Jan 31st, 2008 by bookie
Links and News [2008.01.31]
  • US tops world Connectivity Scorecard despite broadband ills

    When it comes to using information technology well, people power is as important as wires, chips, and radio signals. That’s one of the assumptions driving the new Connectivity Scorecard benchmark put together by Leonard Waverman of the London Business School. Waverman found that the US takes the worldwide lead on "connectivity" when measured in this way, but subpar broadband infrastructure holds the country back.

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  • Tipped over: social influence "tipping point" theory debunked

    Clive Thompson has been getting some well-deserved attention for his recent Fast Company piece, in which Columbia University sociologist Duncan Watts explodes the hierarchical theory of social influence and trend propagation popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in the bestselling book The Tipping Point.

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  • AlterNet: The Great Indian Gender Divide

    [B]eneath the spectacular "India Shining" story lurks an area of darkness — the unequal status of its women, who constitute more than half its demographic. The latest official document to highlight this inequity is the 2007 Gender-Gap Index Report by the World Economic Forum (WEF); it places India at the bottom of the global pyramid.

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  • Magistrate judge suggests sanctions against RIAA lawyers

    The RIAA’s habit of roping numerous unrelated defendants into a single "John Doe" lawsuit has drawn the attention of a federal magistrate—and not in a good way. In the case of Arista v. Does 1-27, a lawsuit targeting students at the University of Maine, Magistrate Judge Margaret J. Kravchuk suggests that the court look into imposing Rule 11 sanctions on the RIAA’s legal team.

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  • BBC | US economic growth drops sharply

    The US Department of Commerce says the economy grew at an annual rate of just 0.6% from October to December.

    In the previous three months, between July and September, the economy was growing at annual rate of 4.9%.

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  • Calculated Risk: Homeownership Rate: Cliff Diving

    The homeownership rate has plunged back to the levels of the summer of 2001.

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  • The future is bright: Mozilla revenues up 26 percent, Google deal is gold

    Mozilla published financial statements earlier this week showing that the organization made $66.8 million in revenue for 2006, a 26 percent increase from 2005. That’s some strong growth, and it shows that Mozilla has the potential for long-term fiscal sustainability.

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  • Looking Anew at Campaign Cash and Elected Judges – NYT

    In nearly half of the cases they reviewed, over a 14-year period ended in 2006, a litigant or lawyer had contributed to at least one justice, sometimes recently and sometimes long before. On average, justices voted in favor of their contributors 65 percent of the time, and two of the justices did so 80 percent of the time.

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  • BBC | FBI investigates sub-prime crisis

    The FBI is investigating 14 companies embroiled in the sub-prime mortgage crisis as part of a crackdown on improper lending.

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Jan 31st, 2008 by ravi
Torture vs “our nation’s children”

CNN says:

Video of workers abusing cows raises food safety questions

The video shows Hallmark Meat Packing Co. workers administering repeated electric shocks to downed cows — animals that are too sick, weak or otherwise unable to stand on their own. Workers are seen kicking cows, jabbing them near their eyes, ramming them with a forklift and shooting high-intensity water up their noses in an effort to force them to their feet for slaughter.

Yes, that’s the headline. The primary concern about this sort of abuse of animals is the food safety question. In case that’s not clear, here is Dick Durbin rephrasing it in politician speak:

“The treatment of animals in this video is appalling, but more than that, it raises significant concerns about the safety of the food being served to our nation’s children,” Durbin said.

I think the greatest danger that my child faces is morally-challenged human beings who inflict this sort of pain on animals and those who respond with this order of prioritisation.

[ Link ]

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Jan 29th, 2008 by bookie
Links and News [2008.01.29]
  • Telco immunity stalled: Senate blocks key vote

    The increasingly tangled debate over federal surveillance powers reached a new milestone today when a Republican cloture motion failed to pass after receiving only 48 of the required 60 votes. If the cloture motion had passed, it would have blocked all further attempts to remove controversial telecom immunity provisions from a Senate intelligence committee surveillance bill by forcing an immediate vote on the bill itself.

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  • Are breathalyzers accurate? DWI defendant wants source code

    The "source code defense" has become a popular one, in part because the companies that make the devices are so reluctant to reveal their proprietary code that cases are often dropped instead.

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  • BBC | Chavez calls for anti-US alliance

    The vehemently anti-US leader says Nicaragua, Bolivia, Cuba and Dominica should create one united force.

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  • French rally behind rogue trader as fraud scandal spreads | The Observer

    For Isabelle Mercier, 44, queuing outside a Société Générale branch in Paris, the ‘rich and the powerful’ always find someone to blame: ‘Anyone who is a threat to them is eliminated one way or another.’ Mohammed Benali, a market trader at the nearby Marché d’Aligre, agreed. ‘It is time the bosses and the rich were taken down a peg,’ he said.

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  • Memo Details Objections to Command Center Site – NYT

    The memorandum, which has not been previously disclosed, cited a number of “significant points of vulnerability.” Those included: the building’s public access, the center’s location on the 23rd floor, a 1,200-gallon diesel fuel supply for its generator, a large garage and delivery bays, the building’s history as a terrorist target, and its placement above and adjacent to a Consolidated Edison substation that provided much of the power for Lower Manhattan.

