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SEATTLE (AP) The Seattle Seahawks are bringing their game-changing defense — and the 12th Man — to the Big Apple for the Super Bowl.

Seattle’s top-ranked defense forced three fourth-quarter turnovers, and Russell Wilson threw a 35-yard touchdown pass on fourth down for the winning points in a 23-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers for the NFC title Sunday.

Seattle will meet Denver (15-3) for the NFL title in two weeks in the New Jersey Meadowlands. It’s the first trip to the big game for the Seahawks (15-3) since they lost to Pittsburgh after the 2005 season.

The conference champs had the best records in the league this year, the first time the top seeds have gotten to the Super Bowl since the 2010 game.

Moments after Richard Sherman tipped Colin Kaepernick‘s pass to teammate Malcolm Smith for the clinching interception, the All-Pro cornerback jumped into the stands behind the end zone, saluting the Seahawks’ raucous fans. With 12th Man flags waving everywhere, and “New York, New York” blaring over the loudspeakers, CenturyLink Field rocked like never before.

“That’s as sweet as it gets,” Sherman said.

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Obama Compares Pro Football to Smoking, Says He Wouldn’t Let Son Play

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Comparing professional football to boxing and smoking, President Barack Obama said that if he had a son he would not let him play pro football because of the risk of concussions. Last year, Obama said that he would have to think “long and hard” before he would let his son play football.

“I would not let my son play pro football,” Obama told the New Yorker in a lengthy piece that was published on Sunday. “But, I mean, you wrote a lot about boxing, right? We’re sort of in the same realm.”

Obama then compared playing professional football to smoking.

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Enthusiasm on the Left: Like a Bubble About to Burst

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Michael Goodwin  writes:  Thanks to the recession, we all know about financial bubbles and the damage they cause. But are there such things as political bubbles? I say yes, and believe America is in the midst of one now.

The idea grows out of a book that dissects a financial bubble that popped nearly 300 years ago. In “The Great Mirror of Folly: Finance, Culture and the Crash of 1720,” three Yale professors recount how stocks in France, Britain and the Netherlands soared by 1,000 percent, then crashed.

The authors, according to a Wall Street Journal article, don’t accuse investors of being irrational. They included Isaac Newton and believed new corporate structures would protect them and that trade with the New World marked a global transformation.

In the long run, they were right. But caught up in market mania and blind faith in momentum, they dramatically overpaid for stocks.

That is common bubble behavior, but a similar mania can happen in political movements and turn them into bubbles, too.

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Population Declining in States with Relatively High Dependence on Government

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Michael Barone  writes:  The Census Bureau’s holiday treat is its release of annual state population estimates, to be digested slowly in the new year.

The headline from this year’s release is that population growth from July 2012 to July 2013 was 0.72 percent, lower than in the two preceding years and the lowest since the Great Depression 1930s.

This reflects continuing low, below-replacement-rate birth rates and lower immigration than in 1982-2007. Net immigration from Mexico evidently continues to be zero.

The Census Bureau reports that only 4.8 million Americans moved across state lines in 2012 -- about half the percentage that did so in the boom years of the 1990s. (Thinkstock Image)

The Census Bureau reports that only 4.8 million Americans moved across state lines in 2012 — about half the percentage that did so in the boom years of the 1990s. (Thinkstock Image)

The nation’s economy may be growing again, but Americans — and potential Americans — are not acting like it. There’s a parallel here with poll results showing that majorities still believe we are in a recession that the National Bureau of Economic Research says ended in June 2009, nearly five years ago.

Sluggish population growth is matched by sluggish geographic mobility. The Census Bureau reports that only 4.8 million Americans moved across state lines in 2012 — about half the percentage that did so in the boom years of the 1990s.

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‘I Think A Lot Of The Privacy People Don’t Understand That We Still Occupy The Role Of The Great Satan’

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From NRO’s The CornerBetsy Woodruff  writes:  Dianne Feinstein decried NSA critics on Meet the Press this morning, saying the government is much less intrusive than corporations and that privacy advocates don’t understand the extent of the threat that terrorism poses to the United States.

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Pot Advocates Rooting for Denver-Seattle ‘Super Oobie Doobie Bowl’

Photo: @Mranglin Twitter

Photo: @Mranglin Twitter

Marijuana advocates are hoping that the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos make it to the Super Bowl so they can have what may be dubbed the “Marijuana Bowl” in the Super Bowl.

Colorado and Washington are the only two states where recreational marijuana is legalized, and Allen St. Pierre, the executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Lawstold Fox News that a Denver-Seattle Super Bowl will be a Super Bowl that features “the two most pro-cannabis-legalization cities in the US.”

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Consider: The History of Velveeta

Is there anything the Smithsonian doesn’t cover?

