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15 Jan 22:59

Charles Murray: Corruption is baked into an unstoppable political system where government sells an endless array of valuable favors to the private sector - Publications – AEI

by Mark Perry

AEI
Charles Murray: Corruption is baked into an unstoppable political system where government sells an endless array of valuable favors to the private sector

Last Monday (January 8), AEI scholar, political scientist, author, and libertarian Charles Murray celebrated his 75th birthday and his transition to scholar emeritus status at AEI. To mark the occasion, Dr. Murray delivered a lecture “Right Questions and Wrong Answers” that offered a retrospective of his career. You can watch Charles Murray’s lecture above and a transcript is available here. At about the 46:00 mark in the video, Charles Murray talks about how while researching his 2015 book By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission he realized that the “legal system was far worse” than he had imagined. “The levels of complexity, subjectivity, prosecutorial discretion was shocking.” Here’s more:

We have a terrible problem of de facto lawlessness. The regulatory state is far worse than I had realized. It is indeed, an extralegal state within the state that in effect passes its own laws, enforces them with its own police, and then acts as jury, judge and appeals court all completely within the powers given to it by Congress.

The level of corruption in Washington is far worse than I thought, but qualitatively and quantitatively, more appalling than the situation prior to the mid-1970s. Moreover, in the years after Republicans won Congress in 1994, I had to accept that the hypocrisy and corruption among Republicans once they controlled Congress matched the worst that the Democrats had done during their decades    of control.

Worst of all, I had to recognize that the underlying dynamics of the corruption were systemic. More principled congressional leaders weren’t going to fix them. I actually think we’ve had some quite principled leaders from time to time and they’ve made no progress whatsoever. The corruption is baked into a system in which the government has an endless array of valuable favors to sell to the private sector. That market is vibrant and vital and unstoppable.

Best of luck to Charles Murray as he pursues the next chapter of his life as “scholar emeritus” at AEI!

Charles Murray: Corruption is baked into an unstoppable political system where government sells an endless array of valuable favors to the private sector
Mark Perry

15 Jan 21:40

CALIFORNIA MAN IS GIVING FLORIDA MAN A SERIOUS RUN FOR HIS MONEY: Drugged driver crashes car into se…

by Ed Driscoll

CALIFORNIA MAN IS GIVING FLORIDA MAN A SERIOUS RUN FOR HIS MONEY: Drugged driver crashes car into second story of California building, officials say.

That’s pretty impressive air for a Nissan Altima.

Authorities say the Nissan Altima hit a center divider early Sunday, soared into the air and plowed into the top floor of the two-story structure. (Capt. Stephen Horner /Orange County Fire Authority via AP.)

08 Jan 15:57

TINNITUS NEWS: Science has a solution for that constant ringing in your ear. “The condition doesn’…

by Glenn Reynolds

TINNITUS NEWS: Science has a solution for that constant ringing in your ear. “The condition doesn’t have a cure yet, but those suffering from it might not have to endure all the phantom ringing, clicking and hissing for life, thanks to a device developed by researchers from the University of Michigan. Their creation treats tinnitus by using precisely timed sounds and weak electrical pulses designed to persuade damaged nerves in the region of the brainstem called dorsal cochlear nucleus into working correctly again.”

05 Jan 19:08

FROM KEN WHITE: Lawsplainer: Attorney General Sessions’ Threatened Action on Marijuana.. “Under the…

by Glenn Reynolds

FROM KEN WHITE: Lawsplainer: Attorney General Sessions’ Threatened Action on Marijuana.. “Under the Supremacy Clause to the United States Constitution, the states can’t immunize people from federal prosecution — they can make things legal under state law, but can’t make things legal under federal law.”

You know who changes federal laws? Congress, not the Executive.

05 Jan 19:02

OUTSOURCING CENSORSHIP: Ve have vays of making you not talk! So not only is the German government…

by Stephen Green

OUTSOURCING CENSORSHIP: Ve have vays of making you not talk!

So not only is the German government forcing social media companies to block their political opponents under the guise of counteracting online “hate speech”, the people doing the blocking are too dim to spot a parody account. How the Germans can’t see that such a law, in the hands of the wrong party, could be devastating is a mystery. I can only conclude such occurrences have no precedent in their country from which they could draw obvious lessons.

Titanic said on Wednesday its Twitter account had been blocked over the message, which it assumed was a result of a law that came into full force on Jan. 1 that can impose fines of up to 50 million euros ($60 million) on social media sites that fail to remove hate speech promptly.

A lot of people will rightly ask who defines hate speech. What they should be asking is how easy is it to change that definition.

Elasticity in the law — the ability to shut down anybody at will — is the whole point.

28 Dec 22:59

POWER, UNLIMITED POWER: Game changing nuclear molten salt reactor will be cheaper than natural gas. …

by Stephen Green

POWER, UNLIMITED POWER: Game changing nuclear molten salt reactor will be cheaper than natural gas.

