The state of the Bill of Rights

A man who stripped nearly naked to make a point about his constitutional rights scored a victory today after forcing airport personnel to study up on the First and Fourth Amendments, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Aaron Tobey, known as the “4th Amendment Flasher,” was arrested in 2010 by the Transportation Security Administration and Richmond International Airport security after stripping down to his underwear – much beyond the point mandated by protocol – with a portion of the Fourth Amendment written on his chest in black marker: “The right of the people to be secure…against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.”

Though charges were ultimately dropped, Tobey sued the TSA and the airport, and following a year and a half of legal proceedings the respective organizations involved have now settled. The details of the settlement read like a civil libertarian fantasy realized, and involve Richmond’s airport security personnel being forced to brush up on American Government 101:

“Richmond International Airport officials announced this week that their security officers underwent a special two-hour training course on the First and Fourth Amendment rights of passengers as a part of a settlement with Mr. Tobey,” writes WSJ‘s Jacob Gershman.

The TSA, as part of a separate settlement that likewise involved no monetary payout as originally sought by Tobey, appears somewhat less humbling. The TSA has “agreed not to appeal the ruling or further prosecute Mr. Tobey for interfering with TSA procedures,” Gershman informs.

Moral of the story: The Fourth Amendment applies only after years of legal skirmishes.

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

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The decline and fall of Detroit

(National Review) By the time Detroit declared bankruptcy, Americans were so inured to the throbbing dirge of Motown’s Greatest Hits — 40 percent of its streetlamps don’t work; 210 of its 317 public parks have been permanently closed; it takes an hour for police to respond to a 9-1-1 call; only a third of its ambulances are driveable; one-third of the city has been abandoned; the local realtor offers houses on sale for a buck and still finds no takers; etc., etc. — Americans were so inured that the formal confirmation of a great city’s downfall was greeted with little more than a fatalistic shrug.

But it shouldn’t be. To achieve this level of devastation, you usually have to be invaded by a foreign power. In the War of 1812, when Detroit was taken by a remarkably small number of British troops without a shot being fired, Michigan’s Governor Hull was said to have been panicked into surrender after drinking heavily. Two centuries later, after an almighty 50-year bender, the city surrendered to itself. The tunnel from Windsor, Ontario, to Detroit, Michigan, is now a border between the First World and the Third World — or, if you prefer, the developed world and the post-developed world. To any American time-transported from the mid 20th century, the city’s implosion would be literally incredible: Were he to compare photographs of today’s Hiroshima with today’s Detroit, he would assume Japan won the Second World War after nuking Michigan. Detroit was the industrial powerhouse of America, the “arsenal of democracy,” and in 1960 the city with the highest per capita income in the land. Half a century on, Detroit’s population has fallen by two-thirds, and in terms of “per capita income,” many of the shrunken pool of capita have no income at all beyond EBT cards. The recent HBO series Hung recorded the adventures of a financially struggling Detroit school basketball coach forced to moonlight as a gigolo. It would be heartening to think the rest of the bloated public-sector work force, whose unsustainable pensions and benefits have brought Detroit to its present sorry state (and account for $9 billion of its $11 billion in unsecured loans), could be persuaded to follow its protagonist and branch out into the private sector, but this would probably be more gigolos than the market could bear, even allowing for an uptick in tourism from Windsor.

So, late on Friday, some genius jurist struck down the bankruptcy filing. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina declared Detroit’s bankruptcy “unconstitutional” because, according to the Detroit Free Press, “the Michigan Constitution prohibits actions that will lessen the pension benefits of public employees.” Which means that, in Michigan, reality is unconstitutional.

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I know of no country where there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America.

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy In America.

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The increasingly lawless law

(National Review Online) After today’s rulings by the Supreme Court, every American has a larger stake in the outcome of the marriage debate. No one can afford to stay out of this issue because these decisions today constitute a huge threat to our democratic process.

The Proposition 8 ruling is the most disturbing. Though the Court chose not to rule on the merits, it did establish a terrible precedent, ruling that citizens who pass an initiative do not have the legal right or standing to defend that law when elected officials refuse to do their job and defend the duly enacted law in court.

