28 February, 2012

At $500 Billion, Apple Is Worth as Much as Toyota, Volkswagen, Daimler, Honda, Ford, Nissan, and GM Combined

  • Car companies used to be the pillar of national economies. Now, Apple is worth as much as Toyota, Volkswagen, Daimler, Honda, Ford, Nissan, GM, Renault, Peugeot, Renault, and Tesla combined.
  • Or take media. If you add up Comcast, Disney, News Corp, Viacom, Time Warner, Time Warner Cable, CBS, Liberty Global, Dish Network, Charter, and Cablevision, you can only get to $350 billion of market capitalization.
  • Apple is worth more than Google ($200 billion) and Microsoft ($267 billion) combined.
  • Apple is worth 16 times more than Dell ($31 billion) and almost 6 times as much as HP ($51 billion).
  • Apple makes more profit in two weeks than AOL's entire market cap.
  • Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, Adobe, HP, Dell, and Lenovo are worth almost $600 billion to Apple's $500 billion.

Wall Street Confesses to Bonus Culture’s Ills: William D. Cohan - Bloomberg

Wall Street Confesses to Bonus Culture’s Ills: William D. Cohan - Bloomberg: What is painfully clear from Ressler and Mitchell’s transcripts is that the incentive system on Wall Street that rewards bankers and traders for the revenue they generate by constantly selling whatever comes across their desks, regardless of its quality, is terribly, terribly broken. People are simple: They do what they are rewarded to do, and they will continue to do that over and over again until they are rewarded to do something else.

Now, four years after the crisis started -- and despite the Dodd-Frank law intended to reduce the risks on Wall Street -- not one thing has changed in what bankers and traders are rewarded to do. Until that happens, you can forget about preventing another crisis on Wall Street.

Will you please have his place raided?

Will you please have his place raided?:

In September of 1931, with the sale of alcohol still banned in the U.S. due to prohibition, a frustrated housewife named Mrs. Hillyer wrote the following letter to the Seattle Bureau of Prohibition.
Transcript follows.
(Source: National Archives; Image above via.)


Seattle, Wash.

Sept. 22, 1931

Dear Sir:

My husband is in the habit of buying a quart of wiskey every other day from a Chinese bootlegger named Chin Waugh living at 317-16th near Alder street.

We need this money for household expenses. Will you please have his place raided? He keeps a supply planted in the garden and a smaller quantity under the back steps for quick delivery. If you make the raid at 9:30 any morning you will be sure to get the goods and Chin also as he leaves the house at 10 o'clock and may clean up before he goes.

Thanking you in advance,

I remain

yours truly,

Mrs. Hillyer

Creepy Ad Watch

Creepy Ad Watch:

Vladimir Putin tries to corner the virgin vote:

Marina Galperina translates:

"We’ll find out, little beauty, who faith has in store for you."
"You know, I hope it’s for love." Blink-blink-blink. "It’s my… first time."
"The carrrds will tell the truth… I see it will be for love… without deception…" (AHEM AHEM)
A Putin card is revealed.
"Wow. It’s him!"
"You’ll be happy with him. He’ll protect you like a stone wall." (Or something…)
And the kicker:
Putin. First time — only for <3.

Zoom Out, and You'll See People Are Improving - Room for Debate - NYTimes.com

Zoom Out, and You'll See People Are Improving - Room for Debate - NYTimes.com: It’s easy to focus on the idiocies of the present and forget those of the past. But a century ago our greatest writers extolled the beauty and holiness of war. Heroes like Theodore Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Woodrow Wilson avowed racist beliefs that today would make people’s flesh crawl. Women were barred from juries in rape trials because supposedly they would be embarrassed by the testimony. Homosexuality was a felony. At various times, contraception, anesthesia, vaccination, life insurance and blood transfusion were considered immoral.

Ideals that today’s educated people take for granted — equal rights, free speech, and the primacy of human life over tradition, tribal loyalty and intuitions about purity — are radical breaks with the sensibilities of the past. These too are gifts of a widening application of reason.

How people vs politicians view the Stock Market

February 28, 2012:

27 February, 2012

This quote and much more from Davos:

What happens at the World Economic Forum in Davos? : The New Yorker: He explained how Tibco, on behalf of Harrah’s, had designed a system that can figure out when a gambler is about to encounter a loss of such magnitude that it will cause him to leave the casino and perhaps never come back. The casino’s Luck Ambassadors will then offer the gambler a free meal or a ticket to a show (Tibco’s software having determined that there are otherwise empty seats to fill or excess inventory to slough off), and distract the gambler long enough to entice him to return later, to continue losing money in palatable increments. At the moment, he said, Tibco was building an engine that will mimic the way the human brain recognizes patterns.

Suggestive Putin ads target first-time voters - storyful

Suggestive Putin ads target first-time voters - storyful: Two suggestive new election ads for Vladimir Putin have raised a few eyebrows as they tell political virgins: “If it’s your first time, make sure it’s for love”. The sexual innuendoes in an ad campaign targetting first-time voters may leave some feeling queasy as it shows young women swooning over Putin as Russia’s presidential nominee. The pro-Putin group which has published the ads to its YouTube channel is rallying for young people to go to the polls on March 4, as voter numbers among those under 35 has seen a dramatic drop over recent years.

Underwater cable laying - Must watch - YouTube

Very rare video - Underwater cable laying - Must watch - YouTube

Honest film abotu bullying ironically deemed too rough for kids to see

A Film For Kids That Kids Can't See, Ctd:

The MPAA will not reconsider its R-rating of Bully. Linda Holmes fights back:

There's a grotesque irony in declaring that what is portrayed in Bully should be softened, or bleeped -- should be hidden, really, because it's too much for kids to see. Of course it's too much for kids to see. It's also too much for kids to live through, walk through, ride the bus with, and go to school with. That's why they made the movie. The entire point of this film is that kids do not live with the protection we often believe they do -- many of them live in a terrifying, isolating war zone, and if you hide what it's like, if you lie about what they're experiencing, you destroy what is there to be learned.

Here is the power of prayer and strong will

Deep sickness seized me:

In September of 1855, Lucy Thurston — a 60-year-old missionary who had been living in Hawaii with her husband since 1820 — underwent a mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Incredibly, she somehow endured the operation wide-awake, without any form of anaesthetic. She wrote the following letter to her daughter a month later and described the unimaginably harrowing experience.

The procedure was a success. Lucy Thurston lived for another 21 years.

(Source: Life and Times of Mrs. Lucy G. Thurston; Image: Asa and Lucy Thurston, c.1848, via Wikimedia.)

Workers In The Military-Industrial-Complex Support Paul?

Workers In The Military-Industrial-Complex Support Paul?:

Military donations2

An Open Letter to Chris Dodd

An Open Letter to Chris Dodd: To understand that, you have to grasp that “the Internet” isn’t just a network of wires and switches, it’s also a sort of reactive social organism composed of the people who keep those wires humming and those switches clicking. John Gilmore is one of them. I’m another. And there are some things we will not stand having done to our network.

We will not have it censored. We built the Internet as a tool to make every individual human being on the planet more empowered. What the users do with the Internet is up to them – not up to Hollywood, not up to politicians, and not even up to us who built it. Whatever else we Internet geeks may disagree on among ourselves, we will not allow our gift of fire to be snuffed out by jealous gods.

Because we will not have the Internet censored, we are also implacably hostile to any attempts to impose controls on it that could be used for censorship – whether or not that is the stated intent of the controls. That is why we were absolutely unanimous against SOPA and PIPA, and a significant reason that you lost that fight.

Why Obama Needs to Change to Win | Rick Perlstein | Rolling Stone

Why Obama Needs to Change to Win | Rick Perlstein | Rolling Stone: In office, Reagan, on the level of policy, endorsed Carter's economics by reappointing Volcker. But on the level of politics, in one of the greatest acts of broad-gauged mendacity in presidential history, he blamed Carter for the economic failure, tied that failure to liberal ideology and its supposed embrace of "big government" (Carter in fact took on big government), and gave conservatism credit for every success. Deregulation and supply-side tax-cuts brought us "morning in America," he said. That was bullshit, but it won him a reelection landslide against Walter Mondale, Carter's VP, whom he labeled "Vice President Malaise."

How far we've come....

10 Rules for Wives:

In 1923, the Legal Aid Society of New York City published some advice to wives in the area, in the form of the following list of rules.

(Source: Family (Great Contemporary Issues.); Image via.)

Beyond the Fall of the Syrian Regime | Middle East Research and Information Project

Beyond the Fall of the Syrian Regime | Middle East Research and Information Project: The regime of Bashar al-Asad has fought its citizens in an unsuccessful attempt to put down any serious challenge to its four-decade rule, leaving several thousand dead. Many more languish in jail. The regime has polarized the population, rallying its supporters by decrying the protesters as saboteurs, Islamists and part of a foreign conspiracy. In order to shore up its own ranks, it has played on the fears of the ‘Alawi minority from which the ruling family hails, lending the conflict sectarian overtones. All these measures have pushed a growing number of young men on the street -- and a small but steady stream of army defectors -- to put up an armed response, while impelling large sections of the opposition to seek financial, political and military help from abroad. Loyalist units have taken considerable casualties from the armed rebels, and the regime has hit back with disproportionate force.

