Knowledge Base: Posting Videos Anybody Can View

Square peg, round holeIf you’ve recorded a video and wish to include it in a post or comment on the site, if you proceed in the most straightforward way, it’s essentially certain only some people will be able to view it.  This is due to the Balkanisation of video formats, which  more than two decades after video on the Web became commonplace, remain a swamp of proprietary formats, patent lock-ins and -outs, royalty claims, and attempts by browser vendors to lock in users to their associated mobile devices.

It is possible to navigate this minefield and post videos (almost) everybody can view, but it’s neither easy nor straightforward.  This note is written as much as anything as a memo to file so I don’t have to summon the information every time I need to fix a posted video, but if you’re willing to install the required tools and carefully follow the instructions, you can make it work.... [Read More]

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Sec. of State Pompeo: Regime Change in China

On 2020-07-23 U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo spoke at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library at Yorba Linda, California on “Communist China and the Free World’s Future” [transcript].  While he never used the exact words, the message was explicit.  The era of “constructive engagement” with the Chinese Communist Party is at an end, and U.S. policy must be directed toward protecting its interests from an aggressive, tyrannical, and deceitful regime which is oppressing the Chinese people.  Since communist dictatorships don’t “get better”, this essentially commits the U.S. to a policy of regime change in China.

... [Read More]

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Calvary Chapel: Gorsuch Dissents

Yesterday, 2020-07-24, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition of Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley, a rural Nevada church, for injunctive relief from an order by the state which restricts worship services to a maximum of 50 people, and argued that the same rules that apply to casinos, movie theatres, restaurants, and other businesses should apply to churches as well.

The Court denied the petition by a 5–4 vote, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the four Locust appointees in rejecting the claim that restricting religious worship in ways not applied to other activities violated religious freedom.  The four dissenting judges filed a total of 24 pages of dissents [PDF], with Alito and Kavanaugh each writing 11 pages of arguments.  Neil Gorsuch penned only a single paragraph; here it is.... [Read More]

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Catching the Comet

Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) from Fourmilab, Switzerland, 2020-07-18 21_15 UTC

Click to enlarge

Tonight, the evening of 2020-07-18, around 21:00 UTC, I finally got the chance to observe and photograph comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE), the Great Comet of 2020, on the first night of (kinda) clear sky after the comet appeared in the evening sky.  Even though the sky was visibly milky, with thin haze reflecting distant lights, after becoming dark adapted, the comet was an easy naked-eye object near the northwestern horizon (which is elevated due to the Jura mountains in that direction).  Through binoculars (Canon 15×50mm image stabilised) the star-like nucleus and coma were well-defined, and the dust tail extended until it was lost in the murky sky.  I was unable to pick up the dimmer, straight, blue ion tail either with the unaided eye or binoculars. Continue reading “Catching the Comet”

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Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture: “Whiteness”

The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture , a taxpayer-funded Federal institution which opened in September, 2016 and funded in part by million dollar gifts from Microsoft and Google, has published a document on their Web site, “Whiteness”, which contains the following infographic, which I have broken up into two parts to fit better here.  Here is the first page, which continues after the break.

Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture: “Whiteness” 1/2

Continue reading “Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture: “Whiteness””

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Did the U.S. Supreme Court Just Return Part of Oklahoma to the Indians?

Oklahoma Indian reservationsIn a Supreme Court decision handed down yesterday, 2020-07-09, McGirt v. Oklahoma [PDF], the court ruled 5–4 in an opinion written by Neil Gorsuch, joined by Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan, that an 1833 treaty between the United States and the Creek Nation granting the Indian nation a reservation “in perpetuity” remains in force.  Gorsuch wrote for the majority,

The federal government promised the Creek a reservation in perpetuity. Over time, Congress has diminished that reservation. It has sometimes restricted and other times expanded the Tribe’s authority. But Congress has never withdrawn the promised reservation.... [Read More]

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Thomas Sowell on Charter Schools

One day after his 90th birthday, Thomas Sowell joined Peter Robinson for a plague-era virtual episode of Uncommon Knowledge to discuss Dr Sowell’s just-published book, Charter Schools and Their Enemies.  Focusing on schools in New York City, the book explores in detail the success of charter schools, sometimes in the same buildings as public schools, and drawing the students from the same ethnic mix, have largely closed the academic achievement gap between minorities and white and Asian students, and why, despite this achievement, politicians are bent on restricting the growth of charter schools if not killing them entirely.

