Sunday, January 31, 2016

Emptying The NEST

What happens when everything is connected?
Just imagine what could go wrong with connected devices that turn on your oven before you arrive home, start your car by itself, automatically fill your pool, or remotely unlock your door. When you buy a product so vital, like the Nest, you need to understand whether the product has a safe mode that maintains its functionality in the event the software crashes or the battery runs out.
Nests are typically places to leave, not get trapped in...

Electric Speed

Would an electric race car work? Maybe not:
It may be easy for Nye to imagine a superior electric car because he's a fantasist. But the reality is far more prosaic. Any comparison between an electric car and a NASCAR car is stupid. Even if Tesla fulfilled Nye's wet dream and constructed a vehicle capable of racing, it would take far more than three years to get it to the track. Where NASCAR cars can increase speed by increasing the rate of fuel being burned, the current state of technology for electric cars is limited by the amount of power in the batteries. And no one would watch a race where the cars had to have their batteries changed every few laps.
Speed and efficiency go together. Science!

No Safe Spaces For You

Sorry, snowflakes:
Oberlin College President Marvin Krislov said he will not respond to 14 pages of demands submitted by black students.

Krislov posted a statement Wednesday about the petition, which was submitted last month before students went on winter break.

The detailed petition includes general goals of increasing the number of black students, faculty and administrators and more controversial proposals including creating “exclusive Black safe spaces,” curriculum changes, firing of specific employees, and renaming academic buildings.

The petition says “Failure to meet them [demands] will result in a full and forceful response from the community you fail to support.”
You mean like, more protests and name calling?

In His Name

Yeah, this doesn't look good:
Asked Saturday evening by THE WEEKLY STANDARD for his reaction to Pate’s rebuke, Cruz defended the mailer. “Matt Schultz is a former secretary of state, he’s the chairman of our campaign, [he] put out a statement saying these mailers are routine,” Cruz said. “The Iowa Republican party has done so in the past in past elections. And I will apologize to nobody for using every tool we can to encourage Iowa voters to come out and vote.”

These type of “voter grade” mailers have been used by party organizations and political action committees, and political scientists have found they are effective in increasing turnout.

Cruz, who is appearing at a rally in Sioux City, also spoke to reporters about his challenge to Iowa frontrunner Donald Trump to debate him before the February 1 caucuses. The Texas senator criticized Trump for skipping Thursday’s Fox News debate in Des Moines.

“I believe anyone hoping to win the state of Iowa has to show the respect to the voters of this state,” Cruz said.
Including you, Ted...

Public Relief

For those times when the sidewalk isn't available:
San Francisco has installed an outdoor urinal in Dolores Park near the Mission District as part of the more than $20 million renovation of the recreation area in an attempt to combat a “rampant” public urination issue.

“The more options we can give them to relieve themselves, the better for the parkgoers,” San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener told the Associated Press.

Last summer, the city’s public works division made headlines by experimenting with coating some walls with a paint that causes fluid to splash back onto public urinators.
By their stink you shall know them...

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Last Big Spending Frontier

The price of expansionism:
As Alaska’s legislative session begins, Walker is proposing serious cuts to Medicaid.

Significant reductions in Medicaid are being made. Between reductions made by the Governor and the Legislature in the FY16 budget and the proposed reductions in the Governor’s proposed FY17 budget we will reduce the Medicaid budget by over $90 million in general fund reductions. Medicaid expansion-related reductions in other state programs are bringing us another $10 million.
That’s $100 million in budget cuts related to Medicaid. And remember: the Walker administration has already proposed slashing funding for children and adults with developmental disabilities.

But this isn’t the only problem that Alaska’s poor have to face. Walker is also proposing a 1.5 percent personal income tax for Alaskans – something the state has not had since 1980. The proposal could squeeze the taxpayers for $200 million each year.

If that’s not enough, the governor is also proposing to “reduce the size of annual Permanent Fund dividend checks to an initial amount of about $1,000.” In Alaska, the Permanent Fund pays each Alaskan who has lived in the state for a full calendar year. It’s essentially a thank you for living in the largest, coldest state in the Union, but it’s something that many Alaskans do rely on.

Walker admits that “There’s no one who isn’t going to be impacted in some way, by what we’re going to propose.”

He is also proposing a tax increase on mining, fishing, tourism, and oil and gas – all industries that are critical to Alaska’s economy; industries that may be forced to make job cuts to absorb higher taxes.
If you like your Medicaid, you can keep your Medicaid. Just not anything else.

Flint Follies

As always, Democrats know who to blame:
“If Flint were 57 percent white and not 57 percent black, you wonder whether or not the kind of callous indifference that’s being shown – not just by our state government but by Republican candidates who won’t even speak up for a whole population of 100,000 people who are facing a serious crisis. You wonder if they are prepared to be national leaders if they can’t speak up for the people of Flint and you wonder why they won’t,” he added.

In Iowa on Jan. 18, Rubio said he had not been briefed on the crisis but he commented on the issue in New Hampshire on Jan. 21.

“There was a significant government breakdown in terms of when they switched the power – the water source to a lake that was known to be polluted and unfortunately now we have people that are facing this terrible situation with potential lead poisoning and all sorts of things,” he said. “It's a very – a systemic and ugly breakdown at the local and state level. The governor has acknowledged that.”
It's just too bad Democrats won't acknowledge the EPA's role...

The Cool Spenders

What do hipsters buy?
Nick Fereday, a senior analyst at Rabobank, says: “People are making a choice about how they spend their money. Are millennials spending more of their income on food compared to the previous generation? Anecdotal evidence suggests they are.”

Growing demand by younger consumers for craft beer demonstrates their rejection of big commercial food and drinks companies.

Despite commanding a significant premium over mainstream lager, sales of craft beer have risen exponentially over the past decade to account for 19 per cent of the value of the overall US beer market, taking share away from industry giants, Budweiser and Miller Lite.

The trend has spread to the spirits industry, where craft gin and vodka and American whiskies are enjoying a resurgence thanks, in part to bars and clubs where, often bearded, mixologists serve up cocktails.
The rest of us just spend our filthy lucre on things like clothing, food and bills. Maybe we need to be more cool...

Who Are You Going To Vote For?

It's the Richard Pryor option:
Sheldon Bergson, 46, had his name legally changed to Above Znoneofthe and is now a candidate for the Ontario legislature, the CBC reports. The election is Feb. 11.

The ballot lists candidates in alphabetical order by surname so his name will be the 10th of the 10 candidates as Znoneofthe Above, according to CBC.

“I’m aiming for all of the people who don’t normally vote,” Znoneofthe said. “I thought one of these days we should get ‘none of the above’ on the ballot.
The choice is yours:

Friday, January 29, 2016

Being Lazy Is A Full Time Job

In Switzerland, everyone gets paid:
The plan, proposed by a group of intellectuals, could make the country the first in the world to pay all of its citizens a monthly basic income regardless if they work or not.

But the initiative has not gained much traction among politicians from left and right despite the fact that a referendum on it was approved by the federal government for the ballot box on June 5.

Under the proposed initiative, each child would also receive 145 francs (£100) a week.

The federal government estimates the cost of the proposal at 208 billion francs (£143 billion) a year.
People who don't work for a living still want their share...

The Sanity Stops Here

No, this didn't come from the Onion:
“Does the MLK quote represent us today?” a student asked the board when the issue arose, according the Daily Emerald.

Apparently, some students believed King's call for all people to be judged equally was not inclusive enough for some.
“Diversity is so much more than race," sophomore Mia Ashley toldl the school paper. "Obviously race still plays a big role. But there are people who identify differently in gender and all sorts of things like that.”

Alveda King, the niece of Martin Luther King and a Fox News contributor, said her uncle’s words still ring true.

“The context is the spirit of his message," King said. "Martin Luther King was very inclusive because he loved the human family. It was based on a timeless foundation, so I am glad that they have decided to have the quote displayed.”
More so than the snowflake generation realizes...

Government Pay Plan

How much do you pay? The government wants to know:
The data will be used to identify employers that may be engaging in pay discrimination so that the agency can target its enforcement resources where problems may be likeliest to exist. The proposal would cover more than 63 million U.S. workers, according to the White House.

The plan, which will be open to public comment but won’t require legislative approval, is part of a broad effort undertaken by President Obama and federal agencies to close a persistent wage gap between men and women.

Soon after taking office, Obama convened a national task force to address the issue, requesting greater coordination among agencies and more aggressive enforcement efforts.

Despite those efforts, across all professions, women earn about 79 cents for every dollar earned by men—only 2 cents greater than when Mr. Obama took office.
The equality will be enforced, one way or another...

