Saturday, March 27, 2010

Notes From A Master

David Mamet misses occasionally, but when he's on his game he is the top dog (anyone seen Heist... My guy is so cool when he goes to sleep sheep count him.).

If you like movies, or television for that matter, (and yes I mean good movies and tv) you'll enjoy the memo from Mamet to the writers of the erstwhile tv drama The Unit, for which he was a producer. It's been making the rounds, and it's worth the time. There's a copy up on Moveline.

Better Late Than Never...

That goes for this post and HCR...

(via Buzzfeed, thanks JA)

A Nice Clean Garden

Your herbs will be squeaky clean if they grow from a Pangea Organics wrapper for a bar of soap. That's just one of the green, or eco-friendly, packaging designs taking the cosmetics world by storm.

The NYT has a neat little article in Thursday's Style section on the phenomena, which includes slimming or lightening packaging which just means using a thinner container and corn starch based packaging (just like those new "plastic" forks and spoons), in addition to the plantable wrappers.

Given that you see plenty of natural and organic labels jumping off of the cosmetic and skin care aisle shelves these days, the move to more sustainable packaging isn't surprising. The cynics among us (count me in) may well argue that its just a marketing ploy. While they may have a point, I say who cares why Estee Lauder (who runs 28 cosmetic brands, really?! Does that seem nuts to anyone else?) has a chief environmental officer for corporate packaging, every step towards greater sustainability is a step in the right direction and helps build momentum.

Which is terribly important given that the biggest obstacle in the path of fighting climate change is inertia, folks like things the way they are, change isn't as easy as business as usual...

Monday, March 22, 2010

On Brackets and March

So I didn't do a bracket this year (have I mentioned this already) but Jon Michaud at the New Yorker did, and Kansas did him in...

Friends, Kansans, bracketologists, lend me your ears;
I come to bury the Jayhawks, not to praise them;
The picks that men make live after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones,
So let it be with Kansas…The noble Dickie V.
Hath told you Kansas was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Kansas answered it…
Here, under leave of Dickie V. and the rest,
(For Dickie V. is an honorable man;
So are they all; all honorable men)
Come I to speak at Kansas’s funeral…
They were my pick, unprofitable and disloyal to me:
But Dickie V. says Kansas was ambitious;
And Dickie V. is an honorable man….
He hath brought many winners home to ESPN,
Whose brackets did his coffers fill:
Did this in Kansas seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Kansas hath swept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Dickie V. says Kansas was ambitious;
And Dickie V. is an honorable man.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Read This Now - The Speech You Probably Missed

Well there was a lot of must see tv this weekend, and I missed all of it because it was so nice outside.

If you're like me, or you couldn't bring yourself to watch c-span instead of march madness, James Fallows has a nice recap of the speech President Obama gave to the House Democrats on Saturday...

The real point here is Obama's argument that even if the vote proves politically costly, the ultimate purpose of politics is to win office so as to do important things, rather than to avoid doing anything controversial or important so as to cling endlessly to office.
There are other good tid-bits and queued up video (is that the proper cue / queue? I think that it is) in the actual post.

(sorry I can't remember how I got there)

I Love The Internet: Vol. Something Or Other

I just can't imagine scientific proposals for the indirect surveying of zombies being written without the interwebs...

"How many zombies do you know?" Using indirect
survey methods to measure alien attacks and outbreaks
of the undead

Andrew Gelman George A. Romeroy

12 Mar 2010

The zombie menace has so far been studied only qualitatively or through
the use of mathematical models without empirical content. We propose to use
a new tool in survey research to allow zombies to be studied indirectly without
risk to the interviewers.

Be sure to read the whole paper.

(via MR)

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Century Of Struggle

We might finally get health care reform this weekend...

or watch the whole speech...

If you can't stand to sit on the sidelines (and particularly if your Representative isn't a yes vote) this website from Organizing for America will help you figure out how to make your voice heard.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Is Google Winning The Staring Contest With China?

