MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en And Now For Some Dour Predictions For the New Year <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Tyler Cowen offers some <a href="" target="_blank">economic guesses for the coming year.</a> In a nutshell, he thinks Russia is doomed; American wage growth will remain stagnant; a resource crash will throw Canada and Australia into a downturn; Abenomics will fail once and for all; Greece will cause chaos by voting itself out of the eurozone; China will decline; Latin America will decline; and Italy and France (and maybe Germany) will stagnate. On the bright side, India might do OK.</p> <p>And that's not all. We might have a stock market crash in the US. And maybe a nuclear bomb will go off somewhere. And we'll have another outbreak of avian flu.</p> <p>This public service announcement has been brought to you by the Doleful Society of Dystopic Downers. If you haven't yet given up all hope, there's more at the link. Including at least one cheerful prediction!</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Mon, 29 Dec 2014 15:31:14 +0000 Kevin Drum 267351 at John Oliver Hates New Year's Eve Too. Watch Him Show Us How to Successfully Bail on the Worst Holiday <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>"New Year's Eve is like the death of a pet. You know it's going to happen, but somehow you're never truly prepared for how truly awful it is. New Year&rsquo;s Eve is <em>the worst.</em> It combines three of the least pleasant things known to mankind: forced interaction with strangers, being drunk, cold and tired, and having to stare at Ryan Seacrest for five solid minutes, waiting for him to tell you what the time is."</p> <p>And with that, John Oliver briefly returned to <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Last Week Tonight</em> </a>on Sunday to arm us with some helpful tips on how to avoid the ever disappointing shit show that is New Year's Eve. Watch below:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Media Mon, 29 Dec 2014 15:28:46 +0000 Inae Oh 267346 at 40 Great Quotes From 40 Great Interviews <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Wow, looking back, we've had the privilege of talking to some really talented and interesting people this past year. This is just a fraction, actually. I didn't want to overwhelm you. But no matter your interests, you're bound to find something below that's up your alley.</p> <p><strong>On Feminism</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/hannah126.jpg"></div> <p>"It's really cool that Miley Cyrus said she's the biggest feminist ever. I was like, 'That's the sound of 200,000 eight-year-olds Googling the word "feminist!'" <em>&mdash;Riot Grrrl icon <a href="">Kathleen Hannah</a></em>, now back on stage with her latest band, The Julie Ruin</p> <p><strong>On Preparedness</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/strayed126.jpg"></div> <p>"If you want to read anything nasty about me, just go to the backpacker websites. I mean, lots of outdoor people love <em>Wild</em>, but there's this kind of elitist branch where they really believe that I had no business going backpacking. I get blamed: "Oh, Cheryl Strayed, it's her fault if somebody needs to be rescued." First of all, things have gone awry in the wilderness well before <em>Wild</em> was ever published. But I actually don't have any fear of people reading <em>Wild</em> and going out unprepared. Because one of the best things that ever happened to me was that I went out unprepared." <em>&mdash;Author <a href="">Cheryl Strayed</a>, whose memoir is now a film starring Reese Witherspoon</em></p> <p><strong>On Rock and Roll</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/crowell126.jpg"></div> <p>"Before I leave this world, if I can create something that's timeless and museum quality, then it will have all been worth it. And if I don't? It would have still all been worth it." <em>&mdash;Country music luminary <a href="">Rodney Crowell</a></em></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Lanois126_0.jpg"></div> <p>"It's a lesson that I learned in Toronto when I was a kid and played guitar on sessions. The studio people were forever rummaging through closets, fishing out equipment. Hours would go by, people would be in the game room playing pinball while some other guy hit the snare for hours on end. I said to myself, "Is this what rock 'n' roll is about? The Ramones walk in the door and they're going to play pinball? No way! I want the Ramones walking in and rocking out!" <em>&mdash;<a href="">Daniel Lanois</a>, producer of iconic albums by U2, Bob Dylan, and Peter Gabriel</em></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/sobule126.jpg"></div> <p>"Whereas my friends might listen to the <em>songs, </em>I would spend hours looking at the liner notes and figuring out who did what and listen to the productions. I don't think other kids would listen and think, 'Oh, that's an interesting bass sound.' Whenever I was sick at home my dad would bring me a vinyl record. I remember getting David Bowie's <em>Station to Station</em> when I had the flu." <em>&mdash;Singer/songwriter <a href="">Jill Sobule</a></em></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/xido126.jpg"></div> <p><em>"</em>I really see the rock movement as the revolution that happens in the aftermath of destruction. It's the thing that people don't talk about. Media always talks about war, but nobody really talks about the day after, and the year after, and the five years after&mdash;what it means to rebuild. It's that hidden story that's less sensationalist, and less sexy. It's much more complex, and much more human. You are confronted with your own inadequacies when you start thinking about the difficult things, the work of what it is to be human." <em>&mdash;<a href="">Jeremy Xido</a>, director of the documentary</em> Death Metal Angola</p> <p><strong>On Being Young and Gay</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/wainwright126.jpg"></div> <p>"I knew when I was signed, at the age of 23, in Hollywood, at a huge studio, that the fact that I was openly writing about my homosexual lifestyle and that I presented myself as an out gay man was very, very unusual&hellip;People tried to persuade me to hide it and be a little more mysterious. But I didn't want to hear any of that." <em>&mdash;Songwriter <a href="">Rufus Wainwright</a></em></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/farizan126.jpg"></div> <p>"My first crush, as early as age 5, was Gadget the Mouse from <em>Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers</em>. It didn't bother me that she was animated, or a mouse. It bothered me that she was female. I had these inclinations, and was really terrified by them." <em>&mdash;<a href="">Sara Farizan</a>, whose gay-themed YA novels have been an unexpected hit</em></p> <p><strong>On Sexism in Art, Science, and Technology</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/gay126.jpg"></div> <p>"I don't read the comments anymore, unless they are