Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Time to End Birthright Citizenship

Donald Trump took a lot of heat when he announced his candidacy for President, stating that he would build a border fence from San Diego to Brownsville and make Mexico pay for it, all to keep Mexico’s “unwanted” and “undesirables” from flooding the United States. In August 2015, on the campaign trail, he shed light on a flawed interpretation of the U.S. Constitution that has caused much of the problem of illegal immigration.
That misinterpretation of the 14th Amendment, written to guarantee the citizenship rights of freed slaves after the Civil War, has morphed the amendment into a guarantee of birthright citizenship. Merely being born on American soil is said to make you a U.S. citizen. Sneak past the U.S. Border Patrol, have your baby, and you not only have a U.S. citizen but what is called an “anchor baby” allowing you to stay and bring others in under the banner of family reunification.
During the campaign, Trump correctly called the flawed concept of birthright citizenship the “biggest magnet” for illegal immigration. He would end it, and as for family reunification, Trump is all for it, just saying it should happen on the other side of the U.S.-Mexico border. As the New York Post reported:
Trump described his expanded vision of how to secure American borders during a wide-ranging interview Sunday on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” and in a position paper he later released, saying that he would push to end the constitutionally protected citizenship rights of children of any family living illegally inside the US.
“They have to go,” Trump said. “What they’re doing, they’re having a baby. And then all of a sudden, nobody knows... the baby’s here.”
Birthright citizenship is the exception and not the rule worldwide. Even our European brethren, as fond as they are of refugees and open borders, do not embrace it. As Liz Peek writes on FoxNews.com, birthright citizenship is indeed a big magnet for illegal immigration:
The United States is one of only two developed countries in the world that still bestows citizenship on every person born on our nation’s soil. Having a child become a U.S. citizen is the greatest reward possible for someone who enters the country illegally. Such status is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in free education and benefits, not to mention the incalculable value of our country’s security and freedoms. Historically, there was bipartisan enthusiasm for dumping this program; even Democrat Harry Reid had proposed its termination.
The costs of birthright citizenship are staggering, especially when you consider the costs of what is called “chain migration. Once of age, the baby born here can sponsor others. It has even given rise to what is called “birth tourism” where pregnant women are brought to the United States, ostensibly as tourists, to give birth here and have their child dubbed an American citizen by birth As Ian Tuttle writes in National Review:
Peter and Ellie Yang,” the subjects of Benjamin Carlson’s fascinating new Rolling Stone essay, “Welcome to Maternity Hotel California,” paid $35,000 to have their second child in the United States. In 2012 Chinese state media reported 10,000 “tourist births” by Chinese couples in the United States; other estimates skew as high as 60,000
The cost of this is not negligible. Inflation-adjusted figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture projected that a child born in 2013 would cost his parents $304,480 from birth to his eighteenth birthday. Given that illegal-alien households are normally low-income households (three out of five illegal aliens and their U.S.-born children live at or near the poverty line), one would expect that a significant portion of that cost will fall on the government…
There are long-term costs, too. U.S.-born children of illegal aliens can sponsor the immigration of family members once they come of age. At 18, an “anchor baby” can sponsor an overseas spouse and unmarried children of his own; at 21, he can sponsor parents and siblings…
Trump said he would end birthright citizenship and critics have said that the task, even if justified, is well nigh impossible, requiring amending the U.S. Constitution. In reality, it may not require altering the 14th Amendment -- only correctly interpreting it -- perhaps through clarifying legislation.
The Fourteenth Amendment, passed, on July 3, 1866, reads, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” This was done, again, to guarantee the citizenship rights of freed slaves, not illegal aliens. The 1857 Dred Scott decision held that no black, not even a freed black, could be considered a citizen.
In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee in October, 2008, John C. Eastman, a law professor at Chapman University and a fellow at the Claremont Institute, argued that illegal aliens are still foreign nationals and are not subject to U.S. jurisdiction, except for purposes of deportation, and therefore their children born on American soil should not be automatically considered U.S. citizens.
During debate on the Fourteenth Amendment, Sen. Jacob Merritt Howard of Michigan added jurisdiction language specifically to avoid accident of birth being the sole criteria for citizenship. And if citizenship was determined just by place of birth, why did it take an act of Congress in 1922 to give American Indians birthright citizenship, if they already had citizenship by birthright under the14th Amendment?        
Rep. John Bingham of Ohio, who is regarded as the father of the 14th Amendment, said it meant that “every human being born within the jurisdiction of the United States of parents not owing allegiance to any foreign sovereignty is, in the language of your constitution itself. A natural born citizen…”
Rep. Nathan Deal of Georgia sought to clarify the situation through HR. 698 the Citizenship Reform Act of 2005, which would have amended the Immigration and Nationality Act to deny automatic citizenship to children born of the United States of parents who are not U.S. citizens or are not permanent resident aliens.
HR. 698 declared: "It is the purpose of this Act to deny automatic citizenship at birth to children born in the United States to parents who are not citizens or permanent resident aliens." The bill undertook to clarify "subject to the jurisdiction of the United States" to the meaning originally intended by Congress in the14th Amendment.
The current interpretation of birthright citizenship may in fact have been a huge mistake and given the burden illegal aliens have imposed on our welfare, educational, and health care systems as well as through increased crime on our legal system, a very costly one.  

