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23 Feb 18:50

Facebook turned its two-factor security 'feature' into spam

by (Thom Holwerda)
Facebook is bleeding users, with external researchers estimating that the social network lost 2.8 million US users under 25 last year. Those losses have prompted Facebook to get more aggressive in its efforts to win users back - and the company has started using security prompts to encourage users to log into their accounts. Sometimes, Facebook will send emails to users warning them that they're having problems logging into their accounts, Bloomberg reported last month. "Just click the button below and we'll log you in. If you weren't trying to log in, let us know," the emails reportedly read. Other times, Facebook will ask for a user's phone number to set up two-factor authentication - then spam the number with notification texts. Raise your hand if you're surprised Facebook would do this.
20 Feb 21:18

West Africa's Libertarian Moment

by Jillian Keenan

h/t Whig Zhou

In December 2017, after 10 years of delays, Senegalese president Macky Sall finally unveiled the brand-new Dakar airport before a crowd of supporters waving posters of his face. With a cost of roughly $600 million, and a footprint five times the size of the previous airport, nothing about the project was small—including its ambitions. The presidents of Gabon, The Gambia, and Guinea Bissau joined Sall for the launch, underlining the dream: Blaise Diagne International Airport, they hope, will become a regional transport hub that jump-starts local economies and symbolizes the bright West African future.

As it turns out, the airport inauguration did symbolize West Africa's shifting climate. Just not in the way any of the politicians planned.

A new airport needs a new airline, so the Senegalese government launched one of those, too. Air Senegal, the new state-owned national carrier, replaces its predecessor, Senegal Airlines (shut down in 2016), which itself replaced Air Senegal International (shut down in 2009).

Everyone hoped that Air Senegal could succeed where those before it failed. Aviation Minister Maimouna Ndoye Seck insisted a national airline was "a necessity." Government officials wanted the airline to claim the honor of operating the new airport's first commercial flight.

But it was not to be. Air Senegal couldn't get all of the necessary flight licenses together in time for the launch, so its inaugural flight was symbolic only. Instead, the honor of the new airport's first commercial flight went to Transair, a privately owned local carrier.

As the government airline watched from the ground, burdened by gravity and the weight of unfinished paperwork, the private airline took off.

Enter Africapitalism

For decades, West Africa was inhospitable soil for the seeds of libertarianism. Léopold Senghor, the first president of Senegal, famously argued that socialism is an inherent fit for the region, saying: "Africa's social background of tribal community life not only makes socialism natural to Africa, but excludes the validity of the theory of class struggle." Along with Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Modibo Keita of Mali, Senghor designed a model of West African governance in which social development would be guided by a large public sector. Driven by this vision (and considerable financial support from the USSR), state participation in regional economies was taken to extremes: in Ghana, for example, Nkrumah nationalized all foreign companies, imposed price controls, collectivized agriculture, and established state-run industries in everything from cocoa processing to pharmaceuticals to metallurgy.

But George Ayittey, a Ghanaian economist who has argued that "Africa is poor because she is not free," says private business and free enterprise have deep—albeit misunderstood—cultural roots on the continent. Visit any market and it's plain to see: West Africa is an energetic hive of entrepreneurship.

"One can be communalistic or socialistic without being a socialist," Ayittey writes in Defeating Dictators: Fighting Tyranny in Africa and Around the World. "In peasant societies, the means of production are owned by the clan, [which] acts as a corporate body or unit. However, the clan is not the same as the tribal government; it is a private entity and, therefore, the means of production are privately owned."

He describes West Africa's history of socialist experiments as a rejection of colonialism: After all, Lenin said imperialist colonialism is the highest stage of capitalism, so it makes sense that the Lenin-reading survivors of imperialism would reject its alleged economic roots. But that rejection (and the pillaging legacy of colonialism) has resulted in a paradox: At the turn of the 21st century, Africa was the richest continent in the world in terms of natural resources, but the poorest in terms of socio-economic development and inclusive growth.

But after decades of heavy-handed government regulation, something new is happening across West Africa. Privatization, deregulation, and free market capitalism—along with growing skepticism of state control—are gaining momentum.

Ayittey cautions against characterizing the movement as a specifically "libertarian" one—"ideological tenets that are meaningful in the U.S. may not necessarily translate in Africa," he says, noting that, for example, the term conservative has different meanings in the United States and Russia. But he agrees that West Africa has a growing "disgust or revulsion against political leaders and governments." Nigerian entrepreneur Tony Elumelu calls it "Africapitalism"—the urge to combat economic and social challenges with entrepreneurship rather than charity or state intervention.

"It is a drastic departure from the old model of centralized governments managing basic industries," Elumelu writes in his manifesto, Africapitalism: The Path to Economic Prosperity and Social Wealth. "That is the heart of Africapitalism: long-term investment that creates economic prosperity (a commercial objective), as well as social wealth."

West Africa is certainly not a utopia of unfettered socio-economic liberty. Anti-government theories are growing largely because the region's political leaders have crammed authoritarianism down citizens' throats for so long. In recent months, Cameroon's Francophone-dominated government has cracked down violently on Anglophone secessionists seeking independence. In Senegal, Franco-Beninese activist Kemi Seba was arrested and deported after he publicly set fire to a banknote to protest the colonial currency still being used by eight West African countries. In November 2017, the Mauritanian Cabinet approved an amendment to the penal code that would punish "defamation to God, the Prophet Muhammad, Holy Books, angels or prophets" by death. LGBT rights in the region are bad in theory and even worse in practice. In the Cato Institute's 2017 Economic Freedom of the World report, almost all West African nations were placed in the "least free" category. It would be silly to pretend activists in the region aren't at the beginning of a long and difficult climb.

But although authoritarian governments die hard, they are dying in West Africa. In 2014, when Burkinabé President Blaise Compaoré tried to amend the constitution to extend his already 27-year-long term, protesters responded with a series of uprisings that ultimately forced Compaoré to dissolve his government and flee to Côte d'Ivoire. In Togo, anti-government protesters are currently thronging the streets in an attempt to overthrow the Gnassinbé dynasty, which has maintained control over the country for more than five decades by terrorizing those who speak out against corruption and misrule. And with the fall of The Gambia's Yahya Jammeh in early 2017, all 16 countries in West Africa now have democratically elected governments. In November, The Gambia even got its first private television station.

This momentum has swelled to include more than just the fall of authoritarian political dynasties. In 2016, the African Union launched a common passport that will grant visa-free travel to all member countries by 2020—a move that regional libertarian activists, such as African Students for Liberty's Oluwafemi Ogunjobi, hail as "a key step towards…economic growth with free movement of people, goods, and services." Other deregulatory economic policies have sparked excitement, too: After the Nigerian government privatized the telecommunications industry in 1999, the sector boomed, contributing over 6,000 jobs and an additional 6.97 trillion naira (or 8.68 percent) to the gross domestic product (GDP). When Senegal dismantled its government monopoly on cement, prices fell by a third.

"We are witnessing the beginning of a major intellectual revolution," says Ayittey. "In the past, the people were not willing to complain and accepted whatever excuse the government gave them. Not anymore."

Changes are afoot in West Africa. As activists for social and economic liberty increasingly shape the regional dialogue, it's worth asking: Is this West Africa's libertarian tipping point?

Reducing Harm

In November 2009, the burned-out carcass of a Boeing 727 was found in the arid deserts of northern Mali. Investigators said smugglers had used it to fly a shipment of drugs in from Venezuela, unloaded them, and then torched the plane to hide the evidence. Transatlantic flights of drugs have also been recorded in Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone—a flashback to the 1970s and '80s, when drug smugglers flew openly between Colombia and the U.S. border. Today, the estimated annual value of cocaine transiting through West Africa is $1.25 billion—significantly more than the annual national budget of several countries in the region.

And West Africa isn't just a transit hub; the region's production capacity is growing as well. Synthetic drug production centers have emerged in Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, and Nigeria; according to a report from the International Narcotics Control Board, 10 meth labs were dismantled in that last country between 2011 and 2015, and drug production chemicals have also been seized in Senegal.

So to consider West Africa's shifting stance on state control, drug policy is a good place to start.

For decades, regional drug policy has emphasized criminalization, with ineffective and even counterproductive results. Policies are harsh: In Ghana, drug use carries an automatic minimum sentence of five years. Possession is not distinguished from trafficking and carries a minimum of 10 years. Prohibition has fueled health hazards, such as the HIV epidemic and the spread of hepatitis C, and put pressure on the region's already overburdened criminal justice system. It also limits economic options for Ghanaian farmers, whose work accounts for 21 percent of the country's GDP; in 2016, a farmer was sentenced to an astonishing 15 years in prison for growing marijuana.

But the tide is turning. In 2014, a report from the West Africa Commission on Drugs concluded: "We believe that the consumption and possession for personal use of drugs should not be criminalized. Experience shows that criminalization of drug use worsens health and social problems, puts huge pressures on the criminal justice system, and incites corruption."

Those recommendations are translating into policy. Ghana is on the brink of becoming the first country in the region to decriminalize the personal use and possession of all drugs, and several other countries are poised to follow Ghana's lead.

"You'd be amazed at how people's opinions have changed about the need to decriminalize drugs," says Maria-Goretti Loglo, a Ghanaian lawyer and consultant for the International Drug Policy Consortium. "We have come to acknowledge the fact that the same methods we've used over and over again haven't helped solve the problem."

Loglo says the government's first draft of the drug bill was terrible. It "sought to raise penalties with the mindset that, when you severely punish people, they will stay away from drugs." But when civil society organizations, such as the West African Drug Policy Network, intervened, they were able to convince legislators that an evidence-based decriminalization approach would save lives.

The specific details of the current legislation are still under debate, but, remarkably, both political parties agree that the final policy will end imprisonment for use and possession—a first for the continent.

According to Loglo, who helped develop the current policy recommendations, first-time offenders will be given a warning. Second-time offenders face a proposed fine of 100 "penalty units" (1,200 Ghanaian cedis, or $267), although some are pushing to have that fine cut in half. Third-time offenders will be referred to treatment and counseling programs.

"Initially, we had a lot of resistance," says Loglo. "But now you'd be amazed—the majority of parliament [members] support it. Yes, there are one or two individual legislators who feel this is a moral issue that people must be punished for, but they are the minority."

The Ghanaian policy has provoked excitement and optimism from harm reduction advocates around the world. "It will be huge," says Niamh Eastwood, the executive director of Release, a London-based drug policy organization. "It will be beneficial to the state in terms of economics, but it's also treating people with the dignity they deserve. It's groundbreaking for West Africa."

Ghana's position on the issue is already influencing other countries in the region. William Ebiti, the point person for Nigeria with the West African Drug Policy Network, says the country was considering a bill that would tighten punishments for drug possession, but that bill has been put on hold. Instead, Ebiti has been asked to facilitate a roundtable discussion between government officials, traditional leaders, international organizations, and civil society groups in Northern Nigeria to explore decriminalization and harm reduction options.

The Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency "is beginning to soften its tone on the issue of possession," Ebiti says. "We are seeing a slow shift in terms of attitude towards drug use. Something very interesting is happening."

Students for Sensible Drug Policy, an international network that "neither condones nor condemns drug use" but campaigns for "the right of individuals to make decisions about their own health and well-being," has chapters in Sierra Leone, Gambia, and Liberia as well as Ghana and Nigeria. The activism that has spread across the region is manifesting in policy: Stakeholders involved in the Ghanaian legislation, for example, recently traveled to Monrovia to discuss their findings and policy recommendations with the Liberian president.

"Liberia is really prepared to engage with us as to what kind of changes we can bring," says Loglo, noting that the country's long civil war left an unusually large number of addicts—mostly former rebel soldiers who were fed on drugs. "We met with the attorney general, and they are prepared to amend their laws to give an opportunity to these communities."

Ghana is on the brink of becoming the first country in the region to decriminalize the personal use and possession of all drugs, and several other countries are poised to follow Ghana's lead.

Loglo adds that Benin and Guinea are also discussing drug policy reforms. And the region's first harm reduction center—where drug users are offered health services and a safe place to get high without fear of legal punishment—opened in December 2014 in Dakar, Senegal. It's been so successful there are plans to open a second in Mbour, and others are being developed in Cabo Verde and Côte d'Ivoire.

