Sunday, March 31, 2013

Popehat: College Is No Place For The Sex Talk

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Last week, the award-winning student newspaper for Central New Mexico Community College ran an issue all about sex. This prompted a massive backlash from the administration, who confiscated all issues of the paper and actually shut down the newspaper altogether.

At least until the complaints from the rest of the world got loud enough so that a day later, they made hasty and embarrassed about-face, inventing a lame excuse for what they did.

PopeHat (a great blog about law) wrote an article about this, including a fictitious conversation describing what the dean must have been thinking at the time.

Gatestone Institue: Jihadis' Exploitation of Muslim Girls

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What are the Muslim jihadis in Syria doing when they are not fighting against Bashar Assad's army?

According to reports in a number of Arab media outlets, the jihadis are importing Muslim girls to satisfy their sexual needs.

The sexual exploitation of girls was revealed after several Tunisian families reported that their teenage daughters had gone missing in recent months.

It later transpired that the girls had been dispatched to serve to Syria on "jihad marriages." In other words, the girls had been sent to Syria to satisfy the sexual needs of the anti-Assad jihadis.

Notice how nobody in the mainstream media cares to report on the fact that our terrorist enemies aren't only interested in killing Jews and Americans, but that they also enjoy kidnapping and raping girls - even other Muslims.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. These are uncivilized barbarians. We should be destroying them, not arming and negotiating with them.

Sultan Knish: The Bad Good

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Sultan Knish peeks beneath the covers and points out what all this nonsense about brand new "civil rights" is really about.

The only governing legal mandate is preventing oppression and that means government arbitrators deciding who is screaming, "Help, help, I'm being repressed!" the loudest and with the most sincerity.

A system in which the authorities grant rights based on who can best make the case to them that their rights have been taken away is a bad idea. It's an especially bad idea in a system like ours which is rapidly sliding in a direction in which the authorities are the sole arbiters of who should have any rights at all. If your oppressed status depends on your oppressors determining whether you are truly oppressed, then the only people who will have rights are those people whose rights the oppressors have not taken away by certifying them as oppressed.

It would be a dreadful simplification to call this lunatic state of affairs Orwellian or even Machiavellian. It makes even Kafka's worlds seem positively stodgy by comparison. It is a trial where the only people to be found not guilty are those who already been convicted. It's a system that favors the people who claim to be dispossessed by the system. It is an absurd self-negation that exists as a mathematical impossibility and a living satire.

Read the rest here...

Friday, March 29, 2013

National Review: Why Not Separate Marriage and State?

It would appear that at least a few people in the public spotlight are now considering a position that I discussed back in 2006 and that my father was talking about for several years prior to that.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Heritage Foundation: Cyprus Bank Raid: The Decaying Eurozone Is Rotting the European Union

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In case you've been living under a rock this past week and haven't been paying attention to the criminal government actions the EU is taking against the people of Cypress, please note this article and this one.

Cypress's economy has collapsed to the point where they want the EU to bail them out. As a part of this bailout deal, the Cypriot President agreed to an EU bailout (without Parliamentary approval) which will confiscate ('scuze me, tax) all bank deposits over €100,000 at 30-40%! Furthermore, new laws are in place prohibiting any significant withdrawals, check cashing and transport of significant amounts of cash from the country. So you can't (legally) avoid having 40% of your property stolen by a government that has overnight turned into a Stallinist tyranny.

Atlas Shrugs: The Whole Picture

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h/t Atlas Shrugs:

This picture will NEVER appear in the press.

Please show me another country (even the US) where a protester can get that far in the face of a soldier without a violent response. And show me another location where, if the solder responds in any way at all, the press will accuse him of brutality and oppression. I don't think even London palace guards would stoically accept such provocation.

Hypercritical: The Case for a True Mac Pro Successor

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h/t Daring Fireball

John Siracusa very adeptly makes the case for why Apple needs the Mac Pro product and must come out with a new model, even if the numbers don't show it to be very profitable.

The quick summary is that any technology company needs a flagship product that shows off the best, fastest and most powerful their engineers are capable of building. Even if it ends up expensive and a low-seller, it produces technologies that ultimately trickle down to the mass-market products, and it pulls through sales for the less expensive models.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Daily WTF: Accounting for Development

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Ah, the joys of working for a company that cares more about managing internal budgets and moving imaginary money around than about actually serving its customers. Sadly, this is probably true for all companies with more than one employee, and I'm not even so sure about that one...

Karen glared across her desk at Tom. "Did you install Visual Studio on your computer?"

