DYSPEPSIA GENERATION

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Archive for March, 2016

Pakistan: The Army Steps In

31st March 2016

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The suicide bomber who killed seventy-two people on Easter Sunday in a park in Lahore, Pakistan has drawn condemnation from around the world. Among the killed were twenty-nine children, and another 370 people were wounded, many of them members of the country’s Christian minority. Far less noted, however, has been the attack’s equally devastating effect on relations between Pakistan’s army and civilian government, which threatens to bring further instability to the country’s Punjab heartland.

At the heart of the crisis are two men, General Raheel Sharif, commander in chief of the Pakistan army, and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, head of the civilian government. For the past eighteen months, the two Sharifs (no relation) have maintained a tenuous political compact: the army—in some consultation with the prime minister—had overall control of Pakistan’s foreign and nuclear policy, as well as its counterterrorism strategy in Karachi, in the south, and along the border with Afghanistan, in the north. In turn, the civilian government could run the economy, and, most significantly, keep control of the prime minister’s home province of Punjab—the most populous region of the country, which includes the city of Lahore. Counterterrorism actions in Punjab were entrusted to the Punjab police rather than the army

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The Four Foundational Dilemmas in Fighting Radical Islamic Terrorism

31st March 2016

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Stripped of political correctness, legality and morality, and viewed strictly from a risk management perspective, closing America’s borders to Muslims (à la Donald Trump) and enhancing surveillance of Muslims within the U.S. (à la Ted Cruz) is likely to reduce the probability of attacks by Islamic terrorists. Therein lies a tale—and four foundational dilemmas—now tearing at the fabric of American life, based on a set of ideals that may no longer be suited for modern times.

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Obama Family Charges Taxpayers $3.6M for Christmas Vacation Flights

31st March 2016

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President Obama and his family spent nearly $3.6 million in taxpayer money on flight expenses alone for their 2015 Christmas vacation to Honolulu, Hawaii, according to a new watchdog report.

After all, why go to Camp David, which is right close by and already paid for by taxpayers?

The known travel expenses for the Obama family and Vice President Joe Biden have totaled more than $78 million.

Sometimes it is good to be the King President.

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Will California Be Able to Enforce a $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage?

31st March 2016

Steve Sailer is not afraid to ask the hard questions.

Here’s a question that I haven’t seen discussed much. Everybody has an opinion on what the impacts of the law would be assuming it is implemented the way it says in the law it would be implemented; but I’m wondering more what sectors of the California economy will just ignore this new law the way they currently ignore many of the other laws and regulations?

Whenever governments interfere with a free market, that market re-appears ‘off the books’ — what statists call a ‘black market’ but which is an expression of the irrepressible human desire to arrange their lives to suit themselves rather than those who consider themselves the ruling class.

California is an interesting example of corruption because the government isn’t all that corrupt relative to, say, Illinois, where the government tends to shake down honest businesses. California still has 1910 Progressive government structures that are more resistant to governmental corruption than Chicago. But California now seems to have a high level of private enterprise corruption, with businesses cheating the government over taxes and Medicare and each other via insurance fraud and the like.

A natural reaction to getting your pocket picked.

So, it’s hard to say what will happen with a very high minimum wage. Big companies will have to follow the law, but a huge fraction of small businessmen in California these days are Men in Gold Chains who think laws are only for chumps.

Much as in NAM slims everywhere.

Consider that much of the labor force are ‘undocumented immigrants’ — how eager are they going to be to go to the cops about being paid less than the legal minimum wage?

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America Would Be Richer and Safer If Europe Paid For Its Own Defense

31st March 2016

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Indeed, NATO’s European wing is notorious for its freeloading on American military might, a longstanding habit of bilking U.S. taxpayers for defense while throwing good money after bad on expansive social engineering projects.

Just how much NATO Europe is mooching off the U.S. is evident with just a quick glance at the numbers. Per capita, the United States drops close to $2,000 annually on the military. NATO Europe averages less than $500—with one country, Bulgaria, as low as $89.

The contrast is so significant that it actually sees our European friends in breach of the terms of our alliance: They spent less than 1.5 percent of GDP on defense last year, despite NATO’s requirement of a 2 percent minimum. (America, by contrast, devotes an aggressive 4 to 5 percent of GDP to military spending.)

