Journal 07/31/2012 (p.m.)

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Journal 07/29/2012 (p.m.)

    • By now a swim meet must feel as exciting to him as a car wash. Yet Phelps came to London anyway. There is something worth appreciating in that. A lot, actually.
    • An athlete of Phelps’s makeup has only so many efforts in him. If Phelps hasn’t totally emptied himself swimming, his results Saturday suggest he’s getting close. That’s not disappointing. It’s admirable. Watching Phelps try to summon his last bursts, the end of his quest to thoroughly exhaust his great talent in a pool, will be one of the most worthwhile spectacles in this Olympics.

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Journal 07/29/2012 (a.m.)

    • The mass killings certainly  dominated the news, quickly becoming one of the biggest stories of 2012.


      Nearly three quarters of the  nation has been following it “very” or “fairly” closely, according to Pew Research Center. Still, if mass shootings weren’t big  news, you would worry. James Holmes’ face, meanwhile, made it to a number of  front pages in the wake of the massacre, as shown in Newseum’s Today’s Front Page feature, but not as often or as  large as you might think. And you did want to know what he looked like, didn’t  you? Even Tom Teves went to court to see his face.

    • “The whole idea of a top-down  market is gone,” says David Herlihy, a music and law professor at Boston’s  Northeastern University.


      When his own band was on the  circuit in the 1980s, there was a “road map,” he says, one that had existed for  a generation.


      “You needed the record label.  You needed to go to the recording studio. You needed to get on the radio. You  needed to be in record stores. You needed all these intermediaries. Everybody I  ever became aware of followed that map,” he says. “And now technology has  completely disintermediated the business, and so now you have music and art, and  people who consume those things directly. Therefore, it can go anywhere.”

    • “We’re still in the Wild West of all this,” he says. “People are still trying to  figure out, how do people experience music now?

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Journal 07/28/2012 (p.m.)

  • Dark ages and dark areas: global deforestation
    in the deep past

    tags: geography Industrial Revolution

  • tags: html silverlight

    • One big factor in this is the Enterprise. An Enterprise is a company or business, usually, but not necessarily, of a large size. An Enterprise will have thousands of employees, working at different locations, sometimes around the world.


      Enterprises like Intranets – internal browser based communication systems. Enterprises like browser based applications that run on these Intranets because they are easy to distribute and maintain.


      Employees of Enterprises work on clients (PCs, laptops, etc.). These clients are owned and maintained by the Enterprise, i.e., Enterprises can install whatever they want on their client machines – see I told you we’d come back to the client thing – and have the processes in place to do this regularly and en-masse.


      The take of up SL, and FLEX to a much lesser degree, within these types of organisation is massive, especially in the banking sector who rely on rich, interactive applications (my version of RIA). Other technologies just do not cut the mustard. This is a FACT!


      SL has a great advantage in these types of organisations who are mainly .NET based organisations – there are a lot of JAVA based ones too, who would probably have used FLEX rather than SL: SL sits nicely in their application stack.

    • JS just can’t touch JAVA or .NET in terms of being a mature, deep, high quality programming language. JS has a small set of base classes and can’t stand alone needing to be interpreted by a browser, for example.


      SL uses its own subset of the .NET framework so works within a managed environment. People who are used to .NET are already (partly) used to SL.


      Enterprises have big sacks of cash, and, usually, money talks.

    • Can I just say: finally. Finally. This isn’t stricly an Android story, but NBC’s decision to dump Microsoft’s proprietary steaming technology, Silverlight, is a win for every single Android user who wants to watch the Olympics. Why? Because they’re switching to YouTube, Google’s very own video playground that’s deeply integrated into (almost) every Android phone and tablet.
    • Even so, that’s a major win for mobile users (other than Windows Phone 7, of course) as any Android phone can handle the HTML5 that YouTube defaults to. If it comes to it, almost every Android phone and tablet can also use a Flash (though not forever, and not ideally).
    • Also, Netflix: please follow suit. I’m tired of having to update Silverlight on my desktop.
    • To define the civil massacre as the sequel to the amok will perturb some corners of the liberal mind. For even if we achieved an unlikely paradise, of media decorum and gun control, the central fact of the amok would remain untouched: its place within our own animistic worldview. We are, in short, still addicted to evil. It is our version of the gila kena hantu. While I agree with Anthony Lane, that no movie causes anyone to kill, let’s not pretend the Aurora filmgoers were attending a screening of The Sorrow and The Pity. They were watching a prime example of a genre known for the extreme nihilism of its villains; for their charismatic malevolence, and the creatively annihilative uses to which they put modern technology. Superheroes are, after all, an invention of the late 1930s. They arose in America in part as a psychic response to European fascism. Superman appeared in 1938 and gained in popularity along with the war effort. We were fighting an awesome evil that nothing short of an awesome counterpower could defeat.