"It's a tipping point for West Africa," says Loglo. "Government is beginning to listen to civil society, and that is the way forward. Government cannot do everything."

Privatizing Schools

If any education system is ripe for change, it's Liberia's. During the country's 14-year civil war, gangs of rebel soldiers ransacked schools, ultimately forcing an estimated 80 percent of them to close. Then the Ebola epidemic came along to make a bad situation worse: The few schools that had survived the war had to close for seven months while the country grappled with a public health crisis.

Today, the effects of Liberia's history on its education system are obvious and devastating. Fewer than 60 percent of school-age Liberian children are actually in school—one of the lowest net enrollment rates in the world. Even among those who are enrolled, the picture is grim: Less than one in five adult women who reached fifth grade in the country can read a single sentence. In 2013, roughly 25,000 high school graduates took the University of Liberia's entrance exam. Every single one failed.

Desperate for solutions, President Ellen Sirleaf appointed George Werner, a former teacher, to the position of education minister in 2015. He faced a daunting task. With a budget of only $44 million, he was to bring Liberia's education system back to life.

Werner moved quickly and dramatically. In September 2016, he announced an experiment with private primary education. The project, called Partnership for Schools in Liberia (PSL), handed over management of 93 schools to eight private companies, including for-profit providers and charities.

Roughly a quarter of those—25 schools in total—went to Bridge International Academies, a U.S.-based for-profit education provider sometimes referred to as the "Uber of education." With more than 100,000 children enrolled in its schools in India, Kenya, Uganda, and Nigeria, and with high-profile investors such as Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and Bill Gates Investments,* Bridge is one of the largest providers of low-cost education in the world.

The remaining 68 schools were divided among seven other organizations via a competitive bidding process. Werner's bold proposal was widely reported as the largest, and most ambitious, privatization project in Africa's recent history. "Our challenge to fix education is gigantic," he said at the time. "Partnership Schools offers us an unprecedented opportunity to confront and fix as many broken pieces as we possibly can."

Data suggest the effort worked. An independent randomized control trial from the Center for Global Development found that after one year, test scores rose by 60 percent in public schools managed by private contractors. Students in the private-management experiment also had better access to school supplies: They were 19 percent more likely to have textbooks, 18 percent more likely to have chalk in their classrooms, and 10 percent more likely to have pens and pencils. Even when the results did not reflect especially well on either system—a random spot check found that only 68 percent of PSL teachers were physically at school, as compared to 54 percent of government teachers—the private program numbers looked better.

Buoyed by those statistics, the PSL program was doubled to include 202 schools for its second year. "The world was watching to see whether Liberia's education system could be transformed," Shannon May, a co-founder of Bridge International Academies, announced. "And the answer is yes."

But from the start, the project was plagued with controversy. Kishore Singh, the U.N.'s special rapporteur on the right to education, condemned the experiment as "completely unacceptable" and "a blatant violation of Liberia's…obligations." At upward of $25 million over three years, not including the costs of its planned expansion, critics questioned whether PSL was worth the investment. And there were disturbing anecdotes: According to one report, after a Bridge PSL school promised students a school lunch program but failed to deliver, the poorest students simply dropped out.

Even those test score improvements provoked debate. Steven Klees, a professor of international education policy at the University of Maryland who thinks PSL represents the "McDonaldization of education," argues that when controls for student pre-test scores and other factors are taken into consideration, student improvement goes down from 60 percent to 35–45 percent. That's still an improvement—but Klees does not think it's due to the privatization scheme.

"To me, it has nothing to do with privatization," says Klees. "PSL schools had smaller class sizes, more instruction time, better trained teachers, and didn't have to follow the existing primary school curriculum—all things you could easily do in public schools. Given that difference in resources, I'm honestly surprised the PSL test scores went up so little."

The economics of the plan have provoked questions as well. Here's how it works: The Liberian Ministry of Education (MOE) already spends $50 per year on every student in the system, most of which goes to teacher salaries. Under the privatization experiment, that didn't change: Both PSL and non-PSL students continue to receive that $50 baseline from the ministry for the duration of the proposed three-year pilot. But the MOE wanted to see what additional spending, when combined with private management, could achieve—so it raised an additional $50 per student per year from philanthropic organizations and other donors. (It also freed up funds by purging more than 6,000 "ghost teachers"—teachers who never existed but likely had been added to the system to generate salaries that lined the pockets of corrupt officials—from the payroll.)

On top of that, the eight private PSL providers were free to raise additional money if they chose. After all was said and done, the private provider that produced the most impressive student improvement statistics, Bridge International Academies, had spent a staggering $373 per student in its first year of operation, not including start-up costs. Bridge supporters are quick to emphasize that those additional funds came at no cost to either the Liberian government or to Liberian parents.

But others argue that the big test scores—and their big price tag—aren't sustainable long-term. Klees pointed to the example of Edison Schools, a for-profit private contractor that reported only one profitable quarter while it was publicly traded. (Bridge International Academies is not currently making a profit.) To survive, Edison Schools was eventually forced to move away from school management and into supplemental services, such as testing and tutoring.

As PSL enters its second year, education professionals around West Africa and around the world are watching Liberia—and interest in private options to address regional education deficits is spreading. In October 2017, one year after the launch of PSL, the Nigerian Stock Exchange "donated" a Bridge International Academies school to the Borno State Government. (Borno is one of three so-called "emergency states" most affected by Boko Haram.) In Ghana, 5.6 million cedis (about $1.25 million U.S. dollars) of microfinance loans have been disbursed to 584 low-fee private schools; the program reaches almost 140,000 kids and boasts a 92 percent loan repayment rate. Meanwhile, in Sierra Leone, Rising Academy Network (another for-profit education provider) started with one school in 2014 but quickly grew to include 2,000 students at all different grade levels throughout the country.

Rising Academy, which also runs 29 schools in Liberia through PSL, initially entered West Africa as a purely private response to need, rather than at a government's invitation. Like other low-cost private education efforts, it has attracted controversy. Tuition at the company's schools in Sierra Leone is $140 per year—a steep price in a country where, according to a World Bank estimate, gross national income per capita is $340. (That means 72 percent of the population lives on less than $1 per day.)

"Our parents are average Freetown residents," claims Christina PioCosta-Lahue, the managing director of Rising Academy Network. "They're not just the elite." She stressed that tuition can be paid in installments and includes "everything: uniforms, workbooks, everything the students need." But that's not quite true—when asked if the tuition includes school lunch, PioCosta-Lahue admits it does not.

The relatively expensive option does seem to produce results, though. A three-year impact evaluation of Rising Academy schools in Sierra Leone by Oxford education psychologist David Johnson found that the private students had made two to three times as much progress in reading and math as their peers in government schools. And advocates of private education options in the region emphasize that even desperately poor parents want what any other parents want: the most effective education options for their kids.

"People who respond negatively to the idea don't know this context well, if at all," says PioCosta-Lahue. "The situation we found in [government] schools was really dire—unimaginable to someone in D.C. What parent wants to send their child to a school where the teacher is illiterate?"

Changing Minds

In West Africa, enterprise starts with the soil. According to the World Economic Forum, an estimated 70 percent of people on the continent depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. But regional governments have struggled to boost the economic potential of their farmers; often they've been unable or unwilling even to get out of the way. In Senegal, for example, cattle are the main capital for 30 percent of citizens—but imported powdered milk is taxed at 7 percent, while the taxes imposed on local milk add up to a crippling 30 percent.

No conversation about the present (and future) of socio-economic liberty in West Africa can ignore the region's farmland—which is why it's no surprise the next generation of West Africa's libertarian activists hatched on a chicken farm.

At 24, Olumayowa Okediran had just graduated from university. Like other Nigerian graduates, he entered the National Youth Service Corps, a required national service year that gives people work placements around the country. Okediran was sent to a small village called Fasola, to work on a poultry farm. Tending to the chickens was fun. But the economics of the enterprise made him grumpy.

"It was very unproductive," he says. "I kept pondering why the farm had not been sold to a private investor to manage it. They were making huge losses—it was unsustainable, and it was a waste of money."

Frustrated with the inefficiency he saw by day, Okediran used his nights to fantasize about ways to take the pet project he had started during college—a small group called the African Liberty Students Association (ALSO)—to a broader audience. "I was slaving away for the government," says Okediran with a laugh. "But I spent that time building the groundwork for something big." By 2013, he'd brokered an alliance between ALSO and the U.S.-based Students for Liberty.

Today, the child of that union—African Students for Liberty—boasts more than 6,000 contacts in 22 countries around the continent. It's Africa's biggest libertarian group.

As the momentum continues to build, everyone agrees: Conversations about liberty in the region must center on African voices and narratives. As George Ayittey puts it, "Africa's salvation lies in building upon its own indigenous institutions, not copying foreign systems."

Okediran agrees. An early challenge to the group's advocacy, he says, was to overcome the idea that it's merely proselytizing for Western theories. "I get accused of being a stooge of the West," he says. "They say, 'Oh, you've come with your neo-colonialism, you want to colonize us all over again.'"

To counter that, African Students for Liberty stopped distributing material by Western writers, and started sharing a collection of essays by authors from the continent instead. Called Voices for Africa, it includes essays such as "An African Intellectual's View on Libertarianism" and "Debunking the Myths of Free Enterprise in Africa." The tactic is working.

"This is a tipping point," says Okediran. "More young people are marching on with their ideas of liberty now than ever before. Whether they self-identify as libertarian or not, their choices—the arguments they make online—reflect libertarian ideals. The young people who believe these things now will go on to be journalists, businessmen, policy makers. And when we get into those positions of power, the belief systems we're building will begin to play out in policy."

It has already started. Recently, Okediran looked up his old chicken farm—curious, he said, to see if the operators had learned from past mistakes.

It's going private.

CORRECTION: The original version of this story described investors in Partnership for Schools in Liberia as Mark Zuckerberg and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They are Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and Bill Gates Investments.

06 Feb 13:55

Adblock Plus and The Pirate Bay founder have launched a service to let people pay the online publishers they love the most

by Lara O'Reilly

till faida adblock plus

Popular ad blocker Adblock Plus has partnered with online donation startup Flattr, created by the founder of The Pirate Bay, to launch a new tool that will let users pay the online publishers and content creators they visit the most.

On sign-up with Flattr Plus, users select how much they want to spend a month — with no minimum fee at launch.

The Flattr Plus browser extension will then run in the background as users consume content on the web and automatically distribute that monthly budget, based on the websites they "engage" with the most. 

The "engagement" metric is still being tested, but Flattr says in a press release the model is to reward "engagement and attention" rather than site visits.

Any online content creator can apply to Flattr Plus — from large online news organizations, to YouTube creators, and podcast owners. Only those that have signed up to the whitelist will be compensated — but any money due to them will be held until they join.

Adblock Plus and Flattr will take 10% of the monthly subscription money. Adblock Plus has also made an undisclosed investment in Flattr as part of the partnership. Flattr launched in 2010 and was co-founded by The Pirate Bay founder Peter Sunde. Flattr found fame after becoming the payment method to donate funds to WikiLeaks after PayPal, Visa, and MasterCard froze the site's access to funds.

"Our goal is to get to 10 million users ... once we rech that, we will give publishers $500 million"

The Flattr Plus model is somewhat similar to Adblock Plus' controversial "Acceptable Ads" list, which requires large advertising companies to apply for their ads to be whitelisted. Those large companies — which includes Google, Amazon, Criteo, and Taboola — are charged 30% of the additional revenue created by having their ads whitelisted.

Critics of the model have compared it to everything from "extortion," to "blackmail," and being a "Mafia-like advertising network." The leader of US digital advertising trade industry the Interactive Advertising Bureau accused Adblock Plus in January of being an "unethical, immoral, mendacious coven of tech wannabes" and an "old-fashioned extortion racket."

till faidaWe asked Adblock Plus-owner Eyeo's CEO Till Faida whether he was worried Flattr Plus might be met with the same criticisms.

"No matter all we do, that will always be part of it for some people," Faida said. "The beauty of this model is that we will be able to provide significant funds to [content creators] without them needing to do anything other than collect the cash. Hopefully that will help us overcome some of the perception hurdles."

