Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cliff Notes

A reminder from Charles Krauthammer:

Progressive Regression

What happened to libertarian progressives?
From a libertarian perspective, '90s progressives were good on issues the New Democrats stunk up (particularly criminal justice and the drug war) and bad on those that made the Clintonites worthwhile, such as lowering trade barriers and restraining federal budget growth. At their best, such as at the "shadow conventions" organized by Arianna Huffington in 2000, progressives of the era challenged both parties to address long-neglected issues and reverse government policies that actively damaged people's lives.

Since many of the people who self-identified that way came of political age in the '60s and '70s, progressives on the whole clearly belonged to the longhaired side of the culture war. They were the ones mocking the squares, pushing the envelope on free expression, and taking up arms in the sexual revolution.
Not anymore, unfortunately...

Government Property Values

More land for the government?
The federal government hasn’t even designated the requisite cash it takes to properly manage the property it already owns, resulting in a major maintenance backlog, and yet it is constantly acquiring more land — largely via the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which President Obama has oh-so-proudly declared he will fully fund to the tune of around $900 million a year. Perhaps instead of using that money to acquire more land and thus expand those restrictive land-use policies, the feds could instead use that money to better steward the existing federal estate? And hey, while they’re at it, perhaps they could actually sell off some of the federal estate, or even just relinquish some of it to state control, the better to service that $17 trillion debt in which we’re floundering?
Land for them, not for thee...

Stumbling Blocks

Are kids forgetting how to use their fingers?
Many children aged just three or four can “swipe a screen” but have little or no dexterity in their fingers after spending hours glued to iPads, it was claimed.
Members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers also warned how some older children were unable to complete traditional pen and paper exams because their memory had been eroded by overexposure to screen-based technology.
They called on parents to crackdown on tablet computer use and even turn off wi-fi at night to address the problem.
The comments were made after Ofcom figures showed the proportion of households with tablet computers more than doubled from 20 to 51 per cent last year.
The finger of youth, having swiped, works no more...

Spies On The Prize

The NSA revelations take top prize:
The awards came amid an unusual political climate with the newspapers earning both praise for revealing the global scope of the surveillance operations and criticism for leaking secret documents.

The US unit of the British newspaper was honored for "helping through aggressive reporting to spark a debate about the relationship between the government and the public over issues of security and privacy," the committee said.

It recognized The Post for its "authoritative and insightful reports that helped the public understand how the (NSA) disclosures fit into the larger framework of national security."

The shared award went to the two newspapers credited with breaking the news about NSA surveillance programs, without specifically citing the journalists involved.
Eric Snowden declares victory, but does he deserve the credit?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Merge Select

Some mergers seem to be more equal than others:
FCC Chairman Genachowski is a longtime technology advisor for Barack Obama, serving on his transition team. Obama appointed him FCC Chairman in 2009. He and his wife, another Obama appointee, are long time Obama donors. Ms. Hesse, then in charge of the AT&T merger at FCC, has donated more than $6K to Obama for America. In a policy forum last year, Ms. Hesse stated the Obama Administration’s approach to antitrust was “vigorous enforcement.” But does that apply evenly across all merger applications?

On February 14, 2014, Comcast announced intent to acquire Time Warner Cable in a deal worth $45.2 billion—$6 billion more than the AT&T/T-Mobile deal. This merger would also result in an approximate 40% market share. Overseeing this application at DOJ will be vigorous enforcer Deputy AG Hesse. As with AT&T, will the FCC and Department of Justice deny the Comcast merger, and in record time?

If AT&T is “red,” Comcast and Time Warner Cable are deep “blue.” In 2012, Comcast employees donated $465K to the Democrat National Committee vs. $114K to the Republican National Committee and supported Obama over Republican Mitt Romney by nearly four to one. Time Warner donations were $442K Obama and $28K Romney.

Comcast also has two Obama cronies working the merger. CEO Brian Roberts is an Obama golfing buddy whose political giving is 90% Democratic. Overseeing the merger is Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen.
"Friendly" mergers with friends...

Der Naked German

Germans bare all:
Around the continent, Germans have the reputation of being “nudist obsessive” as well as “tanning obsessive.” It’s no surprise that many nudist beaches around Europe are frequented mostly by Germans — as are saunas and Turkish baths, where it’s a safe assumption that the most comfortable naked body walking nearby belongs to a German.

