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3DBuzz Closes with a Final Gift

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If you wanted to learn about creating modern computer games, 3DBuzz had some of the best tutorials around. In fact, some of the tutorials about C#, C++, Android, and math would be useful for anyone, while the ones about game art and modeling in Maya are probably mostly for game developers. While these were once available only by subscription, the company — now defunct — has left them available for download via this BitTorrent file.

We don’t know enough about things like Blender and Maya to evaluate the material, but it is well regarded and the ones we do know something about seem very high quality. There are, for example, many videos about C++ and C# that are very professional and cover quite a few topics.

Topics include: AI programming, ASP.net, Blender, iPhone and Android apps, C#, C++, Objective C, Python, OpenGL, HTML and JavaScript, Solidworks, Photoshop, GIMP, Unity, and several game engines like Unreal 4 and Doom 3. There are also quite a few classes on 2D and 3D art as well as related math like trig and vectors.

We don’t know how long the page will remain up, and it has an SSL issue, but to save you some time, here’s a quick way to grab all the ZIP files on a page:

wget -nc -r -np --span-host -l 1 -A zip --no-check-certificate https://3dbuzz.com/index.html

However, as you might expect, the site is overloaded, so expect to not get them all in one swoop. We were surprised they didn’t make them available as torrents. (Update: the site now says downloads are temporarily disabled, but a Reddit user did start a torrent that is missing two small files and a corrected torrent with all the files, but it may not have as many seeds.)

If you want to build games with less fuss, try this tool. Or, maybe you’d rather go old school.

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jprodgers
11 days ago
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Seems like a solid resource.
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GPS is going places

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The regular GPS of a Buick Enclave. The buttons around the display, from top right: hazard, park assist view, lane-keep assist, towing, AWD activation, and traction control.

Enlarge / The regular GPS of a Buick Enclave. The buttons around the display, from top right: hazard, park assist view, lane-keep assist, towing, AWD activation, and traction control. (credit: Eric Bangeman)

You might think you’re an expert at navigating through city traffic, smartphone at your side. You might even hike with a GPS device to find your way through the backcountry. But you’d probably still be surprised at all the things that GPS—the global positioning system that underlies all of modern navigation—can do.

GPS consists of a constellation of satellites that send signals to Earth’s surface. A basic GPS receiver, like the one in your smartphone, determines where you are—to within about 1 to 10 meters—by measuring the arrival time of signals from four or more satellites. With fancier (and more expensive) GPS receivers, scientists can pinpoint their locations down to centimeters or even millimeters. Using that fine-grained information, along with new ways to analyze the signals, researchers are discovering that GPS can tell them far more about the planet than they originally thought it could.

Over the last decade, faster and more accurate GPS devices have allowed scientists to illuminate how the ground moves during big earthquakes. GPS has led to better warning systems for natural disasters such as flash floods and volcanic eruptions. And researchers have even MacGyvered some GPS receivers into acting as snow sensors, tide gauges and other unexpected tools for measuring Earth.

“People thought I was crazy when I started talking about these applications,” says Kristine Larson, a geophysicist at the University of Colorado Boulder who has led many of the discoveries and wrote about them in the 2019 Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences. “Well, it turned out we were able to do it.”

Here are some surprising things scientists have only recently realized they could do with GPS.

1. Feel an earthquake

For centuries geoscientists have relied on seismometers, which measure how much the ground is shaking, to assess how big and how bad an earthquake is. GPS receivers served a different purpose—to track geologic processes that happen on much slower scales, such as the rate at which Earth’s great crustal plates grind past one another in the process known as plate tectonics. So GPS might tell scientists the speed at which the opposite sides of the San Andreas Fault are creeping past each other, while seismometers measure the ground shaking when that California fault ruptures in a quake.

Most researchers thought that GPS simply couldn’t measure locations precisely enough, and quickly enough, to be useful in assessing earthquakes. But it turns out that scientists can squeeze extra information out of the signals that GPS satellites transmit to Earth.

Those signals arrive in two components. One is the unique series of ones and zeros, known as the code, that each GPS satellite transmits. The second is a shorter-wavelength “carrier” signal that transmits the code from the satellite. Because the carrier signal has a shorter wavelength—a mere 20 centimeters—compared with the longer wavelength of the code, which can be tens or hundreds of meters, the carrier signal offers a high-resolution way to pinpoint a spot on Earth’s surface. Scientists, surveyors, the military and others often need a very precise GPS location, and all it takes is a more complicated GPS receiver.

Engineers have also improved the rate at which GPS receivers update their location, meaning they can refresh themselves as often as 20 times a second or more. Once researchers realized they could take precise measurements so quickly, they started using GPS to examine how the ground moved during an earthquake.

