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The Cyber-Ombudsman

TruthTeller is an ambitious new automated application built by the Washington Post, which fact checks political speeches, ads and interviews "in as close to real time as possible." The prototype is intended to be a complement to the paper's Fact Checker Blog. More on the project from TechCrunch and Poynter.
posted by zarq on Jan 29, 2013 - 13 comments

Abortion in America

The Geography of Abortion Access - Forty years ago Tuesday, the Supreme Court ushered in legal abortion for American women when it decided in Roe v. Wade. Today, states—particularly in the South and Midwest—are eroding that right by legislating hundreds of provisions intended to impede access with burdensome obstacles. To understand more fully the complex state of access to abortion services in America, The Daily Beast identified and confirmed the location of the country’s remaining 724 clinics and calculated the distance from every part of the country to its closest clinic. (more)
posted by Artw on Jan 24, 2013 - 26 comments

Now all they need is a replica of "The Wire"

"Almost a decade since the end of the hit American TV series Friends, the show — and, in particular, the fictitious Central Perk cafe, where much of the action took place — is enjoying an afterlife in China's capital, Beijing. Here, the show that chronicled the exploits of New York City pals Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe and Joey is almost seen as a lifestyle guide."
posted by vidur on Jan 23, 2013 - 37 comments

the impossible vocabulary of sorrow

Richard Blanco, a poet, teacher, and engineer, was chosen to be the nation's fifth inaugural poet. He is the author of the collections of poetry "City of a Hundred Fires," "Directions to the Beach of the Dead," "Place of Mind," and "Looking for the Gulf Motel." He is the first immigrant, first Latino, the first openly gay person and the youngest to be the U.S. inaugural poet. The poem he read was "One Today" (full text/analysis)
posted by Potomac Avenue on Jan 22, 2013 - 28 comments

There's a lot of bullshit coming from America

"Of the top 100 Swiss companies, 49 give shareholders a consulting vote on the pay of executives. A few other countries, including the United States and Germany, have introduced advisory "say on pay" votes in response to the anger over inequality and corporate excess that drove the Occupy Wall Street movement. Britain is also planning to implement rules in late 2013 that will give shareholders a binding vote on pay and "exit payments" at least every three years. Minder's initiative goes further, forcing all listed companies to have binding votes on compensation for company managers and directors, and ban golden handshakes and parachutes. It would also ban bonus payments to managers if their companies are taken over, and impose severe penalties — including possible jail sentences and fines — for breaches of these new rules."
posted by vidur on Jan 21, 2013 - 32 comments

Don't sing along at work

My Dick's Double Full​-​Length Release is an album of modified covers, with hits from the 70s-90s. Includes songs like Dancing In My Dick, Fields of Dick, Do They Know It's My Dick?, Baker Dick, and (my favourite) Orinoco Dick. Interview with the band. (possibly NSFW)
posted by rollick on Jan 16, 2013 - 37 comments

%-| The difference between us and them

The Depressive and the Psychopath, an article about mental state of the killers responsible for the Columbine high school massacre of 1999.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Jan 10, 2013 - 76 comments

The British and their bizarre view of American

The British and their bizarre view of American. "So, while from afar America may seem, to the Briton, a bewildering and Brobdingnagian phenomenon, close up and personal, the Americans themselves take on the more familiar Lilliputian lineaments of his own countrymen and women." Will Self takes a look at the ambivalent relationship the British has with the USA.
posted by zoo on Jan 6, 2013 - 125 comments

"If you account for my access to academic journal subscriptions, my salary is really like half a million dollars."

This past Thursday, Forbes Magazine published a pair of articles: The Most Stressful Jobs of 2013 and The Least Stressful Jobs of 2013, the latter of which began with the sentence: "University professors have a lot less stress than most of us." 300+ outraged comments (and thousands of sarcastic #RealForbesProfessor tweets,) later they've added a retraction, and linked to a blog post that takes A Real Look at Being a Professor in the US. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jan 5, 2013 - 68 comments

Can you find your dot?

