Tuesday, December 24, 2013

More Left Wing Totalitarian Bias in the Press

This kind of thing always amazes me.  Always.  I rarely watch this show, but I was flipping channels this past weekend and came across David Gregory on Meet The Press.  Another flaming liberal without the ability for any coherent thought.

Video transcript here (you need to click on the right video clip):
"Roundtable: Should intelligence community reduce tactics?"

There is so much misguided material here.   First let's look at the official transcript:
"Dec. 22: Chuck Schumer, Tom Coburn, Christine Lagarde, Patrick Leahy, Peter King, James Inhofe, Ana Navarro, Robert Gibbs, E.J. Dionne, David Brooks"

Here is the quote that really showed how stupid Gregory is:
"Well and I-- I mentioned my sister-in-law, so I should mention her sister who is my wife who is in law enforcement who you know well, said the fact that it is so broad, that this bulk collection is so broad, is what makes it safer. Because the government is not concerned about who is looking at what website. They are really just collecting data to be able to protect the country."

Looks like someone needs to re-read some George Orwell books.  This is what passes for serious political "thought" nowadays?  My, how we have given away our freedom!  THIS is how we get a totalitarian government, folks.  The fact that it is so broad is what makes it SAFER?????  Talk about double-speak, redefining terms to mean their opposite.  Amazing.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

You Shall Not Pass!

Love this video!  Poor dogs.  Cats suck.   :(

You Shall Not Pass, Dog

By the way...
People see videos like this and think that a cat could actually take a dog in a fight.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Yes, some dogs are afraid of cats.  Yes, some dogs don't want to get scratched.  But in a fight, take the dog.  I have known a number of dogs who are NOT intimidated by cats.  In fact, I saw one of my childhood dogs kill a cat rather easily.

Another time, I saw another of my childhood dogs, one of my dad's dogs, attempt to eat a cat--until I stepped in and stopped him.  In that case the dog went in after a cat who was hiding under a bench against a wall.  The cat must have scratched him because he pulled back out.  Then he said this: "Wait a minute, I don't care if I get scratched. Actually, I don't care if the cat gouges my eye out.  I am eating that cat."  He dove in under the bench and went after the cat.  The cat scrambled up the wall behind the bench onto a window sill.  At which time the dog (Numnuts was his name, by the way) simply reached over, grabbed the midsection cat in his mouth, leaned his head back to get the cat back into his jaws, and was about to cut the cat in half.  Fortunately I pushed Numnuts' skin into his jaw to prevent him from biting down, thus freeing the cat.

The story does have a happy ending.  The cat was very friendly, not aloof like some cats are, and even killed a mouse in his brief week-long stay at my dad's house (someone had abandoned her there, on my dad's porch).  Numnuts kept trying to eat the cat all week; he was very confused as to why he was not allowed to eat her.  I brought the cat to my mother's house, where she lived the rest of her 15+ years.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Google Who

Another great interactive Google Doodle today!

This doodle celebrates 50 years of Doctor Who.  You DO watch it, don't you?  I'm happy to say that my daughters also like it too!

The doodle links you to a neat game.  See how fast you go.  I got a time of 6:51 in my second attempt (only played twice).

Monday, November 18, 2013

Our superpower: The ability to sweat.

Saw this TED talk recently, on a long flight.  Really caught my ear.  Not because I'm a runner, but much of what he was saying seems to apply to my long distance skating.

"Christopher McDougall: Are we born to run?"

The interesting thing I learned is that while humans don't have super strength or sharp claws, we do have something that other animals don't, not to the same degree anyway: the ability to sweat.  "Because the one advantage we have in the wilderness--again, it's not our fangs and our claws and our speed--the only thing we do really, really well is sweat.  We're really good at being sweaty and smelly.  Better than any other mammal on Earth, we can sweat really well!  But the advantage of that little bit of social discomfort is the fact that, when it comes to running under hot heat for long distance, we're superb, we're teh best on the planet."

Another interesting tidbit from the TED talk: We peak athletically around the age of 27.  But for certain endurance sports, such as running, we can maintain our performance quite well as we age.  McDougall says that we can maintain our 19-year-old performance level until we are 64 years old!  "64-year-old men and women are running as fast as they were at age 19."

Bottom line: I'll keep skating for a long time!  :)

I did a little bit of clicking around the Internet and found this article on our ability to sweat, how this may have been a biological adaptation we, as a species, made many years ago.

"Humans hot, sweaty, natural-born runners"
Article by Alvin Powell, reporting on a talk by Harvard Anthropology Professor Daniel Lieberman

"While more than a million humans run marathons voluntarily each year, most animals we consider excellent runners — antelopes and cheetahs, for example — are built for speed, not endurance. Even nature’s best animal distance runners — such as horses and dogs — will run similar distances only if forced to do so, and the startling evidence is that humans are better at it, Lieberman said."

"'Humans are terrible athletes in terms of power and speed, but we’re phenomenal at slow and steady. We’re the tortoises of the animal kingdom,' Lieberman said."

"Though those adaptations make humans and our immediate ancestors better runners, it is our ability to run in the heat that Lieberman said may have made the real difference in our ability to procure game."

"Humans, he said, have several adaptations that help us dump the enormous amounts of heat generated by running. These adaptations include our hairlessness, our ability to sweat, and the fact that we breathe through our mouths when we run, which not only allows us to take bigger breaths, but also helps dump heat."

"'We can run in conditions that no other animal can run in,' Lieberman said."

Remember that the next time you go to the zoo.  Other animals have some fabulous gifts, but we humans are also physically impressive!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

"I will be happy when... "

Some great advice in this article.  From the Huffington Post:

"How to Get Flat Abs, Have Amazing Sex and Rule the World in 8 Easy Steps"

Be happy now.
Let people in.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Song of the Day: Tim McGraw - Highway Don't Care

Continuing my country music kick, from two days ago.  This is the second of two songs that jumped out at me from the recent Country Music Awards list of best song nominees.

Tim McGraw (and friends) - "Highway Don't Care"

For some reason I want to just point my VFR north and ride.  Or east.  Maybe west.  Who cares, really?  (Not the highway!)  Not a short ride, let it run for hundreds of miles.  Okay, maybe I'll wait for summer...    :)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Song of the Day: A Capella Science - Bohemian Gravity

Okay, you have to love the creativity of this next song.  I sure did!  Listen and try to learn something!

"A Capella Science - Bohemian Gravity!"

A Capella Science - Bohemian Gravity!
Is string theory right?
Is it just fantasy?
Caught in the landscape,
Out of touch with reality
On S5 or T*S3

Space is a pure void
Why should it be stringy?
Because it's quantum not classical
Any way you quantize
You'll encounter infinity
You see

Must interact
Via paths we understand
Using Feynman diagrams
Often, they will just rebound
But now and then they go another way
A quantum
Infinities will make you cry
Unless you can renormalize your model
Of baryons, fermions
And all other states of matter

Curved space:
The graviton
Can be thought of as a field
But these infinities are real
In a many-body
Loop diagram
Our results diverge no matter what we do...
A Quantum Soup (any way you quantize)
Kiss your fields goodbye
Guess Einstein's theory wasn't complete at all!

