Thursday, October 08, 2015

Mind Bot

Warning to psychics: You can be replaced:
By carefully watching the motion of a person’s arm, the system determines what the intention of that arm is — to pick up an object, for example — and can tell when that intention has changed or been disturbed.

“We call it a psychic robot,” said lead author Justin Horowitz in a news release. “If you know how someone is moving and what the disturbance is, you can tell the underlying intent — which means we could use this algorithm to design machines that could correct the course of a swerving car or help a stroke patient with spasticity.”
And tell you where Grandpa's will is hidden?

Drugs For Jesus

I guess a natural high wasn't good enough:
Lorenzo R. Sanders, 51, was arrested late Tuesday after members of a SWAT team and U.S. Park Police narcotics unit burst into his Southeast Washington apartment, armed with a warrant and sledgehammer, and found two clear sandwich bags of cocaine in his toilet, according to D.C. Superior Court charging documents.

Authorities said the drugs weighed about 60.5 grams.

Police also found five pieces of clear plastic that each contained a white rock-like substance, that was believed to be crack cocaine, weighing about 10.8 grams and a piece of clear plastic containing a tan powder which was suspected to be 0.6 grams of heroin.
From the Marion Barry school of theology?

Banana Republicans

Kevin McCarthy is out of the running:
Conservatives seized the moment as McCarthy made his exodus, celebrating the departure of one of the GOP’s moderates and fastest-rising stars — and pledging to push for one of their own, a hard-liner on fiscal and social issues, to step forward in the coming weeks before the leadership elections are rescheduled. McCarthy’s associates, many hailing from mainstream Republican districts, urged caution and began efforts to draft another centrist Republican to succeed Boehner (Ohio).

“It is total confusion — a banana republic,” said Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), a Boehner ally, as he recounted seeing a handful of House Republicans weeping Thursday over the downfall of McCarthy and the broader discord. “Any plan, anything you anticipate, who knows what’ll happen. People are crying, they don’t have any idea how this will unfold, at all.”
It's the Speaker apocalypse! But what's next?

Wanted: A Legacy

Desperately seeking historical meaning:
Some observers say the increasingly polarized nature of U.S. politics is making it more difficult for Mr. Obama to write his legacy because his agenda included highly partisan issues such as Obamacare, Wall Street regulation and climate change. It also involved much unilateral action, cutting Congress out of the loop and embittering Republicans.

“Many of the things that the president touts as his most significant accomplishments are the very same issues that stoke the greatest Republican opposition,” said Jason Grumet, president of the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington. “And that’s been the case for the last seven years. The president is now clearly in a very active effort to define his accomplishments, and the Republican primary creates a very active foil for that. It’s an elevated conversation now.”
It's a conversation that the President seems to be losing in the final stretch...

Strike One Against The Food Police

No, you don't have to be a vegan:
“There has been some discussion this year about whether we would include the goal of sustainability as a factor in developing dietary guidelines,” Vilsack and Burwell said in a joint blog post Tuesday. “(Sustainability in this context means evaluating the environmental impact of a food source. Some of the things we eat, for example, require more resources to raise than others.) Issues of the environment and sustainability are critically important and they are addressed in a number of initiatives within the Administration.”

“In terms of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs), we will remain within the scope of our mandate in the 1990 National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act (NNMRRA), which is to provide ‘nutritional and dietary information and guidelines’… ‘based on the preponderance of the scientific and medical knowledge,’” the officials said.

“The final 2015 Guidelines are still being drafted, but because this is a matter of scope, we do not believe that the 2015 DGAs are the appropriate vehicle for this important policy conversation about sustainability,” they added.
All foods are created for us to consume...

Kid AI

Are our AIs learning?
The AI is built using natural language processing tools, which allow to it to understand words in the same way that humans do. That was combined with some other software that allowed it to understand and then answer questions.

In the introduction to a paper on their results, the scientists write: “The ConceptNet system scored a WPPSI-III VIQ that is average for a four-year-old child, but below average for 5 to 7 year-olds. Large variations among subtests indicate potential areas of improvement.