Faida said the companies expect the average user will pay $5 per month. The goal is to reach 10 million users — compensating content creators $500 million.

He thinks the Adblock Plus userbase is the "perfect match" for the service, due to its "massive" userbase (Adblock Plus has been downloaded 500 million times) that want to support online content creators but are fed up of "aggressive" advertising.

"We've already proven that fewer but better ads provide more value, so this is the next logical step. This fits perfectly into what Adblock Plus has always been about," Faida added.

Flattr Plus is similar to an "ethical" ad blocking service that launched in beta late last year. asks users to pay $5.99 per month to experience an ad-free web, with that fee distributed back to publishers. Like Flattr Plus, an algorithm determines which publishers are compensated the most, but users can also choose to give a higher percentage of their monthly fee to their favorite content creators.

SEE ALSO: Adblock Plus just revealed for the first time exactly how it makes its money

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Here’s why airlines ask you to raise the window shades for takeoffs and landings

06 Feb 13:53

Science into agitprop: “Climate Change is Strangling Our Oceans”

by curryja

I stopped reading Phil Plait at his badastronomy blog back in like 2007 because of his nasty tone and also credibility problems like this. Disappointing, but not surprising, to learn that slate has picked him up.

by Larry Kummer, from the Fabius Maximus website

The public policy debate about climate science shows the dysfunctional nature of the US media. Here’s another example of how propaganda has contaminated the news reporting of this vital subject, looking at stories about a new study of our oceans.

Oxygen loss in the oceans

Image courtesy Matthew Long, NCAR. It is freely available for media use.

NCAR’s press research accurately describes the paper: “Widespread loss of ocean oxygen to become noticeable in 2030s” (although it omits a crucial detail, mentioned below). Phil Plait at Slate turns this into agitprop: “Climate Change Is Strangling Our Oceans“. His conclusion: ““messing with {the ocean} habitat is like setting fire to your own house. Which is pretty much what we’re doing.” Maddie Stone at Gizmodo also has a sensational headline “The Oceans Are Running Low on Oxygen” (the paper says nothing like that; for example, “detectable change” does not imply a “low” level).

To see how science becomes sensational propaganda let’s start by looking at the paper — “Finding forced trends in oceanic oxygen” by Matthew C. Long et al, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, February 2016. Ungated copy here. It is interesting and valuable research about climate dynamics. The abstract:

“Anthropogenically forced trends in oceanic dissolved oxygen are evaluated in Earth system models in the context of natural variability. A large ensemble of a single Earth system model is used to clearly identify the forced component of change in interior oxygen distributions and to evaluate the magnitude of this signal relative to noise generated by internal climate variability. The time of emergence of forced trends is quantified on the basis of anomalies in oxygen concentrations and trends.

“We find that the forced signal should already be evident in the southern Indian Ocean and parts of the eastern tropical Pacific and Atlantic basins; widespread detection of forced deoxygenation is possible by 2030–2040.

“In addition to considering spatially discrete metrics of detection, we evaluate the similarity of the spatial structures associated with natural variability and the forced trend. Outside of the subtropics, these patterns are not wholly distinct on the isopycnal surfaces considered, and therefore, this approach does not provide significantly advanced detection. Our results clearly demonstrate the strong impact of natural climate variability on interior oxygen distributions, providing an important context for interpreting observations.”

Note the difference between the paper and Slate’s agitprop. The climate scientists ran models and said “We find that the forced signal should already be evident” (not that it is evident). Their conclusions are similarly modest (i.e., we don’t have sufficiently detailed or long records to validate the model’s output)…

“Our results suggest that ocean deoxygenation might already be detectable on the basis of state anomalies and/or trends in regions within the southern Indian Ocean, as well as parts of the eastern tropical Pacific and Atlantic basins. Observations have insufficient spatiotemporal coverage, however, to adequately characterize the natural [O2] distribution, in the case of evaluating state anomalies. Furthermore, in most regions where early detection is possibly {sic}, relatively long records (>50 years) are required to assess the exceedance of a trend from the O2 variability generated in a stationary climate without external forcing.”

Slate sweeps all this away. Model outputs become definite observations of damage appearing today. Tentative conclusions become certainties. Those are Slate’s smaller misrepresentations of this paper.

The big omission

The paper clearly states that the model was run using a specific scenario: “the CMIP5 Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5) for 2006–2100”. The nightmarish predictions of climate change that dominate the news almost all rely on this, the most severe of the four scenarios used by the Fifth Assessment Report (the IPCC’s most recent report). It describes a future in which much has gone wrong (details here), most importantly…

  • a slowdown in tech progress (e.g., coal becomes the major fuel of the late 21st century, as it was in the late 19thC), and
  • unusually rapid population growth (inexplicably, that fertility in sub-Saharan Africa does not decline or even crash as it has everywhere else).

RCP8.5 is a valuable scenario for planning, reminding us of the consequences if things go wrong. But presenting forecasts based on it without mentioning its unlikely assumptions is agitprop. The current bankruptcies of coal miners already suggests that the late 21st century will not be dominated by burning coal (details here). There is little evidence that fertility in Africa will remain high as their incomes grow.

Some journalists more accurately reported this paper. The WaPo wrote “Global warming could deplete the oceans’ oxygen – with severe consequences” — saying “could deplete”, not “is depleting” or “will deplete”. They also say “High levels of greenhouse gas emissions, the study reports, produce a ‘sharp acceleration of oceanic deoxygenation in the first half of the 21st century’” — a nod to the RCP8.5 scenario.


The steady flow of this kind of propaganda is already slowly shaping US public opinion. A few large extreme weather events — promptly (even if inaccurately) blamed on CO2 — and the course of US public policy might change radically.

Climate skeptics’ lack of strategy or coordination makes this kind of propaganda easy and effective. It’s one of the reasons I believe that skeptics will lose the US public policy debate about climate change (details here).

Other examples of sensationalist reporting of climate change

JC note:  As with all guest posts, please keep your comments civil and relevant.

Filed under: Communication, Oceans
06 Feb 04:17

Pennsylvania's Redistricting Crisis Deepens as SCOTUS Takes Hard Pass on Getting Involved

by Eric Boehm

And apparently, someone in the PA House is now circulating a cosponsorship memo to impeach the state supreme court justices. Not sure if it's a sincere impeachment attempt or just going through the motions.

As half the state nursed a celebratory Super Bowl hangover, Pennsylvania took another half-step towards a full-blown constitutional crisis. Today the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a request from Republicans in the state legislature, who sought an order stopping the state Supreme Court from ordering new congressional maps before the 2018 election.

Yes, it's a bit confusing. Here's how we got here. The state's high court ruled last month that current congressional district lines, drawn by Republicans in 2011, were unconstitutional. New maps must be passed by the state legislature and signed by the Democratic governor before February 9, the state court said, or else the court would design its own maps for the upcoming midterm elections. Republicans in the legislature refused to comply and asked the U.S. Supreme Court to tell the state court it was out of line.

Now that the SCOTUS has refused to do that, the legislature has just four days to get new maps drawn up and passed.

"Now, all parties must focus on getting a fair map in place," said Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat. "Gerrymandering is wrong and we must correct errors of the past with the existing map."

If Republicans continue to refuse to draw new maps, the state Supreme Court may have to back up its threat to take matters into its own hands. It's not at all clear that the state court has the authority to do that, since both the state and federal constitutions give redistricting authority to the legislature. Should the state court produce new maps and order them used for the midterms, another GOP-backed appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court would seem likely.

The crisis in Pennsylvania—like other ongoing court battles over partisan redistricting, in such places as North Carolina and Wisconsin—points to a broader problem. It's relatively easy to show that redistricting is often done in partisan, biased ways, but it's much harder to find a workable alternative.

One supposed solution to gerrymandering is supposedly independent "redistricting commissions" filled with supposedly independent normal people.

The main problem with that approach is that the list of people who care about redistricting enough to serve on such a panel and are not interested in partisan politics is just about zero. As Reason's Ron Bailey has pointed out, independent redistricting commissions tend to gerrymander just as much as legislators do. In California, a citizens redistricting commission in 2010 was infiltrated by union-backed groups and, no surprise, produced maps that pretty clearly advantage Democratic candidates.

Another possible solution—one that the state Supreme Court in Pennsylvania has now embraced—involves greater activism from judges. In the past, courts at all levels generally have been unwilling to strike down maps purely for reasons of partisan bias (though there is a history of courts rejecting maps that deliberately diluted minority populations' votes).

The problem with that is that it raises questions about the impartiality of judges. Republicans in Pennsylvania are howling about comments made by Supreme Court Justice David Wecht in 2015, when he was running for a seat on the state Supreme Court. "Gerrymandering is an absolute abomination. It is a travesty. It is deeply wrong," he said at a candidate forum in Philadelphia. "There are only 5 Democrats in the Congress, as opposed to 13 Republicans. Think about it. Do we need a new Supreme Court? I think you know the answer."

Judicial elections are tricky things. There's a fine line between a judge informing voters about his stance on an important legal issue and a judge campaigning for a seat on the bench so he can overturn a partisan map for partisan reasons. Wecht, no surprise, was one of the five justices on the state Supreme Court to vote in favor of tossing the 2011 maps.

What's to be done? One possible solution is to let computers do the dirty work for us. Like with many other jobs that humans don't care to do or don't do very well, computers might actually be pretty good at this whole redistricting thing.

For example, here's the 2011 congressional map side-by-side with a potential district map drawn by a computer algorithm as part of FiveThirtyEight's "Atlas of Redistricting" series (check out the maps for other states here):

The computer-drawn maps would give Democrats an edge in two Philadelphia-based districts, two other districts in the Philly suburbs, and one district centered on Pittsburgh. Republicans would have a clear edge in nine other districts covering most of the rest of the state. That leaves four "highly competitive" districts along the eastern edge of the state, stretching from Scranton and Wilkes-Barre in the northeast to Bucks County just north of Philadelphia. The map would likely leave Republicans with an 11-7 edge in the state's congressional delegation—a margin the GOP should be pleased with, considering that there are more registered Democrats than Republicans in the state—instead of the current 13-5 split.

To my eye, the computer-drawn maps using county lines as their foundation do a nice job of grouping together Pennsylvania's various and often conflicting political communities. I'm not sure this represents the best possible congressional map—in fact, I'm not sure there is such a thing, period—but it's a pretty clear improvement over the cartoonish shapes and Democratic "vote sinks" that defined the 2011 maps.

If Republicans in Pennsylvania's legislature and Democrats in the state's governor's mansion and on the state's high court are unable to reach an agreement on what the new congressional districts should look like, maybe a novel experiment is in order. Put the computers in charge.

06 Feb 03:30

What’s Worse Than Those “My Child Was Almost Snatched at the Store by Sex Traffickers!” Facebook Posts?

by lskenazy

Here’s what’s worse. Join the conversation at Let Grow.



05 Feb 20:52

In just 24 hours, 5,000 Android devices are conscripted into mining botnet

by Dan Goodin

Enlarge (credit: Google)

A fast-moving botnet that appeared over the weekend has already infected thousands of Android devices with potentially destructive malware that mines digital coins on behalf of the unknown attackers, researchers said.

The previously unseen malware driving the botnet has worm-like capabilities that allow it to spread with little or no user interaction required, researchers with Chinese security firm Netlab wrote in a blog post published Sunday. Once infected, Android phones and TV boxes scan networks for other devices that have Internet port 5555 open. Port 5555 is normally closed, but a developer tool known as the Android Debug Bridge opens the port to perform a series of diagnostic tests. Netlab's laboratory was scanned by infected devices from 2,750 unique IPs in the first 24 hours the botnet became active, a figure that led researchers to conclude that the malware is extremely fast moving.

"Overall, we think there is a new and active worm targeting Android systems' ADB debug interface spreading, and this worm has probably infected more than 5,000 devices in just 24 hours," Netlab researchers wrote. "Those infected devices are actively trying to spread malicious code."

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

05 Feb 18:29

Open source turns 20 years old, looks to attract normal people

by Thomas Claburn

Who knew sharing would transform an industry?

