30 June, 2012

The Volokh Conspiracy � More Hints that Roberts Switched his Vote

The Volokh Conspiracy � More Hints that Roberts Switched his Vote:
Reader Stuart Buck provides more detail as to why the dissent reads like a majority opinion (see also Deborah Pearlstein at Balkanization):

1. The dissent has a whole section on severability that is completely beside the point except on the assumption that the mandate had been struck down, and now “We” have to decide whether and what to preserve of the rest of the act now that the mandate is gone.

2. Notice also that his response to Roberts is tacked on at the end, rather than worked into the body of whatever he was writing (see page 64 of his dissent). For example, one would have expected Scalia to directly take on Roberts’ application of the Anti-Injunction Act, but his brief section on that act only mentions what “the Government” argues (see pages 26-28).

3. On top of that, Scalia’s sections on the Commerce Clause and the Medicaid Expansion are just as long or longer than what Roberts writes (Scalia wrote 16 pages on the Commerce Clause and 21 pages on the Medicaid Expansion, compared to Roberts’ 16 pages and 14 pages respectively). Yet Scalia never writes in the vein of saying, “I agree with the Chief Justice’s opinion, but write to add a crucial discussion of some complexity.” His analysis agrees with Roberts, and makes essentially the same points in “We” language. There’s no reason for Scalia to do this at such length, unless his opinion is what came first.

The Strongest Woman In America Lives In Poverty

The Strongest Woman In America Lives In Poverty:
Weightlifter Sarah Robles is an incredible athlete, but outside the world of squats and snatches, barely anyone knows her name. And even though she's the U.S.’s best chance at an Olympic medal, she'll never get the fame or fortune that come so easily to her fellow athletes — in part because, at 5 feet, 10.5 inches and 275 pounds, she doesn't fit the ideal of thin, toned athletic beauty.

“You can get that sponsorship if you’re a super-built guy or a girl who looks good in a bikini. But not if you’re a girl who’s built like a guy,” she says. The 23-year-old from California became the highest ranked weightlifter in the country last year after placing 11th at the world championships, beating out every male and female American on the roster. On her best day, she can lift more than 568 pounds — that’s roughly five IKEA couches, 65 gallons of milk, or one large adult male lion.

But that doesn't mean much when it comes to signing the endorsement deals that could pay the bills. Track star Lolo Jones, 29, soccer player Alex Morgan, 22, and swimmer Natalie Coughlin, 29, are natural television stars with camera-friendly good looks and slim, muscular figures. But women weightlifters aren't go-tos when Sports Illustrated is looking for athletes to model body paint in the swimsuit issue. They don’t collaborate with Cole Haan on accessories lines and sit next to Anna Wintour at Fashion Week, like tennis beauty Maria Sharapova. And male weightlifters often get their sponsorships from supplements or diet pills, because their buff, ripped bodies align with male beauty ideals. Men on diet pills want to look like weightlifters — most women would rather not.

Video of New Yorkers tripping on subway step - Boing Boing

Video of New Yorkers tripping on subway step - Boing Boing: At Brooklyn's 36th Street subway stop, one of the steps is slightly higher than the others. This causes many many people to trip on their way up the stairs. Filmmaker Dean Peterson set up his camera to capture the stumbles.

The Surprising Truths About Income Inequality in America: Big Issues: GQ

The Surprising Truths About Income Inequality in America: Big Issues: GQ: "How much tax did you pay last year?" I ask.

"Eleven percent," says Nick.

"Do you feel awful about that?" I ask.

"Yes," says Nick.

There's something unusual about Nick. For a multimillionaire, he doesn't have your average multimillionaire view. In fact, he's come to believe that the system he benefits so richly from is built on nonsense—specifically, the idea that "the markets are perfectly efflcient and allocate benefits and burdens perfectly efflciently, based on talent and merit. So by that definition, the rich deserve to be rich and the poor deserve to be poor. We believe this because we have an almost insanely powerful need to self-justify."

And the biggest nonsense of all, he says, "is the idea that because the rich are the smartest, and because we're the job creators, the richer we get, the better it is for everyone. So taxes on the rich should be very, very low because we're essentially the center of the economic universe, the font of productivity." Nick pauses. "If there were a shred of truth to the claim that the rich are our nation's job creators, then given how rich the rich have gotten, America should be drowning in jobs!"

Alex White, Professional Snitch - NYTimes.com

Alex White, Professional Snitch - NYTimes.com: When White got the call from J. R. Smith the night of Kathryn Johnston’s murder, asking him to cover for the police, he knew he had to play along. But he also knew he was vulnerable: the police would spin the events whatever way helped them the most. To protect himself, he started taking notes. He wrote down the time Smith called and the number he called from. One of White’s slogans was “I may play dumb, but I ain’t never been a fool.”

His phone began to ring in earnest: Junnier, it turned out, was in the hospital, slightly wounded in the face and leg. (Not by Kathryn Johnston, it would eventually be revealed, but by bullets fired by other police officers.) Friends called, jubilant — they had seen the notorious cop’s picture on TV and were delighted by his misfortune; Junnier was widely hated by drug dealers. White was not sad about that side of it — Junnier had it coming. But White could see (though not admit to his friends, who were unaware of his sideline) that, if his handlers got taken down, this could be bad for him financially. And it would be bad for him in every way if they dragged him down with them.

29 June, 2012


…My heart’s in Accra � Ghanaian Ambitions: Patrick Awuah left Ghana decades ago, first to attend Swarthmore College, and then to go on to a successful career at Microsoft. About a decade ago, he returned home, determined to build a world-class liberal arts college in Ghana, so that his children would have the opportunity to get an education at home that prepared them for life anywhere in the world.

I visited Patrick for the first time about a decade ago, when his university was a small office in the Labone neighborhood of Accra and some ambitious architectural drawings. I visited a few years later and was impressed to find a small, compact college in a leafy Accra suburb, with several dozen students training on a mix of liberal arts and IT skills. The library was an overgrown shelf of books and the computer lab looked much like any of the cybercafes that dot the city. Still, it was deeply impressive to me that he’d navigated the academic bureaucracy of Ghana and been able to start an accredited private university.....

People Who Say They're Moving To Canada Because Of ObamaCare

People Who Say They're Moving To Canada Because Of ObamaCare

Perry Anderson � Gandhi Centre Stage � LRB 5 July 2012

Perry Anderson � Gandhi Centre Stage � LRB 5 July 2012: ‘Astonishing thought: that any culture or civilisation should have this continuity for five or six thousand years or more; and not in a static or unchanging sense, for India was changing and progressing all the time,’ marvelled the country’s future ruler a few years before coming to power. There was ‘something unique’ about the antiquity of the subcontinent and its ‘tremendous impress of oneness’, making its inhabitants ‘throughout these ages distinctively Indian, with the same national heritage and the same set of moral and mental qualities’. Indeed, a ‘dream of unity has occupied the mind of India since the dawn of civilisation’.

The death of idealism

Deadwood - By Rajiv Chandrasekaran | Foreign Policy: Within a day, she saw she'd been dreaming. She divided most of the people she met in the highly fortified embassy and USAID compound into three camps: those who had come to Afghanistan because they wanted to make a lot of money -- with hazard pay and bonuses, some staffers earned as much as $300,000 a year; those who were getting their tickets punched for a promotion or a posting to a comfortable embassy in Western Europe; and those who were seeking to escape a divorce, a foreclosed home, or some other personal calamity. "It's rare that you ever hear someone say they're here because they want to help the Afghans," she told me after she had been there for a few months.

The Sharp, Sudden Decline of America's Middle Class, from Rolling Stone

The Sharp, Sudden Decline of America's Middle Class | Culture News | Rolling Stone: The staff at the plant nursery treat her like an entry-level salesperson. Not so long ago, they might have been her employees. "You learn to let go of the concept of identity, of what 'I' means," she says. "That's a concept people really have trouble with. But it's been important for me. I've let go of my ego – or I'm trying to let go: I could be the dishwasher, I could be the janitor. I'm trying to re-form, trying to allow the job to become me. And I keep referring back to the fact that a lot of people would not allow it. They would hold on to their identity – hard."