The Revolution Comes Full Circle

The legacy of Chavez and Maduro is complete:
The country is basically bankrupt.

That's not an easy thing to do when you have the largest oil reserves in the world, but Venezuela has managed it. How? Well, a combination of bad luck and worse policies. The first step was when Hugo Chávez's socialist government started spending more money on the poor, with everything from two-cent gasoline to free housing. Now, there's nothing wrong with that — in fact, it's a good idea in general — but only as long as you actually, well, have the money to spend. And by 2005 or so, Venezuela didn't.

Why not? The answer is that Chávez turned the state-owned oil company from being professionally run to being barely run. People who knew what they were doing were replaced with people who were loyal to the regime, and profits came out but new investment didn't go in. That last part was particularly bad, because Venezuela's extra-heavy crude needs to be blended or refined — neither of which is cheap — before it can be sold. So Venezuela just hasn't been able to churn out as much oil as it used to without upgraded or even maintained infrastructure. Specifically, oil production fell 25 percent between 1999 and 2013.
The socialist dream was realized. Now what?

Above Her Pay Grade

Special access denied:
Fox News is told the emails include intelligence from "special access programs," or SAP, which is considered beyond “Top Secret.” A Jan. 14 letter, first reported by Fox News, from intelligence community Inspector General Charles McCullough III notified senior intelligence and foreign relations committee leaders that "several dozen emails containing classified information” were determined to be “at the CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET, AND TOP SECRET/SAP levels."

The State Department is trying to finish its review and public release of thousands of Clinton emails, as the Democratic presidential primary contests get underway in early February.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, there is an exemption that allows for highly sensitive, and in this case classified, material to be withheld in full -- which means nothing would be released in these cases, not even heavily redacted versions, which has been standard practice with the 1,340 such emails made public so far by the State Department.
So can treason now be added to the potential list of charges?

F For Finance

Financial ignorance, the next generation:
The biennial Survey of the States by the Council for Economic Education, released exclusively to CNBC.com, found 20 states currently mandate that high school students take economics — two fewer than in 2014.

There has been no change since then in the number of states that require standardized testing of economic concepts. Currently, 16 states require testing, which is down significantly from 25 in 1998.

At the same time, the Council for Economic Education survey found the number of states that require high school students to take a course in personal finance has remained unchanged at 17 since 2014.

"We were disappointed to see that no additional states require courses in personal finance to be taught," said Nan Morrison, president and CEO of the Council for Economic Education.
But they do know how to ask for fifteen dollars an hour...

Back Scratchers

Who wants to join the government union?
The percentage of American wage and salary workers who belonged to a union was only 11.1 percent in 2015, but the percentage of union members who worked for government was 48.9 percent, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“The union membership rate--the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of unions--was 11.1 percent in 2015, unchanged from 2014,” the BLS said in press release published today.

But the 7,241,000 government workers whom the BLS estimates were members of unions in 2015 equaled almost half of the estimated total of 14,795,000 union-member wage and salary workers in the nation.

And these unionized government workers outnumbered the Census Bureau’s estimated 2015 populations for all but 12 of the states.
Remember, workers-your dues help pay for the boss's salaries...

Thursday, January 28, 2016

They Have A PC Dream

It's come to this:
Laurie Woodward, the Director of the Student Union said that when she approached the union with the question of if they wanted to keep the current MLK quote or supplement a new one, one of the students asked, “Does the MLK quote represent us today?”

“Diversity is so much more than race. Obviously race still plays a big role. But there are people who identify differently in gender and all sorts of things like that,” sophomore architecture major, Mia Ashley said.
Equality matters-if yours is the right kind, that is...

American Made

The AK-47 is coming to America:
The rifle dreamed up by Russian Army tank commander Mikhail Kalashnikov as he lay on a hospital bed after being wounded fighting the Germans in the 1941 Battle of Bryansk, became the world’s most popular firearm. The signature AK-47 — which stands for "Avtomat Kalashnikov," or “Kalashnikov’s machine,” and the initial year of production, was long available for import from Moscow until the U.S. imposed sanctions in 2014 in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Crimea.

Last year, RWC, which was the official importer and distributor of Kalashnikov firearms, was forced to cut ties with the Russian company. But it retained the U.S. rights to the name and initially opened a small assembly facility in Tullytown, Pa. Now, the company is planning a full-fledged manufacturing plant in the Atlantic Coast community just north of Fort Lauderdale.

“Whether you are a sport shooter, hunter, protecting family, home and country, the new Kalashnikov USA firearms will exceed your expectations of how a firearm should perform,” the company statement read.
In America, Russian gun buys you...

The Weather Out There

I blame those alien carbon emissions:
In new research published in the journal Astrobiology, astronomers of The Australian National University (ANU) pondered this scenario and realized that young habitable planets can become unstable very quickly. What once was a life-giving oasis becomes a hellish hothouse or frozen wasteland very quickly.

“The universe is probably filled with habitable planets, so many scientists think it should be teeming with aliens,” said Aditya Chopra, lead author of the paper. “Early life is fragile, so we believe it rarely evolves quickly enough to survive.”

“Most early planetary environments are unstable. To produce a habitable planet, life forms need to regulate greenhouse gases such as water and carbon dioxide to keep surface temperatures stable,” he said.
They had no Al Gore to warn them...

Bum Card

Even panhandlers have to upgrade:
Hagenston, who calls himself “Honest Abe,” was panhandling near the 8 Mile overpass on I-75 when the TV news folks caught up with him.

Abe proudly noted that he has helped organize some of the panhandlers in his area into a union of sorts. He says they’ve worked out a schedule to panhandle in shifts to avoid stepping on each other’s territory.

Disappointed that Detroit hasn’t seen much snow to shovel for extra cash, “Honest Abe” said his intake hasn’t been as good as it could be. But the new credit card swiper is helping.

“I take VISA, MasterCard, American Express,” Abe said. “I’m the only homeless guy in America who can take a credit card. It’s all done safely and securely through square.com.”

The credit card reader Abe is talking about is a small device by a company called Square that can be plugged into a cell phone which turns the phone into a credit card scanner. Many small businesses and some bars and restaurants have turned to using the Square readers instead of purchasing the larger, counter-mounted machines we are all familiar with.

According to The Roanoke Times, 63 percent of transactions processed with the Square system come from sellers with less than $125,000 in annual payments.
Brother, can you spare a swipe?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Reagan Versus Trump

Why Donald Trump is no Reagan:
“Reagan had been a widely known conservative for years. Reagan had been a successful governor and then after that a responsible public commentator,” Shirley adds.

“The only reason Bush, Connally, and others challenged Reagan for the 1980 nomination was because they thought he was too old. Bush jogged constantly for the benefit of the press in order to draw a contrast. Bush’s campaign slogans were ‘Up for the 80’s’ and ‘A President We Won’t Have To Train.’ Both were mocked as sounding like a soda pop slogan and ‘A President We Won’t Have To Potty Train’ quickly became slogans of derision,” the Reagan biographer notes.

“Reagan was far and away the frontrunner—or so his campaign thought—so he was advised to skip the Des Moines Register debate. He took the bad advice and it became an issue just days before the caucuses and Reagan as a result lost narrowly to George Bush. As I recall, some 50 percent of caucus goers disapproved of Reagan missing the debate,” Shirley adds.

Though Reagan had firmly established his conservative credentials in 1980, in contrast to Trump, who was criticized by National Review last week in an unprecedented special edition of the magazine as a candidate who lacks a consistent conservative political philosophy, there is at least one similarity between the skipped debates separated by 36 years. Nationally, Trump leads the field by a wide margin, just as Reagan did in 1980.
I knew Ronald Reagan. Mr. Trump, you're no Ronald Reagan...

Badges, Guns, And Money

They don't need no stinkin' badges:
The majority of the credentials belonged to employees of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), while others belonged to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) employees.

The lost or stolen guns also mostly belonged to CBP employees, though others were cited as belonging to TSA and ICE workers. The agencies all fall under DHS.

The missing badges and guns suggest a shocking lack of security from federal law enforcement officers and represent a significant security risk, experts say.

“It’s scary that you’d have that number of credentials out there that someone could manipulate,” Tim Miller, a retired Secret Service special agent, told FoxNews.com.
Everything is under control...

Sorry For The Commotion

Hillary sort of apologizes over her emails:
While meeting with the Quad-City Times editorial board yesterday, Clinton was asked whether she regrets using a private system for all of her official government business. Listen to her response:

"It was a mistake not to have used two [email accounts, one private and one for government business] because it's caused all of this uproar and commotion," Clinton said. "It was a mistake because who wants to put people through all of this. I don't want to go through it."

"I regret that this has caused so much of a diversion, which I believe is unfounded," Clinton added.
Last regrets before an indictment?