Feature  Twenty years ago, the Open Source Definition (OSD) was published, providing a framework for the most significant trend in software development since then, and building upon Richard Stallman's prior advocacy for "free software."…

05 Feb 17:43

Going Viral …

by tonyheller

This video has had 6,000 views so far today. Not sure why …

05 Feb 17:08

Lying, Spying and Hiding

by Judge Andrew Napolitano

I have argued for a few weeks now that House Intelligence Committee members have committed misconduct in office by concealing evidence of spying abuses by the National Security Agency and the FBI. They did this by sitting on a four-page memo that summarizes the abuse of raw intelligence data while Congress was debating a massive expansion of FISA.

FISA is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, which was written to enable the federal government to spy on foreign agents here and abroad. Using absurd and paranoid logic, the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which only hears the government’s lawyers, has morphed “foreign intelligence surveillance” into undifferentiated bulk surveillance of all Americans.

Undifferentiated bulk surveillance is the governmental acquisition of fiber-optic data stored and transmitted by nearly everyone in America. This includes all telephone conversations, text messages and emails, as well as all medical, legal and financial records.

Ignorant of the hot potato on which the House Intelligence Committee had been sitting, Congress recently passed and President Donald Trump signed a vast expansion of spying authorities — an expansion that authorizes legislatively the domestic spying that judges were authorizing on everyone in the U.S. without individual suspicion of wrongdoing or probable cause of crime; an expansion that passed in the Senate with no votes to spare; an expansion that evades and avoids the Fourth Amendment; an expansion that the president signed into law the day before we all learned of the House Intelligence Committee memo.

The FISA expansion would never have passed the Senate had the House Intelligence Committee memo and the data on which it is based come to light seven days sooner than it did. Why should 22 members of a House committee keep their 500-plus congressional colleagues in the dark about domestic spying abuses while those colleagues were debating the very subject matter of domestic spying and voting to expand the power of those who have abused it?

The answer to this lies in the nature of the intelligence community today and the influence it has on elected officials in the government. By the judicious, personalized and secret revelation of data, both good and bad — here is what we know about your enemies, and here is what we know about you — the NSA shows its might to the legislators who supposedly regulate it. In reality, the NSA regulates them.

This is but one facet of the deep state — the unseen parts of the government that are not authorized by the Constitution and that never change, no matter which party controls the legislative or executive branch. This time, they almost blew it. If just one conscientious senator had changed her or his vote on the FISA expansion — had that senator known of the NSA and FBI abuses of FISA concealed by the House Intelligence Committee — the expansion would have failed.

Nevertheless, the evidence on which the committee members sat is essentially a Republican-written summary of raw intelligence data. Earlier this week, the Democrats on the committee authored their version — based, they say, on the same raw intelligence data as was used in writing the Republican version. But the House Intelligence Committee, made up of 13 Republicans and nine Democrats, voted to release only the Republican-written memo.

Late last week, when it became apparent that the Republican memo would soon be released, the Department of Justice publicly contradicted President Trump by advising the leadership of the House Intelligence Committee in very strong terms that the memo should not be released to the public.

It soon became apparent that, notwithstanding the DOJ admonition, no one in the DOJ had actually seen the memo. So FBI Director Chris Wray made a secret, hurried trip to the House Intelligence Committee’s vault last Sunday afternoon to view the memo. When asked by the folks who showed it to him whether it contains secret or top-secret material, he couldn’t or wouldn’t say. But he apparently saw in the memo the name of the No. 2 person at the FBI, Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, as one of the abusers of spying authority. That triggered McCabe’s summary departure from the FBI the next day, after a career of 30 years.

The abuse summarized in the Republican memo apparently spans the last year of the Obama administration and the first year of the Trump administration. If it comes through as advertised, it will show the deep state using the government’s powers for petty or political or ideological reasons.

The use of raw intelligence data by the NSA or the FBI for political purposes or to manipulate those in government is as serious a threat to popular government — to personal liberty in a free society — as has ever occurred in America since Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, which punished speech critical of the government.

What’s going on here?

The government works for us; we should not tolerate its treating us as children. When raw intelligence data is capable of differing interpretations and is relevant to a public dispute — about, for example, whether the NSA and the FBI are trustworthy, whether FISA should even exist, whether spying on everyone all the time keeps us safe and whether the Constitution even permits this — the raw data should be released to the American public.

Where is the personal courage on the House Intelligence Committee? Where is the patriotism? Where is the fidelity to the Constitution? The government exists by our consent. It derives its powers from us. We have a right to know what it has done in our names, who broke our trust, who knew about it, who looked the other way and why and by whom all this was intentionally hidden until after Congress voted to expand FISA.

Everyone in government takes an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. How many take it meaningfully and seriously?

05 Feb 15:59

FDA Begins Implementing Awful Food-Safety Law

by Baylen Linnekin

h/t Whig Zhou

America's farmers are on the alert this week as key provisions of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) begin to take effect. The law, which is being rolled out by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over several years, could have far-reaching implications for who grows—and doesn't grow—the food you buy.

When Congress passed FSMA (pronounced FIZZ-muh) in late 2010—President Obama signed it into law during the first days of 2011—supporters touted the law as the most sweeping update of our nation's food-safety laws in more than 75 years.

But both the law and its implementation are controversial. Many small farmers feared—and still fear—that the new regulations and high costs of complying with the law could squeeze them out of business. As evidence, they point to the giant farms and food producers who supported the law.

While FSMA contains several provisions, one key facet of the law requires the FDA to "establish science-based minimum standards for the safe production and harvesting of fruits and vegetables."

Bigger farms must comply sooner. Hence, as of this week, the produce rules apply only to America's largest farms. That means that this year, farms with more than $500,000 in sales will have to comply with FSMA. Next year, the rules will also cover farms with between $250,000 and $500,000 in sales. And in 2020, the rules will cover very small farms—those with revenue between $25,000 and $250,000.

While this gradual implementation is likely better for small farmers than the alternative—being forced to comply right now—that hasn't allayed their fears.

Many of those fears pertain to compliance costs. The relative compliance costs for small and large farms are stark. As I've noted previously, the FDA estimates FSMA will cost America's small farms about $13,000 each per year and its larger farms about $30,000 per year. That means that for some small farmers, compliance costs could eat more than half of their revenue. For larger farms, compliance costs will amount to less than one percent of revenue.

As I detail in my book, Biting the Hands that Feed Us: How Fewer, Smarter Laws Would Make Our Food System More Sustainable, small farmers' concerns about that part of the law have been legion.

This week, one Maine farmer shared his concerns about the law. Farmer Goran Johanson, while embracing some of what FSMA requires, says the law will place "a huge financial burden on us as farmers." He worries "there could potentially be a lot of infrastructure needs necessary" at his farm, including that he'll have to scrape together funds "to build a new produce packing house that will have washable surfaces on everything, which is an expensive investment."

Just how much will FSMA benefit consumers? According to the FDA itself, not much.

Even if FSMA is implemented perfectly, the law won't make our food supply much safer. That's according to the FDA's best-case estimates which, I wrote in 2014, would mean "a paltry reduction in cases of foodborne illness of between 3.7 percent and 5.4 percent." Again, that's the best-case scenario. A more likely outcome, I estimated, also using FDA data, is that foodborne illness cases might drop by around 2.6 percent.

Why such little impact? As I detailed in 2015, FDA regulations are only capable of preventing, at most, "only one out of every five cases... of foodborne illness." That's because four of every five cases of foodborne illness can be traced to causes that have nothing to do with foods regulated by the FDA.

Congress never should have passed a law with such high costs and such little return.

Around the country, state agriculture departments and agricultural extension agents are working feverishly to help local farmers prepare to comply with the regulations. In five years, when there are even fewer small farmers than there are today, we'll be able to look back to this week as the beginning of that sad and unnecessary end.

05 Feb 15:55

The Real News: FISA Memo Reveals Surveillance State Operates With Virtually No Accountability

by Mike Maharrey

WASHINGTON (Feb. 3, 2018) – Yesterday, the House Intelligence Committee released a declassified memo relating to surveillance of a Trump advisor prior to the 2016 election. The true significance of the memo has already been lost in the noisy debate over Russian ties to the Trump administration. More importantly, the memo reveals that the U.S. surveillance state operates with virtually no accountability or oversight, and serves as a political tool for those in power.

This comes as no surprise to anybody who studies the United States surveillance apparatus. Edward Snowden gave us a peek behind the curtain when he released documents he obtained as an NSA contractor. But the technical nature of the Snowden revelations left most people overwhelmed. It was clear the NSA was overstepping its bounds, but it took a good bit of effort to understand what it all meant.

This memo makes several truths about surveillance starkly obvious.

The memo says the findings it reports “represent a troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the American people from abuses related to the FISA process.

This is inherent in the nature of the FISA law.

The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) oversees “foreign surveillance.” In order for agencies such as the NSA and FBI to spy on Americans, they must get a warrant from the FISC. But as the memo points out, the court can only base its decisions on the information it gets from the agency requesting the warrant. Ultimately, the court depends on complete and honest information from surveillance agencies.

“The public’s confidence in the integrity of the FISA process depends on the court’s ability to hold the government to the highest standard – particularly as it relates to surveillance of American citizens. However, the FISC’s rigor in protecting the rights of Americans … is necessarily dependent on the government’s production to the court of all material and relevant facts.”

The memo makes it sound like the “government” and the FISC are two separate entities. In fact, the judges who sit on the court are politically connected lawyers. The FISC doesn’t exactly operate as an objective third party. Nevertheless, even if we could trust the FISC as an unbiased, objective body committed to protecting our rights, this entire system of secret surveillance depends on the honesty and openness of spy agencies.

It should come as no surprise that as of 2016, the FISC had only denied 51 warrant requests – ever – since its establishment in 1979. Thirty-four of those denials came in a single year – 2016. To put that into perspective, the FISC approved 39,195 requests without modification. That means the court approves 99.998% of the warrant requests. It basically serves a rubber stamp for the FBI, the DOJ and the NSA.

The memo indicates that “material and relevant information was omitted” in the original FISC application to surveil an American citizen, and in the subsequent applications for renewal.

This could certainly explain the court’s high approval rate. In the case of former Trump advisor Carter Page, the FBI and DOJ clearly withheld information that would have increased the likelihood of the court rejecting the warrant request. The bulk of the memo is dedicated to making this case.

The memo reveals a rogue surveillance state. The “safeguards” built into the system are fundamentally flawed. The memo makes clear that an extensive U.S. surveillance apparatus is used for political purposes. It’s clear that the surveillance state operates with virtually no accountability or oversight. And it’s clear that even knowing this, the House Intelligence Committee allowed these surveillance powers to be renewed and expanded.

Last month, Congress reauthorized Sec. 702 of the FISA Amendments Act. This was the legal framework used to authorize the surveillance referenced in the memo. As Andrew Napolitano explained, “the FISA-created process permits a secret court in Washington to issue general warrants based on the government’s need to gather intelligence about national security from foreigners among us. It pretends that the standard is probable cause of foreign agency, but this has now morphed into the issuance of general warrants whenever the government wants them.”

Along with targeted warrants such as the one that authorized the feds to spy on Page, more general FISA warrants authorize government surveillance on all landlines, mobile devices and desktop computers in a given area. While the process was created to monitor foreign agents, it sweeps up reams of data belonging to Americans.

Before approving a six-year extension of Sec. 702, the House voted to kill an amendment that would have overhauled the surveillance program and addressed some privacy concerns. Provisions in the amendment would have required agents to get warrants in most cases before hunting for and reading Americans’ emails and other messages that get swept up under the program.

In fact, the Sec. 702 reauthorization actually codified into law broad interpretations of the act that federal spy agencies had concocted in order to expand their surveillance power. What were previously just the opinions of government lawyers used to expand FISA’s scope have now become the law of the land.

This is yet another indication we can’t count on Congress to limit its spy-programs.

The memo was available to members of the House Intelligence Committee prior to the vote to reauthorize Sec. 702. None of this information was made available to Congress at large. The 22-member intelligence committee decided to sit on it as Congress debated extending (and in fact expanding) FISA authority for six more years. News of the memo’s existence came out the day after Trump signed the reauthorization into law.

This is the real news in the memo. But instead, Americans will focus on political theater, and incessant finger-pointing and blame-gaming between Democrats and Republicans. You will note that the two parties managed to come together to expand the surveillance state. That’s telling.