“In particular, results were strongest for the Vocabulary and Similarities subtests, intermediate for the Information subtest, and lowest for the Comprehension and Word Reasoning subtests. Comprehension is the subtest most strongly associated with common sense.”
Which is more than can be said for some adults...

Animal Man

It's a dog-eat-country world:
“This country is extraordinary,” Bush continued. “And it’s because we have this unique ability to take risks, to innovate, to try different things, to dust ourselves off, two-steps-forward one-step-back. We’re a dynamic country and we’re losing our dynamism. That’s what I meant.”
The man was unconvinced. What about big banks that give Americans high-interest credit cards, he asked. “That’s kind of a big dog eating,” he said.
“I wasn’t talking about big dogs eating other people,” Bush said. “I had a big dog, and he didn’t eat anybody. He was the most loving dog in the world. But he got off the porch once in while, you know what I’m saying? He didn’t get in line, he did whatever he wanted to and he tried different things. And that’s... come on. Give me a break here on that.”
That dog might not hunt...

Listen To The Skies

Is anybody out there?
“Most of the people will agree that this is one of the most existential, philosophical questions,” Milner told Re/code’s Kara Swisher at the Vanity Fair Summit. “We as human beings should devote some resources [to] address the biggest existential questions.”

The initiative, dubbed Breakthrough Listen, has snagged up two of the largest radio telescopes on the globe, in West Virginia and Australia. Right now, they are relying on radio to send out missives searching for life. But Milner said they are also toying with using lasers. Stephen Hawking is involved.

Frank Drake, chairman emeritus of the SETI Institute, who has devoted over four decades to this search, joined Milner onstage. “We’re expecting friendly aliens,” he assured the audience. “We also think they’re smart aliens.” Drake did stipulate that he prefers the term extraterrestrial, or ET, given some of the less benevolent connotations of the term alien.
If they aren't friendly, they'd only be doing the invading that other aliens won't do...

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Don't Call It A Comeback Crime

They've been hating for years:
“The investigation revealed that the film was made by members of an early 1990s rap group no longer in fashion,” the police statement said. “The film was made and posted on social media to ignite a comeback by the rap group.”
“The video in question was made for entertainment purposes only and was not a credible threat to police officers,” the statement said. “The criminal investigation of the suspect, however, will continue.”
According to the LAPD, the suspect in custody had an outstanding warrant for a prior firearm conviction.
The video was shown at roll calls last week and officers were told to pair-up for safety. The wife of one officer who asked not to be identified on camera said it certainly made an impression on some officers.
Has-beens don't matter...

Evil Campus Eye

They don't need no thought control:
Steve Cantees, Sarasota County School District Executive Director of High Schools, gave the word at least three times to the man in charge of Florida’s North Port High School: Don’t practice hypnosis unless it’s a demonstration in a psychology class and written parent permission is in hand.

But Kenney — who lacked a license to practice hypnosis — didn’t listen. In the end, he performed hypnosis on as many as 75 students, staff members and others for five years beginning in 2006.

But the worst of it is that even after receiving warnings from on high, Kenney went ahead and hypnotized three students who died in 2011 in separate incidents — two by suicide and one after a car accident in which the student was reportedly in a state of self-hypnosis.

On Tuesday the Sarasota County School District agreed to shell out $200,000 each to the families of the trio of high schoolers, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported.

“It’s something they will never get over,” Damian Mallard, an attorney representing the families, told the paper of the settlement, adding that “the worst loss that can happen to a parent is to lose a child, especially needlessly because you had someone who decided to perform medical services on kids without a license. He altered the underdeveloped brains of teenagers, and they all ended up dead because of it.”
Don't look into his eyes...

Gallup Quits The Race

Gallup won't be covering the Presidential race anymore:
It's a stunning move for an organization that built its reputation on predicting the winners of presidential elections. But it comes at a time of unusual tumult in the polling world. Other top-level brands like the nonprofit Pew Research Center have yet to poll the horse race, and still others have expressed concern about the accuracy of polling at a time when fewer people are reachable or willing to talk to pollsters.

Gallup had vowed to examine its methods closely after 2012. And after a lengthy post-mortem, Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport promised to be ready “when the next presidential election” arrived. But so far, Gallup hasn’t been willing to put its methods to the test.

