friday tab clearing

--A great write-up about Durham, NC-based start-up Organic Transit, who is producing what might very well be the most innovative and promising alternative to the automobile in the United States, if not the world. (By way of disclosure: employees 1 and 5 are close personal friends of mine, I donated to their Kickstarter, and I've gotten to take the ELF for a test drive. It's pretty awesome.)

--Marijuana is going corporate. It's a brave new world.

--James Lipton was a pimp. No, seriously.

--Patrick Stewart: still one of the coolest human beings alive.

that'll be the last time i link to the daily caller

As the great man said: fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice...we won't get fooled again.


white house smoke in the irs scandal? (updated--probably not)

(Compiled by and further discussed at The Daily Caller)

I'm with Sully on this: there are plenty of reasons to distrust The Daily Caller as a source. But they appear to be drawing from public records, and acknowledge the caveats of the data (specifically, that not all high-level visits to the White House are logged). And in any case, 150+ visits by the IRS commissioner to the White House seems like a hell of a lot in absolute terms; never mind how that actually compares with Eric Holder or Hillary Clinton.

This needs an explanation from the top. And soon.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan's readers are doing a pretty thorough job of dismantling this--or at least going a long way towards pointing out that The Daily Caller has (shockingly) skewed the data to cast the President in the worst possible light. To wit:
I shared the same concern regarding the disclosure of IRS Commissioner Shulman’s visits to the White House.  But they were quickly assuaged when I looked at the actual data, which can be downloaded here.  The correspondence from your reader on your updated post seems absolutely correct – looks like many (if not most) were about health care. I engaged in a cursory review of the first 20 or so Shulman entiries, and virtually all were with individuals involved with the health care reform proposal.  In particular, the contact for most of the initial meetings was Nancy-Ann Deparle, the Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, who was at the center of shaping health care reform.  One entry specifically notes that it was for the “bi-weekly health reform deputies meeting.”

I did not review all the entries, and it is conceivable that there are others that raise suspicions.  But the log make one thing very clear: “visiting the White House” does not mean a meeting with the president.  Typically, it means (and apparently did in Shulman’s case) meetings with policy wonks and other staff.  Given Shulman participation in such policy meetings, it is hardly surprising that he was there frequently, or that a lower-level official might be present at the White House far more often than a cabinet secretary.

in which i praise (some of) the media, for once

I had jotted a mental note to myself yesterday, to write a post pointing out the absurdity of Eric Holder's offer to meet with Washington bureau chiefs to discuss the DOJ's policies vis a vis the investigation of journalists off the record, and to suggest that were said bureau chiefs to agree to such a thing one might reasonably consider that a (further) abdication of the press's duty to serve as watchdog of those in power.

But it appears that a good many of them have reached the same conclusion without my help.

So I will simply say: good for CNN, Fox News, CBS News, McClatchy, The Associated Press, The New York Times and The Huffington Post, and shame on ABC and The Washington Post.


i love this

Geez, Wolfie...condescend much?

Give this woman credit: if you are an atheist living in the Bible Belt, and find yourself put on the spot like this (never mind on national television), it is frankly a hell of a lot easier to just smile politely and go along with things. (I know of what I speak, here.)

She stays true to herself, and does so graciously. She's magnanimous towards her neighbors (some of whom--I absolutely guarantee you--are going to give her shit about this.) And she doesn't say anything along the lines of, "no, I don't feel I should 'thank the Lord' for killing someone else's children instead of mine this time."

(Which is probably what I would have done.)


friday jam: wugazi

A buddy of mine sent me a CD with a metric ton of music on it a while back, and it's taken me a while to get around to listening to it all. Which is a real shame, because now I know how much time I could have been listening to Wugazi's 13 Chambers, but wasn't

A mash-up of songs from the Wu-Tang Clan and Fugazi sounds like it could be gimmicky. Hell, it sounds like it should be gimmicky. And there is every reason to expect it to be terrible, because most mash-ups are terrible. But this isn't. Not only is it not terrible, it's 13 amazing tracks that could each stand on their own.

Just as one example (and I could probably do this for every track)...I don't think that I would have ever noticed the rhythmic consonance between the menacing piano hook of ODB's "Shimmy Shimmy Ya":

...and the understated guitar bass riff of Fugazi's "Forensic Scene":
...much less would I have imagined that combining them just so would produce this:

This might be the greatest gateway drug for hip-hop in a long, long time.


how to take a leak in privacy (or something like that)

Some solid, practical advice:

Of course, the job still isn’t finished. When you are done you must clear the browser’s cookies and turn off the Wi-Fi before turning off the computer and removing the battery. The dedicated computer should never be used on the network except when checking your press-contact account and only from open Wi-Fi connections away from home and work.
More--lots more--at the link. 


the problem is people (and it always is)

Farhad Manjoo wrote yesterday about the invasion of public spaces by canines and their owners. This has, predictably, kicked up a chorus of what passes for discussion these days.

