Saturday, May 28, 2011

Earthquake Insanity

The Associated Press: 7 experts to be tried over 2009 Italy quake: "ROME (AP) — Seven scientists and other experts were indicted on manslaughter charges Wednesday for allegedly failing to sufficiently warn residents before a devastating earthquake that killed more than 300 people in central Italy in 2009."

Tweet of the day - Vacation Edition

Twitter / @Seth MacFarlane: Always do thorough travel ...: "Always do thorough travel research before a vacation. Had to cancel my weekend trip to Pangaea."

Geekery - How to pick that Software License

How to choose a license for your own work - GNU Project - Free Software Foundation (FSF): "People often ask us what license we recommend they use for their project. We've written about this publicly before, but the information has been scattered around between different essays, FAQ entries, and license commentaries. This article collects all that information into a single source, to make it easier for people to follow and refer back to.

The recommendations below are focused on licensing a work that you create—whether that's a modification of an existing work, or a new original work. These recommendations do not address the issue of combining existing material under different licenses. If you're looking for help with that, please check our license FAQ."

On Cutting Taxes as a method of job creation

The Republican Job Creators Myth | Crooks and Liars: "Those tax cuts passed in 2001 amid big promises about what they would do for the economy. What followed? The decade with the slowest average annual growth since World War II. Amazingly, that statement is true even if you forget about the Great Recession and simply look at 2001-7...

Is there good evidence the tax cuts persuaded more people to join the work force (because they would be able to keep more of their income)? Not really. The labor-force participation rate fell in the years after 2001 and has never again approached its record in the year 2000.

Is there evidence that the tax cuts led to a lot of entrepreneurship and innovation? Again, no. The rate at which start-up businesses created jobs fell during the past decade."

With Apologies to my MBA holding Friends

Did Megan McArdle Really Graduate from a Business School? - Grasping Reality with a Flexible Trunk: "The point of an MBA is to maximize the return on a limited skill set, not to expand that skill set."

On The Arts

Why “The Arts” Matter | mashrabiyya: "It has become so easy to dismiss the arts, to brush them aside with a flick of the wrist. So easy, in fact, that even Bill Maher made the case for defunding the NEA. For Maher, the NEA doesn’t save lives, doesn’t accomplish anything tangible, like say the EPA, and is thus expendable. This mentality of the “the arts don’t matter, they aren’t important, they don’t contribute or have an economic incentive to exist” is rampant in this country. Libraries close without a blink of a community’s eye. Universities slash humanities budgets but never touch athletics. Generations of parents scoff at the idea of an English or Women’s Studies major, pushing their children to major in computers or business instead. Universities close Latin, Classics, and Area Studies programs (to name only a few of the affected liberal arts) without any protest."

Friday, May 27, 2011

On The Relative Impotence of Texas Governors

Texas Politics - The Executive Branch: "As discussions in the 2000 national election revealed, the design of the Texas Constitution denies the governor the opportunity to exercise powers held by governors in many other states. Unlike the U.S. President, who with Senate approval appoints his cabinet, the Texas Governor must share executive power with other executive officers. But despite having fewer resources and more limitations, modern governors can be successful in implementing their priorities and policies."

Rick Perry is a prince indeed

Office of the Governor Rick Perry - [Press Release] What Others Are Saying About Sonogram Legislation…: "'The environment in Texas has significantly improved for women and babies with the legislature's courageous action on prescribing sonograms for women in crisis pregnancies,' Ann Hettinger, State Director of Concerned Women for America of Texas said. 'Our thanks go to Sen. Patrick, Rep. Miller and Gov. Perry for their diligent efforts to make this happen.'"

On Why Redistricting should not be done by politicians

Illinois Dems eye sweeping gains with new map - Alex Isenstadt -
"In an astonishing display of line-drawing power, Democrats unveiled a redistricting proposal Friday that forces at least five Republicans into match-ups with other incumbents and thrusts others into solidly Democratic districts. While GOP officials said they were scrambling to determine the damage the potential lines would have, they acknowledged that the new map would take a hammer to the state’s Republican delegation."

This kind of horseshit is just as wrong when Democrats do it as when Republicans do it.

