'One of the most common and annoying claims in every hawkish argument regardless of subject is the warning that a lack of “leadership” will “embolden” other actors. No one ever has to prove that such “emboldening” has occurred, and there is no attempt to account for the agency and priorities of other governments. If another state does something Washington opposes, it is simply taken for granted that this is because the U.S. somehow encouraged it by not being activist and aggressive enough. If this claim is put under any scrutiny, it quickly falls apart.
The first error that hawks make is to pretend that foreign governments perceive U.S. actions in the same way that they do. If the U.S. falls short of their maximalist preferences in one or two places, they conclude that the U.S. appears “weak,” but this is usually not how everyone else see things. If they believe that the U.S. has been insufficiently “active” in Syria, for example, they assume that adversaries and rivals perceive the U.S. role in the same way, but that isn’t the case. If anything, Russia and Iran tend to imagine an American hand behind events whether it is there or not, and they usually overstate or invent the American role in developments that they oppose.
What Rice et al. perceive as “inaction” in Syria, Russia and Iran likely perceive as ongoing interference and hostility to their interests. The crisis in Ukraine also looks very different to Moscow than it does to the Westerners that have been agitating for an even larger and more active U.S. role. Western hawks were frustrated by how slow their governments were to throw their full support behind the protesters, and as usual wanted the U.S. and EU to take a much more adversarial and combative approach with Russia because they see Western governments as being far more passive than they want. However, Moscow doesn’t perceive the U.S. role in Ukraine to be a limited or benign one, and the toppling of Yanukovych has been fitted into their view that the protests were a Western-backed plot from the beginning. The idea that Russia would have responded less aggressively to the change in government if the U.S. had been giving the opposition even more encouragement and support is dangerously delusional, but that is what one has to believe in order to argue that the U.S. “emboldened” Moscow in Ukraine.’
I have waited for you to get well settled before writing. By this time I hope some of the strangeness has worn off and that my little girl is working hard and regularly.
Of course, everything is new and unusual. You miss the newness and smartness of America. Gradually, however, you are going to sense the beauty of the old world: its calm and eternity and you will grow to love it.
Above all remember, dear, that you have a great opportunity. You are in one of the world’s best schools, in one of the world’s greatest modern empires. Millions of boys and girls all over this world would give almost anything they possess to be where you are. You are there by no desert or merit of yours, but only by lucky chance.
Deserve it, then. Study, do your work. Be honest, frank and fearless and get some grasp of the real values of life. You will meet, of course, curious little annoyances. People will wonder at your dear brown and the sweet crinkley hair. But that simply is of no importance and will soon be forgotten. Remember that most folk laugh at anything unusual, whether it is beautiful, fine or not. You, however, must not laugh at yourself. You must know that brown is as pretty as white or prettier and crinkley hair as straight even though it is harder to comb. The main thing is the YOU beneath the clothes and skin—the ability to do, the will to conquer, the determination to understand and know this great, wonderful, curious world. Don’t shrink from new experiences and custom. Take the cold bath bravely. Enter into the spirit of your big bed-room. Enjoy what is and not pine for what is not. Read some good, heavy, serious books just for discipline: Take yourself in hand and master yourself. Make yourself do unpleasant things, so as to gain the upper hand of your soul.
Above all remember: your father loves you and believes in you and expects you to be a wonderful woman.
I shall write each week and expect a weekly letter from you.
“[I’m struck by] the odd mix of fear and wish projection with which many conservatives view Putin. We hear how dangerous Putin is but also pretty clearly that they wish our leaders were like him - someone who bends history to his will and all that. I mentioned earlier that for all the carping about how President Obama encouraged Putin’s aggression and hasn’t responded to it with sufficient force - what about what happened in Georgia in 2008? President Bush did basically nothing. The truth is there was very little he could do.
