Archive for January, 2011

24
Jan
11

Roundup – LBJ Orders Pants

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Line O’ the Day:

Ryan: Well, that was fun. Now, I gotta go get some chips.

Sanchez: Don’t use the car! The brake pedal is broken!

Ryan: Who the fuck uses the brake pedal?

– Big Daddy Drew, The Jets Stumble Upon A Saboteur [KSK]

Best of the Best:

When America feared and reviled Catholics [Sharon Davies via The Cleveland Plain Dealer]

[W]idely popular, openly anti-Catholic literature spilled from newsstands across the country, newspapers like Sen. Tom Watson’s Jeffersonian out of Atlanta and the Menace of Aurora, Mo., whose subscriptions dwarfed those of the largest newspapers in New York City and Chicago combined. Elections were won on promises to oust Catholics from positions of public trust. Only “true Americans” should hold such positions, went the warning, not Catholics who were loyal first to their religious leader in Rome.  A number of state legislatures were persuaded to take steps against the perceived threat as well, mirroring the anti-Catholic fear in their “convent inspection laws.” These laws, little remembered today, authorized the warrantless searches of Catholic buildings — convents, monasteries, rectories and churches — for weaponry and for young women supposedly seduced into the nunnery by Catholic lies.

Study Tying Vaccine to Autism Was ‘Fraud,’ U.K. Journal Says [Bloomberg]

A Lancet study linking vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella to autism was a fraud that endangered hundreds of thousands of children, according to a report in the British Medical Journal.  Each of the dozen cases included in the study led by Andrew Wakefield at the Royal Free Hospital in London and published in 1998 in the Lancet was misrepresented or altered, journalist Brian Deer wrote today in the BMJ. There’s “no doubt” the fraud originated with Wakefield, BMJ editors concluded after reviewing Deer’s work.

Don’t Mind the Gap: A defense of “May-December” marriages like Hugh Hefner’s. [Christopher Beam on Slate]

But the best reason not to hate May-December marriages is the same reason not to hate any marriage that’s not your own: What’s the point? In the case of marriages like Hugh Hefner’s, you’re arguing against an ancient biological imperative for men to marry women of child-bearing age, and the need for material security in which to raise those children. Likewise, there will always be young men who don’t want or already have children and who are attracted to older women. And anyway, even if it is a mistake, one partner is likely to expire before the marriage does.

This Is Why The BCS Eats A Pile Of Shit [Big Daddy Drew on Deadspin]

And there’s always some asshole at the end of these bowl games that pipes up, “Try telling these kids this game was meaningless!” First of all, who gives a shit what the kids think? I care about ME, the viewer. Secondly, I’ll happily tell them their win was meaningless. Your Rose Bowl win meant NOTHING, TCU. Because you got fucked in the end anyway. Thirdly, if you feel compelled to point out that the postseason game I just watched was NOT worthless, then something is really fucked up with your postseason.

Birds might actually be using quantum mechanics to find their way through the skies [Science News via io9]

The crucial bit is that the magnetic field might disrupt the entanglement between two electrons in a light-sensitive protein inside a robin’s eye. If that really is the case, it would be nothing short of amazing – in laboratory conditions, quantum entanglement has only been possible for about 80 microseconds at a time, and then only in ultra cold conditions close to absolute zero. But the research indicates robins can sustain entanglement for 100 microseconds while flying around at room temperature.

Government-created climate of fear [Glenn Greenwald on Salon]

This is the same reason for keeping Bradley Manning in such inhumane, brutal conditions despite there being no security justification for it:  they want to intimidate any future whistleblowers who discover secret American criminality and corruption from exposing it (you’ll end up erased like Bradley Manning).  And that’s also what motivates the other extra-legal actions taken by the Obama administration aimed at WikiLeaks — from publicly labeling Assange a Terrorist to bullying private companies to cut off ties to chest-beating vows to prosecute them:  they know there’s nothing illegal about reporting on classified American actions, so they want to thuggishly intimidate anyone from exercising those rights through this climate of repression.

