Thursday, August 30, 2012

3D Printers Simply Amazing

For some weeks now I have been promising myself to see just what 3D printers are all about, because in all truth I didn't know the first thing about them.

And having spent the better part of yesterday afternoon glued to YouTube, I can say, now I know a little something of them, emphasis on the little.

But, as we say oop North, eeh bah gum! what a piece of kit!

Whether it's because I am a Toolmaker/Tooling Engineer myself that leaves me particularly impressed with this remarkable bit of innovation and technology, I don't really know. In a way I suppose it must, but do you have to be an engineer to appreciate this applied technology can make objects that otherwise would be impossible to manufacture, and I do mean impossible?

But it is the engineer in me that truly appreciates the 'one off' capabilities of such printers, being as they are, capable of producing prototypes or master models for a few hundred dollars, instead of  tens of thousands of dollars, if not more in certain cases.

I don't exaggerate when I quote such big numbers. 'One offs' are expensive, one offs of such complexity and tolerances as depicted in the clips below, would be prohibitively expensive. So expensive in actual fact, that many projects simply wouldn't get off the drawing board.

What I do need to do now however, is to go through the clips again in order that I might note and bring certain things to your attention. Not only that, the clips are all over the place at the moment, so they need to be sorted. Consider then for the moment, that I am still at the editing stage with this post, pop back later.

Editing complete, drive on!

What is 3D printing?
By Sebastian Anthony
January 25, 2012

3D printing is a method of manufacturing everything from shoes to jewelery, to guns and aerospace parts, using a computer-controlled printer. The fundamental rule of 3D printing is that it’s an additive manufacturing technique, unlike machining, turning, milling, and sawing which are subtractive.

While there are different kinds of 3D printing, all 3D objects are generally built out of layers. A 3D printer starts with the bottom layer, waits for it to dry or solidify, and then works its way up. This layering process differs depending on the printer and the material it works with — metal, plaster, polymer, resin — but it also depends on whether it’s an industrial or commercial 3D printer.

Industrial vs. commercial

While consumer- and small business-oriented 3D printing is only just taking off, mostly thanks to the MakerBot and RepRaps, 3D printing has been used in an industrial setting for 30 years. Industrial 3D printers tend to be very large and very expensive, but at the same time they are a lot faster than commercial printers. Some industrial printers can print with multiple nozzles at the same time, or even use metal (more on that later). For the most part, industrial printers are nearly always used for rapid prototyping (usually by architects, automakers), but sometimes 3D printed objects — especially in the case of metal objects — are used in final products.

Consumer-oriented 3D printers are cheaper, smaller, slower, and are usually lower resolution than their industrial counterparts. Consumer printers are still used for rapid prototyping, but they’re also used by people who just like the idea of printing stuff out. Generally, consumer printers use thermoplastic extrusion — i.e. it dribbles out tiny dots of melted plastic.

Different printing techniques

3D printing -- the original is on the left hand sideDepending on the material used, how many colors you want, the resolution you require, and how much money you’re willing to fork out, there are at least five popular 3D printing methods to choose from. Some are very similar, but some are really rather crazy (or brilliant).

Fused deposition modeling – The most common 3D printing method is fused deposition modeling (FDM). The raw material with this process is a spool of plastic or metal wire, which is melted and placed by the printer’s nozzle. It quickly hardens, and then the next layer can be added. As far as commercial printers are concerned (like the MakerBot), FDM always uses plastic wire (filament) and is usually called “thermoplastic deposition” in layman’s terms

Inkjet printing — Using special inks (resins and binders) it’s possible to build up a 3D model using a device that’s very similar to a home or office inkjet printer. Layer upon layer of resin and binder are added until an object is created. This is the only 3D printing process that allows for custom colors.

Selective laser sintering – Sintering is the process of creating solid objects from powders, and in the case of selective laser sintering (SLS) the powder can be metal, plastic, ceramic, or glass. Basically, SLS uses a pulsed laser to “draw” the desired cross-section. The powder fuses, and then then the laser forms the next layer on top. This is very much an industrial method, as it requires a rather strong laser.

Digital light processing – With DLP (yes, the same technology behind DLP projectors), a vat of liquid polymer is turned into a very strong solid by exposing it to light. Very high accuracy/resolution can be achieved with this technique — and again, this is an industrial method. Stereolithography is similar to DLP manufacturing, but a lot more expensive.

The others – Finally, there are a few 3D printing techniques that aren’t used extensively, but could be in the future. Resin can be cured using LEDs (similar to the DLP approach); 2-photon photopolymerization can be used to create ultra-small 3D-printed features; laminated object manufacturing uses bits of paper or card stuck together that are then cut out using a laser.

The future of 3D printing More

Below: Starting at the one minute mark, yer man picks up a manufactured sample that just about says all that needs saying. One doesn't need to be any kind of engineer to appreciate the sheer impossibility of manufacturing the product by any other means.

3D printing is a form of additive manufacturing technology where a three dimensional object is created by laying down successive layers of material. 3D printers are generally faster, more affordable and easier to use than other additive manufacturing technologies. 3D printers offer product developers the ability to print parts and assemblies made of several materials with different
mechanical and physical properties in a single build process. Advanced 3D printing technologies yield models that can serve as product prototypes.

Below: This HP sponsored clip highlights the (impossible) complexity of just what can be designed and printed.

The HP Designjet Color 3D printer sets the standard for office-ready, anyone-can-use 3D printing. In this video, Matias del Campo shows off his models and describes how he has been using the machine to save time and create difficult structures that would normally be unthinkable to a model maker in the same circumstances.

The thing really starts to come into its own when metallics are employed in the process.

How It's Made: 3D Metal Printing (Courtesy of Ex One)

Below: Advertising blurb from Zee Printers.

A bit from the UK.

Printing a bicycle with a 3D printer

The future?

3D printing will soon allow digital object storage and transportation, as well as personal manufacturing and very high levels of product customization. This video by Christopher Barnatt of illustrates 3D printing today and in the future.
Update: The Next Battle for Internet Freedom Could Be Over 3D Printing

Update: Short article here with link to a longer piece on printing pharmaceuticals.

The Bizarre Christian "Quiverfill" Movement

I despair, I really do, these people are beyond the pale. And I have marked the quote with an asterisk that really goes beyond the pale to border on the insane.

"What a cute arrow-maker, can I go down on it?"

"No, arrows aren't made that way!"

And yer man! he just had to be called Jim Bob didn't he, or some such.

The Bizarre Christian "Quiverfill" Movement Pushing Women to Procreate for "God's Army"

Leaders of the Quiverfull movement encourage women to have as many as 20 children, regardless of the effects on their health.
By Vyckie Garrison
August 29, 2012

During a recent interview on the Today Show, Jim Bob Duggar blurted out, "It's fun trying!" when asked if he and Michelle were actively seeking to have another baby. Today's host, Savannah Guthrie responded to the mega-dad's salacious remark with, "Jim Bob - you sly dog!"

Viewers may have come away with the impression that TLC's "19 & Counting" celebrity parents, Jim Bob & Michelle Duggar hold very casual, perhaps even avant-garde attitudes regarding sex and sexuality.

But a quick look beneath the surface reveals that America's most celebrated Quiverfull couple believe and espouse decidedly unhealthy ideas when it comes to sex and babymaking.

Although Jim Bob makes frequent displays of romantic affection toward his prolific wife, Michelle, which would suggest that the couple might enjoy sex for non-procreative purposes, the "biblical family values" advocates-- whose "literal" interpretations of scripture inspire the Duggars to receive each and every pregnancy as an unmitigated blessing from God--also teach that the primary purpose of woman is to conceive and bear sons, i.e., "arrows" for God's army.

Consider Romans 1:27: "And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet."

Quiverfull movement leader, Mary Pride, in her seminal book, The Way Home: Beyond Feminism and Back to Reality, offers the following interpretation of "the natural use of the woman" ...