The relevance of boring questions of governance

Damian McBride, Five Years On....The day GB became PM: For me, what we lost that day was something more fundamental, as apparent during the first months of the ‘Brown Bounce’ as in the doldrums that followed. We lost the Treasury. By which I mean that, in the Treasury, Gordon had officials in every key position who knew how he worked and what he wanted; who knew when to refer issues to him and when to take decisions themselves. These were relationships built up over 10 years of long days and late nights working on Budgets, Spending Reviews, Mansion House speeches and Euro papers. Gordon knew them, and trusted them.


As the Paris Ritz Shutters, Remembering Its Mysteries, Misbehaviors, and Unhurried Luxuries | Society | Vanity Fair: From the opening night, in 1898, the Ritz was an instantaneous success, luring royalty, heads of state, industrial giants, society leaders. “They came!,” Madame Ritz exalted. “Calouste Gulbenkian, Marcel Proust, the Comtesse de Pourtal�s, Grand Duke Michael with Comtesse Torby, with whom he lived in exile from the Russian court.”

One of the few to be negative about the place was Oscar Wilde, who found the elevators too fast and all the electrification unnecessary. “A harsh and ugly light, enough to ruin your eyes, and not a candle or lamp for bedside reading. And who wants an immovable washing basin in one’s room? I do not. Hide the thing. I prefer to ring for water when I need it.”


Giles Milton: LONE WOLF: THE US MARINE WHO CAPTURED 1,000 JAPANESE SOLDIERS: The American marines had crawled through the tropical undergrowth in order to gather intelligence on the Japanese positions.
Gabaldon: 'Surrender or I'll kill you!'
But as they reached the cliff-tops on Saipan Island, they found themselves blinking in disbelief.
A lone US soldier, Guy Gabaldon, was sitting on the ground surrounded by hundreds of Japanese troops. He had not been taken captive. Rather, he had talked them all into surrendering. Now, he was preparing to lead them to safety.

27 June, 2012

The truth about the Fast and Furious scandal - Fortune Features

The truth about the Fast and Furious scandal - Fortune Features: Quite simply, there's a fundamental misconception at the heart of the Fast and Furious scandal. Nobody disputes that suspected straw purchasers under surveillance by the ATF repeatedly bought guns that eventually fell into criminal hands. Issa and others charge that the ATF intentionally allowed guns to walk as an operational tactic. But five law-enforcement agents directly involved in Fast and Furious tell Fortune that the ATF had no such tactic. They insist they never purposefully allowed guns to be illegally trafficked. Just the opposite: They say they seized weapons whenever they could but were hamstrung by prosecutors and weak laws, which stymied them at every turn.

Indeed, a six-month Fortune investigation reveals that the public case alleging that Voth and his colleagues walked guns is replete with distortions, errors, partial truths, and even some outright lies. Fortune reviewed more than 2,000 pages of confidential ATF documents and interviewed 39 people, including seven law-enforcement agents with direct knowledge of the case. Several, including Voth, are speaking out for the first time.

26 June, 2012

One One-Hundredth of a Second Faster: Building Better Olympic Athletes | Playbook | Wired.com

One One-Hundredth of a Second Faster: Building Better Olympic Athletes | Playbook | Wired.com: For elite athletes, traditional training is no longer enough. To go from great to the best in the world, it’s now essential to optimize every bit of performance, even if the gain is just a hundredth of a second. So in addition to relying on their coaches and teammates, they work with biomechanists, physiologists, psychologists, nutritionists, strength coaches, recovery experts, and statistical analysts. Rather than just eating their Wheaties like Bruce Jenner, they guzzle beet juice before a workout, because their team of nutritionists has determined that the nitrates it contains can improve aerobic exercise performance by as much as 2 percent. They don’t just rub Bengay on tired muscles, they follow elaborate hydrotherapy regimens to limit muscle damage and reduce soreness by 16 percent. And instead of pounding out hour after hour of training, they sometimes do a targeted workout of insanely high intensity, approved by their physiologists, which can give them better results in as little as four minutes.

Why Are American Kids So Spoiled? : The New Yorker

Why Are American Kids So Spoiled? : The New Yorker: The notion that we may be raising a generation of kids who can’t, or at least won’t, tie their own shoes has given rise to a new genre of parenting books. Their titles tend to be either dolorous (“The Price of Privilege”) or downright hostile (“The Narcissism Epidemic,” “Mean Moms Rule,” “A Nation of Wimps”). The books are less how-to guides than how-not-to’s: how not to give in to your toddler, how not to intervene whenever your teen-ager looks bored, how not to spend two hundred thousand dollars on tuition only to find your twenty-something graduate back at home, drinking all your beer.

Helen Keller on the blind

It is because we know that these ambitions and capabilities can be fulfilled that we are working to improve the condition of the adult blind. You cannot bring back the light of the vacant eyes; but you can give a helping hand to the sightless along their dark pilgrimage. You can teach them new skill. For work they once did with the aid of their eyes you can substitute work that they can do with their hands. They ask only opportunity, and opportunity is a torch in the darkness. They crave no charity, no pension, but the satisfaction that comes from lucrative toil, and this satisfaction is the right of every human being.

25 June, 2012

Greek-German Tensions Spill Into Euro 2012 - NYTimes.com

Greek-German Tensions Spill Into Euro 2012 - NYTimes.com: “Without Angie, you wouldn’t be here,” bellowed the German fans, referring to the multibillion-dollar bailouts Greece has received from European partners, first and foremost Germany.

“We’ll never pay you back,” countered the Greeks. “We’ll never pay you back.”

Sorkinisms | The High Definite

Sorkinisms | The High Definite: A supercut of recycled dialogue in the Aaron Sorkin universe.

The Russians Did It: Kremlin Documents Reveal the Soviet Union Is to Blame for Today’s Middle East Mess – Tablet Magazine

The Russians Did It: Kremlin Documents Reveal the Soviet Union Is to Blame for Today’s Middle East Mess – Tablet Magazine: The dominant narrative of modern Middle East history emphasizes the depredations visited upon the region by European colonization and accepts as a truism that the former colonial powers prioritized the protection of their material interests—in oil, above all—above the dignity and self-determination of the region’s inhabitants. Thus did botched decolonization result in endless instability. The most intractable of the regional conflicts to which this gave rise, that between the Arabs and Israelis, is attributed in this narrative to Israel’s unwillingness to accede to Palestinian national aspirations. Thus did the region become a breeding ground for radicalism, intensified by Cold War rivalry between the superpowers, who replaced the European colonizers as the region’s meddling overlords. Then came Mikhail Gorbachev—a Westernizing reformer. At last, the Cold War was over. A new world order was at hand.

What if this conventional wisdom is nonsense? Russian exile Pavel Stroilov argues just this in his forthcoming book, Behind the Desert Storm. “Not a word of it is true,” he writes. “It was the Soviet Empire—not the British Empire—that was responsible for the instability in the Middle East.”

The Hubris and Despair of War Journalism by Susie Linfield - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics

The Hubris and Despair of War Journalism by Susie Linfield - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics: The civilians who had war brought to them: could there be a better encapsulation of the twentieth century’s trajectory of armed conflicts? “That statement shows a real clarity on Gellhorn’s part,” says Jon Lee Anderson, a reporter for The New Yorker who has covered wars in Central America, Iraq, and Syria. Statistics confirm Gellhorn’s insight: the Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm, for instance, has estimated that in World War I, soldiers constituted 95 percent of casualties; in contemporary conflicts, most of which are intra-national, unarmed civilians account for 80 to 90 percent of casualties. In many of today’s wars, civilians are the deliberate—indeed, the primary—targets: think, for instance, of the Lord’s Resistance Army, the Ugandan group that enslaves children;

Mendacious Mitt: Romney's bid to become liar-in-chief | Michael Cohen | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

Mendacious Mitt: Romney's bid to become liar-in-chief | Michael Cohen | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk: Pointing out that Romney is consistently not telling the truth thus risks simply falling into the category of the usual "he-said, she-said" of American politics. For cynical reporters, the behavior is inevitably seen to be the way the political game is now played. Rather than being viewed and ultimately exposed as examples of a pervasive pattern of falsehoods, Romney's statements embed themselves in the normalized political narrative – along with aggrieved Democrats complaining that Romney isn't telling the truth. Meanwhile, the lie sticks in the minds of voters.