There may be hope of correctly interpreting the 14th Amendment through a court case as President Trump reshapes the courts, particularly the Supreme Court, with justices of a more “originalist” bent. As noted, the misinterpretation could be corrected through clarifying legislation. We can correct it judicially or legislatively and we should. Donald Trump was right -- becoming a U.S. citizen should require more than your mother successfully sneaking past the U.S. Border Patrol.

Stable Genius? Sorry Democrats, But This Is How China Views Trump’s Foreign Policy

To Democrats, Donald Trump is reckless. He’s a moron. He’s threatening to blow up the U.S. economy through trade wars and renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. He’s says other nations have stripped us of our wealth. He’s goes off half-cocked on Twitter. In short, the man is unstable and will lead us into nuclear World War III. Sadly, that’s not how the East views the president. In fact, they’re view him as a “master tactician” that’s trying to buck the old order and reassert American primacy in the process. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NAFTA, and the World Trade Organization get in the way of that.  By casting them aside, with the U.S. still the top dog in the world, Trump can reassert American power on the international scene, according to Mark Leonard, director of the European Council on Foreign Relations.
Leonard spoke with numerous officials and members of the Chinese elite, some of them high-level, who are more wary of what they see as Trump’s “creative destruction.” He also said the people he spoke noted that Trump is the first president to attack China economically, military, and on the basis of ideology. They also viewed his Helsinki presser with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which many viewed as a low point in the administration, with the hysterical view being that it was treasonous, as Kissinger-esque in the sense that Trump is using Russia to isolate China. In 1972, Nixon opening the door was a brilliant geopolitical move that boxed in the Soviet Union. One billion people then viewed the USSR as an enemy. Yet, China is also making moves to counter this trend (via Financial Times):
In Chinese eyes, Mr Trump’s response is a form of “creative destruction”. He is systematically destroying the existing institutions — from the World Trade Organization and the North American Free Trade Agreement to Nato and the Iran nuclear deal — as a first step towards renegotiating the world order on terms more favourable to Washington.
My interlocutors say that Mr Trump is the US first president for more than 40 years to bash China on three fronts simultaneously: trade, military and ideology. They describe him as a master tactician, focusing on one issue at a time, and extracting as many concessions as he can. They speak of the skilful way Mr Trump has treated President Xi Jinping. “Look at how he handled North Korea,” one says. “He got Xi Jinping to agree to UN sanctions [half a dozen] times, creating an economic stranglehold on the country. China almost turned North Korea into a sworn enemy of the country.” But they also see him as a strategist, willing to declare a truce in each area when there are no more concessions to be had, and then start again with a new front.
For the Chinese, even Mr Trump’s sycophantic press conference with Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, in Helsinki had a strategic purpose. They see it as Henry Kissinger in reverse. In 1972, the US nudged China off the Soviet axis in order to put pressure on its real rival, the Soviet Union. Today Mr Trump is reaching out to Russia in order to isolate China.
In the short term, China is talking tough in response to Mr Trump’s trade assault. At the same time they are trying to develop a multiplayer front against him by reaching out to the EU, Japan and South Korea. But many Chinese experts are quietly calling for a rethink of the longer-term strategy. They want to prepare the ground for a new grand bargain with the US based on Chinese retrenchment. Many feel that Mr Xi has over-reached and worry that it was a mistake simultaneously to antagonise the US economically and militarily in the South China Sea.
China is one of our biggest geopolitical rivals. Is this a bad course of action? No, but Trump will never be given the credit. Instead, we’ll focus on how he hurt some European leader’s feelings and go into hysterics over that, among 10,000 other tiny, irrelevant things he does because that’s how our anti-Trump news media is as of late. But across the vast gulf of the Pacific, our enemies, rivals, competitors, or whatever you want to call them, have a much higher opinion of Trump’s intelligence and capability as a leader. They view him as an effective tactician. They view him as a threat, not based on his tweets, but in what he’s reportedly trying to do. How Trump can accomplish this long-term goal would require swamp draining for sure, but it also shows that Democrats, so blinded by hate, are missing one helluva show that could be in production in East Asia. 

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Why Funko Pop is really stupid collectable (I collect videogames)

