Archive for August, 2013

31
Aug
13

Roundup – Sand Sharks

Line O’ the Day:

And over the weekend, Kelly reached out to Dungy again, asking him for his thoughts on the Cooper case.

“I’m not in favor of racial slurs, but if you can get him to redirect that hatred toward the gays, he still be a productive member of your team.”

Best of the Best:

Why Your Team Sucks 2013: New Orleans Saints [Big Daddy Drew on Deadspin]

Why your team sucks: Do you know what the worst defense in football doesn’t need? A new base alignment incorporating an elaborate, blitz-heavy scheme that is entirely reliant on good personnel and forces terrible defensive backs into one-on-one coverage against some of the league’s best receivers. Julio Jones will get 1,000 yards receiving in just two games against this shitpile. The Saints defense is Roger Goodell’s perfect 21st century defense: a completely defanged, helpless unit that gives up 30 points for every useful play it makes. It’s an ideal television defense in that it does nothing MOST of the time, but will occasionally get a token interception just to let you know that NFL defenses haven’t been eradicated completely. In this town, a quarterback has a better chance of being brought down by violent diarrhea than by a Saints defender.

Why Your Team Sucks 2013: Indianapolis Colts [Big Daddy Drew on Deadspin]

Your quarterback: Strong-armed Frankengoober Andrew Luck. Luck threw 18 interceptions last season (third in the league behind Drew Brees and [SPOILER ALERT] Tony Romo), completed less than 55 percent of his passes, and had a passer rating of 76.5. Oh but somehow, this glorified Jake Locker is the most promising quarterback out of the Gang of Four? RG3, Russell Wilson, and Colin Kaepernick all completed more than 60 percent of their passes last season, and all of them had a passer rating above 98. (NOTE: Passer rating is an arbitrary and useless stat UNLESS used for trolling purposes!) Of course, it’s the WHITE quarterback who gets praised for being the most “pro-ready” and having extra clutchitude. THAT IS RAYYYYCESS! Did you know Andrew Luck REALLY wants to be an architect? This young man has a good head on his shoulders!

Why Your Team Sucks 2013: Cincinnati Bengals [Big Daddy Drew on Deadspin]

Why your team sucks: The Bengals are proof positive that you should NEVER, EVER, EVER give your local NFL owner a new stadium. NFL owners LOVE to tell you that they need a new stadium to “be competitive” when, in fact, the opposite is true. They need a new stadium specifically so that they NEVER have to be competitive. If you don’t have a new stadium, you gotta pick up notable free agents and hire name-brand coaches and do all kinds of crazy shit to keep the general public engaged. You have to go all out to win. But once you GET that stadium? You don’t have to do anything! Your team will shit out money regardless of whether you go 0-16 or 16-0. With no incentive to win, you can just sit back and count. And so it is with Mike Brown, a colossal shitbag who swindled taxpayers out of over half a billion dollars for his new raccoon dump of a stadium. And what did Cincy get out of it? A team with the 24th-highest payroll in football—the same shitty, rotten, cheap, pathetic Bengals they’ve always been.

French Cross Rhine for Work to Escape 10% Unemployment [Jonathan Stearns on Bloomberg]

French and German labor agencies deepened ties in February by placing two officials from Strasbourg alongside their counterparts in Kehl. Their goal this year is to find cross-border jobs for 70 unemployed people, according to Sahrbacher of the German Federal Labor Agency. Marianne Lang, a French native who works as a manager at Belu Dienstleistung GmbH, a German temporary-work agency with an office in Kehl, said no initiatives of these kinds will fully pay off until France revamps its social-benefit system so unemployed people have more incentive to seek work. With a core group of 150 mainly French workers placed in jobs from metallurgy to painting in Germany, Belu regularly has German employment offers that jobless people in Alsace are unwilling to accept, according to 59-year-old Lang. “There’s a lack of motivation,” she said in an interview. “We don’t find the people.” Last year, Belu filled the void by recruiting 30 Poles to help meet demand for work in Germany. Fifteen of them are still with the company, she said. While saying German labor-rule changes have been inadequate, Lang saved her strongest criticism for French work regulations. “The whole system needs to be rethought,” she said. “We created this generation. It’s like a virus.” Badische Stahlwerke’s Hamy, who comes from northern France, signaled that French prejudices tied to World War II may be a bigger barrier to cross-border labor movement than are France’s social benefits. “Many people still refuse to work in Germany,” he said. “It’s the language and demons of the past.”

