31 January, 2014

Lone Fan Tackles the N.F.L. Over Super Bowl Ticket Prices - NYTimes.com

Lone Fan Tackles the N.F.L. Over Super Bowl Ticket Prices - NYTimes.com

the corner the league is in,” Mr. Nagel excitedly explained. “They’ve
sold their tickets to the Super Bowl the same way, year after year, in
other jurisdictions because it’s legal. But now that they’re in New
Jersey, they’re in trouble. The statute here is different.”

After a pause, Mr. Nagel added, “Josh’s suit is going to right a major wrong.”

Section 56:8-35.1 of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act reads:
shall be an unlawful practice for a person, who has access to tickets
to an event prior to the tickets’ release for sale to the general
public, to withhold those tickets from sale to the general public in an
amount exceeding 5 percent of all available seating for the event.”

Quote For The Day � The Dish

Quote For The Day � The :

“OMG, you would rather have had a COMMUNIST MUSLIM in charge of your
va*ina? Lady (and I use the term lightly), you ain’t seen NOTHIN’ yet
until that muslim YOU put back into office AGAIN completes his task of
destroying this nation, the muslims take control and YOU, Ms. Female
voter, LOSE all the freedoms you now enjoy, including the female’s right
to VOTE! Sheesh, what low-information voters have done to this
country…” – a commenter at Breitbart.

I usually avoid crazy commenters but this one had a certain kick to it.

Dear OutKast | Opinion | Creative Loafing Atlanta

Dear OutKast | Opinion | Creative Loafing Atlanta: Now to the point of my humble grumble: This is not a narrow-minded rant from a provincial fan who's pissed because his favorite group is coming with it and he didn't get a backstage pass. OK, maybe it is. But with good intention, I assure you. I know it's too early to confirm so forgive me for drawing any premature conclusions, but word on the curb is y'all ain't playing a show in Atlanta? And I'm sorry, but CounterPoint just doesn't count. The closest scheduled festival OutKast is headlining can't be an hour outside metro Atlanta. Don't get it twisted; I've already purchased my ticket. But for the original ATLiens to do a flyover without touching down in Atlantis, well, that's like E.T. forgetting to phone home.

NCAA Should Be Begging for a Union - Bloomberg

NCAA Should Be Begging for a Union - Bloomberg: NCAA president Mark Emmert continues to prattle on about the sanctity of the “student-athlete,” the amateur. At this point, he might as well be Nicolae Ceausescu touting the glories of communism to a square filled with citizens in the throes of democratic revolt. Northwestern’s proposed union gives him and the NCAA a life preserver, a way to maintain something pretty closely resembling the lucrative status quo, including its asymmetrical power arrangement.

TSA Agent Confession - POLITICO Magazine

TSA Agent Confession - POLITICO Magazine: Each day I had to look into the eyes of passengers in niqabs and thawbs undergoing full-body pat-downs, having been guilty of nothing besides holding passports from the wrong nations. As the son of a German-American mother and an African-American father who was born in the Jim Crow South, I can pass for Middle Eastern, so the glares directed at me felt particularly accusatory. The thought nagged at me that I was enabling the same government-sanctioned bigotry my father had fought so hard to escape.

Most of us knew the directives were questionable, but orders were orders. And in practice, officers with common sense were able to cut corners on the most absurd rules, provided supervisors or managers weren’t looking.

 Then a man tried to destroy a plane with an underwear bomb, and everything changed.

Why I Hired an Executive with a Mental Illness - Rob Lachenauer - Harvard Business Review

Why I Hired an Executive with a Mental Illness - Rob Lachenauer - Harvard Business Review: In the case of my colleague (who gave her blessing to this piece), what she brought to the table was deep self-awareness, a keen mind, and profound emotional intelligence. Working closely with her opened my eyes to finding talent – and a different kind of talent – where I had never seen it before. And when I am talking to candidates nowadays, in the final interview round, I ask them to tell me something deeply meaningful to them personally. Not everybody needs — or cares — to be so open as my colleague was, but if candidates can’t share some vulnerability, they’re out. They may be good, but they’re not good enough to work in any business which demands that we be fully human.

Fantasy Hollywood: restaging classic films with black models | World news | theguardian.com

Fantasy Hollywood: restaging classic films with black models | World news | theguardian.com: When two Dakar-based photographers messed with some very familiar screen moments, they were taken aback by the racial dimension to the response

Who wants competition? Big cable tries outlawing municipal broadband in Kansas | Ars Technica

Who wants competition? Big cable tries outlawing municipal broadband in Kansas | Ars Technica: Since satellite can be used pretty much anywhere at broadband speeds (but with annoying latency), it would be hard to identify any "unserved areas" as defined by this legislation. The bill does allow networks "for internal government purposes," but not for any users outside the government.

The bill has unsurprisingly drawn outrage. "The language in this bill prohibits not only networks that directly offer services but even public-private partnerships and open access approaches," wrote Christopher Mitchell of Community Broadband Networks. "This is the kind of language one would expect to see if the goal is to protect politically powerful cable and telephone company monopolies rather than just limiting local authority to deliver services."

30 January, 2014

Atlanta Snow Storm - POLITICO Magazine

Atlanta Snow Storm - POLITICO Magazine:

And that brings us back to Atlanta’s present snowbound state. There was
no coordination around school closings, because there are more than
two-dozen city and county school systems in “Atlanta.” There was little
coordination between highway clearance and service to city streets
because “Atlanta” is comprised of dozens of municipalities connected by
state and federal highway systems. In one of the most surreal episodes
today, Charley English, the head of the Georgia Emergency Management
Association, asserted that gridlock wasn’t severe around 3 and 4 p.m.
Tuesday, never mind that traffic maps
glared red and motorists had already been sitting on freeways for hours
at that time. Mayor Reed claimed that the city had done its part
getting motorists out of downtown Atlanta, and that getting them the
rest of the way home was up to the state. On Tuesday night, Gov. Nathan
Deal outrageously called the storm “unexpected,” never
mind weather reports warning of the snowfall. During his Wednesday
morning press conference, he spoke of the relief that will come with a
thaw. An act of God might have triggered the fiasco, but wishing for
another one to bring it to an end is hardly leadership.

29 January, 2014

Vaccine Fear Mongers Are Wrong, But They're Not Ideological

Vaccine Fear Mongers Are Wrong, But They're Not Ideological: To translate, the op-ed heaping ridicule on the anti-vaccine advocates essentially sent a tribal signal to (some, not all) conservatives, saying that the anti-vaxers are your kind of people, or at least, the people you hate also hate anti-vaxers. They responded by moving over to the anti-vaccine position. So liberals, take note: if you want to convince as many people as possible, when you're talking about this you should consider the opposition to vaccines a unique, non-ideological misconception, which it is.

Pope Francis Cover Story: The Times They Are A-Changin' | Culture | Rolling Stone

Pope Francis Cover Story: The Times They Are A-Changin' | Culture | Rolling Stone:

The touchingly enduring Mr. Smith Goes to Washington/Bulworth/Aaron
Sorkin fantasy in which a noble political figure finally tells the
American people the truth tends not to happen in real-life democracy,
you may have noticed. There's too much money, too many special interests
infecting electoral politics. Such a scenario could probably take place
only in an arcane throwback of an institution like the Vatican, where
secret ballots and an utter absence of transparency made the rise of an
unknown quantity like Bergoglio possible. Had the race instead been for
an obscure House seat in Kentucky, the opposition research team would
have reduced his campaign to rubble within a couple of weeks.

By all accounts, the papal conclave that elevated Bergoglio assumed
it was electing a fairly anodyne compromise candidate. Cardinals liked
the idea of a pope from Latin America, one of the Church's leading
growth markets. They also responded well to a stirring three-minute
speech Bergoglio gave during the conclave, in which he said the Church,
in order to survive, must stop "living within herself, of herself, for

But he gave no other indication that he'd be any kind of change
agent. In the days after his election, most newspapers described him as a
safe, conservative choice. Bergoglio himself had already picked out a
retirement spot back home in Argentina, where he fully expected to
return after participating in the conclave as a voter.

A Second Toxic Chemical Spilled in West Virginia, and Freedom Industries Said Nothing Until Now - Businessweek

A Second Toxic Chemical Spilled in West Virginia, and Freedom Industries Said Nothing Until Now - Businessweek: The most alarming aspects of the CDC update are that it was only on Jan. 21 that Freedom Industries informed state authorities about the presence of PPH and that the company is still not being fully forthcoming about the nature of the compound. Why the secrecy? Because Freedom Industries considers its PPH blend “proprietary.”
Story: Forget West Virginia. Chemical Spills Are an American Tradition

Let that sink in. The company that stored dangerous chemicals on a river bank, a mile and a half upstream from the intake to the region’s public water supply, wants to protect trade secrets about its polyglycol ethers recipe. In New York, we call that chutzpah.

Are the people who own and run this company aware that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charleston is conducting a criminal investigation? If not, their lawyers better tell them pronto. To put it mildly, the Freedom boys aren’t doing themselves any favors in how they’re handling their crisis.

