31 January, 2015

Michelle Obama joins Bradley Cooper to praise ‘American Sniper’ - The Washington Post

Michelle Obama joins Bradley Cooper to praise ‘American Sniper’ - The Washington Post: Obama, who saw the film on Air Force One as she and her husband traveled abroad this week, called it “complex,” “emotional” and a realistic “depiction of a veteran and his family” in her remarks at a gathering that included star Bradley Cooper.

“While I know there have been critics, I felt that, more often than not, this film touches on many of the emotions and experiences that I’ve heard firsthand from military families over these past few years,” she said. “This movie reflects . . . the complex journeys that our men and women in uniform endure.”

What the Web Said Yesterday - The New Yorker

What the Web Said Yesterday - The New Yorker: On July 17th, at 3:22 P.M. G.M.T., the Wayback Machine saved a screenshot of Strelkov’s VKontakte post about downing a plane. Two hours and twenty-two minutes later, Arthur Bright, the Europe editor of the Christian Science Monitor, tweeted a picture of the screenshot, along with the message “Grab of Donetsk militant Strelkov’s claim of downing what appears to have been MH17.” By then, Strelkov’s VKontakte page had already been edited: the claim about shooting down a plane was deleted. The only real evidence of the original claim lies in the Wayback Machine.

The Guardians Who Slumbereth Not | Texas Monthly

The Guardians Who Slumbereth Not | Texas Monthly: The Gablers’ views are straight-forward and comprehensive. They believe that the purpose of education is “the imparting of factual knowledge, basic skills and cultural heritage” and that education is best accomplished in schools that emphasize a traditional curriculum of reading, math, and grammar, as well as patriotism, high moral standards, dress codes, and strict discipline, with respect and courtesy demanded from all students. They feel the kind of education they value has all but disappeared, and they lay the blame at the feet of that all-purpose New Right whipping boy, secular humanism, which they believe has infiltrated the school at every level but can be recognized most easily in textbooks.

Discrimination in the Credential Society: An Audit Study of Race and College Selectivity in the Labor Market

Discrimination in the Credential Society: An Audit Study of Race and College Selectivity in the Labor Market: In this research, I examine employment opportunities for white and black graduates of elite top-ranked universities versus high-ranked but less selective institutions. Using an audit design, I create matched candidate pairs and apply for 1,008 jobs on a national job-search website. I also exploit existing birth-record data in selecting names to control for differences across social class within racialized names. The results show that although a credential from an elite university results in more employer responses for all candidates, black candidates from elite universities only do as well as white candidates from less selective universities. Moreover, race results in a double penalty: When employers respond to black candidates, it is for jobs with lower starting salaries and lower prestige than those of white peers. These racial differences suggest that a bachelor's degree, even one from an elite institution, cannot fully counteract the importance of race in the labor market. Thus, both discrimination and differences in human capital contribute to racial economic inequality.

The Blight of Bipartisanship - The New Yorker

The Blight of Bipartisanship - The New Yorker: The tension between big-tent inclusiveness and ideological purity has bedevilled our two major political parties for many years, but for Democrats it became especially vexing in the middle decades of the twentieth century. From 1932 to 1964, the Democratic Party won seven out of nine Presidential elections and enjoyed an almost continuous majority in the House and the Senate. But who, exactly, was winning and what did victory mean? The answer was clear in only two intervals. The first was the initial phase of the New Deal, when Franklin Roosevelt’s economic-rescue proposals were swiftly passed into law by Congress and embraced by a nation traumatized by the Great Depression. The second came during the three-year period after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, when Lyndon Johnson and Congress went on a legislative spree that ended with the midterm election in November, 1966.

Christian Berthelot: Cesar takes a look at the first few seconds of life for babies born caesarean (PHOTOS).

Christian Berthelot: Cesar takes a look at the first few seconds of life for babies born caesarean (PHOTOS).: Around a week later, Berthelot met Jean-Francois Morievnal, an obstetrician in the hospital where his son had been born. The two spoke about their mutual love of photography and, about six months later, Morievnal proposed the idea that Berthelot begin working on a series about midwifery in the operating room with a focus on caesarean births.

don’t be an accelerant | Fredrik deBoer

don’t be an accelerant | Fredrik deBoer: As I have gotten older, I have grown more and more convinced that the most important element of politics is stakes. Stakes. Skin in the game. And the accelerants demonstrates how a difference in stakes can render the most ardent allies into a part of the problem. For the urge to simply intensify every conflict demonstrates an indifference to political progress that can only emerge from privilege, from a lack of stakes. Why not throw gas on every fire, when you know you’re never going to get burned? Chait discusses the way in which burnout develops from these kinds of conflicts, the way people end up giving up out of exhaustion. And, indeed, I have observed in my life some of the more vituperative political voices I know grow jaded by the nastiness they themselves have helped create. But this is where stakes comes in most directly: because these people are white and educated and financially comfortable, they could withdraw from politics in a way that people of color and the working class simply can’t. A woman of color activist can cease to take part in activism, but the reality of racism and sexism will follow her wherever she goes. This is what I mean by stakes, the difference whether politics is a choice or an enforced condition. And it’s what I find most cynical about the accelerants; they have the luxury of engaging with maximum anger and ugliness, and then withdrawing when they run out of steam. For them, and for me, withdrawal is possible, and so the urge to engage in a vicious way comes without as many consequences. No such release valve really exists for the activists of color in whose name the accelerants trash others. This is what we mean when we talk about privilege.

I don’t know what to do, you guys | Fredrik deBoer

I don’t know what to do, you guys | Fredrik deBoer:

That’s always how this conversation goes down: if you say, hey, we
appear to have a real problem with how we talk to other people, we are
losing potential allies left and right, then the response is always
“stop lecturing women of color.” But these codes aren’t enforced
by women of color, in the overwhelming majority of the time. They’re
enforced by the children of privilege. I know. I live here. I am on
campus. I have been in the activist meetings and the lefty coffee
houses. My perspective goes beyond the same 200 people who write the
entire Cool Kid Progressive Media.

Amanda Taub says political correctness “doesn’t exist.” To which I can only ask, how would you know?
I don’t understand where she gets that certainty. Is Traub under the
impression that the Vox offices represents the breadth of left-wing
culture? I read dozens of tweets and hot take after hot take, insisting
that there’s no problem here, and it’s coming overwhelmingly from people
who have no idea what they’re talking about.

An Actual Letter Ayn Rand Wrote To An Actual Teen Girl

An Actual Letter Ayn Rand Wrote To An Actual Teen Girl: The Letters of Ayn Rand is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. It is a perpetual source of comfort and inspiration to me. Every morning, Ayn Rand must have thrust herself forth from her steel bed and asked herself “What is the most Ayn Rand thing that I can do today?”

On May 22, 1949, the answer was to write a letter to her young niece, who had sent her a short note asking to borrow $25 for a new dress. Here was Ayn’s reply.

30 January, 2015

Israeli Ambassador: Netanyahu Never Meant to Disrespect Obama - The Atlantic

Israeli Ambassador: Netanyahu Never Meant to Disrespect Obama - The Atlantic: Before I answer your question, let me be clear that the prime minister’s visit to Washington is intended for one purpose—to speak about Iran, that openly threatens the survival of the Jewish state. The survival of Israel is not a partisan issue. It is an issue for all Americans because those who seek Israel’s destruction also threaten America.

America and Israel have to face this threat together.

The prime minister is looking forward to the opportunity to speak to the American Congress and through them to the American people about what he believes is the greatest challenge of our time—preventing a nuclear-armed Iran.

Chris Rock Will Never Come to Williams | freedomfreys

Chris Rock Will Never Come to Williams | freedomfreys: Thought experiment: if I changed the scenario in my head, and imagined that Bill Maher was being blocked from delivering a Berkeley commencement address due to some insensitive anti-feminist comedy, would I agree with the Berkeley students?

Optimistically, no. Optimistically, I’d be able to see the value in having someone like him imparting some wisdom to us, the bright-eyed and the bushy-tailed. I’d be able to rise above the “LOL a woman doing something womanly” joke history. As a comedian myself, I’m no stranger to some bullshit women-aren’t-they-hilarious tirades, and if I’m completely honest, I’ve laughed at them too. But I’m still actively grappling with these pieces. I’m not sure if the optimistic scenario is the accurate one.

I feel very aligned with how Rock sees it. Growth happens when we encounter something uncomfortable, dig deeper into that discomfort, and experience it enough so that it is no longer uncomfortable. Comedy is a tool that can help us sink into things that we don’t fully understand yet. Comedy can be a bridge. And, more obviously, it can make figuring all this stuff out just a little more entertaining.

