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The problems Tackle Tax Havens

 Tax Havens  Comments Off on The problems Tackle Tax Havens
Oct 032015

Switzerland is not only one of the worlds biggest financial centres but also one of the worlds largest tax havens; find out why the country took first place on the 2011 Financial Secrecy Index.

Learn about SAB Miller, the brewing multinational whose transfer pricing techniques are depriving countries of much needed tax revenue.

This multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme orchestrated by infamous Wall Street financier Bernie Madoff could not have happened without tax havens.

Teodoro Nguema Obiang used tax havens to exploit Equatorial Guineas natural resources. Not a very nice man.

Dublin a magical city of light touch regulation, which draws in money from far and wide and channels it directly into the shadow banking system.

The epic corruption which destroyed Enron and hundreds of livelihoods could not have happened without tax havens.

The Alpine offshore microstate of Liechtenstein hit the headlines in early 2008 for harbouring the corrupt funds of hundreds of tax evaders.

Find out why the rich-poor gap is greater in the United States than almost any other developed nation.

Following on from point 8, find out why Delaware, The First State, is the best place to escape tax in the world.

The City of London Corporation. Local-government authority and massive offshore lobbying body.

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The problems Tackle Tax Havens

Pro-Human Transhuman – TV Tropes

 Transhuman  Comments Off on Pro-Human Transhuman – TV Tropes
Oct 022015

This character has been hit with a Viral Transformation, Emergency Transformation, become a cyborg, demon, magical creature, alien or discovers they were never human at all. Despite this, and regardless of any angst over What Have I Become?, they decide that rather than go down the path of Transhuman Treachery and be a Smug Super, Black Shirt, or The Quisling, they will do everything in their power to stay a part of humanity. And if their new species/transhuman fellows are anti-human, they will vow to protect humanity in a pseudo Faustian Rebellion. This can also include transhumans who cast themselves in a shepherd-like role for mankind. This doesn’t include forcibly applying What Measure Is a Non-Super? to bootstrap humanity up, though. That’s more of a Visionary Villain who believes Utopia Justifies the Means. Many Friendly Neighborhood Vampires fall in this category. If the transformation is due to The Virus, this requires copious Heroic Willpower. These characters can usually pull off a Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing gambit. See also Monster Adventurers. Related to My Species Doth Protest Too Much, which refers to creatures that aren’t former humans. Opposite Trope to Transhuman Treachery. Super Trope to Vampire Refugee and Phlebotinum Rebel. See also/compare A God I Am Not.

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Pro-Human Transhuman – TV Tropes

Fourth Amendment | United States Constitution |

 Fourth Amendment  Comments Off on Fourth Amendment | United States Constitution |
Sep 282015

Fourth Amendment,amendment (1791) to the Constitution of the United States, part of the Bill of Rights, that forbids unreasonable searches and seizures of individuals and property. For the text of the Fourth Amendment, see below.

Introduced in 1789, what became the Fourth Amendment struck at the heart of a matter central to the early American experience: the principle that, within reason, Every mans house is his castle, and that any citizen may fall into the category of the criminally accused and ought to be provided protections accordingly. In U.S. constitutional law, the Fourth Amendment is the foundation of criminal law jurisprudence, articulating both the rights of persons and the responsibilities of law-enforcement officials. The balance between these two forces has undergone considerable public, political, and judicial debate. Are the amendments two clauses meant to be applied independently or taken as a whole? Is the expectation of privacy diminished depending on where and what is suspected, sought, and seized? What constitutes an unreasonable search and seizure?

The protections contained in the amendment have been determined less on the basis of what the Constitution says than according to what it has been interpreted to mean, and, as such, its constitutional meaning has inherently been fluid. The protections granted by the U.S. Supreme Court have expanded during periods when the court was dominated by liberals (e.g., during the tenure of Chief Justice Earl Warren [195369]), beginning particularly with Mapp v. Ohio (1961), in which the court extended the exclusionary rule to all criminal proceedings; by contrast, during the tenure of the conservative William Rehnquist (19862005) as chief justice, the court contracted the rights afforded to the criminally accused, allowing law-enforcement officials latitude to search in instances when they reasonably believed that the property in question harboured presumably dangerous persons.

The full text of the amendment is:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

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Fourth Amendment | United States Constitution |

SINGULARITY: a Joshua Gates, Destination Truth …

 The Singularity  Comments Off on SINGULARITY: a Joshua Gates, Destination Truth …
Sep 242015

Going to miParacon to see Josh and other paranormal personalities? Tweet your experiences and photos to @joshuagatesfans I will also be monitoring for stuff to share on the fan page once the convention is over!

Josh has been pretty quiet on social media lately. Could it be because we’re going to get some news soon? Here is a clue, to your left. I won’t say what/where it is or my sources, but I’ll just say to “stay tuned” :)

The show has been met with much praise and according to Brad at the production company, viewer numbers have been good. For now, it looks like the only criticisms fans have had for the show are that they miss the ghost hunting/cryptids search elements, and they’d like the crew who follows him and helps make the show to be featured. Fans cannot deny the better quality of filming, the fact that each episode only focuses on one case, and because the episodes are less rushed, we get to see more of the destination, and humor is definitely not missing from EXU.

In the meantime, here’s some news!

Be sure to follow Josh on Twitter HEREand follow this fan page on Twitter for fan interaction and exclusives HERE. Photo credit to Brandt, who you can follow on Twitter HERE

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SINGULARITY: a Joshua Gates, Destination Truth …

Home – Liberty Elementary School District

 Liberty  Comments Off on Home – Liberty Elementary School District
Sep 242015

Thank youfor visiting Liberty Elementary School District

Liberty Elementary School District is located roughly 30 miles west of Phoenix, Arizona. The district covers approximately 285 square miles of both rural and suburban communities. Libertys boundaries span county land as well as the cities of Buckeye and Goodyear. Founded in 1887, Liberty is one of the oldest school districts in Arizona. The building currently being used for music class at one of our schools was built in 1910 and is the oldest still in use school building in the state. The Liberty District consists of four K-8 schools and one PreK-8 school.

In the Liberty District our mission is to build world-class schools in our neighborhoods. Our goal is to provide every one of our students with a world class education and our programs, foci and instruction are tailored to achieve that goal. One way that Liberty is working toward this goal is by offering an extensive array of education options for parents and students. For example, in recent years our schools have been innovating and maximizing their strengths by implementing a unique school focus. These foci include S.T.E.M.(Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), IB (International Baccalaureate), Leadership, Agricultural Sciences, Visual and Performing Arts and Dual Language Immersion. Liberty District also offers open enrollment opportunities for students. Open enrollment gives parents and students that might go to another school in the district, or go to a school in a neighboring district, the option to choose which school and focus is right for them. All of our schools offer the usual programs that you would expect to find in most schools like art, music, PE and sports. However, the schools also have some more unique programs like Graphics Arts, Foreign Language, Choir, Concert Band, Drama Club, Science Club, Lego Robotics Club and Math Counts.

Normal Hours of Operation 8:00 am to 4:30 pm M-F Closed on Holidays

SummerHours of Operation 8:00 am to 4:30 pm M-Th Closed on Holidays

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Home – Liberty Elementary School District

Statue of Liberty – New Jersey

 Liberty  Comments Off on Statue of Liberty – New Jersey
Sep 222015

A Symbol of Friendship

Located on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, the statue commemorates the friendship between the United States and France that began during the American Revolution. Her official name is “Liberty Enlightening the World.”

The statue – also known as “Lady Liberty” – has many symbolic features. Her torch represents liberty. In Roman numbers, her tablet reads “July 4, 1776,” America’s independence day.

Her crown has 25 windows, recognizing the gemstones found on the earth and the heaven’s rays shining over the world. The rays of her crown symbolize the seven continents and seven seas. At her feet are chains, representing the tyranny of colonial rule from which America escaped.

Building the Statue

In 1876 French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi began designing the statue. Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, the designer of the Eiffel Tower, worked with him. While Bartholdi developed the look of the statue, Eiffel worked on the framework. Bartholdi made the statue out of copper sheets, and Eiffel made the framework of steel. In July 1884, the statue was completed in France.

Richard Morris Hunt, designer of New York City’s first apartment building, designed the pedestal. The construction of the pedestal was completed in April 1886.

In addition to the architectural challenges of building the statue and pedestal, both countries faced challenges in getting money for the project. The French charged public fees, held fundraising events, and used money from a lottery to finance the statue.

In America, boxing matches, plays, art exhibitions, and auctions were used to raise money with limited success. Joseph Pulitzer, founder of the Pulitzer Prize, was able to more successfully motivate Americans with critical editorials in his newspaper, The World, and financing was completed in 1885.

On June 19, 1885, the French ship Isere arrived in New York Harbor with the Statue of Liberty. The statue was divided into 350 pieces held in 214 crates during the shipment. Over the next four months, a group of workers re-assembled Lady Liberty on the pedestal at Fort Wood on Bedloe Island, as Liberty Island was then known.

Thousands of people came to Fort Wood on October 28, 1886, as President Grover Cleveland officially accepted the statue.

Events in Statue History

In 1924, the statue became a national monument. Bedloe’s Island, home to Fort Wood and the statue, was renamed Liberty Island in 1956. That same year Ellis Island was included with Liberty Island to make up the Statue of Liberty National Monument. As the Lady Liberty’s 100th birthday neared, the country began working to restore the monument.

Starting in 1982, $87 million was raised for the restoration. When statue’s restoration began in 1984, the United Nations named it a World Heritage Site. The statue was re-opened on July 5, 1986, for her centennial celebration.

Visitors have not been able to enter the Statue of Liberty since September 11, 2001, but the island remains open. A fundraising drive is currently underway to make the necessary security and safety upgrades to re-open the statue itself.

Statue Statistics

Statue of Liberty – New Jersey

Liberty State Park – 316 Photos – Parks – Jersey City, NJ …

 Liberty  Comments Off on Liberty State Park – 316 Photos – Parks – Jersey City, NJ …
Sep 222015

I love this park so much! I’ve been here multiple times and I still manage to discover something new every time. First off, this park is HUGE! It’s really hard to see everything this park has to offer in just one day, especially when you take into account the secret parts (I’m not even being facetious either, look up miniature castle at LSP). This park has a little something for everyone. It’s great for biking, walking, picnics, photography, fishing, anything that you’re into.

I’ll admit that the walk into LSP using the Morris Canal footbridge is a bit suspect, but once you get past that, it’ll infinitely get better. At the end of the tree lined path, you’ll hit the water where there’s the Ellis Island ferry, 9/11 monuments, historical railroads and terminals. Here you’ll get the best shots of NYC.

Moving forward!!! After you’re done with the north end, there’s 2 main walk/bike paths, one along the water and the other on Freedom Way. They both go in the same direction, more or less, but are vastly different. The path along the water is beautiful and I highly recommend this path if you are a first timer. The boardwalk is lined with benches and has a nice view of Ellis Island, NY and the Statue of Liberty. Often times you’ll see people fishing here or flying kites nearby. If you keep walking this path until the very end, and I mean, until the very end, past the BBQ/picnic tables, past the Liberation monument and US Flag Plaza, you’ll eventually hit National Golf Club which looks like a building straight out of the Jetsons. Just keep going!! Pretend you’re Siddhartha listening to the water, because if you keep following it, you’ll end up seeing a wooden bridge, marshes, a different view of the SOL and a lookout point (which is closed due to Sandy). It’s so wonderfully quiet and peaceful once you hit this point. But your journey ends there because you’ll reach a closed community and I’m not trying to get anyone arrested for trespassing.

The other path option on Freedom Way is not as scenic, but is still very cool. I’ve been to LSP over 50x and it’s on this particular path that I keep discovering new things. Walking along Freedom Way is a little like taking a red pill, you have no idea how deep the rabbit-hole goes. This path isn’t as crowded and is geared towards people who want to exercise. There’s a wide bike shoulder lane on the right and a par course on the left that has very basic exercise equipment. If you keep to the left, you’ll hit the Richard J. Sullivan Natural Area, which is home to many adorable ducks and geese in the summer time. Nearby is the Interpretive Center, which is an ecological and educational facility, and also your starting point if you were trying to find the miniature castle. Along Freedom Way, you’ll find a lot of worn paths, taking them is up you to, but I’ve taken many and I’ve always been pleasantly surprised where I ended up.

In short, this park is beautiful and I cannot say enough about it. LSP is definitely worth a visit and makes a wonderful day trip or getaway from the city.