We cannot depend on Congress to rein in the surveillance state. While the Trump administration feigns outrage over Obama spying, it is almost certainly engaged in the same thing.

We can’t say nobody ever warned us.

In 1975, Sen. Frank Church issued a poignant warning about the surveillance state on NBC Meet the Press, saying it created the potential for “total tyranny.”

If this government ever became a tyranny, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.

He wasn’t wrong.

05 Feb 15:50

Bowel cancer test may be a much better way to screen for polyps


h/t Gpscruise

A new blood test seems to be more than twice as good at detecting bowel cancer than the method currently used to screen for polyps and early bowel cancer
05 Feb 15:44

First method to detect illicit drone filming developed


h/t Gpscruise

(American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev) 'The beauty of this research is that someone using only a laptop and an object that flickers can detect if someone is using a drone to spy on them,' says Ben Nassi, a Ph.D. student in the BGU Department of Software and Information Systems Engineering and a researcher at the BGU Cyber Security Research Center (CSRC). 'While it has been possible to detect a drone, now someone can also tell if it is recording a video of your location or something else.'
05 Feb 15:28

COMPETITION: Peeved by price gouging and shortages, hospitals will now make their own drugs….

by Glenn Reynolds

h/t Jts5665

05 Feb 15:26

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

h/t Jts5665

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

05 Feb 15:24

The EDGE Question—2018

by edge_manager

"One of the most exciting reading streams ever." — Sueddeutsche Zeitung


"Another devilishly clever question—the 'question' question." 
Stanislas Dehaene

"Fascinating...Each one a little cluster bomb of possibilities."
Annalena McAfee

"One of the most stimulating pieces of (collective) writing ever."
Andrian Kreye

"Chrysanthemum" [expand] by Katinka Matson |


After twenty years, I’ve run out of questions. So, for the finale to a noteworthy Edge project, can you ask "The Last Question"? 

Interrogate Reality

Did I say "twenty years"? My strange obsession with the idea of "Question" goes back to 1968 when I first wrote about the idea of interrogating reality 1

"The final elegance: assuming, asking the question. No answers. No explanations. Why do you demand explanations? If they are given, you will once more be facing a terminus. They cannot get you any further than you are at present. 2 The solution: not an explanation: a description and knowing how to consider it.

"Everything has been explained. There is nothing left to consider. The explanation can no longer be treated as a definition. The question: a description. The answer: not explanation, but a description and knowing how to consider it. Asking or telling: there isn’t any difference.

"No explanation, no solution, but consideration of the question. Every proposition proposing a fact must in its complete analysis propose the general character of the universe required for the fact. 3 

"Our kind of innovation consists not in the answers, but in the true novelty of the questions themselves; in the statement of problems, not in their solutions. 4 What is important is not to illustrate a truth—or even an interrogation—known in advance, but to bring to the world certain interrogations . . . not yet known as such to themselves. 5

"A total synthesis of all human knowledge will not result in huge libraries filled with books, in fantastic amounts of data stored on servers. There's no value any more in amount, in quantity, in explanation. For a total synthesis of human knowledge, use the interrogative." 

The conceptual artist/philosopher James Lee Byars contacted me and suggested a collaboration of sorts which resulted in our taking daily walks in Central Park as Byars and I walked and talked, conversing only in interrogative sentences. Does it sound like fun? Want to try it?

James Lee soon began to develop his ideas which led to "The World Question Center":

To arrive at an axiology of the world's knowledge, seek out the most complex and sophisticated minds, put them in a room together, and have them ask each other the questions they are asking themselves.”

On November 26, 1968, he launched "The World Question Center" in a one-hour television program produced in Brussels at the studios of the Belgian National Television Network and broadcast live to a national audience.

Click here to watch

During the hour, he called numerous celebrated intellectuals such as composer John Cage, science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, futurist Herman Kahn, artist Joseph Beuys, novelist Jerzy Kosinski, poet Michael McClure, and asked, in various ways, the following:

"I’m trying to find hypotheses that people are working with that are reduced into some type of very simple single question with no explanation, hopefully, that’s important to them in their own evolution of knowledge. Might you offer one that’s personal?"

For the 50th anniversary of "The World Question Center," and for the finale to the twenty years of Edge Questions, I turned it over to the Edgies:

"Ask 'The Last Question,' your last question, the question for which you will be remembered."

John Brockman
Editor, Edge


1 John Brockman, By The Late John Brockman (New York: Macmillan, 1969)
2 Ludwig Wittgenstein, Zettel, eds. G. E. M. Anscombe and G. H. von Wright, trans. G. E. M. Anscombe(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967), p. 58e, para. 315.  
Alfred North Whitehead, Process And Reality (New York: Harper & Row, 1960), p.17.
4 Paul Valery, The Outlook For Intelligence (New York: Harper & Row, 1962).
5 Alain Robbe-Grillet, For a New Novel, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Grove Press, 1965).  

Russell Weinberger, Associate Publisher
Nina Stegeman, Associate Editor
Katinka Matson, Co-founder & Resident Artist

Thanks to Stewart Brand, Kevin Kelly, and George Dyson for 20 years of advice and support.


What Is The Last Question?

(start reading here)

Contributors: [PAGE 1Scott Aaronson, Anthony Aguirre, Dorsa Amir, Chris Anderson, Ross Anderson, Alun Anderson, Samuel Arbesman, Dan Ariely, Noga Arikha, W. Brian Arthur, Scott Atran, Joscha Bach, Mahzarin Banaji, Simon Baron-Cohen, Lisa Feldman Barrett, Andrew Barron, Thomas A. Bass, Mary Catherine Bateson, Gregory Benford, Laura Betzig, Susan Blackmore, Alan S. Blinder
[PAGE 2Paul Bloom, Giulio Boccaletti, Ian Bogost, Joshua Bongard, Nick Bostrom, Stewart Brand, Rodney A. Brooks, David M. Buss, Philip Campbell, Jimena Canales, Christopher Chabris, David Chalmers, Leo M. Chalupa, Ashvin Chhabra, Jaeweon Cho, Nicholas A. Christakis, David Christian, Brian Christian, George Church, Andy Clark
[PAGE 3] Julia Clarke, Tyler Cowen, Jerry A. Coyne, James Croak, Molly Crockett, Helena Cronin, Oliver Scott Curry, David Dalrymple, Kate Darling, Luca De Biase, Stanislas Dehaene, Daniel C. Dennett, Emanuel Derman, David Deutsch, Keith Devlin, Jared Diamond, Chris DiBona, Rolf Dobelli, P. Murali Doraiswamy, Freeman Dyson, George Dyson
[PAGE 4] David M. Eagleman, David Edelman, Nick Enfield, Brian Eno, Juan Enriquez, Dylan Evans, Daniel L. Everett, Christine Finn, Stuart Firestein, Helen Fisher, Steve Fuller, Howard Gardner, David C. Geary, James Geary, Amanda Gefter, Neil Gershenfeld, Asif A. Ghazanfar, Steve Giddings, Gerd Gigerenzer, Bruno Giussani
[PAGE 5Joel Gold, Nigel Goldenfeld, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, Daniel Goleman, Alison Gopnik, John Gottman, Jonathan Gottschall, William Grassie, Kurt Gray, A. C. Grayling, Tom Griffiths, June Gruber, Jonathan Haidt, David Haig, Hans Halvorson, Timo Hannay, Judith Rich Harris, Sam Harris, Daniel Haun, Marti Hearst, Dirk Helbing
[PAGE 6] César Hidalgo, Roger Highfield, W. Daniel Hillis, Michael Hochberg, Donald D. Hoffman, Bruce Hood, Daniel Hook, John Horgan, Sabine Hossenfelder, Nicholas Humphrey, Marco Iacoboni, Isabel Behncke Izquierdo, Nina Jablonski, Matthew O. Jackson, Jennifer Jacquet, Dale W Jamieson, Koo Jeong-A, Lorraine Justice, Gordon Kane, Stuart A. Kauffman
[PAGE 7] Brian G. Keating, Paul Kedrosky, Kevin Kelly, Marcel Kinsbourne, Gary Klein, Jon Kleinberg, Brian Knutson, Bart Kosko, Stephen M. Kosslyn, John W. Krakauer, Kai Krause, Lawrence M. Krauss, Andrian Kreye, Coco Krumme, Robert Kurzban, Joseph LeDoux, Cristine H. Legare, Martin Lercher, Margaret Levi, Janna Levin
[PAGE 8Andrei Linde, Tania Lombrozo, Antony Garrett Lisi, Mario Livio, Seth Lloyd, Jonathan B. Losos, Greg Lynn, Ziyad Marar, Gary Marcus, John Markoff, Chiara Marletto, Abigail Marsh, Barnaby Marsh, John C. Mather, Tim Maudlin, Annalena McAfee, Michael McCullough, Ian McEwan, Ryan McKay, Hugo Mercier, Thomas Metzinger
[PAGE 9] Yuri Milner, Read Montague, Dave Morin, Lisa Mosconi, David G. Myers, Priyamvada Natarajan, John Naughton, Randolph Nesse, Richard Nisbett, Tor Nørretranders, Michael I. Norton, Martin Nowak, James J. O'Donnell, Tim O'Reilly, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Steve Omohundro, Toby Ord, Gloria Origgi, Mark Pagel, Elaine Pagels, Bruce Parker
[PAGE 10Josef Penninger, Irene Pepperberg, Clifford Pickover, Steven Pinker, David Pizarro, Robert Plomin, Jordan Pollack, Alex Poots, Carolyn Porco, William Poundstone, William H. Press, Robert Provine, Matthew Putman, David C. Queller, Sheizaf Rafaeli, Vilayanur Ramachandran, Lisa Randall, S. Abbas Raza, Syed Tasnim Raza, Martin Rees, Ed Regis, Diana Reiss
[PAGE 11] Gianluigi Ricuperati, Jennifer Richeson, Siobhan Roberts, Andrés Roemer, Phil Rosenzweig, Carlo Rovelli, Douglas Rushkoff, Karl Sabbagh, Todd C. Sacktor, Paul Saffo, Eduardo Salcedo-Albaran, Buddhini Samarasinghe, Scott Sampson, Laurie R. Santos, Robert Sapolsky, Dimitar D. Sasselov, Roger Schank, Rene Scheu, Maximilian Schich, Simone Schnall
[PAGE 12] Bruce Schneier, Peter Schwartz, Gino Segre, Charles Seife, Terrence J. Sejnowski, Michael Shermer, Olivier Sibony, Laurence C. Smith, Monica L. Smith, Lee Smolin, Dan Sperber, Maria Spiropulu, Nina Stegeman, Paul Steinhardt, Bruce Sterling, Stephen J. Stich, Victoria Stodden, Christopher Stringer, Seirian Sumner, Leonard Susskind, Jaan Tallinn,
[PAGE 13Timothy Taylor, Max Tegmark, Richard H. Thaler, Frank Tipler, Eric Topol, Sherry Turkle, Barbara Tversky, Michael Vassar, J. Craig Venter, Athena Vouloumanos, D.A. Wallach, Adam Waytz, Bret Weinstein, Eric R. Weinstein, Albert Wenger, Geoffrey West, Thalia Wheatley, Tim White, Linda Wilbrecht, Frank Wilczek
[PAGE 14] Jason Wilkes, Evan Williams, Alexander Wissner-Gross, Milford H. Wolpoff, Richard Wrangham, Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, Richard Saul Wurman, Victoria Wyatt, Itai Yanai, Dustin Yellin, Eliezer S. Yudkowsky, Dan Zahavi, Anton Zeilinger, Carl Zimmer

(Primary criteria for selection to the 2017 “Global 30” is the influence
on Chinese society. Political figures are not included in the selection.)

Ask the Global 30


Interview  |  Yang Lu


约翰·布罗克曼 John Brockman: Awkwardness, confusion, and contradiction are my three best friends

P: Your friend James Lee Byars believed, that to arrive at a satisfactory plateau of knowledge it was pure folly to go to Widener Library at Harvard and read six million books. Instead, he planned to lock the 100 most brilliant minds in the world in a room and have them ask one another the questions they'd been asking themselves. The expected result—in theory—was to be a synthesis of all thought. But it didn't work out that way. Byars did identify his 100 most brilliant minds and phoned each of them. The result: 70 hung up on him.

