Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Here's What the End of Net Neutrality Will Mean to All of Us

by Nomad

 Net Neutrality

The End of the Internet as We Know It?

In countries like Iran, Russia, and China, open internet access depends very much on the whims of the government. Through a wide variety of laws and administrative regulations, internet access in such countries is strictly limited. Such censorship has undermined the revolutionary promise of virtually-unrestricted openness for all global citizens.

In the West, the openness of the internet has been a source of pride and a benchmark of the kinds of freedom of expression and access to information that can be found only in liberal democracies.
However, soon that source of pride might soon become a source of shame.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sanity Sunday- The Music of Seckou Keita with Catrin Finch

by Nomad

This week's Sanity Sunday takes an ethnic turn and travels to the small West African country of Senegal. Senegal's rich musical heritage is due in part to the diversity and history of its people.One fine example of this rich heritage 39-year old Senegal- born Seckou Keita.

He is one of the leaders of the newest generation of African traditional musicians, fusing the traditional forms and instruments with those of other cultures. The instrument he is playing is called a "kora," a long-necked harp lute of West Africa. He is also a percussionist and singer. Remarkably, he is a self-trained musician and began studying on his own when he was seven years old.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Good News Round-Up - Thanksgiving 2017

by Nomad

What do you think? Is it time for a little good news?
It's been another demoralizing week in politics. There have been some fairly disgusting accusations flying around left and right. President Trump, his family, and all his cronies still haven't been called to account and it had to be patient and it is harder to be hopeful.

However, that is not the complete story. There's good news out there if you look for it.
With that in mind, I have scoured the net in search of optimism and glad tidings and here are four items that I've managed to uncover.

George Kaiser, the Philanthropic Oil Man

The Christian Science Monitor has highlighted the philanthropic efforts of Oklahoma oil tycoon, George Kaiser. Despite being the state's richest man, Kaiser (whose net worth is at
least $11.5 billion) doesn't go in for ostentation like any other billionaire. He is a simple man, reportedly does not own any vacation homes, airplanes or yachts; and travels on commercial flights.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Cutting Edge: What Happened When 3-D Printing Tech Collided with Gun Control

 by Nomad

Cody R. Wilson

The Fifth Most Dangerous Person on the Net

Free market anarchist and gun-rights activist, Cody R. Wilson of Austin, Texas, has a dream. He wants to end the gun control debate once and for all.
How? By giving every person who wants one the opportunity to own an unlicensed assault weapon. And he is using cutting-edge unregulated (and unregulatable) technology to make that happen.

As founder and director his non-profit organization. Defense Distributed, Wilson published open-source gun designs (CAD files) which can easily be downloaded and self-manufactured using 3-D printing and assembly tools.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Complicated Truth about Why So Many Women Go to Prison in Oklahoma

by Nomad

Photographer: Yousef Khanfar

Women Behind Bars

In the Sooner state, if you are a woman-especially if you are not wealthy- your statistical chance of ending up behind bars is far higher than in any state in the union.

In Oklahoma, 151 out of every 100000 women are in prison and that's twice the national average. In fact, according to a 2013 report, the state had the highest incarceration rate for women per capita in the world.

Are Oklahoma women more predisposed to crime for some reason? Are they just more inclined toward lawlessness than ladies in other parts of the country?

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Diversion Time: General Knowledge Trivia Quiz

by Nomad

The art of hosting is based on knowing what your guests crave before they do. And based on the recent conversations on the blog, you need a something more than a steady diet of Trumpian politics. mass shootings and sordid scandal.
That's why I have devoted time to trivia contests, even if they are not strictly political.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Gates of War: Donald Trump and the Temple of Janus

by Nomad

Keeping the decision to go to war out of the hands of a single person has long been considered a prudent policy, dating back to ancient times. History has plenty of examples of what can go wrong when this restraint on executive power is ignored.
And that's exactly what Congress is doing with Trump.

The Sacred Gates of War

In Roman mythology, the god Janus was always connected to the ideas of beginnings, of gates, transitions, but also conclusions and endings. This duality is usually the reason Janus is depicted as having two faces, with one face looking to the future and the other to the past.

