31 July, 2013

I don't think most of these should have been leaked. Manning broke the law and indiscriminately released information to foreign agents.

What we know thanks to Bradley Mannning’s leaks to WikiLeaks | The Raw Story: Bradley Manning, a 25-year-old US private, downloaded more than 700,000 classified documents from US military servers and passed them to WikiLeaks. The Guardian was one of several news organisations to publish a series of stories based on the contents of the files. Below are 10 of the most revelatory:

The Daily Dot - The blockbuster heist that rocked the Deep Web

The Daily Dot - The blockbuster heist that rocked the Deep Web: Before he gutted and nearly destroyed one of the most influential criminal markets on the Internet, a man using the nickname Boneless published a detailed guide on the art of disappearing.

“I have some experience in this area,” he wrote, detailing how fugitives should best go about buying phony passports, dodging cops, and keeping their stories straight.

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.

29 July, 2013

Why millennials are leaving the church – CNN Belief Blog - CNN.com Blogs

Why millennials are leaving the church – CNN Belief Blog - CNN.com Blogs: What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance.

We want an end to the culture wars. We want a truce between science and faith. We want to be known for what we stand for, not what we are against.

We want to ask questions that don’t have predetermined answers.

We want churches that emphasize an allegiance to the kingdom of God over an allegiance to a single political party or a single nation.

We want our LGBT friends to feel truly welcome in our faith communities.

We want to be challenged to live lives of holiness, not only when it comes to sex, but also when it comes to living simply, caring for the poor and oppressed, pursuing reconciliation, engaging in creation care and becoming peacemaker

I like this Pope a lot. He's emulating leadership.

Pope Signals Openness to Gay Priests - WSJ.com: The pope, who said he was too tired to take questions on his way to Brazil, appeared indefatigable during the trip home. He dispensed reading tips—advising reporters to "read and reread" Fyodor Dostoyevsky—and discussed his plans to visit Jerusalem on his next overseas trip.

Through it all, he maintained a Zen-like state of calm, even as the plane hit turbulence and the seat-belt lights flashed.

28 July, 2013

Something More Wrong | The Big Roundtable

Something More Wrong | The Big Roundtable: Ninety percent of the time, says Dr. Robin Hamilton, a psychiatrist and associate clinical director who played a large role in instituting DBT here in 1995, the ward is calm, and there are few incidents. Sometimes, though, palpable tension creeps through these halls. One morning in early February, a new sign appears on the small dayroom door: “Spitting is the worst thing you can do to someone. It’s nasty and germs. INSTEAD USE YOUR WORDS.” Someone has drawn a mouth with a tongue sticking out. The sign is likely a part of Rodriguez’s therapy; she spat on another patient the day before and was required to fill out a behavioral chain analysis, a worksheet that asks aggravated patients to describe what initial emotional conflict led to their “solution” of fighting or hurting themselves.

BBC News - India: Army 'mistook planets for spy drones'

BBC News - India: Army 'mistook planets for spy drones': India's army reportedly spent six months watching "Chinese spy drones" violating its air space, only to find out they were actually Jupiter and Venus.

Greece's Unemployed Young: A Great Depression Steals the Nation's Future - Businessweek

Greece's Unemployed Young: A Great Depression Steals the Nation's Future - Businessweek: Greece’s jobs crisis is a window into a wider emergency that threatens the future of Europe. Across the continent, a prolonged slump has disproportionately affected the young, with nearly one in four under the age of 25 out of work, according to the European Commission. (In the U.S., youth unemployment is 16.2 percent.) That understates the severity of the situation in Italy and Portugal, where youth unemployment rates have soared above 35 percent; Spain’s is 53.2 percent, the second-highest after Greece, at 55.3 percent. European Union leaders have announced an initiative aimed at guaranteeing that all young people receive a job, apprenticeship, or more education within four months of joining the ranks of the unemployed. Governments have pledged €8 billion over two years to combat unemployment in Europe’s worst-hit countries, and the European Investment Bank is offering €18 billion in loans to encourage hiring by small and midsize businesses.

Tangled Web: Cyberwar Fears Pose Dangers of Unnecessary Escalation | RAND

Tangled Web: Cyberwar Fears Pose Dangers of Unnecessary Escalation | RAND: As in the physical world, what one state regards as standard operating procedure may be interpreted as anything but by another state. But in cyberspace, two factors exacerbate the problem. First, because states constantly penetrate one another's computer networks, they can observe many things about each other, but only in partial ways, which could lead to false conclusions and miscalculations. Second, cyberwar is too new and untested for a universal set of standard operating procedures — much less a well-grounded understanding of another state's standard operating procedures — to have evolved.

They Know Much More Than You Think by James Bamford | The New York Review of Books

They Know Much More Than You Think by James Bamford | The New York Review of Books: Still, the US intelligence agencies also seem to have adopted Orwell’s idea of doublethink—“to be conscious of complete truthfulness,” he wrote, “while telling carefully constructed lies.” For example, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, was asked at a Senate hearing in March whether “the NSA collect[s] any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.” Clapper’s answer: “No, sir…. Not wittingly.”

Three months later, following the revelations of the phone-log program in which the NSA collects telephone data—the numbers of both callers and the length of the calls—on hundreds of millions of Americans, Clapper switched to doublethink. He said that his previous answer was not a lie; he just chose to respond in the “least untruthful manner.” With such an Orwellian concept of the truth now being used, it is useful to take a look at what the government has been telling the public about its surveillance activities over the years, and compare it with what we know now as a result of the top secret documents and other information released by, among others, the former NSA contract employee Edward Snowden.

At 99, a St. Petersburg man finds meaning in the working life | Tampa Bay Times

At 99, a St. Petersburg man finds meaning in the working life | Tampa Bay Times: Newton Murray — everyone calls him Mr. Newton — is 99 years old, making him the oldest employee of Bama seafood and probably among the oldest anywhere. But he has no thoughts of retirement. After he puts away his cooler, he will set to work tidying up Bama's vast parking lots.

If you saw him there, you might think he was just holding up a broom. But it's really the other way around.

The Secret Service Agent Who Collared Cybercrooks by Selling Them Fake IDs | Threat Level | Wired.com

The Secret Service Agent Who Collared Cybercrooks by Selling Them Fake IDs | Threat Level | Wired.com: The government calls it “Operation Open Market,” a four-year investigation resulting, so far, in four federal grand jury indictments against 55 defendants in 10 countries, facing a cumulative millennium of prison time. What many of those alleged scammers, carders, thieves, and racketeers have in common is one simple mistake: They bought their high-quality fake IDs from a sophisticated driver’s license counterfeiting factory secretly established, owned, and operated by the United States Secret Service.

Big Law Firms in Trouble: When the Money Dries Up | New Republic

Big Law Firms in Trouble: When the Money Dries Up | New Republic: Part of the reason the law-firm ecosystem has changed so dramatically in a single generation is greed: The most profitable partners steadily discarded their underachieving colleagues, because they didn’t want to share the spoils. And part of the reason is the brutal recession that began in 2007, prompting corporations to slash every conceivable expense, law firms included. But the biggest problem is that there are simply many, many more high-priced lawyers today than there is high-priced legal work.

27 July, 2013

Lots of things wrong about this article

Worries Mount as Syria Lures West’s Muslims - NYTimes.com: More Westerners are now fighting in Syria than fought in conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia or Yemen, according to the officials. They go to Syria motivated by the desire to help the people suffering there by overthrowing Mr. Assad. But there is growing concern that they will come back with a burst of jihadist zeal, some semblance of military discipline, enhanced weapons and explosives skills, and, in the worst case, orders from affiliates of Al Qaeda to carry out terrorist strikes.

The Pixel Painter

The Pixel Painter from The Pixel Painter on Vimeo.

Refugee camp for 160k

Twitter / HalaGorani: Jaw-dropping aerial photo of ...

Most cities are like detroit

MORE CITIES HAVE DETROIT-LIKE CANCER: ‘flashing warning light on America’s fiscal dashboard’ – OBAMA MESSES WITH TEXAS – SPITZER WIFE gives him the Heisman -- MARIE ABERGER heads West - POLITICO Playbook - POLITICO.com: “Nearly half of Detroit’s liabilities stem from promises of pensions and health care to its workers when they retire. American states and cities typically offer their employees defined-benefit pensions based on years of service and final salary. These are supposed to be covered by funds set aside for the purpose. By the states’ own estimates, their pension pots are only 73% funded. That is bad enough, but nearly all states apply an optimistic discount rate to their obligations, making the liabilities seem smaller than they are. If a more sober one is applied, the true ratio is a terrifying 48% … The hole in Illinois’s pension pot is equivalent to 241% of its annual tax revenues: for Connecticut, the figure is 190%; for Kentucky, 141%; for New Jersey, 137%. … Americans are living longer, even in Detroit, so promises to pensioners are costlier to keep. But the problem is also political. Governors and mayors have long offered fat pensions to public servants, thus buying votes today and sending the bill to future taxpayers. …

26 July, 2013

FreedomWorks Plans Push to Persuade People Not to Get Health Insurance | Mother Jones

FreedomWorks Plans Push to Persuade People Not to Get Health Insurance | Mother Jones: So not only are they going to be encouraging people to break the law, they're literally going to be encouraging people not to buy health insurance. Nice. I wonder if FreedomWorks plans to help out the first person who takes them up on this and then contracts leukemia? I'm guessing probably not.

