Saturday, March 31, 2012

Orwell and March Madness


1. Calipari is loathsome, and UK's embrace of him has made me lose virtually all respect for that program.

2. He is not a hero, a man just being honest about what's sub rosa everywhere else.

3. College athletics really does need to be re-thought.

4. I love, love, love college hoops, even in its current degraded state; but, given the opportunity to flip a switch and get rid of big-time college sports, I'd do so. As it is now, it's a corrupting influence on most universities.
Occasional Movie Reviews: Hanna



I'm a sucker for movies with tough heroines, so I though I might like this. I was wrong.

Some wee spoilers below.

Er, how is it that a girl who spent her whole live in the Siberian outback knows how to navigate with superheroish skill through a secret army underground bunker? And knows all about surveillance cameras, but not t.v. monitors? And knows how to detect that she's being tailed by a car? (Admittedly: the gay Nazis who are following her are the worst secret agents ever.) The movie has its moments, e.g. the surreal weirdness of the strip club. And it does try to avoid explaining everything, which is good. But overall, I thought it pretty much sucked.

Worth watching if it's the only thing on cable and you are seriously jonesing for an action movie.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

People Who Support the ACA Tend to Say It's Constitutional; People Who Don't Support It Tend to Say It Isn't


I'd noticed this sort of thing in conjunction with several issues. I hypothesized that it meant that people don't know much about the Constitution, and just use 'unconstitutional' to mean bad.

Me, I think it'd probably be a good thing, but am a bit skeptical about its constitutionality...though less so since tehr0x0r's recent comments.
Marshall Wins Cousy Award


We'll never see the likes of him again. It's heartbreaking to see Henson, Barnes and Marshall all go, but if I could only watch one of them play another year in Carolina blue it would probably be Marshall. At least we got to see Barnes and Henson play for two years. The LDII debacle meant that we only got to see Marshall play for about a third of last year.

Oh, the spectacular plays he'd have been making had he stayed one more!

Congrats, Kendall! This is much-deserved.

We're all gonna miss you, man.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Marshall, Barnes and Henson All Go Pro

According to IC, "multiple sources" confirm that Marshall, Barnes and Henson are all gone to the league.


Very sad that injuries kept this team from reaching its potential, and that we only had a few glimpses of them playing really great ball. I'd absolutely love to see 'em play another year in Carolina blue...but I understand their decision, and wish the best for them. Great guys. We were privileged to get to watch 'em play.

Ugh. Money ruins everything. And the NBA sucks.

Next year is going to be really, really rough.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dick Cheney Gets a Heart

Yep... Making a joke about this would be the humor equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel.
Scotus / Obamacare

I genuinely don't know what to think about the constitutionality of the mandate.Whereas conservatives have made up tales about how awful the ACA will be because the gub'mint is so evil, I have little doubt that we'd be better off with the act as law. However, I'm sympathetic to arguments that this application of the interstate commerce clause would be unique, and that it edges in the direction of a radical expansion of government power.

See, here's where I would like to have a Supreme Court that I could trust. I could just wait for their ruling and let that be that. However, I simply don't believe that we'll get dispassionate analysis/objective judgment from Scalia, Thomas or Alito. (How partisan/ideologically-motivated are the liberals on the court? I've never had a very good sense of that...)
Philosoraptor Haz Hoops Sad

This is basically me since Sunday afternoon.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Racist Hunger Games Fans: Disappointed

[via Metafilter]
Jonathan Haidt: The Righteous Mind
Nonsense About Reason and Morality


Egad. An incredible amount of nonsense about reason and morality comes out of psychology and the social sciences.

Consider the following, Saletan's summary of this trainwreck of a position:
To the question many people ask about politics — Why doesn’t the other side listen to reason? — Haidt replies: We were never designed to listen to reason. When you ask people moral questions, time their responses and scan their brains, their answers and brain activation patterns indicate that they reach conclusions quickly and produce reasons later only to justify what they’ve decided. The funniest and most painful illustrations are Haidt’s transcripts of interviews about bizarre scenarios. Is it wrong to have sex with a dead chicken? How about with your sister? Is it O.K. to defecate in a urinal? If your dog dies, why not eat it? Under interrogation, most subjects in psychology experiments agree these things are wrong. But none can explain why.
The problem isn’t that people don’t reason. They do reason. But their arguments aim to support their conclusions, not yours. Reason doesn’t work like a judge or teacher, impartially weighing evidence or guiding us to wisdom. It works more like a lawyer or press secretary, justifying our acts and judgments to others. Haidt shows, for example, how subjects relentlessly marshal arguments for the incest taboo, no matter how thoroughly an interrogator demolishes these arguments.
To explain this persistence, Haidt invokes an evolutionary hypothesis: We compete for social status, and the key advantage in this struggle is the ability to influence others. Reason, in this view, evolved to help us spin, not to help us learn. So if you want to change people’s minds, Haidt concludes, don’t appeal to their reason. Appeal to reason’s boss: the underlying moral intuitions whose conclusions reason defends.
Look. Reason did not evolve in order to persuade. I'll bet Haidt or anyone else a large amount of money on that point right now. That view makes no sense whatsoever. This absurd view presupposes that we began with no ability to reason, but then reason evolved...what? Specifically in order to be hijacked by bad arguments? Jesus. And I thought philosophers were bad...

Reason evolved in order to help us survive by understanding and predicting the world. It's a very expensive ability, evolutionarily speaking, forcing us to have large brains, ergo big heads, ergo painful and dangerous childbirth and long childhoods. Evolution does not optimize, but it is not usually inefficient enough to spend that much on something utterly useless--in fact, counterproductive. Non-rational persuasion involves hijacking/short-circuiting the relevant mechanisms--and the mechanisms did not evolve in order to be hijacked. That you can be sure of.

