Re: Guest Post - Not gloomy

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As far as I can tell, the main difference between fracking in Texas and Pennsylvania is that the people doing the fracking tend to live in Texas. They fly in, work two weeks, and fly back home for a week. The other difference is that drillers in Texas pay a severance tax. They don't here. Just an "impact fee" and this only started a couple of years ago.

The drillers paid-off the governor to get the right to drill with basically no restrictions except fear of bad press. Fuck those assholes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 6:51 AM
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in the last few days we're having a snit about whether or not liberal is being used as a pejorative to describe straw-lefties

It's ok because real lefties are increasingly bringing back the old tune of using 'liberal' as a pejorative to describe straw-not-lefty-enoughs.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 6:57 AM
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I'll start believing frackers about the care the take not to harm the environment when they agree to rescind their exemption to being regulated under the Clean Water Act. Funny how fracking didn't take off until that went through, yeah?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 6:57 AM
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Fraking is complicated and I won't even pretend to understand it, so instead I'll respond to the last part: today is a (very local) holiday here, because it is the first Thursday after the first Sunday in September. For the last many centuries, it was observed as a fast day, a day of prayer and repentance. The official dish of the holiday is pie (plum pie), which seems very un-fast-like, but apparently traditionally it is the only thing eaten today.

It's a weird holiday. Mostly it's an excuse for a day off. Weirdly - and this is highly telling about the local culture - people don't see a Thursday holiday as an excuse to take the Friday off and have a 4-day weekend. People just take their day off, go for a hike or something, and dutifully go back to work on Friday.


Posted by: parodie | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 6:58 AM
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http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/energy/coal-oil-gas/top-10-myths-about-natural-gas-drilling-6386593#slide-1


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:01 AM
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Caveat: I don't know enough about the issue to say whether the slides linked in 5 are accurate.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:02 AM
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In my mind, good local environmental control is necessary for good public decisions about fracking. That control has been so far basically absent in the US, so this is an improvement. Globally, I don't know very much about methane accounting or how impacts of a particular activity (fracking, melting permafrost) are measured. Methane is very effective as a greenhouse gas, but has an atmospheric half life of decades, orders of magnitude faster dissipation than CO2.

The short half-life makes me think that careful fracking is a net gain environmentally until people have cheap solar or fusion. Possibly that's wrong, and the methane from even localized activity is a real issue. But politically, improved local ability to restrain the greediest is a good thing.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:03 AM
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"What's the liberal equivalent of denying climate change?" A lot of the scientists answered "Liberal obsession with the dangers of GMOs. They just won't believe that they're safe."

Not even close to comparable. There is a wide range of opinions about GMO organisms among the relevant scientific community. If you took a caricature of liberal bed-wetting about GMOs ("Frankenfoods! ZOMG! I'd never feed them to my kids, they're poison!"), you could say that's outside the scientific consensus. But a less extreme version ("We have a poor understanding of the potential ecological impact of GMOs. Their use should be tightly regulated. Consumers should have the right to know if they are buying GMO foods so they can use their dollars to reward non-GMO alternatives") you can find plenty of respectable scientists who would sign on. With climate change, the deniers are almost without exception cranks and ideologues.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:04 AM
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I can't figure out what I think about fracking because I'm not sure how to balance the local-versus-global thing. But even if it's bad locally, it's probably a lot less bad than coal, right? But the locations are different, so that makes it thornier.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:06 AM
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8 gets it right.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:06 AM
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8. In Europe, the location of tiny plots of GMO plants needs to be kept secret because they'll be destroyed. Anti-GMO sentiment there is much stronger than wanting a boycott. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/may/21/farmer-charged-damage-gm-crop


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:08 AM
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The reaction against fracking is far from knee jerk or irrational. Fracking causes known environmental problems, from contaminated drinking water to earthquakes, and is being practiced without any transparency by companies with an astonishingly poor environmental history. Given that background, I think it is on the frackers to prove that what they are doing is safe and well regulated. They can't get away with "trust us" here.

The global warming issue is important and does complicate things. Although methane leaks are a problem, I think natural gas is clearly better than coal, the way that getting a punch in the gut is clearly better than getting a bullet in the head. I just think we deserve better options here.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:09 AM
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On 9/11, I'd think black would be more appropriate than red white and blue. The other patriotic holidays do not commemorate dates of massive casualties.

Since about 2003, all schools in New Jersey are required by law to include something about 9/11 in the curriculum in every grade. This is one of the dumber examples of state senators nosing around the school curriculum, especially since the time to study 9/11 is around 9/11. It's not completely impossible to teach massive tragedy to first graders, but it's easy to handle poorly, and it really isn't the sort of thing that belongs in the first week of school. At the high school level, 9/11 may be absolutely the only history lesson about any event post Watergate or so-- and it's covered in the middle of the unit on the the Age of Exploration.

And in the first few years, it REALLY sucked for several hundred New Jersey children and their newly single parents to have their personal day of mourning turned into an out-of-sequence history class.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:10 AM
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Hawaii's school invited everyone to wear red, white and blue in honor of 9/11. Is that a thing?

I thought it was camouflage. After all, 9/11 was our generation's D-Day.
http://www.unfogged.com/archives/week_2012_09_09.html#012444


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:13 AM
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I think eating GMO food is the least of my concerns with them. I'm perfectly willing to accept that eating a GMO tomato is basically just as safe as eating a regular tomato. But when pesticides get embedded in tomato leaves, we get a situation where the pesticides work for a few years until the pests evolve into pesticide-resistant super pests. So Monsanto patents some new genes that make a different pesticide and the cycle continues.

Meanwhile, what had been property of the commons - the ability for targeted use of X chemical to reduce damage caused by Y pests - has been first privatized and then destroyed.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:16 AM
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So when people say it's not practical to go fully renewable / non-CO2-producing for energy, is that in the logistical "not even an absolutist dictator could do it" sense or in the "politically we must allow fossil fuel companies to keep making return on capital and only phase to other sources gradually" sense?

I'm imagining coal slowly dying, fracking taking its place, and then in twenty years "don't you dare ban fracking, our state needs those jobs!" And any temporary relative reduction in CO2 fracking achieved is cancelled out.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:19 AM
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The other patriotic holidays do not commemorate dates of massive casualties.

Veterans Day's commemoration of years of massive casualties notwithstanding.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:20 AM
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I know, somehow in the last few days we're having a snit about whether or not liberal is being used as a pejorative to describe straw-lefties and I just don't know what other word to use.

The trouble is that annoying and/or just plain kooky lefties unquestionably exist, but every time the left comes up with a word for them it's quickly adopted by conservatives and applied to everyone more liberal than Rush Limbaugh.

"Politically correct" was coined by leftists back in the 70s. More recently "social justice warrior" was coined to refer to a particular species of obnoxious online pseudo activist, but that's now been adopted by conservatives as well.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:24 AM
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"she was just going to wear the next outfit in the queue of her surprisingly highly-planned-by-a-5-year-old closet."

I don't know if this is going to come as welcome news or the opposite, but your daughter so reminds me of myself!

Fracking outrageously unregulated on the composition of the liquids used alone, then you have the MASSIVE water use and wastewater disposal issues, also earthquakes. All that without even getting to carbon emissions issues.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:24 AM
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I read an Obama quote noting that we have 100 years worth of natural gas reserves. If we are still using natural gas in 100 years, things will be totally fucked, in a way that speeding up the phase-out of coal isn't going to make up for.

