March 8, 2014
OUR REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT:
The jobs report for February found that governments -- state, local and federal -- had 21,851,000 civilian employees, on a seasonally adjusted basis. That was down 32,000, or 0.15 percent, from a year earlier.This marks the 56th consecutive month, going back to July 2009, that government employment was down on a year-over-year basis, excluding the temporary jobs added for the 2010 census. [...]Governments now employ 15.9 percent of all Americans who have jobs. That is the lowest proportion since 2001.
A PEOPLE WHO THINK THEMSELVES A NATION ARE ONE:
Kiev smells like a smoky summer camp, from the bonfires burning to keep the demonstrators still out on Independence Square warm, but every day it is tidier. Sidewalks in the city center are checkerboarded with neat piles of bricks that had been dug up to serve as missiles and are now being put back.The police, despised for their corruption and repression, are returning to work. Their squad cars often sport Ukrainian flags and many have a "self-defense" activist from the protests with them. A Western ambassador told me that the activists were there to protect the cops from angry citizens. My uncle, who lives here, said they were also there to stop the police from slipping back into their old ways and demanding bribes.This revolution may yet be eaten by its own incompetence or by infighting. A presidential election is scheduled for May, and the race, negative campaigning and all, has quietly begun. The oligarchs, some of whom have cannily been appointed governors of the potentially restive eastern regions, are jockeying for power. But for now, Ukrainians, who were brought together by shared hatred of the former president, Viktor F. Yanukovych, are being brought closer still by the Kremlin-backed invasion."Yanukovych freed Ukraine and Putin is uniting it," said Iegor Soboliev, a 37-year-old ethnic Russian who heads a government commission to vet officials of the former regime. "Ukraine is functioning not through its government but through the self-organization of its people and their sense of human decency."
The arguments for ditching notes and coins are numerous, and quite convincing. In the US, a study by Tufts University concluded that the cost of using cash amounts to around $200 billion per year - about $637 per person.This is primarily the costs associated with collecting, sorting and transporting all that money, but also includes trivial expenses like ATM fees. Incidentally, the study also found that the average American wastes five and a half hours per year withdrawing cash from ATMs; just one of the many inconvenient aspects of hard currency.
GOTTA BREAK THE JUDICIARY:
President Hassan Rouhani told reporters Saturday that it was wrong to close down a newspaper on its first offense just because one writer was seen as inappropriate."The government is in favour of freedom of expression with responsibility," he said in a vigorously applauded speech to media figures broadcast live on television. "If we break the pens and shut the mouths, public trust will be deeply harmed." [...]Rouhani said his opponents were free to attack him. [...]Culture Minister Ali Janati recently urged an end to the ban on social media, including Facebook. That and his move to allow the publication of previously banned books has sparked a furore among conservatives.
KNOWING WHO YOU ARE:
Race pervaded every aspect of Armstrong's career. After he began making movies, he was given an embarrassing jungle outfit to wear in "A Rhapsody in Black and Blue" (1932), a betrayal of everything in his music. Brothers likens the ideology of nineteen-thirties racism that Armstrong lived under to what other musical geniuses suffered overseas at the time:In Russia, Dmitri Shostakovich came under attack for composing music that did not fit official Soviet expectations; his efforts to make up for such "errors" in artistic judgment lay at the root of a tortured life. Richard Strauss's German-themed compositions were easily appropriated by the Nazis, boxing him into an image that he wanted nothing do with.Armstrong, in his own way, made that same point. During the Little Rock schools standoff, he cancelled a planned tour of the Soviet Union for the State Department. As Teachout quotes him in "Pops," "The people over there ask me what's wrong with my country? What am I supposed to say?" Yes, Armstrong compromised. "If he was going to advance further on the ladder of his career--and he definitely was--he had to assure white audiences on a deep level that he had no designs on social progress," Brothers writes.But, in fact, he did, which we see now in his art and in his racial politics, from his interactions with the Memphis police in 1931 and Eisenhower in 1957 to his return in 1965 to New Orleans, without grandstanding or incident. As the pieces come together, a consistency of thought in Armstrong once obscured to us has finally become clear: "You name the country and we've just about been there," he said of his travels with his wife Lucille. "We've been wined and dined by all kinds of royalty. We've had an audience with the Pope. We've even slept in Hitler's bed. But regardless of all that kind of stuff, I've got sense enough to know that I'm still Louis Armstrong--colored."
