Saturday, June 30, 2012

Geometric Wooden Sculptures by Aaron Moran

Geometric Wooden Sculptures by Aaron Moran:
Geometric Wooden Sculptures by Aaron Moran
Aaron Moran’s geometric sculptures from reclaimed wood have a graphic patchwork feel about them. The Canadian artist’s works are full of patterns and colors where the found wood’s grain and texture often show through giving each piece character.
Geometric Wooden Sculptures by Aaron Moran
He has many different series that display different patterns, color palettes, and structures, some of which hang on the wall and others that are three-dimensional, freestanding pieces. I love that he takes these old pieces of wood that have been demo-ed from old housing sites and continues their story in a new, modern form.
Geometric Wooden Sculptures by Aaron Moran
Geometric Wooden Sculptures by Aaron Moran
Geometric Wooden Sculptures by Aaron Moran
Geometric Wooden Sculptures by Aaron Moran
Geometric Wooden Sculptures by Aaron Moran
Geometric Wooden Sculptures by Aaron Moran
Geometric Wooden Sculptures by Aaron Moran
Geometric Wooden Sculptures by Aaron Moran
Geometric Wooden Sculptures by Aaron Moran

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Geocacher Finds Lost Child

Geocacher Finds Lost Child:

Mark Case on the day he found the lost girl
In the last 30 days 6.9 million logs were submitted on Geocaching.com. Most of the logs claimed a “Found it,” followed by details of a caching adventure. Or the logs gave a story about the cache that got away under the banner of a “DNF” (Did Not Find).
But Mark Case’s (markcase) June 19 log gives “Found it” a new, more powerful, meaning. Mark was searching for the North Carolina, USA EarthCache “The Sauratown Mountains” (GC1G4Py).
His “Found it” log entry began with, “Wow. How do I start this log? This cache has to be one that I will always remember.”
Mark not only found the information to claim a smiley on the EarthCache – he also found a lost girl.
His log reads, “I passed a very nice stream bed on the way up to the summit. On the way down, as I got closer and closer to the stream, I heard a child crying. When I got to the stream, I found an 8 year-old girl alone and crying. She was lost and had no idea where she was.”
Mark quickly devised a plan. He had been involved with scouting for nearly 40 years. He says he discovered geocaching in 2010 at the Boy Scout National Jamboree. He got hooked. Mark learned plenty about geocaching with nearly 4,500 finds in two years. Mark sets memorable locations in his GPS device as waypoints. Following a waypoint he’d just set, Mark was able to lead the girl to a nearby campsite with a pay phone. There had been no cell phone coverage.
He wrote, “She was tired and scared. I wound up giving her a ride on my shoulders most of the way. When I offered to let her wear my hat, she stopped crying. When I got to the pay phone, I dialed 911 and told them I had a lost girl and where I found her. A ranger showed up within about 15 minutes.” It turned out the girl had been missing for three hours. She’d followed the stream collecting rocks, until she was far past her parents. She was reunited with her parents shortly after. Mark says he never ever got the family’s name.

Mark Case geocaching
Mark finished his log with this, “Does Geocaching make a difference? It did today. I’ll always remember this hike and cache.”
Mark says one of his other memorable caching experience was topping a peak with his wife as she was rehabilitating after knee surgery. He says he likes sharing his caching experiences with fellow cachers, like reaching that peak, or finding a lost girl.
Mark says geocachers also share a common trait, “Most cachers operate on the “Do Right” philosophy.  Do what is right.  I like that in my fellow cachers.”

Marijuana Now The Most Popular Drug in the World

Marijuana Now The Most Popular Drug in the World:
MarijuanaAccording to a U.N. report on global drug use, cannabis was the world’s most widely produced, trafficked, and consumed drug in the world in 2010.
Marijuana boasts somewhere between 119 million and 224 million users in the adult population of the world (18 or older). And there are no signs to indicate the popularity of marijuana will fall anytime soon. Cannabis is consumed in some fashion in all countries, the report says, and it is grown in most. Though the use of the drug is stabilizing in North America, and Oceania, smoking pot is on the rise in West and Central Africa, Southern Africa, South Asia and Central Asia.
In 2010, marijuana use was most prevalent in Australia and New Zealand. The U.S. and Canada came in second, followed by Spain, France, Italy, and the Czech Republic. Nigeria, Zambia, and Madagascar were tied for fourth place.
The U.N. report also noted shifts in cultural trends. Some interesting standouts: The European market is moving away from cannabis resin (hashish) and towards the herb, which is more popular in America; cannabis became Afghanistan’s most lucrative cash crop in 2010, replacing heroin; and the marijuana seed market grew immensely from 2008 to 2010, with 100 to 200 brands available online when the report was written.
The U.N. also reported that cannabis is becoming more potent in developed countries. The popularization of hydroponic cultivation, a method that uses mineral nutrient solutions to grow plants in water without soil, means marijuana is a) more likely to be grown indoors and b) stronger than traditionally grown plants.
But beware of marijuana imitations. Or imitations of any drug, really. New chemically engineered substances are popping up all across the world (see bath salts), and weed is no exception to the trend. Synthetic cannabinoids that emulate the effects of weed but contain uncontrolled products have been detected since 2008 in herbal smoking blends.
Source: Time Magazine (US)

Author: Eliana Dockterman

Published: June 29, 2012

Copyright: 2012 Time Inc.

