Blogroll

I read blogs, as well as write one. The 'blogroll' on this site reproduces some posts from some of the people I enjoy reading.

Disclaimer: Reproducing an article here need not necessarily imply agreement or endorsement!

Doesn't Mexico Have Building Codes?

Mises Institute - 1 hour 12 min ago
By: Ryan McMaken
MexCity85quake.jpg

During the 1987 Whittier Narrows earthquake in Los Angeles, my mother was working in downtown Los Angeles in one of the buildings then known as the Arco Towers

The building was of early 1970s vintage, but thanks to expensive technology introduced to help high-rises withstand earthquakes, the Arco Towers merely swayed from side to side, rather than collapse in response to the quake. That earthquake was a medium-sized earthquake (to use casual terminology), but the building is designed to withstand far larger tremors. Eight people died in the wake of the quake. 

Two years earlier, the 1985 Mexico City earthquake struck with devastating results. While the earthquake was considerably stronger, the casualty totals were far beyond what we would expect were a similar quake to hit Los Angeles. While the number is still in dispute today, more than 30,000 people may have died in the quake, thanks largely to collapsed buildings. 

Fortunately, the death toll in Tuesday's Mexico-City quake looks to be much, much smaller than was the case in 1985. So far, casualty counts number in the low hundreds. 

The Wall Street Journal today attributes this to improvements in building codes: 

Mexico City’s building codes improved dramatically in the years following the city’s 1985 earthquake, a magnitude 8.1 temblor that killed more than 6,000 and toppled nearly 2,300 buildings, including hospitals, schools, hotels and entire high-rise apartment blocks.

After 1985, “the building codes changed a lot,” said Ricardo Warman, an architect who both builds and renovates houses in the Condesa and Roma neighborhoods of central Mexico City, among the hardest hit on Tuesday. “That is why most of the buildings that fell are from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.”

But why was Mexico still building earthquake-prone construction in the 1970s? By the mid-80s, California had already been at work addressing the earthquake issue for years. 

Why didn't Mexican cities pass better building code laws before then? 

RELATED: "Why Natural Disasters Are Worse For Poor Countries" by Ryan McMaken

Well, it turns out that they did have building codes before then, but merely passing laws doesn't actually solve problems. Prior to this week's quake — while commenting on Hurricane Harvey — Bret Stephens at the New York Times recalled: 

Why do richer countries fare so much better than poorer ones when it comes to natural disasters? It isn’t just better regulation. I grew up in Mexico City, which adopted stringent building codes following a devastating earthquake in 1957. That didn’t save the city in the 1985 earthquake, when we learned that those codes had been flouted for years by lax or corrupt building inspectors, and thousands of people were buried under the rubble of shoddy construction. Regulation is only as good, or bad, as its enforcement. 

So, for nearly 30 years leading up to the 1985 quake, new, improved building codes had been in place. but it seems that — as one Mexico City engineer described it — enforcement was "very lax."

But why did they ignore them? Was it part of just an amorphous tolerance for doing a lousy job? As Walter Block recently noted, we can't just blame corruption: 

They can have all the regulations and “safety standards” they want in poverty-stricken nations such as [Bangladesh]. Either these bureaucratic rules will be ignored, or, if they are rigidly upheld and enforced, then virtually no new houses will be built, and almost all extant houses will have to be torn down. Why? Since this country is so poor, it cannot possibly live “up” to these modern, western, regulations and “safety standards.”

In most cases, people don't ignore building codes because they're sociopaths who don't care about the safety of their customers.

Thanks to the existence of greed, of course, there's always the temptation to skimp on safety in order to pad profits, and just hope things work out. But in wealthy nations, there are numerous incentives beyond government regulation to not do this: (1) insurance companies may refuse to insure structures that are of questionable safety, and (2) there are well-developed legal systems that facilitate lawsuits against negligent builders. 

But perhaps most importantly: consumers of housing and office space in wealth countries can more often afford to pay for units in buildings where expensive retrofits and safety features have been added. In poor countries, by contrast, consumers are far less likely to be able to afford buildings constructed to specifications that would be considered run-of-the-mill in wealthier areas. Given that producers can only set prices at levels their customers can afford to pay, builders will build accordingly. 

The end result is that in wealthy areas, paying close attention to code regulations may shave some profitability off a building project. But in a poor country — as Block correctly suggests — rigid enforcement is more likely to totally erase profitability, and prevent new construction from being built at all. On other words, the opportunity cost of building a modern, earthquake-proof building in a poor country is much higher. 

So what's the solution? 

As Stephens points out: "Every child knows that houses of brick are safer than houses of wood or straw — and therefore cost more to build." Mexicans — of course — are already well aware that the ideal solution is to produce high quality housing for everyone. The problem is that sort of thing is expensive. 

Unfortunately, the answer to this conundrum is the same as with building to withstand hurricanes and other natural disasters:  bulding wealth is the only true long term solution. 

City councils can pass building code laws all day long, but as long as residents lacks the incomes necessary to afford housing, offices, and factory space that's built to withstand earthquakes, there will always be an especially large incentive to cut corners on construction. Innocent people will suffer as a result. 



Categories: Current Affairs

There's Nothing Moral about Opposing "Price-Gouging"

Mises Institute - 1 hour 12 min ago
By: Christopher Westley
cuffs.PNG

Let’s face it. The economic case for “price gouging” is one for which economists have both a strong argument and minority view, relative to more popular narratives drilled onto the three-by-five card of acceptable opinion. In that sense, we are in familiar territory, going back at least to Thomas Carlyle’s attack on economics as “the dismal science” when he realized economic arguments, when accepted by the broader population, would hasten the demise of slavery. 

So I was not surprised when a good friend sent me a Dallas News op-ed by University of Texas sociologist Daniel Fridman raising moral objections to the economic case defending rising prices for necessities following natural disasters. I had an idea about the depth of Mr. Fridman’s argument when he began acknowledging the economic case thusly:

[Some economists] claim that we should not mess with prices, whose job is to get goods to those who want them the most. If prices go up, buyers will think twice before purchasing something they may not need, while suppliers will be incentivized to go the extra mile and provide needed goods in order to make more money. If you take that extra gain away, you will have fewer goods and in the wrong hands.

There is some truth to this.

It’s very broad-minded for Mr. Fridman to acknowledge some truth to the Laws of Supply and Demand. Coming from someone in the People’s Republic of Austin, this must be something of a milestone. (One wonders what other natural laws in which he recognizes some truth.) But it’s not the truth of these laws that concern him. Rather, it’s how they ignore the moral case against “gouging,” which Mr. Fridman believes is understood “almost universally.” He writes:

The moral condemnation of price gouging is a recognition that in certain social situations, raising prices is kicking vulnerable people when they are down. Our reaction to price gouging is not some silly knee-jerk rejection from people who don't know enough about economics, as it is sometimes portrayed. It is, rather, deeply reflective of the societal need for mechanisms other than markets.

I am not here to criticize the moral case against price “gouging” except to note that a thinker on the level of Thomas Aquinas considered its shortcomings. Rather, I would suggest that morality is hardly divorced from the case made by economics and that recognizing this relationship is key to returning economics to its roots. Between the time of Adam Smith and the Progressive Era, one studied economics as a branch of the Moral Sciences. Even today, a common thread between a Thomas Sowell and a Paul Krugman, or a Jeffrey Sachs and a Bill Easterly, would be moral indignation about something, and the desire to apply economic theory to correct it.

So what are the moral cases for “gouging”? Let’s consider three.

