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Roundup – 100 Years of Special Effects

Quote O’ the Day:

Sure, at Missouri he was the SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2013, but at 6-feet-1 5/8, 260 pounds, Sam isn’t built like the prototype NFL defensive end and even moved to outside linebacker for some drills at the Senior Bowl. Most teams see him as a tweener with no natural position.

Or LB curious

- PFT Commenter, Writer has opinion about the NFL’s war on heterosexuality, let’s all take a look [Kissing Suzy Kolber]

Best of the Best:

Textile Industry Comes Back to Life, Especially in South [Marsha Mercer on Stateline]

Business is on the upswing as Southern states, in particular, woo textile companies with tax breaks, reliable utilities, modern ports and airports and a dependable, trained and nonunion workforce. In 2013, companies in Brazil, Canada, China, Dubai, Great Britain, India, Israel, Japan, Korea, Mexico and Switzerland, as well as in the U.S., announced plans to open or expand textile plants in Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

Legal Breakdown: The Makers Of ‘Twiharder’ Sued The Makers Of Twilight And Vice Versa [Buttockus A. Finch, Esq. via FilmDrunk]

I regret doing this, but in the name of thoroughness, I’m including a link to the Twiharder site here. I implore you to not look at it; if you do, it is safest to view only through a pinhole in a piece of cardboard. An example of its diabolical nature: there is a music video, supposedly related to this movie, that appears to be based on Right Said Fred’s one hit. If you don’t know what that means, you don’t want to; rejoice, o young man, in thy ignorance.

Left and Right Tail-Wags Trigger Different Emotional Responses In Dogs [George Dvorsky on io9]

Earlier, the same research team discovered that dogs wag to the right when they’re happy, like seeing their owners, and to the left when they’re feeling stressed or anxious (like seeing a dog they’re hesitant about). Their prior study showed that left-brain activation produced a wag to the right, while right-brain activation produced a wag to the left — a consequence of left/right asymmetric functionality in the brain. Which wasn’t a complete surprise to the researchers; asymmetries in behavior are widespread in the animal kingdom. By the observations got the researchers thinking: Are dogs on the receiving end of tail wagging able to decipher and respond to these cues? They performed an experiment to find out. While closely monitoring their reactions, the researchers showed dogs videos of other dogs with either left- or right- asymmetric tail wagging. They observed that, when dogs saw another dog wagging to the left, their heart rates picked up and they looked anxious. But when the wagging happened on the other side, they stayed perfectly relaxed.

The Livability Index: The 35 Best U.S. Cities For People 35 and Under [Cavaliere, Ryan Walsh, Hanna Sender and EJ Fox via Vocativ]

We started with the 50 most populous cities in the country, according to the 2010 census, and pared down results from there using Open Internet sources. Our Livability Index takes into account essential indicators for those between 18 and 35, like average salary, employment rates, and the cost of rent and utilities measured against everyday factors like bike lanes for commuting, low-cost broadband and the availability of good, cheap takeout. We also considered all-important lifestyle metrics like the price of a pint of beer and an ounce of high-quality weed, and the level of access to live music and coffee shops. The following 35 cities represent your best chance of not dying jobless and alone in your parent’s basement. You can slice and dice the data by city or across categories, depending what you care about most. In the end, some bigger cities like Los Angeles and Chicago didn’t make the top 35 (though they may have ranked in individual categories).  Grab your patchouli; it’s time to move to Portland!

Seoul’s Defector Girl Boxer Stars in Rare Triumph for Refugees [Yoolim Lee on Bloomberg]

Lee Chul Man says he wouldn’t have made it in South Korea without mentor Park Sang Young. Lee left North Korea’s North Hamkyong Province for China at age 19 in April 2008 so his mother could feed three other children and aid her ailing husband. He committed petty crimes in China to survive. In 2009, Lee made his way to South Korea, where he was soon overwhelmed by his freedom and squandered his construction-job pay drinking and partying. “I got completely lost,” he says. Lee met Park, a former employee at Seoul’s Daishin Securities Co. who had left because he wanted more meaning in his life. Park started a school for defector teenagers. “All of my students made their way to South Korea by themselves, alone,” Park says. “They’ve got scars, deep scars.” Lee is working toward a license to drive forklifts. “My dream is to live a content life, not chasing anything and not being chased, and to see my mother in North Korea one day,” he says. Lee’s father died last year…Boxing champ Choi [Hyun Mi] struggles to attract a sponsor and says being a defector may be holding her back. She dreams of fighting in Las Vegas to gain global recognition. “I am lucky to have lived in both Koreas,” she says. “But I know exactly where I want to go from here — the world.”