On the weekend we went to a collector’s fair. My primary goal was to buy Lego characters, but we put aside a couple of hours to browse through all the stalls, checking out the retro action figures, the collectable merchandise, the indie games and art stalls, looking for anything that fits one of my collections or had enough nostalgic value to put on display in my theatre. I got an old Usagi Yojimbo action figure for $5, that was cool. One thing we absolutely did not do, however, was stop at the Funko Pop Vinyl figure stalls.
usagi yojimbo tmnt figure
I don’t think I have to explain why this was important.
It wasn’t a huge market, it took up the space of two indoor basketball courts. That’s pretty good for a city this size. There were, at a rough estimate, about 50 stalls set up. And at least five or six of those were completely dedicated to Pop Vinyls. So they accounted for at least 10% of stalls at the fair, and those are just the ones dedicated to the product – not the ones that included them with their other stock.
I love collecting things. I always have a number of different collections going at one time. Right now it’s Arkham villain actions figures, Lego collectible Mini-Figs, Harley Quinn statues, autographs, expansion packs for the Marvel Legendary board game and Discworld books. It’s almost irrelevant what the collection it is, I just enjoy the ‘game’ of collecting. Sometimes I’ll get bored with a collection and sell it, putting the money towards a new collection. You’d think something like Funko Pop Vinyl figures would be my jam. But I won’t touch them.
Why not?
If It’s Marketed as a Collectable, It Isn’t
What makes something worth collecting? There’s a range of reasons. It’s of personal interest to you, it’s part of a set, you’re a completist, it’s an investment…but I don’t consider something to be a collectable because it has ‘collectable’ written on the box. To take an example, let’s look at Marvel comics in the early 1990s. Every time they launched a new title, series or spin-off they’d put in it a polybag or put some shiny ink on the front cover. It did nothing to enhance the product content, but the market research had shown that such packaging attracted attention on the newsstand leading to more sales. So they’d pump out extra copies, jack up the price and market them as ‘collectable special editions’, the implication being that they’d carry more resale value and be harder to get. The opposite was true – the market was saturated and everyone had a copy. With only a small number of collectors available there was no market for reselling them. Their initial forays into this scheme was Spider-Man #1 and X-Force #1, which were the biggest selling comics at the time. It was reported that copies were still on the shelves months after the release because they’d been overstocked. Marvel, being more interested in the bottom line, turned this trick time and time again over the next decade or two with ‘collector’ cards, hologram covers, extra covers and whatever else being slapped on every second issue.
“Welp, that’s all three…time to tell my boss to cram it and retire!”
Pop Vinyl does the same thing, claiming that every product is a ‘collectable’ and citing limited copies and special editions. Aside from the conventions exclusives, the implication is again that they ship in limited numbers. The reality is that they get shipped to retailers in lots of 36, so that each of the thousands and thousands of stores stocking these damned things are going to have a decent number of each available. Why do you think there are always a whole wall of them?
Ah, but there’s the ‘chase’ copy. In every lot of 36 is one slightly different one, possibly with a different paint on them. How can you identify them? Easy. There’s a big sticker on the front telling you it’s the ‘chase’ version. Well, that makes for an exciting game doesn’t it? You can all rush down to the store and be the first to find the ‘chase’ version! Except you won’t, because most retailers buy it themselves for their own collection or chuck it on ebay at a huge mark up. As one online guide put it, “seeing them in the wild is very rare”.
Like gold!
These items are only considered collectable because they get marketed that way, and some are harder to find by design. To most collectors the rare items are rare because of an accident in production or an external factor. The hardest to find Star Wars figures, a popular collectable, are rare because of changes to the design early in production such as the Jawa with a vinyl cloak rather than cloth, or it was produced for a small market such as the 1988 figure ‘Vlix’ that was only released in Brazil. These are more interesting rarities than something that the producer has limited numbers of simply to artificially inflate the value.
Ah Vlix, you beautiful bastard.
In short, Funko takes the fun out of collecting by creating a fake collectors market for profit. They’re not making these out of passion for the medium or for the artistry of creation, it’s only about the bank balance.
There’s No End to the Set
I like to complete a set. It’s the most satisfying part of collecting. You get the last, rare item, add it to the display and look for the next challenge. But you will never be able to complete a set of Pop Vinyls because they are endless. They release more and more every month. So maybe you don’t want every single one, maybe just the one type like DC characters. That’s a smaller amount but you’re still looking at a lot of variations of the same characters. There are, at the time of writing, 17 different versions of Stan Lee.
stan lee pop vinyl
How can I live with myself if I don’t own the slight variation from that Australian convention!
There’s No Resell Value
Sure, you can find expensive, ‘rare’ Pop Vinyls on ebay. And maybe you’ve got one that might fetch you $30 if you sold it. But don’t believe the myth that buying them is going to be an investment. They’re not going to increase in value as time goes on and the number of buyers is going to go down. That’s because they are going to keep making more and more sets every year and everyone is going to get bored.
We know this is going to happen because it happened 20 years ago with Beanie Babies. People, some smart people with a history of making good investments, bought them up as they were marketed as ‘collectables’. Suddenly the bubble burst, interest dried up and nobody would buy them. Some could argue that they’re still rare and worth something for that, but you’d be pressed to find a buyer. At best you’ll end up an online joke like the divorcing couple who had to be supervised by a judge while they sat on the courtroom floor and divided up their Beanie Baby collection.
Still funny.
When you grow bored with your collectable misshapen figures you’re going to have two options: pack them up in a box and let them gather dust dreaming of the day they’re worth selling again, or chucking them into the bin where they will add to the ever-increasing landfills of the world.
They Have No Secondary Use
Call me crazy, but I prefer collectables that do something. I have a huge collection of cards for Marvel Legendary but they make up a really awesome deck-building board game I play with friends. Lego bought for a collection of Lego Dimension figurines can be passed on the younger generation to add to their Lego cities. Even those ‘collectable’ Marvel comics we mentioned earlier can be read, or carries some artistic merit (not X-Force #1, obviously – it’s drawn by Rob Liefeld). Pop Vinyls do less than nothing. They take up shelf space and gather dust. I’m not going to argue that my Arkham action figures do much more, but at least they’re posable or could be played with. Pop Vinyls aren’t in any way articulate. I also have a couple of statuettes of Harley Quinn, my favourite villain, that just sit on the shelf and gather dust, but there’s something that separates them from Pop Vinyls…
They Don’t Look Good
Now this is going to be subject to personal opinion – but they are damned ugly. They’re squat, misshapen, expressionless dead-eyed lumps of plastic. The assumption is that the giant head and big eyes make them cute, but they’re not. The limited appeal might be seeing certain characters like Walter White or Superman reduced to this state, but the novelty wears off after a billion iterations of the same thing. Comparing the Harley Quinn version of the series, which features the same interchangeable faceless design of the entirety of the series…
Wow, for a moment I thought I was looking at a photo of a real person.
…to one of the aforementioned and poorly photographed Harley Quinn statues, which is an artistically designed figure made in porcelain that captures the personality of the character.
Harley statue
It may cost more, but it stands out because there aren’t tens of thousands of copies in homes and shops across the world. And it looks good. If I’m going to have something that sits next to my comic collection and does nothing, I’d much rather this. It’s been on display in this house for years, and will continue to be here whilst Pop Vinyls all end up like this:

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Mysterious Void Discovered in Egypt's Great Pyramid

Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza—one of the wonders of the ancient world, and a dazzling feat of architectural genius—contains a hidden void at least a hundred feet long, scientists announced on Thursday.
The space’s dimensions resemble those of the pyramid’s Grand Gallery, the 153-foot-long, 26-foot-tall corridor that leads to the burial chamber of Khufu, the pharaoh for whom the pyramid was built.
However, it remains unclear what lies within the space, what purpose it served, or if it’s one or multiple spaces.
Ancient Egypt 101
The void is the first large inner structure discovered within the 4,500-year-old pyramid since the 1800s—a find made possible by recent advances in high-energy particle physics. The results were published in the journal Nature.
“This is definitely the discovery of the century,” says archaeologist and Egyptologist Yukinori Kawae, a National Geographic Emerging Explorer. “There have been many hypotheses about the pyramid, but no one even imagined that such a big void is located above the Grand Gallery.”
Secret room found
in the Great Pyramid
Thanks to the use of muon radiography, a technique that uses cosmic rays to detect cavities in massive structures, scientists have discovered a large, previously unknown opening within the Great Pyramid of Khufu. The cavity has a cross section similar to the Grand Gallery, the major corridor running through the pyramid, and is at least a hundred feet long.
Statue of Liberty
of Khufu
Nuclear emulsion
and a scintillator
Gas detector
Great Pyramid
of Khufu
Top view
Great Pyramid
of Khufu
Side view
New cavity
Grand Gallery
New cavity
Subterranean chamber


The findings mark the latest in a millennia-long quest to understand the Great Pyramid of Giza, long an object of mystery and intrigue.
The pyramid was built some 4,500 years ago during the Fourth Dynasty of ancient Egypt’s Old Kingdom. At that time, Egypt was a powerful, highly centralized monarchy, wealthy from trade and Nile-nourished agriculture.
The Great Pyramid is arguably the ultimate expression of that power. The pharaoh Khufu, who reigned from 2509 to 2483 B.C., built for himself a pyramid whose base spreads across more than 13 acres and originally towered 479 feet tall. The monument consists of about 2.3 million limestone blocks, which had to be quarried, transported, cut to size, and moved into place. (Read more about the extraordinary Pyramids of Giza.)
“These sorts of pyramids are the major product, so to speak, of the kings who built them,” says Kate Spence, a University of Cambridge archaeologist who studies ancient Egypt. “An awful lot of Egyptian society is probably geared toward building pyramids at this particular time.”
Ever since, the Great Pyramid has drawn in the curious; today, tourists enter the pyramid through a tunnel created in the ninth century A.D. The National Geographic Society has helped conduct two explorations of the pyramid, including a 2002 exploration of the “air shafts” extending out one of the pyramid’s three chambers.
3-D Technology Offers Clues to How Egypt’s Pyramids Were Built Archeologist Yukinori Kawae is leading an interdisciplinary approach to studying the Egyptian pyramids by combining computer science, 3-D data, and the latest technology to help decode how and why the pyramids were built.