*Since the word used for female is connected so strongly with the idea of nursing babies, whereas it has no connection at all with the idea of sexual activity, I believe that God is saying here that when women exchange their natural function of childbearing and motherliness for that which is "against nature" (that is, trying to behave sexually like a man), the men tend to abandon the natural sexual use of the women and turn to homosexuality. (pp. 27-28)

Nancy Campbell, "editress" of Above Rubies--an international Christian women's magazine-- encourages "women in their high calling as wives, mothers, and homemakers" by explaining in her book, Be Fruitful & Multiply: What the Bible Says About Having Children, that the word "woman" is a combination of the words "womb" and "man." Woman means "womb man" or "man with a womb."

With regard to the Romans 1:27 "natural use of the woman" passage, Campbell says, "Women were created by God's design to function as nourishers by nourishing life in their womb and a babe at their breast. When women deliberately turn away from their natural functions, they do it to their own detriment." (pp. 105-107)

Sure "family values" champion, Jim Bob Duggar puts on a nice show of desiring his godly wife for more than just her ability to produce yet another arrow for his already overflowing quiver ... but Jim Bob's hermeneutics as well as his politics belie enigmatic presuppositions about the purpose of marriage, sex, and Christian wives.

Speaking in regard to Todd Akin's recent "legitimate rape" and Paul Ryan's rape as a "method of conception" remarks, Amanda Marcotte explains the fundamentalist mentality that, "the fact that someone can make a baby means that making babies is what she is for. ... Women are among an array of objects to be used. The refrigerator is for storing food. The bookshelf is for holding books. The woman is for making babies. You no more give her a choice in the matter than you would give your refrigerator veto power over what food it holds because it didn’t like your method of shopping."

Could another pregnancy be life-threatening for Michelle Duggar? Might it be risky for baby #20? Could another pregnancy leave their 19 already-born children motherless? Yes - of course! Is Jim Bob Duggar having fun trying to get his wife pregnant nevertheless? If making babies is Michelle's divine purpose - if that is why God made her ... why shouldn't her husband enjoy knocking her up one more time? It's only natural.

Jim Bob - you sly dog!

Vyckie Garrison, single mom of 7 kids, is a former adherent of the Quiverfull movement – a growing segment of Christian fundamentalist who advocate biblical patriarchy, prolific motherhood, homeschooling, courtship & betrothal, and other crazy shit like that. Garrison tells the story of how she came to embrace the extreme lifestyle and why she left at her “No Longer Quivering” blog and has created The Spiritual Abuse Survivior Blog Network. - AlterNet

Monday, August 27, 2012

John Pilger: "The Guardian Like a Spurned Lover" and Home Truths All Round

I do so admire this man, the world would be a lesser place were it not for John Pilger telling it like it is. More Pilger in the sidebar

Update below:
John Pilger speaks at Socialism 2009

The Pursuit of Julian Assange Is an Assault on Freedom and a Mockery of Journalism

by John Pilger
August 24, 2012

The British government’s threat to invade the Ecuadorean embassy in London and seize Julian Assange is of historic significance. David Cameron, the former PR man to a television industry huckster and arms salesman to sheikdoms, is well placed to dishonor international conventions that have protected Britons in places of upheaval. Just as Tony Blair’s invasion of Iraq led directly to the acts of terrorism in London on July 7, 2005, so Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague have compromised the safety of British representatives across the world.

Threatening to abuse a law designed to expel murderers from foreign embassies, while defaming an innocent man as an “alleged criminal,” Hague has made a laughing stock of Britain across the world, though this view is mostly suppressed in Britain. The same brave newspapers and broadcasters that have supported Britain’s part in epic bloody crimes, from the genocide in Indonesia to the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, now attack the “human rights record” of Ecuador, whose real crime is to stand up to the bullies in London and Washington.

It is as if the Olympics happy-clappery has been subverted overnight by a revealing display of colonial thuggery. Witness the British army officer-cum-BBC reporter Mark Urban “interviewing” a braying Sir Christopher Meyer, Blair’s former apologist in Washington, outside the Ecuadorean embassy, the pair of them erupting with Blimpish indignation that the unclubbable Assange and the uncowed Rafael Correa should expose the western system of rapacious power. Similar affront is vivid in the pages of the Guardian, which has counseled Hague to be “patient” and that storming the embassy would be “more trouble than it is worth.” Assange was not a political refugee, the Guardian declared, because “neither Sweden nor the U.K. would in any case deport someone who might face torture or the death penalty.”

The irresponsibility of this statement matches the Guardian’s perfidious role in the whole Assange affair. The paper knows full well that documents released by WikiLeaks indicate that Sweden has consistently submitted to pressure from the United States in matters of civil rights. In December 2001, the Swedish government abruptly revoked the political refugee status of two Egyptians, Ahmed Agiza and Mohammed el-Zari, who were handed to a CIA kidnap squad at Stockholm airport and “rendered” to Egypt, where they were tortured. An investigation by the Swedish ombudsman for justice found that the government had “seriously violated” the two men’s human rights. In a 2009 U.S. embassy cable obtained by WikiLeaks, entitled “WikiLeaks puts neutrality in the Dustbin of History,” the Swedish elite’s vaunted reputation for neutrality is exposed as a sham. Another U.S. cable reveals that “the extent of [Sweden's military and intelligence] cooperation [with NATO] is not widely known” and unless kept secret “would open the government to domestic criticism.”

The Swedish foreign minister, Carl Bildt, played a notorious leading role in George W. Bush’s Committee for the Liberation of Iraq and retains close ties to the Republican Party’s extreme right. According to the former Swedish director of public prosecutions Sven-Erik Alhem, Sweden’s decision to seek the extradition of Assange on allegations of sexual misconduct is “unreasonable and unprofessional, as well as unfair and disproportionate.” Having offered himself for questioning, Assange was given permission to leave Sweden for London where, again, he offered to be questioned. In May, in a final appeal judgment on the extradition, Britain’s Supreme Court introduced more farce by referring to nonexistent “charges.”

Accompanying this has been a vituperative personal campaign against Assange. Much of it has emanated from the Guardian, which, like a spurned lover,has turned on its besieged former source, having hugely profited from WikiLeaks disclosures. With not a penny going to Assange or WikiLeaks, a Guardian book has led to a lucrative Hollywood movie deal.The authors, David Leigh and Luke Harding, gratuitously abuse Assange as a “damaged personality” and “callous.” They also reveal the secret password he had given the paper in confidence, which was designed to protect a digital file containing the U.S. embassy cables. On Aug. 20, Harding was outside the Ecuadorean embassy, gloating on his blog that “Scotland Yard may get the last laugh.” It is ironic, if entirely appropriate, that a Guardian editorial putting the paper’s latest boot into Assange bears an uncanny likeness to the Murdoch press’s predictable augmented bigotry on the same subject. How the glory of Leveson, Hackgate, and honorable, independent journalism doth fade.

His tormentors make the point of Assange’s persecution. Charged with no crime, he is not a fugitive from justice. Swedish case documents, including the text messages of the women involved, demonstrate to any fair-minded person the absurdity of the sex allegations — allegations almost entirely promptly dismissed by the senior prosecutor in Stockholm, Eva Finne, before the intervention of a politician, Claes Borgstr?At the pre-trial of Bradley Manning, a U.S. army investigator confirmed that the FBI was secretly targeting the “founders, owners, or managers of WikiLeaks” for espionage.

Four years ago, a barely noticed Pentagon document, leaked by WikiLeaks, described how WikiLeaks and Assange would be destroyed with a smear campaign leading to “criminal prosecution.” On Aug. 18, the Sydney Morning Herald disclosed, in a Freedom of Information release of official files, that the Australian government had repeatedly received confirmation that the U.S. was conducting an “unprecedented” pursuit of Assange and had raised no objections. Among Ecuador’s reasons for granting asylum is Assange’s abandonment “by the state of which he is a citizen.” In 2010, an investigation by the Australian Federal Police found that Assange and WikiLeaks had committed no crime. His persecution is an assault on us all and on freedom.

