31 August, 2014

The Smart Set: Cutting Edge - August 25, 2014

The Smart Set: Cutting Edge - August 25, 2014: Unknowingly, unconsciously, the engineers of the Panama Canal were acting as agents of the ancient supercontinent of Pangaea. Bring it all back together. Shorten the distances. Heal the wounds, maybe, from the terrible splitting that tore the world out of its oneness hundreds of millions of years ago. That is how it can seem, anyway, when you take the long view, when you look at it from a geological perspective. It is like an old dream of continental unity that we never knew we had. It is like the crust beneath the earth found a way to influence the minds of the men who crawl upon the surface. “Bring us back together.” You can hear it whispered from the cracks and crevices and fault lines that go down into the dark places beneath.

Invertebrate numbers nearly halve as human population doubles

Invertebrate numbers nearly halve as human population doubles: Invertebrate numbers have decreased by 45% on average over a 35 year period in which the human population doubled, reports a study on the impact of humans on declining animal numbers.

An overachieving mother on parenting a child with developmental delays.

An overachieving mother on parenting a child with developmental delays.: I was a single mom by choice at 37, and if my love life hadn’t quite panned out, most everything else had. I was a classic “amazing girl”—driven, social, and relentlessly well-rounded—reveling in the fruits of post-Title IX America: an all-metro athlete in high school, Rhodes Scholar at 24, best-selling author by 27. My anonymous sperm donor is an (allegedly) gifted musician.

When my daughter was born, I did everything I thought I was supposed to do. Breast-feeding. Baby carrier. Wooden toys. But one day, when she was just over a year old, her nanny wouldn’t make eye contact with me. “I’m worried she’s not making enough sounds,” she finally blurted out. And suddenly I heard the silence, the way you one day notice a tree or a house on a street you’ve driven down a hundred times before. My daughter did not babble, or engage in a back-and-forth gurgle with me. Her voice did not inflect.

Man Arrested While Picking Up His Kids: 'The Problem Is I'm Black' - The Atlantic

Man Arrested While Picking Up His Kids: 'The Problem Is I'm Black' - The Atlantic: Her failure to do the right thing pales in comparison to the male police officer, who appears on the scene, abruptly informs the increasingly and understandably distraught father that he's going to jail–for what crime he does not say–and then, after the video goes black but audio coverage remains, proceeds to tase the man. "I didn't do anything wrong!" he cries, "I didn't break any laws and you tase me? That's assault!" Even after being tased, the man is incredulous that he will be arrested, and it's heartbreaking to listen as he realizes there will be no one to pick up his kids and that he'll perhaps miss work at a job that he needs to support them.

Sitting while Black in Minnesota: Cops Tase man for not stating his name

Sitting while Black in Minnesota: Cops Tase man for not stating his name: “I do not have to let you know who I am if I haven’t broken any laws,” the man says, adding that he explained to the clerk that he sat near the store for 10 minutes before going to pick up his children at a nearby school, New Horizon Academy.

“He walked up to me a minute later and got irate with me,” the man says of the clerk. “That’s a public area, and if there’s no sign that [says], ‘This is a private area, you can’t sit here,’ no one can tell me I can’t sit there.”

“The problem was,” the officer begins to say, before the man cuts her off, saying, “The problem is, I’m Black.”

Seconds later, the male officer approaches, and the man asks, “Please don’t touch me.”

“You’re gonna go to jail, then,” the officer responds, before he and his colleague grab the man.

“Come on brother,” the man says, “This is assault.”

“I’m not your brother,” the second officer answers. “Put your hands behind your back otherwise it’s going to get ugly.”

Man Tased, Arrested for Crime of Being Black in St. Paul, Minnesota | Slog

Man Tased, Arrested for Crime of Being Black in St. Paul, Minnesota | Slog: A man was sitting in a public place waiting to pick his kids up from school. He wasn't breaking any laws. A shop owner asked him to move—which the shop owner had no right to do—and the man got up and moved. He was then stopped by a cop who asked him his name. He refused to give his name. "I know my rights," the man said to the cop. And he did know his rights: he was under no obligation to identify himself to her. "Minnesota does not currently have a 'stop and identify' statute in place" that would give police the right to arrest someone for [not] identifying himself," RawStory points out. The cop, unfortunately, didn't know his rights.

The invasion of Ukraine, in maps, satellite photos, and video - Quartz

The invasion of Ukraine, in maps, satellite photos, and video - Quartz: The United Nations published a report today on the human cost of the conflict in Ukraine, noting that at least 2,593 people—around 36 per day—have been killed as a result of the fighting. Nearly 200,000 people in the country have been displaced, including more than half of the residents of Donetsk and Luhansk. Some 468 people are believed to be detained by “various armed groups,” the UN said. In a separate report, released yesterday, Human Rights Watch revealed evidence that separatist fighters are “arbitrarily detaining civilians and subjecting them to torture, degrading treatment, and forced labor.”

The Procrastination Doom Loop—and How to Break It - The Atlantic

The Procrastination Doom Loop—and How to Break It - The Atlantic: In the last few years, however, scientists have begun to think that procrastination might have less to do with time than emotion. Procrastination "really has nothing to do with time-management,” Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at DePaul University, told Psychological Science. “To tell the chronic procrastinator to just do it would be like saying to a clinically depressed person, cheer up.”

