body~politic

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Fiction's Got Nothing on Venezuela

Fiction's Got Nothing on Venezuela


Venezuelans are stripped of their individuality as the “masses” form endless lines at the supermarket. (Posta)
Español“Totalitarian domination, however, aims at abolishing freedom, even at eliminating human spontaneity in general, and by no means at a restriction of freedom no matter how tyrannical.” — Hanna Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism.+
“Liberty is a precious good, but is not guaranteed, not to any country or person that doesn’t know how to exercise it or defend it. Literature, breathes and lives thanks to her, and without liberty, it is asphyxiated. This means liberty is not a gift from the sky, but an election, a conviction, a practice; ideas that must be enriched and tested always.” — Mario Vargas Llosa, The Civilization of Spectacle. +
When I read literature, it allows me to live other people’s lives. At the risk of sounding cliché, it makes my imagination fly and takes me to another world.+
The journey can be entertaining and fun, or it can be difficult and taxing. One must be in the mood for certain books, since there are those that will test one’s spirit.+
Lately, I cannot help but find similarities in these books and what is currently happening in Venezuela, especially the dystopian novels that have had a great impact on my life.+
In George Orwell’s Animal Farm, for example, the pig Napoleon makes use of propaganda to denounce his enemies and distract from his efforts to remain in power. In Venezuela, the government claims private businessmen are “waging an economic war” against the country to distract from the government’s own hand in the economic crisis, soaring inflation, and widespread shortages.+
In 1984our protagonist, Winston Smith, witnesses the rise of a totalitarian regime that uses manipulative language with repressive ends. Meanwhile, Big Brother wants to be known as a benevolent protector, when in reality he’s part of an oppressive surveillance system meant to capture every action and every thought.+
In Venezuela, the government manipulates language to distort reality and conceal what is really going on in the country. For instance, when the government refers to “expropriation” (which normally should entail compensation) should really be called pillaging, or when exchange rates are “adjusted,” what they are really talking about is inflation.+
Another British writer, Aldous Huxley, takes us to a Brave New World, where there is no war, illness, or poverty. However, it comes at the expense of having a family, diversity, art, religion, and philosophy — at the expense of the individual, in other words. “When the individual feels, the community reels,” Huxley writes.+
In Venezuela, the government is erasing the concept of the individual — one with rights and responsibilities — and replacing it with the idea of the “public,” an undefined mass with no real rights. The government has replaced the concept of citizens with that of subjects. There are no “people,” just long lines at the supermarket, homicide statistics, and increasing numbers fleeing the country in search of a better life.+
While Ray Bradbury imagines a a world where books are banned in Farenheit 451, the Venezuelan government has no need for outright prohibitions. Because of the state’s exchange controls, books and the raw materials to produce them cannot be imported. The most popular titles are not available in Venezuela, and if you are lucky enough to find them, they are not affordable to the average consumer.+
What do these works have in common? Besides being well-written, all of them reflect the aspirations and methods of totalitarian regimes.+
So, what does it mean that each of these stories reminds us of Venezuela? Is truth stranger than fiction? Should we finally recognize that Venezuelans are living under a modern totalitarian regime, and that we should have stopped calling Venezuela a “populist democracy” years ago?+
These are painful questions, but that’s the reality. Only by facing it can we make the firs step toward change. Venezuelans are tired of the government concealing the real reasons behind the crisis we face on a daily basis. We are tired of this government who manipulate language at their convenience.+
We are tired of this government that has erased the individual, keeps basic goods out of reach, and restricts our freedom.+
I choose to live free, and I invite you to do the same.+

Donald Trump, King of Trolling His Critics, Should Be the Internet's Choice for President - Breitbart

Donald Trump, King of Trolling His Critics, Should Be the Internet's Choice for President - Breitbart



Some people will claim that Trump getting involved in the Republican primaries lowers the tone of this noble process. Good. He’s treating it with the dignity it deserves, which is to say: none. Noble process? Give me a break. Primaries are a pack of morons hacking their own political allies to death and repeating ridiculous and largely fictitious stories about their childhoods for the amusement of late-night comedians.




