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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Friday, January 20, 2012

WORD AROUND THE NET

“You do not protect honest online content producers from pirates by breaking the internet for the innocent.”
-Paul Hsieh

Turner, Oregon is a small town not too far from where I live, and heavy rains has caused flooding there. To compound matters, there was a melt in the mountains which has sent high waters down the rivers and creeks and the entire town has been shut down. Most of the schools have closed in town and there are areas underwater. This isn't as bad as the 1996 flood we had, but its pretty wet around here. Thankfully my home isn't much affected other than some water in the basement.

SOPA and PIPA aren't dead, just on hiatus. Representative Lamar "vote me the hell out of office" Smith (R-TX) is planning on bringing SOPA up for a vote next month, and PIPA is scheduled for a cloture vote next week.

What are SOPA and PIPA? Jamal at 1st Website Designer explains in detail how it would affect you, but one of the best illustrations I've seen is that downloading a Michael Jackson song would get you 1 more year in prison than the doctor who killed him got. Here's a summary of PIPA:
  • Force U.S. internet providers to block access to websites deemed as enablers of copyright infringement
  • Seek legal action by suing search engines, blog sites, directories, or any site in general to have the black listed sites removed from their website
  • Will be able to force advertising services on infringing websites, and those supporting of them, to remove them from their advertising accounts
  • Companies will also have the power to sue any new websites that get started after this bill is passed, if they believe that they are not doing a good job of preventing infringement on your website
And here's a summary of SOPA:
  • The U.S. Attorney General can now seek a court order that would force search engines, advertisers, DNS providers, servers, and payment processors from having any contact with allegedly infringing websites
  • It will allow private corporations to create their own personal hit lists composed of websites they feel are breaking their copyright policies, ironically this doesn’t have any odd feelings of a legal mafia at all. These companies will be able to directly contact a website’s payment processors a notice to cut all off payment involvement with the targeted website. This payment processors and website of question will then have five days to act before it is simply taken down.
  • Payment processors will have the power to cut off any website they work with, as long as they can provide a strong reason of why they believe this site is violating copyrights
And those are only the intentional, known effects, not the inevitable consequences and extra ways the government will use it to control the internet.

Although professors are upset with this statement, and Joe Biden usually seems to be a functioning retard (like, 75 IQ), when he said that professors are part of the reason tuitions are so high, he was right. They are overpaid, particularly given the product.

The United States is over fifteen trillion dollars in debt, and has not passed a budget in three years. In fact, by the time President Obama gives his State of the Union attack on Republicans in congress, it will have been 1000 days. Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission has a useful set of tips on how to get out of debt. The first suggestion? make a budget. Seriously.

President Obama's statement when he shut down the Keystone XL pipeline project claimed he wants to find ways to develop domestic energy. However, last week, Obama interior secretary Ken Salazar shut down uranium mining in a huge area of Arizona. Cheap, clean energy from nuclear power? Don't want that. And it doesn't stop there...

Regulation and union labor costs are so high in the United States that instead of building new refineries, we're shutting them down. The Hovensa oil refinery in the US Virgin Islands is closing down because it cannot compete with cheaper operations in India, China and the Middle East.

Recently a study was done on internet names and comments by Disqus, who runs most comment sections for blogs and other sites. Here's what they claim:
“The average commenter using a pseudonym contributed 6.5 times more than anonymous commenters and 4.7 times more than commenters identifying with Facebook,” Disqus said.

These partially veiled commenters are also soliciting more “likes” and replies — positive quality signals, according to Disqus — than their anonymous and real name counterparts. Sixty-one percent of comments made by people using pseudonyms showed positive quality signals, while 51 percent of comments from those using their real names and 34 percent from the anonymous types possessed positive quality signals.
The problem with this claim is that few people post under their real name on the internet. I do, a few others do, but almost everyone uses a pseudonym. Another problem is that they are deeming any login other than Facebook a pseudonym, and presuming anyone who uses Facebook is using their actual name. In other words... the study doesn't tell us anything about anyone.