The President’s critics talk about “resolve” and “leadership” and “toughness” because there are not any actual actions they can point to that they think he should do but isn’t. These phrases are plastic, can mean anything and can be puffed up with all manner of wish-projection and foreign policy fantasy untethered to any concrete and specifics actions. It recalls the glory days of #RomneyStrength.
It’s really that clear. Vague and ambiguous phrases are used to conceal this.
What President Obama could do is give Putin an ultimatum to leave Crimea or be forcibly expelled. Then we’d have a real test of strength and Putin would see deep potential costs to his actions. But even the President’s toughest critics recognize this would be insane. It’s really not a good idea to get into a land war with the world’s other major nuclear power on their own terrain.”—Josh Marshall, on Obama and his detractors
The first and most obvious question to ask about the Texas boom in jobs is how much it simply reflects the boom in Texas oil and gas production. Texas boosters say the answer is very little, and play up how much the Texas economy has diversified since the 1970s. And indeed, Texas has more high-tech, knowledge-economy jobs than it did forty years ago. But so does the rest of America, and the stubborn truth is that, despite there being more computer programmers and medical specialists in Texas than a generation ago, oil and gas account for a rapidly rising, not declining, share of the Texas economy.
Unless you’ve been to Texas lately, you might have missed just how gigantic its latest oil and gas boom has become. Thanks to fracking and other new drilling techniques, plus historically high world oil prices, Texas oil production increased by 126 percent just between 2010 and 2013. Only a few years ago, Texas’s oil production had dwindled to just 15 percent of U.S. output; by May of last year it had jumped to 34.5 percent, as new drilling methods opened up vast new plays in once-forgotten corners of south and west Texas with names like Eagle Ford, Spraberry Trend, and Wolfcamp. Thanks to the bonanza of drilling, Texas already produces more oil than Venezuela, and is headed to become the ninth-largest producer of oil in the world, ahead of Kuwait, Mexico, and Iraq.
Meanwhile, Texas accounts for 27 percent of U.S. natural gas production, which is more than the production of any nation except Russia. NASA satellites now record an arc of white light at night stretching from San Antonio to the Mexican border produced by gas flares. As a recent issue of Texas Monthly notes, in once-sleeping towns like Cotulla, where a young Lyndon Johnson taught migrant Mexican children in the 1920s, the population has more than tripled in the past two years, and no fewer than thirteen new hotels have opened, along with numerous “man camps,” to accommodate the influx of oil rig workers.
Though Texas boosters point to the growth of the high-tech industry in Austin, the so-called “telecom corridor” in Dallas, and the growth of health care jobs in Houston, this can’t hide the fact that oil and gas are by far the fastest-growing sources of the state’s economic growth. Between 1998 and 2011, for example, the percent of Texas GDP produced directly by oil and gas extraction more than doubled, according to the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis. This doesn’t even count the growth of related industries, like oil refining and a petrochemical sector now thriving on the state’s abundant supplies of natural gas. Meanwhile, the share of the Texas economy produced by the information, communications, and technology sectors is 27 percent smaller than it was in 1998.
Microsoft’s Corp.’s newly appointed Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella, in an effort to reignite growth, is shuffling management and putting former political operative Mark Penn in the new role of chief strategy officer, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
"No one here I suppose would have forgotten the moment when George Bush met Vladimir Putin, who had chosen for the day to decorate his chest with his grandmother’s ornate Russian Orthodox crucifix. Enough for the President to be convinced and to say that just to look into those beautiful limpid eyes was enough to see that he was a person of deep spirituality and sensitivity. I think by the way in a fairly strong field that’s one of the stupidest things any president has ever said."
What ensued was the only time I can recall seeing Tim Cook angry, and he categorically rejected the worldview behind the NCPPR’s advocacy. He said that there are many things Apple does because they are right and just, and that a return on investment (ROI) was not the primary consideration on such issues.
“When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind,” he said, “I don’t consider the bloody ROI.” He said that the same thing about environmental issues, worker safety, and other areas where Apple is a leader.
