Thursday, June 30, 2016

My Favourite Games: Ghostbusters

My Favourite Games: Ghostbusters

I just recently picked up Ghostbusters for the Atari 2600, its a game that for the longest time I didn’t even know it existed on that system. I was quite impressed when I tried it out too,  but you kind of expect that from the later Atari games. (well most of them anyway)

My real experience with this game was on the Commodore 64, the system I probably played the most as a child. Much like Impossible Mission, this game has a reputation for being a hallmark game for the system. Most often when I chat with people about owning with the C64 its this game that is most remembered, and for good reason too.

Source: My Favourite Games: Ghostbusters

The Strongest Supercomputer on Earth Still Needs Your Laptop to Cure Cancer

The Strongest Supercomputer on Earth Still Needs Your Laptop to Cure Cancer

A group of California computer scientists has built a tool for analyzing climate change, mapping clean water access, and formulating strategies to eradicate malaria, cancer, and AIDS, all using a system they can rightfully claim to be the most powerful computer network on the planet. And here’s what they want to talk about: How paltry the whole thing is. The Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing may be rocking 157 petaFLOPS (and counting), but it isn’t nearly as muscular as scientists thought it would be when the idea of volunteer computing emerged in the mid-‘90s.

When it became clear in the early aughts that projects like BOINC and IBM’sWorld Community Grid could leverage middleware use of the spare computing power on huge numbers of PCs to solve massively parallel problems (think:scanning astronomical data to find extraterrestrial life) by running simulations, the consensus among researchers was that the future of data-driven investigation had arrived. In a sense, it had. The technology remains awe-inspiring, but it still isn’t self-sufficient. In order to grow, BOINC needed to generate enthusiasm, to sign people up, to make studies of pulsars and peptides feel like a movement. That never happened.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

I’ve been volunteer computing for BOINC since the late ‘90s, when I was an undergrad at the University of California-Berkeley. Since then I’ve installed the software on half a dozen new computers and tracked volunteer computing statistics as they have, depressingly, slumped. The attrition is easy to spot. The systems count millions of total volunteers, but the data make clear that only a few hundred thousand are actively returning results. And this for software that could run on machines numbering in the low billions globally. (If you want to join us, check out this 10-minute guide to getting started.)

Public relations efforts around volunteer computing have been uniformly amateurish. The sum of the project’s recruiting is a page on BOINC’s website that you have to really study to understand. And it’s incredibly outdated, giving volunteers tips on how to write letters to computer magazines in countries around the world to boost exposure. “To get a magazine to write about BOINC,” it reads, “you need to convince them that there’s something new and exciting.” The site also urges volunteers to update the page when and if they reach out to media, so as not to duplicate efforts. As of this writing, the last such update was in September 2014.

For an explanation, I reached out to Dr. David Anderson, BOINC’s project director, architect, and developer. He’s an adjunct computer science professor at the University of Houston and a research scientist at the University of California-Berkeley, and is the project director of SETI@home. His day jobs don’t allow for spending much time or funds pursuing volunteers to join in BOINC.

“We (BOINC or, prior to that, SETI@home) have never advertised; we have no budget for doing so,” Anderson told me. Mass media coverage in the early days of volunteer computing about 15 years ago stirred some 2 million people to join the efforts, he says. “After that it was harder to get media coverage; outlets don’t like to run stories that are similar to previous stories. Even for something like the release of BOINC for Android, which I think is big, we were able to get only a smattering of coverage.”
As media coverage of BOINC, World Community Grid, and distributed computing waned, so has public interest. Here are the trends in Google searches during the past decade.
As media coverage of BOINC, World Community Grid, and distributed computing waned, so has public interest. Here are the trends in Google searches during the past decade.
For researchers like me, the untapped potential here is absolutely staggering. One of the active projects I’ve been following is Harvard’s Clean Energy Project, which aims to identify next-gen solar cell materials. It uses World Community Grid’s power to evaluate, so far, 2.3 million compounds for possible use as solar cells. That number, while impressive, is a blip compared against the project’s ambitions. I emailed Dr. Alán Aspuru-Guzik, a chemistry professor who leads the project, to ask what a larger volunteer force would mean to him. Here’s what he replied:
“My research group has huge hopes of understanding the entire molecular space, which is composed of 10^60 to 10^180 synthesizable molecules. So far, we have concentrated on the organic photovoltaics (‘plastic’ solar cells) area in collaboration with the World Community Grid. … If I were to have say a hundred times more volunteers, we could turn the project into the ‘Molecular Space Project’ and we could undertake a vast cataloguing of a sample of a diverse set of molecules in chemical space to search for molecules with extreme properties for a variety of applications that could range from energy to technology and even health.”
In other words, we could be cracking open the secrets of every extant or possible molecule. Instead, we’re playing League of Legends and Angry Birds Transformers. And that criticism is actually reductively generous: We could be doing both.

To understand how regrettable this state of affairs is, we need to make a rough estimate of how much more computing capacity the world has in 2015 than in 2000. A 2011 study by researchers at UCLA and in Barcelona found that between 1986 and 2007, that annual growth in computing power averaged 86 percent. If that pattern held during the past 15 years, the increase works out to more than a 10,000-fold leap. It’s a shame that all that raw power just sits around on your Galaxy S6 pinging your email server, or loiters on your Macbook waiting to download the latest iTunes update. Even with the tiny adoption rate, volunteer computing is accomplishing great feats: informing IPCC climate reports, the discovery of pulsars, the design of an artificial protein that triggers self-destruction of a certain class of cancer cells, and more than 150 scientific publications. BOINC’s volunteers together contribute greater computing power to researchers (for free) than would the world’s most powerful supercomputer — a rig that cost $390 million to build and which ain’t cheap to run.
There are efforts afoot to make participating more attractive. One less altruistic reason you may want to join is the rising popularity, and value, of Gridcoin. It’s similar to Bitcoin, but its mining step is tied to BOINC research tasks that have real-world usefulness beyond the mere generation of cryptocurrency.

But even its intrinsic benefits are gratifying. Anytime I get frustrated with the pace of progress on my own research (using algae to improve wastewater treatment while generating climate-friendly biofuels) I simply remember that I’m also doing my tiny part to find cures for cancer and to make cheaper solar panels. That usually brings a smile to my face — though not that anyone much notices, when I’m staring at some spreadsheet in a darkened lab.

Source: The Strongest Supercomputer on Earth Still Needs Your Laptop to Cure Cancer | Inverse

Wednesday, June 29, 2016



We can’t seriously let Donald Trump become the President of the United States. I mean come on. You’ve made your point, years of betrayal, political correctness, yadda yadda yadda. Got it. The sleeping loudmouth has awakened.

But he can’t be President. It’s madness. Be serious.

We can’t seriously let Hillary Clinton become the President of the United States. Even Bernie Sanders voters knows this. Yes, yes, first woman, waited long enough … I would list more things but I honestly can’t even think of pretend reasons someone would vote for her. She’s a disaster. Even she knows it.

