"Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he."
-- Proverbs 29:18, King James Bible (KJV)

Monday, March 28, 2016

Prior Art Architecture Postmodernism Counterculture Presidential Primaries & the Planned New Google and Apple Headquarters "Campuses" in Silicon Valley

Are Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders inevitable products of an era dominated by a cultural evolution that is labeled post-modernism?

Nikil Saval at the New York Times titles his article on the new headquarters "campuses" being planned by Google and Apple as Google and Apple: the High-Tech Hippies of Silicon Valley. Back to the future?

Make sure to view the slide show at that link for architectural design prior art.

The Google plan reminded this writer of the Eden Project in Cornwall, United Kingdom, with its biomes, its object of sustainability and its emphasis on the importance of transformation. Google is a digital Eden Project in our eyes.

Apple's 4-story building structure reflects circular designs that are historically ubiquitous - see "circular design in architecture" in Google image search. Indeed, we are reminded of the shen ring of the Pharaohs, symbol of eternity.

Both Google and Apple designs most certainly try to "escape" the limits placed on architecture by square-sided building geometry. Indeed, Frank Gehry's twisted buildings can be viewed as an attempt to do just the same. Squares are out. It is no wonder that Jeb Bush had no chance in the primaries.

Saval writes in his New York Times article about the future that:
"Like the rest of Silicon Valley, however, this future is in fact rooted in the past. It comes, transfigured, from the wrecked dreams of communal living, of back-to-the-land utopias, of expanding plastic spheres and geodesic domes that populated the landscape of Northern California around the time (and around the same place) that the first semiconductors were being perfected. This is the world of what a recent exhibit at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis has termed “Hippie Modernism.”"
As those of us know who grew up in the "flower power" age, especially in California in the late 1960's, the heroic status attached to alternative forms of living and lifestyles in the 60's seemed to disappear as quickly as the "flower power" movement came and went. But did the basic foundations of the "alternative culture" expressed at that time really disappear? Perhaps not.

One could argue that the late 1960's were a landmark in cultural evolution, an era marked by the breaking down of viz. questioning of many human customs and taboos that had existed for many generations, but that perhaps were no longer necessary or appropriate to the post-modern age. The weakest and most sensitive elements of society would have "felt" that particular change quite early.

That cultural evolution, referred to modernly now as "hippie modernism" at the Walker Art Center, is a term which we find to be too narrow, and we would suggest the perhaps more accurate term "future counterculture".

Indeed, one could argue that the counterculture evolution has actually been with us in a process of varied transformation the last nearly 50 years, visible, for example, in alter egos such as digital technology or in post-modernity in art and architecture, or in innumerable other aspects of human society, whether we talk about race, diversity, gender equality, abortion or even LGBT.

One need not agree with such developments -- to acknowledge they exist.

Indeed, even the emergence of disruptive political candidates such as Donald Trump in the Republican Party and Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Party in the currently ongoing Presidential primary elections may -- perhaps to everyone's astonishment -- well be inevitable expressions of that same "counterculture", as serious challenges to the existing but disappearing mainstream infrastructure, a modernistic edifice succumbing to post-modernity.

We read at the Wikipedia under Postmodernism [paragraphs added]:
"Postmodernism is a late-20th-century movement in the arts, architecture, and criticism that was a departure from modernism.

Postmodernism articulates that the world is in a state of perpetual incompleteness and permanent unresolve.

Postmodernism promotes the notion of pluralism; that there are many ways of knowing, and many truths to a fact.

From a postmodern perspective knowledge is articulated from local perspectives, with all its uncertainties, complexity and paradox.

Thus knowledge is relational and all realities are woven on local linguistic looms.

Postmodernism includes skeptical interpretations of culture, literature, art, philosophy, history, economics, architecture, fiction, and literary criticism.

It is often associated with deconstruction and post-structuralism because its usage as a term gained significant popularity at the same time as twentieth-century post-structural thought.

The term postmodernism has been applied to a host of movements, mainly in art, music, and literature, that reacted against tendencies in modernism, and are typically marked by revival of historical elements and techniques.
"
When one views the current world as a post-modern development in process, it becomes more understandable and we better comprehend the architectural style of the buildings being planned by Google and Apple.


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Best Universities in the World, Europe & USA in 2016

We were alerted to this topic via an article by Ellie Bothwell regarding the Best universities in Europe 2016 based on the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings.

Times Higher Education is published in the United Kingdom and thus has its own particular, we presume British, view of what is important in education and what is not, and how it is to be measured. Opinions will differ worldwide.

Whether one takes such rankings seriously or not, the fact is that any such rankings become a part of the image of any university. That same image has a lot to do with student study choices as well as the financing of university research by government and private sources.

As Imre Lakatos so cogently posited, a primary unit of appraisal in science is the "research programme", a basic philosophical observation that could also be expressed more banaly as, "whoever gets the money, calls the shots".

As Bothwell writes:
"Overall 22 countries are represented in the top 200 [of Europe] list, which draws upon data from the 800 universities from 70 countries in the overall THE World University Rankings."
We obtained our law degree from Stanford University and are glad to see Stanford ranked 3rd in the Times Higher Education world rankings behind Cal Tech in the USA, the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and just ahead of the University of Cambridge in the UK. Much in the realm of university rankings depends on the selection and weighting of criteria.

If one were to define the best education and hence the best university as one which educates "the whole man" or "the whole woman", then Stanford would modernly always emerge on top of any ranking because it is not only at the top academically together with a mere handfull of other institutions but because it is heads and shoulders above the rest of the competition in being the best student athletic program in the United States (and surely the world), having won the USA Directors' Cup for the last 21 years -- based on actual university sports competitions -- as the best in the nation. See NACDA Directors' Cup at Wikipedia where it is written:
"The NACDA Learfield Sports Directors' Cup is an award given annually by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics to the colleges and universities in the United States with the most success in collegiate athletics.... Stanford University has won the Division I award for twenty-one straight years."
There is to our knowledge no comparable record in sports -- and this record is being achieved at a University that not only ranks at the top academically but whose direct environs of Silicon Valley rule the modern world of high tech.

Which university ranking method includes these amazing things? None.

What is even more amazing is that Stanford has only 7000 undergraduate students, as compared to undergraduate student enrollments of e.g. ca. 55000 at Central Florida (UCF), ca. 45000 at Ohio State and Texas A&M, ca. 40000 at Texas (Austin), Arizona State, Penn State, Michigan State and Florida International (FIU), ca. 35000 at Florida, Florida State, Minnesota, Illinois, Rutgers, Houston and Indiana, ca. 30000 at UCLA, Alabama, Washington, Texas Tech, Iowa State, North Texas, Missouri, Temple, San Diego State, Purdue, South Florida (USF) and Arizona, ca. 25000 at LSU, South Carolina, Texas State, Colorado, Utah State, Maryland, San Jose State, North Carolina State, Georgia, Utah, UTSA, Virginia Tech, UNLV, Washington State, Colorado State, Georgia State, Kent State, Cincinnati, Ohio, Florida Atlantic (FAU), NYU, BYU, California (Berkeley) and Oregon State, ca. 20000 at North Carolina (Chapel Hill), Oklahoma, Massachusetts, Charlotte, Arkansas, East Carolina, Fresno State, Iowa, Akron, Western Michigan, Oregon, Buffalo, Kansas, New Mexico, Old Dominion, Central Michigan, Boise State, Pittsburgh, Middle Tennessee, Eastern Michigan, UTEP, Oklahoma State, Auburn, Kentucky, Kansas State, West Virginia, Georgia Southern, Connecticut, Tennessee, Clemson, Western Kentucky and Nebraska, ca. 15000 at Syracuse, Nevada, Louisville, Louisiana Lafayette, Baylor, Memphis, Hawaii, Toledo, Bowling Green, Miami (Ohio), Ball State, Northern Illinois, Troy, Appalachian State and New Mexico State, ca. 10000 at Notre Dame, Miami (Florida), Marshall, UAB, South Alabama, Northwestern, TCU, Idaho, Louisiana Tech, Wyoming, Arkansas State, Southern Miss and Boston College, ca. 7000 at Duke, Tulane, Vanderbilt, Louisiana-Monroe, and SMU, ca. 5000 at Wake Forest, Tulsa, Rice, Air Force, Navy and Army, etc. (all numbers approximate and rounded, please look the exact stats up at https://www.collegeraptor.com/)

