Posts Tagged ‘sleep

04
Feb
14

Roundup – Fight Club Minus Tyler Durden

Line O’ The Day:

Also of note, in the first film (well third film/first reboot…) Colin Farrell hammed it up as a vampire named Jerry.  In this film we get Jaime Murray (who, to be fair, I do recognize from a few Syfy shows, and admitting that makes me sad) playing a sexy lady vampire named Gerri.  Cute, huh?  You think she’ll turn out to be Jerry’s sister, like the sexy lady vampire was in the original Fright Night sequel?  That would be pretty neat, huh?  A reboot’s sequel that tries to reboot the original’s sequel, what fun! It’s like we need a whole new term like ‘bootquel’ or ‘resequel’ or ‘re-quel’ or ‘shit’.

– Morton Salt, Your Mid-Week Guide To DVD & Blu-ray [FilmDrunk]

Best of the Best:

The Daily Diets of Different Nations, Squeezed Into One Awesome Chart [John Metcalfe on The Atlantic Cities]

In no surprise, it turns out that denizens of wealthier countries consume foodstuffs generally seen as more tasty and desirable, like steak and milk. Poorer countries subsist heavily on rugged stuff like plant tubers and “oilcrops,” meaning for the most part soybeans and their derivatives…Mali seems to be the world leader for the ingestion of cereals (excluding beer, sadly). More than two-thirds of what a Malian eats every day might be grains. The biggest slurper of animal fats is carnivorous Canada, where such viscous substances make up an average of 7 percent of a person’s daily diet. The United States’ hunger for meat is outshone only by China’s – dead animals constitute 12 and 14 percent of the typical day’s meals, respectively. Japan and the U.S. are tied for consumption of “stimulants.” The most offal-loving nation appears to be South Africa. Oh, and the planet’s No. 1 chugger of alcohol? That would seem to be Russia, although it has heavy competition from the European Union and Uganda.

This Guy’s Wife Got Cancer, So He Did Something Unforgettable.  [Angelo Merendino via Viralnova]

The first time photographer Angelo Merendino met Jennifer, he knew she was the one. They fell in love and got married in New York’s Central Park, surrounded by family, friends, and loved ones. Five months later Jen was diagnosed with breast cancer…Throughout her battle, Angelo decided to photograph it. He wanted to humanize  the face of cancer on the face of his wife. The photos speak for themselves.

I’m In Love With A Church Girl: Jesus Loves Capitalism in Ja Rule’s New Joint [Vince Mancini on FilmDrunk]

It’d be easy (and fun) to dismiss entirely this new Affliction shirt Christianity (Afflictianity?) with all its faux-hawks and soul patches and hypocritical values, but even in spite of itself, it’s clearly offering something attractive (other than breasts): community. A set place to go every week to see family and friends and even meet love interests. Even the credits of Church Girl include pictures of the cast and crew screwing around on set, and sort of feel like a family photo album. It’s hard not to envy their bond. For educated secularists like me, as our social circles scatter about the country in search of start-up jobs and whatever else, we often end up losing that neighborhood bond we grew up with. As much as we try to recreate it through interest groups and online forums and adult kickball and whatever, it’s hard to compete with the old, diverse-by-comparison, suburban, church-on-Sunday model from the fifties, lame as it might be. As if naivete is the sacrifice for community. Maybe we can borrow something from the church model while ignoring the spirit of the thing, like Church Girl‘s protagonists do with their religion. I hope we figure something out soon, because there is nothing on Earth more nauseating than hipster Christians writing boast raps about their cars.

How Our Ancestors Used to Sleep Twice a Night and Highlighting the Problem of Present Shock [Slumberwise via Jeremy D Johnson on Disinfo]

The existence of our sleeping twice per night was first uncovered by Roger Ekirch, professor of History at Virginia Tech. His research found that we didn’t always sleep in one eight hour chunk. We used to sleep in two shorter periods, over a longer range of night. This range was about 12 hours long, and began with a sleep of three to four hours, wakefulness of two to three hours, then sleep again until morning. References are scattered throughout literature, court documents, personal papers, and the ephemera of the past. What is surprising is not that people slept in two sessions, but that the concept was so incredibly common. Two-piece sleeping was the standard, accepted way to sleep.

Professors Detail Brutal Tangle With Police [James C. McKinley Jr. on The New York Times]

Nineteen hours after her arrest, Ms. LaFont was brought before a judge in Manhattan Criminal Court to face charges of obstructing governmental administration and harassment. The prosecutor on duty offered her a common deal for people who have tussles with the police: plead guilty to disorderly conduct and be released with a penalty of “time served.” Ms. LaFont refused. “I didn’t believe I did anything wrong,” she said. Over the next months, she also turned down offers from prosecutors to drop the charges in return for meeting certain conditions. What she wanted, she said, was exoneration.

Toronto mayor, caught ranting on video, admits drinking a ‘little bit’ [Cameron French on Reuters]

In the video, shot from a low angle and posted on YouTube on Tuesday, Ford stands by the counter of a fast-food restaurant and rants about surveillance that police carried out last year during a drug investigation. “Chase me around five months, man,” he said, before using a Jamaican profanity. In much of the approximately 1 minute-long video, Ford speaks in a Jamaican accent. “He’s hiding here, I’m hiding here. You know how much money that costs?” Asked about the video, shot at the Steak Queen restaurant in the western suburb of Etobicoke, Ford admitted it was filmed after he was out socializing on Monday night. “I was with some friends. If I speak that way it’s how I speak with some of my friends. I don’t think it’s discriminative at all … It’s my own time,” he said.

Buffett Leans on 29-Year-Old Cool to Oversee Problems [Noah Buhayar and Laura Colby on Bloomberg]

When Warren Buffett bought half of a commercial mortgage finance company in 2009, he hired a 25-year-old fresh out of business school to keep tabs on the investment. Since then, Berkadia Commercial Mortgage LLC has earned back most of the $217 million that his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A) spent on the deal. The business also helped propel Tracy Britt Cool’s career. Now 29, Cool is one of Buffett’s most-trusted advisers, traveling the country to assist a constellation of companies too small to command her boss’s direct attention.

