Posts Tagged ‘CIA’
* Modern art as weapon in the Cold War. And they say the humanities are worthless!
Why did the CIA support them? Because in the propaganda war with the Soviet Union, this new artistic movement could be held up as proof of the creativity, the intellectual freedom, and the cultural power of the US. Russian art, strapped into the communist ideological straitjacket, could not compete.
* We can’t buy this kind of motivation from the market. No tool or program can spark it. And the elites at the top of the current educational heap—who advanced their careers while the educational culture declined—have no clue.
* Judge rules that Fox Searchlight should have paid its interns. Fox today, literally every other media and publishing outfit in the country tomorrow…
* A judge responded to an assault victim by demanding sex in exchange for ‘legal favors’ in her divorce. She filed a complaint, and he sent cops to plant meth in her car. It’s the most atrocious abuse of power since this other story that was also published today.
* Former White House Chief of Staff mulling run for Illinois governor on bleed-the-teachers platform. You know, for the children.
* Meanwhile, from our governor: Scott Walker Endorses Mandating Transvaginal Ultrasounds And Shutting Down Abortion Clinics.
* Chinese century watch: Nicaragua gives Chinese firm contract to build alternative to Panama Canal.
* Man of Steel sounds pretty middling, alas. And no after-credits sequence? Outrageous.
1. You are more likely to complete NAVY SEAL training than click a banner ad.
2. Only 8% of internet users account for 85% of clicks on display ads (and some of them aren’t even humans!).
3. You are more likely to get a full house while playing poker than click on a banner ad.
4. The average person is served over 1,700 banner ads per month. Do you remember any?
5. You are more likely to summit Mount Everest than click a banner ad.
6. The average clickthrough rate of display ads is 0.1%.
7. You are more likely to birth twins than click a banner ad.
8. About 50% of clicks on mobile ads are accidental.
9. You are more likely to get into MIT than click a banner ad.
10. You are more likely to survive a plane crash than click on a banner ad.
Pagel and his collaborators have come up with a list of two dozen “ultraconserved words.” It contains both predictable and surprising members. The most conserved word is “thou,” which is the singular form of “you.” “I,” “not,” “what,” “mother” and “man” are also on the list. So are the verbs “to hear,” “to flow” and “to spit,” and the nouns “bark,” “ashes” and “worm.” Together, they hint at what has been important to people over the past 15 millennia.
There is no possibility that UC faculty will shirk its responsibility to our students by ceding authority over courses to any outside agency.
* ”Education,” said Mr. Chambers. ”The next big killer application for the Internet is going to be education. Education over the Internet is going to be so big it is going to make e-mail usage look like a rounding error” in terms of the Internet capacity it will consume.
What will drive it will be the demands on companies, in an intensely competitive global economy, to keep improving productivity. E-learning, insists Mr. Chambers, if done right, can provide faster learning, at lower costs, with more accountability, thereby enabling both companies and schools to keep up with changes in the global economy that now occur at Net speed. Schools and countries that ignore this, he says, will suffer the same fate as big department stores that thought e-commerce was overrated. Thomas Friedman, The New York Times, November 17, 1999.
A very common mistake entrepreneurs make is to assume that a feature is not necessary because it doesn’t have a lot of usage, thus it can be safely removed from the product. Sometimes that’s the case, but sometimes, not so much.
Google made a big mistake cancelling Google Reader that will have severe ripple effects to its empire. I know a lot has been written about it, but let me give you a different angle on it.
* America in Decline: Young People Are Much Worse Off Than Their Parents Were At That Age.
* Disenfranchisement, 2000s style: 49% of Michigan’s African American Population Is Under an Emergency Manager.
* You will have to forgive a bit of political incorrectness, but I think it important. #### happens to be a beauty and enhances her fine looks with a careful attention to her grooming and clothes. What not to say in a letter of reference.
* We reexamine prospects for constituency control in American politics with original data describing nearly 2,000 state legislative candidates’ perceptions of mass opinion in their districts and recent advances in public opinion estimation that allow us to determine actual district level opinion with precision. Actual district opinion explains only a modest share of the variation in politicians’ perceptions of their districts’ views. Moreover, there is a striking conservative bias in politicians’ perceptions, particularly among conservatives: conservative politicians systematically believe their constituents are more conservative than they actually are by over 20 percentage points, while liberal politicians also typically overestimate their constituents’ conservatism by several percentage points. A follow-up survey demonstrates that politicians appear to learn nothing from democratic campaigns or elections that leads them to correct these shortcomings. Electoral selection has a limited impact on whether the chosen representative is congruent with the majority of her constituents. These ﬁndings suggest a substantial conservative bias in American political representation and bleak prospects for constituency control of politicians when voters’ collective preferences are less than unambiguous. Via @chrislhayes.
