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Tuesday Night News Dump

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Source: Ben K -  Ace of Spades HQ

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I Spent Two Hours Talking With NSA Senior Officials. Here’s What Has Them Hoppin’ Mad

NSA headquarters. Image: Wikimedia Commons

They Really Hate Snowden. Really. Hate Hate Hate Him.   NSA headquarters. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Steven Levy writes:  My expectations were low when I asked the National Security Agency to cooperate with my story on the impact of Edward Snowden’s leaks on the tech industry. During the 1990s, I had been working on a book, Crypto, which dove deep into cryptography policy, and it took me years — years! — to get an interview with an employee crucial to my narrative. I couldn’t quote him, but he provided invaluable background on the Clipper Chip, an ill-fated NSA encryption runaround that purported to strike a balance between protecting personal privacy and maintaining national security.

my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives.

“…my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives...I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide…”

Oh, and I was not permitted to interview my Crypto source at the agency’s headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. I was crushed; I had grown obsessed with the vaunted triple fence surrounding the restricted area and had climactic hopes that I’d get inside. Instead, the meet occurred just outside the headquarters’ heavily guarded perimeter, at the National Cryptologic Museum. (I did buy a cool NSA umbrella in the gift shop.)

This time around, the NSA’s initial comeback was discouraging. The public relations person suggested that perhaps some unidentified officials could provide written responses to a few questions I submitted. A bit later, an agency rep indicated there was the possibility of a phone conversation. But then, rather suddenly, I was asked if I would be interested in an actual visit to meet with a few key officials. And could I do it… later that week?

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Why Texting Is Dying Out

This guy probably isn't sending a text message.(ANDREW BURTON/Getty Images)

This guy probably isn’t sending a text message.   (ANDREW BURTON/Getty Images)

  writes:  For the first time in two decades, the number of text messages sent has declined—at least in the U.K.

A Deloitte study shows that SMS (standard messaging service) messages declined by 7 billion last year, to 145 billion. Meanwhile, messages sent by instant-messaging apps have spiked dramatically. Roughly 50 billion IMs were sent in 2012, which grew to exceed 150 billion last year. IMs are expected to total nearly 300 billion this year.

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Photo: Obama Blows NYT

obama-blows-NYT

Source: nickholmes - tumblr


Millennials On The Move

Still waiting for Hope and Change... and waiting...and waiting....

Still waiting for Hope and Change… and waiting…and waiting….

Over at NROChris Beach & Alison Howard write:  Here’s a New Year’s prediction guaranteed to last longer than your new gym membership: 2014 will be the year of the millennial revolt. It will be the year that a majority of millennials become disillusioned with their allegiance to today’s liberal movement and look elsewhere for political relevance.

The shift is already under way. According to a December survey of millennials published by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, young Americans are turning on the president, his health-care law, the NSA’s domestic surveillance, and the political system in general. Only 41 percent of millennials approve of the job President Obama is doing, while 54 percent disapprove. A meager 38 percent approve of Obamacare, and 57 percent disapprove.

In many ways, the Obama administration has brought this upon itself, through its policies and its juvenile and patronizing outreach to millennials.

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Intellectual Property Fosters Corporate Concentration

Patents and copyrights are government monopoly grants with nothing in common with the notion of property at the heart of libertarianism.

  writes:  The modern libertarian case against so-called intellectual property (IP) has been building steadily since the late 1980s, when I first encountered it. Since then, an impressive volume of work has been produced from many perspectives: economics, political economy, sociology, moral and political philosophy, history, and no doubt more. It is indeed a case to be reckoned with. (Roderick Long has put together a web page with links to some of the best anti-IP material written over the last quarter century. My own contributions include “Patent Nonsense,” “Intellectual ‘Property’ Versus Real Property” and “Slave Labor and Intellectual Property.” A brief spontaneous debate that I participated in is here.)

I won’t try to recap the whole case here, but I do want to answer a question that will occur to many advocates of liberty: How can someone who supports property rights in physical objects deny property rights in intellectual products, such as the useful application of scientific principles or patterns of words, musical tones, or colors? Suffice it here to quote from “Patent Nonsense”:

There is a distinction between physical objects and ideas that is crucial to the property question. Two or more people cannot use the same pair of socks at the same time and in the same respect, but they can use the same idea — or if not the same idea, ideas with the same content. That tangible objects are scarce and finite accounts for the emergence of property rights in civilization. Considering the nature of human beings and the physical world they inhabit, if individuals are to flourish in society they need rules regarding thine and mine. But “ideal objects” are not bound by the same restrictions. Ideas can be multiplied infinitely and almost costlessly; they can be used nonrivalrously.

