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Mozilla CEO Out After Pressure from LBGT Supporters

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

brendan-eich

From the Mozilla Blog:

Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it. We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves.

We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.

Brendan Eich has chosen to step down from his role as CEO. He’s made this decision for Mozilla and our community.

Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech. Equality is necessary for meaningful speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality. Figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard…

…We have employees with a wide diversity of views. Our culture of openness extends to encouraging staff and community to share their beliefs and opinions in public. This is meant to distinguish Mozilla from most organizations and hold us to a higher standard. But this time we failed to listen, to engage, and to be guided by our community.

Apparently, the “wide diversity of views” doesn’t include support for traditional marriage. Eich, who helped found mozilla.org in 1988 and was appointed CEO last month, donated $1000 to California’s Prop 8 marriage ban in 2008. It should be noted until he evolved in 2012, President Obama also supported a ban on gay marriage, so Eich’s support for Prop 8 was not considered extreme, out-of-the mainstream, or bigoted by most Americans at the time he made his contribution.

Even Eich’s blog post vowing to embrace inclusiveness at Mozilla could not save his job:

You will see exemplary behavior from me toward everyone in our community, no matter who they are; and the same toward all those whom we hope will join, and for those who use our products. Mozilla’s inclusive health benefits policies will not regress in any way. And I will not tolerate behavior among community members that violates our Community Participation Guidelines or (for employees) our inclusive and non-discriminatory employment policies.

One commenter on a tech blog expressed the sentiments of many in the mob screaming for Eich’s head on a pike:

When a person progresses from talking about how gays are horrible and moves to working to actively take rights away or make them second class citizens in some legal sense then it ceases to become a freedom of speech issue.

A better way to express this sentiment is to say that free speech ends where the mob says it does. If you like your free speech you can keep it as long as you agree with the Dictators of Acceptable Speech. Allegiance to LGBT rights is quickly becoming a bona fide occupational qualification. It seems we are heading to a place where those with traditional views of marriage (still nearly half of Americans) will be relegated to the proverbial jobs no one else will do.

For now, we still have a First Amendment that (at least on paper) says the government shall make no law abridging free speech, though arguably, laws requiring disclosure of political contributions has that very effect. Going forward, many will be reluctant to support unpopular causes due to a fear of retribution by the de facto Ochlocracy now dictating what constitutes acceptable viewpoints.

One significant consequence of this and other high-tech lynchings is that we now know the marketplace is willing to sacrifice innovators like tech genius Eich on the altar of political correctness. Progress is now defined as agreement with an approved orthodoxy rather than the meritocracy of real, tangible innovation, invention, and technological advancement. That should concern all of us, regardless of our views on marriage or other contentious issues.

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What Will a 3D Printed Economy Look like?

Thursday, March 27th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

COTTAGE INDUSTRY

Greg Beato looks at the future of the 3d printed economy:

Imagine what will happen when millions of people start using the tools that produced The Liberator to make, copy, swap, barter, buy, and sell all the quotidian stuff with which they furnish their lives. Rest in peace, Bed, Bath & Beyond. Thanks for all the stuff, Foxconn, but we get our gadgets from Pirate Bay and MEGA now.

Once the retail and manufacturing carnage starts to scale, the government carnage will soon follow. How can it not, when only old people pay sales tax, fewer citizens obtain their incomes from traditional easy-to-tax jobs, and large corporate taxpayers start folding like daily newspapers? Without big business, big government can’t function.

It was called “starving the beast” when Ronald Reagan did it with tax cuts. What should we call it when big manufacturing becomes a cottage industry performed on the same scale as knitting a sweater for your cat?

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Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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Remain Calm and Continue Dancing

Monday, March 17th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

DANCING FOOLS

So if you ever wanted to get to the bottom of what’s wrong with kids these days, now you know.

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Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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The Spritz App: Now You Can Waste Time, Even Faster

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014 - by Hannah Sternberg

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Like all passionate readers, I sometimes feel anxious about the number of books I’ll never be able to read. A single lifetime is just a blip when you consider all the delicious literature out there, waiting to be consumed.

That was the first thing I thought of, after my mild horror subsided, when I heard about the new hyper-speed-reading app Spritz. Spritz promises reading speeds of over 500 words per minute; at its fastest, it can allow users to read the Bible cover to cover in 13 hours.

Why the mild horror? Well, it’s another byproduct of being a passionate reader: I’m torn between the desire to read as many books as possible, and the pleasure of lingering in each one. There’s no lingering in the magic of a scene at 500 words per minute.

This Atlantic article makes a great point that the app’s greatest utility may be sifting through the pages and pages of online articles many people feel socially and professionally obligated to read. If your goal is to be able to say you read it, that’s fine. Maybe eventually we’ll evolve to be able to comprehend at that speed, as well.

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Will Neil Young Usher In The Next Breakthrough In The Music Listening Experience?

Monday, March 10th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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The experience of listening to music has changed since I was a child. I’ve survived the 8-track era, as well as the decline and resurgence of vinyl. I had a Walkman so I could take my cassettes anywhere I wanted, and I’ve even had the CD version of the Walkman. The revolution of digital technology allows me to carry my entire collection of music on my iPhone, which is nice, since I don’t have a record player in my office.