A Congressional Exit Interview - Businessweek

A Congressional Exit Interview - Businessweek: Look, last year I had a senior colleague say, “Your problem, Conrad, is you are too solutions-oriented. You have never understood that this is political theater.” I thought, Wow, it is time for me to leave. It really got started in ’94, and it’s gotten more corrosive. Speaker Gingrich had a role here because he saw the only way to be successful in taking over the House was to really bring it down.

23 June, 2012

Getting Away with It by Paul Krugman and Robin Wells | The New York Review of Books

Getting Away with It by Paul Krugman and Robin Wells | The New York Review of Books: How did Geithner manage to dominate policy so completely? Partly it was his skill at inside politics; even when he couldn’t win an argument outright he would win by other means. Often he would simply wait people out; this was his tactic with Rahm Emanuel, knowing that Emanuel’s manic attention would eventually turn elsewhere. And crucially, Geithner was enabled by Obama’s unwillingness to break stalemates between his aides. So as public rage mounted over the bank bailout, David Axelrod, Robert Gibbs, and Rahm Emanuel turned to Geithner and pleaded with him to make bank shareholders pay some price for the government rescue of the banking sector. Geithner simply refused to yield, making the specious argument that banks had already paid a price by being forced to raise capital from the market. As Scheiber accurately points out, this ignored the fact that by backstopping the banks during their self-inflicted implosion, the US government effectively gave them an insurance policy worth billions of dollars. In the end, Geithner won.

Microsoft researcher asks 'Why do Nigerian scammers say they are from Nigeria?' | The Verge

Microsoft researcher asks 'Why do Nigerian scammers say they are from Nigeria?' | The Verge: 16

Microsoft researcher Cormac Herley seeks to answer one of the basic questions of internet life in his paper, Why do Nigerian scammers say they are from Nigeria? Getting an email from a deposed Nigerian prince sends off warning bells to just about everyone, so why do scammers continue to use such outlandish stories from a location infamous for advance fee fraud? Herley says that scammers don't want anyone but the most gullible — and therefore the most likely to follow through — to respond to the emails because it costs scammers time, money, and effort to continue past the first email. The point is to weed out those who will back out with the initial email, to focus their effort on those more likely to fall for the entire scheme. Now, if you'll excuse us, we'll be off responding to each and every prince just looking for a place to send his millions.

Idiot Store Manager

Customer: Apple Store denied me iPad for speaking Farsi | www.wsbtv.com: ALPHARETTA, Ga. —

An Alpharetta woman and one of her friends say the Apple Store turned them away after they heard them speaking Farsi.

One was trying to buy an iPad, the other an iPhone. When they were heard speaking the foreign language, they said the sales representative refused to sell them anything.

Apple says it's simply following U.S. policy.

Letter to Emily White at NPR All Songs Considered. | The Trichordist

Letter to Emily White at NPR All Songs Considered. | The Trichordist: The fundamental shift in principals and morality is about who gets to control and exploit the work of an artist. The accepted norm for hudreds of years of western civilization is the artist exclusively has the right to exploit and control his/her work for a period of time. (Since the works that are are almost invariably the subject of these discussions are popular culture of one type or another, the duration of the copyright term is pretty much irrelevant for an ethical discussion.) By allowing the artist to treat his/her work as actual property, the artist can decide how to monetize his or her work. This system has worked very well for fans and artists. Now we are being asked to undo this not because we think this is a bad or unfair way to compensate artists but simply because it is technologically possible for corporations or individuals to exploit artists work without their permission on a massive scale and globally. We are being asked to continue to let these companies violate the law without being punished or prosecuted. We are being asked to change our morality and principals to match what I think are immoral and unethical business models.

Head of State - By Susan B. Glasser | Foreign Policy

Head of State - By Susan B. Glasser | Foreign Policy: Clinton, as her longtime aide Andrew Shapiro, now the assistant secretary for political-military affairs, put it, will be an object of presidential curiosity "literally until the day that somebody clinches enough delegates to get the nomination."

But there's a paradox about this latest Hillary hoopla: Few Americans have any idea what Clinton has actually been up to as secretary of state, or even what a secretary of state is supposed to do in this day and age. In the rarefied circles of the Washington foreign-policy establishment, where they've been paying closer attention, Clinton gets big points for style and for taking her brand of "people to people" diplomacy international at a time when America desperately needed just her kind of star power to revive an image tarnished by a near decade of George W. Bush's cowboy unilateralism.

‘In the Current System, I’d Be Corrupt Too’: An Interview with Bao Tong by Ian Johnson | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books

‘In the Current System, I’d Be Corrupt Too’: An Interview with Bao Tong by Ian Johnson | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books: Is this good? Some people say the lack of a single strong leader explains why there have been no major economic reforms in the past decade.

Overall it’s a good thing. It’s terrible when just one person decides. You can talk about Deng’s reforms, but what about Mao? He could decide anything but he chose the Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward. And Deng, well there was June 4 [the night of the 1989 Beijing massacre].

Now the leaders are more deadlocked. If they can’t decide, nothing happens. In America, if you’re corrupt you have to resign. Look at Nixon. He had Watergate and had to resign. In China does that happen? No. Why? Because everyone is in one boat. If that boat turns over, everyone ends up in the water. When I say “everyone” of course I mean the people in power. So in China everyone helps each other out. If you are in trouble, I’ll help you out and if I’m in trouble you help me out. So only in an extreme case like [recently deposed Politburo member] Bo Xilai can someone be pushed out.

Right now it’s nine guys helping each other out [the nine members of the Politburo’s Standing Committee]. That’s the political system. No one wants to rock the boat.

22 June, 2012

How My View on Gay Marriage Changed - NYTimes.com

How My View on Gay Marriage Changed - NYTimes.com: No same-sex couple, married or not, can ever under any circumstances combine biological, social and legal parenthood into one bond. For this and other reasons, gay marriage has become a significant contributor to marriage’s continuing deinstitutionalization, by which I mean marriage’s steady transformation in both law and custom from a structured institution with clear public purposes to the state’s licensing of private relationships that are privately defined.

I have written these things in my book and said them in my testimony, and I believe them today. I am not recanting any of it.

But there are more good things under heaven than these beliefs. For me, the most important is the equal dignity of homosexual love. I don’t believe that opposite-sex and same-sex relationships are the same, but I do believe, with growing numbers of Americans, that the time for denigrating or stigmatizing same-sex relationships is over. Whatever one’s definition of marriage, legally recognizing gay and lesbian couples and their children is a victory for basic fairness.

21 June, 2012

BLDGBLOG: Various forms of lithic disguise

BLDGBLOG: Various forms of lithic disguise: To make a long story short, McPhee describes two things: how Switzerland requires military service from every able-bodied male Swiss citizen—a model later emulated and expanded by Israel—and how the Swiss military has, in effect, wired the entire country to blow in the event of foreign invasion. To keep enemy armies out, bridges will be dynamited and, whenever possible, deliberately collapsed onto other roads and bridges below; hills have been weaponized to be activated as valley-sweeping artificial landslides; mountain tunnels will be sealed from within to act as nuclear-proof air raid shelters; and much more.

: S H A R K - A C C I D E N T S :

: S H A R K - A C C I D E N T S :: Alone in New York people are bitten 10 times more each year by other people than worldwide by sharks.

Guilty as charged

Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom” Review : The New Yorker: Sorkin is supposed to be on a different level from his peers: longer words, worldlier topics. And many viewers clearly buy into this idea: years after Sorkin’s terrible, fascinating “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” was cancelled, I still occasionally run into someone who insists that Americans were just too stupid to get it.

As Dan Rather might put it, that dog won’t hunt. Sorkin’s shows are the type that people who never watch TV are always claiming are better than anything else on TV. The shows’ air of defiant intellectual superiority is rarely backed up by what’s inside—all those Wagnerian rants, fingers poked in chests, palms slammed on desks, and so on.