Somehow I missed this all day long (although maybe that's a sign that it isn't as significant as it looks). Then again, if borne out, the reports that google's China website was returning search results for the Dali Lama and Tienanmen Square Massacre would be very interesting.

If you haven't been following the story, google had some systems hacked a couple of months back that they traced to Chinese based computers and picked a fight with the Chinese government over censorship in retaliation. Google is currently threatening to shut down all of its Chinese operations unless China agrees to allow uncensored searches for google's Chinese users.

Even though google's hegemony is starting to become so powerful and far reaching that it's getting a bit scary, I'm still a fan.

(and I'm not just saying that because they're listening)

This Pisco Is Not Sour

Check out the CSM's photo of the day...

Pilar Olivares/Reuters
Follow the link for the details.

(via a certain special someone)

Read This Now - David Brooks Can't Handle The Truth

We're outsourcing this edition of Can't Handle The Truth to the trustworthy Ezra Klein...

To recap, Brooks argued that reconciliation is being used more frequently, and that past reconciliation bills, like Bush's tax cuts and prescription drug benefit, were significantly bipartisan. Reconciliation is, in fact, being used less frequently, past reconciliation bills like the tax cuts were not significantly bipartisan by any stretch of the imagination, and the prescription drug benefit did not go through reconciliation. Brooks isn't wrong in the sense that "I disagree with him." He's wrong in the sense that the column requires a correction.

Check out the whole thing, you can find a link to the Brooks piece there as well.

As an aside, it's been sad to watch Brooks go from a reasonable conservative back in the day on The News Hour to a party-line, alternate reality, kow-tower during the W administration.

Read This Now - The IPCC Is Fudging The Numbers

Only not how the skeptics want you to think. Stefan Rahmstorf at RealClimate is calling it Sea Level-gate...

First, although the temperature scenarios of IPCC project a maximum warming of 6.4 ºC, the upper limit of sea level rise has been computed for a warming of only 5.2 ºC – which reduced the estimate by about 15 cm. Second, the IPCC chose to compute sea level rise up to the year 2095 rather than 2100 – just to cut off another 5 cm. Worse, the IPCC report shows that over the past 40 years, sea level has in fact risen 50% more than predicted by its models – yet these same models are used uncorrected to predict the future!
This isn't a new problem, serious scientists have been pointing out the issues with the AR4 sea level rise predictions since before the report was published (as Rahmstorf details). A slew of recent papers have used a semi-empirical model based on the strong correlation between global temperature and sea level to show that sea level rise is extremely likely to outpace IPCC predictions.

With nearly 200 million people living at less than 1 meter of elevation and it looking increasingly likely that we'll see at least that much sea level rise in the next century it's long since time to be worried about this.

Attack Ad Targets Karl Rove's New Book

Well this puts the shoe on the other foot quite nicely...


(via EK)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Is This The Illegal Whale Chop Shop?

Probably not the kind of case you dream of getting as a US Attorney, then again it is grabbing some headlines. Regardless of your stance on whales, whaling, Japan, or the Sea Shepherds there are laws in the US against selling or consuming marine mammals.

The feds recently charged the chef and owners of a slightly out there sushi restaurant at the Santa Monica airport with "the illegal sale of a marine mammal product for an unauthorized purpose."

You do have to ask yourself who goes to the airport for illicit whale sashimi? Maybe they chose the location to facilitate getaways...

(via Ahab's Journal)

Read This Now - Health Care Burn

Brad DeLong helps out Jonathan Cohn and sticks it to some health care reform naysayers...

Brooks, Gregory, the Post, and company are opposed to the health care bill not because they think it will not cut costs, but because it was proposed by a Democrat.

Bluefin Ban Update

The EU has gotten on-board with a CITES listing of bluefin tuna as endangered.

This is a pretty big move given the historic Mediterranean fishery and the reluctance of the countries involved in it (mostly Italy and Spain but also Malta) to shut down what remains a lucrative if rapidly disappearing fishery.

Then again the talk has been that many EU countries might back a ban as long as it didn't start for another year or two. Also this doesn't change the fact that Japan seems determined to eat every last bluefin in the ocean.