Is an atheist’s brain the same as a believer’s? New research says religious and non-religious minds work differently [Evan Belanger on Al.com]

They found that an individual’s religious belief depends on three cognitive dimensions: (1) God’s perceived level of involvement in the subject’s daily life, (2) God’s perceived emotion, and (3) the subject’s doctrinal or experiential knowledge of religion. They also found that those cognitive dimensions can be mapped to specific regions of the brain. While scans showed the amount of brain activity does not vary between religious and non-religions subjects, they detected notable differences in the way those brain regions communicate. In their findings, the researchers said subjects who perceive a supernatural agent at work in their daily lives tend to use brain pathways associated with the regulation of fear when asked to contemplate their religious beliefs. And subjects with religious beliefs based on doctrine, such as knowledge of religious scripture, tend to use pathways associated with language when they contemplate religion. However, non-religious subjects tend to use pathways associated with visual imagery when they contemplate religion, according to the study. Deshpande said those finding suggest subjects with a greater capacity to imagine visual images are less likely to be religious. He proposed that those subjects attempt to visually imagine a supernatural agent as a test of its existence and subsequently reject the idea as unlikely when that image does not fit with any known image in their memory. The researchers also found individuals with a stronger ability to attribute mental states — such as beliefs, desires and intents — to themselves and understand that others may have different mental states tend to be more religious. The ability to attribute mental states, known in scientific communities as the “theory of the mind” is thought to have evolved in humans over thousands of years, according to Deshpande. He said that finding supports the hypothesis that the evolutionary development of that ability in humans may have given rise to religion in human societies.

The Profits Bubble [Chris Brightman on Research Affiliates]

The macroeconomic cause of today’s profits bubble can be understood as a quarter century of politically facilitated globalization. During the 50 years following WWII, we lived in an open global developed economy containing less than one billion people in Europe, North America, Australia, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and a handful of others. Some countries were growing faster, some slower, but the technological level and population growth rates were not very different across the predominant countries within this relatively open global economy. The shares of income to labor and capital varied cyclically but tended to revert toward long-term averages. Beginning in the 1990s, we experienced a seismic shift in our global political economy. Approximately three billion people began to join this open global economy: about one billion each in China and India and another billion or so in Russia, Eastern Europe, South America, and Southeast Asia. Average wages, level of technology, and amount of accumulated capital in the countries of the aspiring three billion lagged far behind those enjoyed by the one billion in the developed world. Imitation and appropriation is far easier than innovation and invention, so catching up has been rapid for those nations willing to make even modest concessions to the aspirations of their citizenry. For the past quarter century, the capital and technology accumulated by the old equilibrium advanced global economy has been suddenly shared across a labor force and populace that quadrupled. This tectonic shift in our global political economy produced some winners and some losers. Incomes of many of the three billion newly joined rose quickly. Global poverty rates have plummeted. Meanwhile, wages in the old advanced economy countries stalled at least partly in response to competition from the lower wages welcomed by workers in developing countries. Profits grew to a much larger share of output and an unprecedented percentage of wages and salaries. To be sure, if we adjust wages to include the value of benefit programs and entitlements, we aren’t quite at all-time highs in profits-to-total compensation ratios. But, even here, we’re darned close to unprecedented records. In both cases, the five- and ten-year averages are at new highs. These longer-term trends are fueling popular unrest. This period of globalization and the inflation of our profits bubble has been facilitated in part by a corporate capture of government policy, inhibiting competition, depressing investment, and promoting rent seeking…Our policymakers have too often mistaken what is in the best interest of their elite peer group (and, surely by sheer coincidence, some of their largest campaign contributors) as in the best interest of the broader society. The result has been decades of stagnation in wages, high taxes on labor income, subsidies for debt and consumption, underinvestment, and soaring corporate profits.

WORLD DANGER SPOTS 2014 [Eric Margolis]

Where are the world’s most dangerous places in 2014? *Mostly forgotten, but the highly dangerous, Indian-controlled portion of disputed Kashmir. Rebellion against Indian rule by Kashmir’s majority Muslims is again boiling. Over 1.6 million Indian and Pakistani troops, backed by nuclear weapons, are in confrontation. Skirmishing along Kashmir’s Line of Control is frequent. The nuclear strike forces of both India and Pakistan are on a perilous hair-trigger alert, with about three minutes warning of an enemy attack. A false warning of incoming missiles or aircraft, a border clash, or a massive offensive by India exasperated by guerilla attacks from Pakistan could set off a war that could kill millions and pollute the entire planet with radioactive dust. India and Pakistan aside, hardly anyone even thinks about beautiful, remote, perilous Kashmir.

Stream At Your Own Risk: The 10 Most Terrible Gay & Lesbian Films On Netflix [Heather Dockray on FilmDrunk]

I’m also not about to get into a debate about what constitutes “good art” versus “bad art,” but I will say this: if the title of your movie is Guys and Balls, you’re probably on the losing side. Still, there were some important factors I examined: how nuanced was the storytelling? How imaginative were the representations? Was the movie more T or more A?

A Ghost Ship Full of Cannibal Rats Has Disappeared in the Atlantic [Jordan Kushins on Gizmodo]

A massive ghost ship has been missing in the Atlantic since last February, along with its potential cargo of “disease-ridden cannibal rats,” via BBC Future. Now, it looks like it’s headed for the UK. The Lyubov Orlova was first misplaced on its way from a harbor in Newfoundland, Canada, to the Dominican Republic, where it was to be sold as scrap. A storm sent it loose into the ocean, however, and the Canadian government decided to cut its losses and let it and its crew of hundreds of starving vermin drift. And that’s the last anyone saw of it.

The Ancient Ghost City of Ani [Alan Taylor on The Atlantic]

Situated on the eastern border of Turkey, across the Akhurian River from Armenia, lies the empty, crumbling site of the once-great metropolis of Ani, known as “the city of a thousand and one churches.” Founded more than 1,600 years ago, Ani was situated on several trade routes, and grew to become a walled city of more than 100,000 residents by the 11th century. In the centuries that followed, Ani and the surrounding region were conquered hundreds of times — Byzantine emperors, Ottoman Turks, Armenians, nomadic Kurds, Georgians, and Russians claimed and reclaimed the area, repeatedly attacking and chasing out residents. By the 1300s, Ani was in steep decline, and it was completely abandoned by the 1700s. Rediscovered and romanticized in the 19th century, the city had a brief moment of fame, only to be closed off by World War I and the later events of the Armenian Genocide that left the region an empty, militarized no-man’s land. The ruins crumbled at the hands of many: looters, vandals, Turks who tried to eliminate Armenian history from the area, clumsy archaeological digs, well-intentioned people who made poor attempts at restoration, and Mother Nature herself. Restrictions on travel to Ani have eased in the past decade, allowing the following photos to be taken.

Cop Comped [Matthew Feeney via Reason]

Earlier in 2013, after settling a federal lawsuit, the university paid a total of $1 million to the 36 people who were sprayed. Pike therefore received more compensation than each of the protesters he assaulted.

Quentin Tarantino Vs. Gawker, The Legal Breakdown (By An Actual Lawyer) [Buttockus Finch, Esq. on FilmDrunk]

Never, ever brag about not being a lawyer, junior. As if your parents are high fiving each other because their prolapsed rectum of a son runs Gawker.

Curiously Strong Remains:

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09
May
13

Roundup – Star Wars Filibuster

Line O’ the Day:

I try my best to be impartial. Many of you think I am not. I look at it this way: If my relationship with Kevin Demoff and Fisher helped me spend the first round inside the Rams’ draft room — and of course it didn’t hurt — then read the story and weigh whether it was worth it. I believe it was.