China's First Lunar Rover Live-Blogged Its Own Death | Motherboard

China's First Lunar Rover Live-Blogged Its Own Death | Motherboard: “The sun has fallen, and the temperature is dropping so quickly...to tell you all a secret, I don't feel that sad. I was just in my own adventure story - and like every hero, I encountered a small problem."

"Goodnight, Earth," concluded the rover. "Goodnight, humanity."

Cue full-body sobs.

Why the South Fell Apart in the Snow

Why the South Fell Apart in the Snow: I get it. Two inches of snow shuts down major metropolitan areas (not just Atlanta). It's funny! It's funny because when it snows two inches where you live, it's nothing, you might as well be in West Palm Beach. Southerners lose their s***, though! Hilarious.

It's fine if that's how you want to process what happened yesterday and today. But if you do, you are wrong, and you are an asshole.

Chipper Jones Rescued Freddie Freeman In The Snowstorm

Chipper Jones Rescued Freddie Freeman In The Snowstorm: A state of emergency has been declared in Georgia, as a rare snowstorm has dumped up to four inches across the state. Babies born on the interstate, hundreds of schoolkids unable to get home, and for Atlanta residents, it's a travel nightmare unseen in years. Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman was one of those stranded, but he's got a guardian angel.

Here now, a tale of man against the elements, of bravery and of heroism, and of Chipper Jones, a key party in this ice storm.

My Fox News Nightmare: How I Tortured Myself with The Propaganda of Ignorance | Alternet

My Fox News Nightmare: How I Tortured Myself with The Propaganda of Ignorance | Alternet:

Even in my short time watching Fox I found poverty fading from my
mind as a problem. I was surprised one day when, during a discussion of
deficit reduction (something that they talk about almost constantly), I
found myself nodding in agreement that there was room to cut social
programs that had already been radically slashed. Fox couldn’t convince
me to care about the issues they are obsessed with (Obama’s treachery
and the deficit, mostly), but by simply failing to mention a topic like
income inequality, it managed to make me stop caring about the things it
would prefer that I ignore.

I have an optimistic view of
Americans. I think we are basically a kind and generous people—that if
we are confronted with suffering, we are willing to act, even to
sacrifice our own interests, in order to alleviate it. Perhaps, I began
to think, we are not becoming progressively crueler and more callous, as
it sometimes appears. Perhaps we have simply forgotten about the
suffering all around us because we haven’t been reminded of it lately.

28 January, 2014

How Obama Prepares for the Grueling State of the Union - The Daily Beast

How Obama Prepares for the Grueling State of the Union - The Daily Beast:

Along with a few championship games and award shows, the State of the
Union is one of the few annual events that tens of millions of
Americans still watch together, as a country. For a brief moment, we get
to witness our system of government as the proud, democratic
institution it was meant to be, not the sad, partisan spectacle it has
too often become. Elected officials of both parties gather in one
chamber, and (minus Joe Wilson) treat each other with civility, respect,
and even warmth. Republicans will line up early to pose for pictures
with President Obama, just as Democrats would reach over their
colleagues to shake hands with President Bush. Sure, there are many
times during the speech where one party applauds and the other does not.
But there are many more times when both parties stand to cheer their
president’s words: about our troops or our veterans; our children or our
workers; our shared love of this country and its special, indispensible
place in the world.

27 January, 2014

NSA speech: More important is this presidential directive that's being issued along with it.

NSA speech: More important is this presidential directive that's being issued along with it.:

My Slate colleagues will have plenty of
analysis of the president's big national security address. I'll have
less; this is a speech designed to defend and obfuscate and win a
certain sort of foreign headline, not one designed to really inform.
More important than the speech itself is the directive being issued as
it's given—the directive I've posted below. What starts with a lot of
on-the-one-hand-ing about how spying is necessary gets into some
promises about the stoppage of bulk surveillance, with caveats.

The limitations contained in this section do not apply to
signals intelligence data that is temporarily acquired to facilitate
targeted collection. References to signals intelligence data collected
in "bulk" mean the  authorized collection of large quantities of signals
intelligence data which, due to technical or operational
considerations, is acquired without the use of discriminants (e.g.,
specific identifiers, selection terms, etc.). 

Duty: The funniest part of Robert Gates' very serious new memoir.

Duty: The funniest part of Robert Gates' very serious new memoir.: I was put off by the way the president closed the meeting. To his very closest advisers, he said, "For the record, and for those of you writing your memoirs, I am not making any decisions about Israel or Iran. Joe, you be my witness." I was offended by his suspicion that any of us would ever write about such sensitive matters.

Yes, what would give the president that idea?

I Watched The New Mitt Romney Documentary With My Wife And It Was A Huge Mistake

I Watched The New Mitt Romney Documentary With My Wife And It Was A Huge Mistake: “He was the real deal,” Mitt says, marveling at his late father, George. “The guy was born in Mexico. He didn’t have a college degree. He became head of a car company and became a governor,” Mitt goes on, contrasting his father’s achievements with his own. “I started where he ended up. I started off with money and education and Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School.”

“I’m standing on his shoulders,” Mitt concludes, before kneeling in prayer and thanking God for the opportunities his parents provided him.

26 January, 2014

Coding in color — Medium

Coding in color — Medium: Not sure if anyone has done work on this idea before, but I’m curious what it would be like to live with this implemented in a code editor. It might not scale to extremely large and/or complex files as is. But if you want to help, feel free to start with my code (or, even better, implement it in a smarter way!).

Delta Force commando who saved 'numerous lives' in Benghazi seige honored - Washington Times

Delta Force commando who saved 'numerous lives' in Benghazi seige honored - Washington Times: “Without regard for his own safety, Master Sergeant Halbruner’s valorous actions, dedication to duty and willingness to place himself in harm’s way for the protection of others was critical to the success of saving numerous United States civilian lives. Throughout the operation, Master Sergeant Halbruner continually exposed himself to fire as he shepherded unarmed civilians to safety and treated the critically wounded. His calm demeanor, professionalism and courage was an inspiration to all and contributed directly to the success of the mission. Master Sergeant Halbruner’s distinctive accomplishments are in keeping with the finest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his Command and the United States Army.”

Vox is our next | The Verge

Vox is our next | The Verge:

New information is not always —
and perhaps not even usually — the most important information for
understanding a topic. The overriding focus on the new made sense when
the dominant technology was newsprint: limited space forces hard
choices. You can't print a newspaper telling readers everything they
need to know about the world, day after day. But you can print a
newspaper telling them what they need to know about what happened on
Monday. The constraint of newness was crucial.

The web has no such limits.
There's space to tell people both what happened today and what happened
that led to today. But the software newsrooms have adopted in the
digital age has too often reinforced a workflow built around the old
medium. We've made the news faster, more beautiful, and more accessible.
But in doing we've carried the constraints of an old technology over to
a new one.

Sad YouTube: The Lost Treasures Of The Internet's Greatest Cesspool

Sad YouTube: The Lost Treasures Of The Internet's Greatest Cesspool:

I didn’t know who Harris or “breackinme” were,
where they lived, how they met, how old either of them were — but in
three lines, I felt like I knew something profound about their lives.
The comment was just so honest and raw (I loved how the author
un-self-consciously wrote “you were the sickest guy I’ve met in a
while”) that I knew it deserved to be held onto, somehow.

The more
I looked, the more I found. And I discovered that, secretly, the
YouTube comment box had become the strangest and most wonderful place on
the internet. A place that was fascinating, endlessly moving, and
heartbreakingly human.

Dying grandmother's mystery code cracked by the internet after 20 years

Dying grandmother's mystery code cracked by the internet after 20 years:

Ask MetaFilter member JannaK presented the community with a puzzle that
had been troubling her family for nearly 20 years. Her grandmother died
in 1996 from cancer and in her last days she scribbled down a
seemingly non-sensical string of characters on index cards. Nobody knew
what it all meant. Then the Metafilter community solved the puzzle in 14

According to the posting,
JannaK's grandmother left at least 20 of the cards behind but neither
JannaK nor her cousins could solve what they assumed were codes. Her
father discovered one of the cards lying around recently, and so JannaK
put it to the community. Holy moly, wouldn't you know it? The code
turned out to be last prayers of a dying woman. Each letter stood for
the first letter of the word in a prayer or message to God.

25 January, 2014

Letters of Note: Oh God for one more breath

Letters of Note: Oh God for one more breath: Ellen, darling, goodbye for us both. Elbert said the Lord has saved him. We are all praying for air to support us, but it is getting so bad without any air.

Ellen I want you to live right and come to heaven. Raise the children the best you can. Oh how I wish to be with you, goodbye. Bury me and Elbert in the same grave by little Eddie. Godbye Ellen, goodbye Lily, goodbye Jemmie, goodbye Horace. We are together. Is 25 minutes after two. There is a few of us alive yet.

Jake and Elbert

 Oh God for one more breath. Ellen remember me as long as you live Goodbye darling.