The new discovery comes out of the ScanPyramids project, an international mission under the authority of Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities. Launched in October 2015, the project aims to non-invasively peer into Egypt’s largest pyramids using a battery of technologies.
Previously, ScanPyramids had announced the detection of some intriguing voids and anomalies, which didn’t come necessarily as a surprise. Spence says that the pyramids’ interiors are far more pockmarked and rubbly than people usually imagine.
But the new void definitely came as a surprise—and arguably marks the biggest-ever discovery yielded by muon radiography, an imaging technique first demonstrated in Giza’s pyramids.
“It’s a striking discovery,” says Chris Morris, a physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and expert on muon imaging techniques. “This makes another muon radiographer jealous, I’m jealous. These guys have discovered a remarkable thing.”
The technique, which has been used to peer through cathedral walls, Mayan pyramids, and even volcanoes, relies on the natural drizzle of subatomic particles called muons.
These particles shower Earth all the time, flung off when cosmic rays—high-energy particles racing through our galaxy—collide with Earth’s upper atmosphere. (If you’re reading this story on your smartphone, six muons will have harmlessly passed through this screen by the time you finish this sentence.)
While we can’t see muons with the naked eye, scientists can spot them with special films and detectors that trace their 3-D paths. Since muons pass more easily through empty space than through solid materials, arranging multiple muon detectors in and around a structure lets scientists map the structure’s solid and empty parts.
“What’s so delightful is that [muons] are like Goldilocks: They lose enough [energy] to detect them but not so much that they just get absorbed in the target,” says University of Texas at Austin particle physicist Roy Schwitters, who uses muons to study Belize’s Mayan pyramids. “They’re really a fabulous treat from nature.”While We Sleep, Our Mind Goes on an Amazing Journey
In the Great Pyramid’s case, a team led by Nagoya University physicist Kunihiro Morishima placed muon detectors inside the pyramid starting in December 2015, letting them collect data for months.
Morishima’s first results came in March 2016—and to researchers’ surprise, they suggested that a region deep in the pyramid’s interior let many more muons through than they had been expecting. These “excess” muons seemed to trace a 100-foot-long cavity with a cross-section resembling the Grand Gallery.
Two additional teams from KEK, a Japanese particle-physics research group, and CEA, France’s Atomic Energy Commission, worked from August 2016 to July 2017 to confirm Morishima’s work. Each team used a different method for spotting muons.
In each experiment, the researchers saw a signal for the void that achieved at least a five-sigma level of statistical significance, which means that there’s less than a one-in-a-million chance that any one experiment was a fluke. This same level of evidence is required when discovering new subatomic particles like the Higgs boson.
The seemingly empty region, which the researchers neutrally call “the void,” is at least a hundred feet long. Its purpose remains unclear; researchers are cautiously avoiding the word “chamber” for the time being.
“We don’t know for the moment if it’s horizontal or inclined, [or] if it is made from one structure or several successive structures,” said study coauthor Mehdi Tayoubi, president and cofounder of the Heritage Innovation Presentation (HIP) Institute, in a press briefing. “What we do know is that this void is there, that it is impressive, [and] that it was not expected by any kind of theory.”
Tayoubi and his colleagues stress that they don’t know what the void is—but already, Egyptologists have some initial ideas for what it might be.
Spence, the Cambridge archaeologist, says that the void may be a leftover from the Great Pyramid’s construction. She points out that massive blocks weighing tens of tons form the roof of the chambers above the King’s Chamber, the central room where Khufu was laid to rest.
Since the void aligns with the Great Pyramid’s upper chambers, which were put there to relieve pressure on the King’s Chamber below, Spence suggests that the void may have been an internal ramp used to move the massive roof blocks into place. As construction continued, she says, this ramp could have been left empty or loosely backfilled.
“It’s the position of [the void] that to me makes this interpretation the most likely,” says Spence. “It’s too well placed for getting blocks into place up there.”
Salima Ikram, an Egyptologist at the American University in Cairo, says that the void’s location directly above the Grand Gallery might imply its involvement in that corridor’s construction. That said, she wryly suggests taking current interpretations with a grain of salt.
“I don’t think it’s ever too early to speculate, but you might be widely wrong,” she says.
Time will tell whether these or other ideas about the void’s purpose pan out. Tayoubi and other ScanPyramids collaborators say that work is only beginning.
And to those fantasizing about personally exploring the void, a word of caution. No known corridors connect to the space, and researchers and outside experts alike stress that there are no future plans to drill into the void. Instead, they say that in the near-term, they will do whatever they can to peer into the space non-invasively.

“There’s lots of heavy, thick rock, and by drilling something, you don’t know how you will affect the entire thing,” says Ikram. “If there’s something behind the Mona Lisa, would you want to wipe her clean and see what’s behind her? You really have to preserve the integrity of the monument.”

Friday, July 27, 2018

Nerds: Why are otherwise extremely intelligent people so lacking in social skills?

“Normal” people have “tact filters” over their mouths, so anything that comes out of their mouth would be non-offensive to another human being. Thus “normal” people can converse with anyone and not get offended.
Nerds have tact filters over their ears. Thus, no matter what is being said or how offensive it is, it gets filtered prior to them hearing it, and thus they don’t find anything being said to be offensive. Two nerds can be in a room saying anything they want to each other, and neither one will be offended.

The problem arises when a nerd is talking to a “normal” person. The words coming out of the “normal” person’s mouth are filtered, and filtered again by the nerd’s ears, so the nerd does not get offended by what the “normal” person says. However, since the words coming out of the nerd’s mouth are unfiltered (and offensive), and the words going into the “normal” person’s ears are unfiltered, the “normal” person gets offended. That’s where the problem arises.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Cultural Marxism is at the Heart of Our Moral Disintegration

