The term "527" refers to political organizations as identified in their tax filings with the Internal Revenue Service. The number "527" refers to the section of the tax code that governs such entities. These groups are typically parties, candidates, committees or associations organized for the purpose of influencing an issue, policy, appointment or election, be it federal, state or local.
Such organizations can raise unlimited funds from individuals, corporations or labor unions, but they must register with the IRS and disclose their contributions and expenditures.
To be exempt from federal income tax, all such political organizations must electronically file notice of section 527 status (Form 8871) with the IRS with the exception of
NOTE: All political committees that register and file reports with the Federal Election Commission are 527 organizations, but not all 527s are federally registered political committees. For more information on 527 organizations, please visit the IRS web site.
Ever since the SMART Response XE was brought to our attention back in 2018, we’ve been keeping a close lookout for projects that make use of the Arduino-compatible educational gadget. Admittedly it’s taken a bit longer than we’d expected for the community to really start digging into the capabilities of the QWERTY handheld, but occasionally we see an effort like this port of BASIC to the SMART Response XE by [Dan Geiger] that reminds us of why we were so excited by this device to begin with.
This project combines the SMART Response XE support library by [Larry Bank] with Tiny BASIC Plus, which itself is an update of the Arduino BASIC port by [Michael Field]. The end result is a fun little BASIC handheld that has all the features and capabilities you’d expect, plus several device-specific commands that [Dan] has added such as
BATT to check the battery voltage and
MLOAD which will save and load BASIC programs to EEPROM.
To install the BASIC interpreter to your own SMART Response XE, [Dan] goes over the process of flashing it to the hardware using an AVR ISP MkII and a few pogo pins soldered to a bit of perboard. There are holes under the battery door of the device that exposes the programming pads on the PCB, so you don’t even need to crack open the case. Although if you are willing to crack open the case, you might as well add in a CC1101 transceiver so the handy little device can double as a spectrum analyzer.
Continue practicing “SMART Response XE Turned Pocket BASIC Playground”
I've been developing recipes and writing healthful cookbooks since 1989, and if there's one thing I've learned, it's not to assume that the recipe reader has a lot of cooking experience.
Gone are the days when you can just write, "add just enough flour to thicken." You need to spell out how much flour to add. You can't say "sautÃ© this" or "sear that," because most people don't know exactly what that means. The truth is, more and more people are now growing up without really knowing how to cook.
So just for the cooking beginner, I've assembled some basic information I hope will help as you bravely go forth into the wonderful world of recipes. I've started with a discussion of breads, chicken, and pasta. You'll also find a cook's dictionary with definitions of cooking terms (and a little advice sprinkled in).
Most bakery products are made with yeast, baking powder, or baking soda. If you're following a recipe that calls for yeast, here's what you should know:
Quick breads are breads, such as muffins and biscuits, that are quick to make because they don't involve kneading or any rising time. Usually, baking powder or baking soda is added to the dry ingredients to create bubbles in the batter or dough as it bakes.
Here's how they work:
Here are some tips for buying, storing, and cooking this popular type of poultry:
Cooking pasta is really the easy part; it's the sauces that can get tricky. The good news is that there are lots of convenient ways to dress your pasta these days; bottled marinara, store-bought pesto, flavored olive oils with pre-shredded Parmesan cheese, etc.
Here are my tips for pasta meals:
Here's a cheat sheet to help you figure out confusing words you may come across in recipes.
Al dente: Italian phrase meaning "to the tooth," used to describe pasta or other food that is cooked only until it offers slight resistance when bitten into.
Au gratin: A dish that is topped with cheese or a mixture of breadcrumbs and butter, then heated in the oven or under the broiler until brown and crispy.
Au jus:French phrase describing meat that is served with its own natural cooking juices.
Au lait: French for "with milk."
Bain-marie: A water bath used to cook certain dishes.
Baking powder: A leavener (which helps a dough or batter rise or become light in texture) that contains a combination of baking soda; an acid (such as cream of tartar); and a moisture-absorber (like cornstarch).
Baking sheet: A flat sheet of metal, usually rectangular, used to bake cookies, biscuits, etc.
Baking soda: Bicarbonate of soda. Baking soda is used as a leavener in baked recipes. When combined with an acid like buttermilk, yogurt, or vinegar in a batter, it produces bubbles from carbon dioxide gas that allowing the batter to rise as it bakes.
