31 October, 2012

A Convenient Excuse - News Features

A Convenient Excuse - News Features: First: We need to see a much greater sense of urgency in the media's coverage of climate change, including in the Globe's editorial and opinion pages. This is more than an environmental crisis: it's an existential threat, and it should be treated like one, without fear of sounding alarmist, rather than covered as just another special interest, something only environmentalists care about. And it should be treated as a central issue in this election, regardless of whether the candidates or the political media are talking about it.

Second: Business-as-usual, politics-as-usual, and journalism-as-usual are failing us when it comes to addressing the climate threat.

GOING SOUTERRAIN | More Intelligent Life

GOING SOUTERRAIN | More Intelligent Life: When Nadar first dropped into the catacombs with his camera, the tunnels were largely empty. He might have encountered the occasional mushroom farmer, or perhaps the Inspection des Carri�res, the workers who prevented the tunnels from collapsing under the weight of the city—otherwise, in those days, no one. Today, the quarries teem with activity. Walls are covered in riots of graffiti, chambers gilded with carvings and murals. This is the work of cataphiles, a loose tribe of young, bohemian Parisians who spend days and nights in the catacombs. They throw parties, stage performances, make art, explore the limits of the system. Entering the catacombs is illegal and the police employ a special squadron—catacops—to patrol the network. But they deter no one. The tunnels are like a big secret clubhouse.

General Failure - Thomas E. Ricks - The Atlantic

General Failure - Thomas E. Ricks - The Atlantic:
Privately, Army strategists agreed with that verdict, according to an after-action review of the first part of the Afghan War, completed at the Army War College the following summer. Franks’s headquarters suffered from “many disturbing trends,” including “a short-term focus,” the report stated. “The lack of a war plan or theater campaign plan has hindered operations and led to a tactical focus that ignores long-term objectives.”

If Afghanistan hinted at Franks’s shortcomings, Iraq revealed them fully. Historically, thinking about war and then arriving at actionable conclusions has been the core task of generals. Yet Franks seemed to believe that thinking was something others did for generals. In his memoir, he refers to his military planners, with a whiff of good-old-boy contempt, as “the fifty-pound brains.”

30 October, 2012

The Millions : Big Bird is History: Why We Fund PBS

The Millions : Big Bird is History: Why We Fund PBS: “Believe” is the most overused buzzword of political rhetoric, so I will avoid it. But I really think PBS should be subsidized by the government. Here’s why.

PBS is a cheap way to educate. There’s way more of your tax dollar going to war machines than to this frivolous arts-n-farts station. Yes, it’s run by aesthetes and Ivy League intellectuals. But that should be a point of national pride. The History Channel now airs “Did Aliens Build the Pyramids.” The Learning Channel airs “Say Yes to the Dress.” If you let the market choose your programming, sooner or later, it will lead to Honey Boo Boo.

Skippy' List

Skippy's List: 61. If one soldier has a 2nd Lt bar on his uniform, and I have an E-4 on mine It means he outranks me. It does not mean “I have been promoted three more times than you”.

62. It is better to beg forgiveness than to ask permission, no longer applies to Specialist Schwarz.

63. Command decisions do *not* need to be ratified by a 2/3 majority.

Cuomo: Whoever doesn't see extreme weather pattern is 'denying reality' | Capital New York

Cuomo: Whoever doesn't see extreme weather pattern is 'denying reality' | Capital New York: "There has been a series of extreme weather incidents. That is not a political statement, that is a factual statement," Cuomo said. "Anyone who says there is not a dramatic change in weather patterns is denying reality."

He didn't actually say the words "global warming."

But he said, "I said the president kiddingly the other day, 'We have a one-hundred year flood every two years.'"

From The Annals Of Chutzpah

From The Annals Of Chutzpah:
"One thing [Obama's] gonna be asked is, why did he jump on [the hurricane] so quickly and go back to D.C. so quickly when in…Benghazi, he went to Las Vegas [for a fundraiser]?” - Michael "Heckuva Job Brownie".

29 October, 2012

How the 'Having It All' Debate Has Changed Over the Last 30 Years - Deborah Fallows - The Atlantic

How the 'Having It All' Debate Has Changed Over the Last 30 Years - Deborah Fallows - The Atlantic: But old habits die hard, and when I was laying in supplies for the baby visit, I unthinkingly asked our son to ask our daughter-in-law what size diapers and what kind of bottles I should get. Without missing a beat, he replied, "Size 3 Pampers Swaddlers and Medela bottles."

My first reaction was: a misstep by me. My second reaction was: He's a good dad. Later, I even indulged the idea that maybe something about our sons' own upbringing had rubbed off on them. My husband, a writer, has primarily worked from home. He saw, heard, and, to a much greater degree than most fathers of our generation, was part of the everyday scramble of life with kids. The lucky break of the workstyle of his profession allowed a participation in and empathetic appreciation of family life that is, I think, a version of what many young families aim toward today. Something has changed demonstrably in the functioning of modern young two-parent families: Both parents are there in the elemental sense of the word. Finally.

28 October, 2012

Men and Women Can't Be "Just Friends": Scientific American

Men and Women Can't Be "Just Friends": Scientific American: The results suggest large gender differences in how men and women experience opposite-sex friendships. Men were much more attracted to their female friends than vice versa. Men were also more likely than women to think that their opposite-sex friends were attracted to them—a clearly misguided belief. In fact, men’s estimates of how attractive they were to their female friends had virtually nothing to do with how these women actually felt, and almost everything to do with how the men themselves felt—basically, males assumed that any romantic attraction they experienced was mutual, and were blind to the actual level of romantic interest felt by their female friends. Women, too, were blind to the mindset of their opposite-sex friends; because females generally were not attracted to their male friends, they assumed that this lack of attraction was mutual. As a result, men consistently overestimated the level of attraction felt by their female friends and women consistently underestimated the level of attraction felt by their male friends.

Former Colin Powell Chief of Staff Blasts GOP Saying "My party is full of racists." | Cleveland Leader

Former Colin Powell Chief of Staff Blasts GOP Saying "My party is full of racists." | Cleveland Leader: "To say that Colin Powell would endorse President Obama because of his skin color is like saying Mother Theresa worked for profit."

-Colin Wilkerson

26 October, 2012

captainpixystick comments on Here's what you should be doing to prep for Hurricane Sandy right now, if you work or have machines hosted on the East Coast

captainpixystick comments on Here's what you should be doing to prep for Hurricane Sandy right now, if you work or have machines hosted on the East Coast: A similar scenario has happened before, back in 1991 ... the "Perfect Storm" of movie and book lore was born. Forecasts of that storm were awful leading up to it. The center of that system never made landfall along the East Coast. In fact, at its strongest the core of that storm was a few hundred miles east of New England. Here's what resulted: 80 mph winds and 25-foot waves on the Massachusetts Coast. Offshore buoys recorded 40-foot waves (that is enough to swallow a fishing boat). The Maryland Coast recorded record high tides. The lowest barometric pressure with that storm was 972 mb (that corresponds to 28.70" for those of you who are familiar with those units). Some computer forecast models drop the lowest pressure with Sandy to below 940 mb (27.75"). If you have a barometer at home, take a look at it - it doesn't go that low. If that occurs, this storm will bring the lowest barometric pressure ever recorded on the East Coast.


Valerie Jarrett Versus The Haters: In chapter nine, former economic adviser Larry Summer blames Jarrett for the White House’s frayed relationship with Wall Street. In chapter six, the former CEO of Verizon complains Jarrett didn’t arrange enough time with him for the president at a Super Bowl party. “15 seconds,” the CEO is quoted as saying. Jarrett is alleged to have responded by telling him he was lucky just to be in the room.

Dunham’s ‘First Time’ Ad Similar To 1980 Reagan Joke | TPM2012

Dunham’s ‘First Time’ Ad Similar To 1980 Reagan Joke | TPM2012: What Reagan was trying to do in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio was to harvest usually Democratic blue-collar votes — the consistent target of his personal campaigning in the Great Lakes states. Whenever he is near voters who might possibly be Democrats, Reagan likes to remind them that he came from that side of the political tracks.

On Thursday night, at a working class bar in Bayonne, N.J., Reagan said, “I know what it’s like to pull the Republican lever for the first time, because I used to be a Democrat myself, and I can tell you it only hurts for a minute and then it feels just great.”

An Open Letter to President Obama | RedState

An Open Letter to President Obama | RedState: Mr. President,

What could you possibly have been thinking? The ad you have launched featuring a young actress equating voting for you to a sexual act is offensive to me, to millions of women and to the stature of the office you hold. As a father of two beautiful girls, how could you possibly have allowed this to be aired? Did you approve this? Did someone on your campaign staff actually think this was a good idea? It is offensive, repulsive and should be removed immediately. It is beneath the dignity of the office you hold. Mr. President, are you and your Democrat colleagues so focused on sex and reproductive rights that you really think that is the single motivator for women? Are you not aware that women in 2012 are focused on jobs, the economy, economic opportunity?

