Thursday, February 28, 2013

Keep Wrestling in the Olympics


If figure skating gets to stay in the Olympics, then...well...anything else should be able to.

But wrestling--there really shouldn't be any controversy about this. First, it is awesome. Second, it is way more of an actual sport than, say...curling. (Though I will watch that stuff if it's on...weirdly fascinating...). And this is not even to mention synchronized swimming. Or race-walking. Or water polo. Third, if the Olympics is going to pretend to keep any link at all to the ancient games, wrestling has to be there.

I turned my nose up at wrestling in high school, and put my energy into Judo. Judo's awesome, and has saved my ass more times than I can count. But when I started doing MMA, and working out with wrestlers I really came to appreciate how effective wrestling can be. No strikes, no chokes, no submissions...but as for learning to get on top and stay on top, you can't beat wrestling. Typical ugly, utilitarian Western martial art...but it's effective (if incomplete) and that's what matters.

Anyway: keep wrestling in the Olympics and also: show some of it. Jeez, they're complaining that it's not a money-maker, but they don't even show it.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thanks Obama

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

SACS: UNC Out of Compliance in Fraud Case

Not good.

Good on Carolina for keeping the alums up on this stuff...but...that's the only good thing here.

The thing people who aren't following this don't seem to understand is that it is not primarily an athletic scandal. It's way worse. It's an academic scandal.

What Carolina can't say in its defense, unfortunately, is that the new wave of politicized departments and programs ("x studies"-type programs) are widely known to...not be at the top of the heap with respect to academic standards. But no one can really say this, because that is way, way politically incorrect. Needless to say, the actions of the department in question at Carolina were way over the top. This should never have been allowed to happen. But the university largely depends on the professionalism of the departments; policing departments to make sure they are not simply distributing 'A's to people who don't even come to class is normally not necessary. And it becomes politically delicate in some cases.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Teach For America's Hidden Curriculum: The Worst Article You'll Read This Week

At for chrissake...and probably the worst piece of crap I've ever read there.

As I read this thing, my jaw literally dropped farther and farther. This is just one shitty argument after another. Innuendo, attempts to establish guilt by association, naked rhetorical trickery, derisive, dishonest attempts to make TFA into some kind of "elite" plot...this is just crap from beginning to end.

I've got no particularly established view of dog in this fight...  It always seemed like a good idea to me, and I've had some really good students do it...but I'm in no way resistant to criticisms of the program...  I started reading this thinking wow, TFA seems like such a good idea! But...  and I kept waiting for the bombshell. All I found were puerile arguments that seem driven by some kind of ideological dislike of TFA.

Jesus. How does shit like this get published? I mean, I know it's just the web, but...Salon! Fairly respectable place, IMO...normally, anyway...

Friday, February 15, 2013

Good Talkers Are the Worst Talkers

So apparently some people thought/think that

Peter Elbow:

People who care about good language tend to assume that casual spoken language is full of chaos and error. I shared this belief till I did some substantial research into the linguistics of speech. There’s a surprising reason why we — academics and well-educated folk — should hold this belief: we are the greatest culprits. It turns out that our speech is the most incoherent. Who knew that working class speakers handle spoken English better than academics and the well-educated?
The highest percentage of well-formed sentences are found in casual speech, and working-class speakers use more well-formed sentences than middle-class speakers. The widespread myth that most speech is ungrammatical is no doubt based upon tapes made at learned conferences, where we obtain the maximum number of irreducibly ungrammatical sequences. (Labov 222. See also Halliday 132.)
(via Sully)

Ok, here's th deal:

First, I'm guilty, often, when speaking--and here I mean for the universe of discourse to be those times when I'm talking about philosophy or policy or something of that sort, rather than, say, about taking out the trash--and sometimes when writing, too, of qualifying my main claims so extensively that it's hard to glean the main point (or points, of course, in cases in which I have more than one), bogged down as they are in baroque linguistic epicycles. Or something.


This isn't the only reason people, er, talk bad in academia. Hell, people talk bad on the news, too. Even mere pundits, who usually aren't saying anything terribly complicated. So I'm not just talking about academicians who happen to be on the News Hour. Even the talking heads are bad about this stuff.

My long-held view is that a lot of this is caused by the fact that people try to sound smarter than they actually are. Or, to be perhaps more precise (but perhaps not): they try to sound as if their facility with the language is greater than it actually is. What happens, IMHO, is that people start these long sentences, using convoluted, overly-complex syntax of a kind they'd not normally use, and containing words that they don't really have complete command of...and then...halfway through these sentences, which are already laden with all sorts of...freaking...subordinate clauses...and...buttcrap....they realize that they don't know how to resolve the bloody things, grammatically speaking. So they switch horses in the middle of the card game, and the things end up being ungrammatical as hell.

