Here are a few bits and bobs that have tickled my fancy this week. Read and enjoy in your downtime:
"Obama's like Jesse Jackson -- what does he know except a bunch of cities with lots of blacks?" asked 60-year-old construction worker Louie, in White Branch, Mich., a lifelong Democrat who said he probably won't vote for either candidate this year.
This absorbing article in the Salon is the latest I've read on a growing theme in this year's presidential elections: there are two USAs going to vote. Which one will hold the power?
Sometimes I feel as if I'd spent the first half of my life being told, without any obvious evidence, that anything run publicly, by government or the council or whatever, had to be better than anything run commercially; and the second half being told, equally without any evidence, that anything run for private profit must be better - and evidence of the fallacy of this pious belief piles up all the time.
Katharine Whitehorn on The God That Failed.
This is where the idea of the new Tories so falls down. It's not that Cameron and his supporters don't mean what they say - they plainly do, and it's not that he's a shallow salesman, which he is, but then so was Blair. It's that their ideas are contradictory, flawed and less likely to work than Labour's.
Septicisle wonders whether the New Tories have any more of a clue than New Labour.
There are of course other differences between Kosovo and the regions of Georgia that call for independence or union with Russia. Thus Russia is not known to have a huge military base there named after a hero of the invasion of Afghanistan, comparable to Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, named after a Vietnam war hero and presumably part of the vast US basing system aimed at the Middle East energy-producing regions.
You know what you're going to get with a Noam Chomsky foreign policy article. And this one on fears of a Second Cold War will doubtless engage and infuriate as much as ever.
The Mail has a symbiotic relationship with many of its readers; they feed off the constant harping on about stealth taxes whilst the paper gets kudos for fighting for the poor motorist. Even behaviour that would normally set Mail-ites gnashing collective teeth such as law-breaking, vandalism and non-payment of taxes is seemingly condoned.
Eric the Fish meets up with an old friend - Councillor Chris Cooke, he of the "man attacked by a hedgehog in New Zealand is Gordon Brown's fault somehow" infamy.
The photgraphs have led some to believe that Cole is in fact human, and therefore susceptible to the same forces of nature as ordinary people.
The Quail on the Mail's shock report about a celebrity having once been young.
Everything in the media starts from the assumption that 'We mean well,' and from the unspoken, indeed unthought, assumption that this claim need never be questioned. This isn't just a matter of choice - career success depends on it.
I love this article from Medialens on why journalists automatically ascribe benign motivations to 'friendly' countries but hostile ones to the Bad Old Bear.
Often, the privileged will defend their place merely with a visceral howl of "It's mine!" For example, David Cameron's relative Harry Mount has written an angry article asking, "What's wrong with keeping Oxford within the family?" He admits his success at his interview was "staggeringly unfair" but went on to say the only problem is rich people can't buy preference for their children outright with "donations."
Johann Hari on the howls of protest that follow any attempt to take Oxbridge places away from the privileged private schools.
Here, nestled away, halfway through their gushing barrage of data and facts, was an unmarked confession: this entire news story was based on nothing more than random variation.
Ben Goldacre on a perfectly pointless bit of churnalism dressed up as research.