Rep. Graves questions Obama's autopen signing of Patriot Act extension - The Hill's Blog Briefing Room

Rep. Graves questions Obama's autopen signing of Patriot Act extension - The Hill's Blog Briefing Room

The latest stupidity ...

In Praise of Miley Cyrus

Yglesias » Miley Cyrus Delivers For LGBT Equality: "I think we should take the Miley Cyrus demographic more seriously than that. Celebrities risk alienating fans if they wade into partisan politics. But Cyrus knows perfectly well that among her core audience of young people, combatting anti-gay bigotry isn’t a divisive issue. For younger Americans, it’s just common sense. Whether or not her fans are able to vote in the 2012 election, they’ll be voting in 2014 or 2016 or 2018 and so forth for decades. And the fact of the matter is that there are a lot of politicians out there right now amassing a record on LGBT equity that horrifies the younger generation. That’s a big deal."

A Holiday we can all share

Zandar Versus The Stupid: Westboro's Epic Fail Chapter 2: "People here are raw in the face of so much loss. One of these days Westboro will pull the wrong chain and get a much deserved butt kicking. When it happens, they can hardly pretend to be surprised. Whatever day that is, I will mark it as a personal holiday and celebrate it every day for the rest of my life, and I'm not kidding. "

Ted Nugent Wrong, Sun Rises In East

Ted Nugent Gets The Facts Wrong | Media Matters for America: "When National Rifle Association (NRA) board member Ted Nugent wasn't telling CNN host Piers Morgan to 'kiss my ass' during an interview last week he decided to make his point with numbers. The problem with Nugent's numbers is that they are wrong."

A Sane IP Suit

PayPal sues Google over mobile plans, trade secrets | ZDNet:
"Well that didn’t take long. Just hours after Google made its mobile payment plans public eBay’s PayPal unit sued the search giant and two key executives.

The reason—the two Google executives that were the headliners at the company’s press conference—were PayPal employees up until recently. PayPal alleges that the executives—Osama Bedier and Stephanie Tilcnius—stole trade secrets that led to Google Wallet."

I say that this is sane because it is a straighforward trade secret case and not some ginned up patent fight (although goodness knows there will be some of that too)

I thought that John Edwards was a smart man

John Edwards Meets Privately with Bunny Mellon, Potential Witness in Cover Up Case - The Note:
"ABC's James Hill reports: John Edwards, while facing looming criminal indictment, spent the afternoon in Upperville, Virginia, visiting one of the key players in the alleged scheme to cover-up his affair. "

Apparently not. This is the way that you end up in jail.

Just not that smart

The power of faith : Pharyngula: "Ralph Lang, 63, told a Madison police officer at the Motel 6, 1754 Thierer Road, that he had a gun 'to lay out abortionists because they are killing babies,' according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court.

Lang said he planned on shooting the clinic's doctor 'right in the head,' according to the complaint. Asked if he planned to shoot just the doctor or nurses, too, Lang replied he wished he 'could line them up all in a row, get a machine gun, and mow them all down,' the complaint said."

On Scalia's Strawman

More Debunking of Scalia's Dissent : Dispatches from the Culture Wars: "Not anymore. It's true that most state and federal prisons had extensive collections of free weights and weight machines through the 1980s, and that inmates could spend significant portions of their days bulking up. But that all changed around 20 years ago. As stories about prison gyms spread in popular culture, they became an increasing source of public concern. Some shared Scalia's worry that muscle-bound ex-cons would be even more dangerous after their release, and legislators across the country responded. In 1996, an amendment to an appropriations bill expressly prohibited the federal Bureau of Prisons from purchasing 'training equipment for boxing, wrestling, judo, karate, or other martial art, or any bodybuilding or weightlifting equipment of any sort.' Many states, including California, made the same decision, either by statute or policy."

Kirk Cameron on Stephen Hawking

Stay classy, Kirk! : Pharyngula:
"To say anything negative about Stephen Hawking is like bullying a blind man. He has an unfair disadvantage, and that gives him a free pass on some of his absurd ideas."

It must be Stupid Day today.