First, one wonders about the morality of those who would urge acts of violence — fines or imprisonment — against individuals for selling their own property at whatever price they want. This is essentially what Mr. Fridman argues for when supporting anti-“gouging” rules. But would he be willing to impose it himself by, say, personally raiding the perpetrator’s savings or locking her up in his garage for charging prices he dislikes? If he would have moral qualms about executing such acts himself, then why wouldn’t he have qualms about leaving them up to individual functionaries of the state? By arguing for such state power, Mr. Fridman simply trades small, disparate moral harms (subjectively determined) for actual large, institutionalized ones.

This point gets to the nature of the state, which is an entity in society that performs actions legally that would be considered profoundly immoral when performed on an individual basis. Those who support anti-“gouging” legislation effectively support putting a boot on the neck of many producers crucial to surviving a natural disaster.

Second, there’s the morality of allowing prices to reflect market conditions before and after a natural disaster. Given the certainty of shortages, waste, and needlessly prolonged recoveries when anti-“gouging” laws are enforced (through threats of violence!), then why can’t opposing such ordinances be based on morality as well? While Mr. Fridman argues pro-“gouging” economists such as Mark Perry and Michael Salinger ignore morality, they might be motivated by it.

One is reminded of the role of market prices in causing self-interested individuals to act in ways that are socially beneficial. One woman from the Florida Keys told USA Today about the sense of foreboding she felt driving back to her house and witnessing the damage wrought by Hurricane Irma, and the profound relief she felt upon finding her own home relatively unscathed. “Thank God our insurance company threatened to cancel us if we didn’t put on a metal roof,” she said. 

The threat of lost or higher priced insurance motivated many property owners to upgrade their houses to hurricane strength. Hundreds of thousands of Floridians, for instance, received discounted insurance for buying and then using hurricane shutters. According to the Associated Press, “Citigroup estimated that damages were just $50 billion — well below initial figures — in part because some homes were better equipped to weather the wind and rain than during [Hurricane] Andrew.”

Finally and most importantly, the debate over “gouging” illustrates a dominant utilitarianism in which the majority should be allowed to force its will on the minority, as long as the end is valued highly enough. For Mr. Fridman, the near universal acceptability of anti-gouging laws are enough for him to determine their morality. Mises addresses this point in Human Action (Scholars Edition, p. 153):

The liberals do not maintain that majorities are godlike and infallible; they do not contend that the mere fact that a policy is advocated by the many is a proof of its merits for the common weal. They do not recommend the dictatorship of the majority and the violent oppression of dissenting minorities. Liberalism aims at a political constitution which safeguards the smooth working of social cooperation and the progressive intensification of mutual social relations. Its main objective is the avoidance of violent conflicts, of wars and revolutions that must disintegrate the social collaboration of men and throw people back into the primitive conditions of barbarism where all tribes and political bodies endlessly fought one another.

It follows that permitting “gouging” is congruent with a political economy of peace, whereas intervening in the price system invites violence. Forcing markets below those that would clear the market always and everywhere, in normal times and during natural disasters, pits buyers against sellers and consumers against producers, when they otherwise would have strong incentives to cooperate.

I fear I may not have been fair to Mr. Fridman. After all, he wrote an op-ed with strict word count restrictions. He may well be familiar with the moral case on the other side of the “gouging” debate and yet be unable to address them. Still, I’d hope he’d concede that while natural disasters are by nature disruptive, the anti-“gougers” have no unique claim on the moral high ground. Economists who advocate against policies that prolong suffering and hinder recovery have morality on their side too.



Categories: Current Affairs

Studying the Culicidae Cantuaria

Anglican Ink - Sun, 24/09/2017 - 21:56

Jules Gomes sees the Archbishop of Canterbury as a small biting insect spreading the disease of Keynesian economics

In which we entirely agree with John Harris of The Guardian

Adam Smith Institute - Sun, 24/09/2017 - 07:01

Something we entirely agree with:

No one, surely, is going to be able to roll back a social transformation that dates back to the era of Margaret Thatcher.

Excellent, now that we've got the issue of council housing out of the way we can move onto important matters:

Which takes us to the question posed by our presumptive next king-but-one, and the stupid tangle of legal and cultural conventions that get in the way of recognising what is happening, and doing something about it. Just as hardened heroin addicts are often killed by dealers who play fast and loose with their supply, so it is with scores of young ecstasy users. In other words, for as long we allow our young people to ingest chemicals cooked up in bathtubs by career criminals, with no means of checking what on earth they are about to swallow, tragedies will happen.

I am as unsure about the sweeping legalisation of drugs as Prince William appeared to be. God knows how you liberalise the supply of crack; the idea of powerful hallucinogens available from your local off-licence seems problematic to say the least. But the idea of decriminalising at least the possession of most drugs seems increasingly unanswerable – and in time, it is not hard to envisage the liberalisation of cannabis pioneered by a handful of US states extending to Britain, as well as ecstasy being legalised, made subject to official standards, and freely bought and sold.

We are not unsure. As Harris ably describes it is the very uncertainty of what is being ingested which causes the problems with what is being ingested. Even with heroin this is true - certainly, Shipman turned out to be a mass murderer but he was also an entirely functional one and also entirely functional GP for some decades while on good, pure, pharmaceutical grade stuff. 

We actively desire that suppliers be held responsible for the purity, consistency, of what they supply, just as in any other area of life. All of which means that it should be legal, so we can sue them, so that there is the incentive to create brands which are indeed consistent. 

It really is worth noting that the branding of food took off in the 1850s, largely solving the problems of adulteration rather before legislation upon this matter in the 1870s. Food that doesn't kill people gains market share against that which does. Drugs which don't kill people will equally so.

It may even be that drug taking is immoral, that it's a waste of a life, but whose life it it anyway? To be a liberal is to say that it is the life of the person living it. And we here are utilitarians, simply desiring what works best given that fallible material being worked with, human beings.

We're still not quite convinced that heroin should be sold in sweetie wraps so that 5 year olds can chase the dragon. But the closer that consenting adults get to being able to purchase known drugs, in known purities, with the standard consumer comebacks for failures on either part, then the fewer people will die from taking drugs - and, of course, the more people will be able to follow their desires.

And what else can drug policy be other than management at least damage of something that happens anyway?

Categories: Current Affairs

A crisis of character at the top of the Anglican Communion

Anglican Ink - Sun, 24/09/2017 - 02:30

Is Justin Welby incapable of thinking seriously about ethical problems in relation to the Bible during a live radio interview?

‘…or Scythians.’  What the British Museum just taught me about evangelism

Ministry Nuts and Bolts - Sat, 23/09/2017 - 17:59
There is a small but astonishing exhibition at the British Museum at the moment, Scythians: Warriors of ancient Serbia. The ...
Continue reading
Categories: Friends

The History of Email

CloudFlare - Sat, 23/09/2017 - 17:00
The History of Email

This was adapted from a post which originally appeared on the Eager blog. Eager has now become the new Cloudflare Apps.

QWERTYUIOP

— Text of the first email ever sent, 1971

The ARPANET (a precursor to the Internet) was created “to help maintain U.S. technological superiority and guard against unforeseen technological advances by potential adversaries,” in other words, to avert the next Sputnik. Its purpose was to allow scientists to share the products of their work and to make it more likely that the work of any one team could potentially be somewhat usable by others. One thing which was not considered particularly valuable was allowing these scientists to communicate using this network. People were already perfectly capable of communicating by phone, letter, and in-person meeting. The purpose of a computer was to do massive computation, to augment our memories and empower our minds.

Surely we didn’t need a computer, this behemoth of technology and innovation, just to talk to each other.

The History of Email The computers which sent (and received) the first email.