John Pilger speaks at Socialism 2009 "The Invisible Government"

Or you may wish to try John Pilger "The Invisible Government" Part 1/4 a different and more comprehensive speech on the same subject. And as you might expect by now from Pilger, no prisoners taken. Good stuff and recommended more than the above.

Part two.

Part three.


Afghanistan One Of The Worst Places On Earth To Be a Woman

Seventeen party-goers "found beheaded" in southern Afghan village

By Ahmad Nadeem
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan Aug 27, 2012

The Taliban beheaded seventeen party-goers, including two women dancers, in Afghanistan's volatile Helmand province as punishment, recalling the darkest days of rule by the ultra-conservative Islamist insurgents before their ouster in 2001.

The bodies were found on Monday in a house near the Musa Qala district where a party was held on Sunday night with music and mixed-sex dancing, said district governor Nimatullah. Men and women do not usually mingle in Afghanistan unless they are related, and parties involving both genders are rare and kept secret.

The killings, about 75 km (46 miles) north of the provincial capital Lashkar Gah, came at the beginning of a violent 24 hours for NATO and Afghan authorities in which 10 Afghan soldiers were killed in a mass insurgent attack, also in Helmand, while two U.S. soldiers were slain by a rogue Afghan soldier.

"The victims threw a late-night dance and music party when the Taliban attacked" on Sunday night, Nimatullah, who only has one name, told Reuters.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility.

During their five-year reign, which was toppled by U.S.-backed Afghan forces, sparking the present NATO-led war, the Taliban banned women from voting, most work and leaving their homes unaccompanied by their husband or a male relative.

Though those rights have been painstakingly regained, Afghanistan remains one of the worst places on Earth to be a woman.

Some democratic freedoms have also been wound back in what rights groups fear is an effort to reach a political reconciliation and possible power-sharing with the Taliban.

The Taliban gunmen stormed a lakeside hotel near Kabul in June demanding to know where the "prostitutes and pimps" were, witnesses said. Twenty people were killed.

The Taliban said they launched the attack on Qarga Lake because the hotel was used for "wild parties".

Helmand governor spokesman Daud Ahmadi said a team had been sent to the site of beheadings to investigate.

In another setback for NATO, an Afghan soldier shot dead two U.S. troops in east Afghanistan on Monday, the latest in a series of insider killings that have strained trust between the allies ahead of a 2014 handover to Afghan security forces.

The deaths in Laghman province brought to 12 the number of foreign soldiers killed this month, prompting NATO to increase security against insider attacks, including requiring soldiers to carry loaded weapons at all times on base.

U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Martin Dempsey visited Kabul last week to talk about rogue shootings and urge Afghan officials to take tougher preventative action.

"ISAF troops returned fire, killing the ANA (Afghan National Army) soldier who committed the attack," the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said in a statement.

There have been 33 insider attacks so far this year that have led to 42 coalition deaths. That is a sharp increase from 2011, when, during the whole year, 35 coalition troops were killed in such attacks, 24 of whom were American.

The chief coalition spokesman, German Brigadier-General Gunter Katz, told reporters the shootings would not prompt a winding back of vital cooperation or training with Afghan police and soldiers to curtail more shootings.

"We are not going to reduce the close relationship with our Afghan partners," Katz said.

Afghanistan's government said on Wednesday it would re-examine the files of 350,000 soldiers and police to help curb rogue shootings of NATO personnel, but accused "foreign spies" of instigating the attacks.

NATO commanders have played down the threat of infiltration, blaming most of the shootings on stress or personal differences between Afghans and their Western advisers that ended at the point of a gun, a frequent occurrence in Afghanistan.

But Katz said commanders now believed 10 percent of attacks had a direct Taliban infiltration link, while another 15 percent were suspected of having insurgent involvement. Reuters

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sex, Lies and Julian Assange Updated

If anyone has doubts or misconceptions about the politicking surrounding Julian Assange, this is the post for you.

Updated with new Video Documentary and below with partial transcript.

Sex, Lies and Julian Assange

By Andrew Fowler and Wayne Harley

Video Documentary Four Corners - ABC Australia

Four Corners reporter Andrew Fowler examines in detail what happened in those crucial weeks while Julian Assange was in Sweden. What was the nature of his relationship with the two women who claim he assaulted them? And what did they tell police that led the authorities to seek his arrest? ICH
Updated full episode of ABC Four Corners "Sex, Lies and Julian Assange".

ANDREW FOWLER: At the heart of the matter is whether the Swedish judicial authorities will treat him fairly. Certainly, events so far provide a disturbing picture of Swedish justice. Using facts agreed between the defence and prosecution and other verified information, we have pieced together what happened during those crucial three weeks in August.

On August 11th, 2010, Assange arrived in Sweden to attend a conference organised by the Swedish Brotherhood – a branch of the Social Democratic Party. He was offered Anna Ardin’s apartment while she was away, but Ardin returned home a day early on Friday the 13th. She invited Assange to stay the night, and they had sex. She would later tell police Assange had violently pinned her down and ignored her requests to use a condom. Assange denies this.

The following day, Assange addressed the conference with Ardin at his side. Later that afternoon Ardin organised the Swedish equivalent of a top-notch barbeque – a Crayfish Party. She posted a Twitter message. “Julian wants to go to a crayfish party. Anyone have a couple of available seats tonight or tomorrow?”

The crayfish party was held that night in a court yard off her apartment. It went on until the early hours of the morning. Ardin tweeted at 2am: “Sitting outdoors at 02:00 and hardly freezing with the world’s coolest, smartest people! It’s amazing!”

A guest at the party would later tell Swedish Police the event was a very hearty evening. When he offered to put Assange up at his apartment, Ardin replied, “He can stay with me.”

In the past 24 hours, Ardin had worked closely with Assange, had sex with him, organised a crayfish party on his behalf – and, according to one witness, turned down alternate accommodation for him. It is during this same period that police will later investigate whether Assange coerced and sexually molested Anna Ardin.

PER E. SAMUELSON: Well, if you send text messages like that, “I’ve just spent some time with the coolest people in the world”, the night after you then say you were raped – I mean you shouldn’t write such text messages if you had been raped by that person the night before.

ANDREW FOWLER: Your client described Julian Assange as a “cool man”. I think, one of the “coolest men in the world” that she’d had in her bed.

CLAES BORGSTROM: I will argue in court....... Read the full thing with opinion at

Louisiana Louisiana I Despair

And I bet I'm not the only one.

I ran this story a couple of months ago, albeit in a slightly different format, but what harm running it again?

But what I didn't realise until I did a 'Louisiana' search in the search function, was just how much I had featured Louisiana in the past. I shall leave links at the bottom of the page. (Update: now tagged)

14 Wacky "Facts" Kids Will Learn in Louisiana's Voucher Schools
By Deanna Pan
Aug. 7, 2012

Thanks to a new law privatizing public education in Louisiana, Bible-based curriculum can now indoctrinate young, pliant minds with the good news of the Lord—all on the state taxpayers' dime.