The examples that Haidt cites are particularly ill-suited to establishing his hypothesis. Why not have sex with a dead chicken? Here's the answer:


When you ask people to give reasons for things that they have no reasons for, they are going to rationalize. Or, to use a more precise and apt locution: make shit up. This shows us nothing about the interesting cases, the cases in which reason works as it's supposed to. My leg is caught under a tree, and I hear growling nearby. I've never heard anything exactly like it before, but it reminds me of things I do know about, and not in a good way. I know that in the past I've been able to use levers to lift heavy objects. There's no lever nearby, but there are some branches left on the tree. None of them individually is thick enough, but together they might do the trick. So if I can just figure out how to cut them off...and so on... That's a much more paradigmatic use of reason. And that's a use that evolution might actually, as it were, invest in. Reason does work like a judge or a teacher in the most important, most common cases. Only people who spend too much of their time thinking about interactions with other people think otherwise. Spend some time on a farm or in a laboratory, and you'll see the light.

And what about incest? Seriously? The most notoriously non-rational and difficult-to-justify taboo (yes, taboo) we've got? Hell, there probably is no justification for the incest taboo. If it makes sense, it's damn hard to explain why, having something to do with familial social roles and the difference between siblings and lovers. (We're not talking, of course, about non-consensual sex between an adult and a child--we know why that's wrong. But consensual sex between, say, 30-year-old siblings raised apart? Damn hard to justify that proscription...)

But, uh, why not defecate in a urinal? Uh...because someone else will have to clean that sh*t (as it were) up? How complicated is that?

Yes, people can compete for social status, though they don't always. Yes, one can use reason to do so. Yes, one way of doing that is to try to persuade people. But impartial uses of reason are antecedent to such uses. First, you have to impartially and rationally figure out how to manipulate others. Then you have to mendaciously and irrationally manipulate them. The first phase is the most important and fundamental phase, and that's what attempts to understand and control others and attempts to understand and control the natural world have in common.

It takes about ten seconds of reflection to see this stuff. And it's depressing to see such a weak hypothesis get any attention at all. It's flashy, it's interesting...and in the way of most flashy and interesting hypotheses, it's false. Reminds my of that Cosmides and Tooby nonsense from a couple of years back...but worse.

OTOH, I do think that Haidt is probably right that the left is too prone to think that voters are always irrational when they vote for conservative policies. I can't tell you how many times I've heard liberals express outrage because conservatives "vote against their own self-interest," economically speaking. But, again, ten seconds does the trick: economic self-interest isn't the most important thing in most people's lives. If I think that abortion is murder, you're not going to be able to buy my vote by promising me lower taxes. Murder is more important than money, even if the murder is someone else's and the money is mine... We needn't say that these are moral "intuitions," but they are deep-seated moral views, and not all of them on the right are loony.

Finally, as Saletan points out, Haidt's thesis is self-refuting, in that he himself is engaged in trying (however erroneously) to reason from evidence to conclusions in a dispassionate way. That's what reason is for, incidentally, and that's how it works at its best, even if it is frequently hijacked for irrational and nefarious purposes.

O.k., once again, I haven't read the book...but, once again, I don't have to. Life is short, Saletan is a good informant, and there are better books to spend my time on.

Jeez...IRL I'm not so cranky and dismissive... But jeez. The internet, it just tries my patience...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Congratulations Kansas Jayhawks!

Fantastic game!

A real pleasure to watch.

I'm amazed at how well Carolina played without Marshall (and Dex...and L-Mac...and Henson for several minutes while he got his ankle taped up...). What a fantastic bunch of kids. A frustrating way to end an injury-plagued season, but they really came together and played a solid game even without Kendall. A few small breaks going the other way (e.g. if a few of Robinson's many walks had been called) and we still might have pulled it out. But the 3-2 zone, an almost perfect game by KU, and a cold, cold streak at the end did us in.

Damn. I really love this team, and am very, very sad that I won't get to see them play again.

This is the absolute best hoops I have seen in years.

Just beautiful. An absolute joy to watch.

(But, er, note to refs: even Thomas Robinson is supposed to dribble the ball when he's moving. We're up by 5 if even just his most egregious walks were called. But I don't want to niggle over stuff like that. FANTASTIC GAME!)
Carolina-Kansas, Final Eight

These are my two favorite teams in college hoops. I'm (almost) always incredibly psyched to see them play each other.

Unfortunately, I'm not exactly looking forward to this game. With Kendall out--and sources say that, unsurprisingly, he won't play today--I fear a stomping. The Ohio game was downright painful.

Kansas is a great team, and Self is a great coach. If we even had Dex back, I'd be a lot more optimistic.

This would be an incredibly fun game to watch without the injuries. Here's hoping that it's fairly fun anyway.
Santorum's Alternate Reality


Wow. Totally watch that commercial.

The really fascinating question about the contemporary American right is: how much of this do they actually believe, and how much is intentional falsehood?

It's really hard to separate the insanity from the mendacity anymore.

These are very, very scary people.

OTOH, I kinda like Paleofuture's idea: let's everybody start cranking out lunatic apocalyptic campaign ads! Now that would be a fun campaign...

I call zombies!

[via Metafilter]

[Also: "Rick Santorum Would Like You To Know That He Is Going Insane"]

Friday, March 23, 2012

Carolina Without Marshall


We are in big trouble.
Congratulations to the Mighty Bobcats of Ohio

Fantastic game.

Those guys were just incredible.

Carolina just managed to stumble across the finish line in a daze, barely ahead in OT.

Survive and advance.

That's the name of the game.
Jay Bilas on College Hoops and the Sweet Sixteen


Great points. Bilas is the man to listen to when it comes to college hoops.

Most important point:
Something has to be done about all the hacking and blocking. The game has suffered terribly, and been skewed/distorted radically in favor of the defense. (Bilas does not mention that Kryzyewski helped skew it that way...but no need to open that can of worms I guess...) The game has become boring because it's become too physical, with unbridled hacking down low, rampant hand-checking, and players repeatedly sliding in under drivers to create charges. It absolutely has to be stopped.

Sadly, he's also right that Carolina's championship hopes are basically over without Marshall. Roy and the boys are obviously ready to fight for it, and with Marshall playing like he was before the injury, I liked their chances. They could beat Kansas on a good night, and I don't see that Syracuse is very good...but Kentucky is a different story.
Vernor Vinge and the Fall of Civilization


Don't know much about this fellow, but there are things there worth reading.