Dying Satellites Could Lead to Shaky Weather Forecasts - NYTimes.com

Dying Satellites Could Lead to Shaky Weather Forecasts - NYTimes.com: WASHINGTON — The United States is facing a year or more without crucial satellites that provide invaluable data for predicting storm tracks, a result of years of mismanagement, lack of financing and delays in launching replacements, according to several recent official reviews.

Poor Sanitation Found at Pharmacy Linked to Meningitis Outbreak - NYTimes.com

Poor Sanitation Found at Pharmacy Linked to Meningitis Outbreak - NYTimes.com: WASHINGTON — A federal inspection of a company whose tainted pain medicine has caused one of the worst public health drug disasters since the 1930s found greenish-yellow residue on sterilization equipment, surfaces coated with levels of mold and bacteria that exceeded the company’s own environmental limits, and an air-conditioner that was shut off nightly despite the importance of controlling temperature and humidity.

Tropical Storm ZETA


The Hunt for an Affordable Hearing Aid - NYTimes.com

The Hunt for an Affordable Hearing Aid - NYTimes.com: The crackling noises coming from my left ear weren’t a good sign.

Last year, when my decade-old analog hearing aid started making popping sounds, I knew I had to replace it. But because hearing aids are so costly and generally aren’t covered by insurance, I had put it off. I soon learned that in the last 10 years, purchasing a hearing aid had become even more difficult and confusing than buying a new car — and almost as expensive.

The first salesman I visited, in Los Angeles, looked at the hairline fracture on my wax-encrusted aid. He warned me that it could shatter in my ear and advised me to get a new one on the spot.

Bryan Norcross' Official Blog : The Sandy Paradox | Weather Underground

Bryan Norcross' Official Blog : The Sandy Paradox | Weather Underground:

The strong evidence we have that a significant, maybe historic, storm is going to hit the east coast is that EVERY reliable computer forecast model now says it's going to happen. The only way we can forecast the weather four or five days days from now is with the aid of these super-complex computer programs run on supercomputers. The two best, the European and the U.S. GFS (Global Forecast System) run by NOAA, are now in reasonable agreement that there IS going to be an extraordinarily unusual confluence of events that results in a massive storm.

The upper-air steering pattern that is part of the puzzle is not all that unheard of. It happens when the atmosphere gets blocked over the Atlantic and the flow over the U.S. doubles back on itself. Sometimes big winter storms are involved.

The freak part is that a hurricane happens to be in the right place in the world to get sucked into this doubled-back channel of air and pulled inland from the coast.

And the double-freak part is that the upper level wind, instead of weakening the storm and simply absorbing the moisture - which would be annoying enough - is merging with the tropical system to create a monstrous hybrid vortex. A combination of a hurricane and a nor'easter.

At least that's what the models are saying. And since all of the independent models are saying something similar, we have to believe them and be ready.

25 October, 2012

Obama and the Road Ahead: The Rolling Stone Interview | Politics News | Rolling Stone

Obama and the Road Ahead: The Rolling Stone Interview | Politics News | Rolling Stone: Paul Nitze, the foreign-policy guru of the Truman administration, once told me that the problem with historians like myself is that we're always hunting for a cache of documents to analyze. What our ilk tends to forget, he chided, is that inaction is also policy. Under this criterion, Obama must also be judged by the things he won't allow to happen on his watch: Wall Street thieving, Bush-style fiscal irresponsibility, a new war in the Middle East, the reversal of Roe v. Wade, the dismantling of Medicare into a voucher program – the list is long. The offense-driven, Yes-We-Can candidate of 2008 has become the No-You-Won't defensive champion of 2012. Obama has less a grand plan to get America working than a NO TRESPASSING sign to prevent 100 years of progressive accomplishments from being swept away, courtesy of Team Romney, in a Katrina-like deluge of anti-regulatory measures.

Winning the IP Future | RedState

Winning the IP Future | RedState:
The temptation to overregulate new technologies is strong. It’s also misguided. Today, everyone would agree that it would be absurd for the government to require an automobile to be preceded by a person carrying a red flag to warn people that a car was coming. Or worse, imagine if regulators required motorists to stop, disassemble their vehicle, and conceal the parts in bushes if the car frightened a passing horse. The first actually happened at the dawn of the automobile age—they were called Red Flag Laws—and the second nearly happened, passing the Pennsylvania state legislature unanimously, only to be stopped by the Governor’s veto.

That same regulatory impulse is still with us today. In the midst of a game-changing Internet transformation, regulators are debating how to control progress with monopoly-era telephone rules. They are mulling over how to expand cable television regulations that predate the existence of the Internet and have no place in an all-IP world. This impulse calls to mind the last scene from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: “You’re still here? It’s over. Go home. Go.

Whether it is at the federal, state, or local government level, we cannot afford to apply old-world regulations like price controls, corporate subsidies, and common-carrier regulation (otherwise known as Title II regulation) to the Internet. If regulators treat the Internet like a newfangled telephone network, that is the network we will get. We can and must do better.

The Cost of Higher Education — Crooked Timber

The Cost of Higher Education — Crooked Timber:
It has often been pointed out that universities and colleges are all trying to be Rolls Royce; no one is trying to be Kia. Existing institutions don’t compete on bottom line cost to students because cutting costs would undercut prestige and these institutions are competing to be prestigious; and, anyway, most students get some financial aid, so cost isn’t really transparent and you have a third-party payer problem, price-sensitivity-wise. Suffice it to say that a number of factors conspire to make it the case that the market for higher ed doesn’t look like the market for, say, cars, with luxury vehicles for a few and basically functional, affordable options for the masses. (No one wants to be the Crazy Eddie of Higher Ed: We’ve slashed tuition so much we must be insaaane! Nor do students or parents want Crazy Eddie, exactly. But no one wants to be crushed by debt either.)

HydraText - Blog - Dear Republican�Friends

HydraText - Blog - Dear Republican�Friends: The immediate and urgent problem here is not what Republicans believe but the two-fold strategy they have chosen to pursue: (1) Make sure nothing gets done. (2) Run a campaign criticizing President Obama for not getting anything done.

This can’t be allowed to work, and I think this is a point on which we both can agree. This is so important that I want to say it again: This can’t be allowed to work. Imagine your party’s candidate does win. What is my party supposed to do?

Now the Birthers Have a Hilarious Bogus Obama "Birth" Tape

Now the Birthers Have a Hilarious Bogus Obama "Birth" Tape: It really does feel like the Obama Conspiracyverse has moved on from pure birtherism to the theory that the president's real father was Frank Marshall Davis. So I welcome this flashback from Vice, a video from a crazy person who thinks it's proof that Barack Obama was born in a Kenyan hospital in 1961.

It's so damn debunk-able, it hurts. First, notice the curious closing shot of the Kenyan flag, which is placed (for some reason) at the foot of the bed. A calender earlier in the shot -- also, hilariously, zoomed in on as if the videographer is trying to find the Cloverfield monster -- tells us that we're in 1961.

24 October, 2012

UN: The Problem With The Internet Today Is It's Just Too Open & Terrorists Might Use It | Techdirt

UN: The Problem With The Internet Today Is It's Just Too Open & Terrorists Might Use It | Techdirt: Ah, the UN. As highlighted by Declan McCullagh, a new report from the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, clocking in at an unwieldy 158 pages (pdf) warns that this old internet of ours is just too damn open, and that means terrorists can use it. Thus, it has to stop the openness. The report really is just about that bad: if terrorists might misuse it, it's bad and must be stopped. The costs of locking up all this openness are brushed aside, if they're even considered at all. Among the problems? How about open WiFi?

Don’t Sneeze in Space: When Astronauts Get Sick | TIME.com

Don’t Sneeze in Space: When Astronauts Get Sick | TIME.com: Few people had a worse time in space than the crew of Apollo VII. It wasn’t just the 11 days they spent in orbit in 1968 test-driving the new — and decidedly cramped — Apollo command module. That’s what they’d trained for, after all. What they hadn’t banked on was that they’d all contract serious head colds — first Wally Schirra, the veteran commander, then his rookie crewmates Walt Cunningham and Donn Eisele. All three men grew cranky, snappish and downright mutinous, even breaking mission rules by refusing to wear their helmets during re-entry, lest their already clogged ears pop painfully.

Official Google Blog: Watch the Hajj from the Grand Mosque of Mecca live on YouTube

Official Google Blog: Watch the Hajj from the Grand Mosque of Mecca live on YouTube:

Tomorrow marks the start of the observance of Eid El Adha, celebrated by the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims. As part of this holiday, nearly 2.5 million Muslims will participate in the world’s largest pilgrimage to perform the ritual of Hajj. This year, millions more from around the world will be able to experience the ritual via the live stream from Mecca, Saudi Arabia on the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information's YouTube channel.

An Open Letter to Ann Coulter | The World of Special Olympics

An Open Letter to Ann Coulter | The World of Special Olympics:
After I saw your tweet, I realized you just wanted to belittle the President by linking him to people like me.  You assumed that people would understand and accept that being linked to someone like me is an insult and you assumed you could get away with it and still appear on TV.

