“Pagels then shows that Revelation, far from being meant as a hallucinatory prophecy, is actually a coded account of events that were happening at the time John was writing. It’s essentially a political cartoon about the crisis in the Jesus movement in the late first century, with Jerusalem fallen and the Temple destroyed and the Saviour, despite his promises, still not back. All the imagery of the rapt and the raptured and the rest that the “Left Behind” books have made a staple for fundamentalist Christians represents contemporary people and events, and was well understood in those terms by the original audience. Revelation is really like one of those old-fashioned editorial drawings where Labor is a pair of overalls and a hammer, and Capital a bag of money in a tuxedo and top hat, and Economic Justice a woman in flowing robes, with a worried look. “When John says that ‘the beast that I saw was like a leopard, its feet were like a bear’s and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth,’ he revises Daniel’s vision to picture Rome as the worst empire of all,” Pagels writes. “When he says that the beast’s seven heads are ‘seven kings,’ John probably means the Roman emperors who ruled from the time of Augustus until his own time.” As for the creepy 666, the “number of the beast,” the original text adds, helpfully, “Let anyone with understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a person.” This almost certainly refers-by way of Gematria, the Jewish numerological system-to the contemporary Emperor Nero. Even John’s vision of a great mountain exploding is a topical reference to the recent eruption of Vesuvius, in C.E. 79. Revelation is a highly colored picture of the present, not a prophecy of the future.”
"As our country anxiously awaits the Supreme Court’s verdict on health-care reform, the media has reduced the case to the narrow terms of a political horserace. This characterization ignores the enormous significance of this case — a shift from the modern fight between liberal and conservative Constitutionalists back to an older and more nationally divisive debate between Constitutionalists and Confederates.
From the Articles of Confederation to the Constitution of the Confederate States of America to the Lochner-era Supreme Court, confederationists have long believed in a United States consisting of states loosely united by a small, weak central government, and they have fought for more than 230 years to prevent, undermine, and erode the Constitution. While the term “Confederate” rightly conjures up America’s sin of slavery and the racially charged movements for states’ rights and state nullification, the present-day confederationists include conservative libertarians and corporatists who support a central government too weak to regulate or tax commerce. […]
For decades after the Civil War, big corporations saw the value of a confederationist vision of a weak central government. They aligned with confederationists in the early 20th century to create a Supreme Court that struck down minimum-wage laws, child-labor laws, and laws protecting workers’ right to unionize. In the 1930s, confederationist justices struck down law after law intended to rescue America from the Great Depression. The Confederate Constitution’s call for weak national regulations and racial oppression echoed again in the 1950s and 1960s. Alabama Governor and U.S. presidential candidate George Wallace famously based his anti-desegregation platform on the principle of states’ rights, and after the Supreme Court’s momentous ruling inBrown v. Board of Education, states throughout the South claimed they could simply ignore the order to integrate schools. When Congress enacted a ban on whites-only lunch counters, segregationists claimed the ban exceeded the federal government’s authority. They lost, unanimously, in the Supreme Court.
Yet today’s Supreme Court is moving toward the confederationist framework of protecting corporate interests. From its decision authorizing corporations to spend unlimited political money in the Citizens United case to its assaults on equal pay for women and job security for older workers, the Court’s five conservatives have left no doubt about their willingness to obviate the commerce and general-welfare clauses of the Constitution to protect powerful corporate interests. It is worth noting that, throughout the last century, when the corporatist strand has conflicted with the state’s-rights position — from Lochner (in which the Court infamously overturned New York’s public health regulations in 1905) to the current Court’s reversal just this week of Montana’s anti-corruption campaign-finance law — the corporatist side has won.”
American and Israeli researchers have used twisted vortex beams to transmit data at 2.5 terabits per second. As far as we can discern, this is the fastest wireless network ever created — by some margin. This technique is likely to be used in the next few years to vastly increase the throughput of both wireless and fiber-optic networks.
These twisted signals use orbital angular momentum (OAM) to cram much more data into a single stream. In current state-of-the-art transmission protocols (WiFi, LTE, COFDM), we only modulate the spin angular momentum (SAM) of radio waves, not the OAM. If you picture the Earth, SAM is our planet spinning on its axis, while OAM is our movement around the Sun. Basically, the breakthrough here is that researchers have created a wireless network protocol that uses both OAM and SAM.
