Of interest (Sep 17-18)

  • A historian of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School has identified a scrap of papyrus that she says was written in Coptic in the fourth century and contains a phrase never seen in any piece of Scripture: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife …’ ”

    The faded papyrus fragment is smaller than a business card, with eight lines on one side, in black ink legible under a magnifying glass. Just below the line about Jesus having a wife, the papyrus includes a second provocative clause that purportedly says, “she will be able to be my disciple.”

    The finding was made public in Rome on Tuesday at an international meeting of Coptic scholars by Karen L. King, a historian who has published several books about new Gospel discoveries and is the first woman to hold the nation’s oldest endowed chair, the Hollis professor of divinity.

    The provenance of the papyrus fragment is a mystery, and its owner has asked to remain anonymous. Until Tuesday, Dr. King had shown the fragment to only a small circle of experts in papyrology and Coptic linguistics, who concluded that it is most likely not a forgery. …

    She repeatedly cautioned that this fragment should not be taken as proof that Jesus, the historical person, was actually married. The text was probably written centuries after Jesus lived, and all other early, historically reliable Christian literature is silent on the question, she said.

  • Two mass graves have been discovered in Kenya’s coastal Tana Delta region, the number and identities of the bodies in the graves are unknown, police say.

    The discovery of the graves comes a week after at least 38 people were shot, hacked and burnt to death after two tribes fought over land and water in the same area.

    The graves were located in Kilelengwani village, the epicentre of fighting that has left 100 people dead in the last three weeks, including nine police officers.

  • After braving 103-degree heat as they marched over the past six days, warehouse workers who deliver goods for Walmart concluded their 50-mile pilgrimage protesting working conditions with a rally in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday. Met by hundreds of supporters on the steps of LA City Hall, the weary workers told the crowd that conditions in the Inland Empire warehouses where they work are even worse than the heat and exhaustion they experienced over the past six days.

    “The march, walking in the heat, was very easy compared to working in the warehouse,” Raymond Castillo, a 23-year-old warehouse worker who marched with the group, told The Huffington Post.

  • All through the three days of celebration of the first anniversary of OWS, police made targeted and random arrests, snatching both protesters and journalists alike off sidewalks and out of other public spaces. Occupiers were dragged, kicked, and beaten. They lost their shoes, so that jail support put out a desperate call for donations of flip flops. Though there were many arrested in deliberate acts of civil disobedience, others were grabbed purely for intimidation.

    During September 17, a member of the mainstream media saw my press badge and stopped to chat with me at a gathering outside the American Indian Museum. The gist of our conversation was that he felt NYPD had become gentler in their treatment of protesters. This was an attitude I’ve seen almost anywhere that the threat of police repression looms large. …

    Is this the kinder face of the NYPD? No.

    If a woman said her partner was better now because he only scared her instead of hurting her this time, no sane person would agree. If a man beats his spouse, at some point he learns that he only needs to threaten violence to get his way. The same has become true of the police. After a year of beatings and pepper spray, of batons and political prisoners, the state knows how easily it can intimidate.

    The mainstream media has convinced the public to buy into this attitude. If I film an officer shoving a journalist, or grabbing a protester when no one is being detained, I’ll inevitably be told not to call it police brutality because it “could be so much worse.”

  • The Arizona State Museum on the University of Arizona campus is home to hundreds of thousands of Native American artifacts. Among the museum’s collections are thousands of human remains and funerary objects, which the museum is diligently working on returning to the American Indian tribes to which they rightfully belong.

    To support those efforts, the National Park Service recently awarded the Arizona State Museum a federal grant of just under $90,000, which will help the museum work with human remains and artifacts excavated from state trust lands, primarily in the Tucson Basin. These include remains and objects from 70 archaeological sites…

    The grant was part of more than $1.6 million awarded by the National Park Service to museums and tribes across the country to help them with the documentation and return of human remains and cultural objects, a process known as repatriation.

  • When Israeli archaeologist Yoram Haimi decided to investigate his family’s unknown Holocaust history, he turned to the skill he knew best: He began to dig.

    After learning that two of his uncles were murdered in the infamous Sobibor death camp, he embarked on a landmark excavation project that is shining new light on the workings of one of the most notorious Nazi killing machines, including pinpointing the location of the gas chambers where hundreds of thousands were killed.

    Sobibor, in eastern Poland, marks perhaps the most vivid example of the “Final Solution,” the Nazi plot to wipe out European Jewry. Unlike other camps that had at least a facade of being prison or labor camps, Sobibor and the neighboring camps Belzec and Treblinka were designed specifically for exterminating Jews.

    …researching Sobibor has been difficult. After an October 1943 uprising at the camp, the Nazis shut it down and leveled it to the ground, replanting over it to cover their tracks.

    …Because there were so few survivors — only 64 were known — there has never been an authentic layout of the camp, where the Nazis are believed to have murdered some 250,000 Jews over an 18-month period. From those few survivors’ memories and partial German documentation, researchers had only limited understanding of how the camp operated. …

    Over five years of excavations, Haimi has been able to remap the camp and has unearthed thousands of items. He hasn’t found anything about his family, but amid the teeth, bone shards and ashes through which he has sifted, he has recovered jewelry, keys and coins that have helped identify some of Sobibor’s formerly nameless victims.

    The heavy concentration of ashes led him to estimate that far more than 250,000 Jews were actually killed at Sobibor.

    …[Deborah Lipstadt, a prominent American Holocaust historian from Emory University] said that if the archaeological evidence points to a higher death toll at Sobibor than previously thought, “it is not out of sync with other research that has been done.” …

    Though archaeology is usually identified with the study of ancient history, Haimi thinks that with survivors rapidly dying it could soon become a key element in understanding the Holocaust.

    tags: archaeology history genocide

  • Prof Sir Bob Watson said that any hope of restricting the average temperature rise to 2C was “out the window”.

    He said that the rise could be as high as 5C – with dire consequences. …

    Sir Bob is among the most respected scientists in the world on climate change policy.

    He is currently chief scientist at the Department for Food and Rural Affairs and a former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

    He also used to work for the World Bank and was a senior adviser to former Vice-President Al Gore at the White House.

  • Pea aphids may have an unprecedented ability to harvest sunlight, and use the energy for metabolic purposes. It would make it the only species of animal known to have photosynthesis-like powers.

    Wired U.K.Wired U.K.
    It comes down to carotenoids, which are a type of pigment used in animals for crucial functions like vision, bone growth and vitamin production. All known animals obtain these by eating the plants, algae and fungi that naturally synthesize the orange-red compounds.

    Back in 2010, University of Arizona biologists researcher Nancy Moran and Tyler Jarvik discovered that pea aphids can make their own carotenoids, like a plant. “What happened is a fungal gene got into an aphid and was copied,”said Moran …

    The team warns that more research will be needed before we can be sure that aphids truly have photosynthesis-like abilities. The researchers also speculate that the ability might be used as a back-up, during times of environmental stress.

    [Warning for insect harm.]

    tags: science

  • [Roger] Angel is an astronomer. He’s famous for developing an entirely new way of making really large, incredibly precise telescope mirrors. But his creativity doesn’t stop there. He’s now turned his attention to solar power, hoping to use the tricks he learned from capturing distant light from stars to do a more cost-efficient job of capturing light from the Sun.

  • NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif.
    Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos N.M.
    Biosphere 2, Tucson, Ariz.
    Edison’s Lab, West Orange N.J.
    Surgeons’ Hall Museum, Edinburgh, Scotland
    National Atomic Testing Museum, Paradise, Nev.
    Titan Missile Museum, Sahuarita, Ariz.
    Bikini Atoll, Micronesia

  • …became the first female professor of astronomy…

    …after she discovered a comet in 1847 …first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and one of the first elected to the American Philosophical Society.

    tags: women_in_stem_fields

  • Aug 22, 2012
    By Sarah Seltzer and Lauren Kelley

    As heartening as it is to see pressure for Akin to withdraw his Senate bid, there is a real concern that the situation will be forgotten when the news cycle eventually moves on. Because the reality is that this story is not merely about one inept Republican putting his foot in his mouth. Rather, Akin’s statement fits into the framework of the ongoing Republican assault on reproductive rights, and more broadly, our society’s pernicious rape culture (which is perpetuated not just by Republicans, but some self-identified progressives as well). Akin doesn’t stand alone. …

    tags: rape_culture

  • By Matt Taibbi
    August 29, 2012

    Last May, in a much-touted speech in Iowa, Romney used language that was literally inflammatory to describe America’s federal borrowing. “A prairie fire of debt is sweeping across Iowa and our nation,” he declared. “Every day we fail to act, that fire gets closer to the homes and children we love.” Our collective debt is no ordinary problem: According to Mitt, it’s going to burn our children alive.

    And this is where we get to the hypocrisy at the heart of Mitt Romney. Everyone knows that he is fantastically rich, having scored great success, the legend goes, as a “turnaround specialist,” a shrewd financial operator who revived moribund companies as a high-priced consultant for a storied Wall Street private equity firm. But what most voters don’t know is the way Mitt Romney actually made his fortune: by borrowing vast sums of money that other people were forced to pay back. This is the plain, stark reality that has somehow eluded America’s top political journalists for two consecutive presidential campaigns: Mitt Romney is one of the greatest and most irresponsible debt creators of all time. …

    By making debt the centerpiece of his campaign, Romney was making a calculated bluff of historic dimensions – placing a massive all-in bet on the rank incompetence of the American press corps.

    The taxpayer-funded subsidies that Romney has received go well beyond the humdrum, backdoor, welfare-sucking that all supposedly self-made free marketeers inevitably indulge in. Not that Romney hasn’t done just fine at milking the government when it suits his purposes, the most obvious instance being the incredible $1.5 billion in aid he siphoned out of the U.S. Treasury as head of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake – a sum greater than all federal spending for the previous seven U.S. Olympic games combined. …

    Thanks to the tax deduction, in other words, the government actually incentivizes the kind of leverage-based takeovers that Romney built his fortune on. …

    Romney … is a perfect representative of one side of the ominous cultural divide that will define the next generation, not just here in America but all over the world. Forget about the Southern strategy, blue versus red, swing states and swing voters – all of those political clichés are quaint relics of a less threatening era that is now part of our past, or soon will be. The next conflict defining us all is much more unnerving.

    That conflict will be between people who live somewhere, and people who live nowhere. It will be between people who consider themselves citizens of actual countries, to which they have patriotic allegiance, and people to whom nations are meaningless, who live in a stateless global archipelago of privilege – a collection of private schools, tax havens and gated residential communities with little or no connection to the outside world.

  • What Romney’s doing here is retreating into incoherence. TPC examined his promises — cutting rates by 20 percent, not raising taxes on investment income, and not reducing revenue below Bush tax cut levels — and found they could only add up if you raise effective tax rates on income under $250,000 a year. Feldstein found the same thing, despite his partisan attempt to present his finding as a vindication of Romney.

    Now Romney is saying he won’t raise taxes on any families earning less than a quarter million. But that just means his plan is completely mathematically impossible. He’s probably safer being attacked for making a series of promises that cannot be mathematically reconciled than being attacked for a specific ramification like raising taxes on the middle class.

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  • What is an Internet search engine? Why are search engines problematic from an ethical perspective? In this entry, the available philosophical literature on this topic will be critically reviewed. However, relatively few academic works on the topic of search engines have been written from a philosophical perspective. And only a handful of the existing publications that focus specifically on the ethical aspects of search engines have been contributed by philosophers …

  • By WILLIAM ALDEN

    It’s still the talk of Wall Street: Are big banks too complex? And if so, what should be done?

    On Thursday, one former Wall Street executive put the issue in vivid terms as she raised concerns about the complexity of financial behemoths.

    “It makes you weep blood out of your eyes,” said Sallie L. Krawcheck, who ran Bank of America’s wealth management division before a management reshuffling last year. …

    The debate about big banks received renewed attention this summer when Sanford I. Weill, the deal maker who built the modern Citigroup, said on CNBC that huge financial institutions should be split up.

    On Thursday, Ms. Krawcheck did not endorse any one strategy to resolve banks’ complexity, but she said the proposal to break up banks and the regulation known as the Volcker Rule were two possible “means to an end.” …

    Ms. Krawcheck said the comments of Mr. Weill, who once worked to repeal the Glass-Steagall law, which had separated commercial banks from investment banks, were not far from her mind.

  • Taken as a whole, all this data strongly suggests that housing prices in Southern California are finding a bottom. The question now is whether the market will return to normal and allow prices to begin the kind of steady appreciation that would mean that the bottom is behind us and real recovery is on the horizon.

    tags: california real_estate_crisis

  • That really is the key here: Not only has he been incredibly influential, but he really has done it almost entirely through his blog. Also, the bi-partisan swath of his adherents is remarkably rare for an economic pundit.

    It’s also rare for ideas to simultaneously gain currency among academics and Wall Street economists …

    The jury, obviously, is still out … but the folks we like to listen to, like Bill McBride at Calculated Risk, are very hopeful that this can accelerate the economy.

    And if it does, then Sumner’s blogging and promotion of the idea that the Fed should signal its unwillingness to let off the gas pedal, until the economy has more than recovered, will deserve major credit. Bloggers have accomplished some remarkable things, and this one will be one of the biggest.

  • Mitt Romney has a curious definition of “middle income,” based on an interview this morning with ABC News:

    MITT ROMNEY: No one can say my plan is going to raise taxes on middle-income people, because principle number one is keep the burden down on middle-income taxpayers.
    GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Is $100,000 middle income?
    MITT ROMNEY: No, middle income is $200,000 to $250,000 and less.

    …For the record, median U.S. household income is around $50,000.

  • …the supply of new and bigger student loans has been growing at least as fast as the price of college. No matter how much a college charges, it seems, some bright financial innovator somewhere, in either the public or the private sector, is going to be able to find a way to lend prospective students the money. As a result, colleges, especially when they’re in the private sector, can charge pretty much whatever they like — and, unsurprisingly, they end up doing exactly that.

    …the more expensive that college gets, the less of a good deal it becomes. Especially for the large minority of students who end up dropping out: nearly all of them would have been better off never going to college in the first place. …

    But the math is complicated: the only thing which has been rising faster than college tuition costs is the wage premium that college graduates receive over those without a degree. A degree is becoming more important, not less, in our digital economy. And so while the cost of going to college is rising, the cost of not going to college is, arguably, rising even faster. …

    Degrees don’t just get you in to certain jobs, they shatter a glass ceiling which is very much still in existence for those who don’t have them.

  • On September 16, 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo, parish priest for the small town of Dolores, told his flock to take up arms against the hated Spanish. This action, remembered in Mexico as “the Cry of Dolores,” marks the beginning of Mexico’s long, bloody struggle for Independence.

  • The excavation, during the course of which the reservoir was discovered, is part of an archaeological project whereby the entire drainage channel of Jerusalem dating to the Second Temple period is being exposed .

  • Researchers at the Sacred and Imperial Monastery of the God-Trodden Mount of Sinai are working to digitize the library’s collection of ancient manuscripts, hoping to reveal lost texts in the process.

  • Robert Axelrod’s 1980 tournaments of iterated prisoner’s dilemma strategies have been condensed into the slogan, Don’t be too clever, don’t be unfair. Press and Dyson have shown that cleverness and unfairness triumph after all. …

    Should the exploited player realize what is happening, and should he be willing to hurt himself in order to punish the extortionate player… then the iterated prisoner’s dilemma becomes an ultimatum game. That is, the exploited player is left to choose between gritting his teeth and accepting the unequal split — or punishing the exploiter and himself in the bargain.The prisoner’s dilemma is both math and mythos. From its invention at the RAND Corporation in 1950, people have been drawing parallels to all sorts of social, political, and biological conflicts. The Press-Dyson finding directly challenges the two notions at the heart of the meta-PD mythos: (1) that you can’t fool evolution, and (2) that the most successful strategies are fair strategies.

    Both ideas go back to Robert Axelrod’s tournaments, which found that the strategy known as Tit for Tat (TFT) performed best of all those submitted. …

    You would think that a player with a long memory would have an advantage — like a coach who has videos of all the opposing team’s games and can pore over them to formulate his counterstrategy. But [this paper shows] that it’s the player with the shortest memory who sets the ground rules: he can only react to what he can remember. …

    It would be a shame if our paper became just another meme in service of Gordon Gekko’s “greed is good”. In fact, it embodies something much more hopeful, rather closer to (if the requirement is to match math to cliché) “trust but verify”. Once both players understand ZD, then each has the power to set the other’s score, independent of the other’s actions. This allows them to make an enforceable treaty, not possible using simpler strategies. If one player secretly defects from the treaty, his score (set by the other player) won’t improve.

    …[Our strategy] is a world in which diplomacy trumps conflict.

    tags: math_is_really_philosophy

  • …women directed a stunning 39 percent of documentary films screening at high-profile film festivals in the United States from August 2011 to August 2012.  This figure is up from 28 percent in 2008-2009 when I conducted a similar study.   The survey of 23 film festivals found that women working on documentaries fare better than their counterparts working on studio and independent narrative features in a variety of other behind-the-scenes roles as well.  Women account for 35 percent of producers, 32 percent of writers, 31 percent of executive producers, 27 percent of editors, and 16 percent of cinematographers working on documentaries.

    Independently produced narrative features also employ greater percentages of women than studio features. …

    One logical question to emerge as a result of the Independent Women study is whether the women currently working in the independent realm will eventually find themselves making features for film studios. …

    Having women in the pipeline is a necessary but not sufficient requirement for boosting women’s behind-the-scenes employment.

  • As violence, reportedly sparked by an incendiary video degrading the Prophet Muhammad and produced in the U.S., spreads from North Africa to the Middle East, and U.S. warships head for Libya in response to what may have been a coordinated terrorist attack, many ordinary Libyans are hoping to send a very different message to the world: one of peace and solidarity. Yesterday, citizens gathered in Benghazi to speak for themselves, holding bilingual signs with messages like, “This does not represent us.”

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Of interest (Sep 14-15)

  • So is the new phone as insanely great as Apple says? Hey, I’ll leave stuff like that to David Pogue. What I’m interested in, instead, are suggestions that the unveiling of the iPhone 5 might provide a significant boost to the U.S. economy, adding measurably to economic growth over the next quarter or two.

    Do you find this plausible? If so, I have news for you: you are, whether you know it or not, a Keynesian — and you have implicitly accepted the case that the government should spend more, not less, in a depressed economy.

    …We don’t have high unemployment because Americans don’t want to work, and we don’t have high unemployment because workers lack the right skills. Instead, willing and able workers can’t find jobs because employers can’t sell enough to justify hiring them. And the solution is to find some way to increase overall spending so that the nation can get back to work.

  • …in the new welfare system, the working poor may be doing better while the deeply poor are doing worse.

    …household heads among the deeply poor were more likely to report a work-limiting disability.

    Among deeply poor households with children, a rising proportion are surviving on virtually no income — $2 a day or less in any given month, according to a companion study released by Shaefer and Kathryn Edin, professor of public policy and management at Harvard University. In fact they found that 1.46 million households with children fall under this metric, used to measure poverty in developing nations.

  • Earlier this year, we saw Udacity and Coursera take flight, two online ventures dedicated to offering Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and democratizing education. Caught off-guard, traditional universities have scrambled to get a foothold in this brave new world of e-learning, and 16 universities have already signed agreements to offer their own MOOCs through Coursera. We welcome that trend. But, if you talk with profs at these universities, they often ask these questions: Why are we paying good money to develop courses that will build Coursera’s business (which is for-profit and VC-backed)? Or why are we creating courses for a platform that we don’t control or have a stake in? They ask these questions when they’re not otherwise asking “what will happen to our jobs and beloved universities in 20 years?”

    For schools asking those questions, Google might have an answer. According to an announcement yesterday, Google is releasing the code base for Course Builder, a new open source platform that will give individual educators and universities the ability to create MOOCs of their own. …

    Update: Stanford reports today that it is trying out its own open source platform. It’s called Class2Go. Learn more about it here.

    tags: education software

  • It is a common stereotype that when people lie they are shifty-eyed, avoiding eye contact out of a sense of guilt, shame, or anxiety. My research team and I believe the opposite. Rather than focusing on the emotions involved in deception, we focus more on the cognition (thinking) involved in lying. When people lie, their eyes, we predicted, would remain stationary. The theory behind it is that lying often requires more novel thinking and problem solving than truth telling as liars generate fabrications that achieve their goals, fit with what their audience knows, and do not contradict themselves. All of this requires mental work. Eye movements, we reasoned, increase the amount of visual stimulation, which can be distracting. …

    We tested this idea in the context of eyewitness testimony. …

    Consistent with what others have found, truth tellers generally answered more quickly than rehearsed or unrehearsed liars and the fewest inconsistencies. The important new finding is that truth tellers had more eye movements than liars, suggesting that lying required more focused attention.

    tags: psychology science

  • State media in Egypt said more than 220 people had been injured in the clashes since Tuesday. …

    The widening unrest has challenged the Obama administration’s policy in the tinderbox region, where the Arab Spring uprisings have removed many of the pro-American strongmen who once kept public displays of Islamic passion in check. …

    In broad areas of the Islamic world, news reports on Friday said, the authorities faced similar dilemmas in their response to the amateurish American video, which portrays the Prophet Muhammad as a perverted buffoon and which Muslims have called deeply offensive to their beliefs. The protests in Afghanistan came despite efforts by the authorities there to prevent the offending video from being seen. Afghan officials said they pressed to indefinitely suspend access to YouTube, where the video, promoted by a shadowy assortment of right-wing Christians in the United States, had been viewed more than 3.4 million times by Friday.

    [I’m not sure how this is Obama’s fault… -L]

  • [quote taken from the About page]

    Political Parity is a nonpartisan initiative to double the number of women at the highest levels of US government by 2022. Our vision, part of a social movement that aims to drastically change the face of American politics, is groundbreaking, our timeline is long, and we are part of a large field of passionate, dedicated, and skilled activists. None of us will achieve our goal of doubling the number of women in Congress alone. We need to work collaboratively.

  • [quote taken from the About page]

    The Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is nationally recognized as the leading source of scholarly research and current data about American women’s political participation. Its mission is to promote greater knowledge and understanding about women’s participation in politics and government and to enhance women’s influence and leadership in public life.

    CAWP’s education and outreach programs translate research findings into action, addressing women’s under-representation in political leadership with effective, imaginative programs serving a variety of audiences. As the world has watched Americans considering female candidates for the nation’s highest offices, CAWP’s over four decades of analyzing and interpreting women’s participation in American politics have provided a foundation and context for the discussion.

  • Mitt Romney is having a no good, very bad week. After falling further behind the President by failing to get a convention bounce and flubbing a crucial moment in foreign policy that even has Republicans slamming his campaign, there’s a new problem: reports about his time as governor of Massachusetts sound more and more like he lacks the basic level of compassion for everyday people that attracts American voters. …

    Consider this vignette: Julie Goodridge and David Wilson, two of the plaintiffs in the legal case that eventually led to marriage equality in Massachusetts, visited Romney while he was governor to put a human face on their experiences. After Goodridge relate  to Romney a personal story about being blocked from hospital visitations for her eight year old daughter, the governor reportedly said, “I didn’t know you had families.”

    This response shocked Goodridge, who tearfully said to Romney on the way out of the meeting, “Gov. Romney, tell me — what would you suggest I say to my 8 year-old daughter about why her mommy and her ma can’t get married because you, the governor of her state, are going to block our marriage?”

    Romney reportedly responded, “I don’t really care what you tell your adopted daughter. Why don’t you just tell her the same thing you’ve been telling her the last eight years.”

    tags: politics

  • Even so, as [Captain Tyler Stark] floated down, he felt almost calm. The night air was cool, and there was no sound, only awesome silence. He didn’t really know why he’d been sent here, to Libya, in the first place. He knew his assignment, his specific mission. But he didn’t know the reason for it. He’d never met a Libyan. Drifting high over the desert he had no sense that he was at once an expression of an idea framed late one night in the White House by the president himself, writing with a No. 2 pencil, and also, suddenly, a threat to that idea. He didn’t sense these invisible threads in his existence, only the visible ones yoking him to his torn parachute. His thoughts were only of survival. He realized, If I can see my plane exploding, and my chute in the air, so can the enemy. He’d just turned 27 — one of only three facts about himself, along with his name and rank, that he was now prepared to divulge if captured.

    He scanned the earth beneath his dangling feet. He was going to hit hard, and there was nothing he could do about it. …

    [Obama] pointed to the patio outside his window. It was built by Reagan, he says, on a lovely quiet spot in the shade of a giant magnolia.

    A century ago presidents, when they took office, would auction the contents of the place on the White House lawn. Sixty-five years ago Harry Truman could rip apart the south side of the White House and build himself a new balcony. Thirty years ago Ronald Reagan could create a discreet seating area hidden from public view. Today there is no way any president could build anything that would enhance the White House without being accused of violating some sacred site, or turning the place into a country club, or wasting taxpayer money, or, worst of all, being oblivious to appearances. … Obama looked at the Reagan patio and laughed at the audacity of building it.

    Crossing the White House lawn on the way out that morning I passed a giant crater, surrounded by heavy machinery. For the better part of a year hordes of workmen have been digging and building something deep below the White House — though what it is no one who knows will really say. “Infrastructure” is the answer you get when you ask. But no one really does ask, much less insist on the public’s right to know. The president of the United States can’t move a bust in the Oval Office without facing a firestorm of disapproval. But he can dig a hole deep in his front yard and build an underground labyrinth and no one even asks what he’s up to.

    …he has the oddest relationship to the news of any human being on the planet. Wherever it starts out, it quickly finds him and forces him to make some decision about it: whether to respond to it, and shape it, or to leave it be. As the news speeds up, so must our president’s response to it, and then, on top of it all, the news to which he must respond is often about him.

    …In the span of a few hours, a president will go from celebrating the Super Bowl champions to running meetings on how to fix the financial system, to watching people on TV make up stuff about him, to listening to members of Congress explain why they can’t support a reasonable idea simply because he, the president, is for it, to sitting down with the parents of a young soldier recently killed in action. He spends his day leaping over ravines between vastly different feelings. How does anyone become used to this?

    …“Nothing comes to my desk that is perfectly solvable,” Obama said at one point. “Otherwise, someone else would have solved it. So you wind up dealing with probabilities. Any given decision you make you’ll wind up with a 30 to 40 percent chance that it isn’t going to work. You have to own that and feel comfortable with the way you made the decision. You can’t be paralyzed by the fact that it might not work out.” On top of all of this, after you have made your decision, you need to feign total certainty about it. People being led do not want to think probabilistically. …

    Back on October 9, 2009, Obama had been woken up in the middle of the night to be informed that he’d been given the Nobel Peace Prize. He half thought it might be a prank. “It’s one of the most shocking things that has happened in all of this,” he says. “And I immediately anticipated that it would cause me problems.” The Nobel Prize Committee had just made it a tiny bit harder for him to do the job he’d just been elected to do, as he could not at once be commander in chief of the most powerful force on earth and the face of pacifism. When he sat down some weeks later with Ben Rhodes and another speechwriter, Jon Favreau, to discuss what he wanted to say, he told them he intended to use the acceptance speech to make the case for war.

  • All women who have lived through violence and abuse should have the certainty that the law will protect them — no matter their race, creed, color, religion or immigration status. Unfortunately, Congress is now considering proposals that would erode this certainty — and its failure to act is already causing harm.

    We urge congressional leaders to move forward now to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, without provisions harmful to immigrants.

    As long-time law enforcement leaders, we know this act is crucial. Since passage in 1994, it has helped cut domestic violence by more than half. Still, the scourge of domestic violence remains a serious problem: …

  • The Washington Post editorial board, which is usually a reliable ally for Republicans on foreign policy, today offered sharp criticism of Mitt Romney’s claim that Obama sympathized with the attacks on Americans in Egypt and Libya yesterday, which left four American foreign service officers dead and others wounded. The Post said Romney’s attack “is a discredit to his campaign.”

  • A bipartisan group of former U.S. diplomats, generals and government officials released a report today urging caution against the United States launching military strikes on Iran to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons.

    The report — whose signatories include Brent Scowcroft, ret. Adm. William Fallon, former Republican senator Chuck Hagel, ret. Gen. Anthony Zinni and former Amb. Thomas Pickering — concludes that a unilateral Israeli attack would set back the Iranian nuclear program by only 2 years and an American attack by 4 years. But if the objective is “ensuring that Iran never acquires a nuclear bomb,” the U.S. “would need to conduct a significantly expanded air and sea war over a prolonged period of time, likely several years.” In order to achieve regime change, the report says, “the occupation of Iran would require a commitment of resources and personnel greater than what the U.S. has expended over the past 10 years in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined.”

  • September 11, 2012 — A group of more than 100 religious leaders, including Catholic nuns, on Monday released a statement urging governors to implement the Affordable Care Act’s (PL 111-148) Medicaid expansion…

  • A New York federal district judge on Wednesday blocked a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act that could be read to authorize the federal government to indefinitely detain people who were “substantially” or “indefinitely” “supporting” the Taliban, Al Qaeda or its allies. The plaintiffs in this case included journalists and writers who feared that their reporting about Al Qaeda or the Taliban might subject them to detention under this law.

  • It’s an article of faith amongst Republicans that government can’t create jobs, and that cutting government spending will lead to job growth. Republicans even pushed the nation to the brink of a debt default in order to secure cuts in federal spending in 2010.
    But with the consequences of that debt ceiling deal due to hit in January — at which point the so-called “sequester” will cut into both military and non-defense discretionary spending — House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) is seemingly having a change of heart.

