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Why statistical discrimination is higher than is either socially optimal or Bayesian rational

Let’s say there is only a mild amount of statistical discrimination in a system.  Not prejudice, just a social judgment that some groups are more likely to succeed at some tasks than others.  Most people, for instance, do not expect women to reach the NBA, but I would not from that conclude they are prejudiced.

But now introduce a further assumption.  There are multiple layers of evaluation, and at each layer people, and institutions, wish to be seen as successful talent spotters, mentors, and coaches.  High schools wish to promote students who will get into good colleges.  Colleges wish to invest in students who will get into best grad schools, or get the best jobs.  Firms wish to hire workers who will rise to CEO, even if elsewhere.  And so on.  Let’s say there are ten levels to this “game.”

Each level will apply its own “statistical discrimination” tax, whether intentionally or not.  Say for instance there is (mild) statistical discrimination against women at the CEO level.  Firms that wish to hire and promote future CEOs will be less likely to seek out women to hire, including at lower levels.  This may or may not be conscious bias; for instance the firms may decide to look for certain personality traits that, for whatever reason, are harder to find in women.  They’ll simply be making decisions that give them plaudits as good talent spotters.

Colleges will then consider similar factors in their decisions.  And so will high schools.  And so on.  In equilibrium, all ten levels of the game will levy a partial “statistical discrimination tax,” with or without conscious bias in thee discriminatory direction.

Does this sound familiar?  It is a bit like the double/multiple marginalization dilemma in microeconomics.  The number of discrimination taxes multiplies, at each level.  Just like the medieval barons put too many tolls on the river.  All of a sudden the initially mild statistical discrimination isn’t so mild any more, due to it being applied at so many veto-relevant levels.  (As you will recall from the double marginalization problem, each supplier does not take into account the effect of his/her mark-up or tax on the gains from trade elsewhere in the system.)

So say the “Bayesian rational” level of statistical discrimination is a five percent discount.  You can get far more than that as the actual effective tax on the disadvantaged group, with everyone in the system behaving in a self-interested manner.

And of course these taxes will discourage effort from the disadvantaged groups, to the detriment of efficiency and also justice.

I am indebted to Anecdotal for a useful query related to this discussion.

The post Why statistical discrimination is higher than is either socially optimal or Bayesian rational appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

Source: Marginal REVOLUTION | 16 Aug 2018 | 12:38 am

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Hands-on: iOS 12 beta 7/8 changes and features [Video]

After pulling the 7th iOS 12 beta due to issues with performance, Apple today released the 8th developer beta for iOS 12. In this brief hands-on walkthrough, we cover new changes and features across both betas. more…

Source: 9to5Mac | 16 Aug 2018 | 12:15 am

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Watch this breathtaking GIF of Apple Park’s 3-story lunchroom door opening

This afternoon, Apple CEO Tim Cook took to Twitter regarding updates to the lunchroom at the company’s spaceship headquarters.


Source: 9to5Mac | 16 Aug 2018 | 12:06 am

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Dropping into occupied France by moonlight
16th August 1943: Dropping into occupied France by moonlightThe light opposite me flashed to red and I swung my legs into the hole. In a few seconds I should have jumped again down into that prison of Europe and the Halifax would be turning home for England. One will never forget the tension of that moment as the parachutist listens to the slowing down of the engines to stalling speed and then the light flashes to green and one is through the hole and into the rush of the slipstream, then drifting high over the earth in the peace of the moonlight.

Source: World War II Today | 16 Aug 2018 | 12:00 am

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Auctioneer chanting, “the poetry of capitalism”

Auction Competition 2018

For the New Yorker, photographer David Williams visited the 2018 World Livestock Auctioneer Championship in Bloomington, Wisconsin. Amanda Petrusich wrote about the competition and his photos here.

This year’s champion, Jared Miller, of Leon, Iowa, took home a customized 2018 Chevrolet Silverado truck to drive for his yearlong reign; he also won six thousand dollars, a world-champion belt buckle, a world-champion ring, a money clip, and a bespoke leather briefcase. In interviews, Miller, like many successful auctioneers, appears personable and polite. When he begins his chant, his mouth only opens so much — when you’re talking as fast as he is, the tongue does most of the work — but what comes out sounds something like a undulating yodel, or a less guttural take on the Inuit tradition of throat singing. Once you tune in to its particular rhythms — and it can take a few minutes to acclimate to the crests and swells — the prices become discernible: “One dollar bid, now two, now two, would you give me two?”

You can listen to Miller’s winning chant on Facebook.

I hadn’t realized Werner Herzog made a 45-minute documentary about auctioneers at the same competition in 1976 called How Much Wood Would a Woodchuck Chuck. You can watch the whole thing on YouTube, although the audio isn’t synced that well:

According to the article, Herzog called auctioneering “the last poetry possible, the poetry of capitalism”. This poetry can be difficult to follow, so this auctioneer explained what he and his fellow chanters are saying up on the stand.

Rap music also has a claim on being “the poetry of capitalism” and Graham Heavenrich had the genius idea of layering auctioneer chants over beats; you can listen in on Instagram or with this compilation:

Ok and just for kicks, when I was searching for the auctioneer beats thing on YouTube, I ran across this young woman rapping the entirety of Rap God by Eminem (the part starting at 4:26 = fire). Sign her up for the 2019 World Livestock Auctioneer Championship!

Tags: Amanda Petrusich   David Williams   language   music   photography   remix   video   Werner Herzog

Source: | 15 Aug 2018 | 4:48 pm

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Wednesday assorted links

1. American doctors are too educated.

2. Bloomberg column by me on Trump and ideas.

3. “Academia is a temple of dopamine.”  Link here, by the way I don’t agree with this.  And LambdaSchool.  They teach you skills, and get a small share of your future earnings.

4. My Sept.19 Conversation with Eric Schmidt, in San Francisco, apply for an invite at the link.

5. Lee Ohanian and Hoover have a new blog, California on Your Mind.

6. “Now the Wisconsin Agricultural Tourism Association says Wisconsin has at least 150 “event barns.””  Yet regulation is on the march: “Some wedding websites caution brides to make sure their dream barn venue is safe and won’t be shut down before their big day. There are fears that old barns could collapse under the weight of dancing guests, injuries could be easy (think rusted nails and uneven boards), and fire can spread quickly without proper renovations and safety precautions. They may not be handicapped accessible and may not meet up-to-date building codes.”

The post Wednesday assorted links appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

Source: Marginal REVOLUTION | 15 Aug 2018 | 2:59 pm

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The Origami Simulator

Origami Simulator

This origami simulator built by Amanda Ghassaei is really cool. The simulator lets you explore how different origami patterns are constructed by moving & rotating them around on the screen and folding & unfolding them. You can even import and export your own patterns. (via kelli anderson)

Tags: Amanda Ghassaei   origami

Source: | 15 Aug 2018 | 2:58 pm

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Time to relax as bombers are heard overhead
15th August 1943: Time to relax as bombers are heard overheadAs I lay in bed the other night I heard the Deep Purr of our bombers winging their way to Hamburg... This is a comfortable feeling. I turned lazily in bed and glowed at the thought, going back in my mind to those awful months when to hear that noise overhead was to know the Germans were going to pour death and destruction on us. It meant in those days a readjustment of the mind to the fact that this might be one’s last night on earth — or that by the morning one might be homeless and possessionless.

Source: World War II Today | 15 Aug 2018 | 12:00 am

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The Fifteenth Argument I Had With Victor This week
Me: Every time I cook something in the microwave it smells like burnt popcorn. Victor:  That’s because you burnt popcorn in it. Me:  Yeah, like, a week ago.  It’s like the microwave is holding a grudge.  It wasn’t even my … Continue reading

Source: The Bloggess | 14 Aug 2018 | 10:41 am

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Man Steals Horizon Air Turboprop; Media Gets Hysterical

August 12, 2018

ON FRIDAY NIGHT at Sea-Tac airport in Seattle, a 29 year-old employee of Horizon Air purloined one of the carrier’s Dash-8 Q400 turboprops. Richard Russell, a ground service worker, took the 76-seat aircraft for an hour long joyride before crashing onto an island in the southern end of Puget Sound. Russell was killed.

