Thursday, February 28, 2013

28 Days of Tweets

 It's a short month, but there was a lot to say.

The amazing thing about books? No passwords. Magazines? No address to remember--they remember yours.
By Chris Steller

When people text me "plz" because it's shorter than "please," I text back "no" because it's shorter than "yes."
By Irene Adler

Saying we'll meet future food demand by boosting yields alone, not cutting food waste, like saying "Drill, Baby, Drill" is an energy policy.
By Jonathan Foley

The best graffiti I've seen in a while:
Jimi Hendrix painting on a wall, where the wall ends at top a tree continues his afro
By Simon Ricketts

I wish life could be more like vacuuming. That instant gratification and satisfaction of progress and accomplishment.
By Kate Borman

This is your weekly reminder that it's possible to care about multiple things simultaneously.
By Alyssa Rosenberg

I'm not procrastinating. I'm renegotiating my deadlines.
By Ryan Dow

A modern school is one that allows children to have full reign of their learning, where teachers are mentors and facilitators.
By Nikhil Goyal

There are centuries of wonderful things to read. Decades of brilliant things to watch. Newness is a flimsy trick.
By Erin Kissane

I humbly submit the NYTimes replace David Brooks' and Thomas Friedman's column space with letters from unemployed Americans.
By allisonkilkenny

Strangely the idea of "pathological racism" is still with us. Much easier to confront than actual racism with particular political aims.
By Ta-Nehisi Coates

Democrats: 1+1= 2 Republicans: 1+1= 3 Media: 1+1= 2.5
By National Park Guy

ICYMI ... you missed it.
By Chris Steller

Short answer to "Is DC really like that" for House of Cards fans: No. Not remotely.
By Julian Sanchez

This should be Vermont's new tourism slogan.

Bill O'Reilly frame grab with text
By Tim Carvell

At a conference today? Why not tweet loads of quotes that don't make sense out of context? Your friends will really appreciate it.
By L Johnston

One day our cat had finally touched everything in the house with his anus, so he packed his tiny suitcase, put on his hat, and left forever.
By Scott Simpson

OK autocorrect, you win. They're not robocalls, they're robot alms.
By Chris Steller

I am not fully in a city not my own until I use its mass transportation system.
By Robert O. Simonson

Prezi: because motion sickness is what bad PowerPoint presentations are really missing.
By Bob O'Shaughnessy

The world is much more interesting than any one discipline. Also disciplines tend to become about themselves, not their substantive content.
By Edward Tufte

To look bad ass, ate fortune cookie whole, fortune and all, but nobody notice and now feel sick worried wondering what fortune say.
By Bigfoot TheBigfoot

When we justify a casino, a prison, a pipeline based only on job creation irrespective of the harm that is done, we have truly lost our way.
By Ken Greenberg

As a Brit, right up until now, I thought American satirists invented Grover Norquist as a shorthand for "ludicrous republican".
By Willard Foxton

Why use intrusive, unconstitutional cameras for red light runners when we could post volunteer snipers at each intersection?
By Charlie Quimby

Why is good reporting always dubbed "old-fashioned reporting?" Wasn't any old-fashioned reporting bad?By Mark Leibovich

While we're on the subject, why do we say "meteoric rise?"
By Dave Gilson

Between the Poop Cruise and the Russian Meteor, it's a feeding frenzy for media reporting "Scary Sh*t That Will Never Happen to You!"
By Jonathan Foley

It's amazing how much widespread support there is for the Earned Income Tax Credit every time we talk about raising the minimum wage.
By Dean Baker

"We just want to make sure this kind of thing never happens again" means "We're suing his ass for everything he's got."
By Charlie Quimby

The filibuster on Hagel is entirely Harry Reid’s fault. He had the chance to reform the filibuster. He opted to trust Turtle McTortoisface.
By Damien Sorresso

More power for women is a life-or-death issue for survival of our species.
By Free Public Transit

Knight Foundation regrets Jonah Lehrer's $20,000 speaking fee, decides to instead pay him with 20,000 photocopies of $1 bills.
By Tim Carvell

We'll know that reforms are working when kids are as excited to come to school as to when they leave.
By Nikhil Goyal

Everyone's butts on display in leggings make me long for the days when mini skirts were risqué.
By Kristen Schaal

I'm confused by GOP argument that we should burn coal cuz god put it here. Didn't god also put the sun there? Can't we harness that instead?
By Stop Glenn Beck

Imagine if a rapper had 1. Threatened the President 2. Brandished assault rifles 3. Got invited to the State of the Union 4. Showed up in jeans.
By Anil Dash

Imagine what else Obama could be doing now if he didn't inherent a recession, a screwed up budget, and two wars?
By Jonathan Foley

It is not only wrong that a person who works full-time lives in poverty, it is immoral. It is irresponsible, reprehensible and disgusting.
By Jodi Jacobson

If we ban large magazines, what will happen to Brides Monthly?
By Chris Steller

I like this: @ZacFox: I'm giving up the letter 'N' for let
By Tim Minchin

It makes me chuckle to think that 50-100 years from now, some poor sociology graduate student will be writing a thesis analyzing Tweets.
By Jonathan Foley

Puppy, taking a nap mid-meal:

Puppy sleeping beside food bowl with ears flopped up
By Emergency Cute Stuff

Creepy tree, abandoned car, field of long dead grass. All my favorite spot overrun by shitty rock bands taking promo photos.
By Bigfoot TheBigfoot

When I heard that the Pope resigned my first thought was, "Great. Another tenured position that could be converted to four adjunct lines."
By Siva Vaidhyanathan

Instead of assuming that people are dumb, ignorant, and making mistakes, assume they are smart, doing their best, and that you lack context.
By Nicholas C. Zakas

Over 17 meters of snowfall in Hokkaido, Japan:

Coach bus driving in snow-packed road between flat-sided snow walls two stories high
By Earthpics

"I'm going to get a tattoo that says 'Helvetica' written in Arial. When a woman corrects me on it, I will marry her."
By Shelby White

Eleanor of Aspartame
By Chris Steller 

Does the GOP realize if they drive the USPS out of business, they'll have nothing left to name when pretending to work?
By Joshua Lyman

What is life really but a series opportunities to make faces at things?
By Bigfoot TheBigfoot

If I'm building a team, I'll take generalists who are addicted to learning over specialists who are addicted to thinking they already know.
By Kyle Wild

I love the mentality of America's new oligarchs. Not only do they want to freely pillage, but they actually want us to be grateful.
By Stop Glenn Beck

How about doing news stories about schools where there AREN'T mass shootings?
By Chris Steller

Fracking one single well requires 7 million gallons of water, plus additional 400,000 gallons of chemical additives.
By OMB Watch

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Death and Hockey

For some reason, I always read the short bursts of text at the bottom of the Star Tribune's front page. Usually, it's something interesting, even if you don't read the story it refers to inside the issue.

