DYSPEPSIA GENERATION

We have seen the future, and it sucks.

Archive for September, 2014

‘Kill Climate Deniers’ – Upcoming New Theatre Funded by the ACT Govt (Canberra)

30th September 2014

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I can hear the chorus of ‘BURN THE WITCH!’ in the background.

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Buy a Brick, Help Build the Nikola Tesla Museum

30th September 2014

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Inman got Elon Musk to donate a million dollars to the cause. Now it’s time up to us to raise the rest. The goal of this campaign is to fund the removal of hazardous materials on the property and the renovation of the Stanford White building.

Donate $125 and your name (or whatever message you choose) will be engraved on a brick that will be used to build the Tesla museum. Pledge larger amounts and you’ll get bigger brick and some extra perks to book. You can check out the campaign on Indiegogo here.

Posted in Think about it. | Comments Off on Buy a Brick, Help Build the Nikola Tesla Museum

California to Launch Medicaid-Funded Teledentistry

30th September 2014

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California Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law a bill that would require Medi-Cal, the state’s insurance program for the poor, to pay for dental services delivered by teams of hygienists and dentists connected through the Internet.

Better thee than me, brother.

Posted in Your tax dollars at work - and play. | 2 Comments »

The Body Electric

30th September 2014

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Every year, more than 500 Americans will be struck by lightning—and roughly 90 percent of them will survive. Though they remain among the living, their minds and bodies will be instantly, fundamentally altered in ways that still leave scientists scratching their heads.

Posted in Think about it. | 1 Comment »

Why Peak-Oil Predictions Haven’t Come True

30th September 2014

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For decades, it has been a doomsday scenario looming large in the popular imagination: The world’s oil production tops out and then starts an inexorable decline—sending costs soaring and forcing nations to lay down strict rationing programs and battle for shrinking reserves.

U.S. oil production did peak in the 1970s and sank for decades after, exactly as the theory predicted. But then it did something the theory didn’t predict: It started rising again in 2009, and hasn’t stopped, thanks to a leap forward in oil-field technology.

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Why Everybody Is Moving to Texas

30th September 2014

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Jobs is the No. 1 reason for population moves, with affordable housing a close second.

Posted in Is this a great country, or what? | 1 Comment »

Cops Seize Car When Told to Get a Warrant, Tell Owner That’s What He Gets for ‘Exercising His Rights’

29th September 2014

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It’s Hard to be Saints in the City

29th September 2014

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A new documentary shows how Benedictine monks make men out of Newark’s boys.

The monks are serious about building men. The boys don’t just participate in the community; they eventually help run the school, despite their self-doubts. Seniors supervise freshmen; a student leader, not a priest, runs every morning’s convocation; students take attendance and even follow up with absentees.

As they’ve been doing for a thousand years.

Posted in News You Can Use. | 2 Comments »

Don’t Jump to Conclusions

29th September 2014

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Many pundits, especially highly intelligent liberal pundits, often fall into the trap (fatal conceit?) of assuming that because they can’t explain why the market would do something, the market must be wrong. But markets are almost infinitely subtle.

The chief problem with our economy is that it’s run by people (mostly politicians) whose chief characteristic is the inability to think things through.

Posted in Think about it. | 1 Comment »

The Rise of the Lumpenintelligentsia

28th September 2014

Steve Sailer has found a new tag for an invasive modern species.

The rise of the lumpenintelligentsia is a major development of Internet Age journalism. Below from Salon is a self-portrait by somebody named Daisy Hernandez of a modern Salon-type scribe in all her self-absorption, racism, sexism, wounded amour propre, dimwittedness, and general cluelessness.

My theory is that the rise of lumpenintellectuals like Ms. Hernandez is tied to the relative rise of advertising revenue relative to subscription revenue. For example, I pay a not insubstantial $3.75 per week to subscribe to the New York Times, but Slate, Salon, The Atlantic and other clickbait sites are advertiser-supported.

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Humans Naturally Follow Crowd Behavior

28th September 2014

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In fact, recent studies suggest that our sensitivity to crowds is built into our perceptual system and operates in a remarkably swift and automatic way. In a 2012 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, A.C. Gallup, then at Princeton University, and colleagues looked at the crowds that gather in shopping centers and train stations.

