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Assorted Links 11/12/09 Archives

Assorted Links 11/12/09

John Primer, Bluesman

John Primer, Bluesman

More On Vitamin D

  • After Fort Hood, another example of how ‘citizen journalists’ can’t handle the truth - "I’d probably feel slightly smug, if I didn’t feel so sick.

    Smug that after two weeks of me suggesting that social media might not be an unequivocally Good Thing in terms of privacy and human decency, the news has delivered the perfect example to support my view.

    Unfortunately it’s hard to feel smug -- hard to feel anything but sadness and nausea -- when thirteen innocent people are dead.

    I’m talking, of course, about Thursday’s Fort Hood shootings. Better informed and more sensitive commentators than I have written about the massacre itself and what it means for the US army, and in particular for the thousands of Muslim soldiers currently fighting -- and dying -- for this country. How do you even begin to process the idea of an American soldier shouting the takbir, before mowing down his comrades in arms? On American soil? At the home base of the Combat Warrior Stress Reset program? Yes, that’s definitely one for the experts to parse.

    And yet, the first news and analysis out of the base didn’t come from the experts. Nor did it come from the 24-hour news media, or even from dedicated military blogs -- but rather from the Twitter account of one Tearah Moore, a soldier from Linden, Michigan who is based at Fort Hood, having recently returned from Iraq.
    . . .
    Two weeks ago, I wrote here about how the ‘real time web’ is turning all of us into inhuman egotists. How we’re increasingly seeing people at the scene of major accidents grabbing their cellphones to capture the dramatic events and share them with their friends, rather than calling 911. Last week I went even further with my doom-mongering, suggesting that the trend of adding people’s homes to Foursquare without permission was indicative of a generation that prioritised their own fun over the privacy of their friends.

    In the actions of Tearah Moore at Fort Hood, we have the perfect example of both kinds of selfishness.

    There surely can’t be a human being left in the civilised world who doesn’t know that cellphones must be switched off in hospitals, and yet not only did Moore leave hers on but she actually used it to photograph patients, and broadcast the images to the world. Just think about that for a second. Rather than offering to help the wounded, or getting the hell out of the way of those trying to do their jobs, Moore actually pointed a cell-phone at a wounded soldier, uploaded it to twitpic and added a caption saying that the victim 'got shot in the balls'.

    Her behaviour had nothing to do with getting the word out; it wasn’t about preventing harm to others, but rather a simple case of -- as I said two weeks ago -- 'look at me looking at this.' (I don’t know about you, but if I spotted someone taking a picture of one of my friends or relatives in a hospital then they would probably need a hospital bed of their own. 'Tell me, Ms Moore, exactly how did the iPhone end up in your lower intestine?')"
  • “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism” - "ABC News reports that US Intelligence had been aware for months that Major Nidal Hasan was attempting to get in touch with al-Qaeda. It is not known what role the 'Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Great Falls, Virginia' played in subsequent events. But the circumstances are suggestive. According to the Christian Science Monitor, the mosque once had prayer leader Anwar al-Awlaki. Anwar al-Awlaki had been the spiritual adviser of two September 11 attackers. He is now in Yemen and is certainly pleased at Hasan’s actions:
    . . .
    Barry Rubin recently spoofed the 'jumping to conclusions' phrase by writing a satirical piece retelling historical incidents in modern politically correct style. Why he asked, should John Wilkes Booth have been suspected of Confederate sympathies simply because he expressed them? Was the fact that a bombing suspect had attended IRA meetings any reason to think that it might be a factor in attacks against the British? By emphasizing the ludicrousness of it, Rubin argued that the media was going out of its way to distort the facts and suppressing what ought to be natural avenues of public inquiry.

    The phrase 'dissent is the highest form of patriotism' can lead to sloppy thinking which incorrectly assumes that it is always best to give a man exhibiting dangerous tendencies the benefit of the doubt."
  • The Dead Zone: The Implicit Marginal Tax Rate - "To say that antipoverty programs in the United States are perverted may be an understatement. When you take into account the loss of means-tested benefits (e.g., cash assistance, food stamps, housing subsidies, and health insurance), and the taxes that people pay on earned income, the return to working is essentially zero for those in the lower two quintiles of the income distribution."
  • Life on Severance: Comfort, Then Crisis - "Mr. Joegriner is a member of what might be called the severance economy -- unemployed Americans who use severance pay and savings to maintain their lifestyles. Many lost their jobs in 2007 and 2008, and thought they'd soon find work. Now, they're getting desperate. Last week, lawmakers passed a bill extending unemployment benefits up to 20 weeks. Unemployment benefits, which typically last about 26 weeks, were expected to run out for 1.3 million people by the end of the year, according to the National Employment Law Project.
    . . .
    Those affected often have trouble accepting their diminished prospects. Hefty severance packages, while intended as a safety net, can lull the unemployed into a false sense of security. Some people continue spending as before."
  • The Empire’s last stand: Real interest rates - "I am still left with 4 reasons for dismissing the view that real interest rates provide a useful indicator of the stance of monetary policy. Furthermore, I think that any one of these four arguments would be sufficient to prove my point:"
  • Freedom to Confuse: Thanks to the abortion amendment, liberals suddenly care about "choice" in our health care system. - " If liberals are so disturbed by Congress' dictating whether abortion is a legitimate health care issue or not, it only makes sense that they should be equally troubled by government management of other health care decisions.

