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Science is a democracy after all

Posted by Bob
on 08.30.03

Do I understand this right? The EPA is empowered by the Clean Air Act to regulate emissions of any gas that could harm human welfare, including climate. The EPA has never proved that carbon dioxide emissions harm the climate (it does!!!), so carbon dioxide is outside the EPA's jurisdiction? It's argumentum ad ignorantiam again!

Anyway, who decides whether carbon dioxide is proved to harm human welfare? Apparently Congress does: "It is clear that an administrative agency properly awaits Congressional direction on a fundamental policy issue such as global climate change," writes general counsel Robert Fabricant in the relevant decison. Well, I'm at least glad that someone in the government is going to pore through the data, verify the reams of peer-reviewed mathematical models and statistical analyses, and make sure that the sensors on the satellites were all properly calibrated. We can't trust that to the scientists, though their work is the fruit of bezillions of dollars in NSF, EPA, NASA, and DOE grants.

Hrrmph, I'm going to go play with Unf's butt now.


 

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Jiggle, jiggle

Posted by Unf
on 08.30.03

Thought I would mark my return to the blog by linking to something scholarly and inspiring, as is the custom on unfogged. Click on the image, drag a little ways and then let go.

Via Quixotic Crap.


 

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Lovely

Posted by Bob
on 08.30.03

Slate's Virginia Heffernan is a nuanced and articulate TV critic. Here's her description of what is clearly the biggest media event since the lunar landing (I didn't actually see it -- I judge most things on the basis of hype):

Madonna had come as the man—the sugar daddy, maybe, twirling the little girls, keeping them in line, and finally kissing Spears. She also kissed Aguilera, to be fair, but the camera barely registered it, and we all know that Madonna has long leered at Britney. Britney swooned into the kiss, her mouth soft.

The small thrill of this kiss was real to me because, though girls making out with girls is an old party stunt, this time it came off as female lechery: overmuscled, rich, landed matriarch Madonna (in tails, no less) preying on sweetie Spears, who (in wedding white) hasn't even had a first marriage yet. "Hollywood," Madonna cooed as she brushed hair tenderly from Britney's face. "How could it hurt you when it looks so good?"

Slate has gone so far as to blow up the video still and plaster it across their front page. Here's a piece of it. And here are Razib's musings on Madonna+Britney at Gene Expression. I agree wholeheartedly with the gist of his post: Hartl & Clark's Principles of Population Genetics is a great starting point for anyone trying to learn population genetics.


 

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Equal Time

Posted by Ogged
on 08.29.03

John Turri, author of the post about Kucinich that I summarily dismissed, has posted a reply in the comments.



 

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Somebody's Being Billed For This

Posted by Ogged
on 08.29.03

The Incompetent Attorney has his moments.

July 10, 2003
Not Cool
Last night in Starbucks, after ordering a Frappachino:
Guy: "You want me to cut down the straw?"
Me: "What?"
Guy: "Some people think the straw is too long so I cut it down if you like."
Me: "No, that's ok- I like it long and uncut."
Guy: "Yes sir."
Me: "How often do you hear that joke?"
Guy: "All the time sir."
Me: "So I'm not cool."
Guy: "No sir."

...

August 6, 2003
Communication is the Key
Partner walked into my office last night:
Partner: "What is this pile?"
IA: "The results of the search. The copy guy just brought them in, I haven't even looked at them yet."
Partner: "What does this term mean here?"
IA: "I don't know, I haven't even looked at it yet."
Partner: "When you read a document and you see a term you don't understand, you should look it up. That way, when I look at the document, you can explain it to me."
IA: "Ok."

...

July 28, 2003
Expenditures
I may be closer to my mom than most people.
IA: "I've got to go, I'm going to a gay party tonight for some guy I work with."
Mom: "Are you gay now? You'd be a great gay guy, you cook and clean and you're thin."
IA: "Yeah, but I'd have to buy all new porn. And I can't really afford that."
Mom: "Is that a lot of money? What do you have- those 'girls gone bad' videos?"
IA: "No, other stuff. And yeah, it would be a lot of money."
Mom: "Ok, well have a good time at your party."

