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02 Sep 21:15

Citroen Cactus M Concept is just beachy [w/video]

by Steven J. Ewing

easy to find in the parking lot?

Filed under: Frankfurt Motor Show, Citroen, Convertible

This is the Citroen Cactus M Concept, an open-top take on the already weird/awesome C4 Cactus. It's coming to the Frankfurt Motor Show this year, and I love it.

Continue reading Citroen Cactus M Concept is just beachy [w/video]

Citroen Cactus M Concept is just beachy [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 02 Sep 2015 16:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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31 Aug 07:01

Counting the Steps

by Doug

A good week has me at 60,000 steps. Vacations see my step count at 120,000 or more.

01 Sep 12:30

Will California redouble its push for clean energy? It all rides on this upcoming vote.

by David Roberts

It's difficult to overstate how important California is to the US clean energy effort. For decades it has been serving as a kind of existence proof, growing its economy even as per-capita energy use and carbon intensity have fallen.


(CA Senate)

Every year, the market researchers at CleanEdge put out a Cleantech Leadership Index, ranking US cities and states on a range of more than 70 indicators, from renewable energy deployment to VC investment to clean energy patents to green buildings and more.

Here are the overall top 10 states from 2010 on:

cleantech leadership index


California is leading the nation on climate change and clean energy. But the next phase of its leadership is now on the line.

At issue is a set of bills that would substantially expand the state's existing clean energy programs. The bills will come up for a vote in the California Assembly within the next week or two. The oil lobby has mounted a full-court press against the effort, and a handful of Democrats in the Assembly are wavering. The stakes could not be higher.

Oil companies have always hated California's climate leadership

California's clean energy effort encompasses a wide variety of local and state initiatives, affecting almost every sector of the economy, but it has always been oil companies that hate it the most.

To understand why, think of oil companies like coal companies: They provide a commodity. If laws force utilities to clean up, they can switch to cleaner sources of electricity, but coal companies only sell coal, so they're screwed. Similarly, laws that reduce petroleum use in motor vehicles are irritating for car companies, but not fatal — they can make cleaner cars. The oil companies, however, only sell oil. Less petroleum use in cars means they sell less of their product to one of the world's biggest markets.

Two episodes have drawn their particular ire.

The first is California's Clean Car Standards, which regulate greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles. They were proposed in 2002; the state requested a waiver from the EPA in 2005; after years of delay, the waiver was granted in 2008; and in 2009, Obama took the standards as the template for new national fuel economy standards. The oil companies hated all of that and did everything they could to stop it, to no effect.

The second episode was the passage of the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, or Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32), under the leadership of then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Among many other things, AB 32 established a statewide carbon cap-and-trade system, with the goal of returning to 1990 levels of CO2 emissions by 2020 — around a 15 percent reduction from a business-as-usual trajectory. As of January, motor vehicles are included under that cap.

AB 32 also established a low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS), which would limit the carbon content of fuels imported into the state. The LCFS is in effect as of January 2011 and has survived several lawsuits.

The oil companies really, really hated AB 32. In 2010, they got a proposition on the state ballot, Prop 23, that would have gutted the law. The fight that ensued was protracted, vicious, and expensive, but ultimately the law survived.

But the coalition of oil companies hostile to California's climate laws has not dissolved — if anything, it has become more coordinated — and it is now pouring resources into its latest fight, trying to kill a set of bills that would expand upon AB 32.

California's latest bid to increase the ambition of its climate program

In a speech this year kicking off his fourth and final term as governor, Jerry Brown called for three ambitious state goals, to be reached by 2030:

  • 50 percent reduction in petroleum use
  • 50 percent of the state's electricity to come from renewables
  • 50 percent increase in the efficiency of the state's buildings

The following month, California Democrats, led by Senate President pro tempore Kevin de León, introduced Senate Bill 350, which would enshrine those three goals into law.

None would require new government agencies or authorities. The reduction in petroleum use would be administered by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), using "existing laws and financial resources." The increase in renewables would come by boosting the state's renewable energy standard, as overseen by the California Public Utilities Commission (or, for municipal utilities, the California Energy Commission). And, similarly, the building efficiency goal would be achieved by cranking up "existing energy efficiency retrofit funding and regulatory tools" in the hands of the state's energy agencies.

Alongside SB 350 were three other important bills:

  • SB 32 would build on AB 32 by putting in place a statewide target of 80 percent reduction from 1990 CO2 levels by 2050.
  • SB 189 would create an expert committee to "advise and inform state clean energy and climate actions" to make sure they create jobs and benefit the economy.
  • SB 185 would divest the state's two largest pension funds (CalPERS and CalSTRS) from coal.

All these bills have already passed the state Senate. They will be voted on in the Assembly in the next week or two, most likely right after Labor Day. When I spoke with de León last week, he said, "It's going to be a very, very tough battle. It's going to go down to the very last vote." All indications are that it's going to be close.

Big Oil is blitzing against California's latest efforts

The headline bills in this legislative package, 350 and 32, have drawn support from a large and varied cast. The governor and the state Senate support the bills, as do both the state's US senators, as do House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and most of the California House delegation, as do nine previous leaders of the state legislature, as do a wide array of state businesses.

When he spoke in Nevada last week, President Obama singled out for praise "leaders in California ... aiming to generate fifty percent of their electricity from renewables by 2030 — fifty percent — while cutting carbon pollution from oil by 50 percent." (That was followed by: [APPLAUSE].)

