weekend | 20 april 2013

BOSTON

TWO BROTHERS IN MARATHON BOMBINGS TOOK TWO PATHS TO INFAMY


Jenna Russell, Jenn Abelson, Patricia Wen, Michael Rezendes, and David Filipov | The Boston Globe

The two young brothers from Cambridge seemed to be on promising paths, one a scholarship student at college, the other fighting for a national title in amateur boxing.

And then, apparently with little warning, they veered violently off track, deep into the darkness, setting off deadly bombs, authorities are convinced, at one of Boston’s most iconic and joyful events.

MESSING WITH THE WRONG CITY

Dennis Lehane | The New York Times | 16 April 2013

But I do love this city. I love its atrocious accent, its inferiority complex in terms of New York, its nut-job drivers, the insane logic of its street system. I get a perverse pleasure every time I take the T in the winter and the air-conditioning is on in the subway car, or when I take it in the summer and the heat is blasting. Bostonians don’t love easy things, they love hard things — blizzards, the bleachers in Fenway Park, a good brawl over a contested parking space. Two different friends texted me the identical message yesterday: They messed with the wrong city. This wasn’t a macho sentiment. It wasn’t “Bring it on” or a similarly insipid bit of posturing. The point wasn’t how we were going to mass in the coffee shops of the South End to figure out how to retaliate. Law enforcement will take care of that, thank you. No, what a Bostonian means when he or she says “They messed with the wrong city” is “You don’t think this changes anything, do you?”

Trust me, we won’t be giving up any civil liberties to keep ourselves safe because of this. We won’t cancel next year’s marathon. We won’t drive to New Hampshire and stockpile weapons. When the authorities find the weak and terminally maladjusted culprit or culprits, we’ll roll our eyes at whatever backward ideology they embrace and move on with our lives.

WHY BOSTON’S HOSPITALS WERE READY

Atul Gawande | The New Yorker

There’s a way such events are supposed to work. Each hospital has an incident commander who coördinates the clearing of emergency bays and hospital beds to open capacity, the mobilization of clinical staff and medical equipment for treatment, and communication with the city’s emergency command center. At my hospital, Stanley Ashley, a general surgeon and our chief medical officer, was that person. I talked to him after the event—I had been out of the city at the time of the explosions—and he told me that no sooner had he set up his command post and begun making phone calls then the first wave of victims arrived. Everything happened too fast for any ritualized plan to accommodate.

So what did you do, I asked him.

“I mostly let people do their jobs,” he said. He never needed to call anyone. Around a hundred nurses, doctors, X-ray staff, transport staff, you name it showed up as soon as they heard the news. They wanted to help, and they knew how. As one colleague put it, they did on a large scale what they knew how to do on a small scale. They broke up into teams of six or so people, one trauma team for each patient. A senior nurse and physician stood at the door to the ambulance bay triaging the patients going to the teams. The operating-room director handled triage to, and communication with, the operating rooms. Another staff member saw the need for a traffic cop and began shooing extra clinicians into the waiting room, where they could stand by to be called upon.

. . . What prepared us? Ten years of war have brought details of attacks like these to our towns through news, images, and the soldiers who saw and encountered them. Almost every hospital has a surgeon or nurse or medic with battlefield experience, sometimes several. Many also had trauma personnel who deployed to Haiti after the earthquake, Banda Aceh after the tsunami, and elsewhere. Disaster response has become an area of wide interest and study. Cities and towns have conducted disaster drills, including one in Boston I was involved in that played out the scenario of a dirty-bomb explosion at Logan Airport on an airliner from France. The Massachusetts General Hospital brought in Israeli physicians to help revamp their disaster-response planning. Richard Wolfe at the Beth Israel Deaconess recalled an emergency physician’s presentation of the medical response required after the Aurora, Colorado, movie-theatre shooting of seventy people last summer. From 9/11 to Newtown, we’ve all watched with not only horror but also grave attention the myriad ways in which the sociopathy of killers has combined with the technology of inflicting mass casualty.

We’ve learned, and we’ve absorbed. This is not cause for either celebration or satisfaction. That we have come to this state of existence is a great sadness. But it is our great fortune.

WHAT RIGHTS SHOULD DZHOKHAR TSARNAEV GET AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Glenn Greenwald | The Guardian

In a great analysis last night denouncing the DOJ’s decision to delay reading Tsarnaev his rights, Slate’s Emily Bazelon details exactly what roll-back of Miranda was achieved by Obama. Specifically, the Obama DOJ exploited and radically expanded the very narrow “public safety” exception to Miranda, which was first created in 1984 by the more conservative Supreme Court justices in New York v. Quarles, over the vehement dissent of its liberal members (Brennan, Marshall and Stevens, along with O’Connor). The Quarles court held that where police officers took a very brief period to ask focused questions necessary to stop an imminent threat to public safety without first Mirandizing the suspect, the answers under those circumstances would be admissible (in Quarles, the police apprehended a rape suspect and simply asked where his gun was before reading him his rights, and the court held that the defendant’s pre-Miranda answer – “over there” – was admissible).