In 2003, in one of the first studies of its kind, Larson and her colleagues used GPS receivers studded across the western United States to study how the ground shifted as seismic waves rippled from a magnitude 7.9 earthquake in Alaska. By 2011, researchers were able to take GPS data on the magnitude 9.1 earthquake that devastated Japan and show that the seafloor had shifted a staggering 60 meters during the quake.

Today, scientists are looking more broadly at how GPS data can help them quickly assess earthquakes. Diego Melgar of the University of Oregon in Eugene and Gavin Hayes of the US Geological Survey in Golden, Colorado, retrospectively studied 12 large earthquakes to see if they could tell, within seconds of the quake beginning, just how large it would get. By including information from GPS stations near the quakes’ epicenters, the scientists could determine within 10 seconds whether the quake would be a damaging magnitude 7 or a completely destructive magnitude 9.

Researchers along the US West Coast have even been incorporating GPS into their fledgling earthquake early warning system, which detects ground shaking and notifies people in distant cities whether shaking is likely to hit them soon. And Chile has been building out its GPS network in order to have more accurate information more quickly, which can help calculate whether a quake near the coast is likely to generate a tsunami or not.

2. Monitor a volcano

Beyond earthquakes, the speed of GPS is helping officials respond more quickly to other natural disasters as they unfold.

Many volcano observatories, for example, have GPS receivers arrayed around the mountains they monitor, because when magma begins shifting underground that often causes the surface to shift as well. By monitoring how GPS stations around a volcano rise or sink over time, researchers can get a better idea about where molten rock is flowing.

Before last year’s big eruption of the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii, researchers used GPS to understand which parts of the volcano were shifting most rapidly. Officials used that information to help decide which areas to evacuate residents from.

GPS data can also be useful even after a volcano has erupted. Because the signals travel from satellites to the ground, they have to pass through whatever material the volcano is ejecting into the air. In 2013, several research groups studied GPS data from an eruption of the Redoubt volcano in Alaska four years earlier and found that the signals became distorted soon after the eruption began.

By studying the distortions, the scientists could estimate how much ash had spewed out and how fast it was traveling. In an ensuing paper, Larson called it “a new way to detect volcanic plumes.”

She and her colleagues have been working on ways to do this with smartphone-variety GPS receivers rather than expensive scientific receivers. That could enable volcanologists to set up a relatively inexpensive GPS network and monitor ash plumes as they rise. Volcanic plumes are a big problem for airplanes, which have to fly around the ash rather than risk the particles’ clogging up their jet engines.

3. Probe the snow

Some of the most unexpected uses of GPS come from the messiest parts of its signal—the parts that bounce off the ground.

A typical GPS receiver, like the one in your smartphone, mostly picks up signals that are coming directly from GPS satellites overhead. But it also picks up signals that have bounced on the ground you’re walking on and reflected up to your smartphone.

For many years scientists had thought these reflected signals were nothing but noise, a sort of echo that muddied the data and made it hard to figure out what was going on. But about 15 years ago Larson and others began wondering if they could take advantage of the echoes in scientific GPS receivers. She started looking at the frequencies of the signals that reflected off the ground and how those combined with the signals that had arrived directly at the receiver. From that she could deduce qualities of the surface that the echoes had bounced off. “We just reverse-engineered those echoes,” says Larson.

This approach allows scientists to learn about the ground beneath the GPS receiver—for instance how much moisture the soil contains or how much snow has accumulated on the surface. (The more snow falls on the ground, the shorter the distance between the echo and the receiver.) GPS stations can work as snow sensors to measure snow depth, such as in mountain areas where snowpack is a major water resource each year.

The technique also works well in the Arctic and Antarctica, where there are few weather stations monitoring snowfall year-round. Matt Siegfried, now at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, and his colleagues studied snow accumulation at 23 GPS stations in West Antarctica from 2007 to 2017. They found they could directly measure the changing snow. That’s crucial information for researchers looking to assess how much snow the Antarctic ice sheet builds up each winter—and how that compares with what melts away each summer.

4. Sense a sinking

GPS may have started off as a way to measure location on solid ground, but it turns out to be also useful in monitoring changes in water levels.

In July, John Galetzka, an engineer at the UNAVCO geophysics research organization in Boulder, Colorado, found himself installing GPS stations in Bangladesh, at the junction of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers. The goal was to measure whether the river sediments are compacting and the land is slowly sinking—making it more vulnerable to flooding during tropical cyclones and sea level rise. “GPS is an amazing tool to help answer this question and more,” Galetzka says.

