A new study unveiled by The Library of Congress notes that a scant 14 percent of the feature films produced and distributed in the U.S. from 1912-29 exist in their original 35mm format. That’s only 1,575 of the 11,000 or so features made during this nascent era of cinema, according to “The Survival of American Silent Feature Films: 1912-1929,” the first comprehensive report of its kind. Meanwhile, 5 percent (or 562 films) of those that have survived in their original 35mm format are incomplete, and 11 percent of the films that are complete (1,174) only exist as foreign versions or in lower-quality formats.
As Katey Rich puts it, “early film history was basically a perfect storm for terrible preservation practices”:
The UN launched its first drones on Tuesday to aid in surveillance as part of its peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Allen McDuffee covers on the development:
“It is another validator of the new ‘normal’ of this technology and its use,” said Peter Singer, director of the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at the Brookings Institution. ”Some 87 countries are using military robotics of some sort, so why should we be stunned that the organization they are members of and supply its forces would use them too?”
“Drones are a technology that are here to stay,” said Singer. “There are so many ‘debates’ now where the people call themselves ‘pro’ or ‘anti’ drone, which is like being pro or anti computers, quaint but irrelevant. Its all about how you use the technology, not the widget itself.”
The drones are unarmed, but Adam Clark Estes calls the move “a bit of an about face”:
Brian Anderson investigates the energy and environmental costs of commercial pot grows. He flags a 2011 study (pdf) by researcher Evan Mills:
Mills looked at energy consumption within the cannabis industry, and found that indoor pot production uses about $6 billion worth of energy annually, or enough electricity to power two million average-sized homes. That accounts for one percent of total national energy usage, and spews as much greenhouse gases as three million cars.
A DNA analysis of a 400,000-year-old femur from the Sima de los Huesos excavation site in northern Spain revealed an evolutionary surprise. Carl Zimmer explains (NYT) :
In a paper in the journal Nature, scientists reported Wednesday that they had retrieved ancient human DNA from a fossil dating back about 400,000 years, shattering the previous record of 100,000 years. The fossil, a thigh bone found in Spain, had previously seemed to many experts to belong to a forerunner of Neanderthals. But its DNA tells a very different story. It most closely resembles DNA from an enigmatic lineage of humans known as Denisovans. Until now, Denisovans were known only from DNA retrieved from 80,000-year-old remains in Siberia, 4,000 miles east of where the new DNA was found. The mismatch between the anatomical and genetic evidence surprised the scientists, who are now rethinking human evolution over the past few hundred thousand years.
There’s evidence that FDA-approved diet drugs actually work, so why don’t physicians prescribe them very often? The answer may have to do with our complicated views about obesity:
Obesity is potentially, in part, a neurological disease. Jeffrey Flier, an endocrinologist and dean of Harvard Medical School, has shown, like others, that repeatedly eating more calories than you burn can damage the hypothalamus, an area of the brain involved in eating and satiety. In other words, Big Gulps, Cinnabons, and Whoppers have altered our brains such that many people—particularly those with a genetic predisposition to obesity—find fattening foods all but impossible to resist once they’ve eaten enough of them. Louis J. Aronne, director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Program at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, explained to me, “With so much calorie-dense food available, the hypothalamic neurons get overloaded and the brain can’t tell how much body fat is already stored. The response is to try to store more fat. So there’s very strong scientific evidence that obesity is not about people lacking willpower.”
But this message has not found its way into society, where obese people are still often considered self-indulgent and lazy, and face widespread discrimination.
“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison,” – Nelson Mandela, proof that the final form of love is forgiveness.
It is rare that one soul can impact all of ours – and make us more patient, more powerful and more human. Mandela was such a soul. And he will never leave us.
Update from a reader:
Nelson Mandela is the greatest public figure of my lifetime – greater than FDR, Churchill, JFK, Popes John XXIII and John Paul II. Upon hearing of Mandela’s death my memory instantly went to his speech to the Irish Parliament and subsequently to the Irish people whose history is also filled with oppression and sadness:
It could have been that our own hearts turned to stone. It could have been that we inscribed vengeance on our banners of battle and resolved to meet brutality with brutality. But we understood that oppression dehumanizes the oppressor as it hurts the oppressed. We understood that to emulate the barbarity of the tyrant would also transform us into savages. We knew that we would sully and degrade our cause if we allowed that it should, at any stage, borrow anything from the practices of the oppressor.