Natural gas and coal remain the most cost-competitive sources of energy for industrial heat and electric power provision, with natural gas becoming increasingly important. Fossil-fuel dominance will continue as long as there is no alternative dispatchable, reliable, versatile energy source that is more cost-competitive. In North America, Natural Gas Combined Cycle (NGCC) power generation is now the preferred new-build power plant because of its low costs, and because of currently low North American natural gas prices, a product of fracking innovations.

IMSR® power plants are far simpler to build and operate than conventional nuclear power plants. They cost less than USD $1 billion, can be built within 4 years with much lower project risk, and can be financed by ordinary means.

PLUS:

ThorCon is designed to bring shipyard quality and productivity to fission power. But ThorCon’s structure is far simpler and much more repetitive than a ship’s. The silo hall employs concrete-filled, steel plate, sandwich walls. This results in a strong, air-tight, ductile building. A 1 GWe ThorCon requires about 18,000 tons of steel for the fission island, all simple flat plate. A properly implemented panel line will be able to produce these blocks using less than 2 man-hours per ton of steel.

Similarly, all the other components will be manufactured on an assembly line and delivered to the site as fully outfitted and pre-tested blocks. Each power module will require a total of 31 blocks. Upon arrival at the site, the blocks will be dropped into place and the wall and roof blocks welded together using the automatic hull welding machines the yards have developed for this purpose. The wall cells will then be filled with concrete. Almost no form work is required.

To make the system work we must have big blocks — blocks that are far larger than can be transported by truck or rail. ThorCon blocks are up to 23 meters wide and 40 meters long. Such blocks can be barged well up most major rivers, including the St. Lawrence and into the Great Lakes.

A 1 GWe ThorCon is so small that the fission island almost fits into two center tanks of the Hellespont Metropolis, and requires one fourth as much steel. This steel requirement is roughly equivalent to a medium size, Suezmax tanker.

The Suezmax can move herself at 15 knots, survive a hurricane, and discharge her cargo in about a day. A good shipyard can profitably build a Suezmax for 60 million dollars.

A big shipyard can turn out 100 of these ships a year. It could easily manufacture 100 one GWe ThorCons per year.

Faster, please.

21 Dec 19:05

GOOD: Dem Vows to Shut Down Senate Over Any Bill Requiring Companies Give ‘Back Door’ Access to Encr…

by Stephen Green
21 Dec 19:02

LATE-STAGE SOCIALISM: Beleaguered Maduro regime kills guilty and innocent alike in poor barrios, oft…

by Stephen Green

LATE-STAGE SOCIALISM: Beleaguered Maduro regime kills guilty and innocent alike in poor barrios, often with shots to the heart.

The young men had already been tortured at an army base when soldiers piled them into two jeeps and transported them to a wooded area just outside the Venezuelan capital.

Stumbling in the dark, with T-shirts pulled over their faces and hands tied behind their backs, they were steered to an open pit. Soldiers then used machetes to deliver blow after blow to the base of their necks. Most suffered gaping wounds that killed them before they hit the ground.

Others, bleeding profusely but still alive, crumpled into the shallow grave as their killers piled dirt over their bodies to hide the crime.

“We think they were alive a good while as they died from asphyxia,” said Zair Mundaray, a veteran prosecutor who led the exhumation and investigation that pieced together how the killings unfolded. “It had to be a terrible thing.”

For Mr. Mundaray and his team of investigators, the massacre in this area east of Caracas in October 2016 was the most bloodthirsty of killings by security forces in a country riven by unspeakable violence.

Prosecutors, criminologists and human-rights groups say it was only one of many recurring and escalating lethal attacks carried out by police or soldiers.

The full scope of the alleged atrocities is beginning to surface publicly now.

This one is behind the WSJ paywall, but I found it well worth my money.

18 Dec 02:40

“FBI appears to have investigated – and considered prosecuting – FOIA requesters”: Investigative rep…

by Charles Glasser

FBI appears to have investigated – and considered prosecuting – FOIA requesters“: Investigative reporting blog and FOIA tool provider Muckrock shows that as far back as 2016, the FBI refused to produce documents that had the names of deceased FBI staff (nullifying any privacy concerns), but consistently failed to redact personal information about the requesters — a clear violation of privacy:

“Despite redacting the names and email addresses of the public servants handling the case, the FBI released not only the author’s name and address in the file (technically improper since there was no waiver, albeit understandable) but the name, email address and home address of another requester who also used the script to file requests. Their name along with their email and physical addresses were left unredacted not once, not twice, not thrice – but seven times, not including the email headers, several of which also showed their name and email address.”

Other emails show that the FBI’s Obama-era FOIA office consulted a number of people from the Criminal Justice Information Services division for the purpose of singling out “suspicious” FOIA requests for possible prosecution targeting.

