September, 2011 archive
Twits on Twitter 0
Breaking: When people are in a bad mood, their twits reflect it.
Drawing on messages posted by more than 2 million people in 84 countries, researchers discovered that the emotional tone of people’s messages follows a similar pattern not only through the day but also through the week and the changing seasons. The new analysis suggests our moods are driven in part by a shared underlying biological rhythm that transcends culture and environment.
The report, by sociologists at Cornell University in New York and appearing in the journal Science, is the first cross-cultural study of daily mood rhythms within the average person using such text analysis. Previous studies also have mined the mountains of data pouring into social-media sites, chat rooms, blogs and elsewhere on the Internet but looked at collective moods over time, in different time zones or during holidays.
In other news, sky blue, apple red.
“An Armed Society Is a Polite Society” 0
Teach courtesy by example to your offspring at the playground:
Police were still trying to determine why Flowers-Vassell, who had just dropped off a student, allegedly pulled her 2008 Honda Civic alongside a vehicle driven by Karolyn Browden of Decatur and encouraged Browden to “bring it on” before pointing the gun at her, Perkins said.
Browden was dropping off a daughter and the daughter’s friend at the Lithonia school on Browns Mill Road when the incident occurred, police said. Browden told police she didn’t know what caused Flowers-Vassell to allegedly brandish the gun.
Cutting the Cord 0
For the first time since Dave Stouder gave me a DayTimer as a Christmas present in 1979, I am not ordering new calendar inserts for the upcoming year.
I’ve gone Google calendar with my Android.
For one thing, there is nothing whatsoever on my calendar that could either embarrass anyone or give away anything that isn’t already public knowledge.
For the other thing, I trust Google, though not implicitly, enough to expect them to show a level of integrity unknown to, say, for example, just to pull a for instance out of thin air, Facebook, because, despite a few well-publicized missteps, Google has a track record of trying not to be evil.
Facebook Frolics (Updated) 0
Nude on the net:
Thanks to European data privacy rules, some folks have successfully requested and received a detailed list of all the data that Facebook has kept about them. They’ve released a redacted version of the document for one person, which comes in at a hefty 880 pages. To be honest, nothing in this is all that surprising, but it does highlight just how much data Facebook ends up with and that it appears to not delete very much, if anything, ever.
The parts that seemed a bit questionable to me were things like recording every computer from which you’d ever logged in… as well as a list of all other Facebook people who have logged in from that same machine. I’m assuming they use this for security/anti-phishing, but it’s still a bit creepy to keep all that information. The other part that’s a bit strange is that Facebook keeps deleted messages. That’s a bit more troubling, since most people expect that when they delete things, they’re really deleted. Still, while a lot of people may make a big deal out of this, it still doesn’t seem particularly surprising or really bad. At best it’s just a reminder of how much info you’re giving out, and that Facebook is hanging onto… forever. Perhaps your “permanent record” is becoming a real thing.
I have decided that, whenever I visit Facebook, I shall do so in a private browser session, because of this.
Addendum, Later That Same Day:
At sfgate dot com, James Temple expresses his qualms about Facebook’s
creepy internet stalking “frictionless sharing.” Then he describes how to tweak your privacy settings:
Click the little downward facing arrow in the upper right hand corner of your Facebook page and select “privacy settings.” Then select “edit settings” under “apps and websites.”
From there, click on each app (I had 26), and change the selection following “Who can see posts and activity from this app?” from “friends” to “customize.” Finally, click to change the setting to “only me.”
Despite the pain, this can be a useful exercise. You’ll likely be shocked at the number of apps that a) you never realized you authorized b) have the right to post to Facebook “as you” and c) have access to your photos, videos, relationships and other information generally irrelevant to their stated function.
Teabaggers: Republicans on Steroids 0
A Plea 0
Please, someone, convince Ralph Nader to learn to play the flute, cut the soles out of his shoes, and go live in a tree somewhere far far away.
His habit of public self-gratification is not only tiresome, but also destructive.
He is unsafe at any speech.
Know When To Hold Them, Know When To Fold Them 0
Another gambling addict teeters on the brink.
Morgan Stanley (MS), which owns the world’s largest retail brokerage, is being priced in the credit- default swaps market as less creditworthy than most U.S., U.K. and French banks and as risky as Italy’s biggest lenders.
The cost of buying the swaps, or CDS, which offer protection against a default of New York-based Morgan Stanley’s debt for five years, has surged to 456 basis points, or $456,000, for every $10 million of debt insured, from 305 basis points on Sept. 15, according to prices provided by London-based CMA. Italy’s Intesa Sanpaolo SpA (ISP) has CDS trading at 405 basis points, and UniCredit SpA (UCG) at 424, the data show. A basis point is one-hundredth of a percent.
I have difficulty feeling sympathy for a three-card monte dealer.
Live by the credit default swap, die by the credit default swap.
The Republican Either-Or 0
Robert Reich explains (emphasis added):
Government can hire people directly to maintain the nation’s parks and playgrounds and to help in schools and hospitals. It can funnel money to help cash-starved states and local government so they don’t have to continue to slash payrolls and public services. And it can hire indirectly – contracting with companies to build schools, revamp public transportation and rebuild the nation’s crumbling highways, bridges and ports.
