Author Archive

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.



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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, 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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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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Some older posts to think about

July 13th, 2010 No comments

All of these articles were pulled from, 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.

* 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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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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Texas & Education (Part 1 of…?)

March 15th, 2010 1 comment

I really want to comment on what’s just happened in Texas, but I’m not sure where to start. For the moment, let me just point out a couple of webpages about the Texas schoolboard curriculum decisions:

I want to come back to this, but I’ll have to pick just a few items to deal with, given the scale of the politically-motivated wrongness of all of these decisions. The changes covered include a whole range of massive historical revisions from the merely stupid to the utterly absurd. If you read through these and want any in particular covered, leave a comment, and I’ll pick a few to research in depth.

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Auto Tune the News

March 2nd, 2010 No comments

I realize most of the people who read this website– if any of you are left– are probably familiar with auto-tune the news already. Still, in case you’re not, here’s the latest:

Given the last post, I feel I should note that the Andrew & Evan Gregory are both Swatties; Andrew hosted me for the invite-back weekend way back in 2001 when I confirmed that I had absolutely made the right choice in applying to Swarthmore Early Decision.

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Educational Elitism

March 2nd, 2010 No comments

Not an email this time, but instead a response to an article I recently read, The Disadvantages of an Elite Education. First, go read it.

Okay, done? Good.

It didn’t dawn on me that there might be a few holes in my education until I was about 35. I’d just bought a house, the pipes needed fixing, and the plumber was standing in my kitchen. There he was, a short, beefy guy with a goatee and a Red Sox cap and a thick Boston accent, and I suddenly learned that I didn’t have the slightest idea what to say to someone like him.

The author of this article is despairing over the failure of elite educational institutions to create the Ideal Citizen, instead creating the Self-Absorbed Entitled Citizen. In brief, the article itself is as out of touch as the behaviors it’s complaining about.

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