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October 2015

Viewing posts from October , 2015

Truth vs. Fact

I often get asked about my role as a scientist in light of my primary employer. “Have you ever worked for the defense?” How does it feel working for law enforcement?” These are just a few of the questions that I’ve faced in trial.

As a scientist, I really don’t have a dog in the fight. My answer to that line of questioning usually goes like this, “Regardless of who’s signature is on my pay cheque, I work for the Trier of Fact – assisting the judge and jury in correctly interpreting these complex pieces of evidence. The results of my tests are grounded in science. They are reliable and repeatable. My tools and techniques are based on generally accepted, peer reviewed image science. The academic references for the algorithms used, for each of the steps performed, are noted in my report.”

That being said, I have assisted the court in uncovering fraudulent evidence presented as impeachment evidence in People v. Abdullah (BA353334). It could be said, in that case, that I was working in the defense of the accused. But again, I was there to assist the Trier of Fact in correctly interpreting the evidence. In that case, the correct interpretation was that it was a forgery. In Hor v. City of Seattle, I assisted the Trier of Fact in correctly answering the question about if/when a particular sound is heard in a recording (10-2-34403-9SEA) – seemingly in the defense of the City of Seattle – but more correctly in defense of the facts of the matter.

Trier of Fact n. the judge or jury responsible for deciding factual issues in a trial. If there is no jury the judge is the trier of fact as well as the trier of the law. In administrative hearings, an administrative law judge, a board, commission, or referee may be the trier of fact.

Taken a step further, there are certain trade groups that are geared towards law enforcement that will expel a member who is perceived or accused of having worked “for the defense.” The perception is that law enforcement are the “good guys” and the criminal defendants are the “bad guys.” Yet, to an image scientist, a 1 or a 0 is neither good nor bad. They’re just numbers. I’ve worked a few cases where the government’s “experts” got everything completely wrong, their work product was not repeatable nor grounded in science, and thus their conclusion was complete rubbish (scientifically speaking). In these cases, who’s the “good guy” and who’s the “bad guy?”

[As a side note, in the famous treason trial of Aaron Burr, he was defended by Edmund Randolph and Luther Martin, both delegates to the Constitutional Convention and among the most prominent men of the day. The Burr trial is one of the more famous examples of how politics and ego can enter into court proceedings.]

But back to the point, if you’re one of those scientists that think in terms of “good guys” and “bad guys,” are you not biased towards a presupposed outcome – good will overcome evil and the bad guys will be punished? Is this form of presuppositional bias a good thing or a bad thing for scientists who serve the court system? I am certainly not one of those types of scientists. I work the case and the facts are the facts, regardless of who is signing my paycheck.

In the end, A either equals A or it doesn’t.

It’s with this in mind that I received and began to read Ferguson, MO: What Really Happened: A Systematic Scientific Analysis by Bruce E. Krell, PhD.

Truth vs. Fact

If we are to rely upon the media and various special interest groups to inform the Trier of Fact in Ferguson, MO, as to the “truths” of the case, the shooting incident will look a certain way depending on which “truths” are presented. White vs. Black. Powerful vs. powerless. State vs. the people. Bully vs. bullied. Etc. But true experts are relied upon to present facts. In this case, Dr. Krell uses his many years of experience in reconstructing shooting incidents to examine the facts and come to a conclusion. His science is presented without distractions and superfluities. In a very methodical way, Dr. Krell takes the reader through the crime scene to examine what actually happened – what the evidence at the scene says happened.

It’s a thoroughly refreshing point of view – science (facts), as opposed to the many political angles that have been previously presented (truths). It may be uncomfortable to read, but facts are facts. Dr. Krell is working neither for the state or the people, neither for the prosecution or the defense. He’s working for the Trier of Fact, applying the science of shooting incident reconstruction to the evidence in the case.

Three cheers for Dr. Krell, though I doubt the biased media outlets will pick up on this book. Unfortunately, the facts of the matter don’t fit their narrative.