U.N. Draft Report Lists Unchecked Emissions’ Risks - NYTimes.com

U.N. Draft Report Lists Unchecked Emissions’ Risks - NYTimes.com: The world may already be nearing a temperature at which the loss of the vast ice sheet covering Greenland would become inevitable, the report said. The actual melting would then take centuries, but it would be unstoppable and could result in a sea level rise of 23 feet, with additional increases from other sources like melting Antarctic ice, potentially flooding the world’s major cities.

The Transparency Trap - David Frum - The Atlantic

The Transparency Trap - David Frum - The Atlantic: Journalists often lament the absence of presidential leadership. What they are really observing is the weakening of congressional followership. Members of the liberal Congress elected in 1974 overturned the old committee system in an effort to weaken the power of southern conservatives. Instead—and quite inadvertently—they weakened the power of any president to move any program through any Congress. Committees and subcommittees multiplied to the point where no single chair has the power to guarantee anything. This breakdown of the committee system empowered the rank-and-file member—and provided the lobbying industry with more targets to influence. Committees now open their proceedings to the public. Many are televised. All of this allows lobbyists to keep a close eye on events—and to confirm that the politicians to whom they have contributed deliver value.

30 August, 2014

Different rules apply | MZS | Roger Ebert

Different rules apply | MZS | Roger Ebert:

When I finished he said, "Would you like to press charges?"

"What for?" I asked.

"Assault," he said.

"Why would I press assault charges against him?"

"Because he hit you first."

I said, "Oh, no, he didn't hit me first. He poked me in the chest."

"That's assault," my cop said. "He hit you first."

don't think he actually meant to touch me, though," I said, while a
voice deep inside me said, Stupid white boy, he's making it plain and
you're not getting it.

"It doesn't matter if he meant to touch
you, he hit you first," he said. He was talking to me warmly and
patiently, as you might explain things to a child. Wisdom was being

"You were in fear of your life," he added.

now the adrenaline fog seemed to be lifting. I was seeing things in a
more clinical way. The violence I had inflicted on this man was
disproportionate to the "assault," and the tone of this exchange with
the cop felt conspiratorial.

And then it dawned on me, Mr. Slow-on-the-Uptake, what was really happening: this officer was helping me Get My Story Straight.

Understanding, at long last.

also need to mention that while this conversation was taking place, not
ten feet away the other guy was face down on the pavement,
handcuffed—even though when the squad car arrived, anybody who'd looked
at our situation purely in terms of physical action, without the
explanations I proffered afterward, would have concluded that I was the

"Do you live around here?" he said.

"Yeah—a couple blocks that way."

He gave me back my driver's license. "Go ahead," he said, gesturing across the street.

"Go ahead what?"

"Go home."

Where Online Social Liberalism Lost The Script � The Dish

Where Online Social Liberalism Lost The Script � The Dish:

On matters of substance, I agree with almost everything that the
social liberals on Tumblr and Twitter and blogs and websites believe. I
believe that racism is embedded in many of our institutions. I believe
that sexual violence is common and that we have a culture of misogyny. I
believe that privilege is real. I believe all of that. And I understand
and respect the need to express rage, which is a legitimate political
emotion. But I also believe that there’s no possible way to fix these
problems without bringing more people into the coalition. I would like
for people who are committed to arguing about social justice online to
work on building a culture that is unrelenting in its criticisms of
injustice, but that leaves more room for education. People have to be
free to make mistakes, even ones that we find offensive. If we turn away
from everyone that says or believes something dumb, we will find
ourselves lecturing to an empty room. Surely there are ways to preserve
righteous anger while being more circumspect about who is targeted by
that anger. And I strongly believe that we can, and must, remind the
world that social justice is about being happy, being equal, and being

Did the St. Louis police have to shoot Kajieme Powell? - Vox

Did the St. Louis police have to shoot Kajieme Powell? - Vox: But even with clear video of the entire encounter, there is little agreement as to what happened.

 It is notable that the St. Louis police released the video. They did so in the interests of transparency, and because it was, in the words of a police union representative, "exculpatory." And in some ways it is. Powell is acting erratically. He does ignore police warnings to stop and drop his knife. He does advance on them. He does yell, "shoot me!"

But many who have seen the video think it is anything but exculpatory. It raises questions about aspects of the story police told in the immediate aftermath of the shooting — Powell does not appear to charge the police with his knife held high, and he is shot when he is farther away than two or three feet, for instance.

Palestinians Live What Israelis Fear � The Dish

Palestinians Live What Israelis Fear � The Dish: Everything that defenders of Israel insist will happen if Palestinians gain power, Palestinians are now enduring, or worse. Every humanitarian disaster that you imagine will occur with the creation of a Palestinian state is happening now. It’s just happening to the people of Palestine. And so this is the question for my many, many critical emailers: why do you shed more tears for what you imagine might happen to Israel than for what is happening to Palestinians?

27 August, 2014

Swatting | VICE News

Swatting | VICE News

In recent years, a small amount of hackers and gamers have been
anonymously reporting fake hostage situations, shootings, and other
violent crimes designed to send elite police units, like SWAT teams, to
unsuspecting people at their residences.

Swatting is a dangerous
and expensive prank, which is easy to pull off. Swatters are utilizing
easily accessible technology to mask or even alter the ID during calls
to 911 dispatchers. With SWAT teams and paramilitary gear becoming the
norm across small town America, these calls have predictably chaotic

Despite the hyper-vigilance of America's law enforcement,
authorities still struggle to defend themselves from the unlikeliest of
threats — tech-savvy teenagers. Police militarization meets hacker
culture as VICE News investigates the dangerous crime of swatting.