I've noticed that the orthodoxy seems to be that only kooks think about the fall of civilization. Apparently, it's regarded as basically impossible. My attitude is more like: it's not terribly unlikely. As the system becomes more complex, there is more interdependence and less self-reliance, and as the population gets more and more out of control, some kind of crash becomes easier and easier to envision, and recovery less likely. I don't obsess about it, but I don't see why anyone would think that it was extraordinarily unlikely.

Mr. Vinge says the following interesting thing: building civilization a second time would be harder in a way and easier in a way: harder in that we've used up all the hydrocarbon fuels, easier in that cities are like big dumps of things like steel I-beams.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

"Dean Smith Is The Tie That Binds KU and North Carolina"

at STL Today

Nice little article on the GOAT, KU and UNC.
Least Fun Sweet Sixteen Ever

Unsurprisingly, it's not likely that Marshall will play tomorrow. It also seems unlikely that he could play on Sunday. Strangely, the door has not been conclusively closed on either day, however, Apparently everything's gone amazingly well--the break is at a place where the scaphoid gets its best blood supply the surgery to insert the screw went well, the "permanent" cast is off, the swelling is down. But still...

I have not seen the mighty Bobcats of Ohio play this year, other than a few minutes in the tournament. I reckon we still have something of an advantage, but, having lost both our first and second options at point guard, that leaves Stillman and J-Watts. Nobody is going to be too terribly surprised if the Heels don't make it to the round of eight.

If they do, they're likely to meet Kansas. Ouch. Now, a UNC-KU matchup is basically the most fun you can have in basketball, IMHO... Under normal conditions, that is. As things stand, it might not be all that much fun... (It could, of course, be which case things might be even more interesting...)

Despite the heartbreaking loss of Kendall, it's still great to get to see most of these awesome kids play at least one more game.

Go You Tar Heels!

Beat them Bobcats!
"...A Turnkey Totalitarian State"...

This, on the NSA's "Stellar Wind" program is one of the scariest things I've read in a long time. And that's saying something. Peppered with spooky references to the sinister-sounding "Narus device"'s about how the NSA is basically listening to and recording just about everything. Bad enough as it is, but setting things up so that all it would take is something resembling the flip of a switch for a rogue administration to use this information in the service of repression.

Uh...when, exactly, did everybody go batshit crazy, anyway?

Oh, yeah...September 12th 2001. I almost forgot...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dirty Fouls by Creighton?
Roy's View

Roy was asked about it on the Roy Williams show.

Summary below:

1. Echinique's double-forearms to Zeller's face

Me: Flagrant foul

Roy: Flagrant foul
But...Roy: I know the kid, he's a good kid.

I was: right.

2. Gibbs (#10) slaps Henson's wrist, Henson is T'd up, 10 winks at the bench

Me: He's not winking b/c he was trying to hurt him. He's winking b/c he got him T'd up. He's still an assh*le.

Roy: He's not winking b/c he was trying to hurt him. He's winking b/c he got him T'd up.

But...Roy says "I wouldn't do something like that...but Michael Jordan would, and I love the ground he walks on."

I was: half right.

3. 34's foul against Kendall

Me: Dirty. Not going for the ball, shoving Kendall while he's in the air.

Roy: "When I saw it I thought 'Gosh, I wish he hadn't hit him that hard'"...but not dirty. He shoved him, but you've got to do something with your off hand, and it just kind of goes up.

In fact, Roy said, I can't tell you how many times I've told Kendall, "if you're going to foul somebody, you can't let them score, too; you've got to foul them." You can't, he said, give them love pats.

I was: wrong, I guess.
Creighton's #10, Another Cheap Shot At Henson's Wrist

Missed this one.

Twisting and really getting his hips and shoulder into it--nice touch. Seems like he may have had lots of practice...
Consensus of Economists About The Stimulus?

Does anyone know of a good summary of economic consensus about the effectiveness/wisdom of the stimulus? (And/or of the wisdom of near-term austerity and so forth.) Seems like the preponderance of the sane analysis is pro-stimulus, but I can find so little stuff from the right that is readable that I'm worried I'm getting a slanted account of it.

I am shamefully ignorant of economics, so something understandable by morons would be best in this case...
A Different View of the Wragge-Marshall Foul

At the Tar Heel Blog.

I think that the video tells a different and slightly more complete story than the stills, but I've got a really low tolerance for such "physical" play. Also, I'm not in a good position to be objective about the matter. Seems to me that Wragge is only making a nominal play on the ball, and that the real action is with his other arm.

Also: footage of "the wink" and of 00 leveling Zeller.
Still No Charges In Treyvon Martin Murder

Almost beyond belief.

Apparently the FBI is now monitoring the case.
The Threat of "Human Engineering"

Now this is some scary stuff.

E.g. making humans smaller in order to combat climate change. Astonishing.

Egad, man. Independently of particular arguments, how can you not see the insanity of even contemplating going down this road? I mean, I'm willing to discuss the fine points as long as we start out by agreeing that this is an insane trajectory to even consider. By all means, we can discuss it as a purely theoretical question...but if you are seriously suggesting any of this as an actual policy proposal...then you are a truly frightening human being.

Apparently this is a protege of Peter Singer' that the trajectory ends in absurdity should not come as much of a surprise. That utilitarianism is still taken seriously is astonishing to me.

Look. We've overpopulated the planet, and the West has begun to live downright wastefully. If you start thinking things like "hey, let's make people tiny so that we can squeeze an extra couple of billion in!" instead of "whoa, time to have fewer kids"...well, it's time to stop and think hard about what the path you are headed down.

(h/t J. Carthensis)
The Foul Against Marshall

As you can see, 34 is not even trying to go for the ball. He holds up his left hand, but it's a foot under the ball, and he's got no play at all. So he pushes Marshall in the ribs, extending his right arm and sending Kendall's upper body out, so he can't get his legs under him on the landing. Predictably, KM crashes to the floor.

As I've long said: this kind of thing has got to stop. Dean warned, just before his retirement, that the game was becoming too violent, and he was right.

That's the season right there.