The All-or-Nothing Marriage [Eli J. Finkel on The New York Times]

[T]he most striking thing I learned is that the answer to whether today’s marriages are better or worse is “both”: The average marriage today is weaker than the average marriage of yore, in terms of both satisfaction and divorce rate, but the best marriages today are much stronger, in terms of both satisfaction and personal well-being, than the best marriages of yore. Consider, for example, that while the divorce rate has settled since the early 1980s at around 45%, even those marriages that have remained intact have generally become less satisfying. At the same time, consider the findings of a recent analysis, led by the University of Missouri researcher Christine M. Proulx, of 14 longitudinal studies between 1979 and 2002 that concerned marital quality and personal well-being. In addition to showing that marital quality uniformly predicts better personal well-being (unsurprisingly, happier marriages make happier people), the analysis revealed that this effect has become much stronger over time. The gap between the benefits of good and mediocre marriages has increased. How and why did this divergence occur? In answering this question, I worked with the psychologists Chin Ming Hui, Kathleen L. Carswell and Grace M. Larson to develop a new theory of marriage, which we will publish later this year in a pair of articles in the journal Psychological Inquiry. Our central claim is that Americans today have elevated their expectations of marriage and can in fact achieve an unprecedentedly high level of marital quality — but only if they are able to invest a great deal of time and energy in their partnership. If they are not able to do so, their marriage will likely fall short of these new expectations. Indeed, it will fall further short of people’s expectations than at any time in the past.

Rum And Rom-Coms: A Belated Valentine’s Day With ‘Valentine’s Day’ [Alison Stevenson on FilmDrunk]

Ashton goes to stop Jennifer Garner but she is not buying it. She’s all like, “You don’t like any of my boyfriends. You said my ex-boyfriend Eddie was gay.” Ashton is all like, “Eddie is gay! He has a cat named Babs.” Hot tip folks, only gay men name their cats “Babs”. Straight men give their cats manly names like “Crusher” or “Hitler”.

I’m The Duke University Freshman Porn Star And For The First Time I’m Telling The Story In My Words [Lauren A. via xojane]

I stood there shaking in disbelief and fear. I knew what was coming next: fear, humiliation, shame, threats, name calling. What I did not expect was that I would be brutally bullied and harassed online. I did not expect that every private detail about my life would be dissected. I did not expect that my intelligence and work ethic would be questioned and criticized. And I certainly did not expect that extremely personal information concerning my identity and whereabouts would be so carelessly transmitted through college gossip boards. I was called a “slut who needs to learn the consequences of her actions,” a “huge fucking whore,” and, perhaps the most offensive, “a little girl who does not understand her actions.” Let’s be clear about one thing: I know exactly what I’m doing. What about you? My entire life, I have, along with millions of other girls, been told that sex is a degrading and shameful act. When I was 5 years old and beginning to discover the wonders of my body, my mother, completely horrified, told me that if I masturbated, my vagina would fall off. The most striking view I was indoctrinated with was that sex is something women “have,” but that they shouldn’t “give it away” too soon -– as though there’s only so much sex in any one woman, and sex is something she does for a man that necessarily requires losing something of herself, and so she should be really careful who she “gives” it to.

Another possible booze price hike looms over Wash. [Manuel Valdes on Associated Press]

Booze prices at bars and restaurants in Washington may go up this year as multiple interests fight over rules following the voter-approved privatization of the state’s liquor system. The possible price hike could be a hangover from battles among two giant national distributors, Costco and its allies, and the state Liquor Control Board. Since the end of Prohibition in the 1930s the state had tightly controlled the distribution and sale of liquor. But in 2011 Washington voters approved a privatization initiative that was supported by Costco and other retail interests. Costco spent more than $20 million backing Initiative 1183 and distributors also provided millions. Following privatization there have been multiple lawsuits and some consumers have complained about sticker shock in grocery aisles.

North Dakota No. 1 in Well-Being, West Virginia Still Last [Dan Witters on Gallup-Healthways]

Based on U.S. Census Bureau regions, Midwestern and Western states earned nine of the 10 highest well-being scores in 2013, while Southern states had eight of the 10 lowest well-being scores. The regional pattern of well-being is similar to previous years.

Clay-Liston: The Fight That Made Muhammad Ali [Gordon Marino on The Wall Street Journal]

Liston was a 7-1 favorite. About 90% of the press picked Clay to be picking himself off the canvas at night’s end. At the weigh-in on the morning of the fight, Clay went off like a verbal Roman candle. Eyes bulging, he charged at Liston, howling, “I can beat you anytime, you chump…I am the greatest. I am king…I float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” Recalling the night of the fight, Dundee said: “I told my kid that when they went to shake hands he should bounce on his toes, let Sonny see just how big he was. Muhammad was a big guy—6-3 and broad. Sonny, who was only around 6 feet, was surprised to be looking up at him and at how big my kid was.”

Proactive Advice for Dealing With Grief: Seek Out New Experiences [Elizabeth Bernstein on The Wall Street Journal]

Almost five decades after psychologist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’s 1969 book “On Death and Dying,” the grieving process is still popularly understood to happen in five stages—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. But in recent years researchers and experts have found little evidence that these stages exist. People who bounce back after a death, divorce or other traumatic loss often don’t follow this sequence. Instead, many of them strive to actively move forward. “The traditional model of bereavement is that there is work to do,” says George Bonanno, a grief researcher and professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University’s Teachers College, and the author of “The Other Side of Sadness.” “There has never really been any evidence for that.” Each person’s grieving is unique, of course. But in a 2002 study of older men and women who had lost spouses, Dr. Bonanno found that in 50% of the participants, the main symptoms of grief—shock, anxiety, intrusive thoughts, depression—had lifted within six months. “The majority of people can function pretty soon afterward,” he says. Instead of five stages, Dr. Bonanno compares grief to a swinging pendulum. People get very upset and then feel better—over and over again. A person may be crying and then suddenly laugh at a funny joke or memory. In time, the periods between pendulum swings get longer and gradually the pain subsides.