Donald Trump, King of Trolling His Critics, Should Be the Internet's Choice for President - Breitbart

Donald Trump, King of Trolling His Critics, Should Be the Internet's Choice for President - Breitbart





In an arid landscape populated with candidates who are terrified of public relations disasters, Trump will electrify the field. A man who is so rich he can offend anyone and say anything is the perfect antidote to a stultifyingly politically-correct atmosphere. He the perfect man to finally inject some courage into the terminally cautious Republican party.

Iran Deal: Jewish Mag Calls out Obama's Anti-Semitic Rhetoric

Iran Deal: Jewish Mag Calls out Obama's Anti-Semitic Rhetoric



Tablet Magazine, an online Jewish publication, published an editorial Friday calling out President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party for their use of anti-Jewish rhetoric in an effort to whip up public support for the Iran deal.

The editorial, “Crossing a Line to Sell a Deal,” was published Friday–a day after 
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY)

2%
 announced that he would oppose the deal. Schumer was immediately greeted by a wave of vitriol–including political threats from former White House aides. (The White House itself was rumored to have leaked Schumer’s opposition to the media, in anger–though spokesperson Josh Earnest denied it.)



Tablet pointed out the president’s repeated use of terms associated with anti-Semitic accusations of nefarious Jewish wealth, influence and control, which Obama has used throughout the debate. It concluded (original links):
What we increasingly can’t stomach—and feel obliged to speak out about right now—is the use of Jew-baiting and other blatant and retrograde forms of racial and ethnic prejudice as tools to sell a political deal, or to smear those who oppose it. Accusing Senator Schumer of loyalty to a foreign government is bigotry, pure and simple. Accusing Senators and Congressmen whose misgivings about the Iran deal are shared by a majority of the U.S. electorate of being agents of a foreign power, or of selling their votes to shadowy lobbyists, or of acting contrary to the best interests of the United States, is the kind of naked appeal to bigotry and prejudice that would be familiar in the politics of the pre-Civil Rights Era South.
This use of anti-Jewish incitement as a political tool is a sickening new development in American political discourse, and we have heard too much of it lately—some coming, ominously, from our own White House and its representatives. Let’s not mince words: Murmuring about “money” and “lobbying” and “foreign interests” who seek to drag America into war is a direct attempt to play the dual-loyalty card. It’s the kind of dark, nasty stuff we might expect to hear at a white power rally, not from the President of the United States—and it’s gotten so blatant that even many of us who are generally sympathetic to the administration, and even this deal, have been shaken by it.
We do not accept the idea that Senator Schumer or anyone else is a fair target for racist incitement, anymore than we accept the idea that the basic norms of political discourse in this country do not apply to Jews. Whatever one feels about the merits of the Iran deal, sales techniques that call into question the patriotism of American Jews are examples of bigotry—no matter who does it. On this question, we should all stand in defense of Senator Schumer.
Tablet’s politics are diverse; it has both conservative and liberal contributors.

Friday, August 7, 2015

WH PRESS SECRETARY on Twitter: "Obama's on yet another two week vacation, but don't you worry--it's hard for trouble to slip past his keen eye. http://t.co/Snkk0WMksN"

WH PRESS SECRETARY on Twitter: "Obama's on yet another two week vacation, but don't you worry--it's hard for trouble to slip past his keen eye. http://t.co/Snkk0WMksN"

Points

Noah Wehrman on Twitter: "Adoring Crowds Welcome First Family As They Enter Martha's Vineyard For Vacation: . http://t.co/mKlMs6MfE6"

Charlie Spiering on Twitter: "Jon Stewart Finale: 3.5 million Fox GOP debate: 24 million"

Charlie Spiering on Twitter: "Jon Stewart Finale: 3.5 million Fox GOP debate: 24 million"

Record 93,770,000 Americans Not in Labor Force; Participation Rate Matches 38-Year Low

Record 93,770,000 Americans Not in Labor Force; Participation Rate Matches 38-Year Low