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Liberty State Park – 316 Photos – Parks – Jersey City, NJ …

What is cryonics? | Institute for Evidence-Based Cryonics

 Cryonics  Comments Off on What is cryonics? | Institute for Evidence-Based Cryonics
Sep 192015

Cryonics: Using low temperatures to care for the critically ill

By Aschwin de Wolf

Well look back on this 50 to 100 years from now well shake our heads and say, What were people thinking? They took these people who were very nearly viable, just barely dysfunctional, and they put them in an oven or buried them under the ground, when there were people who could have put them into cryopreservation. I think well look at this just as we look today at slavery, beating women, and human sacrifice, and well say, this was insane a huge tragedy. Alcor CEO Max More, Ph.D.


In contemporary medicine terminally ill patients can be declared legally dead using two different criteria: whole brain death or cardiorespiratory arrest. Although many people would agree that a human being without any functional brain activity, or even without higher brain function, has ceased to exist as a person, not many people realize that most patients who are currently declared legally dead by cardiorespiratory criteria have not yet died as a person. Or to use conventional biomedical language, although the organism has ceased to exist as a functional, integrated whole, the neuroanatomy of the person is still intact when a patient is declared legally dead using cardiorespiratory criteria.

It might seem odd that contemporary medicine allows deliberate destruction of the properties that make us uniquely human (our capacity for consciousness) unless one considers the significant challenge of keeping a brain alive in a body that has ceased to function as an integrated whole. But what if we could put the brain on pause until a time when medical science has become advanced enough to treat the rest of the body, reverse aging, and restore the patient to health?

Metabolic Arrest

Putting the brain on pause is not as far fetched as it seems. The brain of a patient undergoing general anesthesia has ceased being conscious. But because we know that the brain that represents the person is still there in a viable body, we do not think of such a person as temporarily dead.

One step further than general anesthesia is hypothermic circulatory arrest. Some medical procedures, such as complicated neurosurgical interventions, require not only cessation of consciousness but also complete cessation of blood flow to the brain. In these cases the temperature of the patient is lowered to such a degree (16 degrees Celsius) that the brain can tolerate a period without any circulation at all. Considering the fact that parts of the human brain can become irreversibly injured after no more than five minutes without oxygen, the ability of the brain to survive for at least an hour at these temperatures without any oxygen is quite remarkable.

Again, because we know that in such cases the brain that represents the person is still there in a viable body, we do not think of such a person as temporarily dead. These examples illustrate that the medical community already recognizes and accepts the fact that a medical procedure that produces loss of consciousness, and even loss of circulation, does not constitute irreversible death.

Unfortunately, general anesthesia and hypothermic circulatory arrest cannot be used to pause the brain long enough to find a treatment for a person who has been declared legally dead by cardiorespiratory criteria. A person under general anesthesia may require tens, if not hundreds, of years of artificial circulation to keep the brain viable until medical science is able to return him to health. Leaving financial considerations aside, artificial circulation of an organ, let alone such a vulnerable organ as the brain, will produce increasing brain injury over time, and ultimately, destruction of the person.

Hypothermic circulatory arrest eliminates the need for metabolic support of the brain, but only for a limited period of time. Current research into hypothermic circulatory arrest indicates that the brain might tolerate up to 3 hours of complete circulatory arrest if the temperature is lowered close to the freezing point of water (zero degrees Celsius). This is not nearly long enough to put the brain on pause to allow the patient to reach a time where his current medical condition may be treatable. In light of these limitations, it is understandable that no serious attempts are currently being made to continue long-term care for a patient whose body has stopped functioning as an integrated organism.

But if low temperatures can extend the period that the brain can survive without circulation, much lower temperatures should be able to extend this period even further. At -196 degrees Celsius molecular activity has become so negligible that it can be said that the brain has been put on pause in the literal sense of the word. This allows the patient to be transported to a time when more advanced medical technologies are available, even if this would require hundreds of years. Advocates of human cryopreservation argue that long-term care at cryogenic temperatures offers a rational alternative to the current practice of burial and cremation of persons no longer treatable by contemporary medicine.

Contrary to popular views of cryonics, cryonics is not about preserving dead people but about long-term care of critically ill patients. The objection that cryonics is an attempt to resuscitate dead people reflects a misunderstanding of the rationale behind cryonics. The arguments supporting human cryopreservation are not radically different than the already established arguments behind general anesthesia and hypothermic circulatory arrest; it merely introduces lower temperatures and longer care. Therefore, the difference between contemporary medicine and cryonics is quantitative, not qualitative, in nature. Likewise, the relationship between cryonics and religion is not qualitatively different than that between contemporary medicine and religion. In both cases medical technology is used to preserve life.

Vitrification But does the procedure of cooling a patient to cryogenic temperatures not cause injury in itself? Most of the human body consists of water and lowering the body below the freezing point of water will produce massive ice formation. For this reason, patients who present for cryonics are protected from ice damage by using a cryoprotective agent to reduce, or even eliminate, ice formation. Conventional extracorporeal bypass technologies are used to circulate the solution throughout the body. When enough water is replaced with the cryoprotective agent the patient is maintained at cryogenic temperatures for long-term care. Historically the cryoprotective agents that were used in cryonics are mainstream cryoprotective agents such as DMSO and glycerol. High concentrations of glycerol or DMSO can significantly reduce ice formation, but cannot eliminate it altogether.

A better alternative to conventional cryoprotection is vitrification. Vitrification offers the prospect of cooling an organ to cryogenic temperatures without ice formation. Although vitrification of pure water requires extremely high cooling rates, these cooling rates can be greatly reduced if high concentrations of cryoprotective agents and ice blockers are added. Ice blockers are synthetic variants of naturally occurring anti-freeze proteins used by hibernating animals to protect themselves from freezing injury. The vitrification agent is introduced within a so-called carrier solution which includes molecules to prevent cell swelling, support metabolism, maintain physiological pH, and prevent oxidative damage. The vitrification agent is introduced in a gradual fashion to prevent excessive volume changes in cells. During the final stages of cryoprotectant perfusion the temperature is dropped below zero degrees Celcius to protect the cells from toxicity caused by high concentrations of the vitrification agent at higher temperatures.

The current generation of vitrification agents can preserve the fine details (ultrastructure) of the brain without requiring unfeasible cooling rates. Although electrical activity has recently been demonstrated in vitrified rabbit brain slices, reversible vitrification of the human brain without loss of cellular viability is currently not possible. The current research objective, therefore, is to improve on these vitrification agents to allow for reproducible vitrification and recovery of organs with complete long-term viability. Such a breakthrough would not only lead to cryogenic organ banking for transplantation and research but would remove the most fundamental obstacle to suspended animation of humans.

Brain death and cryonics

Although a vitrified patient cannot be rewarmed and restored to health with contemporary technologies, the extremely low temperatures at which a patient is maintained permit possible resuscitation of a patient in the future without any risk of deterioration during long-term care. In this sense it compares favorably to procedures such a hypothermic circulatory arrest which allow for only a few hours to treat a patient. This not only offers the option to treat patients who cannot be treated with contemporary medical technologies, it also offers the possibility to treat medical conditions where successful resuscitation is possible but higher brain function will be lost if care is resumed at normal body temperature.

A good example of this is cardiac arrest. Patients who have suffered more than 5-7 minutes of cardiac arrest can often be resuscitated, but some of the most vulnerable cells in the brain (such as the hippocampal CA1 neurons) will die within days of the insult. There are currently no effective medical interventions or neuroprotective agents that will prevent such damage. As a result, todays medicine can restore viability to such patients, but only by losing some, or most, higher brain functions.

If one believes that the objective of medical care is not just to preserve life in the sense of integrated biological function, but also to preserve the person, then one would agree that such patients might be better served by interventions that place them under long-term care in the form of cryonics. Although there is no guarantee that such patients will be restored to full functionality in the future, the certainty of higher brain death is an alternative that many people would prefer to avoid.


Cryonics does not involve the freezing of dead people. Cryonics involves placing critically ill patients that cannot be treated with contemporary medical technologies in a state of long-term low temperature care to preserve the person until a time when treatments might be available. Similar to such common medical practices as general anesthesia and hypothermic circulatory arrest, cryonics does not require a fundamental paradigm shift in how conventional medicine thinks about biology, physiology, and brain function. Although current cryopreservation methods are not reversible, under ideal circumstances the fine structure that encodes a persons personality is likely to be preserved. Complete proof of reversible vitrification of human beings would be sufficient, but is not necessary, for acceptance of cryonics as a form of long-term critical care medicine. The current alternative is death; or for persons who are at risk of suffering extensive brain injury, loss of personhood.

For very old and fragile patients, meaningful resuscitation would require reversal of the aging process. Obviously, the objective of cryonics is not to resuscitate patients in a debilitated and compromised condition, but to rejuvenate the patient. Ongoing research in fields such as biogerontology, nanomedicine, and synthetic biology inspire optimism that such treatment will be available in the future. The fortunate thing for cryonics patients is that even if fundamental breakthroughs in these fields will be the result of long and painstaking research, the cold temperatures allow them time a lot of time.

The first minutes after death

As currently practiced, cryonics procedures can only be started after legal death has been pronounced by a medical professional. To prevent brain injury between pronouncement of legal death and long-term care in liquid nitrogen all major cryonics organizations offer standby services to ensure that the time of circulatory arrest is minimized. In ideal circumstances the cryonics organization of which the patient is a member will deploy a standby team consisting of cryonics professionals to stabilize the patient immediately after pronouncement of legal death.

A mechanical device is used to restart blood circulation and ventilate the patient. Because the objective of this intervention is not to resuscitate but to stabilize the patient this is called cardiopulmonary support (CPS). At the same time the patient is lifted into a portable ice bath to induce hypothermia to slow metabolic rate. A number of medications are also given to support blood flow to the central organs, reverse and prevent blot clotting, restore physiological pH, prevent edema, and protect the brain from ischemic injury.

If the patient is pronounced legally dead at a remote location an additional step to this protocol is added and the patients blood is washed out and replaced with an organ preservation solution to preserve viability of the tissue during transport at low temperatures. The organ preservation solution that is currently used by cryonics organizations is similar to the cold organ preservation solutions that are used in conventional medicine (such as Viaspan) to preserve organs for transplantation.

At the cryonics organization the patients blood (or the organ preservation solution) is replaced with the vitrification agent to prevent ice formation during cooldown to liquid nitrogen temperatures for long-term care.

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What is cryonics? | Institute for Evidence-Based Cryonics

Virginia NSA Fastpitch Home – Virginia NSA Home

 NSA  Comments Off on Virginia NSA Fastpitch Home – Virginia NSA Home
Sep 162015

2015 NSA Guest Player Policy. NSA has adopted a Guest Payer rule that is at the discretion of each state how they will manage it or if they will offer it at all. Guest Players in Virginia for NON CHAMPIONSHIP PLAY ONLY (cannot Guest Play in States or World Series). Tournament Director approval required in advance. Virginia Policy & Info Guest Player Form NSA Roster Form

2015 Tournament Rainout / Refund Policy info

Fastpitch Tournament Photos

Important Notice regarding Insurance for the 2015-2016 Season

Starting with the 2015-16 seasons (Aug 1,2015) you must have NSA insurance to play in our tournaments. NSA insurance will be honored by other associations that do no require their own insurance. If you do not have NSA insurance the entry fee is increased $25 so that we can get a policy for you for that weekend. We have included a price chart to show our insurance is one of the cheapest for the coverage. This is national policy and not something we had control over. Fee info

Thanks for playing NSA Frank Rachubka

Virginia State Director

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Virginia NSA Fastpitch Home – Virginia NSA Home

Second Amendment Foundation

 Second Amendment  Comments Off on Second Amendment Foundation
Sep 132015

By SAF Admin on September 11, 2015

BELLEVUE, WA Responding to statements made by Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes Thursday to KING 5 News that the so-called gun violence tax is not too drastic, Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation which is (read more)

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By SAF Admin on August 24, 2015

BELLEVUE, WA The nations three leading firearms organizations joined forces today to sue the City of Seattle over adoption of a retail sales tax on guns and ammunition in what they allege is a clear violation of Washington States (read more)

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By SAF Admin on August 21, 2015

BELLEVUE, WA Attorneys for the Second Amendment Foundation and Florida Carry have asked a circuit court judge to assess fines of $5,000 against city officials in Tallahassee for failing to repeal local gun control ordinances that conflict with (read more)

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By SAF Admin on August 13, 2015

BELLEVUE, WA The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and Calguns Foundation (CGF) today filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on behalf of a Santa Clara County resident, challenging the city, its police (read more)

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By SAF Admin on July 23, 2015

BELLEVUE, WA This weeks announcement by the Obama administration that new citizens can recite the Oath of Allegiance without declaring they will bear arms on behalf of the United States is another subtle swipe at the right to keep and bear (read more)

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By SAF Admin on July 20, 2015

BELLEVUE, WA The Second Amendment Foundation today responded to published reports that the Obama administration is pushing to prevent citizens collecting Social Security benefits from owning guns if they have problems managing their own affairs (read more)

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By SAF Admin on July 9, 2015

BELLEVUE, WA Criminal charges have been dropped against a Nebraska man whose expensive firearms collection was seized in a case involving a misdemeanor conviction some years ago for carrying a knife that was an eighth-inch too long, and the (read more)

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By SAF Admin on July 7, 2015

BELLEVUE, WA The Second Amendment Foundation has named Andrew Gottlieb as its new director of Outreach and Development, representing the second generation of family activism in promoting and defending the right to keep and bear arms.