As evidenced by the use of “bloody” in his response—the closest thing to public profanity I’ve ever seen from Mr. Cook–it was clear that he was quite angry. His body English changed, his face contracted, and he spoke in rapid fire sentences compared to the usual metered and controlled way he speaks.
He didn’t stop there, however, as he looked directly at the NCPPR representative and said, "If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock."
If you’re a Dropbox user, you probably got an email in the last few days about an update to their TOS that basically puts all disputes into arbitration rather than litigation.
If you’re like me, you probably glossed over this update because gah, legalese.
Allow me to summarize what it means when a company wants to handle all disputes in arbitration:
No matter what they do (delete your data, privacy breach, overcharging, whatever), you don’t get to sue. Instead, THEY get to choose the arbitrator according to whatever criteria they want, and thus any dispute is decided by someone they’re paying.
Also, you can’t join a class-action suit against them. Which sounds like no big deal, but when a company takes advantage of a bunch of people all in the same small way (incorrectly assessing a service charge, for example), class action is how companies are made to clean up their act en masse, instead of waiting for thousands of people to call them up and demand their $20 back or whatever.
I love Dropbox and use/recommend it enthusiastically. But this is a company that we entrust with some of our most important data- the kind of data we need to have access to wherever we are. Family photos, portfolios, projects representing years of work, etc. And as we’ve seen with Google buying Nest, even if we trust the management team in charge of our data right now, that’s not guaranteed in the future. Founders move on to other things. Companies with great products get acquired. Business decisions get made that change the direction of the company.
The agreement we make with Dropbox is too important to be enforced only by an arbitrator of their choosing. You have 30 days from the date of notification to opt out of the arbitration clause. Do it now.
“The typical excuse for that exclusion is genre, not gender. But those two words have a common root, and are intertwined in many ways. Romance is seen as unserious and frivolous because women are seen as unserious and frivolous, and romance is written largely by women, for women, about concerns traditionally seen as feminine (Jennifer Weiner and Jodi Picoult have made a similar argument about commercial fiction by women).”—Noah Berlatsky from Salon.com on Highbrow media’s sexist blind spot: Romance novels (via sarahmaclean)
She wanted you to know that Jordan Davis was an individual black person. That he was an upper-middle-class kid. That his ancestry was diverse. That he had blacks in his family. Mexicans in his family. Panamanians in his family. That his great-grandfather was white. That some of his ancestors had passed.
She wanted you to know that Jordan Davis was not from the “Gunshine State.” That he was from Atlanta—Douglasville, Georgia, to be exact—where black people have things, and there is great pride in this. She wanted the world to know that Jordan Davis had things. That he lived in a three-story home in a cul-de-sac. That most of the children there had two parents. That original owners still lived in the development. That she was only the third owner. That Jordan Davis had access to all the other activities that every other kid in the neighborhood did, that he had not been deprived by divorce.
And she wanted you to know that Jordan Davis had a father. That this was why he was living in Jacksonville, where he was killed. That she was battling a second round of breast cancer and Davis’s father said to her, “Let me raise him, you get well.” She wanted you to know that she never ever kept Davis from his father. That she never put Jordan in the middle of the divorce, because she had already been there herself as a child—placed as a go-between between her mother and father. She said that this had wreaked havoc on her as a young woman. That it had even wreaked havoc on her own marriage. That she had carried that pain into relationships, into marriage, and did not want to do the same. She wanted you to know that Davis’s father, Ron, is a good man.
She wanted you to know that what happened to Jordan in Jacksonville might not have happened in Atlanta, where black people enjoy some level of prestige and influence. That Jordan believed the level of consciousness in Jacksonville was not what it was in Atlanta, and that this ultimately played into why Jordan spoke up. That this ultimately played into why he was killed. I thought of Emmett Till, who was slaughtered for not comprehending the rules. For failing to distinguish Chicago, Illinois, from Money, Mississippi. For believing that there was one America, and it was his country.