Perhaps most importantly, according to a recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California, the public supports the bills by a fairly wide margin. Some 69 percent of adults in the state support both AB 32 and the new bill to strengthen it, SB 32. And SB 350 also polls well:

When asked about the targets in [SB 350], strong majorities favor each one. The electricity goal has the highest support (82%), with majorities across party lines in favor. Most adults (73%) favor reducing petroleum use in vehicles, but there are partisan differences: 83 percent of Democrats and 75 percent of independents are in favor, while a majority of Republicans (53%) are opposed. Asked about increasing energy efficiency in buildings, 70 percent of adults are in favor. Democrats (82%) and independents (75%) are more likely to be in favor than are Republicans (52%).

Lined up against the bill are Republicans (who are much more likely to represent car-dependent rural and suburban constituents) and oil companies, as represented by the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA).

WSPA has a familiar modus operandi: Rather than allow oil companies to be the public face of resistance to clean energy policy, it creates campaign-specific front groups with benign names like "Californians for Affordable and Reliable Electricity" and the "California Drivers Alliance." This is not a conspiracy theory, it's something the association boasts about — this is from a leaked presentation WSPA did to the Washington Research Council (via Bloomberg Businessweek):

wspa astroturf

(Bloomberg Buisnessweek)

Here's the ad the California Drivers Alliance is carpeting television with lately:

These attacks are very much like the ones that oil companies used on behalf of Prop 23, which were rejected by voters and subsequently disproved by events. (California gas prices have not spiked, except after the refinery explosion in Torrance.)

The California Senate leadership has a sharp website devoted to "myths and facts" about SB 350. Among other things, it makes the point that "the best way to shield consumers from volatile gas prices is to reduce our dependence on gasoline."

The cost of electric driving is tied to the cost of technology, and as the market grows and scales, technology will only get cheaper. (It's already happening.) The same cannot be said of commodities like oil and coal. Their prices will always fluctuate based on factors outside the American consumer's control. The best way to reduce exposure to the volatility of fossil fuel prices is to run electric cars on domestic renewable energy.

On the subject of whether it is actually possible for California to cut petroleum use 50 percent by 2030, it's worth checking out this fact sheet from the state EPA and this longer analysis from NRDC's Simon Mui. In short, it can be done with an acceleration of current policies, but it is undoubtedly ambitious.

Democrats in the Assembly are wavering

The fight to protect AB 32 against Prop 23 was a historic victory for clean-energy advocates in California. But in politics, it's always easier to preserve the status quo than it is to pass something new. So this fight is different.

The oil industry's ad and lobbying barrage has a group of around 20 Democrats in the Assembly getting weak in the knees, says the Sacramento Bee, which in turn has "bewildered activists who once expected a smooth ride in the Democratic-controlled Legislature."

(For those of you keeping score: Opposition is being led by council member Henry Perea, who is putting up a series of amendments likely to kill support for the bill. For some reason, the media insists on referring to the group of oil-intimidated Dems led by Perea as "moderate Democrats.")

These Dems can't be seen to side with the oil companies, so they have focused their objections on the authority the bill grants to the California Air Resources Board (CARB). According to the California Drivers Alliance, SB 350 would authorize CARB to ration gasoline and levy surcharges on drivers based on the amount they drive.

In fact, SB 350 authorizes no such measures. According to an analysis of the bill by the Assembly Natural Resources Committee, "the bill does not change ARB's regulatory authority" at all. It extends the agency's existing authority. From the SacBee:

The ARB, which would maintain its existing – and often controversial – authority over vehicle emissions and fuel standards, estimates existing policies will reduce petroleum use in cars and trucks by more than 20 percent by 2030. Administration officials say expanding that effort to comply with SB 350 could include building high-speed rail, increasing fuel efficiency of cars and providing more incentives for alternative fuels.

But many lawmakers are leery of ceding authority to the administration to make those decisions.

Originally de León opposed having the legislature intervene in CARB's decisions, saying it would "politicize" the regulatory process. But more recently, he and his colleagues have considered amendments that would address some of those fears, including one prohibiting CARB from fuel rationing and one that would add legislative appointees to CARB. "Giving the legislative branch more voice in the process," he told me, "is definitely something I can live with."

The reaction was unsurprising:

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president of the Western States Petroleum Association, said proposed amendments under discussion at the Capitol do not go far enough.

Somewhat more surprising was this bit of honesty:

"We remain opposed to proposals to reduce petroleum transportation in California," she said in one prepared statement this week.

WSPA may cite consumer costs or regulatory authorities, but in the end it's a petroleum trade group, so it doesn't agree that California should reduce petroleum use. No bill that reduces petroleum use will please it, and no amendments are likely to "go far enough," no matter how many studies are done or legislative buffers installed.

De León told me, "I have every confidence that once Big Oil's smoke screen clears, the members of the Assembly will see that lives are at stake and choose the long-term physical and economic health of their constituents over the short-term profits of polluters."

The stakes in California's latest clean energy fight are huge

There's an immense amount at stake in this battle. To begin with, the passage (or not) of SB 350 and its companion bills carries enormous implications for Jerry Brown's legacy. It's also a test of de León's political acumen and a moment of truth for the California Democratic Party, which has had almost total control of the state legislature since 2012. If a clutch of Democrats panicked by oil-industry lobbying rejects a bill supported by voters, their own party leaders, and the president, it sends a terrible signal to voters about the party's ability to follow through on its promises.

Beyond that, if California loses its nerve on climate policy, the effects could ripple. Currently it is one of the few economies of any size (if it were a country it would be the world's seventh-largest economy) that seems to be taking its commitment to the 2 degrees climate target seriously. Reaffirming that commitment could influence international climate negotiations, which face a crucial turning point in Paris this winter and are looking more and more to subnational actors like states and cities to pick up the slack.

