Line O’ the Day:
Shameless/House of Lies/Californication (Showtime, Sunday) – I just finished my “Californication” spec script. Lemme know what you guys think: DAVID DUCHOVNY: Hey, I’m kind of a tool. PRETTY GIRL: [removes shirt]. (repeat until credits)
– Danger Guerrero, Weekend Preview: British People, Awards, and Pageants [Warming Glow]
Best of the Best:
Breaking News: Feds Falsely Censor Popular Blog For Over A Year, Deny All Due Process, Hide All Details… [Mike Masnick on TechDirt]
Let’s just take stock here for a second. We have the government clearly censoring free speech in the form of a blog that discussed the music world and was widely recognized for its influence in promoting new acts. The government seized the blog with no adversarial hearing and no initial due process. Then, rather than actually provide some sort of belated due process in the form of an adversarial hearing, it continued to deny any and all due process by secretly (even to Dajaz1’s own lawyer) extending the seizure without any way to challenge those extensions. All in all, the government completely censored a popular web site for over a year, when it had no real evidence for probable cause of infringement, as it had falsely claimed in the original rubber stamped affidavit. As we noted in reviewing the affidavit, the case had been put together by folks who clearly did not understand the law, the site or the music space. But to then double down on that and continue to hold the domain for a year in secret? That just compounds the error and takes it to new extremes.
When elephants began to die out, Homo erectus “needed to hunt many smaller, more evasive animals. Energy requirements increased, but with plant and protein intake limited, the source had to come from fat. He had to become calculated about hunting,” Ben-Dor says, noting that this change is evident in the physical appearance of modern humans, lighter than Homo erectus and with larger brains.
Inside Wukan: the Chinese village that fought back [Malcolm Moore on The Telegraph]
For the first time on record, the Chinese Communist party has lost all control, with the population of 20,000 in this southern fishing village now in open revolt. The last of Wukan’s dozen party officials fled on Monday after thousands of people blocked armed police from retaking the village, standing firm against tear gas and water cannons. Since then, the police have retreated to a roadblock, some three miles away, in order to prevent food and water from entering, and villagers from leaving. Wukan’s fishing fleet, its main source of income, has also been stopped from leaving harbour. The plan appears to be to lay siege to Wukan and choke a rebellion which began three months ago when an angry mob, incensed at having the village’s land sold off, rampaged through the streets and overturned cars. Although China suffers an estimated 180,000 “mass incidents” a year, it is unheard of for the Party to sound a retreat.
Two Families, Two Takes on Virtual Schooling [Heidi Mitchell on The Wall Street Journal]
The number of students in kindergarten through 12th grade enrolled in virtual schools nationwide has grown to 225,000 from 50,000 a decade ago—and 30% year over year since 2001, says Susan Patrick, chief executive of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, a nonprofit advocacy group. Some parents choose virtual schooling to accommodate a heavy schedule of extracurricular classes or interests; others feel their children’s needs are better served outside a traditional classroom.
Daron Acemoglu on Inequality [Sophie Roell Interviews Daron Acemoglu on The Browser]
At the centre of our framework is the tension between people who have political power and how they can use that power for their own interests and against the interests of the rest of the society. We don’t live in a zero-sum world – and there is a lot of prosperity-creating capability that many societies have exploited – but there are also some zero-sum aspects. Often there will be tensions within society, about who is going to get the biggest slice, and people will try to manipulate the entire fabric of our institutions in order to get that slice. So that’s the narrative we develop for understanding how societies have developed their institutions. The absolutist institutions created a very unequal distribution of political power and a very unequal distribution of economic gains in society and the two became synergistic – the very unequal distribution of political power locked in a very unequal distribution of economics gains. This created a vicious circle, but the conflict it engendered sometimes led to a breaking down of the institutions that this unequal distribution depended on, opening the way for more open institutions, which are one of the engines of prosperity. The last part of the book is the converse story, which is how these inclusive institutions, which create a more equitable distribution of political power and so a more level playing field, are going to be constantly challenged. These inclusive institutions don’t guarantee that everything is going to be equally distributed but will at least prevent the most egregious and unfair distribution of resources. They also ensure a more equal distribution of political power in society. But there is no guarantee that they will last for ever. If you are able to garner a little more support, and a little more political power, the danger that you can start tweaking these institutions to your benefit is always present. There are continuous challenges to the inclusive nature of political institutions. So in this framework you can see the threat of the increased inequality in the US as a symptom of the sorts of challenges to the fairly inclusive set of institutions that the US has had for over 200 years.
How renewable energy may be Edison’s revenge [Sara Ledwith on Reuters]
At the start of the 20th century, inventors Thomas Alva Edison and Nikola Tesla clashed in the “war of the currents”. To highlight the dangers of his rival’s system, Edison even electrocuted an elephant. The animal died in vain; it was Tesla’s system and not Edison’s that took off. But today, helped by technological advances and the need to conserve energy, Edison may finally get his revenge.
