Monday, May 2, 2016

Celtic Gold Ring, 5th c BCE

Halstatt period. Notice the faces. Up for sale at Timeline Auctions.



Weight Loss, Metabolism, and the Biggest Loser

Back in 2009, federal scientist and reality TV fan Kevin Hall had an idea: to use a season's worth of contestants on The Biggest Loser to study what happens to people's bodies after they lose a lot of weight. The results make pretty grim reading – unless you are looking for excuses, in which case they are gold.
It has to do with resting metabolism, which determines how many calories a person burns when at rest. When the show began, the contestants, though hugely overweight, had normal metabolisms for their size, meaning they were burning a normal number of calories for people of their weight. When it ended, their metabolisms had slowed radically and their bodies were not burning enough calories to maintain their thinner sizes.

Researchers knew that just about anyone who deliberately loses weight — even if they start at a normal weight or even underweight — will have a slower metabolism when the diet ends. So they were not surprised to see that “The Biggest Loser” contestants had slow metabolisms when the show ended.

What shocked the researchers was what happened next: As the years went by and the numbers on the scale climbed, the contestants’ metabolisms did not recover. They became even slower, and the pounds kept piling on. It was as if their bodies were intensifying their effort to pull the contestants back to their original weight.

Mr. Cahill was one of the worst off. As he regained more than 100 pounds, his metabolism slowed so much that, just to maintain his current weight of 295 pounds, he now has to eat 800 calories a day less than a typical man his size. Anything more turns to fat.
People can lose weight and keep it off, but only if they make it one of the central goals of their lives.

Protesters in Baghdad Demand Government by Experts

Fascinating events in Baghdad over the weekend:
Protesters stormed Iraq’s parliament Saturday in a dramatic culmination of months of demonstrations, casting uncertainty over the tenure of the country’s prime minister and the foundations of the political system laid in place after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Security forces declared a state of emergency in the Iraqi capital after demonstrators climbed over blast walls and broke through cordons to enter Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone, also home to ministries and the U.S. embassy. Many were followers of Iraq’s powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who has been urging his supporters onto the streets.

Lawmakers fled the building in panic, with some berated and struck as they left. Others were trapped in the basement for hours, too afraid to face the crowds who complain that the country’s political class is racked by corruption.
And what is it, exactly, that the former firebrand al-Sadr and his followers want?
Street protests began last summer, when tens of thousands demonstrated against corruption and a lack of services. They were reinvigorated when Sadr put his weight behind them earlier this year, calling for Iraq’s government to be replaced by technocrats.
Under immense pressure, Abadi has tried to reshuffle his cabinet and meet the demonstrators’ demands. But he has been hampered by a deeply divided parliament, and sessions have descended into chaos as lawmakers have thrown water bottles and punches at one another.
So what al-Sadr wants is what self-proclaimed "centrists" in the US always say they want, an end to partisan squabbling and a technocratic government focused on concrete results.

Maybe we could lend them Michael Bloomberg; I hear he's restless in retirement and might want to get back into politics.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Back to Changing Society: the Dubious Effects of Progressive Agitation

Here's a round-up of some disturbing findings from social psychology that one has to consider when thinking about any plan to change society.

On complaints that tests are biased against minorities:
We know exactly what happens when minorities are told tests are biased against them: they do worse on those tests. This is the essence of the idea of “stereotype threat” – for example, one can improve women’s performance on a math test simply by telling them that the test is not biased against women. So maybe we should stop doing exactly the thing that we just proved hurts women and minorities’ educational performance.
On educating children away from drugs:
nearly every study on DARE programs has found that they increase drug use, sometimes as much as 30%.
On "sensitivity training":
A comprehensive review of 31 years of data from 830 mid-size to large U.S. workplaces found that the kind of diversity training exercises offered at most firms were followed by a 7.5 percent drop in the number of women in management. The number of black, female managers fell by 10 percent, and the number of black men in top positions fell by 12 percent. Similar effects were seen for Latinos and Asians.
Besides, just talking to people about diversity makes them more likely to think in terms of racial and ethnic categories.

Plus, calling people racists makes them more racist. In fact all attempts to change people's attitudes run afoul of things called the "boomerang effect" and the "backfire effect." Basically, people hate to be criticized, and the main thing that happens when you criticize them is that they get defensive and find ways to justify their beliefs and actions.

