Posts Tagged ‘big daddy drew

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.

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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.

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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.

13
Dec
12

Roundup – Tank Cat

Line O’ the Day:

“God, it hurts my head just looking at [Sippin’ Sizzurp Purple Drank]. Nothing good can come from drinking that. One bottle and you wake up with your bare foot inside a dead wolfhound’s ass. I MUST HAVE IT.”

– Drew Magary, “The NFL Is Still Holding Back Saturday Football Because The NFL Hates You” [Deadspin]

Best of the Best:

Panoramic image shows the damage in Kesennuma, Japan [NBC Photoblog]

Robert Hood says: This is the first of what we hope are several panoramic images we’ll be publishing over the next few days. This image technology is uniquely suited to showing the devastation in Japan.

9 Most Outrageous Outlaw Heroes [Grace Murano on ODEE]

A relative unknown during his own lifetime, he was catapulted into legend the year after his death when his killer, Sheriff Patrick Garrett, along with co-author M.A. “Ash” Upson, published a sensationalistic biography titled The Authentic Life of Billy, the Kid. Beginning with Garrett’s account, Billy the Kid grew into a symbolic figure of the American Old West. Historians speculate that his image was created deliberately to distract the public’s attention from the nefarious activities of the Dolan faction and their influential supporters in Santa Fe, notably regional political leader Thomas Benton Catron.

Dylan Muse Graced Famed Album Cover [Stephen Miller on The Wall Street Journal, (3/1/2011)]

Suze Rotolo appeared in one of folk music’s most lasting images, the cover to “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan,” the 1963 album that made Mr. Dylan a star. Ms. Rotolo, who died Friday at age 67 after a lengthy illness, was Mr. Dylan’s girlfriend at the time, and by his account and hers had an important influence on his music. Such Dylan songs as “Boots of Spanish Leather,” “Tomorrow is a Long Time,” and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” grew out of experiences they shared…

She and Mr. Dylan met in 1961 in the context of a bubbling Greenwich Village folk music scene in which Mr. Dylan was a rising talent. Ms. Rotolo was a precocious and cultured 17-year-old from Queens, N.Y., who had grown up with parents who were Communist Party members, though she didn’t like to talk about it. Of their first meeting, at a folk concert at Riverside Church, Mr. Dylan wrote, “Right from the start I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She was the most erotic thing I’d ever seen.” She was fair skinned and golden haired, full-blood Italian. The air was suddenly filled with banana leaves.”

The Year’s Best Television Episode [Brian Raftery on Gentlemen’s Quarterly]

Dan Weiss (co-creator): I think we asked for $2.5 million. We got $2 million-something. That’s a lot of money in TV. It was a big ask for them, and they understood it was really important. Our point was that the entire season was pointing toward this confrontation. To do what’s normally done on television—the Shakespearean model of talking about battles off-screen—would completely kill the season.

Fifty Shades of Grey Porn Adaptation Gets Sued [Vince Mancini on FilmDrunk]

So, a porn adaptation suing a porn adaptation, basically. This would be meta if it weren’t so asinine.

Darkness at noon in the mind of fearful Damascus [Erika Solomon on Reuters]

These days, Syrians do not only worry about the rebels and the army; they fear each other. Gunmen belonging to local vigilante groups aligned with the security forces now freely roam many neighborhoods close to rebellious areas. Reports of kidnappings and murders come daily. The tension is breeding general anxiety, with rumors of both army and rebel operations now a constant backdrop. Alia, a local housewife who spoke by Skype, said she and her family felt increasingly angry and confused over who to blame for the chaos.

Is It OK For the Girl to Propose? No Way, Study Suggests [Stephanie Pappas on Live Science]

The researchers surveyed 277 heterosexual undergraduate students at UC Santa Cruz on their own attitudes toward proposals and marital name changes. The students also answered questions about their attitudes toward women, such as toward the idea that women should be “put on a pedestal.” Two-thirds of the students, both male and female, said they’d “definitely” want the man to propose marriage in their relationship. Only 2.8 percent of women said they’d “kind of” want to propose, but not a single man indicated he’d prefer that arrangement. Notably, not a single student, male or female, “definitely” wanted the woman to propose.

Women Notch Progress: Females Now Constitute One-Third of Nation’s Ranks of Doctors and Lawyers [Josh Mitchell on Wall Street Journal]

Women’s share of jobs in the legal and medical fields climbed during the past decade even as their share of the overall workforce stalled at slightly less than half. Women held 33.4% of legal jobs—including lawyers, judges, magistrates and other judicial workers—in 2010, up from 29.2% in 2000. The share of female physicians and surgeons increased to 32.4% from 26.8% during that time. In 1970, women were 9.7% of the nation’s doctors and just 4.9% of its lawyers, according to Census data.

Degree Inflation? Jobs That Newly Require B.A.’s [Catherine Rampell on Economix]

In the late 1970s, the median wage was 40 percent higher for college graduates than for people with more than a high school degree; now the wage premium is about 80 percent. Some of that wage premium has to do with the changing nature of American jobs and the skills (and social networks) attained in college. Some of it may have to do with a change in the mix of students who go to college and those who don’t. As college enrollment becomes more expected of high school students — as of October 2011, 68.3 percent of 2011 high school graduates were enrolled in college — the shrinking group of students forgoing college may have other characteristics that are associated with lower wages.

Border Agents’ Power to Search Devices Is Facing Increasing Challenges in Court [Susan Stellin on The New York Times]

In other cases, travelers say they have no idea why they were singled out. A laptop belonging to Lisa M. Wayne, a criminal defense lawyer, was searched after she returned from a trip to Mexico. Ms. Wayne said her main concern was the information about clients’ cases stored on her laptop: she is a past president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, which is a co-plaintiff in the Abidor suit, along with the National Press Photographers Association. But at the time of the search, she was unaware of her rights and felt pressured to hand over her computer.

Gamblers Take Note: The Odds in a Coin Flip Aren’t Quite 50/50 [Dan Lewis on The Smithsonian]

[M]ore incredibly, as reported by Science News, spinning a penny, in this case one with the Lincoln Memorial on the back, gives even more pronounced odds — the penny will land tails side up roughly 80 percent of the time. The reason: the side with Lincoln’s head on it is a bit heavier than the flip side, causing the coin’s center of mass to lie slightly toward heads. The spinning coin tends to fall toward the heavier side more often, leading to a pronounced number of extra “tails” results when it finally comes to rest. Because the coins typically pick up dirt and oils over time, trying the experiment at home may not yield such a large percentage of “tails” over “heads” — but a relatively new coin should still give you noticeable results.

The Science Behind Gifting [Sumathi Reddy on The Wall Street Journal]

The adage “It’s the thought that counts” was largely debunked by the recent study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, which concluded that gift givers are better off choosing gifts that receivers actually desire rather than spending a lot of time and energy shopping for what they perceive to be a thoughtful gift. The study found thoughtfulness doesn’t increase a recipient’s appreciation if the gift is a desirable one. In fact, thoughtfulness only seemed to count when a friend gives a gift that is disliked.

Teens Dying From Sunbed Tanning Curb $5 Billion Industry [Jason Gale on Bloomberg]

For the moment, however, the FDA ranks tanning machines as class-I devices– as safe to use, in other words, as elastic bandages. Few other health groups share that position. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2009 added ultraviolet radiation from tanning machines to a danger category of carcinogens that includes radon and plutonium. Indoor tanning before age 35 increases the risk for melanoma by 75%, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report in May.

Who Was Casanova? [Tony Perrottet on The Smithsonian]

Casanova is so surrounded by myth that many people almost believe he was a fictional character. (Perhaps it’s hard to take seriously a man who has been portrayed by Tony Curtis, Donald Sutherland, Heath Ledger and even Vincent Price, in a Bob Hope comedy, Casanova’s Big Night.) In fact, Giacomo Girolamo Casanova lived from 1725 to 1798, and was a far more intellectual figure than the gadabout playboy portrayed on film. He was a true Enlightenment polymath, whose many achievements would put the likes of Hugh Hefner to shame. He hobnobbed with Voltaire, Catherine the Great, Benjamin Franklin and probably Mozart; survived as a gambler, an astrologer and spy; translated The Iliad into his Venetian dialect; and wrote a science fiction novel, a proto-feminist pamphlet and a range of mathematical treatises. He was also one of history’s great travelers, crisscrossing Europe from Madrid to Moscow. And yet he wrote his legendary memoir, the innocuously named Story of My Life, in his penniless old age, while working as a librarian (of all things!) at the obscure Castle Dux, in the mountains of Bohemia in the modern-day Czech Republic.