She can’t be President. She’s dangerous and dishonest.

So no Trump. No Hillary. Settled. But there comes a time when you have to decide who you are going to vote for, not just who you aren’t.

I was in Washington, DC this weekend for a conference hosted by Freedomworks. On Sunday, family in tow, I visited the Jefferson Memorial, as I have many times before. As one cannot help but do, I read (what are mostly) Jefferson’s words inscribed high on those walls in that shrine to our American philosophy. Only this time, it struck me that each of those ideas must bear on our decision every time we vote. Every time. This is why we vote. And Jefferson’s words help us to see what we should vote for.What we should vote for, and what we should not. I thought of what our founders envisioned. Thomas Jefferson authored the basis for our way of life. As I pondered this, I realized the only decision Jefferson would make in 2016.

When it comes down to it, when it comes to the Supreme Court appointment, when it comes down to the message we send, when it comes down finally to where to put your faith when you’re standing in the voting booth in November, I can only see myself voting for Gary Johnson.

#NeverTrump. #NeverHillary. #AlwaysLiberty

It is not simply a matter of not voting for Trump or Hillary. Even if there is a delegate revolt, even if there is a sudden change and the GOP comes to their senses, even if that change is to the honorable and admirable Senator Ted Cruz, I have no intention of revisiting my opinion. I’m voting for Gary Johnson. Because I believe he’ll strive for more liberty, less government, a good Supreme Court, and because the GOP and the DNC can’t be trusted to do any of those things. And the GOP doesn’t deserve my vote anymore, even with a good candidate.

Now you may say in objection to Johnson “but what about this policy?” or “what about that thing he said,” but to you I say “I can’t hear you over the sound of my voting for Gary Johnson.” Or you might say “but he can’t win the election” or “his party is too weird and doesn’t have mainstream ideas” and to that, I say “I said I can’t hear you lah lah lah” and vote for Gary Johnson.

Yes, Gary Johnson Could Make It Into the Debates. Here’s How.

Yes, Gary Johnson Could Make It Into the Debates. Here’s How.

By capturing the support of 15 percent of voters in national public opinion polls, Johnson could join the major party's presidential candidates on the primetime debate stage. With both Democratic and Republican presidential candidates disliked at historic levels and a rising share of political independents frustrated with the two major parties, this is the year a third-party candidate like Johnson has a realistic chance of getting onto the debate stage.

What would it take?

Johnson would need to receive an invitation to participate in the debates from the Commission on Presidential debates (CPD), a private, non-partisan, 501(c)(3) organization that has sponsored the general election presidential debates since 1988. The CPD is not a government entity, nor does it receive government funding. But it is a creation of the two major parties, co-chaired at its inception by both the Republican and Democratic parties' national chairman.

The CPD establishes objective eligibility criteria in advance—compliant with regulations enforced by the Federal Election Commission—that all candidates must meet, including the Democratic and Republican candidates, to be invited to participate in the debate.

The CPD's 2016 debate eligibility criteria, announced last year, are as follows:

Besides being constitutionally eligible, the candidate would need to appear on a "sufficient number of state ballots to have a mathematical chance of winning a majority vote in the Electoral College." Currently the Libertarian Party has ballot access in 32 states and is confident about getting on the remaining 18.

Next, Johnson would need to have the support of at least 15 percent of "the national electorate" as determined by the average of five selected national public opinion polling organizations' most recently publicly reported results, at the time eligibility is determined.

The CPD board, with the advisement of Dr. Frank Newport, editor-in-chief at Gallup, determines which five polling organizations will be used. The CPD board selects polling organizations based on its assessment of poll methodology quality, polling frequency, size of sample population, and the reputation of the polling organization.

So far, the CPD has not reported when it will reveal the five selected polling organizations for 2016, but will likely do so before Labor Day. The CPD has announced it will formally extend invitations to participate in the first debate after Labor Day and before September 26th, when the first debate will be held at Wright State University.

Although the CPD has not yet released the selected polling organizations it will recognize in 2016, we can look back at those included in 2012 for an idea: ABC/Washington Post, NBC News/Wall Street Journal, CBS/New York Times, Fox News, and Gallup.

The key for Gary Johnson is to convince the major polling organizations to include him in their polls—and to continue to do so . He may be in luck. The 2012 organizations that are polling the 2016 election have included him in their match-ups against Clinton and Trump, with Johnson garnering: Fox (12 percent), CBS (11 percent), NBC/Wall Street Journal (10 percent), ABC/Washington Post (7 percent), an average of roughly 10 percent. Other highly regarded pollsters such as CNN/ORC (9 percent) Quinnipiac (5 percent) and Monmouth (9 percent) have also asked about Johnson this cycle, although they were not included in CPD's 2012 recognized polls.

He's not there yet. But Johnson absolutely has a chance of getting to 15 percent in the polls. Let me explain why.

First, NBC/WSJ polls are finding voters in 2016 are more open to expressing interest in a third-party candidate compared to 2012 and 2008. In 2016, 47 percent of Americans say they would consider voting for a third party candidate up from 38 percent in 2008 and 40 percent in 2012.

Second, a Reason-Rupe poll found that 48 percent of Americans say they'd be willing to vote for a candidate who described him or herself as "conservative on economic issues" and also "liberal on social issues," which is how Gary Johnson self-describes.

And third, in 2012, a Reason-Rupe poll found that in a hypothetical three-way race between Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, and Ron Paul, Paul got 17 percent of the vote. And Ron Paul wasn't even running as a third-party candidate and was far better known. Back in 2012, 73 percent of voters had an opinion of Ron Paul—far more than the 32 percent of voters who've formed an opinion of Johnson.

To be sure, Americans are far more likely to express support for minor party candidates in polls than they are at the ballot box. However, public polling is what matters for getting into the debates. These data indicate there is an appetite for a candidate like Gary Johnson, and wherever his ceiling may exist, it's likely higher than 15 percent.

Source: Yes, Gary Johnson Could Make It Into the Debates. Here's How. -

The Weird Hobbesianism of the Brexiphobes

The Weird Hobbesianism of the Brexiphobes

The UK "is part of Europe, and always will be,” says Boris Johnson, a leader of the Brexit campaign. Wait. How can you be part of something and not appoint a dictatorial, authoritarian, meddling, pillaging central state – a completely artificial creation having nothing to do with the real history of Europe – to manage it?

It's called freedom. That's how it works. It means the absence of external political restraint on shaping the future.

In the days following the British vote to leave the EU, we’ve seen apocalyptic panic among the opinion classes. The New York Times has published a long series of freak-out pieces about the end of the “postwar liberal order.” Except that there is nothing (classically) liberal about a distant bureaucracy that aspires to centrally plan every aspect of economic life.

Another writer worries that "we will have fewer people coming here, enriching our culture and our lives. There will be fewer opportunities. We will have less of a chance to explore the world for ourselves."

