Weekend Linkorama

  • The Fed buyout of foreclosed properties is chasing away buyers who do not have powerful political connections. Again, we see the Dave Barry Principle at work. ‘People are suffering and predator lenders/speculators are making lots of money. The feds want in on that!’
  • Paul Krugman: rapidly becoming a punch line.
  • For once, National Review has a point. Linking insurance to employment is an accident of WW2 wage controls, not a sensible policy. True healthcare reform would at least loosen that connection.
  • I always knew those Canadians were strange.
  • So why do men do most of the driving?
  • Lomborg Love

    Many environmentalists hate Bjorn Lomborg. Actually, they hate anyone who doesn’t respond to environmental concerns with hysterical panic. Thus, Paul Ehrlich — who has been wrong about everything he has ever said — is venerated because he’s a doom-monger. And Lomborg — and Gregg Easterbrook and Ronald Bailey and many others — are vilified for being optimistic and realistic about environmental scares.

    A few years ago, Lomborg was the victim of a witch-hunt over his book The Skeptical Environmentalist. Now they’re at it again, with a new book that’s attacks his accuracy. Lomborg’s response is here (PDF). I find it compelling, as always.

    It’s shit like this that gives red meat to those who claim environmentalism — and global warming acceptance in particular — are a religion. They environmentalists are treating Lomborg like a heretic. It’s not enough that he might be wrong; he has to be evil.

    Planet Peace

    Foreign Policy has a stunning and disturbing pictorial on the armed conflicts going on around the globe.

    The call it “Planet War”. You’ll forgive me an editorial comment, but the planet is more peaceful than it has ever been. Many of the conflicts they portray are sporadic or do not involve actual fighting (the Korean face-off, for example). What’s incredible about the pictorial is that, up until recently, this was the norm for humanity. Now, there are few enough conflicts that a blog can do a pictorial piece covering all of them in depth.

    Marc Thiessen

    Somehow, a former Cheney speechwriter has become a respected expert on terrorism, mainly because he is a zealous advocate of torture. Read a beautiful demolition of his bullshit here. Again, you are seeing why I have abandoned the Right. He’s not just mistaken; he’s deliberately lying.

    (On another note, we’re learning more about the repulsive legal theories of John Yoo. People keep asking me if I’m happy that Obama is President since I was so critical of Bush — even though I voted libertarian last time out. Short answer? Yes. Even their massive expansion of government and the crushing debt we are facing is worth it if it ends the neo-tyranny that the Bushies embraced.

    And, frankly, I’m not convinced that the GOP wouldn’t be expanding government and running up debts any less than Obama. That is, after all, what they did for eight fucking years.)

    A Question

    Is the pro-torture, kill-em-all! Right ever right? The subway bomber has now confessed, is cooperating with authorities, providing intelligence and will probably soon be rotting in jail for the rest of his life. All this was accomplished without torture and with respecting his human rights. And in a tiny fraction of the time we’ve been holding KSM at Gitmo.

    Damn it feels good when I’m right. Damn, it feels good when America does what it should have been doing all along. America, fuck yeah!

    Monday Linkorama

  • Here’s a good reason for me to not regret moving from Texas.
  • A scary story about the US government poisoning the alcohol supply during prohibition. Ironically, however, this makes me more skeptical of conspiracy theories. If they can’t keep killing 10,000 citizens quiet, how are they supposed to keep aliens quiet?
  • The best journalism of 2009. The first story, about parents leaving their kids in cars, is one of the most wrenching stories I’ve ever read.
  • Nice. Congress is using the Toyota acceleration problems to bypass confidentiality for their buddy lawyers who are suing Toyota on other issues.
  • Liz Cheney. pwned.
  • Also, there’s been another big Taliban capture for our weak President who is losing the War on Terror. I mean, just in case your opinion of the WOT was influenced by reality.
  • I’m all in favor of laws that prevent airlines from keeping passengers trapped on runways for hours on end. But the current rules have encourages airlines to simply cancel delayed flights. What Law of Unintended Consequences?
  • It’s possible that Texas will soon execute another innocent man. Or not. Without testing, there’s no way to tell. At some point, does Governor Perry have any shame?
  • Thursday Linkorama

  • This is cool. Using Facebook for research. I knew could justify my membership somehow…
  • I have to hand it to Dick Cheney. At least he is honest about his support for illegal torture. And he’s critical of Bush for not going far enough.
  • A must-read about how irrational some of Israel’s supporters have gotten. I’m a big pro-Israel guy, obviously. But what has gotten into people that they can not tolerate any criticism of their issues?
  • Radley Balko on flash bang grenades. Those things scare me.
  • A brief history of techno-panic.
  • I know it seems like I’m posting about global warming every linkorama, but that’s because the last few weeks have seen a nonstop assault of Bad Skepticism. Not a day goes by when I don’t read some smug blogger adding to the pile. They are really like conspiracy theorists. The target keeps moving. And no matter how much each bullshit meme is disproven, it never goes away. Instead, we get long long lists of every disproven anti-AGW claim as a “tidal wave” of disproof. It’s depressing.
  • A great article on not knowing what you don’t know. Thanks to Amanda.
  • You know, I can’t really disagree with the Godwinizing of Limbaugh.
  • In Defense of Women