This amounts to a pocket veto which politicians will abuse in the future, and not just on marriage. Within hours of the ruling, Governor Jerry Brown of California announced that California clerks would be forced to issue same-sex couples marriage licenses within 30 days, even though Prop 8 remains the law in California. The ruling invites abuse and will inevitably result in further bitter litigation.

The DOMA decision is also bad. The majority opinion written by Justice Kennedy implies that the members of Congress who passed DOMA overwhelmingly were motivated in part due to “improper animus” towards gay and lesbian people.

Can anything be more poisonous to our public discourse than saying that the law can treat individuals who stand for the truth of marriage as guilty of improper animus? How long will it be before enterprising activists cite Kennedy’s decision in court cases brought against people who disagree with same-sex marriage?

We all should care about preserving marriage. But everyone who cares about the broader principles of democracy and fair-minded public discourse should start speaking up now, and loudly, about what is at stake.

— Thomas Peters is communications director of the National Organization for Marriage.

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Most highlighted passages from Juggernaut

One of the great aspects of electronic literature is the statistical information provided by linked users. Before e-book readers like the Kindle and Nook, there was no practical way to share information like commonly highlighted passages. Now, it is as easy as a flip of the switch. Here is a list of the most popular passages from the book as of June 30, 2011 (it’s also a good summary of the theory):

It is a truth widely recognized that tyranny stems from the consent of the governed as much as democracy does.
24 Highlighters

In short, self-rule is workable only when a people are self-sufficient enough to reject the hierarchic system as it stands.
24 Highlighters

As Molina found, the irony of collective ownership is that it spurs more selfishness than does private ownership.
22 Highlighters

Communal ownership means that all benefit for a short time; private ownership means that few people benefit over the course of an extended period of time.
18 Highlighters

It is not a leap to suggest that all of the distinctive advances made between 1500 and today, for better or worse, were directly or indirectly brought about by the dissolution of feudal bonds and the rise of individual autonomy.
17 Highlighters

Compare with two years ago:

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To a government that has forgotten its place

(The Objective Standard) On June 4, Becky Gerritson, a founder of the Wetumpka Tea Party in Alabama, testified before congress about the IRS’s abusive practices toward Tea Party groups. Her poignant words deserve repeating.

Gerritson began by explaining what motivated her to become involved in the Tea Party movement:

In order to paint a clear picture, I need to explain how the Wetumpka Tea Party came into being. My husband and I had never been involved in politics before 2008. We’d always been patriotic and deeply proud of our country. We’ve always felt that the United States is the greatest country in the world. In September 2008, when we had our first $700 billion “bailout,” we along with millions of Americans were very concerned. That bailout was confirmation that our government was out of control. . . . We were worried, and we knew we had to do something to sound the alarm. . . . The government was mortgaging America’s future. And we knew that Washington wasn’t going to stop by itself.

Then Gerritson lambasted the government for discriminating against Tea Party groups:

In Wetumpka, we are patriotic Americans. We peacefully assemble. We petition our government. We exercise the right to free speech. And we don’t understand why the government tried to stop us. I am not here as a serf or vassal. I am not begging my lords for mercy. I’m a born free American woman, wife, mother and citizen. And I’m telling my government that you’ve forgotten your place. It’s not your responsibility to look out for my well-being, and to monitor my speech. It’s not your right to assert an agenda. Your post, the post that you occupy, exists to preserve American liberty. You’ve sworn to perform that duty. And you have faltered.

I would likely disagree with Gerritson on various issues. But, hearing these courageous words in defense of liberty, I can only thank Gerritson for speaking them to Congress—and urge Congress to listen.

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Fighting corruption with corruption

How do a people protect themselves against a government when that government is the only way to protect them?

(Ad-In) We heard recently that the Department of Justice will be investigating the unconstitutional actions of the IRS as they targeted and intimidated groups based on their political affiliation, business that is eerily similar to the political intimidation used by tyrants.

That’s great and all, but wasn’t Obama’s Justice Department in charge of letting guns walk to Mexican drug cartels and ended up getting US Border Patrol agents killed? And wasn’t the DOJ guilty of illegally stealing thousands of phone records from the Associated Press?

