Five years of a pure neo-liberal regime had made Iceland, (population 320 thousand, no army), one of the richest countries in the world. In 2003 all the country’s banks were privatised, and in an effort to attract foreign investors, they offered on-line banking whose minimal costs allowed them to offer relatively high rates of return. The accounts, called IceSave, attracted many UK and Dutch small investors. But as investments grew, so did the banks’ foreign debt. In 2003 Iceland’s debt was equal to 200 times its GNP, but in 2007, it was 900 percent. The 2008 world financial crisis was the coup de grace. The three main Icelandic banks, Landbanki, Kapthing and Glitnir, went belly up and were nationalised, while the Kroner lost 85% of its value with respect to the Euro. At the end of the year Iceland declared bankruptcy.
Contrary to what could be expected, the crisis resulted in Icelanders recovering their sovereign rights, through a process of direct participatory democracy that eventually led to a new Constitution. But only after much pain.
I really don’t remember hearing anything about any of this anywhere. You’d think this would have been bigger news, since this is, you know, big news.
To write the new constitution, the people of Iceland elected twenty-five citizens from among 522 adults not belonging to any political party but recommended by at least thirty citizens. This document was not the work of a handful of politicians, but was written on the internet. The constituent’s meetings are streamed on-line, and citizens can send their comments and suggestions, witnessing the document as it takes shape. The constitution that eventually emerges from this participatory democratic process will be submitted to parliament for approval after the next elections.
Did you know that Chef Boyardee was a real person? Yeah, totally a real guy. Here’s All Things Considered:
Unlike the friendly but fictional food faces of Betty Crocker, Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben, Chef Boyardee — that jovial, mustachioed Italian chef — is real. Ettore “Hector” Boiardi (that’s how the family really spells it) founded the company with his brothers in 1928, after the family immigrated to America from Italy.
The family settled in Cleveland, where they thought they could open a successful Italian restaurant. “They had a real understanding of food,” Boiardi says. It was a generation of people who “grew up in kitchens, so food was really their education.”
Chef Boiardi’s Restaurant in Cleveland was a success, and customers expressed interest in learning how to make Italian dishes at home. So the Boiardis started sending people home with pasta, sauce and cheese and teaching them how to cook, heat and assemble the dishes themselves.
That’s what got the family thinking: ” ‘What if we started jarring our sauce and selling it? Would it sell?’ ” Boiardi says. “That was really this germ of an idea … that eventually turned into Chef Boyardee.”
He even appeared in television ads. After watching this, I’m now going to put the accent on the second syllable of “Boyardee” and see how long it takes people to figure out what I’m talking about.
I believe I may have found the worst news story in the history of news reporting. My life’s mission is now to destroy Jeff Daniels of CNBC, completely and utterly. From every point in the timestream, in this and all other universes.
From the title, you can guess the subject: CNBC has done some crack reporting on the apparently counterintuitive result that a natural disaster may cause a dip in theater revenue. The title alone was enough to get me to click through, where I was treated to this little beauty:
"Hurricane Irene is definitely wounding this weekend’s box office, but only by washing away a couple million off the top of our estimates," Boxoffice Magazine’s Amy Nicholson tells CNBC. "To be honest, none of this weekend’s three new releases was projected to open to more than $12 million."
Yes, she used the phrase “washing away.” She could not let it go. In the face of a natural disaster, she still had to slip the pun in there.
Oh wait, she’s not done yet? Crap.
Nicholson said the marketing on new releases “just wasn’t there to motivate people to leave their houses regardless of the weather. At least those executives now have an act-of-God excuse for why their films underperformed.”
A cogent analysis. Hollywood marketing is not yet good enough to compel people to brave a hurricane.
And yes, the real winner of Hurricane Irene? Film company executives.
These two quotes alone would have been enough for me to write this piece up. But wait! Daniels has one more trick up his sleeve. Because Amy Nicholson was somehow not offensive enough on her own, Daniels dug up this quote for the final paragraph:
Meanwhile, Time Warner Cable issued a press release saying “Hurricane Irene gives Time Warner Cable customers the perfect excuse to get caught up with on demand shows and movies.”
It was at this point that I picked up my chair, threw it through the window, jumped out, and ran screaming into the night.
Albin J. Kowalewski contributed a piece to The New York Times's Civil War liveblog, Disunion, on the 1861 search for a national anthem by the self-named “National Hymn Committee” of New York:
The committee wrote off the three existing contenders immediately: “Yankee Doodle” was “childish,” they said. “Hail, Columbia” was “pretentious.” The “Star-Spangled Banner” was just too hard to sing — indeed, according to the committee’s spokesman, Richard Grant White, they found it “to be almost useless.”