In a farming community called Sonatala, on the edge of a mangrove forest, Galetzka and his colleagues placed one GPS station on the concrete roof of a primary school. They set up a second station nearby, atop a rod hammered into a rice paddy. If the ground really is sinking, then the second GPS station will look as if it is slowly emerging from the ground. And by measuring the GPS echoes beneath the stations, the scientists can measure factors such as how much water is standing in the rice paddy during the rainy season.

GPS receivers can even help oceanographers and mariners, by acting as tide gauges. Larson stumbled onto this while working with GPS data from Kachemak Bay, Alaska. The station was established to study tectonic deformation, but Larson was curious because the bay also has some of the biggest tidal variations in the United States. She looked at the GPS signals that were bouncing off the water and up to the receiver, and was able to track tidal changes almost as accurately as a real tide gauge in a nearby harbor.

This could be helpful in parts of the world that don’t have long-term tide gauges set up—but do happen to have a GPS station nearby.

5. Analyze the atmosphere

Finally, GPS can tease out information about the sky overhead, in ways that scientists hadn’t thought possible until just a few years ago. Water vapor, electrically charged particles, and other factors can delay GPS signals traveling through the atmosphere, and that allows researchers to make new discoveries.

One group of scientists uses GPS to study the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere that is available to precipitate out as rain or snow. Researchers have used these changes to calculate how much water is likely to fall from the sky in drenching downpours, allowing forecasters to fine-tune their predictions of flash floods in places like Southern California. During a July 2013 storm, meteorologists used GPS data to track monsoonal moisture moving onshore there, which turned out to be crucial information for issuing a warning 17 minutes before flash floods hit.

GPS signals are also affected when they travel through the electrically charged part of the upper atmosphere, known as the ionosphere. Scientists have used GPS data to track changes in the ionosphere as tsunamis race across the ocean below. (The force of the tsunami produces changes in the atmosphere that ripple all the way up to the ionosphere.) This technique could one day complement the traditional method of tsunami warning, which uses buoys dotted across the ocean to measure the height of the traveling wave.

And scientists have even been able to study the effects of a total solar eclipse using GPS. In August 2017, they used GPS stations across the United States to measure how the number of electrons in the upper atmosphere dropped as the moon’s shadow moved across the continent, dimming the light that otherwise created electrons.

So GPS is useful for everything from ground shaking beneath your feet to snow falling from the sky. Not bad for something that was just supposed to help you find your way across town.

Alexandra Witze is a Colorado-based freelance journalist whose work has appeared in Nature, Science News and other publications. She does not have a good sense of direction. This article originally appeared in Knowable Magazine, an independent journalistic endeavor from Annual Reviews. Sign up for the newsletter.

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jprodgers
21 days ago
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Ok, this is pretty cool.
Somerville, MA
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How Trump Lost an Evangelical Stalwart

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Evangelicals just received an ultimatum: Abandon President Trump, or betray your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Christianity Today—the magazine founded by the famous preacher Billy Graham, and the longtime forum for mainstream evangelical thought—has published an editorial calling for Donald Trump to be removed from the White House. The editor in chief, Mark Galli, acknowledged that “the typical CT approach is to stay above the fray and allow Christians with different political convictions to make their arguments in the public square.” But the facts are “unambiguous,” Galli wrote. “The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.”

Within hours of the article’s publication, the magazine’s website had crashed and Galli had been invited to speak on CNN, NPR, among other outlets. To be clear, Galli’s editorial in no way signals that evangelicals are about to defect, en masse, from Trump or the Republican Party. Christianity Today, also known as CT, mostly appeals to well-educated readers who are moderate in every way, including politically and theologically. Much of its readership is international, and many older print subscribers might not even register the small, seismic event that just happened on CT’s website. And polling over the last few months has consistently shown that white evangelicals remain among Trump’s staunchest supporters.

What’s significant about Galli’s statement is how directly he makes the case that his fellow Christians have a responsibility to call out Trump’s immoral behavior. Otherwise, he writes, they risk damaging their ability to share the Gospel with the world. Christians have been divided over Trump since he became a serious presidential candidate in 2016. Now, less than a month away from retirement, Galli wants them to unite against the president.

I spoke with Galli shortly after his editorial was published this evening. Our conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.


Emma Green: Why did you feel called to publish this editorial?

Mark Galli: One of my main goals for the last three or four years is to have evangelicals on the left and the right, pro-Trump and anti-Trump, learn to listen to each other, to be caring to one another, to understand one another. I think our unity in Christ is much more important than our fusion in politics.

I have friends who voted for Trump for strong, prudential reasons. They’re very much pro-life, very much pro-religious freedom. They said, “Well, we can put up with his moral problems, because he’s delivering on things that are really important to us.” So, you know, I grant that.