Researchers find mental disorders — not combat — tied to military suicide risk [Genevra Pittman on Reuters via The Raw Story]

The researchers found no difference in the risk of suicide among military personnel who had and had not been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, nor were more cumulative days deployed tied to a higher suicide risk. Suicides were equally common among study participants of different military ranks, service branches and occupations. However, male service members were twice as likely to commit suicide as women, the study team wrote Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Some of My Best Friends Are Germs [Michael Pollan on The New York Times]

The study of babies and their specialized diet has yielded key insights into how the colonization of the gut unfolds and why it matters so much to our health. One of the earliest clues to the complexity of the microbiome came from an unexpected corner: the effort to solve a mystery about milk. For years, nutrition scientists were confounded by the presence in human breast milk of certain complex carbohydrates, called oligosaccharides, which the human infant lacks the enzymes necessary to digest. Evolutionary theory argues that every component of mother’s milk should have some value to the developing baby or natural selection would have long ago discarded it as a waste of the mother’s precious resources. It turns out the oligosaccharides are there to nourish not the baby but one particular gut bacterium called Bifidobacterium infantis, which is uniquely well-suited to break down and make use of the specific oligosaccharides present in mother’s milk. When all goes well, the bifidobacteria proliferate and dominate, helping to keep the infant healthy by crowding out less savory microbial characters before they can become established and, perhaps most important, by nurturing the integrity of the epithelium — the lining of the intestines, which plays a critical role in protecting us from infection and inflammation. “Mother’s milk, being the only mammalian food shaped by natural selection, is the Rosetta stone for all food,” says Bruce German, a food scientist at the University of California, Davis, who researches milk. “And what it’s telling us is that when natural selection creates a food, it is concerned not just with feeding the child but the child’s gut bugs too.”

A Trip That Doesn’t End [Dorian Rolston on The New Yorker]

Psychedelic lore is littered with cautionary tales. But it remains to be seen whether reports of hallucinogen persisting perception disorder—quite literally, the persistence of hallucinogen-induced perceptions—should count among them. Hallucinogens are enjoying something of a revival: the drugs are being tried recreationally by nearly one in five American adults (approaching that of the nineteen-sixties), while being tested empirically for their powers to heal alcoholism and other addictions, anxieties from impending death, P.T.S.D., major depression, and even cluster headaches. Reading too much into H.P.P.D., some say, could squelch the renewed intrigue—even though, to some extent, the risk factors, causes, and effective treatments remain a mystery. Others, though, suspect that unraveling this mysterious disorder could reveal clues for the more familiar ones. According to Dr. Henry Abraham, a lecturer in psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine who privately sees patients with substance-related disorders, neurophysiological shifts observed in H.P.P.D. patients “may yield useful models for anxiety, depression, psychosis, and even addiction.” A chronic and debilitating condition, H.P.P.D. warps the perceptual faculties: the external senses are marred by a constellation of mostly visual distortions, while the internal ones are paralyzed by a concoction of dissociative symptoms, panic attacks, and depression. The doors of perception are not so much cleansed, as Aldous Huxley famously found after his first experience on mescaline, as they are cracked open and left askew. H.P.P.D. does not generate hallucinations, technically speaking. Sufferers can appreciate that their perceptual aberrations are unreal—that their surroundings only appear blurred by afterimages (palinopsia) and trails (akinetopsia); shimmered by sparkles and flashed by bright bolts of light; interrupted by transparent blobs of color floating around; electrified by visual snow; magnified or shrunk by “Alice-in-Wonderland” symptoms; adorned by halos around objects, around people’s heads. The pseudo-hallucinations are ultimately unconvincing, if deeply unsettling.