The committee turned to the literary public for help. From mid-May to early August, it held a contest challenging Yankee poets to compose “a national hymn or popular and patriotic song appealing to the national heart,” as George Templeton Strong, a committee member, described it. The competition would be judged blindly, and the committee retained the rights to publish and market the entries, the proceeds of which would go to the local “Patriotic Fund.” To the winner, however, the 13 committeemen promised $500 and the thanks of a grateful nation.
Punchline: it didn’t end well.
The problem was, the committee couldn’t agree on a clear winner. But not because there were so many good options — rather, it was because there were hardly any. On Aug. 9, 1861, the hymn committee announced that it couldn’t, in all fairness, choose a winner. “Although some of [the songs] have a degree of poetic excellence which will probably place them high in public favor as lyrical compositions,” it said in the New York Times, “no one of them is well suited for a National Hymn.” Strong was more blunt in private: most poems were “rubbish.”
MSNBC.com and the Associated Press reporting on something you would probably be better off not ever knowing:
Rebel fighters who ransacked [Moammar] Gadhafi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound have been turning up some bizarre loot, including the Libyan leader’s eccentric fashion accessories and his daughter’s golden mermaid couch. The latest discovery is a photo album filled with page after page of pictures of Rice, the former secretary of state who visited Tripoli in 2008.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland on Thursday said she hasn’t seen pictures of the album. “I think I don’t need to see the photos, but bizarre and creepy are good adjectives to describe much of Gadhafi’s behavior,” Nuland said. “It doesn’t surprise me. It’s deeply bizarre and deeply creepy, though, if it is as you described.”
"I support my darling black African woman," [Gadhafi said in 2007]. "I admire and am very proud of the way she leans back and gives orders to the Arab leaders. … Leezza, Leezza, Leezza. … I love her very much. I admire her, and I’m proud of her, because she’s a black woman of African origin."
The panel looked at eight common vaccines: the combination measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), the diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis (DTaP), varicella for chickenpox, influenza, hepatitis B, meningococcal, tetanus-containing vaccines, and the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.
Once again, the [Institute of Medicine] found that the MMR vaccine does not cause autism, nor does it cause type 1 diabetes, [committee chair Ellen Wright] Clayton said.
"The DTaP vaccine, which is the pertussis vaccine, does not cause type 1 diabetes, and the killed flu vaccine does not cause Bell’s palsy (temporary facial paralysis) and it doesn’t make your asthma get worse," Clayton said.
"The evidence was really quite strong that vaccines don’t cause these side effects," she said.
Vaccine denial makes me upset.
If it were just about the person, then my position would be far more moderate. The government forcing someone to get juiced up is not particularly appealing to me; if that guy is a moron who wants to get diphtheria or some other horrifying disease we solved a hundred years ago, then let him for all I care.
The thing with vaccines is that they’re not just about the person getting them, but also everyone that person will ever come in contact with. One less person who can catch a disease is one less person who can spread it around. Herd immunity is mathematically a real thing, and it’s the reason that parents with three functioning brain cells who believe everything they read on the internet can decide “oh measles isn’t a problem any more, my kid doesn’t need this shot” (which in turn is why Indiana had a measles outbreak in 2005).
Vaccinations protect everyone, and anyone who thinks we shouldn’t be doing them is a selfish cockmagnet who doesn’t understand science.
And, as shown above, the whole autism thing is just a complete crock of shit. Andrew Wakefield in particular is a fraud who had conflicts of interest (including patenting his own vaccine), manipulated data, and performed unnecessary and invasive tests on children. Wakefield’s “landmark” paper was published by The Lancet in 1998, and ten of his twelve co-authors retracted its interpretation in 2004. In 2010, The Lancet fully retracted the whole paper. And yet somehow there are people who still believe that anything this man says is worth listening to.
Travis Fahs of The Next Level put together a nice piece for Gamasutra on Nintendo’s subcontracting of the development of Donkey Kong to Ikegami Tsushinki and their subsequent copyright infringement battle.
What, you hadn’t heard about any of this before? Don’t blame you, I hadn’t either. This doesn’t appear to have been particularly known at all in countries outside Japan until quite recently. Japanese game writer Masumi Akagi wrote a book in 2005 titled Sore wa “Pong” kara Hajimatta which appears to be the definitive source on this. Fahs put together his piece with research from the book and GDRI.
Ikegami Tsushinki produced the initial shipment of boards, just as they had done for Radar Scope, but Donkey Kong was a huge hit and Nintendo needed more. Demand was so high in America that Arakawa began manufacturing new units in Nintendo of America’s warehouse.