Meanwhile, as the *Wall Street Journal** *editorialized, “Europe has built elaborate domestic income-maintenance programs, with government-run health care, pensions and jobless benefits. These are hugely expensive, requiring high taxes and government spending that is a huge proportion of GDP.”

All of this is possible because, in the words of one Slovakian party leader, “we enjoy protection primarily from NATO”—which is to say, we let American taxpayers pick up the tab.

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Phone-Based Laser Rangefinder Works Outdoors

31st March 2016

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At the International Conference on Robotics and Automation in May, researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) will present a new infrared depth-sensing system, built from a smartphone with a $10 laser attached to it, that works outdoors as well as in.

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French Troops Accused of ‘Forcing Girls Into Bestiality’ in Car as Rape Claims Mount Against UN Peacekeepers

31st March 2016

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Guess how much of the UN budget is provided by the US.

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The UN is a Plastic Owl

31st March 2016

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At best.

Urban dwellers know the plastic owl. In an effort to scare pigeons from roofs, ledges and window sills, they strap and screw them in place hoping that the appearance of a predator might yield the same results as the real thing. In the suburbs, plastic owls are conscripted to watch over backyard gardens warding off four-legged pests. But birds are smart. Once they learn that a predator look-alike poses no real danger, they resume their perches in bold and fearless defiance where they defecate on city buildings with impunity. Mammals too know that an owl that never moves is not an owl, so across America they eat vegetables in the shadows of fake predators.

The last two decades of diplomatic fiascos at the United Nations (especially concerning Iran) have made it clear that the UN is now little more than a plastic owl – able to muster only the appearance of a wise lookout, alert and ever vigilant. Meanwhile rogue nations and dictators, like birds and rodents, have learned that the UN, like a plastic owl, poses no real danger. Consequently, they defy it with impunity.

Posted in Dystopia Watch | 1 Comment »

Journalism in Turkey: Newsroom vs. Courtroom

31st March 2016

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“Turkey is where many journalists may have to spend more time at their attorneys’ offices or in courtrooms than in the newsrooms, where they should be,” a Western diplomat joked bitterly. “Don’t quote me on that. I don’t want to be declared persona non grata,” he added with a smile.

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Another Taxpayer-Backed Green Energy Company Goes Bankrupt

31st March 2016

My, what a surprise.

Another subsidy-backed green energy company, this time the Spanish company Abengoa, has filed for bankruptcy within the United States.  But before doing so, squandered over $2 billion in federal funds.  The company mistakenly gambled on a government-backed artificial “green energy boom” they hoped would spurn new growth and opportunity for the company.

The Obama Administration, ever pushing their green energy ideology, tampered with the market by dolling out $2.7 billion worth of federal subsidies to Abengoa, which of course was taxpayer funded.

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Japan, South Korea, and Nuclear Weapons

31st March 2016

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Both Japan and South Korea possess sophisticated nuclear weapons capability, they’ve just chosen not to assemble any nuclear bombs.

This is especially true for Japan which has a huge stockpile of plutonium and could build a massive arsenal of nuclear bombs in less than a year. South Korea is a lot more limited in how quickly they could produce a large number of bombs.

Remember that nuclear weapons are 1950s technology (or 1940s technology if you are talking about simple enriched uranium bombs), and we are talking about countries producing the most sophisticated 21st century electronics like computer chips, LCDs, etc. The reason why countries like Iran find it so difficult to build a nuclear bomb is because their technology is still in the 19th century. Stuff that Iran has to sneak into the country, the government of South Korea can just order from Samsung or Hyundai.

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Washington DC Washed Away by 2100 by Melting Antarctic Ice Cap?

31st March 2016

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We can only hope.

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Happy Birthday, Walter Williams

31st March 2016

Tariff policy beneficiaries are always seen, but its victims are mostly unseen. Politicians love this. The reason is simple. The beneficiaries know for whom to cast their ballots and to whom to give campaign contributions. Most often, the victims do not know whom to blame for their calamity.

A birthday appreciation from a colleague here.

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10 Things to Hate About Sanders’ Economic Policy

31st March 2016

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This article is not intended to answer the question about the candidate’s libertarian bona fides one way or another. Rather, it is to point out, amid the distracting hullabaloo of a historically weird presidential campaign, that Bernie Sanders has at least 10 awful policy ideas that would materially damage the country if enacted.

