Wednesday, September 30, 2015



Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Anathem, Reamde, and Cryptonomicon comes an exciting and thought-provoking science fiction epic—a grand story of annihilation and survival spanning five thousand years.

What would happen if the world were ending?

A catastrophic event renders the earth a ticking time bomb. In a feverish race against the inevitable, nations around the globe band together to devise an ambitious plan to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere, in outer space.

But the complexities and unpredictability of human nature coupled with unforeseen challenges and dangers threaten the intrepid pioneers, until only a handful of survivors remain . . .

Five thousand years later, their progeny—seven distinct races now three billion strong—embark on yet another audacious journey into the unknown . . . to an alien world utterly transformed by cataclysm and time: Earth.

A writer of dazzling genius and imaginative vision, Neal Stephenson combines science, philosophy, technology, psychology, and literature in a magnificent work of speculative fiction that offers a portrait of a future that is both extraordinary and eerily recognizable. As he did in Anathem, Cryptonomicon, the Baroque Cycle, and Reamde, Stephenson explores some of our biggest ideas and perplexing challenges in a breathtaking saga that is daring, engrossing, and altogether brilliant.

Enter – Issue Number 17 – May 1985

Enter – Issue Number 17 – May 1985

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

X-Files Trailer Reunites Mulder, Scully, Skinner & Smoking Man

X-Files Trailer Reunites Mulder, Scully, Skinner & Smoking Man

Fox has unveiled the first trailer for its upcoming revival of “The X-Files,” which is set to premiere in January 2016. The network debuted the two-part promo during episodes of its Monday night shows “Gotham” and “Minority Report.”

The new footage captures the same air of mystery and paranoia that became a hallmark of the sci-fi procedural, with plenty of callbacks to the original series, including Mitch Pileggi’s Walter Skinner and the return of the villainous Smoking Man (William B. Davis).

“In 2002, our investigation ceased, but my personal obsession did not,” David Duchovny’s Fox Mulder intones at the start of the trailer. “They police us and spy on us, tell us that makes us safer – we’ve never been in more danger.”

It’s not long before Mulder reunites with former partner (both professionally and personally) Dana Scully, played by Gillian Anderson, who warns him, “You are on dangerous ground here.”

Fox will present the first episode of the hotly-anticipated revival at New York Comic-Con on Oct. 10, following its worldwide premiere at MIPCOM in Cannes, France on Oct. 6.

N.J. Supreme Court expands police authority for warrantless car searches

N.J. Supreme Court expands police authority for warrantless car searches

The state Supreme Court on Thursday overturned its own 2009 decision on warrantless car searches, broadening police authority to search vehicles based on probable cause.

The 5-2 decision, stemming from the case of a Salem County man who was charged with illegal handgun possession following an unrelated motor vehicle stop, was praised by the state Attorney General as a fix that helps law enforcement.

Civil rights advocates, however, decried it as a rollback of civil liberties in the state.

William L. Witt was pulled over on Route 48 in Carneys Point in December 2012 after he approached a police officer with his high beams on and “failed to dim” as he passed. After speaking with Witt, the officer concluded he was intoxicated, performed a field sobriety test and placed him under arrest.

While searching the car for evidence of open container alcohol consumption, the officer found a handgun in the center console.

Witt sought at trial to suppress the gun on the ground that police performed an unreasonable search in violation of the the state constitution, and a state appeals court panel found in May of last year the officer did not meet the “exigent circumstances” standard for warrantless searches spelled out in a 2009 decision by the Supreme Court.

That decision, known as State v. Pena-Flores, found police must obtain a warrant to search a vehicle unless they have both probable cause to believe the vehicle contains evidence and can demonstrate “exigent circumstances” such as time constraints or safety concerns that would justify performing a warrantless search.

The state Attorney General’s Office had argued the Pena-Flores decision was “unworkable” because of the difficulty of obtaining warrants on the fly and had led to “unintended negative consequences.”

Justice Barry T. Albin, writing the majority decision, found the standard applied in the 2009 decision “does not provide greater liberty or security to New Jersey’s citizens and has placed on law enforcement unrealistic and impracticable burdens.”