No less improbable than the man’s life is the miraculous survival of the manuscript itself. Casanova bequeathed it on his deathbed to his nephew, whose descendants sold it 22 years later to a German publisher, Friedrich Arnold Brockhaus of Leipzig. For nearly 140 years, the Brockhaus family kept the original under lock and key, while publishing only bowdlerized editions of the memoir, which were then pirated, mangled and mistranslated. The Brockhaus firm limited scholars’ access to the original document, granting some requests but turning down others, including one from the respected Austrian novelist Stefan Zweig.

The manuscript escaped destruction in World War II in a saga worthy of John le Carré. In 1943, a direct hit by an Allied bomb on the Brockhaus offices left it unscathed, so a family member pedaled it on a bicycle across Leipzig to a bank security vault. When the U.S. Army occupied the city in 1945, even Winston Churchill inquired after its fate. Unearthed intact, the manuscript was transferred by American truck to Wiesbaden to be reunited with the German owners. Only in 1960 was the first uncensored edition published, in French. The English edition arrived in 1966, just in time for the sexual revolution—and interest in Casanova has only grown since.

4 Industries Getting Rich Off the Drug War [Mike Riggs on Reason]

Marijuana legalization advocates like to point out that pot is safer than alcohol, if for no other reason than no one has ever died from a marijuana overdose. They also like to point out that the booze industry has been working to subvert drug policy reform for decades, at least going back to the early 90s when the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) FOIA’d the donation records for the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and found that it had accepted large donations from Jim Beam and Anheuser Busch.

Graphic: Stopping the Dead – a statistical look back at the Walking Dead series so far [Richard Johnson and Andrew Baar on The National Post]

While AMC lets The Walking Dead gang take a short mid-season break – the Post’s Andrew Barr and Richard Johnson look at a few of the key statistics of two-and-a-half season’s worth of undead mayhem. They find noteworthy – the gradual increase in the body count, the increasingly creative means of Zombie dispatch, and the fact that every character seems to have developed a clear enjoyment for putting the ambulatory cadavers down for good.

The mysteries of rabies [Maggie Koeth-Baker on Boing Boing]

But on the off-chance that I do come down with symptoms—there’ve been cases of rabies incubating for up to a year—is there really no hope? Well, sort of. Maybe. Ish. Researchers have been experimenting with a treatment that they think could save the lives of people with full-blown rabies. Called the Milwaukee Protocol, it involves putting the patient into a coma and also giving them antiviral medication. The idea is that the human immune system—with some help from antivirals—can fight off a rabies infection, while the coma limits damage to the brain that seems to be a common cause of rabies death. In 2004, a teenage girl who received this treatment became the first person—ever—to survive symptomatic rabies without having received the vaccine either before being bitten, or before symptoms appeared.

The problem: We still don’t know whether the Milwaukee Protocol actually works. It’s been tried—and failed—at least 13 times since 2004, according to a 2009 paper published in the journal Current Infectious Disease Reports. There are two reported successes, but in one of those the patient received the vaccine before her she became symptomatic. The other success is very recent and there aren’t many details available yet.

So why did the first girl survive? Again, nobody knows. It’s possible that either she had a particularly hardcore immune system, or the variant of the virus she contracted was particularly weak, or both. When she was diagnosed, she had rabies antibodies in her cerebral spinal fluid—something that would indicate the presence of rabies in her brain—but doctors weren’t able to isolate any actual virus—suggesting that her body was already on its way to winning the fight before the Milwaukee Protocol was used.

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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.

14
Sep
12

Roundup – Out through the Fallon Door

Line O’ The Day:

“There’s a whole book out now about just how greatly the Patriots benefited from stealing defensive signals during games. The spying was so extensive, according to one of author Bryan O’Leary’s sources, that Tom Brady might’ve known the defensive calls ahead of time on over 70 percent of his snaps. That’s fucking CHEATING. No wonder the Patriots haven’t won a Super Bowl since 2004. No wonder supposed offensive genuises like Charlie Weis and Josh McDaniels turned to sandy diarrhea after striking out on their own. It’s all so obvious in retrospect. You cheated, and now you suck because you can’t cheat. TEAR DOWN THE BELICHICK STATUE.”

– Drew Magary, Why Your Team Sucks 2012: New England Patriots [Deadspin]

Best of The Best:

World’s Healthiest Countries [Bloomberg Rankings]

To identify the healthiest countries in the world, Bloomberg Rankings created health scores and health-risk scores for countries with populations of at least 1 million. We subtracted the risk score from the health score to determine the country’s rank. Five-year averages, when available, were used to mitigate some of the short-term year-over-year swings.

Blind Mice Given Sight After Device Cracks Retinal Code [Bloomberg]

In research described today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists cracked the code the retina uses to communicate with the brain. The technology moves prosthetics beyond bright light and high-contrast recognition and may be adopted for human use within a year or two, said Sheila Nirenberg, a neuroscientist at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York and the study’s lead author.

Groupthink: The Brainstorming Myth [Jonah Lehrer on The New Yorker]

Nemeth’s experiment devised a way of escaping this trap. Pairs of subjects were shown a series of color slides in various shades of blue and asked to identify the colors. Sometimes one of the pair was actually a lab assistant instructed by Nemeth to provide a wrong answer. After a few minutes, the pairs were asked to free-associate about the colors they had seen. People who had been exposed to inaccurate descriptions came up with associations that were far more original. Instead of saying that “blue” reminded them of “sky,” they came up with “jazz” and “berry pie.” The obvious answer had stopped being their only answer. Even when alternative views are clearly wrong, being exposed to them still expands our creative potential. In a way, the power of dissent is the power of surprise. After hearing someone shout out an errant answer, we work to understand it, which causes us to reassess our initial assumptions and try out new perspectives. “Authentic dissent can be difficult, but it’s always invigorating,” Nemeth says. “It wakes us right up.”

The Paul Clement Court [Jason Zengerle on The New Yorker]

There are two ways to assess a Supreme Court argument. One is to view it as an act of persuasion. You can read Clement’s brief primarily as a letter to Justice Anthony Kennedy, who’ll likely be the deciding vote if the Court overturns Obama­care. Clement quotes Kennedy’s previous opinions throughout his brief, and he leans on broad themes rather than legalistic detail, which is a style that has worked to good effect on the justice in past cases. The other, more cynical way to view a Supreme Court argument is as an act of manipulation—to provide the justices with a plausible rationale for reaching a decision they’re already predisposed to make. If you believe that the Court’s conservative majority is itching to strike down Obamacare, then the task is to launder this decision of partisan motivation. And so Clement argues that there are, in fact, other ways to fix America’s health-care system without an individual mandate; it’s just that Congress chose not to avail itself of those means because they were politically unpopular.

“Tom Cruise Worships David Miscavige Like a God”: A Scientology Insider Gives First Full-Length Interview to the Voice  [Tony Ortega Interviews John Brousseau on The Village Voice]

When his father fell gravely ill a couple of years later, however, Brousseau was doing the RPF in Happy Valley. Getting out to see his father wasn’t going to be easy. “I kept getting all these delays because they were sec checking [interrogating] me to make sure I wouldn’t blow,” he says. “I got one call through to my dad. He said he was dying of liver cancer. And then he died before I could get there.” He finally arrived, and was asked to identify his father. “They brought me the wrong body. I was so numb,” he says. At the funeral, there were some old friends of his parents. He felt very alone. “I went to the house, and spent some days going through old photos,” he says.

His father had left him some money. But there was a catch. “He made it so I couldn’t touch it until I’m 60,” Brousseau says. “I guess he figured I couldn’t be trusted with it until I was out of the church. And he figured I’d be out by the time I was 60 years old.

“He was pretty smart.”

How Long Do You Want to Live? [David Ewing Duncan via The New York Times]

Over the past three years I have posed this query to nearly 30,000 people at the start of talks and lectures on future trends in bioscience, taking an informal poll as a show of hands. To make it easier to tabulate responses I provided four possible answers: 80 years, currently the average life span in the West; 120 years, close to the maximum anyone has lived; 150 years, which would require a biotech breakthrough; and forever, which rejects the idea that life span has to have any limit at all. I made it clear that participants should not assume that science will come up with dramatic new anti-aging technologies, though people were free to imagine that breakthroughs might occur — or not. The results: some 60 percent opted for a life span of 80 years. Another 30 percent chose 120 years, and almost 10 percent chose 150 years. Less than 1 percent embraced the idea that people might avoid death altogether.

Detective Work: The False Alzheimer’s Diagnosis [Melinda Beck on The Wall Street Journal]

Autopsy studies of nearly 1,000 dementia patients at 30 top centers supported by the National Institute on Aging from 2005 to 2010 found that between 17% and 30% of those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease had been misdiagnosed and had other conditions. The study, published in the Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology in April, also found nearly 40% of patients not diagnosed with Alzheimer’s during their lifetimes had evidence of Alzheimer’s when autopsied.

