Thursday, August 28, 2014

How U.S. Interventionists Abetted the Rise of ISIS

How U.S. Interventionists Abetted the Rise of ISIS

As the murderous, terrorist Islamic State continues to threaten Iraq, the region and potentially the United States, it is vitally important that we examine how this problem arose. Any actions we take today must be informed by what we’ve already done in the past, and how effective our actions have been.

Shooting first and asking questions later has never been a good foreign policy. The past year has been a perfect example.

In September President Obama and many in Washington were eager for a U.S. intervention in Syria to assist the rebel groups fighting President Bashar Assad’s government. Arguing against military strikes, I wrote that “Bashar Assad is clearly not an American ally. But does his ouster encourage stability in the Middle East, or would his ouster actually encourage instability?”

The administration’s goal has been to degrade Assad’s power, forcing him to negotiate with the rebels. But degrading Assad’s military capacity also degrades his ability to fend off the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. Assad’s government recently bombed the self-proclaimed capital of ISIS in Raqqa, Syria.

To interventionists like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, we would caution that arming the Islamic rebels in Syria created a haven for the Islamic State. We are lucky Mrs. Clinton didn’t get her way and the Obama administration did not bring about regime change in Syria. That new regime might well be ISIS.

This is not to say the U.S. should ally with Assad. But we should recognize how regime change in Syria could have helped and emboldened the Islamic State, and recognize that those now calling for war against ISIS are still calling for arms to factions allied with ISIS in the Syrian civil war. We should realize that the interventionists are calling for Islamic rebels to win in Syria and for the same Islamic rebels to lose in Iraq. While no one in the West supports Assad, replacing him with ISIS would be a disaster.

Our Middle Eastern policy is unhinged, flailing about to see who to act against next, with little thought to the consequences. This is not a foreign policy.

Congress proposes new law prohibiting body armor in the Land of the Free

Congress proposes new law prohibiting body armor in the Land of the Free

H.R. 5344 is a bill currently going through Congress that would ban the purchase of body armor.

Violation would carry CRIMINAL penalties, including up to ten years in prison.

Many bullet-resistant items on the market now, such as bulletproof backpacks for school children, would be banned by this legislation.

This is incredible given that the legislation is all about banning something that is purely defensive.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Nerd Fest 2014 - Brevard Busking Coalition

Nerd Fest 2014 - Brevard Busking Coalition

Brevard Busking Coalition at the first annual Nerd Fest in Melbourne, Florida.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

County will not pay medical bills for toddler hurt in Habersham raid

County will not pay medical bills for toddler hurt in Habersham raid

Habersham County officials say they do not plan to pay for the medical expenses of a toddler seriously injured during a police raid.

Bounkham Phonesavah, affectionately known as “Baby Boo Boo,” spent weeks in a burn unit after a SWAT team’s flash grenade exploded near his face. The toddler was just 19-months-old and asleep in the early morning hours of May 28. SWAT officers threw the device into his home while executing a search warrant for a drug suspect.

Habersham County officials are defending their decision not to pay, but the child’s family isn’t giving up.

Gov. Nixon Calls For ‘Vigorous Prosecution’ Of Darren Wilson

Gov. Nixon Calls For ‘Vigorous Prosecution’ Of Darren Wilson

Not content with a regular prosecution or a vigorous investigation, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said he hopes that Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson will receive a “vigorous prosecution” in the shooting death of Michael Brown on Aug. 9.

“A vigorous prosecution must now be pursued,” Nixon said in a five minute video address posted to his website Tuesday.

“The democratically elected St. Louis county prosecutor and the attorney general of the United States each have a job to do,” said Nixon, a Democrat.

“Their obligation to achieve justice in the shooting death of Michael Brown must be carried out thoroughly, promptly, and correctly,” said Nixon of investigators.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder plans to visit Ferguson on Wednesday to meet with federal law enforcement officials and community leaders. Forty FBI investigators traveled to Ferguson over the weekend to interview witnesses.