Gottlieb (read more)

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By SAF Admin on June 24, 2015

BELLEVUE, WA The Second Amendment Foundation is encouraged that a federal appeals court has ruled 2-1 that Stephen Dearths challenge of a federal law that prevents citizens living abroad from buying firearms while visiting in the United States (read more)

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By SAF Admin on June 23, 2015

BELLEVUE, WA The auction of an 1849 Colt Baby Dragoon revolver that once belonged to the late James Brady will help the Second Amendment Foundation battle restrictive gun laws and educate the public about the right to keep and bear arms.

A (read more)

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Second Amendment Foundation

Federal court rules that only drug companies, not supplement …

 Misc  Comments Off on Federal court rules that only drug companies, not supplement …
Sep 102015

(NaturalNews) In a ruling that many holistic healers and homeopathic physicians are likely to find hypocritical, a federal court has handed Big Pharma an unprecedented victory by giving a drug company preliminary approval to market a drug for a condition for which it has yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The drug, Vascepa, manufactured by Amarin Pharma, is approved for use in treating very high levels of fats known as triglycerides over 500 mg per deciliter in a patient’s bloodstream, reports But Amarin also wanted to promote the medication for use in patients who have “persistently high levels” of triglycerides, from 200 to 499 mg/deciliter.

The FDA denied that request earlier this year over concerns that Vascepa would not help such patients avoid heart attacks or heart disease. That decision led Amarin to file suit in court, claiming its First Amendment rights permitted the company to provide information to physicians and other primary care providers.

Providers have long prescribed medications for “off-label” uses those not included in a drug’s literature or for uses not specifically approved by federal regulators but the drug companies have traditionally been banned from marketing their products for such off-label uses.

“This is huge,” Jacob Sherkow, an associate professor at New York Law School, told The Washington Post. “There have been other instances a court has held that off-label marketing is protected by the First Amendment, but… this is the first time, I think, that any federal court that any court has held in such a clear, full-throated way that off-label marketing is protected by the First Amendment, period, full stop.” reported that the case stemmed from a 2012 New York City federal appeals court ruling finding that a Big Pharma sales rep had not violated FDA regulations by promoting off-label use for a drug to treat narcolepsy, Xyrem, because his speech as long as he was not being misleading was protected by the First Amendment. However, in the Amarin case, the FDA said that the Xyrem decision was limited in scope and therefore could not be applied to Vascepa, but Engelmayer disagreed.

However, the parameter of “truthful speech” and a complete statement of facts has proved concerning to some.

“I find the decision very troubling. It’s a big push off on to a very slippery slope, a very steep slippery slope toward removing the government’s authority to limit the claims that drug companies can make about the effectiveness of their products,” Harvard Medical School professor Jerry Avorn told the Post.

“There’s an enormous amount, enormous numbers of statements that drug companies could make about their products that are not overtly fraudulent, but are not the same as a comprehensive review of all the good and bad evidence, that the FDA undertakes when it reviews a drug,” Avorn added.

Makers and consumers of health-related supplements, however, are also decrying the ruling, especially companies whose First Amendment rights have been ignored by courts and the FDA in the past.

In December 2012, we reported that a federal appeals court in New York upheld the free speech rights of a pharmaceutical company regarding off-label uses of Xyrem, even as courts and the FDA were gagging makers of natural supplements.

And in March 2013, we reported that the FDA used a truth-in-labeling regulation in issuing warning letters to a pair of supplement companies whose “crime” was nothing more than having customer-related interactions via the Internet.

It appears that there are two separate standards for Big Pharma and holistic and homeopathic healers.


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The Best Definition of Singularity

 The Singularity  Comments Off on The Best Definition of Singularity
Sep 082015

The term Singularity has many definitions.

The everyday English definition of Singularity is a noun that designates the quality of being one of a kind, strange, unique, remarkable or unusual.

For a more specific definition of Singularity we can search The Wiktionary where we get the following five Singularity definitions:

1. the state of being singular, distinct, peculiar, uncommon or unusual 2. a point where all parallel lines meet 3. a point where a measured variable reaches unmeasurable or infinite value 4. (mathematics) the value or range of values of a function for which a derivative does not exist 5. (physics) a point or region in spacetime in which gravitational forces cause matter to have an infinite density; associated with Black Holes

What we are most interested in, however, is the definition of Singularity as a technological phenomenon — i.e. the Technological Singularity. Here we can also find a variety of subtly different interpretations of the definition of Singularity.

John von Neumann was quoted as saying that “the ever accelerating progress of technology … gives the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, could not continue.” His definition of the Singularity was that the Singularity is the moment beyond which “technological progress will become incomprehensively rapid and complicated.”

Vernor Vinge introduced the term Technological Singularity in his science fiction novel Marooned in Realtime(1986) and later developed the concept in his essay the Coming Technological Singularity (1993). His definition of Singularity is widely known as the event horizon thesis and in essence says that trans or post-human minds will imply a weirder future than we can imagine:

“Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended. […] I think it’s fair to call this event a singularity. It is a point where our models must be discarded and a new reality rules. As we move closer and closer to this point, it will loom vaster and vaster over human affairs till the notion becomes a commonplace. Yet when it finally happens it may still be a great surprise and a greater unknown.”

I.J. Good, who greatly influenced Vinge himself, never used the term Singularity itself. However, what Vinge called Singularity Good called intelligence explosion and by that he meant a positive feedback cycle within which minds will make technology to improve on minds which once started will rapidly surge upwards and create super-intelligence. This definition of Singularity is also known as the intelligence explosion hypothesis.

Ray Kurzweil is associated with the third and most popular interpretation of the Technological Singularity, often referred to as the accelerating change thesis. In his book The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology Kurzweil defined the Technological Singularity as:

“… a future period during which the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact so deep, that human life will be irreversibly transformed. Although neither utopian nor dystopian, this epoch will transform the concepts that we rely on to give meaning to our lifes, from our business models to the cycle of human life, including death itself.”

Kevin Kelly, founder of Wired Magazine

Singularity is the point at which “all the change in the last million years will be superseded by the change in the next five minutes.”

James Martin, a world-renowned leading futurist, computer scientist, author, lecturer and, among many other things, the largest donor in the history of Oxford University.

Singularity “is a break in human evolution that will be caused by the staggering speed of technological evolution.”


Since all of the above refer to the same broad occurrence, I will simply define the Technological Singularity as the event, or sequence of events, likely to occur at or after the birth of Artificial Intelligence. (especially when AI surpasses human intelligence)

If anything, it has to be clear that we really do not know what the Singularity is (or will be) so we are just using the term to show (or hide) our own ignorance.

For more on this topic check out 17 Definitions of the Technological Singularity

Do you agree or disagree with the content of this page? Do you want to improve it? Do you want to post some great singularity content of your own? Why not share it here at Singularity Symposium?!

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THE singularitiy, not the tech one. Not rated yet I am puzzled that THE singularity is barely mentioned on this site – the singularity before which time, space, matter and energy did not exist – (not

Singuarity or Chaos?Not rated yet Perhaps it will be the time when the number of recongized, recorded & real-time shared “patterns” will be so unfathomably large that all around “us” will

Singularity And The Infinite InvisibleNot rated yet The Universe continues to expand from its point of origin (Alpha point) since its inception at the Big Bang. As such, time itself expands along with it,

D’Count Lessismore of Moran-OvaNot rated yet D&D’s take on all this is: That super AI equals human irrelevance. The soon to come very few super power leaders will voraciously control

The third factor of intelligenceNot rated yet I am thinking of a new theory. At least to me it is new. I am thinking of the point when artificial intelligence is measured as equal or greater than human

The SarkhhoobadNot rated yet Singularity is best explained by the “sarkhoobad”, a mysterious phenomenon which if unraveled would shed light on many of the difficult to explain questions

bliss to ignorance ratioNot rated yet singularity transcends human comprehension as a linear event, therefore if it occurs we will be incapable of detecting its existence. time, place and

Albert Not rated yet I agree that human evolution is heading in this direction, namely trans humanism. Earth will probably experience another extinction event, so humans should

Time TravelNot rated yet I do not believe that there is much more to be done technologically (in a vastly more incomprehensible way) than what has already transpired with the exceptions

Ananda Jaisingh, VedantinNot rated yet Singularity means Brahman, satyam gyanam anantam, brahman as it is the source of all knowledge and therefore must be conscious, without limit or boundary,

Noone ScientistNot rated yet Singularity is the initial point which everthing that exist, has existed and will exist, is acted upon by the magic magnetic first particle of matter,

singularityNot rated yet We would not be able to recognise a singularity in a future sense, we would experience the now or the present event prior to the singularity,then pass

Mr. Ronald finn.Not rated yet Singularity is where everything meets you, no matter where you are or whatever you are doing it still relates to you and only you. A single direction without

Dr.Not rated yet A singularity is a point in the future where an intelligence explosion takes place.

Splitting of the SpeciesNot rated yet Single body, many minds vs many bodies single minds. Singularity? Iit means individualism while joining with many others in a single unit. Single does

Margie Call ) artistNot rated yet If because of exponential growth, and thoughts are things it seems to me everything would get so entangled that there will be a big bang that converts

Paul BennettNot rated yet In the “Electric Kool-aid Acid Test” it is ‘said’ that you are either “on the bus” or “off the bus” in the event of a technological singularity you will

George Anstadt MD FACPMNot rated yet the Singularity: When the relentless drive of DNA to survive commands a being with the power of artificial intelligence.

Good, Bad, WeirdNot rated yet The Singularity, as defined above, is an unknown unknown. That means this whole thing is a random event. In the future there is a point, which statistically

Continuation of the Human RaceNot rated yet The essence of what we call the human race has to be evolved into a form of transmittable energy that will transcend the limits of the observable universe.

The Universal Grand IllusionNot rated yet This will be the point when the self-absorbed intellectual elites reach the apex of the Ego, becoming convinced that we have fully digested the essence

human beingNot rated yet singularity is the moment when we have the capacity to understand all knowledge from the past and from the future in the present

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The Best Definition of Singularity

Illuminati (Earth-616) – Marvel Comics Database

 Illuminati  Comments Off on Illuminati (Earth-616) – Marvel Comics Database
Sep 062015

Skrulls, The Hood, Rabum Alal, Black Swan, Terrax, Avengers, Captain America, Great Society, Namor’s Cabal, Black Order, Imperial Guard, Pride; formerly Hulk, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Avengers


The Illuminati were a covert think-tank team consisting of Mister Fantastic, Iron Man, Professor X, Doctor Strange, Black Bolt, and Namor. They met in secret for a number of years collaborating on information and strategy, operating relatively successfully initially, despite their unique traits and considerable differences in nearly every way.

They each represented a certain something that was very special Namor, of course, was the king of 71% of the planet, of the Atlanteans, and represented a certain mindset of anti-heroes; Tony Stark represented a certain type of hero the Avenger type of hero, one who understood and appreciated that heroes could work with the government, rather than outside of it; Reed was the science side of the heroes; Black Bolt represented the Inhumans; Dr. Strange spoke for the mystical side, and Professor Xavier was there for the mutants. They all brought with them a unique viewpoint and perspective that wasn’t shared by the others.

