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Japan’s job-killing robots

Did you think Godzilla was scary? Wait until Nextage emerges fully grown from Japan:

Japanese firm Kawada Industries is on the leading edge of a growing industry that threatens to become a major disruptive force in the coming years: automated labor.

More here.

OWS vs. legalized bribery

It could be that 2011 will go down in the books as the year when even the lowest of “low-information” voters realized, thanks to the Occupy Wall Street movement, that government has become dysfunctional because the interests of our elected officials are at odds with the interests of the electorate:

From its inception, OWS has focused on the concept of legalized bribery, as the continually rising cost of a political campaign – an average of $1.4 million for a successful House run, up fourfold in real dollars since 1976, and nearly $10 million for a Senate seat – has been largely subsidized by wealthy donors, corporations and special interests, in return for legislation that favors their interests. It’s a form of regulatory capture that most first-world democracies outlaw as corruption, but that Americans know as “the way things are,” along with “ask your doctor” pharmaceutical ads and campaigns pitching products directly to young children. The result is an almost total lack of confidence in our elected officials, as reflected by Congress’ almost impossibly low 9 percent approval rating.

The fact that Congress is moving away from the rest of the public is exactly why Occupy Wall Street has found such a giant hole in the political conversation to step into, and why our national representatives have kept their distance even when polls showed the public responding powerfully to our complaints and slogans. In a true market of political ideas, we’d have been prime targets for coopting. Instead, President Obama works “99 percent” into his speeches, and business as usual continues…

Despite such indifference, Occupy Wall Street resonated where previous protests petered out by creating and holding a physical space where it was impossible to avert one’s gaze… The 99 percent rediscovered the collective power of our voice, and started using it to make a whole lot of noise… In 2012, expect to hear more of that noise from Occupy the Caucuses and Occupy Congress. Money talks, but we do too.

Good diagnosis. Now it’s time to start working on a cure.

A long time

A new Mayer Hawthorne song:

Collateral damage

I can’t stand what we’ve done to these soldiers.

Call it what you want

A band that grabbed a lot of attention this year. Foster the People:


This is one of the stranger stories I’ve ever seen:


I’m getting the health insurance in January. I can’t wait.

Also, my antibiotics are almost done. Hallelujah.

Virtually Speaking tonight

Following A to Z on Thursday, Jay hosts Eve Gittelson, who reviews the year in health care policy. Listen Live and Later. A to Z at 5pm/8pm, Jay and Eve at 6pm/9pm eastern.

Last night, for Virtually Speaking Susie 6pm pacific, 9pm eastern Stuart joined Digby and Susie Madrak explore the impact of current events on the daily lives of working class people. Turned into two hours with plenty to chew on. Listen live and later

Politicians and celebrity suckers

Daniel Craig recently sounded off about politicians who pretend to be hip and progressive in order to win the favor of liberal-minded celebrities. Matt Damon was even more blunt. More here.

Weight loss and gain

Photo by Tibor Végh

Why it’s a lot more complicated than “calories in vs. calories out.” Go read it, it’s really interesting:

In a seminal series of experiments published in the 1990s, the Canadian researchers Claude Bouchard and Angelo Tremblay studied 31 pairs of male twins ranging in age from 17 to 29, who were sometimes overfed and sometimes put on diets. (None of the twin pairs were at risk for obesity based on their body mass or their family history.) In one study, 12 sets of the twins were put under 24-hour supervision in a college dormitory. Six days a week they ate 1,000 extra calories a day, and one day they were allowed to eat normally. They could read, play video games, play cards and watch television, but exercise was limited to one 30-minute daily walk. Over the course of the 120-day study, the twins consumed 84,000 extra calories beyond their basic needs.

That experimental binge should have translated into a weight gain of roughly 24 pounds (based on 3,500 calories to a pound). But some gained less than 10 pounds, while others gained as much as 29 pounds. The amount of weight gained and how the fat was distributed around the body closely matched among brothers, but varied considerably among the different sets of twins. Some brothers gained three times as much fat around their abdomens as others, for instance. When the researchers conducted similar exercise studies with the twins, they saw the patterns in reverse, with some twin sets losing more pounds than others on the same exercise regimen. The findings, the researchers wrote, suggest a form of “biological determinism” that can make a person susceptible to weight gain or loss.

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