Carnival Of Correctness

No gender for them:
Norwegians are proud of their record in promoting women’s rights. Some 40 percent of Norwegian lawmakers are women, including the prime minister and finance minister, while company boardrooms are required to have a female quota of four in every 10.

Still, some are sensitive about letting gender politics affect the upbringing of their children.

One of those who disagreed with the decision to cancel the dress-up was Sarah Askim, a Swiss-born mother of three boys, the youngest of which attends the preschool.

“I appreciate that they try to open the kids’ minds,” she said. “I am happy if the girls play with cars and the boys play with kitchen stuff. But I won’t dress my boys later on with a skirt. I believe at one point we have to admit that there is difference between girls and boys.”
No matter how hard the PC crowd tries otherwise...

Meeting Of The Minds

Two socialists have a get-together:
Coming just days before the leadoff Iowa caucuses, the one-on-one meeting could help Obama display some public neutrality in the heated and unexpectedly tight primary race to replace him -- refuting suggestions that he's in the can for Sanders' rival Hillary Clinton.

Days earlier, in an interview with Politico, Obama had likened Sanders to a “bright, shiny object” and dismissed comparisons between Sanders’ bid and his own 2008 campaign.

The Obama-Sanders sit-down may have been scheduled before that report. According to the White House, Sanders had sought the meeting with Obama weeks earlier – and it happened to come together late Wednesday morning.

For her part, Clinton has tried to portray Sanders as an Obama detractor who not only wants to replace his signature health care law but in 2011 openly considered recruiting a primary rival to run against the president.

Sanders and Obama do have their “differences,” Sanders acknowledged Wednesday.

But he sought to downplay them after the meeting.
Maybe because there aren't that many to begin with?

Zebra Park

Science goes there:
Like zebras, the quagga has stripes, though these only appear on the front half of their bodies. Unlike the zebra, they are brown along the rear half of their body. These animals used to roam South Africa in vast herds, but European settlers fixed the beasts in their sights, killing them at an alarming rate. By the 1880s, the last known example had died. Now, however, scientists have bred an animal that looks strikingly similar with the help of DNA and selective breeding.

A group called the Quagga Project has worked to resurrect the little-known species. According to Eric Harley, the project's leader and a professor at Cape Town University, the key was hidden in the animal's genetics. Testing remaining quagga skins revealed the animal was in fact a sub-species of the plains zebra.

Harley hypothesized that the genes which characterized the quagga would still be present in the zebra, and could manifest through selective breeding. With each new group of foals, the distinct colorings have become stronger and more defined.
At least it's not raptors...

In The Woods

The Oregon standoff is not going well for those involved:
Law enforcement surrounded the refuge and blocked off access roads on Tuesday evening, after occupation leader Ammon Bundy and his group were taken into custody at a traffic stop along Highway 395.

Citing the investigation, authorities declined to say what led to the fatal shooting of one member of Bundy's group, identified by activists as Robert LaVoy Finicum, a rancher who acted as a spokesman for the occupiers. Bundy's brother, Ryan, was wounded in the incident.

At a news conference in Burns, Oregon, on Wednesday morning Greg Bretzing, FBI special agent in charge of the agency's Portland office, said that authorities wanted a peaceful end to the situation and that the remaining occupiers were "free to leave" the refuge.

"Let me be clear: It is the actions and choices of the armed occupiers of the refuge that have lead us to where we are today," Bretzing said. "They had ample opportunity to leave the refuge peacefully and as the FBI and our partners have clearly demonstrated, actions are not without consequences."
The activists have a point about government land grabs, but this isn't the way to do it-not unless you want another Waco or Ruby Ridge on your hands.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Sting

It's the mosquito apocalypse:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 20 percent of those who contract the virus fall ill with symptoms including mild fever, rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, and headache that can last up to a week. There is no vaccine or treatment other than treating the symptoms.

The current outbreak began last May in Brazil. The map of countries with active transmission has stretched up all the way to Mexico and Puerto Rico.

The CDC fears that visitors to Central and South America and affected islands, including Samoa, Martinique, Barbados and St. Martin, will bring the virus to the continental United States.

"During the current outbreak, Zika virus infections have been confirmed in several infants with microcephaly and in fetal losses in women infected during pregnancy. We do not yet understand the full spectrum of outcomes that might be associated with infection during pregnancy, nor the factors that might increase risk to the fetus," the CDC said in a mid-month health alert.
Oh, if only there were some way we could have prevented this...

No Debate For Donald

So it looks like he won't be in attendance:
The Republican presidential candidate already had said he probably would not be going, accusing Fox News of “playing games” with him. Trump has cited concerns with one of the debate moderators, Megyn Kelly – but apparently made his decision not to attend following press statements from Fox News.

Trump, though, took heat for his decision not to attend from his closest rival in the polls, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who accused Trump of being "afraid of Megyn Kelly."

“If Donald is afraid to defend his record, it speaks volumes,” Cruz said in a radio interview with Mark Levin, challenging Trump to a one-on-one debate.
He's not retreating. he's advancing in the opposite direction...

Anger And Change

Are we really headed this way?
If, as seems plausible, a majority of Americans don’t think a Republican administration would represent a substantial improvement, then we’ve got a bigger problem. If voters think that they can’t vote their way out of a problem, then they may look to other solutions.

A much-hyped YouGov poll from last fall found that 29% of Americans could imagine supporting a military coup. That poll probably overstated popular support — it didn’t ask if people favored a coup right now, just whether they could imagine supporting one, including in the instance of the government violating the Constitution — but there was also this, as Newser reported: “Some 71% said military officers put the interests of the country ahead of their own interests, while just 12% thought the same about members of Congress.“
Well, this is why we have elections-coups usually happen in countries without them. Those who say they want a revolution should be careful what they wish for...

Not Quite Hitting The Mark

The Obamacare enrollment is...not going well:
ObamaCare will enroll significantly fewer people than expected in 2016, ending the year with about 13 million customers, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said Monday.

The figure, which was included in an expansive budget report, is a decline of about 40 percent from last year’s enrollment prediction of about 20 million people.

The latest projections confirm the Obama administration’s previous assessment that fewer people are signing up as the marketplace closes in on its third enrollment season — the final one under President Obama.
If you like your enrollment numbers...

Down The Drain

The Flint water crisis-paid for by the stimulus?
The whole mess occurred because Flint decided against renewing its 30-year contract with the Detroit Water and Sewage Department (DWSD) and switched instead to Karengondi Water Authority (KWA). KWA was planning to build its own hugely expensive pipeline, parallel to DWSD’s, to harness water from Lake Huron and service the Genesee County area where Flint is located. This left the city in the lurch for a few years when its contract with DWSD ended but the new facility had not yet gone online, prompting it to reopen a local mothballed facility that relied on the toxic Flint River as its source (more on the rank stupidity of this decision later).

The rationale for the original decision to switch Flint’s water providers was that, in the long run, KWA would generate substantial savings for the cash-strapped city. Not only was this false but Snyder had very good reasons at that time to believe that this was false. …

Snyder’s office did not return my call, but sources close to the situation at the time tell me that it was essentially because Genesee County and Flint authorities saw the new water treatment as a public infrastructure project to create jobs in an area that has never recovered after Michigan’s auto industry fled to sunnier business climes elsewhere. And neither Snyder nor his Emergency Manager Ed Kurtz nor the state treasurer Andy Dillon had the heart to say “no,” especially since to hand Flint to DWSD would have made the whole project less viable. What’s more, they felt that just as Detroit was receiving an infrastructure boost post-bankruptcy (with the state-backed $650 million ice-hockey-arena-cum-entertainment center that I wrote about here) it was only fair that Flint get one too.
There's more than enough blame to go around for everyone, starting with the EPA.

The Tax Queen

She really is running for Obama's third term:
According to a study by the Tax Foundation released Tuesday, Clinton’s plans to hike taxes on high earners and on companies would likely reduce the number of full-time jobs by 311,000 over 10 years and reduce wages by 0.8 percent. Even though the proposal targets the wealthy, the decrease in growth will prompt after-tax income for all taxpayers to go down by 0.9 percent, the foundation study adds.

“Hillary Clinton’s plan would raise tax revenue by $498 billion over the next decade on a static basis,” the analysis says. “However, the plan would end up collecting $191 billion over the next decade when accounting for decreased economic output in the long run.”

The tax revenue gains come from increased individual income taxes, an increase in estate taxes and increased taxes on corporations. A capital gains tax increase is projected to actually lose revenue. (The Clinton plan estimates the nearly $500 billion revenue hike without taking into account the economic impact of the tax plan.)
Democratic tax plans never do...