If people are just speaking normally, this stuff happens less frequently.

Anyway, that's my $0.02.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

No VD Rant

You know, I used to ridicule Valentine's Day with relish, but JQ admonished me for it once, pointing out that, though we're not into it, it's kinda assholish to make fun of basically anything that might bring more love and/or like and/or sex and/or any such stuff into people's lives.

I've never been able to deride VD with the old verve ever since.

Stupid Johnny Quest.

Me, I'm just happy there'll be cheap candy tomorrow.

Bring Me The Head Of The Duke Blue Devil, or...

...Carolina gets head from d00que.

Well done, Tar Heels.

Carolina 68-D00k 73; Over? Did You Say "Over"?

Was It over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?

Lost that game at the free throw line.

You'll get 'em next time, boys!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Don't Mention The Rivers Shot Without Mentioning The Four Bad Calls That Made It Possible


Be at least minimally reasonable.

Ryan Shoulda Left Some Water for Rubio



(Latter link via Reddit)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

F*ck Ted Nugent

So, that idiotic low-life, former draft-dodger, former maker of spectacularly shitty music, current ostentatious asshat Ted Nugent is at the f*cking SOTU speech.

Seriously, how could you find a more embarrassing loser than that guy? What, Gene Simmons wasn't available?

Apparently Scalia didn't even bother to show up.

The GOP has become a disgusting joke.

I literally feel a bit like hurling. These people now blatantly display utter lack of respect not only for Obama, not only for every Democratic president, but for the very country itself.

If there's a shred of justice in the world, the Republican party will suffer a quick but extremely humiliating demise.

Montana T.V. Station Issues IZA Warning

Good thing I laid in all that extra food and ammo, just in case...

Who's crazy now?



Love 2.0: Some Bullshit About Love, Pretending to be Science

Too stupid to even discuss.

To add insult to insult, this person is at Chapel Hill...

Joe Arpaio is a Buffoon: Steven Segal Edition


Sheriff Joe Arpaio is a buffoon (and, probably, a criminal...but that's not the point of this particular story).

What is it this time?

Well, apparently he tapped Steven Seagal--the actor--to train a band of volunteers--which apparently turned out to include a bunch of psychos and criminals--to respond to school shootings.

I am not making this up.

On the posse:
[an] investigation "uncovered a number of posse members with arrests for assault, drug possession, domestic violence, sex crimes against children, disorderly conduct, impersonating an officer - and the list goes on."
Getting an actor to do the "training" is...well...what exactly does one say? Mr. Seagal, who is known largely for intentionally kicking his co-stars in the 'nads--asserts that he is qualified:
"I've put hundreds of thousands if not millions of hours into my weapons training," the actor told reporters on Saturday.
Jeez, that is a lot of training. If we go with the low end of "millions" and say that's two million, that would put Seagal's weapons training alone at over 200 years. No wonder his chop socky is so weak...

I'm more worried about this band of freaks and losers being armed than I am about the average private citizen. You should be too.

This is the country we live in, oh fellow citizens. It is many things, some sublime, and some ridiculous. It is many, many strange and wondrous things. And this...this is one of them...

Monday, February 11, 2013

"To Be Happy, We Must Admit That Men and Women Aren't Equal": Worst Post Ever?

The mind, it reels....

Nobody...nobody is this dumb, right?

Nobody could possibly buy these lame-ass arguments. It's not even worth crushing them. These are fish in a barrel. You would literally have to have something wrong with your brain to think that the reasons given here are even vaguely plausible.

But I am not wasting time on this crap.


Not gonna do it.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Battleship; or: Battleshit

The nice girl at the cable company seems to have given us free premium channels after we complained about the price of our (basic) cable. Lord knows we'd never pay for those things... Thanks, nice cable girl!

On the down side, this brought it about that I watched Battleship last night.

Which brought to mind the question: how does one make a movie that bad? Don't they, like, pay people to keep an eye on things as they're making them? Out of a zillion dollar budget, is nobody paid to actually watch what they're generating? Does nobody have the authority to hit the panic button and inform them that they're making a big pile of crap?

Cool special effects...and if the story etc. are merely bad, that's often enough for me. But, jeez...not enough in this case. It was like they just threw in every cliche and hackneyed bit of business that they'd ever heard of, one right after the other. Seriously, two minutes in--and in the mood for mindlessness and big special effects, no less--I said "wow, this is terrible." JQ tuned out and surfed the web. How can a movie suck that fast?

