“On one hand, stealing from people is wrong (Sanchez presumably added the amount of the tolls he wasn’t actually paying to his passengers’ fares) and we as a society need things like tolls so we can maintain our infrastructure, which is crucial to our Competitiveness in a Global Economy. On the other hand, tailgating through a toll booth 3,000 times without once hitting the gate sounds like some nifty drivin’.”—Criminal Cab Driver Mastermind (Allegedly) Evaded 3,000 Tolls, Slate
What happens when you take some of the smartest political minds associated with the Obama campaigns and put them in the UK? Basically, the rules are completely different:
It is not uncommon for American consultants to enter the fray of British politics. As prime minister, Tony Blair was heavily influenced by veterans of the Clinton administration, including pollster Stan Greenberg, who continues to work for Labor.
But it is unusual for a sitting American president to have two of his most prominent former campaign gurus working on opposite sides of an election that will determine who leads the government of Washington’s closest ally. Both Axelrod and Messina have left the White House and work as private consultants.
This oughta be a fun one to watch from a distance.
Baseball legend Hank Aaron angered a certain breed of American this week when he suggested that racism was still a thing, but that the outfits had changed. The comments led to wave after wave of hate mail, none of which we’ll be publishing here, that essentially proved his point. Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer Jay Bookman tries to speak some sense about the whole thing:
And if you’ll excuse an effort to inject nuance into a topic where it is too rarely seen, it’s that matter of perspective that is key to all this. Even if you don’t agree with everything Aaron says, you ought to at least wonder what the man is seeing that you don’t.
To put it in baseball terms, think of it as a tag play at second. Watching from your seat in the left-field stands, or even at home on TV, the runner was clearly tagged out. Yet the umpire, looking at it from a different perspective, calls him safe. And it isn’t until you see it from a third perspective, that of the center-field camera and replayed over and over again in slow motion, that you realize that the umpire was right and you were wrong.
Or maybe he was wrong and you’re right.
In real life, we don’t have a centerfield camera to decide the question. We don’t have a means to determine which perspective is accurate, and which is skewed. But the point is that you don’t have to agree with Aaron’s point of view, fully or in part, to know that his perspective is at least worth hearing and considering. He has seen things in ways that others have not.
The EPA doesn’t appear to have a limit for urine in drinking water, but it does limit nitrates in drinking water to 10,000 ppb, and urine does contain a lot of nitrogen, so let’s use that as a proxy.
How many times would that teenager have to pee in a Portland reservoir to produce a urine concentration approaching the EPA’s limit for nitrates in drinking water? About 3,333 times.
But of course urine is 95 percent water. (If you’re ever trapped in rubble after a natural disaster, go ahead and drink it.) Only about 2 percent of urine is nitrogen-rich urea. That means he’d have to urinate 166,666 times for the concentration of urea to approach that of the EPA’s limit for nitrates in drinking water.
Since most animals, including idiot teenaged show-offs, take about 21 seconds to urinate, that means he’d have to urinate constantly for 3,500,000 seconds, or about 40 days. Hopefully, he’d have friends constantly supplying him with tasty Portland microbrews.
“General Tso’s Chicken has become a staple of American dining; a dish that, were it not for pizza, could be crowned the most popular ethnic food item in the country. And it’s a total cash cow. The dish is carried in most of the 50,000 Chinese restaurants in the United States, produced very cheaply, and sold for about $10 a pop, resulting in billions of dollars in tasty revenue.”—
Some notable history in this fascinating article: Apparently the Chinese food industry was first borne of the Chinese Exclusion Act, an infamous 19th century anti-immigration law which forced many Chinese immigrants out of the labor force. Self-employment became a necessity, and immigrants moved away from the West Coast partly to avoid persecution.
There's no such thing as a free lunch, drug industry edition
$6.3Bthe value of the free samples that prescription drug companies offered to medical facilities in 2011. Sounds like a great deal, right? Not really—according to the latest edition of JAMA Dermatology, the drugs actually ending up helping out the drug companies more than patients. Why’s that? Because, quite often, these free samples are for costlier brand-name drugs—so while the first one is free, the ones you have to take down the line will cost ya. source
“You can’t take responsibility, or say you do, for nearly 500 souls, and then be the first in the lifeboat.”—Navy Capt. William H. Doherty • Offering harsh criticism for the captain of the ferry that sank in South Korea this week, Lee Jun-seok. Lee, who is currently in jail over the incident, was one of the first people off the ferry. While a captain abandoning ship is generally frowned upon in most countries, giving captains some leeway to assist from a distance, South Korea’s law essentially makes it illegal. The ship took roughly two and a half hours to sink, but crew members reportedly told many on the ship to stay in place according to survivors, a situation which likely doomed many of people on board.
“We have snipers all around the stadium, just in case something were to happen. Like I said, do whatever it is you normally do. But approach the President, and we go for the kill shot. Are we clear?”—A secret service agent • Warning Mr. Met—the mascot of the New York Mets—not to get close to President Clinton during a 1997 baseball game in which Clinton spoke. AJ Mass, the man inside the suit at the time, wrote about this experience in a new book, because who wouldn’t?