Facebook Leans In [Kurt Eichenwald on Vanity Fair]

The Facebook of old—well, of a year ago—is almost irrelevant to the company that exists today, which not only is set to change the world of social networking, but could herald the biggest transformation in American advertising since the advent of television. That is my conclusion from months of interviews with Facebook ad clients, investors, the company’s senior management and other key executives, as well as reviews of reams of data, including confidential reports. What emerges is a portrait of a widely misunderstood company that has quietly been pioneering a marketing business model unlike any other in Silicon Valley—or, for that matter, Madison Avenue. Since the offering, Facebook has developed new targeting techniques, giving advertisers an unprecedented ability to reach only the potential audiences they want—truck buyers who haven’t made a purchase in seven years, gamers who have attained Level Seven in some online war simulation, wine connoisseurs who consume an average of four bottles a month. And they can track down potential buyers at any point along the purchasing path—for example, Facebook users who had checked prices for traveling to Hawaii without finishing their order—and hit them with an ad urging them to pull the trigger on buying.

Does BuzzFeed Know the Secret? [Andrew Rice on New York Magazine]

Perhaps the best way to understand BuzzFeed, though, is as the culmination of a wager its puckish founder, Jonah Peretti, made twelve years ago as a graduate student at MIT. Like a lot of tales of discovery on the Internet, this one begins in a moment of procrastination. In 2001, Peretti, then 27, was supposed to be writing his master’s thesis but instead diverted himself by goofing off online. Nike was promoting a new customizable sneaker; Peretti ordered a pair imprinted with the word sweatshop, prompting an amusing exchange of e-mails with a customer-­service representative. Peretti forwarded the chain to ten friends. It went forth and multiplied, taking on irresistible momentum as it was forwarded from in-box to in-box. Six weeks later, Peretti found himself on the Today show, debating a Nike spokesman about its labor practices. The rush of creating something viral was vertiginous, intoxicating. Throughout the experience, Peretti related his amazement to a friend, a fellow student named Cameron Marlow. “I challenged him to do it again,” Marlow recalls. Marlow was preparing to write his Ph.D. on viral phenomena; he believed they were impossible to engineer, that the universe of human relations is just too complex to predict what people would share. Peretti set out to prove him wrong.

Cinema Tarantino: The Making of Pulp Fiction [Mark Seal on Vanity Fair]

Samuel L. Jackson had to fight for his role as Jules Winnfield, the Bible-quoting hit man. The rage of that fight returns as he tells me the story in his publicist’s conference room in Beverly Hills. “O.K., calm down,” he tells himself at one point. Tarantino had told Jackson that he’d written the role for him, and therefore was asking him just to read, not audition. After their session together, Jackson returned confidently to filming Fresh, another movie produced by Lawrence Bender, only to learn that he was in danger of losing the role to the Puerto Rican actor Paul Calderon. “Quentin handed me the part of Jules and said, ‘Bring it in,’ ” Calderon remembers of his New York audition. “I took the material home, and the rhythms were similar to Lawrence Fishburne, and Quentin told me later Fishburne, whether it’s true or not, turned it down.” When Calderon finished the audition, he says, Tarantino was applauding. “All of a sudden Sam’s job was not so damned secure,” says Tarantino today…Jackson spent the hours on the plane marking up the script, “figuring out the relationships.” He landed just before lunchtime, not knowing that Calderon had also flown from New York to audition again that same weekend. “It was like high noon,” Calderon remembers. “I was the first one who was going to audition; Sam was supposed to come in after me.” But Tarantino arrived late, which caused Calderon to lose his cool. “We went into the audition room, and one of the producers started to read with me, which, to this day, I look back on it and think, I should have said no,” he says. “I couldn’t recapture the rhythms I had in New York. At the end, I said, ‘I give up.’ The air was going out of me like the Goodyear blimp.” Tarantino wound up giving him a small part in the movie. “I sort of was angry, pissed, tired,” Jackson recalls. He was also hungry, so he bought a take-out burger on his way to the studio, only to find nobody there to greet him…“In comes Sam with a burger in his hand and a drink in the other hand and stinking like fast food,” says Richard Gladstein. “Me and Quentin and Lawrence were sitting on the couch, and he walked in and just started sipping that shake and biting that burger and looking at all of us. I was scared shitless. I thought that this guy was going to shoot a gun right through my head. His eyes were popping out of his head. And he just stole the part.” Lawrence Bender adds, “He was the guy you see in the movie. He said, ‘Do you think you’re going to give this part to somebody else? I’m going to blow you motherfuckers away.’ ” When Jackson came to the final scene in the diner, where Jules quotes the Bible, his acting became so real, so angry, that the actor reading with him lost his place. “And when I got back to New York, I was still pissed,” says Jackson. “Bender told me not to worry. Everything was cool. The job was mine. And he said the one thing that sealed it was they never knew how the movie was going to end until I did the last scene in the diner.”