The group formed some time in the aftermath of the Kree-Skrull War, and probably after the Avengers/Defenders war. Iron Man realized that each of the individual members had information about these alien races beforehand, and they could have collectively stopped it. He brought together the Illuminati with the Black Panther in Wakanda, and proposed that they form a government of superhumans similar to the United Nations. However, Namor refused, on the grounds that too many superheroes were violent outsiders (such as Hawkeye and Quicksilver, both former criminals). Xavier refused on the grounds that mutants were already feared and hated, and if Iron Man thought he could fight this with iconic superheroes, it would result in heroes being feared and hated as much as mutants. Dr. Strange refused on the grounds that too many heroes were anti-establishment and that the group Iron Man had assembled to form a governing body would not be ‘anti-establishment’, but rather a form of ‘counter-establishment’.[1]

The group did, however, agree to meet to exchange information regularly. The only individual present who refused was the Black Panther, who took issue with their self-righteous attitudes and feared the association would end in less than altruistic actions. He also predicted that the group would one day find themselves in the middle of the kind of event they had formed to prevent, and would be entirely at odds with each other.[1]

The Illuminati traveled to the homeworld of the Skrulls, who were still reeling from their defeat during the Kree-Skrull War on Earth. The group warned the Empire not to attack Earth again, but were unable to escape afterwards. The Skrulls analyzed their captives (physiology, genetics, technology, etc) and gleaned information from their behavior, until Iron Man was able to lead an escape. The Illuminati recognized that another attack was inevitable, while the Skrull Empire began to make use of the data they compiled.[2] By using a clone of Reed Richards, the Skrulls were able to be undetected by superheroes.[3]

Mr. Fantastic revealed to the group that he had been collecting the Infinity Gems, and hoped to collect them all with the help of the Illuminati. Despite a general apprehension, the group managed to acquire all six gems. Upon doing so, Mr. Fantastic attempted to will the Gems out of existence, but he was unable to do so. Faced with this failure, and a reprimand from Uatu, the Watcher, he made the controversial decision to give each Illuminati member one gem to hide so that they would never be combined and used again.[4]

The Illuminati, minus Tony Stark, whose role as Iron Man was being filled by Jim Rhodes, confronted the Beyonder. The Beyonder was an Inhuman who was a mutant before he was exposed to the Terrigen Mists. Black Bolt, under the guise as the Beyonder’s “king”, convinced him to go into another dimension in exile.[5]

The Illuminati approached Noh-Varr, a Kree warrior who tried to take over the Earth, in his prison. They demonstrated the Kree connection to the Inhumans, and their desire to protect Earth. They demonstrated the primitive nature of humanity, but also the potential of the race to evolve and better itself. Ultimately, using Captain Marvel (a deceased, Kree-born superhero), they tried to convince Noh-Varr to use his powers to protect the Earth and guide humans to better themselves.[6]

Iron Man informed the Illuminati of the formation of a new Avengers team in light of the breakout from the Raft. All but Namor wished him well in his endeavor, and Iron Man moved on to the issue of the Sentry. Although none of the Illuminati had any recollection of him, Mr. Fantastic discovered that he had files on the Sentry and Professor Xavier discovered that his mind had been tampered with. Mr. Fantastic was able to use the files to get through to Robert Reynolds, aka the Sentry, and help him reverse what has been done to him. Iron Man told the group that the Avengers took full responsibility for the Sentry, should he ever lose control, but dodged their questions about other recent Avengers inquiries.[7]

Maria Hill, Director of SHIELD, approached Iron Man concerning the Hulk, who had recently destroyed Las Vegas with several casualties. Iron Man presented a solution to the problem of the Hulk to the Illuminati (excluding an absent Professor Xavier), suggesting that they shoot him into space, sending him to an uninhabited planet where he could live out the rest of his days alone. Namor, alone, dissented to the plan. He believed that they had no right to banish their ally from Earth and accused them of not helping to cure Bruce Banner to the best of their abilities. The other four members voted in favor of the plan, and Namor departed. While leaving, he said that the Black Panther was correct, and predicted that the Hulk would return to seek justified revenge.

Despite deciding not to meet again, Iron Man called together the Illuminati (excluding Professor Xavier, who is in exile in Scotland after the M-Day) to introduce them to the Superhuman Registration Act. He illustrated the fact that recent events had raised suspicion of all super-powered individuals and groups, and that one wrong move on the part of a hero would trigger disaster.

If the Act passed, a war amongst heroes would result and cause untold damage. In order to avoid it, Iron Man reiterated his idea of a representative body of superheroes, and urged the group to come out in favor of registration prior to a disaster. Namor dismissed the issue as none of Atlantis’ business, Dr. Strange and Black Bolt disagreed on principle, but Mr. Fantastic agreed with Tony. The damage was done, however, and the Illuminati dissolved.[2]

Although the Illuminati never met or operated as a group during Civil War, their actions in the conflict reflected their reactions at the last meeting. Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic became two of the leading members of the pro-registration side, and worked closely with the United States government and SHIELD. Dr. Strange stayed out of the conflict, meditating and fasting,[8] though he later admitted, after joining the New Avengers and finding new love, that he regretted his lack of involvement. Afterwards, he joined the New Avengers, who continued to operate underground without registering. Black Bolt and the Inhumans stayed out of the conflict, but began their own Cold War with the United States. Namor was involved only so far as it served his interests. This included avenging the death of his cousin in the Stamford tragedy, and coming to the aid of his friend Captain America’s forces in the final battle.[9] Professor Xavier was not on Earth during the conflict.

During Civil War, Reed was contacted by Amadeus Cho, who informed him that Hulk did not land on the intended planet. When the Hulk ultimately returned to Earth, he sought revenge on the Illuminati as Namor had warned. His first act was to attack and defeat the Skrull Black Bolt at the Inhuman settlement on the Moon. After providing New York with a twenty-four-hour time limit to hand the other three Illuminati over to him, the Hulk approached Xavier at his mansion to determine whether he would have supported the Illuminati plan had he been present. He battled the X-Men, eventually beating every single member in Xaviers school. Xavier told Hulk that had he been there, he would have voted yes, and offered himself to the Hulk in exchange for the safety of the X-Men, but after learning of the mutant population’s recent severe losses as a result of M-Day, and the deaths of several of Xaviers students, the Hulk decided that the X-Men had suffered enough and departed.

Having then taken over Manhattan Island, the Hulk was attacked by Iron Man in a new Hulkbuster armor, but just when it seemed Tony had triumphed the hulk became enraged allowing him to defeat Starks new armor and Stark Tower. Despite the aid of the other members of the Fantastic Four, including temporary members Black Panther and Storm, the same fate befell Mr. Fantastic. Dr. Strange tried to enter the Hulk’s mind, but Hulk tricked Strange into presenting himself in a physical form that he attacked upon appearance. Strange later invoked and is possessed by the demon spirit of Zom, hoping that he could stop the Hulk before it was too late. However he lost control of his new found power, and he almost caused some civilians to die during his battle with the Hulk. Although the Hulk saved them, this action made Strange lose his confidence in his powers and made him weak enough for the Hulk to defeat him.

Hulk then implanted the Illuminati members with obedience discs and forced them to fight each other in his makeshift gladiatorial ring in Madison Square Garden. However the Hulk spared them from killing each other, showing them that he proved his point to the world. They survived the encounter by the timely intervention of the Sentry, who battled the Hulk, but ultimately lost as the two reverted to their human forms and Banner knocked him out with a blow to the head. Hulk then returned, but Stark used prototype defense satellites to negate the Hulk’s powers. The Illuminati was also cleared from the responsibility of Sakaar’s destruction when Miek admitted he saw the Red King’s forces breach the ship’s warp core and kept quiet to initiate what Miek felt was Hulk’s destiny as the “Worldbreaker”.[10] Namor, being the only Illuminati member opposed to shooting Hulk into space from the beginning, was spared by Hulk for that reason, and remained non-involved throughout the conflict.

Iron Man called the Illuminati together one more time to show them the body of the Skrull that was posing as Elektra. He felt that the Skrull represented a secret invasion of Earth, and that the group was responsible (after traveling to the Skrull home-world years before). His suspicions were proved correct when Black Bolt revealed himself to be a disguised Skrull. The five remaining members were able to barely defeat it, and its two compatriots, and began making plans to detect and defeat the remaining Skrulls. They soon realized, however, that this was pointless, as they couldn’t trust each other.[11]

Iron Man and Mister Fantastic were the two chief fighters of the Secret Invasion, taking central roles in the main battles, and key to the ultimate failure of the Invasion, though surviving not unscathed at all. Iron Man brought the Skrull corpse to the world’s top minds, and summoned Criti Noll (in the form of Henry Pym) and Mister Fantastic to examine and dissect the body. Stark was soon, as planned by the Skrulls, called in, along with his Mighty Avengers to the Savage Land, where one of the first and most significant of battles of the invasion took place, starting when a spaceship crashed there, several dozen superheroes came out, and the New Avengers, too, arrived on the scene. Just as Mister Fantastic ingeniously discovered the method of concealment the Skrulls had been utilizing to become virtually undetectable, Criti Noll acted, using a special, Skrull-designed gun to subdue Reed Richards and prevent him from maintaining solidity; the remaining members of the Fantastic Four were also swiftly taken out elsewhere for most of the invasion, though all survived, if but barely. Agent Abigail Brand of S.W.O.R.D. freed Mister Fantastic and took control over the Skrull ship he was held in to the Savage Land, but sadly not before the Skrulls managed to infect Iron Man with an alien virus disabling himself, his armor, and S.H.I.E.L.D. itself. Veranke, disguised as Spider-Woman, also attempted to crush and destabilize what remained of Stark’s morale, will and faith by trying to convince him he was actually a Skrull sleeper agent, but the Black Widow convinced him otherwise. Richards and Brand arrived, with Reed using a self-designed machine to reveal the Skrulls in the midst of the Savage Land battle, which were quickly disposed of by the heroes. Reed and Tony led the other heroes back to the now chaotic New York for the final battle, in which Reed exposed the Skrulls and which he was a prime target in, but Reed survived, and Tony, though his secondhand and relatively crude armor he had quickly constructed suffer enough damage to force him to initially retreat from the battle, used a spare old Iron Man armor to enable him to aid the struggle against the Skrulls, freeing the prisoners, including Pym and Jarvis. The blame for the invasion was placed on Stark, who lost S.H.I.E.L.D., a great deal of public support and popularity, and much of his pride and hope, becoming, essentially, a fugitive from the now-powerful Norman Osborn.

The Fantastic Four were hit hard when Osborn, knowing Reed Richards’ intellect well exceeded his own, attacked the Baxter Building when the Four were in another time and another place. Richards was more shaken by his own internal conflicts than any outside threats; nevertheless, Norman Osborn’s H.A.M.M.E.R. agents nearly succeeded in capturing the Four. Richards, after taking a long, hard look at the life, was inspired to construct a machine that was capable of bending reality itself. H.A.M.M.E.R. arrived just as Reed activated the machine, interfacing with the Baxter Building’s power supply and resulting in an energy fluctuation that sent Sue, Ben and Johnny back to the prehistoric era. Reed searched for answers which could only be found in alternate timelines as the three found themselves in a super hero Hyborian-age civil war. The Richards children, Franklin and Valeria, were the only ones available to confront the agents Osborn had sent. Richards studied other parallel Earths to see if any found a peaceful solution to the Civil War, which resulted from the Superhuman Registration Act. Reed peered into different worlds, some more bizarre than our own, to see what they did differently. Reed met with the other five Illuminati to handle the problem.

Feeling compromised by his use of dark magic, Doctor Strange left the New Avengers during the late stage of the infiltration and departed to parts unknown. He eventually resurfaced, alive but having lost nearly everything, from his house to his position as Sorcerer Supreme. What he did retain were the enmities of the Hood and Dormammu, both of whom wanted to slay Strange more desperately than ever, and a sense of duty to find the new Sorcerer Supreme and hand over the artifacts of the office. Feeling a desperate lack of power, he fled to the New Avengers for help.

Black Bolt (along with his son Ahura) was captured before the World War Hulk and did not even know about the invasion. His voice was intended by the Skrulls to be used as a powerful weapon of mass destruction, but the Inhumans, aided by the renowned Kree, Ronan the Accuser, found their former king, rescued him and returned to Attilan, with Black Bolt and Maximus sharing power, only for the Inhumans and Attilan, shaken by the invasion, angered by the Skrulls, and tiring of humanity’s treatment, themselves to depart from the Sol system, destroy the fleeing Skrull ship along the way, took control over the Kree Empire from Ronan, and realized their ultimate destiny in a conflict shaking the cosmos.[12]

Namor, along with his new ally Doctor Doom, were struck at least somewhat less hard, though certainly affected. Neither was successfully replaced by Skrulls, and it was unknown whether their forces were assaulted, either covertly or openly. Doom was at first unaware of even the Skrull invasion, before it outright exploded, though Veranke named him one of the “bigger guns” to be taken down. Doom was released from The Raft by the Skrull virus that infected Stark’s armor in the Savage Land and rendered StarkTech inoperable (it was unknown whether Doom was considered as part of the release). Namor and Atlantis were affected to an uncertain extent, with Namor, too, one of the “bigger guns” Veranke wanted removed and acknowledged as one of the Illuminati. Both separately arrived to the first Cabal meeting after the invasion, held by Osborn and attended by three others, though it was revealed afterwards they had been concocting secret plans that even Osborn was unaware of. Namor’s allegiance afterwards was unclear, from helping other heroes defend New York from the menace of the Red Hulk and aiding the new Captain America in searching for the first Human Torch’s body, to hunting down Tony Stark and insisting T’challa join the Cabal.[13] However, most recently, when an Atlantean sleeper cell launched a terrorist attack on California, Osborn ordered Namor to publicly denounce the rogues and execute them, leaving one alive to parade before the media. Namor vehemently refused and walked out on the Cabal.[14]

Even the Black Panther, T’Challa, after successfully fighting off a Skrull fleet attacking Wakanda with his wife Storm, forewarned by the discovery of the Brother Voodoo Skrull, was taken down, due to the cunning and might of Doctor Doom, an ambushing force of Doombots, and the Cabal, with a new female Black Panther (his sister) active, and Wakanda’s spirit shaken.