The Temple of Janus in Rome had a sacred custom of opening its great double-doors during times of war and closing them again in victorious peace. Not too surprisingly, the gates of war were rarely closed. There were always wars being waged somewhere, first to expand and later defend the conquered lands.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Sanity Sunday - The Music of Bill Withers

by Nomad

At age 79. singer-songwriter Bill Withers sums up his career like this:
I don't think I've done bad for a guy from Slab Fork, West Virginia."
From 1970 to 1985, Withers dominated the pop music world with award winners like 1980's "Just the Two of Us" and Grammy-award song like 1971's "Ain't No Sunshine" and 1972's "Lean on Me."

And then something unexpected happened: Withers walked away- one of the few stars in pop-music history to abandon a lucrative career, entirely of his own volition. Despite his fame, Withers was never tempted to revive that career.

Wither's life began in a poor rural area in one of the poorest states in the US. The youngest of six children, his coal miner father died when Bill was 13. As if that were not enough, Withers was born with a stutter.

After a stint in the Navy, Withers traveled to California in the mid-1960s. And somewhere along the way, he conquered his stutter and picked up the guitar. While working at a factory, he was also writing his own tunes. 
"I figured out that you didn't need to be a virtuoso to accompany yourself."

Saturday, November 11, 2017

"Stay Tuned with Preet": One Podcast You Really Ought to be Listening to

 by Nomad

As the editor of this blog and host to a very interesting and well-informed community, I am always eager to hear your tips for high-quality sources. I am sure you've noticed that, with so much happening in Washington and all around the world, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with it all.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Outrage and Indifference: Comparing Sex Scandal Claims against Spacey and Trump

by Nomad

Spacey's Disgrace

In the past couple of weeks, there's been understandable outrage over revelations regarding House of Cards actor Kevin Spacey.  
This sordid tale began when a fellow actor, Anthony Rapp, alleged that Spacey at an after-hours party attempted to seduce the then- 14-year-old Rapp. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Trump Card: Why VP Pence is Never Going to be Trump's Impeachment Ace in the Hole

by Nomad

VP Pence

There was a time when vice-president Mike Pence was thought to be the Republican trump card. Any discussion of impeachment was countered with Pence's option of pardoning any and all of the accused- whether or not they were convicted of any crimes. 
However, as the scandalous stain of Russian collusion expanding, that's becoming more and more unlikely.

Pence's Sinking Ship

In June, with the Trump Administration deep in the Russian collusion scandal, vice-president Mike Pence announced that his longtime aide and chief of staff would be stepping down.
In a variety of roles, Josh Pitcock had been with Pence since 2005. Starting to the time when Pence served in the House of Representatives, to Pence's term as Indiana governor, where Pence went, Pitcock was sure to follow. 
And at the beginning of a tumultuous summer, he bolted.
Meanwhile, the once vague allegations of wrongdoing looked more and more realistic.   

Last month, something similar happened. Pence's press secretary, Marc Lotter, also said "hasta la vista" to the administration. In that case, Lotter saw a brighter future in making the rounds defending Trump and Pence in the news media as a so-called surrogate. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Sanity Sunday- Two Gabriels of the Subways

  by Nomad

If you've never been to New York, there's one pleasant thing that might catch you off-guard. That is the extraordinarily high quality of street music. Jaded New Yorkers think nothing of it. It is their background music but as a visitor, I was deeply impressed.  I suppose that's why I often feature street musicians on my blog.

That high quality is not an accident. Every year since 1985, the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority holds auditions, to maintain that standard.
The program is called “Music Under New York” or (MUSIC) and with acts like Haitian folk singers and Balkan party bands, reflects the wide cultural diversity of the city itself. 
Musicians Gabriel Royal, and Gabriel Mayers, who play and sing in the subway, are featured in this post.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Privileged Executive: How Sessions Has Shut Down Congressional Oversight

by Nomad

Jeff Sessions

One of the duties of members of Congress is to provide oversight over the executive branch. Presidents have long attempted to evade this scrutiny by means both legal and questionable. One tool at president's disposal is the use of executive privilege. 
Here's how Trump's Attorney General has used it to shield the president from oversight in the matter of Russian collusion.

No question about it, as a concept, executive privilege is a tricky thing. It is defined as "a constitutional principle" that allows the president (and high-level executive branch officials) to withhold information from Congress, the courts and ultimately the public.