20
Apr
11

Roundup – Fan-Made Film Credits Better Than Actual Credits

Line O’ the Day:

“I grew up in the 1980’s, and there must have been some kind of hitchhiking plague in the 1980’s because I distinctly remember being told in school to NEVER hitchhike. They had entire seminars and shit about how, if you hitchhiked, you would end up bound in a motel room and raped with a fire extinguisher.”

- Big Daddy Drew, 10 Good Movie Quotes To Yell Out During Orgasm [Deadspin]

Best of the Best:

Echoes of the Soviet Surge [Niels Annen on Foreign Policy]

The main take-away from the Soviet endgame for today’s NATO forces is less than rosy — namely, that an effective and able Afghan army is not sufficient to stabilize Afghanistan’s political system. An insurgency can survive and thrive if Kabul is in disarray. That said, the Soviet experience also casts some aspects of today’s effort in less-despairing light. The Red Army was largely successful in its effort to achieve one of the main goals the West has set out for itself: building an effective Afghan army. And even if the daily news from Afghanistan might suggest differently, conditions today are much more favorable than during the end of the Cold War. Indeed, while the mujahideen profited tremendously from U.S. and Pakistani aid, the Taliban today have no comparable international patron. Finally, today’s Afghan government possesses a crucial advantage that Najibullah’s government lacked — a nascent, if flawed, democratic process that can be used to bolster its support among the Afghan population.

Welcome to Debtors’ Prison, 2011 Edition [Wall Street Journal]

More than a third of all U.S. states allow borrowers who can’t or won’t pay to be jailed. Judges have signed off on more than 5,000 such warrants since the start of 2010 in nine counties with a total population of 13.6 million people, according to a tally by The Wall Street Journal of filings in those counties. Nationwide figures aren’t known because many courts don’t keep track of warrants by alleged offense. In interviews, 20 judges across the nation said the number of borrowers threatened with arrest in their courtrooms has surged since the financial crisis began.

A Declaration of Cyber-War [Michael Joseph Gross on Vanity Fair]

In terms of functionality, this was the largest piece of malicious software that most researchers had ever seen, and orders of magnitude more complex in structure. (Malware’s previous heavyweight champion, the Conficker worm, was only one-twentieth the size of this new threat.) During the next few months, a handful of determined people finally managed to decrypt almost all of the program, which a Microsoft researcher named “Stuxnet.” On first glimpsing what they found there, they were scared as hell.

The Man Who Wasn’t Darwin [David Quammen on National Geographic]

This is a classic episode in the history of science, a story of a coincidence and its aftermath, told and retold in books about how evolutionary biology came to be: the near simultaneous formulation of what we now think of as Darwin’s theory by Darwin himself and a young upstart, Alfred Russel Wallace. Classic or not, many people nowadays are unaware of it. Wallace, famed during his life as Darwin’s junior partner and for his other contributions to science and social thought, fell into obscurity after his death, in 1913.

How We Know [Freeman Dyson on The New York Review of Books, Reviewing The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick]

On the average, about eight words of drum language were needed to transmit one word of human language unambiguously. Western mathematicians would say that about one eighth of the information in the human Kele language belongs to the tones that are transmitted by the drum language. The redundancy of the drum language phrases compensates for the loss of the information in vowels and consonants. The African drummers knew nothing of Western mathematics, but they found the right level of redundancy for their drum language by trial and error…The story of the drum language illustrates the central dogma of information theory. The central dogma says, “Meaning is irrelevant.” Information is independent of the meaning that it expresses, and of the language used to express it. Information is an abstract concept, which can be embodied equally well in human speech or in writing or in drumbeats. All that is needed to transfer information from one language to another is a coding system. A coding system may be simple or complicated. If the code is simple, as it is for the drum language with its two tones, a given amount of information requires a longer message. If the code is complicated, as it is for spoken language, the same amount of information can be conveyed in a shorter message.

No Man’s Land: The Mystery of Mexico’s Drug Wars [Gary Moore on World Affairs]

At Cerro Prieto ["Dark Hill"]—far from eastern Mexico, but still accessible to roving Zeta operatives from the east—the local drug army is said to be like many across Mexico: mostly local boys, drawn from desert obscurity, either by enticement or brutal coercion. Either way, their narrow sliver of no-man’s-land is flanked on both sides by broad desert smuggling corridors controlled by El Chapo and the Sinaloa Cartel. Dark Hill has blocked monolithic control of the gateway to Arizona, the “golden door” of the Sonoran Desert. Heading the renegade effort is a local crime boss called El Gilo, who wedged himself into the crags and soaked up backing from El Chapo’s enemies.