I have to wonder if you considered other hateful words but recoiled from the backlash.

Well, Ms. Coulter, you, and society, need to learn that being compared to people like me should be considered a badge of honor.

No one overcomes more than we do and still loves life so much.

Come join us someday at Special Olympics.  See if you can walk away with your heart unchanged.

23 October, 2012

President Obama’s Executive Power Grab - Newsweek and The Daily Beast

President Obama’s Executive Power Grab - Newsweek and The Daily Beast: The result is an extraconstitutional arms race of sorts: a new normal that habitually circumvents the legislative process envisioned by the Framers. On one side of the aisle, Republicans are providing a blueprint for minority parties to come, demonstrating how it is possible, and politically advantageous, to use procedural tricks to incapacitate a president they oppose. On the other side of the aisle, Obama is drafting a playbook for future presidents to deploy in response: How to Get What You Want Even If Congress Won’t Give It to You. “Obama is the first president to use his unilateral powers so routinely, especially in the domestic sphere,” says University of Virginia presidential scholar Sidney Milkis, a self-described moderate Democrat. “And in some ways, that may be more insidious than what came before.”

And so the question now is not whether the presidency has changed Obama. It’s whether Obama is changing the presidency.

Letters of Note: I am a human being

Letters of Note: I am a human being: In October of 1989, two weeks after a heated meeting in which he informed his hugely influential agent, Michael Ovitz, that he would soon be leaving CAA to join rival agency ICM, screenwriter Joe Eszterhas (Flashdance, Jagged Edge) wrote Ovitz the following defiant letter and stood firm. What was seen by many to be a brave letter quickly circulated Hollywood, and soon other allegations of Ovitz's bullying tactics surfaced. The clash was talk of the industry; Ovitz's denial fell largely on deaf ears.

22 October, 2012

Where Will The Next Pandemic Come From? And How Can We Stop It? | Popular Science

Where Will The Next Pandemic Come From? And How Can We Stop It? | Popular Science: There are an awful lot of RNA viruses, he said, which might seem to raise the odds that many would come after humans. RNA viruses in the oceans, in the soil, in the forests, and in the cities; RNA viruses infecting bacteria, fungi, plants, and animals. It’s possible that every cellular species of life on the planet supports at least one RNA virus, though we don’t know for sure because we’ve just begun looking. A glance at his virosphere poster, which portrayed the universe of known viruses as a brightly colored pizza, was enough to support that point. It showed RNA viruses accounting for at least half the slices. But they’re not merely common, Eddie said. They’re also highly evolvable. They’re protean. They adapt quickly.

Stick to my knitting - Roger Ebert's Journal

Stick to my knitting - Roger Ebert's Journal: But...stick to the movies! There is an implication here that I have been assigned a role and must perform it. I was writing about politics before I ever wrote a movie review. I've done op-eds for The Sun-Times since time immemorial. Some people are under the impression that I've become sidetracked in the last ten minutes.

There may be a larger implication, that most people are not qualified to hold political opinions. It's said to be impolite to bring up religion or politics at dinner. That means many meals go without any discussion of what we believe or why we believe it. That's not the way I was raised. Politics were always discussed at our family dinners, and in my memories of long-ago Thanksgivings, after the table had been cleared at my grandmother's house my dad and Uncle Everett and Uncle Johnny all repaired to the living room, fired up their Luckies and Camels, and started in about Eisenhower and Stevenson, Nixon and Kennedy.

21 October, 2012

Nitrogen cycle: Difference Engine: End of the electric car? | The Economist

Nitrogen cycle: Difference Engine: End of the electric car? | The Economist: The big difference is that a liquid-nitrogen car is likely to be considerably cheaper to build than an electric vehicle. For one thing, its engine does not have to cope with high temperatures—and could therefore be fabricated out of cheap alloys or even plastics.

For another, because it needs no bulky traction batteries, it would be lighter and cheaper still than an electric vehicle. At present, lithium-ion battery packs for electric vehicles cost between $500 and $600 a kilowatt-hour. The Nissan Leaf has 24 kilowatt-hours of capacity. At around $13,200, the batteries account for more than a third of the car’s $35,200 basic price. A nitrogen car with comparable range and performance could therefore sell for little more than half the price of an electric car.

A third advantage is that liquid nitrogen is a by-product of the industrial process for making liquid oxygen. Because there is four times as much nitrogen as oxygen in air, there is inevitably a glut of the stuff—so much so, liquid nitrogen sells in America for a tenth of the price of milk.

The billionaires next door | The Great Debate

The billionaires next door | The Great Debate: Or consider the view of some Western members of the plutocracy concerning the strains imposed on the American middle class by globalization. The U.S.-based CEO of one of the world’s largest fund managers told me that his firm’s investment committee often discussed the question of who wins and who loses in today’s economy. In a recent internal debate, he said, one of his senior colleagues had argued that the hollowing out of the American middle class didn’t really matter. “His point was that if the transformation of the world economy lifts four people in China and India out of poverty and into the middle class, and meanwhile one American drops out of the middle class, that’s not such a bad trade,” the CEO recalled.

Show Me The Money: Behavioral Economics And Consumer Protection | The New Republic

Show Me The Money: Behavioral Economics And Consumer Protection | The New Republic: The first is average-use information, by which issuers reveal the average pattern shown by the entire population or relevant subgroups. The second is individual-use information, derived from the individual consumer’s actual behavior. Bar-Gill urges that individual-use information is better, because it is more accurate, and so it should be disclosed if it is available. Bar-Gill quotes Duncan McDonald, formerly general counsel of Citigroup’s Europe and North America card business: “No other industry in the world knows consumers and their transactions behavior better than the bank card industry.” Bar-Gill contends that because issuers know so much about use patterns—indeed, more than consumers themselves do—they should share that information with consumers.

Historian on the Edge: Professor Grumpy's Historical Manifesto

Historian on the Edge: Professor Grumpy's Historical Manifesto: Knowing 'what really happened in history' is Chronicling not history. And it isn't much practical use outside pub quizzes*. 1: It reduces history to simple fact-finding; and simple factual recounting isn’t history. 2: It assumes that the simple course of events explains them, and thus that the course of events naturally, inevitably, led to particular outcomes (where we are today). 3: Our modern nationalists aren’t operating under compulsion from the Past. The past has no power; it’s dead and gone. It can’t make you do anything. These people are choosing events from their understanding of the past to justify what they are doing or what they want to do in the present.

20 October, 2012

Google Throws Open Doors to Its Top-Secret Data Center | Wired Enterprise | Wired.com

Google Throws Open Doors to Its Top-Secret Data Center | Wired Enterprise | Wired.com: Urs H�lzle had never stepped into a data center before he was hired by Sergey Brin and Larry Page. A hirsute, soft-spoken Swiss, H�lzle was on leave as a computer science professor at UC Santa Barbara in February 1999 when his new employers took him to the Exodus server facility in Santa Clara. Exodus was a colocation site, or colo, where multiple companies rent floor space. Google’s “cage” sat next to servers from eBay and other blue-chip Internet companies. But the search company’s array was the most densely packed and chaotic. Brin and Page were looking to upgrade the system, which often took a full 3.5 seconds to deliver search results and tended to crash on Mondays. They brought H�lzle on to help drive the effort.

Colbert's super PAC may get last laugh

Colbert's super PAC may get last laugh:

But Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, the committee Colbert created that may raise and spend unlimited amounts of money to promote or attack political candidates, was sitting on more than $776,000 going into October, a new filing with the Federal Election Commission indicates.
That's serious money: enough, for example, to produce and broadcast numerous television advertisements from now through Election Day in major presidential swing state markets.

Inside Foxconn #3: Click through to see more

Inside Foxconn #3: Some Dormitories: The current workforce at Foxconn's Longhua site is around 220,000, of whom about one-quarter stay on-site in dormitories. Obviously I didn't see all the dormitories, but I saw some, from inside and out. Here's a look. Previous Foxconn installments here and here. For context, remember: this is the hyper-secretive, highly controversial company that makes so many of the smartphones, computers, tablets, and other devices that you use.

Here is a badly lit picture to give you the idea of how four bunk units fit. You see two bunkson the right; two others are on the left.


Visualizing Vastness - NYTimes.com

Visualizing Vastness - NYTimes.com: Norton and Ariely found that people on both sides of the political spectrum grossly underestimated the extent of inequality. The typical respondent believed that the top 20 percent owned 59 percent of the nation’s wealth, much less than the 84 percent the top quintile actually owned (at the time of the survey). Respondents also thought the two quintiles at the bottom — the poorest 40 percent — owned 10 percent of the nation’s wealth, when the reality was that their two slices totaled 0.3 percent of the American pie, the two nearly invisible slivers in the chart.

The coming confession � Cycling in the South Bay

The coming confession � Cycling in the South Bay: What’s most predictable is the text of his confession. He will admit to breaking the rules. He will admit to using performance enhancing drugs. He will apologize for having misled fans.