“When I learned that the man accused of shooting innocent bystanders Sunday at a Jewish community center and Jewish retirement home in Overland Park, Kan., was a former Klansman named Glenn Miller, I shuddered. Thirty-three years ago, when I was an undergraduate at Duke University, I read a small item in the Raleigh News & Observer that mentioned Miller, then the grand dragon of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Miller, it turns out, ran a paramilitary training camp in rural North Carolina.”—
Portland administrators will flush 38 million gallons of water from Mt. Tabor Reservoir 5 after a 19-year-old man urinated in the city’s drinking supply.
“Even though there is very minimal public health risk, the bottom line is that our commitment is to serve water that’s clean, cold and constant,” said Water Bureau administrator David Shaff. “That doesn’t include pee. Not from people, at least.”
Raise your hand if you want to watch a Portlandia episode featuring this incident.
Aaron Kushner believes he can launch and grow a print newspaper in a world gone digital.
The former greeting card executive is trying to turn the Orange County Register into a media giant in southern California, largely driven by paper and ink. The unconventional effort gets a jolt Wednesday when Freedom Communications Inc., the company Kushner bought with other investors two years ago, launches the Los Angeles Register.
The daily newspaper will be available at 5,500 locations around L.A. — at many newsstands and vending boxes where the 132-year-old Los Angeles Times is found. It’s the first direct challenge on the Times’ home market since the Herald-Examiner folded in November 1989.
Kushner hopes to build the newspaper’s readership by differentiating it from the Times with deep coverage of local news and a political stance that’s center-right.
“Blood has once again been spilt in Ukraine. The country is on the brink of civil war.”—Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev • Assessing the current situation in Ukraine, which has escalated once again, as two pro-Russian separatists were wounded in an encounter with Ukranian military forces in Slaviansk. The comments come as a UN report suggests that Russia’s take on the situation in the country is a tad…exaggerated. ”Although there were some attacks against the ethnic Russian community, these were neither systematic nor widespread,” the report stated.
The punching bag for the anti-vaccine movement tries to defend and clarify her stance:
I am not “anti-vaccine.” This is not a change in my stance nor is it a new position that I have recently adopted. For years, I have repeatedly stated that I am, in fact, “pro-vaccine” and for years I have been wrongly branded as “anti-vaccine.”
My beautiful son, Evan, inspired this mother to question the “one size fits all” philosophy of the recommended vaccine schedule. I embarked on this quest not only for myself and my family, but for countless parents who shared my desire for knowledge that could lead to options and alternate schedules, but never to eliminate the vaccines.
A new survey conducted exclusively for BuzzFeed found that as more advertisers are featuring depictions of LGBT people in their ads, more Americans are getting on board.
Here are a couple of key points taken from the survey of 500 people:
80% agreed that “showing gay or lesbian people in ads simply reflects the reality of our society today”
60% agreed that “brands that show same-sex couples are being appropriately inclusive”
57% said “it’s cool when I see same-sex couples in ads”
40% said “TV ads are no place for same-sex couples”
72% said they consider brands with LGBT-inclusive ads “brave”
The article linked above explains more about the survey data, while this longer BuzzFeed article dives deeper into how brands are using inclusive advertising to reach out to more audiences. As GLAAD’s Sarah Kate Ellis said, “It’s about time my children were able to turn on the television and see families like their own represented in mainstream advertising.”
What do you think?
Think about it this way: Eventually, it’ll be a lot less than 40 percent.
“It doesn’t bother me none. If he shoots me he shoots me.”—Overland Park, Kansas resident Kathy Embley • Taking a somewhat lackadaisical approach to a report that a series of random shootings in the Kansas City area may be connected. At least 12 shootings have been reported since March 8, and while no physical evidence connects them, authorities note that there are similarities such as time of day and location that tie them together.
14%the approximate percentage the stock Herbalife fell on Friday after reports of a federal probe into the company surfaced. The company, which sells nutrition products, has long been suspected to be a ponzi scheme by some investors, most notably noted hedge fund manager William Ackman, who famously made a $1 billion bet that the company was operating illegally. source
“In short: The NSA is said to have decided that the exploit was better something for it to use as an offensive tool than to affect a defensive posture for the rest [of] tech; its decision meant that in its view, its own intelligence efforts were essentially more important than the security of your information.”—“NSA Exploited Heartbleed For Years,” TechCrunch
Bloomberg News: The U.S. National Security Agency knew for at least two years about a flaw in the way that many websites send sensitive information and regularly used it to gather critical intelligence, two people familiar with the matter said.
“No more. The shrieks and the howls are all we’ve got now. They pass for intellectual debate, addressed in academic departments and dissected in journals that once had greater concerns in mind. The isms that once struggled for primacy had given way to topical outrages: about income inequality, about the gold standard, about drones, about Benghazi, about Israel, about Stephen Colbert. And that’s the real danger: not that this political camp or that is growing intolerant, but that both are getting incorrigibly dumb.”—
In case you didn’t hear, former half-term Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown decided to cross state lines and run for the Senate in nearby New Hampshire. Here’s his campaign strategy:
Brown will embark Friday on what his campaign has dubbed the “Obamacare Isn’t Working” tour a day after he officially launched his campaign with an address emphasizing his opposition to the law and Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s support for it.