The court also found the 2009 standard had the unintended consequence of causing an “exponential increase in police-induced consent automobile searches,” suggesting that police officers may be pressuring motorists to volunteer for searches rather than take time to obtain a warrant.

“The heavy reliance on consent searches is of great concern given the historical abuses associated with such searches and the potential for future abuses,” Albin wrote.

Federal law allows for warrantless vehicle searches based on probable cause, and New Jersey’s two-pronged standard has long been considered added protection for motorists.

Trump Proposes Replacing Obamacare with Government-Funded Universal Healthcare

Trump Proposes Replacing Obamacare with Government-Funded Universal Healthcare

On Sunday’s episode of 60 Minutes on CBS, Donald Trump said that “Obamacare is a disaster” and that he plans to repeal it and replace it with a government-funded universal healthcare plan.

During the lengthy interview, CBS correspondent Scott Pelley asked billionaire real estate mogul and 2016 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump his position on healthcare reform.

“Obamacare’s going to be repealed and replaced. Obamacare is a disaster if you look at what’s going on with premiums where they’re up 40, 50, 55 percent,” replied Trump.

Pelley then pressed him to offer his own specific plan for fixing the U.S. healthcare system.

Trump began explaining, “There’s many different ways, by the way. Everybody’s got to be covered. This is an un-Republican thing for me to say because a lot of times they say, ‘No, no, the lower 25 percent that can’t afford private.’ But…”

Pelley then interrupted, noting that Trump was describing a universal healthcare plan.

Trump continued, “I am going to take care of everybody. I don’t care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.”

Poll: Clinton tops Trump in general election

Poll: Clinton tops Trump in general election

Hillary Clinton would beat Donald Trump in a general election match-up if the election were held today, a new poll shows.

Clinton beats Trump, 49% to 39%, head-to-head. She would be neck-and-neck with other GOP contenders — including former tech CEO Carly Fiorina (45% to Clinton’s 44%), retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson (46% to Clinton’s 45%), former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (44% to Clinton’s 45%).

But if Vice President Joe Biden runs for president, he’d enter the race as the most popular presidential candidate, according to the NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey.

Clinton’s favorability rating is underwater: 39% of voters view her favorably, while 47% say they see the former secretary of state unfavorably.

But Trump’s problem is much bigger. He’s seen favorably by 25% of the general electorate, compared to unfavorably by 58%.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Cobweb by Neal Stephenson and J. Frederick George

When a foreign exchange student is found murdered at an Iowa University, Deputy Sheriff Clyde Banks finds that his investigation extends far beyond the small college town—all the way to the Middle East. Shady events at the school reveal that a powerful department is using federal grant money for highly dubious research. And what it’s producing is a very nasty bug.

Navigating a plot that leads from his own backyard to Washington, D.C., to the Gulf, where his Army Reservist wife has been called to duty, Banks realizes he may be the only person who can stop the wholesale slaughtering of thousands of Americans. It’s a lesson in foreign policy he’ll never forget.

The X-Files Newbie Recap: “3” & “One Breath”

The X-Files Newbie Recap: “3” & “One Breath”

Beyond Oasis (Sega Genesis)

Beyond Oasis (Sega Genesis)

Friday, September 25, 2015

EPA’s fondness for high-end furniture costs taxpayers $92 million

EPA’s fondness for high-end furniture costs taxpayers $92 million

The federal agency that has the job of protecting the environment doesn’t seem to have too much concern for trees, at least the ones cut down to make furniture.

The Environmental Protection Agency over the past decade has spent a whopping $92.4 million to purchase, rent, install and store office furniture ranging from fancy hickory chairs and a hexagonal wooden table, worth thousands of dollars each, to a simple drawer to store pencils that cost $813.57.

The furniture shopping sprees equaled about $6,000 for every one of the agency’s 15,492 employees, according to federal spending data made public by the government watchdog

And the EPA doesn’t buy just any old office furniture. Most of the agency’s contracts are with Michigan-based retailer Herman Miller Inc. According to the contracts, the EPA spent $48.4 million on furnishings from the retailer known for its high-end, modern furniture designs.

Just one of Herman Miller’s “Aeron” office chairs retails for nearly $730 on the store’s website. The EPA has spent tens of thousands of dollars to purchase and install those types of chairs in its offices.