In the wake of this unfortunate incident, the media is going a little bonkers over the idea of airline employees appropriating aircraft and causing mayhem. “One of the biggest potential perils for commercial air travel,” is how one CBS news story described it. In the same story, Erroll Southers, a transportation security expert, said, “The inside threat is the greatest threat we have to aviation.”

Looking back over the history of air crimes, only a tiny fraction of which have involved rogue airline workers, I’m unsure what prompted Southers to say such a thing. If he’s talking about the potential for non-pilot employees to smuggle drugs or possibly plant explosives, that’s one thing. But stealing airplanes is something else.

The Q400, built by Bombardier of Canada, is a small but highly sophisticated aircraft, and Mr. Russell clearly had some understanding of its systems. He was a member of Horizon’s “tow team,” and was qualified to occupy the captain’s seat while the the aircraft was under tow — a position that requires at least elementary training in the plane’s hydraulic, electrical, and communications systems. I’ve been an airline pilot for over twenty years, and was once captain-qualified on an older Dash-8 model (the Q400 is a modernized variant of the De Havilland Dash-8). If you stuck me in the cockpit of a Q400 today, could I get the engines started? I imagine so, but it would take some time and effort. That Russell got the plane up and running is fairly impressive, and I’m even more startled that he didn’t kill himself — and possibly others too — during takeoff or shortly thereafter. He flew for an hour without stalling or rolling over or causing structural failure. I’m sure he wasn’t smooth, and I’m sure he wasn’t flying within normal or safe parameters. There was a fine line between him being in control and not being in control, but to the extent that he needed to, he knew what he was doing.

This is not anything the average baggage handler, counter agent or even aircraft mechanic could pull off. Without some systems knowledge, some rudimentary flying skills, and a whole lot of luck, it’s more or less impossible. The average person, if put in a Q400 cockpit and told to go flying, couldn’t get a propeller turning if his or her life depended on it, let alone take to the air.

A New York Times headline, meanwhile, says the incident “Raises Troubling Security Questions.”

Actually, it doesn’t. But on and on we go: always the new “threat,” the new scare, the new loophole, in our security-obsessed culture and media. It should go without saying that certain airline workers are always going to need, and have, cockpit access and knowledge of how a plane works. What exactly are we supposed to do?

Calm down, for one.

Mr. Southers and the Times are correct that an insider threat does exist, and always has. This particular kind of threat, however — the idea of random employees getting hold of planes — shouldn’t be overplayed.

Employees of Libyan Airlines were implicated in the Pan Am 103 bombing in 1988. A year earlier, David Burke, a recently fired ticket agent at Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA), sneaked a loaded gun past security at LAX. During cruise he broke into the cockpit, shot both pilots, then nosed the airplane into the ground killing everyone aboard. Burke was an insider — or had been until he was fired — but anybody else could have committed the same crime.

We remember, too, Auburn Calloway at FedEx, Tsu Way Ming at SilkAir (maybe), Gameel Al-Batouti at EgyptAir, and Andreas Lubitz of the Germanwings disaster. These were pilots, however. Indeed, the number of pilots who’ve intentionally crashed planes is greater than the number of other employees who have. I hate pointing this out, but in a weird way, maybe, it underscores how difficult the task would be for a non-pilot.

Horizon Air, a subsidiary of the Alaska Air group and partner of Alaska Airlines, is one of the nation’s oldest and largest regional carriers, with an extensive network throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Source: | 12 Aug 2018 | 11:02 am

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The Lessons of the Seattle Plane Crash

Modern life is full of potentially terrifying “What if?” possibilities. What if a pharmacist decided to substitute morphine pills or strychnine for the next prescription you pick up? What if a school-bus driver decided to swing the wheel, and plow a full load of children head-on into incoming traffic, or off an overpass?

What if a FedEx or UPS courier decided to deliver a box full of explosives, or anthrax spores, to an office building, rather than business supplies? What if a disturbed student, teacher, or parent walked into a public school and opened fire on everyone in sight?

The last possibility is a reminder that there are risks some societies will define as acceptable. All the rest illustrate the reality that our lives hang by threads that someone else could decide to cut. The ability to inflict harm, whether intentionally or accidentally, rises more or less in pace with the technological complexity and interdependence of modern life.

Every modern city dweller depends for daily well-being and even survival on systems that make up the hard and soft infrastructure of society: water, power, sanitation, public health, and on down the list of services no one notices until something goes wrong. Most are run by people we don’t know, whose competence and good intentions we have no choice but to take for granted. As for people determined to do harm—the pharmacist who wants to poison customers, the bus driver intent on suicide—the only absolute protection would be surveillance and regimentation on a draconian scale. (Want to avoid the risk that any bus driver, ever, could do something rash? Send them all through full FBI criminal-background checks, plus psychological testing, and then staff every bus with both a driver and a co-driver, each to keep an eye on the other. Any school system could do this. None that I’m aware of does, since it would price bus service out of the realm of practicality.)

Thus sane approaches to security have been careful to set the goal of reducing risks, rather than eliminating them. The first is possible, and it naturally leads to discussions of cost, practicality, and the trade-offs between security and liberty. The second is in most cases impossible, and it naturally invites “security theater”-style posturing in fending off threats, and “How could this have happened???” overreaction when something inevitably goes wrong. (For more of The Atlantic’s case against security theater, especially involving the early years of the TSA, see pieces by Jeffrey Goldberg here, here, and here, and by me here and here. )

So we come to the bizarre, frightening, and tragic episode on Friday night in Seattle, in which a ground-staff baggage employee of a regional airline got into an empty twin-engine turboprop, started it up and took off without permission, flew dramatic aerobatic maneuvers over Puget Sound, and then crashed on an island off Tacoma, killing himself in an apparent suicide.

Bizarre, frightening, and tragic this certainly was. But was it a sign of an alarming failure in security practices, as some press accounts immediately asserted? (For instance, from the United Kingdom’s The Telegraph, soon after the event: “It has raised fundamental questions about airline security at America’s major airports after the mechanic was able to board the plane, taxi onto the runway and take off without being stopped. Aviation experts questioned what the authorities would have been able to do if the pilot was determined to fly the plane into a city rather than do loop-the-loops.”)

Maybe this will be the appropriate response when more facts are known. For the moment, as is usually the case with aviation disasters, many of the most important questions about what happened are impossible to answer right away. Here are some of the aviation details, known and still puzzling, and then my hypothesis as to how this could have happened. (I trained for and got my instrument rating at Boeing Field in Seattle in 1999, and flew frequently in Seattle airspace when I lived there in 1999 and 2000.)

