Saturday, November 28, 2015
The Obama administration is pressing Turkey to deploy thousands of additional troops along its border with Syria to cordon off a 60-mile stretch of frontier that U.S. officials say is used by Islamic State to move foreign fighters in and out of the war zone.
If Hollywood ever had a lesson for scientists it is what happens if machines start to rebel against their human creators.
Yet despite this, roboticists have started to teach their own creations to say no to human orders.
They have programmed a pair of diminutive humanoid robots called Shafer and Dempster to disobey instructions from humans if it puts their own safety at risk.
What could go wrong?
Good news for khaki-clad men plagued by speckled staining of their trousers from urine splash back: physicists may have found the optimal splash-suppressing design for a urinal insert, thereby creating a “urine black hole.” Urine gets in, but it can’t get back out.
Hamtramck, a working class city of 22,000 people near Detroit, is a national curiosity in America. Earlier this month it became the first city in the country to elect a majority Muslim council. The US Census does not record religion but demographers believe it is also now the first American city where more than 50 per cent of the population is Muslim.
Although it has been in use since the late 18th century, sense 3 is still attacked as wrong. Why it has been singled out is not clear, but until comparatively recent times it was found chiefly in scientific or technical writing rather than belles lettres. Our current evidence shows a slight shift in usage: sense 3 is somewhat more frequent in recent literary use than the earlier senses. You should be aware, however, that if you use sense 3 you may be subject to criticism for doing so, and you may want to choose a safer synonym such as compose or make up.
Most of the criticisms that comprise attacks on the use of "comprise" are in fact wrong.
As the administrative state distorts America's constitutional architecture, Clarence Thomas becomes America's indispensable constitutionalist. Now in his 25th year on the Supreme Court, he is urging the judicial branch to limit the legislative branch's practice of delegating its power to the executive branch.
The good news was that Jeff Bezos’ space company,
Blue Origin, launched a fully reusable spacecraft to the edge of space and recovered it after it landed under its own power. Other fully reusable craft have flown — going all the way back to the McDonnell DouglasDelta Clipper back in the 1990s — but none have passed the 62-mile/100-kilometer mark widely considered to be the threshold altitude for true space flight.
Inside this column there's a small boy, toy space ship in hand, gazing out his window at the full moon.
Fifteen years later, it is fair to ask how well college administrators have navigated. Has their understanding of the shape of the river enabled them to anticipate and minimize hazards?
I say it hasn’t. I say, instead, that the administrators’ vessels have been swept headlong down the rapids and thrust against at least two very large boulders.
All true. But there's probably a solution is just muddling through somehow. More special deans for diversity, more courses. There's no problem that can't be solved by throwing money at it. If the Dems win, they'll be a lot more money available. We're a big, fat barnacle attached to the ship of state. We slow the whole thing down, but we won't perish unless the ship does. We make the ship more vulnerable, true enough.
Rahm would have lost the election. Why? Because he would have lost Chicago's black vote.
Without the black vote, Rahm Emanuel would not be the 9.5-fingered boss of Bartertown.
Black political figures would have been uneasy standing with Rahm. They would have run away. They couldn't stand with him.
Chicago rules, baby.
Yet that dash-cam footage was suppressed for more than a year by authorities citing an investigation. “There was no mystery, no dead-end leads to pursue, no ambiguity about who fired the shots,” Eric Zorn wrote in The Chicago Tribune. “Who was pursuing justice and the truth? What were they doing? Who were they talking to? With whom were they meeting? What were they trying to figure out for 400 days?”
IN 2008, Barack Obama won the presidency promising that he would heal our political divisions. Instead, Mr. Obama has been as polarizing as any president in the history of modern polling. The debate over the Syrian refugee crisis illustrates why.