In this case, Alan Willner and fellow researchers from the University of Southern California, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Tel Aviv University, twisted together eight ~300Gbps visible light data streams using OAM. Each of the eight beams has a different level of OAM twist. The beams are bundled into two groups of four, which are passed through different polarization filters. One bundle of four is transmitted as a thin stream, like a screw thread, while the other four are transmitted around the outside, like a sheathe. The beam is then transmitted over open space (just one meter in this case), and untwisted and processed by the receiving end. 2.5 terabits per second is equivalent to 320 gigabytes per second, or around seven full Blu-ray movies per second.
“With the exception of the imperial offspring of the Ming dynasty and the dauphins of pre-Revolutionary France, contemporary American kids may represent the most indulged young people in the history of the world. It’s not just that they’ve been given unprecedented amounts of stuff—clothes, toys, cameras, skis, computers, televisions, cell phones, PlayStations, iPods. (The market for Burberry Baby and other forms of kiddie “couture” has reportedly been growing by ten per cent a year.) They’ve also been granted unprecedented authority. “Parents want their kids’ approval, a reversal of the past ideal of children striving for their parents’ approval,” Jean Twenge and W. Keith Campbell, both professors of psychology, have written. In many middle-class families, children have one, two, sometimes three adults at their beck and call. This is a social experiment on a grand scale, and a growing number of adults fear that it isn’t working out so well: according to one poll, commissioned by Time and CNN, two-thirds of American parents think that their children are spoiled.”—Why are American kids so spoiled? | The New Yorker
CBS MoneyWatch recently published what they called the “20 Craziest Job Interview Questions.” The questions, they claimed, were real job interview questions that “such companies as Google, Capital One, and Goldman Sachs asked internship candidates.” Our writer Giles Turnbull could do with a proper job, so we assigned him all 20 questions to see how he’d fare in the global marketplace. Headhunters, contact us for his direct line.
Facebook:Twenty-five racehorses, no stopwatch, five tracks. Figure out the top three fastest horses in the fewest number of races.
The fewest number of races is one. Just keep those suckers running round and round and round until they collapse from exhaustion. The final three make it through, the rest end up as dog food. Actually, I thought that’s how they make dog food.
Goldman Sachs:Suppose you had eight identical balls. One of them is slightly heavier and you are given a balance scale. What’s the fewest number of times you have to use the scale to find the heavier ball?
You don’t need the scales at all, you just juggle those cuties. The heaviest one will be revealed in seconds. I did a juggling course at college, I totally know what I’m doing here. You’ve seen that trick where people juggle a chainsaw, a dead rodent, and a lemon? Turns out you can tell which one is the chainsaw even if you’re juggling with your eyes closed. You can just tell what’s heavy as it passes through your hands. And that’s science.
Towers Watson:Estimate how many planes there are in the sky.
What, the sky just here? Or the whole sky, everywhere? And do you just mean big planes like 747s, or are you including itty-bitty one-seaters, and training flights for learner pilots? What about remote-control planes? Those drones the Army uses to spy on people? They could have thousands of those and none of us would know. That’s a very wide question. I’m going to say six. No, 14.
Diageo North America:If you walk into a liquor store to count the unsold bottles, but the clerk is screaming at you to leave, what do you do?
What in the name of God would I be doing counting unsold bottles in a liquor store? Are you trying to fuck with my mind? I mean, what is that supposed to even mean?
“American society has a remarkable ability to resist change, or to take whatever change has taken place and attempt to make it go away. Things are different for you than they were for us. Just the fact that you chose to come to a single-sex college makes you smarter than we were — we came because it’s what you did in those days — and the college you are graduating from is a very different place. All sorts of things caused Wellesley to change, but it did change, and today it’s a place that understands its obligations to women in today’s world. The women’s movement has made a huge difference, too, particularly for young women like you. There are women doctors and women lawyers. There are anchorwomen, although most of them are blonde. But at the same time, the pay differential between men and women has barely changed. In my business, the movie business, there are many more women directors, but it’s just as hard to make a movie about women as it ever was, and look at the parts the Oscar-nominated actresses played this year: hooker, hooker, hooker, hooker, and nun. It’s 1996, and you are graduating from Wellesley in the Year of the Wonderbra. The Wonderbra is not a step forward for women. Nothing that hurts that much is a step forward for women.