  • Starting Saturday, California shoppers making purchases on Amazon.com will no longer do so tax-free.

    Sept. 15 marks the day a new law takes effect, requiring out-of-state retailers to begin collecting sales tax. The law is known colloquially as “the Amazon tax.” …

    The state Board of Equalization issued a statement Wednesday reminding shoppers that “Internet shopping was never tax-free.” A 77-year-old law requires California consumers who purchase items out of state to pay the tax directly to the state. But very few do.

    tags: california

  • Methodists are among the last mainline Protestant holdouts on the topic of homosexuality. Karen Oliveto, pastor of San Francisco’s Glide Memorial United Methodist Church, is bound and determined to change that at the 2012 General Conference in Tampa, Fla., just steps away from the site of the Republican National Convention. Similar to a political convention, the question of whether homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching will be the subject of intense lobbying, heated debate, close committee votes and, if Oliveto and the progressive faction are successful, a decision on the convention floor.

    But the conservatives, bolstered by large and rapidly growing Methodist congregations in Africa, are just as determined – and they believe they have the Old Testament on their side. The two factions are destined for a showdown at the convention. This is the story of what happened.

    [transcript and video]

    tags: lgbtq video religion

  • A writer granted rare access to President Obama for six months said Wednesday that the politically costly charge that the president is aloof grows out of a personality trait he shares with journalists: “It’s the personality trait of a writer.”

    Michael Lewis, the best-selling author of “Moneyball” and “The Big Short,” conducted multiple interviews with the president that culminated in a 15,000-word piece for the October issue of Vanity Fair.

    “What I noticed is that that office takes your personality and exaggerates it,” … “He really is, at bottom, a writer. And the trait is he’s in a moment and not in a moment at the same time.

    [I don’t buy that this quality is unique to writers, but it’s interesting. -L]

    tags: journalism politics barack_obama

  • …72 to 76 percent of newspaper stories covering the 2012 presidential election were written by men.

    The numbers come from a selection of 35 influential newspapers from across the country. …

    tags: journalism politics infographics

  • …One of her new initiatives, the non-partisan Political Parity, intends to double the number of women in Congress by 2020. That would mean women would occupy 34 percent of the seats, instead of 17 percent — a number Debbie Walsh of Rutgers’ University’s Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) calls “pathetic.”  The 17 percent figure puts the United States in something like 94th position in terms of women’s participation in government.

    CAWP’s new effort, The 2012 Project, presented some encouraging numbers: women broke the record filing to run for the U.S. House this year: almost 300 did so. More than 160 survived their primaries — and there is hope that in November women will break the 20 percent marker. …

    Name It. Change It., regularly tracks sexist and gendered coverage of women in politics (you can read some of the many examples on their blog, or follow them on Twitter), but they’ve also produced a media guide to help reporters (and everyone) spot the sexist and gendered coverage of women candidates and politicians. …

    tags: sexism patriarchy

  • The most disturbing instance of anti-Islamic sentiment this summer did not come from the mouth of a prominent politician or commentator, but rather, from the barrel of a Springfield 9mm semiautomatic handgun. Wade Page, the Army veteran with ties to white supremacist groups who opened fire on a Sikh temple near Milwaukee, ruthlessly gunned down six worshippers. While Sikhism is a distinct religion from Islam, many Sikhs have been targeted alongside Muslims since 9/11. The sentiment, a horribly bloody form of McCarthyism, seems to be: if you worship differently, dress differently, and have brown skin, you are a terrorist, and you will be targeted.

    While the radical right’s increasingly accepted fear and hatred of Muslims is disturbing in its own right, journalists point to an equally disturbing silence by the left on these issues. Both The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf and Mother Jones’ Adam Serwer have noted that the Democratic National Convention barely touched the issue of Islamophobia in the United States. Unlike in 2008 when, in the wake of the Bush era, civil liberties was a platform issue at the DNC, this year Democrats pushed once-hot button topics like Guantanamo Bay, racial profiling in fighting terrorism, warrantless surveillance, and indefinite detention under the rug.

    tags: islamophobia

  • Separate from the issue being decided inside the courthouse, several speakers emphasized mobilization of voters. John Jordan, the NAACP’s state coordinator for civic engagement, said, “Whatever they decide, we need you to go out to every single neighbor, family member, friend, community leader, and register folks to vote. And then we need to see turnout like we have never seen before.”

    tags: democracy

  • Once again, the big five networks — ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and the CW — and a few cable networks are trotting out new shows for the fall TV season. Though we’ve given up hope that the big five will ever feature shows that tell stories strictly from a black perspective (Kerry Washington’s Scandal, which returns for its second season on Sept. 27, came close), this season’s slate does feature a slew of diverse ensembles, with African-American actors playing prominent roles (NBC wins the award for most new shows with black folks). Here are the stars we’ll be watching this season.

    tags: pop_culture

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Of interest (Sep 12-13)

  • Her key contribution to social psychology relates to implicit theories of intelligence. This is present in her book entitled Mindset: The New Psychology of Success which was published in 2006. According to Dweck, individuals can be placed on a continuum according to their implicit views of where ability comes from. Some believe their success is based on innate ability; these are said to have a “fixed” theory of intelligence. Others, who believe their success is based on hard work and learning, are said to have a “growth” or an “incremental” theory of intelligence. Individuals may not necessarily be aware of their own mindset, but their mindset can still be discerned based on their behavior. It is especially evident in their reaction to failure. Fixed-mindset individuals dread failure because it is a negative statement on their basic abilities, while growth mindset individuals don’t mind failure as much because they realize their performance can be improved. These two mindsets play an important role in all aspects of a person’s life. Dweck argues that the growth mindset will allow a person to live a less stressful and more successful life. …

    This is important because (1) individuals with a “growth” theory are more likely to continue working hard despite setbacks and (2) individuals’ theories of intelligence can be affected by subtle environmental cues.

    tags: science psychology education

  • StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 40,000 interviews from nearly 80,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind, and millions listen to our weekly broadcasts on NPR’s Morning Edition and on our Listen pages.

    We do this to remind one another of our shared humanity, strengthen and build the connections between people, teach the value of listening, and weave into the fabric of our culture the understanding that every life matters. At the same time, we will create an invaluable archive of American voices and wisdom for future generations.

    In the coming years we will build StoryCorps into an enduring institution that will touch the lives of every American family.

    tags: oral_history autobiography

  • Madigan was at the Democratic National Convention last night when she took questions from Dave McKinney, Fran Spielman, and Natasha Korecki of the Chicago Sun-Times regarding her future plans on running for governor. The reporters apparently felt it was fair game to speculate whether Madigan would be capable of balancing being a governor and a mother. …

    Women are routinely questioned about their capacity to balance work with family, but you’d be hard pressed to find even one man that has been subjected to a similar inquiry.

    Despite Madigan’s very reasonable response, the reporters wouldn’t let it go. They apparently weren’t satisfied with her answer and “pressed further on whether she could simultaneously hold both jobs — governor and mom,” and “reminded [Madigan] that being governor is a lot more demanding than attorney general.”

    [Sign the petition calling on the Sun-Times to clarify whether they believe the questions were appropriate and “to affirm that sexism has no place in their political coverage”:

    https://www.change.org/petitions/tell-the-chicago-sun-times-that-sexism-has-no-place-in-their-political-coverage

    -L.]

    tags: call_for_action sexism politics media journalism

  • …Liz Barry from Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science (PLOTS) and their grassroots mapping efforts. Theirs is a unique way to work with and contribute to open government data. I had watched Liz’s TED talk about the mapping they did in 2010 of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf Coast. Their maps were the only high resolution images available at the onset of the spill and spread all over the world media because access to airspace was restricted and planes could not capture aerial photos using traditional methods. It all had started with Jeffrey Warren in MIT and others who were experimenting with new ways to create high resolution maps using low cost, DIY technology like kites, balloons and cheap digital cameras. When the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded, they saw the opportunity to help by mapping the scope of the disaster. That’s when Liz met them and jumped right in, helping with logistics and connecting people with boats and crews.

    tags: video

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Of interest (Sep 10-11)

  • How do you decide which creative projects to back on crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter? Are you compelled by a unique story? Do you just donate to your friends? Or do you like to support projects that bring money and impact back to your hometown?

    If you’re inclined to think local, you’re not alone …

    .. looking for projects under the cateogry ‘New York City’ won’t necssarily turn up projects tagged as Brooklyn. …

    A few months ago, Wilcox began collaborating with a few other developers to build a website that could grab Kickstarter data and plot it geographically, so anyone could locate all the projects in their area on a map—similar to what PadMapper did with Craigslist data, before Craigslist cut them off. The team named the project ThingsWeStart and launched it to the public yesterday.

    …adding a layer of geographical organization could potentially support an expanded set of Kickstarter users — whose projects are great but whose  social networks are small.

  • This latest breakthrough for Obama may lend credence to the belief that online fundraising can be a solution to the influence of traditional fundraising on the democratic process.

    tags: politics

  • Despite the allure of rapidly expanding renewable energy sources solar and wind, a far less sexy source of green power is already ubiquitous and requires no massive infrastructure investment: recyclable oils. Whether it’s leftover fast food cooking oil or used motor oil, these resources are abundant. The problem is getting them from those who don’t need them any more to those who do. …

    With StayGreen Oil, consumers and vendors now can access the first ever online marketplace for recycled oils.

    tags: green_energy

  • The state has become the prison capital of the world, incarcerating five times more people than the country of Iran and 16 times more than country of China. Harris-Perry sat down in the Big Easy with Norris Henderson, a local prison-reform activist, and talked about what America has built and how law officers in some areas are even paid per head they deliver into the jail system.

    tags: video louisiana prison-industrial_complex

  • tags: video politics

  • …many small business owners report that regulations are their biggest obstacle to success. But are they really?

    …asked small business owners across the nation to rate how friendly their states—and particularly their states’ regulations—were to small businesses. Their answers generally matched conventional analysis: Utah and Texas, with fewer and looser regulations, scored well, while states with more aggressive environmental and labor standards, such as Vermont, California, and New York, scored worst.

    But researcher Stacy Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance noticed something odd : Comparatively speaking, many of the states with the best scores, and the loosest regulations, weren’t actually home to very many small businesses:

    “…Of the five most ‘friendly’ states, only one, Idaho, outperforms the national average on numbers of small businesses. The other four lag behind, with Louisiana ranking 36th and Texas 47th in the nation.”

  • We haven’t seen any images or videos of actual game play yet, but according to tweets from @BadPiggies, the official Twitter account for the new game, it should be very different from Angry Birds.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Of interest (Sep 7-8)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Of interest (Sep 4-6)

  • [This actually got me excited about CSS again. -L]

    tags: web_design css

  • [Also explains salting. -L]

    tags: security

  • When disaster strikes a place like Haiti, Somalia, or Indonesia, the response in the developed world usually follows a similar trajectory: massive aid appeal from local NGOs supported by celebrity faces, a large influx of funds from reliably generous Americans, and an eventual petering out of urgent media coverage in the ensuing weeks.

    While media coverage of international tragedies may appear to reach saturation levels at times, the story of how those aid dollars affect local economies is not so well told.

    … “What happens then is all the NGOs that are responding to the crisis go shopping for the same things in the same places. And what happens in any market when everyone’s shopping for the same product? The price goes up.”

    …To address that, Advance Aid aims to fundamentally change the procurement of emergency supplies. …

    In a larger sense, Advance Aid is also trying to reconcile the two components of humanitarian aid — emergency response funds and long-term development funds — which are currently “running in parallel but not talking to each other.”

  • This week, as the country prepared to celebrate Labor Day, the National Partnership released the results of an unprecedented analysis of the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Our finding: More than three in five pregnant women in the United States (62 percent) are in the labor force. In fact, in every single state in a one-year period, the majority of women who gave birth also held jobs. …

    The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was enacted in 1978, before many women who are pregnant today were even born. But discrimination in the workplace based on pregnancy is both common and increasing.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Of interest (Aug 29-31)

  • The recent comment by Representative Todd Akin (R-MO), that women don’t get pregnant from “legitimate” rape because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down” provoked an unusual outcry, but the strategy he is using is not unique. The use of bad science is part of a long-term effort to limit – or eliminate – women’s access to abortion and it has been effective in legislatures and encouraged by the courts.

    The roadmap for passing legislation based on questionable science that will then be upheld in court is clear. Find someone with a scientific background to make an “Akin argument” – proclaim a scientific fact that justifies the conclusion that abortion is bad for women’s health. Repeat the “Akin argument” over and over as fact. Write it into legislation and then tout the proposal as being good for women’s health. When challenged in court by the real science, point to the initial scientific conclusion you made up, demonstrating medical uncertainty. Then note that the state’s interest is helping women. You’ve just secured a law that harms women in the name of helping them.

    The legislative efforts are on-going. For example, a bill in Kansas earlier this year included a requirement that the physician tell a woman seeking an abortion that it will bring “risk of breast cancer and risks to the woman’s reproductive health.” The National Cancer Institute and others have solidly rebutted this proposition. Yet if this bill passes, Kansas will become the sixth state requiring doctors to inaccurately assert that there is a link between abortion and breast cancer. Similarly, five states require women to be told about an invented connection between abortion and future fertility.

    tags: abortion politics junk_science

  • Yesterday, Bill Nye gave his first mainstream media interview since posting a video on YouTube declaring that denial of evolution harms kids in the long run [link]. On CBS This Morning, Nye said he wasn’t attacking religion. Rather, he was attacking scientific illiteracy…

    Watch the whole thing here [link]

    tags: science

  • The Quebec Government, which wasn’t required to hold an election for over another year, gave up the ghost on August 1st, 2012, dissolving Parliament and announcing that elections were to be held on September 4, 2012.

    …massive protests that took place starting in February and which continued for months in Montreal and other cities. Quebec Premier Charest made clear that the protests were to be an issue front-and-center to the election: …

    Led by CLASSE, the student union, sparked by proposed tuition hikes, the protests increasing intensity eventually led to what some estimate as more than a quarter million people out in the streets protesting austerity (and a new law, Bill 78, designed to stop protests (!)). …

    Massive protests in Mexico recently in the lead up to and in the aftermath of a Presidential election did not succeed in preventing a conservative Government from taking power again. Will a different story be written in Quebec is less than a week?

  • Astronomers have made a sweet discovery: simple sugar molecules floating in the gas around a star some 400 light-years away, suggesting the possibility of life on other planets.

    The discovery doesn’t prove that life has developed elsewhere in the universe—but it implies that there is no reason it could not. It shows that the carbon-rich molecules that are the building blocks of life can be present even before planets have begun forming.

    Scientists use the term “sugar” to loosely refer to organic molecules known as carbohydrates, which are made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.

    The molecules that the team detected in space are the simplest form of sugar, called glycoaldehyde…

    …important because scientists think it plays a key role in the chemical reaction that forms ribonucleic acid (RNA), a crucial biomolecule present in all living cells.

    tags: science astronomy biochemistry

  • Ann Romney praised mothers at the Republican convention in Tampa: “You know what it’s like to work a little harder during the day to earn the respect you deserve at work and then come home to help with that book report which just has to be done.”

    She also broadened her message to include all women, saying that they sigh “a little bit more” than men when it comes to figuring out how to make it through another day.

    While the speech’s overall message was welcome, Nancy Folbre, an economist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said she wants more detail from Ann Romney about how to support working families.

    tags: sexism economic_justice politics

  • tags: photography

  • Imagine, if you will, a world in which Elizabethan England was as obsessed with adding cats to things as modern Internet culture is, but naturally, having no Photoshop, had to do it by hand.

    Wait, you don’t have to, Susan Herbert already took care of that in the illustrations for her book Shakespeare Cats eight years ago, and thanks to Thaeger, they’ve been shared with the internet. …

    tags: pop_culture

  • tags: science_fiction documentary

  • AirDroid is a dead-simple-to-use browser-based device manager for your Android phone. Via Wi-Fi, it quickly and easily connects you to your device from almost any web browser on your computer, Windows or Mac – no pesky plugins required. And it’s 100% free. It also works great, allowing you to hold SMS conversations, manage files and apps on your phone, along with many other useful features. It doesn’t hurt that AirDroid is pretty gorgeous, too. …

    We’re going to have to agree with our readers yet again – AirDroid is pretty awesome. It’s not so much what AirDroid does that makes it great, those features are what make it useful. Besides, there are a number of apps similar to AirDroid already out there.

    It’s all the little things, the things that make AirDroid a joy to use, which make it the app of the year.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Of interest (Aug 27-28)

  • In case you missed it, Google broke a cardinal rule of its famously clean white-space design Tuesday morning. For the first time, the company put an animated banner ad on its sacrosanct search homepage.

  • NASA has sent a voice message to another planet and back for the first time in human history.

    The message, which was sent via radio transmission to the Mars rover and back to NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) on Earth, is a spoken-word congratulatory note from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

  • We’ve talked before about how the FAA regulations are a little outdated, and how many electronics can’t interfere with the plane’s radio signals. Now the FAA is seeking comments from passengers, flight attendants, and electronic device makers about what you’d like to see changed for flight rules.

    Your comments, of course, don’t mean the FAA will change its rules, but they will help them decide what’s worth researching more. In particular, the FAA is looking for your thoughts on whether electronic usage is distracting, who you think should research the effects on aircraft, and if there should be a standard for aircraft-friendly electronics. Here’s where to send your comments: …

    The end goal of the FAA is always safety, but if you’d like to add your two cents to the debate, get in touch with the FAA by November 5, 2012.

  • Here are the products that Apple feels fall under the lawsuit’s umbrella:

    Galaxy S 4G
    Galaxy S2 AT&T
    Galaxy S2
    Galaxy S2 T-Mobile
    Galaxy S2 Epic 4G
    Galaxy S Showcase
    Droid Charge
    Galaxy Prevail

    This is only a fraction of the 28 devices originally listed in Apple’s lawsuit. Many of those offending items are no longer for sale in the U.S. market.

  • Ever had that terrible moment when you realize, halfway through leaving a message, that you said something horribly stupid? This is a big bummer when you’re trying to leave an important message, but as CNET reminds us, most cell phone carriers allow you to back out and rerecord messages.

    This trick is as old as cell phones…

  • Yesterday, we told you about the California woman who was trying to save the house she’d inherited when her mother passed away, but who claims she is facing foreclosure because the bank refuses to deal with anyone other than her late mom. Since then, more than 120,000 additional people have signed the daughter’s petition and the attention has moved Wells Fargo to put things on hold for a moment.

  • … Facebook-CNN Election Insights, a real-time tool that shows which candidate Americans are talking about online, sliced into a number of user-configurable demographics.

    … a noble first step, but it lacks the essential data and context it needs to be truly useful.

    [I read this whole article and I didn’t find the part about misinformation. Who titled this thing? -L]

  • LoveIt constantly works to identify your specific interests and pulls compelling images based on those findings. …

    “The lack of private collections on Pinterest is a hindrance to many people,” says Ron LaPierre, LoveIt co-founder and CEO. “Even in the social world we live in today, many people want to keep certain things either to themselves or to an identified small group of friends or family. LoveIt allows them to do that.” …

    LoveIt’s content importer tool includes an algorithm that automatically credits the original content source.

  • …what if you could own a part of a solar power plant, at prices that almost anyone could afford?

    Abundance Generation, a UK company, has turned to crowd funding to finance major renewable generation projects. “We wanted to create productive, tangible and long-term investment opportunities that are open to everyone,” says the company on its website. “Renewable energy is a great place to begin the process of returning control to people over where their money goes and how it is invested.”

  • The process is stupid simple. You take video with your phone’s camera, then select which clips you want to include. If you want to have any kind of control over what goes in your video, this is the closest you can get. While you can choose what source material goes in to your final product, ultimately it’s up to the Almighty Algorithm to decide what makes the final cut. …

    Once you’ve selected your clips, you’re presented with a variety of music to choose from as a soundtrack. Surprisingly, the selection isn’t just a bunch of synthesized free tracks. …

    Once you’ve chosen the soundtrack and clips, you enter in a title for the video and off you go. Magisto will upload your clips to its servers and then process the video. This can be a time-consuming process, so grab a snack. When it’s done, though, depending on your song selection, the result can look pretty good. …

    As you can see, the editing of the clips themselves doesn’t seem to change too much, but the transitions and effects that are attached to certain songs can be wildly different. The choices of effects aren’t random either. The colorful paint splashes on the Guns N’ Roses song are used every time that song is chosen. Unfortunately, there’s no way to see what kind of visual style you’ll get to accompany your audio style, but with some rather lengthy trial-and-error, you can get to know what the various tracks end up looking like.

    It’s also unclear how long the final videos will end up being. My initial test used a little over a minute of footage, so I figured adding more source material would make the final product longer. Not so.

    tags: video

  • “Social Impact” is a free app that utilizes the iPhone’s GPS system to display the closest retail social enterprises — including restaurants, coffee shops, and craft stores. The developers, Rolfe Larson Associates, have added nearly 700 businesses to the app’s database so far — each include serving the common good as part of their mission. The developers are eager for users to suggest more socially progressive businesses to grow the network.

    “A social venture is a business that uses commercial means to accomplish a social purpose.” explains Social Impact founder, Rolfe Larson. “Our approach is to list those ventures that meet the criteria of leading associations, such as Social Enterprise Alliance, Green Restaurant Association, and B Corporation.”

  • …a collection of interactive tutorials for journalists, activists, researchers and students to learn about tools by the Sunlight Foundation and others to unlock government data.

    Be sure to create a profile to access our curriculum, track your progress, watch videos, complete training activities and get updates on new tutorials and tools.

    Whether you are an investigative journalist trying to get insight on a complex data set, an activist uncovering the hidden influence behind your issue, or a congressional staffer in need of mastering legislative data, Sunlight Academy guides you through how to make our tools work for you.

    tags: journalism politics education resource

  • In my house hard-boiled eggs are made by at least the half-dozen. Each kid would eat boiled eggs until explosion or yolk-asphyxiation occurs, so I have to cut them off at three each. This morning I had a mix of white and brown eggs. As I put them in the pot, the fighting started.

    [Don’t be put off by the title. This may be the funniest thing you see all day. -L]

    tags: racism

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Of interest (Aug 19-23)

Science & math — Biography of 20th century geneticist Salvador Luria; never wear a tinfoil hat offered to you by a stranger; a parabola video; biography of 20th-21st century physicist Cardinal Warde; did the Mayans’ impact on their environment contributed to their decline?

Pop culture & lifestyle — cool Doctor Who shirt design; a review of A Wrinkle In Time (graphic novel adaptation); birthstones for scifi/fantasy fans; Minecraft gone horribly wrong; shopping recommendations for the most nutrients on a tight budget.

Politics, society & history — Planned Parenthood get the last laugh; Iran slams door of higher education in faces of female students; a review of a book about the history of segregation in cities; racism and interracial couples; pepper spray against peaceful students? A-OK! Romney’s plan for climate change… wait, what plan? Connecting the dots between Akin’s and Romney’s beliefs about rape and female biology; racism in the build-up to the subprime crisis begets racist legacy (we do all remember that “racism” means “systematic oppression”, not just “racial prejudice”, right?) NYPD spies on Muslims, nets zero terrorists, annoys peaceful Muslim communities; Dee Snyder of Twisted Sister denounces Paul Ryan (shared because it’s funny); man who armed Black Panthers was FBI informant? Race 101 fallacies revisited; race in American Buddhism; what defines a hate group? Linguistics, politics, and sexism.

Continue reading

Of interest (Aug 17-19)

  • Now, remember folks! Just because you are a geek doesn’t mean you are a carrier for any of these fallacies, and just because you’re NOT a geek doesn’t mean you aren’t a carrier.

    1 – “Logic Wins.”

    Emotions are difficult, so let’s keep everything logical and then we will never have problems. The person who is having emotions outside those that are expected is weak and the loser and – worst of all – wrong.

  • intersectionality was not “invented” (if you will) as a way to understand “privilege.” It was created as a way to make varying communities visible *and create justice* accordingly.

  • Hillary Clinton’s badassery knows no bounds:

    “Interviewer: Okay. Which designers do you prefer?

    Hillary Clinton: What designers of clothes?

    Interviewer: Yes.

    Hillary Clinton: Would you ever ask a man that question?

    Interviewer: Probably not. Probably not.”

  • The avoidance of the appearance of evil has a value. But that value is lost when you dissavow what you know to be true, in order to fit in to the trends of the world. This is Mormon doctrine as I learned it as a child. Rather than stand up for what the church teaches, Governor Romney has sold out. When people ask me why I would not support him, given my Mormon heritage, this is precisely why. He has not avoided the appearance of evil.

  • The reign of Elizabeth I saw the beginning of Britain’s first black community. It’s a fascinating story for modern Britons, writes historian Michael Wood.

  • In addition to the fact that Mitt Romney was caught lying about this issue in 2002, there is also the issue of how any plans he has as president would affect his own finances, there’s also the issue that was raised in this diary yesterday: Mitt’s Taxes: Its about National Security, not how much he paid. It would also be the honorable thing to do, considering Mitt Romney’s own father, George Romney when running for president in 1968 released 12 years of taxes, saying “One year could be a fluke, perhaps done for show, and what mattered in personal finance was how a man conducted himself over the long haul.”

    Mr. Romney, a majority of American people want you to release more years of your taxes. You’re asking for a majority of the American people to vote for you for president. How do you expect them to vote for you, when you will not honor their request? We can not vote to somebody who has proven himself to be a liar on this issue in the past.

  • 7 things you should not do with cloud-based storage.

  • It’s easy to judge people for seeing something horrible and not responding, but I think most of us have been there. We’ve been in that nail-biting state of being horribly distressed by what we saw, but unable to act in the moment–more afraid of making a fuss over nothing than about letting someone get away with something horrible. Sounds stupid when you spell it out. But it’s a real state that humans are really subject to, and saying “well, don’t do that” doesn’t fix it. …

    Next time you see something that seems wrong, but “oh my gosh maybe not really maybe I shouldn’t say anything I don’t know,” you don’t have to go right to the cops or the boss or run into the situation with your fists up. What you do have to do–this is a goddamn order–is tell someone about it. Someone as confused and powerless as you are. Just check in. “This seemed off to me, does it seem off to you?”

  • And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why “women should just stand up for themselves when guys are inappropriate,” while certainly not wrong, is not always simple.

  • Allow me to offer a suggestion. If you are privately communicating with someone for the first time, as a general rule, the best course of action is to be polite and to the point. This is particularly the case if the reason you’re communicating with that person is because you are hoping to get them to do something for you, i.e., you’re asking for the favor of their time and attention and even possibly their money. That is not a situation in which you want to risk the failure mode of clever.

  • This isn’t something you did to the Creeper, it’s something that he did to himself by acting badly and then not accepting the sweet gift of possible self-awareness that you tried to deliver. It’s not innocent, it’s not harmless, it’s not “shy dude nerdy cluelessness.” That’s especially hard to claim after you tell someone directly what they’re doing wrong and ask them to knock off specific behaviors, right? And yet…every goddamn time it comes up that maybe it’s not his fault because he just didn’t know better. NO. GET THE CLUE, ALREADY.

    [Trigger warning for discussion of serial sexual predators’ typical modus operandi. -L]

    tags: rape_culture

  • “The Bank of Canada purged the image of an Asian-looking woman from its new $100 banknotes after focus groups raised questions about her ethnicity…”

    Be­cause, you see, the way to give some­one a neu­tral eth­nic­i­ty is to make them look White. You might think that that’s not so neu­tral after all; you might even think that putting a white per­son on the bill does seem a bit like de­pict­ing a mem­ber of a par­tic­u­lar eth­nic group. But you’ve got to re­mem­ber that an eth­nic­i­ty is a so­cial mark­er, and white peo­ple aren’t so­cial­ly marked out from the back­ground.

    tags: racism

  • A really funny parody by Kate Lambert where gays can turn the rights denied them into cold hard cash. As she says:

    “Are you a citizen of the United States and a member of the LGBT community?Do you have civil liberties you can’t use? Did you know that due to your sexual orientation, you might have over a thousand federal benefits lying around collecting dust?…Now’s your chance to turn these denied rights into cash!”

    Lambert’s previous effort, How to Sponsor a Uterus is also highly recommended.

    tags: video parody

  • its like ‘butthurt’ except instead of implying that someone is a weenie for being upset by having been forced to take it up the butt against their will it implies that someone has been punching people unnecessarily and is now upset about it when its their own fault for punching people in the first place

    also it contains the word ‘chafe’ which automatically makes it superior to many, many other words

  • DAVID DUNNING: Baskerville seems to be the king of fonts. What I did is I pushed and pulled at the data and threw nasty criteria at it. But it is clear in the data that Baskerville is different from the other fonts in terms of the response it is soliciting. Now, it may seem small but it is impressive.

    ERROL MORRIS: I am completely surprised by this. If you asked me in advance, I would have guessed Georgia or Computer Modern, something that has the imprimatur of, I don’t know, truth – truthiness.