I see extended 1-D objects with no mass
What's their use? What's their use? Can they give us quark plasma?
What to minimize?
What functional describes this
Nambu-Goto! (Nambu-Goto)
Nambu-Goto! (Nambu-Goto)
How to quantize I don't know
I'm just a worldsheet, please minimize me
He's just a worldsheet from a string theory
Reperametrized by a Weyl symmetry!

Fermi, Bose, open, closed, orientable?
Modes! They become particles (particles!)
They become particles (particles!)
They become particles (particles!)
Become particles (particles!)
Become particles (many many many many particle...)
Modes modes modes modes modes modes modes!
Oh mamma mia mamma mia,
Such a sea of particles!
A tachyon, with a dilaton and gravity-vity-VITY

(rock out!)

Now we need ten dimensions and I'll tell you why
(anomaly cancellation!)
So to get down to 4D we compactify!
Oh, Kahler!
(Kahler manifold)
Manifolds must be Kahler!
(Complex Reimannian symplectic form)
If we wanna preserve
Any of our super-symmetry

(Superstrings of type I, IIa and IIb)
(Heterotic O and Heterotic E)
(All are one through S and T duality)
(Thank you Ed Witten for that superstring revolution and your new M-theory!)

(Type IIB String!)
Dual! Dual!
(In the AdS/CFT)

Molecules and atoms
Light and energy
Time and space and matter
All from one united

Any way you quantize...

Lyrics and arrangement by Tim Blais and A Capella Science
Original music by Queen

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Song of the Day: Kacey Musgraves - Merry Go 'Round

I've said it before ... maybe I've lived down south for too long.  I don't listen to country music often, but sometimes I really like it.

Here is the first of two songs that caught my ear when I first heard of them after the recent Country Music Awards show (no, I didn't watch the show, just listened to some of the songs nominated). Apparently these songs were pretty big in country music lately.

Kacey Musgraves - Merry Go 'Round

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Don't talk to the police!

This talk should be mandatory, we should all listen to it.  Ever been in court and have a cop lie to your face?  I have.  It's not fun.  Don't talk to them.

"Dont Talk to Police"

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Song of the Day: U2 - Running to Stand Still

I was reminded of this song while watching an episode of "Long Way Round" the other day.  I recognized the song immediately, even from the short clip in the show.  Just a great song by a great band.  Three versions, I just couldn't decide which to post--so I posted them all.

"U2 - Running To Stand Still - RATTLE AND HUM - Live"

"U2- Running to Stand Still (Official-Unofficial) Music Video"

"U2 - Running To Stand Still (Chicago Live)"

Speaking of Long Way Round, here is the clip of Ewan MacGregor singing "Running to Stand Still":
"U2's Running to Stand Still- Ewan McGregor"

Monday, November 4, 2013

Mitt Romney Was, And Still Is, A Loser

I just happened to watch some political shows yesterday morning.  I saw Mitt Romney being interviewed on Meet The Press.  I was reminded once again about what a loser he was, and still is.  He is a poster child for why people like me don't trust the Republican establishment.

From NBC "News":
"Romney: Obama's 'dishonesty' on health care puts second term in peril"

Listen to this line, which didn't even make the written summary of the interview.  Watch the video, then click "Return to this video" to get the longer (16:40) version of the interview.  Skip to 9:13 of the video to hear Romney's response to the question about what he would have done with respect to health care if he had been elected president.
"...my own plan was to say to each state you've got a requirement to move to a point where all your people are insured, and where you cover pre-existing conditions.  We're going to give you flexibility from the federal government level to help you be able to do so."

Is that a real alternative to the Democrats?  No, it is NOT.

Remember, even if you agree with Romney on this, you have to realize that this grows the power of the Federal Government.  Any such actions only set a precedent that the Federal Government can dictate behavior to the States.  Which is simply not a power our founders gave to the Federal Government.  That power can, and will, be used by people with very different political beliefs.  If you agree with Romney on this point you do not believe in the limited government our founders gave us, and you have given the left all the tools they need to turn this into a socialist country.  Thanks.  Thanks a lot.

I was also amused to hear the latest Democrat talking points regarding Obama's oft-repeated lie: "If you like your current plan, you can keep it."  Of course they knew at the time that many (most?) plans would be illegal once Obamacare kicked in.  If, that is, the employers didn't figure out that the incentives of Obamacare would push them to eliminate their plans.

Anyway, the latest talking points regarding Obama's lies on this subject were as follows: Obama's lies were not lies.  If you bought a car in the past you'd be allowed to keep it, but if you bought a new car that car would have to meet new safety regulations.

What an ignorant comparison.  Healthcare is not a physical asset, something that you can keep once you buy it.  Rather, the car is more analogous to your human body.  Healthcare is a service, and is more analogous to the gas or maintenance you need to keep your car running.  You bought a car, and were promised that if you liked the gas (or oil or maintenance) you liked would still be available--right before they outlawed it.

Weak, very weak.  But I'm sure the left-wing media will eat it up and repeat the lies.

In Romney's defense, he did point out that if Obama had been honest about this, that people would lose their plans, Obamacare would have been much less likely to pass.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Song of the Day: Lucinda Williams - Right In Time

I can't believe I haven't posted a song by the incomparable Lucinda Williams.  Time to change that.

"Right in Time (Lucinda Williams)"

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Song of the Day: The XX - Heart Skipped A Beat

"The xx - Heart Skipped A Beat"

Actually, while I'm in this mood, let me post a couple more songs from The XX.

"xx - Reconsider"

"The xx - Missing"

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Song of the Day: The Be Good Tanyas - In Spite Of All The Damage

Great song today.  Perfect song for that sad, wistful mood I'm in lately.

"the be good tanyas - in spite of all the damage"

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Song of the Day: Edward Maya & __?__ - Stereo Love

Just like yesterday, two versions of today's song.  Which do you prefer?

"Edward Maya & Vika Jigulina - Stereo Love (Official Music Video)"

"Edward Maya & Mia Martina - Stereo Love (Ultra Music)"

I think I like the second version better.   :)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Song of the Day: Maná - El Verdadero Amor Perdona

Two versions of the the song today.