Huh? No bridges have been blown up. Britons can still buy plane tickets. People from abroad can still visit and work. It's not even clear that immigration will change that much. It really depends on what politicians in the UK do next. An untenable political union is under strain and that is all. Now Britain can actually make some political decisions for itself.

But here is the silliest thing I’ve yet seen. Try to wrap your brain around the claim in the Times that Brexit  “may just wipe out laissez-faire economics.” If there is no European-wide government authority, “where does capitalism go now?”

Capitalism? Does the Brussels bureaucracy really embody the essence of the capitalist spirit? What can the writer mean?

Well, you see, Reagan and Thatcher were “globalists,” and the global order was slapped together in the postwar period under the influence of John Maynard Keynes, who had saved capitalism from being discredited by the Great Depression, and hence caused laissez faire to exist (even though he wrote “The End of Laissez Faire") until the 1980s led to deregulations but then the financial crisis did something else....

Or something like that. There’s no sense in trying to explain all these frenzied mind dumps because they make no sense.

Latent Hobbesianism

Having read a hundred articles warning of the coming Armageddon, I’m trying to understand the underlying source of the mania. True, there were plenty of unsavory types supporting Brexit, people who were driven to leave the EU by racist and xenophobic motives. They might imagine a new and more pure Britain is possible and desirable.

But, this is hardly news. It is not possible for democracy to function without an ugly underside. And people support good policies for bad reasons all the time.

That said, there is something deeper going on here. Some people just cannot imagine the possibility of order emerging without government planning. If there is no central state that can bind everyone, forcing good behavior and unity, surely the results will be an atavistic and chaotic mess. Life will become, in Thomas Hobbes’s words, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

There is a certain tradition of Enlightenment thought that imagined that government serves the one great purpose of cobbling together order in place of the war of all against all of the “state of nature.” Without Leviathan, we would be slitting each other’s throats, and unable to figure out any other way of living. The state, in this view, is the wise planner that can rise above the people’s base instincts and tell us what is best for us. In the most extreme rending of this story, all things must be either forbidden or mandated, with nothing left to chance.

(This same perspective explains so much of domestic politics. People who can't imagine order without imposition always end up favoring power over liberty.)

Hobbes Was Wrong

But is this really the history of Europe? Remember that Hobbes wrote during the English civil war when vying for control of the state was indeed a violent undertaking. This was not because human beings are incapable of figuring out a better way, but because there was a state there to control in the first place. It was responsible for the moral hazard that unleashed the violence.

The bigger picture of the middle ages through World War I was of small states minding their own business, with people free to move, and trade relations growing ever more sophisticated. States were limited by borders in their geographic jurisdiction and in their internal political power by legal and cultural restraints. The right of exit and the decentralization of power made it all work.

F.A. Hayek was fond of quoting John Baechler: “The first condition for the maximization of economic efficiency is the liberation of civil society with respect to the state…The expansion of capitalism owes its origins and raison d'être to political anarchy.”

By anarchy, he didn’t mean everyone going bonkers. He meant a lack of a centralized authority. The result is not the end of laissez faire but its institutionalization in political habit. That doesn’t mean a turn against “globalization.” It makes international cooperation essential for survival.

Brexit doesn’t establish economic and civil liberty for Britain. But it gives those ideas a chance to escape the EU’s subversion of the classical idea of what Europe is all about. Yes, a post-Brexit Britain could screw it up, especially if the extremes of right and left prevail against an emergent libertarian third way. Brexit is a beginning, not an end.

At least one impediment is out of the way. That’s progress.

Source: The Weird Hobbesianism of the Brexiphobes | Foundation for Economic Education

MegaCon 2016 - Karate Kids Ralph Macchio and William Zabka

Q&A with Ralph Macchio and William Zabka from Karate Kid at MegaCon 2016.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Hi-Res Secrets (Apple ][)

Hi-Res Secrets (Apple ][)

Brevard Renaissance Fair - Closing Pub Sing - Kindred Kilts - Haul Away Joe

Brevard Renaissance Faire - Closing Pub Sing - Kindred Kilts - Haul Away Joe

The Kindred Kilts performing 'Haul Away Joe' at the closing pub sing of the inaugural Brevard Renaissance Fair in Melbourne, Florida.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Federal Court: The Fourth Amendment Does Not Protect Your Home Computer

Federal Court: The Fourth Amendment Does Not Protect Your Home Computer

In a dangerously flawed decision unsealed today, a federal district court in Virginia ruled that a criminal defendant has no “reasonable expectation of privacy” in his personal computer, located inside his home. According to the court, the federal government does not need a warrant to hack into an individual's computer.

This decision is the latest in, and perhaps the culmination of, a series of troubling decisions in prosecutions stemming from the FBI’s investigation of Playpen—a Tor hidden services site hosting child pornography. The FBI seized the server hosting the site in 2014, but continued to operate the site and serve malware to thousands of visitors that logged into the site. The malware located certain identifying information (e.g., MAC address, operating system, the computer’s “Host name”; etc) on the attacked computer and sent that information back to the FBI.  There are hundreds of prosecutions, pending across the country, stemming from this investigation.

Courts overseeing these cases have struggled to apply traditional rules of criminal procedure and constitutional law to the technology at issue. Recognizing this, we've been participating as amicus to educate judges on the significant legal issues these cases present. In fact, EFF filed an amicus brief in this very case, arguing that the FBI’s investigation ran afoul of the Fourth Amendment. The brief, unfortunately, did not have the intended effect.

The implications for the decision, if upheld, are staggering: law enforcement would be free to remotely search and seize information from your computer, without a warrant, without probable cause, or without any suspicion at all. To say the least, the decision is bad news for privacy. But it's also incorrect as a matter of law, and we expect there is little chance it would hold up on appeal. (It also was not the central component of the judge's decision, which also diminishes the likelihood that it will become reliable precedent.)

But the decision underscores a broader trend in these cases: courts across the country, faced with unfamiliar technology and unsympathetic defendants, are issuing decisions that threaten everyone's rights. As hundreds of these cases work their way through the federal court system, we'll be keeping a careful eye on these decisions, developing resources to help educate the defense bar, and doing all we can to ensure that the Fourth Amendment's protections for our electronic devices aren't eroded further. We'll be writing more about these cases in the upcoming days, too, so be sure to check back in for an in-depth look at the of the legal issues in these cases, and the problems with the way the FBI handled its investigation.

Source: Federal Court: The Fourth Amendment Does Not Protect Your Home Computer | Electronic Frontier Foundation

The Dangerous Implications of Upholding Racial Preferences at UT

The Dangerous Implications of Upholding Racial Preferences at UT

This week's Supreme Court decision upholding racial preferences in admissions at the University of Texas (UT) has potentially far-reaching implications. It might well license extensive racial discrimination in college admissions policies. But its impact may be limited by hedging in the majority opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy.