It should of course be said that this is all social psychology, so none of these findings need be taken very seriously. There are studies that purport to show the opposite. On balance, though, the findings that show these reverse effects are stronger and better attested than anything showing that these measures help. There is simply no evidence that complaining about rape culture reduces rape, or that fulminating against racism decreases racism.

On the other hand there has been a measurable decline in both sexism and racism over the past 70 years, so these things can change. Maybe measures that fail in the short term have some effect on a time scale of generations. Or maybe the changes are being driven by forces that have little to do with moralist hectoring.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Antietam Battlefield with Two Children

I took my two younger children to Antietam today. Ben, 13, has just started getting interested in military history, and Clara just likes to go out and do things, so she happily came along. We went to the visitor's center to watch their 25-minute video, which is quite good, and then visited what to me are the three most evocative parts of the battlefield: the bloody cornfield, the sunken lane, and Burnside Bridge. The bloody cornfield is where the first phase of the battle was fought, a 2½-hour slaughter during which a man was killed or wounded ever second. It's still a cornfield, and I've always wondered what they do with the corn they harvest there.

At the sunken lane. The Confederates used this as a ready-made trench, but as I've explained before it is actually a terrible place to defend, and it ended up becoming a trap for hundreds of the men who defended it.


Ben is ready to repel attackers, and Clara is already dead.


They practice contemplative poses.


Up in the observation tower. The views weren't great, because it was a gray, gray day, but it was still fun.

Notice this pigeon happily nesting in among the anti-pigeon spikes.

Confederate's-eye view of Burnside Bridge; an old photo because today it was covered with scaffolding. I explained to Ben that it was defended by Georgians and attacked by New Yorkers. He said,
So it was like, Georgians: "Y'all goan die." New Yorkers: "Fuggetaboutit."
Ice cream at Nutter's in Sharpsburg, an essential part of any trip to Antietam.

Clowning in the National Cemetery. They had a copy of the Gettysburg Address posted on a wall, and we read it aloud together, taking turns. As we walked away Ben said, "It was cool that we did that."

Ban Plastic Bags, or Tax Them?

The latest New Yorker features a story by Ian Frazier about Jennie Romer, who is billed as the country's leading expert on legal efforts to ban or tax plastic shopping bags. Romer prefers charging a 5 or 10 cent tax,
because it makes shoppers think about whether they really need the bag and allows them to buy it if they do. Fees are also easier to defend against legal challenges. Bans, on the other hand, tend to get more support, she said, because voters seem to enjoy banning things.

David Brooks' Trump Crisis

David Brooks is so upset about Donald Trump's rise that he thinks we need to remake American in response:
We’ll probably need a new national story. Up until now, America’s story has been some version of the rags-to-riches story, the lone individual who rises from the bottom through pluck and work. But that story isn’t working for people anymore, especially for people who think the system is rigged.

I don’t know what the new national story will be, but maybe it will be less individualistic and more redemptive. Maybe it will be a story about communities that heal those who suffer from addiction, broken homes, trauma, prison and loss, a story of those who triumph over the isolation, social instability and dislocation so common today.

We’ll probably need a new definition of masculinity, too. There are many groups in society who have lost an empire but not yet found a role. Men are the largest of those groups. The traditional masculine ideal isn’t working anymore. It leads to high dropout rates, high incarceration rates, low labor force participation rates. This is an economy that rewards emotional connection and verbal expressiveness. Everywhere you see men imprisoned by the old reticent, stoical ideal.

We’ll also need to rebuild the sense that we’re all in this together. . . . what we’re really facing these days is a “crisis of solidarity.” Many people feel pervasively betrayed: by for-profit job-training outfits that left them awash in debt, by spouses and stepparents, by people who collect federal benefits but don’t work. . . . The big flashing lights say: NO TRUST.
Has Brooks been unhinged by his divorce, or is he onto something? I go back and forth in my mind about this all the time. Are we in a moment of great crisis, as Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz both seem to think, or is this a pretty decent time with no problems everyone doesn't have? This isn't Syria, or even Greece.

Is capitalist individualistic suburban life a workable system, or does it leave us lacking something crucial that our tribal, hunter-gatherer minds need – community, solidarity, danger, struggle – leading to an awful spiritual malaise?