However, like Leipheimer and Hincapie, drug addicts whose entire careers were built on cheating, he will never admit that his actions were morally reprehensible. He will insist that he had no other choice. He will justify it with the oldest line of all: “If you weren’t there, you’ll never really understand it.”

Moore's Law: The rule that really matters in tech | Cutting Edge - CNET News

Moore's Law: The rule that really matters in tech | Cutting Edge - CNET News: Here's a very specific illustration of what Moore's Law has meant. The first transistor, made in 1947 at Bell Labs, was assembled by hand. In 1964, there were about 30 transistors on a chip measuring about 4 square millimeters. Intel's "Ivy Bridge" quad-core chips, the third-generation Core i7 found found in the newest Mac and Windows PCs, has 1.4 billion transistors on a surface area of 160 square millimeters -- and there are chips with even more.

A transistor is the electrical switch at the heart of a microprocessor, similar to a wall switch that governs whether electric current will flow to light a lamp. A transistor element called a gate controls whether electrons can flow across the transistor from its "source" side to its "drain" side. Flowing electrons can be taken logically as a "1," but if they don't flow the transistor reads "0." Millions of transistors connected together on a modern chip process information by influencing each other's electrical state.

My son is schizophrenic. The ‘reforms’ that I worked for have worsened his life. - The Washington Post

My son is schizophrenic. The ‘reforms’ that I worked for have worsened his life. - The Washington Post: If I were a legislator today, I’d mandate — and provide funding to ensure — that every teacher receive training in recognizing symptoms of mental illnesses. I’d see that pediatricians are trained to make screening for mental health concerns a regular part of well-child exams. I’d require school administrators to incorporate recommendations from pediatricians and mental health professionals into students’ IEPs.

I’d put much more money into community mental health services. I’d integrate how services are delivered by funding collaborative community mental health programs and have them run by mental health professionals. I’d include services for chronically homeless people under this collaborative umbrella.

"Who Won The Debate?" - The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan - The Daily Beast

"Who Won The Debate?" - The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan - The Daily Beast: Prior to the debate, Jimmy Kimmel asked the public about "last night's" debate:

The Self-Destruction of the 1 Percent - NYTimes.com

The Self-Destruction of the 1 Percent - NYTimes.com: IN the early 19th century, the United States was one of the most egalitarian societies on the planet. “We have no paupers,” Thomas Jefferson boasted in an 1814 letter. “The great mass of our population is of laborers; our rich, who can live without labor, either manual or professional, being few, and of moderate wealth. Most of the laboring class possess property, cultivate their own lands, have families, and from the demand for their labor are enabled to exact from the rich and the competent such prices as enable them to be fed abundantly, clothed above mere decency, to labor moderately and raise their families.”

For Jefferson, this equality was at the heart of American exceptionalism: “Can any condition of society be more desirable than this?”

That all changed with industrialization.

Ross Andersen - bristlecone pines

Ross Andersen - bristlecone pines: Part of what separates humans from nature is our striving to preserve the past, but we too have proved adept at its erasure. It was humans, after all, who set fire to the ancient Library of Alexandria, whose hundreds of thousands of scrolls contained a sizable fraction of classical learning. The loss of knowledge at Alexandria was said to be so profound that it set Western civilisation back 1,000 years. Indeed, some have described the library’s burning as an event horizon, a boundary in time across which information cannot flow.

Allow Me to Evade That Specific Policy Question With Sweeping Generalizations About America.

McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: Monologue: Allow Me to Evade That Specific Policy Question With Sweeping Generalizations About America.: Achieving revenue neutrality while cutting taxes with no new source of revenue might seem impossible, but in America, anything is possible. That’s the American dream—making the impossible possible. And if there’s anyone that can achieve the American dream, it’s Americans.

How the Clintons Might Have Saved Obama’s Campaign -- New York Magazine

How the Clintons Might Have Saved Obama’s Campaign -- New York Magazine: Today, Hillary Clinton is the most popular member of Obama’s Cabinet, and her husband is not only his greatest but most tireless political ally. This past September 11, the Y-chromosome Clinton was in Miami, ripping Mitt Romney a new one over Medicare. Since then, Clinton has campaigned for Obama in New Hampshire and Nevada, raised money for him in Boston and with him in Los Angeles—and there is more to come. A TV ad with Clinton making the case for Obama’s reelection has run 16,000 times in swing states across the country. Another, featuring a clip of Clinton’s address at the Democratic convention, almost gives the impression that he is Obama’s running mate. Then there is that speech itself, which another top Obama adviser tells me flatly is “the most important moment of the campaign so far.”

Inside Osama Bin Laden’s Final Hours—and How the White House Chose Their Assassination Plot | Vanity Fair

Inside Osama Bin Laden’s Final Hours—and How the White House Chose Their Assassination Plot | Vanity Fair: In his letter to Sheikh Mahmud, he raced to catch up with the Arab Spring, to interpret the events in light of his own immutable beliefs. Bin Laden also hammered home some advice about security. After more than nine successful years in hiding, he considered himself to be an expert: “It is proven that the American technology and its modern systems cannot arrest a Mujahid if he does not commit a security error that leads them to him,” he wrote. “So adherence to security precautions makes their advanced technology a loss and a disappointment to them.”

The computer turned bin Laden’s words into neat lines of uniform Arabic. He was feeling confident. He had five days to live.

The Tale Of TiVo And Why Great Brands Fall From Grace | Fast Company

The Tale Of TiVo And Why Great Brands Fall From Grace | Fast Company: First, we need to dispel the myth that there is any long-term “first-mover” advantage in marketing brands. This may be true at the start, but ultimately it is the companies able to adapt to changing conditions that thrive. That is to say, survival of the fittest brands, not the first brands, drives the market. Neither Google, nor Amazon, nor even Gillette was the first brand in its respective category that it now leads. So while some “boom, splat” brands were the first to popularize innovative benefits--such as digital video recording--this distinction alone is insufficient to defend against encroaching competition and a restless consumer.

Prince Roy of Sealand - Telegraph

Prince Roy of Sealand - Telegraph: From 100ft above the sea, he rappelled down a rope to the tiny helipad below. His son, Michael, did likewise. The Germans later confessed to being taken aback on encountering, in combat gear, an Englishman they had only known to wear a natty Savile Row suit and bowler hat.

In the melee, Bates brandished a rifle, but Michael was captured and held hostage in the galley before being flown to the Netherlands, where he was released after four days.

In turn, Achenbach’s lawyer, Gernot P�tz, a Sealand passport holder, was seized, hustled into a tender and charged with treason. Bates — by the “powers” vested in him as Prince Roy — solemnly sentenced him to life on the platform.

American Airlines delays: The airline that can’t get its passengers to their destinations on time, manage its workers, or even keep its seats bolted down. - Slate Magazine

American Airlines delays: The airline that can’t get its passengers to their destinations on time, manage its workers, or even keep its seats bolted down. - Slate Magazine: The good news for American Airlines is that it’s prepared to announce that by Saturday none of its 757s will have seats that come loose during flight. The bad news, obviously, is that as of last Thursday, American had to cancel 50 flights because 48 of their planes couldn’t be flown safely. The problem, it says, is that spilled sodas blocked the locking pins used on some of the seats, a flaw that can be corrected by using a different mechanism. The deeper problem for American is that seats coasting around the cabin in flight isn’t even the biggest problem it’s wrestling with this fall. American is bankrupt, and the bankruptcy proceeding—while designed to restore the airline to health—has ignited a multifront civil war pitting executives against their own employees.

In Technology Wars, Using the Patent as a Sword - NYTimes.com

In Technology Wars, Using the Patent as a Sword - NYTimes.com: Apple has filed multiple suits against three companies — HTC, Samsung and Motorola Mobility, now part of Google — that today are responsible for more than half of all smartphone sales in the United States. If Apple’s claims — which include ownership of minor elements like rounded square icons and of more fundamental smartphone technologies — prevail, it will most likely force competitors to overhaul how they design phones, industry experts say.

Soccer Violence in Argentina

Soccer Violence in Argentina | Sports | OutsideOnline.com: Problem: we had 2,000, but the Cylinder seats 64,000. It wasn’t absolutely full, but I’ll stick with my guess that we were outnumbered by 60,000. They were dancing in great waves, a sea of blue and white, their noise drowning out even the Rat Stabbers’ band.

The game went badly. Not for Racing, whose diehard fan club, the Imperial Guard, gathered below our terrace, taunting, calling up challenges. Come down here and say that to my face.

The Rat Stabbers retaliated by spitting, and they managed to heave firecrackers and a smoke bomb over two layers of fencing. Nobody would remember the game later, not even the score. But they would remember this, the battle.

Goals are nice. But fighting is forever.

Carlos M. Duarte: Yesterday My Daughter Emigrated

Carlos M. Duarte: Yesterday My Daughter Emigrated: We have taken a beating. But let us stand up, brush the dust off, and get moving. First, though, for that to happen we must liberate ourselves from the enormous burden of the incompetent politicians who have largely brought us to where we are today.

I want my daughter and everyone else who left the country, to be happy, and, in some near future, to come home to their country to contribute, in their capacity, to our future.

