Clair de Lune - YouTube

AP Exclusive: CIA following Twitter, Facebook - Yahoo! News

AP Exclusive: CIA following Twitter, Facebook - Yahoo! News: At the agency's Open Source Center, a team known affectionately as the "vengeful librarians" also pores over Facebook, newspapers, TV news channels, local radio stations, Internet chat rooms — anything overseas that anyone can access and contribute to openly.

From Arabic to Mandarin Chinese, from an angry tweet to a thoughtful blog, the analysts gather the information, often in native tongue. They cross-reference it with the local newspaper or a clandestinely intercepted phone conversation. From there, they build a picture sought by the highest levels at the White House, giving a real-time peek, for example, at the mood of a region after the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden or perhaps a prediction of which Mideast nation seems ripe for revolt.

Yes, they saw the uprising in Egypt coming; they just didn't know exactly when revolution might hit, said the center's director, Doug Naquin.

What If Middle-Class Jobs Disappear? — The American Magazine

What If Middle-Class Jobs Disappear? — The American Magazine: The recent trend in job polarization raises the possibility that gains in well-being that come from productivity improvements will accrue to an economic elite. Perhaps the middle-class affluence that emerged during the latter part of the industrial age is not going to be a feature of the information age. Instead, we could be headed into an era of highly unequal economic classes. People at the bottom will have access to food, healthcare, and electronic entertainment, but the rich will live in an exclusive world of exotic homes and extravagant personal services. The most popular bands in the world will play house concerts for the rich, while everyone else can afford music downloads but no live music. In the remainder of this essay, I want to extend further this exercise in imagination and consider three possible scenarios.

Famous Last Words

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Should I make a new link blog?

Libya taps engineer who lived in U.S. for decades as interim leader -

Libya taps engineer who lived in U.S. for decades as interim leader - Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- Libya's transitional government picked an engineering professor and longtime exile as its acting prime minister Monday, with the new leader pledging to respect human rights and international law.

The National Transitional Council elected Abdurrahim El-Keib, an electrical engineer who has held teaching posts at the University of Alabama and Abu Dhabi's Petroleum Institute, to the post with the support of 26 of the 51 members who voted. El-Keib emerged victorious from a field that initially included 10 candidates.

"This is a new Libya," El-Keib told reporters. "It's been 42 years with our friends and people all around the world dealing with a brutal dictator, so concerns are in order, but I want to tell you there should be none of those.

Reader redesign: Terrible decision, or worst decision? - >*

Reader redesign: Terrible decision, or worst decision? - >*: After I left Google in July, I heard that there was renewed effort around the project and that a new team was bringing some much-needed attention to the product. I expected them to give the product a facelift, and integrate G -- both things that needed to happen.

But killing off functionality that could have easily been built on top of G , and missing the mark by so much on the UI... and then releasing them under the guise of improvements?

Bad decisions, indeed.

Boston Review — Morgan Meis and S. Abbas Raza: Violence and Human Progress

Boston Review — Morgan Meis and S. Abbas Raza: Violence and Human Progress: The degree to which Pinker is willing to celebrate the joys of bourgeois life is refreshingly honest. He is fully aware that such celebration looks uncouth to many. “A loathing of modernity,” he writes,

is one of the great constants of contemporary social criticism. Whether the nostalgia is for small-town intimacy, ecological sustainability, communitarian solidarity, family values, religious faith, primitive communism, or harmony with the rhythms of nature, everyone longs to turn back the clock. What has technology given us, they say, but alienation, despoliation, social pathology, the loss of meaning, and a consumer culture that is destroying the planet to give us McMansions, SUVs, and reality television?

But that’s not the way it really is, Pinker explains. In fact, “unsentimental history and statistical literacy” can take our blinders off and show us that even the negative aspects of modernity are a huge improvement over the ways we used to live. This applies not only to brute matters such as the decline of violence and the greater access to material goods, but also to the finer things as well, such as beauty, knowledge and truth. We are, in short, experiencing progress in almost every way imaginable.