The world economy is, I think, a machine so huge and complex that nobody understands it at all. So far it seems that a nation with enough hard-working, creative people can still thrive under a range of mixed systems, from half socialist to mostly capitalist. But why that is and what will happen as AI gets smarter and development evens out across the world seems to me anybody's guess.

A society of 300 million people is something even more complex and difficult to improve. Societies do change, but in unpredictable ways, and they always keep big baggage trains of junk from the past. Often the things we would most like to get rid of are the things that linger longest. How would you go about making a society more generous, or more friendly, or more trusting? How would you "change the definition of masculinity" – assuming we share one in the first place?

I think Brooks is asking for changes that can't be willed. I do agree with him, though, that electing Trump president would be a step in exactly the wrong direction

Friday, April 29, 2016

Faces II











Top to bottom, Lucius Verus, c. 165 CE; √Člisabeth Louise Vig√©e Le Brun, Portrait of Princess Belozersky, 1798; Bernini, Bust of Camilla Barbadori, 1618; Rembrandt, Self-Portrait; Sargon of Akkad; George Romney, Lady Hamilton as Circe, 1782; Hans Holbein, Charles de Solier Sieur de Morette, 1534; Giovanni Battista Moroni, Portrait of a Woman, c. 1570; Copper head from Ife, Nigeria; Caravaggio, The Musicians, 1595;  Detail of Etruscan Sarcophagus.

The Clinton Strategy for the Fall Campaign

Interesting long article in the Times on the Clinton team's preparations for a battle with Trump:
Several Democrats argued that Mrs. Clinton, should she be her party’s nominee, would easily beat Mr. Trump. They were confident that his incendiary remarks about immigrants, women and Muslims would make him unacceptable to many Americans. They had faith that the growing electoral power of black, Hispanic and female voters would deliver a Clinton landslide if he were the Republican nominee.

But others, including former President Bill Clinton, dismissed those conclusions as denial. They said that Mr. Trump clearly had a keen sense of the electorate’s mood and that only a concerted campaign portraying him as dangerous and bigoted would win what both Clintons believe will be a close November election.
Trump confuses everything. A lot of political insiders think he will be a horrible candidate, but then they also thought he would do terribly in the primaries. On the other hand the sort of politicians and strategists who focus on how the candidate and the campaign perform (like Bill Clinton) are very impressed by Trump. In a normal sort of year political scientists say they can predict the winner of the election based on economic data and a couple of poll numbers, but this year will be different because Trump is not an average Republican. He will drive away many who normally vote Republican but may attract many who might otherwise vote Democrat. The Clinton strategy taking shape is, in essence:
  1. She stays calm and presidential and refuses to be drawn into insult duels;
  2. Firing back is done by surrogates like her husband; 
  3. Meanwhile her campaign and allies attack Trump savagely with ads based on compilations of the most outrageous and insulting things he has said;
  4. And their opposition research people comb through Trump's business record looking for information they can use to make ads attacking him as an unreliable partner and no friend to working people.
In conclusion, we are in for:
a matchup that operatives on both sides predicted would be an epic, ugly clash between two vastly disparate politicians.

"Everybody loves their mother" watch

I just noticed this in a line from our cerebral, law professor president condemning Donald Trump as not fit for the oval office:
the president has the nuclear codes with them and can order 21-year-olds into a firefight.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

John Boehner on Ted Cruz

Oh what a year this has been in Republican politics:
Asked about Cruz during an appearance at Stanford University on Wednesday, Boehner called him “Lucifer in the flesh,” according to the The Stanford Daily.

“I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life,” Boehner added. He said he would not vote for Cruz in a general election, though he would vote for his fellow tangerine-tinted Republican Donald Trump.

James Monroe: Not as Humble as We Thought

This is interesting:
For decades, tourists have visited the historic home of James Monroe outside of Charlottesville, Va., and have encountered the quaint — if not underwhelming — residence of the nation’s fifth president.

Situated in the Blue Ridge, the plantation known as Highland, where Monroe lived from 1799 to 1823, has stood in contrast to another presidential estate on the outskirts of Charlottesville — Monticello, the palatial manse of President Thomas Jefferson.