The history of computing moves from massive data processing mainframes, to time sharing where many people share one computer, to the diverse collection of personal computing devices we have today. Messaging was first born in the time sharing era, when users wanted the ability to message other users of the same time shared computer.

Unix machines have a command called write which can be used to send messages to other currently logged-in users. For example, if I want to ask Mark out to lunch:

$ write mark write: mark is logged in more than once; writing to ttys002 Hi, wanna grab lunch?

He will see:

Message from zack@Awesome-Mainframe.local on ttys003 at 10:36 ... Hi, wanna grab lunch?

This is absolutely hilarious if your coworker happens to be using a graphical tool like vim which will not take kindly to random output on the screen.

Persistant Messages

When the mail was being developed, nobody thought at the beginning it was going to be the smash hit that it was. People liked it, they thought it was nice, but nobody imagined it was going to be the explosion of excitement and interest that it became. So it was a surprise to everybody, that it was a big hit.

— Frank Heart, director of the ARPANET infrastructure team

An early alternative to Unix called Tenex took this capability one step further. Tenex included the ability to send a message to another user by writing onto the end of a file which only they could read. This is conceptually very simple, you could implement it yourself by creating a file in everyones home directory which only they can read:

mkdir ~/messages chmod 0442 ~/messages

Anyone who wants to send a message just has to append to the file:

echo "?????\n" >> /Users/zack/messages

This is, of course, not a great system because anyone could delete your messages! I trust the Tenex implementation (called SNDMSG) was a bit more secure.

ARPANET

In 1971, the Tenex team had just gotten access to the ARPANET, the network of computers which was a main precursor to the Internet. The team quickly created a program called CPYNET which could be used to send files to remote computers, similar to FTP today.

One of these engineers, Ray Tomlinson, had the idea to combine the message files with CPYNET. He added a command which allowed you to append to a file. He also wired things up such that you could add an @ symbol and a remote machine name to your messages and the machine would automatically connect to that host and append to the right file. In other words, running:

SNDMSG zack@cloudflare

Would append to the /Users/zack/messages file on the host cloudflare. And email was born!

FTP

The CPYNET format did not have much of a life outside of Tenex unfortunately. It was necessary to create a standard method of communication which every system could understand. Fortunately, this was also the goal of another similar protocol, FTP. FTP (the File Transfer Protocol) sought to create a single way by which different machines could transfer files over the ARPANET.

FTP originally didn’t include support for email. Around the time it was updated to use TCP (rather than the NCP protocol which ARPANET historically used) the MAIL command was added.

$ ftp < open bbn > 220 HELLO, this is the BBN mail service < MAIL zack > 354 Type mail, ended by <CRLF>.<CRLF> < Sup? < . > 250 Mail stored

These commands were ultimately borrowed from FTP and formed the basis for the SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) protocol in 1982.

Mailboxes

The format for defining how a message should be transmitted (and often how it would be stored on disk) was first standardized in 1977:

Date : 27 Aug 1976 0932-PDT From : Ken Davis <KDavis at Other-Host> Subject : Re: The Syntax in the RFC To : George Jones <Group at Host>, Al Neuman at Mad-Host There’s no way this is ever going anywhere...

Note that at this time the ‘at’ word could be used rather than the ‘@’ symbol. Also note that this use of headers before the message predates HTTP by almost fifteen years. This format remains nearly identical today.

The Fifth Edition of Unix used a very similar format for storing a users email messages on disk. Each user would have a file which contained their messages:

From MAILER-DAEMON Fri Jul 8 12:08:34 1974 From: Author <author@example.com> To: Recipient <recipient@example.com> Subject: Save $100 on floppy disks They’re never gonna go out of style! From MAILER-DAEMON Fri Jul 8 12:08:34 1974 From: Author <author@example.com> To: Recipient <recipient@example.com> Subject: Seriously, buy AAPL You’ve never heard of it, you’ve never heard of me, but when you see that stock symbol appear. Buy it. - The Future

Each message began with the word ‘From’, meaning if a message happened to contain From at the beginning of a line it needed to be escaped lest the system think that’s the start of a new message:

From MAILER-DAEMON Fri Jul 8 12:08:34 2011 From: Author <author@example.com> To: Recipient <recipient@example.com> Subject: Sample message 1 This is the body. >From (should be escaped). There are 3 lines.

It was technically possible to interact with your email by simply editing your mailbox file, but it was much more common to use an email client. As you might expect there was a diversity of clients available, but a few are of historical note.

RD was an editor which was created by Lawrence Roberts who was actually the program manager for the ARPANET itself at the time. It was a set of macros on top of the Tenex text editor (TECO), which itself would later become Emacs.

RD was the first client to give us the ability to sort messages, save messages, and delete them. There was one key thing missing though: any integration between receiving a message and sending one. RD was strictly for consuming emails you had received, to reply to a message it was necessary to compose an entirely new message in SNDMSG or another tool.

That innovation came from MSG, which itself was an improvement on a client with the hilarious name BANANARD. MSG added the ability to reply to a message, in the words of Dave Crocker:

My subjective sense was that propagation of MSG resulted in an exponential explosion of email use, over roughly a 6-month period. The simplistic explanation is that people could now close the Shannon-Weaver communication loop with a single, simple command, rather than having to formulate each new message. In other words, email moved from the sending of independent messages into having a conversation.

Email wasn’t just allowing people to talk more easily, it was changing how they talk. In the words of C. R. Linklider and Albert Vezza in 1978:

One of the advantages of the message systems over letter mail was that, in an ARPANET message, one could write tersely and type imperfectly, even to an older person in a superior position and even to a person one did not know very well, and the recipient took no offense... Among the advantages of the network message services over the telephone were the fact that one could proceed immediately to the point without having to engage in small talk first, that the message services produced a preservable record, and that the sender and receiver did not have to be available at the same time.

The most popular client from this era was called MH and was composed of several command line utilities for doing various actions with and to your email.

$ mh % show (Message inbox:1) Return-Path: joed Received: by mysun.xyz.edu (5.54/ACS) id AA08581; Mon, 09 Jan 1995 16:56:39 EST Message-Id: <9501092156.AA08581@mysun.xyz.edu> To: angelac Subject: Here’s the first message you asked for Date: Mon, 09 Jan 1995 16:56:37 -0600 From: "Joe Doe" <joed> Hi, Angela! You asked me to send you a message. Here it is. I hope this is okay and that you can figure out how to use that mail system. Joe

You could reply to the message easily:

% repl To: "Joe Doe" <joed> cc: angelac Subject: Re: Here’s the first message you asked for In-reply-to: Your message of "Mon, 09 Jan 1995 16:56:37 -0600." <9501092156.AA08581@mysun.xyz.edu> ------- % edit vi

You could then edit your reply in vim which is actually pretty cool.

Interestingly enough, in June of 1996 the guide “MH & xmh: Email for Users & Programmers” was actually the first book in history to be published on the Internet.

Pine, Elm & Mutt

All mail clients suck. This one just sucks less.

— Mutt Slogan

It took several years until terminals became powerful enough, and perhaps email pervasive enough, that a more graphical program was required. In 1986 Elm was introduced, which allowed you to interact with your email more interactively.

The History of Email Elm Mail Client

This was followed by more graphical TUI clients like Mutt and Pine.

In the words of the University of Washington’s Pine team:

Our goal was to provide a mailer that naive users could use without fear of making mistakes. We wanted to cater to users who were less interested in learning the mechanics of using electronic mail than in doing their jobs; users who perhaps had some computer anxiety. We felt the way to do this was to have a system that didn’t do surprising things and provided immediate feedback on each operation; a mailer that had a limited set of carefully-selected functions.

