1918
Stop Instagramming Your Perfect Life | RELEVANT Magazine
joynthemidst: @aaron_king @ace_king_queen “@RELEVANT: Everyone's life looks perfect on social media, but u don't have to bjealous. http://t.co/Ck8JT4yHbU”
from instapaper
april 2013
The complete guide to taking notes effectively at work
The value of note-taking—or notebooks at least—gets a stock market capitalization in the coming weeks with Moleskine’s planned IPO. The Italian stationery firm has boosted the profile of note-taking at companies around the world. But is all of the scribbling on nicely bound paper actually helping business people? And what are the best ways to use [...]
from instapaper
march 2013
The economics of the platinum coin option: Platinomics | The Economist
kairyssdal: Really good. But dense. “@TheStalwart: Great @greg_ip post on #MintTheCoin. Real deep dive into the economics. http://t.co/IAw5rEbF”
from instapaper
january 2013
Grammar: Is "whom" history? From the mouths of babes | The Economist
Grammar
Is "whom" history? From the mouths of babes
Oct 1st 2012, 16:11 by R.L.G. | NEW YORK

A CORRESPONDENT writes:

My 4 year old corrected my wife today. My wife used "whom" in a sentence (properly, mind you) and my daughter said "mama, sometimes you say a weird word, 'whom', when what you should be saying is 'who'. 'Whom' is not a real word."Language change in action?
Amazing, this. First, we see how grammatically aware kids are here. Second, we see evidence that girls are usually faster to learn language than boys; this is a very clever point from a four-year-old. Finally, we may be seeing something about the future of whom here, which we'll return to in a moment.

As it happens, my own 11-year-old son asked me this morning, of his new baby brother, "Can we teach him to talk really early, like at two?  I want him to be able to hang out and play, because we only have a few years before I go off to college." Heart-meltingly cute. But I explained to him that we can't really teach the baby to talk early; babies go through predictable language development pretty much at their own pace. The baby is now cooing and gurgling, and making a few basic consonant sounds. By one or so he'll be babbling and maybe using a couple of words proper. By two he'll be stringing words together. By three we'll see pretty complete sentences, and by four we'll have a real talker on our hands. But at two, he's not going be much for conversation.

The astonishing growth between two and four in a child's language development is the kind of evidence that convinced people like Noam Chomsky and Steven Pinker that babies have, a "language organ" (Chomsky) or a "language instinct" (Pinker).  Prof Chomsky argued from "the poverty of the stimulus": babies get little instruction, and the talking they hear around them is a fragmented mess. That they learn grammar at all is a minor miracle that Prof Chomsky attributes to an innate ability. Other researchers have argued that children's language stimulus isn't so poor as Prof Chomsky argued. And plenty of linguists and psychologists dispute the innateness hypothesis entirely. Be that as it may, one thing is clear: children's language abilities develop at an astonishing pace between two and four, and it seems that they largely teach themselves.

As I told my son this morning, kids make cute errors like I goed because they seek regularity. They've learned that the past tense of English verbs usually involves a -d or -t sound at the end of a word (played, slept). No surprise that they overgeneralise to goed, speaked and the like. They are literally making up the rules as they go along.

What has my friend's four-year-old learned? There's a pronoun who. It's a question word that can start sentences like "Who is that?" Adults also use it all the time in questions like "Who'd you invite over?" and "Who are you talking about?" It also can kick off a relative clause: "She's the colleague who sits next to me," and "She's the colleague who I've started to become friends with." In other words, the girl has heard revered, trusted adults (parents, teachers) using who as a subject, a direct object and an object of a preposition. Rule: who is used in all these roles.

And then comes this occasional weird variant. Every once in a while, mummy or daddy, for no obvious reason, uses whom in the exact same place they usually use who. Grown-ups are silly. They don't let me cut my own hair, they insist on eating disgusting green plants, and they occasionally misspeak. Mommy, it's who, not whom.

The thing is, the girl's rule is right: who is used in all these roles. Geoffrey Pullum makes a distinction between Normal and Formal language, and most English-speakers today, when in Normal mode, steer clear of whom. We leave out the relative pronoun (That's the friend I'm inviting to dinner) or just use who. Children are rarely exposed to Formal, and have little concept of register. Whom is just weird for them. A search of the Spoken category of the Corpus of Contemporary English finds that I is about eight times more common than me—but who is 57 times more common than whom. It appears just 53 times out of every million words.  That number would be even lower in the language used around a four-year-old. No wonder she might process it as a mere glitch in Mommy's English.