The best and worst times to have your case reviewed by a judge | Randal S. Olson

The best and worst times to have your case reviewed by a judge | Randal S. Olson:

Shockingly, the judges appear to be much more inclined to approve a
parole request when they’ve just come off a break. In contrast, they
reject far more requests than usual the closer they get to break time —
and nearly 100% of the requests just before they take a break.

This study provides a classic example of depletion effects in human judgement,
a theory which suggests that we have a limited amount of mental energy
to expend during a working period. The longer we work on mentally
strenuous tasks, the more mental energy we expend, and eventually we’ll
run out and start falling back to these easy — and often wrong — default

Young Indians And Pakistanis Rewrite Their Shared History : Parallels : NPR

Young Indians And Pakistanis Rewrite Their Shared History : Parallels : NPR: According to the Indian account from the book, "Of all the people, Gandhi ji, who at all times, had tried to preserve the unity of India, was shattered and heart-broken. The communal carnage that broke out even after the Partition made the situation unbearable."

In this version, his name is followed by the Hindi suffix "ji," signaling the respect and reverence that surrounds Gandhi. He is portrayed as a man who did his best to prevent tensions from boiling over, but tragically failed as Indians and Pakistanis waged their first war at independence in 1947.

In the Pakistani excerpt, "Gandhi did his best to prove India as one nation and nationality so that he could claim to represent the Indian people alone ... Gandhi insisted that there was only one nation in India which were the Hindus."

26 August, 2014

The Joys and Sorrows of Late-Night Email - The Atlantic

The Joys and Sorrows of Late-Night Email - The Atlantic: But in other white-collar industries—law, consulting, advertising, fashion, media, non-profits, fundraising, politics—individual workers are constantly working with new clients and partners, whose needs require constant contacting, pinging, base-touching, out-reaching, and so on. Email isn't just for your cross-country clients; it's just as likely to be for your cross-desk colleagues. The upshot is a ceaseless flow of correspondences that often bleeds over into dusk. Email consumes an average of 13 hours per week, according to a McKinsey Global Institute paper, or 28 percent of the average workweek. With the typical "knowledge" worker—that is: somebody whose professional output is creative—earning $75,000 a year, that means "the time spent on reading and answering email costs a company $20,990 per worker per year." (No wonder there are all these people trying to reform it.)

Its Edge Intact, Vice Is Chasing Hard News - NYTimes.com

Its Edge Intact, Vice Is Chasing Hard News - NYTimes.com: The riveting footage and remarkable access in “The Islamic State” provoked envy and wonder — those little dickens at Vice had done it again — and raised questions about the line between propaganda and news. Some asked what precisely Vice News did to gain entree into ISIS’s inner circle. So how did Vice get the get?

“We asked,” said Jason Mojica, editor in chief of Vice News. He stated categorically that no money had been paid and said that the restrictions under which Mr. Dairieh worked were there for all to see in the video. It was a choreographed media opportunity with one of the most dangerous, well-armed terrorist organizations in the world, one that he said was worth the risk and the effort.

24 August, 2014

How to Beat Down a Bully

How to Beat Down a Bully: The time has come for the West to make a decisive move to counter Putin's irregular war against Ukraine. The Russian president has introduced a perilous new norm into the international system, namely that it is legitimate to violate the borders of other countries in order to "protect" not just ethnic Russians, but "Russian speakers" -- with military means if necessary. Putin has notoriously threatened to annex Transnistria, the Russian-speaking territory of Moldova, inter alia. The Putin Doctrine represents a serious transgression of the status quo that has guaranteed the continent's security since the end of World War II; moreover, it violates the most essential tenet of the post-1945 international order.

22 August, 2014

I Increasingly Find Conflict Between My Faith and Some Conservative Discourse | RedState

I Increasingly Find Conflict Between My Faith and Some Conservative Discourse | RedState: To start, Christian conservatives were roundly assailed by other conservatives for daring to provide aid and comfort to children whose parents had shipped them across the border. Some could not distinguish between giving a child a teddy bear and supporting Mexican drug cartels. It was all one or all the other. In fact, many Christians, myself included, want expedited deportations and a secure border. But we also want to make sure the children, some victims of human trafficking, were taken care of, fed, and comforted.

But to some on the right, that is aiding law breakers.

The anger and hysteria directed at conservatives engaged in private charity had all the makings of a leftist police state making us care about how we choose to spend our own money.

▶ The World is Open for Play - YouTube

▶ The World is Open for Play - YouTube

21 August, 2014

For aspiring aviators, there is no pilot shortage. : flying

For aspiring aviators, there is no pilot shortage. : flying: Any first-year Econ student could tell you that in this situation, with a shortage of qualified labor, one can expect wages to rise. And yet, here we have a peculiar example of an entire industry defying the laws of economics, for the very opposite is presently true: there is strong downward pressure on regional pilot wages. This is because the newly emboldened mega-legacies are treating their erstwhile regional partners much like Walmart treats its suppliers: smaller, vulnerable targets to be bullied into submission and forced to slash costs, even to their own detriment, because the alternative is annihilation. Regional management has grown increasingly desperate, having seen their peers unsuccessfully attempt branded flying (ACA, ExpressJet), merging with other carriers (Pinnacle, ASA), or diversifying their partnerships (Mesa, Republic) in an effort to survive the storm. They are now willing to slash costs no matter the consequence, even if it eventually robs them of pilots to fly the airplanes, so long as it lets them live to fight another day. To do this, they are preying on their pilots’ insecurities about their careers, forged in the turmoil of the post-9/11 era and not yet attuned to the opportunities of a labor shortage.

