Archive for December, 2010

23
Dec
10

Roundup – “Celebrity” Christmas

Line O’ the Day:

You go to a Cosi, and the fuckers give you one scoop of buffalo chicken in your sandwich for eight bucks. THEY ARE FUCKERS. I’d give anything to waltz into a Cosi my folks owned, grab the scoop, and start eating the chicken right out of the fucking hotel pan in full view of the customers. Nothing would make me feel more powerful, because I am a very small man.” – Big Daddy Drew, “Has The President Ever Had Anal?” [Deadspin XY]

Best of the Best:

Weekend Winner: 70 Football Schools Not Named Temple [Barry Petchesky on Deadspin]

And therein is the best argument against the BCS. The defense that “one team would still be left out” in a playoff is ludicrous. No one’s going to weep for the school that just misses out on an eight-team playoff, just as no one’s weeping for the school that just missed out on a 70-team bowl system. But TCU, or whoever the undefeateds happen to be each year that don’t make the BCS Title Game? That’s very different.  So I’m quite cool with Temple not making a bowl, and not just because last year I froze my dick off in DC just to watch them lose to a .500 UCLA team. I said it last night, but it bears repeating: if you live and die with Temple football, you likely killed yourself long ago.

WikiLeaks cables: Saudi princes throw parties boasting drink, drugs and sex [The Guardian]

In what may prove a particularly incendiary cable, US diplomats describe a world of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll behind the official pieties of Saudi Arabian royalty.

Man Accidentally Shoots Self in Line at Mickey D’s [NBC Miami]

Ubeda was hospitalized Tuesday after he inadvertently shot himself in the leg as he was ordering breakfast at a McDonald’s in the Florida Keys.  Police said the 44-year-old from Tavernier didn’t realize he was shot, and left the fast food restaurant after the manager asked him to leave.

Report: Wikileaks cables show Texas company “helped pimp little boys to stoned Afghan cops” [The Houston Press via BoingBoing]

In the Houston Press, an extensive blog post untangling an alarming story from the state department cables: “another horrific taxpayer-funded sex scandal for DynCorp, the private security contractor tasked with training the Afghan police,” and apparent proof that the company procured male children for bacha bazi (“boy-play”) parties.

An Ex-General Drops a Bombshell: We Were Willing to Kill a U.S. Soldier to Start the Iraq War (VIDEO) [TV Squad]

General Shelton alleges that a cabinet member in the Clinton administration was willing to kill a U.S. pilot to provoke war with Saddam Hussein and Iraq.

WikiLeaks cable: Hollywood helping to stop the spread of terrorism [Yahoo!]

A cable dated May of 2009 states that American film and television programs are doing more to dissuade young Muslims from becoming jihadists than virtually anything else.

CNN Inexplicably Airs Dumb And Dumber Diarrhea Scene [Deadspin]

Right after a report on London student protests, there it was: Jeff Daniels loudly evacuating the contents of his bowels. Your move, FOX News.

H1N1 didn’t kill people. People killed people. [Nature Science via io9]

To be more specific, people’s immune response killed them. The virus was especially deadly to young and middle-aged adults because their immune systems were primed to kick into a fatal, antiviral overdrive.

Poisson’s Spot: The Greatest Burn in Physics [Multiple Sources via io9]

Poisson’s Spot is proof that even if you’re right about things, you can be humiliated forever. Find out why this physics concept has caused the name Siméon Poisson to live in infamy for almost 200 years.

White Guy Becomes Black Bank Robber With Super Realistic Hollywood Mask [Los Angeles Times via Gizmodo]

Last spring, a white Polish immigrant robbed several Ohio banks wearing a hyper-realistic Hollywood mask. To security cameras and witnesses, he looked like an undisguised black man. Which is why an innocent black guy was arrested for the crimes.

Is this the strangest, sexiest scientific paper ever written? [NCBI ROFL via io9]

If electrovaginogram isn’t the 2010 word of the year – hell, if it doesn’t become the official word of the 21st century – then there’s something deeply wrong with all of us.

Conan O’Brien’s list of DC superheroes that suck [Conan O’Brien via io9]

While on a tour of Warner Brother’s animation studios, Conan O’Brien took it upon himself to point out to the DC Comics animators which DC superheroes truly suck — with hilarious results. Sorry Bat Lash, Conan’s coming for you.

Nassim Taleb Imitates Kanye West [Eric Falkenstein on Falkenblog]

As to its flaws, it reminded me of one of my favorite aphorisms: “the man who early on regards himself as genius is lost.” He inverts the observation that geniuses are often misunderstood to the insight that misunderstood people are geniuses, and critics of such people are imbeciles who don’t even have the taste to appreciate genius. My criticisms are therefore consistent with him being right or wrong, but falsification is not symptomatic of punditry in general or Taleb in particular.