These clients were becoming gradually easier and easier to use by non-technical people, and it was becoming clear how big of a deal this really was:

We in the ARPA community (and no doubt many others outside it) have come to realize that we have in our hands something very big, and possibly very important. It is now plain to all of us that message service over computer networks has enormous potential for changing the way communication is done in all sectors of our society: military, civilian government, and private.

Webmail

Its like when I did the referer field. I got nothing but grief for my choice of spelling. I am now attempting to get the spelling corrected in the OED since my spelling is used several billion times a minute more than theirs.

— Phillip Hallam-Baker on his spelling of ’Referer’ 2000

The first webmail client was created by Phillip Hallam-Baker at CERN in 1994. Its creation was early enough in the history of the web that it led to the identification of the need for the Content-Length header in POST requests.

Hotmail was released in 1996. The name was chosen because it included the letters HTML to emphasize it being ‘on the web’ (it was original stylized as ‘HoTMaiL’). When it was launched users were limited to 2MB of storage (at the time a 1.6GB hard drive was $399).

Hotmail was originally implemented using FreeBSD, but in a decision I’m sure every engineer regretted, it was moved to Windows 2000 after the service was bought by Microsoft. In 1999, hackers revealed a security flaw in Hotmail that permitted anybody to log in to any Hotmail account using the password ‘eh’. It took until 2001 for ‘hackers’ to realize you could access other people’s messages by swap usernames in the URL and guessing at a valid message number.

The History of Email

Gmail was famously created in 2004 as a ‘20% project’ of Paul Buchheit. Originally it wasn’t particularly believed in as a product within Google. They had to launch using a few hundred Pentium III computers no one else wanted, and it took three years before they had the resources to accept users without an invitation. It was notable both for being much closer to a desktop application (using AJAX) and for the unprecedented offer of 1GB of mail storage.

The Future The History of Email US Postal Mail Volume, KPCB

At this point email is a ubiquitous enough communication standard that it’s very possible postal mail as an everyday idea will die before I do. One thing which has not survived well is any attempt to replace email with a more complex messaging tool like Google Wave. With the rise of more targeted communication tools like Slack, Facebook, and Snapchat though, you never know.

There is, of course, a cost to that. The ancestors of the Internet were kind enough to give us a communication standard which is free, transparent, and standardized. It would be a shame to see the tech communication landscape move further and further into the world of locked gardens and proprietary schemas.

We’ll leave you with two quotes:

Mostly because it seemed like a neat idea. There was no directive to ‘go forth and invent e-mail’.

— Ray Tomlinson, answering a question about why he invented e-mail

Permit me to carry the doom-crying one step further. I am curious whether the increasingly easy access to computers by adolescents will have any effect, however small, on their social development. Keep in mind that the social skills necessary for interpersonal relationships are not taught; they are learned by experience. Adolescence is probably the most important time period for learning these skills. There are two directions for a cause-effect relationship. Either people lacking social skills (shy people, etc.) turn to other pasttimes, or people who do not devote enough time to human interactions have difficulty learning social skills. I do not [consider] whether either or both of these alternatives actually occur. I believe I am justified in asking whether computers will compete with human interactions as a way of spending time? Will they compete more effectively than other pasttimes? If so, and if we permit computers to become as ubiquitous as televisions, will computers have some effect (either positive or negative) on personal development of future generations?

— Gary Feldman, 1981

  • Use Cloudflare Apps to build tools which can be installed by millions of sites.

    Build an app →

    If you're in San Francisco, London or Austin: work with us.

  • Our next post is on the history of the URL!
    Get notified when new apps and apps-related posts are released:

    Email Address
(function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';fnames[1]='FNAME';ftypes[1]='text';fnames[2]='LNAME';ftypes[2]='text';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true);

/* Social */ .social { margin-top: 1.3em; } .fb_iframe_widget { padding-right: 1px; } .IN-widget { padding-left: 11px; } /* Hide period after author */ .post-header .meta a { border-right: 5px solid white; margin-right: -5px; position: relative; } /* Post */ body { background-color: white; } pre, code { font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; } section.primary-content { font-size: 16px; line-height: 1.6; color: black; } blockquote { padding-bottom: 1.5em; padding-top: 1em; font-style: italic; font-size: 1.25rem; } blockquote.pull-quote-centered { font-size: 1.2em; text-align: center; max-width: 100%; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; } blockquote blockquote { margin-left: 1em; padding-left: 1em; border-left: 5px solid rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.2); padding-bottom: 0.5em; padding-top: 0.5em; margin-bottom: 0.5em; margin-top: 0.5em; } figure.standard { position: relative; max-width: 100%; margin: 1em auto; text-align: center; z-index: -1; } .figcaption { padding-top: .5em; font-size: .8em; color: #888; font-weight: 300; letter-spacing: .03em; line-height: 1.35; } .figcontent { display: inline-block; } p.attribution { color: #666; font-size: 0.9em; padding-bottom: 1em; } a code.year { text-decoration: underline; } .closing-cards #mc_embed_signup .mc-field-group { margin: 0.75em 0; } .closing-cards #mc_embed_signup input { font-size: 1.5em; height: auto; } .closing-cards #mc_embed_signup input[type="email"] { border: 1px solid #bcbcbc; border-radius: 2px; margin-bottom: 0; } .closing-cards #mc_embed_signup input[type="submit"] { background: #f38020; color: #fff; padding: .8em 1em .8em 1em; white-space: nowrap; line-height: 1.2; text-align: center; border-radius: 2px; border: 0; display: inline-block; text-rendering: optimizeLegibility; -webkit-tap-highlight-color: transparent; -webkit-font-smoothing: subpixel-antialiased; user-select: none; -webkit-appearance: none; appearance: none; letter-spacing: .04em; text-indent: .04em; cursor: pointer; } .closing-cards #mc_embed_signup div.mce_inline_error { background-color: transparent; color: #C33; padding: 0; display: inline-block; font-size: 0.9em; } .closing-cards #mc_embed_signup p:not(:empty) { line-height: 1.5; margin-bottom: 2em; } .closing-cards #mc_embed_signup input[type="email"] { font-size: 20px !important; width: 100% !important; padding: .6em 1em !important; } .closing-cards #mc_embed_signup .mc-field-group { margin: 0 !important; } .closing-cards #mc_embed_signup input[type="submit"] { font-size: 20px !important; margin-top: .5em !important; padding: .6em 1em !important; } .closing-cards #mc_embed_signup div.mce_inline_error { padding: 0; margin: 0; color: #F38020 !important; } aside.section.learn-more { display: none; } .closing-cards { background: #eee; width: 100%; list-style-type: none; margin-left: 0; } .closing-card { width: calc(50% - 10px) !important; font-size: 20px; padding: 1.5em; display: inline-block; box-sizing: border-box; vertical-align: top; } @media (max-width: 788px){ .closing-card { width: 100% !important; } .closing-card + .closing-card { border-top: 10px solid white; } }
Categories: Technology

The Apostles Creed 13: Ascended into Heaven

Blog & Mablog - Sat, 23/09/2017 - 16:45
Introduction:

The intersection of heaven and earth, the boundary between the two, is not the same kind of boundary that we might find between two countries. If you were not on a marked road, crossing between countries is not necessarily something you would even notice. But crossing between earth and heaven necessitates a qualitative difference in experience.

The Text:

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord.  He was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the virgin, Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.  He descended into Hades. On the third day He rose again from the dead, ascended into Heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.  I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Summary of the Text:

“And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:9–11).