The agency also paid another high-end retailer, Knoll Inc., nearly $5 million for furnishings. Knoll is known for its specialized modern furnishings, and 40 of its designs are on permanent display in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

“While private companies and citizens face more and more hardship from government regulation, the EPA literally sits in the easy chair,” said Adam Andrzejewski, founder of “The EPA can’t relate to the financial hardships regular Americans face. It’s Herman Miller furniture for the bureaucrats, but Ikea for the taxpayers.”

For spending tens of millions of dollars to furnish federal buildings like Wall Street hedge fund offices at taxpayers’ expense, the EPA wins this week’s Golden Hammer, a weekly distinction awarded by The Washington Times highlighting the most egregious examples of wasteful federal spending.

US Cops Raid Native American Reservation, Destroy their Medicine and Eradicate Entire Industry

US Cops Raid Native American Reservation, Destroy their Medicine and Eradicate Entire Industry

The Pinoleville Pomo Nation made headlines earlier this year when they announced that they will be growing medical marijuana on their reservation.

Aided by a Kansas company called FoxBarry that helps Native American tribes develop for-profit ventures, and United Cannabis, a Colorado company that develops strains of pot, the Pinoleville Pomo Nation set out to make history.

Although the partnership with FoxBarry and United Cannabis would be short lived, the Pinoleville marijuana farm was well on its way to being the first large-scale medical pot cultivation and distribution enterprise on tribal land in California.

The new operation, on their sovereign land, would benefit those in need as well as create jobs and revenue for the downtrodden tribe. It was a win-win.

However, this mutually beneficial endeavor would be short-lived thanks to tyrants whose job it is to attack people for growing and selling a plant to willing customers.

On Tuesday, courageous deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office invaded the sovereign nation and trespassed on native land to destroy everything that this tribe has built.

According to the Press Democrat:

Deputies eradicated some 400 pot plants from an outdoor location. At another location, they began dismantling a “highly sophisticated” chemical laboratory where honey oil — a sticky, concentrated pot product used to make edible medicine— was being manufactured under the auspices of the Pinoleville Pomo Nation, said Sheriff’s Capt. Greg Van Patten. More than 100 pounds of trimmed and drying marijuana also was found inside the laboratory building, a former car dealership on North State Street.

The tribal leaders immediately denounced the raid, stating that their operation was legal.

“I think what they’re doing is not right,” said Nori Baldridge, the tribe’s director of economic development. “This is sovereign land, and this is a sovereign nation,” she said.

“We were shocked,” said Mike Canales, president of the tribe’s business board.

Canales rightfully contests the legal basis for the raid as the Sheriff’s department does not have any authority over the tribal land or its people.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

How shall we begin?

This is the story of a book called The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy—not an Earth book, never published on Earth and, until the terrible catastrophe occurred, never seen or even heard of by any Earthman. Nevertheless, a wholly remarkable book.


This is the story of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a number-one best seller in England, a weekly radio series with millions of fanatic listeners, and soon to be a television spectacle on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.


This is the story of Arthur Dent, who, secnds before Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, is plucked off the planet by his friend, Ford Prefect, who has been posing as an out-of-work actor for the last fifteen years but is really a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Together they begin a journey through the galaxy aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, with the words don’t panic written on the front. (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.”)

In their travels they meet:

•Zaphod Beeblebrox—the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch President of the Galaxy
•Trillian—Zaphod’s girl friend, formerly Tricia McMillan, whom Arthur once tried to pick up at a cocktail party
•Marvin—a paranoid android, a brilliant but chronically depressed robot
•Veet Voojagig—former graduate student obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years

To find the answers to these burning questions: Why are we born? Why do we die? And why do we spend so much time in between wearing digital watches? read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. But remember . . . don’t panic, and don’t forget to bring a towel.

RUN – Issue Number 90 – March April 1992

RUN – Issue Number 90 – March April 1992

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

New US-Trained Rebels in Syria Gave Their Weapons to al-Qaeda

New US-Trained Rebels in Syria Gave Their Weapons to al-Qaeda

It’s already been heavily reported how badly the first class of New Syrian Forces (NSF), also known as Division 30, did after being trained by the US and sent into Syria. There were 54 of them to start, and last week Centcom conceded there were only “four or five left.” This may still look like a runaway success compared to the second class.