Census Dotmap is the visual representation of all persons counted in the 2010 US and 2011 Canadian censuses (via).
posted by hat_eater on Jan 5, 2013 - 22 comments

Persistence prays

Chagos Islanders Lose the European Court Battle but the Struggle Continues Former residents of the Chagos Islands have lost their latest legal bid for the right to return following a European ruling. What next for the islanders? James Wan recaps the decades long struggle and the implications of the latest ruling on the fate of the former residents of Diego Garcia. Previously in 2002, 2003 2006 and some archives.
posted by infini on Jan 5, 2013 - 32 comments

Wonky graphs of 2012

2012: The year in graphs - as picked by the Washington Post Wonkblog's favorite economists, political scientist, politicians and other wonkys.
posted by Artw on Dec 28, 2012 - 17 comments

It's the end of the world and they know it

The most-watched show in the history of the National Geographic Channel isn't Wild, Taboo or even the longest-running documentary series on cable tv: Explorer. It's Doomsday Preppers, a show that documents the "lives of otherwise ordinary Americans" as they prepare for the end of the world. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Dec 21, 2012 - 115 comments

Nonvoters in America

In 2012, 40 percent of Americans didn’t vote. The research on this website is an attempt to determine why so many citizens opt out of this fundamental civic duty, using extensive survey research as well as interviews with nonvoters to give a voice to those who are often ignored or marginalized by politicians and the news media. [via this phys.org article that provides a nice summary]
posted by cthuljew on Dec 18, 2012 - 63 comments

Not because it was easy, but because it was hard

Apollo 40 years on: how the moon missions changed the world for ever
posted by Artw on Dec 17, 2012 - 28 comments

Maybe somewhere down the line Congress will relieve the people in your position.......

Life Without Parole: Four Inmates' Stories
posted by lalochezia on Dec 13, 2012 - 26 comments

Honey, I Shrunk the Tariff

"Honey laundering is a complex exercise that involves several players in the honey chain from apiary to wholesaler to retailer. In the case against ALW, evidence was presented to show the use of fake country-of-origin documents for shipments, replacement of labels on Chinese containers with fraudulent ones, switching of honey containers in a third country, and even the blending of Chinese honey with glucose syrup or honey from another country."
posted by vidur on Dec 6, 2012 - 37 comments

Thankfully, No Names

Simulating US Births/Deaths in Real-Time - a D3 Visualization
posted by blue_beetle on Dec 6, 2012 - 26 comments

Coming Home to Roost: Domestic Drones (U.S)

"When most Americans think of surveillance drones, it conjures up an image of a Predator drone in a far-off land unleashing a missile against a terrorist suspect. The last thing they think of is a flying surveillance vehicle over their own city. But an increasing number of federal, state, county and municipal police departments are purchasing drone surveillance vehicles of one sort or another to watch Americans. And a few have even discussed arming the drones." - Drones over America. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) wants to more than double its fleet of Predator drones for surveillance missions inside the United States. Despite Problems, there is a push to expand domestic use. Much of that push comes from a "powerful" lobbying group that most Americans have never heard of: the Unmanned Systems Caucus. Drone Makers Push Congress to Move Up Domestic Deployment Date (follow the money). More? ACLU blog posts related to domestic drones. Here is a Map of Domestic Drone Authorizations, last updated in April. Insiders assure You have nothing to worry about, but a little remarked-upon court decision may bring the domestic drone age one flight closer to your doorstep. (previously)
posted by spock on Dec 3, 2012 - 72 comments

Fiscal-Cliff-Diving

There's been a lot of talk in the US media about the "Fiscal Cliff" and the "Grand Bargain" What are they?
The "fiscal cliff" is a confluence of three legal changes taking effect Jan. 1: the expiration of a payroll-tax cut, the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts, and the advent of mandatory spending cuts known as "sequestration."
Fiscal Cliff 101: 5 Basic Questions Answered. What's Happening: Fiscal Cliff Explained [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Dec 1, 2012 - 214 comments

Pick your plot, worry about the details later.