Last Sunday's had two sharing the same space, and I wonder if I'm being too sensitive, but they seemed like a misbegotten combination.

Also inside box from Star Tribune, reading She left home to go to the store. Next: And never returned. Body found in trunk at impound lot is 18-year-old woman. Second headline: Whew! Six overtimes at the X. Girls hockey game goes to wee hours
"She left home to go to the store" seemed pretty general at first, possibly even a headline for a light-hearted story. But the next sentence fragment made it clear that it was about as far from light-hearted as you can get. It's written like a "true crime" headline from a 1950s pulp magazine.

Followed by the most trivial thing of all -- Whew! A really long hockey game! Plus "at the X" and "wee hours" are both informal, conversational phrases that seem completely inappropriate when juxtaposed with the report of a teenager's death.

The way the two headlines are set in the same weight and size can't help but suggest that they're of equal importance, and in this case, that's both misinforming and hurtful.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Best Joke I Ever Experienced

David Bowie, c. 1984 on the Serious Moonlight tour
When I was a young adult living in Washington, D.C., some friends and I borrowed a car and drove to see David Bowie's Serious Moonlight tour at the Capital Center, which is located, incidentally, in Bowie, Maryland.

We got lost and were late to the concert.

As we finally arrived, one of my friends said, "It's a good thing we weren't going to see John Denver."

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Gun Is in the Hand of the Beholder

Since Minnesota passed its concealed carry law in 2003, there have been eight instances of justifiable firearm use by a permit holder, the Star Tribune reported today -- five reported to the statewide Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and three in Minneapolis. In the same period, permit-holders were convicted 124 times for using a firearm unlawfully. Let's see, that's a 15.5 : 1 ratio of crimes to justifiable uses. And that doesn't count suicides.

The Strib article goes on to break down some of the cases of the 124 crimes committed by permit-holders: 19 assaults, six drug-related, 10 for carrying while drunk, and one homicide.

Gun rights defenders, though, discount the 15.5 : 1 ratio. As the owner of a gun shop put it, "That doesn't show when a firearm deters an actual crime from taking place. Visibility or knowledge of a firearm is a deterrent, but those don't get reported."

When I hear that kind of argument, I, like most people, envision a situation where a permit-holder with a gun brandishes the weapon and a burglar or attacker runs away. But that's not the kind of scenario presented by a fire-arms instructor in the story:

Wilson Combat .45 pistol
...Mike Briggs, a firearms instructor and permit holder who lives in Ramsey ... said he was pumping gas in February 2012 about 4 a.m. in north Minneapolis when he saw four people drive up in a car with the headlights off. Briggs said he made eye contact with the driver and that the two stared at each other for three minutes until the group slowly drove away. Briggs said he never pulled out his Wilson Combat .45 pistol.

“I think they were going to carjack me,” he said. Briggs said his gun gave him confidence to confront the group if need be. “My self-confidence, my eye contact, my body language. I was ready. And I think they figured that.”
This is what passes for a case of defending yourself with a gun? I'd say it's just as easily described as a situation where a person carrying a gun assumes everyone else is armed or out to get him. Let's guess what color those four people in that car in North Minneapolis were. Hmmm. Not white, I'll bet. They drove away rather than come near the crazy white guy glaring at them from the pumps. They're lucky Briggs didn't shoot at them, as in the case of Jordan Davis, shot to death because his friends were playing loud music in their car.

Gun rights advocates also tried to claim the decline in violent crime of the past 10 years has happened because there are so many more armed civilians on the street. But both law enforcement officials and criminologists say that is "highly unlikely." It was a trend already underway before the law passed, it has happened nationwide, and it may be because of environmental causes.

One good bit of news in the story: You know how the number of permit applications spiked everywhere after Newtown? The Dakota County sheriff was quoted as saying the renewal rate for permits has been dropping steadily since 2009, and now is about 40 percent. So even if the number of new permits goes up, the renewal rate is pretty low, at least in Dakota County.

Although I'm not sure if that means the permit-holders got rid of (or never purchased) their guns, or if they're keeping them but letting the permit lapse.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Short Month, Many Tabs

I think I may have more tabs open right now than at any other time since the tab was invented. I have to clear them out or the Earth may suddenly switch poles. I confess haven't read all of these, but they look interesting enough to mention.

A bunch of education deform-related stories:

Finland's "culture of trust" and our culture of testing (Diane Ravitch).

Americans can afford to educate everyone, and three new papers show us how: Indications that the amount of money spent on financial aid, along with other state and federal spending, could cover the cost of public higher ed. I didn't dive into the numbers, but it looks promising.

Federal commission on equity dismisses Bush-Obama reforms. Have you heard about this from the mainstream news media? I haven't.

Sign the national resolution against high-stakes testing.

Climate change, environment, how we do business:

A comparison (from Forbes) of the environmental cost of natural gas fracking vs. coal.

Will graphene and supercapicitors be part of the solution in creating a new kind of battery that makes green energy usable at a large scale?

The case for natural capital accounting

Compost nation: Can we compost our way out of landfills?

Two possibly antithetical posts: Scientists urge the rich world to halve its meat consumption and Plant-Based Diets' Environmental Impact Examined In French Study

Algae lamps absorb as much CO2 in a year as a tree does in its lifetime.

China is going to start taxing carbon. I wonder if they can shame us into it.

Five reasons why the Keystone XL pipeline is bad for the economy. (That's economy — not environment.)

How Obama might find a way to limit carbon emissions in his second term. By Ron Brownstein of the National Journal.

Miscellaneous goodness:

A Twitter-generated map of happiness in the United States. Hawaii is number one, followed by Maine... most unhappy: Louisiana, preceded by Mississippi. Although Portland, Oregon, looks like a very unhappy city. Must be a result of too much irony.

Mitochondrial Eve: From the BioLogos Forum.

