30 November, 2011

The Sing-Off: Best singing competition you never watched!

The Sing-Off: Best singing competition you never watched!: NBC put some major stock in The Sing-Off. Everything was increased from before: episode order up to eleven, two-hour episodes, number contestants rose from ten groups to sixteen, promos and social media flooded the market.

So how did it fare?

Not well. The show’s been living on Monday nights at 8pm, facing stiff competition from ABC’s Dancing with the Stars and CBS’s comedy block (How I Met Your Mother, 2 Broke Girls, Two and a Half Men, and Mike and Molly). The ratings have been dismal: just 1.4 adults in the 18-49 rating for last week’s finals. All and all, a total flop.

But here’s the twist in all this: The Sing-Off is actually the best reality singing competition on television. Far better than American Idol, The X Factor, and The Voice combined. Because unlike those other shows, The Sing-Off features:

I swear this blog

We Are the 99 Percent: I am 42 years old, with a graduate degree. I am one of the lucky ones. I work three jobs. I am a teacher, an interpretr, and a braille processor. I work as much as I can because I am the sole support of my household, and I am the only one with health insurance. We live paycheck to paycheck. I am lucky, but I too am part of the 99%

Into the Light - Esquire

Into the Light - Esquire: May looked at everything in the office, and everything was fascinating. Light and information kept blasting in, and he wanted to keep up with it all, to catalog this incredible parade. When Goodman finally sent him on his way, he could not take a step down the hallway without asking Jennifer, "What's this? What's that?" He touched everything. Is that a step? Is that a flower? That's a painting? Let me feel it. Can I touch that plant? Let me touch a car. That's a red zone on the street. I can see the red."

Driving home, the world rushed in. He saw a tree that Jennifer told him was, in fact, a cement divider. He saw exit signs and recognized letters but could not read the words. He saw the water below a bridge and that the water was moving. He told Jennifer, "I'm thrilled. It's endless. This is thrilling."

The Germans go to town

A Club of Liars, Demagogues, and Fools—By Scott Horton (Harper's Magazine): Africa is a country. The Taliban rule in Libya. Muslims are terrorists. Immigrants are mostly criminals, Occupy Wall Street protesters are always dirty. And women who claim to have been sexually molested should kindly keep quiet.”

Welcome to the wonderful world of the Republican Party. Or rather: to the distorted world of its presidential campaign. For months it has coiled through the country like a traveling circus, from debate to debate, from scandal to scandal, contesting the mightiest office in the world — and nothing is ever too unfathomable for them… These eight presidential wannabes are happy enough not only to demolish their own reputations but also that of their party, the once worthy party of Abraham Lincoln. They are also ruining the reputation of the United States.

Endorsed. Waterboarding is torture.

The Torture Party:

Gingrich cements the new orthodoxy of the GOP:

Waterboarding is by every technical rule not torture. [Applause] Waterboarding is actually something we’ve done with our own pilots in order to get them used to the idea to what interrogation is like. It’s not — I’m not saying it’s not bad, and it’s not difficult, it’s not frightening. I’m just saying that under the normal rules internationally it’s not torture.

I think the right balance is that a prisoner can only be waterboarded at the direction of the president in a circumstance which the information was of such great importance that we thought it was worth the risk of doing it and I do that frankly only out of concern for world opinion. But we do not want to be known as a country that capriciously mistreats human beings.

The problem is not caprice. The problem is torture. Waterboarding by every conceivable rule is torture. No court has ever found otherwise in any country that adheres to the Geneva Conventions or the UN Coinvention on Torture signed by Ronald Reagan. Several federal court opinions define waterboarding as torture. The US government executed Japanese military leaders following World War II for waterboarding. It was judged torture in the 1926 Mississippi Supreme Court case, which Gingrich as a "historian" should know by now. It is featured in Cambodia's Museum of Torture to commemorate the abuses of the Khmer Rouge. As the UN Rapporteur on torture has said:

I don’t think there is any question, any serious question. I mean it’s a question of severity. If you think that waterboarding is not severe mistreatment you don’t really know what waterboarding is. … I mean if you then redefine upwards the severity standard to say that it’s only severe if it’s organ failure or death, then you know you’re really very clearly distorting the sense of the words and you know words have to be interpreted in treaty language, they have to be interpreted in their plain meaning and their plain meaning couldn’t be more clear in the case of waterboarding.

This is not an opinion. It is a fact. What Gingrich has said is untrue. It cannot stand. What the last president authorized was torture, a war crime under domestic and international law.

Whither Occupy? (Probably not the ballot box.)

What the Occupiers actually need to do is elect Occupy-approved candidates to Congress. If they do not do this, then their movement is meaningless – which it is, of course; but the ongoing lack of Congressional representation that is beholden to the Occupy movement will merely make that fact more obvious, more quickly (and to more people). And note that I did not write ‘have Occupy-friendly advocates in Congress:’ it’s not enough to have sitting progressive Democrats show solidarity. They don’t need Occupier support to keep their seats, you see; which limits the amount of change that Occupiers can force them to support.

And, in case nobody’s ever pointed this out to the Activist Left, let me be the first: sometimes you have to use the stick on your party’s politicians. To paraphrase Machiavelli… it’s great if your politicians love you, but it’s even better if they’re also slightly afraid of you, too. And they have to keep being slightly afraid of you, which means that you have to sustain your original effort and make it clear that you’re still paying attention to their shenanigans. In other words, electing like-minded public officials is a process, not an event (Tea Party activists, please take note).

I don't see any problem with a country buying these ads if it wishes, but it's not my business.

Netanyahu Government Suggests Israelis Avoid Marrying American Jews - Jeffrey Goldberg - International - The Atlantic: The Netanyahu government's Ministry of Immigrant Absorption is sponsoring advertisements in at least five American communities that warn Israeli expatriates that they will lose their identities if they don't return home.

The Ministry is also featuring on its website a series of short videos that, in an almost comically heavy-handed way, caution Israelis against raising their children in America -- one scare-ad shows a pair of Israeli grandparents seated before a menorah and Skypeing with their granddaughter, who lives in America. When they ask the child to name the holiday they're celebrating, she says "Christmas." In another ad, an actor playing a slightly-adenoidal, goateed young man (who, to my expert Semitic eye, is meant to represent a typical young American Jew) is shown to be oblivious to the fact that his Israeli girlfriend is in mourning on Yom HaZikaron, Israel's memorial day.

Musings On Iraq: How Iraq’s Oil Plans May Set Back The Country’s Economy

Musings On Iraq: How Iraq’s Oil Plans May Set Back The Country’s Economy: Iraq has the potential to become an oil superpower. It is expanding and repairing its petroleum infrastructure, and plans on bringing in more foreign companies next year. That would seem to be beneficial for the country, and offer wealth to the entire nation. Instead, the boost in the petroleum industry will enrich the government, which has proven incapable of managing its funds. More useless government jobs will be created, more large development projects will be announced with many failing to come to fruition, and there will be even less reason for the authorities to push the private sector.

The Prosecution’s Case Against DNA - NYTimes.com

The Prosecution’s Case Against DNA - NYTimes.com: More often, though, the fate of an inmate with powerful new evidence of innocence still rests with local prosecutors, some of whom have spun creative theories to explain away the exculpatory findings. In Nassau County on Long Island, after DNA evidence showed that the sperm in a 16-year-old murder victim did not come from the man convicted of the crime, prosecutors argued that it must have come from a consensual lover, even though her mother and best friend insisted she was a virgin. (The unnamed-lover theory has been floated so often that defense lawyers have a derisive term for it: “the unindicted co-�ejaculator.”) In Florida, after DNA showed that the pubic hairs at the scene of a rape did not belong to the convicted rapist, prosecutors argued that the hairs found on the victim’s bed could have come from movers who brought furniture to the bedroom a week or so earlier.

BUSTED! Secret app on millions of phones logs key taps • The Register

BUSTED! Secret app on millions of phones logs key taps • The Register: An Android app developer has published what he says is conclusive proof that millions of smartphones are secretly monitoring the key presses, geographic locations, and received messages of its users.

In a YouTube video posted on Monday, Trevor Eckhart showed how software from a Silicon Valley company known as Carrier IQ recorded in real time the keys he pressed into a stock EVO handset, which he had reset to factory settings just prior to the demonstration. Using a packet sniffer while his device was in airplane mode, he demonstrated how each numeric tap and every received text message is logged by the software.

29 November, 2011

The Sing-Off’s Sara Bareilles on Selling A Cappella and Shows Like American Idol -- Vulture

The Sing-Off’s Sara Bareilles on Selling A Cappella and Shows Like American Idol -- Vulture: It’s tough, because the TV world has become more and more sensationalistic and I think some of our direct competition feeds into that. I’m not judging whether it’s good or bad, but I think the eye of the audience member is drawn to the most bombastic version. The heart of this show really stays with harmony, that’s something Ben Folds brought up early on in our journey: This show is about harmony, and a lot of shows are about dissonance.