PURITAN NATION, PURITAN ART:
For some viewers, True Detective never gets past the limits of its cop-show roots. To Grantland's Andy Greenwald, the show only works when it focuses on actual detective work. Otherwise it's a pretentious mess, a clichéd, anguished male-psychodrama in which "darkness isn't a stand-in for depth or maturity." For The New Yorker's Emily Nussbaum, it's more of the same old thing: "macho nonsense" and "dorm-room deep talk," a triumph of style over substance, an "ominous atmosphere" covering up a "phony duet."It's certainly possible to see True Detective as nothing more than a collection tics and gestures -- an assembly of country songs, attractive photographs, and loopy speeches, overlaid with some oddball philosophy for the illusion of depth. But I don't think that's right. I think True Detective, as a whole, is gesturing at something larger. And I think that dismissing something on the basis of style or genre is a mistake. Offbeat genres like murder ballads and B-movie noirs and cop shows allow for the exploration of things that high art can't attempt: secret histories, submerged passions, primal fears. Pulp is an art of extreme possibility. There's a reason philosophers gravitate to weirdoes like H.P. Lovecraft, and why songs like "Pretty Polly" have depths that go unplumbed no matter how often they're sung.Old forms can conceal deep meanings. True Detective draws on various strains of American horror -- rural noir, Lovecraft's cosmic nightmares, Chambers's stories of madness and concealed identity. But what it reminds me of most is something older: Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown," a short story that Melville called deeper than Dante, and that Greil Marcus has invoked in discussing Twin Peaks.The story is set in Puritan New England -- in Salem, Massachusetts, to be exact. In it, Goodman Brown, a pious young man, ventures into the woods one night on an unknown errand, leaving his young wife, Faith, behind in town. On his walk, he meets an older man who looks much like himself, carrying what looks to be a wizard's staff. The older man knows Brown comes from reputable stock: his grandfather whipped a Quaker woman through the streets of Salem, and his father set fire to Indian villages in King Philip's War. Not long after, Brown meets another person from town, Goody Cloyse, who reveals herself to be a witch. Soon, Brown is aloft, flying towards an unseen clearing. All the townspeople are there, celebrating in front of a flame-lit altar which may or may not be full of blood. He recognizes a score of church members, "grave, reputable and pious people, elders of the church." All the people Brown grew up respecting are secretly in the Devil's company. The old men are wanton seducers; the young women sacrifice infants. Their waking lives are lies. As the assembly readies to baptize its newest members, Brown cries out -- and comes to, alone in the forest, not knowing whether what he had seen was a dream. He lives to the end of his days as a broken man. After his death, Hawthorne writes, "they carved no hopeful verse upon his tombstone; for his dying hour was gloom."Myth divides the world into the security of civilization and the wilderness of danger. The woods are full of witches and the swamps are full of ghosts. In "Young Goodman Brown" Hawthorne -- whose own ancestors were active in the witch trials -- undoes the structure of myth, exposing a deeper terror. The Puritans expected the threat to their spiritual community to come from the surrounding forest. The woods were the space of danger: of Indians, of paganism, of witchcraft, and sin. In "Young Goodman Brown," Hawthorne tells us plainly that the woods are never outside. The community that seems righteous is always criminal, and complicit. As True Detective heads towards its final episode, it looks increasingly like the Yellow King isn't Chthulu or a mysterious swamp god. Instead, the perpetrator is a family, its associates, its churches, schools, police officers and public officials and servants and custodians. Evil is woven into the fabric of everyday life. To some, that might be a disappointment. To me, it harks back to the original American horror story: the discovery that the woods are in the town, and the swamp is in our minds.We're all in Carcosa now.
