Author Archive for

21
Apr
14

Roundup – Game of Swears

Quote O’ the Day:

“I’m not a big fan of country club sports. My theory is that Gentiles were invented by golf as a way to propagate itself.”

- Buttockus Finch, Esq., “The Hollyweird Legal Round Up: A Golf Tee In The Butt Stunt Gone Wrong” [FilmDrunk]

Best of the Best:

What The Music You Love Says About You And How It Can Improve Your Life [Eric Barker via Time Magazine]

No, rock and heavy metal don’t lead people to commit suicide — but it’s possible that country music might: The results of a multiple regression analysis of 49 metropolitan areas show that the greater the airtime devoted to country music, the greater the white suicide rate.

The Sleep Deprivation Publicity Stunt That Drove One Man Crazy [Esther Ingliss-Arkell via io9] – RW

Back in 1959…Peter Tripp, a radio DJ, decided to stay awake for 200 hours, broadcasting his regular show at its regular time, as a publicity stunt….Amazingly, most of the way through the ordeal, Tripp was able to do his show fairly well. He pulled himself together to keep the DJ patter going. Outside of the show, he deteriorated. After about a hundred hours of wakefulness, Tripp was no longer able to get through simple math problems or recite the alphabet. After 120 hours, he began having hallucinations. He walked into a nearby hotel room to shower and change, and, when he opened a chest of drawers for his clothes, saw flames shooting out of the open drawer. At first he thought that the scientists had set the fire, trying to prank him or make him drop out of the contest. Then he began believing the scientists were in a conspiracy against him, and wanted to frame him for a crime. When one scientist, a stuffy dresser, came up to him, Tripp believed that the man was an undertaker come to bury him, and ran away into the street. During long periods of sleep deprivation, the brain begins going into REM sleep cycles while a person is still awake. Most of the time, the person will still be able to function, if only on a basic level. During the REM cycles, they will begin to dream while they are still conscious. Tripp was having normal, if unpleasant, dreams, he just wasn’t having them in bed. As time went by, the confusion took over his mind. He started staring at a clock, believing that he could see the face of a friend in it. He came to be doubtful as to whether he was Peter Tripp, or was the friend. In the last few hours, he began confiding to scientists that, although everyone believed he was Peter Tripp, he was not.

Colorado Town Considers Letting Residents Shoot at Drones [Jennifer Oldham on Bloomberg]

Phillip Steel, a 49-year-old welding inspector, wrote the proposed law as a symbolic protest after hearing a radio news report that the federal government is drafting a plan to integrate drones into civilian airspace, he said. The measure sets a bounty of as much as $100 for a drone with U.S. government markings, although anyone who shoots at one could be subject to criminal or civil liability, according to the Federal Aviation Administration…The proposal allows town officials to spend as much as $10,000 in municipal funds to “establish an unmanned aerial vehicle recognition program.” Shooters must be on private property and are limited to three shots per so-called engagement, “unless there exists an imminent threat to life and safety.”

See Also: Colorado Town Rejects Plan to Let Residents Shoot Drones [Jennifer Oldham on Bloomberg]

South Sudan Ethnic Hatred Drives Rebel Leader’s White Army [William Davison on Bloomberg]

All members of the Nuer ethnic group, the troops of the so-called White Army who gathered by the Sobat River in eastern South Sudan are the strike force in rebel leader and former Vice President Riek Machar’s campaign against the government in Juba, the capital. They’re planning to march on Malakal, capital of Upper Nile state, and then attack the Paloch oil field, a key source of revenue for President Salva Kiir’s military. While Machar sits in his bush hideout coordinating his rebellion’s positions on peace talks in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, and trying to force Kiir into concessions, members of the White Army have more basic desires. They’re fired by reports of widespread killings of Nuer after Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, accused Machar of attempting a coup d’etat in December. New York-based Human Rights Watch said in January that as many as 300 Nuer were massacred on Dec. 16 in Juba…Rachel Nyachop, 47, said she came from Malakal and is in Nasir looking for food. She’s lost three sons in this war, which she is adamant should continue. “The war will not be stopped until we kill all Dinka, including the children,” she said.

