Thursday, May 09, 2013

Today's Internets - "This is the bureaucratic mindset at it’s very base: until a bureaucrat passes a rule that says you have their permission to do something, it’s illegal."

"Then, one of the raw milk producers who had been added after Donna started inquiring raised his hand and said “you didn’t explain why or how the decision was made that we even need a new regulation — how did that happen?” Then, the whole room erupted in cheers.  I slowly put my pen down and decided that it was going to be a good day. 
 Ms. Lamb: Um, well we decided. 
 Producer: How? 
 Ms. Lamb: Well, let’s move on…

At some point either right before or after this, Ms. Lamb helpfully pointed out (again, backed up with an authoritative Power Point slide) that since the Department had been statutorily given the authority to regulate dairies, and since there were currently no rules regulating raw milk, that meant that raw milk was really illegal. The slide literally had “no rule = illegal” on it. This is the bureaucratic mindset at it’s very base: until a bureaucrat passes a rule that says you have their permission to do something, it’s illegal.  She said this with a smile like that was going to clear things up, and let people know they were just trying to be helpful by passing some rules.  She seemed to be a bit surprised by the (politely contained) expressions of outrage and incredulity from the crowd...

There was also this: Producer: So, you’re directive is to regulate dairies? Ms. Lamb: Yes Producer: But the regulations define a “dairy” as an operation that collects milk from farming operations for processing and wholesale and retail sales. Ms. Lamb: Yes Producer: So, since that definition means none of us are dairies, you shouldn’t be regulating us. (audience: applause)

Once they got to the part where they were supposed to discuss actual rules — now just “suggestions for discussion,” mind you — it was exactly what you’d expect.  A bunch of rules related to massive, highly automated, feedlot-style operations that may have value in that environment, but completely non-scalable down to the level of someone or a family personally running a pastured cow dairy operation...

With the further caveat that no more than 100 gallons of raw milk could be sold a month.  When the producers hoo-haa-ed that one especially, one of the bureaucrats said — I swear to God, months in and ready to pass  rules on this that would put most of the producers in the room out of business –   “well, we weren’t really sure how many gallons a month you folks usually produce.”

...Then she got wonderfully animated and told the panel that if the IDPH’s mission was really — as they had asserted — to protect the health and nutrition of Illinois citizens, she wanted them to enforce the same rules for people who sold Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, and Monster Drink, which have well-documented poor health impacts — they could only sell 100 gallons a month, they couldn’t advertise, they could only put it in the customers’ own containers, and it could only be purchased on the vendors’ premises.  That rocked the house."

"Today, I found out that my wife is having an affair with the same guy my ex-wife left me for. FML"

"Look, I get it. Drinking can be fun. Nachos are tasty. Sports are at least notionally “cool.” But why are you willing to devote entire weekends of your precious free time to watching other men accomplish things? Would you ever sit around spectating at your buddy’s effort to repaint the walls, or crack open a beer and relax on the couch watching your friend work feverishly on his business idea? If not, then why would you watch people you’ll never meet engaging in contrived contests that have no meaningful impact on your life? I enjoy the odd sporting event as much as the next guy. Freakish athletes doing things that I am incapable of is a spectacle worthy of occasional attention. Beyond that level of involvement, though, your sports fandom is a terrible time sink with no discernible return on investment. An American football game lasts 3 hours. If you watched one fewer football game per week, you could: Do an intense weight-training and HIIT workout (1 hour) Juice vegetables to help your health (30 minutes) Go go the coffee shop and talk to a woman (1 hour) Practice writing or another language skill (30 minutes)"

Of course they did.
"Kathryn Bigelow's Osama bin Laden revenge-porn flick Zero Dark Thirty was the biggest publicity coup for the CIA this century outside of the actual killing of Osama bin Laden. But the extent to which the CIA shaped the film has remained unclear. Now, a memo obtained by Gawker shows that the CIA actively, and apparently successfully, pressured Mark Boal to remove scenes that made them look bad from the Zero Dark Thirty script."