As Americans, we pick a place to live and then figure out how to get where we need to go. If no way exists, we build it. Roads, arterials, highways, Interstates, and so on. Flexible and distributed transportation networks are really the only solution compatible with that way of thinking. Trains, which rely on a strong central network, never had a chance. We were destined for the automobile all the way back in 1787, when we first decided to carve up the countryside into tidy squares.
Town, Section, Range, and the Transportation Psychology of a Nation [more inside]
posted by davidjmcgee on Nov 30, 2012 - 20 comments

The New York Times - Complaints Aside, Most Face Lower Tax Burden Than in 1980

The New York Times examines how American taxes have changed since 1980
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 on Nov 30, 2012 - 105 comments

Now the drugs don't work, they just make you worse

Rapid Growth Seen in Addiction to Painkillers The escalating use and abuse of powerful painkillers can be found in rich societies from the UK, across Europe to the antipodes. But the country that really knows all about prescription pill excess, and the human toll it claims, is the US. Americans make up less than 5% of the global population but consume 80% of the world's supply of opioid prescription pills. [more inside]
posted by modernnomad on Nov 28, 2012 - 63 comments

Deepwater Horizon, 2 years later

Earlier this month, British Petroleum agreed to plead guilty to 14 violations of law, including negligence causing death and the Clean Water Act. [more inside]
posted by Lemurrhea on Nov 28, 2012 - 59 comments

Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!

Via io9: "The first nine Superman cartoons produced by Fleischer Studios from 1941 to 1942 are a wonder of animated retrofuturism, giving us a peek into a world that not only had a flying superstrong protector, but also filled viewers' heads with dreams of autonomous robots, comet-controlling telescopes, and machines that could shake the Earth. These films are in the public domain and have been available on the Internet Archive," but now Warner Bros. is releasing them (remastered) on YouTube. The first short, "Superman" (also known as "The Mad Scientist,") was nominated for an Academy Award. Also see: The Super Guide to the Fleischer Superman Cartoons. Find links to all nine episodes and more inside. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Nov 25, 2012 - 28 comments

THR & The Blacklist

After 65 Years The Hollywood Reporter addresses its role in the hollywood blacklist, including an apology from W.R. Wilkerson III, son of THR founder Billy Wilkerson whose "A Vote For Joe Stalin" editorial named writers such as Dalton Trumbo, Lester Cole, Howard Koch and John Howard Lawson as communist sympathisers.
posted by Artw on Nov 21, 2012 - 8 comments

social impact bonds

Are Social Impact Bonds a good way to invest in public services? "Imagine a contract where private investors are paid by the government if there's a decrease in homelessness or convicts re-offending. It's a an idea that's taking shape in the UK and some US states. And now the Canadian government is considering piloting social impact bonds. Critics say it's a way of governments shirking their responsibilities." CBC's "The Current" reports. [more inside]
posted by flex on Nov 20, 2012 - 29 comments

Niza Yanay - the ideology of hatred: the psychic power of discourse

"The Ideology of Hatred": An interview with Niza Yanay - "Once we understand how hatred operates as an apparatus of power relations, and particularly how the discourse of hatred is motivated and mobilised in national conflicts, serious questions about misrecognition, veiled desires and symptomatic expressions arise. These questions have, to a large extent, been left unaddressed in studies of hatred between groups in conflict." [more inside]
posted by flex on Nov 15, 2012 - 13 comments

Is America ready for a white, male Secretary of State?

