Another Hiatus

I can't feed the beast with so much else to do for Winter Study - I'll be back, blog!

Thursday's Daily Show

Watch the first and second segments - they are excellent.

Password Protection

From the New York Times:
According to a new analysis, one out of five Web users still decides to leave the digital equivalent of a key under the doormat: they choose a simple, easily guessed password like “abc123,” “iloveyou” or even “password” to protect their data. [...]

Why do so many people continue to choose easy-to-guess passwords, despite so many warnings about the risks?

Security experts suggest that we are simply overwhelmed by the sheer number of things we have to remember in this digital age. [...]

But bowing to the reality of our overcrowded brains, the experts suggest that everyone choose at least two different passwords — a complex one for Web sites were security is vital, such as banks and e-mail, and a simpler one for places where the stakes are lower, such as social networking and entertainment sites.

Glad none of mine are on this list.

TSA Fail

A TSA worker was staring at her. He motioned her toward him.

Then he pulled a small, clear plastic bag from her carry-on - the sort of baggie that a pair of earrings might come in. Inside the bag was fine, white powder.

She remembers his words: "Where did you get it?"
The aftermath will shock you.

Activist Court?

NBC News and news services
updated 1:43 p.m. ET, Thurs., Jan. 21, 2010

WASHINGTON - In a landmark ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday struck down laws that banned corporations from using their own money to support or oppose candidates for public office.

By 5-4 vote, the court overturned federal laws, in effect for decades, that prevented corporations from using their profits to buy political campaign ads. The decision, which almost certainly will also allow labor unions to participate more freely in campaigns, threatens similar limits imposed by 24 states.

Actually, I think the ruling makes sense, looking at the constitution, but it sure seems like stupid policy. Pity our system's so broke we can't amend the document. I should read more about corporate personhood.

One other interesting comment: it used to be that large corporations could easily fund such stuff through 527's, which were legally complex but possible. Now, large AND SMALL corporations can intervene without having to jump through the legal hoops. Unless I'm missing something.

In other media:

From Mmegi Online:
A young Motswana Hollywood star, Donald Molosi, says he is currently seeking permission from the Khama family to formally launch his solo play titled Blue, Black and White.

Molosi said the play on Khama was inspired by books that he had read whilst studying Political Economy and Theatre at Williams College in Massachusetts in the United States of America (US). He said he tried looking around to find if there had been anything visual that had been done on Khama but realised there was none, which is why he made it a duty to produce one himself.

Info on College Finances

The Provost's Page is here, with lots of neat facts and figures.

Here's an example chart of data (total budget represented : $205 million)


I can't leave without giving you something funny:

Sometimes, you just need to recognize when it's time to drop back 10 and punt.

Back in Vermont

I'll miss all of the Coakley action. See you in three or four days.

(for anyone curious - I'll be living in the backcountry, snowshoeing around and living without running water/power.)

Best new epic image

Straight up fantastic. Image by Mike Mitchell. Hopefully, by the time this is posted, there will be some sort of resolution, though I'd frankly be happier if everyone just gave money to Haiti and put off the fight.

Is this sort of Palin fear legitimate?

I know it's valid, but should I really take this seriously?
It is only sensible to be concerned about--yes, even to fear--what may come of the alliance between this shrewd, driven, narcissistic woman and the massive propaganda apparatus that has embraced her. We have an obligation to remember what can happen when charismatic leaders seize the imaginations of frightened people and feed them a steady diet of rage and self-pity, embellished by creepy visions of the divine and of national destiny. Here where I live, in rural Ohio, you can feel the impact of Palinism, now so scarily amplified by Fox.

The combination of white racial resentment, high unemployment, and the transformation of the culture, plus simple, grinding fear (of the Other; of the unknown; of blacks and Jews and gays and migrant workers; of anything you care to name) has coalesced into something potentially quite dangerous. Ordinary people are just a pulse away from becoming a mob.
I'm not talking about rednecks and meth-heads, either--you hear the vilest expressions of grievance and rage coming from pleasant-looking, neatly-dressed people in the aisles of the supermarket or under the dryers at the local salon. Many of these people worship Palin. You actually hear them say things like, "Thank God for Fox! Thank God for Sarah!"