Marshall is having surgery this morning to put a pin in his wrist. Good luck, man. We're all thinking about you.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Carolina's Season Likely Over After Defeating Creighton; Marshall's Wrist Fractured

After an extremely thuggish performance by Creighton, Carolina's season is likely, in effect, over, despite the 87-71 victory.

Kendall Marshall, the one player that Carolina absolutely cannot do without, has a fractured wrist, no doubt after a particularly hard foul that sent him crashing to the court.

The game was peppered with several thuggish plays by Creighton, including this gem, some pointless slapping at Henson's injured wrist, and the...well..let's just say aggressive foul that knocked Marshall to the court. (After Henson was T'ed up for jawing at the guy who slapped at his wrist, the dude looked over at the bench and appeared to wink at them, if you can believe that bullshit.)

I can't even talk about this right now. The refs let too much of this shit go. Too many mediocre teams drag good teams down to their level by throwing hard fouls as a strategy.
Lehigh Ousts Duke

Not going to gloat. No sense dancing on their grave.

I will allow myself to note that they've only made it past the Sweet Sixteen once on the last eight years (and that was their "Magic Carpet Ride" in 2010). This is never mentioned.

Now that Rivers is gone, Operation Don't Hate d00que can resume. It was futile with that kid there. K seems to have become somehow less odious this year. Could be my imagination...

Best sign at the game: We Are Ridiculous Lehigh.

Good game, Hawks! You have done God's work.
Bin Laden's Plot To Kill Obama


How'd that work out for ya, big guy?

Looks like somebody brought a couple of explosive religious fanatics and an AK-47 to a Seal Team 6 fight...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Go Cyclones, Beat the Wildcat$

My official position has been that I want UK in the final game. They managed to eke out a 1-point win against us at Rupp, Calipari teams represent the Dark Side, and I want the Heels to take 'em out.

Thirty seconds into this game, I realized that I want them to lose early as a repudiation of Calipari and everything he represents and of any fan base that would get behind him, and that it is impossible for me not to root for whoever is playing them.

Kentucky is long and talented, and Iowa State will have a hard time beating them...but GO CYCLONES. Beat 'em. No Calipari team deserves to win. Ever.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Reich: Blame Speculators (Hence the GOP) for $4 Gas

Heels Outlast UVM


Congrats to Vermont on a great effort.

That was not an easy win. Lots of it was Vermont, but a fair bit of it was our on-going discombobulation with out Henson. If we can't get him back in the lineup soon, our chances of advancing start to diminish very, very rapidly.

Next up: Creighton.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Refs Hand Syracuse First-Round Win over UNC-A
[Or Maybe Not...]

[edit: turns out that the lane-violation call was, in fact, by the book, even if weird. I thought there was something odd about that play, but didn't know about the relevant rule.

The out-of-bounds play was, apparently, bad but ended up with basically the right result, as UNCA did foul the Syracuse player.

Just as significant, though, and entirely undiscussed, was the slap-across-the-face foul against Dickie on the layup attempt late in the game. There was no question about that one, and it cost UNCA 2 points and a TO.

College hoops really does need to let officials review plays like these.]


That was some really, really terrible officiating. I'm totally neutral in this game--I'm not a UNC-A fan, I've got nothing against Syracuse...but the Bulldogs were absolutely ripped off.

Even with their #1 scorer missing every shot he put up, Asheville was in it up until the end. Then the cavalcade of terrible calls began.  A Syracuse player slapped Dickie right across the face on a layup attempt, causing him to miss--no call. Then there was a phantom lane violation on a Syracuse missed FT, giving them two points. Then a bad call on a tip out of bounds. I missed the bad goal-tending call earlier in the game everybody was talking about.

Jesus. Those were the worst refs I've seen in a long, long time. They made ACC refs look downright competent.

Props to UNC-A. Without terrible officiating, that would have been the 16-over-1 upset that everybody's waited so long for.
Calipari "98% Evil"

That's about right.(SI)

(Per IC: the other 2% is slime...)

Other highlights of tongue-semi-in-cheek predictions about March Madness:

"Rooting against Calipari will make you feel patriotic."

"[Parity]  inevitably leads to the following conversation, every single March:
EXPERT: "With so much parity in college basketball, we shouldn't be surprised ..."
FAN: "Hahaha, Duke lost, wahooooooooooooo!" "

"North Carolina's Roy Williams against his old team, Kansas, in a regional final. Ol' Roy would do his very best to say nice things about everyone, which would just tick people off."

Bonus awesome pic of Roy and TBF.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

College Hoops Squelches Offense

"It just doesn't serve the game's interest the way we're doing it," Bilas said. "How would the game suffer if Tyler Zeller weren't held? If you're a really good big guy — I mean, really good — why would you want to stay in college? So you can have guys hang all over you and you can't execute a play and they don't call it? And you can go to the NBA and get to execute in a 1-on-1 environment, they call fouls and you get paid for it."
Bilas may be a d00quie, but he really is one of the best guys on college hoops.

The flopping, hand-checking and hacking really do have to stop. They're ruining the game and giving unfair advantage to certain less-than-perfectly-scrupulous teams.
R-Money + Santorum?

My new worry; Santorum as Romney's running-mate. Mitt gets the money-'pub vote, Santorum brings in the Bible-'pubs, and counterbalances their anti-Mormon inclinations.

Obama Picks Carolina To Win It All


I didn't think I could like that guy more than I already do...

I was wrong.

He clearly likes Carolina, picking them to win in '08 and '09, scrimmaging with them at least once, and attending the aircraft carrier game against MSU at the beginning of the season.
A Tough-Oil World

Link (via Metafilter)

So that points to an argument for the conclusion that high oil/gas prices--and the attendant scarcity--are here to stay.

This issue reminds me of the population issue (and they are, of course, related). We have a problem. It is a big problem. It is not going to go away. Band-aid solutions are not going to fix it; they might even make it worse. But we're lucky if even Band-aids get serious consideration.

Have we really entered a world of permanent oil scarcity? My untutored guess is that we haven't--but that we'll continue to chart an oscillating trajectory toward less and less more and more expensive oil.

The time to start fixing the problem is now, while we have time--and oil. To wait until the crisis hits is insane. Sucking every last drop out of ANWR is foolish and short-sighted. We might, of course, have to do so at some point. But the smart course of action now is not to use up our safety net now and hope that aliens will land and give us fusion power plants next year.