Not a Very P.C. Thing to Say -- NYMag

Not a Very P.C. Thing to Say -- NYMag: That the new political correctness has bludgeoned even many of its own supporters into despondent silence is a triumph, but one of limited use. Politics in a democracy is still based on getting people to agree with you, not making them afraid to disagree. The historical record of political movements that sought to expand freedom for the oppressed by eliminating it for their enemies is dismal. The historical record of American liberalism, which has extended social freedoms to blacks, Jews, gays, and women, is glorious. And that glory rests in its confidence in the ultimate power of reason, not coercion, to triumph.

Addicting Info – Trans Man Rejected By His Catholic Church, So Pope Francis Invites Him To The Vatican For A Hug (VIDEO)

Addicting Info – Trans Man Rejected By His Catholic Church, So Pope Francis Invites Him To The Vatican For A Hug (VIDEO): First, the Pope responded first with a personal phone call (as he has been reported to do in the past). While Neria was still getting over being on the phone with the Pope, the Pontiff invited him and his fiance to join him in a private meeting at the Vatican.

At the meeting, Neria states that Pope Francis embraced him and told him that in no uncertain terms, there was “a place in the house of God for him.” Neria says this feeling of acceptance has had a profound impact on him, and he now feels he has a place in the church he loves.

As an atheist, LGBT feminist, I maintain a cool head on the “Cool Pope Francis” hype. He is still the leader of a breathtakingly conservative church, he still opposes same-sex marriage, and has questionable ethics over the role of women in public life – he is not without room for growth. That said, as a human being, I have enormous admiration for someone who takes the time to make such a profound difference in the life of another. This wasn’t a sweeping gesture, it was a miracle in one person’s life.

The Genius of Moondog, New York’s Homeless Composer

The Genius of Moondog, New York’s Homeless Composer: On September 8, 1999, at the age of 83, Louis ‘Moondog’ Hardin passed away in Munster, Germany, presumably from heart failure.

In his time, Moondog had influenced hundreds of artists, including some of the greatest musicians of the 20th century -- Philip Glass, Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus, and Janis Joplin among them. Today everyone from rock band Mars Volta to trip-hop group Portishead cites him as a source of inspiration.

He’d willed himself through the harsh streets of New York, found ways to dazzle onlookers, and signed record deals as a homeless man -- all the while pridefully defending his eccentricities. And after all of this, he’d redefined himself abroad -- had come to life more brilliantly than ever before, in unfamiliar territory.

29 January, 2015

Are we electoral fundamentalists? � 3:AM Magazine

Are we electoral fundamentalists? � 3:AM Magazine: Van Reybrouck concludes with a warning: we are experiencing the calm before the storm. “It’s the calm of 1850… it’s the calm that precedes a long period of great instability. At the time, the big question was the right to vote; today, it’s the right of expression.” Of course, his proposal for a bi-representative system is not an immediate miracle cure for Democratic Fatigue Syndrome; it is a prescription for the long term. In the UK today, politics is in flux. But after the Scottish referendum, ordinary people across the country are invigorated by the idea of constitutional reform: there is a desire for change. As Van Reybrouck writes: “We need to democratise democracy… what are we waiting for?” A hopeful ending that change is just around the corner. However, the dilemma of how to get elected elites to relinquish their grip on the seats of power remains unresolved. Perhaps the starting point is to question ourselves: are we, in fact, electoral fundamentalists?

My Life In The Blogosphere

My Life In The Blogosphere: Here at BuzzFeed and at BuzzFeed News, we also try not to weep for the old blogosphere, and most (though by no means all) of our top editors have roots in it. Mat Honan and Summer Anne Burton were blogging in the 1990s. Doree Shafrir was at Gawker when I wrote the Daily News’s first politics blog; Shani Hilton got her break on Tapped and on PostBourgie, which was also home to Joel Anderson and Tracy Clayton; Lisa Tozzi worked on some of the New York Times’s first strides into blogging; Chris Geidner got his start as a law blogger; Adam Serwer and Katherine Miller and Ginny Hughes and Jace Lacob and Hayes Brown and Tom Gara are all old-time bloggers. Jack Shepherd and Peggy Wang were early to reimagining blogging on this strange new BuzzFeed in the late aughts.

28 January, 2015

Comcast Changes Customer’s First Name To “A**hole,” Is Really Sorry – Consumerist

Comcast Changes Customer’s First Name To “A**hole,” Is Really Sorry – Consumerist: We know from years of talking to people on the frontlines of customer service and billing that they don’t always have the nicest things to say about customers; you probably wouldn’t either if your day consisted of being yelled at for issues beyond your control. But most people don’t let their distaste for customers boil over to the point where they actually rename a customer “A**hole Brown.”

Why The Rules Of The Road Aren’t Enough To Prevent People From Dying | FiveThirtyEight

Why The Rules Of The Road Aren’t Enough To Prevent People From Dying | FiveThirtyEight: “The engineer will usually calculate the load a beam must bear and then design it to hold some percentage of higher load, for safety. When building roads, the 85th percentile calculates the speed the engineers hope or intend people will travel, but then it’s used to design a road to meet that speed at a minimum, with a factor of safety allowing for faster travel,” he told me.

In other words, by adding additional “safety” to the road, it is designed to make people comfortable going faster than the engineers’ intended speed. This is known as the interpreted design speed (the speed people actually feel safe traveling), which is often significantly higher than the intended design speed. Think of a subdivision with wide, flat roads. The speed limit may be 25 mph, but you feel utterly comfortable doing 40.

Energy: Seize the day | The Economist

Energy: Seize the day | The Economist: The most straightforward piece of reform, pretty much everywhere, is simply to remove all the subsidies for producing or consuming fossil fuels. Last year governments around the world threw $550 billion down that rathole—on everything from holding down the price of petrol in poor countries to encouraging companies to search for oil. By one count, such handouts led to extra consumption that was responsible for 36% of global carbon emissions in 1980-2010.

Falling prices provide an opportunity to rethink this nonsense. Cash-strapped developing countries such as India and Indonesia have bravely begun to cut fuel subsidies, freeing up money to spend on hospitals and schools (see article). But the big oil exporters in the poor world, which tend to be the most egregious subsidisers of domestic fuel prices, have not followed their lead. Venezuela is close to default, yet petrol still costs a few cents a litre in Caracas. And rich countries still underwrite the production of oil and gas. Why should American taxpayers pay for Exxon to find hydrocarbons? All these subsidies should be binned.

Study: Islamic fundamentalism is not a marginal phenomenon in Europe

Study: Islamic fundamentalism is not a marginal phenomenon in Europe: The results show that if first and second generations are considered and if each definition is taken independently, almost 60% would return to the roots of Islam, 75% think there is only one interpretation of the Koran possible to which every Muslim should stick, and 65% say that religious rules are more important to them than the rules of the country in which they live. "However in second generation Muslims the levels are slightly lower (between 50% and 70%)," states the expert.

According to the study, Islamic fundamentalism, also known as Islam, prevails in Europe if compared to Christian fundamentalism, in which only 4% of Christians shared the ideas of the three statements of the definition. Among Protestants, fundamentalism reached 12%. "All fundamentalists are strictly religious but this does not mean that all strictly religious individuals are fundamentalists. Strict religiosity is more frequently associated to Islamic fundamentalists than to Christians," claims the author.

Boko Haram is not al-Qaeda - The Washington Post

Boko Haram is not al-Qaeda - The Washington Post: It’s critical to note that Boko Haram began as a largely non-violent (though anti-system) Muslim reform movement, targeting local imams and politicians that were unsympathetic to their strict interpretation of sharia law. The movement only became radicalized following the Nigerian government’s 2009 offensive, in which an estimated 700 people, including Boko Haram’s founder Mohammed Yusuf, were killed by members of the Nigerian security sector, while members of the Joint Task Force engaged in egregious human rights abuses and violations of the rule of law. While Abubaker Shekau may include in his sermons international jihadistrhetoric, much of Boko Haram’s ideology and mobilization centers on the specific abuses of the government.

Iowa is removing deadly dams, making whitewater parks

Iowa is removing deadly dams, making whitewater parks: Water quality has become a huge issue in Iowa. Studies show that a dam creates an impounded area behind it that increases the retention time of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediments, lowering the water quality of the impounded area. When a dam is removed, it may simply transport the problem downstream, but in some rivers, water quality has improved overall.

Dam removal leaves a wilder river and leads to improvements in habitat and number of species, Hoogeveen said.

And, in the bargain, save lives.

Broken Hollywood: The Biz’s Top Players Call Out Ways Industry Needs to Change | Variety

Broken Hollywood: The Biz’s Top Players Call Out Ways Industry Needs to Change | Variety: Kevin Tsujihara, Warner Bros. Entertainment chairman and CEO: I don’t think our business models are keeping pace with the changes taking place in consumer behavior.

Andrew Sullivan is going to stop blogging. No, blogging isn’t dead. - The Washington Post

Andrew Sullivan is going to stop blogging. No, blogging isn’t dead. - The Washington Post: The idea inherent in all of the death knells for blogging is that blogging is any one thing. It's not. As I explain to anyone who will listen to me — an ever-shrinking populace — a "blog" is simply a publishing medium. It's a way to put content on the Internet — usually a fast and, relatively, user-friendly way. But, the conflating a publishing medium with a sort of online writing — opinionated, snarky — that tends to be the preferred approach of many of its users is a mistake.

