Archive

  • There's A Word For This...

    Man, I don't know what it is with this President. It's just like flip : In 2001, Vice President Dick Cheney said, "Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it cannot be the basis of a sound energy policy." Also that year, Ari Fleischer, then Mr. Bush's press secretary, responded to a question about reducing American energy consumption by saying "that's a big no." "The president believes that it's an American way of life," Mr. Fleischer said. And flop : With fears mounting that high energy costs will crimp economic growth, President Bush called on Americans yesterday to conserve gasoline by driving less. He also issued a directive for all federal agencies to cut their own energy use and to encourage employees to use public transportation. "We can all pitch in," Mr. Bush said. "People just need to recognize that the storms have caused disruption," he added, and that if Americans are able to avoid going "on a trip that's not essential, that would be helpful." Nice to see him...
  • Conking Kunkel

    Low Culture's parody of the insufferably pedantic, unbearably long-winded, and awkwardly erudite interview with Ben Kunkel on Why Modern Males Suffer From Torpor And Flaccid Personalities is pitch-perfect. The article, meant to be a Q&A with profound self-help implications, is so strangely bad as to be most interesting as a fugitive from good editorial judgment. The interviewer, Rebecca Traister, is single, dissatisfied, and totally bewildered by the lack of literary-caliber lovers populating her nightlife. So she looks up a Hot Young Novelist who just published a book about a directionless dude to provide her with answers. Kunkel, the writer in question, takes the opportunity to sound like an academic journal trying, and failing, to publish an article that'd work for popular consumption. So we get "ennui", expenditures of "libidinal energy", and references to Hannah Arendt's theory of bureaucratization. Meanwhile, back on some planet that makes sense to me, rehashing old concerns...
  • School Integration

    Today's LA Times rightly laments that LA Unified is home to quite a few teachers, supervisors, and program directors who're totally incompetent at teaching math: For instance, middle school teachers are erroneously taught that fraction division is repeated subtraction. This makes sense only for special examples such as 3/4 divided by 1/4 . In this case, 3/4 may be decreased by 1/4 a total of three times, until nothing is left, and the quotient is indeed 3. Understanding division as repeated subtraction, however, is nonsensical for a problem like 1/4 divided by 2/3 because 2/3 cannot be subtracted from 1/4 even once. No wonder students have trouble with fractions in high school. District "pacing plans" are another example. These tell teachers the order in which they should teach topics for each math class. Some of the plans hinder rather than promote understanding. One draft plan called for 10th-grade geometry teachers to teach the so-called distance formula before the Pythagorean...
  • My Day in DC

    Sorry I've been so out of touch this afternoon, was at a Heritage event on The Lessons of the Roman Empire for America Today. Fairly banal stuff, save for a puzzling assertion that the ancient Romans only worked two days a year to pay taxes (ever heard of tribute ?) and a peculiar, though I guess standard for Heritage, insistence that Rome possessed a remarkably lean and efficient civil bureaucracy that only began bloating as their empire crumbled. So there ya go -- bloated, inefficient bureaucracies are the harbingers of doom, which makes Bush, Rumsfeld, Chertoff and Brown the four horsemen of America's apocalypse. Best question of the day, "Why did the West create such a brilliant Empire as Rome while all the East could furnish was Genghis Khan?" Uh, ok . The speaker's answer, for those interested, is that the West learned from Greece and Khan didn't. Praise Jupiter! Once the bizarro history lesson wrapped up, I went out to the lobby, got a bunch of folks mad at me for being an anti...
  • All Hail Our New Dolphinic Overlords

    We were never quite able to give them friggin' laser beams , but the toxic dart guns should still do some damage: Armed dolphins, trained by the US military to shoot terrorists and pinpoint spies underwater, may be missing in the Gulf of Mexico. Experts who have studied the US navy's cetacean training exercises claim the 36 mammals could be carrying 'toxic dart' guns. Divers and surfers risk attack, they claim, from a species considered to be among the planet's smartest. The US navy admits it has been training dolphins for military purposes, but has refused to confirm that any are missing. One wonders exactly which underwater terrorists they were targeting -- who knew al-Qaeda had gone amphibious? The GWOT is sounding more like a GI Joe cartoon every day...
  • Urban Navigation

    I am directionally-challenged. It's always been so. When driving new places, I spend a lot of time rolling down the window and begging strangers for help (I'm not one of those guys afraid to plead, if anything, I'm too eager, liable to bug pedestrians for confirmation long before I'm lost), which is fine. But since I moved to DC, challenged has transformed into incapable. We're no longer talking directions, we're talking ways, as in I'm constantly walking/metroing/heading the wrong way. Whatever I think is up is down, whichever side I judge west invariably turns out to be east, when I start strolling home I'm always aimed at the next town. You'd expect me to get this right about half the time, but I don't. I almost never get it right. It's bizarre.
  • If a Protest Happens in DC ...

    Posted by Nicholas Beaudrot of Electoral Math ... but the press doesn't cover it , does it really matter? I think that the answer is yes. Taking a historical view, mostly by looking at the Vietnam War and its opposition, modern anti-war forces are significantly more successful in influencing public opinion.
  • Ask a Werewolf: Iraq and Terrorism

    By Neil the Ethical Werewolf Sometimes werewolves get letters from Democratic Senators. Other times, they don't. The following is a letter I didn't get, but the answer, below the fold, is something I did write. Dear Werewolf, I'd like to earn some respect from the Democratic base for criticizing Bush's war in a way that other Senators haven't. However, I don't have the guts to call for withdrawal from Iraq, and I want my criticism to be something that most Americans already agree with. What should I say? --No Guts, Some Glory (D-Somewhere)
  • Don't Know Much About History: Elite Future Mommies

    By Pepper of the Daily Pepper The New York Times profiled young women with bright futures, all going to Ivy League colleges. Normally, college freshmen have no idea what they want to do with their lives, but these women know exactly what they want. They want to be full-time mothers. At Yale and other top colleges, women are being groomed to take their place in an ever more diverse professional elite. It is almost taken for granted that, just as they make up half the students at these institutions, they will move into leadership roles on an equal basis with their male classmates. There is just one problem with this scenario: many of these women say that is not what they want. Not that there's anything wrong with that (said with a dash of "Seinfeld"). Being a parent is rewarding for many people, but these women are making dangerous assumptions that are limiting their options AND the options of their children. List of said assumptions after the jump ...
  • Get Your Peace On

    Shakes here… In case you hadn’t heard, there was a bit of commotion in DC this weekend, as 500,000 (C-SPAN estimate, via Truthout ) pro-peace and/or anti-war protestors (or, approximately 37 nutzoid radicals, if you read most mainstream media coverage) converged to send a message to the Photo Op in Chief.

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