(CNSNews.com) - A record 93,770,000 Americans were not in the American labor force last month, and the labor force participation rate remained at 62.6 percent, exactly where it was in June -- a 38-year low, the Labor Department reported on Friday.
In 1975, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics began keeping such records, 58,627,000 Americans were not in the labor force, and the number has grown steadily since then, breaking the 80-million mark at the end of George W. Bush's presidency; and the 90-million mark in July 2013, during Barack Obama's second term. That number has continued to rise since then.
According to the Congressional Budget Office's 2015 long-term outlook, the number of working Americans is expected to increase more slowly in coming decades, as more workers exit the labor force, many of them retiring baby-boomers; and fewer workers enter it -- given declining birth rates and a levelling-off of women in the labor force.

In July, according to BLS, the nation’s civilian noninstitutional population, consisting of all people 16 or older who were not in the military or an institution, reached 250,876,000. Of those, 157,106,000 participated in the labor force by either holding a job or actively seeking one.
The 157,106,000 who participated in the labor force equaled only 62.6 percent of the 250,876,000 civilian noninstitutional population -- the same as it was in June.
Not since October 1977, when the participation rate dropped to 62.4, has the percentage been this low.
Other notes from Friday's jobs report:
-- The economy added an estimated 215,000 jobs in July, in line with economists' expectations, but not enough to change the nation's civilian unemploymet rate, which remained at 5.3 percent.
-- Among the major demographic groups, the unemployment rate for adult men (4.8 percent), adult women (4.9 percent), whites (4.6 percent), blacks (9.1 percent), Asians (4.0 percent), and Hispanics(6.8 percent) showed little or no change.
-- 6,325,000  million people were employed part time for economic reasons (involuntary part-time workers) in July, These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part-time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.
-- The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 2,180,000 in July (up from 2,121,000 in June). These individuals accounted for 26.9 percent of the unemployed.

Americans Not in Labor Force Exceed 93 Million for First Time; 62.7% Labor Force Participation Matches 37-Year Low

Americans Not in Labor Force Exceed 93 Million for First Time; 62.7% Labor Force Participation Matches 37-Year Low



(CNSNews.com) - The number of Americans 16 years and older who did not participate in the labor force--meaning they neither had a job nor actively sought one in the last four weeks--rose from 92,898,000 in February to 93,175,000 in March, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That is the first time the number of Americans out of the labor force has exceeded 93 million.
Also from February to March, the labor force participation rate dropped from 62.8 percent to 62.7 percent, matching a 37-year low.



Five times in the last twelve months, the participation rate has been as low as 62.8 percent; but March’s 62.7 percent, which matches the participation rate seen in September and December of 2014, is the lowest since February of 1978.


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BLS employment statistics are based on the civilian noninstitutional population, which consists of all people 16 or older who were not in the military or an institution such as a prison, mental hospital or nursing home.



In March, the civilian noninstitutional population was 250,080,000 according to BLS. Of that 250,080,000, 156,906,000 -- or 62.7 percent -- participated in the labor force, meaning they either had or job or had actively sought one in the last four weeks.



Of the 156,906,000 who did participate in the labor force, 148,331,000 had a job and 8,575,000 did not have a job but actively sought one. The 8,575,000 are the unemployed. They equaled 5.5 percent of the labor force—or the unemployment rate of 5.5 percent (which matched the unemployment rate seen in February 2015).
According to the BLS, the aging of the baby boom generation is a key factor affecting the labor force participation rate:
“The baby boomers’ exit from the prime-aged workforce and their movement into older age groups will lower the overall labor force participation rate, leading to a slowdown in the growth of the labor force,” explains the BLS.
"In 2000, baby boomers were aged 36 to 54 years and were in the group with the highest participation rates: the prime-aged group 25 to 54 years old. The participation rate for women in this group was 76.7 percent and for men was 91.6 percent, so that the overall participation rate of the group was 84.0 percent. The participation rate of the next-older age group, that 55 years and older, was 32.4 percent, so the difference between the two age groups was 52 percentage points. With the passage of every year after 2000, a segment of the baby-boomer population passes into the 55-years-and-older age group and thus moves from a group with a high participation rate in the labor force to an age category with a much lower particiption rate, causing the overall participation rate to decrease,” states BLS.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Avik Roy on Twitter: "Texas HS graduation rate up for seventh consecutive year, with rates for blacks and Hispanics at all time highs: http://t.co/dook7FHIDd"