Back to Smith for a minute. Before he became an Internet kingpin, he and I were colleagues; he blogged about politics at Politico, I did it here. (Depressing!) What Ben did — lots of short hits, breaking news, excerpting from other articles — was totally different than the longer-form analysis I was largely practicing at the time. We both succeeded as "bloggers," but with totally different approaches. (I've come to realize, over time, that Ben's approach to covering political news online was closer to right than mine.)

Boom: Inside a British Bank-Bombing Spree - Bloomberg Business

Boom: Inside a British Bank-Bombing Spree - Bloomberg Business: As far as anyone knows, there has never been a gas attack on an American ATM. The leading theory points to the country’s primitive ATM cards. Along with Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, and not many other countries, the U.S. doesn’t require its plastic to contain an encryption chip, so stealing cards remains an effective, nonviolent way to get at the cash in an ATM. Encryption chip requirements are coming to the U.S. later this year, though. And given the gas raid’s many advantages, it may be only a matter of time until the back of an American ATM comes rocketing off.

How ‘Selma’ Got Smeared �

How ‘Selma’ Got Smeared �: Selma is, among many other things, a movie about tactics, and about how disagreements between men who see themselves as ideological comrades with strategic differences play out in the struggle for social justice. Those tensions are enacted on different fronts and in several pairings — not just in the scenes between King and Johnson, but in those between King’s men and the on-site leaders of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (including future U.S. Representative John Lewis); between Johnson and Governor George Wallace (a smug racist who nevertheless views himself as the reasonable middle between Johnson’s softheartedness and the outright thuggery of Dallas County, Alabama Sheriff Jim Clark); and, by implication, between King and the less pastorally inclined, more outspoken Malcolm X. One of the most brilliant and honest connections that DuVernay draws between King and Johnson is that, like so many leaders, each man sees himself as a righteous warrior caught in the middle. But King’s “middle” is between what he views as the politically motivated incrementalism of Johnson and the angry urgency of Malcolm, whereas Johnson sees his “middle” as between the angry urgency of King and the troglodyte resistance of a cadre of unreconstructed white Southern politicians — a world from which he himself had emerged. In outlining these dialectics in Selma, a movie in which street action alternates with negotiating-table hardball, DuVernay doesn’t create false equivalencies, but she does offer a perspective that many establishment historians and journalists cannot — an outsider’s view of how men in power think about themselves.

27 January, 2015

The voting rights martyr who divided America - CNN.com

The voting rights martyr who divided America - CNN.com: But people had far less sympathy for Liuzzo when she was murdered. Hate mail flooded her family's Detroit home, accusing her of being a deranged communist. Crosses were burned in front of the home. Her husband, Anthony Liuzzo Sr., had to hire armed guards to protect his family.

A Ladies' Home Journal magazine survey taken right after Liuzzo's death asked its readers what kind of woman would leave her family for a civil rights demonstration. The magazine suggested that she had brought death on herself by leaving home -- and 55% of its readers agreed.

26 January, 2015

The boy who didn't come back from heaven: inside a bestseller's 'deception' | Books | The Guardian

The boy who didn't come back from heaven: inside a bestseller's 'deception' | Books | The Guardian:

“You’re right, this whole story is fabricated,” Johnson recalled Beth
Malarkey telling him. “[But] because the book was a bestseller, no one
in the evangelical publishing industry wanted to kill it.”

Johnson would spend the next two years trying to help Beth get out
that message – that Alex’s story wasn’t real, that a child who had
almost died in a car accident in 2004 had been pushed to expand upon a
fairytale he’d told when he was six.

Following the accident, Alex spent two months in a coma and woke up
paralysed. But his description of what happened in between offered a
compelling tale of life after death, including visions of angels and
meeting Jesus. The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven, published in 2010 with
Alex and his father Kevin listed as co-authors, eventually became a
bestseller – one billed as a description of “miracles, angels, and life
beyond this world”.

But last week, following persistent rumours, Alex, now 16, revealed
that the detail in the book was false. “I said I went to heaven because I
thought it would get me attention,” he wrote on his own blog.

The Story of Diana: The Making of a Terrorist

The Story of Diana: The Making of a Terrorist:

The attempts at self-transformation turned collectives into a violent
groups with an almost savage emotional atmosphere. The group criticism
sessions inevitably led to hurt feelings and smoldering grudges. The
attempt to overcome traditional niceties led to exaggeratedly crude
behavior. People became stiff, unnatural, afraid they would be attacked,
and perhaps even purged, if they were found lacking in commitment to
the revolution. Many Weatherman became nervous, high-strung and
emotionally unstable. 

The military aspects of the training—karate, target shooting, practice
in street fighting and, later, the making of bombs—suffered in the
chaotic atmosphere of the collectives where everyone was always
overtired and underfed.

Diana’s commitment was to the revolution. Her loyalty to her friends and
her determination to repress all “bourgeois hang-ups” led her to
participate fully in everything, but friends say she was deeply upset by
much that was happening. A gentle woman who preferred staying with one
man at a time, Diana questioned both the sexual excesses and the
emphasis on violence and was brutally criticized as a
result. Nevertheless, she was often the one who pressed for a rest
during the long, highly chafed meetings and she tried, largely without
success, to prevent the collectives from becoming excessively cold and

Making Sense of Ferguson | STLCurator

Making Sense of Ferguson | STLCurator

“Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Sheriffs Want Popular Police-Tracking App Disabled | NBC4 Washington: Sheriffs are campaigning to pressure Google Inc. to turn off a feature on its Waze traffic software that warns drivers when police are nearby. They say one of the technology industry's most popular mobile apps could put officers' lives in danger from would-be police killers who can find where their targets are parked.

A final cry for attention

A stranger e-mailed saying he planned to kill himself. What was I supposed to do? - The Washington Post: On Dec. 10, 2013, an American expat in Japan
e-mailed a handful of writers, many of them Washington Post reporters, a suicide note.

Panel clears CIA officials accused of spying on Senate committee probing torture - Yahoo News

Panel clears CIA officials accused of spying on Senate committee probing torture - Yahoo News: After investigating the incident, the CIA inspector general, David Buckley, referred the matter to the Justice Department for potential violations by agency officials of two federal laws: the Wiretap Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. (The Justice Department has since declined to prosecute.)

Buckley, who announced his resignation last month, also recommended that the accountability board be appointed to review possible discipline of the employees, concluding that some of them had displayed a “lack of candor” to his investigators in the course of his review.

But the accountability board headed by Bayh and Bauer rejected nearly every finding by the inspector general.

It concluded that there was “no basis” for the Justice Department referral, noting that one of the officials who oversaw the matter “reasonably believed” he was acting under the authority of Brennan himself and that the director had cautioned against intruding on the Senate’s internal work product.

Best Professional Advice I Ever Got | Eric Niebler

Best Professional Advice I Ever Got | Eric Niebler: Eric, every now and then I’m going to come into your office and ask you, “What are you working on that I don’t know about?” You should always have something to tell me.

What ‘American Sniper’ Gets Right - The Daily Beast

What ‘American Sniper’ Gets Right - The Daily Beast:

People on the left go back and forth with those on the right about
the movie’s merits. Is it pro-war? Is it anti-war? And while a platoon
of professional essayists, film aficionados and all around ‘I’m
smarter-than-you’ folks attack one another’s opinions, there seem to be a
couple items that have been forgotten along the side of the long road
we’ve traveled for 15 years—15 years!—in Iraq and Afghanistan.

most obvious is the lack of attention paid to the fact that only about
one percent of our population has borne the weight of war. Then there
are the families left behind while those fighting are deployed multiple
times to both theaters—Iraq and Afghanistan—breaking the military and
too often breaking those who sit state-side, worrying, waiting, while
99% of everyone around them dances through the day without any real
prospect of danger or death knocking on their door.

There are angry hyper partisans of all ages

I lost my dad to Fox News: How a generation was captured by thrashing hysteria - Salon.com:

I do not blame or condemn my father for his opinions. If you
consumed a daily diet of right-wing fury, erroneously labeled “news,” you
could very likely end up in the same place. Again, this is all by
design. Let’s call it the Fox News effect. Take sweet, kindly senior
citizens and feed them a steady stream of demagoguery and repetition,
all wrapped in the laughable slogan of “fair and balanced.” Even
watching the commercials on Fox, one is treated to sales pitches for
gold and emergency food rations, the product cornerstones of the
paranoid. To some people the idea of retirees yelling at the television
all day may seem funny, but this isn’t a joke. We’re losing the nation’s
grandparents, and it’s an American tragedy.

