Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Exegesis Of Philip K. Dick: Hacking The Hero's Journey

I've watched a lot of these TED & TEDx videos but this one has to be one of the better ones' in recent memory that I've seen, not just for the thought provoking ideas brought forth in the video but just because, as a fan of the author myself, its' just really interesting to hear a differing perspective on one of the best writers of the mid-to-late 20th century.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Founder's Quote, 19 Dec. 2014

It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will triumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not. - John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams — 1776

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Seared Music: The Smiths - "What Difference Does It Make?"

...if this isn't the Obama Administration's view on the world-at-large, what is?

Klavan & Whittle: What Is Truth?

...good question. As long as man's been on this earth, that question has always been asked...

America Lost Its' First Cyberwar...

Neville Chamberlain would be so proud of Sony's actions in bowing down as they below, wouldn't he?
Sony’s shock decision to scrap the Dec. 25 release of its controversial movie “The Interview” will strengthen hackers, experts warn, fueling debilitating cyberattacks on other high-profile firms.
Still reeling from a crippling Nov. 24 hack, Sony Pictures Entertainment announced Wednesday that it had canceled “The Interview’s” Christmas Day release after a number of movie chains said that they would not show the film. “The Interview,” which pokes fun at North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, is believed to have prompted last month’s devastating attack on the studio and subsequent threats to movie theaters. The FBI has connected Pyongyang to the cyberattack, a federal law enforcement source told Fox News Wednesday.
Experts warn that Sony’s decision could spur politically motivated hackers to launch even more ambitious assaults against corporations and governments.
“Capitulation to cyber extortion will incentivize other actors to achieve political gains via cyber intrusions and threats,” Sean Doherty, president of security firm TSC Advantage, told, in an email. “This situation is not dissimilar to what we’ve seen with kidnapping situations, where paying ransoms to terrorists and criminal actors has increased the threat to potential victims.” (Fox News)
Sony's decision was capitulation on an epic scale for two principle reasons: (1)as stated in the above quote, Sony's actions basically give a greenlight to others to do similar actions in the hope that their potential victims will back down and acquiesce in the fact of threats and (2)this marks, as best as I can gather, the first time an American company (or America, in a broader sense) has allowed a foreign country and/or actor to bully us into self-censorship.

Now, to be fair, was it dumb of Sony to make a film  w/a premise such as killing another country's leader? Yes...but it was even worse of Sony to back down following the hacking of Sony's computer systems, for the reasons stated above.

Andrew Klavan: We Must Defend Cancer...Against Israel?!?

...quoting the Right Scoop: Another hilarious monologue by Andrew Klavan illustrating the stupidity of those who oppose Israel. 
...for what its' worth, Klavan hits its out of the park here; there actually are those in the benighted left who would deny the world some of medicine's biggest potential advances all because they came from the State of Israel, that is how dumb some w/in the BDS movement are at present...

H/T to the Right Scoop

Founder's Quote, 18 Dec. 2014

With hearts fortified with these animating reflections, we most solemnly, before God and the world, declare, that, exerting the utmost energy of those powers, which our beneficent Creator hath graciously bestowed upon us, the arms we have compelled by our enemies to assume, we will, in defiance of every hazard, with unabating firmness and perseverance employ for the preservation of our liberties; being with one mind resolved to die freemen rather than to live as slaves. - John Dickinson and Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of the Cause and Necessity of Taking up Arms — 1775

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Seared Music: Tool - "Forty Six & Two"

...maybe its' just me, but if Carl Jung were alive today, this would be his kind of song...just saying. ;)

U.S. & Cuba To Begin Normalizing Relations

To borrow Joe Biden's infamous words, this is a big mf'n deal:
The United States and Cuba agreed on Wednesday to restore diplomatic ties that Washington severed more than 50 years ago, and President Barack Obama called for an end to the long economic embargo against its old Cold War enemy.
After 18 months of secret talks, Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro agreed in a phone call on Tuesday on a breakthrough prisoner exchange, the opening of embassies in each other's countries, and an easing of some restrictions on commerce.
The two leaders made the announcement in simultaneous televised speeches. The Vatican and Canada facilitated the deal. Obama's call for an end to the economic embargo drew resistance from Republicans who will control both houses of Congress from January and who oppose normal relations with the communist-run island. (Reuters)
As Obama's decision continues to reverberate both domestically and across-the-world, two thoughts are paramount. On the one hand, I'm somewhat skeptical as to how this will improve things w/in Cuba, given the current autocratic regime in Havana...on the other hand, given that the 55-year embargo has been a bit of a failure - after all, the Castros' are still in power at present - maybe it is time to try something different. After all, if we can relations with other autocratic regimes such as Russia, China and Vietnam, why not with Cuba?

Founder's Quote, 17 Dec. 2014

[T]he Constitution ought to be the standard of construction for the laws, and that wherever there is an evident opposition, the laws ought to give place to the Constitution. But this doctrine is not deducible from any circumstance peculiar to the plan of convention, but from the general theory of a limited Constitution. - Alexander Hamilton, 1788

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Seared Music: Supertramp - "Dreamer"

...why, yes, I'm a dreamer; I'd like to think that we all have big dreams to dream, that our dreams sometimes become true and real...isn't that part of the human experience?

