“Every man builds his world in his own image. He has the power to choose, but no power to escape the necessity of choice.” – Ayn Rand Only 6% of Americans believe that life is generally getting better. The rest, all 94%, according to a 2017 study, believe the world is getting worse. It’s not hard to understand this cynical mentality when 24/7, everywhere we turn, we are bombarded with negative news about sexual assault, police brutality, racism, and sexism. We acquiesce to the false belief that these horrific events are the status quo.  Yesterday, one of my friends told me that the United States was on a list for the top 10 most dangerous places to live as a woman. I laughed, because I knew this simply could not be factual. He was confused when I asked him: “What sort of data did they use? Have you considered that those calculations might be biased because the U.S. reports more sexual harassment and hate crimes, while in many other countries those same actions are actually legal?”  After doing some digging, I found out the article wasn’t based on facts at all, but the opinions of a mere 550 experts in women’s issues around the world. They ranked a country where women are free not to marry, free to live their...
Last month, I was called to jury duty. Here in the US, many people, instead of seeing jury service as a quintessential civic duty, regard the obligation with impatience, exasperation and contempt. This is regrettable. Jury duty is an extension of the freedoms Americans enjoy and an opportunity to participate in a “process through which constitutional rights and values come alive in practice.” The on-going protests in Hong Kong make this clear. Their initial impetus was an extradition bill that would have circumvented the Hong Kong legal system (which has a long history of jury trials thanks to its inheritance of British common law) and sent criminal suspects to Mainland China, effectively destroying the one country, two systems principle. As Melissa Chen recently...
The USA was in decline for the last decade, falling to 16th in 2015, but is now catching up to the world leaders. Canada’s Fraser Institute released its 2019 report before the latest volleys of China-USA tariffs were announced. 162 countries are researched and ranked on their importance in five areas: Size of government, Legal structure and security of property rights, Access to sound money, Freedom to trade internationally, and Regulation of credit, labour and business Of interest is the addition this year of a gender disparity adjustment measuring the degree to which nations have double standards in respecting the economic freedom of women and men. Economic freedom matters: * Nations in the top 25% of freedom have an average per-capita GDP of $36,770. Nations in the bottom 25% have $6,140. * Infant mortality: 6.7 per 1,000 live births in the top quartile and 40.5 in the bottom quartile. * Life expectancy: 79.4 years for the top 25% and 65.2 years for the bottom 25%. Details in the report here.
On June 17, 2012, the speed-climbing legend Hans Florine teamed up with Alex Honnold to try to take back the Nose record, a title Florine had held almost continuously for 20 years, but had lost to Dean Potter and Sean Leary in 2010 by 20 seconds. In this excerpt from Florine’s book, On the Nose: A Lifelong Obsession with Yosemite’s Most Iconic Climb,Hans talks about what it’s like to climb with a guy who thinks his hands are as good as cams.  Photos: Paul Hara.   A new rock star was rising in Yosemite. In 2007 a 21-year-old from Sacramento named Alex Honnold free-climbed two classic Yosemite routes, Astroman (5.11c) and the Rostrum (5.11c), back-to-back, in a day—without a rope. Astroman ascends for 1,100 feet, and the Rostrum for 800. One mistake—grabbing onto a loose piece of rock or slipping on a patch of moisture—would have most likely been the end of Alex Honnold. A year later, Alex did the unthinkable—he free-soloed the 2,000-foot Regular Northwest Face of Half Dome (5.12a), and became known in the Valley as “that crazy kid who climbs without ropes.” But I noticed Alex also did plenty of free climbing with ropes, setting several new speed records in the process. Most notably, in 2009, Alex and Sean Leary ratcheted down Yuji Hirayama’s free-climbing time of 13 hours on the Salathé (5.13b) to 8.5 hours. I’d seen Alex, a gangly guy with...
Over the last few months, social media companies like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter have banned controversial figures like Louis Farrakhan and Alex Jones from their platforms. Unsurprisingly, politicians and pundits from across the ideological spectrum, as well as the general public, have criticized the action of the social media giants. Even the Trump administration has added its voice by launching a website that provides people a platform to decry political bias. However, are social media companies legally obligated to provide people of all viewpoints a platform? Some say that they are and that denying access to controversial speakers is a violation of the First Amendment. Some even suggest that the government should intervene to correct this situation. But the First Amendment deals specifically with government censorship of speech, and social media companies aren’t the government. Under the First Amendment, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and all the other social media sites are free to censor or ban provocative points of view from their platforms for the sole reason that they are private companies. Whether social media companies can censor or ban speech on their platforms is a separate debate from whether they should censor speech on their platforms. We won’t address the latter debate here. But in terms of the First Amendment, the constitution is clear....

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