weekend | 30 march 2013

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POLITICS

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SPECIAL REPORT: REPUBLICANS FOIL WHAT MAJORITY WANTS BY GERRYMANDERING

Chris Christoff & Greg Giroux | Bloomberg

Michigan’s 14th district underscores how Democrats across the U.S. are bunched in big metropolitan areas, resulting in the party’s House candidates often winning by wide margins on Election Day while Republicans capture more seats because their voters are spread out.

It’s a prime reason Democrats fell 17 seats short of winning a House majority in 2012, even as their congressional candidates drew about 1.4 million more votes than Republicans nationwide, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News. And it will hinder the Democrats from regaining control of the chamber in 2014. Currently, there are 232 Republicans and 200 Democrats in the House, with three vacancies.

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michigan

REPUBLICANS WIN CONGRESS AS DEMOCRATS GET MOST VOTES

Greg Giroux | Bloomberg

The 2010 elections, in which Republicans won the House majority and gained more than 700 state legislative seats across the nation, gave the party the upper-hand in the process of redistricting, the once-a-decade redrawing of congressional seats. The advantage helped them design safer partisan districts and maintain their House majority in 2012 — even as they lost the presidential race by about 5 million votes. Also nationwide, Democratic House candidates combined to win about 1.4 million more votes than Republicans, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News.

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CALIFORNIA REDISTRICTING OUSTS LIFETIME INCUMBENTS

Michael B. Marois | Bloomberg

That stability ended last year after California (STOCA1) voters in 2010 gave a citizen’s panel the power to redraw the House districts. The impact, combined with a new primary system, was immediate. One out of four of the state’s 53 congressional incumbents departed through retirements or defeats in the 2012 primaries and elections.

“You’ve had voters shoehorned into districts for the sake of maintaining incumbency and we aren’t doing that in California anymore,” said Kim Alexander, founder and president of California Voter Foundation. “It was a big shakeout. That’s probably what would happen everywhere if you had fair redistricting.”

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AFRICA | INTERNATIONAL

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SPECIAL REPORT | INTRODUCTION: AFRICA RISING

Oliver August | The Economist

This special report will paint a picture at odds with Western images of Africa. War, famine and dictators have become rarer. People still struggle to make ends meet, just as they do in China and India. They don’t always have enough to eat, they may lack education, they despair at daily injustices and some want to emigrate. But most Africans no longer fear a violent or premature end and can hope to see their children do well. That applies across much of the continent, including the sub-Saharan part, the main focus of this report.

PART ONE: TIRED OF WAR
PART TWO: BYE-BYE BIG MEN
PART THREE: COURAGE, MON BRAVE
PART FOUR: DOING IT MY WAY
PART FIVE: THE WEALTH BENEATH
PART SIX: CHEERLEADERS AND NAYSAYERS

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RACONTEUR

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NERDIST: MALCOLM MCDOWELL

The extremely talented and wonderful Malcolm McDowell sits down with Chris to discuss the nostalgia of old Hollywood, his days on set of A Clockwork Orange and much more!

Editor: This really is not to be missed. If you’ve got a long walk or some cooking and dishes to do, this is the perfect companion.

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OPEN PLATFORMS

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WHEN TED LOST CONTROL OF IT’S CROWD

Nilofer Merchant | Harvard Business Review

“Wow. Such f—ing bullsh-t.”

No, this is not a snippet from the latest Quentin Tarantino film. It’s Stanford professor Jay Wacker responding, on the Q&A site Quora, to the now-infamous TEDx talk “Vortex-Based Mathematics.”

A member had posed the question “Is Randy Powell saying anything in his 2010 TEDxCharlotte talk, or is it just total nonsense?” Wacker, a particle physicist, was unambiguous: “I am a theoretical physicist who uses (and teaches) the technical meaning of many of the jargon terms that he’s throwing out. And he is simply doing a random word association with the terms. Basically, he’s either (1) insane, (2) a huckster going for fame or money, or (3) doing a Sokal’s hoax on TED. I’d bet equal parts 1 & 2.”

