31 March, 2014

Series finale review: How I Met Your Mother - Last Forever: How they conned us all

Series finale review: How I Met Your Mother - Last Forever: How they conned us all: I can imagine Bays and Thomas back in 2005 or 2006 trying to figure a way out of the narrative straightjacket they created for themselves in the pilot, and maybe even doing a High Infinity upon coming up with this solution. I can even imagine that moment being so euphoric that it blinded them to a lot of what was happening on the show over the remaining 7 or 8 years. Back then, maybe it was a great plan. Back then, when I was talking to them at the press tour party, if one of them had asked me to turn off the tape recorder and promised me off the record that Ted and Robin would somehow end up together, I'd have been feeling some euphoria of my own. But stories change. Characters change. Shows change. And plans have to change to accommodate that.

This plan didn't. So instead of a bumpy final few years being redeemed by a finale that at least resulted in our hero winding up with a woman we all liked, and who seemed a perfect match for him, we have a finale that turns the title and narrative framework of the show into a case of Bays and Thomas following the letter of the law rather than the spirit, without the slightest bit of recognition that Ted and Robin had become toxic for each other by this season

The actual United States of Baseball via Imgur and Facebook

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Other People's Pathologies - Ta-Nehisi Coates - The Atlantic

Other People's Pathologies - Ta-Nehisi Coates - The Atlantic:

People who take a strict binary
view of culture ("culture of privilege = awesome; culture of poverty =
fail") are afflicted by the provincialism of privilege and thus vastly
underestimate the dynamism of the greater world. They extoll
"middle-class values" to the ignorance and exclusion of all others. To
understand, you must imagine what it means to confront algebra in the
morning and "Shorty, can I see your bike?" in the afternoon.
very nice to talk about "middle-class values" when that describes your
small, limited world. But when your grandmother lives in one hood and
your coworkers live another, you generally need something more than
"middle-class values." You need to be bilingual.

29 March, 2014

Why Dianne Feinstein Can’t Control the CIA | The American Conservative

Why Dianne Feinstein Can’t Control the CIA | The American Conservative: Edward Snowden, addressing the controversy from Moscow, noted correctly that the Senate committee is hypocritical in that it and Feinstein have never objected to mass spying and other indignities inflicted on ordinary American citizens as byproducts of the “global war on terror.” Feinstein’s concern only becomes acute when she and her colleagues are themselves being scrutinized. As Ron Paul explained, Feinstein “doesn’t care about our privacy, but, lo and behold, she does care about her own.”

Is Air Travel Too Safe? - Businessweek

Is Air Travel Too Safe? - Businessweek: That’s not true for driving. While it’s widely known that flying is statistically safer than driving, just how much safer varies from country to country. Data from the World Health Organization and the World Bank suggest that, in the U.S., there are 1.4 fatalities per year for every 10,000 cars on the road. In Malaysia, there are seven; in Kenya, 87—more than 60 times the rate in the U.S., compared with about a fivefold gap in air safety. Given how often people drive, and how indispensable car travel is in most countries, the gap in developing countries’ road safety records is far more troubling than their air safety records are impressive.

26 March, 2014

an addendum on social justice and free expression | Fredrik deBoer

an addendum on social justice and free expression | Fredrik deBoer:

Please believe me when I say: it is not at all unusual, for me, to
encounter liberals and leftists who speak out about issues of social
justice like feminism and racism and similar who do not believe that
controversial speech (what they call hate speech) should be legally
expressible. You are free to question how prevalent that view is. But I
encounter it all the time, and not just online. Being in a PhD program
in the humanities, I have regular exposure to people who feel that the
right to free expression does not or should not include racist, sexist,
or homophobic ideas. And their definition of racism, sexism, and
homophobia tends to be expansive. Indeed, I was motivated to write in
large part because I just came from a large, national conference. I met
lots of cool people, like I always do, and came away inspired, as I
always do. But I was also disturbed, because of the casual way in which
some people asserted their belief that people who express beliefs they
abhor– that I abhor, that I hope all good people abhor– should be
shouted down, should be coerced into silence, should be barred from
entry into public forums, should be legally or otherwise prevented from
expressing those beliefs. I cannot tell you how small their relative
number is. I can only tell you that they exist, in my communities, and
they are not alone.

A death sentence not just for hundreds of Islamists, but Egypt's democratic future | Magdi Abdelhadi | Comment is free | theguardian.com

A death sentence not just for hundreds of Islamists, but Egypt's democratic future | Magdi Abdelhadi | Comment is free | theguardian.com: Ever since the interim government in Egypt declared war on the Muslim Brotherhood and designated it a terrorist organisation, it has pursued a course of action that has swelled the ranks of the government's detractors, even among those who are sympathetic to its declared objective of suppressing the Islamist group.

The sentencing to death yesterday of more than 500 Brotherhood supporters on charges related to the violence that followed the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi in July last year belongs to that class of action: preposterously self-defeating.

Why Ukraine’s Euromaidan is not spreading to other post-Soviet states

Why Ukraine’s Euromaidan is not spreading to other post-Soviet states:

Over the years, the ruling regimes in Azerbaijan, Belarus and Russia
adjusted their repression strategies and adopted new ones to squash any
signs of a color revolution. All three regimes were “late risers” during
the color revolution wave. As Mark Beissinger shows,
state elites in “later risers” have an advantage over those in “earlier
risers” in that they know about actions and strategies used by
protesters in the initial wave and therefore can adapt.

Institutional screws were tightened as post-Soviet autocrats took preemptive measures. Russia played a leading role in spreading various diffusion-proofing strategies. Examples include Russia’s restrictive legislation on non-governmental organizations in 2006 and the 2012 law requiring foreign-funded NGOs to register as “foreign agents”. Such measures foreclosed the success of anti-Kremlin mass rallies on the Bolotnaya Square in Moscow. And as Julia Ioffe rightly noted,
“much of the stringency and verticality of the Russian political system
is a direct result of [reaction to] Ukraine’s Orange Revolution.”

Raffi Khatchadourian: Can an Audacious Plan to Create a New Energy Resource Help Save the Planet? : The New Yorker

Raffi Khatchadourian: Can an Audacious Plan to Create a New Energy Resource Help Save the Planet? : The New Yorker:

Two dozen engineers were seated around tables arranged in a
horseshoe, and the mood was sombre. A sense of crisis has come to
surround ITER like the concentric nebulae
of a dying sun. The project has been falling behind schedule almost
since it began—in 1993, it was thought that the machine could be ready
by 2010—and there will certainly be further delays. Morale is through
the floor, and one can expect cynicism, disagreements, black humor.
“There is anxiety here that it is all going to implode,” one physicist
told me. Many engineers and physicists at ITER
believe that the delays are self-inflicted, having little to do with
engineering or physics and everything to do with the way that ITER
is organized and managed. Key members of the technical staff have left;
others have taken “stress leave” to recuperate. Not long ago, the
director-general, Osamu Motojima, a Japanese physicist, who has run the
organization since 2010, ordered workmen to install at the headquarters’
entrance a granite slab proclaiming ITER’s presence. People call it a tombstone.

25 March, 2014

Biggert-Waters and NFIP: Flood insurance should be strengthened.

Biggert-Waters and NFIP: Flood insurance should be strengthened.: Enter the 2012 Biggert-Waters law. Its stipulations were firm: Properties built before the NFIP were no longer grandfathered into the program; homes that flood repeatedly (“Repetitive Loss Properties”) were denied coverage; and insurance premiums would be recalculated to accurately reflect real actuarial risk. The law further mandated the formation of a Technical Mapping Advisory Council, a body of experts empowered to advise FEMA on best practices in floodplain mapping. Biggert-Waters marked a rare moment in American disaster politics: enlightenment. Local interests were sacrificed for something bigger—preparing the nation for the storms on the horizon. And therein was the problem.

Even before Biggert-Waters passed, Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu began a crusade to “repeal it, radically amend it, or delay” the law. She claimed the bill would make insurance premiums unaffordable and chastised FEMA for not conducting an effective assessment of the law’s impact on consumers. The construction-lending-real estate complex, led by the National Association of Home Builders also came out strongly against the law, citing possible negative impacts on home sales and housing starts. Even California Rep. Maxine Waters, the co-sponsor and namesake of the law, turned on it, lamenting its “unintended consequences.”

Transcript: Desmond Tutu — A God of Surprises | On Being

Transcript: Desmond Tutu — A God of Surprises | On Being:

Archbishop Tutu: I think, I
mean, that we have very gravely underestimated the damage that apartheid
inflicted on all of us. You know, the damage to our psyches, the damage
that has made — I mean, it shocked me. I went to Nigeria when I was
working for the World Council of Churches, and I was due to fly to Jos.
And so I go to Lagos airport and I get onto the plane and the two pilots
in the cockpit are both black. And whee, I just grew inches. You know,
it was fantastic because we had been told that blacks can't do this.

Ms. Tippett: Right.

Archbishop Tutu: And we have a
smooth takeoff and then we hit the mother and father of turbulence. I
mean, it was quite awful, scary. Do you know, I can't believe it but the
first thought that came to my mind was, "Hey, there's no white men in
that cockpit. Are those blacks going to be able to make it?" And of
course, they obviously made it — here I am. But the thing is, I had not
known that I was damaged to the extent of thinking that somehow actually
what those white people who had kept drumming into us in South Africa
about our being inferior, about our being incapable, it had lodged
somewhere in me.