I came across his blog months ago and couldn't remember at all what it was called. Now he'll be seeing "lawyer "new york" shit fuck cook blog" in his referrers.


 

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Fallacies within fallacies

Posted by Bob
on 08.29.03

Paul Meyers at Pharyngula will "teach the controversy" surrounding evolution and Intelligent Design creationism when someone convinces him that IDC has enough merit to use the term controversy. He lists several dozen scientific organizations that oppose teaching IDC in biology classes. Amy Greenwood references this and writes:

Personally, I'd like to see a chapter defining the basic logical fallacies included in all science textbooks. Argumentum ad numerum is currently my favorite, but there are so many others. False dichotomy is also a good one. I wonder how early these could be taught? Fourth grade, maybe? Its possible that early training in logic might prevent people from becoming attached to stupid ideas that they will later hang onto and defend out of nostalgia or sense of tradition.

If you didn't know that she agrees with Paul, you might think that Amy is accusing Paul of resorting to argumentum ad numerum to defend evolution. She's not -- in fact, she (I'm certain) thinks the creationists are guilty of appealing to false dichotomy (i.e., either the eye evolved or it was designed, and it can't have evolved).

But is Paul using an AAN argument by listing so many supporters of evolution? No, because it's not the absolute number of organizations that he's referring us to but to the fraction of the scientific community (99.99999%) that opposes teaching creationism as science. That is, he's saying that there's a consensus.

This consensus makes it clear that the creationists (including the ID creationists) are appealing to is a different logical fallacy: argumentum ad ignorantiam, and that even this fallacious argument doesn't stand. In AAI, someone claims that our ignorance implies some truth. We don't know how the eye could have evolved (actually we pretty much do -- the ID creationists use fallacies and lies), so creationism must be true. By establishing that there's a scientific consensus, Paul is saying that we do know of a viable and parsimonious explanation for adaptation, so even on its own AAI terms the creationist tactic (an appeal to the Conservation of Debate) fails.

Questions: Should scientists counter creationism's AAI claims by showing that even the AAI argument fails? Does that legitimize faulty thinking? And does it suggest to the world that science is a democracy, and that specific scientific claims can be overturned by referendum?


 

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Beyond the Limits of Human Endurance

Posted by Ogged
on 08.29.03
A woman, thirsty, sitting at her desk, drinks from her bottle of water and then forgets where she is.
Suddenly, what can only be described as a slip of Pavlovian proportions occurs. The stark contrast of severe longing and satisfaction must have triggered a conditioned response mirroring my post jogging routine, in which I attempt to calm my dry burning throat by taking a heaping gulp of water and then pouring a large amount, if not the remainder of the contents, all over my face ... Here I sit at my desk, drenched about my face and torso
Why don't my co-workers ever do these things? (via Lisa Chau)

 

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Hold the Outrage, For Once

Posted by Ogged
on 08.29.03

I'm not a Schwarzenegger fan and I hope he doesn't win.  But his candidacy is our best hope for excising spurious personal attacks from politics.  Liberals have been arguing for years that politics has become a dumb, bland game of gotcha that keeps the best people from running and the best ideas out of public discourse.  If they keep attacking Schwarzenegger (or even not-quite-attacking him), they will lose their credibility.  If they meet him on the issues and let pass the orgies, weed smoking, nude pictures and whatever else, they will have a very powerful rebuttal when one of their own is attacked that way in the future.  It's really a great chance, but I don't know if people will be able to resist.


 

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The conservation of debate

Posted by Bob
on 08.29.03

I haven't read The Skeptical Environmentalist, but I did notice that the article defending him uses a clever rhetorical trick used by many anti-environmentalists. The article doesn't bother to say anything about the actual arguments made by Lomborg or by his detractors. Instead it examines the discourse and tries to paint one side (the environmentalists) as partisan and therefore in the wrong. It implies that the mainstream scientific community, by failing or refusing to welcome all iconoclastic voices in open debate, is hiding something or burying its egglike head in the sand. Balance is the watchword, and balance is what mainstream science is accused of lacking.

