Category Archives: War on Terror

Tuesday Linkorama

  • An interesting article on how child abuse panic is keeping men out of the childcare industry. My daughter had a male teacher at her school for a while. She really liked him and it was good to see her having a male role model in her life beyond me. But I also admired the man’s courage; I would not put myself in such a vulnerable position.
  • One of my favorite things to do as a grad student was to look up heavily referenced papers to see if they said what people said they said. At least a quarter of the time, they didn’t. Maggie McNeill just dug up a 30-year-old bit of Mathematical Malpractice that’s been cited incorrectly in support of innumerable bad laws.
  • A frustrating story about why we can’t watch WKRP in its original format. We really have to do something about fair use. The Republicans indicated that they might; then ran away from that position.
  • This video, of a hilarious bug in the FIFA 2012 video game, had me giggling.
  • I have to disagree with almost everything in this article claiming the alcohol industry is trying to make us drunks. It assumes alcoholism is entirely a function of government policy. And it mainly reads like a press release from the powerful forces trying to overturn the SCOTUS decision on out-of-state liquor importation, an issue of particular relevance to Pennsylvania.
  • Is airport security taking more lives than it is saving? Seems like.
  • I’ve been sitting on this story, about how doctor witheld information about a child’s medical future from the parents, for a while, trying to think of a way to approach it. Might still write a long form post. But I default to thinking people have a right to know. To presume to make that decision for them is arrogance. As our diagnostic tools get better, we need to give people the legal option: do you want know if we find anything bad? What happens if a cure is invented and this kid doesn’t know that he needs one?
  • Tuesday Linkorama

  • Paul Ryan and the Republicans appear to be backing down on DADT. About time.
  • Apparently, there is a new blood test that could detect some types of cancer.
  • Yeah, I never thought much of the writing fever approach to teaching writing skills. You learn to play music by learning scales. You learn writing by learning vocabulary, grammar and sentence construction.
  • A fascinating profile of one of the CIA’s operatives. What’s telling is precisely why we provide aide to loathsome regimes.
  • Hmmm. Kids getting their grandparents’ Holocaust tattoos.
  • Friday Linkorama


  • I encountered this problem with my own child. Some pediatricians are simply obsessed with child growth charts, even to the point of stupidity. We had one pediatrician — who we quickly dumped — freak out because Abby was supposedly way too short for age. It turned out they’d put her height in as centimeters instead of inches. It was simply bizarre watching this medical professional insist that our daughter, one of the tallest in her class, was dangerously short. We quickly switched to one who uses the charts for reference but is not defined by them.
  • The most telling part of this story, about Iran banning women from certain college majors, is the note that Iranian women were massively outperforming their male counterparts. Can’t have that, can we?! Looks like the Islamists are figuring out what the Communists did: when you educate a person, they are halfway to freedom.
  • I’m of two minds about peoples who have not contacted civilization. On the one hand, I don’t like forcing civilization on people. On the other, there seems a bit of condescension in the “don’t disturb their culture” mentality.
  • This article, in which Megan McArdle argues that we like to be conned, seems dead accurate to me. Gregg Easterbrook has made the same argument. Bubbles don’t happen because people are stupid. Bubbles happen because people are greedy. They know, deep down, it’s an illusion; but they keep hoping the roof won’t cave in on them.
  • The Looming Tower

    The Shakespeare Project has gotten delayed because I’ve been immersed in several other books. The Millenium Trilogy consumed a few weeks. It’s good, but not great. Larsson is skilled at building tension and drama, but the Gary Stuish nature of the protagonist threw me off as did the wallowing in sexual depravity (and moral color-coding of same: all the bad guys are sexual perverts; none of the good guys are).

    But I just finished a great non-fiction book called The Looming Tower. Here’s the review I just posted to Goodreads.