Vermin Supreme Meets With California Libertarians, Discusses Presidential Bid

Might Mr. Supreme appear on the 2016 primary ballot as a Libertarian competitor to the nominee of the National Libertarian Party?  Whether the thought makes you grin, grimace or shrug, Vermin was on hand to greet local Libertarian supporters and help raise funds to support the Southern California Conference of Libertarian Parties planned for January 23, 2016.  The small band of donors met at iconic Chez Jays, in the small private room in the back where Marilyn Monroe was said to have enjoyed intimate dining with JFK back in the day.  Indeed the donors sat on the same vinyl-covered benches that reportedly once supported the shapely rump of Ms. Monroe and the powerful but ill-fated buttocks of Mr. President, and toasted to the good health and electoral success of Mr. Supreme.

Vermin is not just some guy with a lot of Youtube views, a minor celebrity for his performance during the 2012 New Hampshire candidate debate (viewable here) and similar antics.  He is a “serious” candidate, at least one with papers, an official Treasurer and campaign staff, and plans to raise enough money in 2016 to qualify for Federal matching funds.  Talk around the table concerned not only Vermin’s platform for 2016, but also personal history, beliefs and plans for 2016.  Vermin’s 2016 platform is similar to his 2012 platform with some refinements, such as pony drones capable of blasting wedding parties to keep America safe, pony conversion kits to convert domestic pets to animals that more closely resemble ponies, and many other policy proposals too fantastic to believe, but that somehow resonant with the consciousness of those concerned about coercive authority.  Underneath is all is a gentle and perfectly sane soul on a mission to improve the world, if only by providing a stinging parody of an electoral system and powerful government that is increasingly viewed as a source rather than a solution to injustice and poverty.

Beneath the parody of Mr. Supreme’s campaign schtick lies an earnest anti-authoritarian message that resonates with more and more Americans tired of the relentless regulation and increasing criminalization of healthy and productive human action.  Mr. Supreme is an anti-capitalist as well as an anti-authoritarian. His activism grew out of the leftist peace movement of the 1980’s.  Specifically, while residing in Baltimore in 1986, he encountered and was impressed by the Great Peace March For Nuclear Disarmament as it passed through town.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Vermin was committed to leftist political activism from that time on.  He met his wife of 23 years during another activist event, and the two live together in an off-the-grid cabin in the woods, from whence Vermin dreams up his (literally) bitingly satirical campaign platforms and organizes his activism.

It is interesting that an anti-capitalist such as Mr. Supreme is considering running as a libertarian.  Perhaps it is indicative of a wider merging, or at least a coalition, between long-estranged stands of the broader liberty movement.  So long as the the candidate holds strongly to anti-authoritarianism and personal freedom, which is entirely compatible with libertarian principles of non-aggression, most on the right of the divide will find nothing to object to.  In left-leaning California, it will be interesting to see how many votes a combination of Vermin Supreme and a Libertarian banner can attract, although it is possible that many of his supporters will refuse to vote at all, on principle.

 

 

Education is already free, Bernie.

In a recent debate between rivals for the Democrat party’s nomination for the upcoming Presidential election, Sen. Bernie Sanders made several references as to why/how college education should be free in the US. Not to be outdone, our former Secretary of State, Mrs. Clinton, seemed to allude that not only should a college education be free to citizens, but to undocumented migrants as well.

Lost in the weeds of the discussion is the question – do folks want a free “education” or a free “undergraduate degree?” It may seem like a distinction without a difference, but the difference is, as Donald Trump might say, huuuugggge.

First and foremost, education is simply the act or process of being educated. Education is, and has always been, free. Yes, that’s right. It’s a simple process. You identify something that you want to know more about. You find out more about that something. You’re now educated on that something. Simple enough, yes.