26 February, 2012

Flavorwire - 20 Beautiful Private and Personal Libraries

Flavorwire - 20 Beautiful Private and Personal Libraries

The Lost Party

The Lost Party: Only the most mindless of ideologues reject the truism that America would be best served by the presence of two credible governing parties instead of the situation that currently obtains. A Santorum nomination would be seen by many liberals as a scary and retrograde proposition. And no doubt it would make for a wild ride, with enough talk of Satan, abortifacients, and sweater vests to drive any sane man bonkers. But in the long run, it might do a world of good, compelling Republicans to return to their senses—and forge ahead into the 21st century. Which is why all people of common sense and goodwill might consider, in the days ahead, adopting a slogan that may strike them as odd, perverse, or even demented: Go, Rick, go.

Capitalism vs. the Climate | The Nation

Capitalism vs. the Climate | The Nation: The fact that the earth’s atmosphere cannot safely absorb the amount of carbon we are pumping into it is a symptom of a much larger crisis, one born of the central fiction on which our economic model is based: that nature is limitless, that we will always be able to find more of what we need, and that if something runs out it can be seamlessly replaced by another resource that we can endlessly extract. But it is not just the atmosphere that we have exploited beyond its capacity to recover—we are doing the same to the oceans, to freshwater, to topsoil and to biodiversity. The expansionist, extractive mindset, which has so long governed our relationship to nature, is what the climate crisis calls into question so fundamentally. The abundance of scientific research showing we have pushed nature beyond its limits does not just demand green products and market-based solutions; it demands a new civilizational paradigm, one grounded not in dominance over nature but in respect for natural cycles of renewal—and acutely sensitive to natural limits, including the limits of human intelligence.

Alaa Al Aswany: Are They Really Religious?

Alaa Al Aswany: Are They Really Religious?: At the same time millions of Egyptians have migrated to the Gulf seeking a livelihood and have then come back to Egypt full of Wahhabi ideas.

Egyptians go there and see a society different from Egyptian society. Men and women are completely segregated but rates of sexual harassment and rape are among the highest in the world. Alcohol is banned but many people drink in secret. The law does not apply to Princes, who can do what they like, confident that they are immune from punishment. Egyptians learn there that performing your prayers on time is not voluntary, as it is in Egypt, but a compulsory obligation and if you are late the police might arrest and harm you. They learn that if you are walking the street with your wife and her hair is accidentally uncovered, then a policeman may pounce on her, hit her with a stick and make her cover her head. Despite this strictness, many Egyptians are cheated financially by their Gulf sponsors, and when they submit legal complaints, rarely obtain what they are owed because the judicial system there favors locals over foreigners.

Wyoming House advances doomsday bill

Wyoming House advances doomsday bill: CHEYENNE — State representatives on Friday advanced legislation to launch a study into what Wyoming should do in the event of a complete economic or political collapse in the United States.

House Bill 85 passed on first reading by a voice vote. It would create a state-run government continuity task force, which would study and prepare Wyoming for potential catastrophes, from disruptions in food and energy supplies to a complete meltdown of the federal government.

From the UK's abortion conversation

'Pregnant women have asked for terminations because they did not want their holidays spoilt' - Telegraph: More than one friend of mine in the profession has told me that pregnant women have asked for terminations because they did not want their holidays spoilt by pregnancy – and they duly signed the forms. I have signed only a few forms in the course of my career, a long time ago, and I am not sure what part the desire to avoid an unpleasant scene with the patient, understandable perhaps in a young man as I then was, played in my decision-making. In this connection, I cannot help but think of the notice in old-fashioned shops: please do not ask for credit as refusal often offends.

Of course, it is not difficult for someone to claim that the continuation of a pregnancy will harm her: all she has to do is threaten to take an overdose if it is not terminated. But if we take a latitudinarian view of what constitutes harm to mental health, there is no way of distinguishing between permissible and impermissible termination. A woman who wants a male child but not a female one can claim that a girl will harm her mental health while a boy will improve it. Anyone can ruin his own mental health if he wants to do so. Indeed, the very notion of mental health makes us ever more fragile.

Underground ghost station explorers spook the security services | UK news | The Guardian

Underground ghost station explorers spook the security services | UK news | The Guardian: Last month TfL applied to issue anti-social behaviour orders which would not only stop them undertaking further expeditions and blogging about urban exploration but also prohibit them from carrying equipment that could be used for exploring after dark. Extraordinarily, it also stipulates they should not be allowed to speak to each other for the duration of the order – 10 years.

"To me, telling people they can't associate with their closest friends is an incredible invasion of human rights," says Garrett. "It's a complete overreaction and an amazing tack to take after the group already agreed to a caution." He thinks TfL's legal action is fuelled by a wider misunderstanding of what urban exploration is about. "What we do is very benign," he says. "The motivation for it comes from a love for the city – we want to interact with its hidden histories and forgotten stories and places."

25 February, 2012

The Decline and Fall of Parental Authority | | AlterNet

The Decline and Fall of Parental Authority | | AlterNet: Whether or not the current ferment in schools and communities around the country leads to a new kind of parenting movement like Occupy Wall Street, the lesson for therapists is clear. To help parents raise healthy children in our family-unfriendly world, we need to make sure we truly get the Big Picture of the challenges confronting today’s parents. To do that, we need to go beyond our knowledge of the clinical theories and skills that have long been the domain of our special professional authority and expand our capacities as observers of what’s going on in our communities and in today’s youth culture. The time is long past when we can rely solely on traditional clinical models if we’re to bring out the best in parents and their children. The first step in making what we have to offer more relevant to the needs of families is to recognize that the number-one problem parents face—far more than any DSM category or clinical syndrome—is the alienation and isolation that dominates the experience of childrearing in today’s world.

The Decline and Fall of Parental Authority | | AlterNet

The Decline and Fall of Parental Authority | | AlterNet: Kids notice that many schools have been forced to drop programs and facilities (music, art, physical education, libraries) because of mass layoffs and underfunding, while better positioned, more “competitive” schools in more affluent areas have turned into deadly serious, four-year cram-courses geared to standardized tests. In either case, as numerous studies show, play, imagination, and downtime have been crowded out, and with them, the time for the young brain to synthesize and actually learn what’s been taught. Whether it’s “No Child Left Behind” or “Race to the Top,” parents feel that they and their kids are victims of a kind of educational and social scam, and are deeply cynical about a system that treats kids as if they’re commodities. They see the top 5 to 10 percent, mostly from the wealthiest families, making it to elite colleges, thanks to private schooling and “legacy” admissions, as well as a multibillion-dollar infrastructure of tutors, special courses and study-abroad opportunities, and parent-funded “community service” points. Meanwhile, lower- and middle-class parents have no or limited access to such “helping hands” so readily available to the privileged.

Q&A: Nir Rosen's predictions for Syria - Features - Al Jazeera English

Q&A: Nir Rosen's predictions for Syria - Features - Al Jazeera English: The divide in Syria is not merely between Sunnis and Alawites. In Daraa and Suweida, Druze and Bedouins may clash once again. So too with other sects further north in Misyaf.

If this civil war comes to pass, it will lead to a humanitarian crisis. Already, there is a diesel shortage in much of Syria. And in much of the country, electricity is shut down at least some of the time - even if this is often done for punitive or offensive security reasons. In opposition strongholds, normal government services have ceased. Garbage is piled high; children do not go to school. Eventually, if this continues, infrastructure will start to collapse. Electricity will cease to be available. People will turn to generators if they have access to them. Fuel for cooking and heating will be even harder to come by. Already medicines for children and chronic conditions is hard to obtain in opposition strongholds. Neighbourhoods will be besieged, and tens thousands of families will flee for safety to other parts of the country.

Syria is crumbling before our eyes, and a thoroughly modern nation is likely to be set back many decades.

The Secret Life of Bees | Science & Nature | Smithsonian Magazine

The Secret Life of Bees | Science & Nature | Smithsonian Magazine: This decaying dance allows a swarm to avoid getting stuck in a bad decision. Even when a mediocre site has attracted a lot of scouts, a single scout returning from a better one can cause the hive to change its collective mind.

“It’s beautiful when you see how well it works,” Seeley said. “Things don’t bog down when individuals get too stubborn. In fact, they’re all pretty modest. They say, ‘Well, I found something, and I think it’s interesting. I don’t know if it’s the best, but I’ll report what I found and let the best site win.’”

During the time I visited Seeley, he was in the midst of discovering a new principle. Scouts, he found, purposefully ram one another head-on while deciding on a new nest location. They head-butt scouts coming from other locations—pink scouts bumping into blue scouts and vice versa—causing the rammed bee to stop dancing. As more scouts dance for a popular site, they also, by head-butting, drive down the number of dancers for other sites.


