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 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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