Health Care Vote Next Week?

Does this website (which I just got to via facebook) mean that there will be votes on health care reform next week?

Only time will tell, but for a proposal that looked pretty dead about a month ago (despite having bills pass both the House and Senate) this would seem to be a pretty significant...

Intransigent Republican party of no, he's talking to you.

In the two minutes you've spent reading this post so far, 16 Americans were denied coverage, charged a higher rate or otherwise discriminated against by health insurance companies.

And yes it's very nice to see the White House swinging into action, on the other hand if they'd been acting this way back in September (or even earlier) we might have gotten somewhere already.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Read This Now - CNN & Wolf Blitzer Are An Embarrasment To Journalism

This is what Glenn Greenwald does best folks. You should check out his (relatively short) scathing take down of CNN and Blitzer's coverage of Liz Cheney's latest effort at fear mongering McCarthyism...

Edward R. Murrow led the media attack on the McCarthyism of the 1950s. Wolf Blitzer plays mindless, amiable, neutral, amplifying host to identical smear campaigns of today. That collapse says all one needs to know about much of modern establishment political journalism in the United States.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Bluefin Ban?

Despite my best efforts it appears as though there are no good videos of bluefin schools (in the wild) that I could embed here for your viewing pleasure. Maybe it's a sign of the times...

Somewhere out there in the ocean, the world's last bluefin tuna may be swimming along minding it's own business.

Meanwhile, fisherman eager for a big payday are out busily catching all the bluefin they can to feed the world's (well mostly Japan's) sushi habit. At the same time conservationists are continuing to advocate for a ban on bluefin. These day's a full scale ban may be the majestic bluefin's last, best hope.

For years the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT, often known as the International Conspiracy to Catch All Tuna) has ignored scientific recommendations in setting catch limits and fisherman have in turn exceed even these modest quotas.

It seems as though, at least on paper, bluefin may finally get some of the protection that they need to rebuild and avoid extinction. has proposed an Appendix I listing of bluefin with the COnvention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which would ban international trade in bluefin.

The US has just announced that it will support the move at the upcoming CITES meeting later in March which is a big step forward. But Japan, by far the world's largest consumer of bluefin, has announced that it will ignore any ban on bluefin, which probably means that a ban won't be successful.

As long as demand exists and a market can be formed, bluefin will be fished. In fact as the amount of bluefin left in the oceans dwindles, its value will rise and it will be hunted ever more aggressively until its all gone.

(this is hot news these days, and Barry Estabrook has written often and well on the subject, this is the post he always points back to)

So That Google Phone Must Be Pretty Good...

Apple has just sued HTC over the Nexus One (aka the Google Phone). The prevailing thought seems to be that Apple is trying to slow down Google's Android phone os. Android, like all things google, will one day just take everything over.

I suppose it might be a good legal delaying tactic, but to the average consumer I think it does more to signal that Apple is scared that the google phone is better than the iphone than anthing else.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

This Too Shall Pass

The song and blog post you'll one day forget. But this kick ass Rube Goldberg machine will be with you always...

That's probably the greatest Rube Goldberg ever, granted they're a band with funding to make it happen not one of the guys who just builds them around the house for fun, but I'm ok with that.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Jim Bunning Hates Americans

Especially unemployed Americans, and anyone who works for the government.

Thanks to Bunning 2,000 federal transportation workers were furloughed (with out pay) this morning and 400,000 unemployed Americans lost their unemployment protections.

While he was in the process of single-handedly firing 2,000 Americans and taking away the help that 400,000 Americans were relying on to make ends meet during these terrible financial times all Bunning cared about was the fact that in order to do the firing, he had to miss his favorite college's basketball game.

Have you no shame sir?

You can add senior citizens to Bunnings American hit list, his petulant actions have caused a 21% cut in medicare fees being paid to doctors that the AMA is calling a "medicare meltdown."

Maybe if Bunning cared even half as much about his constituents and Americans generally as he does about defending his Senators only elevator he would be fit to serve this country.