When Fisher v. University of Texas first reached the Supreme Court in 2013, the Court chose not to issue a definitive ruling on the constitutionality of the Texas admissions system. An unusually large 7-1 majority reiterated the principle that universities can sometimes use racial preferences in order to promote the educational benefits of “diversity,” but also broke new ground by emphasizing that courts should apply “strict scrutiny” to such programs without giving any deference at all to the judgment of university officials.

When the case was remanded back to the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the lower court again upheld the University of Texas program, and failed to apply the kind of nondeferential scrutiny the Supreme Court required. The Supreme Court chose to review the case again. After the oral argument in December, most experts, myself included, expected that the Court would apply strict scrutiny and strike down the Texas plan. However, that did not happen, possibly because of the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia, who would almost certainly have voted to invalidate Texas’ program.

Instead, the program was upheld by a narrow 4-3 majority (Justice Elena Kagan was recused from the case). Justice Anthony Kennedy cast the decisive swing vote, and wrote the majority opinion, which seems at odds with the sort of rigorous strict scrutiny he has long advocated in previous affirmative action cases, including his majority opinion in Fisher I.

The result is all the more surprising because this is the first time Kennedy has ever voted to uphold any type of racial preference in education.

I. The Court’s Nebulous Theory of Educational “Diversity”

Kennedy starts by reiterating the principles of Fisher I, including the requirement that the use of racial preferences must be subject to “strict scrutiny,” and that “no deference is owed [to university officials] when determining whether the use of race is narrowly tailored to achieve the university’s permissible goals,” including the educational benefits of diversity.

But the force of this principle is undermined by Kennedy’s failure to require the university to specify its objectives with any precision. He is satisfied with what he calls the “concrete and precise goals” outlined by UT:
On the first page of its 2004 “Proposal to Consider Race and Ethnicity in Admissions,” the University identifies the educational values it seeks to realize through its admissions process: the destruction of stereotypes, the “‘promot[ion of] cross-racial understanding,’” the preparation of a student body “‘for an increasingly diverse workforce and society,’” and the “‘cultivat[ion of] a set of leaders with legitimacy in the eyes of the citizenry.’” ...


Later in the proposal, the University explains that it strives to provide an “academic environment” that offers a “robust exchange of ideas, exposure to differing cultures, preparation for the challenges of an increasingly diverse workforce, and acquisition of competencies required of future leaders.”
These objectives are so vague that they can justify racial preferences for virtually any racial, ethnic, or religious group, especially if the university is not required to provide proof that doing so really will achieve measurable progress towards those objectives.

For example, increasing the number of Swedes, Bulgarians, or Mormons from Utah at UT could potentially break down stereotypes about those groups, and help prepare students “for an increasingly diverse workforce and society.” If applied consistently, the Court’s reasoning could even justify discrimination against minorities and in favor of whites, at least in some cases. For example, if officials conclude that the leadership class will have more “legitimacy in the eyes of the citizenry” if it is more dominated by the majority racial or ethnic group, then that might justify discriminating against blacks or Jews.

Similarly, if officials conclude that having “too many” blacks, Jews, or Asian-Americans might stimulate a backlash against them by white gentiles, that might justify restricting the numbers of these minorities, so as not to undermine “cross-racial understanding.” Such theories were in fact used to justify imposing quotas limiting the presence of minority groups at various universities in the early twentieth century.

I highly doubt that the Supreme Court majority actually meant to endorse these sorts of rationales for racial discrimination. But their reasoning does not preclude them, which a strong sign that the reasoning is flawed.

More generally, the goals endorsed by the Court are so vague as to make meaningful judicial scrutiny almost impossible. As Justice Samuel Alito points out in his dissent:
These are laudable goals, but they are not concrete or precise, and they offer no limiting principle for the use of racial preferences. For instance, how will a court ever be able to determine whether stereotypes have been adequately destroyed? Or whether cross-racial understanding has been adequately achieved? If a university can justify racial discrimination simply by having a few employees opine that racial preferences are necessary to accomplish these nebulous goals, see [majority opinion], at 12–13 (citing only self-serving statements from UT officials), then the narrow tailoring inquiry is meaningless.
The majority opinion also endorses UT’s claim that racial preferences can be used to ensure that there are two or more African-Americans or Hispanics in a large proportion of individual classes, thereby ensuring that each class is sufficiently “diverse.” If this is true for those groups, why not also for Koreans, Swedes, Russians, and virtually every other group? Here too, the majority’s logic seems to justify almost unlimited racial and ethnic discrimination in favor of pretty much any group favored by university officials, so long as there is some substantial number of classes where the group in question has few or no representatives. For example, I was the only Russian Jew in nearly all my law school classes and most of my undergraduate classes, as well. Ensuring that most classes had two more members of this group would have required a massive increase in our numbers, thereby potentially justifying large-scale ethnic preferences at both institutions.

II. Deciding which Groups to Prefer

Justice Kennedy also ignored the University’s failure to provide a coherent explanation for why they extended preferences to some groups, but not others who were less numerous in the student body to begin with. This omission is particularly glaring in the case of Asian-Americans, who end up getting disfavored by the UT policy. As Justice Alito puts it:
While both the majority and the Fifth Circuit rely on UT’s classroom study… they completely ignore its finding that Hispanics are better represented than Asian-Americans in UT class¬ rooms. In fact, they act almost as if Asian-American students do not exist….

[S]tudents labeled “Asian American,” seemingly include “individuals of Chinese, Jap¬anese, Korean, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Hmong, Indianand other backgrounds comprising roughly 60% of the world’s population….” It would be ludicrous to suggest that all of these students have similar backgrounds and similar ideas and experiences to share. So why has UT lumped them to¬gether and concluded that it is appropriate to discriminate against Asian-American students because they are “overrepresented” in the UT student body? UT has no good answer. And UT makes no effort to ensure that it has a critical mass of, say, “Filipino Americans” or “Cambodian Americans.”
The treatment of Asian-Americans in the UT policy (and similar policies at other universities) should be an embarrassment to defenders of these programs, because Asian-American groups both make a major contribution to “diversity” and have often been victims of state-sponsored oppression throughout much of American history. From a “diversity” standpoint, it also makes little sense to treat, say, Italians, Russian immigrants, and WASPs, as an undifferentiated mass of “whites.”

I do not mean to suggest that the Court should categorically forbid the use of racial preferences in all cases. To the contrary, I have long argued that strictly limited preferences might be justified in cases where they are necessary to overcome large-scale historic injustices. I also think they might defensible in a few other scenarios, including ensuring that the armed forces and law enforcement agencies have a modicum of minority officers.

But that is a far cry from the Court’s endorsement of the nebulous diversity rationale, which can justify a wide range of extremely dubious preferences for almost any group.

III. Possible Limits on the Reach of the Court’s Decision

Despite the sweeping nature of some of the Court’s reasoning, the majority opinion also includes some limitations on its reach. Justice Kennedy emphasizes that the UT program is a unique, “sui generis” case, because the University’s racial preferences occurred against the background of the Texas Top Ten Percent Plan, which guarantees a spot at UT to Texas students who ranked in top ten percent of their high school classes. Because the vast majority of UT’s admissions decisions were dictated by this program, explicit racial preferences affected only a relatively small minority of applicants. Kennedy implies that a more extensive program of preferences would be subject to tougher scrutiny.