* If you want to know why we need to educate men not to be sexually aggressive, look no further than what happened when Zerlina Maxwell went on television to say that we need to educate men how not to be sexually aggressive.
* Everything we write will be used against us. Every claim on or lament against society that we write will be received in the same way as accounts of rape — as lies. We don’t care anymore.
* At TNI: Here comes 56 Up.
* Conservative Media Star James O’Keefe Pays $100,000 Settlement For ACORN Pimp Sting. ACORN reinstated and refunded, no harm done, right?
* And today in symbolism: John Brennan Sworn in as CIA Director Using Constitution Lacking Bill of Rights.
* In case you missed it last night: “Some Preliminary Theses on MOOCs.”
* New York Times editorial: The Trouble with Online College.
A five-year study, issued in 2011, tracked 51,000 students enrolled in Washington State community and technical colleges. It found that those who took higher proportions of online courses were less likely to earn degrees or transfer to four-year colleges. The reasons for such failures are well known. Many students, for example, show up at college (or junior college) unprepared to learn, unable to manage time and having failed to master basics like math and English.
* The problem isn’t the idea of a postdoc, Stephan said, but the way that position has evolved as so many more people end up in the role. “Ostensibly the postdoctoral scholar is to train someone to be a researcher, and an independent researcher,” Stephan said. “Putting people into postdoctoral positions is great training if they are going to go on and use that training,” she said. But increasingly a postdoc doesn’t lead (certainly not quickly) to an independent, tenure-track position, Stephan said. And postdocs are being used, not trained, she said. “Postdocs have become cheap staff scientists,” she said.
JT: The pope simply felt that he didn’t have the physical strength to carry out the duties of the papacy in the modern age. He has clearly grown frailer in recent months, but I think Benedict probably had this in mind from the beginning of his pontificate. He, along with others in the church, watched Pope John Paul II struggle with illness right up until the end, and I’m sure he felt that was a great witness to the value of suffering. But I’m also sure Pope Benedict saw the dangers of a moribund pope who might linger in office for years. He wanted to break the taboo against resignation, and I think it sets a precedent that will alter the way the church looks at the papacy. For one thing, the cardinals who come together to elect his successor may well look to someone younger, knowing that resignation is an option.
* Is there another developed nation that has a standing monument to a dictator, built by the forced labor of the defeated? Letter from Madrid.
* And Mississippi bans slavery a mere 148 years late. At that point, my impulse really would have been to pretend I sent the email. Oh, you didn’t get our ratification of the 13th Amendment? Oh no! Let me send it again…
Friday Links! Soviet Choose Your Own Adventure, World Tetris Competition, Gödel vs. the Constitution, and More
* In 1987, an anonymous team of computer scientists from the Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic wrote a series of children’s books based on the popular Choose Your Own Adventure series. The books were hastily translated into English and a small number were exported to America, but the CIA, fearing a possible Soviet mind control scheme, confiscated them all before they could be sold. Now declassified, the books have been lovingly converted to a digital hypertext format and put online for the English-speaking world to enjoy. Via MeFi, which has some highlights from You Will Select a Decision:
“If you follow the bear immediately, turn to page 35.
If you follow the bear after some hesitation, wait for ten seconds and then turn to page 35.”
“If you say yes, turn to page 18
I will not permit you to say no. Turn to page 18.”
* Gödel, in his usual manner, had read extensively in preparing for the hearing. In the course of his studies, Gödel decided that he had discovered a flaw in the U.S. Constitution — a contradiction which would allow the U.S. to be turned into a dictatorship. Gödel, usually quite reticent, seemed to feel a need to make this known. Morgenstern and Einstein warned Gödel that it would be a disaster to confront his citizenship examiner with visions of a Constitutional flaw leading to an American dictatorship.
* This week, Europol, the European Union’s criminal-intelligence division, announced that its investigation into match-fixing, codenamed “Operation Veto,” had uncovered 680 suspicious games from 2008 to 2011. It’s huge news, not because the results are particularly surprising — there’s plenty of other evidence, even recent evidence, that match-fixing is rampant in global soccer — but because the sheer extent of the allegations means that we can no longer delude ourselves about what’s happening. This is what’s happening: Soccer is fucked. Match-fixing is corroding the integrity of the game at every level.
* Ted Underwood on text-mining and distant reading: We don’t already know the broad outlines of literary history.
* Fund snidely concludes: “But, of course, as you know there is no voter fraud. Pay no attention to that lightning coming out of Ohio.” While voter fraud does rarely exist, fighting these sorts of “lightning” with strict photo ID laws that disenfranchise legitimate voters is like banning orange juice to prevent jaywalking.