Ron Paul, Author of ‘End the Fed,’ to Lead Fed Panel [Bloomberg]

Representative Ron Paul, Texas Republican and author of “End the Fed,” will take control of the House subcommittee that oversees the Federal Reserve.

Iran’s Women: Canaries in the Coal Mine [Azar Nafisi via The Huffington Post]

Perhaps most intolerable for the regime was the huge presence of youth, the children of the revolution. The main difference between this generation and their parents was that young people have been jailed, flogged and tortured or, in the case of the 23-year-old Neda Agha Soltan, murdered, for their desire for freedom. Another example among many is Shiva Nazar Ahari, now 26, who has been protesting against the regime since she was 17, whose story is told below.

As Juarez Falls [The Nation]

These are the desolate remains of Riberas del Bravo, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Ciudad Juárez. The city, opposite El Paso, Texas, is the fulcrum of the US-Mexico borderline and the kernel of the war that rages throughout Mexico. Some 28,000 people have been killed—many of them with perverse cruelty—since President Felipe Calderón mobilized the Mexican military in December 2006.

Social media shapes new investment strategy [USA Today]

That’s the idea behind “mirrored investing,” an invention that could be one of the most dramatic experiments in the world of online investing since the ability to place trades over the Internet shook up the brokerage industry more than a decade ago.

The Best, Most Deranged Story About Gwar You’ll Ever Read [J. Bennett on Decibel Magazine via Deadspin XY]

Don’t ask how it came to this. It’s a long and painful story. But the bottom line is this: It’s 2pm on a Thursday, and Decibel is in Richmond, VA, smoking crack behind a Dumpster with GWAR front-cretin Oderus Urungus. [ed note – it only gets more NSFW from there]

The Great Recession vs. The Great Depression [The Atlantic]

According to a trove of early Gallup surveys compiled by the Roper Center, Americans in the 1930s were not nearly as down on government as we are today. They wanted more, not less, from Washington in the way of services and protection from the private market. Incredibly, despite their much deeper recession, Americans were more optimistic than we are today.

Richard Holbrooke dies: Veteran U.S. diplomat brokered Dayton peace accords [Rajiv Chandrasekaran on The Washington Post]

He underwent a 21-hour operation that ended on Saturday to repair his aorta.  As Mr. Holbrooke was sedated for surgery, family members said, his final words were to his Pakistani surgeon: “You’ve got to stop this war in Afghanistan.”

The physics experiment that will one day let you walk through walls [Physics World and Physics Review Letters via io9]

This isn’t a hologram or a projection. It’s not a way to trick the eye, or the way the brain processes images. It’s a way to manipulate incoming electromagnetic waves into not ‘seeing’ a gap in a physical barrier. That’s something new.

Cultural genome project mines Google Books for the secret history of humanity [Abundance Tapestry via io9]

The sheer scale of the enterprise is hard to imagine. This cultural genome is many thousands time larger than any previous corpus or database, including 4% of everything ever published. There’s a thousand times more letters in the cultural genome than there are DNA base pairs in the human genome. Writing the entire corpus out in a single line would reach to the Moon and back ten times over. It would take eighty years to read just the works from the year 2000, and that’s assuming you never stopped to eat, drink, or sleep.

Not Really “Made in China” [The Wall Street Journal]

Trade statistics in both countries consider the iPhone a Chinese export to the U.S., even though it is entirely designed and owned by a U.S. company, and is made largely of parts produced in several Asian and European countries. China’s contribution is the last step—assembling and shipping the phones.  So the entire $178.96 estimated wholesale cost of the shipped phone is credited to China, even though the value of the work performed by the Chinese workers at Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. accounts for just 3.6%, or $6.50, of the total, the researchers calculated in a report published this month.

Detroit paramedics fear they’re losing the battle to save lives [The Detroit News via Yahoo!]

Smith made his way to a man slumped in a chair in the back of the center. After a few furious moments trying to resuscitate him, Smith’s eyes wandered up and settled on the victim’s face. “Uncle Alvin?” he asked.  “I was lost and bewildered,” Smith recalled. “It’s bad out here. Real bad.”

Rock Bottoms and Bach [The Wall Street Journal]

The ultimate list comes from Connie Hamzy, of Little Rock, Ark., immortalized in song as “Sweet Connie.” She not only recalls who got away, like Grand Funk Railroad’s Mark Farner, who “became a Christian.” She also knows where she scored: e.g. Eddie Van Halen, “Suite 301 at the Ritz-Carlton in St. Louis.”