What's next? A campaign to get people to skip wearing seat belts? To skip using baby seats in cars? To skip vaccinations for their kids? It's times like this that words fail those of us with a few remaining vestiges of human decency.

25 July, 2013

QB's piano talent a memorable gift for 11-year-old cancer patient - CBSSports

QB's piano talent a memorable gift for 11-year-old cancer patient - CBSSports: The final thing to know about the quarterback in this story is that he won't tell you the whole story. You already read about how he handled the news that he played football at Memphis -- by simply not telling Bree or Bree's family that he played football at Memphis. He wasn't there as a football player, so what did it matter?

He pulled the same thing on me. We talked for a while on Wednesday afternoon, and he let me think all he did Monday night was play the piano for Bree. Only after talking to Bree's mom did I learn that Karam had already been there for a long time Monday, helping the kids at Target House conduct a scavenger hunt. A good scavenger hunt has several adults showing the kids that this is the coolest thing ever. Jacob Karam can do that.

Who Serves in the U.S. Military? Mapping Enlisted Troops and Officers | GeoCurrents

Who Serves in the U.S. Military? Mapping Enlisted Troops and Officers | GeoCurrents: Conventional wisdom holds that military service disproportionately attracts men and women from disadvantaged backgrounds, many of whom are members of minority groups. Many people believe that troops enlist primarily because they have few options, not because they want to serve their country. Others believe that the war in Iraq has forced the military to lower its recruiting standards. A report from Heritage Foundation published in 2008 shows this conventional wisdom is far from the truth. This study compared military volunteers to the civilian population on four demographic characteristics: household income, education level, racial and ethnic background, and regional origin. As a result, we now know who serves in the active-duty ranks of the U.S. all-volunteer military.

Boris Johnson!

Forget about trying to contain Germany – we should copy it - Telegraph: the reunification of Germany has been one of the greatest success stories of modern geopolitics. I look around modern Berlin, and I don’t see Prussian revanchism. I see not the slightest sign of German militarism; I haven’t noticed anyone clicking their heels or restraining their arms from performing a Strangelovian fascist salute. I see a culture so generally cool and herbivorous that the bicycle is king. I see a paradise for cyclists, where the helmetless hordes weave and wobble over the wide and tree-lined roads, and a Mercedes supercar will wait deferentially for a family to wander past his purring snout. The most serious public order problem at the moment is the tendency of Berliners to pursue the logic of their Freik�rpeskultur by actually fornicating in their many magnificent parks; and such is the climate of political correctness that they decided to means-test the fines. So if you are caught in flagrante in the bushes, and you have a job, you get fined 150 euros — but only 34 euros if you are unemployed. If that isn’t broad-mindedness, I don’t know what is.

A Jewish Quantum State

615 - The Eruv, a Jewish Quantum State | Strange Maps | Big Think: Needless to say, there is plenty of lively debate about the exact definition of an eruv, and consequently about the validity of certain eruvs. The scope of these shabbos [11] strings is limited in any case by a very practical consideration: each week, the entire length of the wire and other elements that constitute the eruv’s boundary needs to be rechecked, repaired in case of a breach, and reapproved in time for the start of the sabbath on Friday evening.

As crucial as the establishment of an eruv is for the observant Jewish community, for the outside world it is of no practical consequence - all but invisible and completely irrelevant, except for such times when utility and public works that may interfere with the eruv’s integrity. Ideally such issues can be resolved as an element of public works management.

Atul Gawande: How Do Good Ideas Spread? : The New Yorker

Atul Gawande: How Do Good Ideas Spread? : The New Yorker: In our era of electronic communications, we’ve come to expect that important innovations will spread quickly. Plenty do: think of in-vitro fertilization, genomics, and communications technologies themselves. But there’s an equally long list of vital innovations that have failed to catch on. The puzzle is why.

The Unprecedented—and Contemptible—Attempts to Sabotage Obamacare - NationalJournal.com

The Unprecedented—and Contemptible—Attempts to Sabotage Obamacare - NationalJournal.com: What is going on now to sabotage Obamacare is not treasonous—just sharply beneath any reasonable standards of elected officials with the fiduciary responsibility of governing. A good example is the letter Senate Republican Leaders Mitch McConnell and Cornyn sent to the NFL, demanding that it not cooperate with the Obama administration in a public-education campaign to tell their fans about what benefits would be available to them and how the plan would work—a letter that clearly implied deleterious consequences if the league went ahead anyhow. McConnell and Cornyn got their desired result. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell quickly capitulated. (When I came to Washington in 1969-70, one of my great pleasures was meeting and getting to know Charles Goodell, the courageous Republican senator from New York who took on his own president on Vietnam and was quietly courageous on many other controversial issues. Roger Goodell is his son—although you would not know it from this craven action.)

24 July, 2013

How to Fix Law School: A Symposium | New Republic

How to Fix Law School: A Symposium | New Republic: Many of the challenges facing the legal profession can be reduced to supply and demand: too many lawyers chasing too little work, which itself results from too many people going to law school. And why do people go to law school? Often it’s a failure of imagination. As a former professor of mine put it, “Law school is the great American default option for smart kids who can’t stand the sight of blood.” If you’re intelligent, ambitious, and undecided about your future, going directly from college to law school is the path of least resistance. Too little resistance, and not enough deliberation—which is why law schools should follow the model of many business schools and require incoming students to have at least two years of post-undergraduate experience.

23 July, 2013

The two cultures of intellectuals and farmers – Anne Buchanan – Aeon

The two cultures of intellectuals and farmers – Anne Buchanan – Aeon:
Farmers have an old saying: ‘I’ll keep farming until the money runs out.’ Working a small farm makes for a hardscrabble life — no time off and always something more to do, usually for very little pay. But, after the animals are hayed, grained, watered, milked and midwifed, sick ones taken care of, hooves trimmed, bales of hay stacked in the haymow or the driveway ploughed — and more often than not, the neighbour’s too — broken pipes fixed, the neighbour’s errant cows shooed back into their fields, milk processed and yogurt made, the broken hay tedder repaired midfield, lunch served and dinner prepared; if there’s any time left in the day, and amazingly there often is, Jennifer and Melvin are free to do whatever they want to with it. They answer to no one. They can make jam, build retaining walls, throw together a loaf of bread, make soap, sew scrub suits for the daughter who’s a nurse, install an outdoor wood-burning furnace. Melvin has even been known to come in from milking at 2am and pick up whatever history book he’s currently reading and not get to bed until dawn. It’s a demanding way to live, but Jennifer and Melvin love it. Small farmers have to love what they do, because they’re not in it for the money.

“Meat Cleavers Work” Ctd � The Dish

“Meat Cleavers Work” Ctd � The Dish: Congress and the President completely failed us, though I blame Congress more because at least Obama tried to fix things as the deadline loomed. Congress abdicated its responsibility to make tough budgetary decisions based on reasonable goals and compromises. Wilkinson’s approval of sequestration is approval of a Congress that decided to bury its head in the sand rather than do its job.

I work in law enforcement for a Federal agency, and I have been furloughed. Prior to sequestration’s going into effect, my agency’s budget was already pretty lean, since Congress had already cut billions out of the budget in the preceding years. Those cuts resulted in reduced training and hiring, meaning there were few of us to complete more work with less know-how. The sequestration cut into that budget further still. But nothing else is left to cut except my hours. That doesn’t make us leaner and more streamlined; it just makes us less efficient.

In a law enforcement agency, when there are fewer resources on hand, we take on fewer cases and drop more cases instead of developing them. More people are absolutely getting away with breaking the law because of sequestration.

If Kerry fails, Israel will be an apartheid state 'and that didn't work too well the last time,' CENTCOM general warns

If Kerry fails, Israel will be an apartheid state 'and that didn't work too well the last time,' CENTCOM general warns:
I would tell you that the current situation is unsustainable. It's got to be directly addressed. We don't want to turn this over to our children, the same thing that you and I have lived with our entire adult lives. We have got to find a way to make the two state solution that Democrat and Republican administrations have supported, we've got to get there, and the chances for it are starting to ebb because of the settlements and where they're at, are going to make it impossible to maintain the two state option. For example, if I'm Jerusalem and I put 500 Jewish settlers out here to the east and there's ten thousand Arab settlers in here, if we draw the border to include ‘em, either it ceases to be a Jewish state or you say the Arabs don't get to vote -- apartheid. That didn't work too well the last time I saw that practiced in a country. So we've got to work on this with a sense of urgency, and I paid a military security price every day as a commander of CENTCOM because the Americans were seen as biased in support of Israel and that moderates all the moderate Arabs who want to be with us because they can't come out publicly in support of people who don't want to show respect for the Arab Palestinians. So [Kerry's] right on target with what he's doing. I just hope the protagonists want peace as much as he does.