Over to You, H. Parker Willis [Jim Grant via LRC]

“What Should the Federal Reserve Do Next?” Less, we say. Withdraw from the business of macroeconomic management. Acknowledge the essential error of the doctrine of interest-rate manipulation. Confess to the obvious flaws in the paper-currency system. Renounce debasement under the pseudo-scientific name of “quantitative easing.”

Maybe Possibly Truly Absolutely Definitely Perhaps The Most Waffling Peter King Column Yet. We Think. [Big Daddy Drew on KSK]

Now, I’m sure Adrian, being the operator for a large hotel in a city, has better things to do with her time than give some idiot who was careless with his receipts three attempts to locate a month-old hotel bill.

TRUTH: Adrian should not have helped Peter King.

That’s what makes a very good hotel very good.

What makes a good hotel very good? TOLERATING IMBECILES. Take it from the biggest one of all!

India, Pakistan, And The Hopeful Futility Of Cricket Diplomacy [Barry Petchesky on Deadspin]

Identity in the subcontinent isn’t a checked box on a census form. It’s a fugue, with many variations. Borders are mutable and theoretical. But sectarian allegiances are permanent. It’s why the cricket diplomacy column has had to be written every time the nations face off, and why it will have to be written again and again. A striking illustration of identity was given to me by Delhi-based sportswriter Gulu Ezekiel, born to a Jewish father and a Parsi mother. He considers himself part of two tiny and still-dwindling religious minorities in India. He is a cricket fan, too.

Obama’s new view of his own war powers [Glenn Greenwald on Salon]

The arguments raised to justify the Obama view of his own powers are every bit as frivolous as they were during the Bush years.  Many claim that the War Powers Resolution of 1973 allows a President to fight wars for 60 days without Congressional approval, but (a) the Obama administration is taking the position that not even the WPR can constrain the President, and (b) 1541(c) of that Resolution explicitly states that the war-making rights conferred by the statute apply only to a declaration of war, specific statutory authority, or “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.”  Plainly, none of those circumstances prevail here.

The Truth About Race, Religion, And The Honor Code At BYU [Luke O'Brien and Darron Smith]

Only later, after the athletes had arrived on campus, did they realize the implications of the compact they had signed: that they had entered an environment where official morality is unevenly applied, where snitches and spies abound, and where, above all, an interplay of race and religion affects every decision and allows the school, at least publicly, to take a righteous stand that only advances the missionary aims of the church that owns it. In short, BYU creates the conditions for certain athletes to fail and, when they do, expresses only dismay.

Surly Flag Football Coach Needs Team To Learn How To “Grab A Fucking Flag And Pull It Off.” STAT [Deadspin]

Subject: Flag Football, Parental Discretion is Advised: Alright, so for those of you who know me and my coaching style, you know whats coming. For those of you who don’t, only read on if you can handle whatever I say. My strategy is not like Kevin, I don’t coddle my team or tell them “good job, we’ll win next week”. I will call you all out if you suck, and this week, we were fucking terrible.

How a university punished a female engineering student for this bikini photo [Justin Hyde on Jalponik]

A Canadian university suspended its student racecar-building team after one of the engineers in training had the audacity to pose with it while wearing a bikini. It’s an independent study course in sexism, administrative idiocy and misplaced priorities.

The Stupid Barry Bonds Prosecution, In A Stupid Nutshell [Tommy Craggs via Deadspin]

There’s a lot of mewling and bead-fondling in the sports pages today about what it all means for Bonds’s legacy — as always, it’s important to remember that a sportswriter talking about a legacy is just a fart talking about its own smell — but let’s ignore all that for now and instead direct our attention to an exchange from Day 12 of the trial, which I only just now noticed.

One Reason Sir Charles Doesn’t Like Reporters Is Because They’re Idiots [Charles Barkley on Sports Radio Interviews via Deadspin]

Dude, listen, I can’t speak for Mike Wilbon, but I think Chicago is the best summer city in the world. If the Bulls do not get to the conference finals, I’m going to kill Derrick Rose and Tom Thibodeau. I want to spend my week and a half in Chicago for the Conference Finals. I’m going to come in and spend the whole show with you guys and we’ll have a blast. Listen dude, I just want to be there for a week and a half and I’ll bring the beer.