  • For a geeky chuckle: We’re NASA and We Know It, a space parody rap – the long-lost science brother of the literary Elements of Style rap.

    tags: video science

  • …the documentary Bukowski: Born Into This. The most in-depth exploration of Bukowski’s life yet committed to film, the movie “is valuable because it provides a face and a voice to go with the work,” wrote Roger Ebert in 2004. “Ten years have passed since Bukowski’s death, and he seems likely to last, if not forever, then longer than many of his contemporaries. He outsells Kerouac and Kesey, and his poems, it almost goes with saying, outsell any other modern poet on the shelf.” A wide range of Bukowski enthusiasts both expected and unexpected appear onscreen: Sean Penn, Tom Waits, Harry Dean Stanton, Black Sparrow Press publisher John Martin, filmmaker Taylor Hackford (director of the earlier documentary titled simply Bukowski), and Bono, to name but a few. “Excerpts are skillfully woven with the reminiscences of former drinking buddies, fellow writers and Bukowski’s second wife, Linda, the keeper of the flame, whom he married in 1985,” wrote Stephen Holden… “Without straining, the film makes a strong case for Bukowski as a major American poet whose work was a slashing rebuke to polite academic formalism.”

    tags: video biography poetry

  • Our second infographic in the Capital in the Capitol series explains why Super PACs are super powerful this presidential election, and tells you who really holds that power — 26 individuals.

    Some of their names have appeared here and there in the news, but their collective identities tell a more impressive tale. What do all of these people have in common? While a large pocket of Romney supporters seem to be financial tycoons, and another subset of Obama supporters are Hollywood elite, altogether what unites these folks is their wealth — and the shared belief that it can win an election.

    tags: plutocracy politics

  • This year’s national elections — for members of Congress and the president of the United States—may have relatively less to do with ideas, platforms, and policies than money. In fact, we’re sure of it. Due to Buckley v. Valeo and Citizens United v. FEC, national elections are now little more than auctions. The highest bidder wins. And the highest bidders are the biggest donors, the corporate moguls who deal with political candidates trolling for promises of political favors. One can almost hear the behind-the-scenes auctioneer: “Do I hear one favor for me and my industry? One, one? Okay, do I hear two? One bill, one regulatory sidestep? Two favors, will ya’ give me three?”

    Sadly, the nonprofit sector is handmaiden to this political auction, as 501(c)(4)s act as intermediaries between secret political donors and the so-called independent political committees through which a large portion of political donations will flow during this election cycle. A distinctive class of political donors loses in this dynamic: small donors. …

    Small donors may be part of the catechism of voter enthusiasm in political campaigns and grassroots commitment in charities, but in the political realm, enthusiasm doesn’t trump the need for money.

    …Although 2.5 million people have [each] made contributions of less than $200 to the two presidential campaigns during this election cycle, their combined contributions comprise only 18 percent of the money to the candidates’ various campaign committees. To put that in perspective, the top 0.07 percent of political donors gave more to the campaigns than the bottom 86 percent. For all of the $830 million raised for the presidential committees to date, “just 14 percent of the donors account for 82 percent of the total take.”

    tags: politics plutocracy

  • Cornell Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections features a significant archive on the history of hip hop, documenting its emergence in the Bronx in the 1970s and early 1980s.

    Cornell’s hip hop collection documents the origins and growth of hip hop culture through the preservation of its original artifacts. The collection includes the largest institutionally assembled collection of early hip hop recordings on vinyl (7,000 recordings and growing), sound files of early battles and live performances, the photographic archive of Bronx photographer Joe Conzo, Jr., several hundred 1970s and 1980s hip hop party and event flyers, including the working archive of noted flyer artist Buddy Esquire, the archive of Breakbeat Lenny, books, magazines, textiles and more.

    Building upon the Division’s substantial collections documenting 19th and 20th century American life, the hip hop archive is open to the public.

    …A small selection of photographs, original posters, performers, and more are available online. Much more coming soon.

  • Cornell University probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think about hip-hop, but it turns out the school’s library is home to the largest national archive of hip-hop culture. Not content to just be the home of “thousands of recordings, flyers, photographs, and other artifacts,” the school is upping its credibility by bringing one of hip-hop’s founding fathers, DJ Afrika Bambaataa, on board as a visiting scholar.

    …given Bambaataa’s extensive experience and activist worldview, he’s sure to drop some knowledge on the Cornell undergrads.

  • While EDMC’s policy may just seem like the shady shenanigans of one chain of schools, it’s not too hard to imagine that similar back-scratching textbook deals could happen — or might already be happening — at some of the nation’s public and private colleges and universities. If they’re allowed to go unchecked, more students could be forced to buy books they don’t need or learn from sub-par ones. As for Tracy, his students banded together and launched a Change.org petition demanding that the Art Institute of California-Orange County keep their beloved instructor on staff and give him the academic freedom he needs.

  • Conservation efforts, cleaner cars, our economic ennui, and solar and wind power all played a role. The big reason carbon dioxide is down, however, is that power plants are shifting from coal to natural gas, which has become incredibly cheap because we’ve been mining the hell out of the Marcellus shale. And while natural gas is better in terms of carbon dioxide emissions, the process we use to get it these days, fracking, can release other greenhouse gases such as methane and might also poison our water.

  • Open Source Ecology is a network of farmers, engineers, and supporters that for the last two years has been creating the Global Village Construction Set, an open source, low-cost, high performance technological platform that allows for the easy, DIY fabrication of the 50 different Industrial Machines that it takes to build a sustainable civilization with modern comforts. The GVCS lowers the barriers to entry into farming, building, and manufacturing and can be seen as a life-size lego-like set of modular tools that can create entire economies, whether in rural Missouri, where the project was founded, in urban redevelopment, or in the developing world.

    DEVELOPMENT TEAM:
    We are an open source venture and as such we facilitate the collaboration of hundreds of online volunteers. The Development Team Wiki page is Here. If you’re a project contributor and aren’t listed, please edit the page.

  • A baker’s oven, a backhoe, a well drilling rig. According to social entrepreneur Marcin Jakubowski, these are a few of the 50 machines essential for any society to sustain a modern, comfortable lifestyle.

    But these machines are not only essential, explains Leifur Thor, they’re also expensive, hard to repair and designed to be obsolete in a few years. Thor volunteers with Open Source Ecology, a non-profit Jakubowski founded to develop the Global Village Construction Set. The set will comprise durable, modular machines that people can build and maintain themselves with sustainable, locally available materials—often scrap metal. OSE will give the plans away to anyone who wants them. The money a farmer would have sent to a large corporation to buy a hay cutter will stay in the community. The environmental impact of shipping heavy equipment long distances will disappear. These machines are designed to cost roughly a fifth of what factory-produced models do.

    “We’re obsessed with the idea that whatever we’re creating is going to have the maximum benefit, for the lowest cost, for the longest time,” says Thor.

  • In the years following World War II, we built a solid middle class on the foundation of high-paying, mostly unionized jobs in the manufacturing sector. But those days are history. Today, automation and computers have eliminated millions of jobs, and private-sector unions have been crushed. On top of that, in a globalized economy where capital can hire the cheapest labor anywhere, it’s no longer credible to believe that America’s middle class can prosper from labor income alone.

    So why don’t we pay everyone some non-labor income — you know, the kind of money that flows disproportionally to the rich? I’m not talking about redistribution here, I’m talking about paying dividends to equity owners in good old capitalist fashion. Except that the equity owners in question aren’t owners of private wealth, they’re owners of common wealth. Which is to say, all of us.

    One state — Alaska — already does this. The Alaska Permanent Fund uses revenue from state oil leases to invest in stocks, bonds and similar assets, and from those investments pays equal dividends to every resident. Since 1980, these dividends have ranged from $1,000 to $2,000 per year per person, including children (meaning that they’ve reached up to $8,000 per year for households of four). It’s therefore no accident that, compared to other states, Alaska has the third highest median income and the second highest income equality.

    Alaska’s model can be extended to any state or nation, whether or not they have oil. …

    [Several paragraphs describing various possible revenue sources. -L]

    Regardless of its revenue sources, the mechanics of an American Permanent Fund would be simple. Every U.S. resident with a valid Social Security number would be eligible to open a Shared Wealth Account at a bank or brokerage firm; dividends would then be wired to their accounts monthly. There’d be no means test — and no shame — attached to these earnings, as there are to welfare. Nor would there be any hint of class warfare — Bill Gates would get his dividends along with everyone else. And since the revenue would come from common wealth, there’d be no need to raise taxes or cut government spending. …

    How large should dividends be? The amounts paid would vary from year to year just as corporate dividends do. But the system should be designed so that dividends supplement rather than replace labor income.

  • Bats are mammals, shy creatures of the night, and fascinating to watch. They’re also endangered by loss of habitat, disease, and pesticide poisoning. You can help by providing protection.
    by Heidi Bruce, Shannan Stoll
    posted Jul 17, 2012

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Of interest (Aug 16-17)

  • Back in February, the folks at Automattic released a fresh new starter theme for the WordPress community, lovingly titled _s.

    _s was designed to pave the way forward for some great new themes, but getting started was a bit of pain. Enter the new site for the _s starter theme, Underscores.me. Underscores.me not only tells you why you should consider using _s to build you next great theme, it also provides a super-simple way to download your own copy, complete with your new theme’s name, slug, author, author URL, and description already set!

    tags: wordpress

  • The US Department of Justice approved a sale of unused wireless spectrum to Verizon today, marking one of the largest spectrum sales to a single corporate entity in history.

    …back in the old spectrum heydays of, uh, four very long years ago, those megahertz were a lot cheaper. In fact, $1.3 billion cheaper. …

    While Verizon’s continued aggregation of wireless airspace probably means ever faster, more complete coverage for customers, it also highlights a growing problem with the wireless industry in the US: a decided lack of competition. Until the US government begins freeing up more of its often very inefficiently or non-utilized spectrum, this problem is only going to get worse.

  • Chrome: If you’d like a cleaner look to some of the web sites you visit, Page Eraser will neatly and smoothly get rid of obtrusive ads, annoying sidebars, and other page elements with just two clicks of your mouse.

    The idea isn’t anything new — after all, Adblock extensions have been doing this for years — but Page Eraser is so easy and quick to use that it brings ad blocking to a whole new level.

  • In 1996 Baltimore launched the nation’s first 311 number, a single non-emergency number that residents can call to complain, ask advice, or request service. The number now receives 1 million calls a year. New York City 311, activated in 2003, receives 20 million calls a year on a remarkable range of issues. …

    Despite the cost, and shrinking budgets, cities don’t appear to be slowing their embrace of 311.

    So why do big businesses all but ignore customer service? Because the profits of Facebook and Google and Humana do not depend on providing high quality customer service. In fact, some keen observers of the giant companies that have come to dominate the private sector conclude that good customer service actually hurts the bottom line.

  • America is NOT broke, America is Being Robbed.

  • …a new study finds that the average cost of day care in 35 states and the District of Columbia is now higher than the price of in-state tuition at a four-year college. …

    “Families need child care in order to work,” said Ollie M. Smith, Child Care Aware of America’s Interim Executive Director. “But, child care today is simply unaffordable for too many families. This is not a low income issue. Families at nearly every income — except for the very wealthy — struggle with the cost of child care.”

    [And what do many families come up with as the answer? Have the lower-income parent–usually the mother–stay home with the kids. On an individual level, it’s the logical choice. But when everyone’s doing it, what you’re looking at is the continued economic and political disenfranchisement of women via economic pressure. -L]

  • After spending more than a year trying to get someone interested in her son’s story, Karen Corby is now finding the media attention coming fast and furious. In June of 2011, Karen received a letter from Penn Medicine regarding her 23-year-old son Paul. The letter stated that Penn Medicine, which is part of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, was not putting Paul on the heart transplant list.

    One of the reasons listed for the denial is Paul’s autism. …

    Paul’s records have been sent to the Mayo Clinic for a second opinion, and Karen is also in the process of scheduling a consult with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

  • The SPLC responds: “The SPLC has listed the FRC as a hate group since 2010 because it has knowingly spread false and denigrating propaganda about LGBT people — not, as some claim, because it opposes same-sex marriage. The FRC and its allies on the religious right are saying, in effect, that offering legitimate and fact-based criticism in a democratic society is tantamount to suggesting that the objects of criticism should be the targets of criminal violence.”

  • tags: video doctorwho pop_culture

  • [What could possibly go wrong? -L]

    tags: robots technology

  • It wasn’t that long ago that I noted here that Austin, Texas, was rolling out a program called “Parking Mobility” that I thought “seem[ed] like a surefire way for some do-gooder citizen to get his or her butt kicked.” Parking Mobility essentially deputizes Austinites into being vigilante meter maids who can turn each other in using an iPhone app.

    Now, California is getting in on the fun of turning its residents against one another through its “CHEATERS” program.

  • He voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. This isn’t a controversial issue, y’all. It simply protects women from being denied equal pay for equal work. …

    He is the anti-choice poster boy. Ryan would overturn Roe v. Wade, banning abortion in cases of rape and incest and when the mother’s life is at risk. …

    He’s consistently against LGBT rights. Ryan has voted against gay couples adopting, against marriage equality, and voted no to repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

  • The VP candidate pushed an anti-abortion bill that would outlaw IVF — which Mitt Romney’s children used.

  • The Affordable Care Act requires cumbersome administrative procedures that will limit coverage of abortion in the new health care exchanges. In fact legislators in several states have already passed legislation prohibiting plans in their state exchanges from covering abortion care. And while the ACA will eventually expand the numbers of people eligible for Medicaid coverage — that coverage will not include abortion. So while more low-income Latinas will have access to health care, if the health care they need is a safe, legal abortion procedure, they are not covered.

    …Since the passage of the Hyde Amendment in 1976, Congress has withheld health care assistance for abortion, even when a woman is eligible for government-funded health insurance. In fact, the first woman to die of an unsafe illegal abortion after Roe v. Wade was a Latina, Rosie Jimenez, who couldn’t afford an abortion and couldn’t get coverage from Medicaid. …

  • Though few schools have policies as blatantly illegal as the charter school in Delhi, both Bardwell and Greene say that they frequently interact with administrators who are not fully versed on what they are required to provide for pregnant students under the law let alone on best practices in helping these young women. Bardwell said that Title IX is often thought of as being just about sports and many educators don’t even realize that it applies to this area as well. Greene adds that administrators may be in violation of the law in little ways without even knowing it; she pointed to cases where pregnant students were denied the key to the elevator or a desk and chair that were not attached even though such accommodations are readily made for students who, say, break a leg.

    Greene says schools need to be reminded of their responsibilities toward pregnant and parenting teens and should have policies in place to deal with their needs so that administrators know, for example, when home tutoring kicks in, what documentation a young women needs to receive such tutoring, or how a young father can apply for paternity leave so he can be home without penalty for the first couple of weeks after the birth. Toward that end her organization has created a document that includes a model policy for dealing with both expectant and parenting students.

    …communities with policies that don’t help teens continue their education after they have a child are shooting themselves in the foot because these teens are then less likely to graduate from high school and more likely to end up on public assistance.

  • …the new World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines on abortion policy and standards of care.

    …make it painfully clear that, nearly 40 years after Roe v. Wade, we’re doing everything wrong here. Whether it’s gestational limits, ultrasounds, counseling or human rights, nearly every policy proposed by anti-abortion legislators directly contradicts the new WHO guidelines, which are based on years of consultation and discussion, incorporating scientific evidence and international human rights standards.

    …perhaps the most striking thing is that WHO, in consultation with U.N. bodies and health experts, has determined that access to safe legal abortion is a matter of human rights. And the new document says further that, “In circumstances where abortion is not against the law, health systems should train and equip health-service providers, and should take other measures to ensure that such abortion is safe and accessible.” …

    In our work, my colleagues see the impact of restrictive laws every day in emergency rooms around the world. In this country, women have been arrested because they have seen no other option than to try to end their pregnancies outside of the restrictive legal setting. How far are we willing to go, against the advice of the world’s doctor, before we start fulfilling our duty to women?

  • Tennessee women’s health clinic Volunteer Women’s Medical Clinic in Knoxville has become the latest victim of a TRAP law requiring doctors who provide abortions to be both board-certified OB-GYNs and have hospital admitting privileges. It is the same type of bill that nearly closed Jackson Women’s Health Organization in Mississippi.

    Although the clinic was able to have one of its providers reinstate his privileges, writes Deb Walsh, the owner of the clinic, that doctor sadly died short afterwards, leaving the clinic unable to assist women while trying to challenge the law in court.

  • Womens’ rights have made modest but encouraging gains over the past decade. But these could disappear without a strong commitment to preserve and advance them from Afghan leaders, Washington and other international partners. …

    President Hamid Karzai’s record on women’s rights is less than encouraging. While he has pardoned women accused of moral crimes, he has failed to vigorously enforce the violence against women law. In March, he signed off on a decree from the country’s highest religious council stating that women were secondary to men. With his government and the United States exploring peace talks with the Taliban, many activists worry that women’s interests will be sacrificed as part of a strategic deal.

  • For the first fifty years of his life, New Yorker Jay Kallio had no problem getting the healthcare he needed. A volunteer EMT since age 15, he knew the medical community inside and out. When he came out as transgender and transitioned at age 50, though, his experience with doctors and nurses changed wildly — and almost cost him his life.

    “I have this very stark before and after experience,” says Kallio. “It’s totally different being a transgender person trying to access care.”

    At age 53, Kallio found a lump in his chest. After a biopsy, his doctor diagnosed him with aggressive, necrotic breast cancer. But no one contacted Kallio to tell him this diagnosis. Kallio found out “virtually by accident,” when his radiologist called to ask him how he was coping. “I said ‘What diagnosis?’”

    …The transgender community is plagued by epidemic levels of workplace discrimination, which contributes to widespread unemployment among transgender people. That has long put employer-based coverage out of reach for many transgender people. The few who could afford it sought coverage in the individual insurance market, which was frequently a dead end, since many plans considered trans identity to be a pre-existing condition disqualifying them from coverage. If unemployed trans people looked to government programs like Medicaid to access healthcare, they often learned that they were ineligible (low-income adults without children or disabilities are rarely eligible for Medicaid).

    Those who could get on a policy often struggled to obtain coverage for their care… Most plans refuse to cover “transition-related care,” which one might assume includes counseling, hormones and surgeries. However, insurers have saved on their bottom lines by categorizing any treatment transgender patients receive as transition-related, from estrogen pills down to antibiotics …

    Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, cited a trans woman who broke her arm playing softball. She was insured through an employer plan so assumed that her hospital services would be covered. When she received her bill in the mail, however, she learned the company refused to pay for the treatment: since she obtained the injury playing in an LGBT softball league, they reasoned, the injury was “transition-related.” …

    In 2014, the Patient’s Bill of Rights will prevent insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. What’s more, the ACA will bring Title VII federal nondiscrimination protections to the healthcare field. …

    The most important piece of the ACA for transgender people might also be the most contentious: the Medicaid expansion. Extending Medicaid eligibility to all people under 133 percent of the federal poverty level (around $14,000 per year for a single person) is great news for transgender people, who are four times as likely as the general population to live on less than $10,000 per year but are routinely ineligible for Medicaid.

  • At the center of Teilborg’s refusal to enjoin Arizona’s 20-week gestation abortion ban is the precedent set by Planned Parenthood v. Casey and its progeny. In that case, Justice Anthony Kennedy ruled that a state has a right to limit all abortions prior to viability, as long as restrictions did not present an “undue burden” for a woman seeking to terminate a pregnancy. What exactly constitutes an undue burden? Well, that’s an endless definition that no court has yet seemed to find. …

    Since the number of abortions between 20 weeks-to-viability are small, Teilborg reasoned, then any “ban” that happens as a result of HB 2036 is constitutional by virtue of the fact that only a small number of women’s lives will be adversely afected by the law.

    Besides, if they didn’t want to have a baby, Teilborg argued, they should just get an abortion before the time limit. …

    What Teilborg fails to recognize is that many of the women affected are those who have wanted pregnancies. These women may be carrying a non-viable fetus that will not survive either pregnancy or childbirth or a fetus with a terminal condition destined to die in agony shortly after birth…

    “The substantial majority of our patients to who seek terminations at 20 weeks or greater do so because they have received a diagnosis of a severe fetal anomaly during the course of a wanted pregnancy… most of these patients will be past 20 weeks before the fetal abnormality will even be diagnosed. …”

    Being forced to carry a pregnancy to term for any reason, especially as far right legislatures erect an increasing number of obstacles even to very early abortion, is an undue burden on a woman’s life. But for women facing medical conditions, being forced to carry a medically dangerous or unviable pregnancy clearly is an undue burden by posing immediate risks to their health and lives. However, since they are being considered not on their own, but as a fraction of all women who terminate a pregnancy, Teilborg rules that they aren’t a large enough section of the population to reject the law as a whole. …

    Inherently, Teilborg is using his position to declare that all terminations are “wrong,” so if a woman is going to make the “wrong” decision she has plenty of time to do so …

    Teilborg’s ruling isn’t just radical for its rejection of the traditional legal line of viability, but in its obvious interest in setting the discredited argument of “fetal pain” as a public interest. Despite findings by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and a systematic review in the Journals of the American Medical Association stating fetuses are incapable of feeling pain in the womb at 20 weeks, Teilborg has ruled that the state provided “substantial and well-documented” evidence to claim otherwise. By then using the much refuted science as a basis for his decision, the judge allows that “evidence” to be given the same weight as actual medical science, while also setting a precedent for a judgment down the road for alleged “fetal pain” as a new line of legal interest and protection. It is a line that anti-choice supporters are eager to see created, intending later to offer more “scientific proof” that pain can be felt even earlier, and abortion outlawed even earlier.

  • Reproductively speaking, the facts of Mississippi are: high teen and unintended pregnancy rates, high infant mortality, high maternal mortality, and astronomical poverty, accompanied by abortion access barriers of mandatory waiting periods, parental notification laws, biased state-mandated counseling, public scorn, and extremely aggressive protesters. These realities confront every woman in the state with an undesired pregnancy, or a wanted-but fatally flawed one. Their need for safe, compassionate, medical care, in this instance abortion, calls compellingly to anyone who would listen. We know world-wide that when abortion is legal and accessible, women remain healthy, and when it is not they die, often in populations with profiles similar to what I describe for Mississippi. Cognizant of this, I recently obtained a medical license and began travel to this great state to provide care. …

    In an oversimplification of the decisions facing the women that I saw, those opposed to abortion often opine that “women can simply place a baby that they don’t want for adoption”. I submit that for Black women that decision is more complex. The foster care system in this country is filled with Black babies that no one adopts, 80% of children in foster care being African American. For black women the decision to continue an unplanned pregnancy becomes one of bearing a child and struggling to meet its basic needs, or to not bring it into the world at all, as opposed to having a baby to be placed in a system where no one wants it, the few high profile trans-racial adoptions by celebrities non-withstanding. …

    In closing, to the question of why I go to Mississippi, the answer is, I want for women there what I want for myself: a life of dignity, health, self-determination, and the opportunity to excel and contribute. We know that when women have access to abortion, contraception, and medically accurate sex education, they thrive. It should be no different for the women of Mississippi.

  • A power struggle on the Louisiana Supreme Court is headed to federal court this week. Lawyers are seeking to reopen an old voting rights case that gave the Deep South state its first black Supreme Court justice. What’s at stake in the racially charged fight is whether Louisiana will now have its first African-American chief justice.

    Justice Bernette Johnson joined the Louisiana Supreme Court in 1994, elected to a special seat created to remedy racial disparities in Louisiana’s justice system. Now, she’s the lone black Supreme Court justice in a state where nearly one-third of residents are black.

    Johnson thought she was next in line on the seven-member panel to be chief justice, based on seniority. But some of her colleagues say that’s not the case. …

    “I can’t say whether it’s racism or not,” [her lawyer] says. “I will say this: I do not think that this would be happening to Justice Johnson if she were not African-American.”

    Johnson has sued, asking a federal court to affirm that she was a full Supreme Court justice even though her original seat was created by settlement of a federal voting rights lawsuit. …

    Johnson argues that the court has no authority to select the next chief justice because the state constitution specifies that the judge with the longest service would automatically fill that position. And she has been on the court longer than anyone other than Kimball. …

    “It’s puzzling, it’s troubling, but it’s also a reason why we still need a Voting Rights Act. It’s another example of Louisiana somehow reaching back into the past to play political games,” [former New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial] says.

  • Egypt’s Islamist president has given himself the right to legislate and control over the drafting of a new constitution. He has installed at the top of the powerful military a defense minister likely to be beholden to him.

    Under Mohammed Morsi’s authority, officials have moved to silence influential critics in the media. And though a civilian, he declared himself in charge of military operations against militants in the Sinai peninsula.

  • Romney’s “Etch A Sketch” candidacy — with his reinvention from a Massachusetts moderate to ultraconservative presidential candidate — is still plagued by accusations of flip-flopping and pandering. This required him to choose a running mate with unquestionable credibility.

    Enter Paul Ryan.

    … From the outside, Ryan’s roots appeal directly to the base whose support Romney desperately needs to win, namely working-class whites. And this is the story Republicans have already begun to tell. …

    Except that Ryan actually has far more in common with George W. Bush and Willard Romney than he does with the unemployed steelworkers in Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Paul Ryan comes from a storied family, with wealth and history to boot.

    …President Obama’s success in the 2008 election highlighted how formidable race and ethnicity are in predicting voting outcomes. He won 95 percent of black voters, 67 percent of Latinos and healthy percentages of college-educated whites … The GOP’s reliance on the white working class alone became no longer viable.

    Instead of expanding their party’s membership by including minorities and young voters, Republicans chose to double-down, reinforcing its image as a white-male-dominated franchise. The original thinking, it appears, was that by using coded messages questioning Obama’s nationality and religion, the GOP could lead white voters — regardless of socioeconomic status — to distrust the president. …

    But dig a little deeper and Ryan — just like Romney — doesn’t measure up. …

    Romney has largely been [depicted] as a wealthy tycoon, out of touch with the average voter. Paul Ryan, however, is an apple not far from the same tree. He decries reliance on the state, but his biography shows that he benefits hugely from the hard work of others. He collects a salary — with health benefits — from the very government that he claims should be smaller, and he opposes “Obamacare,” which offers Americans the benefits that Ryan and his family already enjoy.

    This is where the hypocritical meets the unforgivable.

  • The Obama administration has filed a brief in support of the University of Texas’ admissions policy, which allows race to be one of many factors considered. The university is facing a legal challenge from Abigail Fisher, a white student who blames the school’s consideration of race for her failure to gain admission. …

    Polls show that a majority of Americans now actually oppose affirmative action, and only 24 percent support its use in college admissions, which makes the administration’s move, particularly in an election year, risky. But it’s worth noting that these polls may not tell the whole story. A question remains whether most Americans know what “affirmative action” actually means. For instance, when the Washington Post asked for Romney’s position on affirmative action, his campaign provided this reply in 2008: “I do not support quotas in hiring, government contracting, school admissions or the like. I believe our nation is at its best when people are evaluated as individuals.” He went on to note that he does consider diversity a worthwhile goal.

    However, it should be noted that the question did not ask about “quotas,” which are defined as “the number or percentage of persons of a specified kind permitted to enroll in a college, join a club, immigrate to a country, etc.” Racial quotas are illegal, thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision in the Bakke case more than 30 years ago, something I can’t imagine a presidential campaign being unaware of.

    But focusing on quotas keeps voters distracted from the complicated realities of race in America and how affirmative action plays a role in efforts (not always succeeding, but at least trying) to build a better future and make peace with our past.

  • While the fight plays out over a Mississippi law (HB 1390) that adds new restrictions on abortion providers, abortion-right opponents are pushing similar measures in other states that have only one surgical abortion provider…

    …[anti-abortion activists] in those states hope to bring about “the first abortion-free state where abortion is legal but it’s simply not available.”

  • The defense of a 2005 South Dakota abortion law has cost taxpayers $377,735, according to the state Attorney General’s Office…

  • California could become the first state in the nation to require that public agencies provide their records in searchable formats, such as Excel or Word.

    A bill making its way through the Legislature would establish an open data standard, requiring agencies to buy software that offers data in searchable formats when replacing existing technology. Agencies would also have to use these formats when posting data online or responding to requests for public records.

    Currently, many agencies provide information in image files that are not searchable even though they also store that data in more easily searchable formats.

    [Wait, why would they be required to BUY software when there are searchable open formats? -L]

  • As film audiences look forward to a Whitney Houston and Jordin Sparks-led remake of 1976’s Sparkle hitting theaters on Aug. 17, we’ve taken the opportunity to look back at some of the other memorable black movie musicals. (We decided not to include straightforward biopics like Ray or Bird.) From the glitzy big numbers performed by black Hollywood icons like Lena Horne to hip-hop club anthems rapped by Run-DMC and Outkast, there’s a long and varied tradition that makes you wonder why there aren’t more black musicals made every year.

  • San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr acknowledged Wednesday his department has routinely underreported the arrests of Latinos and Asians, the two largest minority groups in the city.

    The department has been classifying Latino arrestees as “White” and Asian arrestees as “Other” for at least a decade, a Bay Citizen investigation found. The misclassifications have inflated the department’s arrest rate for whites and heightened civil rights groups’ concerns about racial profiling.

  • Three Bay Area attorneys, John Burris, Matthew Kumin and Patrick Goggin, have teamed up to file suit against Chevron for gross negligence in the aftermath of last week’s fire that sent more than 9,000 people to the emergency room.

  • “Here’s my view and this is what I’ve been saying around the occasion of my twenty-fifth anniversary. Incrementalism is not working for us. At this rate, we’ll parity with men in Congress 200 years from now,” which is unacceptable. “We have to create a different environment. We have been playing on their turf, their political system. If you reduce the role of money and you increase civility, you will increase the number of women elected to public office. The more that money weighs in and the more the poisonous debate takes place, well …it’s an important time for women to say, ‘let us make our own environment.’ It doesn’t mean women are better than men; it absolutely means the mix is better.”