Blackened: A cooking method in which meat or fish, usually rubbed with Cajun spices, is cooked in a very hot cast-iron skillet.
Broth/bouillon: A liquid made by cooking vegetables, poultry, meat, or fish. The flavored liquid is strained off after cooking.
Braise: A cooking method, on top of a stove or in the oven, in which food is browned in fat, and then cooked, tightly covered, in a small amount of liquid, at low heat for a long time.
Broil: To cook or brown food by placing it under the broiling unit in an oven. The broiling unit is usually at the top of the oven, but older ovens may have a broiler drawer underneath. Recipes often call for placing the food 4-6 inches away from the broiling unit.
Brown: To cook quickly over high heat, causing the surface of the food to turn brown while the interior stays moist.
Brush: To apply a liquid with a pastry brush to the surface of food.
Caramelize: To heat sugar until it liquefies and becomes a clear syrup ranging in color from golden to dark brown.
Convection Oven: An oven equipped with a fan that provides continuous circulation of hot air around the food.
Cut in: To mix a solid, cold fat (like shortening or butter) with dry ingredients until the mixture takes the form of small particles. It can be done with a food processor, a handheld tool called a pastry blender, a fork, or two knives.
Dash: A very small amount of seasoning added to food. It's somewhere between 1/16 teaspoon and a scant 1/8 teaspoon.
Dice: To cut food into tiny cubes (1/8 to 1/4 inch).
Dilute: To reduce a mixture's strength by adding liquid (usually water).
Dollop: A small glob of soft food, such as whipped cream.
Dredge: To lightly coat a food with flour, cornmeal, or breadcrumbs before frying or baking.
Dust: Lightly coating a food with a powdery liquid, such as flour or powdered sugar.
Egg Wash: Egg yolk or egg white mixed with a small amount of water or milk. It's brushed over baked goods before baking to supply them gloss and color.
Pinch: The amount of dry ingredients you can hold in a pinch (between your thumb and forefinger). It's equivalent to 1/16 teaspoon.
Puree: To mash a food to a smooth, thick consistency.
SautÃ©: To cook food quickly in a small amount of oil in a skillet or sautÃ© pan over direct heat.
Spatula: A flat utensil. Some are shaped to scrape sides of the mixing bowl; others are shaped to flip foods, or to stir ingredients in a curved bowl.
Sear: To burn or scorch a food with an application of intense heat.
Simmer: To cook food gently in liquid at a temperature low enough that tiny bubbles just begin to break the surface (around 185 degrees).
Steam: A cooking method in which food is placed in a steamer basket over boiling water in a covered pan.
Stir-Fry: To quickly fry small pieces of food in a large pan over very high heat while stirring.
Whisk: A utensil with looped wires in the shape of a teardrop, used for whipping ingredients like batters, sauces, eggs, and cream. The whisk helps add air into the batter.
Zester: A utensil with tiny cutting holes on one end that creates threadlike strips of peel when pulled over the surface of a lemon lime or orange. It removes only the colored outer portion of the peel (zest).
Try it yourself. Experience a graphomotor difficulty.
This combination of tasks makes writing the highest form and most complex use of language. And as children progress through school, they are asked to do more with this skill than with any other except reading. Writing requirements increase across the curriculum -- from homework assignments and classwork to journals, note taking, quizzes, tests, and papers. Even standardized tests are moving toward fewer multiple-choice questions and more answers in the form of short paragraphs and essays.
Try it yourself. Experience an essay assignment.
Most of us write with relative ease when we jot notes to friends and loved ones. The more complex or important a writing task is, however, the more likely it is that the ease and fluidity we experience with simpler writing tasks will disappear. Writing an important letter or a company report, we may question our word choice and tone, and anxiously check and recheck to make sure what we've written makes sense.
It is probably no accident that many adults choose jobs that limit the amount of writing they have to do. Children, on the other hand, have no such luxury. They write nearly every day they are in school, from first grade on. And the accuracy, speed, and sophistication with which they write deeply impacts what they ultimately achieve scholastically. Because writing is so integral to a child's success or failure in school, identifying writing problems early is essential.