I don’t think it was until the impeachment hearings that there was some sort of smoking gun that was just unambiguously clear. The Mueller investigation was so confusing. It was hard to tell what was legal or illegal, moral or immoral. I just don’t know how that world works. But with the impeachment hearings, it became absolutely clear that he tried to use his power as the president to manipulate a foreign leader into getting dirt on his political enemies. That’s unconstitutional, and it’s immoral. So, it was kind of a clear moment.

I’ve been thinking, in the last week, whether we should address that. I recalled that in the Clinton era and the Nixon era, when it became absolutely clear about the immoral improprieties of the president, we said that this person is no longer fit for office. That was weighing on me, and I thought maybe it was time for us to do this.

I started with the notion, “Okay, we’re going to do this like CT: ‘On the one hand, on the other hand... Let’s try to understand each other.’” But then I thought, “I’m not going to do that.” I’m just going to say what I think the reality is that we have to open our eyes to.

And it was done in an hour.

Green: I was struck by how directly you called on your fellow evangelicals to be honest about what you see as Trump’s misconduct. You wrote, “Consider what an unbelieving world will say if you continue to brush off Mr. Trump’s immoral words and behavior in the cause of political expediency.” That’s very, very direct. Were you at all worried about how other Christians may hear or read those words?

Galli: Not too much. I know some will read it very negatively. They’ll consider me partisan, that I’m a closet Democrat—which I’m not, I’m independent. They’re going to say that Trump appoints pro-life justices, he’s working for religious freedom. And it occurred to me today, as I was writing the editorial, that the “on the one hand, on the other hand” logic of whether you’re going to support Trump or not—that falls apart at some point.

Imagine, for example, that a woman is being verbally abused by her husband. He’s a great father—he gets along with the kids, and he’s a great supporter. So, you think, “Alright, he’s verbally abusive to me, he has kind of a hot temper. But he’s got these other things going for him, so I’m not going to rock the boat too much. I might try to get him to calm down, but I can live with it.”

Then he starts to become violent, and dangerously violent. He’s still a good provider. He still loves the kids. But nobody would say, “You need to weigh this!” They would say, “Get the man out of the house immediately.” The moral balancing no longer applies.

And the same seems to be true of the Trump presidency. Yes, he’s done some good that I am grateful for. But the moral scales no longer balance. It’s time for him to get out of the house, so to speak.

Green: One of the things that you seem most concerned about in the editorial is the reputation of evangelicalism—of Christianity—and the damage that this association with Trump might do to Christian witness.

I wonder how much that motivates you—your belief that the association with Trump is going to do long-term damage to the ability of Christians to share the Gospel?

Galli: Oh my God. It’s going to be horrific.

We’ve been a movement that has said the moral character of our leaders is really important. And if they fail in that department, they can’t be a good influence. That’s what CT said when Nixon’s immoralities were discovered. That’s what we said when Clinton’s immoralities were discovered. And one of the reasons I thought we should say it now is because it’s pretty clear that this is the case with Donald Trump.

Unfortunately, a number of my brothers and sisters will just defend him to the end. They somehow think that’s going to be a good witness to the Gospel. It’s unimaginable to me how they think that, but they do. And I just think it’s a big mistake.

Green: Right after the impeachment vote, two prominent evangelical leaders—Samuel Rodriguez and Johnnie Moore—sent out a statement saying that Democrats have pursued an exclusively partisan impeachment effort. They were not actually impeaching the president of the United States, but the voters who put him in office. They were repeating, basically, the spin from the White House.

Do you feel like you’ve completely lost your connection to the leaders who have made this choice to come out and forcefully defend Trump no matter what, when you see the facts of the case so differently?

Galli: I have a good personal relationship with Johnnie Moore. He and I know we disagree about stuff, politically. He might be surprised about the passion with which I wrote this piece, but I don’t think he’s going to be surprised at the content. I assume he’s going to be amicable towards me when we meet next time, as I will be towards him. Other people who have not met me will have preconceptions about me and what I stand for. That’s fine.

I will acknowledge, and I did acknowledge, that the Democrats are riding on a partisan horse here. They just vehemently hate Donald Trump. And they’ve been trying from day one to get him out of office. There’s no question about that.

But that doesn’t take away from the fact that what they discovered is actually true. That’s the thing that’s disappointing about my evangelical and conservative friends. They just won’t admit it. They just won’t say it. They just say, “It’s partisan.” Well, yeah. It’s partisan. But this partisan effort happened to uncover something that was really bad.

The fact that not a single Republican, and none of my evangelical, conservative friends, have been able to admit that strikes me as a deep and serious problem.

