The Washington Post Goes Full Hacktacular on Torture

Look at this photo with a Washington Post piece explaining why Democrats are so uncool to oppose torture:

Jose_Padilla

That’s a picture of ‘dirty bomber’ Jose Padilla, a fucking idiot who actually believed this is how you build a dirty bomb:

The Dirty Bomb/Tall Buildings plotting refers to terrorist plotting involving U.S. citizen Jose Padilla. Padilla and his associate, Binyam Mohammed, conceived the “Dirty Bomb Plot” after locating information, derived from what the CIA described as “a satirical internet article” entitled “How to Make an H-bomb,” on a computer at a Pakistani safe house in early 2002. The article instructed would-be bomb makers to enrich uranium by placing it “in a bucket, attaching it to a six foot rope, and swinging it around your head as fast as possible for 45 minutes.

His ‘better’ plan was to rent a bunch of apartments in a building–in New York City–turn the gas on, and blow up the building–which is every bit as absurd.

This kind of shit masquerading as journalism is how we destroy the last vestiges of republican virtue. Shameful.

Posted in Fucking Morons, News Media, Torture | Leave a comment

Natural History, Sociology and Economics

A while ago, I came across a Krugman piece where he made comparisons between economics and various fields of biology. I’m not an economist, but he opened that door, so here’s what I concluded (boldface added):

But biologists aren’t only trying to derive general principles, they’re also trying to figure out how organism- or system-specific processes work.

To use a very macabre example, we are interested in a how a gun fires a bullet–and in a controlled environment, we can estimate very precisely how that bullet will travel. But, a biologist is also faced with the task of trying to figure out what happened on the grassy knoll in Dallas. The study of ballistics is necessary, but not sufficient. At the risk of completely tasteless overkill, does anyone view September 11th primarily (or even entirely) as a structural engineering problem? Those stupid natural history facts matter too. Understanding and predicting particular events also requires a knowledge of phenomena that can not be generalized and reduced to simple general theory.

It would appear to me that economics should also be interested in these types of questions. Why do economic crises occur, and why at specific times? Yes, structural instabilities matter, but why didn’t the meltdown happen three months earlier or later? After all, Big Shitpile was shitty for quite a while. Households were overextended on credit for years. So why didn’t the collapse happen in 2007?

I’ve also touched on this point elsewhere.

Which leads us to something Tyler Cowen wrote (boldface mine):

I would like to say a small bit on the superiority of anthropologists. I view the “products” of anthropology as the experiences, world views, and conversations of the anthropologists themselves. Those products translate poorly into the medium of print, and so from a distance the anthropologists appear to be inferior and lackluster…

Yet anthropologists have some of the most profound understandings of the human condition. They have witnessed, absorbed, and processed some of the most interesting data, especially those anthropologists who do fieldwork of the traditional kind.

The rest of us are simply (usually) too blind to see this. It even can be argued that anthropology is the queen and most general of the social sciences, and that economics, as a social science, is simply playing around in one of the larger anthropologically-motivated sandboxes, namely the economy.

We so often confuse “what can be translated into print well” with “what is important and interesting.” …That does mean anthropology is very often not a highly leveraged means of status and influence.

I agree, and it’s a point I tried to make in a review of Yves Smith’s book:

But I think the other great insight (other than the universality of animal spirits) is how economics as a discipline, and the intellectual edifice of that discipline, is precarious at best. Smith several times describes economics as a social science, not a hard science. In her opinion, economics failed to catch the bubble, and even contributed to it due to a slavish devotion to mathematical theory (e.g., Gaussian copula functions), when it should have been focused much more on the sociology of economic phenomena (which makes sense given the importance of animal spirits). The false security endowed by supposedly hard (dare we say tumescent?) science blinded much of the discipline to the reality on the ground, whereas some old-fashioned fact gathering might have helped a lot more. A sociologist interviewing buyers and sellers in the CDS and CDO markets would have done a world of good.

Natural history does matter.

Posted in Economics | 2 Comments

Links 12/17/14

Links for you. Science:

Lyme-Illiterate (after being an idiot about Ebola, of course Cuomo would get this wrong)
“The Great Plate Count Anomaly” that is no more
Supplementary Materials practices rob authors of citation credit
Snake oil salesmen selling torture
Antibiotic resistance: sometimes knowledge is not enough

Other:

An Open Letter to America from a Public School Teacher.
A Walton’s Plan to “Fix Public Education.” Uh huh.
The Supreme Court sides with Amazon, ruling that warehouse workers don’t deserve to be paid when waiting to be searched
It’s time for Tor activists to stop acting like the spies they claim to hate
The Study Health Care Reform Desperately Needs
Comcast sued for turning home Wi-Fi routers into public hotspots
Scott Walker Responds to Letter Regarding Menorah: ‘Thank You and Molotov’
John Brennan Must Go
The plot to sap and impurify our precious bodily fluids
Vintage photos of supermarkets in N.J.
‘Girl in a Country Song’ hits No. 1 by mocking bro country. The bros aren’t laughing.
CRomnibus Disaster Signals a Sad New Normal in D.C.
Again, the Hospital CEO as Scrooge – Erlanger CEO and Other Top Hired Managers Get Bonuses Months After They Froze Employees’ Paid Time Off
As recruitment dips, TFA leader says New York training site to close
If You Thought Stop-And-Frisk Was Bad, You Should Know About Jump-Outs

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Giuliani Blames Teachers Unions For Eric Garner’s Death

St. Rudy 9/11 crapped out this turd (boldface mine):

He then turned his fire on teachers unions, claiming they are to blame for the problem of poor schools in black neighborhoods.