New inequality study proves what Democrats have been saying for years. (Which is that tax policy has a lot to do with it.)

Can the Republicans be saved from obsolescence? A New York Times magazine article that includes an devastating description of a couple of focus groups' attitudes toward Republicans. These were Ohioans who had voted for Obama, but weren't committed Democrats. They were thought to be voters who were "within reach" of the Republicans. But the researcher found out otherwise with details that I found startling (and heartening, given my worldview).

NRA padding membership claims while hiding losses

Doctors identify more than 130 tests and treatments they do too often. Also written up by MinnPost's Susan Perry.

New study: religion helps criminals justify their crimes

ICE (the immigration police) have been detaining large numbers of U.S. citizens... which is illegal, by the way.

Listen to Adam Smith: The inheritance tax is good. From the Guardian.

Calorie counts: fatally flawed, or our best defense against pudge? From NPR

Montana Valley Book Store (which I wrote about back in September) is giving away thousands of books to make room for more.

A study on stemming gun violence among young men in Chicago. And if you didn't hear This American Life's two-part series on one Chicago high school's reality, it's definitely worth listening to. Heart-breaking and angrifying. (Part one | Part two)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

How to Kill a Perfectly Good Joke

Okay, here's the joke:

Q: How do you keep from starving if you're stranded in a desert?

A: You eat all the sand which is there.
I hate to admit it, but my first reaction was "Not whichit should be that."

I apologize.

Friday, February 22, 2013

How to Win an Election

If you don't use Twitter, you may not realize how hard it is to use a repeating pattern as the background of your profile page.

Some users are more conscious of this problem than others.

Twitter home page for candidate named Jason Rapert, with his name cut off many times so it looks like it says Rape
In case you were wondering, the Mr. Rapert is a Republican.

Twitter user Kate Sheppard via Stellar

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Do Drivers Hate Bicyclists?

MinnPost's Susan Perry writes great stories, generally on health research, but her posts get very few comments compared to many others on the site. I'm not sure why.

Well, her recent article about why motorists dislike bicyclists seems to have broken the comment record at MinnPost; it's up to 62 and counting.

The story is a summary of an article by British evolutionary psychologist Tom Stafford, who hypothesizes that drivers see cyclists as (literal) free riders who offend the moral order. He's not saying the drivers are right, mind you, just trying to understand the odd behaviors that happen.

I've known dozens of bicyclists who say that, while just riding along, obeying the law, they were run off the road by cars, or had drivers curse them out just for being there. Drivers yell at them to ride on the sidewalk, which is illegal. It makes no sense, so I find Stafford's explanation intriguing.

The comments are worth reading as well. One choice quote:

Chuck Holtman: On the road or on the internet, I've never noted that motorist anger is directed in a differentiated way toward specific bicyclists that are flouting the rules of the road. I've heard vast numbers of stories of road rage directed toward bicyclists doing nothing but riding along the shoulder.
Many people carry a lot of anger and resentment inside them. It's an inherent part of the existential condition. The healthy manage it, but our present economic & political society does a very good job of cultivating and desublimating it. The car has proven to be a nice, protected place to give vent to one's anger and resentment. A bicyclist is vulnerable and unlikely to be armed, and also simplistically fits the appropriate political/lifestyle stereotype toward which folks are told to direct their anger and resentment. Voila.
One of the key things raised by drivers is the fact that cyclists frequently go through stop signs after slowing down, rather than stopping, and go through red lights after stopping once traffic has cleared. I agree that this is a reasonable thing for cyclists to do, but one cyclist-commenter synthesized my reasoning for it in a really great way:
Chris Farmer-Lies: Cyclists break the law in the same way that everyone else does: at the intersection of convenience, payoff, low probability of harm to oneself or others, and minimal risk of being caught. Running a stop sign on a bike maximizes the first two and minimizes the latter.
I was also struck by how many car-driving commenters used the word "dart" to describe the behavior of bicyclists. I don't know what to do with that observation, but I think it indicates something.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Thoughts on "Permissive Twit"

Who else remembers Gilbert O'Sullivan? His song "Alone Again (Naturally)" hit number one in 1972.

Being 13 at the time, I became obsessed with him, and later owned not just his first hit album, Back to Front, but also an earlier one, (Gilbert O'Sullivan) Himself.

This was a guy who wasn't ready for the big time. The albums, especially the older one, are great examples of scraping the bottom of the barrel to have enough material. Despite a few good songs, and even a second marginal hit ("Clair"), there's a lot more wrong than right there.

The worst example is called "Permissive Twit," which appears to be about his pregnant sister. I don't want to fall into the fallacy of thinking every song is based on the writer's personal experience or represents his literal point of view -- he may be making fun of the beliefs that the song presents as plain reality.

But if so, it's so ham-handed, it comes off as reinforcing the belief system that places all blame for pregnancy on women, assuming it's okay for men to have sex without consequences, joking about her having an abortion (or not) as if it's the family's decision and not hers, and generally only being concerned about the pregnancy because it has made the family the subject of gossip.

And that's not even mentioning the use of the word "twit."

Oh heaven help our Linda
She's really done it now.
What's more it's all so obvious.
I mean her stomach's sticking out.

If father tells me mother,
She's bound to have a fit,
Followed by a neat convulsion
Thanks to our permissive twit.

She thinks his name was Ronald,
Or was it Sid or Len?
The only thing that's certain
Is that it wasn't Bill or Ben.

Our parish priest, God bless him,
The very reverend Father Pitt,
Will no doubt be preaching sermons
To our dear Permissive Twit

By now the word
Will no doubt have been heard
By almost every bleeding nosy
parker in our alley

All except, that is,
Our own great aunt Liz
Who I hear's been deaf since the day
Our Grace recorded Sally, Sally, Sally.

Unless we raise the money,
She'll have to let it out.
What I mean is she will have to
Have it the right way, wrong way, about.

In other words let nature
Take its course and do its bit
For the sake of those concerned with
Own dear permissive twit.
I guess I should think of it as anthropological evidence of attitudes and beliefs in 1970. But I keep feeling sorry for his sister, whether she existed or not.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Thought for the Day

I'm working on a crash-and-burn deadline, so here is my thought for today.

Quote: I am somehow less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.
Say what you want about Stephen Jay Gould, but he definitely had a way with words.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Megan Jaegerman

For today: Edward Tufte's favorite infographics, by Megan Jaegerman of the New York Times.