Is Trump really too anti-immigrant for the 21st century GOP? Or too hostile to Muslims in the US and abroad? Or has he broken with the party in pushing caricatures of black criminals either threatening the safety of ordinary Americans or mobilizing through voter fraud to take away the stuff earned by middle class white people? It's not too much to say that there's nothing Trump has said in recent weeks that you couldn't hear any given Monday on the Rush Limbaugh Show, from various backbench House conservatives or a million other places in conservative media. If you pay attention to any of these three fronts, you know this. These are the same themes, enemies, and swear lines that have run right at the water line of conservative politics for years. What Trump has done - I suspect more intuitively than with a conscious strategy or plan - is to package them all together and strip away the window dressing which has allowed this menu of resentment to both stoke base conservative anger and appeal to more respectable conservative elites without creating channel conflict between the two. This is no more than the monster which Republican elites created and used to marvelous effect. Only now it appears to be in the process of slipping its leash and devouring its creators rather than uneasily or crankily serving it.
I bet Josh didn't have any conservatives at Thanksgiving dinner.
Friday, November 27, 2015
In response to a series of “black-out” demonstrations last week at UCSB and college campuses nationwide calling for “solidarity with Mizzou” black students, the UCSB WSU decided to form its own antithetical “White Student Walk Out” calling for “solidarity” with white students.
What could go wrong.
The identity and motives of the person or people behind the taping have not been determined. Perhaps the defacer is part of the law school community. But maybe not. Perhaps the defacer is white. But maybe not. Perhaps the taping is meant to convey anti-black contempt or hatred for the African-American professors. But maybe it was meant to protest the perceived marginalization of black professors, or was a hoax meant to look like a racial insult in order to provoke a crisis, or was a rebuke to those who have recently been taping over the law school’s seal, which memorializes a family of slaveholders from colonial times. Some observers, bristling with certainty, insist that the message conveyed by the taping of the photographs is obvious. To me it is puzzling.
“If we don’t make this happen, then the American people have every right to be angry at the Republican leadership because this should be among our highest highest priorities at the end of this year,” the presidential contender says in an exclusive interview with Breitbart News.
Feinstein’s seven-year quest to convince “ongress to sequester over 1560 square miles of the Mojave Desert into three new national monuments under her proposed ‘Desert Conservation and Recreation Act” has gone nowhere. Feinstein has argued that the area she wants designated as ‘Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow and Castle Mountains’ is home to mountain lions, the California desert tortoise and bighorn sheep. But the real effort is to ban off-roaders, hunters and miners.
It's in my interest that motorcycles be banned. They really chew up the land. Whatever.
Scientists capture black hole eating a star and then vomiting it back out | Science | News | The Independent
GENEVA — Only days before Pope Francis is scheduled to visit the Central African Republic, the United Nations warned on Friday that a resurgence of violence in the conflict-torn nation has driven tens of thousands of people from their homes and increasingly threatens the delivery of humanitarian aid to the impoverished population.
There are any number of things that you’ll never get Donald Trump to apologize for, (okay… that includes pretty much everything) but now we have one more to add to the list. The Donald had previously made some statements about American Muslims cheering after the 9/11 attacks – along with Ben Carson, depending when you ask him – and he referenced work by New York Times investigative reporter Serge Kovaleski to support his claim. After Kovaleski backed off on parts of his original coverage and impressions of the events, Trump mocked him at one of his rallies. The way he did it, however, has drawn yet another round of massive media criticism. The reporter suffers from arthrogryposis, which restricts the movement of his limbs and Trump’s mocking included some hand gestures which the Times (and every media figure in the ensuing dog pile) concluded was a vulgar display, intentionally mocking Kovaleski’s disability. And apology was demanded yet again, but Trump came out on Thanksgiving and concluded that the New York Times actually owes him an apology. (Washington Post)
PARIS — The attacks by militants tied to the Islamic State less than two weeks ago in Paris have awakened a patriotic fervor in France not seen in decades.
Thousands of people have been flocking to sign up with the military. Those seeking to enlist in the French Army have quintupled to around 1,500 a day. Local and national police offices are flooded with applications. Even sales of the French flag, which the French rarely display, have skyrocketed since the attacks, which left 130 dead.
As Americans prepare to sit down with family and friends on Thanksgiving, a different sort of Turkey carving may soon begin to emerge. This could easily degenerate into a major challenge for the future of NATO and the geopolitical balance in both Europe and the Middle East.ADVERTISEMENT
In the wake of the recent shooting down of a Russian bomber in Turkey, tensions between a NATO member state and Russia are rising to a hotter temperature than either side feels comfortable with. However, wishing the heat would go away won't make it so.
The Republican establishment is nearing full-blown panic about Donald Trump.