Talking to Julian J. Mesri: A Cultural Democracy in the Performing Arts Interview | The Brooklyn Commune Project

Talking to Juli�n J. Mesri: A Cultural Democracy in the Performing Arts Interview | The Brooklyn Commune Project: 7. Describe an ideal situation in which your work is presented. Is there anything you’d like your audience to know about you before viewing your work?

A small theatre that’s part of a community where a young and old, diverse audience comes together. Grabs a drink before in the cafe attached to the theatre or across the street. You see a show, maybe another show, you grab a dinner afterward and have a conversation; but most importantly you come back into the city with a renewed sense of awareness. You aren’t convinced of anything, you aren’t indoctrinated, but you’re thinking, you’re active, and you’re trying to find your place in this city, in this society. It mirrors what we do as artists, we carve out a place for us in order to learn our place, and figure this whole thing out. But the beauty of theatre is that it happens in a community, in a city, and it’s a lot more fun and productive if we do it together.

Never imagine a must:

The Atheist Daughter of a Notable Christian Apologist Shares Her Story: Someone once asked me if I would trade in my childhood for another, if I had the chance, and my answer was no, not for anything.
 My reason is that, without that childhood, I wouldn’t understand what freedom truly is — freedom from a life centered around obedience and submission, freedom to think anything, freedom from guilt and shame, freedom from the perpetual heavy obligation to keep every thought pure. Nothing I’ve ever encountered in my life has been so breathtakingly beautiful. 

Freedom is my God now, and I love this one a thousand times more than I ever loved the last one.

This is a facinating project, and a wonderful exhibit of the drama of everyday life.

40 Days of Dating

Veteran Jesuit explains choice to return to lay life | National Catholic Reporter

Veteran Jesuit explains choice to return to lay life | National Catholic Reporter: It is time. It is time to abandon our refusal to see that our very environment is central to the survival and well being of ALL earthlings. It is time for the Church to turn her attention from saving face to saving the earth, from saving souls to saving the planet. It is time to focus on the sacred bond that exists between us and the earth. It is time to join the Cosmic Christ in the Great Work of mending, repairing, nurturing, and protecting our evolving creation. It is time for a new vision of a universal Church whose all-inclusive justice and unconditional love, an expression of Christ consciousness and the work of the Holy Spirit, empowers ALL and can lead to a future that preserves the true right to life of all of God's creatures. This includes future generations who will bless us for allowing them to live, evolve, and flourish. Can't you hear them crying out, "I want to live, I want to grow, I want to be, I want to know?"

21 July, 2013

'Crack baby' study ends with unexpected but clear result

'Crack baby' study ends with unexpected but clear result: The team has kept tabs on 110 of the 224 children originally in the study. Of the 110, two are dead - one shot in a bar and another in a drive-by shooting - three are in prison, six graduated from college, and six more are on track to graduate. There have been 60 children born to the 110 participants.

The years of tracking kids have led Hurt to a conclusion she didn't see coming.

"Poverty is a more powerful influence on the outcome of inner-city children than gestational exposure to cocaine," Hurt said at her May lecture.

The Sun Magazine | Some Thoughts On Mercy

The Sun Magazine | Some Thoughts On Mercy: Alexander’s book is an incisive analysis of how the drug war has specifically targeted African American men, saddling huge numbers with ex-felon status, which makes employment, voting, housing, education, and more nearly impossible: in other words, effectively reinstating Jim Crow. Among her most striking observations is that in 1981, when President Ronald Reagan declared that he was “running up a battle flag” in the War on Drugs, fewer than 2 percent of the American public viewed drugs as the most important issue facing the nation. That figure jumped to 64 percent in 1989, thanks largely to a sensational (and racist) media campaign. She also points out that the police could make numerous drug arrests by raiding the fraternities and sororities at colleges, but for the most part they don’t, because those students are not viewed as criminals: they’re just kids who use drugs.

Today’s teenagers are smarter, tougher and braver than my generation – and yours, too

Today’s teenagers are smarter, tougher and braver than my generation – and yours, too: They asked me about ethics, about how to deal with sexism at school, about privilege, about trauma. Staring up from the bottom of two gins, I tried to give helpful answers that weren’t simply asking them to please stop smoking, because it’s taken me years to quit and clearly we need young women like them around for a long time because the world isn’t going to save itself.

Almost every time I speak to teenagers, particularly to young female students who want to talk to me about feminism, I find myself staggered by how much they have read, how creatively they think and how curiously bullshit-resistant they are. Because of the subjects I write about, I am often contacted by younger people and I see it as part of my job to reply to all of them – and doing so has confirmed a suspicion I’ve had for some time. I think that the generation about to hit adulthood is going to be rather brilliant and that anyone else who has made it through the bio-existential maelstrom of puberty intact has a duty to give them every bit of help they ask for.

Unhappy Truckers and Other Algorithmic Problems - Issue 3: In Transit - Nautilus

Unhappy Truckers and Other Algorithmic Problems - Issue 3: In Transit - Nautilus: For one thing, humans are irrational and prone to habit. When those habits are interrupted, interesting things happen. After the collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minnesota, for example, the number of travelers crossing the river, not surprisingly, dropped; but even after the bridge was restored, researcher David Levinson has noted, traffic levels never got near their previous levels again. Habits can be particularly troublesome for planning fixed travel routes for people, like public buses, as noted in a paper titled, “You Can Lead Travelers to the Bus Stop, But You Can’t Make Them Ride,” by Akshay Vij and Joan Walker of the University of California. “Traditional travel demand models assume that individuals are aware of the full range of alternatives at their disposal,” the paper reads, “and that a conscious choice is made based on a tradeoff between perceived costs and benefits.” But that is not necessarily so.

Joe Biden

Joe Biden in GQ on Being President in 2016: You can't be a compassionate man, a guy without a mean bone in his body, and also a brilliant man. The public doesn't have room for that—at least not in Joe Biden. He mentions a famous world leader. He won't say who, but it could have been any number of leaders from any number of countries across the globe—Karzai, Medvedev, Netanyahu—a moment, one of a million moments in a political career spanning four decades. "We were trying to get a world leader to refrain from doing something. He came to Washington, and it was a big deal. Most people thought that if he had done what he was going to do, it would have caused a war to break out." Send in Joe Biden. Arm around the world leader. Talk to the world leader. Soft voice, a few easy laughs, show some Joe Biden empathy to the world leader. "And I convinced him to forgo it and do something else," he says. No big deal. It's what he does. Save a country or two from some miserable war. To the extent that all politics is personal, Joe Biden is the historic monument. "And I walked out, and a guy was there, a senior staff guy at the State Department, and he said, 'You know, Mr. Vice President, you didn't realize it, but that was diplomacy!'"

Free stuff on the website

Thank You For Using The Internet! We Regret To Inform You That Your Free Trial Has Expired: Today, finally, the pendulum is swinging back, after years of file sharing, downloads, and obsessive browsing that have left us, the consumers, engorged and hooked on new and enticing versions of every major media category.

“It’s a huge sea change,” Vorhaus said. “I would have told you five years ago that the paid content world had a dismal future. Now, I’d say that paid media is in the second inning, and there’s still a lot of runs and at-bats coming down the road.”

The Frankfurt School at War | Foreign Affairs

The Frankfurt School at War | Foreign Affairs: The Frankfurt School thinkers also feared that by mistaking the Germany of 1945 for the Germany of 1918, the Allies would fail to appreciate the ways in which the Nazis had made it unlikely that ordinary Germans would accept the kind of humiliating surrender they had suffered at the end of World War I. As Marcuse wrote in a report in September 1943, “The system of National Socialism has been devised for the very purpose of making a repetition of 1918 impossible.” The Frankfurters argued that the Nazis’ radical anti-Semitism was an attempt to guarantee the complicity of the broadest possible swath of the populace in Nazi crimes. With their hands dripping with blood, most Germans would likely see no real choice but to fight to the death against the Allies. Even if some evidence coming out of Germany suggested that wartime morale was low, the Nazis were doing everything possible to make sure that ordinary Germans had every incentive to stay the course.

20 July, 2013

On controlling slaves

Vampire_Seraphin comments on did slaves get days off?: Frederick Douglass records in his account that on some plantations slaves were not forced to work around Christmas. He felt that this was a sort of safety valve used by the slave owners to release built up tension. Nothing altruistic about it. I highly doubt it was a practice employed by all owners, but some slaves appear to in fact have had some time to themselves.

A Life-or-Death Situation - NYTimes.com

A Life-or-Death Situation - NYTimes.com: If Peggy had been there and known the extent of Brooke’s injury, she might have urged the rescuers not to revive him. Brooke updated a living will the previous year, specifying that should he suffer a grievous illness or injury leading to a terminal condition or vegetative state, he wanted no procedures done that “would serve only to unnaturally prolong the moment of my death and to unnaturally postpone or prolong the dying process.” But Peggy wasn’t there, and Brooke, who had recently retired as an English professor at the University of Utah, was kept breathing with a hand-pumped air bag during the ambulance ride to University Hospital, three miles away. As soon as he got there, he was attached to a ventilator.

