Thursday, June 30, 2011

NY TImes 100 Greatest Nonfiction Books

The New York Times wrote As if You Don't Have Enough to Read "Inspired by The Guardian’s recent list of the 100 greatest nonfiction books, we here at the magazine decided to create our own list. Dispensing with all pretense to rigor — it’s a list, silly! — we simply asked each member of the staff to pick their five favorites."

Too Big to Fail: Inside America’s Economic Downfall

Too Big to Fail: Inside America’s Economic Downfall is a surprisingly good infographic on the economic crash.

IBM develops 'instantaneous' memory, 100x faster than flash

IBM develops 'instantaneous' memory, 100x faster than flash. "This time it's a new kind of phase change memory (PCM) that reads and writes 100 times faster than flash, stays reliable for millions of write-cycles (as opposed to just thousands with flash), and is cheap enough to be used in anything from enterprise-level servers all the way down to mobile phones. PCM is based on a special alloy that can be nudged into different physical states, or phases, by controlled bursts of electricity."

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ezra Klein on Mitch McConnell

Ezra Klein wrote In praise of Mitch McConnell "When Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks, I’ve learned to listen. It’s not that the jowly Kentuckian is such an inspiring orator. Quite the opposite, in fact. With his sleepy drone and laconic rhythm, he’s the rare politician who usually seems to be boring even himself. Nor is he the back-slapping, yarn-spinning sort that frequently prospers in the Senate. McConnell’s got all the warmth of an ice floe.

But then, McConnell doesn’t need to be inspiring or jocular. Shouldn’t be, in fact. What he’s saying isn’t inspirational or funny. It’s grim and divisive. And that’s why it’s so important. In a city split between liars and idealists, McConnell is the rarest of all things: an honest cynic. He’s the only powerful politician in America willing to tell you how Washington actually works, and that’s why he needs to be heard."


I mostly ignored Google's announcement yesterday of Google+. My thoughts were basically what xkcd expressed.

Then I learned Why Google+ Looks Good: Original Macintosh Team Member Andy Hertzfeld. Now Lifehacker explains, This Is What It's Like to Actually Use Google+, Google's New Social Network.

I've long praised Facebook for having pretty good security controls for users. Since it knows who you know and you can create lists for how you know them, you can do things like don't show my pictures to my work colleagues, only my friends. Though I'm not sure how practical that really is and I know most people don't do it. If Google+ circles makes this easier, I think that's a very good thing.

I don't use Facebook chat much but lifehacker is very impressed with Google+'s group video chatting.

Anyway, I'm a little more interested in it now though it's still useless unless your friends start using it. So far Facebook has a big lead in that department.

Obama Today

I watched Obama's press conference today. I'm much more reassured after hearing him talk. He knows what's going on and I believe he wants to do what I want him to do. But he (rightfully) chastised Congress for knowing what needed to be done but putting it off. He gave a long answer but skipped the Libya - War Powers Act question and he refused to give a position on gay marriage. He brought up raising some tax revenues on the wealthy but it was all just a volley in the negotiations that will take place all through July.

Still the most fun part, was him complaining about Congressmen not being in town while he's been there dealing with Afghanistan, bin Laden, the Greek crisis, etc.

Update: Matthew Yglesias busts a myth Republican's are already spreading about Obama's statements, No, The American Recovery And Reinvestment Act Did Not Create The Tax Preference For Corporate Jets

Also, and far more depressing, Ezra Klein believes the press conference is How you know the negotiations have truly failed.

Update 2: Brad DeLong wasn't happy either, This Is Very Bad: Barack Obama Fail Department

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Getting to a Trillion

Jared Bernstein wrote Getting to a Trillion "So, connecting all these dots, it seemed like a good idea to think about various ways to get to a trillion in savings through cutting tax expenditures.  Here’s a menu, with rough cuts of the savings over 10 years."

Fallows on Bachmann

James Fallows had a few posts on Michellle Bachman.

Bachmann on 'Face the Nation': Two Signs She Is Serious.

Maybe Bachmann Still Has Things to Learn About Campaigning?Bachmann's 'John Wayne' Gaffe: In the Reagan Tradition?

Catching up on SCOTUSblog

I'm catching up on my SCOTUSblog. Here's one of their Plain English posts from a couple of weeks ago. "Decisions in five cases, including children and Miranda rights, class actions, and the Fourth and Tenth Amendments."

Opinion analysis: Warming an EPA worry, at first. "The Court rules that it is for the Environmental Protection Agency in the first instance, and not the courts, to deal with global warming that could be traced to the release of “greenhouse gases” into the atmosphere. Courts have only a secondary role, the decision stressed."

Opinion analysis: New curb on crime lab reports. "Once more divided 5-4 on how to define the right of a criminal suspect to confront accusers, the Court rules that, if a crime lab report is offered by prosecutors, the person who did the test and prepared the report must testify, and a supervisor cannot do so in the absence of that technician." I thought this was interesting in how Justice Ginsberg wrote the opinion and Scalia, Thomas and Sotomayor joined and Kagan did in part and that Kennedy wrote the dissent with Roberts, Alito and Breyer joining. That's not a common split.

Major ruling for doctors due next term. "The Court returns to an issue, under patent law, of doctors’ right to observe how their patients react to varying dosages of medicine, when such observations might infringe on a diagnostic method that is patented."

Georgia Learns a Hard Truth: Illegal Immigrants Keep Us Fed

Barry Estabrook wrote in The Atlantic Georgia Learns a Hard Truth: Illegal Immigrants Keep Us Fed "The state's immigration crackdown has led to a return to the Jim Crow era—and fruits and vegetables rotting in the fields"

A new anti-immigration law goes into effect July 1. "Nothing if not mobile, many of the 400,000 or so migrant workers (about 70 percent of whom are undocumented, according to United Farmworkers of America) who pick Georgia's onions, cucumbers, watermelons, and peaches decided to bypass Georgia in their northward pursuit of ripening crops this spring. The result is a dire labor shortage in the state's $11-billion agricultural sector. With more than 11,000 positions unfilled, nearly half of Georgia's farmers report that they have too few workers. They stand to lose $300 million as a result. In some cases the crops have already rotted in the fields and have been plowed under. "

Now I'm not sure how 11,000 is "many" of 400,000. The Governor offered "unemployed probationers" some of the positions. Apparently they mostly quit their first day or did a really bad job (producing low yields).

"Instead of moving Georgia a step back to the Jim Crow era, Governor Deal could do the intelligent thing and fix an obviously poorly thought-out law to reflect reality: The U.S. food system is built upon the backs of illegal workers. It's high time legislators recognize this fact and enact laws that allow the people who produce our food to gain legal status. "

I'm surprised he skips the whole, what about other unemployed Georgian citizens? Wolfram says GA has a 9.8 unemployment rate. Are the wages offered too low? Could they raise them? There's more here that I want to know.

Jeter Filter

Someone should turn the Jeter Filter ("Jeter Filter is the Chrome Extension that filters out Derek Jeter from any webpage you visit.") into a Fox News Filter.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Cuomo, Obama and the Realm of the Possible

Nate Silver has a nice post Cuomo, Obama and the Realm of the Possible "The point is not that this is the right strategy or the wrong strategy. It might well have been the right strategy — I don’t come to a conclusion about that. But I do think it’s fair to characterize it as a risk-averse strategy. And that, at the core, is what bothers some liberals about Mr. Obama’s approach to the presidency. Fairly or not, they want him to push the envelope more than he has and to take a few more chances — to expand the realm of the possible, as Mr. Cuomo seems to have done in New York."

It doesn't mention the bully pulpit as other complaints do but that's my issue. He's not trying to use public opinion to help him win issues and as a result I think public opinion is drifting further right than it need to.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Climate of Denial

As if Matt Taibbi's piece on Bachman wasn't depressing enough, Al Gore also has a piece on the Climate of Denial. (It's odd that they both refer to Yeats.) He starts by comparing the news media coverage of climate change to a referee at a professional wrestling match. "Whenever the bad guy committed a gross and obvious violation of the "rules" — such as they were — like using a metal folding chair to smack the good guy in the head, the referee always seemed to be preoccupied with one of the cornermen, or looking the other way. Yet whenever the good guy — after absorbing more abuse and unfairness than any reasonable person could tolerate — committed the slightest infraction, the referee was all over him."

"But whatever the cause, the referee appears not to notice that the Polluters and Ideologues are trampling all over the "rules" of democratic discourse. They are financing pseudoscientists whose job is to manufacture doubt about what is true and what is false; buying elected officials wholesale with bribes that the politicians themselves have made "legal" and can now be made in secret; spending hundreds of millions of dollars each year on misleading advertisements in the mass media; hiring four anti-climate lobbyists for every member of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives."

"Maybe it's just easier, psychologically, to swallow the lie that these scientists who devote their lives to their work are actually greedy deceivers and left-wing extremists — and that we should instead put our faith in the pseudoscientists financed by large carbon polluters whose business plans depend on their continued use of the atmospheric commons as a place to dump their gaseous, heat-trapping waste without limit or constraint, free of charge. The truth is this: What we are doing is functionally insane. If we do not change this pattern, we will condemn our children and all future generations to struggle with ecological curses for several millennia to come. Twenty percent of the global-warming pollution we spew into the sky each day will still be there 20,000 years from now!"