moderated. Which is not to say censored, but I don't need to read someone saying, "You're ugly." Nasty emails I delete. I read them, and of course it hurts. I'm human, and I allow myself to feel that hurt. But I also try to keep it in its proper place. This is not someone who deserves my time. They don't deserve my pain. I try to remember that." <em>&mdash;<a href="">Roxane Gay</a>, author of </em>Bad Feminist<em>, on dealing with the inevitable trolls</em></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/savage126.jpg"></div> <p>"Shit's tough for girls&hellip;I wish I understood it better. Because I see it, and I have friends that suffer from it. And I worked with Kari Byron for 11 years, and I've watched the evolution of the terrible shit Kari's had to deal with as a public figure and a woman and a science communicator." <em>&mdash;</em>Mythbusters <em>star <a href="">Adam Savage</a> on sexism in science and tech</em></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/moby126.jpg"></div> <p>"What I also found really odd, when I was criticizing Eminem for being misogynistic, is how few people came to my defense. I'm not trying to look for pity or sympathy. I was just surprised that so many people in the world of entertainment seemed to be okay with misogyny and homophobia as long as they were profiting from it." <em>&mdash;Musician <a href="">Moby</a>, on his public feuding with Eminem</em></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Jules_Feiffer126.jpg"></div> <p>"There's no rap against comics that isn't true. They were sexist, they were racist, you name it&mdash;and they kind of gloried in that. If someone attacked them, back in the time I was growing up reading comics in the '40s and the '50s, the purveyors would look at you not knowing what the hell you were talking about. This is just what they did: 'What's wrong with this?'" <em>&mdash;<a href="">Jules Feiffer</a>, who released his first graphic novel this year at age 85</em></p> <p><strong>On #Gamergate</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/chu126.jpg"></div> <p>"You hear a lot of this. 'Why are you dragging real-life politics into cyberspace? I go to gaming to get away from real-life issues.' For a lot of geeks, gaming is all about stripping who you are completely and entering this imaginary space, this world that's made for you, where winning and losing have nothing to do with real life. They try to argue that representation in games has not been an issue because nobody is really themselves in a game; it's all just avatars. They're not seeing the many ways in which that's not true." <em>&mdash;Jeopardy champ <a href="">Arthur Chu</a></em></p> <p><strong>On Race</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/williams126.jpg"></div> <p>"I'm not walking around feeling black all the time. That would stress me out. It would make me crack. Some days I do feel that pressure of, "What do I <em>mean</em> as a black woman? What am I <em>representing</em>?" It honestly just gives me anxiety." <em>&mdash;</em>Daily Show <em>correspondent <a href="">Jessica Williams</a></em></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/vargas126.jpg"></div> <p>"It's so easy to hate something you don't know. What's harder is to actually scratch the surface." &mdash;Journalist <em><a href="">Jose Antonio Varg</a>as, who is making a documentary about the experience of young whites in America </em></p> <p><strong>On Fame</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/jessieware126.jpg"></div> <p>My husband "doesn't give a shit about all the VIP. We're going to the Glastonbury Festival this weekend, and I was like, 'Someone's given us a hotel if we want it,' and he's like, 'Why the fuck would we have a hotel? It's Glastonbury! We've camped since we were 20.' And there's the Jewish princess in me being like, "Please say yes to the hotel. Please say yes to the hotel." <em>&mdash;British popstar <a href="">Jessie Ware</a></em></p> <p><strong>On Environmental Mayhem</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/margaret126.jpg"></div> <p>"The [BP] spill happened, and then nothing happened. I hope the film can address <em>why</em> nothing happened, and I think a lot of that is Congress. But also that, the minute it got off the news, people stopped thinking about. It seemed like, 'Okay, they capped it. It's gone.' But actually, there are no new safety regulations. It's not gone. <em>&mdash;Filmmaker <a href="">Margaret Brown</a>, whose documentary</em> The Great Invisible<em> tells the inside story of the Deepwater Horizon disaster</em></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/oliver126.jpg"></div> <p>"I'm not an activist, but as a comedian, some of how it is talked about is incredibly funny to me. The stridency, and the intense comfort with a lack of scientific information, is ludicrous&mdash;it's objectively ludicrous&hellip;This world will be a complete ball of fire before it stops being funny." <em>&mdash;<a href="">Comedian John Oliver</a>, on climate change</em></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/kolbert126_0.jpg"></div> <p>"If you're asking in the abstract, 'What could you do to really mess up a lot of species?' it would be hard to design a better system than the one we've got. Practically everything is on the move now, in some way, because of climate change. And they're going to run up against all these man-made barriers. We've completely changed the rules of the game." <em>&mdash;<a href="">Elizabeth Kolbert</a>, author of </em>The Sixth Extinction</p> <p><strong>On Technological Change</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Gibson126.jpg"></div> <p>"One of the things I loved about the series <em>Deadwood</em> was that sense of just how deadly clever people in the 19th century probably really were. If those guys got out of the time machine now in downtown Los Angeles, they wouldn't be hopeless hicks. They'd be very dangerous characters, simply because they were. And the people in my 22nd century initially assume that anyone they're dealing with back in 2025 or whenever is just kind of a hick." <em>&mdash;Author <a href="">William Gibson</a> on his latest novel, </em>The Peripheral</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Dezenhall126.jpg"></div> <p>"The problem with social media is that people respond therapeutically. It is therapeutic to hit back against your enemies, but it is not necessarily strategically wise. McDonalds and JPMorgan opened up Twitter conversations that were taken over <em>instantly</em> by their detractors. People in my industry would like people to believe we have ways to control it. But that's one of the great swindles." <em>&mdash;Corporate crisis-management guru <a href="">Eric Dezenhall</a></em></p> <p><strong>On Politics and Politicians</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/shearer126.jpg"></div> <p>"It became obvious that there were really funny characteristics about this guy, chief of which would be that he seemed to devote about 85 percent of his waking energy to suppressing