Archive for July, 2011


Roundup – Opinions and Cats

Splitscreen: A Love Story from JW Griffiths on Vimeo.

Line O’ the Day:

Opinions are like nipples, everybody has one. Some have firm points, others are barely discernible through layers, and some are displayed at every opportunity regardless of whether the audience has stated “I am interested in your nipples” or not. Cats have nineteen. As people can only provide unbiased opinions about things they have no interest in, your zealous fervour regarding cats is understood but misdirected. At no time have I ever “fantasized about torturing and killing cats.” This is an assumption you have made and I am puzzled to its origin. Are you referring to the article titled David and his best friends spend a day at the beach on page 116? I have attached an excerpt.

– David Thorne, Opinions are like nipples. Everybody has one. [27b/6]

Best of the Best:

NBC Apologizes For Not Baiting Commies Or Something [Tommy Craggs on Deadspin]

The whole thing was so nut-punchingly patriotic it’s a wonder we didn’t see an eagle soaring above the fairway at 10 with Luke Donald’s hair on its talons. It was tacky and stupid, and in a sane world the only people who would be angry today are the handful of fans tired of seeing their sports wrapped in bunting. This is not that world.

Ex-Spy Alleges Bush White House Sought to Discredit Critic [James Risen on The New York Times]

Glenn L. Carle, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer who was a top counterterrorism official during the administration of President George W. Bush, said the White House at least twice asked intelligence officials to gather sensitive information on Juan Cole, a University of Michigan professor who writes an influential blog that criticized the war. In an interview, Mr. Carle said his supervisor at the National Intelligence Council told him in 2005 that White House officials wanted “to get” Professor Cole, and made clear that he wanted Mr. Carle to collect information about him, an effort Mr. Carle rebuffed. Months later, Mr. Carle said, he confronted a C.I.A. official after learning of another attempt to collect information about Professor Cole. Mr. Carle said he contended at the time that such actions would have been unlawful.

This Is Easily The Most Amazing Video Of The Vancouver Riots [North Studio 360 via Deadspin]

Did you know 360° video was a thing? It is. And it’s awesome. Time to relive the Canucks riots with full visual immersion.

A Drug-War Plan Goes Awry [Mary Anastasia O’Grady on The Wall Street Journal]

One of the frightening things about the U.S. government’s war on drugs is that it is being waged by federal bureaucracies. The legend of Elliot Ness notwithstanding, this implies that it is not only fraught with ineptitude but that before it is all over, there are going to be a lot of avoidable deaths. Witness “Operation Fast and Furious,” a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms plan that allegedly facilitated the flow of high-powered weapons into Mexico in the hope that it might lead to the take-down of a major cartel. It did not. But it may have fueled a spike in the murder rate and led to the death of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.

State Mulls Amends for Sterilizations [Wall Street Journal]

North Carolina is among more than 30 states that once sanctioned eugenics; the vast majority of the victims were sterilized either forcibly or with inadequate consent. The eugenics movement, which gained popularity in the early part of the 20th century, called for sterilizing some Americans who were deemed socially or intellectually unfit. But North Carolina was the rare state that accelerated its program after World War II, amid a backlash against the eugenics practices of Nazi Germany. The program continued through 1974, far later than other states, and North Carolina now estimates that 7,600 people were sterilized under the auspices of its eugenics board. State statisticians say nearly 3,000 of those sterilized may still be alive, with many people aged 70 or older.

People under surveillance are more likely to condemn “bad behavior” in others [Robert T. Gonzalez on io9 with a bump from Evolutionary Psychology]

When people believe they are being watched, they become more judgmental of others’ behavior. Especially if they believe others are acting outside social norms or morals. Will our surveillance societies create a generation of moralists?

Peter King Is Really Looking Forward To His Vacation [Big Daddy Drew on KSK]

The Steelers have a core of veteran stars; Tiki Barber would fit right in.

MIKE TOMLIN: Hey guys, I want you to welcome Tiki Barber! He cheated on his wife and badmouthed his teammates!

PLAYERS: Booooooooo!

MIKE TOMLIN: But he promises to hit late!

PLAYERS: Yayyyyyyyyyyyy!

In a truly modern society, women sleep around just as much as men do [Joris Lammers on Association of Psychological Science via Slate via io9]

A group of researchers in the Netherlands surveyed a cross-section of 1561 professionals, comparing the sexual infidelities of men and women who identified themselves as having similar careers and similar amounts of power. What the scientists found was that powerful people cheat on their spouses, regardless of gender.

10 Psychological States You’ve Never Heard Of — And When You Experienced Them [Annalee Newitz on io9]

We’ve gotten into some pretty philosophical territory, so now it’s time to return to some good, old-fashioned internet memes. The word compersion was popularized by people in online communites devoted to polyamory and open relationships, in order to describe the opposite of feeling jealous when your partner dates somebody else. Though a monogamous person would feel jealous seeing their partner kiss another person, a non-monogamous person could feel compersion, a sense of joy in seeing their partner happy with another person.

Gladiator’s tombstone complains about bad refs 1,800 years ago [Alasdair Wilkins on io9]

For those not up on their gladiator terminology, the summa rudis was the referee, who might himself be a veteran gladiator. This means that those who prepared the tombstone for Diodorus – most likely his family or friends – felt that he had died as a direct result of crappy refereeing, predating by a good eighteen centuries the constant complaint of modern sports fans around the world.

Sex with Neanderthals gave humans the strength we needed to conquer the planet [Alasdair Wilkins on io9]

It’s only relatively recently that the scientific community has begun to accept that early humans interbred with our Neanderthal cousins. Now it looks as if it was not only possible, it was essential for providing us with immunity from strange diseases.