Under Gov. Bobby Jindal's voucher program, considered the most sweeping in the country, Louisiana is poised to spend tens of millions of dollars to help poor and middle-class students from the state's notoriously terrible public schools receive a private education. While the governor's plan sounds great in the glittery parlance of the state's PR machine, the program is rife with accountability problems that actually haven't been solved by the new standards the Louisiana Department of Education adopted two weeks ago. Blah blah

1. Dinosaurs and humans probably hung out: "Bible-believing Christians cannot accept any evolutionary interpretation. Dinosaurs and humans were definitely on the earth at the same time and may have even lived side by side within the past few thousand years."Life Science, 3rd ed., Bob Jones University Press, 2007

2. Dragons were totally real: "[Is] it possible that a fire-breathing animal really existed? Today some scientists are saying yes. They have found large chambers in certain dinosaur skulls…The large skull chambers could have contained special chemical-producing glands. When the animal forced the chemicals out of its mouth or nose, these substances may have combined and produced fire and smoke."Life Science, 3rd ed., Bob Jones University Press, 2007
3. "God used the Trail of Tears to bring many Indians to Christ."—America: Land That I Love, Teacher ed., A Beka Book, 1994
4. Africa needs religion: "Africa is a continent with many needs. It is still in need of the gospel…Only about ten percent of Africans can read and write. In some areas the mission schools have been shut down by Communists who have taken over the government."—Old World History and Geography in Christian Perspective, 3rd ed., A Beka Book, 2004 Read on

And as always, with posts of this nature, you may wish to strap in prior to proceeding.

Louisiana Vying For Title America's Most Stupid State?

More Louisiana Lunacy: A Special Report From Loch Ness

Louisiana's Fucked Up (The Arse) Laws

Justice Thomas He's a Louisiana Man

I Don't Know What Justice Looks Like But I'm Sure It Doesn't Look Like This: Waterproof Louisiana

God Bless The Louisiana Department of Corrections

Louisiana Tops Again: Shut Your Mouth Or I'll Smash Your Face In

Modern-Day Court Lynching; Jena Louisiana

Diaper Dave And The Louisiana Loonies

The Fourth Amendment in Fascist America

And if you think my use of the term fascist is a bit strong; read on.

How a mere "procedural" decision blatantly shortchanges justice
Herman Schwartz
August 20, 2012

This past April, the five conservative Supreme Court Justices gave jail officials the right to strip and search every person arrested and jailed, even if the alleged offense is trivial and there is no reason to suspect danger of any kind. The ruling, in Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of County of Burlington, compounds the assault on human dignity committed by the Court in another 5-4 decision eleven years ago, in Atwater v. City of Lago Vista, when it authorized a full custodial arrest for even trivial “fine-only” offenses like a temporarily unbuckled seat belt. Our right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures has once again been undermined by a narrow conservative majority concerned more with protecting public officials than with the rights of ordinary Americans.

Florence grew out of a mistake. On March 3, 2005, Albert Florence, an African-American businessman, his pregnant wife and their 4-year-old son, were in the family BMW, when a New Jersey state trooper pulled them over. Florence’s wife was driving; no reason for the stop appears in the record and no citation was ever issued. The trooper ordered Florence, the owner, out of the car. A computer check disclosed that an arrest warrant for civil contempt had once been issued against him for nonpayment of a fine but failed to note that the fine had been paid and the warrant withdrawn.

Florence had been stopped several times before, which he attributed to his being an African-American driving an expensive car. He therefore carried a certificate attesting to the cancellation of the warrant, which he showed to the trooper. Nevertheless, he was handcuffed, arrested and taken to the Burlington County jail. The jail authorities conceded that they had no suspicion of any wrongdoing by Florence apart from the fine. Yet he was still forced to strip, shower with a delousing agent, open his mouth for inspection, hold out his arms and lift his genitals, and turn around so the officer could examine his buttocks.

After six days without appearing before a magistrate as required by law, Florence was transferred to the Essex County jail. There he was again strip-searched, again without any indication that he had done anything wrong, only this time he was required to squat and cough, and to undergo close examination of his ears, nose, mouth, scalp, armpits, inner thighs and other parts of his body. The next day Florence was brought before a judge who, “appalled” at his treatment, ordered his immediate release. Florence sued the two counties and was joined in a class-action by others subjected to the same treatment.

What happened to him could happen to anyone. Had the mother of three at the center of Atwater—who was handcuffed and jailed after she and her children were found to have unbuckled their seatbelts temporarily—been arrested today, she could have also been subjected to a strip search. This is because state penal and traffic codes are stuffed with a vast array of such minor and often trivial offenses for which an arrest can be made wholly at the discretion of police. Among those who joined the class-action lawsuit filed by Florence were people who had been charged with having a noisy muffler, an inoperable headlight, a bald tire, high beams on and a faulty windshield wiper. Others were charged with ignoring a stop sign, improperly backing up, crossing a double line, and parking in a no-parking zone, and two were charged with improperly riding a bicycle and riding without an audible bell. All were stripped and searched.

In DC, the lawsuit notes, a 12-year-old girl was arrested for eating a French fry in Metro station and a driver was arrested for “false pretenses” after backing out of a parking garage. In Kentucky, a woman was charged for failing to appear in traffic court when the judge provided her with the wrong appearance date.

People of color, like Florence, are especially vulnerable to such police tactics, for in many cases, the arrests and subsequent searches are really for the “offenses” of Driving While Black, being in the wrong neighborhood, or talking back to the police. Political protesters like the civil rights workers who marched in the South and the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators, especially protesters and demonstrators in hostile settings, are also vulnerable to the abuses made possible by the Florence and Atwater decisions.

The Supreme Court justified both the Atwater and Florence decisions with the argument that police and jail officials need a “bright-line” rule so as not to be subject to personal liability for making an unnecessary arrest or search and not to be discouraged from taking such action when they should. But a bright-line rule for both such situations is readily available: Police should not be authorized to arrest or search someone for a minor fine-only violation except in extraordinary circumstances. The police are in no danger of personal liability if they make a good-faith mistake, because they are entitled to immunity for such mistakes.

No one can dispute a federal appellate court’s characterization of a strip search as “demeaning, dehumanizing, undignified, humiliating, terrifying, unpleasant, embarrassing, [and] repulsive, signifying degradation and submission.” Even the Supreme Court has said that a search that intrusive “demand[s] its own specific suspicions.” The shock and humiliation suffered by persons subjected to such arrests and searches is aggravated by the fact that they are almost always ordinary citizens who have never been in jail before. In one case a Chicago woman doctor who had been strip-searched afterward suffered paranoia, suicidal feelings and depression and would not undress anywhere but in a closet

The conservative majority in Florence stressed that jails are dangerous places, and therefore the actions of jail officials are entitled to judicial deference. Jails are dangerous—and drug smuggling is indeed a problem. But people like Florence don’t pose a threat, which is why the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the US Marshals Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs all forbid strip searches of minor offenders except upon reasonable suspicion. Similarly, standards defined by the American Correctional Association—the accrediting body for adult correctional facilities—require a reasonable belief or suspicion of contraband for a strip search.

The Fourth Amendment was designed to stand between us and arbitrary governmental authority. For all practical purposes, that shield has been shattered, leaving our liberty and personal integrity subject to the whim of every cop on the beat, trooper on the highway and jail official. The framers would be appalled. The Nation

Monday, August 20, 2012

Shocking Plight of Women in North Korea's Concentration Camp Gulag

I'm not totally unaware as to what goes on in North Korea, writing these few words back in 2007, but nothing prepared me for this report from Women Under Siege.

2007: These camps are massive, holding hundreds of thousands in each and where for such a simple thing as complaining about the food ration (in civilian life) whole extended families are rounded up and incarcerated for life.
Given this fear combined with the harsh realities of life, millions malnourished and dying of starvation (three million died in the last recent famine) and juxtapose this with the Dear Leader's god-like status and a whole nation that can only be described as the greatest cult the world has ever seen, or likely to see, I just find the whole thing so mind blowingly bizarre.
The narrator asked the question, 'how much is fear and how much is conditioning?' irrespective of either there appear to be masses that are genuinely on the full kool aid diet. This man is as near to being a god as it gets.

I grant there will be many very quiet dissidents but the reality of North Korea makes Orwell's 1984 read like a fairy story. more

The fine line between ‘obedience’ and rape in North Korea

By Michele Lent Hirsch
May 17, 2012

When Shin Dong-hyuk was 10 years old, he watched his mother be raped by her boss.