Who Really Lost the Apple vs. Samsung Case? You Did. [Matt Yglesias on Slate]

The verdict was essentially confirmation that under contemporary conditions, if you want to get in the technology game, a product people want to buy isn’t good enough. You’ll also need an arsenal of patents that you can use in countersuits to force a cross-licensing agreement with the incumbents you’re trying to challenge. Consequently, Samsung’s loss is a huge gain for a product-poor, patent-rich firm like RIM. The patent system operates as a kind of tax on today’s innovators, and the jury’s verdict confirms that the tax is not a small one. Optimists will say this kind of strong protection for first movers creates big financial incentives to innovate. But a more realistic view is that technology companies are generally trying their best to innovate and it’s simply difficult. In that view, jury rulings in favor of incumbents will simply reduce competition and raise prices for consumers.

Why the Brains of ‘Knowledge Workers’ Don’t Wear Out [Mark Miller on Reuters via The Fiscal Times]

A growing body of neuroscience research suggests that old dogs can learn new tricks, and that they can do it better than the young ones. Walton elaborates on how the scientific research connects with the real life experiences of successful midlife transformations in his new book, Boundless Potential: Transform Your Brain, Unleash Your Talents, Reinvent Your Work in Midlife and Beyond (McGraw-Hill). He concludes that our brains are wired not for retirement, but for constant reinvention. And that seniors can tap extraordinary creative and intellectual powers in the second half of life – if they put in the required work.

Obama takes Bush’s secrecy games one step further [Glenn Greenwald on Salon]

So Obama officials are eager to publicly tout the supposed benefits of the CIA’s drone programs in order to generate political gain for the President: to make him look like some sort of Tough, Brave Warrior single-handedly vanquishing Al Qaeda. The President himself boasts about how tightly controlled, precise and effective the CIA drones are. Everyone in the world knows the CIA has a drone program. It is openly discussed everywhere, certainly including the multiple Muslim countries where the drones routinely create piles of corpses, and by top U.S. Government officials themselves. But then when it comes time to test the accuracy of their public claims by requesting the most basic information about what is done and how execution targets are selected, and when it comes time to ask courts to adjudicate its legality, then suddenly National Security imperatives prevent the government even from confirming or denying the existence of the program: the very same program they’ve been publicly boasting and joking about. As the ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer put it after Obama publicly defended the program: “At this point, the only consequence of pretending that it’s a secret program is that the courts don’t play a role in overseeing it” – that, and ensuring that any facts that contradict these public claims remain concealed.

Havana Gets a Taste of the Free Market [Jens Glüsing on Der Spiegel]

But the Neptuno is no ordinary street. It is a laboratory for the experiments that President Raul Castro has prescribed for Cuba’s 11 million inhabitants. What happens in this area will demonstrate whether his ambitious project is a success. Castro wants to combine the state-run economy with market-based reforms in the hope of transforming Cuba into a sort of Caribbean Vietnam. However, Castro is still ruling out political liberalization. Allowing opposition groups would amount to “the legalization of the parties of imperialism,” he warned at a Communist Party congress in late January. So far, Cubans’ hopes that they might be allowed to travel abroad have been in vain since the regime has refused to amend its migration laws. Revolutionary veterans are still in charge in a country where the average age in the National Assembly is well over 70. And regime critics continue to be repressed. In the economic sphere, however, things that were once unthinkable are suddenly possible. To reduce expenses, the government recently laid off 500,000 employees. They are now permitted to open shops and handicraft businesses, sell real estate, cars and home-grown vegetables, or — as in the case of Perez — drive their own rickshaws. Within a year, the number of very small businesses has doubled to almost 350,000. Nevertheless, these ventures are still a far cry from being genuine small businesses or even privately owned companies.

The Family Hour: An Oral History of The Sopranos [Sam Kashner on Vanity Fair]

TERENCE WINTER (writer, executive producer): I watched 18 different versions of the last scene of the series finale. All very subtle variations on each other, but that was so painstaking, shot by shot by shot, and it took David weeks I think to put that ending together. I thought it was great. What I always took away from it was: when you’re Tony Soprano, even going out for ice cream with your family is going to be fraught with paranoia, and whether or not a guy comes out of that bathroom that night, eventually somebody’s going to come out of the bathroom somewhere. Maybe it happened that night, maybe it didn’t. But his legacy is paranoia and just that horrible distance that he lives in. I was shocked that people were so angry. It upset David that people would think, Oh, he’s trying to fuck with us. That it was David’s “Fuck you” to the audience. And David’s like, “I’m trying to entertain people. I’m trying to do something different that you haven’t seen before. I’m not trying to fuck with the audience.”

Condom Queues Incite Church Tensions in Philippines [Natasha Khan and Norman P. Aquino on Bloomberg]

One in five women of reproductive age in the Philippines have an unmet family planning need, the UN Population Fund says, leading to unintended pregnancies and population growth twice the Asian average. Relief may come from a reproductive health bill backed by President Benigno Aquino that promises free or subsidized contraception, especially for the poor, says Ugochi Daniels, the fund’s country representative in the Philippines…The bill has been re-filed and blocked in each three-year congressional term since it was introduced in legislature 14 years ago amid opposition from the Catholic Church — the faith of at least 80 percent of the nation’s 95 million people. This time, with presidential support, it may be put to a vote in congress in three months.

Will You Marry Me (After I Pay Off My Student Loans)? [Elizabeth Dworskin on Bloomberg Businessweek]

In 2007, the median age of a first marriage for males was 27.5 years old, and for females, 25.6 years old, according to IHS. By 2011 it crept up to 28.7 and 26.5, respectively. Fertility rates, defined as births per 1,000 women aged 15-44, decreased significantly from 69.3 in 2007 to just below 65 last year. (The marriage trend began earlier in the decade. Fertility rates, on the other hand, were going up until the recession hit.)

Can’t Help Myself [Dr. Timothy Wilson, Sherrell J. Aston professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, Reviews Charles Duhigg’s “The Power of Habit” via The New York Times]

There is another type of habitual behavior that involves more cognitive activity, namely people’s interpretation of a situation according to what it means for them and how it fits into the narratives they tell themselves. These behaviors are habitual in the sense that people have chronic ways of interpreting the world. A black college student’s “story,” for example, may be that she doesn’t belong at the ­majority-white university she attends, which causes her to fall into a pattern of disengagement and academic failure. Research shows that changing black students’ stories about their sense of belonging improves their academic performance and health throughout college. The point is that habitual behaviors come in many different forms, and squeezing them into one framework misses some of the nuances of how to change behavior effectively. In recent years social psychologists have developed many effective interventions to help people improve their lives, only some of which involve breaking bad habits in the way Duhigg describes.

Have You Ever Tried to Sell a Diamond? [Edward Jay Epstein on The Atlantic, February 1982]

De Beers proved to be the most successful cartel arrangement in the annals of modern commerce. While other commodities, such as gold, silver, copper, rubber, and grains, fluctuated wildly in response to economic conditions, diamonds have continued, with few exceptions, to advance upward in price every year since the Depression. Indeed, the cartel seemed so superbly in control of prices — and unassailable — that, in the late 1970s, even speculators began buying diamonds as a guard against the vagaries of inflation and recession. The diamond invention is far more than a monopoly for fixing diamond prices; it is a mechanism for converting tiny crystals of carbon into universally recognized tokens of wealth, power, and romance. To achieve this goal, De Beers had to control demand as well as supply. Both women and men had to be made to perceive diamonds not as marketable precious stones but as an inseparable part of courtship and married life. To stabilize the market, De Beers had to endow these stones with a sentiment that would inhibit the public from ever reselling them. The illusion had to be created that diamonds were forever — “forever” in the sense that they should never be resold.

In their subsequent investigation of the American diamond market, the staff of N. W. Ayer found that since the end of World War I, in 1919, the total amount of diamonds sold in America, measured in carats, had declined by 50 percent; at the same time, the quality of the diamonds, measured in dollar value, had declined by nearly 100 percent. An Ayer memo concluded that the depressed state of the market for diamonds was “the result of the economy, changes in social attitudes and the promotion of competitive luxuries.” Although it could do little about the state of the economy, N. W. Ayer suggested that through a well-orchestrated advertising and public-relations campaign it could have a significant impact on the “social attitudes of the public at large and thereby channel American spending toward larger and more expensive diamonds instead of “competitive luxuries.” Specifically, the Ayer study stressed the need to strengthen the association in the public’s mind of diamonds with romance. Since “young men buy over 90% of all engagement rings” it would be crucial to inculcate in them the idea that diamonds were a gift of love: the larger and finer the diamond, the greater the expression of love. Similarly, young women had to be encouraged to view diamonds as an integral part of any romantic courtship. Since the Ayer plan to romanticize diamonds required subtly altering the public’s picture of the way a man courts — and wins — a woman, the advertising agency strongly suggested exploiting the relatively new medium of motion pictures. Movie idols, the paragons of romance for the mass audience, would be given diamonds to use as their symbols of indestructible love. In addition, the agency suggested offering stories and society photographs to selected magazines and newspapers which would reinforce the link between diamonds and romance. Stories would stress the size of diamonds that celebrities presented to their loved ones, and photographs would conspicuously show the glittering stone on the hand of a well-known woman. Fashion designers would talk on radio programs about the “trend towards diamonds” that Ayer planned to start. The Ayer plan also envisioned using the British royal family to help foster the romantic allure of diamonds.