Teacher Tenure and Dismissal on Trial [Adrienne Lu on Stateline]

The lawsuit, filed by the nonprofit advocacy group Students Matter on behalf of nine public school students, followed unsuccessful attempts in contract negotiations and the legislature to give school districts more freedom to hire and fire teachers. The plaintiffs in Vergara v. California argued that the state’s employment rules leave so many ineffective teachers on the job that some students – many of them low-income and minority – fail to receive the education guaranteed by the state constitution. The two-month trial ended last Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court. A ruling is expected within several months.

How You, I, and Everyone Got the Top 1 Percent All Wrong [Derek Thompson on The Atlantic]

It turns out that wealth inequality isn’t about the 1 percent v. the 99 percent at all. It’s about the 0.1 percent v. the 99.9 percent (or, really, the 0.01 percent vs. the 99.99 percent, if you like). Long-story-short is that this group, comprised mostly of bankers and CEOs, is riding the stock market to pick up extraordinary investment income. And it’s this investment income, rather than ordinary earned income, that’s creating this extraordinary wealth gap.  The 0.1 percent isn’t the same group of people every year. There’s considerable churn at the tippy-top. For example, consider the “Fortunate 400,” the IRS’s annual list of the 400 richest tax returns in the country. Between 1992 and 2008, 3,672 different taxpayers appeared on the Fortunate 400 list. Just one percent of the Fortunate 400—four households—appeared on the list all 17 years. Now there’s your real 1 percent.

Carter Slams Religion and Men for Degrading Women [Manuela Hoelterhoff on Bloomberg]

In “A Call to Action,” the former president, who traveled to 145 countries with his wife, Rosalynn, and activists from their Carter Center in Atlanta, Ga., pulls no punches as he assails the forces that turn women into second-class citizens. He shows how religious leaders have purposefully doctored sacred texts to glorify men — and keep those women fetching water. He assails genital cutting, child brides, honor killing and trafficking, and outlines a “road to progress.”

Spite Is Good. Spite Works. [Natalie Angier on The New York Times]

Omar Tonsi Eldakar of Nova Southeastern University in Florida has studied the link between cooperative behavior and what he calls selfish punishment. “Why is everyone always assuming that it’s the good guys who are doing the punishing?” he asked. “Selfish individuals have more reason than anyone else to want to get rid of other cheaters.”…Using game theory models, Dr. Eldakar has demonstrated that when selfish players intent on maximizing their profits regularly punish other selfish players or exclude them from the group, the net outcome is an overall decline in selfish exchanges to a reasonably stable state. “It’s like the Mafia,” he said. “They end up reducing crime in the areas they inhabit.”

See Also: The Surprising Reason We Pay for a Stranger’s Coffee [Peter Coy on Bloomberg Businessweek] : “To the philosophers, the most interesting part of their model is that it generates some fairness without any altruism, since the only altruistic player, the Judge, is pushed out of the game. (There is one other equilibrium consisting of Laid-Back Person and the Judge, but it’s not as stable.) I spoke with Forber today about the authors’ rather dark vision. ‘It’s not fairness in the sense of justice and equity for all,” he said. “But it does generate some fairness in the population.’ I asked him if he thought this model, in which the two surviving types in the population are Spiteful Person and Laid-Back Person, accurately reflects modern society. ‘That’s an excellent question,’ he said. ‘It’s a very idealized experiment. That said, these models can represent biological evolution and learning. There are general lessons. It’s a second possible route to a kind of fair play. It’s a route that many people thought didn’t exist.’”

Former McDonald’s Store Managers Say They Withheld Wages [Leslie Patton on Bloomberg]

Two former McDonald’s Corp. store managers, assisting with a campaign to raise pay for fast-food workers, said they helped withhold employees’ wages at the restaurant chain after facing pressure to keep labor costs down. The ex-managers, who came forward as part of an effort backed by worker advocacy group Fast Food Forward, said they engaged in tactics such as asking employees to continue working after they clocked out or adding unpaid breaks to time sheets. They took the steps to avoid exceeding a store’s strict goals for wage expenses, said Lakia Williams, a former assistant manager at a McDonald’s in Charleston, South Carolina…The new allegations follow a wave of lawsuits in March claiming that McDonald’s workers were being idled without pay for minutes and hours at work during slow periods, in violation of U.S. and state labor laws. Some workers also allege that McDonald’s requires them to pay for their uniforms, driving their pay below legal minimums. On the day the lawsuits were filed, McDonald’s said it was reviewing the allegations and would take necessary actions. Contact information for the two managers was provided by BerlinRosen, a public-relations firm that is managing the media effort for Fast Food Forward. The advocacy group, which has received funding from the Service Employees International Union, also commissioned a survey on fast-food wages as part of the campaign.

