Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Is Science "Inherently Political"?

No, it is not, contrary to what this ( A SciAm piece by one Shawn Lawrence Otto) argues.

A wee reasoning exercise: identify the obvious errors there.

Sullivan, unfortunately, links approvingly.

C'mon, people. It's not hard to do a lot better than this.

Friday, November 25, 2011

MC Frontalot
I Hate Your Blog

The previous post reminded me of something I've been meaning to link to for quite awhile. Nerds. Specifically:

MC Frontalot
I Hate Your Blog

Seems strangely appropriate...but I can't put my finger on exactly why...
Paul and Storm, "Thanksgiving"

Thanksgiving song for nerds, you nerds.

NSFW language...in case any of you still manage to be employed...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Feel the Newtmentum

I remember when Newt was first elected to the House, soon after I started becoming politically aware. Even then, I said to myself, out loud, no lie: "this guy is going to be trouble."

Prophetic, eh?

If you've heard the Newtster speak then you know that he represents, to use Ezra's immortal phrase, via Krugman, a stupid person's idea of what a smart person sounds like. In short, Newt is a dipshit. He's not an intelligent person, but he plays one on tv. But, in a GOP field in which every candidate is the output of a function of stupid and crazy, Newt may be in the top-three, along with Romney and, perhaps, Paul. (Huntsman doesn't count anymore, right?)

Personally, I'm rooting for...well, anyone and any thing that will help weaken Romney before his eventual, seemingly inevitable, victory. Romney's in a bicycle race, drafting a succession of leaders, waiting for everyone else in the field to sequentially gain the spotlight long enough for the few remnants of sanity in the GOP base to recoil from them in horror. Eventually Mittens will be the last man--or android or whatever he is--standing. Before that happens, I'd like to see a big Mitt-vs.-Newt throwdown from which both men emerge too wounded to win the general election. (And, of course, I'm hoping that a Mittens nomination will generate a strong, third-party wingnut candidate.)

But, for right now, I suppose we'll have to brace ourselves for a couple of weeks of Newt's condescending, contentless and contentious historical arguments and analogies. Tedious, yes...but a small price to pay to watch the GOP clown show further illustrate its deep and highly-concentrated clowniness.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Conservatives and Viral E-Fables

As many have noted, lunatic right-wing viral e-mails are like an internet plague.  Farhi is pretty up-front about saying that this particular brand of lunacy is characteristic of the right, to his credit. Hell, I get crazy e-mails from a friends octogenarian father every now and again...invariably anti-Obama, always transparently dopey. Apparently there is even a wingnut e-mail asserting that Snopes.com is a liberal plot...

Farhi briefly considers the claim that this afflicts the right rather than the left because the right is faster to adapt new technology to disseminating information, and rightly rejects the hypothesis on solid grounds.

Look: the American right has largely gone batty. There is simply no doubt that the collective right-wing mind in America is deranged. The reason that they take to such e-mails is not because of any generic, sanity-neutral fact about technology. It's not clear what the reason is, but it's not that.

My guess? It's more along these lines: the derangement of the right-wing mind has two facets. First, it's become less intelligent. Second, it's become less honest. These things can feed on each other. They've become more willing to accept claims that anyone can see are likely to be false out of a kind of cognitive incontinence--they've let their hatred get out of control, and it leads them to accept things they could, with even minimal self-control, see to be bullshit. Such cognitive incontinence is almost indistinguishable from stupidity, and, in fact, it leads to a kind of cognitive flaccidity and genuine inability to think. What begins as unwillingness to engage in self-criticism ends in an inability to do so. They feed themselves on a steady diet of hatred, eventually losing the ability to be objective, and eventually losing much of their ability to reason.

The e-mail business is of a piece with their love of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and Rick Perry. It should not come as a surprise to anyone.

[h/t Statisticasaurus rex]

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Filled With Lies...but "A Great Ad"?

I don't get this.

So, Scherer notes that the whole ad is predicated on a lie--that Obama said that the American people were lazy. Then we get the weird verbal gaffe. Then Perry ends by falsely asserting that Obama's policies are "socialist"...  And it's "a great ad"?

Jesus Christ. We're doomed.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Carolina and MSU in the Carrier Classic

Don't forget it--7 p.m. ESPN.

I really like Izzo and Sparty...but...go Tar Heels...of course...

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Ritholtz: "What Caused The Financial Crisis? The Big Lie Goes Viral"

Banks and investment houses.

The postmodern right is back to their old Pravda-esque tricks: repeating patent falsehoods until people start thinking they must be true.

Don't let the bastards get away with it.


[via Metafilter]
Anybody Know Anything About 24-Hour Passport Renewal?

So, I'm supposed to leave Thursday morning to give a paper at a conference outside Montreal on Saturday. As I'm packing last night, JQ notices that...my passport is *$&$^#&!^*ing expired.


There seem to be some companies that can get the thing renewed in 24 hours...for around $500. A tad rich for my blood right now...and my department's.

Anybody know anything about this sort of thing? No appointments at the DC passport office for a week...

Monday, November 07, 2011

How To Be Irrational
Fox "News" on OWS

This would make a good video for a critical thinking class--if it weren't so politically-charged, that is.

Here's a blueprint for how to be irrational: take every criticism you can think of against the other side of an issue. Ignore any evidence or reasons that support that side. Exaggerate their claims. Pick out the worst subset of supporters of the side in question and pretend they are representative. Pretend that your own view is the veriest common sense. Shout down opposition. Ridicule. Harden your heart against the evidence and hold on to your preferred position for dear life.

God bless Juan Williams for even trying to reason with this inveterate morons and liars. I didn't think that my opinion of Fox News could go any lower, but I was wrong.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

As if 7 Billion Weren't Bad Enough...

There's this about an alleged breakthrough in life-extension.

Pretty bad when that doesn't count as unmitigated good news. I mean, ignoring the fact that it's probably made up or otherwise bogus.

The techno-utopians are already hitting the web explaining how we can have our cake and eat it to by extending everyone's lifespan and not worrying about the population because...well...uh...technology! Surely we'll think of something! We always have before! Um, except of course when we haven't...

'Cause, see, it'll be just fine if we all have to live in apartments the size of Japanese hotel-rooms and eat Soylent Green.


Now hear this: a gigantic population is not a good. There is no good reason to keep pumping up the population. 7 billion people is not better than 4 billion people.
7 Billion People

A slow-motion catastrophe...

It's not a disaster yet, but if we wait until it is, there will be no stopping it.

I'm amazed at the coverage this is getting. More like a kind of quirky human interest story than a threat to the planet and humanity.