He also notes that there is more data available on the effects of the UT program now than at the start of the Fisher litigation, and that “[t]he University must continue to use this data to scrutinize the fairness of its admissions program; to assess whether changing demographics have undermined the need for a race-conscious policy; and to identify the effects, both positive and negative, of the affirmative-action measures it deems necessary.”

But it is difficult to say whether this stricture will impose any meaningful constraints on the future use of racial preferences at UT, especially if the “scrutiny” in question need only connect preferences with the sorts of vague educational benefits that turned out to be sufficient in this case.

Elsewhere, I have argued that the Ten Percent Plan is itself unconstitutional racial discrimination because it was enacted for racial purposes, and that it is in some ways more pernicious than conventional affirmative action. Kennedy properly emphasizes, however, that Abigail Fisher did not challenge the constitutionality of the Ten Percent Plan, as a result of which, “throughout this litigation, the Top Ten Percent Plan has been taken, somewhat artificially, as a given premise.” At some points in the opinion, Kennedy seems to go out of his way to emphasize that the Court is not endorsing the constitutionality of the Ten Percent Plan. That may open the door to future legal challenges to the plan, and similar policies in other states.

Despite these constraints, Fisher II is a significant victory for supporters of affirmative action. They have good reason to celebrate. But even they may also have reason to question the way the Court justified its holding. If vague, poorly specified educational benefits are enough to authorize racial discrimination against whites and Asian-Americans, they can also potentially justify discrimination against other groups, as well.

Source: The Dangerous Implications of Upholding Racial Preferences at UT | Foundation for Economic Education

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The third option for President: Libertarian Gary Johnson

The third option for President: Libertarian Gary Johnson

If he gets to 15 percent in the polls,you’ll be seeing a third face on the presidential debate stage. Former Governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson joined Armstrong and Getty on KTTH Monday morning to discuss why a Libertarian should be considered for president.

While in the middle of perhaps the most polarizing presidential race ever, Johnson is trying to provide an outlet for those in the middle.

“It’s a unique position being fiscally conservative … and when it comes to our lives, our personal liberties and freedoms, shouldn’t we always come down on the side of choice? … as long as those choices don’t put others in harm’s way?”

Joe Getty contends that it is time America open up to the idea of a different party.

“Polls would show there is pretty fertile ground for being socially liberal and fiscally conservative, so why haven’t libertarian candidates done better?,” Getty asked. “You have decades and decades of media telling you that you’re an idiot if you don’t assume that it’s the Rs or the Ds, the Rs or the Ds. Always, always, always. It is time to shake that up, in our opinion.”

Johnson goes on to explain his opinions on taxes, immigration, gun control, and the war overseas. He does so while remaining in that middle ground between the left and the right.

For the many voters out there looking for someone other than the Democrat or the Republican, Johnson could be that man.

Source: The third option for President: Libertarian Gary Johnson - KTTH

There Is No Legal Solution to Crimes like Orlando

There Is No Legal Solution to Crimes like Orlando

The Orlando Pulse nightclub mass murder understandably has inspired calls for legal solutions to prevent such things in the future. It touches on the core reason people think we need government: to protect our lives from violence.

Omar Mateen's evil assault, evidently motivated by some combination of dedication to radical Islam as represented by ISIS and an animus toward homosexuals, for which he used guns including a Sig Sauer MCX rifle (condemned by many as an "assault rifle" unsuited for any legitimate civilian use), touches on three different areas where many Americans desire more legal pressure or attention: the presence of Islamic radicals in our nation, the "hate speech" thought to possibly motivate such violence, and the ability to obtain the weapon used. (It's a grim trifecta that likely pushed some "the government must do something" button in nearly all non-libertarians.)

So how can people be so obtuse or heartless as to believe that people's freedom of movement (for those who conflate the US-born citizen Mateen with non-citizen Muslims who might like to come here), or freedom from surveillance, or arbitrary detainment, or freedom to think and express hateful things, or freedom to peacefully own objects that exist in the world, should trump government's ability to stop tragedies like Mateen's shooting?

There are a few reasons. If you don't have even a hint of a core belief that, for the most part and in most circumstances, people should be free to be, act, think, speak, and own what they want, as long as they are not or have not actually harmed someone's life or justly owned property, you may find these reasons unconvincing. You might even consider those who are not enthusiastic supporters of "doing something" with force of law in the face of nightmares like Orlando to be villains.

If you believe no benefits exist on the other side of questions of surveillance, censorship, or weapon ownership, then the fact that in most actual circumstances, certainly including this one, no amount of conceivably acceptable government action would have stopped this from happening is meaningless; all costs spent toward the goal of stopping murders, no matter how unlikely to accomplish anything, are then acceptable.

Should government keep a closer eye on people in America who seem to evince some sympathy for or connections to radical Islam? People who knew Mateen did feel they saw something, and they did say something. And the FBI investigated.

We have no reason to believe their investigation was incompetent in terms of not uncovering things that were uncoverable, unless we believe they should either be seers or be so suspicious of all Muslims that they should have initiated some sort of 24 hour tail on Mateen. They looked into him, discovered he had committed no crimes, and eventually took his name off a terror watch list. (And had they kept him on it, that too would have had no bearing on their ability to prevent him from committing this crime.)

Are advocates of increased surveillance of suspected terrorist sympathizers imagining preventive detention of the suspicious as necessary and proper? Do they believe if cops listened in on every phone call and read every email in real time, that the plans to murder would be discussed out loud in plenty of time to swoop in and stop them?

The use of government manpower to investigate people who said the wrong things or had the wrong associates in the field of terror in the vastly overwhelming majority of cases are merely harassing people who have committed no crime and don't realistically plan to do so. And even when such surveillance or investigations are not harassing the innocent, or not ginning up attempted crimes that would not have even happened without the FBI's encouragement, the Mateen case shows that using such techniques to prevent future crime rather than investigate and punish past crime is not apt to accomplish much either.

Treating a huge sector of American society for reasons of ethnicity or religion or ideology or associates as inherently worthy of deep, extended investigatory attention from government has, understandably, a bad reputation in American history, even when the ideology under investigation is genuinely ugly. And as this week shows, such surveillance or investigations don't hold much promise to actually accomplish much in the way of public safety for the costs to the dignity and privacy and right-to-be-left alone of those targeted.

For those who think that hateful attitudes or expression toward others (even when they fall short of violence) need to be extirpated or punished, well, that is certainly a more and more popular attitude in the West. I imagine it makes perfect sense to those who reacted to the last sentence of 1984 with anything other than a chill of horror, or those who have a hard time seeing any principle or value behind freedom of conscience or freedom of expression, those cores of Western liberty, other than "it is only good to say and think good things." There are costs to giving power over conscience and expression to government, and they won't only be used where you think they ought to be used.