How to Screw up the war on drugs more

Krauthammer Has An Interesting Parsing

What Obama Did to Israel - Charles Krauthammer - National Review Online:
"For two and a half years, the Obama administration has refused to recognize and reaffirm these assurances. Then last week in his State Department speech, President Obama definitively trashed them. He declared that the Arab-Israeli conflict should indeed be resolved along “the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.”
Nothing new here, said Obama three days later. “By definition, it means that the parties themselves — Israelis and Palestinians — will negotiate a border that is different” from 1967.

It means nothing of the sort. “Mutually” means both parties have to agree. And if one side doesn’t? Then, by definition, you’re back to the 1967 line"

This has to be the stupidest parsing of what Obama said that I have seen in the last week. I know that Krauthammer is not a stupid person so I am led to the conclusion that he is simply lying.

On Guinness Taste Tests

It's SCIENCE! : Pharyngula: "The results of the Guinness-tasting t-test were clear. Pints consumed in Ireland had a mean GOES score of 74, compared with a score of 57 in pubs outside Ireland. While Ireland may not necessarily keep the best stuff to itself, the science is clear: Guinness tastes better over here."

Concerts not to bother with

John Stamos to Join Beach Boys for Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Concert - Christian Newswire: "ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., May 26, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ -- The Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network is delighted to announce that John Stamos will be joining The Beach Boys for the second annual Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Concert in Kettering, Ohio (near Dayton), Sunday, June 12th."

On Prison Sentences

Tim Rutten: California's prison overcrowding problem - Los Angeles Times: "America generally — and California in particular — simply sends too many people to prison for too long relative to their offenses."

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Who Would Your Country Draft?

Booman Tribune ~ What If... ?: "Here's an interesting question, I think. What if people selected their leaders more like sports clubs pick their rosters, or even like major corporations pick their CEO's? Many of the best soccer players in the English Premier League come from other countries. The same is true of Major League Baseball. The country needs a president; the Mariners need a shortstop. Obviously there are issues of loyalty, national pride, etc., that preclude this from happening in real life. But I wonder, how many countries would applaud it if Bill Clinton, for example, took over for whatever hapless idiot has been running things into the ground?"

Tim Pawlenty wants to be president

Twitter / @Tim Pawlenty: @BarackObama sorry to inte ...: "
@BarackObama sorry to interrupt the European pub crawl, but what was your Medicare plan?"
But he is showing what an obnoxious asshole he can be instead.
Tweet FAIL.

Not my kind of restaurant

'No speak English. No service' sign leads to Reedy Creek Diner restaurant's sales TRIPLING | Mail Online: "Some chefs spend their lifetimes unsuccessfully slogging away to improve business.

But all it took for Reedy Creek Diner chef Greg Simons in Lexington, North Carolina, was to put up a controversial language sign and he’s seen his sales treble.

Mr Simons put up the ‘No speak English. No service’ sign in March and says he’s received great support - with some people asking for souvenir copies to take home ."

A little Racist Interlude

White men in Atlanta, why are you so obsessed with Asian women? - Topix:
"I mean wtf is wrong with you? Everywhere I go I see these little hideous kid looking Asian women trotting behind some white guy. I mean what! You can't even marry your own women....are you that insecure. Oh I get it, we American women are too difficult now. Oh please get over your insecurities."

And never forget the misogyny that comes out in the other comments.

I really worry about our country sometimes.

McCain != Obama

To all of my "there are no differences between the two parties" friends I would offer this list of things that I think would realistically be different had John McCain become President in 2008.

  • No Health Insurance reform. You might not like ACA but it is certainly better than nothing
  • GM would likely not exist in a recognizable form
  • Chrysler would likely not exist in a recognizable form
  • We would quite possibly be at war with Iraq.
  • Osama bin Laden would still be hiding out in Pakistan.
  • Unemployment would be in excess of 12% (McCain was against the stimulus and while it was not enough it was better than nothing)
  • DADT would still be in effect
Are there things that have happened or continued to happen that I would like to be different? You bet. Here are a couple
  • Gitmo is still open
  • Patriot Act is still in effect
  • Wall Street seems to have gotten a pass on the financial crisis
  • DOMA still is in effect
  • Unemployment is far too high
So yes, I agree with you that President Obama does suck in some important ways. He does suck FAR LESS than a reasonably imagined President McCain and to pretend otherwise is just being willfully blind to reality.

