College professors are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.I am going to poach in Daniel Larison's royal woods in order to note that the President's conservative critics have done an even better job than his rump liberal defenders at convincing themselves that he represents something other than the most mainstream, uninventive, conventional politician. While serial theogamist and unwavering Obamaphile Andrew Sullivan propounds the supposed $20 billion "escrow" as the greatest achievement since ancient mankind knocked over the stargate and kicked out the space gods, Krauthammer 40,000 envisions him, literally Joe Biden, as a kind of antichrist, an actual false prophet sent to suborn mankind (read: America) and usher the species (read: America) unto its doom. The real story, if you ask me, is that the Coast Guard of the Soviet States of America is colluding with BP; the President's language, if you actually read it, is obfuscatory; the "spill" remains uncontained; and yet the business of business of government of business rolls on as it rolled five thousand years ago. I mean, how do you critique as a Leninist revolutionary a standard American hegemonist with an expansive, interventionary agenda abroad and a cautious, consensus-driven, largely pro-corporate agenda at home. Ya know, does this man sound familiar to you? He has been the President of the United States for at least the last sixty years.
-Perce Bysshe Shelly
Friday, June 18, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Um, on second thought, maybe the answer IS prayer.
Each of the three branches of government has worked together to prevent a national reckoning over torture.I've always gotten a chuckle out of the "three branches of government" figure of speech. It's generally taken to suggest some kind of separation and independence, when really all it means is that they're all part of the same fucking tree.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
I'm not sure if I should call this, uh, treatise on Atheism and Assumption an example of inspired undergraduate casuistry or an example of a retarded kid petting her kitty-cat to accidental death. I am leaning toward the latter, although let's give Miss Chen a little understanding, as she is, literally Joe Biden, an undergraduate. The whole thing is actually a pretty fun read, and takes an amusing tour of the types and varieties of logical fallacy, but one particularly dumb paragraph stands out:
Granted, science is based on uncertainty, but according to the proponents of the second counterargument, science is also self-correcting and self-validating. We replicate an experiment to gain certainty that the results we have obtained are correct. If we replicate an experiment many times and discover that our results are not consistent with the original finding, then we can be fairly confident that the original finding is wrong. If we replicate the experiment many times and discover that the results are consistent with the original finding, this means that we can be fairly confident that the original finding is validated or correct. The problem with this counterargument is that even though science may be self-correcting, the only way to correct the mistakes that we make now is by doing more experiments, meaning the same assumptions must be made each time the additional experiments are performed. Also, the self-validating counterargument is flawed, and the following example can expose this flaw. Let us say an experiment was conducted 1,000 times, and we get the same result 990 times. The counterargument says that we can then rationally conclude (although we can never know with absolute certainty) that the result is right. This is similar to saying: if we toss a coin 1,000 times, and we get heads 990 times, we can rationally conclude that there is more than 50% chance of getting heads. But this is not true. According to statistics, if we toss a coin for an infinite number of times, we’d find that there is actually only 50% chance of getting heads. What matters is the long run. Therefore, we have to toss a coin or conduct an experiment infinite number of times in order to rationally conclude that we’ve obtained the right result. This is an impossible task. Therefore, it is impossible for us to accurately determine whether the results that we’ve obtained are right no matter how many times we actually replicate the experiment."According to statistics." EL-OH-EL!
If a coin tossed 1000 times lands on heads 990 times, we would not say, "statistics" tell us that there is a 50% chance of heads and a 50% chance of tails, ergo our empirical observations are incorrect, because they contradict our a priori reasoning. We would instead conduct further experiments to determine why this particular coin is 99% likely to land heads. Possible hypotheses: the coin is somehow unevenly weighted; the coin's shape is deformed; the mechanism or method of tossing the coin is flawed; the surface on which the coin is landing is affecting the outcome; etc.
Therefore, we have to toss a coin or conduct an experiment infinite number of times in order to rationally conclude that we’ve obtained the right result. This is an impossible task. Therefore, it is impossible for us to accurately determine whether the results that we’ve obtained are right no matter how many times we actually replicate the experiment.Dear Christina, there is no right.