Be a Jerk: The Worst Business Lesson from the Steve Jobs Biography - Tom McNichol - Business - The Atlantic

Be a Jerk: The Worst Business Lesson from the Steve Jobs Biography - Tom McNichol - Business - The Atlantic: The fact is, Steve Jobs didn't succeed because he was an asshole. He succeeded because he was Steve Jobs. He had an uncanny sixth sense about what consumers wanted, an unmatched ability to adapt existing technology and turn it into something new, and a commitment to quality that turned ordinary Apple customers into fans for life. Being an asshole was part of the Steve package, but it wasn't essential to his success. But that's not a message most of the assholes in the corner offices want to hear.

wired.com by Mobify

wired.com by Mobify: The Iran hostage crisis, which would go on for 444 days, shaking America's confidence and sinking President Jimmy Carter's reelection campaign, had begun. Americans would soon be haunted by Khomeini's grim visage, and well-armed Islamic militants would parade blindfolded hostages across the nightly news and threaten trials for the "spies" that they'd captured. Everyone remembers the 52 Americans trapped at the embassy and the failed rescue attempt a few months later that ended with a disastrous Army helicopter crash in the Iranian desert. But not many know the long- classified details of the CIA's involvement in the escape of the other group — thrust into a hostile city in the throes of revolution.

By 3 o'clock that afternoon, the five people huddled in Anders' one-bedroom apartment realized they were in serious trouble. As the militants seized control, there were fewer English speakers on the radio net. Codename Palm Tree had fled. After the last holdouts in the chancery's vault radioed their surrender, the only voices coming through the box were speaking in Farsi. The embassy was lost. The escapees were on their own.

News Desk: Central Booking : The New Yorker

News Desk: Central Booking : The New Yorker: To be on the other side of the law-and-order machine in this country is awful. It is dehumanizing, and degrading, and deforming. It fills you with a helpless rage: because, once there, you can only make things worse for yourself by speaking up. From the brown phone in our cell at the Tombs, I’d called Emily a few times, and I called the office of n 1, the magazine where I’m an editor. But it felt like those people, my friends, might as well have been on a different planet. They could do what they pleased when they pleased. We could not. I left the world of jail with plenty of relief but more than anything with a sense of unease that I still can’t quite shake. We will be judged as a society and as a culture by how we treated our meanest and most vulnerable citizens. If we keep going the way we’re going, we will be judged very, very harshly—and sooner, perhaps, than we think.

Thanks FTC!

Facebook Settles FTC Charges That It Deceived Consumers By Failing To Keep Privacy Promises: Facebook told users they could restrict sharing of data to limited audiences – for example with "Friends Only." In fact, selecting "Friends Only" did not prevent their information from being shared with third-party applications their friends used.
Facebook had a "Verified Apps" program & claimed it certified the security of participating apps. It didn't.
Facebook promised users that it would not share their personal information with advertisers. It did.
Facebook claimed that when users deactivated or deleted their accounts, their photos and videos would be inaccessible. But Facebook allowed access to the content, even after users had deactivated or deleted their accounts.
Facebook claimed that it complied with the U.S.- EU Safe Harbor Framework that governs data transfer between the U.S. and the European Union. It didn't.

28 November, 2011

An Open Letter to the Left | Alas, a Blog

An Open Letter to the Left | Alas, a Blog: Look, as we on the left are fond of hurling at the right, we’re entitled to our own opinions, but not our own facts. And too often lately, the left is going on with their own facts at the same time the right is going on with theirs. And this leads us to where we are now, where there is literally no common ground between the activists in both parties, because both sides are so certain that they are right, and everyone else is wrong.

The truth is messy. It doesn’t fit into narratives, and it’s often uncomfortable. But damn it, it’s the truth. If the left decides to completely divorce itself from reality at the same time the right does, then we are in trouble — big trouble.

So, lefties, I am asking you politely: please stop. Stop pretending that questionable sources are the gospel truth. Stop pretending that rumor and innuendo are the same as facts. Stop listening to anything Moore and Wolf and Hamsher are saying — because their concern for the truth is roughly the same as that of Hannity and Limbaugh and Coulter, and believe me, it pains me to say that, but it’s true.

27 November, 2011

President Obama Weighs Harry Truman Strategy for 2012 Reelection Campaign - The Daily Beast

President Obama Weighs Harry Truman Strategy for 2012 Reelection Campaign - The Daily Beast: If McConnell concludes that, in an election year focused on the wealth gap, the GOP’s stance on taxes could backfire and cost Republicans their chance to control the Senate, or threaten their majority in the House, then Obama might have a negotiating partner. “The best way to reach a deal for Obama is to pull out the partisan cudgel and slam them between the eyes repeatedly,” says Ornstein. “They’ll only come to the table if their political brand is damaged. They’re not coming for the good of the country.”

Republicans want voters to believe that the supercommittee failed because Obama didn’t show leadership. No one in the White House will admit to a conscious decision to let the supercommittee combust on its own, but that was the practical result. Obama did inject a plan of his own into the deliberations with a 65-page roadmap that the White House released right after Labor Day. It incorporated elements of the Simpson-Bowles deficit commission, which Obama had created but then largely ignored.

26 November, 2011

The Top 10 Relationship Words That Aren't Translatable Into English | Marriage 3.0 | Big Think

The Top 10 Relationship Words That Aren't Translatable Into English | Marriage 3.0 | Big Think: Retrouvailles (French): The happiness of meeting again after a long time.

This is such a basic concept, and so familiar to the growing ranks of commuter relationships, or to a relationship of lovers, who see each other only periodically for intense bursts of pleasure. I’m surprised we don’t have any equivalent word for this subset of relationship bliss. It’s a handy one for modern life.

Fishy Business Here

What Really Happened to Strauss-Kahn? by Edward Jay Epstein | The New York Review of Books: May 14, 2011, was a horrendous day for Dominique Strauss-Kahn, then head of the International Monetary Fund and leading contender to unseat Nicolas Sarkozy as president of France in the April 2012 elections. Waking up in the presidential suite of the Sofitel New York hotel that morning, he was supposed to be soon enroute to Paris and then to Berlin where he had a meeting the following day with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He could not have known that by late afternoon he would, instead, be imprisoned in New York on a charge of sexual assault. He would then be indicted by a grand jury on seven counts of attempted rape, sexual assault, and unlawful imprisonment, placed under house arrest for over a month, and, two weeks before all the charges were dismissed by the prosecutor on August 23, 2011, sued for sexual abuse by the alleged victim.

25 November, 2011

How London Tried (and Failed) to Become a Cycling City | This Big City

How London Tried (and Failed) to Become a Cycling City | This Big City: One potential reason for these differing reactions could be our collective experience of bicycle use during World War II. Occupying Germans stole thousands of bicycles from the Dutch when they seized the Netherlands, leaving them unable to transport themselves in the manner they were used to. In Britain, however, strict petrol rationing meant bicycle use rose considerably as, for many, it was the only way to get around. The actions of war meant that the Dutch lost their bicycles, but the British were forced on to them.

As soon as the Brits had the opportunity to get off their bicycles they did, with car ownership increasing rapidly in the post-war years, and continuing to remain high. This despite the fact that, as in the Netherlands, campaigns to improve London’s bicycle provisions and encourage a return to bicycle use have been happening since the 1970s.

Dear Princeton Law School

Dear Princeton Law School: Early-1957, Harvey Wax — a young man hoping to one day become a lawyer — sent an application letter to Princeton University's Law School and crossed his fingers. A short time later, he received the following rejection letter. It never fails to amuse me.

It's worth noting that Mr. Wax subsequently applied to Harvard's Law School, was far more successful, and to this day works as a lawyer.

Transcript follows. Image from Bill Shapiro's excellent book, Other Peole's Rejection Letters.



February 11, 1957

Dear Mr. Wax:

In reply to your recent letter, I regret that we must inform you that Princeton University has no Law School.

Sincerely yours,


Joseph L. Bolster, Jr.

Mr. Harvey Wax

1805 Washtenaw

Ann Arbor, Michigan


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24 November, 2011

Agreed, somewhat.

The Liberal Critique of Obama: Judging the President by His Own Standards - Conor Friedersdorf - Politics - The Atlantic: I thought Obama got this. That's what he promised, again and again. That was "the reason [he] was running for President[--]to challenge that system." Yet Obama hasn't played the game that he promised. Instead, the game he has played has been exactly the game that Hillary Clinton promised and that Bill Clinton executed: striking a bargain with the most powerful lobbyists as a way to get a bill through--and as it turns out, the people don't have the most powerful lobbyists. As I watched this strategy unfold, I could not believe it. The idealist in me certainly could not believe that Obama would run a campaign grounded in "change" yet execute an administration that changed nothing of the "way Washington works."