What I’m saying is, don’t delude yourself that the powerful cultural values that wrecked the lives of so many of my classmates have vanished from the earth. Don’t let the New York Times article about the brilliant success of Wellesley graduates in the business world fool you — there’s still a glass ceiling. Don’t let the number of women in the work force trick you — there are still lots of magazines devoted almost exclusively to making perfect casseroles and turning various things into tents.
Don’t underestimate how much antagonism there is toward women and how many people wish we could turn the clock back. One of the things people always say to you if you get upset is, don’t take it personally, but listen hard to what’s going on and, please, I beg you, take it personally. Understand: every attack on Hillary Clinton for not knowing her place is an attack on you. Underneath almost all those attacks are the words: get back, get back to where you once belonged. When Elizabeth Dole pretends that she isn’t serious about her career, that is an attack on you. The acquittal of O.J. Simpson is an attack on you. Any move to limit abortion rights is an attack on you — whether or not you believe in abortion. The fact that Clarence Thomas is sitting on the Supreme Court today is an attack on you.
Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim. Because you don’t have the alibi my class had — this is one of the great achievements and mixed blessings you inherit: unlike us, you can’t say nobody told you there were other options. Your education is a dress rehearsal for a life that is yours to lead. Twenty-five years from now, you won’t have as easy a time making excuses as my class did. You won’t be able to blame the deans, or the culture, or anyone else: you will have no one to blame but yourselves. Whoa.”
"The Supreme Court examined the Arizona immigration law in minute detail, but when it came to revisiting the damage caused by its own handiwork in the 2010 Citizens United case, it couldn’t be bothered. In a single dismissive paragraph on Monday, the court’s conservative majority refused to allow Montana or any other state to impose limits on corporate election spending and wouldn’t even entertain arguments on the subject.
It is not as if those five justices could be unaware of the effects of Citizens United, and of the various court and administrative decisions that followed it. They could hardly have missed the $300 million in outside spending that deluged the 2010 Congressional elections or the reports showing that more than $1 billion will be spent by outside groups on Republican candidates this year, overwhelming the competition.
They might also have seen that many of the biggest donations are secret, given to tax-free advocacy groups in defiance even of the admonition in Citizens United that independent contributions should be disclosed.
If the justices were at all concerned about these developments, they could have used the Montana case to revisit their decision and rein in its disastrous effects. The only conclusion is that they are quite content with the way things worked out. […]
Congress can — and should — require disclosure of secret donations. The Internal Revenue Service should crack down on political organizations that pose as tax-exempt “social welfare” organizations to avoid current disclosure rules.
But, for now, the nation’s highest court has chosen to turn its back as elections are bought by the biggest check writers.”
“Recent legislation has made legal the president’s right to detain a person indefinitely on suspicion of affiliation with terrorist organizations or “associated forces,” a broad, vague power that can be abused without meaningful oversight from the courts or Congress (the law is currently being blocked by a federal judge). This law violates the right to freedom of expression and to be presumed innocent until proved guilty, two other rights enshrined in the declaration.
In addition to American citizens’ being targeted for assassination or indefinite detention, recent laws have canceled the restraints in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to allow unprecedented violations of our rights to privacy through warrantless wiretapping and government mining of our electronic communications. Popular state laws permit detaining individuals because of their appearance, where they worship or with whom they associate.
Despite an arbitrary rule that any man killed by drones is declared an enemy terrorist, the death of nearby innocent women and children is accepted as inevitable. After more than 30 airstrikes on civilian homes this year in Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai has demanded that such attacks end, but the practice continues in areas of Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen that are not in any war zone. We don’t know how many hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed in these attacks, each one approved by the highest authorities in Washington. This would have been unthinkable in previous times.
These policies clearly affect American foreign policy. Top intelligence and military officials, as well as rights defenders in targeted areas, affirm that the great escalation in drone attacks has turned aggrieved families toward terrorist organizations, aroused civilian populations against us and permitted repressive governments to cite such actions to justify their own despotic behavior.
Meanwhile, the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, now houses 169 prisoners. About half have been cleared for release, yet have little prospect of ever obtaining their freedom. American authorities have revealed that, in order to obtain confessions, some of the few being tried (only in military courts) have been tortured by waterboarding more than 100 times or intimidated with semiautomatic weapons, power drills or threats to sexually assault their mothers. Astoundingly, these facts cannot be used as a defense by the accused, because the government claims they occurred under the cover of “national security.” Most of the other prisoners have no prospect of ever being charged or tried either.