How the Chicken Conquered the World [Jerry Adler and Andrew Lawler on The Smithsonian]

How did the chicken achieve such cultural and culinary dominance? It is all the more surprising in light of the belief by many archaeologists that chickens were first domesticated not for eating but for cockfighting. Until the advent of large-scale industrial production in the 20th century, the economic and nutritional contribution of chickens was modest. In Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond listed chickens among the “small domestic mammals and domestic birds and insects” that have been useful to humanity but unlike the horse or the ox did little—outside of legends—to change the course of history. Nonetheless, the chicken has inspired contributions to culture, art, cuisine, science and religion over the millennia. Chickens were, and still are, a sacred animal in some cultures. The prodigious and ever-watchful hen was a worldwide symbol of nurturance and fertility. Eggs hung in Egyptian temples to ensure a bountiful river flood. The lusty rooster (a.k.a. cock) was a universal signifier of virility—but also, in the ancient Persian faith of Zoroastrianism, a benign spirit that crowed at dawn to herald a turning point in the cosmic struggle between darkness and light. For the Romans, the chicken’s killer app was fortunetelling, especially during wartime. Chickens accompanied Roman armies, and their behavior was carefully observed before battle; a good appetite meant victory was likely. According to the writings of Cicero, when one contingent of birds refused to eat before a sea battle in 249 B.C., an angry consul threw them overboard. History records that he was defeated.

How the end of slavery led to starvation and death for millions of black Americans [Paul Harris on The Observer via The Guardian] – RW

[As Jim Downs of Connecticut College] shows in his book, Sick From Freedom, the reality of emancipation during the chaos of war and its bloody aftermath often fell brutally short of that positive image. Instead, freed slaves were often neglected by union soldiers or faced rampant disease, including horrific outbreaks of smallpox and cholera. Many of them simply starved to death. After combing through obscure records, newspapers and journals Downs believes that about a quarter of the four million freed slaves either died or suffered from illness between 1862 and 1870. He writes in the book that it can be considered “the largest biological crisis of the 19th century” and yet it is one that has been little investigated by contemporary historians. Downs believes much of that is because at the time of the civil war, which raged between 1861 and 1865 and pitted the unionist north against the confederate south, many people did not want to investigate the tragedy befalling the freed slaves. Many northerners were little more sympathetic than their southern opponents when it came to the health of the freed slaves and anti-slavery abolitionists feared the disaster would prove their critics right..So bad were the health problems suffered by freed slaves, and so high the death rates, that some observers of the time even wondered if they would all die out. One white religious leader in 1863 expected black Americans to vanish. “Like his brother the Indian of the forest, he must melt away and disappear forever from the midst of us,” the man wrote. Such racial attitudes among northerners seem shocking, but Downs says they were common. Yet Downs believes that his book takes nothing away from the moral value of the emancipation. Instead, he believes that acknowledging the terrible social cost born by the newly emancipated accentuates their heroism.

14 Interview Questions You Should Never Answer [Jacquelyn Smith on Business Insider] – CS

In a recent LinkedIn post, Bernard Marr, a global enterprise performance expert and a best-selling business author, says he’s always astonished to hear that candidates have been asked such inappropriate questions. “It can be very easy for interviewers to cross the line and ask questions that are inappropriate, and in many cases even illegal,” he says. “I believe that asking those questions in most cases [is] not done on purpose, but [rather] because of a lack of training and awareness, or even to break the ice and create a more friendly atmosphere.” But the purpose of the job interview is to establish whether you are right for the job and company, and whether the company is right for you, Marr says. So the questions you’re asked should never go beyond the professional assessment of your skills, enthusiasm, and fit.

The Grass Is Greener on the Internet: Pornography, Alternatives, and Infidelity [Dr. Benjamin Lee on Science of Relationships]

In short, these data suggest that watching pornography can lead to increased perceptions of alternatives to relationships, and perceptions of alternatives and increased cheating are associated with one another. Of course, one study on this topic doesn’t end the debate, but the researchers present an interesting argument for how perceptions of alternatives are a possible pathway by which porn could hurt the long-term success of relationships.