People talk about the
imminent “death” of Fox News itself, because of an ever-aging

Again, Frank Rich makes this case, but I think his argument
is dubious. Certainly the audience is graying to oblivion, but it’s a
cold comfort to those of us who watch our parents or grandparents drown
in an incessant downpour of outrage. We will only see the “End of Fox
News” when my father and his contemporaries die. I do not want to watch
my father and his entire generation spend their remaining years enraged
at utter nonsense.

25 January, 2015

The American Dream shatters in Prince George’s County | The Washington Post

The American Dream shatters in Prince George’s County | The Washington Post: Still, Jennifer and Fred managed to graduate college, although their mothers could lend only moral support. Today, she works as a supervisor in the federal workforce. He is a manager for a sports memorabilia firm.

The problem is not their income but their home. Once a source of wealth, it is now their biggest financial burden.

The Bryants owe just over $560,000 on their house, which they estimate is worth about $80,000 less than that. Since they moved in 2001, their monthly payment has more than doubled to nearly $3,900 a month — a predicament that arose because of an ill-advised refinancing into a loan whose terms the federal government now deems predatory.

The East Coast May Be About To Get One Of The Worst Blizzards It’s Ever Seen | FiveThirtyEight

The East Coast May Be About To Get One Of The Worst Blizzards It’s Ever Seen | FiveThirtyEight: A historic blizzard is on track to hit southern New England and the northern mid-Atlantic — including Boston, New York City and possibly Philadelphia — early this week. A storm system will develop off the East Coast during the day Monday and throw back moisture into cold air Monday evening and into Tuesday. Snow may fall at a rate of 2 inches to 4 inches per hour in some spots.

But just how historic will the storm be?

It could easily make the all-time top 10 in terms of snowfall in all three cities, and it may claim the No. 1 spot in Boston and New York.

Why My Son Isn't Vaccinated (It's Not What You Think)�|�Jamie Davis Smith

Why My Son Isn't Vaccinated (It's Not What You Think)�|�Jamie Davis Smith: There are many children, no doubt some in your very own community, who will not be able to be vaccinated because of health issues ranging from allergies, to immune system disorders, to cancer treatments, which can completely wipe out their immune systems. Certainly, there are babies. These children are among the most vulnerable in our society -- and also the least likely to weather a bout with a serious disease.

Those who are old enough to be vaccinated and otherwise healthy enough to receive vaccines -- but do not -- put my infant son at risk.

They put children so sick they cannot receive vaccines at risk for suffering from preventable diseases and in extreme instances, a completely preventable death.

Holy Shit, I Interviewed the President — Medium

Holy Shit, I Interviewed the President — Medium:

Glozell, Bethany and I don’t
sit in fancy news studios surrounded by fifty thousand dollar cameras
and polished metal and glass backdrops with inlayed 90-inch LCD screens.
People trust us because we’ve spent years developing a relationship
with them. We have been scrutinized and found not evil. Our legitimacy
comes from honesty, not from cultural signals or institutions.

with young people having no reasons to trust those cultural signals
that we older folks were raised with, this is the only thing that works
for them anymore. Our values and interests mesh with theirs enough that
they’ve come to trust us. They trust us to make content that they will
enjoy and they trust us to be the kind of people they can look up to.
People who betray that trust risk losing everything that they have

To the journalists
who have criticized me for getting Obama to sign something for me, or
Glozell for saying the word “dick,” or Bethany for saying that she isn’t
very involved in politics, there’s something you need to understand:
Our legitimacy springs exclusively from honesty. I have to be who I am. I
have to act the way I feel like acting, or I am lying to my audience.

24 January, 2015

Zivotofsky v. Kerry: The Supreme Court case over Israel and US foreign policy, explained - Vox

Zivotofsky v. Kerry: The Supreme Court case over Israel and US foreign policy, explained - Vox: The primary reason that the court will likely side against Zivotofsky is that the Constitution is widely understood as giving the executive branch the bulk of foreign policy powers. That derives from something called the "sole organ" doctrine, named for a speech that founding father John Marshall gave in 1800, a year before he became the chief justice of the Supreme Court. Marshall said, "The President is the sole organ of the nation in its external relations, and its sole representative with foreign nations." A 1936 Supreme Court decision, United States v. Curtiss-Wright, ruled that the "sole organ" doctrine grants the president inherent constitutional powers in foreign relations.

Those inherent presidential powers are considered to include authority to recognize countries and borders, which is central to the Jerusalem issue. The idea is that the US government needs to be a single unified entity on the world stage in order to conduct effective foreign policy. Letting the president and Congress independently set their own foreign policies would lead to chaos.

This Is What War In Ukraine Looks Like - BuzzFeed News

This Is What War In Ukraine Looks Like - BuzzFeed News: Pro-Russian rebels unleashed a barrage of rocket fire against the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol Saturday. The rockets killed at least 30 civilians.

American Sniper’s “wolves, sheep, and sheepdogs” speech has a surprising history with conservatives and the right wing.

American Sniper’s “wolves, sheep, and sheepdogs” speech has a surprising history with conservatives and the right wing.:

After leaving his service as a Navy SEAL and publishing his
memoir, Chris Kyle started mentoring other veterans with PTSD. As the
movie mentions in its conclusion, Chris Kyle was killed by another
veteran, a Marine. Are Marines not sheepdogs? Or did Kyle’s killer turn
into a wolf? Most importantly, as the analogy goes, why couldn’t Kyle
tell the difference?

Because the analogy is simplistic, and in its simplicity,
dangerous. It divides the world into black and white, into a
good-versus-evil struggle that the real world doesn’t match. We aren’t
divided into sheep, sheepdogs, and wolves. We are all humans.

Ask Michael Brown. Ask Eric Garner.

Ask Chris Kyle.

On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs - Dave Grossman

On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs - Dave Grossman: We know that the sheep live in denial, that is what makes them sheep.
They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world. They can
accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire
extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout
their kids' schools.

But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police
officer in their kid's school. Our children are thousands of times more
likely to be killed or seriously injured by school violence than fire,
but the sheep's only response to the possibility of violence is denial.
The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their child is just too hard,
and so they chose the path of denial.

The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the
wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference,
though, is that the sheepdog must not, can not and will not ever harm
the sheep. Any sheep dog who intentionally harms the lowliest little
lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way,
at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours.

Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that
there are wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn't tell them
where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our
airports in camouflage fatigues holding an M-16. The sheep would much
rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white,
and go, "Baa."

Until the wolf shows up. Then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog.

Every movie rewrites history. What American Sniper did is much, much worse. - Vox

Every movie rewrites history. What American Sniper did is much, much worse. - Vox:

American Sniper has a problem. It's a movie about a black-and-white distinction between good and evil, but it is set almost entirely in the Iraq War, which can only be honestly portrayed in shades of gray.

Faced with a choice between altering its narrative
to account for that gray versus altering the facts of history, the film
chose the latter. It adopted an "honesty shmonesty" approach to the
war: in its retelling, Iraq was a fight of Good Americans against Bad
Terrorists, led by Chris Kyle, the Good-est American of them all.

The result is a sort of Hezbollah martyr video for the Fox News set; recruitment propaganda for culture-war extremists. In
the world of this movie, the Iraq war is an extension of the war on
terror; heroes with guns are our only hope of salvation; and anyone who
doubts that is part of the problem. And if the film's historic box office success and many award nominations are anything to go by, that propaganda is frighteningly effective.

23 January, 2015

The AI Revolution: Road to Superintelligence - Wait But Why

The AI Revolution: Road to Superintelligence - Wait But Why: It takes decades for the first AI system to reach low-level general intelligence, but it finally happens. A computer is able understand the world around it as well as a human four-year-old. Suddenly, within an hour of hitting that milestone, the system pumps out the grand theory of physics that unifies general relativity and quantum mechanics, something no human has been able to definitively do. 90 minutes after that, the AI has become an ASI, 170,000 times more intelligent than a human.

Superintelligence of that magnitude is not something we can remotely grasp, any more than a bumblebee can wrap its head around Keynesian Economics. In our world, smart means a 130 IQ and stupid means an 85 IQ—we don’t have a word for an IQ of 12,952.

What we do know is that the history of humans on the Earth suggests a clear rule: with intelligence comes power. Which means an ASI, when we create it, will be the most powerful being in the history of life on Earth, and all living things, including humans, will be entirely at its whim—and this might happen in the next few decades.

Video: Sky News cuts off Charlie Hebdo writer when she tries to display Mohammed cartoon � Hot Air

Video: Sky News cuts off Charlie Hebdo writer when she tries to display Mohammed cartoon � Hot Air: Why humiliate a grieving person this way? She has the balls to stand by her work in the name of free speech, at great personal risk to herself, and this is how she’s treated? Literally pissing on Stephane Charbonnier’s grave would be less hurtful, I think, than taking up his killers’ cause this way.

