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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!

Read more…

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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.

Read more…

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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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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:

http://thinkprogress.org/2010/03/12/texas-education-board-cuts-thomas-jefferson-out-of-its-textbooks/

http://tfninsider.org/2010/03/13/the-list-of-shame-in-texas/

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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The Onion: Area Man Passionate Defender…

November 16th, 2009 No comments

Not a substantive post, but amusing, and relevant to this blog:
Area Man Passionate Defender Of What He Imagines Constitution To Be

Occasionally Jon Stewart has made the comment that it’s sad that the major media outlets are getting things wrong, and it takes a comedian to call bullshit. I’m actually not convinced by that; political humor has often been a check on politicians, and it’s not unreasonable that it should also be a check on media. Comedy is good at that.

(Hat tip to Nick for sending this along to me)

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Left vs. Right

October 22nd, 2009 No comments

I haven’t posted recently due to a conference trip to California, and I don’t have much time at the moment to write, but I wanted to post this graphic:

http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/leftvright_world.html

It’s simplifying, etc. but still interesting.

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