Study: Nobody Is Paying Attention on Your Conference Call - Atlantic Mobile

Study: Nobody Is Paying Attention on Your Conference Call - Atlantic :

It's 3:15 p.m. on a Wednesday, and I am deep, deep inside the guts of
BaseballReference.com, the statistical mecca for MLB
fanatics, conducting an exhaustive investigation on an issue of national
importance: What was the greatest pitching season of all time? Was it
Bob Gibson in '68? Pedro Martinez in 2000? Clayton Kershaw
in 2014? Browser tabs and Excel charts extend across my two computer
screens like the dashboard of a junior analyst. The answer is coming
into focus when, suddenly, a voice from the phone shocks me back into

... "Derek, what do you think? Derek. Derek!"

Oh, that's right. I'm on a conference call.

"Sorry, I was on mute," I say.

I wasn't on mute. What were they talking about? From my shallow
working memory, I can make out a few words spoken while I was looking up
Martinez's strikeout numbers—headlines? narrative structure? something about never again using personal anecdotes as ledes?—and I take a deep breath.

"Well, I guess I'd like to begin by piggy-backing on that last point about anecdotal ledes..."

20 August, 2014

Lakewood, OH: The Suburb Where Everyone Can Walk to School on Vimeo

Lakewood, OH: The Suburb Where Everyone Can Walk to School on Vimeo: The inner-ring, Cleveland suburb of Lakewood, Ohio (population 51,000) calls itself a "walking school district". Since Lakewod has never had school buses in its history, kids naturally grow up walking and biking to school.

19 August, 2014

The Internet's Original Sin - The Atlantic

The Internet's Original Sin - The Atlantic: This personalization means that two readers of The New York Times may seen a very different picture of the world, and that two users of Facebook certainly do, shaped both by our choice of friends and by Facebook’s algorithms. Research suggests that these personalized sites may lead us into echo chambers, filter bubbles, or other forms of ideological isolation that divide us into rival camps that cannot agree on anything, including a set of common facts on which we could build a debate. While many have written on this topic (and I wrote a book on it), few have shown the implications of overpersonalization as well as Gilad Lotan did in this recent analysis of media consumption in Israel and Palestine, where he describes the view participants in the current Gaza war have of the conflict as “personalized propaganda.”

I’m a cop. If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t challenge me. - The Washington Post

I’m a cop. If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t challenge me. - The Washington Post: Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary, and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me. Most field stops are complete in minutes. How difficult is it to cooperate for that long?

These six lawsuits shaped the internet | The Verge

These six lawsuits shaped the internet | The Verge: The internet is great. And we all know that. But it’s worth noting that the internet has only taken on its current form of greatness because of legal battles that have allowed it to provide speech protected by the First Amendment, third-party content, and all sorts of other great things that we sometimes take for granted.

What follows is a list of six legal cases that helped to shape the internet into what it is today.

The Ivy League, Mental Illness, and the Meaning of Life - The Atlantic

The Ivy League, Mental Illness, and the Meaning of Life - The Atlantic: These kids were always the best of their class, and their teachers were always praising them, inflating their ego. But it’s a false self-esteem. It’s not real self-possession, where you are measuring yourself against your own internal standards and having a sense that you’re working towards something. It’s totally conditional, and constantly has to be pumped up by the next grade, the next A, or gold star. As Miller says, what you’re really learning is that your parents’ love is conditional on this achievement. So when you fail, even a little bit, even if you just get a B on a test, or an A- on a test, the whole thing collapses. It may only collapse temporarily, but it’s a profound collapse—you feel literally worthless.

18 August, 2014

Arming the Syrian Rebels Wouldn't Have Stopped ISIS | Mother Jones

Arming the Syrian Rebels Wouldn't Have Stopped ISIS | Mother Jones: It's human nature to believe that intervention is always better than doing nothing. Liberals tend to believe this in domestic affairs and conservatives tend to believe it in foreign affairs. But it's not always so. The Middle East suffers from fundamental, longstanding fractures that the United States simply can't affect other than at the margins. Think about it this way: What are the odds that shipping arms and supplies to a poorly defined, poorly coordinated, and poorly understood rebel alliance in Syria would make a significant difference in the long-term outcome there when two decade-long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq barely changed anything? Slim and none.

Free societies require more of police than turning tough situations into militarized zones � Hot Air

Free societies require more of police than turning tough situations into militarized zones � Hot Air: I understand the need to address looting and rioting, and quickly. I understand that law enforcement officers put their lives on the line to do that. But perhaps when a police force, which must work with local communities to be successful, has already shot an unarmed person thereby inflaming the emotions of said community, they should approach the policing in the immediate aftermath with an overabundance of caution. Using rioting as an excuse for police abuses is just as problematic as using the original shooting as an excuse for looting.

And, here’s the thing. We ask more of law enforcement in a free society and we should. We don’t accept that everyone in a community must be under the gun because some of them committed crimes. Or, that journalists should be arrested while trying to cover that community. We have a system that allows for going after the accused while respecting everyone’s rights, scribe or no. Stipulated that we ask cops to handle challenging, dangerous, delicate situations like riot and looting in Ferguson or manhunts in Boston. Because this is America, we ask them to do it while preserving the rights of innocent bystanders and even those who may be engaging in crime.