The evil, evil, of slavery

Willie Lynch letter: The Making of a Slave: Additional Note: “Henty Berry, speaking in the Virginia House of Delegates in 1832, described the situation as it existed in many parts of the South at this time: “We have, as far as possible, closed every avenue by which light may enter their (the slaves) minds. If we could extinguish the capacity to see the light, our work would be complete; they would then be on a level with the beasts of the field and we should be safe. I am not certain that we would not do it, if we could find out the process and that on the plea of necessity.” From Brown America, The story of a New Race by Edwin R. Embree. 1931 The Viking Press.

Brr! Madison ranked the third-coldest major U.S. city : Ct

Brr! Madison ranked the third-coldest major U.S. city : Ct: Baby, it really is cold outside. Especially in Wisconsin's capital city.

Madison is the third-coldest major city in the U.S., according to a ranking assembled by the Weather Channel.

German Olympians will wear rainbow-colored uniforms in Sochi | For The Win

German Olympians will wear rainbow-colored uniforms in Sochi | For The Win: Russia’s anti-gay law has sparked much protest ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, and many athletes have publicly spoken out to support the LGBT community. During a runway show in D�sseldorf Tuesday, German Olympians revealed vibrant new uniforms that are being called a “silent protest.”

24 January, 2014

“We Just Can’t Have You Here” | WEEKEND

“We Just Can’t Have You Here” | WEEKEND:

I see that Yale is a fundamentally unhealthy place in one important
way. The problem is, everyone is “okay.” I have known friends who have
suffered the deaths of siblings, who have been victims of sexual assault
or who have fought life-threatening illness, all while navigating their
sexuality, while taking five-and-a-half credits, while chairing more
organizations and running to more meetings than they can keep track of. I
have known friends to do all of this and still profess, at every
opportunity, to be “okay,” “fine,” “great.”

To say something else, to be — in our own minds and in the minds of
others — something else, is for some reason not acceptable at Yale. None
of us are completely okay. But the pressure to conform to being
perfectly functional and happy is a burden that we should neither want
nor bear.

23 January, 2014

What Jobs Will the Robots Take? - Derek Thompson - The Atlantic

What Jobs Will the Robots Take? - Derek Thompson - The Atlantic: Computers that can drive cars, in particular, were never supposed to happen. Even ten years ago, many engineers said it was impossible. Navigating a crowded street isn't mindlessly routine. It needs a deft combination of spacial awareness, soft focus, and constant anticipation--skills that are quintessentially human. But I don't need to tell you about Google's self-driving cars, because they're one of the most over-covered stories in tech today.

And that's the most remarkable thing: In a decade, the idea of computers driving cars went from impossible to boring.

The Mexican Drug Cartel's Underground Marijuana Tunnel

The Mexican Drug Cartel's Underground Marijuana Tunnel:

Durst wanted to wait once more and follow the vans. Where would they
go? How many more nodes of the cartel's distribution ring could he take
down? By now he had called forty-five men into the field. Helicopters
buzzed overhead. Tailing five vans to God knew where would require more
men and resources than he could readily muster. The whole operation was
on the verge of becoming a crazy, unwieldy hydra. Durst had let the
string unwind to the last manageable point; now there was only one

“Take it down,” he finally said.

As a veteran of an unwinnable war that has gone on for twenty-one
years and turned the U.S.-Mexican border into Swiss cheese, he'd given
that order many times before. But this bust would be unlike any other.
In addition to the vans, there was the tunnel itself, which turned out
to be a marvel of illegal engineering. The Mexican entrance, hidden in a
two-story warehouse near the airport, had an elevator that popped up
out of a tile floor. Its shaft descended thirty feet, to a staging area
where bales could be loaded onto an electrically driven mining car. The
railway traveled through the 550-yard tunnel atop wood planks. “It is
clearly the most sophisticated tunnel we have ever found,” said Lauren
Mack, the task-force spokesperson on-site at the time. The tunnel—along
with many others—was believed to be the pet project of a single man.
American law enforcement had been hunting him for years, but he had
always managed to remain far enough removed from his creations that
nobody could get to him. That is, until Durst let the string
unwind—right to his doorstep.

Upward Mobility Has Not Declined, Study Says - NYTimes.com

Upward Mobility Has Not Declined, Study Says - NYTimes.com: As part of the same project, some of the same researchers released a study last summer showing that the odds of escaping poverty in some parts of the United States were much higher than in others.

In the most mobile metropolitan areas, such as Salt Lake City and San Francisco, mobility rates are similar to those in western Europe. In the least mobile areas, including Atlanta, Charlotte and much of the industrial Midwest, the odds are much lower.

The variation, Mr. Saez said, offers hope that researchers will be able to learn more about the factors that contribute to upward mobility.

The Liberal Surveillance State — Crooked Timber

The Liberal Surveillance State — Crooked Timber: What is rather conspicuously lacking is any evidence that these people (and it is interesting, as an aside, that Chelsea Manning’s fate and motivation don’t even get a mention) are dead-set on their joint goal of “wound[ing] the liberal state.” Snowden, as you’d expect from a Paulite, doesn’t like welfare. Greenwald has made some very unfortunate statements about immigrants. Assange’s politics are whatever Assange’s politics are. But these do not, under any reasonable interpretation, add up to a sekrit shared agenda of trying to take down the liberal state as it’s usually understood. None of the revelations to date have had any relevance whatsoever to welfare or immigration policy, let alone dire implications for them. Somehow, I suspect that none of the future revelations will either. If imaginary-Edward-Snowden were running for the Senate, and I was thinking about whether to vote for him, I’d find his views on welfare very, very relevant. Since actual-Edward-Snowden is running from the government for leaking security information … not so much.

Z�calo Public Square :: Make Your City Council Meetings Feel Like a Starbucks

Z�calo Public Square :: Make Your City Council Meetings Feel Like a Starbucks: Would your community be better off if your city council met at the local Starbucks?

The answer is almost certainly yes. Compared to people in other states, few Californians talk to their neighbors and work together with them to solve local problems. But the most natural forums to meet with neighbors on community challenges—local meetings of the city council or school boards—aren’t designed to encourage conversation among citizens.

Walk into a council chamber or school board meeting room in your town, and you’ll likely see rows of chairs facing some sort of raised dais or stage, where the council members or board members sit. (Check out images of city council meetings around L.A. County here.)

The whole point of the setup is to have you look at the politicians, not your fellow citizens. Essentially, city council chambers are laid out like church, and, as in church, you’re not supposed to talk too much. So it’s not surprising that fewer and fewer Americans bother to go to city council meetings (or, for that matter, to church).

Jennifer Greenburg's portraits take look inside America's Rockabilly community | Mail Online

Jennifer Greenburg's portraits take look inside America's Rockabilly community | Mail Online: The community of people Ms Greenburg has documented, she believes, usually have a desire for this kind of joyousness that was lost in the 21st Century. 'Happiness, I believe, is everyone’s primary full-time job. And living a life that resembles, visually, the 1950’s helps make that just a little easier,' she said.

From re-wiring a lamp, to re-sewing the seams of a Fifties cocktail dress, Ms Greenburg added that most true participants of the culture are skilled at repairing and restoring most of their possessions.

'It is not as easy as going down to the shopping center and buying "a look" off the rack,' she said. 'The Rockabillies take preservation into account as
they sculpt their existence. And the culture existed long before it was commonplace to "recycle."'

Cuomo: Pro-Lifers Not Welcome in New York Remark Was ‘Distorted’ | National Review Online

Cuomo: Pro-Lifers Not Welcome in New York Remark Was ‘Distorted’ | National Review Online: You’ve seen that play out in New York, their SAFE Act – the Republican-party candidates are running against the SAFE Act. It was voted for by moderate Republicans who run the senate. Their problem is not me and Democrats, their problem is themselves. Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives, who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay, is that who they are? Because if that is who they are, and if they are the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York. Because that is not who New Yorkers are.

An explanation and apology

The Dr. V Story: A Letter From the Editor �: For us, this had become a story about a writer falling into, for lack of a better phrase, a reporting abyss. The writer originally asked a simple question — So what’s up with this putter? — that evolved into something else entirely. His latest draft captured that journey as cleanly and crisply as possible. As editors, we read his final draft through the lens of everything we had already learned over those eight months, as well as a slew of additional information that ended up not making the final piece. When anyone criticizes the Dr. V feature for lacking empathy in the final few paragraphs, they’re right. Had we pushed Caleb to include a deeper perspective about his own feelings, and his own fears of culpability, that would have softened those criticisms. Then again, Caleb had spent the piece presenting himself as a curious reporter, nothing more. Had he shoehorned his own perspective/feelings/emotions into the ending, it could have been perceived as unnecessarily contrived. And that’s not a good outcome, either.