In one study, a few ringers simply joined the crowd and stared up at a spot in the sky for 60 seconds. Then the researchers recorded and analyzed the movements of the people around them. The scientists found that within seconds hundreds of people coordinated their attention in a highly systematic way. People consistently stopped to look toward exactly the same spot as the ringers.

The number of ringers ranged from one to 15. People turn out to be very sensitive to how many other people are looking at something, as well as to where they look. Individuals were much more likely to follow the gaze of several people than just a few, so there was a cascade of looking as more people joined in.

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Did the Vikings Get a Bum Rap?

28th September 2014

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In 782, for instance, Charlemagne, now heralded as the original unifier of Europe, beheaded 4,500 Saxon captives on a single day. “The Vikings never got close to that level of efficiency,” Winroth says, drily.

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A Promising Step Toward Round-the-Clock Solar Power

28th September 2014

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If solar power is to become a primary source of electricity around the world, we’ll need cheap ways to store energy from the sun when it isn’t shining. A paper published in the journal Science this week reports a major step toward such a system. Researchers have developed a device that cheaply and efficiently converts the energy in sunlight into hydrogen, which can be used as a fuel and is easily stored.

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Unlock the Secrets of Your Poop

28th September 2014

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Just in case you were wondering. I know I was.

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The World’s First Genetically Modified Babies Will Graduate High School This Year

28th September 2014

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The first successful transfer of genetic material for this purpose was published in a U.S. medical journal in 1997 and then later cited in a Human Reproduction publication in 2001. Scientists injected 30 embryos in all with a third person’s genetic material. The children who have been produced by this method actually have extra snippets of mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA, from two mothers – meaning these babies technically have three parents.

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California Blue Whales, Once Nearly Extinct, Are Back at Historic Levels

28th September 2014

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So shut up about the fargin whales already.

Posted in News You Can Use. | 1 Comment »

Income Inequality and the Fed Report

28th September 2014

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The Fed didn’t actually study how family income changed over time. Instead, they looked at one random sample of families in 2010, and a *different* random sample of families in 2013.

The confusion stems from how they gave the two groups the same name. Instead of “Oakland A’s,” they called them “Top 10 Percent”. But those are different families in the two groups.

Everything you need to know about the latest income inequality scare.

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Douthat: “The Cult Deficit”

28th September 2014

Steve Sailer ponders the latest from Ross Douthat.

I particularly enjoy his discussion of ‘the Harvard-Yale cult’, of which I am a proud member.\

The whole point of Skull and Bones is to create a tiny self-perpetuating elite within the small elite of Harvard-Yale insiders: e.g., Secretary of State John F. Kerry (Class of ’66) was one of the Bonesmen who tapped the Class of ’67 Bonesmen who tapped President George W. Bush (Class of ’68). Thus having both Presidential nominees be Bonesmen is just the fulfillment of the plan.

The fact that Bones includes a mediocrity like Bush and a flake like Kerry suggests that the system still has a few bugs in it.

Indeed, I think a good case could be made that if the Constitution excluded from the office of the Presidency anybody who had an Ivy League degree, the world would be a much better place. (Certainly it would have taken a very different turn starting in about, oh, 1900.)

Posted in Think about it. | Comments Off on Douthat: “The Cult Deficit”

HAPPY DANCE SUNDAY

28th September 2014

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

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Threats Against Children of Colorado School Board Members Investigated

28th September 2014

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Investigators are looking into threats reportedly made against the children of members of the board of education of Jefferson County, Colorado (JeffCo), where thousands of students have walked out of classes to protest what they have been told is an attempt to teach them patriotism and citizenship and discourage civil disobedience.

The forces of tolerance and inclusion strike again.

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What to Expect From the Earth’s Impending Magnetic Flip

28th September 2014

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(Aside, of course, from a lot of writers at places like Salon wringing their hands about how the government needs to establish new expensive programs, at your expense, to cope with something that may never happen.)

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Americans Have No Idea How Bad Inequality Really Is

28th September 2014

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Mostly because, being reasonable adults, they don’t much care that somebody has more money than they do.

Unlike, for instance, the people who write for Slate.

Posted in Axis of Drivel. | 1 Comment »

Inside the World of Longsword Fighting

27th September 2014

Watch it.