The only good abortion is my abortion - Boing Boing

The only good abortion is my abortion - Boing Boing:

As I write this, it is 1:17 am on Wednesday, June 20th, 2012.
I am lying awake in bed, trying to decide whether or not to have an abortion.
Of course, we don’t call it an abortion. We call it “a procedure” or a D&C. See, my potential abortion is one of the good abortions. I’m 31 years old. I’m married. These days, I’m pretty well off. I would very much like to stay pregnant right now. In fact, I have just spent the last year—following an earlier miscarriage—trying rather desperately to get pregnant.
Unfortunately, the doctors tell me that what I am now pregnant with is not going to survive. Last week, I had an ultrasound, I was almost 6 weeks along and looked okay. The only thing was that the heartbeat was slow. It wasn’t a huge deal. Heartbeats start slow, usually around the 6th week, and then they speed up. But my doctor asked me to come back in this week for a follow up, just to be sure. That was Tuesday, yesterday. Still my today. The heart hasn’t sped up. The fetus hasn’t grown. The egg yolk is now bigger than the fetus, which usually indicates a chromosomal abnormality. Basically, this fetus is going to die. I am going to have a miscarriage. It’s just a matter of when.
Because of these facts—all these facts—I get special privileges, compared to other women seeking abortion in the state of Minnesota.

Ashley's Tiny Crumbs ~ setting some things straight: In Which I Feel Compelled to Start a Blog Because of a Club and aUnicorn...

Ashley's Tiny Crumbs ~ setting some things straight: In Which I Feel Compelled to Start a Blog Because of a Club and aUnicorn...: I was in a mixed-orientation marriage- a marriage between someone who is gay and someone who is heterosexual. I would venture a guess, an educated one at that, that spouses of mixed-orientation marriages understand homosexuality better than any other 'category' of people, besides homosexuals themselves. Why do I say this? Because the marriage relationship is meant to be a sexual one.

Now, let me give you a few seconds to absorb that.

Why do I need to share my experience with you?

Because it’s okay. It’s okay to talk about homosexuality and how it affects us.

Because there are homosexuals, Mormon or not, who don't know that it's okay. It's okay to be gay. It’s okay that you are attracted to people of the same gender that you are. You didn’t ask for this. And it’s okay.

17 June, 2012

The Weed: Bambi Nuggets

The Weed: Bambi Nuggets: Anna: Why did the hunters kill Bambi's Mommy?

Me: Well, hunters kill for sport. And they also kill animals to eat them.

Anna: The hunters ate Bambi's Mom?

Me: Yes, sweetie. They did.

(At this point I am awaiting some sort of cry-fest while Anna, who literally weeps every time she hears Brahms's Lullaby because she finds it so poignant, mourns the loss of Bambi's mom. Instead she sits there pondering for a few moments with a serious look on her face. And that's when things got really disturbing)

Anna: I want to go hunting.

Me: You do?

Anna: Daddy, can I go hunting?

Me: (trying to appear supportive of all life decisions) Of course you can, sweetie.

14 June, 2012

What You Really Don't Know About Recovery | The Fix

What You Really Don't Know About Recovery | The Fix: Indeed, the data on recovery reveal that many people don’t actually quit when their problem is at its worst because intense stress itself is a strong predictor of ongoing addiction and relapse. Hope and a sense of possibility—in other words, moments of renewal rather than fear—bring change at least as often, and possibly more frequently.

But sadly, the myth that by making the lives of addicts tougher we can push them to “hit bottom” pervades much of our treatment and drug policy. Since the assumption that addicts need tough love is so widespread in popular culture that we never examine its validity, we persist in treating addicts harshly—from cutting them out of our lives to locking them up in prison—while justifying this harshness as “help.”

A Good Word for Sally Quinn - The Daily Beast

A Good Word for Sally Quinn - The Daily Beast: The woman is perceiving something true. Over half a human lifetime, Washington has shifted from a city whose status hierarchy was dominated by official rank to one whose status hierarchy is determined almost entirely by money. A US senator is a smaller deal in the Washington of 2012 than his or her predecessor of 1972; a visiting billionaire a much bigger deal. Not that the senator has sunk to zero; not that the billionaire would not have been important in 1972; but the ratios have changed—and changed really quite dramatically. Sally Quinn may not be the most sympathetic observer of the trend, but she is surely one of the most authoritative. You don't have to like her piece to hear her message.

War Study: Troops Had Bad Intel, Worse Spin | Danger Room | Wired.com

War Study: Troops Had Bad Intel, Worse Spin | Danger Room | Wired.com: Ten years of war have given the U.S. military more than its share of frustrations. According to an internal Pentagon study, two of them were as fundamental as they were related: Troops had terrible intelligence about Iraq and Afghanistan, and they told their own stories just as badly.

Those are some preliminary conclusions from an ongoing Pentagon study into the lessons of a decade of combat, authorized by Gen. Martin Dempsey, the multi-tour Iraq veteran and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The study doesn’t single out any sensor or spy platform for criticism. Instead, it finds that U.S. troops didn’t understand the basic realities of society, culture and power structures in Iraq and Afghanistan, and couldn’t explain what they were doing to skeptical populations.

Sally Quinn announces the end of power in Washington - The Washington Post

Sally Quinn announces the end of power in Washington - The Washington Post:
The decline of power has been happening for a while. In 1987, I wrote a piece for this magazine called “The Party’s Over.” In it, I chronicled the demise of the Washington hostess. That was 25 years ago, and people were complaining even then that Washington would never be the same.
But power still trumped money in those days. Today, money trumps power. If Katharine Graham, the late publisher of The Washington Post, were having a party today, and politicians or statesmen received a conflicting invitation to a party put together by Sheldon Adelson (Gingrich’s super PAC guy), where do you think people would go? Adelson. No question. Now, at a party, if you find people staring over your shoulder to see who’s more important in the room, they’re usually looking at someone rich, rather than someone powerful. (Or perhaps they’re staring at themselves in a mirror, as I once observed.)

13 June, 2012

Times Have Changed, It's Okay to Lie | Mother Jones

Times Have Changed, It's Okay to Lie | Mother Jones: Politicians have increasingly discovered over the past couple of decades that even on a national stage you can lie pretty blatantly and pay no price since the mainstream media, trapped in its culture of objectivity, won't really call you on it, limiting themselves to fact checking pieces like Kessler's buried on an inside page. And because virtually nobody except political junkies ever sees this stuff, it doesn't hurt their campaigns at all.

Hussman Funds - Weekly Market Comment: The Heart of the Matter - June 11, 2012

Hussman Funds - Weekly Market Comment: The Heart of the Matter - June 11, 2012: Lost in this debate is any recognition of the problem that lies at the heart of the matter: a warped financial system, both in the U.S. and globally, that directs scarce capital to speculative and unproductive uses, and refuses to restructure debt once that debt has gone bad.

Specifically, over the past 15 years, the global financial system - encouraged by misguided policy and short-sighted monetary interventions - has lost its function of directing scarce capital toward projects that enhance the world's standard of living. Instead, the financial system has been transformed into a self-serving, grotesque casino that misallocates scarce savings, begs for and encourages speculative bubbles, refuses to restructure bad debt, and demands that the most reckless stewards of capital should be rewarded through bailouts that transfer bad debt from private balance sheets to the public balance sheet.

Honest Ponzi Schemes actually make money

Is Global Finance a Ponzi Scheme? Ask a Russian Expert - Bloomberg: What's the difference between today's global finance system and a Ponzi scheme? This is the question that a 56-year-old veteran Russian financial scammer has been asking his victims.

Leaking War | The Nation

Leaking War | The Nation: James Spione, an Academy Award–nominated director who is currently working on a documentary about whistleblowers in the age of Obama, summed things up to me recently this way: “Beneath the partisan grandstanding, I think what is most troubling about this situation is the sense that the law is being selectively applied. On the one hand, we have the Justice Department twisting the Espionage Act into knots in an attempt to crack down on leaks from “little guys” like Thomas Drake and John Kiriakou, while at the same time an extraordinarily detailed window into covert drone policy magically appears in the Times.

“Notwithstanding Mr. McCain’s outrage, I don’t believe this is about security at all. It is the unfair singling out of whistleblowers by a secrecy regime that is more than anything just another weapon in the state’s arsenal to bludgeon its enemies while vaunting its supposed successes—if you can call blowing up unsuspecting people, their families, and friends with a remote control airplane ‘success.’ ”

12 June, 2012

What Happens When You Play the Same Game of 'Civilization II' for 10 Years? - Entertainment - The Atlantic Wire

What Happens When You Play the Same Game of 'Civilization II' for 10 Years? - Entertainment - The Atlantic Wire: What Happens When You Play the Same Game of 'Civilization II' for 10 Years?