    …“I want to attract more younger women to run. I got here in my middle 40s, when my children were grown except for one still in high school. But women should be coming when men are coming, which would be like early 30s… They’re here ten years. They’ve established standing on issues, seniority in committees, and they’re much better positioned to take the leadership in the Congress.”

  • LCWR is not a social justice organization. It is the professional membership organization of “Roman Catholic women religious who are the principal administrators of their religious institutes (orders) in the United States.” It’s a good group; it cares about poverty, the environment, peace, non violence, but it has no expressed interest in fostering democracy in the church or promoting the moral agency of women, or at least had none until it was attacked.

  • In 2007, six University of California employees made $1 million. In 2011, 22 pulled down that much …

    University officials’ paychecks have become a sensitive topic in an era of rising costs and budget cuts. At UC San Diego, for instance, budget cuts meant that the school’s library had to remove 150,000 books last year.

  • Here’s what we know: Chavis Carter, a 21-year-old black man, was shot in the head while handcuffed in the back of a Jonesboro, Ark., police car, and later pronounced dead at the hospital. …

    Case closed? Yeah, we didn’t think so, either. (First of all, Carter’s mom has said he was left-handed, and this video depicts a shooting with the right hand to the right side of the head.)

  • …knowing that you are perceived as the enemy of your own nation can turn a key in your heart, shutting off empathy because none has been given you in return.

    The class warfare of the Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan campaign seems designed to exacerbate an us-versus-them mentality that will spark in some voters an easy willingness to turn political code into racial code.

    Romney, for example, chides President Obama for fostering a “culture of dependency.” Why does no one talk about the culture of dependency when speaking of the much larger individual goodies doled out to wealthy taxpayers who can deduct (let’s take Romney’s family as an example) $70,000 for a dressage horse and end up paying a 13.9 percent tax rate? What about the culture of dependency when it comes to farm subsidies, or business tax breaks that leave massive companies — including Pepco, DuPont, Navstar and Corning — paying no (or even negative) taxes?

    The culture of dependency is contextualized around one group of people: lower-income Americans. And it’s overlaid with racial subtext, based on years of the Southern strategy-meets-political urban warfare. It saddens me to see it, and saddens me even more to know that this is just the beginning of a run-up to Election Day during which more attacks will target low-income Americans and use race as a backdrop (though, speaking factually, more white Americans get government assistance than blacks).

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Of interest (Aug 13-16)

  • A 29-point gap among single lady voters means they lean Democratic but are “up for grabs”? Really? It’s kinda sorta looking like maybe the lady voters have a slight preference for Obama, but, hey, you know how “fickle” chicks can be, always changing their shoes and changing their minds about whom they most trust to be their president.

  • Edward Charles Pickering (1846-1919), director of Harvard Observatory, was of the opinion that women were better data processors than men (he found that his maid did a better job than the men he had hired previously), and so he hired promising women (at 25 cents an hour – less than secretarial wages at the time) to staff his research team (they were also cheaper than men!) These were known (probably derisively) as “Pickering’s women” or “Pickering’s harem,” or more respectfully the “computers,” by the scientific community, but the amount of data crunched by these dedicated researchers soon made an indellable mark in the study of stellar astronomy. One of the most famous of “Pickering’s women” was Annie Jump Cannon, who was eventually appointed to an official astronomy position at Harvard just before she died in April of 1941. …

    tags: women_in_stem_fields

  • So the real swing states, the ones that are almost certainly going to determine the election, are: Florida, New Hampshire, Virginia, Ohio, Iowa, Colorado, and Nevada. But this still doesn’t really tell us a whole lot. …

  • I here now repeat the accusation I made on Saturday, August 11, 2012, specifically: that Paul Ryan received advanced knowledge of the coming banking disaster and he traded on that knowledge before it became public in the hopes of improving his financial position. Whether or not he succeeded in enhancing his financial position as a result of these trades is–to me–irrelevant. The fact is, in a tight spot for the country, Paul Ryan thought of himself first, which is precisely what his philosophical role model Ayn Rand would have wanted him to do.

    It must be stated that at the time Paul Ryan carried out those trades they were completely legal–even ethical by the very low standards of Congress. …

    The coverup is now the real story, and credit for figuring out that the Romney/Ryan people were lying to Benjy Sarlin goes to Brad DeLong and Lynn Parramore. [link and link] …

    I also want to reiterate that the real credit for this story should go to the good people at OpenSecrets.org who originally posted Ryan’s financial report online where I could find it: without their hard and often thankless work there would have been nothing for me to find. …

    Let me leave you with this final thought: I found this story by looking at Paul Ryan’s Wikipedia profile (don’t bother looking for it now because the Romney/Ryan folks have since completely sanitized Ryan’s entry there). There was a reference to potential insider trading on September 18, 2008 and all I had to do was following the footnote link to OpenSecrets.org–it really was as simple as all that. The presence of such damaging material on Ryan Wikipedia profile nearly six hours after his selection as VP begs the question: was Paul Ryan properly vetted by the Romney campaign, or do we have another Sarah Palin situation on our hands?

  • This past Saturday, The Richmonder posted a fascinating story providing evidence of possible insider trading by Willard Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, just prior to the 2008 stock market crash. …

    The supposed “debunking” was based on one key fact, that “the meeting with Bernanke took place in the evening after trading hours, meaning Ryan wouldn’t have had time to execute the move if he wanted to.”

    …Except now it’s apparently un-“debunked,” thanks to great work by Lynn Parramore of AlterNET: …

  • It looks like Bill & Ted 3 is moving forward with Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter reprising their roles, with some newfound directorial assistance from Dean Parisot, best known for his work on Galaxy Quest.

    …the new script will follow Bill and Ted in their 40s, courtesy of the original screenwriters Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon.

    tags: pop_culture movies

  • During a conference call with analysts last week, Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter (pictured) said that Obamacare would raise the price of a pizza somewhere between $0.11 to $0.14.

  • Returning home from work Wednesday evening, area woman Caitlin Levy suddenly realized that, quite unusually, she had not been harassed or propositioned for sex even once the entire day, the puzzled 28-year-old told reporters.

    Noting that she had experienced a lingering sense of ease and safety all day long that “just felt off,” the paralegal told reporters that, strange as it may sound, she somehow could not recall one single instance from the past 10 hours in which she had been gawked at, hit on repeatedly, or otherwise leered at by a male as she conducted her daily routine. …

    “Maybe I’m just living in an alternate universe,” she said after returning with a look of utter bewilderment. “An alternate universe where I don’t want to crawl into a hole 35 times per day.”

    tags: satire

  • For 40 years, the indigenous Nasa tribe has watched hundreds of its people die in the crossfire between the Colombian government and leftist guerrillas. And now, they’ve had enough.

    The FARC (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), Latin America’s longest-standing rebel group, has been locked in a bloody war with the Colombian government since 1964. FARC claims to fight for the rural marginalized masses and promotes social revolution throughout the country. …

    Fed up with enduring decades of bloodshed, the indigenous community of 115,000 in Colombia’s southwest Cauca department has launched a peaceful fight to get war off its land. The community has organized a series of sizable protests, including overtaking a military base, to drive all armed actors out of the region.

  • Going back to Romney’s claims about productivity, we seem to be forgetting that there are some goods that the private sector won’t produce at all due to market failures (e.g., the classic example is national defense). In those cases, the government is clearly more efficient than the private sector. The government may not be maximally efficient — and there may be ways to improve upon that — but it’s certainly better than relying upon a private sector that won’t produce the goods in anywhere near sufficient quantities, if they get produced at all.

  • Do you think Republicans would set aside their political desires in order to help working class households with the struggles they face because of the recession? If so, then think again: …

  • There was a tinge of scandal to Estes’s reporting. “Cash WinFall isn’t being played as a game of chance,” she quoted Mohan Srivastava as saying. “Some smart people have figured out how to get rich while everyone else funds their winnings.’’ And a few days after her story appeared, the Boston Globe ran an editorial under the headline “Lottery game is fatally flawed; treasurer should shut it down”. The argument? In any lottery game, according to the paper, “the odds should be stacked equally against rich and poor”. And eventually, earlier this year, Cash WinFall was indeed phased out.

    Now Gregory Sullivan, the state inspector general, has written a 25-page report on the Cash WinFall game, which is well worth reading… those “flaws” ended up being very profitable for the state, and were a way for Massachusetts to get significant lottery revenues not only from the poor but also from the rich.

    …the more professional consortiums there were playing Cash WinFall, the more money the lottery made. What’s more, the biggest problem with most lotteries is that they act as a highly-regressive tax on the poor. In this case, however, Cash WinFall was also a 40% tax on the rich professional bettors who played only during roll-down weeks. (And of course those bettors had to pay income tax on their winnings, as well.)

  • Employees of some of the nation’s biggest banks have reportedly been stealing customers’ identities in multimillion dollar fraud schemes.

    A federal judge in Minneapolis on Monday sentenced two claimed leaders of a $50 million bank fraud conspiracy to well over 20 years in prison…

  • Now, what you can quite easily find are examples of people who used to be Republicans, or even still consider themselves Republicans, saying reasonable things — say, Bruce Bartlett or David Frum. But the very fact that they’re reasonable has led to their excommunication from the movement!

  • Romney believes — or at least wants you to believe — that he and Paul Ryan can balance the budget while cutting taxes on the rich, increasing defense spending, and increasing Medicare spending, all without raising taxes on the middle class. Anyone with common sense and a calculator knows such a plan is silly, but Romney says he can pay for his multi-trillion-dollar plan through ending various tax deductions and cutting spending.

    Which tax deductions? Romney and Ryan refuse to say …maybe after voters elect him, Romney will tell voters what he’ll do. …

    In Grown-Up Land, destroying the Affordable Care Act would make the deficit significantly worse, not better — Obamacare saves the country hundreds of billions of dollars — making this part of the plan particularly incoherent. …

    Looking at a deficit of a trillion dollars, the Republican [candidate] has a plan to make the budget shortfall significantly worse, then make it ever-so-slightly “better” by nibbling around the edges.

  • It’s been 18 months since the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC), the bipartisan group charged by Congress with discovering the causes of the 2008 financial meltdown, released its final report (PDF). At the time, the commissioners promised that many of the documents the FCIC gathered during its investigation — including testimony from bank officials and internal bank emails and memos — would “eventually be made public.” But the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), which holds the documents, has so far refused to release many of them, saying that it has put a five-year restriction on their release. “Eventually,” it turns out, means half a decade.

    Cause of Action, a Washington transparency watchdog that filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking the FCIC documents last year, thinks the American public should not have to wait that long. …

  • A security guard was shot in an attack Wednesday morning at the Family Research Council building in Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown.

    The incident occurred at 10:45 a.m. in the building’s lobby. A male suspect was taken into custody without injury and the security guard is in stable condition, according to Metropolitan Police Department spokesman Araz Alali.

    The department declined to comment further on what precipitated the shooting. …

  • Long, Unnecessary Objective Statements
    Unwanted Personal Details
    Every Single Job You’ve Ever Had
    Long Lists of Irrelevant “Special Skills”
    “References Available Upon Request”
    Lies
    Optional: Jobs You’ve Been Fired (Not Laid Off) From

  • Monitor Your Computer for Running Tasks or Unauthorized Access
    Securely Share Files, from Saucy Pics to Paperwork
    Manage Your BitTorrent Downloads
    Quickly Install Android Apps and ROMs
    Print Documents to Your Home Printer from Any Computer
    Host a Web Site or Start Page for Your Browser
    Create Your Own Cloud-Based Music Library
    Launch Applications and Run Commands on Your Home Computer
    Convert, Share, and Automate Your Files
    Keep the Same Apps, Settings, and Passwords on All Your PCs

  • The takeaway is that if you suspect someone of lying, start paying attention to their actions immediately. It’s easy to start thinking someone is lying well into a conversation, but it’s a little tougher to detect a lie once they’re into their story.

  • How to Use This Guide: Everyone’s laptop is different, and the process for opening it up isn’t the same for everyone. This guide is a starting point, demonstrating solutions to common problems along with the ease or difficulty of those fixes. For the purpose of demonstration, I’m refurbishing a 2007 white MacBook, but most of these processes should work with any laptop—Mac, Windows, or otherwise.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Of interest (Aug 7-10)

  • While much of the country is finally cooling down after weeks of grueling heat, for the nearly one-tenth of Americans who live in Southern California, summer is just starting to get real. …

    The heat may pale in comparison to the weather that’s punished the rest of the country all summer long, but the bigger problem is that SoCal’s creaky and overextended power grid is struggling under the strain of so many air-conditioing units. …

    While it’s important to get people to think about their consumption …the approach that the state adopts couldn’t be any more of a bummer. …

    Apparently the official vision of how people should react to a hot summer afternoon is by holing up in their dark, barely cooled off home, with no computer and or enough beverages to get them through the day.

    …In honor of a brutally hot, Friday afternoon, here’s a simple list of fun ways to cool off that we wish local government and energy companies would promote instead of their boring, hermetic approach.

    * Organize an office happy hour. …Maybe you don’t drink, maybe you’re tired: go to the coffee shop instead.
    * If you feel like being at home, invite your friends over. Organize a “cool off party.” …
    * Go to the movies. It’s always freezing at the movies. Hate the movies? Run your errands instead. …
    * Go to the beach (or public pool).

  • [From the “About” page]

    The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) is a network of 70 affiliated professors around the world who are united by their use of Randomized Evaluations (REs) to answer questions critical to poverty alleviation. J-PAL’s mission is to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is based on scientific evidence. J-PAL works to achieve this by:

    Conducting Rigorous Impact Evaluations- J-PAL researchers conduct randomized evaluations to test and improve the effectiveness of programs and policies aimed at reducing poverty. There are more than 344 evaluations that have been either completed or are ongoing.

    Building Capacity- J-PAL provides expertise to people interested in rigorous program evaluation, and training to others on how to conduct randomized evaluations.

    Informing Policy- J-PAL’s policy group performs cost-effectiveness analysis to identify the most effective ways to achieve policy goals, disseminates this knowledge to policymakers, and works with governments, NGOs, foundations, and international development organizations to promote the scale-up of highly effective policies and programs around the world.

    …J-PAL and its partners are driven by a shared belief in the power of scientific evidence to understand what really helps the poor, and what does not.

    tags: poverty sociology

  • …the underlying idea driving Udemy is simple: the site makes it easy to both take and offer courses (free and paid).

    The most basic courses consist only of video lectures. The more advanced courses mix video lectures with workbooks, samples, and sometimes audio that can be downloaded to your iPod.

    All the courses I sampled provide lifetime access (once you buy the course, the material is yours forever) and a 30-day guarantee (a sign of confidence given that 30 days is enough to watch all the material for most courses).

    The platform is cleverly setup so that you can access your courses from any Internet-connected device, and the user interface is crisp and intuitive.

  • Mike Lofgren was inside the Beltway for 28 years and saw firsthand what’s happened to Washington. He has a new book out, “The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted,” that examines how we got where we are.

    tags: book_review politics

  • Upgrade Your Video App and Make Sure You Have Enough Free Space
    Steady Your Shot
    Use Microphones for Better Audio
    Learn the Basics of Lighting to Get a Better Overall Image
    The Easiest Ways to Share Your Video

  • Facebook and the Federal Trade Commission have a final settlement concerning charges that Facebook deceived members when it said they could keep their information private on the social platform while allowing it to go public.

    The settlement requires Facebook to give consumers clear notice and get their consent before sharing private information beyond their privacy settings. Facebook also will be subject to biennial privacy audits by independent third parties.

    …stemmed from Facebook behavior dating back to 2009, around the time the company’s CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg proclaimed the “death of privacy.”

    tags: privacy

  • When United and Continental decided to become a couple, they weren’t just combining their bank accounts and airplane collections, they also had to combine all the complaints people file against them. But even that doesn’t account for the huge increase in consumer complaints filed against the united United.

  • In peer-reviewed literature, Cardiio’s heart rate measurements have shown to be within 3 beats per minute of a clinical pulse oximeter–the gold standard. That makes it more than accurate enough for non-medical uses (it’s not FDA approved).

    tags: software smartphone

  • Insect biosystematist Dr. Shaun Winterton discovered a photo on Flickr of a green lacewing taken by Hock Ping Guek … . The insect was not identifiable as a known species to Winterton, and after collaborating with the photographer, a specimen was collected in the Malaysian rainforest. Further examination showed that this indeed was a new species. The discoverers named it Semachrysa jade.

    tags: science women_in_stem_fields crowdsourcing

  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is on the march once again, and this time its director Richard Cordray is proposing one simple mortgage disclosure form.

    The new document would lay out interest rates, monthly payments, loan amounts and closing costs on the first page, which Cordray thinks will breathe a fresh breath of uncomplicated air into the whole business of mortgages…

  • The regular officials are in a lock-out so the NFL had to hire a replacement crew. Shannon made the cut. There is no word as to whether she’ll keep her position once the lock out is resolved, but for now, she’s on the field.

    It’s a very exciting development for those of us who happen to be female and enjoy the game as much as most guys. The percentage of fans who are not male has increased so much that the NFL shops are finally making fan clothing in women’s styles. And now we have a ref on the field. That’s a lot to cheer about.

    Shannon is not a stranger to being a trailblazer. At age 11 she was the youngest person to ever be admitted to the United States Olympic Training Facility. She’s won six national judo championships.

  • In 2010, according to the USDA, 48.8 million Americans lived in food-insecure households, defined as “uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food to meet the needs of all their members because they had insufficient money or other resources.” Meanwhile, the EPA estimates that 95 billion pounds of food are wasted annually. Recovering less than half of that amount could feed the millions in need. But where to begin?

    A team of six Arizona State University students believe one solution lies in the power of social media. In 2011, Loni Amundson, Ramya Baratam, Steven Hernandez, Jake Irvin, Katelyn Keberle, and Eric Lehnhardt teamed up via the school’s Engineering Projects in Community Service program (EPICS) to create FlashFood, a food recovery network that uses text notifications to connect food-service vendors with those in need. If a restaurant, caterer, or deli has excess food at the end of the night, they can send a notification to the network’s volunteers, who deliver the food to a community center; another text notification goes out to the hungry that meals are available for pickup near them.

    …Arizona also has the third-highest rate of child food insecurity in the nation, and FlashFood director Lehnhardt says the contrast between neighborhoods in their home base of Phoenix can be stark.

    …FlashFoods members in charge of outreach have been going directly to community centers and food banks, and having them identify people who could also benefit from receiving extra meals–an estimated 70% of whom already have cell phones, thanks in part to programs like Safelink, a federal initiative that supplies phones and service plans to people receiving food stamp assistance.

    tags: activism

  • …when watching a TV series on Netflix streaming that when one episode finishes, the next one starts up right away. While this is extremely helpful if you want to, say, get through an entire season of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer in one glorious, slothful weekend day…

    Netflix added an auto-play feature to all their streaming tv shows. Apparently this is a feature some customers were asking for. The problem? There is no way to turn it off. So, if you turn on a tv show before going to bed and fall asleep before it is over it will keep playing additional episodes all night long. …very problematic for people with bandwidth caps.

    tags: pop_culture

  • …for those who communicate using American Sign Language (ASL), captions are translations. And as with all translations, inevitably something is still lost. The deaf community, with few exceptions, has not had easy access to content created in its own language–until recently.

    With the dawn of Internet video, many ASL musicians, poets, and comedians reach geographically dispersed audiences as easily as their spoken-language counterparts. …

    Captions, in some cases, are provided for hearing people.

    …While there are many different approaches to ASL poetry, one popular form uses a similar handshape to creatively convey different words. Another builds upon the series of handshapes in the manual alphabet. …

    To some extent, the same applies to ASL music–but not the ASL music you’ve most likely seen online. …

    The Deaf Professional Arts Network (D-PAN) is an organization that promotes deaf performers, including musicians. It’s helped create (with permission) ASL music videos for popular songs from artists like Christina Aguilera, John Mayer, and the White Stripes.

    tags: pop_culture

  • tags: smartphone

  • Rachel Maddow last night did an excellent segment on what is happening with early voting in Ohio, but it misses a very key point. I am a member of the Hamilton County Board of Elections (Cincinnati) so I have a ringside seat. …

    What this segment misses is what is happening with “extended voting hours” in Ohio. In Ohio you can go to the Board of Elections to vote early if you chose and a very large number of people did in 2008. That year the Boards of Elections in the major counties maintained evening hours, Saturday morning hours, even the occasional Sunday. Good of course for working people of course and they made good use of that.

    This year that is changing. Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) and Summit County (Akron) have been limited to “normal business hours” while at the same time big Republican suburban ring counties are voting to be open evenings and weekends. The implications are obvious.

  • tags: resource

  • TO: HEALTH MINISTERS AROUND THE WORLD

    For the past 30 years, gay “cures” have pushed thousands of gay and lesbian people around the world to self-destructive behavior and even suicide. This needs to stop.

    Last week, the leading organization behind these gay “cures” publicly acknowledged that they were a fraud. But one major splinter group, Desert Stream, is refusing to bring this lucrative business to end.

    We call on you to denounce and ban these gay “cures” now – and prevent Desert Stream from doing more harm.

    tags: call_for_action homophobia

  • The rise of the scrappy, startup entrepreneur — combined with the expense account-shrinking recesssion — has irrevocably changed what it means to travel for business. Today’s entrepreneur isn’t expected to be able to stay at the Four Seasons — it’s more like a Motel 6 or maybe even a friend’s couch.

    This is what tech entrepreneur Fred Caballero had in mind when he co-founded the London-based Startup Stay…

    …a platform which allows entrepreneurs seeking connections and accommodation in other cities to find each other. In just eight weeks the platform has collected members in 418 cities and 75 countries around the world.

    The fact that entrepreneurs have taken to this so widely is no surprise — small scale entrepreneurship is on the rise. A recent study showed that for each month starting in March 2011, 543,000 new enterprises have been launched in the U.S.

  • Many American Olympic athletes, despite being in incredible physical shape, face a tough time navigating the health care system and acquiring comprehensive coverage, just like us mere mortals.

    Some Olympic athletes get their health care coverage through a Blue Cross Blue Shield program called the Elite Athletes Health Insurance (EAHI) plan. This plan covers the basics like preventive care and doctor’s visits, but of all things vital to elite athletes, it doesn’t cover sports injuries.

    Given their high risk of injury and the EAHI’s high deductible, nearly all Olympic athletes have to buy a secondary plan that covers catastrophic injuries.

  • What people don’t appreciate, when they picture Terminator-style automatons striding triumphantly across a mountain of human skulls, is how hard it is to keep your footing on something as unstable as a mountain of human skulls.

  • Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, shall we?

    1980: Ronald Reagan runs for president, promising a balanced budget

    1981 – 1989: With support from congressional Republicans, Reagan runs enormous deficits, adds $2 trillion to the debt.

    1993: Bill Clinton passes economic plan that lowers deficit, gets zero votes from congressional Republicans. …

  • One person who (unsuccessfully) threatened the lives of his fellow airline passengers ten-and-a-half years ago has changed air travel for every single passenger on every U.S. flight in all the time since then. We responded (and over-responded) to that episode with a “this won’t happen again” determination, like other countries’ response to mass shootings. It is hard to know what kind of mass killing with guns would evoke a similar determination in America. The murder of six people including a federal judge and near-killing of a Congresswoman last year obviously didn’t do it. Nor, in all probability, will these latest two multi-death shootings. In their official statements of condolence yesterday, both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney replicated their achievement after the Aurora murders: Neither used the word “gun.”

    This will happen again.

    __
    Update On this issue, unlike some others, I see things just the way The Economist does. Its headline after the Aurora shooting could have applied to this one and many others as well: “Guns don’t kill crowds of innocent people; maniacs with easy access to military-grade weapons do”

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Of interest (Jul 30-Aug 6)

  • It’s a simple question: are you registered to vote?

    Are you sure?

    Most people don’t realize it but, depending on the laws in your state, these are just a few of the life-changes that might knock you off the voter roll and force you to re-register:

    Getting married and changing your name
    Moving, even within the same city or town
    Going to college
    Going through a mortgage foreclosure

  • We realize that the majority of users interested in this project will likely only want the fonts. For this purpose, there is a Source Sans font package that includes just these resources. The family currently includes six weights, from ExtraLight to Black, in upright and italic styles. The fonts offer wide language support for Latin script, including Western and Eastern European languages, Vietnamese, pinyin Romanization of Chinese, and Navajo (an often overlooked orthography that holds some personal significance for me). These fonts are the first available from Adobe to support both the Indian rupee and Turkish lira currency symbols. Besides being ready for download to install on personal computers, the Source Sans fonts are also available for use on the web via font hosting services including Typekit, WebInk, and Google Web Fonts. Finally, the Source Sans family will shortly be available for use directly in Google documents and Google presentations. Full glyph complement specimens (793K) are available in the Adobe type store along with informational pages for each style.

  • The best place on the web to learn anything, free.

  • Romney’s performance in the 1994 debate is worth studying. Debating is probably his strongest asset as a campaigner. It’s even more remarkable when you remember that he was a political novice at the time.

  • How do they do it?

    It’s pretty simple, actually: the NRA employs a rating system based on each member’s voting history. Here’s how it works. Before most votes having anything to do with gun rights, and even some that actually don’t, the NRA will announce that they will be “scoring” the vote, meaning that they will take this vote into account when assembling a letter grade to assign to each candidate. (Some sample grades are here.) In part because House members have to run for reelection every two years, the NRA grades have become a vital part of how candidates portray themselves to voters — and conservative and swing-district members will do everything they can to keep a good rating.

    I asked a Democratic legislative staffer for a first-person description of the NRA’s power on the Hill. Here’s the response I got, on the condition that I not provide any further identifying information. It’s pretty breathtaking.

  • When Bill Moyers, Keith Olbermann, Mayor Bloomberg, and Rupert Murdoch are all in favor of something — in this case, tougher gun laws — and there’s still no chance of it being enacted, you can rest assured that forces other than reason and partisan politics are involved.

    …Are firearms the only subject on which Americans are, let us say, a little batty?

    What are these shared convictions? I could go on all day, but here, for argument’s sake, are ten. Not all Americans subscribe to them, of course. In some instances, the true believers may amount to a small but vocal minority. Still, the popular sentiment underlying these statements is so strong that politicians defy it at their peril.

  • …at this point in the race, Republicans aren’t just occasionally taking Obama quotes out of context; they’re actually building their entire 2012 campaign strategy around sentiments the president didn’t actually say. I’ve honestly never seen anything like it.

    Let’s start a running count:…

  • YouTube has joined a growing list of social media companies who think that forcing users to use their real names will make comment sections less of a trolling wasteland, but there’s surprisingly good evidence from South Korea that real name policies fail at cleaning up comments. In 2007, South Korea temporarily mandated that all websites with over 100,000 viewers require real names, but scrapped it after it was found to be ineffective at cleaning up abusive and malicious comments (the policy reduced unwanted comments by an estimated .09%). We don’t know how this hidden gem of evidence skipped the national debate on real identities, but it’s an important lesson for YouTube, Facebook and Google, who have assumed that fear of judgement will change online behavior for the better.

    Last week, YouTube began a policy of prompting users to sign in through Google+ with their full names. If users decline, they have to give a valid reason, like, “My channel is for a show or character”. The policy is part of Google’s larger effort to bring authentic identity to their social media ecosystem, siding with companies like Facebook, who have long assumed that transparency induces better behavior.

  • Please support the unpaid activists that work full time on http://OccupyWallSt.org. Donations are used to cover operating expenses & provide living stipends.

  • When we first heard about the Necomimi Brainwave Cat Ears from Neurowear, we thought they were a total gimmick. How could a toy actually tell the world how you’re feeling–in real-time–by reading your brainwaves? Boy, were we wrong. Not only do these $99 ears work, they’re hilarious. …

    When we would take deep breaths and go into a yoga mindset, the Necomimi ears actually drooped down slowly like the instructions promised. We were also able to reproduce the other motions by jumping out behind a wall to surprise co-workers, watching videos of kittens, and having our editor ask us to turn something in by noon. When we tried to make the ears move in a certain way, most of the time it worked. Others who tried the ears didn’t have as much success, but we suspect it’s because they’re less in touch with their emotions.

  • tags: photography

  • …Aug. 1, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., introduced the Olympic Tax Elimination Act, which would “exempt U.S. Olympic medal winners from paying taxes on their hard-earned medals.”

    Rubio’s news release said the U.S. tax code “is a complicated and burdensome mess that too often punishes success, and the tax imposed on Olympic medal winners is a classic example of this madness. Athletes representing our nation overseas in the Olympics shouldn’t have to worry about an extra tax bill waiting for them back home.” (A new Olympics tax exemption might make the tax code more complicated, but we digress.)

    After a reader notified us of this developing issue, we decided to fact-check ATR’s specific claim that “U.S. Olympic medal winners will owe up to $9,000 to the IRS.”

  • 1) The Tax Policy Center bent over backwards to make Romney’s promises add up. They assumed a Romney administration wouldn’t cut a dollar of tax preferences for anyone making less than $200,000 until they had cut every dollar of tax preferences for everyone making over $200,000. They left all preferences for savings and investment untouched, as Romney has promised. They even tested the plan under a model developed, in part, by Greg Mankiw, one of Romney’s economic advisers, that promises “implausibly large growth effects” from tax cuts. The fact that they couldn’t make Romney’s numbers work even when they stacked all these scenarios on top of one another shows just how impossible Romney’s promises are. …

    4) Evidence the Romney campaign does not have a good counterargument, part one: If they thought releasing more details would make the plan look better rather than worse, they would have released them rather than letting outside organizations fill in the blanks. It’s essentially the same theory as refusing to release the tax returns. But now the Romney campaign is receiving pressure — including from conservatives — to release those details, which they know they can’t do. And unlike on the tax returns, no one can say that the details of Romney’s plans for governing the country are irrelevant to this campaign. …

    7) “Broadening the base and lowering the rates” is anti-family tax reform. This is interesting: “Families with children currently receive 57 percent of the available tax expenditures examined in this exercise but 23 percent of the revenue reductions. Thus a reform that imposed an across-the-board reduction in tax expenditures would increase taxes much more on families with children than on childless adults.”