What we need to do is figure out a way to leave the fossilized carbon in the ground, where it belongs. Building out natural gas infrastructure only makes that task more difficult.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:27 AM
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The other patriotic holidays do not commemorate dates of massive casualties.

Columbus Day?


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:32 AM
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I just want to admire the use of "monolithic" immediately following a discussion of bedrock composition.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:35 AM
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Not gloomy?

Someone needs to do a mixtape thread? Or something fun.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:37 AM
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17: Yes, but the holiday is the date the war ended.

21: I believe there were no casualties on the date Columbus first made landfall, which is Columbus Day. It's quite possible that we commemorate the date the first European contracted syphilis.

To be fair, Alamo Day is apparently recognized in Texas on March 6, the date of many deaths. Also sometimes there are commemorations on Pearl Harbor day.

I have also heard that 9/11 has been a difficult day to be an Arab-American in a public school, and some parents keep their kids home.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:55 AM
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The trouble is that annoying and/or just plain kooky lefties unquestionably exist, but every time the left comes up with a word for them it's quickly adopted by conservatives and applied to everyone more liberal than Rush Limbaugh

Mulling it over overnight, I came to the same conclusion as this. We shouldn't use one word for positions or personality types.

But we should attack individual instances and behavior, using words like "silly," "kooky," "priggish," "sophomoric," and the like, for those positions in that context. And leave it at that.

I'm still annoyed by "liberal" as the trolling word of choice, but I admit the difficulty of finding a substitute. The quote marks help.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:56 AM
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I have soft spot for covers, most of these are cheerful:
http://8tracks.com/lw208xx/september


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:57 AM
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I have also heard that 9/11 has been a difficult day to be an Arab-American in a public school, and some parents keep their kids home.

Uggggh. I bet it has. People are awful!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:59 AM
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I think 8 is basically right, and that the main reason GMO opposition tends to come up as a big deal outside of fairly specific places where people really are insane about them (Europe, which is apparently far worse than I'd thought before), is that it's one of the only places where you can find a center left and left denial of mostly sensible things. It's the equivalent of how the far more harmful anti-vaxx movement gets labeled as a liberal/leftist bit of crazy even though it's spread out across the political spectrum. There really just isn't much else to go for and people like to seem balanced so it comes up a lot.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:02 AM
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For years it seemed that for wingnuts 9/11 was a sort of like Christmas, the 4th of July and the Superbowl all rolled into one. That seems to have faded recently.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:04 AM
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Have they started in on the War on 9/11 yet, or is that still to come? It's probably inevitable if not, though it would probably have less traction just due to it sounding ridiculous given what happened.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:08 AM
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Is this the general grumpiness thread?

If so, I'd like to note for the record that the world would be significantly improved if an oil tanker were loaded with everyone involved in developing educational software in any capacity, and said oil tanker were then floated into the middle of the Atlantic ocean and shelled from a safe distance until it sank.

Just putting this out there for discussion.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:12 AM
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You should maybe add "present company excluded" to that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:14 AM
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We'd only lose one commenter that way, though, right? It's an acceptable loss. You can't make an omelette, and all that.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:16 AM
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You should maybe add "present company excluded" to that.

You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, Moby.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:16 AM
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Damn it!


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:17 AM
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You can't make an omelette without pwnage.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:18 AM
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To non-namedrop, a very good friend of mine was the victorious lawyer in this case. He's giving up his practice at the end of the year, presumably to go out on a high note.

I may have mentioned him here before; he's the most prominent Palestinian baker in the city's most Jewish neighborhood. His challah's to die for.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:20 AM
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32: I didn't realize there were educational software developers among us.

If it makes that person or persons feel better, I'd considered various options involving feeding people alive to sharks, piranha, or flesh eating insects, but ultimately decided that those would be cruel and unusual. I went the oil tanker option because it was more humane.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:23 AM
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I don't know if this is going to come as welcome news or the opposite, but your daughter so reminds me of myself!

No kidding! Tell me, how do I break your spirit get you to be less rigid and prickly?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:23 AM
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16 -- in the "not even an absolute dictator could do it" without causing the total collapse of the modern economy, except in a very few locations. Extreme optimists think you might be a Le to get a few major countries (not Iceland) onto a mostly renewables plan by 2050. Denmark, which is basically wind generated power exporter island is at 40% renewables, which is great, but not even close to scalable. I am actually an extreme technology optimist on this issue and absolutely pro renewables but gains are going to have to come as much from increased energy efficiency as from replacement of all fossil fuels by renewables. In the meantime CO2 that's omitted now has an extremely long life in the atmosphere. So, while we absolutely need to be doing everything we can to encourage renewable energy use it's definitely not just maintaining outsize profit margins for the energy industry that's preventing their adoption. And we need to cut carbon where we can, now. Skipping the benefits of natural gas in favor of future renewables pony is just not a realistic option. What we do need is to price CO2 emissions (through either a tax or cap and trade) and make the price ever more expensive, while also subsidizing building renewables infrastructure.

Obviously fracking also needs better local regulation And there are big regional differences driven by geology and technology as well as regulation; the California fracking around Bakersfield is better regulated than what's happening in PA, but it's also just flat out safer because geology. I guess I should now comb the Internet for links to back this all up but why not jus argue by assertion.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:26 AM
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Oh, to H-G's take:

Another friend of mine has been covering fracking as a professional journalist for several years now, and he's quite certain that the net impact of fracking is, at best, only slightly better than coal mining (which is, of course, the worst). Because of the (unregulated, unreported, mostly unstudied) escape gases at the well mouth, the difference in GHG is much less than what's apparent from what gets piped and burned, and then you've got all of the extra-GHG impacts which, again, maybe not mountaintop removal level, but there are now regular earthquakes in places like OK and eastern OH that have literally zero history of seismic activity, plus staggering water impacts.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:26 AM
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argue by assertion


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:30 AM
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But we should attack individual instances and behavior, using words like "silly," "kooky," "priggish," "sophomoric," and the like, for those positions in that context. And leave it at that.

You forgot 'shrill', 'unserious', and 'self-hating'. Bold hypothesis: people will find themselves on either side of the line attempting to be set and policed here in a very context-dependent way, and most of what these words do is express angst at having to be on the same team as those people. Rather than advance the serious and considered agenda of the right-thinking liberal left (whoever that happens to be in any given instance), the policing mostly just serves the status quo through a kind of contamination fear.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:35 AM
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39: indulge the impulse towards harmony and order, while consistently pointing out in a good humored way that it *is* an indulgence. That gives her an opportunity to grow into some reasonable perspective on herself. Long term project, but alas what about parenting isn't long term?

Re fracking, I've read the assurances that CA geology means little to no risk of increased seismic activity, but as someone living in SF I would prefer the option to say no thanks. Downside risk just isn't attractive.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:36 AM
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Nitpicking:

It would be like stacking a dozen bricks on top of each other, he says, and expecting a crack in the bottom brick to extend all the way to the top one.
[from the link in 5]

This is a terrible analogy (even by the standards of analogies), because cracks in bricks often, even usually, extend through adjacent bricks. What's even worse is that the guy's point seems to be that the layers above the fracking stratum are differently composited, so using a stack of identical bricks in his analogy is wrong on the face of it.