That’s awful big of you, Pete. Also specious reasoning to assume that simply disclosing conflict of interest eliminates it. C’MON GUYS, HE’S TRYING REAL HARD NOT TO BE SWAYED BY CATERED LUNCHES AND OPEN MOUTH JEFF FISHER KISSES! Also, I like how Peter’s argument is “I know many of you think I’m biased and have reasons to think so, but read my shit anyway. Sure, it’s still fucked, but you’re the one who read it, so who’s the real sap?”

– Christmas Ape, “Peter King Got Puked On By A Kid On A Plane. Lofty Puke.” [KSK]

Best of the Best:

There’s More Than One Way to Sleep [Robert T. Gonzalez on io9]

These disagreements give rise to a sort of chicken and egg scenario that pits definitions of sleep against why we sleep in the first place, and it’s a rather confounding scenario, at that. Sleep – after literally centuries of research – remains one of the most poorly understood areas of biology. In the words of William Dement, a pioneer in the field of sleep research and founder of Stanford University’s Sleep Research Center: “As far as I know, the only reason we need to sleep that is really, really solid is because we get sleepy.”

US torture ‘indisputable’, CNN’s humiliation, and Iran sanctions [Glenn Greenwald on The Guardian]

The disgrace of the American torture regime falls on Bush officials and secondarily the media and political institutions that acquiesced to it, but the full-scale protection of those war crimes (and the denial of justice to their victims) falls squarely on the Obama administration.

Happiness is…thinking you get laid more often than your friends [Robert T. Gonzalez on io9]

Does this mean you should try to increase your happiness by trying to have more sex than your friends? Hardly. In fact, a better tactic might be to ignore their sex lives altogether. The conflation of relative sexual activity with happiness (and the overarching social awareness that Wadsworth mentions), calls to mind a review co-authored in 2011 by Yale psychologist June Gruber, wherein she concludes that, when it comes to the pursuit of happiness, one of the best things you can do is stop trying to be happy.

Sometimes, We Want Prices to Fool Us [Stephanie Clifford and Catherine Rampell on The New York Times]

The problem, economists and marketing experts say, is that consumers are conditioned to wait for deals and sales, partly because they do not have a good sense of how much an item should be worth to them and need cues to figure that out. Just having a generically fair or low price, as Penney did, said Alexander Chernev, a marketing professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, assumes that consumers have some context for how much items should cost. But they don’t.

Tata’s Nano, the World’s Cheapest Car, Is Sputtering [Siddharth Philip on Bloomberg BusinessWeek]

Tata Managing Director Karl Slym insists the company won’t kill the tiny, egg-shaped car. It will soon add improvements to breathe new life into the model, a move that would ultimately bring its price closer to those of rivals. The Nano’s marketing “didn’t jell with anybody,” Slym says. Scooter drivers weren’t attracted because others “don’t think I’m buying a car, they think I’m buying something between a two-wheeler and a car. Anyone who had a car didn’t want to buy it, because it was supposed to be a two-wheeler replacement.”

Report: No Easy Options for Feds in Legal Marijuana States [Maggie Clark on Stateline]

The Justice Department could choose to challenge the marijuana laws in federal court, according to CRS. However, the researchers cast doubt on the argument that that the state laws preempt federal authority, or directly violate the intent of the federal Controlled Substances Act, which classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, just as dangerous as heroin and LSD. But if a legal victory is a long shot, so is trying to enforce federal law without one, according to CRS.  Without the cooperation of the states, CRS notes, federal agents simply do not have the resources or manpower to arrest and prosecute every person who violates the federal Controlled Substances Act by growing, selling or using marijuana. At the same time, according to the report, declining to enforce the federal law may ‘pose a threat to federal supremacy by acknowledging that states are free to make policy decisions in direct conflict with those made at the federal level.’ In November 2012, voters in Washington and Colorado agreed to directly challenge the federal marijuana prohibition and legalize the growing, selling and consuming of marijuana for all people age 21 and older. State officials have spent the last few months working on regulatory schemes that would not run afoul of federal authorities, who have so far taken a hands-off approach to marijuana enforcement in both states. Attorney General Eric Holder still has not given any indication of the administration’s response to the laws and has remained silent since testifying at a Senate hearing in March that ‘we’ve had good communication (with Colorado and Washington) … I expect that we will have an ability to announce what our policy is going to be relatively soon.’

Game Theory: Jane Austen Had It First [Jennifer Schuessler on The New York Times]

Most game theory, he noted, treats players as equally “rational” parties sitting across a chessboard. But many situations, Mr. Chwe points out, involve parties with unequal levels of strategic thinking. Sometimes a party may simply lack ability. But sometimes a powerful party faced with a weaker one may not realize it even needs to think strategically. Take the scene in “Pride and Prejudice” where Lady Catherine de Bourgh demands that Elizabeth Bennet promise not to marry Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth refuses to promise, and Lady Catherine repeats this to Mr. Darcy as an example of her insolence — not realizing that she is helping Elizabeth indirectly signal to Mr. Darcy that she is still interested. It’s a classic case of cluelessness, which is distinct from garden-variety stupidity, Mr. Chwe argues. “Lady Catherine doesn’t even think that Elizabeth” — her social inferior — “could be manipulating her,” he said. (Ditto for Mr. Darcy: gender differences can also “cause cluelessness,” he noted, though Austen was generally more tolerant of the male variety.) The phenomenon is hardly limited to Austen’s fictional rural society. In a chapter called “Real-World Cluelessness,” Mr. Chwe argues that the moralistic American reaction to the 2004 killing and mutilation of four private security guards working with the American military in Falluja — L. Paul Bremer III, leader of the American occupation of Iraq, later compared the killers to “human jackals”— obscured a strategic truth: that striking back at the city as a whole would only be counterproductive. “Calling your enemy an animal might improve your bargaining position or deaden your moral qualms, but at the expense of not being able to think about your enemy strategically,” Mr. Chwe writes.

Is This How You Really Talk? [Sue Shellenbarger on The Wall Street Journal]

People who hear recordings of rough, weak, strained or breathy voices tend to label the speakers as negative, weak, passive or tense. People with normal voices are seen as successful, sexy, sociable and smart, according to a study of 74 adults published recently in the Journal of Voice…Other common vocal irritants include “uptalk”—pronouncing statements as if they were questions—and “vocal fry”—ending words in a raspy growl. Such quirks “make the listener think the person who is speaking is either uncomfortable or in pain,” says Brian Petty, a speech pathologist at the Emory Voice Center in Atlanta.

