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Tag Archives: politics

Stewart-Colbertism scorns extremism of all types, but especially conservative extremism, and most especially conservative extremism driven by ignorance or religious fundamentalism. It is mildly critical of liberalism, but mainly for failing to combat conservative bombast more effectively. It endorses, implicitly, whatever liberal consensus has managed to survive these past 30 years, but isn’t terribly interested in the details. All this works well as humor, but as a sentiment shouted through a bullhorn to thousands stretched between the U.S. Capitol and the Washington Monument, it will translate into, well, judging other people for what they don’t know.

Timothy Noah for Slate in Stay Home! The case against the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.

Interesting. Sure these shows can in some ways be pretentious, but somehow the effort of doing anything physical, like a rally/march, seems to cross a boundary that Stewart and Colbert have never crossed before. It seems to cross a boundary into something unpretentious—or at least, un-elite—because it involves not being out of sight. The people at the rally will be on camera—for once, the people who watch at home will be in their own eyes. Will it be a mirror? I don’t know, but I disagree Noah, simply because I’ve never heard of anything quite like this happening and I’m very interested to see it…on TV.

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Link: The Irony of Satire

This study investigated biased message processing of political satire in The Colbert Report and the influence of political ideology on perceptions of Stephen Colbert. Results indicate that political ideology influences biased processing of ambiguous political messages and source in late-night comedy. Using data from an experiment (N = 332), we found that individual-level political ideology significantly predicted perceptions of Colbert’s political ideology. Additionally, there was no significant difference between the groups in thinking Colbert was funny, but conservatives were more likely to report that Colbert only pretends to be joking and genuinely meant what he said while liberals were more likely to report that Colbert used satire and was not serious when offering political statements.

The last sentence is the catch. Cheers.

The best of the New York times. This time mostly from September 2010. I also branched out and included some stuff from sections I normally stray away from. Of most note would probably be the recipe.

Naomi Campbell: Model, Citizen

Now, she added: “I’m a recovering person in progress. Every rehabilitation program I’ve been in says the same thing: Getting past the denial is half the battle. Take responsibility for your actions. No matter who you are, a banker or a model or an aesthetician, if you don’t do that, you’ll find yourself living in an insanity world.”

A Year in MP3s

Like most composers these days, I use a computer to compose music; unlike most composers, my compositions are created with software tools that I write myself.

Stir-fried Succotash With Edamame

In a New Role, Teachers Move to Run Schools

Shortly after landing at Malcolm X Shabazz High School as a Teach for America recruit, Dominique D. Lee grew disgusted with a system that produced ninth graders who could not name the seven continents or the governor of their state. He started wondering: What if I were in charge?

Fending Off the Weeds With Newsprint

That’s the theory, anyway. The last time Rock and I tried this on new ground, for a potato patch, the newspapers had not decomposed by spring planting time. But I think the layers were too thick. I had probably figured that if 4 sheets were good, 12 would be better. I was wrong: less is more, stick to four.

I forgot to sprinkle cottonseed meal over the cut grass, before laying down and wetting the newspapers, to give the young seedlings a boost of nitrogen. But maybe I’ll scratch some in, around the broccoli plants and other seedlings, once they start to grow.

Clive Donner, 1960s-Era Film Director, Dies at 84

Clive Donner, who helped define the British New Wave with films like “The Caretaker” and “Nothing but the Best” and directed the emblematic swinging ’60s film “What’s New Pussycat?,” died on Tuesday in London. He was 84.

Google Unveils Tool to Speed Up Searches

Google, which can already feel like an appendage to our brains, is now predicting what people are thinking before they even type.

[…]

“It’s not quite psychic, but it is very clever,” said Othar Hansson, a senior staff software engineer who helped develop Instant.

To make the predictions, Google relies on search trends, like words that are often searched, were recently popular or were searched nearby, Ms. Mayer said.

Some words, like “nude,” produce no results because Google Instant filters for violence, hate and pornography, the company said.

God and Politics, Together Again

“In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world’s great religions demand — that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us,” Mr. Obama said. “Let us be our brother’s keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister’s keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.”

Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits

Take the notion that children have specific learning styles, that some are “visual learners” and others are auditory; some are “left-brain” students, others “right-brain.” In a recent review of the relevant research, published in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a team of psychologists found almost zero support for such ideas. “The contrast between the enormous popularity of the learning-styles approach within education and the lack of credible evidence for its utility is, in our opinion, striking and disturbing,” the researchers concluded.

[…]

Varying the type of material studied in a single sitting — alternating, for example, among vocabulary, reading and speaking in a new language — seems to leave a deeper impression on the brain than does concentrating on just one skill at a time. Musicians have known this for years, and their practice sessions often include a mix of scales, musical pieces and rhythmic work. Many athletes, too, routinely mix their workouts with strength, speed and skill drills.

