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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 22:26

Barrett Brown Is Writing a Book Critical of the Justice Department. They are Making it Hard by Trying to Prevent Him Being Paid His Advance.

by Brian Doherty

Barrett Brown is currently out of prison and on probation after getting an over five year sentence for essentially linking online to hacked documents (and a supposed threat to an FBI agent that resulted during the investigation for the linking).

Brown tweeted today that the Department of Justice (DOJ), who are seeking to collect the nearly $900,000 in restitution he was found to owe Stratfor (the company whose hacked docs Brown linked to) is preventing him from getting any future money for a book he is working on for Farrar Straus & Giroux.

In an email from Brown's literary agency I've seen, publisher Farrar Straus & Giroux is reported to have said that they have been told by the DOJ to disburse no further money from the book to Brown without the government's permission.

The next installment on Brown's advance is due soon, though this demand has not yet technically prevented money from reaching Brown's hands. Brown says his own lawyers have not been able to tell him whether the DOJ has the power to hold such moneys owed him in limbo as long as they want with such a demand.

According to Brown, his restitution order mentions he should pay "not less than 10 percent" of his gross monthly income toward that restitution. It simultaneously says that stating such a limit that apparently satisfies his obligation "shall not affect the ability of the United States to immediately collect payment in full through garnishment" and a list of other legal means.

At this link, an infuriating phone conversation can be heard between Brown and Emily Shutt with the DOJ out of the Dallas U.S. Attorney's office. She upholds the general principle that they can do whatever they want when it comes to trying to squeeze money out of Brown.

That link also contains a copy of an "application for a writ of garnishment" sent to Barrett's literary agency, Writer's House, demanding money from them. That document says, for what it's worth, that the amount Brown has to pay "is limited to the lesser of (i) 25 percent of disposable income for a week; or (ii) the amount by which disposable earnings for a week exceed 30 times the federal minimum hourly wage." (How they calculate how book advance earnings should be measured against "a week" is unclear. Books are written over many months.)

Brown thinks it is not at all coincidental that his book is highly critical of the DOJ's actions in prosecuting him. (I reported back in April on how Brown was temporarily taken back into custody for talking to the press without explicit Bureau of Prisons permissions; that post contains a brief assessment with links of his entire tortured legal saga.)

Brown figures what makes his case perhaps unique to the DOJ is that in most other cases, the agency "isn't...trying to complicate publication of a major book that will provide new information on criminality from its office," said Brown in an email today.

As far as Brown knows, a similar insistence on garnishment or holds on his income has not gone to one of his other sources of income, D Magazine. "If this was really about getting restitution for Stratfor, they would have been put through this same process," Brown suggests. "But D Magazine is run by Wick Allison, the former National Review [publisher] who was the one to pay $10,000 to that NYC firm to get me out when I was arrested in April, so they're probably reluctant to expose themselves to that."

This move of the DOJ's indeed might have a chilling effect on his ability to express his criticism of them, he says.

"The great majority of my income comes from these staggered advances, and any other income I try to make would result in further subpoenas and writes of garnishment for whatever outlet I write for," he says. "Even if I got a job at a burger joint, that money would likewise be denied to me indefinitely via this same process. I'll be out of money in a month. It's difficult to write a book under those circumstances, and it's difficult to get further work when the DOJ can force any employer to spend a great deal of time responding to subpoenas and ignoring further requests for direction."

He's unhappy but not surprised: "But given that they had me arrested without charges for giving an interview to Vice back in April, and only let me out when one of my other publishers hired a major law firm to threaten to take it to a judge and demand cause, these people know that they can get away with these things without prompting the degree of press coverage necessary to force them to stop their harassment campaign. This is the price we pay when we aggressively pursue corruption in law enforcement and intelligence; these people know they're immune to consequences."

Detailed background on Brown's legal travails can be found at the Free Barrett Brown website. The founder of that website is involved in an ongoing lawsuit against a U.S. Attorney for seeking via subpoena private information on everyone donating to his legal defense fund, claiming that demand violated both the First Amendment and Stored Communications Act.

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.

09 Nov 21:01

SHOT: The resistance to Trump is blossoming – and building a movement to last. CHASER: Liter…

by Stephen Green

SHOT: The resistance to Trump is blossoming – and building a movement to last.

CHASER:

Literally wiping the tears from my eyes. This is so funny. OMG. #WailingWankers pic.twitter.com/tApBJKYv7q

— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) November 9, 2017

HANGOVER:

On a long enough timeline, every Simpsons gag becomes reality.

