Monday, September 27, 2010

Preachers Plan to Give Political Endorsements from the Pulpit


Fortunately, this is not a problem. Immediately strip them of their tax-exempt status. Only a complete moron could think that this is about free speech. It really pisses me off to hear people who understand nothing about the Constitution invoking it to defend their asinine preferences. There is simply no problem here, no dilemma, no hard choice. If they do it, they lose their status--no screwing around, no second chances. You jerkweeds are 501(c)3 right now: endorse candidates, and you lose that status. Period.

[via Reddit]

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Colbert Fatigue

I know I'm in the minority of liberals here, but it seems to me that Colbert's schtick got tired a long time ago. And testifying to Congress partially in character seems more than a little disrespectful.

That is all.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Contract On America 2.0


Jebus how I used to scrutinize GOP proposals, looking for something good, fighting hard to remain the independent I was raised to be. But induction has won out, and now I barely even skim their nonsense anymore. You know without seeing it that most of what they're going to do is bullshit.

Here's Krugman on it, which you've no doubt already seen.

I basically quit at "stop job-killing tax hikes."

If they can't get past the first line without building in an almost-certainly-false quasi-presupposition[1], I'm outta there. Screw 'em. It's not even its falsehood that bugs me so much as the fact that they can't even their pet theory out of the bumper-sticker version of the statement of the policy...can't wait one page to give the (bogus) rationale, but have to squeeze it right in there. It'd be like if every time I mentioned the GOP I said 'the unhinged GOP." (Except for the being true part...)

Do these guys realize what buffoons they are? Are they at all concerned that their central strategy these days is "try to make America dumber until they agree with us?"

[1] What do you call that, anyway? The 'job-killing' bit in 'stop job-killing tax hikes'. Of course, it's ambiguous as between:

(a) Stop tax hikes that kill jobs


(b) Stop tax hikes, because they kill jobs.

The former would be o.k., but the latter is a policy predicated on a patent falsehood.

But anyway, what do you call that 'job-killing' bit? It's not a presupposition, right, since it's explicit. Is it like a predicate in the legal sense? Is there a grammatical term for it?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Is Obama a Cactus?

Some say yes, some say no.

I suppose Hillary Clinton will say "I have no reason to believe that he is a cactus."

[via Sullivan]
Dumbest Op-Ed Ever?
Congrats to Floyd and Mary Beth Brown

Just wow.

So this is what it's come to. Now the wingnuts are simply going to rely on mid-term election wins to impeach every Democratic president? And admit openly that it's a political act? Actually, that type of cynicism and naked desire for power would be better than the alternative...that they really do believe all that fever-swamp campfire talk about socialism and Kenyan colonialism and intentionally trying to ruin the country...

Fortunately, these losers are pretty far out in the borderlands of Wingnuttia. In fact, sometimes its hard to tell the third-string wingnut lunatics from clever parodies. This Brown fellow happens to have a Wikipedia page, quoting which:

Brown credits meating Ronald Reagan at a Masonic Temple in 1976 for spanking his interest in pubic service when he was fifteen years old.

Dude allegedly has a history of working to de-rationalize our democracy, as he seems to have had something to do with the Willie Horton ad...

I've been particularly nauseated by the puppy-hugging liberals I've had to engage in (actual, person-to-person) conversation with of late...but I'll be danged if the wingnuts don't always manage to keep a few tin-foil hat-lengths ahead in the race to piss me off...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Times of London University World Rankings: Carolina at #30

I'm frequently amazed at how Carolina manages to do so well in such rankings given that--at least by the standards of plausibly great universities--it isn't what you'd call a wealthy school, it has an unusually strong commitment to teaching, and to the students of its state (and NC does not have what you'd call the best secondary education system in the nation...). But they do keep on hangin' in there. Cue sentimental comments about "the university of the people" and so forth...

Friday, September 17, 2010

Pope: Religion--Especially Christianity--Becoming Marginalized


I'm not really sure it's fair to say that religion/Christianity is being marginalized...I mean, it's/they're no longer pervasive, and no longer central to Western civilization..but I'm not sure that constitutes being marginalized. I'd, of course, be more inclined to say that they're being cut down to size...but Mr. Ratzinger and I would obviously not see eye-to-eye on this.

