The Best Stuff We've Read This Week

Great articles on the Mothman, brand flops, online sleuthing, CIA anthropology and more stuff.

The Best Stuff We've Read This Week

Each week Josh and Chuck read tons of articles, plenty of the good. Here are the best of the bunch for your reading enjoyment.

Just wanted to be sure everyone had heard about this. On December 31, a U.S. Federal District Court judge threw out manslaughter and weapons charges against five Blackwater Worldwide (now Xe Services) contractors who opened fire on a busy traffic circle in Baghdad in September 2007. The contractors (Blackwater/Xe tends to recruit former Delta Force heavies) were were found to have fired indiscriminately, unprovoked and unjustified on Iraqi civilians in the crowded square with automatic weapons and rocket launchers.

Just when you thought Iraq was making some genuine progress toward a free society comes this story from about the torturing and killing of suspected homosexual men in Iraq. They report that hundreds of men have been victim to such treatment in recent months. What's even more troubling is that the new government in Iraq seems to be turning a blind eye to this travesty of human rights. While government officials claim to be against this kind of thing, they're quick to accept any responsibility, saying that they are unable to provide special protection for them. Four anonymous victims were interviewed for the piece and they relate stories about how the violence against them has increased in recent months.

You remember Matthew Lesko, that guy on TV in the purple suit with question marks all over it who used to yell from the steps of the Capitol building about his amazing programs to make free money off the federal government? Get $100,000 to write a book! Yadda, etc. I never bought his book because, you know, I'm not a sucker, and I've just learned I made the right choice. The cat is out of the bag and Matthew Lesko isn't holding all of the power for once in my life. Forget going to the trouble of writing a book or filling out all those tedious grant applications. The real money's in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Associated Press reports this morning about a report (which is their way) issued by the Wartime Contracting Commission over the lack of federal oversight on the tens, nay hundreds, of billions of dollars being thrown at the problem. Turns out, there's no oversight at all.

Let me just begin this post by saying that I detest math. I'm not good at it and lucky for me, I don't need to be. Having said that, this story from Sweden puts a smile on my face. A 16 year-old Iraqi immigrant living in Sweden named Mohamed Altoumaimi has solved out a math problem that has vexed the best mathematics minds for 300 years. It took him about four months. What he did was come up with a formula that explains and simplifies the "Bernoulli numbers."