In an attempt to fetch her for dinner, Shin approached the office where he had been told she would be. The door was locked. Through a window he saw her kneeling as she washed the floor, then saw her boss approach and grope her. Shin’s mother and the man took off their clothes, and the boy watched the rest unfold.

But this was no ordinary case of sexualized violence in the workplace. Shin was born into a North Korean concentration camp, where he lived by the whims of guards and could be killed in an instant for any small behavior deemed wrong. His mother worked in a rice field within the camp, and her boss, one of the prison guards, did whatever he wished to as many women as he wanted. Shin’s mother “complied”—though by international standards, the term “rape” would apply—because she knew the alternative was death.

The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea estimates that up to 200,000 North Koreans are imprisoned in concentration camps—camps that are meant to stamp out every trace of individuality and destroy three generations of “impure” citizens. Citizens are first captured by veritable “thought police” and hauled off for any number of alleged crimes. Captives are “re-educated,” tortured, starved, beaten, and murdered.

Though there is no way of knowing how many prisoners are raped each year (just as there is no way of knowing how many prisoners are hung above a fire and burned, as Shin reportedly was), escapees report that guards attack women and girls frequently.

These attacks take place in a very casual, routine manner, says Blaine Harden, author of Escape From Camp 14, the recent bestseller that chronicled Shin’s life. Once girls reach their mid-teens, Harden told me, patrolmen begin to rape them. As in the Holocaust and in refugee camps around the world, North Korean inmates are often coerced into sexualized violence in exchange for food rations and other meager aid. During their days or weeks as a guard’s target of rape, Harden says, their abuse brings trauma, but also vital nutrients.

As if enduring repeated sexualized violence were not enough, Harden continues, teen girls and women are “disappeared” or murdered the minute they are discovered pregnant.

“It’s an awful game that they are forced to play,” says Harden. No matter how “obedient” a girl has been, no matter how many days or weeks she quietly suffers sexualized abuse in an attempt to survive and please the guards—it is the rape survivor who is punished.

“The theory behind the camps was to cleanse unto three generations the families of incorrect thinkers,” a former guard interviewed in Harden’s book recalls. “So it was inconsistent,” he explains drily, “to allow another generation to be born.”

In other words, because a prisoner is deemed to be of “impure” stock, she and her fetus are destroyed. This is consistent with what Women Under Siege has found in conflicts that utilize sexualized violence as a means of ethnic cleansing, from the Holocaust to Darfur—that women’s bodies are controlled to temper the threat their ability to reproduce poses.

All of this happens with a backdrop of physical austerity for prisoners. Harden writes that individuals held in camps may not so much as hold hands without threat of death. “Should sexual physical contact occur without prior approval,” goes one of the rules Shin had to memorize growing up, “the perpetrators will be shot immediately.” Even “conversing between the sexes without prior approval” is forbidden. As such, only those prisoners “rewarded” with arranged marriages can sleep together a few times a year. Children produced through these marriages are approved. All other births are not.

In a perverse twist, says Harden, a woman’s poor health can become an advantage. If she is malnourished enough to be rendered infertile, and can endure rape without pregnancy, her life is usually spared.

Many raped women, however, do not have such “luck.” Women Under Siege.

For more information on North Korea’s concentration camps, see the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea’s recently updated report.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Watch Julian Assange Ecuador Balcony Speech

From Russia Today

Julian Assange made his first public appearance in two months, ever since he took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Addressing the hundreds of people gathered outside the embassy, Assange thanked them for their support, claiming it was their resolve and presence that stopped British police storming the building.

"On Wednesday night, after a threat was sent to this embassy and police desceneded on this building, you came out in the middle of the night to watch over it, and you brought the worlds eyes with you. Inside this embassy after dark I could hear teams of police swarming up into the building through the internal fire escape," Assange said.

"But I knew thered be witnesses. And that was because of you."

The WikiLieaks founder thanked President Correa "for the courage he has shown" in granting him asylum, and to all the nations and individuals who have shown him support.

Assange also addressed the US government and President Obama, calling for the persecution of WikiLeaks supporters to end.

"The United States must pledge before the world will not pursue journalists for shining light on the secret crimes of the powerful. The US administration’s war against whistleblowers must end."

The WikiLeaks founder was granted political asylum on Thursday – a decision that ignited a wave of international responses, with the UK and Sweden opposing the verdict and Latin American countries strongly supporting Ecuador’s move. RT

Fred Reed: The Surveillance Society

The other style , not the other side of Fred Reed, for no matter the style, serious or humorous, the message is pretty much the same. We're all fucked.

That's not to say he doesn't slide a bit in here and there:

We have now had two consecutive presidents with less than normal respect for the constitution, one a brown Plantagenet but with little grounding in European civilization, the other a privileged rich brat of limited intellect and schooling.

The Eye of Sauron

Something New Under the Sun
August 18, 2012

The pieces come together. Within the last week I have read:

1) New software, associated with Google, will recognize customers in stores so as to offer them discounts; having your photos uploaded to allow this service will (for now) be voluntary.

2) A new surveillance system in New York will store footage from cameras in, for example, the subway, so that when an unattended package is discovered, the police can look back in time to see who left it.

3) TSA is perfecting a laser that will allow detection on travelers of trace amounts of drugs, explosives, and doubtless a wide variety of other things.

4) The government is moving toward mandating black boxes on cars to record information thought to be useful in ascribing blame in crashes.

5) Various police departments are beginning to use “drone” aircraft to monitor the population.

These are recent pieces of the coming world. They have not yet all been completely deployed and linked. Some are voluntary, for the moment. Others are in development. All are coming.

Add the now-routine tracking of passports, cameras that read every passing license plate and record the time, NSA’s automated monitoring of email, Google’s and therefore the government’s knowledge of your searches, GPS tracking of cell phones, detailed records of bank transactions, and so on. Not all of these are instantly accessible by the police. They can easily be made accessible, and they move in that direction.

In short, the technology exists for a detailed, unblinking, unforgetting watchfulness of the entire population beyond anything imagined, or perhaps imaginable, a few decades ago. This is not Fred-drank-too-much-coffee. It is happening.

The capacity of hard drives is now essentially without limit, the power of computers to sort and search infinite, and the speed of the internet no longer a bound. Almost microscopic cameras, wireless concealable microphones, face recognition, voice recognition, recording GPS: You can buy all of this in consumer stores. The government has far better.

People speak of the onrush of the police state. I think that many do not understand how fast it comes, or how thorough it will be.

The political framework falls rapidly into place. Few or no safeguards exist, and probably few are possible. A growing authoritarianism rapidly erodes what protections we had. The courts allow random searches of passengers of trains and subways without probable cause. Warrantless tapping of personal communications is rampant, or done with secret warrants from a secret federal judge. TSA has Viper squads that stop cars at random for searches. In many places it is against the law to video the police, who everywhere become more militarized and less accountable. For practical purposes, citizens have no recourse.

At a higher level of generality, America is no longer a democracy. If you think this a rash assertion, ask yourself whether you have the slightest influence over policies that matter to you. Suppose that you want to end the wars, shrink the military, end affirmative action, genuinely change education, or reform a hostile and unworkable bureaucracy. Who do you vote for? Important policies are made in faceless bureaucracies immune to public influence. National politics employs a sort of political price-fixing, in which you are permitted to choose among a number on indistinguishable candidates and told that you are having an election.

None of this is going to stop.

Why is it happening? Some suspect a vast conspiracy to Sovietize the country. I doubt it. Don’t look for a conspiracy when human nature is an adequate explanation. Presidents never want to suffer the restraints on constitutionality, the agonizing slowness of a congress that often has little understanding of the issues; if presidents can do things by fiat, or secretly, they will.

We have now had two consecutive presidents with less than normal respect for the constitution, one a brown Plantagenet but with little grounding in European civilization, the other a privileged rich brat of limited intellect and schooling. Such as they will take any shortcut they can get away with, and there is no longer anyone to tell them no.