The second class entered Syria by way of Turkey on Friday, and according to reports there were between 70 and 75 of them in total. Today, reports out of Syria suggest that the group immediately took its weapons and vehicles to al-Qaeda territory and turned them all over to them.

A statement from al-Qaeda’s Syria branch said the group’s membership had agreed to give them everything in return for “safe passage,” and that the leader of the second class, Anas Ibrahim Obeid, plans to issue a statement repudiating the US training strategy.

Obeid told al-Qaeda he “tricked” the US coalition because he wanted their weapons.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Applying UML and Patterns by Craig Larman

Applying UML and Patterns is the world’s #1 business and college introduction to “thinking in objects”—and using that insight in real-world object-oriented analysis and design. Building on two widely acclaimed previous editions, Craig Larman has updated this book to fully reflect the new UML 2 standard, to help you master the art of object design, and to promote high-impact, iterative, and skillful agile modeling practices.

Developers and students will learn object-oriented analysis and design (OOA/D) through three iterations of two cohesive, start-to-finish case studies. These case studies incrementally introduce key skills, essential OO principles and patterns, UML notation, and best practices. You won’t just learn UML diagrams—you’ll learn how to apply UML in the context of OO software development.

Drawing on his unsurpassed experience as a mentor and consultant, Larman helps you understand evolutionary requirements and use cases, domain object modeling, responsibility-driven design, essential OO design, layered architectures, “Gang of Four” design patterns, GRASP, iterative methods, an agile approach to the Unified Process (UP), and much more.

Electronic Gaming Monthly – Issue Number 87 – October 1996

Electronic Gaming Monthly – Issue Number 87 – October 1996

Monday, September 21, 2015

Planet Labs takes rash of launch failures in stride

Planet Labs takes rash of launch failures in stride

No one had ever lost 26 satellites at once until a launch failure bit Planet Labs last year, temporarily setting back the San Francisco startup’s ambition to map the globe every day.

Adding to the sting of last year’s Antares rocket crash in Virginia, Planet Labs lost another eight spacecraft aboard a failed launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster in June.

They were mass-casualty events, at least for the little robots Planet Labs is constructing and deploying around the planet to survey every part of Earth with unparalleled regularity.

With a fresh batch of shoebox-sized craft now safely aboard the International Space Station after launching Aug. 19 inside Japan’s HTV cargo craft, Planet Labs is ready to take a big step in recovering from losing two cadres of Earth observing satellites in the last year.

A display commemorating last October’s explosive Antares accident — complete with a haunting image of the Antares rocket immersed in a fireball — hangs in the lobby of Planet Labs headquarters in downtown San Francisco. Wreckage of the Planet Labs birds scoured from the Wallops Island beach near the Antares launch pad sits on a rack in a corner of the company’s workshop.

The group of 14 satellites launched by the HTV puts Planet Labs over the century mark. The successful delivery makes it 101 Planet Labs satellites successfully placed into orbit — some have already re-entered — and the latest group will be ejected this fall from pods mounted to the space station’s Japanese robotic arm.

Planet Labs’ satellites, called Doves by company insiders, go through design overhauls every few months. The craft are based on the CubeSat form factor, and engineers have figured out how to pack powerful new technologies inside the CubeSat’s compact dimensions.

With high-speed data links to beam back images to a network of ground stations around the globe, the satellites are now on their 12th generation

U.S. Soldiers Told to Ignore Sexual Abuse of Boys by Afghan Allies

U.S. Soldiers Told to Ignore Sexual Abuse of Boys by Afghan Allies

In his last phone call home, Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr. told his father what was troubling him: From his bunk in southern Afghanistan, he could hear Afghan police officers sexually abusing boys they had brought to the base.

“At night we can hear them screaming, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it,” the Marine’s father, Gregory Buckley Sr., recalled his son telling him before he was shot to death at the base in 2012. He urged his son to tell his superiors. “My son said that his officers told him to look the other way because it’s their culture.”