Female Adolescents’ First Coitus: Gaining Sexual Experience, Not Just “Losing” Virginity [Dr. Tim Loving on Science of Relationships]

This may seem obvious, but young heterosexual women are often characterized as having sex because their partners wanted to do the deed; turns out young women can and do engage in sex for the first time for their own reasons. Further, in addition to feeling greater sexual interest, the women also reported greater “partner support” (e.g., “He made me feel loved”) the day of first coitus (and the day after) relative to the day prior, providing some evidence that first time experiences generally occurred in a positive context.

The “Cheerleader Effect” (Yes, It Exists) [Dr. Dylan Selterman on Science of Relationships]

The researchers tested this idea by showing participants photos of other people (targets) who were either alone or next to others, and participants rated the attractiveness of the person/people in the photos with a sliding (low to high) scale. In 5 experiments, participants consistently rated both male and female faces as more attractive in the group condition relative to the alone condition, even though the faces were exactly the same in both conditions.

Most of what your doctor does, a robot can do better [Gina Siddiqui on Quartz]

Doctors average 23 seconds before interrupting their patients. Why tolerate that disrespect when a machine could process the same information politely and produce the right diagnosis more often? With competition like this, the division of labor in medicine between man and machine is going to change. The next phase may follow the chess world. After the Deep Blue supercomputer beat the world champion Garry Kasparov in 1997, something interesting happened. Humans didn’t stop playing chess. Instead, “advanced chess” was born, whereby humans and computers teamed up. Some of those teams won against the otherwise unbeatable supercomputers. In medicine too, doctors hold the potential for synergy with their programmed counterparts. It is worth noting that the best human-computer chess teams were not composed of the best independent chess players. Instead, it was the humans who asked a lot of questions and took the time to weigh the computer’s different approaches. The best doctors will no longer be the ones with the best memory for differential lists or dosages, the doctors who were the most impressive against computers. Now that computers have eclipsed us in these realms, the best doctors will hone complementary skills with computers. They will focus on relating to their patients as people, and when planning treatment they will have the humility to leverage technical tools rather than try to do it all on their own.

A Pivotal Financial Crisis Case, Ending With a Whimper [Jesse Eisinger on The New York Times Dealbook]

Then there is Mr. Lewis’s high-priced lawyer. The lawyer issued a scathing assessment of the case initially. Mr. Cuomo’s decision to sue was “a badly misguided decision without support in the facts or the law,” this lawyer said. There is “not a shred of objective evidence” to support the case. Who was this zealous advocate? One Mary Jo White. You may recall her from such roles as the current chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Republicans Demand That the Feds Impose Pot Prohibition on States That Have Opted Out [Jacob Sullum on Reason] – RW

The memo that Deputy Attorney General James Cole issued on August 29 makes no promises, but it suggests that prosecuting state-legal cannabusinesses is not a good use of federal resources unless they are contributing to one of the eight problems listed in the memo, which include distribution to minors, sales of other drugs, interstate smuggling, violence, and organized crime. [Attorney General Eric] Holder is right that such prioritization is within his authority under the Controlled Substances Act, and [Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo)] Smith is wrong to suggest otherwise. Furthermore, this misguided argument in favor of imposing pot prohibition on recalcitrant states puts Republicans on the wrong side of history and on the wrong side of their own avowed principles.

Why Education Spending Doesn’t Lead to Economic Growth [Charles Kenny on Bloomberg Businessweek]

Analysis by Lawrence Katz and Claudia Goldin suggests that increased educational attainment among Americans from 1915 to 1999 might account for 10 percent of the growth in U.S. GDP over that time. Some commentators contend that this an underestimate (PDF). But at the global level, no relationship has been found between a more educated population and more rapid economic development. There has been an explosion in schooling in developing countries, but many show nothing like explosive growth in GDP per person. By 2010, the average Kenyan had spent more years in school than the average French citizen had in 1985. But Kenya’s GDP per capita in 2010 was only 7 percent of France’s GDP per head 25 years earlier. What explains the limited impact of increased education on economic growth? A possible answer is that education acts as a filter rather than an investment. A recent study (PDF) in Italy found that test scores had a significant impact on the earnings of employees—but none on the earnings of self-employed people. One interpretation of that result is that schooling signals persons with intelligence and ambition, rather than actually imparting or indicating skills that make them better at their jobs over the long term. Signaling helps as a screening tool for employers, but makes no difference to people who work for themselves. Presumably, they already know how smart and ambitious they are.

