I keep a weblog like it's still the 90s. For commentary and dissent please visit jontaylor.ca, or various other purveyors of thought online.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Researchers ask how best to engineer the planet

Researchers ask how best to engineer the planet | Green Tech - CNET News: "During talks Friday morning, academics said climate engineering techniques are not well understood and, because of the complexity of the global climate system, individual approaches are pockmarked with uncertainties.

Still, speakers at the event said it's time to step up research in geoengineering to sort out which approaches are worth serious consideration. But they cautioned against expecting easy fixes or abandoning efforts to ratchet down the growth of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere."

Friday, October 30, 2009

Why are we going Tory?

Why are we going Tory?: "Regrettably this sort of thing is all too susceptible to slow erosion. Political integrity is hard to accumulate and easy to dissipate and once it's gone voters and politicians routinely pull one another back into the mire rather than out of it. And I think the federal Liberals bear much blame here. Remember the seedy push by Paul Martin's acolytes to oust Jean Chretien for no reason anyone can now recall, and Chretien's open admission that he stayed longer just to spite them. Can anyone tell me who benefited from any of that savage cunning? Not them and not us."

colinmarshall: Los Angeles, America, the ...

Twitter / colinmarshall: Los Angeles, America, the ...: "Los Angeles, America, the internet: three things people hate if they can't properly filter."

Raiding the Icebox

Raiding the Icebox - washingtonpost.com: "First, we send a joint Army-Navy overseas force to capture the port city of Halifax, cutting the Canadians off from their British allies.

Then we seize Canadian power plants near Niagara Falls, so they freeze in the dark.

Then the U.S. Army invades on three fronts -- marching from Vermont to take Montreal and Quebec, charging out of North Dakota to grab the railroad center at Winnipeg, and storming out of the Midwest to capture the strategic nickel mines of Ontario.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy seizes the Great Lakes and blockades Canada's Atlantic and Pacific ports."

Banner ads on flies

Banner ads on flies

Soros Launches Effort to Battle Free-Market Zeal

Soros Launches Effort to Battle Free-Market Zeal | Newsweek Voices - Michael Hirsh | Newsweek.com: "Now financier George Soros is announcing a $50 million effort to speed things along. This week Soros is gathering some of the leading practitioners of the market-skeptic school, who were marginalized during the era of 'free-market fundamentalism,' among them Nobelists Joseph Stiglitz, George Akerlof, Michael Spence, and Sir James Mirrlees. He's also creating an 'Institute for New Economic Thinking' to make research grants, convene symposiums, and establish a journal, all in an effort to take back the economics profession from the champions of free-market zealotry who have dominated it for decades, and to correct the failures of decades of market deregulation. Soros hopes matching funds will bring the total endowment up to $200 million. 'Economics has failed not only to predict and explain what happened but has also failed to protect society,' says Robert Johnson, a former managing director at Soros Fund Management, who will direct the new institute. 'That's what the crisis revealed. The paradigm has failed. There is no guidance.'"

I believe the guidance that Soros would give us would be his own. I'd personally rather fail on my own, than have a hand pick cabal of Soros "economists" plot a successful path for me.

Match Point: How to Reach Rural Markets

Match Point: How to Reach Rural Markets | Blog | NextBillion.net | Development through Enterprise: "Question: Which manufactured consumer product has the deepest market penetration in rural India?

Answer: Matches"

Stockholm's bunnies burned to keep Swedes warm - The Local

Stockholm's bunnies burned to keep Swedes warm: "The decision to use Stockholm’s rabbit cadavers as bioenergy to warm Swedes living in Varmland doesn't sit well with Stockholm-based animal rights activists."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

KFC 'colonel' dupes UN security

KFC 'colonel' dupes UN security: "UNITED NATIONS -- Red-faced United Nations officials on Monday admitted to a major security lapse after a UN guard helped Kentucky Fried Chicken's 'Colonel Sanders' gain access to restricted areas."

Quotes Uncovered: Death and Statistics

Quotes Uncovered: Death and Statistics - Freakonomics Blog - NYTimes.com: "Whereas in England all is permitted that is not expressly prohibited, it has been said that in Germany all is prohibited unless expressly permitted and in France all is permitted that is expressly prohibited. In the European Common Market no-one knows what is permitted and it all costs more"

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Death of the Teapot Effect

Technology Review: Blogs: arXiv blog: The Death of the Teapot Effect: "Now Cyril Duez at the University of Lyon in France and a few amis, have identified the single factor at the heart of the problem and shown how to tackle it. They say that the culprit is a 'hydro-capillary' effect that keeps the liquid in contact with the material as it leaves the lip. The previously identified factors all determine the strength of this hydro-cappillary effect.

So how to overcome it? There are two ways say Duez and co. The first is to make the lip as thin as possible. That's why teapots with spouts made from thin metal are less likely to dribble.

The second is to coat the lip with the latest generation of superhydrophobic materials which strongly repel water. Duez and co show how this stops dribbling at a stroke. 'Superhydrophobic surfaces fully avoid dripping, and thus beat the 'teapot effect',' they say."

What I've learned from debating religious people around the world.

What I've learned from debating religious people around the world. - By Christopher Hitchens - Slate Magazine: "Ever since I invited any champion of faith to debate with me in the spring of 2007, I have been very impressed by the willingness of the other side to take me, and my allies, up on the offer. A renowned scholar like Richard Dawkins, who is quite used to filling halls wherever he goes with his explanations of biology, is now finding himself on platforms with dedicated people who really, truly do not believe that evolution is anything more than 'a theory.' I have been all over the South, in front of capacity and overflow crowds, exchanging views with Protestants most of the time, but also with Catholics and, in New York and the West Coast and Canada, with—mostly Reform—Jews in large and well-attended synagogues. (So far no invitations from Orthodox Jews, Mormons, or Muslims.)"

Norman Rockwell: The Original King of the Photoshop

Norman Rockwell: The Original King of the Photoshop - Norman Rockwell - Gizmodo: "Back when Norman Rockwell ruled Saturday evenings, Adobe wasn't even a gleam in some nerd's eye, but a new book shows that the painter was, nevertheless, a photoshop god.

Very few Gizmodo readers were even born when Rockwell painted his last Saturday Evening Post cover, but we all know them. You hear that name and suddenly you can picture those overly detailed, cartoonishly dramatic but ultimately kinda corny depictions of American life. Well, Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera, written and compiled by Ron Schick, has given me immense newfound respect for the man, for the meticulous photography, the real people and the unintentionally hilarious DIY props and sets that he required to make his painted fantasies of Americana come true."

PRUDEN: Something really scary for Obama's Democrats

PRUDEN: Something really scary for Obama's Democrats - Washington Times: "This is one Mr. Deeds who apparently isn't going to town. The collapse of the Democratic campaign for governor of Virginia speaks volumes - chapters, anyway - about what the body politic is trying to tell Barack Obama's Democrats.

They're learning, painfully, that campaigning without George W. Bush is baffling, frustrating and scary. Worse, it offers a preview of what the congressional campaigning will be like next year. One Obama doorbell ringer, working neighborhoods in Northern Virginia for Creigh Deeds, says even the promise of free pizza can't lure faithful Democrats to a rally."

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Canadians lack a political alternative

Canadians lack a political alternative - thestar.com: "One of the most respected Canadian journalists, Val Sears of the Star, talking to his colleagues in 1962, reportedly said: 'To work, gentlemen, we have a government to overthrow.' Not knowing the context of this statement, I can't express a direct opinion on it. But, in general, while I agree that members of the media have to be vigilant about any wrongdoing by the government, I also believe they should never try to fill the opposition's institutional role."

Could a Land Tax Support the Operations of Government?