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How Should We Program Computers to Deceive?

27th September 2014

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Just outside the Benrath Senior Center in Du?sseldorf, Germany, is a bus stop at which no bus stops. The bench and the official-looking sign were installed to serve as a “honey trap” to attract patients with dementia who sometimes wander off from the facility, trying to get home. Instead of venturing blindly into the city and triggering a police search, they see the sign and wait for a bus that will never come. After a while, someone gently invites them back inside.

It’s rare to come across such a beautiful deception. Tolerable ones, however, are a dime a dozen. Human society has always glided along on a cushion of what Saint Augustine called “charitable lies”—untruths deployed to avoid conflict, ward off hurt feelings, maintain boundaries, or simply keep conversation moving—even as other, more selfish deceptions corrode relationships, rob us of the ability to make informed decisions, and eat away at the reserves of trust that keep society afloat. What’s tricky about deceit is that, contrary to blanket prohibitions against lying, our actual moral stances toward it are often murky and context-dependent.

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Column A, Column B

27th September 2014

Freeberg adds to our knowledge yet again.

I believe, or am at least tinkering with the possibility that, he’s discovering Architects and Medicators, the former of whom are going to be in Column A because there’s no place else for them to be. If the mystery-black-box breaks and nobody knows how it works, in their world you take it apart and figure that out. Watches have to have gears, the computer has to have a processor. Composites have atomics. These guys aren’t happy until the composites have been broken down, especially if the composite is busted; if there is all this importance placed on a “somewhere out there” then the first thing they’ll do is saddle up and go find out what that is.

That’s really been the distinction, at least what I had in mind, since I started writing about them. Medicators medicate. They may have responsibilities, and these responsibilities may load them up with stress that they need to bleed out or off-load somewhere; they’ll do that by means of something repetitive and non-edifying. Something like Barack Obama’s 15 games of Spades — something that does not intentionally change the state of any object, as furniture-building or quilt-making would, and something that does not bring new information to its instigator. They’re not big on the “go find out what it is” thing, so when they explain how a certain thing works their explanations tend to rely a great deal on these “somethings” and “somewheres.”

Which is not to say, I’ve noticed, that they are willing to let go of control and are accepting of fate. Heavens no. This is Robespierre in a nutshell, along with quite a few lefties who’ve been in the public eye lately. They’ve had ample opportunity to explain themselves and their explanations all follow the same theme: Something something something, somewhere somewhere somewhere, The American People Have Spoken, and so — it’s all going to happen My Way, and everybody agrees that’s the right way to go and if you don’t agree then you’re a hater or a something-IST.

And don’t dare ask that Thing That Shall Not Be Asked: How do we know this will go any better than the last time you guys said that? Or: What, specifically, have you changed in your plan to make sure it doesn’t suck as much as it did last time? Those questions, too, make you a hater or a something-IST. Just like the guys waiting in line to be guillotined, back in the day.

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The Shirky Principle

27th September 2014

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The Shirky Principle declares that complex solutions (like a company, or an industry) can become so dedicated to the problem they are the solution to, that often they inadvertently perpetuate the problem.

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Subjunctive Subtleties

27th September 2014

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The subjunctive is there for a reason. Use it properly.

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USEFUL STUFF SATURDAY

27th September 2014

Smartphone microscope.

Submarine yacht.

Chocolate skulls. I am not making this up.

Potato chip coasters.

ThermalStrike luggage.

Pixel Waffle Maker.

Gravity Maze.

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Moore’s Law and Good Enough

27th September 2014

Jerry Pournelle has restarted his column on tech.

As of Summer 2014, a large percentage of jobs – I now believe more than 45% within ten years – can be done by a robot costing no more than a year’s salary to the current human worker. With the government keeping interest rates low this raises the temptation to borrow capital and – instead of paying it to a worker – using it to buy a robot that will pay for itself after a year, and thereafter require only maintenance and power, and when that robot is no longer useful it can be scrapped rather than being paid to retire. This will have an inevitable effect on the economy. It may have a direct effect on you.

