Monday, May 31, 2010

Woman Sues Google for Bad Directions - PCWorld

Google tells her to walk down a country road that turns out to have no sidewalks. She gets hit and tries to sue Google. Clearly their fault.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Israeli army: At least 4 killed on Gaza flotilla

A humanitarian mission to Gaza was attacked by the Israeli navy. The ships were trying to bring aid to the strip which has been suffering under a blockade for months. Israeli soldiers used live rounds against the mostly unarmed protestors, killing 4 and wounding as many as 30.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

President Nestor Kirchner tells Ollie Stone that Bush thought war is good for the economy

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

With Fiends like these...

File this one under "I hate to say I told you so..." 

It's no secret that the corporate news has been over-estimating the tea-baggers for months now. Their particular brand of white middle-class populist angst has scared the Dickens out of the "liberal" media and given the Murdoch's of the world that malicious gleam in their eyes. But their political calculus - mid-term elections + national crisis + populist anger equals opposition party landslide - has been flawed from the start. The reasons for this are pretty straight forward. First and foremost, there's Obama. Our first black president won the seat by galvanizing young people and minorities. A pair that not only leans Democratic, but when added to the traditional Democratic base can form a considerable majority. And while it's true that the people who make up this block are very inconsistant voters, Obama's ability to organize them throws the whole calculation off. The results in November may well hinge on whether or not he can get them to vote. The press seems to be betting they won't, but the only thing you can say for certain is that nothing this year is certain.

The second, and perhaps more important factor, are the tea-baggers themselves. The media has been falling over itself in the race to proclaim the movement as king-maker. But conventional wisdom on the left has long supposed that you only have to give these people so much rope before they hang themselves. Now it seems some in the media are finally starting to come around to this idea. First there was Rand Paul and the flap over his opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act (???). The media had a field day with this one, and the GOP - still desperate to peel off some of Obama's minority voters - had to go into damage control mode. Then there's the race in North Carolina. There the GOP is trying to undo the early success of candidate Tim D'Annunzio. This tea-bagger darling nearly won the nomination, but failed to secure enough votes to avoid a run-off. Now the state party is pulling out all the stops to keep this guy off the ballot. What is it about D'Annunzio that has the GOP so spooked? Well, there's the claims of a former heroin addiction and his arrest for burglary. But there's crazier things than that. There's his belief that God would drop a 1,000 foot pyramid on Green Land. Or that the Ark of the Covenant would be found in Arizona. These are things that might seem like no big thing to some voters - say, 48% of the 30% of North Carolina GOP voters who turn up for a primary. But in a general election? Boy, that would be fun to watch.

As the primaries unfold around the country, there certainly is a narrative that's emerging. But it's not the one pundits seemed to be expecting. Instead of an invigorated GOP channeling populist anger into a sweeping victory, it's about those same populists altering the make-up of the Republican party. In primary after primary, the very voters the GOP tried to use to its advantage are threatening to split the party in two - moderate, practical conservatives on one hand, ideologically pure conservatives on the other. There may still time for the party to regain control of it's electorate. But the way things are going, the story arc in November might just be about how tea-baggers managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

- Frog

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Whither the tea-baggers...

Recent elections seem to be challenging the cable-news narrative of a great Republican wave in November. First, John Murtha's seat was held decisively by the Democrats, after weeks of speculation that it would be another Scott Brown level catastrophe. Then, Arlen Specter lost his first election battle in years - not to the other party, but to the left wing of his own (adopted) party. This, more than anything, fails to fit into the GOP-takes-all story arc. It's true that anti-incumbent sentiment is running high, but I still fail to see how that translates directly into GOP gains this November.

The challenge facing both parties - but especially the Republicans - is how to fit an increasingly compartmentalized electorate into the two party big-tent system. As information is increasingly available and decentralized it becomes easier for individuals to find a like-minded community. The more these associational groups emerge and try to make their voices heard, the more difficult it will be for the two parties to find their message. Not to get too far ahead of myself here, but we may just be witnessing the biggest shift in our political make-up since the beginning of the 20th century. That era saw a huge upswing in 3rd party politics - which was only interrupted by national crises. Without the presence of a strong ideological enemy (the Depression, the Nazi's, the Commies, etc) it's just possible that the American party system might break up for good. This of course, remains to be seen. But if tea-bagger candidates fail to win big in November, it's hard to imagine that they'll just take all that impotent rage and go home. If it can't fit in the GOP tent, where can it?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Suicide season in Seoul??