Drunk scientists pour wine on superconductors and make an incredible discovery [Cornell via io9]

Yoshihiko Takano and other researchers at the National Institute for Materials Science in Japan were in the process of creating a certain kind of superconductor by putting a compound in hot water and soaking it for hours. They also soaked the compound in a mixture of water and ethanol. It appears the process was going well, because the scientists decided to have a little party. The party included sake, whisky, various wines, shochu, and beer. At a certain point, the researchers decided to try soaking the compound in the many, many liquors they had on hand and seeing how they compared to the more conventional soaking liquids.  When they tested the resulting materials for superconductivity, they found that the ones soaked in commercial booze came out ahead.

Swine flu gives its survivors supercharged immunity [Journal of Experimental Medicine via BBC News via io9]

The researchers say the uniqueness of the swine flu is what triggered this response. The immune system didn’t immediately know what to do with the virus, so it started creating lots of different antibodies based on its memory of other flu viruses it had previously encountered. By the time the immune system found the right antibodies to fight off the swine flu, enough had been created to ward off all other influenza variants as well. We don’t know yet whether the H1N1 vaccine also transferred these super immunity properties, although that’s next on the researchers’ to-do list.

2010 Finishes: Remembering those we have lost in 2010 [Cauliflower Alley Club]

After 33 years in wrestling, Donn had had his share of hard knocks, and out of the blue decided to retire during an Ontario tour. He shut down the fish business, relocated to sunny Hawaii, and spent a good retirement in spite of multiple surgeries arising out of the hard bumps of his ring years. His hips had been replaced then replaced again, spine operated on three times, shoulders repaired over and over, some 30-plus surgeries in all. In spite of that he took great pleasure in his 11,000 square foot property there, his state-of-the-art gym, and — in his own words, “there are no ex-Marines, only Marines” — regular Thursday visits to Kaneohe Marine Base, on the east side of Oahu. There, he was always welcomed especially warmly as one of the very few remaining survivors living in Hawaii, of the war in the Pacific.

Big Trouble in Tunisia for America’s Mideast Raj [Eric Margolis via LRC]

The US and France have always hailed Tunisia as a poster-boy for “moderation, stability, and democracy. ” Translation: 1. moderation: following orders from Washington and making nice to Israel; 2. stability: crushing all opposition, particularly Islamist-oriented parties, muzzling the media, and paving the way for US business; 3. democracy: holding fake elections every few years. The US media soft-soaped Ben Ali and gushed over Tunisia’s “moderate” virtues. They did the same for Egypt’s Anwar Sadat.

Three Mile Island, the Challenger Shuttle, and…Lehman Bros.?: Industrial accidents and financial disasters have a lot in common. [Tim Hartford on The Financial Times via Slate]

Another is Laurence Kotlikoff, an economist at Boston university, who has a proposal for “limited purpose banking”. Both Kay and Kotlikoff have taken the view that it is worth pursuing a simpler and less tightly coupled financial system for its own sake—in sharp contrast to the prevailing regulatory approach, which unwittingly encouraged banks to become larger and more complicated, and actively encouraged off-balance sheet financial engineering. I do not know whether Kay or Kotlikoff have the right answer. Normal accident theory suggests that they are certainly asking the right question.

Recession-related dreams on the upswing [The Los Angeles Times]

Despite the lack of hard scientific evidence, dream researchers think dreams could hold a trove of insights for people battered by the economy. Wakeful attention and overnight dreaming “are collaborative and interdependent,” says Cartwright. Both, she says, can help guide our behavior wisely.

The Anguish of a Team Divided [Jack Olsen on Sports Illustrated, July 29, 1968 via Deadspin]

A white player bristles at the nerve of Negroes who tell such tales out of school about the master race. “They say things like that about whites and then they want our respect!” he says. “Well, they won’t have our respect as long as they keep getting caught with white women. To me, that’s the worst offense there is: dating white girls. They’ll take a white girl out, and then they’ll stand up in a team meeting and say, ‘We demand your respect.’ And our Southern guys just hate ’em for it!”