At a time when popular revolutions are sweeping the globe, the United States should be strengthening, not weakening, basic rules of law and principles of justice enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But instead of making the world safer, America’s violation of international human rights abets our enemies and alienates our friends.”
“Aaron Sorkin knows the weight of last words, and his last words to me, as we walk-and-talk out of the HBO press room, are: “Write something nice.” He says this in the “Smile, honey” tone of much less successful jerks. It’s not advice the Oscar-winning, show-bossing Jonathan Franzen of screenwriting would take himself, thank what gods there be. In Sorkinville, these gods are men. […]
At the short end of a TV season dominated, if not by shows about girls and women, by talk about shows about girls and women, Sorkin’s new drama The Newsroom arrives with a “Hey, remember how great America was when it wasn’t just a man’s world, but a man’s man’s world?”
[M]y first question starts, “I watched the pilot twice … ” But I don’t get to the question part because Sorkin looks as if he wants to say something. I invite him to do so, and he asks, “Because you liked it so much the first time, or because you didn’t understand it the first time?”
So huge is the hubris in thinking anyone smart enough to write about this show for a national newspaper might not be yet smart enough to understand it (should you fret about your own Sorkin-fathoming abilities, let me say that if you read Don Quixote in the ninth grade or studied American History in the 11th, you will be fine) that I just swallow and tell my own truth.
REPORTER: No, I think that there might be a third way, which is that if you’re going to write about something, you have to look at it more than once. […]
Sorkin does not live in the age of Gawker. But The Newsroom is opportunely timed – at least for educated-liberal audiences – in part because this is an election year, and Americans are so divided that wild ambivalence seems like the only way left to feel. In larger part, it’s because a certain kind of man is now freaking out over the loss of his greatness: Esquire is e-publishing “men’s fiction”; Simon Fraser University wants to build a “men’s centre,” requiring perhaps refuge from the plague of 51-per-cent female enrolment; “misandry” is a word you hear people say and mean.
Really, all that’s happening is that feminism has achieved some of its purposes and pluralism has taken root. Systems are tenuous; forces of change are multiplying; the great-(white)-man theory will not hold.
Sorkin, though, is winningly upholding it. The colonel, the president, the genius, the baseball coach, the anchorman, and next – as he’s recently confirmed – no less than Steve Jobs: His subjects are masculine iconoclasts with traditional top-down power, who strive, in Graham Greene-type ways, to use it for good.
But on “real” TV news, these heroes are dying, and to mourn them is also to mourn a paternalistic notion of truth as something you should but cannot handle, when for the powerless vast majority it’s so gossamer it just slips through our fingers. With one look into the steel arrogance behind Sorkin’s eyes, I am sure he considers his life’s tragedy that, in 50 years, there will be no Sorkin to write about him.
“I think I would have done very well, as a writer, in the forties,” he says. “I think the last time America was a great country was then, or not long after. It was before Vietnam, before Watergate.”
It was a great country, yes, for great white men. It was a great country when you could still trust in greatness. As many of us (who watch HBO, at least) long ago stopped believing in God, a God who for all Christian and capitalistic intents and purposes was male, it could not be much longer before we also stopped believing in things as theistic as neutrality and objectivity and omnipotence in journalism. I do not want us to stop believing in heroes; only in heroes who think, as Sorkin’s heroes think, they’re truth-raining gods.”
AI:We’re here in the Chateau Marmont, which is a fabled part of the Hollywood legend. “Mulholland Drive” touched upon that in a very deep way. What role does this hotel play in the world of movies, in your real life, and the lives of the people who live in Los Angeles?
David Lynch:They have fried chicken and mashed potatoes on Sunday nights.
Today’s food activists think that “sustainable farming” and “eating local” are the way to solve a host of perceived problems with our modern food supply system. But after a thorough review of the evidence, Pierre Desrochers and Hiroko Shimizu have concluded that these claims are mistaken.
In The Locavore’s Dilemma they explain the history, science, and economics of food supply to reveal what locavores miss or misunderstand: the real environmental impacts of agricultural production; the drudgery of subsistence farming; and the essential role large-scale, industrial producers play in making food more available, varied, affordable, and nutritionally rich than ever before in history.
They show how eliminating agriculture subsidies and opening up international trade, not reducing food miles, is the real route to sustainability; and why eating globally, not only locally, is the way to save the planet.