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Melted Americana 

Natasha Geiling  writes:  Just in time for the biggest dip day of the year, Kraft Foods announced that Americans might notice a distinct lack of Velveeta on their grocery store shelves. Following an announcement by the company, which noted that consumers in some states might have a hard time finding their liquid gold cheese in the coming weeks, the Internet wasted no time in completely freaking out, dubbing the shortage “Cheesepocalypse” on Twitter and creating imitation Velveeta-dip recipes on Lifehacker. There’s even a website, Cheesepocalypse.org, which shows a map of the conversation about the Velveeta shortage by pulling geographic information via Twitter (currently, users are talking most about the shortage in places like Massachusetts and Maryland).* In reality, people looking to munch on a chip with dip might have to resort to traditional cheese for their melty concoctions–which, while reassuringly natural, will also mean less-than-velvety texture for a lot of Super Bowl dips.

It’s an unfortunate reality that cheese, when melted, becomes imperfect–it pools oil (more, the fattier it is) and coagulates quickly, turning a once molten bowl of queso dip into a sad stringy mess. Seekers of gooey cheese can work around this by using a young cheese or a less-fatty cheese, but sometimes, standard hacks just won’t cut it: enter Velveeta, a cheese named for the fact that it melts so smooth.

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Wife of India Minister Found Dead after Twitter Conflict

Sunanda Puskhar Tharoor, right, wife of India's Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor, poses with her husband at the Indian F1 Grand Prix outside New Delhi, October 27, 2013. Sunanda, 52, was found dead in a New Delhi hotel room Friday, police said, days after she was involved in a row with a Pakistani woman on Twitter.

Sunanda Puskhar Tharoor, right, wife of India’s Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor, poses with her husband at the Indian F1 Grand Prix outside New Delhi, October 27, 2013. Sunanda, 52, was found dead in a New Delhi hotel room Friday, days after she was involved in a row with a Pakistani woman on Twitter.

William M. Welch  reports:  Abhinav Kumar, a minister’s aide, said that Tharoor and his wife had moved into the five-star hotel Thursday while their home was being painted. The minister first thought his wife was sleeping when he returned to their suite Friday night after a meeting, but she was found dead, he said.

Pushkar on Thursday gave a series of rambling interviews to Indian TV stations in which she said did not plan to leave her husband.

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House Intelligence Chairman: Russian Spies Helped Edward Snowden Hack NSA

NSA leaker Edward Snowden looks down during a press conference at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport on July 12. (AP Photo/Human Rights Watch, Tanya Lokshina)

NSA leaker Edward Snowden looks down during a press conference at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport on July 12. (AP Photo/Human Rights Watch, Tanya Lokshina)

Joel Gehrke  reports:   National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden had outside help, perhaps from Russian spies, according to the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

“This was a thief, who we believe had some help, who stole information the vast majority had nothing to do with privacy.” Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., who heads up the intel panel, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” in an interview that will air Sunday. “Our ArmyNavyAir ForceMarines have been incredibly harmed by the data that he has taken with him and we believe now is in the hands of nation-states.” NBC released an excerpt of the interview late Saturday.

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Paris 1963: Beatnik Paradise

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eisenstaedt:

Parisian beatniks hanging out on bank of the Seine. Paris, France. 1963.

vintage everyday


Report: Japan Developing Electrodynamic Tether for Space Junk Cleanup

This NASA graphic depicts the amount of space junk currently orbiting Earth. The debris field is based on data from NASA's Orbital Debris Program Office. Image released on May 1, 2013.

This NASA graphic depicts the amount of space junk currently orbiting Earth. The debris field is based on data from NASA’s Orbital Debris Program Office. Image released on May 1, 2013.

Miriam Kramer  reports:  Japanese scientists are getting ready to launch a test of a space junk-cleaning tether, according to press reports.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) researchers are developing an electrodynamic tether designed to generate electricity that will slow down space-based debris, according to a report from Agence France Presse.

The slowed-down space junk will fall into lower and lower orbits until burning up harmlessly in Earth’s atmosphere.

[Photos: Space Debris Images & Clean Up]

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Geoffrey Hinton: The Man Google Hired to Make AI a Reality

Geoff Hinton, the AI guru who now works for Google. Photo: Josh Valcarcel/WIRED

Geoff Hinton, the AI guru who now works for Google. Photo: Josh Valcarcel/WIRED

Daniela Hernandez  writes:  Geoffrey Hinton was in high school when a friend convinced him that the brain worked like a hologram.

To create one of those 3-D holographic images, you record how countless beams of light bounce off an object and then you store these little bits of information across a vast database. While still in high school, back in 1960s Britain, Hinton was fascinated by the idea that the brain stores memories in much the same way. Rather than keeping them in a single location, it spreads them across its enormous network of neurons.

‘I get very excited when we discover a way of making neural networks better — and when that’s closely related to how the brain works.’

This may seem like a small revelation, but it was a key moment for Hinton — “I got very excited about that idea,” he remembers. “That was the first time I got really into how the brain might work” — and it would have enormous consequences. Inspired by that high school conversation, Hinton went on to explore neural networks at Cambridge and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and by the early ’80s, he helped launch a wildly ambitious crusade to mimic the brain using computer hardware and software, to create a purer form of artificial intelligence we now call “deep learning.”

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US military Begins Purchasing and Testing Smart Rifles

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Reports coming out of the Las Vegas SHOT gun show this week indicate the U.S. military has purchased and is testing smart rifles for use in the field.