Erin Gloria Ryan asks: Is America ready for a white, male Secretary of State? She's not the only one satirically contemplating this question - John Norris over at Foreign Policy magazine has also wondered: Is America ready for a male Secretary of State? [more inside]
posted by flex on Nov 13, 2012 - 46 comments

They deserve better

The poor in America: In need of help Some 15% of Americans (around 46.2m people) live below the poverty line, as Ms Hamilton does. You have to go back to the early 1960s—before Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programmes—to find a significantly higher rate. Many more, like Ms Dunham, have incomes above the poverty line but nevertheless cannot meet their families’ basic monthly needs, and there are signs that their number is growing. Once upon a time the fates of these people weighed heavily on American politicians. Ronald Reagan boasted about helping the poor by freeing them from having to pay federal income tax. Jack Kemp, Bob Dole’s running-mate in 1996, sought to spearhead a “new war on poverty.” George W. Bush called “deep, persistent poverty…unworthy of our nation’s promise”. No longer. Budgets are tight and the safety net is expensive. Mitt Romney famously said he was not “concerned about the very poor” because they have a safety net to take care of them. Mr Obama’s second-term plan mentioned poverty once, and on the trail he spoke gingerly of “those aspiring to the middle class”. “Poor” is a four-letter word.
posted by infini on Nov 8, 2012 - 23 comments

The Nation That Stereotypes Together, Stays Together.

50 State Stereotypes (in 2 minutes)
posted by The Whelk on Nov 7, 2012 - 84 comments

An extraordinary coincidence?

And think about it for a second: this is bizarre. If Americans are in fact divided between two extremely different political ideologies, it would be an extraordinary coincidence if each of those philosophies were to hold the allegiance of nearly equal blocs of support. [more inside]
posted by memebake on Nov 7, 2012 - 206 comments

Voter ID - Jay Bookman - The Atlanta Journal Constitution

Beautiful Georgia, my adopted state as I finish life’s journey ... my last year ever to vote in a presidential election. I wanted to feel part of this great privilege, wanted to again walk out of my precinct tapping my Georgia Peach voter sticker. Even if the day were dark, gloomy and cold, the sun would be shining. One Georgia nonagenarian's quest for voter ID
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 on Nov 3, 2012 - 46 comments

Become a Citizen Election Monitor

My Fair Election crowd-sources pollwatching: "We hope that this information will be used by citizens, journalists, and election officials to identify the worst polling places and work to fix them. We hope that officials in charge of polling places with long lines or otherwise operate poorly will be embarrassed, held to account, and so motivated to do a better job." (via Hollie Russon-Gilman and Archon Fung)
posted by anotherpanacea on Nov 1, 2012 - 21 comments

Not quite sweaters for goalposts

Football's (soccer, that is) ultimate conquest of North America comes a step closer with the sale of English Premier League broadcasting rights to NBC for 250 million dollars. Unlike the Olympics, NBC has indicated that they'll broadcast the games live, to complement their NHL broadcasts. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on Oct 29, 2012 - 65 comments

Oh to live in Florida now that fall is here.

Can the company fire you for the way you vote? When workers are forced to go to rallies in communist countries, we call that Stalinism. Here, we call it the free market. Featuring David Siegel, CEO of Florida's Westgate Resorts; and Florida-based ASG Software CEO Arthur Allen.
posted by adamvasco on Oct 27, 2012 - 62 comments

"When the lights go out for good, my people will still be here. We have our ancient ways. We will remain."

In the Shadow of Wounded Knee. Along the southwestern border of South Dakota is one of the most poverty-stricken places in the United States—the Pine Ridge Reservation, home of the Oglala Lakota people. After 150 years of broken promises, they are still nurturing their tribal customs, language and beliefs. Via [more inside]
posted by zarq on Oct 25, 2012 - 32 comments

Wet your whistle on these

What ho, dearest cousins in the Western Colonies. You appear to be increasingly using the vernacular of the mother country. Splendid! [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on Oct 17, 2012 - 180 comments

The Buck Stops Here

The American Presidency Project is a comprehensive archive of more than 100,000 documents related to the study of the United States' Commander-in-Chief, including transcripts of debates, public papers, state of the union addresses, White House Press Briefings, party platforms and election returns, as well as audio and video recordings. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Oct 12, 2012 - 4 comments

"To most Americans, there is something inexplicably foreign about cricket"