An Intimate Portrait Of Innovation, Risk, And Failure Through Hipstamatic’s Lens [Austin Carr on Fast Company]

Hipstamatic’s journey over the past year has been tumultuous, to say the least. As Fast Company has learned from speaking to more than a dozen players involved, Hipstamatic has wrestled with ever-growing social competition, internal tensions, and a lack of product vision–not to mention juggling acquisition interest and worsening term sheets in a post-Facebook IPO world. But what the startup has most struggled with is remaining relevant in an unforgiving app market dominated by one of the hottest spaces in tech: photos. Photos are considered the killer app of any platform, web or mobile. They’re the driving force behind Facebook’s social success, and the reason for its blockbuster acquisition of mobile photo-sharing app Instagram, which recently surpassed Twitter in U.S. smartphone engagement. They’re why Marissa Mayer is said to be rethinking Flickr as she takes up the reins at Yahoo; why Google recently bought Snapseed; and why a slew of hot Internet startups from Tumblr to Pinterest to Camera+ have gained popularity. Even Apple introduced photo-stream sharing capabilities in its latest version of iOS. Hipstamatic was one of the first startups to crack the photo formula in the mobile space–then it watched similar services gain ground and eventually blaze by. The company’s experience proves that no startup can rest on its laurels in the age of the iPhone, when the time between innovation and disruption is ever shortening, and when IPOs and fast exits are valued over establishing long-term viable businesses. And perhaps most significantly, Hipstamatic proves that no modern startup can ignore the siren call of social, even if at its own peril.

Forensic Science Falls Short of Public Image [Maggie Clark on Stateline]

Close observers were led to the conclusion that crime labs can do remarkable things. And sometimes, they can. But this story wasn’t reality. It was an episode of the television show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. In real life, crime scenes don’t always yield compelling forensic evidence and analysts don’t always catch everything. Juries, however, have come to expect that they do. This may seem like a minor problem. It is not minor…In reality, as opposed to TV, crime scene investigators and crime labs are overworked and under-funded. This has led to backlogs of untested evidence, created problems with preserving evidence once it’s collected, and in the latest high-profile crime lab scandal, led a Massachusetts chemist to falsify thousands of lab samples.

Elmore Leonard Wrote Great Opening Lines. Here Are All Of Them. [Alex Bleth on The Stacks]

“A time would come, within a few years, when Ruben Vega would go to the church in Benson, kneel in the confessional, and say to the priest, ‘Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been thirty-seven years since my last confession…. Since then I have fornicated with many women, maybe eight hundred. No, not that many, considering my work. Maybe six hundred only.'”—”The Tonto Woman,” a short story that appeared in Roundup: An Anthology of Great Stories By The Western Writers of America (1982)

The 2013 Hater’s Guide To The Top 25 [Drew Magary on Deadspin]

14. Notre Dame. Everything. The single most hateable thing about Notre Dame is its inherent Notre Dame-ness: the arrogance, the false piousness, the halo the program has placed over itself. It’s all disgusting, which is why you deserved not only to get steamrolled by Eddie Lacy on national television, but to then have your empty-headed sweetheart linebacker publicly embarrassed for being stupid enough to fall in love with an imaginary pen pal. I wanna watch David Blaine street-magic videos with Manti Te’o, just to see him accuse Blaine of witchcraft.

