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.

Whimsical Remains:

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