“Germans are often considered to be more at one with nature than us prudish Brits,” the Mail Online commented.

Atlantic Cities reaches an interesting conclusion: “Allowing nude sunbathing in these six places, Munich is in many ways only acknowledging a practice that has gone on for years.”
You can literally be comfortable in your own skin, so to speak...

Dusty Trails

Why is Harry Reid so interested in a cattle ranch?
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said little as federal agents seized and then released cattle last week from the Bundy ranch, but there is little doubt that the highly charged episode was threatening to become a political headache for the Nevada Democrat.

The Bureau of Land Management is headed by former longtime Reid aide Neil Kornze, who was confirmed by the Senate as BLM director on Tuesday, just as federal authorities descended on the cattle ranch outside Mesquite, Nev.
....

Speculation spiked in recent days over Mr. Reid’s connection to the BLM episode, in which federal contractors seized about 400 head of cattle from 68-year-old rancher Cliven Bundy over his refusal to pay an estimated $1 million in grazing fees over 20 years.

“It was likely pressure from upstairs, rather than weapons from the field, that changed his mind on the matter,” the liberal group Americans Against the Tea Party said in an online post. “Fact is, Harry Reid probably didn’t want his name attached to the biggest civilian massacre in U.S. history right before election season.”
Sorry, Harry-no acreage for you...

V Cream

Just in time for Spring:
The Arousal flavour contains around 25mg of Viagra per scoop. It was created on specific request from a celebrity customer of South Wales ice cream company, Lick Me I’m Delicious.

Inventor Charlie Harry Francis added the Viagra to the ice cream and used champagne for flavour to complete the bespoke recipe.

Viagra is available in 25 milligrams, 50 milligrams, and 100 milligrams. For most patients, the recommended dose is 50 milligrams.

Mr Francis says he was approached by an ‘A-list celebrity’ to create the very specific flavour for a party, and spent a few days perfecting the recipe.

He said: ‘It's all very secretive. We had to sign a confidentiality agreement so I can't reveal the name of the client.

‘All I'm allowed to say is it was for a party and that they were very happy with the end result and that I made “the required amount”.'
Bob Dole waited a long time for this...

Changes

Better late than never:
he Internal Revenue Service is prepared to rewrite a proposed rule regulating the political activities of non-profit groups to address complaints from the right and left that it goes too far, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said Monday.

"In all likelihood we will re-propose a redefined rule and ask for more public comment," Koskinen told USA TODAY's Capital Download. It's a process he predicts will take "until the end of the year and beyond" to complete. The proposed regulation of groups known as 501(c)(4)s drew a record 150,000 comments before the deadline in late February.

He said the new rule would take into account backlash from conservative Tea Party groups as well as some liberal advocacy organizations that the agency's proposal – intended to address concerns that the tax-exempt groups were engaged in partisan warfare – would bar, even voter education and registration programs.

He was interviewed on the eve of Tax Day, the April 15 deadline for Americans to file their returns.

"I think we have to take all of that into consideration," Koskinen told the weekly video newsmaker series. "There are very thoughtful comments and concerns, and one of the questions that has evoked a lot of comment is, once you define what political activity is, to what organizations should it apply in the 501(c) context and how much of it should be allowed? All of that is going to be very important."
At least as long as people are paying attention...

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Daydream Nation

Is daydreaming a mental disorder?
Called sluggish cognitive tempo, the condition is said to be characterized by lethargy, daydreaming and slow mental processing. By some researchers’ estimates, it is present in perhaps two million children.

Experts pushing for more research into sluggish cognitive tempo say it is gaining momentum toward recognition as a legitimate disorder — and, as such, a candidate for pharmacological treatment. Some of the condition’s researchers have helped Eli Lilly investigate how its flagship A.D.H.D. drug might treat it.

The Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology devoted 136 pages of its January issue to papers describing the illness, with the lead paper claiming that the question of its existence “seems to be laid to rest as of this issue.” The psychologist Russell Barkley of the Medical University of South Carolina, for 30 years one of A.D.H.D.’s most influential and visible proponents, has claimed in research papers and lectures that sluggish cognitive tempo “has become the new attention disorder.”
As opposed to just being lazy...