A 1985 Washington Post article aptly opined that Monroe’s home “bears about the relation to Jefferson’s mansion as does a cottage to a country club.” Monroe himself even described his humble abode as a “cabin castle,” and historians interpreted his modesty as a latent expression of his roots as the son of a wood craftsman.

But an archaeological discovery on the property is rewriting the legacy of Monroe and the place he called home. It turns out that the home preserved on the estate — and marketed for years as the residence where the president laid his head — is in fact a guest quarters. Instead, an archaeological dig on the grounds has revealed a sizable home more than twice the size of the small cottage.

In other words, the home of Monroe was more castle than cabin and likely “in the same order of magnitude” of Jefferson’s Monticello, said Sara Bon-Harper, executive director of Highland, the 535-acre property owned by the College of William and Mary.
Sometimes I wonder how much is really learned by doing archaeology around the standing house of well-documented people, but here is a case where the digging will change how people understand the person.

In the picture at the top you can see what is now known to be the guest house and a piece of the newly discovered foundation. More pictures from the dig below.



A Possible Problem with Medical Studies of Obesity

Most of the government's data on obesity in American comes from telephone surveys, and those surveys show that the fattest Americans are in the south. But according to this study, southerners are not fatter than other Americans, they are just more honest when medical researchers ask about their weight.

Cruz Chooses a Running Mate

But the Times is not impressed:
Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, desperate to alter the course of a presidential primary fight in which Donald J. Trump is closing in on victory, announced Wednesday that Carly Fiorina would be his running mate if he won the Republican nomination. The move, a day after Mr. Trump scored unexpectedly wide victory margins in sweeping five East Coast states, amounted to the grandest diversionary tactic a presidential candidate can stage — or at least the grandest one available to a candidate trailing by about 400 delegates who failed to win more than 25 percent of the vote in any state on Tuesday.
Carly Fiorina? Really? I guess she had more success talking back to Trump than the other candidates, but otherwise she is just awful.

UPDATE

The Times continues to pour on the scorn:
Mr. Cruz’s gambit was received chiefly as an act of beleaguered improvisation — the political equivalent of a student pulling a fire alarm to avoid an exam.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Daedalus Intaglio, 1st Century CE


When Was America Greatest?

I love this polling, inspired by the Trump campaign. Above, the answers given by Republicans. Notice how few chose 2003, the year of Shock and Awe in Iraq.

And Democrats. There was a wrinkle here:
The pattern for supporters of Bernie Sanders was a little different from that of Hillary Clinton supporters: The main difference is that Mr. Sanders’s voters were more likely to pick a year from the 1960s, and more of the Clinton supporters chose best years in the 1990s, when her husband was president.
I have to say that on this I am going with my fellow Hillary supporters and saying 1999.

And then there's this:
In the Morning Consult survey, 44 percent of people over all said America’s greatest years were ahead of it, while 36 percent said those years had already passed.
Which I find very encouraging.

Money Can't Buy a House Seat in Maryland

An update on local politics in the Old Line State.

We just had a weird senate race in Maryland between two Congress-people from the Washington suburbs, Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards. This got played up as an establishment vs. progressive insurgent race, with the well-connected, Hillary-endorsed Van Hollen as the establishment candidate and Edwards as the radical. But really their voting records are all but identical and Edwards had to work hard to create some kind of difference between them. In the end this only made her seem shrill and angry compared to Van Hollen's cool, and he won easily.

Even more interesting was the race to replace Van Hollen in the House. There were eight candidates in the Democratic primary, one of whom, wine importer David Trone, spent $12 million of his own money on the campaign, apparently the most ever spent in a House primary. He lost to state senator and American University law professor Jamie Raskin, who spent a few hundred thousand.

Maryland's 8th District is stocked with federal workers, government contractors, activists, and other such Beltway folks, giving it one of the best informed electorates in the country. In that environment Trone's spending could not overcome Raskin's popularity with progressives and Democratic party insiders. Not that the money accomplished nothing; Trone certainly got his message out, and he came in second. But he couldn't overcome a skilled, well-positioned politician.

The best antidotes to money in politics are 1) a well-informed electorate and 2) an effective party apparatus.

The Anti-Trump Voters are Discouraged

Trump's big wins yesterday came in part because voter turnout among Republicans is way down. Republican turnout was 10% or less of the voting age population in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maryland and Delaware, and it was only 6.4% in New York, making them five of the six lowest turnout primary states so far. By comparison, turnout was 17% in Virginia and 22% in Ohio.