San Francisco Probes Nevada for ‘Dumping’ Mental Cases [Bloomberg]

San Francisco will investigate allegations that Nevada has bused hundreds of indigent people with mental illnesses out of state, including to the Northern California city. San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said his office has opened a formal investigation and is requesting public records from the Nevada Health and Human Services Department, according to a letter today to Mike Willden, the agency’s director. The investigation follows reports in the Sacramento Bee newspaper that the Rawson Neal Psychiatric Hospital, a mental- health facility controlled by the state, put more than 1,500 mentally-ill patients on Greyhound Lines Inc. buses and sent them to cities throughout the U.S. over the past five years, with a third going to California, including at least 36 to San Francisco, Herrera said in a statement.

What rights should Dzhokhar Tsarnaev get and why does it matter? [Glenn Greenwald on The Guardian]

[C]onsider how radically Obama’s “war on terror” has altered political opinion. As noted, even the narrow “public safety” exception to Miranda was the work of mostly right-wing Supreme Court justices who long hated Miranda. For that reason, it was loathed by liberals, including Thurgood Marshall, who viewed it as a stealth attempt to destroy Miranda. Yet now, the Obama administration has radically expanded even that once-controversial exception by claiming the power to question suspects without Miranda warnings far beyond what even those conservative justices recognized (as the Obama DOJ put it: “There may be exceptional cases in which, although all relevant public safety questions have been asked, agents nonetheless conclude that continued unwarned interrogation is necessary”)

Bipartisan Report: US Practiced Widespread Torture, Has “No Justification” Doesn’t Yield Significant Information, Nation’s Highest Officials Bear Responsibility [Washington’s Blog via The Big Picture]

Indeed, top American military and intelligence interrogation experts from both sides of the aisle have conclusively proven the following 10 facts about torture: (1.) Torture is not a partisan issue (2.) Waterboarding is torture (3.) Torture decreases our national security (4.) Torture can not break hardened terrorists (5.) Torture is not necessary even in a “ticking time bomb” situation (6.) The specific type of torture used by the U.S. was never aimed at producing actionable intelligence … but was instead aimed at producing false confessions (7.) Torture did not help to get Bin Laden (8.) Torture did not provide valuable details regarding 9/11 (9.) Many innocent people were tortured (10.) America still allows torture

NFL Plays Offense to Get Public Money for Stadiums [Daniel C. Vock on Stateline]

In fact, the vast majority of major professional sports teams in baseball, basketball, soccer and hockey have also received new homes. But the NFL, followed closely by Major League Baseball, depends most heavily on public subsidies, Matheson and Baade found…“The NFL is somewhat different than the other leagues, because it doesn’t really matter where the teams play; it only matters that they are playing in a new, heavily subsidized luxury suite venue,” said sports economist John Vrooman of Vanderbilt University… NFL franchises threaten to move, usually to Los Angeles, if they do not get stadium improvements. “The thing is, that is an extremely credible threat,” said Matheson of Holy Cross. Los Angeles has not had an NFL team since 1994, even though it is the second-largest media market in the country. Two potential ownership groups have put together credible plans to build stadiums for teams willing to move to southern California. Right now, the San Diego Chargers and the St. Louis Rams (which left Los Angeles in 1994) are threatening to leave for Los Angeles. At least seven other teams have made the same threat in recent years, according to Vanderbilt’s Vrooman. “In the NFL’s extortion game, the L.A. market may be more valuable to the NFL empty than occupied,” he said.

The Lease They Can Do: What the Fight Over ‘Used’ Music Reveals About Online Media [Paul Ford on Bloomberg Businessweek]

“The clear” in this case is the “first sale doctrine,” which holds that when you buy a copy of a copyrighted work, you have the right to “sell, display or otherwise dispose of that particular copy, notwithstanding the interests of the copyright owner.” Capitol Records didn’t think this applied in a world of perfect duplication. Neither did a U.S. District Court judge in Manhattan. There are many ways to look at this decision. One in particular stands out: ReDigi is capitalizing on the arbitrary rules put in place by music sellers regarding the use and re-use of digital files. Often, you’re not buying the song so much as the license that lets you hear the song. (A few months ago there was a good bit of speculation as to who owns your music after you die, and the answer was: “no one you know.”)

You didn’t make the Harlem Shake go viral—corporations did [Kevin Ashton on Quartz]

“Harlem Shake” originated with a drunken man named Albert Boyce dancing at Harlem’s Rucker Park basketball court in 1981. It was sobered up by children in the bleachers and became a popular dance in the hip-hop community. When Boyce died in 2006, the dance had found its way into some rap songs and videos. In 2012, Harry “Baauer” Rodrigues sampled one of these songs, Plastic Little’s “Miller Time,” and dropped it onto a piece of electronic dance music made in a style called “trap” that is only somewhat related to hip hop. The song was a commercial failure until student George Miller included it in his YouTube video.

A Point of View: Chess and 18th Century artificial intelligence [Adam Gopnik on BBC News]

And there lies what I think of now as the asymmetry of mastery – the mystery of mastery, a truth that is for some reason extremely hard for us to grasp. We over-rate masters and under-rate mastery. That simplest solution was the hardest, partly because they underestimated the space inside the cabinet, but also because they overestimated just how good the chess player had to be. We always over-estimate the space between the uniquely good and the very good. That inept footballer we whistle at in despair is a better football player than we have ever seen or ever will meet. The few people who do grasp that though there are only a few absolute masters, there are many, many masters right below them looking for work tend, like Maelzel, to profit greatly from it. The greatest managers in any sport are those who know you can stand down the talent, and find more to fill the bench. It is the manager who is willing to bench Beckham, rather than he who worships his bend, who tends to have the most sporting success.

I’m For Sale: Creative ambition is lovely, but what happens when you need real money? [Genevieve Smith on Elle]

Now in retirement, my dad paints almost every day, and I think often of that dream deferred, or at least set aside, for the practicality of making a living. Looking at his decision, I realize that the trade-off that women now face isn’t all that new. It’s one men have always shouldered, and so in some ways, our own struggle to redefine fulfillment is just another sign that we’re inching further toward equality, just not quite in the way we expected.

Bradley Manning is off limits at SF Gay Pride parade, but corporate sleaze is embraced [Glenn Greenwald on The Guardian]

News reports yesterday indicated that Bradley Manning, widely known to be gay, had been selected to be one of the Grand Marshals of the annual San Francisco gay pride parade, named by the LGBT Pride Celebration Committee. When the predictable backlash instantly ensued, the president of the Board of SF Pride, Lisa L Williams, quickly capitulated, issuing a cowardly, imperious statement that has to be read to be believed

Calm Down: You Are More Likely to Be Killed By Mundane Things than Terrorism [Washington’s Blog via The Big Picture]

You are 8 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist

Syria: Al-Qaeda’s battle for control of Assad’s chemical weapons plant [Colin Freeman on The Telegraph]

Outside of Syria, it also has another desired effect – underlining the differences between Mr Assad’s opponents in the West. Last week, the hawkish US Republican senator, John McCain, who lost to Mr Obama in the 2008 presidential race, called on America to send in troops to secure factories such as al Safira. But Mr Obama shows no enthusiasm for doing so, and this weekend he even appeared to adjust his language slightly, saying that America would not permit the “systematic” use of chemical weapons. Critics pointed out that proscribing the use of chemical weapons on a “systematic” basis is not the same as proscribing their use altogether.