Meanwhile, what he needs to explain is why shattering one brick in the middle of a stack of 12 wouldn't have any effect whatsoever on any of the other bricks. Perfectly likely to be true, I guess, but tell me why.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:40 AM
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Hawaii's spiritual mentor?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:41 AM
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Is the brick structural or just covering up a frame of wood?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:43 AM
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Doesn't matter, actually. But I think you'd have to treat Earth's bedrock as structural.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:48 AM
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Having court on 9-11 is always oddish, because there's usually a period where you're waiting around with other lawyers you don't know well, and everyone has a story. So there's an obligatory story-swap and moment of awkward sadness. I'm a good audience, at least, because I don't have a real story of my own (maternity leave, way uptown, no one closer than two degrees of separation died).


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:50 AM
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I send my kids to school in red and black, as a memorial to those who fell in the Chilean 9/11.


Posted by: Silly Liberal | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 9:00 AM
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Doesn't matter, actually. But I think you'd have to treat Earth's bedrock as structural.

Isn't it just cladding on a magma frame?


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 9:02 AM
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I used to have a cow-orker who had the most boring 9/11 story... "I was biking in Oregon, and when we stopped for lunch, it was on the news..." and he used to tell it at the drop of a hat. I must have heard it a dozen times.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 9:19 AM
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I don't want to kill everyone who works in educational software. I just want to kill the people who make the crappy educational software we have now, mostly Blackboard. We need some survivors who can actually make good stuff.

My institution is finally being forced to switch from Angel, because Blackboard bought it and is shutting it down. Angel had been languishing for so long, it couldn't even do really basic things. Like in the gradebook, you had one view were you could see all the columns and all the rows, like a regular spreadsheet. But if you wanted to modify a grade, you had to exit and then enter a view where you could only see one column or one row at a time. GRRR.

I was please to see when vendors for new course management systems visited, that every single product we looked at had all the features that Angel lacked, and in fact the salesmen took it for granted that course management systems should have these things, and were puzzled when I had to ask if they were there.

I'm hoping we go with Canvas. That looks like it was made by people who should not be pushed out to sea.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 9:21 AM
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I somehow scheduled myself to be at the airport this morning (Logan) for a Global Entry interview, and only noticed the significance of the date a couple of days ago. Once I noticed it, I was half-expecting things to be crazy or tense somehow, but it all seemed totally normal.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 9:27 AM
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I've been wondering what Europe's plans are for buying natural gas this winter, now that the Russians have gone all conquery. They've had some time to prepare, although presumably building LNG terminals and expanding storage facilities is more of a long-term thing. And, of course, they need to source the actual gas.

So what's the plan?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:33 AM
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There's a great bumper sticker in my neighborhood: "Never Forget: 9/1/11"


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:52 AM
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I used to have a cow-orker who had the most boring 9/11 story...

My dad's (incredibly tedious) cousin writes these sobbing mass emails about how they lost their (other) cousin on 9/11 in the Pennsylvania plane, and for the past eight years or so, I've thought it's gotten ridiculous. Ok, enough time has elapsed that we've all lost loved ones. He was your cousin.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 1:29 PM
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I was in the courthouse right by the White House all say. There was a suspicious package scare in Lafayette Square, but luckily they locked down the court house after I'd gone for lunch, and had re-opened everything by the time I was ready to go back in. The case was about a contract in Afghanistan, and the client called in from Iraqi Kurdistan -- with the Army guys calling in from Qatar --so we were all marinating in War but no one said anything about 9/11.

The foreigner expressed the hope that the US would be making things better soon. I feel like I need to send one of those Get Disappointed by Someone New bumper stickers our friends posted way back when.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 5:50 PM
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I don't know the science of fracking, so I rely on folk heuristics. For example, this seems very bad:

Pennsylvania doctors under a gag order forbidding them to discuss fracking chemicals with patients.

And this detailed article on PA Dept of Health employees:

Two retirees from the Pennsylvania Department of Health say its employees were silenced on the issue of Marcellus Shale drilling.
One veteran employee says she was instructed not to return phone calls from residents who expressed health concerns about natural gas development.
"We were absolutely not allowed to talk to them," said Tammi Stuck, who worked as a community health nurse in Fayette County for nearly 36 years.
Another retired employee, Marshall P. Deasy III, confirmed that. Deasy, a former program specialist with the Bureau of Epidemiology, said the department also began requiring field staff to get permission to attend any meetings outside the department. This happened, he said, after an agency consultant made comments about drilling at a community meeting.
In the more than 20 years he worked for the department, Deasy said, "community health wasn't told to be silent on any other topic that I can think of."
Companies have drilled more than 6,000 wells into Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale over the last six years, making it the fastest-growing state for natural gas production in America.
Amid the record-breaking development, public health advocates have expressed concern that Pennsylvania has not funded research to examine the potential health impacts of the shale boom.
Doctors have said that some people who live near natural gas development sites - including well pads and compressor stations - have suffered from skin rashes, nausea, nosebleeds and other ailments. Some residents believe their ill health is linked to drilling, but doctors say they simply don't have the data or research - from the state or other sources - to confirm that.

Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 6:35 PM
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Letting Iraqi kurds sell their own oil would be an improvement. However, "think of children" fit better into the prez's public address. CC, hope your other thing sorted out.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 6:37 PM
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AcademicLurker, not only am I an educational software developer I work for the most on the face of it evil education corporation in America. (I guess that's arguable, but if you didn't figure it out from my posts you could probably get it in three guesses). Yeah, it's an industry that is not very consumer (be they students or teachers) friendly and in general is a really strong argument against capitalism. I'd gladly go down with the ship if it's required for world revolution.

My boring 9/11 story that you'll hear again when I forget I've said it already : 9/11 was my parents 30th wedding anniversary. So not only do they share the date but their major anniversaries are preceded by more media buildup.

On fracking: clearly, fuck the PA state government. There's a great billboard on my way into work: "because of fracking our economy is in another state."

On the Palestinian baker-lawyer in my neighborhood: I should clearly go to bakeries more. Or ever.

I still think liberal is a fine word and use it to self-describe.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:48 PM
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The most facially evil educational corporation in America is probably the publishing arm of the Church of Satan. So now we know for whom you work.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:01 PM
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I am massively disappoint with the church of satan's (whichever group was involved with the statue/court case in OK or wherever; definitely LaVeyans) merchandising efforts. They have the fucking coolest brand but all they had was lame cafepress t shirts and coffee mugs with their logo. C'mon.

My company's logo (not the logo of our better known subsidiary) is, supposedly, the profile of the founder's face, rotated around a point a few times.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:12 PM
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That was me. I should stop phone-posting when I'm maximally tired.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:15 PM
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Oh boy, more fracking.

The thing about discussion of fracking, I've found, is that it tends to be very focused on very specific issues local to Pennsylvania. (Maybe I just know more people in Pennsylvania than in the other affected states, but I don't tend to see nearly as much talk about this relating to them.) And the problems people talk about are pretty much all things that are completely within the power of the state government of Pennsylvania to fix, either by regulating fracking better or by banning it altogether. So the problem is really that your governor and legislature suck, which I know you all know already, and one of the ways they suck happens to also be (probably) a net positive for mitigating climate change.

That said, while people do ask me about fracking a lot when I'm in Pennsylvania (and less often when I'm in other places), it plays very little role in my daily life working with energy issues in Alaska.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:35 PM
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There are problems with fracking in North Dakota, I think, but no one took Emerson's advice and moved there and I don't think the commenters here who were living there at the time of commenting either still comment or still live there.