"The best available evidence demonstrates beyond any reasonable doubt that the reckless spewing of global-warming pollution in obscene quantities into the atmospheric commons is having exactly the consequences long predicted by scientists who have analyzed the known facts according to the laws of physics."

"The cumulative result is a radically new reality — and since human nature makes us vulnerable to confusing the unprecedented with the improbable, it naturally seems difficult to accept. ...These vulnerabilities, rooted in our human nature, are being manipulated by the tag-team of Polluters and Ideologues who are trying to deceive us. And the referee — the news media — is once again distracted. As with the invasion of Iraq, some are hyperactive cheerleaders for the deception, while others are intimidated into complicity, timidity and silence by the astonishing vitriol heaped upon those who dare to present the best evidence in a professional manner. Just as TV networks who beat the drums of war prior to the Iraq invasion were rewarded with higher ratings, networks now seem reluctant to present the truth about the link between carbon pollution and global warming out of fear that conservative viewers will change the channel — and fear that they will receive a torrent of flame e-mails from deniers."

"The real power of any president, as Richard Neustadt wrote, is "the power to persuade." Yet President Obama has never presented to the American people the magnitude of the climate crisis. He has simply not made the case for action. He has not defended the science against the ongoing, withering and dishonest attacks. Nor has he provided a presidential venue for the scientific community — including our own National Academy — to bring the reality of the science before the public. Here is the core of it: we are destroying the climate balance that is essential to the survival of our civilization. This is not a distant or abstract threat; it is happening now. The United States is the only nation that can rally a global effort to save our future. And the president is the only person who can rally the United States."

Michele Bachmann's Holy War

Matt Taibbi has a great piece in Rolling Stone, Michele Bachmann's Holy War. It's one of the more frightening things I've read. It's certainly in his style and very entertaining but it seems more accurate and less biased than his other stuff. That may seem odd considering some of the quotes I'll include below, but he does talk details that seem correct and complete to my knowledge.

"Bachmann is a religious zealot whose brain is a raging electrical storm of divine visions and paranoid delusions. She believes that the Chinese are plotting to replace the dollar bill, that light bulbs are killing our dogs and cats, and that God personally chose her to become both an IRS attorney who would spend years hounding taxpayers and a raging anti-tax Tea Party crusader against big government. She kicked off her unofficial presidential campaign in New Hampshire, by mistakenly declaring it the birthplace of the American Revolution. "It's your state that fired the shot that was heard around the world!" she gushed. "You are the state of Lexington and Concord, you started the battle for liberty right here in your backyard.""

"Snickering readers in New York or Los Angeles might be tempted by all of this to conclude that Bachmann is uniquely crazy. But in fact, such tales by Bachmann work precisely because there are a great many people in America just like Bachmann, people who believe that God tells them what condiments to put on their hamburgers, who can't tell the difference between Soviet Communism and a Stafford loan, but can certainly tell the difference between being mocked and being taken seriously. When you laugh at Michele Bachmann for going on MSNBC and blurting out that the moon is made of red communist cheese, these people don't learn that she is wrong. What they learn is that you're a dick, that they hate you more than ever, and that they're even more determined now to support anyone who promises not to laugh at their own visions and fantasies."

I learned this: "Michele entered one of the most ridiculous learning institutions in the Western Hemisphere, a sort of highway rest area with legal accreditation called the O.W. Coburn School of Law; Michele was a member of its inaugural class in 1979. Originally a division of Oral Roberts University, this august academy, dedicated to the teaching of "the law from a biblical worldview," has gone through no fewer than three names — including the Christian Broadcasting Network School of Law. Those familiar with the darker chapters in George W. Bush's presidency might recognize the school's current name, the Regent University School of Law. Yes, this was the tiny educational outhouse that, despite being the 136th-ranked law school in the country, where 60 percent of graduates flunked the bar, produced a flood of entrants into the Bush Justice Department. Regent was unabashed in its desire that its graduates enter government and become "change agents" who would help bring the law more in line with "eternal principles of justice," i.e., biblical morality. To that end, Bachmann was mentored by a crackpot Christian extremist professor named John Eidsmoe, a frequent contributor to John Birch Society publications who once opined that he could imagine Jesus carrying an M16 and who spent considerable space in one of his books musing about the feasibility of criminalizing blasphemy."

And this scared the hell out of me: "Even other Republicans, it seems, are making the mistake of laughing at Bachmann. But consider this possibility: She wins Iowa, then swallows the Tea Party and Christian vote whole for the next 30 or 40 primaries while Romney and Pawlenty battle fiercely over who is the more "viable" boring-white-guy candidate. Then Wall Street blows up again — and it's Barack Obama and a soaring unemployment rate versus a white, God-fearing mother of 28 from the heartland. It could happen."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

It's Still the Economy, Stupid

Bill Clinton has a great article in Newsweek, 14 Ways to Put America Back to Work "Next week in Chicago, the Clinton Global Initiative will focus on America for the first time, inviting business and political leaders to make specific commitments in support of the former president’s jobs blueprint, which he details below."

They all sound like great ideas. Even the Economist likes them, Bill Clintons' Job Ideas. "Obviously it's pretty hard to legitimately disentangle what different factors lead to job creation during the tenure of any head of government, but if we're going to use the rough-and-ready approach of crediting presidents with being good on this metric if there was unusually high job growth during their tenure in office, then one William Jefferson Clinton has unimpeachable street cred. The United States' economy created 23m jobs during the Clinton presidency. Total payroll employment grew 21.1%, far outstripping population growth of 8.9%. (For comparison, under Ronald Reagan, payroll employment grew 17.7%, with 7% population growth; under George W. Bush it grew a miserable 2.3%, well behind population growth of 7.7%.)"

Obama are you listening? You have to combat the Republican tactic, GOP Mind Games, Job-Killing Edition. "It's an article of faith among congressional Republicans that, if you repeat a talking point often enough, no matter how inaccurate it is, it will eventually take root in the minds of Americans. Case in point: A new Bloomberg poll finds that 55 percent of Americans believe spending and tax cuts are the best way to lift the US labor market and lower unemployment, now at 9.1 percent, as opposed to more government spending." It goes on to point to this article in The Wall Street Journal by economist Alan Blinder, former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, The GOP Myth of 'Job-Killing' Spending which is great.

Three From Ezra

Hasn’t anyone told doctors how inefficient Medicare is?. "The results, I think, will be surprising to people who assume that government programs are both much more generous and much less efficient than private corporations. Medicare is the most accurate payer, with an average accuracy rate of over 96 percent. It has moved aggressively to adopt electronic money transfers, while major insurers like Cigna and Humana are still sending checks. And it rejects more claims than Cigna, Aetna, or really anyone but Anthem. In other words, reality defies the stereotypes."

Bill Gross: Deficit reduction can — and should — wait. " But in an unusual mid-month note to his investors, Gross hammered the “anti-Keynesians” in both parties who believe “that fiscal conservatism equates to job growth.” The truth, he says, is just the opposite. “Fiscal balance alone will not likely produce 20 million jobs over the next decade. The move towards it, in fact, if implemented too quickly, could stultify economic growth.”

Gross goes on to spend some time mocking the “ivory tower theorem” that deficit reduction will convince consumers to spend more now because they’ll worry less about taxes and service cuts later. “I know of no family,” he writes, “who, after watching the Republican candidates’ debate in New Hampshire, went out the next day and bought themselves a flat screen under the assumption that their Medicare entitlements would be cut in future years and the U.S. budget balanced.” That theory belongs “in the trash bin of theses and research aimed more towards academics than a practical remedy to America’s job crisis.”"

What ‘Inside Job’ got wrong. "I finally watched “Inside Job” this weekend. It was an excellent documentary for people who don’t want to understand the financial crisis but want to believe they would’ve seen it coming. Watching it, you’d think that the only people who missed the meltdown were corrupt fools, and the way to spot the next one is to have fewer corrupt fools. But that’s not true. Worse, it’s dangerously untrue. In telling the wrong story about how the financial crisis happened, it misinforms about how to keep it from happening again."

Two New Weapons Systems

Danger Room writes Genius Computer Stops Rockets Right Before Impact. "'Active protection is a testament to how fast computers are these days — especially when you’re not burdening them, by running an operating system,' says Artis CEO Keith Brendley. Artis’ approach is a little more algorithm-intensive than others. Rather than blast the projectile early in its flight, Artis’ Iron Curtain system waits to fire its countermeasure until the very, very last moment, when the munition is just a few inches away from ramming into its target. Iron Curtain doesn’t shoot out at the projectile. Mounted on the vehicle’s roof, it shoots straight down. The idea is to minimize the harm to any civilians nearby — and to get as good a look at the incoming munition as possible before firing"

Builder Blames Navy as Brand-New Warship Disintegrates. "The afflicted vessel is USS Independence, the second in the sailing branch’s fleet of fast, reconfigurable Littoral Combat Ships. Eventually, these ships are supposed to be the workhorses” of tomorrow’s Navy."

"In contrast to the first LCS, the steel-hulled USS Freedom, Independence is made mostly of aluminum. And that’s one root of the ship’s ailment. Corrosion is a $23-billion-a-year problem in the equipment-heavy U.S. military. But Independence’s decay isn’t a case of mere oxidation, which can usually be prevented by careful maintenance and cleaning. No, the 418-foot-long warship is dissolving due to one whopper of a design flaw. There are technical terms for this kind of disintegration. Austal USA, Independence’s Alabama-based builder, calls it “galvanic corrosion.” Civilian scientists know it as “electrolysis.” It’s what occurs when “two dissimilar metals, after being in electrical contact with one another, corrode at different rates,” Austal explained in a statement."

