Friday, May 22, 2015
Time | “Motorcycle clubs are function of military service, period,” declares William Dulaney, who is both national president of Hell on Wheels Motorcycle Club and a professor of organizational communication at Air University, located on Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. “Chain of command is very strictly adhered to. Its’ about identity for a group of people who, outside this social structure, don’t have much identity. You’re talking about a core identity to a bunch of warriors.”
And yet, even as Harley sales soared and weekend warriors, known derisively by outlaw clubs as RUBs, or rich urban bikers, crowded highways, the clubs that started it all lost a lot of their juice. “Back in the ’80s, or like 1995, dude, gangland, no doubt about it,” Dulaney says. “But those days are gone. ” Federal RICO prosecutions and other law enforcement efforts have dramatically reduced the criminal threat level from outlaw groups, as perhaps has aging. Dulaney now numbers himself among the older generation, and understands the violence in Waco as a problem of kids these days.
“They don’t have years and years if not decades in the subculture, understanding that there is hierarchy,” he says. Young bucks may enjoy the swagger of wearing a leather vest, but they fail to respect the full import of the patches, or “colors,” sewn on the back, he says. The diamond-shaped patch reading “1%” denotes the wearer as a member of the outlaw elite. And the place name — “Texas” — sewn at the base of the vest in the embroidered crescent bikers call the bottom rocker, announces more than a claim on turf.
“The way to understand the bottom rocker, with 1 percenters, is it’s territory, yeah, but it’s responsibility,” Dulaney says. “Because they have responsibility to enforce peaceful coexistence in that area. Because if they don’t, law enforcement will come in and be all over you.”
NYTimes | In much of Brazil, proponents of harsh policing tactics are growing stronger.
Responding to widespread fears in a crime-weary country with more homicides than any other — 50,108 in 2012, according to the United Nations — conservative politicians with law enforcement backgrounds and tough talk on crime collected huge vote counts in recent state and federal elections, bolstering what is often called Brazil’s “bullet caucus” in Congress.
Some bullet caucus members openly celebrate the number of people they killed while patrolling the streets. One rising political star, Paulo Telhada, boasted of killing more than 30 people as a police officer in São Paulo, saying in a recent interview he felt “no pity for thugs.”
“There are parts of the middle class that accept killings by the police as a legitimate practice,” said Ivan C. Marques, director of Instituto Sou da Paz, a group that tracks police issues.
In the state of Rio alone, the police killed at least 563 people in 2014, a 35 percent increase from the year before, according to the state’s Institute of Public Security.
That is significantly more than the F.B.I. recorded for the entire United States, which has a population about 20 times as large as that of Rio State.
Researchers say the reasons for the large numbers of police killings are varied. To begin with, poorly trained and poorly paid police forces in crime-plagued slums are often imbued with a shoot-first instinct stemming from a mixture of fear, paranoia and a sense of impunity.
Some elite units, like the Police Special Operations Battalion in Rio, openly advertise, and even glorify, their lethality. The unit’s symbol is a skull and crossed pistols.
But analysts say such squads are merely the sharp end of larger policing systems in which criminals, or people perceived to be criminals, are considered undesirable elements who cannot be reformed.
As drug gangs control many prisons in Brazil, arresting criminals and sending them to jail is viewed by some police officers as feeding the growth of crime, not reducing it.
Many cases involving the police are registered as “resistance killings” or “deaths in police confrontation,” though rights groups say that the episodes often amount to summary executions.
Thursday, May 21, 2015
themarshallproject | If you thought violent biker gangs were a relic of the Altamont era, Sunday’s shootout at a Waco, Texas restaurant might have come as a shock. A long simmering beef between the Bandidos and Cossacks boiled over into gunfire. When police arrived at the scene, gang members shot at them, too, leaving nine bikers dead, 18 people injured, and 170 suspects in police custody. Over 100 weapons have been confiscated.
The scale of this incident dwarfs a typical urban gang confrontation, says Harold Pollack, co-director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab and an expert on gangs and guns. We talked to Pollack about why biker gang violence typically gets so little attention. He believes the Waco incident confounds our expectations regarding the race and geographic location of people who perpetrate crime, causing us to see biker gangs as more of a “curiosity” than a threat.
How does the shootout in Waco differ from the gang violence you study in Chicago?
I have never encountered a gang incident in Chicago remotely like this. The number of perpetrators involved — not to mention the nine deaths — far exceed the typical urban gang-related shooting. Maybe there was some gang incident in Chicago like this decades ago. But this sort of pitched battle? I’ve never heard of anything like it. If these biker gang members were non-white, I think this would cause a national freak out.
One of the shocking parts of this incident is that after the police arrived, there was a gunfight between the gang members and the authorities.
Urban gangs and criminal organizations very rarely get into gun battles with police. They certainly have access to powerful weaponry. Police around the country periodically capture large caches of AR-15s and other weapons in cities. Yet when they break down the door to a gang safe house or a drug location in a city, whatever weapons might be piled on a mattress in the adjoining room are left where they are. They aren’t picked up and used to attack the police. The people who do attack police are typically cornered individuals or people with serious mental health problems.
These biker gangs have a long history in organized crime. They began with restless, traumatized veterans returning home after World War II. Today, biker gangs still act as a sort of private militia that police can’t always control, patrolling festivals and other events. Why don’t we pay more attention to them?
Geography may be part of the answer. There are not a lot of outlaw biker gangs in gentrifying Brooklyn and other key media centers. Of course, the number of deaths is lower overall with these groups. You don’t have the daily deluge of homicides the way we would in Chicago. But I do think that our views about urban crime are so framed by race and inequality in a variety of ways. When criminal activity seems unrelated to these factors, it doesn’t hit our national dopamine receptors in quite the same way. People tend to view these motorcycle gangs as a kind of curiosity.
dailymail | The waitresses who were working at a Texas restaurant when a massive gunfight broke out over the weekend are revealing the terror they felt as bullets began to fly.
The women, all employees at Twin Peaks sports bar in Waco, have taken to social media to share stories of hiding in freezers, running in fear and their belief that this tragedy could have possibly been prevented in the first place.
And now, after enduring this horrific scene, they all find themselves unemployed.
'What we went through Sunday was scary as s**t,' wrote Alicia Ortiz on her Facebook page.
'I wouldn’t want to have gone through it with anyone else. Being in that freezer with y’all made me see how much of a family we really are.'
She also bemoaned the fact that the restaurant has been closed down in the wake of the incident, and what that means for the staff.
'So the whole restaurant needs to be shut down because of bad management? Peoples jobs need to be lost because of bad management?' she wrote
'We are getting the short end of the stick. And people are blaming all of Twin Peaks like we knew what was going to happen.'
Another employee, Sara Violet Parker, seemed to echo Ortiz's comment, writing on her Facebook; 'Twin Peaks is not to blame, my heart is so heavy for all of my friends who were scared for their lives. Now we are worried none of us have jobs, with bills to pay and some have children to provide for.'
WaPo | Two days after nine people were shot and killed at the Twin Peaks restaurant here, Oddissie Garza can’t seem to shake a single, unnerving thought:
“I was supposed to be there,” she told The Washington Post on Tuesday as she lingered on her porch in a solemn mood. “That keeps running through my mind. I was supposed to be right there at the front where all the fighting was.”
Garza, an easygoing 18-year-old with a shock of pink hair, was often the first person customers saw when they walked into Twin Peaks. She began working at the new restaurant in September as a waitress and was promoted to hostess five months later, placing her just past the front door at the restaurant.
“It was my first job and I was nervous in the beginning, but I found out I had a bunch of sisters in plaid,” she said, referring to the servers’ infamous uniform. “After I got pregnant, I kept this job because of the other girls.”
When she thinks about Sunday’s violence she is less concerned with her own safety than the person she would have been carrying with her. Garza is eight months pregnant with a baby boy, a fact that may have saved her life, she said.
After a long shift on her feet Saturday night, Garza’s legs were swelling and she asked a co-worker if they could trade shifts the next morning.
Her co-worker agreed. The next time she heard from anyone at the restaurant was when they were locked in a freezer as gunfire erupted. Garza got a call from her mother saying something — possibly a shooting — had occurred at work. She immediately texted her friends at Twin Peaks, hoping the rumor was some sort of joke.
HuffPo | Rival biker gangs clashed violently in Waco, Texas, on Sunday afternoon, in a brawl that ultimately left nine gang members dead and at least 18 others injured. As the fight spilled out of a local restaurant and into the parking lot, participants reportedly used fists, chains, knives and later firearms to attack one another. Eventually they exchanged gunfire with police. Waco law enforcement announced Monday that 170 people had been arrested and will be charged with engaging in organized crime.
The brutality terrorized the surrounding community, leading to large-scale evacuations, closed businesses and ongoing fears, though remarkably no physical harm to bystanders.
The incident has temporarily shoved biker gangs and their overwhelmingly white membership into the national spotlight. But these groups -- which the FBI labels outlaw motorcycle gangs, or OMGs -- typically receive far less media attention than urban street gangs, though the biker gangs' criminal networks reach across the country and have erupted violently before.
Sunday's bloodshed reportedly began inside the bathroom of a local Twin Peaks "breastaurant" that has catered to bikers in the past. Between 150 and 200 gang members were apparently inside at the time, and one witness said that as many as 30 gang members were shooting at each other at the height of the battle.
Police have accused the Waco restaurant of being uncooperative in earlier attempts to scale back large and often contentious biker gatherings, and now its clientele has led to serious consequences for management. On Monday, the Twin Peaks corporate office revoked the establishment's franchise, stating that "the management team of the franchised restaurant in Waco chose to ignore the warnings and advice from both the police and our company, and did not uphold the high security standards we have in place to ensure everyone is safe at our restaurants." The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission had already closed the restaurant for a week in order to avoid further possible violence.
Nearby businesses that fell within the police perimeter were also put on lockdown or evacuated following the initial melee. Walmart reportedly closed early Sunday after being cleared. Best Buy, Cabela's and other stores in the Central Texas Marketplace -- the shopping center that contains the Twin Peaks restaurant -- remained closed Monday as the investigation continued.
The manager of a local Denny's told the Austin American-Statesman that a "huge" group of bikers came into her restaurant a few hours after the shooting. Many were served but left abruptly a short time later, some without paying their checks. The manager said a SWAT team showed up minutes after the bikers departed, leaving her and other patrons rattled.
The Waco Tribune reported that "other local dining and drinking establishments" closed early Sunday amid fears that gang members might be looking to resume the violence.
Law enforcement officials in Texas said they've received numerous retaliatory threats from biker gangs following Sunday's incident and have gone on high alert in case of any backlash.
Biker gang violence is not unusual in Central Texas. OMGs play a key role in methamphetamine and marijuana trafficking throughout the region. The FBI says they're involved in cross-border drug smuggling as well as domestic drug trafficking, prostitution, human trafficking and other criminal enterprises. Police said that five OMGs took part in the violence on Sunday, though authorities haven't identified the organizations by name. Fist tap Rohan.
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
questioneverything | One could reasonably argue that I am, after all, biased and will tend to ignore evidence against my basic hypothesis, that civilization must necessarily collapse due to the decline of net free energy (i.e. peak oil combined with declining energy return on investment — EROI — and still growing populations). I am probably not immune to such selective bias. Thus I put it to you, the readers, to let me know of any evidence of some reasonably impactful institutions or organizations that seem to be working and contributing positively to human happiness (please also include estimates of the magnitude of such impact). As I was writing this one possible example did come to mind, if I allow that some kinds of religious experiences are positive (and I do even if I do not believe in most of what religions teach about an ethereal world). The current Pope of the Catholic faith (Francis), it seems to me, has done some worthwhile things that could have a positive impact on the followers of that religion, if not on other states owing to their leaders paying deference to what the Holy See says (e.g. calls for peace). But I reserve judgment of the effectiveness of his reign on the Church. For example, will he ferret out gross behaviors like child sex abuses or financial corruption in the Vatican's dealings?
If you have any contributions please make them in comments here. Let's see what sort of list we come up with. But please do not post examples of dysfunction. We already know so many it would be an act of waste of bandwidth.
Economists' View the “New Normal”
Meanwhile if we just examine the state and trends of the global economy we get a basic picture of the developing collapse. An article in today's New York Times Business section by Tyler Cowen, a professor of economics at George Mason University “Signs of a Shakier New Normal”, May 17, 2015, brought into focus a variety of comments made by a number of neoclassical economists of late (including, from time to time, the titular representative of ‘liberal’ economists, Paul Krugman) that we have entered a new kind of economic situation that they don't quite understand but have labeled “the new normal.” I suppose they are trying to subtly say that they expect the current set of conditions to continue indefinitely into the future. But, their reasons for saying so have nothing to do with their understanding the dynamics of the real economy and making predictions based on their bogus models. They are just tacitly admitting that something unusual is happening and it has persisted long enough now to be acknowledged as possibly permanent.
While the US government and a variety of media talking heads are hailing the “recovery” the reality of life for the vast majority of Americans does not demonstrate recovery. They continue to grow poorer, budgets are stretched even for those who have jobs, the real cost of living is still going up even in spite of the recent relief in energy costs, in short for most people there is no recovery. And that is what these economists are referring to (academically) as the new normal.
NYTimes | The difficulties facing the police and prosecutors were foreshadowed by the last mass arrest of bikers in the United States. In that case, in 2002, three motorcycle gang members were killed and about a dozen others were injured in a shooting and knifing brawl in Laughlin, Nev. The brawl broke out at Harrah’s Casino and Hotel between the Hells Angels and the Mongols, all of whom were attending an annual motorcycle rally. About 120 people were detained by law enforcement. A total of 44 Hells Angels were indicted in federal court, but only seven were convicted. Six Mongols members pleaded guilty to state charges.
“Oftentimes, these mass prosecutions fail because of the overreach,” said Robert Draskovich, a Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer who represented a member of the Hells Angels in the Laughlin case. The charges against his client were dropped. In the Waco case, Mr. Draskovich predicted, “the majority of these people will walk.”
Officials, however, have defended their handling of the arrests and the $1 million bonds. “I set that bond because there was nine people killed, and I felt that was appropriate for the incident that occurred,” said Walter H. Peterson, the justice of the peace in McLennan County who made the decision.
Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton, a spokesman for the Waco Police Department, said the three bikers who had been released — Juan Garcia, Drew King and Jim Harris, all of Austin — were back in custody. The three men were arrested Sunday after they rode up to the scene carrying weapons and wearing motorcyle-gang colors, Sergeant Swanton said. After their release, new arrest warrants were issued for them, and bond was set at $1 million for each, he said.
“They were not mistakenly released,” he added.
Law enforcement officials and gang experts said conflicts between two motorcycle groups, the Bandidos and the Cossacks, had led to the shooting outside a Twin Peaks restaurant in south Waco on Sunday. The shooting, which left nine bikers dead and 18 others wounded, stemmed from both petty disputes and broader tensions over the smaller group, the Cossacks, failing to pay respect, and money, to its larger rival, the Bandidos, officials said.
texas.gov | The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has released the updated Texas Gang Threat Assessment, which was developed to provide a broad overview of gang activity in the state of Texas.
“Gang violence and crime are a chief threat to public safety in Texas, and protecting our communities from these criminals remains a top priority,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “This assessment provides detailed information about the gangs operating in our state, which will enhance the ability of law enforcement to combat these dangerous organizations and their associates.”
The Texas Gang Threat Assessment was developed according to statute, which requires an annual report to be submitted to the governor and Texas Legislature assessing the threat posed by statewide criminal gangs. The report is based on the collaboration between multiple law enforcement and criminal justice agencies across the state and nation, whose contributions were essential in creating this comprehensive overview of gang activity in Texas.
“Gangs represent one of the top organized-crime threats to public safety,” said Sen. Craig Estes, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Rural Affairs and Homeland Security. “The Texas Gang Threat Assessment will serve as a critical tool to assist law enforcement agencies in developing and executing strategies to protect Texans, and I applaud the Texas Department of Public Safety for its efforts in combating this critical threat.”
“The most effective tool in fighting any threat is understanding the enemy. This intelligence report amasses information about gang trends and their relationships that is critical to effectively targeting and disrupting these criminal organizations,” said Rep. Joe Pickett, chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety.
This assessment details the state’s systematic approach to evaluating and classifying gangs in order to identify which organizations represent the most substantial threat. The report reveals that current gang membership across the state may exceed 100,000 individuals.
Additional significant findings include:
- Gangs continue to pose a substantial threat to public safety in Texas and are responsible for a disproportionate amount of crime in our communities.
- Many gangs in Texas continue to work with Mexican cartels to smuggle drugs, weapons, people and cash across the border. The relationships between some gangs and cartels have evolved over the past year due in part to volatility and changes in cartel structures and relationships in Mexico.
- Of the incarcerated members of Tier 1 and Tier 2 gangs, more than half are serving a sentence for a violent crime, including robbery (25 percent), homicide (13 percent), and assault/terroristic threat (15 percent).
- Texas-based gangs, gang members and their associates are active in both human smuggling and human trafficking, which often includes sex trafficking and compelling prostitution of adult and minor victims. Gangs will continue to operate in human trafficking due to the potential for large and renewable profits and the assumed low risk of detection by law enforcement.
- Tango Blast remains the state’s most significant gang threat. The Tier 1 gangs in Texas are: Tango Blast and Tango cliques (more than 8,200 members); Texas Syndicate (more than 4,400 members); Texas Mexican Mafia (more than 5,500 members), and Barrio Azteca (more than 2,000 members).