23 March, 2014

'Ambassador, dear, you are lying' - John F. Harris - POLITICO.com

'Ambassador, dear, you are lying' - John F. Harris - POLITICO.com: A few moments later, a top official with the Ukrainian ministry of foreign affairs, Vasyl Filipchuk, turned to the Russian. He allowed that “I sincerely respect you” as a “very skillful diplomat,” then got to the point: “Ambassador, dear, you are lying.”

“You are calling white as black and black as white,” the diplomat said.

Next up at the gathering of trans Atlantic policymakers and intellectuals was the former president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili. Unlike his Ukrainian counterpart, he said, “I have no respect for Ambassador Chizhov. He reminds me of a character from Dr. Strangelove.”

The Importance of Our Evolution Beyond Killing for Food | Bob Comis

The Importance of Our Evolution Beyond Killing for Food | Bob Comis: As a pig farmer, I live an unethical life shrouded in the justificatory trappings of social acceptance. There is more, even, than simple acceptance. There is actually celebration of the way I raise the pigs. Because I give the pigs lives that are as close to natural as is possible in an unnatural system, I am honorable, I am just, I am humane -- while all the while behind the shroud, I am a slaveholder and a murderer. Looking head on, you can't see it. Humanely raising and slaughtering pigs seems perfectly normal. In order to see the truth, you have to have to look askance, just like a pig does when it knows you are up to no good. When you see out of the corner of your eye, in the blurry periphery of your vision, you see that meat is indeed murder.

A Soviet Jewish �migr�Decides To Teach Her American Daughter Russian – Tablet Magazine

A Soviet Jewish �migr�Decides To Teach Her American Daughter Russian – Tablet Magazine: To be honest, Russian is not a language I’m proud to know. When strangers marvel at my bilingualism, I defensively counter with the fact that I have no ties to the country I left as a child. I feel lucky to have escaped from what is now the former Soviet Union, where Jews like me were subject to plenty of anti-Semitism. Like many of the other 1.6 million Soviet Jews who emigrated, we broke all ties when we left.

Or so I thought, until my daughter was born and I realized my ties to Russian run deeper than I knew.

There’s No Substitute for the Government | The Baseline Scenario

There’s No Substitute for the Government | The Baseline Scenario: This shouldn’t come as a surprise. There are basic economic reasons why public social insurance is superior to voluntary charity. The goal here is to protect people against risk: of unemployment, of health emergency, of outliving one’s savings, and so on. For a risk-mitigation scheme to work, there are a few things that are necessary. One is that people actually be covered. This is something you can never have with a private system (unless it’s regulated to the point of being essentially public), since charities get to pick and choose whom they want to help.

22 March, 2014

Putin Puts Obama in No-Win Situation in Iran - The American Interest

Putin Puts Obama in No-Win Situation in Iran - The American Interest:

After all, if Russia did manage to stop the talks dead, the result
wouldn’t automatically be an Iranian bomb. The first result would be to
put Obama into the horrible, no-win situation he has spent his whole
presidency working hard to avoid: where his only two choices are
military action against Iran and accepting an Iranian nuclear weapon. If
(as the White House has continually insisted that he would) he goes for
force, the United States gets involved in another Middle Eastern war,
and Russia enjoys a huge financial windfall as oil prices skyrocket and a
propaganda windfall as the United States (without a UN mandate, which
Russia would take care to block) takes on yet another preventative war
in a Middle Eastern country.

Or, alternatively, the United States endures its most humiliating and
devastating foreign policy defeat in decades, leaving its prestige in
tatters and its global alliance system fundamentally weakened as yet
another of President Obama’s red lines, this one much brighter and
deeper than the one in Syria, gets crossed—with impunity.

Either way, a rational Russian might see gains that would offset the
consequences of an Iranian nuclear weapon—and, again, Russia’s core
strategic goal is to weaken and damage American power as a necessary
step in overturning a post-Cold War order that Putin and his associates

Revealed: Apple and Google’s wage-fixing cartel involved dozens more companies, over one million employees | PandoDaily

Revealed: Apple and Google’s wage-fixing cartel involved dozens more companies, over one million employees | PandoDaily: Back in January, I wrote about “The Techtopus” — an illegal agreement between seven tech giants, including Apple, Google, and Intel, to suppress wages for tens of thousands of tech employees. The agreement prompted a Department of Justice investigation, resulting in a settlement in which the companies agreed to curb their restricting hiring deals. The same companies were then hit with a civil suit by employees affected by the agreements.

This week, as the final summary judgement for the resulting class action suit looms, and several of the companies mentioned (Intuit, Pixar and Lucasfilm) scramble to settle out of court, Pando has obtained court documents (embedded below) which show shocking evidence of a much larger conspiracy, reaching far beyond Silicon Valley.

21 March, 2014

MetaPhone: The Sensitivity of Telephone Metadata � Web Policy

MetaPhone: The Sensitivity of Telephone Metadata � Web Policy:

  • Participant A communicated with multiple local neurology groups, a
    specialty pharmacy, a rare condition management service, and a hotline
    for a pharmaceutical used solely to treat relapsing multiple sclerosis.
  • Participant B spoke at length with cardiologists at a major
    medical center, talked briefly with a medical laboratory, received calls
    from a pharmacy, and placed short calls to a home reporting hotline for
    a medical device used to monitor cardiac arrhythmia.
  • Participant C made a number of calls to a firearm store that
    specializes in the AR semiautomatic rifle platform. They also spoke at
    length with customer service for a firearm manufacturer that produces an
    AR line.
  • In a span of three weeks, Participant D contacted a home improvement store, locksmiths, a hydroponics dealer, and a head shop.
  • Participant E had a long, early morning call with her sister.
    Two days later, she placed a series of calls to the local Planned
    Parenthood location. She placed brief additional calls two weeks later,
    and made a final call a month after.

Don't Help Your Kids With Their Homework - Dana Goldstein - The Atlantic

Don't Help Your Kids With Their Homework - Dana Goldstein - The Atlantic: What they found surprised them. Most measurable forms of parental involvement seem to yield few academic dividends for kids, or even to backfire—regardless of a parent’s race, class, or level of education.

 Do you review your daughter’s homework every night? Robinson and Harris’s data, published in The Broken Compass: Parental Involvement With Children’s Education, show that this won’t help her score higher on standardized tests. Once kids enter middle school, parental help with homework can actually bring test scores down, an effect Robinson says could be caused by the fact that many parents may have forgotten, or never truly understood, the material their children learn in school.

Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters: Show love to Fred Phelps's family instead of hatred

Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters: Show love to Fred Phelps's family instead of hatred: We have been the better people in this story. Now is the time to show it wasn’t just in adversity that we can show dignity. We know how to end a battle with dignity as well. My suggestion will not be the popular one. It will not derive satisfaction or vengeance, but it is the one that will show the world exactly how wrong he was for starting the church of hate.

Why Fred Phelps was so useful to the gay rights movement

Why Fred Phelps was so useful to the gay rights movement: A continued dedication to rhetoric like that, as well as pickets at military funerals, set the Westboro Baptist Church apart during a period when public support for marriage equality is rising and when prominent conservative Christians like Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren are trying to find more politically palatable ways to talk about their objections to homosexuality. No matter how much distance other gay rights opponents tried to place between themselves and the church, Phelps and his followers acted as a kind of confirmation of the suspicions of the real feelings that lay behind less radical political language. And their consistent incivility highlighted the ways in which anti-gay sentiments don’t just function as expressions of private beliefs, but as acts of unkindness that disturb our sense of manners and proper treatment of our neighbors and fellow citizens.

Measles outbreak in New York City: Should pediatricians treat unvaccinated kids, or turn them away?

Measles outbreak in New York City: Should pediatricians treat unvaccinated kids, or turn them away?:


Probably most of my colleagues would be very annoyed to hear me say
so, but if you were to take all the pediatricians and stuff them in a
barrel and fling them over Niagara Falls, the world would not be so
badly off, but the same cannot be said about vaccines: Getting rid of
them would be a real disaster. Second only to providing clean water and
properly dealing with sewage, the use of vaccines has contributed more
to our quality and length of life than any other medical or public
health intervention.

But not everybody understands that, partly because vaccines have been
so successful at eliminating many serious infectious diseases that
there is no longer any public perception of risk from the illnesses they
prevent. But there are other forces at play that make some parents
reluctant to have their children immunized, even though they care a lot
about their children’s health. The Internet permits people to write
anything they want, and apparently people do just that, authoritatively,
no matter whether their positions are (or are not) sensible or

To complicate things, we are all influenced by a fascinating
psychological mechanism that automatically imputes gravitas, wisdom, and
authority to anything presented in Times New Roman, even if the same
message would be dismissed out of hand if scrawled in chalk on a
sidewalk. Googling “immunization” will give you lots and lots of hits
that probably ought to have been written in chalk on a sidewalk.