Ok, I'm going to give 'em points for figuring out a really surprisingly non-stupid way to work the pegs from the game into the story. Honestly, that was pretty impressive. Yes, it evoked a derisive laugh...but it was way less stupid than it had any right to be. I'm embarrassed to say that I didn't think they'd have the 'nads to try to work in the alphanumeric grid business...but they actually did amazingly well on that score as well. Having pulled that off, and given the well above-average special effects, that could have been a decent flick if the story hadn't stunk on ice.

But it did, and I'm giving claw...or something...out of...oh, let's say four. Or five maybe.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Bad Science: Objectification and Heartbeats

Wow. This has got to be the dumbest experiment I've heard of since the infamous blondethink thing.

You'd have to work pretty hard to come up with an experiment this dopey. It's pretty bad when you don't even have to look at the actual paper to know that results won't be replicated, but will just fade away into oblivion. But it's the loony explanatory hypothesis that is most annoying here.

Of course "objectification" is a confused concept anyway. So if you start there, you're not going to end up anyplace good...

Friday, February 08, 2013

Max Fisher: 6 Interesting Drone Policy Fixes

At the WaPo.

These seem pretty promising to me.

(h/t S. rex)

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Targeted Killings Guidelines: Not As Bad As Some Are Saying

Drum quotes the following passage from Scott Lemieux:
Much of the coverage of the memo, including Isikoff's story, focuses on the justifications offered by the Obama administration for killing American citizens, including Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan (two alleged Al Qaeda operatives killed by a 2011 airstrike in Yemen.) In some respects, this focus is misplaced. If military action is truly justified, then it can be exercised against American citizens (an American fighting for the Nazis on the battlefield would not have been entitled to due process.) Conversely, if military action is not justified, extrajudicial killings of non-Americans should hardly be less disturbing than the extrajudicial killing of an American citizen. The crucial question is whether the safeguards that determine when military action is justified are adequate.
That's my view, though it's probably a little on the cosmopolitan side for most folks. OTOH, we might see the emphasis on citizenship in the discussion as an attempt to focus out attention on a claim roughly like: if they can do this even to American citizens, imagine what they're permitted to do to non-citizens. (Hint: we don't have to imagine. The answer is: Gitmo.) But that's a kind of sloppy response. My sympathies on these points are firmly cosmopolitan, and I agree with Lemieux.

He goes on to cite Connor Friedersdorf, who is worrying about the "elastic" definition of "imminent," and making a shaky comparison to the misuse of the term by the Bush administration in the run-up to the Iraq war. Look, 'imminent' is not necessarily "elastic," but it is inherently vague. As Peirce points out, there's nothing inherently wrong with vagueness, so long as you're clear about what you're being vague about. Imminence is exactly the concept we need here, and we can't do without such concepts. (Try making good driving laws without concepts like recklessness.) In a statement of principles, this is just what we'd want. (Similarly for informed.) To make good laws, however, we do want some more specific guidelines to constrain governmental authority. For example, one might reasonably say that a threat is sufficiently imminent to warrant such action by the president if the threat will act too quickly to allow for judicial review.

Anyway, Lemieux is, I think, right to say that we're entitled to throttle back a bit on our out-freaking. That doesn't mean that calm concern and further attention is unwarranted, of course. But let's make sure that our concerns are sensible ones.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Laws Concerning Food and Drink; Household Principles; Lamentations of the Father

I don't have kids.

Still funny.

India: A Paradise for those Who Take Offense

Whew! C'ville Safe From Drones

Wow, just in time. A few more days, and the H-Ks would have been hunting us through the crumbling remnants of the Downtown Mall...

Looks like this was pushed by the righty Rutherford Institute...  Could be some kind of oblique anti-Obama something. Hard to tell.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Gore: U.S. Democracy Hacked

A deft and alarmingly accurate metaphor.

 "It can be fixed, but we need to recognise that our democracy has been hacked … It has been taken over … and is being operated for purposes other than those for which it was intended."

Imagine what might have been without the hacking of the 2000 election...

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Sniper Murdered / Insane Comments

This story is gut-wrenching.

And the comments on the story...holy crap... Utterly delusional...

[via Reddit]

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Of Course, It Is Impossible To Use A Firearm Defensively

They are all bad, and can never, ever be used to defend the innocent...

Many Afghan Interpreters Denied U.S. Visas

This is terrible.

These are people who have put their lives on the line for us, and who might face death at the hands of the Taliban once we are gone.

My thoughts about immigration policy all take place in light of my concerns about our population woes. But I think that political refugees deserve to get priority--especially if they've helped us out.

I do realize that the kinds of economic hardships faced by, e.g., many Mexican citizens are terrible, but doubt they can compare to the hardship of life under the Taliban. Given my preferences, we'd be cracking down even harder on illegal immigrants and letting in more refugees from political oppression. I'd basically take in every woman from the Congo, for example, who wanted to come here.

