Pennsylvania is in love with fracking, and they don’t care who knows it. Their legislature passed a bill last month that makes it a secret what awful chemicals that energy companies are injecting into the ground in order to extract natural gas. It’s such a secret, in fact, that if somebody is poisoned by some of these concoctions, he’s not allowed to be told what substance, exactly, has brought him to death’s doorstep. His doctor must sign a confidentiality agreement in order to even know what the poison is, and he’s prohibited from telling the patient what chemical he’s been poisoned with. This is part of a strange new trend that holds that the rights of corporations are more important than the rights of humans. If a corporation is offended by birth control, it gets to prohibit their employees from using it. If a corporation poisons somebody, it gets to prohibit that person from knowing what they’ve been poisoned with. It’s all about protecting people’s freedoms, dontchaknow? →
- Federal Register
If you haven't seen the website for the Federal Register in the past year, it's really a thing of beauty. Andrew Carpenter, Bob Burbach, and Dave Augustine put it together as an independent site, GovPulse,us, which the feds liked so much they asked the guys to take on the job of replacing federalregister.gov with what they'd put together for govpulse.us. It doesn't matter if you don't care about the Federal Register—the site makes it interesting to anybody.
- Science Now: ‘Dinofuzz’ Found in Canadian Amber
Feathers from Late Cretaceous dinosaurs, preserved in amber, are providing the first detailed look at how hair evolved into feathers. The 78-million-year-old feathers are really "dinofuzz"— not quite hair and not quite feathers. Eleven samples were found in all, and provide what seems like a great cross-sample of the varieties of dinofuzz in existence then.
- Media Matters: News Corp. Outlets Attack Obama Over Paper Clip
Fox & Friends and the New York Post are very upset that President Obama used a paper clip to hold together a document. Seriously. This is not The Onion.
- CBS News: Like Every Administration, White House Defends Obama "Vacation"
President Obama has taken 38 days of vacation so far in his presidency. At this point in Bush's presidency, he'd taken 102 days of vacation.
- Rick Perry’s Texas A&M Transcript
Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry's academic record is on par with President Bush's—which is to say, very poor—but perhaps most telling is the "D" that he earned in Principles of Economics. That's about right.
- Los Angeles Times: Missing Iraq money may have been stolen, auditors say
How could we have known that shipping 21 C-130s to Iraq full of $12,000,000,000 in cash to be distributed without any sort of bookkeeping or audit trail would end badly? I mean, who could have forecast such a thing?
- Wall Street Journal: Perry Points to ‘Idiotic’ U.S. Rule That Doesn’t Exist
In Rick Perry's imaginary United States, things are going very badly indeed. No doubt he has some imaginary solutions to propose.
- Washington Post: Former US Attorney General John Ashcroft joining security company once known as Blackwater
Good Lord, I'm glad that Bush is no longer president.
- A Computer Scientist in a Business School: An ingenious application of crowdsourcing
After discovering that product sales increase when reviews are well-written, Zappos has been using Amazon's Mechanical Turk to copyedit reviews that are submitted to their site. It's a clever use of Mechanical Turk.
- CBS-19: Dominion Virginia Power Pushes to Increase Rates
The average monthly bill would go up by $12.76. That's a really, really large amount of money. I'd sure like to see the state extract some concessions from Dominion for this. For starters, they should start buying back green, customer-generated power at a rate substantially higher than the rate at which they sell their lousy coal power.
- The Blaze: Does Raw Video of NPR Expose Reveal Questionable Editing & Tactics?
This undercover video of an NPR exec is such a hack job that even Glenn Beck is calling foul. Comparing the edited version to the raw video makes obvious that unrelated bits of audio were edited together to make it appear that the guy was saying things that he never said. How embarrassing.
- Nieman Journalism Lab: Knight gives Bay Citizen, Texas Tribune $975,000 for open-source CMS
Brilliant, brilliant use of a million bucks by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Having spent a half-decade managing online content for a media outlet, I feel comfortable saying that the existing options are terrible, either because they're too complex for most media outlets (Bricolage), they're not the right tools for the job (WordPress, ExpressionEngine) or because they're just plain awful (nearly everything else). Let's hope that the grant recipients are up to the task. Codenamed "Armstrong," the Django-based CMS is scheduled for a June launch.
- New York Times: Japan’s Strict Building Codes Saved Lives
An unregulated free market wouldn't construct buildings designed to withstand once-in-a-generation earthquakes. ("Greed is good.") Capitalism is great, but sometimes the things that make it great make it dangerous. That's why we have regulation.