Data and its Discontents – notes and reflections from a panel at Microsoft Research Social Computing Symposium | ... My heart’s in Accra

Data and its Discontents – notes and reflections from a panel at Microsoft Research Social Computing Symposium | ... My heart’s in Accra:

The smartest phrase I’ve heard about big data and ethics comes from my friend Sunil Abraham
of the Bangalore Center of Internet and Society, who was involved with
those conversations at OSF. He offers this formulation: “The more
powerful you are, the more surveillance you should be subject to. The
less powerful you are, the more surveillance you should be protected
from.” In other words, it’s reasonable to both demand transparency from
elected officials and financial institutions, while working to protect
ordinary consumers or, especially, the vulnerable poor. Kate Crawford
echoed this concern, tweeting a story by Virginia Eubanks
that makes the case that surveillance is currently separate and
unequal, more focused on welfare recipients and the working poor than on
more privileged Americans.

The toll of the anti-vaccination movement, in one devastating graphic - latimes.com

The toll of the anti-vaccination movement, in one devastating graphic - latimes.com: But in the developed world it's an artifact of the anti-vaccination movement, which has associated the vaccine with autism. That connection, promoted by the discredited British physician Andrew Wakefield and the starlet Jenny McCarthy, has been thoroughly debunked. But its effects live on, as the map shows.

Vaccine panic also plays a role in the shocking incidence in the U.S. of whooping cough, also beatable by a common vaccine. Researchers have pointed to the effect of "non-medical exemptions" from legally required whooping cough immunizations -- those premised on personal beliefs rather than medical reasons -- as a factor in a 2010 outbreak of whooping cough in California.


Jennifer Lawrence also doesn't like having Homeland spoiled for her � The A.V. Club: The Access reporter clearly missed when Lawrence said she wasn't caught up, since she asks her of Lewis' character, “Are you upset that he died?” Lawrence is stunned, and what had previously been a typically humdrum pre-show interview suddenly becomes extremely uncomfortable tragicomedy, as Lawrence reprimands the hapless interviewers for ruining her favorite show. (“I’m like past mad. It’s this weird other emotion...I feel like my heart just fell out.”)

Let this be a lesson to all red carpet reporters conducting tedious pre-show interviews: Do not spoil TV for Jennifer Lawrence, lest ye incur her wrath and be branded a monster.

22 January, 2014

Jennifer Lawrence also doesn't like having Homeland spoiled for her � The A.V. Club

Jennifer Lawrence also doesn't like having Homeland spoiled for her � The A.V. Club: [Obligatory spoiler warning for the third season of Homeland.] As a working actress with a busy schedule, Jennifer Lawrence doesn’t have time to keep up with her favorite television shows as they air. And so, while on the red carpet for this past weekend's SAG Awards, she geeked out during an interview with Access Hollywood when she noticed Homeland’s Damian Lewis nearby, with one major catch: She’s only seen the first two seasons, so she had no idea of Brody’s fate at the end of the most recent season.

Mark Hamill here. In an AMA far, far away... : IAmA

Mark Hamill here. In an AMA far, far away... : IAmA: Carrie Fisher summed it up well when she said "I'm not famous, but I look like somebody who is famous."

21 January, 2014

Jewishness: Who is a Jew? | The Economist

Jewishness: Who is a Jew? | The Economist: For Orthodox Jews like Rabbi Tubul, the solution is simple and ancient: you are a Jew if your mother is Jewish, or if your conversion to Judaism accorded with the Halacha, Jewish religious law. Gentiles might be surprised that for Jews by birth this traditional test makes no reference to faith or behaviour. Jews may be atheist (many are: apostasy is a venerable Jewish tradition) and still Jews. Joel Roth, a Conservative rabbi at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, likens this nativist criterion to that for American citizenship: Americans retain it regardless of their views on democracy or the constitution. Some strict rabbis even think that a child is not Jewish if born to a devout mother but from a donated gentile egg.

As some Jewish leaders privately acknowledge, this formula has uncomfortable racial undertones.

The Public Housing Experiment | Boston Review

The Public Housing Experiment | Boston Review: Decisions and developments from 1950 to 1970, Shester argues, accelerated the physical deterioration of public housing and increased the concentration of troubled families living there. Limits on government maintenance funds, like the limits on the original construction costs, hampered the housing managers. And because of imposed rent ceilings, local housing agencies could not get the funds sufficient to keep up repairs by charging tenants. Physical dilapidation followed.

At the same time, tightening the requirements that housing be provided only to the neediest families meant that stable working-class families, once part of the mix, were gone. The renters became increasingly and exclusively the poorest and most troubled families. Their growing concentration in dense (and tense) settings compounded the problems of order. By 1970, public housing projects had gained their nightmarish image. Pruitt–Igoe (and others) came down.

Technology Is Not Driving Us Apart After All - NYTimes.com

Technology Is Not Driving Us Apart After All - NYTimes.com: It turns out that people like hanging out in public more than they used to, and those who most like hanging out are people using their phones. On the steps of the Met, “loiterers” — those present in at least two consecutive film samples, inhabiting the same area for 15 seconds or more — constituted 7 percent of the total (that is to say, the other 93 percent were just passing through). That was a 57 percent increase from 30 years earlier. And those using mobile phones there were five times as likely to “loiter” as other people. In other words, not that many people are talking, or reading, texting or playing Candy Crush on the phone, but those who do stick around longer. (In the case of Bryant Park, it doesn’t hurt that the area is no longer an open-air drug market — a major problem that P.P.S. was trying to root out in the ‘80s.)

According to Hampton, our tendency to interact with others in public has, if anything, improved since the ‘70s.

Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.]

Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.]: I hope you are able to see the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience.

Peggy Noonan with a thoughtful comparison

Who Is 'Boo' Burnham? - Peggy Noonan's Blog - WSJ:

It is astonishing and cannot go unremarked that Mississippi’s Gov.
Frank “Boo” Burnham, the conservative who won a 2011 landslide, gave an
interview Friday in which he demonstrated all that is wrong in American
politics—all its division, its intolerance, its ignorance and sickness.
Burnham damned and removed from the rolls of the respectable everyone
in his state who is pro-choice, who is for some form of gun control, and
who supports gay marriage. In a radio interview marked by a tone of
smug indignation and self-righteousness, Burnham said “extreme liberals”
who are “for abortion, who hate guns, who want homosexuals to marry—if
that’s who they are they’re the extreme liberals, they have no place in
the state of Mississippi because that’s not who Mississippians are.”

The problem with this kind of statement, obviously, and whatever your
politics and wherever you’re from, is that a great and varied nation
cannot function like this, with its own leaders declaring huge swatches
of voters anathema and suggesting they should go someplace else. It is
an example of the kind of government-encouraged polarization that can do
us in. Democracy involves that old-fashioned thing called working it
out. You don’t tell people who disagree with you they’d be better off
somewhere else. And you don’t reduce them to stereotypes; you address
them as fully formed people worthy of respect. You try to persuade

Madison Holleran Suicide: UPenn Freshman Jumps To Death Over Grades At Ivy League College

Madison Holleran Suicide: UPenn Freshman Jumps To Death Over Grades At Ivy League College: Madison Holleran, a 19-year-old University of Pennsylvania freshman, died in Philadelphia Friday night in what police called an apparent suicide. Her father later said her death was linked to the “stress” of keeping good grades at her Ivy League school.

“Loving Your Enemies,” Sermon Delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church**

“Loving Your Enemies,” Sermon Delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church**: Another way that you love your enemy is this: When the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy, that is the time which you must not do it. There will come a time, in many instances, when the person who hates you most, the person who has misused you most, the person who has gossiped about you most, the person who has spread false rumors about you most, there will come a time when you will have an opportunity to defeat that person. It might be in terms of a recommendation for a job; it might be in terms of helping that person to make some move in life. That’s the time you must do it. That is the meaning of love. In the final analysis, love is not this sentimental something that we talk about. It’s not merely an emotional something. Love is creative, understanding goodwill for all men. It is the refusal to defeat any individual. When you rise to the level of love, of its great beauty and power, you seek only to defeat evil systems. Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love, but you seek to defeat the system.

20 January, 2014

That Your Days May Be Long by Megan Hustad - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics

That Your Days May Be Long by Megan Hustad - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics:

On occasion the subject would come up. My evangelical background. Wow, flushed faces at parties leaned in to ask, what was it like growing up with adults so hooked on fairy tales?
My ability to quickly change the subject eventually outstripped my
embarrassment, but not before I had internalized every critique of what
faith in God now signified in America: intolerance, sanctimony,
tut-tutting over Hollywood and the welfare office, a yawning void where
curiosity and compassion could be.

But when I felt led to a conversational place wherein I was expected
to confirm that everyone who takes part in the rituals of organized
religion drags their knuckles on their way to stoning the town slut, I
would stop. I couldn’t. That I would have to drop the word “soul” from
my vocabulary I hadn’t expected. Sometimes a day delivered snatches of
the Sermon on the Mount and I pictured the sermon as my father might,
with Jesus sounding suspiciously like Alan Rickman. Jesus is up on a
hill, surrounded by supporters, sweat pooling in the smalls of their
backs, sun glinting off distant low-slung roofs.