Avik Roy on Twitter: "Texas HS graduation rate up for seventh consecutive year, with rates for blacks and Hispanics at all time highs: http://t.co/dook7FHIDd"

Nicolae Ceaușescu - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Nicolae Ceaușescu - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



Nicolae Ceaușescu (/ˌnkɔːˈl ˈʃɛsk/ nee-kaw-ly chow-shes-koo;[1] Romanian: [nikoˈla.e t͡ʃe̯a.uˈʃesku]; 26 January 1918[2] – 25 December 1989) was a RomanianCommunist politician. He was General Secretary of the Romanian Communist Party from 1965 to 1989, and as such was the country's second and last Communist leader. He was also the country's head of state from 1967 to 1989.
A member of the Romanian Communist youth movement, Ceaușescu rose up through the ranks of Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej's Socialist government and, upon the death of Gheorghiu-Dej in 1965, he succeeded to the leadership of Romania’s Communist Party as General Secretary.[3]
After a brief period of relatively moderate rule, Ceaușescu's regime became increasingly brutal and repressive. By some accounts, his rule was the most rigidly Stalinist in the Soviet bloc.[4] He maintained controls over speech and the media that were very strict even by Soviet-bloc standards, and internal dissent was not tolerated. His secret police, theSecuritate, was one of the most ubiquitous and brutal secret police forces in the world. In 1982, with the goal of paying off Romania's large foreign debt, Ceaușescu ordered the export of much of the country’s agricultural and industrial production. The resulting extreme shortages of food, fuel, energy, medicines, and other basic necessities drastically lowered living standards and intensified unrest. Ceaușescu's regime was also marked by an extensive and ubiquitous cult of personality, nationalism, a continuing deterioration in foreign relations even with the Soviet Union, and nepotism.
Ceaușescu’s regime collapsed after he ordered his security forces to fire on anti-government demonstrators in the city of Timișoara on 17 December 1989. The demonstrations spread to Bucharest and became known as the Romanian Revolution, which was the only violent removal of a Communist government in the course of therevolutions of 1989.[5] Ceaușescu and his wife, Elena, fled the capital in a helicopter but were captured by the armed forces. On 25 December the couple were hastily tried and convicted by a special military tribunal on charges of genocide and sabotage of the Romanian economy in an approximate one hour long court session.[6] Ceaușescu and his wife were then shot by a firing squad.[7]

Kevin D. Williamson on Twitter: "Venezuelan grocery store, now. http://t.co/HuMG0RUhRC"

Kevin D. Williamson on Twitter: "Venezuelan grocery store, now. http://t.co/HuMG0RUhRC"



Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Daily Intelligencer on Twitter: "Does Hillary Have a Women Problem? http://t.co/7olK1O2cQi"

Daily Intelligencer on Twitter: "Does Hillary Have a Women Problem? http://t.co/7olK1O2cQi"





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Finally, a Printer That Ends the Nightmare of Ink Refills | WIRED

Finally, a Printer That Ends the Nightmare of Ink Refills | WIRED



The five new EcoTank models range from $350 to $1,200 in price, depending on capacity and feature set, but even the most affordable version promises enough ink in its reservoirs to cover 4,000 black and 6,500 color pages before requiring a refill. This is an absurd amount of ink, unless you are home-printing an outrageously popular zine, and even then you should be pretty well covered.
The way the EcoTanks work is so delightfully simple, it’s almost—almost—as if the prevailing cartridge system exists solely to disadvantage the average consumer for the benefit of the handful of companies that dominate the world of printing hardware. Instead of shipping with a few small cartridges, the EcoTank comes with the equivalent of 20 cartridges worth of ink already onboard, in small tanks.

