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BrothersJudd Blog

Blog of the Brothers Judd

Last Build Date: Sun, 23 Oct 2016 18:57:15 -0500

Copyright: Copyright 2016


Sun, 23 Oct 2016 18:57:15 -0500

Missing From Hacked Emails: Hillary Clinton Herself (PETER NICHOLAS,  COLLEEN MCCAIN NELSON and  BYRON TAU, Oct. 16, 2016, WSJ)

One person conspicuously absent so far in the thousands of hacked emails showing the internal workings of Hillary Clinton's presidential bid is Hillary Clinton herself.

Time and again, it is Mrs. Clinton's top aides who in a round robin of emails debate and shape major campaign speeches and strategy. When Mrs. Clinton is heard from, it typically is second hand: through an email sent by a confidante to other aides.

In the few missives that have emerged directly from Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee usually makes arrangements for issues to be discussed in meetings and phone calls--and that is when she will make the final call on how to proceed.

It is a process that seems to be working. 


Sun, 23 Oct 2016 18:51:03 -0500

Microsoft's tablet deal with the NFL has been a disaster (Daniel Roberts, October 21, 2016, Yahoo!)

The Microsoft Surface tablet is so bad that the best coach in the NFL would rather use paper. At least that's the opinion of New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who has the best record of any current active coach, and who speaks out so rarely that any time he describes something in detail, it is instant catnip for the media. It may not be a fair review of the Surface, but unfortunately for Microsoft, it has become a major story this week.

On Tuesday, Belichick, notoriously stingy with answering questions, unloaded on the Surface tablets for a full five minutes in a team press conference. "I'm done with the tablets," he said. "They're just too undependable for me.... I'll use the paper pictures from here on, because I have given it my best shot." The tablets, which are used by coaches and players to view high-res photos of plays in-game, frequently fail to load the images. Belichick has run out of patience.


Sun, 23 Oct 2016 18:46:41 -0500

Aussie Bank's 7000-Mile Blockchain Experiment Could Change Trade (Emily Cadman, October 23, 2016, Bloomberg)

As port staff scan the bales, an update to an electronic contract will be triggered, transferring ownership of the goods and authorizing the release of payment. The deceptively-simple sounding process is only possible because digital-ledger technology encrypts and stores the parameters of the contract, ensuring all parties are working off the same synchronized version, which cannot be unilaterally altered or tampered with.

This assurance allows the various phases of the transaction to be coded into the smart contract, and triggered automatically when certain conditions are met, without the need for a long-winded paper trail and human authorization. The experiment offers a glimpse into how transactions might one day be managed in the $4 trillion trade-finance industry, a global business that's been in the spotlight in recent years owing to high-profile fraud cases.

"This is a truly innovative step," said Scott Farrell, a Sydney-based partner at law firm King & Wood Mallesons who sits on the Australian government's financial technology advisory body. "This experiment turns up the dial," he said in a telephone interview.

While other banks have researched blockchain solutions for trade finance, Commonwealth Bank and Wells Fargo appear to be the only ones to publicly announce a real-world transaction for one of the most cumbersome processes in global finance. Reams of paper, faxed statements and multiple contracts typically follow the movement of goods around the world through the hands of exporters, shipping companies and importers -- and all of these must be kept synchronized.
As well as the risk of human error, the process is also highly vulnerable to fraud. Qingdao, where the ship will dock, was at the center of a multi-billion dollar scam in 2014. The Chinese government discovered that firms were taking advantage of inefficiencies in the paper-based system to use the same stockpile of metals to secure multiple loans.

"Trade finance is one the most clunky processes in business," Michael Eidel, head of transactions at Commonwealth Bank, said in an interview at the bank's office in Sydney. "It is ripe for disruption."


Sun, 23 Oct 2016 18:34:55 -0500

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Joe Everson- National Anthem & Action Painting from Joseph Everson on Vimeo.


Sun, 23 Oct 2016 18:29:15 -0500

MIT researchers think we're a step closer to practical nuclear fusion (Dom Galeon, 18 October 2016, World Economic Forum)

Stable nuclear fusion involves a plasma's particle density, its confinement time, and its temperature, reaching a particular value (the "triply product") that keeps the reaction going. The plasma must be extremely hot (more than 30 million degrees Celsius) and it needs to be stable under intense pressure while remaining in a fixed volume. Adjusting the plasma pressure is most of the challenge.

Now, thanks to scientists working on the Alcator C-Mod tokamak fusion reactor at MIT, we are a step closer to controlling it.

The team managed to set a world record for plasma pressure inside the reactor, reaching over 2 atmospheres of pressure for the first time with a temperature of over 35 million Celsius. The record was set on the Alcator C-Mod reactor's final run, which is about to retire after 23 years of use.

Former deputy director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Dale Meade, says the achievement of the Alcator C-Mod program takes us a step closer to a working fusion reactor.

"The record plasma pressure validates the high-magnetic-field approach as an attractive path to practical fusion energy," Meade said, according to MIT News.