According to a Military.com interview with TrackingPoint, Inc., the Army bought six different smart rifles from the company for a price of $10,000 to $27,000, each of which includes a built-in Linux-based computer that uses sensors and scopes to maximize accuracy amidst a variety of conditions like terrain, weather and even the Earth’s rotation.

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Real Life Mowgli: Girl Who Grew Up in the African Wildlife

Amazing series of photographs. Here’s just a few…

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Riding a five-ton elephant, whom she called ‘my brother’, chilling with a cheetah or hugging a giant bullfrog as if it were a Teddy bear. The childhood of a French girl Tippi Degre sounds more like a newer version of Mowgli, rather than something real.

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A white child, she was born in Namibia to French wildlife photographer parents, and grew up in Africa.

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Film History: François Truffaut’s 12-Hour Interview with Alfred Hitchcock (1962)

hitchtruffaut

Got 12 hours to spare? Love movie history? Truffaut’s interview with legendary director Alfred Hitchcock isn’t for casual film hobbyists, it’s for heavyweights, hardcore cinema enthusiasts. Or Truffaut admirers with a Hitchcock itch.

From Open Culture:

 Back in 1962, François Truffaut, the inspiration behind French New Wave cinema, met with Hitchcock. And, assisted by a helpful translator, the two directors talked through Hitchcock’s life and vast filmography, moving from his early films shot it Britain (BlackmailThe 39 StepsSecret Agent), to his later Hollywood productions – North by NorthwestPsycho and Vertigo. In total, Truffaut and Hitchcock talked for over 12 hours, and, several years later, Truffaut published a now classic book based on these conversations: Alfred Hitchcock: A Definitive Study (1967).

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Obama: Leading from Behind on NSA

Obama_RunningGary Schmitt  writes:  Thankfully, President Obama is not a doctor.  If he was and you happened to visit him in his office and mentioned that you were worried about the potential for lung cancer, he’d immediately put you under, open you up, and pull out a lung—or, at least, that’s the logic that seems to be guiding his decisions on NSA’s collection programs.  Yes, no one has found any evidence that NSA has broken the law, invaded constitutionally-protected privacy rights, or is about to.  But never mind, it’s the very possibility that someday, somehow, NSA will jump the tracks that requires the president now to unduly complicate the use of what he admits has been an important counterterrorism tool.

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Kingly Legislation: Voters Can Put Martin Luther King’s Words into Practice by Outlawing Government Racial Preferences

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Roger Clegg & Hans A. von Spakovsky write:  Americans overwhelmingly agree that discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, or gender is wrong — whether it is the politically correct version that discriminates against whites, and often Asians (particularly in college admissions), by giving preferences to other racial or ethnic groups like blacks and Hispanics, or the old-fashioned, politically incorrect version that discriminates against African Americans and other ethnic minorities, which the civil-rights movement fought in the 1960s. Americans today still want to “live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” to quote the man we honor this weekend.

For example, a Washington Post/ABC News poll released in June 2013 showed that three-quarters of Americans (76 percent) “oppose race-based college admissions.” That includes “eight in 10 whites and African Americans and almost seven in 10 Hispanics,” as well as “at least two-thirds of Democrats, Republicans, and independents.” A similar Gallup poll found that two-thirds of Americans “believe that college applicants should be admitted solely based on merit” and that their racial background should not be taken into account.

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Dostoevsky the Doodler: Elaborate Drawings Discovered in His Manuscripts

DosteovskyDoodles1

  writes:  Few would argue against the claim that Fyodor Dostoevsky, author of such bywords for literary weightiness as Crime and PunishmentThe Idiot, and The Brothers Karamazov, mastered the novel, even by the formidable standards of 19th-century Russia. But if you look into his papers, you’ll find that he also had an intriguing way with pen and ink outside the realm of letters — or, if you like, deep inside the realm of letters, since to see drawings by Dostoevsky, you actually have to look within the manuscripts of his novels.

DostoevskyDoodles2

 

Above, we have a page from Crime and Punishment into which a pair of solemn faces (not that their mood will surprise enthusiasts of Russian literature) found their way.

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Hong Kong Raid on Public Toilet Brothels

The mostly-deserted shopping mall, which housed the brothels, was spread over several floors of a building in Yuen Long

The mostly-deserted shopping mall, which housed the brothels, involved several floors of a building in Yuen Long

CrackdownHong Kong police have raided triad gang-run brothels operating out of converted public toilets in an unused shopping mall, reports say.

Dozens were held at a building in the Yuen Long area. They face charges including keeping a vice establishment and membership of a triad society.

Many of the women held are thought to be from mainland China.

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[VIDEO] Late Night Jazz: Dave Brubeck Quartet – “Blue Rondo à la Turk” Live

From the YouTube description:

Circa 1959. Excellent live performance for broadcast. Time signature is 9/8 with a 4/4 swing. Paul Desmond is smooth (as always) on alto. Dave Brubeck plays a very energetic piano solo. Keep an eye out for the smoking babes.

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