Today’s news is very simple to understand. Netflix decided it made sense to pay Comcast for every port they use to connect to Comcast’s network, like many other content owners and network providers have done. This is how the Internet works, and it’s not about providing better access for one content owner over another, it simply comes down to Netflix making a business decision that it makes sense for them to deliver their content directly to Comcast, instead of through a third party. Tied into Netflix’s decision is the fact that Comcast guarantees a certain level of quality to Netflix, via their SLA, which could be much better than Netflix was getting from a transit provider. While I don’t know the price Comcast is charging Netflix, I can guarantee you it’s at the fair market price for transit in the market today and Comcast is not overcharging Netflix like some have implied. Many are quick to want to argue that Netflix should not have to pay Comcast anything, but they are missing the point that Netflix is already paying someone who connects with Comcast. It’s not a new cost to them.
While this may be a tempest-in-a-teapot situation, I assume most people are freaking out here because of this news mixed with the proposed Time Warner Cable acquisition. And I’m fine with that because people should be freaking out about the latter, even if not the former.
“Humor is fundamentally a sense of perspective, and as I’ve grown older I’ve just gone back to the position I had when I was 15 or 16, when I thought most of what was going on was absolutely ridiculous.”—John Cleese
“The consensus that female lust is normal and real has been a long time coming—so long that any acknowledgment that our desire is adulterated by doubt can still seem anti-woman, or anti-sex, or anti-sexual-woman (or just a downer). The challenge that the new group of memoirs converges on is to show otherwise: to get at what feels true, which is that the endless internal oscillation that happens during sex needn’t sabotage our sexual experience, much less our autonomy. If questioning can’t be part of expressing female desire, that is a diminishment.”—
A fascinating piece — mainly about nonfiction and memoir — but I confess, it is awfully difficult for me to write sex scenes because I feel so compelled to get them right - and to provide my heroines with agency around the act.
“Feasible or not, gamification is the object of desire of contemporary capitalism and, as such, deserves attention because it prefigures trends to come. It’s the fantasy of measurement of the unmeasurable (lifestyle, affects, activism, reputation, self esteem…), as measurement is a precondition for commodification. It’s the new frontier in the rationalization of our lives.”—Videogames and the Spirit of Capitalism | Molleindustria (via buzz)
“With regard to its Internet services, Comcast would emerge from the takeover in a similarly dominant position and thus have no economic incentive to upgrade its own and Time Warner’s outdated cable systems — veritable two-lane toll roads with potholes, compared with the Internet superhighways in Europe, Japan and urban East Asia. In Chattanooga, Tenn., for example, Comcast’s triple-play package — cable, Internet and telephone — costs 10 times what South Korean firms charge in Seoul, albeit with a slower Internet connection for the cheapest Korean deal.”—Comcast’s costly package | Al Jazeera America (via markcoatney)
“David Brooks has done it again. This time he wrote a column about how America’s class divisions are illustrated by the parable of the prodigal son: “We live in a divided society in which many of us in the middle- and upper-middle classes are like the older brother and many of the people who drop out of school, commit crimes and abandon their children are like the younger brother.” The point of his column was to exhort the “older brothers” not to be snobby moralists but to have compassion on the poor people who are like their “younger brothers.” Except that by making this blanket statement about why poor people are poor, Brooks becomes the snobby moralist he’s supposedly critiquing. There’s no way to make a legitimate analogy between the story of the prodigal son and the class divide in America. When rich kids spend their inheritance money on drugs and prostitutes, they get to run back home when they hit rock bottom and crash-land at Mom and Dad’s house.”—No, David Brooks, the poor are not the prodigal son (via kenyatta)
“Amazon didn’t create any jobs. Amazon probably destroyed a million jobs in our economy. We have to find a way as a capitalist democracy to account for that.”—Early Amazon investor Nick Hanauer, who is pushing for a $15 minimum wage in Seattle.