If I articulate an idea in front of other people, each now has his own “copy.” Yet I retain mine. However the others use their copies, it is hard to see how they have committed an injustice.

broken-bulbPractices respectful of private property in physical objects and land emerged spontaneously over millennia, embedded in customs that served to avert conflict in order to create space within which social beings could flourish. (See John Hasnas’s “Toward a Theory of Empirical Natural Rights” [PDF].)

In contrast, “rights” in ideas — patents and copyrights — were government monopoly grants having nothing in common with the notion of property at the heart of libertarianism. In fact, such artificial rights undermine genuine property by authorizing IP holders to enlist government power to stop other people from using their justly acquired resources and ideas. For example, if Jones (having committed no trespass) observes Smith’s invention or artistic creation, Jones could be legally stopped from using his own physical property in conjunction with ideas obtained through that observation. That sure looks as though IP bestows on Smith purported rights over Jones’s tangible property and even Jones himself. One might ask, Isn’t the idea Smith’s? But I can’t see how an idea in Jones’s mind can possibly be Smith’s, even if Smith had it first  — unless Smith owns Jones, an unlibertarian notion indeed.

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Dwindling Economic Freedom in the U.S.A.

unions-agit

Regulation, taxes and debt knock the U.S. out of the world’s top 10

Terry Miller writes: World economic freedom has reached record levels, according to the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom, released Tuesday by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. But after seven straight years of decline, the U.S. has dropped out of the top 10 most economically free countries.

eco-free-index

For 20 years, the index has measured a nation’s commitment to free enterprise on a scale of 0 to 100 by evaluating 10 categories, including fiscal soundness, government size and property rights. These commitments have powerful effects: Countries achieving higher levels of economic freedom consistently and measurably outperform others in economic growth, long-term prosperity and social progress. Botswana, for example, has made gains through low tax rates and political stability.

economic-jail-bondage

Those losing freedom, on the other hand, risk economic stagnation, high unemployment and deteriorating social conditions. For instance, heavy-handed government intervention in Brazil’s economy continues to limit mobility and fuel a sense of injustice.

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Johnny Depp as Doctor Strange?

johnny-depp-doctor-strange

Depp May Join Marvel’s Superhero Universe 

 reports:  It was only a matter of time before Marvel Studios started courting Johnny Depp to play one of its superheroes.

Sources have told Latino Review that the Mouse House’s main man is in very early discussions with Marvel to take on the role of eccentric magician Steven Strange in “Doctor Strange,” which the company has long been developing as a solo pic to join the ranks of its “Iron Man,” “Thor” and “Captain America” franchises. “Ant-Man” is another character it hopes to launch in 2015 as a standalone franchise around one of the comicbook company’s heroes.

While it makes sense that Marvel would want to have a conversation with Depp over how it could launch a new franchise with the thesp, sources tell Variety that such talks have yet to take place and any possibility of such a pairing is premature.

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BOOKS: A True Picture of Picasso

picasso

The acuity of TJ Clark’s thought, allied to his sweeping breadth of reference, makes him the ideal interrogator of Picasso, argues John Banville

Picasso and Truth: From Cubism to Guernica

For The Irish TimesJohn Banville writes:  At the heart of this wonderful book there is a telling passage in which the author quotes Picasso remarking to a friend that he preferred his painting The Three Dancers of 1925 to the later and more publicly ambitious Guernica.

5145gmodHbL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_“It [the Dancers] was painted as a picture, without ulterior motive,” Picasso said. Clark finds this puzzling, and wonders if the painter meant that “the work happened essentially without him”, and calls to his aid Rimbaud on alienation from the self. Surely, however, the matter is simple. The Three Dancers is a fearsome, indeed a savage, work, but it is pure painting; Guernica, for all its violence and power, was intended as a political statement as well as a work of art, and for that reason it is, essentially, kitsch.

One does not lightly lay such a charge against one of the modern world’s most revered cultural artefacts. However, artists of Picasso’s type, few though they be, are always in danger of imagining that because they have achieved critical success and earned much money and fame, they must have profound things to say about the public life of their times. The inevitable result is either fatuity or bombast, or both. Georges Braque, co-deliverer with Picasso of the coup de grâce to traditional European painting, summed up the matter when he was asked in old age for his opinion of his friend and said, “Pablo? Oh, Pablo used to be a good painter; now he’s just a genius.”

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Why the Right Shouldn’t Fear Cannabis

devils harvest

Michael Anissimov writes:  Cannabis has been legalized in Washington state and Colorado, causing apprehension among some on the right. Last August, Newt Gingrich said that general legalization would be a “huge mistake.” Chris Christie has long shown his disdain for medical marijuana, saying of a proposed law in its favor, “Here’s what the advocates want: They want legalization of marijuana in New Jersey. It will not happen on my watch, ever. I am done expanding the medical marijuana program under any circumstances.”

smoking-mad-guy-clEmily Miller at the Washington Times wrote recently that activists are “totally uneducated’ about the “severe consequences” of smoking cannabis, writing that it is “simply a toxin” which is “more similar to heroin and cocaine than alcohol in how it affects the body.”