The Brains Of The Operation

So it's not much different from the real thing, then:
Kassarnig said that in order to start training a machine-learning algorithm, he first built a database of around 4,000 political speech nuggets that he got from 53 Congressional floor debates in the United States. He gathered more than 50,000 sentences out of the speeches, with each sentence having 23 words on average. He also divided the speeches into categories depending on the political party (Democrat or Republican) and whether the speech is for or against a certain topic.

After trying various database analyzing techniques, Kassarnig decided to use a method based on the n-grams approach, which focuses on analyzing sequences of words or phrases.

First, he studied and tagged each word based on what part of speech it is (noun, adjective, verb, etc.).

Next, he turned to 6-grams and tried to determine all the words that can appear after the five previous ones, which include the probability of their appearance.

When these steps are accomplished, the process of creating speeches will automatically follow.
Most politicians are already artificial...

Monday, January 25, 2016

Thug Professor Life

Act like a punk on camera, get treated like one:
A summons with a yet-to-be determined court date is set to be mailed to UM assistant professor of communications Melissa Click. If she’s found guilty, her penalty would ultimately be up to a judge, but would likely require paying a fine, a spokesperson from the prosecutor’s office said.
....

Click has since issued an apology and resigned a courtesy appointment at the Missouri School of Journalism. That appointment allowed her to serve on graduate panels for students from other academic units, the Columbia Missourian reported.

But she retained her primary position at the school, though the UM Board of Curators called for her firing just last week.

“While the University of Missouri seems to have no accountability, the judicial system in Missouri does,” Columbia State Representative Caleb Jones told ABC17.
At least somebody seems to...

The Day The Establishment Died

Real conservatism has already won:
Conservative institutions — their publications, think-tanks, and policy shops — are firmly embedded within the larger political class. The victory has been so-well established for so long that the literal children of the previous establishment will not stick up for it. George W. Bush ran as a conservative. Jeb Bush has ideologically been more enthusiastic for conservatism than his brother.
....

If anyone within the large tent of the Republican Party qualifies as an establishment today, it is precisely the several-generations-old institutions of the conservative movement. What else would you call a group of well-funded salons whose conversations constantly return to the candidacies of Ronald Reagan (36 years ago) or Barry Goldwater (52 years ago)? It would be odd to search history and find Franklin Roosevelt's brain trust looking for answers to the Great Depression by obsessing over Grover Cleveland's legacy. The movement should not be shocked to be on the end of anti-elitist attacks.
So, yes, conservatism prevails when the leaders no longer listen. But where does the angry crowd go when they do?

Check Your Testosterone Privilege

Be fit, but fair:
Women can compete in men’s sports without restriction. That’s because in most of those sports they are inherently, biologically disadvantaged. This is simply a medical, biological, physical fact.

But for men to compete as women, they have to super duper promise and cross their hearts that they won’t change their mind a week later and compete as male for four years. They don’t have to live as a woman, they just have to promise not to compete in sports as a man for four years. Pinky swears.

The other requirement for men is that they reduce their testosterone before the Olympics will use the preferred pronoun. So he does’t count as a she until he meets a hormone level requirement. To compete as a woman, he has to take a drug that alters his physical state in a way that impacts his performance. It may not be “enhancing” but it is most definitely performance-affecting.
Remember, don't offend the trans gendered with your athletic prowess...

Le State Of Fear

How long will France surrender to itself?
French President François Hollande said on Jan. 22 that he would ask parliament to extend by three months the state of emergency declared after the Nov. 13 Paris attacks that left 130 people dead, sparking a debate over civil liberties.

Emergency measures that give authorities extra powers to put people under house arrest and conduct raids without a judicial warrant had been due to expire on Feb. 26.

"As long as we think that there is an imminent (terrorist) threat, we need the state of emergency," Cazeneuve told France 5 television.

"I hope the state of emergency will have the shortest duration possible but at the same time that it will be in place long enough to ensure the French people are protected," he said.
How long can you stay afraid, France?

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Super Girls

Shades of Harrison Bergeron:
The Rogers Area Youth Basketball Association girls high school team was forced to the sidelines by the Northwest Suburban Basketball League -- and it’s all because the team is 3-0, Fox 9 reported Saturday.

“We found out Friday at lunchtime that we’re not going to be allowed because according to the league our girls were too talented,” coach Jason Hanauska told the station.

RAYBA sent parents a letter that said the main reason for the league's decision was because other teams in the league “do not want to play RAYBA due to the skill level.”

“This is absurd,” parent Sherri Palmgren told the station. “Do we take the (NFL’s) Patriots or Cardinals, who are going to the championship game, and kick them to the curb because they’re too good?”
In a world where "everybody wins" they do...

Queen Fees

So here's Hillary defending her speaking fees:
“Look, I gave speeches to a wide array of groups from health care groups to auto dealers and many, many more and I think what they were interested in — because what we talked about was the world coming off of four years as secretary of state in a complicated world, people were interested in what I saw, what I thought, they asked questions about matters that were on their minds. A lot of interest in the bin Laden raid, how such a tough decision was made and what I advised the president. You know, I think Americans who are doing business in every aspect of the economy want to know more about the world. I actually think it’s a good conversation for people to be having.”

TODD: “You don’t think they expect anything in return?”

CLINTON: “Absolutely not. You know, first of all, I was a senator from New York. I took them on when I was senator. I took on the carried interest loophole. I took on what was happening in the mortgage markets. I was talking about that the in 2006. They know exactly where I stand. And I’ll tell you, Chuck, it’s interesting to me that now Karl Rove has taken money from the financial interest who’ve taken an ad against me to influence Democrats not to support me. Why? Ask yourself why. He knows number one I know what must be done and number two I know how to get it done to make sure that Wall Street writ large, not just the banks but the investment banks, hedge funds and everybody else, no longer can wreck our economy in the way they did in 2008.”
She'll do that on her own...

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Other Rich Guy

Are you ready for...President Bloomberg?
Mr. Bloomberg, 73, has already taken concrete steps toward a possible campaign, and has indicated to friends and allies that he would be willing to spend at least $1 billion of his fortune on it, according to people briefed on his deliberations who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss his plans. He has set a deadline for making a final decision in early March, the latest point at which advisers believe Mr. Bloomberg could enter the race and still qualify to appear as an independent candidate on the ballot in all 50 states.

He has retained a consultant to help him explore getting his name on those ballots, and his aides have done a detailed study of past third-party bids. Mr. Bloomberg commissioned a poll in December to see how he might fare against Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton, and he intends to conduct another round of polling after the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 9 to gauge whether there is indeed an opening for him, according to two people familiar with his intentions.

His aides have sketched out a version of a campaign plan that would have the former mayor, a low-key and cerebral personality, give a series of detailed policy speeches backed by an intense television advertising campaign. The ads would introduce him to voters around the country as a technocratic problem-solver and self-made businessman who understands the economy and who built a bipartisan administration in New York.
The anti-Donald Trump?

Mrs. Clinton On Trial

At least she knows several lawyers:
John McLaughlin predicted the FBI will recommend Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton face prosecution for mishandling classified information on Friday.

McLaughlin asked, “Forced prediction for the panel: the FBI will recommend that Hillary Clinton face prosecution for mishandling classified information? That’s the FBI. Yes or no?”

Page stated, “I’m going to say yes, but she won’t be indicted.”

McLaughlin responded, “I’m with you.”
They don't want to tick off somebody who might be their next boss too much...

Friday, January 22, 2016

Purging The World-Builders

They are the writers who shall not be named:
File 770, the blog of three-time Hugo Award winner Mike Glyer, reports that bookstore owners in Toronto are being approached with negative information about authors who participated in the Sad Puppies Hugo Awards campaign.

The Sad Puppies campaign, as explained in the hyperlink above, was an attempt to expose political favouritism and intolerance in the sci-fi and fantasy community. If this latest incident is anything to go by, it continues to be a dispiriting success.
....

There is no doubt that some sci-fi authors hold views that are alien to much of mainstream, liberal opinion. However, the SJWs who are trying to drive them out continue to fail to grasp that no political opinion is justification for exclusion from awards participation, bookstores, or the sci-fi community at large. The point of sci-fi is good sci-fi, and the point of awards is to recognise good sci-fi, not politically conformist opinions.
First, they came for the Puppies...

Trump Takes The Stand?

Donald Trump-witness for the defense?
“The First Amendment rules out any effort to prevent Mr. Trump from making these defamatory remarks,” Bergdahl’s lawyers stated in a court filing, according to Mediaite. “The fact remains, however, that his pattern of doing so, with the full glare of public attention before mass audiences around the country, materially threatens Bergdahl’s right to fair consideration by the convening authority as well as in a court-martial.”

