Thursday, June 6, 2013

Who is Carter Hull? (Hint: IRS lawyer overseeing targeting) ^ | 6/6/2013 | Carol Platt Liebau 

Last night, the Wall Street Journal reported on transcripts of congressional interviews with IRS employees. In them, the name "Carter Hull" -- an IRS lawyer in Washington -- surfaces as someone in DC who oversaw the targeting in Ohio and even suggested some of the questions used to harass conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Here is a technical instruction document Hull co-authored, and his name appears as the author of articles and e-books on tax matters. Here is his Facebook page.
He is a graduate of a private Quaker school -- and I would guess from his age and his attendance at a private boarding/day school that he attended boarding school back in an era when that experience was largely reserved for young people from fairly affluent circumstances.
This is also a person obviously of some experience and knowledge with the tax law, who would have clearly known the targeting operation was wrong.
No doubt we will all be learning more about Mr. Hull soon.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

9 reasons why the 4-year old US economic recovery is closer to awful than awesome!

AEI ^ | 5 June 2013 | James Pethokoukis 

Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank provides Exhibit A of New Normal thinking:
Now, after a long economic winter, green shoots are everywhere: The stock market is booming, housing prices are rebounding and mortgage providers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, long demonized by Republicans, are returning profits to the Treasury. Job growth has accelerated and consumer confidence has reached its highest level in almost six years. Health-care cost increases are slowing, Medicare’s prospects are improving — in part because of President Obama’s health-care reforms — and gasoline prices are forecast to decline. Long-term fiscal problems remain, but the federal deficit is shrinking, putting off Washington’s debt-ceiling standoff until late fall .
And thus, Milbank concludes, 2013 Republicans are in the same pickle at those in 1999, complaining about White House scandals (Lewinsky them, IRS now) as the economy booms. Except the economy is nowhere near booming, not even at Bush levels much less Clinton levels. At National Review Online, I ticked over a slew of reasons why as we begin the fifth year of the economic recovery, things should be much better:

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Decline of civilization expressed in decline of appropriate dress!

 by fwdude

This weekend, I will be attending the high school graduation of a young relative, as tens of thousands of others likely will as well. Though these events are a dime a dozen, and a high school graduation doesn't seem to carry the weight of importance that it once did, it seems appropriate to regard the attendance of such an event as a special occasion, special enough to don at least a clean shirt and pants without holes.
But what I expect to see will probably be trumped by even what I've witnessed in past years - people wearing shorts, theme t-shirts, muscle shirts, holey jeans, and flip-flops. At a graduation. Even at college graduations.
What I've noticed over the past several decades is a drastic trend toward an anything-goes attitude toward dress. The last time this drastic a shift seems to have occurred is in the late sixties, when the hippie, commune-living attitude made inroads into society and youth wore whatever they pleased, wherever they pleased, if anything at all.
Today, I see church-goers wear what look like pajamas, short shorts, tube tops, muscle shirts and worse. It's almost like they're defying the traditional "rules." And not only congregants, but pastors and participants seem to be in a contest to see who can dress down the most radically, usually by those who want to be "relevant" to today's youth. (See Ed Young as an example.) I attended a wedding - A WEDDING!!! - several years ago and with very few exceptions, the only people wearing a tie or dress were the marrying couple. Most wore golf shirts, "nice" jeans and tennis shoes. I (wearing my suit) was almost speechless.
Today, there seems to be no venue, no ceremony, no establishment, where manner of dress is any longer important at all. And I see this attitude as directly related to, and caused by, the voracious consumption of society by the rabid, morally-anarchist secularists. Children used to aspire to wear what grownups wore - in Great Britain, young boys were only allowed to wear shorts as appropriate, slacks being a man's attire, and were only allowed to wear such upon attaining "the King's commission." Now, adults seem to want to emulate children, with sagging waistbands, "bling," tatoos and hyper-oversized pants that can't seem to decide if they're shorts or not shorts.
My question is this: is there ANY event or occasion when it is appropriate to dress in other than ordinary, daily apparel, without undue coercion? Or, put another way, is there any occasion when daily, casual wear is inappropriate?
I can already hear the rebuttals by cultural relativists: "but every era has its trends which fly in the face of tradition!" True, but there were still differences in the manner of dress according to occasion. Now, there appear to be none whatsoever. A standardless society when appearances are concerned. Once, even the poorest farmer owned at least one suit, a tie, and a good pair of dress shoes. Everyone was expected to have the ability to look presentable at the most elegant occasion, and all but the poorest (by real poor standards of the day, not today's "opulent poor") could satisfy this minimal standard. Today, I know scores of people who own not one suit, tie, or dress shirt.
I truly believe this attitude mirrors the standardless "morals" we are seeing sweep across every institution which once stood for something. The military might be one last holdout, but even that will see changes - be certain of it.