Conspiracy theorists, east your heart out

Sinister Sites: The Georgia Guidestones | The Vigilant Citizen: The Georgia Guidestones is an enigmatic granite monument situated in Elbert County, Georgia. Also known as the American Stonehedge, the gigantic structure is almost 20 feet high and is made of six granite slabs, weighing in total 240,000 pounds. The most astonishing detail of the monument is however not its size but the message engraved into it: Ten rules for an “Age of Reason”. These guides touch upon subjects that are associated with the “New World Order”, including massive depopulation, a single world government, the introduction of a new type of spirituality, etc. The authors of those rules have requested to remain totally anonymous and, until now, their anonymity has been duly preserved. However, this mysterious group left a text explaining the reasoning behind the rules, a text that was not discussed online before. With this new information, the purpose behind the Guidestones become very clear, leaving little room for hypotheses. The Guidestones describe the ideal world, as envisioned by occult Secret Societies. The monument is therefore proof of an existing link between secret societies, the world elite and the push for a New World Order.

Not real. Yet.

Stanford creates everlasting battery electrode & free, water-based electrolyte | ExtremeTech: ow, batteries are already extensively used in the power grid to even out the peaks and troughs of generation and consumption — but such batteries are incredibly expensive, must be regularly maintained, and have very short lifespans. Stanford, however, has developed a new battery electrode that can survive 40,000 charge/discharge cycles — enough for 30 years of use on the grid. Its ruggedness and longevity is a virtue of the material being used: copper hexacyanoferrate.

NFL: The All-22 Football Footage the League Won't Show You - WSJ.com

NFL: The All-22 Football Footage the League Won't Show You - WSJ.com: Every play during an NFL game is filmed from multiple angles in high definition. There are cameras hovering over the field, cameras lashed to the goalposts and cameras pointed at the coaches, who have to cover their mouths to call plays.

But for all the footage available, and despite the $4 billion or so the NFL makes every year by selling its broadcast rights, there's some footage the league keeps hidden.


The Closed, Unfriendly World Of Wikipedia: Right now, Wikipedia is busy asking for donations to stay afloat. Here’s a thought. If it wants donations, maybe open things up so that outsiders feel like they can contribute expert knowledge without wasting their time.

“Mahna Mahna”: How a ditty from a soft-core Italian movie became the Muppets’ catchiest tune. - Slate Magazine

“Mahna Mahna”: How a ditty from a soft-core Italian movie became the Muppets’ catchiest tune. - Slate Magazine: Mahna Mahna, as the character would come to be known, made his televised debut on Nov. 27, 1969, during Sesame Street’s first season. (The YouTube clip below reads Nov. 30, but the authoritative MuppetWiki says Nov. 27.) The setup is identical to the more familiar Muppet Show version, with Mahna Mahna’s hoarse scat pitted against the dulcet “doo dee doo” of the twin Snouths (a portmanteau of “snout” and “mouth”), who shake their heads and purse their lips in disapproval when their irrepressible colleague strays from the script. In Street Gang, Michael Davis’s history of Sesame Street, several of Henson’s colleagues describe his artistic style as “affectionate anarchy,” and it doesn’t take much in the way of exegesis to see an anti-conformist message at work here.

Home for the Holidays | Longform.org

Home for the Holidays | Longform.org: This led to a series of questions about other people in the world that marked the end of my parents’ genius. Up to that point, Dad was an authority on aerodynamics and clouds. Mom knew the names of really fancy diseases and could spell anything. They could identify any animal and tap dance adequately around tougher questions. But right then, my world got bigger than theirs. And I developed a preoccupation with the fleeting consecutive “nows” that passed in distant places without my experience of them. I plotted to replace the sacrificed contentment of home with my very own big world.

The myth of renewable energy | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

The myth of renewable energy | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: There are now seven billion humans on this planet. Until we find a way to reduce our energy consumption and to share Earth's finite resources more equitably among nations and generations, "renewable" energy might as well be called "miscellaneous."

23 November, 2011

Woman Charged For Telling Airline Her Ex-Lover Was Terror Threat | Fox News

Woman Charged For Telling Airline Her Ex-Lover Was Terror Threat | Fox News: Temple City resident Lizet Sariol called United Airlines on Sept. 25 to say there would "be an emergency" on a Las Vegas to Paris flight, according to a criminal complaint filed by the federal government.

Prosecutors allege the 45-year-old woman was seeking revenge on a man who she'd had sexual encounters with over four meetings -- and who had just unfriended her on Facebook, among other rejections.

What An Angry, Conservative Belgian Could Tell The GOP. | RedState

What An Angry, Conservative Belgian Could Tell The GOP. | RedState: to modernize the decision-making-procedures of this country;

This could be done by simplification. If the laws are too numerous and too complex to be intelligently understood and applied, three things happen. Corruption leads to unethical thievery and dishonest special pleading. Confusion leads to inaction and non-enforcement (which then renders all of the diverse regulations useless to the cause of protecting the tax-paying citizenry.) Complexity leads to human error and unintended consequences. Nobody in their right minds should feel safe or liberated while they live under a government that is too complex to adequately monitor or understand.

Story! Story! ...uh....

Homeland Security: No 'malicious activity' linked to water pump - Springfield, IL - The State Journal-Register: Curran-Gardner water district officials are happy that federal officials have ruled out a cyber attack as the cause of a water pump failure at the district.

“The whole thing was a general pain,” Don Craven, a trustee of the Curran-Gardner Township Public Water District, said Tuesday.

“First, they tell us that it’s the first instance of cyber hacking in the entire world, and everyone goes nuts. Now, all of a sudden, they tell us it’s not.”

A contrary take

The New Inquiry - Grudge Lust: Hate is not the actual opposite of love. Hatred is the opposite of a far more insidious and menacing emotion: apathy. Hazlitt notes that “we cannot bear a state of indifference and ennui.” When the tedium of our lives lulls us into nonchalance, then we are really in danger of blending into the wallpaper, of mattering little and to few. But when one hates something, one takes a stand for oneself and for one’s values. Hating is important because it keeps things interesting. It allows us to take the most omnipresent and heartbreaking emotion in life — disappointment — and weave it into something garish and bright. Even if you are just hurling silent insults at a nemesis who doesn’t know you exist, the effect is the same. You are awake.

Penn State scandal: How what happened in State College forced me to confront my own abuse. - Slate Magazine

Penn State scandal: How what happened in State College forced me to confront my own abuse. - Slate Magazine: I have always encouraged students to bring current events to class, and the Penn State situation was nearly impossible to avoid last week. Still, I had prayed no one would ask about it because I was not sure I could make it through any sort of answer. As I’d feared, the question stopped me cold.

I have spent the better part of my life working to cover wounds from my own childhood abuse, about which I have never spoken publicly. In fact, I’ve hardly talked about it at all; I can count on two hands the number of people who know anything about it. Some of my siblings will learn of it from this article.

The Pest Who Shames Companies Into Fixing Security Flaws | Magazine

The Pest Who Shames Companies Into Fixing Security Flaws | Magazine: When the FBI showed up, Soghoian asked the agents to wait a moment, went to his computer, and posted a quick note to his blog—”FBI are at the door. Off to chat.”—then told them to come back with a warrant. They did. “Having my own computer seized by the FBI turned what had been an academic interest in privacy into something that directly impacted my life,” Soghoian says. “I saw firsthand how a massive government agency can, in my opinion, abuse its power to go after a critic of government policies. That one experience made it very easy to see the government as an adversary, against which I continue to fight.”

When Did Liberals Become So Unreasonable?

When Did Liberals Become So Unreasonable?: For almost all of the past 60 years, liberals have been in a near-constant emotional state of despair, punctuated only by brief moments of euphoria and occasional rage. When they’re not in charge, things are so bleak they threaten to move to Canada; it’s almost more excruciating when they do win elections, and their presidents fail in essentially the same ways: He is too accommodating, too timid, too unwilling or unable to inspire the populace. (Except for Johnson, who was a bloodthirsty warmonger.)

Is it really likely that all these presidents have suffered from the same character flaws? Suppose you’re trying to find dates online, and everybody you meet turns out to be too ugly. Might it be possible that the problem isn’t the attractiveness of the single people in your town but rather your standards?

THIS IS AWESOME. And sucky for the sea creatures.

BBC Nature - 'Brinicle' ice finger of death filmed in Antarctic: With timelapse cameras, specialists recorded salt water being excluded from the sea ice and sinking.

The temperature of this sinking brine, which was well below 0C, caused the water to freeze in an icy sheath around it.

Where the so-called "brinicle" met the sea bed, a web of ice formed that froze everything it touched, including sea urchins and starfish.