This was the one I liked best. The topics of most of the others weren't up my alley (too much of a focus on sports and pets), but I can see that Jaegerman is really good at breaking things down and visualizing them.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Real Threat

I don't understand people who decry the federal deficit as a future burden on our children but who show no interest in climate change. Which is worse for our children and grandchildren, an imaginary deficit (whether that's money owed to ourselves or the Chinese) or real changes to the climate?

As Chris Hayes said today,

While pundits, strategists, columnists, and politicians absolutely obsess over budget projections for the year 2040, those same strategists, columnists, and politicians seem remarkably sanguine about the fact that Arctic ice volume has shrunk by more than a third in the past decade. And more and more current data indicate that our previous climate models have underestimated the terrifying rate of change to our climate and overestimated just how much time we have left to get our collective asses in gear.

No one will care in 30 years -- I guarantee you -- what the deficit was in 2013.... What does matter are the molecules in the air, much much more than the numbers on a balance sheet.
On that note, here's a small glimpse of the problem. Yesterday I ate lunch at a semi-fast-food restaurant where you order at a counter, then sit down and wait five or so minutes for your food. When I arrived, the only spot handy was crowded by a very large black SUV that was over the dividing line, but I parked in it anyway.

Black SUV with FlexFuel logo, exhaust coming out of pipe, parked over the yellow line
As I got out of the car, I saw first that the SUV was running (the exhaust is somewhat visible in the photo), followed soon after by the realization that there was no one in it. And it had a FlexFuel logo near the right tail light.

When I got inside, there were two men in the process of ordering food. It's one of them, I thought, and he'll wait for his food and then leave. Not okay, in my opinion, but the time spent would be fairly short.

After each gave his order, I gave mine and sat by the window with a view of the SUV. In time, each man left with his food, but neither one went to the SUV. Other people left, and none of them went to the SUV.

At least 20 minutes after I had arrived, a group of four who had been eating their lunch inside the restaurant walked out the door and got in the SUV. They were already seated when I arrived, so I'd estimate they spent at least a half hour indoors while their gas hog sat outside idling.

It was about 15°F at the time, and I can only conclude that they left the vehicle running so it would still be nice and toasty for them when they returned. It was a sunny day, and the SUV is black. It wouldn't have gotten cold at all while sitting there, and in fact might have gotten very warm. Since the inside of a car is basically, you know, oh, what's the word... oh, right -- a greenhouse.

They only thing good I can think of to say about their behavior is that at least there were four of them sharing the gas-guzzling ride.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Vivian Maier Documentary Sneak Peek

Ooo, ooo, the first trailer from the documentary Finding Vivian Maier!

I'm particularly psyched about the inclusion of interviews with people who knew her, including kids she took care of as a nanny. I realize I'm falling into the I-feel-like-I-know-this-celebrity fallacy, but hey, I'm human.

Previous posts on Maier:

Vivian Maier Exhibit in Chicago

Finding Vivian Maier (my visit to the Chicago show)

Friday, February 15, 2013

House of Horror, Times Two

Around the age of 12, I became obsessed with books that showed residential floor plans. They also had pictures of the houses, and given the era, they were kind of Modernist. I remember lots of glass curtain walls, potted plants, and squarish leather sofas. I quickly worked my way through the public library's collection, and went on to draw my own on graph paper.

I never quite lost that interest, so I still check out the floor plans in the Homes section of the Sunday Star Tribune. The renderings that accompany the plans range from somewhat interesting to amazingly ugly, but this recent one took the prize for cluelessness:

Victorian, yeah, that's the word that comes to mind when I look at this house. And charm is a close second.

Although it isn't quite as revolting as this rendering from an ad in a recent Spaces magazine. Spaces is an advertising vehicle created by the Pioneer Press and sent for free to high-income zip codes.

It's like a hobbit house as conceived and built for an Ed Wood film. Every element of the Craftsman style and the Not So Big House approach has been drained of its integrity, enlarged, and stuck together with cedar shakes.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Three Maps

Here's the latest addition to my pile of U.S.-by-county maps. This one color codes each county to show the ancestry most reported by residents responding to the 2010 Census.

(Click the map to enlarge.)

The whole thing is interesting (who knew there were so many Germans?), but the main takeaway is that the counties where the most-mentioned ethnicity is simply "American" are almost all in the Southeast -- which is pretty evenly split between African-American and plain old unmarked American. I came across the link to this map while reading a Salon article called The White South's Last Defeat.

Unfortunately, I don't know exactly how the question was worded on the Census, or if the response was limited to a set number of choices. So it's hard to judge how odd it is that so many labeled their ancestry as simply "American." I am someone who has a hard time answering such a question, since mine is from quite a number of nations, but I don't think I would give that answer.

The next two maps were both created by Neil Freeman of Fake Is the New Real. He's been noodling around with canoodling on how the 50 states could be configured to more evenly represent our population. This is his latest effort:

If nothing else, the map is useful as a way of pointing out just how few people there are in most of the West.

Here's an earlier version he created:

There are many similarities between the two spatially, but a lot of differences in terms of the names he gives to the new states. The Minnesota/Wisconsin/Iowa area, for instance, went from being named St. Croix to being called Mesabi. He changed the boundaries in upstate New York quite a bit, breaking it up more north/south in the new version and dumping the name Erie in favor of Adirondack.

As Freeman says, it's an art project, not a serious proposal, so Texans should not send him angry emails. It would, however, put an end to "varying representation in the House. Currently, the population of House districts ranges from 528,000 to 924,000. After this reform, every House seat would represent districts of the same size." And the same would go for the Electoral College, of course.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Another Wonder from Tumblr

I love that there is a Tumblr blog called WTF, Evolution?

It features photos like this:

Orange sort of hairy-looking tropical bird with no beak but a big orange nose
With appropriate commentary, of course.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Down the Post-Vegan Rabbit Hole

I fell into one of those Internet rabbit holes today and ended up reading this article, The Vegans Have Landed. Its author, Rhys Southan, is a former vegan who now writes critical philosophical treatises on the underpinnings of the vegan worldview. I feel as though I would have to read a lot more, at least some Peter Singer, to make any claims on the value of Southan's arguments, but his writing is fun and challenging.