Problem 1: Why is it okay for anti-environmentalism to be partisan, but not environmentalism?

Problem 2, and this one is subtler and more problematical: Balance is the wrong criterion. Or balance is right, but the currency is wrong. A Lomborg defender (who's described as a distinguished professor of biogeography at University College London -- fancypants credentials are necessary for this trick, and this guy was the best they could find?) is quoted:

Not only did [Scientific American] run an editorial criticizing Dr. Lomborg, it gave space to four known environmentalists to write separate articles attacking him with no balancing articles whatsoever from senior scientists who are likely to support Dr. Lomborg's critique. Again, I have never heard the like. In a so-called scientific journal, such a course of action beggars belief.

Leaving aside the "known envirnmentalists" and the fact that SA is not a journal but a magazine (i.e., no new scientific findings, review articles for a general science-loving audience, no implicit claim to scientific objectivity), the guy is trying to establish numerical equivalence of partisan representatives as the standard of good journalism. So to use my earlier language, he wants balance, and the currency is number of partisans.

The claim is that there should be what Stanford climatologist Stephen Schneider calls the conservation of debate. There exist more than one side to an issue, says the debate conservationists, and all sides must be equally represented. Many scientists think the world is warming due to a buildup of atmospheric greenhouse gases. A number of scientists disagree, so fairness would dictate that any time one kind of scientist is given voice so should the other kind.

The problem is that not all sides deserve equal representation. Sure, when some scientific issue first emerges, no one can really tell which voices have how much merit. But after a while, some ideas persist and others are just shown to be wrong. Those discredited ideas will always continue to have their adherents -- frequently very vocal ones. Should these adherents continue to get the same media coverage and public sympathy as does the consensus opinion? Certainly they should be heard when they are able to address substantive issues with substantive arguments. But they should not be given airtime simply because they disagree.

It largely comes down to noncommital journalists. Journalists hate making judgments, and so they'd rather just throw everyone on the screen and figure that the public can decide for itself. Unfortunately airtime is implicit endorsement. And it's expensive: when people have to take the time and effort to show up on a public-radio panel discussion or Nightline debate every time an energy-industry scientist wants to dispute global warming, it takes time away from other, more productive work. Conservation-of-debate arguments also favor oversimplifications of scientific theories. When the scientific consensus is complicated and must be presented in all its complexity to make any sense, the mainstream scientists come off as obfuscationists.

Ogged is going to want to know how we can tell the difference between disgruntled, crackpot media-hogs, and real iconoclasts with something of value to say, though it challenge the scientific status quo. Certainly there have been celebrated cases of disturbing theories proved right: endosymbiosis, prion pathogenesis. One answer is that responsible iconoclasm addresses the primary scientific literature (the journals which the quoted biogeographer confuses with magazines). Another is that they don't whine so much about media bias. They can whine a little, but the complaint can't be the bulk of their argument. A third is that they genuinely engage with the scientific consensus, instead of ignoring it to propose new theories, or wholesalely trashing it and proposing nothing to explain the facts any better.

Incidentally, conservation of debate is also a popular tool among creationists. I also blame it for the media's kid-gloving of Bush during his campaign debates with Al Gore.


 

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The Return, Sorta

Posted by Ogged
on 08.29.03

Should I even link to it? Ted Hinchman, of Diachronic Agency, is back. As usual with Ted, that most self-conscious and apologetic of bloggers, there's a twist: he's turning off comments. It's good to see him back, even if I can't try to drive him up a wall.


 

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I'm Ignorant, You're Nuts

Posted by Ogged
on 08.28.03
That's Mars? Great bijiminy, I'd be red too if a billion people came out to see me and all I could manage was a little speck you can't tell apart from a Cessna. Now, obviously I've never looked at the sky in my life (I have noticed the moon!) and I did fail astronomy in college, but surely this is the most underwhelming thing I've ever almost seen. MORE: Mark Godburn understands.