If Trump were to be called to the stand, he would be required to testify in the midst of the presidential election season. Trump could be subpoenaed if Bergdahl’s lawyers successfully argue that his alleged “defamatory” comments substantially harmed the sergeant’s right to a “fair” and “impartial” trial. If Trump refuses to attend the court-martial if and when he were to be called, he could be subpoenaed, Mediaite noted.

“We’ve made no decision yet on whether to call Mr. Trump as a witness,” lawyer Eugene Fidell told Bloomberg. “We continue to monitor his defamatory statements.”
You can't call our client a traitor...

Thursday, January 21, 2016

White Tinsel Town

No, the Oscars aren't racist:
The simple fact is that the Oscars must celebrate and honour the best. And, I’m afraid, in my view, the movies this year with black actors and black film-makers aren’t of that high quality.

The only exceptions are Idris Elba’s charismatic performance as a warlord in Beast Of No Nation (based on the experiences of a child soldier fighting in a civil war in Africa) and the boxing movie Creed.

That is not to deny, though, that the membership of the Academy (who choose the Oscar nominations) is not a serious problem.

It should never be the case that there must be a film representing people of colour no matter what. In an ideal world, yes, of course, art should reflect our society. This happened with the brilliant 12 Years A Slave — which won three Oscars.

What we certainly don’t want is well-meaning tokenism — the sort of attitude: ‘Oh, look, there are some black dudes in a half-decent movie, let’s nominate them for an Academy Award.’ That’s patronising and utterly offensive.
Especially when it's given to people with six-figure accounts...

Tall Church Tales

He was no alter boy:
Daniel Gallagher made national news in 2011 when he charged two Catholic priests and one teacher with serial rape when he was a fifth and sixth grader at St. Jerome’s parish in Philadelphia. His testimony put four people in jail, including two Catholic priests — Charles Engelhardt and Edward Avery — and one Catholic school teacher, Bernard Shero.

His testimony also led to the conviction of Monsignor William Lynn, then Secretary for Clergy at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, for endangering the welfare of a child. Lynn became the first Catholic administrator jailed for failing to protect a child.
....

It turns out that all of Gallagher’s charges very well might be lies told by a sociopath.

Besides the multiple criminal convictions that led to the jailing of the priests, the teacher and the administrator, Gallagher filed a civil suit against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the individuals convicted of the alleged crimes. Newsweek reports that the Archdiocese settled late last summer for $5 million.

The individual civil suits were still in play, however, and the court ordered a forensic psychiatric evaluation of Gallagher which was obtained by Newsweek reporter Ralph Cipriano who concludes, “Judging from [the report], Billy Doe has as much credibility as Jackie [the now disgraced UVA accuser].”
The real scandals in the Church were bad enough without people like this. I suppose he'll be getting a job at Rolling Stone now...

In Russia, Gawker Owns You

Who bought Gawker?
International Business Times bemusedly notes that Vekselberg is the sort of character who would usually find himself on the wrong end of coverage from a site like Gawker, which in fact referred to him as an “ultra-rich Soviet oligarch” in 2008.

When Esquire managed an interview with the secretive billionaire in 2013, they upped the ante by calling him “the Russian oligarch, the oligarchs’ oligarch,” boasting an $18 billion fortune, “cordial” relations with Vladimir Putin, and a cloak of media invisibility that would be envied by most men in his position.

During the Esquire interview, he wore an expensive classic watch designed to look like a cheap knockoff, and said he didn’t keep his priceless Faberge eggs in his own house because “it would just look terrible if I put some imperial eggs on my buffet.” He comes off like the Russian version of the Dos Equis guy.
Stay solvent, my friends...

The Sexless Generation

None for us, please, we're Japanese:
Helping to drive the lack of interest in marriage is a change in Japan’s conservative social mores. Thirty-one percent of single Japanese admit that relief from family pressure is one motivation for picking a partner.

But that pressure is decidedly less now than it used to be. Plus, it’s easier to be single now.

“The world is pretty established as single-person-based, so there is not much inconvenience,” said another 30-something Japanese. “I cannot really imagine having people in my life.”

That, he says hesitantly, includes potential sex partners. “To be honest, basically, how can I say? Well, I do not want people in my life, so sex is included here.”
Japan has become a nation of nerds?

Local Lead Feet

Who's to blame for Flint's water crisis?
Then-chief of staff Dennis Muchmore also told the governor that residents were "caught in a swirl of misinformation" about lead contamination and that it was up to city and county leaders to confront the issue, according to the emails.
"Of course, some of the Flint people respond by looking for someone to blame instead of working to reduce anxiety," Muchmore wrote. "We can't tolerate increased lead levels in any event, but it's really the city's water system that needs to deal with it."
In a Sept. 25 email, Muchmore said he could not "figure out why the state is responsible" before noting that former state Treasurer Andy Dillon had signed off on the city's plans to build a water pipeline from Lake Huron, which required a temporary switch to the Flint River during construction.
So, he explained, "we're not able to avoid the subject."
Muchmore also said two state agencies and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could not "find evidence of a major change" in lead levels.
They just forgot to tell anyone about it...

Everyone Makes The Grade

You can't hurt their feelings, you know:
Rabbi Tzvi Krigsman, a school official who signed the memo, said Thursday the goal of the letter is the "total opposite of what it’s being portrayed as."

"Our point was to make sure we had honest grading but at the same time took care of the emotional needs of those students who are really trying very hard," Krigsman told FoxNews.com.

He called the letter a "common sense approach" and said it only applied to a "handful" of students, out of hundreds.

"We want to be able to create something where parents know the truth and students don’t become discouraged," he said, though he noted, "Unfortunately, in hindsight, the letter was not written as clearly as it should have been."
Congratulations, son, you got an A! Too bad it wasn't actually earned...

Freedom Of Apathy

You have the right to remain uninvolved?
It all started nearly a decade ago when Paterson, New Jersey police officer Jeffrey Heffernan went to pick up a yard sign for the upcoming mayoral election. The sign, as it turned out, wasn’t even for him. He was going to deliver it to his mom, who was bedridden. The problem is that his boss – the Chief of Police – was a big supporter of of the current mayor, while Heffernan and his mother were friends with the challenger, a former police chief. But Heffernan wasn’t talking about the election, nor was he even displaying a sign on his own property. For that matter, he didn’t even live in Paterson and couldn’t vote in the election anyway. He was pretty much keeping his nose out of it.

Unfortunately for him, he was seen picking up the sign and the very next day he was demoted to patrol officer, being told flatly that it because of “overt” involvement in a political campaign.
....

Here’s where it gets strange. When the justices got hold of it, at least some of them indicated that Heffernan didn’t have a leg to stand on because he hadn’t been involved in any speaking or political engagement...

“The First Amendment talks about abridging freedom of speech, and I thought the case came to us on the proposition that he wasn’t engaging in speech at all,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said, adding: “I’m not sure how he can say his freedom of speech has been abridged.”
Elena Kagan disagreed.

“If somebody had come in to me before today’s argument and just said ‘Does the First Amendment prevent the government from punishing a person because that person does not share the government’s views?,’ I would have said, ‘Why, yes, of course the First Amendment protects that,’ ” Kagan told lawyer Thomas C. Goldstein, who was representing the city of Paterson.

“Now you’re telling me, no, the First Amendment does not prevent the government from punishing a person because that person doesn’t share the government’s views, unless that person is actively opposed to the government’s views.”
Next time, just mind your own business-oh, wait...

The Palin Problem

Veterans are not impressed:
Matthew Miller, chief policy officer for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, argued Thursday on CNN that Palin’s comments were “politicizing” what veterans go through.

“She missed an opportunity to use her platform, to use her fame, to draw attention to post-traumatic stress,” Miller said.

Palin and Trump’s criticism of Obama for “leaving our wounded warriors behind” doesn’t line up with the fact that spending on the Veterans Affairs department has been at an all-time high during his presidency, Miller added.

“They may be entitled to their own opinion, but they’re not entitled to their own facts,” he said.
Beware of politicians offering their "support..."

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Ignorance Is An Education

These kids will make great lawyers:
A report that claims that there is a crisis in civic education in the United States says that nearly 10% of all college graduates think that TV's 'Judy Judy' is on the Supreme Court.
....

Among the findings:

• Only 28% of college graduates could identify James Madison as the Father of the Constitution.

• More than half of college graduates didn’t know how the Constitution is amended.

• Almost 40% of college graduates didn’t know that Congress has the power to declare war.

• Almost half could not recognize that senators are elected to six year terms and representatives are elected to two-year terms.