SROs, flophouses, microapartments: Smart cities are finally allowing the right kind of housing for the poor, young, and single.

SROs, flophouses, microapartments: Smart cities are finally allowing the right kind of housing for the poor, young, and single.: In the 1960s, “urban renewal” became the watchword of North American policy on cities. On the ground, it commonly meant leveling residential hotels and the mixed districts that surrounded them, then constructing single-use neighborhoods of one- and two-bedroom apartments. It was housing, but it was too big and expensive for members of the class that had made rooming houses their homes. In the years since, most cities have gradually closed many of their remaining SROs.

The number of cheap rooms for rent is a fraction of what it once was in American cities. In downtown Portland, Ore., for example, the number of units available to rent for the amount that a minimum-wage worker can afford ($458 per month in 2012) fell from 4,500 in 1994 to 3,200 in 2012, according to the Northwest Pilot Project, a housing provider for seniors. These quarters are almost all subsidized and often have long waiting lists.

Why French Women Don't Get Promoted - NYTimes.com

Why French Women Don't Get Promoted - NYTimes.com: Lundberg goes on to ponder the hidden costs of social democracy: The ways in which “some of the government protections and incentives offered to mothers in France may in fact make their advancement in the workplace more difficult,” while “the more Spartan benefits in the U.S. actually contribute to providing more opportunities for women” — because there’s “less of a stigma in the United States about changing jobs or even careers in mid-life than there is in France, and because U.S. employers can more easily fire people, they may be more willing to hire as well.”

In effect, she’s providing a personal, country-specific confirmation of the point made by Kay Hymowitz in a recent Foreign Policy essay, which compared the achievements of working women in the laissez-faire U.S. to their counterparts in social democracies:

Water Has No Enemy | New Writing | Granta Magazine

Water Has No Enemy | New Writing | Granta Magazine: It is one thing to guess at the danger that is Lagos, quite another to experience it first-hand. Whenever I land at Murtala Muhammed International Airport – I go back once or twice each year – I feel that an actuary calculating my life-insurance premiums would have to temporarily charge me more. What I feel each time I enter the country is not a panic, exactly; it is rather a sense of fragility, of being more susceptible to accidents and incidents, as though some invisible veil of protection had been withdrawn, and fate, with all its hoarded hostility, could strike at any time. When I’m in the US, I argue with those who think Lagos is too dangerous a place to visit. I tell them I grew up there and wandered its streets for seventeen years, and nothing untoward happened to me.

Major Conservative Leader likes Pelosi.....because she has guts?

Decoding John Boehner’s Brain During Another Political Battle -- New York Magazine:

On the surface, the Club for Growth may be all about the promotion of fiscal conservatism in our nation’s capital. But the group is as much in the provocation business as it is in the tax-cut-enforcing business, which is why, I suspect, its president, the former Republican congressman Chris Chocola, told me this spring that Nancy Pelosi was his “ideal model” of a great speaker of the House. Not John Boehner, about whom I was calling. Pelosi.
“She was willing to risk her position to pass Obamacare,” he explained. “Her ­caucus was against it, the polls were against it, and she risked it. She lost her job in the process, but I suspect she’s okay with that. The fact that she did is a lesson Republicans should learn: Do something you believe in enough to risk your job.”
Whereas Boehner? I asked.
“He’s not going to drive the outcome,” said Chocola. “He’s going to manage the outcome.”

18 July, 2013

BBC News - JK Rowling 'anger' at legal firm over pseudonym leak

BBC News - JK Rowling 'anger' at legal firm over pseudonym leak: Russells Solicitors said it apologised "unreservedly".

In a statement, it said the wife of one of its partners, Chris Gossage, had told her best friend, Judith Callegari, that Robert Galbraith was really Rowling.

The company said it was revealed "during a private conversation" adding "the disclosure was made in confidence to someone he trusted implicitly".

It has been reported Ms Callegari subsequently revealed Rowling's identity to a Sunday Times journalist via Twitter on 9 July.

Russells continued: "Whilst accepting [Gossage's] own culpability, the disclosure was made in confidence to someone he trusted implicitly. On becoming aware of the circumstances, we immediately notified JK Rowling's agent."

Trayvon Martin and the Irony of American Justice - Ta-Nehisi Coates - The Atlantic

Trayvon Martin and the Irony of American Justice - Ta-Nehisi Coates - The Atlantic: I don't think the import of this is being appreciated. Effectively, I can bait you into a fight and if I start losing I can can legally kill you, provided I "believe" myself to be subject to "great bodily harm." It is then the state's job to prove -- beyond a reasonable doubt -- that I either did not actually fear for my life, or my fear was unreasonable. In the case of George Zimmerman, even if the state proved that he baited an encounter (and I am not sure they did) they still must prove that he had no reasonable justification to fear for his life.

Trinity College experiment succeeds after 69 years - RT� News

Trinity College experiment succeeds after 69 years - RT� News: After decades of waiting, physicists at Trinity College have for the first time captured a rare scientific event on camera.

70 years after the experiment was set up, the scientists have videoed pitch dripping from a funnel.

The experiment was begun by a colleague of Nobel Prize winner Ernest Walton in the physics department of Trinity in 1944.

Its aim was to prove that the black carbonic substance pitch is a viscous or flowing material.

Scramming_Oscar comments on If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear

Scramming_Oscar comments on If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear: This picture addresses surveillance (and the most intrusive form of surveillance imaginable) not information gathering.

So what is the danger of information gathering if it is not intrusive? The point is that it stifles dissent. People are put on no-fly lists (see for example Laura Poitras' story), get tax audits when they oppose the elites, are unable to work for the government because of their political opinion. Lets be honest, the government collects all this data not because all of it is interesting (95% of the people are boring twats, even to the government), but to filter out that 5% that is interesting.

That is why we need to be worried. It is dangerous not because it hurts everybody directly (well in a way it does, but not in the intrusive kind of way, more on a societal level), but because it directly undermines the meaning of free speech, free press, right to gather, right to be politically active. Privacy violated through information gathering is about power and control of political dissidents, not about some Mr Derpadorp having his breakfast and taking home a one night stand (unless, of course, Derpadorp is someone significant like MLK.

One of Watterson's best set of dailies

The Dead Raccoon: “But Don’t You Go Anywhere” - Best of Calvin and Hobbes

Prominent Democrats Are Now Comfortable With Racial and Ethnic Profiling - Conor Friedersdorf - The Atlantic

Prominent Democrats Are Now Comfortable With Racial and Ethnic Profiling - Conor Friedersdorf - The Atlantic: Under Ray Kelly, the NYPD infiltrated Muslim communities and spied on hundreds or perhaps thousands of totally innocent Americans at mosques, colleges, and elsewhere. Officers "put American citizens under surveillance and scrutinized where they ate, prayed and worked, not because of charges of wrongdoing but because of their ethnicity," AP reported, citing NYPD documents. Informants were paid to bait Muslims into making inflammatory statements. The NYPD even conducted surveillance on Muslim Americans outside its jurisdiction, drawing a rebuke from an FBI field office, where a top official charged that "the department's surveillance of Muslims in the state has hindered investigations and created 'additional risks' in counterterrorism."

Moreover, "In more than six years of spying on Muslim neighborhoods, eavesdropping on conversations and cataloguing mosques," the Associated Press reported, "the New York Police Department's secret Demographics Unit never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation." The horrifying effects on innocent Americans are documented here. But despite the high costs and lack of counterterrorism benefits, Kelly stands behind the surveillance on Muslims.

Delco man has colossal credit - Philly.com

Delco man has colossal credit - Philly.com: A REAL PAL WILL GIVE you a dollar when you're in need, but a PayPal will give you $92 quadrillion.

Delaware County resident Chris Reynolds received just such a shocking delivery from PayPal on Friday, when he opened his monthly statement from the online money-transfer company via email and saw that his ending balance was $92,233,720,368,547,800.

"I'm just feeling like a million bucks," Reynolds told the Daily News yesterday. "At first I thought that I owed quadrillions. It was quite a big surprise."

I don't know if viewpoints like the below are reconcilable to those of others. Someone is inevitably going to be "oppressed."

The Debasing of Marriage | RedState: Abortion arrived further damaging the foundations of marriage. How is that? you ask. It became possible for a married woman to legally procure an abortion without her husband’s consent. I know a lot of War on Women types will shake their head at this last one, but think about the implications to an institution whose raison d’etre is “the two shall become one” (I think someone famous said that but I’m not sure) when “one” does whatever she wants and “two” is left on the sidelines.