Alarm as Dutch lab creates highly contagious killer flu [Steve Connor on The Independent]
For the first time the researchers have been able to mutate the H5N1 strain of avian influenza so that it can be transmitted easily through the air in coughs and sneezes. Until now, it was thought that H5N1 bird flu could only be transmitted between humans via very close physical contact. Dutch scientists carried out the controversial research to discover how easy it was to genetically mutate H5N1 into a highly infectious “airborne” strain of human flu. They believe that the knowledge gained will be vital for the development of new vaccines and drugs…What makes H5N1 so dangerous, though, is that it has killed about 60 per cent of those it has infected, making it one of the most lethal known forms of influenza in modern history – a deadliness moderated only by its inability (so far) to spread easily through airborne water droplets.
Fair Trade Proving Anything But in Growing $6 Billion Market [Simon Clark and Heather Walsh on Bloomberg]
The future of fair trade boils down to Roozen’s and van der Hoff’s rival visions. A test of their arguments can be measured in southern Mexico, birthplace of the fair-trade labeling movement and the center of its burgeoning organic-coffee production.
Ron Paul Ugly, Racist Newsletters Not Going Away, But Do They Invalidate His Candidacy? [Conor Friedersdorf on The Atlantic via Nick Gillespie on Reason]
What I want Paul detractors to confront is that he alone, among viable candidates, favors reforming certain atrocious policies, including policies that explicitly target ethnic and religious minorities. And that, appalling as it is, every candidate in 2012 who has polled above 10 percent is complicit in some heinous policy or action or association. Paul’s association with racist newsletters is a serious moral failing, and even so, it doesn’t save us from making a fraught moral judgment about whether or not to support his candidacy, even if we’re judging by the single metric of protecting racial or ethnic minority groups, because when it comes to America’s most racist or racially fraught policies, Paul is arguably on the right side of all of them. His opponents are often on the wrong side, at least if you’re someone who thinks that it’s wrong to lock people up without due process or kill them in drone strikes or destabilize their countries by forcing a war on drug cartels even as American consumers ensure the strength of those cartels. Even Obama, who has spoken so eloquently about the harm done by the drug war and lost civil liberties, is now on the wrong side of those issues, and shows no signs of reversing himself. As bad as the Paul newsletters are — let me emphasize again that they are awful — I can’t persuade myself that they should carry more weight than war, or civil liberties, unless Paul in fact wrote them, which would mean that he is lying about his core philosophy of individualism, equality, pluralism, and opposition to bigoted laws. In that case, there would be no reason to trust him.
News as a Process: How Journalism Works in the Age of Twitter [Matthew Hunter on Gigaom via Bloomberg Businessweek]
Another benefit of a distributed or networked version of journalism is one sociologist Zeynep Tufekci has made in the course of her research into how Twitter and other social tools affected the events in Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere. As she wrote in a recent blog post, one of the realities of mainstream media is what is often called “pack journalism”: the kind that sees hundreds of journalists show up for official briefings by government or military sources, but few pursue their own stories outside the official sphere. Social media and “citizen journalism,” Tufekci says, can be a powerful antidote to this kind of process, and that’s fundamentally a positive force for journalism.
Special Report: The watchdogs that didn’t bark [Scot Paltrow on Reuters]
The Steven J. Baum P.C. law firm, based near Buffalo, New York, in recent years filed approximately 40 per cent of all foreclosures in New York State, on behalf of banks and other mortgage servicers. Court records show that the firm angered state court judges for alleged false statements and filing suspect documents. Arthur Schack, a state court judge in Brooklyn, in a 2010 ruling said that pleadings by the Baum firm on behalf of HSBC Bank, a unit of London-based HSBC Holdings, in a foreclosure case were “so incredible, outrageous, ludicrous and disingenuous that they should have been authorized by the late Rod Serling, creator of the famous science-fiction television series, The Twilight Zone.” Another state judge that year imposed $5,000 in sanctions and ordered the firm to pay $14,500 in attorneys’ fees, ruling that “misrepresentation of the material statements here was outrageous.” But the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan filed no criminal charges against the Baum firm. Instead, it signed a settlement with Baum ending an inquiry “relating to foreclosure practices.” The agreement made no allegations of wrongdoing, but required the firm to improve its foreclosure practices. Baum agreed to pay a $2 million civil penalty, but didn’t admit wrongdoing. The law firm said it would shut down after New York Times columnist Joe Nocera in November published photographs of a 2010 Baum firm Halloween party in which employees dressed up as homeless people. Another showed part of Baum’s office decorated to look like a row of foreclosed houses.
Twitter by Post [Giles Turnbull on The Morning News]
Twitter is the contemporary postcard—social updates that are limited by size, but not imagination. For a month, with a billion stamps, our correspondent moved his tweets from the laptop to the post office, and rediscovered the joy of mail.