After the resurrection, Jesus continued to appear to His disciples, teaching them and reminding them of things, doing so for forty days. After almost a month and a half of this, He gave them their final instructions, and then was taken up out of their sight. They watched as He ascended, and they watched continually until He disappeared into a cloud—indicating a significant height. The disciples were gazing steadfastly at Him, until they were interrupted by two men in white apparel. These two men were obviously angels, and asked them why they were staring up into heaven. This same Jesus, they said, was going to come back again, and He was going to come back again in the same way He departed. This means that the Second Coming of Christ will involve His return in the body.

Ascended:

Now when Jesus ascended, it says that the disciples were able to watch Him ascend. They did so until He disappeared into a cloud. Now let us—as the apostle says elsewhere—be adults in our thinking (1 Cor. 14:20). We do not believe that Jesus just kept going, at approximately 30 mph, until He came to occupy His sky palace behind the moon. Neither did he continue at that same speed on His way to highest heaven—30 mph after two thousand years would place Him about 17.5 million miles away, which would mean He is just over halfway to Mars by now, with Mars at its closest. We are Christians, which means we are committed to faith in the miraculous. But this does not mean that we committed to childish absurdities.

The Scripture teach that heaven and earth have undergone a “divorce,” and an essential part of Christ’s work was to bring them back together into union again. “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” (Col. 1:20). Because of man’s sin, heaven and earth were thrown out of joint. And the previous unity was not demonstrated through what we would call “space travel.” That’s not how Gabriel came to speak to Mary. So through Christ we are being introduced into a completed nature that is being transformed, and reunited again.

Facing the Difficulty:

When we reject the materialist cosmology, which we do, with its endless concourse of blind atoms, this does not mean that to be pious Christians we must adopt a view of the cosmos that is a triple-decker stage set (Heaven, earth, Hell), made out of painted plywood. The language used for us is metaphorical, and the enacted language of the Ascension is metaphorical. As on many other topics, C.S. Lewis is particularly helpful:

“All the accounts suggest that the appearances of the Risen Body came to an end; some describe an abrupt end about six weeks after the death. And they describe this abrupt end in a way which presents greater difficulties to the modern mind than any other part of Scripture. For here, surely, we get the implication of all those primitive crudities to which I have said that Christians are not committed: the vertical ascent like a balloon, the local Heaven, the decorated chair to the right of the Father’s throne.”[1]

But while Scripture does not require from us faith in “primitive crudities,” it does require from us a robust commitment to the supernatural, to the miraculous, and to a view of the cosmos that will earn us the scorn of materialistic atheism.

“The records represent Christ as passing after death (as no man had passed before) neither into a purely, that is, negatively, ‘spiritual’ mode of existence nor into a ‘natural’ life such as we know, but into a life which has its own, new Nature. It represents Him as withdrawing six weeks later, into some different mode of existence. It says—He says—that He goes ‘to prepare a place for us’. This presumably means that He is about to create that whole new Nature which will provide the environment or conditions for His glorified humanity and, in Him, for ours.”[2]

As Lewis argues elsewhere, we cannot talk about the arrival of the Lord in this world (or His departure from it) without using metaphorical language. We can impoverish our metaphorical language, but we can’t make it less metaphorical. If we say the Lord “entered” this world instead of saying He “came down,” we are substituting a man coming into a room for a parachutist. But both images are metaphors, describing the intersection of spiritual/physical with an image of physical/physical. But that intersection is not actually physical/physical. At the risk of being misunderstood, it is spiritual|physical/physical|spiritual. In short, we are in over our heads.

Into Heaven:

The Scripture uses the term heaven to refer to different realities. We have the heavens to refer to what we call the sky. Birds are creatures of heaven (Gen. 6:7). Jesus says the same thing (Matt. 6:26). Heaven is where rain comes from (Jas. 5:18).

A second use of heaven refers to what is commonly called outer space. After describing the sun going dark, and the moon not giving its light, Jesus says that the powers of the heavens will be shaken (Matt. 24:29). Believers are to resist the temptation to worship these celestial bodies (Deut. 4:19). The stars are called the host of heaven.

But there is more. A third heaven contains realities beyond what we can see—called the highest heaven (Deut. 10:14), or the heaven of heavens (Ps. 148:4). This third heaven is where God’s presence is manifested, even though He cannot be contained by the heaven of heavens (1 Kings 8:27). And yet, God’s presence is somehow localized in this Heaven (Heb. 8:1; Acts 7:55). The presence of God is in this Heaven. “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Heb. 9:24).

The Third Heaven:

Considering all these things, we should locate the “third heaven” that Paul equates with Paradise (2 Cor. 12:2, 4), with the highest Heaven, where the presence of God is manifested. An alternative to this would be to equate it with the third sphere of the ancient cosmology (Venus), a view I find much less compelling.

“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession” (Heb. 4:14).

And so then, let us consider what holding fast to our profession, what holding fast to Jesus Christ, actually entails.

Notes

[1] C. S. Lewis, Miracles: A Preliminary Study (New York: HarperOne, 2001), 242.

[2] C. S. Lewis, Miracles: A Preliminary Study (New York: HarperOne, 2001), 243.

The post The Apostles Creed 13: Ascended into Heaven appeared first on Blog & Mablog.

Categories: People I don't know

The Width of Our Lives

Blog & Mablog - Sat, 23/09/2017 - 16:28

The life that Christ has called us into is a life that is not just everlasting in duration. The eternal life that He welcomes us into is qualitative. Jesus says that He is the resurrection and the life, and that life is one that the Holy Spirit weaves us into. This affects the texture and the breadth of our lives—for it is intended to. Our natural resistance to this is one the things that God deals with in us.

We want to walk with our heads down, as though we were walking along a railroad track, keeping our balance there; we don’t want to live expansively, the way a Christian ought to live. We forget that God is sovereign over all things, and we forget that He is the God of dangers, the God of adventures, the God of the unexpected. The wrong kind of concern for safety, for security, for a life of predictable and cozy conservatism is, at the end of the day, a form of idolatry.

Think of it this way. Remember this exhortation as you understand the tasks before you—your vocation, your family life, your worship of God. Everyone here will live the entire length of their lives. Everyone lives until their dying day. All of us go the appointed distance. But not all of us live the width of our lives.

The post The Width of Our Lives appeared first on Blog & Mablog.

Categories: People I don't know

Two Kinds of Losers

Blog & Mablog - Sat, 23/09/2017 - 16:03

One of Christ’s most famous parables is that of the prodigal son. It could also be called the parable of the self-righteous brother, or the parable of the longing father. What it teaches us about God the Father is quite remarkable, and to a certain kind of religious mind and heart, also quite scandalous.

Once there was a man with two disobedient sons. One of them was honest enough to go off and spend his inheritance on whores, while the other remained, working diligently in the fields for all the wrong reasons. The two sons are distinguished by this—the scoundrel son received a gift in order to abuse it. The other son was incapable of receiving a gift. The parable is explicit that the father divided the inheritance between the brothers at the beginning of the story, but the older brother later complained that he had received nothing. And he had received nothing—he was incapable of it.

Are you like the younger son? If you are, then you are an abuser of grace. You are a waster. Let us not sugarcoat it—you are a loser. The good news is that this is the Table that is set for you. God welcomes you to it. The fatted calf has been killed for you. You are a loser, and yet the ring has been put on your finger, and a robe has been called for. God the Father has hired a band.

But the grace of God goes still deeper than that. Are you a stuffed shirt Pharisee? Are you a fusser? An ethical, moralistic whiner? Are you the kind of person who has no friends, and cannot recognize the grace of your Father? This just makes you a different kind of loser than your younger brother. So stop standing there in the driveway, sullenly listening to the music and dancing.