It is not without reason that Admissions at Stanford University writes about Athletics and Recreation at Stanford: 

"Unparalleled in its success and considered the dominant athletic program nationally, Stanford promotes excellence in both academics and athletics. Consider the following:
  • Stanford has captured 21 consecutive Directors' Cup titles (1995–2015), an award that honors the nation's top overall Division I athletic program.
  • 300 athletic scholarships are awarded each year.
  • There were 42 Stanford-affiliated athletes competing in the London Olympics, winning 16 medals, 12 of which were gold.
  • The Stanford campus is home to 127 national championships—more than any other college in the U.S.
  • At least one Stanford team has won a national championship during each of the last 39 years. This is the longest continuing streak in the nation....
Palo Alto is a glorious college sports town, and Stanford maintains 1 million gross feet of indoor facilities and 94 acres of outdoor fields, including the:
  • 6,800-yard Stanford Golf Course
  • 7,200-seat Maples Pavilion
  • 4,000-seat Sunken Diamond
  • 17-court Taube Family Tennis Stadium
  • 2,500-seat, four-pool Avery Aquatic Complex
  • 50,000-seat Stanford Stadium"
As far as the development of Silicon Valley is concerned, the Wikipedia writes:
"Stanford University, its affiliates, and graduates have played a major role in the development of [Silicon Valley]....

Thousands of high technology companies are headquartered in Silicon Valley.

Among those, the following are in the Fortune 1000: Adobe Systems, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Agilent Technologies, Alphabet Inc., Apple Inc., Applied Materials, Brocade Communications Systems, Cisco Systems, eBay, Electronic Arts, Facebook, Google, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, HP Inc., Intel, Intuit, Juniper Networks, KLA Tencor, Lockheed Martin, LSI Logic, Marvell Semiconductors, Maxim Integrated Products, National Semiconductor, NetApp, Netflix, Nvidia, Oracle Corporation, Riverbed Technology, Salesforce.com, SanDisk, Sanmina-SCI, Symantec, Tesla Motors, Western Digital Corporation, Xilinx, Yahoo!

Additional notable companies headquartered (or with a significant presence) in Silicon Valley include (some defunct or subsumed):

3Com (acquired by Hewlett-Packard), 8x8, Actel, Actuate Corporation, Adaptec, Actiance, Aeria Games and Entertainment, Akamai Technologies (HQ in Cambridge, Massachusetts), Altera, Amazon.com's A9.com, Amazon.com's Lab126.com, Amdahl, Aricent, Anritsu, AstraQom, Asus (headquartered in Taipei, Taiwan), Atari, Atmel, Broadcom (headquartered in Irvine, California), BEA Systems (acquired by Oracle Corporation), Cadence Design Systems, Cypress Semiconductor, Dell (headquartered in Round Rock, Texas), EMC Corporation (headquartered in Hopkinton, Massachusetts), Extreme Networks, E*TRADE (headquartered in New York, NY), Fairchild Semiconductor, Foundry Networks, Fujitsu (headquartered in Tokyo, Japan), Groupon (headquartered in Chicago, IL), Harmonic, Inc., HCL Technologies (headquartered in Noida, India), Hitachi Data Systems, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, IBM Almaden Research Center (headquartered in Armonk, New York), iCracked, Infosys (headquartered in Bangalore, India), IDEO, Informatica, Intuitive Surgical, Kerio Technologies, LinkedIn, Logitech, Maxtor (acquired by Seagate), McAfee (acquired by Intel), Memorex (acquired by Imation and moved to Cerritos, California), MetricStream, Micron Technology (headquartered in Boise, Idaho), Microsoft (headquartered in Redmond, Washington), Mozilla Foundation, Move, Inc., Nokia (headquartered in Espoo, Finland), Nokia Solutions and Networks (headquartered in Espoo, Finland), NXP Semiconductors, Nook (subsidiary of Barnes & Noble), Olivetti (headquartered in Ivrea, Italy), Opera Software (headquartered in Oslo, Norway), OPPO, Palm, Inc. (acquired by Hewlett-Packard), Panasonic (headquartered in Osaka, Japan), PARC, PayPal (it has been demerged from Ebay), Pixar, Playdom, PlayPhone, Qualcomm, Inc. (HQ in San Diego, CA), Quanta Computer, Quantcast, Quora, Rambus, RSA (acquired by EMC), Samsung Electronics (headquartered in Suwon, Korea), SAP AG (headquartered in Walldorf, Germany), Siemens (headquartered in Berlin and Munich, Germany), Sony (headquartered in Tokyo, Japan), Sony Ericsson, SRI International, Sun Microsystems (acquired by Oracle Corporation), SunPower, SurveyMonkey, Synopsys Inc., Tata Consultancy Services (headquartered in Mumbai, India), Tibco Software, Tesla Motors, TiVo, TSMC, Twitter, VA Software (Slashdot), VeriSign, Veritas Software (acquired by Symantec), VMware, WebEx (acquired by Cisco Systems), @WalmartLabs (acquired by Walmart Global eCommerce), YouTube (acquired by Google), Yelp, Inc., Zynga"
The impact of Stanford University alumni on the economy is massive, as noted at Best Value Schools (by ROI), is that:
"The combined annual revenue of all the companies that have been founded by Stanford alumni is over $2.7 trillion, equivalent to the tenth largest single economy in the world."
One can also rank the universities in terms of their actual "money clout", i.e. their total college endowments, which of course may not fully reflect their actual sustained current strength, but rather the accumulation of money over time. Money breeds money. According to U.S. News, here is the Top 10:
1. Harvard University - $36,429,256,000
2. Yale University - $23,858,561,000
3. Stanford University - $21,466,006,000
4. Princeton University - $20,576,361,000
5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - $12,425,131,000
6. Texas A&M University - $10,521,034,492
7. University of Michigan - $9,603,919,000
8. University of Pennsylvania - $9,582,335,000
9. Columbia University - $9,223,047,000
10. University of Notre Dame - $8,189,096,000
A somewhat older, but also useful list for a general overview is The World’s 50 Wealthiest Universities, which lists the universities in the following order: Harvard, Yale, KAUST (Thuwal, Saudi Arabia), Texas (System), Stanford, Princeton, California (System), MIT, Michigan, Texas A&M (System), Notre Dame, Columbia, Cambridge UK, Northwestern (Illinois), Pennsylvania (Penn), Chicago, Oxford UK, Duke, Emory, Washington U in St. Louis, Cornell, Virginia, Rice, USC (Southern California), Dartmouth, Vanderbilt, Ohio State, NYU, Johns Hopkins, Pittsburgh, Penn State (System), Minnesota, KSU (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia), Brown, Singapore, North Carolina, Washington (Seattle), Osaka, Kyoto, Purdue, Richmond, Wisconsin (Madison), Pomona, Williams, Illinois, Caltech, Amherst, Boston College, Nanyang Tech (Singapore), Rockefeller U.

So how about the number of billionaire alumni?
CNBC Inside Wealth has the following list:

1. Harvard University - 52 billionaire alumni - $205 billion
2. University of Pennsylvania including Penn's Wharton School of Economics - 28 billionaire alumni - $112 billion
3. Stanford University - 27 billionaire alumni - $76 billion
4. New York University (NYU) - 17 billionaire alumni - $68 billion
5. Columbia University - 15 billionaire alumni - $96 billion (Warren Buffett)
6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology - 15 billionaire alumni - $114 billion
7. Cornell University - 14 billionaire alumni - $35 billion
8. University of Southern California (USC) - 14 billionaire alumni - $32 billion
9. Yale University - 13 billionaire alumni - $77 billion
10. University of Cambridge, UK - 11 billionaire alumni - $48 billion

Another measure are the number of CEOs (Chief Executive Officers) of Fortune 500 companies, compiled by BestColleges.org, CEOs who are accounted for by 38 universities and colleges in the following ranking order:

Harvard, Stanford, Penn, MIT, Cornell, Chicago, Northwestern, Columbia, Yale, SMU, USC, NYU, Texas A&M, Princeton, Notre Dame, San Diego State, Penn State, Purdue, Michigan, Kansas, Georgetown, Cincinnati, Babson, Duke, Minnesota, Brown, Pittsburgh, Clark, Oklahoma, Tufts, San Diego, Virginia, Charlotte, Berkeley, Colorado, Wayne State (Detroit), Boston College, Houston.