Brush Deduction

In Mexico, you can paint your way out of taxation:
The program is simple—donations are made according to reported sales. If an artist sells between one and five pieces of art in a given year, he or she donates one piece to the federal government. If the artist sells between six and eight pieces, he or she donates two, and so on, with an annual cap of six donations. Only painters, sculptors, and graphic artists can participate, though program administrators are currently considering whether to include performance art as an acceptable means of payment. A committee of artists and curators oversees the donations process to ensure that the art received meets certain quality standards. If the art is of a particularly high caliber, it becomes part of the “national-heritage collection,” which is displayed in a permanent exhibit in Mexico City. All other pieces are divided up and shipped across the country to fill public museums and administrative buildings. Certain pieces are also sent abroad as part of exhibitions coordinated with museums across the world. Last year alone, the program sent Pago en Especie pieces to 13 international galleries.
Art for tax incentive's sake?

Weed Machine

The pot vending machine has arrived:
Stephen Shearin’s company, American Green, delivered the “Zazz.” It’s Colorado’s first marijuana edibles vending machine. “Many people could look at this and say that’s just a vending machine, and they’d be right but mostly wrong.”
That’s for sure. The machine will soon be stocked with goods from Herbal Elements from nearby Eagle-Vail.
“We’re looking forward to using the ZAZZ machine to easily track all this inventory … we’re gonna eliminate the middle man. It’ll go straight from the budtender right into our machine. There’s no room for theft by patients, employees … there’s no way to lose track of the inventory,” says Herbal Elements owner Greg Honan.
Buying a pot brownie won’t be as easy as sticking in a few quarters like you would do for a Snickers candy bar.
You’ll need to have a valid medical marijuana card and your ID will have to be verified before you can get anything out of the vending machine.
But these folks are convinced they’re about to revolutionize their industry with the green machine.
“I don’t think we’ve dreamed what it can do yet, and that’s the whole point. You start with this and you start making your way into the future. I think this is a great starting point, and we’re excited about it,” Shearin says.
At least it will be next to the regular munchies...

Sun Money

They just want their cut:
Federal investigators will spend the next year going through the books of two solar-energy companies tied to billionaire Elon Musk in an effort to show the businesses overvalued sales contracts in order to claim millions in federal assistance.

The government action comes in response to a lawsuit brought by the two companies, subsidiaries of Musk’s San Mateo, California-based Solar City.

SolarCity builds and leases solar-energy systems, and already has received more than $244 million in federal tax incentives. In its lawsuit, the companies say the feds shortchanged them $14.6 million.

“The Treasury has failed to pay Plaintiffs cash grants in the amounts that they are entitled to, thereby materially frustrating congressional intent (of solar grants),” the complaint said.
Greedy is as greedy does...

Just The Facts

They're the media's own truth-tellers:
Following the notoriety in the United States, similar fact-checking news organizations have sprung up on every continent, gaining attention in places ranging from Egypt to Australia, Chile and France, according to a Duke University study.

The study led by Bill Adair, a Duke faculty member who was a founder of PolitiFact at the Tampa Bay Times, identified 59 fact-checking groups globally, of which more than 15 are in the United States.

"It really surprised me how much fact-checking is going on around the world," Adair told AFP.

"I had no idea there was this much, particularly in places such as Eastern Europe. These sites are using fact-checking and are holding politicians accountable for their promises. It's really become a strong movement in journalism."

Recognizing the growth, the Poynter Institute journalism school has organized the first global fact-checking summit, to be held in June in London.

"Fact-checking is quickly becoming an important new form of accountability journalism," said Poynter president Tim Franklin.
Doing the job that journalists won't do...

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Gas Tax

A tax in the wind?
The EPA is currently barred from regulating methane emissions from livestock production through an “annual appropriations rider” that expires every year. But this does not mean the EPA will not try again, warn Republicans.

“In 2008, as part of its Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to regulate GHGs under the Clean Air Act, the EPA deliberated regulating agriculture-related emissions, which would have required farmers to purchase expensive permits,” Republicans wrote to the heads of the USDA, DOE and EPA.

“It was estimated that these top-down regulations would have cost medium-sized dairy farms with 75 to 125 cows between $13,000 and $22,000 a year, and medium-sized cattle farms with 200 to 300 cows between $17,000 and $27,000,” Republicans added. “We reject the notion that the EPA should, absent express authorization from Congress, seek to regulate the agriculture sector in this manner.”