Jobs Jobs Jobs - Yeah Right

Eric Cantor || Majority Leader || House Republican Plan for American Job Creators: "Increase American competitiveness to spur investment and create more American jobs by streamlining the tax code and lowering the tax rate for businesses and individuals including small business owners to no more than 25%."

Yglesias on the special relationship between Israel and the USA

Yglesias » Column: “Friends Without Benefits”: "Protecting Israel is a special project taken on by the United States. The reasons may be good and bad, but it’s a burden we undertake. Israel does us no favors and is no use to us. Recognizing that fact hardly solves the decades-long Arab-Israeli conflict, but it ought to be the starting point for what Americans should debate–not Israel’s policy toward its Palestinian subjects but America’s policy toward Israel."

Someone explain to me how this is not evil

House passes measure to ban funds for teaching abortion techniques in health centers - The Washington Post: "The House has passed legislation that would bar teaching health centers that receive federal funds under the new health care act from using the money to teach abortion techniques.

Rep. Virginia Foxx, the sponsor of the measure, says she wants to make it “crystal clear” that taxpayer money is not being used to train health care providers to perform abortions."

WI anti-union law struck down

Judge strikes down Walker's collective bargaining law: "Dane County Judge MaryAnn Sumi issued a permanent injunction against the law Thursday morning. This means the law is effectively dead until the Wisconsin Supreme Court acts on the law."

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A spinning class from Mike Murphy

NY-26: Voters 1, Courageousness 0 | Swampland: "That is no surprise. The Ryan plan is a serious attempt to the face the crippling fiscal crisis our entitlement spending is certain to create. It is a courageous plan. Which, as usual in politics, is exactly the problem. If the voters wanted an adult approach to entitlement spending, we wouldn’t have an entitlement spending crisis in the first place. Hence the current situation. Politically, fixing entitlement spending is like trying to strangle a large porcupine with your bare hands; painful, bloody and usually unsuccessful."

Comment of the day about Ed Schultz

MSNBC's Ed Schultz Calls Radio Host Laura Ingraham A 'Right Wing Slut' | TPMDC:
"So, call her a racist, inhumane sociopath then. Don't call her a name that's been used to insult women for generations.

You know, I think Herman Cain is crazy and despicable. Would that justify the use of a racial epitaph? No? So, why is it okay when it comes to women?"

Other than the fact that the correct word is epithet I think that this is the correct viewpoint on the topic.

translation please?

Shilpa Shetty Biography | Full Issue: "A dear Bollywood singer who couldn’t get her feet in the doorway until her legs had grown prolonged enough, Shilpa Shetty was deserted by a displaying association when she was fifteen since she was usually 5’7″."

Ummm didn't Palin lose?

Palin Tribute Doc to Premiere | Talking Points Memo: "The Undefeated comes to a theater near you in June. The film is produced by Steve Bannon and crew, the team behind Generation Zero, a tea party favorite about the 2008 financial crisis."

Loughner mentally incompetent

Alleged Tucson shooter ruled incompetent to stand trial | TPM News Pages:
"TUCSON, Arizona (Reuters) - Shooting rampage suspect Jared Loughner is not mentally competent to stand trial on charges he killed six people and wounded Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday."

Not exactly a large shock. Will be interesting to see the reactions to this.

My new least favorite insect

Top 10 - 2011 | International Institute for Species Exploration: "How it made the Top 10: This new species of cockroach exhibits unusual morphology. It has legs that are highly modified for jumping. Prior to its discovery jumping cockroaches were only known from the Late Jurassic. This extant cockroach has jumping ability that is on par with grasshoppers. In addition to the leg modifications, it has hemispherical shaped eyes that protrude from the sides of the head instead of kidney shaped and the antennae have an additional fixation point to help stabilize them during jumping."