You created the website which is very similar to Byars’s idea. Why did you succeed?

B: I had gotten to know the founders of the major internet companies when they were starting out and before they became successful. The founders of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Tesla, have all attended my annual "Billionaires' Dinner." I am, according to software visionary and father of hypertext Ted Nelson, "the shadowy figure at the top of the cyber-food chain."

Ten years after the late artist-philosopher James Lee’s informed failure, I created an informal gathering of intellectuals who met from 1981 to 1996 in Chinese restaurants, artist lofts, investment banking firms, ballrooms, museums, living ­­rooms and elsewhere. Reality Club members presented their work with the understanding that they would be challenged. The hallmark of The Reality Club was rigorous and sometimes impolite (but not ad hominem) discourse. The motto of the Club was inspired by James Lee:

To arrive at the edge of the world's knowledge, seek out the most complex and sophisticated minds, put them in a room together, and have them ask each other the questions they are asking themselves. 

If you were left with the chance of asking only one fundamental question about the future of humanity, which one would it be? That's exactly what legendary American literary agent John Brockman wanted to know of freethinkers, scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs moving at and across the very borders of modern thought. We present their best answers – in question form.
What is a philosopher? Philosophers are people who formulate questions in a way that they can’t be answered unequivocally. This may sound problematic but is undoubtedly a high art. The classical example, in Leibniz's words, is as simple as it is beautiful: Why is there something and not nothing? Later, Immanuel Kant called the art of such questions metaphysics and recognized in it the opposite of science – namely a "natural system" of man. Reason is beset by questions that it cannot reject and just as little can answer. In the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant draws a clear line between knowledge and speculation. But it is precisely this line that has become fragile with the life sciences, with information theory and digital technology.
[ Continue... ]
Schirrmacher's Heritage
By Andrian Kreye February 9, 2018
A book of essays claims the authority to interpret, carries the militant title "Reclaim Autonomy”, and demands self-empowerment.
The questions of how science and technology are transforming life and society are among the greatest intellectual challenges that surprisingly few of today's intellectuals take on. One of the first to do so was FAZ editor Frank Schirrmacher, who died in 2014. So it was not only an gesture of respect, but also an attempt at a programmatic continuation, when the publisher of the weekly Freitag, Jakob Augstein, dedicated a symposium on digital debate to Frank Schirrmacher.

[ Continue... ]


Is the answer that we have run out of good questions?
By Kenan Malik February 17, 2018

John Brockman has run out of questions. Brockman, a literary agent, runs the science and philosophy site Every year for 20 years, he has asked leading thinkers to answer a particular question, such as: “What questions have disappeared?” or: “What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?” This year, though, Brockman announced that he has no more questions left. So he asked his final question: “What is the last question?”

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers,” Voltaire insisted. Questions help us define what we don’t know and force us or others to justify what we think we do know.

Asking questions is relatively easy. Asking good questions is surprisingly difficult. A bad question searches for an answer that confirms what we already know. A good question helps to reset our intellectual horizons. It has an answer that we can reach, yet unsettles what we already know.

The last of Edge
By Arcadi Sword February 6, 2018

Since 1998...the editor John Brockman has asked these questions on his Edge page ( ) to a hundred long intellectuals...

Brockman...says he has run out of questions and this year he has launched the last one. The question is, obviously: What is the last question? A chrysanthemum is the flower that Katinka Matson has chosen for her ritual illustration. There are many answers to look for. This is from Ryan Mckay , a psychologist at the University of London: "Will we be one of the last generations to die?" Of Robert Sapolsky, neuroscientist at Stanford: "Given the nature of life, the purposeless indifference of the universe and our absolute lack of free will, how is it possible that most people are not clinically depressed?" But the best last question, of a Leibnizian nature, is that of the MIT physicist Frank Wilczek. Given its monumental size it is understandable that answering it can never be among the obligations that a newspaper has contracted with the news.


05 Feb 13:55

How “open source” was coined

by Eric Raymond

Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the promulgation of the term “open source”. Three days before that, Christine Peterson published How I coined the term ‘open source’ which apparently she hd written on 2006 but been sitting on since.

This is my addition to the history; I tried to leave an earlier version as a comment on her post but it disappeared into a moderation queue and hasn’t come out.

The most important point: Chris’s report accurately matches my recollection of events and I fully endorse it. There are, however, a few points of historical interest that can be added.

First, a point of fact. Chris doesn’t remember for sure whether it was me or Todd Anderson that first brought up the need for a new umbrella term to replace “free software”.

It was me, and it was me for a reason. In those very early days I was ahead of the rest of our leadership in understanding a few critical things about our new circumstances. Others eventually did catch up, but at the time of this meeting I think I was the only person there who had fully grasped that what we needed to take our folkways mainstream we needed a full-fledged marketing and rebranding campaign.

That insight was driving my thinking, and led me directly to the conclusion that we needed a better label for the brand.

It was a little tricky for me to talk about this insight explicitly, and I mostly didn’t. Because I also knew that in the minds of the people in that room, and most other hackers, “marketing and rebranding” was a negative idea heavily tied to fakery and insincerity. I couldn’t blame them for this; I’d had to struggle with the concept myself before making some peace with it. But…I was unable to evade the historical moment, and saw what was needed.

Therefore, I had the dual challenge of trying to lead a rebranding campaign while easing hackers into comfort with the idea of rebranding. That meant not pushing too hard or too fast – choosing my interventions carefully and allowing other people to catch up with the implications in their own ways.

Chris couldn’t read my mind, so she had no way to know that I spotted “open source” as the winner we were looking for the first or second time the phrase was mentioned – well before I explicitly advocated for it myself. It seemed perfect to me – ideologically neutral, easy to parse, and with just enough connection to an already respectable term of art (that is, intelligence-community use of “open source”) to be useful.

There was also something right about the use of “open” that I couldn’t pin down exactly at the time. I knew this was an adjective with a lot of positive loading attached in the hacker culture, but I was not then clear on the exact psychology. Now I think I understand that better – it evokes the Big Five trait “openness to experience”, which we value a lot. That particular term didn’t exist yet in 1998, but the connotative web that would later give rise to it did.

In accordance with my strategy of wu wei I hung back a little and let other people there gravitate to “open source”, rather than pushing for it as hard as I could have right out of the gate. I would have fought for it over the alternatives if I’d had to, but I didn’t…we all got there and that was a far healthier outcome than if I had tried to dominate the discussion.

I’m telling this story this way because, now that Chris has admitted she was being a bit stealthy about getting the term adopted, she deserves to know that I was being a bit stealthy myself – for reasons that seemed good at the time and still do in retrospect.

The rest of the story is more public. A few weeks later what was in effect a war council of the hacker community’s chieftains, convened by Tim O’Reilly, voted to endorse the new term and in effect gave me a mandate to go out and evangelize it. Which of course I did; the rest is both metaphorically and literally history.

I think Chris is fully entitled to her happy twinge. From the perspective of twenty years later, “open source” was a smashing success, fully justifying both her and my hopes for what we could do with this rebranding.

Without Chris, I would have had to come up with something as good as “open source” myself in order to get the mission done. Maybe I would have, maybe not. I’m glad we didn’t have to roll those dice; I’m glad Chris nailed it for all of us.

Ever since I was first reminded that it was her coinage I’ve been careful to credit Chris for it. I was impressed with her for the invention, and that developed into a friendship that we both value.

01 Feb 16:46

Tipping point 10 years on: Who won the Armstrong-Gore “bet” on the climate?

by admin

The Challenge

In 2007, University of Pennsylvania Professor J. Scott Armstrong challenged former U.S. Vice President Albert Gore to a bet on what would happen to global average temperatures over the next 10 years. Professor Armstrong’s challenge was in response to Mr. Gore’s warning of a looming dangerous “tipping point” in temperatures. But when even scientists who are expert in a field make predictions about complex situation without using scientific forecasting methods, their forecasts have no value. The proposed $10,000 bet, then, was intended to draw attention to the need to assess the predictive validity of climate forecasts in an objective manner.

Emails to Mr. Gore were unproductive: after several attempts at engagement, his staff informed Professor Armstrong that Mr. Gore did not take bets. The important question of whether public policies should be based on the alarming projections had not gone away, however, and so Armstrong commissioned site to track how the bet would have turned out had Gore accepted.

At the time of the challenge, Mr. Gore had been warning that climate was warming at such a rate that large public expenditures were needed in great haste in order to prevent disaster. His book Assault on Reason—published in April 2007—stated on p. 204: “Many scientists are now warning that we are moving closer to several ‘tipping points’ that could – within as little as ten years – make it impossible for us to avoid irretrievable damage of the planet’s habitability for human civilization.”

Formulating The Climate Bet

Mr. Gore did not quantify his dangerous warming forecast, and so the “business as usual” projection provided by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Third Assessment Report in 2001 was used to represent his forecast. Using the IPCC projection of 3°C per-century warming favored Mr. Gore’s side of the bet because it was considerably less dramatic than the “tipping point” claims he was articulating and some of the IPCC’s own more extreme projections.

Professor Armstrong’s side of the bet was that the global average temperature would not change. The no-change forecast is consistent with a statement in the body of the aforementioned IPCC technical report. The report stated, “In climate research and modeling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.” In other words, forecasting long-term trends in climate is impossible and, by implication, forecasting long-term changes in global mean temperatures is impossible.

The IPCC statement is also consistent with Green, Armstrong and Soon’s (2009) conclusion that the forecast of no-change in global temperatures over the long term would be hard to beat in terms of accuracy, even when applied to the U.K. Met Office Hadley Centre’s questionable annual average temperature data—based on adjusted thermometer readings from selected sites from 1850—that is used by the IPCC. Green, Armstrong and Soon found that no-change forecasts were so accurate for practical purposes—e.g., average errors of only +/- 0.24°C for 50-year-ahead forecasts—that there would be no point in trying to do better.

The IPCC 3°C-per-century projection not only ignored their own authors’ conclusion about the inability to predict long-term trends, their procedures violated 72 of 89 relevant forecasting principles (Green and Armstrong 2007). As a consequence, there is no reason to expect the IPCC dangerous warming projection to be accurate over the long term, and thus no good reason for using it as the basis for policy.

Global temperatures have always varied on all time scales, however, so it was quite possible that Armstrong would lose a ten-year bet when temperatures have commonly drifted up or down by 0.3°C over ten-year periods in the past. A 150-year simulation of the bet suggested that his chance of winning was only about 70%.

Determining the Winner

In the end, the bet was offered, and monitored, on the basis of satellite temperature data from the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH). In contrast to surface data, the lower troposphere satellite data covers the whole Earth, is fully disclosed, and is not contaminated by poor maintenance and location of weather stations, changes from mercury to electronic measurement, and unexplained adjustments.

The cumulative absolute error (measure 1 in the table) was the key criterion for assessing accuracy. That measure has been tested and shown to be the best way to compare the accuracy of forecasts from different forecasting methods (Armstrong and Collopy 1992). By that measure, the no-change forecast reduced forecast errors by 12% compared to the IPCC dangerous warming projection. Forecasting models that cannot provide forecasts that are more accurate than the no-change forecast have no practical value.

The finding is consistent with Green and Armstrong’s 2014 analyses that compared the predictive validity of the no-change and IPCC forecasts over different time periods. The Loehle AD16 to 1935 temperature series was used to compare the accuracy of the global warming, global cooling, and no change forecasts over horizons from one to 100 years ahead; the no-change hypothesis was much more accurate than the global cooling hypothesis of 1°C-per-century cooling, which, in turn, was much more accurate than the global warming hypothesis of 3°C-per-century warming.

Alternative Measures of Winning

There are other ways that one might assess accuracy, especially since the bet was tracked each month, but the outcome is clear: there was no dangerous “tipping point” over the ten-year period. Global temperatures fell well within the range of natural variation. Seven alternative measures are presented in the table below so that readers can make their own assessments.

See the Golden Rule of Forecasting, here.

The second and third measures in the table provide measures of bias in the forecasts. By both measures, the no-change forecast is substantially (18% and 79%) less biased.