Doctors back denial of treatment for smokers and the obese [Denis Campbell on The Guardian]

A majority of doctors support measures to deny treatment to smokers and the obese, according to a survey that has sparked a row over the NHS‘s growing use of “lifestyle rationing”. Some 54% of doctors who took part said the NHS should have the right to withhold non-emergency treatment from patients who do not lose weight or stop smoking. Some medics believe unhealthy behaviour can make procedures less likely to work, and that the service is not obliged to devote scarce resources to them.

My Week at Private Equity Boot Camp [Brendan Greely on Bloomberg Businessweek]

Before I leave Scottsboro, John Stewart walks me around the main plant, as before stopping to chat with line workers. Some have his personal cell number, and use it. When he gets to a new plant, he looks at hands; if they are not moving, something is being wasted. He looks at forklift loads; if they are not full, something is being wasted. Stewart believes that if you can get costs down, there’s no reason not to make things in the U.S. Offshoring carries political risks and incurs supply-chain costs, he says. It can prove difficult to teach culture to a foreign workforce. “You make investments in people,” he says. “We believe that North American manufacturing deserves to exist.” This is the language of a union leader, not a private equity executive. Later that day, I talk to HTPG’s union steward and try without success to get her to say something bad about Monomoy. After several tornadoes touched down in Scottsboro last year, Monomoy’s partners sent everyone at the plant whose houses were hit a Home Depot gift card for $500. Yet Monomoy is not a charity. It sells its acquisitions when it is done with them.

Canadians Make a Racket Over Mysterious ‘Windsor Hum’: Unexplained Noise Spurs Diplomatic Fracas At Detroit Border; Americans Can’t Hear It [Alistair MacDonald and Paul Vieira on The Wall Street Journal]

Studying the hum, much less its origin, is challenging. It is difficult to capture the mainly nocturnal sound on tape, since it doesn’t hum all the time. During a recent visit to Windsor by a Wall Street Journal reporter, Windsor resident Gary Grosse played several recordings he said came from the noise, which modulated from metallic grating to a pulsing beat. On a visit to the area around Zug Island, a fainter version of similar sounds was audible. But Americans nearby said they still can’t hear it. Fishing under the shadow of some of the large mounds of coal that fringe Zug Island, Samson Jenkins says that in 20 trips here he has never heard a noise like that described in Windsor.

Beastie Boys: New Slang [Eric Ducker on Fader]

But on this go around Paul’s Boutique hit me at the right time. It was fun, strange, clever, complicated, braggadocious, kind of retarded, smoked-out, funky and everything else I imagined myself to be. It also sounded like nothing else my classmates—wrapped up in the misogynistic thrill of Dr Dre or the three-decade-long allure of the Grateful Dead—listened to. Even the kids who were just playing “Sabotage” in the school van before basketball games or still worshipping the hydraulic phallus of License To Ill wouldn’t—couldn’t—appreciate it. Paul’s Boutique was a secret handshake, and the music was a key to a combination of juvenile energy and hip knowledge that sounded right as I spent my weekends making mixtapes, hotboxing in Oakland Hills cul-de-sacs, generally dorking out and imagining the person that I might become but usually drawing a blank.

Life after Seinfeld [Ryan Gilbey on The Guardian]

In a medium that prided itself on comforting audiences, Seinfeld’s “no hugging, no learning” rule was positively hostile. Each of the regulars exhibited selfish traits, particularly George, based on David himself. He could be deceitful and evasive (“I don’t think there’s ever been an appointment in my life where I wanted the other guy to show up”), or downright toxic. Praying that his fiancee Susan will perish in a plane crash, he is reminded by Jerry that such accidents are rare. “It’s something,” George snaps back. “It’s hope.”

When the Troops Were Very Young [Michael M. Phillips on The Wall Street Journal]

On Sept. 11, 2001, Corey Shaffer was in fourth grade at Cutler Ridge Christian Academy in Miami. Because his mother was cafeteria manager, he was at school early and was enjoying a bowl of Lucky Charms when news of the terrorist hijackings flashed on the television screen. He remembers being confused. “I wasn’t sure what it meant,” he said. It wasn’t until he was in middle school that the significance became clear, when he read about the attacks in his history book. Now he’s 19 years old and a Marine infantryman, fighting in the longest war in his nation’s history.

In Canada, Alternate Currency Keeps Traction With Fans [David George-Cosh on The Wall Street Journal]

For more than half a century, thrifty Canadians have had an alternative to their legal tender. Canadian Tire Corp., an iconic retailer here that sells everything from car batteries to hockey sticks, hands out Canadian Tire money to loyal shoppers. Customers receive the brightly colored coupons, equivalent to a fraction of their shopping bill, at the checkout. They can redeem them next time through the door. Each bill features the face of fictional character Sandy McTire. Over the years, the coupons—printed on counterfeit-resistant paper in denominations ranging from five Canadian cents (about five U.S. cents) to two dollars—have gained currency outside the store’s doors. Collectors covet older bills and anticipate print runs of newer ones. One group auctions off rare Canadian Tire bills and publishes a newsletter devoted to the coupons.

Checkbox Syndrome: Why We Spend Money on Things We Don’t Need (and How to Avoid It) [Alan Henry on Lifehacker]

When I worked with the folks at PC Mag, we saw hundreds of gadgets, all of which sold themselves based on some specific way it would transform your life. PC Mag’s Lead Analyst for Mobile, Sascha Segan, took specific issue with some of this—especially when it came to phones. He explained that smartphone makers had succumbed to “checkbox syndrome,” or the habit of putting a feature in a product because everyone else had it and it was easy to market, not because it was actually useful to anyone.  The worst part of checkbox syndrome is that it extends to us, the buyers. We make buying decisions based on these fantasy uses. We buy Android phones with powerful front-side cameras even though we never use them for video chat, or we buy a new Macbook Pro with Thunderbolt even though we don’t have—and have no plans to buy—Thunderbolt peripherals. We buy new cameras because they’re marginal upgrades over the previous model, but hey—it’s new, so it must be better, right? Here’s how to think twice about that marketing hype, push through the fog of checkbox syndrome, and save some money when you consider your next upgrade.