Contact: letters@time.com

Website: http://www.time.com/time/

UCS-AAAS Workshop on Nuclear Stockpile Management

UCS-AAAS Workshop on Nuclear Stockpile Management:
Last November, UCS convened a day-long workshop on the future of DOE’s nuclear stockpile management program, in collaboration with the Center for Science, Technology, and Security Policy at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Hudson Institute Center for Political-Military Analysis.
We pulled together a group of twenty people with relevant backgrounds, including active and retired scientists and engineers from Los Alamos Lab, Lawrence Livermore Lab, and Y-12; representatives from the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), DOD, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy; independent scientists who are members of the JASON panel that advises the government on nuclear weapons and other security issues; and experts from nongovernmental organizations and elsewhere.
The summary of the meeting is available here.

As one might expect from a group of this sort, there was agreement on some things and disagreement on others. Most notably, participants agreed that the Stockpile Stewardship Program, which the U.S. established after instituting its 1992 moratorium on nuclear explosive testing, has been a resounding success. We know far more now about the stockpile than we ever did while doing full-scale tests.
One interesting disagreement was about the wisdom and utility of modifying the core of the weapons—the so-called “physics package”—to add safety and security features (which guard against accidental detonation and unauthorized use, respectively). Some believed that making such modifications could compromise confidence in warhead reliability and others argued confidence could be maintained by making modifications based on previous designs and using computer simulations. The W76 life extension program (LEP) did not include modifications to the physics package, and neither will the B61 LEP. However, this is an open possibility for all future LEPs.
On a very sobering note, some believed that the current security threat posed by terrorist attackers (including insiders) was already too great to wait for the many decades it would take to modify the warheads themselves. Instead, they argued the U.S. needs to take steps now to improve security, and that it should consider the entire weapons system rather than just the warhead.
For example, it might make sense to employ additional security measures during transportation by DOE or while the weapons are under DOD control, or to make changes to the delivery systems. A piece of good news: last year the House required NNSA to conduct a study “to investigate the feasibility and costs of enhancing the safety of transporting nuclear weapons where possible.” The report, which will be classified, was due on June 1.
Of course, one wonders why the NNSA had to be prompted by Congress to do a study like this in the first place.

When Will The Government Learn That They Are Utterly Incapable Of Picking Winners????

(title unknown): When Will The Government Learn That They Are Utterly Incapable Of Picking Winners????

For over fifty years, governments all around the world have proven conclusively that they cannot pick winners.  Industrial policy is an abject failure, but nobody in Washington seem able to learn that simple fact.  This article in the Los Angeles Times makes that point exactly!!

What is not mentioned is that the only solar firm who refused a government loan is doing nicely thank you.  (They refused the loans because they had too many strings attached.)

 

latimes.com

Solar firm that got federal loan to declare bankruptcy

Associated Press
2:35 PM PDT, June 28, 2012
Advertisement
Click here to find out more!

A Colorado solar panel maker that received a $400-million loan guarantee from the Obama administration said it would file for bankruptcy, the latest setback for an industry battered by the recession and stiff competition from companies in China.
Abound Solar of Loveland, Colo., said Thursday that it would suspend operations next week, after talks with potential buyers broke down. The company received about $70 million from the Energy Department before officials froze its credit line last year.
Abound is the third clean-energy company to seek bankruptcy protection after receiving a loan from the Energy Department under the economic stimulus law. California solar panel maker Solyndra and Beacon Power, a Massachusetts energy-storage firm, declared bankruptcy last year. Solyndra received a $528-million federal loan, while Beacon Power got a $43-million loan guarantee.
Abound said about 125 workers would be laid off.
Abound received the federal loan guarantee in 2010 to expand a plant in Longmont, Colo., and build a new plant in Tipton, Ind., promising to create more than 1,200 jobs.
But the company ran into difficulties when the price of solar panels collapsed, leading the Energy Department to suspend its line of credit in September 2011 — the same month Solyndra declared bankruptcy.
Abound cut its workforce about 70% in February, firing about 180 full-time workers and 100 part-time employees.
The company said in a statement that it believes its thin-film technology could achieve lower costs per watt of electricity than competing crystalline silicon technology made in China.
"However, aggressive pricing actions from Chinese solar panel companies have made it very difficult for an early-stage start-up company like Abound to scale in current market conditions," the company said.
Abound said it supports a recent decision by the Commerce Department imposing stiff tariffs on Chinese imports, but said, "this action is unfortunately too late for the company."

What's scarce?

What's scarce?:
The only reason every project doesn't scale to infinity is that something runs out. Time, money, natural resources, new fashions, new customers... something is scarce.
The first question you need to ask about your project is: what's scarce?
The second: how do I get by with less of it?