The article has what may be the best illustration I've seen in a while:

Salad by Till Nowak

Following a scenario from Jonathan Safran Foer's book Eating Animals, Southan describes the idea of a superior alien species invading Earth to turn humans into a food crop. Safran Foer's purpose in creating the scenario was to build empathy for animals, so that we might extend the Golden Rule to them.

But Southan points out that the aliens wouldn't have to eat us to harm us -- they could do it by habitat destruction.

Depending on how much land was required for the vegan alien cities to accommodate all their alien vegan restaurants, alien anarchist bookstores and alien warehouse lofts, the vegan aliens might or might not set aside some land for humans to live on. 
And there's more in the full essay, which appeared in a web-based magazine called Aeon.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Two Hundred Years in Motion

Hans Rosling is a Swedish data genius. He works with his son and daughter-in-law (who bring technical expertise) to create amazing interactive data visualizations. You can learn a lot from watching one of his talks, such as this one from the 2011 Momentum conference at the University of Minnesota.

He's funny, too!

The main point I got from this talk is that in the West in the 19th and early 20th centuries, wealth came first and then led to health and increased life expectancy, which then led to declining family sizes. For the rest of the world (the so-called developing world), health and life expectancy increases have come first, leading to declining family size and wealth in close order.

So if you care about limiting population worldwide, then you have to care about improving child health and food security everywhere because it's the only thing that brings down population over time.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Not Enough Words for Snow

We need more words for snow. Too many of our terms rely on adjectives preceding that one boring noun. I think particularly of packing snow—why isn't there a term for that? Other snow words, like powder, are borrowed and only clearly apply to snow when heard or read in context.

Thin coating of snow with an oak leaf shape printed into it
Now that's what I call packing snow, for lack of a better word.

My favorite English words for winter precipitation are sleet and slush. They are both perfect expressions of their meanings.

We need more of those.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

One Thought on an Assault Weapons Ban

Very few murders are committed with assault weapons, though the few that happen are attention-getters. But I think it's fair to say that banning them would have very little effect on the rate of gun deaths in our country.

So why do I find a ban appealing, if I believe I am committed to public policy based on logic and reality?

I think it's because I wish those guns didn't exist in the first place, or that there weren't people who enjoy shooting them and want to own them. I wish I were from a country that doesn't allow military-style weapons in private hands.

But that's not a reason to make policy: Decreasing deaths is a reason to make policy. So universal background checks and cracking down on straw purchases are the things to concentrate on.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Their Next Door Neighbor Must Be A - K

Seen on Rice Street at the very north end of Saint Paul:

Green block building with large sign that says L-Z
L-Z customizes trucks, as best I can figure from their website. And they put on plows.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

When Was a Guy Named Josh

You know how I love to keep articles in a file for my later amusement, but there's one that I didn't keep, though I wish I had. It was from Time magazine in 1995 or so, and it described the lack of interest in reserving web domain names at some major companies. I remember McDonald's was included.

Well, today an article from Wired magazine, 1994, surfaced on that exact topic. It's not the one I remember (I wasn't reading Wired then, though I did check it out soon after this). The writer, Josh Quittner, explored the lack of interest in domain names among Fortune 500 companies. He spent a bunch of time talking to someone in communications at McDonald's, but she never managed to purchase, so a few weeks later, he got it.

Other companies that hadn't nailed down their domains at the time he wrote:

  • Nabisco
  • Sara Lee
  • Anheuser-Busch
  • Kellogg
  • Coca-Cola (or even Coke)
This lack of foresight on the part of big corporate communications departments still amazes me. For smaller companies I can understand it since it can be hard to know which technology to take seriously, but these are huge departments and the task required cost next to nothing and took almost no time.

By not keeping up, it's likely they cost their companies money when they later had to pay off a domain squatter (or a legitimate company with the same name) to get their by-then prized

It was fun to read this flash of almost 20 years ago and remember just a bit what it was like back then.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Pioneer Press Needs Some New Cartoonists

A letter to the editor in Tuesday's Pioneer Press said something I've been thinking:

Political cartoonists

Down through the years, I have often found myself defending the Pioneer Press, not wanting it to be accused of being a partisan mouthpiece for any particular faction of our community. It hasn't always been easy, and I suppose that has to do with the particular editorial board that happens to be in charge. There will always be those voices that will cry "too liberal" or "too conservative," and at any given time in the newspaper's history they may be right. Now it is my turn to
be the critic.

Overall, I am in agreement with my friends who claim the editorial page leans to the right, and for the most part I can handle that. I appreciate hearing both sides of issues, as long as the writer maintains a reasonable and respectful viewpoint. You would expect that from professional pundits. There is no place or need for slanderous name calling or insulting characterizations, much less blatant lies. The moment a writer employs those tactics they lose all credibility.

My criticism at this time lies in the paper's choice of political cartoonists. In particular, I am thinking of Michael Ramirez and Lisa Benson, both of whom seem to be hell-bent on doing their best to insult and denigrate President Obama personally. Whatever their political concerns may be, their anti-Obama crusades overshadow their cause. I noticed this trend during the past presidential campaign. The Pioneer Press consistently enlisted Ramirez to slander and insult Obama, and not once do I remember a negative depiction of Romney. The trend continues today.

Surely there are cartoonists available with less prejudiced perspectives. It would be fun to turn to the editorial section and find an artist that everyone could understand and appreciate, even if they disagree. The Pioneer Press needs to broaden its political cartoon contributors if it expects to stay in touch with its loyal readers.

Jim M. McGowan, St. Paul
McGowan is right about the works of Ramirez and Benson. They have absolutely no nuance, and in combination with the PiPress's conservative editorials and almost completely lock-step right-wing op-ed selections, they make for a tedious page or two of the paper.

Here are a couple of samples of their work -- not necessarily ones that ran in the PiPress.

Benson presented the Republican party line on Acorn, back in 2008:

I don't remember her having any problems with the Republican voter suppression and election-rigging attempts of the past year, however.

Ramirez portrayed Obama as a gay prostitute in 2012:

Back when the Pioneer Press last employed its own political cartoonist, Kirk Anderson, things were quite different. I'm not sure how they came to hire Kirk, since the editorial page has always had a conservative slant, but perhaps it was a measure of their commitment back then to even-handedness.

Clearly, they no longer feel any need for such an old-fashioned idea.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Climate Change Stats and Links

I've been on a climate change jag for a while now. I think it's permanent, meaning lots of information is coming in and it's hard to process it. That's what this blog is for, though, right? A place to put things I don't want to lose but don't know where to file.