• Less than half of college graduates knew that presidential impeachments are tried before the U.S. Senate.
But hey, at least they have safe spaces...

Prehistoric Gas

It was those darned cavemen:
In the latest paper, Ruddiman and his 11 co-authors from institutions in the United States and Europe conclude that that accumulating evidence in the past few years, particularly from ice-core records dating back 800,000 years ago, show that an expected cooling period was halted after the advent of large-scale agriculture. Otherwise, they say, the Earth would have entered the early stages of a natural ice age, or glaciation period.

“Early farming helped keep the planet warm,” Ruddiman said in a statement, regarding the study that appeared in a recent edition of the journal Reviews of Geophysics, published by the American Geophysical Union.

“After 12 years of debate about whether the climate of the last several thousand years has been entirely natural or in considerable part the result of early agriculture, converging evidence from several scientific disciplines points to a major anthropogenic influence,” he said.
Fire good. Flatulence bad?

As The Fake Feminists Turn

Bill's past continues to come back to haunt Hillary:
Mrs. Clinton had hoped to galvanize women late last month in her critique of Mr. Trump. Instead, two weeks before the Iowa caucuses, her campaign has found itself trying to shore up support among women as discussions about past Clinton scandals have moved from conservative critics to broader public consciousness.

“She’s not a victim. She was an enabler,” Mr. Trump told Fox News last week. “Some of these women have been destroyed, and Hillary worked with” her husband.

Ms. Dunham declined a request for comment. Her spokeswoman, Cindi Berger, said that Ms. Dunham is “fully supportive of Hillary Clinton and her track record for protecting women,” and that the description of her comments at the dinner party was a “total mischaracterization.”

But the resurfacing of the scandals of the 1990s has brought about a rethinking among some feminists about how prominent women stood by Mr. Clinton and disparaged his accusers after the “bimbo eruptions,” as a close aide to the Clintons, Betsey Wright, famously called the claims of affairs and sexual assault against Mr. Clinton in his 1992 campaign.
Rethink? As in, the so-called feminists now have to actually live up to what they say they believe in?

Holder's Gun Run

Is this literally a smoking gun?
Issa told Breitbart News that his continuing investigation into Fast and Furious could uncover possible criminality by former Attorney General Eric Holder and his staff, thereby providing a new incoming administration with the facts they would need to bring charges.

Issa said:

The next administration could well choose to deal with people’s crimes, particularly the conspiracy to cover this up, to falsely mislead the American people. There were a number of areas in which criminal activity could alleged, and as it stands right now the biggest question is that Eric Holder swore he didn’t know about this a number of times. And some of that has been proved wrong.

If we’re able to see that his hand-picked US Attorney Dennis Burke was involved in communicating to people in the justice department that would indicate a number of people testified falsely.

He stressed that he believes it is important to remember the Republican candidates are the ones most likely to pursue charges relating to Fast and Furious. He said they would do this both out of a commitment to enforcement of the rule of law, and also because evidence of “false statements”–if such evidence is found–would mean that those who made them “knowingly let felons gain access to weapons for crimes.”
Will Hillary have enough room for a cellmate?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Tarnished Golden Man

Not everyone is on board with the anti-Oscar boycott:
Singleton continued, “It’s like every year people complain. People even complain even when we have a lot of nominations. It is what it is. I’ve been in the game for 25 years. You never know — it’s the luck of the draw for you. To me, I’m not surprised. I’m not disappointed either, as much as other people are disappointed. There’s a whole elevation of work that happens.”

Elaborating on that “elevation,” Singleton explains that each year, films are snubbed, and some of those unrepresented projects gain awareness and recognition after award season.

“Every year there’s at least a few films that don’t get nominated and you have all these films that do get nominated and then the films that aren’t nominated are elevated over time. ‘Do the Right Thing’ never got nominated for best picture, but that year, nobody’s talking about ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ any more. Everybody’s still talking about ‘Do the Right Thing.’ It happens every year.”
The sour taste of establishment prejudices-or just sour grapes on the part of those who weren't nominated?

The Liar's Club

Donald Trump apparently doesn't like it when his opponents are too honest:
“Ted has got a rough temperament, you can’t call people liars on the Senate floor when they are your leaders. Not a good thing to do if you want to curry favor and get the positive votes later on own,” Trump said.

“Ted is worried about his temperament, people are talking about his temperament. I haven’t talked about his temperament but he’s got to be careful because his temperament has been questioned a lot.”
You can't call politicians liars, even if it's true?

Above Top Secret

More secrets have come to light:
Intelligence from a “special access program,” or SAP, is even more sensitive than that designated as “top secret” – as were two emails identified last summer in a random sample pulled from Clinton’s private server she used as secretary of state. Access to a SAP is restricted to those with a “need-to-know” because exposure of the intelligence would likely reveal the source, putting a method of intelligence collection — or a human asset — at risk. Currently, some 1,340 emails designated “classified” have been found on Clinton’s server, though the Democratic presidential candidate insists the information was not classified at the time.

“There is absolutely no way that one could not recognize SAP material,” a former senior law enforcement with decades of experience investigating violations of SAP procedures told Fox News. “It is the most sensitive of the sensitive.”
Hillary Clinton...whistle blower extraordinaire?

Not So Fast And Furious

Executive privilege does not extend to gun running:
U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled Tuesday that the Justice Department's public disclosures about its response to the so-called "gun walking" controversy undercut Obama's executive privilege claim.

The standoff over the records led to a House vote in 2012 holding then-Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over the records. The House later initiated a lawsuit to try to force disclosure of the files.

Jackson left open the possibility that some of the records could be held back from Congress because they contain sensitive information on law enforcement techniques or implicate foreign policy concerns.
Will the accomplices please step forward?

Monday, January 18, 2016

Impostor Valley

Welcome to pointless valley:
The value of encouraging people to see themselves as members of a race or a gender rather than individuals has, of course, yet to be demonstrated. The relevance to good coding certainly isn’t straightforwardly apparent. However, according to Kimbwala, there is at least one problem that can be solved by diversity workshops: imposter syndrome.

As TechCrunch explains:

As part of Code Camp, Kimbwala hosted an hour-long imposter syndrome workshop. Imposter syndrome, an idea first explored by Dr. Pauline Clance in the 1980s, is the feeling that you’re not as qualified for the work as people may think you are, and will be found out as a fraud.

In other words, imposter syndrome refers to simple lack of confidence – a problem that affects both genders. Indeed, almost everyone (other than perhaps psychopaths) will suffer lack of confidence at some point, especially in the high-talent world of Silicon Valley.
Sometimes a geek with low self esteem is just a geek with low self esteem...

The Long Run

RIP Glenn Frey:
Frey had been battling intestinal issues for months and had surgery in November. We're told in the last few days his condition took a turn for the worse. He died in New York City.
Glenn co-wrote and sang on most of the Eagles hits, including "Take It Easy," "Tequila Sunrise," "Lyin' Eyes," and "Heartache Tonight," to name a few. He also co-wrote "Hotel California" and "Desperado" with Don Henley and took home 6 Grammys with the band.
After the Eagles' 1980 breakup, Glenn launched a successful solo career, recording numerous hits ... most notably "The Heat Is On" and "You Belong to the City."
Frey was one of those who was able to cross over from the Seventies into the Eighties (and look pretty good doing it.) twilight of the rock gods, indeed.

Anyone For Fixing?

It's not just the World Cup:
The world of professional tennis was rocked by a major gambling scandal Monday after a leaked report named dozens of players suspected of rigging matches in exchange for cash, and one of the sport's biggest stars said he wanted those names public.

"I would love to hear names," Roger Federer said Monday. "It's super serious and it's super important to maintain the integrity of our sport."

The contents of the report, prepared by investigators working for the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and dated from 2008, were first reported on by the BBC and Buzzfeed, which did not name the players involved. Among other notable claims, the report alleged that three possible fixed matches took place at Wimbledon, the most prestigious tournament in tennis.

The report also claims that 16 players ranked in the Top 50 over the past 10 years, including some who have won Grand Slam doubles titles, have been repeatedly reported to tennis authorities for taking part in suspicious matches, with no action being taken by the ATP.

At a press conference Monday, ATP President Chris Kermode denied that officials had sought to cover up suspected improprieties.

"I think it's always disappointing when stories come out like this just before a big event," Kermode said. "But we are so confident there's nothing in the sport that has been suppressed."
Famous last words?