Breaking the Silence | The Caravan - A Journal of Politics and Culture

Breaking the Silence | The Caravan - A Journal of Politics and Culture: Equality is forged in the crucible of politics; it would be presumptuous to prescribe solutions. But the politics of equality will have to cut more insistently through the culture of avoidance; this is easier said than done, because this culture has become deeply embedded in everyday sites and practices. Economically, growth is not everything; in many ways, it will pose new and serious challenges. But the absence of growth will have catastrophic consequences for any project of equality, because new opportunities cannot be created without it. Ultimately, a new politics of equality will require the imagination of a new idiom to replace those that have been exhausted—a new way to think about the reasons for equality without reference to its utility towards some other end. It will have to be based on reminding us of the good of equality, and the possibilities it affords for a new and better political community.

15 Scathing Early Reviews of Classic Novels

Flavorwire � 15 Scathing Early Reviews of Classic Novels: On Where the Wild Things Are: “The plan and technique of the illustrations are superb. … But they may well prove frightening, accompanied as they are by a pointless and confusing story.” — Publisher’s Weekly, 1963

Colonised and coloniser, empire's poison infects us all | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian

Colonised and coloniser, empire's poison infects us all | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian: .

Successive governments have sought to deny the Kikuyu justice: destroying most of the paperwork, lying about the existence of the rest, seeking to have the case dismissed on technicalities. Their handling of this issue, and the widespread British disavowal of what happened in Kenya, reflects the way this country has been brutalised by its colonial history. Empire did almost as much harm to the imperial nations as it did to their subject peoples.

In his book Exterminate All the Brutes, Sven Lindqvist shows how the ideology that led to Hitler's war and the Holocaust was developed by the colonial powers. Imperialism required an exculpatory myth. It was supplied, primarily, by British theorists.

A kids club where parents die - Salon.com

A kids club where parents die - Salon.com: If you’re wondering why, in the darkest, scariest period in my family’s life, I got the bright idea to sign us up for a club where moms and dads die all time, the answer is: because I didn’t really think it through. I had joined the club, a support organization for people with cancer and their loved ones, at the recommendation of my friend Annie after I was diagnosed with stage-4 melanoma last year. Annie had been the one who’d seen right through my flippant assertion that we were all doing “great,” and had suggested tenderly, “Maybe you need a place to sometimes be not great.” I made the call that day.

Why Things Fail: From Tires to Helicopter Blades, Everything Breaks Eventually | Wired Design | Wired.com

Why Things Fail: From Tires to Helicopter Blades, Everything Breaks Eventually | Wired Design | Wired.com: Product failure is deceptively difficult to understand. It depends not just on how customers use a product but on the intrinsic properties of each part—what it’s made of and how those materials respond to wildly varying conditions. Estimating a product’s lifespan is an art that even the most sophisticated manufacturers still struggle with. And it’s getting harder. In our Moore’s law-driven age, we expect devices to continuously be getting smaller, lighter, more powerful, and more efficient. This thinking has seeped into our expectations about lots of product categories: Cars must get better gas mileage. Bicycles must get lighter. Washing machines need to get clothes cleaner with less water. Almost every industry is expected to make major advances every year. To do this they are constantly reaching for new materials and design techniques. All this is great for innovation, but it’s terrible for reliability.

The Corner Where Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan Meet - NYTimes.com

The Corner Where Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan Meet - NYTimes.com: On the southern outskirts of the city Zaranj, where the last derelict shanties meet an endless, vacant country — beige desert and beige sky, whipped together into a single coalescing haze by the accurately named Wind of 120 Days — there is a place called Ganj: a kind of way station for Afghan migrants trying to reach Iran. Every day except Friday, a little before 2 in the afternoon, hundreds of them gather. Squatting along a metal fence, Hazaras, Tajiks, Pashtuns, Uzbeks and Baluchis from all corners of the country watch the local drivers move through a fleet of dilapidated pickups — raising hoods, inspecting dipsticks. A few hope to continue on to Turkey, Greece and ultimately Western Europe. Most harbor humbler dreams: of living illegally in Iran, of becoming bricklayers, construction laborers, factory workers or farmhands. When one of the drivers announces he is ready to go, as many as 20 migrants pile into the back. The leaf springs flex; the bumper nearly kisses the ground. Arms and legs spill over the sides. Finally, apprehension gives way to expectation, and a few men laugh and wave goodbye.

15 October, 2012

The Cobra Effect:

Freakonomics � The Cobra Effect: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast: So the “cobra effect” refers to a scheme in colonial India where the British governor, or whoever, the person in charge in Delhi, wanted to rid Delhi of cobras. Apparently in his opinion there were too many cobras in Delhi. So he had the bounty placed on cobras. And he expected this would solve the problem. But the population in Delhi, at least some of it, responded by farming cobras. And all of a sudden the administration was getting too many cobra skins. And they decided the scheme wasn’t as smart as initially it appeared and they rescinded the scheme. But by then the cobra farmers had this little population of cobras to deal with. And what do you do if there’s no market? You just release them. And so this significantly, by a few orders of magnitude, worsened the cobra menace in Delhi.

the signal and the noise - on predictions

the signal and the noise - bookforum.com / current issue: Predictions fail for many reasons, but Silver contends that the most frequent cause is a flaw in the forecaster’s assumption, as opposed to an inherent shortcoming in the methodology. The now notorious ratings agencies that continued to stamp AAA ratings on collections of highly risky mortgages into 2008, he notes, would nonetheless present their findings with a full flourish of statistical exactitude, working out the odds of a security paying out to two decimal places. But the larger problem, of course, was with the foundational assumptions that shaped the universe of mortgage-backed securities—the supposition, for example, that the worst-case scenario was a manageable downturn in housing prices that was adequately provided for in their models.

This is the underlying corruption behind the debates.

The 2012 Debates - Memorandum of Understanding Between the Obama and Romney Campaigns

14 October, 2012

Dark Social: We Have the Whole History of the Web Wrong - Alexis C. Madrigal - The Atlantic

Dark Social: We Have the Whole History of the Web Wrong - Alexis C. Madrigal - The Atlantic:
1. The sharing you see on sites like Facebook and Twitter is the tip of the 'social' iceberg. We are impressed by its scale because it's easy to measure.
2. But most sharing is done via dark social means like email and IM that are difficult to measure.
3. According to new data on many media sites, 69% of social referrals came from dark social. 20% came from Facebook.
4. Facebook and Twitter do shift the paradigm from private sharing to public publishing. They structure, archive, and monetize your publications.

11 October, 2012

Why we vote for liars | Jack Shafer

Why we vote for liars | Jack Shafer: The candidates lie about each other, they lie about themselves, they lie about issues they know intimately, and they lie about issues they barely understand. Of Romney, the Washington Post‘s Dana Milbank writes today that the candidate has changed, reversed and obliterated his views so many times that “Whatever Romney’s positions were, they are no longer.”

If either presidential candidate met you, he’d tell you a lie within 15 seconds of shaking your hand, and if he knew he were going to meet your mother, he’d invent a special set of lies for her. Politicians lie not because they’re wicked – though some are – but because they’ve learned that political markets rarely reward honest campaigners. Say what you will about Ralph Nader and H. Ross Perot, but they ran relatively honest campaigns on the issues, and the voters rejected them. The political market spoke many years ago and continues to speak: Telling the truth is not great for campaigns – and if it were, more people would be doing it.

Why Wi-Fi In The Sky Just Got Ridiculously Expensive

Why Wi-Fi In The Sky Just Got Ridiculously Expensive: In other words, people are actually using in-flight Wi-Fi now — and there's enough demand, on certain flights, that Gogo can charge more. Low supply high demand = higher prices. Gogo has seen a 25 percent increase in inflight usage this year, up from 4.3 percent of flyers in the first six months of 2011 to 5.4 percent in the first six months of 2012. Five percent of all flyers doesn't really make it seem like inflight Wi-Fi is in high demand, but this number is for every flight with Gogo. Shorter flights might have usage rates of 1 percent, but the Virgin flights from SF to NY are up to 26 percent of passengers. A lot of people chomping on tiny bit of bandwidth is the reason Gogo either has to hike its rate or change its system altogether.

09 October, 2012

Saroo’s Google-Earth Quest: How an Orphaned Boy Found His Way Home as Grown Man | Vanity Fair

Saroo’s Google-Earth Quest: How an Orphaned Boy Found His Way Home as Grown Man | Vanity Fair: Separated from his older brother at a train station, five-year-old Saroo Munshi Khan found himself lost in the slums of Calcutta. Nearly 20 years later, living in Australia, he began a painstaking search for his birth home, using ingenuity, hazy memories, and Google Earth.

Put a Chair Out - Peggy Noonan's Blog - WSJ

Put a Chair Out - Peggy Noonan's Blog - WSJ: A friend in Texas told me of some local difficulties in getting big Romney lawn signs. Its possible there’s been a run on those signs since the first debate, and maybe local GOP organizations are running out. You know what Romney supporters who cant find lawn signs should do? Put an empty chair on the lawn instead. Just one big empty chair. Says it all. Says it better.

