Monday, July 29, 2013

A Needle in a Needlestack | Slog:

The planes did hit the towers. It wasn't the military, the NSA, the president, the congress, the air marshals that stopped the attack. It was a random collection of ordinary Americans, the passengers on United 93, who reacted properly, and brought the attack to an end—at the cost of their lives. The bombs did go off at the marathon, but it wasn't the comically militarized police in Boston who brought the post-Marathon bombing terror to an end. (To the contrary, the ridiculous shutdown of a major US city, and the inept chase after two teenagers added to the terror.) No, it was again a random collection of Americans, volunteers, paramedics, doctors who ran towards the blast, at risk of their own life and limb, to save others, who ended the terror.

I'll take the American attitude, and put my faith in my fellow citizens to deal with the inevitable (the next terror attack, the next earthquake).

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Tragic Drama of Anthony Weiner - Garance Franke-Ruta - The Atlantic:

But on the ground, that's not what the contest is about. It is about privatization. It is about the poor. Ending stop and frisk. Unemployment, especially among the city's substantial black and Hispanic population. It's about what deBlasio had called "a tale of two cities." It's about the fact that New York City, after nearly 10 years of Republican (and independent) rule, is ready for a Democrat. Hungry for a Democrat. The extra final term of the Bloomberg administration has made some in the wealthier precincts of the city wish he could be appointed mayor for life. But to many others in the other New York, it has felt like democracy has been on hold for the last four years, stopped up like a rusty municipal-housing pipe. Nearly three-quarters of New Yorkers regret allowing him that final term.

The most interesting question about Anthony Weiner is not about the nature of his ego, or even his recent online sexual adventures, but what New Yorkers saw in him to begin with. Because they saw something.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

In Defense of Carlos Danger | The Nation:

But let’s just run a counterfactual. What if Anthony Weiner had never denied sexting, had never lied about it and had never promised to stop doing it? What if he had simply asserted that what he does with his penis and cellphone are between him, his wife and his online companions? No American politician has really had the courage to make such a forthright sexual declaration, and so we don’t know the answer to a question that will only become more pressing with time: should the mere existence of an X-rated selfie disqualify one from public office? I suspect it would, because American culture still has a vicious puritanical streak, because we confuse sexlessness and monogamy with public virtue and dignity, because we don’t really have any idea what privacy means. So yes, of course Anthony Weiner lied about Carlos Danger—of course he did. The script had already been written, and underneath the bad calls and broken promises that make up this farce of a morality play there is another lesson: if you have sex outside the box, don’t even think about public service.

Yes, Anthony Weiner is a weasel, a liar, a moron and a ridiculous egomaniac. Yes, he is unfit to hold public office. It doesn’t take a picture of his junk to prove that.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Jon Ronson on This American Life at 500 | Hazlitt | Random House of Canada:

Do you have a favourite episode?

I really like the Mike Daisey episodes. [In the first episode, Daisey visits an Apple computers factory in China to uncover appalling conditions. After his reporting is revealed to be fraudulent, TAL followed up with a show where they confront Daisey about his fabrications.] I’m sure Ira won’t like me for saying it. Both the original one and the redacted one—I think both of those were incredibly strong.

Those are so strong, especially the second one, because you hear Daisey working through what he did out loud. You hear him trying to sort it out.

I thought he was kind of brilliant. Ira did what he had to do. He had to protect the show, so he did that. But he wasn’t any crueler or harder than he had to be. He didn’t take it too far, you know? Daisey said they had different worldviews, and Ira said, “well, I have a normal worldview.” I just love that line. And the fact that Mike Daisey says he contributed to two of This American Life’s most interesting shows is really funny. I’m glad that he came out of it without his life in tatters. To me it’s kind of perfect. The show stayed clean, it didn’t hurt them, which is about how Ira played it. But also, Mike Daisey has carried on having a career. I think that’s kind of wonderful.

I think it’s only the Apple corporation that’s not happy. But otherwise…

It turned out fine for everyone!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

BOMBLOG: Erin Markey by Katherine Cooper:

Katherine Cooper I feel like misquoting people is really yucky.

Erin Markey It is. Having been misquoted many times.

KC Really?

EM Some dude in Philadelphia from their gay paper just interviewed me and Dan Fishback and Max Steele for a reading we were doing and misquoted me like three times—about comedy actually.

KC Really?

EM He asked me to describe my work and you know it’s always a hard time for anyone—

KC Yeah.

EM I said that my comedy was absurdist and sometimes dark and he wrote that it was “obscure and sometimes dark,” as if I had said that—

KC —Right.

