and publishers. Every voice can be heard cheaply and instantly. The result? Every voice is heard. The cacophany more closely resembles citizens band radio, complete with handles, harrasment, and anonymous threats. When most everyone shouts, few listen. How about electronic publishing? Try reading a book on disc. At best, it's an unpleasant chore: the myopic glow of a clunky computer replaces the friendly pages of a book. And you can't tote that laptop to the beach. Yet Nicholas Negroponte, director of the MIT Media Lab, predicts that we'll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Intenet. Uh, sure.
When you put it that way, it does sound like crazy talk...

The Kermit Connection

The Muppets grow up:
In what’s being billed as a first for The Muppets, the personal lives of the characters will be explored. ABC’s official new logline reads: “The Muppets return to prime time with a contemporary, documentary-style show that—for the first time ever—will explore the Muppets’ personal lives and relationships, both at home and at work, as well as romances, break-ups, achievements, disappointments, wants and desires; a more adult Muppet show, for kids of all ages.”
I wondered when Animal's drug use would be dealt with...

The Government Grapevine

Can the government take your raisins?
At issue today in Horne v. United States Department of Agriculture is a federal regulatory scheme which dates back to the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, a New Deal law designed to raise agricultural prices by tightly controlling the amount of agricultural products that went to market. For raisin “handlers” such as family farmers Marvin and Laura Horne of California, what this means in practice is that each year they are required to turn over a certain percentage of their crop to the federal government, or else pay the government the dollar equivalent of that crop, plus certain fines. The federal government then enjoys exclusive control over those raisins, and may opt to sell them for export, or put them to other use, such as in school lunch programs. To put that in perspective, in 2002-2003, the Hornes and other farmers were told to hand over 30 percent of their raisin crop, which amounted to 89,000 tons. In return, the federal government paid nothing.
California isn't the only land of fruits and nuts...

What Mother Earth Gave Us

Be sure to thank your mother:
Over almost a one-hundred year period from 1949 to 2040, fossil fuels have provided, and will continue to provide, the vast majority of our energy by far according to Obama’s Department of Energy. Last year, fossil fuels provided more than 83% of America’s energy consumption, which was nearly unchanged from the 85% fossil fuel share twenty years ago in the early 1990s.

Even more than a quarter of a century from now in 2040, the Department of Energy forecasts that fossil fuels will still be the dominant energy source, providing more than 81% of our energy needs.
Thanks, Mom!

X Files Of The North

It's aliens, eh?
Paul Hellyer, who was a Canadian minister from 1963 to 1967, is now urging world powers to release what he believes to be hidden data on UFOs.

'Much of the media won't touch [the documents]', he said during a keynote speech at the Disclosure Canada Tour at the University of Calgary.

You just have to keep working away and hope that someday you get a critical mass,' he said, according to a report by CTV.

'[The public] will say, in one way or another, "Mr President or Mr Prime Minister we want the truth and we want it now because it affects our lives."'

Hellyer, 91, first went public with his belief in aliens on Earth in 2005, becoming the first high ranking politician to do so.
It's certainly cold enough to keep aliens on ice up there...

The Crying Game

The tears of Japan:
“Rui-katsu isn’t like crying alone in my room. I don’t feel depressed after crying here,” a 23-year-old woman explained to The Asahi Shimbun. Today, sessions are held all across Tokyo, and similar events have sprung up in Nagoya and Osaka; people throughout the country have also taken to sharing online lists of songs and video clips sure to get the tears flowing. As for Terai, he has gone on to write a series of books about crying, most recently Ikemeso Danshi, which features photos of attractive men sobbing.

Rui-katsu seems to be popular not because Japanese people are big criers, but precisely because they aren’t. Data from the International Study on Adult Crying suggest that, of the 37 nationalities polled, the Japanese are among the least likely to cry. (Americans, by contrast, are among the most likely.) “Hiding one’s anger and sadness is considered a virtue in Japanese culture,” a Japanese psychiatrist told the newspaper Chunichi Shimbun in 2013.
Let it all out?

Don't Call Us

The IRS is not taking your calls:
The IRS’ overloaded phone system hung up on more than 8 million taxpayers this filing season as the agency cut millions of dollars from taxpayer services.
For those who weren’t disconnected, only 40 percent actually got through to a person. Many of those people had to wait on hold for more than 30 minutes.
....

At a hearing Wednesday, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen blamed budget cuts. The agency’s budget has been cut by $1.2 billion since 2010.
Koskinen said the agency is required by law to implement the health law, leaving him with few places to cut.
But plenty of places to waste...

Ride Along

At GM, car drives you:
It's a totally autonomous electric car that GM says "offers a glimpse at mobility of the future." That glimpse includes "crystal laser headlights and taillights, dragonfly dual swing doors, magnetic hubless wheel electric motors, and a wireless auto-charge system."

Not only that; the front seats can swivel 180 degrees to face the rear passengers when the car is driving itself, which it can do very well thanks to a roof-mounted radar system that maps your environment as it goes.

It even uses iris recognition as a starting mechanism.
Look upon me, lowly human, and tremble!