“Consider that one of the Federal Communications Commission regulators who approved the NBCUniversal deal, Meredith Attwell Baker, now works for Comcast as a lobbyist. Since that deal, there has been a change in leadership at the commission, and it is now run by Tom Wheeler, who was previously a chief lobbyist for the cable industry. (Comcast is among the biggest spenders on lobbying, having written checks for $18 million in 2013 alone.)”—David Carr, Stealthily, Comcast Fortifies Its Arsenal
In the first one, it’s March 1945, and Verhoeven is 6 years old, watching from a distance as a squadron of British bombers — dispatched to take out V-2 rocket launch sites, but operating on faulty coordinates — turns his neighborhood in the Hague into an inferno. As far as Verhoeven knows, his parents are somewhere in that fire; they’d gone back to retrieve some of the family’s belongings when the bombing began. They’ll return unharmed, having taken shelter under a viaduct. Later, Verhoeven will tell van Scheers that his dreams of the war are usually happy ones. “It’s always bombs, fire, broken glass, bodies and chaos, but everything goes all right. I see myself running around with a short carbine, hopefully on the side of the good guys, and firing at the enemy. Streets collapse behind me and houses explode, but I effortlessly jump on and off a train. Nothing can touch me. I realize, of course, that it’s all because my parents returned unscathed from those smoke clouds.”
(At night in his old neighborhood, he told van Scheers, “you could see the enormous beams of the searchlights above Rotterdam and hear the noise of anti-aircraft guns. Sometimes a plane would be hit and disappear behind the horizon, burning. And yet these images did not fill me with fear; instead, they were exciting — the ultimate special effect. You couldn’t wish for anything better really.” He’s said things like this in interview after interview, seemingly unconcerned about sounding like exactly the kind of cold-ass psychopath his detractors assume he must be.)
In the second one, it’s the early ’60s. Verhoeven graduates from college — where he studied math and physics while dabbling in filmmaking, surrealist painting, and black magic — and gets drafted into the Dutch Air Force. They want him to work on calculating rocket trajectories.5 Instead, he finagles a transfer to the Navy’s film unit and spends his two-year hitch bringing an unsurprising-in-retrospect level of excitement and spectacle to projects like 1965’s Het Korps Mariniers, a documentary commemorating the tricentennial of the Dutch marine corps. “To give a good impression of the activities of the marines,” van Scheers writes, “Verhoeven felt it necessary to ask the army command for rubber speedboats, amphibious vehicles, divers, helicopters, and even the aircraft carrier Karel Doorman, as well as a number of marine divisions.” In Verhoeven’s movie, Scheers says, “the Dutch army shows a readiness for battle which it was never credited with in real life.”
And in the third story, it’s 1966, and Verhoeven is out of the Navy and struggling to get a foot in the door of the sleepy Dutch film industry. Then his girlfriend gets pregnant. Verhoeven is facing the end of a film career he’s barely started; in a moment of panicked soul-searching, he accepts a religious pamphlet from a woman on the street and winds up at a Pentecostal church in the Hague, where the parishioners speak in tongues. “The weird thing,” he says, “was that you could physically feel — because that was what it was all about — the Holy Ghost descending, as if a laser beam was cutting through my head and my heart was on fire.” Later, after Verhoeven and his girlfriend manage to arrange an abortion, they go to see the original 1933 King Kong, and Kong appears to Verhoeven as “an avenging angel from the Old Testament.”
Verhoeven rejects the religious component of the vision, but comes away from the whole experience convinced of the fragility of his psyche and his need to “close the doors of perception” to avoid ending up like Friedrich Nietzsche, mad in the streets of Turin, hugging a whipped horse. Afterward, he tells van Scheers, “as an antidote, I started to film in a hyper-realistic way. My work became my anchor in reality. Hence the need to show everything so explicitly: the fucking and the pricks and the shit and the drugs and the violence. In the Netherlands people always got enormously worked up about that, and of course there was an element of provocation in it — but the background to it was my always wanting to have both feet firmly on the ground. Fear, it was fear that I might slip away mentally. This is why my films have always been firmly anchored in reality instead of ideas.”