But Nintendo didn’t actually own the manufacturing rights to Donkey Kong. Although their game was still a Nintendo product, and the characters, name, and brand all belonged to it, the development contract gave Ikegami Tsushinki the exclusive rights to manufacture and sell boards to Nintendo for ¥70,000 each. After the initial order of 8,000 units, Nintendo ceased to buy boards from Ikegami. Although the contract was unclear with regard to actual copyright of the program code — still new territory for the law — Ikegami was named as the sole supplier for Donkey Kong boards.
Nintendo didn’t see it that way. Before long, Nintendo had manufactured about 80,000 additional units without Ikegami’s involvement, burning the bridge with the company that had developed its biggest hit, and opening themselves up to a bitter legal battle that would drag on for almost a decade.
Linda Loyd for the McClatchy-Tribune News Service:
Sweeping pro-consumer passenger rights rules go into effect in the U.S. on August 23 that require airlines to refund baggage fees for lost checked luggage and to pay more for involuntarily bumping passengers on over-booked flights.
The rules, designed to protect airline consumers from unfair and deceptive practices, extend fines to foreign carriers and to international flying by U.S. airlines, if passengers are stuck on airport tarmacs for more than four hours.
The new requirements have been praised by passenger rights advocates, but criticized by the airline industry for adding costs and challenges that could lead to higher ticket prices and more cancellations.
The International Air Transport Association, a trade group for 230 airlines worldwide, called the provisions “troublesome” and “a significant intrusion into the commercial marketplace. We are happy that they postponed some aspects of it for six months,” said spokesman Perry Flint.
Alright guys, look.
I understand that you don’t like being meddled with. Just like I’m sure the government doesn’t like having to waste time keeping an eye on you when it has more important things to do.
But maybe if you weren’t such tremendous douchebags.
Chandler Levack, on the Manic Pixie Dream Girl — think Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Natalie Portman in Garden State, Zooey Deschanel in (500) Days of Summer:
All vaguely artistic, politically sensitive over-sharers, they lure in lost boys like the humane society for doomed relationships. But it’s their very irrationality that makes them irresistible. For the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, men (and women) can’t help but lose themselves in their sexy, aimless lifestyle. And compared to girls like them — with their boundless empathy, their emotional vulnerability, their vintage-purse collection — girls like us are totally screwed.
A really fascinating, well-researched article about an archetype that’s all over modern Gen-Y cinema. A couple things struck me:
“Men want to be the listless protagonist who needs a woman to teach them how to be human,” he says. “And for men, I would advise to ‘be your own manic pixie dream girl.’ Free free to prance around and wear silly hats and fly kites all day. And while schizophrenia might ensue, at least you’ll be colourful.”
As for women, Fowles says the first step in confronting the MPDG is realizing, like all the scary creatures hiding under your bed, that she doesn’t exist.
This is probably my favorite part of the whole article — the advice for both men and for women is fantastic. I can speak from personal experience that I’m much happier after I learned both of the above lessons.
The sad truth of sexual liberation is that you have feel liberated. My judgmental/never-getting-laid self believes that the girl who acts freely with her heart and vagina can’t possibly be free because she doesn’t understand the ramifications that come with sex.
I couldn’t resist throwing this in here, even though it’s a bit obscure. But for any student of Strauss and Howe, these sentences should jump right out at you.
I was reading this excellent piece by Anil Dash on how Apple shows that liberal values aren’t antithetical to business success. I don’t really have anything to add other than full-throated agreement, but this caught my eye. On Jobs’s early life:
So, who is this man? He’s the anchor baby of an activist Arab muslim who came to the U.S. on a student visa and had a child out of wedlock.
Jobs was born in San Francisco, California and was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs (née Hagopian) of Mountain View, California, who named him Steven Paul. Paul and Clara later adopted a daughter, who they named Patti. Jobs’ biological parents – Abdulfattah Jandali, a Syrian graduate student who later became a political science professor, and Joanne Simpson, an American graduate student who went on to become a speech language pathologist – later married, giving birth to and raising Jobs’ biological sister, the novelist Mona Simpson.
Brony, short for “bro pony,” refers to an unusual audience demographic of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, a cartoon that began airing on the new cable network the Hub in October of last year. The show, based on the seminal 1980s toy franchise, was created for Hasbro by Lauren Faust, a former writer and director on The Powerpuff Girls. While it is marketed to children, it has quickly amassed a legion of fanboys between the ages of 18 and 35 who obsess over characters with names like Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, Applejack and Pinkie Pie. Predictably, this has led to some confusion.
First off, yes this is real. Secondly, LaMarche should be commended for writing such a well researched, serious article about 4chan and internet culture. More like this.
Here’s some local news for me, but when you read this, I think you’ll agree with me that what the fuck is this. Jaclyn O’Malley reporting for the Reno Gazette-Journal:
Someone has caused the death of more than 100 birds — some protected species — by intentionally leaving out poisoned birdseed in the gated community of Arrowcreek that was soaked or dusted with an illegal insecticide, state wildlife and agriculture officials said Friday.