The Illuminati were technically no more, with its members so scarred and divided, along with the problem of working together during crises: Black Bolt was worlds (and galaxies) away; Doctor Strange’s strength was significantly reduced without the role of Sorcerer Supreme and the Sanctum Sanctorum; Tony Stark was blamed and heavily mistrusted as a fugitive and a failure; Xavier was no longer in charge of the X-Men but still in constant peril; Namor was working for sinister purposes once again as the Illuminati’s opposite, the Cabal, emerged in the shadow world that was rising; and Richards was occupied with the Fantastic Four and his own troubles with Osborn. Even the Black Panther was in severely critical condition. The Illuminati continued to exist in alternate realities.

To handle the problem of alternate-reality versions of the Civil War, Reed reassembled the Illuminati. It was unclear where Namor’s loyalties were and if the Illuminati would continue to unite against the threat of the Cabal.[15]

Parker Robbins, aka The Hood, escaped prison and started a search for the Infinity Gauntlet. While at the Raft, he had received a tip from an imprisoned Inhuman which led him to the Reality Gem at Attilan. Then he teleported himself to the Baxter Building, where he used the first Gem’s power to bypass security and take the Power Gem. The two Gems sent him unwittingly to the desert, where he found Red Hulk and defeated him. Red Hulk managed to get to Avengers Tower and bring news of what had happened. Realizing that the Gems were back in circulation, Iron Man quickly gathered the Illuminati, with Medusa in the place of her then-deceased husband Black Bolt.

The team went to Atillan to investigate but were discovered by three teams of Avengers, revealing the continued existence of the Illuminati to the superhero world. Their teammates were visibly hurt that these men had been operating secretly and considered it a breach of trust — the wound between Iron Man and Steve Rogers was particularly deep. However, the Avengers teams united to search for the Gems before Robbins could obtain them. Namor, Thor, and Red Hulk recovered the Time Gem at the bottom of the sea. Xavier, along with the Secret Avengers, Wolverine, Spider-Woman and Maria Hill went to the ruins of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, where the Mind Gem was guarded by the Danger Room. The Space Gem was hidden at Area 51 in New Mexico, but when Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, Doctor Strange, and some of the New Avengers arrived, Robbins already had it in his possession. The Space Gem brought Hood to the Time Gem, which was being protected by the Red Hulk, Thor, and Namor. Red Hulk managed to take the Power Gem from Hood when he was distracted by the presence of Uatu, the Watcher. The combatants were teleported to New Mexico again, where Iron Man and the rest of the Avengers woke up from being knocked out by Robbins previously.

Faced with a cavalry charge of angry Avengers, Robbins escaped to Professor Xavier’s school and obtained the Mind Gem, with which he defeated Xavier in a telepathic fight. After knocking him out along the rest of the heroes there, Robbins teleported to the location of the Soul Gem on the Astral Plane; there, Strange met Robbins under the illusion of the mad titan Thanos. He attempted to talk Robbins into giving over the other Gems, but when that failed he took them both out of the Astral Plane and into the middle of a group of other heroes. Red Hulk attacked Robbins with the Power Gem, allowing Namor and Ms. Marvel to take the Mind and the Space Gems. Parker was unaware of these losses until Reality Gem was taken from him by the other Gems, which were in the Infinity Gauntlet held by Iron Man, making him the first human to wield this artifact.

Iron Man used the Gauntlet to send Robbins back to prison and then apparently willed it out of existence. In reality he sent it to a secret location, to which he regathered the Illuminati. Now counting Steve Rogers among their number, they divided the Infinity Gems again and took them to new hiding places. The re-formation of the group appears to remain a secret.

When the Phoenix Force returned to Earth and created a war between the Avengers and the X-Men, Captain America re-convened the Illuminati to convince Namor, who was possessed by the Phoenix, to cease his activities and convince the rest of the Phoenix Five to do the same. The meeting proved to be unproductive as most of the members were split in opinions on the conflict, and all of them left, thinking Namor wouldn’t come. Namor arrived in the room after the others had left and Captain America asked him to stand down, but Namor refused, although he acknowledged that he still respected Captain America as a friend, an ally and even a brother, which was why he wouldn’t capture him or reveal any of their secrets to the other Phoenixes.

After a mysterious portal to an alternate universe opened in the middle of Wakanda, Black Panther had an encounter with a mysterious figure claiming to be a “Black Swan”, who was trying to destroy another universe from colliding with hers. After realizing the threat that his universe would collide with another, T’Challa captured Black Swan and re-convened the Illuminati deciding to join them officially to face this new threat,[16] Beast later joined the team as asked by Professor X in his last will.

The Illuminati used the Infinity Gauntlet to buy their universe more time by pushing the colliding universe back for some time, but during the process, the gems were destroyed. Captain America upon this failure didn’t like the direction the team was willing to go because of the moral grey area and wouldn’t back off of his opposition to the idea of destroying another planet. The group decided it was best to move on without Captain America and Dr Strange wiped his mind of any memory of the Illuminati removing him from the group.[17]

The members of the Illuminati began working on solutions to destroy other worlds in the occasion an Incursion happened. Iron Man began working on a partial Dyson Sphere to power a weapon Reed Richards named Sol’s Hammer. Doctor Strange retrieved a forbidden tome, with a spell that could destroy a world at the price of the caster’s life. T’challa and Reed developed a large armory of world killing devices reverse engineered from the Black Swans tech used to destroy a planet previously. When another Incursion happened, the Illuminati traveled to the other Earth to see if they couldn’t save people there before destroying the world. They found that the Galaktus of that universe had come to destroy that Earth to save his universe. They ended up fighting his Herald, Terrax, whom they captured but not in time to stop Galaktus, who consumed the other Earth, averting the Incursion.[18]

While interrogating Black Swan, who revealed that the Incursions began with the birth of the Great Destroyer, another Incursion struck, this time in Latveria.[19] The Illuminati took an Antimatter Injection System they needed to destroy the other Earth. This incursion was different from the others, as the colour of the sky was blue, which Black Swan indicated as the arrival of the Mapmakers, beings which wait for an incursion in order to infect and remake one of the Earths after destabilizing one, making a piece of the dead world collide into the living Earth. After realizing the colliding Earth was already dead, Black Panther detonated the trigger of the Antimatter Injection System, destroying the other Earth and saving theirs.[20]

When Thanos and his Black Order arrived Earth and demanded a tribute in exchange for the survival of its inhabitants, Black Bolt revealed the Illuminati that the Mad Titan used the demand for the tribute of the heads of younglings between the ages of sixteen and twenty-two as a cover for the search of his lost Inhuman-descendant son.[21] Using the Terrigen Codex, the Illuminati embarked on the search for Thanos’ son, Thane, but were stopped by the appearance of a new incursion in Australia.[22]

Before reaching a decision about what to do about the other Earth, the Illuminati were greeted by an Aleph arriving from the other Earth. The Aleph led them to the Builders of that universe who explained that the early death of the multiverse had led to the collapse of the Superflow, the space between universes, that they used to traverse them. In order to avert disaster and ensure the existence of the Multiverse, the Builders across the Multiverse had decided to destroy all Earths, thus hopefully stopping the Incursions. Since the Builders of Earth-616 had failed in their mission, these builders urged the Illuminati to destroy their own world for the sake of the Multiverse.[23]

Upon returning to Earth, the Illuminati discovered Thanos had invaded Wakanda and gained access to the Illuminati’s antimatter bombs by capturing Black Bolt. The Illuminati managed to fight back.[24] When the Illumianti arrived to the room where the bombs were, they found themselves against Thanos’ general Supergiant, who defeated them by mentally controlling Black Bolt. When Supergiant activated one of the bombs, Maximus appeared with the trigger. He triggered the bombs, but also used Lockjaw to transport the antimatter bomb along with Supergiant to a distant uninhabited planet where she died in the explosion.

The Illuminati travelled to Greenland in order to help the Avengers defeat Thanos, but arrived after the battle had ended when Thane trapped the Mad Titan in an amber construct which left him in a state of “living death.” Iron Man convinced the Avengers to let him keep Thanos, as he would supposedly “take care” of him, but secretly placed him in the Necropolis, where he and the rest of the Illuminati went about planning for the universe’s coming end.[25]

The Illuminati vs. the Great Society

Black Swan prompted them to build a “mirror” that would allow them to look into other universes. Reed Richards realized however that he had already built such a device, The Bridge.[26]

The next Incursion pitted the Illuminati against the Great Society of Earth-4290001, a group of noble heroes who had been able to prevent the destruction of their Earth without bloodshed. However, the Society no longer had the means to prevent this Incursion in the same way as the others. The Illuminati tried to convince the Society to work together with them, but the Society doubted that the Illuminati had any intentions of allowing their own world to be destroyed, and knew that they had the means to destroy the Society’s Earth. Knowing that it would come to bloodshed in the end and unwilling to waste anymore time, Namor struck the first blow, starting a battle for the fate of their respective worlds.[27]

Even though the Great Society turned the tide of the battle to their favor, Doctor Strange ended the battle by unleashed a demon which killed most of the Great Society and fatally injured Sun God. As the Illuminati were leaving this Earth having set the antimatter injector, Sun God begged them not to destroy his Earth. Black Panther offered him the chance to return with them, but he refused, preferring to die with his own Earth alongside his friends.

Back at their own universe, and with only ten minutes before impact, the Illuminati debated who would activate the antimatter injector. Both Mister Fantastic and Black Panther tried to will themselves to do it, but failed. Namor admitted that his personal moral beliefs weren’t worth more than the survival of billions of lives, and he was the one to finally activate the trigger, destroying the inhabited Earth.[28] Following this course of action, the Illuminati confronted Namor for what he had done. The friction between Namor and T’Challa escalated, and after revealing that he was the one who led the Black Order into assaulting Wakanda, Namor left.[29]

Due to the exposure to the explosion of the Watcher’s eye, which revealed deep secrets related to them to those in its blast radius,[30] Captain America remembered the mindwipe the Illuminati submitted him to, and confronted Iron Man about it.[31] He decided that the Illuminati’s actions shouldn’t be tolerated, and charged the Avengers with hunting them down.[32] At the same time, faced with another Incursion immediately after the last one, Namor had taken over Necropolis, freed the prisoners of the Illuminati and formed a new incarnation of the Cabal, with the purpose of destroying the incursive Earths, doing what the Illuminati were not willing to do.[33]

Eight months into the future, the Illuminati went into hiding, and added to their ranks Captain Britain, Amadeus Cho and Yellowjacket.[34] Because of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s improvement on ways to track them down, the Illuminati had to periodically move from base to base. After Cho infiltrated the Avengers Tower, now the S.H.I.E.L.D. Station: Golgotha, the team recovered the files of Tony Stark, who had gone into hiding and was yet to be found.[35]

While on the run, the Illuminati repeatedly attempted to find a way to solve the problem of Incursions, from trying to create a new Earth with a Cosmic Cube and then with Franklin Richards’ powers, to asking the Celestials and Galactus for help, but all these plans failed.[36]

With a new incursion on the horizon, the Illuminati devised a plan to get rid of Namor’s Cabal.[37] They let themselves be found by Steve Rogers’ Avengers, and set a trap to subdue them with the help of Sunspot’s Avengers.[38] Even though the help of the Invisible Woman was needed to make this possible, as Rogers’ Avengers had brought their own reinforcements,[39] the Illuminati were able to share their plan with Steve.