Sun, 23 Oct 2016 18:20:13 -0500

Even if Democrats win the Senate in 2016, their majority is unlikely to endure (Chris Cillizza October 23, 2016, washington Post) 

What few people talk about -- but should -- is that this could be a very short-lived majority for Senate Democrats, as the 2018 field is remarkably bad for them.

The numbers for that year are stunning: 25 Democratic or Democratic-affiliated independents are up for reelection, compared with just eight Republicans. That's as lopsided an election cycle as you will ever see.

But a look inside the numbers makes the Democrats' challenge in 2018 all the more daunting. Fully 20 percent of the 25 Democratic seats are in states that then-Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried in 2012 (and even Trump is likely to carry on Nov. 8): Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia.

All five Democratic incumbents in those states are expected to run for reelection, a prospect that gives Democrats a chance in each. But with 2018 looking almost certain to be the first midterm election of a Hillary Clinton presidency, it's hard to see how her party avoids major losses in red states. [...]

Some important historical context: In the first midterm election of President Obama's term, in 2010, Democrats lost 63 House seats and six Senate seats. In Bill Clinton's first midterm as president, in 1994, Democrats lost 54 House seats and eight Senate seats.


Sun, 23 Oct 2016 18:07:22 -0500

Scotland paving renewable energy path in a big way (Stephen Edelstein, OCTOBER 23, 2016, CS Monitor)

Since August 7, Scotland has reportedly achieved 100-percent renewable power multiple times.

On a regular basis, more than half of Scotland's electricity comes from renewable sources, and the country is targeting a consistent 100 percent as soon as 2020.

Scotland's current position as a renewable-energy leader is the result of roughly a decade of concerted efforts to wean the country off fossil fuels.


Sun, 23 Oct 2016 18:02:50 -0500

Tasting Apple Cider Vinegar (LAUREN SAVOIE,  SEPTEMBER 6, 2016, Cook's Illustrated)

Our favorite was a well-rounded, versatile vinegar that worked well in every recipe. Fortunately, it's also the one you're most likely to encounter at the supermarket. Heinz Filtered Apple Cider Vinegar enlivened pan sauce, tempered sweet slaw, and balanced barbecue sauce with its bright, moderate acidity and clear apple notes. At $0.17 an ounce, it's also one of the cheapest cider products we found, proving that you don't have to shell out extra for great apple cider vinegar.


Sun, 23 Oct 2016 09:46:34 -0500

Russia's October Surprise : Its Failed Attempt to Hack the Election (Mitchell A. Orenstein, 10/23/16, Foreign Affairs)

Moscow's anger over the WikiLeaks debacle may be why it soon changed tack and escalated its verbal attacks against the United States over Syria. A few days after the leaks, Russia unleashed an exceptionally harsh barrage of threats when the United States pulled out of cease-fire negotiations in Syria. On October 10, for example, chief Russian propagandist Dmitry Kiselyov said that the United States' "impudent behavior" toward Russia could have "nuclear" implications and that there had been a "radical change" in U.S.-Russian relations in recent weeks. Vladimir Zhirinovsky, another of President Vladimir Putin's hatchet men, advised Americans to vote for Donald Trump or risk being dragged into a nuclear war. At the same time, Russia positioned nuclear-capable missiles in Kaliningrad, which borders Poland and Lithuania, and test-fired three ballistic missiles elsewhere, making clear that its war of words was coordinated with the threat of military action.

Perhaps Russia thought that its aggressive behavior would cow the American public into supporting Trump, who advocates more friendly relations with Russia. But in reality, Moscow's effort appears to have backfired.

More than anything, all the leaks this year have shown why everything should just be open-sourced.


Sun, 23 Oct 2016 09:33:06 -0500

"What's fascinating to me about these emails is it kind of confirms a lot of things we already knew about Hillary Clinton," Continetti said. "She's a very cautious, very calculating politician who is also very transactional. So whether it's giving a speech in return for a $12 million donation or maybe even favor-trading ... This is who Hillary Clinton is, and that type of personality and those traits would follow her into the White House if she wins."

It's why her Republican colleagues have always liked her so much.


Sun, 23 Oct 2016 09:24:54 -0500

The Art of the Box Score : It's hard to enjoy baseball if you don't know what you're looking for. And the box score teaches you how to do just that. (Kelsey McKinney, 10/17/16, )

My dad only uses blue pens, the type that come in packs of twelve and have nibs a little too big so that the ink runs together if you don't write in blocky capitals like he does, especially if the pen has overheated in the afternoon sun. He'd have them in the front pocket of his shirt when we'd scramble out of the car with our gloves and our snacks. Tickets in hand, we'd weave through the crowds into the Rangers' Ballpark in Arlington that my dad called the Temple and find a spot in the blistering hot stands to watch batting practice.

The pen would come out when the screen in center field showed the names of that afternoon's lineup. Together, we would build the box. He would draw the lines for the innings, write the names on the left hand side of the yellow legal pad, sing the national anthem. The box score, when finished, looked like a cluster of small squares, one per batter per at bat. At the top, inning numbers labeled the vertical columns. The horizontal columns showed each batter's performance. In the printed versions that come with the five-dollar game program, each box would have a diamond printed to represent the field. But I don't remember using those. We always drew ours. 