Rocker Neil Young is promising the latest breakthrough in music technology with a new music player releasing this week. The PonoPlayer offers 128 GB of music storage (expandable with a memory card).

For those of you who speak audiophile, it’s reportedly made with zero-feedback circuitry and a digital filter that stops “unnatural pre-ringing”. Memory cards will be available for storing and playing additional collections of music.

PonoMusic is the device’s accompanying desktop-based “media management” system, which allows customers to download and sync music to player. They’ll reportedly offer “the finest quality, highest-resolution digital music from both major labels and prominent independent labels”. Their online store will also offer “PonoMusic recommended earbud and headphone products”.

The press release promises “studio master-quality digital music at the highest audio fidelity possible, bringing to life the true emotion and detail of the music, the way the artist recorded it.” Young himself has written, “Hearing Pono for the first time is like that first blast of daylight when you leave a movie theatre on a sun-filled day.” The players will be available for preorder through Kickstarter on March 12.

The questions remain: will customers go for a completely different music player in the era of Apple dominance? Will users go for the odd triangular design and small touch screen? Will digital music fans switch to the Pono Music store when they’re used to iTunes and Amazon mp3? I have a difficult time believing that anyone outside of hardcore audiophiles will go for the new technology – at least not until the price comes down.

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Do These 3 Things To Own Your Name on Google’s First Page

Saturday, March 8th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in February of 2013. It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months…

 

I may be a blogging pioneer, but I’m not otherwise technically savvy.

I’ve never played a video game or “texted.”

I don’t even own a cell phone.

But along with blogging, one “techy” thing I know a little about is SEO, or search engine optimization.

At least, I did until Google ran their Panda and Penguin algorithm updates , and changed lots of their rules (mostly for the better) to punish folks who’d been trying to game the search-engine system.

And when you think of what’s at stake, it’s easy to understand why some “black hat” SEO “gurus” are always seeking the elusive formula for algorithmic alchemy, to turn search engine results placement into literal gold.

After all, an estimated 90% of Google searchers never visit page two of their results; getting your company’s site into those precious ten “page one” results for a popular and lucrative search phrase like “San Diego real estate” can mean increased business.

As well, dominating that first page when potential employers, spouses, or malicious trolls google your first and last name is a vital part of online reputation management.

I’m not an expert, but I’ve learned a few things about how to own (or at least, easily “rent”) your name on Google’s first-page results.

There’s not much you can do about nasty sites or pages devoted to dissing you unless they are literally slanderous and you can get a lawyer to send the site owner a “take down” notice.

However, you can try to push down embarrassing or nasty stuff by “owning” your page-one Google results.

These tips aren’t “tricks” — everything I’m about to tell you are all “white hat,” non-controversial things you can do to start taking control of your online presence.

TIP: Before you google yourself, ALWAYS sign out of your Google account, clear your browser cache and, if possible, use a program like HideMyIP to choose a different IP address.

Doing all this will more closely replicate what a total stranger will see when they search for you.

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Radio Shack Shutting Down 26% Of Stores

Thursday, March 6th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

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Radio Shack will close “underperforming” stores — and lots of them:

The struggling consumer electronics retailer announced Tuesday that it plans to close up to 1,100 underperforming stores in the U.S., or about 26% of its current company-owned stores.

“Over the past few months, we have undertaken a comprehensive review of our portfolio from many angles — location, area demographics, lease life and financial performance — in order to consolidate our store base into fewer locations while maintaining a strong presence in each market,” RadioShack CEO Joseph Magnacca said in a statement. “The result of that review is our plan to close up to 1,100 underperforming stores. We will continue to have a strong, unmatched presence across the U.S. with over 4,000 stores including over 900 dealer franchise locations.”

There is (was?) (soon won’t be?) a Radio Shack in here my tiny bedroom town of Monument, CO. The last time I was in there was about three years ago, when I absolutely had to buy an overpriced audio cable right the heck then. And I didn’t recognize the place as anything like the Radio Shack I used to know. Or as Jim Dalrymple said, “the RadioShack I grew up with lost its soul.”

I was reminded of what happened to The Sharper Image. What was once a place to geek out on really cool, hard-to-find nerd toys became a purveyor of gimmicky plastic crap.

Such a shame.

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cross-posted from Vodkapundit

image via appleinsider.com

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Is House of Cards Conservative?

Thursday, March 6th, 2014 - by Andrew Klavan

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I have (if I do say so myself) a rather amusing piece on House of Cards up at the wonderful City Journal magazine. You should read it if for no other reason than to discover what is one of the best conservative outlets anywhere. It begins:

House of Cards, the Netflix series about a lethally unscrupulous Washington politician, is a wonderful show, but it does sometimes stretch the limits of credulity. I have no trouble believing that a Democratic congressman would push a reporter in front of a train, but the idea that anyone in the press would try to expose him for it is flat-out ridiculous. After all, Barack Obama has been pushing reporters under the bus for six years and nobody’s said a word. Ah, well. If the show gives leftist politicos nightmares about being held accountable for their actions by American journalists, they can simply keep repeating, “It’s only a movie, it’s only a movie.”