View the full Texas Gang Threat Assessment.
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
NYTimes | A Duke University professor criticized for an online post comparing blacks and Asians said Monday that it's not racist to discuss what he sees as differences in how the groups have performed in the U.S. over the past few decades.
Political science professor Jerry Hough has been sharply criticized for a response he posted in the online comments section of the New York Times editorial "How Racism Doomed Baltimore," dated May 9. The 80-year-old professor, who is white, has been on an unrelated academic leave for the past school year.
In his online comments, Hough wrote that Asians have been described as "yellow races" and faced discrimination in 1965 at least as bad as blacks experienced. Of Asian-Americans, he wrote: "They didn't feel sorry for themselves, but worked doubly hard."
The posting goes on to say: "I am a professor at Duke University. Every Asian student has a very simple old American first name that symbolizes their desire for integration. Virtually every black has a strange new name that symbolizes their lack of desire for integration."
In an email Monday to The Associated Press, Hough defended his comments but said it's difficult to be subtle in a post on a newspaper's comments section with a limited word count.
"I only regret the sloppiness in saying every Asian and nearly every black," he wrote in the email. "I absolutely do not think it racist to ask why black performance on the average is not as good as Asian on balance, when the Asians started with the prejudices against the 'yellow races' shown in the concentration camps for the Japanese."
Hough described himself as a disciple of Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1950s who supported integration. In his lifetime, he said, he's observed prejudice ranging from the World War II-era internment camps for Japanese-Americans to segregation in the South, and he's dismayed that more progress hasn't been made.
"My purpose is to help achieve the battle of King's battle to overcome and create a melting pot America," he said.
dailymail | FoxNews.com reported Monday that on February 25, Ms Chamberlin went on a public Facebook thread and weighed in on a controversial article posted on TheGrio.com condemning Patricia Arquette's Oscar speech, in which she famously said that women deserve to get equal pay for equal work.
The author of the opinion piece, writer and filmmaker Blue Telusma, who is black, argued that African-Americans and members of the LGBTQ community do not owe white women any assistance.
‘I LITERALLY cry and lose sleep over this,’ Ms Chamberlin wrote in reaction to the op-ed, revealing that she had been raped as a child. ‘What this article did was tell me that I'm not aloud [sic] to ask for help… Because I am a WHITE woman… So when I read this article… you do understand what that does to me, right? It kills me…’
In response, a commenter by the name Sai Grundy, who used the same photo as the BU professor on her now-private Twitter account, poked fun at the married mother of two, writing: ‘I literally cry… While we literally die.’
When Mrs Chamberlin replied that she ‘got’ Grundy’s message and assured her that she can now take her ‘claws’ out, the African-American studies professor unleashed a torrent of vitriol in the form of a foul-mouth message partially written in caps.
‘^^THIS IS THE S**T I AM TALKING ABOUT. WHY DO YOU GET TO PLAY THE VICTIM EVERY TIME PEOPLE OF COLOR AND OUR ALLIES WANT TO POINT OUT RACISM. my CLAWS?? Do you see how you just took an issue that WASNT about you, MADE it about you, and NOW want to play the victim when I take the time to explain to you some s**t that is literally $82,000 below my pay grade? And then you promote your #whitegirltears like that’s some badge you get to wear… YOU BENEFIT FROM RACISM. WE’RE EXPLAINING THAT TO YOU and you’re vilifying my act of intellectual altruism by saying i stuck my “claws” into you?’
Chamberlin tried to extricate herself from the tense exchange by writing to Grundy: ‘'I am choosing to "exit" this conversation, You don't know me. I don't know you. It's really as simple as that.'
But Grundy continued piling on and ended up having the last word in the heated back-and-forth.
'^^YOU DONT HAVE TO KNOW ME. what you SHOULD know is that you don't know more about this issue than margenalized women. And instead of entering this conversation with an iota of humility about that, you have made it a celebration of your false sense of victimization. no [sic] go cry somewhere. snce that's what you do.'
Chamberlin signed off with the words: 'Will do.'
Ms Grundy wrote in a separate comment in the thread: 'am I mocking her tears or am I saying that her tears are meaningless displays of emotions because they don't reflect at ALL an intention to understand the issue from the prospective [sic] of women of color and queer women.'
The entire conversation has since been removed from Facebook, along with Saida Grundy's social media account.