How It Feels To Watch Mad Men Total Your Car Company

How It Feels To Watch Mad Men Total Your Car Company: The PR and Marketing teams at Jaguar have had the equally exciting (the cars are amazingly sexy) and horrifying (they found gum where?) experience of watching their car company portrayed on AMC's Mad Men.

Jaguar North America's David Pryor, VP of Marketing, and Stuar Schorr, VP of Communications Jaguar North America, explain in detail — exclusively for Jalopnik — what that thrilling ride's been like this season - especially given last night's shocking episode. (Warning: Spoilers!) — Ed.

Empire of Ice: Big Issues: GQ

Empire of Ice: Big Issues: GQ: How do you build an island to put an oil rig on? You wait until the ocean freezes. You can’t dig water, but you can dig ice. You dig to the bottom and excavate a foundation, about eleven acres in all. You find a source of gravel—in this case, a pit ten miles away—because you need a lot of it. Crews built ice roads and started hauling. They kept hauling, 20,000 truckloads, traveling a total of 400,000 miles, the equivalent of about sixteen trips around the world. They had to hurry. They had to get it all done before the ice roads melted. They dumped gravel, dumped and dumped, sculpted a six-acre rectangle out of it, then got to work on a retaining wall: more gravel—8,000 sacks of it weighing 13,000 pounds each—one on top of the other, bam, bam, bam, a barrier to fight back the summer sea. They had to hurry. They had to connect the island to shore, six miles away. They dug a trench, a crazy-long trench, in which a subsea flow line would carry oil. It cost $500 million to build this island, not to mention the brawn of constantly revolving crews of as many as 600 people working in temperatures cold enough to kill.

I have listened to engineers explain all this, and overall it has been hard not to look at them and think: My Lord, we need oil.

The rebirth of tragedy

The rebirth of tragedy: The television show The Wire resurrects the classical Greek vision: some conflicts are beyond resolution

The Weed: Club Unicorn: In which I come out of the closet on our ten year anniversary

The Weed: Club Unicorn: In which I come out of the closet on our ten year anniversary: This is the post where I tell you that I, Josh Weed, am homosexual.


Second, I need to clarify that this post is written from the standpoint of a devout, believing Mormon and addresses topics seen within the Mormon and broader Christian community. Please forgive us if our focus feels unfamiliar, or feels totally incongruent with the rest of the posts on this blog.

I guess the premise of this post is to share that not only am I homosexual, but I’m also a devout and believing Mormon. And that I’m very happily married to a woman, and have been for ten years now.
And for the first time, we’re talking about it publicly.

Taxi Medallions: How New York’s terrible taxi system makes fares higher and drivers poorer. - Slate Magazine

Taxi Medallions: How New York’s terrible taxi system makes fares higher and drivers poorer. - Slate Magazine: When New York’s Taxi and Limousine Commission held a public hearing last week to consider whether to raise taxi fares by 20 percent, cabdrivers pled poverty and passengers argued that fares are too high. Paradoxically, both groups were right.

This lose-lose scenario is only possible under the taxi medallion system, a regulatory scheme in which the right to operate a taxi is thoroughly divorced from the actual work of driving one. It’s a classic example of the perils of financialization, the process through which economic potential is turned into a liquid and leveraged asset. By converting a portion of cabbies’ future revenue into a freely tradable asset, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and a host of other cities have created a powerful investor class, medallion owners and financiers, whose interests routinely compete with those of drivers and passengers.


Putin Between Assad and Mubarak | Opinion | The Moscow Times: Putin identifies with Assad, former Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi and former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. He is firmly convinced that democracy, the rule of law and human rights are all little more than contrivances that allow the West to control weaker nations. This is the basic tenet behind 19th-century realpolitik, which Putin fully subscribes to. He believes that the West's foreign policy is driven by a desire to establish de facto colonies under the flowery pretext of spreading democracy and protecting human rights.

This also explains why Putin believes that the street protests in Moscow are a creation of hostile Western intelligence agencies and that the protests in Syria, Libya and Egypt were engineered by subversive forces funded by the West.

The UN's Fossilized Security Council | World Policy Institute

The UN's Fossilized Security Council | World Policy Institute: The Security Council should expand its permanent membership to be more inclusive and reflective of today’s realities. But any plan that discards the veto rights of its P5 will not be taken seriously. By expanding the Council’s so-called P5 to ten members and requiring two vetoes instead of one, the plan preserves the body’s balance of power without watering down its effectiveness. It also enhances the institution’s legitimacy without losing the veto. A more representative Security Council will mean a safer world for all UN members.

Bruce Bartlett: The Fiscal Legacy of George W. Bush - NYTimes.com

Bruce Bartlett: The Fiscal Legacy of George W. Bush - NYTimes.com: In January 2001, the office projected that the federal government would run a total budget surplus of $3.5 trillion through 2008 if policy was unchanged and the economy continued according to forecast. In fact, there was a deficit of $5.5 trillion.

The projected surplus was primarily the result of two factors. First was a big tax increase in 1993 that every Republican in Congress voted against, saying that it would tank the economy. This belief was wrong. The economy boomed in 1994, growing 4.1 percent that year and strongly throughout the Clinton administration.

The second major contributor to budget surpluses that emerged in 1998 was tough budget controls that were part of the 1990 and 1993 budget deals. The main one was a requirement that spending could not be increased or taxes cut unless offset by spending cuts or tax increases. This was known as Paygo, for pay as you go.

My Good Divorce: How One Woman Found Happiness Separating - The Daily Beast

My Good Divorce: How One Woman Found Happiness Separating - The Daily Beast: We did everything possible to make the process amicable. Where my parents spent eight years post separation locked in legal battle over assets before finally divorcing and only were in the same room three times in the twenty years after their divorce, Richard and I did six months of mediation with a social worker, psychologist, and lawyer, wrote a parenting plan that covered everything from financial arrangements to our parenting philosophy, did a nesting custody arrangement (where the kids stay in one place and the parents move in and out of the apartment). We each saw a therapist individually, and worked collaboratively in all decisions regarding the children.

07 June, 2012

How Silence Works: Emailed Conversations With Four Trappist Monks | The Awl

How Silence Works: Emailed Conversations With Four Trappist Monks | The Awl: Father B: I worry and pray about world poverty, overpopulation, consumerism, the moral bankruptcy of laissez-faire capitalism, the polarized, simplistic "thinking" in our country; about the public face and stupid blunders of the Catholic Church, about politicians who capitalize on religion; about veterans, war refugees, migrant workers; about people in jail (I used to do intervention work in the Criminal Justice System and in the inner city) and people with no meaning in their lives. I didn't come here to get out of the real world but to get perspective on the real world.

I still believe that intentional community, communal ownership and a community of goods is a viable human endeavor, but I look for no utopia. My faith could not survive without engaging the concretely realities of human experience. My faith is forged in that collision. I find the here-and-now of vital importance, but not ultimate importance. It's important because it is ephemeral; this moment is here and gone. How I respond to it is the vital question. Do I respond to it from my deepest values? that's the important thing for me and the reality of my faith.

The hard truth about political compromise - Boston.com

The hard truth about political compromise - Boston.com: We tend to think of compromise in terms of settling for less: We want two scoops of ice cream, but settle for one. That might describe what happens when you and your spouse compromise over the size of a new television—but it doesn’t work, the authors show, when it comes to politics. Political compromise requires more than settling; it requires actually letting the other side make progress on its agenda, even if you find that agenda repugnant. Even worse, political compromises are often incoherent. A compromise on immigration, for example, might mean combining ideas that seem to work against one another, like amnesty for illegal immigrants and strict rules criminalizing illegal immigration.

All of this makes it tempting to believe that we can do without compromise. But, Gutmann and Thompson warn, the alternative is worse. A vote against compromise might feel like a vote for purity, for boldness—but it’s actually a vote for the status quo. In a democracy where people disagree on fundamental questions, no-compromise politicians create logjams, not progress. So when we vote for hyperpartisan politicians who promise to save us from the pain and frustration of compromise, what we are really doing is voting, repeatedly, for nothing to change.