White Man Brutally Beaten For Allegedly Having Black Girlfriend [Ruth Manuel-Logan on NewsOne]

According to the 23-year-old, he and Bakre were leisurely strolling through the town’s square when suddenly they were approached by three black men who began barraging them with racial slurs. “One of them was making racial comments at us and one of them was blowing kisses. It was very aggravating,” Bakre said. Quade tried his best to ignore the comments.  “I didn’t want to freak out on them because I thought they were saying something about me and my girlfriend. I wanted to get more information and understand the situation. But before I could, I was knocked out,” Quade said.

Autism Diagnoses Up Sharply in U.S. [Shirley S. Wang on The Wall Street Journal]

One in every 88 U.S. children has been diagnosed with autism or an autism-related disorder, a government report says, up sharply since figures were last published in 2009. But the reasons for the increase largely remain a puzzle to public-health officials. The number of kids identified as “on the autism spectrum,” marked by substantial social impairment and repetitive behaviors, has been on the rise for years. Thursday’s numbers, put out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, show a 23% increase over data gathered in 2006 and a 78% increase from 2002. About five times as many boys as girls have been diagnosed, according to the latest data, similar to 2006. Public-health officials say that the jump is partly due to an increase in the identification and diagnosis of younger and minority children but that this wasn’t responsible for the entire trend. Whether there was actually an increase in the incidence of autism during the period remains a pressing question.

Richard Clarke on Who Was Behind the Stuxnet Attack [Ron Rosenbaum Interviews Richard Clarke on Smithsonian Magazine]

Clarke claims, for instance, that the manufacturer of the F-35, our next-generation fighter bomber, has been penetrated and F-35 details stolen. And don’t get him started on our supply chain of chips, routers and hardware we import from Chinese and other foreign suppliers and what may be implanted in them—“logic bombs,” trapdoors and “Trojan horses,” all ready to be activated on command so we won’t know what hit us. Or what’s already hitting us. “My greatest fear,” Clarke says, “is that, rather than having a cyber-Pearl Harbor event, we will instead have this death of a thousand cuts. Where we lose our competitiveness by having all of our research and development stolen by the Chinese. And we never really see the single event that makes us do something about it. That it’s always just below our pain threshold. That company after company in the United States spends millions, hundreds of millions, in some cases billions of dollars on R&D and that information goes free to China….After a while you can’t compete.”

The God of Gamblers: Why Las Vegas is moving to Macau. [Evan Osnos on The New Yorker]

Until recently, Macau looked as much Mediterranean as Chinese, with baroque Catholic churches and rows of cafés shaded by drooping palms, where old émigrés sipped café da manhã over the Jornal Tribuna. These days, the city also evokes a touch of the Persian Gulf. Government tax revenue is often more than double the budget, and, like Kuwait, Macau distributes occasional checks to its residents under a program named the Wealth Partaking Scheme. (Last year: eight hundred and seventy-five dollars per person.) Unemployment is below three per cent. “What Las Vegas did in seventy-five years, we are doing in fifteen,” Paulo Azevedo, the publisher of Macau Business and other local magazines, told me. The rush has left the city short of many things—taxis, roads, housing, medical services. “For dental, I have to go to Thailand,” Azevedo said. One month, Macau came close to running out of coins. The casinos have reordered the rhythms of life and work, in ways that are not universally celebrated. Au Kam San, a member of Macau’s Legislative Assembly, who works as a high-school teacher, told me, “My students have said, ‘I can go get a job in a casino right now and earn more than my teacher.’”

Secrets and Lies [Andrew Rosenthal on The New York Times]

The Bush administration kept secrets largely for bad reasons: It covered up its torture memos, the kidnapping of innocent foreign citizens, illegal wiretapping and other misdeeds. Barack Obama promised to bring more transparency to Washington in the 2008 campaign, but he has failed to do that. In some ways, his administration is even worse than the Bush team when it comes to abusing the privilege of secrecy.

Man whose WMD lies led to 100,000 deaths confesses all [Jonathan Owen on The Independent]

“Curveball”, the Iraqi defector who fabricated claims about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, smiles as he confirms how he made the whole thing up. It was a confidence trick that changed the course of history, with Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi’s lies used to justify the Iraq war. He tries to defend his actions: “My main purpose was to topple the tyrant in Iraq because the longer this dictator remains in power, the more the Iraqi people will suffer from this regime’s oppression.”

The bizarre calculus of emergency room charges [Steve Lopez on Los Angeles Times]

Dr. Phil Schwarzman, medical director of the emergency department at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center, has an insurance plan with a high deductible ($7,000). Like Gary Larson…, Schwarzman also paid about $350 for a scan on himself that would have cost much more if he went with his insurance company’s negotiated rate. A couple of years ago, his daughter needed an ultrasound for a possible gallstone. If he’d gone through his insurance company, he would have been charged $3,200, with insurance paying $1,500, leaving him a $1,700 bill. He chose instead to leave insurance out of the equation and pay cash instead. The price was $250. “It’s outrageous,” Schwarzman said. “I don’t know where they’re coming up with these numbers. Are they picking them out of a hat?”

Why Your Team Sucks 2012 [Drew Magary on Deadspin]

No one is EXCITED to draft Ryan Tannehill. Drafting Ryan Tannehill is something you do after drinking too much and intentionally doing something to hurt yourself.

Obscure film incites protests, attack that kills US ambassador to Libya and Anti-Islamic filmmaker Sam Bacile might not be a real person [Vince Mancini on FilmDrunk]

The tragedy here being, of course, that when dumbasses kill people over a dumbass film made by other dumbasses, you’d hope that the dead would at least be more dumbasses. Sadly, dumbasses, can’t aim, and some innocent diplomats paid the price.

Texas-Sized Safety Net Supports County Voting 83% Against Obama [Alan Bjerga on Bloomberg]

In bad years — like 2011 — he can rely on the government for help. Record-low rainfall triggered record-high crop insurance payouts of $125 million last year to local farmers, with taxpayers subsidizing $30.8 million of the $46.9 million of the premiums paid in the county that year. Loepky received about $1 million, which paid half of his loans for the year. Landowners such as Loepky who rely on the federal safety net are less fond of the man who heads the government offering it. Gaines voters backed John McCain — who voted against reauthorizing farm payments in 2008 — over subsidy-supporting Barack Obama by 83 percent to 16 percent, the most lopsided margin among the top 10 aid-receiving counties in the U.S.

Autism Linked to Obesity in Mothers [Shirley S. Wang on The Wall Street Journal]

Researchers said mothers who are obese are significantly more likely to have a child with autism or another developmental abnormality. The finding adds to the increasingly complex picture of possible factors that contribute to the disorders. About half the risk of autism, a condition characterized by poor social skills and repetitive behaviors, is genetic, researchers believe, while the rest stems from factors including older parental age, premature birth or failure to take prenatal vitamins…The link between obesity and developmental disorders is particularly worrisome because obesity has become so prevalent. About a third of U.S. women of reproductive age are considered obese, the authors said.

Starving in India: The Forgotten Problem [Ashwin Parulkar on The Wall Street Journal]

India is a nation that prides itself on having been self-sufficient in food production for decades and having leaped forward economically over the past 20 years. So it isn’t surprising that public officials and even many in the media are reluctant to face up to the painful reality that hunger persists in 2012. Starvation doesn’t fit neatly into the story of a “shining” India. But India is also a nation with about 360 million people living under the official poverty line – more than any other country – and starvation is all too real.