Reviving Ground Zero

[no segment quoted]

Panade

A Post 9/11 Parenting Moment

“No,” he said firmly. A rule was a rule. I had to pay the baggage fee or throw away the maple syrup so that I could bring my bag onto the plane.

It was a dilemma. As the product of Ukrainian immigrants who came to the United States with virtually nothing—working, scraping, and saving to make ends meet—I was raised not to throw the maple syrup in the trash, nor to spend fifteen dollars on its transport. I couldn’t bring myself to do either.

Living to Be a Parent

Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? You learned about it in your intro psych course: a neat and tidy pyramid, with fulfillment of “physiological needs” at its base, then things like “safety,” “love,” “belonging” and “esteem” stacked on top, all capped by “self-actualization.”

A group of academic psychologists have redesigned the nearly 70-year-old triangle. Most notably they have knocked “self-actualization” off the pinnacle and replaced it with “parenting.” Right below, they have added “mate retention” and “mate acquisition.”

War Games

Beyond their settings, what these future-war games have in common with the Modern Warfare series is a refusal to forthrightly acknowledge the inspiration for their subject matter. Video-game designers and players like to brag about how “realistic” the games are, but when gamers talk about verisimilitude, they’re usually talking about graphical fidelity, about how lifelike the characters and environments are in an otherwise fantastical world — and not about how the medium reflects anything else about the actual world in which we live.

Field Report: Will Work for Food

Some of the most sought-after internships this summer weren’t on Capitol Hill or in the Vogue fashion closet. They were on farms. If you hadn’t applied by the end of the spring, you could forget about it. Ag-department graduates, career-changers and cooks looking to deepen their knowledge of ingredients are among those who have been turning to farmers to show them how to plow their trade. For months they live in group housing — even tents — working long hours for little or no pay beyond all-you-can-eat produce. It’s a cross between Michael Pollan summer school and Barbara Kingsolver boot camp.

Are Films Bad, or Is TV Just Better?

FOR as long as anyone in the movie world can remember (which may be only 20 years or so, but never mind), the fall season has been marked by a sober kind of excitement. The commercial entertainments of summer give way to more ambitious fare, and the grown-up segment of the audience goes back to the theaters looking for stirring performances, complex storytelling, important themes and big emotions. That’s the theory, anyway.

Recently, though, that eager, earnest sense of anticipation — which this section of The New York Times, along with similar preview issues of other publications, both reflects and encourages — has been accompanied, at least among insiders and journalists, by annual paroxysms of anxiety. A few years ago the dominant worry was that a glut of serious movies would overwhelm the marketplace, the films crowding one another out, a concern that was followed almost seamlessly by the fear that such films might disappear altogether.

The Search: Job Satisfaction vs. a Big Paycheck

“Many people want to make a lot of money, but the benefits of having a high income are ambiguous,” said Professor Kahneman, who is also a Nobel laureate in economics. When you are wealthy you are able to buy more pleasures, he said, but a recent study suggests that wealthier people “seem to be less able to savor the small things in life.”

The (Extremely) Creative Ferment of James Franco

As the filmmakers raised money, Mr. Franco was able to prepare with his usual gusto: watching interviews, reading biographies, talking to experts, wearing the nerdy Ginsberg glasses (still available at Moscot in New York). His take — that the young poet was an eager communicator even as he was just discovering what he wanted to say — applies to his own path. And it’s clear on screen, where Mr. Franco vibrates with intellectual energy while recognizably laconic in his delivery. “I have joked that he’s a 21st-century beatnik,” Mr. Epstein said of Mr. Franco, “but he really does have that sensibility. He’s really interested and excited about experimentation and exploring the possibilities of how one can be an artist.”

We think of the presidency as somehow eternal and unchanging, a straight-line progression from 1 to 44, from the first to the latest. And in some respects it is. Except for George Washington, all of the presidents have lived in the White House. They’ve all taken the same oath to uphold the same constitution. But the modern presidency — Barack Obama’s presidency — has become a job of such gargantuan size, speed, and complexity as to be all but unrecognizable to most of the previous chief executives. The sheer growth of the federal government, the paralysis of Congress, the systemic corruption brought on by lobbying, the trivialization of the “news” by the media, the willful disregard for facts and truth — these forces have made today’s Washington a depressing and dysfunctional place. They have shaped and at times hobbled the presidency itself.