Maxim Interrogates the Makers and Stars of The Wire | Maxim

Maxim Interrogates the Makers and Stars of The Wire | Maxim:
Ten years ago this month, The Wire premiered on HBO and… almost nobody cared. The Baltimore saga of cops and dealers, junkies and politicians, poverty and hope, polarized critics, was ignored by the Emmys, constantly struggled for ratings and faced cancellation more than once. But it also inspired a future President, created a bona fide American folk hero, and helped launch the current “Golden Age” of television. Now for the first time ever, the creators, writers, cast and crew recall the making of an American classic.

BBC News - Trade secrets of oldest family firm in US

BBC News - Trade secrets of oldest family firm in US: Nearly 400 years ago, in 1623, Avedis Zildjian founded a cymbal-manufacturing company in Istanbul.

Now run by 14th generation family member Craigie Zildjian, along with her sister Debbie, the company has outlasted empires, survived a move overseas to the US, and thrived during the economic turmoil of the Great Depression and two World Wars.

Today, the company controls 65% of the world's cymbal market, and took in more than $50m in revenues last year.

Why Elites Fail | The Nation

Why Elites Fail | The Nation: While smartness is necessary for competent elites, it is far from sufficient: wisdom, judgment, empathy and ethical rigor are all as important, even if those traits are far less valued. Indeed, extreme intelligence without these qualities can be extremely destructive. But empathy does not impress the same way smartness does. Smartness dazzles and mesmerizes. More important, it intimidates. When a group of powerful people get together to make a group decision, conflict and argumentation ensue, and more often than not the decision that emerges is that which is articulated most forcefully by those parties perceived to be the “smartest.”

It is under these conditions that destructive intelligence flourishes. Behind many of the Bush administration’s most disastrous and destructive decisions was one man: David Addington, counsel and then chief of staff to Dick Cheney. Addington was called “Cheney’s Cheney” and “the most powerful man you’ve never heard of.” A former Bush White House lawyer told The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer that the administration’s legal framework for the “war on terror”—from indefinite detention, to torture, to rejection of the 1949 Geneva Accords, to denial of habeas corpus—was “all Addington.”

Student who doubled as high school's custodian now Harvard-bound - CBS News

Student who doubled as high school's custodian now Harvard-bound - CBS News:
(CBS News) LAWNDALE, N.C. - It's high school graduation season, and one young woman who is getting her diploma this evening is our choice for "most likely to succeed" -- because she already has, against some incredible odds.

At 6 this morning, long before her classmates were even awake, 18-year-old Dawn Loggins was already pushing a mop through her high school in Lawndale, N.C. -- where she also works as a custodian.

"I'll work two hours before school. And then I'll go to school. And then I'll come back and work two hours after school," Dawn said. Then homework when she gets home.

06 June, 2012

Perverse incentive - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Perverse incentive - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: #
9th century palaeontologists traveling to China used to pay peasants for each fragment of dinosaur bone (dinosaur fossils) that they produced. They later discovered that the peasants dug up the bones and then smashed them into many pieces, greatly reducing their scientific value, to maximise their payments.[3]

Secretary Gates’s STFU Policy - ABC News

Secretary Gates’s STFU Policy - ABC News: “At the Pentagon, top officers fumed at Brennan’s blow-by-blow description of how the SEALs operated; they believed that the former CIA officer had given away operational secrets never shared outside the tribe. (In fact, it appears no real secrets were divulged.) No one was angrier than Mullen himself, who still fumed about that news conference nearly a year later…

“By Wednesday of that week, Gates went to see Donilon, offering up a barbed assessment of how the White House had handled the aftermath of the raid.

“‘I have a new strategic communications approach to recommend,’ Gates said in his trademark droll tones, according to an account later provided by his colleagues.

“What was that, Donilon asked?

“‘Shut the f@*k up,’ the defense secretary said.”

The “People United” Go Down In Flames | Via Meadia

The “People United” Go Down In Flames | Via Meadia: The left’s problem in Wisconsin wasn’t that the right had too much money. The left’s problem is that the left’s agenda didn’t have enough support from the public. Poll after poll after poll showed that the public didn’t share the left’s estimation of the Walker reforms. Many thought they were a pretty good idea; many others didn’t much like the reforms but didn’t think they were bad enough or important enough to justify a year of turmoil and a recall election.

The left lost this election because it failed to persuade the people that its analysis was correct. The people weren’t a herd of sheep dazzled by big money campaign ads on TV; the Wisconsin electorate chewed over the issues at leisure, debated them extensively, considered both points of view — and then handed the left a humiliating, stinging and strategic defeat.

Heard: Really Cool Intern Prank

Heard: Caution: Really Cool Intern Prank:
A few times a week we have a high school student come to our Senate office to intern.  After about four weeks here and getting to know the route to Senate Printing and Graphics, he asks another intern, "So I want to make a sign as a prank that makes fun of the girl driver who I carpool with because she nearly killed us this morning.  Do you think Printing and Graphics would be able to print me up a huge sign that reads "Caution: Asian Driver"? The other intern replies, "Yeah, sure. Why not give it a shot? They are pretty nice guys down there. I bet we could find some place in the Senate building that would make that for you."

So the high school intern heads out on this ridiculous mission and returns back eight minutes later.  He says "Apparently, Printing and Graphics is for only official government business only and to change that, an ammendment would have to be made.  I guess I'l have to talk to Senator XXX about this one.  I mean, I even offered to pay.  I guess I'll have to go find somewhere else to make my sign."

Wisconsin - And The Rest Of Us

The Democrats refused to allow Walker to serve his full term and then seek the judgment of the voters. They acted throughout as if he were somehow illegitimate. They refused the give-and-take of democratic politics, using emergency measures for non-emergency reasons. And in this, they are, it seems to me, a state-based mirror-image of the GOP in Washington. Just as Walker was quite clearly a far right candidate and implemented an agenda that was predictable from the spirit if not the letter of his campaign, so Obama ran precisely on what he has done in office, despite the crushing emergency he was handed on becoming president. His healthcare reform was not suddenly revealed in a bait-and-switch operation. It was exhaustively debated in the primaries and the fall campaign; ditto the stimulus, a no-brainer for any president looking into a deflationary abyss; ditto ending the war in Iraq; and focusing on al Qaeda in counter-terrorism, rather than social engineering of quixotic proportions in counter-insurgency.

He has done what he said he'd do. And yet he has been treated as illegitimate and utterly unworthy of any cooperation or compromise by the congressional and media GOP. I worry that Ross's prediction of zero-sum scorched earth politics in an era of spiraling austerity is accurate. I worry that the polarization that Obama tried to overcome has now been innoculated by the virus of victory.

Men Did Invent the Internet (and That’s a Huge Problem)

Men Did Invent the Internet (and That’s a Huge Problem): The correct takeaway from this, however, is not “herp derp, women can’t do math.” It’s that the social costs of sexism are really, really high. If, despite massive cultural and institutional barriers, significant numbers of women were making important contributions at the highest level all along, but denied credit, that would obviously be grossly unfair to the women in question. But it would be sort of a wash from the perspective of overall social utility: The allocation of credit is different, but society still gets the benefit of the brightest women’s contributions. The grimmer alternative is not that the wrong people get the credit, but that important innovations just don’t happen because the pool of brainpower available to tackle important social goals is needlessly halved—the potential female counterparts of Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn never got the opportunity to accelerate the progress of the Internet because, at the time, hostile institutions froze them out, or antiquated norms of femininity deterred them from obtaining STEM educations in the first place. That’s a much, much bigger loss.

Why working-class people vote conservative | Society | The Guardian

Why working-class people vote conservative | Society | The Guardian: Here's a more painful but ultimately constructive diagnosis, from the point of view of moral psychology: politics at the national level is more like religion than it is like shopping. It's more about a moral vision that unifies a nation and calls it to greatness than it is about self-interest or specific policies. In most countries, the right tends to see that more clearly than the left. In America the Republicans did the hard work of drafting their moral vision in the 1970s, and Ronald Reagan was their eloquent spokesman. Patriotism, social order, strong families, personal responsibility (not government safety nets) and free enterprise. Those are values, not government programmes.

The Democrats, in contrast, have tried to win voters' hearts by promising to protect or expand programmes for elderly people, young people, students, poor people and the middle class. Vote for us and we'll use government to take care of everyone! But most Americans don't want to live in a nation based primarily on caring. That's what families are for.