Kind of Screwed

Kind of Screwed. "Last year, I was threatened with a lawsuit over the pixel art album cover for Kind of Bloop. Despite my firm belief that I was legally in the right, I settled out of court to cut my losses. This ordeal was very nerve-wracking for me and my family, and I've had trouble writing about it publicly until now."

There is something wrong with a legal system that is too expensive for people to use.

FYI, the copyright holding photographer has a dream house in NY.

Charles Darwin’s Library

"Charles Darwin’s Library is a digital edition and virtual reconstruction of the surviving books owned by Charles Darwin. This BHL special collection draws on original copies and surrogates from other libraries. It also provides full transcriptions of his annotations and marks. In this first release (2011) we provide 330 of the 1480 titles in his library, concentrating on the most heavily annotated books"

The 10 Best Futurama Episodes

In honor of Futurama's return tonight on Comedy Central, io9 lists The 10 Best Futurama Episodes.

James 'Whitey' Bulger arrested in Santa Monica

The LA Times is reporting Famed crime boss James 'Whitey' Bulger arrested in Santa Monica. "Legendary Boston crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger, who has been on the run for more than a decade, was arrested Wednesday in Santa Monica, multiple law enforcement sources told The Times."

"Bulger fled Boston in late 1994 as federal agents were about to arrest him in connection with 21 killings, racketeering and other crimes that spanned the early 1970s to the mid-1980s." He has been on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List.

Just this week Rachel Maddow was talking about how bizarre it was that the FBI was trying to find him through his girlfriend by placing ads and info during women's programming like The View. I wonder if that paid off.

Bulger's brother William was the President of the MA State Senate. "Boston media is going to be off the chain tomorrow."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Beautiful Proteins

Beautiful Proteins "Proteins are stunning molecules. In this blog i collect renderings of protein folds that i find aesthetically pleasing."

Start-Up Lytro Aims to Sharpen Focus of Entire Camera Industry

Start-Up Lytro Aims to Sharpen Focus of Entire Camera Industry - Ina Fried - News - AllThingsD "The breakthrough is a different type of sensor that captures what are known as light fields — basically, all the light that is moving in all directions in the view of the camera. That offers several advantages over traditional photography, the most revolutionary of which is that photos no longer need to be focused before they are taken."

Vancouver Kiss

Iconic Photos covers the most famous photo from last week, the Vancouver Kiss.

Kiss copy

Is weather becoming more extreme?

The Big Picture has some great photos addressing Is weather becoming more extreme?. "Extreme weather events have always been with us, and always will be. One can't point to a single severe storm, or even an entire harsh winter, as evidence of climate change. But a trend of weather intensity, and oddity, grows. Droughts linger longer. Hurricanes hit harder. Snowstorms strike long after winter should have ended. World record hailstones fall. China endures a crippling drought, and then punishing floods. Millions are displaced in a flood of historic proportion in Pakistan. The U.S. sees the Mississippi River reach historic flood crests, and then sees the largest wildfire in Arizona history. None of these events on their own mean anything. Collectively, do they mean we're seeing the earth's climate change before our eyes? -- Lane Turner (47 photos total)"

Bp47 1

World War II: Before the War

In Focus has some amazing photos of World War II: Before the War. "The years leading up to the declaration of war between the Axis and Allied powers in 1939 were tumultuous times for people across the globe. The Great Depression had started a decade before, leaving much of the world unemployed and desperate. Nationalism was sweeping through Germany, and it chafed against the punitive measures of the Versailles Treaty that had ended World War I. China and the Empire of Japan had been at war since Japanese troops invaded Manchuria in 1931. Germany, Italy, and Japan were testing the newly founded League of Nations with multiple invasions and occupations of nearby countries, and felt emboldened when they encountered no meaningful consequences. The Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936, becoming a rehearsal of sorts for the upcoming World War -- Germany and Italy supported the nationalist rebels led by General Francisco Franco, and some 40,000 foreign nationals traveled to Spain to fight in what they saw as the larger war against fascism. In the last few pre-war years, Nazi Germany blazed the path to conflict -- rearming, signing a non-aggression treaty with the USSR, annexing Austria, and invading Czechoslovakia. Meanwhile, the United States passed several Neutrality Acts, trying to avoid foreign entanglements as it reeled from the Depression and the Dust Bowl years. Below is a glimpse of just some of these events leading up to World War II. (This entry is Part 1 of a weekly 20-part retrospective of World War II) [45 photos]"

S w14 70319030 1

War Photographers on the Shot That Nearly Killed Me

The Guardian has a flash-based interactive graphic The shot that nearly killed me: War photographers. It's several war photos with descriptions by the photographers of the circumstances of the photo. They'd probably hate me for this, but I found in almost case that I was more fascinated with their writing than the photo.

Also, this is one of the worst graphics I've seen in a while. The text mostly fits in the frame but a little scrolling is needed. It could have been redesigned to eliminate the scrolling. The scroll bar is not clear which is the bar and which is the background. Finally, the thumbnails of the photos too often are completely unrepresentative of the full shot. Still the text is often chilling.

Recent Astronomy Pics

I really liked these recent Astronomy Pics of the Day:

Eclipsed Moon in the Milky WayLightning Eclipse from the Planet of the Goats Last Roll Out of a NASA Space ShuttleEclipsed Moonlight

Re: Visual Multiplication and 48/2(9+3)

I saw this posted on BoingBoing by Cory Doctorow and thought it was cute:

10 Biggest Flops Of Scifi/Fantasy Film, In Illustrated Form

io9 lists the 10 Biggest Flops Of Scifi/Fantasy Film, In Illustrated Form. It's sad to say but I've seen almost every film mentioned in this article, including in the PS. None are worth watching. None. For any reason.

Three Seasons of True Blood Recapped in 5 Minutes

it's surprisingly safe-for-work, which the show most decidedly is not. I learned a couple of things (Pam is Erik's daughter) and was reminded of a lot from season 3. Season 4 premieres this Sunday June 26th.

The Best Films Of 2011…So Far

The Playlist lists The Best Films Of 2011…So Far. I've only seen five of the 14, The Tree of Life, Win Win, Submarine, Super 8, and Midnight in Paris.

My personal list has more IFFBoston films, mostly documentaries at the top.

Being Elmo
Last Days Here
El Bulli: Cooking in Progress
Win Win
How to Die in Oregon
Make Believe
Sons of Perdition
Too Big to Fail
Tree of Life
X-Men: First Class

The Scoop on Rising Food Costs has The scoop on rising food costs, mostly ice cream. "When the price of pistachios rose above $10 a pound, pistachio ice cream disappeared from Toscanini’s menu. “You won’t find pistachio ice cream too many places this summer,’’ Gus Rancatore said."

The Bruins Foxwoods Bar Tab

Bruinstab copy

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

F.B.I. Seizes Web Servers, Knocking Sites Offline

F.B.I. Seizes Web Servers, Knocking Sites Offline - "The F.B.I. seized Web servers in a raid on a data center Tuesday, causing several Web sites... to go offline." This includes Instapaper, Pinboard, Curbed and Eater.

In a note to one of its clients, a DigitalOne employee, Sergej Ostroumow, said: “This problem is caused by the F.B.I., not our company. In the night F.B.I. has taken 3 enclosures with equipment plugged into them, possibly including your server — we can not check it... F.B.I. was interesting only in one of clients and it is absolutely unintelligible, why they took servers of tens of clients. After FBI’s unprofessional ‘work’ we can not restart our own servers, that’s why our website is offline and support doesn’t work. We are still in trying to solve this problem and all our colleagues are at work since 15 hours.”

Miss USA 2011 - Should Evolution Be Taught In Schools

Here are all the contestants answering the question.

This whole notion that kids should be allowed to choose is ridiculous and not at all the point. We don't let kids choose if they should learn arithmetic. Evolution should be taught in science classes and any other beliefs can be taught in your own religious education and then your kids can choose. To those that think religion should be taught in school, I remind them that public schools are funded by the state and there's a separation of church and state here.

Miss Vermont nailed it.

Jon Stewart on Fox

On Sunday morning, Jon Stewart went on Chris Wallace's show, Fox News Sunday. Here's the whole clip.

It's generally fun but as always I wanted him to be better. I hate how he cuts himself off in mid sentence and then goes in a different direction. He's too quick to second guess the motivation for a question and too quick to cut off discussion. He did in this wonderful part, but Wallace never follows up (I wonder why), "The embarrassment is that I'm given credibility in this world because of the disappointment that the public has in what the news media does," he said. "Who are the most consistently misinformed media viewers? The most consistently misinformed? Fox, Fox viewers, consistently, every poll."

Will Bunch wrote in Salon No, Jon Stewart, you're not just a comedian. I think they're off the mark a bit. Stewart isn't wrong when he says he's just a comedian, it's a statement of his intent. He's used his platform to push for some things, most notably the 9/11 first responders, but he's stayed on the sidelines for most other things. Bunch is missing the point when he calls the DC Rally "largely pointless". People wanted it to be a political event, but it wasn't, it was a comedy and music event as Stewart and Colbert intended.