Newport told POLITICO that Gallup has shifted its resources into understanding issues facing voters — and won’t be following the primary horse races, other than asking about how Americans feel about the individual candidates.
Polling is nothing more than feelings after all...

Obamatrade Two-Step

Hillary is against it after she was for it:
Clinton’s campaign has had a rough few months with labor unions, who are strongly opposing the deal on protectionist grounds. Outsourcing of jobs became a significant issue in the Midwest during the Republican-dominated 2014 midterm elections.

AFL-CIO boss Richard Trumka threatened to sit out the election if Clinton did not end up opposing Obama’s trade deal. Vice President Joe Biden – who is courting Big Labor support in his potential run – would now have to publicly repudiate his own White House if he decides to oppose the deal.
Sorry, President Obama-they're just not into your trade deal...

Hollywood Fed

The Federal government is investigating...the lack of female directors in Hollywood:
“I would like the EEOC to take legal action against the studios, the networks and the commercial production companies to make them comply with the law,” commercial director Lori Precious told Deadline. “I hope they force people to change the way they do business because Hollywood is not exempt from the law.”

Producer Melanie Wagor, who also received the letter from the EEOC, told Variety that “everybody is ecstatic and really thankful for the ACLU and the EEOC for taking this seriously.”

In May, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lobbied the EEOC to investigate the “systemic failure” of the film industry to hire female directors. The civil rights organization circulated a petition among Hollywood professionals that laid out its primary concern: of the 1,300 top-grossing films spanning a 12-year period between 2002-2014, just 4.1% were directed by women.

“Our goal is to show the civil rights enforcement agencies that a significant number of people who are women directors or work with women directors want this long-running civil rights problem to be fixed,” the petition read.
It's a crisis, you know...


Jay Leno returns, if only for a monologue moment:

Hollywood Workout

So how will Hollywood really react to California's new equal pay law?
The newly signed law, which goes into effect January 1, has a Hollywood connection: The bill was introduced earlier this year by Democratic state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson shortly after actress Patricia Arquette called for equal pay in her Academy Awards acceptance speech.

However, the Hollywood film industry is notorious for paying more to leading actors than to its female stars and for having more leading roles available for the men as well.

On his website, Mr. Frank noted the juxtaposition with a touch of schadenfreude.

“The good news is that the Leftists in Hollywood and the media should be the first to feel the effect of government control of wages and work,” said Mr. Frank on his website.
Women and minority actors hardest hit?

The Russians Are Coming?

Next stop, Iraq:
Since Moscow began bombing opponents of the regime in Syria last week, the lawmakers and militia leaders have pressed Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to invite Russia to intervene in Iraq. Mr. Abadi said last week that he would welcome Russian airstrikes in Iraq as long as they were coordinated with the U.S.-led coalition.

Iraq’s Shiite politicians, who dominate the government, were largely united in their praise of Russia’s intervention and calls for Russian airstrikes.

“We welcome Russian airstrikes in Iraq to help hit Islamic State headquarters, target Islamic State supply lines from Syria and target the oil smuggling lines,” said Moeen al-Kadhimi, a spokesman for the Badr Corps, an Iranian-backed militia and political party that plays a front-line role in fighting Islamic State. “We welcome Russia as they have advanced military technology and can help with intelligence.”
Be careful what you wish for, before the Shiite hits the fan...

They Had A Secret

More bad email news:
Hillary Clinton’s No. 2 at the State Department twice forwarded information to the Clinton Foundation that was later deemed classified, the latest instance of former Clinton staff transmitting now-classified information.

According to a new email chain shared with POLITICO by Citizens United, Cheryl Mills — Clinton’s former chief of state at State — forwarded State Department background information about Rwanda and the Congo to the Clintons’ philanthropic organization. Citizens United, a conservative activist group, obtained the messages via a Freedom of Information act lawsuit. …

The information in the 2012 emails was classified by the State Department in July of this year because of national security and foreign policy reasons, according to the documents. The classification specifically related to foreign government information and intelligence activities, sources or methods, according to the redaction labels.
That's bad enough, but it looks like there was another server out there:
A Datto official said that investigators may be able to recover the e-mails if the data existed at the time the company was hired in May 2013 and had not been altered since.