How technology can help accommodate kids' differences
Learning disabilities, by definition, limit a person's potential to learn. In school, these problems can stand like roadblocks in the way of a child's ability to understand information and ideas, and to master skills that otherwise would be well within his or her grasp. A child who cannot copy a homework assignment quickly enough may leave class with only partial instructions and a great deal of frustration and anxiety. Another child may struggle endlessly to put just a few thoughts on paper, no matter how clearly he has conceived those and many other great ideas in his mind.
While children with writing disabilities may always struggle with these barriers, they can find ways around them. Computers are providing some of these avenues. Word processing technology has had probably the greatest influence on kids with learning disabilities, especially those who struggle with writing. Word processors allow kids who physically struggle to print words on paper to type their work and to make frequent changes or major revisions with far less effort. They also allow kids who normally have problems with legibility or spelling to produce neat, spell-checked copies of their work.
Many kids, however, struggle in ways that cannot be helped by word processors alone. A child whose spelling is so poor as to be unrecognizable will benefit little from a standard spell-check tool. Another child might find it nearly impossible to understand words she reads, while she grasps most everything she hears. Fortunately, there are computer tools that can help in some cases like these.
word prediction software - helps kids who struggle with spelling by providing a list of words to choose from based on the first few letters they type
voice recognition systems - translate speech into written text, allowing a child to say what she wants to write
speech synthesis software - translates written text into speech, allowing a child to listen to textual information instead of practicing it
planning and organizing software - provides a clear structure in which to organize thoughts and ideas prior to writing
(Find more information on assistive technologies in Resources.)
While these technologies can provide learning-disabled students with a more efficient way of communicating their ideas, they all have limitations. The most obvious of these shortcomings is that the technologies alone seem to have little or no positive effect on children's long-term skill level. This means, for instance, that using word-prediction software alone will not help a student become a better speller when he's not using the program. But accommodations like this in conjunction with other strategies can Improve skills.
In a company I previously worked at, one of my bosses was a big guy with an even bigger personality. He shared his opinions loudly and broadly, and one of his opinions was that we needed to stop using the word “breakthrough.”
“If I have to hear one more time about some new ‘breakthrough’ product, I will throw you out of this office myself!” he would bellow.
Years later, I can’t help but wonder what he would think of the word “innovation.”
In May 2012, the Wall Street Journal published an article (paywall) positing that, as the word “innovation” increased in usage, it decreased in meaning. The accompanying infographic said it all:
That may seem like a lot, but remember, that data is nearly eight years old!
The desire for and investment in innovation in all its forms — accelerators, incubators, startup/venture studios, corporate venture capital teams — has only grown since 2012.
While this may seem like a good thing, the fact that the success rate of innovations hasn’t changed means that most people react to “innovation” the same way my boss reacted to “breakthrough”; if you bring it up, they throw you out.
To avoid getting thrown out of offices, one of the first things I do with my clients when we begin working to build innovation into an enduring capability within their companies is to reestablish what innovation is and is not.
Innovation IS something different that creates value.
When people hear the term “innovation,” they tend to think of new-to-the-world gadgets that fundamentally change how we live our lives. Yes, but it’s many other things, too. Let’s break down the definition:
Innovation IS NOT a one-size-fits-all term.
Think of it this way: Both a Kia and a Maserati are automobiles, but you wouldn’t expect to pay Kia’s price tag and get a Maserati (and vice versa). Similarly, both a convertible and a pickup truck are automobiles, but you wouldn’t use your convertible to carry building equipment to a construction site.
With a definition as broad as the one above, it’s possible for “innovation” to become even more meaningless as it gets applied to more things. That’s why, like automobiles, it’s important to identify different types of innovation.
There’s no universally accepted set of innovation types, which is why I recommend that companies consider defining at least three types that reflect their business and forward-looking strategies.
One of the most common sets of innovation categories is based on the degree of change required for implementation:
There are many things that need to be done to shift innovation from buzzword to business capability. Defining innovation (and at least three different types) is only the first step in moving from innovation theory and theater to building innovation into a true capability that drives sustainable growth.
Or, as I would tell my old boss, “It’s the first step. But it’s a breakthrough one.”
“Dark money” refers to spending meant to influence political outcomes where the source of the money is not disclosed. Here’s how dark money makes its way into elections:
Dark money groups have spent roughly $1 billion — mainly on television and online ads and mailers — to influence elections in the decade since the 2010 Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court ruling that gave rise to politically active nonprofits.