What's it say about life hm? You gotta get together, tell yourself stories that violate every law of the universe, just to get through the goddamn day? Nah. What's that say about your reality Marty?
March 7, 2014
THE REJECTION OF SECOND WAY MEANS IS NOT THE ABANDONMENT OF SECOND WAY ENDS:
In British terms it was Blair, not only Blair but especially Blair, crushing Clause Four before marching to war. Yes, there was relief for the worst effects of the market. No, there was no suggestion that the market might be the root of the problem, that people are not prosperous and are in debt. Credit, a euphemism for debt, is a certain recipe for disaster. The economy was, and remains, fragile, dependent on the fantasy that putative money actually exists.It was bound to crash. The crash duly came. And whose fault was it? It was someone else's fault. It was idle scroungers and bogus refugees. It was big government spending too much on the undeserving. It was the fault of wasteful bureaucracy. It was too much red tape. It was lazy teachers and crazy social workers. It was fancy ideas in the universities and the media. It wasn't the fault of the financial system. It can't have been. The market creates wealth and then distributes it when regulations don't impede its natural course.We are free and we are prosperous. That is the future course of history into an indefinite future. There are impediments, but these will be removed. Common sense will prevail. The only debate is how this will be achieved. Will the accent be Etonian or metromedia? The agonizing choice.The choice is not about policies. People vote for values rather than specific legislative programmes. Values are generated by voices of persuasion within the fabric of general feeling. Once an idea is taken up it acquires a momentum that is not willed. The internal dynamics force the issue. It overflows into the forum of public conversation even, or especially, at a trivial level. This is the case even where the facts, readily available, are evidently contrary to the accepted view.The convention (you hear it everywhere) is that the alternative has been tried, and has failed so obviously and spectacularly that the only viable system is the free market. So the ultimate choice is between Las Vegas or North Korea.
THE EMPIRE AS COLONY:
At present, the United States lacks the capacity to ship any of this natural gas overseas. But an export terminal capable of supplying three billion cubic feet of gas per day in liquefied form is under construction in Cameron Parish, La., and numerous others are in the planning and permitting stages. These vast projects hold the potential for a long-run solution to problems like the one in Ukraine.The hitch is that these projects are bedeviled by a complex and uncertain permitting process, especially in order to sell their gas to countries, like those in the European Union, that haven't signed a free-trade agreement with the United States. As a result, each project must petition the Department of Energy for a finding that exporting gas to our European allies is in the "public interest." Events of the past week show that the energy security of our closest allies is decidedly within the public interest of the United States.The president can help to accomplish this by issuing an executive order finding that liquefied natural gas exports to our allies meet the legal standard. The president should also direct the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Energy Department to expedite the complex permitting process for these terminals, consistent with state and federal safety and environmental laws.In doing so, Mr. Obama should make clear that the intent of such action is to give Europe flexibility, not to cut Russia out of its European gas business.
ALL COMEDY IS CONSERVATIVE (profanity alert):
There is nothing "crypto" about Ramis's 1984 hit, "Ghostbusters": Its Reaganism is fully developed, as numerous critics have pointed out. Here the martinet is none other than a troublemaking EPA bureaucrat; the righteous, rule-breaking slobs are small businessmen--ghost-hunting businessmen, that is, who have launched themselves deliriously into the world of entrepreneurship. Eventually, after the buffoon from the EPA gets needlessly into the businessmen's mix and blunders the world into catastrophe, the forces of order find they must outsource public safety itself to the hired ghost-guns because government can't do the job on its own
Both Reagan and his closest advisers were transfixed by the film, Sidney Blumenthal tells us; "Ghostbusters" fit nicely into their idea of an America guided by "fantasy and myth." And while the film itself piled up its stupendous box-office returns in that summer of '84, Jack Abramoff and his College Republican pals got together a troupe of "Fritzbusters" to warm up the crowds at Republican events, mocking Democratic presidential candidate "Fritz" Mondale with an offensive take-off on the catchy "Ghostbusters" theme song.