  • The specifics: The most useful overall summary I’ve seen is in The Aviationist. It gives details about the plane (a Horizon Air Bombardier Dash 8, with no passengers aboard but capable of carrying more than 70); the route of flight; the response of air traffic control; and the dispatch of two F-15 fighter jets from the Oregon Air National Guard’s base, in Portland, which broke the sound barrier en route toward Seattle and were prepared if necessary to shoot down the errant plane.
  • The real-time drama: A video of the plane’s barrel rolls and other maneuvers, plus the F-15 interception, from John Waldon of KIRO, is here.The recordings of the pilot’s discussions with air traffic control (ATC) are absolutely riveting. A 10-minute summary, featuring the pilot’s loopy-sounding stream-of-consciousness observations in what were his final moments of life, is here. A 25-minute version, which includes the other business the Seattle controllers were doing at the same time, is here. The pilot makes his final comments at around time 19:00 of this longer version. A few minutes later, you hear the controllers telling other waiting airline pilots that the “ground hold” has been lifted and normal operations have resumed. In between, the controllers have learned that the pilot they were talking to has flown his plane into the ground.
  • How did he do it? Part 1: The Dash 8, which most airline passengers would think of as a “commuter” or even a “puddle jumper” aircraft, differs from familiar Boeing or Airbus longer-haul planes in having a built-in staircase. When the cabin door opens, a set of stairs comes out, and you can walk right onto the plane. This is a very basic difference from larger jets. The big Boeing and Airbus planes require a “Jetway” connection with the terminal, which is the normal way that passengers, flight crew, and maintenance staff get on and off, or an external set of stairs. Also, big jets usually require an external tug to pull or push them away from the Jetway and the terminal, before they can taxi to the runway. They cannot just start up and drive away, as the Dash 8 did. Was the Dash 8’s door already open, and the stairs down, so a ground-staff member could just walk on? Did he have to open the door himself? I don’t know. But either way, anyone who has been to a busy airport knows that it’s normal rather than odd to see ground-crew members getting into planes.
  • How did he do it? Part 2: However the pilot started the plane (switches? spare set of keys?), the available ATC recordings suggest he didn’t fool the Seattle controllers into giving him permission to taxi to the runway or take off. He just started taxiing, rolled onto the runway, accelerated, and left. As you can hear from the 25-minute recording, ATC at big, busy airports is an elaborately choreographed set of permissions—to push back from the gate, to taxi to a specific runway, to move onto the runway, to take off. For safety reasons (avoiding collisions on the runway), in this case the Seattle controllers had to tell normal traffic to freeze in position, as the unknown rogue plane barged through.
  • How did he do it? Part 3: In the 10-minute ATC version, you can hear the pilot asking what different dials mean, saying that he knows about airplanes only from flight simulators, and generally acting surprised about where he finds himself. But the video shows him performing maneuvers that usually require careful training—for instance, leveling off the plane after completing a barrel roll. Was this just blind luck? The equivalent of movie scenes of a child at the wheel of a speeding car, accidentally steering it past danger? Was his simulator training more effective than he thought? Did he have more flying background than he let on? At the moment I’ve seen no explanation of this discrepancy.
  • How everyone else did: I challenge anyone to listen to the ATC tapes, either the condensed or (especially) the extended version, and not come away impressed by the calm, humane, sophisticated, utterly unflappable competence of the men and women who talked with the pilot while handling this emergency. My wife, Deb, has written often about the respect she’s gained for controllers by talking with them in our travels over the years. These are public employees, faced with a wholly unprecedented life-and-death challenge, and comporting themselves in a way that does enormous credit to them as individuals and to the system in which they work. In addition to talking to the hijacker pilot, Seattle ATC was talking with the scores of other airline pilots whose flights were affected by the emergency. See if you detect any testiness, confusion, or exasperation in those pilots’ replies.
  • What could have happened next? The two F-15s were in range of the plane within a few minutes of its takeoff. They were awaiting orders to shoot or force it down, if the pilot had turned toward Seattle or Tacoma rather than away from them.

Could this have been much worse? Clearly it could have. If a ground-crew member had been purposeful, better trained, and able to haul explosives or other damaging cargo with him onto the plane, he could have reached downtown Seattle before the F-15s got to him. That’s a plainly possible “What if?” like the strychnine, anthrax, and school-bus examples with which I began. And even if the resulting toll were “merely” comparable to that of a large-scale American gun massacre—it could not have been comparable to the 9/11 attacks, since a commuter plane like this is so much smaller and carries so much less fuel—the psychological impact of airplane-borne threats is always greater than sheer numbers would indicate. (Airline travel in the United States is statistically about the safest thing you can do; many people are nonetheless afraid of flying.)

Could it have been avoided altogether? We’ll see what the details show. As with the Germanwings crash of 2015, in which a depressed 28-year-old airline pilot deliberately flew himself and 149 other people into the ground, the easiest break point would have been someone noticing how disturbed a staff member had become.

As for (even) greater screening and supervision of airport and airline staff members, that is sure to come. One reason North American and European airlines are now so exceptionally safe is that they view each crash, death, or even near miss as the occasion for systematic learning and error reduction, to address the vulnerability that has just been revealed. Because decades of refinement have eliminated so many air-safety problems, the crashes that do occur tend to involve some previously underappreciated point of failure—for instance, the autopilot and crew-management issues that led Air France Flight 447 to plunge into the Atlantic Ocean. (Think of how different this is from car-crash investigations or the stories of mass shootings, where the background factors are so familiar that most people can guess them before the full details come in.)

I hope that, when the facts are in, the response to this odd, sad incident will resemble what the aviation system usually does with its failures, rather than the way the political system typically behaves. That is, I hope it serves as a source of guidance for further threat reduction, rather than as fuel for panic and finger pointing about the modern reality that some “What if?” peril will always remain.

Source: James Fallows | The Atlantic | 12 Aug 2018 | 10:09 am

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Uber Home by @ocelotbrewing in Virginia. Animated in celebration...

Uber Home by @ocelotbrewing in Virginia. Animated in celebration of the Beer Bloggers Conference in Loudoun County #bbc18. Credit to @beerlyinfocus for the beautiful photo. Check out his page for more excellent beer photography! • • • #Beerlabelsinmotion #blim #instabeer #brewstagram #craftbeer #beerlabel #beergeek #ilovebeer #beerporn #aftereffects #virginiabeer #ocelotbrewing #gradient #uberhome

Source: Beer Labels in Motion | 11 Aug 2018 | 4:01 pm

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The Liver Punch: Content Quotas

It’s an unwritten rule in life that after anything unexpected happens, many of those who viewed it will spend an inordinate amount of time on the autopsy. They will generally be looking for those little nuggets of information that went unseen. Because if they’d had all the facts, they never would’ve been surprised. This is particularly loathsome in boxing, because, in case you were not aware, everyone is a trained psychologist with penetrating insights that would make Jung, Skinner, and their ilk renounce any knowledge of the field. Following that are the interviews of former managers, trainers, dog walkers, and anyone else with whom the losing fighter has fallen out over the years. All of this, every last bit, is an attempt to know WHY it happened.

Last weekend, Sergey Kovalev lost to underdog Eleider Alavarez. HOW he lost should’ve rendered any further discussion superfluous, because Kovalev got knocked the fuck out. He was ahead in the fight, then pulled straight back with his hands low (as he has done his whole damn career) and an excellent counterpuncher whose record belies his actual power surged forward at the exact right moment and detonated a brutal overhand right on Kovalev’s temple. Kovalev’s legs turned into stilts on ice and he skittered backward before landing on his ass. Clearly hurt, the Russian got up and didn’t clinch or run. For that lapse in judgement, Alvarez punished him with a left hook/uppercut that collapsed Kovalev into a heap, his left arm folded under and behind him in the fashion that only yoga hippies and people who’ve just had their entire nervous system scrambled can manage. The fight could’ve and likely should’ve been stopped, but up he rose only to get dropped again and the fight waived off.

Do you want to know why Kovalev lost, really lost? Eleider Alvarez was better and took advantage of a perfect opening. Don’t believe me?

Maybe Kovalev is lazy, ungrateful, and a racist, as former trainer John David Jackson claimed this week. Maybe he is a front running bully who couldn’t mentally process his first loss and is now a broken husk of a man and it showed up again last weekend as innumerable people have claimed.

Probably though, he’s a very good light heavyweight who is slipping slightly at age 35 and has now lost to two fighters who could withstand his offense and then return with their own. It’s worth noting that both Andre Ward and Eleider Alvarez had to brutalize him to get him out. And in case you’ve forgotten, after dropping Kovalev with a filthy overhand left as he pulled back with his hands low (I see a trend), Andre Ward hit Kovalev with one of the most psychotically evil body shots I’ve ever seen.

I’m not saying that people shouldn’t hypothesize or discuss. But fighters have a short prime and if 90% of the post fight conversation is a conspiracy theory level dive down the rabbit hole of the loser’s pysche and relationships instead of celebrating the winner, we’re missing the fucking point.


Delirium Tremens

  • If you’re asking me to believe that Sergio Martinez is seriously training for a comeback based entirely on a hypothetical statement he made during an interview with someone else, you’re gonna have to try harder. I know we all loved Zoolander, but ask any washed athlete who still enjoys their sport if they think about coming back, they’ll pretty much all at least entertain it as a thought experiment. The Martinez who lost to Cotto couldn’t make it through a full camp, let alone a fight. And he’s four years older now.
  • I really want to like Dmitry Bivol but he’s not moving the needle for me at all. I know Isaac Chilemba is damn near impossible to look good against, but every time I see the Russian fight I’m bored.
  • Why is BJ Flores still a thing?
  • There are a lot of really fun fights to be made at heavyweight. The verbal sparring matches are not among them. I’ve never given the slightest fuck what Deontay Wilder says and I’m even less interested in Dominic Breazeale’s response.

The post The Liver Punch: Content Quotas appeared first on Queensberry Rules.

Source: Blogs | 10 Aug 2018 | 2:04 pm

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Is it just me or is it getting a bit hard to see in here? Hazy...