125 College Football Teams, Ranked And Explained [Matt Hinton on Deadspin]

49. KANSAS STATE. They won’t admit it, but stat geeks and anyone else who prefers to defer to the numbers secretly resents Kansas State, the only team that consistently defies logic. On paper, the Wildcats are an amalgam of marginal recruiting classes relying too heavily on turnover margin, special teams, and other “unpredictable” factors that tend to fluctuate wildly from year to year, and often week to week. In the win column, they’ve racked up 21 victories in the last two years. The assumption in 2013 is that the je ne sais quoi of that success is on its way out with He-Man quarterback Collin Klein and most of the starting defense, but with Bill Snyder’s track record, all bets are off. (Seriously, if you bet against Kansas State that shit is on you.)

Science Journalism and the Art of Expressing Uncertainty [Andrew Gelman on Symposium Magazine]

Just as is the case with so many other beats, science journalism has to adhere to the rules of solid reporting and respect the need for skepticism. And this skepticism should not be exercised for the sake of manufacturing controversy—two sides clashing for the sake of getting attention—but for the sake of conveying to readers a sense of uncertainty, which is central to the scientific process. The point is not that all articles are fatally flawed, but that many newsworthy studies are coupled with press releases that, quite naturally, downplay uncertainty.

Few Protections for Child Actors Like Honey Boo Boo [Marsha Mercer on Stateline]

When minors sell T-shirts at the mall or flip burgers at a fast food restaurant, their employment falls under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 for minimum wage, overtime, work hours and other conditions. But these provisions don’t apply to child performers and child farm workers because of the FLSA’s so-called “Shirley Temple Act” exemptions. States that want to protect young entertainers working in movies, television shows or commercials have to pass their own child entertainment laws, and 32 states have done so. The laws range from simply requiring a young performer to get consent from the state labor commissioner to setting maximum hours per day and week a child performer may work. Eighteen states have no laws to protect child performers. Only about half the states require work permits for child performers, and some only for kids under age 14 or 16.

Saudis offer Russia secret oil deal if it drops Syria [Ambrose Evans-Pritchard on The Telegraph]

Leaked transcripts of a closed-door meeting between Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan shed an extraordinary light on the hard-nosed Realpolitik of the two sides. Prince Bandar, head of Saudi intelligence, allegedly confronted the Kremlin with a mix of inducements and threats in a bid to break the deadlock over Syria. “Let us examine how to put together a unified Russian-Saudi strategy on the subject of oil. The aim is to agree on the price of oil and production quantities that keep the price stable in global oil markets,” he said at the four-hour meeting with Mr Putin. They met at Mr Putin’s dacha outside Moscow three weeks ago.

Exclusive: CIA Files Prove America Helped Saddam as He Gassed Iran [Shane Harris and Matthew M. Aid on Foreign Policy Magazine]

In 1988, during the waning days of Iraq’s war with Iran, the United States learned through satellite imagery that Iran was about to gain a major strategic advantage by exploiting a hole in Iraqi defenses. U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein’s military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent. The intelligence included imagery and maps about Iranian troop movements, as well as the locations of Iranian logistics facilities and details about Iranian air defenses. The Iraqis used mustard gas and sarin prior to four major offensives in early 1988 that relied on U.S. satellite imagery, maps, and other intelligence. These attacks helped to tilt the war in Iraq’s favor and bring Iran to the negotiating table, and they ensured that the Reagan administration’s long-standing policy of securing an Iraqi victory would succeed. But they were also the last in a series of chemical strikes stretching back several years that the Reagan administration knew about and didn’t disclose. U.S. officials have long denied acquiescing to Iraqi chemical attacks, insisting that Hussein’s government never announced he was going to use the weapons. But retired Air Force Col. Rick Francona, who was a military attaché in Baghdad during the 1988 strikes, paints a different picture. “The Iraqis never told us that they intended to use nerve gas. They didn’t have to. We already knew,” he told Foreign Policy. According to recently declassified CIA documents and interviews with former intelligence officials like Francona, the U.S. had firm evidence of Iraqi chemical attacks beginning in 1983. At the time, Iran was publicly alleging that illegal chemical attacks were carried out on its forces, and was building a case to present to the United Nations. But it lacked the evidence implicating Iraq, much of which was contained in top secret reports and memoranda sent to the most senior intelligence officials in the U.S. government…It has been previously reported that the United States provided tactical intelligence to Iraq at the same time that officials suspected Hussein would use chemical weapons. But the CIA documents, which sat almost entirely unnoticed in a trove of declassified material at the National Archives in College Park, Md., combined with exclusive interviews with former intelligence officials, reveal new details about the depth of the United States’ knowledge of how and when Iraq employed the deadly agents. They show that senior U.S. officials were being regularly informed about the scale of the nerve gas attacks. They are tantamount to an official American admission of complicity in some of the most gruesome chemical weapons attacks ever launched.