Nevada Department of Agriculture Environmental Scientist Jon Carpenter said worbex was used until the 1980s by farmers and ranchers before it was banned. It is extremely toxic to birds. He said birds who ate the poisoned seeds would have died quickly.
"Our concerns are that this insecticide has a long life," Carpenter said. "It kills the birds, and then the chemicals are still good. Another animal feeding on the dead or dying bird will likely become sick or die.
"It’s not like you can go to your ACE Hardware store and get it off the shelf," he said. "It’s likely this person has close ties to agriculture, ranching and livestock production and is knowledgeable about what this does to birds. Or they know someone who had it."
What kind of thought process could possibly lead to this? Actually, scratch that. I do not want to know.
A team of researchers that included an North Carolina State University geologist found evidence that our ancestors were crossing open water at least 130,000 years ago. That’s more than 100,000 years earlier than scientists had previously thought.
Their evidence is based on stone tools from the island of Crete. Because Crete has been an island for eons, any prehistoric people who left tools behind would have had to cross open water to get there.
Most of what’s written about how the internet is changing society is purely alarmist — Is Google Making Us Stupid?, The Great Failure of Wikipedia, and such. Not so in this fantastic article by Maria Bustillos. She presents a much more realistic take on how the notion of expertise has changed over time.
Muammar Gaddafi’s former right-hand man, Abdel Salam Jalloud, has defected to rebel-held territory in Libya’s Western Mountains, a rebel spokesman said on Friday.
Jalloud was a member of the junta that staged a 1969 coup bringing Gaddafi to power, and was seen as the North African oil producer state’s second in command before falling out of Gaddafi’s favor in the 1990s.
"He is definitely here in Zintan. He is under the control of the military council here," Massoud Ali, a local rebel spokesman, told Reuters. Rebels showed Reuters a video of a person they identified as Jalloud standing among them earlier in the day.
Just a reminder that Libya is still in rebellion, and we’re still drone bombing it. These things are historically never resolved quickly, and despite the fact that the news on the TV machine doesn’t talk about it much any more, shit is still happening in Libya.
In the first and perhaps only time I’ll be quoting an AP fashion writer, here’s Jenny Barchfield:
A new book by [Hal Vaughan,] a Paris-based American historian[,] suggests Chanel not only had a wartime affair with a German aristocrat and spy, but that she herself was also an agent of Germany’s Abwehr military intelligence organization and a rabid anti-Semite.
Doubts about Chanel’s loyalties during World War II have long festered, but “Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War” goes well beyond those previous allegations, citing as evidence documents culled from archives around the world.
The book, published in the U.S. on Tuesday by Knopf, has ruffled feathers in France, where the luxury industry is a pillar of the economy and Chanel is widely regarded as the crowning jewel.
The House of Chanel was quick to react, saying in a statement that “more than 57 books have been written about Gabrielle Chanel. … We would encourage you to consult some of the more serious ones.”
The book alleges that in 1940, Chanel was recruited into the Abwehr — her nom de guerre borrowed from another of her lovers, the Duke of Westminster. A year later, she traveled to Spain on a spy mission — on condition that the Nazis release her nephew from a military internment camp — and later went to Berlin on the orders of a top SS general, the book says.
It also suggests that Chanel’s alleged anti-Semitism pushed her to try to capitalize on laws allowing for the expropriation of Jewish property to wrest control of the Chanel perfume lines from the Wertheimer brothers, a Jewish family who’d helped make her Chanel No. 5 a worldwide best-seller.
German skinheads who took home free T-shirts after a music festival on Saturday were in for a big surprise.
The shirts, which bore a skull and crossbones symbol and the word ‘Hardcore Rebels,’ faded upon washing to reveal a hidden message: “What happened to your shirt can happen to you. We can help you break with right-wing extremism.”
The T-shirts were the work of Exit Deutschland, a group that helps young people transition out of militant right-wing lifestyles.
David E. Campbell and Robert D. Putnam wrote an interesting op-ed for The New York Times that looks into the Tea Party from an angle not often covered: the people who would go on to form it. The Tea Party’s origin is often glossed over or assumed in media coverage as people new to politics who were mad about taxes or something or other. Campbell and Putnam actually interviewed people before and after the movement got underway, giving them real information about the folks who would join the Tea Party:
Beginning in 2006 we interviewed a representative sample of 3,000 Americans as part of our continuing research into national political attitudes, and we returned to interview many of the same people again this summer. As a result, we can look at what people told us, long before there was a Tea Party, to predict who would become a Tea Party supporter five years later. We can also account for multiple influences simultaneously — isolating the impact of one factor while holding others constant.