Though EPA chief Gina McCarthy said there are no plans to regulate cattle emissions, there are still worries the agency could crack down on methane emissions from cow flatulence. The EPA says the digestive systems of cows produce methane through a process called “enteric fermentation”.
Well, they would know...

Undercover Al

The time Al Sharpton discussed a drug deal with an undercover FBI agent:
An undercover FBI agent, using the name Victor Quintana, set up a meeting with King to discuss a boxing match in the Bahamas — but King had a bad feeling about the potential business partner and pawned him off on Sharpton.

“King was sly — he knew something was off about this,” Curington said. “So he kept him downstairs and let his new best friend Al Sharpton talk to him.”

Sharpton was eager to help, and “would spend cash taking him to dinner and chauffeur him around in a limo, feeling him out,” Curington said.

Then, at a restaurant, “they are talking and cutting their steaks. The agent’s voice changes, midstream, and he says, ‘I know where 10 kilos of cocaine are and we can make some big money on this.’

“Sharpton didn’t roll alone — he had a friend or adviser with him who says, ‘Hold it! This meeting is over. You come in here talking about boxing and now you’re gonna talk about cocaine? Let’s go, Al. We’re not into that.’

“Sharpton was hesitant to leave,” Curington remembered. “I believe he wanted to hear him out, but he listened to his friend.”

Sharpton met with Quintana a second time, in a hotel. Again, ­cocaine came up, and Sharpton’s pals called off the meeting.

At the third meeting with Quintana, Sharpton made sure to go alone — wearing a cowboy hat and chomping on an unlit cigar, which was made famous in footage from the FBI surveillance leaked in 2002.

“The agent said you would get $3,500 per kilo,” said Curington, who was not at the meetings but was told about them by Sharpton.

“Sharpton moved on it, and they sprung the trap on him right away. They got him.
“Al told me himself. He bit and took the bait.”
Keep your friends close-especially when somebody tries to get you up on charges...

Truckin'

One man's quest to build the ultimate truck:
Around the time Kira was born, Ferren had an idea. What if he built an all-new, bigger and better expedition vehicle? No, more than that, what if he made the ultimate adventure truck, the very platonic ideal of such a thing—which he could outfit for a family of three? He started to envision a vehicle that could take Kira nearly anywhere on earth without limitation—a mix of high-powered machinery, bomb-shelter self-sufficiency, and luxe-life accoutrements. It would be a mobile, malleable five-star fortress. It could form the centerpiece of his and Kira’s exploration of the world and be her ride into the future. Before he drew up the first blueprints, he’d given it a name: the KiraVan.

Ferren then set out to build the thing, which required dealing with all manner of complicated questions. For example: What materials could he use that would endure both extreme cold and extreme heat? “You’d think it’d be harder to design a jet than an off-road car,” he says. “You’d be wrong. It actually gives you an appreciation for why there are so many shitty cars and why there are so few great anythings. Because, it turns out, to do a great thing is hard.”

To answer the hundreds of questions nagging at him in his quest to build a supertruck, Ferren traveled all over the globe to seek the advice of experts. He spoke with mining consultants to learn how their equipment survives harsh conditions. He picked the brains of oil explorers to find out how their machinery functions over difficult terrain.

Now, nearly four years later, it is almost, sorta, kinda finished, and while Ferren won’t divulge the exact budget of the truck, he grants that its total cost is in the millions. If Ferren’s claims are to be believed, when it finally hits the road sometime this year it will be the most elaborate all-terrain vehicle ever built—a six-wheeled terrestrial spaceship capable of traversing nearly any terrain, from mud-swamped roads to rock-covered pathways to small bodies of water. It will be able to travel up to 2,000 miles without resupply and navigate slopes as steep as 45 degrees—an incline that is difficult to walk up.
Also good for the zombie apocalypse...

How The Other Half Phones

Android, the poor man's phone?
If you live in the New York metro area, you don't need to be told that Manhattan is where the region's rich people live, and the poor live in Newark. Manhattan's median income is $67,000 a year. Newark's is $17,000, according to U.S. Census data.
The rich, it seems, use iPhones while the poor tweet from Androids.

The map was created by Mapbox, which markets beautiful mapping software. You can use it to zero in on your ZIP code and see how your neighborhood breaks down.

Even within Manhattan, the iPhone / Android divide picks out the wealthier neighborhoods from the poorer ones. Here is the split along the border of the Village (think brownstones and chic little designer stores) and Chinatown and the Lower East side (noodle joints and bodegas, plus a large public housing complex).
The rich have different phones than the rest of us...