any sign of his emotional response to anything that was going on around him, and the other 15 percent blurting out those authentic responses in the silliest and most inopportune ways. And he had these smiles that would come at the most inappropriate times&mdash;just flashes that there was an inner life screaming to get out. <em>&mdash;Actor <a href="">Harry Shearer</a> on portraying Richard Nixon</em></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/jgl126.jpg"></div> <p>I can't say I follow the ins and outs of electoral politics closely, but I tend to think having an impact on the world is a lot more complicated than government. If I were to point to the person who's having the greatest impact, I wouldn't be naming that many government officials. I'd point to, for example, Elon Musk. &mdash;Actor <a href="">Joseph-Levitt</a></p> <p><strong>On Scrabble</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/merritt126.jpg"></div> <p>"The last time I attempted Scrabble with an interviewer, I accidentally stole 12 tiles from the Bryant Park public Scrabble set." <em>&mdash;The Magnetic Fields' <a href="">Stephin Merritt</a> on his recent book, </em>101 Two-Letter Words<em>, illustrated by Roz Chast (see below)</em><br><br> &nbsp;</p> <p><strong>On Professional Sports</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/griner126.jpg"></div> <p>"Short shorts are not for everybody. I'm not trying to wear capris, but I got a lot of leg. I need to cover it up a little bit. They want more male attendance, and for us to change our uniforms to "sleek and sexy" takes away from what we're trying to do on the court. I want you to come watch my game, not the uniforms. If you wanna come just because we look sexy, then I really don't want you there." &mdash;WNBA star <a href="">Britney Griner</a></p> <p>"The NFL is a culture that values secrecy. When you're with an NFL team, the message to you is clear: Don't fuck anything up for your partner, and don't fuck anything up for the team. Don't be controversial. Don't talk to the media. Stay out of the way. Support the player and be quiet." <em>&mdash;<a href="">Tracy Treu</a>, a former NFL wife, on the league's domestic violence problems</em></p> <p><strong>On Crime and Punishment</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/koenig126.jpg"></div> <p>"When you hear about a case&mdash;even if you've attended a trial&mdash;there's a story presented which is a kind of agreed-upon narrative that each side brings&hellip;The thing that hooked me is realizing that the story they're telling at trial is just one layer that's just sitting on top of this whole super-interesting ocean that we don't ever get to hear about." <em>&mdash;</em>This American Life<em> producer <a href="">Sarah Koenig</a>, speaking shortly before the premiere of </em>Serial<em>, her wildly popular podcast</em></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/GOLDWYN126.jpg"></div> <p>"What really interested me was the moral divide in all of us: In trying to do the right thing, where's the line you cross? At what point have you gone irrevocably into moral hazard? Every character in our show, practically, crosses that line." <em>&mdash;</em>Scandal<em> star <a href="">Tony Goldwyn</a> on creating </em>The Divide<em>, a new drama about the death penalty</em></p> <p><strong>On Shooting a Film Over 12 Years</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/linklater126.jpg"></div> <p>"It's such a crazy, wildly impractical idea. The logistics were tough enough that we didn't even talk about doomsday scenarios. We're all just a phone call away from our lives changing pretty enormously, so you kind of play the odds. I remember saying to Patricia [Arquette], 'Where are you going to be 12 years from now, just theoretically?' It wasn't hard to convince an adult to jump in. A kid, they're not even aware what they're getting into." <em>&mdash;<a href="">Richard Linklater</a>, director of</em> Boyhood</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Ellar126.jpg"></div> <p><strong>"</strong>Rick made a conscious decision to not have Mason do anything I hadn't already done. Looking back, I now see that he would feel it out and see, like, 'Is he still a virgin? Has he gotten drunk yet? Has he done drugs?' And then he would throw those things in." <em>&mdash;Actor <a href="">Ellar Coltrane</a>, who was six years old when Linklater cast him as his lead</em></p> <p><strong>On Gun Rights</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/waldman126.jpg"></div> <p>"When you actually go back and look at the debate that went into drafting of the [Second] amendment, you can squint and look really hard, but there's simply no evidence of it being about individual gun ownership for self-protection or for hunting. Emphatically, the focus was on the militias&hellip;Every adult man, and eventually every adult white man, was required to be in the militias and was required to own a gun, and to bring it from home. So it was an individual right to fulfill the duty to serve in the militias." <em>&mdash;<a href="">Michael Waldman</a>, author of </em>The Second Amendment: A Biography</p> <p><strong>On Being a Zombie</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/nicotero126.jpg"></div> <p>"I get email after email, and I get stopped on the street&mdash;which is sort of astounding, considering I'm not an on-camera guy. People will come up and go, 'How do I get to be a zombie on <em>The Walking Dead</em>?' They don't think about the fact that it's 120 degrees outside, and you're going to be sitting in a makeup chair for an hour and a half, and you're going to be sticky and hot, and you're going to work all day, and then at the end of the day we've got to use all the remover. It sounds more glamorous than it is." <em>&mdash;Makeup effects guru <a href="">Greg Nicotero</a></em></p> <p><strong>On Improvisational Performance</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/reggiewatts126.jpg"></div> <p>"I think about the audience. I just want to make sure they're having a good time. I don't want them to think that I'm just going off and not giving a fuck about them. [<em>Laughs</em>.] So there's that." <em>&mdash;Weirdo comedian and musician <a href="">Reggie Watts</a></em><br><br> &nbsp;</p> <p><strong>On Dealing With Aging Parents</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/chast126.jpg"></div> <p>"You didn't throw away jar lids or Band-Aid boxes. There was a drawer of those amber plastic vials, what pills come in&mdash;you might need them for, I don't know, three cotton balls or something. It was borderline hoarding." <em>&mdash;Cartoonist <a href="">Roz Chast</a>, author of the memoir </em>Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?