The unusual phenomenon was filmed for the first time by cameramen Hugh Miller and Doug Anderson for the BBC One series Frozen Planet

Debunking Obama’s So-Called Leadership Failure -- Daily Intel

Debunking Obama’s So-Called Leadership Failure -- Daily Intel: What is at least somewhat remarkable is that Republicans have taken up this talking point as well. Today’s The Wall Street Journal editorial page shakes its head that Obama should have “honored the findings of his own Bowles–Simpson deficit commission.” A companion op-ed by Representative Jeb Hensarling, a member of the supercommittee, laments that Democrats rejected “the approach to tax reform used by recent bipartisan deficit reduction efforts such as the Bowles–Simpson fiscal commission.” That would be the same Bowles–Simpson plan that the Journal editorial page opposed and that Hensarling voted against.

Pamela Geller: Beware "Stealth Halal" Turkeys This Thanksgiving | Mother Jones

Pamela Geller: Beware "Stealth Halal" Turkeys This Thanksgiving | Mother Jones: Now, assuming Geller's right about Butterball turkeys being halal, you might think that in a capitalist economy, halal turkeys are a sign of meat sellers responding to market demand for food prepared a certain way. You might even be tempted to observe that Muslim Americans marking a secular, American holiday celebrating pluralism and freedom from religious persecution might be a sign of the extent to which American Muslims have assimilated into American culture. What you didn't know was that when markets respond to the demands of Muslim consumers, freedom dies.

Libya: Post-Khadafy

Libya: Post-Khadafy:

It's been just over a month since the capture and death of Libyan dictator Moammar Khadafy, ending his 42-year reign. Since then, the rebels have declared that the nation is liberated, installed a transitional government, and started the process of writing a constitution. Still, substantial problems remain. Pockets of fighting have erupted among rival tribes and some rebels have refused to give up their cache of weapons. Doctors continue to struggle to treat the wounded and sick, with a few of the most severely injured being sent to rehabilitation centers in Boston and elsewhere. Last weekend, Khadafy’s son, Seif, was captured and could face war crimes for his part in the conflict. -- Lloyd Young (EDITOR'S NOTE: We will not post a Big Picture on Friday, November 25, due to the Thanksgiving Holiday.) (40 photos total)

Anti-Khadafy fighters acknowledge the crowd during a review of the brigades from the eastern region to commemorate the liberation of Quiche in Benghazi Oct. 27. (Esam Al-Fetori/Reuters)

The other side of a story

Shame On You, Wall Street Journal - Onward State: It’s a powerful message that the only real damage from the “riots” two weeks ago came in the form of a tipped news van. I don’t mean to condone the actions of a few idiots–it was wrong, in every way–but it was emblematic of our frustration with a media that came to Happy Valley with one goal in mind: burying our iconic coach.

And now, a fortnight later, with the damage already done, The Wall Street Journal has joined those ranks, running a story that not only fails to be timely, but is also hardly fair and blatantly unbalanced.

It’s shocking and discouraging–if not completely unsurprising, given how this month has gone–to see a major newspaper give a forum to a disgruntled former employee for the voicing of grievances. Vicky Triponey, the former (and disgraced) Vice President for Student Affairs at Penn State, clearly went to the newspaper, selling a story, and in another sad chapter of this affair, the Journal bought it.

Friedman is right

Go Big, Mr. Obama - NYTimes.com: Obama aides argue that so many G.O.P. lawmakers are committed to making his presidency fail, or have signed pledges to an antitax cult, that they would never buy into any grand bargain. I think that is true for a lot of Republicans in Congress. But I have some questions: Why are the Republicans getting away with this? Why are so many independents and even Democrats who voted for Obama sitting on their hands? Obama owns the bully pulpit of the presidency and he’s losing to Grover Norquist? Also, assuming it is all true about the G.O.P., how can Obama trump them? I think he can, if he leads in a new way.

American troop deployments: Boots on the ground | The Economist

American troop deployments: Boots on the ground | The Economist: Where American troops have served during the past 60 years

THE American government is keen to show its commitment to security in Asia by putting boots on the ground there. As this analysis shows, the number of American troops (Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force active duty personnel) in Asia is only slightly smaller than the number in Europe, where Americans in uniform are largely a hangover from the carve-up of the continent at the Yalta conference in 1945.

Also Clyburn, and Becarra, right?

Jon Kyl’s search-and-destroy mission - The Washington Post: “Walking napalm” is how one Democratic aide involved in the supercommittee described Kyl this week. And if the senator makes some mistakes as he burns down the village — well, that’s just a cost of doing business. Earlier this year, when Kyl was leading an effort to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood, he claimed on the Senate floor that abortion is “well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does.” The actual number is 3 percent. An aide to Kyl explained: “His remark was not intended to be a factual statement.”

As Kyl leaves the Senate, he will be remembered as a lawmaker who intended to be not factual but destructive.

Questlove should apologize for the sex-based insult

Why Jimmy Fallon Apologized To Michelle Bachmann -- And Why It Doesn't Matter - Business Insider: The Roots didn't start out as a late night orchestra.

They're a multiplatinum, groundbreaking band with scores of fans -- in fact, when Fallon's show first launched, the idea of them becoming a group with a day job (or, rather, a late-night job) was baffling.

The gig worked out because Fallon's show is innovative and has a loose fan intimacy. The Roots' cred came out unscathed, and Fallon has always treated them as part of the cast, not backup singers.

And while host Fallon may have over 4 million Twitter followers, the band's de facto leader Questlove is no slouch with 1.7 million.

He hasn't made any conciliatory statements. Fallon's word will likely be the last one -- but it still means only one of the show's stars apologized.

22 November, 2011

No integrity

News Desk: Why Didn’t Reporters Call Romney a Liar? : The New Yorker: This is one of those cases where a candidate has put out something that is demonstrably false. If a journalist or writer quoted someone in such an intellectually dishonest way, you would never trust the person’s writing again. And yet this episode is being reported by some as a clever tactic by the Romney camp to spark a debate about the ad’s accuracy that will serve to highlight its overall message that Obama has been a failure. (See, it worked!)

Here’s one example, from a very fine reporter at Politico whom I do not mean to pick on:

“The sicario: A Ju�rez hit man speaks” by Charles Bowden (Harpers) � Various Enthusiasms

“The sicario: A Ju�rez hit man speaks” by Charles Bowden (Harpers) � Various Enthusiasms: I am ready for the story of all the dead men who last saw his face.

As I drank coffee and tried to frame questions in my mind, a crime reporter in Ju�rez was cut down beside his eight-year-old daughter as they sat in his car letting it warm up. This morning as I drove down here, a Toyota passed me with a bumper sticker that read, with a heart symbol, i love love. This morning I tried to remember how I got to this rendezvous.

I was in a distant city and a man told me of the killer and how he had hidden him. He said at first he feared him, but he was so useful. He would clean everything and cook all the time and get on his hands and knees and polish his shoes. I took him on as a favor, he explained.

I said, “I want him. I want to put him on paper.”

And so I came.

The End of Borders and the Future of Books - BusinessWeek

The End of Borders and the Future of Books - BusinessWeek: The one thing Borders did have going for it was its huge selection, yet even that wasn’t worth as much as the company thought. An average Borders superstore stocked around 140,000 titles at immense cost, but if a customer craves selection, no store can compete with the long tail of the Internet. Maybe more crucially for Borders, the assortment of titles that provided the key to its identity didn’t give it a competitive edge over Barnes & Noble. Mark Evans, a director of merchandising strategy and analytics at Borders until 2009, says that the company surveyed customers to understand why Barnes & Noble, with its slimmer selection, continued to clobber them in terms of year-over-year growth, average sales per store, and even the number of books sold at each location. “Customers didn’t notice our larger assortment of books,” Evans laments. “They didn’t care.”

21 November, 2011

so. much. data.

xkcd: Money

BBC News - Eurozone debt web: Who owes what to whom?

BBC News - Eurozone debt web: Who owes what to whom?: The circle below shows the gross external, or foreign, debt of some of the main players in the eurozone as well as other big world economies. The arrows show how much money is owed by each country to banks in other nations. The arrows point from the debtor to the creditor and are proportional to the money owed as of the end of June 2011. The colours attributed to countries are a rough guide to how much trouble each economy is in.

Wow (from Facebook)

Four degrees of separation.

The idea of ‘six degrees of separation’ -- that any two people are on average separated by no more than six intermediate connections -- was first proposed in 1929 in a short story by Hungarian author Frigyes Karinthy, and made popular by the John Guare play and movie, Six Degrees of Separation. The idea was first put to the test by Stanley Milgram in the 1960’s. Milgram selected 296 volunteers and asked them to dispatch a message to a specific individual, a stockholder living in the Boston suburb of Sharon, Massachusetts. The volunteers were told that they couldn’t send the message directly to the target person (unless the sender knew them personally), but that they should route the message to a personal acquaintance that was more likely than the sender to know the target person. Milgram found that the average number of intermediate persons in these chains was 5.2 (representing about 6 hops). The experiment showed that not only are there few degrees of separation between any two people, but that individuals can successfully navigate these short paths, even though they have no way of seeing the entire network.