The American right seems to have gone from being indifferent to the relevant problems to being downright hostile to solving them. When I was a kid, they seemed indifferent, e.g., to the environment; now they often seem hostile to it. They not only don't think we need alternatives to oil, they seem to hate the very idea of energy sources other than oil (and possibly nuclear). I understand lefties who get teary-eyed about solar--and I'll continue to understand them even if it turns out to be a pipe dream. But I can't understand an in-principle commitment to oil--a commitment that seems to outstrip even the economic ties that the right has to big oil.

Of course the population problem is the major driver of these other problems--not that we can ignore overconsumption by the developed world. If we could bring our population under control, many of the relevant problems would be mitigated. But if you think that solving the oil problem is tough, wait til the population problem can no longer be ignored. It'll be hard enough to get liberals to react sensibly...and I dread the response on the right.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Renaming Philosophy "Ontic Science"

Dang, looks like Colin McGinn was not, in fact, joking...  (previously)

Ah, well. Shows what I know.

His main point seems to be: it would be cool if people who didn't know what we did thought that what we did was hard.

I can't believe electrons are being spilled over this...
Congratulations to the Mystic and Ms. Mystic on the Arrival of the Wee Mystic

Way to reproduce!
Nate Silver: Chance of UNC Cutting the Nets: 10.9%

Pretty good odds, all things considered, and third only to Kentucky's 26.1% chance and OSU's 14% chance. Kansas, our 2-seed, is just behind us at 9.1%.


Needless to say, it's bad for basketball when any Calipari team wins, so, like so many others, I'm less-than-happy that UK has done so well. On the bright side, even if they win, it's likely that the championship will be vacated...

Kansas, incidentally, is scary good IMO. If Henson is healthy, it's very unlikely that we lose before the round of 8...but then sh*t gets real. I see a game against KU as a complete toss-up.

We lost by 1 to Kentucky on a somewhat fluky final play at Rupp, and I'd like another shot at them on a neutral floor. Of course, since then we lost Dex for the season...and nobody knows when Henson will be coming back.

Oh, March are so bad for my productivity...
Drudge Does His Part To Drag Us To War

The 101st Chairborne is back on active duty.

Here's notorious liar Matt Drudge, back in action.

(via Balloon Juice)

Monday, March 12, 2012

State Reacts to Getting a Spot at the Dance

LOL awesome.

Go Pack!
Is Philosophy a Science?


This, by Colin McGinn, is obviously a joke.

You can't tell because it's not very funny.

Here's the problem. The problem is that many people currently mistakenly think that all and only science is interesting, systematic, difficult, rigorous, and aims at the truth via careful reasoning. Consequently, one often meets complete dullards who nevertheless have high opinions of themselves on account of being scientists...or "scientists." If you're outside of the sciences, you'll also has to deal with the fact that many people will think that what you do is pointless, intellectually masturbatory nonsense that basically anybody could do. It's fairly common to meet people who think that they're scientists because they work in IT. Or who think that the dimmest scientists is intellectually superior to the most brilliant historian. Or whatever. I can't tell you how many people I've met who were too dumb to have conversations with who, nevertheless, looked down on me because I'm in philosophy.

I find it kind of funny but, hey, I guess not every body does.

The solution--if a solution is even wanted--is, of course, not to pretend that philosophy is an empirical science. Down that road lies, e.g., "experimental philosophy" and related silliness. The solution is to recognize that "science" is not synonymous with "difficult and intellectually respectable."

McGinn may be genuinely concerned that philosophy doesn't get much respect...but it remains an open question how much respect it deserves. I've known philosophers who were ridiculously brilliant. I've also known a lot who weren't anything special. As a discipline, philosophy ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous. We've got Aristotle. We've also got Feyerabend. (That Zizek fellow doesn't count. He's really some kind of literary theorist or something. We suck, but we don't suck that bad.)

And, besides, even if non-philosophers have an exceptionally low opinion of philosophers, I'll be that the opinions philosophers have of themselves balance those out pretty well...
Worse Than Laettner: The 18 Most Hateable Moments In Duke Basketball History

LOL @ d00que

Jebus, I'd almost forgotten about the Coach Kay "Center For Leadership and Ethics."

The mind, it reeleth.

That's an oxymoron on the level of "Senior night at Rupp"...

(At Slate, via IC)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

So I'm A Victim of Plagiarism

That is, someone published my unpublished work (and the work of some others) under other names, word-for-word.

Here's the story:

I was in on a paper project--a relatively minor project, a collaborative effort explaining several errors in a well-known critical thinking exam. The guy who ended up being the lead author on the paper was a real piece of work. What he produced was really terrible, and I and three other co-authors, including Johnny Quest (who made by far the best point in the whole paper) told him that we were splitting our project off, and that he couldn't use our work or our names. Although our group and the other group had noticed many of the same things, our group had identified more problems, and had expressed the problems far more clearly. So the lead author and three other authors--all of whom we know, and all of whom are scrupulously honest--split off from me and 2-3 other people. At the last minute, we discovered that the lead author had tried to publish the paper in a well-known philosophy journal with our names gone, but our work still in it. I had to call the editor and have it stopped. (The editor was actually so fed up with the lead author's shenanigans by that point that he blew up at me about it, saying that this was "the last straw." We had words.)

A year or so later, I put in a bunch of work on the paper, and kind of tried to get my co-authors to get it polished up, but it fell by the wayside and never got finished.

Recently, one of the co-authors wanted to finally get it out, and I told him to make sure to check the other paper that the other guys published. We didn't get any ideas from them, but I wanted to make sure that we footnoted any points that both groups made.

When we looked at the paper, it turns out that the lead author went ahead and used not only our ideas, but our actual words...though, of course, not our names.

The guy is such a loser that he ended up not having much of a career, but I'm going to pursue the matter anyway. He clearly plagiarized our work intentionally, with full knowledge of what he was doing. He tried to do it once before and we had to stop him. So he knew what he was doing.

Any advice on this would be welcome.
Heels Drop ACC Tournament Final to 'Noles

Meh. NBD.