Words every leader should contemplate.
(Photo, with the original caption: Nelson Mandela (3rd From Right), Leader Of The African National Congress And Other Militants Charged With Treason By The South-African Union Walked To The Room Where Their Trial Was Being Held In 1956. By Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images.)
Polarization is important but I would argue that it should take a back seat to another explanation: inter-chamber disagreement. Research has shown that House and Senate ideological differences are probably the most important indicators of gridlock. Even in instances of unified congressional control policy differences between the chambers can significant increase gridlock. In Binder’s book, Stalemate, she illustrates that bipartisan context is the largest substantive indicator of gridlock and productivity – outperforming both polarization and traditional divided government. The further the chambers are from one another, the more difficult it is for Congress to pass bills.
I saw your sharpwords about TNR’s Israel coverage. Without getting into the substance of those pieces, I have to disagree with the idea that there’s some monolithic TNR take on the region. In general, the magazine has downplayed the notion of an editorial line – far fewer opinion pieces in print – and among the diversity of voices TNR runs online are a bunch that never ran under the previous ownership. On Tuesday, this piece attacked the neocons and Netanyahu over the inaccurate, knee-jerk evocations of Munich following the Iran deal (and every other recent foreign-policy development). And last week, before those pieces you didn’t like, TNR had this and this. There’s more, but you get my drift.
None of this means you have to like – or even refrain from dissing! – any of the stories you cited. But I don’t think it’s fair to call the mag one sided anymore.
It’s certainly good to have John Judis in the mix. Another reader:
If your husband were running for Congress in New York, would you confront Israel in your magazine? What better way to get a solid commitment from Schumer to help your husband’s campaign than to run a puff piece on him in your magazine? And it is a puff piece.
Lawmakers held a free-ranging and sometimes bewilderment-inducing hearing Wednesday on the search for extraterrestrial life, gradually working around to the question of whether humans are alone in the universe. At the end of the 90-minute session, that issue remained unresolved. Called “Astrobiology: The Search for Biosignatures in Our Solar System and Beyond,” the House Science Committee’s hearing featured three PhD-credentialed witnesses who are prominent in a scientific field that once was considered speculative.
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), House Chair of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, has no tolerance for climate change science but he is willing to talk about aliens. … One day before discussing extraterrestrials, Smith blasted the Environmental Protection Agency’s rules for carbon pollution from new power plants for lacking scientific grounds. In a letter to the EPA, Smith wrote that the proposed standards are “based more on partisan politics than sound science.”
Still, George Dvorksy describes the hearing as “refreshingly pro-science,” while Alex Rogers notes that “rarely in this Congress are there moments of childlike wonder, and members seemed to enjoy the break from partisan sniping.” Meanwhile, committee chair Lamar Smith noted that space exploration “attracts bipartisan interest and bipartisan support,” leading Tom McCarthy to dub outer space “the ultimate purple state.” Abby Ohlheiser defended the hearing as “the best thing Congress has done in months”:
Spurred by this post, a reader shares a curious connection:
In 2000, I quit my pack-and-a-half-a-day habit. In 2004, I was knocked to my knees by a sudden onset of ulcerative colitis, a particularly sanguinary bowel condition that, at its peak, involved up to 20 trips to the bathroom a day and the occasional change of underwear. The very expensive medication I was given seemed to be doing the trick and the tumult in my gut stabilized to normalcy. I also started smoking again.
Last year I decided to quit smoking again, as a gift to myself and to my girlfriend. Within a month – and after 8 years of remission – the colitis returned, as bloody and disruptive as ever. I went to see a gastroenterologist and, during the course of the appointment, off-handedly remarked that I had quit smoking. He looked at me and said, “Oh. That’s why your colitis is back.”
[Emily] Baxter’s new project “We Are All Criminals” examines the illegal activities committed by people without a criminal record. In Minnesota, one out of four residents has a criminal record, but Baxter’s project, she says on her website, is about the 75 percent that “got away, and how very different their lives may have been had they been caught.” By emphasizing the crimes of the unconvicted, Baxter blurs the lines between criminal and noncriminal and draws attention to the detrimental effects that a criminal record has on the lives of those who are convicted. Many of the undocumented and unpunished transgressions confessed through her project were committed when the perpetrators were juveniles, many of whom are now lawyers, doctors, and professionals.
The above photo comes from a comic-book store manager who swiped a full-sized Dalek replica and sold it for $3,000 on eBay. Read his story here.