Single motherhood by choice: I don’t want the complication of a partner. - Slate Magazine: It isn’t conventional wisdom, but in many ways it seems easier to raise a kid alone. Being a single parent by choice would mean not having to deal with another person's sets of demands or expectations of what child-rearing means. I wouldn’t burden a child with the emotional baggage of divorce or the highs and lows of an unhappy relationship. It would just be the two of us and a supporting cast of extended family.

I believe that there must be a small demographic like me: people who would choose to be single parents not because their biological clock is ticking and they can’t find a partner, or because birth control failed, but because they simply want to raise a child alone. (I say this not as only as a woman. I’ve also known men who’ve raised their children alone quite happily.)

The Girl on the Bridge

The Girl on the Bridge -- News & Features:

I know that window

The View From Your Window:


Verona, Wisconsin, 1.10 pm

The flying men of Yungas Valley - Programmes - Al Jazeera English

The flying men of Yungas Valley - Programmes - Al Jazeera English: In Bolivia's jungles and steep cliffs the Yungas people do not walk. They fly. On ropes. Like birds. Faster than astronauts.

These 'birds' are known as cocaleros, or coca harvesters. They use ropes to swing across the narrow valleys, suspended from ancient rusting pulleys.

It takes all of 30 seconds from one side to the other. By foot it would take more than an hour.

"This must be about six or seven years old. Before then there was nothing. Nothing," Synthe, a harvester, says. "We had to walk down to the bottom, cross the river and then climb up the other side. It used to be quite a hike."

The Yungas Valleys are like a sudden staircase between the towering cordilleras of the Andes - more than 4,000 metres high - and the green Amazon basin.

The vertical landscape is dramatic. The inhabitants have fashioned this unusual way to move around quickly, with simple, thin wires normally used for fencing stretching as far across as 400 metres.

It is almost a form of public transport. There are about 20 of these cables strung across the valley. All day long, people and goods fly across the river 200 metres below.

Seminar on David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5000 Years – Introduction — Crooked Timber

Seminar on David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5000 Years – Introduction — Crooked Timber: Graeber argues that human societies are always structured (despite appearances) around three competing moral principles: communism, exchange, and hierarchy. “Communism” is the principle familiar from Marx: from each according to their ability, to each according to their need. Each contributes what they can and we are sensitive to the vulnerability of other members of our family or community. This is the principle governing the “camping trip” of G.A.Cohen’s recent Why not Socialism? and, ideally, the principle at work in many families and friendships. Graeber argues (101) that this “baseline communism” is the “ground of all human social life”. “Exchange”, by contrast, is governed by an ideal of strict reciprocity among free and equal persons. I give you something and you give me something in return. It is, among other things, the ideal principle of market exchange. “Hierarchy” is a principle of authority and status: we are not equal, I have the right to command and you to the duty obey, in virtue of who we are. These principles aren’t mutually exclusive, and they have peculiar ways of morphing into one another. And it can be a matter of controversy and judgement which principle (or combination of principles) is at work at any particular moment.

I am your fellow man, but not your slave

I am your fellow man, but not your slave:

(Source: The Frederick Douglass Papers; Image above, of Frederick Douglass, c.1874, via Wikipedia.)

I will now bring this letter to a close, you shall hear from me again unless you let me hear from you. I intend to make use of you as a weapon with which to assail the system of slavery—as a means of concentrating public attention on the system, and deepening their horror of trafficking in the souls and bodies of men. I shall make use of you as a means of exposing the character of the American church and clergy—and as a means of bringing this guilty nation with yourself to repentance. In doing this I entertain no malice towards you personally. There is no roof under which you would be more safe than mine, and there is nothing in my house which you might need for your comfort, which I would not readily grant. Indeed, I should esteem it a privilege, to set you an example as to how mankind ought to treat each other.

I am your fellow man, but not your slave,


24 February, 2012

Asian-American on TIME's Latino cover

Asian-American on TIME's Latino cover:

As if Time Magazine wasn't experiencing enough cover controversy already, Michelle Woo at the OC Weekly points out that the latest issue, which was supposed to feature 20 portraits of Latino voters, accidently includes a man who is half-Chinese, half-Irish/Norwegian:

This is a dumb article. Aren't directors SUPPOSED to influence their companies?

Al Gore's role in Apple's global warming policy questioned at shareholder event | Fox News: Former Vice President Al Gore’s positions on climate change came under fire at Apple’s annual shareholders meeting on Thursday when a non-profit group accused Gore, an Apple board member, of using his position to influence Apple’s public stand on global warming.

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Hello, my name is....

The Lorax: Blowing Smogulous Smoke | Mother Jones

The Lorax: Blowing Smogulous Smoke | Mother Jones: The Lorax is now being used to cross-promote a new SUV. Earlier this week, Mazda announced that it has partnered with Universal Pictures to promote the new "'Seuss-ifed' 2013 Mazda CX-5 crossover SUV."

23 February, 2012

The dirty job of keeping Facebook clean � Social Media Collective

The dirty job of keeping Facebook clean � Social Media Collective: Last week, Gawker received a curious document. Turned over by an aggrieved worker from the online freelance employment site oDesk, the document iterated, over the course of several pages and in unsettling detail, exactly what kinds of content should be deleted from the social networking site that had outsourced its content moderation to oDesk’s team. The social networking site, as it turned out, was Facebook.

Japan Earthquake: Before and After

Japan Earthquake: Before and After:

In just over two weeks, Japan will be observing the one-year anniversary of the disastrous magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that struck its east coast in March of 2011. The destruction was unprecedented and the loss of life and property were staggering -- more than 15,800 are confirmed dead, with another 3,300 still listed as missing nearly a year later. Photographers documented the many faces of this tragedy and have now returned to give us a look at the difference a year can make, re-shooting places that were photographed during and immediately after the quake. Collected here are 20 of these pairings. They are interactive: Starting with number 2, click the images to view a fading before/after comparison. [20 photo pairs]

This combination of pictures shows the view of a tsunami hit area of Ofunato, Iwate prefecture on March 14, 2011 (right side) and the same scene as it appears on January 15, 2012 (left side). March 11, 2012 will mark the first anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummeled Japan. (Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty Images)

School Punishments, 1848

School Punishments, 1848:

The next time you spot a child complaining of strict teaching, show them the following — a list of 46 acts considered particularly mischievous by a North Carolina school back in 1848, along with the number of lashes to be given as punishment.

(Source: The Underground History of American Education; Image: Three 19th Century schoolboys, via the National Archives.)

22 February, 2012

The headline, the tweet, and the unfair significance of Jeremy Lin - Grantland

The headline, the tweet, and the unfair significance of Jeremy Lin - Grantland: In Act One, Jeremy faces down the doubters and all their doubts. In Act Two, he perseveres. In Act Three, perseverance pays off in the greatest city in the world. Along the way, he slays the Cyclops of Stereotypes and sails right on past the rock where the three Kardashian sirens sing their celebrity song.

This is not a bad story. But it is not the story of Jeremy Lin.

Of all the news that has come out about Lin's former life — and there hasn't been much — none excited me as much as a screenshot from his Xanga. In a series of captioned photos, a 15-year-old Lin wears a headband in the style of different NBA stars. It's a funny, endearing look into Lin's childhood and hints at a sense of humor that has mostly been absent from his media obligations. But none of the photos or the captions is as telling as the Xanga account's name: ChiNkBaLLa88.

Scott Ritter’s Other War - NYTimes.com

Scott Ritter’s Other War - NYTimes.com: “Everybody who lied about the war got rewarded,” Ritter said. “Because they played the game. Tell the truth about the war, you don’t get rewarded.” He paused. “And then, you know, let’s be frank — you compound it with me shooting myself in the foot on personal, behavioral issues.” An awkward moment passed between us. “I’ll just ask the fundamental question,” Ritter said, looking at me squarely across the table. “My personal missteps — how many Americans have died as a result of that? None. Other than my family, how many victims were there? None. And yet, in refusing to engage in a responsible debate about Iraq, how many Americans died? Thousands. And America seems to have no problem with that.”


Giles Milton: NEVER SURRENDER: THE LONELY WAR OF HIROO ONODA: His home was a dense area of rainforest and he lived on the wild coconuts that grew in abundance.
Hiroo Onoda: never surrender
His principal enemy was the army of mosquitoes that arrived with each new shower of rain. But for Hiroo Onoda there was another enemy - one that remained elusive.
Unaware that the Second World War had ended 29 years earlier, he was still fighting a lonely guerrilla war in the jungles of Lubang Island in the Philippines.

The U.S. and Other ‘Friends of Syria’ Still Search for a Strategy to Oust Assad | Global Spin | TIME.com

The U.S. and Other ‘Friends of Syria’ Still Search for a Strategy to Oust Assad | Global Spin | TIME.com:

On arming the Syrian opposition, then, it’s probably going to happen regardless of what Western powers decide — it’ll be undertaken largely by Gulf powers such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which played a major role in boosting the Libyan rebel forces on the ground in the battle to oust Muammar Gaddafi. And the Russians will continue to arm the Assad regime, unwilling for their own geopolitical reasons to countenance his ouster. Russia has declined an invitation to attend Friday’s discussion in Tunis, giving as its reason the fact that the Syrian government was not invited. China has yet to respond, but it, too, has supported seeking a political solution through dialogue with the regime, rather than forcing it out of power.