'American Sniper': The Strategy Behind Warner Bros.' $107M Opening - The Hollywood Reporter

'American Sniper': The Strategy Behind Warner Bros.' $107M Opening - The Hollywood Reporter: All the while, Warners aggressively courted members of the military and veterans groups, hiring Glover Park Group, a leading Washington-based consulting firm. Most modern war films, from Green Zone to Zero Dark Thirty, have ignited potentially damaging debate about U.S. policies before their openings, but not Sniper (only with its phenomenal launch has such debate begun). "This is the first contemporary mainstream war film that really tells a personal story about soldiers. It is very unusual," says Sue Kroll, president of worldwide marketing and international distribution at Warners. Oscar winner The Hurt Locker likewise focused on the personal, but the indie film, released in June 2009, never was seen by the masses and topped out at $17 million domestic.

NFL Deflategate: Controversy shouldn’t overshadow the Super Bowl | The MMQB with Peter King

NFL Deflategate: Controversy shouldn’t overshadow the Super Bowl | The MMQB with Peter King:

But don’t try turning this story about two pounds per square inch of
missing air into the Hornung-Karras gambling investigation, because it
ain’t that. This doesn’t rise to the level of threatening the integrity
of the game in any lasting way. Sorry, but I’m not buying into that
popular level of hyperventilation.

Some perspective, please?

When the Patriots’ football deflation scandal leads all three
broadcast networks’ news broadcasts, as it did on Thursday night, we
might officially be through the looking glass. If that’s the most
important story in the world, then it says more about our judgment and
our focus than it does the significance of the topic. And it also
proves, to no surprise, that controversy drives both the league and the
news cycle like never before. (And how lucky are we that deflate rhymes with gate, as if we ever needed the impetus of a rhyme to attach -gate to any tempest? Who can forget the Super Bowl’s Nipplegate?)

Yemen in Crisis | European Council on Foreign Relations

Yemen in Crisis | European Council on Foreign Relations:

It’s hard to divine which way things in Yemen are heading – an
uncertain situation has grown even more difficult to read. It appears
that the Houthis—who have enthusiastically taken aim at the president
and the cabinet over the past week’s crisis—are largely shocked that the
president has called their bluff. In the formerly independent South,
longstanding calls for secession have grown even louder. Across the
country, frustration seems mounting – both at the country’s power
brokers and at the international actors that, until recently, had hailed
the country’s political process as a model transition to democracy.

The next few days will unquestionably be crucial.  At writing time,
Houthi fighters reportedly have the homes of many members of the
now-resigned cabinet under siege. All eyes are set on Sunday’s meeting
of the two houses of the Yemeni parliament, which could very well reject
the president’s resignation, sending the country into further
uncertainty. Indeed, little remains clear at the moment, except for the
fact that the country is likely facing its most crucial juncture since
the overthrow of the Mutawakkilite Monarchy on 26 September, 1962.

Iran Sanctions Supporters Don't Want To Improve Nuclear Talks. They Want To Destroy Them.

Iran Sanctions Supporters Don't Want To Improve Nuclear Talks. They Want To Destroy Them.: The Republican freshman congressman-turned-freshman senator from Arkansas opened up while speaking to a conference at the Heritage Foundation on Jan. 15. In previously overlooked remarks, he had this to say about congressional proposals to threaten Iran with new sanctions: "Certain voices call for congressional restraint urging Congress not to act now, lest Iran walk away from the negotiating table, undermining the fabled yet always absent moderates in Iran. But the end of these negotiations isn't an unintended consequence of congressional action. It is very much an intended consequence -- a feature, not a bug."

Cotton is a member of the Senate committees on intelligence and the armed services.

Islamophobia Is Not a Myth - The Atlantic

Islamophobia Is Not a Myth - The Atlantic: Says O'Neill, "According to federal crime stats, in 2009 there were 107 anti-Muslim hate crimes; in 2010, there were 160. In a country of 330 million people, this is exceptionally low." But in 2000, there were 28 such incidents. What's wrong with inveighing against anti-Muslim bigotry that's responsible for 100 or so "extra" hate-crimes, or noting that the numbers were much worse immediately after 9/11... and worrying a spike could happen again? Calling for tolerance of a minority group at a moment of plausible peril is costless, prudent and humane, not objectionable. And if relative tolerance then prevails, that's a success, not an occasion to complain that elites weren't trusting enough in the masses.

The Myth of Islamophobia | The American Conservative

The Myth of Islamophobia | The American Conservative: Are there people who hate Muslims simply for being Muslim? Sure. Are there people who respond to Islamic terrorism through acts of bigotry, even violence, against mosques and Islamic institutions? Yes. And shame on them all. Hunt them down, arrest them, throw them in jail.

But there are no anti-Muslim mobs massing in the streets. The mob that massed in the streets of Paris and other European cities on Sunday to protest jihad did not disperse and burn down mosques on their way home (unlike mobs in Muslim countries that torched embassies to protest Muhammad cartoons a few years back). We are not them. We once were, and are capable of becoming them again, as the history of the West shows, but we are not them now.

The more interesting question is what the intense, genuine, but unjustified fear of the phantom Islamophobic mob says about the mindset of media elites and others who hold it.

22 January, 2015

Media coverage of Charlie Hebdo and the Baga massacre: a study in contrasts

Media coverage of Charlie Hebdo and the Baga massacre: a study in contrasts:

There are many reasons why the attacks on targets in Paris have received vastly more media attention than the attacks in Baga.

Paris is a highly connected global city with thousands of working
journalists, while Baga is isolated, difficult and dangerous to reach.
The attacks on Charlie Hebdo targeted journalists, and it’s
understandable that journalists would cover the death of their comrades.
The attacks in Paris were a shock and a surprise, while deaths at the
hands of Boko Haram have become distressingly common in an insurgency
that has claimed over 10,000 lives since 2009.

The details of the Baga attacks, where civilians fled a marauding army into the swamps of Lake Chad, where they faced attacks from hippos, are almost impossible for audiences in developed nations to empathize with.

By contrast it’s tragically easy for most North Americans and Europeans to imagine terrorists striking in their cities.

The net effect: the attacks in Baga and Maiduguri seem impossibly
distant, while the attacks in Paris seem local, relevant and pressing
even to people equidistant from the two situations.

In part, it’s hard to imagine events in Nigeria because we encounter so little African news in general.

Everything Is Broken — The Message — Medium

Everything Is Broken — The Message — Medium: Besides being riddled with annoying bugs and impossible dialogs, programs often have a special kind of hackable flaw called 0days by the security scene. No one can protect themselves from 0days. It’s their defining feature — 0 is the number of days you’ve had to deal with this form of attack. There are meh, not-so-terrible 0days, there are very bad 0days, and there are catastrophic 0days that hand the keys to the house to whomever strolls by. I promise that right now you are reading this on a device with all three types of 0days. “But, Quinn,” I can hear you say, “If no one knows about them how do you know I have them?” Because even okay software has to work with terrible software. The number of people whose job it is to make software secure can practically fit in a large bar, and I’ve watched them drink. It’s not comforting.

France Cracks Down On Free Speech � The Dish

France Cracks Down On Free Speech � The Dish: And particularly religion, which should be open to the most merciless attacks and denunciations and mockery precisely because of the grandeur of its claims and the power of its social authority. A true believer is relieved to see the all-too human institutions of church or mosque or synagogue ridiculed, precisely because those institutions are prone to corruption on a vast scale. And faith should easily survive mockery. Jesus himself encouraged his followers not to be dismayed when they are maligned or disparaged because of their faith. It is not something Christians should avenge; it is something that at times Christians should even seek. But even a spiritual figure like Jesus was ignored for millennia once Christianity got worldly power.

University of Virginia Reinstates Phi Kappa Psi After Rolling Stone Rape Story Crumbles - The Atlantic

University of Virginia Reinstates Phi Kappa Psi After Rolling Stone Rape Story Crumbles - The Atlantic: Prior to these allegations, the collegians were living in their frat house. After the publication of the Rolling Stone story, the young men began to receive hate emails, voicemails, and threats of violence. Angry protestors massed outside their house and shouted as if at gang-rapists. That alone must've seemed surreal and difficult to face, especially for a group of 18-to-22-year-olds. Then in the wee hours of one morning, vandals broke several frat house windows with chunks of cinder block and bottles and tagged the outside of the house. "This situation is just beginning," the perpetrators soon threatened in an anonymous letter. "We will escalate and we will provoke until justice is achieved for the countless victims of rampant sexual violence at this University and around the nation." Needless to say, the vandals achieved no justice for rape victims by victimizing these young men.

Donna's last days | www.myajc.com

Donna's last days | www.myajc.com:

Black women with breast cancer in the United States
are, on average, 40 percent more likely to die from the disease than
white women, according to a recent study by the Sinai Urban Health
Institute. In some cities, the gap is even greater. On the surface it
may appear the gap is about race, but income is the culprit.

“What we offer is first-class and coach fare, and
coach doesn’t get you to the same place that first-class does,” says Dr.
Otis Brawley, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society and
an expert on racial and economic gaps in cancer treatment.