As we repent, this Table is for both kinds of losers.

So come, and welcome, to Jesus Christ.

The post Two Kinds of Losers appeared first on Blog & Mablog.

Categories: People I don't know

Episcopal Church bishops challenge Trump, Congress on DACA in NYTimes ad

Anglican Ink - Sat, 23/09/2017 - 14:09

[Episcopal News Service] Some 125 Episcopal Church bishops signed a full-page ad that ran Sept.

How terribly amusing from the European Commission

Adam Smith Institute - Sat, 23/09/2017 - 07:01

There's a great deal of shouting from the European Union about the taxation of digital business. An insistence that really, such companies must be paying more tax where value is added. Which is, of course, how the system currently works. Most of he value is created in the US, given that's where all the programmers are, and that's where it gets taxed, under US rules. Really - profits cannot be paid out to shareholders until US profit taxes are paid.

This doesn't satisfy European politicians of course as they want to be able to spend that revenue. Thus the shouting. However, in the course of their reasoning they let slip something terribly fun, an agreement, an admission perhaps, that we shouldn't be taxing corporations at all:

In the field of taxation, policy makers are struggling to find solutions which would ensure fair and effective taxation as the digital transformation of the economy accelerates. There are weaknesses in the international tax rules as they were originally designed for "brick and mortar" businesses and have now become outdated. The current tax rules no longer fit the modern context where businesses rely heavily on hard-to-value intangible assets, data and automation, which facilitate online trading across borders with no physical presence. These issues are not confined to the digital economy and potentially impact all businesses. As a result, some businesses are present in some countries where they offer services to consumers and conclude contracts with them, taking full advantage of the infrastructure and rule of law institutions available while they are not considered present for tax purposes. This free rider position tilts the playing field in their favour compared to established businesses.

Not paying corporation tax is an advantage to those who don't pay it as against those who do. Which is what we've been saying about corporate and capital taxation all along. If you tax corporations then there will be less investment in them in your economy. This makes everyone poorer - the deadweight costs are high. This is indeed exactly the same reasoning which leads us to insisting, as a result of optimal tax theory, that we shouldn't be taxing the corporations at all.

Which is interesting, even amusing, don't you think? The EU's justification for why they just must tax companies is the very reason basic theory says we shouldn't be taxing corporations at all.

Categories: Current Affairs

Elvis's Own Personal Drug War

Mises Institute - Sat, 23/09/2017 - 04:30
By: Chris Calton
Nixon-Elvis-ap.jpg

When Elvis Presley died in 1977 from drug abuse, he was an official, badge-carrying federal agent for the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, an honorary appointment granted by President Richard Nixon.

To say that Elvis Presley had a respect for law enforcement is to drastically understate his enthusiasm. In another life, he would have liked to have been a police officer, and he was obsessed with collecting police badges and uniforms. When he would perform shows around the country, he always made an effort to obtain a badge from the local police force, sometimes by using his celebrity status and other times by donating money to police functions. In some cases, he would offer a $5,000 donation to a police ball in order to procure a badge. He was also known to give expensive cars to local sheriffs, including Sherriff Bill Morris of Memphis who gratefully deputized Presley after receiving a gift of a Mercedes-Benz.

Elvis's Memphis police badge and ID

His generosity was so lavishly offered to members of the Denver police that it actually brought about suspicions of graft and corruption after the King’s death. Along with Cadillacs and Lincoln luxury cars, he paid for officers to take high-class vacations and gifted them with pricey jewelry. He purchased his own Denver police uniform and was made an honorary captain of the Denver Police Force. He would have been a police officer, Elvis once confided, but “God blessed him with a voice.”

Elvis posing in his Denver police uniform

Elvis Becomes a Drug Warrior

In 1970, California senator George Murphy promised to get Elvis a meeting with FBI director J. Edgar Hoover and Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD) director John Ingersoll. In both cases, Elvis was hoping that a generous private donation would be enough to buy him a federal badge from each of these departments.

Elvis never did get to meet Hoover, and when called the BNDD, Ingersoll was out of the office. He spoke, instead, to the number-two man of the Bureau, Deputy Director John Finlator. The deputy director was not swayed by Elvis’s fame or money and informed him that his department could neither accept donations nor issue honorary badges. Elvis’s offer was spurned.

Undeterred, Elvis penned a hand-written letter to President Nixon. In the letter, Elvis expressed his concerns for the “drug culture, the hippie elements, the SDS [Students for a Democratic Society], Black Panthers, etc.” Offering his services as a celebrity communicator to the president, Elvis went on to say, “I can and will do more good if I were made a Federal Agent at Large.”

To help the president wage his war against the drug users, the hippies, and the communists, Elvis said, “all I need is the Federal credentials.”

On December 21, 1970, President Nixon agreed to meet the King. In full form, according to an interview given by Egil Krogh, Nixon’s aide who received Elvis, he arrived “in a purple jumpsuit and a white shirt open to the navel with a big gold chain and thick-rimmed sunglasses.” The meeting with the president got off to an awkward start, with Elvis complaining to Nixon about the difficulties of performing in Las Vegas and expressing his anger for The Beatles.

Finally, Elvis revealed his agenda. “Mr. President,” he said, “can you get me a badge from the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs?”

This is what Egil Krogh was worried about. He knew that Elvis had already been turned away by the BNDD on this exact matter. Nixon turned to Krogh, calling him by his nickname: “Bud, can we get him a badge?”

“Well, Mr. President,” Krogh answered, “if you want to get him a badge, we can do that.”

Nixon gave the order to get the King a badge, which elated Elvis so much that he crossed to the other side of the desk and gave the president a bear hug. Elvis then had his body guards bring in the gifts he had brought with him, which he lavished on the president and his aides, including jewelry for their wives. Before leaving, Nixon and Elvis posed for one of the most famous photographs ever taken in the Oval Office.

Elvis was now a badge-carrying drug warrior, and he carried his badge with him for the rest of his life, until he died seven years later from a drug overdose.



Categories: Current Affairs

The Supreme Court Failed Us On Vietnam

Mises Institute - Sat, 23/09/2017 - 04:00
By: Jacob G. Hornberger
vietnam.PNG

With last weeks’s beginning of Ken Burns’ new documentary about the Vietnam War, the war will be brought back to the front burner for national discussion and debate.

There is one thing that is crystal clear and indisputable about the U.S. intervention into Vietnam’s civil war: The intervention was illegal under our form of government. That’s because it was waged in violation of the U.S. Constitution, the document that sets forth the powers of U.S. officials, including those in the military and the CIA.

When the federal government was called into existence by the Constitution, its powers were limited to those set forth in the document itself. If a power isn’t enumerated, then it cannot lawfully be exercised.

The Constitution does not give the power to initiate war to the president. The Framers and the American people who ratified the Constitution did not want the president or the military making that decision. That’s why the Constitution delegates the power to declare war to Congress, the elected representatives of the American people.

Thus, if the president initiates war against another nation without a congressional declaration of war, he is acting unlawfully under our form of government.

The interesting question is: Why didn’t the U.S. Supreme Court and the federal judiciary declare the U.S. war on North Vietnam to be unconstitutional?

Ever since the Supreme Court’s decision in Marbury vs. Madison in 1803, the Court has assumed the authority and responsibility to declare acts of the president or laws enacted by Congress to be unconstitutional. And ever since Marbury, there have been many cases in which the federal courts have declared presidential actions or congressional laws unconstitutional.

Yet, when it came to U.S intervention into the Vietnam War, the federal judiciary declined to act. Why?