</p> <p><strong>On Pulitzer Prizes</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/mcmurtry126.jpg"></div> <p>"I was teaching in Uvalde, Texas, the day I won. I gave six speeches that day. My friend Susan Freudenheim told me I had won the prize. I was too busy to have much of a reaction to it. I once owned a collection of 77 novels that won the Pulitzer. The only good novel of the bunch was <em>The Grapes of Wrath</em>." <em>&mdash;</em>Lonesome Dove<em> author <a href="">Larry McMurtry</a>, whose latest novel is titled </em>The Last Kind Words Saloon</p> <p><strong>On War</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/klay126.jpg"></div> <p>"I saw Donald Rumsfeld selling a book of leadership tips on <em>Meet the Press</em> and the <em>Today Show</em>, and I was like, 'How is this possible?' I understand why anti-war folk don't like Rumsfeld, but if you were pro-war you <em>really</em> shouldn't like him, because he messed it up and invalidated your whole worldview." <em>&mdash;<a href="">Phil Klay</a>, Iraq War veteran and recent author of </em>Redeployment</p> <p><strong>On Art</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/spiegelman126.jpg"></div> <p>"What I've seen recently is the creative class finding a way, like the rest of the culture, to peddle in capitalist ventures of one kind or another so they can afford to be where they want to be, and it gets harder and harder and harder. The process of gentrification now takes about eight minutes." <em>&mdash;Artist <a href="">Art Spiegelman,</a> who published a major retrospective in 2014</em></p> <p><strong>On Personal Struggles</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/shtyngart126.jpg"></div> <p>"Before [my first] novel, I was dating a woman who later went to prison for bashing a guy with a hammer. And she had another boyfriend! Can you imagine the depths of self-rejection one would have to reach in order to have a relationship like that?" <em>&mdash;Author <a href="">Gary Shteyngart</a>, whose recent memoir is titled Little Failure</em></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/blow126.jpg"></div> <p>"When I won my way to the international science fair, I didn't want to embarrass myself. It was the first time I was going to be away from home, the first time taking an airplane. I went to the local library, checked out every single etiquette book, and I read those books like I was uncovering some sort of treasure. I committed every one of the rules to memory. When somebody puts down four forks on one side and four spoons on the other side, what does that mean? All of a sudden I knew what to do when the food dropped from the table and how to signal that you were finished and how to signal that you wanted coffee&mdash;all these little intricacies that just did not come into our lives because we were poor." <em>&mdash;</em>New York Times <em>columnist <a href="">Charles Blow</a>, whose recent memoir is titled</em> Fire Shut Up In My Bones</p> <p><strong>On Teaching Science</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/nye126.jpg"></div> <p>"A TV show has to be entertainment first, education second. I spend a lot of time with Nobel laureates and a lot of rocket scientists. Being a good teacher is a completely different skill from being a good scientist." <em>&mdash;<a href="">Bill Nye</a> (the Science Guy)</em></p></body></html> Media Interview Books Crime and Justice Film and TV Music Race and Ethnicity Sex and Gender Sports Top Stories Mon, 29 Dec 2014 11:15:07 +0000 Michael Mechanic 267326 at Friends Don't Let Friends Walk Drunk <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/1.7times.png"></div> <p>The champagne's been flowing since noon. You did the <a href="" target="_blank">12 grapes at midnight</a> thing, danced to <a href="" target="_blank">the requisite amount of Beyonc&eacute;</a>, and it's time to collapse. Car keys are off-limits, obviously, but you've heard all those <a href="" target="_blank">Uber holiday pricing horror stories</a>, and the train is bound to be a sweaty shit show. What's more festive than weaving one's merry way home from a New Year's party, right?</p> <p>Not so fast. It turns out New Year's Day is the deadliest day to hoof it home, according to <a href="" target="_blank">a 2005 study by</a> the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety that looked at <a href="" target="_blank">every pedestrian death</a> from traffic collisions between 1986 and 2002. Nearly half of the fatal accidents that occurred on a January 1 took place between midnight and 6 a.m. And on an even more sobering note, 58 percent of pedestrians who died that day were legally drunk, according to their blood alcohol levels at time of death.</p> <p>But maybe people have gotten way better at ambulating under the influence since 2002? I asked the IIHS to crunch the most recent data available from the <a href="" target="_blank">National Highway Traffic Safety Administration</a>. Turns out, not much has changed. Between 2008 and 2012, more pedestrians died in traffic crashes on New Year's Day (and Halloween) than on other days of the year. IIHS also found that 59 percent of pedestrians killed on New Year's Day were drunk, compared to 34 percent of pedestrians in fatal crashes every other day of the year.</p> <p>There's no mystery here: Drunk walkers are much more likely to engage in risky behavior like crossing against a sign, jaywalking, or lying down in the roadway, says Dan Gelinne, a researcher at University of North Carolina's Highway Safety Research Center. "Intoxicated pedestrians frequently cannot fulfill the perceptual, cognitive, and physical skills required to cross safely in the complex traffic patterns seen in most urban cities," wrote New York University School of Medicine researchers in <a href="" target="_blank">a 2012 review paper</a> in the journal <em>Trauma. </em></p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/EveryTwoHours2.png"></div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Half2.png"></div> <p>Of course, NYE teetotalers still have drunk drivers to contend with. In <a href="" target="_blank">nearly half</a> of the traffic crashes that killed pedestrians in 2012, the driver or the walker (or both) had consumed alcohol, according to the NHTSA. But get this: Pedestrians in these crashes were more than <em>twice</em> as likely as drivers to have had a blood alcohol level greater or equal to 0.08 grams/deciliter, or above the legal driving limit&mdash;34 percent of walkers versus 14 percent of the drivers.</p> <p>"Watching a sporting event on TV, you're bound to see at least one ad reminding people not to drive after drinking," says Gelinne. "The risks associated with drinking and walking aren't as clear to the average person." <em>Freakonomics </em>author Steven Levitt compared the risks of drunk driving versus drunk walking in his 2011 book <em>SuperFreakonomics</em>. "You find that on a per-mile basis," h<a href="" target="_blank">e writes</a>, "a drunk walker is <em>eight times more likely</em> to get killed than a drunk driver."</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/BAC2.png"></div> <p>If you're lucky enough to survive the impact, healing from wounds becomes trickier when you have booze in your system. "Alcohol impairs the ability to fight infections, repair wounds, and recover from injuries," says Elizabeth Kovacs, the Director of the Alcohol Research Program at Loyola University's Stritch School of Medicine. Alcohol impairs the white blood cells responsible for clearing out debris and "eating garbage" on skin wounds, she says.