EM It was really not doing me any favors but luckily it was just a small paper. And then he misspelled my name like four different ways, four different times.

KC Oh no.

EM It’s like he started to write my last name and then sat on the key board and then finished my last name.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Eliot Spitzer Is Nothing Like Anthony Weiner:

Spitzer was, as New York State Attorney General, a terrifying and fascinating figure. He had learned from his legendary former boss Robert Morgenthau that under-resourced public prosecutors can’t beat deep-pocketed law firms on a level playing field, and that where banks and wealthy defendants may have time and money on their side, prosecutors can use the press to erase at least the first advantage. He leaked shamelessly, and even as he denied leaking, playing extremely high-stakes games with the stock prices of major corporations. He understood the power of fear and the innate conservatism of corporate executives, and persuaded much of New York City’s financial elite that he was actually out of his mind — an incredibly valuable perception in high-stakes negotiations.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Lockdown –

That world formed the web’s foundations — without that world to build on, Google, Facebook, and Twitter couldn’t exist. But they’ve now grown so large that everything from that web-native world is now a threat to them, and they want to shut it down. “Sunset” it. “Clean it up.” “Retire” it. Get it out of the way so they can get even bigger and build even bigger proprietary barriers to anyone trying to claim their territory.

Well, fuck them, and fuck that.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Unbuilt Robert Moses Highway Maps | vanshnookenraggen:

A map, after all, is a representation of reality with certain things omitted (or in this case, added). As mapping software becomes even more ubiquitous now that they are in the palm of our hands (Blackberrys, iPhones, etc), I think it will become all too easy for people to just accept what they see as reality. This is a dangerous prospect but one I think can be taken advantage of when trying to communicate certain information, such as what a neighborhood you know pretty well would look like with an elevated highway slammed through it. This was true for me, at least, while I was making these; Hand erasing buildings through SoHo, TriBeCa, and the LES was an eery experience as I tried to imagine what these places would really look like if my brush was a bulldozer.

And thus I began to understand the failing of Robert Moses (well, this one anyway). He didn’t drive and lord knows he didn’t think much of these areas which he tossed off as “slums”. There is a famous image of a young Moses standing in front of a map of the entire city (to the left).

What you need to be aware of when you are looking at a map is how it lies to you; it is a seductress. You think because it represents reality you can better understand reality, which is true only to a point. But when combined with the power and ambition of Robert Moses the maps seduction warped him and let him think that a line across the map represented far less chaos and destruction than he perceived. Adjusting lines on a map is easy and because a map is a visual design adjusting lines seems like a good way to clean up the map. But the lines on a map hide the fact that they represent something real, a street that needs to be moved, houses that need to be knocked down, families and businesses that need to be kicked out. I’m not saying that Moses wasn’t aware of these things, in fact he was keenly aware. But it was so easy and sexy to clean up the map that he was willing to do whatever it took to draw his maps to be permanent.

The Washington Post Is a Bitter, Jealous Little Newspaper:

The Washington Post, the pre-Politico newsletter of choice for The Political Establishment, has the worst opinion section in America. Today, they once again prove why: the paper, which helped to break the NSA Prism spying story, editorializes that the U.S. government must stop Edward Snowden from leaking any more of that awful news.

Presumably so that Washington Post reporters cannot cover it? The editorial board of the Washington Post—a newspaper with some of the best national security reporters in America, a newspaper approached directly by Edward Snowden— is practically praying for Edward Snowden to be muzzled, so that no more of those news stories might be leaked to papers like, you know, the Washington Post. "How to Keep Edward Snowden From Leaking More NSA Secrets," is the editorial's headline. ("...To Us" is only implied.)

At least we know that the Washington Post's terrible editorial board is fully independent from its shrinking newsroom!

Monday, July 01, 2013

Misinformation on classified NSA programs includes statements by senior U.S. officials - The Washington Post:

The same day Litt spoke, the NSA quietly removed from its Web site a fact sheet about its collection activities because it contained inaccuracies discovered by lawmakers.

A week earlier, President Obama, in a television interview, asserted that oversight of the surveillance programs was “transparent” because of the involvement of a special court, even though that court’s sessions and decisions are sealed from the public. “It is transparent,” Obama said of the oversight process. “That’s why we set up the FISA court.”

A remark by Litt’s boss, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., has perhaps drawn the most attention. Asked during a congressional hearing in March whether the NSA collected data on millions of Americans, Clapper replied, “No, sir.”