House of Cards does pose a more realistic threat to leftists, however: their 40-year monopoly on artistic political statements—and their tacit blacklist of anyone who tries to make opposing statements—may finally be coming to an end. House of Cards is not, as left-wing activist Randy Shaw wrote in a blithering and inattentive pieceon Huffington Post, a “Republican fantasy world,” but it is not pure leftist cant, either. And that in itself makes it something of a New Thing on the show-business landscape.

You can experience the wonder of the whole thing here.

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Cross-posted from Klavan on the Culture

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How Conservatives Can Conquer Hollywood

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

Dear Roger,

I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to disagree with two points from you piece last week, “How Conservatives Can Take Back (Some of) Hollywood for Oscar Time.” First, let’s take a look at where you place the goal posts for conservatives to aim:

But as you run your personal boycott of Hollywood, remember this. Almost everyone else you know — be it family, friends, business associates and, most especially, your children — is not. They are consuming Hollywood entertainment in mammoth gulps. And politics, as the late Andrew Breitbart said repeatedly (and he was far from the only one), is downstream of culture.

You give up Hollywood and you give up the country. Game over. And as we all know, it’s almost over already. Want that? Well, if you do, you can skip the rest of this article.

So… for those of you that are left… now more than ever is the time for conservatives and libertarians to take back at least some of the entertainment industry. Someone recently told me that Hollywood is like one of those football blowouts with a score of 90 for the liberals and 10 for the conservatives. We have to try to make it at least 70-30 (still a blowout, but there’s a glimmer of hope).

70-30? Come on. Settling for a pittance of the country’s entertainment industry is akin to aiming for a passing grade. Conservatives should proclaim bolder objectives with their efforts to enter the entertainment industry: to become billionaires and dominate the entire field through redefining it.

I’ve been studying and blogging on Walt Disney with Chris Queen here at PJ Lifestyle for over a year now to try to understand the secrets of his success. What did Disney do to make his name synonymous with a new art form? He innovated — a principle you as the co-founder of PJM know well. For Disney, his path — which is worth recounting visually since we can easily thanks to YouTube — made the first big splash with synched-sound cartoons in 1928:

Then Flowers and Trees, the first technicolor cartoon, in 1932:

Then Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first feature-length animated film, in 1937:

And after World War II then leaping to television and theme parks simultaneously, using one to support the other, with the Disneyland TV show in 1954:

Nowadays Disney’s TV and theme park divisions make much more money than the studio films. (BTW, from David P. Goldman, commenting on my Facebook: “Factoid: The market value of Disney Corp is larger than that of the whole Ukrainian stock exchange. So much for Marxists vs. Disney.”)

Conservatives should be looking to the future and to new mediums of entertainment. Humans are not going to amuse themselves by sitting around staring at screens forever. I still believe in the Breitbartian idea that the battle for the culture is more important than the fight over political ideology. Where I’ve changed is in realizing that there’s actually a force more important and powerful to affect and control. Culture is driven by technology. Movable type came before the Gutenberg Bible. Edison’s film camera came before Hollywood. The techniques of animation had to be discovered by Disney and his animators through years of experimenting with Silly Symphony and Mickey Mouse shorts before Snow White could be achieved.

So yeah, politics is downstream of culture. But technology has the power to carve the shape of the river itself.

And conservatives are even more behind when it comes to applying technology to winning elections. J. Christian Adams in the symposium last week spells out how now targeting the broad, mainstream culture isn’t even necessary for winning elections when it’s cheaper to churn out the base rather than work to persuade the undecideds:

Modern elections are all about energy. Energy wins. Period.

The left has developed an election data tool called Catalist. The GOP has no functioning counterpart.  This database allows leftist groups, the DNC, and the Obama campaign to activate the far left base in ways that were never before possible.

How do they do it?  They collect massive amounts of data about everybody.  What you read, what car you drive, what you said in a poll, everything. A consortium of leftist users pump data in, and a consortium of left-wing customers extract data.

The data about Democrat voters allow institutions to flip a switch and ensure a massive base vote.

So what does this have to do with Ted Cruz?

Democrats have realized that modern elections are won or lost by mobilizing the base, period.  Remember the treasured independent middle? Bah. Romney won them overwhelmingly but still lost the election.

The left swamped Romney using Catalist. Romney’s counterpart base mobilizer, “Orca,” crashed and burned on election day – literally. While Romney was spending one dollar to win one vote in the middle, Obama (using Catalist data) was spending a dime to get one vote in the base.

So the Romney campaign was doubly damned. They were outgunned technologically. But what were they shot with from all angles? Unrelenting images of Mitt the heartless corporate businessman, a symbol of the decadent 1%, lapped up by cultures and generations raised on the image of the evil executive. As I wrote about in the summer of 2012, “Why This Election Year America Is Carmela Soprano,” today people no longer know how to recognize good and evil in their leaders or entertainment. When Americans celebrate crooks at the movies they’ll surely vote them into office too.

How to counter this? What sorts of stories can get people to understand that evil actually often appears harmless or even noble to try to deceive you? With films of military tough guys fighting wars in lands most Americans can’t even locate on a map? I have another idea, and Sunday night’s Best Picture winner victory speech inspired me.