I’m sorry, Emma. I’m going to start preaching—I used to be a pastor. I don’t think the Republican Party or the Democratic Party are exemplars of moral virtue. As most commentators have noted, our country is in a really, deeply troubling state when it comes to ethical and moral leadership. I’m certainly not going to say, “Oh, all the politicians are really ethical and Donald Trump isn’t.” No. But he happens to be the president of the United States. He deserves a certain amount of focus.

Green: Do you feel that you’re out of step with the body of evangelicals in the United States—and particularly white evangelicals—who are mostly supportive of Trump?

Galli: Yeah. That’s just a fact of life. At least as long as I’ve been editor in chief, I’ve never imagined that we at Christianity Today speak for all evangelicals. We speak for moderate, center-right, and center-left evangelicals. The far right—they don’t read us. They don’t care what we think. They think we’ve been coopted by liberalism. So, I understand that we do not represent the entire movement. And anyone who thinks that CT does, that’s just not the case.

I look at my brothers and sisters who are supportive of Trump, and I see the other things they’re doing: the life of their churches, the type of causes they support overseas. I can praise and honor them for those things. So I still see them as brothers and sisters. But we’re not in the same world when it comes to this sort of thing, right now.

Green: Are you worried about losing readers because of this editorial?

Galli: Not really. I recognize that that’s a possibility. But, to be honest—and I’m sorry if I sound like a person of great moral virtue—those are the types of things I’ve never given a whole lot of thought to. I never weigh what I’m going to say or not say based on whether people will start subscribing or stop subscribing. That just strikes me as a very small-minded way of deciding what you’re going to write about.

I think we’ll gain some readers, too. When we’ve written something controversial in the past and I thought we would end up losing subscribers, we actually ended up gaining. In this case, I’m happy to let the cards fall where they may, and see what happens.

Green: Were there people at CT who knew you were going to write this editorial who cautioned you away from it?

Galli: No, because really only three people saw it before it went up. Ted Olson is a longtime companion at CT. Anything important, I make sure he goes over with a fine-toothed comb. And then, of course, my president—anything of such a sensitive nature that might affect the entire ministry, I let him look at and comment on.

I’m about to retire on January 3. So, I did not want to do something that would explode in such a way that would make his life and the life of the incoming editor in chief unnecessarily hard. So I showed it to him and said, “If you have concerns, let’s talk.” And his only concerns were to add some additional paragraphs that made it a stronger editorial.

Green: Right, your retirement does seem relevant here. You’ve been a writer, thinker, and public figure in the evangelical world for a long time. I wonder how, as you prepare to leave your post, you’re thinking about the divisive, negative environments of both evangelicalism and American politics. Does it anguish you that this is where evangelicalism is today—or, I should say, where Christianity is today?

Galli: One cannot be but unhappy about that. But I don’t have any illusions that if I stuck around a little longer, or tried a little harder, I could somehow solve it. I became editor in chief in 2012, and I can certainly say I haven’t made a dent in that problem.

It isn’t the first time in church history that the church has been divided. It’s been divided over very important things. So I am a great believer in the providence of God, and that he will, in his grace, mercy, and mysterious judgement help us through this period. It’s not my responsibility to heal the breach among evangelicals. It’s not my responsibility to bring peace to the world. My responsibility is, given the position I have, whatever it might be, is to speak the truth. If it makes a difference, I am thankful to God. And if it doesn’t make a difference, that’s kind of up to him.

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jprodgers
35 days ago
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This is fairly big, and something I'm going to use as a conversation starter with my family. They think the impeachment hasn't found anything, and that Trump is totally innocent, as they just watch Fox News, or they read things on Facebook.
Somerville, MA
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Read Jerry Nadler’s Opening Statement in the Judiciary Committee’s Impeachment Hearing

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The next phase of the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump kicked off today, as the House Judiciary Committee convened its first public hearing on whether the president’s alleged wrongdoing amounts to impeachable offenses. Representative Jerry Nadler of New York, the committee’s chairman, finds himself back in the impeachment spotlight with the unenviable task of trying to maintain a serious hearing amid Republican attempts to derail it.

Below, the full text of Nadler’s opening statement as delivered.


The facts before us are undisputed. On July 25, President Trump called President Zelensky of Ukraine and in President Trump's words, “asked him for a favor.” That call was part of a concerted effort by the president and his men to solicit a personal advantage in the next election, this time in the form of an investigation of his political adversaries by a foreign government. To obtain that private political advantage, President Trump withheld an official White House meeting from the newly elected president of a fragile democracy, and withheld vital military aid from a vulnerable ally. When Congress found out about this scheme and began to investigate, President Trump took extraordinary and unprecedented steps to cover up his efforts and withhold evidence from the investigators, and when witnesses disobeyed him, when career professionals came forward and told us the truth, he attacked them viciously, calling them traitors and liars, promising they will, “Go through some things.”