NPR Is Laundering CIA Talking Points to Make You Scared of NSA Reporting - The Intercept

NPR Is Laundering CIA Talking Points to Make You Scared of NSA Reporting - The Intercept: But it should go without saying that this proves nothing about causation; it is a basic logical principle that “A precedes B” is not evidence that ”A caused B.” The original Recorded Future report literally did nothing more than assert that there were visible encryption improvements from al-Qaeda that post-dated the first Snowden story, and then, based on no evidence, just asserted the causal link.

Beyond that obvious post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, there is no question that “jihadists” have been working for years on sophisticated tactics for communications security; the fact that they continued to be after the Snowden reporting began literally proves nothing.

A first-hand perspective on Ferguson

Dissonant Winston Smith | Dissonance: “We’ve got to go. They’re rioting in Ferguson,” my friend Rick said
quickly as I walked into the police station on the evening of August 10th,
2014. I grabbed a set of keys from the wall and seconds later, we were in
a car together heading toward Ferguson, Missouri, a municipality in North
St. Louis County. We didn’t work for Ferguson PD but we knew if they were
calling for our help, things weren’t going well. “Officer-in-need-of-aid”
calls came through every so often and we would respond when they were
close. However, from the start we knew this time was different.

Police Face Civilian Protesters–Dressed for Military Combat - The Atlantic

Police Face Civilian Protesters–Dressed for Military Combat - The Atlantic: The image in the Times photograph is particularly stark, but is depicting something that happens daily in cities all around the United States with little pushback. Community policing is impossible when officers dress up as occupying soldiers. But there is little chance that this pernicious trend will end anytime soon.

17 August, 2014

Mapped: Sex offender registry laws on statutory rape, public urination, and prostitution.

Mapped: Sex offender registry laws on statutory rape, public urination, and prostitution.: As you can see in the maps below, consensual sex between teenagers is just one of several crimes far removed from violent felonies that can land one on a sex offender registry. Kansas and at least five other states require registration for some prostitution-related offences, such as solicitation or running a brothel. In Michigan and at least 11 other states, urinating in public is.*

The Yes-Man Is Your Enemy, But Your Friend Will Argue With You | The American Conservative

The Yes-Man Is Your Enemy, But Your Friend Will Argue With You | The American Conservative: I have often cited the Russian proverb that Solzhenitsyn used, “The yes-man is your enemy, but your friend will argue with you.” The meaning of this proverb can be misunderstood, since it can be misinterpreted to mean that one should constantly be quarreling with one’s own friends, but it is fairly clear to anyone paying attention. Indulging a friend in his worst, most self-destructive behavior by endorsing whatever he says and does and making excuses for him contributes to the friend’s ruin and can have the same effect as seeking his downfall, and rebuking him when he goes awry helps to protect him against his own bad judgment. The main mistake that Rosner and Podhoretz make, unsurprisingly, is that they consider otherwise sympathetic critics to be “fair-weather” friends when these are potentially some of the best friends that Israelis have precisely because they don’t simply back whatever the Israeli government happens to do.

If driverless cars save lives, where will we get organs?

If driverless cars save lives, where will we get organs?: “The self-driving car is coming, and right now, our best supply of organs comes from car accidents,” he said. “So, if you need an organ you just wait for somebody to have an accident, and then you get their organ and you’re better.” I suggested that was a dark way of looking at it.

His response: “We have this huge problem that we sort of don’t talk about, that people die all the time from car accidents. It’s kind of insane. But the most interesting thing is, if we can reduce accidents and deaths, then we actually have a whole other problem on our hands of, ‘Where do we get organs?’ I don’t think we’ll actually be printing organs until we solve the self-driving car issue. The next problem will be organ replacement.”

16 August, 2014

Students Give Williams College Dorm Art Loan Program an A

Students Give Williams College Dorm Art Loan Program an A:

Under an innovative program called WALLS (Williams Art Loan for Living Spaces), the Williams College Museum of Art
lets students borrow works from its collection and hang them on their
dormitory room walls for a semester. The program, now in its second
iteration, will kick off at the Williamstown, Massachusetts-based
institution in time for the new semester, on September 14, which is
“Pickup Day.” Up until the day before, all 90 of the available works can
be viewed during museum hours as well as online.

15 August, 2014

This Pope means business

This Pope means business: One of his rules is that big donors and companies that do business with the church should get no special treatment. Before he took charge in Buenos Aires, the archdiocese was a large shareholder in Argentine banks, and the banks regularly granted their ecclesiastical investor loans on easy terms. As cardinal, Francis denounced the arrangement as a blatant conflict of interest and sold all the archdiocese’s bank holdings. He also refused to attend fundraising dinners, usually regarded as one of a cardinal’s top jobs. His aversion to catering to the wealthy didn’t stop with his ascension to the papacy. It’s a Vatican tradition that the Secretariat of State, which receives donations from the rich on the pontiff’s behalf, would reward big donors by arranging special audiences and masses with the pope. Pope Francis ended the practice.

14 August, 2014

Haven't read all of this yet

Hillary Clinton: 'Failure' to Help Syrian Rebels Led to the Rise of ISIS - The Atlantic: The former secretary of state, and probable candidate for president, outlines her foreign-policy doctrine. She says this about President Obama's: "Great nations need organizing principles, and 'Don't do stupid stuff' is not an organizing principle."