    I find Ask Men’s 99 Most Desirable Women to be interesting, beyond my general XY-generated interest in the opposite gender. I’m not surprised by how often “desirable” means “being under 25 with a fashionable figure”. What I am surprised by is how ugly a lot of these women are. Thanks to airbrushing, surgery or makeup, many of them have facial features that are almost alien. It’s kind of creepy, actually. Megan Fox is, in many ways, the paradigm of the type. Great figure but an unattractive face (and tiny brain and bad personality to boot).

    The older women in the sample far outshine their younger counterparts. Heidi Klum, with 36 years and four kids, looks better than almost all of them (and she seems to actually have something behind her eyes). Monica Bellucci, at 45, puts the 20-year-olds to shame (and can also act and speak four languages).

    Smart is sexy too. Natalie Portman is better looking than just about all the “models”. She’s also a talented actress and a Harvard grad. The same, to a lesser degree, could be said of Anne Hathaway, Erin Andrews, Erin Burnett and a dozen other women on the list. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if you broke them into groups by intelligence, the smarter women would be more attractive than the dumber ones — or at least less alien-looking. If you broke them up by profession, the models would be the most fake-looking (and to my eyes, the least attractive). Think of Portman on one end and Kim Kardashian on the other. No question which is smarter and which is more attractive.

    (Interestingly, there is a porn star on the list — Sasha Grey. But Grey is an atypical porn star — slender but not anorexic, unaltered surgically and rumored to be intelligent. She certainly held her own acting in Steven Soderbergh’s latest mainstream film. More from Beradinelli here.)

    Weekend Linkorama

  • No, Sarah Palin isn’t like Ronald Reagan.
  • What’s this? A terrorist tried and convicted in civilian court? And the world didn’t end?
  • Glenn Greenwald calls out the Right Wing Echosphere on their utter hypocrisy. In the end, it boils down to declaring terrorism suspects to be unpersons.
  • It’s hilarious that Climate Bad Skeptics are harping on the IPCC for having some unsourced or poorly sourced claims when their own claims would not withstand scrutiny.
  • Speaking of which, the Daily Mail misquotes Phil Jones claiming global warming is bunk. He clearly didn’t. That doesn’t stop the Echosphere from quote-mining and trumpeting that global warming is now disproved.
  • I don’t think you’ll find a more perfect series of links to show why I left the “Right”, even though my political philosophy was and remains staunchly conservative/libertarian. All five deal with false memes — lies — that the Right is using to promote an agenda of anti-intellectualism, torture and bad climate skepticism that is anathema to everything I believe in.

    Sarah Palin isn’t just ignorant; she’s proud of being ignorant. Her cluelessness is seen as proof of how much of an “outsider” she is and how good she would be as the conservative leader or, God forbid, President.

    But that’s just nonsense. Guys like Reagan and Goldwater were outsiders, they were not ignorant. Reagan was intensely intellectually curious. Goldwater was so forthright about issues, he got massacred in the election. Even Gingrich, when he first came about, was all about ideas. Palin is none of that. She is pure resentment against a perceived “other”.

    Then you have the pants-shitting terror — or pretense thereof for political purposes — that leads people to declare terror suspects to be unpersons. No conservative should believe any human being to be an unperson, to have no rights. Rights may be restricted or conditional, but they always exist. Abducting people, imprisoning them without trial and torturing them is against everything conservatives supposedly believe in — specifically the universality of our divinely given rights and the need to restrain government. How can you possibly say you triumph the individual over the state when you embrace the greatest subjugation to which a state can subject the individual — imprisonment and torture with trial?

    And finally, I can understand — I support — skepticism about hysterical environmental claims. I especially support opposition to collectivist solutions to them. But that has now morphed from Good Climate Skepticism to Bad Climate Skepticism — a mix of conspiracy mongering, anti-science, witch-hunting and quote-mining. A conservative approach would say, “Maybe AGW isn’t real. But if it is … we need to do something about it.” A conservative would do what I do every time a Right Wing blog links up to some article that “disproves” global warming — look into it and see what it actually says.

    Until these things are purged from the Right Wing, I will remain outside. This is simply not what I signed on for.

    Dead On?

    My faith, according to Beliefnet?

    1. Reform Judaism (100%)
    2. Unitarian Universalism (93%)
    3. Liberal Quakers (91%)
    4. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (80%)
    5. Baha’i Faith (79%)

    I’m Conservative Judaism, but that doesn’t show up on their quiz. Orthodox Judaism shows us #8. I’d say this was reasonably accurate.