I’d love to know what they considered a “suspicious” FOIA request.

15 Dec 18:58

There Will Be No Viking Longboats Cruising the Mississippi, Thanks to Hard-Headed U.S. Protectionism

by Scott Shackford

Viking Cruises longboatThere are 2,000 ports across the world where cruise ships dock for passengers to embark on fabulous getaways. Only 30 of them are in North America.

The market won't likely be calling for more docks in the United States anytime soon. Switzerland-based Viking Cruises, which wanted to build and send small cruise ships up the Mississippi River, leaving new tourism dollars for river towns in its wake, is backing off its plan.

Viking announced a couple of years ago a plan to bring its luxe longboats to the Mississippi River, but last week the city manager from one those little communities got word Viking had terminated its plans, WQAD in the Quad Cities reports. The cruise ships Viking had been wanting to build and operate would have ended up costing double what they had planned, according to the report.

"As the details were being refined, it became the economics did not meet Viking's goals," a company statement read.

No new tourists. No new tourist revenue. No new tourism jobs.

Our own federal laws are to blame. More specifically, President Grover Cleveland's Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA). The 1886 law requires that in order to ferry passengers between ports in the United States, the ship must have been built in the United States and be owned and operated by Americans.

If the absurd contours of this law sound suspiciously familiar, it's because these restrictions are just like the Jones Act, the terrible protectionist law that uses similar rules and ultimately drives up the costs of shipping goods to U.S. islands and territories. The law received a lot of attention and criticism in the fall because it's going to make it much more expensive for Puerto Rico to recover from Hurricane Maria.

The Jones Act is for shipping. The PVSA is for ferrying passengers and for cruises. The intention of the PVSA was obviously to protect and foster domestic shipbuilding and shelter them from foreign competition.

Ships built and owned by foreign companies can depart and return from the same U.S. port, and they can go to distant foreign ports (outside of North America) and return back to a port in a different city. They cannot travel from port to port visiting locations within the United States. There are a very small number of exceptions, like Alaska.

As the decades sailed past, the law has ended up punishing only us. America doesn't make cruise ships anymore. An attempt to do so in 2001 (subsidized by the government, no less) failed miserably. Because cruise companies are not logistically able to meet the requirements of the PVSA, America doesn't really have a domestic cruise industry. (Clarification: To be clear, there are indeed domestic river cruise companies. But the market is not nearly as robust as it could be.)

The law doesn't protect American jobs from foreigners; it has prevented new jobs from being created in the United States. Victoria and Todd Buchholz (Todd is a former economic policy director under President George W. Bush) noted the consequences of this terrible law in a Los Angeles Times op-ed in August:

Without the PVSA, dozens more cruises would depart daily from U.S. cities such as New York and Seattle, and the hundreds of millions of dollars generated from those voyages would stay within the U.S. economy, providing thousands of portside jobs — for longshoremen loading cargo, bellhops, tour guides, taxi drivers and local farmers supplying fruits and vegetables for those all-you-can-eat buffets. And of course, each stop would generate revenue for U.S. cities in port fees as well as local and state taxes.

Who does the PVSA protect? Not Americans. Instead, Canada and Mexico should send thanks to that Congress of 1886, "attn. Grover Cleveland." The cruise docks of San Diego sit vacant 90% of the year. Meanwhile, 80 miles south, Ensenada receives more than three times as many passengers as San Diego, and many more than New York, New Orleans and Boston. Vancouver hosts three times as many sailings as Seattle. Since cruising generates an estimated $3.2 billion for Canada's ports, it's no surprise that the Canadian government lobbies to preserve the PVSA.

The existence of the PVSA is particularly absurd because about half of all cruise ship passengers are American. No other country comes close. We are net exporters of cruisers. American tourists spend money overseas and the PVSA makes it impossible to reduce our "cruise tourism deficit."

We don't even know what this protectionism is costing us. Would we see a dramatic increase in foreign tourism to cities people would never have chosen as destinations, but would be happy to visit along the way on a cruise?

We almost had a chance to find out. But for now, absurdly obsolete American protectionism wins and Americans lose.

This post has been updated to clarify that there is a modest domestic cruise market.

15 Dec 14:29

SARA CARTER: Who’s spying on who? FBI’s use of NSA foreign surveillance program needs to be inv…

by Glenn Reynolds

SARA CARTER: Who’s spying on who? FBI’s use of NSA foreign surveillance program needs to be investigated, say whistleblowers.

A controversial NSA surveillance program used to monitor foreigners was also being used by the FBI as ‘backdoor’ to gain warrantless access to American communications, according to numerous former U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials with knowledge of the program.

The whistleblowers, who recently disclosed the program’s process to Congressional oversight committees, say concern over the warrantless surveillance mounted when it was disclosed earlier this year that Obama officials had accessed and unmasked communications of members of President Trump’s 2016 campaign, allegedly without clear justification.