JEB'S PATH TO THE OVAL JUST GOT EVEN EASIER:
Bernie Sanders says he is "prepared to run for president of the United States." That's not a formal announcement. A lot can change between now and 2016, and the populist senator from Vermont bristles at the whole notion of a permanent campaign. But Sanders has begun talking with savvy progressive political strategists, traveling to unexpected locations such as Alabama and entertaining the process questions that this most issue-focused member of the Senate has traditionally avoided.In some senses, Sanders is the unlikeliest of prospects: an independent who caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate but has never joined the party, a democratic socialist in a country where many politicians fear the label "liberal," an outspoken critic of the economic, environmental and social status quo who rips "the ruling class" and calls out the Koch brothers by name. Yet, he has served as the mayor of his state's largest city, beaten a Republican incumbent for the US House, won and held a historically Republican Senate seat and served longer as an independent member of Congress than anyone else. And he says his political instincts tell him America is ready for a "political revolution."
REALLY? HE CERTAINLY SEEMS PRO-SOVIET:
MI5 agent John Bingham is cited as inspiration for John le Carré's iconic spy George Smiley--a character boasting wildly successful turns in novels, TV, and films--but it turns out that he wasn't a fan. Newly released papers from Bingham's life show that, not only did he dislike his by-proxy fame, but that he "deplored" the way le Carré portrayed it."You are far from being pro-Soviet or pro-communist," Bingham wrote in an October 1979 letter to him, as if to suggest that le Carré is not not a communist, "but I would think the attacks gave comfort and even pleasure and glee [to such people] in some places."
March 6, 2014
A 13-year-old Lancashire schoolboy has become one of the youngest people in the world to carry out nuclear fusion.Jamie Edwards, a pupil at Penwortham Priory Academy, created the project from scratch with help from his school."I can't quite believe it - even though all my friends think I am mad," he said. [...]"One day, I was looking on the internet for radiation or other aspects of nuclear energy and I came across Taylor Wilson," said the junior scientist who faced a race against time to complete the project before his 14th birthday on Sunday."I looked at it, thought 'that looks cool' and decided to have a go.""You see this purple ball of plasma - basically it's like a star in a jar," he added.
NO ONE HAS IT HARDER THAN THEIR FATHER DID:
The net worth of U.S. households and nonprofit organizations--the value of homes, stocks and other assets minus debts and other liabilities--rose 3.8% in the fourth quarter of 2013, up about $3 trillion from the prior quarter, to $80.7 trillion, according to a report by the Federal Reserve released Thursday.Overall, Americans' wealth rose 14% in 2013, or $9.8 trillion, from 2012. [...]The Fed's figures don't account for inflation or population growth. Still, even after adjusting for inflation using the Fed's preferred inflation gauge, Americans' net worth is at record levels. That suggests Americans have made considerable progress repairing the damage inflicted by the housing crash and recession, which ran from December 2007 through June 2009.
March 5, 2014
Firebrand U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz refused to endorse his colleague John Cornyn before the Texas primary. But a resounding Cornyn victory has changed Cruz's mind.
When it comes to alternate energy sources, most automakers think simply--battery power or bust. That's what makes the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell an outlier. The SUV will be the first mass-produced hydrogen car in the U.S. when it debuts this spring.
Later this year, 1,000 of Hyundai's hydrogen-fueled cars will go on sale in California, and Toyota has announced plans for a commercial model to go on sale in 2015. Ford, Daimler, Nissan, General Motors and Honda have also announced plans for partnerships on hydrogen fuel cell technologies. The California Air Resources Board has projected that there will be over 50,000 electric and hydrogen cars in California by 2018.California Governor Jerry Brown last year agreed to devote $20 million every year over the next decade to build 100 additional hydrogen fueling stations. The state currently has 23 active stations.Hydrogen as a fuel source is an attractive proposition mainly because it doesn't emit toxic, heat-trapping pollutants the way gasoline does. An analysis conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy shows that for a mid-size SUV, the total greenhouse gas emissions from using hydrogen as a fuel is at worst half that for gasoline.