I had thought Jennifer Roback Morse was getting to the heart of the matter when she pivoted to a focus on the victims of the Sexual Revolution. Her undoubtedly correct view is that gay so-called “marriage” did not start with the gays; rather, the Sexual Revolution prepared the ground beginning in the 1960s.
In The Devil’s Pleasure Palace (Encounter Books), Michael Walsh explains there is something even more fundamental at the heart of the matter, and the Sexual Revolution is only part of it. What lay at the heart of the matter are Cultural Marxism, Critical Theory and the institute that spawned them, the Institute for Social Research, commonly known as the Frankfurt School.
You know these better than you think. In fact, their ideas are coursing not only through all of society, but through your own veins whether you know it or not.
Consider first psychiatrist William Reich, the man who, in 1936, coined the term “sexual revolution” in a book of the same name. Reich was a crackpot of the first order. Eventually even his Freudian colleagues avoided him like the plague. All his books had to be privately published. Quite simply, Reich was sex-mad and very likely insane. Even his photograph in Wikipedia makes him look like an inveterate masturbator. He massaged his nude patients and in 1920s Catholic Vienna advocated contraceptives, abortion, and divorce.
The Devil's Pleasure PalaceReich wanted to reconcile psychoanalysis with Marxism and believed that economic Marxism would fail because of the repressed sexuality of the proletariat.
Reich was a paid up member of the Frankfurt School who eventually made his way to the United States, where he invented an orgasm machine later mocked as the “orgasmitron” by sex-mad Woody Allen in his movie Sleeper. He later died in prison after conning people into buying his hilarious machine. The Food and Drug Administration actually burned several tons of his books.
 According to Michael Walsh, Reich was one of the most influential members of the Frankfurt School. How influential? During the student riots of 1968 in Paris and Berlin, students threw copies of his book The Mass Psychology of Fascism at the cops. They scrawled his name on walls. But, more than that, the Sexual Revolution he theorized is now the common currency, the lingua franca of our age.
The Cultural Marxists of the Frankfurt School believed economic Marxism would fail because of the resistance of the working classes. They believed Marxism could only ever be achieved by undermining the institutions, all of them. They began what they called the long march through the institutions. Who would have thought even a few years ago that the Boy Scouts would go gay? The Frankfurt School would have.
Critical Theory is central to their plan. More than likely, whether you knew it or not, this is what you got in college and probably even in high school. This will sound familiar to you, as familiar as the bromides you now hear from the students at the University of Missouri. Critical Theory seeks societal transformation through the emancipation of mankind from all forms of slavery. The slavers happen to be the Church, the family, and the free market.
When you hear someone badmouthing American history that is Critical Theory. The incessant intonations against the Crusades? Critical Theory. The patriarchal family, rape culture, multiculturalism, political correctness, speech codes; all Critical Theory. The idea is to make you question everything, and in the questioning, institutions fall.
You can even hear Critical Theory in the mouth of our president, When he sneers about orthodox Christians, it comes not from his supposed love of Islam, but his training in Critical Theory and Cultural Marxism, which he learned from his own father’s bitterness, from Communist mentor Frank Marshall Davis, from his professors, and from Saul Alinsky. Obama truly is the most radical person ever to occupy the White House for he wants to tear down the institutions that have made and protected our country.
You may never have heard of some of them: Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, who were inspired by Antonio Gramsci. You may know a few of their names: Herbert Marcuse, and Eric Fromm. They were wicked men who hated Western Civilization. Most brought their poison to the United States during the Second World War, or shortly thereafter.
It is astonishing to think that this overtly Marxist institute founded to undermine Western Civilization was actually invited to move its operation to Columbia University in 1935. From this lofty perch, these men began the drip of poison into American culture.
Michael Walsh tells a highly readable tale of these men, though he does not begin in the twentieth century, and he does not focus on sociology, psychology, or the other soft sciences, but rather on art, specifically opera. He shows how the ground was prepared for the Cultural Marxists by the artistic nihilists of the nineteenth century.
Walsh was the longtime classical music critic for Time Magazine and before that the San Francisco Examiner. He has written novels, biographies, and screen plays that have been made into movies. He began writing about politics in 2007 at National Review under the name David Kahane, and under that name published a counter to Saul Alinsky called Rules for Radical Conservatives.
In case you were wondering, Walsh is a faithful Catholic who is ardently pro-life and pro-marriage, both of which he addresses in The Devil’s Pleasure Palace. He is overtly religious in this book, arguing that our struggle against Cultural Marxism is a fight against Satan himself.
Walsh understands that the US may have defeated an empire, but we did not defeat the idea. Marxism is alive and well, hale and hearty, and practically everywhere; down at the community college, the town hall, even at the Elks’ Club. It is in the air we breathe.

Walsh is not pessimistic, however. He believes Cultural Marxism is spent, but, just like the fingernails on a cadaver, may still grow, and that these people and their evil theory will continue to do damage and harm souls, and it is up to us first to recognize what is truly at the heart of the matter, and then to stop it.

EDM (Trance, house, dubstep, techno, Hi-NRG) replacing Rock music What's next?

It's hard for people around this county to comprehend that rock is going away. Country music and hiphop could be next. I was listening to EDM since 2002 like ATB, John Digweed, Sasha, Paul Oakenfold, Tiesto, Ferry Corsten, Armin Van Buuren. Long time  before the 'rock is dead' articles appeared.