But what about the ability of universities to retain members of their incoming freshman class, something which CollegeChoice.net rates as 50 Colleges and Universities with the Happiest Freshmen. Here is their ranking primarily by freshman retention rate: Yale, Chicago, Soka University (Orange County, California), Princeton, Amherst, Stanford, Penn, Dartmouth, MIT, Virginia, Carleton (Minnesota), Harvey Mudd (Claremont), Hillsdale (Michigan), Harvard, Pomona, Notre Dame, Brown, Duke, Middlebury, Johns Hopkikns, Swarthmore, Bowdoin, Haverford, Davidson, Tufts, North Carolina, USC (Southern California), Michigan, Naval Academy, Williams, Columbia, Vassar (Poughkeepsie, NY), Northwestern, Washington U St. Louis, Cornell, Caltech, Vanderbilt, Hamilton, Georgetown, Rice, Berkeley, UCLA, William & Mary, Florida, Rochester, Northeastern (Boston), Worcester (WPI, Massachusetts), Wesleyan (Middletown, CT), USMA (West Point), Wellesley (Massachusetts). Interesting is that many of the colleges and universities with superb freshman retention rates require on campus living or college or dormitory housing. That surely must help young students from becoming isolated from their peers and must instill a feeling of identification with the university or college they are attending.

Last but not least we have the year 2016 rankings of 380 colleges and universities in the USA by The Princeton Review, which "surveyed 136,000 students from across the country". They have many rankings lists. Take a look there for many more interesting ways of viewing the university scene.


Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Tallest Residential Building in the Western Hemisphere Is Ready for Residency in New York City: Plus the View from 432 Park Avenue to 345 Park Avenue

New York City continues to amaze via its sustained architectural flair.

The tallest residential building in the Western Hemisphere is ready for residency in its 104 luxury apartments
at 432 Park Avenue in Manhattan, New York City,
as designed by the architect Rafael Viñoly.

Apartment prices start somewhere near $20 million and a penthouse was presold at a reported ca. $100 million.

The 432 Park Avenue website starts out with an elevated full screen photo of the building as it towers far above Central Park and the surrounding skyscrapers.

Thereafter, take a look at the 432 Park Avenue website panoramic 360° views, where the viewer can set the height from which the City is viewed. Amazing!

See BusinessInsider to get an idea of how tall the building is relative to its surroundings. More such tall slender buildings are planned for the New York City area but right now 432 Park Avenue has its own iconic character.

ABC News reported already in 2014 at Inside the Tallest Residential Building in the Western Hemisphere in a story by Alyssa Newcomb.

A photo in that ABC News story attracted our personal interest. See the specific image at http://a.abcnews.go.com/images/Technology/HT_tallest_residential_building_4_sk_141014_4x3_992.jpg.

That image was taken -- we assume by ABC News -- from 432 Park Avenue looking southward toward the MetLife Building (formerly the PanAm Building, middle), the Empire State Building (somewhat back and to its right), as well as the One World Trade Center building, the tallest skyscraper (with spire) in the Western Hemisphere, seen far in the distance down in the financial district (e.g. near Wall Street) (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/432_Park_Avenue#/media/File:NYCbyPinHt_update.jpg).

That ABC News image from 432 Park Avenue also includes 345 Park Avenue, a 44-story building which was completed in 1969 and that occupies a whole city block of Midtown Manhattan in what is called the "Plaza District". Compare its base to the "only" 93-foot width on each side at 432 Park Avenue, an architectural difference of generations in the strength of materials and the demands of more limited space in New York City.

By the way, as written at the Wikipedia, the Plaza District is "a term used by Manhattan real estate professionals to denote the most expensive area of midtown from a commercial real estate perspective, lies between 42nd Street and 59th Street, from Third Avenue to Seventh Avenue, about a square kilometer or half a square mile."

At the start of the 1970's, 345 Park Avenue, designed by Emery Roth & Sons, (see Richard Roth Sr.), who also designed the World Trade Center, was just about the tallest and largest building in the neighborhood. It is found in the immediate left foreground in that already cited photo taken from 432 Park Avenue as the widest "bright" rectangular building, standing as if in "T-form" just behind the smaller earlier-built black Seagram Building, whose structure was designed by Mies van der Rohe and with some internal aspects designed by Philip Johnson. The bright color of 345 Park Avenue was intended by design to contrast the neighboring Seagram Building.

345 Park Avenue was the former headquarters of the international law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison ("Paul, Weiss et al." viz. "Paul|Weiss"), where the LawPundit was an associate in the early 1970's. This was once also "my residential neighborhood", so it is always a thrill to follow its development.

In the illustration below, we have marked the approximate location of our former office in that building with reference to that ABC News photo.


Now compare that illustration to the photo at the link ... ABC News photo. To be able to see one's former offices that clearly from high above via the tallest residential building in the Western Hemisphere gives one a special feeling.

A marvelous photo looking southward is also found at 432ParkAvenue.com (click on the photo for a larger image), compressing the distance and thus showing some of the distant buildings better and seemingly closer.

Google Street View takes you to
51st and Park Avenue in New York City,
the location of 345 Park Avenue,
from which there is a view of 432 Park Avenue in 2015.

345 Park Avenue is also known as the Bristol-Myers Squibb Building. It is currently 100% leased and includes the following tenants, according to its website as of our last visit of that website on March 20, 2016:
Hat tip to CaryGEE.


Please note: This posting was made mostly for the interest of our friends and for those interested in New York City architecture especially. Nothing in this posting constitutes paid or unpaid advertising of any kind and it is not a solicitation for anyone to buy or lease apartments or office space, to attend sports gatherings, to invest money or to avail of financial services, to conduct banking transactions, or to wine and dine. We waive any and all liability for anyone relying in any way upon our text or graphic materials or links.


Saturday, March 19, 2016

President Barack Obama's Option to APPOINT a Supreme Court Justice Due to WAIVER of Advice and Consent by the Senate

President Barack Obama actually has a simple solution available in handling the Senate refusal to follow normal procedures of "advice and consent" according to Article II, Section 2, paragraph 2 of the United States Constitution which provides that:
"[The President] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments." [emphasis added]
As provided in the Constitutional provision cited above, the President has the power to NOMINATE and also to APPOINT Supreme Court Justices in concert with the middle provision "by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate". Nomination and appointment are two SEPARATE acts between which is sandwiched the "advice and consent" clause.

What would happen now if President Obama were to go on and actually APPOINT the previously nominated Merrick Brian Garland to the vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court?

The only recourse that the Senate of the United States would have would be to bring the case to that very same U.S. Supreme Court and to argue that the appointment is unconstitutional and thus null and void due to the failure of the President of the United States to obtain the constitutionally required "advice and consent" of the Senate.

However, the Senate would be on very shaky legal footing.

The President would argue that he had fulfilled his Constitutional duty as President, had nominated Garland to the vacant position and had submitted that nomination to the U.S. Congress for its duties of "advice and consent", but that the Congress had publicly proclaimed and categorically so, that it would not carry out its Constitutional duties of "advice and consent" REGARDLESS of the NOMINEE, i.e. by not having any contact with the nominee, by not holding any hearings on the nomination, and by not voting on the nomination to determine if the required number of Senators consented to the nomination or not.

In other words, the President could argue that the Congress WAIVED the requirement of advice and consent by categorically and publicly declining to fulfill its Constitutional duty -- and had done so for publicly proclaimed POLITICAL rather than Constitutional reasons.

Regardless of the political leanings of the individual Justices, they would be hard-pressed to support the Senate's actions as a matter of Constitutional law.

The Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, has gone on record as saying that the reason for the Senate's declining to exercise its Constitutional duties of "advice and consent" is to "Give the people a voice in filling this vacancy", something which would allegedly occur by waiting until the next President is elected. See Senator Mitch McConnell on Merrick Garland Supreme Court Nomination at C-Span.

The Constitution says NOTHING about Supreme Court positions being popular quasi-elective offices whose filling depended on prospective political elections. Rather, the procedure is clearly provided in Article II, Section 2, paragraph 2 of the United States Constitution. The people have already had their say by electing the President that they currently have. There is no issue here of the people's voice being somehow magically activated by the election of the next President, as if that voice had already not been heard previously.