    Even though it’s five years old, this is probably the most important book you will ever read about 9/11. It only has a small section on the actual attack. The bulk of the book is about the rise of Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden and the frustrating bureaucratic rules that kept key information away from the people who might have prevented the attack. The CIA does not come off well in this portrayal.

    Having read it, I feel I have a good read on Osama bin Laden. Without him, the Jihadists would probably still be killing each other and blowing up their own countries. It was he who united them and pointed their guns at the West. Even though it was ten years too late, his death was a critical blow to Islamic terrorism.

    But it also paints a broad picture of him that demonstrates what he really was: a charismatic ideology-addled rich kid who devoted himself to a radical ideal even he could not live up to but persuaded stupid young men to sacrifice themselves for. bin Laden believed in a system that reduced women to little more that possessions and forbad any pleasures, especially Western ones. But he married educated women, one of whom had a doctorate, he educated his daughters, played video games with his sons and listened to Western music. His beliefs were so absurd, even he rejected them in his life. It’s astonishing that only a few people realized just how dangerous and evil he was.

    The most frustrating part of the book is the prelude to 9/11, when the CIA had the information that could have spoiled the plot, but refused to share it with the FBI because of “the wall” and their pathological secrecy. Why on Earth Ali Soufan was not made head of our anti-terrorism efforts boggles the mind.

    Weekend Linkorama

    Non-political links:

  • And now … low salt diets are bad for you.
  • I found this article, from Vanity Fair about the Playboy Clubs of the 60’s oddly fascinating, and not just because of my generalized interest in the opposite gender. Doubtless the clubs were bad bad things. They certainly wouldn’t function today — they’d get justifiably eaten by sexual harassment laws. But the 60’s and 70’s were interesting times in terms of sex. Mad Men, to my understanding, mines that particular retro-chic vein very well. The article also reminds me of the near-innocence in the early days of commercialized sex that has been lost as it has become ubiquitous. Hef, at least in the early days, was great at up-marketing porn. The magazine had legitimately great articles (for which they paid a fortune to writers). Early pictorials were far more tasteful and coy than today and the clubs, from the description, played to that aesthetic. Plus, how cool would it have been to see Aretha Franklin give only her second public performance?
  • On the flip side of that, Cracked dissects one of the most disturbing romance/sex writers out there. Egad.
  • And just to round out a gender-conscious linkorama: this comes from the Fanatics Come in All Faiths file. Hillary Clinton has been photoshopped out of a White House picture.
  • Political Links:

  • Egad. Sugar interests vs. corn interests. Who to cheer for?
  • Of the many things our government could be worrying about, why is raw milk even on the list?
  • A touching note on forgiving bin Laden from a 9/11 survivor.
  • Half of Detroit can’t read. The city is spending $13,000 per pupil on their schooling system. Can we maybe admit that money isn’t the limiting factor here?
  • Wednesday Linkorama

    Non-political links:

  • Great news that our fish stocks are recovering.
  • Some interesting pushback on the idea that parenting doesn’t matter.
  • Orac has fun with the latest blast of toxin hysteria.
  • Some follow-up on the principles of the Duke Lacrosse case.
  • Political Links:

  • Two of the most arrogant men in Congress push a “privacy bill” that exempts government. I would much rather have Amazon collating information about me than the FBI.
  • The latest shut up and do what we say from TSA.
  • Usual statement: what this guy did was stupid, but it doesn’t warrant the severity of the reaction.
  • Mathematical Malpractice Watch: Torture Edition

    You know, I’d drafted an entire post about why the Red Cross’ poll showing that young people support torture was bullshit. And then one of Sully’s readers beat me to it. The only thing he left out is that RC poll has no longitudinal information to support the conclusions many commenters have thrown at it. That is, it has no read on whether support for torture has waxed or waned to back up the contention that some sort of post-9/11 PTSD is causing young people to support torture today.