Former Bush speechwriter David Frum has been sounding the alarm about marijuana use for years. In a September column at CNN, he implied that cannabis is harmful, but he didn’t say why.

On the other side of the issue, a number of Republicans have stepped forward in favor of legalizing marijuana. Rush Limbaugh admits that he used cannabis during his recovery from opiate addiction and says that the legalization of marijuana is “a great issue” for the GOP. Pat Robertson is famously in favor of legalization, saying “this war on drugs just hasn’t succeeded.”

In California, a majority now supports legalization, and a new law in favor of legalization is being floated. Now that support for legalization is rising nationwide, the right needs to ask itself: are we in support of legalization, or not?

jazz-adults

The critics of marijuana legalization have trouble getting their arguments straight, and oppose it based on a visceral cultural revulsion, rather than science or reason. There is no scientific evidence that marijuana is “similar to heroin and cocaine.” If anything, it is more similar to caffeine — the effects rarely last longer than 2-3 hours, and are extremely mild. The majority of users use it only occasionally, and daily addicts — if true addiction is even possible, which seems doubtful due to the way that marijuana works in the brain — will be able to get it on the black market anyway.

Alcohol causes 75,000 deaths per year, cannabis causes zero.

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Science: Vintage Cover Art of the Day

library-science

Source: Retrogasm


‘RED FRIDAY’ – The Non-Communist Version: Discount-Crazed Shoppers Rush China’s Apple Stores for Wonderful Capitalist Goodies

Photo: Jason Y. Ng

Photo: Jason Y. Ng

“It’s like a refuge camp!” wrote Jason Ng, who tweeted this photo from Hong Kong

FORTUNE —  reports:  No, these aren’t customers lining up for the launch of the iPhone at China Mobile (CHL). That event is scheduled for Jan. 17, a week from now.

These are shoppers at Apple’s (AAPL) Hong Kong store drawn by the discounts the company is offering for its second-annual Asian Red Friday sale.

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[VIDEO] Hong Kong Nipple Freak-Out Ad ‘Out-Japans Japan’: Rio Mints (Subtitled)

Rio Mints: ‘Surprisingly fruity’, as this Ogilvy & Mather spot shows.

Rio Mints Hong Kong site   –  Ogilvy & Mather site

Factoids about this ad from bestadsontv.com

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The New Age of Christian Martyrdom

Photo by Hussein Malla/AP

Photo by Hussein Malla/AP

Lions have been replaced by firing squads and concentration camps as record numbers of Jesus’ worshipers are persecuted from Syria to North Korea.

powers-bioKirsten Powers writes:  The concept of Christian martyrdom may seem like something from a bygone, uncivilized era when believers were mercilessly thrown to the lions. Not so. This week, Open Doors, a non-denominational group supporting persecuted Christians worldwide, reported that Christian martyrdom has grown into a pervasive and horrifying human rights crisis.

suffering-christians

In their annual report of the worst 50 countries for Christian persecution, Open Doors found that Christian martyr deaths around the globe doubled in 2013.  Their report documented 2,123 killings, compared with 1,201 in 2012. In Syria alone, there were 1,213 such deaths last year. In addition to losing their lives, Christians around the world continue to suffer discrimination, imprisonment, harassment, sexual assaults, and expulsion from countries merely for practicing their faith.

coptic_church_relief

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A History of Tobacco in China 

Beijing news has a unique multi-page feature with rare illustrations, photos, and informative texts about the history of tobacco in China. The images load slowly (mileage may vary) but it’s worth every moment. Here’s a sample:

Qing Dynasty (AD 1644–1911) Emperor Kang Xi

Qing Dynasty (AD 1644–1911) Emperor Kang Xi

China’s anti-smoking movement was first recorded in 1639, when Ming Dynasty (AD 1368-1644) Emperor Chongzhen issued a national ban on tobacco and stipulated that tobacco addicts be executed. In 1637, Qing Dynasty (AD 1644–1911) Emperor Kangxi expanded the death penalty to those who possess tobacco.

An advertisement for Shanghai's Meili brand cigarettes in the 1920s.[Photo/tobaccochina.com]

An advertisement for Shanghai’s Meili brand cigarettes in the 1920s.[Photo/tobaccochina.com]

Advertisements featuring fashionable courtesans, or sing-song girls of Shanghai around the 1920s testified that the imported habit was trendy in what was then one of Asia’s biggest cities.

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