Quite possibly the worst possible answer to an easy question

From the NYT, Via Gawker:
Q: Jets or Giants?
A. I had breakfast about every morning when I am in town, or I should say, several mornings, at the Regency. I see my friends the Tisches. Steve Tisch is my close personal friend. I have been to more Giants games. I spent the holidays, I had lunch over the holidays with Woody Johnson. We met for the first time. I am happy for his team.
 Both of those guys are the team owners. Fail fail fail fail fail fail.

Our current fiscal course:

From a report:

Deficits and debt are headed for dangerously high levels. If we continue current policies, the federal debt will skyrocket from 53 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) at the end of fiscal year 2009 to more than 300 percent of GDP in 2050. That would be almost three times the existing record (which was set when the debt reached 110 percent of GDP at the end of World War II) and would threaten significant harm to the economy. (See Figure 1.) In addition, under current policies, the annual budget deficit is projected to exceed 20 percent of GDP by 2050.

 Someone has to take a stand.

Airport Security oops

A picture is worth a thousand words.

See the problem?

Presented without comment

The list of credentialed press at the Tea Party convention, and the reasons for their selection.

EDIT: The Aftermath.

In the Times

To the Editor:

Re “Wind Power” (editorial, Jan. 9):

When you called for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to make his own decision on the Cape Wind project soon after the March 1 deadline, I was hoping that you would call for him to kill this irresponsible project.

Most people don’t realize that it would take about a half dozen of these similarly environmentally blighting huge wind projects to match the output of a single nuclear power plant that would take up much less space and be much less visible. And the problem of the irregularity of the wind’s blowing has not yet been solved, while a nuclear plant’s output is steady.

Jay M. Pasachoff
Williamstown, Mass., Jan.
9, 2010

The writer, a solar physicist, is a professor of astronomy at Williams College.

Ann Curry on reporting from Haiti & links

by Ann Curry

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti-- All hotels are down, so we are sleeping on the tarmac... Brian in a tent, me in a Canadian Air luggage container, many others on metal grates. In all cases, the ground is hard, so we are using blankets, pieces of foam, some of us even suitcases to sleep on top of.

We are worried about rats, which are numerous. There are lots of mosquitoes.

Hard to sleep because the planes are so loud, especially the c130s. We have to negotiate for bathrooms in nearby buildings, and are currently without one.

We brought in water, but are running out of food, which now consists of MREs. We hope for more supplies tomorrow.

Tonight we have a luxury... the crew of one plane gave us all airline pillows. We are definitely not comfortable, but we are also in the lap of luxury compared to so many here in Haiti.

How are we successful? There are no winners amongst us. We are all focused on getting the story out that must be told.
This is how $10 million/year earners are living in Haiti: think about where that puts the normally impoverished population and you have a clue, to whatever extent a clue is possible from a safe computer seat in a much safer and better equipped country.

More links:

Links on China

In case you missed it, the big cyber-attacks from last month and this past summer appear to have been the work of the Chinese government. Wow.

A good point by Sullivan

Sometimes it's best just to quote then link to the original. There's more over at the Dish, but this is the money quote for me.
His Globe piece is presumably a good way to assess his platform. And it highlights all the bankruptcy of the current conservative establishment. Take a couple of issues. He starts by listing national problems:
Public debt has reached $12 trillion and counting, and Washington politicians want to borrow trillions more.
His solution?
My plan for the economy is simple: an across-the-board tax cut - in the tradition of John F. Kennedy - for families and businesses that will increase investment and lead to immediate new job growth. More tax increases will hurt our recovery. That’s why I have taken a no-new-tax pledge. My opponent will raise taxes.
Does anyone see the contradiction here? Without any tax increases, indeed with more tax cuts, the spending reductions required to reduce the debt will be fantastic: massive cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, and defense. Where does he outline these spending measures? Nowhere. Fiscally, he's as fraudulent as Bush.

I'm just as confused. We can't untax our way our of recession - Keynes's point was always about spending, and removing taxes doesn't effectively do that (if my memory from ECON 101 is right). Am I missing something?

The effects of Game Change

Within journalism, one can be seen here:
    Me: "So we'll do this on deep background, right?"

    Them: "Yeah, but not 'Halperin deep background'--deep background."

    Me: "Right. I can use the info, but if I want to quote I gotta run it by you first."

    Them: "Yes. No book scenes, none of that stuff."

    Me: "Yeah, yeah, I got it."