Citizens who are barraged with political messages paid for with money from undisclosed sources may not be able to consider the credibility and possible motives of the wealthy corporate or individual funders behind those messages.
Political jargon can get confusing. What you need to know about spending to influence elections is that there are two main types.
With this kind of spending, donors must be disclosed, contribution limits apply and organizations are allowed to coordinate their efforts to help elect a candidate. This is not dark money. These groups include candidate committees, political parties and traditional Political Action Committees (PAC).
Outside spending — sometimes referred to as independent or non-coordinated spending — refers to political spending made by organizations and individuals other than the candidate campaigns themselves. All outside groups that aren't political parties — except for a few traditional PACs that make independent expenditures — are allowed to accept unlimited sums of money from individuals, corporations or unions. With these donations, groups may engage in a number of direct political activities, including buying advertising that advocates for or against a candidate, going door to door, or running phone banks. However, these organizations are not allowed to coordinate their spending with political candidates or parties. While some outside groups — like super PACs — are required to disclose their donors, others are not. These nondisclosing organizations are referred to as dark money groups.
As the chart below illustrates, dark money groups are growing in size, scope and share of election spending with each election cycle.
Based on data released daily by the FEC. Last updated on August 23, 2023.
Whenever money is spent in a political election with the purpose of influencing the decision of a voter and the source of the money is not disclosed, it is dark money. Common types of organizations that can spend in elections while shielding the sources of their money are outlined in greater detail below.
Nonprofit, tax-exempt groups organized under section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code may engage in varying amounts of political activity. Because they are not technically political organizations, they are generally not required to disclose their donors to the public. These groups, like super PACs, cannot coordinate spending with political parties or candidates, and therefore are allowed to raise unlimited sums of money from individuals, organizations and corporations.
There are a number of types of 501(c) organizations with different structures, uses and capabilities. None of these organizations are required to publicly disclose the identity of their donors or sources of money though some disclose funding sources voluntarily.
Groups you may know: NAACP, Center for American Progress, Heritage Foundation, OpenSecrets
Groups you may know: Service Employees International Union (SEIU), American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
Based on data released daily by the FEC. Last updated on August 23, 2023.
Technically known as independent expenditure committees, super PACs may raise and spend an unlimited amount of money and accept contributions from companies, nonprofits, unions and individuals. Since super PACs cannot supply money directly to candidates, they are exempt from the limits on fundraising and spending that regular PACs must abide by.
Despite the sometimes inaccurate portrayal of them in the media, super PACs must identify all of their donors to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), and thereby to the public. They must do so on a monthly or semiannual basis in non-federal election years and monthly in the year of an election. In that sense, super PACs are quite transparent, except when the donor is a shell corporation or a nonprofit that doesn't disclose its donors.
So-called pop-up super PACs formed shortly before an election may game disclosure deadlines, enabling them to spend unlimited sums influencing races without disclosing their funding sources until after voters go to the polls.
While super PACs are not allowed to coordinate any of their independent expenditures with a candidate's campaign, many single-candidate super PACs are run by individuals who are personally close to a candidate or formerly associated with a campaign.
A hybrid PAC has the ability to operate both as a traditional PAC, contributing funds to a candidate's committee, and as a super PAC that makes independent expenditures. To do so, these committees must have a separate bank account for each purpose. The committee may collect unlimited contributions from almost any source for its independent expenditure account, but may not use those funds for its traditional PAC contributions.
Limited Liability Companies (LLC) perform a number of necessary business functions. However, their unique structure may easily be abused or used in order to hide less than above-board activity. In politics, LLCs are sometimes established to help disguise the identity of a donor or source of money spent on behalf of a political candidate.
LLCs are governed by state law, but generally, minimal information is necessary to file the required articles of incorporation. In states such as Delaware, New Mexico, Nevada and Wyoming, LLCs may be incorporated without even disclosing the names of members or managers.
This lack of accountability and transparency have helped disguise the source of millions of dollars in political spending. Shell companies make major contributions to super PACs each election cycle, leaving voters in the dark while the recipient often knows the donor's true identity.
Feel free to distribute or cite this material, but please credit the OpenSecrets. For permission to reprint for commercial uses, such as textbooks, contact OpenSecrets: firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s pretty easy to program the Raspberry Pi Pico in Python, or you can use C or C++ if you so desire. However, if you fancy the easy language of yesteryear, you might like PiccoloBASIC from [Gary Sims].