One of the key things I'm always trying to figure out is how much CO2 and other greenhouse gases comes from what activity. These two diagrams provide some of the clearest information on that question.

The first represents world output of GHGs in 2000 (click for a readable version):

The second shows U.S. output in 2003:

The only thing wrong with these beautiful charts is that the information is 10 or 12 years old.

Part of the upshot of the first chart was summarized by Jonathan Foley, head of the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment, like this on Twitter (@GlobalEcoGuy)

Half of all emissions = CO2 from energy use. Other half = CO2, CH4, N2O, black carbon, O3, etc., from agriculture, land, leaky gas, etc.

Agriculture and land use release more GHGs than any other human economic activity. >> transportation, electricity, industry, ...

Biggest sources: deforestation, methane from cattle and rice, nitrous oxide from overfertilized fields.
Other climate-related posts:
A recent Sunday Pioneer Press had a nice story on a local business installing a large solar array on its roof, and the systems needed to make that work with Xcel Energy's systems. This is the kind of detailed reporting we need if we're going to understand the complexities of system change, as illustrated in Maggie Koerth-Baker's book Before the Lights Go Out. Performance Office Papers, based in Lakeville, a southern suburb of Minneapolis, is a model for turning all of those big flat roofs we've got into something productive.
The [Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association] believes the potential for solar arrays just on public buildings like schools, city halls and public works garages is about 720 megawatts statewide, Lynn Hinkle, director of policy development at MnSEIA, said. That would be more than 55 times larger than the state's total current capacity of 13 megawatts.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado estimates that Minnesota has a maximum potential for about 6,548 megawatts of solar electricity from all of its commercial and industrial rooftops, or roughly half of the total potential solar for all of the state's rooftops. 
But get this on the relative scale of these solar installations compared to our state's coal consumption and the possibilities of wind:
Minnesota has a total solar capacity of a little more than 13 megawatts, an almost infinitesimally tiny fraction of a percent of the state's generating capacity.

Coal represented almost 2 million megawatts of generating capacity in 2010..., according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Picture it another way: Earlier this month, a 2,000-kilowatt solar energy array covering an area the size of two football fields went live in southwestern Minnesota near Slayton. The utility-scale project became the state's largest solar photovoltaic array, taking the crown away from Bloomington's Ikea store. [So more than one third of Minnesota's solar capacity is accounted for by just the Ikea and Slayton installations.]

Yet one state-of-the-art wind turbine rated at 2.5 megawatts -- or 2,500 kilowatts -- could immediately eclipse it.
But as Maggie says, the sun doesn't always shine, especially at night, and the wind doesn't always blow. That's where the batteries, distributed hydropower, and thorium reactors come in. But the coal, and as soon as possible the natural gas, has to go.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Star Tribune, Increasingly Desperate?

A couple of Sundays ago, I found this piece of paper stuffed in among my Star Tribune coupons and sale flyers:

Letter-size sheet of paper headlined Do you want to own your own business?
I thought at first it was some kind of "work from home, make a million dollars" scam, but then I saw the Star Tribune logo.

Here's some of the text in case you don't want to click to enlarge:

As an Independent Distribution Agent, you will:
  • Own your own business
  • See potential gross annual revenue of $500,000-$1.5 million under a delivery fee model
  • Focus on providing leadership and managing distribution of Star Tribune and other print products within a select geographic territory
  • Recruit and manage carriers who distribute the product
For a modest entry cost depending on size, you can step into a turnkey operation that gives you solid earning potential from day one!
Basically what this means is that instead of employing people directly, however part-time, the newspaper is going to outsource delivery through a piece-work system (a "delivery fee model"), so that the entrepreneurs who contract with them can squeeze the people they employ, and the newspaper will not be responsible.

Have I got that right?

That's bad enough, but the thing that is even more reprehensible is the way phrases like "$1MM+" and "$500,000-$1.5 million" are thrown around. Note that it says gross annual revenue -- that means the entrepreneur is paying all expenses out of that, from the "modest entry cost" to the payments to the carriers who will actually be doing the distribution work.

And did you notice the hedging language in there about how much money the suckers might earn? "Potential gross revenue" -- "solid earning potential from day one."

The amount of money netted by the entrepreneur depends on how much they can stiff the carriers out of their earnings. But is that clear in any way from this flyer? If you showed it to 10 people, how many of them would think it was an offer to make a million dollars a year?

Does a flyer like this actually recruit anyone with entrepreneurial drive and business smarts, or does it just attract people too gullible to know what it means?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Making a Sad Situation Worse

Jacob Beneke with one of his sculptures.
Jacob Beneke, a young father, graphic designer, and sculptor, was shot to death by a coworker in Minneapolis last fall. The coworker, Andrew Engeldinger, also killed the company owner, the manager, a UPS driver, and killed or wounded several others before shooting and killing himself.

Engeldinger's family has spoken about their attempts to get him to seek mental health services because they thought he was schizophrenic, but he was an adult and refused. He cut off contact with them, but managed to keep his job at Accent Signage Systems for 12 years. At the time of the shooting, the company manager had just told him that he was fired for perpetual lateness and other disruption problems.

It was announced on Friday that Beneke's family is suing not just Engeldinger's estate (if he has one), but also Accent Signage Systems. The suit charges that Accent was grossly negligent because it should have prevented the shooting, based on Engeldinger's "past incidents of employment misconduct and his known propensity for abuse and violence."

Even if the company's owner or manager had that knowledge, which remains to be proven, this suit seems so wrong to me. Both the owner and manager are dead. Beneke's family is suing the owner's survivors, his wife and son, who are trying to keep the company running despite their grief.

There are no court or employment records that show Engeldinger had a history of making threats or committing violence before the day of the shooting. According to the Star Tribune, there were only "repeated warnings for being late to work and being verbally abrasive with colleagues."

The Beneke family lawyer, Philip Villaume, says the family has reason to believe other employees had been threatened and that Beneke feared for his safety that day. But the lawyer admitted there was no evidence of direct threats or violence.

The suit asserts that Accent should have "provided adequte security" while firing Engeldinger. Lawyer Villaumee cited the practice of hiring security guards to escort a fired employee off the premises, but had to admit that he himself had fired an employee without any security. "I didn't feel I needed it," he said.