As an example, I want to build a strong and durable fence around 3/4 of my property. I don’t want to spend a ton of money, I want to source materials locally, and I want to do it as a project that involves my children’s schooling. My oldest daughter and I set about to educate ourselves as to historical wall/fence building techniques in our rural area, then broadened the search to include techniques from cultures who’ve existed in areas with similar geography and climate. We ended up finding that the beginning of the China’s Great Wall in the Gobi had the right design features and materials to match what we wanted to do. We’ve got plenty of dirt and our local lake has a problem with cat tails / bull rush that need constant clearing (free materials). The info we found even suggested building methods that could easily be adapted to our modern situation. So it is, my daughter and I are now “educated” as to an appropriate building method to construct a wall around our property (I seriously doubt that the original builders of the wall in the Gobi were required to have a degree a degree in structural engineering and certification as a civil engineer).

In another example, I recently completed an on-line class on Human Vision and Perception (continuing education for my profession) at Duke University for free, part of the Coursera project’s offerings. With Coursera, you can take classes from some of the “best” colleges and universities in the world for free.

Pick your topic, and the internet can supply you with a ton of information so that you can educate yourself.

But folks really don’t want an “education.” They want a free “degree.” Amazingly enough, those opportunities exist as well. Check out the University of the People’s web site to find out how to earn a degree in Business Administration or Computer Science on-line for “free.” But even the UOP program isn’t entirely free, there’s still a sign-up fee and fees to take exams. But, it’s pretty cheap.

Ok. We’ve found a “free” degree for folks. That should be it, right? Not even close.

The first objection will be to the on-line format. Then, it will be to the status of their accreditation. Then, the complaints will be towards the ability to leverage the degree earned from UOP in gaining employment (after all, the lawyers on Suits all come from Harvard). All of which are BS. For many young people, the college experience as such is just a 6 year extension of their childhood and a delay of accepting full responsibility for their lives. How many go to college to “find themselves?” I did. Should tax payers have to fund this “fact finding mission?” No.

The way we should handle “education,” if the Libertarians were involved in the discussion, is to focus on the market. Moral capitalism seeks to fill a need. I see that folks need X to make their lives more livable, safe, fun, etc. I provide X at a reasonable price. I make money to support my efforts and folks have their lives enriched. The market reacts to what I’m doing, spurring further innovation. Education, and “finding yourself,” should be centered around finding those things that each of us can do to better our situation and the situation of those around us. We should be raising generation after generation of entrepreneurs, inventors, builders, artists, … We should not be paying for an “education” in General Studies so that the graduate can be a well rounded delivery driver for the local pizza franchise.

Thus, as no one is calling BS on the media or the Democrats, I will. Education is already free. A university degree can also be earned at little/no cost to the student.

So what do they really want?

Willful ignorance or propaganda?

Driving in to work this morning, I was listening to the local public radio station, KPCC. There was a conversation between two hosts about the on-going problems in the Middle East. It contained the usual pleasantries and platitudes before shifting to the involvement by Russia. Then the host said something very odd. She said that US officials simply don’t know what Russia is up to or what is motivating them. Seriously?! Can a radio host be that ignorant? Was this part of the administration’s propaganda war against our old adversary? You be the judge.

First of all, Russia and Syria have been allies for decades. Russia’s Material-Technical Support Point at Tartus, Syria, has been Russia’s naval base since leasing the space in 1971. Now, granted, it was the Soviet Union that leased the space on the Mediterranean coast from the Ba’athists, but the Ba’athists are still in power in Syria and Russia assumed control of the old Soviet military. Why Syria? The old name of the ruling political party might hold a clue. The Syrian wing of the Ba’ath Party used to be called the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party – Syria Region. Socialists do tend to flock together.

Second, and more importantly, this issue is about the flow of gas into Europe. Currently, Gazprom sells a massive amount of natural gas into Europe. They make good money doing so. It’s a safe bet that they’d like to continue the relationship. But, there’s a big deposit of gas off the coast of the Arabian Peninsula. The largest natural gas reservoir in the world – the South Pars/North Dome field in the Persian Gulf, is a resource shared by Qatar and Iran. We know about Iran. Most folks don’t know that Qatar hosts the US and British military presence in the region.