Walking The Dog

More women prefer dogs:
“I’d rather have a dog over a kid,” declared Sara Foster, 30, a Chelsea equities trader who says her French bulldog, Maddie, brings her more joy than a child.
“It’s just less work and, honestly, I have more time to go out. You . . . don’t have to get a baby sitter.”
The federal data behind the report show that over the past seven years, the number of live births per 1,000 women between ages 15 and 29 in America has plunged 9 percent.
At the same time, research by the American Pet Products Association shows the number of small dogs — under 25 pounds — in the United States has skyrocketed, from 34. 1 million in 2008 to 40.8 million in 2012.
It's good to be small and cute-when you're a pet...

Hill Of Beans

Britain's bean war:
Labour peer Viscount Simon, 73, raised concerns about the “smelly emissions” resulting from the UK’s unusually high consumption of baked beans.

He put energy and climate change minister Baroness Verma on the spot during the government’s daily question session in the upper chamber. …

Lord Simon said: “In a programme some months ago on the BBC it was stated that this country has the largest production of baked beans and the largest consumption of baked beans in the world.”

To laughter from peers, he added: “Could the noble baroness say whether this affects the calculation of global warming by the government as a result of the smelly emission resulting there from?”
But everyone needs beans:

Brothers In Arms

Funny that she forgot about it:
According to a recent Politico investigation into the Koch brothers and how they spend their money, it appears that the Kochs don’t just give to Republicans, like so many people believe, and in fact have given money to Senator Mary Landrieu. They found that since 2000, Ms. Landrieu has accepted $55,000 from the KochPAC.

As the Washington Free Beacon previously reported, Landrieu has received $27,000 since 2000 from Koch Industries, and another $35,000 from KochPAC, including $15,000 in the current election cycle.
They're only un-American until they give you money...

Cool Ranch

The Feds back down in Nevada:
Cliven Bundy went head to head with the Bureau of Land Management over the removal of hundreds of his cattle from federal land, where the government said they were grazing illegally.

Bundy claims his herd of roughly 900 cattle have grazed on the land along the riverbed near Bunkerville, 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, since 1870 and threatened a "range war" against the BLM on the Bundy Ranch website after one of his sons was arrested while protesting the removal of the cattle.

"I have no contract with the United States government," Bundy said. "I was paying grazing fees for management and that's what BLM was supposed to be, land managers and they were managing my ranch out of business, so I refused to pay."

The federal government had countered that Bundy "owes the American people in excess of $1 million " in unpaid grazing fees and "refuses to abide by the law of land, despite many opportunities over the last 20 years to do so."

However, today the BLM said it would not enforce a court order to remove the cattle and was pulling out of the area.

"Based on information about conditions on the ground, and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concern about the safety of employees and members of the public," BLM Director Neil Kornze said.
Sounds like they're not too anxious to try and collect after all...

The Walker Syndrome

History repeating itself?
Nevada’s Democrat secretary of state says he’ll do all in his power to crush a conservative organization that ran ads against him in his campaign to become the state’s attorney general.

Sound familiar?

It’s part of a “disturbing trend,” said Matthew Walter, executive director of the State Government Leadership Foundation, the conservative nonprofit behind the ads that earned the ire of Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller.

“This is all about freedom of speech,” Walter said. “Whether it’s President Obama’s Internal Revenue Service and their unbalanced scrutiny into conservative organizations, or whether it’s Ross Miller with his threats and blustering in Nevada, what we see far too often are liberal groups defending the right to free speech until they don’t personally agree with the content. At that point, they throw up every roadblock they can to hinder the individual’s right to free speech.”
Some people just can't stand losing...

Friday, April 11, 2014

Big Media Is Watching You

They controlled transmission:
Attkisson: I found out that we had to quit pursuing the story more or less due to lack of interest well before we found answers to a lot of questions. Including what about all the other cases besides the one you know as Fast and Furious that were also using similar strategies to transfer weapons down to Mexico. And how did this, if at all, play into a strategy the United States may be using to draw support or give support towards one of the cartels in Mexico against one of the others much like they had done in Columbia and other places.

O'Reilly: Playing one off against the other. You said something interesting that you had to abandon the story for lack of interest. Can you clarify that?