Moreover, McConnell is wrong in saying that the Senate is "withholding" its consent. That is a nicely twisted falsehood. Rather, the Senate is not acting at all to determine if Senate consent is there or not. That is an entirely different matter, because the Constitution states that BOTH "advice and consent" are duties of Congress in the intermediary stage between nomination and appointment of a Supreme Court Justice. The Senate has DENIED those duties REGARDLESS of the NOMINEE, a clear Constitutional usurpation.

If the Senate WAIVES those duties by publicly proclaimed inaction, and for reasons of pure politics, seeking to make Justices quasi-elected judges, thus failing to abide by the clear provisions of the U.S. Constitution, then the Senate should be barred from raising the argument that the appointment is unconstitutional and/or that it is therefore null and void, because the Senate itself has failed to "withhold" its consent from the nominee by a proper advice and consent, and by a negative Senate vote, a result which is by no means secured until the vote is actually held.

Should the Senate argue that it can determine WHEN it is to fulfill its Constitutional duties, even if it takes years, because the Constitution sets no specific time limit, then the Supreme Court in our opinion should hold as an axiom of law, that Constitutional government DUTIES are to be fulfilled within a reasonable period of time, which in the case of confirmation or non-confirmation of Supreme Court Justices to the Court, has previously been 125 days at the maximum and has been an average of 71 days for current Supreme Court Justices. To avoid any game-playing and trickery on the part of the Senate, the Supreme Court should set a limit of 90 days. Period.

The Senate could still vote against the nominee, but it can not withhold the process of its "advice and consent", which the Constitution requires.

Those who disagree with the above scenario should consider the following hypothetical: Hillary Clinton wins the upcoming election and one of the conservative Justices passes away at the same time. The Court then has a more-or-less liberal majority and needs no more Justices, so that no more nominations to the Court are made by the new President for the duration of her administration. What then, dear obstructionists?

Frankly, we do not think that President Obama will take the option discussed here because he has simply been a very weak President in the last years of his Presidency and probably wants to go out without any greater catastrophes happening, especially a face-to-face Constitutional battle among the three branches of government. But it might be the right thing to do for the country and a proper education of its citizens about the U.S. Constitution and the impartiality of the Judiciary.

P.S. If this scenario ever actually happened, what would be the position of Justice Garland in deciding the case? Would he have to recuse himself? Or could he also cast his vote on the merits, especially if the Senate is to be held barred from bringing the action for reasons of its own WAIVER. After all, the case is not about Garland but about the publicly declared inaction of the Senate in refusing to fulfill its Constitutional duties, REGARDLESS of the NOMINEE, which is an entirely different matter.


 

Sports Law Pharmaceuticals & the Maria Sharapova Tennis Case: The Latvian Inventor of Meldonium Defends the Safety of the Allegedly Performance-Enhancing Miracle Drug aka Mildronāts, Mildronate, Quaterine, MET-88, THP (not Available in the USA or Germany)

The Latvian Inventor of meldonium (also known as mildronāts, Mildronate, Quaterine, MET-88, or THP) has defended the safety of the allegedly performance-enhancing drug that has brought Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova into an alleged doping crossfire, very likely unjustly, because, as Ivars Kalvins of Latvia's Institute of Organic Synthesis has stated, there is no clinical evidence that taking meldonium improves athletic performance per se.

Meldonium is a curious case because the substance was only put on the athletically prohibited list of drugs this year, in 2016, whereas the medication was already invented in the 1980s and used for livestock. Clinical trials on humans were conducted in 2005 for its use as a heart medication. As written by Eric Niiler at Wired (yes, two i's) in The Quirky History of Meldonium, From a Latvian Lab to Maria Sharapova:
"The [Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis] demonstrated meldonium’s ability to treat effects of heart failure, myocardial infarction, arrhythmia, atherosclerosis, and diabetes, as well as how it boosts the sexual prowess of boars."
As Niiler writes further, the World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA) has stated off the record that meldonium was put on the prohibited list because it is allegedly "an energy efficiency catalyst that increases oxygen uptake, enhancing stamina and endurance." WADA is being careful in its statements on the record because they are in hot water legally, having no evidence that meldonium improves athletic performance, nor is there any evidence that meldonium is harmful to athletes -- quite the contrary, all available evidence indicates that meldonium, as a CYTOPROTECTIVE SUBSTANCE -- is beneficial for health -- perhaps for everyone!

In his Wired article, The Original Users of Meldonium, Sharapova’s Banned Drug? Soviet Super-Soldiers, Niiler points out that the drug has been used for many years, and quotes Kalvins, a European Patent Office finalist for the European Inventor Award in 2015 for his work on meldonium, as follows:
"Kalvins says the [Sharapova] ban is literally a crime. “It’s a violation of human rights,” he says. “The sportsmen should be able to protect their health. We are living in an era of evidence-based medicine, so there are not any other new data supporting the ban.” He calls the prohibition “sudden” and “a surprise.”" [emphasis added]
In fact, meldonium is a registered drug in Latvia, Russia and East European countries and has been prescribed for heart patients for years because -- if taken as indicated under the supervision of a physician -- it has proven beneficial not only for heart indications but for health in general, as detailed at the end of this posting.

The slow-moving U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved it yet.  See Flash - Inventor defends safety, questions ban on Sharapova drug - France 24. It is also not yet approved in Germany, in spite of clinical trials that were published already in 2010 in Seminars in Cardiovascular Medicine, 2010; 16:3. That failing in the USA and Germany, of course, may have much more to do with big money and pharmaceutical politics rather than the honest attempt to provide the best medicine to citizens via new substances, especially if the patents to those substances are owned by foreign firms.

At any rate, as a legal matter, it simply can not be the case that substances that are beneficial to the heart and the circulatory system are put on lists of substance prohibitions for athletes -- just because athletes use them beneficially. That is really quite absurd.

Many athletes surely stress their hearts more than your average person and thus taking vitamins or other medications to protect their hearts and health surely is not "doping" per se at all. We should in fact rather encourage athletes to take supplements which are beneficial to them and their organs and which make them stronger, presuming the drugs are not harmful.

Better heart health could of course result in better athletic performance in any sport, and especially so in tennis, which puts a lot of stress on the circulatory system, but to ban substances that improve an athlete's overall health can not be the purpose of prohibitory athletic doping laws. That simply goes too far in terms of sports officials interfering with people's free choice and, paradoxically, likely HARMING their health through prohibition.

There must be a line drawn between permissible supplements that improve the health of athletes as opposed to drugs such as steroids that are used primarily to enhance muscle size and thus to gain an unfair athletic advantage in strength sports. Moreover, steroid abuse has been shown to be dangerous to the health of athletes. But what about other "supplements"?

We ourselves find that eating honey and peanut butter sandwiches prior to tennis matches or other athletic endeavors appears to be beneficial for winning or losing -- for us. Calories to burn as it were. Dehydration can also be a severe problem for athletic performance and we swear by Coca-Cola (R) in such cases. Who is anyone to prohibit us from doing that?! In other words, there must be sensible limits to drug doping law prohibitions.

The world is constantly moving forward and new discoveries are being made every day that have the potential to improve human health. There is no way that all such new discoveries can be prohibited for athletes. That would be unsupportable discrimination against athletes. Indeed, the athletes may be serving in the course of their competitions as models for the rest of us, who down the road may in fact find ourselves taking the same substances to lead a better life. Meldonium certainly looks like one of those substances.

Be that all as it may, meldonium is manufactured only in Riga, Latvia by the pharmaceutical firm Grindeks (Grindex), and prescriptions of the drug have shot up considerably since the Sharapova case became public.

As written at France24 about the clever Mayor of Riga and meldonium, and we would not be surprised if tourist traffic to Riga increased as a result:

"Meanwhile, the mayor of Riga, Nils Usakovs has turned the controversy over the drug into a cheeky promotional initiative.

On his Twitter and Instagram accounts, he has mocked up a holiday-style poster, decorated with swimsuit-clad women, with the slogan: 'Welcome to Riga, meldonium home city!'"

Here is what the pharmaceutical company Grindeks (Grindex) has written recently at its website about meldonium in Meldonium should not be included in the Prohibited list [note that the company is not doing this to INCREASE sales, rather sales of meldonium have increased because of the prohibition]:

"Despite «Grindeks»’s submitted arguments, evidence and justifications, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) included meldonium in the Prohibited list. In accordance with the results of the extended research, «Grindeks» has a firm conviction that meldonium should not be included in the Prohibited list. It is unclear to «Grindeks» why the WADA included meldonium in the Prohibited list, because it never gave any explanation of this decision. The company will continue to use all the options and will stand up for to the exclusion of meldonium from the WADA’s Prohibited list.