The process, known as ‘reverse targeting,’ occurs when intelligence and law enforcement officials use a foreign person as a legal pretense for their intended target, an American citizen, the officials stated. The program, as it exists, failed to prevent terror attacks and in many cases made incorrect connections between a foreign target and an innocent American, they stated.

The whistleblowers said the program established after the September 11, 2001, attacks has not been successful in preventing terror threats, but instead infringes on privacy rights and could easily be abused for political purposes. Those concerns were also voiced to then FBI Director James Comey in 2014, and alternative options for the program were discussed, a source with knowledge said. And now, those intelligence officials want lawmakers to conduct extensive investigations into the program.

“The program can be misused by anyone with access to it,” said a former Intelligence official, with knowledge of the program. “There needs to be an extensive investigation of all the Americans connected to President Trump and the campaign who were unmasked in connection with the 2016 election.”

FBI officials declined to comment for this story.

There’s been a lot of no-commenting lately. But this fits in with a lot of stuff we’ve been hearing about the use of intelligence and law enforcement agencies for political espionage.

06 Dec 13:05

ALL YOUR CODE ARE BELONG TO US: US Claims It Doesn’t Need a Court Order to Ask Tech Companies to Bui…

by Stephen Green

ALL YOUR CODE ARE BELONG TO US: US Claims It Doesn’t Need a Court Order to Ask Tech Companies to Build Encryption Backdoors.

According to the documents, intelligence officials told members of the Senate Intelligence Committee that there’s no need for them to approach courts before requesting a tech company help willfully—though they can always resort to obtaining a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order if the company refuses. The documents show officials testified they had never needed to obtain such an FISC order, though they declined to tell the committee whether they had “ever asked a company to add an encryption backdoor,” per ZDNet. Other reporting has suggested the FISC has the power to authorize government personnel to compel such technical assistance without even notifying the FISC of what exactly is required.

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act gives authorities additional powers to compel service providers to build backdoors into their products.

Nice product you have there. Be a shame if anything were to happen to it.

05 Dec 21:21

SHE’S STILL GOT IT: Voyager 1 just fired up some thrusters for the first time in 37 years. Voyage…

by Stephen Green

SHE’S STILL GOT IT: Voyager 1 just fired up some thrusters for the first time in 37 years.

Voyager 1 is an important vessel. It’s the fastest spacecraft we’ve got, traveling at around 11 miles per second. It’s also the farthest. Its twin, Voyager 2, is nearly 11 billion miles away from the Sun, pushing through the last layer of our host star’s influence on the space around our system. But Voyager 1 is over 13 billion miles away from the Sun, and has the incredible distinction of being the first human-made object to enter interstellar space.

Yet even from that great distance, the probe still sends messages back to Earth. That’s where the thrusters come in. For decades, a set of thrusters has served to set out tiny, split-second pulses to keep the craft’s antenna pointed toward us. Now those thrusters are getting old, and it’s taking more effort to make Voyager 1 move. The solution? See if the TCM thrusters—which on the one hand haven’t been worn out by constant use over the last few decades, but on the other hand haven’t even been turned on — could take on some of the legwork.

“The Voyager flight team dug up decades-old data and examined the software that was coded in an outdated assembler language, to make sure we could safely test the thrusters,” Chris Jones, chief engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, said in a statement.

It takes 19 hours and 35 minutes for a signal from Voyager 1 to bounce back to Earth, but after a day of waiting the scientists confirmed that the hardware had fired right up.

Incredible.

05 Dec 14:28

Elephant economics: To save elephants, we should promote commercial use and encourage ivory markets and trophy hunting - Publications – AEI

by Mark Perry

AEI
Elephant economics: To save elephants, we should promote commercial use and encourage ivory markets and trophy hunting

The video above — “Africans Demand Trade in Ivory Products” — was produced by the Ivory Education Institute, a nonprofit public benefit association dedicated to enhancing understanding of the historic, practical and cultural importance of ivory. Here’s a key excerpt on the economics of poaching elephants and banning ivory trade:

Outsiders insist that a ban on ivory trade will stop elephant poaching. It won’t. Poaching will end when demand is met through an open controlled ivory market. Bans only create scarcity. Scarcity increases prices and increased prices encourage poaching. To argue otherwise as outsiders do, defies the laws of economics.

What is the Ivory Education Institute’s position on the US ban on importing elephant trophies? Its website features an article (“Trump’s decision on trophies from Zimbabwe elephant hunts bad for elephant conservation“) written by Emmanuel Koro, a Johannesburg-based international award-winning environmental journalist who has extensively covered conservation and development issues in African countries, here’s an excerpt:

United States President Donald Trump has delayed a rare and early Christmas gift that he recently presented to the Zambian and Zimbabwean people. By putting a halt on the lifting of the US ban on importing elephant trophies from the two countries into the US he has muddied the US policy waters.