Nixon has not directly justified his call for a strong prosecution. He has not indicated that he has any information on the shooting that has not been made public.

Wilson, a six-year police veteran with a clean disciplinary record, has not even been arrested or charged with a crime. A grand jury is set to convene on Wednesday to determine if he will be charged.

Wilson, who is on paid leave during the investigation, has reportedly claimed that he shot Brown after the man hit him in the face and struggled to gain control of his service weapon.

Several eye-witnesses who gave media interviews shortly after the shooting have said that Brown was surrendering with his hands up as Wilson shot him.

Wilson is reportedly claiming the Brown ran towards him before the fatal shots were fired. The interviewed witnesses have claimed that they did not see Brown running at Wilson. An unnamed witness unwittingly captured on video talking about what he saw unfold said that he saw Brown move towards Wilson.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Militarization of U.S. Police: Finally Dragged Into the Light by the Horrors of Ferguson

The Militarization of U.S. Police: Finally Dragged Into the Light by the Horrors of Ferguson

The harrowing events of the last week in Ferguson, Missouri – the fatal police shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager, Mike Brown, and the blatantly excessive and thuggish response to ensuing community protests from a police force that resembles an occupying army – have shocked the U.S. media class and millions of Americans. But none of this is aberrational.

It is the destructive by-product of several decades of deliberate militarization of American policing, a trend that received a sustained (and ongoing) steroid injection in the form of a still-flowing, post-9/11 federal funding bonanza, all justified in the name of “homeland security.” This has resulted in a domestic police force that looks, thinks, and acts more like an invading and occupying military than a community-based force to protect the public.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson

The Malazan Empire simmers with discontent, bled dry by interminable warfare, bitter infighting and bloody confrontations. Even the imperial legions, long inured to the bloodshed, yearn for some respite. Yet Empress Laseen's rule remains absolute, enforced by her dread Claw assassins.

For Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his squad of Bridgeburners, and for Tattersail, surviving cadre mage of the Second Legion, the aftermath of the siege of Pale should have been a time to mourn the many dead. But Darujhistan, last of the Free Cities of Genabackis, yet holds out. It is to this ancient citadel that Laseen turns her predatory gaze.

However, it would appear that the Empire is not alone in this great game. Sinister, shadowbound forces are gathering as the gods themselves prepare to play their hand . . .

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Neal Stephenson's Next Book - Seveneves

On occasion I'll do a little snooping around the net to see what my favorite authors are working on and when their next book might be out. Some of my favorite authors, like Tolkien and Dickens, are dead so I don't really expect to find much in the way of new material. For others, like George R. R. Martin, the question isn't usually "what" but "when" and that's usually a mystery until you have it in your hands.

Then there are those like Neal Stephenson, author of such incredible books as Snow Crash , Cryptonomicon , Anathem and the The Baroque Cycle (among others). It always seems to be a bit of a mystery as to what he is working on. However, after clicking on an obscure PDF in a footnote for his Wikipedia entry I found the following:

Stephenson, Neal / SEVENEVES
Morrow, ed. Jennifer Brehl, Winter 2015
When the moon blows up, the earth’s atmosphere is predicted to go through changes that
will eventually lead to a Hard Rain, a meteorite storm that could last for thousands of years,
rendering the earth’s surface uninhabitable. In preparation, the nations of the earth send an
ark of humans to an International Space Station. But the Station isn’t immune to the
galactic catastrophe and many of its people are lost, mostly men. When stability is reached,
only seven humans remain, all of them women. Jump forward thirty thousand years. Two
peoples exist: those who survived on Earth, living rustic, primitive lives; and those who
derived from the Seven Eves of the space station, affluent, sophisticated, organized sects
looking to colonize the surface of earth. Stephenson’s next novel is an epic potboiler, with
political and military intrigue, and plenty to say about evolution, genetic engineering, and
civilization as we know it.