Obama targets journalists  [Jesselyn Radeck via Glenn Greenwald on Salon]

While the Bush administration treated whistleblowers unmercifully, the Obama administration has been far worse. It is actually prosecuting them, and doing so under the Espionage Act — one of the most serious charges that can be leveled against an American. The Espionage Act is an archaic World War I-era law meant to go after spies, not whistleblowers. Strangely, using it to target the media and sources is the brainchild of neo-conservative Gabriel Schoenfeld, who would have sources who disclose information to reporters, journalists who then write about it for newspapers, the newspapers that publish the information and the publisher itself all be held criminally liable. Everyone wants to know why Obama, with his pledge to “protect whistleblowers,” would do this.  After all, Obama’s transition agenda recognized that “[o]ften the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled.”  That’s not just a broken promise, it’s a complete reversal. At first I thought Obama’s war on whistleblowers was meant to appease the intelligence establishment, which saw him as weak. I soon recognized this assault as a devious way to create bad precedent for going after journalists.

Special Report: How Gaddafi scion went from reformer to reactionary [Marie-Louise Gumuchian on Reuters]

It was supposed to be an olive branch from the dictator’s son, an apology for those who had died at the start of the Libyan uprising, a pledge to reform Muammar Gaddafi’s four-decade old regime. But when Saif al-Islam Gaddafi appeared on television on February 20 last year, he sounded just like his defiant and rambling father. Wagging a finger at the camera, Saif al-Islam blamed Libyan exiles for fomenting the violence and warned of more bloodshed. There was mention of reform to Libya’s constitution, but it was hardly an offer of compromise.

Intoxicating Trends [Victoria Harris on History Today]

Germany has consistently attempted to avoid criminalising the use or possession of drugs such as heroin, preferring to regulate their trade. The criminalisation of its pharmaceutical industry’s products, which also included cocaine and amphetamines, would have been economically disastrous. But historically Germany has also had a distinct conceptualisation of intoxicants, which has led it to find fault not with the substance ingested­ but instead with certain behaviours of the user. Intoxication was not inherently sinful; rather some types of use were unhealthy, others part of normal group behaviour. Germany’s heavily interventionist state structure made regulating consumption rituals and the trade of products between companies and citizens relatively simple and acceptable. The United Kingdom, by contrast, because of its liberal individualistic tradition, focused on personal possession and consumption of intoxicants and, because it could not so routinely interfere in the private lives of its citizens, could best control problem behaviour through prohibiting problem-causing substances.

Kuka Robots Invade China as Wage Gains Put Machines Over Workers [Richard Weiss on Bloomberg]

Rising wages, a push for quality, and demands for faster production are prompting China’s manufacturing industry to buy more robots, helping European companies including Kuka and ABB Ltd. (ABBN) return lagging businesses into profit centers. Kuka’s robots have become twice as profitable as the company’s larger systems unit, and ABB turned its robot unit around in 2010.

In California, Economic Gap of East vs. West [Jennifer Medina on The New York Times]

Communities all along the state’s coastline have largely bounced back from the recession, some even prospering with high-tech and export businesses growing and tourism coming back. At the same time, communities from just an hour’s drive inland and stretching all the way to the Nevada and Arizona borders struggle with stubbornly high unemployment and a persistent housing crisis. And the same pattern holds the length of the state, from Oregon to the Mexican frontier.

A Startup’s Tool Helps Evade Iran’s Censors, for Now [John Tozzi on Bloomberg BusinessWeek]

Egyptians turned to VPNs when the Mubarak regime blocked access to Facebook and Twitter, which activists used to share information and organize protests. Workarounds such as AnchorFree’s Hotspot Shield, which Gorodyansky says has been downloaded 60 million times since 2007, are becoming increasingly important for people in countries where the Web is censored, particularly as repressive regimes get better at blocking access.

A Little Independent Energy Experiment on the Prairie [Maggie Koerth-Baker on Smithsonian Magazine]

The cadence of Meschke’s voice plodded along, but her hands were restless—fidgeting with themselves, drawing little circles on her notepad. She dealt in the small, deliberate details that got public works projects accomplished—the boring stuff for which bureaucracy was basically invented. Yet she talked in the language of a rabble-rouser, about tossing out the old ways and taking risks on new ideas. It was this part of Meschke’s personality that led her to see small-scale local energy as a solution, both to the water-quality problems she’d been fighting for decades and to the threat of soil erosion—which had created the dust storms that plagued my trip to Madelia. Meschke thought that local energy could solve both of those issues, because it could give farmers an opportunity to get paid for growing something other than corn. Make no mistake, the Madelia Model is about biofuel, but it is not about ethanol. This part of the country needs less corn, not more, Meschke told me. Right now, corn and, to a lesser extent, soybeans are pretty much the only crops being grown. Corn takes up more than 45 percent of all available farmland in southern Minnesota, as well as in parts of Nebraska, Indiana, and Illinois—and pretty much every square inch of Iowa. In those same areas, depending on the county, soybeans chalk up anywhere from 15 percent to more than 45 percent of farmland. From the outside, this system can seem a little illogical, but it’s simply specialization. It’s no different from a factory making only shoes instead of a closet full of different clothing products. It’s easier to become an expert on two crops, rather than on 20, and you can grow more for less of an up-front investment. Also, frankly, corn and soybeans pay off. There’s a big industrial demand for those plants that broccoli can’t match. When demand falls, there are also ample subsidies to guarantee that farmers make at least a certain price for their crops, with government money picking up the market’s slack.

Curiously Strong Remains:

ΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩ

When Will We Forget? [xkcd]

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05
Jan
12

Roundup – Community with the Dragon Tattoo

Line O’ the Day:

The MVP dilemma. Brees made it a horse race, and more than that.

It’s a horse race… ONLY THE HORSES ARE ALSO CARRYING GUNS.

– Big Daddy Drew, Which Interesting NFL Columnist Relies On The Legendary Josh Bickford For His MVP Thinky Thoughts? [KSK]

Best of the Best:

‘Magic Mushrooms’ Return to Psychology Labs 40 Years After Leary [Elizabeth Lopatto on Bloomberg]

Almost 40 years after Richard Nixon called former Harvard University psychologist Timothy Leary the most dangerous man in America for promoting use of hallucinogenic substances, there is a rebirth of interest in their therapeutic benefits. Reamer was enrolled in a clinical trial at Johns Hopkins to relieve fear of death in cancer patients, one of a half-dozen similar studies under way at New York University, Harvard, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of New Mexico. The new research, largely driven by the psychiatric community, is also testing psychedelics for use against depression, chronic headaches and addiction as current scientists, much like their 1960s predecessors, seek to understand the “consciousness-expanding” effects of the drugs.

‘It was priceless’: The moment angry Pearl Harbor veterans gave the stars of Hawaii Five-O a mass one-fingered salute [Mail Online]

The obscene gesture was delivered in unison from a bus as they were leaving, and left them all in stitches of laughter. Mr Tubbs said: ‘This was immature of me, but I said, “Gentlemen, if you so choose, how about we give them one big one-fingered military salute?”’ The last thing the production crew saw, he said, was a bunch of 90-year-old men flipping the bird at them. ‘It was one of the priceless moments of my life.’

Americans Set “Rich” Threshold at $150,000 in Annual Income [Gallup]

Americans say they would need to earn a median of $150,000 a year to consider themselves rich. However, 30% say less than $100,000 would be enough, including 18% who would consider themselves rich if they made less than $60,000 a year. On the other hand, 15% say they would need to earn at least $1 million per year before thinking of themselves as rich.

Why We Unfriend People on Facebook [Nielsen via The Atlantic Wire]

A newly release chart from Nielsen shows the most common reasons we friend — and more importantly, unfriend — people on Facebook. The No. 1 reason anyone sends anyone else a friend request is obvious: they know the person IRL. But our reasons for performing that online sacrilege that is unfriending are of course juicier. Most of those surveyed (55 percent) say they have unfriended someone because of “offensive comments” they have made, followed by not knowing the friend well enough at 44 percent.

The More Things on the Small Screen Change [Terry Teachout on The Wall Street Journal]

Network television as we know it came into being on Sept. 4, 1951, when AT&T threw the switch on the first transcontinental coaxial cable. Up to that time, TV had been an essentially regional phenomenon. The most important network shows were all performed live in New York, and the only way for West Coast viewers to see them was for fuzzy-looking film copies called “kinescopes” to be shipped to Los Angeles and broadcast a week later. The coaxial cable changed that by making it possible to transmit live video signals from coast to coast—in both directions. Within a matter of months, Hollywood had become a major center of TV production.