It could also set an example (yet again) for other states, many of which will soon be casting about for ways to comply with Obama's Clean Power Plan. If there is any route to a nationwide carbon pricing system, it's likely to travel the same path as fuel economy standards, which began in California and spread from there.

For good or ill, the decisions made in the California Assembly in coming weeks will reverberate well beyond the state's borders.

02 Sep 11:14

Snopes Swats Down Latest Wingnut Meme

by Joe Jervis

Snopes has responded to the latest crackpot meme sweeping Teabagistan. They write:

Shortly after President Obama announced in August 2015 that he planned to rename Alaska’s Mount McKinley, the highest mountain peak in North America at 20,237 feet, back to “Denali” (the name by which it had been known prior to 1917) in federal nomenclature, a meme started to spread on Facebook claiming that the mountain’s new name was a “Kenyan word” for black power. This simply isn’t true. First, there is no “Kenyan word” for anything. That African country (home of President Obama’s paternal lineage) has two official languages: English and Swahili. Second, “Denali” does not mean “black power” in either English or Swahili. The word for black in Swahili is “mweusi” and the word for power is “nguvu.” There’s also no definition for “Denali” in the Merriam-Webster dictionary that mentions such an etymology or meaning. In the indigenous Athabaskan language of western North America, however, “Denali” does have a meaning. Alaskans have been using the word “Denali,” which means “the great one,” as a name for Mount McKinley for centuries. The state of Alaska has also been officially using the name Denali for Mount McKinley since 1975


The post Snopes Swats Down Latest Wingnut Meme appeared first on Joe.My.God..

01 Sep 04:00

xkcd Survey


Must take survey. Half-dog, half cat, but I was primed by typing cat.

The xkcd Survey: Big Data for a Big Planet
01 Sep 21:04

Your Lifelong Dream of an Egg McMuffin for Dinner Is Now Reality

by Alison Griswold

Here at the Slate Moneybox we are unabashedly fond of the Egg McMuffin, which is why we are so excited to bring you this update: Starting Oct. 6, McDonald’s will debut all-day breakfast across America. That’s from the Wall Street Journal, which reports that the Golden Arches will offer “core” breakfast items such as hot cakes, sausage burritos, and—depending on the region—Egg McMuffins or biscuit sandwiches around the clock at its more than 14,300 U.S. locations.

In addition to fulfilling my, and maybe your, lifelong dream of being able to procure an Egg McMuffin for dinner, the all-day breakfast rollout could also help realize McDonald’s current dream of turning its faltering business around. To briefly recap, McDonald’s global same-store sales fell every month from June 2014 until June 2015, when it opted to stop reporting them altogether. Former chief executive Don Thompson stepped down this past January after a string of spectacular failures, which included a tainted meat scandal in China, disastrous handling of striking fast-food workers, a potentially business-shaking employment ruling from the National Labor Relations Board, the terrifying makeover of Ronald McDonald, and the tragic transformation of McDonald’s “I’m lovin’ it” slogan to “lovin’ beats hatin.’ ”

What else? There was the AP’s June report that McDonald’s this year would close more restaurants than it would open for the first time since at least 1970, and a July survey of franchisees that gave the company its dimmest outlook in 12 years. Let’s not even get into “Pay with lovin’.

Anyway, throughout this year or so of discontent, McDonald’s breakfast has been relatively consistent. In 2014, breakfast sales made up an estimated 25 percent of the company’s business; in 2015 they’ve stayed the same. Until now, though, McDonald’s breakfast sales have been constrained to pre-10:30 a.m. By opening up the entire day, breakfast could grow to 29 percent of sales, an analyst for RBC Capital Markets told the Journal. That would be a welcome boost for a company that is struggling to fend off the likes of Five Guys, Shake Shack, and other “better burger” fast-casual competitors.

Most importantly, though, people actually like McDonald’s breakfast. Yes, people beyond me. McDonald’s customers have long asked for all-day breakfast options, but the company has demurred, explaining that its kitchens aren’t constructed to handle breakfast and lunch or dinner orders simultaneously. To facilitate the October rollout, McDonald’s is reportedly investing $500 to $5,000 per restaurant to reconfigure toasters and various other pieces of equipment. Will it be worth it? The chain began testing all-day breakfast at select locations in March and McDonald’s USA President Mike Andres told the Journal he’s happy with the sales increases seen at those locations. What about sparking a chainwide turnaround? Eh, time shall tell. For now, rejoice in knowing that the best mass-produced breakfast sandwich on the market will soon be available for breakfast, for lunch, and for dinner. Dreams do come true.

30 Aug 13:59

Author Oliver Sacks Dies At Age 82

by Joe Jervis

Noted author and neurologist Oliver Sacks, who came out earlier this year, has died of cancer at the age of 82. USA Today reports:

Sacks, 82, wrote in a Times essay in February that he was in the late stages of a melanoma that had spread to his liver. He died at his home in New York City, longtime personal assistant Kate Edgar told the The New York Times. A friend and colleague, New York University professor Orrin Devinsky, confirmed the death in an email to NPR. Many of Sacks’ books used case histories of his patients as the basis for essays about the brain, the mind and the human condition. His book Awakenings, about a group of encepahlitis patients who briefly regained their mental faculties only to lose them again, inspired the 1990 Oscar-nominated film of the same name starring Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro. In The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Sacks wrote about his patients struggling to live with conditions such as autism, Tourette’s Syndrome, and Parkinson’s Disease. Other books explored deafness, colorblindness, migraines, hallucinations, and other phenomena.