The Woman Behind Apple’s First Icons [Zachary Crockett on Priceonomics]

[W]hen a chance encounter in 1982 reconnected her with an old friend and Apple employee, Kare found herself working in a different medium, with a much smaller canvas — about 1,024 pixels. Equipped with few computer skills and lacking any prior experience with digital design, Kare proceeded to revolutionize pixel art. For many, Susan Kare’s icons were a first taste of human-computer interaction: they were approachable, friendly, and simple, much like the designer herself. Today, we recognize the little images — system-failure bomb, paintbrush, mini-stopwatch, dogcow — as old, pixelated friends. But Kare, who has subsequently done design work for Microsoft, Facebook, and Paypal, has also become her own icon, immortalized in the annals of pixel art.

So You Think You’re Smarter Than A CIA Agent  [Alix Spiegel on NPR]

For the past three years, Rich and 3,000 other average people have been quietly making probability estimates about everything from Venezuelan gas subsidies to North Korean politics as part of , an experiment put together by three well-known psychologists and some people inside the intelligence community. According to one report, the predictions made by the Good Judgment Project are often better even than intelligence analysts with access to classified information, and many of the people involved in the project have been astonished by its success at making accurate predictions. When Rich, who is in her 60s, first heard about the experiment, she didn’t think she would be especially good at predicting world events. She didn’t know a lot about international affairs, and she hadn’t taken much math in school. But she signed up, got a little training in how to estimate probabilities from the people running the program, and then was given access to a website that listed dozens of carefully worded questions on events of interest to the intelligence community, along with a place for her to enter her numerical estimate of their likelihood…Rich’s numbers worked out incredibly well. She’s in the top 1 percent of the 3,000 forecasters now involved in the experiment, which means she has been classified as a superforecaster, someone who is extremely accurate when predicting stuff like: Will there be a significant attack on Israeli territory before May 10, 2014? In fact, she’s so good she’s been put on a special team with other superforecasters whose predictions are reportedly 30% better than intelligence officers with access to actual classified information. Rich and her teammates are that good even though all the information they use to make their predictions is available to anyone with access to the Internet.

America, Why Are You Naming All Your Boys Like This? [Robert T. Gonzalez on io9] – RW

The rise in popularity of boys’ names that end in “n” has been unprecedented. In 2009, baby name expert Laura Wattenberg told the New York Times that “n” has managed to achieve terminal-letter-ascendancy in a matter of decades, “[taking] over in a way that no ending has taken over before, for boys.”…At the time of her 2009 NYT interview, Wattenberg called the rise of the terminal-n “historically bizarre.” It’s only gotten weirder. Since 2011, four of the 10 most popular names for baby boys have ended in “n.” A full 36% of boys’ names now end in the letter.

Daytime Napping Linked to Increased Risk of Death [Robert T. Gonalez on io9]

The study, led by University of Cambridge epidemiologist Yue Leng, looked at the associations between daytime napping and mortality in a survey of over 16,000 British men and women. Their findings suggest that daytime nappers are nearly a third more likely to die before they turn 65 (even after they accounted for things like sex, social class, smoking status, and more)…Leng and the other authors of the present study note that “the exact mechanisms of these associations remain unknown,” but previous investigations into the link between napping and increased mortality have found daytime sleepiness to be associated with poor sleep hygiene, which itself is linked to a whole slew of other problems cardiovascular, respiratory and metabolic in nature.

Newly Released Color Films Show The Utter Devastation Wrought By WW2 [George Dvorsky on io9]

The Hoover Institution has just release five reels of recently restored color films taken by lieutenant colonel William P. Miller from 1943 to 1945. They provide a rare and disturbingly real glimpse into the era, including shots of the battle-scarred cities at the center of the conflict. The films, which were made possible by a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation, include shots taken in North Africa, Germany, and Austria.

That Time The CIA And Howard Hughes Tried To Steal A Soviet Submarine [Mark Strauss on io9]

Recently declassified documents reveal new details about Project AZORIAN: a brazen, $800-million CIA initiative to covertly salvage a Soviet nuclear submarine in plain sight of the entire world.