</p> <p>If you do miss the last train home and walking becomes unavoidable, try to remember <a href="" target="_blank">these tips</a> from a trauma surgeon: Don't wear dark colors, stay out of the road as much as possible, and walk in a group (ideally with some sober folks sprinkled in).</p> <p>Better street lighting and lower speed limits near popular hangouts would help too, says Gelinne, along with campaigns encouraging bartenders to cut the taps when solo customers start getting sloppy. In San Francisco, the <a href="" target="_blank">Vision Zero campaign</a> aims to eliminate all traffic deaths by 2024 by restructuring high-risk roadways and lowering speed limits. <a href="" target="_blank">Los Angeles and New York have taken similar measures</a>, thanks in part to $1.6 million in grants to promote pedestrian safety from the US Department of Transportation. IIHS's Russ Rader points to new car technology like Subaru's EyeSight camera system, which automatically hits the brakes if it thinks there's a pedestrian in your path, as a good step forward, though a tiny fraction of cars are currently equipped with these features.</p> <p>Bottom line: As you ring in 2015, if you can't call a cab or squeeze onto the subway, your best option is to grab a pillow and stay put. Or reconsider your choice of merriment-enhancement for the night. As it happens, the safest day of the year to walk down the street is 4/20. Make of this what you will.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/NYEHalloween420.png"></div> </div> <p><em>Additional reporting by <a href="" target="_blank">Brett Brownell</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Icons by Luis Prado and Dan McCall from the Noun Project</em>.</p></body></html> Environment Cards Crime and Justice Health Regulatory Affairs Top Stories Mon, 29 Dec 2014 11:00:08 +0000 Maddie Oatman 263146 at 10 New Songs to Get You Through the Long, Cold Winter <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>For an end-of-year playlist, I was tempted to focus on the <a href="" target="_blank">glittering dance tracks</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">hip hop ballads</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">crashing rock numbers</a> that propelled 2014's late-night bar crawls and caffeinated road-trips. Much of the past year's standout music packed momentum and pizzazz; new songs by TV on the Radio, Spoon, Taylor Swift, Run the Jewels, the Black Keys, and St. Vincent come to mind.</p> <p>But for when you're at home during the grayest and shortest days of the year, none of that will do. Here's a playlist for afternoons spent hibernating in sweatpants and flipping through photo albums while the snow piles up outside. The best introverted music of 2014. Songs that pair well with nostalgia, daydreaming, the settling feeling of having nowhere to go but the kitchen for more tea. In the words of Axl Rose (as quoted on featured band Luluc's website): "Said woman, take it slow and things will be just fine."</p> <p>You can also listen to the playlist nonstop via Spotify (embedded at the bottom).</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>1. The Barr Brothers, "Love Ain't Enough"</strong></p> <p>This playful and eclectic Montreal-based <a href="" target="_blank">group</a> experiments with obscure instruments like the African ngoni, dabbles in Delta-inspired blues, and knows how to really bang it out during live shows. But this tender track, with Sarah Page's hypnotic harp and front man Brad Barr's ragged voice laid out bare, is a clear standout on the band's new album <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Sleeping Operator</em></a>.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>2. Brandi Carlile, "The Eye"</strong></p> <p>This song is steeped in regret and remembrance, and it rings with simple and assured harmonies. Singer-songwriter Carlile's forthcoming album <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Firewatcher's Daughter</em></a> is set to land March 3, 2015. "Vulnerability is all over this record," <a href="" target="_blank">she told NPR</a>, and maybe nowhere more than in "The Eye."</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>3. Luluc, "Small Window"</strong></p> <p>Australian duo Luluc has opened for the likes of Lucinda Williams and Fleet Foxes. In this gentle tune, singer Z&ouml;e Randell murmurs of dreamy reflections from an airplane seat. The echoey blend of her voice with partner Steve Hassett's will make you want to float away.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>4. Marissa Nadler, "Drive"</strong></p> <p>Nadler released a burst of new music in 2014: An album <em>July</em>, and then<em> Before July</em>, an EP full of unreleased songs including <a href="" target="_blank">a fresh take</a> on Elliott Smith's "Pitseleh." Like much of her music, something about "Drive" feels haunted&mdash;Nadler's delicate voice and the track's minor chords swirl together and summon dark woods and lonely highways.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>5. James Bay, "Let it Go"</strong></p> <p>Breakout crooner James Bay perfectly evokes the torturous process of untangling from a lover. This song helped make the soulful Bay a Brit Awards Critic Choice Winner of 2015, and all before releasing his full-length debut, <em>Chaos and the Calm</em>, due out in March.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>6. The Staves, "In the Long Run"</strong></p> <p>Combine the sounds of folksy trio <a href="" target="_blank">Mountain Man</a> and the ever deep <a href="" target="_blank">Laura Marling</a> and you get The Staves, a perfect answer to midwinter melancholy. Their angelic voices, flawless picking, and thoughtful harmonies make me want to listen to this bittersweet song on repeat.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>7. Sharon Van Etten, "Our Love"</strong></p> <p>Moody yet transcendent, "Our Love" showcases Van Etten's vocal control. Paired with this steamy video, the tune is the ideal backdrop for an afternoon make-out session.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>8. alt-J, "Warm Foothills"</strong></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">One of the songs</a> off of alt-J's latest album, <em><a href="" target="_blank">This Is All Yours</a>, </em>samples Miley Cyrus, but I prefer the velvety female vocals of Lianne La Havas and Marika Hackman on "Warm Foothills," a song braided together with glimmering guitar, silky violins, and hopeful whistling. The lyrics are full of playful poetry: "Blue dragonfly darts, to and fro, I tie my life to your balloon and let it go."</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>9. Jos&eacute; Gonz&aacute;lez, </strong><strong>"Every Age</strong>"</p> <p>"Some things change, some remain, some will pass us unnoticed by," Gonz&aacute;lez chants in this pulsing paean to life's journey, the first single off of his forthcoming album. "Every Age" is a "beautifully spare, existential meditation," <a href="" target="_blank">writes music critic Robin Hilton</a>.