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28 Aug 21:51

US roads where you're most likely to encounter a drunk driver

by Erin Marquis

Filed under: Driving, Safety, United States

Drunk driving is always dangerous and a problem across the country and the world, but certain places have a knack for attracting drunk drivers. In the US, those places tend to be rural western states.

Continue reading US roads where you're most likely to encounter a drunk driver

US roads where you're most likely to encounter a drunk driver originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 28 Aug 2015 17:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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28 Aug 12:55

Gizmodo: Ashley Madison Has Virtually No Real Females

by Joe Jervis

Big data comes to the Ashley Madison fiasco.

The hackers who brought down Ashely Madison say they acted because the site defrauded would-be adulterous men by faking millions of female profiles. An exhaustive analysis performed by Gizmodo has confirmed this. They write:

Three data fields changed everything. The first field, called mail_last_time, contained a timestamp indicating the last time a member checked the messages in their Ashley Madison inbox. If a person never checked their inbox, the field was blank. But even if they’d checked their messages only once, the field contained a date and time. About two-thirds of the men, or 20.2 million of them, had checked the messages in their accounts at least once. But only 1,492 women had ever checked their messages. It was a serious anomaly. The pattern was reflected in another data field, too. This one, called chat_last_time contained the timestamp for the last time a member had struck up a conversation using the Ashley Madison chat system. Roughly 11 million men had engaged in chat, but only 2400 women had. Overall, the picture is grim indeed. Out of 5.5 million female accounts, roughly zero percent had ever shown any kind of activity at all, after the day they were created. The men’s accounts tell a story of lively engagement with the site, with over 20 million men hopefully looking at their inboxes, and over 10 million of them initiating chats. The women’s accounts show so little activity that they might as well not be there.

Hit the link for much more.

The post Gizmodo: Ashley Madison Has Virtually No Real Females appeared first on Joe.My.God..

26 Aug 00:19

Jorge Ramos is the most trusted name in Latino news. Donald Trump bounced him from a press conference.

by Dara Lind

Donald Trump doesn't like people who criticize him, as a general rule. Donald Trump also does not like Univision — he's suing the Spanish-language news network for $500 million after it dropped coverage of his Miss Universe pageant.

So when Univision journalist Jorge Ramos — the most trusted name in Latino news — asked a question at a Trump press conference without getting called on, Trump had his security detail bounce Ramos from the press conference, shouting "Go back to Univision!"

WATCH: Trump kicks Univision's Jorge Ramos out of press conference.

— ¡Gabe! Ortíz (@TUSK81) August 25, 2015

Trump eventually relented and let Ramos back into the press conference. The two men then had an extended back-and-forth over the issues of immigration and the Latino vote, which Ramos alleged Trump might lose for the GOP — and to which Trump replied with this:

Trump: "Hispanics love me; they love me. You know what they want? They want jobs."

— Roger Simon (@politicoroger) August 25, 2015

This is a chart from a Gallup poll from earlier this week:

Jorge Ramos, by contrast, made Time's 2015 list of the most 100 influential people, and is generally considered to be the most authoritative newscaster on Spanish-language television.

Ramos isn't an impartial journalist. He sees his role as championing Latino voters and immigrant rights, and he challenges members of both parties on their immigration records and rhetoric. So it's not surprising that he confronted Trump. But Trump's first response, rather than answering the questions or simply ignoring him, was to kick Ramos out.

24 Aug 17:44

The gravity of China’s great fall


Great fall of China--Nice!

ASIAN markets are once again driving traders batty. A mammoth 8.5% plunge in China's stockmarkets on Monday, August 24th, touched off a wild day on global markets: in which Japanese and European stocks plummeted (as did American shares, before staging a remarkable turnaround) prompting commentators to liken the situation to previous crises from the Wall Street crash of 1929 to the Asian financial crisis of 1997. A day later, the Shanghai Composite Index continued its plummet, falling a further 7.6% as the market closed on August 25th.

Asian share prices have had a brutal summer. China deserves much of the blame. Its own market has crashed (falling by over 40% from its peak, and losing all the ground gained in 2015) amid worries about the pace of China's economic slowdown. Slackening Chinese demand for goods and commodities would represent a...Continue reading

24 Aug 20:11

Photoshop Of The Day

by Joe Jervis

Mediaite reports: “Donald Trump held a sizable, though not stadium-filling, rally in Mobile, Alabama on Friday. Nothing too exciting happened, at least until the Internet got its grubby mitts on a photo taken by Mark Wallheiser for Getty Images. The result was a barrage of Photoshop masterpieces and fails that, taken together, made for a rather entertaining farce. First on the docket is perhaps the best entry [above], courtesy of graphic artist Tom Adelsbach. Like most Photoshop edits, Adlesbach’s image is both hilariously amazing and gut-wrenchingly horrifying.” See more takes on the image at the link or create one of your own. (I know some of you have mad Photoshop skills.)

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19 Aug 20:00

Straight Teen Discovers Best Friend Is Gay In New Short From Coca-Cola

by Dan Tracer

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 12.47.36 PMAs part of Coca-Cola’s True Friendship campaign, the beverage giant teamed up with Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk, J. Edgar) to produce “El SMS (The Text),” a short film about two teen best friends.