"Maná - El Verdadero Amor Perdona (Video Oficial)"

And a bachata version, with Prince Royce (whoever he is):
"Maná - El Verdadero Amor Perdona [feat. Prince Royce] (Video Oficial)"

Translation, "True Love Forgives":

El Verdadero Amor Perdona

Tienes todos los espacios
Inundados de tu ausencia
Inundados de silencio
No hay palabras, no hay perdón

Tú me tienes olvidado
No respondes al llamado
No eches tierra a la palabra
Me condenas a la nada
No me entierres sin perdón

Mira corazón que es el engaño
Se revierte y hace daño
Se revienta en el aire
Como pompas de jabón

Como pude haberte yo herido
Engañarte y ofendido
Alma gemela no te olvido
Aunque me arranque el corazón

Ay! El rencor que nos envenena
Nos hace daño
Aunque no regreses corazón
Has de perdonarme

El verdadero amor perdona
No abandona, no se quiebra
No aprisiona, no revienta
Como pompas de jabón

Aha haaha hahah- ahaha

Un error es algo humano
No justifico la traición
Los amantes verdaderos
Se comprenden, se aman
Y se olvidan del rencor

La noche empieza a amotinarse
De sueños rotos y el dolor
Y me revuelco en la cama
Aferrándome a la nada
Implorando tu perdón

Mira corazón cuanto te extraño
Pasan días, pasan años
Y mi vida se revienta
Como pompas de jabón

Como pude haberte yo herido
Engañarte y ofendido
Alma gemela no te olvido
Aunque me arranque el corazón

Ay! El rencor que nos envenena
Nos hace daño
Aunque no regreses corazón
Has de perdonarme

El verdadero amor perdona
No abandona, no se quiebra
No aprisiona, no revienta
Como pompas de jabón

El verdadero amor perdona
El verdadero amor perdona
Si el amor es verdadero
No se quiebra, no abandona
Si el amor es verdadero
No se quiebra, no abandona

True Love Forgives
Versions: #1#2#3#4

You have all the spaces
Flooded with your absence
Flooded with silence
There are no words, no excuses (1)
You have me forgotten
You don’t answer the call
Don’t break your promises (2)
Don’t condemn me to the nothingness
Don’t burry me without forgiveness

Look Heart (3) what is the deceit
It reverses and does damage
It bursts in the air
Like soap bubbles
How could I have hurt you
Deceived and offended you?
Twin soul I don’t forget you
Even if I tear out my heart

Oh! The bitterness (4) that poisons us
It harms us
Even if you don’t return, Heart
You will forgive me

True love forgives
It doesn’t abandon, doesn’t break
Doesn’t imprison, doesn’t burst
Like soap bubbles

An error is something human
I don’t justify the betrayal (5)
True lovers
Understand each other, love each other
And forget the bitterness
The night begins a riot (6)
Of broken dreams and pain
And I toss in bed
Clinging to the nothingness
Imploring your forgiveness

Look Heart, how much I miss you
Days go by, years go by
And my life bursts
Like soap bubbles
How could I have hurt you
Deceived and offended you?
Twin soul I don’t forget you
Even if I tear out my heart

Oh! The bitterness
That poisons us, that harms us
Even if you don’t return, Heart
You will forgive me

True love forgives,
It doesn’t abandon, doesn’t break
Doesn’t imprison, doesn't burst
Like soap bubbles

True love forgives,
True love forgives
If the love is true, it doesn’t break, doesn’t abandon
If the love is true, it doesn’t break, doesn’t abandon

(1) Literal translation of the word: forgiveness
(2) Literal translation of the line: “Don’t throw dirt on the word” Used as a saying to mean “don’t break your word/promise”
(3) “Heart” is used as an endearing term as in “my heart”/”my love”
(4) Literal translation of the word: rancor
(5) Literal translation of the word: treason
(6) Literal translation of the word: mutiny

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Binney and Wiebe, heard of them?

So the government is shut down, eh?  Think again.  The killing and spying parts are still being funded, of course.  At ridiculously wasteful levels.

As an aside: The government can't even build a data center right.  This is one of the places that will help invade and violate our privacy.  From Data Center Knowledge (and a bunch of other places):
"NSA Data Center Plagued by Electrical Problems" by Rich Miller

I am still bothered by the fact that our government feels the need and justification to spy on its citizens.  This intrusion in privacy was predicted, and could have been prevented, while still protecting us, according to some whistleblowers.  Consider this article from the Government Accountability Project:

"NSA Whistleblowers William (Bill) Binney and J. Kirk Wiebe"

Doesn't matter who the president is.  Obama doesn't give a damn about your rights any more than Bush did, or any other president.  Big government is its own justification.  Big government itself is the problem, regardless of party.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Song of the Day: Eva Cassidy - True Colors

Ah, YouTube, you know me so well.  I was listening to some Brandi Carlile songs and you, YouTube, showed a number of other songs along the right side of the screen as you always do.  I hadn't listened to Eva Cassidy for a long time, but there she was.

I could post so many of her songs (I guess that's true of both Eva and Brandi), but let me pick this one for today.  As you know, my seven readers*, I loved Eva's version of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time."  If not, click here: Songs of the Day: Eva Cassidy - Time After Time; Allison Crowe - Time After Time.  Well, here's another cover of one of Lauper's songs.

"Eva Cassidy- True Colours (Lyrics)"

And the original, by Lauper:
"Cyndi Lauper - True Colors"

Both versions are great.

If you don't know Eva Cassidy's story, consider reading this site:
Eva Cassidy Web Site (unofficial)

Lots of good links on that page, but here is one that caught my eye.  From the Boston Globe, back in 1999:
"Eva Cassidy's Gift" by Joan Anderman

She never signed with a major label--they didn't know how to categorize her, how to market her.  As if they needed to.
Indeed, Cassidy's subtle, but striking, innovations with familiar tunes were more than merely imaginative. With an intense purity of tone matched by an equally intense purity of emotion, Cassidy gave songs new life, even as hers was slipping away. Many thought she was black, so soulful was her way with a melody. But she sang jazz, gospel, folk, and pop with equal finesse, moving with ease from ''Autumn Leaves'' to Pete Seeger's ''Oh, Had I a Golden Thread'' to Curtis Mayfield's ''People Get Ready'' and sounding for all the world as if she were, by turns, a jazz diva, an earnest folk singer, and a fiery soul screamer.

And that, by all accounts, was Cassidy's curse as well as her blessing. An expansive musician whose love of song far exceeded her professional ambition, Cassidy refused to narrow her focus in order to make herself more marketable in an industry that's rigorously dedicated to stylistic niches. Plenty of record labels came calling; none had a clue what to do with a young woman who sounded like Judy Collins, Aretha Franklin, and Diana Krall rolled into one. ''She had a magnificent voice. The problem was she could sing a telephone directory, but she didn't have a musical point of view,'' says Bruce Lundvall, president of Jazz and Classics for Capitol Records, who considered signing her to the Blue Note label in 1994. Instead, Lundvall paired Cassidy with Pieces of a Dream, a Philadelphia pop-jazz unit, in the spring of 1994, trying to find some way to develop her as an artist. But the union was misguided and, following two singles and a tour, ultimately unsuccessful. ''I have to admit I'm guilty of passing on a brilliant career. We couldn't figure out what she was, and I blame myself. I talked to her on her deathbed and told her I'd made a terrible mistake. She said `God bless you.' She never harbored resentment.''
The end of the story sums things up well.
Young, who originally framed Cassidy's brief career as a tragedy, has changed her view. ''I remember when we first aired the story, we had a substitute jock who heard it in her car on the way to work,'' Young explains. ''She came bursting into the studio while I was still on the air and said, `No, no, you're wrong about this. It was a miracle that her voice was recorded at all. It's not a loss. It's a gift.'''

