Archive for September, 2009

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More Brains

September 30, 2009

The Zombie Karl Popper takes down economist John Cochrane once and for all:

#143 Zombie Karl Popper

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The Phantom Menace

September 30, 2009

Brian Leiter (Prof. of Philosophy and Law at the University of Chicago) points to this interesting piece on identifying the hallmarks of fascism.  Leiter’s been following this theme  for some time now, and this is just one of many in a string that were much more prevalent during the Bush administration.  Now that we’ve had something of a political turnover, one would think that such concerns about fascism should rightly and finally be put to rest.  Looks like we can weather democratic storms relatively well, without falling into fascism.  Curiously, however, this diatribe calling for a military coup against Obama came out at approximately the same time (today) as the piece on fascism, and one ought not to discount the hysteria at the recent town hall meetings, the birther nutbaggery, the facebook poll to vote on whether the president should be assassinated, the teabagger parades, and the second coming of the right wing media.

Media Matters has the full story on the editorial calling for a military coup.  Newsmax, the conservative outlet that originally published the editorial, has since taken it down.

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How Much is a Tonne?

September 30, 2009

This article on urban metabolism paints a pretty brown picture of Denver, our nearby metropolis.  To wit:

The results, which will be published in the October 1st issue ofEnvironmental Science and Technology, showed that the total emissions of the ten chosen cities varied considerably, ranging from 4.1 tonnes of carbon dioxide per person in Barcelona to 21.5 tonnes in Denver.

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Small Fish

September 30, 2009

As usual, Jon Stewart presents trenchant analysis of and commentary on Sean Hannity’s recent bugaboo, the Delta Smelt:

Jon Stewart

What I appreciate about this, and what is nice about most of the humor on the Daily Show, is that the laughs depend not on silly equivocations or puns, as much humor does, but rather on identifying and calling attention to the variety of informal fallacies that politicians and political pundits employ. That’s the modus operandi of the Daily Show, and I often point out in my critical thinking classes that the best way to learn about the variety of informal (and in some cases formal) fallacies is not necessarily by sticking one’s nose in a textbook, but by watching the Daily Show.

So here, yes, the survival of salmon fisheries is a relevant fact to the allocation of water, just as Stewart notes. It’s a relevant economic fact, and it’s an equally relevant political fact. Similarly, the internal contradiction of lambasting government subsidies, while at the same time depending on government subsidies, demonstrates the inanity of Hannity’s faux stance.

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Is the Public Option Cooked?

September 29, 2009

I guess I’m of two minds on the events of today. On one hand, I’m somewhat stunned that the blue dogs pulled as many shenanigans as they did. So I’m pessimistic about opportunities for the future.  This seems to be the line running through the press room at the Washington Post.  On the other hand, I find this line of reasoning hopeful, and experience leaves me somewhat cynical about the press.  There are still possibilities for reviving the public option, and I feel fairly optimistic that something strong will make its way through.  Sure, it probably won’t come through the Senate finance committee, but they were always the long shot.

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Blast Off

September 29, 2009

Chen Wenling’s installation on the global financial crisis:

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Twenty Percent Down

September 29, 2009

This has been pointed out before, and criticized elsewhere, but the new Kerry-Boxer bill to be introduced tomorrow makes some important modifications to Waxman-Markey.  Will it pass?  Hard to say.  Let’s hope so.  I’ll be going to Copenhagen in December, and it’d be nice to be there without having to avert my gaze.

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8.3 Magnitude Rumbler

September 29, 2009

Big one in Samoa.  Early reports from the NY Times and Huffington Post (with video from MSNBC).

Update: video and photos of the devastation.

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Moral Mindlessness

September 29, 2009

Newsflash: Liberal people tend to vote liberally, whereas conservative people vote conservatively.

Where to begin with this tautologous talk by Jonathan Haidt?

It’s fascinating, in its own way. It confirms everything we already knew. Tautologies are fun like that. His foundations of morality, in particular, are a laugh riot.  First, why the pairings?  They make no sense.

Consider:

  1. Harm/care: yeah, harm and care should be paired, because lord knows there’s no harm in caring; or that harm is done only through lack of caring.  Witness, this guy.
  2. Fairness/reciprocity: how’s that asymmetry working out for your fairness doctrine, bro?
  3. In-group/loyalty: WTF is “in-group”? He made this up.  And why not be loyal to difference?  People are loyal to kings and gods because kings and gods are special, not because they’re just like everyone else.
  4. Authority/respect: Huh?  Where to start? I thought we were supposed to respect authority.  Or alternatively, my authority over you permits me to disrespect you, just as a king or god might disrespect the serfs.
  5. Purity/sanctity: Yes, pure white, pure black, pure mulatto.

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Mooed Down

September 29, 2009

Lovely: More Cows, More Milk, More Headaches.

Desperate to drive up prices by stemming the gusher of unwanted milk, a dairy industry group, the National Milk Producers Federation, has been paying farmers to send herds to slaughter. Since January the program has culled about 230,000 cows nationwide.

Yes, more headaches.

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