From the film’s description:

The campaign, by Pereira & O’Dell, focuses on various different scenarios which question what makes a true friend (#VerdaderoAmigo). In this eight-minute film, a group of teen boys joke and tease each other in the usual high school way about girls, video games and such-like. Two of the boys are especially close buddies, but Rafael is hiding something from his friend Diego– he’s gay. When he leaves his phone unattended, Diego reads a text that surprises him. His decision to cover for his friend, and accept him for who he is, is what cements this true friendship. And, as Rafael points out, gay guys know all the pretty girls.

Black said in a statement: “‘The Text’ was perhaps the most personal for me to direct. As an artist, I feel I have a responsibility to share the stories of who LGBT people truly are in order to dispel any atmosphere of fear that might prevent LGBT people from sharing their lives openly.” He added, “For Coca-Cola to take a pro-diversity, pro-equality stance creates a lot of goodwill in the LGBT community.”

Watch below, and hit ‘CC’ to access English subtitles:

h/t GailyGrind

24 Aug 12:31

How Google convinced China's Communist Party to love science fiction

by Ezra Klein

This is a fascinating story from author Neil Gaiman:

I was in China in 2007, and it was the first ever state-sponsored, Party-approved science-fiction convention. They brought in some people from the west and I was one of them, and I was talking to a number of the older science-fiction writers in China, who told me about how science fiction was not just looked down on, but seen as suspicious and counter-revolutionary, because you could write a story set in a giant ant colony in the future, when people were becoming ants, but nobody was quite sure: was this really a commentary on the state? As such, it was very, very dodgy.

I took aside one of the Party organisers, and said, "OK. Why are you now in 2007 endorsing a science-fiction convention?" And his reply was that the Party had been concerned that while China historically has been a culture of magical and radical invention, right now, they weren’t inventing things. They were making things incredibly well but they weren’t inventing. And they’d gone to America and interviewed the people at Google and Apple and Microsoft, and talked to the inventors, and discovered that in each case, when young, they’d read science fiction. That was why the Chinese had decided that they were going to officially now approve of science fiction and fantasy.

The anecdote comes from a wonderful conversation Gaimain had with Kazuo Ishiguro about genre fiction. It's very much worth reading in full.

24 Aug 12:06

PHILADELPHIA: Cop Caught On Video Extorting Driver, Mocking His “Faggot-Ass” Windshield Wipers

by Joe Jervis reports:

“Either you buy these or I take your car, ’cause it’s unregistered.” Officer Matthew Zagursky didn’t mince words Thursday when he flashed tickets to the Hero Thrill Show, a fundraiser that supports the families of fallen officers and firefighters, to two men after pulling them over. And yesterday, hours after a recording of that exchange went viral, Commissioner Charles Ramsey didn’t either. “No part of that video is good,” Ramsey said of the footage, which also shows Zagursky spouting homophobic slurs. “It’s just bad all the way around.” Ramsey said Zagursky, 32, has been pulled from North Philly’s 24th District and placed on administrative duty as the Internal Affairs Bureau investigates the video, posted to Facebook by a user named “Rob Stay Faded.” In the video, the driver gives Zagursky $30 for two tickets to the Hero Thrill Show, an annual fundraiser that pays the college tuition of the children of police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty. After the money changes hands, the officer jokes with the driver, asking him about his “faggot ass wipers,” referring to the pink-tinted windshield wipers on his car. When the driver tells Zagursky they’re in solidarity with his grandmother, a breast-cancer survivor, the officer tells him he looks like “a fruitcake.”

Philadelphia police claim there is no “internal pressure” for officers to sell tickets to the benefit.

The post PHILADELPHIA: Cop Caught On Video Extorting Driver, Mocking His “Faggot-Ass” Windshield Wipers appeared first on Joe.My.God..

21 Aug 11:00

VIRAL VIDEO: Real Life First-Person Shooter ChatRoulette

by Joe Jervis

Eurogamer reports:

If you log on to Chatroulette, you may be in for a big surprise. No, not that sort of surprise. Instead, how about an invitation to a live-action first-person shooter where you are in control? Escape the Room company Red House Mysteries, along with help from neighbours, local residents and cosplay artists, managed to pull off such a feat, then invited unsuspecting members of the public to try and navigate their creation. The video below shows how impressive it looks when everything comes together, while the making of is also worth a watch to see how much work went into syncing all the different parts (audio, visual effects, actors, props) for the live experience. It also goes to prove that there are normal people out there on Chatroulette. We’ve just never found any.

1.3M views overnight.

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21 Aug 11:19

Patrick Stewart Does Reddit AMA

by Joe Jervis

Yesterday Patrick Stewart took part in one of Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything” sessions. Via E Online:

Patrick Stewart is kind of like the Hollywood version of a unicorn. He’s a very rare combination of brilliant, funny, down to earth and most importantly, royal. Whenever you have the pleasure to be in the presence of Sir Patrick, you should count yourself as lucky. Which is why we knew that his Reddit AMA was going to be good. After all, his Twitter account is something of a masterpiece, and conducting an Ask Me Anything is basically one giant Twitter post. The actor signed up for his first Reddit foray to promote the premiere of his new comedy Blunt Talk, which sees him teaming up with fellow comedian Seth McFarlane. On whether Star Trek actor Jonathan Frakes is better with a beard: “With a beard, preferable, because it tickles when you kiss him.” On his worst habit: “Slurping when I drink…anything.” On hobbies he’d like to pick up: “Yes! Deep-sea diving and mountaineering. There’s something about going up and down that turns me on.”

The banter between Reddit users is also entertaining.

The post Patrick Stewart Does Reddit AMA appeared first on Joe.My.God..

