Skims: 22 April 2014

The United States has the third lowest effective tax rate in the developed world.

About Obama as “deporter in chief.” (WaPo)

Compared to his predecessors, Obama has deemphasized removals and concentrated on returns. His numbers reflect a deliberate shift in strategy to exercise prosecutorial discretion to aid longtime immigrant residents who have family ties and no criminal backgrounds besides the immigration law violation.

A 1989 interview with Bill Watterson, creator of “Calivn and Hobbes.” (TCJ via Gerry Canavan)

I just draw it for myself. I guess I have a gift for expressing pedestrian tastes. In a way, it’s kind of depressing.

How Earbuds Have Changed The Sound (And Business) Of Pop  (Forbes)

While earbuds cannot accurately represent lower frequencies, they are, if anything, over representative of mid-range frequencies.

So what producers and engineers have done, over the years, is to use all sorts of audio-chicanery to trick your ears into hearing a bass sound that’s fundamentally missing from your earbuds.

Instead of expounding on the woes of the world, a political columnist discusses Herbert the Raccoon, who has taken up residence near his home. (NRO)

I have reviewed what other columnists and bloggers have written in the last few days on more frequent current political and economic personalities and subjects, and Henrietta and her cub are more interesting and more admirable. We would rather have them sheltering in or near our house than almost any contemporary political leader I can think of.

How Much I Pay For Music Today


As so far as I can see.

I stream public radio online.

I listen to several music podcasts, again from public radio and independent sources (super indie, I know).

I stream on my mobile via public radio apps.

I listen to the free version of Spotify.

I listen to things on music blogs.

I listen to tunes posted to Bandcamp and Soundcloud.

I listen to tunes on Youtube.

I sit in waiting rooms and market lines with music piped in the room.

I hum.

Aside from connecting to broadband and paying to be in a certain location, I pay for none of this.

That is nuts.


Skims: 21 April 2014

Officials: Teen Survives Unharmed Stowed Away In Wheel Well Of Flight (AP)

the boy from Santa Clara, Calif., hopped a fence to get to Hawaiian Airlines Flight 45 on Sunday morning. The child had run away from his family after an argument, Simon said. Simon said when the flight landed in Maui, the boy hopped down from the wheel well and started wandering around the airport grounds.

“He was unconscious for the lion’s share of the flight,” Simon said. The flight lasted about 5½ hours.

the image of a static 1 and 99 percent is largely incorrect (NYT)

It turns out that 12 percent of the population will find themselves in the top 1 percent of the income distribution for at least one year … a whopping 73 percent will spend a year in the top 20 percent of the income distribution.

Yet while many Americans will experience some level of affluence during their lives, a much smaller percentage of them will do so for an extended period of time.

“top 500 million people (8% of humanity) emit half the greenhouse emissions” <a href=””></a> via <a href=”″>@FrankPasquale</a>

Almost 100 people were murdered over the last five years by registered users of Stormfront, the largest racist Web forum in the world, according to a report from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Skims: 15 April 2014

If Michael Phelps Swims, Subway Sinks (via @BV)

According to Rule 40 of the International Olympic Committee charter, “Except as permitted by the IOC executive board, no competitor, coach, trainer or official who participates in the Olympic Games may allow his person, name, picture or sports performances to be used for advertising purposes during the Olympic Games.”

Canada’s Climate Warms to Corn as Grain Belt Shifts North (via @BloombergNews)

Growing seasons on the Canadian prairie have lengthened about two weeks in the past half-century. The mean annual temperature is likely to climb by as much as 3 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit) in the region by 2050, according to Canadian researchers.

In Canada, that means amber waves of wheat are giving way to green fields of corn. Farmers sowed a record 405,000 acres of corn in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta last year, double the amount two years earlier and almost eight times what it was 20 years ago. That compares with an estimated 95.4 million acres sown in the U.S. last year.

The Rise and Fall of AIM, the Breakthrough AOL Never Wanted (via @mashable)

The administrator had tried to block AIM, but the program had eventually hopped around until it had attached to something the company couldn’t risk interrupting: the port that synchronized time across the entire company’s computer system.

“The admins had no clue how to block us. We were like malware from their point of view.” The program blossomed, drawing as many as 18 million simultaneous users. Professionals flocked to it. ”AIM became how all Wall Street communicated,” Appelman said.

‘Everyone is missing out on something’

My colleague and friend wrote this. It is wonderful.

I Thought The World Would Stop Turning When I Left Home To Go Travel

Skims: 31 March

Activist investors bring the bucks. (bloomberg)

noisy investors such as Carl Icahn, Bill Ackman and Nelson Peltz — who urge corporate heads to rethink their strategies and expedite stock-boosting changes — generated a 48 percent average gain for shareholders of the companies they’ve preyed on in the last five calendar years

California’s drought has create an “arms race” among farmers to shore up water. more water-demanding crops such as the almond which takes a gallon of water to produce one nut. (Mercury News)

The Central Valley’s reserves are shrinking by 800 billion gallons a year — enough to supply every resident of California with water for seven months

It takes slightly more than a gallon of water to produce one almond, three-quarters of a gallon to grow a single pistachio and 4.9 gallons to grow a single walnut.

British Columbia has a really good policy for curbing gas-guzzling. BC’s carbon tax has led to gas use “declining seven times as much as might be expected from an equivalent rise in the market price of gas.” A study found a “17 percent per capita decline in fuel consumption in BC.” Plus, the tax has brought in some $5 billion in revenue so far, which results in tax breaks for consumers. (Mother Jones)

San Francisco’s Los Angeles’ Metro is figuring out how to harness wind power from subway trains as they fly through tunnels and use it for powering electric car charging stations, lights in stations and tunnels, escalators and more. (The Source)

Correction: Previous version of this post named San Francisco’s Metro, while it is Los Angeles’ metro that is exploring energy generated in subway tunnels.