For Western and Arab powers — as well as the main exile-based opposition group that they appear to be moving towards recognizing as as an alternative, the Syrian National Council — the time for negotiating terms with Assad has passed. Obviously, Assad doesn’t agree, nor do his backers in Moscow and Tehran. And his forces’ sustained bombardment of rebel-held suburbs of the city of Homs despite a U.N. General Assembly resolution demanding a halt to repression is a sign that the regime is still trying to crush the rebellion through a massive concentration of force. Instead, however, the uprising appears to be spreading, with protests last weekend reaching into previously passive, well-heeled neighborhoods in Damascus. Still, despite the slow but steady decline of its control over all of Syria, the regime’s security forces remain dominant: they are unable to eliminate the rebellion, nor are they in any immediate danger of disintegrating.

Distance runners Mo Farah and Galen Rupp come from - 02.27.12 - SI Vault

Distance runners Mo Farah and Galen Rupp come from - 02.27.12 - SI Vault:

One of the two distance runners, the one born in Somalia and raised from age eight in west London, will race the Olympics at home. Mohammed (Mo) Farah will circle the track and hear a sound unlike anything he's heard before, initially in the 10,000 meters on the first Saturday night in August and then seven days later in the 5,000. He will feel a nation's passion, sprung not just from patriotic medal lust but from a cultural love of the long run, an affair gone fallow for decades and now revived by this 127-pound wisp of a man with a shaved head and a small tuft of black hair that clings to the point of his chin, like a little climber on the underside of a cliff.

On that Saturday night he will give Great Britain its first real chance at a gold medal in track and field at the London Games, and its first ever in a flat track event longer than 1,500 meters. He will understand what Cathy Freeman felt in Sydney 12 years ago when she won the 400 meters in her home country, sprinting through a torrent of noise. "Of course, Cathy ran for 49 seconds," says retired British triple jumper Jonathan Edwards, who won a gold medal on the same night as Freeman. "Mo will be running for 27 minutes."

The other of the two distance runners, the one who was born in Oregon and lives there still, will race the Olympics far from home. Galen Rupp will circle the track in relative anonymity except to the track fanatics who understand his quest and follow it in corners of the Internet, alternately praising his performances and criticizing the training regimen that produced them. He will be a tall, blond American surrounded mostly by tiny East Africans, and he will be trying—along with Bernard Lagat—to break a U.S. men's Olympic medal drought in the long track events that approaches five decades.

They will shake hands before the start and wish each other luck, because while they seem to share almost nothing, they in fact have shared more than most brothers. Thousands of miles on trails in New Mexico and France. Hundreds of lung-searing interval laps on tracks in Oregon and Utah. A passion for soccer, both on the pitch and on PlayStation. Meals, hotel rooms, plane rides; a hometown, a coach, a goal.

The individual stories that drive politics

Why Rick Santorum would have killed my daughter - Sarah Fister Gale - Open Salon: Next month, my daughter Ella will turn 11-years-old. She’s a beautiful girl, with blond hair and green eyes. She’s an amazing artist, a brilliant writer, and she can do the splits without even warming up.

And if I hadn’t had an amniocentesis, she would have died the day she was born.

Mitt Romney’s abortion record: flip-flop or conversion? - Slate Magazine

Mitt Romney’s abortion record: flip-flop or conversion? - Slate Magazine: Parts of the story have been told before. But no one has put it together. And no one has assembled the many video and audio clips that bear witness to what happened. In this article, the first complete examination of Romney’s journey, you’ll see his transformation on camera. (You can also watch a video narration.)

When you see the story in its full context, three things become clear. First, this was no flip-flop. Romney is a man with many facets, groping his way through a series of fluid positions on an array of difficult issues. His journey isn’t complete. It never will be. Second, for Romney, abortion was never really a policy question. He didn’t want to change the law. What he wanted to change was his identity. And third, the malleability at Romney’s core is as much about his past as about his future. Again and again, he has struggled to make sense not just of what he should do, but of who he has been. The problem with Romney isn’t that he keeps changing his mind. The problem is that he keeps changing his story.

21 February, 2012

The street views Google wasn't expecting you to see – in pictures | Art and design | guardian.co.uk

The street views Google wasn't expecting you to see – in pictures | Art and design | guardian.co.uk: Artist Jon Rafman's photo project The Nine Eyes of Google Street View, named after the nine lenses mounted on a Google Street View car, collects the strange and beautiful images they capture by accident from around the world

The Smart Set: Zoning Out - February 16, 2012

The Smart Set: Zoning Out - February 16, 2012: The evening of December 29, 2011 was a Thursday evening. Most of the citizens of Samoa — a mere 190,000 in total — came home from work, had their nightly meal, and went to sleep. But when they awoke, it was Saturday morning. Friday, December 30, 2011 had disappeared. More precisely, December 30 was erased from the routine progression of time. Those with December 30th anniversaries, lovers of Fridays, and people not quite ready for the next year were out of luck. The clocks had been turned forward, a full day forward. December 30, 2011 was a day no Samoan would know.

The government of Samoa had decided the previous June to move westward across the international date line, so everyone knew the lost Friday was coming. The Samoan government made this change because they wanted to better align Samoa with trading partners in the East: Australia, New Zealand, China, the rest of Asia in general.

Facinating stuff from the Department of State

US embassy cables: A wedding feast, the Caucasus way | World news | guardian.co.uk: 1. (C) Weddings are elaborate in Dagestan, the largest autonomy in the North Caucasus. On August 22 we attended a wedding in Makhachkala, Dagestan's capital: Duma member and Dagestan Oil Company chief Gadzhi Makhachev's son married a classmate. The lavish display and heavy drinking concealed the deadly serious North Caucasus politics of land, ethnicity, clan, and alliance. The guest list spanned the Caucasus power structure -- guest starring Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov -- and underlined just how personal the region's politics can be. End Summary.


Fishing as Slaves on the High Seas - Businessweek: The experiences of the fishermen on the Melilla 203 were not unique. In a six-month investigation spanning three continents, Bloomberg Businessweek found cases of debt bondage on the Melilla 203 and at least nine other ships that have operated in New Zealand’s waters. As recently as November 2011, fish from the Melilla 203 and other suspect vessels was bought and processed by United Fisheries, New Zealand’s eighth-largest seafood company, which has sold the same species in the same period to distributors operating in the United States. (The U.S. imports 86 percent of its seafood.) Those distributors have sold those species to major U.S. companies. Those companies — which include some of the country’s biggest retailers and restaurants — have sold the seafood to American consumers.

Anatomy of the Great Adderall Drought | Motherboard

Anatomy of the Great Adderall Drought | Motherboard: ADHD affects a startling number of Americans—it’s estimated that nearly five percent of Americans are living with the disorder. Many of those affected use some type of stimulant drug to treat their symptoms. While various drug treatments—notably methylphenidate, better known as Ritalin—have been around since the early 1960s, the Jersey-registered, Ireland-headquartered global specialty biopharmaceutical company, Shire Pharmaceuticals’ introduction of Adderall in 1996 drastically changed the landscape of ADHD treatment. Today, only generic versions of the mixture of amphetamine salts are available. However, the extended release form, Adderall XR, is available in both generic and name-brand forms.

Germania: Hitler's Dream Capital | History Today

Germania: Hitler's Dream Capital | History Today: Germania, though largely unrealised, nonetheless projected its malign influence into many other spheres of life – and death – in the Third Reich. Its contempt for mankind was demonstrated not only in the treatment meted out to those doomed to cut its stone in the concentration camps or those who found themselves living in its path; it also extended to those who might one day have walked those granite-clad boulevards. It is notable, for example, that in all the plans a human dimension is almost completely lacking. Hitler, it appears, had absolutely no interest in the social aspects of the planning that he oversaw; his passion was for the buildings themselves rather than for the human beings who might one day inhabit them. Indeed it has been plausibly suggested by Frederic Spotts that the plans for Berlin’s reconstruction were themselves simply a manifestation of Hitler’s desire to reduce cities and even individuals to the status of mere playthings. When one recalls the images of the F�hrer stooped like some malevolent deity over his architectural models in the Reich Chancellery this is an interpretation that becomes instantly and chillingly persuasive.

Portrait of the Young Vladimir Putin - The Daily Beast

Portrait of the Young Vladimir Putin - The Daily Beast: Because Vladimir Putin was catapulted to power from obscurity, and because he spent his entire adult life within the confines of a secret and secretive institution, he has been able to exercise greater control over what is known about him than almost any other modern politician—certainly more than any modern Western politician. He has created his own -mythology of a child of post-siege Leningrad, a mean, hungry, impoverished place that bred mean, hungry, ferocious children.