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Generation Like: Social Media and the Search for Validation

Friday, February 28th, 2014 - by Chris Yogerst

Think about how often you find a table at a restaurant with everyone looking at their smartphone instead of conversing. Technology certainly has its advantages, but something is clearly wrong with this picture. The concept of identity creates a different perception for everyone. In today’s culture, much of what constitutes a person’s identity may be channeled through social media. The problem is that some people put so much time into their digital profile that their real-world life suffers.

Undergraduate students in my mass communication class this semester have found one way to combat this. They turn going out to eat into a game where all cell phones are stacked at the end of the table. The first person to reach for his phone pays for the meal. Simple enough, but it gets at the heart of a larger concern. Are we struggling to keep our real lives as interesting as our digital ones?

This week, media scholar Douglas Rushkoff, along with PBS, released an excellent documentary called Generation Like. The film details how current teens create online identities and also shows how they are monetized. Some YouTube celebrities like Tyler Oakley have been able to turn social media followers into dollars. Other users remain simply nothing more than super fans content with millions of followers that justify their hours online. Teenagers today are the first generation to grow up with a fully digitalized culture, and we are seeing more signs of that every day in how they define themselves.

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Apple’s Hideous and Disturbing Steve Jobs Memorial Statue

Thursday, February 27th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Feast your eyes on how Apple hopes you remember its visionary founder, Steve Jobs.

jobs-statue

 

That thing is a scale- model of the winning design, which was selected from among 10,000 entries. Were they all this ugly?

It’s memorable, for whatever that’s worth. It’s also nothing like anything Jobs would have probably approved. He was all about clean design that made intuitive sense. That statue has Cyrillic letters sticking out of the side, because the designer is Serbian. Also, it has a tiny, pitted pinhead. It is basically a disturbing Pez dispenser, but without candy. The full-size 10 to 15 foot version will be built and stand outside Apple HQ in Cupertino, CA, where it will frighten children and impressionable adults for generations to come.

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Cross-posted from the PJ Tatler

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Big Laser Guns For the Navy!

Friday, February 21st, 2014 - by Stephen Green

A

Welcome to the Laser Navy:

The Navy plans to deploy its first laser on a ship later this year, and it intends to test an electromagnetic rail gun prototype aboard a vessel within two years.

For the Navy, it’s not so much about the whiz-bang technology as it is about the economics of such armaments. Both costs pennies on the dollar compared with missiles and smart bombs, and the weapons can be fired continuously, unlike missiles and bombs, which eventually run out.

“It fundamentally changes the way we fight,” said Capt. Mike Ziv, program manager for directed energy and electric weapon systems for the Naval Sea Systems Command.

The Navy’s laser technology has evolved to the point that a prototype to be deployed aboard the USS Ponce this summer can be operated by a single sailor, he said.

The solid-state Laser Weapon System is designed to target what the Navy describes as “asymmetrical threats.” Those include aerial drones, speed boats and swarm boats, all potential threats to warships in the Persian Gulf, where the Ponce, a floating staging base, is set to be deployed.

All that power in the hands of a single sailor. It’s not just a high-tech weapon, but fully deployed lasers and EM guns would reduce the Navy’s logistical needs by… well, by a lot.

Amazing stuff, but I won’t really be happy until Special Forces troops are issued lightsabers.

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Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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Flappy Bird Creator Has Right to Deny Fun

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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There was a time, not too many years ago, when I was up on all the latest games on any given platform. Nowadays, with a wife, two young sons, and several other responsibilities — not so much.

I never even tried the most recent smartphone craze, something called Flappy Bird. Now, I may never get the chance. IGN reports:

The creator of Flappy Birdpulled the game from the iOS App Store and Google Play because it’s become an “addictive product”.

In his first interview since he followed through on his threat to remove the game, 29-year-old Dong Nguyen told Forbes that he has no plans to bring it back.

“Flappy Bird was designed to play in a few minutes when you are relaxed,” he said. “But it happened to become an addictive product. I think it has become a problem. To solve that problem, it’s best to take down Flappy Bird. It’s gone forever.”

Ultimately, it was guilt that motivated his decision to pull the game. “My life has not been as comfortable as I was before,” he explained. “I couldn’t sleep. I don’t think it’s a mistake. I have thought it through.”

Thus Nguyen disposes of his intellectual property in a manner that would make John Galt proud. We can argue whether Flappy Bird was actually addictive or whether it caused real harm. Regardless, though many may enjoy the game Nguyen created, as its owner he retains sole discretion as to whether it should remain available.

The decision to yank a smartphone game from the market may not prove controversial. However, similar decisions made upon the same principle of ownership generate controversy all the time. The champions of antitrust law and consumer protection, along with critics of intellectual property, adhere religiously to that famous Vulcan maxim: “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.”

Think of all the smartphone users like me who will never get the opportunity to play Flappy Bird. Who’s looking out for us? Who does Nguyen think he is, robbing us of the fun we never knew we could have?

Of course, it was never ours to have in the first place. We played no role in its creation, and thus hold no claim upon its use. Wasn’t there another flappy bird, The Little Red Hen, who taught us this long ago?