That’s great the IRS corruption will be investigated, but I think the American people would feel a lot better if they were being investigated by a legitimate justice system instead of one that resembles more like a third-world dictatorship.

Perhaps an alternative is called for. Is there a third party that can litigate against the government that so obviously cannot litigate itself?

Juggernaut cometh.

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Murray Rothbard on the founding of the Federal Reserve 100 years ago

A speech by Murray N. Rothbard. Presented at the Mises Institute’s 1984 “Seminar on Money and Government,” in Houston, Texas.

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The most sacred of the duties of a government is to do equal and impartial justice to all its citizens.

Thomas Jefferson.

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Juggernaut audio book now available

We are excited to announce the release of the audio book format of Juggernaut, which is now available on as well as on iTunes and The narrator is Fred Filbrich, whose steady, authoritative voice lends well to the monumental ideas housed within the text. Coming in at 19 hours, 22 minutes, the audio book is a grand production that will surely open up new avenues toward the end of disseminating a crucial understand of the modern politico-economic system. The more ways these ideas can be accessed, the better!

Sample the production and buy now:

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Homeschooled kids are the future of liberty

(Forbes) The modern homeschool movement comes largely by Christians aghast over an academic establishment overrun by progressives. Schools long ago became laboratories for instilling statism and distilling politically correct groupthink. Values clarification anyone? With public education increasingly geared toward multicultural agitation against America’s godly heritage, many parents resolved to safeguard the hearts, souls and minds of their young.

At least 1.5 million students receive home-based academic instruction. The ranks of homeschoolers are rising rapidly across every social strata, faith and ethnicity. While many families lack sufficient means for someone to stay home, it’s not generally those affluent enough to afford exclusive parochial education. The highest homeschool participation appears in households with incomes ranging from$25,000 to $75,000. The homeschool community reflects a cross-section of Americans; the children of truck drivers and lawyers, whites and blacks, rich and poor, Christians and unbelievers.

What is civilization save passing to posterity the accumulated prosperity, cultural achievements, customs and mores of our forbearers? In the American context this includes self-reliance. Parents are the primary medium for rearing children. Should liberty endure, America must restore her multi-generational perspective, lately befuddled by Leviathan permeating life.

We have two principle tutors, lessons learned via individual experience and the wisdom amassed by our ancestors. Progressives have purposely uprooted America’s multi-generational perspective for many decades. Woodrow Wilson, who prior to the White House presided over Princeton, wrote, “The use of a university is to make young gentlemen as unlike their fathers as possible.”

Not to besmirch the many fine teachers, but an education establishment intent on discrediting tradition as a compass has rendered much of America’s youth adrift with only the pittance of personal experience to navigate their course. Students are prodded to disdain the independent spirit and biblical morality which birthed America’s exceptionalism. But casting aside the wisdom of our fathers comes at great peril.

Edmund Burke admonished “The individual is foolish, but the species is wise.”

J. Gresham Machen, the foremost defender of fundamentalism in the modernist controversy of the past century, also led the battle against compulsory public education. A fierce libertarian, Machen cautioned, “If you give the bureaucrats the children, you might as well give them everything else as well.”

We have. See election 2012.

Barack Obama – who spent his past assailing the American system – would not be president without overwhelming support from twenty-somethings imbued with a reverence for the state. No longer the family tree, “government is the only thing we all belong to” claims the ruling party.

Ron Paul senses the urgency, “Expect the rapidly expanding homeschool movement to play a significant role in the revolutionary reforms needed to rebuild a free society with constitutional protections.” Dr. Paul warns, “We cannot expect a federal government controlled school system to provide the intellectual ammunition to combat the dangerous growth of government that threatens our liberties.” Proving his point, homeschool parents were instrumental behind several UN treaties stalling in the Senate.

Like the local self-government formed indigenously by settler communities on America’s frontier, homeschoolers spontaneously built a support apparatus from the ground up. The free market at work, parents can readily access almost any curricula, subject matter or activity.