Robert Reich (Manufacturing Illusions)

Robert Reich (Manufacturing Illusions): But American workers aren’t sharing in this bounty. Although jobs are slowly returning, wages continue to drop, adjusted for inflation. Of every dollar of income earned in the United States in the third quarter, just 44 cents went to workers’ wages and salaries — the smallest share since the government began keeping track in 1947.

The fundamental problem isn’t the decline of American manufacturing, and reviving manufacturing won’t solve it. The problem is the declining power of American workers to share in the gains of the American economy.

China's new sports problem: Stop the Linsanity? | The Economist

China's new sports problem: Stop the Linsanity? | The Economist: Mr Lin has quickly amassed a huge following among Chinese basketball fans (and this country does love basketball). This poses a bit of a conundrum for Chinese authorities for a number of reasons. The most obvious is that Mr Lin is an American who is proudly of Taiwanese descent, which would seem to complicate China’s efforts to claim him (and oh how they have tried already—on which, more below).

But there are three other reasons Mr Lin’s stardom could fluster the authorities. First, he is very openly Christian, and the Communist Party is deeply wary of the deeply religious (notably on those within its own ranks). Second, he is not a big centre or forward, the varietals which are the chief mainland Chinese export to the NBA, including the Mavericks’ Mr Yi; and of course he came out of nowhere to become a star, having been educated at the most prestigious university in America, Harvard.

Mr Lin is, put plainly, precisely everything that China’s state sport system cannot possibly produce.

GOP's worst nightmare -- a contested convention - CNN.com

GOP's worst nightmare -- a contested convention - CNN.com: The big change in American politics over the past two decades has been the decline of followership. Party members expect the party to serve them -- one major reason that both parties have drifted to the ideological extremes since the 1970s.

That expectation would only be intensified and concentrated in a party convention with Fox News and talk radio whipping and riling the delegates into angry emotionalism.

A decision-making convention in modern times won't submit to the edicts of smoke-filled rooms. The delegates will want their own way.

If Romney fails to win the primaries over the next few months, brace yourself: not for a replay of 1920, when Republican bosses made their coldly calculated deal, but for a replay of 1896, when the Democratic Convention went wild for William Jennings Bryan after one thrilling speech. Of course, Bryan went on to lose in a landslide.

The Seven Blunders

The Seven Blunders:

In October of 1947, Mohandas Gandhi gave a piece of paper to his visiting grandson, Arun Gandhi, upon which was written the following list — a list he said contained "the seven blunders that human society commits, and that cause all the violence." The next day, Arun returned home to South Africa, never to see his grandfather again. Gandhi was assassinated three months later.

(Source: Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, & Marriott; Image: Gandhi, via Wikimedia.)

(click link to see list)

This is creepy.

Farming the Unconscious - we make money not art: As long as their brain stem is intact, the homeostatic functions of the chicken will continue to operate. By removing the cerebral cortex of the chicken, its sensory perceptions are removed. It can be produced in a denser condition while remaining alive, and oblivious.

The feet will also be removed so the body of the chicken can be packed together in a dense volume.

Food, water and air are delivered via an arterial network and excreta is removed in the same manner. Around 1000 chickens will be packed into each 'leaf', which forms part of a moving, productive system.

20 February, 2012

Book Excerpt: The Creation of Yao Ming - TIME

Book Excerpt: The Creation of Yao Ming - TIME: News of Yao Ming's birth was quickly relayed across town to the top leaders of the Shanghai Sports Commission. They were not surprised. These men and women had been trying to cultivate a new generation of athletes who would embody the rising power of China. The boy in the maternity ward represented, in many ways, the culmination of their plan.

The experiment had no code name, but in Shanghai basketball circles it might as well have been called Operation Yao Ming. The wheels had been set in motion more than a quarter-century earlier, when Chairman Mao Zedong exhorted his followers to funnel the nation's most genetically gifted youngsters into the emerging communist sports machine. Two generations of Yao Ming's forebears had been singled out by authorities for their hulking physiques, and his mother and father had both been drafted into the sports system.

Ron Paul’s Libertarian Roots : The New Yorker

Ron Paul’s Libertarian Roots : The New Yorker: There is only one politician whom Paul regularly praises in his speeches—a man he coyly refers to as a “senator from Kentucky.” If Paul sees a future for himself in the Republican Party, it is through his son Rand, who might have an easier time than his father in attracting traditional conservatives to his cause. (During his campaign for the Senate, for example, Rand Paul declined to rule out using force to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.) Unlike most politicians on the verge of retirement, Paul can’t accurately claim that he has nothing to lose by breaking with the party that has been his home for all but one of his years in politics. Hope for his son’s prospects—and a disinclination to put him in an awkward position—might be enough to keep Paul from ending his political career with another third-party campaign. If he split the vote, indirectly helping to re�lect Obama, it might be a long time before Republicans were willing to get behind anyone named Paul.

In the meantime, Ron Paul seems content to stoke the discontent of his acolytes. He doesn’t know exactly when the implosion will occur, but he knows it’s forty years closer now than it was when he first sounded the alarm. ♦

The Price of Dissent in Saudi Arabia | The Nation

The Price of Dissent in Saudi Arabia | The Nation: Tens of thousands of self-righteous Saudis responded venomously, including the country’s king, who allegedly personally ordered Kashgari’s detention. Amid calls for his death, a desperate and frightened Kashgari tried and failed to flee. An escape to New Zealand, where he hoped to press for political asylum, was interrupted after authorities in Malaysia deported him back to Saudi Arabia. Should Kashgari face formal criminal charges of apostasy, prosecutors will argue that he blasphemed Islam’s most important figure. It is an accusation fraught with peril. Angry clerics serve as gatekeepers of the law and, more important, as dispensers of cruelty masked as justice.

Things I have learnt from and about IVF — Crooked Timber

Things I have learnt from and about IVF — Crooked Timber: IVF is a lot of things. It’s highly political, as I’ve tried to illustrate. It’s unpleasant, tiring and time-consuming. It’s bloody expensive. In all these respects, it’s perhaps not bad practice for the down-sides of parenthood. It’s also a timely counter to the downward supply curve of adoption.

But if I had to sum up all I’ve learnt, particularly for those considering it, I’d say ‘It’s actually not all that bad, considering. And at least it gives us a chance.’

19 February, 2012

Movie academy: Oscar voters overwhelmingly white, male - latimes.com

Movie academy: Oscar voters overwhelmingly white, male - latimes.com: "I have to tell you," said academy member Viola Davis, nominated for lead actress this year for "The Help." "I don't even know who is a member of the academy."

A Los Angeles Times study found that academy voters are markedly less diverse than the moviegoing public, and even more monolithic than many in the film industry may suspect. Oscar voters are nearly 94% Caucasian and 77% male, The Times found. Blacks are about 2% of the academy, and Latinos are less than 2%.

Oscar voters have a median age of 62, the study showed. People younger than 50 constitute just 14% of the membership.

The Future of History | Foreign Affairs

The Future of History | Foreign Affairs: The single most serious challenge to liberal democracy in the world today comes from China, which has combined authoritarian government with a partially marketized economy. China is heir to a long and proud tradition of high-quality bureaucratic government, one that stretches back over two millennia. Its leaders have managed a hugely complex transition from a centralized, Soviet-style planned economy to a dynamic open one and have done so with remarkable competence -- more competence, frankly, than U.S. leaders have shown in the management of their own macroeconomic policy recently. Many people currently admire the Chinese system not just for its economic record but also because it can make large, complex decisions quickly, compared with the agonizing policy paralysis that has struck both the United States and Europe in the past few years. Especially since the recent financial crisis, the Chinese themselves have begun touting the “China model” as an alternative to liberal democracy.

NBA Draft Preview 2010: Jeremy Lin, G Harvard | Hoops Analyst

NBA Draft Preview 2010: Jeremy Lin, G Harvard | Hoops Analyst: I like Jeremy Lin as a PG prospect, but he isn’t without flaws and concerns. He isn’t a great passer yet and he didn’t score as frequently as a prospect from a small college should. Both numbers are in the grey area though. They’re lower than I’d like them to be, but not low enough that I’d say Jeremy Lin was doomed as a prospect. That being noted, he does bring that combination of a high 2-point pct. and RSB40, which has been a very, very good thing for aspiring NBA PGs to have on their college report card in past years. This is a weak year for both PGs and combo guards. After John Wall there are no sure things. Jeremy Lin might be the #2 PG available in this draft. He looks to me like a sleeper in the mold of George Hill. He appears to have the skills to become at least a usable combo guard. If he can get the passing thing down and handle the point, Jeremy Lin is a good enough player to start in the NBA and possibly star.

Regulating cabs: No knowledge needed | The Economist

Regulating cabs: No knowledge needed | The Economist: But what would London look like without TfL’s regulations and licenses? A real world example of an all-but-free taxi market can be found in that renowned hub of capitalist free-marketeering, Tehran. In the Iranian capital, any car is a potential taxi and anybody who wants to pick up a passenger does.