American Cruz

The debate is over:
But the real nail in the coffin of this theory is the primary premise that Canada didn’t recognize dual citizenship at the time of Ted’s birth. The resounding answer to this question should be, “Yeah… and?” While that seems to be true from the documentation offered, whether or not Canada recognizes American citizenship is completely irrelevant to the discussion because Canada doesn’t get to determine who is or isn’t a citizen of the United States of America. Even if they were making a federal case out of it for any given US citizen it wouldn’t be an issue unless the person was trying to cross the border into Canada without a passport. If United States law recognizes you as a citizen, that’s the end of the discussion in terms of this constitutional qualifications question.
So there. Will the birthers please shut up now?

The Elephant On The Internet

What people are really asking:
Research compiled by Google shows that “Will Hillary Clinton get prosecuted” led the way in Clinton-related searches when the debate ended, having already taken the top spot before 10:20 PM. The debate ran for two hours between 9 and 11 PM Eastern Time.

“What did Hillary Clinton do that was illegal” came in third.

By contrast, the top-trending question for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was “Why is Bernie Sanders so popular?”
Because he's not the one facing time?

Spicolli The Spy?

Sean Penn, secret agent?
Susan Constantine, a body language expert, analyzed Penn's interview with Rose for Radar Online to see if the two-time Oscar winning actor is just trying to cover his tracks.

She explained that throughout the interview, Penn appears to be very passionate and emotional and that she doesn't think it was an act.

Constantine highlighted a point of the interview when Rose asked the Hollywood star if he was responsible for the drug kingpin's recapture with the magazine publishing his exclusive interview.



'Instead of saying yes or no he went into dialogue - a very emotional dialogue - and that's where his voice started to crack up and it became very stressed. It's a stress indicator,' Constantine told Radar Online.

'There was a lot of emotion there and that's why the vocal chords get strained.

'It was as if almost he was holding back tears. He's passionate about this.
Because he lost his main source?

Summers Heat

He is not a fan:
"I'm somebody who believes very strongly in diversity, who resists racism in all of its many incarnations… But it seems to be that there is a kind of creeping totalitarianism in terms of what kind of ideas are acceptable and are debatable on college campuses. And I think that's hugely unfortunate. I think the answer to bad speech is different speech. The answer to bad speech is not shutting down speech."

Summers also blasts "microagressions" as crazy. "The idea that somehow microaggressions in the form of a racist statement contained in a novel should be treated in parallel with violence or actual sexual assault seems to me to be crazy. I worry very much that if our leading academic institutions become places that prize comfort over truth—that prize the pursuit of mutual understanding over the pursuit of better and more accurate understanding—then a great deal will be lost."

Summers served as Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration and as director of the National Economic Council in the Obama administration.
One man's diversity is another's trigger warning...

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Wage Release

Walmart isn't coming to Washington, after all:
Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), head of the council’s finance committee, sat in on the meeting Friday morning with Walmart officials and Brian Kenner, Bowser’s deputy mayor for planning and economic development.

Evans said that, behind closed doors, Walmart officials were more frank about the reasons the company was downsizing. He said the company cited the District’s rising minimum wage, now at $11.50 an hour and possibly going to $15 an hour if a proposed ballot measure is successful in November. He also said a proposal for legislation requiring D.C. employers to pay into a fund for family and medical leave for employees, and another effort to require a minimum amount of hours for hourly workers were compounding costs and concerns for the retailer.

“They were saying, ‘How are we going to run the three stores we have, let alone build two more?’ ” Evans said.
Never try to explain common economic sense to liberals...

Rich Man, Richer Man

Remember Marc Rich?
The stench of the scandal in early 2001 sent people scurrying. Days after it was revealed that a senior UBS executive named Pierre de Weck had written a letter to Clinton “to support his request for a pardon,” the Swiss banking giant cancelled its discussions with Clinton about a lucrative post-White House speech, apparently “worried that a large speaking fee would create an appearance of impropriety.”

Even Bill Clinton eventually admitted that the pardon had been “terrible politics.” “It wasn’t worth the damage to my reputation,” he said.

But while the pardon was a political mistake, it certainly was not a financial one. In the years following the scandal, the flow of funds from those connected to Marc Rich or the pardon scandal have continued to the Clintons.

Rich died in 2013. But his business partners, lawyers, advisors and friends have showered millions of dollars on the Clintons in the decade and a half following the scandal.
Is it too late to give some of those people a refund?

The Certainty Isn't Settled

So how, exactly, does the American government plan to meet climate change agreement requirements?
“Well, as you may know, EPA does our greenhouse gas inventory and does our reporting on how well we’ve done, and so we’re going to keep looking at bringing more expertise to that. John, there’s uncertainty around all this and we have to keep looking at how we get these numbers right for ourselves and for other countries,” McCarthy said at the Council on Foreign Relations.

“So we’re going to keep looking at the science around this and the analytics, but we are also going to be implementing many of the initiatives that the president identified, those that he identified that the U.S. has put in as the basis for our goal-setting exercise. We’re going to make sure those move forward and we’re going to keep, over the next year, looking at other opportunities,” she added.

McCarthy said “it’s very clear” the U.S. is not going to get “everywhere it needs to go” in terms of carbon emissions reductions.

“No country’s put a plan that’s going to get them there. So we have to keep looking. For EPA, it’s looking at how we push the envelope on heavy duty vehicles. It’s getting a Montreal Protocol amendment and doing continued work on looking at hydrofluorocarbons and moving those out of the system or reducing those so that the impact is not as large as it has been,” McCarthy said.

“We’re going to keep looking at methane, oil and gas, and looking at whatever opportunities in that sector are available to us to begin to explore this year,” she added.
Yeah, you keep looking, guys...

The First Nanny State

Who was really behind Prohibition?
The truth is that Prohibition, in its essence, was a deeply progressive movement. Thus, for example, the forces of women’s liberation backed Prohibition—and the suffragettes were backed in turn by the Temperance Union, whose support (in the certainty that women would vote to outlaw liquor) helped gain women the vote. The goo-goos, the good-government types, similarly aided Prohibition, seeking to purge the rows of rowdy saloons that cluttered the major cities of America—and they enlisted the help of the Prohibitionists to create a national income tax, ending the federal government’s dependence on liquor taxes.

The health fanatics, the social-service providers in the churches and city governments, the Protestant elite of the Social Gospel movement: Prohibition was supported by majorities in all the social groups who today would be faithful allies of the left.
Some things haven't changed much...

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Looking For A Message

After Obama and Hillary, where do the Democrats go from here?
“A lot of the old policy agenda of left and right is defunct, and the cupboard is bare,” says Michael Waldman, a chief White House speechwriter for Bill Clinton and a veteran Democratic thinker. “The Democrats have achieved their major social policy goal of the past 60 years—health care. So what comes next? Parties often have a danger when they win their goal and they don’t have it to fight on anymore.”

So what might a “new” New Democratic philosophy look like, one that could speak to an ever-shrinking middle class in a nation growing steadily more diverse, with a much wider gap between rich and poor?

That’s a question that the Democrats are likely to have trouble answering any time soon as they seem determined to prevent this race from becoming an all-out brawl over their future.
Even when you win, you lose...

Mexican Mayhem

What hath Sean Penn wrought?
The marines peppered homes and trucks with bullets, set fire to four-wheelers and stole money, jewelry, blankets and clothes, residents said. The military hemmed in villages, prohibiting people from leaving their homes for up to five days in their ferocious search for Guzmán, according to interviews over four days with residents in the tiny mountain villages. As many as 250 families, nearly 1,000 people, fled the mountains in search of safety, arriving in the nearest city, Cosala, starting Oct. 9, according to the municipal government’s welfare office.

“This did not seem like the Mexican government,” said Maria del Carmen Verenice, a 47-year-old housewife, who added that she crouched in a ditch while shots were fired on the village from helicopters, then spent the next two days hiding in the woods. “This was a terrorist government.”

The Mexican government discounted the allegations against the marines, saying they were unfounded. A Mexican official said the trafficker manipulates his followers to make such claims in order to keep the military out of this drug-producing region of Durango state. “In this moment I have no knowledge that there has been one person” displaced, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
Mission not accomplished? Or accomplished all to well?

Iran Hits Paydirt

Was it a coincidence that this happened at the same time those captured sailors were released?
The U.N. nuclear agency certified Saturday that Iran has met all of its commitments under last summer's landmark nuclear deal, crowning years of U.S.-led efforts to crimp Iran's ability to make atomic weapons. For Iran, the move lifts Western economic sanctions that have been in place for years, unlocking access to $100 billion in frozen assets and unleashing new opportunities for its battered economy.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the top diplomats of Iran and the European Union hailed the accord, reached after years of setbacks and a full decade after the start of international diplomacy aimed at reducing the possibility that Tehran could turn its nuclear programs to weapons making.

"Today marks the first day of a safer world," Kerry declared in Vienna. "This evening, we are really reminded once again of diplomacy's power to tackle significant challenges."
....