Brown called Shaheen “the deciding vote” for Obamacare. His most memorable line of the night was a dig at the law. “Obamacare forces us to make a choice, live free or log on—and here in New Hampshire, we choose freedom,” Brown said in a play on the Granite State’s official motto.
“Their lives, in short, will be transformed. The value to these patients, and to their loved ones and society—you can’t put a price tag on it.”—Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) President John Castellani • Defending the price of Sovaldi, the hepatitis C drug which is extremely effective, but costs $1,000 per day to take. A full regimen of treatment costs $84,000, a level that effectively shuts out most of the people that would need to take it.
Poor Mickey Rooney: Despite his massive fame, he died nearly broke
$18kthe size of iconic actor Mickey Rooney’s estate upon his death over the weekend. Rooney, who won an Honorary Academy Award “in recognition of his 50 years of versatility in a variety of memorable film performances” three decades ago, had fallen on somewhat hard times, with one of his final film roles being a 2012 documentary that exposed how he had been manipulated by his own stepson. Rooney, who will star in the upcoming “Night at the Museum 3” according to that film’s director, left his full estate to another stepson who took care of him during his twilight years. source
“A student reported that someone came into the school with a knife and started slashing people, including some of his friends. That information has not been confirmed by police.”—Pittsburgh station WTAE • On the mass stabbing that took place at a Pennsylvania high school. The suspect is reportedly in custody.
“It’s a serious bug in that it doesn’t leave any trace. Bad guys can access the memory on a machine and take encryption keys, usernames, passwords, valuable intellectual property, and there’s no trace they’ve been there.”—Codenomicon CEO David Chartier • Discussing the nature of the “Heartbleed” vulnerability, a security hole located in SSL services that allowed people with not-so-nice purposes to tap into data meant to be secure. How big of a deal is it? Let’s put it this way: You know how your web addresses sometimes say “https” instead of “http,” and how that’s meant to ensure your data is encrypted? That, friends, is what we’re talking about.
“To this end, we now make our first clear demand of Google. We demand that Google give three billion dollars to an anarchist organization of our choosing. This money will then be used to create autonomous, anti-capitalist, and anti-racist communities throughout the Bay Area and Northern California. In these communities, whether in San Francisco or in the woods, no one will ever have to pay rent and housing will be free. With this three billion from Google, we will solve the housing crisis in the Bay Area and prove to the world that an anarchist world is not only possible but in fact irrepressible.”—A demand by a group called “The Counterforce,” which struck up some weirdly over-the-top anger by protesting at Digg creator and Google Ventures employee Kevin Rose’s house, referencing an (admittedly in poor taste) misogynistic joke Rose made in a podcast six years ago, and calling him a “parasite.” Wow.
“So Nigeria has now supplanted South Africa as Africa’s largest economy. But I’ve not had light (electricity) for seven days, so it means nothing to me.”—A Nigerian social media user • Upon hearing that revised economic figures in the country—a revision 24 years in the making—put the country’s GDP (currently at $510 billion) far ahead of South Africa (currently at $353 billion) and other countries in the African continent. To give you an idea of how long it’s been: During the last GDP check in 1990, 300,000 landlines existed in the country. Now, there are 100 million cell phones. But that GDP level, above developed countries such as Chile, Sweden, and Belgium, belies a tough reality in the country—70 percent of the country’s population still lives in poverty.
100+the number of people arrested at a Spring Break street party near the University of California, Santa Barbara, a party where 44 people were hospitalized and police broke up the event with some chemicals and foam spray. Fun. source
Slate, in conjunction with Roads and Kingdoms, reflects on the plane crash that killed Rwandan leader Juvénal Habyarimana 20 years ago today—and led to the country’s mass genocide, which began a day later:
It’s been 20 years since Habyarimana’s Falcon 50 aircraft was shot down on the outskirts of Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, and the country has come a long way from the 100 days of mass murder that followed. Although political tensions still simmer and current President Paul Kagame has been accused of suppressing dissent, Rwanda is now one of Africa’s safest nations and its economy is among the fastest growing on the continent. The country that in the spring of 1994 witnessed the worst genocide since the Holocaust is now defined by a lack of crime, spotless public areas, and officials who are harshly punished if caught soliciting bribes or skimming off of public contracts. Today, aside from a handful of memorials filled with skulls, photos of the dead, and displays of the instruments of death—spiked clubs, hoes, machetes—there’s little visible evidence of the nightmare that saw the deaths of up to 1 million Rwandans, mostly members of the Tutsi minority.
“If we’ve learned anything in the last 60 years of building atomic clocks, we’ve learned that every time we build a better clock, somebody comes up with a use for it that you couldn’t have foreseen.”—Steven Jefferts, a physicist for the National Institute of Standards and Technology • Discussing the agency’s newest atomic clock, the NIST-F2, which is so accurate that it could run for 300 million years without falling off by a single second. The clock is more accurate than the current gold standard for telling time, the NIST-F1, which was first introduced in 1999.