My friend asked "language change in action?" Yes, probably, but his daughter is reflecting, not driving the change here. (Kids do drive all kinds of other changes, especially when they become teenagers and play with language self-consciously.) Here, she's just seeing that hardly anyone uses whom. Our societies increasingly prize spontaneity, authenticity and "just talking" over polish and elaborate formality. In other words, Normal.

Since whom is becoming less common, many people can't use it properly even when they are aiming for Formal. (A common mistake is using it in a subject role, for example: That's the candidate whom I hope will win the election. Here, the mistake is in thinking that I hope turns who into an object. But the clause is really who will win the election, with I hope just an interpolation.) The unease over whom just makes people avoid it more. 

I think whom has a long life left in it, though, for non-grammatical reasons. Educated people prize language, and the mastery of Formal. Their status at the top of the social heap is an incentive to treat the proper use of whom are a sign of intelligence, not just the Formal register. They do most of the edited and published writing we consume. And so whom will live in print for a good long time, even as many of those same people ignore it when they're chatting at the proverbial water cooler.

Kids will go on reaching secondary school being taught, for the first time, how to use who's strange cousin. The will also be learning a meta-linguistic lesson: sometimes you don't use the language that comes most naturally to you. And finally, when they have kids, they'll start explaining the whole strange story to them in turn.
from instapaper
october 2012
Another Conservative Conspiracy Theory Bites the Dust | Mother Jones
MotherJones: #FastandFurious: "Yet another lunatic conservative conspiracy theory that bit the dust in the cold light of reality." http://t.co/Q2YMTnjs
from instapaper
september 2012
Print - The Honor System - Esquire
TheFeature: "On April 11 of this year Teller did something it seems no magician has done in decades" http://t.co/olQFH1yI
from instapaper
september 2012
The Basics - WGN
lenandbob: Today on @WGNTV #StatsSunday--ode to old school fans. Thx to Yahoo! Sports columnist @JeffPassan for our blog feature! http://t.co/YuBdOgiH
from instapaper
september 2012
An Ex-Terrorist Walks Into a Conservative Conference... | Mother Jones
BenjySarlin: What a story. RT @MotherJones: An Ex-Terrorist Walks Into a Conservative Conference... http://t.co/sNmUO9y6
from instapaper
september 2012
Tax and transfer: Win the war on poverty with redistribution.
mattyglesias: Boosting living standards through redistribution's not just a pipe dream, it's happening all around us: http://t.co/d3guQArg
from instapaper
september 2012
Michael Lewis: Obama’s Way | Vanity Fair
jkottke: FYI, Vanity Fair just posted Michael Lewis' full profile of Obama: http://t.co/4AzsjX5s (thx, @wistdom)
from instapaper
september 2012
Barack Obama to Michael Lewis on a Presidential Loss of Freedom: “You Don’t Get Used to It—At Least, I Don’t” | Vanity Fair
“Don’t be looking to the sidelines all sheepish,” Barack Obama yells at Vanity Fair contributing editor Michael Lewis in “Obama’s Way,” in October’s V.F. “You got to get back and play D!” When you’re on the president’s basketball team, Lewis learns, and you take a stupid shot, the president of the United States screams at you. When Lewis gets benched, he notices that no one goes easy on No. 44 (Obama’s number in the line of U.S. presidents, also emblazoned on his high-tops). “If you take it easy on him, you’re not invited back,” explains one of the players for the other team, a former Florida State point guard. (Everyone on the court played basketball in college, and some even played pro overseas.)

 “Assume that in 30 minutes you will stop being president. I will take your place. Prepare me. Teach me how to be president,” Lewis, who interviewed President Obama multiple times over six months—on Air Force One, in the Oval Office, and on the basketball court—asks. Obama explains that every president is deeply aware of his duty to the American people. “Everything you are doing has to be viewed through this prism,” he says. “I don’t know George Bush well. I know Bill Clinton better. But I think they both approached the job in that spirit.”

 Obama also covers the mundane details of presidential existence. “You have to exercise,” he says, “or at some point you’ll just break down.” At play, the president wears red-white-and-blue Under Armor high-tops, but at work it’s strictly blue or gray suits. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make,” he tells Lewis. “You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.” Lewis says that if he were president he might keep a list in his head. “I do,” Obama adds. “That’s my last piece of advice to you. Keep a list.”

 “Nothing comes to my desk that is perfectly solvable,” Obama tells Lewis. “Otherwise, someone else would have solved it. So you wind up dealing with probabilities. Any given decision you make you’ll wind up with a 30 to 40 percent chance that it isn’t going to work. You have to own that and feel comfortable with the way you made the decision. You can’t be paralyzed by the fact that it might not work out.”  