Not only does this create jobs but also puts money in the hands of all the people who get the jobs, so they can turn around and buy the goods and services they need – generating more jobs. Not exactly rocket science.
But congressional Republicans are firmly opposed. Why don’t Republicans get it? Either they’re knaves – they want the economy to stay awful through next election day so Obama gets the boot. Or they’re fools – they’ve bought the lie that reducing the deficit now creates more jobs.
Follow the link to see Dr. Reich demolish the “cut spending and deregulate” shibboleth.
Me, I’m betting on “fools led my knaves.”
Stakes and the Lighter Fluid 0
The terrorism of fear is the goal of terrorism. It has turned our national fear of terrorists into its our own homegrown form of terrorism.
Dan MacArthur writes of modern day witch hunts:
Hebshi is a self-described half-Jewish, half-Arabic, dark-skinned mother of twins. Armed agents handcuffed her and removed her from a flight from Denver to Detroit on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Fighter jets accompanied the aircraft to its destination where it was isolated and surrounded by officers.
It seems that fellow passengers expressed suspicions to the flight crew about Hebshi and a couple of men sitting in her row who they believed spent an inordinate amount of time in the restroom.
Hebshi was placed in a holding cell, strip-searched and interrogated. She told The Associated Press that she felt “violated, humiliated and sure that I was being taken from the plane simply because of my appearance.”
She was released after four hours with profuse apologies for the inconvenience. But that was small comfort to Hebshi and certainly would be for my wife.
My wife fears she may be similarly targeted as a dark-haired, dark-eyed Nebraska-American — burdens she bears with grace in a blonde-worshipping, Big Red-loathing state.
Wall Street Week 0
Nothing To Do, Nowhere To Go 0
Under 400k for the first time in weeks:
Applications for jobless benefits dropped by 37,000 in the week ended Sept. 24 to 391,000, the fewest since April, Labor Department figures showed today. Economists forecast 420,000 claims, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey. An agency official said the data probably reflected a “slight mistiming” in the seasonal factors used to modify the figures.
The pace of firings has remained little changed this year while companies are reluctant to hire at a time when the economy is slowing and concerns of a European default rise. Federal Reserve policy makers last week announced more unconventional measures to boost jobs and the economy.
No doubt this could be easily cured by laying off more wprkers.
The description in the story is understated (link fixed):
Heavy rain caused flooding throughout Hampton Roads, but the worst of it was reported in the northern part of Virginia Beach. A flash flood warning and then a flood warning were in effect for the city for most of the night. The last flood warning expired at 10:30 p.m. Some roads were closed and city police reported cars stuck in the flood waters.
I got home from DL only by driving through two of the deepest puddles I’ve ever encountered on a roadway, if you can call something 100 yards long and up to the running boards if I had running boards “puddles.” The worst one was on a side street where alternative routes were readily available. The neighbors were all clustered along the road, but did any of them bother to warn drivers? No, tow truck breath.
It took my friend five hours to make the 16-mile drive home from her work. She did encounter neighbors who were standing in the floods warning drivers to turn back or keep to the left or so on.
Her experience also confirmed my prejudice against electric everything in cars. Her electric windows and locks failed (they are working again now).
While poised at the edges of flooded areas, she several times had the dubious pleasure of watching macho men and wonder women in their macho trucks and studly SUVs (and one potent Prius) come up behind her, honk angrily, drive around, and stall in the water (with the Prius, it was more like float away).
William Strunk, Jr.:
The Candidates Debate: “American Idol in Reverse” 0
Break Time 0
Off to drink liberally.
State Department Security Theatre 0
Peter van Buren, author of We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, tells of his experiences being
intimidated investigate by the State Deparment’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security.
On the same day that more than 250,000 unredacted State Department cables hemorrhaged out onto the Internet, I was interrogated for the first time in my 23-year State Department career by State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) and told I was under investigation for allegedly disclosing classified information. The evidence of my crime? A posting on my blog from the previous month that included a link to a WikiLeaks document already available elsewhere on the Internet.
As we sat in a small, gray, windowless room, resplendent with a two-way mirror, multiple ceiling-mounted cameras, and iron rungs on the table to which handcuffs could be attached, the two DS agents stated that the inclusion of that link amounted to disclosing classified material. In other words, a link to a document posted by who-knows-who on a public website available at this moment to anyone in the world was the legal equivalent of me stealing a Top Secret report, hiding it under my coat, and passing it to a Chinese spy in a dark alley.
Attempts to classify documents that are already public would seem somewhere between laughable and stupid, except that those attempts are backed by the life-crushing police power of the state.
Read the whole thing.
The Blood Lust Party 0
Shaun Mullen wonders how it got this way:
I am still having a difficult time getting my head around this, but it appears that today’s Republican Party is adamantly against abortions for the unborn, adamantly against health care for the newborn if their mother chooses not to have an abortion and lacks insurance, adamantly for letting an adult with serious health issues die if they lack insurance, and adamantly for executing people even under the flimsiest of evidence.
Have I got that right? Yes I do, but the question arises as to how the GOP got itself tied in such seemingly contradictory knots.
That’s easy: Obeisance to ideological purity no matter the circumstances, an unwillingness to listen to the views of others and a win-at-all-costs mentality as the GOP continues to devolve from a traditional political party to something resembling a religion.