  • It’s unlikely we’ll see the cable industry going the way of the landline business (or at least not as rapidly), simply because streaming video is not yet at the stage to offer the variety and convenience of having a few hundred HD channels at your fingers.

    Rather, it’s more likely that more and more of these niche TV channels — the ones that seem to be points of contention in these all-too-common carriage fee disputes between broadcasters and cable companies — will be the first to go online-only, and that this will begin a trend toward a more TV-like experience on the Internet.

    Ultimately — and not in the distant future — there will be no visible dividing line between TV and Internet, much in the same way that the line between phone and computer has been blurred.

  • The case brought by a coalition of voting rights groups — led by the American Civil Liberties Association’s Pennsylvania chapter — is doing several things in court that were not done four years ago, when liberal civil rights groups failed to stop Indiana’s new voter ID law before the U.S. Supreme Court.

    First, the ACLU-PA put into evidence testimony from real people about real-life circumstances attesting to the hardship of meeting the new ID law… In the Harrisburg court, the judge heard a handful of elderly people, newly eligible voters who are disabled and registered voters without drivers’ licenses, say why they could not obtain the newly required IDs. They lacked a mix of original documents, transportation to get it, time to get reissued birth certificates, and funds to get paperwork that is a precursor to a state photo ID card.

    …the testimony by Pennsylvania state officials defending their new voter ID law has been like a scene from an existential novel … Before the trial started, the state’s attorneys agreed in a stipulation that nobody had been found in the state to be impersonating other voters… (That was followed by video-taped statements by Pennsylvania’s Senate Republican leader bragging the law would help Romney win).

    …By Thursday’s closing arguments, the state had not called a single witness to make its case or rebut the civil rights groups. The state’s lawyer said the Legislature has the power to pass laws and that tough voter ID requirements were not a problem in other states.

    …If the judge issues an order suspending the law—as many increasingly expect he will in mid-August—it will undoubtedly be appealed to the state’s Supreme Court. But because one judge on that seven-member court is now involved in a campaign finance scandal and is not sitting on the bench, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will be evenly split between Democrats and Republicans.

    [The article’s optimism seems to be based on cherry-picking the happy omens without regard to details such as the fact that the DOJ dpes not have the power to interfere with northern states’ voter ID laws the way it does in the former Confederate states. -L]

  • Despite much sexism, there are many firsts for women Olympians this year, including an 8-months pregnant athlete.

    Baron Pierre de Coubertin triumphantly revived the modern-day Olympics in 1896 declaring, “All sports must be treated on the basis of equality.” As to why women weren’t allowed to compete in these first Games, de Coubertin explained that allowing women is “impractical, uninteresting, unaesthetic and incorrect.” I guess he didn’t mean equality equality. Even the ancient Olympic Games added the Heraea Games in 6 BC for women athletes to compete in honor of goddess Hera. This is not to say that the ancient Games were equal, but did we really have to start from scratch 2,300 years later, Pierre? …

    We couldn’t compete in Olympic weightlifting or the hammer throw (yes, this is still a sport ) until 2000. 2012 marks the first year women will compete in boxing at the Olympic level.

    As we celebrate the thirtieth Olympic Games, we are still setting significant milestones for women in the Olympics. One hundred and sixteen years after the Games’ modern-day revival, we are still fighting to prove our legitimacy as athletes at every level. …

    Most of us fist pumped when we initially heard of the inclusion of the Saudi women, as if the matter was suddenly solved and done. But the issues are so complicated for Arab women that it’s hard to say where these milestones will lead. Is this the beginning or the end? Girls in Saudi Arabia will not be allowed to watch the Olympics; they cannot even participate in P.E in school.

  • The Reuters news agency said Friday that one of its websites had been hacked and used to disseminate fake stories about Syria’s rebel movement, the latest cyberattack to strike a media organization covering the country’s civil war.

  • The voters of Michigan will get a say on the state’s emergency financial manager law. In a 4-3 decision, the state supreme court ruled today that the petition drive met the requirements and should be certified for the November election. That petition had been challenged by a group based in the office of a member of the elections board that rejected it. The challenge alleged that the type on one line of the petition was not 14 point. The court ruling is remarkably technical (pdf) — font nerds, skip to page 18 for the time of your lives — and the most exciting part might be this: …

    Today’s ruling means that the emergency manager law will go on ice, after it’s officially certified, until the referendum this fall. That has large and potentially confusing implications for the towns and school districts the state has taken over under the law. …

  • In an aesthetic sense, however, gelato is much more about accentuating the substance from which it is made, whereas ice-cream is about combining flavors. Strawberry ice-cream is an experience of the delightful comingling of strawberry juice with cream, producing a rich, strong, syrupy dairy experience, and reminding one pleasantly of strawberries and cream if one has ever had them together; strawberry gelato is the experience of eating a soft frozen strawberry, with no presence of dairy or commixture. It is in the fruits and the nuts that this difference is most extreme. …Gelato, real gelato, doesn’t taste like it’s flavored with the thing, it tastes like it’s made of the thing. This last fact often makes it difficult for foreigners in Italy who are ordering gelato for the first time to choose flavors they will actually enjoy. …many people like cherry syrup, in cocktails, on cakes, in Dr. Pepper, and these people are often wildly disappointed at the first bite of a cherry gelato, which bears no resemblance to the syrup, but simulates the experience of a, usually very acidic, sour cherry. Vanilla is the pinnacle of this cultural flavor misunderstanding. Many Americans come to a gelateria wanting to try the equivalent of vanilla, and different people propose different equivalencies, but I have concluded, with careful study, that there is not an equivalent. There are three equivalents. This is because there are three different reasons people like vanilla ice-cream: …

    Thus “Gelato is Italian ice-cream,” remains one of the more misleading truths involved in Italian travel. Gelato is indeed Italian ice-cream, but one cannot apply the same logic to it, and there is nothing like a 1:1 correspondence between which flavors one should order in a gelateria and an ice-cream parlor. Unfortunately, this concept is difficult to pass along quickly.

  • It would seem to be a no-brainer: A bank with a foreclosed house that is standing empty, and that it cannot or will not sell in a soft market, could donate the property to an organization such as Habitat For Humanity that could repair the structure before handing the keys over to a homeless family.

    Here’s the problem: Often, banks aren’t really certain that it actually owns the property it seized.

    …”If they aren’t sure they owned our house, then how did they foreclose on us?” Richard Nymann demands to know. …

    Nymann isn’t alone in asking the question. In fact, the problem is so widespread that at least four major banks including Bank of America, JPMorganChase, Ally Financial – it used to be called GMAC – and PNC Financial called a temporary halt to foreclosures simply to figure out who owns a clear title to specific properties.

  • The easy answer: Meet people that could help you in 6 months, not that can help you now. As Wayne Gretsky famously said, “skate where the puck’s going, not where it’s been.”

  • INTERVIEW BY ELIAS GROLL | AUGUST 2, 2012

    On Tuesday, Belarus’s president, Alexander Lukashenko, fired two of his top generals after a single-engine airplane piloted by two Swedish advertising executives managed to breach the country’s air defenses and bombarded the suburbs of Minsk with teddy bears carrying messages in support of free speech.

    Lukashenko — better known as Europe’s last dictator — presides over an increasingly brittle police state and has managed to tenaciously cling to power, in no small measure because of the blessing of his Kremlin backers. But the teddy-bear stunt, pulled off by the Swedish advertising agency Studio Total, has proved embarrassing for a ruler who once boasted his people want him to return his country to a Stalinist regime.

    For the Swedes, the aerial bombardment is the latest in a string of high-profile “campaigns” carried out by the agency. In June of 2010, Studio Total organized an event in which the leader of the Swedish political party Feminist Initiative burned 100,000 kronor (about $15,000) in a bid to draw attention to the income gap between men and women in Sweden. …

    TML: …Lukashenko’s actions [after the teddy bear bombing] have been very irrational, and the situation is not good for him right now. Now the people have picked up on this. For example, people are now giving teddy bears as wedding presents and symbols of opposition.

    HF: This creates a pretty awkward situation for the police, as they can’t very well go ripping teddy bears out of peoples’ hands. In this way it becomes a very powerful symbol.

  • Mass incarceration has become normalized in the United States. Poor folks of color are shuttled from decrepit, underfunded schools to brand new, high tech prisons and then relegated to a permanent undercaste – stigmatized as undeserving of any moral care or concern. Black men in ghetto communities (and many who live in middle class communities) are targeted by the police at early ages, often before they’re old enough to vote. They’re routinely stopped, frisked, and searched without reasonable suspicion or probable cause. Eventually they’re arrested, whether they’ve committed any serious crime or not, and branded criminals or felons for life. Upon release, they’re ushered into a parallel social universe in which the civil and human rights supposedly won during the Civil Rights Movement no longer apply to them. For the rest of their lives, they can be denied the right to vote, automatically excluded from juries, and legally discriminated against in employment, housing, access to education and public benefits. So many of the old forms of discrimination that we supposedly left behind during the Jim Crow era are suddenly legal again once you’ve been branded a felon. That’s why I say we haven’t ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.

    …federal drug forfeiture laws allow state and local law enforcement agencies to keep, for their own use, up to 80 percent of the cash, cars, and homes seized from suspected drug offenders. You don’t even have to be convicted of a drug offense; if you’re just suspected of a drug offense, law enforcement has the right to keep the cash they find on you or in your home, or seize your car if drugs are allegedly found in it or “suspected” of being transported in the vehicle. Between 1988 and 1992 alone, Byrne-funded drug task forces seized over $1 billion in assets. The targets of these stop and frisk tactics and routine seizures are not college students or middle class suburban youth who use and sell plenty of drugs. …far from putting any meaningful constraints on law enforcement in this war, the U.S. Supreme Court has given the police license to stop and search just about anyone, in any public place, without a shred of evidence of criminal activity, and it has also closed the courthouse doors to claims of racial bias at every stage of the judicial process from stops and searches to plea bargaining and sentencing.

    …The fact that people of all colors have been ensnared by the drug war helps to preserve the system as a whole from serious critique, as it creates the impression – at a glance – that the war is being waged in an unbiased manner, even when nothing could be further from the truth.

    tags: racism war_on_inanimate_objects

  • “Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.”

    Muller’s volte-face was based on the project’s analysis of “a collection of 14.4m land temperature observations from 44,455 sites across the world dating back to 1753,”

  • At many Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) throughout the country, the student population is changing. The numbers of Latino, Asian, and White students are on the rise. Although most HBCU presidents are welcoming these students, some alumni are often not as excited to see the faces at their alma mater changing. However, other alumni and many students see the growing racial diversity on HBCU campuses as a plus, noting that it is time for non-Blacks to see the attributes and witness the strengths that HBCUs offer in terms of higher education. And, those non-Blacks that are attending HBCUs often serve as ambassadors for HBCUs, enjoying their experience and sharing it with others.

  • …Democrats in the House and Senate introduced a bill that would raise the federal minimum wage from the current $7.25 per hour to $9.80 by 2014.

    The bill has no chance of becoming law in this session of Congress. …

    …estimates that raising the minimum wage to $9.80 per hour would generate more than $25 billion in consumer spending, create more than 100,000 full-time jobs and lift wages for close to 30 million workers, since raising the floor affects not only those who earn the minimum but also those who earn slightly more.

    Not so fast, says Marc Freedman, executive director of labor-law policy at the [conservative lobbying group -L] U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Has anybody who supports increasing the minimum wage ever told you where the employers are going to get the extra money?” he asks.

    “When you raise the price for low-skilled workers,” Freedman notes, “you are in some cases freezing those low-skilled workers out of the market, because employers who have to pay more would look for higher-skilled workers. Raising the minimum wage would not benefit those it’s intended to benefit.”

    [It would benefit many of those who are already employed, or most of them. There might be some layoffs; Freedman’s objection applies to the currently unemployed and to those who get laid off. It would make sense to combine a minimum wage raise with incentives to businesses that implement cost-cutting measures in areas other than payroll. -L]

    …What is not in dispute is that the minimum wage is far lower, in real terms, than at any time in the past four decades.

    …the minimum wage would be $10.55 per hour today if it had kept up with inflation over the past 40 years. And it would be more than $23 per hour… if it had kept pace with the increase in executive salaries since 1990.

    Stiglitz argues that fixing the U.S. economy requires a substantial increase in consumer demand…

  • The police report attributed the death to a self-inflicted gunshot, though when the two officers opened the squad car door, they found Carter’s hands were still cuffed behind his back. The gun, they said, was somehow missed in both searches. …

    According to [his mother], Carter called his girlfriend while he was pulled over to tell her he’d call her from jail. She also said her son was shot in his right temple, when he was left-handed.

  • [Yet another infographic.]

    tags: infographics

  • …beyond the wide variation in purge rates across states, there is significant variation within states: …

    Catalist notes that more than 2.7 million living people who voted in 2008 have since been purged from the voter rolls. Among those, African American voters are “1.5 times more likely to be purged than Caucasian voters, nationally.”

  • Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is pushing his campaign beyond America’s borders with appearances in England and boasts that he’s very familiar with key international political players like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Vanity Fair reports that Romney referred to the Israeli head as an “old friend.” Netanyahu, however, doesn’t see their relationship in quite the same way, but according to Mother Jones, that’s not the point. …

  • Natural-hair care for African Americans can be expensive, from products to specialty hair salons. For proof, just ask a black woman with free-flowing curls in a beauty-supply store as she navigates pricey creams from the likes of Mizani, Miss Jessie’s and Mixed Chicks. Unfortunately, New York magazine writer Kevin Roose didn’t get the memo. He included the natural-hair-care site NaturallyCurly.com on a list of “dumb” investments made by Silicon Valley…

  • As a result of the Aurora, Colo., shootings, Mayor Ed Lee made a concerted effort to put the controversial procedure into action this week. This comes despite community outcry in New York City against the practice that has been proven to unfairly target black and Latino men…

  • Last year, ICE Director John Morton asked prosecutors to consider a number of factors – including an individual’s length of time in the United States, educational pursuits, family ties, contributions to the community and criminal history – before deciding whether to proceed with a deportation case.

    By urging prosecutors to use greater discretion, Morton hoped to reduce the strain on the immigration court system and place more of a focus on higher-priority criminal cases. …

    Unlike the criminal court system, defendants in the immigration courts are not entitled to legal representation. Advocates say that without adequate representation, individuals often receive only cursory reviews.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Of interest (July 30-Aug 3)

  • The Food and Drug Administration approved Monday the first pill aimed at preventing HIV infections in healthy people who risk contracting the disease through unsafe sex.

    The medication, Truvada, is the first drug shown to protect people from becoming ­infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. It is already used to treat HIV-positive ­patients.

  • tags: science

  • The hard-nosed reporters of FoodBeast revealed to us today that those paper cups are built to fan out, creating greater capacity and dunking surface. …

    Yeah. You just tug it open. So, something that means I’ll use less paper, can dip a burger into the ketchup, and make things easier when I eat out with my kids?

    MIND IS BLOWN.

    [Mine, too, Strollerderby! -L]

  • Technological innovation has given us so much utility, but perhaps one of its least considered contributions is its ability to transform our imagination, revealing to us that which we are otherwise unable to see. The photograph, the moving picture, broadcast television, the internet, data storage — this string of technology has enabled us to alter our preconceptions of what is possible in nature, and thus reality, even without us having witnessed it firsthand.

    Here are nine other incredible natural phenomena you likely couldn’t have even imagined 100 years ago but, thanks to technology, you can now.

    tags: photography

  • Until this morning’s comments, Romney’s remarks on his Israel visit had followed a prepared script; he presented the usual campaign bromides about support for Israel and labored to distinguish his foreign policy from that of President Obama.

    …Romney’s remarks about Jewish superiority were of a different order [from his gaffes in London], and it’s not only the Palestinian leadership that should be aghast at his remarks. Essentially, what the GOP’s candidate for president was saying is that “Jews are good with money.”

    …The myth of Jewish financial acumen—and dishonesty—has been at the core of anti-Semitic discourse throughout the centuries. It was present in the writings of Church fathers, in the dramas of the Elizabethan period, and in the screeds of the Nazi propagandists.

    Hearing Romney’s slur, surely intended as a compliment, I couldn’t help thinking of the many Israelis living at the poverty line and below. Over the past year these Israelis and thousands of their supporters have been demonstrating against the inequities of the Israeli economic system. But it seems that these ‘poor Jews’ don’t count in the Republican campaign calculus.

  • I’m a huge fan of Senator Jeff Merkley’s new plan to help out the 8 million American homeowners who are current on their mortgages but underwater and therefore unable to refinance. If you like to see such things in video form, the YouTube announcement is here; for the nerds among us, the full 31-page proposal is here. [links]

    I’ve been bellyaching for a while about one of the biggest and most obvious market failures out there: the fact that huge numbers of mortgages are trading well above par — at roughly 106 cents on the dollar, on average — just because the homeowners are locked in to high interest rates because they’re underwater. When investors made these loans, they made them in the knowledge and expectation that if rates fell sharply, the loans would be refinanced and prepaid. But that never happened, and now they’re reaping an undeserved windfall.

    Merkley’s plan addresses that problem straight on, and because it only concerns homeowners who are current on their mortgages — and not the 3 million homeowners who are underwater — it doesn’t come with any moral hazard problems attached: indeed, at the margin, it encourages homeowners to stay current on their loans, rather than defaulting on them.

    The basic idea’s very simple: the government will buy, at par, any new underwater mortgage written on certain terms. …

    In many ways, if you don’t sell your house, this is functionally equivalent to a principal reduction.

  • If you have lots of social mobility, then the general standard of living is going to go up: you’ll have lots of poor people becoming richer, and you’ll also have the rich protecting their downside, in the likely event that they become poorer, by doing their best to improve the lot of the poor.

    …[consider] two societies, equal in all respects except that one is high-stasis and the other is high-churn, then fast-forwarding to see which one turns out better. The answer, of course, is the high-churn society — which means, working backwards, that if you want growth, you also want social mobility.

    As a result, it’s reasonable to conclude that anything which impedes social mobility — like rising inequality, say — also impedes growth.

  • Nearly 220 counties in a dozen drought-stricken states were added Wednesday to the U.S. government’s list of natural disaster areas as the nation’s agriculture chief unveiled new help for frustrated, cash-strapped farmers and ranchers grappling with extreme dryness and heat.

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s addition of the 218 counties means that more than half of all U.S. counties – 1,584 in 32 states – have been designated primary disaster areas this growing season, the vast majority of them mired in a drought that’s considered the worst in decades. …

    As of this week, nearly half of the nation’s corn crop was rated poor to very poor, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. About 37 percent of the U.S. soybeans were lumped into that category, while nearly three-quarters of U.S. cattle acreage is in drought-affected areas, the survey showed.

  • Sexism, racism, homophobia and general name-calling are longstanding facts of life in certain corners of online video games. But the Cross Assault episode was the first of a series this year that have exposed the severity of the harassment that many women experience in virtual gaming communities.

    And a backlash — on Twitter, in videos, on blogs and even in an online comic strip — has moved the issue beyond endless debate among gaming insiders to more public calls for change.

    … Like Ms. Sarkeesian, many women gamers are documenting their experiences on blogs like “Fat, Ugly or Slutty” (whose name comes from the typical insults women receive while playing against others online). It cheekily catalogs the slurs, threats and come-ons women receive while playing games like Resident Evil or Gears of War 3.

    The blog publishes screenshots and voice recordings that serve as a kind of universal citation in each new controversy, called upon to settle debates or explode myths. For instance, many of the site’s recordings feature deep voices captured from the chat features of online games, debunking the widely held belief that bad behavior begins and ends with 13-year-old boys.

  • There comes a time in everyone’s life when they ask themselves that quintessential question: ‘Am I a Romney?’ Click on the start button below and take a short quiz to find out once and for all. All the questions are inspired by facts about – and direct quotes from – Mr. Romney. Upon completion of the quiz you will be shown your results, as well as the facts behind each question. Different questions will appear each time, so feel free to reassess your status as often as you see fit.

  • Other than insulting people in foreign countries, Mitt Romney’s main focus over the past few weeks has been accusing President Obama of believing that government creates jobs, so when he told a crowd in Basalt, Colorado earlier today that he was personally responsible for creating jobs as governor of Massachusetts, it was something of a surprise.

  • By 1932, half of the Chicago labor force was out of work and those who did have jobs found their wages cut. Teachers were paid their monthly salaries only three times between January 1931 and May 1933. They did not receive regular paychecks, but were paid in “scrip” which had to be redeemed by businesses and banks who did not honor their full value. …

    Classroom conditions were especially grim as schools were overcrowded with impoverished, undernourished students. …

    In the face of the social catastrophe, Chicago teachers stayed on the job despite the payless paydays, determined as one Chicago teacher put it “…not to desert the Chicago schools.” Teachers raised $112,000 to buy clothes and provide breakfasts for needy children and despaired that they could not raise more. …

    Harry Tate of the Chicago Teacher Voter Association addressed a 1932 teachers’ mass meeting by calling schools “the last bulwark protecting American democracy.” In a nation where many believed the entire economic system was on the point of a violent collapse, this was not idle hyperbole. Totalitarian movements were on the march and working class resistance was critical to preventing their spread. …

    It takes a spark to set off a militant mass movement in the streets and that spark came on March 17, 1933 when teachers discovered that school janitors, many of whom were patronage employees protected by Chicago’s political machine, had received a secret raise when teacher’s pay was cut in January. … Teachers also organized a boycott of businesses that were still evading taxes.

    …On July 12, 1933, the Chicago Board of Education approved a budget that stunned the packed meeting room with cuts so drastic that School Superintendent William Bogan, who had not been consulted, was seen holding his head in his hands in shocked silence. …

    John Fewkes, whom Time Magazine called the “John L. Lewis of the teaching profession”, was, like the legendary Lewis, a militant, not a radical. Fewkes was anti-communist at a time when communists played an important and generally positive role in the labor rebellions of the Depression Era. Fewkes would use militant tactics, but only for limited objectives. …

    Today, the Chicago Teachers Union, under new progressive leadership, is facing many of the same problems that teachers did back in the first half of the 20th century, plus new ones, such as the drive for privatization of the schools. Today the very existence of public education faces a greater threat than in the worst days of the Great Depression, but Chicago’s teachers are showing no signs of complacency.

    The spirit of ’33 lives on.

  • Aspen, Colorado (CNN) – Despite laws barring coordination between federal campaigns and outside groups, Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie are hosting a joint closed-door political briefing with leading Republican donors Thursday. …

    Gillespie, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, is a senior strategist for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

    Though Rove and Gillespie have known each other for years and are two of the GOP’s most eminent strategists, it would be illegal for them to discuss internal campaign plans.

  • In her opening segment Wednesday night, which was titled “You’re going to have to take my word for it,” Rachel Maddow delivered a scathing indictment of the veracity of Mitt Romney’s ability to tell the truth, about anything, but especially his income taxes. …

    This is the most damning 18 minutes of video on Romney’s ability to tell the truth I’ve seen to date. If you can’t watch the video (embedded at end of diary) online, and you missed the show, I have transcribed every word.

    [Summary: Romney was a resident of Utah and not qualified to run for governor in Massachusetts. He claimed that he was a resident of Mass. and he filed taxes there. Except that it turned out he hadn’t and he was trying to retroactively re-file at the same time that he was still telling the public that he filed in Mass. -L]

  • Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Kelly (R), an ardent opponent of abortion rights, said that today’s date would live in infamy alongside those two other historic occasions. Wednesday marked the day on which a controversial new requirement by the Department of Health and Human Services, which requires health insurance companies to cover contraceptive services for women, goes into effect. …

    *UPDATE* Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye, a veteran of World War II, condemned Kelly’s comments in a statement. [link]

  • Remember how the House Republicans came to power in 2010 with their whole “jobs, jobs, jobs, all we care about are jobs” pitch? And how they haven’t actually done anything on jobs because apparently, they think all the jobs are hidden in American women’s lady parts?

    Well, here’s yet another not-a-jobs idea from the super-geniuses of the Republican House:

    “A Homeland Security spending bill approved by the GOP-led House on Thursday includes a provision to bar Immigration and Customs Enforcement from providing abortions for illegal immigrant detainees.” …

  • The problem with clouds is that many of the cloud providers are big companies like AT&T who of course have a history of collaborating with illegal government searches and share common interests against things like net neutrality.

    There’s also no real guarantee that these companies won’t filter content or go through private data to accomplish their ends. Take a company like Dow Chemical, recently it was revealed that they hired the private firm Stratfor to spy on Bhopal activists; there have been no charges or calls for investigation.

    While folks like Zizek might be a little off when claiming that clouds will privatize the internet (the internet already consists of many privately owned servers) what cloud computing will do is centralize it the hands of unaccountable corporations.

  • Using nine dollars worth of materials, bicycle enthusiast Izhar Gafni has created a fully functioning, water-resistant bicycle, made, from seat to spokes, entirely of recycled cardboard. …

    The all cardboard bike is shockingly durable: it can carry riders who weigh up to 485 pounds. A layer of coating atop the cardboard shields the bike from the elements and gives the finished product the look and feel of lightweight plastic. …

    According to Kariv’s documentary, Gafni’s cardboard bicycle was inspired by news that an inventor had succesfully built a cardboard canoe. Gafni’s bike design was initially deemed “impossible” by three engineers, but over the course of three years, Gafni proved triumphant. …

    He’s currently working with investors to have the product ready for mass-production and worldwide distribution by next year.

  • Here are the eight new no-cost services — all pretty important, if you ask us:

    Well-woman visits
    Gestational-diabetes screening that helps protect pregnant women from one of the most serious pregnancy-related diseases
    Domestic and interpersonal-violence screening and counseling.
    FDA-approved contraceptive methods, and contraceptive education and counseling
    Breast-feeding support, supplies and counseling
    HPV DNA testing for women 30 or older
    Sexually transmitted infections counseling for sexually active women
    HIV screening and counseling for sexually active women

  • Think about it. If you were covering elections in another country, and one political party was actively trying to limit voting in the name of a problem that objectively didn’t exist, would you hesitate for a moment to call out that tactic — and question that party’s legitimacy?

  • When ABC News’ Carole Simpson was hired as the first female and African American presidential debate moderator in 1992, it never occurred to her that two decades would pass without another being chosen. …

    A trio of high school students has circulated a Change.org petition demanding a female moderator for the upcoming elections, and Simpson says the timing couldn’t be better. “Now that we are back in 1971 again with Mitt Romney suggesting that he wants to kill Planned Parenthood and overturn Roe v. Wade, this year more than any other presidential year needs a female moderator,” …

    Even though Simpson cracked a glass ceiling as the first minority woman to run a presidential debate, the event was not the major feminist breakthrough it seems, she said. The 1992 presidential campaign saw the first “town hall” style debate, which means Simpson’s job mainly consisted of walking through the audience and handing people the microphone so they could ask their own questions.

    “They kept saying they wanted an Oprah-style town hall format, so that probably had something to do with them choosing a black woman,” she said. “I was told in my earpiece by a producer, ‘Go interview the lady in the green dress on the left, and now the man in the red sweater.’ I had no control over the questions that were asked, or who asked, or in what order. I was like a traffic cop.” …

    The lack of female voices in the presidential debates highlights an issue that continues to plague American media: Men do the vast majority of the talking, even on issues of particular import to women.

    A recent study of major publications found that men are quoted five times as frequently as women on issues such as abortion, birth control and Planned Parenthood. On general election topics, including the economy and foreign policy, men had 81 percent of quotes on the 11 major national television shows.

  • The scariest voter-ID laws might be the ones that aren’t in solidly red states.
    By: Edward Wyckoff Williams | Posted: August 2, 2012

  • The Hershey–Chase experiments were a series of experiments conducted in 1952 by Alfred Hershey and Martha Chase that helped to confirm that DNA was the genetic material. While DNA had been known to biologists since 1869, a few scientists still assumed at the time that proteins carried the information for inheritance. In their experiments, Hershey and Chase showed that when bacteriophages, which are composed of DNA and protein, infect bacteria, their DNA enters the host bacterial cell, but most of their protein does not. Although the results were not conclusive, and Hershey and Chase were cautious in their interpretation, previous, contemporaneous and subsequent discoveries all served to prove that DNA is the hereditary material. Knowledge of DNA gained from these discoveries has applications in forensics, crime investigation and genealogy.

    Hershey shared the 1969 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Max Delbrück and Salvador Luria for their “discoveries concerning the genetic structure of viruses.”