Rampant sexual abuse of children has long been a problem in Afghanistan, particularly among armed commanders who dominate much of the rural landscape and can bully the population. The practice is called bacha bazi, literally “boy play,” and American soldiers and Marines have been instructed not to intervene — in some cases, not even when their Afghan allies have abused boys on military bases, according to interviews and court records.

The policy has endured as American forces have recruited and organized Afghan militias to help hold territory against the Taliban. But soldiers and Marines have been increasingly troubled that instead of weeding out pedophiles, the American military was arming them in some cases and placing them as the commanders of villages — and doing little when they began abusing children.

“The reason we were here is because we heard the terrible things the Taliban were doing to people, how they were taking away human rights,” said Dan Quinn, a former Special Forces captain who beat up an American-backed militia commander for keeping a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave. “But we were putting people into power who would do things that were worse than the Taliban did — that was something village elders voiced to me.”

The policy of instructing soldiers to ignore child sexual abuse by their Afghan allies is coming under new scrutiny, particularly as it emerges that service members like Captain Quinn have faced discipline, even career ruin, for disobeying it.

After the beating, the Army relieved Captain Quinn of his command and pulled him from Afghanistan. He has since left the military.

Libertarians May Co-Nominate Rand Paul in 2016

Libertarians May Co-Nominate Rand Paul in 2016

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., may follow in his father’s footsteps not only by seeking the Republican presidential nomination, but also by receiving the Libertarian Party’s ballot line.

Members of the Libertarian Party are bracing for an internal struggle over whether to back the libertarian-leaning senator if he appears poised to win the Republican nomination in 2016.

Paul is unlikely to directly seek the third party’s support, but could win it anyhow through the work of eager activists like those who worked the campaigns of his father, former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, a GOP presidential contender in 2008 and 2012 and the Libertarian nominee in 1988.

A co-nomination from one of the nation’s most significant minor parties could help Paul – if he’s the Republican nominee – avoid losing hundreds of thousands of votes to an ideological ally. In some states, his name would appear twice on ballots.

If Paul is nominated by both the Republican and Libertarian parties, it could also unleash electoral scenarios unseen in decades, such as the negotiation of a fusion slate of electors. Libertarians could, theoretically, nominate their own vice presidential candidate.

Though the Libertarian Party’s Orlando, Florida, nominating convention isn’t until May 2016, Libertarian National Committee Executive Director Wes Benedict foresees a fight.

“If Rand Paul wins the Republican nomination, I’d expect a big fight within the [party] over whether or not we should run our own candidate,” Benedict says. “It wouldn’t just be a discussion.”

Libertarian Party chairman Nicholas Sarwark, officially neutral on the matter, says “there is a possibility that the delegates in Orlando would nominate Sen. Paul and if they were to do so, I’d work hard to support their choice.”

Pluto ‘Wows’ in Spectacular New Backlit Panorama

Pluto ‘Wows’ in Spectacular New Backlit Panorama

First manned flight of NASA’s Orion may be delayed to 2023

First manned flight of NASA’s Orion may be delayed to 2023

NASA’s Orion spaceship, which is being built to one day carry astronauts to deep space, may not launch with crew on board until 2023, the US space agency said Wednesday.

The delay could set back the mission — which is costing NASA $6.77 billion — nearly two years.

After the latest mission review in August, NASA has “much lower confidence” that the current target date of 2021 can be met and is considering the possibility of launching no later than April 2023, said NASA associate administrator Robert Lightfoot.

Funding, software development, testing and a variety of other factors have contributed to the anticipated delay, said Lightfoot.

“One of the factors in the model is absolutely budget,” said Lightfoot.

“It is also a timing thing. I can’t get (the funding) all in the last year and be expected to work that.”

He said the projections were based on President Barack Obama’s budget request for NASA...

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Real Reason Rand Paul is Losing to Trump and Carson: Republican Voters Want Bigger Government

The Real Reason Rand Paul is Losing to Trump and Carson: Republican Voters Want Bigger Government

Rand Paul’s campaign actually showed faint signs of life in the last ABC/Washington Post poll, where his 5 percent showing has him within striking distance of Jeb Bush and every other candidate besides Donald Trump and Ben Carson. That’s little consolation considering the poll shows Carson at 20 percent and rising sharply and Trump doing the same at 33 percent.