I think it is because of the left’s “narrative of disruption” [about Francis] that the right is panicked over Francis’s critiques of capitalism. These Vatican criticisms—suddenly salient in ways they weren’t when uttered by JPII and Benedict—need to be nipped in the bud before they do any damage.
The American right has gotten used to believing that Catholicism is cool because of its teachings on sex, abortion, homosexuality, marriage and contraception. And that has been a core feature of the theocon-neocon popular front this past decade or two. But it has always relied on ignoring or suppressing the critique of market capitalism that has long been embedded in Catholic social thought and was enunciated by John Paul II and Benedict XVI repeatedly. Just as the church challenges the left on some social issues, it deeply challenges the right on economic ones. I think it’s healthy that the right is now turning on this Pope. Catholicism is deeper, broader and more complex than any right or left political co-optation would have you believe.
Drezner flags a new Pew survey (pdf) on foreign policy. He notes that historically, “there’s a foreign policy disconnect between Washington elites and the rest of the country — the former is far more enthusiastic about liberal internationalism than the latter.” But that is less true today:
What’s driving this convergence of views? I’d suggest that the hangover of Iraq, the curdling of the Arab Spring, the Great Recession, and the evaporation of the neoconservative wing of the GOP foreign policy apparatus all have something to do with it (see here for more). Furthermore, in policy terms the convergence has been even more concentrated: President’s Obama’s policies towards Syria and Iran mirror public attitudes much more closely than elite attitudes.
Mataconis notes that Americans are becoming warier of US intervention around the world:
In his speech yesterday, Obama once again proposed increasing the minimum wage. Douglas Holtz-Eakin opposes the idea:
According to recent American Action Forum research, 80 percent of minimum wage workers are not actually in poverty, increasing the federal minimum to $10, as some have proposed, wouldn’t benefit 99 percent of the people in poverty. Myriad research indicates that raising the minimum wage, while not destroying jobs, impedes job creation. That means an even slower recovery to full employment. California’s new bump in the minimum wage to $10 will prevent the creation of almost 200,000 new jobs. If every state followed suit, more than 2.3 million jobs across the country would never see the light of day.
Ron Unz, who is trying to get a $12 minimum wage implemented in California, disagrees:
The impact on U.S. households would be enormous and bipartisan. Some 42 percent of American wage-workers would benefit from a $12 minimum wage and their average annual gain would be $5,000 per worker, $10,000 per couple, which is very serious money for a working-poor family. White Southerners are the base of today’s Republican Party, and 40 percent of them would gain, seeing their annual incomes rise by an average $4,500 per worker. If Rush Limbaugh – who earns over $70 million per year – denounced the proposal, they’d stop listening to him. Hispanics would gain the most, with 55 percent of their wage-workers getting a big raise and the benefits probably touching the vast majority of Latino families.
In the past, Unz has written that a higher minimum wage will reduce illegal immigration because “a much higher minimum wage serves to remove the lowest rungs in the employment ladder, thus preventing newly arrived immigrants from gaining their initial foothold in the economy.” Bruce Bartlett is made queasy by this rationale:
I have to object to the [previous] reader’s characterization of the “Christian tendency to turn religious holidays into occasions for inventing impossible narratives (a flying fat man and a giant bunny delivering toys and candy respectively)” I’m sorry, but that is a British/American tendency, not a Christian one. Spain, for one, did not turn either Easter or Christmas into any such thing, nor did any country in its vicinity.
Apparently he’s never heard of caga tió, the gift-shitting Christmas log:
The Tió de Nadal, popularly called Caga tió (“shitting log”), is a character in Catalan mythology relating to a Christmas tradition widespread in Catalonia. The form of the Tió de Nadal found in many Catalan homes during the holiday season is a hollow log of about thirty centimetres length. Recently, the tió has come to stand up on two or four little stick legs with a broad smiling face painted on the higher of the two ends, enhanced by a little red sock hat (a miniature of the traditional Catalan barretina) and often a three-dimensional nose.
Beginning with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8), one gives the tió a little bit to “eat” every night and usually covers him with a little blanket so that he will not be cold at night.
As most outlets continue to ignore Goliath, Max Blumenthal’s scathing book on Greater Israel, Callie Maidhoff offers a critique from Max’s left:
[P]erhaps the largest problem with Goliath’s reception is that readers—and particularly liberal readers more accustomed to the “Shoot and Cry” body of literature — simply don’t recognize the Israel they know and love.