According to the Associated Press, the average age of vehicles on the road in the US has risen to 10.8 years. This is a new record for car ownership, which has been on the rise since 2008. Partly this is due to people not having money to buy new cars, and partly its due to the idiotic Cash for Clunkers program which drove the price of used cars through the roof by destroying hundreds of thousands of perfectly serviceable older cars.

Mitt Romney is rich. I'm not sure why this is being reported recently as if its news, that's been known for decades. News flash: so is President Obama. So is every candidate running for the office except perhaps Vermin Supeme. As The Anchoress says:
I don’t want the Obama’s $81 steaks. I don’t even want their access to a tony restaurant or a private dining area. I’d rather not have to get dressed up. But it seems to me that a president should not want to eat an $81 steak if he is disdainful of others who do so.
Another attack on Romney is the claim he has hidden tax sheltered money in offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands. Except, he pays taxes on the money and only has the funds there because its easier to do banking through that for many international companies than in the US. Which seems like as an Instapundit reader writes, this says more about US banking regulations than it does Mitt Romney.

Some soldiers were caught on film apparently urinating on deceased Taliban. Aside from the obvious confusion about why its outrageous and unacceptable to whiz on a person but perfectly fine to blow their heads off with a rifle... how is this any sort of condemnation of the military? If President Bush were in office, would this not be framed as something wrong with the president?

Iowa's caucus appears to have been mishandled and improperly reported. basically what happened is that the results from several areas weren't clear and on time, so the Republican Party just decided that Romney had won them. It appears that Santorum actually won them, and the entire caucus, by a comfortable margin. That still doesn't say anything useful, and the caucus is massively overhyped, but it means that Romney has only won one state and a couple of delegates.

Congressman Issa is issuing a federal soebpena to the Arizona US Attorney's Office in regard to the Fast & Furious scandal. While the legacy media is basically ignoring this and the Obama Administration is stonewalling it, congress keeps looking around and more and more is found. This issue is not going away.

Just so you know what the consequences of Fast&Furious is, the Mexican state of Chihuahua, which borders Texas, was the site of 47,000 murders last year, some of them using guns that the US federal government gave brutal drug gangs.

The US Federal Government shut down the file storage and sharing website Megaupload, which is estimated to account for 4% of the total Internet traffic, an astonishing number. Megaupload has a scheme by which if you buy a premium account, you get a small share of money each time your files are downloaded. The federal government alleges that they weren't paying people enough. And Megaupload is notoriously unconcerned about the content on their site, so they're being busted for massive copyright violations as well. Here's where it gets interestiong though; the hackers and web geeks loosely gathered under the name Anonymous shut down several federal websites in retaliation, since they heavily rely on Megaupload to share tentacle hentai and popular movies. When it comes to computers, fear the web geek more than the fed.

ACORN is still around, despite sometimes changing its name in some areas. And the Obama administration is still giving them money, despite that being illegal after congress banned doing so. And what's more, the Obama Justice Department under Eric Holder is coordinating with ACORN's Project Vote on lawsuits and dealing with voter fraud and vote counting. This is part of the administration's Chicago politics-style of dealing with the upcoming election. When you control the justice department, you can ignore electoral violations that help you.

Recently, leftist Bob Beckel on Fox Five admitted that leftist socialism was a failure:
We liberals made a terrible mistake going back 30 years ago. We made a dependent society because we thought we were doing the right thing. We had things like public housing and we had welfare payments and all that bred dependency, and it was our responsibility, we did it for the right reasons, we need to change that. But the way you change it is not to say that it's an opportunity society alone that's gonna do it. It's gonna require some government intervention.
Of course, his solution to problems caused by big government interference is to have... more big government interference. They meant well, though, so its okay.

Another leftist, Governor Cuomo, also admitted the failure of socialism in New York City:
Gov. Cuomo lobbed a political grenade at New York’s powerful public-employee unions yesterday, proposing a radical pension overhaul for future city and state workers as part of his $132.5 billion state budget plan.

