Roundup – Social Networking

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Line o’ the Day:

“Pain is a terribly lonely, isolating thing. It’s like depression, only it comes armed.” – Big Daddy Drew, This Is What Happens When Your Back Turns To Mush [Deadspin XY]

Best of the Best:

It’s Okay To Love Your TV More Than Your Children [Deadspin XY]

U.N. Millennium Development Goals: Foreign Aid v. Economic Freedom [Heritage Foundation]

But Professor Roberts reports that the foreign aid spending rarely generated any sustained prosperity. The money was spent and then it was gone—no multipliers materialized because the economies in the countries receiving the aid are fundamentally broken. They suffer from inefficient governments, corrupt practices, and stagnant labor markets. The influx of development assistance did not create economic growth; it merely stimulated rent-seeking behavior by the politically well-connected.  Research by New York University economist William Easterly finds that, while humanitarian aid has improved disease prevention in developing countries, foreign aid for African agriculture has been a failure (crop yields have decreased or stagnated over the past 40 years) and development assistance programs in general have not mitigated the effects of corruption. As a result, Easterly concludes, foreign aid programs often weaken governance.

Eat Pray Love [The Guardian]

Sit, watch, groan. Yawn, fidget, stretch. Eat Snickers, pray for end of dire film about Julia Roberts‘s emotional growth, love the fact it can’t last for ever. Wince, daydream, frown. Resent script, resent acting, resent dinky tripartite structure. Grit teeth, clench fists, focus on plot. Troubled traveller Julia finds fulfilment through exotic foreign cuisine, exotic foreign religion, sex with exotic foreign Javier Bardem. Film patronises Italians, Indians, Indonesians. Julia finds spirituality, rejects rat race, gives Balinese therapist 16 grand to buy house. Balinese therapist is grateful, thankful, humble. Sigh, blink, sniff. Check watch, groan, slump.

GDP Growth: Do We Need It? [Jack Hough on Smart Money]

Violent hurricanes are good for the economy. So are cancer, divorce and war. Vegetable gardens are an obstacle to growth, along with stay-at-home parents, plump savings accounts and fuel-efficient cars.

People of the book: The true history of the Koran in America [The Boston Globe]

The book known as Adams 281.1 is a copy of the Koran, from the personal collection of John Adams. There is nothing particularly ornate about this humble book, one of a collection of 2,400 that belonged to the second president. But it tells an important story, and reminds us how worldly the Founders were, and how impervious to the fanaticisms that spring up like dandelions whenever religion and politics are mixed. They, like we, lived in a complicated and often hostile global environment, dominated by religious strife, terror, and the bloodsport of competing empires. Yet better than we, they saw the world as it is, and refused the temptation to enlarge our enemies into Satanic monsters, or simply pretend they didn’t exist.
As Chinese real-estate prices deflate slowly now, and faster in 2012, the economy will hold up. Exports, consumption and infrastructure should sustain a 7 percent to 8 percent growth rate for the next decade. That seems low compared with recent years, but it will be much better for lifting wages, household living standards and corporate profits.
Bank executives say their customers don’t want loans, even at low interest rates, because the sluggish economy has chilled expansion plans. Some say the federal money isn’t worth it because they fear it will come with too much regulatory oversight…Ninety-one percent of small business owners surveyed in August by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) said all their credit needs were met. Only 4 percent cited a lack of financing as their top business problem. Plans for capital spending were at a 35-year low.
Hitting bookstores (and Urban Outfitters, of course) today is The Snuggie Sutra—based on the blog of the same name—an illustrated guide to sexual positions using the innovative technology of a blanket with sleeves.
Olialia is run and staffed by blonde women, and already operates in 75 different business sectors, making products from computer software and food products to pop music. Olialia’s blonde managing director, Giedre Pukiene, says she wants to break the stereotype that blonde women are less intelligent.
It all depends on how you interpret human/cyborg love. Is it about romancing a version of ourselves, only perfected? Or is it about achieving erotic union with a creature who is completely alien, though covered Terminator-style in human skin?
Germany will finally clear its First World War debt by repaying nearly £60million this weekend.  The £22billion reparations were set by the Allied victors – mostly Britain, France and America – as compensation and punishment for the 1914-18 war.  The reparations were set at the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919, by the Allied victors – mostly Britain, France and America.
The financial industry was lobbying vigorously to weaken the Volcker rule. Shortly before dinnertime on Wednesday, a Capitol Hill staffer called Volcker’s chief of staff, Anthony Dowd, a former investment banker, to let him know that Senator Christopher Dodd, the head of the Banking Committee, had released a new compromise proposal. The Democratic leadership needed the vote of Scott Brown, the freshman senator from Massachusetts, who had demanded changes that would please the big financial firms, several of which are based in his state.
If polls are right and Republicans achieve a major win, it’s likely there will be more and deeper US air and land attacks into Pakistan. The Pentagon is convinced it can still defeat resistance by Taliban and its allies “if only we can go after their sanctuaries in Pakistan,” as one general told me.  Where have we heard this before? Why in Cambodia and Laos, that’s where, during the Vietnam War. Frustrated US commanders expanded the war into Cambodia and Laos to go after Communist base camps. The war spread; these two small nations were largely destroyed, but the war was ultimately lost.  Victory in war is achieved by concentration of forces, not spreading them ever thinner and wider.  But our imperial generals seem determined to blunder into a nation of 175 million hostile people without any clear strategy. Unable to subdue the Pashtun tribes of Afghanistan, they are now attacking the Pashtun tribes of Pakistan. America does not need more enemies.
After Mr. Michaels arrived, according to two people at the bar that night, he sat down and said, “watch this,” and offered the waitress $100 to show him her breasts. The group sat dumbfounded.  “Here was this guy, who was responsible for all these people, getting drunk in front of senior people and saying this to a waitress who many of us knew,” said one of the Tribune executives present.

Whimsical Remains:


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