Stewart is funny and personable and because of his work he's pretty well informed on politics. There are many who would like him to do more with those traits, but he's not walking in Al Franken's shoes just yet. Still I thought his opening segment last night was particularly good at highlighting parts of his Wallace interview and then skewing the rest of the news media:

Update: James Fallows has more.

Brook Gladstone

The Influencing MachineYesterday I went to a book reading by Brook Gladstone of NPR's On The Media. She has a new book out, The Influencing Machine about the news media. It's in comics form, with a cartoon version of herself talking directly to the reader. It's premise is that while the media seems broken now, it's always been broken.

England banned the press for six years in the mid 17th century. Sure America created the first amendment, but John Adams signed the Alien and Sedition Act just 7 years later. Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1807 "Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle." George Washington invented the political leak. She seemingly covers every important president from then until now. War coverage has never been good, it's usually controlled by the government and if you see the number 50,000 in a story, question it, it's more than likely some's expert's guesstimate that's probably wrong.

She walks through several problems the press has, how it's hard to be unbiased and what counts as bias changes over time. In 1896 Adolph Ochs bought the New York Times and famously said "It will be my earnest aim that the New York Times give the news ... impartially, without fear or favor, regardless of party, sect, or interest involved ... to invite intelligent discussion from all shades of opinion." She prints the little seen rest of his quote "Nor will there be a departure from the general tone ... unless it be ... to intensify its devotion to the cause of sound money and tariff reform ... and in its advocacy of the lowest tax consistent with good government and no more government than is absolutely necessary to protect society."

Her talk yesterday was quite good. She first answered her most common question, which is why did she write this in comics form? Her answer surprised me, she said "It's the most like radio. I could speak to you through a voice balloon." She does shorten some of her statements as opposed to how she's phrase things on the radio, and said the process of learning to write for comics improved her radio writing greatly. Also, she always wanted to be Buffy the Vampire slayer and she could be all these different things (including the Statue of Liberty) in the comics. And finally, the medium ads a tone of "Don't Panic" from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy that seems to match the thesis.

The art is done by Josh Neufeld who wrote A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge which I also liked and went to a book signing of. Working with him she learned that a comic is not an illustrated book. In an illustrated book the pictures augment the words, in a comic they replace words. If this wasn't in comics form it would have been much longer. Also she started out with vague descriptions to Neufeld and he told her she needed to be much more explicit in what she wanted, which forced her to figure out what should be told in words and what should be in pictures.

At the signing I told her I still had 50 pages to go but I wasn't encouraged to learn that everything I thought was broken about the media has always been broken. She said she found that realization comforting and wrote in my book "The media have never been worse, or better."

Monday, June 20, 2011

10 physical gestures that have been patented

io9 writes about 10 physical gestures that have been patented. I can kinda see the point of patenting something like the graffiti alphabet, but the slide to unlock gesture seems ridiculous. Apple's patent on Pinch to Zoom
almost vaguely kinda seemed reasonable until I remembered Steve Jobs saying on stage, "you already know how to use it" (though I think that's from his introducing the iPad referring to what you learned from the iPhone). I think I like Nintendo's approach better.

Friday, June 17, 2011

2011 Among Most Extreme Weather Years in History

Scientific American wrote NOAA Makes It Official: 2011 Among Most Extreme Weather Years in History "Just shy of the halfway mark, 2011 has seen eight $1-billion-plus disasters, with total damages from wild weather at more than $32 billion, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Agency officials said that total could grow significantly, since they expect this year's North Atlantic hurricane season, which began June 1, will be an active one."

They attribute some of the events to climate change, but others, like tornadoes, they don't have evidence of a link.

Yikes! Lightning Strike Near KSC Launchpad

Yikes! Lightning Strike Near Kennedy Space Center LaunchpadNewImage

Votes That Pushed Us Into The Red

The Washington Post has a nice infographic on the Votes that pushed us into the red. "The reality falls somewhere in between. In fact, 75 percent of the members currently serving in Congress voted for at least one — and in most cases more than one — of three policies that contributed to fully one-third of the $12.7 trillion swing from projected surpluses to real debt: President George W. Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, funding for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and President Obama's 2009 stimulus bill."


Chartball has some interesting interactive graphics of baseball and football stats. (flash required)

Duncan Blasts "Useless" Air Marshal Service

John Duncan (R-TN) Blasts "Useless" Air Marshal Service.

"In fact, more air marshals have been arrested than the number of people arrested by air marshals.
We now have approximately 4,000 in the Federal Air Marshals Service, yet they have made an average of just 4.2 arrests a year since 2001. This comes out to an average of about one arrest a year per 1,000 employees. Now, let me make that clear. Their thousands of employees are not making one arrest per year each. They are averaging slightly over four arrests each year by the entire agency. In other words, we are spending approximately $200 million per arrest."

He wants to save $860 million by not funding the agency. Sounds good to me. I assume there's a more effective way to use that money for stimulus.

Update: Sigh, my bad, this is from 2009. Serves me right for following links from twitter.

The 100 Greatest Non-Fiction Books

The Guardian lists The 100 greatest non-fiction books "After keen debate at the Guardian's books desk, this is our list of the very best factual writing, organised by category, and then by date. "

I've read only two of them, though I own several.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

15 New Words From the 1927 Webster's International Directory

Alexis Madrigal writes in The Atlantic 15 New Words From the 1927 Webster's International Directory "Among the teetering stacks of books, I came across a gorgeous 1927 Webster's International New Dictionary, and paging through it at Karloff down the street, I found myself drawn to the NEW WORDS section. These words were not invented in 1927, but represent additions to the book since its original publication in 1909. So, what we're capturing here is change between 1909 and 1927, a fascinating historical moment of great technological and social change. Automobiles spread. Electricity becomes common. Airplanes! World War! Bolshevism! Nuclear physics! Jazz!"

Top 10 Quotable Movies

Time lists the Top 10 Quotable Movies. Most are okay choices:

10. Napoleon Dynamite
9. Clueless
8. Glengarry Glen Ross
7. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
6. The Wizard of Oz
5. Top Gun
4. The Godfather
3. Casablanca
2. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
1. The Big Lebowski

I wouldn't put Clueless or Anchorman on the list. And I think only Alec Baldwin is quotable in Glengarry. Instead I'd put In The Loop, Pulp Fiction, and The Lost Skeletons of Cadavra on the list.

What would be on your list?

Robert Reich Explains the Economy in 2:15

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Essential Krugman Posts

Paul Krugman collects previous Macro Readings Update. "As I mentioned in an earlier post, I often have the sense that many of this readers of this blog are, in effect, entering in the middle of a conversation, not aware of the steps by which I got to the latest argument. This is especially true on issues of macroeconomics. So I thought it might be useful to maintain, for some time, a list of links to earlier posts that lay out some basic ideas I use repeatedly. Here they are as a blog post; in the near future they’ll become a standing feature on the right side of this page."

Great Photos

In Focus shows Scenes From Underground "Caves and tunnels have always been part of human life. We've grown more adept at shaping these underground shelters and passages over the millennia, and today we dig for hundreds of reasons. We excavate to find both literal and cultural treasures, digging mines and unearthing archaeological discoveries. We use caverns for stable storage, for entertainment, and for an effective shelter from natural and man-made disasters. And as the planet's surface becomes ever more crowded, and national borders are closed, tunnels provide pathways for our vehicles and for smugglers of every kind. Collected below are some recent subterranean scenes from around the world. [36 photos]"

The Big Picture shows Japan: three months after the quake. "Japan continues to deal with the enormous task of cleaning up and moving forward three months after the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that devastated the northeast coast. Local authorities are still dealing with the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, and now the rainy season, which could increase the risk of disease as workers clear away the debris, is approaching. Collected here are images from this past weekend marking the three-month point, as well then-and-now images of the destruction shot by Kyodo News via the Associated Press. -- Lloyd Young (29 photos total)"

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Improved Conditions for Florida Tomato-Harvest Workers

Mark Bittman wrote Improved Conditions for Florida Tomato-Harvest Workers. "The tomato fields of Immokalee are vast and surreal. An unplanted field looks like a lousy beach: the “soil,” which is white sand, contains little in the way of nutrients and won’t hold any water. To grow tomatoes there requires mind-boggling amounts of fertilizers, fungicides and pesticides (on roughly the same acreage of tomatoes, Florida uses about eight times as many chemicals as California). The tomatoes are, in effect, grown hydroponically, and the sand seems useful mostly as a medium for holding stakes in place."

Thieves Found Citigroup Site an Easy Entry

Thieves Found Citigroup Site an Easy Entry. "In the Citi breach, the data thieves were able to penetrate the bank’s defenses by first logging on to the site reserved for its credit card customers. Once inside, they leapfrogged between the accounts of different Citi customers by inserting various account numbers into a string of text located in the browser’s address bar. The hackers’ code systems automatically repeated this exercise tens of thousands of times — allowing them to capture the confidential private data."

The title of the article is correct, the body of the article makes it sound like it was a sophisticated attack. It looks like CitiBank had the account number in the URL and only did validation on the first hit of the session. That's rather stupid of them. It would have been stupid to do this at any time in the last ten years. For a bank to structure a system this way should have been criminal. There's no excuse.

Dissecting an Episode of MythBusters

Thomas Baekdal on Dissecting an Episode of MythBusters.

Mythbusters2 copy

"Even more interesting is how they then put it all together. How do you get people to watch 16 minutes of advertising, every hour?"