7 Moments That Made 'Frozen' the Most Progressive Disney Movie Ever - PolicyMic

7 Moments That Made 'Frozen' the Most Progressive Disney Movie Ever - PolicyMic: The beauty of this is that Disney is, essentially, making fun of itself for its poor plot choices. Though it attempted to address the problem in Brave with arranged marriages, in Frozen it finally tackles the painfully problematic trope it has created: getting married to someone you just met — and the notion that all women are supposed to want marriage.

How Rush Limbaugh Decides What Is True - Conor Friedersdorf - The Atlantic

How Rush Limbaugh Decides What Is True - Conor Friedersdorf - The Atlantic: It's just every Republican who has entered the fray defending Christie has to put a caveat out there "if he's telling the truth." Now, if there were a fervent ideological foundation, if there was a substantive reason of believing in Governor Christie, then whether he lied wouldn't matter. They'd be out there defending him left and right just to make sure the Democrats don't get away with this. And I'll admit that was part of the reason that I jumped into Clarence Thomas. There was no way they were gonna get away with this if I had the ability to have a little bit of something to do with it. There's no way. I wasn't gonna sit there and put up with this. I'd done enough to find out he was a fine man and know this was a witch hunt. They were out to seek and destroy.

Almost No Americans Die From Lightning Strikes Anymore—Why? - Rebecca J. Rosen - The Atlantic

Almost No Americans Die From Lightning Strikes Anymore—Why? - Rebecca J. Rosen - The Atlantic: In the first half of the 20th century, hundreds of Americans died each year from lightning strikes. The data is messy, but in the years from about 1920 to the middle of the 1940s, about 400 people were killed by lightning annually.

Last year, 23 did, the fewest on record. Other recent years have had a similarly small number of lightning fatalities, with 28 in 2012, and 26 in 2011, the previous record.

These numbers are all the more remarkable considering how the population of the United States has exploded over the same time period. Measured on a per person basis, the decline in lightning deaths over the last century is staggering, falling from about 3 or 4 annual deaths per million Americans, to fewer than 0.1 in recent years.

Live-Blogging President Obama's NSA Speech | The Volokh ConspiracyThe Volokh Conspiracy

Live-Blogging President Obama's NSA Speech | The Volokh ConspiracyThe Volokh Conspiracy: The limits on retention of personal data of foreigners also make little sense. NSA often collects data that has proven to be valuable in the past, and holds it for later search. It doesn’t have time or resources to evaluate the entire database right away. Now, it seems as though the NSA will have to evaluate all that data right away, not to find actionable intelligence but to scrub out the personal data of any foreign national whose communications might be found there. Now, maybe in time, we’ll find workarounds to avoid dumb results like that, but remember NSA’s culture. No one there is going to say, “This is dumb, the President can’t mean that, so let’s apply his guidance with a leavening of common sense.” They’re going to say, “Until you hear from the lawyers, apply the directive in the strictest possible way, no matter how dumb that seems.”

Obama's NSA 'reforms' are little more than a PR attempt to mollify the public | Glenn Greenwald | Comment is free | The Guardian

Obama's NSA 'reforms' are little more than a PR attempt to mollify the public | Glenn Greenwald | Comment is free | The Guardian: Ultimately, the radical essence of the NSA – a system of suspicion-less spying aimed at hundreds of millions of people in the US and around the world – will fully endure even if all of Obama's proposals are adopted. That's because Obama never hid the real purpose of this process. It is, he and his officials repeatedly acknowledged, "to restore public confidence" in the NSA. In other words, the goal isn't to truly reform the agency; it is deceive people into believing it has been so that they no longer fear it or are angry about it.

As the ACLU's executive director Anthony Romero said after the speech:

The president should end – not mend – the government's collection and retention of all law-abiding Americans' data. When the government collects and stores every American's phone call data, it is engaging in a textbook example of an 'unreasonable search' that violates the constitution.

The Whistle-Blower Who Freed Dreyfus - NYTimes.com

The Whistle-Blower Who Freed Dreyfus - NYTimes.com:

was then that Picquart, after 25 years’ army service, realized he had
no alternative but to break ranks. He passed his evidence against
Esterhazy to a senior politician, the vice president of the senate,
Auguste Scheurer-Kestner. Then, at the end of 1897, he provided Émile
Zola with the information that enabled the novelist to write his
celebrated exposé of the affair, “J’Accuse ...!” Picquart’s reward was
to be dismissed from the army, framed as a forger and locked up in
solitary confinement for more than a year.
was not until 1906 that justice was finally done; Dreyfus’s conviction
was quashed, and Picquart was restored to the army with the rank of
brigadier general. That fall, when his friend and fellow Dreyfusard,
Georges Clemenceau — the owner of the newspaper that published “J’Accuse
...!” became prime minister, he made Picquart minister of war, a post
he held for three years.

19 January, 2014

Working for the Few | Oxfam International

Working for the Few | Oxfam International: Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population, and seven out of ten people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the last 30 years. The World Economic Forum has identified economic inequality as a major risk to human progress, impacting social stability within countries and threatening security on a global scale.

How Technology Killed the Future - Douglas Rushkoff - POLITICO Magazine

How Technology Killed the Future - Douglas Rushkoff - POLITICO Magazine:
I feel myself chasing the “now” all the time. Last June, on my way to the stage to speak about the phenomenon of present shock at the Personal Democracy Forum, the NSA scandal hit the wires and CNN began pinging my phone for me to appear on air. Sensing a kind of meta-moment, I switched the approach for my talk and wove the emerging news story into my remarks, reading live updates from my phone as I talked about our urge to be caught in the now. Using any other example of a fast moving news story would have felt past tense. My talk became more of a demonstration: an example of present shock about present shock, on a day of present shock.

It wasn’t always like this.

For the Love of Money - NYTimes.com

For the Love of Money - NYTimes.com:
In the three years since I left, I’ve married, spoken in jails and juvenile detention centers about getting sober, taught a writing class to girls in the foster system, and started a nonprofit called Groceryships to help poor families struggling with obesity and food addiction. I am much happier. I feel as if I’m making a real contribution. And as time passes, the distortion lessens. I see Wall Street’s mantra — “We’re smarter and work harder than everyone else, so we deserve all this money” — for what it is: the rationalization of addicts. From a distance I can see what I couldn’t see then — that Wall Street is a toxic culture that encourages the grandiosity of people who are desperately trying to feel powerful.

I was lucky. My experience with drugs and alcohol allowed me to recognize my pursuit of wealth as an addiction. The years of work I did with my counselor helped me heal the parts of myself that felt damaged and inadequate, so that I had enough of a core sense of self to walk away.

18 January, 2014

Historical Metropolitan Populations of the United States - Peakbagger.com

Historical Metropolitan Populations of the United States - Peakbagger.com:
  • The urban hierarchy of the U.S. was dominated by the Northeast and Midwest until relatively recently. Between 1840 and 1900, 18 out of the top 20 metro areas were in the northeastern quadrant of the current USA, with just New Orleans, plus either Charleston or San Francisco, as the only cities in the South or West. As late as 1960, 15 out of 20 were still outside the "sunbelt".
  • For 80 years, from 1860 to 1930 inclusive, New Orleans was the only southern city in the top 20. Before that, Charleston, SC was the dominant city of the south, falling off the list in 1850. In 1940, Houston, Dallas, and Miami began their rises, and Atlanta didn't crack the top 20 until 1970.
  • Cincinnati was the first major city of the Midwest, making the top 20 list in 1820. By 1890 there were 9 midwestern cities in the top 20.
  • San Francisco was the only western city in the top 20 for 50 years, from 1860 to 1900 inclusive. By 1910 Los Angeles cracked the the top 20, soon overtaking its northern rival. In 2010, the West had more cities on the list (6) than any other region.
  • In 1850, 5 of the top 20 cities were in New York State: New York City (1), Albany (7), Buffalo (10), Rochester (16), and Syracuse (18). The nickname "Empire State" was very apt in the heyday of the Erie Canal.
  • Four northeastern cities (New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore) have been in the top 20 since the first census in 1790. Washington, DC didn't really exist in 1790, but Alexandria, VA was on the list then, and DC itself afterwards, so one could argue that the Washington metro area also has been in the top 20 since independence.
  • By 1930 Washington, DC was ranked #17, down from #5 in 1820. But the expansion of the federal government during the New Deal era and World War II propelled it up to #8 by 1970. It is the only metro area with a U-shaped curve, with a steady decline in rank followed by a steady rise.

The Myth of the Deserving Rich - NYTimes.com

The Myth of the Deserving Rich - NYTimes.com:
What’s a sociologizer to do? Well, what you see, over and over, is that they find ways to avoid talking about the one percent. They talk about the top quintile, or at most the top 5 percent; this lets them discuss rising incomes at the top as if we were talking about two married lawyers or doctors, not the CEOs and private equity managers who are actually driving the numbers. And this in turn lets them keep the focus on comfortable topics like family structure, and away from uncomfortable topics like runaway finance and the corruption of our politics by great wealth.