The Worst Hockey Game Ever: On Nov. 9, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay Did Literally Nothing for Long Stretches [Mike Sileski on The Wall Street Journal]

Twenty-seven seconds after the puck was dropped, as the Flyers took possession in their own end, things got weird. Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds passed the puck backward to defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who slid it over to fellow defender Braydon Coburn in the right faceoff circle. There Coburn just leaned on his stick, with the puck at rest behind the blade. The aim of this tactic, Laviolette said in an interview later, was to force Tampa to drop the defensive style it had used to such great effect before. By having Coburn stand still, Laviolette hoped to draw the Tampa forward at the top of the 1-3-1 alignment out to challenge the puck-carrier—thereby taking Tampa’s defense out of the trap. What Laviolette didn’t anticipate is that the Lightning’s forward, Martin St. Louis, would never go anywhere near Coburn. Instead, he stayed in the circle in the middle of the ice in his proper spot. After watching Coburn do nothing for close to 30 seconds, referees Rob Martell and Chris Rooney blew their whistles to stop play, then told Laviolette that his players have to keep the puck in motion. The crowd began to boo.

Far Fewer Enter U.S. Illegally From Mexico [Miriam Jordan on The Wall Street Journal]

At 150,000 last year, Mexican immigration to the U.S. was one-fifth of what it was in 2000, when 750,000 Mexicans flocked to the U.S., the majority of them illegally. All told, net immigration from Mexico is “essentially zero,” said [Jeffrey Passel, a senior researcher at the independent Pew Hispanic Center]. Nearly 21,500 agents, about twice as many as in 2004, guard the Southwestern border. They are backed by hundreds of miles of fencing and high-tech surveillance, including thermal imaging and unmanned aerial systems. Mexican drug cartels also may play a role in discouraging people. The cartels often ply the same routes to the U.S. that undocumented immigrants use, making those paths violent and dangerous. Some crossers have been forced to serve as drug carriers for cartels. Some demographers say more undocumented Mexicans may be leaving the U.S. than arriving as a downturn in construction, hospitality and other industries makes low-skill jobs scarce. Thousands of illegal immigrants have lost their jobs after the U.S. has audited company payrolls to find undocumented workers.

The Limits of Bigger Penalties in Fighting Financial Crime [Peter J. Henning, professor at Wayne State University Law School via New York Times Dealbook]

Before any punishment for financial misconduct can be imposed, the government must prove an intentional violation, which in a criminal case requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt. That is often the rub, because the perceived financial “crimes” committed by Wall Street firms and others believed responsible for the financial crisis would involve showing intent to defraud, a difficult standard to meet. The recent collapse of MF Global is a good example of just how hard it will be to prove criminal violations. A lawyer for the bankruptcy trustee said that the apparent loss of more than $1 billion in customer money was the result of “suspicious” transactions. The New York Times reported that there were multiple instances in which customer money was used to keep the firm afloat, perhaps going back as far as August 2011. In his testimony last week before the House Agriculture Committee, Jon S. Corzine, MF Global’s former chief executive, said he had no idea how the customer money disappeared. He asserted that he “never intended to break any rules,” and that if any employee claimed the transfers were at his direction, then he was “misunderstood.” This is the classic defense offered by senior corporate officers when there is wrongdoing at a firm, that they were not directly involved and therefore did not have the intent to mislead. Any decision to transfer customer money likely involved multiple layers of corporate management, meaning that fingers can be pointed elsewhere if no one had the primary responsibility for the decision.

Life Under the Gaze of Gadhafi’s Spies [Margaret Coker and Paul Sonne on The Wall Street Journal]

Mr. Mehiri’s tangle with the Libyan surveillance apparatus shows how U.S. and European interception technology, though often exported for the stated purpose of tracking terrorists, could instead be deployed against dissidents, human-rights campaigners, journalists or everyday enemies of the state—all categories that appear in Libyan surveillance files reviewed by the Journal. The story also underscores how the intelligence apparatus overseen by Mr. Senussi, the spy chief, invaded the lives of Libyans amid acquiescence from the West.

Blinded by the ‘animal spirits’ myth [Daniel Ben-Ami on FundWeb]

The statistic used more than any other to support this argument is that about 70% of American GDP is accounted for by consumption. At first sight it seems like game, set and match to the proponents of consumer capitalism. It also appears to follow that the recipe for economic recovery lies in reviving consumer demand or what are sometimes called the “animal spirits”. Once consumers regain confidence it is argued that the economy should move back to an upward path.  If only the 70% figure were interrogated more often it would become clear it does not support the consumer capitalism argument. On the contrary, capitalism is just as dependent on production as in the past. Indeed without the act of production it would not be possible to have any consumption. Once this point is understood it provides a fundamentally different perspective on solutions for the current crisis.

Curiously Strong Remains:

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ΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩ

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.

16
Dec
11

Roundup – Island of Doctor Logan

Line O’ the Day:

Wolfman Rob: You’re putting me on, right? Your name’s not Jason. It’s Jamie Crandall.

Garrett: IT’S JASON GARRETT. OF THE HUNTING VALLEY GARRETTS.

Wolfman Rob: Huh. Wonder why I’ve always thought of you as Jamie Crandall. Must have been a name I saw in a Marmaduke strip or somethin’.

– Big Daddy Drew, Princeton Boy Has A Hard Time Mastering Timeoutgate [KSK]

Best of the Best:

Tweet Science [Joe Hagan on New York Magazine]

The problem starts, he says, with an empty box. The box is on a user’s Twitter home page, where the company’s signature timeline is supposed to crawl down, overflowing with 140-character bon mots, witty and interesting and profound. But when you sign up, there’s nothing in it. It’s like turning on the TV and being confronted with a test signal.

As it stands, Twitter’s interface has yet to mature beyond a chronology of tweets, from most recent to oldest, that necessarily drops people into the water without much context, forcing users to experience Twitter as a snapshot of comments and a somewhat random and not particularly useful list of “trending topics,” or to enter a search term in hopes that something pertinent or entertaining will emerge from the millions of tweets. “In general, a lot of what Twitter is is unstructured information,” an executive at Facebook tells me. This, in a sense, is a programming challenge.

Sons of the Revolution [Jon Lee Anderson on The New Yorker]

By the end of February, rebels had assumed control of a series of coastal cities throughout the east. Soon after, military units operating out of Qaddafi’s tribal stronghold of Surt, halfway along the coast toward Tripoli, began advancing on the “liberated” territory. They struck first in Brega, on March 2nd, and were repulsed after a day of combat in which about a dozen civilian volunteers from Benghazi were killed. Osama decided that he needed to do more: “I could see that this is war now, and it is necessary to help.” Since then, Osama had undergone a transformation. “Before I left Libya, there was nothing left for me here,” he said. “Now, when I see the sea, I smell a different air. I can see the sky, blue; I have never seen it so beautiful.” He said that his friends in Martinsville had appealed to him not to go to Libya. “I reminded them that Henry County was named after Patrick Henry—and remember what he said, ‘Give me liberty or give me death’? Well, that’s what we’re facing here. I’d like to see my country have some of the freedom that America has.” Osama’s eyes shone. “You know, my son Muhannad has showed me what it is to be a man. He woke me up.” On February 25th, a ship had evacuated American citizens to Malta. “I told him to go and join his mother in the States, but he said, ‘No, Dad, I must stay.’ He’s a great guy, a basketball player, you know. And a Boy Scout.”

The “Last Place Aversion” Paradox: The surprising psychology of the Occupy Wall Street protests [Ilyana Kuziemko and Michael I. Norton on Scientific American]

Support for redistribution, surprisingly enough, has plummeted during the recession. For years, the General Social Survey has asked individuals whether “government should reduce income differences between the rich and the poor.” Agreement with this statement dropped dramatically between 2008 and 2010, the two most recent years of data available.  Other surveys have shown similar results. What might explain this trend? First, the change is not driven by wealthy white Republicans reacting against President Obama’s agenda: the drop is if anything slightly larger among minorities, and Americans who self-identify as having below average income show the same decrease in support for redistribution as wealthier Americans. Our recent research suggests that, far from being surprised that many working-class individuals would oppose redistribution, we might actually expect their opposition to rise during times of turmoil – despite the fact that redistribution appears to be in their economic interest. Our work suggests that people exhibit a fundamental loathing for being near or in last place – what we call “last place aversion.” This fear can lead people near the bottom of the income distribution to oppose redistribution because it might allow people at the very bottom to catch up with them or even leapfrog past them.

Bias, Blindness and How We Truly Think [Daniel Kahneman professor of psychology emeritus at Princeton University and professor of psychology and public affairs emeritus at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his work with Amos Tverksy on decision making via Bloomberg]

I am my remembering self, and the experiencing self, who does my living, is like a stranger to me.

In India, Whistle Blowers Pay with Their Lives [Mehul Srivastava and Andrew MacAskill on Bloomberg Businessweek]

According to 2008 field experiments by Leonid Peisakhin and Paul Pinto, then doctoral candidates at Yale University, filing an RTI request is almost as effective for slum dwellers as paying a bribe to get a new ration card sooner for food and cooking supplies. “This is the most important piece of legislation passed in post-independence India,” said Subhash Agrawal, an RTI activist who successfully campaigned to make Supreme Court judges’ and ministers’ assets public. “It is a tragedy that these people have died, but it is also a sign of how powerful a tool the law is.”