Namor, who had become disgusted with the Cabal’s needless slaughtering of the people of worlds they could destroy painlessly, was ready to turn himself in, but also set a trap to destroy the Cabal. For this next Incursion, the incursive world had been ravaged by the Sidera Maris. Namor would lead the Cabal to said world, activate the antimatter injector without their knowledge, and leave them to die with said Earth, preventing them from escaping with the use of an A.I.M. platform capable of creating an impenetrable barrier between the two colliding Earths. However, as Namor had left the incursive Earth and prepared to activate the platform, Black Panther and Black Bolt appeared before him. They incapacitated Namor and threw him off the platform to the soon-to-be-destroyed Earth in order to make him personally pay for his crimes. As the antimatter injector began to destroy the Earth, T’Challa and Blackagar returned to theirs, informing the Avengers that not only the Cabal had been destroyed, but Namor was also not going to come back.[37]

With the Cabal seemingly dealt with (even though they had actually survived and escaped to Earth-1610), the Illuminati and S.H.I.E.L.D. reached a truce and started working together.[36] Inspired by Valeria Richards, the Illuminati stopped working on a way to stop the incursions, as they “couldn’t win,” but started planning the creation of a “lifeboat” to survive the destruction of the universe, in order “not to lose.” Meanwhile, the Shi’ar empire discovered the link between the decay of the Multiverse and the Earth, for which they decided that if the universe was to live, the Earth must be destroyed. Even though they planned a sneak attack on the Earth, the Guardians of the Galaxy managed to discover the Shi’ar’s plan and warned the Avengers.[40]

While approaching Earth, the Shi’ar alerted humanity that they had two hours left to live until Earth was destroyed by their fleet. Using a super-weapon capable of channeling the Earth’s power, Sunspot and A.I.M. retaliated against the Shi’ar in front, while S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Avengers used a Planetkiller seized from the Beyonders to attack from behind. However, A.I.M.’s weapon overheated and exploded, and the Planetkiller was destroyed by the Annihilation Wave. With no options left, the Avengers prepared to meet their end. However, Iron Man had flown to Sol’s Hammer, and prepared to use it.[41]

Iron Man saved the Earth when he destroyed the Shi’ar fleet, but the final incursion was still on the horizon. The Avengers and the Illuminati started deciding which people would be allowed into a “lifeboat” they had created, which could theoretically survive the destruction of the universe. Meanwhile, as the final incursion happened, Steve finally confronted Tony for having betrayed his trust.[42]

Equipment: The Bridge, Incursion Detection devices, formerly the Infinity Gauntlet and Infinity Gems, Xavier School’s Cerebro Transportation: Lockjaw, Quinjet Weapons: Each members’ arsenal, Sol’s Hammer, Antimatter Injection Systems

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Everything you need to know about Bitcoin mining What is …

 Bitcoin  Comments Off on Everything you need to know about Bitcoin mining What is …
Sep 032015

Currently, based on (1) price per hash and (2) electrical efficiency the best Bitcoin miner options are:





Bitcoin mining is the process of adding transaction records to Bitcoin’s public ledger of past transactions or blockchain. This ledger of past transactions is called the block chain as it is a chain of blocks. The block chain serves to confirm transactions to the rest of the network as having taken place.

Bitcoin nodes use the block chain to distinguish legitimate Bitcoin transactions from attempts to re-spend coins that have already been spent elsewhere.

Bitcoin mining is intentionally designed to be resource-intensive and difficult so that the number of blocks found each day by miners remains steady. Individual blocks must contain a proof of work to be considered valid. This proof of work is verified by other Bitcoin nodes each time they receive a block. Bitcoin uses the hashcash proof-of-work function.

The primary purpose of mining is to allow Bitcoin nodes to reach a secure, tamper-resistant consensus. Mining is also the mechanism used to introduce Bitcoins into the system: Miners are paid any transaction fees as well as a “subsidy” of newly created coins.

This both serves the purpose of disseminating new coins in a decentralized manner as well as motivating people to provide security for the system.

Bitcoin mining is so called because it resembles the mining of other commodities: it requires exertion and it slowly makes new currency available at a rate that resembles the rate at which commodities like gold are mined from the ground.

A proof of work is a piece of data which was difficult (costly, time-consuming) to produce so as to satisfy certain requirements. It must be trivial to check whether data satisfies said requirements.

Producing a proof of work can be a random process with low probability, so that a lot of trial and error is required on average before a valid proof of work is generated. Bitcoin uses the Hashcash proof of work.

Bitcoin mining a block is difficult because the SHA-256 hash of a block’s header must be lower than or equal to the target in order for the block to be accepted by the network.

This problem can be simplified for explanation purposes: The hash of a block must start with a certain number of zeros. The probability of calculating a hash that starts with many zeros is very low, therefore many attempts must be made. In order to generate a new hash each round, a nonce is incremented. See Proof of work for more information.

The Bitcoin mining network difficulty is the measure of how difficult it is to find a new block compared to the easiest it can ever be. It is recalculated every 2016 blocks to a value such that the previous 2016 blocks would have been generated in exactly two weeks had everyone been mining at this difficulty. This will yield, on average, one block every ten minutes.

As more miners join, the rate of block creation will go up. As the rate of block generation goes up, the difficulty rises to compensate which will push the rate of block creation back down. Any blocks released by malicious miners that do not meet the required difficulty target will simply be rejected by everyone on the network and thus will be worthless.

When a block is discovered, the discoverer may award themselves a certain number of bitcoins, which is agreed-upon by everyone in the network. Currently this bounty is 25 bitcoins; this value will halve every 210,000 blocks. See Controlled Currency Supply.

Additionally, the miner is awarded the fees paid by users sending transactions. The fee is an incentive for the miner to include the transaction in their block. In the future, as the number of new bitcoins miners are allowed to create in each block dwindles, the fees will make up a much more important percentage of mining income.

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Everything you need to know about Bitcoin mining What is …

Bitcoin – RationalWiki

 Bitcoin  Comments Off on Bitcoin – RationalWiki
Sep 032015

the best part about bitcoins is that you get to watch libertarians slowly discover why financial regulations exist to begin with

Bitcoin (code: BTC, XBT[2]) is an Internet-based digital currency and payment network; it uses strong cryptography to prevent users from duplicating money. Bitcoin’s independence from the control of governments, corporations, or other centralized entities tends to appeal to libertarians, anarcho-capitalists, and technophiles.[3] At the same time, it also does not enjoy the security and protection which those large bodies can ostensibly provide, making it a volatile and often insecure asset.

Bitcoin was first proposed by a person known only by the apparent pseudonym of “Satoshi Nakamoto” in late 2008, at the height of the banking crisis.[4] The identity of him/her/them has been a continuing source of intrigue.[5]

The currency is designed to employ lots of computers to process and record transactions. The solution to this is “mining,” in which Bitcoin users run software to do all the necessary work.[6] Every time someone successfully proves they performed this work, they receive bitcoins in return. This provides an incentive to keep the currency running, but also attracts a lot of prospectors and speculators looking for easy money, and scammers who consider them suitably exploitable suckers.[7]

The currency’s only practical use case is purchasing illicit goods (e.g., drugs) and services (e.g., murder-for-hire).[8][9] There has so far been no other use case for which it is superior to existing channels.

In 2014, the cryptocurrency began a sharp decline after a principal exchange, Mt. Gox, shut down following three months of blatant market manipulation.[10][11] It was later revealed that an undiscovered “leak” in the company’s bitcoin wallet had rendered them insolvent in 2012, and virtually penniless by 2014.[12] Essentially, Bitcoin’s astronomical rise was the direct result of meaningless trades with fake money.[13]

It’s like a house on fire with freshly baked cookies inside.

The notable bit about Bitcoin is that it is intended to be entirely decentralised. The blockchain, the cryptographically-authenticated public ledger of every Bitcoin transaction ever, is reconciled by agreement of over 50% of all miners an attempt at a practical solution to the Byzantine Generals’ Problem[wp] in computer science.[15]

There is no central bank backing Bitcoin; previous virtual currencies, such as E-Gold, Flooz, Beenz, Lindens, or WoW gold have always had an organisation behind them. This lack of a monetary authority means that, were governments to try to do something about it, they would not have a central point of attack.[16] Bitcoin therefore presents a rare sandbox/universe-in-a-jar scenario for observing market interactions in a free banking[wp] system, as Austrian schoolers have always wanted this time in the context of post-industrial economies.

You can buy actual stuff with bitcoins! Mostly internet services, geek toys, phone sex,[17] illegal drugs[18] and, of course, pre-used Bitcoin mining hardware.[19] And actually useful things like beer and pizza.[20][21] To allow payment with a high-volatility currency like Bitcoin, it is common for merchants to price their goods in the local standard currency, but receive payment via Bitcoin converted at current market rates.[22]

Bitcoin has no intrinsic value (i.e., has no use-value), similar to the US dollar,[23] and could be a general currency if 300 million people similarly behaved as though it was one, i.e., would do work in exchange for it.[24] Its biggest problem as an exchange medium is that it is not widely accepted, and that trading is thus very thin indeed.

There is also the matter of built-in deflation: there is a strictly limited possible number of bitcoins, and the processing power to mine new ones goes up as more miners join.[25] Also, if your wallet file is deleted, your bitcoins are gone for good.

“Babbage” at The Economist took it seriously and found it quite interesting,[26] but has muted his praise over time.[27] Other economists have criticized the idea (to the point of calling it a scam), citing inherent design problems.[28][29][30][31][32]Paul Krugman initially refrained from poking fun at the concept, but considered it a reimplementation of the gold standard, with the economic problems that implies;[33] he’s since judged it as effectively just another right-wing affinity fraud, in which big libertarians prey upon smaller ones.[34] Warren Buffett has called it a “mirage.”[35] About 25% of the European Central Bank’s report on “Virtual Currency Schemes” is about Bitcoin,[36] and both the European Banking Authority and US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have warned about major consumer protection issues.[37][38]

The trouble with re-implementing the gold standard in the 21st century is that financial attacks, just like cryptographic attacks, don’t get less effective with time if you apply attacks evolved in a hundred years of Red Queen’s race against regulation, then remove the regulation, the subeconomy in question is utterly defenseless. As one quant on Hacker News outlined:[39]

And we can now see this in practice: the $1200/BTC peak in late 2013 was caused by the market manipulation known as “painting the tape”;[40] Mt. Gox in particular appears to have suffered chronic tape-painting.[41] Note that the “free market” completely failed to deal with fraud in this environment: all other exchanges were tracking Mt. Gox’s blatantly skewed prices.

Bitcoin relies on distributed consensus: the blockchain is what a majority of mining capacity says it is. Since mining is the “core of the Bitcoin protocol,” there is the possibility of what is termed a “51% attack,” where miners could consolidate into a cartel to exceed 50% of the mining power (yes, a de facto monopoly) and so could unilaterally ratify the entire blockchain to do things like double-spending confirmed transactions and preventing any new transactions or just ones they don’t like from happening while they’re in control (though they cannot take other people’s coins).[42][43] But this was considered unlikely because Bitcoin enthusiasts were highly distributed individualists.

This worked quite well early on. However, proof-of-work algorithms benefit from economies of scale,[wp] which leads to centralization directly. So as mining became more difficult and demanded more specialized resources, single mining “pools” became a substantial fraction of Bitcoin’s network hashrate. In June 2014, mining pool GHash reached 51%, leading to calls to use decentralized pooling options.[44] In 2015, nine mining pools control 75% of the hashpower.[45]

Economically, it would be foolish for, e.g., GHash to just kick over the board because they could cornering the market in an insubstantial good is only worth it while people trust the value of the insubstantial good but the actual problem is that the group with 51% of all mining capacity will be able to “undermine the rules of the currency itself.”[46] GHash quickly backed down to under 50% and claims it wants to fix the deeper problem,[47] but the economic incentives of “selfish mining” remain.

Cornell researchers have identified many more subtle attacks one can make even with less than 50%,[48] and it is worth noting that GHash had previously conducted a “49% attack” (a “Finney attack”[49]) wherein a large miner double-spends coins, just not with certainty against a gambling site.[50] They blamed this on a rogue employee, but this in itself shows that individuals can be motivated to trash a whole system for temporary personal gain. Again, real financial systems have government regulation for this specific threat.

So who’s doing the maths? The answer is the most powerful distributed computing project in the world.[51] While other distributed computing systems are investigating protein folding or sifting through radiotelescope data for signs of intelligent communication from the stars, bitcoins are being generated by people running hashing algorithms to process transactions on a poorly-traded virtual currency.