Eva, you were taken from us far too soon.

*estimated readership

Friday, September 20, 2013

Texts from my dog

Hilarious, try not to laugh out loud!

From Littlewhitelion.com:
"Texts From My Dog (10 pics)"

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Does gun control work?

This is the kind of thing that you won't typically hear on the nightly news, or whichever left wing media news source you care to name.  However, a fascinating study on gun control was just published.  Here is a summary of that study, from Breitbart:


Quoting most of the article from Breitbart, because the Breitbart article picks out many of the best parts of the system:
Because the findings so clearly demonstrate that more gun laws may in fact increase death rates, the study says that "the mantra that more guns mean more deaths and that fewer guns, therefore, mean fewer deaths" is wrong.
For example, when the study shows numbers for Eastern European gun ownership and corresponding murder rates, it is readily apparent that less guns to do not mean less death. In Russia, where the rate of gun ownership is 4,000 per 100,000 inhabitants, the murder rate was 20.52 per 100,000 in 2002. That same year in Finland, where the rater of gun ownership is exceedingly higher--39,000 per 100,000--the murder rate was almost nill, at 1.98 per 100,000.
Looking at Western Europe, the study shows that Norway "has far and away Western Europe's highest household gun ownership rate (32%), but also its lowest murder rate."
The murder rate in Russia, where handguns are banned, is 30.6; the rate in the U.S. is 7.8.
The authors of the study conclude that the burden of proof rests on those who claim more guns equal more death and violent crime; such proponents should "at the very least [be able] to show a large number of nations with more guns have more death and that nations that impose stringent gun controls have achieved substantial reductions in criminal violence (or suicide)." But after intense study the authors conclude "those correlations are not observed when a large number of nations are compared around the world."
In fact, the numbers presented in the Harvard study support the contention that among the nations studied, those with more gun control tend toward higher death rates. 

And, of course, the study itself, from Harvard:

by Don B. Kates and Gary Mauser

So much material in this report, I hardly know where to start.  I'll start at the beginning.
International evidence and comparisons have long been offered
as proof of the mantra that more guns mean more deaths and that
fewer guns, therefore, mean fewer deaths. Unfortunately,  such
discussions are all too often been afflicted by misconceptions and
factual error and focus on comparisons that are unrepresentative.
It may be useful to begin with a few examples. There is a com‐
pound assertion that (a) guns are uniquely available in the United
States compared with other modern developed nations, which is
why (b) the United  States has  by far the highest murder rate.
Though these assertions have been endlessly repeated, statement (b) is, in fact, false and statement (a) is substantially so. 
The study discusses the Soviet Union/Russia, and then England.
The same pattern appears when comparisons of violence to
gun ownership are made within nations. Indeed, “data on fire‐
arms ownership by  constabulary  area in England,” like data
from the United States, show “a negative correlation,” that is,
“where firearms are most dense violent crime rates are lowest,
and where guns are least dense violent crime rates are high‐
Stringent  gun  controls  were  not  adopted  in  England  and
Western Europe until after World War I. Consistent with the
outcomes of the recent American studies just mentioned, these
strict controls did not stem the general trend of ever‐growing
violent crime throughout the post‐WWII industrialized world
including the United  States  and Russia.

The authors are careful not to equate correlation with causation.  However, they do confidently state:
Although the reason is thus obscured, the undeniable result
is that  violent  crime,  and  homicide  in  particular,  has  plum‐
meted in the United States over the past 15 years. The fall in
the American crime rate is even more impressive when com‐
pared with the rest of the world. In 18 of the 25 countries sur‐
veyed  by  the  British  Home  Office,  violent  crime  increased
during  the  1990s.  This  contrast  should  induce  thoughtful
people  to  wonder  what  happened  in  those  nations,  and  to
question policies based on the notion that introducing increas‐
ingly more restrictive firearm ownership laws reduces violent
crime. Perhaps the United States is doing  something right in
promoting firearms for law‐abiding responsible adults. Or per‐
haps the United  States’  success in lowering its violent  crime
rate relates to increasing its prison population or its death sen‐
tences. Further research is required to identify more precisely
which  elements  of the United  States’  approach  are the most
important, or whether all three elements acting in concert were
necessary to reduce violent crimes.

The authors then go on to make a statement that, while blindingly obvious, seems to elude the clueless among us [emphasis mine]:
One reason the extent of gun ownership in a society does not
spur the murder rate is that murderers are not spread evenly
throughout  the  population.  Analysis  of  perpetrator  studies
shows  that  violent  criminals—especially  murderers—“almost
uniformly have a long history of involvement in criminal behav‐
ior.”  So  it  would  not  appreciably raise  violence  if  all  law‐
abiding, responsible people had firearms because they are not
the ones who rape, rob, or murder. By the same token, violent
crime would not fall if guns were totally banned to civilians.
the respective examples of Luxembourg and Russia suggest,
individuals who  commit violent  crimes will  either find guns
despite severe controls or will find other weapons to use.   
Startling as the foregoing may seem, it represents the cross‐
national norm, not some bizarre departure from it. If the man‐
tra “more guns  equal more death and fewer guns  equal less
death”  were  true,  broad  based  cross‐national  comparisons
should show that nations with higher gun ownership per cap‐
ita  consistently  have  more  death.  Nations  with  higher  gun
ownership rates, however, do not have higher murder or sui‐
cide rates than those with lower gun ownership. Indeed many
high gun ownership nations have much lower murder rates.