Another way to look at bias is shown in the chart: the blue shading indicates the difference between the Armstrong/no-change forecast and the actual temperature when the forecast was too warm, and the red shading indicates the difference between the Gore/IPCC projection and the actual temperature when the projection was too cold. A perfectly unbiased forecast would have 50% over- and 50% under-forecast errors. The sum of the Armstrong/no-change over-forecast-errors was 41% of the corresponding total absolute error, whereas the sum of the Gore/IPCC under-forecast-errors was only 14%. In other words, the Armstrong/no-change model produced forecasts that were close to unbiassed over the 10 year period, whereas the Gore/IPCC model projection was grossly biassed to forecast too warm, to the extent that the Gore/IPCC error from forecasting too warm was six times larger than the error from forecasting too cool.

How would planners who had relied on the official IPCC projection have fared? Looking again at the chart, planners would have expected “extra” warmth represented by the area of the triangle between the red IPCC line and the green no-change line (19.8). The extra warmth actually experienced over the period is represented by the area between the black actual temperature line and the green line: the area above the green no-change line, less the area below the no-change line (3.47). In other words, planners relying on the IPCC projection would have experienced less than 18% of the extra warmth that they had planned for.

Those who insist on looking for a trend in the decade of seesawing temperatures will find no support for either a “tipping point,” or the IPCC’s dangerous warming trend projection, in the best-fit line, which runs at a rate of little more than 1°C per-century[i]. As the footnote to the table explains, the fitted ordinary least squares (OLS) trend from the 2007 annual average base was 1.53°C per-century, and the least absolute deviation fitted (LAD) trend was 1.17°C per-century. When the bet forecasts are assessed against the OLS trend, the Gore/IPCC 3°C per-century projection is slightly closer (measure 5 in the table), but the Armstrong/no-change forecast is 44% closer to the more relevant LAD trend (measure 6). (Why would decision makers want to minimize squared errors?) Moreover, the trend line for the period of the bet was closer to no-change than was the trend over the entire UAH temperature anomaly series to the end of 2017.

The arbitrariness of fitting a trend—by whatever method—to such a series is reinforced by the fact that if the bet had been for five years, rather than 10, the fitted trend would have been negative: -1.13°C per century (LAD), or -1.61°C per century (OLS). Note also that on 10 February 2007, Sir Richard Branson was accompanied by Mr. Gore when he stated that the “world may already have crossed a ‘tipping point’”, and so one might ask whether the temperature at the end of the bet was dramatically higher that it was then, when the January 2007 UAH figure of 0.43°C had just been released. The answer is no: the December 2017 figure was lower at 0.41°C.

The Future of The Climate Bet

Longer is better for assessing climate forecasts, and so site will monitor the “bet” in line with Scott Armstrong’s offer to extend the challenge for another ten years by sticking with the original 2007 annual average global temperature as the starting point. Extending the bet is intended to help further publicize the important role of scientific validation of forecasts that influence public policy. Policymakers should reject forecasts that fail to reduce errors compared to an appropriate no-change benchmark.

Kesten C. Green
26 January, 2018
5 February, 2018 (extended analysis)


[i] Technical note to facilitate replication: The Climate Bet was framed in terms of what would happen to temperatures relative to the 2007 average, the year in which Mr. Gore warned of a “tipping point” and Professor Armstrong tried to get him to engage in a bet. Logically, then, if one insists on fitting a line through such a volatile time series, the starting point should represent the situation at the time the claim (tipping point) and challenge (offer of bet were made). The Gore tipping point claim was made in early 2007, so one could make a case for fitting trend lines with an origin at .43C (January 2007) but, given that discussions proceeded over the 2007 year and that monthly temperatures are so volatile, the 2007 average was chosen as the base for the bet; hence, also, as the value of Professor Armstrong’s no-change forecast, and the origin for trend line fitting. Given that the data are monthly and the origin was an annual average, lines are fitted with the origin located in mid-2007. A close look at the chart reveals that the red IPCC/Gore +3°C per century line is also projected on that basis: it is slightly above the green no-trend/2007-average line at the beginning of 2008.

25 Jan 22:11

Who'd Have Thought? Scarce Resources Are Still Scarce Even (Especially) When They Are Free

by admin

h/t Whig Zhou

Via Mark Perry, this chart from socialized Canadian medicine:

In his article Mark also has a letter to a woman telling her the wait for an appointment would be 4.5 years.


19 Jan 15:40

BBC, media suddenly join TRF: Craig Wright created the Bitcoin

by Luboš Motl

Some of the counter-arguments are still on the table, so I've got an open mind (leaning "yes") about whether Wright is or isn't Satoshi, but this article is amusing.

In December 2015, you could read my comments why
I would bet: Sydney climate skeptic is the father of the Bitcoin
At that time, lots of tech media mentioned the emerging evidence that Craig Steven Wright (*1970) created the world's most famous cryptocurrency but almost all of them were mostly skeptical and those who were not skeptical were sort of dismissed.

Five months ago, Wright wasn't loudly boasting – and he wasn't even explicitly admitting – that he was the father of the Bitcoin. However, he didn't say "No", either, and the dominant theme in the newspaper articles was that "he created some bogus evidence that would make others think that he was the creator of the Bitcoin".

I just found such a theory analogous to the conspiracy theories about the moonlanding staged by Hollywood in Nevada.

Much like it is easier and more straightforward to actually build and send some rockets to the Moon (the laws of physics make it clear that it may be done and it isn't infinitely different from the airplanes) than to create a network that convinces hundreds and then billions of people that they're taking a part in a great engineering event that isn't real, it just seems much more straightforward to actually write the paper and the programs; than to create a fake life consistent with someone's being the father of the Bitcoin.

Today, the BBC has shown Wright who explicitly said he was Satashi Nakamoto, the artistic name of the previously unknown father(s) of the Bitcoin (some other people made the decision for him to reveal the secret now), and the media suddenly seem to be in a full consensus that the father of the Bitcoin has been found, after all. In front of the eyes of many journalists, he did something that may be described as "the usage of some Bitcoins known to be owned by the founder of the Bitcoin only".

He owns about one-seventh of the Bitcoins in the world – which puts his net worth at $400 million and he may have shown some public key proving that he, Wright (nicknamed Nakamoto), initiated the first Bitcoin transaction in the history.

Some new technical evidence may have been shown (Wright's signature method to prove that he is Satoshi that was posted on his website is a cryptographic tour-de-force by itself; Wright has also signed the Genesis block [a joke] later on Monday) and some Bitcoin experts were persuaded (Gavin Andresen, the #1 powerful Bitcoin research+trading guy, said that he was certain that Satoshi was Wright; Jon Matonis, another Bitcoin big shot, said that the proof was conclusive). Amusingly enough, Gavin Andresen – the top authority currently quoted to confirm the Satoshi=Wright theory now, was the main authority quoted by the New Yorker and others against the theory four months ago. ;-)

But all these things are somewhat vague and hard to verify by a journalist who doesn't really understand how the cryptographic keys work and whether this or that coincidence may be faked. That's why I find the sudden "phase transition" or "paradigm shift" making the journalists say "yes, it is him" to be similarly irrational as the skepticism of the same body of journalists five months ago. If they had at least partially rational reasons to be deeply uncertain 5 months ago, they should still be uncertain.

The best explanation of the "paradigm shift" is that the journalists are basically mindless parrots who copy things from each other. Almost every journalist basically realizes that he is a stupid scumbag who must rely on some better people, so he has some "better journalists" from whom it's always OK to copy the stories uncritically. So the world of journalism is secretly hierarchical and the phase transition was simply caused by some people's (at the BBC?) getting persuaded.

Journalists' lousy work is one part of the December 2015 skeptical opposition. The other, perhaps more important, part of the opposition were the Bitcoin cultists who were imagining (without any glimpse of evidence) that Mr Nakomoto had to be some angel or semi-god flying above the Earth, a saint who would never try to earn any money in controversial ways or obtain undeserved subsidies, someone whose scholarly credentials and the general brightness must be so amazing that every person around him or her would immediately see the aura and the divine character of Mr Nakamoto. No one could ever name the father of the Botcoin The Australian Nobody, they believe. The similarity between this type of a Nakomoto cult and the Islamic or even Christian religions – and other examples of the irrational mass brainwashing powered by a wishful thinking – is hopefully self-evident. I do think that most of the folks at the Bitcoin Reddit forums may be classified as these religious nutcases.

Well, it isn't the case. Wright's credentials are cool and sufficient (and I agree with lots of his previous "boasting" that he was the best man in the world in certain related skills) but the attitude, drive, and cleverness of an auto-didact, a locally important entrepreneur, and the alumnus of some universities of the regional importance was simply enough (or exactly the "right thing") to create the Bitcoin. Whether you decide to say that it means that the Bitcoin isn't as divinely ingenious as previously claimed; or that Craig Wright isn't the kind of a mediocre tech guy as he was being painted by many people who knew him, it's up to you.

Nevertheless, if the identification of Nakamoto is right as most people believe today, the huge metaphysical gap between the Bitcoin on one side and Craig Wright (or similar tech people) on the other side has been a complete superstition. The Bitcoin is something that a good enough specialized programmer of this kind simply may create rather easily. And yes, things like Facebook are even more straightforward.

The main difference between Zuckerberg and Wright is that Zuckerberg's identity and wealth has been known from the first successful moments of the Facebook, and most of the people surrounding him were always licking his rectum, with a clear motivation – to get some droplets from the wealth. On the other hand, people didn't know that Wright was sitting on $400 million so they were not praising him and licking his rectum so vigorously. Zuckerberg's (and others') more shining aura (relatively to wright) is mainly a consequence of the aßlicking maneuvers. If your buttocks were licked by thousands of people in the environment for many years, you would shine, too (try it).

We will see whether many people start to do these things to Wright now (he says that he will try to avoid all such things) – and whether the Bitcoin cultists reconcile themselves with the fact that the father of their favorite toy is a human being – one that also wanted to get wealthier at some moments in the past – and not a divine one.

Congratulations to Mr Wright for his groundbreaking contribution to the industry of e-currencies and I wish him lots of peace and isolation from the obnoxious people!

My congratulations are tripled if Craig Wright is also the hacker who is behind the 2009 ClimateGate. I've presented some hints in the previous blog post about him.

Despite my wishes of privacy, I am sure that Wright will be getting the same treatment as J.C. in the song above for quite some time! ;-)

P.S.: in the BBC interview, Wright says that he preferred to be kept in secret and he would prefer that status now, too. Why should one take credit? Well, on one hand, I do think that there could have been other, less impressive and more mundane reasons why he didn't reveal his identity earlier. On the other hand, this belief in the privacy is very natural, I understand it, and you surely should expect it from the father of an important cryptocurrency, shouldn't you? What he says makes so much sense from his viewpoint – although many other people actually like or need to get the credit for their contributions.

By the way, this comment "it's right and natural not to get outed" has implications for many more questions, e.g. for gays. I do think it's OK – and probably more right – when gays keep their sexual orientation as their private secret, for example. People's personalities are different, some of them want private things to remain private and others are extroverts. But with all the gay parades and the completely indefensible boasting, we have surely entered the era of excessive gay (and related) exhibitionism.

An actual Satoshi Nakamoto.

Wright also says that he should only pay taxes from this rather new and abstract asset class when the wealth is actually "deployed"; and he makes himself saint in the financial sense now (he needs neither fame and adoration nor money; the latter is easier to do so with a $400 million pillow) and says that he will reject any Nobel, Turing, Abel, or other prizes. I am also promising that once I have a $400 million pillow, I will reject all these prizes. ;-) Wright has also made the dramatic statement that he will never allow any TV camera to shoot him again.
19 Jan 00:11

We Are in a Radical, New Industrial Revolution

(via Risk Bites) What is the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and why should you care? Risk Bites takes a look at how converging technologies are radically changing our world, and the unique challenges and opportunities that we’re facing as a result.
19 Jan 00:04

Stossel: The Southern Poverty Law Center Scam

by ReasonTV

There are dangerous hate groups in America. So a group called the Southern Poverty Law Center promises to warn us about them. They release an annual list of hate groups in America.

The media cover it, but John Stossel says they shouldn't. It's a scam.