There has been a lot of digital ink and hot air expended on why Paul fell from the GOP lead as “the most interesting man in politics” to a long shot candidate fighting for scraps with the Walkers, Bushes and other members of the rejected “establishment.” There have been reports of infighting among the campaign staff, Paul’s failure to energize his father’s activist base and even his reluctance to woo big money donors.

One would think that last “shortcoming” would be appealing to voters fed up with Washington insiders, but apparently not so for Paul.

The most prevalent theory is that in trying to avoid alienating mainstream Republican voters while championing his father’s libertarian platform, Paul has alienated both groups: libertarians and traditional Republicans. That sounds good, but it doesn’t add up.

The painful reality for Ron Paul’s supporters is they represent an electoral rounding error. They are loud, proud and committed to the libertarian message, but in the end they are two million votes. The GOP nominee won the nomination in a landslide in two straight elections without a single vote from them. Rand Paul knows that will be true this time around, too. Thus his attempt to woo more mainstream voters.

Paul’s supporters scratch their heads at this. If Republican voters are truly fed up with the establishment GOP leadership’s failure to cut government spending, reinstate constitutional limits on the executive branch and federal government in general, and restore some semblance of a free market economy, why isn’t Paul their guy? He’s better on every one of those issues than any candidate who has run for the nomination in decades.

The answer is Republican voters don’t really want those things. They’re fed up with the GOP leadership, but not because it’s failed to make the government smaller or less powerful. They’re fed up because it hasn’t made the government bigger, in the areas they want it to be bigger.

Think about what has resonated with Republican voters. It’s been exactly the opposite of what Paul proposes. Trump and Carson supporters have responded enthusiastically to promises of a bigger, more powerful federal government, led by a strong-willed leader who will trample constitutional limits on his power, run a command economy and pursue an activist foreign policy.

They want more border security and less immigration. Whether illegal or legal, the real resentment towards immigrants is the competition they bring for jobs. Crime and welfare make good headlines, but deep down everyone knows this is just protectionism in the labor market. It’s the opposite of free markets.

Second only to his immigration stance is Trump’s protectionist stance on international trade. Trump views the world economy the same way 18th century mercantilists viewed it: as a zero sum game with winners and losers. His answer? Higher taxes, in the form of tariffs, to protect less efficient domestic manufacturing. Adam Smith wrote his seminal economic treatise to refute precisely this world view.

Ben Carson’s most popular position is the mainstream Republican “strengthen the military” mantra. Republican voters want more money spend on the military, even though it remains larger than the next 10 largest national military establishments combined. Contrary to current Republican talking points, the U.S. military has not been cut in decades. Sequestration only decreased the increases in spending. Actual spending still went up every year. Republican voters don’t care. They want more. Let’s face it. No amount would be too much.

Trump says he’ll dramatically increase spending on the VA. Like all government programs, the VA has serious problems. But Republicans seem unable to apply the logic they apply to federal spending on education or civilian health care to federal spending on health care for veterans. If it’s for the veterans, they’re all for spending more. Again, no amount is too much.

Even Rand Paul’s stance on NSA data collection is unpopular with these “small government” voters. Regardless of whether you ultimately agree with Chris Christie, Rand Paul bested Christie on this issue in the first debate. Christie based his whole argument for bulk collection on his experience in the FISA court getting warrants on individuals. Paul pointed out the error of logic and Christie offered no substantive response.

Rhetorically, it was a knockout. Republican voters didn’t care.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling

The Dursleys were so mean that hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he's packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.

And strike it does. For in Harry's second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockheart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls' bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley's younger sister, Ginny.

But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone--or something--starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects...Harry Potter himself?

Lexicon by Max Barry

At an exclusive school somewhere outside of Arlington, Virginia, students aren’t taught history, geography, or mathematics—they are taught to persuade. Students learn to use language to manipulate minds, wielding words as weapons. The very best graduate as “poets,” and enter a nameless organization of unknown purpose.

Whip-smart runaway Emily Ruff is making a living from three-card Monte on the streets of San Francisco when she attracts the attention of the organization’s recruiters. Drawn in to their strage world, which is populated by people named Brontë and Eliot, she learns their key rule: That every person can be classified by personality type, his mind segmented and ultimately unlocked by the skilful application of words. For this reason, she must never allow another person to truly know her, lest she herself be coerced. Adapting quickly, Emily becomes the school’s most talented prodigy, until she makes a catastrophic mistake: She falls in love.