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Anniversary of the Chios Massacre

31st March 2016

On this date in 1822 Turks massacred 20,000 Greeks on the island of Chios.

In addition to setting fires, the troops were ordered to kill all infants under three years old, all males 12 years and older, and all females 40 and older, except those willing to convert to Islam.

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The Amazon Echo and Shabbos

31st March 2016

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Like most technology, Amazon Echo carries with it a number of fascinating halachic questions. What are the prohibitions associated with its use on Shabbos? If one avoids using the name “Alexa” in conversation, may one leave it plugged in on Shabbos? Is there any circumstance in which it may be used? When the word Alexa is used, the Echo awakens and a blue light circles around at the top of the device.

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The 13 Countries Where Being an Atheist Is Punishable by Death

31st March 2016

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Guess how many are majority-Muslim.

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Swedish Scientists Set to Study Whether Cats Have Accents

31st March 2016

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Susanne Schötz, a phoenetics researcher from Lund University, is collecting samples of sounds made by cats from Lund, in Sweden’s far south, and Stockholm, almost 400 miles to the north.

By analysing the melodies and tones of cat vocalisations, she hopes to find out whether they vary based on where the cats live.

Hey, tenure doesn’t grow on trees, you know.

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A Heaping Helping of Hitlers

31st March 2016

David Cole examines the pro-Hitler Left.

But my own views on The Donald aside, there’s no question that leftists have gone plumb loco over his candidacy. After decades of calling every Republican under the sun “Hitler,” leftists have now started to believe their own slur. As Daniel Greenfield points out, every GOP presidential candidate over the past fifty years has been Hitler according to the left. And as I mentioned a few weeks ago, Arnold Schwarzenegger was Hitler when he first ran for governor of California. Many people have forgotten that the night before the recall election, soon-to-be senator Al Franken announced on The Tonight Show that, if elected, Schwarzenegger would emulate Hitler (that’s the same Tonight Show hosted by Jay Leno, who, ten years earlier, had called Rush Limbaugh Hitler). When Romney was running for president, Mormons were Hitler. Last week, when Mormon voters demonstrated their intense dislike for Trump, all of a sudden they were Hitler no more.

John McCain is no longer Hitler, but he was back in 2008, when an episode of Family Guy labeled both McCain and Palin as Hitler(s). About a year after that episode aired, I was at a birthday bash for John Romano, the former Breitbart “Big Hollywood” author who chucked the right-wing blogosphere to open one of the Internet’s largest Parisian tour operating companies (an irony, as his views on Muslims and immigrants might actually make him a “hate criminal” in the very country he now depends on for his livelihood). A lone leftist at Romano’s party was John Viener, a producer and writer for Family Guy. I asked Viener about the McCain/Palin Hitler smear, which had been inserted into the episode not so much as a gag but as a political statement.

I never thought most leftists really believed them. It’s just part of the kata, an expected countermove. Dude says “I’m a Republican,” you reply “Well, then, you’re Hitler.” It’s just theater.

But with Trump, leftists are acting like they really do believe he’s der Führer reincarnated. I think what we’re witnessing is a new twist on the Boy Who Cried Wolf, in which the boy doesn’t end up encountering a real wolf, but rather, he comes to believe his own lie. He now actually sees the nonexistent wolf he invented, thus becoming an even bigger menace to the townspeople, having transitioned from liar to zealot, from prankster to paranoid schizo.

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Delinquents Graduating to Jihad

31st March 2016

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In the wake of the attacks on the Brussels Airport and Métro, the Belgian security services have come in for much criticism. More significantly, in my opinion, the attacks have exposed the sheer frivolity of the Belgian criminal-justice system, a frivolity that it shares with the British and French systems, and no doubt several others, and which has turned the fight against crime into an elaborate and expensive—though lucrative—charade.

Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the case of the brothers El Bakraoui, Ibrahim and Khalid, who blew themselves up, together with many innocents, at the airport and in the Métro, respectively.

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F-35 Software Problems

31st March 2016

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More evidence that the F-35 is a flying piece of shit.

“There are shortfalls in electronic warfare, electronic attack, shortfalls in the performance of distributed aperture system and other issues that are classified,” Mr. Gilmore said March 23. “With regard to mission assistance, stealth aircraft are not visible to achieve success against the modern stressing mobile threats. We’re relying on our $400 million investment in F-35 to provide mission systems [that] must work in some reasonable sense of that word.”

