On electing judges

One of the things that shocked me when I first came to the US was the practice of electing judges. While I can understand that appointing judges can lead to insider cronyism, it should be possible to find a way to ensure that competent and reasonably impartial people can be found to serve as judges without putting them through the inherently corrupting process of raising money for elections and then pandering to low-information voters.
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Being obsessed about what happened to Malaysian flight MH370

The story of the plane that mysteriously disappeared last March and was never found has gone from the news pages, consigned to be one of those stories that we will never find the truth about. While this story captivated many people around the world for a while, most people have gone on to other things.

But not all.

There is still a small group of people who are painstakingly going over the most minute bits of information, trying to figure out the truth.
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Trouble at First Look Media

The new media group First Look Media formed by former eBay billionaire Pierre Omidyar that hired a group of first-rate independent-minded journalists like Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, Laura Poitras, Dan Froomkin, and Pater Mass has run into trouble, with charges of extremely poor behavior by upper management being made by departed staffers. The original plan was to create a set of digital magazines serving diverse needs and I had great hopes for this venture as providing a much needed alternative to the government-corporate friendly establishment media.
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Why English spelling is so quirky

Thanks to reader Jeff, I became aware of this interesting article in The Atlantic by Luba Vangelova that tries to explain why English spelling is so quirky compared to other languages, making it a nightmare to learn, and resulting in children in English-speaking nations trailing those in other countries when it comes to literacy.

Why is English so different?
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Snowden documentary wins Oscar

Laura Poitras won an Academy Award yesterday for her documentary Citizenfour about Edward Snowden that I reviewed favorably. In this photo from the awards ceremony last night, we see the three winners: producer Dirk Wilutzky (far left), Poitras next to him, and editor Mathilde Bonnefoy (far right). Glenn Greenwald and Snowden’s girlfriend Lindsay Mills (who now lives with him in Moscow most of the time) joined them on the stage
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Climate change skeptic ‘scientist’ revealed to be on payroll of energy industry

The parallels between climate change deniers and those skeptics who argued that tobacco was not a health hazard are becoming more apparent every day. The tobacco industry spent huge sums of money to conduct their own ‘research’ and used the pronouncements of friendly scientists whom they had funded to argue that whether smoking was dangerous was an open question that was still unresolved, that the jury was out, and hence no action should be taken until further research was done, with that horizon constantly receding.
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Respect my authoritah!

The issue of police brutality has been in the news these days. My local newspaper the Plain Dealer on Sunday February 15, 2015 had an excellent special section dealing with all the lawsuits filed against the Cleveland police department that has resulted in $8 million being paid to those who sued them. This investigation was sparked by the killing of the young boy Tamir Rice and the harsh indictment by the Justice Department of the way the police act here, saying that it has a habit of using excessive force. The stories and photos of the bruised victims should be an eye-opener for people here.
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Hello again, American Pie

The song American Pie was, despite its unusually long 8½ minutes, a big hit for Don McLean when he released it in 1971. It was a big hit in Sri Lanka too and I liked it a lot. The words were strange, lurching from one mental image to another seemingly with no connection, but I didn’t worry about it, just enjoying the bouncy beat. You can read the lyrics here or read it along with hearing the song below.
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Racist soccer fans

The world of soccer just had another case where British fans disgraced themselves. White Chelsea supporters attending a game in Paris repeatedly blocked a black man from entering the Metro, shouting racist slurs at him and chanting “We’re racist, we’re racist, and that’s the way we like it”. A bystander on the platform recorded the event and uploaded it and it went viral.
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