The Department of Education’s Dr. Patricia Lines countered the notion of homeschoolers withdrawing from America’s social fabric, “Like the Antifederalists these homeschoolers are asserting their historic individual rights so that they may form more meaningful bonds with family and community. In doing so, they are not abdicating from the American agreement. To the contrary, they are affirming it.”

A misperception persists that homeschooled children lack social skills. Dr. Brian Ray, of the National Home Education Research Institute, surveyed seven thousand adult graduates of homeschools. His research reveals they are significantly more likely to participate in community service initiatives, join civic, religious or business organizations and be politically involved. A limited study by J. Gary Knowles found no homeschool graduates who were unemployed or residing on welfare.

Unless socialization means sassing their parents, as confirmed by Dr. Larry Shyers, homeschooled children exhibit significantly less behavioral problems than other students. Public schools nurture self-esteem. Homeschooling cultivates character allowing children to flourish into responsible citizens. Moreover, Dr. Ray concludes adults taught at home retained their parent’s worldviews far more frequently than peers. Students learning at home absorb much less liberal cant.

Homeschooled kids don’t lack socialization . . . but socialism.

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Bazos’ Blue Origin makes new frontier believable

One of the solutions explained in Juggernaut is to create new frontiers, and the most sensible place for a new frontier is space–the final frontier as it might be known. Of course, building a space ship and having the government get to the moon does not make a new frontier. A frontier is only viable in the minds of us here if the thought of migrating freely and expanding civilization to the frontier is feasible to the average man. Thanks to Amazon’s Jeff Bazos, we are seeing the potential for such a feasible new frontier. His project is called Blue Origin, and, as it is designed to be “reliable, cost-effective human access to space”, it might be the enterprise that truly opens space as a new viable frontier.

(Blue Origin) Blue Origin, LLC is developing technologies to enable human access to space at dramatically lower cost and increased reliability. This is a long-term effort, which we’re pursuing incrementally, step by step. We’re currently focused on developing reusable launch vehicles utilizing rocket-powered Vertical Take-off and Vertical Landing (VTVL) technology.


Our New Shepard system will take astronauts to space on suborbital journeys. The New Shepard vehicle includes a Crew Capsule carrying three or more astronauts atop a separate rocket-powered Propulsion Module, launched from our West Texas Launch Site.

Following liftoff, the combined vehicles accelerate for approximately two and a half minutes. The Propulsion Module then shuts off its rocket engines and separates from the Crew Capsule. The Propulsion Module will finish its flight, descend to Earth, and autonomously perform a rocket-powered vertical landing.

The Crew Capsule will go on to coast to the edge of space, providing astronauts with a view to the curvature of the Earth and the beauty of our planet. After descent and reentry into Earth’s atmosphere, the Crew Capsule will land under parachutes near the launch site.

In addition, the New Shepard vehicle will provide opportunities for researchers to fly experiments into space and a microgravity environment.

In the future, our orbital program will use some of the same reusable launch vehicle technologies we pioneer in our suborbital program.

Conventional first stage booster rockets are expendable. This conventional approach has two major drawbacks. The lack of flight testing prior to first use makes reliability a challenge. The fact that each mammoth vehicle is thrown away after a single use contributes to the staggering cost of spaceflight.

Blue Origin is developing a reusable first-stage booster. It will take off vertically like a conventional booster rocket and lift the upper stages to a conventional suborbital staging point, where the upper stage will separate and continue to propel the astronauts to orbit. Once separated, the first stage booster will descend to perform a powered vertical landing similar to the New Shepard Propulsion Module. Then the orbital booster can be refueled and launched again, allowing improved reliability and lowering the cost of human access to space.

The booster rocket will loft a biconic Space Vehicle to orbit, carrying astronauts and supplies for adventure, science research, and exploration. After orbiting the Earth, the Space Vehicle will reenter Earth’s atmosphere to land on land under parachutes, and then be reused on future missions to Earth orbit.

The technical challenges of escaping Earth’s gravity well and reaching orbit have never been trivial, and are compounded when higher reliability and lower cost are required. We are working patiently, step by step, to reach these long-term goals.

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Stock market near all time high…so is money supply

(Freakonomics) U.S. stock markets* are flirting with all-time highs (it may happen today) but I am hearing and reading very little about it. Why is that?