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Slamming Torah: There’s an App for That

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg
heebsilverman

Sarah Silverman, Hipster Jew Goddess.

Last week the Forward covered a “trendy Jewish spoken word” happening in the trendy neighborhood of Park Slope in the trendy part of trendy New York City known as Brooklyn. If the E! network hasn’t made you wary enough of the word “trendy” this article surely should. Basically, it’s about a doctoral student and an app techie using grant funding to study what makes Judaism trendy with millennials. And if that doesn’t set off any alarm bells in your head, let me be very clear: the title “Sermon Slam” shouldn’t fool you. Despite the religious-themed location, if God was invited to join in the party it was to sit and be talked at, not about let alone with.

For those of you unfamiliar with Judaism or hip lingo: Instead of reading the Torah portion, and perhaps even the Haftarah portion, then wrestling with the meaning of the portion through a discussion involving comparative texts, the Sermon Slam for young adults involves attacking the weekly Torah portion with a style akin to a poetry slam – rough-edged spoken verse rooted in the performer’s emotions and personal (potentially uneducated) perspective:

“Spoken word poetry has become increasingly sexy. …When you synergize that with something that sounds boring, like a sermon… it’s an ancient tradition that we’re now embracing and making our own. It’s for the people, by the people. That feels exciting to those of us in our 20s and 30s.”

I’m far from Orthodox, in fact I don’t identify as a Rabbinic Jew (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, or Reconstructionist) at all. But this self aggrandizing hyperbole annoys me more than black hatters arguing over sleeve length ever could. Seriously, is Judaism so desperate for adherents that we’re getting grant funding to make the Torah “sexy”?

It gets worse. Apparently making the Torah “sexy” doesn’t involve actually reading the Torah as much as it involves creating a postmodern pastiche of Biblical words and pop culture lingo:

References to iPhones and to Facebook popped up in the same sentence as “Kiddush.” And the hallowed Hebrew names of God, “Adonai” and “Elohim,” were uttered in the same breath as “s–t.”

And now you know why I avoid obnoxious hipster Judaism like the plague. With its goddess worship of Sarah Silverman and Lena Dunham and its conversion of New York into the New Zion, this religion has nothing to do with God and Torah and everything to do with Judaizing the kind of liberal self help ethos already prolific within the New Age and Buddhist movements. What’s next for Sermon Slam, a Chopra-esque two-hour fundraising featurette on PBS?

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Bill Gates: No More Poor Countries by 2035

Friday, January 24th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

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Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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We Shouldn’t Fear a Robotic Future

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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There’s an old anecdote which tells that Milton Friedman visited a foreign country where workers were digging a canal with shovels. He asked an official why they weren’t using heavy machines, bulldozers or other earth movers. The official said the project was part of a jobs program. Friedman quipped that, if jobs were the goal, they ought to be digging with spoons.

The story has been retold many times, and the details vary. But the underlying principle remains the same. The object of production is value, not jobs.

As we contemplate the imminent advancement of robotics, and the capacity of machines to produce more of the value in our lives, the Friedman anecdote applies anew. MailOnline reports:

Experts are predicting a ‘jobocalypse’ as robots take over manual jobs, while scientists at Cambridge warn that machines should have their intelligence limited to stop them outsmarting us.

A new version of the movie RoboCop (out February 12) shows us a future where technology [revolutionizes] law enforcement, but that is just the tip of the iceberg for robotics.

‘I believe we are the inflection point where robotics are going to change everything you know and do,’ says Ben Way, author of Jobocalypse, a book about about the rise of the robots, told MailOnline.

He says everyone from bartenders to drivers are at risk.

‘They will have the impact to take away 70% of all traditional jobs in the next 30 years,’ he said.

That prospect seems less shocking when you place it into historical context, as I’ll explain on the next page.

For instance, if you went back in time to the dawn of the automobile and heard someone say 70% of jobs related to the care and distribution of horses would be gone in 30 years, would you freak? Of course not. Being from the future and such, you would understand that the loss of those jobs would pale in comparison to the increase in quality of life made possible by the new technology. You would also understand that the proliferation of automobiles would lead to the development of new jobs which those around you could scarcely imagine. If someone suggested that automobiles ought to be banned or that their development ought to be throttled in some way in order to preserve the horse industry, you would understand them to be a fool.

The same applies to robotics today. The only difference between scenarios is that we cannot see into the future. We cannot see what life will actually look like when robots dig our ditches, pour our drinks, and change our infants’ diapers. All we see are the “lost jobs.” We must imagine the higher quality of life and as of yet inconceivable jobs which will emerge in a society where so much can be done so cheaply.

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Republicans Are Still Clueless About Technology

Monday, January 13th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

2016 Presidential Survey  GOP.com

The RNC wants to know your favorite candidates for the 2016 presidential nomination and they’ve set up a handy straw poll on their website so you can make your views known. You can choose from a whopping thirty-two potential nominees including Rand Paul, Tea Party favorites Ted Cruz and Allen West, and a spate of undocumented Democrats establishment Republicans.

For the small price of your personal data (name, email address, zip code), you can vote for up to three candidates and then view the results…

Well, actually, no. For the small price of your data you are asked to make a donation and then you can view…

Still no.