The chance of getting cancer is increased by as much
as 80 percent for people with three or more social risk factors, such
as being a minority, being poor and being single, according to another

“Poverty is a carcinogen,” says Harold Freeman,
founding director of the National Cancer Institute Center to Reduce
Health Disparities. [...]

I prepared to look up, knowing the coffin containing Donna — the patient from Winship, the mother of six, the person who became my friend — would be right in front of me. But when I raised my head, I saw there was no coffin.

Instead, there was a brown cardboard box sealed with duct tape.

I felt like throwing up and prayed Ashley would keep her eyes sealed tight.

A chaplain said a prayer and the workers rolled the box away to the yawning red earth a few feet away. Ashley was holding the roses.

“Can I put these with her?” she asked.

“No,” one of the men said. He pointed to a stretch of caution tape, indicating she couldn’t cross it.
Within minutes, the brown box containing Donna’s remains was lying in the rusty Georgia dirt.
I ran across the tape toward the grave. One of the guys stopped me.
“Can you at least put these roses with her?”
He tossed them on top of the box.

We were so stunned and shocked we could not move. Finally someone wearing a baseball cap told us our turn was up and that we needed to move on.

The First High Profile Ebola Case

“I Don’t Know if I’m Already Infected.” The Controversial Death of Ebola’s Unsung Hero — Matter — Medium: Doctors Without Borders also denied that it played any role in the “management” of the plan to evacuate Khan, or the final decision to abort the flight. This contradicted what C. Ray Khan had been told by the minister of health. “Things aren’t adding up,” he said in a phone conversation from Mahera. “Somebody isn’t telling us the truth.” Khan’s brother Alhajie remains angry that an African was denied treatment with the experimental drug while two white Americans became the first to be given ZMapp, and distrusts Doctors Without Borders’s account of what happened. The decision, he says, “looks political.” One medical professional who was involved in the conference calls told me that Doctors Without Borders “was being very paternalistic,” entirely cutting Khan out of the decision-making process. “It’s not that they didn’t want to do what was best for Khan,” the medical professional says, but the organization allowed the perception to take root that “it was about color.”

The View from the Glass Cage | Books and Culture

The View from the Glass Cage | Books and Culture: Moreover, when pilots do choose to take control—or are forced to do so by the failure of their systems—they often make bad decisions because they are out of practice. This is the third consequence of reliance on automation: highly trained experts whose skills atrophy because they have few or no opportunities to keep them sharp—until a crisis hits, which is of course the worst possible situation in which to try to recapture one's old abilities. [...]

Perhaps here we will have a measurable—and terrifying—cost to
automation. But more generally, Carr wants us to ask what value we place
on the loss of opportunities to experience flow—the loss even of
opportunities to develop and exercise skills that challenge and reward
us. Carr readily admits that these are extraordinarily difficult
questions. "How do you measure the expense of an erosion of effort and
engagement, or a waning of agency and autonomy, or a subtle
deterioration of skill? You can't. Those are the kinds of shadowy,
intangible things that we rarely appreciate until after they're gone,
and even then we may have trouble expressing the losses in concrete
terms. But the costs are real." They are real for the Inuit, they are
real for pilots, and they are real for us.

Nicholas Carr is asking us to count those costs, as a prelude to figuring out whether we can minimize them.

The Rise and Fall of the U.S. Government by John J. Dilulio Jr. | The Washington Monthly

The Rise and Fall of the U.S. Government by John J. Dilulio Jr. | The Washington Monthly: Now, in the second installment of this two-volume treatise, Political Order and Political Decay, Fukuyama picks up where the French Revolution left off and proceeds to the present. While he stresses that liberal democracy is not “humanly universal,” he still believes that there is “a clear directionality to the process of political development” that favors liberal democracy. But, in stark contrast to The End of History and his concern over hypothetical last men and their possible discontents, in his latest book he is worried about liberal democracies not sustaining themselves and not reliably delivering peace, prosperity, and personal security to their peoples. As he writes, if “there has been a single problem facing contemporary democracies, whether aspiring or well established, it has been centered in their failure to provide the substance of what people want from government: personal security, shared economic growth, and quality of basic public services like education, health, and infrastructure that are needed to achieve individual opportunity.”

What I Wish I Knew When I Started My Career as a Software Developer

What I Wish I Knew When I Started My Career as a Software Developer:

Never ask for permission unless it would be reckless not to. Want to spend a week investigating something on your own initiative? Don't ask for permission. You won't get it. You might not actually be doing your boss a favor when you ask for permission; from their perspective, you're asking for the right to pass the buck if your project doesn't pan out. Since he can deny you and your buck-passing after-the-fact, in any case, because he outranks you, you don't really gain anything from such a promise you might extract in the first place. So there's no upside in asking for that permission. Of course, if you're going to do something that presents a real risk to the business or where his permission would be reasonably expected, then go ahead and ask for permission. If the loss is small and the risk is appropriate to your level in the company (and any programming job where you're not trusted with days to weeks of your own time is not worth having) then don't ask for permission. Just do it, and do it well.

The emotions of this piece are relevant

How it feels to me. *NSFW:Language* : Military

I failed my Marine.

To hell and back for a wounded Marine. That's how the saying goes.
Most of us Doc's take that as more than a saying. We use it as a fucking
code to live by. Shit's popping off? Time to go to work!
Fucking mortar's are landing? "Why you bitches running away Marines?"
we yell as we head in to treat the wounded.

I failed my Marine.

The morning started fine and we all were in a good mood.....

Can You Copyright a Dream? - Jonathan Band - POLITICO Magazine

Can You Copyright a Dream? - Jonathan Band - POLITICO Magazine: Selma director Ava DuVernay may well have taken more license than artistically necessary in the confrontational scenes between Martin Luther King Jr. and President Johnson. But inaccuracies in other significant parts of the film were forced upon DuVernay by copyright law. The film’s numerous scenes of King delivering powerful speeches regarding civil rights all had to be paraphrased, because the MLK estate has already licensed the film rights in those speeches to DreamWorks and Warner Bros., for an MLK biopic Steven Spielberg is slated to produce.

The litigious MLK estate, controlled now by King’s descendants, has a long history of employing copyright to restrict the use of King’s speeches. The estate appears to have two objectives: maximize revenue and control King’s image.

21 January, 2015

John and Bonnie Raines: The Edward Snowdens of 1971 | Philadelphia Magazine

John and Bonnie Raines: The Edward Snowdens of 1971 | Philadelphia Magazine: What Medsger describes, what the Raineses have lived, is total transformation. They are a couple who spent 40 years in hiding from the U.S. government, only to emerge as the sort of people we might aspire to be. In this context, the ovations the Raineses receive seem not just appreciative, or admiring, but prescient. John and Bonnie Raines appear as heralds — of an inevitable American future, when another whistle-blower, perhaps gray by then, and ordinary, will find that his enemies are gone, and that stages and crowds await him in every city and town.

No Matter How Your Heart Is Grieving: Disney for the Sad

No Matter How Your Heart Is Grieving: Disney for the Sad:

The Disney World project, briefly, is to convince you—yes, you—that,
within the space of what employees call The Property, the apathy of a
hideously unfair world is suspended. Believe, the company instructs, and
you will be rewarded, irrespective of physical infirmity, age, size, or
gender. Few negative emotions are permitted in Disney World, and yet
the possibility of sadness is admitted in order for the company to
undertake the pitiless annihilation thereof. It’s one that many people
here want to stop feeling. In what feels like every line, we hear pairs
of women (accompanied by kids) discussing some bastard or other who left
or won’t leave, rarely in tones of blame, usually in terms of simple,
grim logistics. Wishing, dreaming—these are for people with less to
worry about. Kids, probably. Squash your own dreams quick, before
someone else tortures them to death. Disney’s prosaic response is best
expressed in a couple of lines in the theme from the studio’s 1950
cartoon “Cinderella,” which plays over and over again in various
arrangements pretty much everywhere in the Magic Kingdom:

“No matter how your heart is grieving,” it promises, “if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.”

Obama uses SOTU to announce surrender to Iran | RedState

Obama uses SOTU to announce surrender to Iran | RedState: The facts are that we have not halted Iran’s nuclear program or reduced its stockpile. Iran’s nuclear program continues at full speed and their nuclear material stockpile has increased. Thanks to Obama relying on the good offices of Vladimir Putin and the ChiComs to negotiate an end to a nuclear program that is no threat to either of them, Iran has succeeded in evading most of the flaccid sanctions regime that has been imposed.

John Boehner's outrageous plan to help a foreign leader undermine Obama - Vox

John Boehner's outrageous plan to help a foreign leader undermine Obama - Vox: But there's more than meets the eye here. Netanyahu is playing a game with US domestic politics to try to undermine and pressure Obama — and thus steer US foreign policy. Boehner wants to help him out. By reaching out to Netanyahu directly and setting up a visit without the knowledge of the White House, he is undermining not just Obama's policies but his very leadership of US foreign policy. The fact that Netanyahu is once again meddling in American politics, and that a US political party is siding with a foreign country over their own president, is extremely unusual, and a major break with the way that foreign relations usually work.