Finally, a Printer That Ends the Nightmare of Ink Refills | WIRED

Finally, a Printer That Ends the Nightmare of Ink Refills | WIRED



Yes, you pay more upfront, but you also end up paying far less in the long run, both in money and sanity. Refills cost $13 per bottle, or $52 per set of bottles, though again keep in mind that you won’t need to even think about those refills for literally years at a time. Relatedly, you’re far less likely to find yourself out of ink the one time you actually have an urgent printing need.

Arctic Sea Ice News and Analysis | Sea ice data updated daily with one-day lag

Arctic Sea Ice News and Analysis | Sea ice data updated daily with one-day lag



Arctic sea ice extent for June 2015 was the third lowest in the satellite record. June snow cover for the Northern Hemisphere was the second lowest on record. 



In contrast, Antarctic sea ice extent remained higher than average. The pace of sea ice loss was near average for the month of June, but persistently warm conditions and increased melting late in the month may have set the stage for rapid ice loss in the coming weeks. 










Monday, August 3, 2015

HP reveals more details about The Machine: Linux++ OS coming 2015, prototype in 2016 | ExtremeTech

HP reveals more details about The Machine: Linux++ OS coming 2015, prototype in 2016 | ExtremeTech



 It might be wise to take such schedules with a pinch of salt, though: Memristors have been The Next Big Thing at HP for years now.

HP reveals more details about The Machine: Linux++ OS coming 2015, prototype in 2016 | ExtremeTech

HP reveals more details about The Machine: Linux++ OS coming 2015, prototype in 2016 | ExtremeTech



The purpose behind The Machine is to create a new kind of computer that isn’t beholden to the rules and limitations that dictate the performance, power consumption, and form factor of current computers. While no one’s arguing that Intel hasn’t done some amazing work in keeping Moore’s law alive and kicking, it’s clear that the current computing paradigm of transistor-transistor logic, RAM, and miles of copper wire is drawing ever closer to a conclusion. HP hopes that by leveraging new technologies, such as memristors (pictured top) and silicon photonics (optical transistors and wiring), we can essentially hit a big Reset button, giving us another attempt at building computers that are super-fast but still very energy efficient.
memristor
It might not seem obvious, but by far the biggest hurdle that HP will have to vault issoftware. Yes, the hardware side of The Machine won’t be easy, but unless the software — the operating system, the libraries, the SDK, the developer toolchain — is in place, The Machine won’t be able to do anything. To that end, HP says it will be releasing Linux++ in June 2015. This will be a version of Linux that emulates the weird (memristor/photonic) hardware design of The Machine, so that developers can begin writing software for the new architecture. (Or at least begin the process of trying to get their heads around it, anyway.) Other tools will also be released alongside Linux++, though we have no further details at this point.

Small tilt in magnets makes them viable memory chips -- ScienceDaily

Small tilt in magnets makes them viable memory chips -- ScienceDaily



"To reduce the power draw and increase the speed, we want to be able to manufacture a computer chip that includes memory so that it is close to the computational action," said Salahuddin. "However, the physics needed to create long-term storage are not compatible with integrated circuits."
Creating and switching polarity in magnets without an external magnetic field has been a key focus in the field of spintronics. Generating a magnetic field takes power and space, which is why magnets have not yet been integrated onto computer chips.
Instead, there are separate systems for long-term magnetic memory. These include a computer's hard disk drive where data are stored, and the various kinds of random-access memory, or RAM, on the integrated circuits of the central processing unit, or CPU, where calculations and logic operations are performed.
A large portion of the energy used in computing is spent on transferring data from one type of memory to another. Doing that quickly takes more energy and generates more heat.
In past research, Salahuddin and his colleagues found that directing electrical current through the rare metal tantalum creates polarity in magnets without an external magnetic field. But the battle wasn't over.
Packing a sufficient number of nanomagnets onto a chip meant aligning them perpendicularly, but that vertical orientation negated the switching effects of tantalum.
"We found that by tilting the magnet -- just 2 degrees was enough -- you get all the benefits of a high-density magnetic switch without the need for an external magnetic field," said Salahuddin.