Of course, this is not the first time President Trump has engaged in this pattern of conduct. In 2016, the Russian government engaged in a sweeping campaign of interference in our elections. In the words of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, “the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome.” The president welcomed that interference. We saw this in real time when President Trump asked Russia to hack his political opponents. The very next day, the Russian military intelligence unit attempted to hack that political opponent. When his own Justice Department tried to uncover the extent to which a foreign government had broken our laws, President Trump took extraordinary and unprecedented steps to obstruct the investigation, including ignoring subpoenas, ordering the creation of false records, and publicly attacking and intimidating witnesses. That is now this administration's level of obstruction is without precedent. No other president has vowed to “fight for all the subpoenas,” as President Trump promised. In the 1974 impeachment proceedings, President Nixon produced dozens of recordings. In 1998, President Clinton physically gave his blood. President Trump by contrast, has refused to produce a single document and directed every witness not to testify. Those are the facts before us.

The impeachment inquiry has moved back to the House Judiciary Committee. And as we begin a review of these facts, the president's pattern of behavior becomes clear. President Trump welcomed foreign interference in the 2016 election. He demanded it for the 2020 election. In both cases, he got caught and in both cases he did everything in his power to prevent the American people from learning the truth about his conduct. On July 24th, the special counsel testified before this committee. He implored us to see the nature of the threat to our country: “Over the course of my career, I have seen a number of challenges to our democracy. The Russian government's efforts to interfere in our elections is among the most serious. This deserves the attention of every American.”

Ignoring that warning President Trump called the Ukrainian president the very next day to ask him to investigate the president's political opponent. As we exercise our responsibility to determine whether this pattern of behavior constitutes an impeachable offense, it is important to place President Trump's conduct into historical context. Since the founding of our country, the House of Representatives has impeached only two presidents. A third was on his way to impeachment when he resigned. This committee has voted to impeach two presidents for obstructing justice. We have voted to impeach one president for obstructing a congressional investigation. To the extent that President Trump's conduct fits these categories, there's precedent for recommending impeachment here. But never before in the history of the republic have we been forced to consider the conduct of a president who appears to have solicited personal political favors from a foreign government. Never before has a president engaged in the course of conduct, that included all of the acts that most concerned the framers.

The patriots who founded our country were not fearful men. They fought a war. They witnessed terrible violence. They overthrew a king. But as they met to frame our Constitution, those patriots still feared one threat above all: foreign interference in our elections. They had just deposed a tyrant they were deeply worried we would lose our new found liberty, not through a war. If a foreign army were to invade we'd see that coming, but from corruption from within. In the early years of the republic they asked us, each of us to be vigilant to that threat. Washington warned us “to be constantly awake since history had experienced proved foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government.” Adams wrote to Jefferson, “as often as elections happen, the danger of foreign influence recurs.” Hamilton's warning was more specific and more dire. In the Federalist Papers, he wrote that “the most deadly adversaries of republican government,” would certainly attempt to “raise a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the union.”

In short, the founders warned us that we should expect our foreign adversaries to target our elections and that we will find ourselves in grave danger if the president willingly opens the door to their influence. What kind of president would do that? How will we know if the president has betrayed his country in this manner? How will we know if he's betrayed his country in this manner for petty personal gain? Hamilton had a response for that as well. He wrote, “when a man unprincipled in private life, desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents, known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty, when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity, to join the cry of danger, to liberty to take every opportunity of embarrassing the general government, and bringing it under suspicion, it may justly be suspected his object is to throw things into confusion, that he may ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.”

Ladies and gentlemen, the storm in which we find ourselves today was set in motion by President Trump. I do not wish this moment on the country. It is not a pleasant task we undertake today. But we have each taken an oath to protect the Constitution and the facts before us are clear. President Trump did not merely seek to benefit from foreign interference in our elections, he directly and explicitly invited foreign interference in our elections. He used the powers of his office to try to make it happen. He sent his agents to make clear that this is what he wanted and demanded. He was willing to compromise our security and his office for personal political gain. It does not matter that President Trump got caught and ultimately released the funds that Ukraine so desperately needed. It matters that he enlisted a foreign government to intervene in our elections in the first place. It does not matter that President Trump felt that these investigations were unfair to him. It matters that he used this office not merely to defend himself but to obstruct investigators at every turn.