A Bad Auto-Translation Feedback Loop

An 'Economic Burden' Google Can No Longer Bear? "Google is dropping an automatic-translation tool, because overuse by spam-bloggers is flooding the internet with sloppily translated text, which in turn is making computerized translation even sloppier."

Friday, June 10, 2011

How to Sabotage the Government

A spokesman for Mitch McConnell says they won't approve any nominee to the head the CFPB (not just Elizabeth Warren). Kevin Drum, says, "Points for honesty, I guess. The Senate's breakdown over its core function of confirming presidential nominees is now complete: Republicans aren't just filibustering a particular nominee, they're filibustering any nominee as a way of preventing a regulatory agency from doing its job."

How Cato Lies

Mathew Yglesias writes Spending And Jobs.

Banks Should Keep Your Data as Safe as Your Money

Banks Should Keep Your Data as Safe as Your Money "Banks might indeed be loath to admit it, but the Times delicately hints at the reason this keeps happening: banks don't care. And the reason they don't care is because there are no serious penalties for these kinds of breaches and consumers have no ability to sue over them. What's more, it's consumers who end up having to clean up the mess if the hack results in ID theft or some other kind of fraud, not the banks. So why bother?"

Supernovae Discoveries

Supernova Discovered in M51 The Whirlpool Galaxy. "A new supernova (exploding star) has been discovered in the famous Whirlpool Galaxy, M51."

2011 06 02 M51L300002 580x383 copy

Almost 25 years ago another supernova was seen in the LMC and astronomers have been looking at it since. "Now, the supernova debris, which has faded over the years, is brightening. This means that a different power source has begun to light the debris. The debris of SN 1987A is beginning to impact the surrounding ring, creating powerful shock waves that generate X-rays observed with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. Those X-rays are illuminating the supernova debris and shock heating is making it glow in visible light."

Hs 2011 21 a web

No New Particle After All

I posted last night about Fermilab, but No new particle after all: Tevatron's second detector comes up empty.

Voyager Finds Magnetic Bubbles at the Edge of the Solar System

NASA writes A Big Surprise from the Edge of the Solar System.

"'The Voyager probes appear to have entered a strange realm of frothy magnetic bubbles," says astronomer Merav Opher of Boston University. "This is very surprising.'

According to computer models, the bubbles are large, about 100 million miles wide, so it would take the speedy probes weeks to cross just one of them. Voyager 1 entered the 'foam-zone' around 2007, and Voyager 2 followed about a year later. At first researchers didn't understand what the Voyagers were sensing--but now they have a good idea.

'The sun's magnetic field extends all the way to the edge of the solar system,' explains Opher. 'Because the sun spins, its magnetic field becomes twisted and wrinkled, a bit like a ballerina's skirt. Far, far away from the sun, where the Voyagers are now, the folds of the skirt bunch up.'"

The Banking Emperor Has No Clothes

Simon Johnson wrote The Banking Emperor Has No Clothes "Unfortunately, there are three major mistakes in Mr. Geithner’s speech: his history is completely wrong; his logic is deeply flawed; and his interpretation of the Dodd-Frank reform does not mesh with the legal facts regarding how the failure of a global megabank could be handled.  Added together, this suggests one of our most powerful policymakers is headed very much in the wrong direction."

Sarah Palin Snub by Margaret Thatcher Aides

The Guardian writes Sarah Palin snub by Margaret Thatcher aides infuriates US rightwing.

Pretty funny: "One Thatcher ally told the Guardian: 'Lady Thatcher will not be seeing Sarah Palin. That would be belittling for Margaret. Sarah Palin is nuts.'"

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Periodic Table of Storytelling

Periodic Table of Storytelling.

Fermilab is this close to discovering a brand new subatomic particle

io9 writes Fermilab is this close to discovering a brand new subatomic particle "So just what is this new particle, assuming that's actually what it is? We know it's not the elusive Higgs boson, because its signature doesn't even remotely match what the Higgs would do at that energy level. The current best guess is that it's some sort of new gauge boson, or perhaps a pair made up of the well-understood W bosons and some other mysterious partner."

Austerity Bites

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities posted Austerity Bites in late April (yes I'm catching up on my Instapaper queue).

4 28 11fig1

"Is this really the time for Congress to be debating how fast it can cut government spending, rather than how to keep the economic recovery from losing momentum? Is this really the time for Fed Chairman Bernanke to act as though inflation concerns preclude any further monetary stimulus, even though the Fed’s announcement yesterday pointed to the economy’s “low rates of resource utilization, subdued inflation trends, and stable inflation expectations”?"

Ezra Klein commented, "And note that the reduction in government spending was, too some degree, accidental. That’s mostly the Defense Department delaying some investments. If we decide to start cutting spending in a more determined fashion, we’ll learn that that line can dip a lot lower."

Inside HBOs The Wire

I'm not sure how I missed this at the time (2007) but Inside HBOs The Wire is an interesting look at some of the technical details of filming a TV show.

"So what major differences does Joe Chappelle see between directing a show like The Wire versus a wildly popular mainstream series like CSI Miami? He was very frank in his reply. "For CSI Miami there's a formula. It would be like this: you do your masters in 18mm, big wide masters with the characters small in the frame and then, when you go into your coverage, nothing wider than a 75. On a show like CSI we would never, or at least rarely, use anything between an 18 and a 75 -- 18 and wider or 75 and longer. That's the style. It was always super-wide head to toe and then waist-up. Rarely would we ever do a shot from knees up. And we'd always have two cameras rolling. The A camera was waist-up and the B camera would be right next to it doing that (he demonstrates very tight framing of his face with his hands). That was the coverage. In terms of lighting, CSI Miami is very colorful, but in terms of camera it's very simple. Big wide master then super long lens coverage. And the more you're outside the longer (the lens) you can go. In terms of a show it was very rigorous. There was a formula and, as a director you're expected to fill that formula."

"The Wire is the opposite of this formulaic approach. It's very loose and well, there really isn't a formula, instead there's a lot of room for interpretation. Be it handheld, long lenses, whatever. We're cowboys, using focal lengths of our own choosing," chuckles Chappelle. "There's a tremendous latitude built into the aesthetic of the show, so we have choices. The DP has choices, the Director has choices, whatever helps build that moment, we're given that latitude. We can work with a wide assortment of lenses. In primes we have a 17.5, a 21, a 35, a 50, a 75, a 100, a 150 as well as some long zooms. Handhelds would usually be 35 and wider, but we might go with a 75 or a hundred if there's not a lot of moving around." Only a few times in the show's first four years have crane shots been employed. "It's not that anything is or isn't the look of the show, more a case of there not being hard and fast rules.""

PBS, Now With Commercial Breaks

The Atlantic Wire wrote PBS, Now With Commercial Breaks. "PBS executives announced recently that their famously uninterrupted programming would soon be interrupted with commercials just like all the other TV stations. "

"Under the new model there will be no break between shows, a strategy know as the "hot switch" in the industry. It looks something like this:"

PbsskedMay2011larger copy

Our Infrastructure Deficit

Jared Bernstein wrote Our Infrastructure Deficit: This Time, It’s Persona explaining that it would be really worthwhile to spend to fix out failing public infrastructure.

The Hard Truth About Health Care

Ezra Klein wrote The hard truth about health care - The Washington Post "But that’s the choice we’ve been left with: a plan that has never worked or a plan that’s never been tried. As for the approach that’s helped every other industrialized country achieve universal coverage at about half our costs? Well, we’re still not ready to talk about that."

The Ecnomist's Democracy in America blog explains, One way capitalism can make health care worse and more expensive. "Just think about this for a minute. A medical technology company is going public to generate the money it needs to advertise its products to hospital directors and insurance-company reimbursement officers. This entails significant extra expenditures for marketing, the new stocks issued to fund the marketing will ultimately have to pay dividends, banks will have to be paid to supervise the IPO that was needed to generate the funds to finance the marketing campaign (presumably charging the industry-cartel standard 7%)...and all this will have to be paid for by driving up the price the company charges to deliver its technologies. But beyond the added expense, why would anyone think that a system in which marketing plays such a large role is likely to be more effective, to lead to better treatment, than the kind of process of expert review that governs grant awards at NIH or publishing decisions at peer-reviewed journals? Why do we think that a system in which ads for Claritin are all over the subways will generate better overall health results than one where a national review board determines whether Claritin delivers treatment outcomes for some populations sufficiently superior to justify its added expense over similar generics? What do we expect from a system in which, as ProPublica reports today, body imaging companies hire telemarketers to sell random people CT scans over the phone?"

Newt Gingrich Advisers Resign En Masse

Politico writes Newt Gingrich advisers resign en masse "Gingrich was intent on using technology and standing out at debates to get traction while his advisers believed he needed to run a campaign that incorporated both traditional, grassroots techniques as well as new ideas."

That doesn't really make a lot of sense to me.

"One official said the last straw came when Gingrich went forward with taking a long-planned cruise with his wife last week in the Greek isles."

That makes more sense. Newt just wants the notoriety that comes with running for President so he can make money on his fame. He doesn't expect to win (and maybe even doesn't want to).

Movie Review: X-Men: First Class

I enjoyed X-Men: First Class, it's almost as good X2. They did a nice job inventing a new origin for the movie characters (vs the comics) and had some nice nods to the present day movies.