There are 22,000 black cabs in London and another 49,000 vehicles licensed for private hire. Some 30,000 licensed taxis operate in Tehran. But so do an estimated 53,000 unlicensed taxis—though this number is extremely fluid. The result is not A Clockwork Orange-type world of widespread sexual attacks, armed robbery and societal breakdown as foretold by TfL. Instead, getting from place to place in Tehran is remarkably easy, safe and cheap.

Washingtonian Magazine - Dining and Restaurants, Shopping, Politics, Entertainment, Nightlife, Real Estate, News and Events in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia

Washingtonian Magazine - Dining and Restaurants, Shopping, Politics, Entertainment, Nightlife, Real Estate, News and Events in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia: Amico’s motto appears at the top of the Homicide Watch homepage: “Mark every death. Remember every victim. Follow every case.”

Below the motto are faces of the fallen. Sweet Elaine Coleman, with fluffy earmuffs and striped scarf; Silvestre Antonio Perez-Agustine, in his snow-dusted parka; Viola Drath in her pearl necklace and silver broach. Lucki Pannell bursting with life; Karen Jordan grinning above her Redskins sweatshirt.

A map pinpoints where each was killed and shows what we know too well: All but a few of DC’s murders take place east of Rock Creek Park.

“I’m not generally a fan of Web sites,” says US Attorney Ronald Machen, “but this is different and valuable."

Amico’s is a solitary mission—to fill a void in how we understand and acknowledge murders in the District. Her site has become a place where police and prosecutors, friends and families of victims, and people who are simply curious can wade into the details of every homicide.

Between hope and fear - FT.com

Between hope and fear - FT.com: In his journey into the past abuses that explain the Arab spring, Bishara argues that the youth awakening was inspired by the sacrifices of political, community and labour leaders over many years. In Egypt, these people include George Ishaq from Egypt’s Kefaya movement, an organisation that had played an instrumental role in raising awareness about the dangers of a hereditary transition years before the youth launched the revolution.

In Tunisia, Bishara rightly notes, the uprising started by young men and women in a remote town became a nationwide revolution when labour unions and banned opposition groups joined in. “While the revolution marked a break with the past, it was also a by-product of a long history of social and political struggle in the Arab world,” he says.

70 years ago

Executive Order 9066: Japanese American internment in World War II - Framework - Photos and Video - Visual Storytelling from the Los Angeles Times

Eurozine - The sense of an ending - Stephen Holmes, Ivan Krastev Putin and the decline of "no-choice" politics

Eurozine - The sense of an ending - Stephen Holmes, Ivan Krastev Putin and the decline of "no-choice" politics: By engineering rigged elections that nobody bothered or dared to protest, Putin managed to conceal his regime's deepest secret, namely that Russia, rather than being misgoverned, is governed very laxly if at all. Contrary to the predominant view, Putin's real power has never extended much beyond Moscow. Russia's strongman has been strong enough to prevent anyone from aspiring to replace him; but he has spectacularly failed in his attempts to rule his country. Putin is not the boss of Russia. It is more realistic to see him as a hostage to regional elites. He did not succeed in overcoming the weakness of the state. He succeeded only in hiding it to some extent. His vaunted vertical of power is a sham, boiling down to a guarantee of impunity to regime loyalists and a chance for his inner circle to ascend into a charmed circle of unimaginable wealth.

The latter arrangement is a different kind of vertical entirely, resembling the mountain climber's rope by which a few friends manage to pull themselves up and away from their less fortunate fellow citizens, as in Vladimir Vysotsky's 1967 film Vertikal. What puzzles any serious observer of Russian politics is not the ability of the elites to get things done or to impose their will, but rather their ability to steal the natural wealth of the nation with only minimal resort to violence. Putin has never been especially strong, in other words. But he has succeeded in creating a system that is relatively stable because it makes him look much stronger than he actually is.

Until now, that is.

Harvard’s Liberal-Arts Failure Is Wall Street’s Gain: Ezra Klein - Bloomberg

Harvard’s Liberal-Arts Failure Is Wall Street’s Gain: Ezra Klein - Bloomberg: What Wall Street figured out is that colleges are producing a large number of very smart, completely confused graduates. Kids who have ample mental horsepower, incredible work ethics and no idea what to do next. So the finance industry takes advantage of that confusion, attracting students who never intended to work in finance but don’t have any better ideas about where to go.

17 February, 2012

A Primary That Never Ends

A Primary That Never Ends:


(Chart by Stephen Budiansky)

The Hounding Of Pat Buchanan

The Hounding Of Pat Buchanan:


Sixteen years ago, when I came out as HIV-positive and quit TNR's editorship, Buchanan, who had sparred relentlessly in public with me over gay equality, wrote me a personal hand-written note. He wrote he was saddened by what he heard - which was then regarded as an imminent death sentence - and wanted to say how he would pray that I would survive, if only so we could continue to argue and fight and debate for many more years. He was one of only two Washingtonians who did such a thing. I was moved beyond words. But he knew I loved a good argument as well. Over a gulf of ideological and philosophical difference, we could debate reasonably.

He's a complicated man and I will not defend for a second his views on many things. But he is also a compassionate and decent man in private and an honest intellectual in public. It says everything about the polarization of our discourse and the evolution of cable news into rival sources of propaganda that this ornery figure, still churning out ideas and books while others his age are well in retirement, is now banished.

For shame. Another step backward from real debate on cable "news".

How Companies Learn Your Secrets - NYTimes.com

How Companies Learn Your Secrets - NYTimes.com: Whenever possible, Target assigns each shopper a unique code — known internally as the Guest ID number — that keeps tabs on everything they buy. “If you use a credit card or a coupon, or fill out a survey, or mail in a refund, or call the customer help line, or open an e-mail we’ve sent you or visit our Web site, we’ll record it and link it to your Guest ID,” Pole said. “We want to know everything we can.”

Also linked to your Guest ID is demographic information like your age, whether you are married and have kids, which part of town you live in, how long it takes you to drive to the store, your estimated salary, whether you’ve moved recently, what credit cards you carry in your wallet and what Web sites you visit. Target can buy data about your ethnicity, job history, the magazines you read, if you’ve ever declared bankruptcy or got divorced, the year you bought (or lost) your house, where you went to college, what kinds of topics you talk about online, whether you prefer certain brands of coffee, paper towels, cereal or applesauce, your political leanings, reading habits, charitable giving and the number of cars you own. (In a statement, Target declined to identify what demographic information it collects or purchases.) All that information is meaningless, however, without someone to analyze and make sense of it. That’s where Andrew Pole and the dozens of other members of Target’s Guest Marketing Analytics department come in.

A Convenient Untruth: God and the Evolution of Ethics – Opinion – ABC Religion & Ethics (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

A Convenient Untruth: God and the Evolution of Ethics – Opinion – ABC Religion & Ethics (Australian Broadcasting Corporation): But somewhere between its invention and today, ethics has become warped. We allowed the original function of ethics to be forgotten. Instead we took the presumed commands of a divine will or the abstract strictures of pure reason to be the roots of ethics, and constructed distorted moral systems in their spirit, forgetting the core purpose of ethics.

Nuclear Weapons on a Highway Near You | Mother Jones

Nuclear Weapons on a Highway Near You | Mother Jones: If a terrorist attempted to attack or take over one of OST's vehicles (not only 18-wheelers, but also fleet trucks, vans, and even dune buggies), they would have to contend with a lot more than just the specially trained agents manning them. "The trucks have all sorts of goodies, the details of which are mostly secret," Bunn says. The cabs are fitted with custom composite armor and lightweight armored glass, as well as redundant communications systems that link the convoys to a monitoring center in Albuquerque. A driver has the ability to disable the truck so it can't be moved or opened, and the truck is designed to defend itself, OST officials claim. How so remains unclear, though its parent agency, the DOE, contracted in 2005 with an Australian weapons company called Metal Storm to develop a robotic 40-millimeter gun that could "distribute large quantities of ammunition over a large area in an extremely short time frame."

The Roots of State Education Part 1: The Spartan Model | George H. Smith | Libertarianism.org

The Roots of State Education Part 1: The Spartan Model | George H. Smith | Libertarianism.org: Sparta and Athens became competing model of education, especially for those Enlightenment intellectuals who did not want to leave education under the control of the Catholic Church and other religious authorities. The contrast between the Athenian model and the Spartan model could not have been more clearly delineated. Athens, with its brilliant intellectual and cultural achievements, enjoyed a free market in education. Sparta, an intellectual and cultural wasteland, was dominated by a system of state education.

For modern libertarians the choice between these two models would seem virtually self-evident. But this was not so for some of our predecessors, who thought that the Spartan model, suitably revised, would provide a better foundation and more security for a free society than educational laissez-faire ever could. This curious anomaly in the history of libertarian thought has rarely received the attention it deserves.

15 February, 2012

Direct negotiations: Recipe for prolonging the occupation

Direct negotiations: Recipe for prolonging the occupation: While Palestinians only receive their “goods” after the negotiations end – if they get them at all – Israeli leaders are paid with legitimacy from the minute they enter the negotiation room.