"Yes," Tom replied, unsure why she radiated waves of fury at him.

"And did you request access to an Oracle instance for an application?"

"Um… yes?"

"Why would you do that?"

Read on...

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

When government gets desperate, it resorts to outright theft

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As you may be aware, yesterday, the government of Cypress agreed to a Eurozone bailout that would effectively steal money from everybody with money in a Cypress bank regardless of amount or citizenship. Oh sure, they are calling it a tax on holdings, but that's just the politically-correct equivalent of sticking a gun to your head and demanding you hand over your money. For the largest accounts (like those used by some wealthy Russians), this "tax" will steal 15% of the account's balance. Smaller accounts will lost 3%.

It doesn't take a financial genius to realize that a few taxes like this will leave everybody destitute. Not even the government will come out ahead, because they'll just spend all the money on the same garbage that put them in this unsustainable debt spiral to begin with.

Needless to say, this decision caused ATMs nationwide to quickly be drained of all cash. If they hadn't made the announcement on a bank holiday, I'm sure there would have been runs large enough to make them all go out of business and really tank the local economy.

Fortunately, the Cypress Parliament told the EU to get bent and refused to accept the terms of this bailout.

Don Melton: Regarding fake projects and loyalty tests

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Don Melton: Regarding fake projects and loyalty tests

Don Melton writes, from first hand experience about the stupid rumor about Apple assigning engineers to fake projects in order to test their loyalty. Needless to say, the idea is stupid for many reasons:

... That’s not even duplicated effort. That’s completely superfluous work. When you have a focus on efficiency like Apple, why would you waste time and resources doing that?

Apple is also known for having very high standards when it comes to hiring. And it’s clear that those candidates who make it through the interview process, are offered a job, and finally accept employment — well, those folks really want to be at Apple.

It’s also common knowledge that Apple keeps what they’re working on a secret until it’s unveiled to the public. There are very explicit rules for employees ...

... Now, if Apple is going to screen candidates so thoroughly and then explain the rules to them so carefully after they’re hired, what is the point of an additional loyalty test?

None. It’s a stupid idea. Not only stupid, it’s insulting to the person you just hired. And basically an excellent way to demotivate the person you invested so much time in finding.

Although it's probably a complete waste of time trying to determine the origin of crazy myths like this, I think I can see where this one might have gotten started.

Apple is well known for having a lot of secret R&D projects. These projects may stretch on for years before they become products, or they may be canceled without ever becoming a product. For example, R&D for the iPad began 8 years before it shipped. And work on an Intel version of Mac OS X began in 2000 even though it wasn't announced until 2005.

So what do you think happens when an engineer is assigned to some such early-phase R&D project, works on it for a few years, and then leaves the company and doesn't see any products related to his work several years after that? He assumes he must have been working on a fake project - after all, any other company would make a point of shipping something after years of development work. No company would sit on great technology for a decade without shipping a product, right? Well, maybe no other company would, but Apple has, and they have done so many times.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Heritage Foundation: Obamacare: Projected Premium Increases by State

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To my friends and relatives in Virginia, our health insurance premiums are expected to go up by 75-85% as a result of Obamacare. Folks in Maryland and NJ will see a large (but not quite as large) a spike (34-39% and 39%, respectively) because they are already paying huge premiums as a result of state-mandated insurance laws.

No, this is not some scare tactic from a random pundit. These figures come straight from an official government report from the House of Representatives.

And there's nothing you can do about it. The people of the United States voted for a socialist. Now we've all got to do what he says and pay what he tells you to pay.

Krebs on Security: The World Has No Room For Cowards

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And you thought you had problems. Write an article that pisses off the wrong criminal and they'll forge a 911 call that looks like it came from your phone. You'll have the unmatched pleasure of trying to explain yourself to a police SWAT team while handcuffed with guns pointed at your head.

Fortunately for Mr. Krebs, he got a threat about this several months ago and informed law enforcement that this might happen, so the situation was resolved with a few phone calls. The next person they do this to might not get a warning.

I thought it was bad that I was put on someone's list for complaining about spam in a public forum, but this takes the cake.

Now the real question is: will the FBI decide to investigate this or will it all get swept under the rug? In any sane world, a coordinated attack like this should produce a swift and strong response against the guilty party. But the world is anything but sane.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Wikipedia: History of the Jews in Ireland

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In honor of St. Patrick's day, I thought it might be interesting to share the following bit of history:

History of the Jews in Ireland
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The history of the Jews in Ireland extends back nearly a thousand years. Although the Jewish community has always been small in numbers (always less than 4,000 by religion since at least 1891), it is well established and has generally been well-accepted into Irish life. Jews in Ireland have historically enjoyed a relative tolerance that was largely absent elsewhere in Europe.