While we will never know if it was true in 1929, the scale and international reach of Facebook allows us to finally perform this study on a global scale. Using state-of-the-art algorithms developed at the Laboratory for Web Algorithmics of the Università degli Studi di Milano, we were able to approximate the number of hops between all pairs of individuals on Facebook. We found that six degrees actually overstates the number of links between typical pairs of users: While 99.6% of all pairs of users are connected by paths with 5 degrees (6 hops), 92% are connected by only four degrees (5 hops). And as Facebook has grown over the years, representing an ever larger fraction of the global population, it has become steadily more connected. The average distance in 2008 was 5.28 hops, while now it is 4.74.

Thus, when considering even the most distant Facebook user in the Siberian tundra or the Peruvian rainforest, a friend of your friend probably knows a friend of their friend. When we limit our analysis to a single country, be it the US, Sweden, Italy, or any other, we find that the world gets even smaller, and most pairs of people are only separated by 3 degrees (4 hops). It is important to note that while Milgram was motivated by the same question (how many individuals separate any two people), these numbers are not directly comparable; his subjects only had limited knowledge of the social network, while we have a nearly complete representation of the entire thing. Our measurements essentially describe the shortest possible routes that his subjects could have found.

Like everyone in media isn't like this....

Sarah Palin Got Scolded by Roger Ailes for Not Announcing Her Non-Candidacy on Fox News -- Daily Intel: Sarah Palin's announcement that she wouldn't run for president disappointed her legions of admirers — but it infuriated Roger Ailes. The Fox News chief wasn't angry about the decision itself. Rather, he was livid that Palin made the October 5 announcement on Mark Levin's conservative talk-radio program, robbing Fox News of an exclusive and a possible ratings bonanza.

Pay Some Students To Drop Out?

Pay Some Students To Drop Out?:

A couple of Yale Law professors make the case for a first-year rebate option:

Consider the innovative employment policy of the Internet shoe seller Zappos. At the end of a four-week training course, Zappos offers new employees a one-time offer of $3,000 to quit. In part, the company uses the offer as a screening device. If you’re the type who prefers a quick three grand to the opportunity to work at a great company, then Zappos isn’t the place for you. 

Law schools might analogously offer to rebate half of a student’s first-year tuition if the student opts to quit school at the end of the first year. (If the student has taken out government loans, this rebate would first go to repay this debt.)  A half-tuition rebate splits the loss of an aborted legal career between the school and the student. Each has skin in the game, so students will not go to law school lightly, and law schools will have better incentives not to admit students likely to fail.

How We Were All Misled by John Lanchester | The New York Review of Books

How We Were All Misled by John Lanchester | The New York Review of Books: The collective momentum of a culture is, for more or less everybody more or less all of the time, overwhelming. This is especially true for anything to do with economics. The evidence is clear: it is easy to mislead people about money, and easy to lead members of the public astray both individually and en masse, because when it comes to money, most of us, most of the time, don’t know what we’re doing. The corollary is also clear: the whole Western world misled itself over debt, and the road back from where we are goes only uphill.

Truth is not always obvious

The pride of the Galax Police is not the Lenco Bearcat rather it is the young men and women who serve the City of Galax on a daily basis. The vehicle was not purchased by the City of Galax it is housed here as part of a regional partnership. The vehicle is a multi-faceted incident response vehicle that is designed for operation in high risk situations including hazardous material spills, explosions and other disasters.

"superior leverage?"

We all understand the necessity to compromise, but we would expect to enjoy benefits from such compromise that are commensurate to our superior leverage.  Let’s review the scorecard of the debt deal:

Benefits for Democrats

  • Obamacare is preserved and shielded from cuts

  • Obama-era discretionary and mandatory spending levels are permanently enshrined

  • All welfare programs are exempt even from baseline cuts

  • After accruing $4 trillion in debt, Obama gets green light to run up an additional $2.1 trillion

  • Obama doesn’t have to request another politically damaging debt increase – until after the election

  • The creation of Supercommittee charged with deficit reduction, not spending cuts, opens the door for tax increases, while endangering Bush tax cuts – an opportunity they would have never enjoyed

  • Failure of Supercommittee leads to automatic cuts in defense – an opportunity they would have never enjoyed

  • Dems are not forced into transformational change with passage of BBA

  • The deal overwrote the entire Ryan budget, obviating any further GOP leverage on budget policy for the rest of the year

Benefits for Republicans

  • $917 billion in baseline discretionary cuts over 10 years

  • The creation of 18th debt commission is somehow the Republican part of the deal

  • There is a required vote on a BBA

  • The only saving grace is Phil Gramm’s jujitsu plan to preempt sequestration with an alternative privileged amendment that repeals Obamacare with a simple majority.  Will they have the guts to use it?

As The Hill reporter Molly Hooper noted last week, “Democrats’ Satan Sandwich is starting to taste pretty good.”

19 November, 2011

Economics focus: Exports to Mars | The Economist

Economics focus: Exports to Mars | The Economist: *

ECONOMISTS are constantly urging governments to adopt policies that would reduce global imbalances—which, in crude terms, means that China should slash its current-account surplus and America its deficit. Yet they ignore the biggest imbalance of all: the current-account surplus that planet Earth appears to run with extraterrestrials. In theory, countries’ current-account balances should all sum to zero because one country’s export is another’s import. However, if you add up all countries’ reported current-account transactions (exports minus imports of goods and services, net investment income, workers’ remittances and other transfers), the world exported $331 billion more than it imported in 2010, according to the IMF’s World Economic Outlook. The fund forecasts that the global current-account surplus will rise to almost $700 billion by 2014.

............I find this piece sanctimonious at best

Four Basic Principles That #OWS Can Implement to Address its White Privilege, Colonialist, White Supremacy [First Draft]: OWS has a white, cis male, able-bodied face and agenda. But before I get to that, I want to acknowledge and honor that there have been people of color (POC), lgtbq people, people with disabilities and many other people who experience oppression every day that are fighting to have their voices heard within this movement and who have been doing the work that is necessary to make this an inclusive movement. What I am now proposing is that those people in a position of privilege do the work necessary to make OWS across the country a safe space for more people to participate.

7 Charts That Sum Up Our Jobs Mess

7 Charts That Sum Up Our Jobs Mess: The problem today is that education isn't keeping up with changes in technology -- that's the race against the machine. With it comes a winner-take-all environment and all kinds of inequalities, not the least of which is the reality that the real winners of today's economy are those who can invest, not those who can work. That gap will eventually rebalance, but getting there is slow, painful, and can potentially leave a generation of workers behind.

No justification

Open Letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi | UCDavis Bicycle Barricade: Police used batons to try to push the students apart. Those they could separate, they arrested, kneeling on their bodies and pushing their heads into the ground. Those they could not separate, they pepper-sprayed directly in the face, holding these students as they did so. When students covered their eyes with their clothing, police forced open their mouths and pepper-sprayed down their throats. Several of these students were hospitalized. Others are seriously injured. One of them, forty-five minutes after being pepper-sprayed down his throat, was still coughing up blood.

This is what happened. You are responsible for it.

I think this ignores the "owns" versus "works at" phenomenon.

Inequality and Occupy Wall Street 4: daddy put you in the top 1% ! � milescorak: The bottom line is that about 40% of us have at some point worked for exactly the same firm that at some point also employed our fathers. But if dad’s earnings put him in the top 25% these chances are above average, they start taking off if dad was in the top 5%, and reach the stratosphere for top earners. Almost 7 out of 10 sons of top earning dads had a job with his employer.

18 November, 2011


Climb-down of the day - Ben Smith - POLITICO.com

Climb-down of the day - Ben Smith - POLITICO.com: NEWSBUSTERS: As you are now the lone conservative host on MSNBC, conservatives around the country, especially our readers, see you as being the lone conservative voice on an extremely liberal network, and as such when that lone conservative voice is moving to the left because, and maybe it’s warranted…

SCARBOROUGH: Wait, but hold on. I think you have a fair point, but before you finish, let me interrupt you.

A Trip to Bhutan

A Trip to Bhutan:

The Kingdom of Bhutan is a small Himalayan country east of Nepal, nestled between China and India, with an estimated population of 700,000. Last month, Bhutan celebrated the wedding of monarch Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the fifth Druk Gyalpo ("Dragon King"), to 21-year-old commoner Jetsun Pema, now Druk Gyal-tsuen ("Dragon Queen") of Bhutan. The deeply traditional nation has been slow to adopt modern development; a country-wide ban on television and the Internet was only lifted in 1999, and only after the previous king abdicated power in 2006 did the nation have its first parliamentary elections. Bhutan, often rated as one of the happiest countries in the world, is the birthplace of the concept of "gross national happiness," an alternative to the more traditional measure of gross domestic product. The popular Oxford-educated king is now seeking to strengthen ties with other nations while preserving as much of Bhutan's independence and culture as possible. Collected here are recent images of people and places within the Kingdom of Bhutan. [38 photos]

The Paro Taktsang Palphug Buddhist monastery, also known as the Tiger's Nest, in the Paro district of Bhutan, viewed on October 16, 2011. The first temple was built on this cliffside location in 1692. (Reuters/Adrees Latif)

Good politics, though.