European Dispatch Articles | Could a Land Tax Support the Operations of Government? | Miller-McCune Online Magazine: "The shape of a new American health care system is clearer now than it was last month, but a fraction of the American public will still be permanently steamed at President Obama for pushing through a new 'entitlement' (and, eventually, raising their taxes). They don't see why America has to be so European. This column has spent the last several weeks looking at how European health care schemes might work in America; now it's time to look at an American-born idea that would — in theory — revolutionize the tax system of any country.

Taxes don't need to be pulled from your income."

Terry Teachout on the Mystery of Music

Sightings : Terry Teachout on the Mystery of Music - WSJ.com: "Forgive me for rolling my eyes, but I've been down this road a few million times, and I still don't know where it leads. Only the tone-deaf doubt the power of music, though some feel it more strongly than others. Kingsley Amis actually went so far as to claim that 'only a world without love strikes me as instantly and decisively more terrible than one without music.' Catch me on the right day and I might well go along with Amis—but why? What is it about music that is capable of swaying human emotions?"

Saturday, October 24, 2009

How to flip a coin

Marginal Revolution: How to flip a coin: "Using a high-speed camera that photographed people flipping coins, the three researchers determined that a coin is more likely to land facing the same side on which it started. If tails is facing up when the coin is perched on your thumb, it is more likely to land tails up."

The Many Faces of George Washington

ARTnews: "It’s an international exercise in intrigue,” said Douglas Hyland, director of the New Britain Museum of American Art in New Britain, Connecticut.

He was speaking about a painting that was recently donated to the museum and is now on exhibition. The label reads: “George Washington c. 1800–1805.” The work is a copy of a Gilbert Stuart painting attributed to a Chinese artist named Foeiqua—who, like other artists in China, made a number of reverse paintings on glass."

Zakaria on a Third Surge in Afghanistan

Zakaria on a Third Surge in Afghanistan | Newsweek Voices - Fareed Zakaria | Newsweek.com: "The real question we should be asking in Afghanistan is not 'Do we need a surge?' but rather 'Do we need a third surge?' The number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan in January 2008 was 26,607. Over the next six months, the Bush administration raised the total to 48,250. President Bush described this policy as 'the quiet surge,' and he made the standard arguments about the need for a counterinsurgency capacity—the troops had to not only fight the Taliban but protect the Afghan population, strengthen and train the Afghan Army and police, and assist in development."

Friday, October 23, 2009

Larry Magid’s 1984 LA Times review of 128K Mac

Larry Magid’s 1984 LA Times review of 128K Mac | LarrysWorld.com: "I rarely get excited over a new computer. But Apple’s Macintosh, officially introduced last Tuesday, has started a fever in Silicon Valley that’s hard not to catch. My symptoms started when I talked with some devotees from Apple and the various companies that produce software, hardware and literature to enhance the new computer. By the time I got my hands on the little computer and its omni-present mouse, I was hooked. Apple has a winner.

The Mac, which retails for $2,495 is about 14 inches tall and takes up about the same amount of desk space as a piece of 8 1/2 x 11 paper. It is smaller and lighter than most of the so called “portable” machines. The entire system can be slipped into an optional ($99) padded carrying case to be hoisted over your shoulder or placed under an airline seat. The case and computer together weigh 22 pounds."

Moscow Mayor Promises a Winter Without Snow - TIME

Moscow Mayor Promises a Winter Without Snow - TIME: "Pigs still can't fly, but this winter, the mayor of Moscow promises to keep it from snowing. For just a few million dollars, the mayor's office will hire the Russian Air Force to spray a fine chemical mist over the clouds before they reach the capital, forcing them to dump their snow outside the city. Authorities say this will be a boon for Moscow, which is typically covered with a blanket of snow from November to March. Road crews won't need to constantly clear the streets, and traffic — and quality of life — will undoubtedly improve.

The idea came from Mayor Yury Luzhkov, who is no stranger to playing God. In 2002, he spearheaded a project to reverse the flow of the vast River Ob through Siberia to help irrigate the country's parched Central Asian neighbors. Although that idea hasn't exactly turned out as planned — scientists have said it's not feasible — this time, Luzhkov says, there's no way he can fail."

Police probes, Mafia allegations in the 'Palermo' of Canada

Police probes, Mafia allegations in the 'Palermo' of Canada - The Globe and Mail: "In a single day Thursday, Mayor Gerald Tremblay admitted in a report that he feared for his family's safety. An opposition politician, who resigned Sunday over payments from murky backers, said a “Mafia system” controls Montreal city hall.

And the Quebec government, under relentless pressure to call a public probe into questionable ties between the construction industry and municipal officials, announced a beefed-up squad to root out corruption."

Understanding E = mc2

Energy Tribune- Understanding E = mc2: "Almost exactly 100 years ago, Albert Einstein posited the equation E = mc2 in his “Special Theory of Relativity.” The equation suggested a new way of describing the origins of chemical energy and suggested another source of energy that at that point was unknown in history – nuclear energy. Nuclear power made its unfortunate debut in history 40 years later in the form of an atomic bomb. But 100 years later, Americans have not quite yet absorbed the larger implications of Einstein’s equation – a new form of energy that can provide almost unlimited amounts of power with a vanishingly small impact on the environment.

E = mc2. Who has not heard of it? Even Mariah Carey named her last album after it. “E” stands for energy, “m” for mass, and “c” is the speed of light – that’s easy enough. But what does it really mean? (The answer is not “relativity.”)"

Thursday, October 22, 2009

California's water wars: Of farms, folks and fish

California's water wars: Of farms, folks and fish | The Economist: "Water has divided Californians since Mark Twain remarked that “whiskey’s for drinking, water’s for fighting over.” But this latest conflict comes as America’s largest state is politically gridlocked and holding back a national economic recovery. From Australia to Israel, parched places all over the world are now looking to California to see whether, and how, it solves one of the most intractable problems of thirsty civilisations in dry regions."

Democracy in Africa: A good example

Democracy in Africa: A good example | The Economist: "IT IS not surprising that Botswana has topped polls as continental Africa’s best-run country. Since independence in 1966, it has consistently held unfettered multi-party elections. It was blessed with a fine founding president, Sir Seretse Khama, succeeded by three decent leaders, the present one being his son Ian, who was handsomely re-elected this week (see article). It has an abundance of diamonds and successive governments have husbanded the country’s resources. Average income has tripled in real terms in two decades, putting Botswana on a par with Mexico."

"Russians Looked Only for the Agenda"

Economist's View: "Russians Looked Only for the Agenda": "I once heard from a Russian reporter about her early days on the job. “Whenever we read an article about the health dangers of butter, we would immediately run out and buy as much butter as we could find,” she told me. “We knew it meant there was about to be a butter shortage.” In other words, Russians looked only for the agenda, the motivation behind the assertion. The actual truth was irrelevant.

It seems that more and more I am also looking for the agenda behind what people write, even for news stories, academic communication (especially outside of journals), etc. I don't know if this is getting worse, or if I am simply finally waking up to the way things have always worked. Probably the latter."

Save the planet: eat a dog?

Save the planet: eat a dog? | Stuff.co.nz: "The eco-pawprint of a pet dog is twice that of a 4.6-litre Land Cruiser driven 10,000 kilometres a year, researchers have found.

Victoria University professors Brenda and Robert Vale, architects who specialise in sustainable living, say pet owners should swap cats and dogs for creatures they can eat, such as chickens or rabbits, in their provocative new book Time to Eat the Dog: The real guide to sustainable living.

