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gennaio 2011

dicembre 2010

Snow is to a mayor as foreign policy is to a president

E pare che per Michael Bloomberg la tempesta  di Natale  sia stata l'equivalente della Baia dei porci. Anche se, nota Nate Silver, qualche piccola scusante il sindaco di New York ce l'ha (tipo il fatto che a Natale pochi hanno voglia di lavorare).

This week’s storm wasn’t as much of a surprise. But — and this is just a guess — perhaps the fact that the forecast worsened significantly on Christmas Day, the very last day that most people want to think about disaster planning, contributed to a sluggish response. Then, when the snowfall began falling late on Sunday morning, it was fairly light at first — perhaps providing for some false sense of security — but it became quite severe quite quickly, and the accumulation was fairly rapid even by the standards of a blizzard. No, this is not an excuse: mistakes were made during the Bloomberg Blizzard, and they had serious consequences. But the nature of a winter storm is such that small mistakes can compound into large ones rather easily; being slightly tardy in the first few hours might eventually translate into an extra day or two before the city digs itself out. And it may be much longer than that before Mr. Bloomberg entirely repairs his reputation.

FiveThirtyEight (New York Times)


Kodachrome: this is the end

Oggi - a Parson, in Kansas - viene rottamata l'ultima macchina per sviluppare il Kodachrome.

In the last weeks, dozens of visitors and thousands of overnight packages have raced here, transforming this small prairie-bound city not far from the Oklahoma border for a brief time into a center of nostalgia for the days when photographs appeared not in the sterile frame of a computer screen or in a pack of flimsy prints from the local drugstore but in the warm glow of a projector pulling an image from a carousel of vivid slides. In the span of minutes this week, two such visitors arrived. The first was a railroad worker who had driven from Arkansas to pick up 1,580 rolls of film that he had just paid $15,798 to develop. The second was an artist who had driven directly here after flying from London to Wichita, Kan., on her first trip to the United States to turn in three rolls of film and shoot five more before the processing deadline.

Io  - che ho passato la mia adolescenza spendendo i pochi soldi che avevo per scattare diapo al mondo  (solo Kodachrome 25 per il 35 mm. L'Ekta 64 lo usavo, in mancanza di meglio,   per  il 6X6) sono piuttosto triste.

New York Times

Charlie Wilson's War (la storia vista dall'FBI)

Quelli di TPM sono riusciti a ottenere - grazie al Freedom of Information Act - le carte dell'FBI su Charlie Wilson. Morale: il personaggio creato da Aaron Sorkin è molto più interessante.

One of the most memorable scenes in "Charlie Wilson's War" features Hanks' Wilson in a hot tub in Las Vegas in the summer of 1980 with two showgirls wearing only high heels. The movie and the book it was based on claim that federal prosecutors spend weeks trying to reconstruct what the congressman did in the Fantasy Suite of Caesar's Palace that night and whether or not any white powder ended up in Wilson's nasal cavity. The criminal probe into drug use on Capitol Hill was led by then-federal prosecutor Rudolph Giuliani. "The Feds spent a million bucks trying to figure out whether, when those fingernails passed under my nose, did I inhale or exhale and I ain't telling," Wilson recalled in the book. But according to FBI records, Giuliani didn't bring the bureau into the loop: there's no record of such a probe in Wilson's FBI file. There's also nothing in the FBI's file about Wilson's work with the CIA to supply the resistance in Afghanistan. Before his death, Wilson said that President Barack Obama was in a "very tough situation" in Afghanistan and recommended he "make a calculated withdrawal."


Net neutrality e convergenza

Secondo Holman W. Jenkins jr. il principio della net neutrality è superato. Il problema ora  - secondo lui - è la guerra per far passare contenuti video nel cavo. E per quello ci sarà bisogno di competizione, prezzi e mercato.

OK, the Internet probably won't collapse, but we're already seeing worrisome signs. In-Stat, the data firm, predicts 2011 will be a year of "sticker shock" for broadband users. Netflix, the video-streaming darling, has seen its stock dinged by fears of higher bandwidth bills. Hard to envision is how the cloud's promise will be fulfilled without a dramatic shakeup in the way broadband is priced and prioritized (i.e., forget net neut). Luckily we have an alternative principle, called a "competitive marketplace," which has already shown its bona fides in practice. The evidence is precisely that meager handful of incidents that make up the usual net neut indictment.

Wall Street Journal

Lo sdoganamento dell'infotainment

Jon Stewart come Ed Murrow e Walter Cronkite, almeno per il suo ruolo nel far passare la legge che aiuta le vittime dell'11 settembre? Lo sostiene il New York Times che lo fa dire a Robert J. Thompson, un professore di "Television" alla Syracuse University.

Though the scale of the impact of Mr. Stewart’s telecast on public policy may not measure up to the roles that Mr. Murrow and Mr. Cronkite played, Mr. Thompson said, the comparison is legitimate because the law almost surely would not have moved forward without him. “He so pithily articulated the argument that once it was made, it was really hard to do anything else,” Mr. Thompson said.

New York Times

Legge della presenza catodica

Il numero delle apparizioni del simulacro della cara mummia - the artist formely known as Cavaliere - sulle sei reti RaiSet è direttamente proporzionale all'avvicinarsi delle elezioni politiche. Quindi si vota a marzo. Anzi, tenuto conto delle frequenze di questa settimana, a metà febbraio.


Pecunia non olet

Ora si scopre che pure gli States facevano affari con gli Ayatollah e con gli altri paesi in lista nera. D'altronde negare la cingomma ai poveri iraniani è comunque contrario alla convenzione di Ginevra, comma masticatori.

At the behest of a host of companies — from Kraft Food and Pepsi to some of the nation’s largest banks — a little-known office of the Treasury Department has made nearly 10,000 exceptions to American sanctions rules, approving deals involving countries that have been cast into economic purgatory, beyond the reach of American business. Most of the licenses were approved under a decade-old law exempting agricultural and medical humanitarian aid from sanctions. But the law, pushed by the farm lobby and other industry groups, was written so broadly that allowable humanitarian aid has included cigarettes, Wrigley gum, Louisiana hot sauce, weight-loss remedies, body-building supplements and sports rehabilitation equipment sold to the institute that trains Iran’s Olympic athletes.

New York Times

So what?

La tremenda redistribuzione dei voti elettorali dovuta al nuovo censimento Usa cambierà poco o nulla. Parola di Nate Silver.

Consider this: under the new electoral college allocation that will go into effect in 2012, the outcome of every presidential election in the past century would have been the same had the new numbers been used.

FiveThirtyEight (New York Times)