A prequel that's the fifth film in a series has the issue that it's not quite an origin story and that some of the outcome is known. X-Men: First Class navigates this well. It's mostly the origin of Magneto, not so much the origin of his powers but rather his world view. He's a survivor of Nazi concentration camps, which the comics effectively added to his background in the eighties. The Hellfire Club (another 80s creation) is an underground organization of evil mutants seeking world domination. Sebastian Shaw and the White Witch are the villains orchestrating the Cuban Missile Crisis. The CIA learns about mutants and seeks Xavier to help and he puts together a team including Magneto and a collection of mutants from different eras of the comics.

It works because the basic premise of the X-Men is about a group of outsiders who just want to fit in. Xavier wants them to remain secret until they feel comfortable with themselves and the world is ready for them. Erik thinks there is nothing to hide and they have to make the world accept them. Shaw just wants to eliminate everyone and rule. Combine this with a little bit of teenagers coming of age and there's enough grounding to build a summer movie on. The film confuses it's 1962 setting with the later sixties, but the miniskirts and SR-71 and general Bond-like nature add to the fun.

Both James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender were good casting choices. They played very well off of each other and did as well as Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in the first movies. Kevin Bacon was a bit over the top as Shaw but that was okay in this case as he is the main villain but isn't the one the story really depends on. Jennifer Lawrence, who I loved in Winter's Bone did ok as Mystique. The story loses her character a little but for someone who was around Charles as long as she was, she never picked up his confidence and that showed in Lawrence's performance. January Jones played Emma Frost with as little emotion as she plays every other character. The others are fine though aren't given much. At first it looks like Moira (who's been turned from a geneticist in the comics to a CIA agent in the film) would be a fun Emma Peel kind of character but then she's mostly forgotten.

The film is a bit sexist. They tried to explain it given the inequalities of the era with a few references of women serving drinks or not being useful in the CIA, but not quite enough. Every female character appeared in their underwear (including all the extras). None of the men did. Well, one woman was hit on in a bar and another was killed in a concentration camp. For a film about how minorities are treated it seems a mistake.

X-Men First Class kept me interested the whole time. Like the first two movies, I thought the characters behaved and fought as if they really had these powers. I enjoyed Azazel's teleportation fighting style as much as I did Nightcrawler's in X2. The more minor characters are forgotten a bit too much in the final battle but I still liked it. I appreciated that both Xavier's and Erik's methods had merits and flaws. It strikes me as wrong that Xavier basically wanted to keep mutants in the closet.

Rick Santorum: Climate Change is Patently Absurd and a Liberal Conspiracy

TPM writes Rick Santorum: The Idea Of Climate Change Is A Liberal Conspiracy.

"I believe the earth gets warmer and I also believe the earth gets cooler, and I think history points out that it does that and that the idea that man, through the production of CO2 -- which is a trace gas in the atmosphere, and the manmade part of that trace gas is itself a trace gas -- is somehow responsible for climate change is, I think, just patently absurd."

"To me this is an opportunity for the left to create -- it's really a beautifully concocted scheme because they know that the earth is gonna cool and warm. It's been on a warming trend so they said, 'Oh, let's take advantage of that and say that we need the government to come in and regulate your life some more because it's getting warmer."

"He has also said that intelligent design 'is a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes.'"

Pennsylvania, this man was your Senator for 12 years. You elected him twice. He's delusional.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

U.S. Is Intensifying a Secret Campaign of Yemen Airstrikes

The New York Times reports U.S. Is Intensifying a Secret Campaign of Yemen Airstrikes "The Obama administration has intensified the American covert war in Yemen, exploiting a growing power vacuum in the country to strike at militant suspects with armed drones and fighter jets, according to American officials."

And the top story on Google News is still about a guy named Weiner.

Alaska Airlines Replaces Pilot Manuals With iPads

USA Today writes Alaska Airlines replaces pilot manuals with iPads.

"As part of his daily routine for the last 15 years, Alaska Airlines pilot Randy Kleiger hauled his 40-pound airline manuals onto his jet, using them to check everything from routing information and company policies to airport parking. But the 1,000-plus pages of paper are soon to be history, thanks to his employer's decision to ditch the manuals by mid-June in favor of the Apple iPad for the entire Alaska Airlines fleet."

It does seem a little more risky but the article does point out some benefits. The info is more up-to-date, faster to find and is so much lighter it uses less fuel. That said, in spite of the article, I'm sure there's nothing preventing them from playing Angry Birds or watching a movie, neither of which requires a net connection. Then again, pilots can probably already do this on their phones.

In bad turbulence I wonder which is worse getting hit in the head with.

There’s a Secret Patriot Act?

Two weeks ago Spencer Ackerman wrote There’s a Secret Patriot Act, Senator Says. "“We’re getting to a gap between what the public thinks the law says and what the American government secretly thinks the law says,” Wyden told Danger Room in an interview in his Senate office. “When you’ve got that kind of a gap, you’re going to have a problem on your hands.” What exactly does Wyden mean by that? As a member of the intelligence committee, he laments that he can’t precisely explain without disclosing classified information. But one component of the Patriot Act in particular gives him immense pause: the so-called “business-records provision,” which empowers the FBI to get businesses, medical offices, banks and other organizations to turn over any “tangible things” it deems relevant to a security investigation."

I know the Patriot Act was renewed but I don't know about any specific provisions. I read it the first time around, I haven't read it since. Some of the law was understandable, other parts I really needed the ACLU interpretation to distinguished things like now it only requires a magistrate before it required a court order and that's much harder.

The Most Complete Map of the Universe

Just because I like these things. Last week The Atlantic wrote The Most Complete Map of the Universe "A team at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has rendered a 3-D image of the cosmos out to a distance of 380 million light-years away. This is the biggest thing you're going to look at a picture of today. The map, known as the 2MASS Redshift Survey (2MRS), depicts 95 percent of the night sky and is said to be the most complete local map of the universe ever created. "

Universe map copy

Paul Ryan and Ezra Klein

Last week Klein listed Eight Questions for Paul Ryan. Surprisingly Paul Ryan responded and then Klein followed up Responding to Ryan. All worth reading and I haven't seen any followup since.

How you can tell Washington doesn't care about jobs

Ezra Klein wrote last week, How you can tell Washington doesn't care about jobs "The best evidence that Washington has forgotten about the jobs crisis is to look at the plans emerging to address it. Yesterday's House GOP plan was a perfect example. It was, as MIT economist David Autor told me, a classic case of "now-more-than-everism": Everything on the agenda was also on the GOP's agenda in 2006, in 2002, in 1987, etc. It's lower taxes, less spending, fewer regulations, more trade agreements, more domestic oil production. You can argue about whether these proposals are good for the economy. But as Autor says, there's "no original thinking here directed at addressing the employment problem.""

What you need to know about iTunes Match

Ars answers What you need to know about iTunes Match. "If you don't renew the yearly $25 subscription, your iCloud store goes away. iTunes purchases will still be available to all devices, and anything that you have downloaded from iCloud to you devices you keep. This includes iTunes Plus versions you have chosen to replace older, lower quality rips in your main iTunes library. Apple explained that replacing those lower-quality rips is optional."

I'm impressed.

The US IPO cartel

Felix Salmon writes The US IPO cartel "Mark Abrahamson, Tim Jenkinson, and Howard Jones, of Oxford University, have an utterly compelling paper out proving that there’s collusion among investment banks in the US — it doesn’t matter whether they’re European or American banks — to keep IPO proceeds set at 7%. Using a very high-quality new dataset, they compare US and European IPOs, and get the following result. This chart just shows IPO fees for deals between $25 million and $100 million (in 2007 dollars)."

Ipo copy

Worth a read, and an investigation.

Slate's Hollywood Career-o-Matic

Slate wrote What Rotten Tomatoes data tell us about the best, worst, and most bizarre Hollywood trajectories "With that in mind, use Slate's Hollywood Career-o-Matic tool below to map the career of any major actor or director from the last 26 years. You can also type in more than one name to plot careers side by side. For example, Paul Thomas Anderson vs. Wes Anderson vs. Pamela Anderson. Mouse over the data points to see which movies they represent. (We've included only actors and directors who've released at least five films between 1985 and March of this year, according to the RT data, to filter out thousands of bit-actors you've probably never heard of.)"

Food Supply Under Strain on a Warming Planet

The New York Times wrote Food Supply Under Strain on a Warming Planet. "The rapid growth in farm output that defined the late 20th century has slowed to the point that it is failing to keep up with the demand for food, driven by population increases and rising affluence in once-poor countries.

Consumption of the four staples that supply most human calories — wheat, rice, corn and soybeans — has outstripped production for much of the past decade, drawing once-large stockpiles down to worrisome levels. The imbalance between supply and demand has resulted in two huge spikes in international grain prices since 2007, with some grains more than doubling in cost.

Those price jumps, though felt only moderately in the West, have worsened hunger for tens of millions of poor people, destabilizing politics in scores of countries, from Mexico to Uzbekistan to Yemen. The Haitian government was ousted in 2008 amid food riots, and anger over high prices has played a role in the recent Arab uprisings.

Now, the latest scientific research suggests that a previously discounted factor is helping to destabilize the food system: climate change.

Many of the failed harvests of the past decade were a consequence of weather disasters, like floods in the United States, drought in Australia and blistering heat waves in Europe and Russia. Scientists believe some, though not all, of those events were caused or worsened by human-induced global warming."