Consider, for  example, the  wide divergence  in murder rates
among  Continental  European  nations  with  widely  divergent
gun ownership rates.  
The non‐correlation between gun ownership and murder
is reinforced by  examination of  statistics from larger num‐
bers of nations across the developed world. Comparison of
“homicide  and  suicide mortality data for thirty‐six nations
(including the United  States) for the  period  1990–1995” to
gun  ownership  levels  showed  “no  significant  (at  the  5%
level) association between gun ownership levels and the to‐
tal homicide rate.” Consistent with this is a later European
study of data from 21 nations in which “no significant corre‐
lations [of gun ownership levels] with total suicide or homi‐
cide rates were found.”
More obviousness [again, emphasis mine]:
However  unintentionally,  the  irrelevance  of  focusing  on
weaponry is highlighted by the most common theme in the
more  guns  equal  more  death  argument.  Epitomizing  this
theme is a World Health Organization (WHO) report assert‐
ing,  “The  easy  availability  of firearms has  been  associated
with higher firearm mortality rates.” The authors, in noting
that the presence of a gun in a home corresponds to a higher
risk  of  suicide,  apparently  assume that  if denied firearms,
potential  suicides will decide to live rather than turning to
the numerous alternative suicide mechanisms. The evidence,
however,  indicates  that  denying  one  particular  means  to
people who are motivated to commit suicide by social, eco‐
nomic, cultural, or other circumstances simply pushes them
to some other means. Thus, it is not just the murder rate in
gun‐less Russia that is four times higher than the American
rate; the Russian suicide rate is also about four times higher
than the American rate.
There is no social benefit in decreasing the availability of
guns if the result is only to increase the use of other means of
suicide  and  murder,  resulting  in  more  or  less  the  same
amount of death. Elementary as this point is, proponents of
the more guns equal more death mantra seem oblivious to it.

Table 2 on page 16, which compares murder rates in neighboring countries with and without gun control, is enlightening [again, emphasis mine].
Once  again,  we  are  not  arguing  that  the  data  in  Table  2
shows  that  gun  control  causes  nations  to  have  much  higher
murder rates than neighboring nations that permit handgun
ownership. Rather, we assert a political causation for the ob‐
served correlation that nations with stringent gun controls tend
to  have  much  higher  murder rates  than  nations  that  allow
guns. The political  causation is that nations which have vio‐
lence problems tend to adopt severe gun controls, but these do
not  reduce  violence
,  which  is  determined  by  basic  socio‐
cultural and economic factors.
They go on to debunk the myth that a gun in the house is more likely to be used against the owner than to stop a crime.  First, they make yet another obvious point [emphasis mine].
The “more guns equal more death” mantra seems plausible
only when viewed through the rubric that murders mostly in‐
volve ordinary people who kill because they have access to a
firearm when they get angry.
 If this were true, murder might
well increase where people have ready access to firearms, but
the  available data provides no  such  correlation. Nations and
areas with more guns per capita do not have higher murder
rates than those with fewer guns per capita.
This is the fallacious argument made by gun control proponents:
Nevertheless,  critics  of  gun  ownership  often  argue  that  a
“gun in the closet to protect against burglars will most likely be
used to shoot a spouse in a moment of rage . . . . The problem is
you and me—law‐abiding folks;” that banning handgun posses‐
sion only for those with criminal records will “fail to protect us
from the most likely source of handgun murder: ordinary citi‐
zens;” that “most gun‐related homicides . . . are the result of
impulsive  actions  taken  by  individuals  who  have  little  or  no
criminal  background  or  who  are  known to the victims;” that
“the majority of firearm homicide[s occur] . . . not as the result
of criminal activity, but because of arguments between people
who know each other;” that each year there are thousands of
gun murders “by law‐abiding citizens who might have stayed
law‐abiding if they had not possessed firearms.”
The authors' response:
These comments appear to rest on no evidence and actually con‐
tradict facts that have so uniformly been established by homicide
studies dating back to the 1890s that they have become “crimino‐
logical  axioms.” Insofar  as  studies focus  on  perpetrators, they
show that neither a majority, nor many, nor virtually any murder‐
ers are ordinary “law‐abiding citizens.” Rather, almost all mur‐
derers  are  extremely  aberrant  individuals  with  life  histories  of
violence, psychopathology, substance abuse, and other dangerous
behaviors.  “The  vast  majority  of  persons  involved  in  life‐
threatening violence have a long criminal record with many prior
contacts with the justice system.” “Thus homicide—[whether] of a
stranger or[of] someone known to the offender—‘is usually part of
a pattern of violence, engaged in by people who are known . . . as
violence prone.’” Though only 15% of Americans over the age of
15 have arrest records, approximately 90 percent of “adult mur‐
derers have  adult records, with an average adult  criminal  career
[involving crimes committed as an adult rather than a child] of six
or more years, including four major adult felony arrests.” These
national  statistics  dovetail  with  data  from  local  nineteenth  and
twentieth century studies. For example: victims as well as offenders
[in 1950s and 1960s Philadelphia murders] . . . tended to be people
with prior police records, usually for violent  crimes  such  as  as‐
sault.” “The great majority of both perpetrators and victims of
[1970s Harlem] assaults and murders had previous [adult] arrests,
probably over 80% or more.”
They point out that the term "acquaintance homicide" is misleading.
Thus the term “acquaintance homicide” does not refer solely
to murders between ordinary acquaintances. Rather it encom‐
passes, for example: drug dealers killed by competitors or cus‐
tomers, gang members killed by members of the same or rival
gangs, and women killed by stalkers or abusers who have bru‐
talized them on earlier occasions, all individuals for whom fed‐
eral and state laws already prohibit gun possession.

More exploration of the relationship between guns and crime.  The authors appear to believe that sociological factors drive the crime rate, not gun ownership in and of itself [emphasis mine].
In sum, though many nations with widespread gun ownership
have much lower murder rates than nations that severely restrict
gun ownership, it would be simplistic to assume that at all times
and in all places widespread gun ownership depresses violence by
deterring  many  criminals  into  nonconfrontation  crime.  There  is
evidence that it does so in the United States, where defensive gun
ownership  is  a  substantial  socio‐cultural  phenomenon.  But  the
more plausible explanation for many nations having widespread
gun ownership with low violence is that these nations never had
high murder and violence rates and so never had occasion to enact
severe anti‐gun laws.
 On the other hand, in nations that have ex‐
perienced high and rising violent crime rates, the legislative reac‐
tion has generally been to enact increasingly severe antigun laws.
This is futile, for reducing gun ownership by the law‐abiding citi‐
zenry—the only ones who obey gun laws—does not reduce vio‐
lence or murder. The result is that high crime nations that ban guns
to reduce crime end up having both high crime and stringent gun
laws, while it appears that low crime nations that do not signifi‐
cantly restrict guns continue to have low violence rates.
Thus both sides of the gun prohibition debate are likely
wrong in viewing the availability of guns as a major factor in
the  incidence  of murder  in  any particular  society. Though
many people may still cling to that belief, the historical, geo‐
graphic, and demographic evidence explored in this Article
provides a clear admonishment. Whether gun availability is
viewed as a  cause or as a mere  coincidence, the long term
macrocosmic evidence is that gun ownership spread widely
throughout  societies  consistently  correlates  with  stable  or
declining murder rates. Whether causative or not, the consis‐
tent international pattern is that more guns equal less mur‐
der and other violent crime. Even if one is inclined to think
that gun availability is an important factor, the available in‐
ternational  data  cannot  be  squared  with  the  mantra  that
more  guns  equal  more  death  and  fewer  guns  equal  less
death. Rather, if firearms availability does matter, the data
consistently show that the way it matters is that more guns
equal less violent crime. 