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>10. </strong><strong>J&uacute;n&iacute;us Meyvant, "Color Decay"</strong></p> <p>Icelandic group J&uacute;n&iacute;us Meyvant weaves together deft violin and booming brass to create this plush song, a number deemed the year's best <a href="" target="_blank">by <em>Music That Matters</em> host Kevin Cole</a>.</p> <p><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="380" src="" width="300"></iframe></p></body></html> Mixed Media Music Music Mondays Mon, 29 Dec 2014 11:00:08 +0000 Maddie Oatman 267171 at Texting While Walking Is Obviously Dumb. So Why Can't We Stop Doing It? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Last year, it was reported that a small city in China had created a texting-only lane for pedestrians. The story went viral <a href="" target="_blank">before it was somewhat debunked</a>&mdash;turns out the lane is in a theme park, and it's just 100 feet long&mdash;but there's a reason it got eyeballs: everybody's worried about "texting while walking," and no one knows what to do about it.</p> <p>According to a <a href="" target="_blank">2012 Pew study</a>, most grownups have bumped into stuff while looking at their phones, or been bumped by someone <em>else</em> on <em>their</em> phone. A <a href="" target="_blank">Stony Brook University study</a> in 2012 found that texting walkers were 61 percent more likely to veer off course than undistracted ones, a finding backed up by <a href="" target="_blank">other researchers</a>.</p> <p>Greatest "hits" compilations abound on YouTube. One woman <a href="" target="_blank">tumbled into a mall fountain</a>, another <a href="" target="_blank">off a pier</a>. A man nearly collided <a href="" target="_blank">with a roaming bear</a>. While pride suffered most in those cases, <a href="" target="_blank">more than 1,500 pedestrians</a> landed in emergency rooms due to a cell-phone related distracted walking injury in 2010&mdash;a nearly 500 percent jump since 2005&mdash;according to a recent study from Ohio State University.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe>Jack Nasar, professor of urban planning at Ohio State University and one of the study's co-authors, <a href="" target="_blank">said</a> the real number of injuries could be much, much higher. "Not every pedestrian who gets injured while using a cell phone goes to an emergency room," he told <em>Mother Jones</em>. Some lack health insurance or (erroneously) decide their injuries aren't serious. Others will deny a phone had anything to do with their injury. "People who die from cell-phone distraction also don't show up in the emergency room numbers," says Nasar.</p> <p>Of course, pedestrians aren't the only ones with their noses in their phones. According to a <a href="" target="_blank">2013 University of Nebraska Medical Center study</a>, the rate of pedestrians getting hit by distracted drivers grew by about 45 percent between 2005 and 2010. The good news is that 44 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico <a href="" target="_blank">have banned texting and driving for all drivers</a>, but the bad news is that texting and walking is potentially more dangerous and has proved harder to ban.</p> <p>For one thing, local governments often define "pedestrian" quite broadly. In San Diego, anyone who chooses to "<a href="" target="_blank">walk, sit, [or] stand in public places</a>" is a pedestrian; so would a ban mean no more texting at the bus stop? With the endless variation in how people use their phones, and phone technology changing all the time, it's hard for lawmakers to keep up. And for some politicians, proposed bans raise "<a href="" target="_blank">nanny-state"</a> hackles. Utah State Rep. Craig Frank, a Republican who opposed a ban in Utah in 2012, <a href="" target="_blank">said</a> at the time, "I never thought the government needed to cite me for using my cell phone in a reasonable manner."</p> <p>Statewide bans have failed in <a href="" target="_blank">Arkansas, New York</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Nevada</a>. Some cities have made progress; despite opposition from Frank and others, the Utah Transit Authority imposed a $50 civil fine for distracted walking near trains in 2012&mdash;including phone use&mdash;and it <a href="" target="_blank">seems to be working</a>. Rexburg, Idaho, <a href="" target="_blank">has a ban on texting in crosswalks</a>, and Fort Lee, New Jersey, added distracted walking to its <a href="" target="_blank">finable violations under jaywalking</a>. <a href="" target="_blank">San Francisco</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">Oregon</a> are using public awareness campaigns to get the word out. And some advocacy groups have created their own PSAs, like this highly dramatic one from AAA's Operation Click road-safety campaign:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Melodrama aside, the video raises the obvious question: is it really that hard for pedestrians to police themselves? A <a href="" target="_blank">July 2014 experiment by National Geographic</a> in Washington, D.C. set up a texting-only lane at <a href="" target="_blank">a busy DC intersection</a>, but found that most people just ignored the markings. And there's the rub: If walking and texting is inherently distracting, would people even notice a cell-phone-only lane, or other environmental cues? "I think there is good evidence out there that [engaging a phone after a ring or vibration] is a trained and conditioned response," says Dr. Beth Ebel, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington. She <a href="" target="_blank">co-authored a study in 2012</a> that found that people texting and walking were four times less likely to look before crossing a street, or obey traffic signals or cross at the appropriate place in the road. "This compulsive nature applies to all of us," she says.</p> <p>Maybe the answer lies in the phones. An app called <a href="" target="_blank">Type n Walk</a> lets you text while the phone's camera shows you what's in front of the phone (but doesn't work with Apple's iMessage). Another app in the works is <a href="" target="_blank">Audio Aware</a>, which interrupts your music if it hears screeching tires, a siren, or other street sounds. <a href="" target="_blank">Then there's CrashAlert</a>, a proof-of-concept developed by researchers at the University of Manitoba in 2012, which would use the front-facing camera on your phone to scan for obstacles in your path (but isn't currently in development). It's too soon to say whether these apps will take off, or how well they'd work.</p> <p>For the time being, Ebel isn't advocating we abandon our phones&mdash;"We don't have to go backwards. I love my phone."