November 3, 2012

Posted by orrinj at 10:07 PM


WMUR Granite State Poll: Presidential race in a dead heat (WMUR,  Nov 03, 2012)

With just three days before the election, a new WMUR Granite State Poll shows the presidential race is a dead heat in New Hampshire.

President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are each expected to get 47 percent of the votes, according to the poll. Two percent of voters polled said they will choose another candidate and 4 percent remain undecided.

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Posted by orrinj at 3:28 PM


Poor guy, hate is really all he has left to motivate his base.
Posted by orrinj at 3:21 PM


Ryan: 'We believe in change and hope' (Alex Moe, 11/03/12. NBC)

Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan echoed Mitt Romney's call to vote for "love of country" not out of "revenge," seizing upon a line of President Barack Obama's.

"Mitt Romney and I are asking you to vote out of love of country," Ryan told a crowd at Marietta College. "That's what we do in this country. We don't believe in revenge. We believe in change and hope."

Posted by orrinj at 12:08 PM


Miami Herald FL Poll: Romney 51%-Obama 45% (Marc Caputo, 11/02/12, Miami Herald)

Mitt Romney has maintained a solid lead over President Barack Obama in the latest Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald poll of likely voters who favor the Republican by six percentage points.

Romney's strengths: independent voters and more crossover support from Democrats relative to the Republicans who back Obama, according to the survey conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research. [...]

Romney is winning handily among men, marginally losing with women voters and has outsized support among non-Hispanic whites. He's essentially winning on the issues as well: the economy, Medicare, foreign policy and looking out for the middle-class.

Coker noted the poll results are essentially unchanged from last month, when Romney led by a point more after he crushed Obama in their first debate.

Posted by orrinj at 7:58 AM


2012 U.S. Electorate Looks Like 2008 : Composition of electorate by race, age, gender essentially the same (Jeffrey M. Jones, 10/26/12, Gallup)

Gallup identifies likely voters using a series of seven questions that ask about current voting intentions and past voting behavior. The resulting sample of likely voters has proven to give a generally accurate prediction of the final election outcome. For example, in 2004, Gallup's final likely voter estimate (before undecideds were allocated to the candidates) showed George W. Bush with a two-percentage-point advantage over John Kerry in an election Bush won by just over two points. And Gallup's final 2008 estimate showed Barack Obama outpolling John McCain by 11 points, a slight overestimate of Obama's seven-point margin of victory. [...]

[T]he largest changes in the composition of the electorate compared with the last presidential election concern the partisan affiliation of voters. Currently, 46% of likely voters identify as Democrats or lean Democratic, compared with 54% in 2008. But in 2008, Democrats enjoyed a wide 12-point advantage in party affiliation among national adults, the largest Gallup had seen in at least two decades. More recently, Americans have been about as likely to identify as or lean Republican as to identify as or lean Democratic. Consequently, the electorate has also become less Democratic and more Republican in its political orientation than in 2008. In fact, the party composition of the electorate this year looks more similar to the electorate in 2004 than 2008.

Posted by orrinj at 7:35 AM


House Republicans may actually add to their majority on Election Day (Aaron Blake , November 2, 2012, Washington Post)

The Fix now projects that the 2012 race for the House is likely to be close to a draw, and there is even a fair chance that Republicans will add to their biggest majority in six decades on Tuesday.

Below, The Fix is updating the ratings of 10 House races, with most of them moving in the GOP's direction.

Posted by orrinj at 7:27 AM


A Part-Time Life, as Hours Shrink and Shift (STEVEN GREENHOUSE, 10/28/12, NY Times)

While there have always been part-time workers, especially at restaurants and retailers, employers today rely on them far more than before as they seek to cut costs and align staffing to customer traffic. This trend has frustrated millions of Americans who want to work full-time, reducing their pay and benefits.

"Over the past two decades, many major retailers went from a quotient of 70 to 80 percent full-time to at least 70 percent part-time across the industry," said Burt P. Flickinger III, managing director of the Strategic Resource Group, a retail consulting firm.

No one has collected detailed data on part-time workers at the nation's major retailers. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that the retail and wholesale sector, with a total of 18.6 million jobs, has cut a million full-time jobs since 2006, while adding more than 500,000 part-time jobs.

Technology is speeding this transformation. In the past, part-timers might work the same schedule of four- or five-hour shifts every week. But workers' schedules have become far less predictable and stable. Many retailers now use sophisticated software that tracks the flow of customers, allowing managers to assign just enough employees to handle the anticipated demand.