Attkisson: It just came to be that, I don't think on the viewers' part, but on the people that decide what stories go into the broadcast and what there is room for, they felt fairly early on that this story was over when I felt as though we had barely begun to scratch the surface. They didn't ask me what was left to report. They decided on their own the story was done.
They didn't need the government to do it for them...

Chairman Who?

If you go around carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain't gonna make it with anyone anyhow:
Researchers at Tea Leaf Nation—an online magazine that studies media trends in the country— recently scanned the social media platform Weibo for Christian terms and found they are quite popular, despite the country’s tight control on religion, the Christian Today website reported.

The survey discovered the word ‘Bible’ produces more than 17 million results, but “Quotations of Chairman Mao’—a text known in the West as ‘The Little Red Book’ only had 60,000 results.

The ‘Quotations’ book contains excerpts from speeches and writings of Mao Zedong, the former leader of the Communist Party in China. The book –which was widely distributed in China during the Cultural Revolution -- has reportedly sold more than a billion copies.

More than 18 million posts mentioned Jesus, while Chinese President Xi Jinping was only mentioned on Weibo about 4 million times.

'God' received more than 165 million Weibo mentions. That's more than 18 times the searches for 'Mao Zedong'. The words 'Christian Congregation' appeared more than 41.8 million times, but the 'Communist Party' only got 5.3 million results.
Jesus saves searches?

Back Payment

The government tries to collect from somebody who doesn't owe them:
Social Security claims it overpaid someone in the Grice family — it’s not sure who — in 1977. After 37 years of silence, four years after Sadie Grice died, the government is coming after her daughter. Why the feds chose to take Mary’s money, rather than her surviving siblings’, is a mystery…

“It was a shock,” said Grice, 58. “What incenses me is the way they went about this. They gave me no notice, they can’t prove that I received any overpayment, and they use intimidation tactics, threatening to report this to the credit bureaus.”…

Social Security officials told Grice that six people — Grice, her four siblings and her father’s first wife, whom she never knew — had received benefits under her father’s account. The government doesn’t look into exactly who got the overpayment; the policy is to seek compensation from the oldest sibling and work down through the family until the debt is paid.
It's bad enough when they try to shake you down legally...

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Constitutional Spending

An amendment to control Federal spending:
The Compact for America is the innovation of the Goldwater Institute’s Nick Dranias, who proposes a constitutional convention carefully called under Article V to enact a balanced-budget amendment written precisely enough to preclude evasion by the political class. This class has powerful and permanent incentives for deficit spending, which delivers immediate benefits to constituents while deferring a significant portion of the benefits’ costs.
Well, nothing else seems to work...

Goodnight, Kathleen

Sebelius is out:
Officials said Ms. Sebelius, 65, made the decision to resign and was not forced out. But the frustration at the White House over her performance had become increasingly clear, as administration aides worried that the crippling problems at HealthCare.gov, the website set up to enroll Americans in insurance exchanges, would result in lasting damage to the president’s legacy…

Last month, Ms. Sebelius approached Mr. Obama and began a series of conversations about her future, Mr. McDonough said. The secretary told the president that the March 31 deadline for sign-ups under the health care law — and rising enrollment numbers — provided an opportunity for change, and that he would be best served by someone who was not the target of so much political ire, Mr. McDonough said.

“What was clear is that she thought that it was time to transition the leadership to somebody else,” he said. “She’s made clear in other comments publicly that she recognizes that she takes a lot of the incoming. She does hope — all of us hope — that we can get beyond the partisan sniping.”
It does seem kind of odd that she didn't seem to want to take credit...

Lowedown

You can be smart and good-looking:

Flashback

Why predictions fail:
There are common threads running through these mistaken projections. One is the extrapolation of recent trends far into the future. History doesn’t proceed like a straight line on a graph; sometimes the lines bend.

Another is the assumption that progress means ever-larger states and increasing superintendence by international elites.

But much unpredicted progress has occurred when nations freed markets from the grip of centralized states and private sectors produced innovation that the supposed experts failed to anticipate.
There's a history of this sort of thing...

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Trapped By The Sun

About that new solar farm:
A new report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has labeled BrightSource Energy’s Ivanpah project a “mega-trap” for insects and birds that may get singed or in some cases, burned alive flying through the intense solar radiation reflecting off the thousands of mirrors surrounding three solar towers at the plant in eastern San Bernardino County.