History of the Non-Medical Use of Drugs in the United States

History of the Non-Medical Use of Drugs in the United States: And there was a second tax. (and again, these are hypothetical figures but they will show you how it worked.) was a tax of a thousand dollars of every single non-medical exchange of every one of these drugs. Well, since nobody was going to pay a thousand dollars in tax to exchange something which, in 1914, even in large quantities was worth about five dollars, the second tax wasn't a tax either, it was a criminal prohibition. Now just to be sure you guys understand this, and I am sure you do, but just to make sure, let's say that in 1915 somebody was found, let's say, in possession of an ounce of cocaine out here on the street. What would be the Federal crime? Not possession of cocaine, or possession of a controlled substance. What was the crime? Tax evasion.

Iraq Troop Withdrawal: The Zero-Sum Game - By Douglas Ollivant | Foreign Policy

Iraq Troop Withdrawal: The Zero-Sum Game - By Douglas Ollivant | Foreign Policy: In short, it is time for the United States to stop being a "helicopter parent" to the Iraqis. To extend the metaphor: The Iraqis have graduated and are now legally of age. Let them go. They will doubtless not do everything perfectly or in the way the United States would prefer. So be it. They are no longer America's wards, no longer its charges, no longer in receivership.

This is how the U.S. war in Iraq ends.

24 Hours at Fukushima - IEEE Spectrum

24 Hours at Fukushima - IEEE Spectrum: Unlike the Three Mile Island accident in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986, the chain of failures that led to disaster at Fukushima was caused by an extreme event. It was precisely the kind of occurrence that nuclear-plant designers strive to anticipate in their blueprints and emergency-response officials try to envision in their plans. The struggle to control the stricken plant, with its remarkable heroism, improvisational genius, and heartbreaking failure, will keep the experts busy for years to come. And in the end the calamity will undoubtedly improve nuclear plant design.

News Desk: The Fringe Frontrunner : The New Yorker

News Desk: The Fringe Frontrunner : The New Yorker
Either way, Cain represents the emergence of a truly new phenomenon in Presidential politics: the fringe frontrunner. Every Presidential campaign attracts eccentrics with slim résumés and no chance of winning. Sometimes they are wealthy businessmen (like Steve Forbes) who buy their way into the spotlight. Other times they are minor celebrities among a small, passionate group of ideologues within the party (like Ron Paul). They exist in every open Presidential primary in both parties. They often enliven debates and force their more electable, centrist colleagues to take uncomfortable stands on difficult issues, which is generally a good thing for our politics. In previous elections, these fringe candidates have never come close to becoming serious contenders. They run to push the ideological debate further to the right or left and to make a name for themselves in the process. If they are lucky, they end up with some notoriety, a new national fundraising base, and perhaps a show on cable TV. These types of fringe candidates don’t truly prepare for the absurdities and difficulties of a Presidential campaign because in their heart of hearts they never believed they would make it very far.

The price for ridding society of bad is always high

With Google Reader killed off, this is now my best method of sharing content. Not very happy with it though. -W

The price for ridding society of bad is always high: In June of 1945, the following striking letter arrived at the home of 3-year-old Dennis Helms in Washington, written on a sheet of Adolf Hitler's letterhead. It had been penned by his father, Lt. Richard Helms, an intelligence operative with the OSS who, following Germany's surrender the month before, had managed to acquire some of the recently-deceased Nazi leader's stationery from the Reich Chancellery. He then wrote to his son.

Richard Helms later became Director of the CIA. His letter to Dennis now resides in their museum.

Transcript follows. Image courtesy of The Washington Post.




Dear Dennis,

The man who might have written on this card once controlled Europe - three short years ago when you were born. Today he is dead, his memory despised, his country in ruins. He had a thirst for power, a low opinion of man as an individual, and a fear of intellectual honesty. He was a force for evil in the world. His passing, his defeat - a boon to mankind. But thousands died that it might be so. The price for ridding society of bad is always high.

Love, Daddy

Trick-or-Treat: The Google Reader Changes Are Coming Tonight - Rebecca J. Rosen - Technology - The Atlantic


Trick-or-Treat: The Google Reader Changes Are Coming Tonight - Rebecca J. Rosen - Technology - The Atlantic: Given the intensity of the opposition, Google must be calculating that even if many people flee Reader to HiveMined or another system, at least a few will transition over to Google . And if even a few high-volume sharers begin to use Google , that could inject the flagging network with a fresh shot of content that attracts many more readers.

The lesson is that thousands of people -- even tens of thousands of people -- who use a mostly ad-free service without charge just don't have very much power. Google Reader users: You get what you pay for.