05 June, 2012

Sounds of a Lost America - Page 2 - Los Angeles Times

Sounds of a Lost America - Page 2 - Los Angeles Times: Says Burnett: "We live in an age of music for people who don't like music. The record industry discovered some time ago that there aren't that many people who actually like music. For a lot of people, music's annoying, or at the very least they don't need it.

"They discovered if they could sell music to a lot of those people, they could sell a lot more records, so now we have jazz for people who don't like jazz and country music for people who don't like country music.

"This stuff is music for people who like music."

Well, it Looks Like Someone Hacked Into Mitt Romney's Private Email [Update]

Well, it Looks Like Someone Hacked Into Mitt Romney's Private Email [Update]: And although he or she did, as you can see, helpfully supply the new password he or she created for the account, logging in with it to assess the accuracy of the tipster's claims would put us at some legal jeopardy. So we most certainly did not do that. (We did, however, check that Hotmail's current security procedures allow for password resets with nothing more than the correct answer to a "what's your first pet?" question. They do.)

Romney campaign communications director Gail Gitcho had no comment when we asked her if her candidate's private email account showed any signs of unwanted entry. She did, however, ask us if we had any copies of Romney emails or DropBox documents (we do not), and what our attorney's name and telephone number is. Shortly after that conversation, she called back, complaining that our attorney had not been immediately available and indicating that she had an urgent desire to speak to him.

Recall Elections Are Disruptive And Unnecessary

Recall Elections Are Disruptive And Unnecessary: We elect officials to serve specific and set terms of office for a reason, among those reasons are the idea that it takes a certain amount of time for anyone, whether they are a State Legislator, Governor, Member of Congress, or President, to get settled into their role and begin enacting the agenda that they were elected to implement. Obviously, the people who voted against those officials aren’t going to be happy with the policies that they implement, and indeed it is partly the job of the opposition party to stem the power of the majority run roughshod over the will of the minority, though. However, there comes a time when one must recognize that elections mean things and that one has to accept the outcome of an election while preparing for the next one. Additionally, there something to be said for the idea that politicians shouldn’t be guided by poll numbers all the time and that a political system makes politicians more fearful of the partisan recall election would lead to governance by poll results. Most importantly, though I would argue that mere policy disputes shouldn’t be sufficient reason to remove someone from office before their term is up.

Misperceptions about 2012 attack ads - The Maddow Blog

Misperceptions about 2012 attack ads - The Maddow Blog: Several major media figures have already complained about the tone of the 2012 presidential race, with much of the criticism directed at President Obama's re-election campaign. For example, Karl Rove, without acknowledging the irony, has frequently condemned Team Obama for relying on "fear"-based attack ads.

Among more mainstream media figures, CBS News' Bob Schieffer has been especially critical, complaining to Robert Gibbs last week, and doing so again with David Axelrod yesterday.

Perhaps now would be a good time for a quick reality check. Josh Green cited research from Kantar Media's Campaign Media Analysis Group, which found that 63,793 presidential campaign ads have been broadcast since the start of the general election campaign on April 10. As Green noted, the data uncovered a noteworthy trend: "Democrats are running a largely positive campaign, while Republicans are running a mostly negative one."

The War on Nuns: Two Women Go to Rome : The New Yorker

The War on Nuns: Two Women Go to Rome : The New Yorker: “I think the inference that many people could draw from the publication of the Vatican document is that we are unfaithful,” Sister Pat Farrell told the National Catholic Reporter. “We really do not see ourselves in that way.” She added that speaking up was “a sign of our deepest faithfulness to the church,” because there were “questions that the people of God need to raise, that we need to talk about together in a climate of genuine dialog.”

Is that a conversation the Vatican is ready to have? Two women are going to Rome to find out.

The Mayor of Mayors

The Mayor of Mayors: Bloomberg has increasingly been inserting himself into national debates—from Planned Parenthood to Stand Your Ground—at the moment when there’s maximum political capital up for grabs. And he’s logging miles, taking the Bloomberg brand global. In March, he landed in Singapore to announce that the city-state had joined his international climate-change initiative. This summer, he’ll be in Rio for the next meeting of the C40 Climate Leadership Group. Every time he touches down in a new place, he’s building out an already gilded Rolodex with a loyal network of international politicians whom he can enlist at key moments. “Look at Obama as he goes around the nuclear summit. His posture is sort of that of a guy making entreaties rather than that of an established global leader,” says a senior Bloomberg adviser. “And you look at the way Mike has operated: He’s used mayors around the world and his network of philanthropy to produce what I would say are the beginnings of an international infrastructure that can promote a level of change that is hard to fathom.”

What. The. Hell.

Print - In the Ruins of a Blue and White Empire - Esquire:
The high school on his shirt is his old high school, the one he transferred out of when too many people in this small town told too many other people what they'd heard about the runner. He still runs for his old high school, but he never again wants to walk its halls.
It's your fault JoePa's gone.
The adults, the school administrators, well, they weren't as rough as the kids. Not quite. They didn't drop epithets or invoke gods, at least. But they didn't bend over backward to help him, to support him. It was a small-town school, with a small-town football team, but for several years it had been basking in the voluntary coaching assistance of Jerry Sandusky, a hero descended from the Penn State pantheon, a man so great people had once even thought he would eventually take over for Joe. It's hard to lose the attentions of a great man, and perhaps that's why, when the runner came forward four years ago to tell his story, to put an end to it, according to his mom, one of the top administrators at his high school had a quick and devastating retort.
"Jerry has a heart of gold."
As the scandal exploded, as its impact expanded, the news that the runner was Victim 1 spread on the unstoppable breeze of rumor.
Let's spread another rumor here.
Let's say that it's rumored that before the runner left his old high school behind, he visited a different administrator's office on a matter unrelated to the scandal.
He visited to complain about the dismissal of an assistant track coach, an assistant coach who had clashed with the head coach, but whom the runner and all the other members of the team admired.
"What," the school official replied, "are you sleeping with him, too?"

The last days of MF Global - The Term Sheet: Fortune's deals blog Term Sheet

The last days of MF Global - The Term Sheet: Fortune's deals blog Term Sheet: Where had MF Global gotten all the extra cash it needed in this crisis? By Wednesday, it had almost exhausted its emergency credit lines, which included two bank loans totaling $1.5 billion. It is also on Wednesday, investigators believe, that the firm started dipping into customer funds.

Safeguarding customer money is the holy of holies in the futures business. Under CFTC regulations, cash from individual customers is pooled and kept in special "segregated" bank accounts, where it is supposed to remain inviolate, even when a firm goes under. Industry groups routinely boasted that no customer had ever lost a penny because of a bankruptcy.

Jubilee’ve the hype? One hundred years of royal PR | Roman Krznaric

Jubilee’ve the hype? One hundred years of royal PR | Roman Krznaric: Television commentators reinforce the idea that these are ancient customs stretching back into the mists of time, with remarks like, ‘all the pageantry and grandeur of a thousand-year-old tradition’, ‘a pageantry that has gone on for hundreds of years’ and ‘all the precision that comes from centuries of precedent’.

This is largely, to put it mildly, nonsense. Most of these royal ceremonies and rituals, including the latest Jubilee, are creations of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. They are what historians call ‘invented traditions’ – conscious efforts on the part of those in power to subtly influence our beliefs by providing a compelling but illusory sense of continuity with the past.

So why exactly did the British monarchy need to invent traditions, and how did it do so?

Spoken at Williams's Commencement

Failure And Rescue | Atul Gawande | New Yorker | 04 June 2012:
The difference between triumph and defeat isn’t about willingness to take risks or attempts to prevent failure. In medicine, and much else, the difference is in how you react to failure. And whether you can master the art of rescue

04 June, 2012

I need an alternative to this madness. Bombing funerals?

U.S. again bombs mourners - Salon.com: In February, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism documented that after the U.S. kills people with drones in Pakistan, it then targets for death those who show up at the scene to rescue the survivors and retrieve the bodies, as well as those who gather to mourn the dead at funerals: “the CIA’s drone campaign in Pakistan has killed dozens of civilians who had gone to help rescue victims or were attending funerals.” As The New York Times summarized those findings: “at least 50 civilians had been killed in follow-up strikes after they rushed to help those hit by a drone-fired missile” while “the bureau counted more than 20 other civilians killed in strikes on funerals.”