Our analysis casts doubt on the Tea Party’s “origin story.” Early on, Tea Partiers were often described as nonpartisan political neophytes. Actually, the Tea Party’s supporters today were highly partisan Republicans long before the Tea Party was born, and were more likely than others to have contacted government officials. In fact, past Republican affiliation is the single strongest predictor of Tea Party support today.
So what do Tea Partiers have in common? … [T]hey were disproportionately social conservatives in 2006 — opposing abortion, for example — and still are today. Next to being a Republican, the strongest predictor of being a Tea Party supporter today was a desire, back in 2006, to see religion play a prominent role in politics. And Tea Partiers continue to hold these views: they seek “deeply religious” elected officials, approve of religious leaders’ engaging in politics and want religion brought into political debates. The Tea Party’s generals may say their overriding concern is a smaller government, but not their rank and file, who are more concerned about putting God in government.
Great list of untranslatable words from Jason Wire:
Ilunga Tshiluba (Southwest Congo) – A word famous for its untranslatability, most professional translators pinpoint it as the stature of a person “who is ready to forgive and forget any first abuse, tolerate it the second time, but never forgive nor tolerate on the third offense.”
‘Ili: Where by “untranslatable” they mean “translatable, but just not in one word”?
Colin: Well, not translatable inline in a sentence.
Colin: But yes.
‘Ili: Also what the hell
Colin: Like, if someone used “ilunga” in a sentence at the UN, what the fuck would you do?
Afghanistan veteran Jonathan Rabb, writing on the NYT’s At War blog:
Both of my parents stared hard into their dinner plates. “Everybody wants to support the troops until they have to share in the hardship and sacrifice,” I said. “Then all of a sudden that bumper sticker or that flag pin doesn’t mean anything anymore.”
The rest of the piece quite excellent as well; it’s about the very real and often overlooked difficulties that veterans have reintegrating into civilian life.
In the letter, which was written four years ago but published only on Tuesday, Goodman claims that phone hacking was “widely discussed” at editorial meetings at the paper until Coulson himself banned further references to it; that Coulson offered to let him keep his job if he agreed not to implicate the paper in hacking when he came to court; and that his own hacking was carried out with “the full knowledge and support” of other senior journalists, whom he named.
The claims are acutely troubling for the prime minister, David Cameron, who hired Coulson as his media adviser on the basis that he knew nothing about phone hacking. And they confront Rupert and James Murdoch with the humiliating prospect of being recalled to parliament to justify the evidence which they gave last month on the aftermath of Goodman’s allegations. In a separate letter, one of the Murdochs’ own law firms claim that parts of that evidence were variously “hard to credit”, “self-serving” and “inaccurate and misleading”.
I believe I’ve mentioned this here once or twice in passing, but about a year ago I stopped watching CNN for any reason. I just could not stand the tripe they called “news,” calling a Democrat and a Republican yelling talking points at one another “analysis,” crowdsourcing journalism, and basically everything else that anyone on that network ever did. And I’ve been a much happier person since then.
CNN’s “Chief Business Correspondent,” Ali Velshi, was on The Daily Show yesterday. Because I try to pretend CNN doesn’t exist, his face was kind of familiar, but I hadn’t really heard of him before. So when Jon Stewart introduced him, and especially when the cover of his new book was shown, confidence was not inspired in me about how this interview was going to go.
But my jaw dropped when it turned out that someone at CNN is actually capable of critical thinking:
The three things that make you feel prosperous in your life, are (1) the value of your investments going up, if you have investments, and that’s the stock market; (2) the value of your home going up, if you have a home – but you can actually live without investments and a home. You can’t live without an income. So your job, and the idea that you will earn and continue to earn, is the most important. So, the stock market’s not the most important thing, the debt ceiling’s not the most important thing – employment or unemployment is the most important thing, and that’s what you feel good or bad about.
I wish that we had treated jobs the way we treated this debt ceiling, which was a bit of a manufactured crisis. Jobs isn’t, so what if we actually got everybody together and said there was some deadline for us to figure out how you create jobs in this country. Can you imagine if the passion and the energy that went into this ridiculous debt ceiling debate had gone into, “how do we actually get jobs created?”
And then there was this amazing exchange about retraining. Why doesn’t anyone talk about this?
Ali Velshi: We have a whole lot of people unemployed in this country who are not trained for the things we actually need people to be able to do. So what if we had a way for those unemployed people who are trained in the wrong thing to get retrained, take the time out to do that – maybe it’s a year, maybe it’s two years, maybe it’s longer…
Jon Stewart: Who would retrain them?
AV: Well, they could be retrained in the private sector. There are companies, there are colleges that do this. Or you go to a college to become a nurse. If you’re a manufacturing worker…
JS: But if you don’t have a job, who pays for your…
AV: What if the government could guarantee the cost of that transformation?