 

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Bjorn Lomborg

Posted by Ogged
on 08.28.03

Bjorn Lomborg, the "Skeptical Environmentalist" who argued that gloomy scenarios like this one were overblown, is back in the news. Here's a piece defending him against his attackers. Perhaps a scientist would like to weigh in on this, but isn't Lomborg's work in fact pretty dodgy?


 

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But If Arnold and Cruz Go To a Party...

Posted by Ogged
on 08.28.03

The Apostropher has some thoughts on the Ten Commandments and regional pride.


 

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Bring on the Google Hits

Posted by Ogged
on 08.28.03

Is this true?

male love of lesbian scenes is considered so politically incorrect, such an arrogant display of male power. All that view really proves is the power of ideology to trump common sense, to obscure the evidence that's right in front of your nose. There's something fundamentally silly about arguing that men are reveling in male power in scenes in which male sexuality is completely absent -- moreover, completely unnecessary. Straight men who dig lesbian scenes are abandoning male power, bowing down (or, um, standing up) before their own sheer awe at the beauty of women.

You have to run with a peculiar crowd to believe that love of lesbian scenes is politically incorrect. Taylor actually outdoes the p.c. crowd by arguing that lesbian porn appeals to men's self-loathing--I'm just going to ignore that. But let's set all that aside, because even if it's not un-p.c., there's still the question of whether men watching lesbian porn are "abandoning male power."

They sure aren't. Taylor, despite his claim to be speaking for common sense against ideology, ignores the one bedrock fact of male jealousy and desire: it's not about having the girl, it's not about sharing the girl, it's about keeping her from other guys. To the male viewer, the absence of men from lesbian porn doesn't signal superfluity, it signals opportunity.

Female friends find this offensive: women don't count, even as competition. Some have told me that in failing to see them as threatening, I'm underestimating the depth of lesbian relationships. That second criticism surely misses the point: my female friends assume that my main concern is not losing the girl, and that I don't realize I could lose her to another woman. But I don't care about losing the girl, I only care if another guy gets her.

But why don't I care if another woman gets her? Fill in your own favorite theory here. I think we're in the land of free speculation. If you prefer the biological, you may say that I'm not in genetic competition with other females. Social theories may say that women really are devalued and not even important enough to make men jealous. My own guess is that we fashion identity and self-worth by differentiating ourselves from what's closest to us.

That's hardly an exhaustive list of possible explanations. But one thing's for sure: porn never makes a guy forget about dicks.


 

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Where Did You Come From?

Posted by Ogged
on 08.28.03

Brad DeLong has a very interesting post up about shopping for meat in Europe and the US (also read the very good dissenting comments). His post reminded me of something that I've noticed when I go grocery shopping lately. I don't know if this is peculiar to where I live or if others have had the same experience, but to go from my local Whole Foods to the local big chain grocery is to cross some class divide that seems much wider than it has in the past. Whole Foods is almost a country club: the employees are hopping to serve with a smile, the men look rich and powerful or young and fit and there are no fat women. At the local big chain, service is horrible, I see the elderly and veterans and people who are pretty clearly "on the edge."

Now, here's the twist. While some items (meat among them) are cheaper at the local big chain, where the big chain and Whole Foods carry the same thing, prices are comparable, and sometimes higher, at the big chain. I'm sure that "where they carry the same item" is very important, but the big chain is just not so far different in pricing to explain (to my mind, in any case) the disparity in the shoppers and the shopping. (Ok, I'm not convinced that I'm not underestimating the importance of what's bought: the frugal baseline at the chain is probably much lower than the frugal baseline at Whole Foods. But still!)


 

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A portrait of the governor as a young man

Posted by Bob
on 08.28.03

After describing a "gang-bang" at the Venice, Calif., Gold's Gym, in which "there was a black girl who came out naked" and "everybody jumped on her and took her upstairs, where we all got together," California's next governor said this:

Having chicks around is the kind of thing that breaks up the intense training. It gives you relief, and then afterward you go back to the serious stuff.

(All this in a 1977 interview in Oui posted at The Smoking Gun. Read the whole thing.)