Once the box was drawn, we would wait. In the shoeboxes full of keepsakes I've moved from apartment to apartment, from where I grew up in Texas to a big coastal city, there are dozens of these yellow pieces of paper. The ink has faded now, but it was smudged to begin with--the running blue lines falling into each other in my uncertain childhood hand.

..then again, he did the Times Crossword that way too.


Sun, 23 Oct 2016 09:21:43 -0500

Adrift in the Present: On Mark Lilla's "The Shipwrecked Mind" (Nikita Lalwani, Sam Winter-Levy, OCTOBER 23, 2016, LA Review of Books)

"Many have attempted to understand the revolutionary mind," writes Lilla, a professor of humanities at Columbia University, "yet few have studied the reactionary one." But the two are not so different. Both feel adrift in the present. Yet while the revolutionary sees the promised land in the future, the reactionary locates it somewhere in the past -- in a Golden Age that man, to his detriment, has chosen to forsake. "The reactionary mind is a shipwrecked mind," Lilla writes. "Where others see the river of time flowing as it always has, the reactionary sees the debris of paradise drifting past his eyes."

The term "reaction," borrowed from science, entered the political vocabulary in the 18th century. "But after the French Revolution," Lilla writes, "the term acquired the negative connotation it holds today; the Jacobins used it to dismiss anyone who refused to acknowledge the forward march of history toward human emancipation." Reactionaries, Lilla notes, are not conservatives: in their desire to radically uproot the current political order, they share more in common with revolutionaries than with those who seek to preserve the status quo. So it should not be surprising that alongside right-wing reactionaries, such as the journalist Éric Zemmour, Lilla also profiles leftists, such as the Maoist-Leninist philosopher Alain Badiou. (Badiou is a reactionary who wants to return to an age of revolutionaries, a member of a class of European leftists who have "never gotten over the collapse of the revolutionary political expectations raised in the 1960s and 1970s.")


Sun, 23 Oct 2016 09:19:38 -0500

America is still way better off than China (James Pethokoukis, 10/23/16, American Enterprise Institute )

Of course, India and China -- although they've made huge strides forward in recent decades -- remain poor countries compared to the United States. Starting from such a low base, then, they have the capability to growth very fast as they play catch up to advanced economies like America's. On a per capita income basis, China is about as tenth as rich as America, India one-twentieth. And that may actually overstate things, according to research recently published by Charles Jones and Peter Klenow(and highlighted in Ben Bernanke's blog). Jones and Klenow prefer a broader measure of living standards that "combines data on consumption, leisure, inequality, and mortality using the standard economics of expected utility." On based of that standard, China and India only do about half as well as judging by per capital income.

Another interesting finding -- in addition to the gap between the US and Europe being smaller if judged by economic welfare -- dispels the notion that Americans are worse off than a generation ago. 


Sun, 23 Oct 2016 09:11:10 -0500

To Win the House, Democrats Need to Change Their Message : Appealing to more moderate voters, not changing district lines, is the path to controlling the lower chamber. (Josh Kraushaar,  Oct. 23, 2016, National Journal)

One of the Demo­crat­ic Party's biggest pri­or­it­ies after this elec­tion is to re­draw con­gres­sion­al lines in states where Re­pub­lic­ans have cre­ated bound­ar­ies to their polit­ic­al ad­vant­age. The ef­fort shouldn't be a sur­prise, even as the party over­states the num­ber of seats that could change hands by changes in polit­ic­al geo­graphy. But it's a telling peek at how the Demo­crats would rather make sys­tem­ic changes so they can main­tain their lib­er­al ideo­logy than nudge the party to the middle so it can com­pete in dozens of GOP-lean­ing seats.

The Demo­crats' dis­ad­vant­age in the House isn't primar­ily a res­ult of re­dis­trict­ing. It's be­cause non­white and lib­er­al voters tend to cluster in dense urb­an areas, di­lut­ing their polit­ic­al im­pact. Re­pub­lic­ans cur­rently hold 246 seats in the House, the highest level of rep­res­ent­a­tion since the Hoover ad­min­is­tra­tion. Even if Demo­crats sweep in­to power in or­der to re­draw state maps after the 2020 elec­tions, they'll make only a small dent in the GOP's fun­da­ment­al ad­vant­ages. (And that's not even tak­ing in­to ac­count that Demo­crats already have drawn con­gres­sion­al dis­trict lines in a par­tis­an man­ner in Illinois and Mary­land.)

The GOP will certainly do well in the '18 midterm, because the size of this rout will sweep out many seats they hold naturally under normal circumstances.  But the size of the reverse tide will be determined by how far Hillary veers from the center towards the left. Indeed, her own fairly bleak shot at re-election depends on same.


Sun, 23 Oct 2016 09:05:50 -0500

South Korea may rent Israeli satellite to spy on North -- report (STUART WINER October 23, 2016, Times of Israel)

South Korea is reportedly considering using an Israeli spy satellite to peek at North Korea's military and nuclear facilities as it ramps up its defense capabilities in response to threats from Pyongyang.