Louisiana is the world’s prison capital [Cindy Chang on The Times-Picayune]

Several homegrown private prison companies command a slice of the market. But in a uniquely Louisiana twist, most prison entrepreneurs are rural sheriffs, who hold tremendous sway in remote parishes like Madison, Avoyelles, East Carroll and Concordia. A good portion of Louisiana law enforcement is financed with dollars legally skimmed off the top of prison operations. If the inmate count dips, sheriffs bleed money. Their constituents lose jobs. The prison lobby ensures this does not happen by thwarting nearly every reform that could result in fewer people behind bars…In Louisiana, a two-time car burglar can get 24 years without parole. A trio of drug convictions can be enough to land you at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola for the rest of your life. Almost every state lets judges decide when to mete out the severest punishment and when a sympathetic defendant should have a chance at freedom down the road. In Louisiana, murderers automatically receive life without parole on the guilty votes of as few as 10 of 12 jurors. The lobbying muscle of the sheriffs, buttressed by a tough-on-crime electorate, keeps these harsh sentencing schemes firmly in place.

Most data isn’t “big,” and businesses are wasting money pretending it is [Christopher Mims on Quartz]

The “bigger” your data, the more false positives will turn up in it, when you’re looking for correlations. As data scientist Vincent Granville wrote in “The curse of big data,” it’s not hard, even with a data set that includes just 1,000 items, to get into a situation in which “we are dealing with many, many millions of correlations.” And that means, “out of all these correlations, a few will be extremely high just by chance: if you use such a correlation for predictive modeling, you will lose.” This problem crops up all the time in one of the original applications of big data—genetics. The endless “fishing expeditions” conducted by scientists who are content to sequence whole genomes and go diving into them looking for correlations can turn up all sorts of unhelpful results…The important thing is gathering the right data, not gathering some arbitrary quantity of it.

Military Sex Assaults Rising 35% Bring Calls for Change [David Lerman on Bloomberg]

The Pentagon’s anonymous survey of active-duty troops found that 26,000 reported experiencing unwanted sexual conduct last year, amounting to an average of 71 incidents per day. A survey two years earlier estimated 19,300 such incidents. In 2006, the only other time the survey was conducted, there were an estimated 34,200 incidents. About 6.1% of active-duty women and 1.2% of active-duty men surveyed said they had experienced unwanted sexual contact within the previous 12 months. Those estimates dwarf the number of cases reported each year. Victims have said they’re afraid of coming forward, partly because they feared a risk their career. There were 3,374 reported cases of assault in 2012, a 5.7% increase from the previous year, the Defense Department said yesterday.

Breaking news: Traffic from Syria Disappears from Internet [Dan Hubbard on Umbrella Security Labs]

Effectively, the shutdown disconnects Syria from Internet communication with the rest of the world. It’s unclear whether Internet communication within Syria is still available. Although we can’t yet comment on what caused this outage, past incidents were linked to both government-ordered shutdowns and damage to the infrastructure, which included fiber cuts and power outages.

Egypt Investment Collapsing as Citizens Turn Into Vigilantes [Tarek El-Tablawy, Mariam Fam & Salma El Wardany on Bloomberg]

More than two years after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, the proliferation of weapons and a spate of vigilante killings, violence and sexual attacks are eclipsing the hope born from the revolt. Fueled by political deadlock and economic stagnation, the security breakdown threatens to put solutions beyond the reach of President Mohamed Mursi. A growing number of Egyptians think that “you can actually achieve your goals using violence,” said Ezzedine Choukri Fishere, a political scientist at the American University in Cairo. Beneath that lies the “dashed expectation and hope of the youth,” he said.

Generation jobless [The Economist]

Official figures assembled by the International Labour Organisation say that 75m young people are unemployed, or 6% of all 15- to 24-year-olds. But going by youth inactivity, which includes all those who are neither in work nor education, things look even worse. The OECD, an intergovernmental think-tank, counts 26m young people in the rich world as “NEETS”: not in employment, education or training. A World Bank database compiled from households shows more than 260m young people in developing economies are similarly “inactive”. The Economist calculates that, all told, almost 290m are neither working nor studying: almost a quarter of the planet’s youth.

Gun crime plunges, though most Americans think it has risen [Ian Simpson on Reuters]

Some 11,101 gun-related homicides were reported in the United States in 2011, a figure that is down 39 percent from the 1993 peak, the Justice Department reported. Nonfatal firearm crimes declined by 69 percent to 467,300 in the same period…some 56 percent of Americans believe that gun crime is higher now than it was 20 years ago, the Pew Research Center said its poll showed. Only 12 percent of Americans realize that gun crimes have fallen, the center said in a statement. The Pew survey was based on a March 14-17 survey of 924 adults and had a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points…In 2011, about 70 percent of homicides and 8 percent of nonfatal violent crimes, such as rape, sexual assault, robbery and aggravated assault, were committed with a firearm, mainly a handgun. From 2007 to 2011, about 1 percent of victims in nonfatal violent crimes reported using a firearm to defend themselves. The Justice Department findings were based on data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics National Crime Victimization Survey, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, and the Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System.

Curiously Strong Remains:

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21
Feb
11

Roundup – Full Metal Disney

Line O’ the Day:

I asked [Charles Woodson] what he thought Al Davis might be saying tonight.

“VOODSON! VOODSON, YOU HAVE BETRAYED ME! BLAH! BLAH!”

– Big Daddy Drew, Peter King Suffers Yet Another Wonderful Free Super Bowl Trip [KSK]

Best of the Best:

How Much Does NFL Seeding Really Matter? [David Roher on HSAC via Deadspin]

Trying to make a hierarchy out of the NFL’s regular season is kind of like putting a broken glass sculpture back together. The “top” teams might get an advantage, but the randomness of the regular season often means that those squads aren’t actually the best. So why have the structure at all? There isn’t much of an alternative; random seeding isn’t exactly fair either. One nice option might involve increasing the playoff teams to eight per conference, eliminating the bye. More below-average teams would get in, but the resulting system, one without byes, might actually be fairer. It might even be a compromise in the current 18-game-season debate. And who wouldn’t want four more games of playoff football?

Our standard of living: Is it better than ever? [USA Today]

A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll found only 31% of Americans thought they could live comfortably for less than $50,000 a year. One-fourth thought it would take $100,000 or more to make them comfortable.  That’s roughly the same result as when Americans were asked the same question in 1987, after adjusting for inflation.  What’s different today — what stretches the ordinary imagination — is how much richer we’ve become than at any time in the past.

The Youth Unemployment Bomb [Peter Coy on Bloomberg BusinessWeek]

The highest rates of youth unemployment are found in the Middle East and North Africa, at roughly 24 percent each, according to the International Labor Organization. Most of the rest of the world is in the high teens—except for South and East Asia, the only regions with single-­digit youth unemployment. Young people are nearly three times as likely as adults to be unemployed.

Historical Public Debt Database [IMF]

US envoy’s business link to Egypt [The Independent]

Mr Wisner is a retired State Department 36-year career diplomat – he served as US ambassador to Egypt, Zambia, the Philippines and India under eight American presidents. In other words, he was not a political appointee. But it is inconceivable Hillary Clinton did not know of his employment by a company that works for the very dictator which Mr Wisner now defends in the face of a massive democratic opposition in Egypt.