Cuomo said the plan would save New York City $30 billion in pension costs over 30 years, while saving $83 billion for the state and local governments outside the city over the same period.

“We can no longer sustain the current pension system,” Cuomo said, citing a projected 185 percent treasury-busting increase in pension costs from 2009 to 2015 if nothing is done.

“This is devastating to the state and the local governments,” he said of the rising costs.

“We need pension reform. We need it desperately.”
Basically, like every other state, New York State is being destroyed by gold plated pension funds for unionized state workers.

Conservatives have long been concerned with expenditures such as the International Monetary Fund for constitutional reasons (where in the US Constitution does it permit the federal government to use tax money to give loans to other nations?). But the recent fiscal troubles in Europe have prompted an even more frustrating problem: bailouts. Matthew Boyle writes at the Daily Caller about congressmen fed up with the cost:
When California Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi was the Speaker of the House in 2009, President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats authorized $100 billion in spending as a line of credit for the International Monetary Fund to be used in times of emergency — funds that could now be used to bail out European banks.

As the Eurozone takes a turn for the worse and chatter heats up about more European Union and IMF bailouts across the continent, Republicans in Congress are pushing to rescind the $100 billion set-aside.

That $100 billion is an addition to the $64.4 billion the U.S. Treasury will provide in quotas to the IMF this year. That new funding has not been formally appropriated, but the IMF could request the money whenever it pleases.
Even if it was constitutional, the US is 15 trillion in debt and doesn't have the money to bail out other nations. Sorry Greece, we have to take care of our own citizens.

Three anti-whaling radicals were captured when they forcibly boarded a Japanese whaling ship. The Australian government spent a million Australian dollars (about $1,030,000 US) on maintaining the anti whaling ship and recovering the activists. The people who did this were customs agents, who were diverted for nine days, according to Andrew Bolt, and while they were doing this, they weren't actually doing their job protecting any other fisheries.

Politifact is a website which purports to analyze news and statements for truth and accuracy. Their slogan is "sorting out the truth in politics," but as Tom at Big Tent reports, that's not exactly what the website does Politifact contacted him for analysis of a statement by Mitt Romney, then proceeded to ignore most of what he said and spin the statement as wrong and misleading even though it was accurate:
Additionally, in his final few paragraphs, Jacobson refers to Romney's statements as "meaningless," "glib," "preposterous," and "ridiculous." To be frank, I'm a little surprised by that wording, especially in writing for a site that strives for objectivity.

My opinion, for what it is worth, is that since Romney's base statement was factually accurate when it came to most numerical metrics, it would seem that he could be given credit for a half-truth, even if the context complicates the matter.
I have to give Politifact credit for trying to research but they ruined it by an obviously biased conclusion meant to help Democrats. That would be fine if the site was "Democrat News" but they pretend to be an unbiased, objective arbiter of fact like Media Matters.

Self esteem was the core of educational philosophy for decades, and finally educators are starting to question the 60's era dogma that its better for students to feel good about their answers than to get them right. I remember well a study done in the 90s which showed the US students ranked last in 6 countries in math and science scholastic achievement, but first in how they felt about their achievement. Japan's rankings were reversed. Michael Alison Chandler in the Washington Post wrote about the topic recently:
A growing body of research over three decades shows that easy, unearned praise does not help students but instead interferes with significant learning opportunities. As schools ratchet up academic standards for all students, new buzzwords are “persistence,” “risk-taking” and “resilience” — each implying more sweat and strain than fuzzy, warm feelings.

“We used to think we could hand children self-esteem on a platter,” Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck said. “That has backfired.”

Dweck’s studies, embraced in Montgomery schools and elsewhere, have found that praising children for intelligence — “You’re so clever!” — also backfires. In study after study, children rewarded for being smart become more likely to shy away from hard assignments that might tarnish their star reputations.

But children praised for trying hard or taking risks tend to enjoy challenges and find greater success. Children also perform better in the long term when they believe that their intellect is not a birthright but something that grows and develops as they learn new things.
Mind you this is not exactly ideal, but its a lot better than promoting people to the next grade so you don't hurt their feelings.