Wickets and Wonders: Cricket’s Rich Literary Vein - a meditation on the literary history of cricket, and a few of the more well-known books surrounding gigaioggie.
posted by Wordshore on Oct 11, 2012 - 14 comments

Why Obama Now

Why Obama Now - from Simpsons/Family Guy animator Lucas Gray [more inside]
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 on Oct 11, 2012 - 61 comments

Ephemeral New York

Ephemeral New York 'chronicles an ever-changing, constantly reinvented city through photos, newspaper archives, and other scraps and artifacts that have been edged into New York’s collective remainder bin.' [more inside]
posted by zarq on Oct 11, 2012 - 5 comments

United States of Clusterfuck

What if the Presidential election is a tie?
posted by desjardins on Oct 10, 2012 - 65 comments

Makers

In February, PBS and AOL launched Makers, a video archive containing personal stories and anecdotes told in the first person by women, many of whom have sparked groundbreaking changes in American culture. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Oct 4, 2012 - 3 comments

Buying useful things, like roads and universities and health care and solar energy and spaceships, should be better stimulus than fighting wars.

"Liberals have not always been very good at communicating why liberalism works. There’s many reasons for this, but part of it is that it can be hard to defend the obvious from an absurd and deceptive attack. For half a century you had to be a crank to oppose what Roosevelt accomplished; liberals got out of the habit of arguing for their beliefs. I hope this page will help. Liberals don’t need to apologize for their vision of how American society should work. Liberalism saved American capitalism and democracy, defeated Naziism, created a prosperous middle class, and benefited every sector of society, from the back streets to Wall Street. " Mefi's own Zompist (previously) on Why Liberalism Works.
posted by The Whelk on Sep 30, 2012 - 109 comments

Medicine Wheel / Wagon Wheel

In 2005, Steven Spielberg and Dreamworks produced a 6 episode miniseries that spanned the period of expansion of the United States into the American West, from 1825 to 1890. Through fictional and historical characters, the series used two primary symbols--the wagon wheel and the Lakota medicine wheel -- to join the story of two families: one Native American, one White settlers, as they witnessed many of the 19th century's pivotal historical milestones. The award-winning Into The West can now be seen in its entirety on YouTube. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Sep 20, 2012 - 12 comments

America’s capital is briefly moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania

A Conservative History of the United States - Jack Hitt for New Yorker's Shouts & Murmurs, pieces together America's storied history from quotes by Rick Perry, Dick Armey, Mike Huckabee, Dan Quayle and more.
posted by The Whelk on Sep 19, 2012 - 151 comments

My love is a fever, longing still for that which longer nurseth the disease

"I don't see anything anti-American about not wanting to become an American citizen; it's similar to the fact that I don't know how to swim. I'm not anti-water; it just never mattered that much to me and my life is fine without it." Why I'm Still Not An American, an essay from a British green-card-holder with complex roots and complex feelings.
posted by Phire on Sep 17, 2012 - 65 comments

"Republicans stand the chance of controlling Congress for the rest of the decade if they don't screw it up."

"The Republicans’ dominance in races throughout the country in the 2010 elections eviscerated the Democrats’ farm teams in state after state." Former Bill Clinton political director Doug Sosnik offers an 8-page analysis of the U.S. election that discusses the likelihood of an Obama win, the chances of a complete Republican takeover of Congress, continued Republican dominance of governorships and state legislatures for the rest of the decade, and more. There's also a related slideshow. [more inside]
posted by mediareport on Sep 17, 2012 - 85 comments

Clinton (18)12!

Who would you vote for in historical American presidential elections and why? Jeremy Young writes: I’m making my calculations based on a combination of which candidate I like the most and what I think candidates’ chances are of winning. I’m also not counting strategic voting (voting my conscience for a minor candidate in a state where my vote doesn’t matter). Nor am I considering regional “favorite son” status (i.e., the 1836 election). [more inside]
posted by Cash4Lead on Sep 12, 2012 - 20 comments

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