I like Nate Silver's explanation:
So it may not be that undecided voters are gravitating to Trump so much as anti-Trump Republicans are discouraged. Trump faces unusually high levels of intraparty opposition for a front-runner — or at least, he had seemed to until the past two weeks. But Kasich and Ted Cruz are also deeply flawed, and somewhat factional, candidates. It’s asking a lot of voters to cast a tactical vote against Trump when that tactic requires (i) going to a contested convention in order to (ii) deny the candidate with the plurality of votes and delegates the nomination in order to (iii) give the nomination to a candidate they don’t particularly like anyway. The #NeverTrump voters might not be voting for Trump, but they might be staying at home. They aren't voting for Trump, but they don't like any of the alternatives.
Trump is increasingly likely to be the nominee because there simply is not a credible alternative around whom his opponents can rally. The only candidate with even a mathematical chance of beating him is Cruz, and outside his base of hard-core conservatives he is not very popular. Few Republicans outside the Cruz camp are going to throw their souls into stopping Trump if the result is nominating Cruz.

If we go back to the "lane" model that pundits were using early in the race, it seems to have unfolded like this: because Cruz was a much more formidable candidate than Huckabee or Santorum, he has expanded the evangelical Christian/extremely conservative lane up to around a third of the party, squeezing the other lanes. Meanwhile Trump built his own lane, taking in voters of all ideologies for whom Republicanism is mainly an identity, mainly about whose side your are on and who your enemies are. Trump used his television and twitter skills to take out the candidate he most feared, Jeb Bush, who for his part wilted pathetically under Trump's fire. The reduced establishment lane was for a while divided among several candidates, to the benefit of Cruz and Trump. By the time the dust settled the only surviving establishment candidate was Rubio, who just isn't very impressive. Plus one reason Republicans usually rally around the front-runner is that they like winners, and Trump was clearly winning. So the establishment lane dried up, leaving establishment-oriented Republicans nowhere to go but home.

It's an interesting lesson in how much more complex the variables are for a race with eight real candidates than they are in a race with two or three. It is also a testament to the political skill of Donald Trump, and to the bad state of the national Republican Party.

UPDATE

A bit of confirmation from a paragraph on how politicians in Indiana are reacting to John Kasich's decision not to contest the state:
“I have no idea if I’ll vote for a presidential candidate now,” said Jim Merritt, a state senator from the Indianapolis area who had been inclined to back the Ohio governor. “I am very disappointed.”

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Today's Demographic Statistic

In Lancaster County, Pennsylvania there are more Hispanics than Amish.

An Incantation: Carmina Burana 54

Every kind of demon being –
Come hobbling, come squabbling,
Sightless or unseeing –
Mark well my words, my invocation,
My command, my incantation.

Creatures of all phantom company
Who populate the principality
Of that vile dragon creeping
With venom seeping –
Whose high and mighty fundament
Sweeps full one third the stars’ extent –
Gordan, Ingordin and Ingordan:
By the Seal of Solomon,
Magi the Pharaohs call upon,
I now exorcise you
And substantialize you:
By sages three: Caspar,
Melchior and Balthazar:
By David’s playing
For the allaying
Of Saul’s dismaying
And your gainsaying.

I adjure you
And conjure you
By the mandate of the Lord:
Be unkind not,
Hurt mankind not,
Manifest misericord:
Show but once your faces
And retract your traces
With forsaken races
To hell’s hiding places.

I adjure
I conjure
By that awesome
By that fearsome
That gruesome Judgement Day,
When unending punishment
And horror and dismay
And unbounded banishment
Shall drive demonkind
Into damnation
But shrive humankind
Unto salvation.

By that same unnamed, unsaid,
That unutterably dread
Tetragrammaton of God:
Fall to fear and trembling
As to disassembling
I now exorcise
Spectres: demons: ghosts: hobgoblins:
Satyrs: sirens: hamadryads
Nightmares: incubi and
Shades of the departed –
Flee to ruination,
Chaos and damnation,
Lest your foul conflation
Rend Christ’s congregation.

From all our enemies, good Lord, deliver us.