Posted by orrinj at 7:12 AM


Are jobs obsolete? (Douglas Rushkoff, 9/07/12, CNN)

The U.S. Postal Service appears to be the latest casualty in digital technology's slow but steady replacement of working humans. Unless an external source of funding comes in, the post office will have to scale back its operations drastically, or simply shut down altogether. That's 600,000 people who would be out of work, and another 480,000 pensioners facing an adjustment in terms.

We can blame a right wing attempting to undermine labor, or a left wing trying to preserve unions in the face of government and corporate cutbacks. But the real culprit -- at least in this case -- is e-mail. People are sending 22% fewer pieces of mail than they did four years ago, opting for electronic bill payment and other net-enabled means of communication over envelopes and stamps.

New technologies are wreaking havoc on employment figures -- from EZpasses ousting toll collectors to Google-controlled self-driving automobiles rendering taxicab drivers obsolete. Every new computer program is basically doing some task that a person used to do. But the computer usually does it faster, more accurately, for less money, and without any health insurance costs.

We like to believe that the appropriate response is to train humans for higher level work. Instead of collecting tolls, the trained worker will fix and program toll-collecting robots. But it never really works out that way, since not as many people are needed to make the robots as the robots replace.

Posted by orrinj at 6:56 AM


What really happened to Xi Jinping (Mark Kitto, OCTOBER 31, 2012, Prospect)

In the first days of September, Xi chaired a meeting of the "red second generation," the sons and daughters of the party's old guard. The second generation are in late middle age and exert disproportionate influence through their families' political and commercial networks. It is considered prudent for the incoming leader to submit to them his plans for a tenure that will last, if all goes well, for the next ten years.

The second generation is split along factional and family lines. They hold grudges that go back decades. The recent Bo Xilai scandal is a good example of those hidden rivalries coming out into the open. When the second generation meet there is conflict, sometimes physical. Fifty years ago the battles between their parents might have ended with the loser being sent to a forced labour camp, or worse.

The meeting turned violent. They went at it hammer and sickle. Xi Jinping tried to calm them down. He put himself physically in the crossfire and unwittingly into the path of a chair as it was thrown across the room. It hit him in the back, injuring him. Hence the absence, and the silence, and the rumours.

Posted by orrinj at 6:47 AM


And the 'Jeopardy!' Answer Is: Buzz First : Contestants come armed with plenty of knowledge. The real test: How are your motor skills? (JOHN-CLARK LEVIN, 10/31/12, WSJ)

Answer: This is the best way to risk your intellectual dignity on national television. Question: What is "Jeopardy!"?

After many years of sitting with family or friends in front of the TV on weekday evenings, matching wits with the game-show contestants and host Alex Trebek, I decided last year to try to make it into the competition myself.

The first hurdle was an online test: 50 rapid-fire questions on a grab bag of subjects. More than 100,000 people try out each year, so I knew it was a long shot. Yet somehow I passed and was invited to an in-person audition in Los Angeles. There was a written test, mock gameplay and an interview. We were told that we would be called within 18 months if we had been selected. [...]

My study of the game also revealed that, since all the contestants are going to be bright and well-read, what sets them apart is motor skills: When Mr. Trebek finishes reading a clue, a producer arms a set of lights that viewers at home don't see. The goal is to press the button on a hand-held buzzer after those lights go on but before one of your opponents buzzes in. That window is often just several dozen milliseconds long. Human reaction time averages 190 milliseconds. So I would have to rely on listening to Mr. Trebek's voice alone and try to anticipate the lights.

I also decided on my strategy. Statistical analysis suggested that most players are too timid, so I settled on a desperado approach of buzzing in whenever I had an educated guess and of wagering as much money as possible. Making these decisions in advance would minimize the risk of a blunder under the hot lights and the glare of almost 10 million viewers.

When I tried out, 20 years ago, they brought us into a room and gave us little bells with the ringer on top, like your teacher used to have on her desk and they flipped over cardboard cards with the answers on them.  I was playing against a bunch of hefty farmer's wives in pant suits.  When they flipped over a card I'd ring the bell.  But they admonished me to wait until they'd read the whole answer out loud.  Then it became just a dexterity contest and the ladies kicked my behind. For months I'd have to writhe through episodes of the show where Betty from Vermont stood there buzzing like a maniac, from the moment the Answer appeared....
Posted by orrinj at 6:42 AM


The (Distinctively) Christian View of Marriage (Peter Lawler, November 1, 2012, Big Think)

With the coming of Christianity, the city could no longer command men and women to have children to replenish the human cannon fodder that had been lost in the last war, as it apparently it even commanded Socrates.  And it could no longer be understood to be allowed to treat persons like animals to be bred for improving the species or the city.  The objection we have to the eugenics schemes of Socrates in the Republic or those of the 20th century fascists in decisively personal or Christian.