The couple have assessed the carbon emissions created bypopular pets, taking into account the ingredients of pet food and the land needed to create them."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Three Tweets for the Web

Three Tweets for the Web: "The printed word is not dead. We are not about to see the demise of the novel or the shuttering of all the bookstores, and we won’t all end up on Twitter. But we are clearly in the midst of a cultural transformation. For today’s younger people, Google is more likely to provide a formative cultural experience than The Catcher in the Rye or Catch-22 or even the Harry Potter novels. There is no question that books are becoming less central to our cultural life."

An Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All

An Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All | Magazine: "In the center of the fray is Paul Offit. “People describe me as a vaccine advocate,” he says. “I see myself as a science advocate.” But in this battle — and make no mistake, he says, it’s a pitched and heated battle — “science alone isn’t enough … People are getting hurt. The parent who reads what Jenny McCarthy says and thinks, ‘Well, maybe I shouldn’t get this vaccine,’ and their child dies of Hib meningitis,” he says, shaking his head. “It’s such a fundamental failure on our part that we haven’t convinced that parent.”"

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rights Watchdog, Lost in the Mideast

Op-Ed Contributor - Rights Watchdog, Lost in the Mideast - NYTimes.com: "AS the founder of Human Rights Watch, its active chairman for 20 years and now founding chairman emeritus, I must do something that I never anticipated: I must publicly join the group’s critics. Human Rights Watch had as its original mission to pry open closed societies, advocate basic freedoms and support dissenters. But recently it has been issuing reports on the Israeli-Arab conflict that are helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state."

Are Solar Panels Really Black? And What Does That Have to Do With the Climate Debate?

Are Solar Panels Really Black? And What Does That Have to Do With the Climate Debate? - Freakonomics Blog - NYTimes.com: "This kind of attack makes it very difficult for people to suggest new ideas. I have thick enough skin to laugh it off when Romm attacks me, but plenty of people don’t. The politicization of science has a terrible impact on the unfettered discourse of ideas that is so important to making progress. This has been a big impediment to geoengineering. Serious climate scientists who are privately interested in geoengineering are loathe to discuss it publicly because they worry that somebody like Romm will attack and ridicule them if they do. Indeed, part of the reason I chose to work on geoengineering and chose to go public about it is to try to get the topic to be more widely discussed."

Monday, October 19, 2009

Robert Full: How engineers learn from evolution

YouTube - Robert Full: How engineers learn from evolution

If the Grass Looks Greener, It’s Important to Understand the Nature of the Fence

The Bellows - If the Grass Looks Greener, It’s Important to Understand the Nature of the Fence: "One of the things about politics is that solutions always seem easier to implement and more promising before they stand a real chance of being implemented. People who have for one reason or another fallen in love with the idea of a carbon tax watch the difficulty Congress is having negotiating a passable climate bill and ask why we don’t just pass a carbon tax. It would be so easy! It’s just a tax! Pass it, price carbon, and bada bing, you’re done."

Green jobs

Marginal Revolution: Green jobs: "We're dealing now with something beyond the Keynesian short run and so those extra jobs are a drain of resources from elsewhere. If you wish, sub out the word 'energy' and sub in the word 'agriculture' and then reevaluate the sentence from the vantage point of 1900. Would it truly create net jobs -- much less good jobs -- to trash tractors and industrial fertilizer?"

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Wal-Mart Effect

The Wal-Mart Effect | Foreign Policy: "Over the last five years, the economies of Wal-Mart countries outside the United States have grown 40 percent faster than the world average. So what's going on? Does the ability to buy giant bags of Froot Loops at cut-rate prices inspire economic growth? More likely, Wal-Mart is simply a smart, cautious investor. 'Wal-Mart chooses to go places with a sizable middle class,' says Nelson Lichtenstein"

Saturday, October 17, 2009

China: The Recession's Real Winner

China: The Recession's Real Winner | Newsweek Voices - Fareed Zakaria | Newsweek.com: "China entered the crisis in an entirely different position. It was running a budget surplus and had been raising interest rates to tamp down excessive growth. Its banks had been reining in consumer spending and excessive credit. So when the crisis hit, the Chinese government could adopt textbook policies to jump-start growth. It could lower interest rates, raise government spending, ease up on credit, and encourage consumers to start spending. Having been disciplined during the fat years, Beijing could now ease up during the lean ones."

How Will Great Recession Shape Youth?

How Will Great Recession Shape Youth?: "these are the trends that led the Educational Testing Service to issue a warning: the American work force of 2025 will be less literate and less skilled than the American work force of 1995."

Friday, October 16, 2009

Klaus Is Right

Klaus Is Right | Foreign Policy: "In recent weeks, Czech President Vaclav Klaus has received a great deal of criticism from both domestic and foreign opponents for his continued refusal to sign the Lisbon Treaty on European integration. Much of this criticism took the form of ad hominem attacks portraying the president as an eccentric provocateur, selfishly seeking media attention for his 'extremist' views. (In fact, 65 percent of Czechs agree with him.) Virtually none of his opponents have actually bothered to engage the president on the substance of his arguments."

John Demjanjuk: The Last Nazi

Print John Demjanjuk: The Last Nazi: "So when the government of the United States of America funds a unit of investigators to hunt for Holocaust criminals, attention must be paid to means and ends. It is not Jewish self-hatred to say so; it is not to assign equivalency to the OSI and the Gestapo — the Holocaust has no equivalent; it is not to say that Demjanjuk is innocent of serving as a death-camp guard: It is simply to seek the version of the truth closest to the truth in order to find some version of justice closest to justice.

Anything else — anything less — dishonors every one of us, including the six million who died.

As for John Demjanjuk, what is he to me? A Ukrainian with a lousy alibi and even worse luck.

Also a human being."

A world redrawn: When America showed up on a map, it was the universe that got transformed

A world redrawn: When America showed up on a map, it was the universe that got transformed - The Boston Globe: "The story of how a map of the world helped Copernicus to rethink the universe is rarely told. But the connection tells us something important about how great ideas are born. To understand it, we need to recall that medieval scholars didn’t consider geography and astronomy to be distinct disciplines. Instead, they considered them parts of a single field called cosmography - the study of the known world and its place in the cosmos. One of the field’s guiding principles went something like this: Looking down, we see up; looking up, we see down. By carefully studying the earth, cosmographers believed they could learn about the heavens, and by carefully studying the heavens they believed they could learn about the earth. Copernicus himself was a cosmographer, and shared this view."

small dead animals: Lowering The Bar

small dead animals: Lowering The Bar: "October 2, 2001 - 'Bill Clinton is suspended from the practice of law in this Court,' the Supreme Court announced in a decision that came without comment or indication of how the nine justices of the high court had voted on the ruling. Clinton has 40 days to contest the decision. The Supreme Court gave no reason for its move. However in April, the former president paid a fine of $US25,000 ($61,500,000) and was barred from practicing law for five years in his home state of Arkansas.

October 16, 2009 - The former U.S. president is at McGill University to accept an honorary doctor of laws degree."

Vancouver teachers' bid to link Olympics to Holocaust not in students' interest

Vancouver teachers' bid to link Olympics to Holocaust not in students' interest

Humor Under Communism: East German Jokes Collected by West German Spies

Humor Under Communism: East German Jokes Collected by West German Spies - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International: "Here's another one: 'Why does West Germany have a higher standard of living than we do? Because communists can't get work permits there.' The ubiquitous Trabant or Trabi, East Germany's legendary plastic car with its clattering two-stroke engine, was a favorite butt of jokes as well. Like this one: 'A new Trabi has been launched with two exhaust pipes -- so you can use it as a wheelbarrow.'"