‘This Town’ Needs an Enema | RedState

‘This Town’ Needs an Enema | RedState: Mark Leibovich of the New York Times has written a pretty scathing book about Washington, DC, called This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral-Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking!-in America’s Gilded Capital. It is a pretty accurate portrayal of the Washington, DC more and more Americans have come to hold in contempt. There exists in Washington a new aristocracy where, for example, a poor boxer from Searchlight, NV, can get elected to the United States Senate, become wealthy enough to live at the Ritz, and see his family profit from K Street.

It is a city where the new aristocrats move and do not want to leave. It is a town in need of an enema.

The Deep State, the Permanent Campaign, and the Frayed Fabric of American Democracy - James Fallows - The Atlantic

The Deep State, the Permanent Campaign, and the Frayed Fabric of American Democracy - James Fallows - The Atlantic: Organized interest groups have traditionally been thought to exercise outsized influence within the two national parties, especially the Democratic Party. One thing that's changed in recent years is the emergence of the people who do campaigns for a living as a powerful and effectively organized interest group themselves.

It is the pollsters, "strategists," and other campaign operatives, after all, who are the chief beneficiaries of the continual fundraising that Senators and Congressmen now do. Not only do these electioneering hands now work on campaign business full-time, but they have also gotten used to a standard of living requiring high and predictable levels of income.

The Impending Senate Vote on Confirming Nominees - James Fallows - The Atlantic

The Impending Senate Vote on Confirming Nominees - James Fallows - The Atlantic: A more complete explanation has to acknowledge the paradox of the contemporary American state. On the procedural level that the public can see, Congress is hopelessly gridlocked in the worst manner since the 1850s; that is true. The objective of the GOP is, obviously, to render the executive branch powerless, at least until a Republican president is elected (and voter suppression laws in the GOP-controlled states are clearly intended to accomplish that result). As a consequence, Obama cannot get anything done; he cannot even get the most innocuous appointees in office.

Yet he can assassinate American citizens without due processes (Holder's sophistry to the contrary, judicial process is due process); can detain prisoners indefinitely without charge; conduct surveillance on the American people without judicial warrant; and engage in unprecedented -- at least since the McCarthy era -- witch hunts against federal employees (the so-called insider threat program).

Not a Filibuster Problem, a Nullification Problem - James Fallows - The Atlantic

Not a Filibuster Problem, a Nullification Problem - James Fallows - The Atlantic: I actually think "filibuster disaster" is the wrong way of thinking of it. We don't have a filibuster problem. We have a nullification problem. Abuse of the filibuster is just one aspect of it, and one of several tactics.Mass filibuster of presidential nominees to head organizations like the CFPB, NLRB, etc., isn't just an abuse of a tactic. It's a nullification of federal law. What's really breathtaking about it isn't the number of filibusters, but the fact that they've dropped all pretense of objecting to the nominees themselves: they say explicitly that they are blocking these nominees because they don't like the laws they would enforce.

The Withered Writ

The Withered Writ: The commission made 16 recommendations for habeas reform. Six were about providing competent counsel at every stage of challenging a capital conviction and death sentence. (A former Supreme Court law clerk told the commission what he had learned during that experience: “The death penalty frequently results from nothing more than poverty and poor lawyering.”) Other recommendations were intended to speed up the habeas process by adding time constraints, limiting challenges following an appeal of the conviction and sentencing, and narrowing the scope of habeas in most instances to claims that the petitioner was innocent rather than that he suffered a violation of his constitutional rights.

America’s campaign-finance watchdog is rendered nearly toothless by its own appointed commissioners - Politics - The Boston Globe

America’s campaign-finance watchdog is rendered nearly toothless by its own appointed commissioners - Politics - The Boston Globe: WASHINGTON — The free charter flight for Mitt Romney campaign volunteers seemed like an open-and-shut case for the six members of the Federal Election Commission.

A wealthy friend of Romney spent $150,000 to fly as many as 200 campaign volunteers from Utah to a fund-raising phone-a-thon in Boston.

The three Democrats on the FEC agreed with the agency’s staff that the charter appeared to violate rules limiting such “in-kind’’ gifts to $2,600 per election.

But the three Republican commissioners disagreed, saying Romney’s friend merely acted “in behalf of’’ Romney’s 2008 campaign — not the illegal “on behalf of” — and thus the flight was allowed.

With that twist of legal semantics, the case died — effectively dismissed.

The 3-3 deadlock was part of a pattern of paralysis that has over the past five years gripped the commission, the nation’s principal referee for federal elections.

17 July, 2013

The Monty Burns Republicans | The American Conservative

The Monty Burns Republicans | The American Conservative: The Republican Party is throwing corporate welfare at farmers, but telling people who are so poor they qualify for government aid to feed themselves that they are not a priority. As a matter of basic politics, the Republicans have lost their minds. This is Mitt Romney’s 47 percent remark all over again.

President Obama has vowed to veto this GOP farm bill if it hits his desk, so Congress is going to have to try again. You know who needs to find their voice and use it right now? Conservative Christian pastors and leaders. Christians need to seriously reconsider uncritical support for a political party that prioritizes lavishing subsidies on the agribusiness rich while telling the poor to sit quietly and wait for scraps.

The amazing, surprising, Africa-driven demographic future of the Earth, in 9 charts

The amazing, surprising, Africa-driven demographic future of the Earth, in 9 charts: Right now, with a couple of exceptions, Africa’s population density is relatively low; it’s a very big continent more sparsely populated than, say, Europe or East Asia. That’s changing very quickly. The continent’s overall population is expected to more than quadruple over just 90 years, an astonishingly rapid growth that will make Africa more important than ever. And it’s not just that there will four times the workforce, four times the resource burden, four times as many voters. The rapid growth itself will likely transform political and social dynamics within African countries and thus their relationship with the rest of the world. (More on this further down.)

Asia will continue to grow but its population growth, already slowing, is expected to peak about 50 years from now then start declining. As has happened in the West, rising economies will lead to declining birth rates. And that downturned curve could represent some problematic demographic issues; more also on this further down.

15 July, 2013

In Iraq, the Bomb-Detecting Device That Didn't Work, Except to Make Money - Businessweek

In Iraq, the Bomb-Detecting Device That Didn't Work, Except to Make Money - Businessweek: Few of the tales of graft and theft that emerged from the Iraq War—U.S. troops being sold $45 six-packs of soda or entire pallets of vacuum-sealed U.S. currency disappearing into the night—can match that of James McCormick, whose exploits were so preposterous they would seem purely comic if it weren’t for their lethal consequences. The ADE 651, and similar devices sold by McCormick over the decade or so he spent in the explosives-detection business, owe their existence to Wade Quattlebaum, president of Quadro in Harleyville, S.C. At the beginning of the 1990s, Quattlebaum—a sometime car dealer, commercial diver, and treasure hunter whose formal education ended in high school—began promoting a new detection technology he called the Quadro Tracker Positive Molecular Locator, which he claimed could help law enforcement agencies find everything from contraband to missing persons. Quattlebaum said he originally invented the device to find lost balls on the golf course but had since refined it to locate marijuana, cocaine, heroin, gunpowder, and dynamite by detecting the individual “molecular frequency” of each substance.

13 July, 2013

Neil Gaiman's Journal: in the wee small hours of the morning

Neil Gaiman's Journal: in the wee small hours of the morning:
If I were only allowed to read or enjoy art or listen to music made by people whose opinions and beliefs were the same as mine, I think the world would be a pretty dismal sort of a place. I love the work of many creators who self-avowedly believe or believed things that I consider to be "fairly wretched", not to mention wrong-headed, lunatic, irresponsible or simply wrong. Worse yet: there are artists, actors, songwriters, authors, whose work I love, like or admire and who, biographers or historians tell us, actually did things that were utterly reprehensible. [...]

(The sad flip-side is I've met people -- writers and artists -- over the years who I liked immediately, with whom I found myself agreeing on everything to do with art and aesthetics so closely that we might have shared the same head, people whose world-views were pretty much mine, whom I'd talk with far into the night and whom I parted from excited that I'd met them, looking forward to nothing more than reading their writing or looking at their art... and then I would find what they had done, and, at least as far as my taste was concerned, the books would be uninteresting, the drawings ugly or clumsy. And in an odd way, that hurts more than liking the work of someone who behaved badly, or thought in a way that I consider offensive or wrong.)

The 6 Graphs You Need to See to Understand the Economics of Awful Blockbuster Movies - Derek Thompson - The Atlantic

The 6 Graphs You Need to See to Understand the Economics of Awful Blockbuster Movies - Derek Thompson - The Atlantic: In The Hollywood Economist, Edward Jay Epstein revealed that the American box office accounted for less than 10 percent of the MPAA's total income (and international box office accounted for just a little more than 10 percent). "The other 80 percent now came from the ubiquitous couch potato who was viewing his movies at home via DVDs, Blu-rays, pay-per-view, a digital recorder, cable channels, or even network television," he wrote.


What does that mean for summer movies? It explains why $1 spent on a blockbuster is (all things considered) worth more than $1 spent on a non-blockbuster. The potential for each mega-budget movie to go big and create a train of merchandise, licensing and sequels makes it strategically wise to bet a very large sum of money on a very small number of big films.