“Maybe all these left-wing politicians that want to blame police, maybe there’s some blame here that has to go to the teachers union, for refusing to have, for refusing to have schools where teachers are paid for performance, for fighting charter schools, for fighting vouchers, so we can drastically and dramatically improve the education situation. Maybe they should be talking about and holding rallies about the problem of black fathers taking care of the children they fathered,” he said.”

Question: what kind of mind uses a situation such as the death of Eric Garner and the non-indictment of those responsible to union bust and parrot idiotic education reform propaganda?

We’ll ignore the black fathers falsehoood–racism is a nervous tic for Giuliani.

But this is absurd. Garner was a New York City employee until he was laid off due to budget cuts. He wasn’t a failure of the education system–he had a decent job.

No word on whether Newt Gingrich has blamed Garner’s death on capital gains taxes….

Posted in Education, Racism, Conservatives, Fucking Morons | 1 Comment

The Justification For Torture That No One Wants to Confront

oldantitortureposter

For those who have followed our reign of torture closely, in 2005, videotapes of torture sessions were destroyed. Most people assume this was done because the tapes were so horrifying, no one wanted them released. In light of last weekend’s Torturers on Parade that blanketed the Pious Sabbath Gasbag TV shows–and how unrepentant those monsters were–we might want to rethink the motivation for destroying the tapes (boldface mine):

The truth is that torture did work, but not the way its defenders claim. It worked to produce justifications for policies the establishment wanted, like the Iraq war. This is actually tacitly acknowledged in the report — or one should say, it’s buried in it. Footnote 857 of the report is about Ibn Shaykh al-Libi, who was captured in Afghanistan shortly after the U.S. invasion and was interrogated by the FBI. He told them all he knew, but then the CIA rendered him to the brutal Mubarak regime in Egypt, in effect outsourcing their torture. From the footnote:

“Ibn Shaykh al-Libi reported while in [censored: ‘Egyptian’] custody that Iraq was supporting al-Qa’ida and providing assistance with chemical and biological weapons. Some of this information was cited by Secretary Powell in his speech at the United Nations, and was used as a justification for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Ibn Shaykh al-Libi recanted the claim after he was rendered to CIA custody on February [censored], 2003, claiming that he had been tortured by the [censored, likely ‘Egyptians’], and only told them what he assessed they wanted to hear. For more more details, see Volume III.” Of course, Volume III has not been made public.

So, while CIA head John Brennan now says it’s “unknowable” if torture lead to information that actually saved lives, it’s provable that torture lead to information that helped lead to war and destroyed lives.

Nor was al-Libi the only one tortured to try to make the case for war. Many have reported that CIA interrogators waterboarded two alleged top al Qaeda detainees repeatedly — Abu Zubaydah at least 83 times and Khalid Sheik Muhammed 183 times — but few give the exact timing and context: The were so tortured in August 2002 and March 2003 respectively — the beginning and end of the Bush administrations push for the invasion of Iraq.

This was somewhat acknowledged in the other Senate report on torture, released by the Armed Services Committee in 2008. It quoted Maj. Paul Burney, who worked as a psychiatrist at Guantanamo Bay prison: “A large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq and we were not successful. The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish that link … there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results.” The GTMO Interrogation Control Element Chief, David Becker told the Armed Services Committee he was urged to use more aggressive techniques, being told at one point “the office of Deputy Secretary of Defense [Paul] Wolfowitz had called to express concerns about the insufficient intelligence production at GTMO.

The use of torture is awful enough, but to do in order to manufacture lies that lead to the deaths of over 100,000 is monstrous.

In a civilized society, these people would be in jail, never mind going on television to spout their bile.

Posted in Torture | 6 Comments

Links 12/16/14

Links for you. Science:

Why all research findings are false (interesting)
Risky medicine: Misunderstanding risk factors has led to massive overtreatment of diseases people don’t have and probably never will
The Caterpillar Defense
The Power of a Press Release
Torture: Why did the CIA spend over $180m on bad science?

Other:

Single Parents and the Break-Up Between the White Working Class and the Democratic Party
TIPPING POINTS? MALCOLM GLADWELL COULD USE A FEW (plagarizing? By a thought leader at the New Yorker? Inconceivable!)
“Most people know me as a famous racist, but you might also enjoy my work promoting rape culture.”
This Greenpeace Stunt May Have Irreparably Damaged Peru’s Nazca Site
The Shame of America’s Rotting Roads
Your Retirement Fund Is Slowly Evaporating (the fees kill you)
Torture is a culture. Releasing the Senate report is a way of fighting it. (turning a frown upside down I suppose…)
Losing control
PADILLA’S IDIOTIC PLOT, AND HIS SOMEWHAT LESS IDIOTIC PLOT
Torture report highlights consequences of permanent war
Scathing Stanford CREDO Report Shows Ohio Traditional Public Schools Outperform Charters
What Is Chuck Johnson, and Why? The Web’s Worst Journalist, Explained
The Torture Report, Part Two: What It Means
The Senate report proves once and for all that torture didn’t lead us to Osama bin Laden
How economics is like 1950s Freudian psychology
The gigantic disaster of the CIA’s torture program
State school board votes against requirements for schools to have nurses, librarians and counselors (but our children are the most important blah, blah, blah….)

Posted in Lotsa Links | Leave a comment

The Case For Disruptive Protests

Not faux disruption or political theater, but actually inconveniencing people. Zaid Jilani:

protest

Most people, when faced with a policy that makes them feel uncomfortable, will attempt to ignore the entire problem rather than fix it. That’s why these protests matter.

Posted in Racism | 2 Comments