In short, she appears to believe that science operates on a principle where experimentation or demonstration are used to validate some known quantity, which is the basic position of the theist regarding the existence of God, isn't it? We know God exists, and we must set out to prove it. Instead of taking valid counterexamples as what they are, which is to say, invitations to pursue new lines of inquiry into the causes of phenomena, they are to be immediately and universally dismissed because they don't comport with our (true) prior convictions.
While I'm with Prof. Sartwell, i.e. IT SUXXED, no less an authority on Presidential Presidentialness than The New York Times declares that the President, mercifully, appeared, well, Presidential. Really:
Mr. Obama came across as confident and presidential.You know, thank god he didn't come across as senatorial, or phlebotmatorical, or HVAC specialistical, or traffic copicus, or dentistrious, or--and the Times actually uses this one--professorial ("curbing his natural instincts for professorial lecturing"). Whatever you do, Mr. President, whatever you do, do not, we repeat, do not appear professorial. (Most of the professors I ever had--and granted, I went to Oberlin, so my experience may not be . . . uh, representative, either just wanted to fuck me or just wanted to buy my coke. Just saying.)
I mean, at what point do the army dudes show up in motorcades of black Suburbans to say, "Jennifer Connely, you are the only scientist who can save the earth from Keanu Reeves. Put on your tightest sweater. You are coming with us." Isn't that the way this script works? Where is Tommy Lee Jones? Why has no one put together a team of rugged rig workers, ninjas, demolition experts, that Black guy, and Steve Buscemi? You're implying that a group composed entirely of females will breed? I'm just saying that life . . . finds a way. Shit, I'm no fan of the military, but if ever there were a time for America's Last White President™ to declare that he's deploying the Second Fleet, this is it.
He concluded with a weird prayer. God does not remove all obstacles, but he is with us always. Um, what? How can you tell? Is that him, over there, dripping off that pelican?
I feel badly about picking on Duncan Black twice in a week, because as far as lefty types go, and especially as far as popular leftyish blurghers go, he's almost admirably unfatuous, but this can't go without comment:
I know I've been a bit cranky lately, but it's just rather distressing to see that even with Democratic control elites just aren't up to the task of governing this county in an adequate fashion. I didn't have high hopes for a great liberal revolution, but I did expect, well, better.Okay, DB. That's because you were, and I am saying this in the most non-judgmental, positively-reinforcing, more-in-sadness-than-anger sorta way . . . that's because you were a huge fucking sucker, a boob of colossal scale, a blinkered, magical-thinking dummy who let rump party affiliation and an East-Coaster's snide belief that a guy who don't call 'em no nukyoular weapons must certainly be like me convince himself that an insane, death-worshiping, peeping-tom war monster was some kind of admirably competent and reasonably ethical technocrat . . . that Barack Obama was, in other words, not running for President of the United States, but applying to be Director of Institutional Development at some nice two-year business college. Your bad!
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Having been wrung through the Ivy-League credential machine, Yglesias is naturally disinclined to distinguish between the qualitative and the quantitative, preferring to blur the distinction and confuse better with merely more. Indeed, so urgent is the perceived problem that Yggie calls it, well:
This is a multi-faceted problem, but also a quite urgent one. And it needs to be tackled along a number of dimensions. Measures to make college more affordable will help with much of it, but obviously won’t help us increase our too-low high school graduation rate. Conversely, improving the high school graduation rate at the margin probably doesn’t do much to help the people who are currently entering college but not graduating. And as this latest report indicates, we need to make sure we’re providing viable options short of a full bachelor’s degree for people who need some education beyond the high school level.Now, if a person can graduate from Harvard and still write sentences in which multi-faceted problems are tackled along a number of dimension, then I'll suggest that what we need is not more education, but less, and not a better-educated population, but as uneducated a citizenry as possible. He goes on to misuse "at the margin" and demonstrate himself to be woefully ignorant of the existence of community and junior colleges, associate degrees and professional certificates, skilled trades, nursing schools, ad inf. This guy claims to be a "progressive," which is a mealy-mouthed American manner of claiming some vaguely leftish political ideology, but it never once strikes him that a "viable" labor movement and an active manufacturing sector are better for "employees"--oh, god, can we retire that word?--than a thousand more scholarships that enable little Johnny B-Minus to garner a B.A. in Post-Colonial English Womynopology Programming.