A friend of mine with whom I've nearly lost touch, except for Facebook, is involved in anti-fracking protests in British Columbia on both environmental and use of First Nations' lands grounds.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:40 PM
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I've been wondering what Europe's plans are for buying natural gas this winter, now that the Russians have gone all conquery. They've had some time to prepare, although presumably building LNG terminals and expanding storage facilities is more of a long-term thing. And, of course, they need to source the actual gas.

So what's the plan?

As of April, at least, it seems there basically wasn't one.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:41 PM
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The only thing I've read about North Dakota fracking was that stripper piece, because priorities.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:43 PM
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Anyway, while I do believe fracking is a net good if properly regulated, I'm not going to take the "frackers' side" on any of the specific issues that people are all upset about. My only point is that in the current situation cheap gas is a good thing for the climate because it mostly coal, and we currently have cheap gas because of fracking. If we found some other way to get cheap gas that would work too.

On the other hand, banning fracking would definitely be good for my own personal economic interests, since cheap gas makes Alaska's vast stores of conventional gas totally uncompetitive for export.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:48 PM
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Also, Halford's 40 gets it exactly right, and I'm glad he said all that stuff first so I didn't have to.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:48 PM
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"Priorities" isn't a bad name for a stripper bar.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:50 PM
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You could say, "I've got to attend to my priorities" and wink knowingly as you head out of the office early.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:54 PM
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|| The Hendrix documentary Hear My Train A Comin is pretty good, I think. |>


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:55 PM
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I only go to low emissions strip joints. Because I'm an environmentalist.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:59 PM
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There's no emissions in the Champagne Room.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 9:10 PM
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Natural gas, (but not fracking): this is one reason why our grandchildren will hate us.

The GGFR partnership estimates that globally at least 150 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas are flared or wasted every year, adding about 400 million tons of greenhouse gases in annual emissions. This is equivalent to almost all the potential yearly emission reductions from projects currently submitted under the Kyoto mechanisms.
Gas Flaring in the Middle East and North Africa region is about 50 billion cubic meters annually, which makes it the second flaring region in the world after Russia and the Caspian region (about 60 bcm). Sub-Saharan Africa flares about 35 bcm. The amount of gas flared in the Middle East alone (about 30 bcm) could feed a 20 million ton liquefied natural gas plant.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 9:52 PM
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The Ancients flared a lot of irreplaceable natural gas and helped fuck the climate because they were fucking morons. And that's why we can no longer have nice things.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 9:54 PM
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What about gneiss things?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 9:56 PM
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Gneiss is timeless.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:03 PM
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Rocks are too dumb to appreciate the value of iWatches.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:07 PM
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The iSundial is a gneiss watch.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:08 PM
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Rocks may be dumb, but they'll make it through catastrophic climate change way better than we will.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:12 PM
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76: Gas flaring is a big problem, certainly, but that press release seems to be from the Doha Climate Change Conference, which was in 2012. Not sure why you're linking it now.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:14 PM
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WMYBSALneB?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:16 PM
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Not news, but just a good short summary with some statistics. It's not like the practice has stopped.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:17 PM
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It's just what we do.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:17 PM
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86 to 84. We don't flare gas in Alaska; we reinject it to boost oil production, because there's no way to bring it to market and no incentive to do so with gas prices this low. Ban fracking now!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:19 PM
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The thing about flaring is that it's actually better in climate-change terms than just letting the gas escape into the atmosphere, because methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide (as was mentioned upthread). The smaller amount of carbon dioxide that results is of course still bad, and persists for a long time, and it would be much better to capture the gas and at least get something useful out of burning it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:23 PM
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||Quick bleg, particularly for the Mineshaft's typography enthusiasts: what do you like in a typeface for a résumé? This one will accompany an application for the editorship of an artsy magazine, so it should be a little sexy but not come across as trying too hard.|>


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:27 PM
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I'm aware that the teo and smearcase show is not necessarily the best time slot for such a request, but it can wait until morning if need be.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:29 PM
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Hey now, Smearcase might have well-considered opinions on typography. I certainly don't, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:30 PM
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I do like Garamond, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:31 PM
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Though though though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:31 PM
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(I do have opinions on typography, they're just not well-considered.)


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:34 PM
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60: Letting Iraqi kurds sell their own oil would be an improvement.

No whey!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:37 PM
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I've successfully used Cambria, but have since learned that it doesn't work on Linux because of font IP rules. I found some Linux substitute with the same dimensions eventually, but I don't think I've used it in an actually-sent resume. I just went back to Windows for the resume formatting when I realized why my carefully one-page resume had become a little over a page without any changes in content.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:37 PM
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95 reminds me of a joke that one of the professors my dad TA'd for used to tell:

Q: What do Little Miss Muffet and Saddam Hussein have in common?

A: They both have curds in their whey.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:41 PM
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Comic sans pareil


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:42 PM
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If you want something classier than 98, there are at least 2 versions floating around of a font that mimics Aaron Cometbus's distinctive printed handwriting.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:47 PM
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Times Holy Roman


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:56 PM
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Confederatio Helvetica


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:56 PM
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Fracktur


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:57 PM
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Arial Bombing.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:00 PM
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Bitstream Charter of Rights and Freedoms


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:00 PM
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Lucida Dreams.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:03 PM
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Goudy Gangnam Style.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:03 PM
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Futura 2000 Flushes


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:06 PM
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103: Arial hipster


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:07 PM
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Palatino Linoleum.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:07 PM
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Facebook Antiqua.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:08 PM
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Century schoolbook depository


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:09 PM
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Gautami buddha


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:09 PM
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Georgia On My Mind


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:11 PM
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Schlemiel Schlimazel Haettenschweiler Incorporated


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:11 PM
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Zelig Harris Papyrus


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:12 PM
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(I'll be amazed if anyone gets 115 without looking it up.)


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:13 PM
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Raavi Shankar


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:13 PM
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Garamond entier


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:21 PM
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PT Serif's deputy


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:23 PM
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Courier des bois


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:30 PM
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89: Computer Modern.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:37 PM
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But seriously Helvetica or Caslon.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:39 PM
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Leave it to the Kiwi to interrupt our silly font game with serious advice.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:41 PM
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Baskerville hounds


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:49 PM
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Rock the Caslon


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:55 PM
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Bookman Old School


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:57 PM
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The "GMOs are the climate change denial thing of liberals" thing really gets my oooh. Spike in 8 got most of it. The one thing I'd add is that the "liberal position" is not "pro-science," it's pro-justice. It's also typically skeptical of technological solutions to political problems (e.g. golden rice vs. hunger and malnutrition).


