Things worth your time.

View 844 Sunday, September 21, 2014

“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”

President Barack Obama, January 31, 2009



And if you did not see yesterday’s Climate Science Is Not Settled, you should find it worth your while whether you are a Believer or a Denier.

The California 1914 Sixth Grade Reader continues to draw praise as new readers discover what sixth grade readers – not advanced placement, or college prep students, but sixth grade students many of whom would not go to high school – read and enjoyed 100 years ago, when the heritage of western civilization was not despised by the self-anointed intelligentsia.

I am preparing an essay on a US strategy for the Middle East that has a chance of working to give us a positive outcome. Not the impossible glorious results we held back in the days of “the End of History” when serious intellectuals believed that liberal democracy would be the inevitable replacement for all the despotisms, radical ideologies, tyrannies, kleptocracies, failed states, and other unpleasant places, and that it was our duty to march with the flywheel of history and help implement this Hegelian inevitability. Those familiar with Marxism would have noticed that this sounded much like the Communist Party line in the days when many believed that Communism was the inevitable end of history; many former Marxists understood that and cheered.

Many who sent our troops and treasure into Iraq and Afghanistan truly believed that before we left those places they would be nascent liberal democracies, and help point the way for those laggard nations like Russia that were resisting the wave of the future. We were also encouraged to meddle in many places. We took sides in the Balkan Wars without understanding what was at stake, and with no discernible American interest to be served we alienated Russia while gaining no friends.

Now Russia is reverting to strengthening its nuclear arsenal and upgrading its delivery systems as the Russian rulers see NATO troops coming closer and closer to the Russian border, and hear stern warnings about ‘interference’ in territories that have been in the Russian sphere of influence for centuries. Libya is a shambles, Egypt has barely been rescued from possible incorporation into the Caliphate by the return of the Mamelukes, Jordan holds on but feels increasing pressure, the Iraqi army arms the Caliphate with all the modern military equipment paid for by the people of the United States while the Iraqi soldiers who recently persecuted Sunni Iraqis find themselves running from the ISIL Sunni.

There is a way out of this. It is not all the way out, and it involves some losses; but it does avoid disaster. I am still writing this.





I have accumulated a number of stories that ought to be better known. Here are a few.

Looking for Angel to Save Bradbury’s Hugo

Posted on September 18, 2014


Ray Bradbury’s 2004 Retro Hugo for Fahrenheit 451.

Phil Nichols of Bradburymedia would like to see Ray Bradbury’s Retro Hugo for Fahrenheit 451 reunited with the collection at the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies at IUPUI. That Hugo is on the auction block until September 25. The current bid is $5,000.


Joshua Kaplowitz

How I Joined Teach for America—and Got Sued for $20 Million

An idealistic new Yale grad learns up close and personal just how bad inner-city schools can be—and why.


Ebola’s Warning for an Unprepared America

By Scott Gottlieb And Tevi Troy

The world is finally mobilizing to wage a muscular fight against Ebola’s catastrophic spread through West Africa. President Obama has put the Pentagon in charge of a robust, 3,000-person U.S. relief effort in the stricken areas. This is a positive step, but the world is still dangerously ill-prepared for the fight against pandemic outbreaks.

In the case of Ebola, we were late to the battle and are now focused too narrowly on places like Liberia while failing to see West Africa as one big outbreak. We also remain too dependent on outdated tools and strategies in fighting the virus, and are tethered to an effort not yet scaled to the challenge.

While Ebola may still be contained, other potentially calamitous threats are out there. MERS, SARS, avian flu and other illnesses could re-emerge at any time. In the American Midwest, for instance, a novel virus classified as Enterovirus 68 has recently sent some 300 children to the hospital in respiratory distress, with no available antiviral therapy or vaccine. We need to rethink our preparedness and adopt a more modern approach for dealing with these and other looming outbreaks.

An Obsolete Nuclear Treaty Even Before Russia Cheated

The U.S. should withdraw from the INF and upgrade our arsenal to match the nation’s global responsibilities.

By John Bolton And John Yoo

Russia’s attacks on Ukraine are consistent with its efforts to re-establish hegemony in the former Soviet Union. Strategically, however, newly revealed Russian intermediate-range nuclear weapons are just as dangerous, and may be worse. Either way, Moscow’s arms-control treaty violations give America the opportunity to discard obsolete, Cold War-era limits on its own arsenal, and upgrade its military capabilities to match its global responsibilities.

In late July, the Obama administration publicly revealed that Russia had violated the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which banned ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers. The INF treaty enhanced European stability at the Cold War’s ending, easing concerns about a Götterdämmerung meltdown-scenario as the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union collapsed.