The Dirty Talk Of The Town: Profanity At “The New Yorker” [Elton Green on The Awl]

Forthwith, a compendium of New Yorker firsts in vulgarity.

pussy
First used as “vagina” synonym: 1993, Adam Platt, “Fighting Words”
The word Nyhan used was “pussy-whipped.”

vagina
First used: 1995, James Wolcott, “An Absolutely Fabulous Finale”
On the sofa, Edina (Jennifer Saunders, the show’s creator) is explaining to her pal Patsy (Joanna Lumley) how in her feminist heyday she spent a week celebrating her vagina—making artistic molds out of it, taking it out for three-course meals&mdashall in vain.

Curiously Strong Remains:

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01
Aug
13

Roundup – LASER MASTER

Line O’ the Day:

I can picture you two engineering the whole scheme from Patriots headquarters:

JOSH MCDANIELS: Tebow is a special player, boss! He GETS it. He fits right in with the PATRIOT WAY of doing business. I’m still a genius for drafting him—it’s just that no one realizes it yet!

YOU: GRUMBLE GRUMBLE GRUMBLE I’LL MAKE HIM USEFUL AND THEN I’LL BANG HIS MOM GRUMBLE GRUMBLE.

JIM NANTZ: (busts through the door) Hello, friends. Would either of you care for a civilized, dignified handjob?

– Big Daddy Drew, “Fuck You, Bill Belichick” [Deadspin]

Best of the Best:

Happy 27th Anniversary of Ferris Bueller: A Few Words About Ferris in the Internet Age [Vince Mancini on FilmDrunk]

I get nostalgic about Ferris Bueller because I miss that ideal of cool, when coolness wasn’t wrapped up in a label, and it could happen to you if you were just a clever smooth talker who was nice to people. (Before I go any further, I should probably acknowledge that I’ve opened the door to a rebuttal article here about how Ferris could only have been Ferris because of white privilege. There’s definitely some truth to that, so point conceded, it just doesn’t seem that constructive or interesting). Everything seems to have broken off into warring factions now, and Ferris Bueller harkens back to a time when a hero could be neither “bro” nor “nerd” (though I’m sure both groups would try to claim him).

Behind the ‘Internet of Things’ Is Android—and It’s Everywhere [Ashlee Vance on Bloomberg Businessweek]

Philip DesAutels, the vice president for technology at Xively, a just-launched cloud computing service that simplifies the work needed to get a device to transmit data, has studied the Internet of things for years. He says there are five times as many downloads of Xively’s Android-specific software as there are of its software made for Apple’s iOS. His favorite product: an Android-based agricultural irrigation system where a network of tiny, waterproof computers in the field regulates water valves. “With Android, you get something that is power-efficient, it’s easy for developers to do the user interface and touch controls, and it’s easy to get data in and out,” DesAutels says. “There’s just a bigger community behind it than with anything else.” Android’s rise is bad for Microsoft, which has been releasing a no-frills operating system of its own since 1996. Windows Embedded, as it’s known these days, is in Ford cars, NCR cash registers, and other products. But just as it did with smartphones and tablets, Microsoft seems to have mistimed and miscalculated its approach. “We have zero requests for Microsoft,” DesAutels says. He adds that he’s hearing from plenty of companies that want to make smart pedometers, Net-connected LED lighting, and other devices that work with iPhones and iPads. Chances are those peripherals will run on Android or something even simpler, DesAutels says, because Apple seems uninterested in letting iOS run non-Apple products. Apple declined to comment.