The U.S. has treated Russia like a loser since the end of the Cold War. [Jack F. Matlock, ambassador to the U.S.S.R. from 1987 to 1991, via The Washington Post]

Because the collapse of the Soviet Union happened so soon afterward, people often confuse it with the end of the Cold War. But they were separate events, and the former was not an inevitable outcome of the latter. Moreover, the breakup of the U.S.S.R. into 15 separate countries was not something the United States caused or wanted. We hoped that Gorbachev would forge a voluntary union of Soviet republics, minus the three Baltic countries. Bush made this clear in August 1991 when he urged the non-Russian Soviet republics to adopt the union treaty Gorbachev had proposed and warned against “suicidal nationalism.” Russians who regret the collapse of the Soviet Union should remember that it was the elected leader of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, who conspired with his Ukrainian and Belarusian counterparts to replace the U.S.S.R. with a loose and powerless “commonwealth.” Even after the U.S.S.R. ceased to exist, Gorbachev maintained that “the end of the Cold War is our common victory.” Yet the United States insisted on treating Russia as the loser.

Lavender-Filled Teddy Bears From Tasmania Are a Big Hit in China [Dinny McMahon on The Wall Street Journal]

Voracious demand from Chinese tourists for luxury goods to give as gifts or to sell at a markup back home often threatens to clear the shelves of major brands in France. Gucci stores in Paris sometimes limit the number of bags customers can buy per passport to ensure supply. Karicare, a brand of milk powder made from New Zealand goats’ milk that sells in Australia and New Zealand, has quadrupled production to 20,000 tons over the last three years to meet demand from Chinese consumers, some of whom are reselling online in China. Even that might not be enough. The company, a unit of Group Danone, says on its website that due to “unprecedented demand” it cannot find enough high quality goats milk. The craze for Bobbie the teddy bear has come with all the attendant effects of a China boom. Bridestowe sells Bobbie for about $48.50 or about 300 yuan, up from about $23 five years ago, after raising the price five times. In China, online retailers currently sell them for about 400 yuan, up from 300 only a few months ago. But, Mr. Ravens said, many are knockoffs; his authorized distributor estimates 100,000 fakes have been sold online. Three online retailers reached in China all said they were selling authentic Bobbie Bears…Bridestowe stuffed 30,000 bears last year—up from 3,500 in 2011 and 7,500 in 2012—and expects to double production this year, using a full ton of lavender for stuffing, rather than for aromatic oils, its traditional use.

SABMiller’s Hero Taps Into Biafra Nostalgia in Nigeria [Dulue Mbachu on Bloomberg]

At the Estate Sports Club in the southeastern Nigerian city of Onitsha, men troop up to the open-air bar and order a bottle of “Oh Mpa,” the local name for SABMiller Plc’s Hero beer. Oh Mpa means “Oh Father” in Igbo, the language of the area, and is widely regarded as referring to the late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, who led a failed attempt to secede from Nigeria in the 1960s and set up an independent nation of Biafra that sparked a 30-month civil war. With its Hero bottles bearing the rising sun that appeared on the Biafran flag, SABMiller is tapping into the area’s nationalism.

Run The Jules: Your Guide To The USMNT’s Newest (Maybe?) Star [Billy Haisley on Deadspin]

So, what can we expect? If he’s not a lock for the World Cup—and Klinsmann has denied promising Green a ticket to Brazil in exchange for his commitment—he at least has a good shot at making the trip. Just by scoring 15 goals in 22 games for the Bayern reserve squad playing in the German fourth tier and training with Bayern proper, he’s done more than Brek Shea, who’s back on Stoke’s bench after getting booted from his loan team. And what USMNT fan wouldn’t rather see Green’s number held up to sub off a tired Graham Zusi rather than that of Joe Corona? The most important factor in Green’s World Cup bid might be the response of other USMNT players. Don’t forget, it wasn’t too long ago that anonymous players were complaining about Klinsmann’s leadership style and the American, Mexican, and German factions in the side failing to coalesce. While the team overcame those issues to finish a historic qualifying campaign, they might not take too well to a long-time World Cup hopeful like Brad Evans being left home for some Jürgen-come-lately who hasn’t proven his ability on any level. It sounds like the other players were welcoming when Green was last in camp, though, and despite any potential misgivings, those guys have to be as intrigued with talent like his as we are.