The big story today was the re-emergence of PJ Hairston. Way, way more important than the win from Carolina's perspective.

FSU was on fire and Carolina still couldn't get in sync without Henson. Actually, they started looking good toward the end, and were well positioned to win until Marshall took that ill-advised 3 (not complaining really...his 3 just before that was crucial). PJ still almost tied it at the end.

Like Roy, I don't care that much about the ACC Tournament. It's big fun, but the real prizes are the regular-season title and the NCAAs. Signs point to Henson being back by then; and if PJ really did turn some kind of corner today, we could be really fun to watch in the tourney.

Oh and: super-fun game! Almost forgot...that is the point, after all!
Carolina 40, F$U 49 At The Half

Really feeling the absence of Henson, trying new line-ups, and, just like yesterday, way out of sync, but hanging in there.

Go You Tar Heels!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Lead Plaintiff In Anti-ACA Lawsuit Bankrupt Partially Because Of Medical Bills

It's like rai-i-ain on your wedding day...

(Probably via Reddit or something)
Ultra-Wealthy Have Insufficient Political Influence

Says billionaire.

I'm sure this claim is perfectly sincere.
Heels Squeak By State


Henson didn't even dress out, so we were without L-Mac, Dex, and Henson.Played a downright ugly game and made bad decision after bad decision (read: shot 3-ball after 3-ball) toward the end of the game, but managed to squeak it out. Frankly, we really need to count our blessings on this one.

We got a couple of calls that could have gone the other way, or so it seemed to me, including Leslie's fourth. Definitely thought we got more breaks than State in this one, though the zebras almost made up with it by putting an extra 0.6 seconds back on the clock for State's last shot. Good no-call at the end, though from the first angle it looked like we got away with one.

It will be hard to beat either FSU or d00k without Henson.
Adventures in Postmodern Conservatism:
The Economy: It's About How You Feel

We in the reality-based community may be relieved that the economy is improving, largely as a result of Obama's policies, and no thanks to the GOP. We might even think that this will give the Dems a boost in November.

Not so fast, say GOP pollsters...
“What matters a lot more than the specific unemployment rate is what voters feel in their communities and in the lives of their families,” GOP pollster Whit Ayres said. “Focus groups demonstrate that while people feel the economy is marginally better, that it is still very weak, and that the president’s policies have done little or nothing to generate the kind of growth that we have historically been used to coming out of a recession.”
See? What matters is how voters feel.

Whose policies actually helped most to torpedo the economy? Whose helped most to save it? In which direction is it really going? How fast ought it to be going, and which parties policies are speeding it up? Which parties policies are slowing it down?

Doesn't really matter. It's all about how you--or, rather, "focus groups"--feel...even if you don't really know the answers to the above questions.

Oh, conservatives. Remember when you used to at least pretend to be hard-headed and no-nonsense?

Yeah, I miss that.
ACC Tournament: Heels Thump Maryland 85-69
Next Up: State

Carolina rolled over Maryland despite Henson going out with an injured wrist after a hard foul. Praise Jebus that it looks like a non-break. On tap today: State.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Limbaugh: Liberals Responsible For Me Slandering Fluke

See, Limbaugh is actually a thoughtful, civil man. But he was driven over the edge by evil, irrational, uncivil liberals. See?

Limbaugh has done more to degrade the quality of our public political discussions than any other person I can think of. He's injected untold quantities of venom and irrationality into the public mind. He's weakened the foundation of trust, civility, and mutual respect that makes democracy possible. But, of course, evil people don't really act like they do in the comics. If they did, Limbaugh would rub his hands, throw his head back, and laugh maniacally. BWAHAHAHAHAH! YOU ARE DOOMED, AMERICA! DOOOOOMED!

But, no. Of course not. Rush pretends he's the good guy, pretends that he's somehow helping the country by poisoning the minds of the uninformed. And, of course, pretends that he is the victim here. Hell, he probably even half-believes that nonsense.


Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Cracked: 6 Things Rich People Need To Stop Saying

Actually, I want them to keep saying these things...

My favorite is Hamilton Nolan's translation of, e.g. "$500,000 a year isn't all that much after I pay for my lavish Manhattan apartment, my kid's nanny and private school, and my Jaguar":

"'Sure, it's an objectively large sum of money,' they say. 'But it is far smaller after I spend it.'"

Austin Rivers Travels On Every Drive

Absolutely unbelievable.
Colbert: Limbaugh is a Prostitute Who Will Do Anything With His Mouth For Cash


That's basically the point I was trying to make earlier, but the Colbert team does it better.

Although it's not really a fair comparison. Sluts and prostitutes do nothing to pollute the minds of voters. They don't undermine civil public discourse, nor distort people's reasoning about politics. Limbaugh is basically the Tokyo Rose of the right, spreading disinformation and promoting a twisted, hate-filled, irrational perspective that has helped send American conservatism into the deranged death-spiral that currently threatens the country.

So sorry, sluts and prostitutes. The comparison is unfair to you.

It's also unfair, incidentally, to call Limbaugh stupid. Stupid people can't help it. Limbaugh probably rises to the level of more-or-less average intelligence. He knows that he's spewing falsehoods and disinformation. He does it for money, and for the adulation. Although, like the best bullshitters and liars, he seems to half-believe his own bullshit and lies, I doubt that he'd bet his life or even significant money on the things he says. Limbaugh isn't stupid, he's evil.
Bust Of Rush Limbaugh to be Added to The Hall of Famous Missourians in MO Capitol Rotunda

See this crap right here Misery? This kinda crap is embarrassing to every Miserian, yours truly most emphatically included.

I am disappoint, Missouri. Very, very disappoint.

Actually, of course, it's the fault of Republicans in the MO legislature, and Pat Tilley (R-Perryville) in particular.

Man, I couldn't believe it when I saw that Limbaugh had been added to a mural of famous Missourians on the flood wall in Cape Girardeau. Right up there with Mark Twain, Omar Bradley, George Washington Carver and Black Jack Pershing. That was embarrassing enough...but Limbaugh's from that very town, and it's about an order of magnitude less embarrassing than this nonsense. Now in Jeff City, alongside Truman, Sacajawea and Hubble, we're gonna have Rush Limbaugh,  man who has made millions of dollars poisoning the minds of the...well, let's say: most intellectually vulnerable of our citizens. A man who is a professional bullshitter, who has degraded Americans' ability to deliberate together. Nice.