New Hampshire Adopts Jury Nullification Law

New Hampshire Adopts Jury Nullification Law:
No, no, you have it wrong. That's NOT how nullification works.Jury nullification, in which
jurors refuse to convict defendants under laws they find
objectionable or inappropriately applied, is a favored tactic of
many libertarians who, rightly or wrongly perceive individual
liberty as, at best, a minority taste among their neighbors. They
like the idea of a tool that can be wielded on the spot to shield
people from powerful control freaks without first having to win a
popularity contest. But nullification is useful only if people know
about. And last week, New Hampshire's governor signed a law
requiring the state's judges to permit defense attorneys to inform
jurors of their right to nullify the law.
On June 18, Governor John Lynch signed
HB 146
, which reads:
a Right of Accused. In all criminal proceedings the court shall
permit the defense to inform the jury of its right to judge the
facts and the application of the law in relation to the facts in
controversy.
Short, simple and to the point. Nullification advocate Tim
Lynch, of the Cato Institute, thinks it's a step in the right
direction, though not necessarily a game-changer.
Says he
:
This is definitely a step forward for advocates of jury
trial.  Allowing counsel to speak directly to the jury about
this subject is something that is not allowed in all the
courthouses outside of New Hampshire–so, again, this is good.
I am concerned, however,  that this language does not go far
enough.   We don’t know how much pressure trial judges
will exert on defense counsel.  As noted above, if the
attorney’s argument is “too strenuous,” the judge may reprimand the
attorney in some way or deliver his own strenuous instruction about
how the jurors must ultimately accept the law as described by
the court
, not the defense.  I’m also
afraid what the jurors hear will too often depend on the
particular judge and, then, what that judge wants to do in a
particular case.
So the law is an improvement over the old order, especially in
an era when courts and judges are overtly trying to suppress jury
independence, but one whose effectiveness is yet to be
determined.
But is this faith in jury nullification misplaced? How likely
are we and our neighbors to symbolically flip our middle fingers to
the powers that be and free defendants charged with, say drug
offenses or gun law violations? After all, the power has long
existed, but you don't often hear of juries staging revolts.

It does happen, though, as a
much-covered 2010 Montana case demonstrates
, when a trial
never even started because the court was unable to find
enough jurors willing to convict somebody for marijuana possession.
And a lot of nullification may fly under the radar, because it
results in hung juries rather than full acquittals, and because
judges and prosecutors really want to keep it quiet.
Back in 1999, the Washington Post wrote:
In courthouses across the country, an unprecedented level of
juror activism is taking hold, ignited by a movement of people who
are turning their back on the evidence they hear at trial and
instead using the jury box as a bold form of civil protest. ...
The most concrete sign of the trend is the sharp jump in the
percentage of trials that end in hung juries. For decades, a 5
percent hung jury rate was considered the norm, derived from a
landmark study of the American jury by Harry Kalven Jr. and Hans
Zeisel published 30 years ago. In recent years, however, that
figure has doubled and quadrupled, depending on location.
That article featured a pre-gunrunning Eric Holder objecting
that, "There is a real potential danger if this problem goes
unchecked."
The article's hung jury estimate wasn't just guess work. A

2002 study
(PDF) on hung juries by the National Center for
State Courts found that "In 63% of cases in which the jury
deadlocked, the majority of jurors voted in favor of conviction
compared to 24% of cases in which the majority of jurors voted in
favor of acquittal ..." Such numbers are considered a strong, if
not conclusive sign of widespread nullification.  Two of that
study's authors, Paula Hannaford-Agor, of the National Center for
State Courts, and Valerie P. Hans, of Cornell Law School, penned a
2003
paper
(PDF)  published in the Chicago-Kent Law
Review
that said:
The criminal justice community has become increasingly concerned
about the policy implications of jury nullification, especially as
jury nullification manifests itself in hung juries. A number of
communities, especially in California, report that up to
one-quarter of all criminal jury trials routinely result in
mistrials due to jury deadlock.
That paper also concluded that strictly defined nullification
isn't always distinguishable from doubts about the strength of a
case, since the two tend to run together when jurors are skeptical
about the credibility and legitimacy of police and the courts.
So jury nullification may be one of those things we're already
soaking in without realizing it, because people with doubts about
the law stubbornly bring acquittals or deadlock juries without
painting their actions in political colors. Now, in New Hampshire,
maybe we'll get to see what happens when jurors are told that what
they're already doing is officially OK.

Obama’s Secretive Drug War: DEA FOIA Rejections Have Increased 114 Percent Since End of Bush Administration