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Federal Tyranny Gags GOP in Hillary’s Backyard

31st March 2016

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President Obama’s new Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation is arguably the most radical, transformative, and potentially controversial initiative that his administration has undertaken to date. Maybe that’s why the mainstream press barely covers it.

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

Hillary Clinton’s hometown of Chappaqua, in Westchester County, New York is ground zero in the national controversy over AFFH. Westchester’s County Executive, Robert Astorino, a Republican, has been publicly asking Hillary Clinton whether she thinks her hometown is discriminatory, and whether she agrees with the Obama administration’s efforts to force Chappaqua to build a low-income housing development that it doesn’t want. Last July, Astorino even held a press conference outside of Hillary’s home to press her to speak to the issue. And now it just so happens that the “Federal Monitor” appointed to oversee the settlement of a court case compelling Westchester to “affirmatively further fair housing” has asked a court to muzzle Astorino. The Federal Monitor wants to force Astorino, the man who has led public resistance to Obama’s de facto takeover of local governments, to repudiate his own claims and parrot the administration’s line instead. In effect, they want a court to order Astorino to stop criticizing Obama’s HUD and start advertising HUD’s own views. This is truly Orwellian stuff, a frightening demonstration of how the expansionist regulatory state ultimately chokes off political speech itself.

Not that you’ll read about in in the paper any time soon.

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Obamacare Patients Sicker and Pricier Than Expected

31st March 2016

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‘Expected’ by whom? This was all predicted long since.

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Watchdog: DEA’s $86M Afghanistan Counter-Drug Plane Still ‘Resting on Jacks’

31st March 2016

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The review by the Justice Department’s inspector general said the plane was purchased seven years ago to support anti-drug efforts in the Afghanistan war zone, where opium poppy cultivation has long been rampant. The so-called Global Discovery program to modify the ATR 42-500 aircraft with advanced surveillance capabilities was supposed to be completed in December 2012.

But the program has been plagued by missteps, has missed a string of deadlines, has ballooned in cost from an original estimate of $22 million, and remains incomplete and grounded in Delaware.

The report said it was unlikely the plane will ever fly in Afghanistan because the DEA has since ceased aviation operations there.

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Custom 3-D Printed Scalp, Hair Helps Cancer Survivors Feel Like Themselves Again

31st March 2016

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For certain values of ‘themselves’.

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Scholar: Millennials Prefer Socialism “Until they Get Jobs”

30th March 2016

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Or until they get government jobs (like Bernie Sanders), which aren’t real jobs.

And yet, millennials don’t like what socialism actually is: government ownership of production, or government running businesses. Like other generations, they prefer a free-market economic system, especially as they get older and begin to earn more money. A wide margin, 64-to-32 percent, favored a free-market system when it was explained to them.

Socialism: The political system for ignorant people.

Ekins suggested that, to millennials, socialism means an expansion of social welfare programs. Fifty-two percent of millennials favor big government that provides services. But, favoring “a Scandinavian social democracy” may not last. Again, people want to keep their money rather than see it redistributed.

They don’t mind picking other people’s pockets, but object to their own pockets being picked.

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The Blue State Model

30th March 2016

Thomas Frank in the Huffington Post, which shows that even a blind pig can find an acorn now and then.

When you press Democrats on their uninspiring deeds — their lousy free trade deals, for example, or their flaccid response to Wall Street misbehavior — when you press them on any of these things, they automatically reply that this is the best anyone could have done. After all, they had to deal with those awful Republicans, and those awful Republicans wouldn’t let the really good stuff get through. They filibustered in the Senate. They gerrymandered the congressional districts. And besides, change takes a long time. Surely you don’t think the tepid-to-lukewarm things Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have done in Washington really represent the fiery Democratic soul.

So let’s go to a place that does. Let’s choose a locale where Democratic rule is virtually unopposed, a place where Republican obstruction and sabotage can’t taint the experiment.

And it is not a pretty sight — the Crust in all its crustiness.