The Santa Claus of Christmas Songs [The Wall Street Journal]

What drives Mr. Gorodetsky most is his zeal for musical archeology—and evangelizing. “I’m not a musician. I don’t play an instrument. I can’t carry a tune. But I love music and I love sharing it,” he says. Longtime rocker Peter Wolf of the J. Geils Band, who has known Mr. Gorodetsky more than 30 years, describes the impulse: “For people who are beyond obsessed about music, the need to share it is almost like an emergency medical assist—it’s your duty to turn the other person on. If you don’t, they’ll die.”

The Doctor’s Dog Will See You Now [The Wall Street Journal]

Research shows that a few minutes of stroking a pet dog decreases cortisol, the stress hormone, in both the human and the dog. It also increases prolactin and oxytocin, hormones that govern nurturing and security, as well as serotonin and norepinephrine, neurotransmitters that boost mood. One study found that five minutes with a dog was as relaxing as a 20-minute break for hospital staffers.

Whimsical Remains:

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(so very wrong)

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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.

A 75,000-year-old human settlement may lurk beneath the Persian Gulf Evidence is mounting that the first human civilization outside of Africa probably evolved in what is now the Persian Gulf. Recent discoveries suggest that we’re about to find a fairly advanced civilization sunk beneath the waters of the Gulf.

Archaeologist Jeffrey Rose has published a paper in Current Anthropology where he argues that we’ll find some of the earliest human civilizations on Earth in what was once a fertile basin fed by clear streams and lush with greenery.

According to Live Science:

The Gulf Oasis would have been a shallow inland basin exposed from about 75,000 years ago until 8,000 years ago, forming the southern tip of the Fertile Crescent, according to historical sea-level records.

And it would have been an ideal refuge from the harsh deserts surrounding it, with fresh water supplied by the Tigris, Euphrates, Karun and Wadi Baton Rivers, as well as by upwelling springs, Rose said. And during the last ice age when conditions were at their driest, this basin would’ve been at its largest.

Then, about 8,000 years ago, melting ice sheets eventually led to a wetter climate that flooded the Persian Gulf basin. That is also the time when we begin to find incredibly well-developed civilizations on the Gulf shoreline – civilizations that seem to have sprung fully-formed, with advanced seafaring technologies, out of nowhere. Unless, of course, they came from sunken cities hidden beneath the Gulf waters.

Live Science continues:

The most definitive evidence of these human camps in the Gulf comes from a new archaeological site called Jebel Faya 1 within the Gulf basin that was discovered four years ago. There, Hans-Peter Uerpmann of the University of Tubingen in Germany found three different Paleolithic settlements occurring from about 125,000 to 25,000 years ago. That and other archaeological sites, Rose said, indicate “that early human groups were living around the Gulf basin throughout the Late Pleistocene.”

We’ll need underwater archaeologists to examine the Gulf more thoroughly to be sure that Rose’s theory is correct,

via Live Science and Current Anthropology

Send an email to Annalee Newitz, the author of this post, at annalee@io9.com.

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18
Dec
10

OBR – The Ballad of Rio T and Fat Elvis

Truth time in the trust tree: I just realized these trades happened this past week.  Why?  Because I am heavily disinterested in the baseball off-season until the Cardinals decide whether or not they’re signing Albert Pujols.  In any event, the team acquired two players of note, who likewise have histories with the team, albeit playing for rivals in the National League Central.

During the Astros-Cardinals rivalry of a few years ago, I personally never disliked Lance Berkman as much as say, Jeff Kent, Mike Lamb, Morgan HGH Endsberg and of course the diabolical Carlos Beltran.  Additionally in his favor, the nickname is “Fat Elvis”.  Writers seem to be going with “Big Puma” instead;  that’s bullshit.  You don’t kick a sobriquet like that to the curb anymore that you get rid of the best Halloween costume ever (NSFW language and implication in the clip below).

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But as for the other trade.  It’s solid to get something of value for the Blake Hawksworth experience, as Viva El Birdos pointed out (see below for articles), but I mean, come on…it’s Cubs douchehelmet Ryan Theriot!  Guhhhhh…

Enervating but not world-ending.  I’m less than happy that it displaces Brendan Ryan, who, while an atrocious hitter, provided some quality entertainment in the field.  It’s entirely possible he’s bipolar, making for dramatic television at times.  Better than Dan McLaughlin and Al Hrabowsky’s passive-aggression theater.

Whether it helps the team remains to be seen, but I find the El Birdos analysis sound on the deal, inasmuch as it probably doesn’t hurt the team.  I’m also finding it difficult to get behind this from an emotional standpoint, as I am a fragile teacup of anti-Cubs bitterness.  Because when the Cards were playing the Cubs, Theriot’s just the type who causes your eyes to narrow while muttering “fucking Theriot”.

Noted: it’s a very long way from Zambrano.