Mildronate® is a registered trademark of the JSC «Grindeks». Its active pharmaceutical ingredient (or active substance) is meldonium which is responsible for the pharmacological and therapeutic effects of Mildronate®. It should be noticed that inclusion of meldonium (Mildronate®) in the Prohibited list doesn’t change the fact that it is a medicine of high quality, safety and efficacy. Until now it has been available to everyone, including athletes, to prevent the negative effects caused by physical and psycho-emotional overload.

Mildronate® is widely used in the clinical practice. During increased physical activity, it restores the oxygen balance of tissue cells as well as activating the metabolic processes that result in lower requirements of oxygen consumption for energy production. Mildronate® is widely recognized by health care professionals and patients, and this may include athletes as well.

Mildronate® is mostly prescribed for patients to treat heart and cardiovascular diseases, including stable angina pectoris, chronic heart failure (NYHA I-III functional class), cardiomyopathy, functional cardiovascular disorders; also when there are acute and chronic ischemic brain blood circulation disorders, reduced working capacity, physical and psycho-emotional overload as well as during the recovery period after cerebrovascular disorders, head injury and encephalitis.

Depending on the patient’s health condition, the treatment course of meldonium preparations may vary from 4 to 6 weeks. The treatment course can be repeated twice or thrice a year. Only physicians can follow and evaluate patient health condition and state whether the patient should use meldonium for a longer period of time or not according to the information provided in the patient leaflet and summary of product characteristics.

Meldonium is a cytoprotective substance, which is used to prevent death of ischemic cells, and not to increase performance of normal cells. The mechanism of action of meldonium is based on limitation of carnitine biosynthesis, which leads to deceleration of fatty acid oxidation and activation of glycolysis. Unlike carnitine, meldonium doesn’t cause increase of muscle mass and physical properties. Meldonium decreases cellular damage from ischemia by reducing accumulation of detergent substances (acylcarnitine and acyl-coenzyme A) in the mitochondria. It means that meldonium reduces the ability of an organism to use fatty acids as its energy source. This is important in the treatment of pathologies associated with heart muscle ischemia (stenocardia, heart failure), because in these cases the heart is not getting enough oxygen and nutrients. Consequently, meldonium is a cytoprotective substance, which is used to prevent death of ischemic cells, and not to increase performance of normal cells. It means that meldonium cannot improve athletic performance, but it can stop tissue damage in the case of ischemia. That is why this therapeutic drug is not a doping agent.

Good safety profile of Mildronate® should be particularly emphasized. This is one of the key factors explaining its wide recognition among the doctors and patients. The Mildronate®’s safety is confirmed by its periodic safety update records and the results of published clinical studies. Based on available data, no adverse reactions related to Mildronate®’s use in athletes have been registered.
"

Meldonium looks pretty good to us, and WADA has clearly made a mistake in putting a substance on the prohibited list which has not been proven to be harmful nor has it been proven that it confers an unfair advantage in sports.

Moreover, as a personal matter and on behalf of people who might be helped to lead better lives with meldonium, we want to know why the substance is not available in the USA and Germany, where the local pharmaceutical company monopolies are reaping gigantic profits by providing us with what may turn out to be less effective cardiovascular substances than meldonium.

Hat tip to CaryGEE.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Donald Trump Has Made a Big Mistake in Siding With the Obstructionists on the Supreme Court Nomination

Political centrists decide the Presidential elections and treating a politically centrist Supreme Court nomination in an unmannerly way is not good politics. Indeed, things at the moment are not looking good for the Republican Party.

We are very good at calling Presidential election results and, for example, called Obama's first Presidential win very early in the primaries 8 years ago.

This Presidential year we have been of the opinion from the very beginning of Donald Trump's campaign that Trump might pull off a similar unexpected win in 2016 and through his administration subsequently correct some of the economic and foreign policy failings that have been made in recent decades.

However, we definitely expect Trump not to kowtow to the anti-democratic extremist obstructionist faction in mainstream GOP ranks, who represent what we regard to be the forces of political destruction, and are thus anathema.

Accordingly, we are very upset with Trump's apparent decision to side with the obstructionists on current President Barack Obama's nomination of centrist Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. See GOP Leaders Wanted This Supreme Court Justice -- Until Obama Nominated Him.

We predict now that this obstruction, perhaps more than any other event this Presidential election year, will cause the GOP to lose the upcoming Presidential election to Hillary Clinton, a candidate who we only marginally support, but for whose support there may be no alternative among voters who find themselves in the political center.

Our view is that there are certain lines that political parties in the USA can not cross, and if they do so, they lose elections. This is one such line, and we think that the GOP is making a big mistake in obstructing the orderly Constitutional process of government, so that Donald Trump is making an even bigger mistake in affiliating himself with that political faction.

The Constitution of the United States is very clear about who does what in terms of the separation of powers.
  • The President is the chief executive.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court is the highest court in the judiciary.
  • Senators and Representatives of the U.S. Congress are elected to be LEGISLATORS in Washington D.C. They are not elected to run the country or to call the shots in important day-to-day government affairs.
Each such Congressional representative actually represents only a small fraction of the people of the United States and thus is only one vote of many in terms of what should be done as far as the U.S. government is concerned. This does not keep Congress-Persons from having delusions of grandeur.

In recent years, in fact, Congressional representatives have more and more neglected their legislative duties, to the detriment of the nation, failing to enact much necessary legislation, and have increasingly taken to "playing President", the job of the Executive branch, or to interfering with the impartiality of judging, the job of the Judiciary, with thus far catastrophic results for stable government, even forcing a "government shutdown", one of the most shameful events of U.S. history, directly attributable to extremist obstructionists in Congress. In our view, a strong President would and could have arrested the obstructionist leaders for insurrection. He failed to do so.

A simple politician such as Mitch McConnell is merely a representative of his State of Kentucky and, regardless of the fact that his colleagues in the U.S. Senate have voted him to be Majority Leader of their body, this gives him no standing to interfere with the duties of the Executive or the Judiciary, but exactly that is what he is doing, together with other destructively-minded Congressional obstructionists such as Rafael Cruz, who are making up "new" Constitutional rules nowhere found in the U.S. Constitution about the non-confirmation of judges in Presidential election years.

In our opinion, such Constitutional usurpations by members of Congress will not be taken lightly by many U.S. citizens as the Supreme Court nomination drama unfolds, because it treads heavily on the principles according to which the United States was founded. The main rules of the country are not just made up as you go along, as is currently being done by the Senate.

We think that the obstruction of a Supreme Court nomination will by no means meet with majority voter approval. Quite the contrary, we expect the GOP to suffer serious Presidential election voter losses in the middle of the political spectrum among erudite, educated people who recognize the nature of the political scam being enacted in Congress. You can not fool all of the people all of the time.

We shall see. The proof is in the pudding. Significant for us, in any case, is that we regard this breach of U.S. Constitutional principles to be so outrageous, that we herewith revoke our support for Donald Trump, the only GOP candidate -- in our view -- with any real chance of beating the Democratic Party in the upcoming Presidential election.

The message to McConnell, Cruz and the remaining obstructionists is thus clear, also to Trump if he continues to side with the obstructionists. If you want to win, you play by the standard rules, or you are ultimately thrown out of the game. And so it shall be. That is our prediction.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Obama Nominates "Moderate" Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court Making Senate Obstruction Problematical for the GOP in a Presidential Election Year

So, Obama has a Supreme Court nominee. Quo Vadis America?

The New York Times reports that Obama Chooses Merrick Garland for Supreme Court. Merrick Garland is currently the Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He graduated at the top of his class at Harvard University, summa cum laude as an undergraduate and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School.

If the nation wants the best on the benches of our courts, and not partisan political stooges, then Garland is the type of person the nation needs.

Garland is known to be a moderate, i.e. a political centrist. During his career, Garland was principal deputy to U.S. Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick and supervised prosecution of the Oklahoma City bombing case, the Unabomber prosecution, and the Atlanta Olympics bombings investigations. His credentials are clear and without serious flaw.