The demise of Trump’s candidacy has been predicted by centrist Republicans and the media alike virtually since the day it began. But there is no empirical evidence at all to suggest it is happening.
McDonald was shot 16 times by the police on Oct. 20, 2014. Immediately afterward, Chicago officers entered a nearby Burger King and allegedly erased 86 minutes of footage from its outdoor surveillance cameras, beginning just before the shooting took place. No attempt was made to argue that the shooting was justified. After it happened, the city paid a $5 million settlement to McDonald's family before they could even sue. Elected leaders said nothing about what had happened. No footage was voluntarily released.
Fortunately for those seeking justice, the dashcam video from a police cruiser with a clear view of the event was not erased. It was a year later that the video was finally made public, and that was only because freelance journalist Brandon Smith sued to have it released.
America’s role in the Global War on Terror grows stranger by the hour. President Obama’s fight against ISIS and other radical Islamic terrorists — such as it is — has entered the Twilight Zone. That is the only explanation for Obama’s increasingly bizarre tactics and statements against these existentially dangerous savages.
Saadiq Long is one data point in the quest for narratives. In 2013, liberal journalists wove the facts of Saadiq Long into the greater narrative that the United States was still an oppressive regime under Barack Obama. The "no fly list" was but one example, and Saadiq Long was on the no fly list. The cause of Saadiq Long was championed by MSNBC, Glenn Greenwald, Mother Jones magazine, and more.
As Patrick Poole at PJ Media reported last week, back in 2013, Saadiq Long wanted to return to his native Oklahoma to visit his ailing mother. Long had moved to Qatar and could not get home because he was on the "no fly list." The media pressure eventually led the Obama Administration to remove Long from the "no fly list," but he was eventually added back. Last week, Long was arrested in Turkey as part of an ISIS cell.
Thursday, November 26, 2015
Give thanks this day for some indirect blessings of liberty, including the behavior-beyond-satire of what are generously called institutions of higher education. People who are imprecisely called educators have taught, by their negative examples, what intelligence is not.
George Orwell once remarked that Stalin’s Soviet Union was a place yesterday’s weather could be changed by decree. America, it seems, is not wholly immune to this totalitarian impulse either. It increasingly manifests itself in political correctness, a phenomenon that is flourishing at elite American universities. Make no mistake: the authoritarian implications of this movement, as Jonathan Chait points out in New York magazine, should not be pooh-poohed. Quite the contrary. The tribunes of political correctness, Chait notes, “ are carrying out the ideals of a movement that regards the delegitimization of dissent as a first-order goal.”
Princeton is welcome to its problems, which are largely self-created. But just as a matter of tactics, a little backbone goes a long way.
The story of how the Pilgrims arrived at our shores on the Mayflower—and how a friendly Patuxet native named Squanto showed them how to plant corn, using fish as fertilizer—is well-known. But Squanto’s full story is not, as National Geographic’s new Thanksgiving miniseries, “Saints & Strangers,” shows. That might be because some details of Squanto’s life are in dispute. The important ones are not, however. His story is astonishing, even raising profound questions about God’s role in American history.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Zoolander 2 isn’t just bad for trans people – it’s a step backwards for us all | Sara Pascoe | Comment is free | The Guardian
Transgender people, non-gendered people, the androgynous and those with gender fluidity are beginning to be represented in pop culture. Non-binary gender is becoming part of mainstream understanding. In the Zoolander 2 trailer, it is All who is modern and successful, and the cis male models who are past it, unnecessary, asking stupid questions: “Hot dog or a bun?” Maybe this bluntly drawn androgyne exists because everyone gets made fun of in comedy? It’s fair, some might argue – we’re all targets. Equal-opportunity mockery.
Uh, OK. For those of you who are wondering, such as I, what exactly "cisgender" means, here's wikipedia:
Cisgender (often abbreviated to simply cis) describes related types of gender identity perceptions, where individuals' experiences of their own gender agree with the sex they were assigned at birth. Sociologists Kristen Schilt and Laurel Westbrook define cisgender as a label for "individuals who have a match between the gender they were assigned at birth, their bodies, and their personal identity". They see cisgender as a complement to transgender.