Innovation liberalism is “a liberalism of the rich,” to use the straightforward phrase of local labor leader Harris Gruman. This doctrine has no patience with the idea that everyone should share in society’s wealth. What Massachusetts liberals pine for, by and large, is a more perfect meritocracy — a system where the essential thing is to ensure that the truly talented get into the right schools and then get to rise through the ranks of society. Unfortunately, however, as the blue-state model makes painfully clear, there is no solidarity in a meritocracy. The ideology of educational achievement conveniently negates any esteem we might feel for the poorly graduated.

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Shut Up About Harvard

30th March 2016

Ben Casselman is tired of Voices of the Crust.

Here’s how the national media usually depicts the admissions process: High school seniors spend months visiting colleges; writing essays; wrangling letters of recommendation; and practicing, taking and retaking an alphabet soup of ACTs, SATs and AP exams. Then the really hard part: months of nervously waiting to find out if they are among the lucky few (fewer every year, we’re told!) with the right blend of academic achievement, extracurricular involvement and an odds-defying personal story to gain admission to their favored university.

Here’s the reality: Most students never have to write a college entrance essay, pad a résumé or sweet-talk a potential letter-writer. Nor are most, as The Atlantic put it Monday, “obsessively checking their mailboxes” awaiting acceptance decisions. (Never mind that for most schools, those decisions now arrive online.) According to data from the Department of Education,1 more than three-quarters of U.S. undergraduates attend colleges that accept at least half their applicants; just 4 percent attend schools that accept 25 percent or less, and hardly any — well under 1 percent — attend schools like Harvard and Yale that accept less than 10 percent.

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Tactical Nuclear Weapons: North Korea’s Next Lethal Weapon of War?

30th March 2016

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Just in case you were having a good day.

I have a question: Why do we still have troops in South Korea? When South Korea was a war-devastated Third World hellhole, that made some sense; but that no longer applies. South Korea is prosperous and can afford the best arms and equipment money can buy, and they can call on the American fleet and air forces in a pinch. So why do we need troops there?

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Groundbreaking New Magnets Make for Some Pretty Magic Behavior

30th March 2016

Read it. And watch the video.

Traditional magnets have a north pole on one side and a south pole on the other. The magnetic field energy goes from one side of the magnet all the way around to the other side of the magnet, a reasonably long trip.

But magnet printing tech changed all that. Now we can have magnets with north and south on the same side of the magnet, very close together. This makes magnets that are much more efficient, much stronger, but even better, it makes magnets with some pretty magic behavior.

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A First: California Court Rules Retailer’s Inaccessible Website Violates ADA

30th March 2016

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Last week, a California State Court became the first in the nation to rule that a retailer violated the Americans with Disabilities Act due to a website that is not accessible to individuals with vision-related disabilities.  As we have previously reported, courts have ruled on whether the ADA applies to websites, but have always stopped short – because the cases had usually settled at early stages – of reaching the dispositive factual issue of whether a website actually violated the ADA.

The ADA is one of the reasons that George H. W. Bush will burn in Hell for all eternity.

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Giant Rats That Can Sniff Out Tuberculosis Are Being Used in African Prisons

30th March 2016

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I am not making this up.

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How Is Britain Going Green? By Shutting Down Industry

30th March 2016

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A fortnight ago, the energy minister, Andrea Leadsom, declared grandly that Britain, alone in the world, would commit to a target of reducing net carbon emissions to zero. ‘The question is not whether but how we do it,’ she told Parliament. It is now becoming painfully clear how this target will be reached: not by eliminating our carbon emissions but by exporting them, along with thousands of jobs and much of our manufacturing industry.

And this is always the effect of ‘green’ proposals — choking out industries by oppressive regulations or government-subsidized ‘competition’, leading to lower quality of life for no real improvement in whatever it is that ‘greens’ are trying to improve. The quality of our air and water is tremendously better than it ever has been, overall, and that it because the advances in technology fostered by an expanding industrial base allowed us to replace dirty processes with cleaner ones. But there comes a point at which ‘getting cleaner’ costs more than it’s actually worth with respect to the individual consumer. This is the limit that government-sponsored regulations always blow through because they are the result of a political, rather than an economic, process.

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ELLE on Earth

30th March 2016

Jacques Hyzagi in a delightful piece that is nominally about interviewing a fashion designer but covers so much more.

By 3:45 the meeting was suddenly back on in a bar in the West Village. Then by 3:30 the location was changed to the East Side. By 4:00 as I just crossed town it was cancelled again and back on by 4:15 at a different place but Anne had to go pick up her young kids by 5 so the meeting would be short. Although Anne had my phone she was sending these directives via CDG as if I was working for them and they were then relaying them to me by phone. I had more luck meeting that Hezbollah leader in downtown Beirut for an interview.