College Football Would Love It If You’d Waste Your Time Complaining About Bowl Matchups [Barry Petchesky on Deadspin]

The NCAA loves this. They want you to spend your energy hating the BCS or Jim Tressel or The U and forget that these things can be fixed cosmetically without altering the ideology that puts money earned by player into the pockets of their pimps. It’s almost as if college football knowingly designed a flawed system to distract us from the broken core. Every piece you see today railing against the bowl selections? That’s us, ignoring the forest to hack at a few trees.

Russian communists win support as Putin party fades [Alissa del Carbonnel on Reuters]

Not that the Communist Party’s doubling of its vote to about 20 percent presages any imminent assault on power. The memories of repression in the old communist Soviet Union, the labor camps and the “Red Terror” are still too fresh for many. But vote they did, if perhaps with gritted teeth. “With sadness I remember how I passionately vowed to my grandfather I would never vote for the Communists,” Yulia Serpikova, 27, a freelance location manager in the film industry, told Reuters. “It’s sad that with the ballot in hand I had to tick the box for them to vote against it all.”

Is Suburbia Doomed? Not So Fast. [Joel Kotkin via Forbes]

Generally speaking, aging boomers tended to move out of dense urban cores, and to a lesser extent, even the suburbs. If they moved anywhere, they were headed further out in metropolis towards the more rural area. Among cities the biggest beneficiaries have been low-density cities in the Southwest and southern locales such as Charlotte, Raleigh and Austin. What about the other big demographic, the millennials? Like previous generations of urbanists, the current crop mistake a totally understandable interest in cities among post-adolescents. Yet when the research firm Frank Magid asked millennials what made up their “ideal” locale, a strong plurality opted for suburbs — far more than was the case in earlier generations. Generational analysts Morley Winograd and Mike Hais note that older millennials — those now entering their 30s — are as interested in homeownership as previous generations. This works strongly in favor of suburbs since they tend to be more affordable and, for the most part, offer safer streets, better parks and schools.

‘Harry Potter and yoga are evil’, says Catholic Church exorcist [Nick Squires on The Telegraph]

Father Gabriele Amorth, who for years was the Vatican’s chief exorcist and claims to have cleansed hundreds of people of evil spirits, said yoga is Satanic because it leads to a worship of Hinduism and “all eastern religions are based on a false belief in reincarnation”. Reading JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books is no less dangerous, said the 86-year-old priest, who is the honorary president for life of the International Association of Exorcists, which he founded in 1990, and whose favourite film is the 1973 horror classic, The Exorcist…His views may seem extreme, but in fact reflect previous warnings by Pope Benedict XVI, when as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger he was the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s enforcer of doctrinal orthodoxy. In 1999, six years before he succeeded John Paul II as Pope, he issued a document which warned Roman Catholics of the dangers of yoga, Zen, transcendental meditation and other ‘eastern’ practises. They could “degenerate into a cult of the body” that debases Christian prayer, the document said.

Mall Rats Can’t Bring About the Wealth of Nations [Caroline Baum on Bloomberg]

Besides, there is something fundamentally wrong with a culture that promotes spending as the key to health and wealth. A multidecade borrowing-and-spending binge whittled the U.S. savings rate from an average of 9.6 percent in the 1970s, to 8.6 percent in the 1980s, to 5.5 percent in the 1990s, to 3.3 percent in the 2000s. At one point during the housing bubble, the savings rate approached zero…The Federal Reserve is complicit, too, in discouraging saving by holding its benchmark rate close to zero and pledging to keep it there at least through mid-2013. Consumers aren’t getting paid to save. The rate they can earn on bank deposits is negative when adjusted for current or expected inflation. Therefore, they spend. High real rates induce consumers to forgo current spending and save…Even the stock market applauds more “consumption,” a synonym for spending I try to avoid. A former editor said the word made him think of people wasting away from tuberculosis, which happens to be Merriam-Webster’s first definition. It was enough to convince me. In the context of this column, however, the alternate definition seems appropriate: “the utilization of economic goods in the satisfaction of wants … resulting chiefly in their destruction, deterioration, or transformation.” “Destruction” should be a tip-off that whatever it is, it isn’t wealth.

Rampant porn if Saudi women allowed to drive: Report [QMI Agency via CNews]

If the only country in the world that still bans women from driving were to change its rules, there would be “a surge in prostitution, pornography, homosexuality and divorce.” Within 10 years of the ban being lifted, the report claimed, there would be “no more virgins” in the country, according to the paper. Currently, women caught driving in the kingdom may be lashed as punishment.

What is the most scientific way to optimize your driving time? [Keith Veronese on io9]

Across car types, the ideal speed for one’s car is between 55 and 60 miles per hour. There will be slight variants based on the type of car (SUV vs. aerodynamic Sedan), but this speed is a good starting point across car types. For every 5 miles per hour over 60 mph, fuel efficiency decreases by approximately 8 percent, with this decrease in efficiency compounding with a further increase in velocity…Let’s say the speed limit is 70 mph (113 kph) and you have a 280 mile interstate journey ahead of you…For the sake of argument, let’s say your average speed over the trip is 78 mph (126 kph) – eight miles above the limit in most states. You just risked a ticket, probably spent the last 3.6 hours of your life stressed out and paranoid, and killed your car’s fuel efficiency to spend 24 extra minutes with your relatives – time that will likely be spent sitting in front of a television watching Storage Wars. You’re a winner (in the game of life)!

The Child Psychology of Sesame Street [Esther Inglis-Arkell on io9]

A bigger controversy was to come later. Snuffleupagus, a big hairy mammoth, started appearing to Big Bird, the show’s most iconic character. When Big Bird mentioned him to others, or called them over to meet him, the mammoth disappeared. This went on for quite some time, while a debate raged behind the scenes. Some psychologists insisted that it was natural for kids to have, and talk about, their imaginary friends and private lives. If people never saw ‘Snuffy,’ but they still accepted Big Bird, that would relax those kids. Others psychologists objected. Kids would not see the giant hairy elephant on the screen as imaginary. They would see it as real, and see other characters not believing Big Bird when he was telling them the truth. Children who had painful secrets, such as abuse or neglect, needed validation that what they saw was real and would be believed. Eventually, Snuffy was seen by others, and became part of the regular cast.

Paris exhibit reveals the unspeakable horrors of the Human Zoo [The Guardian via io9]

In 1906 a Congolese Mbuti pygmy named Ota Benga was caged and put on display at the monkey house in New York’s Bronx zoo to demonstrate “human evolution.” In the 1840s, a boy with a small skull was sold to P.T. Barnum. There, he would be called Zip and made to wear a fur suit and scream at the audience in a show called “What Is It?”

The Myth of Multiple Personality Disorder [Esther Inglis-Arkell on io9]

Sybil‘s influence on society cannot be overstated. Aside from the massive amount of money the disorder made for Hollywood, hospitals opened up entire wings to treat a sudden influx of multiple personality patients. Some patients came to doctors believing the disorder put a name to what they already felt, some wanted to make a buck on the book deal, some wanted attention and care. Not all the interest came from the patient’s end. Unscrupulous doctors went on the hunt for patients. Everyone wanted a multiple personality case to call their own. Then came the debunking of the book and the bane of any cultural phenomenon: lawsuits. In the early 1990s patients started suing doctors for using drugs and threats of abandonment to coerce more personalities into showing up for their sessions. Then patients, some of whom had spent years in hospitals, started suing for misdiagnoses. Money and fame went out the door and bankruptcy and infamy strolled in. No one wanted to diagnose anyone with multiple personalities anymore. It was in the mid-nineties that the name was changed to dissociative identity disorder.

NASA Confirms Discovery of the most Earth-like Planet Yet [NASA via io9]

Kepler-22b is a different story. Sure, the planet orbits about 15% closer to its star than Earth does to the Sun, but its star is also significantly cooler, dimmer, and smaller than ours. And while scientists have yet to determine K-22b’s composition — be it rocky, gaseous or liquid — they estimate that surface temperatures on K-22b average a very Earth-like 72-degrees Fahrenheit…NASA’s Kepler mission (which is charged with identifying Earth-like planets throughout the Milky Way galaxy) has certainly turned up habitable zone planet candidates in the past, but Kepler 22-b is the first of these candidates to be officially confirmed.