The issue was certainly clear-cut. The Constitution required a congressional declaration of war against North Vietnam. There was no congressional declaration of war against North Vietnam. Therefore, by initiating a war against North Vietnam, the president, the Pentagon, and the CIA were acting illegally under our form of constitutional government.

The federal judiciary has long rationalized its deference to the Pentagon and the CIA in terms of rhetoric like respect for “the coordinate branches of the government” or by suggesting that federal judges lack foreign-policy expertise or by simply asserting that a petitioners lacks “standing” to bring a legal action to declare a war to be unconstitutional.

In actuality, there is a more fundamental reason for judicial deference to the president and the U.S. national-security establishment.

The federal judges and the Supreme Court justices knew that, as a practical matter, there was no way that the president, backed by the military and the CIA, would comply with a judicial decision declaring the U.S. war in Vietnam to be unconstitutional. They also knew that, as a practical matter, there was no way for the federal courts to enforce their ruling against the president, the Pentagon, and the CIA.

Therefore, rather than expose the impotence on the part of the federal judiciary with respect to that particular part of the Constitution, the federal judiciary decided that it would be more prudent to create an appearance of lacking the authority or jurisdiction to declare the U.S. war in Vietnam unconstitutional. In that way, they could create the façade that the federal judiciary was still the ultimate arbiter of the constitutionality of an action while, in reality, deferring to the overwhelming power of the president, the Pentagon, and the CIA to wage what was clearly an unconstitutional war.

Everyone would have been better off if the Supreme Court and the lower federal courts had not shirked their responsibility under the Constitution and had instead done their duty by declaring the U.S. intervention into the Vietnam War to be unlawful and unconstitutional, even if the president, the Pentagon, and the CIA had ignored the court’s judgment. At least the American people would be able to easily see why President Eisenhower warned the American people of the grave threat that the military-intelligence establishment poses to the liberties and democratic processes of the American people.

Reprinted with permission. 



Categories: Current Affairs

Week in Review: September 23, 2017

Mises Institute - Sat, 23/09/2017 - 04:00
By: Mises Institute
Week in Review image

Almost a decade later, the Federal Reserve this week announced it will begin reversing quantitative easing. Slowly. Very slowly. The balance sheet currently stands at $4.5 trillion and they will begin allowing $10 billion in assets to roll off their sheets next month. Given the unprecedented nature of QE, even this modest reduction has many market observers on edge. Of course, the fallout from the Fed's actions are still being felt, while the Trump Treasury is making threats that it would have disastrous consequences if acted on.

On Mises Weekends, Jeff is joined by Dr. Mark Thornton to get his take on the Fed's actions and what it all means for stock markets, investors, and the US economy. Can quantitative easing, a roundabout form of monetizing debt, actually work? Can monetary policy make us rich? Or are Fed officials just groping in the dark, putting off a day of reckoning?

And in case you missed them, here are this weeks Mises Wire and FedWatch articles, covering a wide array of topics:

 

 

 

 

 



Categories: Current Affairs

Elivs's Own Personal Drug War

Mises Institute - Sat, 23/09/2017 - 04:00
By: Chris Calton
Nixon-Elvis-ap.jpg

When Elvis Presley died in 1977 from drug abuse, he was an official, badge-carrying federal agent for the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, an honorary appointment granted by President Richard Nixon.

To say that Elvis Presley had a respect for law enforcement is to drastically understate his enthusiasm. In another life, he would have liked to have been a police officer, and he was obsessed with collecting police badges and uniforms. When he would perform shows around the country, he always made an effort to obtain a badge from the local police force, sometimes by using his celebrity status and other times by donating money to police functions. In some cases, he would offer a $5,000 donation to a police ball in order to procure a badge. He was also known to give expensive cars to local sheriffs, including Sherriff Bill Morris of Memphis who gratefully deputized Presley after receiving a gift of a Mercedes-Benz.

Elvis's Memphis police badge and ID

His generosity was so lavishly offered to members of the Denver police that it actually brought about suspicions of graft and corruption after the King’s death. Along with Cadillacs and Lincoln luxury cars, he paid for officers to take high-class vacations and gifted them with pricey jewelry. He purchased his own Denver police uniform and was made an honorary captain of the Denver Police Force. He would have been a police officer, Elvis once confided, but “God blessed him with a voice.”

Elvis posing in his Denver police uniform

Elvis Becomes a Drug Warrior

In 1970, California senator George Murphy promised to get Elvis a meeting with FBI director J. Edgar Hoover and Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD) director John Ingersoll. In both cases, Elvis was hoping that a generous private donation would be enough to buy him a federal badge from each of these departments.

Elvis never did get to meet Hoover, and when called the BNDD, Ingersoll was out of the office. He spoke, instead, to the number-two man of the Bureau, Deputy Director John Finlator. The deputy director was not swayed by Elvis’s fame or money and informed him that his department could neither accept donations nor issue honorary badges. Elvis’s offer was spurned.

Undeterred, Elvis penned a hand-written letter to President Nixon. In the letter, Elvis expressed his concerns for the “drug culture, the hippie elements, the SDS [Students for a Democratic Society], Black Panthers, etc.” Offering his services as a celebrity communicator to the president, Elvis went on to say, “I can and will do more good if I were made a Federal Agent at Large.”

To help the president wage his war against the drug users, the hippies, and the communists, Elvis said, “all I need is the Federal credentials.”

On December 21, 1970, President Nixon agreed to meet the King. In full form, according to an interview given by Egil Krogh, Nixon’s aide who received Elvis, he arrived “in a purple jumpsuit and a white shirt open to the navel with a big gold chain and thick-rimmed sunglasses.” The meeting with the president got off to an awkward start, with Elvis complaining to Nixon about the difficulties of performing in Las Vegas and expressing his anger for The Beatles.

Finally, Elvis revealed his agenda. “Mr. President,” he said, “can you get me a badge from the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs?”

This is what Egil Krogh was worried about. He knew that Elvis had already been turned away by the BNDD on this exact matter. Nixon turned to Krogh, calling him by his nickname: “Bud, can we get him a badge?”

“Well, Mr. President,” Krogh answered, “if you want to get him a badge, we can do that.”

Nixon gave the order to get the King a badge, which elated Elvis so much that he crossed to the other side of the desk and gave the president a bear hug. Elvis then had his body guards bring in the gifts he had brought with him, which he lavished on the president and his aides, including jewelry for their wives. Before leaving, Nixon and Elvis posed for one of the most famous photographs ever taken in the Oval Office.

Elvis was now a badge-carrying drug warrior, and he carried his badge with him for the rest of his life, until he died seven years later from a drug overdose.



Categories: Current Affairs

Pentecostal poaching behind Indian ecumenical crack up

Anglican Ink - Sat, 23/09/2017 - 03:53

The CSI has withdrawn from the Kerala Council of Churches after the Believers Church was admitted to the ranks of the ecumenical Protestant organization.

Toronto archbishop to retire

Anglican Ink - Sat, 23/09/2017 - 01:14

Archbishop Colin Johnson calls for the election of a coadjutor

A New API Binding: cloudflare-php

CloudFlare - Sat, 23/09/2017 - 01:01
 cloudflare-php

 cloudflare-php

Back in May last year, one of my colleagues blogged about the introduction of our Python binding for the Cloudflare API and drew reference to our other bindings in Go and Node. Today we are complimenting this range by introducing a new official binding, this time in PHP.

This binding is available via Packagist as cloudflare/sdk, you can install it using Composer simply by running composer require cloudflare/sdk. We have documented various use-cases in our "Cloudflare PHP API Binding" KB article to help you get started.