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‘Vegetarian Gene’ Linked to Heart Disease and Cancer Risk, Scientists Find

30th March 2016

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Populations with vegetarian diets have a gene which can raise the risk of heart disease and cancer, scientists believe.

US researchers have found that people who have lead vegetarian lifestyles for generations in areas of India, Africa and East Asia have evolved a “vegetarian gene” variation, or allele.

Heh.

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Stanford Activists Want to Expel Faculty for Microaggressions

30th March 2016

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I suggest expelling these students on the grounds that they obviously aren’t grown up enough to attend university.

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Black San Francisco Student Filmed Harassing White Student Over His Dreadlocks in ‘Cultural Appropriation’ Row

30th March 2016

Watch it.

White people trying to look like black people merely wind up looking stupid, so this is a trend I intend to encourage.

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The 20 Best Big US Cities for Families

30th March 2016

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Dallas is #1. Houston is #10. No sign of anything from Michigan.

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Twelve Detroit School Principals Charged in Alleged Bribery Scheme

30th March 2016

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Investigators allege that Norman Shy, the owner of longtime Detroit Public Schools vendor Allstate Sales, would submit fraudulent invoices for chairs, paper and other supplies. To ensure the invoices would be approved, prosecutors claim Sly paid out more than $900,000 in cash, gift cards and checks to school officials.

In return, Sly’s company received $2.7 million from the district for supplies that were delivered in far lesser quantities than promised or were never delivered at all.

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Renewables Are Useless: The Evidence is Overwhelming

30th March 2016

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Al Gore has a problem. He seems to want people to believe that only climate skeptics oppose renewables. The truth is, a small but growing number of prominent greens, openly acknowledge that renewables in their current form are not a scalable replacement for fossil fuels.

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George Orwell Call Your Office: Marquette Demands Ritual Apology From Embattled Professor

30th March 2016

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There’s nothing like a good show trial to build confidence in the academy’s commitment to academic freedom. Marquette University is demanding that embattled professor John McAdams apologize for criticizing a colleague as a condition for keeping his job. And what outrage did McAdams commit? He tried to protect the academic freedom and free speech of conservative students.

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A Happy Marriage Across Party Lines

29th March 2016

Jeanne Safer is married to Rick Brookhiser, a former editor of National Review and a friend of mine at Yale.

Next Election Day, like every Election Day for the last three decades, I will show up faithfully at my polling place, rain or shine, and register my choices for various offices. As long as they’re Democrats, they can count on my support. It’s a matter of moral obligation, not just civic duty: I’ve got to cancel out my husband’s vote.

Typical Democrat. (Just sayin’….)

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Russia Shows What Happens When Terrorists’ Families Are Targeted

29th March 2016

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In the conflict that began in Chechnya and has since metastasized into a loosely organized Islamic rebellion throughout the Caucasus region, Russian security services routinely arrest, torture and kill relatives, rights groups say.

The Russian approach, enough to make supporters of waterboarding wince, has by some accounts been grimly effective. Abductions of family members unwound the rebel leadership in Chechnya, for example.

They get results — unlike Obama.

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What Lies Beneath the Surface of New York Harbor?

29th March 2016

Read it.

You’d be surprised.

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Earth Made Up of Two Planets After ‘Violent Collision’ With Theia 4.5bn Years Ago, UCLA Scientists Discover

29th March 2016

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A “violent, head-on collision” created Earth as we know it, ground-breaking new research has revealed.

A planetary embryo called Theia, thought to be around the size of Mars or Earth, collided with Earth 4.5 billion years ago when our planet was just 100 million years old.

It was already known that Theia and Earth collided, but the new evidence from the UCLA-led scientific team shows it was less of a side swipe, as previously thought, and more of a “head-on assault”.

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The Explosive Science of Genetics

29th March 2016

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Today, spectacular advances in molecular genetics are producing an explosion of new information about how our genome shapes us. Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker predicts that these findings will fundamentally reshape our understanding of human nature. They may also reshape our thinking on everything from parenting and education to broader social policy.