I'm with Sully

Did Obama Just Throw The Entire Election Away?:
The Pew poll is devastating, just devastating. Before the debate, Obama had a 51 - 43 lead; now, Romney has a 49 - 45 lead. That's a simply unprecedented reversal for a candidate in October. Before Obama had leads on every policy issue and personal characteristic; now Romney leads in almost all of them. Obama's performance gave Romney a 12 point swing! I repeat: a 12 point swing.....

I'm trying to see a silver lining. But when a president self-immolates on live TV, and his opponent shines with lies and smiles, and a record number of people watch, it's hard to see how a president and his party recover. I'm not giving up. If the lies and propaganda of the last four years work even after Obama had managed to fight back solidly against them to get a clear and solid lead in critical states, then reality-based government is over in this country again. We're back to Bush-Cheney, but more extreme. We have to find a way to avoid that. Much, much more than Obama's vanity is at stake.
(Photo: Obama as he imploded, by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images.)

Who Destroyed the Economy? The Case Against the Baby Boomers - Jim Tankersley - The Atlantic

Who Destroyed the Economy? The Case Against the Baby Boomers - Jim Tankersley - The Atlantic: Ultimately, members of my father's generation--generally defined as those born between 1946 and 1964--are reaping more than they sowed. They graduated smack into one of the strongest economic expansions in American history. They needed less education to snag a decent-salaried job than their children do, and a college education cost them a small fraction of what it did for their children or will for their grandkids. One income was sufficient to get a family ahead economically. Marginal federal income-tax rates have fallen steadily, with rare exception, since boomers entered the labor force; government retirement benefits have proliferated. At nearly every point in their lives, these Americans chose to slough the costs of those tax cuts and spending hikes onto future generations.

Philip Hensher: Why handwriting matters | Books | The Observer

Philip Hensher: Why handwriting matters | Books | The Observer: It hit me that we are at a moment when handwriting seems to be about to vanish from our lives altogether. At some point in recent years, it has stopped being a necessary and inevitable intermediary between people – a means by which individuals communicate with each other, putting a little bit of their personality into the form of their message as they press the ink-bearing point on to the paper. It has started to become just one of many options, and often an unattractive, elaborate one.

Boris Johnson reminds Tories of what David Cameron has lost | Andrew Rawnsley | Comment is free | The Observer

Boris Johnson reminds Tories of what David Cameron has lost | Andrew Rawnsley | Comment is free | The Observer: The threat is not of a leadership challenge any time soon. The mayor casts a shadow over the prime minister because he allows the Conservative party to imagine how things could be different with someone else in charge. The dream might well be a delusion, but it is nevertheless a seductive fantasy for a growing number of Tories. Boris is a walking, wisecracking reminder to them and to David Cameron of what the Tory leader has lost since he moved into Number 10.

Hussman Funds - Weekly Market Comment: Leap of Faith - October 1, 2012

Hussman Funds - Weekly Market Comment: Leap of Faith - October 1, 2012: Our economic challenges will be addressed in time, but they are likely to involve much greater restructuring and much slower progress on deficit reduction than the capital markets seem to contemplate. Europe will solve its problems, but most likely through a departure of stronger countries from the Euro, followed by a combination of aggressive restructuring and monetization. We will get through all of this, and both the economy and the financial markets will do fine in the longer-term, but to imagine that there will not first be major challenges and disruptions is a leap of faith – and a leap over a century of economic and financial history that screams otherwise.

08 October, 2012

Not even close to realistic but wow what an episode...

Homeland recap: Chipping In | Season 2 Episode 02 | EW.com: Normally, I'm accustomed to picking my jaw up from the floor at the end of a show's season, not after its second episode. But the final minute of Sunday night's Homeland broke open the season in such a shattering, brilliant way that hours later my mind's still aquiver with the wild possibilities that could unfold in the coming weeks.

07 October, 2012

Special Report: Suu Kyi's perilous pivot from icon to party boss | Reuters

Special Report: Suu Kyi's perilous pivot from icon to party boss | Reuters: In August she was named chair of a 15-member parliamentary committee on "rule of law and tranquility," which could further amplify her influence.

Her star power has limits, however. Reforming the constitution to dial back the military's influence remains an NLD priority. That requires three-quarters support in parliament, including from some military delegates - a daunting task even for Suu Kyi.

"She is very persuasive," said Ohn Kyaing, NLD party spokesman and member of parliament. But "without the military's help, we can't change our constitution. We have no chance."

The Things They Carried: At The National Wife-Carrying Championships | The Classical

The Things They Carried: At The National Wife-Carrying Championships | The Classical: In which the author learns the Estonian Carry, meets America's foremost competitors in one of the world's weirdest sports, and nearly dies.

One more quote

Full Text of Obama’s Remarks to United Nations - Washington Wire - WSJ:

That brand of politics – one that pits East against West; South against North; Muslim against Christian, Hindu, and Jew – cannot deliver the promise of freedom. To the youth, it offers only false hope. Burning an American flag will do nothing to educate a child. Smashing apart a restaurant will not fill an empty stomach. Attacking an Embassy won’t create a single job. That brand of politics only makes it harder to achieve what we must do together: educating our children and creating the opportunities they deserve; protecting human rights, and extending democracy’s promise.

Understand that America will never retreat from the world. We will bring justice to those who harm our citizens and our friends. We will stand with our allies and are willing to partner with countries to deepen ties of trade and investment; science and technology; energy and development – efforts that can spark economic growth for all of our people, and stabilize democratic change. But such efforts depend upon a spirit of mutual interest and mutual respect. No government or company; no school or NGO will be confident working in a country where its people are endangered. For partnership to be effective, our citizens must be secure and our efforts must be welcomed.

Full Text of Obama’s Remarks to United Nations - Washington Wire - WSJ

Full Text of Obama’s Remarks to United Nations - Washington Wire - WSJ: The impulse towards intolerance and violence may initially be focused on the West, but over time it cannot be contained. The same impulses toward extremism are used to justify war between Sunnis and Shia, between tribes and clans. It leads not to strength and prosperity but to chaos. In less than two years, we have seen largely peaceful protests bring more change to Muslim-majority countries than a decade of violence. Extremists understand this. And because they have nothing to offer to improve the lives of people, violence is their only way to stay relevant. They do not build, they only destroy.

Traynor's Eye: Meeting A Troll...

Traynor's Eye: Meeting A Troll...:

I pointed out that one of the messages my wife received wishing me dead had arrived when I actually was gravely ill.

I told them of how I'd become so paranoid that I genuinely didn't know who to trust anymore.

I told them of nights when I'd walked the rooms, jumping at shadows and crying over the sleeping forms of my family for fear that they would suffer because of me.

Then it happened...

The Troll burst into tears. His dad gently restraining him from leaving the table.

I put my hand on his shoulder and asked him "Why?"

The Troll sat there for a moment and said "I don't know. I don't know. I'm sorry. It was like a game thing."

A game thing.

In an era of post-truth politics, credibility is like a rainbow | Grist

In an era of post-truth politics, credibility is like a rainbow | Grist: But there are no referees any more, no members of the elite who transcend the partisan war and are respected by both sides. Or at least very few. There are only the sides and their respective worlds. Conservative credibility can only come from the conservative side, and if conservatives refuse to grant it, it doesn’t exist, any more than a rainbow exists when no one’s looking at it.

Exploring past rituals

The Unsolved Mystery of the Tunnels at Baiae | Past Imperfect: But only when the men went deeper into the hillside did the greatest mystery of the tunnels revealed itself. There, hidden at the bottom of a much steeper passage, and behind a second S-bend that prevented anyone approaching from seeing it until the final moment, ran an underground stream. A small “landing stage” projected out into the sulfurous waters, which ran from left to right across the tunnel and disappeared into the darkness. And the river itself was hot to the touch–in places it approached boiling point.

06 October, 2012

Correlation does not imply causation: How the Internet fell in love with a stats-class clich�. - Slate Magazine

Correlation does not imply causation: How the Internet fell in love with a stats-class clich�. - Slate Magazine: When we make a claim about causation, it's not so we can hide out from the world but so we can intervene in it. A false positive means approving drugs that have no effect, or imposing regulations that make no difference, or wasting money in schemes to limit unemployment. As science grows more powerful and government more technocratic, the stakes of correlation—of counterfeit relationships and bogus findings—grow ever larger. The false positive is now more onerous than it's ever been. And all we have to fight it is a catchphrase.

Conroy: Book-banners are invariably idiots

Letters of Note: Book-banners are invariably idiots:

About the novels your county just censored: The Prince of Tides and Beach Music are two of my darlings which I would place before the altar of God and say, "Lord, this is how I found the world you made." They contain scenes of violence, but I was the son of a Marine Corps fighter pilot who killed hundreds of men in Korea, beat my mother and his seven kids whenever he felt like it, and fought in three wars. My youngest brother, Tom, committed suicide by jumping off a fourteen-story building; my French teacher ended her life with a pistol; my aunt was brutally raped in Atlanta; eight of my classmates at The Citadel were killed in Vietnam; and my best friend was killed in a car wreck in Mississippi last summer. Violence has always been a part of my world. I write about it in my books and make no apology to anyone. In Beach Music, I wrote about the Holocaust and lack the literary powers to make that historical event anything other than grotesque.