    I would add that the results is unsurprising. Being pro-torture is instinctive to human beings. Indeed, that’s why we place such generous boundaries around acceptable behavior — to avoid people falling into the bottomless dark well that lies in all human hearts. Being anti-torture is a much more difficult position to get to. It requires knowing how intelligence work is done in real life — as opposed to how it is done in movies. It requires a more complex morality than hurting those who’ve hurt you. Those attitudes are not created by age and life experience, but are often strengthened by them. It’s why soldiers and intelligence experts oppose torture.

    Honestly, I’d be surprised if a poll showed anything else.

    Friday Linkorama

    Non-political Links:

  • Yet another epic fail from NYT.
  • This is why one of the great moments in my life was the day I had my own laundry room.
  • The happiest man in America, apparently.
  • Political Links:

  • It’s not a good idea to have very few IPOs on Wall Street. It means more of our economy is being controlled by fewer people. Blame Sarbanes-Oxley.
  • Hugo Chavez, probably joking, says capitalism killed life on Mars. It would be funny except that communism, like the kind he supports, killed tens of millions right here on planet Earth.
  • The best thing about Barack Obama’s turn against civil liberties, embrace of War on Terror excesses and starting of an unapproved war in Libya is that it has exposed many of Bush’s critics for the partisan shills that they were (while also highlighting those who had genuine principles). The worst thing about it is that it has caused Bush’s minions to gloat about how right they were, even as every day that passes proves how wrong they were. Obama had a chance to change the course of history; his decisions have instead sealed in place the dumb decisions that Bush made. In my book, that’s almost worse.
  • Coal. vs. Nukes. A comparison.
  • Weekend Linkorama

    Non-political links:

  • Well, there goes my month.
  • This ability of people who talk completely out of their ass to land gigs advising people on subjects about which they know nothing is astounding. A generation ago, it was ritual child abuse. Now it’s terrorism.
  • Political Links:

  • While I think Radley Balko has a point that the harsh (but not torturous) treatment of Bradley Manning is because he exposed public officials as petty and crude, I suspect the larger factor is that Manning is in military confinement. They tend to take a much harsher view of those who betray trust. And they act accordingly.
  • Yet more on why free trade is awesome. The telling fact: ipad’s supposedly add to our trade deficit by being manufactured overseas. But that $6.50 of trade “deficit” enables $178 of prosperity in this country.
  • The New York Times twists itself into pretzels trying to sustain their liberal ideology.
  • I don’t think the rise in minimum wage is the reason low-wage jobs have disappeared. But it hasn’t helped.
  • Barack Obama, Defender of Science, is forbidding research into whether medical marijuana works. For the children!
  • Thursday Long-Form Linkorama

    Honestly, I sometimes think a least a third of the people in his country need to be kept away from policy, blogs and heavy equipment.

    Non-political links:

  • Megan McArdle has a great post up about the AOL-HuffPo thing. What struck me was when I clicked through to see AOL’s internal business plans and documents. It was so opaque and filled with such jargon, I felt an awful confusion that harked back to my days in quantum mechanics class. It’s no wonder American business in general and AOL in specific are struggling. Further reading here about just how dumb corporate culture can be.
  • Dear Failblog/Funny or Die: while I found Aguilera’s mess-up of the national anthem amusing, you posted the wrong clip, including the wrong subtitles. Epic fail, assholes.
  • A nice graphical fisking of the latest hysteria. This one targets Fox News, but really it could be anyone. No one does any reporting anymore before they hit the panic button. If it bleeds, or could bleed, or may have bled, or was near something that bled — it leads.
  • Political links:

  • Another reason to like the UK’s new government.
  • The latest craze in Washington: try to figure just WTF Sarah Palin is on about.
  • I find this breathless post about how the Muslim Brotherhood wants to take over America hilarious. These guys can’t even take over Egypt and I’m supposed to be worried about them taking over America? I find that as realistic as revolutionary Marxists on college campi planning to trash the system, man.
  • And yet more breathless panting about third-hand smoke. I love how they say, “we’ve found nicotine in the urine of children” and make no mention of what level they’ve found it at. Trace amounts of chemicals are no necessarily dangerous.
  • Saturday Long Form Linkorama