Red-blue divisions start with newborns’ names: Parents show partisan tendencies!

The Washington Times ^ | June 5, 2013 | Valerie Richardson 

It turns out the parents of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Rick Perry knew what they were doing when they named their babies.
A research paper by a team of University of Chicago political scientists found that liberals and conservatives, in addition to all of their other differences, have distinct tendencies when it comes to choosing names for their newborns.
Names with the soft consonant “l” or that end in a long “a” — for example, President Obama’s daughter Malia — are more likely to be found in Democratic neighborhoods, while names with hard vowel sounds such as K, G or B — think former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s sons Track and Trig — are more popular in Republican communities.
“We find strong differences in birth-naming practices related to race, economic status and ideology,” said the paper, “Liberellas versus Konservatives: Social Status, Ideology, and Birth Names in the United States.”
“Although higher status mothers of all races favor more popular birth names, high-status liberal mothers more often choose uncommon, culturally obscure birth names,” the paper said. “Liberals also favor birth names with ‘softer, feminine’ sounds while conservatives favor names with ‘harder, masculine’ phonemes.”
The study stops short of listing baby names as conservative or liberal, but does offer findings based on data derived from an examination of the 2004 California birth records, electoral precincts and the 2000 U.S. Census.
The authors devised a “Male Gender Score” for names, which reveals that “college-educated white mothers choose names with more feminine phonemes as their neighborhood becomes more liberal.”(continued)

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

ObamaCare Bait and Switch: The truth about those rate increases in Oregon and California.

The Wall Street Journal ^ | June 4, 2013, on page A14 | Editors 

The conservative analyst Avik Roy consulted current rates on the eHealthInsurance website and discovered that the cheapest ObamaCare plan for a typical 25-year-old man is roughly 64% to 117% more expensive than the five cheapest policies sold today. For a 40 year old, it's 73% to 146%. Stanford economist Dan Kessler adds his observations nearby.
We wouldn't be shocked if California deliberately abused statistics in the hopes that no one would notice that in some cases premiums would more than double. In any case, the turn among the liberals who touted the fake results has been educational.
They now concede that individual costs will rise but claim that it is unfair to compare today's market to ObamaCare because ObamaCare mandates much richer benefits. Another liberal rationalization is that the cost-increasing regulations are meant to help people with pre-existing conditions, so they're worth it.
So they're finally admitting what some of us predicted from the start, but that's also the policy point. Americans are being forced to buy more expensive coverage than what they willingly buy today.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...



Sgt. Schultz


Rain problem solved


Dept. of Treachery








No war on terror?


The right thing


Which is better?


"I wasn't informed"




Helicopter Operated By Pure Mind Control

Editor's Choice
Academic Journal
Main Category: Neurology / Neuroscience
Article Date: 06 Jun 2013 - 0:00 PDT

Controlling the movements of a helicopter just with your mind sounds like something out of a science fiction movie, but scientists at the University of Minnesota have made it a reality. They have learnt to use their thoughts to steer a model helicopter around a gym, making it dip, rise, turn, and even fly through a ring.

The scientists have published their study in the Journal of Neural Engineering.

The development of brain computer interfacing (BCI) is to provide the user with the ability to communicate with the world outside and manipulate objects through thought modulation. Achieving this is accomplished through a closed loop of sensing, processing and actuation. Over the last ten years, scientists have made enormous progress in making it possible for us to move things by just thinking about it.

Professor Bin He and team, who work in the laboratory of biomedical engineering, say that the technology they are developing may one day help people with neurodegenerative diseases, who have lost the ability to speak or move their bodies, regain function by controlling electronic and mechanical devices, such as artificial limbs, wheelchairs, etc.

The team say their technology is completely non-invasive. There are no brain implants. Brainwaves (electroencephalography, EEG) are picked up by electrodes fitted into an EEG cap that goes onto the scalp.