The Case Against “The Case Against Lance Armstrong” [Tommy Craggs on Deadspin]

All this would be just another harmless tic of a sports media that exists in a perpetual state of violated innocence if the SI story weren’t also propping up the work of Jeff Novitzky. If you’re unfamiliar with Novitzky, he is the former IRS agent who didn’t exactly cover himself in glory the last time around but who is nevertheless heading up the FDA’s investigation into Armstrong. He has behaved far more atrociously than any cyclist poking himself with a needle, and he has done it with the implicit and explicit encouragement of a media that should be bird-dogging his every move. In another life, Novitzky would’ve been digging through Dalton Trumbo’s garbage. In this one, he has walked all over the best parts of the Bill of Rights in a flagrantly illegal raid of a drug testing facility and then very likely leaked the famous names harvested in that raid to certain eager reporters, which is also flagrantly illegal. This isn’t just about cheating in sports. There are real stakes. Thanks to Novitzky, and thanks to the Ninth Circuit cannibalizing itself, and thanks in no small part to the worst instincts of the Obama Administration, we’re now well on our way to an Information Age precedent governing plain-view searches that pretends there’s no difference between a dime bag on the kitchen table and the easily sorted cells of a spreadsheet. Madison wept.

Shackleton’s 100-year-old whiskey unearthed in Anarctica, soon to be drunk [Discovery via io9]

In 1908, a younger Shackleton was racing to get to the South Pole. He and his crew landed in Antarctica and set up a little hut to shelter the group and store supplies. Beneath the floor boards of the hut, they placed two crates of whiskey and two crates of brandy, neither of which they took back with them. Three bottles of the whiskey were found last year, and recently have been returned to Whyte and Mackay, the original manufacturer of the whiskey. Whyte and Mackay will give the bottles over to their master blender to be sniffed, tasted and tested. The bottles are over a hundred years old, manufactured in the late 1890s, and its makers believe that seeing how it held up after around a century at below 30 degrees celsius will be of great informational value.

A 34,000 year old bacteria has come back from the dead and is breeding [OurAmazingPlanet via io9]

Thirty-four millennia ago, some bacteria got trapped inside salt crystals in what is now Death Valley. These crystals were recently dug up and the bacteria freed from their hibernation…and then they started reproducing.

Applying U.S. principles on Internet freedom [Glenn Greenwald on Salon]

[I]t’s the Tunisia example that is most striking.  Virtually everyone is celebrating this triumph over oppression, with hopes that it can spark similar events in other nations in that region.  The causes of this uprising are complex and difficult to discern; it’s unclear how large of a role, if any, the WikiLeaks cables or Al Jazeera reports actually played in inspiring it.  But what is clear is that cables released by WikiLeaks — which, we should recall, were allegedly first obtained and disclosed by Bradley Manning — graphically detailed for the Tunisian citizenry the opulence and corruption of Tunisia’s U.S.-backed ruling family, and they were amplified by Al Jazeera.  By stark contrast, the U.S. Government — under both Bush and Obama — were steadfast supporters of this regime.

Whimsical 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.

The crucial bit is that the magnetic field might disrupt the entanglement between two electrons in a light-sensitive protein inside a robin’s eye. If that really is the case, it would be nothing short of amazing – in laboratory conditions, quantum entanglement has only been possible for about 80 microseconds at a time, and then only in ultra cold conditions close to absolute zero. But the research indicates robins can sustain entanglement for 100 microseconds while flying around at room temperature.
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10
Jan
11

Roundup – Man in a Blizzard

Line O the Day:

“By the way, I swear I did not write the following sentence.

There is this strange custom called a “Keg Stand” that all kids evidently do now.

No way! Keg… stands? WHAAA? That sounds kooky. I bet those kids do it with Ugg boots on. More stuff Peter learned with his two boys from Chugalug House:

A. These college kids belong to things called “frats,” which have strange letters hanging outside. Might be Russian.
B. Did you know they sometimes put alcohol in Jello shots? And I here I thought they were just a nice pick-me-up when you had the flu.
f. HOW DO I GET TO THE DINING HALL? THERE ARE NO ROAD SIGNS!

Think there’s a chemistry between Drew Brees and Reggie Bush?

I don’t know. For you see, chemistry is a mystery, not unlike the strange college ritual known as “boat racing,” which I’m told features no boats of any kind.”