The Law That Makes It Illegal to Report on Animal Cruelty - Andrew Cohen - The Atlantic

The Law That Makes It Illegal to Report on Animal Cruelty - Andrew Cohen - The Atlantic: There is a certain redundancy to all the ag-gag bills. They invariably try to limit investigative work by criminalizing things that already are criminal. You look on the face on this [law]. You violate the law if you enter a farm by "force, threat, misrepresentation or trespass." Each and every one of those is already prohibited by multiple statutes. If you were trying to eliminate coercion and fraud and trespass you would not need to pass this bill. If you were trying to limit the scrutiny of the agriculture industry you would need to pass this bill.

It is not only constitutionally suspect it's terrible public policy on the part of the legislature. Give me the very best argument for why this needs to be in place and then tell me why you wouldn't then pass similar legislation for day-care centers. Would anyone suggest that you would send someone to prison for documenting child abuse? Is there anyone who is going to run on that platform? Why in the world do we have a lesser standard for animal abuse? The answer is that animals are not people—but the broader point is that the health of animals affects the health of people.

Pop Culture and the Public Library | The American Conservative

Pop Culture and the Public Library | The American Conservative: Nonetheless, it seems that those using libraries are somewhat homogenous: they’re mostly wealthy, well-educated, and well-informed. Yet the library ought to reach a diverse population: it ought to offer resources to those from lower incomes, without many community connections, or to those lacking technological or informational resources. Yet many such individuals are the library’s rarest frequenters—or never use it at all.

Perhaps one problem here is that American pop culture does not usually promote learning for its own sake. Whereas being “smart” or “well-read” used to be a coveted thing in American society, it is now promoted mostly within certain circles or cultural cliques. Otherwise, it’s treated as being “nerdy” or “snobby.

Far-Right Forces are Influencing Russia's Actions in Crimea | New Republic

Far-Right Forces are Influencing Russia's Actions in Crimea | New Republic: Of course, the point of Russian intervention is to make sure that these elections never happen. It is deeply strange for an openly right-wing authoritarian regime, such as that of Vladimir Putin, to treat the presence of right-wing politicians in a neighboring democracy as the reason for a military invasion. Putin's own social policy is, if anything, to the right of the Ukrainians whom he criticizes. The Russian attempt to control Ukraine is based upon Eurasian ideology, which explicitly rejects liberal democracy. The founder of the Eurasian movement is an actual fascist, Alexander Dugin, who calls for a revolution of values from Portugal to Siberia. The man responsible for Ukraine policy, Sergei Glayzev, used to run a far-right nationalist party that was banned for its racist electoral campaign. Putin has placed himself at the head of a worldwide campaign against homosexuality. This is politically useful, since opposition to Russia is now blamed on an international gay lobby which cannot by its nature understand the inherent spirituality of traditional Russian civilization.

Rough Ride: Can a new building, redrawn boundaries, and a changing neighborhood transform D.C.'s struggling Roosevelt High School? - Washington City Paper

Rough Ride: Can a new building, redrawn boundaries, and a changing neighborhood transform D.C.'s struggling Roosevelt High School? - Washington City Paper: . The District’s population is growing rapidly, and young parents with money who in previous generations might have moved to the suburbs are often choosing to stick around to be near work and take advantage of life in the city. At the elementary-school level, these parents are becoming active in improving their children’s schools and recruiting friends’ and neighbors’ kids, too. But there’s a drop-off after that; only one neighborhood middle school and one neighborhood high school in the entire city enjoy a strong enough reputation to attract many families with the ability to choose. And so parents try to send their kids to those schools or put their fate in the hands of the charter-school lottery.

FiveThirtyEight | When Living Wage Is Minimum Wage

FiveThirtyEight | When Living Wage Is Minimum Wage: The minimum wage debate hinges on an essential question: Who would be affected by an increase? If minimum-wage workers were mostly teenagers and others supplementing their household income, as Republicans have often argued, a raise would have different implications than if these workers were mostly adults struggling to raise a family, as many Democrats contend.

Census data reveals that more than half of all workers now earning below President Obama’s proposed minimum wage of $10.10 per hour are trying to support themselves. It’s true that low-wage workers tend to be younger than the population as a whole, and that many of them are teenagers. But a significant and growing minority are also trying to raise children of their own.

Saved by the Shield : Columbia Journalism Review

Saved by the Shield : Columbia Journalism Review: Ten years ago this month began a period of my life that I have come to call my season in hell. It was a prolonged horror of court hearings and depositions following the collapse of The Cincinnati Enquirer’s investigation of Chiquita Brands International. But like all calamities, it delivered unexpected insights. One of the most important for me was a fierce love of shield laws. To all journalists everywhere: you should love them too. These laws are fundamental to what we do. We should be fighting to get a federal shield law passed. So should every citizen who suspects that powerful institutions in our society regularly hide vital information from the public. After years of an uneasy truce between prosecutors and media organizations, federal officials have increasingly been dragging reporters to court and pressing them to reveal confidential sources. It is time to push back.

20 March, 2014

Map: How Hollywood Has Destroyed America

Map: How Hollywood Has Destroyed America: How many times have you seen New York City destroyed onscreen? Los Angeles? Kansas? For nearly as long as there have been movies, there have been disaster movies. The map above shows 189 such cinematic attacks—using a very broad definition of the "disaster" genre—that have afflicted various parts of the United States. Below, you'll find each category listed as its own map, with an accompanying movie list.

19 March, 2014

Why Would Anybody Ever Buy Another Song? - Derek Thompson - The Atlantic

Why Would Anybody Ever Buy Another Song? - Derek Thompson - The Atlantic: This is at least the third destructive wave for the music industry in the last decade and a half. First, Napster and illegal downloading sites ripped apart the album and distributed song files in a black market that music labels couldn't touch. Second, Apple used the fear and desperation of the record labels to push a $0.99-per-song model on iTunes, which effectively destroyed the bundling power of the album in the eyes of millions of music fans (even though country album sales are still pretty strong). For a decade, music sales plummeted. Third, digital radio and streaming sites got so good that now many music fans wonder why they need to buy albums in the first place. So, they don't.

The Missing White Poor

The Missing White Poor: The point of this chart is that even though blacks and Hispanics are disproportionately poor, the largest group of poor people in America is ... white people.

Despite that fact, when you say "the poor," what pops into most people's heads is an image of a black person, probably due in no small part to the fact that poverty in America is represented in the media as a largely black phenomenon (I'm not just saying that; there's research backing that up).

"I Killed A Man": What Happens When A Homicide Confession Goes Viral

"I Killed A Man": What Happens When A Homicide Confession Goes Viral:

Per recommendation from lawyers, Cordle enrolled in a two-week
partial hospitalization program at Dublin Springs, a nearby mental
health and addiction treatment center. His dad picked him up every
morning for the program’s eight-hour sessions. But Cordle wasn’t
benefiting from the program as much as he could have. Lawyers had
advised him not to talk in group settings because prosecutors could
later subpoena someone. He couldn’t say what happened, when it happened,
or why it happened. Everything he wanted to talk about he couldn’t talk
about. It was then he began to realize the route he was taking was

One night at the river house, Cordle was as close to insane
as he’d ever felt. The guilt overwhelmed him, and he didn’t know how to
face it. For some reason he fell asleep easily that night, and when he
woke up, he knew he had to plead guilty. He couldn’t take back what
happened on June 22, but he had some control over what happened next. It
was the first time he’d felt any peace since the crash. Cordle told
Sarah about his decision at a Mexican restaurant soon after. “He was so
sure and so confident,” she says. “It was like a weight had been lifted
off of him. He was happier, not as anxious. I remember he came and told
my dad and my grandparents, ‘I’m going to tell them what happened from
what I know, and I’ll let the judge decide and just take it. I’m the one
who has to live with it.’”

18 March, 2014

Phil Jensen: South Dakota's most conservative lawmaker?

Phil Jensen: South Dakota's most conservative lawmaker?: Jensen goes so far as to say that businesses should have the right to deny service based on a customer's race or religion – whether that's right or wrong, he says, can be fairly addressed by the free market, not the government.

"If someone was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, and they were running a little bakery for instance, the majority of us would find it detestable that they refuse to serve blacks, and guess what? In a matter of weeks or so that business would shut down because no one is going to patronize them," he said.

17 March, 2014

Where did the story of ebooks begin? | Books | theguardian.com

Where did the story of ebooks begin? | Books | theguardian.com: What was the first ebook? Debate rages … When Peter James published his thriller Host on two floppy disks, in 1993, it was billed as the "world's first electronic novel", and attacked as a harbinger of the apocalypse which would destroy literature as we knew it. Now it has been accepted into the Science Museum's collection as one of the earliest examples of the form, as the spotlight of academia begins to shine on the history of digital publishing.

"I got absolutely pilloried," says James. "I was on Today accused of killing the novel, I was a front-page headline on papers in Italy – 99% of the press was negative … one journalist even took his computer on a wheelbarrow to the beach, along with a generator, to read Host in his deckchair."

Ukrainian government refuses to remove troops from Crimea, prepares for war

Ukrainian government refuses to remove troops from Crimea, prepares for war: In the wake of a March 16 referendum in which Crimeans voted to join the Russian Federation, Ukrainian leaders refused to cede any part of the peninsula, calling on their troops to prepare for war.

“Crimea was, is, and will be our territory,” said Defense Minister Ihor Tenyukh in a statement delivered at the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center on March 17.