Unlike the vast majority of polls of this sort where you’re asked for your opinion (and some of your data is mined), you don’t get to view the results. Apparently this is some top secret project of the RNC. Perhaps the outcome of the straw poll is known only to that stealthy RNC Chairman, Reince Priebus, who will at some future date enlighten the unwashed masses about who should really run for president.

One has to wonder how the decision-making process went with this straw poll. Did the RNC tech team not consider that site visitors would be annoyed at being tricked into handing over their data, only to discover that they wouldn’t be shown the results of the poll? Very poor form on the part of the RNC.

Of course, there could be a more cynical reason for this omission. The RNC may not want the public to view the results of the poll — it may burst the Christie bubble we’ve all been hearing so much about or may show that Republicans aren’t all that jazzed about the undocumented Democrats that the party would like to see win the nomination. After all, how awkward would it be if Jeb Bush went down to Ted Cruz or if Rob Portman lost badly to Allen West?

If you have any doubts that the RNC is after your data and your money and doesn’t give a hoot about your opinion, note that Ron Paul is included in the poll and that you can vote more than once.

While it won’t hurt anything to join the RNC’s mailing list, it will do little to help elect constitutional conservatives. A much better strategy is to identify good candidates and donate your time and talents directly to their campaigns.

And when Reince Priebus trots out the results of this straw poll in a few weeks, believe at your own risk.

2016 Presidential Survey  GOP2.com

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Hackers Take Down Major Gaming Servers As They Hunt Down Pro-Gamer

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013 - by Paula Bolyard
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[LANGUAGE WARNING]

James Varga, a 25-year-old professional gamer who goes by the screenname of PhantomLOrd, had quite an interesting day on Monday. What started out as a normal day (normal for a pro-gamer) would take a sudden turn into a dramatic cat-and-mouse game with the Derp hacker group and end with police and pizza delivery men swarming his L.A. area home.

James “PhantomL0rd” Varga gets paid to play video games — and apparently he’s quite good at them, including League of Legends, one of the most popular games on the internet. He often plays on Twitch.tv, a streaming service that allows gamers to share their experience live with others. According to Varga, he was achieving an unusually high score in League of Legends (LoL) on Monday when the server went down. He switched to another game with the same result. And then another. Eventually he figured out that the Derp hacking group was following him from game to game and not only knocking him off the sites, but also shutting down the games for all other players worldwide.

David Birti, a computer science student a Cedarville University, explained what happened:

Derp is a hacking collective that started out taking down small private game servers, but has recently moved on to much bigger targets. Starting on Monday, they claim to have taken down League of Legends and EVE Online (the two most-played games in the world), along with EA.com, Club Penguin, KCNA (a North Korean news agency), World of Tanks, Guild Wars 2, a private high school’s website, Runescape, and a Westboro Baptist Church site; all of this was done “for the lulz” (just for fun).

They accomplished this using a distributed denial of service attack (DDOS), which can take down servers for short periods of time by flooding them with nonsense traffic. This is usually accomplished with a botnet, which is a group of normal computers that are under the attacker’s control (usually via a virus). Since there are so many computers contributing to the flood, blocking all of them is infeasible. The larger a target is, the larger a botnet needs to be to take it down. And judging from the high-profile targets they’ve taken out, their botnet is undoubtedly very large.

Throughout the DDOS attacks Varga made several attempts to contact Derp representatives through online chat rooms. At one point Varga said, “The whole server is depending on us winning this game.” Reddit documented the entire drama, including screenshots of the chats. At one point Varga’s personal information was posted on the gaming sites — called DOXing — and pizzas started to arrive at his house.

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2 Turtle Doves: A Gift Guide for the Tech-Savvy

Monday, December 23rd, 2013 - by Becky Graebner

Today is Monday, December 23, 2013.  If we were having a literal countdown of the “Twelve days of Christmas” song, we would receive “two turtle doves” today.

There are only two days until Christmas!

Here is a gift guide for the people on your list who love electronics and gadgets.

61lYpytqmXL._SL1500_Audio:

Bose:  QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones

The best way to hear your music—without any interference.

HDMX: Classic Bluetooth Wireless Speaker

Connect this handy speaker to your Bluetooth-enabled device whenever you want to listen to music–at home, at work, and even on the beach!

full_GoPro_HD_Hero_3_357728Cameras:

Canon: Canon PowerShot A2500 16 MP Digital Camera

This camera’s 2.7-in LCD screen makes photo and video review/playback clear and easy.

GoPro: GoPro HERO3+ Black Edition

A tough, waterproof camera that allows even the most active owners to document their adventures.

Gadgets for the Car:

Belkin: 2-Port Car Charger with Lightning to USB Cable for iPhone 5/5S/iPod touch/iPod nano/iPad/iPad mini

This charger fits into any car power outlet and will charge two devices at once.

Garmin: Garmin Nüvi

Never get lost again.

Kids:

Leapfrog: LeapPad2 Power Learning Tablet

Over 800+ games, videos, and eBooks that are appropriate for kids.

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Phone:

OtterBox: Commuter Series Case for Samsung Galaxy S III

A durable case that will keep your S3 safe!