Military spending: Defence Costs

The Economist wrote Military spending: Defence costs with this graphic:


Steve Jobs Reveals Apple's New Campus

Engadget writes Steve Jobs reveals Apple's new spaceship campus, calls it the 'best office building in the world'. "Shortly after taking the stage at WWDC, Steve Jobs made an appearance before the Cupertino City Council to pitch the local governing body on Apple's ambition to build a new campus. The site for the curvaceous, four-story, "human-scale" building to house 13,000 employees is the original home of HP's computer systems division, land that was recently sold to Apple. The property is currently covered by a series of big asphalt parking lots. Apple's plan would increase the landscape coverage from 20 to 80 percent with the help of a senior arborist from Stanford who will help restore some of the indigenous plant life to the property, including the apricot orchards. Apple plans to make the campus' energy center the facility's primary power generator using natural gas and other "clean energy" sources -- the city would simply provide backup power when needed."

Here's the video of the presentation. It's pretty embarrassing watching the city council fawn all over him, but the building is really impressive.

Volcano erupts in Chile

Now the Big Picture covers the Volcano erupting in Chile and I think the pictures are even better. "The eruption of the Puyehue volcano in the Andes mountains of southern Chile last weekend provided some spectacular images of the force of nature. Ash covers the landscape and thousands of people were evacuated from the surrounding rural communities. The volcano, which hasn't been active since 1960 when it erupted after an earthquake, sent its plume of ash 6 miles high across Argentina and toward the Atlantic Ocean. -- Lloyd Young (33 photos total)"

Bp15 copyBp1 copyBp32 copy

US Disasters Mapped

US disasters mapped "This shows the totals of every disaster declared an emergency by Fema since 1953 by state. Click on a state to see the data - or click the dropdown menu to choose different types of disasters to map"

For Republicans, Do The Benefits Of Fanaticism Outweigh The Costs?

Jonathan Chiat has an interesting article in The New Republic on the differences between the Republican and Democratic parties, For Republicans, Do The Benefits Of Fanaticism Outweigh The Costs?. "For Senate Democrats, the idea of casting an unpopular vote that won’t result in a bill-signing is beyond preposterous. Democrats in Congress need to have their arms twisted even to vote for controversial bills that would become law. Republicans, on the other hand, want to shift the terms of the debate and will gladly lose seats to do it. Both parties have succeeded at their goals."

Mass Grave Report in Texas Proves False

Mass Grave Report in Texas Proves False.

"The police in East Texas were led on a fruitless search on Tuesday evening when a woman, claiming to be a psychic, called in a sensational tip, saying she knew of a mass grave where dozens of dismembered bodies were buried.

Equipped with a search warrant and cadaver-sniffing dogs, deputies from the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office converged on a home on a narrow country road near Hardin — about an hour outside Houston — in search of a macabre crime scene. The news of a mass grave in rural Texas set off a news media frenzy: throngs of reporters camped outside the home, two news helicopters circled above, and cable news stations flashed alerts that up to 30 bodies had been found.

But in the end, there was no grave, there were no bodies and there was no sign that any crime had been committed — except, perhaps, the misleading call that created the spectacle in the first place."

Apparently all that's needed to get a search warrant in Texas is psychic evidence. And who told the media about the possible crime before the investigation?

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Chrysler Paid in Full? covers President Obama when he said Chrysler Paid in Full?. "Notice the president — sounding very much like a used-car salesman — used the phrases "during my watch" and "under my watch" when describing the TARP loans as being "completely repaid." That's because Chrysler received $4 billion on Jan. 2, 2009, (18 days before Obama took office) and $8.5 billion on April 30 (when Obama was president), according to this Government Accountability Office report (page 9) on TARP. The Obama administration claims that its investment in Chrysler has been "completely repaid" because the $10.6 billion repaid is larger than the $8.5 billion loan the company received while Obama was in office. "

Sigh, he really shouldn't resort to this crap. Saying they repaid 85% wouldn't have been good enough?

Palin’s Twist on Paul Revere

I've heard the wikipedia page is being edited back and forth. covers Palin’s Twist on Paul Revere.

What Do I Think?

I got email today from They asked "I'd love to hear what you're thinking right now. What do you take away from the news recently? What are you excited about? What do you want from MoveOn?" This is what I wrote:

There are three things that really bother me with today's politics.

1. That Republicans state falsehoods constantly and are not called on it. This isn't just a few people, it becomes their platform. By this I mean things like climate change isn't happening, that the rise in gas prices is deliberate by the administration (Hailey Barber this weekend), that the debt caused the financial crises, that high regulation is preventing the recovery, that corporate taxes are too high, that Democrats cut medicare, that Paul Ryans plan isn't vouchers, death panels, that unions caused the financial crisis, birthers, etc. etc.

It bothers me that they say this and more so that they get away with it. They say it on news programs and the so called journalists never point out the falsehoods. If it's a one-on-one interview maybe there's one followup question and then they move on. Or it's a situation where there's one Republican and one Democrat and the Democrat just never says the Republican is wrong or lying. The politicians come into these interviews with their own facts memorized and not enough knowledge of the issues to correct the other's misstatements. That used to be the job of journalists, but they've stopped doing it. They've even stopped pointing out politicians own inconsistencies and hypocrisies, only John Stewart is doing that now.

We can't have a real debate or rationally govern if one side is lying (or at best wrong) all the time.

2. That Democrats are just treading water and not espousing a progressive alternative to the Republican fictions. We should not be talking about how many trillions to cut from the deficit in order to raise the debt limit, we should be presenting a view saying we need more stimulus spending to grow the economy to not repeat the mistakes of 1937. We should be talking about a public option or expanding medicare to lower the cost of health care and not just what the federal government spends on it. We should be closing Guantanamo and trying prisoners in US courts because we can handle it. We should be appointing people like Peter Diamond, Goodwin Liu, and Elizabeth Warren because they're qualified and elections have consequences. We should be preventing climate change because it's real and we want to protect the planet.

They might be trying to work these things behind the scenes, but the Republicans are winning in the court of ideas. The Democrats have given up on using public opinion to push politicians in Washington to do the right thing. The facts have a liberal bias, use them to help you win!

3. And of course the real issue is that we are not addressing the issues. The media and Washington obsess on various scandals and circuses (Arnold, Weiner, Trump, Palin, etc.) and doesn't spend any time on the real things that matter. It's the economy stupid. Jobs. We need to get jobs going and we need stimulus to do it. Keynes was right, all the data in the last 3 years has said so, we need stimulus not austerity (which is not working in Europe). But now its just conventional wisdom that it's not going to happen. So what are we supposed to do?

We need real financial reform and regulation of derivatives or we're likely to have another financial crisis that is worse because the banks now are even bigger. They still have all these toxic assets on their books and are zombies, even as they rake in record profits. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is fine (but it does need a head) but we really need derivative regulation because that's what caused the crisis. And we need sensible regulation of the power industries to prevent oil spills, coal mine and nuclear disasters and to figure out safe distances between industrial wind farms and fraking sites and residential neighborhoods. We need to rebuild our infrastructure because it's falling apart and it will provide jobs.

We need to get out of Afghanistan and close Guantanmo and stop giving up our privacy and civil rights. The fourth amendment applies to our electronic conversations too and we shouldn't be renewing the Patriot Act in the dark of night. We need to be paying our teachers more and educating our children; if only so they know enough math so that they know when politicians are lying to them about the economy.

And we need to get money out of politics or none of this will happen.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Chile's Puyehue Volcano Erupts

In Focus says Chile's Puyehue Volcano Erupts. "On Saturday, a volcano in the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle chain of south-central Chile erupted after lying dormant for more than 50 years. The government evacuated several thousand residents as Puyehue threw ash more than 6 miles (10 km) into the sky, pushing the plume toward neighboring Argentina. Authorities had already put the area around the volcano on alert after a flurry of earthquakes earlier on Saturday -- at one point, the tremors reached an average of 230 per hour. Collected here are a handful of spectacular photographs of the eruption this weekend and its effects in Chile and Argentina. [21 photos]"

S p17 RTR2NCAE copy

I don't understand how you can look at that photo and not want to look at the rest.

Apple's WWDC Keynote

Apple started their World Wide Developer's Conference today and in the Keynote announced new features. It was split into three parts, Mac, iOS and iCloud.

OS X Lion

We knew 10.7 will be called Lion and most of the features shown. Most of them seem to be solving problems I don't have. The one thing I saw that I have been wanting is a double tap gesture to auto-zoom on a page. iOS has gotten me used to that. And I see OS X finally gets a Windows feature, "You can now resize a window from any side or corner."

I'm good with using a lot of apps and switching between them effectively (I hide apps with Command-H and several Quicksilver triggers), so Mission Control isn't that interesting to me. I think I have too many apps for Launchpad though maybe that's a problem in and of itself. I also don't particularly care about full screen app support. I tend to like having multiple things up and like being able to share stuff between apps easily (something iOS is not yet good at). Though this is probably more important to notebook users with small screens.

The resume feature for apps sounds nice at first, and it might be nice for system reboots to bring everything back the way it was. But now I'll have to remember to close a document before quitting the app if I don't want to see it when I reopen the app (for a new document). A new version of Mail I can't get particularly excited about, even though it's an app I use all the time. I didn't find the search dialog box particularly difficult to use. One thing I think I will miss is scroll bars. I like some on-screen indication of where in a document I am.