A spokesman for Platte River, Andy Boian, said his company assumed that Datto would have retained data for only a short period and older e-mails would no longer be available.
It's failed backups all the way down...

Obamacare For Peace

The cure for gun violence is:
“For those who say they want to work with the administration in limiting gun violence, we would welcome the support for the Affordable Care Act and expanding Medicaid,” spokesman Josh Earnest explained to reporters during the White House press briefing.

Earnest made his remarks during a series of questions about how the Republicans could work with Obama on increasing mental health coverage.

“Many of them talk about improving mental healthcare,” Earnest said. “One of the biggest providers of mental healthcare — especially in disadvantaged communities — is Medicaid.”
But what about the mental health of politicians who think this is the answer?

The Butler Said It

Ben Carson versus a campus bigot:
The Urban Dictionary website defines “coon” as a “Insulting term for a black person.” The site treats the insult as similar to other words that are rarely published outside rap lyrics.

Prof. Justin McDaniel, chairman of the University of Pennsylvania’s religious-studies program, did not repond to Butler’s tweet but said she is a “valued colleague and faculty member.”

As for Dr. Carson, his spokeswoman, Deana Bass, told the Washington Examiner that Butler’s tweet “does not merit a response.”
A truly intelligent person like Mr. Carson doesn't have to...

Green Man Down

Windmills aren't free:
Jay Nygard, founder of Go Green Energy, built the 29-foot-high turbine, which has been likened to a giant eggbeater, on his Orono, Minn., property in 2010 despite being denied a permit. Nygard and his lawyer, who argue that having a 1.5-kilowatt turbine is a right -- rather than a fixture subject to zoning laws -- spent a year fighting to keep it in place.

“My husband is a libertarian, and he has very strong views about Americans' rights to things," Nygard's wife, Kendall, said. "And if you're a property owner, you have some rights. When he sees things that are being violated, he's not afraid to take them head on."
Blowhards make their own wind...

The Yard In The Yard

Are you smarter than an inmate?
It took place at the Eastern New York Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison in Napanoch. The Ivy League undergrads were invited last month to debate the inmates who take in-prison courses taught by Bard College faculty.

Harvard's team won the national title this year and the world championship in 2014.

But the inmates are building a reputation, too. The club has notched victories against teams from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the University of Vermont.

Against Harvard, the inmates were tasked with defending the position that public schools should be allowed to turn away students whose parents came to the U.S. illegally. Harvard's team responded, but a panel of neutral judges declared the inmates victorious.
It takes lawbreakers to know the law...


It's Ted Cruz versus the Sierra Club on global warming:

Trump's Land

He shoots, he misfires:
“Well, I think eminent domain is wonderful if you are building a highway and you need to build, as an example a highway, and you are going to be blocked by a holdout or, in some cases it’s a holdout, nobody knows this better than I do because I built a lot of buildings in Manhattan and you’ll have 12 sites and you’ll get 11 and you’ll have one holdout and you end up building around them and everything else, so I know better than anybody,” Trump said.

The billionaire continued, “I think eminent domain for massive projects, for instance you are going to create thousands of jobs and you have somebody who is in the way, and you pay that person far more — don’t forget, eminent domain, they get a lot of money. And you need a house in a certain location because you are going to build this massive development that is going to employ thousands of people … I think eminent domain is fine.”
I get that it can be sometimes necessary to deal with abandoned property. The problem is, in some cases it isn't...

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

This Diplomat For Sale

Diplomacy was very good for business:
John Ashe, the U.N. ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda who was president in 2013, was accused in a complaint filed in federal court in New York of taking more than $1.3 million in bribes from Chinese businessmen, including developer Ng Lap Seng.

The complaint said Ng, through intermediaries, paid Ashe more than $500,000. In exchange, Ashe told the U.N. secretary general that a yet-to-be built multibillion-dollar U.N.-sponsored conference center in Macau was needed.

The intermediaries included Ng's assistant, Jeff Yin, and Francis Lorenzo, who had been a deputy U.N. ambassador from the Dominican Republic.