We are all aware that the next election is looming, but we cannot wait for the election to address the present crisis. The integrity of that election is one of the very things at stake. The president has shown us his pattern of conduct. If we do not act to hold him in check now, President Trump will almost certainly try again to solicit interference in the election for his personal political gain. Today we will begin our conversation where we should, with the text of the Constitution. We are empowered to recommend the impeachment of President Trump to the House if we find that he has committed treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors. Our witness panel will help us to guide that conversation. In a few days, we'll reconvene and hear from the committees that worked to uncover the facts before us. And when we apply the Constitution to those facts, if it is true that President Trump has committed an impeachable offense or multiple impeachable offenses, then we must move swiftly to do our duty and charge him accordingly. I thank the witnesses for being here today.

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jprodgers
50 days ago
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This should be read by every single US citizen.
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The 555SE and 741SE surface-mount soldering kits

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555SE and 741SE kits

Today we are pleased to announce the release of two new soldering kits: the 555SE discrete 555 timer and the 741SE discrete op-amp.

Both of these new kits are surface mount soldering kits — our first surface mount soldering kits — and we think that you’re going to love them.

555 kits, big and small

You might be familiar with our Three Fives discrete 555 timer and XL741 discrete op-amp kits. Both are easy soldering kits that let you build working transistor-scale replicas of the classic 555 timer chip and the famous µA741 op-amp. Those two are constructed with traditional through-hole soldering techniques and are styled to like “DIP” packaged (through-hole) integrated circuits.

Our new 555SE and 741SE kits implement the same circuits, now with surface mount components, and are styled to look like smaller “SOIC” packaged (surface mount) integrated circuits, complete with a heavy-gauge aluminum leadframe stand. Side by side with their through-hole siblings, the new kits are exactly to scale, with half the lead pitch and a lower profile.

555SE kit for scale

The 555SE and 741SE kits each come with eight (tiny) color-coded thumbscrew binding posts that you can use to hook up wires and other connections.

You can also probe anywhere that you like in these circuits — something that you generally can’t do with the integrated circuit versions.

741SE kit close up

The new 555SE and 741SE circuit boards are black in color, with a gold finish and clear solder mask so that you can see the wiring traces between individual components. There are a few other neat details here and there, such as countersunk holes for mounting the board to the leadframe.

The surface mount components are relatively large, with 1206-sized resistors and SOT-23 sized transistors, and assembly is straightforward with our clear and comprehensive instructions. These kits are designed to be a joy to build, whether you’re an old hand at surface mount soldering, want some practice before tackling a project, or are introducing someone to it for the first time.

Family portrait

And here is the new family: XL741, the Three Fives, along with the new 741SE and 555SE.

You can find the datasheets and assembly instructions for these kits, as well as links to additional documentation, on their respective product pages.

Both new kits are part of our ongoing collaboration with Eric Schlaepfer, who we have worked with on a number of dis-integrated circuit projects including the four kits here and the MOnSter 6502.

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jprodgers
64 days ago
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Argh, I already have both of the originals, I don't need another version..... but they're just so cute....
Somerville, MA
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Why Isn’t a Rape Allegation Worth an Impeachment Inquiry?

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To watch the public impeachment hearings of Donald Trump is to experience a very particular form of whiplash. The House inquiry has featured a series of small collisions, between Democrats and Republicans, yes, but also between accountability and its opposite. Here is a proceeding partly led by lawmakers who have, when it comes to the president, repeatedly prioritized fealty over facts. And here is the key question at hand—did Donald Trump extort a U.S. ally for his own political gain?—chafing against all the other questionable matters not being addressed in the hearing: the reported frauds, the well-documented lies, the atmospheric fact of Trump’s bigotries. The procedural precision guiding the House inquiry—bribery, high crimes and misdemeanors—is constitutionally mandated; it is a proportional response. Watching it play out, however, is a little like watching Hannibal Lecter getting tried for tax evasion.

Here is another matter left largely unaccounted for in the proceedings: Donald Trump, currently accused of bribery, has also been accused of rape. He has been accused of other forms of sexual misconduct as well, by more than 20 women, their allegations ranging from kissing to groping and grabbing, all against their will. If you include allegations of nonphysical forms of sexual harassment, the number of accusers grows even larger. The president has, in reply to these claims, issued a blanket denial: Each person making an accusation against him, he has said, is lying. (That list includes, ostensibly, Donald Trump himself, who has made his own claims about assaulting women: “It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait … Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”)

[Read: The real meaning of Trump’s ‘she’s not my type’ defense]

It is easy, in the impeachment hearings’ tumult—the staid testimonies of career diplomats, the history made in real time—to ignore those accusations. They are not, after all, a direct element of the inquiry. They are not the alleged crimes that the House of Representatives has determined to be impeachable. A constellation of reasons, constitutional and political and cultural, explains why the impeachment inquiry is unfolding as it is—at this moment, rooted in this one particular incident of alleged abuse of power. It is nonetheless a sobering thing, to watch the hearings for the one alleged crime play out while the other alleged crimes are, effectively, ignored.