Human Errors, Idiocy Fuel Hacking [Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif and Michael Riley on Bloomberg]

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security ran a test this year to see how hard it was for hackers to corrupt workers and gain access to computer systems. Not very, it turned out. Staff secretly dropped computer discs and USB thumb drives in the parking lots of government buildings and private contractors. Of those who picked them up, 60 percent plugged the devices into office computers, curious to see what they contained. If the drive or CD case had an official logo, 90 percent were installed.

The Beer Archaeologist [Abigail Tucker on The Smithsonian]

With a supply of mind-blowing beverages on hand, human civilization was off and running. In what might be called the “beer before bread” hypothesis, the desire for drink may have prompted the domestication of key crops, which led to permanent human settlements. Scientists, for instance, have measured atomic variations within the skeletal remains of New World humans; the technique, known as isotope analysis, allows researchers to determine the diets of the long-deceased. When early Americans first tamed maize around 6000 B.C., they were probably drinking the corn in the form of wine rather than eating it, analysis has shown.

Much of the attention around the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York has revolved around the back-room politicking involved: the deals, the cajoling, the organizing. But as The New York Times reported over the weekend, a crucial fount of support came from a seemingly unusual source: Wall Street donors known in large part for conservative leanings.

The Shocking True Tale Of The Mad Genius Who Invented Sea-Monkeys [Evan Hughes on The Awl]

As anyone sold by the Sea-Monkey ads could tell you, it was hard to say exactly where von Braunhut was walking on the terrain between truth, embellishment and con. That was his gift. He convinced us to look at the jazz hands and lose sight of the footwork. Von Braunhut’s inventions were not quite what they seemed to be. Neither was he.

Damned Yankee: Was Steinbrenner’s Partner the “Madoff of Memorabilia”? [Peter J. Nash on Hauls of Shame via Deadspin]

At the National Sports Collectors Convention in the summer of 1999, the Hall of Fame set up an exhibition to display its new acquisitions from the Halper Collection.  It was there that the first real challenges surfaced regarding the legitimacy of  the artifacts the Hall of Fame had acquired from Halper.  Auctioneer Josh Evans, chairman of Lelands, saw the display and couldn’t believe his eyes.  Says Evans, “I was absolutely floored at how much of it was fake.  There were several early jerseys I saw and all of them were no good.”

Where Have All the Spambots Gone? [Brian Krebs on Krebson Security]

First, the good news: The past year has witnessed the decimation of spam volume, the arrests of several key hackers, and the high-profile takedowns of some of the Web’s most notorious botnets. The bad news? The crooks behind these huge crime machines are fighting back — devising new approaches designed to resist even the most energetic takedown efforts.

DSK and the District Attorney: New York’s prosecutor could have chosen to exploit race and status in the high-profile case. [Dorothy Rabinowitz on The Wall Street Journal]

That the man now in charge of the Manhattan DA’s office knows—and has shown that he knows—that the duty of a prosecutor is first and foremost to do justice, not to win cases, is something for which citizens can be grateful. They’ve not had a chance to witness such behavior terribly often.

Casey Anthony: The System Worked [Alan Dershowitz via The Wall Street Journal]

The verdict in the Casey Anthony case reflected the lack of forensic evidence and heavy reliance on circumstantial inferences. There was no evidence of a cause of death, the time of death, or the circumstances surrounding the actual death of this young girl. There was sufficient circumstantial evidence from which the jury could have inferred homicide. But a reasonable jury could also have rejected that conclusion, as this jury apparently did. There are hundreds of defendants now in prison, some even on death row, based on less persuasive evidence than was presented in this case.

Tragic Remains:

Video Killed The Emergency Radio Broadcast

Call Center | Buffalo, NY, USA |

(It is 2005. Hurricane Wilma has just flattened our service area.)

Me: “Thank you for calling [cable company]. How may I help you?”

Customer: “Look son, I just got my generator going. Where’s my f***ing cable TV?”

Snobbery Just Won’t Cut It

Hair Salon | London, England, UK | Top

(I am having my hair done in a salon that is just off a very busy shopping street. It is just after 4:30 in the afternoon, when a woman breezes in, carrying a lot of shopping bags.)

Client: “Hello! I have an appointment with [stylist].”

Receptionist: “Do you? I think his client is already here. Can I get your name?”

Client: “It is [name].”

Receptionist: “Ah, I see why there’s some confusion. Your appointment was for 2:00 this afternoon.”

Client: “Yes!”

Receptionist: “And it’s 4:30 now.”

Client: “Yes!”

Receptionist: “So, you’re a bit late.”

Client: “But, he knew I was going to be late!”

Receptionist: “Oh, sorry. Did you ring to let him know?”

Client: “No, but he should have known.”

Receptionist: “Sorry, how should he have known?”

Client: “He knows how beautiful I am, and there are all sorts of sales going on right now. You shouldn’t have your salon here if you don’t know that beautiful people, like me, are going to need to buy things for the summer! I mean, really!”

Receptionist: “I’m very sorry, but your appointment time has passed. Maybe you can wait? [Stylist] is with another client right now.”

(She points to me.)

Client: *suddenly very angry* “Her? But she’s so ugly! It won’t make any difference if she has her hair done. Beautiful people should have their hair done first! The ugly ones should wait!”

(She approaches my chair and tries to remove the foil for my highlights.)

Receptionist: “Madam, I’m going to have to ask you to leave right now. You can’t speak to other clients like that!”

(The woman continues trying to pull me out of the chair. She is hustled out of the salon by a group of stylists and customers, leaving all her bags behind.)

Client: *going out the door* “The ugly ones should waaaaaait!”






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