Wednesday, July 20, 2016

"Why our problems are insoluble"

By Donald Sensing

Why our problems are insoluble

"Civilizations are created by religion, and destroyed by politics."

HT: Gerard

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

This what happened in Baton Rouge this morning

By Donald Sensing

Heart stopping:

From Earlier today, President Obama made the following statement on the attack on law enforcement in Baton Rouge, LA:

"I condemn, in the strongest sense of the word, the attack on law enforcement in Baton Rouge.  For the second time in two weeks, police officers who put their lives on the line for ours every day were doing their job when they were killed in a cowardly and reprehensible assault.  These are attacks on public servants, on the rule of law, and on civilized society, and they have to stop.

"I’ve offered my full support, and the full support of the federal government, to Governor Edwards, Mayor Holden, the Sheriff’s Office, and the Baton Rouge Police Department.  And make no mistake – justice will be done.

"We may not yet know the motives for this attack, but I want to be clear:  there is no justification for violence against law enforcement.  None.  These attacks are the work of cowards who speak for no one.  They right no wrongs.  They advance no causes.  The officers in Baton Rouge; the officers in Dallas – they were our fellow Americans, part of our community, part of our country, with people who loved and needed them, and who need us now – all of us – to be at our best.

"Today, on the Lord’s day, all of us stand united in prayer with the people of Baton Rouge, with the police officers who’ve been wounded, and with the grieving families of the fallen.  May God bless them all."
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Two papers, one town

By Donald Sensing

Headlines this morning in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times on the topic of oil prices, as presented in my Google News feed:

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Tesla's controversial "autopilot"

By Donald Sensing

Retrospectively, it was a boneheaded move for Tesla to name it's driver-assist module "Autopilot." Autopilots have so far been found only on aircraft and as an airline pilot once told me, his real job is not to fly the plane but to monitor the computer systems that fly the plane. In fact, he said, once GPS came in to commercial use, a modern airliner needs only to be pointed down the runway and told to fly to the destination and it will take off, fly the programmed route, and land there without a human hand or foot on the controls.

But Tesla's autopilot is not nearly that advanced for a car. It's a semi-autopilot at best. It looks impressive, without doubt:

Lately, cars with AP (henceforth) have been involved in crashes, a few resulted in deaths. In one crash the AP (reports say) failed to distinguish between the sky and a white truck cutting into the lane ahead and so did not brake.

The BBC has reported on this problem in Britain, too. Tesla of course says that AP is not to blame, that drivers are still responsible for safe operation of the cars even with AP engaged, and that this is new technology that will get better over time. All of that is quite sensible, really, but for now Consumer Reports says that Tesla must deactivate Autopilot steering.

Here is the Tesla autopilot presskit page. What AP is designed to do is:

  1. Maintain driver-set speed with a cruise control that automatically adjusts speed to account for traffic ahead.
  2. Maintain the car's position in the lane by steering itself. 
  3. Change lanes with the driver doing nothing but activating the turn-signal lever, and the car will wait until its sensors tell it the move is safe.
  4. Parallel park itself when directed by the driver. 
The car will not navigate itself; it has GPS but Tesla has not announced that the GPS interacts with the AP. Tesla's page does not say so, but one assumes it will auto-brake to all the way stop to avoid a collision.

This is certainly new technology in the automotive world, but not Tesla's alone. I drive a 2016 Honda Accord equipped with Honda Sensing (how could I pass that up?) and at a far lesser cost that car does much, but not all, that the Tesla does

That's not me, btw.

Honda Sensing offers lane-keeping assistance, not auto steering. I have found that on the interstate there is no curve that the car will not steer itself through, even at the speed limit (or higher, but I didn't say that). On other roads it will auto-steer curves depending on the car's speed and the sharpness of the curve, usually no more than half the time. Even with this feature turned off, the car still warns me if the car starts creeping toward the other lane.

Honda Sensing does have adaptive cruise control, same as Tesla's. And the Honda package also has auto-braking (with brake warnings to the driver) and avoidance of running off the road. The Accord does not park itself, though.