Meanwhile, a seemingly innocent man named Wil Parke is brutally ambushed by two men in an airport bathroom. They claim he is the key to a secret war he knows nothing about, that he is an “outlier,” immune to segmentation. Attempting to stay one step ahead of the organization and its mind-bending poets, Wil and his captors seek salvation in the toxically decimated town of Broken Hill, Australia, which, if ancient stories are true, sits above an ancient glyph of frightening power.

A brilliant thriller that traverses very modern questions of privacy, identity, and the rising obsession of data-collection, connecting them to centuries-old ideas about the power of language and coercion, Lexicon is Max Barry’s most ambitious and spellbinding novel yet.

Tetris Plus (Sega Saturn)

Tetris Plus (Sega Saturn)

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Mongoliad: Book 3

The final book of the Mongoliad trilogy from Neal Stephenson and company tells the gripping personal stories of medieval freedom fighters to form an epic, imaginative recounting of a moment in history when a world in peril relied solely on the courage of its people.

The shadow of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II hangs over the shattered Holy Roman Church as the cardinals remain deadlocked, unable to choose a new pope. Only the Binders and a mad priest have a hope of uniting the Church against the invading Mongol host. An untested band of young warriors stands against the dissolute Khan, fighting for glory and freedom in the Khan’s sadistic circus of swords, and the brave band of Shield- Brethren who set out to stop the Mongol threat single-handedly race against their nemesis before he can raise the entire empire against them. Veteran knight Feronantus, haunted by his life in exile, leads the dwindling company of Shield-Brethren to their final battle, molding them into a team that will outlast him. No good hero lives forever. Or fights alone.

Red Army by Ralph Peters

From the cockpit of a MIG to the foot soldiers and tankers on the scarred, bloody battlefields to the four-star general commanding the attack, Red Army is a riveting portrayal of modern war--and of human strengths and weaknesses. Seen entirely through Russian eyes, this extraordinary novel is destined to become a classic.

THE X-FILES Miniseries Will Premiere at MIPCOM and New York Comic Con 2015

THE X-FILES Miniseries Will Premiere at MIPCOM and New York Comic Con 2015

The truth is out there…and it’ll be here sooner than expected! Fox has announced that the first episode of The X-Files revival miniseries will make its world premiere at at MIPCOM in Cannes, France on Tuesday, October 6. But if you don’t have your passport handy, the U.S. premiere will follow on Saturday, October 10 at New York Comic Con!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Rand Paul: ‘Nothing’ That Donald Trump Supports Is ‘What the Tea Party Was About’

Rand Paul: ‘Nothing’ That Donald Trump Supports Is ‘What the Tea Party Was About’

Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul said Wednesday that “nothing” that rival Donald Trump is for “is what the Tea Party was about.”

Speaking to Glenn Beck, the Kentucky senator listed the bank bailouts, the stimulus, higher taxes, Obamacare and taking private property through eminent domain as issues Trump has supported that are at odds with the principles of the Tea Party.

“I think to me the most offensive of the positions that he’s taken isn’t that he was for Obamacare before he was against it, or that he’s for higher taxes or the government stimulus,” Paul said. “It probably is this notion of private property. Most of his business deals have been predicated upon asking government to take land from other people.”

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Richard Cole, last of two surviving 'Doolittle Raiders,' turns 100 on Labor Day

Richard Cole, last of two surviving 'Doolittle Raiders,' turns 100 on Labor Day

It’s not labor unions that destroy the economy; it’s the New Deal and its awful progeny

It’s not labor unions that destroy the economy; it’s the New Deal and its awful progeny

Two small minorities on either end of the political spectrum have strong feelings about Labor Day. One side sees the holiday as a celebration of all the victories hard working folks have won in securing their rights against greedy capitalists who would otherwise have them working twenty-three hours a day in sweat shops. The other side sees it as overt Marxism, so dangerous to all that’s good and holy the holiday should be renamed.

The other 95% are just damned glad to have the day off.