This is the reason that the Israeli right, which until the early 1990s opposed all contacts with PLO leaders and demanded those holding talks with the organization put on trial, is now courting the Palestinian leadership, asking to negotiate “anytime,” “anywhere,” and “without pre-conditions.” This, as Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman understood, is the most effective way to enjoy national consensus and fight off diplomatic pressure. From the perspective of any Israeli prime minister, and certainly a right-wing one, it is very tempting to stay in the negotiating room forever – postponing indefinitely the near-civil-war that will accompany the evacuation of settlements, while earning the international legitimacy of “the peacemaker.”

Ninety gaffes in ninety years - Home News - UK - The Independent

Ninety gaffes in ninety years - Home News - UK - The Independent: "A few years ago, everybody was saying we must have more leisure, everyone's working too much. Now that everybody's got more leisure time they are complaining they are unemployed. People don't seem to make up their minds what they want." A man of the people shares insight into the recession that gripped Britain in 1981.

14 February, 2012

The mathematical equation that caused the banks to crash | Science | The Observer

The mathematical equation that caused the banks to crash | Science | The Observer: The early success of Black-Scholes encouraged the financial sector to develop a host of related equations aimed at different financial instruments. Conventional banks could use these equations to justify loans and trades and assess the likely profits, always keeping an eye open for potential trouble. But less conventional businesses weren't so cautious. Soon, the banks followed them into increasingly speculative ventures.

Any mathematical model of reality relies on simplifications and assumptions. The Black-Scholes equation was based on arbitrage pricing theory, in which both drift and volatility are constant. This assumption is common in financial theory, but it is often false for real markets. The equation also assumes that there are no transaction costs, no limits on short-selling and that money can always be lent and borrowed at a known, fixed, risk-free interest rate. Again, reality is often very different.

The Way Greeks Live Now - NYTimes.com

The Way Greeks Live Now - NYTimes.com: By many indicators, Greece is devolving into something unprecedented in modern Western experience. A quarter of all Greek companies have gone out of business since 2009, and half of all small businesses in the country say they are unable to meet payroll. The suicide rate increased by 40 percent in the first half of 2011. A barter economy has sprung up, as people try to work around a broken financial system. Nearly half the population under 25 is unemployed.

13 February, 2012

CRS on the next Chinese leader

R42342.pdf (application/pdf Object)

The Mystery of the Millionaire Metaphysician: Slate republishes one of the greatest magazine stories ever written. - Slate Magazine

The Mystery of the Millionaire Metaphysician: Slate republishes one of the greatest magazine stories ever written. - Slate Magazine: In the July/August 2001 issue of the late, great magazine Lingua Franca, James Ryerson published an enthralling article about an anonymous benefactor who was paying professors huge sums of money to review a strange 60-page philosophical manuscript. Slate editor David Plotz talked about “The Mystery of the Millionaire Metaphysician” on this week’s Political Gabfest, citing it as one of his favorite magazine articles of all time. Ryerson gave Slate permission to republish the story in full.

Panic Time for Everybody. Sepuku Seems To Be Winning the GOP Primary.

Panic Time for Everybody. Sepuku Seems To Be Winning the GOP Primary.:Santorum winning will cause abject panic among the powers that be in Washington, DC because they don’t think he can win a general election. They are sure he cannot win a general election. They are sure all the things he has written about women working outside the home, gays, beastiality, etc. will come back to bite him in the general election.

If Romney wins, the conservative base will panic because he will be one step closer to wrapping this thing up and they don’t want him to wrap it up. They want him beaten. They just aren’t sure they want Santorum, or Gingrich for that matter, to be the one to do it.

So everybody sit back and panic. It’s panic time in the GOP. In a race they should be winning against Barack Obama, the only winner seems to be sepuku.

12 February, 2012

Urban vs rural, I'd bet.

Even Critics of Safety Net Depend on It Increasingly - NYTimes.com: Support for Republican candidates, who generally promise to cut government spending, has increased since 1980 in states where the federal government spends more than it collects. The greater the dependence, the greater the support for Republican candidates.

Conversely, states that pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits tend to support Democratic candidates.

NYU Business School Professor Has Mastered The Art Of Email Flaming

NYU Business School Professor Has Mastered The Art Of Email Flaming: Getting a good job, working long hours, keeping your skills relevant, navigating the politics of an organization, finding a live/work balance...these are all really hard, xxxx. In contrast, respecting institutions, having manners, demonstrating a level of humility...these are all (relatively) easy. Get the easy stuff right xxxx. In and of themselves they will not make you successful. However, not possessing them will hold you back and you will not achieve your potential which, by virtue of you being admitted to Stern, you must have in spades. It's not too late xxxx...

11 February, 2012

Arab revolutions: How to set Syria free | The Economist

Arab revolutions: How to set Syria free | The Economist: IN HOMS they are burying their dead under cover of darkness, for fear that the mourners themselves will become the next victims. Syrian government forces are setting out to strike the city’s makeshift clinics, where the floor is already slick with blood. The rebels in Homs have guns, but they are no match for the army’s tanks. And yet the butchery seems only to fire the conviction among the city’s inhabitants that state violence must not prevail against the popular will.

The outside world, to its shame, has shown no such resolve.

10 February, 2012

Tomgram: Peter Van Buren, In Washington, Fear the Silence, Not the Noise | TomDispatch

Tomgram: Peter Van Buren, In Washington, Fear the Silence, Not the Noise | TomDispatch: I am told that, in its 223 years of existence, I am the only Foreign Service Officer ever to have written a critical book about the State Department while still employed there. We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People exposed what State did not want people to know: that they had wasted enormous amounts of money in Iraq, mostly due to ignorance and a desire for short-term successes that could be trumpeted back home. For the crime of writing this book and maintaining a blog that occasionally embarrasses, State Department officials destroyed my career, even as they confirm my thesis, and their own failure, by reducing the Baghdad Embassy to half its size in the face of Iraq's unraveling.

Warren Buffett: Why stocks beat gold and bonds - The Term Sheet: Fortune's deals blog Term Sheet

Warren Buffett: Why stocks beat gold and bonds - The Term Sheet: Fortune's deals blog Term Sheet: From our definition there flows an important corollary: The riskiness of an investment is not measured by beta (a Wall Street term encompassing volatility and often used in measuring risk) but rather by the probability -- the reasoned probability -- of that investment causing its owner a loss of purchasing power over his contemplated holding period. Assets can fluctuate greatly in price and not be risky as long as they are reasonably certain to deliver increased purchasing power over their holding period. And as we will see, a nonfluctuating asset can be laden with risk.

20 Common Grammar Mistakes That (Almost) Everyone Makes | LitReactor

20 Common Grammar Mistakes That (Almost) Everyone Makes | LitReactor: Below are 20 common grammar mistakes I see routinely, not only in editorial queries and submissions, but in print: in HR manuals, blogs, magazines, newspapers, trade journals, and even best selling novels. If it makes you feel any better, I’ve made each of these mistakes a hundred times, and I know some of the best authors in history have lived to see these very toadstools appear in print. Let's hope you can learn from some of their more famous mistakes.

a theory

Obama riled up Republicans on contraception, and then delivers a knock-out punch.: The fun part of this is that Obama just pulled a fast one on Republicans. He drew this out for two weeks, letting Republicans work themselves into a frenzy of anti-contraception rhetoric, all thinly disguised as concern for religious liberty, and then created a compromise that addressed their purported concerns but without actually reducing women's access to contraception, which is what this has always been about. (As Dana Goldstein reported in 2010, before the religious liberty gambit was brought up, the Catholic bishops were just demanding that women be denied access and told to abstain from sex instead.) With the fig leaf of religious liberty removed, Republicans are in a bad situation. They can either drop this and slink away knowing they've been punked, or they can double down. But in order to do so, they'll have to be more blatantly anti-contraception, a politically toxic move in a country where 99% of women have used contraception.

09 February, 2012

Of Lawlessness and Temptation - Ricochet.com

Of Lawlessness and Temptation - Ricochet.com: Set aside the adorable liberal naivete (“I’m feeling really good about this set of rules, guys! We just need to tinker with the bureaucratic machine a little bit more and public schools will morph into palaces!”) and look to the heart of the matter. I submit that any true conservative should be outraged by the President’s egregious abuse of power—outraged to a degree where any policy improvements that we believe may emanate from the unconstitutional modifications should look like small peanuts by comparison. This is what distinguishes true constitutional conservatives from unprincipled progressives on either side of the aisle: ten times out of ten, we will take playing by the rules and losing over winning a policy battle via trampling on the rule of law

The Man Who Wouldn't Die | Past Imperfect

The Man Who Wouldn't Die | Past Imperfect: At this point killing Michael Malloy was just as much about pride as about a payoff—a payoff, they all griped, that would be split among too many conspirators. Murphy tried next. He let a tin of sardines rot for several days, mixed in some shrapnel, slathered the concoction between pieces of bread and served Malloy the sandwich. Any minute, they thought, the metal would start slashing through his organs. Instead, Malloy finished his tin sandwich and asked for another.