At Nordic Airports, Defying the Snow is Good Sport [Daniel Michaels on The Wall Street Journal]

They plowed relentlessly ahead and protected a perfect 50-year record: Arlanda stayed open despite getting socked by more than a foot of snow. Swedish crews wax nostalgic about a 1968 blizzard when Arlanda was the only Western European airport operating and arriving planes parked on one of its two runways.

America’s Weird, Enduring Love Affair With Cars and Houses [Derek Thompson on The Atlantic]

Families with radically different incomes—from lawyers and doctors down to high-school dropouts—all spend about half of it on homes and getting around, which suggests an historically tight relationship between marginal income growth and marginal spending growth on real estate and transportation.

RT Host Abby Martin Condemns Russian Incursion Into Crimea – On RT [Glenn Greenwald on The//Intercept]

In response to my question about whether any U.S. television hosts issued denunciations of the attack on Iraq similar to what Martin just did on RT, Washington lawyer Bradley Moss replied: “Phil Donahue (MSNBC) and Peter Arnett (NBC).” Leaving aside that Arnett wasn’t a host, this perfectly proves the point I made, since both Donahue and Arnett were fired because of their opposition to the U.S. war. Arnett was fired instantly by NBC after he made critical comments about the war effort on Iraqi television, while a memo from MSNBC executives made clear they were firing Donahue despite his show being the network’s highest-rated program because he would be “a difficult public face for NBC in a time of war”.

Why Men Marry Some Women And Not Others [Michael Bailey on The MinorityEye]

This book is based on over 3,000 interviews conducted by John T. Molloy and his researchers. They interviewed couples coming out of marriage license bureaus, and then a control group. The results reflect the statistical tendencies of marriage. Many of the lessons are common sense, but what sets this book apart is its specificity and the statistical backup for its assertions. Editor’s note: One interesting fact is that this book got positive but mixed reviews on Amazon. It seems that the statistical truths that women who are A) over 35, and B) overweight are much less likely to marry were not well-received by those women who fell into those categories.

Photos: The Brutal DIY Weapons of the Ukrainian Revolution [Doug Bierend on Wired]

The protesters who filled Maidan Square to battle the Ukrainian army and topple President Yanukovych often fought with little more than sticks, bats and sledgehammers. Their nasty homemade weapons are the subject of a series of portraits by photographer Tom Jamieson, and show how determined protesters were to either damage or defend against government security forces, depending on your politics. While other photographers scrambled to shoot the epic scenes playing out at the front line, Jamieson wandered the occupied zone asking to see what protesters were packing.

The Jews who fought for Hitler: ‘We did not help the Germans. We had a common enemy’ [Paul Kendall on The Telegraph]

Skurnik was far from the only soldier to be awarded the Iron Cross during the Second World War. More than four million people received the decoration. But there was one fact about him that makes the recommendation remarkable: he was Jewish. And Skurnik was not the only Jew fighting on the side of the Germans. More than 300 found themselves in league with the Nazis when Finland, who had a mutual enemy in the Soviet Union, joined the war in June 1941. The alliance between Hitler and the race he vowed to annihilate — the only instance of Jews fighting for Germany’s allies — is one of the most extraordinary aspects of the Second World War, and yet hardly anyone, including many Finns, know anything about it.

Oil Trains, Cold Snap Put Plains State Farmers in a Bind [Daniel C. Vock on Stateline]

The North Dakota oil boom is creating major headaches for the region’s farmers, as both the oil and grain industries put huge strains on rail service on the Great Plains. The energy and agricultural industries both set production records last year, driving up demand for freight trains at the same time the region’s main railroad was rehabilitating its tracks and Mother Nature snarled service with a ferocious winter. The area’s farmers and grain elevator operators have been coping with slow rail service since the big harvest last fall. With no reliable way to ship their products to ports in the Pacific Northwest, elevator operators are heaping millions of bushels of grain in piles on the ground and refusing to buy more from farmers.

Sorry Banks, Millennials Hate You [Alice Truong on Fast Company]

As a result, this digital-savvy cohort is looking to the tech sector to provide banking solutions. Half of respondents said they were counting on startups to overhaul how banks work, and three-quarters said they would be more excited in financial services provided by Google, Amazon, Apple, PayPal, or Square than from their own banks.

Tesla Stores May Be Closed After N.J. Blocks Direct Sales [Alan Ohnsman and Terrence Dopp on Bloomberg]

Tesla is battling dealers state by state to secure or protect the right to sell its cars directly to consumers. Auto dealers in Ohio, New York, Minnesota, Georgia and elsewhere in the past year have sought to block Tesla from directly retailing its models, arguing that independent retailers are better for shoppers and owners of vehicles. Texas dealers successfully backed a law setting the nation’s toughest restrictions on Tesla. Arizona, Colorado and Virginia also imposed limits.The New Jersey vote shouldn’t have been a surprise to Palo Alto, California-based Tesla, said a Christie spokesman.  “Since Tesla first began operating in New Jersey one year ago, it was made clear that the company would need to engage the Legislature on a bill to establish their new direct-sales operations under New Jersey law,” said Kevin Roberts, the spokesman. “This administration does not find it appropriate to unilaterally change the way cars are sold in New Jersey without legislation and Tesla has been aware of this position since the beginning.”