Yin, 29, was arrested with Ng, 68, last month on separate charges.

Yin told FBI agents after the arrest that his boss viewed the conference center as his legacy and had made payments to obtain action from the United Nations on it, the complaint said.
You've got to pay for that legacy...

The Men's Rooms

It's a "therapeutic retreat":
In an interview with La Repubblica, Fr Pastò denied his institution was specifically for gay and paedophile priests, but did not deny that such clergy had come there in the past. “Right now we have neither priests nor gay paedophile priests. Of course, our task is to welcome everyone,” he said, adding that some priests who came to the monastery had problems with drug or alcohol abuse. He would not comment on which, if any, psychological or psychiatric treatments were used to treat residents.

The monastery’s website says that “various types of therapy allow the community to host a large number of priests and religious people, offering them a relaxed and open environment in which to confront their difficulties”.
Apparently sharing a building with other men isn't supposed to be one of them...

Boss Machine

Your boss, the 'bot?
Increasingly, the day-to-day decisions in a company will be made by learning algorithms, and our job will be to supervise them and make the longer-range decisions.

What should businesspeople watch out for?

Companies increasingly use learning algorithms to select job applicants and to evaluate employees for promotions and raises, so machine learning could make or break your career. In fact, in the future we'll often see workers whose boss is an algorithm, and they'll be surprisingly happy with it, because algorithms can be fairer, less egotistic and more helpful than at least mediocre bosses.
Just don't ask it for a raise...

It's Boring Down Below

Friends don't let friends work drunk:
Officials from the National Science Foundation told an audit of healthy and safety at the two US-run bases — McMurdo Station and the South Pole — that drinking has led to “unpredictable behaviour that has led to fights, indecent exposure, and employees arriving to work under the influence”, according to a report in Wired.
The agency is reportedly considering shipping several breathalysers to the isolated stations, which together house up to about 1,150 people, including scientists and support staff.
But such a move could potentially pose legal and administrative problems, as Antarctica is not US territory and it is not clear who would conduct the tests and what rights of appeal would be available.
It's not like the penguins can be designated drivers...

Monday, October 05, 2015

The Invisible Woman

In her defense, people can see right through her:

The Devil's Platform

I knew politicians were evil, but:
Invictus, who stands accused of “brutally and sadistically” dismembering a goat, also has faced criticism for “trying to recruit neo-Nazis” into the Libertarian Party, according to the report.

“I did sacrifice a goat. I know that’s probably a quibble in the mind of most Americans,” the candidate admitted when contacted by Salon. “I sacrificed an animal to the god of the wilderness — yes, I drank the goat’s blood.”

Fellow Libertarian Adrian Wyllie, who ran for the Florida governor’s office last year, told the paper that Invictus is not fit to serve in the U.S. Senate.

“He is the absolute exact opposite of a Libertarian. He’s a self-proclaimed fascist. He’s promoting a second civil war,” Wyllie was quoted as saying. “It’s absolute insanity. We must explain to people this is the opposite of Libertarians. This guy has no place in the Libertarian Party.”
On the contrary, he'd fit right in with the other bloodsuckers...

Muscles Are Evil

Big biceps are bad?
The size of G.I. Joe’s biceps and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s guns in the Terminator movies is proof that the dominant form of masculinity is out of control.

That message and similar ones were conveyed recently to students during Vanderbilt University’s “Healthy Masculinities Week,” organized by the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center. Attendance for students was optional.

As evidence, Katz noted that G.I. Joe’s biceps have gotten larger over the years and that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone use bigger guns for their iconic roles as the Terminator and Rambo than did Humphrey Bogart in his 1930s and 1940s film roles.
Only girly men are jealous of other guys' guns...

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Chicken Takes Manhattan

They have arrived:
A highly adored and highly controversial fast food chain satisfied cravings and ruffled a few feathers Saturday with the grand opening of its first official Manhattan outpost. Chick-Fil-A, the massively popular Southern staple owned by a conservative Christian family known for their anti-gay marriage views, hatched a 5,000-square-foot store in Herald Square to mixed reviews from fervent devotees and activists.

