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Equality Under the Law: Credit Where it is Due

 

This is not a long, boring legal post. It is instead, a very simple assertion that I think is broadly ignored by those interested in the history of jurisprudence and the foundations of a good (which is to say “classically liberal”) society. And here it is:

The idea of equality under the law comes solely from the Torah, and its repeated commandments that there is one law for both the Jewish people and any strangers. There is no exclusion of the “other”, and no separate rules for nobility, citizens, slaves or barbarians.

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The Clinton Foundation and the ‘Deep State’

 

In my line of work, I take great interest in investigations by law enforcement. Especially that of our federal government’s law enforcement. This is headed by the Department of Justice and specifically by the Attorney General of the United States. This position has been described as America’s Top Cop. You naturally want to think of this function as possessing the highest of integrity and being one hundred percent apolitical.

Boy, has the past couple of years been eye opening or what?! The DOJ, FBI, DHS, DNI, DNS and CIA have not only revealed themselves as extremely partisan, they have been going public about it in the most abasing way. Book tours?! Embarrassing, if you ask me. You would think your average ‘G man’ would scrupulously guard their secrecy, personal privacy and be ultra low-key. I know I do. But I digress.

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TSA Examining a Potential Terrorist

 

I realize that terrorists come in many shapes and sizes, or have been adept at donning disguises that have fooled many, but common sense should tell you that this young shoeless boy in shorts and in lightweight t-shirt does not present a threat to America, the airlines, or our transportation infrastructure, and doesn’t require that his crotch be felt twice on each side of his testicles.

For whatever reason, TSA has determined that he very well could pose a threat and so the very thorough and probing feel-up. I’m sure TSA will fall back on an explanation that some passenger examinations are conducted on random travelers … so as to keep terrorists guessing. I also realize that highlighting this video by sharing it on social media puts me at risk for a similar examination the next time I travel and possibly to be placed on a list of those that our national security apparatuses should monitor very closely.

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Happy Purim!

 

Purim starts Wednesday night – it is easily the oddest Jewish festival. One of our merry quartet composed new music to the traditional poem, creating  a fun ditty, in 4 part harmony, which we recorded this week. I admit that I probably enjoyed doing the video more than I should have – looking ridiculous is a key part of Purim.

You can get an idea of the sense of whimsy and irony when you consider the video and its meaning together.

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Are Nigerian Christian Lives Not Worth Mentioning?

 

I couldn’t even find a mention of what is going on in Nigeria to the Christians there on any of the mainstream media websites. I am fascinated that a lone gunman kills worshipers at a mosque in New Zealand and there is a national conversation about violence against Muslims in the United States. But the premeditated hunting of Christians in Nigeria isn’t even worth a blurb? I typed in “Nigeria” at the CNN website and the first thing that came up was “Greta Thunberg inspires global climate protest.”

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An Unsung Hero of the Theranos Saga: Rupert Murdoch

 

Last night HBO aired a new documentary about the Theranos scandal. Couple this with one of the most popular podcasts of all time and a best-selling book (one of the best I read last year, I highly recommend it), it’s clear that Americans can’t get enough of the story.

From the book jacket, here’s a cliff-notes version of the tale:

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Corporations as Nations

 

Science fiction often predicts future technologies, quandaries, or at least identifies a general direction of development. These days, the genre is most often associated with off-Earth adventures, artificial intelligence, and robotics. Another common theme has elicited fewer comparisons to reality in mainstream press: government by mega-corporations.

We limited-government conservatives and libertarians recognize the problems and dangers of regulatory capture. We know that over-regulation of industries can lead to revolving doors and cozy deals that give the largest corporations unjust advantages over smaller companies.

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SCOTUS Backs Trump on Immigration Issue

 

The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that federal officials can detain immigrants at any time for possible deportation after they have served their time in the US for other crimes. The 5-4 decision reversed the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which said officials have to detain these immigrants immediately or they are exempt from ever being detained.

This ruling had the classic conservative-liberal split, with Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Roberts, and Thomas siding with Trump in the majority. Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan dissented.