As for guns, you may believe in the Second Amendment, sort of, or not believe in disarming all American in all circumstances but just think when it comes to certain kinds of guns you want to call "assault rifles" or certain size magazines that there's no good reason to allow them to stay in circulation.

Almost universally, those kinds of guns or magazines of a certain size are not used to harm anyone. But they clearly can be, and those who want them gone can't think of any good reason some one would want one, certainly not a reason good enough to justify even the slightest chance it can be used to harm someone. (It might be worth considering the specific types of weapons or magazines usually targeted by these "reasonable" gun control recommendations aren't necessarily any more deadly than other kinds.)

One can even grant two suppositions—that the innocent should be robbed of the use of some existing tool because the evil may misuse it if you aren't satisfied with their reasons for wanting it, or even that it would be a better world if no one had those kind of weapons and those sized magazines—and still doubt trying to pass and enforce such laws is worth it.

America already has had a couple of wide-scale experiments, with alcohol and drugs, in banning or forbidding something that already exists here in America in vast profusion, and/or is relatively easy to smuggle in. Booze, drugs, guns, magazines, all things that in some cases can facilitate or further or help cause harm to others; and that in the vast majority of cases are used for private pleasure and fulfillment of a sort an outsider might scoff at but whose pursuit can be seen as core to liberty writ large: the ability to choose how to shape your life and leisure, as long as you are not actually harming someone else's life or property.

So we already know here in America that there are enormous costs associated with such attempts to police the nation and find and confiscate and punish people over existing items that people want and that they almost never harm others with. Such costs can be seen especially in the harassment and punishment of the actually innocent (that is, those who might be violating the prohibition on owning or using the contraband, but would not ever have harmed someone else), and these costs which almost certainly will fall the hardest on our culture's poorest and least respected. They can be huge and should not be taken on lightly.

You might think that murder is not a "light" reason and indeed it is not. But given the combination of other ways to kill (guns were not part of either the 9/11 or Boston marathon terror attacks), the existence of so many of those weapons and magazines already, and the vanishingly small number of cases in which their absence would have made murder impossible, the costs of a new war on a new form of contraband—one which police could make the case present such a danger to them that already overly violent policy practice would get even more violent thus conceivably leading to more deaths than that would-be contraband cause now—seem, to some Americans, to outweigh any imagined benefit. (Unless the only benefit is the ritual of "doing something.")

So, those are some reasons some people don't instantly leap to the conclusion that something new must be done by government in the face of this horrible mass murder Orlando just suffered through.

To be fair, if you believe any amount of harassment or restrictions on the innocent's ability to peacefully move through American life unmolested is meaningless in the face of a vanishingly small possibility that you might prevent a murder or murders from occurring, then those reasons will not be convincing to you.

But there might be cultural and historical reasons that those more libertarian-leaning attitudes can be found in your fellow Americans, as your "any price in terms of liberty is worth paying in pursuit of any possibility of safety" attitude is strongly at odds with the structure and philosophy of American government and life as it was constituted, at its best.

Source: There Is No Legal Solution to Crimes like Orlando | Foundation for Economic Education

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Worlds of Ultima: The Savage Empire (DOS)

Worlds of Ultima: The Savage Empire (DOS)

Brevard Renaissance Faire 2016 - The Craic Show (part 6) (2016-02-07)

Brevard Renaissance Faire 2016 - The Craic Show (part 6) (2016-02-07)

The Craic Show performing at the inaugural Brevard Renaissance Faire in Melbourne, Florida.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Gary Johnson: Ryan has a chance to admit ‘mistake’ in endorsing Trump

Gary Johnson: Ryan has a chance to admit ‘mistake’ in endorsing Trump

Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson said House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) can still say he made a mistake in endorsing Donald Trump, even if that doesn’t mean getting behind the Libertarian ticket.

“It’s too bad that Paul Ryan has really stuck his neck out, if you will, in endorsing Donald Trump,” Johnson said in an interview with CNN to air Sunday.

Johnson pointed out that Ryan has had to distance himself from many of the presumptive GOP presidential nominee’s comments — most recently his ban on Muslim immigration.

“I think Paul Ryan has an opportunity here to say, ‘Look, I made a mistake.’ I’m not saying that results in an endorsement of me, but come on, the statements that he’s making — he’s made 100 statements that would disqualify any other presidential candidate from running, and yet all you have to do is turn the page and tomorrow it will be 102.”

CNN anchor Erin Burnett asked Johnson about a past interview with 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, in which he said he would consider voting libertarian.

House Leaders Politicize a Tragedy to Block Bipartisan Surveillance Reforms

House Leaders Politicize a Tragedy to Block Bipartisan Surveillance Reforms

After hurdling procedural barriers, a congressional attempt to protect privacy and encryption failed on the House floor yesterday, falling short of a majority by a mere 24 votes.

Two years ago, the House stood united across party lines, voting by a remarkable margin of 293–123 to support the same measures, which would enhance security and privacy by limiting the powers of intelligence agencies to conduct warrantless backdoor searches targeting Americans, and to undermine encryption standards and devices.

This week, the intelligence community broke that consensus by inappropriately politicizing the recent tragedy in Orlando. Before Thursday's vote, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), circulated a letter falsely claiming that:
If this amendment were enacted, the Intelligence Community would not be able to look through information lawfully collected under FISA Section 702 to see if...the Orlando nightclub attacker was in contact with any terrorist groups outside the United States.
These claims were downright disingenuous.

As members of the intelligence committee well know, the government will have no problem securing warrants to search the Orlando attacker's online communications. Warrants are not difficult to secure when appropriate. The only thing a warrant requirement would do is prevent the government from abusing its powers, as it repeatedly has in the past.

The clever misrepresentations about the proposed amendment, and unproven and ultimately spurious claims that it would undermine national security, prompted efforts to correct the debate and inform policymakers of the truth, leading dozens of members of Congress to switch sides in both directions. Ultimately, the House chose to reverse two previous votes overwhelmingly supporting precisely the same amendment.

We are greatly disappointed that the House chose to abandon its prior votes defending the rights of constituents, and particularly in those members who accepted the canard that simply requiring the government to obtain a judicial warrant before searching Section 702 intelligence databases would hinder investigations.

Observers who share our concerns have opportunities to impact the debate going forward. First, contact your federal representative to share your views, especially if yours was one of the dozens who shifted their position.

But don’t stop there: August will present a key point in time when—visiting their districts just a few months before an election with likely high turnout driven by a presidential election cycle—members of Congress will be at their most politically vulnerable, exposed, and therefore receptive to grassroots concerns.

If you’d like to take advantage of the opportunity to share your views with your representatives in a forum more influential than a phone call, confirm how your representative voted, recruit a handful of friends to form a local group, and join the Electronic Frontier Alliance.

