Tuesday Linkorama


  • Memo to the new new dealers. If you’re going to hold up the Tennessee Valley Authority as a model of what great things the government can do, this might give you pause. Read the whole thing, but here’s my favorite bit.

    As for flood control, the TVA has flooded an estimated 730,000 acres—more land than the entire state of Rhode Island. Most directly affected by TVA flooding were the thousands of people forced out of their homes. And while farm owners received cash settlements for their condemned property, black tenant farmers received nothing.

    The TVA is $26 billion in debt, despite not having to pay taxes. Ralph Nader, noted right wing fascist, has condemned it as one of the worst polluters in the nation. Oh, and it slowed economic growth.

    Seriously. Read the whole thing.

  • Various groups want the Feds to start regulating charities so that they give more money to minorities. Oh, yeah. That’s going to work out just great.
  • Port St. Lucie wants to use natural disaster funds to build their economy. So what happens when an actual natural disaster happens? That’s right. You and I will pay the bills.
  • Ah, America. The only nation willing to give a corrupt stupid governor a 6-figure book deal. Well, that just means the government will get the money when he’s convicted.
  • Nerd Girls

    Are hot. Don’t take my word for it. A great little video, tipped to me by the wonderful Orac. Always listen to a man who takes his internet nom de plume from the world’s greatest unknown sci-fi show.

    (Those of you reading from England and Australia can watch said show on DVD. Those of us in America are screwed unless we buy a region-free DVD player.)

    I was often drawn to nerdy girls when I was single. Granted, I can always appreciate the draw of the more superficial aspects of the female of our species. But more often than not it was the girl with glasses, a cute smile and a higher SAT score than mine.

    Of course, going to college at a small liberal arts college and doing the grad school thing somewhat restricted the subset of women to which I was exposed. I actually wrote an equation about it.

    It’s Not the Faith, It’s the Collectivism

    Ed Yong with something close to my heart.

    Together, these four studies – three survey analyses and one experiment – contradict the idea that religious belief and devotion in themselves are the driving force behind the suicide bombing mindset. Nor is this mindset exclusive to Islam, as the third and fourth experiments show. Instead, it seems that the link between religion and suicide attacks is more to do with collective rituals. Ginges’s theory is that these rituals strengthen an individual’s loyalty to a community, but risk hardening their hearts against outsiders. That’s certainly a reasonable interpretation but it’s worth noting that religious services are complicated affairs, which have many sides to them besides group behaviour. People who worship en masse may get very different perspectives on their faiths that those who pray alone don’t, and this study doesn’t really take that into account.

    What I’d be interested in seeing — and I suspect it would be borne out — is if the suicidal mindset also exists among those in collectivist secular societies. Communism and fascism had plenty of people willing to kill or die on its behalf. And race has been as powerful a motivator for bloodshed as religion, if not more so. After all, to go the Godwin route, the Third Reich’s persecution of Jews was far more racial than it was religious. Hitler’s writings were far more focused on how the Jews physically repulsed him than on any aspect of the faith.

    I have long believed the religion is primarily the excuse for evil behavior, be it wars, genocide, suicide bombing or oppression. Nice to see at least a little bit of support from the sociologists.