Men grab power when they can. Once grabbed, it stays grabbed. A police operation like DHS will always try to grow. People in power always think they know best. When a federal department has money, industry rushes to sell it things. In the case of TSA, this means new and more advanced scanners, then upgrades, and maintenance contracts, training contracts, and then a new kind of scanner, and the process repeats.

The people doing all of this are not thinking of installing totalitarianism. They are thinking dollars, promotions, power, ego, and perks.

The FBI? NSA? Federal officials in general? They know best. They are, they think, just fighting crime, terrorism, maintaining national security, what have you, and the more power they have, they better they can do this. Further, intimidating people is pleasurable. If citizens have nothing to hide, say all these cops, they have nothing to fear. If you torture terrorists, or those you think may be terrorists, well, the real world is like that. Do you want more terrorism?

A conspiracy would be preferable. You can crush a conspiracy. Human nature, which inherently drifts toward corruption, is a far tougher nut.

What difference will it make to live in a country in which the government knows everything whatever about everybody, and few safeguards against abuse exist? For most people, at first, probably not much. At first. But for people the government doesn’t like, a lot. Reporters, writers, whistle-blowers, activists, dissidents.

And we are all vulnerable. Knowledge, as someone said, is power. Few of us have spotless lives, or want them. Did you once check into a cheap motel with someone else’s spouse or a lady of the night? What do the porn sites you visit say about you? If you are, say, a politician, do you want these things to come out? Have you written compromising emails about shady deductions on your taxes, or about your boss (“a weasely dickhead and probably a latent girly-boy”)? You have bar bills or liquor purchases of $300 a week? What if you show positive on a marijuana scan at the airport, which becomes justification for a full search of your house, or dismissal from work?

Things have already reached the point at which writers of my acquaintance, who do not have the power of the Washington Post behind them, have stopped criticizing the government. Whether they are in fact in any danger of persecution—I don’t think they much are yet—almost doesn’t matter. The mere knowledge that your email can be read is intimidating, like being closely followed by a police car even when you are doing nothing wrong. We are daily being followed by more police cars, both literal and figurative. Fred Reed

Fred Reed: Love of Country

It's not for nothing that Fred Reed has his own tag on this here blog, not when he keeps coming up with little gems like this it ain't.

Y'all enjoy now.

Love of Country

Seldom Requited
July 23, 2012

I’m trying to understand love of country. It’s hard hoeing. Maybe some things just ain’t understandable. Or maybe it’s ‘cause I’m from West Virginia and don’t have shoes, ‘cause they ain’t any that fits people with twelve toes. How are you supposed to love a country where you can't get shoes?

I’m not even sure there’s any such thing as a country. Mostly my country seems to be a bunch of brigands in Washington who send you tax forms to get money so they can kill people in some place that never did anything to you and you probably don’t know where is. When did I ask them to do that?

It looks to me like a country is just a temporary mood ginned up to get everybody hooting and hollering behind the grenade industry with other people’s money. People just naturally like to get together in packs and kill each other, or beat each other full of concussions like in football, or have gangs and zip guns and ball bats and smack hell out of each other. A country’s just a teenage gang with older teenagers and better zip guns, I reckon. All you got to do is get them riled up about something that probably don’t exist. You send the dumb ones to get killed and the smart ones cash the checks at home. That’s what a country is.

Think about it. Isn’t it true? When the gummint wants to go kill folks we mostly never heard of, in Halfghanistan or Eye Rack this week anyway, it acts like the country is one solid thing, a big happy family, and has to think the same things. If the gummint hates Halfghans, or wants their oil or something, we all got to hate them because we ought to love our country. It makes as much sense as lug nuts on a birthday cake.

I can’t see how there’s anything special about a country. It’s just a big herd full of little herds that hate each other and want to swindle each other and pick everybody’s pockets and burgle their houses if they can’t actually steal them. I mean, the blacks hate the whites and beat them lopsided so they can take pictures, and half the whites hate blacks but don’t dare say so, and want to run Mieesicans out of the country, and the Messicans hate the blacks and the whites that want to run them back to Messico, and everybody hates Moslems, whatever one of those is. Maybe that’s a country. It looks more like a bar fight waiting to happen.

What’s funny is how people talk about how they love their country, but don’t act like it. I mean, there ain’t nothing more patriotic than a businessman who thinks he can make money at it. The newspaper in Charlestown says the gummint spends a trillion dollars on wars every year, either fighting them or getting ready or looking for new ones. I don’t know how much a trillion is. I do know it never sees the inside of a soldier’s pockets.

No. All they get is stumps and blinded and dead. The businessmen don’t want them to win, because then the gummint wouldn’t buy as many helicopters to get shot down and then buy more. But businessmen don’t want the troops to lose either, for exactly the same reason. Nobody in his right mind stops a going concern.

We got two kinds of businessman, and they both love their country the way a bank robber loves a bank. One kind wants to bring the whole country of Messico to America so they can pay them twelve cents an hour under the table and get rich. The other wants to send all America’s factories to China where they can pay twelve cents an hour and get rich. Both kinds drip patriotism like oil from a 1964 Harley. If anyone loved me like businessmen love their country, I’d go into hiding.

Then we’ve got the military that loves its country something crazy. In West Virginia I noticed that ticks love cows. (Why did I think of that, I wonder?) In Washington you’ve got whole packs of colonels strutting around like barnyard roosters, but with less brains, and saying that hippies and reporters need to support the Pentagon’s troops in killing Halfghans. It’s so they can show how much they love their country.

See, colonels think they are the country, and nobody but them gets to decide what the country wants. But what if I think I’m the country as much as some useless tax-sucking colonel with colored gewgaws stuck on his coat jacket like a stamp collection? And what if I don’t want to bomb anybody that I don’t know, just to make money for bomb factories?

I didn’t know that Lockheed-Martin was a country. I do now.

I got my doubts about some other patriots too. Suppose you went up north to Wall Street and asked those Yankee tape worms if they loved their country. Reckon they’d say yes? Of course they would. Why, they love their country like a hog loves cornbread. Of course, the hog don’t care whose cornbread.

Thing is, the tapeworms, along with the other part of the gummint that stays in Washington, just busted the economy and left half of us with no house. If that ain’t patriotism, I don’t know what might be. And they didn’t even say they was sorry, probably because they were too busy hiding the money in off-shore accounts. Somehow, patriotism usually seems to have dollar signs attached.

A famous fraud said, “Ask not what your country can do for you,” but that’s just what everybody does ask. Best I can tell, lots of folk love the United States till their gums bleed, but don’t want to do anything for it except run it broke. Congress takes bribes the way a Las Vegas slot machine eats quarters. Big Pharma swindles the public like a riverboat gambler with three decks of aces in his pockets. The Pentagon ain’t nothing but Section Eight housing with five walls, so’s you can tell whoever built it wasn’t paying attention.

I guess with lots of practice I might learn to love hookworm, or leprosy, or even rap music like they have on the radio out of Wheeling—though that may be stretching it. But I can’t go lower. I got my limits. Fred On Everything

Saturday, August 18, 2012

I Love The Sound of UK Jackboots Stamping on Political Ideology

Anarchists Detained by Counter-Terrorist Police on Return from Swiss Conference [plus French, Spanish translations]

16 August 2012

For the past week, thousands of anarchists from across Europe have been converging in St.Imier, Switzerland to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the founding of the Anarchist international. The gathering took the form of a festival and educational, with music, films and entertainment as well as workshops and discussions.

On returning from the St Imier gathering, two anarchists, one a member of the UK Anarchist Federation, were detained for nearly two hours at Heathrow by SO15 (counter-terrorist) police. During the detention, the anarchists were told that their normal rights did not apply, and had their names, addresses, email addresses, DNA and fingerprints taken. The detained anarchists were also forced to sign forms – which may or may not be legal – waiving their rights to silence and a solicitor. Police also conducted a thorough search of personal possessions, photocopied literature and passports and took information from phones and cameras.