This repellent practice continues. Over the last three days, the U.S. has launched three separate drone strikes in Pakistan: one on each day. As The Guardian reports, the U.S. has killed between 20 and 30 people in these strikes, the last of which, early this morning, killed between 8 and 15. It was the second strike, on Sunday, that targeted mourners gathered to grieve those killed in the first strike

NASA gets two military spy telescopes for astronomy - The Washington Post

NASA gets two military spy telescopes for astronomy - The Washington Post: The Washington Post

The secretive government agency that flies spy satellites has made a stunning gift to NASA: two exquisite telescopes as big and powerful as the Hubble Space Telescope. They’ve never left the ground and are in storage in Rochester, N.Y.

Woo hoo!

Intern Season 2012: We hope you have all had a restful winter and spring, and are ready for the greatest season of all - Intern Season.  Today marks the official first day of everyone's favorite three months.  Our sources tell us the halls of Congress were crowded with inflated egos (well, more than usual), lost souls, short skirts, and gray badges; K Street was littered with more than the occupy group (are they still there?) and the ever-present Monday morning "escort" literature; all-in-all, it looks to be a great summer ahead.  

Springtime for Romney -- Daily Intel

Springtime for Romney -- Daily Intel: Indeed, if you think about it, having a real proposal to boost the short-term economy would be counterproductive to Romney’s chances of winning. Romney’s advisers — and, when speaking off the cuff, Romney himself — all believe in a basic Keynesian view of the world. They advocate that short-term increases in the deficit will boost demand and increase growth. If Romney came out with a plan like that, Obama could just grab hold of it and demand that Congress pass it (and Republicans would be hard-pressed to explain why they were voting down their own nominee’s plan.) Romney could try to pair it with long-term changes Democrats would hate, but Obama could just pick out the short-term stuff and punt on the long-term parts. And if a plan like that passed, it would boost the economy and harm Romney. So he won’t do it.

This is how you apologize

Actor Jason Alexander Apologizes for Jokes Made on CBS' The Late Late Show | GLAAD:
However, troubled by the reaction of some, I asked a few of my gay friends about it. And at first, even they couldn’t quite find the offense in the bit. But as we explored it, we began to realize what was implied under the humor. I was basing my use of the word “gay” on the silly generalization that real men don’t do gentile, refined things and that my portrayal of the cricket pitch was pointedly effeminate , thereby suggesting that effeminate and gay were synonymous.

But what we really got down to is quite serious. It is not that we can’t laugh at and with each other. It is not a question of oversensitivity. The problem is that today, as I write this, young men and women whose behaviors, choices or attitudes are not deemed “man enough” or “normal” are being subjected to all kinds of abuse from verbal to physical to societal. They are being demeaned and threatened because they don’t fit the group’s idea of what a “real man” or a “real woman” are supposed to look like, act like and feel like.

For these people, my building a joke upon the premise I did added to the pejorative stereotype that they are forced to deal with everyday. It is at the very heart of this whole ugly world of bullying that has been getting rightful and overdue attention in the media. And with my well-intentioned comedy bit, I played right into those hurtful assumptions and diminishments.

03 June, 2012

Queueing theory: What people hate most about waiting in line. - Slate Magazine

Queueing theory: What people hate most about waiting in line. - Slate Magazine: To solve this problem, some genius (Wendy’s, American Airlines, and Citibank are among the companies that claim to be originators) invented the serpentine line. The serpentine line funnels all customers into one big snaking queue, demarcated by ropes or barriers. When you reach the head of the queue, you are directed to the next available server, or teller, or customs official. The serpentine line isn’t always faster than a simple scrum before an array of cash registers. But it offers important solace: You absolutely never have to see someone arrive after you and get served before you.

So, what did the Muslims do for the Jews? | The Jewish Chronicle

So, what did the Muslims do for the Jews? | The Jewish Chronicle: Islam saved Jewry. This is an unpopular, discomforting claim in the modern world. But it is a historical truth. The argument for it is double. First, in 570 CE, when the Prophet Mohammad was born, the Jews and Judaism were on the way to oblivion. And second, the coming of Islam saved them, providing a new context in which they not only survived, but flourished, laying foundations for subsequent Jewish cultural prosperity - also in Christendom - through the medieval period into the modern world.

01 June, 2012

GZA on 'Dark Matter' Album - Interview: Rapper Finds Muse in the Stars - WSJ.com

GZA on 'Dark Matter' Album - Interview: Rapper Finds Muse in the Stars - WSJ.com:
Informed by meetings with top physicists and cosmologists at MIT and Cornell University, "Dark Matter" is intended to be the first in a series of albums that GZA—born Gary Grice in Brooklyn in 1966—will put out in the next few years, several of which are designed to get a wide audience hooked on science.

"Dark Matter" is scheduled for a fall release. Another album will focus on the life aquatic, a subject he's fleshing out with visits to the labs of marine biologists and researchers, as well as meetings with the likes of Philippe Cousteau.

"After 'Dark Matter,' he said, "we'll be back on earth, but in the ocean."

Robot ethics: Morals and the machine | The Economist

Robot ethics: Morals and the machine | The Economist:
Three laws for the laws of robotics
First, laws are needed to determine whether the designer, the programmer, the manufacturer or the operator is at fault if an autonomous drone strike goes wrong or a driverless car has an accident. In order to allocate responsibility, autonomous systems must keep detailed logs so that they can explain the reasoning behind their decisions when necessary. This has implications for system design: it may, for instance, rule out the use of artificial neural networks, decision-making systems that learn from example rather than obeying predefined rules.

Second, where ethical systems are embedded into robots, the judgments they make need to be ones that seem right to most people. The techniques of experimental philosophy, which studies how people respond to ethical dilemmas, should be able to help. Last, and most important, more collaboration is required between engineers, ethicists, lawyers and policymakers, all of whom would draw up very different types of rules if they were left to their own devices. Both ethicists and engineers stand to benefit from working together: ethicists may gain a greater understanding of their field by trying to teach ethics to machines, and engineers need to reassure society that they are not taking any ethical short-cuts.

Politics - Conor Friedersdorf - Hey Voters: The Kill List Is What Matters - The Atlantic

Politics - Conor Friedersdorf - Hey Voters: The Kill List Is What Matters - The Atlantic:

Even as the Times ran that piece on Ann Romney's horseback riding -- one that almost surely won't affect the presidential race -- they also published a major story on the Obama Administration's process for adding people to a secret kill list that it keeps. Its revelations are major.

So on one hand, the Times reports that:
  • Ann Romney participates in a fancy rich-people sport.
  • The Romneys are super rich.
  • They hang out with other ridiculously rich people.
And on the other hand, the Times reports that:
  • President Obama has presided over the deaths of countless innocents.
  • He has violated numerous campaign promises.
  • Some senior officials think Obama's drone policy creates more terrorists than it is kills.
  • Obama's cynical interpretation of "due process" guts the whole concept.
  • His political adviser sits in on the meetings where they make the kill list.
So to sum up, one candidate is portrayed, accurately, as being extremely rich, with a wife who has rich-person leisure-time pursuits; and the other candidate is portrayed, accurately, as someone whose secretive policies have wrought dead children, broken promises, violated due process rights, and possibly created more terrorists. And our political culture in the United States is so blinkered that the story about the rich candidate whose wife rides horses is regarded, by conservatives and savvy Politico journalists, as the one that is noteworthy for being negative; whereas the story about the Orwellian turn in the White House doesn't even merit mention.

To Cheat Or Not To Cheat | Best of the Moment | The Browser

To Cheat Or Not To Cheat | Best of the Moment | The Browser:
Naulty sold the Corvette. He never wears his World Series ring -- he rarely even takes it out of the safe where it is stored. The major league money? Gone. It went to pay for years of therapy and counseling. "It's a funny thing," he says. "I thought I was going to be a millionaire playing baseball, and I ended up using all the money to try to heal myself."
He never thought about Roberts, Linebarger and Legault when he was taking steroids. But as a Christian, what happened between them became too painful to him. Speaking about what he did, and his regret, is part of his therapy. "How do you forgive yourself for screwing over people you played with?" he says. "How do you forgive yourself for abusing all these people? How do you get to that point? It took a long time."