Source: House Leaders Politicize a Tragedy to Block Bipartisan Surveillance Reforms | Electronic Frontier Foundation

Friday, June 17, 2016

Space Coast Nerd Fest 2016 - Michael Winslow

Space Coast Nerd Fest 2016 - Michael Winslow

Michael Winslow Q & A panel at the 2016 Space Coast Nerd Fest in Melbourne, Florida.

Known as the man of 10,000 sound effects, Michael Winslow is probably best known for is role in the Police Academy movies.

Electronic Games – August 1982

Electronic Games – August 1982

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

[A Tale of Two Cities] has the best of Dickens and the worst of Dickens: a dark, driven opening, and a celestial but melodramatic ending; a terrifyingly demonic villainess and (even by Dickens’ standards) an impossibly angelic heroine. Though its version of the French Revolution is brutally simplified, its engagement with the immense moral themes of rebirth and terror, justice, and sacrifice gets right to the heart of the matter . . . For every reader in the past hundred and forty years and for hundreds to come, it is an unforgettable ride.

The world’s oldest computer is still revealing its secrets

The world’s oldest computer is still revealing its secrets

Item 15087 wasn’t much to look at, particularly compared to other wonders uncovered from the shipwreck at Antikythera, Greece, in 1901. The underwater excavation revealed gorgeous bronze sculptures, ropes of decadent jewelry and a treasure trove of antique coins.

Amid all that splendor, who could have guessed that a shoebox-size mangled bronze machine, its inscriptions barely legible, its gears calcified and corroded, would be the discovery that could captivate scientists for more than a century?

“In this very small volume of messed-up corroded metal you have packed in there enough knowledge to fill several books telling us about ancient technology, ancient science and the way these interacted with the broader culture of the time,” said Alexander Jones, a historian of ancient science at New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. “It would be hard to dispute that this is the single most information-rich object that has been uncovered by archaeologists from ancient times.”

Jones is part of an international team of archaeologists, astronomers and historians who have labored for the past 10 years to decipher the mechanism’s many mysteries. The results of their research, including the text of a long explanatory “label” revealed through X-ray analysis, were just published in a special issue of the journal Almagest, which examines the history and philosophy of science.

The findings substantially improve our understanding of the instrument’s origins and purpose, Jones said, offering hints at where and by whom the mechanism was made, and how it might have been used. It looks increasingly like a “philosopher’s guide to the galaxy,” as the Associated Press put it — functioning as a teaching tool, a status symbol and an elaborate celebration of the wonders of ancient science and technology.

In its prime, about 2,100 years ago, the Antikythera (an-ti-KEE-thur-a) Mechanism was a complex, whirling, clockwork instrument comprising at least 30 bronze gears bearing thousands of interlocking tiny teeth. Powered by a single hand crank, the machine modeled the passage of time and the movements of celestial bodies with astonishing precision. It had dials that counted the days according to at least three different calendars, and another that could be used to calculate the timing of the Olympics. Pointers representing the stars and planets revolved around its front face, indicating their position in relation to Earth. A tiny, painted model of the moon rotated on a spindly axis, flashing black and white to mimic the real moon’s waxing and waning.

The sum of all these moving parts was far and away the most sophisticated piece of machinery found from ancient Greece. Nothing like it would appear again until the 14th century, when the earliest geared clocks began to be built in Europe. For the first half century after its discovery, researchers believed that the Antikythera Mechanism had to be something simpler than it seemed, like an astrolabe. How could the Greeks have developed the technology needed to create something so precise, so perfect — only to have it vanish for 1,400 years?

But then Derek de Solla Price, a polymath physicist and science historian at Yale University, traveled to the National Archaeological Museum in Athens to take a look at the enigmatic piece of machinery. In a 1959 paper in Scientific American, he posited that the Antikythera Mechanism was actually the world’s first known “computer,” capable of calculating astronomical events and illustrating the workings of the universe. Over the next two and a half decades, he described in meticulous detail how the mechanism’s diverse functions could be elucidated from the relationships among its intricately interlocked gears.

“Nothing like this instrument is preserved elsewhere. Nothing comparable to it is known from any ancient scientific text or literary allusion,” he wrote.

That wasn’t completely accurate — Cicero wrote of a instrument made by the first century BCE scholar Posidonius of Rhodes that “at each revolution reproduces the same motions of the Sun, the Moon and the five planets that take place in the heavens every day and night.” But it was true that the existence of the Antikythera Mechanism challenged all of scientists’ assumptions about what the ancient Greeks were capable of.

“It is a bit frightening to know that just before the fall of their great civilization the ancient Greeks had come so close to our age, not only in their thought, but also in their scientific technology,” Price said.

Still, the degree of damage to the ancient plates and gears meant that many key questions about the the instrument couldn’t be answered with the technology of Price’s day. Many of the internal workings were clogged or corroded, and the inscriptions were faded or covered up by plates that had been crushed together.

Enter X-ray scanning and imaging technology, which have finally become powerful enough to allow researchers to peer beneath the machine’s calcified surfaces. A decade ago, a diverse group of scientists teamed up to form the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project (AMRP), which would take advantage of that new capability. Their initial results, which illuminated some of the complex inner workings of the machine, were exciting enough to persuade Jones to jump on board.

Fluent in Ancient Greek, he was able to translate the hundreds of new characters revealed in the advanced imaging process.

“Before, we had scraps of the text that was hiding inside these fragments, but there was still a lot of noise,” he said. By combining X-ray images with the impressions left on material that had stuck to the original bronze, “it was like a double jigsaw puzzle that we were able to use for a much clearer reading.”

The main discovery was a more than 3,500-word explanatory text on the main plate of the instrument. It’s not quite an instruction manual — speaking to reporters, Jones’s colleague Mike Edmunds compared it to the long label beside an item in a museum display, according to the AP.

“It’s not telling you how to use it. It says, ‘What you see is such and such,’ rather than, ‘Turn this knob and it shows you something,’ ” he explained.

Other newly translated excerpts included descriptions of a calendar unique to the northern Greek city of Corinth and tiny orbs — now believed lost to the sandy sea bottom — that once moved across the instrument’s face in perfect simulation of the true motion of the five known planets, as well as a mark on the dial that gave the dates of various athletic events, including a relatively minor competition that was held in the city of Rhodes.

Senate Votes for Equal Slavery for Women

Senate Votes for Equal Slavery for Women

The New York Times reported today:
"The United States Senate voted to pass a defense bill today that would require young women to sign up for a potential military draft for the first time in U.S. history."
This issue was bound to come up eventually, as women have recently been allowed to compete for combat positions on the front line. Captain Kristen Griest’s recent completion of Army Ranger School and assignment as an Infantry officer is evidence of this shift in both policy and culture.

The accepted logic goes that if women have equal access to all jobs in the military, they ought to have equal responsibility with respect to the draft. And make no mistake: even though there has not been a draft since the 1970s, the ultimate purpose of Selective Service registration is precisely to enable a draft when deemed necessary.