It's no wonder Mr. Olympia feels no need to denounce Kurt Waldheim for Waldheim's youthful indiscretions. Question is, has Mr. Olympia matured any?

Vote for Carey. Or Bustamante.


 

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Just Checking the Water

Posted by Ogged
on 08.27.03

At the risk of sounding like a bad comedy routine, I just have to note this strange behavior that I keep seeing.

Scene: Public bathroom with two stalls and two urinals (details may vary). One stall occupied.

Action: A man walks in, clearly intending to use a stall. When he sees that one stall is occupied, he pretends that what he really intended to do is wash his hands. He then wets his hands, dries them, and walks out.

The End.

What's that about? There is a free stall, after all. Some people have no problem "stalling communally," so to speak. Privacy? Modesty? Shame? All understandable, but why the fake hand-washing? Is it that the latecomer can't admit that he's been thwarted? Must he pretend that what he really came all this way to do is wash his hands? Or is it politeness? He doesn't want the stall occupant to feel like he's interfering with someone else's stall use, so he pretends that no, old chum, just here to wash my hands, take your time.

This would make a great research project: send armies of undergraduates to camp out in stalls and record what people do. And what about the ladies, do you do this perfunctory wash of the hands too?


 

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What He Said

Posted by Ogged
on 08.27.03
This is the kind of textual interpretation that makes me excited about textual interpretation. What did Jesus mean when he taught to "turn the other cheek?" (via My Irony).
"If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also." Most people picture a blow with the right fist. But that would land on the left cheek, and Jesus specifies the right cheek. A left hook wouldn't fit the bill either, since the left hand was used only for unclean tasks, and even to gesture with it brought shame on the one gesturing. Jesus is speaking about striking the right cheek with the back of the right hand. This was not a blow to injure. It was symbolic. It was intended to humiliate, to put an inferior in his or her place. It was given by a master to a slave, a husband to a wife, a parent to a child, or a Roman to a Jew. The message of the powerful to their subjects was clear: You are a nobody, get back down where you belong.
By turning the other cheek, the person struck puts the striker in an untenable spot. He cannot repeat the backhand, because the other's nose is now in the way. The left cheek makes a fine target, but only persons who are equals fight with fists, and the last thing the master wants is for the slave to assert equality (see the Mishnah, Baba Kamma 8:6). This is, of course, no way to avoid trouble; the master might have the slave flogged to within an inch of her life. But the point has been irrevocably made: the "inferior" is saying, in no uncertain terms, "I won't take such treatment anymore. I am your equal. I am a child of God." By turning the other cheek, the oppressed person is saying that she refuses to submit to further humiliation. This is not submission, as the churches have insisted. It is defiance.
Is this a correct interpretation? Is it "true?" I don't know, and it's not clear whether, given issues of translation and culture, we can "know." But it's wonderful work, because it lets Christianity mean things we may not have thought it could mean. It's true insofar as it speaks to the human experience and allows us to articulate our own situation in more satisfying ways. Great stuff.

 

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The Derb, Some Nation's National Treasure

Posted by Ogged
on 08.27.03
Normally, I wouldn't respond to a John Derbyshire column. Derbyshire, for those who haven't heard of him, is, to be completely objective, the National Review's most wacko wacko. He's a classics buff and enjoys some sort of communion with the Lord. He has, as he displays in his latest column about Roy Moore and the Ten Commandments, some nifty abilities.

Ability to make outrageous generalizations about other Christians.