What a fucking clown. I imagine him in full Renaissance Faire garb, dripping sweat, and arguing that the most multidimensionally viable solution to the iniquities of Salic Law and the rule of Primogeniture is for people to just have more fucking first sons. Uhhhhhhhhh...
The New York Times should be published in crayon. Here is David Brooks:
The contrast is clearest in the energy sector. In the democratic capitalist world we have oil companies, like Exxon Mobil, BP and Royal Dutch Shell, that make money for shareholders.Do I even have to say it. The world's largest company is Royal Dutch Shell. ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, Total, and ConocoPhillips are all bigger than the largest "state" rival, China National. Oh, and here is a ranking by market cap, in which some of the state-owned companies fare a bit better, but the big "multinationals" ExxonMobil, RDS, BP, Chevron, and Total all make the top 13. WHAT THE FUCK IS DAVID BROOKS TALKING ABOUT?
In the state capitalist world there are government-run enterprises like Gazprom, Petrobras, Saudi Aramco, Petronas, Petróleos de Venezuela, China National Petroleum Corporation and the National Iranian Oil Company. These companies create wealth for the political cliques, and they, in turn, have the power of the state behind them.
With this advantage, state energy companies have been absolutely crushing the private-sector energy companies. In America, we use the phrase Big Oil to describe Exxon Mobil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell and others. But that just shows how parochial we are. In fact, none of these private companies make it on a list of the world’s top 13 energy companies.
I'm not even going to climb on my hobbyhorse to lecture about how the west practices state capitalism just as much as China or Russia. You've heard it before. The only point of this post is to say that David Brooks is a columnist at the top newspaper in the United States of America and he does not know how to make The Google!
Monday, June 14, 2010
As Brad says, long term unemployment is a problem not just because of the immediate pain, but also because of the fact that over time these people find that their skills become more and more mismatched with the needs of employers even if the economy turns around.Their whats? Their skills? What're those?
-Duncan Black, AKA Atrios
The single biggest lie about the post-industrial economy is this notion that, whereas once you could be a union slug pulling a widget-press lever for eight hours a day, now you gotsta have skillz, brah. From this conviction flows a never-ending stream of bullshit, from the ever-expanding, university-degree scam machine to "jobs training programs" to, well, see above. This fucking bullshit in turn justifies our post-labor, "at-will" culture of total employee dependence on employer largesse for livelihood, medical care, etc. The idea is that everyone must continually renovate their brain lest some kind of bullshit, office-derived Moore's Law cause some new patch pack for an Adobe product totally blow our fucking minds, man.
Being a machinist requires skills. Working in an office requires a glancing familiarity with OfficeSuite. I think we would do well not to confuse the two. The Service Product Coordinator Spend Process Analyst Specialist who's been looking for new work for the last twelve months ain't out a bullshit job because he failed to stay current with Macro-writing technology; he's out a bullshit job because his job was bullshit, extraneous even to the boomtime economy that created it, now, more than ever, unnecessary. Persistent unemployment is not a problem because employees and employers are "mismatched," one of those callous Management euphemisms that will one day take its rightful place alongside such Third-Reichisms as "transport." It's a problem because our economy is a castle made of bullshit built on a bullshit foundation foundering in a swamp of bullshit. It is not an absence of skills and abilities that curtails and limits the prospects of gainful labor; it is an absence of any industry requiring any labor. Yes, it was lovely that we had a decade or two in which fake jobs full of people pimping their fake skills abounded, but that wave crested and rolled back.
It's curious to me that Black, who was perceptive about the phony nature of the real estate and finance cons, doesn't see that near-full employment was likewise a shell game.