The US is the world’s biggest hunting market and poor rural villagers in Zambia and Zimbabwe see their lives being significantly improved through money that the US hunters pay to hunt elephants. Hunting elephants is legal under strict permit systems in several African countries, and the revenue is crucial for supporting conservation efforts. The large fees that trophy hunters pay to be allowed to hunt elephants, lions and leopards can be a significant source of revenue. In Zimbabwe, according to the Safari Operators’ Association, the annual revenue from trophy hunting for this year could be as much as $130 million, mainly from the US market.

The southern African countries, including Zambia and Zimbabwe, practice wise and sustainable use of wildlife products such as elephant hunting trophies, ivory and rhino horn trade, to bring wildlife into balance with their habitats. Therefore, the US Department of Interior’s decision to suspend the US ban on elephant trophies from the two countries into the US was a breath of fresh air and good news for elephant conservation. Sadly, it only took a tweet from President Trump saying the ban would remain, “until such time as I review all conservation facts.” That review if done responsibly as we anticipate can only result in the reinstatement of his decision to allow imports of elephant hunting trophies into the USA because the motivating facts are strong, scientific and tested.

Bottom Line: As counter-intuitive as it may seem, if you are really serious about saving African elephants and stopping poaching, you have to support the commercial use of elephants, including trophy hunting and trading in ivory. Here’s the bumper sticker version — “Save the elephants, buy lots of ivory.” That’s what the Africans in the video above would tell you, and in fact they are demanding trade in ivory products!

Elephant economics: To save elephants, we should promote commercial use and encourage ivory markets and trophy hunting
Mark Perry

04 Dec 19:25

THOMAS FRIEDMAN HARDEST HIT: Chinese bike share graveyard a monument to industry’s ‘arrogance.’ Cli…

by Ed Driscoll

THOMAS FRIEDMAN HARDEST HIT: Chinese bike share graveyard a monument to industry’s ‘arrogance.’
Click over if only for the photo atop the article. The size of the mountain of dead bicycles is incredible.

(Found via Virginia Postrel.)

30 Nov 14:57

THIS IS A DISGRACE: Virginia mother could face prison after trying to record bullies of 9-year-old …

by Glenn Reynolds

THIS IS A DISGRACE: Virginia mother could face prison after trying to record bullies of 9-year-old girl.

A Virginia woman is facing felony charges after she put a digital audio recorder into her 9-year-old’s backpack in an effort to catch what she said were her daughter’s bullies.

Sarah Sims could spend up to five years in prison. She was charged this month with using an electronic device to intercept oral communication, a felony, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a misdemeanor.

Ms. Sims, whose daughter attends Ocean View Elementary School in Norfolk, told a local NBC affiliate that she placed a recording device in her fourth-grade daughter’s backpack after school officials failed to stop other students from bullying her.

School officials eventually found out about the recorder and called police, the station reported. Ms. Sims said she didn’t find out until she was charged a month later.

“I was mortified,” she said. “The next thing I know I’m a felon. Felony charges and a misdemeanor when I’m trying to look out for my kid. What do you do?”

It’s almost like sending your kid to government schools is parental malpractice.

29 Nov 19:08

ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN UPDATE: Attention, cryptozoologists. Yetis are real — except DNA analysis says t…

by Austin Bay

ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN UPDATE: Attention, cryptozoologists. Yetis are real — except DNA analysis says they’re bears. Rare Himalayan brown bears. The article is a fun read.

29 Nov 02:21

PRESIDENT TWEETS, ROME BURNS: While The President’s gratuitous snark about Elizabeth Warren dominate…

by Charles Glasser

PRESIDENT TWEETS, ROME BURNS: While The President’s gratuitous snark about Elizabeth Warren dominates the news cycle, major media seems to be missing the real news that will seriously affect them as journalists and the public at large. Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is a provision of law that allows the government to conduct mass surveillance of innocent people, including Americans. The Hill reminds readers that Congress is poised to jam through reauthorization of this mass surveillance:

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has marked up the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act, S. 2010. The bill, sponsored by Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) is actually worse than existing law. It explicitly allows the attorney general to use [electronic communications] information collected under Section 702 for domestic crimes that have nothing to do with national security and forbids judicial review of that decision.

The idea of walling off such action from judicial review ought to put a scare into anyone. Moreover:

The House version of the USA Liberty Act, for instance, has a weak warrant requirement, which would allow the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to conduct backdoor searches of electronic communications collected by the NSA for domestic, non-terrorism investigations.

The potential for abuse is endless.

 

27 Nov 20:17

WHAT EVERYONE NEEDS: Now You Can Build Your Very Own Muon Detector For Less Than $100….

by Glenn Reynolds
27 Nov 19:20

Quotation of the day on the only lens given to today’s college students (power) and how it leads to intellectual impotence…. - Publications – AEI

by Mark Perry

AEI
Quotation of the day on the only lens given to today’s college students (power) and how it leads to intellectual impotence….