The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which governs these issues, defines “refugee” as someone who has fled from his or her home country and cannot return because he or she has a well-founded fear of persecution on account of “religion” – as well as race, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. This certainly doesn’t let us use a religious test to filter otherwise-eligible immigrants out. But it does mean that when we’re deciding who to admit as refugees, religion matters.
Islam is not a race. Islam is not an ethnicity. Islam is a religion and a political philosophy. And it is distinct from other religions and political philosophies.
Pointing this fact out does not make a person obsessed with hatred or racism. A Muslim might hold moderate views or he might hold extreme ones. If we act as if the color of people’s skin rather than their beliefs define them, we’re engaging in a curiously narrow-minded discussion about one of the world’s great faiths—one that is comprised of all races and many ethnicities.
Yet this is exactly the formulation many on the Left demand.
Most are, rather, victims of the very large admissions preferences that set up racial-minority students for academic struggle at the selective universities that have cynically misled them into thinking they are well qualified to compete with classmates who are, in fact, far stronger academically.
The reality is that most good black and Hispanic students, who would be academically competitive at many selective schools, are not competitive at the more selective schools that they attend.
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
iagrams of simple machines—a pulley, an inclined plane, a lever—appeared on the massive whiteboard of a school STEAM lab (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics plus art) in South Fayette, a fast-growing suburb of Pittsburgh. Two dozen fifth-graders, split into teams of four, busily sketched designs for “Rube Goldberg machines” that would turn on and off lights or feed the lab’s pet fish. No single child designed a complete machine. Instead, each team member spent a few minutes sketching out how one part—a marble run, say, or a Lego Robotics kicking foot—would operate within the machine. Then they switched papers and the next person added onto the design with another part.
Vladimir Putin’s reaction to Turkey shooting down Russian warplane: The Russian president expect Recep Tayyip Erdogan to make good on threats.
Grisly pictures allegedly showing the dead body of one of the Russian pilots are circulating on social media. If the images prove to be authentic, they could force the Kremlin into even deeper involvement in Syria. By evening, state media were reporting that Syrian fighters had shot down a helicopter, killing one Russian soldier involved in a search-and-rescue mission for the pilots.
In killing 130 civilians in Paris—the worst such attack in France since World War II—ISIS has forced us to contend, once again, with the question of the “rationality” of self-professed ideologues. Since it wrested the world’s attention with its capture of Iraq’s second-largest city in June 2014, the extremist group has prioritized state-building over fighting far enemies abroad. This is what distinguished ISIS: It wasn’t just, or even primarily, a terrorist organization. It had an unusually pronounced interest in governance. As Yale University’s Andrew March and Mara Revkin lay out in considerable detail, the group focused its energy on developing fairly elaborate institutional structures in the territory it controlled within Iraq and Syria. ISIS wasn’t simply making things up as it went along. It may have been mad, but there was a method to the madness.
A month before the Yale Halloween meltdown, I had a bizarre and illuminating experience at an elite private high school on the West Coast. I’ll call it Centerville High. I gave a version of a talk that you can see here, on Coddle U. vs. Strengthen U. (In an amazing coincidence, I first gave that talk at Yale a few weeks earlier). The entire student body — around 450 students, from grades 9-12 — were in the auditorium. There was plenty of laughter at all the right spots, and a lot of applause at the end, so I thought the talk was well received.
Apparently, Obama, though he says he hasn’t made up his mind about whether to send weapons to Ukraine, actually has and is. He now seems to be quietly trashing the spirit though no provision in the Minsk II truce that was arranged by Merkel, Hollande, Putin, and Poroshenko, and signed by the OSCE, Russia, Ukraine, and both of the rebelling former parts of Ukraine, the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic. Obama now appears to be sending heavy weapons to Ukraine, and thus assisting Ukraine to resume attacking the DPR & LPR.
This post from a pro-Russian blog from last March says there are US tanks in Ukraine, something I can't find confirmed (in a quick google search) in the MSM. But, eldest son says he heard from a reliable source of a column of 50 or so tanks that looked like Abrams, followed by a US Embassy car, heading toward the front in Ukraine. So, maybe Obama is standing up a little after all. Alternatively, this may be US generals standing up, taking advantage of a President who lets them call the shots. H/t LGS.