No, Senator Warren, Let's Make Banking Scary Again - Bloomberg

No, Senator Warren, Let's Make Banking Scary Again - Bloomberg: What is disturbing, and perhaps this is what Warren is getting at, is that since the financial crisis the risk-reward equation has been flipped. Because of the government's implicit guarantee to rescue banks deemed too big to fail, the risk is low. Meanwhile, the marriage of commercial banks with investment banks has created a compensation environment with high rewards. Much of the fear that should be part of banking has been wrung out of the system.

So how about it, Senator Warren? Instead of making banking boring, how about making it scary again -- for bankers and their shareholders?

Category: Places that would be neat to visit? - Kazakhstan's capital

Kazakhstan’s capital: Laying the golden egg | The Economist: Astana has all the weirdness of Pyongyang and little of the human scale of Canberra. It is a collection of monuments and boulevards on a scale that screams “L’�tat, c’est moi”. The president surveys his city from his marble-clad, blue-and-gold-domed palace. The jewel in Astana’s crown is usually reckoned to be a Norman Foster pyramid, the Palace of Peace and Accord. It flashes neon at night, houses an academy of Turkic studies and is supposed to promote reconciliation among the world’s religions. It is one of several buildings that displays Mr Nazarbayev’s obsession for hosting conventions, expositions and conferences.

The Republic of Choosing | Boston Review

The Republic of Choosing | Boston Review: The biggest current liability for liberals is that many people have lost faith in the capacity of government to solve the problems they care about. Perhaps the most prominent of these problems are unemployment, economic inequality, the deterioration of the natural environment, and national security. The behaviorist toolkit is not much help here. Sunstein’s account of the future of government has nothing to say about unemployment, inequality, or national security, and its contribution to environmental protection is limited to consumer labeling of cars and appliances. Sunstein is right that government needs to be sensitive to the limits of its knowledge and understanding and that intervention needs to be more flexible and adaptive. But it seems unlikely that many major problems can be solved without more direct intervention and more collective decision-making than his strategy contemplates.

Terrible NTSB Intern Blamed for KTVU's “Ho Lee Fuk” Blunder

Terrible NTSB Intern Blamed for KTVU's “Ho Lee Fuk” Blunder: The National Transportation Safety Board apologizes for inaccurate and offensive names that were mistakenly confirmed as those of the pilots of Asiana flight 214, which crashed at San Francisco International Airport on July 6.

Earlier today, in response to an inquiry from a media outlet, a summer intern acted outside the scope of his authority when he erroneously confirmed the names of the flight crew on the aircraft.

The NTSB does not release or confirm the names of crewmembers or people involved in transportation accidents to the media. We work hard to ensure that only appropriate factual information regarding an investigation is released and deeply regret today's incident.

Appropriate actions will be taken to ensure that such a serious error is not repeated.

11 July, 2013

America's artificial heartland– Venkatesh Rao – Aeon

America's artificial heartland– Venkatesh Rao – Aeon: By the 1880s, the two American systems had given rise to a virtuous cycle of accelerating development, with emerging corporations and developing national infrastructure feeding off each other. The result was the first large-scale industrial base: a world of ambitious infrastructure projects, giant corporations and arcane political structures. Small farms gave way to transcontinental railroads, giant dams, Standard Oil and US Steel. The most consequential political activity retreated into complex new governance institutions that few ordinary citizens understood, such as the Interstate Commerce Commission, the Federal Reserve, and the War Industries Board. Politics began to acquire its surreal modern focus on broadly comprehensible sideshows.

Fox and Friends does a legal analysis of their anchor's basketbal pass into a toddler's face

After the Show Show: When Brian attacks | Fox News Video

10 July, 2013

Erick Erickson makes a lot of sense in this post

Reality Check | RedState
The worst thing about America is the politicization of everything.

Why the hell must I pick a side in the George Zimmerman trial? A 17 year old boy is dead and a man who may or may not be guilty of murder is on trial but, even if not guilty, will never again be safe because so much outrage and so much politicization has been poured into the trial. A 17 year old is dead. Why am I forced, as a conservative, to cheer for the guy who took his life? And you people who support Trayvon, how are you given a pass on seeing things from George Zimmerman’s perspective? Why must I decide on the guilt or innocence of George Zimmerman based on the outrage of people whose politics differ from mine? Why must a death and trial comport to a political world view?!

While I tend to think the left is worse about it than the right, I’m sure liberals think otherwise. But why must everything be so damn political? The President of the United States is a good father with a lovely wife and I disagree with both on pretty much everything. But I do not hate them.


Female inmates sterilized in California prisons without approval - Health and Medicine - The Sacramento Bee: Doctors under contract with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation sterilized nearly 150 female inmates from 2006 to 2010 without required state approvals, the Center for Investigative Reporting has found.

At least 148 women received tubal ligations in violation of prison rules during those five years – and there are perhaps 100 more dating back to the late 1990s, according to state documents and interviews.

In his own words: Confessions of a cyber warrior | Security - InfoWorld

In his own words: Confessions of a cyber warrior | Security - InfoWorld: Grimes: How many exploits does your unit have access to?

Cyber warrior: Literally tens of thousands -- it's more than that. We have tens of thousands of ready-to-use bugs in single applications, single operating systems.

Grimes: Is most of it zero-days?

Cyber warrior: It's all zero-days. Literally, if you can name the software or the controller, we have ways to exploit it. There is no software that isn't easily crackable. In the last few years, every publicly known and patched bug makes almost no impact on us. They aren't scratching the surface.

Turnout Rates Among the Rich and Poor — The Monkey Cage

Turnout Rates Among the Rich and Poor — The Monkey Cage: urnout among the poor than the middle class and rich?“. I recently attended the 2013 International Society for New Institutional Economics Annual Conference, and just watched a very interesting presentation by Columbia University political scientist Kimuli Kasara on “When do the Rich Vote Less than the Poor and Why? Explaining Turnout Inequality across the World”. The full paper she presented is available here, but the following figure caught my eye as an answer to Andy’s question:

Bin Laden raid reveals 'state failure' - Features - Al Jazeera English

Bin Laden raid reveals 'state failure' - Features - Al Jazeera English:
Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda's chief, was able to evade detection in Pakistan for nine years due to the "collective failure" of the Pakistani state's military and intelligence authorities, and "routine" incompetence at every level of the civil governance structure, a Pakistani government commission has concluded.

The failure was so complete that, by page 87 of its report, the Commission investigating the circumstances around Bin Laden's killing in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad in May 2011 was forced to coin a term for it: "Governance Implosion Syndrome".

"[Osama bin Laden] was able to stay [in Abbottabad] due to a collective failure of the military authorities, the intelligence authorities, the police and the civilian administration. This failure included negligence and incompetence and at some undetermined level, a grave complicity may or may not have been involved," the Commission's scathing 336-page report says.

The report was initially suppressed by the Pakistani government, but was released exclusively by Al Jazeera's Investigative Unit on Monday.

Labor market directions

The wastefulness of automation:
Chris Dillow observes that "one function of the welfare state is to ensure that capital gets a big supply of labour, by making eligibity for unemployment benefit conditional upon seeking work." And despite noting that when jobs are scarce, paying some to "lie fallow" so others can work might be a good thing, he concludes that "this is certainly not in the interests of capitalists, who want a large labour supply - a desire which is buttressed by the morality of reciprocal altruism and the work ethic." (emphasis mine). Basic Income, therefore, is not going to happen because capitalist interests, claiming the moral high ground, will ensure that it never gains political traction.

But what if capitalists DON'T want a large labour supply? What if automation means that what capitalists really want is a very small, highly skilled workforce to control the robots that do all the work? What if paying people enough to live on simply is not cost-effective compared to the running costs of robots?  In short, what if the costs of automated production fall to virtually zero?

Good thoughts on the NSA/Snowden

Beckstcw1 comments on Why hasn't anyone brought up the fact that the NSA is literally spying on and building profiles of everyone's children?:

Cops have reason to believe that a wanted criminal is using a city park to conduct meetings with associates (Let's call it "Verizon Park"). So the stakeout the park and take (collect) photos (metadata) of every person who enters or leave the park (makes a phone call) during a specified time frame they believe the criminal will be active, and cross reference the photos (phone numbers, durations, and times) with a database to see if that criminal or any of his known associates are active (talking on the phone) in the park in that timeframe, as well as taking photos of him and everyone he talks to (talks to) while he's there.
To me, having the photos of everyone who was in the park during that time period is not in any way a violation of any 4th Amendment rights. What would be a violation would be if they stopped and searched (collected and analyzed/listened to the content of the phone calls) everyone who came to the park, simply because they were in the park, something which isn't actually happening according to the documents Snowden has leaked.