17 January, 2014

U.S. Strategy and Added Sanctions on Iran: The Role of the Administration and Congress in a “Good Cop, Bad Cop” Approach | Center for Strategic and International Studies

U.S. Strategy and Added Sanctions on Iran: The Role of the Administration and Congress in a “Good Cop, Bad Cop” Approach | Center for Strategic and International Studies: Understand and Remember the Real Objective: Keeping Iran From Deploying Meaningful Nuclear Forces

At the same time, the United States now has every incentive to leverage the success of existing sanctions, take full advantage of the current climate, and to try to make the current negotiations work. They are by far the safest way to remove an Iranian nuclear threat, and it is critical to remember what the threat really is: The real objective is to deny Iran military capability, not to try to deny it technology it has already acquired.

Iran is already at the nuclear breakout point in terms of nuclear enrichment technology. No amount of Israeli or U.S. preventive strikes can roll back Iran’s level of technical understanding. No credible level of Israeli preventive strikes can seriously affect Iran’s technology base. No credible level of U.S. strikes can guarantee that Iran cannot make enough progress in centrifuge design to be able to create a covert and sheltered centrifuge program whether or not most of Iran’s current centrifuge facilities and production base is hit in preventive strikes.

Analysis of Faults in the Menendez-Kirk Iran Sanctions Bill (S. 1881) | Center for Arms Control & Non-Proliferation

Analysis of Faults in the Menendez-Kirk Iran Sanctions Bill (S. 1881) | Center for Arms Control & Non-Proliferation: Section 301(a)(2)(F) requires the President to certify that the United States seeks an agreement “that will dismantle Iran’s illicit nuclear infrastructure.” But while Iran may agree in the end to dismantle some of its nuclear infrastructure, there is no realistic chance that it will dismantle all of its uranium enrichment capability. In order for the President to make this certification, therefore, he will have to argue either that “you didn’t say all of Iran’s illicit nuclear infrastructure” (although that is clearly the bill’s intent) or that “if the negotiators agree to allow some level of nuclear enrichment in Iran, then the facilities are no longer illicit” (which begins to sound like statements by Richard Nixon or the Queen of Hearts).

Iran Sanctions Update: Have Senators Actually Read This Bill? - James Fallows - The Atlantic

Iran Sanctions Update: Have Senators Actually Read This Bill? - James Fallows - The Atlantic:
(b) several clauses and references that apparently support the "zero enrichment" demand laid down by Benjamin Netanyahu but explicitly not endorsed by the U.S. government. These clauses, with repeated requirements that Iran "terminate" or "dismantle" its "illicit nuclear programs," are ambiguous but can (and presumably would) be read as applying to the entirety of Iran's nuclear infrastructure, peaceful or otherwise. This could mean a demand that Iran give up the right not just to weapons-grade uranium but also to low-level enrichment suitable for power plants and other non-military use.
For the background of the "zero enrichment" policy, see this 2009 paper by Matthew Bunn of Harvard's Belfer Center. He argues (as do many other people who have examined the issue) that the zero-option is theoretically appealing but in reality is completely unacceptable to Iran. Thus its inclusion in any set of "negotiating" points is a way to ensure that the negotiations fail. As Bunn puts it, "Insisting on zero will mean no agreement, leaving the world with the risks of acquiescence [to an Iranian nuclear-weapons program] or military strikes."

16 January, 2014

Who Advocates For Diplomacy? | The American Conservative

Who Advocates For Diplomacy? | The American Conservative:
Moreover, both antiwar factions have difficulty advocating for diplomatic engagement for another reason. The antiwar left has fundamental doubts about the integrity of American power. But diplomatic engagement requires a comfort with that power, and understanding of its uses and its limits. The antiwar right, meanwhile, has fundamental doubts about the legitimacy of limits on national sovereignty and freedom of action. But diplomatic engagement, again, requires comfort with the architecture of international relations, which is buttressed all over with liberal internationalist structures of one sort or another.

As a consequence, it’s very difficult for the antiwar constituencies in the two parties (and outside of either) to work together for a foreign policy that is more restrained in its use of force. Which means that right now, both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and the House of Representatives are pushing legislation that pretty much everyone involved in the diplomatic process understands is designed to make a diplomatic solution much less likely.

Why Adolescence Is More Brutal for Parents Than Teenagers -- New York Magazine

Why Adolescence Is More Brutal for Parents Than Teenagers -- New York Magazine: But here’s the truth of the matter. The children of these women at Deirdre’s table? Also the good adolescents. Almost all attend either fine universities or competitive public high schools; all have well-developed interests and talents. All, in person, come across as self-confident and considerate. These aren’t the kids who flunk out, run away, or get expelled.

Yet their parents are still going half-mad. Which raises a question: Is it possible that adolescence is most difficult—and sometimes a crisis—not for teenagers as much as for the adults who raise them? That adolescence has a bigger impact on adults than it does on kids?

Foreign Fisheries Contribute to Marine Mammal Deaths

Foreign Fisheries Contribute to Marine Mammal Deaths: There's something fishy in U.S. seafood, suggests a report finding that methods used in foreign fisheries contribute heavily to deaths of marine mammals such as seals, dolphins, and whales.

"Net Loss: The Killing of Marine Mammals in Foreign Fisheries," the report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) conservation group, suggests that more than 650,000 marine mammals are killed or seriously injured every year—trapped or entangled by illegal nets or longline hooks—in foreign fisheries.

Net neutrality D.C. circuit court ruling: The battle’s been lost, but we can win the war.

Net neutrality D.C. circuit court ruling: The battle’s been lost, but we can win the war.: The only people who remain completely committed to network neutrality and energized to defend it are consumer groups and average Americans who love the Internet. On Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter, people are asking how to reverse the decision and preserve Internet freedom. In Washington, though, having the American public on your side might not be enough to stare down the hundreds of telecom and cable lobbyists. That’s where the consumer groups come in. For many years, organizations like Free Press, the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute, Public Knowledge, and others have been active on this issue. (Disclosure: I’m affiliated with or have donated to all of them.) Now, they need to rebuild the coalition with tech companies serving millions of network neutrality supporters and organize the public for a fight—something that’s possible so long as Verizon and AT&T don’t exercise their newfound right to block any website they choose.

An Iran Hawk's Case Against New Iran Sanctions - Bloomberg

An Iran Hawk's Case Against New Iran Sanctions - Bloomberg: For years, Iran hawks have argued that only punishing sanctions, combined with the threat of military force, would bring Tehran to the nuclear negotiating table. Finally, Iran is at the table. And for reasons that are alternately inexplicable, presumptuous and bellicose, Iran hawks have decided that now is the moment to slap additional sanctions on the Iranian regime.

The bill before the U.S. Senate, which has 59 co-sponsors at last count, will not achieve the denuclearization of Iran. It will not lead to the defunding of Hezbollah by Iran or to the withdrawal of Iranian support for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. What it could do is move the U.S. closer to war with Iran and, crucially, make Iran appear -- even to many of the U.S.'s allies -- to be the victim of American intransigence, even aggression. It would be quite an achievement to allow Iran, the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism, to play the role of injured party in this drama. But the Senate is poised to do just that.

NSA phone-record collection had “no discernible impact” on counterterrorism � Hot Air

NSA phone-record collection had “no discernible impact” on counterterrorism � Hot Air: That will be the debate. Barack Obama has to decide soon what reforms to accept for NSA’s operations. So far, though, the controversial Section 215 program hasn’t provided much to support its continuing operations, but any executive that ends it takes the enormous political risk of having that decision get associated with any successful attack in the future — which is exactly what Morell argues will happen. I suspect that Obama will choose the safe path of reforming Section 215 rather than eliminating it.

Why Orphan Black's Tatiana Maslany deserves an Emmy nomination

Why Orphan Black's Tatiana Maslany deserves an Emmy nomination: Each clone has her own mannerisms, her own way of speaking, her own posture. Even if you came into an episode halfway through, you could likely tell which character Maslany was playing at a glance. It's easy to forget that Alison and Sarah, who have many scenes together, are played by the same actress. I've often found myself grasping for the name of the actress who plays Cosima, only to hit myself on the head and remember that Maslany plays her as well.

Maslany's ability to make each character so distinct is never more clear than when the clones pretend to be one another. Alison pretending to be Sarah is still recognizably Alison and vice versa. If you're not averse to spoilers, this is Sarah:

14 January, 2014

Will Iran Be Next? - James Fallows - The Atlantic

Will Iran Be Next? - James Fallows - The Atlantic: In the end, according to our panelists, he should understand that he cannot prudently order an attack on Iran. But his chances of negotiating his way out of the situation will be greater if the Iranians don't know that. He will have to brandish the threat of a possible attack while offering the incentive of economic and diplomatic favors should Iran abandon its plans. "If you say there is no acceptable military option, then you end any possibility that there will be a non-nuclear Iran," David Kay said after the war game. "If the Iranians believe they will not suffer any harm, they will go right ahead." Hammes agreed: "The threat is always an important part of the negotiating process. But you want to fool the enemy, not fool yourself. You can't delude yourself into thinking you can do something you can't." Is it therefore irresponsible to say in public, as our participants did and we do here, that the United States has no military solution to the Iran problem?