 “One of my most important tasks is making sure I stay open to people, and the meaning of what I’m doing, but not to get so overwhelmed by it that it’s paralyzing. Option one is to go through the motions. That I think is a disaster for a president. But there is the other danger,” Obama tells Lewis. “There are times when I have to save it and let it out at the end of the day.”

 “When I’m in Washington I spend half my time in this place,” the president says of the Oval Office. “It’s surprisingly comfortable.” Obama didn’t make many changes to the room. “We came in when the economy was tanking and our first priority wasn’t redecorating.” One thing he did do early on, though, was to fill the shelves with the original applications for several famous patents and patent models. “They had a bunch of plates in there,” he says, of prior administrations. “I’m not a dish guy.” Obama points to the 1849 patent model of Samuel Morse’s first telegraph: “This is the start of the Internet right here,” he tells Lewis. The president says there is no taping system in the Oval Office but that it would be fun to have one: “It’d be wonderful to have a verbatim record of history.” He also tells Lewis that people are nervous when they enter that storied room; “I think that the space affects them. But when you work here you forget about it.” According to Lewis, the first thing President Obama did in there, on his first day on the job, was to call in several junior staff members. “Let’s just stay normal,” he told them.

The president also opened up to Lewis about:

Life in the White House: “The first night you sleep in the White House, you’re thinking, All right. I’m in the White House. And I’m sleeping here. There’s a time in the middle of the night when you just kind of startle awake. There’s a little bit of a sense of absurdity. There is such an element of randomness in who gets this job. What am I here for? Why am I walking around the Lincoln Bedroom? That doesn’t last long. A week into it you’re on the job.”
The high price that comes with the job: “You can’t wander around. It’s much harder to be surprised. You don’t have those moments of serendipity. You don’t bump into a friend in a restaurant you haven’t seen in years. The loss of anonymity and the loss of surprise is an unnatural state. You adapt to it, but you don’t get used to it—at least I don’t.”
His odd relationship to the news: “One of the things you realize fairly quickly in this job is that there is a character people see out there called Barack Obama. That’s not you. Whether it is good or bad, it is not you. I learned that on the campaign. You have to filter stuff, but you can’t filter it so much you live in this fantasy land.”
His difficulty with faking emotion: “I feel it is an insult to the people I’m dealing with. For me to feign outrage, for example, feels to me like I’m not taking the American people seriously. I’m absolutely positive that I’m serving the American people better if I’m maintaining my authenticity. And that’s an overused word. And these days people practice being authentic. But I’m at my best when I believe what I am saying.”
His favorite spot in the White House, the Truman Balcony: “Michelle and I come out here at night and just sit. It’s the closest you can get to feeling outside. To feeling outside the bubble.”
One of his favorite things, a handwritten copy of the Gettysburg Address that sits under a protective cloth in the Lincoln Bedroom: “There are times when you come in here and you’re having a particularly difficult day. Sometimes I come in here.”
from instapaper
september 2012
The Bush White House Was Deaf to 9/11 Warnings - NYTimes.com
The Deafness Before the Storm
By KURT EICHENWALD
Published: September 10, 2012 421 Comments
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IT was perhaps the most famous presidential briefing in history.

Javier Jaén Benavides
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Times Topic: Sept. 11, 2001
Related in Opinion

News Analysis: How Resilient Is Post-9/11 America? (September 9, 2012)

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On Aug. 6, 2001, President George W. Bush received a classified review of the threats posed by Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network, Al Qaeda. That morning’s “presidential daily brief” — the top-secret document prepared by America’s intelligence agencies — featured the now-infamous heading: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” A few weeks later, on 9/11, Al Qaeda accomplished that goal.

On April 10, 2004, the Bush White House declassified that daily brief — and only that daily brief — in response to pressure from the 9/11 Commission, which was investigating the events leading to the attack. Administration officials dismissed the document’s significance, saying that, despite the jaw-dropping headline, it was only an assessment of Al Qaeda’s history, not a warning of the impending attack. While some critics considered that claim absurd, a close reading of the brief showed that the argument had some validity.

That is, unless it was read in conjunction with the daily briefs preceding Aug. 6, the ones the Bush administration would not release. While those documents are still not public, I have read excerpts from many of them, along with other recently declassified records, and come to an inescapable conclusion: the administration’s reaction to what Mr. Bush was told in the weeks before that infamous briefing reflected significantly more negligence than has been disclosed. In other words, the Aug. 6 document, for all of the controversy it provoked, is not nearly as shocking as the briefs that came before it.