13 August, 2014

How K Street beat Obama - Byron Tau - POLITICO.com

How K Street beat Obama - Byron Tau - POLITICO.com:

Barack Obama promised to take on Washington’s revolving door culture.

Washington won.


A POLITICO review shows that the Obama administration
has hired about 70 previously registered corporate, trade association
and for-hire lobbyists. And many of these former lobbyists work at the
highest levels of government.

11 August, 2014

Outrage in Ferguson after police shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown - Vox

Outrage in Ferguson after police shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown - Vox: On August 9, Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was killed by a police officer in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, MO. Eyewitnesses to the shooting report that Brown was killed while attempting to surrender, but police say that Brown assaulted the officer before the shooting.

 The incident provoked immediate anger and frustration in the community and around the country. The killing of Eric Garner, also an unarmed black man, by New York City police last month revived a public conversation about the history of police violence against black men, and the killing of Brown has inflamed it.

Miho Aikawa photographs people eating dinner in her series, “Dinner in NY.”

Miho Aikawa photographs people eating dinner in her series, “Dinner in NY.”: More than four years ago, Aikawa decided to explore the many manifestations of modern dinners by photographing people eating in New York, focusing specifically on “private dinner moments, which take place regularly and more often.” She found subjects through friends and asked them to eat as they normally would in order to better reveal “part of the person's lifestyle.” What she found was that dinner today involves a lot of multitasking and, increasingly, a lot of media consumption. “The spread of the Internet, computers and cellphones in recent years has given people many methods of communication, and dinner has lost its original essence as an occasion to socialize with others,” she said.

Lawfare › The Case for Seeking Congressional Authorization for Iraq Strikes Just Grew Stronger

Lawfare › The Case for Seeking Congressional Authorization for Iraq Strikes Just Grew Stronger: If the President plans to engage in military operations in Iraq for “months” (and almost certainly longer) in an effort to address the militant threat posed over the long term there, then the case for doing so in reliance solely on his inherent Article II self-defense power just grew weaker, legally and especially politically, and the case for seeking authorization from Congress for the military strikes just grew stronger. As I noted yesterday, the case for seeking congressional authorization in this context was made forcefully and persuasively less than a year ago by President Obama himself, when he explained why he was seeking congressional authorization prior to military strikes in Syria. (The Syrian strikes were supposedly going to be “limited in duration and scope,” unlike the longer term strikes now planned for Iraq.) The President said last year that “all of us should be accountable as we move forward, and that can only be accomplished with a vote”; and that “the country will be stronger if we take this course [i.e. congressional authorization], and our actions will be even more effective”; and that “[w]e should have this debate, because the issues are too big for business as usual”; and that “our democracy is stronger when the President and the people’s representatives stand together.” If this was true last year, why not now, with even greater force?

New Research: White Voter Support for Fewer Prisoners Depends On Who’s Locked Up - COLORLINES

New Research: White Voter Support for Fewer Prisoners Depends On Who’s Locked Up - COLORLINES: “Many legal advocates and social activists seem to assume that bombarding the public with images, statistics and other evidence of racial disparities will motivate people to join the cause and fight inequality,” Hetey said. “[But] our research shows that numbers don’t always speak for themselves,” Eberhardt said. “Reducing inequality takes more than simply presenting people with evidence of extreme inequality.”

Ebola Experts Warn of an African ‘Apocalypse’ - The Daily Beast

Ebola Experts Warn of an African ‘Apocalypse’ - The Daily Beast: The outbreak is getting worse.

It’s already an unprecedented outbreak, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden says, and the number of infected and killed by Ebola will likely soon outnumber all other Ebola outbreaks in the past 32 years combined. According to the CDC, there have already been more than 1,700 suspected and confirmed cases of Ebola in West Africa, and more than 900 deaths—numbers that Frieden later called “too foggy” to be definitive. Ken Isaacs, the vice president of Program and Government Relations for Samaritan’s Purse, painted an even bleaker picture. According to the World Health Organization, West Africa has counted 1,711 diagnoses and 932 deaths, already, which could represent only a small fraction of the true number. “We believe that these numbers represent just 25 to 50 percent of what is happening,” said Isaacs.

The irony of Barack Obama's presidency in one sentence - Vox

The irony of Barack Obama's presidency in one sentence - Vox: Obama pushed more change through the political system than any serious observer expected: he passed health-care reform, as well as the largest stimulus and investment package in American history, and the Dodd-Frank financial reforms (which are working better than most realize). He brought the Iraq war to a close and he actually did find and kill Osama bin Laden. There's much left on his to-do list, but even in places where he's failed to pass his legislative remedies into law — like immigrant reform and cap-and-trade — he's used or is using executive actions to make huge strides.

But he didn't do all this by fixing American politics. He did all this by breaking American politics even further. Obama hasn't healed the divisions between Democrats and Republicans. Rather, he's one of the most polarizing presidents since the advent of polling:

Faith In Humanity Restored! These Reddit Users Ca... | ClickHole

Faith In Humanity Restored! These Reddit Users Ca... | ClickHole: “In order for these websites to remain profitable, they constantly need new content,” Olson said. “That’s why I, and many other Redditors, try to help them out as much as we can by providing them with a reliable source of free content they can post as their own.”

“The fact is many of these websites simply don’t have content of their own to post,” Olson added. “They just don’t have that much to say. It’s heartbreaking.”

