Big Brother and Silicon Valley : The New Yorker: " . . . the Valley has, historically, kept as far away from Washington as possible. A strong, though not particularly ideological, strain of libertarianism appears to be coded into the DNA of computer engineers—a desire to be left alone to create beautiful systems that can be messed up only by the uncomprehending interference of mediocrities from the government. Partly as a result, information technology has been one of the country’s most lightly regulated industries. Last year, when Congress was poised to pass laws intended to protect intellectual property and prevent online piracy, tech companies, led by Google, struck back with one of the most effective lobbying tactics ever used: they shut down for a day. The effect was instantaneous—both bills went from easy sailing to overwhelming defeat. So much for that regulatory effort. . . ."
Niall Ferguson: The Regulated States of America - WSJ.com: "Genius that he was, Tocqueville saw this transformation of America coming. Toward the end of "Democracy in America" he warned against the government becoming "an immense tutelary power . . . absolute, detailed, regular . . . cover[ing] [society's] surface with a network of small, complicated, painstaking, uniform rules through which the most original minds and the most vigorous souls cannot clear a way." Tocqueville also foresaw exactly how this regulatory state would suffocate the spirit of free enterprise: "It rarely forces one to act, but it constantly opposes itself to one's acting; it does not destroy, it prevents things from being born; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes, and finally reduces [the] nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd.""
As Prisons Squeeze Budgets, GOP Rethinks Crime Focus - WSJ.com: ""Criminal justice is the area where conservative thinking has most changed with the times," said Eli Lehrer, a former GOP Senate staffer and conservative activist in Washington, who has written extensively on the push for new sentencing rules. He describes the push as "the most important social reform effort on the right since the rise of the pro-life movement in the 1970s.""
Even many Muslims don't want to live in Islamic nations--hence the large exodus of Muslims to Europe and elsewhere--the probable fate for the people left behind in the Muslim nations of the world is that most of those nations (due to oil reserves) will become subservient to China--something which is already underway.
Fashion Person Swears You’re Not Chic Unless You’re Ungoogleable | Betabeat: "Chicness has many components. Style. Elegance. Mystery. Ability to turn down between-meal snacks. For designer Phoebe Philo, though, online nonexistence is everything. “The chicest thing is when you don’t exist on Google,” she said recently, according to The Guardian. ”God, I would love to be that person!” The idea echoes WASP society’s old Three Times rule, whereby the well-heeled did their best to only appear in newspapers at birth, marriage and death. Writers like A.M. Homes and bands like !!! have chosen unsearchable names in order to make like virtual ghosts, The Guardian reports. A similar name change is likely the only route to anonymity for people who’ve been floating around the Internet since the days of MySpace."
When a London firm brings someone to London, they do so, presumably, because the move generates a productivity increase which generates gains that can be shared between firm and worker. But the lion's share of that increase flows not to the firm or the worker but to the owner of the firm's office space and the worker's flat. As a result, London winds up with many, many fewer firms and workers than it could otherwise expect to have. As does Britain, because firms and workers deflected from London are more likely to wind up in New York or Hong Kong than in Newcastle. (source infra)
London house prices: The parasitic city | The Economist: "The magnitude of the impact of these supply restrictions on real estate costs is astounding. In a 2008 paper, Paul Cheshire and Christian Hilber estimated the "shadow tax" imposed by such regulations on office prices in London and other major cities. They found a shadow tax rate of planning restrictions (above construction costs) of about 800% in London's West End, and of nearly 500% in the City of London. The comparable rate is about 300% in Paris, 68% in Brussels, and 50% in Manhattan. (The Manhattan estimate is for the year 2000; other city estimates are for the early 2000s.)"
To "thunderous applause" (in response to a passionately worded indictment from an audience member accusing the U.S. National Security Agency of “eavesdropping on the world,”), Oliver Stone Calls Edward Snowden a Hero: "Stone went on to praise WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Bradley Manning, and condemned President Barack Obama's administration for its prosecution of whistleblowers."
Worth reading if you want a true picture of "American Justice"--
Book Discussion on [No Crueler Tyrannies] - C-SPAN Video Library: "Ms. Rabinowitz talked about her book No Crueler Tyrannies: Accusation, False Witness, and Other Terrors of Our Times, published by Wall Street Journal Books. The book collected her investigative stories on false accusations of sex crimes into one account of failed justice. She recalled the hysteria that accompanied the child sex-abuse witch-hunts of the 1980s and 1990s: how a single anonymous phone call could bring to bear an army of recovered-memory therapists, venal and ambitious prosecutors, and hypocritical judges that jailed hundreds of innocent Americans for crimes that did not even occur."
Egyptian Court Convicts NGO Workers - WSJ.com: "Egypt started investigating the mostly Western-based NGOs in late 2011 after the country's minister of planning and international cooperation, Fayza Abul Naga, publicly accused U.S. and Western-based NGOs of financing dissent against the then-ruling council of military generals. Activists said the investigation and subsequent charges amounted to what they termed a cynical attempt to blame foreign powers for the chaos that has continued to rein in Egypt, following the February 2011 ouster of Mr. Mubarak. The accusations were particularly confusing since the U.S. government has supported the Egyptian military with $1.3 billion in annual aid since the 1980s."
Lesson: in Egypt today (and probably elsewhere), the US government is not seen as a force for good--or a force for democratic principles--instead the US government is seen as "rich man" with "guns." The Egyptians don't have a clue that the US government and the western-based NGOs might share any common principles or values--so-called "western values."
Cowards | Uncrunched: "If just one of them stood up and told us what’s really going on, as the EFF has urged, we could start to have a real discussion in this country about freedom v. security. Stand up, I say, and tell us about these FISA orders. Publish them all. Tell us everything. Let us understand the true scope of the evil we are facing." (read more at link above)
Alone in a Crowd: The Problem of Linguistic Isolation in Prison : The New Yorker: " . . . . Honigsberg argues in his paper, “Alone in a Sea of Voices: Recognizing a New Form of Isolation by Language Barriers, or Linguistic Isolation,” the psychological effects of solitary confinement through linguistic isolation are largely the same as those via lock and key: impaired impulse control, an inability to concentrate or think clearly, confusion, obsessive behaviors, paranoia, and even a state resembling catatonia. A growing body of evidence suggests that a few weeks of solitary confinement for a prisoner amounts to torture. “Isolation by language barriers,” Honigsberg writes, “should be recognized as a distinct human rights abuse.” Honigsberg is the founder and director of Witness to Guantánamo, an ongoing project to record and archive interviews with former detainees. . . ." (read more at link above)
Google Bus Hate: Give It a Rest - Businessweek: " . . . Overlooked in these diatribes are the thousands of cars the coaches keep off the highways at rush hour. Or the approximately 5,000 metric tons of carbon not put into the atmosphere. In their eagerness to inveigh against evil corporations, Google bus haters also like to complain, as Eberlein does, that wealthy tech companies “invest nothing in any kind of public infrastructure to support civic life beyond their own corporate interests.” Yet last year, Google was ranked the No. 1 corporation in charitable contributions in the Bay Area, doling out $23 million to regional causes. Is it worth mentioning that Google wants to make all human knowledge available to everyone on the planet? No, it’s too much fun being outraged. Let’s make another piñata to flail at."
IRS Has a Long History of Political Abuse - Hit & Run : Reason.com: " . . . Keep in mind that the IRS isn't dangerous and politicized because it's wielded by the Obama administration. The tax agency has been abused and used against political enemies by presidents of both parties. The IRS is dangerous because of its vast, almost unaccountable powers, and the temptations those pose for politicians."