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Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike

It begins to dawn on (some factions of) the administration that war with ISIS may be harder than they thought. What if Syria's not up for letting us fly drones through their airspace, for example? Read below the fold...

Bardarbunga eruption sparks red alert

I always thought it was kowabunga, but never mind. Read below the fold...

Big box stores like badly constructed model railroad "shake the box" structures

I was a model railroader as a kid, and when you have a model railroad, you want something for your trains to run to, and from, and through: So, structures. And companies manufacture plastic building kits, for which there are a few rules beyond gluing the walls together at 90-degree angles:

One rule is that when you glue the two walls together (at a ninety-degree angle) make sure all the detail lines up. So if you've got a cornice on Wall A, make sure it lines up, at the corner, with the cornice on Walll B.

A second rule: When you've built your building and you position it on the layout, make sure there's no unsightly gap between the building and baseboard (or, as we would call it in the real world, the "ground").

So here we have a real world building that violate both rules:

Read below the fold...

Tweet of the day (2)

In the garden: A swallowtail that lost its tails?

Well, the James Foley execution certainly was handy for everyone, wasn't it?

So, the US elites are going postal ("You know you want to"), which is, of course, exactly the reaction ISIS wanted. Since all of it seems like gaslighting to me (at least Bush had the common human decency to do his gaslighting with non-lethal tactics.) I'm going to continue with my program, which is doing research on the minimum wage. (I'm not saying this isn't an important issue, so yes, call your Congress critter. I'm just saying I don't want to be thrown off track.) I'm just going to do a short link dump, with a little commentary:

Islamic State can’t be beat without addressing Syrian side of border, top general says WaPo. "[A]pplication of all the tools of national power–diplomatic, economic, information, military."

U.S. General Says Raiding Syria Is Key to Halting ISIS Times "This is an organization that has an apocalyptic end-of-days strategic vision that will eventually have to be defeated."

Islamic Terrorists Must be Defeated, Chairman Says Defense Department News. As distinct, that is, from the "news" above.

Pentagon chief: ISIS 'beyond anything we have seen' CNN. "'Like Mr. Foley, several hundred innocent members of the Yazidi and Christian communities have been killed in the same manner,' Barzani said in a statement Thursday." Barzani (and to be fair, ISIS, know their audience).

Amid U.S. air strikes, Iraq struggles to build own air force Reuters. Ka-ching!

Why Savagery Doesn’t Sell Evan Kohlmann, Politico. "[Kohlman] e conceded on cross-examination he was not fluent in Arabic." Read below the fold...

In the garden: The great wall of squash (2)

Here we see the squash happily twining itself along the green gardening cord:

Read below the fold...

Maine hermit returns to the world after 27 years in the woods, and this is what he thinks

Bangor Daily News:

The months in jail, and the prospect of trying to fit back into a society that he had abandoned was troublesome to Knight.

“I don’t know your world,” he told Finkel shortly before he was released from jail in November. “Only my world, and memories of the world before I went into the woods. What life is today? What is proper? I have to figure out how to live.” ....

“Sitting here in jail, I don’t like what I see in the society I’m about to enter,” Knight told Finkel. “I don’t think I’m going to fit in. It’s too loud. Too colorful. The lack of aesthetics. The crudeness. The inanities. The trivia.

And eventually, Knight — who said he was never ill during the 27 years spent in the woods — shared his secret for survival in the Maine woods.

“Get enough sleep,” he told Finkel.

He's not the only one.... Read below the fold...

So, how many lives did former Big Tobacco shill Malcolm Gladwell ruin with his bogus "10,000 hours" talking point?

(Yes, Tobacco Industry shill.) And yes, the 10,000 hours point is bogus:

The 10,000 hour rule—first proposed by a Swedish psychologist and later made famous in Malcolm Gladwell's Outliersstates that exceptional expertise requires at least 10,000 hours of practice. The best of the best (the Beatles, Bill Gates) all amassed more than 10,000 hours of practice before rising to the top, Gladwell argued. So greatness is within virtually any person's grasp, so long as they can put in the time to master their skill of choice.

A new meta-analysis, however, indicates that the 10,000 hour rule simply does not exist. As Brain's Idea reports, authors of the new study undertook the largest literature survey on this subject to date, compiling the results of 88 scientific articles representing data from some 11,000 research participants. Practice, they found, on average explains just 12 percent of skill mastery and subsequent success. "In other words the 10,000-Hour rule is nonsense," Brain's Idea writes. "Stop believing in it. Sure, practice is important. But other factors (age? intelligence? talent?) appear to play a bigger role."  

While this is the largest study to date to arrive at this conclusion, it's not the first

So who exactly did Gladwell hurt? Read below the fold...

Officer Friendly....

Some nuance on the term "oligarchy" from Martin Gilen (of the Gilen and Page study)

At TPM, of all places! A fine interview:

Let's talk about the study. If you had 30 seconds to sum up the main conclusion of your study for the average person, how would you do so?

I'd say that contrary to what decades of political science research might lead you to believe, ordinary citizens have virtually no influence over what their government does in the United States. And economic elites and interest groups, especially those representing business, have a substantial degree of influence. Government policy-making over the last few decades reflects the preferences of those groups -- of economic elites and of organized interests.

Shocker, I know, but it's nice to hear a scholar come to that conclusion backed by hard data (you know, data other than my whole life). Read below the fold...

If James Foley had been a bankster, would Obama have ransomed him?

I'm guessing yes.

In the garden: Apical dominance in the filberts

That's one tree, but multiple branches seem to be reaching for the sky with new twigs and buds all at once.

Read below the fold...

Following the money in Ferguson

First, for Ferguson, the "foreclosure crisis" never went away:

In the zip code that encompasses Ferguson, half (49 percent) of homes were underwater in 2013, meaning the home’s market value was below the mortgage’s outstanding balance.

This condition (also called “negative equity”) is often a first step toward loan default or foreclosure, according to the recent report, “Underwater America,” from the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at the University of California, Berkeley.

Mortgage lenders targeted predominantly black and Hispanic areas for the highest-risk, highest-cost types of mortgage loans, such as adjustable-rate mortgages and loans with high prepayment penalties.

This led to higher-than-average default rates, according to the Housing Commission established by the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C.

Many of the families that were sold risky mortgages had good credit, decent incomes and everything else necessary to qualify for traditional long-term, fixed-rate loans. Yet, they were not offered those kinds of loans, but instead “steered into exotic and costly mortgages they did not fully understand and could not afford,” the commission said.

This “deliberate targeting of minority areas for the sale of risky and expensive loans,” as the commission described it, wreaked havoc on the financial wellbeing of affected families and undermined the stability of entire neighborhoods.

Now add to this how the town of Ferguson funds itself: Read below the fold...

Male investors behaving badly

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