So what should we do?  At the very least, the burden of proof rests with the gun control proponents.
Those who assert the mantra, and urge that public policy be
based on it, bear the burden of proving that more guns do
equal more death and fewer guns equal less death. But they
cannot  bear that  burden  because there  simply is no large
number  of  cases  in  which  the  widespread  prevalence  of
guns among the general population has led to more mur‐
der. By the same token, but even more importantly, it can‐
not be shown consistently that a reduction in the number of
guns  available to the general population has led to fewer
deaths. Nor is the burden borne by speculating that the rea‐
son  such  cases do not  appear is that other factors  always
The authors then state that gun control proponents also need to address the fact that their arguments are not plausible in light of the evidence presented in the study.

The study continues with a discussion about murder rates in periods without guns, and in periods where there was a glut of guns.  It shows that suicide rates are not dependent on gun ownership, "no statistical relationship."

The conclusion?
This Article has reviewed a significant amount of evidence
from a wide variety of international sources. Each individual
portion of evidence is subject to cavil—at the very least the
general objection that the persuasiveness of social scientific
evidence  cannot  remotely  approach  the  persuasiveness  of
conclusions in the physical  sciences. Nevertheless, the bur‐
den of proof rests on the proponents of the more guns equal
more death and fewer guns equal less death mantra, espe‐
cially  since they  argue public policy ought to be based on
that mantra. To bear that burden would at the very least
require  showing that a large number of nations with more
guns have more death and that nations that have imposed
stringent gun controls have achieved substantial reductions
in  criminal violence (or  suicide). But those  correlations are
not observed when a large number of nations are compared
across the world.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

A different point of view of a space shuttle launch

Not much more to say about this next video, just sit back and enjoy.  The title sums it up well.  The audio is also fascinating.

From io9.com:
"Absolutely mindblowing video shot from the Space Shuttle during launch"

From the article:
Try to let what you're witnessing sink in. See those numbers flying past in the upper right hand corner? That's the Shuttle's airspeed. See that gleam of light against the inky backdrop of space at 2:08 and 3:11? That's the Shuttle continuing on its flight path into low Earth orbit. Hear the eerie rattling, haunting moans, and weird dinosaur noises? That's what it sounds like to be a Solid Rocket Booster, falling to Earth from an altitude of 150,000 feet.

Friday, August 30, 2013

To declare war

Did you happen to catch all the leftist protests about potentially going to war in Syria for no good reason?  Here's one:

Interesting.  What do you think would be happening if President Bush had done the exact same things Obama is doing now?  The hypocrisy is deafening.  Proves once again that leftists have no principles, they're just cheerleaders.

Well, maybe that's not strictly true.  Obama and Biden both have clear points of view regarding taking these United States to war, following the Constitution and all that.

Remember the War Powers Clause in the Constitution?  Anyone?  Bueller?  It states:
[The Congress shall have Power...] To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
What?  You mean that the President is not authorized to declare war unilaterally?

From RightWisconsin.com:
"Obama and Biden's Own Words on War and Congressional Approval" by Collin Roth

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.

As for the specific question about bombing suspected nuclear sites, I recently introduced S.J. Res. 23, which states in part that "any offensive military action taken by the United States against Iran must be explicitly authorized by Congress." The recent NIE tells us that Iran in 2003 halted its effort to design a nuclear weapon. While this does not mean that Iran is no longer a threat to the United States or its allies, it does give us time to conduct aggressive and principled personal diplomacy aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
-Barack Obama in 2008

It is precisely because the consequences of war – intended or otherwise – can be so profound and complicated that our Founding Fathers vested in Congress, not the President, the power to initiate war, except to repel an imminent attack on the United States or its citizens. They reasoned that requiring the President to come to Congress first would slow things down… allow for more careful decision making before sending Americans to fight and die… and ensure broader public support.

The Founding Fathers were, as in most things, profoundly right. That’s why I want to be very clear: if the President takes us to war with Iran without Congressional approval, I will call for his impeachment.

I do not say this lightly or to be provocative. I am dead serious. I have chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee. I still teach constitutional law. I’ve consulted with some of our leading constitutional scholars. The Constitution is clear. And so am I.

I’m saying this now to put the administration on notice and hopefully to deter the President from taking unilateral action in the last year of his administration. If war is warranted with a nation of 70 million people, it warrants coming to Congress and the American people first.

-Joe Biden in 2008
So I'm confident that Obama and Biden will ask Congress for authority to use U.S. military power in Syria, or anywhere else.  They wouldn't change their position just because they're in power now, would they?

Interesting that this subject was also raised in 2011, regarding Libya.  From the Huffington Post:
"Joe Biden Warned In 2007 That He'd Impeach Bush For Waging War Without Congressional Approval"

Interesting thing to note in that article was the big government spineless Republican reaction, as illustrated by the weasel Lindsay Graham:
As Dave Weigel pointed out Tuesday, the prevailing attitude in Congress over the matter of congressional approval is best exemplified by the statements made by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), who each basically said they'd simply rubber-stamp whatever Obama wanted to do. "I'd be glad to vote on it afterwards," said Graham, all but cementing Congress' ornamental role in military conflict.

More videos here, from DailyPaul.com:
"Joe Biden: War Without Congressional Authorization Should Warrant IMPEACHMENT"

My initial reaction to the situation in Syria is to not get involved.  Dictator versus rebels who may turn out to be nutjob Islamists?  This is like a game between the Vikings and the Bears--can't they both lose?  In all seriousness, though, I don't believe that we can police the world.  But if we do want to do so, why would we want the president to do so unilaterally?  Isn't this exactly why we want Congress to be involved, to come to a consensus decision?

In closing, I think this meme pretty much sums things up.  From the All That Spam blog:
"If I put the constitution in my emails would the government start reading it?"

Thursday, August 29, 2013

What I do

Sometimes people ask me what I do at work.  In the future I'm just going to tell him that I do this:

I build the power systems that support the infrastructure that answers all those crazy questions, so I don't answer those questions directly, exactly, but close enough!

But back the cartoon itself.  Don't you just love Google Autocomplete?  It truly gives some insight into what we are searching for. As others have said, and I fully concur, the one place people never lie is when typing to their search engine.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Need a cell phone? Or three?

Did you ever wonder whether government programs are wasteful and inefficient?  Well don't.  That is the very nature of such programs.  Consider what is becoming known as the "Obamaphone" program.

