Links 9/17/14

Links for you. Science:

8 Things We Can Do Now to Build a Space Colony This Century
Things that irritate me about the Ice-Bucket Challenge
Free HPV vaccine causes 61% drop in female genital warts in Australia
Researchers search for genes behind intelligence, find almost nothing (story is less inflamatory)
Germs Spread Unbelievably Fast in the Workplace: It can take as little as 2 hours for one stomach-flu sufferer to contaminate half of a single office.

Other:

All in the Family: How the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, Sam Walton, Bill Gates, and Other Billionaires Are Undermining America (excellent)
A Leap of Faith: The Incoherence of Using Value-Added Estimates as a Proxy for Effective Teaching
If CCSS is not a Curriculum, Why Do All the Textbooks Look Alike?
If GOP is right, why are red states so far behind?
Back to school: Read an 8th grader’s perfect explanation for why laptops, not tablets, belong in the classroom
Stop freaking out about ISIS
American shakedown: Police won’t charge you, but they’ll grab your money
Is ISIS inviting the United States to step into the quicksand?
Correcting the Education Punditry of @jonathanalter
My fellow Americans, please stop being idiots
In defense of social insurance
Jesus, what kind of sex is this guy having?
Will Misogyny Bring Down The Atheist Movement? (worth noting that some of the misogynists are also making anti-Semitic slurs as well)
Just How Bad ARE Texas Textbooks? THIS Bad.
A Watch Guy’s Thoughts On The Apple Watch After Seeing It In The Metal (Tons Of Live Photos)
Surprise! Our Arab Allies Aren’t Really Going to do Anything to Help Us Fight ISIS

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10th & G At Night

Observed in Downtown D.C. (and here’s the daytime version):

10th and G at night

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You Know Who Else Banned the Teaching of Evolution?

No, not Hitler, ISIL (boldface mine):

The new Mosul curriculum, allegedly issued by al-Baghdadi himself, stresses that any reference to the republics of Iraq or Syria must be replaced with “Islamic State.” Pictures that violate its ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam will be ripped out of books. Anthems and lyrics that encourage love of country are now viewed as a show of “polytheism and blasphemy,” and are strictly banned.

The new curriculum even went so far as to explicitly ban Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution — although it was not previously taught in Iraqi schools.

Meanwhile, in the Great State of Louisiana, demonologist and Governor Bobby Jindal waffles, once again, on the issue of teaching creationism (boldface mine):

“The reality is I’m not an evolutionary biologist,” the Republican governor and possible 2016 presidential hopeful told reporters at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

“What I believe as a father and a husband is that local schools should make decisions on how they teach,” he said. “And we can talk about Common Core and why I don’t believe in a national curriculum. I think local school districts should make decisions about what should be taught in their classroom. I want my kids to be exposed to the best science, the best critical thinking…”

The reporter interrupted Jindal, a Rhodes scholar who studied biology and public policy at Brown University, to press him on the original question of whether he believes the theory of evolution reflects the best scientific thinking about life on Earth.

“I will tell you, as a father, I want my kids to be taught about evolution in their schools, but secondly, I think local school districts should make the decision,” he said.

First of all, you don’t have to be a professional biologist to accept the reality of biological evolution–I know he learned the basics of evolution at Brown. Second, just like education ‘reformers’ would never subject their children to the policies for which they advocate, Jindal wants his kids to learn about evolution. Creationism is for gulling the rubes.

Same as it ever was.

Posted in Conservatives, Creationism, Evolution, Fucking Morons | 2 Comments

Links 9/16/14

Links for you. Science:

We Could Have Stopped This: Public health officials knew Ebola was coming. They know how to defeat it. But they’re blowing it anyway.
Giant shrimp as long as your arm caught off Florida coast
Goodbye Latin, hello English for science papers (this is not a gag)
Multi-sample SNP calling circa 1994

Other:

Raising the minimum wage without raising havoc
On the Abuse of ‘Bro': The most important word of our time for now
What Every High School Junior Should Know About Going to College (the real issue is that college is so expensive, failing to finish is crippling)
When people ask rape victims “why didn’t you report it/why didn’t you go to the hospital?
Where is my future? I want static analysis and I want futuristic women
Amazon Warriors Fight for Their Trees
Civility, Outrage
Miscarriage Isn’t Illegal, But It’s Increasingly Treated With Suspicion
Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Think Tanks
Good bosses aren’t good enough
When Whites Just Don’t Get It, Part 2
Why not kill them all?
Meet The Press – September 7, 2014 – the Bobblespeak Translation Edition

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This Defines Toothless Regulation

Those from the mighty heights of American bidness are always quick to sound the alarm of ‘Too Much Regulation.’ And then we read this about the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (boldface mine):

The agency has also not made full use of its legal powers in investigating automakers, which include an ability to force the recall of vehicles and to issue subpoenas to obtain information and documents. In congressional testimony this spring, Mr. Friedman, the agency’s acting head, appeared to have limited knowledge of some of the agency’s legal powers and its history of exercising them. Under questioning by senators, Mr. Friedman indicated he did not realize the agency could issue subpoenas.

