The Horserace Homestretch

Oct 31 2014 @ 1:31pm

Senate Seats

Nate Silver calculates that the “GOP’s chances of winning the Senate are 68.5 percent”:

Which states to watch over this final weekend? I’d point to three: Alaska, Iowa and Kansas. Any polling at all in Alaska would be helpful. Iowa, depending on the final few polls there, could wind up anywhere from a true tossup to a case more like Colorado. In Kansas, Roberts’s position is improved from a few weeks ago, but it isn’t clear whether he’s gaining ground or has stalled out. In most of the other states, the possibility of a runoff limits how much the polls can tell us, or we have so much polling that no one further poll is going to move the needle that much.

Nate Cohn examines early voting numbers. He finds that “Democratic efforts to turn out the young and nonwhite voters who sat out the 2010 midterm elections appear to be paying off in several Senate battleground states”:

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The CIA’s New BFF

Oct 31 2014 @ 1:16pm

John Hudson explains what a GOP Senate might mean for the torture report:

If the Nov. 4 elections deliver a GOP-controlled Senate, the chairmanship of the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee is likely to go to a North Carolinian whose unwavering support for the CIA and NSA could radically transform the committee’s oversight agenda.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), an outspoken defender of enhanced interrogation techniques and broad government surveillance powers, is next in line for the chairmanship. Unlike the current Democratic head of the committee, Dianne Feinstein of California, Burr has been harshly critical of a yet-to-be-released report on the Bush administration’s post-9/11 torture practices — a view shared by many in the agency.

And although Burr’s views about NSA data collection largely mirror Feinstein’s, his distaste for publicity and devotion to secrecy could fundamentally alter the way the committee operates on a day-to-day basis.

Clashes In East Jerusalem After Israeli Activist Shooting

For the first time in 14 years, Israeli authorities yesterday closed off the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary in the Old City of Jerusalem and prevented men under 50 from praying there this morning, out of fear of escalating tensions in the city amid whispers of a third intifada:

Palestinian leaders had called for a “day of rage” because of the closing on Thursday and the killing by Israeli forces of a Palestinian man suspected in the assassination attempt Wednesday night against Yehuda Glick. Mr. Glick is a right-wing activist who promoted increased Jewish access and prayer at the site, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. By midafternoon, Israel Radio reported that there were “riots” at several locations in the occupied West Bank, including Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem and the often-tense city of Hebron.

The situation remained mostly calm today but tensions remain high, and the situation could get worse before it gets better. Daniel Gordis describes the Israeli public’s reaction to the attempt on Glick’s life and the killing of the alleged shooter:

“How had he been found so quickly?” people wondered.

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Why Sponsored Content Will Win

Oct 31 2014 @ 12:28pm

Because journalists will make far more money from it than the old, ethical variety. Because no one has come up with a business model that can compete with it for moolah. And, above all, because readers don’t really give a shit:

If people are offended by content marketing, why would a single Purina brand, Beggin’ Strips, have nearly 1.2 million Facebook fans, as Michael Meyer reports in his provocative piece on the subject, when Purina’s hometown paper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, can boast a relatively modest 120,000 fans? What’s more, some of the larger corporate newsrooms are producing exponentially more content each day than traditional news outlets.

That doesn’t mean this content is all good, or accurate, or honorable in its alleged attempt to serve its audience. But then again, plenty of work coming out of actual newsrooms doesn’t meet that standard either.

Catching Catcalls On Camera, Ctd

Oct 31 2014 @ 12:09pm

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Many more readers have their say on the controversial video:

You know, I wish this could be supplemented by videos of what it’s like for women to walk down the street who don’t conform to “pretty” norms. Quite frankly, plain women, or ones not compliant with “available chick” visual norms, get just as many cat calls – often more aggressive because “ugly women should be both available and grateful for the attention” and have added in an equal or greater load of criticisms. Dog barks, bitter comments about how ugly they are, suggestions where they should go and what they should do – many obscene, and many suggesting that a man approaching them would be doing them a favor screwing them or letting them go down on the idiots.

If you’re beautiful, it’s bad. If you’re NOT beautiful, it’s hell: all the come-ons, then a layer of vicious critique, all of it from sulky men insisting on their entitlement to women: their bodies, their attention, their sexual favors, even the right to insist on the “right” appearance. Jeez-Louise, it gets old.

Another references the above image:

The reader who wrote “It all smacks of white privilege to me” might be interested in Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s art project “Stop Telling Women To Smile.” Would that reader tell her portrait subjects (who are largely women of color) that they’re in neighborhoods where they don’t understand the social mores?

Much more commentary below:

I think a very important point has been missed, thus far, in the discussion of the catcall video.