Obama’s Secretive Drug War: DEA FOIA Rejections Have Increased 114 Percent Since End of Bush Administration:
Despite President Obama’s 2009

executive order
requiring agencies to err on the side of
disclosure when processing Freedom of Information Act requests, the
Drug Enforcement Agency exempted a record number of FOIA requests
in 2011 in nearly every category.
But it didn’t set records just in 2011: According to a
comparison of publicly available data from FOIA.gov, the DEA
rejected more FOIA requests in 2009, 2010, and 2011 than it did
during the last year of George W. Bush’s administration.
When every FOIA exemption is taken into account (exemptions are
the legal exceptions that allow agencies to withhold information
from requesters), the DEA cited 2,195 exemptions in 2011, a 114
percent increase over 2008, when it cited only 1,024
exemptions.
The number of FOIA exemptions the DEA cited in 2011 also
revealed an increase when compared to preceding years of the Obama
administration--an increase of 38 percent over 2010 (1,581
exemptions), and 5.7 percent over 2009 (2,075).
But the really incredible number
concerns the DEA’s citation of FOIA exemption 7(e). According to
the Justice Department, 7(e) “affords protection to all law
enforcement information that ‘would disclose techniques and
procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or
would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or
prosecutions if such disclosure could reasonably be expected to
risk circumvention of the law.’”
The use of 7(e), which allows the DEA to conceal its policies
regarding the use of wiretaps, raids, confidential informants,
straw buys, tracking devices, and other tactics, increased 620
percent between 2010 and 2011; and 912 percent between 2011 and
2008.
According to the
Justice Department
, a tactic need not be secret for an agency
to withhold details about its use:
The first clause of Exemption 7(E) permits the withholding of
"records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes . . .
[that] would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement
investigations or prosecutions." This clause is phrased in
such a way so as to not require a showing of any particular
determination of harm -- or risk of circumvention of law -- that
would be caused by disclosure of the records or information within
its coverage. Rather, it is designed to provide "categorical"
protection of the information so described.
Notwithstanding the broad scope of Exemption 7(E)'s protection,
in order for the exemption to apply, the technique or procedure at
issue ordinarily must not be well known to the
public. Accordingly, techniques such as
"wiretapping," "mail covers" and the "use of post office
boxes," "'security flashes' or the tagging of
fingerprints," pretext telephone calls, and "planting
transponders on aircraft suspected of smuggling" have been
denied protection under Exemption 7(E) when courts have found them
to be generally known to the public.
In some cases, however, even commonly known procedures have been
protected from disclosure when "'the circumstances of their
usefulness . . . may not be widely known,'" or "their use in
concert with other elements of an investigation and in their
totality directed toward a specific investigative goal constitute a
'technique' which merits protection." Increasingly, moreover,
courts have endorsed the withholding of a wide variety of commonly
known procedures -- for example, polygraph
examinations, undercover operations, and surveillance
techniques  -- on the basis that disclosure of their
details could reduce or even nullify their effectiveness. 
In other words, the DEA might not just be withholding  the
use of these tactics in specific cases, but also more general data
that reveals how frequently the agency uses wiretaps and tracking
devices.
2011 saw a massive increase in the use of 7(e) exemptions: In
2010, the agency cited the exemption 45 times; in 2011, it cited
the exemption 324 times. Below is a chart compiled using FOIA.gov
that shows the DEA’s increase of FOIA exemptions between 2008 and
2011. With the with the exception of exemption 2, which protects
internal correspondence concerning personnel and human resources
issues, DEA FOIA exemptions have increased in every single category
since 2008.

During the same period that FOIA rejections were skyrocketing,
the DEA increased its full-time FOIA staff from 16 in 2008, to 21
in 2011. The cost of litigating DEA FOIA lawsuits, meanwhile,
increased from $206,892 in 2008, to $371,274 in 2011.
But the opacity doesn't end with rejections. According to
FOIA.gov, "the Attorney
General’s FOIA Guidelines
 encourage agencies to
systematically post information of interest to the public on agency
websites without the need for a FOIA request." As such, every
agency maintains a "FOIA Library" with a public catalog of FOIA
requests an agency has responded to. The DEA's "electronic reading
room" (the old label for a FOIA Library) is empty:

The page's last update? Oct. 10, 2008.  

Government Mini Golf: The Federal Regulations For Putt-Putt Courses

Government Mini Golf: The Federal Regulations For Putt-Putt Courses:
Next time you hit a golf ball
past a tiny model windmill in a game of miniature golf, it will
probably be on government-regulated course.
Under the umbrella of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the
federal government has issued new regulations governing the size,
slope, and even the length of the grass fibers used on the course.
Via Ryan Young of the
Competitive Enterprise Institute
:
The federal government regulates the slopes of miniature golf
courses. The new standard “permits a slope of 1:4 maximum for a 4
inch rise where the accessible route is located on the playing
surface of a hole.”
If a course uses artificial turf instead of grass, it also
regulates length for the fibers. The height of the “grass” shall
not exceed half an inch.
The so-called “start of play” areas must be at least 48” x 60”,
and shall not have a slope steeper than 1:48.
Miniature golf isn't the only type of fun the new rules
regulate:
According to the federal register
, the new guidelines "include
scoping and technical provisions for amusement rides, boating
facilities, fishing piers and platforms, golf courses, miniature
golf, sports facilities, and swimming pools and spas."