JS: So you’re a socialist.
AV: What if the banks do it? The banks could do it. I can tell you what it would cost to reinvent yourself. What if you could take that calculation and say, “It’s going to cost me this much money, but I’m going to make this much more and pay taxes for the rest of my life, so why don’t you finance that transformation?”
This guy has a good head on his shoulders. I highly recommend watching this if you’re tired of the bullshit and want to hear a real person talking about real things.
As we told you late last month, the State Board of Education approved instructional materials in science that could be used in Texas public schools for the better part of the next decade. In all, the board approved materials from nine publishers. But in the case of one of those publishers, Holt McDougal, it did so on the condition that it make changes of so-called “errors” that were based on the objections of a well-known creationist who reviewed the materials. […]
Well, those changes are now in (click here to download a PDF) and so are the reviews. TFN, NCSE and other scientists have reviewed the changes and have found them to be in line with established, fact-based science.
Here’s the head-exploding part for the creationists. Not only does the final version of Holt not include creationist arguments against evolution, but they also include language explicitly affirming Darwin’s theories.
In their game yesterday against the Dodgers, the Brewers turned a beautiful triple play. Adam McCalvy for MLB.com:
With Dodgers at first and second base and nobody out in a scoreless game, James Loney hit a grounder up the middle. [Second baseman Josh] Wilson ranged to his right, gobbled up the baseball and flipped it with his glove to shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt for the first out. Betancourt threw to Prince Fielder at first for out No. 2, and Fielder, seeing Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp trying to sneak home, fired to catcher George Kottaras for the inning-ending tag.
Even if it had only been a double play, it still would’ve been a good one. Wilson’s glove flip was a nice little move. But Fielder’s heads-up play at first base got the lead runner as he attempted to go from second base to home. Check the link for a video; it’s a nice piece of work.
Monica Eng and Chris Borrelli of the Chicago Tribune:
Today [Kris] Swanberg’s Nice Cream — on offer at local Whole Foods and farmers markets — is considered a star of Chicago’s rich and beloved artisanal ice cream scene, one that could be shut down entirely by state rules, she recently learned.
She says that a couple of weeks ago a representative from the Illinois Department of Public Health came to Logan Square Kitchen and informed her she’d have to shut down if she did not get something called “a dairy license.”
To get this license Swanberg wrote, in an email, she would have to:
"Work out of our own space. Currently we work out of the Logan Square Kitchen."
"Have our product tested once a month for bacterial levels."
"Change all of our packaging and labels to meet state standards."
"Purchase a pasteurizer, which from what the state tells me will be about $40,000 or use a pre-made ice cream mix."
Swanberg says that the IDPH officer who visited told her that her ice cream probably wouldn’t pass the bacteria tests if she continued to use fresh strawberries. Instead the officer suggested she use “strawberry syrup,” Swanberg said.
IDPH spokesperson Melanie Arnold said that it isn’t illegal to use real strawberries but that IDPH “does not encourage it simply because when you try and clean a strawberry to make sure it doesn’t have any bacteria, it kind of deteriorates.”
The department’s Dairy Equipment Specialist, Don Wilding, said that other ice cream producers use irradiated strawberries. He says look good but he can’t vouch for the taste.
Swanberg could continue to work without a license, Wilding said, if she used a premade ice cream mix that is usually formulated with stabilizers and other additives — the kind of thing typically used at Dairy Queens, Wilding noted.
On the plus side, food standards are nice. I generally approve of things that keep me from dying.
But when we get to the point where we can’t even make food with fresh ingredients, then maybe we should take a look at what exactly it is we’re trying to regulate in the first place. There has to be a way we can prevent E. coli outbreaks without forcing everyone to eat nothing but nutritive bean paste from a bag.
I hope you’re paid up on your rage bill, because you’re about to use a good portion of your monthly allotment after reading this article by Ashby Jones for The Wall Street Journal:
A former Pennsylvania county judge was sentenced to 28 years in prison Thursday following a corruption scandal in which he was convicted of illegally taking nearly $1 million from a builder of juvenile-detention facilities.
In February, a federal jury in Scranton, Pa., found the former judge, Mark Ciavarella, 61, guilty on 12 charges related to an alleged scheme in which prosecutors said he sentenced juveniles to private detention facilities in exchange for payments. He was convicted of racketeering, money laundering and conspiracy, but acquitted on 27 charges, including bribery and extortion.
Another judge, Michael Conahan, pleaded guilty last year to a racketeering charge in connection with the alleged scheme. He is awaiting sentencing.
About two years after the allegations emerged in 2007, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered all of Mr. Ciavarella’s adjudications involving children over a five-year period to be vacated. That wiped clean the records of about 4,000 juveniles, ranging from 10 to 18 years old.
