Archive for July, 2010

Wednesday Linkorama

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Finally, some non-political links! Three of em!

  • Sully’s readers wax rhapsodic about Doctor Who. It’s a joy to read for this Whovian. The wife unit and I used to watch it every Friday. We’re recently turned some friends onto it. And meeting someone who’s a fan creates an instant conversation. I agree with what he says about the show. As science fiction, it has it’s problems. But as drama, it’s wonderful. And yes, the Doctor is anti-matter to Jack Bauer (but hopefully not Amanda!).
  • Cool slow mo video. I particularly like the mouse traps.
  • I think (hope) I’m somewhere on the main sequence. I had to play with the metrics a bit (there are, apparently, lots of Mike Siegels out there and I have a lot of GCNs under my belt at ADS). But my calculation are mid main sequence.
  • Political Links:

  • Not sure if this is political or not. It’s about the pink sari gang that are bringing vigilante justice to India. I often think that true progress in things women’s right comes not from a benevolent kind government but from millions of people suddenly say, “Hey, why do we put up with his shit?” If this thing ever reaches the Islamic world, the Earth will shake.
  • And just when you thought the smear on Shirley Sherrod couldn’t get worse, it does. Ta-Nehisi and Balko take it on. Again, we see why Ta-Nehisi is one of my favorite liberal writers: “The more I think about this, the more I am faced with the kind of question I feel naive and stupid for asking–What kind of human being writes a 4,000 word article to prove that someone’s long-dead relative wasn’t lynched because he was beaten to death? Callousness is scary. Stupidity is scary. When you combine the two….I mean seriously, What the fuck? It’s the worst of everything.”
  • More “failure” from Obama on illegal immigration. Again, expect radio silence from the “amnesty!” shrieking Right Wing.
  • Peter Suderman runs down the sad sad legacy of Democratic budget trickeration.
  • FOIA was used to discover that the SEC was, among other things, warned that Bernie Madoff was a shyster. So the Dodd-Frank bill fixes this by … exempting the SEC from FOIA. It’s amazing how often, under the current Congress, progress has been defined by preventing anyone in power from ever having to take responsibility for anything.
  • You know … Dee Snider has a point.
  • The Dead Middle Class

    Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

    Cross-posted from the other site.

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    Monday Linkorama

    Monday, July 26th, 2010

    Sorry. All politics today.

  • Lenore Skenazy lays into the panic-driven CSPA.
  • A federal judge rules that cheerleading is not a sport. Ignoring, for the moment, the Title IX implications, this is asinine. Whatever one may think of cheerleading, the college level has grueling training, judged competitions and a higher injury rate than most contact sports. To me, that makes it a sport.
  • Boy, these sex offender registries just keep getting better and better, no? Can’t they give him a “I’m not a pedophile” card or something?
  • And this mosque business sure brings out the stupid, doesn’t it?
  • A long story on the Phoebe Prince case. I ache for her parents, but I’m not comfortable with the criminal charges being leveled. I’m not sure if I believe everything in the article, but it’s clear we weren’t told the entire story.
  • Are bans on conflict diamonds making the situation better or worse? I honestly don’t know what to believe here, despite my inclinations against sanctions. Life is so much easier when I don’t have to think.
  • Glenn Greenwald lays into the media for attacking the blogosphere again.
  • Who I Write Like

    Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

    I don’t think much of this site. I posted three different excerpts from my novel and found out I write either like Athur C. Clark, Jane Austen or J. D. Salinger.

    Hmm.

    100 Greatest Movies

    Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

    Joe Posnanski lists his picks as the 100 best movies he’s seen. Since that post went up a week ago, I’ve been mulling over a post of my own on this subject. I’m still deciding whether to go with my 100 favorite or the 100 best. The difference is subtle but important. By “100 favorite movies” I mean 100 I’d want with me on a desert island (I mean, besides “How to build a raft out of a palm trees and fingernail clippings”). By “100 best movies”, I mean the 100 I’d give to aliens if they said they were going to destroy our civilization and that would be all the remained.

    I’ll mull this over and maybe put up a post once week on the subject. I have a deep love of movies, I like lists and I like talking about myself — hence the blog. So this sounds like it’s right up my alley.