People cuss in my books. People cuss in my real life. I cuss, especially at Citadel basketball games. I'm perfectly sure that Steve Shamblin and other teachers prepared their students well for any encounters with violence or profanity in my books just as Gene Norris prepared me for the profane language in The Catcher in the Rye forty-eight years ago.

Monetary Mystification by Joseph E. Stiglitz - Project Syndicate

Monetary Mystification by Joseph E. Stiglitz - Project Syndicate:
Nonetheless, the Fed and ECB actions sent three messages that should have given the markets pause. First, they were saying that previous actions have not worked; indeed, the major central banks deserve much of the blame for the crisis. But their ability to undo their mistakes is limited.

Second, the Fed’s announcement that it will keep interest rates at extraordinarily low levels through mid-2015 implied that it does not expect recovery anytime soon. That should be a warning for Europe, whose economy is now far weaker than America’s.

Finally, the Fed and the ECB were saying that markets will not quickly restore full employment on their own. A stimulus is needed. That should serve as a rejoinder to those in Europe and America who are calling for just the opposite – further austerity.

But the stimulus that is needed – on both sides of the Atlantic – is a fiscal stimulus. Monetary policy has proven ineffective, and more of it is unlikely to return the economy to sustainable growth.

Facebook: The Making of 1 Billion Users - Businessweek

Facebook: The Making of 1 Billion Users - Businessweek: Facebook absorbed Silicon Valley’s hacker ethos and amplified it. Tech companies normally do controlled beta versions of their technologies; Facebook doesn’t beta anything. It runs as an unending series of quick, on-the-fly tests with actual customers. Engineers race to put up new features, see if they work, and make tweaks to fix them if they don’t. Even trainees who haven’t finished their six-week indoctrination program are asked to work on the live site.

Cultural Technology and the Making of K-Pop : The New Yorker

Cultural Technology and the Making of K-Pop : The New Yorker: K-pop is an East-West mash-up. The performers are mostly Korean, and their mesmerizing synchronized dance moves, accompanied by a complex telegraphy of winks and hand gestures, have an Asian flavor, but the music sounds Western: hip-hop verses, Euro-pop choruses, rapping, and dubstep breaks. K-pop has become a fixture of pop charts not only in Korea but throughout Asia, including Japan—the world’s second-biggest music market, after the U.S.—and Taiwan, Singapore, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia. South Korea, a country of less than fifty million, somehow figured out how to make pop hits for more than a billion and a half other Asians, contributing two billion dollars a year to Korea’s economy, according to the BBC. K-pop concerts in Hong Kong and on mainland China are already lucrative, and no country is better positioned to sell recorded music in China, a potentially enormous market, should its endemic piracy be stamped out. Yet, despite K-pop’s prominence in Asia, until recently few in the United States had heard of it.

The US presidential debates' illusion of political choice | Glenn Greenwald | Comment is free | The Guardian

The US presidential debates' illusion of political choice | Glenn Greenwald | Comment is free | The Guardian: In part this is because presidential elections are now conducted almost entirely like a tawdry TV reality show. Personality quirks and trivialities about the candidates dominate coverage, and voter choices, leaving little room for substantive debates.

But in larger part, this exclusion is due to the fact that, despite frequent complaints that America is plagued by a lack of bipartisanship, the two major party candidates are in full-scale agreement on many of the nation's most pressing political issues. As a result these are virtually ignored, drowned out by a handful of disputes that the parties relentlessly exploit to galvanise their support base and heighten fear of the other side.

04 October, 2012

Edwin P. Wilson | The Economist

Edwin P. Wilson | The Economist: NOTHING about Edwin P. Wilson was quite as it appeared. If you met him at an airport—en route to Geneva, London, New York, on joking terms with the Concorde stewardesses—he looked like any other globetrotting businessman. In fact, he was a spy. The companies on the card he flashed from his pocket, Consultants International, or World Marine, Inc., or any of five dozen others, sounded plausible. They were all CIA fronts. He was tall, loud, assertive, and a fund of great stories told over late-night Scotch—how he’d spent an evening clubbing with Somoza, how he’d killed Che Guevara. The real stories, though, he didn’t tell.

Inequality and Its Perils - NationalJournal.com

Inequality and Its Perils - NationalJournal.com: According to a recent Congressional Budget Office report, those in the top 1 percent of households doubled their share of pretax income from 1979 to 2007; the bottom 80 percent saw their share fall. Worse, while the average income for the top 1 percent more than tripled (after inflation), the bottom 80 percent saw only feeble income growth, on the order of just 20 percent over nearly 30 years. The rising tide was raising a few boats hugely and most other boats not very much.

It thus began to seem that the old bargain, in which inequality bought rising incomes for all, had failed—much as the Keynesian bargain (bigger government, faster growth) had failed two generations earlier. “The majority of Americans have simply not been benefiting from the country’s growth,” Stiglitz wrote, overstating things—but not by a lot.

Presidential Debates - Barack Obama and Mitt Romney - GQ October 2012: Politics: GQ

Presidential Debates - Barack Obama and Mitt Romney - GQ October 2012: Politics: GQ: What's clear is this: When the feed goes live, both men will be as assiduously trained and groomed as two spaniels at Westminster. But then the leashes will come off, and for ninety minutes Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will perform an American tradition that has historically not brought out their best.

"For all of their ego and confidence, it's a huge amount of pressure," one Republican veteran of the debate trade told me. With a forlorn chuckle, he added, "The only thing that's worse is to be someone like me who spends months and months working with these guys—and then they go onstage, and you're absolutely helpless."

Why School Should Focus on Engagement Instead of Lectures | TIME Ideas | TIME.com

Why School Should Focus on Engagement Instead of Lectures | TIME Ideas | TIME.com: When we free ourselves from the notion of one person delivering information at the front of a classroom at a set pace, it allows us to completely rethink our assumptions of what a classroom or school can be. We could then consider having multiple teachers in the same room working with students of multiple skill levels and age groups. A bell would no longer need to be rung to artificially stop one subject and to start the next. Ironically, by removing lecture from class time, we can make classrooms more engaging and human.

Buttonwood: The secrets of Buffett’s success | The Economist

Buttonwood: The secrets of Buffett’s success | The Economist: Mr Buffett has been able to exploit this anomaly. He is well-known for buying shares in high-quality companies when they are temporarily down on their luck (Coca-Cola in the 1980s after the New Coke debacle and General Electric during the financial crisis in 2008). “It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price,” he once said. He has also steered largely clear of more volatile sectors, such as technology, where he cannot be sure that a company has a sustainable advantage.

Without leverage, however, Mr Buffett’s returns would have been unspectacular. The researchers estimate that Berkshire, on average, leveraged its capital by 60%, significantly boosting the company’s return. Better still, the firm has been able to borrow at a low cost; its debt was AAA-rated from 1989 to 2009.

03 October, 2012

The Forgotten Mapmaker: Nokia Has Better Maps Than Apple and Maybe Even Google - Alexis C. Madrigal - The Atlantic

The Forgotten Mapmaker: Nokia Has Better Maps Than Apple and Maybe Even Google - Alexis C. Madrigal - The Atlantic: The car is not inconspicuous. Rising out of the roof, there is a tower of components stacked on top of one another. It folds down for travel, but deployed, it's probably six feet tall.

The Volkswagen is stocked with $200,000 worth of equipment (that's Fox's number) including six cameras for capturing street signs, a panoramic camera for doing Bing Street View imagery, two GPS antennae (one on the wheel, the other on the roof), three laptops, and the crown jewel -- a LIDAR system that shoots 64 lasers 360 degrees around the car to create 3D images of the landscape the car passes through.

Website pagination: Stories should load into a single page every time. - Slate Magazine

Website pagination: Stories should load into a single page every time. - Slate Magazine: Slate’s editorial guidelines call for articles to be split into multiple pages once they hit the 1,000-word mark, so I have to keep this brief: Splitting articles and photo galleries into multiple pages is evil. It should stop.

Pagination is one of the worst design and usability sins on the Web, the kind of obvious no-no that should have gone out with blinky text, dancing cat animations, and autoplaying music. It shows constant, quiet contempt for people who should be any news site’s highest priority—folks who want to read articles all the way to the end.

Ina Drew, Jamie Dimon and JPMorgan Chase’s $6 Billion Mistake - NYTimes.com

Ina Drew, Jamie Dimon and JPMorgan Chase’s $6 Billion Mistake - NYTimes.com: Drew spent the first weeks after she left JP�Morgan doing what she always did: heading into Manhattan, to the corner of Park Avenue and 47th Street. Instead of entering 270 Park, however, she went to 277 Park, directly across the street. Many large companies have offices known to some as elephant graveyards, where retired chief executives are given offices and a secretary. As she was being debriefed by company lawyers, Drew was given a temporary office in JPMorgan Chase’s elephant graveyard, which happened to be in the old Chemical building, where Drew spent so many years on the ascent. She was surprised and pained that Dimon didn’t call her right away. “I’m sure it’s for legal reasons,” she told a friend. She described herself as “devastated.”