Friday, March 15, 2013

AP: Worker who set fire to sub sentenced to 17 years

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PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A shipyard worker who set fire to rags aboard a nuclear submarine because he wanted to go home was sentenced to a little more than 17 years in federal prison Friday for the blaze that transformed the vessel into a fiery furnace, injured seven people and caused about $450 million in damage.

IMO, he got off easy. I'd give him more time, at hard labor, and I'd garnish his salary for the rest of his life to pay for the damage. (Yes, I know nobody can ever make enough to pay $450M, but he can at least compensate the crew for their destroyed personal property.)

And look at his face. He's got crazy eyes. I'll bet he's been trouble since he was old enough to walk.

Sultan Knish: Shadow of the Gun

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Sultan Knish: Shadow of the Gun

Once again, Sultan Knish tells the real story that nobody wants to talk about.

Every day another one of the stories comes in. A teacher panicked by a plastic gun, an army man on a cupcake, a t-shirt, a pop tart chewed into the shape of a gun or a finger gun hits the panic button. Supensions and lectures quickly follow as the latest threat to the gun-free zone, usually in the form of a little boy, is tackled to the ground and lectured to within an inch of his life.

Tellingly these incidents rarely take place in the inner city schools where teenage gang members walk through metal detectors at the start of the day. The safety officers in those schools, big weary men with eyes that look everywhere at once, don’t waste their time on toys. Not unless those toys are full-size, painted black and filed down to look like real guns.

It’s usually the schools where a shooting is wholly unlikely; where gun violence is not a daily reality, but an unlikely convergence of horror, that institutional vigilance hits an irrational peak as every school imagines that it could be the next Columbine or the next Sandy Hook.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Google Blog: A second spring of cleaning

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Google Blog: A second spring of cleaning

... We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites. While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader. Users and developers interested in RSS alternatives can export their data, including their subscriptions, with Google Takeout over the course of the next four months.

Boston drivers to their cars: Shut up and drive

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Boston drivers to their cars: Shut up and drive - -

Yep. Interactive things like GPS is very nice when it works, but when it doesn't it's worse than nothing.

Various GPS apps for iOS and Android have all made me so angry that I no longer use any of them, and I'm looking forwarding to ditching my smartphone altogether, when I get up to the next renewal point in my contract.

I'm so fed up with half-assed technology that I just want to be rid of all of it. Let me go back to the way I was living in the 80's, where equipment was dumb, but usually worked and was easy to fix the rest of the time. Today, manufacturers ship stuff without testing, and when you complain, they treat you as if you are the problem. And then they expect you to pay big bucks for the next version, which will be even more broken than before.

I like my electronic toys, but I no longer want to have to rely on any of them in my life. They're just too unreliable to be used as anything other than toys.

Beetle Bailey for 3/14/2013

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Sort of remind me of myself, but I've only has personal experience with cat and dogs. I don't want to try getting cuddly with a bear or a snake.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Google Glass feature no one is talking about — Creative Good

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The Google Glass feature no one is talking about — Creative Good

Google Glass might change your life, but not in the way you think.

... lifebits, the ability to record video of the people, places, and events around you, at all times. ...

The key experiential question of Google Glass isn’t what it’s like to wear them, it’s what it’s like to be around someone else who’s wearing them. ... you don’t know if they’re taking a video of you.

Now pretend you don’t know a single person who wears Google Glass… and take a walk outside. Anywhere you go in public – any store, any sidewalk, any bus or subway – you’re liable to be recorded: audio and video. Fifty people on the bus might be Glassless, but if a single person wearing Glass gets on, you – and all 49 other passengers – could be recorded. Not just for a temporary throwaway video buffer, like a security camera, but recorded, stored permanently, and shared to the world. ...

... the video all streams into Google’s own cloud of servers. Now add in facial recognition and the identity database that Google is building within Google Plus ... Finally, consider the speech-to-text software that Google already employs, both in its servers and on the Glass devices themselves. Any audio in a video could, technically speaking, be converted to text, tagged to the individual who spoke it, and made fully searchable within Google’s search index. ...

Let’s return to the bus ride. It’s not a stretch to imagine that you could immediately be identified by that Google Glass user who gets on the bus and turns the camera toward you. Anything you say within earshot could be recorded, associated with the text, and tagged to your online identity. And stored in Google’s search index. Permanently.