Former heavyweight boxing champion and leader of the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform Vitali Klitschko announced that Ukrainian troops would remain at their bases, even after March 21, the end of a peace treaty signed by the interior ministries of Ukraine and Russia.

In accordance with the March 16 peace treaty, the Russian Interior Ministry promised to allow Ukrainian soldiers to pass freely into and out of their bases, which Russian troops had surrounded for more than two weeks. Tenyukh said that the Russian military had thus far respected the terms of the treaty.

Bershidsky on Europe: Crimea Votes for Russia - Bloomberg View

Bershidsky on Europe: Crimea Votes for Russia - Bloomberg View:

According to preliminary results, 96.6 percent of Crimea's population
voted in a hastily arranged referendum on Sunday for their territory's
secession from Ukraine and inclusion in Russia. The plebiscite was,
predictably, a farce, with the votes counted behind closed doors in the
absence of observers or the press, and with almost the entire indigenous
population of Crimean tatars failing to turn out. There were, however,
fireworks on Sunday night, and locals celebrated in the streets. Most of
them do want Crimea to be part of Russia, and it's anybody's guess why
Russia and the pro-Russian authorities on the peninsula decided against
arranging a real, honest, transparent vote. For some reason, Russia
appears to be full of resolve to become an international pariah or
expose the cynicism of Western politicians if they do not confer that
status on Moscow. The Russian parliament is promising to act quickly to
make Crimea part of Russia. The die is cast, and the Kremlin is now
waiting to see what the costs will be, pretending as best it can that it
does not care one way or another.

16 March, 2014

Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders? - Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic - Harvard Business Review

Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders? - Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic - Harvard Business Review: In fact, most leaders — whether in politics or business — fail. That has always been the case: the majority of nations, companies, societies and organizations are poorly managed, as indicated by their longevity, revenues, and approval ratings, or by the effects they have on their citizens, employees, subordinates or members. Good leadership has always been the exception, not the norm.

So it struck me as a little odd that so much of the recent debate over getting women to “lean in” has focused on getting them to adopt more of these dysfunctional leadership traits. Yes, these are the people we often choose as our leaders — but should they be?

15 March, 2014

Reaching My Autistic Son Through Disney - NYTimes.com

Reaching My Autistic Son Through Disney - NYTimes.:

on, Owen, just let it play!” Walt moans. But Owen goes back just 20
seconds or so, to the song’s next-to-last stanza, with Ursula shouting:

Go ahead — make your choice!
I’m a very busy woman, and I haven’t got all day.
It won’t cost much, just your voice!

does it again. Stop. Rewind. Play. And one more time. On the fourth
pass, Cornelia whispers, “It’s not ‘juice.’ ” I barely hear her. “What?”
“It’s not ‘juice.’ It’s ‘just’ . . . ‘just your voice’!”
I grab Owen by the shoulders. “Just your voice! Is that what you’re saying?!”
He looks right at me, our first real eye contact in a year. “Juicervose! Juicervose! Juicervose!”
starts to shout, “Owen’s talking again!” A mermaid lost her voice in a
moment of transformation. So did this silent boy. “Juicervose!
Juicervose! Juicervose!” Owen keeps saying it, watching us shout and
cheer. And then we’re up, all of us, bouncing on the bed. Owen, too,
singing it over and over — “Juicervose!” — as Cornelia, tears beginning
to fall, whispers softly, “Thank God, he’s in there.”

13 March, 2014

Release the Drones - Bloomberg View

Release the Drones - Bloomberg View: Back in 2012, Congress told the FAA to put guidelines in place by 2013 and have a plan for detailed drone regulation by 2015. The agency will miss both of those deadlines. And its dithering has put it in an awkward legal position: The FAA may have ample potential legal authority over drones, particularly when it comes to safety, but its inability to hammer out the details is keeping it from taking a stand on their commercial use.

In the meantime, uncertainty about drones' legality has driven entrepreneurs to sell their drones outside the U.S., in places such as Brazil and Colombia. And there are still no rules on privacy invasion, even though it is very likely that drones will be filming in locations near you. Every state should establish a coordinated licensing and privacy regime for drones as quickly as possible. There's no time to wait for the feds to catch up.

Marco Rubio's Warped Worldview - Peter Beinart - The Atlantic

Marco Rubio's Warped Worldview - Peter Beinart - The Atlantic: Taken together, Rubio’s statements divide the world into three parts: the utterly virtuous (us), the utterly evil (our adversaries), and the utterly feckless (everyone else). It’s not merely a cartoonish vision. It’s a cartoonish vision that was tested against reality for several years after 9/11, when George W. Bush and Dick Cheney hyped Saddam Hussein’s Iraq as a new totalitarian superpower, ridiculed the UN weapons inspectors who questioned American claims about Saddam’s military arsenal, and insisted, despite the misgivings of close U.S. allies, that America could replace Saddam with a model regime.

The Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

The Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Meanwhile, it’s fascinating how this story has moved from being one about a presumed airplane crash to, really, a mystery story. It’s the very missing-ness of the plane that the public finds so captivating. If and when the wreckage is discovered, I have to wonder if suddenly people will stop paying such rapt attention. If so, that’s too bad, because the question at hand ought to be what happened on board the jet, not where is the jet.

I say “if and when” because I think people need to reconcile with the possibility that the plane might never be found. I know that sounds absurd to many people in this day and age, where fast and easy answers are taken for granted, but it might happen. I don’t expect that to happen, but it could.

The Senate-CIA Blowup Threatens a Constitutional Crisis | Mother Jones

The Senate-CIA Blowup Threatens a Constitutional Crisis | Mother Jones:

Feinstein said that the CIA appeared to have violated the Fourth
Amendment barring unreasonable searches and seizures—and perhaps
other federal laws and a presidential executive order prohibiting the
CIA from domestic searches and surveillance. She confirmed that the
Justice Department was on the case. She said she has demanded an apology
from the CIA and an admission that the agency's search of the
intelligence committee’s computers was wrong. "I have received neither,"
she declared.

This unprecedented speech by Feinstein has ramifications beyond the
immediate controversy over the CIA search. It undermines the basis for
secret government.

The United States is a republic, and elected officials in all three
branches are supposed to be held accountable by those famous checks and
balances that school kids learn about in civics classes. When it comes
to the clandestine activities of the US government—the operations of the
CIA, the other intelligence outfits, and the covert arms of the
military—the theory is straightforward: These activities are permitted
only because there is congressional oversight. The citizenry is not told
about such actions because doing so would endanger national security
and render these activities moot. But such secret doings of the
executive branch are permissible because elected representatives of the
people in the legislative branch monitor these activities and are in a
position to impose accountability.

How to Justify Russian Aggression - The Daily Beast

How to Justify Russian Aggression - The Daily Beast: But when Viktor Yanukovych's goon squads were unleashed on protesters in Kiev, wielding truncheons and firing bursts from Kalashnikovs, it was nevertheless disconcerting to see Ukrainian anti-government protesters--of varied political backgrounds and issuing varied demands--blithely dismissed by a significant number of Western journalists as fascists and neo-Nazis, if not stooges of the United States government. Indeed, it all sounded too much like the Soviet reaction to the 1956 Hungarian uprising, when Moscow claimed to have narrowly avoided “the threat of a fascist dictatorship” (which was, of course, precipitated by American interference) by the dispatch of a benevolent invading military force.

And like 1956, one didn’t have to look to far to find--from both the fringe left and right, and many ironically self-identifying as anti-imperialist--those ready to “contextualize” the violence visited upon protesters and justifying the arrival of Russian troops on Ukrainian soil.

David Remnick: Will Ukraine Be Putin’s Undoing? : The New Yorker

David Remnick: Will Ukraine Be Putin’s Undoing? : The New Yorker:

Putin’s aggression took Western leaders—especially Barack
Obama and Angela Merkel—too much by surprise, but they have acted since
with clarity and prudence. The decision to forgo martial threats and to
concentrate on strong economic sanctions and diplomatic exertions is, in
a world of radically limited options, wise. But not all those most
directly involved in this crisis evince an understanding of the
complicated politics of Ukraine. It is worth remembering that, in the
back-and-forth of Ukrainian governments since 1991, both the pro-Russian
leaders, like Viktor Yanukovych, and the pro-Europeans, like Yulia
Tymoshenko, have been brazen thieves, enriching themselves at
fantastical rates. Both sides have played one half of the country
against the other. And the fact that the protests in Kiev were not, as
Moscow claims, dominated by fascists and ultra-nationalists does not
mean that such elements are absent from the scene. Ukraine has yet to
develop the politicians that its fragile condition and its dire economy
demand. In December, when John McCain spoke to demonstrators in Kiev’s
Independence Square, he stood side by side with Oleh Tyahnybok, who was
once expelled from his parliamentary faction after demanding battle with
“the Muscovite-Jewish mafia.”

'Daily Show' Exposes $172 Million in Federal Penis Pump Spending (Video) - TheWrap

'Daily Show' Exposes $172 Million in Federal Penis Pump Spending (Video) - TheWrap: “Daily Show” correspondent Samantha Bee has uncovered a small double standard: While Obamacare critics object to its covering contraception for women, no lawmakers have attacked $172 million in Medicare spending on penis pumps.