    Thursday Linkorama

    Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

    Non-political links:

  • Awesome. The navy shoots down on a drone with a laser.
  • OK, semi-political. I wish I’d had this woman as my philosophy professor when we were looking at feminist philosophy.
  • Political links:

  • Crime in Arizona, like the rest of the country, is way down … except in the district patrolled by America’s toughest sheriff. Funny that.
  • I’m forced to agree with a lot of what’s in this video. I wish our leaders would stop trying to pretend that solving global warming is an economic miracle waiting to happen. Not when things like public transportation are such boondoggles. When I hear pie in the sky talk about AGW, it indicates someone who isn’t taking the issue seriously, just using it as an excuse to prop up special interests. And, like the video, I wish global warming weren’t happening. But I can’t convince myself it’s a myth.
  • Ron Bailey links up the worst environmental disasters. You could add Chernobyl and Bhopal to the list if you wanted to get historical.
  • It is absolutely unsurprising that the NHTSA investigation essentially cleared Toyoto of most wrongdoing. This is simply a repeat of the sudden acceleration incidents that happened twenty years ago. Ted Frank wades into the comments on the Toyota lawsuits. Worth reading as he is an excellent debater.
  • In the end, the Nanny Staters will press for this, taking kids out of homes that make them fat. Never mind that weight is a difficult issue to pin down (I linked last week to a school bashing the parents of a gymnast because her Bullshit Mass Index was high). Is the biggest problem we need to solve in parenting people feeding their kids too much?
  • That’s More Like It

    Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

    Numerous conservatives, to their credit, are coming out and apologizing to Shirley Sherrod and admitting they were wrong. Morrissey has done so; as has Jonah Goldberg and others.

    I post this not because of any I told you so mentality because I’m hoping — maybe against hope — that this incident will inject a little bit of skepticism into the Right (and Left) Wing Outrage Machines. Character assassination is just too easy in the Age of the Internet.

    (I also note on the Hot Air link that more than half the readers think Sherrod should get her job back. For Sherrod to get that much support from a blog as right wing as Hot Air is remarkable. And encouraging.)

    Inventing Reverse Racists

    Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

    God-damn it, I am sick of this shit.

    It show you how cynical I’ve gotten that when I heard of a supposedly racist story from Shirley Sherrod, my alarm bells went off. I assumed that we weren’t seeing the whole story.

    God damn it, I hate being right all the time.

    The wife of the white farmer allegedly discriminated against by the USDA’s rural development director for Georgia said Shirley Sherrod “kept us out of bankruptcy.”

    Eloise Spooner, 82, awoke Tuesday to discover that Sherrod had lost her job after videotaped comments she made in March at a local NAACP banquet surfaced on the web.

    Sherrod, who is black, told the crowd she didn’t do everything she could to help a white farmer whom she said was condescending when he came to her for aid.

    “What he didn’t know while he was taking all that time trying to show me he was superior to me was, I was trying to decide just how much help I was going to give him,” Sherrod said in the video, recorded March 27 in Douglas in southeast Georgia.

    But Spooner, who considers Sherrod a “friend for life,” said the federal official worked tirelessly to help the Iron City couple hold onto their land as they faced bankruptcy back in 1986.

    Read the whole thing.

    This is not the first time, this is not the second time, this is not the 871st time this has happened. Conservatives are constantly bombarded with the Outrage of the Day from right wing media whores who will saying anything, distort anything and never fact check if it gets them page views, viewers or listeners. Right now, we have this ridiculous controversy over the “ground zero mosque”, a small mosque in a larger building that is two blocks away from Ground Zero and has no view of it. And don’t even get me started on Climategate and global warming.

    My skepticism over these dog whistle stories — skepticism that is proving again and again to be warranted — is born of my fundamental conservatism. When a story plays to my pre-conceived ideas, I question it. I’ve been fooled too many times to just jump in and start screaming. Blogging, incidentally, has stimulated my skepticism because if I get burned by a bad story, I get burned publicly.

    One of the reasons I shied away from liberalism was precisely this sort of thing. In the 80′s and 90′s, liberals would distort stories or simply make them up to score political points. Mitch Snyder made up three million homeless, for example.

    Conservatives, at that time, tended to stick a little closer to facts, the odd welfare queen hysteria not withstanding. This is no longer the case, it would seem.

    This has to stop. Conservatives can not be taken seriously when they howl a the moon every time Andrew Breitbart of Matt Drudge or Sarah Palin say “werewolf”.

    Update: Just to be clear: I’m not happy about what Sherrod said or apparently did. And I thought her speech kept circling back to the race question. My point here, however, is that no one bothered to dig up the entire story; they just screamed with outrage. The conservatives like to play the “if it happened to us” game all the time. If a conservative told a story about overcoming bigotry, would they be denounced like this?

    Update: The NAACP has the full video and has apologized for supporting Sherrod’s resignation. Apparently, she was talking about overcoming racism in the context of USDA’s ongoing efforts to settle past discrimination.