Planet Of The Lawsuits

Take your stinking paws off me, you dirty lawyer:
Hercules and Leo have now made history as being the first animals ever to be covered by a writ of habeas corpus, which to date has only been granted to human beings. The writ will allow the court to decide their fate.

The court had originally thrown out the lawsuit. But thanks to the appeal process and the diligence of the animal rights’ group, the court granted the writ and has ordered a representative of the university to appear in court next month to argue why the chimpanzees should not be released and moved to a sanctuary in Florida.
It's a madhouse...

Life Edit

Welcome to a Brave New World:
Chinese scientists have reported editing the genomes of human embryos. The results are published1 in the online journal Protein & Cell and confirm widespread rumours that such experiments had been conducted—rumours that sparked a high-profile debate last month2, 3 about the ethical implications of such work.

In the paper, researchers led by Junjiu Huang, a gene-function researcher at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, tried to head off such concerns by using 'non-viable' embryos, which cannot result in a live birth, that were obtained from local fertility clinics. The team attempted to modify the gene responsible for β-thalassaemia, a potentially fatal blood disorder, using a gene-editing technique known as CRISPR/Cas9. The researchers say that their results reveal serious obstacles to using the method in medical applications.

"I believe this is the first report of CRISPR/Cas9 applied to human pre-implantation embryos and as such the study is a landmark, as well as a cautionary tale," says George Daley, a stem-cell biologist at Harvard Medical School in Boston. "Their study should be a stern warning to any practitioner who thinks the technology is ready for testing to eradicate disease genes."
Is the cure worse than the disease?

Lecture Now, Pay Later

See MSNBC hosts in full hypocrisy mode:

Nanny Won't See You Now

It begins:
When senior managers at 67 Clinical Commissioning Groups – local health trusts – were asked, 39 per cent said they were planning to ‘limit access’ to routine treatment for financial reasons.

Procedures affected include varicose vein treatment, hip and knee replacement, and breast reduction surgery.

Others said smokers might be denied some treatments, most commonly IVF.

Senior doctors criticised the plans and accused health managers of denying patients vital treatment simply because they were considered to be ‘undeserving’.

Dr David Paynton, of the Royal College of GPs, said: ‘Decisions about whether our patients are eligible for surgery or treatment need to be made on a case-by-case basis and by answering the question of whether surgery will benefit a patient’s long-term physical and mental health.

‘It should not be the role of CCGs to impose blanket bans on our patients’ access to surgery, nor to decide who is and who is not deserving of potentially life-saving treatments based on their lifestyle choices.
Welcome to the ration state...

Big Wheels

Big vehicles are back:
With gas prices now at about $2.27 per gallon, Edmunds.com says it would take more than twice as long to save enough on gas to make up the price difference between a Camry LE and a Camry Hybrid.

Electric cars are also facing increased competition from more fuel-efficient vehicles. Aside from market forces, federal fuel efficiency standards have been forcing automakers to increase the miles per gallon of engines.

Electric cars also suffer from issues with battery life. Each hybrid or electric car battery can cost thousands, or even tens of thousands, of dollars, which only helps tip the economic scale in favor of traditional vehicles.
The free market always wins...

Back To The Cave

Jeb Bush goes primitive:
For Paleo practitioners, lean meat and fruits and vegetables are in and processed foods, dairy products and sugary delights are out.
For Bush, the results have been noticeable. Late last year he was something of a pudgy doughboy with a full face and soft jawline. Today the 6-foot, 4-inch-tall Bush sports a more chiseled look. His campaign-in-waiting would not say how much he had lost, but he looks to have shed 20 or 30 pounds.
His son George P. Bush, the newly elected Texas land commissioner, talked Jeb and Jeb Bush Jr. into trying it, a source close to Bush said.
Bush, who associates say has been dining on grilled chicken and salad while snacking on nuts and also exercising, is hardly the first politician to aim for a leaner look ahead of an expected campaign.
Or the first to be accused of being a caveman...

His Favorite Thing

Jeb gives praise:
Appearing on Michael Medved’s radio program, Bush responded to a question from the host, saying he thinks the administration’s support for the National Security Agency ranks highest on his list.

“I would say the best part of the Obama administration would be his continuance of the protections of the homeland using the big metadata programs,” he said.

“The NSA being enhanced,” Bush continued. “Advancing this, even though he never defends it, even though he never openly admits it, there has been a continuation of a very important service which is the first obligation of our national government — to keep us safe.”

If Bush decides to run for president, he is likely to be challenged by opponents over his position.
From which side?

Family Affair

Ben Affleck apologizes:
“I felt embarrassed,” Affleck wrote on Facebook. “The very thought left a bad taste in my mouth.”

The Oscar-winner, addressing the issue for the first time, confirmed reports that he asked executive producer Henry “Skip” Gates Jr. to withhold his ancestors’ slave history after the genealogical series made the discovery. Gates is also a professor at Harvard.

“I didn’t want any television show about my family to include a guy who owned slaves,” Affleck explained, adding that the revelation made him feel extremely uncomfortable and vulnerable.
You really can't choose your ancestors, but you have to be honest about them, too...