The direct warnings to Mr. Bush about the possibility of a Qaeda attack began in the spring of 2001. By May 1, the Central Intelligence Agency told the White House of a report that “a group presently in the United States” was planning a terrorist operation. Weeks later, on June 22, the daily brief reported that Qaeda strikes could be “imminent,” although intelligence suggested the time frame was flexible.

But some in the administration considered the warning to be just bluster. An intelligence official and a member of the Bush administration both told me in interviews that the neoconservative leaders who had recently assumed power at the Pentagon were warning the White House that the C.I.A. had been fooled; according to this theory, Bin Laden was merely pretending to be planning an attack to distract the administration from Saddam Hussein, whom the neoconservatives saw as a greater threat. Intelligence officials, these sources said, protested that the idea of Bin Laden, an Islamic fundamentalist, conspiring with Mr. Hussein, an Iraqi secularist, was ridiculous, but the neoconservatives’ suspicions were nevertheless carrying the day.

In response, the C.I.A. prepared an analysis that all but pleaded with the White House to accept that the danger from Bin Laden was real.

“The U.S. is not the target of a disinformation campaign by Usama Bin Laden,” the daily brief of June 29 read, using the government’s transliteration of Bin Laden’s first name. Going on for more than a page, the document recited much of the evidence, including an interview that month with a Middle Eastern journalist in which Bin Laden aides warned of a coming attack, as well as competitive pressures that the terrorist leader was feeling, given the number of Islamists being recruited for the separatist Russian region of Chechnya.

And the C.I.A. repeated the warnings in the briefs that followed. Operatives connected to Bin Laden, one reported on June 29, expected the planned near-term attacks to have “dramatic consequences,” including major casualties. On July 1, the brief stated that the operation had been delayed, but “will occur soon.” Some of the briefs again reminded Mr. Bush that the attack timing was flexible, and that, despite any perceived delay, the planned assault was on track.

Yet, the White House failed to take significant action. Officials at the Counterterrorism Center of the C.I.A. grew apoplectic. On July 9, at a meeting of the counterterrorism group, one official suggested that the staff put in for a transfer so that somebody else would be responsible when the attack took place, two people who were there told me in interviews. The suggestion was batted down, they said, because there would be no time to train anyone else.

That same day in Chechnya, according to intelligence I reviewed, Ibn Al-Khattab, an extremist who was known for his brutality and his links to Al Qaeda, told his followers that there would soon be very big news. Within 48 hours, an intelligence official told me, that information was conveyed to the White House, providing more data supporting the C.I.A.’s warnings. Still, the alarm bells didn’t sound.

On July 24, Mr. Bush was notified that the attack was still being readied, but that it had been postponed, perhaps by a few months. But the president did not feel the briefings on potential attacks were sufficient, one intelligence official told me, and instead asked for a broader analysis on Al Qaeda, its aspirations and its history. In response, the C.I.A. set to work on the Aug. 6 brief.

In the aftermath of 9/11, Bush officials attempted to deflect criticism that they had ignored C.I.A. warnings by saying they had not been told when and where the attack would occur. That is true, as far as it goes, but it misses the point. Throughout that summer, there were events that might have exposed the plans, had the government been on high alert. Indeed, even as the Aug. 6 brief was being prepared, Mohamed al-Kahtani, a Saudi believed to have been assigned a role in the 9/11 attacks, was stopped at an airport in Orlando, Fla., by a suspicious customs agent and sent back overseas on Aug. 4. Two weeks later, another co-conspirator, Zacarias Moussaoui, was arrested on immigration charges in Minnesota after arousing suspicions at a flight school. But the dots were not connected, and Washington did not react.

Could the 9/11 attack have been stopped, had the Bush team reacted with urgency to the warnings contained in all of those daily briefs? We can’t ever know. And that may be the most agonizing reality of all.

Kurt Eichenwald, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and a former reporter for The New York Times, is the author of “500 Days: Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars.”
from instapaper
september 2012
Baseball Prospectus | Baseball Prospectus News: Goodbye to the Internet
Baseball Prospectus News
Goodbye to the Internet
by Kevin Goldstein

This one isn't easy. I don't even know where to start. I remember some editor yelling at some writer in some movie about not burying the lead, so I'll do that. This is my final piece at Baseball Prospectus, as I've accepted a position as Pro Scouting Coordinator for the Houston Astros. That doesn't sound real to me yet either, but there it is. Needless to say, I'm extremely excited about this opportunity and the challenge ahead of us. I've been nothing but incredibly impressed with the entire staff in Houston, as well as their plans for the future, and I'm absolutely honored to suddenly be a small part of it.