AirDrop is cute way to share files with others, but it's limited to mac-to-mac only and only if they are nearby. There are other working solutions for this already. Auto-save is a good addition, but hasn't been a problem for me. I'm curious as to how various apps will integrate versioning. What does it mean for say iPhoto or Garage Band? And how does it differ from and integrate with Time Machine? I'm guess, much like MS Office apps, they are now storing deltas of previous versions in the doc file and the UI is just borrowed from Time Machine. Not bad but highlighting diffs would be a nice addition. They say "When you share a document — through email, iChat, or AirDrop, for instance — only the current version is sent; all other versions remain on your Mac." This is good to avoid the publishing a document with old edits problem that seems to all to often affect government officials. But how does this work? What if I ftp the file via Cyberduck, are the versions stripped out?

The Mac App Store additions seem nice but they haven't solved the problem of making me rebuy all the apps I have. They described iTunes Match in the iCloud section and if they can do that for music, they should be able to do that for my apps. Also they say Lion will be available from the App Store exclusively. My sister is still running Leopard, which doesn't have the app store, how is she supposed to upgrade?

Still $30 for Lion is crazy cheap. Apple seems to be devaluing software, even as they create some of the best around.

iOS 5

I'm a bit more interested in the changes in iOS 5. The notification center is a nice update as the current notification system is annoying.

The Safari changes look very nice. I've missed Reader on the iPad and it will be great on the iPhone.
I think tabs will be much easier than the thumbnail model that exists now. Reading List looks pretty nice and it might supplant Instapaper (at least for mac users). I have been looking for an easy way to move stuff from the desktop to the iPad and back again (it's nicer to read something long on the iPad sitting in a comfy chair). Instapaper can mostly do this but I tend to put stuff in there and forget about it. Reading List (particularly with the iCloud stuff might be easier.

The Camera additions are very welcome. I've been annoyed at how long it takes me to get the camera ready for a picture, and I have it on my bottom apps tray. The Camera button on the lock screen is great. I'm also glad they stole using the volume up button as a shutter from a Camera app they previously banned from the app store for doing so. Between grid lines, focus and exposure settings, and simple editing features, it looks like there's no need for Camera+ now (though I suspect Camera+ is a little nicer on all of these features).

iMessage is a new messaging system that lets you send messages to other iOS users. iPads and iPod Touches aren't phones so they can't send SMS messages and this lets them do so. Though it's not really sms, it just arrives in the same Messages app, so you have to know what device your recipient has.

Reminders is either going to be very good or another Notes app (which is to say very bad). There are lots of task managers (aka todo list apps) in the app store though none is really great. The Hit List is one that's about to come out that I'm very interested in (I've been beta testing it). Reminders could kill this market segment but I'm guessing not. Todo's look limited. There are no mentions of repeats, priorities, due dates, or attachments. The locations feature sounds cool, but I'm not sure how useful it will be in real life.

Twitter integration is kinda interesting. On the one hand, since many different apps allow ubiquitous features like "send email" or "view in safari" so "tweet this" seems like a similarly useful thing. Though I'd think share on Facebook would be more useful for more people. I'd really want it to support multiple accounts and I suspect every reviewer would want to as well (since they probably tweet to both work and personal accounts).

I suspect the PC Free stuff for the iPad will be a big deal. The iPad can now really be the computer for your grandparents. Since I do have a computer, Wi-Fi sync will be really nice.

The system-wide built-in dictionary looks quite nice as does the new split keyboard for thumb typing on the iPad.

I know publishers are very excited about Newsstand. I don't know if people will browse it the same way they do physical ones, but maybe it will help.


The big new announcement was iCloud. This is their new cloud service that replaces MobileMe. Most of it is expected but there are a few details I'm not sure of. First off it syncs contacts, mail and calendar events, between all your devices. It also syncs your apps, books, and device settings. Apparently there's real wireless backup to the cloud of your whole device. There are APIs available so third party apps can make use of this.

It also syncs your photos. Take a picture with an iPhone and it's automatically (and immediately) uploaded and pushed to your other devices. It will probably be on your iPad when you pick it up. That's pretty slick. They will store in the cloud the the last 1,000 photos for up to 30 days. They display in iPhoto or the iOS Photos app as just another stream, like albums and camera roll and events. If you want to keep them longer, just drag them to a new album. Apple TV can even display photos in iCloud. Slick. So they do appear on the devices easily but you do have to remember to copy them to some place if you want them for more than 30 days.

For music, it's a little easier. Buy a song from iTunes on any device and it's pushed to iTunes on all your devices. I assume this is configurable so you don't run out of space on your iPhone. But the "one more thing" is for songs you've ripped from CD or obtained some other way. Since the iTunes Store has 18 million songs, they can just compare the metadata of the songs you have in iTunes, find out what you have and push those songs to your other devices. Unlike with photos (or Amazon's and Google's music cloud service), there's no need to upload the original. That's a big win, though it is subject to piracy. If people have illegal copies this could launder them into legal ones, so this costs $25/year. It's not clear what happens after a year. Do versions you've downloaded get deleted from all your devices? Their wording is a little cagy. I think what happens is you don't download copies of the songs (which would be amnesty) but you get to stream your music from iTunes Match. So after a year you no longer can stream. Thats not so bad. I already copy via wired sync any songs I want to my device (I have about 6000 songs I've ripped from my CDs legally) so once they're there, they're there. Now (for $25/year) I can listen to any song I own even if I forgot to sync it from wherever I am, provided I have an Apple device with me, which is likely and have an Internet connection which is less likely but still reasonable.

The last service is Documents in the cloud which solves the problem of getting Pages, Numbers and Keynote documents to and from your iOS device. They just sync wirelessly as they autosave every change you make. What's not clear to me is if it makes it to the mac. Jobs said between all iOS devices but then said the APIs work to macs and PC too. But I'm not sure if that's for files or just key-value data. If it's with files, where on the file system are the files stored? Is there a new iCloud folder like with Dropbox? The iCloud web page isn't explicit about it. It also doesn't mention PDFs which typically goes to iBooks and not Pages.

They also didn't mention anything about the service. I'm sure some people won't be happy with another online store of all their data. Do they encrypt it? After the recent breakins and congressional hearings I hope so. Is the traffic encrypted? I suspect not. Will Anthony Weiner be happy with the 1000 pictures he's taken being automatically sent to and saved in the cloud?

Perhaps the most amazing thing about iCloud is that it's free (aside from iTunes Match). I suppose there are limits. They say you get 5GB of storage but they don't count music, books and apps(reasonable since they're for the most part just storing metadata) or photos (ok, that's pretty impressive). Still 5GB isn't that much for some people's email. They'll probably offer more storage for a fee.


First off, it was good to Steve Jobs on stage as he's still on medical leave. He did look frailer than I've seen him before.

The twitter integration seems a little odd to me. I don't see the big benefit in having it in the OS, not when virtually any app that would make use of it already has some integration. They mentioned getting profile images from an online twitter account, it would seem to me that Facebook would have been the more logical thing to bake into the system. I suspect they couldn't come to agreement.

Mail's new preview feature is still mentioning getting photos from Address Book. Since it now syncs with iCloud and Game Center is getting improved, and they have Facetime and now Messaging between Apple devices, how long until Apple does a real social network system?

Jobs also said about iCloud that there are no ads. He said we also use the apps we write and we don't like ads. Nice shot at Google, though one wonders what a pure software vender, who doesn't make money from hardware margins is supposed to do, particularly when Apple is only charging $10 for a word processor and $30 for an operating system.

I'm amazed at the deals Apple makes with media companies. They manage to convince them to be nice to their customers (which should be obvious but isn't). I assume it's Steve that does this and if Apple were to lose him I think that would be a bigger loss than his design ideals.

In the last six years I've been Apple products, I'm consistently amazed at how well the build off of what they've built before. They make mistakes, Jobs even joked about MobileMe today. But their APIs are pretty clean and grow more useful each year. They added Spotlight and now Mail is getting really interesting search features that makes suggestions based on parts of what you type and guesses the types of terms. Type "Pa" and it starts guessing Paul knows that's a contact and you'd be looking for that in a From or To field. Type "Mar" and it guess March 2011 and knowns that a date. I wonder if this is exposed in APIs for other apps to make use of. The CoreData API is used for storage by apps (and is an object-relational mapping) but the Time Machine added backup features to it and now their versioning and autosave features are built into it for all apps to benefit from. It's really nice and consistent evolution of the whole system.

Furthermore, they do a great job learning from and borrowing ideas from all their products. As more mac features make it to iOS, some of the touch and UI stuff from iOS is making it back to the Mac now. Apple usually likes trying things out before standardizing and making them public for developers so now they're doing so across all their products. As opposed to Microsoft where I suspect Windows, Windows Mobile, and Xbox folks never talk to each other, let alone with the folks who develop their apps for OS X (well is it more than Office yet?).

There were two things I was kind of expecting that got no mention. There were no new voice recognition features. I do notice their new Apple Care support line has a very use voice recognition system. You just talk to it and it understand. It's faster than any voice menu system I've used but I hope the Siri acquisition makes it to the products and not just the support center. Also there were rumors of an update to Time Capsule so that it acted like a cache to the cloud service. I'm not sure that makes sense yet and I suspect there will still be an update to it (there were product shortages which usually indicates such) but I doubt there will be iCloud integration. Maybe Time Machine will store some backup data in the cloud which would be great for off-site backups but would need more than 5GB.

So what did you think? What did I miss?