"Centrist Pundits":

Tom Friedman, November 16.

Here we are in America again on the eve of a major budgetary decision by yet another bipartisan “supercommittee,” and does anyone know what President Obama’s preferred outcome is? Exactly which taxes does he want raised, and which spending does he want cut? The president’s politics on this issue seems to be a bowl of poll-tested mush.

Paul Krugman, November 17:

Oh, and let me give a special shout-out to “centrist” pundits who won’t admit that President Obama has already given them what they want. The dialogue seems to go like this. Pundit: “Why won’t the president come out for a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes?” Mr. Obama: “I support a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes.” Pundit: “Why won’t the president come out for a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes?”

You see, admitting that one side is willing to make concessions, while the other isn’t, would tarnish one’s centrist credentials. And the result is that the G.O.P. pays no price for refusing to give an inch.

New York Times columnists don't go after one another by name, adhering to a longstanding policy of warmth and kindness. It's left up to other columnists to criticize Friedman by name, and point out that almost nothing he pines for in his occasional "o, grand bargain, where are thou" columns has been rejected by Barack Obama.

The End of Cheap Coffee: Why the Diner Staple Is About to Become a Luxury - Lifestyle - GOOD

The End of Cheap Coffee: Why the Diner Staple Is About to Become a Luxury - Lifestyle - GOOD: Watts calls the prices during that period “unsustainably low.” Farmers barely made enough money to survive, let alone invest in the long-term viability of their farms. Some growers even shifted focus: to pineapples in Costa Rica, soy in Brazil, and livestock in Colombia (as well as drug crops like coca and poppy).

With coffee supplies running short, prices escalated at a rapid clip, outpacing even gasoline’s monumental ascent. Between spring 2010 and spring 2011, coffee roughly doubled in price. On the futures exchange in New York City, the price per pound crossed a frightening milestone—the $3 mark—hitting a three-decade high on May 3, 2011.

The NYPD has discredited itself - Salon.com

The NYPD has discredited itself - Salon.com: If you’re an ordinary citizen, and you get caught on video dousing people with noxious gas like Bologna did, you get summarily locked up. And if you’re young and black, expect to receive the law’s full wrath. But when you’re an NYPD commanding officer responsible for all of Manhattan below 59th street, like Bologna was at the time of his attack, you get essentially a free pass.

Additionally, throughout my coverage of OWS, various police officials in plainclothes have refused to identify themselves upon request — a violation of NYPD patrol guide procedure 203-09, effective June 27, 2003, which states that all “members of the service” are required to “courteously and clearly state [their] rank, name, shield number and command, or otherwise provide them, to anyone who requests [they] do so. [They also must] allow the person ample time to note this information.”

What Would Gabby Do?

What Would Gabby Do?: The best part of this story is that it happened, in many particulars, to be true. Soon after arriving at rehab in Houston, she uttered the word toast, which resulted in international headlines. On CBS, Kelly told Katie Couric that she continued to overcome obstacles: Though her right arm was virtually useless, she’d learned to write with her left. She continued to travel with two nurses (and still does), but around the four-month mark she was already walking, albeit slowly and with a crash helmet designed to protect her skull, which was still missing a piece.

17 November, 2011

Cool Ad Watch

Cool Ad Watch:

Miniature parkour:

Copyranter spots the subtle strategy:

The logo on the sneaks (the finger ones and the real ones) is that of French sportswear company Le Coq Sportif. So there you go "viral" video fans, eat it up.

16 November, 2011

DOCUMERICA: Images of America in Crisis in the 1970s - Alan Taylor - In Focus - The Atlantic

DOCUMERICA: Images of America in Crisis in the 1970s - Alan Taylor - In Focus - The Atlantic

There's a catch

The Progressive, Sensitive, Rational Governor Romney—By John R. MacArthur (Harper's Magazine): However, Romney has deeper philosophical concerns about what is happening in the country. “The growth of excessive power is a fundamental and imminent danger in our society,” he writes. “Unfortunately, we have lost our understanding and fear of power. This constitutes an added hazard. For when anyone questions the magnitude of private power in industry, in unions, or in government, he immediately is confronted with specious arguments that people blindly accept as valid.”


Hitler Speaking Normally (Subtitles) - YouTube: Hitler talking in his everyday voice to Finnish military commander Mannerheim in 1942. The only existing recording of Hitlers normal voice.

15 November, 2011

Fires, Desecration, and Hate Speech: not a good week for the old alma mater

Spring Street Blues: Week of November 16, 2011:

Monday 11-7-11

8:40 a.m., Paresky: There was report of a student who had fallen in the snack bar area. Officers responded and immediately called 911. Village Ambulance arrived and transported the student to North Adams Regional Hospital (NARH).

Wednesday 1-9-11

9:00 p.m., Dodd House: Based on a tip, officers were sent to check on illegal drug activity. Williamstown Police Department (WPD) was contacted and asked to respond. The drug task officer obtained a search warrant. Two people were arrested.

9:10 p.m., Jewish Religious Center: A fire alarm was caused by smoke from an oven. Students saw flames and used an extinguisher to put the fire out.

Thursday 11-10-11

7:25 a.m., Greylock Parking Garage: A student who had reserved a Zipcar reported that someone was sleeping in it. Officers identified a student curled up with a blanket sleeping in the back seat of the car. The student in the car removed his belongings from the car, and the student waiting took the car.

1:05 p.m., Spencer House: A report was filed that on the first floor of the library, someone had burned all of the lower cabinet shelving in the fireplace. For kindling, they used some of the pages from one of the books in the library. Evidence of smoking on the roof area outside of a common room was also documented.

Saturday 11-12-11

12:33 a.m., Prospect: Security received a call from a student reporting a racist writing on the wall outside of a bathroom.

1:45 a.m., Hubbell: A report was filed of an odor of marijuana. Officers responded and found a student making marijuana brownies. WPD was asked to respond, and a civil citation was issued.

2:40 p.m., Latham St.: Students were reported making off with four traffic cones, walking down the street and taking a right on Water Street. A local resident advised officers that he witnessed the students with the cones enter the house at 112A Water Street.

Sunday 11-13-11

2:38 a.m., Tyler House: A student reported that someone spit on his door, laughed and ran.

river_truck_by_bawwomick-d394r1q.jpg (JPEG Image, 1280x857 pixels) - Scaled (95%)

river_truck_by_bawwomick-d394r1q.jpg (JPEG Image, 1280x857 pixels) - Scaled (95%)

Putting Sandusky's Interview Under The Microscope

Putting Sandusky's Interview Under The Microscope:

A reader writes:

In another life, I spent a significant amount of time working in penitentiaries, doing drama therapy with pedophiles. I learned a lot – so much of which I wish I could forget these days. I realize that we have to presume innocence, but the data about Sandusky is overwhelming - It parallels everything I learned about pedophiles during my years of working with them.

They organize their lives around their obsession. They structure their lives in such a way as to continue their abuse. They are extremely devious, and will go to great lengths to get what they want. And, if not caught early enough, they can end up with hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of victims. (One particularly disgusting inmate described at length the kits he carried with him at all time – one in his home, one for travel, one in his car. They included Vaseline, candy, toys, towels, etc. He was constantly in search of victims. His entire life was structured around that search.)

In listening to the Costas interview, I was drawn back to my days spent in the Massachusetts Treatment Center for Sexually Dangerous Persons in Bridgewater, MA. First, Sandusky exhibits no affect in the interview. There is no outrage, no emotion, no anger, no sadness. Imagine, just for a moment, if YOU were innocent and accused of these horrific crimes. Your emotional state would be intense. His is anything but. This is, sorry to say, classic pedophile affect.

Second, and most compelling, is his answer to the question: “Are you sexually attracted to young boys – to underage boys?”

Obviously, if he were innocent, there is only one answer to this question: “No!” (Again, imagine if someone asked you that question. There would be only one answer and it would be emphatic, and probably outraged.)

But, listen carefully to his response. First, he repeats the question - twice. Next, he outlines his “enjoyment” of young people. Then, he says he “loves to be around them.” Finally, he catches himself and eventually gets to “No,” nearly fifteen seconds after the question is posed. Again, this is classic pedophile. He first attempts to explain himself – almost getting lost in that explanation – before he finally comes to the only obvious answer.

However, he has no problem answering this question: “Are you a pedophile?” The answer to that question is quick: “No.”