President Obama recently said that we can't go back to "on-your-own" economics, which is basically a trial balloon for another phrase to replace "redistribution," "socialism," and "social justice." The problem is it all means the same thing: eliminating risk, consequence, and personal achievement. As Walter Williams notes in the Washington Examiner:
I'm guessing what the president means by -- and finds offensive in -- "you're-on-your-own economics" is that it's a system in which people are held responsible for their actions, that they take risks and must live with the results, that people can't force others to pay for their mistakes, and that they can't live at the expense of other people.
Equality of outcome is what the president wants, no matter how much that destroys the soul, the economy, and liberty.

According to Alex Pappas at the Daily Caller, O'Keefe showed how easy it was to register and vote for dead people in New Hampshire:
Voters in the Granite State are not required to present identification to vote. O’Keefe’s investigators were able to obtain ballots under the names of dead voters at polling locations Tuesday by simply asking for them, he said.

“Live free or die,” an election worker told one of the investigators in the video. “This is New Hampshire. No ID needed.”
New Hampshire state law prohibits poll workers from asking for identification.

Speaking of Voter ID, here's a hilarious example of hypocrisy from the very people who insist voter ID is evil and oppressive. The Wisconsin Democratic Party had on its website a requirement that all volunteers must show picture ID.

There's finally a welcome home parade for victorious Iraq vets, in St Louis Missouri. New York City would seem like the obvious first choice, given 9/11 and their personal battles against terrorism, but no that would seem like Bush might have been right, somehow. Bet ya black bloc and occupy show up to try to ruin the parade - and so will Democrat anti-war activists at the Westboro Baptist Church. That webpage has since been taken down and rebuilt without the requirement, but the internet never forgets, and Troglopundit has the screenshot.

They understand perfectly why Voter ID makes sense and is reasonable; it just would interfere with so many useful fraud opportunities.

Some time ago I promoted the film Runaway Slave all about calling blacks to leave the Democratic Party plantation for liberty. The man who made and narrates the movie is Pritchett Cotton, and he's made some enemies after joining the Tea Party movement. For example, his church fired him as pastor and the NAACP stripped him of his position as Chapter President. Star Parker writes:Bryant interviews politicians and everyday Americans in front of Washington, D.C. monuments and in ghetto alleys. He points out that the Black community has 40 percent of its population on welfare, 72 percent of its children born out of wedlock and a 48 percent abortion rate, and asks “Is this what the black community has to show for its 95% support of the Democratic Party?”Yet over 80% will probably vote for President Obama again.

Shale oil and natural gas harvesting is on the rise as gas prices keep going up. As a result, the cost of electricity is dropping, by as much as 50%. Another major contributing factor is the abandonment of failed, insufficient energy sources such as wind and solar. Investment in these "green" power sources was heavy but very expensive, and power companies are starting to give up on them.

Occupy protestors caused a lockdown of the White House again recently; no one was arrested. They've been sitting in DC in violation of various city ordinances and reasonable hygiene practices, but we're all on the hook for the cleanup. The police keeping watch over the occupiers come out of US taxpayer pockets, and so does the ranks of port-a-potties that are supplied for them. Well, in New York City and other places, they just used whatever was nearby, so I guess that's a little better.

One of the first things president Obama did when in office, other than get a Nobel Peace Prize for doing nothing, was to fail to get the Olympics to come to Chicago, Illinois. It took two years of legal battles and bureaucracy fighting to get the freedom of information data, but here's what it cost:
  • $235,659 – Hotel rental for seven “offices” plus transportation and communications (through October 2, 2009)
  • $33,044 – Cost of extra day in hotel (October 3, 2009)
  • $129,276 – Travel vouchers for hotel, mileage, reimbursed expenses, and flight costs for persons attending
  • $69,196 – Flight costs for press
Why exactly is the US government paying for the press to fly and write about a story?