Russia has extensively tested a new ballistic missile, the RS-26 Rubezh, which violates the INF. Despite the country’s demographic and economic decline, Moscow also is overhauling its nuclear and conventional arsenal, adding new, multiple-warhead ballistic missiles, and suspending the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty. Russia claims that new threats along its southern border and the rise of China require modernizing its nuclear stockpile. "Why is it that everyone and anyone can have this class of weapons and we and the United States cannot?" Sergei Ivanov, President Vladimir Putin‘s chief of staff and former defense minister, said last year about intermediate-range missiles.



20YY: The Future of Warfare

Paul Scharre and Shawn Brimley

The U.S. military is at a critical juncture. With the end of two wars and a sharp drawdown in defense spending, investments over the next several years will set the military’s course for decades to come. The Pentagon can make smart investments now to prepare for the future, or it can continue to cling to “wasting assets,” legacy platforms and concepts that will be less and less survivable in a future of widely proliferated precision-guided weapons. Without a clear vision of what future force to build, however, bureaucratic inertia and existing programs of record will carry the day.

A new report from the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) articulates a vision of unmanned and autonomous systems as the centerpiece of an emerging warfighting regime dominated by robotics. The proliferation of anti-access and area-denial (A2/AD) technologies to both state and non-state actors is only a precursor to an even more lethal regime characterized by swarms of networked, intelligent machines. Because many of the underlying technologies behind robotics are driven by commercial sector innovation in information technology, the U.S. defense community does not have a monopoly on this technology. Unlike previous innovations like GPS, stealth technology, or advanced sensory capabilities, the robotics revolution will happen whether the U.S. moves first in this arena or not. While the United States enjoys a small lead in unmanned and robotic systems today, other actors are moving aggressively. Scores of states have unmanned vehicles, as do some non-state actors. Autonomous drones can be purchased off-the-shelf, allowing a single terrorist to field a swarm of kamikaze drones. Last month, a hacker demonstrated the ability to use a drone to hack and take control of other drones, raising the specter of a “zombie drone” air force. The robotic warfighting regime is barreling down upon us at an alarming rate, and the U.S. military will need to be more adaptive and innovative or risk falling behind.

20YY: Preparing for War in the Robotic Age is the first report in a multi-year initiative that CNAS has launched examining the impact of emerging technology on the future of warfare. Rapid changes in robotics, autonomy, networking, and computer processing have the potential to dramatically change the character and speed of armed conflict.



With genetic testing, I gave my parents the gift of divorce

Updated by George Doe on September 9, 2014, 7:50 a.m. ET

I’m a stem cell and reproductive biologist. I fell in love with biology when I was in high school. It was the realization that every cell in my body has the same genome and DNA, but each cell is different. A stomach cell is not a brain cell is not a skin cell. But they’re reading from the same book of instructions. With 23andMe, you get your personal genome book, your story. Unless you have an identical twin somewhere, that genetic makeup is unique to you.

Last year, I taught a course about the genome. For one of the lessons, I demonstrated the process of acquiring a tissue sample — in this case saliva — and sending it off to 23andMe to look at a million letters in my genome. 23andMe analyzes them, and spits out a report telling you things about yourself at the genetic level. Then you get the awesome bonus of learning about your ancestry: finding out which parts came from Europe, Africa, Asia.


You can guess what happened next.


Is Artificial Intelligence a Threat?



By Angela Chen

When the world ends, it may not be by fire or ice or an evil robot overlord. Our demise may come at the hands of a superintelligence that just wants more paper clips.


And you have certainly seen other variants of the “grey goo” scenario. But just because someone has thought of the danger does not mean that someone else will not implement it. Bureaucracies are capable of many horrors.

Rotherham Child-sex Victim Confronts Muslim Abuser, Gets Arrested for Racism

September 15, 2014 by Daniel Greenfield

Nothing has changed. The police covered up the Muslim sexual abuse of 1,400 British girls, in some cases arresting the girls and their fathers, but not the Muslim perpetrators.

Now it’s more of the same. (via Instapundit)

A victim of Rotherham’s child sex abuse scandal confronted a man she says groomed her – but was left shocked when she was the one arrested.

The woman was shocked when she saw the man walking through the town’s centre on Friday and decided to challenge him over the allegations.

But she was tackled by two police officers and pushed up against a wall during her ‘thuggish’ arrest, a witness has said.

‘A police van came and six male officers piled out. ‘Two of them dragged her away, handcuffed her, put her against a wall and then shoved her into the back of the van.’

A spokesman said: ‘The woman was arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated public order offences.’

I highly doubt that a police van with six officers is dispatched everyone time someone in South Yorkshire is suspected of being drunk. The key there is “Racially”. A Muslim complained and the hounds were released.

The same police who wouldn’t step in when young girls were being raped, are on the go whenever a Muslim’s feelings are hurt.




Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




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