It’s hard to believe that only a year ago, Patrick was busy cramming LLCs for Dummies, as we jumped off the cliff to independence. This will be the last update this year – completing a promise I made to readers of maximal transparency about this experiment – before we hit the acid test of annual renewals next month.
When asked what our goal was for 2013, for want of any better measurement, I suggested our editorial budget at our last corporate home, The Daily Beast. That was $900K in 2012. Well, we’re now at $818K – still agonizingly short of our goal, but plenty good enough to survive for now. I haven’t taken any profits or salary this year to make sure we have a sturdy fiscal ballast for whatever comes (or doesn’t) on renewal day next January 2. We’ve also added staff we didn’t have at the Beast – a technology wizard (former intern Chas Danner aka Special Teams) and a general manager for the whole enterprise (Brian Senecal) – and for the kind of posts on culture, religion, philosophy and art that are rare on the web but integral in my view to any civilized conversation. Almost everyone on the team started out as an intern; and everyone has health insurance from the internship on.
I can honestly say I’ve never worked with a more talented and decent crew of colleagues and friends than I do now. In our little boat on a very choppy media sea, we’ve been remarkably happy this past year. We’ve had a hell of a lot of fun and we’ve worked our guts out, as I’m sure you can see. Putting out this blog every day, while also finding a way to add Deep Dish, has not been not easy, even though my brilliant young team make it seem so.
You’ve also come through for us throughout the year after a spectacular start, for which we’re immensely grateful. Here’s the month by month revenue chart from March onward:
You can see the late surge, which we really need to continue if we want to make our goal. But we now have a total of 32,100 subscribers – a pretty staggering number in just one year with no business department and no marketing. If we can achieve a solid rate of renewals next month, we’ll be able to plan and budget in a way we haven’t been able to in this first ice-breaking, nerve-wracking year.
But this last update of 2013 is really about those of you who have read the Dish regularly all year and have yet to get around to subscribing. We know these are tough times, and we know procrastination runs deep in human nature. But our readers are our only revenue source – in stark contrast with almost every other site on the web. That keeps us honest and prevents us from sinking to the desperation of “sponsored content” or the page-view seeking gimmicks you see in so many other places. If you want this model to succeed, we need all of you. And we need you now.
So take a moment if you haven’t subscribed yet, get that credit card out of your wallet, and join the experiment. 41,000 of you have used every one of your free read-ons – which means you really are a Dishhead (sorry, you’re busted) but haven’t yet actually put your money where your eyeballs are. We need you; and, more to the point, we want you to be fully part of this, to join the 32,000 others who have made this year (and the next) possible.
It takes a couple of minutes and costs only $1.99 a month or $19.99 a year. Click here to subscribe. And have a great Christmas season from all of us to all of you.
That’s how, in yesterday’s speech, Obama described America’s growing inequality:
The full speech can be viewed here. Ezra raves, calling it “perhaps the single best economic speech of his presidency”:
That’s in part because it exists for no other reason than to lay out Obama’s view of the economy. His other speeches on the subject have been about passing legislation, defining campaign themes, or positioning himself against Republicans. But Obama’s done running for office. He’s not getting anything through this Congress. And he’s not negotiating with John Boehner. This is just what he thinks.
I’m afraid I wasn’t as blown away, for some of the reasons John Cassidy notes:
In talking about the causes of rising inequality, he made the usual references to global competition and technological change, but without adding anything fresh. In laying out his policy prescriptions, he talked about promoting a “growth agenda,” which also sounded familiar: reforming the corporate tax code, eliminating loopholes, and using some of the money saved to invest in things like infrastructure and scientific research. As he has before, he came out in favor of strengthening the labor laws and raising the minimum wage. (By how much he didn’t say.) He spoke of improving educational standards, making pre-school programs more widely available, and pursuing a trade agenda that “works for the middle class.”
Most of these policies are individually worthwhile. But with the possible exception of a big hike in the minimum wage—a little one wouldn’t have much impact—they are mainly small-bore measures. Even if every one of them were enacted, which isn’t going to happen, it’s by no means clear that they would halt, much less reverse, the over-all trends that Obama highlighted.
Perhaps it’s best to see the speech as an attempt to generate a deeper understanding of the forces driving not a good inequality, but a potentially destructive one, restraining mobility and creating two separate nations out of one. Yglesias heard little in the speech about addressing unemployment: