House Science Committee Democrats respond to a wingnut forward

August 1st, 2011 No comments

…Or at least what was, in essence, a wingnut forward. I am referring, of course, to Tom Coburns report on the NSF (“The National Science Foundation: Under the Microscope” ). Turns out (as most everyone who is actually involved in any sort of research, academic or otherwise, already knew) that the entire report is bullshit and full of misleading statements, unresearched claims, and outright lies.

Thankfully the Democrats in the House Science Committee took care of dismembering this forward, so I don’t have to.

OUT OF FOCUS: A CRITICAL ASSESSMENT OF THE SENATE REPORT, “THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION: UNDER THE MICROSCOPE”

 

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How to write a political forward

February 19th, 2011 No comments

This was forwarded to me by my family, and is originally a MoveOn email. Now, MoveOn.org is supposed to be crazy left-wing, but… They know how to cite some sources.  Note that each point is cited and directly links to a reliable source (depending on how reliable you consider Huffington Post, anyway).

The issue of reliable news sources is another major problem, but at least this email goes beyond the usual “my cousin Jim heard about how Obama isn’t an American citizen…”, giving the reader a chance to verify the reliability of the information.

On to the email!

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Another chain letter response

February 19th, 2011 No comments

This chain letter was forwarded to me out of frustration at having received the letter rather than because the sender agreed with the contents. Nonetheless, it was in my inbox, and that meant a debunking was called for. It’s long, and I had time on my hands, so it’s a bit involved, but it’s a valuable exercise in the actual anatomy of a chain letter.

For the brave among you, read on!
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Words, disrespect, and violence

September 26th, 2010 No comments

Life is keeping me busy,and I haven’t had time to craft a post in quite a while. Last night I got involved in a very frustrating discussion with someone who is very strongly libertarian. We had both had too much to drink over the course of the day, though at least I was sober for it, and we were both operating on very little sleep. I don’t know that it actually affected the character of the conversation we had.

What I found frustrating is that the other person in the discussion was extremely forceful and aggressive in conversation. When she asked a question that was simple in its wording, but far-reaching in its implications, I would start to answer, and would immediately be attacked with another question. If you have political discussions on any sort of semi-regular basis, you’ve probably been in a similar situation.

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Islamophobia is the new Socialism

August 31st, 2010 1 comment

Well I’m happy to say America is progressing. I’m exceedingly sad to report that it is progressing from handwringing about socialism to handwringing about militant Islam spreading across the Western world and infecting the governments of the countries they inhabit like so many blankets spreading smallpox.

In keeping with this new tradition, a friend of mine recently sent me one of the first emails I’ve gotten from him that doesn’t mention the nascent socialist takeover of the United States at all. No, this one was all Islam, all the time. Actually it was just a link to a YouTube video. Have a watch, and then read my lengthy response below the jump.
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Some older posts to think about

July 13th, 2010 No comments

All of these articles were pulled from fivethirtyeight.com, in the post God, Guns, and Gaydar: The Laws of Probability Push You to Overestimate Small Groups. I post them because, as some of you know, I am a gun owner, but for the most part I find the self-defense argument uncompelling*. This topic has come up a number of times with friends who, while they enjoy target shooting, as I do, also feel strongly about owning firearms for self-defense purposes.

The first two articles address the estimate of frequency of guns being used in self-defense; the third addresses churchgoing numbers.

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/research/hicrc/firearms-research/gun-threats-and-self-defense-gun-use/index.html

http://www.stat.duke.edu/~dalene/chance/chanceweb/103.myth0.pdf

http://www.stat.columbia.edu/~cook/movabletype/archives/2006/07/counting_church.html

* The first article strengthens my position on this. I generally find the defense against home-invasion case uncompelling, or self-defense while strolling around the city. I do find it a more compelling argument for women, especially for women who frequently travel alone or live alone.  Women do, unfortunately, still face situations that men do not. Please note that I do not advocate blanket bans on firearms, or excessive restriction, but I am in favor of reasonable levels of regulation. I do not think that the self-defense argument forces a higher bar for justification of regulation.

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Stupid chain letters from 2004 are all the rage.

June 10th, 2010 No comments

Another variation on the “red states should secede” meme is making the rounds. I wrote about this phenomenon several months ago, linking to a craigslist post that used the meme. This “new” screed, however, may have been the original philippic that my smug classmate waved in my face back in 2004.

So now’s as good a time as to relink to that original post of mine and have you folks read it again. Because apparently you didn’t get it the first time.

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The Volcker Rule

April 23rd, 2010 No comments

To continue the trend of not writing about wingnut forwards (haven’t received any in a while), I want to address the Volcker Rule today. A financial reform bill is clearly badly needed, and one of the important items in this bill is this little piece called the Volcker Rule. On its face, it sounds like a great idea: limit the investment activities of FDIC-insured commercial banks. But those of us who bank or insure through USAA got an email last night urgently asking members to take action to modify this rule.

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Fear the Boom and the Bust

April 18th, 2010 No comments

I should note that while my knowledge of economics is, well, lacking, I found this pretty fantastic. Discovered through winged and finned.

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Taxes in the US

April 7th, 2010 No comments

I guess I have not actually gotten back to the Texas education situation, though it may still happen. It’s hard to make writing here a priority. That said, I can still sometimes provide you with interesting things to read! Both of these are from FiveThirtyEight, which was one of my favorite blogs back during the 2008 election. Recently I started following the FiveThirtyEight twitter account, and so I’ve been reading more of the posts. Chances are good that most of you who actually bother to read this blog also read FiveThirtyEight anyway, but I still want to share these.

These posts are a two part response to a Jonah Goldberg piece. Goldberg is a clown; he pointed to Swarthmore as a hotbed of liberal fascism a couple years ago, which, well… Sort of isn’t worth responding to. Anyway, Goldberg is, surprise, complaining that those taxes the liberals inflict are just awful and fascist and so forth. So the first post breaks down tax burden by GDP, and also by the different types of tax:

Jonah Goldberg, Quarter Slave (Conceptually)

The second article is more interesting, in my opinion. It looks at the GINI coefficient, which represents income distribution, and compares the US to other developed nations, both before and after taxes:

Jonah Goldberg, Anti-Maldistributionist

I found these articles pretty fascinating, and it provides something to think about as the tax deadline approaches.

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