Translated by David Parlett (The Penguin Edition)

The Carmina Burana is a collection of medieval poems in Latin and Middle High German, contained in a single manuscript from a monastery in Bavaria. There are 350 poems in all. I have never read most of them and did not know about this one until just now, and now I wonder what other treasures are buried therein.

The First Amendment Does Protect You from Mistakes

Back in January I wrote here about an amusing case that came before the Supreme Court:
Back in 2006, police detective Jeffrey Heffernan of Paterson, New Jersey, was seen carrying around a yard sign for a candidate in the mayoral election. Actually he was just transporting it for his mother, but when the candidate of that sign lost the election Heffernan was demoted to beat cop. He sued. A jury awarded him $105,000, but the judge vacated the verdict, and an appeals court agreed. After all, Heffernan hadn't actually been exercising his First Amendment rights. He was only mistakenly thought to be exercising his First Amendment rights, and the constitution doesn't say anything at all about that.
Now the court has rendered its verdict, and they found for Heffernan:
The justices, in a 6-to-2 decision, said it was unconstitutional to demote a police officer based on the mistaken assumption that he had engaged in political activity.

“When an employer demotes an employee out of a desire to prevent the employee from engaging in political activity that the First Amendment protects, the employee is entitled to challenge that unlawful action,” Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote for the majority, “even if, as here, the employer makes a factual mistake about the employee’s behavior.”
That seems just to me.

Why Westerners Join the Islamic State

Efraim Benmelech and Esteban F. Klor, a paper published through the National Bureau of Economic Research:
This paper provides the first systematic analysis of the link between economic, political, and social conditions and the global phenomenon of ISIS foreign fighters. We find that poor economic conditions do not drive participation in ISIS. In contrast, the number of ISIS foreign fighters is positively correlated with a country's GDP per capita and Human Development Index (HDI). In fact, many foreign fighters originate from countries with high levels of economic development, low income inequality, and highly developed political institutions. Other factors that explain the number of ISIS foreign fighters are the size of a country's Muslim population and its ethnic homogeneity. Although we cannot directly determine why people join ISIS, our results suggest that the flow of foreign fighters to ISIS is driven not by economic or political conditions but rather by ideology and the difficulty of assimilation into homogeneous Western countries.
According to their research the problem is not poverty or unemployment but lack of assimilation.

The Visconti Hours




Made in the late fourteenth century for Gian Galeazzo Visconti, Duke of Milan.

More here.




Monday, April 25, 2016

Former Social Justice Warriors

I'm starting to see stories about people who were once social justice activists but have been driven out by what they see as the intolerance and narrow-mindedness of the movement. Conor Friedersdorf hears from Mahad Olad, a Kenyan immigrant. When he was in high school in Minneapolis, he was an activist in feminist, LGBT, and anti-racism groups, what he called the "social justice scene."
Then he became disillusioned. . . .

“On Twitter,” he wrote, “I discussed how trigger warnings have almost been rendered useless now that they’re used to alert individuals when talking about normal everyday things, like food, cars and animals. And that their use could potentially have adverse effects on academic freedom. I was accused of being outrageously insensitive and apparently made three activist cohorts have traumatic breakdowns.”

“In another tweet,” he added, “I criticized the usual tactic of campus activists to disrupt and heckle controversial speakers and advised them to raise their strong objections during the question and answer session, which lectures usually reserve long hours precisely to debate opponents. This time, the attacks got a little more personal. I was accused of being a ‘respectable negro,’ ‘uncle tom,’ ‘local coon’ and defending university officials to continue to ‘systemically oppress minorities.’”

I asked if he thought his race and ethnicity made it easier or harder to dissent. “A little easier, I guess,” he replied, “But it really doesn't feel good being a called a ‘house nigger.’”

He says he was ultimately kicked out of student-led social justice groups.
Obviously I know nothing about this young man beyond what he has told reporters, and maybe there is much left out of his story. But as I said I am hearing more rumblings like this, from people who support the cause but can't abide the atmosphere in these activist groups. Can young activists find a way to expand their tent and keep people of different temperments working together, or are we headed for another ugly crack-up like the one that crippled so many activist groups from the 60s?

Ponder

The shield of the School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Via Marginal Revolution.

Anti-American Posters in Iran







Pictures posted by Moose and Hobbes after a recent trip to Iran.