    Non-political links:

  • The abandoned Project Buran. The photos of the cockpit are particularly striking.
  • I was going to respond to the absurd charge that the information age has not improved our economy. Fortunately, Sully’s readers got there first. From my perspective, the information age has created an explosion of astronomy, multiplying our productivity by orders of magnitude. The mission on which I work would not have been remotely possible 20 years ago.
  • Meh. I’m not surprised that many gain little from college. College has become very hit or miss. It’s possible, if you work hard, to get a great education in just about any college or university. It’s also possible to spend four years drinking and partying and learn nothing.
  • Political Links:

  • Just a friendly reminder of why the GOP should not be put back in charge of the War on Terror. And another of why Obama is little better. This too.
  • Stuff like this is why I’m really warming to Chris Christie.
  • Greenwald tears into Joe Lieberman. I would agree with most of it and add, from my conservative-libertarian perspective, that Lieberman is also an uber Nanny-Stater who despises personal freedom and see few limits to the power and scope of goverment. I never understood his popularity with the Right.
  • Read how Ohio’s green energy initiative could have lead to deforesting the state. This is why the government should not run energy policy.
  • Another perspective on the “agreement” between the Obamas and Walmart on healthy foods. Always follow the money.
  • Midweek Linkorama

  • I just ran across this quote from OSU president Gordon Gee who earlier this year derided TCU and Boise State’s chances at a title by talking about how great his team’s schedule was. This year, Ohio State played eight games at home, four on the road. They paid three teams — Eastern Michigan, Ohio and Marshall — to come to Columbus and get pounded. Say what you want about mid-major schools; they work hard to make their schedule stronger, not weaker.
  • Political Links:

  • I wonder if the people who talked about the badly flawed Scottish study which claimed massive drops in heart attacks due to smoking bans will talk about the first comprehensive study, which shows no improvement. Naaah.
  • I am not surprised that TSA is trolling blogs. They’re certainly not making the country more secure.
  • How much do bad teachers cost us? Try $100 trillion.
  • Long Form Linkorama

  • I’m a second amendment supporter. I like guns. I’ve never hunted but have enthusiasm for it. Still, the practice of canned hunts, in which “hunters” go after game that is tamed, drugged or confined, make me sick. I don’t think it should be banned — it’s a free country. But it ain’t hunting. At best, it’s outdoor butchery.
  • Lenore Skenazy wraps up the year. I can’t tell you how much I love her blog. As a parent, I’m beset with people trying to frighten me.
  • Political links:

  • A lot of conservative blogs have been posting pictures of Bush with the caption, “Miss me yet?” My answer: No fucking way.
  • I do hate being right all the time. As I said during the healthcare debate, preventative medicine save lives, not money. It costs more in the long run. Dying is cheap; living is expensive.
  • This is disgusting. An Ivy League school uses its wealth and influence to force people to sell their land to it.
  • I love this. One of the more responsible stores in terms of factory conditions is … Walmart.
  • Cracked debunks myths about Islam. The veil thing was something I didn’t know.
  • Friday Linkorama

    Non-political links:

  • I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: ancient people were much more clever than they are given credit for. This is why “aliens built the pyramids” and similar conspiracy theories enrage me. It’s insulting to the clever people who lived in the past and arrogant by the people who live in the present.
  • This is a joke. Right? Right?!
  • Political Links:

  • Dissecting the lies about Wikileaks.
  • Just some facts about how effective civilian trials of terrorists are.
  • You’re Full of It Watch: Neal Boortz. In one blog post, he rants that the deficit commission does not cut spending and then blasts them for controlling Medicare spending, even claiming Palin’s “death panels” comments is now justified.
  • Yet more terrible decisions from CSPIA.
  • And again, I ask — what is the use of Democrats if they are going to be worse than Republicans on criminal justice issues.