No wonder many people – especially social scientists, feminists, and progressive politicians – think behavioural genetics is a Pandora’s box that should be slammed shut as soon as possible. They remain heavily invested in cultural determinism – the idea that your environment, not your origins, makes you who you are, and also that the right social policies can significantly change the outcomes.

But genetic denialism has its own risks. One risk is that by not acknowledging the importance of heritability, a lot of social science research is misleading and useless. And many of the policies it has inspired won’t work.

Today the social sciences face a deepening crisis of legitimacy – largely because social scientists, who are overwhelmingly liberal, can’t bring themselves to acknowledge what’s staring them in the face. Yet good social policy depends on it. Dr. Plomin believes this is especially true in education, which should be both more effective and more humane. “It does poor service to social change to subordinate truth to politics,” he says.

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Vouchers, Sprawl and Trade-Offs

29th March 2016

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Currently, the American public school system is a sprawl-generating machine: urban public schools are less appealing to middle-class parents than suburban public schools, causing parents to move to suburbia.

This is the sort of democracy that ‘progressives’ would love to suppress.

This result arises from school assignment laws: because students must attend school in the municipality of their residence, residents of the most diverse municipalities (usually central cities) must attend diverse schools. By definition, diverse schools have lots of children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

I.e. Fashionable Minorities.

Because children from disadvantaged backgrounds often learn less rapidly than middle-class children, these schools quickly get a reputation as “bad” schools, causing middle-class parents to flee to suburban schools that are more socially homogenous.

They also tend to have high percentages of NAMs with behavioral problems that prevent any education from taking place. Cities run by Democrats are the poster children for this sort of thing — even in otherwise rational states like Texas. Nobody in his (or her) right mind will send kids to public schools in Houston, Dallas, Austin, or San Antonio.

The common progressive answer to this problem is to fund urban schools more generously: this strategy has not, when tried, succeeded in bringing middle-class parents back to urban schools.

Because it doesn’t solve the fundamental problem of Kids Behaving Badly. That can’t be fixed by throwing money at the problem; it can only be fixed by Good Culture on the part of the parents and neighborhoods from which the problem students come.

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The Questions Nobody Wants to Ask About Asad Shah’s Murder

29th March 2016

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On Easter Saturday a Muslim shopkeeper in Glasgow was brutally murdered. Forty-year-old Asad Shah was repeatedly stabbed in the head with a kitchen knife and then allegedly stamped upon. Most of the UK press began by going big on this story and referring to it as an act of ‘religious hatred’, comfortably leaving readers with the distinct feeling that – post-Brussels – the Muslim shopkeeper must have been killed by an ‘Islamophobe’. Had that been the case, by now the press would be crawling over every view the killer had ever held and every Facebook connection he had ever made. They would be asking why he had done it and investigating every one of his associates.

But it soon emerged that although the Asad Shah murder was being treated by police as ‘religiously motivated’ the suspected killer was in fact another Muslim who struck just hours after Mr Shah had posted a message on Facebook wishing a very happy Easter to his ‘beloved Christian nation’ and suggesting people follow in ‘The Real Footstep of Beloved Holy Jesus Christ’. The murdered man’s family have now been advised by police to watch what they say and to disguise where they are in Britain because it is believed that they too could now be targeted.

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This Ship Is a Hovercraft Until It’s an Airplane

29th March 2016

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Taking advantage of the ground effect in aerodynamics, by which a vehicle flying fast and low generates lift under the wings and reduces drag, making the plane almost float above the surface of the sea. For decades Soviet engineers built special vehicles called Ekranoplans to take advantage of this ability over shallow water, lakes, and rivers. Boeing even looked into the design for a cargo vehicle.

The chief roadblocks to doing this sort of thing is, as you might expect, government regulation. The key is to keep the flight low enough that it doesn’t qualify as an ‘aircraft’ sufficient to bring it within the clutches of agencies like the FAA.

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Carbon Dioxide Captured From Air Can Be Directly Converted Into Methanol Fuel

29th March 2016

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For the first time, researchers have demonstrated that CO2 captured from the air can be directly converted into methanol (CH3OH) using a homogeneous catalyst. The benefits are two-fold: The process removes harmful CO2 from the atmosphere, and the methanol can be used as an alternative fuel to gasoline. The work represents an important step that could one day lead to a future “methanol economy,” in which fuel and energy storage are primarily based on methanol.

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