    Undoubtedly, this is zealously naive thinking on my part. Reaching such a conclusion demands a modicum of consistency. And as we've seen, health care 'reform' is an ideological crusade immune from logic.
    . . .
    Yet even though no one would be stripped of her right to have an abortion under this legislation, the vast majority of citizens would have to deal with a cluster of new mandates and more than 100 new government bureaucracies to enforce them.

    Citizens would be ordered to buy insurance or face jail time. Americans would answer to a 'commissioner of health choices' and pay extra taxes for having the gall to buy top-of-the-line insurance plans. They no longer would have the right to choose health savings accounts or high-deductible plans or, in most cases, flexible spending accounts.
    . . .
    So abortion not only is essential care but also was at 'the heart' of what the president had in mind for reform. (A courageous reporter might ask the president where he stands on reproductive care today. Is it essential? If not, why should federal funding be banned?)"

Group Think and "Journalism"

  • Does The White House Have Any Legal Right To Demand No Modifications To Its Photos? - "The problem is the White House has no right to say that you can't manipulate the photo, since the photo is public domain. It's really unfortunate that, once again, we're seeing how little people seem to understand (or value) the public domain."
  • The Big-Spending, High-Taxing, Lousy-Services Paradigm: California taxpayers don’t get much bang for their bucks. - "One out of every five Americans is either a Californian or a Texan. California became the nation’s most populous state in 1962; Texas climbed into second place in 1994. They are broadly similar: populous Sunbelt states with large metropolitan areas, diverse economies, and borders with Mexico producing comparable demographic mixes. Both are 'majority-minority' states, where non-Hispanic whites make up just under half of the population and Latinos just over a third.

    According to the most recent data available from the Census Bureau, for the fiscal year ending in 2006, Americans paid an average of $4,001 per person in state and local taxes. But Californians paid $4,517 per person, well above that national average, while Texans paid $3,235. It’s worth noting, by the way, that while state and local governments in both California and Texas get most of their revenue from taxes, the revenue is augmented by subsidies from the federal government and by fees charged for governmental services and facilities, such as trash collection, airports, public university tuition, and mass transit. California had total revenues of $11,160 per capita, more than every state but Alaska, Wyoming, and New York, while Texas placed a distant 44th on this scale, with revenues of all governmental entities totaling $7,558 per person.
    . . .
    The biggest contrast between the two states shows up in 'net internal migration,' the demographer’s term for the difference between the number of Americans who move into a state from another and the number who move out of it to another. Between April 1, 2000, and June 30, 2007, an average of 3,247 more Americans moved out of California than into it every week, according to the Census Bureau. Over the same period, Texas saw a net gain, in an average week, of 1,544 people. Aside from Louisiana and Mississippi, which lost population to other states because of Hurricane Katrina, California is the only Sunbelt state that had negative net internal migration after 2000. All the other states that lost population to internal migration were Rust Belt basket cases, including New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Michigan, and Ohio."
  • Unemployment, 2004 to Present -- The Country is Bleeding - "While the recession is 'over' the unemployment rate rose to 9.8% in September from 9.7% in August. That's 214,000 more people who are jobless in the United States. The last time unemployment was this high was back in June 1983 when it was 10.1%."
  • Electoral Politics in Colleges - "As I have said, students from the left should sue colleges for nonperformance on the contract."

WikiReader from Openmoko

  • Picture Show: Inside a Colombian Prison - "As the home of the infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar, the city of Medellín, Colombia, used to be one of the most violent places in the world. Today, the cells and grounds of its Bellavista prison are largely populated with people who grew up in and around the city. It’s an intimidating place, to say the least, yet as is evident in the images of Vance Jacobs’s photographic series 'Colombian Prison: A View from the Inside,' even within the confines of prison walls can the beauty of the human spirit be observed. On the invitation of the Centro Colombo Americano, an English language school for Colombians in Medellín, Jacobs ventured to the Bellavista prison with an inspired assignment: to teach documentary photography to eight inmates in one week." ht Marginal Revolution
  • Medal Of Honor, Medal Of Freedom - How Soon They Forget - "This is one for the 'Are you kidding me' file, and probably merits supplemental expletives - in the course of his utterly inappropriate 'shout-out' to Joe Medicine Crow prior to addressing the nation about the Fort Hood shootings, Obama flubbed the medal won by Dr. Medicine Crow."
  • Bush transparency requirements lead to union revolt - "The Denver United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 union voted out its longstanding president, Ernie Duran. The election that led to Duran's ouster was largely about accusations of corruption:"
  • How to avoid an untimely death - "Number one on the list is 'drive the biggest vehicle you can afford to drive'."
  • Will Amazon’s Kindle Software Kill the Kindle Hardware? - "Yesterday, I took a look at Amazon’s Kindle for PC software on my netbook. The beta software is missing a few features just yet -- search, note-taking and highlighting passages -- but for reading Kindle content, it’s quite good. You gain the benefit of a color screen and the ability to tweak fonts and line spacing to a greater degree. All in all, the experience is enjoyable. But will it be so good that it actually kills off Amazon’s Kindle hardware products? I don’t think so."

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November 12, 2009 10:17 AM    Caught Our Eye

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