" is important to decide for yourself what you’ll attempt in life. Don’t allow the pessimistic opinions that exist within others to influence you. There will always be someone who believes your goals are too ambitious. Fortunately, such beliefs are nothing more than opinions. There are plenty of educated professionals who didn’t think Brock would ever walk again. Imagine if he listened to them. Where would he be now?"

The best thing you'll watch all day.


Impressive fanvert.

"No less an authority than Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), complains that the DSM continues to suffer from a "lack of validity." In other words, we cannot be confident that psychiatry's bible, on which mental health professionals rely every day to diagnose patients and (not incidentally) get paid by medical insurers, identifies things that actually exist. That's a pretty big problem."

"In a major milestone, a powerful organization of mental health researchers has said it will not be using the new, fifth edition of the Diagnostical and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), a handbook that has virtually defined the field of psychiatry in the United States for decades."

"Civil liberties and civil rights attorney Harvey Silverglate made this video to show you how to protect yourself from FBI agents who will interview you, then claim you lied so they can threaten you with imprisonment unless you become their puppet. The message from Robel’s prosecution and Silverglate’s advice is clear: do not talk to the FBI without your lawyer present. If Harvey’s decades long experience is any indication, chances are that the agents will politely decline to interview you if you and your attorney insist on creating an accurate record of an FBI interrogation."

"Today, my family flew out to surprise my grandma for her 70th birthday. When we arrived, she and my grandpa were both sitting on the couch, high, smoking a joint. FML"

Summing up all of DC culture, actually.
"They think they are cultured. But they aren’t
...all of you brag about how this town is supposedly in the midst of a cultural revolution because, you know, the Italian guy from New Jersey, who worked in a Greek kitchen, opened a Mexican restaurant.
That’s not culture. There are people in this city who still can’t pronounce arugula. I go on dates with girls who don’t know what pho is. Yet they have the gall to claim they are worldly because they spend their Saturdays at the National Museum of American History. You aren’t bettering yourself. You’re suppressing latent white guilt. If you were learned you’d know the Vietnamese word for soup. You are a charlatan.
They believe in causes
...Yet here, people embrace and, even worse, have attitudes shaped by their beliefs. And then I have to lie.  “Wow. You work for Save Darfur? That’s, like, so awesome… Yea. I’ve heard things are bad there… No, no. My martini tastes much better when you discuss the mass slaughter of underfed African babies. Really makes the vermouth sparkles. Like a lemon twist, but subtler… Yea. I hate it too. Screw the other Sudanese… No. Sorry. Can’t get another drink. Have to get up early.”
They think they are smart
Don’t let any dating survey that claims this city ranks high on intellects fool you. They are shams and lies. Have you stood on the Metro and seen the federal work force? If this town was composed of intelligent, brilliant beings, our government would not be the bloated bastion of incompetency it currently is...  You know who isn’t smart? The 26-year-old tasked with monitoring the corn output of Iowa’s 4thdistrict for the Department of Agriculture.  You know who is smart? Thomas Edison. When he applied for a job at the Department of Agriculture, they put him in charge of inventing light bulbs and movies and future.
They have an inflated sense of self-worth
I went out recently with one girl who was working for the Obama campaign. She kept saying, throughout the date, the word “we.” Like, “If we win a second term, we’ll change the world.”  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that she’d be out of a job if the federal government discovered  This goes in line with people having causes. The guy working at the FDA thinks he saved the lives of 19,500 babies because he noticed Chinese toys have trace amounts of lead. And the girl on the Hill, she was tasked—TASKED—with delivering a confidential memo.  Your plaques will be on your desks tomorrow.
They think politics are important
...Politics are not important. In fact, here is a list of things you should care about more than someone’s political beliefs: The score of the last night Toronto Blue Jays game; Piranhas; How many marshmallows are in a bag of marshmallows; negative integers; whether koala bears can be taught to use hand guns; things that are flammable; salt water; that box over there.  And even worse, this town is stuffed with people who think voting is the highest of pursuits. I can’t handle it.  “Oh. You thought Obama’s stimulus was a bad idea? So your plan is to inform the world by casting a single ballot in a country of 313 million people. Four years after it happened? Word.”  In fact, that simple act—voting—sums up everything I hate about people in this town.  If you vote, you probably think you are cultured: “Oh, Lorenzo, we are just like the Greeks during the zenith of Pericles.”  And you probably have a high-sense of self-worth: “I, I. Me. I am making a difference.”  You also probably have causes: “If Mitt Romney wins, he will drill in Alaska and a bear will die.”"


