Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Ain’t this often so?

October 28, 2009

confusion info

I can recall a few moments in my life when I had enough information to “know it all.”  I note the great pain often associated with such knowledge — the distance from friends and family who don’t “get it”,  for example. We can think of Socrates or Einstein whose insights into their objects of study brought them a certain amount of humility.

Pure confusion can’t be a proper goal but maybe a certain amount serves us well during our great pursuits. (image from here, a fun site)


Factchecking the Debate

September 29, 2008

From via Newsweek.  Evaluate violations for yourself.

The first of three scheduled debates between Republican Sen. John McCain and Democratic Sen. Barack Obama took place Sept. 26 on the campus of the University of Mississippi at Oxford. It was sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates. It was carried live on national television networks and was moderated by Jim Lehrer, executive editor and anchor of the PBS “NewsHour” program.

McCain and Obama contradicted each other repeatedly during their first debate, and each volunteered some factual misstatements as well. Here’s how we sort them out:

  • Obama said McCain adviser Henry Kissinger backs talks with Iran “without preconditions,” but McCain disputed that. In fact, Kissinger did recently call for “high level” talks with Iran starting at the secretary of state level and said, “I do not believe that we can make conditions.” After the debate the McCain campaign issued a statement quoting Kissinger as saying he didn’t favor presidential talks with Iran.
  • Obama denied voting for a bill that called for increased taxes on “people” making as little as $42,000 a year, as McCain accused him of doing. McCain was right, though only for single taxpayers. A married couple would have had to make $83,000 to be affected by the vote, and anyway no such increase is in Obama’s tax plan.
  • McCain and Obama contradicted each other on what Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen said about troop withdrawals. Mullen said a time line for withdrawal could be “very dangerous” but was not talking specifically about “Obama’s plan,” as McCain maintained.


10 Worst Ideas: Obama

September 4, 2008

From Foreign Policy. I agree 2, 4, 6, 10 are outright bad positions. The others are probably bad proposals but are not central to his campaign.  What is central?  Hmmm. More national government involvement in health care?  Adding US troops to Afghanistan after they leave Iraq? Clean and renewable energy?

Releasing some of the Straegic Oil reserves (4) surprises me though i get it.  After initial “truth telling” against McCain and Clinton’s summer gas tax “holiday” — that larger trends must be addressed, pandering is bad, the road repairs the tax funds are essential — Obama has put a little pander in his campaign.  His NO to the gas tax holiday appeared insensitive instead of demonstrating integrity.  So now the concern for pocketbooks is demonstrated by worthless talk.  Ah, politics.

See full article for Obama’s statement of support of each proposal and the magazines rationale against. McCain’s list will come out in the magazine next week.

    1. Eliminating Income Taxes for Seniors Making Under $50,000
    2. Boosting Ethanol Subsidies
    3. Taxing Oil Companies Extra
    4. Opening the Strategic Petroleum Reserve
    5. Renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreements
    6. Opposing the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement
    7. Talking Openly About Bombing Pakistan
    8. Sitting Down with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
    9. Pushing the Patriot Employer Act
    10. Promoting Coal-to-Liquid Fuels
      Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

      Populists against Merit and Obama

      August 28, 2008

      Also from the Telos blog:

      No amount of spinning is going to make either Barack Obama or his wife average Americans. He is no everyman, and why should he be? He is an extraordinarily gifted member of his generation, who was offered every opportunity for success by the Meritocracy, a system of social promotion of a diverse student body based upon the standardized test…Why does meritocratic selection make Barack Obama fundamentally unpopular with white working class Americans?

      Because meritocracy was designed to overturn the principles of economic and social justice, replacing redistribution of wealth with rationalized distribution of opportunity. Meritocracy breaks the promise of social and economic justice and replaces it with a form of allegedly “scientific” and progressive scholastic triage… What we are experiencing,what we have experienced in the past twenty years, is a populist revolt against this system


      Don’t Worry, Use Plastic

      July 31, 2008

      The New York Times Science Section gives you a list of things NOT to worry about.

      I appreciate topics #2-6, though their criteria isn’t sufficiently comprehensive, focusing, for example, solely on carbon footprints and not larger socio-economic or other environmental factors. Each item is expanded upon with my commentary after the fold.

      • Your car’s planet-destroying A/C
      • Forbidden fruits from afar
      • Carcinogenic cellphones
      • Evil plastic bags
      • Toxic plastic bottles


      Exploitation of Polite Society?

      July 17, 2008

      Terrorist prisoner swaps serve the best joke in Adam Sandler’s juvenille “Don’t Mess with the Zohan.” Zohan, an elite Israeli commando, is informed about the release of his nemesis, a Hamas-type terrorist icon played by John Turturro. Like baseball trades, the deal includes a “terrorist to be named later.” (Let me paraphrase the exchange)

      “Who did we get for him,” Sandler asks.

      “Uri and Shimon,” he is told.

      “Uri and Shimon?! Come on, they aren’t even good spies. We should have held out for Yochi.”

      David Bernstein at Volokh Conspiracy asks whether the Israeli prohibition against the death penalty for terrorists isn’t foolish. He details the strategy of Hezbullah to abduct Israeli soldiers for the express purpose of initiating such a trade. Is this recent trade of an iconic terrorist (convicted of killing a father and beating to death his 4 year old daughter) and four others for the remains of 2 dead Israeli solidiers another example of the strategic exploitation of liberal society in order to destroy it? I wish to think that liberal values are too precious to lose in the fight against one’s enemies. I’m not sure right now.

      The Al-Dura Affair Continues (sans Bullets and Cameras)

      June 21, 2008

      This icon of the Second Intifada continues to be debated in French courts, among other place.

      Does extra footage suggest the likeli-hood of Palestinian gunfire as the culprit? Even a hoax with the child still alive?

      JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) summarizes the recent shift of perspective from the Jerusalem Post writer Larry Derfner, once a total skeptic:

      The upshot? Derfner agrees [that] the IDF and Jewish observers who say that al-Dura likely was killed by Palestinian fire, not by Israeli troops, but Derfner says there’s no evidence to show the boy’s shooting was staged:

      In short, the French appeals court upheld Karsenty’s legal right to cry hoax. It by no means upheld the substance of his claim. There are light years of difference between the two.

      Yet while it’s pure Jewish paranoia to claim that Enderlin and his co-conspirators knew all along that the Palestinians killed al-Dura, and it’s way beyond paranoia to think the Palestinians killed the boy deliberately or that he never died at all.

      Richard Landes, an expert in medieval anti-semitic forgeries, has been following the issue for years at Augean Stables and Second Draft.


      A Question on Gas Prices

      May 19, 2008

      Does dramatic rise of $ per barrel have more to do with the:

      • weakening dollar,
      • increase in demand pursing the same production
      • natural slow return from recent investments in geological exploration,
      • reduction of “cheap and easy” buried oil (and therefore the global peak)

      Link to Humanity

      May 17, 2008

      I don’t think social psychology gets to the heart of the matter, it only captures trends.  Conscience and personal identity formation are more important a topic.  But here’s a link to “5 psychological experiements that prove humanity is doomed. “

      life = risk

      May 17, 2008

      Thoughts on failure?