But it’s long past the point where you can do any decent amount of processing on a standard desktop system (or, as some less-than-ethical Bitcoiners have, sneaking processing code into Javascript on web pages, or simply deploying a Trojan on someone’s Windows box). Bitcoin miners quickly moved to the GPUs of video cards, then field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) specifically programmed for the algorithm, and now mining is done on ASICs based on said FPGAs. There are even companies selling Bitcoin mining rigs; their frequently-sketchy workmanship wouldn’t endear them to IT pros or the FTC, but they’re still better than some of the firetrap rigs that Bitcoiners have put together for themselves.[52] The many bizarre and frankly stupid cooling schemes are usually good for a laugh as well, including one Darwin Award applicant who poured a bucket of liquid nitrogen on the floor next to his rig to cool it.[53]

The irony of all this is that once hardware and power costs are factored in, it’s hard to make a profit from Bitcoin mining. Many more-savvy Bitcoiners filch their power from someone else and don’t factor in the equipment cost at all.

Bitcoin is also an environmental disaster, using on the order of 24 gigawatt-hours a day, literally wasted on calculating hashes. For comparison, the entire nation of Ireland runs about 72 GWh a day average.[54][55] The network cost per transaction (of any size) is around $20 of electricity.[56] (Thus, Bitcoin runs on libertarians externalising their costs to others.[57]) If only they’d based it on protein folding.[58]

The cryptography is robust, so many highly vocal internet libertarians think this is all that is needed, because they don’t understand people, know very little about economics, and apparently nothing of how reliable financial computing infrastructures are built real banks tend to use mainframes in highly redundant configurations, not AWS virtual servers without backups and generally show terrifying navet and incompetence. This then bites them in the arse when they discover that running a Magic: The Gathering Online card exchange site is insufficient experience to securely run a currency exchange,[59] or discover they have no backups.[60] Many were sufficiently nave as to fall for, not just a Ponzi scheme, but a Ponzi scheme that had already been tried in EVE Online’s in-game currency.[61] There are also people who understand this level of computer science, but still keep their wallet.dat file in plain text on a Windows box, ready for reaping by malware or a DDoS.[62][63][64] This is the sort of thing that gets bitcoins called “Dunning-Krugerrands.”[65]

The decentralised nature attracts libertarian extremists (go read any Bitcoin forum for more wacko libertarianism than you ever thought possible). There are Bitcoin advocates who are not annoying Randroid fools, but the ones who are tend to drown out all the others. It is unsurprising, then, that some business writers have accused them of cultish behaviour;[46][66] some proponents are simply aghast that anyone might not consider it valuable for services rendered.[67]

One of the otherwise-saner advocates is Rick Falkvinge, founder of the Swedish Pirate Party, who has put all his savings into bitcoins.[68] Though, he also details its problems.[69] He is a big fan of Bitcoin not as a general currency, but as a pure medium of exchange, substituting for PayPal or credit cards and changing back into a more popular currency at each end as the Visa/Mastercard/PayPal oligopoly’s willingness to block recipients they, the American government or fundamentalists don’t like, starts to become a practical problem.

Andrew Napolitano from Fox Business Network supports Bitcoin as well. In a move that may make many of his fans cry, Ron Paul does not.[70]

There are multiple Bitcoin “banks,” but most of this seems to revolve around doing things with bitcoins,[71] leading to accusations of cargo cult economics. And scams. There are lots of scammers in the Bitcoin community, who are punished by the harshest method imaginable: getting a “scammer” tag on the forum.

There is a Bitcoin exchange hack or collapse approximately every month. Leaving any money exposed on a Bitcoin exchange is, statistically, a terrible idea.

One Bitcoin exchange, Bitcoin-Central (now called Paymium), has achieved bank status in France.[72] Their aim is to supply an alternative to PayPal, and their central bank backing on balances only applies to accounts in euros rather than in bitcoins. On the other hand, other players in the Bitcoin field have had to suspend operations because US banks view companies involved with Bitcoin as too high risk to do business with,[73] or have had to suspend US dollar withdrawals for undisclosed reasons.[74]

Despite Western-oriented services being portrayed as synonymous with the Bitcoin “brand” Mt. Gox was still responsible for 90% of all Bitcoin transactions by the end of 2012,[75] so this isn’t entirely unwarranted Chinese exchanges actually overtook it in output before its collapse.[76] This presents another serious problem for the cryptocurrency moving forward: attempts by the US government to impose regulations post-Gox pale in comparison to recent pressure by Beijing to crack down on the Chinese market.[77] One incentive is off-the-books currency exchange: buy hardware and electricity in yuan, make it into bitcoins and sell the bitcoins for dollars.

In order to prop up the initial system, Bitcoin mining was designed to bribe early users with exponentially better rewards than latecomers could get for the same effort. To join the network at all, new users must give ever-increasing amounts of wealth to previous bitcoiners who are sitting around doing nothing. This effectively makes Bitcoin a pump-and-dump scheme wherein these early adopters, who have more bitcoins than anyone else ever will, hype it up so they can offload their bitcoins onto fools who think they’ll strike it rich as speculators. This means the system runs on opportunism, especially among people who like the idea of decentralized techno-money. This setup is defended as an acceptable trade-off and/or a fair reward for propping up the system.[79]

In the meantime, speculators and opportunists have remained Bitcoin’s main users: according to one 2012 study, only 22% of existing bitcoins were in circulation at all, there were a total of 75 active users/businesses with any kind of volume, one (unidentified) user owned a quarter of all bitcoins in existence, and one large owner was trying to hide their wealth accumulation by moving it around in thousands of smaller transactions.[80] Meanwhile, businesses, from family stores to multimillion-dollar corporations, have jumped onto Bitcoin to seem forward-looking and get a cut of the Bitcoin action.[81] But go on, dive in and get rich.

The real and overriding issue with Bitcoin is that it does practically nothing that isn’t already possible, while also introducing flaws of its own:

Whenever some of these objections are raised, the common Bitcoiner reply is to think about things from the merchant’s point of view that they pay less in fees (which isn’t necessarily true), or that they might get chargebacks (which can be defended against, and generally don’t happen to merchants who don’t actually scam people or rip them off). This ignores that most people don’t care, and the few that do see enough benefit and convenience from being able to get fraudulently taken money returned to them that it doesn’t actually bother them.

In practice, the only thing Bitcoin does better than conventional currencies and existing payment systems is to let libertarians buy illicit goods without having to go to the bad part of town and talk to minorities.

A number of copycat cryptocurrencies (“altcoins”) exist as a consequence of the Bitcoin experiment, only a few of which, such as Litecoin and Dogecoin, have achieved any notability. A few of these have significant distinctions from Bitcoin, such as Namecoin which is part of a decentralized “.bit” DNS project and Freicoin which incorporates demurrage to discourage speculative hoarding, but most of them are simple forks of the Bitcoin code. Since the media attention on Bitcoin in early 2013[91] a glut of such “coins” has flooded the market, with increasingly silly names like BBQcoin, Memecoin, Junkcoin, Sexcoin, and Shitcoin.[92] And don’t forget Coinye West.[93]

Dogecoin[94] gained some popularity on cuteness value and use for tipping on Reddit.[95] Unlike most altcoins, Dogecoin is slightly inflationary rather than deflationary.[96] Despite having similar get-rich hopes, Dogecoin fans are also notably less dickish than Bitcoin fans, though that’s not hard to achieve.

Many Bitcoin advocates really don’t like altcoins:[97] most of the value proposition of Bitcoin is the strictly limited quantity available, and they perceive altcoins as undermining their hodling, instead suggesting the way to resolve Bitcoin’s scaling problems without altcoins is with hypothetical add-ons such as sidechains.[98] (Though sidechain developers themselves are not so optimistic.[99]) They dismiss altcoins as scams (though they don’t regard the substantially-premined Bitcoin as one). However, there is no way for them to stop altcoins from being created.

To be fair, quite a lot of altcoins since the 2013 boom were blatant scams: make a coin, premine it, promise far-fetched features in BitcoinTalk’s altcoin forum,[100] get it onto an exchange, sell it for Bitcoins. USBCoin, for example, netted 150 BTC this way.[101] DafuqCoin compromised exchanges because nobody checked the code before running it.[102][103] And then there’s Ponzicoin, which, despite having Ponzi in the name, lasted a few months before being exposed, shockingly, as a Ponzi scheme. BitcoinTalk dealt with these coins firmly: it limited advertisement signature image dimensions.

In a gold rush, the money’s in selling shovels. Cash up front, please.

(Unless you’re Butterfly Labs, in which case the shovel-sellers are crooks too).

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Merchant Accounts Offshore – Offshore Banking, Bank …

 Offshore Banking  Comments Off on Merchant Accounts Offshore – Offshore Banking, Bank …
Sep 012015

Liberty Enterprises offers a wide array of offshore and US domestic credit card and ACH/E-check merchant solutions. Our aim is to assist Internet business owners across the world to secure solid, secure credit card processing solutions with professional, reputable banks.

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Merchant Accounts Offshore – Offshore Banking, Bank …

Anonymous banking, offshore banking, anonymous offshore bank …

 Offshore Banking  Comments Off on Anonymous banking, offshore banking, anonymous offshore bank …
Aug 302015

If you sincerely want to legally obtain personal and financial freedom from Big Brother – Point and Click below for our 450+ of asset and wealth protection offshore and privacy products and services – several of which are even FREE! Check our unique offers for yourself.

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Pros and Cons of Genetic Engineering in Humans – Part 1

 Human Genetic Engineering  Comments Off on Pros and Cons of Genetic Engineering in Humans – Part 1
Aug 292015

The human body is not perfect. Some are created with inherent faults and others break down before their time. Science has the potential to make good these problems by altering how humans are made. This is genetic engineering, and this article looks at the pros and cons of the technology in humans

This is part one of a two-part series. Here I will look at a definition of genetic engineering and the pros of human genetic engineering. In part two the cons and the ethics of human genetic engineering are discussed.

Before weighing up the pros and cons of genetic engineering in humans, it’s worth taking the time to understand just what is meant by the idea. Simply put, it’s a way of manipulating our genes in such a way as to make our bodies better. This alteration of a genome could take place in the sperm and egg cells. This is known as germline gene therapy and would alter the traits that a child is born with. The changes would be inheritable and passed down through the generations. It is currently illegal in many countries.

The other way to change our genome is to swap our bad genes for good ones – in cells other than the sex cells. This is known as somatic cell gene therapy. This is where a functioning gene could be fired into our bodies on a viral vector to carry out the functions that a faulty gene is unable to. This technology is permitted, though it has enjoyed a very limited success rate so far (largely because it is technically very difficult). Nonetheless, it still holds out a great deal of promise.

There are many potential advantages to being able to alter the cells in our bodies genetically.

To make disease a thing of the past

Most people on the planet die of disease or have family members that do. Very few of us will just pop up to bed one night and gently close our eyes for the last time. Our genomes are not as robust as we would like them to be and genetic mutations either directly cause a disease such as Cystic fibrosis, or they contribute to it greatly i.e. Alzheimer’s. Or in the case of some conditions such as the heart disease Cardiomyopathy, genetic mutations can make our bodies more susceptible to attack from viruses or our own immune system. If the full benefits of gene therapy are ever realised we can replace the dud genes with correctly functioning copies.

To extend life spans

Having enjoyed life, most of us want to cling on to it for as long as possible. The genetic engineering of humans has the potential to greatly increase our life spans. Some estimates reckon that 100-150 years could be the norm. Of course gene therapy for a fatal condition will increase the lifespan of the patient but we’re also talking about genetic modifications of healthy people to give them a longer life. Once we fully understand the genetics of ageing it may be possible to slow down or reverse some of the cellular mechanisms that lead to our decline – for example by preventing telomeres at the ends of chromosomes from shortening. Telomere shortening is known to contribute to cell senescence.

Better pharmaceuticals

The knowledge gained by working out genetic solutions for the above could help with the design of better pharmaceutical products that are able to target specifically genetic mutations in each individual.

So What’s the Downside?

As deliriously exciting as some people believe genetic engineering to be – there are several downsides and ethical dilemmas. Click the link to read the cons.

This two part series explores some of the pros and cons of human genetic engineering.

Read more here:

Pros and Cons of Genetic Engineering in Humans – Part 1

Freedom (Franzen novel) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 Freedom  Comments Off on Freedom (Franzen novel) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Aug 292015

Freedom is a novel by American author Jonathan Franzen. It was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux and released on August 31, 2010.

Freedom received general acclaim from book critics, and was ranked one of the best books of 2010 by several publications.

Freedom follows several members of an American family, the Berglunds, as well as their close friends and lovers, as complex and troubled relationships unfold over many years. The book follows them through the last decades of the twentieth century and concludes near the beginning of the Obama administration.