Viva El Birdos on the trades:

Also, should the Cubs by some act of Satan sign Albert Pujols, there’s a 99% chance I never watch baseball again.  That will be the day we know that our God has failed us.

I’m hedging here because I once stated I would burn my Rams’ jersey if they drafted Sam Bradford instead Ndamakong Suh.  That appears to be turning out well (although Bradford’s glass shoulder terrifies me) and I clearly did not make good on that threat (see teacup description earlier).  So pussywillow escape clauses it is!

As a coda to the Cardinals previous season, I have some stats.  DO NOT DISPUTE MY INFALLIBLE NUMBERS!  CAPITAL LETTERS!

Cardinals record against the four National League playoff teams:

  • Atlanta Braves: 6-2 (0.750)
  • Cincinatti Reds: 12-6 (0.667)
  • Philadelphia Phillies: 4-4 (0.500)
  • San Francisco Giants: 3-3 (0.500)
  • Combined: 25-15 (0.625)

Record against the five worst National League teams (yes, adding in the Astros skews this lower, as Houston was not among the worst four teams):

  • Pittsburgh Pirates: 9-6 (0.600)
  • Arizona Diamondbacks: 5-4 (0.556)
  • Washington Nationals: 3-3 (0.500)
  • Chicago Cubs: 6-9 (0.400)
  • Houston Astros: 5-10 (0.333)
  • Combined: 28-32 (0.467)

Even removing the Astros only raises the winning percentage to a game over 0.500–against the worst teams in the NL.  Yeesh.

I’ve played around with running even more statistics on the Roman orgy of statistics that is Major League baseball.  For hitters and pitchers, I did a relative comparison based on all qualifying players to make ESPN’s stat charts.  For any given stat, the comparison was the cumulative normal probability–basically all data points are plotted for a particular stat (e.g., batting average) as if the data sample conforms to a normal curve, with the probability of point A representing the chance a random point X would be below it.  This allows not only a ranking, but a magnitude comparison; that is, if a player’s stat is much better than his peers, it will show up as a higher number.  Since this is a probability, numbers will range between 0 and 1 for every stat.  Then the probabilities from every stat would be averaged to come up with a final score, which I multiplied by 100 to make easier to read.  Given higher probabilities mean that the player is above more players (and by a wider margin) in any given stat, a higher number is better.

I compared NL players only to NL players (likewise with the AL), since the comparison would be based on batters facing roughly the same pitching and fielding.  The result stat would also suffer from the assumption that  the data conforms to a normal distribution.  Moreover, it is a relative comparison, meaning a player would look better in any given year if his peers happened to perform poorly–that is, it’s not an absolute measure.  Finally, I also tried to take into account only those stats that the player had control over; for example, I didn’t use Wins for pitchers but rather adjusted them with sabermetric quality starts and tough losses.  In any event, the results are curious because of the number of Cardinals (highlighted in red) involved in some of the higher rankings.

Statistics Used to Compile Batting Score:

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Statistics Used to Compile Pitching Score:

Adjusted Win/Loss Percentage: (Wins – Cheap Wins)/[(Wins – Cheap Wins) + (Losses – Tough Losses)]

TLOSS %: Tough Losses/Total Losses

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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.

2B 3B AB/HR BA BB/K G/F H HR ISOP OBP OPS P/PA R RBI RC RC27 SECA SLG SO
05
Dec
10

Global Warble (part 3)

More on Anthropogenic Global Warming.  These articles begin roughly in the climate data scandal in the first few months of 2010 and run until December 2010:

Turning children into Orwellian eco-spies [Frank Furedi on Spiked]

Marxist Professors Are Gift to Climate Skeptics [Kevin Hassett on Bloomberg]

Where Did the Global Warming Go? The President Explains It For You… [Tim Cavanaugh on Reason]

My Position on Global Warming and Climate Change [David Crowe]

Scientists Considered Pouring Soot Over the Arctic in the 1970s to Help Melt the Ice – In Order to Prevent Another Ice Age [Washington’s Blog via Zero Hedge]

Climategate Update 1: The China Syndrome* [Ronald Bailey on Reason]

Hockey stick observed in NOAA ice core data [Watt’s Up With That?]

Climate Craziness of the Week – Why I’m a Pepsi* tea drinker now [Watt’s Up With That?]

The Climategate Timeline: 30 years visualized [Watt’s Up With That?]