Resist 2010 Launch "Brainwash the Youth of Vancouver" Rhetoric Tour

Vancity Buzz - Vancouver Blog: Resist 2010 Launch "Brainwash the Youth of Vancouver" Rhetoric Tour: "For those of you who don't know who Resist 2010 is let me enlighten you. They are the people so adamantly against the Olympics because it is an environmental calamity and corporate schmooze fest. Yes the very Olympics that have led to an increase in rapid transit (Canada Line), more social housing (Olympic Village, Pennsylvania Hotel etc...) all the while meeting high environmental standards and employing thousands. Who needs that, right? Furthermore, they are using Dora the Explorer as their official purveyor of anti-corporate rhetoric. These are after all elementary school kids they are brainwashing so that makes total sense."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The 4WD with seats made of whale penis

The 4WD with seats made of whale penis

Stay classy Russia

I leave it in your capable hands

Letters of Note: I leave it in your capable hands

Letter to Andy Warhol from Mick Jagger.

Emotions and investing: Gutted instinct

Emotions and investing: Gutted instinct | The Economist: "JUST before the hovering finger clicks the mouse to trade, there is one thing that online investors of the future might want to check: their “Rationalizer”. The device, a prototype of which was unveiled this week, is an emotion-sensing system designed to help investors keep a cool head when buying and selling."

Energy and climate change: Questioning the invisible hand

Energy and climate change: Questioning the invisible hand | The Economist: "FOR many left-wingers, the credit crunch was proof that markets do not always know best. The near-collapse of the world’s banking system shows once and for all, they argue, that an industry as important as finance cannot be left to the whims of the invisible hand. Yet despite much speechifying from banker-bashing politicians, such views do not seem to have taken hold. Bonuses are back in many City dealing-rooms, and the old argument against regulation—that it would drive firms away from Britain and impoverish the country—is being heard again.

Away from the spotlight, though, another industry is facing its own crisis of confidence in laissez-faire liberalism. Climate change, a looming shortage of electricity and worries about the risks of relying on imported energy are causing many to doubt whether Britain’s vaunted liberalised energy markets are up to the job."

Curbing Climate Change While Capturing Lost Methane

By Degrees - Curbing Climate Change While Capturing Lost Methane - Series - NYTimes.com: "Unlike carbon dioxide, which can remain in the atmosphere a century or more once released, methane persists in the air for about 10 years. So aggressively reining in emissions now would mean that far less of the gas would be warming the earth in a decade or so."

Robert Stacy McCain and the Fall of the Conservative Movement

Barrett Brown: Robert Stacy McCain and the Fall of the Conservative Movement: "the fact that this fellow has been successful within the confines of the modern conservative movement is as indicative as anything that the modern conservative movement operates under a more ridiculous totality of influence than even the sort of people who give you '365 Dumb Bush Quotes' calendars for your birthday would probably have guessed.

As noted, McCain is a mainstream figure. He did a stint as a features editor of The Washington Times and is co-author of Donkey Cons: Sex, Crime, and Corruption in the Democratic Party, which he wrote with partner Lynn Vincent, who herself just ghosted Palin's Going Rogue.He has meanwhile developed into a popular conservative blogger known for the relative cleverness of his turns of phrase as well as his, uh, pugnacity."

Driving Off Another Mortgage Cliff

RealClearMarkets - Driving Off Another Mortgage Cliff: "During the housing bubble, when home ownership rates rose from about 65 percent to 69 percent of households, ownership rates barely budged at all among households led by adults 44 and over, and rose just slightly in households with adults 35-44, according to research by University of Virginia Professor William H. Lucy and researcher Jeff Herlitz. The really big gains came among households headed by someone under 25 years old, where ownership rates rose to 25 percent from 19 percent, and in households led by someone 25 to 29, where ownership rates rose to 41 percent from 36 percent. In other words, it isn't so much that government subsidized loans extend the American dream to those who would be denied, but rather to those who would be denied for a few more years."

Have we learned anything?

Have we learned anything?: "In The Big Picture, The Great Financial Meltdown Of 2008 Can Be Blamed On The Collapse Of A Series Of Bubbles -- Bubbles In Credit, In Housing, In Asset-Backed Securities. In The Aftermath, We Face A New Threat -- A Knee-Jerk Bubble In Regulation And Government Intervention In Financial Markets. You've Been Warned."

The French Get Lost in the Clouds Over a New Term in the Internet Age - WSJ.com

The French Get Lost in the Clouds Over a New Term in the Internet Age - WSJ.com: "Every year, about 300 new terms are officially introduced into the French language. Some -- like cloud computing -- get accidental priority.

About 18 months ago, Bernadicte Madinier, head of language development at Mr. North's General Delegation, was on holiday when she read a magazine piece about cloud computing. 'I realized it was pretty important,' she says. The 59-year-old quickly sent a request that the expression be sped through France's translation and definition system."

Is Obama a Brute or a Pushover?

Is Obama a Brute or a Pushover?: "The first is that he’s a dangerous leftist who threatens American freedoms. This story is told not only by the angry voices on talk radio, but by senior Republican leaders like Newt Gingrich. “The modern left is essentially proto-totalitarian,” Gingrich told the editors of National Review on Oct. 7. And President Obama “is a person of the left. The minute you accept that, you understand almost everything.”

The second story is the one we heard after the award of the Nobel Peace Prize. In this version, the president is a man without accomplishments—all talk, no action.

Obviously, these stories cannot both be true. Republicans will have to choose. Which fits the facts better?"

I don't know if Mr. Frum considered that neither is also a choice.

A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism

A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism - Mark Thornton - Mises Institute: "With the argument made, I told the students — for effect — that Hoppe's argument against socialism is completely undermined when you examine collective action that is completely voluntary. For example, Major League Baseball establishes and enforces all sorts of rules on its member teams; family units can adopt Russian-style socialism if they wish; homeowner associations can establish, change, and enforce rules on how and when lawns will be mowed and garbage will be collected; fraternities can require that new members be spanked with wooden planks; and entrepreneurs can require that patrons wear shoes or not smoke on their premises."

It Ain't Gonna Work Anyway

It Ain't Gonna Work Anyway - Stephen Mauzy - Mises Institute: "In the meantime, the current obsession with systemic risk is understandable. After all, we came darn close to experiencing it, with every money-center bank, most secondary banks, and many tertiary banks verging on collapse only a few months ago. That close call handed politicians a gold-plated 'opportunity to do things you couldn't do before.'"

Optimus Prime Costume

Optimus Prime Costume

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Recruited by MI5: the name's Mussolini. Benito Mussolini

Recruited by MI5: the name's Mussolini. Benito Mussolini | World news | The Guardian: "Archived documents have revealed that Mussolini got his start in politics in 1917 with the help of a �100 weekly wage from MI5.

For the British intelligence agency, it must have seemed like a good investment. Mussolini, then a 34-year-old journalist, was not just willing to ensure Italy continued to fight alongside the allies in the first world war by publishing propaganda in his paper. He was also willing to send in the boys to 'persuade'' peace protesters to stay at home.

Mussolini's payments were authorised by Sir Samuel Hoare, an MP and MI5's man in Rome, who ran a staff of 100 British intelligence officers in Italy at the time."

Dow Jones Tops 10,000 in 1999


If this is a bubble, it sure is hard to pop.

100 years of Big Content fearing technology—in its own words

100 years of Big Content fearing technology—in its own words - Ars Technica: "'Do they not realize that if the accredited composers who have come into vogue by reason of merit and labor are refused a just reward for their efforts a condition is almost sure to arise where all incentive to further creative work is lacking and compositions will no longer flow from their pens or where they will be compelled to refrain from publishing their compositions at all and control them in manuscript? What, then, of the playing and talking machines?'"