The gang called an emergency conference. They didn’t know what to make of this Rasputin of the Bronx.

Libya’s New Government Unable to Control Militias - NYTimes.com

Libya’s New Government Unable to Control Militias - NYTimes.com: “I don’t know where this country is heading,” he went on. “I swear to God, this will never get untangled.”


AS THE COACH AT A HIGH SCHOOL NEAR CHICAGO, MIKE POWELL - 02.13.12 - SI Vault: So every morning Powell's body tells him to stay in bed, and every morning he fights it. Instead he takes 10 pills a day, eats anti-inflammatory foods, rewards himself with the occasional apple for a sugar rush and focuses on attainable goals. "My life has become relatively small," he says. "I coach wrestling and love my wife." He pauses. "I don't have much hope of being in remission for 20 years, but there's not a day that I'm not up for the fight."

These days Powell can barely complete five push-ups. If he makes it through a quarter-mile walk, he is pleased. Last week he completed two pull-ups.

He is, his wrestlers will tell you, the strongest man they know.

08 February, 2012

In Chicago And Boston, Machines Prepare For War

In Chicago And Boston, Machines Prepare For War: But there are more straightforward similarities as well. Both operations are located in second cities—Romney’s in Boston, and Obama’s in Chicago—where the campaigns have tried to co-opt the local color to lend their efforts an air of authenticity. (For proof, follow the Twitter feeds of either campaign’s operatives during Bulls or Celtics games.)

And while neither campaign is headquartered in D.C., they’re each loaded with practiced Washington hands. The officials’ experience has eliminated most of the kinks and leaks that dog more amateur operations, and each campaign is run like a kind of soulless machine — devoid of spontaneity, and utterly allergic to anything that takes them off message. Take, for example, the Romney camp's firing of debate coach Brett O’Donnell after he got too much credit in the press for the candidate’s game-changing Florida debate performances.

RIAA Totally Out Of Touch: Lashes Out At Google, Wikipedia And Everyone Who Protested SOPA/PIPA | Techdirt

RIAA Totally Out Of Touch: Lashes Out At Google, Wikipedia And Everyone Who Protested SOPA/PIPA | Techdirt: There have been plenty of wide open discussions on this from those opposed to SOPA and PIPA. The folks from the RIAA are welcome to jump into debates here on Techdirt. Or they can go onto Reddit where many of the debates are happening as well. While these are open and there may be some hyperbole mixed in, on the whole there are lots of reasonable points being made. The problem is that we have yet to see any reason, whatsoever, from the RIAA and MPAA. This NY Times piece is a classic example. Eleven paragraphs of pure rhetoric and misinformation... and then at the end, a plea for an end to such tactics? Sorry, but it might help if you actually started dumping the misinformation and nasty rhetoric yourself. Then feel free to join the rest of us on the open internet where these discussions are already ongoing.

The Millions : This Chart Is a Lonely Hunter: The Narrative Eros of the Infographic

The Millions : This Chart Is a Lonely Hunter: The Narrative Eros of the Infographic: The reduction of such messiness into such neatness filled me with a familiar, slightly nauseating feeling of delight, a feeling I have since dubbed the infogasm. This fleeting sense of the erotic occurs only when a graphic perfectly clarifies complex phenomena through the careful arrangement of its visual data sets. The infogasm is instantaneous, overwhelming, and usually transitory in nature, leaving you oddly exhausted. Plain old text does not function with quite the the same epiphanic climax; by comparison, the written word’s magic is elusive and lingering, often revealing its fruits much later, after the article has been finished and put away.

Escape From the Holy Shtetl | Txt Post

Escape From the Holy Shtetl | Txt Post: Gitty Grunwald fled the pious world of her mother to return to the secular city of her grandparents. There’s only one problem: The Satmars kept her daughter. A family saga of four generations of American Jews.

The Miraculous NASA Breakthrough That Could Save Millions of Lives

The Miraculous NASA Breakthrough That Could Save Millions of Lives: The NASA Biocapsule—made of carbon nanotubes—will be able to "diagnose" and instantly treat an astronaut without him or her even knowing there's something amiss. It would be like having your own personal Dr. McCoy—implanted under your skin. It represents one of the most significant breakthroughs in the history of medicine, and yes, it'll work on Earth, too.

Out of all the amazing things we saw during our NASA visits, nothing blew our minds as much as this tiny little bundle of carbon. The Space Biosciences Division at NASA Ames creates medical technology for astronauts. They essentially provide healthcare for outer space.

Happy Hanukkah from Rick Santorum

Happy Hanukkah from Rick Santorum:

This Hannukah card from Rick Santorum's South Carolina team -- captured first by Hunter Baker -- is worth a giggle or three.

Screen shot 2012-02-08 at 3.42.47 PM

In the New York Times, Sheryl Sandberg Is Lucky, Men Are Good - Rebecca J. Rosen - Technology - The Atlantic

In the New York Times, Sheryl Sandberg Is Lucky, Men Are Good - Rebecca J. Rosen - Technology - The Atlantic: For some people, this implies that Sandberg believes women can get whatever they want if they just work harder and believe in themselves more -- that, somehow, the combination of ambition and confidence will melt away the barriers created by years of sexism in the workplace. They say that Sandberg has lived a charmed life, and doesn't give enough credit to the extent that sexism can hold women back, regardless of their attitude. The New York Times summarizes this criticism by saying:

[S]ome say her aim-high message is a bit out of tune. Everyone agrees she is wickedly smart. But she has also been lucky, and has had powerful mentors along the way

This may just be a "some say" gloss on criticisms of Sandberg, but it's an unfortunately messy summary of her detractors. Luck, after all, is what too many women chalk up their success to, Sandberg has argued. Their male peers, in contrast, believe themselves to be "awesome" -- fully deserving of their success.


I wasn't sure if my package was under 16 oz for mailbox use. No scales at home, I improvised.

Good news.

India Winning Polio Fight | Indian Decade: India has closed out the first polio-free year in the country’s history. As noted by the World Health Organization (WHO), this marks significant progress for a country that as recently as 1994 was experiencing as many as 4,791 cases a year. The polio-free year means that India will no longer be considered a “polio-endemic” country, leaving its South Asian neighbors, Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as Nigeria, as the only remaining nations holding this label.

07 February, 2012

On Drones

New Pentagon Budget Offers Smaller Wars, But More of Them | Yale Journal of International Affairs: Drones are undoubtedly useful. If President Clinton had used them instead of Rangers in Somalia, he probably wouldn’t have faced anywhere near the sort of popular backlash he did in 1993. In 2011, the American people found it easier to stomach a third theater of war in Libya in times of economic hardship because they didn’t risk great human or financial costs. Drones were a central part of this story.

Without any mechanisms of accountability, the use of drones gives the president too much power to carry the nation to war without considering the consequences. Isn’t that what Obama ran against in 2008? “Future presidents should think through the implications of a military incursion before they launch one,” he said in 2007. By shutting Congress out of the drone equation, Obama is ensuring that doesn’t happen.

How to Talk About the Economy

February 08, 2012:

Conservatism vs Liberalism

Justice Ginsburg and the Need to Oppose Radical Judicial Nominees:

At the time of her nomination to the Supreme Court, Ginsburg had a stellar resume and excellent ratings from the American Bar Association. With that criteria in mind, every Republican except for three; Don Nickles, Bob Smith, and Jesse Helms, voted to confirm Ginsburg, a woman who has nothing but contempt for the very document that she is charged with upholding.

Make no mistake about it; someone who believes that our constitution is outdated; someone who regards our constitution as a living and breathing document; someone who views the constitution of a violent third world country with higher reverence than the U.S. Constitution is indeed disqualified from serving on any court

No matter what happens in November, Obama will have another year to pack the courts. At present, there are 86 vacancies on district and appellate courts, 39 of which already have pending nominees before the Senate. We must work harder to ensure that not a single person with contempt for our Constitution is confirmed by the Senate. Republicans must understand that disrespect for the Constitution is an automatic disqualification for a judicial nominee.



As he was writing The BFG in the early-1980s, author Roald Dahl set about creating a new vocabulary for the story's enormous protagonist — a 238-word language that he ultimately named, "Gobblefunk." Words that made the cut included, "humplecrimp," "swallomp," "crumpscoddle," and, most memorably, "snozzcumber." A selection of others can be seen here.

Ladies and Gents, the Future:

Meet Li-Fi, the LED-based alternative to household Wi-Fi (Wired UK): Haas, 43, holds the chair of mobile communications at Edinburgh University's Institute for Digital Communications. His demo is scientifically groundbreaking: it proves that large amounts of data, in multiple parallel streams, can be transferred using various forms of light (infrared, ultraviolet and visible). The technology, he says, has huge commercial potential. His device can be used with regular lighting and electronics -- albeit reconfigured -- and could transform the way we access everything from video to games, accelerating the speed of internet access by many hundreds of megabits. It could let us download movies from the lamps in our homes, read maps from streetlights and listen to music from illuminated billboards in the street.