 

 

 

61URCnA-MtL._SL1500_Photos:

NIX Digital: 8 in Hi-Res Digital Photo Frame with Motion Sensor

All your photos in one place.

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New Mac Pro Goes on Sale Tomorrow

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013 - by Stephen Green

PRO

My 2009 Mac Pro is still running fine and fast, and I really have no need for the absurd power of the new Mac Pro.

But my Amex feels itchy, anyway.

Replacing the massive 47-pound milled aluminum tower under the desk with a small, sleek, and nearly silent cylinder which would fit comfortably and stylishly next to the Drobo on top of the desk?

The gotta-have-it-factor is out of this world for a workstation.

Want!

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Get Off the Phone!

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013 - by Paula Bolyard

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If you have a phone that’s equipped with a camera, you’ve likely noticed how easy it is to lapse into observing life vicariously, through the lenses of our cameras, instead of truly savoring the moment. Afterward, we regret that we were passive observers and we didn’t fully immerse ourselves in the experience. Be honest, who hasn’t let their food get cold while they scrolled through Instagram filters or “staged” the corned beef sandwich in an attempt to share the goodness with friends and family on Facebook? Even if  you have decided to eschew participating in this Brave New World of head-nodders milling about, you will find yourself accosted on all sides by serial selfie-snappers at family events, restaurants — even at funerals!

In a new video, Buick teams up with “intertainers” Rhett and Link, asking us to take a step back to evaluate our relationships with our phones through the parody song, Get Off the Phone:

Get off the phone now!
It’s gonna be okay
There’s no need to be afraid.
It doesn’t love you
Its gonna die one day.
The government is probably
Spying on you with it anyway.

Rhett and Link’s song, and the accompanying #IntheMoment campaign, turns the camera lens back on those of us with our heads buried in our smart phones — those of us watching virtual life on four-inch monitors while the real world transpires around us — sometimes without us. In one scene, a young dad is shown missing his son’s first taste of birthday cake as he’s busy Facebooking — about his son’s birthday. This hits a little too close to home for some of us.

There’s something tangentially related to a Buick in the ad/PSA/parody (Rhett and Link drive a Buick Regal in the video), but it’s mostly a secondary, subliminal message. As we continue down this road of smart technology and on to Google glass and whatever the Silicon Valley geniuses think up next, Buick asks us to consider some boundaries going forward. Technology shapes us — the way we work, play, and relate to one another as human beings. It’s important to pause now to consider how our increased dependence on technology wreaks existential changes to our relationships and our daily lives.

Should we dial it back at this point? Is that even possible or have we crossed the technological rubicon from which there is no return?

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Red Star on the Moon

Monday, December 16th, 2013 - by Rick Moran

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China has become the third nation to land a spacecraft on the moon. It was the first soft landing of a probe on the moon in nearly 40 years.

NBC News:

The achievement marked the next stage in an ambitious space program that aims to eventually put a Chinese astronaut on the moon.

The unmanned Chang’e 3 lander, named after a mythical Chinese goddess of the moon, touched down on Earth’s nearest neighbor following a 12-minute landing process.

The probe carried a six-wheeled moon rover called Yutu, or “Jade Rabbit,” the goddess’ pet in the myth. Within hours of its landing on a fairly flat, Earth-facing part of the moon, the rover was slated to separate from the Chang’e lander and embark on a three-month scientific exploration.

The achievement marked the next stage in an ambitious space program that aims to eventually put a Chinese astronaut on the moon.

The unmanned Chang’e 3 lander, named after a mythical Chinese goddess of the moon, touched down on Earth’s nearest neighbor following a 12-minute landing process.

The probe carried a six-wheeled moon rover called Yutu, or “Jade Rabbit,” the goddess’ pet in the myth. Within hours of its landing on a fairly flat, Earth-facing part of the moon, the rover was slated to separate from the Chang’e lander and embark on a three-month scientific exploration.

China’s military-backed space program has made methodical progress in a relatively short time, although it lags far behind the United States and Russia in technology and experience.

China sent its first astronaut into space in 2003, becoming the third nation after Russia and the United States to achieve manned space travel independently. In 2007, it sent its first probe to the moon, named Chang’e 1. A follow-up mission, called Chang’e 2, was launched to study the moon in 2010, and then left lunar orbit to make a close flyby of the asteroid Toutatis in 2012.

China plans to open a space station around 2020 and send an astronaut to the moon after that.

Space entrepreneur Dennis Wingo sees more to the Chinese space program than mere nationalistic pride:

China is spending billions on resource acquisition in Africa, South America and other places around the world,” he told FoxNews.com. “If you look at the design of their system for this mission, it is very much a mineral prospector as much as a science mission.”

The strong possibility that there is water on the moon in the form of near-crystallized ice located in craters at the lunar poles opens up exciting possibilities for permanent mining operations on earth’s satellite. Water is not only vital for cooling machinery and drinking, it’s oxygen molecules can be separated to make breathable air. The hydrogen can be extracted and when combined with small amounts of other elements, an efficient fuel for rockets, vehicles, and machinery — methane — can be created.

In short, any viable, self-sustaining mining colony can be profitable if water ice existing on the moon can be tapped and the resource exploited. China is going to have a head start on private US companies who also have been eying the moon for its minerals.