Penis pumps, which are vacuum tubes that help men attain erections, cost the government $360 each, according to Ilyse Hogue, president of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League. Medicare spent $172 million on penis pump claims from 2006 to 2011, NBC News reported.

This 15-Year-Old Was Suspended For Doing Something White Kids Do All the Time - PolicyMic

This 15-Year-Old Was Suspended For Doing Something White Kids Do All the Time - PolicyMic:

On Feb. 3, assistant principal Todd Nichols summoned him out of
class. Nichols showed Dontadrian a photo he had posed for during a
recent biology project, in which the boy had his hand up displaying
three raised fingers – his thumb, forefinger and middle finger. “You’re
suspended,” said Nichols, “because you’re holding up gang signs in this

Three days later, a disciplinary committee confirmed Dontadrian’s
punishment: “Indefinite suspension with a recommendation of expulsion.”

11 March, 2014

The Case for Scott Adams’s Irrational Optimism | Ordinary Times

The Case for Scott Adams’s Irrational Optimism | Ordinary Times: Most of us tend to weight the probability of success in something we try more than the consequences. Yes, a strict rationalist might start ten companies each with only a 20% probability of success but promising a 10x return on investment. But most of us can’t put our hearts into something day after day if we think it only has a 20% chance of success. Even criminals seem to behave according to how likely they think it is that they will get caught rather than how severe the consequences would be to getting caught. [pdf]

If this is the case, maybe irrational optimism is the only way to success. Maybe you have to rely on your brain twisting that 20% into a 70% so that you can get to work in the morning and give it your full effort. How else can you put your heart into a velcro bag that might someday be something bigger?

Has The World Never Changed? � The Dish

Has The World Never Changed? � The Dish: Then there is the simple matter of collective memory. For many Americans and for Krauthammer, the key referent is the Second World War which America won with almost none of the devastating trauma experienced by Germany, Britain or the Soviet Union. But in Germany and Britain right now, the collective memory is much more indelibly that of the Great War, where small matters of territory – like Crimea – metastasized through miscalculation into a generational catastrophe. Hence the resilience of the EU, even as it seems to cripple the economies of its weaker members through punishing austerity. Hence also, of course, the survival of the UN and the countless instruments of collective security we’ve built in its wake.

Europe's 'new world order' is letting Vladimir Putin run riot � The Spectator

Europe's 'new world order' is letting Vladimir Putin run riot � The Spectator: In July that year, however, 22 alarmed leaders in central and eastern Europe — including V�clav Havel and Lech Walesa — had sent an anguished open letter to Obama regretting that his administration was turning away from their region. Was it because he felt that its problems had been solved?

If so, he was wrong on several scores, but especially one: ‘The political impact of [the Russo-Georgian] war on the region has already been felt. Many countries were deeply disturbed to see the Atlantic alliance stand by as Russia violated… the territorial integrity of a country that was a member of Nato’s Partnership for Peace and the Euroatlantic Partnership Council — all in the name of defending a sphere of influence on its borders.’ This was a shrewd but paradoxical point — and for western Europeans a low blow. What the Havels and Walesas wanted from American involvement was not only America’s greater protective power, but also its tougher attitude to Russian claims on its ‘near abroad’.

Calculated Risk: Comments on Employment Report

Calculated Risk: Comments on Employment Report: First, a milestone for next month: Private payroll employment increased 162 thousand in February and private employment is now just 129 thousand below the previous peak (total employment is still 666 thousand below the peak in January 2008). It seems very likely that private employment will be at a new high in March.

Total non-farm employment will probably be at a new high this summer (all the government layoff have held back total employment).

Calculated Risk: Comments on Employment Report

Calculated Risk: Comments on Employment Report: First, a milestone for next month: Private payroll employment increased 162 thousand in February and private employment is now just 129 thousand below the previous peak (total employment is still 666 thousand below the peak in January 2008). It seems very likely that private employment will be at a new high in March.

Total non-farm employment will probably be at a new high this summer (all the government layoff have held back total employment).

Andrew Solomon: The Father of the Sandy Hook Killer Searches for Answers : The New Yorker

Andrew Solomon: The Father of the Sandy Hook Killer Searches for Answers : The New Yorker: I wondered how Peter had felt through this period. “Sad,” he said. “I was hurt. I never expected that I would never talk to him again. I thought it was a matter of when.” He asked, “How much do you accommodate the demands and how much do you not? Nancy tended to, as did I.” Peter added, “But I think he saw that he could control her more than he could control me.” Adam had also cut off communication with Ryan, whom he last saw two Christmases before the shootings. According to Peter, Ryan reached out several times, but Adam never responded. Peter and Shelley now suspect that Adam deliberately shut them out to hide his psychological decay. Peter said, “I didn’t understand that Adam was drifting away.”


As soon as she got home, they called Ryan and began the two-hour
drive to his place, in Hoboken. Ryan had also left his office early; by
the time he got home, the police had taped off his apartment building.
Adam had been carrying Ryan’s I.D., which had led to the confusion. Ryan
approached the police with his arms up and said, “You’re looking for
me, but I didn’t do it.” He was taken to a police station, so Peter and
Shelley headed there, too. They were questioned for a couple of hours
and were made to wait for two more before they were allowed to see Ryan.
They went to the home of an aunt of Peter’s to regroup; they were
shuttled to a hotel, then to Shelley’s family’s house and other safe
houses, with a canine unit supplied by the police for security; they
were interviewed by the F.B.I., the state police, and various local
authorities. “We didn’t even have clothes,” Peter said. “I had to borrow
my lawyer’s pants.” Eventually, they headed to New Hampshire to arrange
Nancy’s funeral, and had to evade a stakeout by news media, which
wanted to cover it. I asked what they had done about a funeral for Adam.
“No one knows that,” Peter said. “And no one ever will.”

Sen. Feinstein Says CIA Spied on Congress - WSJ.com

Sen. Feinstein Says CIA Spied on Congress - WSJ.com: A key point of dispute in the charges and denials Tuesday was who the computers in question belonged to. Ms. Feinstein said they were committee property, while the CIA said the committee was informed the facility and the computers in it were CIA property, a U.S. official said.

When the panel's investigation started, the CIA established a dedicated network for the committee to use. The network was split between the panel and CIA, with a mechanism for the CIA to share relevant documents with the committee, the official said.

The system contained an audit capability to ensure documents weren't mishandled, the official said. CIA officers didn't search the computers, but rather audit logs, after they came to believe that an internal CIA interrogation review had been obtained by the committee, the official said.

Sen. Feinstein's Awakening - Peggy Noonan's Blog - WSJ

Sen. Feinstein's Awakening - Peggy Noonan's Blog - WSJ: But now she, or rather her committee’s investigators, have, she believes, been spied upon. Which would focus the mind. She is probably about to come in for a great deal of derision. She should instead be welcomed into the growing group of those concerned about the actions and abilities of the surveillance state. It could not have been easy for her to say what she’s said. She is right to feel and share her intellectual alarm.

10 March, 2014

Live from CPAC: The Most Important Panel Everyone Missed | Brookings Institution

Live from CPAC: The Most Important Panel Everyone Missed | Brookings Institution: And, most notably, there are people in the party who know not simply what needs to be done, but how to do it. The panel’s moderator Jason Roe explained that while working on the campaign for the new Republican mayor of San Diego, they went into minority neighborhoods and opened offices. They talked to non-traditional GOP voters—and they won!

The panel offered their advice to many more empty seats than filled ones. Sure, activists can go back and play the tape and learn from this panel—and they should! However, there exists a lack of interest in failing to attend. That lack of interest is real, and has serious consequences for the party. If failure to go to such a panel reflects the behaviors that Republican grassroots activists will take in campaigns, the party will not grow. Such diversification is essential not simply for the health of the GOP, but for its survival.

Henry Kissinger: To settle the Ukraine crisis, start at the end - The Washington Post

Henry Kissinger: To settle the Ukraine crisis, start at the end - The Washington Post: Russia must accept that to try to force Ukraine into a satellite status, and thereby move Russia’s borders again, would doom Moscow to repeat its history of self-fulfilling cycles of reciprocal pressures with Europe and the United States.

The West must understand that, to Russia, Ukraine can never be just a foreign country. Russian history began in what was called Kievan-Rus. The Russian religion spread from there. Ukraine has been part of Russia for centuries, and their histories were intertwined before then. Some of the most important battles for Russian freedom, starting with the Battle of Poltava in 1709 , were fought on Ukrainian soil.

Don’t Be Silly, CIA Couldn’t Have Spied On Congress! It’s Against The Law!

Don’t Be Silly, CIA Couldn’t Have Spied On Congress! It’s Against The Law!: There’s another one that says the CIA isn’t allowed to do domestic spying. That’s the FBI’s thing. But even if you ignore that, this shit is still disgraceful. Agencies that operate in good faith and within the law have no need to obstruct investigations. If you’re doing that, you’re admitting guilt. That might actually be the worst part of all of this — beyond the torture and the law breaking, the CIA is actually incompetent enough 1) to let Congress discover the CIA was spying on them, and 2) not to realize that their best chance of making this go away is to cooperate, say “sorry,” re-arrange the deck chairs, and move on. A lawless CIA is one thing, but a lawless CIA run by people who apparently can’t even manage a simple PR crisis is pretty fucking scary.