But our policy does have to be consistent with lower the population. And that's particularly tricky given that immigrants tend to have higher birth rates--though that lasts for only a generation or two.

But...leaving our Afghan interpreters to the wolves...I just don't see how we can even consider that.

Ruth Marcus's Phony Anti-Gun Argument

I don't think this by Ruth Marcus is very good.

Marcus considers the following:

“Guns make women safer,” Gayle Trotter of the conservative Independent Women’s Forum, told the Senate Judiciary Committee at its Wednesday hearing on gun violence. “For women, the ability to arm ourselves for our protection is even more consequential than for men. Because guns are the great equalizer in a violent confrontation. As a result, we protect women by safeguarding our Second Amendment rights. Every woman deserves a fighting chance.”
And writes:

This argument would be powerful, if only it were true. The facts suggest precisely the opposite.
First, women are far more likely to be the victims of gun violence than to benefit from using a gun in self-defense.
Second, the restrictions under discussion would not harm women. They would either make women safer or, at the very least, not impede their ability to use guns in self-defense.
On the threat that guns pose to women, consider: Women are far less likely to be the victims of gun violence than men. But they are far more likely than men to be killed by someone they know, generally a spouse or partner.
Women with a gun in the home were nearly three times as likely to be the victim of homicide than women living in a home without firearms, according to a 2003 study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.
The whole discussion strikes me as a bit weird as does any such discussion that focuses on one sex or a specific racial or ethnic group. But that's a different point for a different time.

If Marcus means that women, qua women, have basically only the same interest men have in the availability of assault weapons, then I think she's right. However...though I'm inclined to agree with Marcus here, the discussion is precisely about whether we should be willing to purchase shorter-term safety from assault-weapon-toting maniacs at the cost of surrendering some of our ability to not only protect the state from invasion, but also protect ourselves from the state should it go bad. I'm not taking a position on that here, I'm just pointing out that Marcus is assuming what has yet to be proven.

But the first point, and the subsequent discussion of it, is suspect, I think.

Trotter says that guns make women safer. If she means that women are safer overall and right now because there are more guns, then the dispute about this point reduces to a discussion of the other point. And, if she means that a woman is safer on average just for having a gun in the house, then the information Marcus sites seems to refute that. But I don't see that that is what Trotter can mean. Trotter must mean that a woman who arms herself is safer than a woman who doesn't. Marcus responds by saying that women are more likely to be harmed if there's a gun in the house. But those guns are typically the guns of their husbands and boyfriends. And the women in question are women who have typically made bad choices about husbands and boyfriends.

Thus both Trotter and Marcus might be right--Marcus that women are worse off if there's a gun in their house, Trotter that women are better off if they have the option of arming themselves.

This seems, in some respect, like the whole debate in microcosm. Overall, we might all be safer in the short term if there were fewer firearms, because so many of them are possessed by bad, stupid, and irresponsible people. However, the left tries to make it seem as if this shows that even good, smart and responsible people are better off without access to firearms, and this is certainly false. However, policy typically gets made for everyone at once...which means that, though the good, smart and responsible people might be better off with firearms, it might be best if everyone is better off without them. (Though I doubt it.)


So....this is a whole thing, then...

WTF, humans?

Friday, February 01, 2013

Drum: Freedom Now and Then

Drum is thinking about the relative degree of freedom Americans have now as compared to fifty years ago.

Libertarians and pseudo-libertarian crypto-conservatives like to pretend that we were clearly freer then. That's false. As Drum notes, if you're female, black, gay or disabled, then you're likely a lot freer now than you were then. OTOH, government does intrude more into business dealings, there are lots of places you can't smoke, there are all sorts of legal intrusions when you try to board a plane, and so on. So liberals who scoff too readily at the libertarians might think about these things.

I'd add: no more miscegenation laws (though that barely makes the 50-year cut-off).

And what about cohabitation laws? Didn't some of those still exist in '63?

Also: anti-sodomy laws. The government often literally told even married people what they could do sexually in the privacy of their own homes.

The real point to be made here, I think, is that the freedoms we've gained have been important ones, whereas the freedoms we've lost have been relatively less important, and traded off for important goods.

Sure, we're less free to smoke in public, but that's not an important right, and the cost to non-smokers of public smoke is high. Sure, there are people who are stupid, totalitarian lunatics about it, but, overall, it was the right call. And I say this as a person who enjoys the occasional cigarette, and would like to be able to do so in bars.

And let's not forget: contraception and abortion.

Things have moved in the right--or, at least, the more freedom--direction in the last fifty years.