Yes, it's a dream job, no question, but this wasn't an easy decision. I love this place. Honestly and truly. In my six-plus years here, I've grown personally and professionally and was never asked to be anything but myself. You really can't ask for anything more from a place of work. I've seen a lot of changes since I was brought in by Nate Silver, and I can't tell you how excited I am for the future under Joe Hamrahi. There are many fantastic things happening at Baseball Prospectus, and so many more things coming because of Joe's leadership. Knowing the ship has such a fantastic captain at the wheel made this decision much easier, as does the content published here that continues to blow me away on a daily basis. People like Ben Lindbergh, Sam Miller, Colin Wyers and Bradley Ankrom are going to be huge in this world, and I can't wait to see it happen. And prospect coverage won't be any less comprehensive here, either. You should expect some exciting announcements in that regard, and soon.

I loved writing here, but I was never a writer. I never enjoyed the actual process of writing. It always was a chore for me. I loved gathering information. I loved talking to scouts and agents and various front office officials and trying to tell the readers everything I learned. Writing was the medium I was stuck with, so here I am. I've always felt bad for my editors, scuffling to make my words something decipherable. People like John Erhardt, Christina Kahrl, Steven Goldman, Ben Lindbergh and the entire editing staff made everything I ever wrote better for you to read, and editors will always be the behind-the-scenes heroes of any good content. I'll miss writing in the sense that I'll miss sharing, and I'll miss writing in the sense that I'll miss working with our editors.

I'll also miss working with ESPN. It was often a thrill to go to ESPN.com and see one's name in lights, as it were. They can be an easy mark for some simply because they're on top of the mountain, and no, I was never asked to write about, or even lean on writing about prospects from the East Coast. Working with people like Matt Meyers, Dan Kaufman and Jon Scher showed me why ESPN is on top; because they have fantastic people working there.

While I may not have liked my own writing, I could always talk. Communicating I'm good at. I'll miss doing radio, especially the weekly show on MLB Network Radio with Mike Ferrin, who might just be the best human being you'll ever meet, if you ever get the chance to meet him. He just has that gene of pure good humanity, and I'm jealous of him for it.

And of course there is the podcast, which is still the most fun I've ever had "working," and also the one thing I am most proud of. We created a community, we made friends for life, we had so many great guests and so many great musicians on, and we even added terms to the baseball vernacular. Its popularity was exciting, shocking, humbling, and remarkable, and man, I'll miss doing the show (although we will be recording one final, farewell episode on Monday). I won't say I'll miss Jason Parks, because I won't have to. We'll still talk, and often, and I'll laugh just as much. We just won't record it anymore. Jason truly is one of the most interesting and unique people you'll ever meet, but behind all of the incredible, jealousy-inspiring post-modern creativity is a razor-sharp baseball mind and one of the best friends a person can ever know. 

I realize this is starting to sound like some sort of Oscars speech, but I kind of don't care. There are just that many people to thank; so many people without whom I would not be here. Like Jim Callis, along with the two-headed editor-in-chief duo of John Manuel and Will Lingo at Baseball America. Jim was the first person ever to have me rank prospects professionally (California League, 2004, Felix Hernandez no. 1), and during my three years at Baseball America, Jim was not only a great friend, but an incredible mentor I learned so much from. Before Jim there was Peter Gammons, whom I still basically owe my career to for the time he mentioned my little minor-league newsletter to a nation and led to it going from just that, a little minor-league newsletter known by a couple teams, to something much more real with over 10,000 subscribers.

And then there are all of you, the readers and listeners, who deserve the biggest thanks of all. All of the people who subscribed, all of the people who downloaded the podcast or emailed the show, all of the people who followed and often made me laugh on Twitter, all of the people who came to our events. Interacting with people was always the highlight of my job, and that applies to both the readers and the people in the industry who always graciously took my calls.

I'm going to miss that, all of that, and I'm very sad about it. But this is the opportunity to go beyond just trying to analyze prospects and talking about their future. This is the opportunity to actually see if I'm right. It's both terrifying and exhilarating and brings back weird and wonderful feelings in the back of my brain that haven't been triggered since my technology days working for start-ups. I'm going to take some time off, recharge the batteries, and get going with Houston just in time for the offseason. I'm not going away, as I'll still be reading Baseball Prospectus every day, and watching and learning from and laughing at all of your tweets. I'll just be doing it silently while putting everything I have into this new and thrilling endeavor.

People often ask me what it's like to make a living in a baseball. I'll often steal a line from SportsNight about how it's like living in a dream and hoping Mom doesn't wake you up to go to school.

Do me a favor, Mom. Don't wake me up. This dream just keeps getting better.
from instapaper
september 2012
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