Ocean Life Faces Mass Extinction, Broad Study Says - NYTimes.com

Ocean Life Faces Mass Extinction, Broad Study Says - NYTimes.com:

team of scientists, in a groundbreaking analysis of data from hundreds
of sources, has concluded that humans are on the verge of causing
unprecedented damage to the oceans and the animals living in them.
may be sitting on a precipice of a major extinction event,” said
Douglas J. McCauley, an ecologist at the University of California, Santa
Barbara, and an author of the new research, which was published on Thursday in the journal Science.

An Uneven But Auspicious 'Nightly' Opener : Monkey See : NPR

An Uneven But Auspicious 'Nightly' Opener : Monkey See : NPR:

Yes, shows like this are always trying to generate conversation with
sometimes outrageous prompts, but it seemed particularly unfortunate for
the very first question to essentially equate any recognition of nuance
— the understanding that the question is flawed — with a failure of

Stuff like that is important, because this show is designed to be really smart as
well as really funny, and smart comedy doesn't really need traps like
that. My hope would be that they'll either come up with a different
recurring segment or keep it to the more personal questions that worked a
little better, like asking Treasury which side of the street she would
walk on if a white person were walking on one side and a black person on
the other. (She sidestepped the question by saying it would be based on
which person was hotter, which somehow earned her an "I Kept It 100"
badge even though it neatly evaded the obvious point of the question.)

The panel stuff needs a little work, on the whole, but that's entirely to be expected. Panel discussions are really hard, and they take time to settle into.

20 January, 2015

It’s official: 2014 was the hottest year in recorded history - The Washington Post

It’s official: 2014 was the hottest year in recorded history - The Washington Post: It is official: According to both NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the year 2014 was the hottest ever measured, based on records going back to the year 1880.

It now surpasses all past scorchers, including 1998, 2005, and 2010. Indeed, except for 1998, says NASA, the 10 hottest years recorded have all occurred since the year 2000.

You'll Never Guess Who's Trying to Hack Your iPhone : The Freeman : Foundation for Economic Education

You'll Never Guess Who's Trying to Hack Your iPhone : The Freeman : Foundation for Economic Education:

But under the limits of the Fourth Amendment, nothing it finds can be
used to prosecute its targets. Now the FBI is taking steps to carry out
broad searches and data collection under the color of authority, making
all of us more vulnerable to “fishing expeditions.”

The investigative arm of the Department of Justice is attempting to
short-circuit the legal checks of the Fourth Amendment by requesting a
change in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. These procedural
rules dictate how law enforcement agencies must conduct criminal
prosecutions, from investigation to trial. Any deviations from the rules
can have serious consequences, including dismissal of a case. The
specific rule the FBI is targeting outlines the terms for obtaining a
search warrant.

It’s called Federal Rule 41(b), and the requested change would allow
law enforcement to obtain a warrant to search electronic data without
providing any specific details as long as the target computer location
has been hidden through a technical tool like Tor or a virtual private network.

What We Give Up When We Become Entrepreneurs -- Science of Us

What We Give Up When We Become Entrepreneurs -- Science of Us: Even if co-workers aren’t supporting or inspiring or engaging you—even if they’re outright antagonizing you, in fact—they often serve a hidden function: They make you strive, make you expect more from yourself, make you realize more is possible professionally. Twenty-seven percent of millennials say that workplace friendships make them more competitive, according to a �LinkedIn survey released this past summer. And the transformative effects of co-workers are nothing compared to those of mentors, who by definition expect the most from you and make it their business to show you the ropes. “Most successful people will tell you they’ve been mentored,” says Stybel, the Boston-based consultant and organizational psychologist, “and that mentor is often found at work. One of the things I tell young professionals as they’re starting out is to manage themselves well enough to be worthy of being mentored, and that can only be done through physical proximity.”

In this art project, a man secretly fixed California's road signage and no one noticed

freeway signs: A North panel and 5 shield were fabricated
and attached to the existing overhead sign because the information was missing.

It was done as an art project, without permission, called Guerrilla Public Service.

The signs were manufactured and installed to the same specifications used by Caltrans (California Transportation Authority) with the intent on safety and aesthetics.

The forgotten history of how automakers invented the crime of "jaywalking" - Vox

The forgotten history of how automakers invented the crime of "jaywalking" - Vox:

In some cities — Los Angeles, for instance — police ticket tens of thousands of pedestrians annually for jaywalking, with fines of up to $250.

To most people, this seems part of the basic nature of roads. But
it's actually the result of an aggressive, forgotten 1920s campaign led
by auto groups and manufacturers that redefined who owned the city

"In the early days of the automobile, it was drivers' job to avoid you, not your job to avoid them," says Peter Norton, a historian at the University of Virginia and author of Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City. "But under the new model, streets became a place for cars — and as a pedestrian, it's your fault if you get hit."

One of the keys to this shift was the creation of the crime of jaywalking. Here's a history of how that happened.

Cheerleaders For Christ - Adult Mag

Cheerleaders For Christ - Adult Mag: It’s hard to turn off a mode of being that leads people who won’t take you seriously to nevertheless treat you pretty well. In the South the line between sexualized condescension, good manners, and honest charm is blurry⎯⎯if it exists at all. Those blurred lines, I’ll admit, made me comfortable. In college I wore short skirts when I waitressed and walked up to tables with a big game-day smile. This past summer I went to a wedding where there was a doll-like array of women and none of the guys knew what any of them did. A drawling groomsman approved of the bride: “She gets along with the wives real well.” The boys agreed and took tequila shots. The girls blinked, sipped their clear cocktails, put their sparkling hands on the backs of their rough and sweaty guys.

19 January, 2015

A PDF on good spy tradecraft

2010-01-02 Dulles on Tradecraft via Srodes.pdf

Romney And The GOP’s Five-Ring Circus | FiveThirtyEight

Romney And The GOP’s Five-Ring Circus | FiveThirtyEight:

In the past, we’ve sometimes conceived of the GOP field
with a Venn diagram that we call the “five-ring circus.” It portrays
the major constituencies within the party — the establishment wing, the
moderate wing, the tea party, libertarians and Christian conservatives —
and how they overlap.

18 January, 2015

Blogs of War - Hacker OPSEC with The Grugq

Blogs of War - Hacker OPSEC with The Grugq: My thinking these days is that an operative must minimize the time that they are engaged in a clandestine operation. Something like the theory of special operations, the period of vulnerability only grows the longer the operation goes on. Clandestine operational activity must be compartmented, it must be planned, it must be short in duration, and it must be rehearsed (or at least, composed of habitual actions). It is possible to do, and I believe that even non-experts can pull it off, but it must be limited in scope and duration. Prolonged exposure to underground living is caustic to the soul.

The Packers of Catan: Green Bay’s Board-Game Obsession - WSJ

The Packers of Catan: Green Bay’s Board-Game Obsession - WSJ:

Packers center Garth Gerhart was intrigued by the game, because
teammates were “talking about it all the time, all the different
strategies.” He wasn’t expecting such cutthroat competition until he sat
down with them two weeks ago and, he said, longtime players ensured his
failure. “Everyone is super competitive, so when you first start
playing they don’t tell you all the rules. So you start your moves and
they say ‘well, actually you can’t do that’ and it sort of screws you in
the game,” Gerhart said. “They get very salty.”

Perillo said
each player has very specific strategies down by this point. “I
obviously try to build as many cities as I can, that’s two points,” he
said. “You just try to strategically place an emphasis on whatever the
cards give you.”

The game’s popularity among the Packers is due
in part to the lack of other things to do in town. Green Bay is the
smallest town in the NFL. “We’re always looking for something to do,
it’s cold. No one wants to go outside, better find something,” Flynn
said. “And this is a great game.”

One Tweet Shows the Hypocrisy of America's Reaction to White People Rioting at Ohio State - Mic

One Tweet Shows the Hypocrisy of America's Reaction to White People Rioting at Ohio State - Mic: The difference is partly rooted in racial stereotypes, which frame black people as naturally threatening. Columbus is 62% white, while Ohio State University has an 82% white student body. Police officers used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse last night's crowds, but only 6-7 arrests were reported (which is remarkable, considering the number of arsons).

 If this had been a black majority, can we honestly say the rampant fires, stadium break-in and goal post destruction would be have been treated as celebratory revelry? It's unlikely, based on what we've seen this past year. Welcome to post-racial America.