Read the whole article for all the rest. Suffice it to say that Glass has the potential to completely eliminate any concept of privacy. And all done without any government intervention, and as a result of individuals voluntarily paying lots of money for the privilege.

Maybe it won't happen, but I would never bet against people being catastrophically stupid simply because someone says it's "cool".

Mind you, I happen to like the idea of being able to record everything you see and hear, so you can later cut/paste excerpts to keep for posterity. It means you won't miss a moment simply because it took too long to get your camera. But for me, I want those videos to stay in my possession. I want to be the one who decides what gets shared with the world and I certainly don't want some faceless corporation storing and cross-referencing my entire life for everybody else in the world to go picking through.

Daring Fireball: Open and Shut

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Daring Fireball thoroughly demolishes a brain-dead essay from a recent issue of The New Yorker.

In the original article, Tim Wu (the author) tries to claim that "openness" (whatever that means) is essential to success. Unless you happen to be Steve Jobs - then you can violate all the rules and be more successful than anyone else. But the rest of the world had better not try to keep any secrets or impose any restrictions on their products.

The DF article shows, on a point-by-point basis, how Wu's article makes no sense, how his examples distort facts and do not present reality, and how his conclusions are not supported even by his own fabricated evidence. The real truth is that great products, released in a timely manner, are what determines success. Being open or closed is pretty much irrelevant. And having a genius in a position of power is beneficial regardless of your corporate culture.

Avoiding TV...

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I think I can agree with this sentiment. I don't draw a webcomic, but I definitely get less upset when I don't listen to the news.

Of course, our elected officials are still doing everything in their power to systematically dismantle the country as fast as possible, whether or not I pay attention....

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Messages From the Future: The Fate of Google Glass

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Messages From the Future: The Fate of Google Glass

Ow. What a painful analysis. But it's probably going to be correct. Assuming anybody actually buys Google Glass in the first place, of course.

FOSS Patents: UK judge who issued extreme ruling for Samsung against Apple hired by... Samsung!

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FOSS Patents: UK judge who issued extreme ruling for Samsung against Apple hired by... Samsung!

I call shenanigans!

... For someone so concerned with "integrity" it is utterly unusual to issue a high-profile and extreme ruling in favor of a particular party (Samsung in this case) only to be hired as an expert by that same party in another dispute. But that's what has happened here, and I wonder how certain people in Cupertino feel about it. ...

AP: China may end long-hated labor re-education camps

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China may end long-hated labor re-education camps

BEIJING (AP) — All it took was a handwritten note from police to send Zhao Meifu to a labor camp for a year in China's arid northwest.

The farmer had been seeking redress for decades over a land grab by village officials. Tired of her complaints, police saw the labor camp as a quick way to get rid of her. "They did not like my mother, so they locked her up," Zhao's son, Guo Dajun, said in a recent interview.

It's great that such atrocities may finally come to an end in China, but it is disgusting that the world has turned a blind eye to these political prisons for the past 60 years.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Rationalist Judaism: The Locusts Are Coming! Yum!

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Rationalist Judaism: The Locusts Are Coming! Yum!

I love the irony of Egypt being hit by a plague of locusts just a few weeks before Pesach, in the year when their government was taken over by terrorists.

We've already seen the blood.  When will the frogs, vermin, boils, hail, etc. hit them?

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

XKCD What-If?: Hair Dryer

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What would happen if you'd seal a hair dryer in a box and leave it turned on perpetually? And what if you increased the power by a few orders of magnitude?

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Mad at the internet (as usual) and looking for hosting

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I've decided that social media is not trustworthy. I've been forming this opinion for quite some time and have decided that I no longer want to be a part of it.

As such, I have suspended my accounts at Facebook, Twitter and LiveJournal. I assume they'll auto-delete after a while.

For now, I'll be keeping this blog, in case I see stuff I want to share with the world.

Unfortunately, Google is far too entrenched in my life for me to turn it off at this time. That's going to require a bit more planning.

When I get the time (yeah, I know, I know), I plan on purchasing my own hosting account somewhere where I can host my own web site (including blog and photo pages) and mailboxes. Once that's in place, I will be able to get out from under Google as well.

If you have experience with low-cost hosting companies and have some recommendations, I'd love to hear them. (But note that I'll ignore any message that doesn't come from someone I know - I'm not going to accidentally give money to a spammer!)

I am not interested in any kind of "free" or ad-sponsored hosting service. Those are no better than Google and all the rest. They can't be trusted with personal information. As many have said before, if you're not paying for the service, then you are not the customer, you are the product. Well I'm sick and tired of being everybody else's product.