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Trick Or Brand-Name Treat

Oct 31 2014 @ 11:51am

But first, a Halloween movie mashup to get you in the spirit:

Samira Kawash details the rise of Halloween candy:

Would you believe the earliest trick-or-treaters didn’t even expect to get candy? Back in the 1930s, when kids first started chanting “trick or treat” at the doorbell, the treat could be just about anything: nuts, coins, a small toy, a cookie or popcorn ball. Sometimes candy too, maybe a few jelly beans or a licorice stick. But it wasn’t until well into the 1950s that Americans started buying treats instead of making them, and the easiest treat to buy was candy. The candy industry also advertised heavily, and by the 1960s was offering innovative packaging and sizes like mini-bars to make it even easier to give out candy at Halloween. But if you look at candy trade discussions about holiday marketing in the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween doesn’t even get a mention.

She elaborates on another reason for the rise of branded sweets:

One of the biggest casualties of the poison treats scares of the 1970s was homemade sweets.

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Native Dress

Oct 31 2014 @ 11:35am

Lauren Sherman checks in on the place of sponsored content in fashion blogging:

[W]hile fashion has been slow to adapt digitally in so many ways, it was one of the first group of marketers to embrace native advertising. When fashion bloggers emerged in the mid-2000s as the new influencers, brands developed “gifting” programs to seed their products. A handbag line, for instance, would send a top 10 blogger the latest style in hopes that she might write about it, or post a photo of it on her blog with a link back to the brand’s e-commerce site. It wasn’t so different than the business of celebrity placements, when brands give a star a pair of jeans or a leather jacket in hopes that she’ll wear it in a well-publicized paparazzi photo.

However, as blogs transformed from diaries to media properties, bloggers began asking for more.

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Mandatory Vacations?

Oct 31 2014 @ 11:10am

Megan McArdle proclaims that employers “shouldn’t just give their employees vacation days; they should force them to actually leave the office and go on vacation”:

I don’t really need to extol the benefits to an employee of a few days off, but I will say that everyone needs to take a break. Over time I’ve noticed that if I go too long between holidays — more than about three months — I start to feel like I’m forcing it, plodding through the day’s stories rather than actually attacking something I’m interested in. That’s a pretty common experience among the people I know. Periodically, you have to stop and give the well a chance to refill. I don’t think it’s an accident that creative people frequently report having breakthroughs after they’d stopped working for a bit and started thinking about something else.

She insists that “even the most upstanding, outstanding employee should not be so vital to your firm’s operations that you cannot afford to let them go for a week or two”:

What if this person leaves the firm? What if they are killed in a car crash? Periodically preparing to do without this person means that if and when they do depart, you will not be plunged into an instant crisis.

The Business Of Coming Out

Oct 31 2014 @ 10:47am

Apple Unveils iPhone 6

Apple CEO Tim Cook officially exited the closet yesterday:

For years, I’ve been open with many people about my sexual orientation. Plenty of colleagues at Apple know I’m gay, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference in the way they treat me. Of course, I’ve had the good fortune to work at a company that loves creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences. Not everyone is so lucky.

While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now. So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.

Leonid Bershidsky points out that “Cook is the first chief executive of a Fortune 500 company to come out in public”:

Members of this exclusive club are still unsure whether that’s wise, and just a few years ago, it wasn’t. In 2007, John Browne resigned as chief executive of BP after being outed by a British tabloid. He has since written a book about being a closeted gay in big business. “To a headhunter I would have been seen as ‘controversial,’ too hot to handle,” Browne wrote. “Sadly, there were some people, mostly from the business world, who never again displayed any warmth to me.”

Browne regretted choosing to live a double life rather than setting himself up as a role model for other gay executives — something Cook has done now with his candid, touching essay. Still, he had strong motives for staying in the closet — stronger ones than an inclination toward privacy, which Cook, no publicity hound either, has successfully overcome. As head of a large corporation, one has to deal with important people from cultures where homophobia is a way of life. Under Browne, BP had a major joint venture in Russia, where President Vladimir Putin has approved laws against the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientation.”

Along those lines, one Russian lawmaker has already proposed banning Cook from the country. And Chinese social media users widely ridiculed the announcement:

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Colorado’s Black-Market Cannabis

Oct 31 2014 @ 10:24am

Jacob Sullum reports on its persistence:

“The black-market prices are definitely lower than recreational prices,” says Michael Elliott, executive director of Colorado’s Marijuana Industry Group. “The taxes are a big reason why, the new testing requirements, the packaging requirements, and basically this whole hurdle of the extraordinary expenses people have had to go through to open these businesses. Another reason is that the businesses have had limited supply.”

But, as prices fall, the black-market is going to shrink:

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