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While the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must

Putin's Russia: Like a gangster running a crime syndicate, Putin muscles opponents and assassinates critics. Nonetheless, his bid in Ukraine may be reactionary to NATO edging closer to Russia's borders. As Dan Carlin notes, it's as if Russia began training Mexican soldiers. Meanwhile, everyone needs a hero.
posted by four panels on Feb 27, 2015 - 18 comments

From Grad School to The Atlantic: Public Discourse & Comment Sections

Anyone who writes articles on the web knows the maxim: "Don’t read the comments." Fortunately for Yoni Appelbaum, a recent Ph.D. in history from Brandeis University, the well-known writer Ta-Nehisi Coates routinely ignores that rule.
How a history Ph.D. who was on the tenure-track market ended up in with a pretty good gig in journalism, primarily because of the quality of his comments.
posted by Toekneesan on Feb 27, 2015 - 6 comments

FCC votes for Net Neutrality

When President Obama appointed Tom Wheeler (a former top telecom lobbyist) as chairman of the FCC, he got a lot of grief for selling out his '07 pledge to protect Net Neutrality -- the founding principle long prized by open web activists that ISPs cannot privilege certain data over others, without which dire visions of a tiered and pay-for-play internet loomed. Earlier, weaker attempts at net neutrality had failed in court, and the new chairman looked set to fold. But after an unprecedented outcry following last year's trial balloon for ISP "fast lanes" -- including a viral appeal by John Oliver, a public urging by the president, and perhaps Wheeler's own history with the pre-web NABU Network -- the FCC yesterday voted along party lines to enact the toughest net neutrality rules in history, classifying ISPs as common carriers and clearing the way for municipal broadband. ISPs reacted with (Morse) venom, while congressional Republicans are divided over what they called "Obamacare for the internet."
posted by Rhaomi on Feb 27, 2015 - 49 comments

“Humans are the dominant race of Thedas,”

Dragon Age's Post-Racial (High) Fantasy
posted by Fizz on Feb 27, 2015 - 36 comments

Stop calling for a Muslim Enlightenment

After every terror attack the call rings out for the Muslim world to become modern. Whenever jihadi groups carry out an atrocity, or – as is happening a lot these days, western foreign policy failures lead to large areas of the world coming under the sway of oafs who claim to be acting for God – the call goes up for a Muslim Enlightenment. The imputation of Védrine, the French schoolteachers, and thousands of other commentators is that various internal deficiencies have excluded Islam from this indispensable cultural and intellectual event, without which no culture can be considered modern. Such views cut across political borders; they would find sympathy at the BBC as well as in the editorial offices of the Sun. Islam needs to get with the programme. [more inside]
posted by standardasparagus on Feb 25, 2015 - 72 comments

The grim nightmare of successfully banning booze

Edward Snowden, Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald recently did an AMA on Citizenfour, their Oscar winning documentary about Snowden and the NSA scandal. Among the highlights is Snowden discussing the relationship between people and their governments and how enforcing the law too well actually can have severe drawbacks.
posted by Drinky Die on Feb 24, 2015 - 22 comments

A daring plan to rebuild Syria — no matter who wins the war

In terms of sheer devastation, Syria today is worse off than Germany at the end of World War II. [more inside]
posted by standardasparagus on Feb 22, 2015 - 21 comments

Deeper Ties to Corporate Cash for Doubtful Climate Researcher

For years, politicians wanting to block legislation on climate change have bolstered their arguments by pointing to the work of a handful of scientists who claim that greenhouse gases pose little risk to humanity. [more inside]
posted by standardasparagus on Feb 21, 2015 - 39 comments

Feral Gardens

Danny Cooke’s Postcards from Pripyat, Chernobyl summons a lost history of familiar and alien dreams. The drone-mounted camera glides deliberately through the spaces within and above the empty city. The soundtrack is haunting, or “haunting.” We think of drones moving relentlessly forward: into the hidden terrain of surveillance, into the kill zone, into the future. Yet many of the shots point the lens in reverse, effectively pulling back to show first a figure and only then its surroundings. A diving platform with paint peeled away, then the empty pool. A circular emblem, large and sculptural, then the great apartment block on whose roof it sits, visible for miles. Not all shots follow this rule, and not all are taken by drone, but this is the general approach of Danny Cooke’s Postcards From Pripyat, Chernobyl, a three-minute video from last year. It’s quite beautiful. [more inside]
posted by standardasparagus on Feb 20, 2015 - 9 comments

It’s like living your life as a job interview. Forever.

The End of Black Respectability Politics (SL TPM)
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Feb 20, 2015 - 27 comments

Kanye West vs. white mediocrity

Kanye takes more heat than anyone. Post-Grammys and "SNL" 40, we're finally seeing his critics for what they are. Social media has changed the game a lot in the past six years. There’s a lot of voices–lumped under names like “Black Twitter”–who have begun to consistently speak out to fill in the missing pieces from stories like the Kanye West Saga, to poke holes in pat narratives like “Kanye West is an egotist” or “Kanye West is a maniac.” [more inside]
posted by standardasparagus on Feb 17, 2015 - 229 comments

Inside the Koch Brothers' Toxic Empire

On the day before Danielle Smalley was to leave for college, she and her friend Jason Stone were hanging out in her family's mobile home. Seventeen years old, with long chestnut hair, Danielle began to feel nauseated. "Dad," she said, "we smell gas." It was 3:45 in the afternoon on August 24th, 1996, near Lively, Texas, some 50 miles southeast of Dallas. The Smalleys were too poor to own a telephone. So the teens jumped into her dad's 1964 Chevy pickup to alert the authorities. As they drove away, the truck stalled where the driveway crossed a dry creek bed. Danielle cranked the ignition, and a fireball engulfed the truck. "You see two children burned to death in front of you – you never forget that," Danielle's father, Danny, would later tell reporters. [more inside]
posted by standardasparagus on Feb 16, 2015 - 84 comments

What the Sharing Economy Takes

Uber and Airbnb monetize the desperation of people in the post-crisis economy while sounding generous—and evoke a fantasy of community in an atomized population. [more inside]
posted by standardasparagus on Feb 13, 2015 - 86 comments

John Kitzhaber resigns

Less than 2 days after releasing a statement that he had no intention to resign, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has announced that he will step down on February 18th. Over the last four months, a number of ethical issues have come to light surrounding Kitzhaber's fiancé Cylvia Hayes, culminating in a criminal investigation, currently underway.

Secretary of State Kate Brown will be sworn in as Governor at 10am on the 18th, making her the first out LGBT Governor in the US.

(Kitzhaber previously)
posted by polymath on Feb 13, 2015 - 34 comments

The Color Line Murders

The Equal Justice Initiative has released a report (pdf) on the history of lynchings in the United States, the result of five years of research. The authors compiled an inventory of 3,959 victims of “racial terror lynchings” in 12 Southern states from 1877 to 1950 -- documenting more than 700 additional victims, which places the number of murders more than 20 percent higher than previously reported. "The process is intended... to force people to reckon with the narrative through-line of the country’s vicious racial history, rather than thinking of that history in a short-range, piecemeal way." Map. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Feb 11, 2015 - 58 comments

"Email kept me connected to Floridians" - Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush has published all of the (unredacted) emails he sent and received as Governor.
posted by Going To Maine on Feb 10, 2015 - 99 comments

How YouTube Changed the World

How YouTube changed the world.
posted by chunking express on Feb 10, 2015 - 55 comments

Fiction influences reality: Quincy M.E.'s role in the Orphan Drug Act

How Quincy M.E. Changed American Law and Saved Lives discusses the serendipitous way that a young man's need for medication for Tourette's syndrome came to the attention of a family member of actor Jack Klugman and resulted in the Orphan Drug Act of 1983. (main article by MeFi's own Garius) [more inside]
posted by sciencegeek on Feb 8, 2015 - 16 comments

Women of the Islamic State: A Manifesto

Women of the Islamic State: A manifesto on women by the Al-Khanssaa Brigade is a manifesto by women, for women "that aims to clarify the realities of life and the hallowed existence of women in the Islamic State, in Iraq and in al- Sham, and to refute the rumours that detractors advance against it." [more inside]
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory on Feb 8, 2015 - 57 comments

by A Member of Congress

Confessions of a Congressman: 9 secrets from the Inside
posted by andoatnp on Feb 6, 2015 - 72 comments

Pre-9/11 Ties Haunt Saudis as New Accusations Surface

During the 1980s and ’90s, the historic alliance between the wealthy monarchy of Saudi Arabia and the country’s powerful clerics emerged as the major financier of international jihad, channeling tens of millions of dollars to Muslim fighters in Afghanistan, Bosnia and elsewhere. Among the project’s major patrons was Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, who last month became Saudi Arabia’s king. [more inside]
posted by standardasparagus on Feb 5, 2015 - 40 comments

"Keep it 100!"

The Fearless Comedy of The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore [The Atlantic]
"Wilmore's show seems to be in service of such conversations rather than easy, quick jokes. Not that it isn't consistently funny—but it's finding the humor in dark topics, and finding a way into talking about issues many Americans at home might not be able to broach."
[more inside]
posted by Fizz on Feb 5, 2015 - 34 comments

It's always the dentists.

The Upper Middle Class is Ruining America, by Reihan Salam, for Slate. [more inside]
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man on Feb 4, 2015 - 241 comments

“Rock Hudson Dying of AIDS.”

Buzzfeed reports on Rock Hudson's last days, and the Reagan administration's response.
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Feb 3, 2015 - 57 comments

Chinese Christianity

Religion in China: Cracks in the atheist edifice - "Yang Fenggang of Purdue University, in Indiana, says the Christian church in China has grown by an average of 10% a year since 1980. He reckons that on current trends there will be 250m Christians by around 2030, making China's Christian population the largest in the world. Mr Yang says this speed of growth is similar to that seen in fourth-century Rome just before the conversion of Constantine, which paved the way for Christianity to become the religion of his empire." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Feb 1, 2015 - 47 comments

Canada introduces new "anti-terrorism" powers

Canada's government on Friday introduced its new anti-terror legislation, a sweeping range of measures that would allow suspects to be detained based on less evidence and let CSIS actively interfere with suspects' travel plans and finances. [more inside]
posted by standardasparagus on Jan 31, 2015 - 108 comments

American Dynasty

Congressional Democrats for the past six years have lamented their chilly relationship with President Barack Obama. He doesn’t schmooze enough, they say. He is missing the glad-handing gene that makes politics fun. He just doesn’t get it.

But they are starting to see light at the end of the tunnel: the prospect of a Clinton back in the White House.
posted by four panels on Jan 30, 2015 - 112 comments

Jeb put me through hell

Politico writes about the Terry Schiavo case and how it helps us understand Jeb Bush's mindset.
posted by Lemurrhea on Jan 30, 2015 - 55 comments

SLSJWT

saved by the bell hooks
posted by Miko on Jan 30, 2015 - 40 comments

[GREEN] JOBS FOR ALL

Let Us Face the Future - "All parties pay lip service to the idea of jobs for all. All parties are ready to promise to achieve that end by keeping up the national purchasing power and controlling changes in the national expenditure through Government action. Where agreement ceases is in the degree of control of private industry that is necessary to achieve the desired end. In hard fact, the success of a full employment programme will certainly turn upon the firmness and success with which the Government fits into that programme the investment and development policies of private as well as public industry." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jan 29, 2015 - 10 comments

"This is not Guantanamo Bay"

A San Francisco deputy public defender was handcuffed and arrested at the Hall of Justice after she objected to city police officers questioning her client outside a courtroom, an incident that her office called outrageous and police officials defended as appropriate. [more inside]
posted by standardasparagus on Jan 28, 2015 - 110 comments

The Dream of the '90s? Jon Chait on P.C. 2.0

Today’s political correctness flourishes most consequentially on social media, where it enjoys a frisson of cool and vast new cultural reach. And since social media is also now the milieu that hosts most political debate, the new p.c. has attained an influence over mainstream journalism and commentary beyond that of the old.
posted by batfish on Jan 27, 2015 - 381 comments

'We Are Koch'

Kochs Plan to Spend $900 Million on 2016 Campaign - "an unparalleled effort by coordinated outside groups to shape a presidential election that is already on track to be the most expensive in history... These donors represent the largest concentration of political money outside the party establishment, one that has achieved enormous power in Republican circles in recent years. Now the Kochs' network will embark on its largest drive ever to influence legislation and campaigns across the country, leveraging Republican control of Congress and the party's dominance of state capitols to push for deregulation, tax cuts and smaller government."
posted by kliuless on Jan 27, 2015 - 77 comments

“Let’s ask, in the 21st century, are there limits to free speech?”

UK should consider ban on Mein Kampf, says Scottish Labour MP [The Guardian]
Ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day, Scottish Labour MP Thomas Docherty has written to culture secretary urging a ‘sensitive debate’ on allowing its sale.

posted by Fizz on Jan 26, 2015 - 99 comments

"They all love them some Founding Fathers"

"DES MOINES, IA – Word must have gone out early, either by word of mouth, or by all those social media platforms that conservatives have discovered since 2008, or perhaps by that strange wingnut telepathy only practiced by the true initiates who know all the conjuring words. (People could make Lois Lerner jokes secure in the knowledge that every single person in Iowa who would find them funny was somewhere in the hall.) In any case, the rhetoric at the Iowa Freedom Summit, hosted by Steve King and Citizens United, was startlingly muted. Oh, they hit all the proper notes. Liberty! Constitution! American exceptionalism! And the melodies were consistent; the first few bars were gloomy as they meandered through the many failures of the current administration, many of them largely imaginary, and then the final movement was all sunshine and rainbows and Republican promises of a brighter day. Every speech was like a Requiem Mass that concluded with a rousing chorus of 'Tomorrow.'" Charles P. Pierce of Esquire has some colorful choice words to say about the recent Iowa Freedom Summit.
posted by quiet earth on Jan 25, 2015 - 46 comments

"Mr. President, is you OK? Is you good? 'Cuz I wanted to know."

In addition to posting the State of the Union to Medium before the end of the press embargo, the Obama administration has delivered another sop to the young whippersnappers of today by having the president get interviewed by three stars of YouTube: comedian GloZell, designer Bethany Mota, and vlogbrother Hank Green.

You can watch the interviews, read takes on how they went from Hank Green himself, the WaPo, NPR, and the NYT, and enjoy some grousing from FOX and Bloomberg Politics's response to said grousing.
posted by Going To Maine on Jan 25, 2015 - 22 comments

Dealing with the transition to the information age

BIG and BOT Policy Proposals (transcript) - "Many of our current economic policies originated during times of scarcity. But now, says investor Albert Wenger, we live in an era of 'digital abundance', when creating new products costs virtually nothing. To adapt to the resulting economic upheavals, we won't need just more tech, says Wenger, but some strong policies. Here he explores two: basic income guarantee and the right to be represented by a bot." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jan 23, 2015 - 14 comments

Syriza stretches poll lead as Greek election campaign ends

Greece’s anti-austerity party of the left, Syriza, has stretched its election lead to six points, putting it on course for a historic victory in Sunday’s crucial elections. Barely four weeks after the failure of parliament to elect a president, triggering the ballot, Greece’s fate now lies in the hands of 9.8 million voters. All the polls show, with growing conviction, that victory will go to Syriza. A poll released by GPO for Mega TV late on Thursday gave the far leftists a six-percentage-point lead over Samaras’s centre-right New Democracy, the dominant force in a coalition government that has held power since June 2012. A week earlier, GPO had the lead at four percentage points. [more inside]
posted by standardasparagus on Jan 23, 2015 - 52 comments

I didn't know squirrels could vote!

Drew Curtis, of Fark.Com, is running for Governor of Kentucky.
posted by pjern on Jan 23, 2015 - 42 comments

Tarnished Silver

The New York Times is reporting that Speaker of the New York State Legislature Sheldon Silver has been arrested on federal corruption charges related to income received from a NYC legal firm specializing in real estate. New York has background on the investigation and charges. [more inside]
posted by NoxAeternum on Jan 22, 2015 - 43 comments

Death of Banks

The End of Banking: Money, Credit, and the Digital Revolution - "Unregulated banking with access to government guarantees is an enticing business model. It offers the profits of excessive risk-taking in good times, and allows passing on the inevitable losses to taxpayers in bad times." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jan 21, 2015 - 19 comments

I ran against Rob Ford and suffered the consequences

Young Politician Munira Abukar discusses the sexism and racism she faced as a consequence of running against Rob Ford for a councilor position in Toronto
posted by Conspire on Jan 20, 2015 - 18 comments

People have phenomenal capacity.

"What Obama would say at the State of the Union if he were being brutally honest": They do it because that's how the game works. They do it because the rules are you line up in front of the other team and then you hit them as hard as you can. They do it because, for one side to win, the other has to lose. And they do it because, if they don't do it, they're off the team. Football has no place for conscientious objectors. [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Jan 20, 2015 - 195 comments

You're Not Beautiful

Labour's Shadow Culture Minister Chris Bryant has said the art world must address lack of diversity “I am delighted that Eddie Redmayne won [a Golden Globe for best actor], but we can’t just have a culture dominated by Eddie Redmayne and James Blunt and their ilk,” James Blunt has replied. Bryant has replied in turn. The dog from Downtown barks up.
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Jan 19, 2015 - 55 comments

Feta than ever

The second annual Big Block of Cheese day (previously) will take place on Wednesday, January 21st, using the hashtag #AskTheWH.
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Jan 17, 2015 - 21 comments

Idle vapourings of a mind diseased

Unparliamentary Language in New Zealand [more inside]
posted by Start with Dessert on Jan 16, 2015 - 27 comments

A fox guarding the hen house.

Ted Cruz, Senator from Texas, global warming denier, and (attempted) NASA funding slasher, has been appointed to chair the Senate subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness. In other words, he will be overseeing NASA. [more inside]
posted by brundlefly on Jan 12, 2015 - 112 comments

East of Palo Alto’s Eden

A history of East Palo Alto (SLTechCrunch) "a story of how two neighboring communities [Palo Alto and EPA] followed entirely different trajectories in post-war California — one of enormous wealth and power, and the other of resilience amid deprivation"
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles on Jan 10, 2015 - 19 comments

what's in a name?

"For any given profession, it turns out that there are certain names that appear more often in that profession than in the general population. Here's a chart with 6 of the names that are the most disproportionately common in 37 professions." [more inside]
posted by flex on Jan 7, 2015 - 111 comments

Don't be scary

Republicans in state governments plan juggernaut of conservative legislation - "Enjoying a majority of unprecedented breadth, Republicans plan a new tide of conservative initiatives targeting the Common Core, abortion, income taxes, labor unions and the EPA." (via) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jan 6, 2015 - 147 comments

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