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Transgender Curriculum for Kindergarten

 

Our schools have been corrupted in many ways that are difficult to fathom: U.S. History has been distorted, English composition has been bastardized, standards continue to be lowered to accommodate the worst students. And now we are brainwashing students as early as kindergarten, saying that transgender students are normal. How did we arrive at this place?

We often point to the Leftist agenda for these changes in education. Just to give you an idea of how sophisticated these efforts are, we can look at Washington State, where the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has established new requirements. This summary gives you the highlights, from K-12. In the case of the OSPI, parents were not notified of these changes.

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Uncommon Knowledge: Jason Riley On “False Black Power?”

 

What is “false black power?” According to Jason Riley, author of False Black Power?, it is political clout, whereas true black power is human capital and culture. Riley and I dive into the arguments in Riley’s new book, the history of African Americans in the United States, and welfare inequality in black communities.

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Unexpected Gifts: I Got A B+ In English

 

Toward the end of my senior year in high school, I was riding pretty high. I’d gotten into the college I wanted to accept me. Grades were good, sports were complete (I hadn’t played a spring sport so that I could have a little me time as I closed out my high school career). My parents were happy that I was headed in the right direction and not determined to become a derelict (which they weren’t so certain of, a few short years before). I achieved a high enough score on my AP exams that I’d be able to skip a couple of courses in a school with a notoriously inflexible first-year syllabus. Skipping those classes would give me some academic flexibility in the out-years. Too, I’d gotten a 5 on the AP English exam, which had been my favorite class that year. English was always my favorite class, for three reasons.

I grew up without television, which meant my choice was books or nada. So my brother and I read books voraciously.

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A Return to Economic Liberty

 

Earlier this month, I delivered the opening address to the Federalist Society’s National Student Symposium dedicated this year to the topic of the “Resurgence of Economic Liberty.” Economic liberty refers to the ability of individuals to sell their goods and services, or to buy goods and services from others, on whatever terms and conditions they choose. This regime of freedom of contract assumes that voluntary trade is mutually beneficial, and that its externalities are typically positive: the increased wealth and happiness of the trading partners increases the opportunities for trade for others. The theory of economic liberty does not allow the threat or use of force. Nor does the theory tolerate acts of monopolization. At the peak of laissez-faire, both of these practices were rigidly prohibited. Notably, both the antitrust law and the law of rate regulation were appropriately part of the laissez-faire system.

Economic liberty was constitutionally protected until the New Deal. One major landmark of that period was Lochner v. New Yorkthe now much-reviled 1905 Supreme Court decision that struck down a New York law that limited the hours employees in some bakeries could work to ten hours per day and no more than sixty hours per week. The court held that the law did not protect the “health or safety, morals or general welfare” of the employers and employees, and infringed on their economic liberties, which were protected by the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

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Unrealized Dreams

 

I walk slowly, leaning forward, as I approach the cabin. It sits in a clearing, where there are just enough trees to frame it, and few enough to allow the sun to regularly touch its natural beauty. As I get to the front door, I pause, unlock it and push the door open.

As I step inside, the smell of wood greets me. I look around to admire its simplicity and intimacy. On the left is a settee adjacent to one comfortable chair, my favorite, where I curl up to read. Farther back in the room is a doorway that leads to my small bedroom with enough room for a bed, a side table piled with books and a shelf with trinkets from my travels. I glance against the back wall, and there is a basic bathroom, and then to the right, a kitchen with a miniature refrigerator. A wood-burning stove rests on a platform near the south wall, with a stack of wood ready to be consumed. Colorful curtains of an olden style grace the windows; they are usually open, but closed at night to keep out the cold winter nights. And a large woven rug rests in the center of the room.

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Don’t Let Terrorists Ruin the Internet

 

As of late Friday, it was still incredibly easy to access video of the New Zealand terror attack. Only a bit of searching found it still available on Facebook, where the massacre was first live-streamed before going viral on other social media platforms such as Twitter and YouTube. The gunman wanted amplification, and he got it. It was even easier to find the shooter’s rant, infused with white supremacy and deep familiarity with the online world and associated subcultures.