Many are applauding these changes as an important step towards “equality” and recognition of women’s capabilities. But the focus on equality is masking the underlying injustice of the law in the first place. The more important issue is that forcing anyone to register for Selective Service is unjust because it is based on coercion (and has the potential to place otherwise peaceful people into violent situations). Let’s examine why.

Penalties for failing to register with Selective Service

It is a statute that institutionalizes indentured servitude whenever the government sees fit.

Most people are aware that failing to register with Selective Service makes a man ineligible for federal student financial aid, and seriously impacts his ability to get a government job, obtain a security clearance, or gain citizenship. Fine, you may say – a young man who does not want to register can pay the price by not pursuing federal financial aid, and not getting a government job, security clearance, or applying for citizenship. That is a fair trade, and at least there is no violation of natural rights in that scenario; all a man needs to do is exercise his right to opt out or disassociate. But there’s more:
"Failing to register or comply with the Military Selective Service Act is a felony punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 or a prison term of up to five years, or a combination of both. Also, a person who knowingly counsels, aids, or abets another to fail to comply with the Act is subject to the same penalties. (Selective Service System)"
And there you have it – where the law is exposed for what it really is: a statute that institutionalizes indentured servitude whenever the government sees fit. That is exactly what military service is, whether you join voluntarily or are conscripted into the armed forces (read why here). Now if you refuse to register, your entire professional life is likely to be destroyed. Any person who recognizes the principle of self-ownership will immediately understand why requiring a person to register for the draft is the antithesis of personal freedom. If you fail to register, you risk your liberty (through jail time) or the fruits of your labor (by paying a fine) for committing no crime at all. There is no reason to believe that if women are made to register for Selective Service that these penalties will change – and they will infringe on women’s rights the same way that they currently infringe on men’s rights.

No Great Step for Women

The mere presence of a draft registration is an assertion that some people are qualified to put other people’s lives at risk.

This article is not meant to doubt the ability of women to perform physically demanding tasks in dangerous, high-stakes environments. Indeed, women have been successfully engaged in many different roles during war for decades, as medics, pilots, gunners, Female Engagement Team members, and more. Unfortunately, many people have been pining for “equal” treatment for women without considering what the actual treatment is – and whether it’s a good thing for men, either.

The real issue at play with this latest amendment is not whether women can or should fill combat roles, and thereby be eligible for the draft. The real issue is that a Selective Service registration (which leads to a draft) is immoral for both men and women, and that neither should be required to register at risk of becoming a felon, being fined, or being put in jail. The mere presence of a draft registration is an assertion that some people are qualified to put other people’s lives at risk. They aren’t.

Moreover, an important point is missing from the national discussion: if the United States were actually to be attacked, there would be no shortage of volunteers to defend the country. Instead, a draft would most likely be utilized to fight a war in which willing volunteers were hard to find…which is perhaps a damning indictment of the motives for a particular war.

While many are hailing Selective Service registration as a step forward for women, I am rather reminded of these wise words from Alexis de Tocqueville: “Americans are so enamored of equality that they would rather be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom.”

Source: Senate Votes for Equal Slavery for Women | Foundation for Economic Education

Minimum-Wage Supporters Believe in Magic

Minimum-Wage Supporters Believe in Magic

An e-mail exchange this morning with a pro-minimum-wage economics professor who not only wishes to remain anonymous but who asks that I not even quote him directly prompts the following thought about minimum-wage proponents’ belief in miracles.

Workers with a great deal of work experience earn, on average, much higher wages than do workers with no or only very little work experience. Given this reality, suppose that Congress, with the support of President Clump, enacts the following statute: "No one with less than five years of work experience is allowed to be employed for pay."

At the signing ceremony for this diktat, Pres. Clump triumphantly proclaims that
Contrary to the predictions of naysayers and free-market ideologues, this legislation will cause no one to lose a job. Instead, it will simply give to all workers — even to 16 year olds! — a minimum of five years of work experience. There is nothing that a powerful and determined government with good intentions cannot do!
Immediately, however, everyone reacts with astonishment at the stupidity of Congress and the president. Even editorialists and columnists for the New York Times observe that, as one especially famous columnist observes, “Many workers simply don’t have five years of work experience. They will remain unemployed.”

In response to this surprising opposition from their “Progressive” friends, Congress and Pres. Clump add the following amendment to the above legislation: "Each and every worker in America is hereby decreed to possess at least five years of work experience."

Editorialists and columnists for the New York Times breathe a sigh of relief and declare that this amendment ensures that all is now right with this legislation! It will work only good for American workers!

In contrast, editorialists for more skeptical outlets, such as the Wall Street Journal and the Orange County Register remain flabbergasted that anyone believes in such miracle-working.

If you, dear reader, think the above hypothetical is silly, recognize that minimum-wage legislation is a very similar attempt by government to work a miracle through legislative decree.

In markets in which workers are free to quit and to seek out new jobs, and in which employers — long-established and just starting — are largely free to compete for workers, each worker is worth to employers what that worker is worth. That is, in such markets, each worker’s hourly worth to employers equals the value that he or she adds each hour to his or her employer’s bottom line. A worker whose skills and other attributes enable him to add at most only $7.00 per hour to any employer’s revenues will not be hired at an hourly wage above $7.00 per hour. All such workers will remain unemployed (in the formal sector) today at the current national minimum wage in the U.S. of $7.25 per hour.

Supporters of the minimum wage who insist that it destroys no employment opportunities for any workers believe in the following miracle: when government decrees that each worker shall be paid at least $7.25 per hour, all workers are thereby miraculously infused with the skills and work-experience necessary for each of them to produce for employers at least $7.25 per hour.

The only difference separating minimum-wage legislation from the above hypothetical diktat lies in the wording of the incantations. Minimum-wage statutes and regulations specify the minimum that each worker must be paid, while the above hypothetical diktat specifies the minimum amount of experience (a good proxy for skill) that each worker must possess. Both instances of sorcery pretend to miraculously alter the same reality — namely, the productivity of low-skilled workers.

Source: Minimum-Wage Supporters Believe in Magic | Foundation for Economic Education

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Space Coast Nerd Fest 2016 - George Lowe

Space Coast Nerd Fest 2016 - George Lowe

George Lowe Q&A panel at the 2016 Space Coast Nerd Fest in Melbourne, Florida.

George Lowe is perhaps best known for his role as the voice of Space Ghost on the Cartoon Network/Adult Swim talk show Space Ghost Coast to Coast, a role which he played for every episode – except the two unaired pilots and the episodes "Pilot" and "Hipster" – spanning fourteen years before the series ended in 2008; he also played the part for its spin-off Cartoon Planet.

RUN – Issue Number 22 – October 1985

RUN – Issue Number 22 – October 1985

Brevard Renaisance Faire 2016 - Cu Dubh (part 3) (2016-02-07)

Brevard Renaisance Faire 2016 - Cu Dubh (part 3) (2016-02-07)

Cu Dubh performing at the inaugural Brevard Renaissance Fair in Melbourne, Florida.