… is from Jonathan Haidt’s 2017 Wriston Lecture to the Manhattan Institute on November 15 and featured in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal as its Notable and Quotable item:

Many students are given just one lens—power. Here’s your lens, kid. Look at everything through this lens. Everything is about power. Every situation is analyzed in terms of the bad people acting to preserve their power and privilege over the good people. This is not an education. This is induction into a cult. It’s a fundamentalist religion. It’s a paranoid worldview that separates people from each other and sends them down the road to alienation, anxiety and intellectual impotence. . . .

Quotation of the day on the only lens given to today’s college students (power) and how it leads to intellectual impotence….
Mark Perry

27 Nov 15:45

KELLEY PAUL: Since the attack, my husband Rand Paul hasn’t taken a single breath without pain. A…

by Glenn Reynolds

KELLEY PAUL: Since the attack, my husband Rand Paul hasn’t taken a single breath without pain.

As we walked through the airport returning from D.C., he was shivering with a 102.5 fever, and the next morning his internist diagnosed pneumonia in his damaged lung.

It is incredibly hurtful that some news outlets have victimized Rand a second time as he struggles to recover, delighting in hateful headlines like “Not A Perfect Neighbor,” and concocting theories about an “ongoing dispute,” based on nothing more than speculation from an attention-seeking person with no knowledge of anything to do with us.

The fact is, neither Rand nor I have spoken to the attacker in 10 years (since before his wife and children moved away) other than a casual wave from the car. Nobody in our family has, nor have we communicated with anyone in his family. With Rand’s travel to D.C. in the last seven years, he has rarely seen this man at all.

The only “dispute” existed solely in the attacker’s troubled mind, until, on a beautiful autumn day, he ran down the hill on our property and slammed his body into Rand’s lower back as he stood facing away, wearing noise canceling headphones to protect his ears from the lawnmower.

This was not a “scuffle,” a “fight” or an “altercation,” as many in the media falsely describe it. It was a deliberate, blindside attack. The impact left Rand with six broken ribs, three displaced, pleural effusion and now pneumonia. This has been a terrible experience; made worse by the media’s gleeful attempts to blame Rand for it, ridiculing him for everything from mowing his own lawn to composting.

This Thanksgiving weekend, instead of playing golf with his sons or enjoying our annual touch football game with family and neighbors, Rand will be in pain. But we will still be grateful for the love of our large and supportive family, and for the encouragement and prayers of hundreds of kind and thoughtful people during these last weeks.

The visible glee with which so many “mainstream” liberal outlets greeted this unprovoked attack tells you a lot. And yet these journalists wonder why so many Americans hate them.

27 Nov 15:42

HMM: What if there were another way for advertisers to reach their audience while keeping users data…

by Stephen Green

HMM: What if there were another way for advertisers to reach their audience while keeping users data anonymous and encrypted, and even rewarding them for their attention?

The good news was that the general public started becoming more aware of Facebook’s attitude towards privacy.

The bad news is that the situation is worse than it’s ever been. Advertisers need ways to reach their audience, and these “free” social media platforms are a path to do just that.

But, what if there were another way for advertisers to reach their audience while keeping users data anonymous and encrypted, and even rewarding them for their attention?

When I heard that a company was addressing the advertising and privacy issue with a new cryptocurrency, naturally it caught my attention.

Charlie Silver, a seasoned and successful entrepreneur, created Algebraix with the intention of making cryptocurrency go mainstream.

I spoke with Charlie to learn more about his company and their plans to break into the crowded advertising market.

Algebraix is an up-and-comer in the current tech scene and is looking to make waves, in what they believe, will become an entirely new field of advertising.

How the Algebraix platform works is simple. Users sign up to receive cryptocurrency that can be spent within the Algebraix blockchain network or traded for other cryptocurrencies, or converted to paper money through other online exchange services, as a reward for consuming digital media such as movie trailers and TV commercials.

While not perfect, it does seem like an improvement over the current system in which users trade every single detail of their lives in exchange for being served up ads on a “free” social network.

21 Nov 15:32

NONSENSE, PRESIDENT OBAMA ASSURED ME THERE WAS NOT EVEN A SMIDGEN OF WRONGDOING: The IRS Scandal, D…

by Glenn Reynolds

NONSENSE, PRESIDENT OBAMA ASSURED ME THERE WAS NOT EVEN A SMIDGEN OF WRONGDOING: The IRS Scandal, Day 1657: Lois Lerner Fears Retaliation If Her Tea Party Targeting Deposition Is Made Public.

17 Nov 19:11

FASTER, PLEASE: Aging Reversal tests in dogs by 2019 and then in human tests by 2022 if that works….

by Glenn Reynolds
Jts5665

Hope they work.