Ya'alon: Kerry should win his Nobel and leave us alone - Israel News, Ynetnews

Ya'alon: Kerry should win his Nobel and leave us alone - Israel News, Ynetnews: Ya'alon, who sits beside Netanyahu during the talks with Kerry, has during the months of negotiations become a bitter and tough enemy of the American team. "I'm a tough nut to crack," he claims. "There are no actual negotiations with the Palestinians. The Americans are holding negotiations with us and in parallel with the Palestinians. So far, we are the only side to have given anything – the release of murderers – and the Palestinians have given nothing."

Nigeria Bans All Things Gay - Hit & Run : Reason.com

Nigeria Bans All Things Gay - Hit & Run : Reason.com: Sodomy is already illegal in Nigeria, so the actual criminalization of gay marriages, while reprehensible, shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Really, the country’s attacks on free speech and association should be much more of a concern right now:

Any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organizations or directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria commits an offence and shall each be liable on conviction to a term of 10 years in prison.

That’s some scary stuff right there. Much like Russia’s ban on “gay propaganda” making it next to impossible to legally advocate for gays having the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts, this part of the law essentially criminalizes any sort of organizational efforts to ultimately overturn the law or attempt to change public opinion so that Nigerians don’t see homosexuals as enemies.

Is Recess Over?

Is Recess Over?: I am suggesting a split decision here: The Senate wins (and thus so does Noel Canning), but the D.C. Circuit’s dictionary loses. It is worth remembering that constitutional ambiguities between the branches are normally worked out in practice; even after the Supreme Court declared that legislative vetoes were unconstitutional, in the 1983 Chadha case, Congress and the president continued to put them into law because they were too useful a powersharing device to set aside. True, the recess appointment power is less crucial when the president commands a partisan majority in the Senate in the post-”nuclear option” era. But that will not always be the case. And firmly on the side of Supreme pragmatism is that endorsing the entire D.C. Circuit holding would be to wipe out not just administrative decisions made by hundreds of recess appointees over time (indeed, since 1867?) but, presumably, to vacate decisions made by the many judges appointed this manner. Given that several appointees to the current court share a background in the executive branch (Chief Justice John Roberts’s job in the Reagan administration was to defend things like recess appointments), I’d be surprised to see them go that far.

Government Will Lose Recess Appointments Case | Cato @ Liberty

Government Will Lose Recess Appointments Case | Cato @ Liberty: This morning’s oral argument couldn’t have gone any better for those challenging President Obama’s recess appointments (see previous commentary and Cato’s brief for background on NLRB v. Noel Canning). Not only were Justices Scalia and Alito sticklers for constitutional text and structure, but the more liberal justices joined in to express extreme skepticism about the government’s theories. Justice Kagan pointed out that modern presidents don’t face congressional absences—the reason for the president’s power to appoint federal officials without the Senate’s “advice and consent”—but merely congressional “intransigence.” And the Recess Appointments Clause doesn’t exist to solve those kinds of political problems, noted Justice Breyer. Justice Breyer also pointed out that, if you follow the government’s argument that so-called “pro forma” Senate sessions don’t count, then the Senate repeatedly violates the Constitution by not having a “actual” sessions on January 3 (as the 20th Amendment requires) and by recessing for more than three days without the House’s consent (as Article I, Section 5 requires).

Educated black men remembered as 'whiter' - Telegraph

Educated black men remembered as 'whiter' - Telegraph: Educated black men are perceived as being 'whiter' than they actually are when they are remembered, a study has found.

A study from the US found that far from breaking down steretypes, intellectually succesful black individuals are remembered as actually having a lighter skin.

Researchers have dubbed the phenomenon 'skin tone memory bias' which the claim perpetuates cultural beliefs about race and intelligence.

They say that it occurs when people are subjected to an 'culturally incompatible' situation.

Controversial womb transplants are nearly ready for primetime

Controversial womb transplants are nearly ready for primetime:
....the wombs will be removed after a maximum of two pregnancies so the women can be taken off the anti-rejection drugs, which can cause high blood pressure, swelling, and diabetes. What's more, the work is strictly being seen as a research study. As Brannstrom noted, "It could lead to [the women] having a child, but there are no guarantees … what is certain is that they are making a contribution to science."
This is all quite amazing — and it'll truly be a major step forward for science and personal reproductive autonomy if and when the first baby is born as a result of this procedure. At the same time, however, it does feel a bit... privileged.

13 January, 2014

It's Been Proven: "Driving While Black" is a Real Thing - The Daily Beast

It's Been Proven: "Driving While Black" is a Real Thing - The Daily Beast: [A] black man age twenty-five or younger has a 28 percent chance of being stopped for an investigatory reason over the course of a year; a similar young white man has a 12.5 percent chance, and a similar young white woman has only a 7 percent chance. […]

Overall, black drivers are nearly three times more likely than whites to be subjected to investigatory stops.

Marco Rubio on marriage and poverty: No there there.

Marco Rubio on marriage and poverty: No there there.: At any rate, conservatives aren't wrong about this. Having roommates really did greatly improve my personal finances when I was in my early 20's. And the same thing happened when my wife and I moved in together. We split the Internet bill, shared one Netflix account, etc. But the greater efficiency of shared expenses isn't really what's magical about marriage, and what's magical about marriage isn't really what leads to the poverty reduction.

Prison Visit Instagram | VICE United States

Prison Visit Instagram | VICE United States: This exclusion from the world of social media means that prisoners can’t maintain the social-media relationships that most of us take for granted. While families and couples separated by distance can today connect through a variety of communications devices, inmates can't like or regram the photos their girlfriends take before they visit. They can't send a sext or an emoticon heart or a simple “i miss u.”

The last time I talked with Mindy, her boyfriend Cody's wing was on lockdown, which meant they couldn't share their usual permitted 15-minute phone call every other day. “To be able to text, call, share pictures or videos absolutely [usually] fills that void [in long-distance relationships],” she wrote in an email. “What's filling my void now is any mail that I receive while waiting for this lockdown to be over.”

Zionism runs away with itself. | Notes On Error

Zionism runs away with itself. | Notes On Error: At this point, the pretense of negotiation is being kept alive merely because a certain sense of impertinence will attach itself to the first party to exit. Those ties that remain are largely fanciful and based on bad faith, as was made plain by an anonymous Israeli official speaking to the tiresome question of motive. S/he equivocated thusly:

Israel is strictly honoring all the understandings that were reached to facilitate the current peace talks… If you look at every peace plan that’s been on the table, there are differences between the different plans, but in all of them, the large settlement blocs remain part of the final-status peace. If you’re building in areas that are going to remain part of Israel in any agreement, are we really changing the map of peace?

How The Sochi Olympics Became A $51 Billion Quagmire

How The Sochi Olympics Became A $51 Billion Quagmire: The Sochi Olympic games will be the most expensive ever held, by an egregious amount. $51 billion in total, and since Winter Olympics are smaller than Summer games, the Russian government is spending an average of $520 million per event—four times as much as the previous record-holder, China. Where is all the money going? Into various pockets, naturally.

12 January, 2014

Big in Japan - NYTimes.com

Big in Japan - NYTimes.com:
For a week, I did interviews, met critics and fans, visited bookshops. Readers admired my views on literature and my deep understanding of women — things few readers (or women) think here. I traveled everywhere with an entourage, signing books aided by two assistants, one who held the book for me, another who blotted my signature with tissue. People toasted me and applauded my ability to eat with chopsticks or sign my name really big on a poster.
Then I came home to my daily routine. I live alone in book-filled rooms smaller than my Tokyo hotel suite. My bathtub doesn’t fill itself. I sit and write all day in silence. Then I go running or out with friends, who barely ever applaud. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine, but once in a while, as I eat a burrito and watch an old samurai film, I wonder how that other, more glamorous writer, David-san, the Second-Rate Novelist, is doing over there, where it’s already tomorrow.

Geel's ancient community cares for the mentally ill – Mike Jay – Aeon

Geel's ancient community cares for the mentally ill – Mike Jay – Aeon: Among the people of Geel, the term ‘mentally ill’ is never heard: even words such as ‘psychiatric’ and ‘patient’ are carefully hedged with finger-waggling and scare quotes. The family care system, as it’s known, is resolutely non-medical. When boarders meet their new families, they do so, as they always have, without a backstory or clinical diagnosis. If a word is needed to describe them, it’s often a positive one such as ‘special’, or at worst, ‘different’. This might in fact be more accurate than ‘mentally ill’, since the boarders have always included some who would today be diagnosed with learning difficulties or special needs. But the most common collective term is simply ‘boarders’, which defines them at the most pragmatic level by their social, not mental, condition. These are people who, whatever their diagnosis, have come here because they’re unable to cope on their own, and because they have no family or friends who can look after them.

The misuse of American might, and the price it pays - latimes.com

The misuse of American might, and the price it pays - latimes.com: The U.S. military is like the highly skilled, gadget-toting contractor who promises to give your kitchen a nifty makeover in no time whatsoever. Here's the guy you can count on to get the job done. Just look at those references! Yet by the time he drives off months later, the kitchen's a shambles and you're stuck with a bill several times larger than the initial estimate. Turns out the job was more complicated than it seemed. But what say we take a crack at remodeling the master bath?