That of course led me to google for "Seveneves" and I found the following:

Noah’s Ark . . . 30,000 years after the flood.
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Anatham, Reamde, and Cryptonomicon comes an exciting new science fiction epic that tells of global disaster, the near-extinction of all life on Earth, and the seven valiant survivors who battle against all odds to save the human race.

And it seems to even be available for pre-order on Amazon (though it doesn't show up as an entry on his author page): Seveneves

Some more info gleaned from above:

On Sale Date: 4/14/15
Imprint: Willaim Morrow
Print Run: 250K
Format: HC
Pages: 1056
Price: $35.00
ISBN: 62190377
ISBN 13: 9780062190376
Other Formats
Ebook 9780062190413

So it looks like we another epic science fiction (or speculative fiction if you prefer) masterpiece coming from Neal Stephenson next spring! If it is half as good as those mentioned above it will be outstanding.

Info, February 1992

Info, Issue Number 47, February 1992

By this time, Info was exclusively covering the Amiga.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Federal Aid Is Likely Driving College Costs Up

Federal Aid Is Likely Driving College Costs Up

Federal financial aid for higher education was supposed to grow the market, bring down costs and help families afford this critical step to financial security.

But a recent report finds the effort to provide educational assistance to students has turned into decades of unaccountable federal spending on higher education.

According to the report from the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, the federal student aid system “contributes to skyrocketing costs, finances a wasteful academic arms race, weakens academic standards, lowers educational opportunity, and worsens the underemployment/overinvestment problem.”

Friday, August 8, 2014

Liberty Defined by Ron Paul

In Liberty Defined, congressman and #1 New York Times bestselling author Ron Paul returns with his most provocative, comprehensive, and compelling arguments for personal freedom to date.

The term "Liberty" is so commonly used in our country that it has become a mere cliché. But do we know what it means? What it promises? How it factors into our daily lives? And most importantly, can we recognize tyranny when it is sold to us disguised as a form of liberty?

Dr. Paul writes that to believe in liberty is not to believe in any particular social and economic outcome. It is to trust in the spontaneous order that emerges when the state does not intervene in human volition and human cooperation. It permits people to work out their problems for themselves, build lives for themselves, take risks and accept responsibility for the results, and make their own decisions. It is the seed of America.

Nerd Fest 2014

Nerd Fest 2014

Walking around at the first annual Nerd Fest in Melbourne, Florida.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Gauntlet / R.B.I. Baseball (NES)

Advertisement for Gauntlet and R.B.I. Baseball by Tengen for the NES from the February/March 1988 issue of Nintendo Fun Club News.

Friday, August 1, 2014

NASA Probes Record Sounds In Space – And It’s Terrifying.

NASA Probes Record Sounds In Space – And It’s Terrifying.

Another mom arrested for sending her kid to the park

Another mom arrested for sending her kid to the park

“I’m totally dumbfounded by this whole situation,” says Nicole Gainey. She’s not the only one. The Port St. Lucie, Florida, mom was arrested on Saturday for letting her 7-year-old son, Dominic, walk alone — in the daytime, with a cellphone — a half-mile to a local park. “I honestly didn’t think I was doing anything wrong,” she says. “I was letting him go play.”

During his approximately 10-minute walk, the boy passed by a public pool, where a patron asked him where his mother was and other questions. As he told a local news station, “I got scared and ran off to the park, and that’s when they called the cops.” Police picked up the boy at the park, brought him home and arrested his mother for felony child neglect. In their report, police noted that “numerous sex offenders reside in the vicinity.” Gainey says the cops “just kept going over that, you know, there’s pedophiles,” which sounds to me like the kind of problem that perhaps there’s a better approach to than whisking kids off playgrounds and arresting mothers. The state’s sttorney’s office notes that there is no law regarding how old children can be before they can travel unaccompanied.