Freedom opens with a short history of the Berglund family from the perspective of their nosy neighbors. The Berglunds are portrayed as the most ideal liberal middle-class family, and they are among the first families to move back into urban St. Paul, Minnesota, after years of white flight to the suburbs. Patty Berglund is an unusually young and pretty homemaker with a self-deprecating sense of humor; her husband Walter is a mild-mannered lawyer with strong environmentalist leanings.

They have one daughter, Jessica, and a son, Joey, who early on displays an independent streak and an interest in making money. Joey becomes sexually involved with a neighborhood teen named Connie and begins to rebel against his mother, going so far as to move in with Connie, her mother, and her mother’s boyfriend Blake, making Patty and Walter increasingly unstable. After several unhappy years, the family relocates to Washington, D.C., abandoning the neighborhood and house they worked so hard to improve. Walter takes a job with an unorthodox environmental project, tied to big coal.

The second portion of the book takes the form of an autobiography of Patty Berglund, composed at the suggestion of her therapist. The autobiography tells of Patty’s youth as a star basketball player, and her increasing alienation from her artistically inclined parents and sisters. Instead of attending an East Coast elite college like her siblings, she gets a basketball scholarship to the University of Minnesota and adopts the life of the athlete. She meets an attractive but unattainable indie rock musician named Richard Katz, and his nerdy but kind roommate, Walter Berglund. After her basketball career-ending knee injury, Patty suddenly becomes desperate for male affection, and after failing to woo Richard, she settles down with Walter, who had been patiently courting her for more than a year. We learn that Patty retained her desire for Richard and eventually had a brief affair with him at the Berglunds’ lakeside cabin.

The novel then jumps ahead to New York City in 2004 and shifts to the story of Walter and Patty’s friend Richard, who has finally succeeded in becoming a minor indie rock star in his middle age. His hit album Nameless Lake tells the story of his brief love affair with Patty at the Berglunds’ lakeside cabin in Minnesota. Richard is uncomfortable with commercial success, throws away his new-found money, and returns to building roof decks for wealthy people in Manhattan. Walter calls him out of the blue to enlist his help as a celebrity spokesman for an environmental campaign. Walter has taken a job in Washington, D.C. working for a coal mining magnate who wants to strip mine a section of West Virginia forest before turning it into a songbird preserve of future environmental value. Walter hopes to use some of this project’s funding to hold a concert to combat overpopulation, the common factor behind all his environmental concerns, and he believes that Richard will be able to rally well-known musicians to his cause. Meanwhile, Walter’s marriage to Patty has been deteriorating steadily, and his pretty young assistant Lalitha has fallen deeply in love with him.

In parallel, the Berglunds’ estranged, Republican son Joey attempts to finance his college life at the University of Virginia by taking on a dubious subcontract to provide spare parts for outdated supply trucks during the Iraq War. While at college, he marries his childhood sweetheart but dares not tell his parents. After visiting his roommate’s family in the DC suburbs, he also pursues his friend’s beautiful sister Jenna and is exposed to her father’s Zionist, neoconservative politics. After months of pursuing Jenna, when she finally wants him to have sex with her, he cannot maintain an erection. Later he becomes conflicted after making $850,000 selling defective truck parts to military suppliers in Iraq. In the end Joey gives away the excess proceeds of his profiteering, reconciles with his parents, settles down with Connie, and moves into a sustainable coffee business with the help of his father Walter.

Now, Richard’s re-appearance destroys Walter and Patty’s weakening marriage. Richard tries to convince Patty to leave Walter, but she shows Richard the autobiography she wrote as “therapy”, trying to convince him that she’s still in love with Walter. Richard deliberately leaves the autobiography on Walter’s desk, and Walter reads Patty’s true thoughts. Walter kicks Patty out of the house, and she moves to Jersey City to be with Richard, but the relationship only lasts six months. Later, she moves to Brooklyn alone and takes a job at a private school, discovering her skill for teaching younger children. When Patty leaves him, Walter has a catharsis on live television, revealing his contempt for the displaced West Virginian families and his various commercial backers. Local rednecks respond by dragging him from the platform and beating him up. He is promptly fired by the environmental trust, but his TV debacle makes him a viral video hero to radical youth across the nation. He and his assistant Lalitha become lovers and continue their plans to combat overpopulation through a concert to rally young people in the hills of West Virginia. Lalitha is killed in a suspicious car accident a few days before the concert is due to take place. Shattered, and having lost both of the women who loved him, Walter retreats to his family’s lakeside vacation house back in Minnesota. He becomes known to a new street of neighbors as a cranky old recluse, obsessed with house cats killing birds nesting on his property.

After a few years living in Brooklyn, Patty’s father dies and she is forced to settle the fight that erupts within her family of spoiled bohemians as they attempt to split up the much-diminished family fortune. This experience helps Patty to mature. After a few years of living alone, she appraises the emptiness of her life and honestly faces her advancing age. She decides to hunt down Walter, the only man who had ever really loved her. She drives to the lakeside cabin in Minnesota, and despite his rage and confusion, he eventually agrees to take her back. The book ends in 2008 as they leave as a couple to return to Patty’s job in New York City, after turning their old lakeside vacation home into a cat-proof fenced bird sanctuary, named in memory of Lalitha.

After the critical acclaim and popular success of his third novel The Corrections in 2001, Franzen began work on his fourth full-length novel. When asked during an October 30, 2002 interview on Charlie Rose how far he was into writing the new novel, Franzen replied:

I’m about a year of frustration and confusion into it…Y’know, I’m kind of down at the bottom of the submerged iceberg peering up for the surface of the water…I don’t have doubt about my ability to write a good book, but I have lots of doubt about what it’s going to look like.[1]

Franzen went on to suggest that a basic story outline was in place, and that his writing of the new novel was like a “guerilla war” approaching different aspects of the novel (alluding to characters, dialogue, plot development etc.).[1] Franzen also agreed that he would avoid public appearances, saying that “…getting some work done is the vacation” from the promotional work surrounding The Corrections and How To Be Alone.[1]

An excerpt entitled “Good Neighbors” appeared in the June 8 and June 15, 2009 issues of The New Yorker.[2] The magazine published a second extract entitled “Agreeable” in the May 31, 2010 edition.[3]

On October 16, 2009, Franzen made an appearance alongside David Bezmozgis at the New Yorker Festival at the Cedar Lake Theatre to read a portion of his forthcoming novel.[4][5] Sam Allard, writing for North By Northwestern website covering the event, said that the “…material from his new (reportedly massive) novel” was “as buoyant and compelling as ever” and “marked by his familiar undercurrent of tragedy”.[5] Franzen read “an extended clip from the second chapter.”[5]

On March 12, 2010, details about the plot and content of Freedom were published in the Macmillan fall catalogue for 2010.[6]

In an interview with Dave Haslam on October 3, 2010 Franzen discussed why he had called the book Freedom:

The reason I slapped the word on the book proposal I sold three years ago without any clear idea of what kind of book it was going to be is that I wanted to write a book that would free me in some way. And I will say this about the abstract concept of ‘freedom'; it’s possible you are freer if you accept what you are and just get on with being the person you are, than if you maintain this kind of uncommitted I’m free-to-be-this, free-to-be-that, faux freedom.[7]

Freedom received general acclaim from book critics, particularly for its writing and characterization. Shortly after the book’s release, the front cover of a TIME magazine issue showed a picture of Franzen above the words “Great American Novelist,” making him the first author to appear on the front cover in a decade.

Sam Tanenhaus of The New York Times and Benjamin Alsup of Esquire believed it measured up to Franzen’s previous novel, The Corrections. Tanenhaus called it a “masterpiece of American fiction,” writing that it “[told] an engrossing story” and “[illuminated], through the steady radiance of its authors profound moral intelligence, the world we thought we knew.”[8] Alsup called it a great American novel. “[9] In The Millions, Garth Risk Hallberg argued that readers who enjoyed The Corrections would enjoy Freedom. He also wrote that they’re “likely to come away from this novel moved in harder-to-fathom waysand grateful for it.”[10] An editor for Publishers Weekly wrote that it stood apart from most modern fiction because “Franzen tries to account for his often stridently unlikable characters and find where they (and we) went wrong, arriving atincrediblygenuine hope.”[11]

Benjamin Secher of The Telegraph called Franzen one of America’s best living novelists, and Freedom the first great American novel of the “post-Obama era.”[12] In The Guardian, Jonathan Jones called him “a literary genius” and wrote that Freedom stood on “a different plane from other contemporary fiction.”[13]

Michiko Kakutani called the book “galvanic” and wrote that it showcased Franzen’s talent as a storyteller and “his ability to throw open a big, Updikean picture window on American middle-class life.” Kakutani also praised the novel’s characterization, going on to call it a “compelling biography of a dysfunctional family and an indelible portrait of our times.”[14]The Economist wrote that the novel contained “fully imagined characters in a powerful narrative.” The reviewer went on to say that it had “all its predecessor’s power and none of its faults.”[15]

Not all reviews were raving. Most lukewarm reviews praised the novel’s prose, but believed the author’s left-wing political stance was too obvious. Sam Anderson, in a review for New York magazine, thought the characterization was strong, but perceived the politics as sometimes too heavy-handed: “Franzen the crankmighty detester of Twitter, ATVs, and housing developments” occasionally “overpower[s] Franzen the artist […] but if crankiness is the motor that powers Franzen’s art, I’m perfectly willing to sit through some speeches.”[16]Ron Charles of The Washington Post also felt less favorably, remarking that it lacked the wit and “[freshness]” of The Corrections. Charles praised Franzen’s prose and called him “an extraordinary stylist,” but questioned how many readers would settle for good writing as “sufficient compensation for what is sometimes a misanthropic slog.”[17] In addition, Ruth Franklin of The New Republic believed the novel resembled a “soap opera” more than it did an epic, and that Franzen had forgotten “the greatest novels must […] offer […] profundity and pleasure.”[18]

Alexander Nazaryan criticized its familiarity in the New York Daily News remarking that the author “can write about a gentrifying family in St. Paul. Or maybe in St. Louis. But that’s about it. Nazaryan also didn’t believe Franzen was joking when he suggested “being doomed as a novelist never to do anything but stories of Midwestern families.”[19]Alan Cheuse of National Public Radio found the novel “[brilliant]” but not enjoyable, suggesting that “every line, every insight, seems covered with a light film of disdain. Franzen seems never to have met a normal, decent, struggling human being whom he didn’t want to make us feel ever so slightly superior to. His book just has too much brightness and not enough color.”[20]

Ross Douthat of First Things praised the “stretches of Freedom that read like a master class in how to write sympathetically about the kind of characters” with an abundance of freedom. Yet, Douthat concluded the novel was overlong, feeling the “impression that Franzen’s talents are being wasted on his characters.”[21]

Freedom won the John Gardner Fiction Award. Additionally, it was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. The American Library Association also named it a notable fiction of the 2010 publishing year.

Oprah Winfrey made Freedom her first book club selection of 2010, saying, “this book is a masterpiece.”[22][23] US President Barack Obama called it “terrific” after reading it over the summer.[24]

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Freedom (Franzen novel) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

NATO Chief: Too Early to Say If Georgia Joins NATO

 NATO  Comments Off on NATO Chief: Too Early to Say If Georgia Joins NATO
Aug 272015

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on a visit Thursday to Georgia that it is too early to tell whether the former Soviet republic will be invited to take the final step toward NATO membership.

NATO members voted in 2008 to accept Georgia as a member, but since then the South Caucasus nation has denied been entry into the Membership Action Plan, the last condition for membership.

NATO says Georgia must strengthen its institutions, step up justice reforms and fully respect the rule of law before it is accepted into the action plan. Tbilisi, however, claims that NATO is dragging its heels because of the frozen conflict in the breakaway republic of South Ossetia.

Speaking at the opening of a joint NATO-Georgia training center, Stoltenberg said Georgia already has “the necessary tools to continue to move toward membership.”

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said the training facility would “in no way be directed against any of the neighboring countries,” an apparent attempt to assuage Russia’s fears about a NATO presence close to its border. Russia and Georgia fought a five-day war over South Ossetia in 2008.

Moscow reacted angrily to the ceremony in Georgia, saying that the NATO presence would tip the balance in the region.

“We consider this move as a continuation of the provocative policy of the alliance aimed at expanding its geopolitical influence,” Russian Foreign Minister spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters in Moscow. “Placing this NATO military facility in Georgia will become a substantial destabilizing factor for security in the region.”

Nataliya Vasilyeva contributed to this report from Moscow.

NATO Chief: Too Early to Say If Georgia Joins NATO

Pierre Teilhard De Chardin | Designer Children | Prometheism | Euvolution | Transhumanism