Archive for the ‘Ass-Clowns’ Category

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True Colors

April 26, 2010

If you’ve ever doubted the true colors of Republican leadership, it’s pretty neatly summarized in this recent gesture to block any and all financial reform legislation advanced by the Democrats.

“I believe that 41 Republicans right now are going to stand together,” Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) said of Monday’s planned 5 p.m. test vote on the Senate floor. “I wish we’d stand together, period,” he added, noting that such unity would give GOP members “more negotiating power and more clout.”

Because, you know, sticking together come what may, despite apparent differences (and in some cases bald contradictions), is all that matters. Sticking together would, without question, give them more negotiating power and more clout. Of course, that’s not (or ought not to be) the objective of people who write public policy.

Cynicism about policy couldn’t be put any more succinctly.

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American Patriot Lord Monckton

April 16, 2010

Hey, check this out. Lord Monckton was one of the heralded speakers at a DC Tea Party rally yesterday. Wonkette provides us with the photo… and then there’s this terribly scratchy audio below. Dave Wiegel as the scoop and the Huffington Post has more. Also covered at The Way Things Break and DeSmog Blog. The audio is nearly unbearable, but if you go to minute 2:50, you can hear Monckton’s apologia about why a British Lord would be at an American Tea Party rally. (I mean, seriously, is there no appreciation for history here? It’s not even like a simple irony, as might be the case if Monckton were any other foreign national. He’s a stuffy British Lord, for chrissakes. The Tea Party movement is predicated on the 1773 rejection of the Crown.) At any rate, he loves freedom. I guess that makes him an American.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Phantasmagoria

April 12, 2010

The Randian kaleidescope is a powerful tool — an instrument too powerful for the lay-visionary. No, it takes a special kind of vision to observe, with all sincerity, that women in 1880 were freer back then than they are today. And yet, that’s what Bryan Caplan, one of these specially empowered visionaries, has been able to see in said kaleidescope.

Crooked Timber has the scoop.

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iBlend

April 5, 2010

Can’t say I haven’t wanted to do this with other Apple products. At the same time, it’s reasonably pointless:

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Weather Untergrund

April 4, 2010

Or, “der grundlose Blödsinn vom der, die nur über das Wetter für ein Beruf quatschen kann (oder ‘muss’, weil ihre jobben daran abhängt).”

No, sorry, I’m not quoting from today’s Spiegel article. My pathetic and dwindling German should give that away. I’m making a howler of a multi-layered play on words about this ridiculous statement from CNN fliegende-quatsch-monkey Chad Meyers. When doing his segment earlier in the week, Meyers implied (claimed?) that meteorologists are more reliable sources on climatology than climatologists. His reason? Because the money is private in meteorology:

I also think it has something to do — follow the money a little bit. Meteorologists aren’t paid by the government, the ones on TV, the climatologists are. If there’s nothing to talk about, will their jobs really be all that secure? So, follow the money a little bit, I think you’ll find 10% and 15% and every little corner has to do with it.

Puh-lease.

Perverse incentives aside, ThinkProgress makes a few interesting observations. Read there first. I’ll just add my own two cents.

First, Meyers is actually entirely ambiguous about who’s following what money. Given the video and from his intonation, as well as from ThinkProgress’s analysis, it does appear that Meyers implies that it is the climatologists who may lose their jobs “if there’s nothing to talk about.”

But it’s not clear to me that talking about the weather is talking about something. There’s a reason, dear Chad, that many people think that those who talk about the weather are precisely those who have nothing to talk about. Add to this the following: I think I could make a strong case that those with the government jobs, not those with the private sector jobs, are the ones who are in secure positions. Why should they worry about their jobs? Government jobs don’t go away.

Second, it probably bears noting that many climatologists are also academics, not government employees. They may depend, in part, on the government for grants, but climatology existed long before concerns over global climate change. Those jobs don’t go away as easily either. Ergo: all the more reason for them to tell it like it is.

Finally, this raises, once again, the distinction between climate and weather, which, in a way, can be reduced down to a distinction between climatologists and weathermen, which then can be rehydrated in order to help to explain some of the mistrust of climate science in the general population.  That nice point is covered here. The weather people are in many ways the climate gatekeepers.