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Obama Administration Learns: If You Redefine Every Word in the Dictionary, You Can Get Away With Just About Anything

26th September 2014

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We’ve written before about how the NSA uses its own definitions of some fairly basic English words, in order to pretend to have the authority to do things it probably… doesn’t really have authority to do. It’s become clear that this powergrab-by-redefinition is not unique to the NSA when it comes to the executive branch of the government. Earlier this year, we also wrote about the stunning steady redefinition of words within the infamous “Authorization to Use Military Force” (AUMF) that was passed by Congress immediately after September 11, 2001. It officially let the President use “all necessary and appropriate force” against those who “planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.” But, over time, the AUMF was being used to justify efforts against folks who had nothing to do with September 11th, leading to this neat sleight of hand in which the military started pretending that the AUMF also applied to “associated forces.” That phrase appears nowhere in the AUMF, but it’s a phrase that is regularly repeated and claimed by the administration and the military.

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Against Stuff!

26th September 2014

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You knew that climate change could be blamed for any kind of weather, but did you know that the underlying cause is not, in fact, carbon emissions but racism? That was one of about a thousand thrown-together messages put forward by the People’s Climate March, a recent NYC-centered network of rallies in support of something called “climate justice.”

All three words of the event’s title should give you pause: the possessive “people’s” is, so far as I can tell, the most naked signal of Stalinism; “climate”—when not being used by your grandparents while attempting to decide between Palm Springs and Pebble Beach—refers to the belief that politicians can control the weather; “march” conjures to mind stinking dreadlocks and half-digested critical theory more than it does soldiers marching in lockstep.

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The Free Speech Movement at 50

26th September 2014

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The movement won; free speech lost.

It was never about free speech; it was always about the draft. When the draft went away, so did the movement.

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Greed, Conscience, and Big Government

26th September 2014

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The financial crisis of 2007-2008, which led to the Great Recession, has been blamed on several things. Financial institutions are leading scapegoats. In particular, there were the retail institutions that lent money at low interest rates (made so by the Fed) to high-risk borrowers (in keeping with government policy), and there were the Wall Street institutions that “poisoned” financial markets by securitizing bundles of high-risk mortgage loans.

In both cases, the institutions are said to have been “greedy” in pursuit of greater profits. That “crime” (which is only a “crime” when someone else commits it) was in fact “committed” in ways that were perfectly legal and passed muster with government regulators. In sum, the financial crisis and subsequent recession were deeply rooted in government failure — not “greed.” For chapter and verse, see Arnold Kling’s monograph, Not What They Had in Mind.

Nevertheless, greed is often blamed for the financial crisis and its aftermath. Why? Because it’s a simple, mindless generalization that plays into the left’s perpetual campaign against “the rich” — a.k.a. biting the hand that feeds them.  And it’s certainly a lot easier for ignoramuses (leftist or otherwise) to parrot “greed” than to seek the truth.

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How the Apple Watch Could Help Revolutionize Health Care

26th September 2014

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This is just one of many promising ways in which Silicon Valley is poised to remake the monstrously inefficient health care industry. But can the tech industry stop the government from strangling its emerging ventures?

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Report: 70 Percent of Illegal Immigrant Families Released into U.S. Failed to Report to Feds

26th September 2014

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About 70 percent of the tens of thousands illegal immigrant family units detained crossing the U.S./Mexico border and released into the United States have failed to fulfill their obligation to report back to immigration officials, according to a new report.

My, what a surprise! Aren’t you surprised? I’m sure surprised.

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‘We Only Whisper It’

26th September 2014

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg, having decided for some inexplicable reason to do a long interview with a fashion magazine (maybe it is her celebrated collection of lace collars), reaffirmed the most important things we know about her: her partisanship, her elevation of politics over law, and her desire to see as many poor children killed as is feasibly possible.

Speaking about such modest restrictions on abortion as have been enacted over the past several years, Justice Ginsburg lamented that “the impact of all these restrictions is on poor women.” Then she added: “It makes no sense as a national policy to promote birth only among poor people.”

This is not her first time weighing in on the question of what by any intellectually honest standard must be described as eugenics. In an earlier interview, she described the Roe v. Wade decision as being intended to control population growth, “particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.” She was correct in her assessment of Roe; the co-counsel in that case, Ron Weddington, would later advise President Bill Clinton: “You can start immediately to eliminate the barely educated, unhealthy, and poor segment of our country,” by making abortifacients cheap and universally available. “It’s what we all know is true, but we only whisper it.”