IT'S THE ADULT PARTY:
Establishment Republican leaders on Tuesday defeated challenges from the right in a statewide primary election as conservatives inspired by Senator Ted Cruz largely failed to topple mainstream incumbents, and a race for lieutenant governor headed for a runoff.
WE ARE ALL DESIGNISTS NOW:
It becomes the putative Darwinists that they reject the theory in practice.Think for a moment about a termite colony or an ant colony--amazingly competent in many ways, we can do all sorts of things, treat the whole entity as a sort of cognitive agent and it accomplishes all sorts of quite impressive behavior. But if I ask you, "What is it like to be a termite colony?" most people would say, "It's not like anything." Well, now let's look at a brain, let's look at a human brain--100 billion neurons, roughly speaking, and each one of them is dumber than a termite and they're all sort of semi-independent. If you stop and think about it, they're all direct descendants of free-swimming unicellular organisms that fended for themselves for a billion years on their own. There's a lot of competence, a lot of can-do in their background, in their ancestry. Now they're trapped in the skull and they may well have agendas of their own; they have competences of their own, no two are alike. Now the question is, how is a brain inside a head any more integrated, any more capable of there being something that it's like to be that than a termite colony? What can we do with our brains that the termite colony couldn't do or maybe that many animals couldn't do?It seems to me that we do actually know some of the answer, and it has to do with mainly what Fiery Cushman was talking about--it's the importance of the cultural niche and the cognitive niche, and in particular I would say you couldn't have the cognitive niche without the cultural niche because it depends on the cultural niche.What I'm working on these days is to try to figure out--in a very speculative way, but as anchored as I can to whatever people think they know right now about the relevant fields--how culture could prune, tame, organize, structure brains to make language possible and then to make higher cognition (than reason, and so forth) possible on top of that. If you ask the chicken-egg question--which came first--did we first get real smart so that now we could have culture? Or did we get culture and that enabled us to become smart? The answer to that is yes, it's both, it's a co-evolutionary process.What particularly interests me about that is I am now thinking about culture and its role in creating the human mind as a process, which begins very Darwinian and becomes less Darwinian as time goes by. This is the de-Darwinizing of cultural change in the world.
March 4, 2014
KURDISTAN WINS ALL OUR WARS THESE DAYS:
There's a third party to Syria's civil conflict, and it may be the only one to emerge somewhat victorious from the war.As President Bashar al-Assad's grip has loosened, the roughly 2 million Kurds in Syria's northeast have made their strongest bid yet to break away from Damascus. Earlier this year, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Syrian Kurds' dominant political force, created a new regional government.
The Senate's playing field keeps getting larger and, at least so far, entirely at Democrats' expense. Three of their seats are, to put it charitably, uphill challenges. The open seats in South Dakota and West Virginia are pretty much gone. In Montana, it's unclear whether newly appointed Sen. John Walsh is in any better position, apart from fundraising, than he was when he was just the lieutenant governor running for an open seat. Between national party committees and super PACs, the amount of money raised by the candidates and their campaigns means less than ever before. With a handful of people in each party apparently ready to spend $50 million to $100 million of their own money on behalf of their favored candidates, a lot of things that used to be important aren't so much anymore.Although it is getting surprisingly little attention, Democrat Carl Levin's open seat in Michigan is a toss-up; neither of the candidates is particularly strong or well defined, but the natural advantage that a Democrat in the Motor State could be expected to have is likely offset by ugly headwinds caused by radioactive Obama and ACA numbers. The same can be said for Tom Harkin's open seat in Iowa. In both states, the presumptive Democratic nominees have Obamacare votes to defend, but the highly problematic GOP nomination process in Iowa might well yield an exotic and unelectable contender.Five Democratic incumbents now face tough races, Arkansas's Mark Pryor is in the most challenging situation, followed by Kay Hagan (North Carolina), Mark Begich (Alaska), Mary Landrieu (Louisiana), and Mark Udall (Colorado). Udall became the latest addition to the list when GOP Rep. Cory Gardner announced his candidacy Saturday. Also worth keeping a close eye on are Al Franken (Minnesota); Jeanne Shaheen (New Hampshire), if former Sen. Scott Brown runs; and Mark Warner (Virginia), who is as strong as a Democrat can be in that state but would be in trouble in the event of a meltdown. When there is a president with numbers this bad, even incumbents who might normally be OK need to be watched carefully, particularly if there is deeply unpopular policy weighing down the party's candidates.