Monday, May 18, 2015
WaPo | For $9, you will soon be able to buy an insanely cheap computer the size of a credit card that runs Linux and comes with a 1 GHz processor, 512 MB RAM, 4 GB storage, and built-in WiFi and Bluetooth. While that’s enough computing power to surf the Web, play video games, check e-mail and use word processing software, the real potential is what DIY innovators, hackers and inventors will do with this cheap computing platform once they integrate it into other projects.
The world’s first $9 computer — known as C.H.I.P. — won’t be available for shipping until early 2016. For now, it’s still only a Kickstarter project with nearly a month to go – but the promise and potential of a crazy cheap computer is so alluring that the Oakland, Calif. company behind the project – Next Thing Co. – has already raised more than $925,000 from more than 18,000 backers in just a few days, easily blowing past the $50,000 they had hoped to raise via Kickstarter.
C.H.I.P. comes from the same innovation oeuvre as the $35 Raspberry Pi — a credit-card size computer that is cheap, portable, highly programmable and highly connectable. So if Raspberry Pi has managed to attract a worldwide user community at a price point of $35, you can just imagine what the lower-cost, more powerful C.H.I.P. might be able to do once it attracts a critical mass of users.
Sunday, May 17, 2015
WaPo | There is a race to build quantum computers, and (as far as we know) it isn’t the NSA that is in the lead. Competing are big tech companies such as IBM, Google, and Microsoft; start-ups; defense contractors; and universities. One Canadian start-up says that it has already developed a first version of a quantum computer. A physicist at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, Ronald Hanson, told Scientific American that he will be able to make the building blocks of a universal quantum computer in just five years, and a fully-functional demonstration machine in a little more than a decade.
These will change the balance of power in business and cyber-warfare. They have profound national-security implications, because they are the technology equivalent of a nuclear weapon.
Let me first explain what a quantum computer is and where we are.
In a classical computer, information is represented in bits, binary digits, each of which can be a 0 or 1. Because they only have only two values, long sequences of 0s and 1s are necessary to form a number or to do a calculation. A quantum bit (called a qbit), however, can hold a value of 0 or 1 or both values at the same time — a superposition denoted as “0+1.” The power of a quantum computer increases exponentially with the number of qubits. Rather than doing computations sequentially as classical computers do, quantum computers can solve problems by laying out all of the possibilities simultaneously and measuring the results.
Imagine being able to open a combination lock by trying every possible number and sequence at the same time. Though the analogy isn’t perfect — because of the complexities in measuring the results of a quantum calculation — it gives you an idea of what is possible.
There are many complexities in building a quantum computer: challenges in finding the best materials from which to generate entangled photon pairs; new types of logic gates and their fabrication on computer chips; creation and control of qubits; designs for storage mechanisms; and error detection. But breakthroughs are being announced every month. IBM, for example, has just announced that it has found a new way to detect and measure quantum errors and has designed a new qubit circuit that, in sufficient numbers, will form the large chips that quantum computers will need.
Most researchers I have spoken to say that it is a matter of when — not whether — quantum computing will be practical. Some believe that this will be as soon as five years; others say 20 years. IBM said in April that we’ve entered a golden era of quantum-computing research, and predicted that the company would be the first to develop a practical quantum computer.
academia | Abstract: For the past two decades, it has widely been assumed by linguists that there is a single computational operation, Merge, which is unique to language, distinguishing it from other cognitive domains. The intention of this paper is to progress the discussion of language evolution in two ways: (i) survey what the ethological record reveals about the uniqueness of the human computational system, and (ii) explore how syntactic theories account for what ethology may determine to be human-specific. It is shown that the operation Label, not Merge, constitutes the evolutionary novelty which distinguishes human language from non-human computational systems; a proposal lending weight to a Weak Continuity Hypothesis and leading to the formation of what is termed Computational Ethology. Some directions for future ethological research are suggested.
Keywords: Minimalism; Labeling effects; cognome; animal cognition; formal language theory; language evolution
Saturday, May 16, 2015
Why are you humans mesmerized by the lurid compelling pictures, the practical, pretend, and photoshopped other-worldliness of the demi-humans in the pantheon of celebrity?
What purpose is served by these larger, more perfect, and more colorful avatars that cycle above your pedestrian peasant lives?
Is celebrity-worship a sign of the downfall of western civilization, or, more of the same augmented by new, pervasive, and not entirely understood cognitive distributive media?
Do celebrities serve the same purpose in fin d'siecle western culture as the pantheon of gods did in Greek and Roman culture and the saints did in Roman Catholic culture?