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 12:27 AM
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8 is by Knecht, not Spike.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 12:30 AM
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Now that you're here, k-sky, you may be interested to hear that the Anchorage police and firefighter unions are putting a lot of money toward a referendum to overturn a recent anti-union ordinance. I've heard a few ads from them on Pandora already.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 12:41 AM
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Being skeptical of technological solutions to political problems is the climate-change denialism of liberals. The Green Revolution in agriculture did as much or more to combat global hunger than any political solution. It's going to be technology that ends global poverty, if it indeed ever ends, not politics.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 12:41 AM
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Where the hell do you live, Walt, that you're always up at this time?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 12:55 AM
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Chukchi Peninsula.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 1:01 AM
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Makes sense.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 1:03 AM
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It's about time that somebody noticed that I'm here every night. I'm surprised there's so few, though. It's only 1am on the West Coast, for example.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 1:05 AM
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Tell me about it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 1:08 AM
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56 is pretty great.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 1:39 AM
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All resumes should be submitted in fonts from here


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 1:53 AM
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130 -- I really disagree. The end of colonialism in India, for instance, was a political decision - the Green Revolution in India was in large part a political program.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 3:09 AM
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Well, in that sense any solution is a political solution because it will involve political participation. What I think Walt is getting at is the tendency to scoff at any solution involving any sort of technological element at all, preferring only solutions that involve (often massive) political change. The kind of instinctive anti-TED approach. "It's ludicrous saying that cheap water filters will help poor Indians! What they need is a social revolution so that the government will actually take their needs seriously!" That sort of thing. The sort of Erik Loomis approach that says "Here's an automated dispenser that feeds cows dietary supplements to reduce their GHG emissions. This is just pie in the sky stuff. What we need to do is stop eating meat!" The realistic, hard-headed solution here, you notice, is changing the culture and habits of five billion people. The unrealistic solution is "giving cows pills".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 3:21 AM
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Yeah I guess I don't believe in a clear divide between technological and political solutions, so I'm being somewhat disingenuous here.

I do take your point about the disdain for technological solutions, but wasn't the whole point of Sen's work on famines that what the Indians needed was a government that was responsive to their needs?

Also I would strongly suggest that changing the dietary habits of five billion (really more like a billion) is probably going to be easier than demethaning cows, at least in the short run.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 3:25 AM
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At least, the people I know who want to demethane cows start their plans with things like: "well, once we've replaced all the grass with genetically engineered alternatives, and all the cow gut bacteria with genetically engineered alternatives, which we haven't got around to developing yet, and in fact we aren't quite sure you can, but anyway, once we've done all that, it'll be super easy!" which is not exactly off-the-shelf technology for the planetary ecology in a hurry, unlike "massive price hikes".


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 3:28 AM
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Why not just put the cows in big buildings and use the Master-Blaster solution.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 4:24 AM
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Yeah I guess I don't believe in a clear divide between technological and political solutions

This, yes. I'd say the real division is between political solutions that involve existing technology and political solutions that require new technology. You can't escape the political here. Changing technology always involves changing the way people do their jobs, conduct business, relate to each other. Its always political.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 4:49 AM
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STOP UT NOY, YE SINNERS. UT'S UMMORAL AND YE'LL GOY BLIND.


Posted by: Inert But Still Opinionated Ian Paisley | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 4:53 AM
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I can see gas flairs from my balcony. This is in a country where the local head of BP was just in the paper talking about the importance of taking "every last hydrocarbon" out of the ground. And they've got about 20 years of hydrocarbons left, and then the relatively prosperous economy is going to collapse.

Meanwhile, gas is being burned to fuel the reverse osmosis plant, because it was easier getting a private company to build a reverse osmosis plan and having them sell the water than it was to pay to fix the municipal piping infrastructure that leaks like a sieve. Public-private partnerships for the win!

I suppose hooking up the gas flair to the reverse osmosis plant would be too much to expect. Did I mention we have the world's second highest emissions of CO2 per capita?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 5:06 AM
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"Who runs Bartertown?"

"The Wisconsin Dairy Producer Association runs Bartertown."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 5:14 AM
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Let's call "TEDism" is the view that persistent social problems exist simply because (or, to be less caricaturely, "significantly because") creative people have spent insufficient time designing and testing the implementation of new production instruments and distribution networks meant to address the problem. To the extent that the TEDist acknowledges that there are issues of power and conflicting interests (i.e., politics) at the root of the problem, it's an issue of "incumbents" protecting their rents and power base. What's missing still is any sense of the politics of who owns and benefits from the proposed innovations, as well as who bears the consequences of their success or failure. Your fancy TED well may provide more water at less cost than whatever existed in rural Bolivia before, but it then becomes an attractive asset for an oligarch or corrupt local government, which displaces the local indigenous community that relied on the pre-TED well (insecurely, because of technological deficiencies, but at least with local control). At this point, the TEDist will have to start innovating at the level of political institution design to keep that from happening, but then the original assumption about what was at the root of the persistent social problem no longer holds.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 5:47 AM
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147 is me.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 5:48 AM
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149

Criminally Bulgur, you have accused me of TEDism. Prepare to die.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 6:12 AM
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And anti-TEDism is the view that persistent social problems can never be solved simply by technological advance, because the countries that suffer from these problems are always ruled by unrepresentative, unaccountable oligarchies devoted entirely to the welfare of the rich and powerful - every time any technology that might improve human welfare is presented, their response takes the following form:
a) it is conceivable that, given the right social conditions, this technology might fail to improve things for some of its users - or might even make things worse [this is always true, as it's always possible to imagine some way that a new technology might backfire]
b) I will describe these hypothetical conditions and assert that they exist somewhere in the real world;
c) therefore this technology will not definitely always and everywhere improve human welfare;
d) therefore it is useless, and the people who argue otherwise are bad people.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 6:22 AM
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And, of course, e) Anyone, therefore, who believes that technological progress on its own might improve the lives of anyone anywhere is on the side of brutal, unaccountable oligarchies devoted only to their own enrichment.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 6:23 AM
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151: One of the more compelling parts of Piketty was his comparison of what an average wage can buy now and what it could buy 100 years ago. Overall purchasing power increased six fold, but for many categories of goods technological change has meant much greater increases. "Purchasing power in terms of bicycles rose by a factor of 40 between 1890 and 1970." It used to be that it took six months average wages to buy an incredibly shitty bike. Now you can buy a really good bike for a week's average wages.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 6:44 AM
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Someone is just going to steal it. You should still buy a shitty bike.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 6:47 AM
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And now there are people below the poverty line who have smart phones, which King Croesus with all his gold could never have imagined, so really what's everyone complaining about? Heck!


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 6:47 AM
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Eh, I'd rather be below the poverty line with a smart phone than without one. Although really it is the improved nutrition and sanitation that is most helpful. And, of course, poverty is still bad.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 7:10 AM
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I'd rather have a smart phone in front of me than a frontal phonesmartomy.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 7:13 AM
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157

The industries that deliver nutrition and sanitation must be ripe for disruption.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 7:14 AM
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Apparently, the government is really starting to push for less water use in the corn belt. My cousins are putting in new irrigation that will save water. Previously, the irrigation system they used involved a pump, gravity, and ditches.

(Hi, Megan.)


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 7:18 AM
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150: I have technical skills. I do not have activism or political skills. People with those skills are down on applying tech, so I guess I'll just go have a beer instead and let somebody else worry about those problems.

Beyond that, it's a truism that not all technology's going to work and it certainly isn't going to solve all problems. A lot of the backlash against it is that people get excited out of proportion and derive social capital from the hype (via TED or whatever).


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 7:19 AM
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144 "On my behalf and on behalf of Sinn Féin I want to extend our sincere condolences to Eileen, Paisley's children Rhonda, Sharon, Cherith, Kyle and Ian, his grandchildren, family, friends and church and party colleagues."