That the right wingers are paranoid doesn’t mean no one is out to get them. There is a very real connection between the holiday, the unions that proposed it and Marxism. American Marxists are firm supporters of unions, as were Marx and Engels themselves.

Neither is there any denying the damage unions appear to have done. Wherever labor unions are firmly entrenched, economic hardship proliferates. Outside the politically correct zone, everyone knows unions destroyed Detroit. If you have any doubt, just look at General Motors’ 2006 balance sheet. Either capitalists mysteriously ceased being greedy for the preceding fifty years or something forced them to be overly generous with pay and benefits, resulting in the bizarre preponderance of legacy benefit costs reflected there.

This would seem to be something of a paradox. How can this free association, an expression of the free market itself, be so harmful to our economic well-being?

The answer is labor unions themselves are not the problem. It’s labor union legislation, starting with the infamous “Wagner Act” (National Labor Relations Act of 1935) and continuing with subsequent legislation in the decades thereafter. These laws transformed the employment contract from a voluntary buyer-seller agreement to an involuntary one for one side.

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It turns out Rand Paul was right about guns being smuggled out of Benghazi to Syria

It turns out Rand Paul was right about guns being smuggled out of Benghazi to Syria

The U.S. government categorically denied it was shipping weapons to the Syrian rebels, many of whom have ties to al-Qaeda and other Islamist groups.

Liberal websites attacked Paul for asking Sec. Clinton about this. Think Progress accused Paul of “pushing a conspiracy theory.” Rachel Maddow’s blog labeling the senator, “I don’t have any proof Paul.”

The conservative watchdog organization Judicial Watch has obtained documents that might shed some light on why Sen. Paul asked these questions. Fox News reported Monday that the Defense Intelligence Agency knew that weapons were being shipped from Libya to Syria before the Benghazi attacks.

A third DIA memo, dated Oct. 5, 2012, leaves no doubt that U.S. intelligence agencies knew that weapons were moving from Libya to Syria before the attack that killed four Americans.

Former CIA Director Mike Morell recently dodged questions about these weapons in an interview with Bret Baier.

Baier asked him: Were CIA officers tracking the movement of weapons from Libya to Syria?

“Can’t talk about it,” Morell said.

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Sorry, Clinton And Sanders, There’s No Such Thing As Free College

Sorry, Clinton And Sanders, There’s No Such Thing As Free College

Candidates for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, have both promised that if elected, they would put forth legislation that would dramatically reduce tuition and student debt for public universities in one form or another. This opportunity is a lie in itself. In order for the federal government to pay for all these students, it would be necessary for more tax money to get funneled to students who hold no real obligation to complete their degrees, and a lot of students who should not have gone to college in the first place would get degrees they don’t know what to ultimately do with.

The first issue to bring up regarding this progressive scheme to attract millennial voters is the financing of this project. Lindsey Burke, a researcher at the Heritage Foundation, pointed out in her Daily Signal article, “Why Free Community College Is Anything But Free”, a fundamental issue with financing tuition free 2-year college alone:

“Once again, the administration is pursuing initiatives to subsidize rising costs, instead of working with Congress on policies that actually would address the driver of college cost increases: the open spigot of federal student aid. Over the past several decades, college costs have risen at more than twice the rate of inflation, thanks in large part to federal subsidies.”

By sending more grants and subsidizing higher education even more, that bad habit only creates the incentive for schools to drive up the costs, the ultimate reason behind soaring tuition rates. Because of this effect, every year students take out thousands of dollars in student loans to cover the cost of an education they can’t afford, in order to get a degree for a job that doesn’t exist or isn’t available, leaving them with debt and unemployment. This betrayal of the American people takes away from ways people can still invest in themselves without being slaves to debts owned by the banks.

The idea behind free community college alone isn’t about greater access to education. In today’s world, information is everywhere thanks to greater access to technologies and the internet, bridging the gaps between social mobility and economic opportunity greater than any point in human history. Looking at great sources like a local library or even the online Khan Academy alone shows just several ways people can access knowledge on their own accord. These resources are free and readily available to the entire public, the only thing that free community college would do is grow faux credentials by inflating the number of degree holders and promote more obtrusive, more burdensome, federal regulation.