    The NAACP are showing a lot of class here. The thing for conservatives to do now is to admit they were snookered and participated in a smear job.

    Update: Kudos to the conservatives admitting Sherrod was wronged. Here’s Allahpundit. Krauthammer has come out on her side as has … holy shit, Glenn Beck?!

    Sunday Night All Politics Linkorama

    Sunday, July 18th, 2010
  • Dear Mr. Williams. Just go the fuck away. Although I’ll note in passing that the supposedly racist Tea Partiers gave him the boot.
  • You too, mosque protesters.
  • Obama supports tax cuts … for trial lawyers.
  • Here’s the thing. You can provide “free” birth control if you want. I know it’s going to cost quite a bit. But I’m unconvinced it will prevent unwanted pregnancies. It’s not primarily a lack of access that causes them; free condoms are available just about everywhere. It’s a lack of responsibility. And providing birth control for free could even make things worse because people get more reckless when they get free stuff. What are we going to say when thousands of women get their “free” birth control, think they’re bulletproof, don’t use it right and get pregnant? To think we can prevent three million pregnancies by handing out pills at street corners is to indulge in the rankest sort of magical thinking about government.
  • Jesus Christ, are the schools trying to make girls anorexic?
  • Here is how states go off the fiscal rails.
  • Once again … do politicians not know about this internet thing where we can look up what they said just, like, a year ago.
  • Thursday Linkorama

    Thursday, July 15th, 2010

    Non-political links:

  • Hey, it’s no surprise to me that one of the most religious nations on Earth is also the biggest consumer of porn. What do you expect when every woman in a ten mile radius is covered with the living room drapes?
  • Fecal transplants. No, that’s not a mis-spelling.
  • Yep. Celebrities are stupid. Unless they’re conservative, of course.
  • Political Links:

  • One thing I like about Andrew Napolitano: he’s consistent. A few weeks ago, he blasted Arizona’s immigration law as unconstitutional. Today he said Bush and Cheney should be indicted for committing torture and eavesdropping. I agree. Our treaty obligations say that we must investigate allegations of torture and prosecute those who authorized it. And under our Constitution, a signed treaty has the power of federal law.
  • Radley Balko writes a brave column defending Johannes Mehserle.
  • Yet more reasons I’m glad I left Texas. That’s two cracked links in one linkorama.
  • I already posted on it at the other blog, but this Black Panther business is just ridiculous.
  • So now Google joins Microsoft and Paypal as companies that are getting trust-busted because they wouldn’t play politics.
  • Soda Tax

    Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

    Soda is the latest enemy of the food grabbers. Having been so successful in first forcing us to use trans fats, then forcing us to abandon them; having had their triumph of adding calorie counts to menus and seeing calorie consumption go up; having pushed non-fat foods that load us up with carbs; they are building on the spectacular record of utter complete failure by going to war with soda. If it were not for the vile bubbly, we would all look like Victoria’s Secret models, or something. San Francisco has banned it from public buildings; NYC’s Nanny State mayor is attacking it and everyone wants to tax it.

    This is typical of those who love government. Every failure is met not with a reconsideration of their view but with a call for more action. They utterly refuse to believe that government is incapable of making people live good lives.

    (And it’s also typical of tax policy. Politicians always want more revenue. An easy way to get it is to tax whatever is unpopular at the moment. Cigarettes were a good target for a while, but they’re maxed out.)

    Jonah Lehrer does a good job with the case for, citing a DOA study that claims a soda tax would reduce calorie consumption by 20-40 calories a day. But even his post is being selectively quoted by supporters. He notes that people may make up the calories in other places. He further notes that diet sodas have a tendency to increase calorie consumption.

    The scientists argue that fake sugar is dangerous because it subverts a crucial homeostatic mechanism, as the the brain uses the sweetness of a food to keep track of its intake. More sugar implies more calories; the tongue is a natural energy detector. The problem with diet sodas is that they make this system unreliable, so that the presence of of intense sweetness no longer means anything. (And it’s not just rodents: a similar effect has been observed in humans.) The hypothalamus gets confused. The end result is that we lose touch with the energetic needs of our body. Instead of eating to sate a hunger, we just eat. And eat.

    Lehrer says this make the case for a complete ban, but I’m not convinced.

    Making the case against is Cato. They note five problems with the soda ban:

    1) The scientific evidence that soda is making us fat is tenuous at best.

    2) Taxes would have to be pretty extreme to measurably cut soda consumption.

    3) Past experience is that poor people tend to make up the calories elsewhere and eat even less healthily. In short, the side effect of a soda ban might be doritos at dinner in place of peas.