Professor He, who is a faculty member in the College of Science and Engineering, said:

"My entire career is to push for noninvasive 3-D brain-computer interfaces, or BCI. [Researchers elsewhere] have used a chip implanted into the brain's motor cortex to drive movement of a cursor [across a screen] or a robotic arm. But here we have proof that a noninvasive BCI from a scalp EEG can do as well as an invasive chip."

How does the brain-computer interface work

The motor cortex is an area of the cerebrum that controls movement. Prof. He's BCI system works thanks to the location of the motor cortex.

When humans move, or think about carrying out a movement, neurons in the motor cortex emit small electrical currents. Each thought regarding each different movement activates a new arrangement of neurons.

The groundwork for the BCI involved sorting out these neuron arrangements.

Professor He said "We were the first to use both functional MRI and EEG imaging to map where in the brain neurons are activated when you imagine movements. So now we know where the signals will come from."

According to the brain map, the easiest signals to distinguish were those that resulted in closing one fist, closing the other fist, or both.

He explained "This knowledge about what kinds of signals are generated by what kind of motion imagination helps us optimize the design of the system to control flying objects in real time."

Tapping the map

The EEG cap has 64 scalp-electrodes. They monitor the electrical activity coming from the brain and report signals (or absence of signals) to a computer. The computer processes the data and translates the pattern into an electronic command.

Using thoughts to control movement occurred initially with the one-dimensional movement of a cursor on a computer monitor. Researchers then moved a two-dimensional cursor, and finally achieved 3-D control over a virtual helicopter.

Now it is a real object, they are able to control an actual flying robot drone which was formally an augmented reality.

To control the model helicopter with just thoughts, the team's computers interface with the WiFi controls in the robot (helicopter). After processing the EEG brain signals into a command, the computer sends the command to the helicopter by WiFi.

The researchers describe how the team, consisting of five scientists, learned to guide the flying robot.

Karl LaFleur, a senior biomedical engineering student, said:

"Working for Dr. He has been a phenomenal experience. He has so much experience with the scientific process, and he is excellent at helping his students learn this process while allowing them room for independent work. Being an author on a first-person journal article is a huge opportunity that most undergraduates never get."

LaFleur, who is entering medical school next year, says he plans to put his knowledge into use there.

LeFleur continued:

"I think the potential for BCI is very broad. Next, we want to apply the flying robot technology to help disabled patients interact with the world. It may even help patients with conditions like stroke or Alzheimer's disease. We're now studying some stroke patients to see if it'll help rewire brain circuits to bypass damaged areas."

Previous studies on using just thoughts

In 2011, scientists from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and UPMC Rehabilitation Institute created a computer interface that helped a paralyzed man move a prosthetic arm just with thoughts. All he needed to do was use his thoughts and the arm moved.

Researchers from the University of Essex and the University of Plymouth, both in England, created technology that allowed a patient with locked-in syndrome to play music just by thinking about it. They published their study in the journal Music and Medicine (March 2011 issue).

NSA Collecting Verizon Phone Records

Political Realities ^ | 06/06/13 | LD Jackson 

We know that the Department of Justice has been after phone records at the Associated Press and Fox News. We know they used a court order, one they attempted to keep secret, to obtain the emails of James Rosen. If those two items trouble you, this next item should make you start looking over your shoulder with more than a little trepidation. According to new reports, the Nationals Security Agency has a secret court order to collect phone records from Verizon. This court order is indiscriminate in nature, meaning they are collecting more than a few phone records.
NSAThe Guardian - The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April. The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.
The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.
The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19.
Under the terms of the blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered.
The disclosure is likely to reignite longstanding debates in the US over the proper extent of the government's domestic spying powers.
Under the Bush administration, officials in security agencies had disclosed to reporters the large-scale collection of call records data by the NSA, but this is the first time significant and top-secret documents have revealed the continuation of the practice on a massive scale under President Obama.
I didn't like this practice when the Bush administration was engaged in it and I like it even less now. I have briefly read through the court order which can be read at the link included in the quote from The Guardian. It is only four pages long and does not include the reasons given for the court order. We do not know why the NSA and the FBI requested this collection of phone records, why they chose to collect information only from Verizon, or why Judge Roger Vinson granted their request. I would like to see all that information, as I think it would make for some interesting reading.
I can't wait for the Obama administration to be forthcoming with their reasoning behind this court order. I wonder what their excuse will be this time?