Vivian Maier - Her Discovered Work

Vivian Maier - Her Discovered Work

Like Humans, Monkeys Fall Into The 'Uncanny Valley'

Like Humans, Monkeys Fall Into The 'Uncanny Valley': "Movie-goers may not be familiar with the term, but they understand that it is far easier to love the out-of-proportion cartoon figures in the 'The Incredibles,' for example, than it is to embrace the more realistic-looking characters in 'The Polar Express.' Viewers, to many a Hollywood director's consternation, are emotionally unsettled by images of artificial humans that look both realistic and unrealistic at the same time."

The Unknown War

The Unknown War - Reason Magazine: "On August 23, 1989, officials from the newly reformed and soon-to-be-renamed Communist Party of Hungary ceased policing the country’s militarized border with Austria. Some 13,000 East Germans, many of whom had been vacationing at nearby Lake Balaton, fled across the frontier to the free world. It was the largest breach of the Iron Curtain in a generation, and it kicked off a remarkable chain of events that ended 11 weeks later with the righteous citizen dismantling of the Berlin Wall."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Football, dog fighting, and brain damage

Football, dog fighting, and brain damage : The New Yorker: "One wonders whether, had he spent as much time talking to Kyle Turley as he did to Michael Vick, he’d start to have similar doubts about his own sport."

The Collider, the Particle and a Theory About Fate

Essay - The Collider, the Particle and a Theory About Fate - NYTimes.com: "Dr. Nielsen admits that he and Dr. Ninomiya’s new theory smacks of time travel, a longtime interest, which has become a respectable research subject in recent years. While it is a paradox to go back in time and kill your grandfather, physicists agree there is no paradox if you go back in time and save him from being hit by a bus. In the case of the Higgs and the collider, it is as if something is going back in time to keep the universe from being hit by a bus. Although just why the Higgs would be a catastrophe is not clear. If we knew, presumably, we wouldn’t be trying to make one."

The Lost Prestige of Nuclear Physics

The New Atlantis � The Lost Prestige of Nuclear Physics: "But in the second half of the century this high ground of public adulation was lost. Fields like computer science and genetics overtook physics as the most respected and charismatic exemplars of scientific advance. Theatrical films, television dramas, comic books, novels, and other media began to promote an image of atomic science as a dangerous tool of sinister interests—corrupt politicians, cynical industrialists, and evil (or at least irresponsible) scientists—aiming to impose nuclear technologies on the world while recklessly ignoring the threats of war, terrorism, and contamination."

They need a hero

They need a hero - The National Newspaper: "This autumn marks the 2,000th anniversary of the battle, and Germany is witnessing a new-found interest in all things Hermann. But in a twist on Marx’s famous adage about how history repeats itself, the Hermann cult appeared first as tragedy, and second as a 12-million-euro marketing bonanza. What had been a question of shame has become a matter of kitsch: when I went to Detmold to check out the scene, I found a gift shop stocked with garden gnomes in the shape of a cartoonish Germanic warrior; a thick sausage called “Hermannwurst”; and Thusnelda Beer, named after Hermann’s mythical love interest. And the region around Detmold has pulled out all the stops in promoting the anniversary as a mega-tourist event, including three museum exhibits, plays, tours and festivals.

“After World War II, it wasn’t so easy to talk about German history”, said Klaus Schafmeister, Detmold’s coordinator for Hermann-related events. “But today, we can talk about Hermann in a way that wasn’t possible even 10 years ago.”"

11 Offbeat College Essay Topics

mental_floss Blog - 11 Offbeat College Essay Topics:
"Write a haiku, limerick, or short poem that best represents you. (NYU, 2009)
Oh please, NYU
College essays are stressful
Don’t make me do this."

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tire Trade Tirade

Tire Trade Tirade - Art Carden - Mises Institute: "In 2002, President George W. Bush helped make us poorer by signing off on higher steel tariffs. In 2009, President Barack Obama helped make us poorer by signing off on higher tire tariffs. Is this supposed to be change we can believe in?

Economic analysis shows that trade creates wealth. The law of comparative advantage demonstrates that when we specialize and trade, we produce more wealth using the same resources. Preventing trade means that we use more resources to produce less wealth."

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A well-deserved Nobel Prize

A well-deserved Nobel Prize: "In short, the new president has brought the world to a transformational moment of the same magnitude as the end of the Cold War.

It is in changing attitudes to the values of respectful dialogue that Obama has made his biggest contribution so far.

His overture to Iran was spectacular. He recognized the deep culture of Iran: 'Over many centuries your art, your music, literature and innovation have made the world a better and more beautiful place.' He urged Iran to discuss 'in mutual respect' the gamut of issues that for three decades has cast Iran and the U. S. on opposite sides of a gulf splitting the region. The disputes with Iran, centring on its refusal to halt the enrichment of uranium, cannot be resolved by threats."

Why Roman Polanski belongs in prison

Why Roman Polanski belongs in prison - Opinion - Macleans.ca: "Polanski committed a crime in 1977. He admitted committing this crime. And it was certainly not an inconsequential act. On the eve of his sentencing, he fled the country and has lived as a fugitive from justice ever since. That he has continued to make movies, win awards (including an Oscar for best director in 2002) and live a life of conspicuous luxury in Europe should not be misinterpreted as an exculpation of his original deed, regardless of how many of his peers sign a petition."

Audio Analysis of the Beatles Multitrack Masters

Audio Analysis of the Beatles Multitrack Masters - Waxy.org: "I stumbled on these three unidentified tracks that pick apart three of the Beatles' original multitrack masters, isolating and highlighting pieces from 'She's Leaving Home,' 'A Day in the Life,' and 'Come Together.' It's an astounding, and very listenable, glimpse into their recording process."

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Olympic fakes? Why are we so surprised ...

Olympic fakes? Why are we so surprised ...: "Fakes are now so commonplace as to induce a collective amnesia about the likes of Hermann Ratjen, the male Hitler Youth protege who competed in the women's high jump under the name Dora in 1936. He finished fourth, bringing a whole new appreciation to the Nazis' Aryan superman delusion.

Mind you, the East Germans elevated fakery to a higher plane when their pharmaceutically modified designer jocks ascended the Olympic victory podium in clone-like numbers."

Scientists baffled by whale attacks on porpoises

Scientists baffled by whale attacks on porpoises: "'It could be a maternal-driven behaviour that is misdirected towards another species,' said Ford, noting southern residents seem more likely to exhibit the behaviour than northern resident killer whales.

'These animals [porpoises] are often sort of carried about on their backs or heads, pushed around. It's almost like a behaviour you'd see with a distressed or dead calf of a killer whale. We've seen a stillborn calf pushed along or carried along by the mother.'"

Zakaria: More Troops Won't Solve Afghanistan

Zakaria: More Troops Won't Solve Afghanistan | Newsweek Voices - Fareed Zakaria | Newsweek.com: "And when we think through our strategy in Afghanistan, let's please remember that there is virtually no Qaeda presence there. Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen recently acknowledged what U.S. intelligence and all independent observers have long said: Al Qaeda is in Pakistan, as is the leadership of the hard-core Afghan Taliban. (That's why it's called the Quetta Shura, Quetta being a Pakistani city.) All attacks against Western targets that have emanated from the region in the past eight years have come from Pakistan and not Afghanistan. Even the most recently foiled plot in the United States, which involved the first Afghan that I know of to be implicated in global terrorism, originated in Pakistan. Yet we spend $30 in Afghanistan for every dollar in Pakistan."

Can a Nobel Peace Prize make peace harder to achieve?