– Big Daddy Drew, In Which Peter King Learns Of This Thing Called A “Keg Stand” [KSK]

Best of the Best:

Who is Ron Paul? [National Review]

Ron Paul speaks softly and carries Mises. The eccentric, famous, and infamous Texas congressman has a frail frame and a frailer voice. “I am not powerful, but my ideas are powerful,” he says. Everybody knows his name. Everybody talks about him. But nobody can agree as to who he is.

‘Doubling Up’ in Recession-Strained Quarters [New York Times]

As their money dwindled, Ms. Maggi and Mr. Wilson looked into shelters but discovered they would not be able to stay together as a family. It took Ms. Maggi a week to muster up the courage to ask her parents. “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” said Ms. Maggi, who has lived on her own since she was 18, working for most of that time and putting herself through community college. The young couple, however, have come to regret their decision, even as they concede they had no other choice.

What we have here is one of the great comeback stories in the history of competitive punctuation [The National Post]

On Twitter, the home of microbloggers, the octothorpe has a new career, reborn as the “hashtag.” Tweeters use hashtags to catalogue their tweets. Someone writing about Miles Davis, for instance, will tag his name #Miles. Anyone coming after will be able to find all the tweets dealing with Miles.

Boredom Enthusiasts Discover the Pleasures of Understimulation [The Wall Street Journal]

For seven hours on that Saturday, 20 speakers held forth on a range of seemingly dreary diversions, from “The Intangible Beauty of Car Park Roofs” and “Personal Reflections on the English Breakfast,” to “The Draw in Test Match Cricket” and “My Relationship With Bus Routes.” Meanwhile, some of the 200 audience members—each of whom had paid £15 (about $24) for a ticket—tried not to nod off.

Why the West Rules–For Now [Ian Morris via The Daily Beast]

The main lesson to draw from all this history is that tinkering with exchange rates and legislating against outsourcing will not stop the shift of wealth and power from West to East. The great question for the next generation is not how to stop geography from working: it is how to manage the process.

Predictions Of Today From 80 Years Ago [TechDirt]

And while Abnormal Use disagrees, I actually think physicist and Nobel laureate Arthur Compton’s prediction was pretty dead on: With better communication national boundaries will gradually cease to have their present importance. Because of racial differences a world union cannot be expected within eighty years. The best adjustment that we can hope for to this certain change would seem to be the voluntary union of neighboring nations under a centralized government of continental size.

Philippa Foot, Renowned Philosopher, Dies at 90 [The New York Times]

It was the Trolley Problem, however, that captured the imagination of scholars outside her discipline. In 1967, in the essay “The Problem of Abortion and the Doctrine of the Double Effect,” she discussed, using a series of provocative examples, the moral distinctions between intended and unintended consequences, between doing and allowing, and between positive and negative duties — the duty not to inflict harm weighed against the duty to render aid.  The most arresting of her examples, offered in just a few sentences, was the ethical dilemma faced by the driver of a runaway trolley hurtling toward five track workers. By diverting the trolley to a spur where just one worker is on the track, the driver can save five lives.  Clearly, the driver should divert the trolley and kill one worker rather than five.  But what about a surgeon who could also save five lives — by killing a patient and distributing the patient’s organs to five other patients who would otherwise die? The math is the same, but here, instead of having to choose between two negative duties — the imperative not to inflict harm — as the driver does, the doctor weighs a negative duty against the positive duty of rendering aid.  By means of such problems, Ms. Foot hoped to clarify thinking about the moral issues surrounding abortion in particular, but she applied a similar approach to matters like euthanasia.

‘Crash taxes’ are growing in popularity among cash-strapped California cities [Los Angeles Times]

One more good reason to drive safely in California: If you cause an accident, you may be on the hook to pay the police and firefighters who show up to help.  At least 50 cities in the state have adopted so-called crash-tax laws allowing local governments to seek reimbursement from insurance companies for the costs of sending public emergency crews to accident scenes. The fees can amount to hundreds or even thousands of dollars. If insurers don’t pay, cities can hire collection agents to seek payment from the motorists involved.