“This is the best chicken in the world, in my opinion.” said Dana Kelly, 25, after devouring an original chicken sandwich with waffle fries. “It was completely worth it. It’s like nothing else.” Thousands of hungry, and soggy, fast food fanatics braved the bad weather to get a taste of the chain’s signature sandwiches. A few hundred even camped out overnight. Hours after the doors opened, a 20-minute-long line still stretched down W. 37th St. from the front doors on Sixth Ave.

But not everyone outside the new sandwich shop Saturday was there for a taste of chicken. “I was very shocked by the amount of people lining up to support this company,” said Lila Trenkova, a founder of Collectively Free, an animal and gay rights activist group. “I think that it’s ignorance rather than people actually not caring.” Trenkova and about two dozen others staged a demonstration outside the three-story behemoth to protest Chick-Fil-A’s history as a conservative-owned chicken palace.
Oh, the horror. But somehow I don't think the chickens care who eats them...

Chaffetz Is In

Jason Chaffetz enters the race for Speaker:
Chaffetz, a four-time Congressman from Utah, made the announcement in an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.”
“We were entrusted by the American people with the largest majority the Republicans have ever had since Babe Ruth was swinging the baseball bat," the 48-year-old Chaffetz said. "But they didn’t send us here to perpetuate the status quo. They want us to tackle the tough issues.”
House conservatives who hoped to shake up their party leadership by pushing out Boehner are seeing those efforts boosted by the shaky week for the lawmaker seen to be next-in-line , Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California. His first days as presumed next-speaker were marred by a statement that the committee investigating the 2012 Benghazi attacks has eroded support for Democrat Hillary Clinton’s presidential race.
If you support him, wish him luck. As Speaker he'll need it...

Surviving The Gaming

How to win friends in multi-player land:
First: you are not a professional gamer. Don’t laugh, they exist. You’re just not one of them. That means that you’re raiding dungeons on your own time… and so is everybody that you’re playing with. A related point to this is that you are also not Paul Anka (language warning). You do not in fact slice like a hammer; more to the point, you don’t actually have the right to yell at other gamers even when you’re right. Lastly (on this point): you are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. Well, OK, maybe you are… but you still don’t have a special permit signed by God that allows you to take your bad mood out on the rest of the Internet.

Now that we’ve established that you are, in point of fact, not entitled to let out your inner eight-year-old in a dungeon raid, how do you learn to behave? Well, there are many things that people have learned to do in order to be nicer people, but that takes time and effort and possibly motivation. You need help now. And there’s a secret technique! …It’s called “shutting up.”
If you can't play well with others, etc...

King Of The Core

The new Secretary of Education is a big fan:
Throughout the public unrest and political jockeying, King remained staunchly committed to the Common Core and related reforms. With an even temper and soft, academic speaking style, he framed education reform as a civil rights issue, arguing that raising standards and holding teachers and schools accountable for students’ performance are the only ways to heal an educational system that fails so many children — particularly poor black and Latino boys.

King, 40, is a Brooklyn native who had a difficult childhood and went on to earn degrees from Harvard, Yale and Columbia universities. He later founded a national charter school chain before becoming New York’s youngest schools chief.

He left the New York State education department at the end of last year — to the undisguised delight of his critics — for a federal role. Since January, he has served as a senior adviser to U.S. education secretary Arne Duncan, who the president announced on Friday will be stepping down. King plans to serve for the remainder of the president’s second term.
He wants to do for America what he did for New York...

The Walking Right

There are no liberals after the zombie apocalypse:
Oh, and the zombie universe has no use for idealism. Indeed, TWD has made a cottage industry of finding and destroying tiny post-apocalyptic utopias. Season 2 wrecked an idyllic farm, where a family hoped to ride out the crisis. In Season 3, the fortress town of Woodbury — led by a homicidal maniac called The Governor — is the scene of a bloodbath. The list could go on. The utopias fail because living people are far more dangerous than the zombies themselves. They kill through naïveté and wishful thinking, and they kill through sheer bloody-mindedness. The groups that survive are the ones whose members understand that trust is hard-earned and there is no such thing as a “safe space.”
The walkers don't care about hurting your feelings...

