Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Thursday, November 20, 2014
Back in May, the US government began to process a bill aimed at reining in the NSA’s powers of surveillance — if Google, Apple and Microsoft are sending group letters, you know it’s an important bill. However, it’s been left on Capitol Hill, rejected by the Senate. It failed a procedural vote, after senior Republicans said it would affect efforts to defend the country from enemies. It fell short of the 60 votes needed, gathering 58 to 42 votes.
Gruber referred to “lack of transparency” as key to passing Obamacare at several academic conferences in 2012. He also made explicit reference to the “stupidity of the American voter” as “critical to getting this thing passed.”
Although Obama claims that Gruber was merely “some advisor” who “never worked on our staff,” Gruber is actually an MIT economist who helped create the Obamacare law. The Obama administration had paid Mr. Gruber $380,000 in 2009, cited him several times in hearings and White House blogs, and even dedicated a webpage to his expert analysis. Visitor logs show Gruber meeting repeatedly with senior officials at the White House including one meeting with President Obama.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Steam is rising over Discworld, driven by Mister Simnel, the man with a flat cap and a sliding rule. He has produced a great clanging monster of a machine that harnesses the power of all of the elements—earth, air, fire, and water—and it’s soon drawing astonished crowds.
To the consternation of Ankh-Morpork’s formidable Patrician, Lord Vetinari, no one is in charge of this new invention. This needs to be rectified, and who better than the man he has already appointed master of the Post Office, the Mint, and the Royal Bank: Moist von Lipwig. Moist is not a man who enjoys hard work—unless it is dependent on words, which are not very heavy and don’t always need greasing. He does enjoy being alive, however, which makes a new job offer from Vetinari hard to refuse.
Moist will have to grapple with gallons of grease, goblins, a fat controller with a history of throwing employees down the stairs, and some very angry dwarfs if he’s going to stop it all from going off the rails . . .
Monday, November 17, 2014
Friday, November 14, 2014
Thursday, November 13, 2014
The European Space Agency’s Philae lander has sent back the first ever image from the surface of a comet.
The picture shows the cracked, bumpy surface in monochrome, with one of Philae’s three legs in the bottom left of the frame. It is not yet clear whether the leg in the image is actually touching the surface. What is certain is that Philae is not level, and may be wedged into a pit.
“We’re either looking into a ditch or we are against a wall,” said ESA Rosetta project scientist Matt Taylor.
Comets are often described as “dirty snowballs”, irregular blocks of ice covered with dust and rocks, but no human craft has ever reached the surface of one before.
Scientists re-established communications with Philae on Thursday after an anxious overnight wait while its mothership Rosetta, which relays the signals to Earth, dipped below the comet’s horizon.
Unfortunately, big businesses too often think about how the government can help their bottom line instead of what’s best for the little guy. As a result of a well-orchestrated media campaign, the FCC is on the cusp of reclassifying ISPs under Title II of the Communications Act to enact net neutrality so Big Internet doesn’t have to pay its share of traffic. Ultimately, the change would empower the government to regulate the business models of private ISPs, chaining the Internet to one-size-fits all solutions for millions of customers with different needs.
Internet giants love to scaremonger the public into believing that a world without net neutrality would lead to customers being charged different data plans for the amount of internet they use, much like cell phone companies currently do. The problem with this argument is that we already live in this world, and it is largely not the case. Most Internet subscribers pay a monthly fee that entitles them to as much data as they desire, and that will likely not change anytime soon.
Asked by Beck for his thoughts on the Second Amendment, Carson gave the popular pro-gun argument: “There’s a reason for the Second Amendment; people do have the right to have weapons.”
But when asked whether people should be allowed to own “semi-automatic weapons,” the doctor replied: “It depends on where you live.”
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
As the power of the Dark One grows stronger, Rand al'Thor and his friends face greater challenges in their war against the Shadow. From the halls of Tar Valon, where the Aes Sedai mystics discover agents of darkness in their own ranks, to the Aiel Waste, where a hidden city holds secrets forbidden to all but a few, Rand and his companions seek to fulfill the destiny laid out for them. Jordan's multivolume epic continues to live up to its high ambitions.
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Peter Mayhew and Jerome Blake during Star Wars Weekends at Disney MGM Studios (now Hollywood Studios) in Orlando Florida in 2004.
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Former Congressman Ron Paul told RT in the midst of Tuesday’s midterm elections that the “monopoly” system run by the leaders of the two main parties is all too evident as Americans go to the polls this Election Day.
“This whole idea that a good candidate that’s rating well in the polls can’t get in the debate, that’s where the corruption really is,” Paul, the 79-year-old former House of Representatives lawmaker for Texas, told RT during Tuesday’s special midterm elections coverage. “It’s a monopoly…and they don’t even allow a second option,” he said.
“If a third party person gets anywhere along, they are going to do everything they can to stop that from happening,” the retired congressman continued.
A half-starved young Russian man in a long black overcoat is smuggled into Hamburg at dead of night. He has an improbable amount of cash secreted in a purse round his neck. He is a devout Muslim. Or is he? He says his name is Issa.
Annabel, an idealistic young German civil rights lawyer, determines to save Issa from deportation. Soon her client’s survival becomes more important to her than her own career—or safety. In pursuit of Issa’s mysterious past, she confronts the incon- gruous Tommy Brue, the sixty- year-old scion of Brue Frères, a failing British bank based in Hamburg.
Annabel, Issa, and Brue form an unlikely alliance—and a triangle of impossible loves is born. Meanwhile, scenting a sure kill in the so-called War on Terror, the spies of three nations converge upon the innocents.
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
Jerome Blake and Peter Mayhew at Star Wars Weekends 2004 at Disney MGM Studios (now Hollywood Studios) in Orlando, Florida
Monday, November 3, 2014
In September, both Apple and Google announced plans to encrypt information on iOS and Android devices by default. Almost immediately, there was a collective freakout by law enforcement types. But, try as they might, these law enforcement folks couldn’t paint any realistic scenario of where this would be a serious problem. Sure, they conjured up scenarios, but upon inspection they pretty much all fell apart. Instead, what was clear was that encryption could protect users from people copying information off of phones without permission, and, in fact, the FBI itself recommends you encrypt the data on your phone.
But it didn’t stop FBI director James Comey from ignoring the advice of his own agency and pushing for a new law that would create back doors (he called them front doors, but when asked to explain the difference, he admitted that he wasn’t “smart enough” to understand the distinction) in such encryption.
As of this writing, wunderkind statistician Nate Silver puts the GOP chance of retaking control of the Senate in tomorrow’s midterm elections at 68.5 percent and trending upward. The New York Times model is similarly optimistic for Republicans, and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is so close to Senate Majority Leader that he’s probably daydreaming about it right now.
Yes, the GOP is likely to win the Senate tomorrow. But if the Republican establishment keeps failing to live up to its limited government rhetoric, who cares?
Sure, many politicians in the Republican Party talk a good talk. The problem is that—for most of them—it’s nothing but talk.