Pain & Gain [Pete Collins on The Miami Herald, December 1999]

Miami businessman Marc Schiller disappeared from his Schlotzsky’s Deli franchise in mid-November 1994. A month later, recovering from massive injuries at Jackson Memorial Hospital, he called private investigator Ed Du Bois. For weeks, he said, he’d been chained to a wall and tortured in unspeakable ways. He’d been forced to sign away his house, his investments, his bank accounts, his life insurance. In the end the kidnappers tried to kill him, and they nearly succeeded. Although blindfolded during the ordeal, he recognized one of his captors: a former business partner, a protégé. Help me, he begged Du Bois. He wanted his house back; he needed his money. But most important, he had to make sure they wouldn’t find him and finish the job.

How Do You Say Shaolin in Sign Language? Meet the interpreter who has signed for the Wu-Tang Clan, Killer Mike, and the Beastie Boys. [Amy K. Nelson on Slate]

Kat Murphy is a 30-year-old Memphis native who is hearing-impaired; she can hear beats but not words. Along with her boyfriend, Melvin, who is “profoundly deaf,” Murphy was at Bonnaroo and attended both the Wu-Tang and Killer Mike shows. She witnessed Maniatty’s interactions with both rappers. “It was amazing,” she said. “She didn’t skip a beat or allow it to sidetrack her” when Method Man came calling. Unfamiliar with Killer Mike before the show, she left thinking he “was the most deaf-friendly artist and he really incorporated the interpreters into his performance. We are his new fans.” Until Bonnaroo, it never occurred to Killer Mike that he had deaf fans; he left the show “honored” to have someone like Maniatty interpreting him. “You wonder how they can even keep up,” he says. “That’s an art form; that’s more than just a technical skill.”

Writer’s Room: Scenes We Never Want to See Again [Robopanda via Filmdrunk]

Here’s the scene: someone from a city is in a rural area. Suddenly, a rural person is out to get them. Why? I don’t know. He Who Walks Behind The Rows demanded it? A city person bankrupted the plaid shirt factory? Madness caused by too much fresh air and affordable rents? There was a sale on creepy masks and butcher knives? I grew up with a cornfield in my backyard, and I’m still wondering when the urge to kill randos from the coasts is going to kick in. Starting to think He Who Walks Behind The Rows may just be a fat guy named Roger who’s still making payments on his combine. Do you really want to know what us “flyover state” folks think about people from the coasts? Nothing. Which is why there’s no term as popular or as spiteful as “flyover states” that rural people are slanging about city people.

The Fraud of the Prince of Poyais [Dr. Bryan Taylor, Chief Economist of Global Financial Data via The Big Picture]

As amazing as it may seem, the Legation of Poyais chartered two boats to take settlers to Poyais. Why they would take this risk, knowing that the settlers would discover the truth about Poyais once they arrived, staggers the imagination, but perhaps the fraudster had started to believe his own fraud. On September 10, 1822, the Honduras Packet departed from London with 70 settlers including doctors, lawyers and a banker. On January 22, 1823, the Kennersley Castle left Leith Harbour in Scotland with almost 200 settlers. When they arrived in Poyais, the settlers, some of whom had risked their life savings, found an uninhabitable jungle that had more tropical diseases than silver and gold. Of the original 240 settlers who reached Poyais, only 60 survived. The rest died.

Why Are Hollywood Movies So Long? [Alex Mayyasi on Priceonomics]

It seems that the potential savings from reducing the length of a movie are large enough to stoke interest but meager enough to be ceded to the lure of the Oscars and salving directors’ egos and artistic desires. We can understand why directors would choose to make long films from our own reluctance to cut down on our own articles that go on for thousands of words. And although succinct stories are often better than bloated ones, the perception of a bias in favor of long movies at the Oscars strikes us as sound – similar to the bias people hold by thinking that heavier products are of better quality.