This is not a one-time occurrence either. Time and time again, the Reddit community has banded together in order to create content that can be shared far and wide on other websites that need it to make money. It’s truly something to marvel at.

President Obama's Impossible Choices in Iraq - The Atlantic

President Obama's Impossible Choices in Iraq - The Atlantic: The optimal policy in Iraq right now is beyond my knowledge. I strongly suspect that it is beyond everyone else's knowledge too, but if the choice is between trusting the neoconservatives or Obama, as depressing as that choice is to me, I have no problem determining who's been wrong on Iraq earlier, more often, and with greater consequences in the past, though they never admit it. Hawkish hubris and irrepressible faux-certainty makes Obama look good by comparison, quite a feat given his own ample missteps and shortcomings. Let's all hope that in the present crisis he succeeds spectacularly, whatever that means, remembering that none of us would know just what to do in his place.

10 August, 2014

America's Moral Obligations in Iraq - The Atlantic

America's Moral Obligations in Iraq - The Atlantic: As I have learned myself very painfully, there is an enormous amount the United States cannot do. It cannot solve Iraq’s political problems. It may not even be able to hold Iraq together. It cannot solve the horror in Syria. It cannot defeat the Taliban. It cannot stop Libya from descending into anarchy. But it can save the people in the Sinjar Mountains, both by dropping supplies to keep them alive, and by bombing ISIS so Kurdish forces can retake the areas nearby. And in so doing, it can stop genocide. Thankfully, Obama is doing just that.

09 August, 2014

The End of ‘Genius’ - NYTimes.com

The End of ‘Genius’ - NYTimes.com: The pair is the primary creative unit — not just because pairs produce such a staggering amount of work but also because they help us to grasp the concept of dialectical exchange. At its heart, the creative process itself is about a push and pull between two entities, two cultures or traditions, or two people, or even a single person and the voice inside her head. Indeed, thinking itself is a kind of download of dialogue between ourselves and others. And when we listen to creative people describe breakthrough moments that occur when they are alone, they often mention the sensation of having a conversation in their own minds.

This phenomenon is so uncanny that the writer Elizabeth Gilbert has proposed that we return to the myth of the muses to help characterize it. That doesn’t mean there literally are “fairies who follow people around rubbing fairy juice on their projects and stuff,” Ms. Gilbert has said. But the core experience described by the muse-creator interaction — that of one entity helping to inspire another — is almost always true.

In Defense of Banks and Bankers | Finsurgency

In Defense of Banks and Bankers | Finsurgency: The good news, for bankers, is that there is a way forward. There is a role, or a set of roles, for banks in all of these business that may not be exciting, high growth or particularly sexy, but can be high margin and massively defensible. Banks should a)manage regulation and compliance; b)manage security/fraud/identity and c)steward depositor capital into risk managed pools. Each of these roles demands a separate blog post, but suffice it to say that each is a critical infrastructure layer across the core segments of banking, and banks are uniquely situated, in terms of current regulation, technology assets, brand identity and culture, to own each layer. By focusing on these roles and not trying to compete with nimbler foes, banks could massively reduce overhead, value at risk and operational complexity. The banks themselves, and the bankers who work there, would go back to being perceived as pillars of the community, literally supporting the entire ecosystem of commerce. Not entirely incidentally (at least not for me), a thousand or more entrepreneurial flowers would bloom, as businesses sprung up around the banks, fulfilling the customer facing and innovation functions that so desperately need to be filled. I predict that companies like American Express (great at payments & brand), Capital One (great at marketing & credit risk) and Goldman Sachs (great at trading technology) would “de-bank”, and choose to partner with Citi, BofA, JPM and others, who would shed many non-core businesses. This restructuring of the financial sector would put the US back on the path to being the global leader in this area, as well as de-risking the global economy.

A comprehensive investigation of voter impersonation finds 31 credible incidents out of one billion ballots cast - The Washington Post

A comprehensive investigation of voter impersonation finds 31 credible incidents out of one billion ballots cast - The Washington Post: Election fraud happens. But ID laws are not aimed at the fraud you’ll actually hear about. Most current ID laws (Wisconsin is a rare exception) aren’t designed to stop fraud with absentee ballots (indeed, laws requiring ID at the polls push more people into the absentee system, where there are plenty of real dangers). Or vote buying. Or coercion. Or fake registration forms. Or voting from the wrong address. Or ballot box stuffing by officials in on the scam. In the 243-page document that Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel filed on Monday with evidence of allegedly illegal votes in the Mississippi Republican primary, there were no allegations of the kind of fraud that ID can stop.

Instead, requirements to show ID at the polls are designed for pretty much one thing: people showing up at the polls pretending to be somebody else in order to each cast one incremental fake ballot. This is a slow, clunky way to steal an election. Which is why it rarely happens.

Max Schireson's blog | Thoughts on technology and the tech business

Max Schireson's blog | Thoughts on technology and the tech business: Earlier this summer, Matt Lauer asked Mary Barra, the CEO of GM, whether she could balance the demands of being a mom and being a CEO. The Atlantic asked similar questions of PepsiCo’s female CEO Indra Nooyi. As a male CEO, I have been asked what kind of car I drive and what type of music I like, but never how I balance the demands of being both a dad and a CEO.

While the press haven’t asked me, it is a question that I often ask myself.