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Harvard Gives Student Full Ride After He Tells Them He’s Illegal Immigrant

26th September 2014

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When Dario Guerrero, an illegal immigrant who found out about his status in high school, told Harvard that he was in the country illegally, the school encouraged him to apply–and gave him a full scholarship after he was accepted.

Writing in the Washington Post, Guerrero, who is currently a junior at the university, said after an MIT official recommended that he not apply to the school during a trip to visit college, he “left the office in a daze” because MIT had been his dream school. He started walking down Massachusetts Avenue” and, “without really planning it, I found myself in the middle of Harvard.” A Harvard admissions officer told him, “If you are admitted to Harvard College, we will meet your full financial need without regard to your legal status.”

He eventually got in, and “they gave me a full ride. This meant I wouldn’t have to worry about student loans or quarterly tuition payments; that I always had a place to stay away from home; that I could travel every semester, on Harvard’s dime, back to California; that my parents would never have to worry whether I’d finish school. Those are luxuries few people, documented or not, ever have.”

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Michigan SEIU Branch Allowed to Keep Millions Taken From Home Health Care Workers

26th September 2014

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A Michigan court ruled that the state branch of the powerful Service Employees International Union does not have to pay back tens of millions of dollars in dues taken from home health care workers who were forced into unionization.

The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled last week that the SEIU Healthcare Michigan does not have to pay back more than $34 million in dues collected from over 40,000 home health care workers. Many were forced into the union under state requirements that they join because they were taking care of sick family members at home.

The SEIU successfully lobbied for the plan in multiple states that classified unpaid family members as “home health care workers.” Dues were then automatically collected from the care recipients’ Medicare or Medicaid checks.

Hey, if they had to give the money back, their votes wouldn’t stay bought. Democrats aren’t stupid.

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The Golden Spoon

25th September 2014

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Chances are, you’ve spent more time thinking about the specs on your smartphone than about the gadgets that you use to put food in your mouth. But the shape and material properties of forks, spoons, and knives turn out to matter—a lot. Changes in the design of cutlery have not only affected how and what we eat, but also what our food tastes like. There’s even evidence that the adoption of the table knife transformed the shape of European faces.

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Red Cross Team Attacked While Burying Dead Ebola Victims

25th September 2014

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A Red Cross team was attacked while collecting bodies believed to be infected with Ebola in southeastern Guinea, the latest in a string of assaults that are hindering efforts to control West Africa’s current outbreak.

One Red Cross worker is recovering after being wounded in in the neck in Tuesday’s attack in Forecariah, according to Benoit Carpentier, a spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Family members of the dead initially set upon the six volunteers and vandalized their cars, said Mariam Barry, a resident. Eventually a crowd gathered and headed to the regional health office, where they threw rocks at the building.

The attack is the most recent in a series that have plagued teams working to bury bodies, provide information about Ebola and disinfect public places. The most shocking to date was the abduction and killing last week of a team of several health officials and journalists in Guinea who were educating people on how to avoid contracting Ebola.

Perhaps this would be a appropriate time to leave and let them all die, since they don’t seem to want outside help.

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School Bans National Guard T-shirts Over Gun Image

25th September 2014

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A National Guard recruiter was instructed to stop handing out promotional t-shirts at a New York high school after teachers complained at the shirts featured a soldier holding a weapon.

“A pointed gun is just not appropriate for a high school,” said Alan McCartney, the interim superintendent of the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk School District.

Perhaps someone ought to  explain to these clowns (none of whom, I’ll wager, is a veteran) just exactly what the National Guard does.

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Changes to Firearm Purchase Forms Draw Strong Reaction

25th September 2014

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Changes to the forms required for firearms purchases asking questions about the buyer’s race and ethnicity have drawn strong reaction from gun dealers, privacy advocates and lawmakers.

Form 4473, required for an over-the-counter sale by a federally-licensed dealer, now asks first whether a buyer is Hispanic or Non-Hispanic, followed by a question delving into more detailed race-based information.

Seems like the government routinely asks for information that it would be illegal for a private firm to ask. I wonder why that is….