* The main point here: Germany doesn’t get all that much sunlight. In fact, it gets about as much direct solar-energy as Alaska does each year. Just about every single region in the continental United States has vastly more solar resources than Germany.
* Top college football prospect Alex Collins spent Wednesday trying to track down his mother, who had intercepted his letter of intent to attend the University of Arkansas. (Apparently she did not want him to attend college far from home.) Colleges cannot accept commitments from players under 21 without the signature of a parent or guardian. Eventually Collins’ father signed the form, but aren’t 18-year-olds legally entitled to make their own decisions?
* Any guild with half an ounce of integrity would be marching in the streets if their employers made that kind of threat to open up their market to all comers. We professors, on the other hand, have to navel gaze about the implications of our own obsolescence before anyone chooses to lift a finger. If there really are only ten universities in twenty years and that Ph.D. of yours ends up as a really expensive wall hanging, don’t say you weren’t warned. The professoriate is the worst guild ever.
* As with discourse about climate change policy, the persistence of on-the-one-hand, on-the-other forms of argument about the value of officially sanctioned torture represents a victory for those who would justify such abuse. Zero Dark Thirty has performed no public service by enlarging the acceptability of that form of debate. Sounds like it was good enough even-the-liberal Jon Stewart.
* After complaining for weeks that the movie “Zero Dark Thirty” erroneously implies that torture yielded key information in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, a trio of senior senators now want to know whether CIA personnel deliberately misled the filmmakers on that point.
* Wanted: Tenure-track professor of political science specializing in constitutional law to teach four courses per semester. Juris doctor degree highly desirable. Occasional weight-lifting required.
* Via my friend @DanHF: a celebration of Tarantino’s Death Proof.
* And who had Mali in the places-to-invade-next pool? You’ve won some exciting violence.
* Peter Frase: Drone assassination is now the first resort of the state. Inside the CIA’s new dystopian novel. Responds to the Washington Post report on the drone program here.
The game’s true origins, however, go unmentioned in the official literature. Three decades before Darrow’s patent, in 1903, a Maryland actress named Lizzie Magie created a proto-Monopoly as a tool for teaching the philosophy of Henry George, a nineteenth-century writer who had popularized the notion that no single person could claim to “own” land. In his book Progress and Poverty (1879), George called private land ownership an “erroneous and destructive principle” and argued that land should be held in common, with members of society acting collectively as “the general landlord.”
Magie called her invention The Landlord’s Game, and when it was released in 1906 it looked remarkably similar to what we know today as Monopoly. It featured a continuous track along each side of a square board; the track was divided into blocks, each marked with the name of a property, its purchase price, and its rental value. The game was played with dice and scrip cash, and players moved pawns around the track. It had railroads and public utilities—the Soakum Lighting System, the Slambang Trolley—and a “luxury tax” of $75. It also had Chance cards with quotes attributed to Thomas Jefferson (“The earth belongs in usufruct to the living”), John Ruskin (“It begins to be asked on many sides how the possessors of the land became possessed of it”), and Andrew Carnegie (“The greatest astonishment of my life was the discovery that the man who does the work is not the man who gets rich”). The game’s most expensive properties to buy, and those most remunerative to own, were New York City’s Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and Wall Street. In place of Monopoly’s “Go!” was a box marked “Labor Upon Mother Earth Produces Wages.” The Landlord Game’s chief entertainment was the same as in Monopoly: competitors were to be saddled with debt and ultimately reduced to financial ruin, and only one person, the supermonopolist, would stand tall in the end. The players could, however, vote to do something not officially allowed in Monopoly: cooperate. Under this alternative rule set, they would pay land rent not to a property’s title holder but into a common pot—the rent effectively socialized so that, as Magie later wrote, “Prosperity is achieved.”
* Next time you teach, open a window: Elevated carbon dioxide may impair reasoning.
* Gavin Mueller reviews the Onion’s bizarre (but intriguing) reality-TV parody Sex House.
* Douglas Wolk reviews Building Stories.
* Scenes from the future: Boy kicked out of school because he has gene for cystic fibrosis.
* And another: After committing a crime with a printed weapon, a person could simply melt down the plastic and reprint it as something as mundane as a statue of Buddha. And guns made of plastic might not be spotted by metal detectors in airports, courthouses or other government facilities.
* The CIA is urging the White House to approve a significant expansion of the agency’s fleet of armed drones, a move that would extend the spy service’s decade-long transformation into a paramilitary force, U.S. officials said. What could possibly go wrong?