What's really despicable is Tilly's moronic, sophistical defense:
"It's not the Hall of Universally Loved's the Hall of Famous Missourians." there a bust of Jesse James in there? Cole Younger? Tom Pendergast? (Answer, incidentally: no.) Because if not, I call bullshit on this. In fact, I call bullshit on this anyway. There is no doubt whatsoever that busts in this part of the rotunda are supposed to be for Missourians who are famous and admirable. It's not the Hall of Famous Or Infamous Missourians. If Tilly is serious about this defense, then he needs to get right on these other busts. Hell, in fact, I insist that they immediately commission a bust of Jame Earl Ray. Now there's a famous Missourian.

I mean, it's just the Hall of Famous Missourians, right? It's not the Hall of Admirable Missourians...not the Hall of Non-Jackass Missourians...

Not anymore, anyway.

(h/t Compu-Phil)
Highlights From Hansbrough Indoor Stadium, 3/3/2011
Carolina Hammers Duke

I say, d00kies, thanks for hosting! How we do enjoy your senior nights...

Highlights of the evening's festivities.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Putin Steals Election

Big surprise.

Poor damn Russia just can't get a break.

(Do not allow yourself to be distracted, as I was, by the fact that one of the people interviewed in this story is allegedly named 'Tiny Kox.' That would be puerile.)

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Rush Limbaugh's Non-Apology

Warning: link to that shithead's site: link.

The whole statement:

For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week.  In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.
I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress. I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities. What happened to personal responsibility and accountability? Where do we draw the line? If this is accepted as the norm, what will follow? Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit?In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone's bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a Presidential level.
My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.
1. Typical cowardly bullshit non-apology. He apologizes for "insulting word choices," not the content of what he said. Thus he has only apologized for a peripheral matter, and not the truly objectionable core of it. If I call you a pederast, Rush, I can't apologize by saying "oh, sorry...I meant pedophile..."

2. It's not even in the vicinity of the truth to say that that moron "illustrates" [sic] "the absurd with absurdity." What he does is: he bullshits. His job is to vent, fan the flames of hatred, irrationality and partisan tribalism, and make the worse arguments seem like the better. He spews free-associative nonsense calibrated to appeal to the basest sentiments of the most ignorant subset of the population. He gets to feel important and make wads of cash while undermining the very rationality, civility and mutual respect that make democracy possible.

Were we to use Rushian reasoning, we'd call him a mercenary terrorist, paid to harm America.

Though, come to think of it, that's nowhere near as far from the truth as calling someone testifying about insurance and contraception a "slut"...

3. As far as "discussing personal sexual recreational activities before Congress"... Well, uh, see, your guys started it. Ms. Fluke was just responding. Limbaugh didn't have any problem with folks getting up and discussing that stuff before...when they were all (a) male and (b) against it. But, of course, he thrives on the double standard.

4. Oh, and: did insurance pay for that massive bottle of poke you got busted with? 'Cause then, by your own "reasoning," you got paid to have sex. And, again, by your own definition, you know what that makes you, right?

What a flamboyant moron.
Hoopocalypse 2012, Part Deux
Carolina 88, Duke 70

Ah, Hansbrough Indoor of my favorite venues for the Heels to play. There's just a warm feeling you get there...a warm, sweaty, fetid feeling... But the Heels have taken 5 of the last 7 there, so you won't hear me complaining about the place...

It wasn't even as close as the score indicates. If Roy'd have put the pedal to the metal, it'd have been really ugly. But best to secure the win, obviously.

I'll give this to the Devils, they made their run--19-7 at one point--and my certainty about the victory dimmed--though just a tad, and for just a moment.

The officiating was typical ACC randomness. A couple of touch fouls on Zeller, and no call on a blatant shove by Mason Plumlee (Miles was the shover last time) that would have fouled him out. But Henson got away with a couple, and it seemed to me that the puzzling calls more-or-less balanced out.

Kelly, of course, was flop, flop, flopping away for a good bit of the game.

Apparently, just before tip-off, the d00kies played highlights of their nominal victory at the DES from February, and Kendall thought that was disrespectful. He called a quick huddle and said that he wanted to make a statement. Which they then proceeded to do, with a 22-5 run from the get-go.

This game was no surprise, really...except insofar as things finally gelled. They're a better team than Duke...but the question is: can they be a better team than Kentucky? Until now they haven't been.

Finally, the Heels seemed to be trying something new with their 3-point defense, and it looked great. I'm wondering whether Roy adjusted in response to the recent KenPom numbers.

Anyway, an awesome night of hoops.

Nice work Heels!

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Carolina 48, d00k 24 at the Half

...and the score makes it look closer than it has really been.
Hoopocalypse 2012, Part Deux

7 pm EST

Go Tar Heels!

Flopping really ought to be called d00king
How Rush Limbaugh Thinks

In Syria "It's Not a War, It's a Massacre"


And the opportunity costs of the Iraq adventure continue to multiply...

(via Reddit)

Friday, March 02, 2012

Arpaio to Release Results of Inquiry Into Obama's Birth Certificate


Stop! Stop! You guys are freaking killing me! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

I'm sure you guys are all as excited to hear what Sheriff Joe "I Like Looking At Inmates In Pink Jumpsuits" Arpaio as figgered out.

I regret only that I am insufficiently articulate to fully express my contempt and disdain for this inconsequential Arpaio twit/fraud...
Breitbart Trutherism
Self-Referential Crazy


ZOMFG! That didn't take long. Apparently Obama had Breitbart killed.

I can't believe I didn't think of that. I've got to admit that I didn't see this one coming. I thought I had a fairly fine-tuned sense of this sort of thing, and fancy myself pretty good at predicting the next step the crazies will take. But I sure did miss this one.