Curiously Strong Remains:
- Chavez Bond Brokerage Purge Fails to Stem Venezuelan Inflation [Daniel Cancel and Corina Rodriguez Pons on Bloomberg]
- Here’s One Big Thing MF and Jon Corzine Got Right [Jonathan Weil on Bloomberg]
- Giants on the Giants: We Polled the Players on What They Thought of Their Fellow Teammates [Wall Street Journal]
- Bank Failures Cost U.S. $88 Billion [Robert Schmidt and Craig Torres on Bloomberg]
- U.S. Shoppers Foot Bill for Soaring Pay in China [Justin LaHart on Wall Street Journal]
- Interest Rates: 1831-2011 [Bianco Research via The Big Picture]
- A Bubble Down on the Farm? [Mark Peters and Scott Kilman on The Wall Street Journal]
- Exclusive: Iran hijacked US drone, says Iranian engineer [Scott Peterson and Payam Faramarzi on Christian Science Monitor]
- The People and the Patriots: Who Led Whom in the American Revolution? [Alfred F. Young on The Boston Review]
- Hoppy Holidays: Sweet Makers Try to Tap Market for Beer Candyc [Wall Street Journal
- Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Office Targeted Hispanics, U.S. Report Says [Bloomberg]
- U.S. Closes Its Mission on Uncertain Note: Troops Depart, as America Leaves the World’s Largest Diplomatic Presence Behind; Tensions Arise Between Shiites, Sunnis [Wall Street Journal]
- Elevator Mishap Is Fatal: Woman Crushed When Cab Rises Suddenly Upward With Doors Open; Two Hurt [Wall Street Journal]
- Paul Trade Brings Better Haul to Hornets [Kevin Clark on The Daily Fix on The Wall Street Journal]
- Is This the Perfect Football? [Jason Gay on The Wall Street Journal]
- Skills ‘Mismatch’ Hurts U.S. Jobless as Openings Grow [Bloomberg BusinessWeek]
- Chasing the New Angel Investors: Entrepreneurs Find They Need More Than a ‘Great Idea’ When Pitching to Potential Backers [Wall Street Journal]
- Reading Fiction Will Make You a Better Investor [Interloper]
- Russia seizes radioactive material bound for Iran [The Australian]
- The Last Movie Maestro [John Jurgensen on The Wall Street Journal]
- Meet the Financial Wizards Working With Occupy Wall Street [Josh Harkinson on Mother Jones]
- U.S. Underemployment in Mid-December Similar to a Year Ago [Gallup]
- Iraq issues arrest warrant for vice president Hashemi [Reuters]
- Ten Economic Questions for 2012 [Calculated Risk]
- Boomers vs. Millennials: The Fight of a Generation (or Two) [Kirk Victor Interviews Neil Howe on The Atlantic]
- A Comic Distributes Himself [New York Times]
- Where Germs Lurk on Planes: What to Do When Stuck at 30,000 Feet Next to Sneezers and Coughers [Scott McCartney on The Wall Street Journal]
- Perdue Media Team Used Confidential Data To Spin Jobs Reports: Federal officials question legality of getting employment info before official release [Don Carrington on The Carolina Journal]
- Restaurants Sour on Rules Over Kimchi [Wall Street Journal]
- Welcome to Amazon Town: Retired ‘Workampers’ Flock to Remote Towns for Temporary Gigs [Stu Woo on The Wall Street Journal]
- Man misses mouse and shoots roommate, revealing child rapist [RawStory via FilmDrunk]
- The Astonishing Collapse of MF Global [Matt Koppenheffer on The Motley Fool]
- Hockey Heats Up in Tiny Village With Israel’s Only Big Rink [Joel Millman on The Wall Street Journal]
- In a Just World, Season 2 of ‘The Walking Dead’ Could’ve Been Great [Dustin Rowles on Warming Glow]
- Let’s Get On With The Inevitable Peter King Tebow Slurp Job [Big Daddy Drew on KSK]
- America’s poverty trap tightens its grip [Macroscope on Reuters]
- States spend billions on local homeland security [Center for Investigative Reporting]
- Nothing Predicted Happened in 2011 [Ken Wells on Bloomberg]
- Food Stamp Rush Hour: At superstores across the U.S., a rush to use up food stamps [Bloomberg Businessweek]
- Judge questions why Bell’s former police chief isn’t facing corruption charges [Los Angeles Times]
- Hirst, Warhol Prices Outperform S&P 500 in Art-Investment Index [Bloomberg Businessweek]
- Year of Misfortune: Top 12 Billion-Dollar U.S. Disasters [Bloomberg]
- Finland ‘finds Patriot missiles’ on China-bound ship [BBC News]
- Higgs Boson Born of Physicists’ Love of Metaphor [Mark Buchannan on Bloomberg]
- Segregated Charter Schools Evoke Separate But Equal Era in U.S. [Bloomberg Businessweek]
- The New Frontier in Air Safety [Andy Pasztor on The Wall Street Journal]
- What do cupcakes and lightsabers have in common? [Patrick Smith on Slate]
- Battery-Fire Crashes Seen Every Other Year as U.S. Rules Fought [Alan Levin on Bloomberg]
- Ferrell’s Funny Or Die Site Trades on Comic’s A-List Reach [Michael White on Bloomberg]
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