Accordingly, this middle-of-the-road nomination makes it difficult for extremist nihilistic obstructionists in U.S. Congress to argue either that this is a "liberal" nomination that they must oppose or to assert that they are entitled to "postpone" Senate fulfillment of essential Constitutional duties in order to await their illusory hope of the election of a President who better fits their extremist views and who will nominate judges that make decisions by reading Tea Party tea leaves rather than consulting the U.S. Constitution.

The obstructionist hope of an extreme right-wing President is being thwarted by their own actions. We ourselves are political centrists and we are legitimately appalled that obstructionist GOP policies are driving people in the middle of the political spectrum in the direction of a Clinton win, whereas a change of direction might be better for the country. But not by extremism.

If Republican obstructionists want a Hillary Clinton as President, then they just need to continue doing as they have been doing and the end result is pre-programmed: a GOP washout in the coming Presidential election.

Who is going to vote for a political Party dominated by obstructionists?

Not the majority.
And not the political centrists in the middle, who decide the elections.

College Athletes Whose Likenesses Were Used in Electronic Arts Games Settle for $60 Million

At Bleacher Report, featured columnist Matt Fitzgerald has the story in College Athletes Who Appeared in EA Sports Games to Share $60M Settlement.

See also Darren Rovell, ESPN Senior Writer in Athletes whose likenesses appeared in Electronic Arts games will share a $60 million settlement.

See also EA Sports.

The case of the players alleging NCAA antitrust law violations continues.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Some Basics About the Human Brain, Our Sensory System and Why Donald Trump is Winning

Did you see the story that Google's DeepMind AlphaGo computer software program defeated a human world class champion GO player 4 games to 1?

Is that a devastating setback for human intelligence?
or does it merely show the limitations of human brain bit processing?

Are you ready? Here is the brainy question.
Get out your math brain and pay attention to the numbers!
And you have to answer FAST. Be quick!
"What was the TOTAL NUMBER of EACH ANIMAL that Moses took ON THE ARK with him during THE GREAT FLOOD."
That question was posed on the TV game Jeopardy
and the contestants flubbed it.

One contestant pushed his button the quickest and gave the answer as
"What is TWO".
That was wrong.

The second contestant noticed potential linguistic trickery in that "EACH animal" (as opposed to a "kind of animal" or species) could only be represented once, pushed the button and gave the answer as
"What is ONE".
That was wrong also.

Both contestants failed to notice that it was not Moses but Noah who was the Biblical figure of the ark. The right answer to the trick question was therefore
"What is ZERO".
Biblical Moses took ZERO animals on the ark. It was Biblical Noah.

We subscribe to the book reviews at DelanceyPlace.com and the above example, known as "the Moses illusion" in Psychology, is referred to there in its recent "getting the gist of it" review of Stephen Baker's Final Jeopardy: Man vs. Machine and the Quest to Know Everything. Take a look.

The reason that the Jeopardy contestants overlooked the trick switch of Moses for Noah was a function of the way that the human sensory system functions.

The human brain, for all of its marvelous features, can only process about 50 bits of information a second, so it relies a lot on memory to fill the gaps and it tends to "group" concepts, so that the Biblical switch of the similar names of Moses and Noah can easily bypass notice, since Moses and Noah are "grouped" together by the brain as Biblical personages, whereas if say, the name TRUMP were substituted in that same question, people would notice it easily.

Humans "focus on the items that appear most relevant and round them out with stored memories, what psychologists call 'schemas.'" We battle these "schemas" all the time in mainstream science. We call them entrenched ideas.

That same brain processing competes with "an estimated eleven million bits of data [that] flow from the senses every second." Some people call this the "gut" brain and it is in many respects superior to the main "mind" brain, because the sum total of sensory perceptions of the human organism far outnumber the bits of info that the brain can directly process per second.

Since machines can be programmed to process more than 50 bits of info per second, they will -- with proper programming -- necessarily be superior to the human brain in performing tasks solely dependent on those kinds of bit processing information. That is why the best computer software chess or checkers programs now already beat humans at those games.

Where humans remain superior to machines, however, is in the sum total of sensory perceptions that the senses process every second. Machines can not do that to the same degree ... yet.

So how does this explain why Donald Trump is winning?

Most mainstream news media, commentators, politicians and political experts continue to churn out masses of well-meaning meaningless print in which they address the voters and their "50 bits of brain info per second", pointing to failings by Trump, things similar to confusing Moses with Noah, and expecting results, but in fact the voters are not listening to these commentaries.

Those 50 bits a second of "rational" thought are not what voters are using to make their voting decisions. They are instead relying mostly on the processing of an estimated "11 million bits of sensory data per second" in making their voting decisions, and that is a horse of a completely different color, as many exit polls clearly prove.

The REASONS why a voter votes a given way are extremely complex and usually have much more to do with "gut" feelings (based on 11 million bits of sensory data per second) than on a conscious decision based on simple brain data bit info of 50 bits per second. Nor is that remarkable, rationally seen.

Put into simplistic terms: WINNING the vote generally means positively resonating the system involved in processing those 11 million bits of sensory data per second. Or to put it another way, whether Trump says "Moses" or "Noah" is irrelevant. It is ignored, as in the Jeopardy question.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Suggested Political Rally Disruption Solution: Explicit Trespass Instructions on Tickets viz. Via Site Venue Rules

If you buy a ticket to the Super Bowl, can you as a spectator viz. fan at the event do what you want as a matter of "free speech"? The answer is no. What about running on to the field? How is that to be prohibited? See below.

You are buying a ticket to "see" the game as a fan under normal conditions and with normal spectator behavior. That is what you are paying for.

If you get out of line, you are essentially a common law "trespasser" on premises belonging to others and you are behaving in a manner for which you have no permission from the premise owner. A clear case of trespass.

An example is the Unviersity of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, which was the site of Super Bowl XLIX (49) in 2015, the stadium guide of which at Game Day - University of Phoenix Stadium provides:

"Playing Field - No Trespassing Fans are reminded that attempting to enter or accessing the playing field without the proper credential will be considered trespassing and is grounds for immediate ejection and arrest."

One way for political parties to eliminate the problem of the despicable disrupters at rallies is to make the conditions of trespass clear via venue i.e. site rules (which then catches non-ticket holders), and perhaps also via explicit rules and conditions of ticket entry, etc., especially including any disruptive activity as constituting trespass and being grounds for immediate ejection and arrest.



Trump Rally Disruption and Free Speech Law: The Difference Between Legal Protest viz. Demonstration and the Intentional Illegal Disruption of Other Persons Carrying Out Legal Activities

There is a great deal of difference between the constitutionally protected right of protest viz. demonstration as opposed to the intentional disruption of what other people are doing in carrying out a legal activity.

We get tired of reading in the often clueless mainstream media about the alleged "rights" of disruptive protesters and demonstrators, who, pursuant to common law principles, are in essence nothing more than trespassers, and who are interfering with the legitimate "rights" of other people to carry out legally permissible activities, including THEIR right to free speech.

Even the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized -- in the case of its OWN interests -- that the free speech right to protest and demonstrate must have SENSIBLE boundaries, and that free speech does not permit people to obstruct others in carrying out their legally permissible activities or professions. See Protesters have no free-speech rights on Supreme Court’s front porch.

Free speech is intended to maintain people's right to expression, BUT NOT to enable them to use their free speech right to obstruct the free speech rights of others or to hinder them in any way in their legally permissible activities.

When disrupters interrupt another person making a speech at a rally, they are doing nothing else than violating that person's free speech rights.

We once went to a paid theatre performance with a large group of people only to find a small competing theatre group from another company in seats behind us whose sole reason for being there was to loudly disrupt the performance of the competing players for selfish reasons -- the same motivation that guides political protesters at a rally -- the selfishness to obtain THEIR objectives at the cost of other people.

Obstructing or hindering others or keeping them from the enjoyment of their legally permissible activity is NOT free speech. It is a crime, and should so be treated by the legal system. We are a nation of laws, not primitive thuggery.

We have no understanding for society's legal or otherwise tolerance of these despicable hypocrites, regardless of their political party, religion, belief, or whatever. Our view is: "get them out". We do not care if it is a Democratic Party Rally, a Republican Party Rally, or any other rally.

It is time that the U.S. Supreme Court properly define the free speech right as ending where the free speech rights of others are violated by the actions of disrupters viz. disrupting thugs, camouflaged as "protesters" viz. demonstrators.

Let protesters hoist their banners somewhere in the non-disrupting geographic vicinity of the legal activity they are protesting or demonstrating about, but by no means should they be permitted to obstruct that legal activity of others.