The Rock That Vacuums Up Carbon Dioxide [Miller-McCune via io9]

The Settled Science [James P. Hogan via LRC]

Frozen Britain seen from above [BBC News]

U.N. panel: We erred on glacier warning [Associated Press via MSNBC]

Courts as Battlefields in Climate Fights [The New York Times]

Divide by Zero for Global Warming [Wendy McElroy]

Skeptics Find Fault With U.N. Climate Panel [The New York Times]

Ten reasons why examining climate change policy through an ethical lens is a practical imperative [Climate Progress]

I thought of killing myself, says climate scandal professor Phil Jones [The Sunday Times]

CRU’s Jones: Climate data ‘not well organised’ and MWP debate ‘not settled’ [Watt’s Up With That?]

Another Blizzard: What Happened to Global Warming? [Bryan Walsh on Time]

Climategate U-turn as scientist at centre of row admits: There has been no global warming since 1995 [The Daily Mail]

Underground Caves Suggest Climate Change Is Weirder Than We Thought [Science via io9]

Climate-Change Fervor Cools Amid Disputed Science [Bloomberg]

Climate Skepticism [Steven Novella on SkepticBlog]

Head of ‘Climategate’ research unit admits sending ‘pretty awful emails’ to hide data and Climate scientist admits sending ‘awful emails’ but denies perverting peer review

[The Daily Mail and The Guardian]

Ten Things You Can Do to Shrink Your Carbon Footprint [The Nation]

2009: The year climate change and global warming activists would like to forget [The Examiner]

Solar shield on agenda at climate summit [The Telegraph]

Scientists in stolen e-mail scandal hid climate data [Ben Webster and Jonathan Leake on The Sunday Times]

Beck’s Failure To Retract Global Warming Advocacy Provokes Online Firestorm [InfoWars]

Leading Global Warming Crusader: Cap and Trade May INCREASE CO2 Emissions [Washington’s Blog]

Avatar’s James Cameron: “Anybody that is a global-warming denier at this point in time has got their head so deeply up their ass I’m not sure they could hear me” [Climate Progress]

Global Warming Advocates Threaten Blizzard of Lawsuits [Fox News]

NASA Data Worse Than Climate-Gate Data, Space Agency Admits [Fox News]

Inquiry: Climate data not manipulated [MSNBC]

U.S. Issues Limits on Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Cars [The New York Times]

UN says case for saving species ‘more powerful than climate change’ [The Guardian]

Global warming started 15,000 years ago with uncontrolled mammoth hunting [Geophysical Research Letters via io9]

BP and Climate Change: An Inconvenient Non Sequitur [Civil Society Trust]

Climate Fears Turn to Doubts Among Britons [The New York Times]

Climate change: a collective flight from reality [Roger Helmer on The Washington Times]

The Climategate Whitewash Continues [Pat Michaels via The Wall Street Journal]

EcoAlert: “Could the Gulf Oil Spill Trigger a Cataclysmic Global Methane Bubble?” [The Daily Galaxy]

Climategate burned by reality [Gene Lyons on The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette via Slate]

Grantham: Everything You Need to Know About Global Warming in 5 Minutes [Jeremy Grantham via The Big Picture]

The Union of Concerned Propagandists [Alan Caruba’s Warning Signs]

Who Killed the Climate Bill? [Foreign Policy]

Dropping the ball on global warming [Andrew Leonard on Slate]

Climate change: It’s time to talk, and act, tough [Bill McKibben on The Los Angeles Times]

Greenland Glacier 4X Size of Manhattan Breaks Loose [University of Delaware via The Big Picture]

Sun’s Shifts May Cause Global Warming [Discover Magazine Interviews Henrik Svensmark]

Climate myths: Ice cores show CO2 increases lag behind temperature rises, disproving the link to global warming [The New Scientist]

United States Halts Gravy Train for British Global Warming Unit [The Canada Free Press]

Climate change data dumped [Jonathan Leake on The Sunday Times]

Mars Melt Hints at Solar, Not Human, Cause for Warming, Scientist Says [National Geographic News]

US physics professor: ‘Global warming is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life’ [Harold Lewis via The Telegraph]

University of East Anglia refused to share information on global warming [The Telegraph]

Government Weather Forecasting: A Corrupted Waste Of Time And Money [Dr. Tim Ball via Canada Free Press]

Can Geoengineering Help Slow Global Warming? [Time]

Earth’s climate could naturally jump 10 to 15 degrees – and there’s no way to predict it [Geophysical Research Letters on io9]

Debate sought over merits of Calif. climate law [Associated Press via Yahoo! News]

New climate change mitigation schemes could benefit elites rather than the rural poor [Watt’s Up With That?]

Lomborg Denies Global Warming Conversion – I Told You So [Ronald Bailey on Reason]

Glacier scientist: I knew data hadn’t been verified [The Daily Mail]

Old Farmer’s Almanac: Global cooling to continue [The Associated Press via Yahoo! News]

Rescuing Climate Science From Agenda-Driven Politics [Bill Frezza on Adams Capital Management via RealClearMarkets]

MIT op/ed says do “very little, if anything at all” on global warming [Watt’s Up With That?]