15 Nov 19:50

USAF FOR FAKE: Air Force Accepts Award For Combating Racist Incident That Was Totally Made Up. To…

by Ed Driscoll

USAF FOR FAKE: Air Force Accepts Award For Combating Racist Incident That Was Totally Made Up.

To the best of my knowledge, Wag the Dog wasn’t intended as a how-to guide:

Conrad ‘Connie’ Brean: Well, if Kissinger can win the Peace Prize, I wouldn’t be surprised to wake up and find out I’d won the Preakness.

Stanley Motss: Well, yes but, our guy DID bring peace.

Conrad ‘Connie’ Brean: Yeah, but there wasn’t a war.

Stanley Motss: All the greater accomplishment.

To be fair, Albania definitely had it coming to them.

(Classical allusion in headline.)

15 Nov 14:59

WASTE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN: Somebody wrote an email bot to waste scammers’ time. Introducing Re:sca…

by Stephen Green

WASTE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN: Somebody wrote an email bot to waste scammers’ time.

Introducing Re:scam – an artificially intelligent email bot made to reply to scam emails. Re:scam wastes scammers time with a never-ending series of questions and anecdotes so that scammers have less time to pursue real people.

If you think you’ve received a scam email, forward it to me@rescam.org and we’ll take it from there. We’ll even send you a summary of the conversations Re:scam has had with the scammer – sometimes they can be quite funny!

I’m in.

10 Nov 21:55

A Professor Whose Renewable Energy Claims Are Challenged Sues For Libel

by Lindsay Marchello

Whatever happened to robust, open scientific debate? Stanford University professor Mark Jacobson, whose research argues the U.S. power grid could run exclusively on renewable energy by 2050, is taking his critics to court.

Jacobson filed a $10 million libel lawsuit in September against Chris Clack, a mathematician and chief executive of Vibrant Clean Energy, and the National Academy of Sciences, after the Academy published an article by Clack and 20 co-authors criticizing the 2015 study. The co-authors are not named in the suit.

"We find that their analysis involves errors, inappropriate methods, and implausible assumptions," the Clack team wrote. "Their study does not provide credible evidence for rejecting the conclusions of previous analyses."

Reason's Ron Bailey agreed with the Clack team's conclusion that "the analysis performed [by Jacobson and his team] does not support the claim that such a system would perform at reasonable cost and provide reliable power."

Bailey's piece also points out Jacobson's study was originally published by the academy he is now suing.

Libel is a form of defamation through writing, pictures, or any other print media. In lawsuits of this kind involving public officials, actual malice or an intent to defame is required for a guilty verdict. Libel lawsuits involving private individuals require only proof of negligence.

Professors who are particularly well-known or employed by a major university are sometimes considered public figures. It is so far unclear how a D.C. Superior Court will classify Jacobson.

For the sake of scientific integrity, let's hope the court finds no merit in Jacobson's lawsuit, regardless of his classification.

David Victor, one Clack's co-authors and the co-director of the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation at University of California-San Diego, told the San Diego Union-Tribune, "It is unfortunate that Mark Jacobson has decided to pursue this legally as opposed to openly, in the scientific tradition."

Environmental Progress, a research and policy organization advocating for sustainable energy, called the lawsuit an "appalling attack on free speech and scientific inquiry."

"What Jacobson has done is unprecedented. Scientific disagreements must be decided not in court but rather through the scientific process," Michael Shellenberger, founder and president of Environmental Progress, wrote.

If Jacobson proves successful, he sets a dangerous precedent. It would have a chilling effect on future academic research and hinder scientific innovation and advancement. How can progress be made if ideas are not given rigorous, peer-reviewed scrutiny?

By taking his critics to court, Jacobson is telling the world his ideas cannot be challenged, echoing the argument for "settled science" deployed in the debate over climate change. Claiming certain ideas "settled" and therefore out of bounds from any criticism is a surefire way to feed confirmation bias.

What incentive is there to add to or challenge the evidence of a scientific theory if that idea can't be challenged? The truth is best found through open debate, not by silencing your critics with lawsuits.

10 Nov 21:49

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDUCATION APOCALYPSE: in a post titled “Bray New World,” Mark Steyn profiles Mar…

by Ed Driscoll

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDUCATION APOCALYPSE: in a post titled “Bray New World,” Mark Steyn profiles Mark Bray, the professor who recently wrote Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook, and who “passes for the intellectual wing of Antifa.” Steyn writes, “In The Chronicle of Higher Education Nell Gluckman offers a glowing paean to the man she dubs ‘The Button-Down Anarchist:’”

In fact, there’s a point Mr. Bray made in an interview that Mr. Scott often finds himself citing. “We don’t look back at the Weimar Republic today and celebrate them for allowing Nazis to have their free-speech rights,” he says. “We look back and say, Why didn’t they do something?”