9. For all of the attention paid to the ever-elusive 18-to-34 demographic, there just hasn't been enough reason over the last decade for major labels to continue chasing them, particularly those outside the standard pop market. In the 50s and 60s, this demographic was the biggest get for rock and roll, as noted by the pandemonium caused by Elvis and the Beatles. And sure, this age group is still considered the biggest overall seeker of new music, but that doesn't always translate to a consistent cash flow. And thus, simply getting the young demo to hear the new music isn't enough. So the rock industry has shifted its targets to the entrenched middle grounds, aiming to satisfy those who very rarely seek out new music, because those are the people who will really latch onto a particular band and buy the crap out of their merchandise.

8. The internet has given us many wonderful things, including more variety of entertainment than a child growing up in the 70s could have ever dreamed possible. Games, movies, and yes, music, have all had a ballooning of availability thanks to the World Wide Web. But with a seemingly endless pile of music shoved onto our laps, we're now living the curse of "the man who suddenly got everything he wanted." Except, unlike the assumption posited by Willy Wonka (er...Roald Dahl), not everyone is living happily ever after. This overwhelming abundance has made it almost impossible to sustain a decent attention span. It's become more and more difficult to really immerse yourself in any particular band, because there's always another similar-sounding band just around the digital corner, and maybe they're even a little better, and boy you'd really be remiss if you didn't at least give them a listen to compare. And it's also killed the idea of the giant, rock star world tour, because unless you're the Rolling Stones, most fans seem content to look up a clip of the concert on YouTube and call it a day.

7. Supply and demand is the basic tenant of all commerce, whether that product happens to have any artistic merit or not. And since we've already established that there is far too much new music being generated for any one band to really corner the market, that means that most of these up-and-coming bands now have to settle for a pittance. It was recently assumed (and even more recently disproved) that the best way for a new artist to get their music heard, and thus, get more money in their pockets, is by using the many facets of the digital age to their advantage. Online radio stations like Pandora, for instance, could help bands introduce themselves via similar-sounding artists. Other streaming music services such as Spotify act in a similar fashion, almost like a dating service for musicians and their possible fans. The problem is that Pandora has become increasingly influenced by the record companies, and are now filling up the bulk of their "suggestions" with already established artists. The little guys, ironically, are now finding it harder to get into the mix, which seemed to be the initial point of the service. And forget about making any real money off it even if you're lucky enough to squirm your way into their catalogues. Pandora only pays artists $0.001 per stream. (Spotify's price points are only slightly better.)

6. Touring costs have been driven up significantly over the last decade, to the point where it's becoming damn near impossible for up-and-coming bands to get their live music heard to enough people to pay for their food during the tour. That coupled with the aforementioned notion that too many younger listeners are choosing to stay in their homes and watch a bootlegged concert that someone filmed using their iPhone (who probably wasn't even paying attention to the show), on their laptop instead of going out to a show. Even if there's a small cover charge to get into the venue that's hosting a bunch of live music, much of the younger crowd scoffs at it. So now lower tier bands are finding it harder to fill the seats. Even established rock artists are finding it hard to sell out club gigs, while the perennial megastars (U2, Stones, Chili Peppers) might still be selling out arenas, they're playing shows much less frequently to raise the demand.

5. If the central argument for why it's so difficult for new rock bands to get noticed today is because there's no longer any money in it, then that's short-shrifting the idea that rock and roll was supposed to be more about art than commerce. Obviously, no one should be living in poverty for the sake of their art, which may be what they're getting at with that argument, but shouldn't the lack of big time money help weed out those who are only in it for the money? In theory, that's exactly what's happening. It just happens most of these legitimate "artists" aren't receiving any kind of notable exposure. Because there's your Catch-22: Stay true to your artistic integrity or "sell out" for more recognition. But even the lines of what constitutes a sell-out have been completely revamped in this new age. After all, what musician hasn't authorized at least a song to be used in an advertisement or a movie. It's one of the most efficient ways to earn income nowadays. But that's not to say "selling" your song to pop culture will get you noticed...

4. Unless you make music that can fit neatly into the mold of pop radio's ever-narrowing standards, you're unlikely to experience the kind of mainstream success that would make you a true star. And that's why you see fewer and fewer "rock stars" coming to the forefront--or even the middle--of the music crowd. That's not to say that some rock bands don't do very well for themselves (largely because of rigorous touring), but you'd be hard-pressed to name a true rock star that's emerged in the last couple of decades. Maybe Jack White? Truthfully, in terms of sheer popularity, the closest thing we have to a figurehead is Chris Martin. Or, possibly even worse, Adam Levine. But those guys are, at best, pop icons who occasionally dabble in rock sub-genres. They don't make traditional rock and roll.

3. The full quote from Gene Simmons about the sorry state of rock music is as long-winded as it is churlish, but here's a snippet:

    "The death of rock was not a natural death. Rock did not die of old age. It was murdered...You're better off not even learning how to play guitar or write songs, and just singing in the shower and auditioning for The X Factor... Where's the next Bob Dylan? Where's the next Beatles? Where are the songwriters?"

Well, if we're using Dylan and the Beatles as the definition of rock and roll, there's certainly no shortage of them out there. Singer-songwriter types pop up constantly, it's just rare for them to get the kind of radio play those other two examples quite frankly lucked into back in their day. But herein lies the main problem: What the hell constitutes rock and roll?