But ISTM the main difference between Honda Sensing and Tesla's Autopilot is that the Honda's system goes limp if the driver fails to hold onto the steering wheel. When the Honda's sensors detect no hands on the wheel for a number of seconds (I have not timed it, but I'd say 5-7) then a bright "Steering Required" warning lights up and the activated Sensing systems cease operation. The car still runs, mind, but all the driver assistance systems stop (except I presume auto-braking, but I am not willing to test it!) That's what Consumer Reports says must be modified on every Tesla AP-equipped car, that the AP require the driver's hands on the wheel to operate.

Tesla has announced that its AP was never intended to relieve the driver of actually driving the car, only of operating the basic controls all the time. But that is what calling it "autopilot" strongly implies. One fatality, a former Navy SEAL, is reported to have been watching a movie behind the wheel instead of driving it.

I strongly endorse Honda Sensing if you get a Honda. Other makers have similar systems with other names. Only Tesla calls it an autopilot. But it's not. Don't let a computer drive your car.

Update: This is a good video about the tech features of the 2016 Accord, too, including its full integration with your smartphone via Apple Play or Android Auto.

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Apple Computers to be sold like Glocks

By Donald Sensing

In the memorial to the slain Dallas police officers, President Obama said,

Outraged at this unacceptable situation, Apple Computer CEO Tim Cook announced that beginning Aug. 1, all teenagers and adult customers of Apple computers and devices will be able to buy Apple products as easily as they can buy a Glock pistol.

"It will be very simple," said Cook after touring the Glock factory in Smyrna, Ga. "From now on Apple products will be sold to teenagers using the same criteria used for them to buy a Glock. It's only fair and I am sure the president will agree."

Apple's press release summarized the new purchasing rules as follows:
  1. No straw purchases: Any person who attempts to solicit, persuade, encourage, or entice any Apple dealer to transfer or otherwise convey an Apple product other than to the actual buyer, as well as any other person who willfully and intentionally aids or abets such person, shall be not be allowed. 
  2. Furnishing a computer to a Minor - No Apple dealer will sell or give an Apple product to a person under 18 years old. All purchasers must sign a statement before the sale that they will not sell, give or otherwise transfer the computer to a Minor.
  3. Apple dealers must complete and have the buyer sign Apple Form 4473, Computer Transaction Record. 
  4. The dealer must verify the identity of the buyer through a government–issued photo identification. 
  5. No Apple product will be sold to any person who is not a legal resident of the state where the sale occurs. Purchases may be made online but the product must be personally picked up by the buyer in the buyer's legal state of residence. Before transferring the computer to the buyer, all procedures stated herein must be in compliance.
  6. No Apple device may be sold to any person who has previously been convicted of or previously entered a guilty plea to one or more of the offenses of murder, armed robbery, kidnapping, rape, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sodomy, aggravated sexual battery, or any felony involving the use or possession of a computer and who shall have on or within arm's reach of his or her person a computer during the commission of, or the attempt to commit:
    1. Any crime against or involving the person of another;The unlawful entry into a building or vehicle;
    2. A theft from a building or theft of a vehicle;
    3. Any crime involving the possession, manufacture, delivery, distribution, dispensing, administering, selling, or possession with intent to distribute any controlled substance
    4. Any crime involving the trafficking of cocaine, marijuana, or illegal drugs.
  7. The dealer must contact local law-enforcement offices (LEO) to ensure that the buyer is not disqualified from buying or possessing a computer. A dealer may not transfer a computer unless the dealer receives a “proceed” response, or three business days have elapsed since the dealer contacted the law enforcement office. A dealer may not sell a device when a “denied” response is issued by LEO.
"These are only common-sense measures," Mr. Cook said, "and they will make sure that every teenager, especially in Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore and other Democrat-administered cities in America, will find it no  more difficult to get their hands on an iPhone or MacBook Pro than on a Glock." 

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Hillary's lies

By Donald Sensing

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Monday, July 11, 2016

The greatest sin today ...

By Donald Sensing

... "is a refusal to end each sentence with a question mark."