5 Most Unlibertarian Supreme Court Rulings Still Standing

5 Most Unlibertarian Supreme Court Rulings Still Standing:
Some bulwark.James Madison
envisioned the judicial branch of our government as “an
impenetrable bulwark against every assumption of power in the
legislative or executive.” In reality, the U.S. Supreme Court has
been more like a rubber stamp, allowing all manner of harebrained
government schemes to survive despite their blatant conflict with
the text of the Constitution.
Yesterday’s dismal ruling in National Federation of
Independent Business v. Sebelius
was no exception. Not only
did the Supreme Court vote to uphold ObamaCare’s requirement
forcing all Americans to buy health insurance, Chief Justice John
Roberts even cooked up an insidious new way for Congress to run our
lives via its vast powers to “lay and collect taxes.” Where's
Harriet Miers when you need her?
But don’t worry, it gets worse. Here are the top 5 most
unlibertarian Supreme Court rulings from the last 40 years that are
still standing (and the individual mandate didn’t even make the
list!).
5. Miller v. California (1973)
A landmark First Amendment ruling and an official permission
slip for moralists and censors ever since, this 1973 case
reaffirmed the government’s right to prohibit speech deemed to be
obscene by replacing an existing vague and murky legal definition
of obscenity with an all new vague and murky definition. The case
involved Marvin Miller, a California man convicted in a lower court
on obscenity charges for sending unsolicited sexually explicit
pamphlets through the mail. When the Supreme Court reviewed the
case, they agreed with the conviction, declaring that “obscene
material is not protected by the First Amendment,” but noting the
difficulties in determining what exactly should count as obscene.
The Court
drew up new obscenity guidelines
which instructed authorities
to consider:
whether "the average person, applying contemporary community
standards" would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to
the prurient interest
whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive
way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state
law.
Whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary,
artistic, political, or scientific value.
Problem solved? Hardly. The Miller test remains
impossibly vague, and leaves it up to the arbitrary whims of
judicial authorities to determine what sort of speech can be
prosecuted under the law for being outrageous or offensive. A
better reading of the First Amendment would make clear that the
right answer is: none.
Next: Cops, prostitutes,
cars.

4.
Bennis v. Michigan (1996)
Nice car.In September 1988 a
Michigan couple named John and Tina Bennis bought a 1977 Pontiac
automobile for the price of $600, which they split between them.
Three weeks later, on the night of October 3, John was arrested by
Detroit police after picking up a prostitute in the car and later
charged and convicted of gross indecency. Sensing an opportunity,
the county prosecutor turned to a Michigan statute allowing for the
seizure of property used for the purposes of “lewdness, assignation
or prostitution” and brought an asset forfeiture action targeting
the car.
Because Tina Bennis was a part owner of the car and had been
convicted of no crime, she innocently assumed her right to life,
liberty, and property under the Due Process Clause of the 14th
Amendment would prevent the government from robbing her of her
ride. The U.S. Supreme Court saw things
differently
. “An owner's interest in property may be forfeited
by reason of the use to which the property is put even though the
owner did not know that it was to be put to such use,” wrote Chief
Justice William Rehnquist. By rejecting Bennis’ “innocent owner”
defense, the Supreme Court kicked the door open to even greater

asset forfeiture abuse
.
Next: The Fourth Amendment Under
Fire.

3.
Muehler v. Mena (2005)
Supreme Court rulings that have chipped away at the Fourth
Amendment are a dime a dozen. From 1983’s Illinois v.
Gates
, which drastically reduced the requirements for police
to obtain a warrant based on an anonymous tip, to 2002’s Board
of Education v. Earls
, which paved the way for public schools
to require students to undergo drug tests before participating in
intramural activities, Americans’ civil liberties have taken a real
beating from the high court in recent years.
Think of the children.But a
more recent case has even broader implications for the Fourth
Amendment. In 1998 Iris Mena was handcuffed and kept in her garage
for three hours while an 18-member SWAT team searched her home for
a suspected gang member. Mena sued, saying that there was no need
for officers to keep her in handcuffs once they had determined that
she not a threat. She also claimed in her suit that the officers
could have avoided destroying her property if they had permitted
her to unlock door and cabinets. Additionally, the officers
questioned Mena about her immigration status, despite the fact that
she was not the target of the raid.
In 2005, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in
Muehler v. Mena
that the need for law enforcement
officers to “take command of the situation” during a lawful raid on
a residence or business outweighed Mena’s concerns about being
detained for an overly long time, or the destruction of her
property. The majority also held that Mena being questioned about
her immigration status was not a violation of her Fourth Amendment
rights.
The dissenting justices held that keeping Mena, who stands
5-feet-2-inches tall, in handcuffs for three hours was excessive
and that she should have been released immediately upon determining
whether she was a threat to the officers.
In 2012, the Obama administration cited Muehler v. Mena