The less Americans know about Ukraine’s location, the more they want U.S. to intervene [political scientists Kyle Dropp (Dartmouth College), Joshua D. Kertzer (Harvard University) and Thomas Zeitzoff (Princeton University) via The Washington Post]

Does it really matter whether Americans can put Ukraine on a map? Previous research would suggest yes: Information, or the absence thereof, can influence Americans’ attitudes about the kind of policies they want their government to carry out and the ability of elites to shape that agenda. Accordingly, we also asked our respondents a variety of questions about what they thought about the current situation on the ground, and what they wanted the United States to do. Similarly to other recent polls, we found that although Americans are undecided on what to do with Ukraine, they are more likely to oppose action in Ukraine the costlier it is — 45 percent of Americans supported boycotting the G8 summit, for example, while only 13 percent of Americans supported using force. However, the further our respondents thought that Ukraine was from its actual location, the more they wanted the U.S. to intervene militarily. Even controlling for a series of demographic characteristics and participants’ general foreign policy attitudes, we found that the less accurate our participants were, the more they wanted the U.S. to use force, the greater the threat they saw Russia as posing to U.S. interests, and the more they thought that using force would advance U.S. national security interests; all of these effects are statistically significant at a 95 percent  confidence level. Our results are clear, but also somewhat disconcerting: The less people know about where Ukraine is located on a map, the more they want the U.S. to intervene militarily.

Why UPS Trucks Don’t Turn Left [Alex Mayyasi on Priceonomics]

In 2004, UPS announced a new policy for its drivers: the right way to get to any destination was to avoid left-hand turns…UPS engineers found that left-hand turns were a major drag on efficiency. Turning against traffic resulted in long waits in left-hand turn lanes that wasted time and fuel, and it also led to a disproportionate number of accidents. By mapping out routes that involved “a series of right-hand loops,” UPS improved profits and safety while touting their catchy, environmentally friendly policy. As of 2012, the right turn rule combined with other improvements — for the wow factor, UPS doesn’t separate them out — saved around 10 million gallons of gas and reduced emissions by the equivalent of taking 5,300 cars of the road for a year.

Small Slice of Doctors Account for Big Chunk of Medicare Costs [Christopher Weaver, Tom McGinty and Louise Radnofsky on The Wall Street Journal]

A tiny sliver of doctors and other medical providers accounted for an outsize portion of Medicare’s 2012 costs, according to an analysis of federal data that lays out details of physicians’ billings. The top 1% of 825,000 individual medical providers accounted for 14% of the $77 billion in billing recorded in the data. The long-awaited data reveal for the first time how individual medical providers treat America’s seniors—and, in some cases, may enrich themselves in the process. Still, there are gaps in the records released by the U.S. about physicians’ practice patterns, and doctors’ groups said the release of such data leaves innocent physicians open to unfair criticism. (Search Medicare payments to providers in 2012.) Medicare paid 344 physicians and other health providers more than $3 million each in 2012. Collectively, the 1,000 highest-paid Medicare doctors received $3.05 billion in payments. One-third of those top-earning providers are ophthalmologists, and one in 10 are radiation oncologists. Both specialties were singled out in a late 2013 report by the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services urging greater scrutiny of doctors who consistently receive large Medicare payments.

See also: Doctor-Pay Trove Shows Limits of Medicare Billing Data [Christopher Weaver, Melinda Beck and Ron Winslow on The Wall Street Journal]

Number of Home Owners Lower than 2006 [Tom Lawler via Calculated Risk]

One of the most striking statistics is the number of US home owners: There were fewer US home owners in 2013 than there were in 2006, despite a 7% increase in the 15+ year old population!

Baseball, Hot Dogs And Income Inequality [Nick Colas on Covergex via Zero Hedge]

The concept of inequality on America seems to hit closer to home when it is apparent in the nation’s greatest pastime. Indeed, the most expensive tickets to a MLB game in the most equal cities in the U.S. cost 15.5 times more than the cheapest seats to the same game. Among the most unequal cities in the country, the spread is significantly larger at 26.4 times. Going to a baseball game is uniquely American, and the good news is that the low-end tickets are still affordable. Prices for high-end seats, however, are skyrocketing as franchises build new stadiums with state-of-the-art amenities when and where they know they can charge exorbitant rates – and this is most evident in cities where inequality is higher than the national average.

Curiously Strong Remains:

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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.

 

18
Mar
14

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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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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04
Feb
14

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 Al.com]

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:

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