Tab Sweep – June 19

The most diverse place in America:

Remember Sarah Palin’s much-parodied 2008 interview with Katie Couric? One segment ended with this line: “Believe me, Alaska is like a microcosm of America.”

Five Thirty-Eight: Which Flight Will Get You There Fastest?

Compared with the OECD, America is a Violent Country. Is it getting worse?

Indie publishing tips: Get a Spine and Get a Blurb (for your book’s cover), and The Economics of Indie Publishing.

John C. Wright explains why he doesn’t worry about an author’s politics.

There are other authors (Milton among them) who were visited nightly by the muse and dictated to him. … But her voice is there, or the story is merely words without spirit. … I do not care that Leigh Brackett was a lady or Lord Dunsany a lord. I also care very little what the author thinks in his private life when he is speaking for himself. This is why I prefer the juveniles of Robert Heinlein over his seniles. His later books were too much Bob and not enough Bob’s muse.

Lifehack: John Brandon’s 7-minute routine to change your work life and a follow-up article about implementing it. (I hate the auto-scrolling at that site, by the way.)

Acton Institute: Why the Price System is One of God’s Artworks. (Which reminds me: I need to read Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments.)

Dieting doesn’t shrink your stomach, quite:

The latest science suggests that chronic food restriction can actually affect how much you need to eat to feel full—with caveats. … Numerous imaging studies have shown that the stomachs of obese people are really not that different from those of the rest of the population, indicating that there is little relationship between body size and baseline stomach size….

Thoughts about effective logo design.

Kurt Schlichter says it’s not cool when a high school graduating class has 72 valedictorians.

Shut down the TSA. Really.

This deserves more than a mention in a tab sweep: The Founders’ Model of Welfare Actually Reduced Poverty. I don’t know how well things worked before the modern social welfare system (since Roosevelt’s New Deal, say) but today it’s hard to spend almost any effort trying to alleviate poverty without giving in to despair.

Legal Research

In the course of preparing for a sermon on the command in Micah 6:8 to “do justice” I came across these stories:

Aaron Swartz: read the Wired article and the Politico obit by Lawrence Lessig, and view a brief interview with Lawrence Lessig here.

The Attorney General for the District of Columbia’s treatment of David Gregory for possessing high-capacity magazines as compared with their treatment of James Brinkley.

Randy Balko has written articles at HuffPo about the unchecked charging power of Prosecutors, and at Reason about prosecutors’ immunity from lawsuits.

Glenn Reynolds blogs about everything, including prosecutorial misconduct, jury trials, and plea bargains.

Jury Nullification in Washington DC

I bet it does: Billboard advocating jury nullification concerns local prosecutors.

“People are going to jail for weed,” Babb said. “Things are getting so weird. There needs to be this final safeguard to protect us from a tyrannical government.”

The story also includes this: “In New York last year, an 80-year-old man was charged with jury tampering after passing out fliers about jury nullification to courthouse visitors; the case was later dismissed by a federal judge.”

Nerd Badge

When I was in high school, you could tell who the nerds were, because we had our TI-30 calculators in pouches hanging from our belts. I don’t know what these kids today use for that purpose — I mean the purpose of identifying themselves as belonging to the nerd tribe, not doing math. But I’ve got a suggestion: they should try the Rock Band: it’s a strap that converts your iPod Nano into a wristwatch:

nerdy wristwatch

The sad thing? I kind of want one. (Via TidBits.)

The Lives of Others

I finished watching The Lives of Others. That makes two subtitled foreign films this century! Awesome. It’s the story of a secret policeman with the East German Stasi and a couple he is assigned to investigate.

I’m no good at movie reviews, so I won’t try. I think the story and the characters were both excellent. There is almost no “action” — and yet at moments your heart is pounding because of the intensity. (More like a thriller or old-school horror movie, in that way.) No special effects, no CGI.

The main character is Gerd Wiesler, played by the late Ulrich Mühe. His life story is interesting in its own right.

I’m glad I saw this movie. It’s an excellent critique of the totalitarian state — the best I can remember; perhaps as good as Animal Farm. But it’s also an enjoyable movie to watch.

Cool Tool – Irritating Co-workers Edition

The Evil-Tron is an electronic gadget not much bigger than a quarter. It’s got a strong magnet, so you can attach it just about anywhere, like under someone’s desk, or in framework rigging for the suspended ceiling.

What it does is make sounds — “unidentifiable scratching sounds,” or “eerie whispering ‘hey, can you hear me?” — at random intervals, and so mess with someone’s mind. Just the thing to get your coworkers.

I have got to get me one of these. Or … perhaps … the economy pack: get three for just $18. Hmmm….