At the trial, prosecutors alleged that in 2000, Mr. Ciavarella approached Robert Powell, a Luzerne County, Pa., lawyer and developer, and encouraged him to facilitate the building of two new private juvenile-detention centers, claiming that he didn’t like the existing county-run facility.
The centers were built. Between June 2000 and the end of April 2007, Messrs. Ciavarella and Conahan collected about $2.8 million from Mr. Powell and others in exchange for decisions from the bench that kept juveniles flowing into the detention centers, prosecutors alleged.
In that time, Mr. Ciavarella sentenced thousands of young people to the detention centers, often for lengthy stays for relatively minor infractions.
His attorneys had asked for a “reasonable” sentence in court papers, saying, in effect, that he’d already been punished enough.
"The media attention to this matter has exceeded coverage given to many and almost all capital murders, and despite protestation, he will forever be unjustly branded as the ‘Kids for Cash’ judge," their sentencing memo said.
Well, if you didn’t want that appellation, then maybe you shouldn’t have sent thousands of kids to jail for cash.
Rachel Nuwer for the The Perch, Audubon Magazine's blog:
Sea lamprey’s parasitic propensity spelled bad news for the Great Lakes when the nasty critters first invaded the area over 100 years ago. Man-made canals allowed sea lampreys to bypass Niagara Falls, and the creatures spread from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie in 1919. The slippery invaders soon made their way to Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, and Lake Superior in the 1930s and 40s. Since then, sea lampreys have shared credit for decimating key predator species like the lake trout and salmon. In combination with unsustainable fishing practices in the Lakes, the jawless fish have helped derail entire ecosystems and harm species of commercial value.
Scientists, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada have battled these nasty critters for years. But now they may have a new combative technique in the arsenal: the reek of death. Sea lampreys, it seems, are repelled by the smell of other decaying sea lampreys. Lacing the water with whiffs of deceased sea lampreys could therefore allow scientists to divert still-living lampreys away from areas of high conservation concern, or even steer them into traps.
Lampreys’ strong reactions to death odors were previously dismissed as a fluke, but research published (subscription required) in the Journal of Canadian Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences now confirms the behavioral trend. Scientists placed wild-caught sea lampreys in a tank, then pumped the water full of the smell of the lamprey’s decaying comrades. “When they’re suddenly exposed to a good shot of this odor, we see a classic fright response,” says Michael Wagner, the lead author of the paper and an assistant professor at Michigan State University’s Fisheries and Wildlife Department. “They try to get away as fast as they can,” he says.
Wagner plans to use only a very small concentration of the death smell to divert sea lampreys on their search for mating grounds. “Essentially, we’re trying to give them an easy choice,” he says. To put the smell dosage into perspective, he says, we can think in human terms. For example, if a patron enters a restaurant and is suddenly engulfed in copious amounts of smoke, he’d probably panic and run out of the building, reacting much as the lampreys did to the experiment’s strong death smell signal. But if the same patron notices a smoker is at a nearby table, the much lighter smell of cigarette smoke with simply act as a deterrent for choosing to sit in that area of the restaurant. Wagner hopes to create a similar effect, encouraging the lampreys simply to select one stream instead of another.
This technique, Wagner thinks, will prevent the lampreys from habituating to the smell of death, while still allowing the researchers to manipulate them. “If you go into a wastewater treatment plant, it’s the worst thing you’ve ever smelled for about 15 minutes,” he says, “but eventually you don’t even notice it anymore.” The same thing could happen to lampreys if scientists try to overdose the Lakes with death smells. “Pretty soon they’d just start to ignore it because their reproductive imperative is so strong,” Wagner predicts.
Pumping the smell of corpses into water? Just another day for SCIENCE.
James Forbes, Hobo Expert, Proposes Also the Equipment of Every Village Police Department and Railroad Station with a Mendicant “Rogues’ Gallery” to Help Stamp Out the Nuisance
Sunday Magazine posted this article from the August 13, 1911, edition of The New York Times's Sunday Magazine. It is horrifyingly offensive.
Mr. Forbes declares that there are certainly 250,000 tramps and professional beggars in this country, if not many more; that the number is growing every year in spite of the heavy killing and maiming of vagrants every year by the railroads. The jails and penitentiaries are being filled with them, he says, as they move on down grade from begging and petty thievery to the crimes of arson, safe-breaking, and murder. Mr. Forbes declares that the army of trampdom is recruited by thousand every year from the homes of respectable and often well-to-do parents in small towns. Boys respond to the call of the road, the call of the world and of adventure, and soon they are the slaves of “kid-snaring” professional tramps, made to beg, and beaten until their spirit is gone.
In the end, it fell short of the outcome protesters who had marched in Wisconsin’s state capital for weeks and weeks had hoped for: Democrats managed to seize two Republican State Senate seats in recall elections on Tuesday, but fell short of the three (or more) they needed to take control of that legislative chamber.