Marginal Revolution: Can a Nobel Peace Prize make peace harder to achieve?: "Putting aside domestic responses, can holding a Peace Prize make it harder to bring about peace? I believe the answer is yes. The positive scenario is that holding the Prize signals strength and induces other bargainers to jump aboard your winning bandwagon, for fear of being locked out of an eventual agreement. The more negative scenario arises when the Prize holder is expected to pressure Country X, Ruritania. If the Prize holder secretly wishes to favor Ruritania in negotiations, a President without a Prize can to some extent feign or credibly signal weak bargaining power: 'I'm sorry, Ruritania just won't budge; you'll have to move closer to their position.'"

Friday, October 9, 2009

“Every Sizzler restaurant in America?!”

“Every Sizzler restaurant in America?!” - 10 Zen Monkeys: "Reed and his wife Liz are raising money on the internet to fund a tour of every Sizzler restaurant in America — which they'll photograph. And then self-publish the photos in a book. Called 'Every Sizzler in the United States of America.'"

Visual analgesia: Seeing the body reduces pain

Visual analgesia: Seeing the body reduces pain : Neurophilosophy: "These phenomena occur because the brain fuses stimuli from different sensory systems to generate a coherent experience of bodily sensations. The precise mechanisms are unknown, and it is also unclear whether these effects depend upon specific visual stimuli. But according to a new study from University College London, the general 'context' of vison is enough to modulate pain. In the current issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, they report that merely looking at one's hand can affect the perception of laser-induced pain, and how it is processed in the cerebral cortex. Together with earlier work, these findings point to a simple method for managing acute pain."

So Your Cat Wants A Massage?

YouTube - So Your Cat Wants A Massage?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

One gay man, two lesbians, a three-legged cat and a poisoned curry plot

One gay man, two lesbians, a three-legged cat and a poisoned curry plot | Mail Online: "A gay man tried to poison his lesbian neighbours by putting slug pellets into their curry after he was accused of kidnapping their three-legged cat.

Gary Stewart, 37, had been at loggerheads with Marie Walton and Beverley Sales for months.

But things looked brighter when he made a peace offering of some curry, claiming he had ordered too much from the Indian takeaway."

Brazil and the Olympics: Rio's expensive new rings

Brazil and the Olympics: Rio's expensive new rings | The Economist: "That was the easy bit. Holding the games will require effort and expense on a scale that Rio, a problem-studded metropolis of 12m (half of whom live in the city itself), has never seen. Apart from new stadiums and other sports facilities of all kinds, the plans call for new bridges and roads, and a doubling in the number of hotel rooms. To revamp a chaotic transport system, engineers will blast through granite mountains to extend the metro from Ipanema to Barra da Tijuca, 13.5km (8.4 miles) away. Tens of thousands of athletes must be squired to scattered events through some of the worst traffic in the Americas."

Chicago's Olympic bid: The limits of razzle-dazzle

Chicago's Olympic bid: The limits of razzle-dazzle | The Economist: "If all had gone as planned, the Olympics would have put the cap on a remarkable reign. Other Midwestern cities continue their post-industrial decline. Under Mr Daley’s watch Chicago has transformed for the better, with 3m residents and 29 Fortune 500 companies. Tourism has grown, thanks to lovely new and old parks, architecture and museums—plus a vast sparkling lake. The Chicago machine has evolved and improved from the corrupt days of Richard J. Daley, the mayor’s father. Richard II enjoys the support not just of developers and contractors but influential global firms. The Olympics—with its stress on private partnerships, tourism and global recognition—would have been the culmination of all this."

Canada’s unlikeliest rock star

Canada’s unlikeliest rock star - Canada - Macleans.ca: "In the aftermath of what has turned out to be a rather brilliant public relations move, Werner is not the only expert commending the Prime Minister for his musical prowess. Mike Daley, one of the musical directors for Classic Albums Live, called Harper’s performance “surprisingly good.” Daley should know—for the past six years, he has overseen Classic Albums’s “note for note, cut for cut” performances of Beatles records, including Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Band Club. As with other songs John Lennon and Paul McCartney penned for drummer Ringo Starr, Daley says that “With a Little Help from My Friends,” the second track on the 1967 album, was written within a five-note range, making it one of their easier tunes to sing. Still, Harper handled all five of those notes “just about as well as Ringo,” he says. “We could probably use him in Classic Albums Live.”"

One colossal waste

One colossal waste - Environment - Macleans.ca: "In fairness, it’s not just Montreal. Vancouver still does not have household water meters, and has no plans to get them. There, residents pay a flat annual rate of $360 for water, about $30 a month, per household. British Columbians—routinely treated to gushing praise for their green taxes, green jobs, green buildings and green mayors—are the biggest pigs in the country when it comes to water, beating even Quebec in a tight race for the ignominious national title for household water use. More than a third of Canadian cities, meanwhile, use decreasing block rates. The more you use, the less you pay for the unit of water. “It’s madness,” says law professor Robert Glennon, author of Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What to Do About It."

Marginal Revolution: The Nobel Puzzle

Marginal Revolution: The Nobel Puzzle: "Ladbrokes gives Eugene Fama the best odds for winning the economics Nobel. Thus, if Fama wins he will have deserved to have won and if Fama loses he will not have deserved to have won. The Nobel committee cannot go wrong no matter what it does! Think about it."

Another Problem Money Won't Solve

Another Problem Money Won't�Solve - Real Clear Politics – TIME.com: "The move is well intentioned, but troubling for a couple of reasons. First, what makes Albert's death any more tragic - and thus somehow deserving of a generous disbursement of federal dollars to improve safety - than any of the deaths in recent weeks suffered in other communities cited by Holder and Duncan? Will schools in those communities - as well as those in future areas where kids die tragically from violence - get special grants from the Department of Education as well?

Is it because Albert's death was especially shocking to the public's conscience because it was caught on video? Or because he happened to live in the President's home town? None of these things would seem to justify why Fenger has been singled out for preferential treatment."

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Greg Mankiw's Blog: A 70-percent Marginal Tax Rate

Greg Mankiw's Blog: A 70-percent Marginal Tax Rate: "im Capretta looks at the Baucus healthcare bill and concludes that, because the subsidies phase out as income rises, it imposes an effective marginal tax rate on income of about 30 percent for many families. Add that figure to the income tax, the payroll tax, and the phase-out of the EITC and 'the effective, implicit tax rate for workers between 100 and 200 percent of the federal poverty line would quickly approach 70 percent — not even counting food stamps and housing vouchers.'"

Infrastructure for the Future We Want

Worldchanging: Bright Green: Infrastructure for the Future We Want: "Nowhere is this more true than in the U.S., where a study done last year by the Urban Land Institute, Infrastructure 2007: A Global Perspective, found that we'd have to spend $1.6 trillion dollars to bring our infrastructure up to date."

The criticism that Ralph Lauren doesn't want you to see!

The criticism that Ralph Lauren doesn't want you to see!: "So, to Ralph Lauren, GreenbergTraurig, and PRL Holdings, Inc: sue and be damned. Copyright law doesn't give you the right to threaten your critics for pointing out the problems with your offerings. You should know better. And every time you threaten to sue us over stuff like this, we will:

a) Reproduce the original criticism, making damned sure that all our readers get a good, long look at it, and;

b) Publish your spurious legal threat along with copious mockery, so that it becomes highly ranked in search engines where other people you threaten can find it and take heart; and

c) Offer nourishing soup and sandwiches to your models."

Pre-War Bonds May Cripple Leipzig Budget

Historical Debts: Pre-War Bonds May Cripple Leipzig Budget - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International: "Two 500 dollar bonds, sold by the city of Leipzig in 1926, could spell bad news for the municipality's finances. The bonds' owner says they are now worth about 200,000 euros. If her bid for payment succeeds, it could set a precedent that costs Leipzig more than half a billion euros."