09 July, 2013

Reddit: A Pre-Facebook Community in a Post-Facebook World - Ethan Zuckerman - The Atlantic

Reddit: A Pre-Facebook Community in a Post-Facebook World - Ethan Zuckerman - The Atlantic: It's not that Ohanian is right and Zuckerberg is wrong. We need a range of social media platforms that connect us in different ways. It's fine to have social media that connects us with old friends, but we need tools that help us discover new people, as well. Tools that help us discover and fall in love with strangers may be the key to making sure that social media doesn't descend into an insular echo chamber where the voices of those we already know eventually drive us mad.

TNC on privilage

Privilege Is Like Money: Reflections From France - Ta-Nehisi Coates - The Atlantic: Privilege is like money--when you have none it is impossible to get and when you have more people offer it to you at every turn. Last week, in short order, I treated with Tim Pawlenty, met Annie Lennox, and greeted Elena Kagan on my way out of town. And then I flew to Chicago and watched everyday people lose their lives. What haunted was the barrier of tissue paper I felt between the cold world and me. I saw families living in disorder and squalor, living in fire-traps built by men who should be prosecuted by the city.

We talk about a culture of poverty as a way of damnation, but not as a way of comprehension. America loves winners, and tells us that we can all be winners, and it says this at such a volume that when you do not win, you might believe that something deep in your bones condemns you to losing--and believing that you might take whatever is given to you. You might be thankful for your squalor

Valve's 'perfect hiring' hierarchy has 'hidden management' clique like high school | Game Development | News by Develop

Valve's 'perfect hiring' hierarchy has 'hidden management' clique like high school | Game Development | News by Develop: "What I learned from Valve is that I don't think it works. Give people complete latitude with no checks and balances it is human nature that they will minimise the work that they do and increase the control that they have.

"We used to joke that it's good at hiring lots of lead guitarists. We went out and hired lots of great makers - but we were all lead guitarists, we couldn't go out and hire someone just to manufacture the parts. Just getting a tech for around the lab was almost impossible. That's why a layer of management can help organisations."

Police Militarization

“Why did you shoot me? I was reading a book”: The new warrior cop is out of control - Salon.com: So long as partisans are only willing to speak out against aggressive, militarized police tactics when they’re used against their own and are dismissive or even supportive of such tactics when used against those whose politics they dislike, it seems unlikely that the country will achieve enough of a political consensus to begin to slow down the trend.

Intense - The Real Story of Benghazi

The Real Story of Benghazi, a “Landscape Littered with Murders and Betrayals” | Vanity Fair: But, as pillars of fire and smoke surged up through the shattered remnants of the skylight, the collapse of the weakened roof seemed imminent. Struggling with every breath he took, he gathered his strength and pressed down on the talk button of his Motorola handset. “I don't have the ambassador,” he yelled. “Repeat, over?” B. responded. He couldn't hear what A. had said. As the flames roared around A., he struggled to speak. He found it excruciating to hold the radio in his burned hands. But they had to know. He took a lung-filling gasp of air. “I don't have the ambassador!”

“the globalization of indifference” from Pope Francis

Pope on Lampedusa: “the globalization of indifference”
But God asks each one of us: “Where is the blood of your brother that cries out to me?” Today no one in the world feels responsible for this; we have lost the sense of fraternal responsibility; we have fallen into the hypocritical attitude of the priest and of the servant of the altar that Jesus speaks about in the parable of the Good Samaritan: We look upon the brother half dead by the roadside, perhaps we think “poor guy,” and we continue on our way, it’s none of our business; and we feel fine with this. We feel at peace with this, we feel fine! The culture of well-being, that makes us think of ourselves, that makes us insensitive to the cries of others, that makes us live in soap bubbles, that are beautiful but are nothing, are illusions of futility, of the transient, that brings indifference to others, that brings even the globalization of indifference. In this world of globalization we have fallen into a globalization of indifference. We are accustomed to the suffering of others, it doesn’t concern us, it’s none of our business.

Lockdown – Marco.org

Lockdown – Marco.org:

Google Reader is just the latest casualty of the war that Facebook started, seemingly accidentally: the battle to own everything.5 While Google did technically “own” Reader and could make some use of the huge amount of news and attention data flowing through it, it conflicted with their far more important Google+ strategy: they need everyone reading and sharing everything through Google+ so they can compete with Facebook for ad-targeting data, ad dollars, growth, and relevance.
RSS represents the antithesis of this new world: it’s completely open, decentralized, and owned by nobody, just like the web itself. It allows anyone, large or small, to build something new and disrupt anyone else they’d like because nobody has to fly six salespeople out first to work out a partnership with anyone else’s salespeople.

08 July, 2013

GWB, doimg the post-presidency right in this quote:

GEORGE W. BUSH TO SPEAK ON IMMIGRATION on Wed. -- BIDEN BACKERS urge him to step up fundraising -- LIZ CHENEY may challenge Sen. Enzi next year - POLITICO Playbook - POLITICO.com: Bush, on gay marriage: “I'm not gonna wade back into those kinds of issues. I'm out of politics. The only way I can really make news is either criticize the President, which I don't wanna do; criticize my own party; or wade in on a controversial issue. … I'm off the stage. Unless I'm promoting something I strongly believe in. And I believe that what we're doing in Africa incredibly important, and will continue to do so … so long as I'm ambulatory.

06 July, 2013

On building the NYC Subway

www.nycsubway.org: Building New York's Subway (1903): Daylight was half a mile or more behind. In front a narrow arched passage, so low that the jagged roof just grazed one's head, followed a thin vista of hazy electric lamps farther into the solid rock. The heavy air was chilled with the breath of the under earth, and every now and then from under the tramway ties, or out of the indefinite darkness, came the drip-drip-drip and gurgle of water.

A thudding murmur in the distance suddenly grew more insistent and distinct. The shapes of men, of a swinging crane, of a tram-car mule, appeared under the flare of torches. The reverberations, locked between the narrow walls of rock, swelled into the deafening pounding of a steam-drill. Then a glimmer of daylight revealed the mouth of the shaft, and a moment later, clambering up into the open, I found myself in the lazy warmth of a summer afternoon and blinking at the velvet verdure of Central Park.

Why Britons should celebrate the American Declaration of Independence – Telegraph Blogs

Why Britons should celebrate the American Declaration of Independence – Telegraph Blogs: The Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution that followed, distilled and fortified the principles on which British exceptionalism was held to have rested since the Great Charter. No Briton can be unmoved when he stands in the room where those sublime documents were signed. Their promise is why large parts of the world remain prosperous, free and self-governing. That is the gift of the English-speaking peoples to the rest of the human race. It is why, taking the bad along with the good, we none the less say, on this of all days, God bless America.

Valves and Values: Another Story of Technological Transition | Spooky & the Metronome

Valves and Values: Another Story of Technological Transition | Spooky & the Metronome: The history of technological transitions has other lessons to offer, however. Let’s consider a musical case: the adoption of the valved horn.

The valved horn, familiar as the French horn, is now a standard member of the orchestra. But the valve mechanism employed in horns and other brass instruments was invented only in the 1810s (i.e. twenty years after Mozart’s death, and after Beethoven had composed most of his symphonies). Until then, all horns were made of coiled metal tubing without keys, and the length of this tubing determined the frequencies at which the the instrument would resonate.

05 July, 2013

Why I'm Not Running For Congress - The Altucher Confidential - Quora

Why I'm Not Running For Congress - The Altucher Confidential - Quora: There were other issues. My initial contact even said, “there are other factors involved.” I found out the other factor. They wanted to know if I would then support a certain candidate for President.
I suddenly felt like I was no longer choosing myself. I was getting anxious about other people choosing/endorsing me and I had to jump through weird hoops I didn’t agree with to make it happen.

I don’t like that in any part of my life. That’s what my entire book is about.

So I was in politics for basically three seconds and suddenly I was being thrown into a bullshit machine.

The weirdest languages

The weirdest languages: The language that is most different from the majority of all other languages in the world is a verb-initial tonal languages spoken by 6,000 people in Oaxaca, Mexico, known as Chalcatongo Mixtec (aka San Miguel el Grande Mixtec). Number two is spoken in Siberia by 22,000 people: Nenets (that’s where we get the word parka from). Number three is Choctaw, spoken by about 10,000 people, mostly in Oklahoma.

But here’s the rub—some of the weirdest languages in the world are ones you’ve heard of: German, Dutch, Norwegian, Czech, Spanish, and Mandarin. And actually English is #33 in the Language Weirdness Index.