On Powerpoint

Some thoughts on Budgets

TaxVox » Blog Archive » Six Think Tanks Tackle the Budget Deficit:
"Today, at the request of the Peterson Foundation, an ideologically diverse group of six think tanks proposed their long-term solutions to the federal deficit problem. Not surprisingly, they disagreed on most details. But the project reflected surprising consensus (though hardly unanimity) on a some big issues. Most important, four of the six aimed to hold federal spending two decades from now at around 23 percent or 24 percent of Gross Domestic Product. Similarly, four projected federal tax revenues at roughly the same level. This suggests a significant increase in taxes over today (and over the House-passed budget) and a big drop in deficits. "

The plans are in this document(pdf). I haven't had a chance to look through them yet but they should make for interesting reading.

Wherein Matt Yglesias' Intern is concerned about moral hazard

Yglesias » Helping Low Income Kids Go To College Without Discouraging Them From Finishing On Time:
"In either case, the moral hazard created by having a third-party payer for a student’s higher education would be mitigated since the financial burden of education gradually would be shifted from the state to the individual."

Moral hazard has no place in a discussion about public education. This is every bit as stupid as the argument that people who are not ill will see the doctor willy nilly if they are not paying for it. There is a SMALL number of folks to which it would apply but you do not make policy that assumes they are the majority when it is well known that this is simply not the case.

Better interns please.

Rob Woodall might not be an idiot

But he sure does say things that idiots would say.

On structural deficits

CHART: Bush Policies Dominant Cause Of National Debt | TPMDC: "The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has updated and refined a widely cited chart, laying out the origins of the country's current fiscal trajectory. And as before, the lion's share of the problem comes from ongoing George W. Bush-era policies -- particularly deficit-financed tax cuts, which eliminated Clinton-era surpluses and left the Treasury poised for a huge hit when the financial crisis and economic downturn further eroded federal revenues."

I never liked "Big Ed"

MSNBC's Ed Schultz Calls Radio Host Laura Ingraham A 'Right Wing Slut' | TPMDC:
"MSNBC host Ed Schultz is known for his hyperbolic attacks on Republicans but it looks like he may have crossed the line on his show yesterday by labeling Laura Ingraham a 'right wing slut.'"

Ed Shultz is an obnoxious blowhard. I have no love for him in the slightest even though he is supposedly on the same side of most political issues as I am. An apology and a suspension are quite in order for this stupidity.

Delusions about The Giffords Shooting - The Power of 1 - Giffords Event: "Dave Weiss aka Dr. LeMole (Rep Giffords Arizona Dr) isnt a Doctor at all, he just plays one on your tv. Dave is a partner in a film, video, and CGI media production company located in Arizona called Radian Helix media. Its owned by Brandan Pittman (the person you see when you look at the Jared Lee Loughner mug shot) In Daves FaceBook friends list we find people that look alike and share the same genetic facial landmarks as do individuals either living or dead on the news. Here are just a few of the people you can find there:"

Hans von Spakovsky foams at the mouth

Supreme Court crime wave--Hans von Spakovsky - "It's not often that the murder, rape and assault of American citizens can be tied directly to a court decision. But that's the foreseeable consequence of the Supreme Court's outrageous ruling on Monday in Brown v. Plata."

Fuckwittage: John LaBruzzo wants to ban all abortions

Louisiana House committee approves ban on abortions | "Rep. John LaBruzzo, R-Metairie, says his House Bill 587 would threaten the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling by prompting lawsuits from pro-choice groups. The measure would expand the crime of feticide to include fetuses that are voluntarily aborted."

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Comment of the day at Pharyngula

Godless goals are progressive goals : Pharyngula: "Nobody actually likes surgery, but appendectomies need to be available for people who need them, promptly--no waiting period, no ultrasound, because with appendicitis, time matters. And if someone wants an appendectomy, obviously they have a good reason and nobody tries to stick their nose in, demanding you prove you've really *thought* about whether to have this serious, permanent alteration to your body.
All of which differs from abortion only in that men can get appendicitis."

John Cole on Naps

Balloon Juice » Open Thread: "Reasonably sure I was born feeling that way about naptime (and I’m sure there is a breastfeeding quip in there somewhere, but this is a classy joint and I will leave that to Punchy or JSF), then grew out of it for a few years, but now I am back to firmly believing naptime is the best part of the day."