20 Aug 09:56

Jeb Bush and the New York Times: Can You Call Someone Who Thinks He Can Get 4.0 Percent GDP Growth "Wonky?"

by (Dean Baker)

That's what millions of people are asking after reading a NYT article contrasting the "bombastic" Donald Trump to Jeb Bush who is described as "the wonky son of a president." Bush has repeatedly said that he can generate 4.0 percent GDP growth during a Bush presidency.

The baseline projection for the years 2017 though 2025 from the Congressional Budget Office is 2.1 percent. Raising this to 3.0 percent would be a remarkable accomplishment. There is no remotely plausible story that would raise growth to 4.0 percent. It would be sort of like predicting a baseball team going undefeated through 162 game season. It would be difficult to take seriously a team manager who confidently made such predictions. The same should apply to a presidential candidate boasting of 4.0 percent GDP growth.

19 Aug 05:01

Proof cats outcompete dogs? [Life Lines]

by Dr. Dolittle

File:Can e gato, Santiago de Compostela.jpg

By Noel Feans (originally posted to Flickr as Watch your back!) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

New research suggests that cats may have played a role in the extinction of about 40 species of wild dogs by simply out-hunting them and therefore consuming more food.

The study noted that dogs first appeared in North America around 40 million years ago and by 22 million years ago there were over 30 species of wild dogs. Cats arrived from Asia around 20 million years after dogs appeared. The arrival of cats was followed by decreased diversity of dogs. Dr. Daniele Silvestro was quoted in a press release from the University of Gothenburg saying, “We usually expect climate changes to play an overwhelming role in the evolution of biodiversity. Instead, competition among different carnivore species proved to be even more important for canids.” According to the study, only 9 species of wild dogs are found in North America today.

Obtaining food is a major contributor to the evolutionary success of carnivores. According to a quote from Dr. Silvestro in the Oregonian, “The cats have retractable claws which they only pull out when they catch their prey. This means they don’t wear them out and they can keep them sharp. But the dogs can’t do this, so they are at a disadvantage to the cats in an ambush situation.”


University of Gothenburg press release

Silvestro D, Antonelli A, Salamin N, Quental T B: The role of clade competition in the diversification of North American canids. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA (2015). The full article is available free of charge at the following link:

The Oregonian

19 Aug 17:09

Textbooks are a bargain

by (Greg Mankiw)
Compared with Harvard tuition, that is, according to Irwin Collier:
Excerpts from the Harvard Catalogue for 1874-75 with principal texts.... Incidentally, one finds that annual fees for a full course load at Harvard ran $120/year and a copy of John Stuart Mill’s Principles cost $2.50. Cf. today’s price for N. Gregory Mankiw’s Economics which is $284.16. If tuition relative to the price of textbooks had remained unchanged (and the quality change of the Mankiw textbook relative to Mill’s textbook(!) were equal to the quality change of the Harvard undergraduate education today compared to that of 1874-75(!!)), Harvard tuition would only be about $13,600/year today instead of $45,278.

In other words, over the past 140 years, textbook prices have risen only 114-fold, whereas Harvard tuition has risen 377-fold. 

Over this period, the CPI has risen 22-fold. So the real price of textbooks has increased about 5-fold, or a bit more than 1 percent per year.

19 Aug 22:06

GAWKER: Josh Duggar Had Two Ashley Madison Accounts

by Joe Jervis

Holy Family Duggar Research Duggar Council Duggar! Gawker has found TWO paid Ashley Madison accounts for Josh Duggar among the millions of user profiles released today by hackers. They write:

Josh himself took to his family’s Facebook page to absolve himself of his past indiscretions and assure the world he was back on a righteous path. But data released online in the wake of the hack on Ashley Madison’s servers certainly seems to show otherwise. Someone using a credit card belonging to a Joshua J. Duggar, with a billing address that matches the home in Fayetteville, Arkansas owned by his grandmother Mary—a home that was consistently shown on their now-cancelled TV show, and in which Anna Duggar gave birth to her first child—paid a total of $986.76 for two different monthly Ashley Madison subscriptions from February of 2013 until May of 2015.

Here are some of Josh Duggar’s turn-ons in the name of Jesus.JDash1And this is what he’s looking for in an adulterous lover in the name of Jesus.
JDash2Probably like many of you, in general I’m not crazy about the Ashley Madison hacking. But unlike Gawker‘s recent outing of a previously unknown executive, the festering stink of hypocrisy makes THIS story worthwhile.

The post GAWKER: Josh Duggar Had Two Ashley Madison Accounts appeared first on Joe.My.God..

19 Aug 12:00

I’m Latino. I’m Hispanic. And they’re different, so I drew a comic to explain.

by Terry Blas
terry blas comics latino
terry blas comics latino
terry blas comics latino
terry blas comics latino
terry blas comics latino
terry blas comics latino
terry blas comics latino
terry blas comics latino

Terry Blas is a writer/cartoonist and creator of the web series Briar Hollow. He is a member of Portland, Oregon's Periscope Studio, a powerhouse collective of more than two dozen award-winning creatives. Follow him on Twitter @terryblas and on Tumblr at

First Person is Vox's home for compelling, provocative narrative essays. Do you have a story to share? Read our submission guidelines, and pitch us at

14 Aug 15:25

Seriously? Payment for citations?

by drugmonkey

Product placement in Science?

A Reader submitted this gem of a spam email:

We are giving away $100 or more in rewards for citing us in your publication! Earn $100 or more based on the journal’s impact factor (IF). This voucher can be redeemed your next order at [Company] and can be used in conjunction with our ongoing promotions!