Most of our exposure to climate information tends to come through our meteorologists, who are, for lack of a better term, often “not qualified” to talk intelligently about climate science. Meyers is a case in point, as Brad Johnson points out. He just sports a pretty face and a BA in meteorology.

Relying on your meteorologist for his thoughts on climate research is a bit like asking your dentist whether your chest x-rays indicate cancer. In this case, it’s maybe even a bit like asking the hygienist.

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A Black Tea Affair

March 28, 2010

Here’s a nice analysis from Frank Rich. I’m not usually a fan of Rich, but I think this is pretty thorough.

When Social Security was passed by Congress in 1935 and Medicare in 1965, there was indeed heated opposition. As Dana Milbank wrote in The Washington Post, Alf Landon built his catastrophic 1936 presidential campaign on a call for repealing Social Security. (Democrats can only pray that the G.O.P. will “go for it” again in 2010, as Obama goaded them on Thursday, and keep demanding repeal of a bill that by September will shower benefits on the elderly and children alike.) When L.B.J. scored his Medicare coup, there were the inevitable cries of “socialism” along with ultimately empty rumblings of a boycottfrom the American Medical Association.

But there was nothing like this. To find a prototype for the overheated reaction to the health care bill, you have to look a year before Medicare, to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Both laws passed by similar majorities in Congress; the Civil Rights Act received even more votes in the Senate (73) than Medicare (70). But it was only the civil rights bill that made some Americans run off the rails. That’s because it was the one that signaled an inexorable and immutable change in the very identity of America, not just its governance.

The apocalyptic predictions then, like those about health care now, were all framed in constitutional pieties, of course. Barry Goldwater, running for president in ’64, drew on the counsel of two young legal allies, William Rehnquist and Robert Bork, to characterize the bill as a “threat to the very essence of our basic system” and a “usurpation” of states’ rights that “would force you to admit drunks, a known murderer or an insane person into your place of business.” Richard Russell, the segregationist Democratic senator from Georgia, said the bill “would destroy the free enterprise system.” David Lawrence, a widely syndicated conservative columnist, bemoaned the establishment of “a federal dictatorship.” Meanwhile, three civil rights workers were murdered in Philadelphia, Miss.

That a tsunami of anger is gathering today is illogical, given that what the right calls “Obamacare” is less provocative than either the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or Medicare, an epic entitlement that actually did precipitate a government takeover of a sizable chunk of American health care. But the explanation is plain: the health care bill is not the main source of this anger and never has been. It’s merely a handy excuse. The real source of the over-the-top rage of 2010 is the same kind of national existential reordering that roiled America in 1964.

In fact, the current surge of anger — and the accompanying rise in right-wing extremism — predates the entire health care debate. The first signs were the shrieks of “traitor” and “off with his head” at Palin rallies as Obama’s election became more likely in October 2008. Those passions have spiraled ever since — from Gov. Rick Perry’s kowtowing to secessionists at a Tea Party rally in Texas to the gratuitous brandishing of assault weaponsat Obama health care rallies last summer to “You lie!” piercing the president’s address to Congress last fall like an ominous shot.

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Why Bother?

March 8, 2010

Why bother with academic majors that essentially make up the core of the academy…like, oh, I dunno, philosophy. It’s useless anyway.

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Nipples

February 3, 2010

There. I said it. Those outside of the Boulder area may be intrigued to learn that the city council is considering passing a new ordinance banning the exposure of female nipples in public. Yes, you heard that right. And yes, it’s that stupid. Male nipples? No problem. They’re generally littler, and somehow less offensive.

Presumably, this proposed ordinance comes in response to some streaking activity that has characterized a few events over the past several years — the naked pumpkin run, the naked bicycle ride, the Pearl Street orgy — so the solution is to pass an ordinance that makes nudity a mere misdemeanor, rather than a felony.

Oh, nudity wasn’t ever actually a felony. It’s just that that’s the best law we had to handle issues of naked people wearing pumpkins on their heads and running through the streets at midnight on Halloween, when all the young impressionable children might be gawking from their windows and exposed, unwittingly, to a pornographic display that could titillate only Ichabod Crane and/or Tim Burton.

Sigh. So much for the “liberal mecca” of Boulder.