    [But not Chase, because she was a lab assistant. This sounds fair, right? But let us consider the bigger picture, in which women were generally discouraged from having careers at all, much less in science. In a world with equality, Chase might have already had a doctorate and been acknowleged as Hershey’s co-discoverer. It’s hard to say that she as an individual was robbed of a Nobel. But we can certainly say that women as a class were robbed of Chase’s Nobel. -L]

    tags: women_in_stem_fields

  • Beginning August 1, 2012 a whole range of crucial health care services will start becoming available to women with no cost-sharing like co-pays or deductibles, thanks to Pres. Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

    tags: infographics

  • Once a strategy for retailers to build brand awareness and coolness cred in a flashy spectacle (now you see us, now you don’t), the pop-up shop has transformed into a tool of urban revitilization. In San Francisco, the city government has partnered with a pop-up incubator called SQFT to help activate a downtrodden neighborhood’s potential with a jolt of temporary business inserted into retail deadspace. Today, SQFT celebrates its launch by bringing a slice of life to a string of blocks in San Francisco’s Mid-Market with a pop-up library, yoga studio, and cafe, among other temporary businesses.

    …While a realtor might think you’re crazy if you asked for help finding an office that could accommodate a lecture series only on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings, for example, that’s exactly the kind of request that SQFT was built to field, provide a quote for, and find spaces for.

    …According to SQFT, pop-ups have the potential to bring a buzz of activity to the area by boosting foot traffic, supporting existing business, and potentially luring permanent businesses.

  • Sixty years ago, six young women programmed the world’s first all-electronic computer, the ENIAC. Their ballistics program used hundreds of wires and 3000 switches. Never introduced, they never became a part of history. Forty years later, Kathy Kleiman was told that the women in pictures with ENIAC (1946) were “Refrigerator Ladies,” models posed in front of the machine.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. The ENIAC Programmers worked tirelessly to make programming easier for all. They created the first sort routine, software application and instruction set, and classes in programming. Their work dramatically altered computing in the 1940s and 1950s. They paved the path to the modern software industry.

    The ENIAC Programmers Project records the stories, seeks recognition for their accomplishments and seeks to produce the first feature documentary about this dramatic story.

    You can help. If we raise the money now, we can produce the ENIAC Programmers documentary NOW, while the ENIAC Programmers are still with us. This is an effort funded by individuals worldwide, through donations large and small. It’s not easy, but together we can change history.

  • Money makes the world go ’round, and following its trail can tell a story. Here are some free online tools that anyone can use.

  • Once again, Loki’s true plan, which succeeded, was pure genius, and cunningly designed as a terrible plan which failed. Yet sophistication of his scheme has declined in complexity so radically since his elegant and subtly-worked plan to destroy Bifrost and fake his own death in the “Thor” film that the viewer is left wondering what happened? Was he distracted when he came up with this plan? Further research into the “Marvel Universe” led me to several alternatives. Is he simultaneously waging another battle in the Astral Plane, or the Mojoverse, which requires the majority of his attention? Perhaps we are to believe that this was a cry for attention? This would be consistent with the focus on his youth and desire for respect, treated in both films (though smelling more like a ruse than truth in both). Perhaps we are to believe he was so frustrated that no one noticed the brilliant success of his earlier scheme that this time he has dialed down the subtlety in hopes that at least some of the supposed-genius members of the adversary squad might piece together the logic chain: “Loki is an unmatched genius. This plan is dumb. Therefore this is not Loki’s plan.”

  • I have been driven to write this review since so many people seem to have missed the subtleties of this excellent and richly-worked commentary on Norse Mythology. First off, I should like to correct a common, basic confusion about the film’s plot, since so subtle was the crafting of Loki’s character that many viewers seem to have been taken in by his brilliant plan, which succeeded, and which was cunningly disguised as a terrible plan which failed.

  • “So, why is Machiavelli really so important?” …

    Petrarch, father of Renaissance humanism, desperately wanted Florentines to love Florence as much as Romans had loved Rome, the ancient Romans that he read about in mangled copies of copies of copies of the beautiful, alien Latin of a lost world. …

    The solution Petrarch proposed to what he saw as the fallen state of “my Italy” was to reconstruct the education of the ancient Romans. If the next generation of Florentine and, more broadly, Italian leaders grew up reading Cicero and Caesar, the Roman blood within them might become noble again, and they too might be more loyal to the people than to their families, love Truth more than power, and in short love their cities as the Romans loved Rome. …

    The flowering peak, as we see it, when Raphael and Michelangelo and Leonardo were working away, when the libraries were multiplying, and cathedrals rising which are still too stunning for the modern eye to believe when we stand in front of them, this was such a dark time to be alive that the primary subject of Machiavelli’s correspondence, just like the subject of Petrarch’s 150 years before, was the desperate struggle for survival.

    …all [the European] powers want more territory, and there is no territory juicier than Italy, with its fat, rich little citystates, booming with industry, glittering with banker’s gold, situated on rich agricultural fields, and with tiny, tiny populations capable of mustering only tiny, tiny armies. The southern half of Italy has already fallen to the French… no wait, the Spanish… no, it’s the French again… no, the Spanish. The north is next.

    …This, now, was Machiavelli’s job when he worked in that little office in the Palazzo Vecchio:

    * Goal: Prevent Florence from being conquered by any of 10+ different incredibly enormous foreign powers.
    * Resources: 100 bags of gold, 4 sheep, 1 wood, lots of books and a bust of Caesar.
    * Go!

    …I am being only slightly facetious. The War of the League of Cambrai is the least comprehensible war I’ve ever studied. Everyone switches sides at least twice, and what begins with the pope calling on everyone to attack Venice ends with Venice defending the pope against everyone.

    tags: history

  • More than 6.2 million students attend K-12 public schools in California, but the conditions of the classrooms they sit in, playgrounds they run on and cafeterias they eat in are largely unknown. Unlike 22 other states in the country, California does not have a statewide inventory of its public school facilities. …

    If the state continues to fund school facilities – it provided 30 percent of school construction funding between 2005 and 2008, according to the report – it must do so with an eye toward equity and prioritize funding around the greatest needs, he said.

    State funding for public school facilities is largely doled out on a first-come, first-served basis – a process that favors schools that typically have more resources, organization and planning, Vincent said. Without adequate and equitable funding, he said, campus conditions deteriorate and schools don’t build educational enhancements like science and technology labs. …

    Williams v. California was a class-action lawsuit that argued that tens of thousands of students, most of whom were low-income and nonwhite, were being deprived of basic educational opportunities by attending schools in “slum conditions.”

    The state settled the suit in 2004, promising $800 million to help the lowest-performing schools become clean, safe and functional. A recent investigation by California Watch, sister site of The Bay Citizen, found the state has provided less than half of that money, and more than 700 schools have been waiting as long as four years for their share of funds.

  • For months, the city of Benicia has been working with the California state parks department on an agreement to keep the Benicia State Recreation Area open.

    The park was one of 70 parks around the state slated to close after the state cut $22 million from the parks department budget last year.

    But two weeks ago, an investigation revealed the department has been sitting on a $54 million surplus for several years. The director of the agency, Ruth Coleman, quickly resigned, and its chief deputy director, Michael Harris, was fired. The agency’s chief counsel, Ann Malcolm, also left.

    “Now, we don’t know who is going to sign (the agreement),” said Mario Giuliani, economic development manager for the city.

    Across the state, municipalities like Benicia and nonprofits like the Benicia State Parks Association, which are working to sign agreements with the parks department to keep parks open, don’t know what will happen to those efforts.

    tags: california state_budget_crisis

  • Ordinarily, when a doctor warns you of the risks connected to a medical procedure, you can trust that you’re being told the truth, or at least what your doctor believes to be true. For any woman seeking an abortion in South Dakota, though, this is no longer the case. … not just an attack on abortion rights that’s likely to be copied in other states — it’s an attack on the broader idea that policymaking should privilege fact over fantasy. …

    To justify a law forcing doctors to tell women otherwise, the 8th Circuit has turned the burden of evidence on its head. Essentially, it said that the state doesn’t have to prove the suicide advisory is true — rather, the plaintiffs have to prove it definitively untrue.

    …Coleman and her coauthors, it turned out, didn’t just rely on mental illness that manifested after abortion — they counted mental-health diagnoses across women’s entire lifetime. Thus if a depressed woman had an abortion, the abortion was treated as a risk factor for her depression, even if the depression came first.

    …The 8th Circuit basically ruled that legislatures are free to pick and choose which “science” they’d prefer to believe. “We express no opinion as to whether some of the studies are more reliable than others; instead, we hold only that the state legislature, rather than a federal court, is in the best position to weigh the divergent results and come to a conclusion about the best way to protect its populace,” the court wrote. …

    The court’s ruling should also comfort creationists, anti-vaccine activists, global-warming deniers, and purveyors of ex-gay therapy — anyone who wants ideological fictions to be given the same policymaking weight as scientific consensus. For now, though, the immediate effect will be on women with unwanted pregnancies in South Dakota. They’re the only people in the United States who must, by law, be deceived by their doctors.

  • A federal appeals court this week upheld South Dakota’s law requiring doctors to tell women seeking abortions that they will face “increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide.”

    The “informed consent” law, which required doctors to read a formal script to all women seeking an abortion, has been in litigation since it passed in 2005. …

    Most of the research out there has not found a causal relationship between abortion and increased risk of suicide.

    …South Dakota has passed a number of anti-abortion laws in recent years — so many that the state created a separate “Life Protection Fund” to defend them in court.

  • …a new study shows that female athletes (compared to men) are rarely used as spokespersons — and when they are, companies often fail to use them effectively.

    In short, advertisers don’t know what to make of strong women.

  • Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is pushing his campaign beyond America’s borders with appearances in England and boasts that he’s very familiar with key international political players like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Vanity Fair reports that Romney referred to the Israeli head as an “old friend.” Netanyahu, however, doesn’t see their relationship in quite the same way, but according to Mother Jones, that’s not the point. …

  • Natural-hair care for African Americans can be expensive, from products to specialty hair salons. For proof, just ask a black woman with free-flowing curls in a beauty-supply store as she navigates pricey creams from the likes of Mizani, Miss Jessie’s and Mixed Chicks. Unfortunately, New York magazine writer Kevin Roose didn’t get the memo. He included the natural-hair-care site NaturallyCurly.com on a list of “dumb” investments made by Silicon Valley…

  • As a result of the Aurora, Colo., shootings, Mayor Ed Lee made a concerted effort to put the controversial procedure into action this week. This comes despite community outcry in New York City against the practice that has been proven to unfairly target black and Latino men…

  • Last year, ICE Director John Morton asked prosecutors to consider a number of factors – including an individual’s length of time in the United States, educational pursuits, family ties, contributions to the community and criminal history – before deciding whether to proceed with a deportation case.

    By urging prosecutors to use greater discretion, Morton hoped to reduce the strain on the immigration court system and place more of a focus on higher-priority criminal cases. …

    Unlike the criminal court system, defendants in the immigration courts are not entitled to legal representation. Advocates say that without adequate representation, individuals often receive only cursory reviews.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Of interest (July 26-29)

  • In the late 1800s the idea of women in economic entomology was pretty much a non-starter. There were, in fact, only a few men in this embryonic field. However one name of a female stood out – that of Mary Davis Treat. Indeed Mary Treat was a pioneer in every sense of the term. Having never gone to college, she became an expert on insects, spiders and birds, and wrote well respected scientific papers and popular articles and books on natural history, including a very popular manual for home owners on garden pests.

    …She collaborated with Darwin on his book “Insectivorous Plants,” which Darwin gratefully acknowledged in the book. A strong supporter of the Theory of Natural Selection, Mary Treat was a superb observer, as Darwin states.

  • The first thing you need to know is that America wasn’t always like this. When John F. Kennedy was elected president, the top 0.01 percent was only about a quarter as rich compared with the typical family as it is now — and members of that class paid much higher taxes than they do today. Yet somehow we managed to have a dynamic, innovative economy that was the envy of the world.

    …if you’re really concerned about the incentive effects of public policy, you should be focused not on the rich but on workers making $20,000 to $30,000 a year, who are often penalized for any gain in income because they end up losing means-tested benefits like Medicaid and food stamps.

  • Midway through a matinee viewing of The Dark Knight Rises, I had a sinking feeling that many progressives would interpret it as a conservative film. It’s the most obvious reading. In a thinly veiled reference to Occupy Wall Street, the main villain, Bane, spouts facile leftist slogans about “equality” and “the people,” and the only man who can conquer him and save the city is billionaire Bruce Wayne.

    But if you look at the entirety of the Batman trilogy, the politics are more complex. In each installment, director Christopher Nolan plays with different approaches to crime and capitalism. There are no easy dichotomies. By the end of the third film, a clear argument for balance between authoritarianism in the name of order and an anarchist view of people power emerges.

  • Just when you thought Jim Crow in the Deep South was crucified, dead and buried, another outrage happens. This time, it comes from an all-too-familiar place–Mississippi. Charles Wilson and Te’Andrea Henderson wanted to hold their wedding at First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs, south of Jackson. But on the day before the wedding, the pastor of that church came with some shocking news–they had to move the wedding because they were black.

    tags: racism

  • Amidst all the speculation over the extraordinary emphasis that the Romney campaign has placed on its distorted version of the president’s “you didn’t build that” remarks, some of us (myself included) may have paid too much attention to the words, and not enough to the audio and video. And Jon Chait thinks that’s what it’s really all about: …

  • Mitt Romney went to the NAACP’s National Convention planning to get booed. …he was virtually taunting them the way a pro wrestler who’s playing a villain eggs on the crowd saying things he knows will elicit boos.

    Why would he bother going to the NAACP convention to get booed? Because the real audience wasn’t in the room. He wanted to be booed by that black audience so that white conservatives — who still don’t see him as one of them — and white undecideds would see that he’s unafraid to talk down to black people, to offend them, to be their villain, to make them boo. The result is that he comes off looking tough or gains sympathy. Either way, he gets a soundbite that will bounce through the cable news echo chamber and elicit an emotional reaction from white voters. Romney’s performance wasn’t intended to win more black votes, it was intended to help win more white votes.

    …Republicans don’t always treat the NAACP this way. When George W. Bush went to the convention in 2000 as a candidate for president he said respectfully, “The party of Lincoln has not always carried the mantle of Lincoln,” addressing why the GOP is not loved by black voters while nodding to the party’s greatest racial justice achievement.

  • How should we think about the relationship between climate change and day-to-day experience? Almost a quarter of a century ago James Hansen, the NASA scientist who did more than anyone to put climate change on the agenda, suggested the analogy of loaded dice. Imagine, he and his associates suggested, representing the probabilities of a hot, average or cold summer by historical standards as a die with two faces painted red, two white and two blue. By the early 21st century, they predicted, it would be as if four of the faces were red, one white and one blue. Hot summers would become much more frequent, but there would still be cold summers now and then.

    And so it has proved. As documented in a new paper by Dr. Hansen and others, cold summers by historical standards still happen, but rarely, while hot summers have in fact become roughly twice as prevalent. And 9 of the 10 hottest years on record have occurred since 2000.

    But that’s not all: really extreme high temperatures, the kind of thing that used to happen very rarely in the past, have now become fairly common. Think of it as rolling two sixes, which happens less than 3 percent of the time with fair dice, but more often when the dice are loaded. And this rising incidence of extreme events, reflecting the same variability of weather that can obscure the reality of climate change, means that the costs of climate change aren’t a distant prospect, decades in the future. On the contrary, they’re already here, even though so far global temperatures are only about 1 degree Fahrenheit above their historical norms, a small fraction of their eventual rise if we don’t act.

    The great Midwestern drought is a case in point. This drought has already sent corn prices to their highest level ever. If it continues, it could cause a global food crisis, because the U.S. heartland is still the world’s breadbasket.

    tags: global_climate_change

  • Mitt Romney’s not-so-excellent adventure abroad (“Romneyshambles,” the Brits are calling it) has been many things: shabby, hilarious, scandalous, an enlivening hoot to a dreary election season. One thing it shouldn’t be, though, is surprising.

    Charles Krauthammer… pronounced himself befuddled by the GOP candidate’s flare of incompetence.

    These sorts of trips, Krauthammer said… are easy. You express solidarity with the allies, listen, nod your head, and say nice things or nothing at all. Instead, Romney questioned his hosts’ ability to run the Olympics, raised doubts about Londoners’ community spirit, and violated protocol by publicly mentioning a meeting with the head of MI-6. …

    The thing that Krauthammer doesn’t get is that Romney is not the sort of businessman — that his brand of capitalism is not the sort of enterprise — that requires even the most elementary understanding of diplomacy, courtesy, or sensitivity to other people’s values, lives, or perceptions.

    The American capitalists-turned-statesmen of an earlier generation… took risks, built institutions, helped rebuild postwar Europe, befriended their foreign counterparts: in short, they cultivated an internationalist sensibility at their core. …

    How Romney should have behaved in London may have been obvious to Charles Krauthammer, who studies politics; it would have been obvious to politically ambitious businessmen from more traditional lines of work or from an earlier era. But as we have been graced to see this week, it is not necessarily obvious to Romney himself.

    …The intent [of the trip] was to demonstrate his comfort and capabilities on the world scene — a demonstration that, at least so far, has gone about as well as North Korea’s last few missile tests. And London, his first stop, was supposed to be the easy part of the trip…

  • I would only add that the bankers of yore operated by building relationships; Bain made its investors money in large part by breaking relationships, e.g. by walking away from implicit promises to workers. It’s not a style that makes for good diplomacy.

  • [First in a series of strips about the return of Jim Crow in the guise of fighting voter fraud.]

    tags: fake_crises racism democracy

  • There have been many mendacious moments in this presidential campaign, but it will be hard to top what Mitt Romney told the Veterans of Foreign Wars conference this week.

    President Obama is seeking “an arbitrary, across-the-board budget reduction that would saddle the military with $1 trillion in cuts,” the Republican said. “Strategy is not driving the president’s massive defense cuts. In fact, his own secretary of defense warned that these reductions would be devastating, and he’s right. … This is no time for the president’s radical cuts in our military.”

    Come again?

    Romney is referring to the automatic spending cuts, or “sequestration,” required by the Budget Control Act of 2011. For those suffering memory loss of the sort afflicting Romney, that legislation came about when Republicans threatened to throw the country into default unless Democrats agreed to automatic budget cuts if a “supercommittee” couldn’t reach a bipartisan agreement (which it couldn’t, naturally).

    If the defense cuts are Obama’s, they are also John Boehner’s, Eric Cantor’s, Mitch McConnell’s and Jon Kyl’s. The bill passed with the votes of a majority of House and Senate Republicans and the encouragement of — wait for it — Mitt Romney.

  • The ACA may be the most important piece of civil rights legislation effecting women since we gained the right to vote in 1920.

    …the number of uncovered women has increased by 6 million (17%) in the last decade, mostly due to lay-offs of teachers, nurses and other federally funded jobs that are both primarily occupied by women, and targets of right wing budget cuts. The five states with the highest rates of uninsured women were Texas (30.3%), Florida (26.2%), Arkansas (25.3%), New Mexico (25.3%), and Nevada (25.2%).

    The study also found that America leads the world in numbers of women who forgo health care for lack of a payment source.

  • The Colorado “Batman Movie” Shooting Massacre will generate many narratives among the public and media. This tragedy will be one more opportunity to reflect on the United States’ gun laws. The relationship between popular culture and violence will be a hot topic as well. Others will focus on questions surrounding access to mental healthcare, and what if anything could have been done to prevent James Holmes from committing his murder rampage during the debut of The Dark Knight Rises.

    However, there are several conversations that will likely not occur. It is unlikely that the aftermath of the Colorado shooting rampage will be a moment when we as a country reflect upon the relationship between masculinity and violence. There most certainly will not be a “beer summit” about how accused shooter James Holmes is one more entry in a long list of mass killers who are white, male, and young.

    When viewed through the white racial frame, there is nothing in his deeds on last Friday night that reflects upon the behavior of white people, generally, or white men in particular. From this perspective, his dressing up as The Joker, and killing more than a dozen people, and wounding many more, are the actions of one sick person.

    As folks have worked through many times before in the common “what if?” game of race in America, if James Holmes were black or brown this would be one more signal to the existence of a “pathological culture” among said group. If James Holmes were Muslim American the Colorado shooting would be a clear act of “terrorism,” and an example of the Islamic bogeyman next door who has occupied the dreams and nightmares of the “heartland” since September 11th.

    These narratives would be accepted as common sense; few qualifiers or critical interventions would be offered by the mass media, the pundit classes, or the general public.

    Consider the following list for a moment: with a few exceptions, most of those men who have committed mass shootings in the United States have been white. …

    The freedom to kill, maim, commit wanton acts of violence, and to be anti-social (as well as pathological) without having your actions reflect on your own racial group, is one of the ultimate, if not in fact most potent, examples of White Privilege in post civil rights era America. Instead of a national conversation where we reflect on what has gone wrong with young white men in our society–a group which apparently possesses a high propensity for committing acts of mass violence–James Holmes will be framed as an outlier.

    That is a mighty comfort to have–all of one’s deficiencies are ignored as those of an individual; all of one’s abilities and gifts are taken as positive attributes and credits to one’s race.

    tags: racism

  • Comparing the burden on the family’s religious beliefs and on the federal government’s new program, Judge Kane said the harm to the government “pales in comparison to the possible infringement” upon the Newland family’s rights under the Constitution and under federal laws. Although he mentioned their constitutional rights, his temporary order was based not on the family’s constitutional claims, but rather on their argument that the birth-control mandate interferes with their rights under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

  • GladstoneReport
    Protesters planned to march outside the LAPD’s Rampart Division station in Westlake today in a show of solidarity with demonstrators who have been clashing with police in Anaheim over a rash of deadly officer-involved shootings in that city to the south. …

    Organizers don’t have a permit for the march, she said, but it does appear to us that the LAPD, at least for now, plans to stand down and let them demonstrate. …

    Video of police unleashing a dog that then marches toward a woman and her stroller at an anti-police demonstration last weekend set of a national firestorm over Anaheim police tactics and fueled at least two subsequent nights of protests, one of which descended into minor rioting.

    tags: california

  • [Dude. Dude. Seriously, dude. -L.]

    tags: asshattery

  • When I first moved to DC, an editor told me that most homicides here were “drug deals gone bad.” I didn’t believe him, but I didn’t have any information to back up my gut feeling that there was more to these cases. But that conversation got me thinking about how we make judgement calls on what to cover and how, particularly when it comes to homicide. My hunch was that the way homicides were covered in DC hadn’t changed much since the drug wars of the early 1990s, and that meant that the assumptions newsrooms were making about which homicides were newsworthy were wrong. So I started from scratch.

    I said the goal of Homicide Watch DC would be to cover every homicide in the District. I wanted to know what “normal” was and what “newsworthy” was, but the only way to get at that was to look at every case. Now that the site has a foundation, I’ve come to realize there are many, many more reasons to cover every homicide. …creating a platform and method for covering every case helps many, many more stories surface than a reporter could anticipate by reporting only the “newsworthy” cases. And the site has become a community resource…

    …covering every homicide allows me to collect data and build investigative projects that would take ten times as much effort as if I had started from scratch every time I wanted to know homicide comparisons by month, or location, or case outcome, etc. Basically, I collect information so I don’t have to spend time FOIAing…

    …most of my grief comes from trying to get recognition for the site. While the DC community has really fallen in love with the site, it’s taken a lot of effort to get those in the journalism community to see this as journalism…not just aggregation (which it’s largely not) or a blog (which it is, in part, but it’s really so much more). And we haven’t been able to get anyone in DC to see this as journalism worth funding. …

    I’m thrilled to be a part of the 2013 Nieman class at Harvard as an inaugural Nieman-Berkman fellow. I’ll be studying digital criminal justice reporting, and probably doing some work on how the concepts of Homicide Watch can apply to other types of reporting.

    No one in DC has agreed to take on Homicide Watch DC, so the future of the DC site is really up in the air. Without a news organization taking the lead on it, Chris and I are hoping to turn the project into a student reporting lab, using the platform to teach young journalists daily beat reporting, investigative and data journalism, and community management.

  • “We wanted to invent a space program that everyone could be a part of,” says founder John Powell. “With PongSats, we’re essentially taking 1,000 astronauts to space with us.”

  • Why’s Mitt still hiding his tax returns? Top 5 answers

  • Last week, Senate Republicans filibustered the DISCLOSE Act, which would have required super PACs to disclose their donors. Many liberals and Democrats were upset about the result, but Harvard Law professor and campaign finance activist Lawrence Lessig doubts it would have been that effective anyway.

  • Then, over the weekend, a series of stories — starting with the Observer, and moving on to Reuters and elsewhere — started writing about the trillions of dollars sitting in offshore bank accounts. All of them use the word “hidden” or its cognates, and all of them were based on a report from the Tax Justice Network (me neither), which is very long on hyperbole.

  • If they’re not attacking women’s health, then they could really enlighten us with an explanation of why the proposed legislation includes provisions that would

    * prevent Planned Parenthood from providing basic preventive health care, such as lifesaving cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, Pap tests and birth control;
    * eliminate funding for Title X Family Planning program, which ensures nearly five million low-income women receive the basic and preventive care they need;
    * limit women’s access to abortion by effectively banning private health insurance coverage for this procedure as part of the new health exchange programs; and
    * block implementation of the groundbreaking provisions of Obamacare.

    Beyond these extreme attacks, the proposal includes a revival of the famed Blunt amendment, which would allow your boss to deny any essential health care service (including coverage for birth control and cancer screenings) that they saw fit. It also increases funding for abstinence-only education, despite the fact that research has shown it’s ineffective in preventing teen pregnancy…

  • Believe it or not, one of the best resources to contextualize the recent online discussions of “coming out” about abortion…is a Wikipedia entry on Contact Theory. Back in 1954, psychologist Gordon Allport suggested that, under certain circumstances, contact between minority groups and majority groups could reduce stigma and prejudice between the groups. …

    It is simple…until you start to think of counter-examples. Many ethnic, racial and religious communities live in close contact with one another but still hold deep prejudices toward each other. Interacting with someone who is racially, religiously, experientially or ideologically different from ourselves, in person or indirectly through the media, might actually confirm stereotypes we hold about the folks who embody that difference. The fear that intergroup interactions might reinforce stigma and prejudice is called “stereotype threat,” and it can be a source of anxiety for people on both sides of the interaction. The truth is that contact is just as likely to produce disconnection as it is to facilitate connection.

    So how can we make the best use of social contact for destigmatizing abortion?

  • Reacting to cases like these, Soraya Chemaly at VitaminW provides 10 Tips for Staying out of Jail When You’re Pregnant, highlighting the absurdity of the actions pregnant women would have to take to avoid any possibility of endangering a fetus. For example: …

    Chemaly’s piece provides a lot of great links to examples where pregnant women with addictions, who ingested other harmful substances, who attempted suicide, or simply confided their doubts about a pregnancy to a healthcare provider have been subjected to investigation and prosecution.

    The National Advocates for Pregnant Women focuses much of their work on issues of this nature, such as prosecution of pregnant women with drug addictions, and is a good source to follow for further news and discussions. They have written on the Bei Bei Shuai case, and on women’s own personhood (which is often neglected in discussions of “fetal personhood” and related laws). …

    For additional reading, see the New York Times’s recent Magazine piece, The Criminalization of Bad Mothers.

  • When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, patent law was the last thing on my mind. Then again, I didn’t know that one company could have an exclusive right to the genetic information that could save my life.

    …Two genetic counselors and my oncologist all agreed that I should have what is known as a BRAC Analysis Rearrangement Test (BART), a BRCA genetic test performed by a company called Myriad Genetics.

    A mutation in either BRCA gene significantly increases the risk of developing ovarian cancer… Unfortunately, there are currently no effective methods of screening for ovarian cancer. I was advised that if I carried a mutation in either of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, I should undergo surgery to remove my ovaries. BRCA genetic testing was essential to determining my best course of treatment.

    Myriad is the only lab in the country that performs BRCA genetic testing, not because other labs lack the expertise to conduct testing, but because Myriad holds patents on the BRCA genes. Although my health insurance documented that it will cover the test, Myriad has chosen not to accept my insurance. Since I could not afford the nearly $4,000 cost of the test myself, I was left without the information I needed to make an informed decision about my medical care. …

    No woman should have to go without this test, or be prevented from getting a second opinion, because a corporation claims to own a piece of her DNA.

    tags: intellectual_property

  • Arizona will defer enforcement of a new law barring public family planning funding to organizations that provide abortion services, in order to give the state more time to respond to a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood…

  • Recent reports of forced abortion later in pregnancy in China have put the country’s one-child policy into the spotlight, prompting calls from policy advisers and scholars to change or repeal the population control law…

  • The full 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld a provision of a South Dakota abortion informed consent law that requires physicians to tell women that abortion increases the risk of suicide…

  • Since Nebraska became the first state to enact so-called “fetal pain” legislation in 2010, eight other states have passed similar laws outlawing abortion beginning around 20 weeks of pregnancy.

  • Anyone’s smartphone can caculate the shortest distance between two places and even recommend a route to avoid traffic along the way. But what about an app that helps prevent traffic jams before they begin? That’s the premise of Greenway, a new program for Windows Phone that plugs its users’ locations, destinations, and speeds into an algorithm to figure out where and when traffic jams are likely to occur. Then, it provides a route to steer cars away from those roads. The route is called, appopriately, the “Greenway,” and it’s optimized for traffic, time, and the amount of gas used based on data about where other drivers are headed at the same time.

    …The app is free to use, but users who select the Greenway route will pay a small fee for the insider information: five percent of the cost of fuel they’ll save by taking the Greenway, but never more than 30 cents per route. If it takes users longer than it should to get to their desintation, the information is on the house.

  • I use a lot of Creative Commons licensed images and usually find my images directly through Flickr’s CC search or using the CC Search webapp on the Creative Commons web site. Both of those methods have pluses and minuses but if you need to find CC images daily you may want to consider the Windows program CCFinder.