Of course.
"The U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI believe they don't need a search warrant to review Americans' e-mails, Facebook chats, Twitter direct messages, and other private files, internal documents reveal. Government documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union and provided to CNET show a split over electronic privacy rights within the Obama administration, with Justice Department prosecutors and investigators privately insisting they're not legally required to obtain search warrants for e-mail. The IRS, on the other hand, publicly said last month that it would abandon a controversial policy that claimed it could get warrantless access to e-mail correspondence.

...The American Civil Liberties Union points out that the DOJ takes its position on warrant-free access to email "even after a federal appeals court ruled that doing so violates the Fourth Amendment.""

"Like the rest of the world (see J.D. Tuccille's copious coverage), the New Yorker is pretty alarmed by the possibilities of 3D weapon printing, but writer Jacob Silverman in expressing his confusion and fear is at least more perspicacious than most about the ideas and goals of leading 3D weapon printing spokes-gadfly, Cody Wilson of Defense Distributed...

Silverman gets it: Wilson is a full service provocateur for what liberty really means, even if that means being initially a snake-oil salesman of sorts, hyping possibilities beyond their apparent reality at the moment. It's not what a 3D gun can do right now that matters. It's the idea that anyone can make anything they want at home, beyond most of the obvious points where they are interacting publicly with others where they can be most easily obstructed, licensed, regulated, taxed--that's the important part...

Silverman thinks he's got Wilson and his wooly ways, though: "What’s notable about this kind of talk is how divorced it is from any practical reality." Really? After noting, as I did, Wilson's propensity for high-falutin' French literary theorists, and how other more mild Makers are annoyed at the negative attention his provacateuring brings to their quirky little tech-craft movement, Silverman veers off course, as if merely stating that Wilson is the one divorced from practical reality makes it so, because he knows most of his readers aren't necessarily the types to think like Wilson or act as he and his supporters do. But believe it Mr. Silverman: the technologies Wilson relies on, and their plastic end results, are as much a part of "practical reality" as it can get...

As I said in my talk to the Extreme Futurist Fest, the future is going to feature a whole lot of: "What are you going to do about it?" to which the only sensible answer is: "Nothing to be done." Despite what Silverman thinks, that is the practical reality governors of all sorts are facing."

"After Defense Distributed published video of a successul test of a 3D-printed handgun, the responses came fast and furious: politicians, including Rep. Steve Israel and Sen. Chuck Schumer proposed legislation that would ban the sort of plastic gun made by Defense Distributed, but would be utterly impotent to prevent people from ignoring the law and carrying on as home armorers. Now comes Slate's Farhad Manjoo to play the role of Kevin Bacon in Animal House, bellowing, "remain calm, all is well!" 

... technology is empowering individuals to defy and ignore the ever-grasping control freaks who seek to rule over us."

Your WTFs of the day.
"The officer fired at least once when he said he saw the man make several “furtive” movements, as if reaching for a weapon, Acevedo said."

"Furtive."  I bet he 'bladed' his body too.  
[For the uninformed, 'furtive' movements and 'bladed his body' are CYA copspeak & report writing for justifying use of force.]

Article forwarded to my French and French speaking friends...
"Exhibit A: Wine experts contradict themselves. Constantly. Statistician and wine-lover Robert Hodgson recently analyzed a series of wine competitions in California, after "wondering how wines, such as his own, [could] win a gold medal at one competition, and 'end up in the pooper' at others." In one study, Hodgson presented blindfolded wine experts with the same wine three times in succession. Incredibly, the judges' ratings typically varied by ±4 points on a standard ratings scale running from 80 to 100...