As for whether it's a good thing...I guess my atheism is watery enough now that I'm not sure. There's good stuff in Christianity...if only it could recognize itself as a good nth step on the road to figuring out life, the universe and everything, instead of insisting that it's the last word in all that...which it so obviously is not. Is it a good thing that Christianity is fading? I'm not sure, and neither are you. We don't know what its successor will be like. It might be a kind of Dawkins-y pop positivism that replaces an unjustified faith in God with an unjustified faith that empirical science (narrowly construed) can answer all questions. Or it might be a kind of scientistic ethical egoism. Or something else.

Is it a good thing that Christianity is fading?

I don't know, and neither do you.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Good Luck Hammock II

Hey, check it out--that loggerhead I found last June on Bear Island, NC (previously...) was released from the sea turtle hospital in June! (You can scroll down the patient list if you're so inclined...)

When I finally got a ranger there last summer, he took one look at her and said that she was dead. She wasn't, though she sure looked that way (pic, fairly disturbing). I really didn't expect her to survive; I'm under the impression that nobody did.

Props to the good folks at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center (to which one can contribute, incidentally, by, for example, adopting a turtle).

Anyway, this makes me very happy.

Good luck Hammock II. Be fruitful and multiply and have lots of little loggerheads.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Koran-Burning Preacher and Rush Limbaugh Graduated High School Together

Yep. Here's confirmation: Limbaugh and Jones both graduated from Cape Central in '69.

I really don't know what to say about that.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Rush Limbaugh + Koran-Burning Preacher-Man: A Cape Girardeau, MO Connection?

So, my undergraduate alma mater was Southeast Missouri State University (aka SEMO) in Cape Girardeau, MO. (Yes, yes...not exactly Princeton, but it was affordable, and, for all the "Smith" family knew, it wasn't that much inferior to...well, Princeton. Or wherever. Ah, we were a naive lot,entirely ignorant of the ways of academia. (I did have an abnormally high ACT score, just's not like I couldn't have gotten in anywhere, had I applied anywhere else...though there was also that barely-good-enough-to-graduate-from-high-school who knows?) And hey: SEMO did right by me. Though I was the only philosophy major in the entire school, I got into several top-tier grad I owe the institution a debt of gratitude.)

Fun fact: turns out that SEMO is also the alma mater of Rush Limbaugh...though he, apparently, failed to graduate.[1]

Anyway, my brother also matriculated at SEMO, and, for reasons that have never been clear to me, stayed in Cape. He now tells me that word on the street there is that Terry Jones, the Koran-burning lunatic preacher, graduated from Cape Girardeau HS in '69, the same year as Rush.

No confirmation on this yet...but kinda sorta interesting (and depressing) if true...

[1] Yes, I realize that one usually reserves the term 'alma mater' to refer to an institution from which one has graduated...but that's not clearly the right way to use the term.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Geocentrists for Brownback

I...think this may be real.

[h/t Statisticasaurus Rex]

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Terraforming Ascension Island

Ascension Island used to be referred to as a "cinder," but the Royal Navy...well...kinda sorta terraformed it...

[via Reddit]
Cops Taze Injured Elderly Man In His Own Home

If these psychos don't go to jail, there should be hell to pay.
Glenn Greenwald: The "Nobody-Could-Have-Known" Excuse

Right on the money--people did, in fact, know.

At least many people (e.g. Jim Webb and Howard Dean) warned against the Iraq war before it started and predicted the outcome with great precision.

It was obvious to anyone paying attention in the build-up to the war that the evidence for a threat to the U.S. was pathetically weak.

One of the most infuriating responses to this by conservatives is the but-the-Dems-went-along-with-it response. Why infuriating? Well, partially because true: so much of the fury has to be directed at the hapless, worthless, witless Dems. But, more to the point: as usual, the GOP is, in effect, criticizing the Dems for listening to them. I was torn about the war in the months before it began as well...but largely because I took the Administration's claims seriously. I had long, tortured discussions with a particularly astute colleague of mine, and our thinking was very similar: we'd rehearse the evidence and find it wanting...but then take the Administration's testimony into account. That testimony functioned to "anchor" (as psychologists say) the discussion in such a way as to make going to war a strong contender, even though the evidence was all against it--even though the evidence in favor was so weak that the option should never have been on the table. "What are we missing?," we kept thinking. And: "Are we just being obtuse? Letting our low opinions of these jokers obscure our vision?" Foolish, in retrospect, but we spent untold hours wrestling with the problem even though it was obvious that the reasons provided did not come close to justifying war. Stupid liberals; too open-minded to unequivocally take the obviously correct side in an argument.