Oh, and do check out the twit in the video clip. He makes even less sense than Limbaugh. Seriously, I so automatically tune out this kind of word salad that at first I didn't realize how hilarious it was. You can't listen to too much of it, though, or it'll give you a headache. Reminds me very much of a tape of a paranoid schizophrenic I heard in my undergrad psych class--complex, paranoid, largely free-associative fantasies. The poor guy's affected intonations and vocal mannerisms are almost too embarrassing to listen to--though for my money the most embarrassing parts are those in which he keeps referencing "the ides of March", and referring to Shakespeare as if he expects us to be impressed by his knowledge of history and literature we all read in ninth grade. So pathetic I couldn't even really get any pleasure from looking down on him...I mean, dang...I feel cheated...
Rush Limbaugh Deserves a Punch in the Face
Also, He May Be the Stupidest Human on Earth

So, he called someone a "slut" for having testified about contraception.

A couple of points:

1. Limbaugh is a piece of shit and a coward. He'd never say this sort of thing to someone's face.

2. He deserves a punch in the mouth, and that's exactly what he'd get in a civilized society. Conservatives often like to whine and pule about our degenerate society, and wax poetic about the virtues of the halcyon, fictional 50's...but if those days were anything at all like conservatives like to represent them, a comment like Limbaugh's would be met with a punch in the head. And--some things don't change--he still deserves it, even if, sadly, he's unlikely to get it. O tempora! O mores....

3. But don't miss the fact that Limbaugh's "logic" is in fine form in this case. The following is largely representative of the kind of--and here I use the term loosely--"thinking" that one gets non-stop from that piece of shit:
  "What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic] who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex -- what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She's having so much sex she can't afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex."
 Right. So noting that your insurance should cover contraception means that you are having a lot of sex, and, of course, sex is evil. And by some wild leap it is concluded that this is...what? Sex with lots of different people? And...outside of the holy bounds of matrimony, of course. And all of this is then, abracadabra, equivalent to prostitution, because...though you are paying for the's like being paid for sex.

That free-associative nonsense is what Limbaugh gets paid to do; it's perfectly representative of the kind of bullshit he spews out for hours a day. State a fact, free associate, free associate, lunge for a laughably implausible conclusion, add some irrelevant shit, free associate, then a miracle happens, liberals suck!

Dude has the logical acumen of a somewhat below-average stoat.

Maybe this would be the place to just mention that Limbaugh was, as you might recall, found with a huge stash of Viagra on his way back from the Dominican Republic with a bunch of guys. One might also mention that the DR is apparently a big destination for "sex tourism." We don't need some free associative fantasy here to ridicule Rush. The facts, in this case, speak for themselves.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Marshall Breaks Cota's Single-Season Assist Record

Last night.

Marshall is just flat-out amazing, and it's been pure pleasure watching him this last year.

But, I've been reminded, this also gives us a natural opportunity to remind ourselves how pure-d awesome Easy Ed was. Here ya go!

One of the many great things about Carolina hoops, as I'm sure you realize, is that it is, at or about its best, just ridiculously fun to watch, and it's the emphasis on top-notch, pass-first point guards that makes that so. Well, ok. And the up-tempo style. Oh, and the athleticism. And the great kids, of course. And...well, I could go on and on...
Jason King: Ten Leaps of Faith

1. Ohio State will regroup. There is too much talent and leadership among this group to write the Buckeyes off.
2. North Carolina will beat Duke and win the ACC title. If Miami and Florida State can win in Durham, the Tar Heels can, too.
3. Thomas Robinson will edge Anthony Davis for the Wooden Award. And rightfully so.
4. At least two schools from non-Big Six conferences will make the Elite Eight, and one of them will be Wichita State.
5. At least one No. 14 seed will win its first-round game. As of Tuesday, Joe Lunardi had the matchups as Baylor versus Nevada, Georgetown versus Belmont, Michigan versus Akron and Marquette versus Middle Tennessee State. Out of those matchups, Georgetown-Belmont catches my eye. The Hoyas have been bad in the NCAA tournament lately and, don't forget, the Bruins almost upset Duke in Durham at the beginning of the season.
6. The winner of Saturday's West Virginia-South Florida game will receive an NCAA tournament berth. The loser will not.
7. Butler will win the Horizon League tournament and be back in the Big Dance.
8. Syracuse will not make the Final Four.
9. Kentucky will not win the national championship.
10. North Carolina will.

Go You Tar Heels!
"Kill Romney"


So, after four years of representing Obama as an alien agent sent to destroy the U.S., as a terrorist, a radical leftist, egad-a-Muslim, and even the Antichrist...after putting a bunch of premises in place that are clearly intended to support the conclusion that it would be a good thing if something, y'know, happened to that fellow in the White House...

Some of our wingnutty friends are now suggesting...what? That Dems are going to try to kill Mitt?

Those folks over across the aisle, they've gone batshit crazy.

Of course it doesn't help that some anonymous alleged Dem strategist allegedly used the term "kill Romney", though what such a person--if they exist--meant by that--if they actually said it--God only knows. It seems to have either been a joke, or to have meant attack Romney personally.

For chrissake remember: we fight by different rules--not only morally, but in terms of how our actions will be represented and judged by the media and the public. They're expected to be crazy, and they and their minions can get away with lots and lots of craziness. Some third-string Democratic wannabe/hanger-on uses a stupid locution and that is going to count heavily against the good guys. Obama should come down on whoever that person was--assuming he exists, and assuming he can be identified--like the fist of God. By which, note, I do not mean that he should literally physically smash the person, nor afflict him with sores, nor do him any actual harm. Just so we're clear. Nor does that mean that I think that Obama is a god, nor God, nor any deity-like nor supernatural thing. Nor that there should be actual fists involved. Etc.
Burnt Korans


Y'know, maybe those folks deserve the Taliban.

Scratch that.

I say: give as many people, particularly women and children, asylum as we can, and GTFO. Maybe we could have really taken care of business there if we'd have gone in full-blast and with a plan. Instead, the Bush administration diverted all our attention and resources to their disastrous Iraq adventure. Now...well, I think any window that might have existed is closed.

Not that it was ever going to be easy. But I don't think it was impossible.

Bush and Cheney destroyed everything they touched.