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  • BBC | Banks ‘may need an extra $143bn’

    They say the banks will need extra money if bond insurers, who insure the products at the centre of the sub-prime crisis, lose their top credit ratings.

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  • BBC | Rogue trader scandal broadens out

    Analysts are trying to assess whether the trader’s actions contributed to the stock market turmoil and the Fed decision to cut interest rates.

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  • Next on the Worry List: Shaky Insurers of Bonds – NYT

    Even as stocks ended five days of losses with a surprising recovery on Wednesday, officials began moving to defuse another potential time bomb in the markets: the weakened condition of two large insurance companies that have guaranteed buyers against losses on more than $1 trillion of bonds.

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  • In Matters Big and Small, Crossing Giuliani Had Price – NYT

    In March 2000, an undercover officer killed Patrick Dorismond, a security guard, during a fight when the police mistook him for a drug dealer. The outcry infuriated the mayor, who released Mr. Dorismond’s juvenile record, a document that legally was supposed to remain sealed.

    The victim, Mr. Giuliani opined, was no “altar boy.” Actually, he was.

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  • Massive Fraud in France: Societe Generale Hit By €4.9 Billion Crime – SPIEGEL

    French bank Societe Generale has revealed that it has been hit by one of the biggest alleged cases of fraud in banking history. The bank discovered that fraud by one of its traders had led to losses of €4.9 billion.

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Jan 25th, 2008 by ravi
Shopping spree!

That (the subject of this post) is the New York Times’ characterisation of desperate Palestinians, under a new burst of Israeli terrorism, attempting to obtain basics from Egypt:

Palestinians used a bulldozer to knock down another portion of the wall, originally built by Israel just inside Gaza, to continue their shopping spree.

At this point, I think we can safely take all the Holocaust literature and replace Jews with Palestinians, to obtain the narrative, of future historians and generations, wondering what went wrong… how did we permit such horror?

[ Link ]

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Jan 24th, 2008 by ravi
A flap over the flap of a gene…

If you are in need of animated and grandiose debate, with a good measure of personal attacks thrown in, you are sure to find it in biology writing for a general audience. The latest is an outcome of Olivia Judson’s (biologist and author) resurrection of the “hopeful monster” idea with suitable provocative content to trigger a heated response from Jerry Coyne (major domo in the field). Judson suggests that we can revisit the idea of the “hopeful monster” (that a variation in a single gene can have a sudden and large morphological effect on the evolutionary development of an organism/species). Coyne will have none of it and offers some criticism, along with a fair amount of name dropping and attacks on personalities, an approach that we all now recognise as the “scientific method” ;-). Both articles/posts are interesting and informative reads!

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Jan 24th, 2008 by ravi
Voter frauds

With the backdrop of Obama’s shallow rhetoric about unity and hope, Stanley Fish takes aim at “Independent Voters” with an excellent piece in the NYT:

Against Independent Voters – Stanley Fish

[…]

Floating independently above the fray and inhabiting the marketplace of ideas as if were a shopping bazaar rather than a battlefield is an unnatural condition. The natural condition is to be political. To be political is to believe something, and to believe something is to believe that those who believe something else are wrong, and after all you don’t want people who believe (and would do) the wrong things running your government. So you organize with other like-minded folks and smite the enemy (verbally) hip and thigh. You join a party.

What do independent voters do? Well, most of all, they talk about the virtue of being an independent voter. When they are asked to explain what that means, they say, “I can’t stand the partisan atmosphere that has infected our politics” (forgetting that politics is partisan by definition); or “we like to make up our own minds and don’t want anyone telling us what to do (as if Democrats and Republicans were sheep eager to go over whatever cliff the leadership brings them to) or (and this was a favorite of those interviewed in Iowa and New Hampshire), “We vote the person rather than the party.”

And offers them timely advice:

If you are really interested in the way things should go in the country, come off the high pedestal and join the rest of us in the nurturing (and, yes, dirty) soil of the partisan free-for-all.

Worth multiple reads, even though he ends on a poor note, misidentifying Nader supporters with independents (Nader supporters were and are hard-core partisans and should be proud of that for the very reasons he outlines).

[ Link ]

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Jan 23rd, 2008 by bookie
Links and News [2008.01.23]

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Jan 22nd, 2008 by bookie
Links and News [2008.01.22]

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Jan 18th, 2008 by bookie
Links and News [2008.01.18]

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Jan 16th, 2008 by ravi
Round n+1 of civilisation vs Japan

The Guardian covers (with an evenness impossible to find in US media) the latest edition of high sea drama involving Greenpeace, Sea Shepherd and the “disgrace to civilised society” (in the words of Paul Watson of Sea Shephard) that the Japanese whalers and the government that supports them represent. Read about it: A tale of two ships. Go ahead, click on the link, if only to take a look at the gorgeous picture at the top!

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