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PHOTO ESSAY

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KROWIARKI PALACE

Gadja Marcin | The Caledonian Mining Expedition
palace

Aren’t these the most extraordinary images? All of Krowiarki Palace. Unfortunately, with very little information available. Here is a rare glimpse inside what was once one of Poland’s grandest palaces. Spared destruction in World War II and shuttered for more than 40 years, it is supposedly being restored to its former glory. I do hope so, or at least preserved to some degree anyway…

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ENGINEERING

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THE INSTITUTE OF MAKING

Jessa Gamble | The Last Word on Nothing

The first commercial object I remember coveting – and receiving – was a Spears toy hand loom. I must have been about eight.

. . .The elegance was very appealing, to a mind that was just learning to think about dividing things in half. About a foot long and ¾ wide, the wooden frame was just the right size for making small placemats. I made many of them. And that’s the last time I remember really enjoying mastery over physical creation. My creativity turned to music and then writing – pushing information around and reveling in its complexity – but never back to physically shaping an object.

Touring the new Institute of Making last week, I wondered why. Materials engineer Mark Miodownik has been a leader of makers for years, and this center, part of University College London, is his natural habitat. He’d like it to become a club house, home to a loose band of passionate makers, welcoming of both men and women.

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FICTION

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THE GOLDEN BOUGH

Salman Rushdie | Granta

Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists 4 will be published on 15 April. Here we bring you a story from the first ground-breaking list, which appeared in 1983, by Salman Rushdie.

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FOOD | BOTANY

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BOTANY FOR FOODIES: THE ROSE FAMILY

Jill Richardson | La Vida Locavore

Today, we’ll cover the Rose Family, which includes not only roses but apples, pears, stone fruits, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and almonds.
. . . When classifying and identifying flowering plants (angiosperms), botanists look at the flowers. The leaves or stems of related plants might look nothing alike, but the flowers will tell you that they are related. Likewise, unrelated plants might have similar looking leaves, but if you look at their flowers, you can tell they are not closely related. So that’s why we are going to look at the flowers of Rose Family members, and that’s also why the strange mutants sold to us at florists are bad examples.

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RECIPES

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SOUPS WORTH MAKING

Heidi Swanson | 101 Cookbooks

I’m just home from Japan – thanks to an efficient series of buses, trains, planes, and one fabulously upholstered ferry. The trip started in Tokyo, then on to Kyoto, eventually making our way to the incredibly special island of Naoshima. While I get unpacked and settled back in to my regular routine, I thought I’d do a quick round-up of a few of my favorite soups from the archives, the ones that really stood out, the ones I love to revisit. I love a good pot of soup, and (particularly) this time of year, make them a couple times a week.

great_soup_recipes_2

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DESIGN | ARCHITECTURE

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TRADITIONAL TO CONTEMPORARY: 6 COOL CUSTOM BEDROOM LOFTS

Sometimes you have nowhere to build … but up. And really, there is something nice and relaxing about removing oneself from the main floor of a home – which can be done at times even in a one-story dwelling, as these lovely lofts illustrate.

loft-rooms

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ART

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DosVinoTaylor

Boccelli | Wooster Collective | Flickr

z

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FILM

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STRANGER THAN PARADISE

Jim Jarmusch | The Criterion Collection | Hulu

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MUSIC

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TAME IMPALA: LONERISM

Steven Moore | AV Club

Tame Impala found inspiration in both its country’s isolation and revivalist spirit for its debut, 2010’s Innerspeaker, as Kevin Parker—who writes, sings, and performs each instrumental part—anchored his detachment to a walloping mélange of early-’70s psychedelia, proto-metal, and British pop. Though the band conflated a wider set of influences than its contemporaries with stunning originality and technical ability, it was still easy to trace Innerspeaker’s strands back to their sources. The band’s latest, Lonerism, digs even deeper into those themes and sounds, and pulls out a masterful collage.


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