By Wednesday, everyone was declaring victory. Democrats and labor leaders said their two recall victories were remarkable if not optimal; only two incumbent Wisconsin lawmakers had ever been thrown out before in such elections since the state began allowing them more than 80 years ago. And Republicans noted that their incumbent senators had on Tuesday won four other recall elections, meaning that Wisconsin voters had allowed them to go on controlling the State Senate, the State Assembly and the governor’s office, just as they had before the state blew up into a battleground over cuts to collective-bargaining rights earlier this year.
On Tuesday, two Republicans — Senators Dan Kapanke of La Crosse and Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac — were removed by Democratic challengers. Until Tuesday, Republicans had dominated the Senate with a larger 19-to-14 majority, but with six recall elections in a single day, the damage for Republicans could have been far worse.
Four Republicans who held onto their jobs included Senators Robert Cowles of Green Bay, Luther Olsen of Ripon, and Sheila Harsdorf of River Falls. Vote counting dragged into the wee hours of Wednesday in a fourth race near Milwaukee, and Senator Alberta Darling, a Republican, ultimately held onto her seat.
The results of yesterday’s recall elections in Wisconsin are generally being reported narratively as a loss for the Democrats, even though they gained two seats. The truth is that Wisconsin is ideologically a mixed state, and both sides can claim both victory and defeat. Democrats gained ground in a really unprecedented recall effort, but the Republicans still hold the fort. The incessant needs to frame things in terms of winners and losers and reduce complex events to one-sentence stories are two of many silly things about politics.
[Jean-Louis Hecht] from northeast France has rolled out a 24-hour automated baguette dispenser, promising warm bread for hungry night owls, shift workers or anyone else who didn’t have time to pick one up during their bakery’s opening hours.
He’s only operating two machines— one in Paris, another in the town of Hombourg-Haut in northeastern France — each next to his own bake shops. The vending machines take partially precooked loaves, bake them up and deliver them steaming within seconds to customers, all for €1 ($1.42).
The photo accompanying the article is something else.
In a great piece for Adweek which draws parallels between News Corp. and the Mob, Michael Wolff reports that the idea of prosecuting News Corp. with the RICO Act is being taken at least somewhat seriously at the FBI:
Well-sourced information coming out of the Department of Justice and the FBI suggests a debate is going on that could result in the recently launched investigations of News Corp. falling under the RICO statutes.
RICO, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, establishes a way to prosecute the leaders of organizations—and strike at the organizations themselves—for crimes company leaders may not have directly committed, but which were otherwise countenanced by the organization. Any two of a series of crimes that can be proven to have occurred within a 10-year period by members of the organization can establish a pattern of racketeering and result in draconian remedies. In 1990, following the indictment of Michael Milken for insider trading, Drexel Burnham Lambert, the firm that employed him, collapsed in the face of a RICO investigation.
How would they do that, you ask? Wolff again:
Here is where the RICO logic comes in. The usual path of a criminal investigation follows the crimes back to the source—that’s what happened to News Corp. in the U.K. when the royal family discovered that its voice mail messages were appearing in the press. But in a RICO investigation, you are really following the ethos and methods of operation of a group or organization to the crime. In other words, criminal activity is not seen as an isolated or particular event—as News Corp. has desperately and unsuccessfully tried to portray the crimes that occurred in the U.K.—but as an established pattern of conduct.
Corrections officials at Nevada State Prison have pulled the plug on a pilot program allowing inmates to use PlayStations at Nevada State Prison after inmates were caught using them to watch pornographic movies.
Prison spokesman Steve Suwe said inmates were allowed to buy the PlayStation II units along with games rated “E” for everybody. No violent games or those with sexual situations and nothing above PG-13 were permitted.
“The problem is the PlayStation II can play DVDs,” Suwe said.
I don’t think anyone could have possibly predicted this outcome.
Colin: So uh
Colin: The PS2 has parental controls.
Colin: Are they not aware of that?
So far, 18 inmates have sued in Carson City’s small-claims court, demanded to be reimbursed for their costs.
They accuse the prison, Warden Greg Smith and Cox of “wrongful confiscation of authorized, approved personal property.”
“I want full reimbursement for what I paid through the canteen, a total of $601.16,” wrote inmate Albert Dawson in his claim petition.
A big song and dance was made of Rebekah Brooks’s belated decision to resign as the chief executive of News International as the phone-hacking scandal engulfed Rupert Murdoch’s empire, but it has not had any great effect upon her standard of living. I am reliably informed that she remains on the company payroll.
“My understanding is that Rupert has told her to travel the world on him for a year and then he will find a job for her when the scandal has died down,” whispers my informant.