Global warming will kick the crap out of different hemispheres in different ways [Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States via io9]

IPCC Distortion Of Weather And Climate Is Reinforced By Media Hyperbole [Dr. Tim Ball via Canada Free Press]

A North-South Global Climate War? [Informed Comment]

Global warming is actually good for rainforests, say boffins [The Register]

Climate Change Math in Treaties Flawed by Suspect Calculations [Bloomberg]

Global warming could mean a golden age for tropical rain forests [Science via io9]

How to Change the Global Energy Conversation [Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger via The Wall Street Journal]

States Diverting Money From Climate Initiative [The New York Times]

Can the Climate Be Fixed? [Ronald Bailey on Reason]

Some Really Inconvenient Truths [Kurt Loader on Reason]

Cancun and Climate: Government Won’t Act, But Business Will [The Curious Capitalist on Time]

Mountaineer Photographs ‘Alarming’ Ice Loss Near Mt. Everest [Silber Studios]

Let Ethanol Subsidies Die [Ronald Bailey on Reason]

05
Dec
10

Roundup – Oprah Unleashes the Bees

Line O’ The Day:

Conservatives like tariffs at borders. They also like to send young Americans off to war. They like the idea of American greatness, and they define American greatness as the ability to stick guns in the bellies of foreigners. This has been true for 350 years, and it is not likely to change anytime soon. Conservatives will put up with taxation, economic intervention, and even a draft system that sends their sons off to die, as long as their sons get to wear a uniform, and as long as they are allowed to shoot foreigners.” – Gary North, “Sitting Ducks: Why the Tea Party Movement Is Vulnerable to Economic Charlatans, Ignoramuses, and Statists” [Gary North] [ed note – I disagree with North on a myriad of issues, not the least of which his Christian Reconstructionism, but he does have solid arguments at times]

The Federal Reserve Disclosures:

Fed May Be ‘Central Bank of the World’ After UBS, Barclays Aid [Bloomberg]

Fed Withholds Collateral Data, Denying Taxpayers Gauge of Risk [Bloomberg]

Best of the Best:

India Microcredit Faces Collapse From Defaults [Lydia Polgreen and Vikas Bajaj on The New York Times]

India’s rapidly growing private microcredit industry faces imminent collapse as almost all borrowers in one of India’s largest states have stopped repaying their loans, egged on by politicians who accuse the industry of earning outsize profits on the backs of the poor.

A history of zombies in America [Annalee Newitz on io9]

The early success of AMC series Walking Dead confirms it: Though zombies have been hot for a while, they are now officially the new vampires. Why do Americans love zombies, and what does it say about us?

How do you really know what time it is? [Annalee Newitz on io9]

One of the weirdest aspects of time perception is that your brain sees things much more slowly than it hears them. As van Wassenhove put it, “If you present a beep and a flash to somebody, then record from their cortex, you’ll find that activity in the visual area will respond 50 milliseconds later. But the auditory cortex responds 12 milliseconds later.” So your brain processes what you see more slowly than it processes what you hear. Nobody is sure why this is.

Warren Buffett’s Humbug [David Stockman on Minyanville]

If Warren Buffett wants to tarnish his golden years emitting the gushing drivel that appears in today’s New York Times, he has undoubtedly earned the privilege. But even ex cathedra pronouncements by the Oracle of Omaha are not exempt from the test of factual accuracy. Specifically, his claim that “many of our largest industrial companies, dependent upon commercial paper financing that had disappeared, were weeks away from exhausting their cash resources” is unadulterated urban legend. Nothing remotely close to this ever happened.

China’s State-Planned Economy Is Doomed to Flop [David Pauly on Bloomberg News]

China won’t collapse tomorrow. Its exports continue to flood the globe, earning it money to make major investments — and amass political clout — abroad. But don’t let so-called experts fool you into thinking China has discovered a new and better way to organize an economy. State-run capitalism is an oxymoron.

Crazy Old Coots Still Bemoaning Felix Hernandez’s Cy Young Award [Barry Petchesky on Deadspin]

Yes, writers are falling for “new-fangled” (I love the Montgomery Burns-esque practice of hyphenating words that don’t need it) statistics like ERA, and strikeouts. Clearly everyone’s been seduced by the machine!

‘I hated seeing my face in the mirror’ [BBC News]

But unlike most young men, Jono has Treacher Collins syndrome, a genetic disorder that affected the way his facial bones developed while he was in his mother’s womb.  The condition, which is thought to affect up to one in 10,000 babies in the UK, means he has no cheekbones – so his eyes droop downwards – and he has problems with his hearing, so has a bone-anchored hearing aid.  It has resulted in several operations, numerous hospital visits and his parents giving him up for adoption 36 hours after he was born.