That's why Christians have dissented from any theology that reduces persons to less than they really are.  The early Christians seemed like dangerous atheists to the Romans, and that why even or especially the most philosophic emperors--such as Julian and Marcus Aurelius--were so big on wiping them out before it was too late.

The Christians denied the very existence of the gods of the city, the divine foundation that secured the political community.  Their atheism, in fact, seemed more dangerous than that of the philosophers who exempted only themselves--because of their liberated minds--from the commands of the Laws.  For the Christian, every person is liberated from the degrading cave that was the ancient city.  No person--or not just philosophers--should submit to political domination.  We're all liberated by virtue of who each of us most deeply is.

The Christians are, in fact, political atheists because they know are made in the image of the personal God.  They are, above all,members of the City of God that transcends every political distinction by encompassing us all--Jew and gentile, Roman and barbarian, man and woman, black and white,  smart and not-so-smart, and so forth.

So Christian marriage is more personal than the civil marriage of the Greeks and Romans.  It's less political or less distorted by arbitrary patriarchal considerations.  Every innovation associated with Christian marriage aimed to elevate women to equality with men as free, relational persons, to reflect the truth, which we so readily deny with pride, that we are all equal as sinful persons under God.

The prohibition of divorce--a New Testament innovation--was for women, because divorce was rarely really available for them.  The sanctification of monogamy is all about the uniting of two equal persons for shared responsibilities.  Monogamy together with chastity were for locating sexual desire in a deeply relational or loving context, and so men could no longer exploit women as mere bodies.  Polygamy, found for example, in the Old Testament, was more a political than a relational institution, one that necessarily subordinates women to the will of men.

Posted by orrinj at 6:38 AM


Axelrod: Obama Stump Speech Now 'Coming From His Loins' (Carol E. Lee, 11/02/12, WSJ)

At what point does the campaign's sexualizing of the President--at a time when they have to drive up the turnout of single women--become strategy, rather than faux pas?

Posted by orrinj at 6:32 AM


The Long Con: Mail-order conservatism (Rick Perlstein, The Baffler No. 21)

And what of Willard M. Romney's part in the game? There's a lot going on with Romney's lying, not all of it related to his conservative identity; he was making things up as a habit, after all, back when he was a Massachusetts moderate. To a certain extent, Romney's lies are explicable in just the way a lot of pundits are explaining them. When you've been all over the map ideologically, and you're selling yourself to a party now built on extremist ideological purity, it takes a lot of tale-telling to cover your back. But that doesn't explain one overlooked proviso: these lies are as transparent to his Republican colleagues as they are to any other sentient being. Nor does it account for a still more curious fact--for all the objections that conservatives have aired over Romney's suspect purity in these last months, not one prominent conservative has made Romney's dishonesty part of the brief against him.

It's time, in other words, to consider whether Romney's fluidity with the truth is, in fact, a feature and not a bug: a constituent part of his appeal to conservatives. The point here is not just that he lies when he says conservative things, even if he believes something different in his heart of hearts--but that lying is what makes you sound the way a conservative is supposed to sound, in pretty much the same way that curlicuing all around the note makes you sound like a contestant on American Idol is supposed to sound.

In part the New York Times had it right, for as much as it's worth: Romney's prevarications are evidence of simple political hucksterism--"short, utterly false sound bites," repeated "so often that millions of Americans believe them to be the truth." But the Times misses the bigger picture. Each constituent lie is an instance pointing to a larger, elaborately constructed "truth," the one central to the right-wing appeal for generations: that liberalism is a species of madness--an esoteric cult of out-of-touch, Europe-besotted ivory tower elites--and conservatism is the creed of regular Americans and vouchsafes the eternal prosperity, security, and moral excellence of God's chosen nation, which was doing just fine before Bolsheviks started gumming up the works. an extended essay arguing that your ideological opponents' argument that your own ideology is mad is a function of their madness.  You are they.

Posted by orrinj at 6:22 AM


The End of 'The Killing' Spree (JAVIER ESPINOZA, 11/01/12, WSJ)

Already a pop-culture phenomenon in Denmark with more than 1.5 million viewers tuning in, the series became an international success when a subtitled version was aired across Europe and the U.K. BBC Four showed the original series in 2011, which proved so popular the network aired the second season later that year, with viewer numbers doubling from the first to the second series. (In Denmark, the second season of "The Killing" was aired two years after the first.) The show was also remade in the U.S. by TV network AMC.