STEM Shortage Claims and Facebook’s $19 Billion Acquisition of WhatsApp

STEM Shortage Claims and Facebook’s $19 Billion Acquisition of WhatsApp: Facebook turning down the founders of WhatsApp and then paying $19 billion for their company a few years later is probably simply another example of the extremely picky hiring practices of technology companies, a pickiness that frequently appears unrelated to actual technical “qualifications.” Technology companies can probably solve their “shortage” by discarding hidden and/or unconscious non-technical criteria as well as discarding excessively narrow “purple squirrel” technical requirements in hiring software engineers and other STEM professionals. Doing this will save them time and money (possibly $19 billion in Facebook’s case) and even make the world a better, fairer place at the same time. :-)

10 best foodie restaurants in Atlanta

10 best foodie restaurants in Atlanta: 4. Decatur – Decatur is a place, not a restaurant, and it's a destination for eating — because all one needs to do is park on any Decatur city street (free after 6pm) and wander. You'll bump into mouthwatering Italian (the meatball is divine) at No. 246. or vividly fresh locally inspired cuisine at Cakes and Ale. Beer lovers must try the massive selection of drafts and Belgians at Brick Store Pub.

09 March, 2014

Four Factions, No Favorite - NYTimes.com

Four Factions, No Favorite - NYTimes.com: Moreover, as much as the party and the country have changed since the Bush era, the best way to unify the G.O.P. is still to build bridges between religious conservatives and moderate conservatives — in effect, to seem relatable to Santorum voters while reassuring Romney voters. And Rubio, in affect and background and positioning, may be the right politician for that task.

Remember, I said “may.” He’s not the front-runner, because there is no front-runner. There are only factions waiting for their champion, and a party waiting for its biggest fight in years.

The weird, weird world of North Korean elections | NK News - North Korea News

The weird, weird world of North Korean elections | NK News - North Korea News: If you’re a North Korean citizen trying to make an (underground) living in China, there’s one event that will certainly bring you back home: election day in the DRPK, when many flood back into the country to have their votes counted whenever they are called.

Why? According to defector Mina Yoon, who left North Korea in 2011, elections function mainly as a means for the state to keep track of its population’s whereabouts and to keep track of defectors.

“The government checks the list of voters and if your name is not on the list, they will investigate it”, she told NK News. “It is often during election that the government finds out about defectors and people who have been missed”.

08 March, 2014

Navalny Is Convicted of Resisting Arrest at Moscow Protest, Despite Video Evidence - NYTimes.com

Navalny Is Convicted of Resisting Arrest at Moscow Protest, Despite Video Evidence - NYTimes.com: As my colleague Andrew Roth reports from Moscow, the dissident blogger Aleksei A. Navalny was sentenced to seven days in jail on Tuesday after a judge found him guilty of resisting arrest at a protest in Moscow the night before. The conviction of the activist lawyer, despite visual evidence posted on his blog that appeared to show him going peacefully into custody, raised concerns that Mr. Navalny could face a much longer term in jail in one of the other cases filed against him for what he insists are political reasons.

Google Translate

Google Translate

In Sevastopol, the Russian soldiers stormed the Ukrainian military unit A2355.

This was reported by the news agency " Interfax-Ukraine "duty of the assistant.

He said the Russian military army "KAMAZ" struck the gate of a military
unit, captured near building and break out to the command post.

Part of the territory located about 100 Ukrainian military strength is unknown assailants.

In turn, the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine told that out of about 20
people stormed the tactical command post of the "region" of the Air
Forces of Ukraine.
Among the group of attackers - "Cossacks" and local radicals with bits that throw grenades svitloshumovi.

According to the information, now commander and political instructor
came out of the command post and conduct negotiations with the
Members of the military unit barricaded himself in one of the barracks.

07 March, 2014

Who Will Protect the Crimean Tatars? : The New Yorker

Who Will Protect the Crimean Tatars? : The New Yorker: “We are already seeing signs that they are trying to intimidate us, to split us, to stir trouble,” Baiibov said. “Ukrainians are also vulnerable, but at least they have Ukraine to go to. Where will we go? Crimea is our only home.” After the regional parliament voted to merge Crimea into Russia on Thursday, the chairman of the Mejlis, Refat Chubarov, released a statement to the press, calling for the United Nations to “immediately consider” sending a contingent of international peacekeepers into Crimea, “in order to de�scalate the military conflict … which can lead to mass casualties among the entire civilian population of the peninsula.”

06 March, 2014

This was my first House episode

When House messed with the formula, it showed its addictive side � TV Roundtable � The A.V. Club: “Three Stories,” the penultimate episode of the first season, is a break in the show’s usual case-of-the-week formula, intended to address the question: Who is House, and how did he get that way? It’s also a giant fishhook, intended to snag the audience and keep them panting for the show’s return in the fall. House’s boss Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) begs him to fill in for a sick doctor who’s supposed to lecture some med students on the diagnostician’s art, and House agrees to do it in order to get off clinic duty for a couple of hours. He then regales the students with what amounts to three mini-episodes of House, which we see acted out in flashback. In one, a middle-aged farmer with some kind of injury that’s eating the flesh off his leg claims to have been bitten by a rattlesnake. House, however, deduces that the patient is really trying to take a bullet for the dog he loves. In the second, a teenage girl who’s a star volleyball player also has a mysterious leg ailment, and in the third, a man arrives in the hospital complaining of leg pain, but is taken for a junkie just trawling for narcotics.

The Sounds of Silence in Prison

The Sounds of Silence in Prison: As foreboding as it was, Eastern State was designed from the beginning to implement new, more humane theories about crime and punishment. Presaging many of today’s arguments on corrections reform, the emphasis was much less on punishment and more on rehabilitation. Philadelphians, drawing on their Quaker roots, had long argued for better treatment of prisoners. They believed that if prisoners were left alone in complete silence, with nothing to occupy their minds but thoughts of their misdeeds, they would become genuinely penitent. (Hence, the building was known as a “penitentiary.”)

CIA May Have Spied on Congress’s Torture Probe | The American Conservative

CIA May Have Spied on Congress’s Torture Probe | The American Conservative: As part of this investigation, intelligence committee staff were required by the CIA to use Agency computers in a secure room in Langley to access millions of sensitive documents. Congressional investigators reportedly agreed to use those computers under the condition that their work not be monitored by the CIA, in accordance with due respect for the separation of powers and the integrity and independence of the investigation. Apparently, the spy mentality proved too strong to resist, as earlier this year the committee determined that their work had in fact been monitored in possible violation of their agreement.

1914, 2014, And Putin � The Dish

1914, 2014, And Putin � The Dish:

I am really struck this morning with the difference between 381px-Russian_Troops_NGM-v31-p379US
and German newspapers in their handling of the situation in Ukraine.
The reporting of the facts is the same, essentially. But the editorial
voice couldn’t be more distinct. Echoing through the German papers is an
admonition, during the centennial of the beginning of the Great War, to
be mindful of the conditions that led to its launch: hysteria, rabid
nationalism, thoughts of the pride and glory of great nations, elements
of personal vanity, militarism. These are forces that have historically
led to great misery for humanity and that have clouded the history of
Europe. They are all also things that can be found in some measure in
the current controversy.

Putin's Press Conference on Ukraine Proved Merkel Right: He's Nuts | New Republic

Putin's Press Conference on Ukraine Proved Merkel Right: He's Nuts | New Republic: He'd come a long way from the painfully awkward gray FSB officer on Larry King, a year into his tenure. He had grown to become the master of public speaking, who had turned his churlish, prison-inflected slang to his benefit. A salty guy in utter command of a crowd. That Putin was not the Putin we saw today. Today's Putin was nervous, angry, cornered, and paranoid, periodically illuminated by flashes of his own righteousness. Here was an authoritarian dancing uncomfortably in his new dictator shoes, squirming in his throne.

For the last few years, it has become something like conventional knowledge in Moscow journalistic circles that Putin was no longer getting good information, that he was surrounded by yes-men who created for him a parallel informational universe.

The 30-Foot Jump | Joe Blogs

The 30-Foot Jump | Joe Blogs: That left Lewis with two more jumps to both win the World Championship AND beat both Powell and Beamon. That’s when he unleashed an amazing but futile effort. With the intense pressure on, with the disappointment of seeing his rival do something he had tried to do his whole life, with the ghost of Beamon gone, Carl Lewis TWICE jumped 29 feet. He jumped 29 feet 1 1/8 inches on his penultimate try. And he jumped almost exactly 29 feet on his last try. It was amazing — only two men before that day had jumped 29 feet, both at altitude. Carl Lewis did it THREE CONSECUTIVE times.

But the record was Powell’s.

And the record is Powell’s. Here’s the funny part: Carl Lewis says now that his intention in 1991 was to break the world record and retire from the long jump. He wanted to focus more on his sprinting. But once Powell broke the world record, he felt like he could not retire, no chance, he had to try and get that record. So he kept chasing. He never did get the record. But he did win two more Olympic gold medals in the pursuit. So there was that.