NEGOTIATING PUTIN'S LOSS:
It may be too soon for Moscow to be thinking about how to resolve its self-made crisis in Ukraine. But as events that Putin unintentionally unleashed begin to hit Russia's oligarchs and its already none-too-robust economy, the U.S. and Europe should have solutions at the ready. Here are two possibilities.• The Hong Kong solution. Crimea is home to much of the Russian fleet. Western diplomats can pretend to take at face value the idea that Putin acted as he did out of fear for the safety of the fleet and the local Russian population. Carve out the naval base area and some real estate around it and Ukraine can lease it to Moscow for 99 years. [...]• The Guantanamo Bay Naval base solution. This is a variation on the Hong Kong solution, the only difference is that the naval base and surrounding area lease would be permanent, though Ukraine would retain sovereignty.
"...He would not have made them sheep."Can nearly $450 million go missing without a crime taking place? That is only one of the questions stemming from the collapse of the Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox that present a host of challenges for governments worldwide that are struggling to regulate virtual currencies.Mt. Gox filed for bankruptcy protection in Japan after the disappearance of more than 744,000 Bitcoins owned by customers, along with 100,000 of its own. Unlike an ordinary robbery, this appears to be the work of hackers who exploited a weakness in the system for tracking Bitcoin transactions that allowed the currency to be diverted, perhaps over a few of years.The number taken amounts to about 6 percent of the total Bitcoins in circulation, raising serious questions about how any virtual currency can be made safe for consumers and investors.
THE OLIGARCHS YANK THE CHAIN:
The USSR wasn't much of an opponent, but this is embarrassing.As a testy Putin fielded a few sharp queries and a lot of softballs (and ordered a woman out of the room when her phone rang) what may have been most remarkable was the way he described the drama he's been watching in the Ukraine. [...]Putin said there had been no ultimatum for Ukrainian forces to surrender, as was widely reported Monday. He announced Tuesday that the threatening Russian military maneuvers near the Ukrainian border are now over. And even as Putin said he supported Yanukovych, he dissed him. The infamously corrupt president-in-exile has "no political future," Putin said, but had to be taken in by Russia for humanitarian considerations, otherwise he might have been killed.
NOT A ZERO-SUM GAME:
A growing number of Americans are beginning to ask some very important questions about U.S. involvement in the Middle East. We understand that by virtue of our citizenship and our government's decisions, our opinions matter. As an evangelical Christian, I believe that by virtue of my faith, I may not walk away. It's not a question of whether I'm involved, but how.How can I act on the values I hold as a follower of Jesus?How do I best serve the residents of the Holy Land?How do I act in ways that encourage mutual flourishing of Israelis and Palestinians alike?How do I heed the words of the prophet Micah, who told us to do justice and love mercy?And what do Jesus' words about peacemaking mean in this context?Peace advocates are frequently told that we're "naive," particularly if we seek reconciliation in the Middle East. But I would suggest, on the contrary, that we're the realists. It's the purest idealism to continue to behave as if the Israeli-Palestinian status quo is sustainable, and dangerously naive to believe that Israel will remain both Jewish and democratic if Palestinians aren't allowed to control their own destiny.The current state of affairs, in which millions of Palestinians live and labor under Israeli military control, is a tragedy for Palestinians, but it is also a clear and present danger for Israel. The status quo is, in fact, one of the greatest threats facing Israel's security today.My Christian faith teaches me that we all are made in the image of a God who loves us. And as a follower of Jesus, I feel compelled to be an agent of a peaceable kingdom built on love, justice, mercy and mutual human flourishing. I am utterly convinced that Israelis and Palestinians will never achieve the peace, security and freedom they both desire without recognizing that their own aspirations can never be achieved at the expense of the other.