But Accent, Villaume said, knew Engeldinger had "mental illness problems" (though he has no evidence of this knowledge) and "should have known he owned several fire arms and routinely practiced at a firing range." I'm not sure why the company should have known that.

I got the feeling from reading the end of the Strib story that there's more to all this than is being said, but even so, what's the point of filing such a suit? As another personal injury lawyer, not involved in the case, opined to the Strib, it's hard to prove gross negligence against an employer -- that it requires almost an intentional act. Knowing a coworker has symptoms of a mental illness wouldn't make me hire a guard, since I know that the mentally ill are much more likely to be victims of violence than to commit violence against others.

I'm sure it was a hard for Beneke's widow and parents to decide to sue the company. They know, or think they know, more of the truth about what happened between Engeldinger and his coworkers and managers than I do. But even so, what good does it do to sue a company barely back on its feet? Will it make them feel better if they win, possibly driving the company out of business?

I don't know what it feels like to be in their position, but I find it hard to understand their decision. I hope this isn't a case of a lawyer exploiting a family's grief for his own possible gain, going after the company's assets because the person who is to blame had nothing of monetary value.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Discovering James P. Johnson

First there was the fact I never knew: the Charleston song, which everyone knows so well, was composed by a black man, James P. Johnson.

James P Johnson, smiling, playing the piano with other musicians in the background
But that was just the first of several mind-expanders on this morning's Weekend Edition interview with Marin Alsop, conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Johnson was the creator of the stride style of jazz piano. He (at the same time as George Gershwin) recorded piano rolls for player pianos; the rolls were later used by musicians like Duke Ellington to learn the style.

He also wrote orchestral music, which usually received a single performance, and then went into obscurity. The music was thought lost until Alsop began to search for it, and one day was allowed to look in the attic of one of Johnson's descendents.

I can only imagine the feeling she must have had when she opened the first box. Alsop and the BSO have been performing his pieces, and Alsop said that they are being played more widely now.

My ignorance of music knows few bounds, but this story makes me want to know more.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Tweets from Janus

January's tweets include remnants of the fiscal cliff, lots of gun stuff and climate change angst, plus some miscellaneous cuteness.

And even though I'M NOT LISTENING!, just a bit of Lance Armstrong and Vine crept in, too.

Fracking one single well requires 7 million gallons of water, plus an additional 400,000 gallons of chemical additives
By OMB Watch 

Inbox: "We’ve all heard of the Mommy Makeover..." Huh? (See also my war on "mommy" used by anyone unrelated to me).
By Monika Bauerlein 

If you can't beat the gun lobby w/ a Congresswoman who's been shot, an astronaut & a cop in a snappy uniform, it just can't be done.
By Mark Fiore 

all or nothing: if you cannot guarantee me a lifetime of BLISSFUL IMMORTALITY I do not want to try to address any problems at all ever.
By Tom Tomorrow [in response to the NRA's Wayne LaPierre testifying before Congress]

Trying to solve climate change with natural gas is like trying to lose weight by switching to low-fat Twinkies.
By Steve Davis 

Wow. @WTUTeacher: "People always say this generation is lost. This generation is not lost, this generation is neglected."
By Melinda D. Anderson 

You know what, I think it's time for more corgi butt.
By Emergency Cute Stuff 

For hecklers of Newtown victim's dad, owning a gun is more important than possessing even the most basic common decency.
By Frank Conniff 

Much like Thomas Friedman, David Brooks wants a third party which reflects his own "sensible" values. Maybe they can form a party of two.
By Tom Tomorrow 

I want to open an "Adult" bookstore with books on retirement, prostate health, etc. Then when porn fans walk in, I can be all incredulous.
By John Moe  

Republicans & Democrats converge on immigration compromise: Lots more low-wage non-voters! Couldn't do better if they were trying for oligarchy on purpose.
By davidfrum 

How you view the world is a reflection of your inner being. Thats why u can see impoverished kids in Africa smiling, rich kids in NY crying.
By Alex Banayan 

Who let George R. R. Martin take over the writing on Downton Abbey?
By Maggie Koerth-Baker  

RT ‏@ianbremmer US has 5.3x the arable land, 4.6x available water of China. Resource inequality more troublesome than income inequality.
By Richard Florida 

People who use Twitter to talk about actual vines are having a bad week.
By Chris Steller 

We should be debating WHICH infrastructure, not WHETHER infrastructure. Teaparty mission accomplished.
By Free Public Transit 

Did you know? Burning one gallon of gas releases 20 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere, where it will stay for 110 years, warming the planet.
By Jonathan Foley 

Just ate a burrito so big that I had to forget algebra to make room.
By Alison Agosti

Building stuff is fun. Period. Making something out of nothing is endlessly rewarding.
By Jason Fried 

The @rupertmurdoch Twitter feed is an immensely useful teaching tool about the (non)relationship between wealth & power and merit & expertise.
By Christopher Hayes  

We all have our vices when it comes to entertainment. It's not football that gets me. It's the denial about what football actually is.
By Ta-Nehisi Coates 

Why is Twitter wasting its resources on free apps like Vine when so many of us would pay for an app that blocks tweets from #Davos?
By jswatz  

Huh. Never heard Likud called the Liquid Party before.
By Chris Steller 

Just finished Christia Freeland's Plutocrats. Anyone else feel like we live in an extractive state instead of an inclusive one?
By Rob Jones 

Aliens might be surprised to learn that in a cosmos w/ limitless starlight, humans kill for energy sources buried in the sand
By Neil deGrasse Tyson

To repeat: "Best Business Climate" not the same as best economy, best quality of life or best place to raise a family.
By Charlie Quimby 

Corporations aggressively seek to maximize their own privacy, and to minimize the privacy of their customers.
By Edward Tufte 

Remember, folks: Obama has ALREADY done a lot on climate change, mostly quite effective, although not very visible. Hoping for much more.
By Jonathan Foley 

I'd like to see Paul Ryan and Lance Armstrong race for a distance measured in Subway footlongs in front of cheering women who don't exist.
By Chris Steller 

I keep thinking about the person who had to illustrate this.
By Cabel M. Sasser  

Mind-body issue: people are so proud to go to the gym; so ashamed to go to a therapist.
By Alain de Botton  

Let's start calling teachers "collaborators."
By Nikhil Goyal 

Right wing groups create threats of violence, then criticize the President for having protection against their threats of violence.
By Michael Moore 