AcaWiki:PressRelease-2009-10-07 - AcaWiki: "AcaWiki’s mission is to make academic research more accessible and interactive by creating a 'Wikipedia for academic research.' 'Cutting-edge research is often locked behind firewalls and therefore lacks impact,' founder Neeru Paharia explains, 'AcaWiki turns research hidden in academic journals into something that is more dynamic and accessible to have a greater influence in scholarship, and society.' AcaWiki enables users to easily post and discuss human-readable summaries of academic papers and literature reviews online. AcaWiki also helps users to share and organize summaries through the use of tags and RSS feeds. Vijay Kumar, senior associate dean and director of the Office of Educational Innovation and Technology at MIT, says, 'AcaWiki can provide an important 'sense-making' function for enabling easier sharing of knowledge that can help to build bridges across disciplines—and even between academia and those outside.'"


AcaWiki - Mike Linksvayer: "AcaWiki† officiously launches tomorrow. The goal is to make academic knowledge more accessible through wiki community curated article “summaries” — something like long abstracts aimed at a general audience rather than specialists.

This could be seen as an end-run around access and copyright restrictions (the Open Access movement has made tremendous progress though there is still much to be done), but AcaWiki is a very partial solution to that problem — sometimes an article summary (assuming AcaWiki has one) would be enough, though often a researcher would still need access to the full paper (and the full dataset, but that’s another battle)."

What Happened to Argentina?

What Happened to Argentina? - Economix Blog - NYTimes.com: "A century ago, there were only seven countries in the world that were more prosperous than Argentina (Belgium, Switzerland, Britain and four former English colonies including the United States), according to Angus Maddison’s historic incomes database. In 1909, per capita income in Argentina was 50 percent higher than in Italy, 180 percent higher than Japan, and almost five times higher than in neighboring Brazil. Over the course of the 20th century, Argentina’s relative standing in world incomes fell sharply. By 2000, Argentina’s income was less than half that of Italy or Japan.

The chart below shows the relationship between income in 1909 and income in 2000 in 1990 dollars, and Argentina is the extreme outlier. The gap between 2000 income and predicted economic success, based on 1909 income, is larger for Argentina than for any other country."

Chart of the Day

Chart of the Day | Mother Jones: "The results were pretty dismal: only about half the respondents even noticed the calorie counts and only 15% said they influenced their choice. But the receipts told an even more dismal story: overall, people actually purchased more calories after the law went into effect. The results aren't statistically significant, though, so basically all the researchers can really say is that the law (so far) hasn't had any effect. The only glimmer of good news is that among people under 35, respondents who noticed the labeling did seem to cut back a bit. No other subgroup showed any effect. So who knows? Young people probably respond to this kind of thing more quickly than older people, so maybe it's just going to take some more time before all this stuff sinks in."

What is the Vatican, exactly?

What is the Vatican, exactly? | Salon: "he seemed totally oblivious to the fact that the reason he was called on the U.N. carpet had far more to do with the Vatican's failure to protect children from such abuse. As recently as 2004 Pope John Paul II granted a special audience to Father Marcial Maciel, the Mexican priest who founded the right wing group the Legion of Christ and had been repeatedly and credibly accused of child sexual abuse since the 1970s. It was Benedict who finally had enough of Maciel and ordered him in 2006 to retire quietly to a life of prayer and initiated an investigation of the charges of sexually abusing young seminarians as well as fathering three or four children and supporting them with the order’s money. Not a single bishop has faced serious repercussions for his role in covering up sexual abuse. Boston’s Cardinal Law was forced to resign as archbishop of Boston but given a sweet job in Rome as the titular cardinal of Santa Susanna, the American Catholic church in Rome."

These Foolish Things

Incharacter.org: "This is living? Wisdom plays it safe, avoids occasions of sin, sits home on Saturday night with an improving book. Elvis used to croon that “Wise men say, ‘Only fools rush in.’” But like the king he was, he knew that a brokenhearted clown understood more about the heart than any cautious Polonius. What would love be without impetuousness? Who can love and then be wise? “The heart has reasons that the reason doesn’t know.” No proverb says that love should be the end product of careful calculation, that it’s the smart move. This is why computerized dating seems repulsive to so many people; you just know the machine would be happier working on a spreadsheet. Besides, who would trust his emotional life to a program written by some Caltech brainiac who’s spent his entire geeky existence playing Halo and Warcraft? To quote Mr. T, “I pity the fool.”"

Canada’s biggest problem? America

Canada’s biggest problem? America - World - Macleans.ca: "But it was just one more high-proļ¬le imbroglio between the two countries that may have left many Canadians asking the question: is America Canada’s biggest problem?

Jason Myers, the president of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, calls growing American protectionism “the hottest issue for us.” He is not only concerned about new rules that affect us directly, but also those aimed at other countries that lead to problems for Canada. For example, when Obama announced in September that the U.S. would impose tariffs on tires from China, Myers worried that any Chinese retaliation against the U.S. auto industry would hurt Canadian businesses, too, because that sector is so integrated in North America. “We just see a whole lot of areas where the U.S. is becoming more closed, protectionist and isolated in terms of trade,” Myers says. “It’s not just that it’s our biggest market, but we make things together. We are part of an integrated supply chain. It has far-reaching impacts throughout industries.”"

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


vonnegutSTYLE: "The most damning revelation you can make about yourself is that you do not know what is interesting and what is not. Don't you yourself like or dislike writers mainly for what they choose to show you or make you think about? Did you ever admire an emptyheaded writer for his or her mastery of the language? No.

So your own winning style must begin with ideas in your head."

Europe's Lactose Intolerance

Europe's Lactose Intolerance | Foreign Policy: "Demonstrations against low milk prices and demands for aid have been going on for over a month in Europe, culminating yesterday when protesters invaded Brussels. Above, Belgian dairy farmers, many of whom brought their cows, protest low milk prices outside European Commission headquarters on Sept. 7."

A Colossal Lack of Judgement

Celestial Junk: A Colossal Lack of Judgement: "President Obama has come under attack for his “method” when trying to get the Olympic games for Chicago. Among points being made, is that Barack delivered a speech laced with hubris, and that the Chicago committee itself, recently taken over by Obama mentor, Valerie Jarrett, approached the process with ham-fisted arrogance . Be what it may, it’s not the Obama approach to the IOC that disturbs me.

I’m very concerned, nay stunned, at the colossal lack of judgement shown by not only Barack Obama, but by his advisory team, in sending the president to Copenhagen in the first place."

Philip Glass on Sesame Street

Philip Glass on Sesame Street

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ignatieff's committing political euthanasia

Ignatieff's committing political euthanasia | The Hill Times - Canada's Politics and Government Newsweekly: "If a party has to commit political suicide to defend its credibility, it means there's not much of it left in the party."

Masdar City to test GE 'smart' appliances

Masdar City to test GE 'smart' appliances | Green Tech - CNET News: "Abu Dhabi's planned green community, Masdar City, will be testing General Electric's smart appliances in a handful of residences and coordinating them with its power grid, GE said Monday.

GE's Consumer & Industrial division announced in October 2008 that it was developing home appliances that could ease the strain on electrical grids by coordinating with a grid's off-peak hours to perform flexible functions.

A refrigerator equipped with a 'smart' meter, for example, communicates with the local power utility. That refrigerator then waits to run its automatic defrost cycle until it has received a signal from the electrical grid that it's an off-peak period."