For Tehran, the report translates into a huge financial windfall while also helping its efforts at international image rehabilitation.

Beyond sanctions lifting and the unlocking of frozen assets, certification by the IAEA opens the path to new oil, trade and financial opportunities that could prove far more valuable for Tehran in the long run.

Not even waiting for the IAEA report, Iranian Transport Minister Abbas Akhondi said his country had reached a deal with the European consortium Airbus to buy 114 passenger planes once the sanctions are lifted.
we have achieved trade in our time?

Complexity Is In The Psyche Of The Beholder

Well, it seem liberals aren't any less rigid than those conservatives they complain about:
It turns out that conservatives showed more complexity when dealing with topics like the death penalty, socialism, and refugees. Liberal responses were more complex when considering pre-marital sex, biblical truth, and alcohol. Overall, they report that liberals showed no greater complexity in thinking than conservatives did.

A similar study analyzed liberal and conservative responses to a 30-item questionnaire. Again, conservatives exhibited more complex thinking on some topics, including open-door immigration, smoking, castration, and easy access to birth control. Liberals were complex when discussing organized religion, abortion on demand, making racial discrimination illegal, and being assertive.

The researchers also found that both liberals and conservatives hold stronger attitudes for the topics on which they are more simple-minded.
When you only listen to those you agree with, you're not really listening...

Toxic Waters Run Deep

It's literally turning into a watergate:
EPA official Susan Hedman did not publicize the EPA’s concern over Flint’s water quality or the water’s dangerous health concerns. The federal agency instead quietly fought with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for at least six months about what should be done.

EPA water expert, Miguel Del Toral, identified potential contamination problems with Flint’s drinking water last February and confirmed the suspicions in April. He authored an internal memo about the problem in June, according to documents obtained by Virginia Tech.

Meanwhile, Hedman became aware of the contamination issue in April. She sought legal advice, but didn’t receive the guidance until November 2014. The American Civil Liberties Union accused Hedman in October of attempting to keep Miguel Del Toral’s memo in-house, downplaying its significance.
Brought to you by the same people who poisoned the Colorado river...

Stolen Fun

"That's it! No more fun for any of you guys!"
Katherine Clark, who has fuelled the online “harassment” panic over the past year, thought otherwise. Along with a host of social justice warriors, including disgraced video games journalist Leigh Alexander, Clark argued that the app “encouraged harassment” by allowing users to share pictures of other peoples’ profiles without their consent. Apparently unaware of the screenshot button, Clark sent sternly-worded letters to Twitter and the Apple Store, urging them to block the app.
....

Unless they’re seriously geeky, teenagers tend to be politically apathetic. I would expect the ones who download apps like Stolen are even more likely to eschew politics. But Katherine Clark may just have switched on the political lightbulbs of a wave of young people, who may well remember the nanny-statist who took their games away when they reach voting age.

In the space of 24 hours, Clark has become a pariah to devotees of the app on Twitter, who have been bombarding her feed with angry complaints. I wonder how many will be eligible to vote in her district in a few years?
Getting teenagers angry at overbearing authority figures is never a good idea...

Not So NICE

If you like your National Health, you can't keep it:
NICE, an agency that frequently rejects potentially life-changing drugs for use by the general public because they would cost too much, paid out £3,091.49 last year for insurance for 19 members of staff, according to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request obtained by the Times.

A separate request found that Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust spent £7,982 on three members of staff. Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust paid £16,615 for medical health insurance for three people last year.

Jonathan Isaby, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, commented:

“It’s deeply concerning if health regulators are unwilling to use the NHS. That these staff are tasked with reducing health inequalities rubs salt into the wound, given they have cover that millions can’t afford.”

Roger Goss, the co-director of Patient Concern, added:

“Why should we take any notice of Nice’s vast output telling everyone else how to behave when a team set up to reduce health inequalities then flouts that principle by giving its own staff preferential healthcare?”
Some health care is more equal than others...

Final Blame Game

Hey, it's not his fault:
“The problem is that when we get our politics, a lot of it has to do with the fact that our media is now splintered, some people are just watching Fox News, some people are just reading the New York Times, so they don’t even start with a common baseline of facts,” Obama told Destin Sandlin, host of the YouTube show, “Smarter Everyday.”

Obama continued, “They almost occupy two different realities in how they see the world.”

Obama has frequently attacked Fox News in the past for impeding his agenda, and accused the cable channel of conservative bias. However, he hasn’t paralleled the New York Times as a liberal equivalency before.
They're all out to get him...

Beard Lives Matter

The beard age is upon us:
The phenomenon is easy to spot on social media, with Instagram and Twitter posts exploding with hirsute hashtags like "#beardgang" and "beardgods" praising those with well-groomed beards — and mocking those without them. Surf those terms and you'll likely discover a host of self-styled 'beard models' — and thousands of ardent admirers.
"The idea of male beauty went from the all-American guy to a more natural, romantic look; hair on the body," Philip Fimmano, a style expert with Studio Edelkoort, a trend forecasting company, told CNBC in a recent interview.
The more rugged looking male is in fact "very sensitive, and not afraid of taking care of his appearance," Fimmano said. Believe it or not, that's not a contradiction in terms, he added.
Don't fear the beard?

Friday, January 15, 2016

Water Wasteland

New Mexico is suing the EPA:
New Mexico officials filed their intent to sue the EPA and the two owners of the Colorado mines from which mine waste poured into the Animas River. Animas is a tributary of the larger San Juan River. In its filing, New Mexico claims the EPA is working with Colorado “to support its own woefully inadequate monitoring plan, which fails to address critical environmental and public health issues, and only serves to limit liability.”

State officials have been arguing from the beginning EPA was holding back information and not moving quickly enough to inform states about the extent of the orange mine waste plume that came from Gold King Mine in August. Native tribes have also slammed EPA for its handling of spill liability waivers and allegedly giving tribal members tainted water shipments.

“Because EPA headquarters continues to shirk their duties formeaningful support and collaboration, we have no choice but to turnto the justice system to hold EPA accountable to New Mexicans,” Flynn said.
Isn't it about time somebody did?

Court Jesters

So this is now happening:
Both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio face legal challenges to their presidential ambitions based on the circumstances of their birth. In Florida, the challenge comes from a voter whose previous lawsuit against Barack Obama’s eligibility went nowhere, and names both Republican contenders.
....

At least thus far, Cruz has not had the opportunity to file a brief in this case, but it will probably follow along the same lines as Rubio’s motion in Florida, asking to dismiss it outright. Who knows, though? Cruz did a pretty good job of arguing his case last night, and might relish representing himself at the Supreme Court in an emergency hearing — assuming that the Supreme Court would bother to hear it, which is a fairly large assumption at this point.
But at least it would give the lawyers something do do...

Forgot About Those

Oh, there they are:
Last Friday, three years after one such suit was filed, the State Department suddenly discovered thousands of previously undisclosed Clinton documents.

“This latest find of Clinton records, at this late date, is astonishing,” Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton declared. “The State Department waited to last possible moment, as it did with the Clinton emails, to tell Judicial Watch and the federal courts about thousands of records that haven’t been searched, as the law requires. Who knew what – and when did they know it – about these new Clinton documents?”

Fitton also thinks the new documents include some significant information. “These newly recovered Clinton records are a potential game changer – and will be of interest to the courts, Congress, and the FBI’s criminal investigation,” he said. “It sure looks like more of the same in terms of Obama administration officials’ obstructing our FOIA requests, obstructing the courts, obstructing Congress, and obstructing justice.”
The Queen was just preparing for her next job, I'm sure...

Thursday, January 14, 2016

And Your Medicaid For Free

Because it worked so well elsewhere:
No matter what the pro-expansion camp says, Medicaid expansion isn’t free, and its costs are going up. The last time Wyoming’s legislature turned down Mead’s expansion, the feds were still picking up 100 percent of the treatment costs for newly-eligibles (which is really just code for working-age adults without disabilities). And even though President Obama is pushing to extend that match indefinitely, it would need approval by Congress, and with their recent votes defunding Obamacare, that’s highly unlikely.

Even states that are currently getting the 100 percent match are struggling to afford the administrative costs. Lawmakers should be putting resources towards teachers and education programs, officers and public safety, and engineers and infrastructure. But Mead wants them to take that money and give it to people who generally already have health insurance. Yes, that’s right, nearly 56 percent of the enrollees under Mead’s plan already have health insurance, according to estimates from Lewin Group Health Benefits Simulation Model.
If you like your health insurance, you can keep your health insurance-until government makes sure you can't afford it anymore...

The Regulation Train

Who regulates the regulators? Today, US Railroads run a successful freight transportation system for shippers and consumers. Their networks ...