District Court Rules Obama Executive Action Unconstitutional

Expect this to get fast-tracked through the federal judiciary....
Earlier Tuesday, a federal court in Pennsylvania declared aspects of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration policy unconstitutional.
According to the opinion by Judge Arthur Schwab, the president’s policy goes “beyond prosecutorial discretion” in that it provides a relatively rigid framework for considering applications for deferred action, thus obviating any meaningful case-by-case determination as prosecutorial discretion requires, and provides substantive rights to applicable individuals.  As a consequence,  Schwab concluded, the action exceeds the scope of executive authority.
This is the first judicial opinion to address Obama’s decision to expand deferred action for some individuals unlawfully present in the United States. (Washington Post)
Translation: just because Congress hasn't, to paraphrase the president, "passed a bill" doesn't mean that the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue can do what it wants instead; there are constitutional limits to the president's powers and this case illustrates them. Throw in the current lawsuit filed by two-dozen states on the issue of the president's recent executive action on immigration and, as I said earlier, expect this to get fast-tracked to the High Court in due time.

6 Reasons Why Jeb Bush Shouldn't Run For President

Oh, just what the Republicans need in, not really:
On Tuesday, former Florida governor Jeb Bush announced via Facebook that he would “actively explore” a presidential run – in other words, Bush announced that he would be entering the 2016 primary sweepstakes. His early jump effectively bars the candidacies of 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney as well as Florida Senator Marco Rubio. It also disheartens members of the conservative base, who see Bush as too moderate, unlikely to fight the Clintons tooth and nail, and as a representative of a family that helped destroy the Republican brand not once but twice. (Breitbart)
Now, the Breitbart article above lists 6 reasons why Jeb Bush shouldn't run for President in 2016...those reasons are:

Hopefully, Jeb'll see the conservative light...or I suspect there'll be a bruising primary battle between the Establishment and Grass-Roots wings of the GOP come 2016.

Founder's Quote, 16 Dec. 2014

The deliberate union of so great and various a people in such a place, is without all partiality or prejudice, if not the greatest exertion of human understanding, the greatest single effort of national deliberation that the world has ever seen. - John Adams, quoted in a letter from Rufus King to Theophilus Parsons — 1788

Monday, December 15, 2014

Seared Music: A Certain Ratio - "Flight"

...maybe its' just me, but I suspect in the grand halls of music, there's likely a section dedicated to the music of Manchester, England...and if there is, these guys are probably somewhere in the midst of it.

Rolling Stone & The Rape Of Journalism

2 thoughts here on the now-thoroughly discredited Rolling Stone UVa campus rape case: (1)everyone involved in this story from the writer to their editor and on up the chain ought to be fired from that rag of a magazine...and (2)this story does a major disservice to actual rape victims in two respects: first, it denigrates and demeans those who've actually suffered from the horrific crime of rape and second, imagine what those at the UVa fraternity are going through; for all intent-and-purposes, their lives are just as ruined as the life of the alleged victim up at UVa.

Put simply, this case not only is an insult to actual rape victims, Rolling Stone have also enabled rapists and that is even worse.

Is There A Way To Break The IRS Stonewall?

Surprisingly, yes:
Congress should proceed carefully but steadily. First, see if Judge Jackson secures the IRS documents for Cause of Action. The agency could appeal her ruling and delay for a few months, but it cannot simply refuse a judge’s order. To ensure that the documents are not heavily redacted, Paul Ryan and Orrin Hatch, respectively the new chairmen of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, should exercise their unique legal right to review the raw documents without deletions. If stymied, they too should sue. (Wall Street Journal)
Unfortunately, the WSJ article is behind a paywall, so I'm having to go off of the information discussed in Thomas Lifson's article over at American Thinker (hat-tip to AT) but its' interesting to say the least. Basically, if the IRS appeals the judge's decision should she rule against them, Congress could then review the documents themselves as they were originally written, not as they were presented in Cause of Action's FOIA request...
This is a fascinating wrinkle.  I had no idea that there was a special right available to Congress to see un-redacted material.  Perhaps this is a corollary to national security issues, where members of Congress are authorized to view confidential documents.  Professor Lipson continues:
If the documents show repeated, politicized contacts between the IRS and the White House—and only then—the House and Senate should vote to establish a joint congressional committee to investigate. The committee’s senior members should be seasoned prosecutors, aided by outside counsel with deep experience investigating white-collar crime. Such a body would raise the issues before a skeptical or hostile mainstream media, and overcome the disorganized grandstanding that undermines so many hearings.
The heavy lifting, particularly taking depositions under oath, should be done behind closed doors, beginning with lower-level people who might have seen unauthorized documents or their political uses. Give them transactional immunity and make clear they face serious legal peril if they fail to testify fully and truthfully. Then follow the chain of testimony up the organizational chain. A well-conducted investigation would either clear the White House’s senior political aides or implicate them in serious wrongdoing. (Wall Street Journal)
With two years remaining in the Obama Administration, they could very well try to continue stonewalling Congress on the IRS issue here, but if Congress sets itself to it and begins digging in as the good professor above explains, they could very well break this whole story wide open...and that would be a good thing for America all around.

Founder's Quote, 15 Dec. 2014

A constitution founded on these principles introduces knowledge among the people, and inspires them with a conscious dignity becoming freemen; a general emulation takes place, which causes good humor, sociability, good manners, and good morals to be general. That elevation of sentiment inspired by such a government, makes the common people brave and enterprising. That ambition which is inspired by it makes them sober, industrious, and frugal. - John Adams, Thoughts on Government — 1776