One function of presidential impeachment hearings, my colleague Yoni Appelbaum wrote in a rich and prescient essay earlier this year, is their ability to convene public attention. Americans are constitutionally distractible; the Constitution, it turns out, offers a way to mitigate that. Impeachment, on top of everything else, is a way of cutting through the noise of rumors and conspiracy theories, putting the truths of a president’s actions to the test and determining what, in presidential leadership, ultimately matters. There is a flip side to that power, though. When the question at hand is whether Trump engaged in an abuse of power with Ukraine, his alleged abuse of power with women becomes less relevant. All the other facts of unfitness—the families seeking refuge, torn apart at the American border; Trump’s insistence that the tragedies of Charlottesville, Virginia, featured “very fine people on both sides”; the bigotry; the cruelty; the offenses both casual and sweeping—get consigned to the background.

That is by design. Impeachment is a process of specificity. But the effect it has on the assault allegations in particular is to tidily replicate what has already happened in the American political environment more broadly: They have hovered over Donald Trump without meaningfully affecting the political fortunes of Donald Trump. The sitting president has been insulated by a party that often seems to care more about tribal loyalty than anything else. He has been protected not only by limitations, but also by a culture that still insists that victims of sexual violence bear blame for the crime done to them—by an attitude that insists, still, that boys will be boys and that, as a corollary, Trump will be Trump, and that it is useless to question the inevitable.

[Read: The cruel paradox at the heart of E. Jean Carroll’s allegation against Trump]

This summer, Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic’s editor in chief, interviewed Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey and a onetime Trump adviser. Goldberg asked Christie about Carroll’s allegation of rape, as one more instance of a woman making an accusation of sexual misconduct against Trump; he asked whether, as a politician, Christie would call for an investigation of the claims. “No,” Christie replied. “Because as a practical matter, the statute of limitations on all of them is gone.” Isn’t the allegation also, Goldberg followed up, a moral matter? Yes, Christie allowed; that doesn’t mean, he continued, that the matter can be satisfactorily adjudicated. “What’s this comprehensive investigation?” Christie asked. “Who’s doing it?” Later, he added something else: When it came to Carroll’s allegation, he said, “I don’t believe we’re ever going to know the truth.”

Christie is a former prosecutor. His point was that the law is narrow, by design—that it is better, in matters of justice, to live in uncertainty than to live in error. But his resignation about Carroll’s claim was making another point as well: The government, thus far, has not meaningfully investigated the assault allegations against Trump. Instead, a sense of apathy has set in. The allegations have been metabolized as a collection of known unknowns, lingering in the American ether. Carroll recently filed a civil suit against Trump—she is suing him for defamation, claiming that he lied about her when he denied her assertion—and that claim, too, was making a point: She said he raped her. The best chance she had to get her allegation heard was to say he had wounded her reputation.

[Read: Why the assault allegations against Trump don’t stick]

It is a familiar compromise. American public life is teeming with stories of women who were heard but not listened to. Justice can be so hard to find that even the illusion of it can seem like progress. When Christine Blasey Ford made her allegation against Brett Kavanaugh, she was met, in part, with a show trial. The FBI promised an investigation into her claims and others’ that barely materialized—nullified, apparently, by the rushed Senate vote that installed Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court by a margin of two. But: The Senate Judiciary Committee also conducted hearings, and aired them to the public. It gave Ford the barest measure of respect. For all their perversities, the hearings’ existence alone sent a message: The world is no longer a place in which a claim like Ford’s could be tolerably ignored.

Except, the latest hearings suggest: It is. Still. In spite of it all. The institutional silence that has greeted the assault allegations against Trump has its own cold eloquence. The inquiry, in what it reveals, takes the measure of Donald Trump; in what it ignores, it also takes the measure of the rest of us.

Yesterday, Gordon Sondland, the American ambassador to the European Union, gave his much-anticipated testimony to the House Intelligence Committee. “Everyone was in the loop,” Sondland said in his opening statement, regarding Trump’s alleged attempt at state-sanctioned extortion. The claim was widely characterized as a “bombshell” and a “blockbuster”—a moment of plot-twisting, potentially game-changing drama. “Everybody knew.” That fact alone was damning.

Donald Trump has been credibly accused of rape. Many, many women have come forward to say that he harassed and assaulted them. Those allegations are another thing that everybody knows. And yet.

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jprodgers
64 days ago
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"The inquiry, in what it reveals, takes the measure of Donald Trump; in what it ignores, it also takes the measure of the rest of us."
Somerville, MA
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