Alternatively should you wish to help contribute, or just give us a star on GitHub, feel free to browse to the cloudflare-php source code.

 cloudflare-php

PHP is a controversial language, and there is no doubt there are elements of bad design within the language (as is the case with many other languages). However, love it or hate it, PHP is a language of high adoption; as of September 2017 W3Techs report that PHP is used by 82.8% of all the websites whose server-side programming language is known. In creating this binding the question clearly wasn't on the merits of PHP, but whether we wanted to help drive improvements to the developer experience for the sizeable number of developers integrating with us whilst using PHP.

In order to help those looking to contribute or build upon this library, I write this blog post to explain some of the design decisions made in putting this together.

Exclusively for PHP 7

PHP 5 initially introduced the ability for type hinting on the basis of classes and interfaces, this opened up (albeit seldom used) parametric polymorphic behaviour in PHP. Type hinting on the basis of interfaces made it easier for those developing in PHP to follow the Gang of Four's famous guidance: "Program to an 'interface', not an 'implementation'."

Type hinting has slowly developed in PHP, in PHP 7.0 the ability for Scalar Type Hinting was released after a few rounds of RFCs. Additionally PHP 7.0 introduced Return Type Declarations, allowing return values to be type hinted in a similar way to argument type hinting. In this library we extensively use Scalar Type Hinting and Return Type Declarations thereby restricting the backward compatibility that's available with PHP 5.

In order for backward compatibility to be available, these improvements to type hinting simply would not be implementable and the associated benefits would be lost. With Active Support no longer being offered to PHP 5.6 and Security Support little over a year away from disappearing for the entirety of PHP 5.x, we decided the additional coverage wasn't worth the cost.

 cloudflare-php

Object Composition

What do we mean by a software architecture? To me the term architecture conveys a notion of the core elements of the system, the pieces that are difficult to change. A foundation on which the rest must be built. Martin Fowler

When getting started with this package, you'll notice there are 3 classes you'll need to instantiate:

$key = new \Cloudflare\API\Auth\APIKey('user@example.com', 'apiKey'); $adapter = new Cloudflare\API\Adapter\Guzzle($key); $user = new \Cloudflare\API\Endpoints\User($adapter); echo $user->getUserID();

The first class being instantiated is called APIKey (a few other classes for authentication are available). We then proceed to instantiate the Guzzle class and the APIKey object is then injected into the constructor of the Guzzle class. The Auth interface that the APIKey class implements is fairly simple:

namespace Cloudflare\API\Auth; interface Auth { public function getHeaders(): array; }

The Adapter interface (which the Guzzle class implements) makes explicit that an object built on the Auth interface is expected to be injected into the constructor:

namespace Cloudflare\API\Adapter; use Cloudflare\API\Auth\Auth; use Psr\Http\Message\ResponseInterface; interface Adapter { ... public function __construct(Auth $auth, String $baseURI); ... }

In doing so; we define that classes which implement the Adapter interface are to be composed using objects made from classes which implement the Auth interface.

So why am I explaining basic Dependency Injection here? It is critical to understand as the design of our API changes, the mechanisms for Authentication may vary independently of the HTTP Client or indeed API Endpoints themselves. Similarly the HTTP Client or the API Endpoints may vary independently of the other elements involved. Indeed, this package already contains three classes for the purpose of authentication (APIKey, UserServiceKey and None) which need to be interchangeably used. This package therefore considers the possibility for changes to different components in the API and seeks to allow these components to vary independently.

Dependency Injection is also used where the parameters for an API Endpoint become more complicated then what is permitted by simpler variables types; for example, this is done for defining the Target or Configuration when configuring a Page Rule:

require_once('vendor/autoload.php'); $key = new \Cloudflare\API\Auth\APIKey('mjsa@junade.com', 'apiKey'); $adapter = new Cloudflare\API\Adapter\Guzzle($key); $zones = new \Cloudflare\API\Endpoints\Zones($adapter); $zoneID = $zones->getZoneID("junade.com"); $pageRulesTarget = new \Cloudflare\API\Configurations\PageRulesTargets('https://junade.com/noCache/*'); $pageRulesConfig = new \Cloudflare\API\Configurations\PageRulesActions(); $pageRulesConfig->setCacheLevel('bypass'); $pageRules = new \Cloudflare\API\Endpoints\PageRules($adapter); $pageRules->createPageRule($zoneID, $pageRulesTarget, $pageRulesConfig, true, 6);

The structure of this project is overall based on simple object composition; this provides a far more simple object model for the long-term and a design that provides higher flexibility. For example; should we later want to create an Endpoint class which is a composite of other Endpoints, it becomes fairly trivial for us to build this by implementing the same interface as the other Endpoint classes. As more code is added, we are able to keep the design of the software relatively thinly layered.

Testing/Mocking HTTP Requests

If you're interesting in helping contribute to this repository; there are two key ways you can help:

  1. Building out coverage of endpoints on our API
  2. Building out test coverage of those endpoint classes

The PHP-FIG (PHP Framework Interop Group) put together a standard on how HTTP responses can be represented in an interface, this is described in the PSR-7 standard. This response interface is utilised by our HTTP Adapter interface in which responses to API requests are type hinted to this interface (Psr\Http\Message\ResponseInterface).

By using this standard, it's easier to add further abstractions for additional HTTP clients and mock HTTP responses for unit testing. Let's assume the JSON response is stored in the $response variable and we want to test the listIPs method in the IPs Endpoint class:

public function testListIPs() { $stream = GuzzleHttp\Psr7\stream_for($response); $response = new GuzzleHttp\Psr7\Response(200, ['Content-Type' => 'application/json'], $stream); $mock = $this->getMockBuilder(\Cloudflare\API\Adapter\Adapter::class)->getMock(); $mock->method('get')->willReturn($response); $mock->expects($this->once()) ->method('get') ->with($this->equalTo('ips'), $this->equalTo([]) ); $ips = new \Cloudflare\API\Endpoints\IPs($mock); $ips = $ips->listIPs(); $this->assertObjectHasAttribute("ipv4_cidrs", $ips); $this->assertObjectHasAttribute("ipv6_cidrs", $ips); }

We are able to build a simple mock of our Adapter interface by using the standardised PSR-7 response format, when we do so we are able to define what parameters PHPUnit expects to be passed to this mock. With a mock Adapter class in place we are able to test the IPs Endpoint class as any if it was using a real HTTP client.

Conclusions

Through building on modern versions of PHP, using good Object-Oriented Programming theory and allowing for effective testing we hope our PHP API binding provides a developer experience that is pleasant to build upon.

If you're interesting in helping improve the design of this codebase, I'd encourage you to take a look at the PHP API binding source code on GitHub (and optionally give us a star).

If you work with Go or PHP and you're interested in helping Cloudflare turn our high-traffic customer-facing API into an ever more modern service-oriented environment; we're hiring for Web Engineers in San Francisco, Austin and London.

Categories: Technology

Mark Thornton: Can the Fed Unwind?

Mises Institute - Fri, 22/09/2017 - 23:00
By: Mark Thornton, Jeff Deist
Mark Thornton on Mises Weekends

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen announced the bank would begin selling assets it has relentlessly bought since the Crash of '08. The financial press, including the Wall Street Journal, dutifully praised Yellen for her steady hand. But our guest Dr. Mark Thornton has a different take on what it all means for stock markets, investors, and the US economy. Can quantitative easing—a roundabout form of monetizing debt—actually work? Can monetary policy make us rich? Or, are Fed officials just groping in the dark, putting off a day of reckoning? Jeff Deist and Mark Thornton unwind the narrative.



Categories: Current Affairs

Pages

Subscribe to oakleys.org.uk aggregator
Additional Terms