Young people today are very reluctant to assume that anything is certain, and this reluctance is revealed in their language. In any matter where there might be disagreement, they will put a question mark at the end of the sentence. And to reinforce the posture of neutrality they will insert words that function as disclaimers, among which the favourite is ‘like’. You might be adamant that the Earth is spherical, but they will suggest instead that the Earth is, ‘like, spherical?’

Whence came this ubiquitous hesitation? As I understand the matter, it has much to do with the new ideology of non-discrimination. Modern education aims to be ‘inclusive’, and that means not sounding too certain about anything in case you make people who don’t share your beliefs feel uncomfortable. Indeed, even calling them ‘beliefs’ is slightly suspect. The correct word is ‘opinions’. If you try to express your certainties in a classroom today you are apt to be looked at askance, not because you are wrong, but because of the strangeness of being certain about anything and the even greater strangeness of wanting to impart your certainties to others. The person with certainties is the excluder, the one who disrespects the right we all have to form our own ‘opinions’ about what matters.

However, as soon as inclusiveness itself is questioned, freedom is cast aside. Students seem to be as prepared as they ever were to demand that ‘no platform’ be given to people who speak or think in the wrong way. Speaking or thinking in the wrong way does not mean disagreeing with the beliefs of the students — for they have no beliefs. It means thinking as though there really is something to think — as though there really is a truth that we are trying to reach, and that it is right, having reached it, to speak with certainty. What we might have taken to be open-mindedness turns out to be no-mindedness: the absence of beliefs, and a negative reaction to all those who have them. The greatest sin is a refusal to end each sentence with a question mark.
Universities’ war against truth | Spectator Life

Update, courtesy Hal D., via email:

Typography from Ronnie Bruce on Vimeo.

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Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Clinton Contamination - Maureen Dowd brings down the hammer

By Donald Sensing

The Clinton Contamination - The New York Times


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El Paso Police Chief: BLM is a hate group

By Donald Sensing

From KVIA TV news:

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen referred to "Black Lives Matter" as a "radical hate group. ... The consequences of what we saw in Dallas is due to their efforts."

Which is no doubt exactly why ...

MINNEAPOLIS – The Democratic National Committee passed a resolution Friday afternoon supporting the Black Lives Matter movement at the party’s summer meeting. 
Of course!

Update: BLM kicks the DNC to the curb.
“A resolution signaling the Democratic National Committee’s endorsement that Black lives matter, in no way implies an endorsement of the DNC by the Black Lives Matter Network, nor was it done in consultation with us,” the Black Lives Matter Network wrote in a statement Sunday.

“We do not now, nor have we ever, endorsed or affiliated with the Democratic Party, or with any party. The Democratic Party, like the Republican and all political parties, have historically attempted to control or contain Black people’s efforts to liberate ourselves,” the statement continues. “True change requires real struggle, and that struggle will be in the streets and led by the people, not by a political party.”
Update: How Many People Have To Die Because Of The #BlackLivesMatter Movement?
“Pigs In A Blanket, Fry 'Em Like Bacon!” – Chant at a #Blacklivesmatter protest in Minnesota

“What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want it? Now!” – Chant by "Million Marchers" in New York City

The whole Black Lives Matter Movement is pure crap designed to help liberals get their names out there and to increase black turnout in elections for the Democratic Party.

It’s a movement funded by liberal white Americans like the Ben and Jerry’s Foundation and supported primarily by privileged black liberals that does nothing but produce a bigger body count.
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Friday, July 8, 2016

But What Law Did Hillary Break?

By Donald Sensing

But What Law Did She Break? » John C. Wright's Journal

A lawyer explains.

18 U.S. Code s. 793 – Gathering, transmitting or losing defense information reads at paragraph (f):

“Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information, relating to the national defense, (1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, or or (2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer—Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.”

Please note that merely by taking State Department emails into her possession and retaining them after her stint as Secretary was done, she is a felon. The security level of those emails is immaterial. Removal from its proper place of custody of even one is sufficient.

There are separate statutes concerning the destruction of subpoenaed documents, obstruction of justice, lying under oath, and so on.

Back in the last century, when one had to go to the law library in the court house to look up a Federal statute, ignorance of the law, while being no excuse legally, was not necessarily willful. Now, you can find the law on several websites at the touch of a button. Hence, such ignorance is not excusable.

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