Conservatism Comes To Westeros

Maybe Game of Thrones isn't so left-wing, after all:
As in all good literature, “Game of Thrones” presents values and facets of the human condition which can be championed by people across the political spectrum. The real meat of the show is portraying moral conflict in individuals — and showing the true heroism in a flawed human being. This complex view of morality may indeed argue for a more conservative approach.

Martin aimed to create a morally complex world. “The sort of fantasy where all the people get together to fight the dark lord doesn’t interest me,” he told The New Republic in 2013. Martin works to present “stories of the human heart in conflict with itself,” using such themes as “love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice.”
Qualities many lefties lack...

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Fill In The Blank

New Yorkers are asked to describe their former Senator:

Risk Remorse

The corridor is becoming quite narrow:
Insurers requested $2.87 billion in so-called “risk corridors” payments for 2014, but will only receive $362 million, or 12.6%, said the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which oversees Obamacare.

The risk corridors program’s goal is to help insurers transition into the individual exchanges, which opened in 2014. Insurers had a tough time setting premiums since they didn’t know how sick their new customers would be.

Under the three-year program, insurers whose premiums exceeded claims pay into the fund, while their peers who didn’t charge enough premiums to cover claims could draw from it.

But too many insurers miscalculated when they set their rates for 2014.
They wanted the reward, but not the risk...

Friday, October 02, 2015

The Queen Is Coming (Eventually)

Suppose they gave a campaign and the candidate never came?
Clinton finally did take the stage more than an hour after she was supposed to, a pattern at recent events that are meant to energize Democratic volunteers and voters in key states.

In Baton Rouge last week, Clinton ran an hour late for her organizing event. The same day in Little Rock, she appeared more than 30 minutes after the crowd in a sweltering gym expected her.

The next day in Des Moines, Iowa, she walked on stage 40 minutes late in another gym where campaign staffers had carted in fans and bottled water to cool the overheated crowd.

And at an event on substance abuse Thursday in Dorchester, Massachusetts, Clinton was 50 minutes behind schedule.
Maybe she was checking her emails...

Climate Change For Fun And Non-Profit Profit

What does it mean to be a "nonprofit" activist?
Re. Lamar Smith (R-TX) Chairman of the House Committee on Space, Science and Technology, has written to Professor Jagadish Shukla of George Mason University, in Virginia, requesting that he release all relevant documents pertaining to his activities as head of a non-profit organization called the Institute of Global Environment And Society.

Smith has two main areas of concern.

First, the apparent engagement by the institute in “partisan political activity” – which, as a non-profit, it is forbidden by law from doing.

Second, what precisely has the IGES institute done with the $63 million in taxpayer grants which it has received since 2001 and which appears to have resulted in remarkably little published research?
Why mess up a good thing?

The Gridiron Comes To London?

Are they ready for some real football?
Osborne said he would “love to have a team here based in the UK playing in the NFL” and he believed Britain was making steps towards that goal. “The real prize, the real touchdown for London, would be to get a team based here,” he said.

When asked about the potential timeframe for such a move, Osborne said: “Hopefully it is something we could achieve in the next few years, maybe four or five years’ time. These things can’t change overnight because obviously teams are already based in some home cities in the States. But I am in talks with the NFL, sorting out the arrangements.

“They get such a huge welcome, teams like the Dolphins and the Jets when they come here, there is a big fanbase here and it would mean a huge amount for our economy because it would confirm London as the sporting capital of the world – and that is what I want to see.”
Interesting, but if the Brits want a team, perhaps they should create their own. Anyone up for the London Hitters?

Government Talent Wanted

Should there be a Department of Talent?
He doesn’t want to simply merge the Education and Labor departments. (That idea has been struck down before, and rightly so, he says.) Instead, he wants to combine the Education Department with the Employment and Training Administration at the Labor Department, the “talent recruitment functions” of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service at the Homeland Security Department and the Office of Head Start in the Health and Human Services Department.

Without getting too into the weeds here, the idea is to create cradle-to-grave (or, at least, productive adulthood) talent development.
If there's one place that's sorely in need of talent, government would be it...