* We have allowed ourselves to become mired in the habits of oligarchy, as though no other politics are possible, even in a putatively self-governing republic, and resignation is one of the most obvious of those habits. We acclimate ourselves to the habit of having our politics acted upon us, rather than insisting that they are ours to command. TV stars tell us that political stars are going to cut their Grand Bargain and that “we” will then applaud them for making the “tough choices” on our behalf. That is how you inculcate the habits of oligarchy in a political commonwealth. First, you disabuse people of the notion that government is the ultimate expression of that commonwealth, and then you eliminate or emasculate any centers of power that might exist independent of your smothering influence — like, say, organized labor — and then you make it quite clear who’s in charge. I’m the boss. Get used to it.
* Baldwin holds slight lead in Wisconsin. Obama up in Iowa, Wisconsin. Obama’s Lead Falls To 3 In Colorado. Ohio Remains Obama’s Firewall. Why the Gallup poll showing Romney +7 is almost certainly wrong: 1, 2, 3. Why I’d have you vote for Obama just one time more.
* Maryland votes in gay marriage! 42 to go.
* Map of the night: U.S. military and CIA interventions since World War II.
* Two terrible tastes that taste bad together: Rick Santorum and for-profit colleges.
* Republic Windows and Doors has been re-occupied. Elsewhere in Occupied America: Rebecca Solnit rhapsodizes—but maybe also eulogizes—Occupy Oakland, while a group affiliated with Occupy Wall Street will host a national convention in July.
“We feel that following the footsteps of our founding fathers is the right way to go,” an organizer told the AP.
I propose we rethink that.
* The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) has confirmed that scientists have found errors in a physics experiment that recorded particles traveling 60 nanoseconds faster than the speed of light in late 2011. But now, the agency says that one of the errors means the particles could have been traveling faster than that!
* And today’s chilling vision of things to come: “Mutated Trout Raise New Concerns Near Mine Sites.” Enjoy your weekend!
A big post, catching up from most of last week:
* Science fiction on the BBC: A brief history of all-women societies.
* News from my childhood: Another new version of Dungeons & Dragons is on the way. MetaFilter agonizes.
* News from the Montana Supreme Court: “Corporations are not persons. Human beings are persons, and it is an affront to the inviolable dignity of our species that courts have created a legal fiction which forces people — human beings — to share fundamental, natural rights with soulless creatures of government…”
* News from
the future right now: Record Heat Floods America With Temperatures 40 Degrees Above Normal.
And what ends up happening there is that the candidate with the big stack of donor money always somehow manages to survive the inevitable scandals and tawdry revelations, while the one who’s depending on checks from grandma and $25 internet donations from college students always winds up mysteriously wiped out.
* While genomic research on the super-old is in its very early stages, what’s fascinating is what the researchers are not finding. These people’s genomes are fundamentally the same as other people’s. They are clearly very special, but not in ways that are obvious.
* What Could Have Entered the Public Domain on January 1, 2012? Under the law that existed until 1978 . . . Works from 1955.
* Pepsi Says Mountain Dew Can Dissolve Mouse Carcasses. Keep in mind: that’s their defense.
* Romney: Elected office is for the rich.
People who stop paying bills earn lousy credit ratings but eventually are freed of old debt under statutes of limitations that vary by state and range from three years to 10 years from the last loan payment.
But if a debtor agrees to make even a single payment on an expired debt, the clock starts anew on some part of the old obligation, a process called “re-aging.”
So if borrowers again fall behind on their payments, debt collectors can turn to their usual tools: letters, phone calls and lawsuits. By restarting a debt’s statute of limitations, the collectors have years to retrieve payments.
* Wells Tower: In Gold We Trust.
* And you probably already saw Paypal’s latest outrage, but man, it’s a doozy.
* In an anonymous industrial park in Virginia, in an unassuming brick building, the CIA is following tweets — up to 5 million a day. 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.
* It was linked in the Adam Kotsko post from earlier, but it’s worth promoting on its own merits: Nobody Cares about Property Damage.
In both cases, the liberal position is based around a belief that we can control how we are perceived, and how the state (and its ideological apparatuses like the media) will respond to us. Or actually this could be put more strongly: the criticism reveals the liberal’s desperate need to be in control. The fact that protestors have very limited ability to prevent state crackdowns, and certainly individual protestors can do almost nothing, is scary, and it conflicts with deeply held liberal beliefs about how the state works, and how protesting can change it.
* Occupy Oakland contrarian watch: WSWS.
* The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project has devised a bizarre plan for deploying its new XO-3 tablet. The organization plans to drop the touchscreen computers from helicopters near remote villages in developing countries. The devices will then be abandoned and left for the villagers to find, distribute, support, and use on their own.
* From Facebook: the fifty states of paranormal horror.
* And the chart of the day: American oligarchy.