During the detention, the police constantly accused the anarchists of lying about involvement in criminal activity and alleged that they would be conducting follow-up police action against one of the detained anarchists. In addition to this, SO15 officers asked a number of inflammatory, irrelevant and offensive questions, including ‘what would you do if someone raped your mother?’ evidently in an attempt to cause emotional upset and illicit angry or violent responses. One member (28) who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals from the police, said "We were treated like criminals. I told them I went to the congress as I am an amateur journalist and I write articles about activism. They saw my note book, camera and Dictaphone but they said I was lying. One officer said 'You said you are an anarchist, I've seen anarchists on the news, they are violent, throw molotov cocktails and disrupt people’s lives not write articles'".

The counter terrorist officers either didn't know or chose to ignore that, during the first day of the gathering, the International of Anarchist Federations (Of which the UK Anarchist Federation is a member) had issued a statement rejecting all terrorist tactics as a means of achieving an anarchist society.

In contrast to the actions of the UK security forces, the local press and residents in St. Imier reported very positively on the anarchist gathering.

With this incident, we are seeing a further slide towards political policing and the criminalisation of political ideologies. The two detained anarchists have not had any involvement in any illegal or violent activity, or any activity that would concern the counter-terrorist police. As in the past, when Metropolitan police called on people to give information about local anarchists ( Anarchists should be reported, advises Westminster anti-terror police | UK news | The Guardian ), anarchists suffered harassment for their political viewpoint.

As class-struggle anarchists, we believe that the state does little except serve the interests of the rich and powerful at the expense of ordinary people. This is seen clearly when people who hold views critical of the state are treated as criminals and terrorists. We seek to create a classless society, based on freedom, equality and co-operation. We believe in the capacity of ordinary people to run society themselves, without the interference of bosses or politicians. This incident was not in response to any crime and constitutes repression and criminalisation of a political ideology. and translations

A little extra. The Duckshoot has the story.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Gunman: 'I don't like your policies or your Chick-fil-a sandwiches'

I don't glorify violence, nor do I find it funny, but occasionally something comes along that, contrary to what I feel, does bring a bit of smile. Not least when it involves a hate group such as the Family Research Council and the shoe is on the other foot.

Floyd Lee Corkins charged with assault in shooting at Family Research Council

Gunman allegedly carried Chick-fil-A sandwiches and said 'I don't like your policies' before shooting organisation's guard

Adam Gabbatt
16 August 2012

A man has been charged with assault with intent to kill after a security guard was shot at the Washington DC offices of the Family Research Council.

Floyd Lee Corkins II, from Herndon, Virginia, was due to appear in the US district court in DC on Thursday afternoon. Corkins has also been charged with interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition.

Security guard Leonardo Reno Johnson was shot in the arm in the lobby of the conservative group's headquarters after challenging Corkins, the FBI said. Corkins, who authorities said was carrying 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches, told the guard: "I don't like your politics" before firing.

The FBI affidavit released on Thursday said that Corkins was subdued by the injured Johnson after the shooting. Corkins was carrying a legally owned 9mm Sig Sauer handgun, with a backpack containing 50 additional rounds of ammunition and the 15 sandwiches.

Corkins, 28, lived with his parents and had recently been volunteering at an LGBT center in DC. His parents told FBI agents that he has "strong opinions with respect to those he believes do not treat homosexuals in a fair manner", according to the affidavit.

The Family Research Council opposes gay marriage, and its president, Tom Perkins, attracted some criticism last month after emailing members suggesting they should support Chick-fil-A's stance on gay rights.

The affidavit said Corkins had parked his Dodge Neon at the East Falls Church metro station in Virginia, catching a train with his gun to DC. The assault charge carries up to 30 years in prison and the weapons charge has a 10-year maximum sentence.

Johnson, 46, was shot in the left arm and taken to hospital, where his mother, 72-year-old Virginia Johnson, said he was resting comfortably on Thursday morning. She said she had not been to visit him but had spoken to him by phone.

"He said he feels very well," she told Associated Press. "I am proud of him, very proud of him."

FRC president Tony Perkins said he visited Johnson, who had worked at the Family Research Council for over 11 years, in hospital and told him that he was a hero. "He said: 'This hero business is hard work,'" Perkins said on American Family Radio.

Perkins added that the shooting would not deter his organization from its mission. "We're not going anywhere. We're not backing up, we're not shutting up. We have been called to speak the truth," Perkins said. "We will not be intimidated. We will not be silenced."

More than 20 different LGBT organisations from across the US put out a statement condemning the shooting. "We were saddened to hear news of the shooting this morning at the offices of the Family Research Council. Our hearts go out to the shooting victim, his family and his co-workers," it said.

"The motivation and circumstances behind today's tragedy are still unknown, but regardless of what emerges as the reason for this shooting, we utterly reject and condemn such violence. We wish for a swift and complete recovery for the victim of this terrible incident." Gruniad

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pre-Marital Sex is “stinking, filthy, dirty, rotten sin”

Just as with police brutality stories, I stopped covering abstinence only stories some while ago. (See sidebar) But how could I resist when I came across such Talibangelical inspired dogma as that featured in the header?

And the owner of such an attitude? Not as you might think, a misogynist Baptist (Republican) preacher, but rather a woman charged with designing and implementing abstinence education guidelines. Just what you need!

. . . . 1. Abstinence-Only Education Relies on Spirituality and Moralizing, not Social/Behavioral Theories

The “A-H” points which define federally acceptable abstinence-education, and the curriculums designed around those points, seem to be based not on peer reviewed social/behavioral theoretical models—but on the spiritual and moral world-views of the persons who were given authority to conceive, implement, and fund abstinence-only sex education programs (4). Consider the following example. During his first term, then-President Bush appointed a woman named Pam Stenzel to an influential task force at the Department of Health and Human Services which was charged with designing and implementing abstinence education guidelines. For Stenzel, social/behavioral theories and scientifically rigorous research are the not the foundations on which to build an education program. The reason why society should not condone pre-marital sex? Because, she says, it is “stinking, filthy, dirty, rotten sin” (4). Stenzel continues:

What [they] are asking is does [abstinence-only education] work. You know what? Doesn’t matter. Cause guess what. My job is not to keep teenagers from having sex. The public schools’ job should not be to keep teens from having sex. Our job should be to tell kids the truth! People of God...commit yourself to truth, not what works! I don’t care if it works, because at the end of the day I’m not answering to you, I’m answering to God. . . AIDS is not the enemy. HPV and a hysterectomy at twenty is not the enemy. An unplanned pregnancy is not the enemy. My child believing that they can shake their fist in the face of a holy God and sin without consequence, and my child spending eternity separated from God, is the enemy. I will not teach my child that they can sin safely (4).

Unfortunately, Stenzel and her cohort are not teaching only their own children, but millions of American young people who deserve sex education based on empirical evidence, not moral zealotry. While it may be possible to frame various abstinence-only curriculums as having some connection to industry-accepted social/behavioral theories, the attitude that Stenzel exemplifies is one of obsession with personal beliefs about spirituality and morals. more challengingdogma

This article was linked from a contemporary piece in the Guardian: How Obama's healthcare reform boosted abstinence-only sex education

. . . In Tennessee, for instance, a bill that passed the house and senate in April 2012 specifies that teachers must "exclusively and emphatically" endorse abstinence, or face a $500 fine. The bill stipulates that contraceptives may be discussed only as an inferior means of preventing pregnancy and disease. The bill also allows parents to sue public school teachers and staff for allowing students to engage in what is bizarrely termed "gateway sexual behavior" – such as holding hands or hugging.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Things You Might Take For Granted: The Hard Drive Platter

I could I suppose, have made the header read, Things We Might Take For Granted, but that wouldn't have been, for two reasons in the main, quite true.