Why The U.S. Is the Next Greece: Doug Casey On America's Economic Problems | Zero Hedge

Why The U.S. Is the Next Greece: Doug Casey On America's Economic Problems | Zero Hedge

Small tilt in magnets makes them viable memory chips -- ScienceDaily

Small tilt in magnets makes them viable memory chips -- ScienceDaily



Small tilt in magnets makes them viable memory chips

Date:
August 3, 2015
Source:
University of California - Berkeley
Summary:
Engineers have found a new way to switch the polarization of nanomagnets without the need for an external magnetic field. The advance brings the semiconductor industry a major step closer to moving high-density storage from hard disks onto integrated circuits, and could soon lead to instant-on computers that operate with far greater speed and use significantly less power.

Barack Obama puts cronyism above cybersecurity | New York Post

Barack Obama puts cronyism above cybersecurity | New York Post



According to Becker’s Hospital Review, CVS Caremark’s retail clinic chain, MinuteClinic, is now adopting Epic’s system, and “when the transition is complete, about 51 percent of Americans will have an Epic record.”




General: The Army Is Breaking Down | The Weekly Standard

General: The Army Is Breaking Down | The Weekly Standard



And Scales, himself, can recall how just back from Vietnam, in the early 70s, he:
… carried a pistol to protect myself from my own soldiers. Many of the soldiers were on hard drugs. The barracks were racial battlegrounds pitting black against white. Again, the Army had broken because the sergeants were gone. By 1971, most were either dead, wounded or had voted with their feet to get away from such a devastated institution.
And now, writes Scales, 
After 13 years of war, young leaders are voting with their feet again. As sergeants and young officers depart, the institution is breaking for a third time in my lifetime. The personal tragedies that attended the collapse of a soldier’s spirit in past wars are with us again. Suicide, family abuse, alcohol and drug abuse are becoming increasingly more common.
Once again, the Army is breaking down.


General: The Army Is Breaking Down | The Weekly Standard

General: The Army Is Breaking Down | The Weekly Standard



It happened after World War II and it happened after Vietnam.  Now, after years of repeated deployments, the Army, as Robert H. Scales writes the U.S. Army is breaking down.
The Obama administration just announced a 40,000 reduction in the Army’s ranks. But the numbers don’t begin to tell the tale. Soldiers stay in the Army because they love to go into the field and train; Defense Secretary Ash Carter recently said that the Army will not have enough money for most soldiers to train above the squad level this year. Soldiers need to fight with new weapons; in the past four years, the Army has canceled 20 major programs, postponed 125 and restructured 124. The Army will not replace its Reagan-era tanks, infantry carriers, artillery and aircraft for at least a generation. Soldiers stay in the ranks because they serve in a unit ready for combat; fewer than a third of the Army’s combat brigades are combat-ready.
Scales knows of what he writes.  He is a retired Major General and former commandant of the U.S. Army War College.
And he can still recall how, when he was a boy, his father – who was an army officer – told him of the U.S. Army paid a price, in Korea, for being unprepared:
He told me how poorly his men were prepared for war. Many had been killed or captured by the North Koreans. During the retreat from the Yalu River, some of his soldiers were in such bad physical shape that they dropped exhausted along the road to wait to be taken captive.
“We have no sergeants, son,” he told me, shaking his head, “and without them we are no longer an Army.”

Charlie Chaplin and Joseph Stalin | National Review Online

Charlie Chaplin and Joseph Stalin | National Review Online



George Orwell once wrote of how the far Left could not separate art from politics: If an artist held the correct views, then the art had to be good. Orwell believed an artist could hold detestable opinions — as in the case of Ezra Pound — and still produce great art.



Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/417157/charlie-chaplins-favorite-dictator-ron-capshaw




ABC’s ‘Castle’ season 8 spoilers: Changes coming for Molly Quinn’s Alexis | CarterMatt.com

ABC’s ‘Castle’ season 8 spoilers: Changes coming for Molly Quinn’s Alexis | CarterMatt.com

Sleepy Hollow/Bones Crossover Planned for Next Season on Fox | Variety

Sleepy Hollow/Bones Crossover Planned for Next Season on Fox | Variety

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