in a brief
to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in
its defense of
several DEA agents
who roughly handcuffed two young girls—ages
11 and 14—during a wrong-door raid.
Next: Smoked out.
2.
Gonzales v. Raich (2005)
Remember Roscoe Filburn!According to Article 1, Section 8 of the
Constitution, Congress possesses the power “to regulate
commerce...among the several states.” Yet in the Supreme Court’s
1942 ruling in Wickard v.
Filburn
, the Supreme Court found the Commerce Clause
pliable enough to forbid an Ohio farmer from growing and consuming
a specific amount of wheat on his own farm.
Then the Court arguably made things even worse with its 2005
decision in Gonzales
v. Raich
, where it held that medical marijuana cultivated
and consumed entirely within the state of California somehow still
counted as interstate commerce and was therefore subject to the
federal Controlled Substances Act. As Justice Clarence Thomas
remarked in his dissent, “By holding that Congress may regulate
activity that is neither interstate nor commerce under the
Interstate Commerce Clause, the Court abandons any attempt to
enforce the Constitution’s limits on federal power.”
You can also thank Raich for those federal raids on
local medicial marijuana clinics that President Barack Obama once
pretended
he was going to stop
.
Next: There goes the neighborhood.
1.
Kelo v. City of New London (2005)
Are there any limits on government's
authority to take property from citizens? The U.S. Constitution's
Fifth Amendment seems to put pretty clear limits on the taking of
"private property for public use" (with public use defined as
projects such as railways and roads) and requires that owners
deprived of their property must receive just compensation. That
standard held up into the twentieth century, when a stream of court
decisions began defining "public" downward and "blight" (one
criterion for condemning private property) downward.
The 2005
Kelo decision
completed that dreary progress. Justice
John Paul Stevens ruled for the majority that a redevelopment
agency in New London, Connecticut could seize homes of local
families and give them to a private developer working with the
Pfizer Corporation for a mixed-use plan dating to the 1990s. In a
stinging dissent, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor noted that the Kelo
decision overturned a judicial principal dating to 1798: A "law
that takes property from A and gives it to B" cannot stand.
Stevens' decision still seems shockingly credulous and
ill-considered seven years on. Kelo rejects any requirement that
condemned property be put into public use, gives unlimited
"deference" to politicians' economic judgments, and assumes the
plan's "comprehensive character" and the "wisdom of the means the
city has selected" would ensure against damaging private citizens
for no public purpose.
In the end, though, Pfizer
abandoned
the project and the Fort Trumbull neighborhood,
cleared of its houses, literally became a
garbage dump
. New London was made
poorer
, and although
some states
responded to the ruling with
piecemeal
efforts to rein in eminent domain abuse, Kelo's most
important precedent has been to enshrine the
unrepentant
Stevens' legacy as an economic dullard and
second-rate legal thinker.

William Shatner Pantsed by TSA

William Shatner Pantsed by TSA:
Although I know there is a clip of Denny Crane wearing shirt, coat, tie and boxers (and presumably black shoes and sox), I can't find it, so you'll just have to settle for Shatner topless. Known Canadian William Shatner,
revered by generations of audiences the world over for his
electrifying lead performances in Star Trek, T.J.
Hooker
, Boston Legal, The Twilight Zone and
countless other standards of modern popular culture (and, you'd
think, a person famous enough that even TSA agents in L.A. County
would recognize him as a passenger with a low-risk terrorist
profile), was humiliated by federal security agents while trying to
fly out of Los Angeles International Airport. From the
Toronto Sun
, all Commonwealth usages in original:
Star Trek legend William Shatner was left nursing a bruised ego
when his trousers fell down during an airport security check in
front of dozens of fellow travellers.
The actor was queuing at Los Angeles International Airport to
catch a flight to South Africa when he was singled out for a search
by officials.
More from
Inquisitr.com
:
The actor, who was in the process of boarding a flight to South
Africa was singled out by security for a check, and that’s when
things got embarrassing for the actor. Shatner decided not to wear
a belt to hold his pants up, which is said to be the number one
leading cause for pantsing strangers in an airport. The pants fell
down and according to people there, exposed the actor’s
underwear.
While recounting the incident at LAX Shatner went on to say, “It
was awful to have people looking at me with my pants down, probably
the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to me… It was a
long flight so I wanted to wear loose clothing because I didn’t
want anything to bind me.”
He's lucky they didn't steal anything out of his luggage.
It's a negative tribute to the Transportation Security
Administration that TSA thugs were able embarrass a man who kept
his dignity through both Kingdom of the Spiders and a
recent senior moment during which Shatner tried
unsuccessfully to ad-lib his way out of an insulting remark

he'd made about a resort on the UK's Devon coast:
Shatner, 81, dropped his clanger while he was appearing as guest
host on the BBC's satirical quiz 'Have I Got News For You' on May
28.
He mentioned Ilfracombe as a venue in the Olympic torch relay,
but mispronounced its name, drawing a remark from panellist Charlie
Brooker that it sounded "deeply sexual".
Shatner went on to ask the panellists whether they had ever
been, before adding: "The place is laced with
prostitution."...
After hearing that some residents were angered by the
off-the-cuff remark, Paul Crabb, a town councillor, wrote to
Shatner via his agent and manager, inviting him to the
town...
In an email sent to Mr Crabb and signed 'Bill', Shatner
responded that prostitution "commonly means sex for something of
value".
He said: "I would be hard pressed to believe that sex was not
being had in Ilfracombe for something of value, perhaps a lengthy
marriage, children or a valuable career.
"In any event, my apologies for having singled out Ilfracombe as
a potential haven for prostitution. With you overseeing, I am sure
that will not happen."
Shatner speaks Esperanto:


 

Cracks Appear in California State Senate as High-Speed Rail Vote Approaches Station

Cracks Appear in California State Senate as High-Speed Rail Vote Approaches Station:
I've run out of clever things to say about trains. Sorry.Next week marks the announced

deadline
for the California state Senate to agree to issue
bonds to fund the first leg of the $69 billion high-speed rail
project. The deadline is intended to give the state enough lead
time to begin construction before the end of the year in order to
qualify for $3.5 billion in matching stimulus funds from the
federal government.
But Sacramento columnist Dan Walters is taking note that some
state Senate Democrats
are balking
. They might not have the votes after all:
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg has publicly pledged
to approve construction funds and wants a vote next week. Just
weeks ago, Senate approval appeared certain, but with Republicans
solidly opposed, Steinberg needs support from 20 of the 24 other
Democratic senators. At the moment, the votes aren't there.
Three Democrats -- Mark DeSaulnier, Alan Lowenthal and Joe
Simitian -- have been openly skeptical of the project. At least
three others, and probably more, are unconvinced and uncommitted,
vote counters say.
Steinberg suffered a setback this week when Democratic senators
strongly objected to placing hundreds of millions of dollars in
bullet train property acquisition and engineering money in the
budget bill before a vote on proceeding with a 100-mile segment in
the San Joaquin Valley.
A revised budget bill that removed the disputed funds was
quickly written and placed on the floors of both houses
Wednesday.
Also of note: DeSaulnier is up for re-election in November,
term-limited Lowenthal is running for Congress, and term-limited
Simitian just won a seat on Santa Clara County’s Board of
Supervisors. San Jose, where a public vote to
reform public employee pension benefits
also passed in June, is
Santa Clara County’s seat. Gov. Jerry Brown may ignore the public
polls turning against the train, but not all Democrats have that
option.
Brown may regret ignoring the polls anyway. A commenter on
Walters’ column points out that issuing bonds for high-speed rail
could jeopardize Brown’s pet tax increase vote come November. I can
see the campaign ads in my head now blanketing the airwaves,
pointing out that Sacramento expects voters to approve a tax
increase after spending billions on a train project the majority no
longer wants.
Over at the federal level in Congress, House Republicans voted
today to
block future use of federal funds
on California’s high-speed
rail. The vote was along party lines and wouldn’t affect the money
already earmarked, so it will probably go nowhere fast (train pun
here).

OC toll roads to eliminate cash payments, toll-booth operators

OC toll roads to eliminate cash payments, toll-booth operators - Los Angeles Times:


OC toll roads to eliminate cash payments, toll-booth operators
Los Angeles Times
Operators of Orange County's toll-road network are planning to eliminate cash payments and toll-booth jobs as they try to squeeze more out of their financially strapped pay-to-drive highways. Drivers who use the route 73, 261, 241 and 133 toll roads will need ...

and more »

Gender roles determine what people do online

Gender roles determine what people do online: New research has shown that there is a distinct difference in what men and women do while they are online.

App Alert: Kinotopic+ gets an update and goes FREE for a day

App Alert: Kinotopic+ gets an update and goes FREE for a day:
If you've never heard of Kinotopic before, then be prepared for some fun and enjoinment. You may have heard of cinemagraphs, well, that's exactly what Kinotopic lets you do, create a cinemagraph (an almost static picture, but with a moving element) and more*, to share via the Kinotopic website or via Tumblr, Facebbok etc.

*With Kinotopic+ 2.0, the dev has changed the focus slightly, from cinemagraphs to animated pictures. While Kinotopic still has all the features for making cinemagraphs, the redesign now also lets you easily create animated pictures from a video.

So what's new in Kinotopic+ 2.0? Well the app has a shiny new design, removing a lot of clutter to put the focus on your kinos. Added an activity Stream so you can check out what the people you're following are doing. Introduced a classics tabs to display older kinos. Resigned the kino workflow, and introduced 6 new filters, removing some of the less popular ones, and today it's all for FREE.

App Store Link: Kinotopic+ Sale Price: FREE

Please note: The above Kino is courtesy of Mike

Create "picture in picture" videos on your iPhone or iPad with Video in Video

Create "picture in picture" videos on your iPhone or iPad with Video in Video:
From Flambe Studios, the developers of PicPlayPost comes a new "pioneering" app, that for the first time lets you create "picture in picture" videos on your iDevice, and all for FREE*

Video in Video is described by the developers as "pioneering the way in mobile video creation, by allowing anyone to create stunning HD quality video within a video", making the app "perfect for creating instructional or promo videos on the go", and posting to...
  • Posting directly onto Facebook and YouTube
  • Saving to your photo album and uploading it to other social media platforms (Viddy, Socialcam, and Twitvid) 
  • Saving to your photo album and importing it to other video editing apps (PicPlayPost and iMovie)
  • Emailing and MMS
Video in Video main features include:

Photos: Massive blue whales off O.C. coast

Photos: Massive blue whales off O.C. coast: After a bit of a late start, the largest animals on Earth are arriving in significant numbers off the Orange County coast, a once-rare phenomenon that has become a seasonal tradition.
Blue whales began appearing earlier this month, surfacing and...