&mdash;but that at the very least we have honest conversations with ourselves about our phone use and the risks we're taking. As for critics who fly the "nanny state" banner whenever texting-and-walking bans come up, Ebel says they're downplaying the danger. "From a law enforcement perspective, this is a form of impairment. It needs to be treated as such."</p> <p><em>Additional reporting by Maddie Oatman and Brett Brownell.</em></p></body></html> Environment Charts Health Top Stories Mon, 29 Dec 2014 11:00:07 +0000 AJ Vicens 262436 at Millennials and Comic Books: Chill Out, Haters <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Saul DeGrew surveys the various complaints people have about the Millennial generation. <a href="" target="_blank">Here's one:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Another part of the Millennial complaint brigade is complaining about how they are still into videogames, comic books, and other activities from their childhood....I admit that I find this aspect of the Millennials staying Kids debate to be a bit troublesome <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_adventure_379.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">but that is probably my own snobbery and cultural elitism coming in more than anything else. I don&rsquo;t quite understand how explosion and bang wow movies are still big among a good chunk of the over-30 set.</p> </blockquote> <p>Forget videogames: that's a huge industry that spans all generations these days. Their popularity says nothing about arrested adulthood. But I was curious: just how many Millennials are still reading comic books? Not just "interested" in comics or willing to see the latest X-Men movie. DeGrew may not like "bang wow" movies, but they've been a pretty standard part of Hollywood's product mix forever, and the current fad for superhero bang wow movies doesn't say much of anything about Millennial culture in particular.</p> <p>So: how many actual readers <em>of comic books</em> are there among Millennials? I don't know, but here's a guess:</p> <ol><li>Diamond Comic Distributors sold about <a href="" target="_blank">84 million comics in 2013.</a> Diamond is damn near a monopoly, but it's not a total monopoly, and that number is only for the top 300 titles anyway. So let's round up to 100 million.</li> <li>That's about 8 million per month. Some comic fans buy two or three titles a month, others buy 20 or 30. A horseback guess suggests that the average fan buys 5-10 per month.</li> <li>That's maybe 1.5 million regular fans, give or take. If we figure that two-thirds are Millennials, that's a million readers.</li> <li><a href="" target="_blank">The total size of the Millennial generation is 70 million.</a> But let's be generous and assume that no one cares if teenagers and college kids are still reading comics. Counting only those over 22, the adult Millennial population is about 48 million.</li> <li>So that means about 2 percent of adult Millennials are regular comic book readers. (If you just browse through your roomie's stash sporadically without actually buying comics, you don't count.)</li> </ol><p>I dunno. I'd say that 2 percent really isn't much. Sure, superheroes pervade popular culture in a way they haven't before, though they've always been popular. Adults watched Superman on TV in the 50s, Batman on TV in 60s, and Superman again on the big screen in the 80s. But the rise of superhero movies in the 90s and aughts has as much to do with the evolution of special effects as with superheroes themselves. Older productions couldn't help but look cheesy. Modern movies actually make superheroes look believable. Science fiction movies have benefited in the same way.</p> <p>In any case, superheroes may be a cultural phenomenon of the moment&mdash;just ask anyone who tries to brave the San Diego Comic-Con these days&mdash;but even if you accept the argument that reading comics is ipso facto a marker of delayed adulthood<sup>1</sup>, the actual number of Millennials who do this is pretty small. So chill out on the comics, Millennial haters.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>I don't. I'm just saying that even if you do, there aren't really a huge number of Millennial-aged comic fans anyway.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Books Sun, 28 Dec 2014 18:44:22 +0000 Kevin Drum 267341 at Cuomo and Christie Veto Port Authority Reform Bill. But Is It Permanent? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I'm as distant from the politics of New York and New Jersey as it's possible to get, but I'm puzzled about today's news that the governors of both states have vetoed legislation that would have reformed the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. <a href="" target="_blank">Here's a typical piece from the <em>New York Daily News</em>:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Rather than sign the bill supporters say would have opened the bi-state agency to much needed transparency and accountability, the two governors crossed party lines to announce they would push a reform package <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_george_washington_bridge.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">recommended Saturday by a panel they had created earlier this year.</p> <p>....The bill's Assembly sponsor James Brennan (D-Brooklyn) and other critics argued <strong>there was no justification for the veto of legislation passed unanimously by the legislatures in both states.</strong></p> <p>Some, like former Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, a Westchester Democrat who in 2009 sponsored a public authorities reform bill that did not cover the Port Authority, suggested Cuomo, a Democrat, and Christie, a Republican, were more interested in protecting their own power than actually reforming the agency. "It's shameful," Brodsky said. "They ripped the heart out of real reform in order to maintain their control and power."</p> <p>....New Jersey Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto said the vetoes were a slap in the face to commuters who "rightly expected more from the governors after the revelations at the Port Authority over the last year."...Cuomo and Christie say the reforms they are recommending embrace "the spirit and intent" of the legislation....But critics suggest the recommendations were meant as a smokescreen to distract from the vetoes. "Power trumped good government," Brodsky said.</p> </blockquote> <p>Wait a second. The bills were passed unanimously in both legislatures. It should be a snap to override the vetoes, right? And yet, none of the stories I read so much as mentioned the possibility. The best I could find was the <a href="" target="_blank">last sentence of an AP dispatch:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>New Jersey Sen. Loretta Weinberg said the decision was a "cop-out," and Assemblyman John Wisniewski said he's disappointed the bill didn't become law.....Both Weinberg and Wisniewski predicted that overturning a veto would be difficult.