      A revived attraction to superheroes may in part be a response to 9/11, but I think the clue to their peculiar resurgence lies elsewhere. The rise in popularity of the blockbuster comic book film runs concurrent to the end of the Cold War; they express a resulting crisis of identity. The nature of that crisis comes home when you think about the defining feature of the Batman franchise: The astonishing, supersaturated performances of Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger as the Joker, counterpointed against the almost deliberately color-drained performances of Michael Keaton and Christian Bale as Batman. In the absence of a cogent notion of heroism, superhero movies nonetheless express something very real: a vestigial reservoir of awesomeness-longing—a need for the awesome villainy necessary to call forth a potentially awesome heroism.

    • American public figures persist in preferring a quasi-theological language of diabolism (both Romney and Obama called the Aurora shooter evil) as if the morally neutral language of psychiatric explanations somehow destigmatizes acts of violence, letting the perpetrator off the hook. The very lesson of the amok is the opposite: It was only when any notion of the amok as a manifestation of evil was set aside that the amok became fully stigmatized, and Malay culture’s quiet sanction of the pengamok’s own view of himself, as a vessel of something retributive and grand, finally withered away. Were we serious—truly serious—about making the civil massacre disappear, having it become, like the amok, nothing more than an antiquated curiosity, the history of the amok tells us precisely what to do: divest evil of its grandiosity or mythic resonance by completely banalizing it.
    • he idea will perturb certain other corners of the liberal mind. When Hannah Arendt returned from Jerusalem, having inspected the Nazi villain Adolf Eichmann up close, she shocked many The New Yorker subscribers by proclaiming he was, in every respect, small: small-minded, small-statured, small-souled. The concept of evil being the easiest trick by which the middlebrow mind aggrandizes itself, her readers wanted Mephistopheles; but Eichmann persisted in being small. It was an almost ontological comedown, to think that the worst mass murderer in history was not in any respect awesome.
    • Everyone is familiar with the catchphrase the banality of evil. But it serves to obscure the truly revelatory thing Arendt concluded from her journey to Eichmann’s trial: “Only the good has depth and can be radical.” What would a world that understood the depth and the radicalness of that statement even look like? Imagine that, no matter where a poor, damaged, pitiably sick young man, terminally wounded by the insult of the world, pulled out an automatic weapon, the first and natural response of his first victim was: Not here.
    • As a nation in no small part ancestored by convicts, Australia has a sober relationship to criminality, and the country’s response to the Port Arthur massacre was magnificent in its sobriety.  The federal government enacted strict gun control laws and initiated a massive firearms buyback program. (In the 18 years prior to the Port Arthur massacre, Australia experienced 14 mass shootings; in the subsequent 16 years, there have been none.) But the reaction to the Port Arthur tragedy went beyond legislation and into a serious attempt to understand the causes of the “civil massacre,” as it’s labeled in the literature, an effort that began more or less immediately.
    • Mullen had a suspicion about his client’s repellent one-upmanship, and his research confirmed it: that civil massacres were by their nature copycat crimes, “modeled,” as Mullen has since written, “on Rambo-like images and informed by knowledge, and occasionally study, of prior massacres.” While it is true that civil massacres occurred throughout the 20th century, they were rare until the mid-1960s, when the phenomenon took a grimly familiar shape with the so-called “tower sniper.” The incident at the University of Texas, in which a former Marine held the Austin campus under siege from a bell tower, received massive media attention and was even turned into a well-known TV movie.
    • A young man stages a mass gun killing as a grand and redemptive act of vengeance on the world, an act so spectacular it draws the apparatus of instant notoriety —the news media—into action, thus lending the perpetrator an aura of power so sorely lacking in his ordinary life. OK, asked Mullen, but who is this young man? Piecing together a profile of the typical perpetrator, Mullen noted that among “pseudocommandos” (another term from the literature) feelings of guilt and worthlessness were conspicuous for their absence. These were invariably young men with a high (if deluded) self-regard, who believed they had been grossly undervalued by the world —so much so, their lives had become one long psychic injury
    • hey had often been bullied or neglected as children, had grown up into loners, and often had recently lost their last shred of emotional connection or support (job, girlfriend) with the world. But their dominant experience was one of persecution; their dominant affect, one of resentment.