-- Gerry Adams. Gerry Adams. If Paisley's in Hell, it must be fucking freezing.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 7:19 AM
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Some of my best friends are TEDists. I will cop to ajay 's a-c but rather than d-e, the upshot should be the banal point that the people funding the social innovatariat should think through technological interventions and their political context together, rather than wave away the latter as something to be dealt with later.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 7:21 AM
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Adams is just hoping that Paisley will get him a job when they're reunited down there.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 7:23 AM
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What a silly argument. Yes, innovative new technology can improve the world in many ways. Yes, there are deep political problems that are immune to or can potentially be exacerbated by technological solutions. Its a trade off!


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 7:24 AM
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I don't think many people are either TEDists exactly as described in 147 or anti-TEDists exactly as described in 150. The ones who are are stupid people. I think 147 and 150 describe common failure modes that moderate TEDists and anti-TEDists need to guard against.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 7:24 AM
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162: Perhaps they can swap stories about their respective tenures at the Manor of Northstead.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 7:26 AM
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162: I am reminded of Rory Bremner doing a version of "If" in the voice of John Major, which ended:

If you can meet with Adams, and with Paisley,
And treat those two impostors just the same,
If you can fill each parliamentary session
With bills to increase damage that you've done,
Yours is the world and all in its possession,
And, which is more, you'll still be here, my son.

("I'm still here!" was the catchphrase of Bremner's impression of the embattled Major.)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 7:27 AM
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159: Didn't we establish you only use your technical skills for evil? Maybe it's good you don't have activism or political skills.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 7:29 AM
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A couple days ago I was listening to a podcast that I thought would be interesting, but turned out to be a couple of bitcoin nutters going on about how bitcoin was going to disrupt money and change the world. Basically, libertarian TEDism. All the world has to do is accept bitcoin and all our shackles will dissolve.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 7:35 AM
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My anti-TED-ism is really more intense dislike of techno-utopians.

I actually tend to think that the Loomises of the world* are better at accurately diagnosing and describing problems we face, and way too unrealistic/pessimistic when it comes to both proposing and evaluating potential solutions.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 7:36 AM
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Also, yesterday I was introduced to "a venture capitalist who invests in agriculture." He lives in India. I did not have a chance to talk with him so I don't know if he is a profiteer or a visionary or some blend of both.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 7:37 AM
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167: Oh, yes. Good point. Between that and revealing that I listen to the Economist podcast and don't actively hate it that much I think I'm firmly rolling lawful evil by the standards here.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 7:39 AM
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168 That sounds like it would be fun to listen to, like https://twitter.com/shit_rbtc_says

I'll sign on to 169, parts 1&2.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 7:42 AM
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I can't for the life of me figure out if 147 is aimed at the people who give TED talks, the people who pay to go to TED events, or the people who enjoy and find forthwhile free TED talk videos on the internet. Those seem like rather different sets to be addressing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 7:42 AM
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I mean, Edward Snowden gave a TED talk. Imogen Heap gave a TED talk. Chris Kluwe gave a TED talk. Sure, you can imagine a coherent worldview that would think having those three people come and speak would be informative (and, indeed, the people who run TED probably have something like that worldview) but it's not like those three people have any kind of shared worldview to talk about. A lot of the TED speakers are just, you know, scientists. Doin' science. Take Gavin Schmidt, here. Yes, he uses (and writes about) computational models to try and explain climate change to a non-technical audience, so he is very much using technology to try and solve social problems instead of spending all his time railing at the oligarchs who will prevent any of this information from being used, but... I think he does good work, personally. RealClimate is a super useful resource.

But, sure, dude is probably up late on reddit talking about bitcoin. Fuck that dude. Bring on Eric "Fellow Traveler Bashing Asshole" Loomis and his sullen misinterpretation of current events.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 7:52 AM
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Check this guy out. He thinks you can help people who are missing a limb just by building them more useful prosthetics! Try keeping them from losing the limbs in oligarchs' wars of choice in the first place, asshole!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 7:55 AM
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Nobody's invited me to give a TED talk yet. I'd do it.

There is a low-rent TED extension seminar in town. I could probably get in on that. If I had something interesting to say, which I don't.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 7:57 AM
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Or what the fuck, dude, you think you can resist the Taliban just by standing up to them in your home country of Pakistan when they try to close schools? How about focusing on the real problems, schmuck.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 7:57 AM
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I think the argument here would be that if you make amputees' lives nicer you are actually lowering the cost of aggressive war, which will make further aggressive wars more likely.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 7:57 AM
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179

Sifu, you are really going all out to defend the TED empire. I had no idea you felt so strongly.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:02 AM
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The link in 172 is impressive. "Bitcoin is akin to pure truth. And truth always comes at a very high cost to those who do not embrace it."


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:03 AM
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"Forthwhile" should be a word, but I can't get my head around what its meaning should be. Maybe a forthwhile position is on that you not only one you hold publicly but one where you are willing to devote time to its implementation.

So,
Forthwhile TED talkers good.
Non-forthwhile TED talkers bad*.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:06 AM
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179: mostly, I'm bored. But I think it's worth distinguishing between the people who go to those things -- who are undeniably reprehensible -- and the people who give talks at them, a lot of whom are just kind of regular accomplished people doing interesting, useful things.

A senior colleague of mine gave one recently; it's not online to watch yet, and I'm sure it will be mockable for all the usual TED talk reasons (they give the speakers extensive training in how to give a TED-style talk, no matter how good the speakers already was at presenting; there's a reason they all seem to present so similarly) but she is a badass scientist who does badass work that's genuinely advancing human knowledge and our ability to improve people's lives. So that might be why I'm exercised, a bit.

Also I can't stand Loomis when he's not writing about labor history (those posts are fantastic).


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:08 AM
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179: He should give a talk.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:10 AM
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I would rock the fuck out of a TED talk. Let me know, TED! I'm reachable.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:11 AM
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I actually do work a job that entails finding technological solutions to social problems. And, uh, I haven't actually accomplished a whole lot in that regard. Basically because all the problems described by Anti-TEDism pose a far greater difficulty than the technology. I've got technical chops, but I've got nothing on the problem of motivating institutions to enact change.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:11 AM
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Or fuck a rock out of a TED talk. Who can say what's reachable?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:12 AM
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But I think it's worth distinguishing between the people who go to those things -- who are undeniably reprehensible...

I would rock the fuck out of a TED talk. Let me know, TED! I'm reachable.

My first thought was how it strange it would be to present scientific research to an audience one detests, but upon further reflection, it happens all the time, and may even be the norm.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:22 AM
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175. That's right! Make those amputees use sticks or roll-on carts if they are double amputees. That'll be sure to shame the people who make war into making peace instead!

WTF?!?


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:25 AM
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178, 188: Let's not get too exercised about the complete wrongness of strawmen.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:26 AM
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Fucking strawmen. A bunch of assholes, every last one of them.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:30 AM
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Generally, on the TEDism v. anti-TEDism, I'm naturally techno-optimist inclined; the improvements in standard of living even for poor people over the last century are astonishing when you think about it.