</p> </blockquote> <p>Can someone fill me in on the inner workings of New York and New Jersey politics? Do legislators' loyalties to their governors really carry that much weight? I mean, everyone knew Cuomo and Christie were opposed to the bill from the start. So if the legislatures passed it unanimously to begin with, why can't they now muster a two-thirds vote to override? What am I missing here?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Regulatory Affairs Sun, 28 Dec 2014 15:57:42 +0000 Kevin Drum 267336 at How About If We All Get Back to Protecting and Serving? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>My neighboring city of Costa Mesa may be thousands of miles from New York and much, much smaller (population: 112,000), but they have something in common: police unions that don't seem to know <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_costa_mesa_police_patch.jpg" style="margin: 29px 0px 15px 30px;">when to quit. <a href=",0,2374283.story" target="_blank">Check this out:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>An Orange County Superior Court judge on Wednesday ordered a private investigator to stay away from two Costa Mesa councilmen he allegedly helped surveil in the run-up to local 2012 elections.</p> <p>....The false-imprisonment charge relates to the filing of a police report that caused Councilman Jim Righeimer to be detained briefly when an officer responded to his home to perform a sobriety test, according to prosecutors....[Scott Impola 's firm] was retained by the Costa Mesa Police Assn. to surveil and research local councilmen who were trying to cut pension costs and reduce jobs at City Hall, according to the Orange County district attorney's office.</p> <p>As part of their work, Impola and private investigator Chris Lanzillo allegedly put a GPS tracker on Councilman Steve Mensinger's car and later called in a false DUI report on Righeimer as he was leaving Skosh Monahan's, a restaurant owned by fellow Councilman Gary Monahan.</p> <p><strong>....Prosecutors say they have no evidence that the police union knew of any illegal activity beforehand.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Well, yeah. No evidence. <a href=",0,2954959,full.story" target="_blank">But there <em>is</em> this:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Costa Mesa police officers mocked members of the City Council and suggested ways to catch them in compromising positions in the run-up to the 2012 municipal election, according to emails contained in court documents reviewed Monday by the <em>Daily Pilot</em>.</p> <p>.... In one message, the association's then-treasurer, Mitch Johnson, suggested telling the union's lawyer about two of the councilmen's upcoming city-sponsored trip to Las Vegas...."I'm sure they will be dealing with other 'developer' friends, maybe a Brown Act [violation] or two, and I think [Steve Mensinger is] a doper and has moral issues," Johnson wrote in an email from a private account. "I could totally see him sniffing coke [off] a prostitute. <strong>Just a thought.</strong>"</p> </blockquote> <p>Yes. "Just a thought." I have a feeling that maybe the GPS and DUI revelations didn't come as a big shock or anything when the union was confronted with them. There's also this:</p> <blockquote> <p>The association's president at the time, Jason Chamness, told the grand jury that he asked the law firm to dig up dirt on certain City Council members because he believed they were corrupt. Shortly after the DUI report involving Righeimer, the union fired the law firm, although the affidavit notes the union continued to pay a retainer until as recently as January 2013.</p> <p><strong>During his testimony, Chamness also said he deleted emails from his private account, which he used to contact the law firm about union business.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>And why did the police union hire these two goons? Because the city councilmen in question were trying to cut pension costs and reduce jobs at City Hall. How dare they?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sun, 28 Dec 2014 00:39:05 +0000 Kevin Drum 267331 at Quote of the Day: Hooray For Nerdy Details! <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">From Ben Goldacre,</a> author of <em>I Think You'll Find it's a Bit More Complicated Than That,</em> a physician and author who debunks health fads and can be thought of as sort of an anti-Dr. Oz:</p> <blockquote> <p>I think the public want nerdy details more than many in the media realize.</p> </blockquote> <p>Preach it brother! Interviewer Julia Belluz asked Goldacre if he'd seen any progress over the past decade, and I found his answer pretty interesting:</p> <blockquote> <p>I think the really big change has been the Internet. What was really frustrating when I first started writing [in the <em>Guardian</em> in 2003] was you would see mainstream media journalists and dodgy doctors and scientists speaking with great authority and hopelessly distorting research in a way that was dangerous and scaremongering. <strong>There was no way to talk back.</strong></p> <p>When I started writing the column I felt like I was talking back on behalf of this enormous crowd of disenfranchised nerds and nerdy doctors. Now with blogs, Twitter, and comments under articles, what you can see is everybody can talk back. On top of that, not only can people more easily find a platform to put things right when they&rsquo;re wrong and also explain how they&rsquo;re wrong and how to understand science better, but also anybody who is interested in something, who is sufficiently motivated and clueful, can go out and find out about it online. That&rsquo;s an amazing thing. It wasn&rsquo;t the case ten to 15 years ago. <strong>People now are now much more empowered to fight back against stupid stuff, and to read about interesting stuff.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Given that Dr. Oz and his ilk seem to be at least as popular as ever, I guess I'm not quite as optimistic as Goldacre. The problem is that the internet does help people who are "sufficiently motivated and clueful," but that's never been a big part of the population. And sadly, the internet is probably as bad or worse than Dr. Oz for all the people who don't know how to do even basic searches and don't have either the background or the savvy to distinguish between good advice and hogwash. Regular readers will recognize this as a version of <a href="" target="_blank">my theory</a> that "the internet is now a major driver of the growth of cognitive inequality." Or in simpler terms, "the internet makes dumb people dumber and smart people smarter."</p> <p>In fairness, the rest of the interview suggests that Goldacre is pretty well aware that the impact of his writing is fairly limited ("I don&rsquo;t think you can reason people out of positions they didn&rsquo;t reason themselves into"), and he shows a nuanced appreciation of exactly when his writing might influence a conversation here and there. The whole thing is a good read.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Science Sat, 27 Dec 2014 19:22:00 +0000 Kevin Drum 267321 at