Is it just me or is it getting a bit hard to see in here? Hazy Little Thing is a great addition to the @sierranevada lineup. I first had this at a beer garden at the start of the summer and was very impressed. • • • #Beerlabelsinmotion #blim #instabeer #brewstagram #craftbeer #beerlabel #beergeek #ilovebeer #beerporn #aftereffects #sierranevada #can #familyowned #hazylittlething #hotboxing #hazy

Source: Beer Labels in Motion | 9 Aug 2018 | 7:24 pm

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’60 Minutes’ boss Jeff Fager tolerated years of allegedly abusive conduct by senior producer
Shouting at colleagues, throwing objects and an alleged physical assault of a female colleague -- that's the record of prominent former '60 Minutes' executive Michael Radutzky

Source: Erik Wemple | 9 Aug 2018 | 4:01 pm

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On finding the cure for depression
So. If you read here you already know that I’ve been getting stabbed in the brain by magnets every day for an hour for the last few months.  (Click here to read the whole TMS story if you’re new here.) … Continue reading

Source: The Bloggess | 9 Aug 2018 | 2:38 pm

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‘Fox & Friends’ host: ‘I do want everyone to be happy and safe’
Nice person helps to anchor "typical" morning show with some ideology in the mix.

Source: Erik Wemple | 9 Aug 2018 | 10:28 am

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My Unusual Computer Setup

A while back, around the time I switched to Linux, I had the realization that any amount of effort I spent customizing my computer would probably pay off. I use the thing just about every day and gains are cumulative so I may as well think about how to make my computer better for me. This, incidentally, makes it nearly impossible for a normal person to use.

It's certain that not all of my customizations will be good for you, but maybe some will be, and if you use a computer a lot, the general idea of customizing it to your specifications is probably a good one.

To start, I use Linux. If you are reasonably technical, you should probably be using Linux of some sort. If you are a programmer, I can't imagine how you use something else. The two biggest factors are 1) Linux has many different flavors, so you can always use whichever one is best for you and 2) Linux is by far the most customizable operating system.

I think a lot of people are afraid of Linux because they think it is hard to set up and use, but that's really not true. I did a fresh install of both Ubuntu Linux and Windows 10 on my Lenovo (designed for Windows) laptop, and Ubuntu worked way better. Windows was a nightmare of drivers, but Linux just worked.

With Linux you have a distribution and a window manager. Think of the distribution as the underpinnings for drivers and updates and default apps installed, and the window manager as the part you interact with. Every distribution comes with a default window manager, but you can always change it.

I started with Ubuntu + Unity, switched to Ubuntu + Gnome, and now use Arch + i3-gaps.

What makes i3 very different from anything you're likely to have used is that you cannot move the windows freely. If you open up an application it will fill the screen by default. If you open another one, it will split the screen. You can have multiple workspaces (desktops), which is pretty essential when apps never overlap on each other.

The idea of this sounded so constricting and annoying that I avoided trying it for a while and almost switched back within minutes of using it. Now I can't imagine switching back. Normal window managers feel so cluttered and disorganized.

I use a program called polybar, which replaces the status bar on the top of your screen. Unlike the status bar in OSX or the taskbar in Windows, it is 100% customizable. On the top left of mine I have my workspaces, in the middle I have a world clock, weather, and crypto price ticker that I made myself, and on the right I have stuff like battery, volume, wifi etc. The clock and weather change based on where my phone is located.

Each of my main workspaces has an icon. Right now there's an envelope (mail), chat bubble (chat), note (notes), firefox, and command prompt. The i3 window manager lets you do cool things like save and automatically restore layouts as well as force apps to open in certain spaces.

So, for example, if I launch Thunderbird, my mail app, the mail workspace is created and it is moved there. When I boot up the Firefox workspace gets created automatically and is populated with two firefox windows and a small command prompt.

You can also create new spaces on the fly. If I'm doing a project that requires a few different apps, I just hit command-1 and it makes a new workspace called 1.

I made some custom scripts to handle hotkeys. If I hit command-W it goes to the web browsing/firefox tab. If I hit command-shift-W, it moves my current window to that tab. The weird Japanese key under my thumb (katakana/hiragana/romaji) brings me to the command prompt space. If I hit it again it brings me back to my previous window. That lets me pop over really quickly to move a file or check something and then go back to where I was.

Learning all the keys took a while, but now it's all automatic. I can move between spaces very quickly and rarely have to use my mouse.

I use Firefox for my browser, Thunderbird for mail, Standard Notes for notes/blog writing, Signal for chat, Terminix for my terminal, Sublime for coding, rofi for launching apps, and KeepassXC for password management. Rofi and Terminix aren't anything special, but the other ones are all so good I can't imagine not using them.

I make scripts for absolutely everything, usually in Bash or PHP. For example, if I type "blogphoto" the script will connect to my server and download the latest photo I've uploaded from my phone into the "Blog Photos" directory.

I use Resilio Sync to keep phone photos and downloads synced across devices. In my experience it's much faster than any other method of syncing.

The only thing I missed from Windows was Photoshop, but I finally got it working on Linux. The process was difficult and annoying, but worth it.

I don't have a strong allegiance to any given PC maker, but right now my favorite is the Lenovo X1 Carbon. I think it's better than every other laptop by a huge margin right now. By using a highly customized linux installation you can always choose the best hardware, the best distribution, and the best window manager. Even replacing all of them, most of the scripts and customizations you make will still work.


Photo is my desk in Vegas. 43" LG monitor, wireless keyboard/touchpoint that is identical to my laptop, soundbar, Teforia tea machine, and a wireless charger for my phone. On the right you can see my laptop hanging off the side of the desk. I use a docking station so that it can stay closed over there.

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Source: Tynan | Life Outside the Box | 9 Aug 2018 | 10:05 am

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Driving across Kansas is lovely if you avoid the soul numbing...

Driving across Kansas is lovely if you avoid the soul numbing Interstate 70. I can’t bring myself to drive it anymore, it literally will crush the life out of you. But Hwy 24 or 36 across the state pass through some charming little towns. I like those sort of towns. They have bits that feel like a time capsule, nooks in the town someone was wise enough to save. All mixed in with new shiny bits that are bright so you know someone’s still around & thriving ✨

Source: MADDIE THE COONHOUND | 6 Aug 2018 | 11:11 am

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Eleider Alvarez Shocks, Krushes Sergey Kovalev

As doubleheader cards teeing up the expected winners to face one another go, Saturday night was a disaster. As gobsmacking, can’t-believe-your-eyes upsets go, well, one out of two ain’t bad.

Long-languishing light heavyweight Eleider Alvarez, put in the ring on HBO as an authentic test for longtime boogeyman Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev, notched the upset with a violent three-knockdown 7th round that demolished the power-punching bully. The undercard was far less interesting, as would-be Kovalev opponent Dmitry Bivol had to deal with Living Piece Of Gum Stuck In Your Teeth Isaac Chilemba en route to a clear decision win that didn’t glamorize anyone.

But man, Alvarez! Didja see? Didja? He started in a way that suggested trouble for Kovalev, firing body punches the way the first man to truly vanquish Kovalev — Andre Ward — did. His solid boxing fundamentals surely had Kovalev thinking he was haunted by Ward’s poltergeist.

But Kovalev collected himself and started throwing mean punches, seemingly taking over in the middle rounds with volume. At one point Alvarez tried to trade, and all he got out of it was bloodied. So it was more than a little surprising in multiple dimensions — that the not-too-powerful Alvarez scored a knockdown, that the usually sturdy Kovalev was on the ground at all, and that Kovalev looked so rattled it was immediately doubtful if he’d make it out of the round — when Alvarez landed a huge overhead right that melted Kovalev’s jowls.

And yeah, that’s where it went. Two more left-right combos ended Kovalev’s night, as he wasn’t capable of or willing to tie up or move around or otherwise buy time to gather the wits he left spilled all over the ring.

This was a dangerous matchmaking decision, albeit a worthy one for viewers. It promised to answer the questions about whether the Kovalev in against relatively easy foes since his losses to Ward, against opponents who wouldn’t pose similar troubles Ward did, was for real. The answer strongly appears to be, “No.” You have to guess Main Events, Kovalev’s promoters, knew Kovalev might be a bit of an illusion at age 35, and was hoping he’d overcome this highly credible test en route to a potential last big cash fight against Bivol, win or lose.