Except that we're doing an awful lot of what seems to me to be literally irrevocable environmental damage, at which point counting on technological improvement to continue to make anything better indefinitely seems disturbingly sanguine.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:33 AM
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Hunter S. Thompson used to write for Playboy. Norman Mailer used to write for Playboy, as did John Updike. And yet, Playboy's main influence on the world is not via literature.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:34 AM
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192: it's true that there would almost certainly be a market for Strip TED talks.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:35 AM
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Someday, I'm going to feel obligated to figure out who John Updike is.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:35 AM
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194: John Updike, Norman Mailer and Philip Roth are all basically the same man, and when he puts on a panama hat he becomes Tom Wolfe.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:36 AM
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193: They already had that one.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:37 AM
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194: I think you've actually put that one off long enough that it's no longer necessary.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:38 AM
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197: That's a relief. I learned who Philip Roth was and never really felt the effort was worth it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:39 AM
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Technology can reduce environmental degradation but yes that's a problem that needs more institutional change to make real progress upon.

individuals or smaller institutions can chip away at a problem, even if they can't solve it entirely, using technology when society as a whole might be making little or not progress. I don't see why that shouldn't be promoted. Yes, it makes it easier for leaders to ignore the problem or brush it aside as already solved, but that's going to happen anyway.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:42 AM
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I think anti-TED talk as used here is just a shorthand for being against annoying techno utopians, who not only exist but who have coopted a ludicrous amount of political/cultural space. Actually useful technology is of course great and incredibly important, it's just that there's now an actually existing techno-libertarian-utopian ideology that's out there and pretty current, and important to fight against. Obviously the right response isn't to just spit on new technology and claim it could never help anyone ever.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:46 AM
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When I was a teenager who aspired to be a sophisticated adult, I dutifully learned who Updike, Roth, and Mailer were. And yes, it was a complete waste of time because they're all on their way to being totally forgotten. (Also Martin Buber, who I think was forgotten before I finished high school.)


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:47 AM
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199: Yeah, I think Ajay has it right that both extreme TEDism and extreme anti-TEDism are a problem. I do find extreme TEDism more enraging, because it takes the form of very privileged people blithely handwaving other people's suffering. Extreme anti-TEDism, on the other hand, seems dumb, but mostly more irritating than harmful.

Like, the straw "New prosthetics just make war more tolerable, dude" guy invoked above? To the extent he exists, he seems to me to be massively unlikely to be in a position to hamper the development of new prosthetics. "We don't need to worry about institutions, just about creating so much technological wealth that we drown problems in abundance" types, on the other hand, seem to me to be much more likely in a position to affect where funding goes.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:48 AM
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Also Martin Buber, who I think was forgotten before I finished high school.

He shaved and became Saul Bellow.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:50 AM
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Strictly on the environmental issue, any conceivable solution on global warming is going to require a massive amount of technological innovation and progress. The core issue is how you create governmental structures that encourage or require that progress (cap and trade, a carbon tax, subsidized ckean energy, even direct regulation with reduction targets all will require and encourage new technology). The problem with TED-ism (used purely as a shorthand for techno-utopian-libertarianism, not as to any given TED speaker or issue) is that it often focuses on individual products produced in a market system as overhyped saviours, rather than on creating the institutional structures that would make long term, boring and unsexy but important, technological innovation to reduce emissions happen.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:54 AM
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He thinks you can help people who are missing a limb just by building them more useful prosthetics!

A buddy of mine recently got a job fabricating prosthetics at I think Ottobock, which has facilities here in town. Supposedly in training they were told that between all the military conflict in the last 15 years and the global explosion of the diabetes rate that the business outlook was bright.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:54 AM
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One TED talk per child.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:57 AM
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205: military amputees are high-profile but there haven't actually been that many of them. Only a few thousand in the US, in over a decade of war. That's not much to build a business on. No, diabetes is going to be the real driver.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:58 AM
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205: For all intents and purposes, it's entirely the diabetes explosion that is driving the volume growth. The significance of the war casualties is that they drove demand for higher functionality prostheses to suit younger amputees with greater physical ambitions. These innovations are now trickling down to the mass market the same way that the newest convenience features on a Mercedes show up in a Kia seven years later.


Posted by: kermit roosevelt, jr. | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 9:00 AM
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I think anti-TED talk as used here is just a shorthand for being against annoying techno utopians, who not only exist but who have coopted a ludicrous amount of political/cultural space.

Absolutely. It's bad enough when boring ol' Bill Gates is seen as a thought leader whose wisdom on all subjects is valuable. Now it's happening with Peter Thiel.

And Mark Cuban, who is basically the Donald Trump of a new generation. "What do you think about this problem, Mark Cuban? Share your insight, guy who suddenly got rich in 1999 and instantly exited the business that made you rich to start investing in random stuff." The answer is always "This problem will be solved soon enough when people stop acting irrationally against their own business interests."


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 9:10 AM
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Is the idea that cultural attention to the opinions of rich people on issues about which those rich people have no special expertise is a new phenomenon?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 9:12 AM
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The problem is that these rich people are too creative and flashy. Back when it was Jack Welch and Zbigniew Brzezinski, nobody actually listened to what they said because it was generic boilerplate. Their utterances were basically grey squares in the place of columns of text.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 9:14 AM
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For the record, I've only watched a handful of TED talks; I stopped as the format made it difficult for me to be able to tell when I was being sold a bill of goods. So maybe I'm not actually that far removed from your perspectives. And I see how it can get be damaging--I donated to the OLPC project, which was probably a giant failure opportunity cost-wise.

In situations where the trade off is between putting resources into institutional change and semi-ad hoc technology solutions, yes, I agree that most of the time marginal effort is better put into improving institutions. But there's a lot of time that that tradeoff doesn't happen. My ability to improve governance outside of those democratic institutions that I'm part of is basically nil; I can't even donate money to do so (nevermind how distasteful it is to have foreigners meddle in your political process). But I can certainly give money to somebody working on a, sigh, TED-like technological solution to a problem. I could just as well give it to an NGO that's doing non-technological work, and I often do, but usually that's also just a band-aid solution that I'd put in a similar category.

So, err, I think a cost-benefit analysis should be done on any possible solution, the opportunity cost should be calculated across the space of solutions that actors can actually influence, and technological solutions--even the kind that smug Silicon Valley types attach themselves to--shouldn't be ruled out, especially for ameliorating problems that institutions have long failed to solve.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 9:14 AM
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I'm not being anti-TED here. TED talks are given by people who know what they're talking about.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 9:19 AM
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207 and 208: Oh, totally. I think the basic gist was that the newest stuff was awesome and diabetes meant that demand was going nowhere but up in the foreseeable future.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 9:19 AM
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Back when it was Jack Welch...nobody actually listened to what they said because it was generic boilerplate

A couple hundredthousand downsized employees from the early 90s beg to disagree.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 9:30 AM
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I stopped as the format made it difficult for me to be able to tell when I was being sold a bill of goods

I'd argue that this is a big part of the problem with TED itself. As with most producers, they've increased production volume to meet demand, and there's no particular effort (that I can see) to maintain high quality of thought. High production quality, sure - they've got that down pat. But it would be pretty surprising if the ~300 new talks they now post every year are, on average, as insightful/valuable as the much smaller number that were given in the first 15 years of TED, when it was a much more limited number.

And so you've got this illusion that there's an endless supply of gee-whiz ideas that just need implementation to make everything OK, when most of those ideas are somewhere between banal and wrong*, but polished to a fine sheen by the TED factory**. And I think that's a very comforting illusion for a class of people with a lot of overlap with the people who think that, if only everyone listened to NPR, we'd have justice and harmony across the land (God, I wish that were truly a strawman, as opposed to a fairly straight paraphrase of things I've heard totebaggers*** say).