08 Nov 19:12

FASTER, PLEASE: Scientists rejuvenate old human cells, make them look and act younger. Interesting…

by Glenn Reynolds

FASTER, PLEASE: Scientists rejuvenate old human cells, make them look and act younger. Interesting that they’re using resveratrol analogs.

07 Nov 14:59

Quotation of the day on how protectionists are either sad or despicable figures…. - Publications – AEI

by Mark Perry

AEI
Quotation of the day on how protectionists are either sad or despicable figures….

…. is from Don Boudreaux writing at Cafe Hayek:

The economic case for protectionism is deeply illogical: a country’s people cannot all be enriched by policies that decrease the availability of goods and services, including that of inputs to production. The protectionist is either a sad or a despicable figure. He’s a sad figure if he truly believes that people generally are enriched by any government policy that obstructs their access to goods and services. It’s sad that anyone clings to such illogic. The protectionist is a despicable figure if, while himself knowing better, he uses this logical fallacy to dupe others into supporting a policy that enriches him at their expense. It’s my experience that the ranks of protectionists are well-manned with both sorts, the sad and the despicable.

Quotation of the day on how protectionists are either sad or despicable figures….
Mark Perry

06 Nov 22:42

MORE BAD NEWS FOR PROTON PUMP INHIBITORS: Common heartburn meds show ties to kidney trouble. “The …

by Glenn Reynolds

MORE BAD NEWS FOR PROTON PUMP INHIBITORS: Common heartburn meds show ties to kidney trouble. “The study couldn’t prove cause-and-effect — it’s possible that folks who need these heartburn medicines are simply more prone to kidney disease for other reasons. But the review of data did show a link.”

06 Nov 20:04

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Why Haven’t You Left School? Restless and anxious as a student…

by Glenn Reynolds

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Why Haven’t You Left School?

Restless and anxious as a student of the No Child Left Behind-era in public schools, I wondered why we were spending so much time sitting in assemblies about the PSSA (Pennsylvania System of School Assessment) tests and how to properly answer multiple-choice questions when that had no bearing on what I wanted to learn about. Why were we focusing on some ridiculous state-enforced standards that the teachers themselves admitted were totally arbitrary? Why did we take several weeks per year to do these exams? Why were the classes I enjoyed getting cut back for the ones that were enforced through testing regimens? High school became little more than jumping through hoops for state administrators.

School took me away from the learning I wanted to engage in and made me focus on things I didn’t want. I loved learning; I just hated school.

That was pretty much the Insta-Daughter’s story. The first semester of high school she tracked how they used her time and found that shockingly little of it — like 2-3 hours a day — was on actual learning. The rest was busywork, assemblies, etc. That’s why she quit and went to online (Kaplan) high school, graduating early at 16 after taking far more AP courses than her allegedly fancy public high school offered.

And this on college seems dead-on, too:

Universities and colleges weren’t causes of aristocracy and wealth; they were products of aristocracy and wealth. Aristocrats didn’t send their children to universities to make sure they got the tools necessary to stay aristocrats — they sent them because it was essentially several years of leisure and only the most well-off could afford such a lifestyle.

The university was never intended to train people for high-wage jobs or to lift them up the economic ladder. At best it was an institution to train the clergy in the Middle Ages and then academics in the industrial age. This is why liberal-arts schools place such heavy emphasis on academic subjects — they were designed to create professors.

As global wealth increased through the Industrial Revolution, aristocrats who were already comfortable in their wealth had two options for their children who were coming of age: A) send them to work, or B) give them some leisure among their same class. The university evolved into an institution to help young aristocratic men to transition into adulthood by moving away from home and studying subjects only the most well-off had the leisure to study. The backgrounds of elite American universities make this obvious. Princeton has “eating clubs”; Penn has “the Philomathean society”; and Yale’s secret society culture is a relic of this era.

This isn’t a conspiracy. It’s simply saying that the universities were never intended or designed for the use to which Americans of the mid-20th century put them.

Yep. Read the entire essay, which is excellent.

02 Nov 13:32

Bonus Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux
(Don Boudreaux)

Tweet

… is the opening of Deirdre McCloskey’s new paper “Populism Is Zero Sum Under Majority Rule”:

Populism revives the ancient ideology of zero sum for an age of majority rule.  [Classical] Liberalism, by contrast, is a recent ideology of positive sum, with rights for minority groups, which often generate the positive sum.

DBx: I can’t decide which is more ludicrous: Sandersnistas and other “Progressives” embracing mercantilist doctrines as if these are the results of cutting-edge and egalitarian thinking, or conservatives embracing mercantilist doctrines as if these are key to restoring national greatness.