Social Media Day OC to draw hundreds

Social Media Day OC to draw hundreds: Nearly 300 people had said they would attend Social Media Day at the Orange County Register on Friday. Declared by technology and social networking blog Mashable three years ago on June 30, Social Media Day is a yearly event that sees independent...

The world is playing football -- American football -- starting June 30 live on YouTube

The world is playing football -- American football -- starting June 30 live on YouTube: The biggest thing in football right now is happening in Europe, at the UEFA Euro 2012 final. In the U.S., this form of “football” is generally considered to be “soccer.” While the Euro action has certainly been fantastic, American football fans -- the one with quarterbacks and end zones -- take heart! Beginning June 30, USA Football’s Under 19 International Federation of American Football (IFAF) World Championship series will air live on iBN Sports’ YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/ibnsportsnetwork.



The series pits eight countries against each other. In the first round on June 30, France plays Japan. France is rugby-crazy, after their appearance in last year’s World Cup, and Japan’s national sport is sumo wrestling: the players in this game may well demonstrate unique techniques and abilities based on backgrounds in these other very physical sports. The U.S. plays American Samoa that same day, and with many terrific Samoans playing pro football, the quality of football will be high. The other first round matchups are Panama vs. Austria and Canada vs. Sweden.



The winners of the first round play on July 4 (Games 1 and 2); the losers' bracket will be on July 3 (Games 1 and 2). The Gold Medal and Bronze Medal games will both be played on July 7.



YouTube is proud to host many live sports these days. Consider these world championships a warm-up for the high school football to be played across the country this fall. Be sure to subscribe to your favorite YouTube Sports Partner channel and don’t miss a minute of live action either this summer or this fall!



Roland Lange, YouTube Sports Partnerships, recently watched "Soccer training for kids"

Measuring a Mobile World: Introducing Mobile App Analytics

Measuring a Mobile World: Introducing Mobile App Analytics: Mobile is changing the way that people communicate, work and play, and much of the growing adoption and innovation we're seeing in the industry is driven by mobile apps. There are already more than 600,000 mobile apps on Google Play alone, and we expect to see continued momentum throughout the industry. Mobile is also becoming front and center for marketers and businesses. As more of them understand the value of mobile apps, sophisticated measurement tools are becoming core to how marketers and app developers invest, analyze and market their apps. 


That’s why today we’re announcing a new set of reports in beta called Mobile App Analytics that help marketers and developers better measure their mobile apps. The reports are tailored for mobile app developers and marketers, speaking the language that matters to them. They are designed to measure the entire mobile customer journey - from discovery to download to engagement. This enables the creation of app experiences that are more useful and engaging through data-driven decisions at each stage of the app lifecycle:
  1. Acquisition and user metrics such as downloads and new users
  2. Engagement metrics such as retention, crashes and conversions
  3. Outcome metrics such as app sales and in-app purchases








Layout of new Mobile App Analytics reports

Here’s an outline of the new Mobile App Analytics along with screen grabs of selected reports:









Acquisition and User Analysis Reports - discover your best sources of new users

New and active users - measure the number of new and active users who launch your app everyday and analyze your most valuable segments. 






Google Play traffic sources - understand which traffic sources are driving new users and in-app conversions through Google Play to fine-tune your marketing initiatives. 

App versions - keep track of the distribution of active users over the older and newer versions of your app so you know what to support.

Device overview - check out the top mobile devices and OS versions that your app runs on, and optimize the experience for each device.











Engagement Reports - see how users interact with your app

User behavior - assess how loyal your users are, how frequently they use the app, and the engagement level of each loyalty group.



Engagement flow - visually see the screens, actions and paths users take to move throughout your application in order to optimize usage.



App crashes - see trends in crashes and exceptions that will help you troubleshoot problems on certain devices and operating systems.











Outcome / Business Impact Reports - identify whether users are accomplishing your goals

Goal conversions - set up conversion events in your app, like spending 10 minutes in the app, or clicking on ads to gauge success.



In-App purchases - if you sell virtual or tangible goods in your app, you can measure the number of purchases and the revenue generated.

The new reports are part of a holistic experience tailored for mobile app measurement, including a new and lightweight SDK v2.0 that’s easier to implement and is opt-out ready, with a streamlined back-end infrastructure.

We’ve also revamped our sign-up process, so new users can choose whether they want to start measuring their website or their mobile app. This means you’ll be just 3 clicks away from setting up your app analytics account and downloading the SDK.

We will be opening the beta up to whitelisted users in waves, so if you’re interested in using Mobile App Analytics for your app, please complete this beta signup form and we’ll get you started soon. We anticipate the reports will be available to all Google Analytics users by the end of the summer.

Also, if you are at Google I/O be sure to attend the Google Analytics session “Measuring the End-to-End Value of Your App” (from 11:30AM - 12:30PM today, June 29) where our lead engineers will tell you more about Mobile App Analytics and some other exciting things we’re working on.

Posted By JiaJing Wang, Product Manager, Google Analytics Team