I can think of a few possible reasons, and am eager to hear yours.

1. After the spectacular meltdown of 2007-2009, a lot of people are generally gun-shy and/or inattentive.

2. Since so many people sold into the teeth of the meltdown, and stayed on the sidelines since, a new high is to them relatively bad news.

3. Because the economy itself is not quite roaring, a roaring stock market doesn’t seem legit (unless, of course, you consider it a leading indicator, which it usually is).

4. Just “getting back” to an all-time high from more than five years ago is, at best, a muted victory.

All that said, I remain surprised by the lack of chatter.

I can think of another reason:

5. The money supply is beyond record levels with all the artificial liquidity that has been pumped into the economy over the last five years. To see the stock market at this level is not really that impressive considering.

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Pushing things forward in medical research

(Reason) Jack Andraka is not your typical cancer researcher. His first research project resulted in a non-invasive, simple, sensitive, and effective test for detecting pancreatic cancer. His test is

168 times faster than any currently available test;
26,000 times less expensive (that is not a typo);
potentially 100 percent accurate;
and capable of producing a diagnosis before the cancer becomes invasive.
It will come as no surprise that Andraka’s project won the 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) Grand Prize ($75,000). It may come as a big surprise that Andraka is 16 years old. He won the Intel ISEF when he was 15.

According to a recent article at, and a TEDXTalk by Andraka, pancreatic cancer is non-symptomatic, meaning that it cannot be detected until very late in the course of the disease. And with late detection comes a very high mortality rate. Only 5 percent of diagnosed patients will live for five years, with the average lifespan after detection only three months. Forty thousand people die of pancreatic cancer each year. And yet, with early detection, survival could be close to 100 percent.

Andraka’s test uses a strip of filter paper treated with a mixture of carbon nanotubes and antibodies that are sensitive to mesothelin, a protein produced by the pancreatic cancer. A single drop of blood and subsequent measurement of the electrical resistance of the paper strip is all that is required for a definitive result. The cost is 3 cents. The time needed is five minutes. And the test can readily become a standard part of a routine physical exam.

Compare Andraka’s test with the current gold standard of protein detection: a sixty year old technique that misses 30 percent of cancer victims, costs $800 per test, and is not covered by insurance.

Although much work remains to be done, Andraka has discovered a technique that can be applied to many forms of cancer, waterborne and airborne viruses, and blood pathogens such as AIDS and STDs. His current test has already proven effective on both ovarian and lung cancer.

Thanks to Andraka’s brilliant use of scientific methods, his hard work, and his dedication to an idea, we may soon enjoy a world in which far fewer people suffer and die from disease. Not only will we and our loved ones be able to live longer, happier lives; we will also benefit from future Steve Jobses, Patrick Swayzes, Henry Mancinis, Sally Rides, and Wernher Von Brauns, who, rather than succumbing to wretched diseases will continue living and filling our world with wonderful, life-serving values.

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How to challenge the authorities when the authorities are in the wrong

A few videos have recently surfaced showing regular people resisting police and federal agent stops and searches. These videos will definitely get the blood pumping because of the clear examples of freedom struggling to survive in the modern world. More than anything, the videos give regular citizens a playbook of how to challenge the authorities when the authorities are in the wrong.

This first video shows people defying the routine stops and searches at border patrol checkpoints. As we can see in the video, the officers are not used to people defying their requests and are sometimes flummoxed as to how they can proceed. Supervisors are called in to debate. Eventually, most of the scenarios end with the officers letting the people go.

Checkpoints (some would say illegal checkpoints) have been popping up quite frequently in the USA. As you see in this video, you DO NOT have to comply with their question’s or demands. Don’t forget, you have rights.

This second video shows a single incident of a person carrying a gun being stopped by a police officer. He throws out names of three Supreme Court cases that bamboozle the officers and eventually let him proceed on his way.

The cases the man mentions are: Delaware v Prouse, US v DeBerry, Terry v Ohio, and Brown v Texas.

It is not known whether these cases will prevent illegal searches and seizures in different situations, but they are probably good to understand nonetheless.

Here’s to figuring out a way to defy the TSA.