That pretty much summarizes the American experience with war since the end of the Cold War. By common consent, when it comes to skills and gadgets, U.S. forces are in a league of their own. Yet when it comes to finishing the job on schedule and on budget, their performance has been woeful.

Memo to atheists: God’s not dead yet - The Week

Memo to atheists: God’s not dead yet - The Week:
The first of these shared claims is that God transcends the universe. Without exception, our clamorous and combative atheists treat God as if he were the biggest, most powerful object or thing in, or perhaps alongside, the universe (a Flying Spaghetti Monster, perhaps). Then they use the findings of science to show that there is no evidence for such an immensely powerful object or thing. And ipso facto, there is no God.

But, of course, the major world religions don’t view God in this way at all. They treat God, instead, as the transcendent source, the ground, or the end of the natural world. And that is an enormous — actually, an infinite — difference.

Op-ed: Disney takes a chainsaw to the Star Wars expanded universe | Ars Technica

Op-ed: Disney takes a chainsaw to the Star Wars expanded universe | Ars Technica: Ironically, nuking all post-RotJ material would remove Timothy Zahn's Thrawn trilogy, which Lucasfilm authorized and provided limited collaboration on. Zahn's three books are easily the best of the often-literally-vomit-inducing tie-in novels, but they also are set shortly after the events of RotJ and deal specifically with the aftermath of the fall of the Empire. Losing them would mean losing some of the best content the EU has to offer; it would also, however, mean considerably more latitude in following up Episodes IV-VI.

"Catching Fire" Is The First Film With A Female Lead To Top The Annual Box Office In 40 Years

"Catching Fire" Is The First Film With A Female Lead To Top The Annual Box Office In 40 Years:
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire made history on Thursday, surpassing Iron Man 3 as the top domestic grossing film released in 2013, with $409.4 million at the box office. It’s a remarkable achievement for the sequel, especially since, as Lionsgate crowed in a release on Friday, it is the first time two films in a franchise have both grossed more than $400 million in the U.S. (The first Hunger Games made $408 million domestically in 2012.)
But Catching Fire reached an even bigger milestone on Thursday, and it is a doozy. As entertainment journalist Mark Harris first pointed out on Twitter:
Remarkable stat: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is the first movie with a solo female lead to be the year's #1 film since The Exorcist.

When Misogynist Trolls Make Journalism Miserable for Women - Conor Friedersdorf - The Atlantic

When Misogynist Trolls Make Journalism Miserable for Women - Conor Friedersdorf - The Atlantic: Then I guest-blogged for Megan McArdle. At the time, she was employed here at The Atlantic. My stint running her page while she vacationed included the keys to the blog's inbox. Even as someone who'd previously blogged about immigration in California's Inland Empire, fielding insults and aggressive invective as vile as any I could imagine, I was shocked by a subset of her blog's correspondence. To this day, I don't know if I was experiencing a typical or atypical week. Perhaps in the abstract, there isn't any threat more extreme than the death threats I'd received and brushed off as unserious. But I read emails and comments addressed at McArdle that expanded my notion of how disturbing online vitriol could be. And it took my actually reading them for my perspective to change.

I'd never been exposed to anything like it before.

The Next Civil Rights Issue: Why Women Aren't Welcome on the Internet - Pacific Standard: The Science of Society

The Next Civil Rights Issue: Why Women Aren't Welcome on the Internet - Pacific Standard: The Science of Society: Two hours later, a Palm Springs police officer lumbered up the steps to my hotel room, paused on the outdoor threshold, and began questioning me in a steady clip. I wheeled through the relevant background information: I am a journalist; I live in Los Angeles; sometimes, people don’t like what I write about women, relationships, or sexuality; this was not the first time that someone had responded to my work by threatening to rape and kill me. The cop anchored his hands on his belt, looked me in the eye, and said, “What is Twitter?”

Staring up at him in the blazing sun, the best answer I could come up with was, “It’s like an e-mail, but it’s public.

The White Ghetto | National Review Online

The White Ghetto | National Review Online: Owsley County, Ky. – There are lots of diversions in the Big White Ghetto, the vast moribund matrix of Wonder Bread–hued Appalachian towns and villages stretching from northern Mississippi to southern New York, a slowly dissipating nebula of poverty and misery with its heart in eastern Kentucky, the last redoubt of the Scots-Irish working class that picked up where African slave labor left off, mining and cropping and sawing the raw materials for a modern American economy that would soon run out of profitable uses for [this class of people].

11 January, 2014

Tyndall Report | Year in Review 2013

Tyndall Report | Year in Review 2013: 2013 marks the year when ABC World News finally rejected the mission of presenting a serious newscast. ABC covered all four of the major domestic policy stories least heavily: the Budget debate, the Healthcare rollout, Gun control, and National Security Agency surveillance. Same with foreign policy: ABC spent least time on the civil war in Syria and its chemical weapons disarmament, the military coup in Egypt, and on Afghanistan.
Instead, ABC stepped up its coverage of Sports and Show Business, and highlighted morning-style reporters Ginger Zee (weather) and Paula Faris (personal finance tips). Weather aside, the only major stories that ABC covered competitively were True Crime -- the George Zimmerman trial and Ariel Castro's Cleveland hell house -- and Celebrity: London's baby prince. ABC's newscast is now certifiably Disneyfied.

10 January, 2014

Blame It on the Booze

Blame It on the Booze: In 2011, an incident in southern Guizhou province garnered further attention to the debate over rape and attitudes towards women. After a teacher in Ashi village levied accusations of rape against the local land-bureau chief, the police commander reportedly told her, "If he wears a condom, it isn't considered rape." Only two months later, after the victim wrote a poignant appeal for help and a Chinese newpaper picked it up, did the local police take action and arrest the culprit.

Even life prisoners should have hope and a chance to change | Dirk van Zyl Smit | Comment is free | theguardian.com

Even life prisoners should have hope and a chance to change | Dirk van Zyl Smit | Comment is free | theguardian.com: A commitment that we will never consider the release of some offenders serving life sentences, except perhaps when they are at death's door, means that we write them off permanently. It means that we deny that with the passage of time they may change for the better; or that we may change our assessment of their crimes.

Worse still, we are denying some fellow humans all hope. In that sense we are putting them in the same position as those awaiting execution on death row.

09 January, 2014

“Heartbroken”: Christie fires aide over Bridgegate, maintains he knew nothing � Hot Air

“Heartbroken”: Christie fires aide over Bridgegate, maintains he knew nothing � Hot Air:
I find it hard to believe that Bridget Kelly is the mastermind of a revenge operation that extended to Christie appointees in the inner circle and at the Port Authority, especially in the middle of a reelection campaign. Even if Kelly wanted to punish the mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing her boss, it’s mind-boggling to think that various members of Team Christie would have played along knowing that exposure could have jeopardized his reelection bid and presidential chances. It’s one thing for the candidate himself to be that reckless; it’s his life, after all. It’s another thing for subordinates to do it to their superior. That being so, how likely is it that Kelly, Stepien, and Wildstein would have instigated this retribution without any of them so much as mentioning it to him? They’ve briefed him on this before, at length, and no one said anything? Ever?

08 January, 2014

Growing up unvaccinated: This is what happens when your parents refuse

Growing up unvaccinated: This is what happens when your parents refuse: And lastly but most importantly for me – knowingly exposing your child to childhood illnesses is cruel; even without complications these diseases aren’t exactly pleasant. I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy watching children suffer even with a cold or a hurt knee. If you’ve never had these illnesses you don’t know how awful they are – I do.

Pain, discomfort, the inability to breathe or to eat or to swallow, fever and nightmares, itching all over your body so much that you can’t stand lying on bed sheets, losing so much weight you can’t walk properly, diarrhea that leaves you lying prostrate on the bathroom floor, the unpaid time off work for parents (and if you’re self employed that means NO INCOME), the quarantine, missing school, missing parties, the worry, the sleepless nights, the sweat, the tears and the blood, the midnight visits to A and E, sitting in a doctor’s waiting room on your own because no one will sit near you because they’re rightfully scared of those spots all over your kid’s face.

Gates' America, no longer pearly | xpostfactoid

Gates' America, no longer pearly | xpostfactoid: I was more or less continuously outraged by the parochial self-interest of all but a very few members of Congress. Any defense facility or contract in their district or state, no matter how superfluous or wasteful, was sacrosanct. I was constantly amazed and infuriated at the hypocrisy of those who most stridently attacked the Defense Department as inefficient and wasteful but fought tooth and nail to prevent any reduction in defense activities in their home state or district.

I also bristled at what's become of congressional hearings, where rude, insulting, belittling, bullying and all too often highly personal attacks on witnesses by members of Congress violated nearly every norm of civil behavior. Members postured and acted as judge, jury and executioner. It was as though most members were in a permanent state of outrage or suffered from some sort of mental duress that warranted confinement or at least treatment for anger management.