IT'S REMARKABLE HOW PRIMITIVE OTHER SPORTS REMAIN:
Signing extensions with homegrown stars early in their careers has become common practice. The Braves, in the span of three weeks in February, took it to the extreme. They viewed several factors, some league-wide, some specific to their situation.Most important, they had the players. After conducting a study, the Braves found their players 25 and under generated 18.2 wins above replacement, Wren said. The next highest was the Los Angeles Angels with 12 -- and 11 came from Mike Trout. The Braves had more WAR from their under-25 players than the lowest 11 teams in the majors combined."We felt like we had a really good, young dynamic young group of players under age 25 that we could extend," Wren said. "And we'd be capitalizing on their most productive years."Across the league, both the quality and quantity of free agents have declined, and many suspect stronger testing for performance-enhancing drugs has resulted in players declining more rapidly from their peak seasons. Sign a free agent to an eight-year contract, and you get the shaky end of his career. Sign Freeman at 24, and you get his entire prime. And the free agent would cost more."We are seeing, 30 is 30 again. 32 is 32 again," Wren said. "And I think that drives a lot of these decisions. Of the five guys we signed, the oldest is going to be 31. We're getting their prime years, which was part of their strategy."The rash of extensions also has created a cycle: As more teams use extensions for their homegrown players, the free agent crop has thinned."As more and more teams take on this philosophy, you're seeing less quality in the free agent market," Wren said. "And so clubs are looking to keep their own and not have to go into that market. Because it's not only less quality, but it's less efficient. You're at the mercy of a supply-and-demand system. Usually, there's more demand than supply."
Flexcoin, a relatively small Bitcoin bank, announced early Tuesday morning that it's shutting its doors in light of being completely robbed of its currency. All of it. Just days after a massive theft at another major Bitcoin depository, Flexcoin was completely cleaned out by hackers, leaving the site no choice but to shut down. [...]According to Flexcoin's terms of service, Flexcoin users aren't owed anything: "We have taken every precaution to defend your bitcoins from hackers and/or intruders.," the terms clearly state. "However, Flexcoin Inc is not responsible for insuring any bitcoins stored in the Flexcoin system. You are entering into this agreement with Flexcoin Inc. You agree to not hold Flexcoin Inc, or Flexcoin Inc's stakeholders, or Flexcoin Inc's shareholders liable for any lost bitcoins."
60 in '14:
Political handicappers rate Republicans as favorites to maintain their House majority and say the GOP has a legitimate opportunity to gain the six seats it needs to take control of the Senate.The Post-ABC survey affirms those projections, showing Republicans in a stronger position than Democrats in the states with Senate races this fall and more than holding their own in the battle for control of the House. In the 34 states with Senate races, 50 percent of voters say they favor Republicans and 42 percent favor Democrats. [...]This "generic" vote question is not a pure predictor of the outcome of House races, however. Less than half of eligible voters are expected to cast ballots, and the size of Republicans' typical midterm edge is unclear. In October 2006, Democrats held a double-digit advantage on this barometer. That proved enough of a margin, with Democrats capturing control of the House that November. But in the month before Republicans made historic gains and took control of the House in 2010, this indicator still showed narrow support for the Democrats.
21ST CENTURY WHEAT:
A prescient House Energy and Commerce Committee report released last month, just in time for Russia's invasion of Ukraine, suggested that "by becoming a natural gas exporter, the U.S. can supplant the influence of other exporters like Russia and Iran while strengthening ties with our allies and trading partners around the world."President Obama does not want to use military force to counteract Russia. His 2015 Budget, due out this week, will shrink the military still further. But he has another weapon at his disposal, liquid natural gas exports.Congress and the president should without delay pass laws to make it easier to export liquid natural gas. Such laws would help our allies and hit Russia where it hurts, in the pocketbook.More than half of Ukraine's natural gas, and 30 percent of Europe's natural gas, is provided by Russia. Russia gets about half of its revenue from oil and gas. LNG is cheaper in the United States than in Russia, so increasing America's exports of LNG would lower Russia's profits.