Posted in Your tax dollars at work - and play. | 1 Comment »

DNA Double Take

24th September 2014

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Not long ago, researchers had thought it was rare for the cells in a single healthy person to differ genetically in a significant way. But scientists are finding that it’s quite common for an individual to have multiple genomes. Some people, for example, have groups of cells with mutations that are not found in the rest of the body. Some have genomes that came from other people.

As scientists begin to search for chimeras systematically — rather than waiting for them to turn up in puzzling medical tests — they’re finding them in a remarkably high fraction of people. In 2012, Canadian scientists performed autopsies on the brains of 59 women. They found neurons with Y chromosomes in 63 percent of them. The neurons likely developed from cells originating in their sons.

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Alain Finkielkraut vs. the End of Civility

24th September 2014

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If I were in Paris this week, I’d be looking for a nice mosque to hide under. In a video released Monday, the Islamic State called for extra helpings of worldwide jihad from the Islamic diaspora, with special venom on tap for one Enlightenment republic in particular: “If you can kill a disbelieving American or European—especially the spiteful and filthy French … kill him in any manner or way however it may be.”

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Tech Firms and Lobbyists: Now Intertwined, but Not Eager to Reveal It

24th September 2014

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Since the Microsoft ‘antitrust’ case of 1998, tech firms have had their noses rubbed in the economic fact of modern life that politicians and bureaucrats can (and will) destroy your business unless allowed to wet their beaks. Typically this is done through campaign contributions to the proper pullers of strings, participation in the revolving door between Washington and the two Left Coasts, and making the correct ‘diversity’ and ‘green’ noises for consumption by low-information voters.

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Hiring Women and the Moral Inversion of Economics

24th September 2014

Alex Tabarrok underlines some contradictions.

In my post on why economics is detested I quoted Arnold Kling:

The intention heuristic says that if the intentions of an act are selfless and well-meaning, then the act is good. If the intentions are self-interested, then it is not good.

In contrast, economics evaluates an act not by its intentions but by its consequences. Since “bad” intentions can lead to good consequences (“as if by an invisible hand”). It’s not surprising that economists often praise what others denounce.

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Social Desirability Bias and Abortion

24th September 2014

Bryan Caplan never ceases to amaze.

Economists have long argued that we should pay a lot more attention to what people do and a lot less attention to what people say. But they make little effort to justify their pro-action/anti-talk position. The strongest evidence in favor of economists’ methodological scruples actually come from psychology, especially research on Social Desirability Bias. Earlier today, though, I stumbled on some striking confirmation from a unexpected field: medicine.

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MODERN MO MANTRA

24th September 2014

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No wonder Muslim extremists are frustrated. They literally stand in the middle of the street telling everybody that they killed for Allah and nobody seems to hear them.

It’s just bad luck, I guess, that the religion of peace attracts so many people of violence. Could’ve happened to any religion, really, although it’s rare to hear of anyone flying jets into buildings to honour Krishna or screaming oaths to Ganesha while cutting someone’s head off.

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Fake Cell Towers Allow the NSA and Police to Keep Track of You

24th September 2014

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The Internet is abuzz with reports of mysterious devices sprinkled across America—many of them on military bases—that connect to your phone by mimicking cell phone towers and sucking up your data. There is little public information about these devices, but they are the new favorite toy of government agencies of all stripes; everyone from the National Security Agency to local police forces are using them.

These fake towers, known as “interceptors,” were discovered in July by users of the CryptoPhone500, one of the ultra-secure cell phones released after Edward Snowden’s leaks about NSA snooping. The phone is essentially a Samsung Galaxy S3 customized with high-level encryption that costs around $3,500. While driving around the country, CryptoPhone users plotted on a map every time they connected to a nameless tower (standard towers run by wireless service providers like Verizon usually have names) and received an alert that the device had turned off their phone’s encryption (allowing their messages to be read).

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When Humans Lose Control of Government

23rd September 2014

Read it.

Responsibility is nowhere in modern government. Who’s responsible for the budget deficits? Nobody: Program budgets are set in legal concrete. Who’s responsible for failing to fix America’s decrepit infrastructure? Nobody. Who’s responsible for not managing civil servants sensibly? You get the idea.

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