    4) A soda tax is massively regressive. This is true of all “sin” taxes. In another post, they note that rich guy indulgences — Starbucks, for example — are actually worse than soda. So there’s a certain amount of snobbery here in depriving the masses of their opiate while letting the elites keep theirs.

    5) It threatens individual choice.

    I’m not opposed to sin taxes on alcohol or cigarettes since the link between those and bad health is conclusive. However, obesity is such a complex issue with such nebulous cause, I’m reluctant to have the all-wise all-knowing government jump in and decree what people can and can not consume. As I say all the time — they do not have the track record to earn the benefit of a doubt here.

    So should government do nothing? Actually, I somewhat agree with Sullivans’ readers. The best thing the government could do is lift trade restrictions on sugar and stop corn subsidies. The heavy use of HFCS in our diet may not be having an effect on us (studies are inconclusive). But a market distortion that large has to have some negative consequences, no?

    Tuesday Linkorama

    Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

    Non-political links:

  • A Holocaust survivor and his grandkids dance at the ruins of concentration camps. To me, survival is the best answer to that horror. One of my favorite movies is Schindler’s List. The reason I like it is because of the very ending with the real life survivors. I watch most of the movie with horror and sadness. But it’s only the triumphant ending, with the sons and daughters of Schindler, that gets me choked up.
  • Political Links:

  • Obama scores big, getting four agents from Russia in exchange for the bumbling Russian agents. Naturally … well just read the post and comments about how this all a big conspiracy.
  • What I was saying the other day about originalism? Jacob Sullum applies it to the DOMA ruling which, in my view, complied with the Constitution.
  • More on the vileness that is BP, one of the most politically powerful companies in the world.
  • Another voice on the DC Voucher Program as well as the teacher bailout. Meanwhile, Louisiana tries a bold experiment.
  • Dear Conservatives/Libertarians: stop trying to politicize Lebron James’ move to Miami and say he did it because of the taxes. You just sound stupid. No one knows what’s going on in his head.
  • This is so offensive on so many levels, I don’t know where to begin.
  • Another inspiring note about people filling in for their corrupt useless government, this time in Detroit.
  • Friday Linkorama

    Friday, July 9th, 2010

    Non-political Links:

  • Is this what we’ve come to? Death threats against psychic cephalopods? Have we no decency?
  • Scott Adams imagines a cashless world. Maybe. But it makes me nervous. Sue and I recently went to a cash basis for most our spending. It has really forced us to economize and stick to a budget. Credit cards are too great a temptation.
  • The latest on the fight between Jezebel and the Daily Show. I have only seen one of Olivia Munn’s segments but she seems pretty funny, hot or not.
  • I rarely actually laugh out loud at something on the internet. But Catalog Living has caught me twice. Here’s a good one.
  • Political Links:

  • God damn it. What is it with government know-it-alls continually flunking basic economics.
  • The media stopped calling torture by its name when Bush began to dispute whether things like waterboarding were torture. They still called it torture when China did it. Well, not any more.
  • Climategate is now five for five in investigations of scientific fraud. They are also five or five in being rebuked for asshole behavior and a lack of transparency. The response of the Right? Call it a whitewash.
  • My unending question: what is the post of having liberals around if the most liberal court in the nation decides that being innocent does not get you out of jail if you filed your motion too late?
  • Sarah Attempts Foreign Policy

    Thursday, July 8th, 2010

    Sarah Palin recently put up a facebook note that is being hailed in some quarters as her first brilliant foray into foreign policy.

    Bullshit. It’s nothing but slogans and talking points nailed and glued together. Clever quips that mean nothing and Right Wing dog whiste blowing. She doesn’t say anything original or, indeed, accurate. This is what the GOP has come to: a speech that Rush Limbaugh wouldn’t open his show with on a bad day shows someone is a serious politico.

    Going into this, I should say that while I think Sarah Palin is ignorant on the issues, I don’t think she’s stupid. I just don’t think she cares about the issues enough to look into the subtleties and trade-offs (see a point here about her criticism of fruit fly research). She speaks entirely in talk radio bullet points and has no interest in facts, details or philosophy. Indeed, the only time she had a chance to get involved in policy, as a governor, she quit to get a job spouting talking points on Fox News and the talk circuit.

    This is all a game to her, a game of Celebrity. The goal is to get attention, adulation and money, not to actually solve problems or help the country. (Politicians who want to help their state don’t generally quit the second it gets tough). And this “brilliant” facebook note is a perfect example — a diatribe so thin even a third rate blogger can take it apart.

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