Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘This American Life

Friday Night Links

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* This American Life retracts their Apple documentary. More here.

* Greetings from Milwaukee: Selections from the Thomas and Jean Ross Bliffert Postcard Collection.

* Rortybomb with three ways of looking at the student debt crisis.

* China Miéville previews his new comic series Dial H for Hero.

* Inhofe on climate change: “‘I Thought It Must Be True Until I Found Out What It Cost.” Sure, that’s how facts work.

* Wisconsin GOP loses state Senate majority after surprise resignation.

* The Family Hour: An Oral History of The Sopranos. Via MeFi.

* Rick Perlstein argues the problem isn’t that conservatives are crazier than they were fifty years ago; the problem is they’re exactly as crazy as they were fifty years ago. Via LGM.

After less than three full days of deliberations, the five men and seven women of the jury found Dharun Ravi, 20 years old, guilty of invading the privacy of his 18-year-old roommate, Tyler Clementi, and his dorm-room date. 

So much intercepted information is now being collected from “enemies” at home and abroad that, in order to store it all, the agency last year began constructing the ultimate monument to eavesdropping. Rising in a remote corner of Utah, the agency’s gargantuan data storage center will be 1 million square feet, cost nearly $2 billion and likely be capable of eventually holding more than a yottabyte of data — equal to about a septillion (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) pages of text.

* I miss Linsanity. Those were simpler times.

* Americans used public transformation twice as much in 1940. That’s per capita. That’s nuts.

* Louis C.K. Withdraws as Host of Radio and Television Correspondents’ Dinner. Who invited him in the first place? What a terrible choice for the gig.

* Obama comes out against Amendment One. Hey, me too!

* Al Gore endorses filibuster reform. Hey, me too!

* And today in Settlers of Catan news: A Dutch public broadcasting network last month offered its viewers a board game featuring Israeli settlers who use “Jewish stinginess” and “the Anne Frank card” to colonize the West Bank. Hours of fun for the entire family!

And Then Ira Glass Brought Down Drug Court

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Many listeners have written to us since our episode about Georgia Judge Amanda Williams, asking what ever happened to her. Did she face any consequences for the things we documented on our program?

Yesterday, Georgia’s Judicial Qualifications Commission filed formal charges against her. The twelve counts include a number of things reported in our episode: sending away inmates for indefinite detention, jailing Charlie McCullough for 14 days for exercising his right to contest a drug screen, and using “rude, abusive, or insulting language” with individuals appearing before her.

Written by gerrycanavan

November 10, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Tuesday Night Links

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* They’re Occupying Raleigh next Saturday.

* They’re recalling Scott Walker next year.

* DoJ seems to want us to invade Iran and Mexico simultaneously.

* Who are the 99%? Rortybomb looks at the data.

* Four weeks on Wall Street.

* Freddie de Boer has an important #OWS reality check.

If the message is “I went to college and I don’t have the job and the car and the lifestyle I was promised,” then none of this means anything. These complaints, I’m sorry to say, are ultimately a way of saying “I didn’t get mine.” That’s not a rejection of our failing order. It is an embrace of it in the most cynical terms.

* Yes, Virginia, Republicans are deliberately tanking the economy.

* And I wouldn’t exactly recommend listening to the whole thing, but the first few minutes of the Ira Glass Sex Tape TAL parody are really something. Spot on.

Depressing Sunday Links

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Establishment Democrats are enthusiastically betraying their constituents, and gloating about it. I’ve already committed to not giving money and not volunteering in 2012, but the sticker’s coming off the car if the deal as described goes through. I’m done.

While the New Deal stoically awaits the guillotine, some links, many shamelessly stolen from zunguzungu’s supersized edition of Sunday Reading:

* Congressional Black Caucus: Use the 14th Amendment.

* Jeffrey Sachs: “Every part of the budget debate in the U.S. is built on a tissue of willful deceit.”

* The basic error was that Buchanan approached American politics in procedural or legal terms at a moment when the reigning political conflicts in American life were no longer in any sense shaped or resolved by procedural or legal processes. Obama as James Buchanan. More here from John Judis:

Over the last four decades, the Republican Party has transformed from a loyal opposition into an insurrectionary party that flouts the law when it is in the majority and threatens disorder when it is the minority. It is the party of Watergate and Iran-Contra, but also of the government shutdown in 1995 and the impeachment trial of 1999. If there is an earlier American precedent for today’s Republican Party, it is the antebellum Southern Democrats of John Calhoun who threatened to nullify, or disregard, federal legislation they objected to, and who later led the fight to secede from the union over slavery.

* In a nutshell, what’s going on is something that hasn’t happened in American politics for 50 years: an ideologically coherent social movement with clear political aspirations has taken shape out of murkier antecedents and disparate tributaries and at least for the moment, it has a very tight hold on the political officials that it has elected. The movement is not interested in the spoils system, its representatives can’t be quickly seduced into playing the usual games. And the movement’s primary objective is to demolish existing governmental and civic institutions. They’ve grown tired of waiting for government to be small enough to drown in a bathtub, so they’re setting out with battleaxes and dynamite instead.

Social movements that aren’t just setting out to secure legal protection and resources for their constituency, but are instead driven to pursue profound sociopolitical transformations are unfamiliar enough. What makes this moment even more difficult to grasp in terms of the conventional wisdom of pundits is that this isn’t a movement that speaks a language of inclusion, hope, reform, innovation or progress. It speaks instead about restoration of power to those who once held it, the tearing down of existing structures, about undoing what’s been done. This movement is at war with its social and institutional enemies: it has nothing to offer them except to inflict upon them the marginalization that the members of the movement imagine they themselves have suffered.

* Ezra Klein dangles the carrot: maybe Obama won’t capitulate on the Bush tax cuts again. Sure, maybe.

* Surely there must be a name, in advertising parlance, for the figure of the anthropomorphized food item that happily consumes a non-anthropomorphized version of itself?

* The great teddy bear shipwreck mystery.

* On misremembering the victims of injustice as small children.

* Julian Sanchez: “The very existence of such massive trade in “defensive patents” is, in itself, pretty strong evidence that there’s something systematically quite wrong with the American patent system—because a patent that’s useful for “defensive” purposes is very likely to be a bad patent. I love that Planet Money and This American Life got non-IP people talking about this.

* And I may have done this one before, but what the hell: Inside an abandoned East Berlin amusement park.

Thursday Links

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* BREAKING: John Boehner doesn’t have the votes for even a purely symbolic raising of the debt ceiling. I’m predicting Obama’s lawyers rediscover the Fourteenth Amendment by late Monday afternoon.

* Our bosses are starting to notice: Roach Says Chinese Officials ‘Appalled’ by U.S. Debt Impasse.

Roach cited an unnamed Chinese policy maker as saying in mid-July that “we understand politics, but your government’s continued recklessness is astonishing.”

* The U.S. now has less cash on hand than Apple.

* Limbaugh and Fox bang the table in response to record-breaking temperatures this month.

* Decadence watch: Danny DeVito Open To The Idea of Twins 2.

* This American Life‘s episode on patent law this week was excellent; here’s a response from the company at the heart of its critique.

* Your tweet of the day from Christopher Newfield: “The 13 worst-paying college majors — all are about helping other people or studying deep human needs.”

* Theory fight! Eagleton v. Spivak.

* And Will Arnett says the Arrested Development movie is still happening. Don’t break my heart, Mitch…

Quick Links

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What Day Is It? Tuesday?

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* 10,000 protestors gather in Madison to protest Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s anti-union vendetta.

* Update: Computers really stink at Jeopardy. Or so I keep telling myself.

* In Yeskov’s retelling, the wizard Gandalf is a war-monger intent on crushing the scientific and technological initiative of Mordor and its southern allies because science “destroys the harmony of the world and dries up the souls of men!” He’s in cahoots with the elves, who aim to become “masters of the world,” and turn Middle-earth into a “bad copy” of their magical homeland across the sea. Barad-dur, also known as the Dark Tower and Sauron’s citadel, is, by contrast, described as “that amazing city of alchemists and poets, mechanics and astronomers, philosophers and physicians, the heart of the only civilization in Middle-earth to bet on rational knowledge and bravely pitch its barely adolescent technology against ancient magic.”

* Matt Yglesias is making sense:

Right now we have conservatives simultaneously calling for huge spending cuts and also getting the line’s share of old people’s votes even while the vast majority of non-security spending is on old people. In essence, by first separating the domestic budget into “discretionary” and “entitlement” portions and then dividing the entitlement programs up into “what today’s old people get” versus “what tomorrow’s old people will get” the political class has created a large and vociferously right-wing class of people who are completely immune from the impact of their own calls for fiscal austerity.

* Statistic of the day: 51% of Republicans claim they don’t believe Obama was born in the U.S.

* Curveball: How US was duped by Iraqi fantasist looking to topple Saddam.

* But the only story anyone seems to care about is whether This American Life really has Coca-Cola’s secret formula.

DSM-5

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The insurgency against the DSM-5 (the APA has decided to shed the Roman numerals) has now spread far beyond just Allen Frances. Psychiatrists at the top of their specialties, clinicians at prominent hospitals, and even some contributors to the new edition have expressed deep reservations about it. Dissidents complain that the revision process is in disarray and that the preliminary results, made public for the first time in February 2010, are filled with potential clinical and public relations nightmares. Although most of the dissenters are squeamish about making their concerns public—especially because of a surprisingly restrictive nondisclosure agreement that all insiders were required to sign—they are becoming increasingly restive, and some are beginning to agree with Frances that public pressure may be the only way to derail a train that he fears will “take psychiatry off a cliff.” If you’re interested, there’s also a classic This American Life on the fight over removing homosexuality from the DSM-IV. Via MetaFilter.

Written by gerrycanavan

January 3, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Playing Catchup

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This Neoliberal Life

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This week’s This American Life is an intriguing alternate-universe look at the sort of moralizing condescension that might be leveled at Haiti if its poverty had no history. In the context of Haiti’s actual history, though, I found its talk of charmingly backwards Haitians (“living in the 17th century!”) and the need for efficient economic development to be infuriatingly naïve—and though you can see “Was the earthquake the best thing that could have ever happened to Haiti?” (exact quote, 24:38 minutes in) coming a mile away, that doesn’t really make it any better.

Hundreds of thousands of people were killed and a third of the nation’s population was displaced. I’m glad there’s new hope for international investment in the local mango industry, but think before you speak.

3/16.2

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* Update from yesterday: running marathons will also kill you. Don’t do that either!

* Update from two weeks ago: a New Jersey appeals court has ruled Tea Party supporters in New Jersey can try to recall Robert Menendez despite the fact that no recall procedure exists for federal legislators under the Constitution.

* NBC polls puts health care support at 46-45. Some day, I suspect, this bill may actually pass.

* Related: By this time next week we’ll have seen huge headlines about health care. These headlines will either read “Democrats do it!”, followed by various Republicans and their apologists complaining that what the Dems did wasn’t nice, or “Democrats — losers again”, followed by Republicans going bwahahaha.

And it’s up to a handful of Democrats to decide which headlines we get. They’re out of their minds if they don’t choose door #1. (via)

* Also related, some breaking news: Major legislative breakthroughs are always controversial!

* If you ever watched the This American Life TV show, you might remember Mark Hogancamp, who built a replica World-War-II-era village in his backyard as a means of dealing with being brutally assaulted outside a bar. His story is now a feature-length documentary. (via)

* Wow: Two sources at the Science Times section of the New York Times have told me that a majority of the section’s editorial staff doubts that human-induced global warming represents a serious threat to humanity. So this is why we can’t have nice things. (via)

* More actually existing media bias: CNN hires goat f**king child molester.

* FantasySCOTUS: Who will replace Judge Stevens if he retires?

* And Greensboro in the news! An “equipment failure” caused preview clips for adult programming to appear on two channels dedicated for kids in North Carolina, a spokeswoman for Time Warner Cable Inc. said today.

TAL: ‘Long Shot’

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I thought This American Life was especially good this week even by its usual high standards, featuring the losingest high school football team in Utah, the longest shot ever to win the Kentucky Derby, and a murderer sentenced to life in California who suddenly receives parole after twenty-seven years in San Quentin—subject to Schwarzenegger’s veto. The last of the pieces, by perennial Canavan favorite Wells Tower, doesn’t seem to have all that much to do with long shots, but it hit home for me anyway; I have more than one Close Associate who uses entropy as a maintenance scheme and everything Tower had to say I wish I’d written.

So Many Post-Christmas Links

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Sneaking in a quick linkdump between light posting due to Christmas and light posting due to MLA…

* The Senate bill has, as you undoubtedly already know, passed. Ezra Klein, Kevin Drum, and even Jonathan Chait have this more or less right: winning ugly is still winning. There’ll be time to get started on demanding changes to the bill, but progressives shouldn’t forget the victory lap. Here’s Kevin:

So it doesn’t feel much like a victory yet. But it should. I’m 51 years old and this bill is, without question, the biggest progressive advance in my adult life. You have to go back to the great environmental acts of the early 70s to get close, and to the civil rights/Medicare era to beat it. That’s four decades, the last three of which have constituted an almost unbroken record of conservative ascendency. And now that ascendancy is just days away from being — finally, decisively — broken. Warts and all, we’re on the cusp of passing a bill that provides all of this:
• Insurers have to take all comers. They can’t turn you down for a preexisting condition or cut you off after you get sick.
• Community rating. Within a few broad classes, everyone gets charged the same amount for insurance.
• Individual mandate. (Remember how we all argued that this was a progressive feature back when John Edwards and Hillary Clinton were championing it during the primaries?)
• A significant expansion of Medicaid.
• Subsidies for low and middle income workers that keeps premium costs under 10% of income.
• Limits on ER charges to low-income uninsured emergency patients.
• Caps on out-of-pocket expenses.
• A broad range of cost-containment measures.
• A dedicated revenue stream to support all this.

* Likewise, from Al Giordano: “Health Care by the Numbers: What’s In It for You?”

* All the ways the Left has already destroyed America, prior to the health care victory.

* More change we can believe in: The Calm Act would direct the FCC to regulate TV commercial volume to be pegged to the volume of regular programming, so as not to be “excessively noisy or strident.”

* While I’ve been away, everyone has been talking about reforming the filibuster.

* Obama: One-Eighth of a Presidency. 5 Myths about a President’s First Year.

* David Weigel: “Why I Don’t Write about Sarah Palin’s Facebook Posts.”

The problem is that Palin has put the political press in a submissive position, one in which the only information it prints about her comes from prepared statements or from Q&As with friendly interviewers. This isn’t something most politicians get away with, or would be allowed to get away with. But Palin has leveraged her celebrity — her ability to get ratings, the ardor of her fans and the bitterness of her critics — to win a truly unique relationship with the press. She is allowed to shape the public debate without actually engaging in it.

More on Palin from NYRoB.

* Apparent attempted terrorist attack thwarted over Detroit.

* This week’s This American Life should be of interest to academics and abstainers alike: it describes a typical weekend in State College, Pennsylvania, at America’s #1 Party School.

* Science fiction masters of the decade.

* A Basel court acquitted on Monday afternoon a geologist accused of causing earthquakes there during prospecting for geothermal energy.

* Disturbing escalation in the Mexican drug trade: More than a dozen hit men carrying AK-47 and AR-15 assault rifles burst into a house in eastern Mexico around midnight Monday, gunning down several relatives of 3rd Petty Officer Melquisedet Angulo, the 30-year-old who was hailed as a national hero last week after being killed in a battle that left drug lord Arturo Beltrán Leyva dead. This violates the usual rules of engagement between police and criminals (which I know all about from television) and suggests bad things could be in store for Mexico.

* Whole Foods activism gets a scalp? John Mackey stepping down as CEO.

* Eight classic archaeological hoaxes.

* Most commonly shoplifted books. Via MeFi.

* ‘Parent Mad 6-Year-Old Didn’t Like Peanuts Special.’

* A few days late, Sweden’s unusual Christmas tradition.

Kalle Anka, for short, has been airing without commercial interruption at the same time on Sweden’s main public-television channel, TV1, on Christmas Eve (when Swedes traditionally celebrate the holiday) since 1959. The show consists of Jiminy Cricket presenting about a dozen Disney cartoons from the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s, only a couple of which have anything to do with Christmas. There are “Silly Symphonies” shorts and clips from films like Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and The Jungle Book.The special is pretty much the same every year, except for the live introduction by a host (who plays the role of Walt Disney from the originalWalt Disney Presents series) and the annual addition of one new snippet from the latest Disney-produced movie, which TV1’s parent network, SVT, is contractually obligated by Disney to air.
Kalle Anka is typically one of the three most popular television events of the year, with between 40 and 50 percent of the country tuning in to watch. In 2008, the show had its lowest ratings in more than 15 years but was still taken in by 36 percent of the viewing public, some 3,213,000 people. Lines of dialogue from the cartoons have entered common Swedish parlance. Stockholm’s Nordic Museum has a display in honor of the show in an exhibit titled “Traditions.” Each time the network has attempted to cancel or alter the show, public backlash has been swift and fierce…

* And behold: the future. Via MeFi.

Seriously, Why Would Someone Oppose This?

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The students’ goal is to gain passage of legislation that would give permanent resident status to illegal immigrants who had been brought to the United States before they were 15, if they have been here for at least five years, have graduated from high school and attend college or serve in the military for two years.

The This American Life segment on the DREAM Act should be required listening for senators before they vote on this again.

Written by gerrycanavan

December 11, 2009 at 1:22 am

Tuesday Links

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Tuesday!

* Elsewhere in actually existing media bias: Rupert Murdoch supposedly wants to buy NBC Universal, for what I can only assume is pure spite.

* Yesterday’s bogus insurance industry “bombshell” seems to have backfired, galvanizing support for reform and making the passage of some sort of public option more likely. Olympia Snowe just cast a vote for the Senate Finance Committee bill on its way out of committee, saying, “When history calls, history calls.”

* This American Life is doing back-to-back shows on the same topic (health care) for the first time in its history this week and next. This week’s episode on the doctor- and patient-side pressure that contribute to rising costs is quite good, if perhaps a bit generous to the insurance companies; next week’s episode, promisingly entitled “Somebody Else’s Money,” will focus on the insurance companies themselves.

* If classic games had achievements.

* At the core of the C.T.E. research is a critical question: is the kind of injury being uncovered by McKee and Omalu incidental to the game of football or inherent in it? Part of what makes dogfighting so repulsive is the understanding that violence and injury cannot be removed from the sport. It’s a feature of the sport that dogs almost always get hurt. Something like stock-car racing, by contrast, is dangerous, but not unavoidably so.

In 2000 and 2001, four drivers in Nascar’s élite Sprint Cup Series were killed in crashes, including the legendary Dale Earnhardt. In response, Nascar mandated stronger seats, better seat belts and harnesses, and ignition kill switches, and completed the installation of expensive new barriers on the walls of its racetracks, which can absorb the force of a crash much better than concrete. The result is that, in the past eight years, no one has died in Nascar’s three national racing series. Stock-car fans are sometimes caricatured as bloodthirsty, eagerly awaiting the next spectacular crash. But there is little blood these days in Nascar crashes. Last year, at Texas Motor Speedway, Michael McDowell hit an oil slick, slammed head first into the wall at a hundred and eighty miles per hour, flipped over and over, leaving much of his car in pieces on the track, and, when the vehicle finally came to a stop, crawled out of the wreckage and walked away. He raced again the next day. So what is football? Is it dogfighting or is it stock-car racing?

* And bad news, everyone: we’re post SF again.

Written by gerrycanavan

October 13, 2009 at 5:50 pm