[Bill Pryor is] having trouble getting confirmed because he's a conservative and a Christian, and Senate Democrats hate conservatives and hate Christians.
Ability to pretend that the 14th Amendment and the doctrine of "incorporation" don't exist.
Nobody has suggested that Roy Moore is lobbying Congress to pass a law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; nor does it seem that he demands those state officers under his control to recite the Nicene Creed as a condition of getting or keeping their jobs. Case closed.
Ability to pretend that objections to irrational, theocratic religiosity are the same as objections to Christianity more generally.
What is really going on down in Montgomery is, of course, another battle in the bitter, hate-filled...war against Christianity. One of the principal features of American life...is the seething, foam-flecked detestation that large sections of U.S. society feel towards Christians and their faith.
Ability to be anti-Semitic, anytime, anyplace.
Some [of the opposition to Roy Moore and the display of the Ten Commandments] is Jewish anti-Christianism. (All right, all right, I know we're not supposed to talk about this, but isn't it true? Lots of Jewish Americans are brought up to associate Christianity with pogroms, discrimination, and the atrocities of the Crusaders. Naturally they're anti-Christian.)
Naturally. But, more seriously, he makes an argument that does deserve to be addressed (quote and column found via American Digest).
There is a war on...they murdered 3,000 of us...Manufacturing jobs are long gone...Public-sector unions are pillaging our state treasuries... trial lawyers are chewing their way like termites through the private sector. We have 13 million illegal immigrants scoffing at our laws and helping themselves to the welfare provisions...Our education systems are collapsing under absurd demands that "no child be left behind"...
In short, we are going to hell in a hand basket here, and all you liberals can think of is to jab your finger in the eyes of 46 percent of your fellow citizens over some footling dubious point of Constitutional law? Just ask yourselves — please, please, ask yourselves: Is Roy's Rock really a proper target for my zeal, my energy, my passion, my money? Is my reaction to it in any kind of proportion to any harm it might conceivably do?
The answer, of course of course, is yes. When "we are going to hell in a hand basket" and "46%" of the country is supposedly sympathetic to a clear breach of the Constitution (all either other justices of the Alabama Supreme Court disagreed with Moore) and in favor of a move toward theocracy, then few things are more important than making sure that that impulse doesn't gain strength, that it is squashed quickly and forcefully. Is Al-Qaeda, or any band of terrorists, a mortal threat to this nation? Of course not. The nation, in fact, will survive just about anything. There will be people on this huge, fertile patch of land as long as there are people. The question is what kind of society they will form. Some of us think that a secular, democratic society that respects individuals and their right of private worship should endure; John Derbyshire has other things in mind.


 

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Wilson, Plame, Rove

Posted by Ogged
on 08.27.03

Way back when, I wrote that if the Valerie Plame affair (go here for details) touched one of the big names in the Bush administration, Bush wouldn't be reelected. Well, now Karl Rove has been fingered as the source of the leak.


 

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Blogrolling

Posted by Ogged
on 08.26.03

I've made a few changes to the blogroll. I've deleted Gizmodo, only because I want to keep the blogroll manageable and I don't think most people come here for tech links. I've added four smart and enjoyable blogs: the Apostropher, My Ro-bot Life, The Bandarlog and Planned Obsolescence. Scoundrels all, I'm sure, but good bloggers!


 

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Lt. Kylan Jones-Huffman

Posted by Ogged
on 08.26.03
Today "post"-war deaths of US soldiers exceeded war deaths. Quite honestly, that doesn't seem very significant of itself (I realize people are angry that Bush used the announcement of the end of active combat for political gain, but the basic premise--that there was heavy fighting and now there isn't--seems sound). But I don't want to get involved in that debate and don't want to base anything on a daily tally: no matter how tempting or politically expedient, let's not put ourselves in the position where someone's death causes even a brief moment of thinking "good!" Mainly, I want to pass along the story of Kylan Jones-Huffman, a Navy lieutenant who was killed a few days ago in Iraq. He seems to have been an extraordinary man and I wanted to remember him here with a few links. There's a poignant obituary from the area where he grew up and Juan Cole of Informed Comment was in contact with Jones-Huffman and has posted their fascinating correspondence, so you can get a sense of the person.

 

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This Shirt Stays On

Posted by Ogged
on 08.26.03

If I were Raymi, would you love me?



 

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More RSS Goodness

Posted by Ogged
on 08.26.03

The RSS feeds now include the TrackBack URL and a link to the comments for each entry. This should make it easier for people who read the site using RSS to comment on or link to a post. Let me know if there are other features you'd like to see.