The Energy-Water Nexus | Do the Math

The Energy-Water Nexus | Do the Math: A typical San Diego residence uses 14 hundred cubic feet (1 hcf = 748 U.S. gallons = 2831 L) of water each month—working out to 138 gal/day (520 L/day) per person, assuming an average of 2.5 people per residence. Based on backpacking experience, this is more than one hundred times as much water as is necessary to satisfy basic needs.

02 October, 2012

Simpson’s Paradox: A Cautionary Tale in Advanced Analytics - Web Exclusive Article - Significance Magazine

Simpson’s Paradox: A Cautionary Tale in Advanced Analytics - Web Exclusive Article - Significance Magazine: As data and computational power continue to grow exponentially, analysts have gained unprecedented power to build and promulgate data-driven decision models, shifting business practice away from traditional decision making practices rooted in industry knowledge and intuition. However to paraphrase Voltaire (or Uncle Ben from Spiderman), with great power comes great responsibility. It is obvious that poorly or naively performed statistical analyses can yield incomplete or ambiguous answers. Phenomena such as Simpson’s Paradox illustrate the stronger point that unless used with sufficient insight and domain knowledge, even simple statistical analyses can downright mislead and motivate misguided decisions.

TV's Best News Show May Also Be Its Least Appreciated - Peter Osnos - The Atlantic

TV's Best News Show May Also Be Its Least Appreciated - Peter Osnos - The Atlantic: Today's PBS NewsHour-- the offspring of Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer's evening offering of reasoned appraisals of events here and abroad, dating in its earliest incarnation to the mid-1970s -- is one of journalism's most respected institutions. Attracting a nightly audience of about a million viewers, and with an increasingly active presence on the Internet, the PBS NewsHour should be lauded regularly for what it provides.

But perhaps because of its ingrained tradition of avoiding the self-promotional clamor of so much else in broadcast news, the NewsHour rarely gets the recognition it deserves. The experienced team of anchors, correspondents, and commentators can be relied on to take the most complex and controversial issues and explain them in terms that offer insights, if not necessarily clear-cut answers.

Security at Y-12 nun too good | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Security at Y-12 nun too good | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: In the early hours of July 28, Megan Rice, the now-famous 82-year-old nun and activist, and her accomplices -- Greg Boertje-Obed, a 57-year-old housepainter and veteran, and Michael Walli, a 63-year-old gardener -- broke into the Fort Knox of nuclear facilities: the Y-12 National Security Complex, which houses 300 to 400 metric tons of bomb-grade uranium. The three activists knew they were risking their lives by breaking into the facility; the guards at Y-12 are sanctioned to use deadly force on trespassers. But, as Rice told the Project on Government Oversight, the threesome never really believed they would make it past the first "PIDAS" (perimeter intrusion detection and assessment system) fence, which they assumed was probably electrified. It wasn't. The activists used bolt cutters to get through three fences surrounding the complex completely un-noticed. Finally, around 4:30 a.m., Y-12 guards responded to what they thought was a maintenance crew banging on the walls.

01 October, 2012

Rita Crundwell and the Dixon Embezzlement - Chicago magazine - December 2012 - Chicago

Rita Crundwell and the Dixon Embezzlement - Chicago magazine - December 2012 - Chicago: The mayor would have been even more aghast had he known what the world soon would: the amount the feds allege that Crundwell stole. Since 2006, according to an indictment filed in May in U.S. District Court, Crundwell filched some $30 million, or an average of $5 million a year—more than half of Dixon’s entire operating budget over that period. From 1990 to 2006, she stole another $23 million, the feds say, bringing the grand total to an unthinkable $53 million.

If the allegations against Crundwell prove true, she not only is the biggest municipal embezzler in U.S. history but ranks fifth among embezzlers of any kind, says Christopher Marquet, CEO of Marquet International, a Boston-based security consulting firm that specializes in employee misconduct. And though the amount that Crundwell is alleged to have stolen does not reach Madoffian proportions, it’s still “an outrageously, grotesquely huge amount,” Marquet says. “That she was able to do that and no one smelled it—it almost seems not possible.”

Slugfest - James Fallows - The Atlantic

Slugfest - James Fallows - The Atlantic: We now have a longer debate-performance track record for Mitt Romney than for any other figure with national ambitions. (Hillary Clinton first entered debates in her own right, rather than on her husband’s behalf, 12 years ago. Joe Biden ran for president in 1988 but then sat out national campaigns for the next 20 years.) And the meaning of that record is very clear: Romney is strong when prepared, and weak and error-prone when forced to improvise.

Some politicians have a gift for talking their way past factual details they’ve forgotten or complex policy questions they have yet to resolve. Romney does not

Obama vs. Obama at debates - Glenn Thrush - POLITICO.com

Obama vs. Obama at debates - Glenn Thrush - POLITICO.com: President Barack Obama’s most dangerous opponent in the trio of upcoming presidential debates isn’t Mitt Romney.

It’s himself.

The president has been working on blunting his barbs nearly as much as he’s been trying to sharpen his policy responses in closed-door sessions.....

A Public Service Reminder: Simpson-Bowles Is Terrible - NYTimes.com

A Public Service Reminder: Simpson-Bowles Is Terrible - NYTimes.com: Simpson-Bowles is terrible. It mucks around with taxes, but is obsessed with lowering marginal rates despite a complete absence of evidence that this is important. It offers nothing on Medicare that isn’t already in the Affordable Care Act. And it raises the Social Security retirement age because life expectancy has risen — completely ignoring the fact that life expectancy has only gone up for the well-off and well-educated, while stagnating or even declining among the people who need the program most.

Yes, I know, inside the Beltway Simpson and Bowles have become sacred figures. But the people doing that elevation are the same people who told us that Paul Ryan was the answer to our fiscal prayers.

The Mattress Racket

The Mattress Racket:
Rohin Dhar exposes it:
The mattress industry is rotten. It’s controlled by a handful of players
that make Google-esque margins for no intrinsic reason. Through a
combination of an oligopolistic market structure, heavy-handed sales
techniques and opaque product naming conventions, mattress manufacturers
profit far in excess of the value they provide consumers.

Why Do America’s Super-Rich Feel Victimized by Obama? : The New Yorker

Why Do America’s Super-Rich Feel Victimized by Obama? : The New Yorker: Evident throughout the letter is a sense of victimization prevalent among so many of America’s wealthiest people. In an extreme version of this, the rich feel that they have become the new, vilified underclass. T. J. Rodgers, a libertarian and a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, has taken to comparing Barack Obama’s treatment of the rich to the oppression of ethnic minorities—an approach, he says, that the President, as an African-American, should be particularly sensitive to. Clifford S. Asness, the founding partner of the hedge fund AQR Capital Management, wrote an open letter to the President in 2009, after Obama blamed “a small group of speculators” for Chrysler’s bankruptcy. Asness suggested that “hedge funds really need a community organizer,” and accused the White House of “bullying” the financial sector. Dan Loeb, a hedge-fund manager who supported Obama in 2008, has compared his Wall Street peers who still support the President to “battered wives.” “He really loves us and when he beats us, he doesn’t mean it; he just gets a little angry,” Loeb wrote in an e-mail in December, 2010, to a group of Wall Street financiers.

Those between MLK and the Present Day

Ole Miss, 50 Years Since Desegregation - NYTimes.com: At 50, I am part of a generation of African-Americans who were not Medgar Evers, James Meredith, Martin Luther King Jr. or countless others whose names we’ll never know. We did not take the beatings, feel the sting of the hoses, endure a thousand and one indignities as we lived our daily lives. We are old enough to have attended segregated schools by law, to have felt the tug of fear and angst before we could explain it. Yet we are young enough to have college educations we needed only to apply ourselves to achieve, to own iPhones on which we can read news of a president who looks like us.

The economics of video games

The economics of video games: Inflation can be a headache for any central banker. But it takes a certain type of economist to know what to do when a belligerent spaceship fleet attacks an interstellar trading post, causing mineral prices to surge across the galaxy.

Eyj�lfur Gu�mundsson is just that economist. Working for the Icelandic company CCP Games, he oversees the virtual economy of the massively multiplayer video game Eve Online. Within this world, players build their own spaceships and traverse a galaxy of 7,500 star systems. They buy and sell raw materials, creating their own fluctuating markets. They speculate on commodities. They form trade coalitions and banks.

It’s a sprawling economy, with more than 400,000 players participating in its virtual market — more people, in fact, than live in Iceland. Inflation, deflation and even recessions can occur. Which is why, from his office in Reyjkjavik, Gu�mundsson leads a team of eight analysts poring over reams of data to make sure everything in Eve Online is running smoothly. His job bears more than a passing resemblance to that of Ben Bernanke, who oversees the U.S. economy from the Federal Reserve.