This is silly. Manjoo raises some perfectly reasonable objections to dogs being off leash where they shouldn't, being present where they shouldn't, and being poorly controlled by their owners in public situations. (I say this as someone who will take his dog anywhere and everywhere that he can. After all, poorly controlled dogs are a problem for other dogs, too.) But this has nothing to do with dogs. You could write the same piece about children (Manjoo halfheartedly acknowledges as much himself), cell phone usage, bicycle riders, wearing perfume, leaf blowers, and probably a dozen other things that people do or have in public, that can either be handled with some basic consideration for the people around you, or not.

To single out dogs (or any of those other things) as being a particular scourge on society is to miss the point entirely. We should be talking about basic manners.


i've been on this road so long i'm going in circles now

I've kept mum about this here, since it has been up in the air for a lot longer than I would have preferred, but as I now have it in writing, and (by the time this actually publishes) have informed my current employer (not that he reads or knows about this page), I suppose I can say that this blog and its attendant author will be pulling up stakes and leaving Seattle in just under two months.

We will be moving to Durham, NC, which long-time readers will know is familiar ground.

Without going into a lot of googlable detail, I've gotten a much, much better job in the RTP area. I will still be doing science, but in a more collaborative and interdisciplinary environment, and at a much more "big picture" level.

That's all I should probably say about the job here and now. My wife and I are both very, very excited about this. Seattle has been a great place to live--I think that it is, for all its quirks, one of the better governed and most livable major cities in the country. Life here was great, and I'm grateful to have had a few years to experience it. We've met some wonderful people here, and hope that a few will remain lifelong friends.

However, despite its charms, I don't think I've ever felt truly at home, here. My work situation has been very, very difficult, and it wouldn't surprise me that given a better situation on that side of things if I would have found myself happy to put down roots and never leave. But that is not the hand I was dealt.

More than that, though, is that I've felt a nagging pull back to Durham since we left. We have friends there that aren't "like" family to us, they are family to us. And the community there is something very hard to explain, but very, very special. I'm amazed and humbled that the job market (and especially this job market) has provided us with an opportunity to go back to the one place I really do feel is home.

This will be my fourth major relocation in 14 years. But I'm hoping that it will be my last.
This is just nuts. I hope someone does these poor young women a solid and makes sure they know what a horrible person Nancy Grace is.


the war on salt water

I just got an email forwarded to me that originated with the WA Board of Pharmacy, to the effect that sterile saline for injection is considered a "legend drug" for the purposes of regulation. Which means--I kid you not--that it has to be kept under lock and key, logged per usage, and disposed of per very specific protocols.

I don't even think I need to add a joke, here.



From Slayer's Facebook page yesterday:

Slayer is devastated to inform that their bandmate and brother, Jeff Hanneman, passed away at about 11AM this morning near his Southern California home. Hanneman was in an area hospital when he suffered liver failure. He is survived by his wife Kathy, his sister Kathy and his brothers Michael and Larry, and will be sorely missed.

Hanneman had been suffering from necrotizing fasciitis following a probable spider bite in 2011--which is basically the most metal possible disease you can ever have--and this had kept him off the road with the band ever since. It isn't clear whether this contributed to his liver failure, but I cannot imagine that it helped.

Unfortunately, that video cuts off before the guitar chaos at the end of the song, but I really like this old version because it shows how fast they played this stuff when they were young. For contrast, check this performance from probably 15 years later:

Slayer is one of those bands that nobody has lukewarm feelings about. If you hadn't already made up your mind about Slayer, I'm sure you did about 20 seconds into that first video. Thrash sort of came and went by the early 90's as a major force in music, but Slayer kept churning it out well into the 21st century. And where bands like Metallica and Megadeth got more radio-friendly, Slayer never compromised their sound.

I've listened to a lot of metal since Reign in Blood came out almost 27 (!) years ago. And while there's been a ton of great stuff, I don't think anything has ever come close to topping that 29 minutes of raw brutality.

It's provocative. For some, it is downright scary. For others, unimaginably obnoxious. I get that. I don't put a Slayer record on when I've got company over for dinner. I don't make anyone listen to it in the car.

But when it's just me at the end of a long day, blowing off steam with a run or a round with the heavy bag...there is nothing I'd rather have piped into my ears.