Here is my situation:

* I have 3 wonderful kids at home, aged 14, 12 and 9, and I love spending time with them: skiing, cooking, playing backgammon, swimming, watching movies or Warriors or Giants games, talking, whatever.
* I am on pace to fly 300,000 miles this year, all the normal CEO travel plus commuting between Palo Alto and New York every 2-3 weeks. During that travel, I have missed a lot of family fun, perhaps more importantly, I was not with my kids when our puppy was hit by a car or when my son had (minor and successful, and of course unexpected) emergency surgery.

07 August, 2014

Anatomy of a Power Grab - NYTimes.com

Anatomy of a Power Grab - NYTimes.com: No, it’s more than that. Immigrants affected by the policy wouldn’t just know that the United States isn’t going to move heaven and earth to deport them — something that’s already true in most cases, which is why Eric Posner, writing in the New Republic, feels comfortable casting the move under consideration as just the formal acknowledgment of “current practice.” (He also feels comfortable because he’s an explicit presidential caesarist, something liberals inclined to invoke his arguments might want to keep in mind.) But he’s wrong: Current practice may includes at best a modest risk of deportation for individuals here illegally, but it does entail some risk, both for the immigrants themselves and for employers who hire them, because the laws are on the books and at least partially enforced. Whereas Obama’s proposal would make that risk go away, by formally changing the status of the people affected: They would become lawful residents, with work permits and Social Security numbers. The White House would grant them, in other words, roughly the kind of provisional status that’s been a sticking point throughout the Senate and House debates on this issue. Obama wouldn’t just be sparing illegal immigrants deportations or exercising prosecutorial discretion in who gets deported; he would be legalizing them.

04 August, 2014

House panel: No administration wrongdoing in Benghazi attack - SFGate

House panel: No administration wrongdoing in Benghazi attack - SFGate: Among the Intelligence Committee's findings, according to Thompson:

 -- Intelligence agencies were "warned about an increased threat environment, but did not have specific tactical warning of an attack before it happened."

-- "A mixed group of individuals, including those associated with al Qaeda, (Moammar) Khadafy loyalists and other Libyan militias, participated in the attack."

 -- "There was no 'stand-down order' given to American personnel attempting to offer assistance that evening, no illegal activity or illegal arms transfers occurring by U.S. personnel in Benghazi, and no American was left behind."

-- The administration's process for developing "talking points" was "flawed, but the talking points reflected the conflicting intelligence assessments in the days immediately following the crisis."

03 August, 2014

SERIOUSLY? Secret’s PR head complains about people writing horrible things without accountability | PandoDaily

SERIOUSLY? Secret’s PR head complains about people writing horrible things without accountability | PandoDaily: Sarah Jane Sacchetti, the head of communications for anonymous libel app Secret (who previously held the same job at teen suicide encourager, Formspring) has responded to my post about how her boss doesn’t care if teens kill themselves because of their app.

Did she express any concern for Secret’s users?

Did she pledge that the company will take steps to protect teenagers from cyberbullying?


Rather — and I swear I’m not making this up — Sacchetti complained that she is “always taken aback when people write horrible things without talking to the people they target”.


01 August, 2014

Group of Liberal New Yorkers Wants to Legalize Weed | FiveThirtyEight

Group of Liberal New Yorkers Wants to Legalize Weed | FiveThirtyEight:

Some of it is that I get irked when elites get credit for publicly taking “bold”
positions that other folks came to much sooner. This is particularly
the case when the position is one you’d expect them to have held in
their private lives all along.

But there’s a particularly large gap between elite and popular opinion on marijuana policy. Consider that, according to The Huffington Post,
none of the 50 U.S. governors or the 100 U.S. senators had endorsed
fully legal recreational marijuana as of this April — even though some
of them are very liberal on other issues, and even though an increasing
number of them represent states where most voters support legalizing

Democrats Are Way More Obsessed With Impeachment Than Republicans | FiveThirtyEight

Democrats Are Way More Obsessed With Impeachment Than Republicans | FiveThirtyEight:

Impeachment chatter has also become common on cable news. On Fox News this month, Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor, called for Obama’s impeachment, for instance. But for every mention of impeachment on Fox News in July, there have been five on liberal-leaning MSNBC.

This data comes from a Lexis-Nexis search of transcripts on each
network. It counts each mention of the words “impeach” or “impeachment.”
The terms were used 32 times in a single episode of MSNBC’s “The Ed
Show” on Monday. (Ordinarily, I’d adjust for the overall volume of words
spoken on each network, but I know from my previous research that MSNBC and Fox News have about the same number of words recorded in Lexis-Nexis.)

Zionism and Israel’s War with Hamas in Gaza - NYTimes.com

Zionism and Israel’s War with Hamas in Gaza - NYTimes.com:

as a Zionist, I cannot accept. Jews, above all people, know what
oppression is. Children over millennia were the transmission belt of
Jewish survival, the object of what the Israeli novelist Amos Oz and his
daughter Fania Oz-Salzberger have called “the intergenerational
quizzing that ensures the passing of the torch.” No argument, no
Palestinian outrage or subterfuge, can gloss over what Jewish failure
the killing of children in such numbers represents.

Israeli case for the bombardment of Gaza could be foolproof. If
Benjamin Netanyahu had made a good-faith effort to find common cause
with Palestinian moderates for peace and been rebuffed, it would be. He
has not. Hamas is vile. I would happily see it destroyed. But Hamas is
also the product of a situation that Israel has reinforced rather than
sought to resolve.

corrosive Israeli exercise in the control of another people, breeding
the contempt of the powerful for the oppressed, is a betrayal of the
Zionism in which I still believe.