Deputies: S.C. motel guest falls for phone prank, trashes room to find trapped ‘midget’ [WXII12.com via MSNBC]

Jones said the caller then said that a “midget” who was 4 feet 3 inches tall was barricaded in the room next to him and that he needed to help police get to him. With that, the report said, Jones took his wrench and began to break away the wallboard behind the room door. He broke through to the next room but then stopped due to complaints from other guests about the loud noises.

People will usually do the wrong thing…as long as it’s not too much work [Social Psychology and Personality Science via io9]

To test this idea, the researchers had subjects take a math test on the computer. Before the test, the subjects were informed of one of two glitches in the test. In one case, pressing the space bar would make the answers pop up. In the other, failing to press the enter key within five seconds would make the answers appear. Not surprisingly, the group that just had to sit back and let the answers appear was far more likely to cheat than their counterparts.

How Ma Bell Shelved the Future for 60 Years [Tim Wu via io9]

But why would company management bury such an important and commercially valuable discovery? What were they afraid of? The answer, rather surreal, is evident in the corporate memoranda, also unearthed by Clark, imposing the research ban. AT&T firmly believed that the answering machine, and its magnetic tapes, would lead the public to abandon the telephone.
As far as I’m concerned, the jury is still out on whether these machines are safe or even could be made safe for this application. Until then, I suggest keeping your family out of these machines and as vile as it is, either submit to a physical search or just don’t fly.

Before The Storm, After The Sunshine Band: The Prelude To Disco Demolition Night [Diane White Alexander Photography via Deadspin]

Our attention was brought to this collection of 35 rare photos taken prior to a Tigers/White Sox game on July 12, 1979. Not hours later, Comiskey Park would play host to the figurative end of the 70s, and the closest thing to a riot at an American sporting event since.

At Long Last, My Reunion With Red Meat [Big Daddy Drew on Deadspin]

ITALIAN SAUSAGE: I hugged it before I ate it. A+

Rejoice! Alcoholic Whipped Cream Is Here To Replace Four Loko [Boston Herald via Deadspin]

Four Loko will be gone from our (American) store shelves by Dec. 13. If you aren’t going to make your own, and you insist on consuming grain alcohol in a gimmicky fashion, there is another option: hooch-heavy whipped cream.

Road to Las Vegas: a modern-day Grapes of Wrath [Jason Massot via The Guardian]

The moral dilemmas intensified. After three years of filming, the recession hit and Vanessa lost her house and her job. I had to film scenes of her kids going hungry, knowing that, if I just gave them 10 bucks, they could eat. Vanessa understood that I had to get the story: in effect, she gave me permission temporarily to lose my humanity. The recession finally gave me a clear sense of the story, though. My film became an account of the boom and bust years, told through the experience of one family, and all played out under the neon of Vegas, where fortunes are won and lost every night.

In defence of WikiLeaks [Will Wilkinson via The Economist]

To get at the value of WikiLeaks, I think it’s important to distinguish between the government—the temporary, elected authors of national policy—and the state—the permanent bureaucratic and military apparatus superficially but not fully controlled by the reigning government. The careerists scattered about the world in America’s intelligence agencies, military, and consular offices largely operate behind a veil of secrecy executing policy which is itself largely secret. American citizens mostly have no idea what they are doing, or whether what they are doing is working out well. The actually-existing structure and strategy of the American empire remains a near-total mystery to those who foot the bill and whose children fight its wars. And that is the way the elite of America’s unelected permanent state, perhaps the most powerful class of people on Earth, like it.

Harry Truman and the Atomic Bomb [Ralph Raico via The Mises Institute]

But even remaining within the limits of feasible diplomacy in 1945, it is clear that Truman in no way exhausted the possibilities of ending the war without recourse to the atomic bomb. The Japanese were not informed that they would be the victims of by far the most lethal weapon ever invented (one with “more than two thousand times the blast power of the British ‘Grand Slam,’ which is the largest bomb ever yet used in the history of warfare,” as Truman boasted in his announcement of the Hiroshima attack). Nor were they told that the Soviet Union was set to declare war on Japan, an event that shocked some in Tokyo more than the bombings.[19] Pleas by some of the scientists involved in the project to demonstrate the power of the bomb in some uninhabited or evacuated area were rebuffed. All that mattered was to formally preserve the unconditional-surrender formula and save the servicemen’s lives that might have been lost in the effort to enforce it. Yet, as Major General J.F.C. Fuller, one of the century’s great military historians, wrote in connection with the atomic bombings: Though to save life is laudable, it in no way justifies the employment of means which run counter to every precept of humanity and the customs of war. Should it do so, then, on the pretext of shortening a war and of saving lives, every imaginable atrocity can be justified.