The first of those reasons is that I am an engineer, pure and simple. The other reason being that I dismantled an old hard-drive for no other reason to have a look at some of the engineering techniques that went into manufacturing, what by anybody's standards, is a remarkable piece of kit.

What I want to do however, is not concentrate the function of the hard drive, remarkable that it may be, but rather to take a look at the platter itself as a manufactured item.

To describe the platter, or shall we be a bit familiar and call it a disc? To describe then, this three and a half inch, ninety millimetre disc, as a marvel of modern engineering doesn't quite do the thing justice. A more accurate description might be, a miracle of modern engineering; and it's all of that be assured.

To actually manufacture something so big and so thin and end up with something so flat, so parallel, so smooth and so true about its axis, does, without a shadow of doubt, borders on the miraculous.

Let me try to put a little perspective on things. The physical and the physics of slip gauges described below are a good place to start. If you can bear in mind that these gauges or blocks, are extremely stable due to the material from which they are made, hardened steel or tungsten carbide, coupled with there relative small size, approximately ten by thirty millimetres, then it's not such a wonder that they can be manufactured to tolerances that allow them to be used in the manner described.

Slip gauges

Slip gauges are blocks of steel that have been hardened and stabilized by heat treatment. They are ground and lapped to size to very high standards of accuracy and surface finish. They are the most accurate standards of length available for use in workshops. The accuracy and finish is so high that two or more slip gauges may be wrung together. The method of wringing slip gauges together is shown as followings. When correctly cleaned and wrung together, the individual slip gauges adhere to each other by molecular attraction and , if left like this for too long, a partial cold weld will take place. more

But to take those same properties and tolerances and apply them to, what at the end of the day is still basically a ninety millimetre aluminium blank, a couple of millimetres thick, and where when finished, it too will 'wring,' and they do, is as I said earlier, bordering on the miraculous.

And where some might argue that it is the subsequent coatings that are applied to the disk that give it these remarkable properties, which in the case of 'smoothness' would be correct, there is still no getting away from the fact that the blank has to be perfect in every shape, form and plane before any of these processes can take place. And what processes they are! mind-blowing isn't a too fanciful description, but for that it's the text body you need, certainly not me.

But before you move on, let me try and give some perspective to what these tolerances actually mean. Or more accurately, let someone else explain, because one thing I have learned since I started researching this article, I'm not the only fellow who is in awe of the manufacturing process.

. . . . To better understand how data can be destroyed on a hard drive, let's consider what makes a hard drive work in the first place. The ubiquitous hard drive that everyone takes for granted is an absolutely amazing feat of engineering that requires the most demanding manufacturing processes imaginable. For the hard drive to work, the platter surfaces must be absolutely perfect to tolerances measured in Angstroms. An Angstrom is .1 nanometer or put another way, .0000001 millimeter. The surface of the blank, nonmagnetic platters must be flawless in every detail before an equally perfect coating of exotic magnetic material (that holds the data) is added.

Hard drive platters typically spin between 5,000 and 10,000 RPM with some high performance hard drives spinning platters even faster. The spinning platter creates a tiny air current on the surface. The read/write heads are designed to make use of this air current and fly about 2 nanometers above the surface of the platter. For reference, the smallest diameter of a human hair measures approximately 17 micrometers or roughly 8,500 times the gap between the head and the platter. Any platter imperfection will cause the head to crash and destroy the magnetic recording surface. More

With that said, and with that in mind, the article proper.

How the humble hard drive is made

It's like a 747 flying 0.14mm above the ground
By Mike Bedford from PC Plus
January 31st 2010

A hard disk is an amazing feat of electronic and mechanical engineering

The fact that silicon chips start life as nothing more exotic than sand is amazing enough, but have you ever thought about that other important PC component, the hard disk?

Its origins couldn't be more different. The heart of a hard disk – the rotating platter where your data is stored – is made out of an exotic mix of elements including ruthenium and platinum, two of the world's rarest and most expensive metals.

Needless to say, this statement doesn't even hint at the complexity involved in transforming rare ores into gigabytes of data storage. The hard disk's high speeds of rotation and the close proximity of the head to the platter means that the processes must be carried out with the ultimate in precision and cleanliness.

Add to this the strange properties of magnetic media and the techniques required to achieve the optimum capacity, and the story of how disks are made becomes one that encompasses the fields of mining, metallurgy, chemistry, physics and involves the pinnacle of engineering and manufacturing technology.

As a whole, a hard disk is an amazing feat of electronic and mechanical engineering, but two parts – the heads and the platter – stand out for their sheer manufacturing complexity. As the part that actually stores the data, the platter is what many people consider the heart of a hard disk drive – and here we reveal the secrets of its manufacture.

Step 1: Mineral extraction and processing

Platinum is only the 70th most abundant element in the Earth's crust, making up just three parts per billion. Ruthenium comes two places lower with an abundance of only one part per billion. By way of comparison, silicon – the raw material from which microprocessors are made – accounts for around 27 per cent of the Earth's crust.

It's no surprise then that platinum is hugely expensive – today's market price is more than $1,300 per Troy ounce. Turning to ruthenium, the total annual production is just 27 tonnes, an amount that would fit in a 1.3m3 cube. Both are mined predominantly in South Africa.

Platinum is one of the noble metals, which means that it's relatively unreactive. Unlike metals such as copper – the main ores of which are compounds – platinum is normally found in its metallic form. This doesn't mean that extracting it from its ore is simple, though, as platinum is normally found mixed with other metals.

Obtaining pure platinum involves separating it from the iron, copper, gold, nickel, iridium, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium and osmium that it's invariably found with. Let's just say it's a complicated multistage chemical process that can take up to six months to complete. Fortuitously, though, the ruthenium that's also needed in disk manufacture is a by-product of the process.

A deep mine in the Bushveld Complex of South Africa might seem far-removed from a finished hard disk, and in this sense it's an ideal place to start our investigation. But we're not going to need the platinum or the ruthenium until well down the line, so for now we'll put them aside as we move to something more down to earth – and considerably more common.

Step 2: Making aluminium blanks

The manufacture of a hard disk platter starts with the fabrication of aluminium blanks, which are disks of aluminium alloy onto which the magnetic recording layer will eventually be deposited.

High-purity alloy that contains four to five per cent magnesium plus small amounts of silicon, copper, iron and zinc to give it the necessary properties is cast into an ingot weighing seven tonnes. The ingot is then heat-treated, hot-rolled and cold-rolled in multiple passes to provide a sheet of the necessary thickness (usually 0.635mm, 0.8mm, 1.0mm, 1.27mm, 1.5mm or 1.8 mm – just enough to provide adequate stability while rotating at high speed) from which the blanks will be punched.

GETTING STARTED:Hot rolling mills process aluminium ingots into thin slivers of metal from which disks will be punched

Punching takes place once the alloy sheet has been coiled into large rolls so that a single stamping process produces lots of blanks. This is then followed by a stacked annealing process to reflatten the blanks. Finally the blanks are ground to a high level of precision to achieve the necessary surface and edge finish. Bear in mind that this and all subsequent steps are carried out on both sides of the platter so that it ends up with two recording surfaces.

Step 3: NiP plating

The aluminium blanks are now precision-ground using 'stones' that are composed of PVA and which contain silicon carbide as the abrasive agent. However, even with all the care taken to produce a good finish, the surfaces of the aluminium blanks produced in Step 2 are not yet nearly perfect enough. Because there's a limit to the degree of smoothness to which aluminium alloy can be ground, the next step is to apply a hard coating that will take a better finish.

PERFECT FINISH:The soft aluminium is plated with a hard NiP layer so that it can be polished to an incredible degree of smoothness

This hard coating is an amorphous alloy of nickel and phosphorous (NiP). It's applied by an electroless process in which complex supersaturated solutions containing compounds of nickel and phosphorous react on the surface of the disk to leave the required NiP layer. This layer can now be further refined in the next step of the process. Go to page two of three.

A bit of nonsense I found on YouTube.