Leading conservatives openly support a Terrorist group [Glenn Greenwald on Salon]

Imagine if a group of leading American liberals met on foreign soil with — and expressed vocal support for — supporters of a terrorist group that had (a) a long history of hateful anti-American rhetoric, (b) an active role in both the takeover of a U.S. embassy and Saddam Hussein’s brutal 1991 repression of Iraqi Shiites, (c) extensive financial and military support from Saddam, (d) multiple acts of violence aimed at civilians, and (e) years of being designated a “Terrorist organization” by the U.S. under Presidents of both parties, a designation which is ongoing? The ensuing uproar and orgies of denunciation would be deafening.  But on December 23, a group of leading conservatives — including Rudy Giuliani and former Bush officials Michael Mukasey, Tom Ridge, and Fran Townsend — did exactly that.

Stanford Band Performs Before, Not During [MSNBC]

During a game with Notre Dame the Band’s show was entitled “The Irish, Why Must They Fight?” Using a crucifix as a baton got them banned from the campus.

Barry Melrose Needs A Beer, And Other Observations From The Behatted And Be-Styxed Winter Classic [Katie Baker on Deadspin]

The Caps and the Penguins may be the most heated of rivals, but outside the rink there was a hockey-first jolliness to most fans’ behavior. I particularly enjoyed Caps owner Ted Leonsis’s comment: “The highlight for me was two sections filled with Caps fans and Pens fans and they looked at each other and they started chanting ‘Flyers suck.’ It’s like they bonded around something.”

Upcoming NewSouth ‘Huck Finn’ Eliminates the ‘N’ Word [Publisher’s Weekly]

Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a classic by most any measure—T.S. Eliot called it a masterpiece, and Ernest Hemingway pronounced it the source of “all modern American literature.” Yet, for decades, it has been disappearing from grade school curricula across the country, relegated to optional reading lists, or banned outright, appearing again and again on lists of the nation’s most challenged books, and all for its repeated use of a single, singularly offensive word: “nigger.”  Twain himself defined a “classic” as “a book which people praise and don’t read.” Rather than see Twain’s most important work succumb to that fate, Twain scholar Alan Gribben and NewSouth Books plan to release a version of Huckleberry Finn, in a single volume with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, that does away with the “n” word (as well as the “in” word, “Injun”) by replacing it with the word “slave.”  “This is not an effort to render Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn colorblind,” said Gribben, speaking from his office at Auburn University at Montgomery, where he’s spent most of the past 20 years heading the English department. “Race matters in these books. It’s a matter of how you express that in the 21st century.”

Dave Barry’s Year in Review: Why 2010 Made Us Sick [Dave Barry via The Washington Post]

In other economic news, the first family, seeking to boost Gulf tourism, vacations in Panama City, where Obama, demonstrating that the water is perfectly safe despite the oil spill, plunges in for swim. Quick action by the Secret Service rescues him from the jaws of a mutant 500-pound shrimp sprouting what appear to be primitive wings. The first family hastily departs for Martha’s Vineyard to demonstrate that the water is also perfectly safe there.

Funny = Money [The New York Times]

As Principato put it, agents were encouraged to take a hands-off approach to their clients. Principato never figured out how to do that. Where other agents went home at night to their families, Principato stayed out with his clients, at comedy clubs, in backrooms, on tour, on the sets of movies and TV shows — even flying cross-country to bail them out of jail. Several of his clients speculated affectionately that they serve as Principato’s surrogate family. Referring to past clients like ex-girlfriends, he often uses the phrase “We were together,” as in, “We were together for X number of years.” When Jonah Hill left him recently to pursue his career without management, Principato told me three or four times how well he was taking it — before admitting that in fact, it had been one of the most painful events in his recent life and that he preferred not to discuss the subject any further.

If you want to live longer, then walk faster [JAMA via io9]

Your walking speed can tell a lot about you – including your life expectancy. Amazingly, your walking speed is just as good an indicator of how long you’ll live as your health history, smoking habits, and blood pressure combined.

Why are thousands of dead birds suddenly falling from the sky? [io9]

Some of the more fanciful interpretations have put these forward as signs of the Apocalypse, undoubtedly as the first act of some macabre play of bizarre death and destruction that will end in December 2012. But there are perfectly rational explanations for all of this. Still, I’ll warn you now – the explanations might be scientific, but they’re not exactly likely, and they sure as hell aren’t elegant or logically pleasing.

Whimsical 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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