From National Review Online:
"Me and My Obamaphones" by Jillian Kay Melchior
In the past month, I have received three shiny new cell phones, courtesy of American taxpayers, that should never have fallen into my hands.
The author was very clear that she was not on any other government program (required to be eligible for the Obamaphone) and in one case she was actually talking on her own phone while applying for her free phone!
And indeed, while doing research for another story, I had gone through the motions of applying for New York City welfare, which I also don’t qualify for. I showed him my Human Resources Administration paperwork packet and the case number assigned to me. I reiterated that though I had once applied, I had never been approved for any sort of benefit.
He brought out his electronic tablet immediately to sign me up for phone service. He asked if I had an insurance card, so I pulled out my trusty Blue Cross Blue Shield. He looked at it for a second, puzzled, then asked if I had Medicaid. No, I told him, just private insurance through my work plan.
“Private insurance? What’s that?” he asked, maybe not facetiously. My BCBS card was nevertheless photographed, as well as the first page of my Human Resources Administration paperwork. He asked for my name and my home address, and that was about it. The whole process took less than five minutes, and I had to provide no documentation verifying my income level or (nonexistent) welfare status.

The author also got referred to a competing cell phone provider, to get two phones, even though this is a violation of the program rules.
Schaefer also tells me that “consumers are, on their applications, required to certify under penalty of perjury that they will only be receiving one Lifeline discount.”

But when I went around New York signing up for multiple phones, I never even saw the applications; SafeLink and Assurance vendors filled out the necessary forms on their tablets on my behalf, clicking through so quickly that it must have been nearly muscle memory. And nobody mentioned perjury.

Granted, the first question the wireless reps asked was usually whether I was already enrolled in the Lifeline program. I told the truth: I had signed up recently, but the phone hadn’t arrived in the mail yet. Almost always, that got me re-entered into the system without hesitation.
And at one Lifeline location in East Harlem, I walked up to the wireless representative talking very loudly on my own smartphone. I hung up only to answer her questions. Now, keep in mind that the program is supposed to provide cell-phone service to people too poor to afford any phone whatsoever — but my application for a subsidized mobile was happily submitted, even as I dinked around very obviously on my existing smartphone.
So here’s the final count: I was able to apply on the street for one SafeLink phone and seven Assurance phones. I received one SafeLink phone and two Assurance phones, no questions asked. For several other applications, Assurance sent me requests for more financial information.
Why does this happen?  It's pretty easy to figure out, if you have half a brain.
And if you’ve been wondering why the companies are so eager to hand out free phones, the incentive is built into the program. As Griffin explains, “Of course, the way the program was set up, [wireless companies] were getting money for every one they could give out, so they gave out as many as they could.”

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Song of the Day: Violent Femmes - Blister In The Sun

Here is a blast from the past.  The Violent Femmes.  Brings me right back to high school in Milwaukee.  As you might guess, the Femmes were very popular in Milwaukee since they are from that area.

Anyway, here is one of their best-known songs:
"Blister in the Sun - Violent Femmes - Lyrics"

I saw these guys in concert, at Summerfest, in the early 90's I believe.  One of the BEST concerts I have ever seen.

Ah the memories!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

40% of the Internet?

Did you hear about the Google outage last Friday?  There are lots of links, lots of stories, but I'd like to focus on one aspect of the story.

From Forbes:
"Analyzing Friday's Google Outage"

The aspect I'd like to focus on?  This:

When Google went down, worldwide internet traffic dropped by 40%.  40%!!!

Again, from Forbes:
"Fascinating Number: Google Is Now 40% Of The Internet"

From the article:
Actually, there are two impressive and fascinating numbers here. The first is that Google does seem to be, in all its manifestations and forms, 40% of all internet traffic. The other is that while going down in its entirety wasn’t a particularly great advertisement for the firm, bringing it all back up in only 11 minutes was a great advertisement for them. After all, screw ups and mistakes happen it’s how quickly and effectively one cleans up afterwards that is the real test.
40%?!?!  Wow.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Song of the Day: Black Lab - Remember

I've posted some songs by these guys in the past, time for another one.

"Black Lab - Remember Lyrics"

And an unplugged version, that I really like:

"Black Lab - Remember (unplugged)"

Do you remember?  I do.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

An Engineer's Car

You've heard of clown cars, right?  Well, here's an engineer's car! I love it!

Reminds me of the time, a long time ago, when I bought an Acura Integra.  I happened to buy an Integra RS (lowest trim version of the car).  But I kind of wished at the time that I had preferred the LS version.  Then my car would have been an Integra LS.  All engineers are familiar with integrals, of course!

Anyway, back the engineer's car in question.  What a great idea to add to the "3" designation on the car's badging!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Song of the Day: Ben Harper - Picture In A Frame

"Picture in a frame - Ben Harper"

Another sad song, powerful lyrics.

Lyrics, from the YouTube link:

You can sell your soul
But you can't buy it back
I've spent my whole life
Working to give you
Everything you lack

I wish you were here
So we could walk and talk
In the soft rain
Now all that's left of us
Is a picture sitting in a frame

I would gladly trade
All of my sympathy
For sorrow
If i could have you
Here with me tomorrow

So many wasted days
The past is so hard to get out from under
So many words that i wish i could say
The future rattles my bones weak like thunder

I wish you were here
So we could walk and talk
In the soft rain
Now all that's left of us
Is a picture sitting in a frame

Everything i wish for
Is everything i see
I remember when your kisses were for me

Thursday, August 15, 2013

It's Not About The Nail!

This is HILARIOUS!  And true?

From Jason Headley:
"It's Not About The Nail"

My reactions, after laughing my ass off:
  1. How does he manage to keep a straight face while filming this???
  2. I know how she manages to keep a straight face: She's not acting!
  3. I'm surprised he's not mad or jealous about whoever nailed her...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Song of the Day: The Milk Carton Kids - Michigan

Love this song:

"The Milk Carton Kids - Michigan"

Beautiful song.  Sad.  That song speaks to me on a lot of levels.  Not to mention that I'm from Michigan, which makes me wistful as well.

"And all that's left is a blind reflection
But you know what's coming and you regret it"

Lyrics, from SongMeanings.com:

The clouds move over Pontiac skies
Their silent thunder matches mine
I know this feeling from long ago
I wonder if it's gone now I know

So when she calls don't send her my way
When it hurts you'll know it's the right thing

Michigan's in the rearview now
Keep your hands where I can see them
You took the words right out of my mouth
When you knew that I would need them
What am I supposed to do now
Without you
Without you

It's unannounced like you'd expected
[Her mom broke down brake line in poor town records]
And all that's left is a blind reflection
But you know what's coming and you regret it

So when she comes don't send her my way
When it hurts most it's the right thing

Michigan's in the rearview now
Keep your hands where I can see them
You took the words right out of my mouth
When you knew that I would need them
What am I supposed to do now
Without you
Without you

Michigan's in the rearview now
Keep your hands where I can see them
You took the words right out of my mouth
When you knew that I would need them
What am I supposed to do now
Without you
Without you 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Captain Sum Ting Wong

If you missed the names of the pilots of that Asiana flight that crashed a little while back in San Francisco, check out this news broadcast from KTVU TV in Oakland.

"Asiana Pilots names from KTVU News"

Did you catch those pilot names?