Asked by The Times how many subpoenas the agency had issued over the past 10 years, the agency did not offer a direct reply. The agency “routinely issues information requests and special orders” under federal law “to demand information and documents from auto manufacturers and automotive equipment suppliers,” it said.

But too much regulation, BARGLE, BARGLE….

Posted in Automobiles, Bidness | Leave a comment

The Definition of Insanity, Also Known As the U.S. Foreign Policy Establishment

The old saw “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results” certainly applies to our Middle East foreign policy. Regarding the increasing drumbeat for another war in Iraq, Lance Mannion asks:

Should we do nothing? Why or why not? What should we do and how would that work? And what I want to know, more than that you were right about Iraq in 2002, is if you think Bill Clinton failed morally and geo-politically when he did nothing about Rwanda.

Also what are your thoughts on Kuwait, the Kurds, Kosovo, Tora Bora, killing bin Laden, and Libya?

So I’m going to build on a comment I left over at Lance’s joint. Over the last 20 years, every time (with one exception) we have intervened militarily (and airstrikes are an intervention–just ask those on the receiving end), we have ended up making things worse, especially over the long-term (Kuwait*, Iraq, Syria, Libya). The one exception to this was piracy in Somalia, where our allies were sincerely on-board (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?) with stopping piracy–that is, our allies were allies, not ‘allies’ (nobody really liked those guys). In that limited situation, we were successful in stopping piracy, even though Islamic militancy can still be found there). Might be a lesson in there somewhere.

Our long, glorious epic of failure suggests that our foreign policy establishment, including government officials, the chattering classes, and many foreign policy ‘experts’has no #$%^&! clue as how to conduct a foreign policy initiative with a military component. Since this establishment has a cycle time far longer than than a presidential term, to a considerable extent, Obama isn’t the issue here.

Obama, to his credit, has had a notable success in removing weapons of mass destruction (gas weapons) from Syria–just in time it would appear. But that was mostly a diplomatic initiative, not a military one.

At some point, we need to realize that our foreign policy establishment simply can’t ‘win a war’–or at least the wars they want to fight. I want to repeat that key point: even though the average U.S. battalion, with appropriate air and artillery support, can unleash far more devastation than the Roman Legions could have ever dreamt of, we have failed spectacularly in the Middle East. Even when we have been successful in the short term (‘militarily’), in the long-term, the consequences have been disastrous.

Why would we expect the same foreign policy establishment to be right this time? We should recognize that it is fundamentally incapable of advancing U.S. interests (I’m working under the naive assumption that perpetual war is not a U.S. interest…). Leaving aside the various moral and ethical questions, there is no evidence that suggests we will be any more successful this time.

Perhaps then, we should stop fighting these wars?

*As a result of the first Gulf War, the U.S. stationed troops in Saudi Arabia which greatly angered Wahabiists, including a guy named Osama bin Laden.

Posted in Iraq, Libya, Syria | 2 Comments

Links 9/15/14

Links for you. Science:

So You Want to Understand Bayes’ Theorem and/or Look at Photos of Cats
California blue whales, once nearly extinct, are back at historic levels
Are YOU Jack The Ripper? No. And neither’s Aaron Kosminski
Climate change could leave sharks unable to hunt
Animal Traffic

Other:

Between the Peacekeepers and the Protesters in Ferguson
The Treasonous 32: Four-Fifths of Black Caucus Help Cops Murder Their Constituents
Dignity: Fast-food workers and a new form of labor activism.
Lies, damned lies, and abortion statistics
Has Apple Pay Just Put Apple in the CFPB’s Crosshairs?
Settlements, lies and land grabs: Israel’s government lied to the U.S. 47 years ago when it set up Gush Etzion’s first settlement. Will the U.S. response to a massive new land takeover remain as ineffectual as back then?
Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent (in my experience, this isn’t surprising at all)
Friends of Israel: The lobbying group AIPAC has consistently fought the Obama Administration on policy. Is it now losing influence?
A Wee Question About the Residual Force Everyone Keeps Blathering About
Understanding Piketty, part 5 (conclusion)
The Fatal Flaw Of Education Reform
The Washington Post pretends to report on Connecticut’s public schools
Rape Culture in the Alaskan Wilderness
Price Tag on Old Insulin Skyrockets
Sweater boys and the failure to serve
On Truth and Burning Bridges
Chipotle Workers Quit, Shut Down Store, Because That Job Sucks

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