Although this isn't the first time the US Government has done this (the last time was under Bush the elder), the Treasury Department has dipped into government worker pension funds to pay for the radical overspending of the federal government. Because the Obama administration wants to keep spending but has a debt limit, they're using retirement funds of workers to fill the gap.

I've never heard her music, and I suspect it sucks, but Polish Pop Star Dorota Rabczewska, aka "Doda," was fined 5000 zloty ($1,500 US) for defaming a religion. Shock of all shocks, the religion offended this time wasn't Islam, but Christianity:
In the interview, the singer lamented that there were no references to dinosaurs in the Bible, and said it was “hard to believe in something written by someone who was hammered on wine and who'd been smoking herbs.”

The case was brought by Ryszard Nowak, chairman of the privately run Nationwide Defence Committee Against Sects.
Freedom of speech means putting up with people saying stupid, even obnoxious stuff. Blasphemy laws are absolutely tyrannical and must be opposed at every opportunity.

Meanwhile on the other end of the spectrum, White House aide Valerie Jarrett spoke from the pulpit of a black church during a church service and attacked Republicans. Democratic Party pundits and politicians do this regularly, and the ACLU never even notices, but if a Republican tried it, they'd be up on federal charges and screams of conflict of church and state. As a side note, what exactly is it that Valerie Jarrett does?

Demonstrating tolerance, diversity, and the ideals of Martin Luther King jr, several speakers at a memorial service for the slain civil rights leader attacked Newt Gingrich.

Art. Its not subjective and it isn't in the eye of the beholder; beauty is as absolute as truth and goodness. But art was the first victim of relativism, and that's why we get miserable trash like this:
“The Smell of a Critical Moment,” which opened yesterday at Doorways on Van Duzer Street, features 99 T-shirts that protesters wore for a week straight, without washing them.

Artist Gayil Nalls distributed new white tees to OWSers and on Jan. 12 collected the body-odor-drenched shirts to capture the revolution’s essence.
New Yorkers pay good money to go in and smell the stench, and then go away feeling good about themselves. Good artists capture ideas. Hack wannabes capture trash and try to pass it off as art.

New York City raised taxes on cigarettes recently, presuming that would help pay for their welfare programs, graft, and gold plated union pensions. The problem is... they haven't earned any extra tax money from the increase, according to a Cuomo office internal memo.

Netflix streams a lot of movies. In the last three months of 2011, the media giant showed more than 3000 human lifetimes worth of movies; over two billion hours worth. Hollywood wants to put that genie back in the bottle, and it ain't happening.

Lately it seems like remakes, TV show movies, and sequels is all we get at the box office, but there are some exceptions. There are fifty original movies planned for next year, and some of them sound pretty interesting.

One odd sequel that never made it past the planning stages was a film setting Frankenstein's Monster against King Kong. In case you're wondering how that would be a remotely challenging battle, this time the monster is made to be huge, at least twenty feet tall. The concept and story was sold to Toho pictures in Japan, who turned it into Godzilla vs King Kong.

Rand Paul (a Republican Senator from Kentucky) is trying to lead the way in budget cutting by slashing his own congressional budget, which is something I suggested over a year ago for all of congress. Apparently he's not the only one who's doing that either:
The half million dollars represents about 16 percent of Paul’s annual budget. He contended no senator had returned as much to taxpayers, though at least two senators disputed that claim. An aide to Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) said his office returned $636,036 in unspent money to the Treasury in Fiscal Year 2010 and another $503,161 in 2011.
I just can't work out why each Senator gets more than five million bucks in operating budget a year.

President Obama made a weekly address in which he criticized the US Economy for being "known for paper profits or financial speculation." Some have attacked this statement, but it is not entirely without merit. The bulk of the US economy does not exist in real funds, only on paper or computer transactions. And the perception of the US economy is often one of it being investment and speculation rather than industry and production. Ask most people and they'll claim nothing is actually made in America any longer, which is far from true. So I can't really attack him for this statement, although what he wants to replace it with is flat out socialistic nonsense. And his claim that he wants a lean, efficient government is put to lie by his actions for more than three years.

And that's the Word Around the Net for January 20, 2012.

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