01 Nov 20:53

MARC THIESSEN: Clinton’s link to Putin is the underreported ‘dossier’ bombshell. The news …

by Glenn Reynolds

MARC THIESSEN: Clinton’s link to Putin is the underreported ‘dossier’ bombshell.

The news that the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee paid for research used in the discredited Trump-Russia “dossier” is a bombshell. But even more shocking — and overlooked — is the revelation that the firm the Clinton campaign hired to compile that dossier, Fusion GPS, is the same firm that has been accused in recent congressional testimony of launching a smear campaign in Washington against Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian lawyer who was tortured and killed in a Russian prison in 2009 after uncovering a $230 million tax theft by 23 Kremlin-linked companies and individuals close to President Vladimir Putin.

Which raises the question no one seems to be asking: Why was Hillary Clinton using an opposition research company with Putin-linked clients to dig up dirt on Donald Trump?

Weird that no one is asking that.

30 Oct 12:11

Q: What nation on Earth has reduced its carbon emissions more than any other? - Publications – AEI

by Mark Perry

AEI
Q: What nation on Earth has reduced its carbon emissions more than any other?

Inconvenient Answer: According to climatologist Dr. Patrick Michaels, it’s “the good old USA, and that’s because we’ve been substituting natural gas for coal for power generation” as can be seen in the top chart above, which shows that CO2 emissions from electric power generation in the US last year were the lowest in 28 years, going all the way back to 1988. How often is that reported in the media?

Update: Bottom chart above shows total US CO2 emissions, which were the lowest during the January-June period this year since 1992, 25 years ago.

In the video below, Dr. Patrick Michaels, director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute and author of the book Lukewarming: The New Climate Science that Changes Everything, offers a current assessment of the political debate over climate change. He explains how the free market is allowing natural gas to be substituted for coal  worldwide at a rate that will achieve a lower level of global warming than would occur with strict adherence to the regulations of the Paris Accords.

Q: What nation on Earth has reduced its carbon emissions more than any other?
Mark Perry

25 Oct 16:16

DRAGNET: DOJ Subpoenas Twitter About Popehat, Dissent Doe And Others Over A Smiley Emoji Tweet. I…

by Stephen Green

DRAGNET: DOJ Subpoenas Twitter About Popehat, Dissent Doe And Others Over A Smiley Emoji Tweet.

It’s a subpoena asking for information on the following five Twitter users: @dawg8u (“Mike Honcho”), @abtnatural (“Virgil”), @Popehat (Ken White), @associatesmind (Keith Lee) and @PogoWasRight (Dissent Doe). I’m pretty sure we’ve talked about three of those five in previous Techdirt posts. Either way, they’re folks who are quite active in legal/privacy issues on Twitter.

And what info does the DOJ want on them? Well, basically everything:

1. Names (including subscriber names, user names, and screen names);

2. Addresses (including mailing addresses, residential addresses, business addresses, and e-mail addresses);

3. Records of session times and durations, and the temporarily assigned network addresses (such as Internet Protocol (“IP”) addresses) associated with those sessions;

4. Length of service (including start date) and types of service utilized;

5. Telephone or instrument numbers (including MAC addresses, Electronic Serial Numbers (“ESN”), Mobile Electronic Identity Numbers (“MEIN”), Mobile Equipment Identifier (“MEID”), Mobile Identification Numbers (“MIN”), Subscriber Identity Modules (“SIM”), Mobile Subscriber Integrated Services Digital Network Numbers (“MSISDND”), International Mobile Subscriber Identifier (“IMSI”), or International Mobile Equipment Identities (“IMEI”));

6. Other subscriber numbers or identities, or associated accounts (including the registration Internet Protocol (“IP”) address);

7. Means and source of payment for such service (including any credit card or bank account number) and billing records.

That’s a fair bit of information. Why the hell would the DOJ want all that? Would you believe it appears to be over a single tweet from someone to each of those five individuals that consists entirely of a smiley face? I wish I was kidding.

Read the whole thing.

23 Oct 18:23

Ready for some mind-blowing illusions? - Publications – AEI

by Mark Perry

AEI
Ready for some mind-blowing illusions?

Pretty amazing illusion above, it got second prize in the 2017 Best Illusion of the Year Contest sponsored annually by the Neural Correlate Society. See the rest of the top ten 2017 finalists here (and finalists from previous years back to 2005). Here’s another pretty amazing illusion and here’s the 2009 first prize winner, (“The Break of the Curveball”), which has the greatest number of votes for Top Rated Illusions.

It’s been a number of years since I’ve featured any illusions on CD, see some previous posts here, here and here.

Ready for some mind-blowing illusions?
Mark Perry