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The Southern Poverty Law Center lists Ayaan Hirsi Ali — who grew up Muslim in Somalia and suffered female genital mutilation — as an "anti-Muslim extremist." Just because she now speaks out against radical Islam.

They also list the conservative Family Research Council as a "hate group."

That listing led a man to go to the Council's office to try to gun down their workers. The shooter later told law enforcement that he picked the group because he saw they were on the Southern Poverty Law Center's hate map and he wanted to fight bigots.

Stossel disagrees with the Family Research Council on many issues. But he says they don't deserve to be called haters. The group's Executive Vice President, Jerry Boykin, tells him: "I don't hate gay people, and I know gay people, and I have worked with gay people."

Another group that the Southern Poverty Law Center smears is the Ruth Institute. The group argues that gays shouldn't have the same rights to adopt. But does that make them haters? No, says founder Jennifer Morse: "I have no problem with gay people. That's not the issue."

Other reporters, such as Megyn McArdle at Bloomberg, have also pointed out that the group is an odd fit for a "hate" list.

There are many non-hateful groups on the Southern Poverty Law Center's hate list. But Antifa, which clearly is a hate group, is not on the list.

The Southern Poverty Law Center wouldn't talk to Stossel about their listings. Stossel says screaming "hate!" brings in money.

Morris Dees, the Center's founder, pays himself nearly half a million dollars a year. Although Dees once promised that when the Center's endowment reached $50 million, he'd stop fundraising, he didn't stop. Now the Center has $320 million dollars stashed away -- much of it in the Cayman Islands. It's all in their tax returns.

Stossel notes that they still con people into giving them even more money. Apple gave them $1 million last year.

He says the Southern Poverty Law Center has become a hate group itself. It is now a left-wing, money grabbing, slander machine.

Produced by Maxim Lott. Edited by Joshua Swain.
18 Jan 23:28

‘Flaws in Applying Greenhouse Warming to Climate Variability’, a post-mortem paper by Dr. Bill Gray

by Anthony Watts
Personal Note: Dr. Gray was in the process of writing up the results discussed below when he passed away in 2016. Before he died, he asked us to compile his figures and preliminary text into a paper to be posted online. We have attempted to maintain his writing style and the tone that we think he would have…
18 Jan 03:17

Using Pink and Blue to Denote Sex Declared ‘Bias Incident’ at Williams College

by Mike LaChance
"the school has declared a number of things to suddenly be horrible"
17 Jan 15:30

Ep. 1074 Libertarians Have a Class Theory, Too (and It’s Better Than Marx’s)

by Tom Woods

With the idea of class so central to Marxian theory, libertarians might be tempted to ignore class as a category. But there is in fact such a thing as libertarian class theory, because in libertarian theory there are distinct groups of exploiters and exploited. Gary Chartier joins me to discuss the history and development of libertarian class theory.

About the Guest

Gary Chartier is Associate Dean and Distinguished Professor of Law and Business Ethics at the Tom and Vi Zapara School of Business at La Sierra University, and holds his PhD and LLD from the University of Cambridge.


Skillshare is an online learning community with over 16,000 classes in design, business, and more. Get three months of Skillshare for 99 cents by going to

Book Discussed

Social Class and State Power: Exploring an Alternative Radical Tradition, eds. David M. Hart, Gary Chartier, Ross Kenyon, and Roderick T. Long

Book Mentioned

In Restraint of Trade: The Business Campaign Against Competition, 1918-1938, by Butler Shaffer

Guest’s Website

Guest’s Twitter


Other Books by the Guest

Anarchy and Legal Order
Radicalizing Rawls: Global Justice and the Foundations of International Law
The Conscience of an Anarchist

Episode Mentioned

Ep. 90 Was Marx Right? (Peter Klein)

Previous Appearances

Ep. 387 What Rights Are, Where They Come From, and Whether Animals Have Them
Ep. 292 Anarchy and the Law (Gary Chartier)
Ep. 148 Libertarian: Thick or Thin? (Gary Chartier)
Ep. 129 Righting Rawls (Gary Chartier)
Ep. 25 Do We Need the State? (Gary Chartier)

Free Resources!

1) Free guide on how to start your blog or website. Click here to get it. Plus, check out my step-by-step video taking you from no blog to a blog in about five minutes!

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Audio by Chris Williams Audio.

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16 Jan 20:56

Ph.D. Climate Scientist: Modern Warming Natural…CO2 Changes Affect Climate ‘Weakly At Most’

by Kenneth Richard

New Paper Spurns Anthropogenic CO2 Warming,

Unveils Natural Explanation For Climate Change

University of California (Santa Cruz) Professor W. Jackson Davis (Ph.D.), President of the Environmental Studies Institute, has published a new paper with colleagues in the journal Climate that thoroughly undermines the conceptualization of a dominant role for anthropogenic CO2 in the global warming since 1850.

Davis points out that CO2 and global temperature have been “decoupled” throughout much of geological history, and that the amplification of CO2 concentrations yields increasingly smaller radiative effects, meaning that the higher the CO2 concentration rises, the weaker its influence.

He even suggests that the reason why the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hypothesis (it has not reached theoretical status) has been popularized is because there are reputed to be no convincing alternative explanations.

But Davis and two other University of California (SC) scientists have proposed a newly-termed alternative explanation for the 0.8°C global temperature change since 1850.  The Antarctic Centennial Oscillation (ACO) has been identified as varying in sync with solar cycles (orbital), and correlates with glacial-interglacial transitions, the 1,500-year abrupt, global-scale temperature changes (Dansgaard-Oeschger cycles), and, as the name suggests, century-scale fluctuations in global temperature.

Consequently, as the authors conclude, properties of the ACO “can explain the current global warming signal”.

Davis et al., 2018


[T]he contemporary global warming increase of ~0.8 °C recorded since 1850 has been attributed widely to anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. Recent research has shown, however, that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has been decoupled from global temperature for the last 425 million years [Davis, 2017] owing to well-established diminishing returns in marginal radiative forcing (ΔRF) as atmospheric CO2 concentration increases. Marginal forcing of temperature from increasing CO2 emissions declined by half from 1850 to 1980, and by nearly two-thirds from 1850 to 1999 [Davis, 2017]. Changes in atmospheric CO2 therefore affect global temperature weakly at most.

The anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hypothesis has been embraced partly because “…there is no convincing alternative explanation…” [USGCRP, 2017] (p. 12).

The ACO provides a possible alternative explanation in the form of a natural climate cycle that arises in Antarctica, propagates northward to influence global temperature, and peaks on a predictable centennial timetable.


We report a previously-unexplored natural temperature cycle recorded in ice cores from Antarctica—the Antarctic Centennial Oscillation (ACO)—that has oscillated for at least the last 226 millennia. Here we document the properties of the ACO and provide an initial assessment of its role in global climate. We analyzed open-source databases of stable isotopes of oxygen and hydrogen as proxies for paleo-temperatures. We find that centennial-scale spectral peaks from temperature-proxy records at Vostok over the last 10,000 years occur at the same frequencies (±2.4%) in three other paleoclimate records from drill sites distributed widely across the East Antarctic Plateau (EAP), and >98% of individual ACOs evaluated at Vostok match 1:1 with homologous cycles at the other three EAP drill sites and conversely.

The period and amplitude of ACOs oscillate in phase with glacial cycles and related surface insolation associated with planetary orbital forces. We conclude that the ACO: encompasses at least the EAP; is the proximate source of D-O oscillations in the Northern Hemisphere; therefore affects global temperature; propagates with increased velocity as temperature increases; doubled in intensity over geologic time; is modulated by global temperature variations associated with planetary orbital cycles; and is the probable paleoclimate precursor of the contemporary Antarctic Oscillation (AAO). Properties of the ACO/AAO are capable of explaining the current global warming signal.

12 Jan 20:18

In Defense of Musical Ripoffs

by Jesse Walker

Radiohead is reportedly suing Lana Del Rey because her song "Get Free" sounds a lot like Radiohead's old hit "Creep." As Reason's Ed Krayewski noted earlier this week, Radiohead itself was successfully sued a while back because "Creep" sounds a lot like the Hollies' "The Air I Breathe." I don't think anyone has ever sued the Hollies for "The Air I Breathe," though I wouldn't be surprised to learn that there's a Roy Orbison song somewhere that sounds almost exactly like it.

The courts have been getting more strict about this kind of thing recently, with Marvin Gaye's estate winning a case against Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke over a song that copied the "feel" but not the actual notes of Gaye's "Got to Give It Up." In a better world, the law would be growing more tolerant of this sort of imitation, not more restrictive. Much of the evolution of music is driven by people making tiny tweaks as they slavishly copy each other. A pop world without any plagiarism would be barren indeed.

This is most obvious when it comes to musical patterns that have been around too long for anyone to hold a copyright on them. (If someone actually owned the I-IV-V blues progression, he could buy Bill Gates with enough left over to make a down payment on the Moon.) When Jay Miller wrote and Kitty Wells recorded "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels," for example, they didn't hide the fact that they were using the exact same melody as Hank Thompson's hit "The Wild Side of Life"; their song, after all, was a direct response to and comment on Thompson's record. But the tune was a lot older than "The Wild Side of Life"—that same series of notes had also been used in "Great Speckled Bird," "I'm Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes," and other old country songs. Indeed, the melody goes back to England. A lawsuit would have disappeared into a never-ending search for the original composer.

But not every pilfered melody comes from the public domain. Listen to "Express Yourself," a top 5 R&B hit for Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band in 1970. Then listen to Jean Knight singing "Mr. Big Stuff," the #1 soul single of 1971. Seriously: Click the links and listen. They're the same goddamn song. "Mr. Big Stuff" came out less than a year after "Express Yourself," with a completely different set of songwriters credited; and yet nobody sued. Who knows: Maybe there's some older ur-funk record that Knight and Wright were both swiping. If so, Knight kept on swiping it: She recorded several barely-masked rewrites of "Mr. Big Stuff," because why mess with success?

Song-clones like that aren't especially unusual, and a good DJ can spend hours seguing from one of them to another. But I'll give you just one more example—probably my favorite one. Here's Lyn Collins, a protégé of James Brown, singing a song called "Me and My Baby":

You know that old South Park joke that if you want to write a Christian pop song, you should just take a love song and change every "baby" to "Jesus"? Here's country star Tom T. Hall seeming to prove the point:

He doesn't quite prove the point, because I think he wrote his song first. Both records came out in 1972, but "Me and Jesus" grazed the bottom of the Billboard charts in May; "Me and My Baby" didn't show up in Billboard til the fall. So this is probably a case of someone changing "Jesus" to "baby," not the other way around. The intro to Collins' record certainly sounds like she had church on her mind.

But I'm not going to complain about Collins ripping off Hall. You know why? Because Collins' song is better. Tom T. Hall is one of my favorite songwriters, but "Me and Jesus" isn't one of his better efforts. The lyrics are kind of rote, and the melody is gospel-by-numbers. (An exercise for the reader: Extend the chain of ripoffs backward by finding some older gospel records that sound like Hall's tune.) If Collins stole his song, she made it sharper and funkier in the process.

Maybe Collins and company should've given Hall a songwriting credit. Maybe not. I'm just glad they had the freedom to borrow it and improve it. I hate the thought that a fear of Grammy-chasing attorneys might dissuade today's pop artisans from doing the same.

(For past editions of the Friday A/V Club, go here.)

12 Jan 17:19

Project Veritas exposes Twitter 'shadow-banning'


No surprise. This is why I removed myself from Twitter several years ago. and are censorship resistant alternatives that make use of the Steem block chain. And they also distribute crytpocurrency to reward users for contributing and evaluating content.

Twitter, which piously professes strict political neutrality, practices significant censorship.
12 Jan 17:12

BWC – Interview with Dr. Craig S. Wright

by Jimmy Nguyen - Chief Executive Officer

nChain’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Craig Wright, is known for his strong advocacy for Bitcoin (and in particular, Bitcoin Cash, which he believes represents the true spirit of Bitcoin). However, he doesn’t often speak about his own belief system and perspectives.

In this podcast with Bitcoin Will Come, Dr. Wright sits down with George Samuels to dive deeper into his early involvement with cryptocurrency and his outlook for 2018. Watch the video below. 

The post BWC – Interview with Dr. Craig S. Wright appeared first on nChain.