NASA is not going back to the moon, which is as it should be. From here on out, the space “race” is for those who seek to gather the riches that can be found out there. Our government has no interest in joining this race, and NASA is better suited to helping facilitate the private space industry’s development of hardware that will assist us in the commercial exploitation of resources on the moon and elsewhere.

*******

Cross-posted from the PJ Tatler

image illustration courtesy shutterstock / Bruce Rolff

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Another Blow for the Chevy Volt

Saturday, December 7th, 2013 - by Ed Driscoll

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“Chevy Volt doesn’t make 2014 list of fuel economy leaders,” the Washington Examiner reports:

The Department of Energy released its 2014 fuel economy guide, complete with a list of fuel economy leaders, and yet again, the Volt didn’t make the list.

In fact, the Volt — a compact car — doesn’t even perform as well by most metrics as some midsize plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, according to the guide.

The Volt gets 37 combined mpg (35 mpg city, 40 mpg highway) using premium gasoline. That’s better than most non plug-in vehicles, for sure. But compare that to the Honda Accord plug-in hybrid, which gets 46 combined miles on gasoline — with no mention of it being premium — and 47 mpg in the city and 46 mpg on the highway. Or the Toyota Prius, which gets 50 mpg combined (51 mpg city, 49 mpg highway).

With a starting price of $34,185 (before the $7,500 tax credit, $26,685 if you get the full credit), the Volt isn’t exactly cheap. Compare that to the Prius, which outperforms the Volt on most measures and has a starting price of $29,990 before the tax credit.

The Volt has a range of 344 miles with premium gasoline. Compared to the Ford Fusion plug-in (602 miles with regular gasoline), the Accord plug-in (561 miles with regular gasoline) and the Prius (530 miles with regular gasoline), and the Volt falls further behind.

Perhaps the Government Motors vehicle simply isn’t as hot as it seemed when it was first envisioned — on the other hand, it can on occasion, get too hot for the wrong reasons. If so, here’s news you can use from car blog, Jalopnik: “What To Do When Your Electric Car Catches On Fire: An Explainer.”

On the other hand, perhaps this California proposal might light up Chevy Volts — or at least their sales:

One longtime critic of federal transportation spending once concluded that it would be less expensive for the government to buy every new transit rider a Jaguar XJ8 than it would be to build certain new rail systems. Unfortunately, California officials may not have realized that the idea of buying people new cars wasn’t a serious proposal as much as a way to illustrate a point about excessive spending.

The California Air Resources Board is now embarking on a program that would help poor people buy energy-efficient vehicles. In one scenario posed by the agency, a “voucher” might even pay the full price for a Nissan Leaf, an electric car with an MSRP above $21,000, or for used cars with lower price tags.

Perhaps the state could even design a low-cost “people’s car” for the masses…

*****

Cross-posted from Ed Driscoll’s blog

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Are Republicans Sabotaging Obamacare with Fraudulent Websites?

Friday, December 6th, 2013 - by Paula Bolyard

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Here’s the latest chapter in The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.

According to Forward Progressives:

There’s a saying that goes, “If you can’t win, cheat like hell” and it’s apparently the motto that the GOP has taken to heart across the country in their latest attempts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act.

What does their newest attempt involve? Creating fake websites with misinformation that look like state insurance exchanges in order to confuse consumers trying to find out what their new insurance options are under Obamacare.

Forward Progressives cites three websites recently shut down by the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office, including kynect101.com, which, according to the Kentucky AG, was “deceptively similar to kynect.ky.gov, Kentucky’s official health insurance exchange website….[S]ome consumers attempting to locate the site through search engines were being deceptively steered to the kynect101.com website instead of kynect.ky.gov, where they were provided false information about their options under the federal Affordable Care Act, including being informed that there were no plans with federal subsidies available to offset a portion of their insurance premiums.”

In a conspiratorial whisper, Forward Progressives blames Republicans. And what passes for proof with this crowd?

“f you were running a sabotage campaign, why not run it in a state with a fully functional health insurance exchange site and (not coincidentally) a GOP Senator who is facing a battle for re-election both from Democrats as well as from within his own party?

So apparently, as this conspiracy theory goes (if I’m following it correctly), because Kentucky is operating one of the only (mostly) functioning state exchanges in the country, Republicans, wishing to protect Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s immense Power to Control Everything have been running around creating bogus websites that would not only give Kentucky residents misinformation about their insurance options under the exchanges, but would also potentially leave their personal data in the hands of hackers. (Which, thank goodness, is totally unlike the actual Democrat-created marketplace website that gives Americans misinformation about their insurance options and leaves their personal data in the hands of hackers.) And Republicans have been doing this “across the country” according to Forward Progressives.

And you thought Bush Derangement Syndrome was bad? Progressives, usually content to wait a few years to start their revisionist history, are now revising on the fly. In their alternative reality, they’ve found a way to blame Republicans for (arguably) the most epic website failure in the history of the internet.

[Note to Sen. McConnell’s campaign: After the site was banned by the Kentucky AG, http://kynect101.com is once again available on Go Daddy for the low, low price of $69.99 plus commission.]

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