Information wants to be expensive [Felix Salmon on Reuters]

Or to put it another way: back when it was founded, in the 1930s, it made sense for the SEC to try to enforce a “fair” market where all men could trade on a level playing field. But those days are over now, and they’re never coming back. Everybody knows that hedge funds and institutional investors have access to massive amounts of information, on top of high-level access to executives; everybody knows that high-frequency traders can move much more quickly than any individual. If you want to go up against these people in the trading arena, all power to you — but don’t expect the SEC to be able to ensure that it’s a fair fight. Instead, individual investors should play to their strengths, which include the ability to take a long view and not feel any need to mark to market, or to worry about quarterly performance returns. They can make long-term investments without worrying about short-term performance, and — thanks in large part to the rise of high-frequency trading — they can get truly spectacular execution at NBBO at any time they want it. Sometimes, data will cause stocks to move — all individual investors know that, and if they have their priorities straight, they won’t particularly care when that move takes place. But from a public-policy perspective, the market in data is a good thing, which should be encouraged: the more data there is, and the higher the quality of that data, the better that the economy is served by the market. The institutions providing this data are performing an important public service, and being paid for it from private-sector funds. Let’s celebrate that, rather than demonizing them.

Snowden Backlash: US Media Get Personal [Marc Pitzke on Der Spiegel]

In his broadside against Snowden and Snowden’s press contacts, Pincus was going along with both the government and the zeitgeist. A growing number of mainstream media outlets have been focusing their criticism on the leakers — Snowden in Moscow, Greenwald in Rio — instead of the content of their leaks. American headlines aren’t being dominated by the latest details of the seemingly endless scandal, but by the men who brought them to light. This began at the Post when Snowden, before contacting Greenwald, offered his secrets to security reporter Barton Gellman. Gellman quickly discredited Snowden as “capable of melodrama,” partly because of his uncompromising terms. Since then Snowden hasn’t provided any more revelations to the paper.

Zimmerman’s lawyer calls prosecutors ‘disgrace’ to profession [Chris Francescani on Reuters]

[Special prosecutor Angela Corey’s] office confirmed last week that it had fired its information technology director, Ben Kruidbos, who had testified in a pre-trial hearing that files he created with text messages and images he retrieved from Martin’s phone were not handed to the defense. Kruidbos testified last month that he found embarrassing photos on Martin’s phone that included pictures of a clump of jewelry on a bed, underage nude females, marijuana plants and a hand holding a semi-automatic pistol.

The Decline in Male Fertility: Scientists Puzzle Over Declining Sperm Counts; a ‘Crisis’ or Not Enough Data? [Shirley S. Wang on The Wall Street Journal]

Are today’s young men less fertile than their fathers were? It’s a controversy in the fertility field, with some experts raising the alarm over what some are calling a “sperm crisis” because they believe men’s sperm counts have been decreasing for a decade or more. Experts here for the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology annual conference last week debated the issue for an entire day. One recent analysis found that in France, the sperm concentration of men decreased by nearly one-third between 1989 and 2005. Most but not all studies from several European nations with large databases and the ability to track health records have found that over the past 15 years or so, the counts of healthy men ages 18 to 25 have significantly decreased. This comes after a prominent study from the 1990s suggested that sperm count has decreased by half over the last half-century. Many experts questioned the validity of those findings. There are huge variations in results by country and region. Certain areas, especially in the developing world, haven’t been studied at all. In the U.S., some historical data suggest a decrease in sperm count among American men, but no published recent data exist.

Your Mid-Week Guide To DVD And Streaming: An Awkward Sexual Adventure With G.I. Joe [Morton Salt via FilmDrunk]

This 2011 film isn’t just a relatively recent Kate Bosworth film you haven’t seen, it’s a Ellen Barkin/Ezra Miller/Ellen Burstyn/Demi Moore/Thomas Haden Church film you haven’t seen, and it’s written and directed by Barry Levinson’s son if that spices up the sauce for you.  I kind of want to see this, if only to see Ellen Barkin and Ellen Burstyn on screen together.  The only thing better would be if there were a movie in which Bill Paxton and Dermot Mulroney played buddy cops trying to catch partners-in-crime Bill Pullman and Dylan McDermott. Also, because f*ck it, I’ve gone off topic a bit, throw in our pal Kate Bosworth as the woman in the middle.  Like she’s Paxton’s daughter and Mulroney’s wife, but she’s also cheating with Pullman while McDermott watches from the foot of the bed, because that seems like something his character would do.

Curiously Strong Remains:

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