The activities of these disrupters have in principle nothing to do with their exercise viz. expression of "free speech" but rather are clearly the INTENTIONAL VIOLATION of the RIGHTS of OTHERS.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Why Has the Apple CEO Not Been Charged With the Crime of Obstruction of Justice in the FBI-Apple Case?

Howard Mintz at Santa Cruz Sentinel News headlines that Apple vs. FBI: Feds ramp up legal assault.

That is a nice headline as a matter of media marketing -- it caused us to look at it too -- but of course this is not a legal assault by anyone but rather the government very gingerly proceeding against Apple where your average citizen would long ago have been charged with the crime of obstruction of justice.

We ask why the appropriately responsible person at Apple who has refused to comply with a court order -- surely the CEO -- has not been charged with the crime of obstruction of justice?

See the relevant legal analysis of Obstruction of Justice Charges in California by The Justice Firm at the Southern California Criminal Lawyer Blog.


Political Demonstrations in Chicago in 2016? How About 1968 and its Consequences in Leading to a Richard Nixon Presidency?

Protests and political demonstrations in Chicago in 2016? What is new?

It is virtually a law of human society that people do not learn from history.

We refer here to the political demonstrations in Chicago in 1968, quoting from the Wikipedia entry on the 1968 Democratic National Convention:
"After the Chicago protests, the demonstrators were confident that the majority of Americans would side with them over what had happened in Chicago, especially because of police behavior. They were shocked to learn that ... [Mayor] Daley ... had received 135,000 letters supporting his actions and only 5000 condemning them. Public opinion polls demonstrated that the majority of Americans supported the Mayor's tactics. It was often commented through the popular media that on that evening, America decided to vote for Richard Nixon." [emphasis added]
Was the organized left-wing (Democratic Party sanctioned ?) anti-democratic disruption of a Donald Trump rally yesterday in Chicago the start -- for many citizens -- to consider voting for Trump for President, where they may previously not have been supporters? We think that may turn out to be the disruption consequence, for the following reasons.

As a political centrist -- and it is the people in the middle who cast the deciding votes in most Presidential elections -- we appreciate both sides of the political spectrum and the interests which they defend. We are equally interested in the arguments raised by a Bernie Sanders as we are in those raised by a Donald Trump. Arguments on important issues arise where there is a reason for them. Not all is right in America and much must be corrected.

However, there is one area of society on which we have an ironclad opinion, and that is the importance of the "Rule of Law" for modern life. Civilized society is possible only when law and order prevail. Whenever and wherever law and order break down, civilized society disintegrates and the mass of citizens are the losers. We have many examples of this in the world today. "Law and order" has many deficits, but the alternatives are ALWAYS worse.

Protesters (and their financers) who disrupt the peaceful political process of Presidential elections -- and we do not care what political spectrum they come from, left or right -- deserve to be ostracized and, as required, sanctioned.

The political process gains nothing from targeted disruptive protests, demonstrations or riots -- indeed, they almost always have the exact opposite impact of what the disrupters intended.

On the whole, these disruptions make average people ANGRY.
Voters do not applaud such protests, rather, they vote for the other side.

Do political protesters actually think that your average citizen sees THEM, i.e. uncontrolled process-disrupting thugs or even violent protesters, as representing a viable political "alternative"?

If they do, they are greatly deluded and misled. We see such protesters as people who have no respect for the opinions of others and who believe in the democratic system only if it is going their way. The average citizen does not need them -- and -- long-term, they never win. Mostly they are people who need to learn more about the world before they try to influence it.

It is therefore all the more appalling that this kind of an inexcusable disruption of the political process is not being LOUDLY castigated from all political quarters. ALL Presidential candidates worthy of a citizen's vote should be standing up and loudly and clearly be distancing themselves totally from this kind of behavior by their potential voters and supporters.

In what reality-removed dream world are many of these politicians, mainstream media, and news commentators living?

Are there not enough shocking examples worldwide already of what happens when law and order break down and when the rule of law is ignored?

The results of the fail of the rule of law as we see daily on our TV screens are millions of migrating people, moving on without homes, without jobs, without security, lost in a world without law and order -- i.e. CHAOS.

We oppose CHAOS.

There are many injustices in this world and many people and institutions on all sides of the political fences are working hard to remedy them. That is the only way that true progress is ever made, and it does not happen at once.

Violent political protests such as those in Chicago at a paid-for Trump Presidential Election Rally serve to do the exact opposite.

People in the middle of the political spectrum, both Democrats and Republicans, are more likely now to vote for Trump than before, because they will -- in increasing numbers -- reject the anti-democratic alternative demonstrated in Chicago, which is not the America THEY want. No way.


Friday, March 11, 2016

Best States for Business 2015 at Forbes Rank Nebraska #3 With Lowest Unemployment Rate in the Nation

Best States for Business 2015 at Forbes rank Nebraska #3, with the lowest unemployment rate of any State. We grew up in Nebraska and we can confirm it ... we were never at a loss for work ... in younger days even snow shoveling the driveway of the mansion of the Mayor of Lincoln, which was on our block.
See Best States for Business List - Forbes.

The Marvelous New DJI Phantom 4 Consumer Drone is Reviewed at The Verge

The DJI Phantom 4 has just been released and is the newest and surely best drone up to now on the consumer drone market.

The Verge has a DJI Phantom 4 Review by Ben Popper which we have pinned at Pinterest to our board at Consumer Drone Universe at https://www.pinterest.com/pin/42010209002748423/ via their -- here linked -- image:

Check out this consumer drone at the above links.

This posting is NOT a paid or otherwise sponsored ad but only our personal interest. We have no connection to the sources cited.

Networking Differences: MBAs vs. JDs (Law Degree Holders)

Via Klout (at KLOU.TT) we have a Harvard Business Review article by Adina Sterling posted to our Facebook timeline about How Having an MBA vs. a Law Degree Shapes Your Network.

Sterling points to research which has revealed some interesting networking differences between MBAs (the business types) as opposed to JDs (the legal types). The result is persuasive.

One of our good friends has a joint MBA/JD degree from Stanford University and so we are going to see what he thinks about the article as well.

In the interim, take a look.
The article is short, and a good read.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

President Obama As a Hobbesian Optimist Seeing Long-Term Trends to Favor America in Spite of Many Short-Term Negative Problems

Max Fisher at Vox World has a thought-provoking article about The best articulation yet of how President Obama sees the world in which Obama is viewed as a pragmatic "Hobbesian optimist" who sees a long-term "arc of history" in America's favor in spite of many short-term negative issues.

We link to the article because it deals with a critical point of politics and not because we agree fully with either Fisher's analysis or Obama's leadership.

In examining political questions, there is of course always a significant difference in the handling of short-term problems as opposed to the pursuit of longer-term objectives. These can be critical for a President's sense of leadership and his decision-making regarding current problems.


Leak of the 2017 U.S. News Law School Rankings: What Does Rank Really Mean?

At Above the Law, Stacy Zaretsky has The 2017 U.S. News Law School Rankings Leak: The Top 100.

It is always of general interest to examine the new annual law school rankings by U.S. News, but frankly, very little seems to change over the years.

We note that The Faculty Lounge Historical Data (relying on WSJ data) notes that there were 138 law schools in 1968-1969 and 201 law schools in 2012-2013.  None of the newer (or older) schools has broken into the upper echelons.

U.S. News started its rankings in 1987 and as noted by Christopher Zorn, Law School Rankings Churn , www.lawyermetrics.com via JDSupra in 2014:
"[W]ith the exception of one or two years in the late 2000s — the top 14 schools in U.S. News’ annual law school rankings have been the same since its inception in 1987."
And the basic pattern goes back much further than 1987.

When we applied to law school for the 1968-1969 academic year, i.e. nearly 50 years ago, law school rankings were not in vogue yet but long-standing university reputations were. We sent out applications to our selection of 10 law schools (in addition to our undergraduate alma mater), and were accepted by all them. Our list of 10 law schools way back then included 7 of the top 8 law schools (and ties) now found in the 2017 U.S. News rankings and all 10 of those schools are still in the "modern" top 20.

Not only have the top schools stayed pretty much the same, but our experience suggests that the precise law school chosen is not as important as performance in the law school that one attends.