Not that tech companies aren’t trying to counter it. Indeed, they have every incentive to — both in the name of human decency and as companies already under tremendous pressure for inadequate content moderation. But a fast as the videos are pulled down, they are reuploaded. The platforms, despite cutting-edge AI and thousands of human moderators, are again proving “no match for the speed of their users; new artificial-intelligence tools created to scrub such platforms of terrorist content could not defeat human cunning and impulse to gawk,” writes Charlie Warzel in The New York Times.

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Jeb Miffed There’s No Bush as Prez

 

Jeb Bush thought America should have three consecutive Republican Presidents from the same immediate family. Think about that.

In his “defense,” he may have known, either consciously or unconsciously, that if nominated, he would lose. I’m not ruling that out as a possibility seeing him and his family in light of transpired events.

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If I’m Ever Arrested, I Hope It’s For Something Like This

 

I’m 64 years old. I’ve never been much of a drinker, but I’ll cop to having been a bit sloshed a few times in my life, most of them in the distant past. As I get older though, the stuff has more of an effect on me, which is why it’s probably a good thing that I don’t imbibe all that often. Because I do like the taste of good Scotch, and fine Rye. Usually, when I have a nightcap, I’m at home, and I follow it shortly thereafter by making a beeline for bed, where I enjoy a good night’s sleep and wake up none the worse for wear. If I’m out somewhere, I try not to make too much of an [expletive] of myself, and if worst comes to worst, I trust to kind and discreet friends to look after me and see me home. So far so good. Mostly.

But when I saw this story on one of the websites I peruse occasionally in pursuit of “good news” stories, or funny news clips, I laughed out loud: Drunk Woman With Suitcase Full of Cats Arrested in Stafford.

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How to Build a Computer 29: Electron Microscopy

 

For the next couple of posts, we’ll be sauntering through the science of measurement. To put it simply, computer bits are really, really small. So as you wander through the world of building them how do you know you’ve made the thing right? Well, let’s start simple. You can just look at ’em. I could go on a great big tear about optical microscopy which is still an important subject, and relevant. The problem with it is that I just don’t find the subject very interesting. Still, you get some neat images.

This is my fingerprint, photographed on the background of one of them hard drive platters I ripped out of that drive in the video. FBI please ignore.

To understand why you need the electron microscope it helps to spend some time with an optical microscope. The majority of the time I spent looking at parts I spent looking through an optical microscope, not on the SEM. Largely because Chem Lab owned the SEM, and they get all fidgety when someone else touches their stuff. Briefly though, I think I can demonstrate the usefulness of an electron microscope with two images.

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St. Patrick and the Decline of Christendom for Drink and Money

 
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Gaming the System

 

This past week, we were treated to a phenomenal story about lawnmower parents illegally gaming the various mechanisms necessary to achieve entrance to the college of their dreams. This isn’t a story about that. This is a story about those who successfully (and legally) gamed the system.

In the middle of the 1990s (about 1996), the USAF held a promotion board to decide which Captains should be promoted to Major. These promotion boards are generally held annually and include Captains who have been previously passed over for Major. In an amazing development, hundreds of Air Force pilots wrote the promotion board to ask to not be promoted.

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My Conservatism Ruined My Career as an Entrepreneur

 

When I moved from Compton, California, to Eugene, Oregon, in 1961 to attend the University of Oregon, I thought I had found the city of my dreams.

My hometown of Compton (”Straight Outta”) was an ugly piece of work even back then. It was a city of used car lots, a slum area or two, some tough muthers roaming the streets, and bars on the windows of the downtown stores.

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Unexpected Gifts – Sons

 

Today is my middle son’s 33rd birthday, the one I call Pipeliner because he is a pipeline engineer. I have three sons, born four and a half years apart. All of them are unexpected gifts. They were not unexpected in the sense of their arrival, we wanted all three. Rather, the unexpected gifts are the delightful surprises all three have provided.

My oldest is a genius, literally, he tested as such (it runs in the family, my two brothers are geniuses. I am not. That makes me the dumb one in the family.) He is even smart enough to understand the limitations of genius. (Too many smart people treat genius the way a bandit treats a firearm. They act as if all you have to do is wave it around and you get what you want, even when you do not use it.) It was an unexpected gift to have someone with whom I could engage intellectually over the dinner table.

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