By Their Beards You Shall Know Them

Finally, a full face of hair:
Hair transplants from a generation ago had the unfortunate effect of making the scalp look like a doll’s head, because what were transplanted were pluglike grafts of about 15 hair follicles. Those who underwent the procedure could disguise the plugs by growing their hair longer and teasing it into Trumpian swirls.

A beard transplant was not possible then because the procedure would have left the patient with a cobblestoned complexion.

Today, surgeons, whether working on a scalp or face, transplant single hair follicles instead of plugs of 15 of them. That means more natural-looking beards, which can be shaved and then regrown, just as with regular beards .

“No one suspected,” said Jeff, 30, a health care consultant who lives outside of Toronto. (Like other men interviewed, he asked that his last name not be used.) Dr. Jamil Asaria, a facial plastic surgeon in Toronto, performed the beard transplant at a cost of about $10,000. “It’s like I was never a beard guy, and now I grew a beard,” Jeff said, “so I would say it was pretty stealth.”

Dr. Marc Dauer, a hair transplant surgeon in Los Angeles, said that five years ago he performed about five beard transplants in a year. Now he does that many in a month.
Fear the beard makers...

Super Vlad

Save us, Vladimir Putin, you're our only hope?
The Kremlin has stepped up its Syria campaign propaganda efforts, diverting attention from Russia’s economic woes to the bombing in Syria of what Putin has called “evil-doers,” reports Bloomberg.

Putin controls Russia’s largest television networks.

Russia’s most-watched television station, Channel 1, featured a spectacle of politicians, analysts, both Christian and Muslim religious leaders, all justifying Putin’s use of force in Syria on legal and moral grounds.

“This is more than just military strikes against Islamic State,” commented Igor Korotchenko, editor of National Defense magazine, after Russian lawmakers unanimously authorized the use of force. “We are protecting the values of humanity and taking a stand against the most extreme forms of obscurantism and terror.”
Somebody has to, but what does it say when it's Putin's Russia?

CBS's Garden

Picking and choosing?
“I just received confirmation from 60 Minutes that a piece on Julian Assange will air Sunday night,” Philip Crowley, then-assistant secretary of state for public affairs, wrote to Clinton in 2011. “He will be the only person featured. We had made a number of suggestions for outside experts and former diplomats to interview to ‘balance’ the piece. 60 Minutes assures me that they raised a number of questions and concerns we planted with them during the course of the interview. We will be prepared to respond to the narrative Assange presents during the program.”

“60 Minutes” spokesman Kevin Tedesco told CNN Money that Crowley’s claim is “preposterous.”

“The idea of a ‘plant’ is as preposterous as this email writer’s attempt to get credit from his boss,” Tedesco said. “We spoke to many sources for this story.”
All pre-approved, of course...

Blind Woman's Bluff

What if you didn't want to see?
Determined to make her dream a reality, Jewel found a psychologist willing to help her become blind - an act which she compares to a deaf person wanting to get a cochlear implant.

The psychologist put in numbing eyedrops - acquired by Jewel during a special visit to Canada - and then a couple of drops of drain cleaner in each eye.

Jewel said: "It hurt, let me tell you. My eyes were screaming and I had some drain cleaner going down my cheek burning my skin.

"But all I could think was 'I am going blind, it is going to be okay."
When you go to a psychologist for "help," this isn't the first thing that comes to mind...

Courage, Revisited

How to rewrite history for fun and profit:
“Truth” makes it appear that the documents’ contents were verified by a senior officer in Bush’s unit, Gen. Bobby Hodges. Mapes is seen reading the documents over the phone to him, and Hodges agrees that they accurately reflected the mindset of Bush’s late commander, Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, whose signature is on the documents.
That, in reality, did not happen — at least according to Hodges: He was not told that the accuracy of the documents was in dispute, and essentially said, “If Killian wrote that, that’s what he felt,” noted Megan McArdle (an Obama voter) in an analysis of the case on Bloomberg View. Hodges took extensive notes of the interview at the time, and some of the things Mapes would claim they discussed did not turn up in his version of the chat. (In the movie, Hodges is later shown objecting to being described in the media as Mapes’ trump card — but doesn’t deny having provided backing to Mapes’ story.)
Sometimes the losers write history-just not convincingly...