And more links (gotta clear out those bookmarks!)

First up, I have a Raleigh Public Record story on downtown development out.
•The Daily Intelligencer critiques a David Brooks column in which Brooks portrays himself (one assumes) as the “detached” writer who doesn’t choose sides in the big debates, which is boring. Instead, he’s “sparking conversations about underlying concepts, underlying reality and the underlying frame of debate.”
This is a common fantasy for pundits (and some seemingly objective journalists): They’re not ideologically aligned with either side, so that proves they’re seeing things clearly (hence statements I’ve seen in the media that off-handedly identify a particular position as “non ideological”—because they can tell when a position is purely right on the merits). Of course it doesn’t prove anything of the sort—it doesn’t even prove they’re not ideological (consider Brooks’ view that Obama by advocating for Hurricane Sandy relief is actually launching a vicious partisan attack).
Like the Intelligencer, I’m puzzled by Brooks comment that engaged writers opt to write about “topics where the battle lines are clearly drawn, not topics where there is a great deal of uncertainty.” I can’t see any reason why a “detached” writer can’t focus on a hot topic—and in fact, Brooks regularly does so, writing about the importance of deficity slashing and being a cheerleader for the Iraq war (did you know that as Iraq is a secular state, there is zero percent chance of religious war?). Both topics where the battle lines are drawn (and where Brooks can hardly pose as disinterested, since he solidly supported Bush’s brilliance on Iraq). I suspect his real point is that people who write about this stuff and aren’t him are just making slashing partisan attacks.
Slacktivist, meanwhile, revisits an old column in which he points out Brooks’ assertions about one small town are factually wrong.
•A Businessweek column argues that luck—in the sense of where you’re born and how well off your parents are—matters more than effort.
•A young Yemeni writes about the impact of US drone warfare on his country.
•A turkey processing plant that exploited mentally handicapped men for decades has to pay $240 million in fines. Of course, they haven’t paid fines they owe from previous cases, so who knows if this will be different.
•Bankers continue lamenting that $600,000 after taxes isn’t very much. My response is from a few months earlier, but still valid.
•The government still insists on its right to lock people up forever without trial. This is not a good thing. And keeping things secret.
•The National Director of Intelligence lied about the NSA collecting data on Americans. Paul Campos argues it’s a long way from proving perjury, so we should focus on the lie, not the technical legal charge.
•A federal judge has ruled that unpaid interns are being used as unpaid employees, which is illegal. And the Supreme Court has ruled that human genes can’t be patented (I posted some relevant links yesterday).

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