      Narcissism, persecution, resentment—even as I write it, I think check, check, check.

  • tags: economics

    • Romney told NBC News that there were “disconcerting” signs in the runup to the Olympics, prompting London Mayor Boris Johnson and British Prime Minister David Cameron to take what were widely seen as shots at him. In a comment the Romney campaign denied, an advisor was quoted as saying President Obama doesn’t understand America and Europe’s shared “Anglo-Saxon heritage,” prompting charges of racial insensitivity. Romney himself referenced Mr. Obama’s decision to remove the bust of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill from the Oval Office, seemingly violating his vow not to criticize the president while abroad. He seemed to forget Labour party leader Ed Miliband’s name. Romney even revealed what was supposed to be a secret meeting with Britain’s MI6 intelligence agency.

      The comment about the Olympics generated by far the most negative attention – despite the fact that what Romney said squared with concerns expressed in a variety of media in the runup to the Games. British newspapers blasted Romney with headlines like, “If Mitt Romney doesn’t like us, we shouldn’t care.” At home, Republican strategist Karl Rove said “you have to shake your head” at Romney’s behavior. 

    • “None of this hurts him in the long run in the slightest,” he said. “It’s hard to imagine that there are many voters in key swing states who are going to cast their ballot based on what Romney said about the London Olympics.”

      Schnur did say, however, that the gaffes represent a missed opportunity.

      “This was his chance to go overseas and strengthen his credentials on the global stage,” he said. “He wanted to show three of this country’s most reliable allies that his administration would support them much more strongly than Obama has.”

      In undermining his London hosts, Schnur said, Romney undercut that message.

    • Even as the issue of guns shifts to the forefront of the presidential campaign, the White House and the Senate’s top Democrat made it clear Thursday that new gun legislation will not be on the political agenda this year. Instead, President Barack Obama intends to focus on other ways to combat gun violence — a position not unlike that of his rival, Mitt Romney.
    • Obama told the National Urban League in New Orleans that he was willing to work with both parties in Congress to find a national consensus that addresses violence. That speech came six days after the shooting in an Aurora, Col., movie theater that left 12 people dead and injured dozens more.
    • “I don’t happen to believe that America needs new gun laws. A lot of what this … young man did was clearly against the law. But the fact that it was against the law did not prevent it from happening,” Romney said.
    • Obama addressed the nationwide troubles in front of the Urban League in part because blacks, who make up the bulk of the organization’s membership, have been disproportionately affected by gun violence. While mass shootings like the one in Colorado receive widespread attention, Obama said roughly the same number of young people are killed in the U.S. by guns every day and a half.

      “For every Columbine or Virginia Tech, there are dozens gunned down on the streets of Chicago and Atlanta, and here in New Orleans,” he said. “For every Tucson or Aurora, there is daily heartbreak over young Americans shot in Milwaukee or Cleveland.”

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Journal 07/24/2012 (p.m.)

    • Mitt Romney is a man of faith, successful in business and with the executive experience that comes from running a big state.

      A perfect presidential résumé? Pretty close.

    • Only one problem, as his critics note: Romney doesn’t spend much time talking about it.


      The presumptive GOP nominee is known for his abilities as a salesman. But Romney has made a calculation against selling three major elements of his background to voters. To some degree, the Republican’s campaign has walled off three critical aspects of what makes Mitt Mitt — his Mormon faith and good deeds, details of his experience running Bain Capital and his signature achievement as Massachusetts governor.


      The result: a kind of self-imposed paralysis on biographical messaging that some observers, including Republicans, say may wound his campaign in an era in which voters want to achieve a kind of unprecedented intimacy with their candidates. Right at the moment voters are starting to get to know him, he isn’t telling them his story.

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