The Sultan Of Twat: Babe Ruth’s Swinging First Few Years With The Yankees [Robert Weintrub's The House that Ruth Built via Deadspin]

Fred Lieb said [Babe] Ruth was obsessed with the penis and not merely because he was famously well-endowed. His speech was peppered with phallic allusions, such as “I can knock the penis off any ball that ever was pitched.” A large stack of mail was “as big as my penis.” When he aged he confided to Lieb, “The worst of this is that I no longer can see my penis when I stand up.” The female genitalia weren’t left out. Asked “How’s it going, Jidge?” he would response, “Pussy good, pussy good.”

Rethinking Afghanistan, America, and Americans [Dana Visalli via LRC]

Abdullah, the son, added, “My father always tells me that the world is divided into two groups, those who build and those who destroy. The world is a village, and if you are destroying the village you are destroying the world. The military forces are always destroying. My father is always telling me to be part of the first group, the one that is building the world.” And so Abdullah’s goal is to become a doctor and help his people. “I must become a doctor,” he said, “or my life is nothing.”

Tsunami-hit towns forgot warnings from ancestors [Associated Press via Yahoo! News]

Modern sea walls failed to protect coastal towns from Japan’s destructive tsunami last month. But in the hamlet of Aneyoshi, a single centuries-old tablet saved the day. “High dwellings are the peace and harmony of our descendants,” the stone slab reads. “Remember the calamity of the great tsunamis. Do not build any homes below this point.”  It was advice the dozen or so households of Aneyoshi heeded, and their homes emerged unscathed from a disaster that flattened low-lying communities elsewhere and killed thousands along Japan’s northeastern shore.

The Canada bubble [MacLean's]

So there you have it. Canada is either primed to be a world beater, or we’re about to go down the tubes. There’s arguably never been a time when forecasters have been so divided in their views of Canada’s economy. That’s partly due to the seemingly Herculean way we shrugged off the global recession while almost every other developed nation tanked and continues to struggle—a feat that can’t help but arouse a bit of too-good-to-be-true anxiety.

The No-Baby Boom: A growing number of couples are choosing to live child-free. And you might be joining their ranks. [Brian Frazer on Details]

Considering the state of the economy, it should come as no surprise that the ranks of the child-free are exploding. The Department of Agriculture reports that the average cost for a middle-income two-parent family to support a kid through high school is $286,050 (it’s nearly half a million dollars for couples in higher tax brackets). Want him or her to get a college education? The number jumps to nearly $350,000 for a public university, and more than $400,000 for private. Though if your kid’s planning to major in Male Sterilization, it could wind up being a good investment: The vasectomy business seems to be one of the few in America that is booming.

The Sleepless Elite: Why Some People Can Run on Little Sleep and Get So Much Done [Melinda Beck on Wall Street Journal]

To date, Dr. Jones says he has identified only about 20 true short sleepers, and he says they share some fascinating characteristics. Not only are their circadian rhythms different from most people, so are their moods (very upbeat) and their metabolism (they’re thinner than average, even though sleep deprivation usually raises the risk of obesity). They also seem to have a high tolerance for physical pain and psychological setbacks.

Trouble @Twitter [Jessi Hempel on Fortune]

Unsure of what they’d created, the founders basically turned Twitter over to its users — initially a bunch of techie early adopters — and watched what they did with it. The result was a bit of anarchy: The crowd developed an unintuitive language all its own (the hashtags and retweets and other abbreviations all came from users); an ecosystem of independent “dashboard” companies such as TweetDeck and HootSuite emerged to help consumers manage their Twittering — a development that would prove to be a mixed blessing for Twitter.

Welcome to the Far Eastern Conference: Stephon Marbury is seeking redemption—and vast riches—in basketball-mad China. [Wells Tower on Gentlemen's Quarterly]

He hung up and gave me an unhappy look. “I’m leaving Taiyuan,” he said. “I been compromised.” Management, he told me, had informed him that his services as a player were no longer required for the regular season. “If they make the playoffs, then they’ll use me, is what they said. Otherwise, they want me to help coach.”  He was, in other words, being asked to recapitulate his humiliating final season riding the bench for the Knicks. It was hard to understand this “offer” as anything but a ploy to force Marbury to quit the Dragons, which, he told me, was what he had done.

Whimsical Remains:

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