2.op rock, punk rock, soft rock, hard rock, indie rock, acid rock, garage rock, alt rock, art rock, surf rock, space rock, rap rock, skate rock, glam rock, goth rock, folk rock...there's even Viking rock. So just what the hell do people even mean when they're talking about rock and roll? It seems to be more about an attitude than any clear genre boundaries, but it's still worth exploring what types of bands usually fall into the category. We give bands like Guns N Roses and AC/DC a lifelong pass onto the hollowed grounds of rock and roll, even though their styles are closer to blues and heavy metal than the sound of Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. The fact is, there hasn't been a "pure" rock and roll band in mainstream music for a very long time. Really, ever since the first major pop-rock groups came onto the scene in the 60s (The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, etc...), rock and roll was already becoming a thing of the past.

1. Most of the time when you hear someone talking about "rock and roll," they're using it as an interchangeable term for "classic rock." That's to say, the music chosen from the album-oriented rock format from the 60s, 70s, and 80s that radio stations have decided to grant the tag of "real" rock music. But that's not even the most popular time span for rock and roll. Honest-to-goodness rock and roll exploded in the late 40s and lasted for another decade or so before getting diluted and splitting into dozens of sub-genres. Most music historians agree that the purist form the of the genre pretty much fizzled out in the waning years of the 50s. Once The Big Bopper, Richie Valens, and Buddy Holly went down in that plane crash, that was pretty much the final nail in the coffin of "traditional" rock and roll. ("The Day the Music Died" should really be called "The Day Rock and Roll Lost Its Way.) But it doesn't matter. The spirit of rock and roll has lived on in various forms ever since, even if it's not exactly the same as it used to be. So...maybe we should all stop trying to recapture something that was already lost more than 50 years ago?

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Gamestop Bankrupt soon

GameStop Corp. (NYSE:GME) is best known as a specialty video game retailer, and although the gaming industry itself has been gaining momentum in recent years, GME stock has declined steadily.
Like others in the retail space, GME is struggling because the gaming industry is shifting more toward online purchases.
While the company has been working to diversify its revenue streams and find ways to remain relevant, I think comparisons between GameStop and failed video rental company Blockbuster Inc. are valid.
GME stock is heading lower in the short-term and unless the firm is able to pull off some kind of miracle, I think it will struggle in the long-term as well.
GameStop stock has fallen 30% since I last cautioned investors against buying it, and although the firm’s quarterly results have been relatively healthy considering all of the obstacles it’s facing- I stand by my opinion- GME stock is a dud.

1. The Used Gaming Market Will Disappear

One of GameStop’s most popular offerings is the firm’s used game trade-in scheme. The store buys and sells secondhand games, which allows enthusiasts to try a larger range of products without spending as much money.
However, as more and more companies shift toward digitally delivering games, that secondhand market for physical games will dry up.
Instead, many are expecting to see console makers offering their own subscription-based plans that will allow people to try out a range of games without requiring them to pay in-full for each one individually.
Not only would that create a recurring revenue stream, but it would allow them to cut out the middle-man distributors like GameStop.
The problem for GameStop is that the secondhand market and software sales make up the majority of the firm’s sales. Last year new and used games were responsible for around 52% of GME’s sales so a sharp decline would be bad news for GameStop stock.

2. Diversifying Too Late

My colleague Luke Lango pointed to the company’s other bets as reason to stick out the tough times. He’s not wrong. GME does have some promising segments that may be able to withstand the shift toward digital.
GameStop has been making major strides in the mobile industry, and the firm’s Simply Mac business is the largest certified Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) reseller. Not only that but GME also does a great deal of hardware sales as well as accessories and collectables.
The trouble is that in order to continue building out its more profitable businesses, GME will have to rely on video game sales, something that looks very unstable right now.
It’s going to take a lot of work for GME to execute its future strategy effectively, especially if video game sales continue to decline. Hardware sales is GameStop’s least profitable segment, so depending on it to prop up a failing business is risky.
As for mobile phone and Mac sales, you almost certainly need bodies in the stores for those divisions to take-off, and right now it looks like GameStop is struggling to do that.
GME has been closing its least profitable stores in order to streamline the business and cut costs, but bottom line profitability has been declining so far this year- suggesting that the firm isn’t able to generate customer traffic in its stores.

3. The Blockbuster Effect

While you might be cheering GameStop’s efforts to step away from physical game sales and build out new aspects of its business, the firm’s latest offering (a subscription-based rental service) looks eerily like something Blockbuster might have tried to do in order to coax the public back into borrowing physical DVDs.
GameStop recently unveiled Power Pass, a game rental service that lets people borrow as many physical games as they want. Interested gamers pay $60 every 6 months and they can check-out games one-at-a-time during that period.
On the positive side, $60 is cheap for gamers who often pay that price just for a single game. If the scheme is successful, it will bring traffic to GameStop locations and give GME a new revenue stream.
But the key word there is if. Do gamers really want to travel in and out of stores to pick up physical games now that companies like Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA) offer the same sort of service online?
There’s a chance, like Lango said, that the longer-term looks good for GME stock. However that chance is pretty slim considering the headwinds GameStop is up against. Without a meaningful presence online or an in-store experience that draws in customers, GME looks unlikely to survive.