[Comcast] oversees an extensive D.C. operation. It spent almost $20 million last year lobbying Congress on reforms to the country’s cable laws, the future of the FCC’s net neutrality rules and other topics. Time Warner Cable for its part spent $8 million last year to lobby on many of those same issues, according to federal disclosures. Comcast’s long-time law firms Davis Polk & Wardwell will handle antitrust issues and Wilkie Farr will be responsible for regulatory legal issues.
Comcast is also active in campaign finance, donating $1.7 million to the 2014 reelection efforts of key lawmakers, including GOP Reps. Fred Upton (Mich.) and Greg Walden (Ore.), the leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and its top telecom panel, respectively. And the company reported having an additional $850,000 on hand to spend on campaigns at the beginning of January, according to disclosures to the Federal Election Commission.
[Comcast’s Executive Vice President David] Cohen bundled more than $500,000 for President Barack Obama in 2012. And the company employs well-known Washington names like Meredith Atwell Baker, a former FCC commissioner who joined the company after Comcast won regulatory approval for its NBC deal.
While Apple owes nearly 90 percent of its revenues to mobile devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod, iTunes and Accessories), Google only attributes around 15 percent of its total revenues to mobile ads and Google Play app sales.
As Apple’s numbers illustrate, the real money in mobile is not paid search (the keystone of Google’s entire business) but in hardware profits. That’s not new; it wasn’t Sun and Adobe or Linux vendors who were making the money back in the early days of smartphones; it was Nokia and Blackberry, the hardware vendors.
Easier said than done. Georgians and southerners love their sprawl, and are deeply averse to urban planning investments that involve participation. Developers know this, and prey on southern states for its cheap land and purchasable politicians. Voters, therefore, need to force their politicians to decouple their relationships with big land developers and engage the public.
“See, there’s this thing at the intersection between the worst music nerds and the worst comic book nerds (and, nerds, I say this as a pretty bad representation of both) called “canon.” Canon is the art or narrative that “really matters,” as determined by people who wouldn’t know true meaningfulness if it were spelled out in the liner notes of Exile on Main Street (a not-particularly-interesting canon album, as determined by people who have either never tried heroin or won’t shut up about it). Within this rarefied stratosphere, some bands don’t matter. They didn’t sell enough copies, or they sold far too many; either way, they haven’t been immortalized in even a single oral history. Why the fuck are they getting back together? This gets applied to a lot of ‘90s hardcore/emo/screamo/wearing-shorts-on-stage acts—many of which are reuniting, and many of which were definitely not big the first time around. It’s entirely reasonable that genres of music by and for those who fancy themselves misanthropes would instill a distrust in anything that could be construed as a contrived rehash of a glory that never truly existed. But all the “-cores” are highly dependent on nostalgia from the get-go—nostalgia for youth, innocence, that golden age from a week ago when there was no backstabbing and the “scene” was fun and true. So hardcore reunions should be seen as the logical conclusion of a worldview rather than a betrayal. And even if it is a betrayal, what’s the problem? Hardcore kids love betrayal. So get back together and be blessed, Wide Awake. And fuck a canon. That shit’s for dads and priests.”—Zachary Lipez, on music, nerds and canon
“What I found so worrisome about TEDWomen was that I was seeing firsthand what happens when “feminism” isn’t defined by feminists. Instead of the messy, nuanced reality, we got a carefully curated package of what powerful people think feminism should be—or, at least, which feminism would be most appealing. Because while comedian Maysoon Zayid talking about her life with cerebral palsy and Dr. Paula Johnson explaining bias in medical diagnoses are absolutely feminist, they are also deliberately feel-good and controversy-free. It’s feminism without the fight.”—Jessica Valenti