THERE IS NO RUSSIA:
At home, this intervention looks to be one of the most unpopular decisions Putin has ever made. The Kremlin's own pollster released a survey on Monday that showed 73% of Russians reject it. In phrasing its question posed in early February to 1,600 respondents across the country, the state-funded sociologists at WCIOM were clearly trying to get as much support for the intervention as possible: "Should Russia react to the overthrow of the legally elected authorities in Ukraine?" they asked. Only 15% said yes -- hardly a national consensus.That seems astounding in light of all the brainwashing Russians have faced on the issue of Ukraine. For weeks, the Kremlin's effective monopoly on television news has been sounding the alarm over Ukraine. Its revolution, they claimed, is the result of an American alliance with Nazis intended to weaken Russia. And still, nearly three-quarters of the population oppose a Russian "reaction" of any kind, let alone a Russian military occupation like they are now watching unfold in Crimea. The 2008 invasion of Georgia had much broader support, because Georgia is not Ukraine. Ukraine is a nation of Slavs with deep cultural and historical ties to Russia. Most Russians have at least some family or friends living in Ukraine, and the idea of a fratricidal war between the two largest Slavic nations in the world evokes a kind of horror that no Kremlin whitewash can calm.Indeed, Monday's survey suggests that the influence of Putin's television channels is breaking down. The blatant misinformation and demagoguery on Russian television coverage of Ukraine seems to have pushed Russians to go online for their information. And as for those who still have no Internet connection, they could simply have picked up the phone and called their panicked friends and relatives in Ukraine.
CONTINUED FAITH IN HOMO ECONOMICUS IS QUAINT:
For approximately one week every month, millions of women change their economic behavior and become more focused on their social standing relative to other women.According to new research from The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management, the ovulatory cycle alters women's behavior by subconsciously motivating them to outdo other women. This research could have important implications for marketers, consumers and researchers.
There's a band of hipsters within the community of people who think hard about energy who think this is a bunch of hoo-ha. We already have a perfectly useful and clean energy source, they say: nuclear power. In terms of its capacity, nuclear power could provide almost all of our energy needs. In terms of carbon emissions, nuclear power is totally clean. Outside of a handful of countries whose names you probably already know, proliferation isn't an issue. Of course, there's the issue of safety. But nuclear power is safe, advocates say. Chernobyl happened because of the insanity of communism, and Fukushima because you probably shouldn't build reactors on the path of tsunamis, not because of anything inherent to nuclear power. The solution to nuclear waste, they say, is more R&D, so that waste can be recycled. Look at France! It draws almost all of its energy from nuclear power, with no serious incident to note in the past 50 years, and the power is cheap, plentiful, and clean.Within the energy analysis community, nuclear advocates are one hipster subset. But as always when we're talking about hipsters, there's a subset within the subset. And these energy hipsters are pushing a nuclear technology that has all the advantages of traditional nuclear and none of the drawbacks. Its name is thorium.Thorium is an element, like uranium and plutonium, which you can use as fuel for a nuclear reactor. Unlike uranium and plutonium, thorium is abundant. Unlike uranium and plutonium, thorium reactors could have "passive" safety. Traditional nuclear reactors sometimes have the annoying tendency of sometimes exploding and showering the area around them with radioactive waste. This is because plutonium and uranium reactors, when shut down, cannot cool off on their own. They need "active" systems to cool them down. If these systems fail, the reactor starts going into meltdown. Thorium, being a lighter element, doesn't have that problem. If you have an emergency in a thorium reactor, you shut it off, and it cools down on its own. It can't melt down. Unlike uranium and plutonium, thorium produces minimal amounts of waste, and even the little waste it does produce is potentially recyclable. And finally, unlike uranium and plutonium, with thorium you can make a reactor, but you can't make a bomb.And there you have the problem.Thorium advocates point out that almost from the beginning, nuclear research has been sponsored by governments -- or, more accurately, military-industrial complexes.