Eruption on the Nile/Confusion on the Potomac [Eric Margolis via LRC]

While unsure which way to move for the time being, Washington is hoping that General and now Vice President Suleiman will assume full leadership of Egypt with the backing of yes-man defense minister Mohammed Tantawi, chief of staff Sami Enan, and prime minister Ahmed Shafik, a general. While the US and Israel clearly want this outcome, most Egyptians just as clearly do not.  Gen. Suleiman ran Egypt’s notoriously brutal secret police for a decade. He organized the torture of alleged terrorism suspects sent by the US to Egypt and suspected opponents of Mubarak’s dictatorship. How ironic it is to see Sudan’s leader, Gen. Omar Bashir, charged with crimes against humanity while Egypt’s chief torturer is lauded in North America.

The Apostate [Lawrence Wright on The New Yorker]

On August 19, 2009, Tommy Davis, the chief spokesperson for the Church of Scientology International, received a letter from the film director and screenwriter Paul Haggis.

Guns N’ Peas Is Where The Trajectory Of Man Began Its Steady Decline [Big Daddy Drew via Deadspin]

So the Black Eyed Peas covered “Sweet Child O Mine” at the Super Bowl last night, with Slash helping out on guitar. First of all, FUCK YOU SLASH. You just spent the last bit of goodwill you earned from NOT being Axl. Secondly, the journey to our eventual self-extinction has begun.

Soldier Finds Minefield on Road to Citizenship [Wall Street Journal]

During 10 years in the U.S. Army, Luis Lopez served in Iraq and Afghanistan, won medals and had a commander laud his service as a “critical part of the success of his unit fighting the global war on terrorism.”  Mr. Lopez is also an illegal immigrant.

Emerging And Submerging Markets In The Third World [Jerry Bowyer via Forbes]

Economists call the presence of a monopoly of resources, or of choke points in the shipping of resources, the “commodity curse.” Oil, gold, diamonds, uranium and so forth in large quantities correlate with poverty, not wealth; with stagnation, not growth.

Without language, numbers make no sense [New Scientist via io9]

People need language to fully understand numbers. This discovery – long suspected, and now backed by strong evidence – may shed light on the way children acquire their number sense.

400 hungry wolves overrun Siberian town of 1,300 [Daily Mail via io9]

Frigid temperatures in the small town of Verkhoyansk in Russia’s Sakha Republic have led to the formation of an unnaturally large pack of livestock-hungry wolves. In the past four days, 30 horses have been devoured by this massive pack.

Kayabuki in Utsunomiya – Where Waiters Are Monkeys [Budget Trouble]

Kayabuki is a restaurant (actually, an izakaya, to be precise) in the Miyukihoncho part of Utsunomiya (address: 4688-13 Miyukihoncho, parking available) where two monkeys work as waiters (or waitresses – sorry I didn’t feel like pulling down underpants). Their names are Yacchan (presumably a boy) and Fukuchan (presumably a girl, though I’m not sure).

Tiny water flea has the biggest genome ever sequenced [Science via io9]

A lot of Daphnia’s genes appear to have clear environmental functions, as certain genes are expressed in response to changing environmental factors. For instance, if one of these water fleas finds itself in polluted waters, a whole suite of genes will be expressed slightly differently than in its counterparts that are still in clean water. These shifting ecological reactions seem to be tied to Daphnia’s frequent cell duplication, although the researchers say we still don’t entirely understand this relationship.

Neutron star observed creating otherwise impossible form of matter [io9]

And now we have the first direct evidence that neutron stars are forming superfluids of neutrons – a totally bizarre state of matter that can’t even be created in Earth laboratories. A superfluid is sort of like a liquid, except its behavior can be very strange. Basically, a superfluid is where viscosity drops to zero and thermal conductivity becomes infinite, the upshot of which is the superfluid flows uncontrollably in all directions while maintaining the same temperature throughout. Even gravity is no longer a barrier for superfluids – it can flow right up the side of a beaker and escape. Superfluids essentially live in a world without friction.

Was George Washington the victim of 18th century airbrushing? [AAS and MIT via io9]

It’s not just modern magazines that tweak people’s faces to fit the standard of beauty. For hundreds of years, portraits have been altered to reflect whatever ideas of beauty that people had at the time. Every woman in the 18th century appears to have the same nose. No one in the 17th century had any eyebrows to speak of. And everyone at every time had flawless skin despite limited access to soap. It’s not certain that if a historical figure appeared today beside their portrait, anyone would recognize them.

Ray Allen Humbly Breaks The NBA’s 3-Point Record [Boston Globe via Deadspin]

Last night, Ray Allen made the 2,561st three-pointer of his professional career in a 92-86 loss to the Lakers and gave Reggie Miller a hug. He did this, as he reportedly does everything else in his life, quite humbly. Even if it is true that all 2,562 of those three-pointers (he knocked down another later in the game) were each worth $65,613.

New discovery explains why a mundane book of poetry stayed in print for a century [University of Oxford via io9]

It appears that readers in the 1700s were not as obsessive about the delicately-turned phrase as we imagine them to be. The pornographic poems were not listed at the front of the book. Hidden as they were, behind all the other poems, it’s unlikely that the casual page-turner would have found them while browsing the shelves of a store or a private library. Instead, the volumes would have gained readers as people whispered to each other about what kind of poetry they would actually be buying.

Are we witnessing the death spiral of the Hollywood blockbuster? [Charlie Jane Anders on io9]

The idea of spending $300 million to make a two-hour fantasy is kind of weird if you think about it. That kind of spending only makes sense if you can convince millions of people to spend between $10 and $20 each to see the result. This is one case where the format is the content — there’s no other format in which you could spend such an obscene amount of money on just two hours’ entertainment. It’s not going to happen on television, it’s not going to happen with direct-to-DVD movies. There’s really no other format I can think of that would justify that kind of opulence.

Things you can do better asleep than you can awake [Annalee Newitz on io9]

As you sink into sleep, you enter a state called hypnagogia, similar to hypnosis. You may hear strange noises or snatches of imaginary conversations, experience odd physical sensations, and see vivid hallucinations of geometric shapes. Your muscles may twitch involuntarily. Nobody is sure why. Nor does anyone know why, as we enter deeper sleep, our white blood cell count rises and eventually we begin to dream. But after decades of careful observation, scientists have figured out that there are a few things we do better when we’re sleeping than when we’re awake.

Would putting a spike in the middle of your steering wheel make you safer? [Esther Inglis-Arkell on io9]

Gordon Tullock, an economist, once joked that if the government wanted people to drive safely, they’d mandate a spike in the middle of each steering wheel. Of course such a thing would never happen — nor should it, morally — but ensuring the person most in control of a situation will be damaged by their mistakes can lead to much safer behavior than ensuring that they’ll be protected, even if others won’t be. Everyone’s careful not to incite a revolution if they know they’ll be the first up against the wall.