Still, Kovalev at least behaved like a real fighter by taking on Alvarez, since the light heavyweight champion, Adonis Stevenson, has behaved like anything but. After all, Alvarez was amid a 13-month layoff because Stevenson hasn’t faced him despite being Alvarez his mandatory challenger for some sanctioning organization or another — starting back in 2015 (!) — a reminder that, when convenient for the wallets of the powerful, nobody is really forced to do anything by these fraudulent outfits.

This writer didn’t catch the whole Bivol-Chilemba fight, but that matchmaking was worse, despite being defensible on a competitive level, because there was no way a spoiler like Chilemba was going to build any interest in Bivol’s next fight, especially because Bivol is a conservative technician first who scores knockouts second. If Chilemba wasn’t going to be willing, and when is he?, Bivol wasn’t going to get to show off much.

Nonetheless, promotional turf wars (ah, it’s so nice we never have to worry about THOSE) might make Alvarez-Bivol about as good as it gets for either man. In that sense, along with the others, this card was all over the place. Some good, some bad, conceptually and actually, not ending as anyone intended but ending up in a pretty decent place anyhow.

(Eleider Alvarez knocks down Sergey Alvarez during Kovalev vs Alvarez; credit via HBO, Ed Mulholland, Main Events and Hard Rock Atlantic City)

The post Eleider Alvarez Shocks, Krushes Sergey Kovalev appeared first on Queensberry Rules.

Source: Blogs | 5 Aug 2018 | 12:10 am

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How to Automate Your Curtains

This is such a niche thing, but you'd be shocked at how many requests I get for information on how I did it. A couple years back I gave a talk about automation, ranging from home to habits to business, and almost all of the follow-up emails I got were about the curtains.

I first automated my curtains because I thought it would be a neat novelty. My apartment in Las Vegas is a very inexpensive one which you'd never expect would have anything fancy inside, so I thought it would be fun to have automated curtains. After using them for a few years, though, they've proven to have far more utility than novelty.

There are three primary advantages to having automated curtains.

The first advantage is that you can have sunlight when you wake up in the morning. I like sleeping in and don't naturally jump up out of bed in the morning. But when I can hit one button and sunlight starts streaming into my bedroom, I find it really easy to spring out of bed. I also use Tasker on Android to automate this so that if an alarm goes off, my curtains open. I almost never use an alarm, but when I do it tends to be for an early flight, so it helps to get out of bed quickly.

The second advantage is that you can save energy. When I leave my house the curtains close to keep the sun out. I have no idea if this is a significant savings or not, and it is unlikely to save enough money to justify the purchase, but it helps.

Last, it helps me keep my plants alive and my house safe. It looks like I'm home even when I'm gone, because I have the curtains open at sunrise and close at sunset, and this also gives my plants enough light. During the brightest and hottest times of the year I keep the curtains closed for a few hours in the middle of the day when it's hottest.

And the bonus advantage, of course, is that it's just cool. When I hit the theater button on my remote, the curtains close, the lights go off, and the projector goes on.

Installing automated curtains is much easier than I expected it would be. There are very expensive solutions, but you can buy the same components they use and build your own.

First, search Aliexpress for "Dooya" and buy one that has a track and motor. I was being a little cheap when I bought mine and I bought tracks that were barely long enough to cover the window. If I were doing it again, I'd go with 6" extra on each side to help block light out of the sides and expose more of the window when open.

Next you need one motor controller for each curtain. A variety of companies make these and they should cost around $50. I bought one called the Aeon Labs Micro Motor Controller, but it seems hard to find now. Any Z-Wave device that is meant to control a curtain or a motor will work.

Wiring the controller to the curtain is extremely easy and straightforward.

Last, you need a smart home hub if you don't have one already. I use a Samsung SmartThings hub which I like, but any one should work.

And that's it! I made a bunch of rules in SmartThings to close curtains when I'm gone, open them when I'm back, open them when I wake up, and close them when I go to sleep. If you have an Android phone, use Tasker and Sharptools to further automate. I made one automation that pops up a dialog when I put my phone on a wireless charger at night and asks me if I want to be woken up in 8 hours. If I click yes it opens the curtains and turns on the lights 8 hours later.


I figured a picture of my curtains would be too boring, so this is a photo of the windows on the island which, ironically, don't have curtains.

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Source: Tynan | Life Outside the Box | 2 Aug 2018 | 10:05 am

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Talent Dispersal: The Story of Epic and Erie

Two years ago at this time, when my wife, Deb, and I were in our fourth year of travel across the country to report on smaller towns, we found ourselves increasingly drawn to the lakefront city of Erie, Pennsylvania.

The initial attraction was a primal sense of topophilia on Deb’s part, or fondness for a particular landscape. She had grown up in a small town on the shores of Lake Erie, 150 miles to the west on the other side of Cleveland. The summer-evening sky, air, and sound of Erie’s lake walks were as familiar for her as they were exotic to me.

Summer sky, lakefront Erie, July 2016. (James Fallows)

As we made return trips (even in colder weather) and learned more about the layers of modern Erie, we became more absorbed by it, and connected to it, on both intellectual and emotional levels.

The intellectual appeal is one I set out two years ago in a post called “Erie and America.” It was based on the area’s role as a collision-point and real-time arena for almost every significant trend in modern American society, negative and positive alike. The way this balance plays out in Erie, and in similarly-situated places we visited like San Bernardino and Fresno and Allentown and Charleston, West Virginia, will help determine which will be the dominant tone in the next stage of American life. Will it be the poison, dysfunction, polarization, and mistrust of national-level politics? Or the widespread, dispersed signs of renewal that Deb and I have argued, in our Atlantic articles and our new book Our Towns, can be the proving-grounds and momentum-builders for the next era of national renewal?

That drama is fully on display in Erie.

At first glance the city can seem a shorthand for America’s heavy-industrial distress—a huge vacant downtown factory with broken-out skylights, amid smaller also-abandoned workshops; local news accounts about the latest in the long, sad string of layoffs at GE’s mainstay locomotive plant. (Whose production lines, by the way, are being moved not to Mexico or China but to Texas.) Every social ill of contemporary America has left its mark on Erie: racial polarization and tension (including a recent calculation that Erie was “the worst city for black Americans,” in terms of income gap relative to whites), the abuse of opioids and other drugs, homelessness, job loss, and a cruelly unfair state school-funding system whose consequences were so dire that a few years back city threatened simply to close its public high schools.

Yet on second glance—and fifth, and 10th—this same, battered Erie became even more remarkable to us as the locus of countervailing, creative forces.

I won’t go through the whole list again, which we discussed in articles you can find here (and in our book). But the elements include an ambitious higher-ed establishment, with several liberal-arts universities plus Penn State’s Behrend campus, where I spent an afternoon looking at advanced-manufacturing initiatives (like successful ones I’d seen from South Carolina to Michigan to Kentucky to California). We also witnessed an accelerated version of a formula we had seen in a number of other midwest and northeastern “Rust Belt” cities trying to turn themselves into a “Chrome Belt”: The hope of offsetting the loss of native-born young families by recruiting, welcoming, and integrating immigrants and refugees (as Deb explained here and here). Erie also boasts a downtown revival movement, led simultaneously by the city’s home-grown and downtown-based Fortune 500 company, Erie Insurance, whose longtime CEO and now chairman, Tom Hagen, is in his 80s; by successful tech entrepreneurs like Joel Deuterman, now in his 50s; and by a 20s-and-30s generation of artists, activists, technologists, and business people (who you can see in a great video here).  

Erie has an active performing-arts and music scene. Its Jefferson Educational Society runs ambitious live events and research programs, in a model that is a rough counterpart to California’s Commonwealth Club or the 92nd Street Y in New York. We became fans of the alt-weekly Erie Reader. In the same downtown building as the Reader’s offices is a tech startup space, called Radius CoWork, similar to what you’d find in any hip town. (See for yourself.)

These conflicting trends—so discouraging, potentially so positive—have made the city intellectually compelling. Over our months of exposure, the people, of all ages and a wide range of backgrounds, who have thrown themselves into this renewal effort have won our emotional support.

And one small group of them has won our business support as well.

A cumulative surprise of our travels since 2013 was what I thought of as talent-dispersion, or the “reverse talent flow.” There are more and more opportunities, for a larger range of businesses, in more places away from the big cities, than there were a decade or two ago. A detectable flow of people are taking advantage of them.

Through modern history, ambitious people from the hinterland have sought their fortune in the biggest, most vibrant metropolises. Englanders and Scots going to London, French provincials to Paris, Chinese to Shanghai and now Shenzhen, and Americans to the metropolises mainly on the coasts. For as long as American literature has existed, it has chronicled the movement of people from farm, to village, to each era’s booming urban centers. (Pick your American classic novel, from Sister Carrie to Invisible Man, and you’re likely to find elements of this theme.)

That concentrating flow will of course continue, as one glance at construction cranes in Seattle or housing prices in the Bay Area will confirm. But a combination of those same hyper-inflated real-estate costs, and the rise of location-specific high-value industries (like “precision agriculture” startups in farming areas ) plus ever-improving tools for remote work, have powered what tech entrepreneur Steve Case calls the “rise of the rest.” By that he means increased opportunities for talented people who might have moved to Chicago or Boston or LA, but who decide that the overall prospects are more promising in Birmingham or Columbus or Omaha.

In our travels we have met some of these people, and we’ve written about the new business niches they had found, with: agriculture-related technology, in South Dakota and Central Valley California; aerospace technology, in Minnesota and Oregon; logistics and advanced retail systems in Ohio; high-value manufacturing in Kansas and South Carolina and Kentucky; plus other opportunities elsewhere.

And, in the case of Erie, web-design work from Epic Web Studios.

Epic’s headquarters, on French street in downtown Erie. (Epic)

Epic’s co-founders are David Hunter, now age 34 and CEO, and Shaun Rajewski, now 29 and lead developer. They started the company nine years ago, at ages 25 and 20, respectively (and in the depths of the post-2008 financial crash), on the belief that it would be possible to create a first-tier Internet-design company far away from the normal tech centers, in the place where they had grown up. They had no outside capital or investors, and they ran the company initially on the “self-exploitation” financing model familiar from so many startup stories.

Hunter had worked in New York but wanted to come home to start a business and raise a family (with his wife, Jessica, also an Erie native). “After high school, I left Erie as soon as possible, eager to leave the region in search of ‘bigger and better,’” he told me. “I started college at Fordham in New York. I loved it there, but after a lot of consideration, I realized how important my family and my friends really were to me so during my junior year I decided to move back to Erie with an entirely different outlook on the city.”

Rajewski’s story is like that of some other tech entrepreneurs we met in Erie (and their counterparts in Greenville and Duluth and Redlands and Fresno etc). The similarity is that as Epic has grown, he has continued to re-decide to stay in his small community (with his wife, Karrah and their family), rather than take offers with Facebook, Google, or other big-time companies in the Bay Area or Seattle.

Over these nine-plus years, Epic has become a modest but steadily expanding success. It has some 400 clients for its web work, in North America and internationally. It has developed an app intended to help local newspapers in the pursuit of their Holy Grail (that is, engagement and “stickiness” from local readers), and other apps intended to help local businesses improve their visibility in Google maps. Epic argues that its services match what’s available anywhere else, but that its prices can be much lower, because of the difference in salaries and real-estate costs.

Hunter and Rajewski have created more than a dozen full-time tech jobs in Erie — not many in the grand scheme of things, but a dozen more than would exist without them. Like other locally founded tech firms we’ve seen around the country, they view their own survival and success as being closely connected with the whole city’s prospects. Thus Epic does extensive volunteer work for local non-profits and civic institutions, the value of which Hunter says comes to over half a million dollars of in-kind contribution.

“Epic's workforce includes a lot of folks who are from Erie, moved away to start a career, and were recruited back to the region to work with our team,” Hunter told me this week in an email. “Others were planning to leave the region and stayed because of the opportunity to grow their career while contributing to the growth of Erie, PA.”

Why do I mention all this? Not just because it’s another local data point but also because Deb and I took Epic’s work seriously enough to start doing business with them ourselves, as customers. Two years ago, Epic’s team developed a website for a civic group in Washington D.C. that we are part of, and whose background I have described here. (News updates for the site are here.)

Like all modern authors, we also have a website for our new book. This, too, is something we wanted Epic to develop for us (it’s here). As the months go on we plan to work with them, as normal customers, to expand this as a platform for exchanging the kinds of stories we have heard around the country, connecting people and groups large (like New America or Esri) and small (like the Center for Rural Affairs) that are working toward similar ends in different locations, and using maps and other tools to illustrate both problems and solutions.

Does the business our family provides matter? In any grand sense, obviously not. I mention it to show that our observation about talent-dispersal is more than just talk on our part. We take it seriously enough that we are willing to vote with our personal dollars, to present our own message through this company’s staff and skills.

Bicentennial Tower, Erie lakefront, 2016 (James Fallows)

“I am incredibly passionate about my hometown of Erie, PA,” David Hunter said in  a recent message to me. “The city is a lot of fun (we're one of only 8 cities nationwide that lets you drink in the streets!), it’s incredibly affordable (here's a 5,400 sq. ft. Victorian Mansion for sale at $139,900), and there's always something new going on (here's a sample of the calendar for just one week ).”

The Onion offers periodic dispatches from Don Turnbee, “America’s Fast-Food Critic,” who is always identified as hailing from Erie. Hunter said that he takes perverse joy and pride in those Onion shout-outs, as part of a younger-generation embrace of the city’s defiant-underdog status. (This is an attitude we also saw among Hunter’s counterparts in places like San Bernardino, Fresno, Ajo, and Duluth.) “Erie’s been a weird city (in a good way) for as long as I can remember,” he told me. “I think Erie’s weirdness, though hard to quantify, is one of our greatest assets because it makes us a unique place that’s hard to forget.”

As for the city’s problems, “there are certainly plenty of examples that make it difficult to live here as well,” he says. “To pretend it’s some sort of utopia would never work because the city is full of cold, thankless and unflattering qualities too. But there are countless people who work to improve those things every single day. I am incredibly thankful for their efforts because I see the change happening before my eyes every day.”

How will Erie look 10 years from now? I have no idea, just as I cannot say how the struggle between national-level darkness and local-level renewal will eventually balance out. But I offer the story of Epic Web Studios and its founders and staff as one more illustration of how different the texture of the country can look from a city-by-city perspective, than it does from the bleak prospect of the national news.

Source: James Fallows | The Atlantic | 25 Jul 2018 | 1:10 pm

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Kristin Chenoweth opens up a new (suit)case for Trial & Error

Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Thursday, July 19. All times are Eastern.


Source: The A.V. Club | 19 Jul 2018 | 1:00 am

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Hey, who wants 4 new Chance singles, pretty much out of nowhere?

Although he eventually put the kibosh on rumors that he was dropping an album this week, Chance The Rapper has now made it abundantly clear that his claims about being in the studio lately were right on point. Per Pitchfork, the Chicago-based independent dropped four new singles onto the internet tonight, his first…


Source: The A.V. Club | 19 Jul 2018 | 12:29 am

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July 16, 2018

THE FIRST TIME I saw it was in the fall of 1992, walking along the Revere Beach seawall in the company of our family Weimaraner. It approached from the northeast, head on, lumbering down the coastline. My initial though was Aer Lingus. The afternoon sun had turned blue into green, the forward fuselage taking on the distinctive mossy hue of the Irish national carrier, whose 747s were a regular sight at Logan. But then, as the jet swung closer and into profile, green went blue and I could see, clearly and with some astonishment, that it was Air Force One.

The plane passed less than a thousand feet overhead, then sank past the hills of Beachmont toward runway 22L. I remember it fishtailing slightly — a wobble and a yaw — and silently chuckling. Not even the President’s plane is immune to the push of a good crosswind.

It was a handsome sight. One thing that has always pleased me about Air Force One is the modesty of its livery. Conceived by industrial designer Raymond Loewy during the JFK administration, it’s a look that has gone mostly unchanged for six decades. And for good reason. If you ask me, Air Force One is easily the most elegant state aircraft in the world. The current version, a modified Boeing 747-200 (there are two of them, actually), carries virtually the same markings as the old 707 it superseded: the sweeping forward crown, the Caslon typeface and simple tail hash. The old-timey window stripe and subtle gold highlights, in concert with a couple of judiciously placed flags and the Presidential seal, give the plane a dignified, statesmanlike demeanor. It’s patriotic in the best sense of the word: proud but a little humble.