The Center for Biological Diversity posted the report to the California Energy Commission website on Monday as part of its testimony opposing BrightSource’s 500-megawatt Palen project, located east of the Coachella Valley, which would use similar technology — soaring solar towers surrounded by thousands of reflecting mirrors. …

Particularly chilling is a section on the apparent incineration of birds and insects at the site, reported by staff from the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement (OLE), who visited Ivanpah Oct. 21-24, 2013.
Why do environmentalists hate fowl so much?

Internal Campaign Service

Local IRS offices appear to have been campaigning for their boss:
In the Dallas situation, the OSC issued a letter to employees reminding them they aren’t allowed to do anything that would appear to be campaigning.

“Specifically, it was alleged that employees have worn partisan political stickers, buttons, and clothing to work and have displayed partisan political screensavers on their IRS computers. It was alleged that these items expressed support for President Barack Obama,” the OSC said.

The IRS issued a statement saying it couldn’t comment on specifics, but vowing it took complaints of politicking seriously.

“The IRS regularly reminds employees of the Hatch Act guidelines,” the agency said, adding that when reports of potential violations are received, the agency follows “proper procedures and protocols.”

Republicans on Capitol Hill, though, said the report showed an agency “out of control.”

“It’s no surprise that this is coming from the very same agency that targeted Americans based on their political beliefs,” said Rep. Sam Johnson, Texas Republican. “How can the American people trust IRS employees to perform their job duties in good faith?”
So do taxes now count as donations?

Unsettled Science

Real scientists vs. fake ones:
The panel of scientists says human impact on the global climate is small, changing temperatures are within a historic scope of temperature variables and there is no net harm to human health of the production of food.

The findings are a stark contrast to the messages from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which in a report released last week concluded that in many regions of the earth, changing precipitation and melting snow are altering hydrological systems, which negatively impact the quantity of water resources.

The IPCC’s report also states that climate change is forcing terrestrial, freshwater and marine species to shift their geographical ranges and migration patterns.

But the Heartland Institute says the scientific community is under tremendous financial and peer pressure to reach the conclusion that global industry is damaging the environment.

“Ethical standards have been lowered, peer review has been corrupted, and we can’t trust peers in our most prestigious journals anymore,” Joe Bast, President and CEO of Heartland Institute, told Fox News.
There's political science, and then there's politicized science...

The Wiccan Police

A cop sues for the right to be a witch:
Sgt. A.J. DeBellis, who joined the LAPD in 1990, filed a complaint Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court alleging discrimination, harassment and retaliation, according to City News Service.
DeBellis claims he was “verbally berated” and issued negative comment cards by a captain and a lieutenant after voicing complaints about his mandatory attendance at a training session and holiday gathering at a Christian church in Chatsworth in December 2012.
DeBellis claims he was required to sit through a recital of a Christian prayer and that religious music was played “during a significant portion of the event.”
“As a practicing Wiccan, (DeBellis) was deeply offended by the department’s decision to conduct the training session and holiday gathering at a religious facility and reasonably believed that the event violated the Establishment Clause and separation of church and state,” documents obtained by CNS read.
DeBellis, who was assigned to the Devonshire Division at the time, was allegedly given an unexpected shift change and was no longer permitted to fill in as watch commander, moves he defines as “religious-based harassment and retaliation”.
It does seem that there are plenty of pagans in L.A. already...

Part Timers

Full time pay for part time work?
The controversial economic experiment will see municipal workers in Gothenburg, the country’s second-largest city, become guinea pigs in a trial lasting at least one year.

The council’s ruling coalition of left-wing Social Democrat and Green parties has proposed reducing one department to 30-hour working weeks while keeping another unchanged as a control.

“We think it's time to give this a real shot in Sweden,” deputy mayor Mats Pilhem told the Swedish edition of The Local.
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Experiments involving the six-hour workday have taken place in various countries around the world before. They are based on the theory that after this period of time employees become too tired anyway, reducing both short-term and long-term productivity.

Yet previous trials of the system have fallen victim to social pressures and the stigma that working fewer hours makes an employee lazy.

The move has been opposed by the Gothenburg council’s main opposition – the Moderate Party - which reportedly described the experiment as a “dishonest and populist ploy” ahead of the 2014 local elections.
How about paying people for what they actually do? Or you can turn into France, which hasn't worked out so well, either...