  • One of Harlem’s last surviving bookstores, known for hosting events with black authors as well as stocking its shelves with their work, has announced that it will close its storefront this month after 10 years of business. In an open letter, the staff of Hue-Man — whose tagline is “A SKU for every hue” — explained that they’re working on building “our amazing bookstore of the future,” with owner Martha Allen acknowledging, “The industry will be forced to reconcile the future place of ‘real books.’ “

    ColorLines’ Jasmine Johnson talked to her — and her customers — about the decision and her plans for Hue-Man’s next incarnation: …

  • Raspberry, a son of Mississippi schoolteachers, had worked at black newspapers and managed to snag a job as a Teletype operator at the Washington Post. As it happened with many of us, the black rebellions of the 1960s propelled his journalistic career when mainstream newspaper editors suddenly noticed that they had few, if any, black faces to send out to cover the riots. Raspberry used that foot in the door to become one of the first black columnists to reach a national audience (after Carl Rowan) and to win a well-deserved Pulitzer Prize for commentary.

    Raspberry was a member of the first generation of African-American journalists to barge into an exclusive all-white club. Forty years later, we find ourselves regularly recording the deaths, retirements or buyouts of black reporters who once made their mark on our journalistic institutions. The questions not often asked are these: What has been the impact of these departures? Is TV and print news better and more complete because of the legacy of black journalists?

    The pioneers of the 1960s — Thomas A. Johnson, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, C. Gerald Fraser and Earl Caldwell at the New York Times; Claude Lewis at the Philadelphia Bulletin; Ted Poston at the New York Post; Austin Scott at the Associated Press; Hal Walker at CBS News; and a handful of other “firsts” — brought new voices and new perspectives to the news. The civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s had been covered for the major media almost exclusively by white journalists, while black journalists had been largely limited to the black press.

    Once black reporters began penetrating the mainstream media, they enriched the dialogue by telling the story from the inside.

    tags: obituary

  • President Barack Obama walked a narrow line in his speech to the National Urban League convention in New Orleans Wednesday night, attempting to fire up his most enthusiastic base while giving his most rabid enemies as little ammo as possible to fire back at him.

    It was no easy task.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Of interest (Jul 23-25)

  • tags: photography

  • Do you miss the days of space shuttle launches? Do you want to see humans go back to the Moon, and even explore Mars, in your lifetime? Paul Hildebrandt does too. So he’s initiated a Kickstarter campaign to create Fight For Space: Exploring the Future of Manned Spaceflight, a documentary with a higher aim than just getting viewers.

    Fight For Space aims to capture of the magic of space exploration’s Apollo-era glory, and seed it in a new generation. You can check out a spectacular trailer for the documentary above.

    Fight for Space will feature Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye, NASA Astronaut Leroy Chiao, and Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI institute, as they make the case for United States-funded manned space flight and further exploration, amidst a dire backdrop of negligible political support, both in words and finances. One of the most damning scenes from trailer is from the Florida Republican Presidential Debate, as Mitt Romney declares: …

  • My first instinct was to look past today’s “Anglo Saxon” flap because it relied on an unnamed “advisor” — and that could mean just about anyone — being quoted in a conservative overseas newspaper.

    But as the day has progressed, the significance of the story has grown, and it’s getting harder to overlook. The UK’s Telegraph had this overnight report on Mitt Romney, who landed in London this morning, and his plan to improve U.S.-British relations. …

    Romney and his inner circle have dabbled in racially-charged language in a few instances, as we’ve seen of late with references to President Obama as “foreign” and talk of “free stuff.” But the subtext of this quote — in effect, Romney will be tighter with the UK because he’s white — is far more offensive. …

    There’s been no talk, as near as I can tell, of the campaign trying to find the source and/or firing him or her.

    …as of this afternoon, the Romney campaign has not asked the Telegraph for a retraction.

  • After just a few days of intense melting this month, nearly the entire of the surface of Greenland’s massive ice sheet had turned to slush, NASA images show — the fastest thaw rate since satellites began keeping score 30 years ago.

    It may be tempting to link the event to global warming, but scientists say such melts might occur every 150 years. If such rapid thaws become common, though, they could add to already rising seas, experts say…

  • Recently released satellite images from NASA show that, during the first half of July, Greenland’s surface ice melted more than at any other time since satellite records have been taken.

    Looking at NASA’s map, it appears that virtually every part of Greenland’s ice sheet experienced some degree of surface thaw. And in fact, the data suggests that about 97% of the surface area melted at some point in July. NASA notes that summer thaws are normal — but not on this scale. In fact, when the meltage data first started coming in, the scientists thought it was an error.

    tags: global_climate_change

  • Senators blinked in the political standoff over how much of the Bush-era tax cuts to extend for another year and voted Wednesday to keep current rates for people with incomes of less than $250,000.

    Tax rates would rise by 4 percent on incomes above $250,000 for couples and $200,000 for single filers. Popular breaks like the child tax credit would be preserved.

    The extension, passed on a vote of 51 to 48, represents a short-term win, at least, for President Barack Obama, who has been pushing for a similar plan.

  • Brad DeLong wrote this piece on the costs of long-term unemployment in 1997. (For my taste, he does not put enough emphasis on public jobs programs to bridge the gap and prevent people from becoming tainted by long-term unemployment in the first place. …)…

  • The author did something that in an ordinary world would be routine, but for the Black Elite Establishment unthinkable- she asked a victim’s rights expert to comment on the Genarlow Wilson case and the media coverage.

  • THIS MORNING Contents Magazine launched the beginning of something both good and important: a set of guidelines that could lead to a safer world for user-created content.

    Contents believes (and I agree) that products and services which make a business of our stuff—the photos, posts, and comments that we share on their platforms—need to treat our content like it matters. Not like junk that can be flushed the moment a product or service gets acquired or goes under.

  • Mortgage debtors aren’t shareholders, but it is fascinating to contrast their fates. In the dot-com bust, losses were assigned very quickly. In the housing bust, losses stick with the equivalent “equity” holder years and years out (and hang like an albatross around the neck of the economy as a whole). The losses that are allocated come about in large part through painful foreclosures, which create more losses by fire-selling assets into a weak marketplace. This system is designed to destroy all possible value and drag out the procedures in long, painful ways.

    Crucially, in the dot-com bust there weren’t the same moral and political arguments that we see in the current one. Economists who demand to know why U.S. mortgages don’t stay with people who walk away from their homes didn’t demand to know why the equity holders of Pets.com didn’t have to dip into their personal savings to pay off the losses creditors took. Very Serious People wonder if debtors’ prisons are necessary for homeowners who would walk away from a mortgage or view bankruptcy as an exit strategy, yet no Very Serious People called for the mass imprisonment of Webvan or Flooz shareholders after those firms declared bankruptcy as an exit strategy. …

    When it comes to assigning losses among elite financial institutions, like shareholders and creditors, there is a clean system in place to make sure that it runs efficiently without dragging the entire economy to a halt. When it comes to assigning losses between household mortgage debtors and elite financial creditors, we sit in a perpetual quasi-recession six years out.

  • tags: archaeology

  • “With local governments feeling directly threatened, some cities have put forth a bold solution: Governments should use eminent-domain powers to buy mortgages, impose losses on bondholders, and write down principal amounts owed by the borrower. The argument is pretty simple: Debt burdens and foreclosures are crushing our cities; private lenders are showing no willingness to renegotiate; and there are no meaningful attempts at the federal level to help. San Bernardino and Stockton are Exhibits A and B.

    “…Bondholders and other creditors are understandably furious at the violation of private contracts implied by the eminent- domain proposals. They shouldn’t be surprised, though. Everyone has a breaking point. Proposals to write down debt will become even more radical unless the private sector shows a greater willingness to renegotiate mortgages.”

    …Banks got plenty of help with their balance sheet problems based upon the “too big to fail” argument, but households didn’t get as much attention. Collectively, households are too big to fail as well, but we let them fail anyway and are now paying a much higher cost than if we’d done more to address household balance sheet problems early in the recession.

  • “Saying that her sister was a very private person, Bear Ride said, “People did not know she had pancreatic cancer, that’s going to be a huge shock. For 17 months, nobody knew — and everyone does now. Her memorial fund is going to be in support of pancreatic cancer.

    “The pancreatic cancer community is going to be absolutely thrilled that there’s now this advocate that they didn’t know about. And, I hope the GLBT community feels the same,” Bear Ride, who identifies as gay, said.

    “I hope it makes it easier for kids growing up gay that they know that another one of their heroes was like them,” she added.”

  • “It’s an urban legend that the government launched the Internet,” writes Gordon Crovitz in an opinion piece in today’s Wall Street Journal. …[he] implies that, if anything, government intervention gummed up the natural process of laissez faire innovation.

    But Crovitz’s story is based on a profound misunderstanding of not only history, but technology. Most egregiously, Crovitz seems to confuse the Internet — at heart, a set of protocols designed to allow far-flung computer networks to communicate with one another — with Ethernet, a protocol for connecting nearby computers into a local network. …

    He also manages to confuse the World Wide Web (incidentally, invented by Tim Berners Lee while working at CERN, a government-funded research laboratory) with hyperlinks, and an internet — a link between two computers — with THE Internet.

  • A key insight of behavioural economics is that people don’t always and everywhere re-optimise whenever their environments change. Instead, they will often – or even usually – make use of various rules of thumb and/or passively accept the default option. The costs of re-optimising every time you face something new don’t always offset the benefits from making what may be only a slightly better choice. This the idea behind ‘nudges': you can alter people’s behaviour by making minor changes to the frames in which people operate: if people have the habit of choosing the default option, then you can change choices by changing the default option.

    But this only works if the change is subtle enough to not attact the full, direct attention of the decision-maker. If the change is big enough, people will haul out the full artillery of their rational selves in order to try figure out what optimal decision is. This means that behavioural economics is unlikely to be of much use in policy-making.

    This is essentially the point of the Lucas Critique.

  • …for every maturity of bonds under 20 years, investors are paying the feds to take their money — and in the case of maturities of 10 years and under, paying a lot.

    What’s going on? Investor pessimism about prospects for the real economy, which makes the perceived safe haven of US debt attractive even at very low yields. And pretty obviously investors do consider US debt safe — there is no hint here of worries about the level of debt and deficits.

    Now, you might think that there would be a consensus that, even leaving Keynesian things aside, this is a really good time for the government to invest in infrastructure and stuff: money is free, the workers would otherwise be unemployed.

    But no: the Very Serious People have decided that the big problem is that Washington is borrowing too much, and that addressing this problem is the key to … something.

  • The truth is that many, and probably most, of the very rich don’t fit Fitzgerald’s description. There are plenty of very rich Americans who have a sense of perspective, who take pride in their achievements without believing that their success entitles them to live by different rules.

    But Mitt Romney, it seems, isn’t one of those people. And that discovery may be an even bigger issue than whatever is hidden in those tax returns he won’t release.

  • Why is the US selling Brazil two million gallons of ethanol at the same time it is importing more ethanol than that from Brazil?

  • No one can accuse the presidential campaign of ignoring the American economy or the plight of the middle class. Yet the scale and the complexity of the problem are typically lost amid the charged back-and-forth between President Obama and Mitt Romney.

    For the first time since the Great Depression, middle-class families have been losing ground for more than a decade. They, and the poor, have struggled particularly badly since the financial crisis led to a global recession in 2008. The idea that living standards inevitably improve from one generation to the next is under threat. Many of the bedrock assumptions of American culture — about work, progress, fairness and optimism — are being shaken. Arguably no question is more central to the country’s global standing than whether the economy will perform better in the future than it has in the recent past.

  • No one would seriously propose visiting a judge before a trial and offering a financial gratuity, or choice tickets to an athletic event, in exchange for special consideration from the bench. Yet no inside-the-Beltway hackles are raised when a legislative jurist — also known as a congressman — receives a campaign contribution even as he contemplates action on an issue of vital importance to the donor.

    During the years I was lobbying, I purveyed millions of my own and clients’ dollars to congressmen, especially at such decisive moments. I never contemplated that these payments were really just bribes, but they were. Like most dissembling Washington hacks, I viewed these payments as legitimate political contributions, expressions of my admiration of and fealty to the venerable statesman I needed to influence.

    Outside our capital city (and its ever-prosperous contiguous counties), the campaign contributions of special interests are rightly seen as nothing but bribes. The purposeful dissonance of the political class enables congressmen to accept donations and solemnly recite their real oath of office: My vote is not for sale for a mere contribution. They are wrong. Their votes are very much for sale, only they don’t wish to admit it. …

    Working with United Republic and legal experts such as Trevor Potter, I am engaged in a mighty effort to reverse the special interest tide in Washington. We are now drafting legislation that will make real, systemic changes to the campaign finance system…

  • She was a physicist, a Space Shuttle pioneer, a teacher, and one of those people who changes the lives of ordinary people in extraordinary ways.

    When I was a kid, Sally Ride was my astronaut. My parents’ generation loved Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, but I loved Sally Ride. … Because of women like Ride, I grew up in a world where female astronauts were not just fictional. I knew that women could go to space, and succeed there, because an ordinary scientist like Ride had done it. Because of Ride’s trip offworld, I saw the future differently than my mother did when she was young.

  • “I considered turning it into United, but simply didn’t trust them to do it,” he explains. “I was hoping it would have one of those remote camera utilities and I was going to tape my email address to the wall and aim the camera at it, but it didn’t seem to be configured to associate with an open wireless access point. It was never registered with Apple and they didn’t know the owner, but I opened a support case with my contact information inviting the owner to contact me so I can send it back. I called Verizon, but the MEID number was never registered.” …

  • Mitt Romney isn’t alone. The world’s wealthiest citizens have socked away a mind-blowing amount of money in offshore tax havens: Likely around $21 trillion, but as much as $32 trillion. That’s according to a new report from the Tax Justice Network, a British think tank. To put that in perspective, the combined gross domestic products of the United States and Japan are around $21 trillion.

    This gargantuan stash of money belongs to fewer than 10 million people, and $9.8 trillion of it belongs to just 100,000 people, the Tax Justice Network estimates. Here’s where most of this loot is being stashed: …

    The three largest tax haven players are UBS, Credit Suisse, and Goldman Sachs.

  • Designer Matthew Olin unmasked the characters behind the typeface characters for his MFA thesis. Others include sans serif as Batman, slab serif as the Hulk, and handwriting as the Flash.

  • [Signika, Plastic Type, Sullivan, Corki, Bariol, Alegreya, Metropolis, Typometry, Tikal Sans Medium, Actor, Veneer Extras, Wayfinding Sans, Ranger, Poly, Adec, Frontage Outline, Andada, Blanch, Valentina, Sánchez, Erler Dingbats, Entypo Pictograms, Great Vibes, Arvo, Banda Free Regular, Edmondsans, Fenix, EB Garamond, Noticia Text, Lusitana, Cardo, Exo, NeoDeco, Bitter Regular]

    Type Connection
    A good relationship can be characterized as two people who fit together. Aura Seltzer adopted this idea for her game Type Connection, which was her MFA thesis project. In this game, you are a procurer who helps different typefaces mate with each other. Each typeface is a lonely character searching for love, and your job is to find its perfect partner. By playing the game, you not only explore type history, but also learn typographic terms, while learning how to pair typefaces.

  • A few weeks ago, Twitter added an option to search the tweets of only the people you follow. This is useful for several different reasons (try searching for [recent pop culture key phrase] to see what I mean) but for those who use Twitter primarily to find cool links to read/watch, it’s an unexpected gift. To view your Twitter stream filtered to include only tweets containing links, just do a search for “http”. Simple but powerful.

  • More than a decade has passed since Mitt Romney presided over the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, but the archival records from those games that were donated to the University of Utah to provide an unprecedented level of transparency about the historic event, remain off limits to the public. And some of the documents that may have shed the most light on Romney’s stewardship of the Games were likely destroyed by Salt Lake Olympic officials, ABC News has learned.

  • The Jim Henson Company will stop providing toys for the fast food chains kids meals because of Chick-fil-A’s anti-gay marriage stance.

    …The company behind the Muppets will donate the money it received from Chick-fil-A to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).

    tags: marriage_equality

  • Markets work when people can evaluate the prices and risks of different products, then pick the ones that work best for them. But when the terms of the deal are hidden, competition doesn’t work. And customers aren’t the only ones who are hurt.

  • Astronomers have discovered a three-armed spiral galaxy dating back nearly 11 billion years — much older than similarly structured objects that are common in the modern universe.

    The discovery was so jarring, scientists at first didn’t believe their data.

    “Our first thought was that we must have the wrong distance for the galaxy,” lead researcher David Law, with the University of Toronto, told Discovery News.

    “Then we thought perhaps it was the human brain playing tricks on us. If you look at enough blobby, weird-looking galaxies sooner or later, like a Rorschach blob test, you start to pick out patterns whether or not they’re there,” Law said. …

    “It was shocking,” said astronomer Alice Shapley, with the University of California, Los Angeles. “At redshift 2, where we found this galaxy, there hadn’t been any other spirals or any other rotating disk galaxies found. We don’t know of any other samples like this.”

    Most galaxies dating back to redshift 2, a cosmic yardstick that equates to about 10.7 billion years old, look lumpy and irregular, without symmetry.

    “They’re kind of like train wrecks,” Shapley told Discovery News.

  • “We have understood for some time that children and adults in the United States are increasingly spending more time in front of televisions and in other sedentary activities such as playing computer games, using computers and texting on cell phones,” said Ng, who is the study’s senior author. “This study shows that the same shifts have also occurred in China, India, Brazil and the United Kingdom. In fact, we find adults in the U.K. are more sedentary than those in the U.S.”

    Popkin noted that the introduction of home technology that includes rice cookers, refrigerators, stoves, washing machines and microwaves is global, reducing the time traditionally spent producing food and completing housework. Similar technological changes have led to less walking, more use of cars and buses, and in general, have lowered activity spent in travel across the world.

    Historically, Ng said, adults have been most active in their jobs. Now, she says, “whether you live in China, India or the U.S., computers and many forms of automation remove physical exertion at work. Changes in the types of work people do have greatly reduced our overall activity levels over the past half-century.”

  • Last month a prehistoric tooth protruding from a boulder tipped off researchers to hidden evolutionary treasure: remarkably complete human-ancestor fossils trapped in a rock that had been sitting in their lab for years.

    Scans later showed that the rock contains two-million-year-old fossils that will “almost certainly” make one Australopithecus sediba specimen “the most complete early human ancestor skeleton ever discovered,” anthropologist Lee Berger said in a statement Thursday.

  • The primitive men, who became extinct about 30,000 years ago after human ancestors arrived in Europe from Africa, were presumed to have spent most of their time hunting prey.

    But a new study suggests that their daily lives were in fact much more mundane, with tedious tasks like processing animal skins to make clothing accounting for several hours of each day.

    Researchers from Cambridge University came to their conclusion after studying possible causes for the overdevelopment of the right arm bones which is common among Neanderthal skeletons.

  • Neanderthals have long been viewed as meat-eaters. The vision of them as inflexible carnivores has even been used to suggest that they went extinct around 25,000 years ago as a result of food scarcity, whereas omnivorous humans were able to survive. But evidence is mounting that plants were important to Neanderthal diets — and now a study reveals that those plants were roasted, and may have been used medicinally.

    The finding comes from the El Sidrón Cave in northern Spain, where the roughly 50,000-year-old skeletal remains of at least 13 Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) have been discovered. Many of these individuals had calcified layers of plaque on their teeth. Karen Hardy, an anthropologist at the Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain, wondered whether it might be possible to use this plaque to take a closer look at the Neanderthal menu.

    Using plaque to work out the diets of ancient animals is not entirely new, but Hardy has gone further by looking for organic compounds in the plaque.

    tags: archaeology

  • In archaeological excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority is conducting at the foot of Akko’s southern seawall, installations were exposed that belong to a harbor that was operating in the city already in the Hellenistic period (third-second centuries BCE) and was the most important port in Israel at that time.

  • The findings may seem counterintuitive, Graffin said, because Republicans tend to be anti-tax and Democrats tend to be in favor of more corporate taxes. But while Republican-leaning CEOs may be anti-tax, they’re also risk-averse, meaning they’re less likely to try certain tax-evasion strategies.

    In fact, the longer a CEO stays at the head of a company, the more the company begins to reflect the CEO’s personal political leanings through its tax strategies, Graffin said.

    The findings hold when a new CEO with a different political affiliation takes over.

    “We studied CEO turnover and found that when a firm has a Republican CEO step down and hires a Democrat, the tax position actually changes to become less risk-averse, and vice-versa,” Graffin said.

  • Iron Age Britons were importing olives from the Mediterranean a century before the Romans arrived with their exotic tastes in food, say archaeologists who have discovered a single olive stone from an excavation of an Iron Age well at at Silchester in Hampshire.

    The stone came from a layer securely dated to the first century BC, making it the earliest ever found in Britain – but since nobody ever went to the trouble of importing one olive, there must be more, rotted beyond recognition or still buried.

    The stone, combined with earlier finds of seasoning herbs such as coriander, dill and celery, all previously believed to have arrived with the Romans, suggests a diet at Silchester that would be familiar in any high street pizza restaurant. …

    Fulford now believes that the town was at its height a century before the Roman invasion in 43AD, with regularly planned, paved streets, drainage, shops, houses and workshops, trading across the continent for luxury imports of food, household goods and jewellery, enjoying a lifestyle in Britain that, previously, was believed to have arrived with the Romans.

  • The Three Kingdoms period is one of the most celebrated periods of Chinese history. It saw the end of the 400-year-long Han Dynasty and the emergence of the kingdoms of Wei, Wu and Shu.

    There are frequent references to it in popular culture. A 14th-century historical novel called “Romance of the Three Kingdoms” is considered one of the most popular works ever written in Chinese. Also movies like “Red Cliff” and a series of video games produced by Koei have brought this period further attention in both China and the West.

    tags: archaeology

  • “These people were able to use their land and water resources in a sustainable manner for as long as 1,500 years without significant interruption,” said study researcher Vernon Scarborough, an anthropologist at the University of Cincinnati.

  • A temple built 1600 years ago to honour a Mayan king by streaming sunlight around his tomb is being excavated in the dense forests of Guatemala.

  • The archeological work took place this June as a precautionary step before the County of Santa Barbara — which owns the building — installed the shaft for a new elevator. That area along the waterfront was once the site of Syuxtun, a major Chumash community for about 1,000 years with about 500 people in its prime, so UCSB archeologist and anthropology professor Lynn Gamble was hired to ensure no significant historical remains would be disturbed. Gamble, overseeing a team of UCSB students, dug three holes about five feet deep. The UCSB crew dug up 397 shell and glass beads, nine arrow tips, 27 fish hooks, a few bead drills, many stone tools, a bone hairpiece, and the bones of countless fish, sea mammals, and even a giant whale vertebra that Gamble suggested might have been used as a stool.

    But when Gamble’s team stumbled on what was clearly a human mandible, she said the Chumash on-site monitor was immediately notified and the exploration brought to a halt. The human bones were quickly reburied and no tests done to determine the age.

    …the report has yet to be written because much work and analysis still needs to be done. She said she was struck by the richness of material uncovered from so small an area, but given that the village of Syuxtun probably functioned as the Chumash capital for a coastal stretch ranging from Santa Barbara to Pt. Concepcion, it was not that surprising. Archeologists in 1927 reported finding the remains of 300 bodies nearby, and in 1969, the remnants of a large house or sweat lodge was unearthed.

    Gamble said some of the materials used to make the shell beads and arrowheads came from long distances away, reflecting the extensive trading and sophisticated economic activity undertaken by the Chumash.

    tags: california archaeology

  • Archeologists said Friday they have discovered a tomb about 1,200 years old, from the pre-Inca Sican era, in northern Peru.

  • Most all of us are familiar with the three most common allotropes of carbon: graphite, diamond, and amorphous carbon. But there are more! Graphine, the fullerines, and others are known, and there are some not yet observed that theory predict. Let us examine materials that consist of only pure, or as pure as feasible, carbon.

  • The following sites are kid tested and approved (by my two kids ages 9 and 17). Some require registration to access everything, but all of them are free. …

    Cool Math Games This site is mostly geared to elementary and early middle school kids. It contains fun math games ranging from shapes to addition to multiplication to fractions and decimals. It also has an age 3-5 area. …

    [Math, reading, science, social studies, cooking, crafts.]

    tags: education

  • Last month, we introduced our first findings of our 2012 WOMEN VOTE! Research, where we learned that women do not believe Washington is working for families like theirs. And now, we‘re back with more research that we think you’ll find fascinating.

    This is a survey of 950 likely independent female voters in 13 of EMILY’s List battleground states: Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida.

    Throughout this whole election cycle, we’ve heard a lot about how much women’s votes will matter. And it’s true. In 2008, women were 53% of all voters. And since women don’t vote as one predictable entity, it’s important for candidates to connect with them on as many levels as they can. …

    What does all this research jargon mean? Women are very concerned about policies that affect jobs, finances, retirement, health care, education. And they’re seeing Democrats (and especially women candidates!) as the elected officials who will fight for policies that support them and their families.

  • Chris Donovan begins his new TV ad for Congress saying: “These days, some people are afraid to be called liberal or progressive.”

    He then proudly embraces unions, taxing the rich, and other progressive priorities. When candidates campaign this boldly, they deserve our support. …

    Last week, it was announced that a new SUPER PAC will try to buy this election. It is funded by 5 millionaires — including a major DC lobbyist who is the father of one of Chris’s opponents.

  • But the ex-gay movement has been convulsed as the leader of Exodus, in a series of public statements and a speech to the group’s annual meeting last week, renounced some of the movement’s core beliefs. Alan Chambers, 40, the president, declared that there was no cure for homosexuality and that “reparative therapy” offered false hopes to gays and could even be harmful. His statements have led to charges of heresy and a growing schism within the network.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Of interest (July 20)

  • Stack ranking is controversial for a number of reasons but our particular bugbear is that it is an example of the broader misunderstanding and misuse of statistics that is endemic in many organisations. …

    Stack ranking is a performance measurement system that, in Vanity Fair’s words, “forces every unit to declare a certain percentage of employees as top performers, good performers, average, and poor.”

    …the stack ranking methodology is wrong because:

    * It is often propagated through organisations by being applied at the level of each team, and for small or even medium-sized teams (say, below 25), a team is a statistically invalid sample. …

  • …study after study predicts that carbon emissions will keep growing by roughly three percent a year – and at that rate, we’ll blow through our 565-gigaton allowance in 16 years, around the time today’s preschoolers will be graduating from high school. “The new data provide further evidence that the door to a two-degree trajectory is about to close …When I look at this data, the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of about six degrees.” That’s almost 11 degrees Fahrenheit, which would create a planet straight out of science fiction. …

    Think of two degrees Celsius as the legal drinking limit – equivalent to the 0.08 blood-alcohol level below which you might get away with driving home. The 565 gigatons is how many drinks you could have and still stay below that limit – the six beers, say, you might consume in an evening. And the 2,795 gigatons? That’s the three 12-packs the fossil-fuel industry has on the table, already opened and ready to pour. …

    Germany is one of the only big countries that has actually tried hard to change its energy mix; on one sunny Saturday in late May, that northern-latitude nation generated nearly half its power from solar panels within its borders. That’s a small miracle – and it demonstrates that we have the technology to solve our problems. …

    The numbers are simply staggering – [the fossil-fuel] industry, and this industry alone, holds the power to change the physics and chemistry of our planet, and they’re planning to use it.

  • …few people — lay or professional — take the concept very seriously anymore. But University of Connecticut Professor Dr. Ronald Mallett still believes, and he has sought to realize his dream of making time travel possible in this century by infiltrating the scientific profession, becoming a respected theoretical physicist, then braving the ridicule and opprobrium, or at least disagreement, of his colleagues to begin work on a time machine. …

    Since coming out, so to speak, as a proponent of time travel, Mallett published a memoir in 2006, Time Traveler: A Scientist’s Personal Mission to Make Time Travel a Reality. It’s both a description of his fifty years of scientific work toward his project Space-time Twisting by Light (STL) and a moving personal narrative of growing up under segregation, losing his father at a young age, and becoming one of the first African American theoretical physicists. Spike Lee has acquired the film rights to his memoir (though the project seems to be stalled), and Mallett has told his story on This American Life, CNN, and in speaking tours around the country. …

    The video comes from a new series from THNKR called EPIPHANY, a “daily series inviting impassioned thought leaders across all disciplines to reveal the innovative, the improbable, and the unexpected of their worlds.” Each week is devoted to a new “thought leader.” …

    Another online source for information, the Cassiopeia Project, claims to “make science simple.” In the video below, learn the basics of time travel and special relativity.

    tags: video science

  • I spent a bit of time researching B-corps when I was writing my Wired story on the problem with IPOs, and I think that B-corps are actually much more interesting than Stevenson is giving them credit for. The whole point of a B-corp, as I see it, is that you can go public, or lever yourself up in search of rapid growth, or give your employees lucrative stock options — you can generally behave just like all those money-chomping red-blooded capitalists, while also giving yourself a lot of freedom to do things like save the planet and ignore pesky shareholders agitating for explosive and infinite growth.

    B-corps—Maryland was the first to charter them in 2010—can still have public shareholders, dividends, stock offerings, and all the other tools in the modern financial arsenal. But unlike other public companies, whose sole legal duty is to maximize profits for shareholders, executives at B-corps are also required to consider nonfinancial interests when they make decisions. Indeed, the company has to create a material positive impact on society and the environment.