Say It Ain't So Joe

3 Sheriffs In Joe Arpaio Office Arrested For Human Smuggling, Drugs | Oliver Willis: "An officer at the scene where one of the warrants was served confirmed to a 12 News reporter that the operation involved a Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputy suspected of smuggling drugs or humans."

Freedom is not a zero sum game

Report: Whites Think Less Bias Against Blacks Comes At Their Expense | TPMDC:
"It's a phenomenon that any observer of modern U.S. politics senses, but now we have a study documenting it: Despite all the evidence to the contrary, white Americans believe that African Americans' social progress in society is coming at their expense."

But privilege is. I am a white middle aged male. I am approximately as privileged in this society as it is possible to be. It will not hurt me to not have this level of privilege. Anyone that whines about loss of privilege needs to look in the mirror.

I blog because I am not thoughtful-er

Pearls Before Swine

On Weather Extremes

Zandar Versus The Stupid: Extreme Chaos: Twisted Sister City: "When we see 100-year tornadoes coming along every five years, when we see 100-year floods coming along every ten years, when we see 100-year wildfires come along every couple of years, when we see 100-year blizzards come along in months like April and May, there's a problem. There's too much energy in the system. It's like driving on a wobbly tire faster and faster. The more energy you put into spinning it, the more energy you add to the system, the more pronounced and extreme the wobbling gets, until the wheel or the axle are damaged and/or break completely."

Some NHL Thoughts | Elliotte Friedman | Canadian division could get a push, plus 30 thoughts: "Yes, there will be a suggestion to split the league into three 10-team conferences going across North America. But, there will be other proposals, too. How about a realignment among North/South lines? Don't be surprised if some U.S./Western Canadian teams push for an All-Canada Division."

Satoshi Kanazawa was never that swift

The power of female choice: Fat chicks get laid more | Psychology Today: "When a man propositions a woman, she can respond in one of two ways; she can say “yes” or she can say “no.” When a woman propositions a man, he can also respond in one of two ways; he can say “yes” or he can say “yes, please.” He has no realistic choice to say no. Men may not be saying “yes, please” to overweight and obese women, but Kaneshiro et al.’s study clearly suggests that they are definitely saying “yes.”"

Eric Cantor may not be a Jackass

HEARTLESS: As Cantor's tornado comments show, that's the word for today's Republicans | Crooks and Liars:
"House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Monday that if Congress passes an emergency spending bill to help Missouri’s tornado victims, the extra money will have to be cut from somewhere else.

But he sure says the kinds of things that one would say.

“If there is support for a supplemental, it would be accompanied by support for having pay-fors to that supplemental,” Mr. Cantor, Virginia Republican, told reporters at the Capitol. The term “pay-fors” is used by lawmakers to signal cuts or tax increases used to pay for new spending."

Pete DeGraaf May not be an asshole

ThinkProgress » Kansas Lawmaker Says Women Should Plan Ahead For Rape: ‘I Have A Spare Tire’:
"However, one pro-choice Republican, state Rep. Barbara Bollier, feared that Republicans were cutting off “a way for women to cover the cost of terminating pregnancies” — particularly when they’re unintended. During the House debate, she “questioned whether women would buy abortion-only policies long before they have crisis or unwanted pregnancies or are rape victims.” But state Rep. Pete DeGraaf (R) was ready with a shocking retort. DeGraaf said women should plan ahead for situations such as rape because, after all, “I have a spare tire on my car“:"

But he certainly says things that assholes would say.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The ideal commute?

Daily Kos's Markos Moulitsas: I'm in Berkeley because it makes Bill O'Reilly cry : Local: In Berkeley: "What area of Berkeley is your new office in? Near Ashby BART, a couple of blocks from my house. I made it clear, when we decided to get an office, that if I had a real commute, I would never come in. My current commute is 1) I wake up, 2) I reach over the side of the bed, 3) I pick up my laptop, 4) I flip open the screen, 5) Squint for about 15 seconds as my eyes get used to the light, and 6) Presto! I'm at work. It's impossible to beat that commute. So anything more than a two-block walk was going to be problematic."