Lawrence Hall of Science Webcam
We Told Them So...

links for 2009-08-31

  • Read [Glenn Greenwald's] whole thing (it’s short and deadly). Our children and grandchildren will remember these strutting second- and third-generation media peacocks they way we look back at the White Russian officer corps—as examples of astonishing decadence. They will wonder how these people, out of all those who could be discussing the day’s events, were the ones chosen to be on television, day after day, as the world careened toward ruin.
  • We're obviously hungry to live with royal and aristocratic families so we should really just go ahead and formally declare it: "Bush daughter Jenna Hager becomes 'Today' reporter."... They should convene a panel for the next Meet the Press with Jenna Bush Hager, Luke Russert, Liz Cheney, Megan McCain and Jonah Goldberg, and they should have Chris Wallace moderate it. They can all bash affirmative action and talk about how vitally important it is that the U.S. remain a Great Meritocracy.... About this latest hiring by NBC, Atrios observed: "if only the Villager values of nepotism and torture could be combined somehow." The American Prospect's Adam Serwer quicky noted that they already have been: "Liz Cheney"...
  • Here in southern California, we are currently living through our annual late August-early September ritual of wildfires. In the San Fernando Valley, where I live, the air is heavy with smoke, and people are staying inside. It was worse in Pasadena, where I attend a Quaker meeting, and where the houses of several Friends are in danger of going up in flames. The advantage this year is that the Santa Ana winds have not come in yet. But it is somewhat misleading for me to say that this is an annual ritual. It has only been that over the last few years. When I was growing up, brushfire danger loomed every summer and we were not sure what would happen: nowadays, the fires erupt every year. It’s not if the fires come, but when. One might say, of course, that this is what happens when the world heats up, and the scientific studies suggest as much. But I’m sure it’s really all just a complete coincidence whipped up by left-wing radicals.
  • It seems quite reasonable that the spread of information (wrong or right) can reinforce trends in economic activity, and hence magnify and propagate shocks, but as noted in a part of the article not included above, this doesn't help us much with the problem of predicting turning points in economic activity. Predicting when the stories suddenly "morph into different forms ... is actually very complex. And even when feedback mechanisms are straightforward, they can produce very strange outcomes, not predictable very far into the future..."
  • the Democrats’ two Senators from California, two from New York, one from Florida, two from Illinois, two from Pennsylvania, one from Ohio, two from Michigan, one from North Carolina, two from New Jersey, two from Virginia, two from Washington, two from Massachusetts, one from Indiana, one from Missouri, and two from Maryland together represent 51.125 percent of the American people. That’s just 25 Senators. There are an additional 35 Democratic Party Senators. Legislation by “majority rule” would mean something less like “50 Senators get to make laws” than “the House of Representatives gets to make laws.” And keep in mind that for all the problems with Barack Obama’s strategy and all the perfidy of the right-wing and all the fecklessness of the media and all the ineffectualness of the Democratic Party leadership, if we operated on a majority rules system of government we’d be having a very different conversation...
  • We do feel for the beleaguered actual reporters in the WSJ newsroom, who have to see their own reputations suffer by association while their paper's leadership caves in to a celebrity pseudo-columnist's right to disregard basic conflict-of-interest rules. One Journal employee told us, "While the Mark Penn incident is as egregious as it is embarrassing, at this point, I think most of the newsroom is so emotionally numb that nothing surprises us anymore. Truly."
  • This site contains some 150 links organized and described. For instance, on the left you have sections on Procopius, on the empress Theodora and a short list of Late Antique and Byzantine links. More focused topics are dealt with in the Articles and in the Special Topics section, which covers topics such as Justinian's general Belisarius, his Legal Reforms and the Racing Factions. Don't throw out your library card. Don't be misled; on this as on all topics except itself, the internet is a dangerous and selective source. Source criticism isn't just for breakfast anymore. Does that page on Justinian agree with Procopius that Justinian was literally a devil? Are the footnotes all to 100-year old desktop encyclopedias? Inquiring minds want to know.
  • laukon: "Didn't somebody say about society that there was no such..." Agathon: "Hush! If you want to quote Margaret Thatcher, you must introduce her as a speaking character in this dialogue and grant her some of your time..." Glaukon: "I? You're the authorial stand-in in this dialogue, not me..."
  • Now as it happens it’s not 100 percent clear what alternative rule you should use. Which I think is one reason economists remain attracted to the “distribution doesn’t matter” point of view. It’s false to say that distribution doesn’t matter. But if you choose to believe that distribution doesn’t matter, that provides an unequivocal answer to how you ought to build distribution into your analysis. If you decide, accurately, that distribution does matter you’re left with the tough problem of specifying exactly how it matters. Much easier to just pretend it doesn’t matter, and then pretending that the fact that you’re pretending it doesn’t matter doesn’t matter either because it’s a “value-neutral” point-of-view. But it just isn’t/