Steyn responds:

It is a testament to the wholesale moronization of our culture that there are gazillions of apparently sane people willing to take out six figures of debt they’ll be paying off for decades for the privilege of being “taught” by the likes of Professor Bray. The reason “we don’t look back at the Weimar Republic today and celebrate them for allowing Nazis to have their free-speech rights” is because they didn’t. A decade ago, as my battles with Canada’s “human rights” commissions were beginning, I lost count of the number of bien-pensants insisting that, while in theory we could permit hatemongers like Steyn to exercise their free-speech rights, next thing you know it would be jackboots on the 401. As I said way back when:

“Hateful words” can lead to “unspeakable crimes.” The problem with this line is that it’s ahistorical twaddle, as I’ve pointed out. Yet still it comes up. It did last month, during my testimony to the House of Commons justice committee, when an opposition MP mused on whether it wouldn’t have been better to prohibit the publication of Mein Kampf.

“That analysis sounds as if it ought to be right,” I replied. “But the problem with it is that the Weimar Republic—Germany for the 12 years before the Nazi party came to power—had its own version of Section 13 and equivalent laws. It was very much a kind of proto-Canada in its hate speech laws. The Nazi party had 200 prosecutions brought against it for anti-Semitic speech. At one point the state of Bavaria issued an order banning Hitler from giving public speeches.”

And a fat lot of good it all did.

Or to put it another way:

The problem is, the Weimar Republic had such laws. It used them freely against the Nazis. Far from stopping Hitler, they only made his day when he became Chancellor. They enabled Hitler to confront Social Democratic Party chairman Otto Wels, who stood up in the Reichstag to protest Nazi suspension of civil liberties, with a quotation from the poet Friedrich Schiller:

“‘Late you come, but still you come,'” Hitler pointed at the hapless deputy. “You should have recognized the value of criticism during the years we were in opposition [when] our press was forbidden, our meetings were forbidden, and we were forbidden to speak for years on end.”

As the College Fix noted, in a post Glenn linked to earlier today, “Majority of Americans say colleges aren’t properly teaching ‘the value of free speech.’” And they’re not properly teaching history either. But they are teaching the value of violence: “When Bray recently appeared on Meet the Press, moderator Chuck Todd told him ‘You seem to be a very small minority here who is defending the idea of violence,’ Bray did not deny it.”

I wonder if Bray has ever asked himself or his Antifa buddies, “Are we the baddies?”

Related: Professor who erased pro-life messages will pay $17,000, receive First Amendment training.

10 Nov 20:05

Quotation of the day on ignorance vs. stupidity…. - Publications – AEI

by Mark Perry

AEI
Quotation of the day on ignorance vs. stupidity….

…. is from George Mason University economics professor Walter E. Williams writing in his latest weekly syndicated column “Ignorance versus Stupidity“:

The fact that we have gross ignorance about how the world operates is ignored by the know-it-all elites who seek to control our lives. Let’s look at a few examples of the world’s complexity.

According to some estimates, there are roughly 100 million traffic signals in the U.S. How many of us would like the U.S. Congress, in the name of public health and safety, to be in charge of their actual operation? Congress or a committee it authorizes would determine the length of time traffic lights stay red, yellow and green and what hours of the day and at what intersections lights flash red or yellow. One can only imagine the mess Congress would create in the 40,000 cities, towns and other incorporated places in the U.S. But managing traffic lights and getting good results is a far less complex task than managing the nation’s health care system and getting good results, which Congress tries to do.

The bottom line is that each of us is grossly ignorant about the world in which we live. Nothing’s wrong with that ignorance, but we are stupid if we believe that a politician can produce a better life than that which is obtained through peaceable, voluntary exchange with our fellow man anywhere on earth.

Quotation of the day on ignorance vs. stupidity….
Mark Perry

10 Nov 19:37

HMM: 19 Reasons This “Survival” Story Smells Fishy. Those two are named Jennifer Appel and Tasha …

by Stephen Green

HMM: 19 Reasons This “Survival” Story Smells Fishy.

Those two are named Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava, and their story has been everywhere recently. Here’s their account of what happened, in brief:

They set off from Hawaii in May of this year, bound for Tahiti. They were caught in a storm that both ruined their engine and rendered their mast and sails useless. They were unable to contact help. They drifted for five months, living off of dry food and a handheld watermaker (takes the salt out of seawater so you can drink it) until they were rescued by a fishing boat and, eventually, the Navy.

Now here’s how much of their story makes sense:

They left Hawaii in May. They were rescued five months later by the Navy.

That’s it. That’s the only portion of their story that has even a shred of credibility to it. Now, I’m not going to speculate as to their motives yet, but I will point out that the world of open-water sailing is an obscure one to most people. I am one of a small minority to have spent a lot of time sailing on the open ocean, out of sight of land for months at a time. So I don’t blame journalists for not catching these things at first sight. But that’s why I’m here to explain them to you.

They did appear awfully healthy in the rescue pictures, but I attributed that to the amount of food they claimed to have had on board.