Archive

  • Before the Storm

    By Ezra A few months back, Chris Mooney, a New Orleans native, penned a scary and, I hope, totally wrong article on what'd happen if a category 4 or 5 hurricane engulfed New Orleans. To say the picture isn't pretty is an understatement. This'd give Hieronymus Bosch nightmares: A direct hit from a powerful hurricane on New Orleans could furnish perhaps the largest natural catastrophe ever experienced on U.S. soil. Some estimates suggest that well over 25,000 non-evacuees could die. Many more would be stranded, and successful evacuees would have nowhere to return to. Damages could run as high as $100 billion. In the wake of such a tragedy, some may even question the wisdom of trying to rebuild the city at all. The rest of his article was dedicated to what needed to be done in preparation. The recommendations, so far as I know, were not followed. Let's hope New Orleans gets a second chance.
  • Noblesse You First

    by Ezra I'm going to have to disagree with Amanda's post that Shakes references below. Amanda says : War is not possible unless you have internal class warfare. War is not possible unless the rich and powerful feel free to demand the lives of the common people be sacrificed with the same ease you lose a pawn in a game of chess. It wasn't always this way. JFK volunteered for service in World War II, was rejected due to his bad back, spent months strengthening it, and successfully reenlisted. His two brothers also served and Joe Kennedy, the oldest, was killed. George W. Bush's father fought to get his fighter's wings at age 18, succeeded, and became the youngest fighter pilot in the Navy. His son, of course, wasn't even the youngest fight pilot in the Texas/Alabama Air National Guard. Hell, he didn't even have the best attendance record in the Guard. There was a time when the children of the rich were expected to do more than others. Noblesse oblige , we called it. And it meant that...
  • Fortunate Sons Don’t Like Grieving Mothers

    Shakes here... Amanda Marcotte, commenting on the coincidence of listening to Sleater Kinney’s cover of “Fortunate Son” as she read Atrios’ post about Gov. Mitt Romney’s agitated discomfort with being asked if his sons were planning to enlist, notes that: Cindy Sheehan standing in the Texas heat outside of Bush's gorgeous, expensive and oh-so-comfortable ranch is a perfect symbol of [the class issues that allow war to happen]. War is not possible unless you have internal class warfare. War is not possible unless the rich and powerful feel free to demand the lives of the common people be sacrificed with the same ease you lose a pawn in a game of chess… I think that the reason that Bush won't come out of hiding and tell Cindy Sheehan the truth about why her son died in Iraq is because the honest answer is so fucking evil. Casey Sheehan died because he's not a fortunate son… [B]ut for a simple random accident of fate, he is the man cowering inside the mansion instead of the bereaved...
  • ID, UC, And U

    PZ on UC disallowing creationist science classes from counting towards admission requirements: This is something we have to deal with at universities all the time. We get transfer students, too, and we have to evaluate how their prior classwork corresponds to our requirements—after all, if they transfer to this university, and are planning to get a degree from this university, we're not going to give the degree to them because they met the standards of some other random university. Every year we get several students who want transfer credit from a community college or some other institution, and we review their class syllabus, look at the textbook used, ask whether it was a lab course or not, etc., and make decisions about whether it's good enough for UMM. Looking at those excerpts , there's no way we'd accept a course taught with that book here. If this lawsuit isn't laughed out of court, I know what I'm going to have to do: set up a mail-order university in my basement, offer...
  • Trippy

    Seth Stevenson on taking shrooms : One thing about interesting drugs (not boring drugs like cocaine or Vicodin) is that they can help you appreciate simple truths. Things you've been taking for granted. I mean, you look down at your hand, and the drugs say, "Wow, far out, there are bones inside my hand!" but then the sober, together voice in your head says, "Well, of course there are bones inside your hand, you doofus—you have a skeletal system to provide structure for your body," and then the drugs say, "No, dude— there are bones inside my hand! That is trippy !" And the thing is, both of you are right.
  • Darfur

    This is really horrible. There's nothing much I can say about it, but it's really, really horrible.
  • ID: Where Domino Theory Works

    By Neil the Ethical Werewolf A while ago, Matt Yglesias stepped back from his shamefully accommodationist position on Intelligent Design. I was originally confused by his stated reason for doing so -- "At any rate, if ExxonMobil, the American Beverage Association, and their ilk think it's worth lending financial support to this sort of nonsense, I can start to see why pushing back may be important." Why does it matter who's supporting the nonsense anyway? If fighting ID is a bad political strategy, it's a bad political strategy regardless of who's paying TechCentralStation to publish pro-ID nonsense. Now I think that Matt's list of TechCentralStation corporate contributors does, in fact, lead us to a good reason to fight back against the enemies of evolution. It's essential to demonstrate that the Reality-Based Community has the power to defend public education from right-wing manipulation. If the ID movement is able to show other conservative interest groups that confusing dull-...
  • Knocking Down Domino Theory

    By Ezra Robert Farley does a bang-up job of, well, banging up domino theory today, and I'm glad to see him doing it. From Ben Stein's insane editorials after Deep Throat revealed himself to Peggy Noonan's odd pivot at the end of the first chapter of her memoirs, the essential rightness of domino theory keeps popping up among right-wing "intellectuals" as proof of the left's basic naiveté and idiocy. It shouldn't. Domino theory is the sort of supratheory used as trump card by those who want to justify war when the conflict itself is unjustified. It also, helpfully, lets them argue for indefinite warfare, even when our continued presence would render our immediate objectives harder to attain and do enormous damage to us, our enemies, and all civilians unlucky enough to become collateral. That's the sort of theory that deserves extra-super-special scrutiny and domino theory, as it stands, doesn't hold up. The threat in domino theory, of course, was that American weakness anywhere would...
  • The Failing, Faltering Media

    By Ezra It's interesting that in a discussion where everyone agrees on much, the one thing no one disputes is that the press is blind, deaf, and dumb. In the ID debate, and particularly the paragraph Melissa excerpted below, the problem isn't bias, it's ignorance. The reporter is clearly trying to call ID a "mere" theory and then show that scientists reject it as "scientific" theory, but he's got the definitions all wrong, he's conflating the colloquial and the academic, and ending with incoherence. Policy reporting, in the contemporary press corps, is worse than bad. On an intellectual level, it's criminally negligent. During the 1994 Health Care Battle, polls showed that the American people knew less about Clinton's plan as time went on. So from the start, and through the press's blanket coverage, news consumers actually lost information. That's a staggering statistic if you think about it. When the fight was ending, polls were done on what sort of health care system Americans...
  • Salon-a-Thon: Media Bias

    Shakes here… Ezra tells me he’d like to hear my response to his Media Bias posts, so off I go… Mannion and Ezra are both right and wrong. Mannion, the observer, sees a press who had it in for Clinton, and Ezra, the wonk, sees a press who rightfully turned the stupid actions of a president into news stories that sell. They aren’t, as they first appear, contrasting theories of what happened. What’s missing is the connecting piece between the two that Shakes, the anthropologist, can’t help but see—human nature, that confounding and unshakable thing that makes a term like “media bias” not a theory, but an inevitable and intractable fact. The media are, in the end, just people, and people are not objective, even if the press is meant to be. It’s not only just possible, but likely, that the media covering Clinton, who, as noted in Ezra’s piece, were Clinton supporters to the man, were frustrated by a successful president who undermined his ability to effectively do his job because he couldn...

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