*"wrong" covering a lot of ground from outright charlatanism to merely unuseful, e.g. proffering a solution that won't solve the stated problem

**they claim to curate from among many talks, and I think it's safe to say that their curation isn't primarily driven by usefulness. They frankly admit that aesthetics are part of it, using that as the reason for not publishing several controversial talks

***I don't hate NPR, but I have a very similar skepticism towards it as I do towards TED. It's actually true that NPR does a better job of informing its listeners than pretty much any other mass media source, but that doesn't mean it's without significant flaws


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 9:33 AM
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||

Has anyone else noticed how dyspeptic Kevin Drum has become lately? I'm honestly starting to become concerned about his health, because this is the sort of personality change you observe in people experiencing chronic pain (he has talked about having unexplained respiratory symptoms).

|>


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 9:36 AM
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217: Dying pets can take up a lot of mental space.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 9:38 AM
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218: Doesn't typically make people lash out impatiently at the world, though, does it? Maybe my experience is atypical.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 9:44 AM
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What were you thinking of as out-of-character dyspeptic? I actually hadn't noticed, and I do read him reliably.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 9:45 AM
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The ISIS post (second from the top right now) is a bit more mordant than I would expect from him.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 9:49 AM
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No one post in particular, and maybe I'm reading too much into it. He's always had a "Be done with your nonsense" streak that crops up from time to time.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 9:51 AM
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The problem is that these rich people are too creative and flashy. Back when it was Jack Welch and Zbigniew Brzezinski, nobody actually listened to what they said because it was generic boilerplate

I don't think Zbigniew Brzezinski fits in here at all. Do you have him confused with someone else?

As for Jack Welch, Bob Somerby thinks he exerted his influence indirectly through his employees that hosted news shows.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 9:53 AM
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I don't think Zbigniew Brzezinski fits in here at all. Do you have him confused with someone else?

Yeah, my mind started to wander and I was thinking about the sort of person who would be in hot demand to write incredibly boring op-eds. THAT hasn't changed.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 9:57 AM
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It's easy to confuse him with all the other Zbigniews around.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 9:58 AM
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The TED model - high production values, relatively short, charismatic speaker, social media sharable - is a useful one for catapulting the propaganda. I'd like to see it co-opted to promote the revolution.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 9:58 AM
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226 - A TED talk on the inevitability of the dictatorship of the proletariat would be pretty awesome. As I recall the TED talk people have refused to release videos that they didn't want out there, though, so co-opting them would probably be unlikely to impossible.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 10:03 AM
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Zbigniew Brzezinski

I will never be able to think of him without hearing the Not Necessarily the News intro for "The Big News, with Zbigniew Brzezinski". One of those dumb jokes that never stops amusing me.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 10:15 AM
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RED talks.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 10:16 AM
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Should I buy this place? I think it might be hard to fix up. But I'd be able to walk to work and the nice Giant Eagle and, should the occasion arise, Lawrenceville.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 10:18 AM
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You don't see a lot of 0 bedrooms listed.

I think you should buy it as a teardown, and go cob-wild on the resulting lot.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 10:23 AM
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You could redo the facade using cob.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 10:23 AM
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It's four stories in the back with an open garage (really a loading dock). Can't do cob for that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 10:25 AM
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Or maybe just cob-over the peeling lead paint.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 10:25 AM
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Nothing looks worse than a cob-over.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 10:27 AM
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It looks like there's an open elevator shaft running through the thing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 10:27 AM
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Put a coffeeshop on the first floor targeted at in-going commuters.

(There's a coffeeshop in Uptown that does that that seems neat. But they put it on the *outgoing* one-way street, and they're not open in the evening. For roughly three years I've told myself "looks ok, should go there" and then promptly forget about it the next day.)


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 10:30 AM
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It was purchased for only $155,000 less than 3 years ago, so you could probably bargain them down.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 10:32 AM
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You could throw raves there.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 10:33 AM
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237: I don't think it's possible to have any parking in the front. But, looking on the county web site, it is huge. I think it is 3,600 square feet a floor with two floors above ground on all sides, one floor with only windows looking on three sides, and one floor that's basically a couple of openings for trucks.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 10:34 AM
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Anyway, walking into the bank and asking for a residential mortgage on it could at least be amusing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 10:38 AM
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Generally, on the TEDism v. anti-TEDism, I'm naturally techno-optimist inclined; the improvements in standard of living even for poor people over the last century are astonishing when you think about it.

This is my default position as well. My immediate reaction was to want to defend TED talks, but then I remembered that I have only watched a handful of them, and that may be the key to the fact that I still have some affection for the idea of TED talks.

But I also enjoyed Bruce Sterling's Viridian Manifesto, even though, looking back, it doesn't appear to have offered any avenue for actual change.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 10:43 AM
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235: Nothing looks as rented as a rented cob-house.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 10:45 AM
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Yeah, I think Ajay has it right that both extreme TEDism and extreme anti-TEDism are a problem

But this TED is just right.


Posted by: Opinionated Goldilocks | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 10:47 AM
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It would probably be $50,000 just for new window plus I'd bet it needs a new roof and some extensive hobo-feces removal.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 10:49 AM
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If you have $300k or so for renovations, you could have a sweet pad plus the international headquarters of MH Global Enterprises, Inc. I say go for it.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 10:51 AM
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If I had $300k, I'd have an assistant to leave comments for me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 10:54 AM
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You could turn it into a studio for RED talks.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 10:59 AM
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I think that's the same block where Pittsburgh Filmmakers is.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 11:00 AM
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You say open elevator shaft, I say firepole opening.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 11:01 AM
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Thanks for the typeface suggestions above. Looking at Copperplate too.

Moby, buy the building and have JRoth help you fix it up because friends. The elevator shaft presents intriguing possibilities. I was just in a slickly converted former industrial building that used a similar space as a little courtyard (maybe 8'x12') with a hammock and some shade plants.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 11:05 AM
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It's too close to other buildings to grow pot on the roof, if that's what you're thinking.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 11:08 AM
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No, you do that inside with grow lights.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 11:13 AM
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But you could grow a lot in 10,000 square feet or whatever it has.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 11:15 AM
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Now is probably a bad time to start an illegal growing operation. But if you must get in that business it might be cheaper to just use it as a warehouse and distribution center for imports from Colorado.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 11:19 AM
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It would make a hell of a dispensary. You could sell weed on the ground floor, then have your guests go hang out upstairs in the RED studio. Revolutionary talk always goes over better when the audience is high.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 11:23 AM
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255: You're probably right. Buy it and move it to Washington.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 11:30 AM
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I've been using boring Times New Roman for my resumes (archivist/librarian type positions) but now I'm thinking I should change it. Probably the least of my worries but please let us know what you decide, JMQ.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 12:12 PM
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My original version was in Times New Roman, but I was (wisely, I think) counseled to change it for this particular job.

In related news, looking for work is soul-destroying, but most of you probably already knew that.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 12:20 PM
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259.last Pull up a chair, you got a few hours days?


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 12:24 PM
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230: I've dreamed of fixing up that place for years. Long walk from Market District, though.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 1:06 PM
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Do you know when it was last in use?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 1:10 PM
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I don't recall it ever being in use. Certainly not in the last dozen years, but probably not in 20 or more.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 1:39 PM
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So, definitely a new roof and probably a five-figure budget for hobo-feces removal.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 1:48 PM
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a five-figure budget for hobo-feces removal.

Archaeological vandal! Today's hobo poop is fodder for the future's bad generalization about today's diet.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 2:22 PM
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