Putting it simply, piccoloBASIC is a BASIC interpreter that runs on the Raspberry Pi Pico. It features all the good bits of BASIC such as GOTO and GOSUB commands, that fancier languages kind of look down upon. It’s also got enough built-in routines to handle regular programming life, like sleeps, delays, a basic pseudorandom number source, trigonometric functions, and the ability to deal with floating point numbers. As far as microcontroller tasks go, it’s got rudimentary support for talking to GPIOs right now via the pinon and pinoff commands. However, it’s probably not the way to go if you want to bit-bang an SD card to within an inch of its speed rating.
Down the road, [Gary] hopes to add support for features like the Pico’s I2C, SPI, and PIO hardware, along with networking protocols and Bluetooth. PEEK and POKE are also hopefully on the way for those that like to fiddle with memory directly.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a different yet similar take, explore the port of MMBasic to the Pico platform. Video after the break.
Continue practicing “A BASIC Interpreter For The Raspberry Pi Pico”
I got started in astrophotography in July 2015, when I received my first telescope as a gift: an 8-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain on an altitude-azimuth mount. After nearly falling over, seeing Saturn for the first time, I decided I must attach a camera to the telescope somehow so I could share that beauty with the world.
Astrophotography is often associated with expensive telescopes, robotic mounts, and highly technical challenges. But getting started can be easier than you think: All you need is a basic DSLR and a tripod.
Images of star trails are stunning and easy to make. Start with your DSLR and a short-focal-length lens (a stock 18–55mm zoom lens at 18mm is perfect) on a tripod, and pick an area of sky. Capturing the motion of stars as they wheel around the celestial poles is particularly mesmerizing, so facing north (or south, in the Southern Hemisphere) is a good place to start. A nice foreground, such as a barn or a tent or even a distant tree line or mountain, will make for a captivating image.
In Manual mode, set the exposure time to 30 seconds and choose a relatively high ISO, such as 1600 or 3200. Use the widest f/stop, or stop down one or two if you are using a very fast lens, such as f/1.8. If your camera has a built-in multiple-exposure mode, use that to trigger it. If not, an intervalometer is an indispensable tool for all kinds of astronomy purposes. Intervalometers can be programmed to activate the shutter for you (rather than you manually depressing the shutter button), including in Bulb mode, where you can set an arbitrary exposure time. You can get an intervalometer for around $20.
Take long exposures — 15 to 60 seconds to avoid saturation — for at least one hour, although you can go all night. I recommend taking images in JPEG format for ease of processing, or you can convert raw shots to JPEGs later.
Processing star trail images is simple through free software called Startrails (www.startrails.de). Simply load all the photos, press the Startrails button, choose the mode, and watch the magic. You can import the final image into Photoshop or another image processor to tweak colors, contrast, and other details.
This same technique can be used to take time-lapse videos of objects rising or setting, such as the Milky Way, the constellation Orion, or a crescent Moon. In this case, choose a short enough exposure that the stars don’t trail as much. (Fifteen seconds is good for an 18mm lens.) Otherwise, use the same the settings and technique as for star trails.
There are many free and paid programs to turn individual frames into a video. A favorite of mine is TimeLapse DeFlicker ($35 at www.timelapsedeflicker.com), which smooths variation in light between exposures. Add some space-themed music for a fun video of the night!
Nightscape (or skyscape) images are wide-field shots of the night sky with a fascinating foreground, such as mountains, buildings, or anything else you might think of. Nightscape photos are best taken in raw format and from dark locations, far from cities.
A fast camera lens, such as a 14mm f/2, can capture the Milky Way rising using a single 20-second exposure. For an even more stunning image, photographers might take a single long exposure of the foreground — say 30 or 60 seconds, while lighting the landscape in some way — and then take several 15-second exposures of the sky to keep the stars from trailing. Stacking software can align and combine the sky exposures into one bright, high-contrast image; the photographer then replaces the sky in the foreground frame with the stacked sky frame.
Eight years after my first astroimaging experience, I now run four automated imaging rigs in my yard, with even bigger plans for the future. And I am thrilled to start sharing my knowledge and love of astronomy here!
Making the block just slightly denser would cause it to sink to the bottom.
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