03 July, 2013

Photos: Inside An Illegal Party In An Abandoned Subway Station Deep Under NYC: Gothamist

Photos: Inside An Illegal Party In An Abandoned Subway Station Deep Under NYC: Gothamist: No details were provided aside from a subsequent email advising me that "this is an event with some legal and physical risks." (When I emailed Jake and Jen about the assignment, Jake replied, "You should probably write your name and SS# on your johnson so they can identify you at the morgue.") A few days before the big night, I was asked to complete an online questionnaire, which revealed that we'd be illegally entering a space dubbed the "Echo Vault, a temporary memory chamber dedicated to sonic experimentation and uncontrolled dance." I was told to bring a candle, a flashlight, and $20 "for the performers."

bryan konietzko on coloring cartoon characters

bryan konietzko: As Colin made reference to, color theory is an incredibly fascinating, frustrating, and bewildering pursuit. I’ve been studying and trying to apply it for twenty years, and I’m still in its awe. There are so many factors to consider before trusting your own perception. For example, in the image above with the characters’ heads, Kya’s skin appears to my eye to be slightly lighter than Katara’s, despite the fact that I know they are absolutely the same color. This is most likely due to the effect of simultaneous contrast, also known as contrast effect: in simple terms, colors are pushed lighter, darker, warmer, and cooler based on what other colors are next to them. I’ve taken a sample of Korra’s normal skin tone and applied it to an illustration with a painted background and all of a sudden it looks green. On another background it might appear gray. Or bright orange. The average 2D animated show out there in the world has stock normal color models for its characters that they use for almost every scene (occasionally with a “night" version that is a bit darker and cooler). Typically the character models are presented in a vacuum, with no change in lighting, atmosphere, contrast, etc… no regard for any of the artistic properties mentioned above that I am trying to utilize in my animation art direction.

Linda Robertson: Just Because He Breathes: Learning to Truly Love Our Gay Son

Linda Robertson: Just Because He Breathes: Learning to Truly Love Our Gay Son: Now, when I think back on the fear that governed all my reactions during those first six years after Ryan told us he was gay, I cringe as I realize how foolish I was. I was afraid of all the wrong things. And I grieve, not only for my oldest son, whom I will miss every day for the rest of my life, but for the mistakes I made. I grieve for what could have been, had we been walking by faith instead of by fear. Now, whenever Rob and I join our gay friends for an evening, I think about how much I would love to be visiting with Ryan and his partner over dinner. But instead, we visit Ryan's gravestone. We celebrate anniversaries: the would-have-been birthdays and the unforgettable day of his death. We wear orange, his color. We hoard memories: pictures, clothing he wore, handwritten notes, lists of things he loved, tokens of his passions, recollections of the funny songs he invented, his Curious George and baseball blankey, anything, really, that reminds us of our beautiful boy, for that is all we have left, and there will be no new memories.

The Big Pharaoh � Why Are Egyptians Revolting Against an Elected Regime?

The Big Pharaoh � Why Are Egyptians Revolting Against an Elected Regime?: President Morsi was elected because people yearned for change. The margin between him and Shafik was not that big but still the majority chose change over a candidate who represented Mubarak’s era. What we later discovered was that Morsi turned out to be merely the Brotherhood’s representative in the presidency and not the president of all Egyptians.

President Morsi used his office to consolidate power for the Brotherhood which ruled Egypt as if it was just one branch in its regional organization. The instability in the country can be traced back to his dictatorial constitutional decree that granted him sweeping power; something Mubarak would have not even dared to do. Egyptians had big dreams after the January 2011 revolution and they hoped the Brotherhood would deliver a better Egypt. Instead, the MB minimized Egypt, the cradle of civilization, to just a tool for them to meet the petty geopolitical goals of their organization.

Review of Mark Leibovich’s ‘This Town’ - The Washington Post

Review of Mark Leibovich’s ‘This Town’ - The Washington Post: Leibovich, chief national correspondent for the New York Times Magazine and a former reporter at The Washington Post (where we overlapped briefly but never met), is a master of the political profile, with his subjects revealing themselves in the most unflattering light. That talent becomes something of a crutch in “This Town,” which offers more a collection of profiles and scenes than a rich narrative. Still, his characters reveal essential archetypes of Washington power.

Word on the Street: 'Cyber' Dons A Uniform - WSJ.com

Word on the Street: 'Cyber' Dons A Uniform - WSJ.com: This new spin on "cyber" trickled all the way up to the commander in chief. Last year, Barack Obama told graduates at the U.S. Air Force Academy that "we will maintain our military superiority in all areas—air, land, sea, space and cyber." At the Naval Academy, as the Navy Times reports, midshipmen will be able to major in "cyber" (short for "Cyber Operations") this coming fall.

Mr. Obama's formulation of "air, land, sea, space and cyber" holds the key to why "cyber" is succeeding as a 21st-century noun. Military power used to be deployed in the traditional arenas of land, sea and air, eventually joined by space. Now that list must be augmented as "cyberthreats" become as central a concern as any other for national security.

Patrick Radden Keefe: How an Israeli Billionaire Gained Control of One of Africa’s Most Valuable Mines : The New Yorker

Patrick Radden Keefe: How an Israeli Billionaire Gained Control of One of Africa’s Most Valuable Mines : The New Yorker: As wealthy countries confront the prospect of rapidly depleting natural resources, they are turning, increasingly, to Africa, where oil and minerals worth trillions of dollars remain trapped in the ground. By one estimate, the continent holds thirty per cent of the world’s mineral reserves. Paul Collier, who runs the Center for the Study of African Economies, at Oxford, has suggested that “a new scramble for Africa” is under way. Bilateral trade between China and Africa, which in 2000 stood at ten billion dollars, is projected to top two hundred billion dollars this year. The U.S. now imports more oil from Africa than from the Persian Gulf.

Egypt and Islamic Democracy - NYTimes.com

Egypt and Islamic Democracy - NYTimes.com: The Morsi government was in power long enough to produce a mass protest movement against the Muslim Brotherhood, but was it in power long enough to actually discredit the Brotherhood (at least in its current form) as the most plausible alternative to military rule? If the military actually holds new elections now, will they produce anything like a viable third way between Islamism and dictatorship, Morsi and Mubarak, the minaret and the tank?

02 July, 2013

somenerdyguyonreddit comments on Fox News Spends 6 Minutes Describing Why Mr. Rogers Was an 'Evil, Evil Man'

somenerdyguyonreddit comments on Fox News Spends 6 Minutes Describing Why Mr. Rogers Was an 'Evil, Evil Man':
I saw this a while ago, started cursing, realized that would probably upset Mr. Rogers, calmed down, poured and then stared at a glass of water, and drank it while wondered quietly to myself how a person could be acrimonious and simple enough to demonize a person as kind and decent as Mr. Fred Rogers.
Mr. Rogers taught important behavioral skills to children and helped introduce them to simple issues like how to deal with emotions in a mature matter (such as the song “What Do You Do With The Mad That You Feel?”) and more complex issues like divorce (aka telling kids it’s not their fault their parent’s don’t want to be together and that they still love their child) and death (including the assassination of Robert Kennedy, which frankly everyone needed). He did not avoid the complex issues because he knew the best way to protect kids was to safely educate them on the scary things in life.

01 July, 2013

The Media, Immigration and G.O.P. Donorism - NYTimes.com

The Media, Immigration and G.O.P. Donorism - NYTimes.com

It even contrasts the alleged pragmatism of these forward-looking right-wing rich people favorably with the less politically savvy habits of Democratic donors, who are mostly “motivated by ideology.”
The whole thing makes particularly fascinating reading when you compare it to the way that Republican billionaires and bundlers are generally treated by the press: As a cynical, self-interested lot whose ruthless quest for political quid pro quos contrasts with the high-minded principle of Democratic check-writers and bundlers, who supposedly give without asking for anything in return. If that treatment, common to just about every piece ever written about the Koch brothers or Sheldon Adelson, is far too kind to the liberal rich and far too cynical about conservative motivations, then the media’s coverage of the immigration debate tend to swing to the opposite extreme: It’s absurdly credulous about how the rich and powerful inside the G.O.P. tent are supporting comprehensive immigration reform for purely selfless reasons, because it’s the only way to save the party from the yahoos, and displays little of the “follow the money” skepticism that you would normally expect from the press when there’s a united corporate front on one side of a given debate.

Paid via Card, Workers Feel Sting of Fees - NYTimes.com

Paid via Card, Workers Feel Sting of Fees - NYTimes.com: A growing number of American workers are confronting a frustrating predicament on payday: to get their wages, they must first pay a fee.

For these largely hourly workers, paper paychecks and even direct deposit have been replaced by prepaid cards issued by their employers. Employees can use these cards, which work like debit cards, at an A.T.M. to withdraw their pay.

But in the overwhelming majority of cases, using the card involves a fee. And those fees can quickly add up: one provider, for example, charges $1.75 to make a withdrawal from most A.T.M.’s, $2.95 for a paper statement and $6 to replace a card. Some users even have to pay $7 inactivity fees for not using their cards.

These fees can take such a big bite out of paychecks that some employees end up making less than the minimum wage once the charges are taken into account, according to interviews with consumer lawyers, employees, and state and federal regulators.

This is not how a superpower should behave

Congress Slashes Civil GPS Funding | Inside GNSS: In a set of decisions that could potentially slow GPS modernization both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees this week slashed funding for the civil community’s contribution to the GPS system from the Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14) budget.

The House eliminated the entire amount of the White House budget request for $20 million, which is paid through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The Senate cut a mere $5 million — 25 percent of what had been the requested.