I bring this up because Donald Trump wants to change it. He wants to change it because of course he does. Declaring the plane’s robin’s egg blue under-trim a “Jackie Kennedy color,” Trump would prefer something “more American” instead. In keeping with his tastes and temperament, that can only mean a scheme that is frightfully garish and in-your-face. If he gets his way, two replacement 747-8 aircraft, on schedule for delivery in 2021, would wear new colors.

Those who find this idea distressing include U.S. Air Force Brass, countless Americans with good taste, and presidential historian Michael Beschloss. “Why would anyone want to discard an Air Force One design that evokes more than a half-century of American history?” asked Beschloss in Axios magazine. “Every time you see that blue trim and the words ‘UNITED STATES OF AMERICA’ spelled out in that same typeface as an early version of the Declaration of Independence, it brings back JFK landing in Germany to speak at the Berlin Wall, Richard Nixon flying to China, Ronald Reagan stepping off the plane to see Gorbachev in Iceland and a thousand other scenes of Presidents in our past.”

Moreover, this should not be the President’s call. Air Force One belongs to the nation, not to the President, and its livery shouldn’t be subject to the whims of whomever is holding office at the time.

Barack Obama waves from Air Force One.       Reuters photo.

Reportedly Trump wants to renovate the plane’s interior as well. On his wish list, among other changes, is a bigger Presidential bed. This is a man whose aesthetic leans heavy on the gold and gaudy — more Saddam Hussein and less Jackie Kennedy, and not remotely humble — and we envision the final product looking something like a 1920s brothel. As for the exterior, here’s a (depressingly not far-fetched) rendition that Axios came up with…

Officially, “Air Force One” is merely a radio call sign, not the name of a particular aircraft. Any United States Air Force plane with the President on board is Air Force One. Normally this is the 747 we’re familiar with, but occasionally it’s a much smaller Gulfstream jet. The President’s helicopter, operated by the U.S. Marines, is “Marine One.”

In 1959, Dwight Eisenhower’s modified Boeing 707 became the first aircraft to use the Air Force One designation. Prior to that, various propeller planes were supplied by the armed forces or contracted commercially for the job. In 1943, Franklin Roosevelt traveled to the Casablanca Conference in a Pan Am flying boat, the Dixie Clipper, celebrating his 61st birthday in the plane’s dining room. Roosevelt himself had created the Presidential Pilot Office to supply the President and his staff with air transportation.

Elsewhere heads of state and their officials do it similarly — or differently, depending. Some travel in standard military transports or will borrow jets from their country’s national airline. Others arrive in stylish airborne limos not unlike our Presidents. For reasons not entirely clear, when Kim Jong-un met with Donald Trump in Singapore last month, he arrived from Pyongyang in a chartered Air China 747.

During the 1990s at Logan, I remember, it wasn’t unusual to spot a Saudia Airlines L-1011 TriStar, chocked and secured for the weekend at the north cargo ramp. As the story went, members of the Saudi royal family would drop in for three-day shopping junkets or to visit relatives at local colleges, making use of the huge jetliner the way one might borrow a company car.

Source: | 15 Jul 2018 | 9:35 pm

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Emojis and Emoticons
Image result for smiley faceThe etymology of emoji ought to be obvious. It's a little digital picture: hence e- like e-mail. And it expresses emotion: hence emo-. Except that that's not it at all.First, the OED mentions that the word dates, in Japanese, back to at least 1928, when computer graphics were not up to much. That also means that it's got little to do with e-things or emo-things. E here means picture in Japanese and moji means character. So it's a pictograph, indeed emoji may have originally been a straight Japanese translation of the English word.Emoji is therefore closely related to Kanji, which is the Japanese writing system that uses Chinese characters. Kan = Chinese and ji = letter. (So far as I can tell moji and ji are the same, but I don't speak a word of Japanese, I am simply relying on the clever people at the OED, who, I suspect, do.)Emoticons, on the other hand, are emotion-icons and have been recorded since 1988. They are therefore utterly unrelated to emojis.
Image result for Choju Jinbutsu Giga
And this is from a Japanese picture scroll, or e-makimono, or emaki.

Source: Inky Fool | 5 Jul 2018 | 8:03 am

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Booze, Glorious American Booze
Image result for american flagMuch has happened since A Short History of Drunkenness came out in America a couple of weeks ago. First, there's a lovely review in the New York Times. I believe it will be in the print edition on Sunday, but, like an insomniac spider, it's already on the web and you can read it by following this link. I never thought that I picture I drew would end up in the NYT.Second, there's a review the Wall Street Journal, which you can read here.Third, I did an interview for the lovely folks at Big Blend Radio Hour that you can listen to by following this link.Fourth, I wrote an article for Read It Forward, that, if you are forward, you can read here. It's about great fictional drunkards.All of which leaves no excuse for any whisk[e]y drinker. A Short History of Drunkenness is officially a "refreshingly guilt-free account of getting sloshed through the ages".Incidentally, in case you wanted to see the original Pubai seal, here it is. The beer drinkers are at the top centre, using straws to avoid all the horrid sediment that you got in Sumerian beer.

Source: Inky Fool | 31 May 2018 | 12:20 pm

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The Last Time
Sometimes we are not aware when something happens for the last time. Circumstances change without our intervention; we take leave of someone quite casually and we don’t know that we will never see them again;  decisions are made over which we have no power which have  sudden and deep consequences in  our lives. But a few times  only  there is a conscious choice to end something of major importance.  Last night when I was sitting with my sunset cocktail over- looking the mosque, I knew that this daily ritual was happening for the very last time. I was regaled with a blue cloudless sky and a clear  sunset and I hung on to the very last dying ember of light as it descended on the horizon to the right of the Great Mosque. Then I had dinner on the roof alone under a clear bejewelled Malian sky.
The night before was the final party: a ‘family affair’ for those that have served at the hotel: a lovely evening complete  with Diao, our faithful Fulani  milkman who arrived  with his son; our griots came and sang mine and Keita’s praises.
They  sang of those that have gone, of Beigna and Pudiogou and of Fatou, but also of Papa, Baba and Maman, and of course of the lovely Elisabet, my film-making cousin.  
We feasted on the goat that we bought in Madiama market a few days ago, and Papa was respendent in his white hatted chef outfit.
For days the contents of the hotel have been quietly leaving.  Mattress by mattress, air conditioner by air conditioner, the hotel has trickled away until it stood quite bare, and only Maman, Baba and Papa were left this morning, dividing the last spoils between themselves. There has been a change of state: this hotel which I created no longer exists.
December 12, 2006:“Tomorrow it will be just a week before Hotel Djenné Djenno is officially open. In two weeks time my Christmas guests will already be leaving. But today the site was still just as usual, full of workmen, and full of wheel barrows and mud. But the clearing up has begun. Something major is about to happen- a change of state.In just over a week I will no longer be building a hotel, it will actually exist, and I will be running a hotel. My reality is about to change. Today I looked at all the space of the hotel which is about to be born. I thought of all the unknown things which will happen in this space, and which are now resting here like embryos. It is all about to begin to unfold. I thought of all the people who will one day come here, and laugh, have fun and make love here, although today they don’t even know it. And yet, by some mysterious workings they will come here ...So Maestro, soon soon, let the play begin..”And it did, and the players were many. And last night they all finally left the stage, sweeping the floor with their feathered  hats as they took  their final bow...
 ( this is the last message from Djenne Djenno. There will be more about other places and other adventures, inshallah.   Should you wish to follow me there, please look in here now and then. You will be directed to another blog  soon.  Thank you to all you who have looked in over these 11 years and followed my life and adventures in Djenné. It has been, so far, the best years of my life.)

Source: djenne djenno | 4 Mar 2018 | 5:34 pm

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Tuesday Morning

Getting ready to get on big metal flying thing and go to isle of Manhattan. Smoke on your pipe and put that in.

But it's hard to think about that and to not think about, in alphabetical order: Las Vegas and Puerto Rico. My sympathies and shock are kinda bouncing back between the two of them, appalled that we don't do more to prevent what happened in the former and to help with what's happened to the latter. I sent money to Operation USA, which is about all I can think to do to aid Puerto Rico. I mean, it's not like I'm the head of a government who could care a lot more about those people down there.

