The “beckoning cat” turns out to be Japanese, not Chinese, and is properly rendered as a ceramic sculpture, rather than shiny, gold plastic. It’s beckoning passersby to enter the establishment, although the gesture doesn’t really translate, since in the West, that’s how we wave hello and goodbye. They appear to date to the 1870s. →
- Nieman Reports: A Local Newspaper Endures a Stormy Backlash
This is the story of how the tiny Idaho Falls Post Register bravely uncovered a series of cases of pedophiles acting as leaders in area Boy Scout troops, as told by the managing editor of the paper. In the face of an angry public very much in denial and personal embarrassment heaped on the reporter (a closeted gay man, he was outed), they pushed on, eventually getting state law changed to help the victims and and winning the Scripps Howard First Amendment prize.
- Bret Victor: A Brief Rant on the Future of Interaction Design
Whether or not you care about the phrase "interaction design," you'll probably be interested in these thoughts about the poverty of our methods of interfacing with gizmos when compared with the rest of our interactions with the world.
- Food Safety News: Tests Show Most Store Honey Isn’t Honey
Anything related to honey is filtered out of most honey, leaving a sugar solution. Why? In part because it allows Chinese businesses to dump their antibiotics-laced honey on the U.S. market without any pollen left that would allow the honey to be IDd as Chinese. If you want real honey, just buy it from a local producer or from a health food store.
I keep hearing the U.S. described as the “Saudi Arabia of coal.” This turns out to be half true. According to BP, China produced three billion tons of coal in 2009, or 46% of the world’s share. In second place was the U.S., with .97 billion tons, 16% of the world’s share. But in proven reserves, according to the World Energy Council (an NGO), we lead with 23% of the world’s supply, followed by Russia (14%), China (13%), and Australia (9%).
Awkwardly, a lot of the U.S.’s supply of coal is under stuff—you know, cities, homes, schools, roads, etc.—rendering it functionally inaccessible. China manages to export more with fewer reserves because they’re communist—property can be seized at any time—and because they mine with little regard for human life, running the world’s deadliest mines, in which thousands of people die every year, an average of six people every day. I’m not sure that we want to compete with that.
- GAO: Replacing the $1 Note with a $1 Coin Would Provide a Financial Benefit to the Government
Getting rid of the $1 bill would save the government $184M/year. Not an enormous amount, on the scale of the budget, but there's no getting around that $184M is a very large amount of money indeed. Ten years ago, it would have saved $522M/year, but the Treasury has improved the technology that they use to identify and destroy worn notes—it used to be overload broad, but that's fixed, allowing lots of bills to stay in circulation longer.
- The Economist: America’s debt—Shame on them
The Economist, a relatively staid and conservative publication, has run an editorial in which they describe Republicans' stance on the debt ceiling as "economically illiterate and disgracefully cynical." They go on to describe Republicans as "unprincipled," as not being "real tax reformers," and conclude by declaring that "the blame falls clearly on the Republicans" in debt talks. Yup.
- PolitiFact: Allen says China owns more U.S. bonds than Americans
It's not even close. Of $14.3T of national debt, China owns $1.2T. The U.S. government owns $6T. $3.8T is privately held. When confronted with the facts, the Allen campaign claimed that they were talking only about debt held by ordinary American investors, but the numbers that they cited to back up that claim actually proved the opposite. I hope NBC-29 runs a correction. Lord knows Allen won't admit that he's full of shit.
- Wikipedia: Timeline of Web Browsers
A family tree for web browsers. There are a lot of browsers here I hadn't thought of for years. HotJava, ViolaWWW, and Cello, in particular.
- Voice of America: Historian Recounts Role of Chinese Americans Who Fought in US Civil War
In 1861, there were only 200 Asians living in the Eastern U.S. Fifty-eight of them fought in the Civil War, at least five of whom fought for the CSA. Two of the Confederates were Christopher and Stephen Bunker, the sons of famed Siamese twins Chang and Eng, who owned slaves on their North Carolina farm.
- New York Times: The Ultimate Kentucky Derby
A simulation pitting the last twenty Kentucky Derby winners against each other. (Barbaro repeats his 2006 win.) Without any context as to how the simulation calculates the winner, this is just an amusement for horse racing fans.
- The First State of the Union Message
President George Washington to Congress, 1790: "[T]here is nothing which can better deserve your patronage, than the promotion of Science and Literature."
- Reuters: China tells U.S. to quit as human rights judge
One of the perils of the U.S.'s decade-old habit of engaging in torture is that we can't pretend to be outraged when other countries do the same. We're a role model.
- Wikipedia: Trailer (film)
The MPAA caps the length of trailers at 2:30, though studios are allowed to break this rule with a single trailer each year. Trailers with a green background on the opening card are approved for all audiences (though, increasingly, for all audiences permitted to see the movie that's about to appear), while trailers with a red background on the opening card may only be shown before R, NC-17, or unrelated films.
- The Washington Post: 27% of communication by members of Congress is taunting, professor concludes
This is based on an analysis of press releases, a total of 64,000 of them sent out by U.S. Senators from 2005–2007. (So this does not include Representatives or comments made on the floor.) This is a great idea for a study.
The U.S. military learned its torture techniques by imitating Chinese communist methods from the Korean War. And how did they learn about these methods? From a 1957 U.S. military study of how so many American POWs came to make false confessions. They even reused the original chart of techniques, changing only the title, “Communist Coercive Methods for Eliciting Individual Compliance.”
In order to fulfill his twice-annual quota of saying something totally nuts, Rep. Virgil Goode informed a WCHV radio host last week that China is drilling for oil off the coast of Cuba. I wish I knew what Goode was thinking when he says such foolish things. He’s doing no favors for himself, his district, or Republicans.