The Court’s liberals, led by Justice Thurgood Marshall, warned that this exception would dilute Miranda and ensure abuse. This exception, wrote Marshall, “condemns the American judiciary to a new era of post hoc inquiry into the propriety of custodial interrogations” and “endorse[s] the introduction of coerced self-incriminating statements in criminal prosecutions”. Moreover, he wrote, the “public-safety exception destroys forever the clarity of Miranda for both law enforcement officers and members of the judiciary” and said the court’s decision “cannot mask what a serious loss the administration of justice has incurred”.

As Marshall noted, the police have always had the power to question a suspect about imminent threats without Mirandizing him; indeed, they are free to question suspects about anything without first reading them their Miranda rights. But pre-Miranda statements were not admissible, could not be used to prosecute the person. This new 1984 “public safety” exception to that long-standing rule, Marshall said, guts the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee that one will not be compelled to incriminate oneself. As he put it: “were constitutional adjudication always conducted in such an ad hoc manner, the Bill of Rights would be a most unreliable protector of individual liberties.”

As controversial as this exception was from the start (and as hated as it was among traditional, actual liberals), it was at least narrowly confined. But the Obama DOJ in 2011 wildly expanded this exception for terrorism suspects. The Obama DOJ’s Memorandum (issued in secret, of course, but then leaked) cited what it called “the magnitude and complexity of the threat often posed by terrorist organizations” in order to claim “a significantly more extensive public safety interrogation without Miranda warnings than would be permissible in an ordinary criminal case”. It expressly went beyond the “public safety” exception established by the Supreme Court to arrogate unto itself the power to question suspects about other matters without reading them their rights

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SHORT FILM

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ANGELFISH

Michael Tyburski | Vimeo

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BOOK REVIEW

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HOW TO BE MORE META-RATIONAL ABOUT POLITICS

Eli Dourado | The Ümlaut

KlingAt some point last year, Kling went through a crisis of…something…and abruptly announced that he was leaving EconLog, the blog he founded in 2003. Two months later, he reemerged at his own domain, promising to avoid a particular kind of discourse, one aimed at closing the minds of those on one’s own side. Although Kling was never among the worst offenders on this score, one could indeed sense a shift in his tone. He prioritized framing his opponents’ positions in the most favorable light, and he developed a framework for understanding political issues from progressive, conservative, and libertarian perspectives.

Kling’s new ebook, The Three Languages of Politics, is a pleasantly short, authoritative expression of the framework. Kling argues that the use of three different heuristics account for differing political beliefs. Progressives tend to respond most favorably to language that frames issues in terms of oppressed versus oppressor groups. Conservatives tend to respond to a frame of civilization versus barbarism. And libertarians, unsurprisingly, tend to respond most favorably to a frame of freedom versus coercion. By cultivating the ability to weigh political issues using all three heuristics, we can come to see our opponents’ positions as reasonable, even if we ultimately continue to believe they are wrong.

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RUBE GOLDBERG DEVICE

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A-TRAK & TOMMY TRASH: TUNA MELT

Ryan Staake | Vimeo

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MEDICINE

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WHY DOCTORS CAN’T GIVE YOU LSD (BUT MAYBE THEY SHOULD)

Shaunacy Ferro | Popular Science

When David Nichols earned a Ph.D in medicinal chemistry from the University of Iowa in 1973 by studying psychedelics, he thought he would continue studying hallucinogens indefinitely. “I thought I would work on it for the rest of my life,” he says.

His timing was less than fortuitous. In 1970, the year after Nichols started grad school, Richard Nixon signed into law the Controlled Substances Act, designed to clamp down on the manufacture and distribution of drugs in the U.S. The act classified hallucinogenic substances like LSD, DMT, psilocybin (the psychedelic alkaloid in mushrooms) and mescaline as Schedule I substances–the most restrictive use category, reserved for drugs with high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use

. . . Despite some promising results from trials of psychedelics in treating alcoholism, psychiatric conditions and modeling mental illness, by the early ’70s, the government had tightened control of Schedule I substances, even for research. It’s only now that we’re starting to return to the notion that these drugs could be medicine.

If you wanted to kill your career, you did research on psychedelics.
Starting in the early ’90s, and as more scientists prove it’s feasible, increasingly in the last decade, researchers have been approved to conduct clinical trials with human subjects, and there are promising results showing that substances like MDMA could be useful in treating depression and curing PTSD, and that classical psychedelics like psilocybin and LSD could be a way to soothe anxiety in the terminally ill, treat alcoholism and more.

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FILIBUSTER REFORM

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MUSIC

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FRIDAY NIGHT JAZZ R&B: MIGUEL: ADORN

Barry Ritholtz | The Big Picture | amazon

Take 3 parts Prince, 1 part In Living Color, add a dash of James Brown — and what you get is Miguel.

He may be that rare young artist who comes along once a decade with chops, vision, and creative conviction that gives you a glimpse of his entire career over 40 years as soon as you hear him sing.

For me, that moment was his live version of Adorn on SNL last week.

Miguel crushed it the way very few 25 year old artists ever do.

I loved the spare arrangement of Adorn. The lyrics have a joyous sultriness that just exploded off the screen. Drip his “raw honey falsetto” on top of those lyrics, painting aural portraits of loves, losses, heartbreaks and sexual fantasies. There is a dynamic tension in the song as it builds and fights tyo hold itself back before the song’s climax.

miguel

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