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The Overview Effect–the psychology of looking back from space

(The Overview Effect) Who would have thought traveling to outer space could be such a profound experience? OK, probably everybody, but these former astronauts really articulate it in a way that was just a little mind-blowing.

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A Republican criticism of Libertarianism

Author Ann Coulter discusses what the GOP stands for on Stossel. She has some valid points, including “Get rid of the Welfare State, and then we can talk.”

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An argument against political correctness and fiscal irresponsibility

(Illinois Review) At Thursday morning’s National Prayer Breakfast, Dr. Benjamin Carson, a celebrated pediatric neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital, gave a 25-minute long keynote address that directly refuted the key tenets of President Barack Obama’s liberal agenda – with Obama sitting just feet away.

Dr. Carson attacked political correctness as “horrible” and dangerous. Dr. Carson credited personal responsibility, not government assistance, for taking from a childhood of poverty to a lifetime of success.

Dr. Carson attacked fiscal irresponsibility, instead urging restrained spending. “One of our big problems right now…our deficit is a big problem. Think about it — and our national debt — $16 and a half trillion dollars,” said Dr. Carson as Obama watched. Obama increased the federal debt by $5.8 trillion in his first term, the worst ever increase in a presidential term.

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Good reads–One World Schoolhouse

Salman Khan’s One World Schoolhouse is a brief summary of mass education, where it’s been, and where it ought to go. It would be difficult to find a more comprehensive, big-picture, and revolutionary argument on the subject. Luckily, Khan is engaging, insightful, and hilarious in his writing, and so the ideas in this book are very accessible. Altogether, The One World Schoolhouse stands as a great monument in modern education theory and a testament to the wonders of the Internet.

The author frames his survey with the story of his own novel education system, the Khan Academy, which consists in 3,000+ YouTube videos aimed at self-guided instruction from kindergarten up through to college-level courses. This story is fascinating in itself and provides yet another example of a brilliant mind making the most of modern technology.

But the real crux of this book comes in the education theory. As an organic result of his stint in school and his foray into tutoring, Khan developed a view of education that is at once commonsensical and utterly revolutionary. It started with a few basic observations: The education system as it stands is broken, these breaks are pervasive and endemic, and our proposed solutions are only making things worse.

Anyone who has been through school recently can relate: Classes that strip relevance from the subject matter and bore students, overwhelmed teachers, and a system that slows the gifted and incentivizes delinquency. What Khan discovered is that the current system is set up based on an outdated and outmoded framework and remains almost wholly due to inertia.

His solutions are centered on technology and encourage the use of tutorials like those featured in his academy. Though he says that most are not new, this reader has not come across many of them. Two struck me as absolutely brilliant: Mastery Learning (ensuring 100% mastery of core concepts before moving on to the next subject) and flipping the school day (homework at school and lectures at home). These two alone, coupled with modern techne, constitute a revolution in education.

The reader will note that most of his writing is light and he doesn’t delve deeply into the admittedly murky concepts he touches on. One will pine for a more thorough understanding of the brain physiology of learning, the mechanics of testing, and the logistics of a school day. But, this book is not designed to get into all of that, and it doesn’t need to–it is magnificent as the high-level overview that it is. One will be thoroughly satisfied with having these ideas expressed at all, and even more so in such an engaging and entertaining way.

Buy the book on Amazon:

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The nauseating irony of the fiscal cliff pay raise

(Weekly Standard) President Barack Obama issued an executive order to end the pay freeze on federal employees, in effect giving some federal workers a raise. One federal worker now to receive a pay increase is Vice President Joe Biden.

According to disclosure forms, Biden made a cool $225,521 last year. After the pay increase, he’ll now make $231,900 per year.

Members of Congress, from the House and Senate, also will receive a little bump, as their annual salary will go from $174,000 to 174,900. Leadership in Congress, including the speaker of the House, will likewise get an increase.

The irony is nauseating. Congress has an 18% approval rating and is stuck in a persistent low streak. They are clearly not getting a raise to compensate for performance. Maybe it’s a cost-of-living increase. Everyone can use a regular pay raise to keep up with inflation, something that’s completely out of congress’ hands. Oh wait….

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