See alsoTesla’s Direct-Sales Push Raises Auto Dealers’ Hackles [Alan Ohnsman and Mark Niquette on Bloomberg]

The complete guide to listening to music at work [Adam Pasick on Quartz]

Putting on those headphones provides a direct pipeline from iTunes or Spotify into your auditory cortex. As the music plays, many different brain centers can be activated, depending on whether the music is familiar or new, happy or sad, in a major or minor key, or—perhaps most importantly for work purposes—whether it has lyrics or not.

‘Mom, I’m Scared’ as Child Traumas Compound Syrian War Cost [Donna Abu-Nasr on Bloomberg]

At 4 years old, Edmond Michael Abdel-Nour can distinguish the sound of a bullet from that of a mortar hitting his Damascus neighborhood. A toddler when the conflict in Syria began, Abdel-Nour has lived through war for most of his life, learning to correctly identify an outgoing shell from an incoming one before he’s even managed to master the alphabet. “It’s the kind of knowledge I wish my son didn’t have,” said his mother, Manar Makhoul, 31. “There’s a whole generation of Syrian children who have been robbed of their childhood because of this crisis,” she said by telephone from Damascus.

Israelis in Berlin Signal Middle Class Struggles at Home [David Wainer on Bloomberg]

For many years after World War II it was taboo for Israelis to move to Germany. These days Berlin is among the top destinations for those priced out of housing and struggling with grocery bills. And for people whose forefathers were German Jews, Berlin makes sense because it’s easy to get dual citizenship. The number of Israelis in the city has risen by about 40 percent since 2006, Berlin authorities say. Unlike Israel’s pioneers — mostly European immigrants fleeing anti-Semitism and motivated by an ideological commitment to Zionism — many young Israelis see Berlin as a haven from the economic and social difficulties plaguing their country. The city today is home to about 17,000 Israelis, according to the German embassy in Tel Aviv.

Curiously Strong Remains:


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Roundup – Fight Club Minus Tyler Durden

Line O’ The Day:

Also of note, in the first film (well third film/first reboot…) Colin Farrell hammed it up as a vampire named Jerry.  In this film we get Jaime Murray (who, to be fair, I do recognize from a few Syfy shows, and admitting that makes me sad) playing a sexy lady vampire named Gerri.  Cute, huh?  You think she’ll turn out to be Jerry’s sister, like the sexy lady vampire was in the original Fright Night sequel?  That would be pretty neat, huh?  A reboot’s sequel that tries to reboot the original’s sequel, what fun! It’s like we need a whole new term like ‘bootquel’ or ‘resequel’ or ‘re-quel’ or ‘shit’.

- Morton Salt, Your Mid-Week Guide To DVD & Blu-ray [FilmDrunk]

Best of the Best:

The Daily Diets of Different Nations, Squeezed Into One Awesome Chart [John Metcalfe on The Atlantic Cities]

In no surprise, it turns out that denizens of wealthier countries consume foodstuffs generally seen as more tasty and desirable, like steak and milk. Poorer countries subsist heavily on rugged stuff like plant tubers and “oilcrops,” meaning for the most part soybeans and their derivatives…Mali seems to be the world leader for the ingestion of cereals (excluding beer, sadly). More than two-thirds of what a Malian eats every day might be grains. The biggest slurper of animal fats is carnivorous Canada, where such viscous substances make up an average of 7 percent of a person’s daily diet. The United States’ hunger for meat is outshone only by China’s – dead animals constitute 12 and 14 percent of the typical day’s meals, respectively. Japan and the U.S. are tied for consumption of “stimulants.” The most offal-loving nation appears to be South Africa. Oh, and the planet’s No. 1 chugger of alcohol? That would seem to be Russia, although it has heavy competition from the European Union and Uganda.

This Guy’s Wife Got Cancer, So He Did Something Unforgettable.  [Angelo Merendino via Viralnova]

The first time photographer Angelo Merendino met Jennifer, he knew she was the one. They fell in love and got married in New York’s Central Park, surrounded by family, friends, and loved ones. Five months later Jen was diagnosed with breast cancer…Throughout her battle, Angelo decided to photograph it. He wanted to humanize  the face of cancer on the face of his wife. The photos speak for themselves.

I’m In Love With A Church Girl: Jesus Loves Capitalism in Ja Rule’s New Joint [Vince Mancini on FilmDrunk]

It’d be easy (and fun) to dismiss entirely this new Affliction shirt Christianity (Afflictianity?) with all its faux-hawks and soul patches and hypocritical values, but even in spite of itself, it’s clearly offering something attractive (other than breasts): community. A set place to go every week to see family and friends and even meet love interests. Even the credits of Church Girl include pictures of the cast and crew screwing around on set, and sort of feel like a family photo album. It’s hard not to envy their bond. For educated secularists like me, as our social circles scatter about the country in search of start-up jobs and whatever else, we often end up losing that neighborhood bond we grew up with. As much as we try to recreate it through interest groups and online forums and adult kickball and whatever, it’s hard to compete with the old, diverse-by-comparison, suburban, church-on-Sunday model from the fifties, lame as it might be. As if naivete is the sacrifice for community. Maybe we can borrow something from the church model while ignoring the spirit of the thing, like Church Girl‘s protagonists do with their religion. I hope we figure something out soon, because there is nothing on Earth more nauseating than hipster Christians writing boast raps about their cars.

How Our Ancestors Used to Sleep Twice a Night and Highlighting the Problem of Present Shock [Slumberwise via Jeremy D Johnson on Disinfo]

The existence of our sleeping twice per night was first uncovered by Roger Ekirch, professor of History at Virginia Tech. His research found that we didn’t always sleep in one eight hour chunk. We used to sleep in two shorter periods, over a longer range of night. This range was about 12 hours long, and began with a sleep of three to four hours, wakefulness of two to three hours, then sleep again until morning. References are scattered throughout literature, court documents, personal papers, and the ephemera of the past. What is surprising is not that people slept in two sessions, but that the concept was so incredibly common. Two-piece sleeping was the standard, accepted way to sleep.

Professors Detail Brutal Tangle With Police [James C. McKinley Jr. on The New York Times]

Nineteen hours after her arrest, Ms. LaFont was brought before a judge in Manhattan Criminal Court to face charges of obstructing governmental administration and harassment. The prosecutor on duty offered her a common deal for people who have tussles with the police: plead guilty to disorderly conduct and be released with a penalty of “time served.” Ms. LaFont refused. “I didn’t believe I did anything wrong,” she said. Over the next months, she also turned down offers from prosecutors to drop the charges in return for meeting certain conditions. What she wanted, she said, was exoneration.

Toronto mayor, caught ranting on video, admits drinking a ‘little bit’ [Cameron French on Reuters]

In the video, shot from a low angle and posted on YouTube on Tuesday, Ford stands by the counter of a fast-food restaurant and rants about surveillance that police carried out last year during a drug investigation. “Chase me around five months, man,” he said, before using a Jamaican profanity. In much of the approximately 1 minute-long video, Ford speaks in a Jamaican accent. “He’s hiding here, I’m hiding here. You know how much money that costs?” Asked about the video, shot at the Steak Queen restaurant in the western suburb of Etobicoke, Ford admitted it was filmed after he was out socializing on Monday night. “I was with some friends. If I speak that way it’s how I speak with some of my friends. I don’t think it’s discriminative at all … It’s my own time,” he said.

Buffett Leans on 29-Year-Old Cool to Oversee Problems [Noah Buhayar and Laura Colby on Bloomberg]

When Warren Buffett bought half of a commercial mortgage finance company in 2009, he hired a 25-year-old fresh out of business school to keep tabs on the investment. Since then, Berkadia Commercial Mortgage LLC has earned back most of the $217 million that his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A) spent on the deal. The business also helped propel Tracy Britt Cool’s career. Now 29, Cool is one of Buffett’s most-trusted advisers, traveling the country to assist a constellation of companies too small to command her boss’s direct attention.

Is an atheist’s brain the same as a believer’s? New research says religious and non-religious minds work differently [Evan Belanger on]

They found that an individual’s religious belief depends on three cognitive dimensions: (1) God’s perceived level of involvement in the subject’s daily life, (2) God’s perceived emotion, and (3) the subject’s doctrinal or experiential knowledge of religion. They also found that those cognitive dimensions can be mapped to specific regions of the brain. While scans showed the amount of brain activity does not vary between religious and non-religions subjects, they detected notable differences in the way those brain regions communicate. In their findings, the researchers said subjects who perceive a supernatural agent at work in their daily lives tend to use brain pathways associated with the regulation of fear when asked to contemplate their religious beliefs. And subjects with religious beliefs based on doctrine, such as knowledge of religious scripture, tend to use pathways associated with language when they contemplate religion. However, non-religious subjects tend to use pathways associated with visual imagery when they contemplate religion, according to the study. Deshpande said those finding suggest subjects with a greater capacity to imagine visual images are less likely to be religious. He proposed that those subjects attempt to visually imagine a supernatural agent as a test of its existence and subsequently reject the idea as unlikely when that image does not fit with any known image in their memory. The researchers also found individuals with a stronger ability to attribute mental states — such as beliefs, desires and intents — to themselves and understand that others may have different mental states tend to be more religious. The ability to attribute mental states, known in scientific communities as the “theory of the mind” is thought to have evolved in humans over thousands of years, according to Deshpande. He said that finding supports the hypothesis that the evolutionary development of that ability in humans may have given rise to religion in human societies.

The Profits Bubble [Chris Brightman on Research Affiliates]

The macroeconomic cause of today’s profits bubble can be understood as a quarter century of politically facilitated globalization. During the 50 years following WWII, we lived in an open global developed economy containing less than one billion people in Europe, North America, Australia, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and a handful of others. Some countries were growing faster, some slower, but the technological level and population growth rates were not very different across the predominant countries within this relatively open global economy. The shares of income to labor and capital varied cyclically but tended to revert toward long-term averages. Beginning in the 1990s, we experienced a seismic shift in our global political economy. Approximately three billion people began to join this open global economy: about one billion each in China and India and another billion or so in Russia, Eastern Europe, South America, and Southeast Asia. Average wages, level of technology, and amount of accumulated capital in the countries of the aspiring three billion lagged far behind those enjoyed by the one billion in the developed world. Imitation and appropriation is far easier than innovation and invention, so catching up has been rapid for those nations willing to make even modest concessions to the aspirations of their citizenry. For the past quarter century, the capital and technology accumulated by the old equilibrium advanced global economy has been suddenly shared across a labor force and populace that quadrupled. This tectonic shift in our global political economy produced some winners and some losers. Incomes of many of the three billion newly joined rose quickly. Global poverty rates have plummeted. Meanwhile, wages in the old advanced economy countries stalled at least partly in response to competition from the lower wages welcomed by workers in developing countries. Profits grew to a much larger share of output and an unprecedented percentage of wages and salaries. To be sure, if we adjust wages to include the value of benefit programs and entitlements, we aren’t quite at all-time highs in profits-to-total compensation ratios. But, even here, we’re darned close to unprecedented records. In both cases, the five- and ten-year averages are at new highs. These longer-term trends are fueling popular unrest. This period of globalization and the inflation of our profits bubble has been facilitated in part by a corporate capture of government policy, inhibiting competition, depressing investment, and promoting rent seeking…Our policymakers have too often mistaken what is in the best interest of their elite peer group (and, surely by sheer coincidence, some of their largest campaign contributors) as in the best interest of the broader society. The result has been decades of stagnation in wages, high taxes on labor income, subsidies for debt and consumption, underinvestment, and soaring corporate profits.

WORLD DANGER SPOTS 2014 [Eric Margolis]

Where are the world’s most dangerous places in 2014? *Mostly forgotten, but the highly dangerous, Indian-controlled portion of disputed Kashmir. Rebellion against Indian rule by Kashmir’s majority Muslims is again boiling. Over 1.6 million Indian and Pakistani troops, backed by nuclear weapons, are in confrontation. Skirmishing along Kashmir’s Line of Control is frequent. The nuclear strike forces of both India and Pakistan are on a perilous hair-trigger alert, with about three minutes warning of an enemy attack. A false warning of incoming missiles or aircraft, a border clash, or a massive offensive by India exasperated by guerilla attacks from Pakistan could set off a war that could kill millions and pollute the entire planet with radioactive dust. India and Pakistan aside, hardly anyone even thinks about beautiful, remote, perilous Kashmir.

Stream At Your Own Risk: The 10 Most Terrible Gay & Lesbian Films On Netflix [Heather Dockray on FilmDrunk]

I’m also not about to get into a debate about what constitutes “good art” versus “bad art,” but I will say this: if the title of your movie is Guys and Balls, you’re probably on the losing side. Still, there were some important factors I examined: how nuanced was the storytelling? How imaginative were the representations? Was the movie more T or more A?

A Ghost Ship Full of Cannibal Rats Has Disappeared in the Atlantic [Jordan Kushins on Gizmodo]

A massive ghost ship has been missing in the Atlantic since last February, along with its potential cargo of “disease-ridden cannibal rats,” via BBC Future. Now, it looks like it’s headed for the UK. The Lyubov Orlova was first misplaced on its way from a harbor in Newfoundland, Canada, to the Dominican Republic, where it was to be sold as scrap. A storm sent it loose into the ocean, however, and the Canadian government decided to cut its losses and let it and its crew of hundreds of starving vermin drift. And that’s the last anyone saw of it.

The Ancient Ghost City of Ani [Alan Taylor on The Atlantic]

Situated on the eastern border of Turkey, across the Akhurian River from Armenia, lies the empty, crumbling site of the once-great metropolis of Ani, known as “the city of a thousand and one churches.” Founded more than 1,600 years ago, Ani was situated on several trade routes, and grew to become a walled city of more than 100,000 residents by the 11th century. In the centuries that followed, Ani and the surrounding region were conquered hundreds of times — Byzantine emperors, Ottoman Turks, Armenians, nomadic Kurds, Georgians, and Russians claimed and reclaimed the area, repeatedly attacking and chasing out residents. By the 1300s, Ani was in steep decline, and it was completely abandoned by the 1700s. Rediscovered and romanticized in the 19th century, the city had a brief moment of fame, only to be closed off by World War I and the later events of the Armenian Genocide that left the region an empty, militarized no-man’s land. The ruins crumbled at the hands of many: looters, vandals, Turks who tried to eliminate Armenian history from the area, clumsy archaeological digs, well-intentioned people who made poor attempts at restoration, and Mother Nature herself. Restrictions on travel to Ani have eased in the past decade, allowing the following photos to be taken.

Cop Comped [Matthew Feeney via Reason]

Earlier in 2013, after settling a federal lawsuit, the university paid a total of $1 million to the 36 people who were sprayed. Pike therefore received more compensation than each of the protesters he assaulted.

Quentin Tarantino Vs. Gawker, The Legal Breakdown (By An Actual Lawyer) [Buttockus Finch, Esq. on FilmDrunk]

Never, ever brag about not being a lawyer, junior. As if your parents are high fiving each other because their prolapsed rectum of a son runs Gawker.

Curiously Strong Remains:


The content on this site is provided as general information and entertainment only and should not be taken as investment advice. All site content shall not be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security or financial product, or to participate in any particular trading or investment strategy. The ideas expressed on this site are solely the opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of firms affiliated with the author. The author may or may not have a position in any security referenced herein and may or may not seek to do business with companies mentioned via this website. Any action that you take as a result of information or analysis on this site is ultimately your responsibility. Consult your investment adviser before making any investment decisions.


Roundup – Every Face Punch from Road House

Line O’ the Day:

The Miami New Times’ Cultist got just such an opportunity to ask when offered a phone interview with Abraham about a new Vivid strip club in Miami that she’s promoting (oh, Florida).

Do you consider yourself a feminist?
I’m pretty feminine. I think so.

Not feminine — feminist.
What does that mean, you’re a lesbian or something?

My God, that exchange should be framed in the Louvre.

Best of the Best:

Where Politicized Intelligence Comes From [Paul Pillar on The National Interest]

[A]n intelligence question such as what some state has done with a certain class of weapons is quite different from the policy question of whether it is wise to do something such as intervening in a foreign war. Unfortunately Americans have gotten into the bad habit of treating these two questions as equivalent. This is a lazy and politically convenient way to dumb down a policy debate. No matter how iron-clad a case there may be regarding what the Assad regime has done with chemical weapons, that begs the question of whether U.S. military action in Syria is advisable.  And in this case it is not.

Pastor claims sex with boys gave them ‘sexual purity in the eyes of God’ [Rick Couri on KRMG]

31 year old Brent Girouex was arrested on 60 counts of suspicion of sexual exploitation by a counselor or therapist. The former youth counselor told police he did it to “help with homosexual urges by praying while he had sexual contact with [them].” He claimed the acts would give his victims “sexual purity.”…Girouex admitted having sexual relations with at least four young men but as many as eight have now stepped forward claiming abuse. The man told cops one of his relationships lasted four years and there was “mutual” contact 25 to 50 times…Girouex is said to have told detectives “when they would ejaculate, they would be getting rid of the evil thoughts in their mind.” Last week a judge handed down a 17-year prison sentence but promptly suspended it to allow Girouex to get sex offender treatment and probation. As long as Girouex doesn’t violate the terms of his probation, he won’t do any jail time.

The true true size of Africa [The Economist via The Big Picture]

In Mr Krause’s map he seems to have used the shapes of the countries from a Mercator projection, but has scaled up the outline of Africa, without changing its shape, to show the appropriate area. An alternative and arguably more rigorous approach would be to repeat the exercise using an “equal area” projection that shows the countries’ areas correctly while minimising shape distortion. These two properties are the hardest to balance when showing the whole world on one map. I decided to rework Mr Krause’s map using Gall’s Stereographic Cylindrical Projection (1855) with two standard parallels at 45°N and 45°S. Distortions are still evident at the poles, but for most countries shape is maintained, and their areas are shown correctly. As you can see (below), the results are distinct from Mr Krause’s map. But however you look at it, his point is a good one: Africa is much bigger than it looks on most maps.

Before the School Bell Rings, Some Students Make an International Journey [Daniel C. Vock on Stateline]

New Mexico is unique in how openly its schools embrace American children living in Mexico, but all along the U.S.-Mexican border, children cross international lines on their way to school every day…Hipolito Aguilar, deputy secretary of the New Mexico Public Education Department, said the state’s constitution requires school districts to educate all school-age children. A state law specifies those children “shall have a right to attend public school within the school district in which he resides or is present.” That includes students who cross into the district from Mexico…The same open door applies to students from Arizona and Texas, he said, who sometimes live closer to schools in New Mexico. New Mexico allows school districts to charge out-of-state students tuition, but that decision is up to the local jurisdictions. The state’s school funding system gives local officials few reasons to turn away additional students. The money comes from the state, and it depends largely on how many students are in class on key dates, Aguilar said. There is no penalty for out-of-state students.

More Branded [David Thorne on 27b/6]

The company you work for sells water heaters. I might be missing something but I fail to understand how stock market graphs and rainbow gradient backgrounds relate to warm showers. While art is certainly subjective, it has also been said that art is a tryst, for in the joy of it, maker and beholder meet. Unfortunately, in this case, the tryst would be the emotional-connection equivalent of a quick handjob in a K-mart toilet from a middle-aged shelf-stacker named Rhonda in exchange for half a packet of Marlboro Menthol lights.

Autism Inc.: The Discredited Science, Shady Treatments and Rising Profits Behind Alternative Autism Treatments [Alex Hannaford on Texas Observer]

The extremes. That Texas has become a hotbed for alternative autism treatment and that many parents blame their children’s autism on vaccinations is thanks in no small part to the 2001 arrival of a man named Andrew Wakefield. Fifteen years ago, Wakefield was the lead author of a paper published in the British medical journal The Lancet suggesting a possible link between autism and the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Though the paper itself said that no causal connection between MMR and autism had been proven, the publicity surrounding it—in which Wakefield called for the suspension of the triple vaccine—caused panic among parents. The number of parents choosing to vaccinate their children fell dramatically, and measles rates went up: In 1998, there were just 56 cases of the disease in England and Wales, but by 2008 there were 1,370. In 2006, the country saw its first child measles death in more than a decade. In 2011 the World Health Organization urged European countries to act to stop the spread of the disease after the largest outbreak in years. According to the agency’s report, there were more than 26,000 reported cases of measles in 36 European countries that year. Of those, nine people died, including six in France, and 7,000 people were hospitalized. Ninety percent of the cases occurred in people who were “definitely or probably not vaccinated.” In 2004, the UK’s Sunday Times published an investigation into Wakefield, exposing what the newspaper said were conflicts of interest (that Wakefield had been paid to advise attorneys for parents who believed their children had been harmed by MMR) together with unethical research practices (that children were subjected to a series of invasive tests such as spinal taps, and that Wakefield paid children for samples of their blood at his son’s birthday party). Shortly afterward, 10 of Wakefield’s 12 co-authors removed their names from The Lancet paper (in 2010 the journal retracted the paper altogether), and the UK’s General Medical Council launched an investigation. The council hearings started in July 2007 and lasted two and a half years—the longest in the body’s history, costing an estimated $1.6 million. Its conclusion—that the doctor was guilty of serious professional misconduct—resulted in the council striking Wakefield from its register, meaning he could no longer practice medicine in the UK. In January 2011 the British Medical Journal (now officially known as the BMJ), a peer-reviewed publication, went further, accusing Wakefield of outright fraud. In a series of articles, the journal asserted that he altered facts about his patients’ medical histories to support his claim to have identified a new syndrome, which linked bowel disease, autism and MMR; and that he sought to exploit the ensuing MMR scare for financial gain (it said he had been paid more than 435,000 British pounds to advise attorneys working on the MMR suit). Wakefield, the BMJ wrote, has “repeatedly denied doing anything wrong at all. Instead, although now disgraced and stripped of his clinical and academic credentials, he continues to push his views.” In January 2012 Wakefield attempted to sue the BMJ in Texas courts for falsely accusing him of fraud; seven months later a judge dismissed the suit.

Why Are Women Switching from the Pill to the Pullout Method? [Amanda Marcotte on Salon]

Not everyone is decisive when it comes to knowing when to start having kids—or, if you want more than one kid, when the time is right to try for another. For some, it becomes easier to just be inconsistent with contraception or switch to less effective methods and let fate make the decisions for you. We all know a lot of people who say they’re not trying to have a baby exactly, but they’re not not-trying either—basically carving out emotional space to consider starting a family without having your mom start emailing you the names of fertility doctors if it doesn’t happen right away. Switching to the pullout method in particular allows men and women to choose, in the heat of the moment, to throw caution to the wind and maybe just get pregnant.

Slave descendants fighting tax hikes on Ga. coast [Russ Bynum on The Associated Press via Yahoo! News]

Cornelia Bailey said her tax bill shot from about $800 to $3,000, though she and other island residents receive virtually no county services. They have no schools, no trash pickup, no police station and only one paved road.

Liquor Lobby Fights Off Tax Increases On Alcohol [Elaine S. Povich on Stateline]

States raised tobacco and gambling taxes in recent years and even taxed marijuana in two states. Another “sin” tax— on alcohol— has largely escaped change in recent years thanks to a strong liquor lobby which reframed the liquor tariff conversation from “sin” to “hospitality.”

What’s Holding American Students Back? The SAT [Peter Coy on Bloomberg Businessweek]

Sternberg, the formerly stupid first-grader, wound up running the University of Wyoming this fall after academic postings at Yale, Tufts, and Oklahoma State. At all three schools his research showed that measuring students’ creativity and practicality could predict their college success better than plain SAT scores could. The message: Real life is messy. You’re not given five answers to choose from. And America shouldn’t depend on something resembling an IQ test to rake geniuses from the rubbish.

Statue of Limitations Runs Out for Keeping Stalin Off His Pedestal [Joe Parkinson on The Wall Street Journal]

Gori’s main boulevard is called Stalin Avenue and the former dictator is the No. 1 tourist attraction. The town houses the world’s only surviving museum of Stalinism, which preserves the humble brick cottage where baby Stalin spent his first years and the bulletproof train carriage that shuttled him across the Soviet Union. The museum offers a somewhat sugarcoated assessment of the dictator’s reign: The bloody period known as the Stalinist purges is recast as “the victory of socialism.”

Convenience Stores Want Your Fast-Food Dollar [Vanessa Wong on Bloomberg Businessweek]

Fresh food has increased traffic and brought new customers to C-stores, particularly female and older shoppers. As it stands, classic convenience store customers tend to be men ages 18 to 30 looking to buy cigarettes, coffee, beer, and lottery tickets.

Curiously Strong Remains:








The content on this site is provided as general information and entertainment only and should not be taken as investment advice. All site content shall not be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security or financial product, or to participate in any particular trading or investment strategy. The ideas expressed on this site are solely the opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of firms affiliated with the author. The author may or may not have a position in any security referenced herein and may or may not seek to do business with companies mentioned via this website. Any action that you take as a result of information or analysis on this site is ultimately your responsibility. Consult your investment adviser before making any investment decisions.


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