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Creepiest Thing Ever: L’Inconnue de la Seine

mental_floss Blog � The Creepiest Thing Ever: L’Inconnue de la Seine: "Here’s something that happened. In the early twentieth century, a popular piece of art for the fashionable French home was L’Inconnue de la Seine (translation: “the unknown woman of the Seine”), a completely creepy death-mask (pictured at left) of a young woman whose body had been pulled from the Seine River in Paris, sometime in the 1870s or 1880s. As the (somewhat questionable) story goes, a pathologist at the morgue found the unknown woman’s face enchanting, so he made a death mask, a plaster casting of her face. The resulting cast was widely reproduced and became both a popular objet d’art, as well as extremely influential to writers, artists, and indeed young girls who attempted to replicate her (dead) looks. And you thought your friends were goth in high school…."

Flawed climate data

Flawed climate data: "The 18th and 19th century portion of the sample, for instance, contains at least 30 trees per year. But that portion doesn't show a warming spike. The only segment that does is the late 20th century, where the sample size collapses. Once again a dramatic hockey stick shape turns out to depend on the least reliable portion of a dataset.

But an even more disquieting discovery soon came to light. Steve searched a paleoclimate data archive to see if there were other tree ring cores from at or near the Yamal site that could have been used to increase the sample size. He quickly found a large set of 34 up-to-date core samples, taken from living trees in Yamal by none other than Schweingruber himself!Had these been added to Briffa's small group the 20th century would simply be flat. It would appear completely unexceptional compared to the rest of the millennium."

Leading UK Climate Scientists Must Explain or Resign

Jennifer Marohasy � Leading UK Climate Scientists Must Explain or Resign: "This sorry saga also raises issues associated with how data is archived at the UK Met. Office with incomplete data sets that spuriously support the case for global warming being promoted while complete data sets are kept hidden from the public – including from scientific sceptics like Steve McIntyre.

It is indeed time leading scientists at the Climate Research Centre associated with the UK Met. Office explain how Mr McIntyre is in error or resign."

Bodies pile up in Detroit morgue; poor can't afford burial

Bodies pile up in Detroit morgue; poor can't afford burial - Oct. 1, 2009: "Inside the Wayne County morgue in midtown Detroit, 67 bodies are piled up, unclaimed, in the freezing temperatures. Neither the families nor the county can afford to bury the corpses. So they stack up inside the freezer."

Friday, October 2, 2009

Sarkozy Snubs Obama on Nuclear Threat Stance

Charles Krauthammer - Sarkozy Snubs Obama on Nuclear Threat Stance - washingtonpost.com: "Don't take it from me. Take it from Sarkozy, who could not conceal his astonishment at Obama's naivete. On Sept. 24, Obama ostentatiously presided over the Security Council. With 14 heads of state (or government) at the table, with an American president at the chair for the first time ever, with every news camera in the world trained on the meeting, it would garner unprecedented worldwide attention.

Unknown to the world, Obama had in his pocket explosive revelations about an illegal uranium enrichment facility that the Iranians had been hiding near Qom. The French and the British were urging him to use this most dramatic of settings to stun the world with the revelation and to call for immediate action."

Why the recession is here to stay

Why the recession is here to stay - Business - Macleans.ca: "When U.S. marshals put Bernie Madoff’s Long Island mansion on the block last month, few expected much action. Sales of luxury homes have been as dead as the lowly subprime market—and surely the oceanfront playground of a disgraced Ponzi fraudster would be hard to move. Then something astonishing happened. A furious bidding war erupted, and the house sold in mid-September for US$8.75 million in cash, well over the asking price. Madoff’s US$65-billion scam may have embodied all the lying, cheating and greed that got us into the Great Recession, but the frenzy for Bernie’s old digs shows that the froth is back, alive and well."

Michael Lewis on A.I.G.

Michael Lewis on A.I.G. | vanityfair.com:
"liddy: I don’t know them, sir.

grayson: Not a single one. You’re talking about a group, a small group of people who caused your company to lose $100 billion, as you sit here today, you can’t give me one single name.

liddy: The single name I would give you is Joseph Cassano, who ran …

grayson: That’s a good start. You already gave that name. Give me another name.

liddy: I just don’t know them. I do not know those names. I don’t have them all at my command.

grayson: Well, how can you propose to solve the problems of the company that you’re now running if you don’t know the names of the people who caused that problem? … I would expect you’d at least know more than one name. How about two names? Give us one more name."

Ardipithecus: We Meet At Last

Ardipithecus: We Meet At Last | The Loom | Discover Magazine: "Combined with other A. afarensis fossils, paleonthropologists got a pretty decent picture of what hominids looked like. Lucy was a chimpanzee-sized ape with a brain that was only a little bigger than a chimp’s. She still had long arms and curving hands and other traits hinting that she could still climb in trees. But she also had feet with stiff, forward-facing toes, an adaptation for walking on the ground.

So things stood for about 20 years. But then, with the discovery of Ardipithecus and a few other hominid fossils, the record of our ancestry got pushed back millions of years. The oldest fossil that’s been identified as a hominid, Sahelanthropus tschadensis, dates back between 6 and 7 million years old. But scientists have only found pieces of the Sahelanthropus skull. Another species, Orrorin tugenensis, is 6 million years old; it’s represented by little more than a leg bone."

Thinking literally

Thinking literally - The Boston Globe: "Now, however, a new group of people has started to take an intense interest in metaphors: psychologists. Drawing on philosophy and linguistics, cognitive scientists have begun to see the basic metaphors that we use all the time not just as turns of phrase, but as keys to the structure of thought. By taking these everyday metaphors as literally as possible, psychologists are upending traditional ideas of how we learn, reason, and make sense of the world around us. The result has been a torrent of research testing the links between metaphors and their physical roots, with many of the papers reading as if they were commissioned by Amelia Bedelia, the implacably literal-minded children’s book hero. Researchers have sought to determine whether the temperature of an object in someone’s hands determines how “warm” or “cold” he considers a person he meets, whether the heft of a held object affects how “weighty” people consider topics they are presented with, or whether people think of the powerful as physically more elevated than the less powerful."

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Importance of Being Unimportant

The Importance of Being Unimportant - The Brooklyn Rail: "From a commercial perspective, for the most part, there are two groups of people in the world: those who buy art for investment and those who buy art because they like it. I’ve met many collectors who bastardize this statement, claiming they “like to invest in good art.” Speculating on art is fine—it’s a free country—but treating art exclusively as a commodity hurts the market in innumerable ways, which I won’t go into except to say that it has been instrumental in raising prices to a point at which 2000 people in the world support the careers of 200 artists. Most critics believe that it isn’t their duty to follow the money in the system, only to maintain critical vigilance and to separate the good art from the bad art. The only problem is, over the course of the last 20 years we’ve watched “bad” work somehow turn into “sensational” work, “sensational” turn to “provocative,” “provocative” into “important,” and “important” back into “good.” It’s a collecting world’s semantic shell game."

Regulating greenhouse gases: Enter the EPA

Regulating greenhouse gases: Enter the EPA | The Economist: "OVER the past few days, America has moved towards a federal system for regulating its carbon emissions in three ways. First, several big companies have broken with trade associations that oppose the cap-and-trade bill now in the Senate. Second, the bill has moved a stage further towards becoming law. Third, and most important, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that if Congress won’t legislate to cut greenhouse gases, it will regulate anyway."

$72 Million for Energy Efficiency and Conservation Projects in 7 States and Territories

Department of Energy - Obama Administration Delivers Nearly $72 Million for Energy Efficiency and Conservation Projects in 7 States and Territories: "“This funding will allow states across the country to make major investments in energy solutions that will strengthen America's economy and create jobs at the local level,” said Secretary Chu. “It will also promote some of the cheapest, cleanest and most reliable energy technologies we have - energy efficiency and conservation - which can be deployed immediately. Local communities can now make strategic investments to help meet the nation's long term clean energy and climate goals.”

States and territories receiving funding today include: Idaho, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Puerto Rico, South Dakota and the U.S. Virgin Islands."

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