"I came here to drink milk and kick ass. And I've just finished my milk." - Moss, The IT Crowd

Link Dump

A place for posting all the other interesting links that I don't have time to write about.

April 1, 2011

This mob attack on a U.N. mission in Afghanistan is very, very sad and senseless. It's easy to blame that idiot pastor in Florida whose Koran burning was used to incite the mob violence, but ultimately the responsibility for violence has to rest with the people committing it. Blaming this violence on the pastor in Florida is the same kind of thinking engaged in by the mob members blaming U.N. staff for the Florida pastor's actions.

A fascinating story in the New Yorker about a high-profile murder mystery in Guatemala.

March 24, 2011

Has this county been working with RIAA lawyers? They seem to think along the same lines.

I love this Science t-shirt. I may have to buy one.

March 14, 2011

The American public has fallen for the "look, it's a bird, it's a plane, it's Al Qaeda!" line so many times that Qaddafi figures he might as well trot out this old chestnut. Hey, it's one of the reasons Mubarak was able to stay in power so long!

You know what's always a great excuse for curtailing civil liberties? Thwarting undercover PETA investigators! I love it when a lawyer comes right out and says, "just flat-out unconstitutional, not to mention stupid."

Also, I hate time changes. We need to pick one time and stick with it. This is one area where Arizona has the right idea.

The Economist's interactive index of unrest in the Middle East. Interesting widget that allows you to apply different weightings to different factors (e.g., level of corruption, percentage of population under 25, etc.).

There is a worldwide network set up to monitor atmospheric level of radionuclides, but they're not allowed to tell the public what they find. In light of recent events, sounds like time to remedy this.

Opinion piece in the New Yorker discusses Netanyahu's intransigeance on the so-called peace process.

RatCAP! (I rediscovered the Nature.com website today, and there's just so much interesting stuff on here.)

For those of you interested in chronic fatigue syndrome, here's a good article in Nature discussing the XMRV controversy.

The Saudi government has a long history of repressing dissent with an iron hand; so now that Bahrain is calling them in, we can probably expect to see to see a lot more protesters die or be disappeared. One of the best reasons to curb our national addiction to Saudi oil.

University of Chicago Law School introduces a new program to forgive law school debt for graduates who practice public interest law for at least 10 years. Way to go, U of C!

Abuse of developmentally disabled people in group homes in New York state. Sad, but hardly shocking. We are unwilling to pay for adequate staffing, skilled workers, or meaningful oversight when it comes to caring for the most vulnerable members of our society. How can anyone wonder why many women choose abortion when they discover they are carrying a child with Down Syndrome? Could you handling knowing that this is what your child might face after his or her parents die?

March 13, 2011

I'm an agnostic, in part because of natural disasters like this one: but, if there are any higher powers, please let them have some mercy on Japan.

As someone who has suffered with severe chronic fatigue, I don't think most patient advocates are impatient with the speed of basic research so much as they are impatient with lack of evidence for a specific physical cause being interpreted as evidence that a physical cause does not exist.

Civil unions in Hawaii. I still think it's important to dignify all government recognition of legally binding intimate partnerships with the same term (be it marriage or civil union), but this is still a good start. I hope I live long enough to see such legislation in Texas. (Yes, I hope to live to be REALLY old.)

Manufacturing hammered by the disaster in Japan. The hits just keep on coming.

Insightful comment on Techdirt about the importance of stable public domain IP.

Well, this takes carjacking to a whole new level.

The purpose of a democracy is to allow the governed to exercise control over the policies of their government. Why, then, do so many people seem to think that democratic reforms in Arab countries will lead to their policies being more closely aligned with U.S. interests? The common people of many of these countries have been negatively affected by U.S. foreign policy for years, and have good reasons for not wanting their countries to be U.S. client states. Lamis Andoni has a good analysis of this blind spot on Al Jazeera. (To be clear: I believe firmly that democracy something in which the citizens of all countries should have the opportunity to participate. But if a foreign government is truly a democracy, Americans can't expect it to simply rubber-stamp whatever policy would be most favorable to American interests at the time.)

Thoughtful analysis of the relationship between the Eurozone and the rest of the EU, and what it means for Britain. (As someone who thinks that the euro as a unified currency was too much far too soon, I found this very interesting.)

March 12, 2011

Using corn-based ethanol to fuel automobiles is a terrible idea. Here's a good synopsis of the reasons why.

An interesting take on how journalists and bloggers see one another.

Battling sexism is a long uphill slog, and it never quite seems to end. Having a revolution doesn't make it go away either. (Thanks to @sputnika for the link.)

Good reminder about the problems in Cote d'Ivoire.

Oh, look, we DON'T actually have good data on the radiation emitted by the backscatter X-ray type of pornoscanners. But don't worry, Janet Napolitano assures us the machines are "more than safe." (As one of the commenters asks, "Does it cure diabetes too?")

Apparently the desire to travel freely without being subject to abusive and unreasonable search procedures is one of the few things Texas Republicans and Texas Democrats can come together on.

If you live in Central Texas, DON'T PLANT LIGUSTRUM. Just say no.

The governor of Michigan will supposedly soon have power to declare a financial emergency in towns or school districts and then appoint a local manager with far-reaching powers. I don't know enough about this yet to join in the speculation about the motivations behind this bill, but I don't see how the powers granted under the bill can possibly be constitutional under the Constitution of MichiganHere's a link to the bill itself. I thought the Republicans positioned their party as a champion of decentralized local government...?

The American Legislative Exchange Council: Bringing legislation for the plutocracy to a state near you.

The problem with spending surpluses on tax breaks.

Child labor: Not just for third-world countries anymore? (I have mixed feelings about this one, because I think paid work can be good for kids. Unfortunately, making such opportunities available without opening the door to widespread exploitation is difficult.)

Presunto Culpable - a wrenching documentary about the sorry state of Mexico's criminal "justice" system. You need to see this, especially if you have friends and/or relatives in Mexico.

Leeks, potatoes, and Gruyere. Yum.

BitTorrent, porn, and a divorce attorney. An entertaining IP case, but not in the way you'd think.

100th anniversary of L. Ron Hubbard's birth. May he and Scientology receive all the respect they deserve.

Avanos Hair Museum. It's...odd.

If you enjoy a good mystery, you should read about the Vidocq Society.

I generally don't want to link to news about specific crimes unless they're related to organized or state-sponsored crime; while they're tragic for the individuals involved, they're too often used to distract public attention from news that politicians and corporations would rather bury. Occasionally, however, a particular crime and the reporting on it has broader social significance, and I'm coming to believe that about the gang rape of an 11-year-old girl that happened in Cleveland, Texas, and was uncovered due to video evidence recorded by the perpetrators. Part of what makes this case worthy of national scrutiny is the tone of the reporting on the case (notably, in the New York Times) and the reactions in the community where the crime occurred. Poynter.org does a very good job of discussing the issues. If you can cope with reading it, the Houston Chronicle has the best reporting I've seen about the facts of this case.

A perspective on adoption that rarely gets heard.