Searching For The Elephant’s Genius Inside the Largest Brain on Land | Brainwaves, Scientific American Blog Network

Searching For The Elephant’s Genius Inside the Largest Brain on Land | Brainwaves, Scientific American Blog Network: Many years ago, while wandering through Amboseli National Park in Kenya, an elephant matriarch named Echo came upon the bones of her former companion Emily. Echo and her family slowed down and began to inspect the remains. They stroked Emily’s skull with their trunks, investigating every crevice; they touched her skeleton gingerly with their padded hind feet; they carried around her tusks. Elephants consistently react this way to other dead elephants, but do not show much interest in deceased rhinos, buffalo or other species. Sometimes elephants will even cover their dead with soil and leaves.

What is going through an elephant’s mind in these moments? We cannot explain their behavior as an instinctual and immediate reaction to a dying or recently perished compatriot. Rather, they seem to understand—even years and years after a friend or relative’s death—that an irreversible change has taken place, that, here on the ground, is an elephant who used to be alive, but no longer is. In other words, elephants grieve

Curiosity rover does 180-degree turn on Mars :: WRAL.com

Curiosity rover does 180-degree turn on Mars :: WRAL.com: Curiosity’s aluminum wheels are wearing more than expected. Small punctures and even a tear have occurred as the rover drove over ground rougher than but also more geologically interesting than anticipated. The team planning Curiosity’s route has hatched a unique plan to help the mission stay on task while reducing wheel wear. Doing a 180 into a kinder-gentler route.

On Feb. 18, rover drivers began practicing driving the rover backwards. Like a Carolina Hurricanes defensemen effortlessly changing directions on the blue line, Curiosity eased into her new direction setting a one-day distance record of 329 feet. This isn’t like trying to drive with a backup camera mounted on the rear of the family minivan. Curiosity is equipped with the same hazard cameras on the front and rear of the rover.

05 March, 2014

Putin Invades Crimea: Obama Hardest Hit? - The American Interest

Putin Invades Crimea: Obama Hardest Hit? - The American Interest: Here’s the rub. When Ukraine escaped from the Soviet Union in 1990, Soviet nukes from the Cold War were still stationed on Ukrainian territory. After a lot of negotiation, Ukraine agreed to return those nuclear weapons to Russia in exchange for what (perhaps naively) its leaders at the time thought would be solid security guarantees from the United States and the United Kingdom. The “Budapest Memorandum” as this agreement is called, does not in fact require the United States to do very much. We can leave Ukraine twisting in the wind without breaking our limited formal obligations under the pact.

 If President Obama does this, however, and Ukraine ends up losing chunks of territory to Russia, it is pretty much the end of a rational case for non-proliferation in many countries around the world. If Ukraine still had its nukes, it would probably still have Crimea. It gave up its nukes, got worthless paper guarantees, and also got an invasion from a more powerful and nuclear neighbor.

Obama Talks Israel, Iran As Netanyahu Comes to D.C. For AIPAC | New Republic

Obama Talks Israel, Iran As Netanyahu Comes to D.C. For AIPAC | New Republic: The only thing that I’ve heard is, ‘We’ll just keep on doing what we’re doing, and deal with problems as they arise. And we'll build settlements where we can. And where there are problems in the West Bank, we will deal with them forcefully. We’ll cooperate or co-opt the Palestinian Authority.’ And yet, at no point do you ever see an actual resolution to the problem….And as I said before, it’s hard to come up with one that’s plausible.

Don't listen to Obama's Ukraine critics: he's not 'losing' – and it's not his fight | Michael Cohen | Comment is free | theguardian.com

Don't listen to Obama's Ukraine critics: he's not 'losing' – and it's not his fight | Michael Cohen | Comment is free | theguardian.com: You don’t have to listen to the “do something” crowd. These are the same people who brought you the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other greatest hits. These are armchair “experts” convinced that every international problem is a vital interest of the US; that the maintenance of “credibility” and “strength” is essential, and that any demonstration of “weakness” is a slippery slope to global anarchy and American obsolescence; and that being wrong and/or needlessly alarmist never loses one a seat at the table.

The funny thing is, these are often the same people who bemoan the lack of public support for a more muscular American foreign policy. Gee, I wonder why.

The Plight of NCIS: TV's Biggest Drama Gets No Respect - Jason Lynch - The Atlantic

The Plight of NCIS: TV's Biggest Drama Gets No Respect - Jason Lynch - The Atlantic: Now in its 11th season—its 250th episode airs Tuesday, Mar. 4—the CBS procedural, about a team of special agents (led by Mark Harmon) from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, quietly continues to be one of the biggest shows on TV (second only to The Big Bang Theory, which had 17.73 million viewers last week). Yet it receives only a fraction of the media attention (including magazine covers and talk show appearances) and respect paid to all of those other shows that it soundly trounces, week in and week out.

Behind the Preplanned Oscar Selfie: Samsung's Ad Strategy - WSJ.com

Behind the Preplanned Oscar Selfie: Samsung's Ad Strategy - WSJ.com: The origin of the "selfie" shot was a little different. Ms. DeGeneres, in the days leading up to the broadcast, decided she wanted to take "selfies" during the show and ABC suggested she use a Samsung since it was a sponsor, another person familiar with the matter said.

During rehearsals Samsung executives trained Ms. DeGeneres on how to use the Samsung Galaxy, two people familiar with the matter said.

Madison Avenue: The failure of integration in advertising—and what it says about race in America.

Madison Avenue: The failure of integration in advertising—and what it says about race in America.:

Here’s how it played out in advertising: Under government and public
duress to integrate their workforces, white agencies (or “general
market” agencies, as they’re often called) launched a wave of minority
hiring that had an immediate impact, taking the rate of black employment
in the industry from a rate of practically zero in 1965 to 3.5 percent
in 1970. However, since those same white agencies were now required to
subcontract projects out the door to minority agencies, their incentive
to bring black hires in was significantly diminished. The rationale that
black agencies used to justify their business model was that they were
more qualified to speak to black consumers, which in turn cemented the
stereotype that white people were more qualified to speak to white
consumers. Culturally, legally, and economically, the industry settled
into a pattern which ensured that “white” advertising happened over here
and “black” advertising happened over there. White agencies did little
more than token hiring and recruiting.

04 March, 2014

A Successor to Sagan Reboots ‘Cosmos’ - NYTimes.com

A Successor to Sagan Reboots ‘Cosmos’ - NYTimes.com: I’m not going to pretend to be neutral here. I hope it succeeds and that everyone watches it, not just because I have known Ms. Druyan and admired Dr. Tyson for years, but because we all need a unifying dose of curiosity and wonder.

“Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” comes at a critical moment for a society that is increasingly fragmented.

If we are going to decide big issues, like eating genetically modified food, fracking for natural gas, responding to the prospect of drastic climate change, exploring space or engaging in ambitious science research, we are going to have to start from some common experience.

As Ukraine tension flares, Russia test-fires ballistic missile

As Ukraine tension flares, Russia test-fires ballistic missile:

Clearly furious, Mr Putin delivered a version of the crisis almost
entirely at odds with the view held by most officials in Europe and the
US, as well as by many Ukrainians. He described anti-government protests
in Kiev as an "orgy" of radicals and nationalists, noting a swastika
armband that he had glimpsed in images of the crowd. He also insisted
that ousted president Viktor Yanukovych had never ordered security
forces to shoot protesters, suggesting that snipers stationed on
rooftops "may have been provocateurs from opposition parties".

03 March, 2014

Georgia Senate throws students under bus. House gets ready to... | Get Schooled | www.ajc.com

Georgia Senate throws students under bus. House gets ready to... | Get Schooled | www.ajc.com: Another unintended consequences of SB 167 could be a ban on critical national tests. The bill mandates all testing be controlled by the state. Some education experts worry that the broad language could prohibit the administration of International Baccalaureate exams, Advanced Placement tests, the SAT and the ACT -- tests students in Duluth and Johns Creek need to get into college.

“In my reading of the bill, it bans assessments that are not created within or by Georgia,” says Dr. Dana Rickman, policy and research director for the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education and former director of research and policy at the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

02 March, 2014

G-7 Leaders Statement | The White House

G-7 Leaders Statement | The White House: We, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States and the President of the European Council and President of the European Commission, join together today to condemn the Russian Federation’s clear violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, in contravention of Russia’s obligations under the UN Charter and its 1997 basing agreement with Ukraine. We call on Russia to address any ongoing security or human rights concerns that it has with Ukraine through direct negotiations, and/or via international observation or mediation under the auspices of the UN or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. We stand ready to assist with these efforts.

No, Vladimir Putin Is Not a Cunning Geopolitical Chess Player | Mother Jones

No, Vladimir Putin Is Not a Cunning Geopolitical Chess Player | Mother Jones: Make no mistake. All the sanctions and NATO meetings and condemnations from foreign offices in the West won't have much material effect on Putin's immediate conduct. But that doesn't mean he doesn't care about this stuff: he does, and he's been bullying and blustering for a long time in a frantic effort to avoid it. Now, however, having failed utterly thanks to ham-handed tactics on his part, he's finally decided on one last desperation move. Not because the West is helpless to retaliate, but because he's simply decided he's willing to bear the cost.1 It's a sign of weakness, not a show of strength. It's the price he's paying for his inability to control events.

1This is why a strong response from the West is a good idea even though it won't have much immediate effect. Having decided that he's willing to pay the price for his action, Putin now has to be sent the bill. It will pay dividends down the road.