Yes, this is real!  From Deadspin:
"Pranked TV Station Reports “Ho Lee Fuk,” “Wi Tu Lo” As SF Crash Pilots"

How did that happen?  From the SFGate Blog:
"Pilot consultant source of KTVU’s fake pilot list, report says"

Did you catch this part of the article?
The Bay Area media blogger also says that KTVU Managing Editor Michelle Toy read the fake names prior to the broadcast as part of normal checks and questioned their authenticity, but approved the list after she was told they had been confirmed by the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB intern who OK’d the list later was fired.
Confirmed by an NTSB intern?  Was the intern in on the joke originally, or did he just roll with it once he saw the list?

As you would expect, people have been fired.  From UPI:
"KTVU-TV, San Francisco, producers fired over Asiana pilots' fake names"

And as you would also expect, now the lawsuits begin.  From CBS News:
"Asiana Airlines confirms it will sue KTVU-TV over broadcast of racist fake pilot names"

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Sometimes you see a story that gives you hope for the future.  You see a man who stands for principle.  It makes you feel as though you could do the same.

Lavabit is--was until recently, actually--an e-mail service provider.  No longer.

First check out their website:
My Fellow Users,
I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations. I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on--the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.
What’s going to happen now? We’ve already started preparing the paperwork needed to continue to fight for the Constitution in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. A favorable decision would allow me resurrect Lavabit as an American company.
This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would _strongly_ recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.
Ladar Levison
Owner and Operator, Lavabit LLC
Defending the constitution is expensive! Help us by donating to the Lavabit Legal Defense Fund here.
What made Lavabit different?  Check out this article from Forbes:
"Email Company Used By Edward Snowden Shuts Down Rather Than Hand Data Over To Feds" by Kashmir Hill

Lavabit was the e-mail service used by Edward Snowden.  Why did he use it?  Why shut down the service?
Texas-based Lavabit came into being in 2004 as an alternative to Google’s Gmail, as an email provider that wouldn’t scan users’ email for keywords. Being identified as the provider of choice for the country’s most famous NSA whistleblower led to a flurry of attention for Lavabit and its encrypted email services, from journalists, and also, apparently, from government investigators. Lavabit founder Ladar Levison announced Thursday that he’s shutting down the company rather than cooperating with a government investigation (presumably into Snowden).
Some implications of this push by the NSA to scan our e-mail accounts?
“I would strongly recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States,” writes Levison, based on his experience. This message seems to be a loud and clear one. Washington, D.C.-based think tank Information Technology and Innovation Foundation predicts that U.S. cloud companies will lose from $21.5 to $35 billion over the next three years. They admit that it is a “rough guess” based on surveys about the chilling effects of the NSA leaks on U.S.-based cloud businesses.

Another article, from Wired:
"Edward Snowden’s Email Provider Shuts Down Amid Secret Court Battle" by Keven Poulsen

Interesting reactions from Lavabit users.
Update 19:45: Lavabit has 350,000 users who aren’t Edward Snowden, and some are decidedly unhappy with Levison’s decision, judging by a flood of angry comments posted to Lavabit’s Facebook page this afternoon.
“Too bad that I payed some years in advance to keep up the good work that now turns out to be terminated without any warning,” wrote one user. “I relied on this service which is basic for my private as professional online communication and have no idea how to migrate mails and recover mails being sent that never reached me in the past 18 hours.”
“I have my Steam account and EVERYTHING on Lavabit,” wrote another. “Please have the servers running so that we can migrate our services.”
“How am I supposed to migrate?” a third user added. “Some services require a confirmation sent to the old email address to be able to switch. I can’t believe this. I just switched to Lavabit only a couple of weeks ago to get away from Hotmail snooping my shit.”
A minority of commenters were more supportive. “Holy shit, you guys are crying over your Steam accounts,” wrote one. “Just change your email to something else. Lavabit either had to roll over for the government, compromising our privacy, or shut down service. Be happy Ladar shut it down instead of rolling over.”

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Use the Crosswalk, Deer

The infamous Deer Lady:

"ORIGINAL - Please Move The Deer Crossing Sign. HILARIOUS STUPIDITY. Must Hear!!"

And a follow-up:

"Please Move Deer Crossing Part 2!!!"

According to Snopes, this is a true story.  And she's not the only one to have this misconception!

"Deer Crossing"

Friday, August 9, 2013

Obama can't even follow his own law. Surprised?

From the Wall Street Journal:
"Congress's ObamaCare Exemption"

I'm shocked, SHOCKED.  (That's sarcasm, by the way.)  Obama can't allow ObamaCare to function as the law was passed.  Again.

It shows that Obama and the Democrats have no respect for the rule of law nor any understanding of the law that they passed.  I used to think that they were simply to stupid to understand the impact of the law.  But it turns out that they don't understand the law itself, or the simply don't care.  I'm not sure which is worse.
The Affordable Care Act requires Members of Congress and their staffs to participate in its insurance exchanges, in order to gain first-hand experience with what they're about to impose on their constituents.
Harry Reid revised the Grassley amendment when he rammed through his infamous ObamaCare bill that no one had read for a vote on Christmas eve. But he neglected to include language about what would happen to the premium contributions that the government makes for its employees. Whether it was intentional or not, the fairest reading of the statute as written is that if Democrats thought somebody earning $174,000 didn't deserve an exchange subsidy, then this person doesn't get a subsidy merely because he happens to work in Congress.
But the statute means that about 11,000 Members and Congressional staff will lose the generous coverage they now have as part of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). Instead they will get the lower-quality, low-choice "Medicaid Plus" of the exchanges. The Members—annual salary: $174,000—and their better paid aides also wouldn't qualify for ObamaCare subsidies. That means they could be exposed to thousands of dollars a year in out-of-pocket insurance costs.
Oh, the horror.  Having to live the same rules they impose on the rest of us.
And now the White House is suspending the law to create a double standard. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that runs federal benefits will release regulatory details this week, but leaks to the press suggest that Congress will receive extra payments based on the FEHBP defined-contribution formula, which covers about 75% of the cost of the average insurance plan. For 2013, that's about $4,900 for individuals and $10,000 for families.
This latest White House night at the improv is also illegal. OPM has no authority to pay for insurance plans that lack FEHBP contracts, nor does the Affordable Care Act permit either exchange contributions or a unilateral bump in congressional pay in return for less overall compensation. Those things require appropriations bills passed by Congress and signed by the President.
So the White House is once again rewriting the law unilaterally, much as it did by suspending ObamaCare's employer mandate for a year. For this White House, the law it wrote is a mere suggestion.
The lesson for Americans is that Democrats who passed ObamaCare didn't even understand what they were doing to themselves, much less to everyone else. But you can bet Democrats will never extend to ordinary Americans the same fixes that they are now claiming for themselves. The real class divide in President Obama's America is between the political class and everyone else.