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A Thought Catastrophe

January 1, 2010

Aw hell. I sit down at my computer for a millisecond, nursing my hangover, only to read in the New York Times an inane snippet of garbage from a self-promoting windbag in my own discipline. Here, enjoy this preposterous goody-sack of bullshit to welcome in the New Year. It’s written by Denis Dutton, philosopher (AOS, aesthetics) at the University of Canterbury. You probably know him better from his editorship of the otherwise very nice Arts and Letters Daily, an online clearinghouse with links to good reading.

I won’t bore you with the boring stuff (which is most of it), but the gist of the essay is that, oops, Y2K was ridiculous. Isn’t it ha-ha funny how worried people were about the end of the world back in 1999? We were so dumb and gullible back then.

Now that Y2K has been shown to be a farce, it only stands to reason that all other worries about the end of the world are similarly ha-ha funny. Dutton’s reasoning, I submit, is impeccable. Catastrophes simply don’t happen. Y2K demonstrates this.

All that worry about a nuclear winter? How dumb. Didn’t happen, wasn’t going to happen. The 1980s anti-nuke activists were a tittering cabal of sissies. Chatter from Central Asia about planes and buildings got you concerned? Never you mind, it’s idle hysteria. Nothing could ever happen. Catastrophism is an elixir of the masses. Bell-ringers in Louisiana scaring your children with fables of impending hurricanes and floods? Don’t sweat it. That’s just a few self-interested fraidy-cats drumming up fear. There’s never been a catastrophe ever at all in the world. Never will be. Y2K tells us everything we need to know about periods of public hysteria. Evidence be damned.

And yes, you know where this is going.

As if on cue, in the last few paragraphs of his asinine mental flatulation, he throws an elbow into “climate catastrophism,” though he doesn’t elaborate much. That’s probably a good thing, because he doesn’t seem to have much to elaborate on. What you get is just “his view.”

Don’t get me wrong, I think the calamity frame is a serious problem for the climate debate. That’s not what bothers me about this essay. What bothers me is his stupid fracking hasty generalization that somehow Y2K serves as an extrapolatable case study in catastrophe hysteria. If you haven’t yet gotten the picture, this is a very weak argument.

(Yes, I have a hangover and yes, I’m cranky.)

UPDATE: Looks like Joe Romm sunk his teeth into this piece a few hours before I did.

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King of Night Vision

December 15, 2009

Glenn Beck has spectacular optics. His laser eyesight enables him to pierce the most muddled of issues. Here’s a video of him comparing the stonewalling of climate skepticism to the persecution that Galileo experienced. We’ve seen this comparison many times before, of course, but it seems so misplaced to me that I just have to note it again. It is true that Galileo was persecuted for trying to advance a theory that appeared to run at cross-purposes with entrenched power structures, but isn’t that about as far as this comparison goes?

Lots of people have noted the alleged dissimilarities between Galileo and the skeptics, observing that Galileo was a scientist and the people persecuting him were involved primarily in the church. The skeptics, they charge, aren’t really scientists. I suppose that’s a fair criticism, though I suppose the counter-charge is that the scientific establishment isn’t being terribly scientific, that they’re acting more like religious figures, prostrate to the gods of AGW.

Others have noted that persecution is a far cry from being stonewalled or having your research rejected by top journals. That may also be a fair criticism, depending on your views about the extent to which there was underhandedness in the peer-review process, and the extent to which the scientific journals are rigged to yield a particular result.  Maybe it is persecution to continually reject someone’s research.

But it seems to me that the most damning argument against this comparison is that it isn’t clear what criteria would make it apt. Isn’t it true that whenever someone takes on the establishment, she’s always in the position of underdog? That’s the definition of taking on the establishment. And isn’t it also true that whenever someone taking on the establishment tries to get her papers or her research through the establishment, she’s always disregarded for a while? That, too, seems inevitable.

If that’s true, then it’s hard to say what about this particular circumstance would make it just like Galileo’s circumstance. The dude was thrown to the wolves. He was put on trial for heresy, found guilty of heresy, imprisoned and held under house arrest, and his work was banned. That’s not at all like what’s going on in the climate debate.

Just a thought.

Incidentally, I hope nobody mentions to Glenn Beck, student of history, that one of the two plenary rooms at COP15 is the Tyco Brahe Plenary Hall. That’d certainly send the sun spinning recklessly around the earth.