It's an odd news day here in Seoul. ABC is carrying not one, but two suicide related articles. The first, about the suicide of the 72 year old head of the Doosan Group (who own my favorite Korean baseball team, by the way) and the second about a string of apparently organized suicides across the city. I've heard from multiple sources about the absurdly high suicide rate, but these are the first incidents I've seen make the papers since I've been here.

According the the article the suicide rate in 2008 was 35 per day. That's right, I said per day. And what is the main culprit according the National Statistics office? The economic downturn. Apparently, the theory goes, children are so spoiled by their work-a-holic parents that they can't deal with competition. Of course, it has nothing to do with soul crushing academic standards or a corporate culture that prevents parents from seeing their kids more than a few hours a week (in a particularly galling part, the article mentions that corporations are trying to combat this by insisting their workers leave by 6pm at least once a month. Once a month? My, how very altruistic of you). If this is reflective of anything it's reflective of the way Korea can't seem to reconcile individualistic capitalism with traditionally powerful family obligations. I've heard numerous stories from teachers here about students who have been tracked into occupations they loath, simply because they did well on some test in the eighth grade. If the government really wants to tackle this problem, it's got to start preaching less about personal obligations and creating more personal opportunities.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Petitions, petitions everywhere and not a drop of ink...

A couple of interesting action items today (to use to the parlance of the corporate douche-bag). First PAC Repower America has a petition circulating to urge your senators to sign on to the Kerry-Liberman energy bill. And while I've heard more than few things that make the current version of the bill seem a little milquetoast, time is running out for the Dem majority. So if this is of interest to you, act now, cause this offer won't last long.

Second, and perhaps of interest to netizens, is the ACLU's ongoing petition to urge Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to take the idea of respecting consumers' privacy a little more seriously. Maybe if we can remind ol' Zuckie that, given an alternative, FB users can and will defect on mass, it might just give him enough pause to backtrack on some his more flippant privacy violations. For while people might put up with it at the moment, developers are all ready betting that FB's users would flock to a more privacy-friendly social networking model. Mr. Zuckerberg is a relatively young guy, but he can't of forgotten what his own site did to Mayspace and Friendster. On the other hand, wild success does seem to affect the short term memory. If that's the case, sign the petition and see if we can jog it for him.

- Frog

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Video game and cartoons used to shock school children about violence | Education | The Guardian

This is the stupidest thing I've heard in a while (outside of a teabagger rally, anyway). Exposing kids to violent images in an effort to keep them from becoming desensitized is completely pointless. First it assumes that playing violent video games when you're a teen will desensitize you to actual violence - which it doesn't. There hasn't been a study I've heard of that suggests a causal link between game violence and real violence. Second, even if it did, where are they getting the idea that showing them stills will prevent desensitization? My cousin in the marine corps told me that part of their training was to watch slide-shows and videos of bodies and battle scenes, specifically so they would become desensitized. This is essentially the same plan the US government used to get kids to "just say no," to drugs in the 1980's. Show them the drugs, teach the street names and they won't be interested. No really. It worked wonders, I swear.

Video game and cartoons used to shock school children about violence | Education | The Guardian

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Al Jazeera English - Middle East - Egypt's state of emergency extended

An interesting view on the state of civil society in Egypt. It's a common misconception in the West that civil unrest in the Middle East is primarily a fight between Islam and secular values. But this article sheds a little light on what is really going on. It's easy to forget that Egypt has been living under a presidential regime with "emergency" powers pretty much continuously since 1967. A 43 year emergency? Wow, that is emergent. This pattern of civil suppression is pretty consistent through countries that seem to attract Islamist movements. Egypt seems to fare better than most, but that's likely due to the fact that they have managed to develop a civil society that at least seems able to mount a token opposition, and may even be able to get the decrees reversed - finally. Contrast this with places like Saudi Arabia - where civil society has no such freedom of expression - and it becomes easier to see why political Islam can be so appealing.

Al Jazeera English - Middle East - Egypt's state of emergency extended

Online Electric Car Debuts

A shuttle bus that runs wirelessly by following a track of magnets embedded in the roadway. Now that is a cool idea.

Online Electric Car Debuts