Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Should we go back to paper ballots?

My latest article at Intellectual Takeout

Barbara Simons is a female computer scientist, which means she’s in a minority in the male-dominated computer field.

But she is also a part of a significant minority of tech minds who think that we ought to go back to paper ballots in order to ensure proper security.

Simons, a retired pioneer researcher at IBM is the subject of a feature article in The Atlantic magazine. According to the article, Simons’ has been a voice in the wilderness on the issue of the risks of electronic voting systems. But with concerns about Russian hacking of voting systems that have arisen since the 2016 election, that is now changing.

At the annual Def Con hacker conference in Las Vegas, Simons participated in a staged attack on voting machines. “I lose sleep over this. I hope you will too,” she told the participants, mostly hackers.

Four voting machines had been secured for the event, three of them types still in use. One team of hackers used radio signals to eavesdrop on a machine as it recorded votes. Another found a master password online. Within hours of getting their hands on the machines, the hackers had discovered vulnerabilities in all four.

Reporters who before the 2016 election would have ignored her, crowded around her after the event.

“The problem with cybersecurity,” said Simons, “is that you have to protect against everything, but your opponent only has to find one vulnerability.”

In addition, ballots must be “anonymous and yet verifiable, secret and yet accountable,” says Eric Hodge of CyberScout, a security-services company that advises states and counties.

Paper, Simons said, is the best answer to this riddle. Marked clearly and correctly, it’s a portable and transparent record of voter intent, one that voters themselves can verify, at least while the ballot is still in their possession. It’s also a permanent record, unlike computer memory, which can always be overwritten. “There’s no malware that can attack paper,” Simons said. “We can solve this. We know how to do it.”

Sometimes the most primitive technology is the best.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Has Motherhood Been Politicized?

My most recent post at Intellectual Takeout:

The chief characteristic of postmodern secular liberalism is its tendency to openly deny reality.

The most recent occasion of opposing the obvious is Psychologist Erica Komisar, whose new book, Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters, has come close to causing fainting spells among the Cultural Authorities.

What did Komisar claim in this seemingly innocuous book that has so traumatized our cultural elites?

That “mothers are biologically necessary for babies.”

She also claimed that a mother provides different benefits to a newborn child than a father, and that the absence of mothers can lead to developmental problems for the child later in life.

Komisar came to these conclusions after treating families for three decades, first as a clinical social worker and then an analyst. As she told the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto:

“What I was seeing was an increase in children being diagnosed with ADHD and an increase in aggression in children, particularly in little boys, and an increase in depression in little girls. More youngsters were also being diagnosed with ‘social disorders’ whose symptoms resembled those of autism—‘having difficulty relating to other children, having difficulty with empathy.’”
Taranto says Komisar “started to put the pieces together,” and found that “the absence of mothers in children’s lives on a daily basis was what I saw to be one of the triggers for these mental disorders.” She began to devour the scientific literature and found that it reinforced her intuition.

Of course, this should come as a surprise to no one with any experience of family life. But while Komisar’s opinions are based on both experience and research, there are those who oppose it based on ideology.

Her book has been welcomed on Christian radio and Fox & Friends, but shunned by NPR, and covered coldly by Good Morning America, whose interviewer (according to Komisar) told her before going on air, “I don’t believe in the premise of your book at all. I don't like your book.”

Literary agents rejected her book because it “would make women feel guilty.” She was rejected from a speaking engagement for a similar reason and told, “How dare you.”

Unfortunately, Komisar is an outlier in a world in which ideology now trumps reason, evidence, and common sense.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Why the pedophile scandal in Hollywood was hushed up

My post today at Intellectual Takeout:

According to Hollywood logic, if you sexually harass underage boys, for Heaven's sake don't also say that you're gay.

In recent days, the floodgates have opened, and the cesspool of sexual harassment inside Hollywood is being revealed for all to see.

Hollywood... you know: the people who like to give the rest of us sanctimonious lectures at their self-congratulatory awards ceremonies about how we should act?

It started out with Harvey Weinstein, a film producer and former studio executive. The news about Weinstein has been followed by actresses' accounts of sexual harassment that they received at the hands of other Hollywood figures. 

But as it turns out, Hollywood's male sexual predators are not out only for young (adult) women, but boys. We've moved from sexual harassment to pedophilia.

The first revelation came when Anthony Rapp accused Kevin Spacey of sexual harassment when Rapp was 14 years old. Now it is coming to light that the scandal is much bigger.

Matthew Valentinas, an entertainment lawyer, has produced a documentary film about the sexual abuse of teenage boys in Hollywood called "An Open Secret." On an episode of the WEMU public radio show "1A" that aired on Wednesday of this week, Valentinas described a world in which boys run a gauntlet of sexual predators.

There is, says Valentinas, a "well-coordinated, planned out grooming system in Hollywood which is very well organized." Boys are lured in by the promise of fame and fortune, are then given drugs, get "passed around," all the while having their careers carefully controlled by their abusers.

And, as the title of Valentinas' film attests, this is not something other people in Hollywood didn't know about. But despite this having gone on for years, none of the people who are constantly lecturing the rest of us on our political and social priorities thought to say anything.

They didn't have much to say about the systematic sexual predation that infected the whole industry, but they have plenty to say about one errant remark by Kevin Spacey.

Spacey's depredations are one thing. But you know what many in Hollywood are really steamed about? That he announced he was gay after his lechery was discovered.

Everyone knows it is absolutely impermissible to imply that there is any relation between being gay and pedophilia. Pedophilia is bad, but attributing it to homosexuality is the unforgivable sin.

Why did Spacey reveal this about himself when he did? For the same reason Mark Foley, a Republican congressman from Florida did it in 2006 when it was discovered he had been sexting teenage boys. For the same reason that former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey announced in 2004 that he was a "gay American" in the wake of revelations that he had had an affair with a former male aide.

This is what in-the-closet gay men do when it is publicly revealed that they are pedophiles. They do it because they know that being gay usually earns them cultural bonus points. What they don't count on is that their bonus points are taken away by the very people they're trying to impress, all of whom are standing behind the television cameras mouthing "Shut up, you idiot!!!"

Ever wonder why the "open secret" of male-on-male pedophilia gets hushed up in places like Hollywood? Maybe because it might look bad for a favored political group.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

I will be speaking at the University of Dallas this Saturday, Oct. 7

I will be joining Professor Carol Reynolds and several others at the University of Dallas this Saturday, Oct. 7 to talk about arts education. If you are in the Dallas area, come on down!

For more information on “An Exploration of Beauty,” sponsored by The University of Dallas and Professor Carol and to register for the conference, just go to Professor Carol’s website: ProfessorCarol.com.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Lexington mayor issues open invitation to every crazed White supremacist in the country. Bad idea. #Racism #

From my article at Intellectual Takeout yesterday:
Okay, so the last time someone took down a Confederate monument, hundreds of racists showed up and precipitated a violent class with anti-racist demonstrators some of whom unwisely brought weapons themselves. The result was someone dying. 
Now you're the major of an arguably Southern town, and what do you do? You announce to the country that you're going to take down a Confederate monument. 
Yeah. That'll calm everybody down.
Read the rest here.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Don't believe the line that studying the humanities is a job killer

My newest post at Intellectual Takeout:

Zachary First, Managing Director of the Drucker Institute at Claremont Graduate University, opines at PayScale.com on just how misguided is the question: “Can we, in economic terms, justify investing in a degree in the humanities?”

Read the rest here.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

You Are Here 'A Handmaid's Tale': Now in Feminist Imaginations Everywhere

My newest post at Intellectual Takeout:

And the award for most contrived, unrealistic, and preachy television drama goes to... 
I’ve always thought that the best way to ruin a book’s audience is to make a movie out of it. Once the movie is made (and if it is successful), no one wants to read the book anymore. I'm thinking Lord of the Rings here, The African Queen, Gone with the Wind, Forrest Gump
But ruining the book may be the one and only good thing about “The Handmaid's Tale,” Hulu’s dramatization of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel. It might at least save us the trouble of reading about a young woman who is a concubine in a male-dominated future society brought about through some unexplained and improbable coup ... 
Read the rest at here.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Feminists "clingy sob sisters" with "moldy neuroses"?

From Camille Paglia's new book, Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender, Feminism

“Women will never know who they are until they let men be men. Let’s get rid of Infirmary Feminism, with its bedlam of bellyachers, anorexics, bulimics, depressives, rape victims and incest survivors. Feminism has become a catchall vegetable drawer where bunches of clingy sob sisters can store their moldy neuroses.”

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

National Opposition to Senate Bill 17 Too Late and Too Far Left

Today's press release from the Family Foundation:

LEXINGTON, KY—A new Kentucky law outlining free speech and religious freedom protections for students is being attacked by several national and state groups who claim that it would allow discrimination. The group that pushed for the law for the last two years is defending it.

"We wonder where they were when this bill was being debated in the legislature," said Martin Cothran, a spokesman for The Family Foundation, which lobbied for the bill's passage. "If they had legitimate reasons for opposing the bill, they could have come and told us why they thought religious freedom and free speech threatened their political agenda, but they didn't."

"If these groups are opposed to free speech and religious freedom, they're argument isn't with this bill, they're argument is with the Constitution."

Cothran said the bill, Senate Bill 17, simply underscored existing free speech and religious freedoms by outlining the ways in which students could engage in political and religious discourse in schools. "We live in a state in which a school censored a performance of A Charlie Brown Christmas and at least one person has been jailed for asserting her Constitutional right of free religious exercise."

"The groups now opposing the bill have an ugly history of promoting anti-religious discrimination that responsible policymakers need to distance themselves from."

###

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Why are humans different from animals?

Should human beings be treated differently than other animals?

For most of history, it’s been a widely-held belief that human beings are worthy of special treatment. This belief provides the foundation for the idea of morality, and is the underlying principle behind human rights.

As British philosopher Roger Scruton pointed out earlier this week in the New York Times, "Almost all people believe that it is a crime to kill an innocent human, but not to kill an innocent tapeworm."

Sometimes, Scruton explains, this belief is based on religion: "If, as many people believe, there is a God, and that God made us in His own image, then of course we are distinct from nature, just as He is" ...

Read the rest here at Intellectual Takeout.

Monday, February 27, 2017

CPAC's Pays the Price for Political Promiscuity

My recent post on Milo Yiannopolis being invited--and then disinvited--to CPAC at Intellectual Takeout:

Movement conservatives are finding out that the enemy of their enemy is not necessarily their friend. In fact, the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) seems to be finding out that they are themselves their own worst enemy.

After just having invited Milo Yiannopoulos to speak at its annual conference, it was revealed that right-wing gay provacateur had publicly defended sex between adolescents and older men.

Within twenty-four hours of CPAC inviting him, he was dis-invited. Now the only pearls you'll see worn at CPAC will be worn by women ...

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

AG Beshear says he won't defend one of Kentucky's new prolife laws

The Lexington Herald-Leader ran the story yesterday. I am quoted in the latter part of the story:

Attorney General Andy Beshear said Tuesday he will defend only one of two new laws that limit abortion in Kentucky. 
In a statement, Beshear said his office would defend House Bill 2, which requires doctors to perform an ultrasound and present the results to their patient before providing an abortion, but will not defend any legal challenge to Senate Bill 5, which bans abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Read more here.