Advertising policy? Or social manipulation strategy?

Courtesy of a link from Jeff Soyer, I note that Google is about to ban advertisements for various firearm-related items from its Web search engine.  They’re classifying all of them as ‘Dangerous Products’.  Here’s a screen capture of the relevant portion of their Web page (click the image below for a larger, more readable view). Note that all the products whose advertising they intend to ban are fully legal.  They’re not being banned because of their legality, but because of Google’s own philosophy, or values, or whatever you want to call it.  In doing so, they’re going to affect millions

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Facebook users, how does it feel to be a guinea-pig?

That’s clearly what you are in Facebook’s opinion – experimental subjects, just like rats in a laboratory.  (Bold underlined text is my emphasis.) Over 600,000 Facebook users have taken part in a psychological experiment organised by the social media company, without their knowledge. Facebook altered the tone of the users’ news feed to highlight either positive or negative posts from their friends, which were seen on their news feed. They then monitored the users’ response, to see whether their friends’ attitude had an impact on their own. . . . Facebook were able to carry out the experiment because all

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LibertyCon report

So far, apart from the hotel, the 27th annual LibertyCon has been a very enjoyable experience.  I’ve done two book-signing sessions, one general introduction session, one panel with Miss D. and one general panel, and I have a final session for local authors tomorrow morning.  I’ve enjoyed the interaction with readers, and I’ve definitely noticed a bounce in my book sales from convention attenders.  As of the time of writing, my latest book is third from the top on Amazon.com’s list of ‘Hot New Releases in Military Science Fiction‘ and seventh in ‘Hot New Releases in Space Opera Science Fiction‘. 

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A century-old murder solved?

I was intrigued to read that the notorious 1909 murder of New York City police officer Joseph Petrosino may have been solved at last.  The Telegraph reports: Police in the Italian island of Sicily believe they may have solved the century-old mob murder of a New York detective. Joe Petrosino, a New York police officer, was shot dead during a mission to the island to collect evidence. The revelation coincided with the arrest of 95 suspected members of two clans involved in extortion rackets in the island’s capital Palermo. After two years of investigations, the arrests went after members of

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The dawn of 20th-century genocide

Tomorrow, 28th June 2014, marks the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife by a Serbian nationalist.  The incident led directly to the outbreak of World War I.  It can legitimately be argued that the event also foreshadowed and ultimately engendered all the genocides of the 20th century.  Consider: Communism took over Russia after the fall of the Tsar towards the end of World War I, and all the massacres for which that political creed has been responsible can therefore be blamed on that event; The Armenian Genocide in Turkey began in 1915, shortly

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That’s about the size of it

I found this image over at Mike Miles’ place (site often NSFW). Can anyone doubt that most Americans now view the IRS in this light – as a partisan, biased, politically motivated agency that serves the Democratic Party rather than the nation? I think this is an opportunity for those who favor the so-called ‘flat tax‘ or ‘FairTax‘ proposals.  Quite apart from the appeal of such ideas in other ways, their simplicity means that the IRS as we know it could simply be disbanded.  There would be no need for so great an army of regulators to wade through the

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What happens when you don’t train enough replacements

I note with interest that Japanese airlines are going to have to cancel thousands of flights this year because many of that country’s older pilots are being forced to retire – and there aren’t enough younger ones to replace them.  The same problem will affect US airlines to an increasing extent in the near future. Like it or not, I think this will drive the development of automatically piloted aircraft to an ever-increasing extent.  Just as automatically piloted cars are now being tested, so expect this technology to extend to the airlines sooner rather than later.  At present each major

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Yep – those are economic red lights, sure enough

Last week I published two articles dealing with our economic decline, which appears to be growing more precipitous by the day. Yesterday came the news that the revised figures for US Gross Domestic Product during the first quarter of 2014 fell by a massive 2.9% (after being initially announced as much better than that).  Make no mistake – this is an economic disaster.  The pundits are already trying to claim that it’s the result of bad winter weather, and that things will be better next quarter – but any improvement will probably be the result of deliberate data massaging. I

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Need computer guru help, please

I’m trying to solve a friend’s problem, and need some computer advice, please. She has an Acer Chromebook computer, which has no built-in operating system, but runs off the Web using cloud computing and apps for all its software and data.  She would like to be able to run local applications such as LibreOffice, and also store data locally (e.g. large quantities of music, etc.). I think it should be perfectly possible to load a variant of Linux onto her Chromebook, but would that also negate its use as a Chrome computer?  Which variant of Linux would work best on

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