Skims: End of March Weekend

The University of Washington has a guide on how to report on mental health issues.

Notes on the upcoming election for the world’s largest democracy, India. (electionista)

  • Voting takes places over 9 days: on April 7, 9, 10, 12, 17, 24, 30, May 7 and, finally, on May 12
  • 814 million eligible voters, casting ballots at 930,000 polling booths to elect the 543-seat lower house
  • Four million staff will be deployed during the election
  • There are more than 100 million first time voters
  • Turnout in 2009 was 58.7%. The Election Commission expects it to hit an unprecedented 70% this year
  • India’s election campaign spending is expected to hit $5bn – second only to the most expensive U.S. campaign of all time.

Where everyone in the world is migrating. (qz)

  • It’s not the poorest countries sending people to the richest countries, it’s countries in transition—still poor, but with some education and mobility—that are the highest migratory contributors.
  • The largest regional migration is from Southeast Asia to the Middle East.

Good read: The 25-Year-Old at the Helm of Lonely Planet. (Outside)

Last year, a media-shy billionaire bought the flailing Lonely Planet travel-guide empire, then shocked observers by hiring an unknown 24-year-old former wedding photographer to save it. Charles Bethea straps in for a bizarre ride as a kid mogul tries to remake a legendary brand for the digital age.

Venezuela is investigating whether crossword puzzles in a local Venezuelan newspaper are calling readers to violent protests with inciting messages. (Bloomberg)

Skims: 28 March 2014

Tracing Americans’ fear of fat to a Senator in 1976 who was concerned about his colleagues dying off. (NPR)

“If you look at the statistics, members were dying at a rather large rate,” Senate historian Don Ritchie tells us …

Sen. McGovern, a Democrat from South Dakota, called his hearing … he called as a witness a Harvard University professor who pointed to the harms of overconsumption of fat.

The hearing led to the creation of the first set of dietary guidelines for Americans.

“The thinking of the day is that you wanted to reduce fat,” says science writer Gary Taubes, author of Why We Get Fat.

Mudslide buried the love of his life, sitting beside him. (LAT)

“That he was able to survive and dig himself out … I really wish he’d been able to save her too. But at least I still have one parent.”

App signals end of times. (CNET)

A newly published patent application suggests a way to display video on your iPhone that shows the path ahead as you look down.

Pope Francis accepted the resignation of  the ‘Bishop of Bling,’ who spent $43 million renovating this house. (WaPo)

  • Item: hanging an advent wreath. Bill: $25,000. Fun Fact: Workers had to open up the chapel roof — with a crane — to install it.
  • Item: heated stones. Bill: $26,000.Fun Fact: They were used to line outdoor paths for more comfortable walking.
  • Item: Bronze window frames. Bill: $2.38 million. Fun fact: The cost was supposed to be half that. But Tebartz-van Elst, the report shows, really wanted his window frames to be bronze.


What could have been…

Who turned down the vice presidency twice, only to have both presidents who offered him the spot die while they were in office?

Daniel Webster  (cnn with the tip)

California Gov. Jerry Brown seems pretty cool. (LAT)

“He shuns most trappings of the office. There’s no motorcade, no entourage. The governor showed up at the elections department with a lone campaign advisor and his wife, who snapped a photo using her smart phone.”

“Brown fashions many of his own speeches, veto messages and even press releases. His staff in the governor’s office is about half that of his Republican predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who employed as many as 230. He often goes months without a public appearance, sometimes holed up at his home in the Oakland hills, calling authors, experts and others he wrings for information.”

More reason to be afraid of e-cigs. (NYT)

like e-cigarettes, e-liquids are not regulated by federal authorities. They are mixed on factory floors and in the back rooms of shops, and sold legally in stores and online in small bottles that are kept casually around the house for regular refilling of e-cigarettes.

Evidence of the potential dangers is already emerging. Toxicologists warn that e-liquids pose a significant risk to public health, particularly to children, who may be drawn to their bright colors and fragrant flavorings like cherry, chocolate and bubble gum.

Interesting ideas about what is behind Twitter’s reported use is experimenting with new interaction processes between users. (via qz)

As a public company, the pressure is on Twitter to grow. That means getting people to spend more time on the site, and getting more people to show up in the first place. This is no doubt what’s behind recent rumors that Twitter is eliminating some of its conventions, like @ replies and hashtags, because they’re “arcane.” Twitter CEO Dick Costolo has admitted that Twitter can be confusing and “opaque” for new users.

Taxpayers funding Creationism curriculum. (politico) … But not Fox!

Taxpayers in 14 states will bankroll nearly $1 billion this year in tuition for private schools, including hundreds of religious schools that teach Earth is less than 10,000 years old, Adam and Eve strolled the garden with dinosaurs, and much of modern biology, geology and cosmology is a web of lies.

Why I Am Not On Instagram

I went on a snowboarding trip to Utah with my brother and good friend. Long days on great mountains. Yet, these are the only photos I turn up:

Adam and Eve (LDS style)The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints’  Visitor’s Center Adam and Eve (A lot of “of” and apostrophes in that title there)

Einstein Bros. Doggie Bagel Treat

Einstein Bros. Doggie Bagel treats, seen while purchasing provisions for a day on the mountain.

Finland vs. SwedenFinland vs. Sweden in the 2014 Winter Olympics, as watched over lunch at ski hill lodge.

Over the trip, my brother landed a backflip, I busted my foot, we saw a moose on a run, and I got to spend time with friends and family I seldom see. These are the photos I come away with.



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