Pressure Rising as Obama Works to Rein in Russia - NYTimes.com

Pressure Rising as Obama Works to Rein in Russia - NYTimes.com: The Russian occupation of Crimea has challenged Mr. Obama as has no other international crisis, and at its heart, the advice seemed to pose the same question: Is Mr. Obama tough enough to take on the former K.G.B. colonel in the Kremlin? It is no easy task. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told Mr. Obama by telephone on Sunday that after speaking with Mr. Putin she was not sure he was in touch with reality, people briefed on the call said. “In another world,” she said.

KERRY: Russia behaving 'in 19th century fashion...acting out of weakness...desperation' -- UKRAINE PLEA: 'We are on the brink of disaster' -- LOIS LERNER to testify -- B'DAYS: Kevin Madden, Gorbachev - POLITICO Playbook - POLITICO.com

KERRY: Russia behaving 'in 19th century fashion...acting out of weakness...desperation' -- UKRAINE PLEA: 'We are on the brink of disaster' -- LOIS LERNER to testify -- B'DAYS: Kevin Madden, Gorbachev - POLITICO Playbook - POLITICO.com: SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY, from Boston, to Bob Schieffer on “Face the Nation”: “[I]t is an incredible act of aggression … really a stunning, willful choice by president Putin to invade another country. Russia is in violation of the sovereignty of Ukraine. Russia is in violation of its international obligations. Russia is in violation of its obligations under the U.N. charter, under the Helsinki Final Act. It’s in violation of its obligations under the 1994 Budapest agreement. You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext. …

Jonathan Lebed: Stock Manipulator, S.E.C. Nemesis -- and 15 - New York Times

Jonathan Lebed: Stock Manipulator, S.E.C. Nemesis -- and 15 - New York Times:

"I was going over some old press releases about different companies.
The best performing stock in 1999 on the Nasdaq was Qualcomm (QCOM).
QCOM was up around 2000% for the year. On December 29th of last year,
even after QCOM's run from 25 to 500, Paine Webber analyst Walter Piecky
came out and issued a buy rating on QCOM with a target price of 1,000.
QCOM finished the day up 156 to 662. There was nothing fundamentally
that would make QCOM worth 1,000. There is no way that a company with
sales under $4 billion, should be worth hundreds of billions. . . . QCOM
has now fallen from 800 to under 300. It is no longer the hot play with
all of the attention. Many people were able to successfully time QCOM
and make a lot of money. The ones who had bad timing on QCOM, lost a lot
of money.

"People who trade stocks, trade based on what they feel
will move and they can trade for profit. Nobody makes investment
decisions based on reading financial filings. Whether a company is
making millions or losing millions, it has no impact on the price of the
stock. Whether it is analysts, brokers, advisors, Internet traders, or
the companies, everybody is manipulating the market. If it wasn't for
everybody manipulating the market, there wouldn't be a stock market at
all. . . ."

01 March, 2014

UNSC, EU, NATO to hold urgent meetings over Ukraine

UNSC, EU, NATO to hold urgent meetings over Ukraine: After Friday's urgent meeting of the UNSC, U.S. ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, called upon Moscow to withdraw its armed forces from Crimea, while Russia’s UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin said that Russia is acting within existing agreements on the stationing of the Russian Black Sea fleet in Sevastopol, Crimea.

Russia is a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council and is able to block any proposed action by its members.

Foreign ministers of the European Union will convene at an extraordinary meeting on Monday to discuss Russia’s potential use of armed forces in Ukraine.

Idaho gov. signs 'ag gag' bill into law | Al Jazeera America

Idaho gov. signs 'ag gag' bill into law | Al Jazeera America: “Gov. Otter has decided to keep corrupt factory farming practices from the public. He’s created a safe haven for animal abuse,” said Matt Rice, the director of investigations at Mercy for Animals, the group that made the 2012 video that sparked Idaho’s ag-gag debate. “These are facilities that supply food to the entire country. No other industry has the kind of immunity.”

The legislation carries a sentence of up to a year in prison and a $5,000 fine for people who secretly enter and record agricultural operations. It also criminalizes falsifying documents like resumes in order to get hired on a farm.

“We’re extremely pleased that the bill passed,” said Bob Naerebout, director Idaho Dairymen’s Association. “Even though there was a lot of negative ads run on this bill, and even though the bill was misrepresented (by animal rights groups), Idaho’s legislators were able to see through that.”

ICE/ISEE-3 to return to an Earth no longer capable of speaking to it | The Planetary Society

ICE/ISEE-3 to return to an Earth no longer capable of speaking to it | The Planetary Society: How could this happen? Well, the fact that ISEE-3 is still broadcasting a carrier signal was actually an error; it should have been shut down. If they had planned for it to still be functioning at this point, they would have maintained the capability to communicate with it. I don't comprehend the intricacies of deep-space communications well enough to understand the obstacles here, and I don't question their conclusion, but that doesn't make me any less sad.

So ISEE-3 will pass by us, ready to talk with us, but in the 30 years since it departed Earth we've lost the ability to speak its language. I wonder if ham radio operators will be able to pick up its carrier signal -- it's meaningless, I guess, but it feels like an honorable thing to do, a kind of salute to the venerable ship as it passes by.

Andrew O’Hagan � Ghosting: Julian Assange � LRB 6 March 2014

Andrew O’Hagan � Ghosting: Julian Assange � LRB 6 March 2014: It wasn’t the first time I noticed how deeply adversarial WikiLeaks was in its relationship with its friends. Julian treated his supporters as subjects, and learned nothing when they walked away. He hardly mentioned the right-wing press that called him a criminal and a traitor: he expended all his ire on the journalists who had tried to work with him and who had basic sympathy for his political position. In a bank safe, I have dozens of hours of taped interviews with Assange in which he rails maniacally against the Guardian and the New York Times. After many of these long nights, I would wonder if the job wasn’t getting closer to fiction than I’d suspected. Before my eyes, and with no regard for me or my tape recorder, he snapped the olive branch proffered by those he hated.

Goodbye to All That - Why I Left the Academic Life

Goodbye to All That - Why I Left the Academic Life: Because I've achieved some prominence in life, I'm sometimes contacted by academic professional organizations to find out more about what I do as an example that there are other things graduating PhDs can do beside jump and dance for an assistant professorship. For me, as I said, it's all perfect. But really, why would you spend that kind of time getting a degree if in any real sense you weren't going to use it? It would be hard for me to justify that to someone else unless they simply really wanted to spend 5 or 6 years studying history (or whatever else). For my part, I did enjoy it. But I realized I'd enjoy being a professor much, much less.

All the incentives of academic life drive against having the time, the need and in many cases the ability to communicate with a larger public. In some cases, that's as it should be. In others, it's about the straitened nature of academic life, specialization driven by bad job prospects, an over-abundance of Phds, and a deep, deep conventionality driven by risk aversion rooted in all of the above.

Optic Nerve: millions of Yahoo webcam images intercepted by GCHQ | World news | The Guardian

Optic Nerve: millions of Yahoo webcam images intercepted by GCHQ | World news | The Guardian: Yahoo reacted furiously to the webcam interception when approached by the Guardian. The company denied any prior knowledge of the program, accusing the agencies of "a whole new level of violation of our users' privacy".

GCHQ does not have the technical means to make sure no images of UK or US citizens are collected and stored by the system, and there are no restrictions under UK law to prevent Americans' images being accessed by British analysts without an individual warrant.

The documents also chronicle GCHQ's sustained struggle to keep the large store of sexually explicit imagery collected by Optic Nerve away from the eyes of its staff, though there is little discussion about the privacy implications of storing this material in the first place.

America getting healthier isn't a loss

For Coke, Challenge Is Staying Relevant - NYTimes.com: “Coca-Cola is the mother brand,” Martin Lindstrom, a brand and marketing consultant and the author of six books, including “Buyology” and “Brandwashed,” told me this week in a visit to New York from his home base in Denmark. “The whole company is affected. Coke has to stop the erosion in the United States or it will cascade elsewhere.”

This week, I consulted several prominent branding and marketing experts for insights into Coke’s problems and what the company could do. The very idea that the Coke brand may be in trouble is startling, given that Coca-Cola has thrived for 127 years and has survived countless passing health fads, in part because its flagship product contains both caffeine and sugar, which can be addictive.

Reparations flow the wrong way: What the right doesn’t understand about slavery - Salon.com

Reparations flow the wrong way: What the right doesn’t understand about slavery - Salon.com: When slaves couldn’t be kept alive, their autopsied bodies still provided useful information. Of course, as the writer Harriet Washington has demonstrated in her stunning Medical Apartheid, such experimentation continued long after slavery ended: in the 1940s, one doctor said that the “future of the Negro lies more in the research laboratory than in the schools.” As late as the 1960s, another researcher, reminiscing in a speech given at Tulane Medical School, said that it was “cheaper to use Niggers than cats because they were everywhere and cheap experimental animals.”

Medical knowledge slowly filtered out of the slave industry into broader communities, since slavers made no proprietary claims on the techniques or data that came from treating their slaves. For instance, an epidemic of blindness that broke out in 1819 on the French slaver R�deur, which had sailed from Bonny Island in the Niger Delta with about 72 slaves on board, helped eye doctors identify the causes, patterns, and symptoms of what is today known as trachoma.