Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Quote of the day

"War between civilised States is both wicked and foolish, and it will not cease until either the wickedness or the folly is understood by those who direct the policy of nations." - Bertrand Russell, Justice in War Time

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Quote of the day

'It's amazing, though it shouldn't be, to see the former vice-president of the United States arguing that the government still should be torturing people, and that torture is one of the things he's proudest of. I think the worst thing about the Obama administration's "looking forward" doctrine is that it virtually guarantees that torture will happen again--perhaps even under the very next administration.' - Ta-Nehisi Coates

via Greenwald

Monday, August 29, 2011

Reality has no impact on the shameless liars who rule our discourse

A while back I lamented that we live in a mendocracy where there is practically no political consequence for lying; indeed, that lying, or bullshitting, is one of the most profitable things one can do in our country to achieve media stardom. As part of that post I noted how insanely frustrating it is that no matter what level of rebuttal the lies of global warming deniers receive, they continue to tell the same lies without shame.

I don't know where I'm going with this, other than to once again note the democracy eroding effects of getting citizens to engage civically on false beliefs. Mother Jones also features a lengthy article about the so-called "Climategate" incident in which a criminally manufactured faux controversy has become part of an axiomatic faith for conservatives that man-made global warming is a hoax and a conspiracy. Again, I cut to the key point:

SO DID THE SCIENTISTS DO something more diabolical than gripe about critics and fret over how their research would be interpreted? Not according to seven separate inquiries on the subject, each of which found that the researchers' work was not in question—though several concluded that their behavior was. An independent probe organized by the University of East Anglia (PDF) found that some had turned down "reasonable requests for information" and had, at times, been "unhelpful and defensive." It noted "a consistent pattern of failing to display the proper degree of openness."

But none of the exonerations mattered: The scientists had lost control of the narrative. The percentage of people who believe that the world is warming has fallen 14 points from its 2008 high, according to polling (PDF). Gallup's annual poll in 2010 found that 48 percent of Americans said they believe that fears of global warming "are generally exaggerated"—the highest figure since pollsters began asking that question in 1997.

Most significant, however, has been the long-term hardening of the political divide on the issue. In 1997, the percentage of Republicans and Democrats who believed in climate change was nearly the same—47 percent and 46 percent, respectively. By March 2010, 66 percent of Democrats and only 31 percent of Republicans agreed that global warming was already occurring. Half of the new House GOP members flatly deny that the planet is warming, and only four say they accept the science of climate change.
Since then another inquiry - ANOTHER INDEPENDENT INQUIRY - by the National Science Foundation has found no scientific misconduct.

And on this very day, anyone who happened to be watching Fox "News" this afternoon was witness to a collection of political hacks saying that the science supporting AGW is dubious (it is not), that Al Gore is not well informed about climate science (where he's one of the most informed non-scientists on the planet), and the CRU emails demonstrate that climate scientists were fabricating evidence (which they were not.)

Of course, we have a fair and balanced press that doesn't see fit to call out these liars as liars, or bullshit as bullshit.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Quote of the day

"The natural philosopher, in addition to the sensations common to all men inspired by the event of death, believes that he sees with more certainty that it is attended with the annihilation of sentiment and thought. He observes the mental powers increase and fade with those of the body, and even accommodate themselves to the most transitory changes of our physical nature. Sleep suspends many of the faculties of the vital and intellectual principle; drunkenness and disease will either temporarily or permanently derange them. Madness or idiocy may utterly extinguish the most excellent and delicate of those powers. In old age the mind gradually withers; and as it grew and was strengthened with the body, so does it together with the body sink into decrepitude. Assuredly these are convincing evidences that so soon as the organs of the body are subjected to the laws of inanimate matter, sensation, and perception, and apprehension, are at an end. It is probable that what we call thought is not an actual being, but no more than the relation between certain parts of that infinitely varied mass, of which the rest of the universe is composed, and which ceases to exist so soon as those parts change their position with regard to each other." - Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Necessity of Atheism

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I'll be back

I'll be moving back into my home at the end of next week (for certain.) Regular blogging will start back then with two long overdue posts going up at the start of next week.

In the meantime I'll be trying to do some quick catch-up posts.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Quote of the day

'Dear NYT: the Christian right theory that Nazism was a primarily gay movement isn't "disputed," it's bullshit.' - Michelle Goldberg