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Davey Day Trader

Bubble popping cartoonIf you think there’s something a bit curious about a frothy and pricey stock market existing simultaneously with a global pandemic, Depression-level unemployment, GDP and corporate earnings collapse, freeze-up in world trade, riots by anarchist mobs, devastation of small businesses, and corporate bankruptcies, you might just be thinking that we’re seeing a classic asset bubble blown by the injection of unprecedented amounts of “money” created out of thin air by central banks.

One characteristic of financial bubbles, particularly in their late stages, is a massive pile into the market by small “retail investors”, who bet their modest savings in the belief that “stocks only go up” and “this time is different”.  Another sign of a bubble is the emergence of financial gurus, often with unusual backgrounds, proclaiming this “new wisdom for a new era” to their enthusiastic followers.... [Read More]

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Election Betting Markets: June Update

Back on February 9th, 2020, I posted “Prediction Markets on the U.S. 2020 Elections”, which explained the concept of prediction markets and the Web site Election Betting Odds.  If you’re unfamiliar with the idea and site, please refer to that post for details.

With all of the disruption and chaos which have transpired since then, I thought it would be worth looking at where the situation now stands in the minds of punters putting their own money at risk betting on election outcomes.  Let’s start with the market for “Next President”.

Next President: election betting odds 2020-06-25 Continue reading “Election Betting Markets: June Update”

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Virtue Signalling Gallery

Post examples of corporate and institutional virtue signalling in the comments.  Here are a few to get the ball rolling.

Students for the Exploration and Development of Space


Continue reading “Virtue Signalling Gallery”

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Cancelled by Patreon

Patreon: cancelledJust five days ago, I posted here “L. Neil Smith: ‘There ought to be a law!’ ” in which the über-libertarian advocated legislation incorporating the Bill of Rights and, in particular, the First Amendment, against corporations chartered by U.S. states as a remedy for rampant censorship and violations of freedom of speech, religion, and free association committed by what he argues are, in every sense, state actors.

Just a few minutes ago, what should I find in my E-mail in-box, but the following:... [Read More]

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Archbishop Viganò to President Trump: “Children of Light and Darkness”

Archbishop Carlo Maria ViganòRoman Catholic Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States between 2011 and 2016, today (2020-06-07) published a letter [original PDF] to U.S. president Donald Trump in which he warns,

In recent months we have been witnessing the formation of two opposing sides that I would call Biblical: the children of light and the children of darkness. The children of light constitute the most conspicuous part of humanity, while the children of darkness represent an absolute minority. And yet the former are the object of a sort of discrimination which places them in a situation of moral inferiority with respect to their adversaries, who often hold strategic positions in government, in politics, in the economy and in the media. In an apparently inexplicable way, the good are held hostage by the wicked and by those who help them either out of self-interest or fearfulness.... [Read More]

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L. Neil Smith: “There ought to be a law!”

L. Neil SmithL. Neil Smith has, for decades, been the libertarians’ libertarian.  Author of more than 30 works of science fiction and commentary, including Down with Power, a practical guide to libertarian policy alternatives in the real world, he has been steadfast in opposing “nerf libertarianism”, which advocates “reasonable compromises” that infringe liberties the authors of the Declaration of Independence and framers of the Constitution considered “unalienable” (which means you can’t even give them away yourself).  He, like I, became an advocate of uncompromising liberty through contact with Robert LeFevre, whose life was devoted to promoting liberty.

In the most recent edition of his Web magazine, The Libertarian Enterprise, he offers this suggestion to deal with the accelerating wave of corporate suppression of dissident speech.... [Read More]

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