What I'm reading ed. 100412

Nowhere near as comprehensive as my previous endeavours, but hopefully there’s enough to keep you interested and entertained.

  1. Whoops, maybe flooding the developing world with cheap US agriculture wasn’t so smart after all.
  2. Selections from Best Science Writing on the Blogs 2009: I recommend Cosmopithecus and Bittersweet.
  3. The Art of the Brick (Art Gallery)
  4. Mashed-up Culture (NYT)
  5. Inspiring: 2010 Winter Paralympics (Photos)

Politics and Policy

  • Media Personalities: Who is Andrew Breitbart? (Wired)
  • Health care bills: comparing the CBO scores
  • Obama’s address to the House Democrats on healthcare-reform-vote-eve (transcript) (video)

    I have the great pleasure of having a really nice library at the White House. And I was tooling through some of the writings of some previous Presidents and I came upon this quote by Abraham Lincoln: “I am not bound to win, but I’m bound to be true. I’m not bound to succeed, but I’m bound to live up to what light I have.”

  • What happens when Congress fails to do its job? (Klein)
  • Thoughts on the VAT (CGG)

    Tax reformers lambast the complexity of our income tax with good reason, but somehow assume that the same people who legislated that complexity will legislate a clean VAT. Again, the U.K. experience is very instructive. Their VAT is notoriously complicated, and so would be ours.

  • What happens to a letter sent to the President of the United States.
  • Who is David Frum? (warning: glowing)

    Frum is a writer and pundit, a former George W. Bush administration speechwriter, and the impresario of a website, FrumForum.com. Last month, after publishing an article criticizing the Republicans’ obstructionist strategy on health care reform as a self-inflicted disaster — and after an editorial in The Wall Street Journal took a sneering swipe at him — Frum lost his salaried position at the American Enterprise Institute, one of the country’s premier conservative think tanks. Whether the timing was deliberate or maladroit (neither Frum nor his former employer would discuss it on the record), AEI could not have done a better job of appearing to punish dissent.

  • Justice John Paul Stevens Retires. Did he move left? Or did the court move right?



  • The goods are odd but the odds are a bajillion to one.

    “Zhang wrote: ‘My name is Zhang Mengqian, a grade one student, and I think I am attractive, but strangely I can’t find a boyfriend. However I believe in destiny.

    ‘If you have the same wish, please come under my dormitory building and shout for my name between 12:30 and 12:50 on March 11, 2010 and I will observe you secretly up on the building.’

    She added: ‘If you’re my type, I’ll come down to meet you.’

    Thousands of bachelors descended on the campus of University of Electronic Science and Technology in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, after she put her plea on a message board.”

  • Mapping Christianity around the world through the internet
  • Chinese media bashes Google.
  • Google pulls out of China…to Hong Kong

    So earlier today we stopped censoring our search services—Google Search, Google News, and Google Images—on Google.cn. Users visiting Google.cn are now being redirected to Google.com.hk, where we are offering uncensored search in simplified Chinese, specifically designed for users in mainland China and delivered via our servers in Hong Kong. Users in Hong Kong will continue to receive their existing uncensored, traditional Chinese service, also from Google.com.hk.

  • Google v. China analysis
  • Whoops, maybe flooding the developing world with cheap US agriculture wasn’t so smart after all.

    They’re led by former U.S. President Bill Clinton – now U.N. special envoy to Haiti – who publicly apologized this month for championing policies that destroyed Haiti’s rice production. Clinton in the mid-1990s encouraged the impoverished country to dramatically cut tariffs on imported U.S. rice.

    “It may have been good for some of my farmers in Arkansas, but it has not worked. It was a mistake,” Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 10. “I had to live everyday with the consequences of the loss of capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people because of what I did; nobody else.”

  • Photos from North Korea (2008)
  • Kim Jong Il tours North Korea (photos)
  • The organized crime primer (infographic)
  • China population statistics (infographic)
  • Red-Shirt riots in Thailand (Photos)
  • Revolution in Kyrgyzstan (Photos)
  • An analysis of the Greek debt crisis (Baseline)
  • Mobile phones and African development

    Despite anemic economic growth rates, limited agricultural progress, and overwhelming poverty (85 percent of the population lives on less than $2 per day), Nigeriens are now more connected than ever. More than 60 percent of them have mobile phone services—no small feat in a country three times the size of California, with bad roads, unreliable postal services, and two landlines per thousand people.

Science and Technology

Society and culture

  • RIP: The sole Michigan wolverine.
  • Media habits of 8-18 year olds
  • Wealth inequality in the US (slideshow)
  • Illegal immigrants as a % of the workforce
  • Interview with the 19 year old chess champion, Magnus Carlson

    SPIEGEL: Why? You are 19 years old and ranked the number one chess player in the world. You must be incredibly clever.

    Carlsen: And that’s precisely what would be terrible. Of course it is important for a chess player to be able to concentrate well, but being too intelligent can also be a burden. It can get in your way. I am convinced that the reason the Englishman John Nunn never became world champion is that he is too clever for that.

    SPIEGEL: How that?

    Carlsen: At the age of 15, Nunn started studying mathematics in Oxford; he was the youngest student in the last 500 years, and at 23 he did a PhD in algebraic topology. He has so incredibly much in his head. Simply too much. His enormous powers of understanding and his constant thirst for knowledge distracted him from chess.

    SPIEGEL: Things are different in your case?

    Carlsen: Right. I am a totally normal guy. My father is considerably more intelligent than I am.

  • A look inside a Blast Suit
  • Mashed-up Culture (NYT)
  • Jake Adelstein: A Jewish Reporter’s look into the Yakuza (Part 1, Part 2) (boingboing)
  • Online dating statistics (infographic)
  • The new basic training (npr)

    “We are seeing a decline across the board in America,” he says. “This isn’t a decline in our recruits; this is a decline in our American society in terms of their physical capacity. It’s just a softer generation.

    It’s not just a fitness issue, either. “We certainly have a generation that is not as disciplined when they enter the military.”

    They may need to spend more time toughening up, but Hertling says, today’s recruits also bring skills and an attitude that the military’s not seen before.

    “They’re different. They have a technology edge. I think they’re smarter than any generation we’ve ever had before,” he says. “They certainly ask a lot more difficult questions.”

  • Youtube videos with 100Mil+ views
  • A look inside the world of bottle service and VIPs

    But she really hates the accusation that she set up sex for any of her clients. She is not a pimp or a madam, she says. “It’s not our job to get anybody laid.”

    What the hosts do is more like placement. They are puzzle-doers, wielding a table chart and making sure the room looks good, depositing models beside Wall Street bankers in a Rubik’s Cube of dovetailing desire.

  • An atheist goes undercover amongst the evangelicals (an interview) (time)

    Goma Welch: In the Land of Believers: An Outsider’s Extraordinary Journey into the Heart of the Evangelical Church.

  • Twittering your wedding(humor, mildly explicit)
  • College majors and incomes: What’s going on with the life sciences??
  • Interview with 5 Guys Burger and Fries
  • The death of the gayborhood


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