Why? Because, he absolutely doesn’t believe – in any way – that there is anything wrong with what he has done. He doesn’t believe that pedophilia is wrong – pedophiles never do. They construct vast and complex justifications for their actions, usually centering on the victim, what the victim wanted, and how much pleasure they give their victim. The term itself – pedophilia – is anathema, because it defines, as abnormal, an activity and way of life that they view as perfectly legitimate.

Contribution Rules

Contribution Rules: AP members statewide want:

Train wrecks, airplane crashes, drownings, unusual deaths and fatalities.
Meetings where action of statewide interest is taken or a prominent person speaks.
Riots, demonstrations, strikes.
Major fires, explosions, chemical spills.
Major crime, raids, jail breaks, bank robberies, hate/bias crimes or incidents.
Weather news, including ice and hail storms, heavy snow, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, flooding, heavy and damaging rainstorms, record heat and cold.
Human interest stories; the odd, the offbeat, the heartwarming; whatever makes people laugh or cry.
Stories on members of the media or public who are having government access (FOI) problems.

Apparently this ain't pretty

Herman Cain on Libya - YouTube

Will Germany Rule Europe Again?

Will Germany Rule Europe Again?:

I suspect it will, reluctantly. Walter Russell Mead isn't so sure

I’m agreed that Chancellor Merkel has no intention of being the chancellor who threw Europe away, but both at home and abroad she faces some challenging constraints.  I think there is a non-trivial chance that events could move too far, too fast for her to step in.  Some kind of banking crisis in France, for example, could create an immense and overwhelming mess.  Anything that affects France’s credit rating could lead to a position in which no simple and effective solution could be put in place quickly enough to stop an unpredictable and uncontrollable set of financial consequences.  Chancellor Merkel does not have a free hand at home; the German Constitutional Court and fractious coalition partners are watching her closely.

14 November, 2011

China: Google Earth spots huge, unidentified structures in Gobi desert - Telegraph

China: Google Earth spots huge, unidentified structures in Gobi desert - Telegraph: In two images, available on Google Earth, reflective rectangles up to a mile long can be seen, a tangle of bright white intersecting lines that are clearly visible from space.

Other pictures show enormous concentric circles radiating on the ground, with three jets parked at their centre.

In one picture from 2007, a mass of orange blocks have been carefully arranged in a circle. In a more recent image, however, the blocks, each one the size of a shipping container, appear to have been scattered as far as three miles from the original site.

Another image shows an array of metallic squares littered with what appears to be the debris of exploded vehicles while another shows an intricate grid that is some 18 miles long.

All of the sites are on the borders of Gansu province and Xinjiang, some less than 100 miles from Jiuquan, the headquarters of China's space programme and the location of its launch pads.

Last line.

This Is the 99 Percent? - By Mark Krikorian - The Corner - National Review Online: Really, that was the whole thing. Capitol Hill and the White House are where these guys should be protesting, since it’s government that created the problems they’re complaining about (assuming anyone can tell exactly what it is they’re saying).

The Post reached a new low in MSM glorification of these parasites the other day, when the whole front of the Style section described how “A Square Gets Hip” and “improvises a vibrant urbanism,” illustrated with a huge map showing the encampment, which appears to have named the paths crossing the square after Occupy heroes, including Che Guevara and Angela Davis (what, no Stalin Boulevard?).

Fire hoses and tear gas, the sooner the better.

12 November, 2011

The Mathematical Case Against The Electoral College

The Mathematical Case Against The Electoral College:

In video form:

Along the same lines, a Gallup poll from a couple weeks ago shows that the Electoral College is highly unpopular:

Nearly 11 years after the 2000 presidential election brought the idiosyncrasies of the United States' Electoral College into full view, 62% of Americans say they would amend the U.S. Constitution to replace that system for electing presidents with a popular vote system. Barely a third, 35%, say they would keep the Electoral College.

11 November, 2011

Banker's Choice

Banker's Choice: And the way this fits into democratic theory is – well, it doesn’t fit into democratic theory. It’s closer to a coup without tanks. To be sure, these are temporary coups until each nation holds new elections, but Papademos and Monti are not supposed to be mere caretakers until the real leaders arrive. To the contrary, they’re assuming power under instruction from the markets – the markets that have seen Italy’s financing costs rise and the value of stocks everywhere topple – to make sweeping cuts in services and substantial hikes in taxes, cuts so sweeping and hikes so substantial that no elected leader would dare make them. They’ve been instructed by the markets, in essence, to lower the living standards of their peoples.

He still should have followed up.

That Lawyer Dude: A Strong Defense of Joe Paterno: Why Paterno Was Morally & Ethically Right Not To Go Further in The Sandusky Sex Abuse Case: In the comments section of an article in an SI online blog post by Joe Posnanski, Columbia Univ. Adjunct Professor Scott Semer assails Joe Paterno for not taking greater actions in the Jerry Sandusky case (Link is to the actual Grand Jury Report. It is not for the squeamish.)

Semer rests his opinions as a lawyer and an Adjunct Professor of Transactional Law at Columbia Univ. in NYC. He takes what I believe is the majority opinion as to Coach Paterno's decisions which is that he did the least he could do to cover himself but owed a moral duty to do more.

I too am an attorney, a criminal defense lawyer, a former special prosecutor, and an adjunct professor of Trial Advocacy, and as to his judgment of Paterno I completely disagree with Professor Semer. I think Paterno did what was both morally and legally correct.

Joe Posnanski � Posts The End of Paterno �

Joe Posnanski � Posts The End of Paterno �: But — well, I’ve already said that my emotions don’t matter here, that they are nothing like what the victims went through, but for the purposes of this essay I’ll tell you them anyway: I’ve been wrecked the last week. Writing a book comes from the soul. It consumes you — mentally, emotionally, spiritually, all of it. I have thought about Joe Paterno, his strengths, his flaws, his triumphs, his failures, his core, pretty much nonstop for months now. I have talked to hundreds of people about him in all walks of life. I have read 25 or 30 books about him, countless articles. I’m not saying I know Joe Paterno. I’m saying I know a whole lot about him.

And what I know is complicated. But, beyond complications — and I really believe this with all my heart — there’s this, and this is exclusively my opinion: Joe Paterno has lived a profoundly decent life.

'Nudge' policies are another name for coercion - opinion - 09 November 2011 - New Scientist

'Nudge' policies are another name for coercion - opinion - 09 November 2011 - New Scientist: All this suggests democratic arrangements, which foster diversity, are better at solving problems than technocratic ones. Libertarian paternalism is seductive because democratic politics is a cumbersome and messy business. Even so, democracy is far better than even the best-intentioned technocracy at discovering people's real interests and how to advance them. It is also, obviously, better at defending those interests when bureaucrats do not mean well.

While democratic institutions need reform to build in dialogue between citizens and experts, they should not be bypassed. By cutting dialogue and diversity for concealed and unaccountable decision-making, "nudge" politics attacks democracy's core. We should not give in to temptation - and save our benevolent meddling for family reunions.


Print - Mercenary - Esquire: Which is why it’s a good thing that the security manager at Palisades Nuclear for the last year and a half is real, too, with real qualifications for the job. His name is William E. Clark, and he has been in the Army, he’s been a cop, he’s done some contracting work for the Department of Energy, he’s gone to Kosovo on a diplomatic mission, and after Katrina, he worked for Blackwater, the security company, outside New Orleans. He started at Palisades in early 2006. He has a new house and a new wife and has told people, “I would shed blood to keep this job.” As a statement of determination, this is reassuring...but what if he means it as a statement of fact? What if William E. Clark has told people -- told me -- that he has in fact shed blood many times, in many places, over the course of many years? What if William E. Clark says that he worked for Blackwater in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as in New Orleans and killed so many people that he considers himself a cold-blooded murderer? What if he says that his job as the security manager of a nuclear plant on Lake Michigan is both a reward for all the killing he’s done and a means for keeping him quiet about it?


Israel accidentally kills rabbi mistaken for Palestinian militant: Israel Defense Forces killed a 55-year-old Israeli rabbi and settler, Dan Mertzbach, in what they say was an accidental shooting.

Soldiers opened fire on Mertzbach's car after it failed to stop at a temporary checkpoint between Yatta and Hebron in the southern West Bank, reported Haaretz.

Mertzbach was killed, while two passengers in the vehicle were wounded and taken to hospital.

UC cops' use of batons on Occupy camp questioned

UC cops' use of batons on Occupy camp questioned: "The individuals who linked arms and actively resisted, that in itself is an act of violence," UC police Capt. Margo Bennett said. "I understand that many students may not think that, but linking arms in a human chain when ordered to step aside is not a nonviolent protest."

Arab leaders shouldn't kill their people?