A few years ago there was talk of a new gas pipeline running through Iran and Iraq to Damascus … and then possibly onto Europe via LNG ports off the Syrian coast. Coincidentally enough, this was around the time when the Syrian civil war started.

Nevertheless, the Obama administration has ham-handedly tried to overthrow the Syrian government and usher in regime change in an area ill prepared to handle such a move. The Syrian government, facing such a massive threat turned to its ally in the Kremlin. That ally, the Russian President, made good on promises made and is now cleaning up the countryside of these pesky “rebels” that the US created out of local anti-government militias. Once these militias are gone, the Russians and the Syrians can focus on kicking the Islamic State out of Syria, stabilizing the Syrian countryside.

What I’m saying to you here is all common knowledge. It comes from major media sources. You just have to go looking for it. The US is involved with it’s allies in the Middle East to try to force out a regime that is blocking its plans to build a natural gas pipeline through Iran-Iraq-Syria so that it can compete with Russia for European customers.

THIS is the war in the Middle East that the left warned you about. It is very clearly a war over the control of the area’s natural resources. Yet the left is largely silent – or willfully ignorant.

Let’s at least tell the truth about what’s happening.

Not a single candidate for President of the US that is running on a “major” party ticket is saying these things. That should tell you something right there. The Democrats and the Republicans are heavily invested in this deal (especially the Clintons with their foundation), as well as propping up the House of Saud and continuing the free ride / scam that is the Petrodollar.

Let’s be the party that speaks truth to power. Let’s be the party that ends crazy foreign entanglements. Let’s finally separate the government from big business and stop being the big corporations’ enforcers overseas.

What say you?

Message from the Chair

Dear California LP Members,

 

I want to keep you updated about what’s going on in the Libertarian Party of California.

 

The 2016 state convention will be held on April 1, 2, & 3 at the LAX Hilton Hotel near Los Angeles International Airport. We are lining up an exciting array of speakers and panels, including a forum for our announced presidential candidates. I would like your input as well. Who would you like to see as a speaker at our convention? If you haven’t come to a convention before, what can we offer that would entice you to come? We will have an early-bird package available shortly, so you can save money on attending. Stay tuned for more information.

 

Campaign 2016 is coming up very quickly, and we intend to have as many Libertarian candidates on the ballot as possible. Do you think that your congressman or state legislator is a tax-and-spend, rights-violating statist? Well, you can run against that person – and promote the Libertarian alternative in the process. If you’re interested in running, let me know, and we can discuss what’s involved in being a candidate. Or if you would prefer working on someone else’s campaign, that would be helpful as well. If I don’t hear from you, you may be hearing from me or another candidate recruiter!

 

The Libertarian Party’s visibility is quite low at the moment, and we intend to change that. Our executive director, Janine Kloss, will be working on public relations — especially sending press releases to the media and getting Libertarians onto radio and TV shows. If you have any media contacts, please let me know. If you believe you would be an effective spokesperson for liberty on a particular issue, let me know.

 

Our web site revision group, led by Jarrett Tilford, is putting the finishing touches on the new Libertarian Party of California web site, which will replace the existing site. The web site will be up and running before the end of the year. The new site will not only look great, it will be much more user-friendly as well.

 

I urge you to follow us on Facebook by searching for Libertarian Party of California (Official) and Libertarian Party of California, along with the group for your county.

 

Gale Morgan of Sacramento has been appointed to an at-large position on the Executive Committee. Tyler Kuskie of El Dorado County has been appointed as a new alternate member.

 

If your membership has lapsed, please renew it and send your most generous contribution. We need your help to support these efforts and more. Here is the link: http://ca.lp.org/join

 

For liberty,
Ted Brown
Chair, Libertarian Party of California
tbrown@ca.lp.org

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