RT = real talk, MT = Movable Type, DM = dog math, FF = "Freaky Friday", h/t = hip truck, TL = Tea Leoni, OH = Ohio. Now you know.
By Alex Pareene  

Now that women can serve in combat that leaves the only group that apparently can't serve in war is neo-cons.
By Pete Nicely 

There is nothing more egregious and dangerous in journalism than an editor/paper who thinks climate-change deniers should have a voice.
By Molly Priesmeyer 

Dear @davos participant: bemoaning the evils of inequality is fine, but no one is better placed than you to: Do. Something. About. It.
By Vincent Baby 

O.k., this peripheral vision illusion is pretty nuts:
By Nick O'Neill  

To the person who long ago invented the phrase "left to their own devices" ... How did you KNOW?
By Chris Steller 

The reason U.S. housing is expensive is that our cars must park for free. -- @DonaldShoup
By Design New Haven 

"This'll really put our town on the map!" -- guy who doesn't understand how cartography works
By Tim Carvell  

Our sad money culture: Writers, musicians & designers expected to work for free while investors shouldn't pay taxes on their earnings.
By Charlie Quimby 

The headlines are all Lance and Oprah. We are truly a moronic society.
By umair haque  

Everybody's favorite game: Which Browser Tab Is This Horrible Automatic Video Playing In?
By daveweigel  

Before a war, military science seems a real science, like astronomy; but after a war it seems more like astrology. -- Rebecca West
By Charlie Quimby 

We don't need climate reporters. We need for all reporters -- econ, political, foreign policy, etc. -- to be climate literate.
By David Roberts 

"If you think the economy is more important than the environment try holding your breath while you review the city budget."
By DentonOffFossilFuels 

Guys, know what you're getting into if someone offers you one. A chocolate lab is a dog, not an awesome room for your house.
By Tim Siedell

As a parent, I'm acutely aware of how much online debate resembles arguing with a technicality-obsessed nine-year-old.
By Tom Tomorrow 

Anne Coulter only says stupid shit to read the outrage later. Don't give her that! Just ignore her. Her shock game is old.
By Kristen Schaal

Kittens, in tea cups.
By Emergency Cute Stuff 

Sandy Hook trutherism does not inspire confidence in the image of the rational gun owner from whom society has nothing to fear.
By Tom Tomorrow

"Lance Armstrong" should be a new euphemism for America. Lies/immorality shielded by power, corruption, and PR management.
By Molly Priesmeyer 

Is there a Lower Midwest?
By Chris Steller 

You cannot get a technologically innovative place unless it's open to weirdeness, eccentricity & difference --Richard Florida
By Irina Delgado 

One New York Times reader says Teach for America should be renamed to "Teach for Your Resume."
By Nikhil Goyal 

DOJ goes after the likes of Aaron Swartz. Foreclosure fraudsters and mortgage-backed-securities scam artists sip cocktails in the shade. Fucking hell.
By Sam Knight 

There should be some word for the pleasure of recognizing a semi-famous actor in a police procedural show and knowing they're the killer.
By emilynussbaum

The internet forces you to design better assignments. If you can look up the answer, it's not cheating, it's just a bad assignment.
By Philipp Schmidt 

Obama gun speech quibble No. 1. The "if it helps even one person" rhetoric is illogical. I doubt we'd change laws just to help one person.
By Chris Steller 

Shale oil and tarsands need $90+ Brent price to survive. They would go out of business if 10 cities made their public transit free.
By Free Public Transit 

Troll (n.) 1. the less famous of two people in a Twitter argument.
By Jonathan Headington  

Software project 1) On time 2) On budget 3) With quality. You can not able pick any.
By DevOps Borat 

I am absolutely terrified of smart people who aren't depressed.
By Sarah Bee  

Our plan in 140 characters: Make cities attractive by eliminating cars. Give suburbs to organic farmers. Educate all children.
By Free Public Transit 

Nothing says "responsible gun owner" like the threat of civil war.
By Tom Tomorrow 
Calling us a banana republic is an insult to Central America. They were pillaged by fruit corps, not self-derped into penury.
By Ryan Cooper  

Congressmen spend 5 hrs a day begging for money. People run for this job? It's like campaigning to be a telemarketer
By Bill McKibben 

Cherry tomatoes will always have the last laugh.
By Kristen Schaal 
[I need to make a shirt that says the above.]
Maybe before I become a better person I need to help make a better world.
By Mike Monteiro 

I'm not sure how the NRA's plan of having a sane person with a gun near every insane person with a gun will be implemented.
By Andy Borowitz 

Airplanes have now banned tweezers. I think anyone who can hijack a plane with tweezers deserves the plane.
By Alan Garner 

Political system seems totally unprepared to deal with the routine of disaster that will characterize life under climate change.
By Christopher Hayes 

People who go on to be writers are those who can forgive themselves the horror of the first draft.
By Alain de Botton  

“The cooperative model is the model of the future, because it can reconcile the market economy with democracy." Jacques Attali
By Seward Co-op 

No wonder US baffles many foreigners. We squander trillions fighting questionable wars abroad but debate health care + disaster aid at home.
By Michael Kimmelman 

“Zipcar is thrilled to announce that we’ve been acquired by Avis.”
By Joel Ross Housman 

Translation: “The executives & investors who run Zipcar are thrilled to announce they just made a ton of money selling the company to Avis.”
By Joel Ross Housman 

Any climate solutions that do not end auto sprawl, leave the engine of demand intact which will consume all efficiencies.
By Free Public Transit 

Wishing I'd bought stock in "avert" when it was cheap.
By Chris Steller 

There are people in the House of Representatives I would not trust to work at Radio Shack.
By Andy Borowitz 

A marked shift in climate denialist rhetoric from "it's not getting warmer!" to "of *course* it's getting warmer, we don't know the cause."
By Christopher Hayes  

Next time Republicans want to pick the cabinet, they should win the election.
By Markos Moulitsas  

USA spent $1.4 trillion on the "war on terror." Nearly $500 million PER DEATH on 9/11. Peace could have been bought for much less.
By Joe public 

There were 3,520 parenting books published or distributed in the US in 2011, up 25% since 2007.
By Justin Wolfers 

Chuck Hagel voted against No Child Left Behind. I'm sold.
By Nikhil Goyal 
I love tuning into NPR news and just missing Frank DeFord.
By Chris Steller