That makes it all the more remarkable that these leaders have now
largely accepted the normative principle that regime legitimacy can be
forfeited at a certain level of internal violence. Nobody would say that
the Arab League has acted effectively to defend this new norm --
the ongoing bloodshed in Syria, the decimated civil society of Bahrain,
and the grim stalemate in Yemen attest all too clearly that they have
not.  But they now speak almost all speak the language of international
norms against impunity. Norms do not need perfect behavioral compliance
for them to be significant in international relations.  The simple fact
that both popular and official Arab political discourse now begins from
the premise that domestically violent regimes should be sanctioned or
even removed from power has already significantly changed the game of
Arab politics. 

10 November, 2011

Peggy Noonan: Happy Days Aren’t Here Again

Peggy Noonan: Happy Days Aren’t Here Again: What is called the tea party is the rightward part of the conservative base. They became angry that they had trusted the Republican establishment during a Republican presidency, only to see that establishment run up huge debt, launch foreign wars, contribute to the surveillance state, and refuse to control America’s borders. What made the anger deeper is that they were angry at themselves. They felt complicit: They had not rebelled, they had trusted the party: “They’re the GOP establishment, they must know what they’re doing.” What the conservative base had learned by 2008 is: Don’t trust the Republican party. Don’t trust its establishments. The old loyalty was over. It may or may not come back.

Dishonest yet successful

John D. Rockefeller: A Character Study Part I.: They were a persuasive body — those South Improvement advocates, and they had great arguments. "Sign these contracts, and we shall control the business, then you will have but one party to deal with. Think of the ease in handling your freight? Sign these contracts and we will divide the trade, thus saving you the wear and tear of securing your quota—preventing rate wars. Think of the profits!" And the contracts were signed — secretly of course. And when they were signed what did Mr. Rockefeller do? He swooped down on a great industry in his home town with the proof that henceforth he was not only to have rates fully one hundred per cent cheaper than his competitors, but he was to have the extra one hundred per cent they paid! And he told them they had better sell — at his price; twenty-one out of twenty-six did, and by March, 1872, young Mr. Rockefeller was practically the only oil refiner in Cleveland, Ohio, where three months before there had been twenty-six.

The 1% are the very best destroyers of�wealth the world has ever seen | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian

The 1% are the very best destroyers of�wealth the world has ever seen | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian: In a study published by the journal Psychology, Crime and Law, Belinda Board and Katarina Fritzon tested 39 senior managers and chief executives from leading British businesses. They compared the results to the same tests on patients at Broadmoor special hospital, where people who have been convicted of serious crimes are incarcerated. On certain indicators of psychopathy, the bosses's scores either matched or exceeded those of the patients. In fact, on these criteria, they beat even the subset of patients who had been diagnosed with psychopathic personality disorders.

The psychopathic traits on which the bosses scored so highly, Board and Fritzon point out, closely resemble the characteristics that companies look for. Those who have these traits often possess great skill in flattering and manipulating powerful people. Egocentricity, a strong sense of entitlement, a readiness to exploit others and a lack of empathy and conscience are also unlikely to damage their prospects in many corporations.

Newt Gingrich: Shining Knight of the Post-Reagan Right | Mother Jones

Newt Gingrich: Shining Knight of the Post-Reagan Right | Mother Jones: Confrontation is not new to Gingrich, and the battle with O'Neill was no accident. Before interviewing Gingrich for this story, I watched him give a speech to a group of conservative activists. "The number one fact about the news media," he told them, "is they love fights." For months, he explained, he had been giving "organized, systematic, researched, one-hour lectures. Did CBS rush in and ask if they could tape one of my one-hour lectures? No. But the minute Tip O'Neill attacked me, he and I got 90 seconds at the close of all three network news shows. You have to give them confrontations. When you give them confrontations, you get attention; when you get attention, you can educate."


The assault on Los Alamos National Laboratory: A drama in three acts: Recent condemnations of Los Alamos have been based on remarkably thin, cartoonish descriptions of its culture. Critics have offered only a flat, unelaborated sense that weapons scientists, with their lifetime sinecures, have a sense of privilege that, in the words of Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman (US House of Representatives, 2008), makes them “think they are above it all.” Such phraseology is bizarre when applied to men and women who work very long hours and accept government surveillance of their lives that most of us would not tolerate. (They are not allowed to travel abroad without government permission; government agents can question their friends about their finances, drinking, and sex habits; and they can be tested for alcohol in their blood at a moment’s notice at work.)

.......not so much

Guernica / Frances Fox Piven: How the 99% Could Stop the War Against the Poor: We’ve been at war for decades now—not just in Afghanistan or Iraq, but right here at home. Domestically, it’s been a war against the poor, but if you hadn’t noticed, that’s not surprising. You wouldn’t often have found the casualty figures from this particular conflict in your local newspaper or on the nightly TV news. Devastating as it’s been, the war against the poor has gone largely unnoticed—until now.

The assault on Los Alamos National Laboratory: A drama in three acts

The assault on Los Alamos National Laboratory: A drama in three acts: Nuclear weapons scientists at Los Alamos now say that morale there is the worst it has ever been in the lab’s seven-decade history, and that Los Alamos’s ability to function as an institution and to superintend the nuclear stockpile has been substantially undermined. This institutional havoc has been wrought not by the left but by congressmen and government officials claiming to act in the name of national security and efficiency. They framed Los Alamos as an institution in need of reform and, by “improving” management practices, reduced the laboratory’s effectiveness. Their counterproductive actions were often justified by an assumption, largely erroneous, that Los Alamos had an organizational culture characterized by arrogance and carelessness.


BBC News - India and Pakistan PMs pledge 'new chapter': Pakistan's prime minister and his Indian counterpart have met in the Maldives, pledging to open a "new chapter" between the two nations.

Yusuf Raza Gilani said after meeting Manmohan Singh the next full round of talks would be "more constructive".

Mr Singh said he welcomed the "positive movement" from the meeting.

Talks between the two nations were suspended after the 2008 Mumbai (Bombay) attacks which India blamed on Pakistan-based militants.

But earlier this year, leaders vowed to resume their dialogue and find ways to build trust and promote peace.

Cain Has Shown His Limitations � Commentary Magazine

Cain Has Shown His Limitations � Commentary Magazine: In the 1980s, one of the Republican Party’s main sources of attraction to younger conservatives like myself was its growing reputation for intellectual seriousness. “Of a sudden,” wrote Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Democrat, in 1981, “the GOP has become a party of ideas.” The way such things happen is by rewarding intellectual excellence among those vying for the presidency rather than making excuses for their lack of knowledge.

Dissent Of The Day

Dissent Of The Day:

A reader writes:

As a Pennsylvanian, as a Penn State fan, and as a survivor, I feel strongly compelled to provide some perspective here. What's happening at Penn State is a tragedy of epic proportions. The community is really struggling to reconcile the horror of the actions and inactions with a coach, a program, and a university that have done so much for so many players, students, and communities literally for generations now. As Shakespeare wrote at the end of Romeo and Juliet, "All are punished."

Those who cheer Joe's immediate departure as well as those who insist that he stay are BOTH off key. Given Joe's admission that this is the tragedy of his life, and that he wishes he had done more, the Board of Trustees had no choice but to let him go immediately. But to cast extreme judgment on him and the Penn State community at this very particular, very hurtful, and very confusing moment in time is to be blind to who he has been and what he has done over the past 60+ years. And it's also to be callous to a glorious community about which you apparently know very little, and most importantly, to the victims of Sandusky and all victims, everywhere.

There are countless, non-cultish reasons why Joe Paterno and Penn State are so revered. From his insistence on academic excellence, to a squeaky clean record in terms of abindance to the rules in an era when they are regularly bent and broken, to his investment in his players rather than an exploitation of them, to the millions of ways he has given back to the community, to his loyalty to what was once a sleepy agricultural school to what is now one of the premier universities in the country (which also happens to have the largest alumni membership in the world), Joe Paterno has demonstrated and personified what it is to do things the right way AND win while doing it. If there aren't already, there will be books written about Joe and the fundamental goodness of the Penn State community that he helped build. Joe's example has been without match, which is why this epic mistake is so pointed and devastating to anyone who's ever been impacted by him.

As for the reaction of the students, they are kids - give them time and space to sort through this and process what has happened. If you've never been disappointed by anyone you've ever held in the utmost of esteem, you might not understand. But if you have, try to remember the confusion, disappointment, and compassion you likely felt all at once in that moment of time.

Finally, one thing is for certain, and you can trust me on this: hysteria and self-righteous proclamations from any side in instances like this do NOTHING for the victims. Nothing. They only make it worse. They pick at wounds, and they stunt the healing process that survivors need. Yes - survivors want justice for their perpetrators and greater awareness of a problem that is everywhere. But more than anything, we want calm, compassion, and healing. For everyone. Even the perp and those who could have done more. It's the only way that we as survivors, or as a family, or as a community, can move on positively and constructively.

So if you want to actually do something constructive about this rather than disparage a grieving and confused community as cultists and immoral neanderthals, you can encourage everyone to wear blue - the color of child abuse awareness - this Saturday. It's a start...