We refer here to a personal example. We chose Stanford Law School from our short list (at that time Stanford, Harvard, Chicago and NYU), while one of our closest friends from childhood days, who had been an undergraduate at an Ivy League school (Yale), chose the University of Chicago Law School.

Three years later found both of us as associates for BigLaw firms in New York City. Indeed, we lived only a few streets apart in midtown Manhattan.

The law school and law firm gauntlet had brought us together again in spite of very different pathways down the preceding road.

Our "career" results at that time were quite similar, as they -- objectively seen -- should have been, since we also went to the same elementary and high schools in the same middle-size Midwestern city in our younger days and had very similar classroom grades, activities, etc.

But how did the law school and law firm selection processes filter us out so similarly, and yet completely independently? We presume that this occurred because law school and law firm ranking and selection processes are successful in what they are designed to do, in spite of the criticisms sometimes levelled against them.

They seem to work, and they do not change that much from year to year.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Inventor of Email and First User of the @ Sign To Separate Name and Server, Ray Tomlinson, Passes Away

Business Insider via News Republic informs us that The computer legend who invented email has passed away.

Ray Tomlinson put the @ in the "first email address" in Cambridge, Massachusetts and sent the first email to himself as a test. The separation of a person's name from the server via the @ sign permitted email communication between users of different PCs, whereas that was previously not possible. All good things start small.

Tomlinson told a work colleague about his discovery, but asked him not tell anyone about it, because it was not what he was supposed to be working on.

We recall seeing that same phenomenon at Stanford in pioneer digital days, when many new discoveries were made in the course of other work. The first "bitmaps" we saw at SLAC were made during "play" on "company time"....

That was the true nature of invention in the early days of the digital era.

Sasha Cavender at Forbes in "Legends", October 5, 1998, writes about Tomlinson's innovation in detail, noting among other things that:

"Like certain other pioneers of the information age, such as Tim Berners-Lee and Vint Cerf (both profiled in previous Forbes ASAP "Legends"), Tomlinson ... changed the world and made a lot of others rich without cashing in himself. "Innovation is sometimes rewarded," he [had said] with a laugh, "but not this innovation."

Tomlinson was 75.

Hat tip to CaryGEE.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Donald Trump Supporters Refuse to be Told by GOP Functionaries Backing Other Candidates How They Should Vote in the Primary Elections

Trump supporters are angry at being told by GOP functionaries and/or moneyed interests how they should vote in the Presidential primary elections.

The New York Times has the story at Rank and File Republicans Tell Party Elites: We’re Sticking With Donald Trump.

The establishment GOP seems to have totally miscalculated and misjudged the current political situation, acting like paternalists rather than savvy politicians who should know better.

The more that so-called party "elites" have challenged Trump for being an outsider, the stronger he has gotten to be. We posted about this development before at LawPundit. Just sayin'.

The self-thinking man on the street in America is not about to be told how to vote by a political Party machine, be that machine the Democrats or the Republicans.

That's democracy. That is the way it is supposed to be. The PEOPLE decide.

Many people seem to be fed up with the failures of the established parties.
Instead, they have chosen their "champion" in the person of Donald Trump.

To see why (or, depending on your political allegiance, why not),
see e.g. his Wichita Rally speech.

Frankly, none of the other candidates of either political party, except for Bernie Sanders, who has surprised us by the quality of his speeches, speaks that well.

We were impressed by Trump's take that much of what we call "politics" in this world is actually simply "business" among States or nations, and yet in the USA we permit that business to be conducted by "political" amateurs rather than by experienced deal-making professionals.

The USA has made many bad political and economic deals domestically and internationally because American politicians functioning as deal-makers were not up to the task. It was never their expertise. Quite the contrary.

An example here is Democratic Party Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, who operated out of a private server in her home in the course of what might be called "kitchen diplomacy by a greenhorn" in the years that she held the position of Secretary of State of the USA.

We get the government we vote for.


Google Project Tango and Lenovo: 3D Tracking Navigation Gadget Perception & Mapping Will Revolutionize People's Use of Smartphones

A recent headline at The Verge pointed to a smartphone revolution:
Lenovo is making the first consumer phone with Google's Project Tango.

Those who think that the future of smartphones and privacy is being decided in the current Apple-FBI encryption controversy may be missing the real boat.

First of all, governments can not permit the existence of technology which hides evidence forever from law enforcement agencies when people's survival may depend on being able to obtain access to hidden information. We have no doubt that the controversy will be resolved in the interest of society generally.

Secondly, as far as the future of smartphones is concerned, Apple, Inc. has much more to be worried about in the coming advance of technologies such as Google's Project Tango, which will be released in a Lenovo smartphone this summer, implementing new 3D mapping technology for consumers that was already on display in Barcelona in February and which will revolutionize the way that people use smartphones to interact with their world.

See e.g. the YouTube video at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBIjo8Tsn4s.

The Lenovo Project Tango page writes as follows at Coming Summer 2016! The World's First Project Tango-Powered Smartphone:
"Google's Project Tango and Lenovo are partnering to create the world's first smartphone powered by Project Tango technology. The device, which will allow users to experience the world in ways never before possible through a smartphone, will launch in Summer 2016. Watch this space for the latest from Mobile World Congress and beyond on new Project Tango experiences and details on the coming device!"
Project Tango involves the convergence of many new "locational", "navigational", "sonar" and "mapping" technologies -- also such as have just been introduced in consumer drone technology and about which we have been posting. We have not been writing about drones for nothing and perhaps there is more than a subtle connection to our publications about ancient mapping systems, e.g. Sky Earth Native America (see Vol. 1 and Vol. 2) and Stars Stones and Scholars.

It was Giordano Bruno who reportedly stated that "if the world has no beginning or end, then where are we?"

That concern for our location has been a guiding question of humanity from its very inception, and it guides the rationale for much of science and religion, which try to answer the question of "WHERE ARE WE?" Indeed, the common orientation of ancient and modern systems of mapping and navigation is the aim to "help everything and everyone understand where they are".

Project Tango as implemented in smartphones will lead to unprecedented new possibilities.

See the following YouTube videos:

Most Popular Posts of All Time

Sky Earth Native America

Sky Earth Native America 1 :
American Indian Rock Art Petroglyphs Pictographs
Cave Paintings Earthworks & Mounds as Land Survey & Astronomy
,
Volume 1, Edition 2, 266 pages, by Andis Kaulins.

  • Sky Earth Native America 2 :
    American Indian Rock Art Petroglyphs Pictographs
    Cave Paintings Earthworks & Mounds as Land Survey & Astronomy
    ,
    Volume 2, Edition 2, 262 pages, by Andis Kaulins.

  • Both volumes have the same cover except for the labels "Volume 1" viz. "Volume 2".
    The image on the cover was created using public domain space photos of Earth from NASA.

    -----

    Both book volumes contain the following basic book description:
    "Alice Cunningham Fletcher observed in her 1902 publication in the American Anthropologist
    that there is ample evidence that some ancient cultures in Native America, e.g. the Pawnee in Nebraska,
    geographically located their villages according to patterns seen in stars of the heavens.
    See Alice C. Fletcher, Star Cult Among the Pawnee--A Preliminary Report,
    American Anthropologist, 4, 730-736, 1902.
    Ralph N. Buckstaff wrote:
    "These Indians recognized the constellations as we do, also the important stars,
    drawing them according to their magnitude.
    The groups were placed with a great deal of thought and care and show long study.
    ... They were keen observers....
    The Pawnee Indians must have had a knowledge of astronomy comparable to that of the early white men."
    See Ralph N. Buckstaff, Stars and Constellations of a Pawnee Sky Map,
    American Anthropologist, Vol. 29, Nr. 2, April-June 1927, pp. 279-285, 1927.
    In our book, we take these observations one level further
    and show that megalithic sites and petroglyphic rock carving and pictographic rock art in Native America,
    together with mounds and earthworks, were made to represent territorial geographic landmarks
    placed according to the stars of the sky using the ready map of the starry sky
    in the hermetic tradition, "as above, so below".
    That mirror image of the heavens on terrestrial land is the "Sky Earth" of Native America,
    whose "rock stars" are the real stars of the heavens, "immortalized" by rock art petroglyphs, pictographs,
    cave paintings, earthworks and mounds of various kinds (stone, earth, shells) on our Earth.
    These landmarks were placed systematically
    in North America, Central America (Meso-America) and South America
    and can to a large degree be reconstructed as the Sky Earth of Native America."

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