Exhibit B: Expert wine critics can't distinguish between red and white wines This one's one of my favorites. In 2001, researcher Frédéric Brochet invited 54 wine experts to give their opinions on what were ostensibly two glasses of different wine: one red, and one white. In actuality, the two wines were identical, with one exception: the "red" wine had been dyed with food coloring. The experts described the "red" wine in language typically reserved for characterizing reds. They called it "jammy," for example, and noted the flavors imparted by its "crushed red fruit." Not one of the 54 experts surveyed noticed that it was, in fact a white wine..."

Important questions.
"First of all, thank you, because I will never get the image of Bruce Wayne ragefucking some poor debutante while his eyes pool with tears at the eternal pain at having lost his parents as a child. I may never be able to read a Batman comic again. But that doesn’t mean I can’t answer the question. I assume Bruce has to do some sexy times to maintain his reputataion, although it’s certainly way less than the public believes. But if he never had sex with the candy draped around his arm, eventually someone would figure it out, and Bruce’s cover would be blown. So Batman has a vested interest in banging skanks, is what I’m saying."
"As for his skill level? Well, since the defining characteristic of the modern Batman is that he’s prepared for any eventuality, this means he has prepared for a situation that he literally has to fuck his way out of. At some point — unlikely as it may sound — Batman’s sexual technique may be the thing that saves his life, so I imagine Batman is ready to pull some mindblowing tantric craziness..."

We're all horrible people.
"In psychology, there’s a well-observed phenomenon known as the actor/observer bias and it states that we’re basically all a bunch of assholes. The actor/observer bias states that all of us unconsciously assume others to be more responsible for their negative actions than their environment, and for ourselves to be less responsible for our negative actions than our environment. For example, if you are at an intersection and someone runs through the red light and almost hits you, you think, “Wow, what a shitty driver. That guy is an idiot.” But when it’s YOU who runs the red light and almost hits somebody, you think, “It’s not my fault. The guy in front of me was driving slow and the light changed too quickly for me to stop.” When it’s us, it’s not our fault. When it’s someone else, they’re a shitty person.

But it gets worse. The opposite happens with positive actions, too. In our own case, we over-estimate our own responsibility for the great things we do and under-estimate the responsibility of others. For example, if someone else wins a prestigious award, we make assumptions that they got it because of their connections or some sort of conspiracy and not of their own work. But if we win an award, we assume it was all because of the great work we did. The actor/observer is a natural bias that afflicts us all. We can be mindful and try to be better about it, but we’re never completely rid of it."

Religion ruins everything.

"The just-world hypothesis (or just-world fallacy) is the cognitive bias that human actions eventually yield morally fair and fitting consequences, so that, ultimately, noble actions are duly rewarded and evil actions are duly punished. In other words, the just-world hypothesis is the tendency to attribute consequences to, or expect consequences as the result of, an unspecified power that restores moral balance; the fallacy is that this implies (often unintentionally) the existence of such a power in terms of some cosmic force of justice, desert, stability, or order in the universe."

Speaks wise.
"If being honest is the goal, I can unzip to a pretty deep level. But what you get today is not necessarily what you'll get tomorrow."

"She had better be an incredible shot, otherwise this lady has no business engaging in warfare of any kind. She may as well be playing for the other team with that footloose and fancy free toss. Noodle-armed the fuck out of it. Couldn't even clear the goddamn sandbag wall built to protect them from enemy fire. This is not how you war, you guys."

"An affair forces women to face something inside themselves that they'd rather not acknowledge, even today, thirty years post-liberation. It is my experience that a married woman will go to extraordinary lengths to put a genteel spin on her involvement outside marriage. She'll speak of coveting "emotional fulfillment" or "a man who really listens when I need to vent" or "someone who appreciates me for who I am"--all of which may be true--but as time goes by she finds it increasingly difficult to kid herself about why the two of you have paired off. The real reason an unfaithful wife wants to do other things with her lover besides screw, I am convinced, is not so much to do those things as to surround the sex with enough distractions that she can continue to rationalize the true basis of the relationship."

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