"I am a very big fan of U.S. shows," says Søren Sveistrup, creator and writer of "The Killing." "But at the time when we did this show, the U.S. shows had been too much of a recipe. I saw one episode and knew that there would be one killer, one case closed, and the heroine would go out with the forensic guy and they would have a fling. I was bored with the recipe so I wanted to do something different.

"People deserve quality in television," he adds. "You have to produce something that you think is intelligent. You want it to be emotional, of course, but I don't want to talk down to the audience."

Mr. Sveistrup's unformulaic formula? One murder to be solved over the course of 10 episodes (20 in the first season), each representing one day of the investigation. While a more intense experience, it also makes it more difficult for viewers to jump in midway through a series.

"You spend hours of drama dealing with it. That slows down the pace and that allows you to go much deeper into the characters and into the different subjects than I think TV viewers are used to," says Ms. Gråbøl, who worked closely with Mr. Sveistrup on each script's trajectory. "The success of the show proves that TV audiences actually want more than entertainment. They are not frightened to go a bit deeper."

Posted by orrinj at 6:18 AM


Face-to-Face : Following a subtle trail of artifacts, a Canadian archaeologist searches for a lost chapter of New World history. (Heather Pringle, 10/25/12,  NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE)

Something about the strange strands didn't fit. Patricia Sutherland spotted it right away: the weird fuzziness of them, so soft to the touch.

The strands of cordage came from an abandoned settlement at the northern tip of Canada's Baffin Island, far above the Arctic Circle and north of Hudson Bay. There indigenous hunters had warmed themselves by seal-oil lamps some 700 years ago. In the 1980s a Roman Catholic missionary had also puzzled over the soft strands after digging hundreds of delicate objects from the same ruins. Made of short hairs plucked from the pelt of an arctic hare, the cordage bore little resemblance to the sinew that Arctic hunters twisted into string. How did it come to be here? The answer eluded the old priest, so he boxed up the strands with the rest of his finds and delivered them to the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Quebec.

Years passed. Then one day in 1999 Sutherland, an Arctic archaeologist at the museum, slipped the strands under a microscope and saw that someone had spun the short hairs into soft yarn. The prehistoric people of Baffin Island, however, were neither spinners nor weavers; they stitched their clothing from skins and furs. So where could this spun yarn have come from?

There's a reason Cain slew Abel.

Posted by orrinj at 6:15 AM


Jeremy Hunt to open world's first placebo hospital (News Biscuit, 10/25/12)

Britain's first hospital built entirely on the power of suggestion is to be opened next week as a cost-effective solution to the rising price of healthcare. The Royal London Placebo is totally fabricated, offers no actual treatments and will be manned entirely by extras from TV shows such as Casualty and Holby City.

'Each doctor will have a nice white coat, a plastic stethoscope and a range of brightly coloured sugar pills,' explained Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. 'No expense has been spared,' he said, 'except the expense of building an actual hospital with trained staff and equipment.'

The Royal Placebo is understood to be the first in a new generation of 'dummy hospitals' to be rolled out across the country, allowing the phasing out of the costly old style 'real' hospitals of the past.

The key would be to disguise the fact they're placebos.

Posted by orrinj at 6:13 AM


Tribune poll: Matheson trails Love 52 percent to 40 percent (Robert Gehrke, 11/01/12, The Salt Lake Tribune)

Brad Coker, managing director at Mason-Dixon, said that Matheson may be falling victim to the popularity of Mitt Romney.

"Romney is winning [Utah] by such a big margin and Republican voters are coming out because of Romney," Coker said. "It's just not a good year to be a Democrat in Utah."

Love -- with the backing of national groups and fundraising help from prominent national Republicans -- has also been able to keep pace with Matheson's spending and has become a popular figure among national Republicans, Coker said.

If Love wins the seat, she would become the first black Republican woman in Congress and the first black representative from Utah.

"I am encouraged by the momentum my campaign continues to gain which validates to me that Utahns are ready for a change in Washington," Love, who cast her own ballot Thursday, said of the results. "I know we have a lot of work left to do and know that every vote, voter and volunteer will make the difference on Tuesday."

Posted by orrinj at 6:10 AM


Monitoring can prevent unnecessary prostate ops: study (AFP, 11/02/12)

Close monitoring of prostate cancer tumours may make radiation and surgery -- which can cause incontinence and impotence -- unnecessary, a new study has shown.

Prostate cancer is one of the slowest-growing forms of the disease, and many men with tumours may never develop symptoms during their lifetime, meaning that many are treated unnecessarily -- often with serious side-effects.

After decades of cancer hysteria folks, understandably, just want it out, no matter what that does to them.