When Irish Eyes are Crying [Michael Lewis via Vanity Fair]

There’s no such thing as a non-recourse home mortgage in Ireland. The guy who pays too much for his house is not allowed to simply hand the keys to the bank and walk away. He’s on the hook, personally, for whatever he borrowed. Across Ireland, people are unable to extract themselves from their houses or their bank loans. Irish people will tell you that, because of their sad history of dispossession, owning a home is not just a way to avoid paying rent but a mark of freedom. In their rush to freedom, the Irish built their own prisons. And their leaders helped them to do it.

The False Promise of Green Jobs [Bjørn Lomborg via Project Syndicate]

The companies calling for political intervention to create green jobs tend to be those that stand to gain from subsidies and tariffs. But, because these policies increase the cost of fuel and electricity, they imply layoffs elsewhere, across many different economic sectors.

“I came out and a bear was crapping in my car and drinking my beer…” [Jalopnik]

I live on a ranch where there are lots of bears…there was one that learned how to open open door handles. It got in and the wind must have shut the door, it got into 3 other peoples cars before getting shut in mine. it drank 4 beers, ate a bottle of mallox, and crapped all over the place.

Here’s Video Of Wayne Rooney’s Brilliant Goal For Manchester United Today [Deadspin]

His upper-corner, overhead-kick game-winner was the stuff of highlight legend. It was nothing short of jaw-droppingly good.

An Inside Look At The White House Pooper! [Big Daddy Drew on Deadspin]

Hummus is also extremely underrated as a condiment. Ever put it on rice? UNGODLY. It’s like I’m riding a magic carpet to Ali Baba’s flavor palace.

NBA’s Greatest Shots – Court Location & Video [Hoopism]

Our Valentines day gift for hoops fans, the visualization below is an Interactive video collection of the most important and amazing shots in NBA history, mapped by location and year. We asked the authors of some of our favorite basketball blogs to submit their favorites and then rounded out the list to get to 65 total shots.

Lessons in Manliness from the Egyptian Revolution [Yasser El Hadari via The Art of Manliness]

While Muslim protesters were attending Friday Prayers, Christians formed a human wall to protect them. On Sunday when Christian protesters performed Mass, Muslims stood watch to protect them. There was no slurring in the protests. People who attended were of different races, religions, and social backgrounds; black and white, Muslim and Christian,  rich and poor, we stood together. If people deep down inside had a certain hatred for others due to these differences, the protests helped them replace this hatred with understanding. In the end we were all the same. We were all Egyptian, and we all wanted freedom.

Iran Bans Valentine’s Day [Melik Kaylan via The Wall Street Journal]

In another sign of its ever more improvisational approach to governance, the Iranian regime has outlawed Valentine’s Day. “Symbols of hearts, half-hearts, red roses, and any activities promoting this day are banned,” announced state media last month. “Authorities will take legal action against those who ignore the ban.”

Conan 2.0 [Douglas Alden Warshaw via Forbes]

Mitchell posted his “I’m with Coco” image on his own site, then created a new “I’m with Coco” Facebook page and Twitter account, and then at 4 a.m. he went to bed. When he woke up at noon, he was shocked to discover that more than 30,000 people were following his new Twitter feed, close to 10,000 had clicked LIKE on his new Facebook page, and an untold number were making his “I’m with Coco” graphic their own profile picture on Facebook. Two days later, “I’m with Coco” had 185,000 Twitter followers, and just a week after Mitchell’s all-nighter the number was 700,000.  That was barely a year ago, but it was before most television executives understood what Twitter was. In fact, it was before Conan O’Brien, age 47, understood what Twitter was. “I’m a Luddite when it comes to computers,” says the man who keeps a bust of Teddy Roosevelt prominently in his office. “I didn’t do Twitter. Didn’t understand why anyone would do Twitter. I’m not on Facebook.” But now, suddenly, NBC executives were telling O’Brien to “stop it,” and O’Brien was saying, “Stop what? It’s not me.” And it wasn’t. It was Gen X and Gen Y.

Baby gymnastics: Russia’s ‘potentially dangerous’ therapy [BBC News]

Mr Tyutin holds Victoria’s baby by the legs, so that little Pavel is dangling upside down – and swings him gently from side to side like a pendulum.  Then, like the game of cup and ball, he swings the baby up towards him and catches him in his chest. Pavel is just 17 days old. The Russians call this dynamic baby gymnastics. The practice is legal in Russia and widespread. There are believed to be hundreds of practitioners across the country. Oleg maintains it gives babies a head start in life.

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue: Score One For the Bears [Bespoke Investment Group]

Since 1978, an American has appeared on the cover of the annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in 17 different years.  The average performance of the S&P 500 during those years is a gain of 10.7% with positive returns 82.4% of the time.  Of the 16 years where no American appeared on the cover, the S&P 500 has averaged a gain of 8.2% with positive returns 75% of the time.  To be sure, we would note that the S&P 500’s 38.5% decline in 2008 when an American appeared on the cover caused the spread between the two performance numbers to narrow considerably.  So what does a Russian model on the cover mean for Russia’s equity market?  Interestingly, going back to 1978, this is the first year that we have seen a Russian model on the cover of the issue, so there is no precedent.  However, just two weeks ago we noted that while all the other BRICs were crumbling, Russia had been doing exceptionally well.  Coincidence?

The Loneliness Of The American College Transfer Student [Big Daddy Drew on Deadspin]

I remember being on the floor of my room in South Quad, bawling my eyes out on the phone. I couldn’t stop crying. Real, hard crying. The kind where your jaw unhinges and long, cathartic wails just come pouring right out of you. My mom was on the other end of the line, and for a very long time, she didn’t say anything.

The sabotaging of Iran [Financial Times]

The new type of covert war that has ensnared scientists, unleashed dangerous viruses and sought novel ways of exporting faulty equipment takes the nuclear stand-off into uncharted territory. If effective, it buys the US and its partners time, postponing the day when they might have to decide between a conventional strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, with all the risks that it engenders for the Middle East, or acceptance of Iran becoming a nuclear-capable state. But every war has a cost, and in this mysterious world of intrigue and sabotage, no one knows yet what the real price will be.

What Health Reform Missed: The Doctor Shortage [Fox Business]

ACP says when it comes to doctor shortages, Massachusetts’ attempt at a universal care model provides a case study of what can happen. There, “shortages of primary care physicians have led to long waits for appointments,” ACP says.

Whimsical Remains:

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As you sink into sleep, you enter a state called hypnagogia, similar to hypnosis. You may hear strange noises or snatches of imaginary conversations, experience odd physical sensations, and see vivid hallucinations of geometric shapes. Your muscles may twitch involuntarily. Nobody is sure why. Nor does anyone know why, as we enter deeper sleep, our white blood cell count rises and eventually we begin to dream. But after decades of careful observation, scientists have figured out that there are a few things we do better when we’re sleeping than when we’re awake.



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