Better than salt money

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I used to do this fairly often, a list of things I’d found about the web which interested me (a sort of expanded version of the original “weblogs”).

Kevin Drum putting paid to Steven Levitt and “Abortions Reduced Crimes” nonsense.  It seems that a pair of independent researchers have pretty strongly shown it was lead, from gasoline, which did it.  Part of the conclusive aspects is that it can be correlated internationally, and locally.  America’s Real Criminal Element: Lead

A really lovely use of photoshop to remove all traces of people from San Francisco.  Time lapse at it’s best. The bare bones of San Francisco (I don’t think it looks creepy at all.  I’d link to the yuotube directly, but the other clip is worth watching too). A bit further east; a time-lapse of the night sky from Mt. Wilson

More architecture in The Los Angeles That Might Have Been.  It’s a kickstarter, and I think it’s a damned interesting idea.  I’d like the chance to feel I’d missed out if I didn’t get to it.

A few pieces about torture, which has been normalised.  How we talk about it is stilted, and serves to hide the facts (and some of it is straight up, “I shade the truth, but he is a liar”).  The Senate issued a report which said all sorts of things, and also redacted all the things which matter most. I’m guessing I’ll be long dead before it’s unclassified.  Which is part of how the CIA seems to have lied to, or not given very good info to the makers of, “Zero Dark Thirty”, and make it easier for them to say torture is a useful tool in collecting intelligence. (not that I’d really expect the director to care.  “The Hurt Locker has huge problems, from all sorts of standpoints; and is basically a paean to the joys of being in a combat zone.  “Yeah, it sucks, but once you’ve been there nothing else will suffice”.  Utter crap).

Bloomberg Financial Times on Why We Must Go Over the Platinum Cliff, (No More Mister Nice Blog points out the courts would probably side with the Republicans on this, for the usual reason, and how the inability to make Keynesianism more understandable would probably hurt Obama; though the Bloomberg solution does an end run around some of that) deals with exactly what I don’t like about the resolution of the Bush Tax Cuts.  It’s not that I don’t like the tax cuts for the very top being reverted to what they were; it’s that the GOP was allowed to get some of what it wanted (exempting those who are making between 250,000-400,000 from the reversion), for not much.  The Debt Ceiling still exists.  Obama could have (should have) made them give that up.

The Debt Ceiling is some evil kabuki.  The House says, “here is what we authorise”,  but at the same time they don’t make it possible to spent the money they get around to allocating (which is not the same.  Lots of things are, “in the budget” which don’t get funded).  For decades this has been some idiotic theater.  They run up a tab, and later they have to make it possible to pay the bill.  But this time around they’ve decided they can use it as a stick.  If they do, Bad Shit happens.  So they admit they won’t actually do it.  But they will pretend they can, and they will use it to try and force Obama, the Dems, and the Progressive Caucus, to give them more of what they want.  And the press is helping them, with a narrative of false equivalence. (when the pundits aren’t just complaining  about Obama being better at being intransigent as the Republicans, and clutching their pearls as they say, “that’s no fair!”, while lying about how they act when they win) know the Republicans don’t argue in good faith.  When Obama adopts one of their positions, they attack him for it (because what they want, to gut the last remnants of the New Deal, is vastly unpopular).

What I don’t know (and the recent persistent patter of Obama’s visible behavior causes me to doubt; though I have seen some interesting articles saying the close to the vest negotiating he does hides just how much he’s managing to gain) is that Obama will actually put them to the wall on this.  I am afraid he will continue to make visible compromises, and allow them to keep playing the “nice country you’ve got here, be shame if anything were to happen to it,” game.

What does one do when one’s paper has been denying climate change, and helped the oil/gas magnate who owns it pursue his business?  Continue to ignore the facts and just pray for rain.

To close, two bundles of squeeful cuteness.  Baby Porcupines, and Baby Hedgehogs.

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