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Zorro

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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 50
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 11,551

Journal Archives

'Everyday Supercar': A New Corvette Puts a Target on Ferrari's Back

From its dream-car debut in 1953 at the Motorama show at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, the Chevrolet Corvette has kept its engine up front, where sports-car tradition says it belongs.

But with sales of many fast, fun cars on the wane — blame the rise of dully practical S.U.V.s, an aging boomer audience or a declining car culture — the Corvette’s creators saw the need for a radical about-face. The 2020 Corvette Stingray has moved its engine behind the driver and passenger, adopting the physics-approved layout that brought Ferdinand Porsche his first racing successes in the 1930s. Today, this approach is associated with money-torching supercars from Ferrari, Lamborghini and McLaren.

The long-awaited “mid-engine” Corvette easily outruns its formidable predecessor, as I learned during a time-warping desert drive near Tortilla Flat, Ariz. The eighth-generation “C8” Corvette is earning rapturous reviews and dominating industry awards, as a car that can take on European exotics that cost $200,000 and more, but at a $59,995 base price that reads like a misprint.

“It’s certainly a great moment in the car business,” said Eddie Alterman, chief brand officer for Hearst Autos and a former editor in chief of Car and Driver. “It’s nothing less than the democratization of the supercar.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/26/business/2020-corvette-stingray.html

A Barrier to Trump's Border Wall: Landowners in Texas

Two days after giving the federal government his signature, Richard Drawe paused with his wife and mother on a levee that his family has owned for nearly a century to watch the cranes and roseate spoonbills.

A border wall that he reluctantly agreed to put on his land will soon divide this Texan family from the whole scene: the levee, a lake, an onion field and all of those birds.

Mr. Drawe, 69, doubts the wall will do much to stop illegal immigration, and though he supports the president who ordered it, he believes that the construction will “ruin” his life. But selling the land early on seemed better and cheaper than facing the government in court, only to have it take the land anyway, he reasoned. The wall, the lights and the roads will be built on about a dozen acres that his grandfather bought in the 1920s, and that will cut him off from the priceless views of the Rio Grande that he cherishes.

“We just finally gave up,” he said. “If they offered me a million dollars to build the wall, I would refuse it if I knew they wouldn’t build it. I don’t want the money. This is my life here.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/26/us/politics/trump-border-wall.html

At least Mr. Drawe will have a view of a beautiful wall.

U.S. Cybercom contemplates information warfare to counter Russian interference in 2020 election

Source: Washington Post

Military cyber officials are developing information warfare tactics that could be deployed against senior Russian officials and oligarchs if Moscow tries to interfere in the 2020 U.S. elections through hacking election systems or sowing widespread discord, according to current and former U.S. officials.

One option being explored by U.S. Cyber Command would target senior leadership and Russian elites, though probably not President Vladimir Putin, which would be considered too provocative, said the current and former officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity. The idea would be to show that the target’s sensitive personal data could be hit if the interference did not stop, though officials declined to be more specific.

“When the Russians put implants into an electric grid, it means they’re making a credible showing that they have the ability to hurt you if things escalate,” said Bobby Chesney, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin. “What may be contemplated here is an individualized version of that, not unlike individually targeted economic sanctions. It’s sending credible signals to key decision-makers that they are vulnerable if they take certain adversarial actions.”

Cyber Command and officials at the Pentagon declined to comment.

The military has long used psychological operations — dropping hundreds of thousands of leaflets in Iraq, for instance, to persuade Iraqi soldiers to surrender to the U.S.-led coalition during the Gulf War. But the Internet, social media and smartphones have vastly extended the reach and precision of such tactics.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/us-cybercom-contemplates-information-warfare-to-counter-russian-interference-in-the-2020-election/2019/12/25/21bb246e-20e8-11ea-bed5-880264cc91a9_story.html

36 Corvettes, Hidden for Years in a Garage, Will Be Given Away



The ’56 starred in “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” with Jerry Seinfeld and Jimmy Fallon in supporting roles. The ’89 is so ’80s — it has one of those early digital dashboards, with a big-digit speedometer, that were panned by aficionados. The ’53, one of only 100 or so that still exist, has been through a 4,000-hour restoration.

They are Chevrolet Corvettes from a legendary collection: 36 ’Vettes, one from each production year between 1953, when the car made its debut, and 1989. For more than 25 years, they have languished in one New York City parking garage or another.

“The cool thing about these cars is the entire collection stayed together all this time,” said Chris Mazzilli, a longtime Corvette enthusiast who is also an owner of the Gotham Comedy Club in Manhattan. He called the cars “the largest Corvette barn-find in history.”

In 2020, they will be given away in a contest. It will be the second time they have served as contest prizes, but this time, the collection will be broken up. There will be 36 winners, not just one.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/23/business/peter-max-corvettes-contest.html

Team Trump wants you to own the 'liberal snowflakes' at your family Christmas party

Ahead of Christmas Day, President Trump’s reelection campaign launched a website featuring videos of talking points it said supporters can use to “win an argument with liberal friends, relatives, and snowflakes” over the holidays.

As Republicans and Democrats have become more divided in recent years, plenty of attention has been paid to navigating political talk over the holiday season — and the question of whether it should be avoided outright. That’s only intensified this year, amid Trump’s impeachment largely along party lines.