How do we determine your reward?
If you published a paper in Science (IF = 30) and cite [Company], you will be entitled to a voucher with a face value of $3,000 upon notification of the publication (PMID).

This is a new one on me.

14 Aug 17:00

Also Forgot His Nuts

by BD

Vaudeville humor still shines.

Grocery Store | Los Angeles, CA, USA

(I go to the store to get bananas, and nothing else. I pay for the bananas, and start to walk away, forgetting them at the register.)

Cashier: *holds bananas up and calls to me* “Hey! Your bananas!”

Me: “That’s between me and my psychiatrist, thank you very much!”

(We all have a good chuckle as I return for the bananas.)

13 Aug 13:37

This semi-autonomous stroller from VW is a great idea

by Noah Joseph

Video is amazing.

Filed under: Marketing/Advertising, Videos, Volkswagen, Europe, Technology, Autonomous

Volkswagen's office in the Netherlands responded to popular demand on social media with this video showing a supposedly semi-autonomous baby stroller.

Continue reading This semi-autonomous stroller from VW is a great idea

This semi-autonomous stroller from VW is a great idea originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 09:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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12 Aug 14:00

Brain imaging research is often wrong. This researcher wants to change that.

by Julia Belluz

They need a Center for Reproducible Neuroscience because most if it isn't. OUCH.

When neuroscientists stuck a dead salmon in an fMRI machine and watched its brain light up, they knew they had a problem. It wasn't that there was a dead fish in their expensive imaging machine; they'd put it there on purpose, after all. It was that the medical device seemed to be giving these researchers impossible results. Dead fish should not have active brains.

california fihs

The lit of brain of a dead salmon — a cautionary neuroscience tale. (University of California Santa Barbara research poster)

The researchers shared their findings in 2009 as a cautionary tale: If you don't run the proper statistical tests on your neuroscience data, you can come up with any number of implausible conclusions — even emotional reactions from a dead fish.

In the 1990s, neuroscientists started using the massive, round fMRI (or functional magnetic resonance imaging) machines to peer into their subjects' brains. But since then, the field has suffered from a rash of false positive results and studies that lack enough statistical power — the likelihood of finding a real result when it exists — to deliver insights about the brain.

When other scientists try to reproduce the results of original studies, they too often fail. Without better methods, it'll be difficult to develop new treatments for brain disorders and diseases like Alzheimer's and depression — let alone learn anything useful about our most mysterious organ.

To address the problem, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation just announced a $3.8 million grant to Stanford University to establish the Center for Reproducible Neuroscience. The aim of the center is to clean up the house of neuroscience and improve transparency and the reliability of research. On the occasion, we spoke to Russ Poldrack, director of the center, about what he thinks are neuroscience's biggest problems and how the center will tackle them.

Julia Belluz: The field of neuroscience seems to have a particular problem with irreproducible results — or studies that fail when researchers try to repeat them. What's going on?

Russ Poldrack: I think there are some parts of neuroscience, like neuroimaging, that have a number of features that make it easier for practices to happen that can drive irreproducible findings.

When we do brain imaging, we're collecting data from 200,000 little spots in the brain, which creates a lot of leeway for false positives, bias, and false negatives. If you don't do the proper corrections — to address the fact that you’re doing a statistical test in each of those places — it's very easy to find a highly significant result [that's not actually real].

A group of researchers a few years ago tried to illustrate this problem by putting a dead salmon in an MRI scanner. When they analyzed data without doing proper corrections, you could find activation in the dead salmon's brain. They were trying to say you should do the [necessary statistical tests] or you can find activation pretty much anywhere.

The field also suffers from generally underpowered studies, especially in neuroimaging. It can cost up to $1,000 for each person we scan. When I started doing [brain scan studies] about 20 years ago, most studies had about eight subjects. Now no one would publish that. We all realize it’s way too underpowered.

The number of subjects in the average study has been going up — now in the order of about 20 to 30. For some analyses, that's reasonably powered, and for others, it's way underpowered.

JB: Wasn't there also just a real seduction in having fMRI machines that allowed scientists to watch the brain at work?


The amazing fMRI machine — its results need to be interpreted with caution. (Levent Konuk/Shutterstock)

RP: The fMRI has only been around a little over 20 years, and it started to take off in the last 10 to 15 years as a technique lots of people are using. It is really seductive: You see someone’s brain doing something while they’re doing a task.

The bigger problem, however, is simply that most of the people in this field had gotten trained to do statistics on much smaller data sets or different types of data sets that we use [today].

For example, there was some prominent work a few years ago about social pain. The idea was that when people experience social rejection, the pattern in their brain looks like it does when they are experiencing physical pain. That got a lot of play — but in the last couple of years, we realized the brain patterns for social pain and physical pain are really distinct.

JB: What will the center do to address these problems?

RP: Our goal is to build an online data analysis platform that people can use that will help them do the right thing. In our case, doing the right thing means doing the data analyses properly.

In part, the reason it’s difficult to do analyses properly is that a lot of people don't have the computational tools. In some cases, these analyses require more computing power than most people have on their desktop. We want to take advantage of high-performance computing systems to allow them to do analyses that would be way too big on their local machine.

Our hope is also that these free, powerful, and innovative computing tools will be an incentive that can get people to share their data so that others can try to reproduce their results or use the data to ask different questions than the original investigators may have been interested in.

This is part of a bigger movement going on across science for openness and transparency and reproducibility. And I think there are people across a lot of different subfields of science who have come to realize that if we don't get this right, the public is not going to continue to fund research.