A Former NFLer On “Laughing” Derek Anderson And The Football Robot Blowhards [Nate Jackson via Deadspin]

Instead, a grown man was provoked into losing his cool and dropping shitbombs all over the airwaves. So now the manufactured perception is that the quarterback not only doesn’t give a fuck about his team losing, but that he can’t keep his cool either. So let’s run his ass out of town because a couple of emotionally stunted football pedants can’t relax and laugh it off.

Lobsters Caught in China Smuggling Crackdown [The Wall Street Journal]

Lobster is the most valuable Australian seafood export, with Hong Kong and China accounting for more than 80% of the total value of live lobster exports at A$265 million in 2007-08. Lobster is also exported frozen, cooked and as tails. Japan and Taiwan are also important markets. Mr. Treloggen said the Australian industry has “obviously done something to upset the Chinese” but what that is remains a mystery. “There’s no formal banning of the product.”

Monetizing the Celebrity Meltdown [Benjamin Wallace on New York Magazine]

Barrack built his fortune making deals, and in some ways, Neverland began as just another one—a contrarian bet on a troubled asset, an operating business backed by real estate. Only in this case, the operating business was a person. Colony would bail Jackson out of his substantial debt; in return, the firm would assume ownership of Neverland, and Jackson, after a thirteen-year hiatus, would go back to work to generate new revenue. Jackson’s death, before he could carry out a planned comeback tour, turned the transaction into more of a straightforward real-estate play: Colony is fixing up Neverland and plans to sell it, at some point, for a profit. But after doing the Jackson deal, Barrack and his team began to wonder whether they might have stumbled on a whole new class of investment: the distressed celebrity.

Unemployed, and Likely to Stay That Way [The New York Times]

“After a while, a lot of European countries just got used to having 8 or 9 percent unemployment, where they just said, ‘Hey, that’s about good enough,’ ” said Gary Burtless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “If the unemployment rates here stay high but remain relatively stable, people may not worry so much that that’ll be their fate this month or next year. And all these unemployed people will fall from the front of their mind, and that’s it for them.”

Nashville billboards claim Jesus will return May 21, 2011 [The Tennessean]

And 171 days left until Jesus’ second coming.  That’s the message on 40 billboards around Nashville, proclaiming May 21, 2011, as the date of the Rapture. Billboards are up in eight other U.S. cities, too.  Fans of Family Radio Inc., a nationwide Christian network, paid for the billboards. Family Radio’s founder, Harold Camping, predicted the May date for the Rapture.

How Pat Summitt Ruined The Best Thing About Women’s Basketball [Emma Carmichael on Deadspin]

It has been nearly four years since the two most successful programs in women’s basketball, UConn and Tennessee, last played each other. For that, we can thank two most successful coaches in women’s basketball, Geno Auriemma and Pat Summitt.

Everything you need to know about NASA’s “completely new form of life” [Science via io9]

The scientists then studied the microbes, and they discovered arsenic was found on a band of the genomic DNA. They isolated this section and found that arsenic wasn’t just stuck on top of the DNA – it had actually replaced the role of phosphorus. Arsenic had substituted for phosphorus as the backbone of the microbe’s DNA, fulfilling one of life’s most critical functions.  It’s difficult to overstate the importance of this discovery – these microbes are doing something fundamentally different from all other life on Earth.

John Salley Story Corner: Don’t Leave Your Sex Tape Next To The Answering Machine [John Salley via Deadspin]

I had a tape recorder next to my answering machine. She had pushed play on the tape recorder.

The gorgeous geek genius who helped invent the cell phone [io9]

Fans wanted to see her as a fantasy object; either performing as what they wanted or who they wanted to be. She juggled her career with motherhood, but as the constrictions grew, she left Hollywood.  Perhaps it was those restrictions that made Hedy an inventor, or perhaps it was just her intellectual curiosity. Either way, Hedy was inventing things, big and small, right up until she died. There were many utilitarian, small inventions, like a box of tissues that had its own pocket to store used tissues in. And then there was the showstopper: With musician George Antheil, she patented the ‘secret communication system’ in 1942. The frequency hopping, spread-spectrum invention allowed its users to manipulate radio frequencies. The earliest one used a piano roll to guide the hopping between frequencies. In World War II, it was used to keep torpedoes from being detected or manipulated by enemy forces.

Steve Buscemi, the Wrestler [Los Angeles Times]

Buscemi, raised in a blue-collar family on Long Island, worked as a firefighter in New York City‘s Little Italy while he took classes at the Lee Strasberg Institute, following an inclination he’d had since childhood. His father, a sanitation worker, encouraged him, as did his comrades at Engine Co. 55.

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