    That has the potential to rewire one of the most dangerous things about being a public company today: the requirement to keep growing, no matter what.

  • “Farther” refers to a physical distance, while “further” refers to a figurative distance. So, when wondering how many more miles or kilometers to a particular destination, you’d say, “How much farther to the gas station?” On the other hand… “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

  • Woody Guthrie was born on July 14, 1912, 100 years ago today. On the manuscript of “This Land Is Your Land” submitted to the US Copyright Office, he wrote: “This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright #154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don’t give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that’s all we wanted to do.”

  • We’ve talked about The Author’s Big Mistake here before. The Author’s Big Mistake is replying in any way whatsoever to a bad review. The term seems to have been coined by Paul Fussell. And really-o, truly-o, pay attention to this. Do not make the Author’s Big Mistake.

    [This is about an ABM, but it’s an ABM with bullying. With a whiff of internet misogyny. -L]

  • Business school professor Luigi Zingales, with the full agreement of fellow business-school professor Justin Wolfers, has an important op-ed under a provocative headline: “Do Business Schools Incubate Criminals?”

    Zingales’s point is a good one: that the way business-school students study ethics is much like the way that entomologists study ants. Quite aside from the fact that ethics courses are generally taught by relatively junior professors, they also tend to shy away from actually telling students to be ethical: …

  • Back in March, Brad and I wrote a post entitled “Romney’s and Obama’s tax plans, in one chart.” Here’s the chart: …

    Naomi Robbins, who specializes in good graphs, says there’s a problem with that chart. …

  • Work with Kanzi and his fellow bonobos has taken our appreciation of ape language to a new level. Interestingly, Kanzi was never taught to use human language: He acquired it as children do, by being exposed to it. The process began when he was only 6 months old, while researchers were trying to teach lexigrams to his mother, Matata, a bonobo who had been raised in the wild. Baby Kanzi always accompanied Matata during her training sessions and so was in the perfect position to eavesdrop.

    For two years, nobody suspected that Kanzi was paying even the slightest attention to the lexigram training, although he clearly liked the lights on the keyboard and the blinking projections above. It was only when Matata was taken away for a few weeks for breeding that researchers discovered how much Kanzi had picked up. After searching in vain for his mother, he spontaneously began using her keyboard to communicate with his caretakers. What is more, he understood the spoken words that the lexigrams represented, and he could locate their representations on the keyboard.

    That event marked a paradigm shift in ape language studies. Previously, researchers had worked from a behaviorist psychology tradition, which held that mental events are products of reinforced training. So a scientist would show a chimp an apple, say “apple,” and then make the sign for the word apple. If the chimp signed back with apple, he’d be rewarded with an apple. Kanzi showed us that bonobos don’t really learn language that way; neither, of course, do people. …

    What we now believe is that language, rather than being a uniquely human trait, is something other species can develop to varying degrees under the right circumstances — not to our level of sophistication but certainly to the point where we can communicate intelligently with them.

  • Steven Cherry: Now, you said that while there isn’t a skills gap, there is indeed a training gap…

    Peter Cappelli: Yes, and I’d say that’s a big problem for public policy, because what every employer says they want, and if you look at the surveys of hiring managers, it’s clear they want people with experience. There’s not a shortage of people coming out of college bright and ambitious. There’s a shortage of people who have done the job before, and in many fields you can’t easily learn this stuff in a classroom. You can’t learn to be a surgeon in a classroom. We know that. You can’t really learn to be a carpenter in a classroom. We know that. You can’t learn to be a machinist. It’s hard to learn to be a manager in a classroom. I mean, MBA degrees are great, but to be a good manager, you have to be able to have tried this stuff out and had the experience of doing it. So the shortfall is in giving people experience, taking people out of school who are bright and capable, and giving them the basics and getting them up to speed in these work-based skills. And the problem is, employers a generation ago used to do this routinely; now, virtually none of them are willing to do it.

    …it’s kind of bizarre if you think about it: if you were, say, a computer company, and you had a product that was all based on this particular chip. You didn’t build the chip yourself. You were expecting to buy it on the outside, and your expectation was just that you’ll be able, as soon as you’re ready, to buy this chip on the outside in the quantity you want at the price you want to pay. You’re just expecting the market will kick it up to you, and that’s pretty much what happens with labor, right? …your board of directors would probably fire you for terrible risk management, but when it comes to skills and employees, it seems to be kind of a standard practice.

  • Everything went down so fast it’s easy to forget how the spread of Occupy was, itself, a minor miracle. It was planned and executed by a small group of self-identified anarchists, many of them veterans of the anti-globalization movement of the late Nineties who hoped to disrupt, and eventually upend, capitalist dominance over all aspects of society, and who now suddenly found themselves with a worldwide audience. …

    The tents went up at a moment of wholesale institutional malaise, three years into a grinding recession, when it was becoming apparent to millions of Americans that even the minimal sops doled out to the middle class and its aspirants – school, home, pension, the occasional vacation or doctor’s visit – required indentureship to a financial system whose primary function was to serve as the house bank for the oligarchy’s private casino. …

    The NYPD, in particular, has taken to treating protesters like suspected terrorists, conducting surveillance on prominent Occupiers. The morning before the general strike, police raided the homes of several New York-area anarchists who’d participated in past Occupy actions, under the flimsiest of pretexts – in one case, an open-container violation that was several years old. There’s also been legal harassment: Occupy protesters at the University of California-Davis whose blockade led to the closing of a U.S. Bank branch could, outrageously, be ordered to pay over $1 million in damages to the bank, while New York’s district attorney has been granted the power to subpoena the Twitter feeds of activists. …

    The end result – certainly no accident – was that a widely popular protest movement no longer focused on the venality of Wall Street, a point most of us could agree upon. Instead, Occupy would become, in many respects, a protest about its own right to protest – valid, of course, but also a muddying of the message, and one with a less broadly populist appeal.

    One of the most vivid examples of the police crackdown took place on the six-month anniversary of Occupy, which happened to fall on an unseasonably warm Saturday in March. It was also St. Patrick’s Day, and Zuccotti Park might have been the only public place in Manhattan in which there was no danger of stepping in a puddle of green vomit … About 700 people had gathered in the park to celebrate, and by evening, a festive, decidedly mellow air had fallen over the place. …

    The fact that a phalanx of police officers were assembled just outside the park lent the party an extra frisson. It was telling that, on a holiday dedicated to public drunkenness, the NYPD saw fit to dedicate a significant number of its officers to surrounding a bunch of sober, law-abiding citizens hanging out in a public space.

    …Such a clear-cut victory provides one obvious way forward for Occupy: continued direct actions targeting corporate malfeasance, working in conjunction with existing activist groups. Indeed, around the country, Occupy groups have been staging actions at corporate shareholders’ meetings, reclaiming foreclosed homes from banks and organizing on college campuses in opposition to onerous student loans. …

    What’s also obvious is that this phase of Occupy, with talk of credit unions and occupying the SEC, while eminently worthy, is also kind of boring, especially when compared to the thrill of Occupy’s park phase. Some, though, are ready to move on. “It’s easy to go back to the park occupation and fetishize it, in a way,” says Occupy Chicago’s Brian Bean. “I prefer not to run a mini-society – I want to run society.”

  • In the final years of the Bush administration, Olbermann has transformed liberal anger into a smirk, a feeling of superiority over the dorks and freaks and clown who run Washington. But what makes Olbermann’s introduction of Palin arresting, in retrospect, is not his patronizing tone, but the woman who is waiting to speak, on a splitscreen: Rachel Maddow, a 35-year-old radio host who is about to debut her own show on MSNBC, and who will eventually take over for Olbermann as the face of the network.

    From the start, Maddow’s brand is not so much out lesbian or angry liberal, but full-on nerd: the chunky black glasses, the flailing limbs. She doesn’t seem to care much about the question that Olbermann has fixed on: So just who is Sarah Palin? “We don’t know very much about Governor Palin,” Maddow says… she moves on to what really interests her: not politics as personality but politics as mechanism, not who is winning power but what is being done with it.

    …If you view politics as Olbermann does, as a kind of absurdist theater, then this is a gaffe, a sign of Palin’s naiveté and unreadiness. If you view things as Maddow does, then it indicates something deeper, a fissure in the base of Republican ideology, a contradiction cracking open behind the presumption of power.

    …The tricky part is knowing what to do about the lie. Chris Matthews would erupt in thunderous outrage; Keith Olbermann would dissolve into a knowing sneer. But Maddow’s skills are different: She strives …to distance herself from the partisan debate rather than engage it, to steward progressive fury into a world of certainty, of charts, graphs, statistics, a real world that matters and that the political debate can’t corrupt. …What Maddow is trying to build is a different channel for liberal anger, an outsider’s channel, one that steers the viewer’s attention away from the theater of politics and toward the exercise of power, which is to say toward policy. …

    In Michigan, the Republican governor has appointed emergency financial managers to take over the affairs of some of the state’s most debt-ridden towns, many of them heavily African-American. The managers, in several cases, have turned into tyrants, selling off public assets to the private sector. … (“We believe in voting!” one citizen thunders during a town hall.) No one else is talking about Michigan, which makes it a perfect Maddow segment, one that will give her audience a glimpse of the secret workings of power, of a violation of rights. …

    “It’s really important that in the top third of the segment you don’t say ‘Khalid Sheikh Mohammed,’ or ‘military tribunal,’ or ‘Guantánamo,'” Maddow says. “Because as soon as you say those things, people think they know what the story is. If you don’t edit mercilessly to keep out all of the words that make people leap to conclusions about what you’re going to say, you’ll never persuade people that you’re going to tell them something they don’t already know. So you have to be, like, totally on.”

    …”If we are promising to stay involved [in Afghanistan] through 2024,” she says, “that means, frankly, that there is a six-year-old somewhere in America today who will be spending 2024 in Kandahar.” It’s a classic Maddow moment, one that draws her audience’s eye away from the debate, away from Washington, and back into the country. What matters is not how the speech helped Obama politically, or what Romney said in response, but the six-year-old boy somewhere in America, his orders already stamped.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Of interest (July 19-20)

  • What happened to the plans for a revival of the Occupy Wall Street movement after a winter in which most domestic Occupy encampments were dislodged by police actions and, typically, prohibited from regrouping in ostensibly public venues? …

    In any circle, there’s no real doubt that the Occupy Wall Street movement had has an enormous impact on our society by cementing the issue of wealth disparity into American political discourse.

    …The Occupy movement may not currently have much of an impact in some arenas of political life, but it has the ability to pop up with grassroots protests and direct actions—for example, at corporate shareholders’ meetings—to call attention to a broader political or economic issue.

  • The 1960 lunch-counter sit-ins in Greensboro, North Carolina hold an honored place in U.S. history. This campaign had an impact far beyond the concrete success it achieved in ending the policy of racial segregation in Woolworth’s department stores across the southern United States. …

    The Greensboro sit-ins, though, were not the first ones.

    …not all sit-ins were part of strategic campaigns supported by large organizations. Two years before Greensboro, a handful of students in Wichita, Kansas — including Carol Parks-Haun and her cousin Ron Walters — decided to challenge the discriminatory policies of the downtown Dockum Drug Store where, like many other establishments throughout the city and across the South, African-Americans were prevented from sitting at its lunch counters. …

    All of the Dockum stores in Kansas were eventually desegregated, while the successful sit-in at Oklahoma City’s Katz Drug Store helped spread this tactic. Despite these consequences, though, the story of the Dockum sit-ins went largely unnoticed: …

    In spite of this gradual recovery of the memory of this sit-in, its relative disappearance over decades raises many tantalizing questions about our collective memory. Why are some acts of nonviolent resistance remembered and why are others less so?

    tags: history

  • The bombing of Guernica was the first complete destruction by aerial bombardment of a civilian city in European history. While homes and shops were destroyed, several arms-manufacturing facilities, along with a key bridge and the rail line, were left intact. …

    Luis was 14 and working as an assistant at a local bank when Guernica was bombed. It was market day, so the town was full, the market square packed with people and animals. The bombing started at 4:30 p.m. on April 26, 1937. Luis recalled: “It went on and on for three and a half hours. When the bombing ended, I left the shelter and I saw all of the town burning. Everything was on fire.”

    tags: history

  • Members of Occupy LA say that 100% of the people that the LAPD injured with ‘less-than-lethal’ weapons are not active members of their group and nearly 90% of the people arrested by LAPD Thursday night were non-occupiers.

    Occupiers claim that only two of the 17 or more arrests made by LAPD were of occupiers and the rest were downtown artwalkers.

  • Josh Rogin recently tried to find out what Mitt Romney’s position is on U.S. policy in Afghanistan. It didn’t go well.

  • …this long piece that just went up at Rolling Stone tries to distill what we now know about climate change into 3 numbers

    1) 2 degrees C–that’s what the world’s nations (even oil states) have agreed is the most we can possibly let temps rise. It’s actually too high–but it is the one thing about climate change that the world has agreed on

    2) 565 gigatons co2–that’s roughly how much more carbon we can pour into the atmosphere between now and 2050 and have a reasonable chance of staying below 2 degrees. It’s not much–we burn about 30 gigatons a year, and growing, so at current rates would go by in 16 years

    3) 2795 gigatons co2. This is the really scary number. It’s how much carbon the fossil fuel industry (and the countries that operate like fossil fuel companies) have already in their reserves. The stuff that props up their share price, lets them borrow money. The stuff they’re committed to burning.

    What that means is: we now know for certain that the stated business plans of this industry will wreck the planet. It’s not even close–they’re planning to burn 5 x the carbon that any sane scientist sets as the absolute upper limit.

    So stopping them doesn’t mean gradual shifts in trajectory. It means taking on this industry with at least as much vigor as we took on companies that did business with apartheid South Africa.

    We’ll be announcing plans at 350.org to do just that. But for the moment, I’d be most grateful if people could read and share the Rolling Stone piece, and provide feedback. Warning: it’s long. (Even longer than the Justin Bieber profile in the same issue)

    thanks much–bill

    tags: global_climate_change

  • The Viking Age in Ireland began in 795 when the Viking sea kings pillaged the Christian monasteries on the island’s west coast. By 830, the Viking raids in Ireland began to change. Instead of small mobile groups, the raiders were now coming in large fleets. In 838, a large Viking fleet under the Norwegian sea king Turgeis (Thorgils) entered the River Liffey and established a land base for their operations. By 840, the Vikings were spending the winter on the island and establishing permanent bases along the coasts. …

    Dublin was actually founded twice by the Vikings: first it was founded as a longphort or trading base and then about 917 it was founded as a defended town or din. Irish urbanization begins with the Vikings who brought with them the idea of towns—the beginning of urbanization—from England.

    …Some wealthy Vikings were buried inside a ship with belongings such as horses, furniture, and even servants (it appears that servants may have been killed so that they could accompany their masters).

    The Viking burials in Ireland suggest that the Hiberno-Norse settlement tended to be urban rather than rural: 80% of the known Scandinavian-style burials come from within 5 kilometers of Dublin. …

    Slavery, as shown in the diorama above, was an important part of the Viking economy. The Vikings often sold Irish slaves in Muslim countries. …

    The actual Vikings did not, of course, wear horned helmets. The written descriptions of the Viking raids come to us from literate Christians who were the target of these raids. While the Vikings raided the monasteries because that is where the loot was, the early Christians characterized the raids as a form of religious persecution by the pagan Vikings whom they characterized as devils. Since the devil was often visualized by Christians as having horns, so too the Viking raiders must have had horns.

    tags: history

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Of Interest (July 18-19)

  • Tosh’s defenders are pulling out all the standard lines: It was just a joke. Can’t you take a joke? Damn humorless feminists! That’s what comedy’s all about! It’s edgy! You can’t criticize a comedian because then you’re just the thought police oppressing that comedian’s First Amendment right to tell a woman she should be raped — but, you know, as a joke.

  • Riot police formed skirmish lines in the streets of downtown Los Angeles Thursday night in response to what appeared to be a demonstration over the right to draw with chalk…

    Several people were arrested, said LAPD Officer Karen Rayner to HuffPost, although she couldn’t confirm the exact number. When asked if drawing on the ground with chalk is illegal, Rayner said, “It’s not vandalism because it’s not permanent, but I don’t really know.”…

    [Also: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/07/13/1109740/-We-Have-Chalk-They-Have-Guns-Tell-Me-Who-Are-The-Violent-Ones ]

  • This equation neatly sums up our current understanding of fundamental particles and forces. It represents mathematically what we call the standard model of particle physics. …

    The Einstein field equations in Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity describe the fundamental interaction of gravitation as a result of spacetime being curved by matter and energy.

    Maxwell’s equations are a set of partial differential equations that form the foundation of classical electrodynamics, classical optics, and electric circuits.

    General form of Schrodinger’s equation, the basis of quantum mechanics. The Schrödinger equation describes how the quantum state of a physical system changes with time.

    tags: physics

  • Both of my children expressed an interest in the natural sciences at a young age so I had a feeling that math would end up being an important subject for them both. Math is also a subject that lots of young children hate. I didn’t want my kids to hate it too. For this reason, I decided to introduce as much math as I could through games rather than through textbooks and worksheets. I wanted to make it both meaningful and fun. …

    Teaching Living Math with young children is easy and most of us do it without thinking. We count the steps as we hold our 2 year olds hand; we sing counting songs; we cut cookies in half and pizzas in eighths. …If you start talking about math while they are this young, it won’t seem so strange when you need to talk about how to multiply fractions…

    Providing math stimulation for young kids is pretty easy – for example, an egg carton and some buttons can provide tons of entertainment while helping kids learn how to count, how to build patterns, how to discover patterns, how to differentiate size, how to organize pieces.

  • …the sordid tale of Mitt’s tenure on the board of Damon Clinical Laboratories, which plead guilty to charges of defrauding Medicare and agreed to pay what was at the time the largest health care criminal fraud fine in history – $35,300,000. They also agreed to larger civil fines which totaled $83,700,000. …

    So – Bain invests in a company. Mitt gets personally involved with managing said company. Company profits are significantly based upon Medicare Fraud. Bain & Romney never uncover the fraud in 4 years, Corning uncovers it immediately upon buying Damon. Despite the fraud, Bain triples its investment, and Romney’s share of that profit is a cool half a million.

    Damon laid off workers despite Mitt Romney serving on the board and the strategic planning committee. Despite the failure of the business model to generate new jobs, Bain Capital tripled its investment, and Romney himself made nearly half a million dollars. Rampant fraud was supporting earnings, yet Romney was not able to notice.

    How, exactly, does this demonstrate a knowledge of how to create jobs as President?

  • The song and video sprang from a conversation White had with Jasiri at Netroots Nation in June. Target: the stop-and-frisk laws of New York City, Philadelphia and some other large cities. These policies allow cops to stop, question and search anyone they think is suspicious. Proponents say such laws reduce crime by finding weapons, especially firearms. Foes argue that they encourage racial profiling and violate Fourth Amendment rights. Stop-and-frisk policies create an atmosphere of martial law and worsen tension between police and citizens. While authorities say police are looking for weapons, mostly firearms, critics have complained that an increase in misdemeanor marijuana arrests has accompanied the stop-and-frisk policy in New York.

    An analysis by the New York Civil Liberties Union found that people have been stopped, interrogated and patted down on the street in New York City more than four million times in the decade since the policy was imposed. Nine out of 10 of those stopped and frisked have been completely innocent. And nine out of 10 have been African American or Latino.

  • House Democrats are preparing a bill that would require presidential candidates to release 10 years of tax returns, just for starters. The planned legislation would also require presidential candidates to disclose details of any offshore accounts or investments they had and disclose assets held by IRAs or 401(k) plans.

  • The possibility that Anonymous might be telling the truth — that it couldn’t be shut down by jailing or flipping or bribing key participants — was why it became such a terrifying force to powerful institutions worldwide, from governments to corporations to nonprofits. Its wild string of brilliant hacks and protests seemed impossible in the absence of some kind of defined organization. To hear the group and its defenders talk, the leaderless nature of Anonymous makes it a mystical, almost supernatural force, impossible not just to stop but to even comprehend. Anons were, they liked to claim, united as one and divided by zero — undefined and indefinable.

    In fact, the success of Anonymous without leaders is pretty easy to understand — if you forget everything you think you know about how organizations work.

  • It all started when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of new imaging instruments for cancer screening, despite some FDA scientists who thought that the machines produced excessive radiation. Five scientists blamed flaws in the review process, and began drafting complaints to other authorities, such as members of Congress and oversight committees. Worried that the employees were leaking information and undermining the FDA, officials began secret surveillance of the scientists’ government laptops, which they used both at work and at home. Spy software recorded keystrokes, snapped screen images, and copied personal e-mails and documents, including communications between the scientists and members of Congress, journalists, and lawyers. …

    One ironic part of the spy program was that it actually backfired in stanching the flow of information about cancer-screening devices. The government agency outsourced the data-handling to a contractor, which accidentally posted 80,000 pages of the scientists’ information on a public website.

  • In the last decade, seismic waves from earthquakes revealed the inner core looks like a navel orange, bulging slightly more on its western half. Geoscientists recently explainedthe asymmetry by proposing a convective loop: The inner core might be crystallizing on one half and melting on the other.

    Peter Olson and Renaud Deguen, geophysicists at Johns Hopkins University, set out to test this theory, called translational instability.

    tags: science

  • In 2008, a team of software coders inside the National Security Agency started reverse-engineering the database that ran Google.

    They closely followed the Google research paper describing BigTable — the sweeping database that underpinned many of the Google’s online services, running across tens of thousands of computer servers — but they also went a little further. In rebuilding this massive database, they beefed up the security. After all, this was the NSA. …

    But the NSA also saw the database as something that could improve security across the federal government — and beyond. Last September, the agency open sourced its Google mimic, releasing the code as the Accumulo project. It’s a common open source story — except that the Senate Armed Services Committee wants to put the brakes on the project.

    In a bill recently introduced on Capitol Hill, the committee questions whether Accumulo runs afoul of a government policy that prevents federal agencies from building their own software when they have access to commercial alternatives.

    …Accumulo is what’s commonly known as a “NoSQL” database. Unlike a traditional SQL relational database — which is designed to run on a single machine, storing data in neat rows and columns — a NoSQL database is meant for storing much larger amounts of data across a vast array of machines. These databases have become increasingly important in the internet age, as more and more data streams into modern businesses — and government agencies.

  • …a large number of the animals featured on O’Reilly [book covers] are threatened or critically endangered. We’ve always used colophons in the books as a way to tell readers about the animals. Now we want to use social media and the web to tell those same readers how they can contribute to helping the animals in real life.

    At OSCON this week, we’re launching the O’Reilly Animals campaign to raise awareness of the animals’ plight, with a special emphasis on the ways in which people and organizations are using technology to help save and restore endangered animal populations around the globe.

  • The research team, made up of geneticists from Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada and the University of California, repeatedly subjected test flies to a 20-minute mathematics training session. The flies were exposed to two, three or four flashes of light, with two or four flashes coinciding with a shake of the container the flies were kept in.

    Following a pause, the flies were again subjected to the flashing light. None prepared themselves for a repeat of the shake since they could not discern a difference between two, three or four flashes — until, that is, the 40th generation of descendants were put to the test.

    The findings back-up the theory that numerical skills such as mental arithmetic are ancient constructs. Some of the more unusual natural fans of numeracy include salamanders, newborn chicks and mongoose lemurs, all of which have demonstrated basic skills in the lab.

    The humble fruit fly — which has been a popular experimental tool for geneticists since the early 1900s, its brief life span making it evolve faster — is the first example of a test subject gaining the skills through directed evolution, however.

    tags: science

  • A Web design studio built the first news site I’ve ever read from top to bottom two days in a row, and it did so as a side project. …

    Evening Edition brings you today’s world news without push notifications. It has no streams or feeds. It doesn’t do [BREAKING] or [UPDATING]. It’s delivered by website to your device of choice every weekday at 5 p.m., and it’s just the right amount of reading for the subway ride from office to home.

    [ http://evening-edition.com/ ]

  • A gender and wage gap exists for women in media, a study released by Catalyst in July 2012 reports. The survey revealed that women were underrepresented in top management and governance positions in various media outfits around the world.

    Eastern Europe and Nordic Europe had the highest percentage of women in top management but at only 43.4 percent and 36.8 percent, respectively, these still lag behind the positions occupied by men.

  • It isn’t always easy to spot income inequality. The disparate distribution of money among a population based on race, gender and other factors could take place in your own neighborhood, and you may not even realize it. Even when college courses and movements, such as Occupy Wall Street, try to teach people about the subject, it still remains difficult to comprehend.

    On Google Maps, however, it’s pretty simple to see definitive lines of income inequality. And the tool can help us better understand how this inequality affects the integration of communities.

    Tim De Chant discovered this phenomenon last month. …

    De Chant found examples across the world — Rio de Janeiro, Houston, Chicago, Beijing — and took screenshots from Google that proved the forest cover-to-wealth correlation. In each pair of city images below, the first shot pictures an aerial view of the lower-income neighborhood, while the second depicts an area of higher wealth in the same city.

  • You need to make a ruckus. Don’t fall into the seductive trap of cynicism. That’s what the sellers of American democracy are counting on. If you give up on our system of government, they win everything.

    tags: plutocracy

  • The high unemployment rate ought to be a national emergency. There are millions of people in need of jobs. The lost income as a result of the recession totals hundreds of billions of dollars annually, and the longer the problem persists, the more permanent the damage becomes. …

    Republican policymakers give us all sorts of excuses for blocking further action to help the unemployed. We are told the problem is structural – there is a geographical or talent mismatch between labor availability and labor needs – and nothing can be done to help. But something can be done. We can help workers move to where the jobs are, encourage firms to locate in areas where workers are readily available, and help with job retraining. If mismatches are really the problem, why aren’t Republicans leading the charge on these policies? If they care about the unemployed rather than the tax burden of the wealthy, then why are they allowing community colleges – one of the best ways we have of providing job training for new and displaced workers – to be gutted with budget cuts?

  • There’s a tone of incredulity to the writings of Romney apologists. …After all, they say, wasn’t Romney just doing what has been standard for the past 30 years?

    Actually, we don’t know just how standard his behavior was — and won’t until we see his tax returns, which will probably never happen (there has to be something really explosive in there). In any case, however, the fact that we’ve had a Gordon Gekko economy for 30 years doesn’t make it OK.

    A couple more illustrations of what those 30 years involved. First, wage stagnation despite rising productivity: …

  • …[Obama is] questioning a system in which the financial sector has grown to an unprecedented share of the economy …

    So we’re hearing a lot of people — including some alleged progressives — declaring that you can’t criticize the way we’ve run our economy for the past 30 years. Why not? The metastasizing finance sector eventually led us into the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression; that seems reason enough to question the model.

  • …in the two-some years that followed [Sugar’s debut], she proceeded to deliver something tenfold punchier, more honest, more existentially profound than even such an intelligently irreverent promise could foretell. This week, all of Sugar’s no-bullshit, wholehearted wisdom on life’s trickiest contexts — sometimes the simplest, sometimes the most complex, always the most deeply human — is released in Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar (public library), along with several never-before-published columns, under Sugar’s real name: Cheryl Strayed. …

  • “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

    The Persian poet and mystic Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Balkhi (1207-1273), better known as Rumi, endures as one of history’s most beloved and oft-quoted thinkers. A handful of Persian accounts of Rumi’s life have been written…

  • Wolfram|Alpha’s ability to easily compute and visualize probabilities from distributions is liberating. Such computations have traditionally either been avoided (in academic settings) or have required highly technical calculations or significant programming ability.

  • Saturday marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Woody Guthrie, the greatly influential folk singer whose music was inseparable from the hard circumstances of his life and his deep sense of social justice. …

    To help mark the milestone we bring you rare footage, above, of Guthrie singing “The Ranger’s Command” in 1945. The clip is from the 1988 BBC Arena documentary, Woody Guthrie, which can be seen in its entirety below.

  • Fry’s reading comes from a new iPad app, Shakespeare’s Sonnets. In an apparent realization of all those literary “multimedia experiences” we dreamed of but could never quite achieve in the mid-nineties, it presents the 154 sonnets as they looked in their 1609 quarto edition with scholarly notes, commentary, and interviews with experts. Other performers enlisted to read them include Patrick Stewart (presumably another sine qua non for such a project), David Tennant, and — because hey, why not — Kim Cattrall. A fine idea, but new-media visionaries should take note that I and many others are even now waiting for apps dedicated to nothing more than Stephen Fry reading things. Someone’s got to capitalize on this demand.

    [And where is the Android version?? -L]

  • Certain storylines tend to rule the day in western depictions of Middle Eastern women’s lives. As independent filmmaker Laura Nix explains it: “The messages we see of Islamic women are honor killings and being stoned to death. Or we see a woman reject her religion in order to be liberated.”

    But with her new documentary, “The Light in Her Eyes,” airing on PBS July 19, Nix offers a portrayal that viewers may find more nuanced…

    [The film profiles] the work of a Syrian female scholar of the Koran, Houda al-Habash, who combines her piety with the belief that women should obtain a secular education and pursue public lives and leadership if they choose. The film focuses on a school that Habash started in 1982, when she was just 17, to teach the Koran to girls and women.

    …most religious scholarship and serious study of the Koran in Syria are undertaken by males. Further, Habash uses the preacher’s pulpit to spread a message of female empowerment, though always within the context of her religion. …

    She also makes the point that many restrictions on Muslim women derive from cultural practice, not the Koran.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

More dots than can possibly be connected.