12 Aug 19:36

CHINA: Hundreds Injured After Massive Industrial Explosion Rocks Northern City Of Tianjin [VIDEO]

by Joe Jervis

The BBC reports:

A massive explosion has hit China’s northern port city of Tianjin, reportedly injuring many people. According to Chinese state media, the explosion occurred when a shipment of explosives blew up at about 23:30 (16:30 GMT). Pictures and video shared on social media showed flames lighting up the sky and damage to nearby buildings. Latest reports in state media suggest that hundreds of people have been taken to hospital. Xinhua news agency said a fire started by the explosion was “under control” but said two firefighters were missing. Shockwaves from the blast could apparently be felt several kilometres away from Tianjin.

Tianjin is China’s fourth-largest city with a metro population of about 15 million. The explosion’s mushroom cloud was reportedly visible for 50 miles.

The post CHINA: Hundreds Injured After Massive Industrial Explosion Rocks Northern City Of Tianjin [VIDEO] appeared first on Joe.My.God..

12 Aug 13:00

I Smell Immaturity

by BD


11 Aug 07:01

The Price is Right winner and cancer survivor calculates the odds

by Nathan Yau

Elisa Long, a professor in Decisions, Operations, and Technology Management at the University of California, Los Angeles, was diagnosed with breast cancer. The Price is Right films a breast cancer awareness episode every August. Long wanted to get on that show. So she watched episodes during her 6-hour chemotherapy sessions to familiarize herself with games and rules, and most importantly, to maximize her odds of winning.

Long describes her thought process and probability calculations on her way to surviving cancer and winning it all on The Price is Right.

My goal in going on "The Price Is Right" was to play the best I possibly could given tremendous uncertainty about the outcome. The same was true for my breast cancer. The stakes were just higher.

Ah, the uncertainty of life.

Tags: cancer, game theory, probability, survival, The Price is Right

05 Aug 11:30

Unlimited vacation is a silly Silicon Valley trend that just won't die

by Dylan Matthews

My tech company just switched to unlimited vacation for senior people. I don't think it will change the # of days I take.

Big news out of Netflix:

UPDATE: Netflix announces unlimited paid paternity and maternity leave for its employees during the 1st year after birth, adoption. • $NFLX

— CNBC Now (@CNBCnow) August 4, 2015

On the one hand, this is a great deal more than most companies do for new parents. The US, basically alone among developed nations, doesn't mandate that companies provide paid family leave at all, and while in theory companies are required to allow 12 weeks of unpaid leave, exemptions to that rule mean that it applies to only about 40 percent of workers. In 2014, less than one in seven workers had access to paid leave. Companies that buck that trend and provide months of paid leave are to be commended.

But Netflix is also engaging in a trend that's at best silly and at worst actively harmful to workers: the idea of "unlimited" leave or vacation.

Leave and vacation will never be truly unlimited

Just when I thought I was out…


Even on the lake the laptop will pull you back in.

Obviously no leave is truly unlimited. That's what it means to have a job. So in practice there are limits. Netflix, for example, gives its supposedly "unlimited" benefits "during the 1st year." Giving employees a full year off is good! But it's not what the word "unlimited" means.

It's also not the same thing as Netflix saying explicitly, "New parents aren't supposed to work the first year after the birth or adoption of their child." It's still optional. While you could, in theory, take the whole year off, are Netflix employees actually going to do that? Or are they going to feel pressure to get back on the job sooner, lest they fall behind their childless colleagues?

This is the basic problem with "unlimited" leave: It replaces clear, predictable limits with limits imposed by vague and arbitrary social pressure to work more. That's what the German tech company Travis CI found upon adopting an unlimited policy (via Melissa Dahl):

When people are uncertain about how many days it's okay to take off, you'll see curious things happen. People will hesitate to take a vacation as they don't want to seem like that person who's taking the most vacation days. It's a race to the bottom instead of a race towards a well rested and happy team…

Uncertainty about how many days are okay to take time off can also stir inequality. It can turn into a privilege for some people who may be more aggressive in taking vacations compared to people who feel like their work and their appreciation at work would suffer from being away for too long.

Some companies have noticed that people are too afraid to take advantage of unlimited leave. Evernote, the note-taking app, started giving workers $1,000 to take at least a week off. But when this was announced, its CEO hadn't vacationed in years. Is risking his, or other executives', approval really worth an extra $1,000 to workers? Some other places, like Travis CI, started a minimum vacation policy. That's far better, especially when it's generous; Travis CI mandates at least five weeks off. But a low minimum could have the same problem as a regular unlimited policy. If you're required to take one week off, and more is optional, are your bosses really not going to think less of you for going out of your way to take more?

Damn you Cantor


Dividing up infinity is stressful.

Unlimited leave also hurts workers through decision paralysis. Allocating unlimited resources can be daunting, and just as research has shown that giving workers too many 401(k) mutual funds to choose from can lead to less and worse savings, unlimited vacation can overwhelm workers to the point that they don't use it to full effect.

So why do companies offer unlimited vacation? Two reasons. One, they know that workers won't actually use it, so it doesn't pose much of a danger from the employer's standpoint. Two, it eliminates a liability from their books. Vacation days show up as a cost on balance sheets, so unlimited vacation makes life easier on the accounting front.

Here's a better idea. Instead of unlimited leave and vacation, firms should just have generous leave and vacation: a year for new parents and five weeks a year for vacation with no rollover, say. If employers want to make that a minimum to increase flexibility, even better. But refusing to give number figures doesn't help matters.