 

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Ommmmm

Posted by Ogged
on 08.26.03

We had a lively discussion about Bush in the comments a few days ago. One of the points about which everyone seemed to agree was that Clinton-hating was much more virulent than Bush-hating, so I thought you'd all be interested in this post by Pejman Yousefzadeh.

First, Pejman quotes Jonah Goldberg, (read the whole quote)

[The Clinton White House] produced reports claiming that anecdotes from fringe videos and Web sites were the conventional wisdom on the right. Bill Clinton bragged how no president had faced the orchestrated "hate" he'd had to endure (this would have been uproarious to Richard Nixon). There was no shortage of sympathetic media for this manufactured martyrdom.
Well, today the campaign of "manufactured hate" against George Bush in many respects dwarfs the campaign against Bill Clinton. As my colleague Byron York notes in the Sept. 1 issue of National Review, the most outrageous accusations against Bush are commonplace on the left and in liberal circles today, but we don't get articles in the mainstream press ridiculing "Bushophobia."
Web sites dedicated to the Bush family's "Nazi past" are all over the place. Articles comparing Bush to Adolph Hitler abound on the Internet and in countless elite newspapers and magazines in Europe and the Middle East.
And it's not just on the fringe or overseas. Accusations and insinuations that Bush launched an entire war for base political reasons are commonplace on cable TV debates and by many leading Democrats, including Al Gore. This charge is vastly more outrageous than the one leveled at Bill Clinton's conveniently timed Cruise missile strikes during impeachment, but no one seems to mind.

To his credit, Pejman recognizes that the Republican obsession with Clinton was self-defeating, but he also adds,

the hypocrisy and the stridency of the attacks on the Bush Administration's policies and personalities blows away even the most virulent "Clinton-hating" around. It is one thing to oppose President Bush. It is another thing altogether to compare him to Hitler--something that many of those who decried "Clinton-hating" in the 1990s are doing today.

I'm starting to think this may be an issue where anything approaching an "objective" analysis is impossible for any one person. After all, it's precisely this kind of issue--which depends on not-quite-consciously accumulating evidence over time--which seems most susceptible to personal bias. So, naturally, given my own political inclinations, I'd say Jonah and Pejman are wrong: lots of liberals hate Bush, but what made the Republican Clinton-hating more virulent was that the charges weren't even connected to reality (e.g., crack dealing, murder) and, more importantly, that Republican hatred turned into destructive action, in the form of the impeachment.

But, having said that, I have to admit, perhaps I'm just blinded. Maybe Bush-hating is worse than Clinton-hating and I just don't notice because I'm sympathetic to it. Is there a more convincing way of making distinctions between the two phenomena and judging their virulence?


 

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100% Natural

Posted by Ogged
on 08.25.03

If I've ever implied that you don't get shit for your money when you buy penis enlargement pills, let me say for the record, I was mistaken.


 

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Higher, deeper

Posted by Bob
on 08.25.03

Hooray, PHD is back! I knew Mike wouldn't graduate.


 

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In Earth's name

Posted by Bob
on 08.25.03

The Earth Liberation Front has claimed responsibility for several recent acts of vandalism, including an arson incident which damaged or destroyed 40 Hummer H2s. President Jed Bartlett points out that the environmental community must condemn terrorism carried out in its name just as religious leaders must condemn religious terrorism. (Timothy Burke at Easily Distracted says something similar.) He's right, and I do condemn it. And just as mainstream Muslim scholars go to pains to point out that Osama bin Laden's claims to religious justification are just Islam-flavored excuses for religiously unjustifiable actions, I must point out that ELF's claims to environmentalism are just flavoring as well, and not the kind that does anyone any good: (1) The debate over SUV culture should be about energy policy and motorists' personal responsibility to the community. ELF turns the debate into one about how violent and irrational environmentalists are, and so they end up letting General Motors and Arnold Schwarzenegger off the hook. (2) ELF frequently chooses easy, wrong answers when the issues get even a little complex, like when they bombed a lab at the University of Washington in which scientists did genetic research (not even genetic-engineering research, which still wouldn't be so bad) to improve urban forests and wetlands. And (3) the whole point about consumer-targeted environmentalism is that people should think before they buy, eat, drive, etc, and that the thinking should include consequences that extend beyond one's convienience, one's community, and one's generation. ELF's message is that actions speak louder than thinking, so no more thinking need be done. Don't hybridize these trees because genetic science is evil. Don't drive that car because behemoths are evil. The thing is, if environmental issues all come down to good or evil, which one is pharmaceutical prospecting in rainforests? Which one are corporate incentives for reducing carbon emissions? Which one is Al Gore?