17 January, 2015

Enemy Aliens | Lapham’s Quarterly

Enemy Aliens | Lapham’s Quarterly: The attempt to standardize and humanize internment conditions had also rehabilitated the idea of concentration camps and eroded memories of the brutality of the colonial camps. Indeed, once the public had adjusted to the idea of imprisoning innocent foreigners preemptively, governments learned how to harness anxiety of a foreign danger—with the underlying fear of crime, degeneracy, and disease—and assign it to other target groups, often domestic enemies. The identification of a pariah class, the registration and rules limiting conduct, followed by mass arrests and civilian detentions; the roll calls and prisoner numbers, the barracks, the watchtowers, the armed guards…civilians everywhere had experienced it all before as a seemingly necessary tragedy in the service of a national cause. Camps had become part of a formal process of dehumanization.

Obama and Cameron’s ‘solutions’ for cybersecurity will make the internet worse | Trevor Timm | Comment is free | The Guardian

Obama and Cameron’s ‘solutions’ for cybersecurity will make the internet worse | Trevor Timm | Comment is free | The Guardian:

The UK’s Cameron suggested earlier in the week he wants to outlaw certain forms of encryption, which could potentially lead to some of the world’s most popular messaging apps
(like iMessage and WhatsApp) being banned in the UK. That speech had
been ridiculed from all angles for the past few days, with various
experts labeling it a nightmare for Internet security – on par with authoritarian regimes such as Russia and China – and economically devastating for the British information technology industry.

Meanwhile, the White House has proposed a huge expansion of penalties under the highly-controversial law that was used to prosecute Reddit co-founder and privacy rights advocate Aaron Swartz. If passed, the administration’s proposal could further criminalize mundane Internet activity – for example, potentially allowing for a ten-year jail sentence for sharing your HBO GO password – all to supposedly target foreign hackers that the law would likely never reach.

BlakeClass comments on You just won a 656 Million Dollar Lottery. What do you do now?

BlakeClass comments on You just won a 656 Million Dollar Lottery. What do you do now?: Jack Whittaker, a Johnny Cash attired, West Virginia native, is the poster boy for the dangers of a lump sum award. In 2002 Mr. Whittaker (55 years old at the time) won what was, also at the time, the largest single award jackpot in U.S. history. $315 million. At the time, he planned to live as if nothing had changed, or so he said. He was remarkably modest and decent before the jackpot, and his ship sure came in, right? Wrong.

Mr. Whittaker became the subject of a number of personal challenges, escalating into personal tragedies, complicated by a number of legal troubles.

Whittaker wasn't a typical lottery winner either. His net worth at the time of his winnings was in excess of $15 million, owing to his ownership of a successful contracting firm in West Virginia. His claim to want to live "as if nothing had changed" actually seemed plausible. He should have been well equipped for wealth. He was already quite wealthy, after all. By all accounts he was somewhat modest, low profile, generous and good natured. He should have coasted off into the sunset. Yeah. Not exactly.

Whittaker took the all-cash option, $170 million, instead of the annuity option, and took possession of $114 million in cash after $56 million in taxes.

After that, things went south.

Whittaker quickly became the subject of a number of financial stalkers, who would lurk at his regular breakfast hideout and accost him with suggestions for how to spend his money. They were unemployed. No, an interview tomorrow morning wasn't good enough. They needed cash NOW. Perhaps they had a sure-fire business plan. Their daughter had cancer. A niece needed dialysis.

Needless to say, Whittaker stopped going to his breakfast haunt. Eventually, they began ringing his doorbell. Sometimes in the early morning. Before long he was paying off-duty deputies to protect his family. He was accused of being heartless. Cold. Stingy.

Roberto Saviano: My life under armed guard | World news | The Guardian

Roberto Saviano: My life under armed guard | World news | The Guardian: To me, the fact that two mafia bosses were acquitted while their lawyer was convicted for mafia-related crime seemed absurd. I was disappointed but nothing surprises me anymore. There were foreign journalists in court but I’m not sure they understood the verdict. I can’t blame them. Santonastaso has since been given 11 years for mafia association, aiding and abetting and perjury but that got barely any coverage at all. The bosses got away with yet another attempt to intimidate journalists into silence, so I felt ambivalent at best. Nonetheless, this was the first conviction of its kind, so it was a historical moment of sorts. I hope this sentence may be the first step towards freedom for myself and other writers, currently living under armed guard, who may eventually be able to reclaim our lives.

14 January, 2015

My Hometown – Selma | Thoughts from the Journey

My Hometown – Selma | Thoughts from the Journey: Momma and daddy didn’t talk much about what happened in Selma, except when the news reported something about that black man from Atlanta. Their words were never positive. They certainly did not welcome the world to their sleepy town. For them, everything just seemed fine the way it was. Momma would say, “Don’t get me wrong, I believed in equal rights, but I just didn’t like what was going on.” Momma would remind me how she always welcomed Florence at her kitchen table and bought her children dresses for Easter. My parents wanted the turbulence to go away. They chose to go inside their house and batten down the hatches.

13 January, 2015

wisequote comments on This is Charlie Hebdo's first cover since the attack

wisequote comments on This is Charlie Hebdo's first cover since the attack: Islam today carries this extremely strong "honor" overtone because it was born in one of the most tribal societies on Earth, and although it was a marvelous rebellion against many horrid tribal virtues once prevalent, it still inherited from the culture and like most pagan-to-Abrahamic conversions, it still had to cater to local tastes and thus punishments were often extreme: cutting hand of the thief made much more sense than the once common "kill him and rape his family and take his daughter as a slave", and to stone a woman and a man to their death for adultery was a way to defuse the "honor" anger and avoid the once extremely savage and common tribal wars. When Islam first arrived, it was a systematic solution to many of the huge issues back then, but it is evident today that even backward Muslims view such punishments as extremes let alone the moderates. Just like we will view capital punishment as extreme one day when we will have brain-reset solutions, humanity advances but religion makes it damn hard to let go and Islam is very good at that.

What do insanely wealthy people buy, that ordinary people know nothing about? : AskReddit

What do insanely wealthy people buy, that ordinary people know nothing about? : AskReddit: At this point, you start playing with the big boys. You can fly private (though you normally charter a flight or own a jet fractionally through Net Jets or the like), You stay at 5 star hotels, you have multiple residences, you vacation in prime time (you rent a ski-in, ski-out villa in Aspen for Christmas week or go to Monaco for the grand Prix, or Canne for the Film Festival--for what its worth, rent on these places can run $5k-20k per NIGHT.), you run or have a ontrolling interest in a big company, you socialize with Conressmen, Senators and community leaders, and you are an extremely well respected member in any community outside the world's great cities. (In Beverly Hills, you are a minor player at $80 million. Unless you really throw your weight around and pay out the nose, you might not get a table at the city's hottest restaurant). You can buy any car you want. You have personal assistants and are starting to have 'people' that others have to talk to to get to you. You can travel ANYWHERE in any style. You can buy pretty much anything that normal people think of as 'rich people stuff'

12 January, 2015

Spies should be able to monitor all online messaging, says David Cameron - Telegraph

Spies should be able to monitor all online messaging, says David Cameron - Telegraph:

He added: “I have a very simple principle which will be the heart of the new
legislation that will be necessary. In our country, do we want to allow a
means of communication between people which even in extremis, with a
signed warrant from the home secretary personally, that we cannot read? “Up
until now, governments have said: ‘No, we must not’.

“That is why in extremis it has been possible to read someone’s letter, to
listen to someone's telephone, to mobile communications.

“But the question remains: are we going to allow a means of communications
which it simply isn’t possible to read. My answer to that question is: ‘No
we must not’.

“The first duty of any government is to keep our country and people safe. The
attacks in Paris demonstrated the scale of the threat that we face and the
need to have robust powers through our intelligence and security agencies in
order to keep our people safe.

11 January, 2015

Ahmed Merabet's eulogy is the most important thing you'll read on Charlie Hebdo - Vox

Ahmed Merabet's eulogy is the most important thing you'll read on Charlie Hebdo - Vox: My brother was French, Algerian, and of the Muslim religion. He was very proud of the name Ahmed Merabet, proud to represent the French police, and to defend the values of the [French] Republic: liberty, equality and fraternity.

Through his determination, he had just received his judicial police diploma and was shortly due to leave for work in the field. His colleagues describe him as a man of action who was passionate about his job.


I address myself now to all the racists, Islamophobes, and anti-Semites:

One must not confuse extremists with Muslims. Madness has neither
color nor religion. I want to make another point: stop painting
everybody with the same brush, stop burning mosques or synagogues. You
are attacking people. It won't bring back our dead, and it won't appease
our families.

This map shows every attack on French Muslims since Charlie Hebdo - Vox

This map shows every attack on French Muslims since Charlie Hebdo - Vox:

Further, such attacks play directly into
al-Qaeda's own logic and agenda, treating the act of few fringe
extremists as representative of the non-extremist whole, and fomenting
the idea of existential conflict between non-Muslims and Muslims where
none actually exists.

It's important to understand, though, that these attacks and the
sentiment behind them did not come from nowhere. French attitudes toward
Islam are, to say the least, complex — something evidenced at every
stage of this story.