Publicized on Christmas Eve, the Trump campaign’s contribution to the conversation is distinctly Trumpian, with its domain name of snowflakevictory.com and its references to the “Russian hoax,” the “fake news media” and the “Democrats’ radical agenda.” And, as with Trump’s rhetoric, it contains statements that fact-checkers have characterized as false or misleading.

The website includes sections titled, “There was no quid pro quo, Democrats always obsessed with impeachment” and “BIG GOVERNMENT SOCIALISM.” Each contains a video of a campaign official delivering pro-Trump arguments in front of an American flag graphic. Triumphant music plays in the background.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/12/24/team-trump-wants-you-own-liberal-snowflakes-your-family-christmas-party/

A Trump Christmas, with ill will to all

What has he done to us?

During the past two weeks of impeachment, my stocking has been stuffed with good cheer from President Trump’s supporters. They describe me variously as a woman, unprintable epithets for a gay person, a Democrat, a “f---ing clown” and an “intel mouthpiece,” a hack and a fraud, a “scumbag” and a “s---head,” a hater who is insufficiently grateful to “white people” and who performs certain unmentionable sexual acts.

But this year I had a ready rejoinder. Thanks to Trump (or so he informs us), “everybody is saying Merry Christmas again” — even a non-Christian like me. So I replied to each abusive impeachment email I received over the past two weeks with two words: Merry Christmas.

The replies show that, in the Trump era, even gestures of peace and goodwill have become sources of bitterness and insult.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/12/23/trump-christmas-with-ill-will-all/

Could Democrats impeach Trump twice? They might have to.

While we wait for Mitch McConnell and the White House to figure out whether they can get away with beginning and ending President Trump’s impeachment trial in an afternoon, a provocative new question has been raised: Once impeachment is over, presumably with an acquittal in the Senate, could House Democrats impeach Trump for a second time?

Don’t dismiss it as an absurd idea just yet. Not only might it happen, but it also might be absolutely necessary. At the very least, considering the possibility will help us understand just how deep our governing crisis could get if Trump wins a second term in office.

This question has come up because of a court case involving former White House counsel Don McGahn, who defied a subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee to give testimony regarding the shocking findings of Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into the Russia scandal.

While Democrats had many questions they wanted McGahn to answer, there was particular interest in one episode that seemed a clear case of obstruction of justice. According to Mueller’s report, in 2017 Trump ordered McGahn to fire Mueller, and McGahn refused and threatened to resign. Then later, Trump ordered McGahn to lie publicly about a newspaper article that accurately recounted the fact that Trump had told him to fire Mueller. Finally, Trump tried to get McGahn to create a false paper trail claiming that his order to fire Mueller had never occurred.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/12/24/could-democrats-impeach-trump-twice-they-might-have/

Colleges are turning students' phones into surveillance machines

When Syracuse University freshmen walk into professor Jeff Rubin’s Introduction to Information Technologies class, seven small Bluetooth beacons hidden around the Grant Auditorium lecture hall connect with an app on their smartphones and boost their “attendance points.”

And when they skip class? The SpotterEDU app sees that, too, logging their absence into a campus database that tracks them over time and can sink their grade. It also alerts Rubin, who later contacts students to ask where they’ve been. His 340-person lecture has never been so full.

“They want those points,” he said. “They know I’m watching and acting on it. So, behaviorally, they change.”

Short-range phone sensors and campuswide WiFi networks are empowering colleges across the United States to track hundreds of thousands of students more precisely than ever before. Dozens of schools now use such technology to monitor students’ academic performance, analyze their conduct or assess their mental health.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/12/24/colleges-are-turning-students-phones-into-surveillance-machines-tracking-locations-hundreds-thousands/

It won't be much longer before every person in the country is monitored 24/7.

BMW Is Under S.E.C. Investigation

Source: New York Times

BMW Group, the German car manufacturer, faces an investigation in the United States by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said Monday.

The inquiry is focusing on the company’s sales practices, and the commission contacted BMW within the last month, said a person briefed on the matter but not authorized to speak publicly about details of the investigation.

One sales practice drawing scrutiny, this person said, is “car punching,” in which some loaner vehicles delivered to dealerships are reported as purchases to improve sales figures.

A spokesman for the S.E.C. said regulators could neither confirm nor deny an investigation. The inquiry was reported earlier by The Wall Street Journal.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/23/business/bmw-sec.html

Will the United States Lose the Universe?

The United States is about to lose the universe.

It wouldn’t be quite the same as, say, losing China to communism in the 1940s. No hostile ideologies or forces are involved. But much is at stake: American intellectual, technical and economic might, cultural pedigree and the cosmic bragging rights that have been our nation’s for the last century.

In 1917, the 100-inch Hooker telescope went into operation on Mount Wilson in California, and Edwin Hubble eventually used it to discover that the universe is expanding. Until very recently, the mightiest telescopes on Earth have been on American mountaintops like Palomar, Kitt Peak and Mauna Kea. They revealed the Big Bang, black holes and quasars.

But no more. In 2025 the European Southern Observatory, a multinational treaty organization akin to CERN but looking outward instead of inward, will invite the first light into a telescope that will dwarf all others. The European Extremely Large Telescope on Cerro Paranal in Chile will have a primary light-gathering mirror 39 meters in diameter, making it 13 times more powerful than any telescope now working and more sharp-eyed than the iconic Hubble Space Telescope.

The European goliath will be able to see the glow of planets orbiting other stars and peer into the black hearts of faraway galaxies. Who knows what else it might bring into view.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/23/science/telescopes-magellan-hawaii-astronomy.html
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