Jobs Report Shows Structural Unemployment Is the Real Problem [Zachary Karabell on The Daily Beast]

This is an employment crisis not of college-educated women (just read into the data compiled by the BLS every month) who have an unemployment rate of barely more than 4 percent and decent wages. This is a crisis of men who did not go to college, who do not have the tools and never acquired the skills—knowing how to learn—that are so needed today. They have the skills to build homes that aren’t being built and to man the factories of yesterday rather than the high-tech lines of today. No set of Washington policies enacted in the near term will fix that. What growth there is in economic life comes from highly efficient business, not robust demand for goods and services.

Bedbugs’ Rampant Incest Colonizes Entire Apartment Buildings, Study Finds [Bloomberg]

Bedbugs inbreed without ill effects, the researchers said, so even a single female bedbug can lead to a colony of the blood-sucking insects as a result of rampant incest. Three colonized buildings in North Carolina and New Jersey suggested the invasion started with only one or two insects. Another study traced 21 infestations from Maine to Floridaand found most began in a single room…Bedbugs were almost eliminated in the U.S. 60 years ago by the pesticide DDT. International travel probably aided a resurgence in the past 30 years, said Schal, also a study author. The research was presented today at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Philadelphia. While their bites cause itchy allergic reactions, they don’t spread disease. The number of infestations from the insects, which feed only on blood, has grown as much as 100-fold since 1990, said Rajeev Vaidyanathan, associate director of diseases from animals at SRI International, which is based in Menlo Park, California, in a statement.

How military spent $1TRILLION on weapons since 9/11… and bought far more M4 guns and Stryker tanks than intended [Mail Online]

But the report claimed 10 of the 14 most expensive weapons programmes have already received least 88 per cent of their projected financing. ‘I was surprised at how much they had already done,’ report author R. Russell Rumbaugh told the New York Times.  The Air Force and Navy received more money for weapons spending than the Army and Marines, he added. ‘There will always be debate over what forces and equipment our military should pursue, but we should not ignore significant advances,’ he wrote.

Curiously Strong 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.

04
Dec
11

Roundup – The Chiefs React to the Twilight: Breaking Dawn trailer

Line O’ the Day:

Ryan: Oh, men. Oh, men. Men, took a shit this morning that had me blocked up like the goddamned Holland Tunnel. Soon as that turd got halfway out, it sat there in the pocket like a fucking rookie. And I had to figure out whether or not to dig that fucker out, or have faith in it to get me out of a jam. And sure as shit, forty minutes later that turd dropped. That’s you, Nacho. You are that green turd that needs a little more patience than I usually have.

Sex Cannon: I had that happen to me once when I was taking a dump on a freshman.

Ryan: Is that right?

Sanchez: Don’t listen to him, Coach. He’s not even supposed to be here.

Sex Cannon: I guess I just like violating things. Do you like violating things, Coach?

Ryan: You know I do.

Sex Cannon: I bet you and I could do some violating together, you know. You know I throw like I fuck, right?

Ryan: Let’s see it, buster.

Sex Cannon: All right.

(throws the ball seventy yards, gets intercepted by an overturned traffic cone)

Sex Cannon: HOW YOU LIKE THAT?

Ryan: Goddamn, that was impressive! You see that, Nacho?

Sanchez: Whatever.

Sex Cannon: AGAIN!

(throws the ball into the mouth of a homeless child)

Sex Cannon: BINGO BANGO! DOUBLE BONUS!

– Big Daddy Drew, The Last Temptation Of Rex [KSK]

Best of the Best:

Running For Three Yards Is Like Going Backwards [Brian Burke on Advanced NFL Stats via Deadspin]

Running has its purpose and is an essential part of every effective offense. It’s needed to constrain defenses, to keep them guessing, and to set up play-action passes. It’s necessary in short yardage, and it’s actually underused in the red zone, where pass defenses have less real estate to cover and throwing is thus more difficult. Running is also needed to run out the clock and minimize the chance of turnovers when the offense is trying to hold a lead. Even so, today’s affinity for smashmouth, slobberknocking football is irrational. It’s not 1977 anymore, and running the ball for nostalgia’s sake is counterproductive. Underdogs need high variance plays to win, and downfield passing is all about high variance—big risks with bigger rewards. In contrast, running is low variance. Teams that are strong in all phases of the game have the luxury of running the ball. Fans and commentators see strong teams run the ball often and think it’s the running that causes the winning, when it’s really the other way around. Even when teams are better at running than they are at passing, they’re trapped in a paradox. Unless your team has an all-world defense, you’ll eventually end up trailing. Incomplete passes or short runs on either first or second down typically lead to third-and-long situations, requiring a pass. The worse an offense is at passing, then, the more often they’ll need to do it, and the more they’re forced to play to their weakness.

Dan Lozano: Albert Pujols’s Superagent, “King Of Sleaze Mountain” [Barry Petchesky on Deadspin]

Lozano told USA Today that the allegations against him are the product of jealous agents whom he’s beaten out for the biggest names in the game. That doesn’t mean the claims are lies, or that they can’t be verified by people familiar with his past. Among the people who were willing to discuss their experiences with Lozano, there was anger that he’d been able to get away with his tactics for so long without repercussions. But there was also pity and a sense that everything got away from Dan Lozano long ago, and the life he’s living is no longer the one he wanted, but one that requires more lies to keep it going. For an agent, it’s possible to keep up a life like that indefinitely—at least until somebody decides it’s time to take you down.

Bulging Jails Are Other American Exception [Albert Hunt on Bloomberg]

There are 2.3 million people behind bars, almost one in every 100 Americans. The federal prison population has more than doubled over the past 15 years, and one in nine black children has a parent in jail. Proportionally, the U.S. has four times as many prisoners as Israel, six times more than Canada or China, eight times more than Germany and 13 times more than Japan. With just a little more than 4 percent of the world’s population, the U.S. accounts for a quarter of the planet’s prisoners, and has more inmates than the leading 35 European countries combined. Almost all the other nations with high per capita prison rates are in the developing world. There’s also a national election in America soon. This issue isn’t on the agenda. It’s almost never come up with Republican presidential candidates; one of the few exceptions was a debate in September when the audience cheered the governor of Texas, Rick Perry, because his state has carried out a record number of executions. Barack Obama, the first black president, rarely mentions this question or how it disproportionately affects minorities. More than 60 percent of America’s prisoners are black or Hispanic, though these groups comprise less than 30 percent of the population.

Bloomberg’s Long War Against Protests [Ben Adler on The Atlantic Cities]

In the wake of September 11, the NYPD put together an impressive, sophisticated operation to prevent terrorist attacks. But critics worry that the city is incapable of distinguishing democratic dissent from legitimate threats. Police habitually interrogated protesters they arrested about past protest activities until it was exposed that they were doing so, and they still monitor protests with a heavy hand.”The NYPD is engaged in massive surveillance, they videotape every demonstration,” says Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “They did it at the RNC and they do it at Occupy Wall Street.” Despite Bloomberg’s socially liberal views on issues from immigration to abortion and gay marriage, he is no civil libertarian. “When Bloomberg started as mayor, the first thing he did was disband the Decency Commission, a Giuliani legacy that censored art,” recalls Lieberman. “We thought, ‘Wow, this would be a different era.'” But after Bloomberg’s response to anti-war demonstrations, they knew better. “He’s not Giuliani, but he’s not the great champion of protest rights that he would claim,” says Lieberman.

How Paulson Gave Hedge Funds Advance Word of Fannie Mae Rescue [Richard Teitelbaum on Bloomberg]

After a perfunctory discussion of the market turmoil, the fund manager says, the discussion turned to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Paulson said he had erred by not punishing Bear Stearns shareholders more severely. The secretary, then 62, went on to describe a possible scenario for placing Fannie and Freddie into “conservatorship” — a government seizure designed to allow the firms to continue operations despite heavy losses in the mortgage markets. Paulson explained that under this scenario, the common stock of the two government-sponsored enterprises, or GSEs, would be effectively wiped out. So too would the various classes of preferred stock, he said. The fund manager says he was shocked that Paulson would furnish such specific information — to his mind, leaving little doubt that the Treasury Department would carry out the plan. The managers attending the meeting were thus given a choice opportunity to trade on that information.

Book Notes: Steve Jobs Blasted Teachers’ Unions, Planned Digital Textbook Feature for iPad [Walter Issacson via Anthony Rebora on Teaching Now via Education Week]

Jobs also attacked America’s education system, saying that it was hopelessly antiquated and crippled by union work rules. Until the teachers’ unions were broken, there was almost no hope for education reform. Teachers should be treated as professionals, he said, not as industrial assembly-line workers. Principals should be able to hire and fire them based on how good they were. Schools should be staying open until at least 6 p.m. and be in session eleven months of the year. It was absurd, he added, that American classrooms were still based on teachers standing at a board and using textbooks. All books, learning materials, and assessments should be digital and interactive, tailored to each student and providing feedback in real time.

Curiously Strong 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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