 

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Stop By For a Chat

Posted by Ogged
on 08.25.03

It's odd that traffic stop data is some of the best information we have for gauging community attitudes. Given that, this Boston Globe site is a treasure-trove of information. Brett Marston has posted a nice summary of some of the data.


 

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I Got Your Poor People Right Here

Posted by Ogged
on 08.25.03

I was trying to decide how best to condense a subscriber-only Economist article with an extremely interesting take on globalization when I noticed that Brad DeLong had posted the whole thing. Thanks Brad! Go take a look at a couple of very interesting charts and the Economist's rather fair interpretation.


 

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But which one has bigger pecs?

Posted by Bob
on 08.25.03

Schwarzenegger's not the only porn star in the race to replace Gray Davis. Gubernatorial candidate and star of New Wave Hookers 8 and Boobsville Sorority Girls Mary Carey is offering "dates" to donors who contribute $5000 or more to her campaign. The NY Post's Page Six reports that one early contributor was a little disappointed in how far Carey was willing to go with him: the two were never left alone, and the conversation was all business. Not that it was no fun, though: "We drove around in a big car and went for a meal."

FOLLOWUP:

Actually, having spent five minutes at her campaign web site, I'd gladly have Mary Carey run the California state government. She's got some traditional liberal ideas (e.g., gay marriage in California), some innovative twists on traditional ideas (e.g., a porn-for-pistols exchange to get handguns off the streets), and some revolutionary proposals for government reform (e.g., greater transparency by installing live webcams in every room of the governor's mansion). Much better all that than this (as already linked by Ogged).


 

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Kucinich

Posted by Ogged
on 08.24.03

I hate to pick on people, but this, even from a philosophy student at Brown, is inexplicable.

At present, progressives don't have to compromise. Kucinich's candidacy is viable and strengthening. There's reason to think that he can defeat Bush if he gets the chance...

I'm probably supposed to make a reasoned argument why this isn't just untrue, but so untrue as to be a legitimate object of wonder and, perhaps, study. But, given the fact that this conclusion comes at the end of a 2000 word post, I'd say it's not a good day for reasoned argument. Let's do it another way. I'll bet anyone (and everyone) that Dennis Kucinich won't even be able to win a single Democratic primary, let alone the Democratic nomination, let alone the Presidency. I will bet them, not $10, not $20, but a million jillion dollars. (Note to Feds: overheated rhetoric in progress, no real wagering intended.)

UPDATE: I've been informed via email that long odds, not big stakes, make the man. True enough, but I thought it was pretty clear that this post was pure bluster. Good to see people taking me seriously.


 

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Listen to the Bee

Posted by Ogged
on 08.24.03

Daniel Weintraub, the Sacramento Bee's blogger, who is the source for information and analysis about the recall election, makes two excellent points--not about the recall, but about the liberal media and polling--in the same great paragraph.

But having worked at The [Los Angeles] Times for 12 years, as well as at the Orange County Register and now the Bee, I have never seen any organized liberal (or libertarian) bias in the newsroom. It is true that many reporters are liberals, and that might color their view of the news or certain political figures. But mostly reporters just want to tell a good story. Davis would not be in the trouble he is in today if the press had not reported critically on his problems with the energy crisis, the budget and his pay-to-play fundraising style. And it's just not credible to claim that The Times would skew a poll to try to help the Democrats. If the poll is wrong, it's because telephone polling itself has become problematic in the age of cell phones, call-waiting and answering machines...

 

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