About gun control? That's long seemed hopeless to me. I do have friends who own enough firearms to qualify as Gun Owners in anyone's eyes. Not a one of them believes people should be allowed to own the kind of gun you can take up to the 32nd floor of a hotel and use to kill 59 people, injure 527 others and leave countless others in shock. Any one of them could probably write a batch of laws that would cut down on massacres while still preserving the rights of responsible hunters and those who need a weapon for protection. But they're not driving this bus and I'm skeptical that those kinds of folks ever will, not even after the next "Greatest Massacre in U.S. History" or the one after that or the one after that or the one after that…

I do like what Seth Meyers said in the video I embedded last night. Maybe it's time to get politicians to at least self-identify where they stand. Get each one on the record answering questions like, "Would you be willing to support laws that would have prevented Stephen Paddock from obtaining the weapons he had in that hotel room?" And then we have to wait for the day when it would cause more candidates to lose elections if they said "No."

Gotta go pack. Posting will be sporadic here for the next week but it will include reports on the New York Comic-Con and various shows on or slightly off-Broadway.

The post Tuesday Morning appeared first on News From ME.

Source: News From ME | 3 Oct 2017 | 11:04 am

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Great Shakes!

I start most days with a chocolate protein shake made with Jay Robb Whey Protein.  It's the only chocolate thing I ingest since I (largely) gave up sugar about ten years ago.  Jay Robb products are free of sugar and also of artificial sweeteners, which neither I nor my body like.  They make 'em with Stevia and it's a pretty nice, protein-rich drink especially if you make yours with real cold water.  For a time, I also put in a splash of milk but I stopped doing that.

They have a couple of flavors but I like the chocolate way more than the others.  Recently though, I came across a product at the market that I'd never seen before — Jif Peanut Powder.  I tried adding a teaspoon of it to my Jay Robb chocolate shake and in addition to upping the protein count, I got a pretty good peanut butter flavor drink.

I was expecting something not unlike a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup — a mix of chocolate and peanut butter — but it doesn't work like that. No matter how little peanut powder I put in, the result tastes like peanut butter with almost no trace of chocolate. That is not a bad thing though. You might want to try Jay Robb Whey Protein, with or without the peanut powder.

The post Great Shakes! appeared first on News From ME.

Source: News From ME | 3 Oct 2017 | 3:50 am

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Commuting to Timbuktu
For a continuation of my adventures please go to my new blog here.

Source: djenne djenno | 20 Jul 2017 | 7:23 am

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everythingthatgoespop: Breaking News: George and Amal Clooney...


Breaking News:

George and Amal Clooney are expecting twins!❤👶🏻

2017 taketh away (civil liberties), but 2017 also giveth (celebrity twins).

(Just popping back in to say AAAAAAAAAAAMAL. And BEYONCE.) 

Source: Suri's Burn Book | 9 Feb 2017 | 4:02 pm

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After Nine Years and 2,810 Posts, a Dot Earth Farewell
After nine years and 2,810 posts, a blog seeking a sustainable path for humans on a finite planet comes to an end.

Source: Dot Earth | 5 Dec 2016 | 7:07 am

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Facing Standing Rock Campaign, Obama Administration Blocks Dakota Pipeline Path
Intensifying Indian protests prompted the Obama administration to block a pipeline's path in North Dakota.

Source: Dot Earth | 4 Dec 2016 | 6:38 pm

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Seriously, though. If I go away, who’s going to tell Blue Ivy...

Seriously, though. If I go away, who’s going to tell Blue Ivy that she DOESN’T NEED TO HANG OUT WITH APPLE MARTIN JUST TO BE NICE? Because come on. You are better than that.

Source: Suri's Burn Book | 24 May 2016 | 5:00 pm

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999 Posts + The Big Blog Re-Design
This marks the 999th time I have opened my blogger account and started typing into this blank, white box. Not every post made it live, but the official file number is 999. I cannot fathom how that's possible, but I have never been prouder.This project started as a place to share what I was experiencing as a confused post-grad in a big, expensive city (again, because my friend Matt made me do it). I didn't have an ulterior motive; I just needed somewhere to write. And then somehow it became the catalyst for almost every major change in my life from that point - truly. I can track everything from my first script and first literary manager to my move to Los Angeles and my husband to this blog. Today it continues to fuel my creativity and serve as a place that I always return to find my voice as a writer. I owe everything to this little space on the world wide web.And so I thought I'd give the blog a little 1,000th post congrats gift - a full and complete re-design.It's way past time to take 20/30-Nothings into the 21st century. New logo. New look. Far better functionality, readability, and shareability (this is a word?). I'll also be introducing new features and ways to connect. And, most importantly, there will be really cool colors involved.   I'll be off-line for a week or so until the transformation is complete, but after that it's right back to work. Until then, please enjoy some back-log reading of my personal blog superlatives.And really, truly, THANK YOU. I think that a writer without an audience is technically still a writer, but it's really so nice to have you.   

Source: 20-Nothings | 24 Mar 2015 | 11:18 am

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Meditation For Beginners, Who Are Terrible at Meditation
As I mentioned, I've just started one of Deepak Choprah and Oprah's 21-Day Meditation Challenges. As I failed to mention on purpose, this is the third time...Basically Oprak create this user-friendly, totally guided, 100% free content that is released daily for 21 days. Each installment runs for approximately 20 minutes and includes an intro by Oprah, a lesson by Deepak and timed meditation with really lovely music. There is even an app you can download in case opening the e-mail they send and clicking on a link is too cumbersome - as it apparently was for me, twice.Each 21-Day challenge has a different focus. The first one I tried to do was something about finding the calm in your life, the second I can't remember, and this one is about Manifesting True Success. Bottom line they're all about centering your mind, but the focus is a nice specific they can keep doing them, I assume, but that's fine. So why do I want to do this? Because it is my understanding that meditation is an incredibly powerful tool for use in calming the hell down, something I could use 20 minutes (or years...) of in my life. Also, I like the idea of starting every day with some thinking, and then some non-thinking. And finally, people who meditate endlessly boast the benefits, and they are almost always people that I like and respect.So how is it going? I'm not sure I know yet. I have found a comfortable place and way to sit, which took three days. I really like Oprah talking to me every morning. Deepak has had some great things to say - like today he said that our body is our greatest ally in life, and if we can be in touch with it and work in union with it, we'll be in far better shape emotionally and physically. I tend to treat my body more like this annoying, evil twin that I have to lug around all day/life, so that was a cool brain shift.But when it comes to the actual meditating, I'm horrible. You're supposed to keep your mind clear and focus on repeating the mantra over and over again, but my mind immediately races to another topic, and then it's minutes until I realize I've been through three more topics and haven't said the mantra silently in my head once. It's frustrating, which is the last thing you want when meditating. That said, it's my understanding based on a Google search that this is very common. Meditation takes year and years of practice, and I have given it 4, 15-minute sessions. This time, I'm hell-bent on getting to 21. I'll provide an update at half of 21 (sorry, don't have a calculator on the ready). Until then, any advice?

Source: 20-Nothings | 19 Mar 2015 | 2:01 pm

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January 26 2015: The first reported US drone strike of the year...

January 26 2015: The first reported US drone strike of the year killed three people travelling in a vehicle in central-southern Yemen. This was the first attack since Houthi insurgents forced the country’s president Abdu Rabbu al Mansour Hadi, his prime minister and cabinet to resign. #drone #drones #yemen (at Hareeb, Shabwa-Mareb border)

Source: Dronestagram | 2 Mar 2015 | 5:34 am

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January 19 2015: CIA drones targeted a house in Shawal area of...

January 19 2015: CIA drones targeted a house in Shawal area of North Waziristan killing five, six or seven people. The identities of the dead was not immediately known however a senior Pakistani official said “non-Pakistani, foreign fighters” were among the dead and Taliban sources said the attack also killed local fighters associated with Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur. This was the third of four strikes to reportedly target Bahadur himself, or men loyal to him. The Pakistani government condemned the strike as a breach of sovereignty – a reiteration of its official position on the drone attacks. #drone #drones #pakistan (at Shahi Khel, Shawal, North Waziristan)

Source: Dronestagram | 2 Mar 2015 | 5:33 am

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