For much of the past half-century, the problems that have brought Washington to its current state have been concealed or made tolerable by other circumstances. The discipline of the Cold War kept certain kinds of debate within bounds. America’s artificial “last one standing” postwar economy allowed the country to ignore obvious signs of political and social decay. Wars and other military interventions provided ample distraction from matters of substance at home. Like many changes that are revolutionary, none of Washington’s problems happened overnight. But slow and steady change over many decades — at a rate barely noticeable while it’s happening — produces change that is transformative. In this instance, it’s the kind of evolution that happens inevitably to rich and powerful states, from imperial Rome to Victorian England. The neural network of money, politics, bureaucracy, and values becomes so tautly interconnected that no individual part can be touched or fixed without affecting the whole organism, which reacts defensively. And thus a new president, who was elected with 53 percent of the popular vote, and who began office with 80 percent public-approval ratings and large majorities in both houses of Congress, found himself for much of his first year in office in stalemate, pronounced an incipient failure, until the narrowest possible passage of a health-care bill made him a sudden success in the fickle view of the commentariat, whose opinion curdled again when Obama was unable, with a snap of the fingers or an outburst of anger, to stanch the BP oil spill overnight. And whose opinion spun around once more when he strong-armed BP into putting $20 billion aside to settle claims, and asserted presidential authority by replacing General Stanley McChrystal with General David Petraeus. The commentariat’s opinion will keep spinning with the wind.

Todd Purdum for Vanity Fair in Washington, We Have a Problem

(via kottke)

The best articles from the New York Times.

In Praise of Progress

David Brooks: Unemployment is high, and there’s suffering, but global poverty is at its lowest point in human history. Afghanistan is depressing, but there are fewer wars these days than ever before, mostly because a sharp drop in civil wars. In short, everything is better, or nearly everything, and I say that as someone typing with his thumbs while getting eaten alive by mosquitoes in the back yard.Gail

Collins: Wow, the lack of power has really cheered you up. I remember just a few months ago, you were practically suicidal over the toxic politics in Washington.

Building Smarter Machines

Synthetic speech, autonomous robots, computers beating the best humans at chess and checkers. As computers grow ever smarter, a look at developments in the field of artificial intelligence.

Hints of Earth Splash a Saturnian Moon Landscape

However, if prolonged spells of 90-degree temperatures have you yearning for a refreshing icy dip, there are still plenty of bathing opportunities on Titan.

Of course the lakes there are made of liquid methane — and the 90 degrees of temperature are on the Kelvin scale, near enough to absolute zero to challenge even the most cosmically adept polar bear. The atmosphere is nitrogen and methane.

Four Ways to Kill a Climate Bill

But efforts to genetically engineer algae, which usually means to splice in genes from other organisms, worry some experts because algae play a vital role in the environment. The single-celled photosynthetic organisms produce much of the oxygen on earth and are the base of the marine food chain.

“We are not saying don’t do this,” said Gerald H. Groenewold, director of the University of North Dakota’s Energy and Environmental Research Center, who is trying to organize a study of the risks. “We say do this with the knowledge of the implications and how to safeguard what you are doing.”

The Limits of the Coded World

In one set of experiments, researchers attached sensors to the parts of monkeys’ brains responsible for visual pattern recognition. The monkeys were then taught to respond to a cue by choosing to look at one of two patterns. Computers reading the sensors were able to register the decision a fraction of a second before the monkeys’ eyes turned to the pattern. As the monkeys were not deliberating, but rather reacting to visual stimuli, researchers were able to plausibly claim that the computer could successfully predict the monkeys’ reaction. In other words, the computer was reading the monkeys’ minds and knew before they did what their decision would be.

On the Origin of Species (Annotated Text)

Darwin packed this paragraph with all of the elements of the process of natural selection. The phrasing reflects his incomparable knowledge of natural history and his revolutionary new view of nature:

“…variations useful in some way…” – the words of a lifelong collector who appreciated that individual members of a species exhibited variability.

“…the great and complex battle of life…” – unlike his predecessors who viewed nature as a peaceful, harmoniously designed landscape painting, Darwin had observed that nature was a battlefield in which there was tremendous waste and death.

“…thousands of generations?” – Darwin’s grasp of time was critical, his knowledge of geology made him confident that the planet and life were much older than people had once thought, such that there was plenty of time for the process of natural selection to play out.

—Sean B. Carroll, molecular biologist and geneticist; and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of Wisconsin.

The Errors of Our Ways (Book Review)

Schulz begins with a question that should puzzle us more than it does: Why do we love being right? After all, she writes, “unlike many of life’s other delights — chocolate, surfing, kissing — it does not enjoy any mainline access to our biochemistry: to our appetites, our adrenal glands, our limbic systems, our swoony hearts.” Indeed, as she notes, “we can’t enjoy kissing just anyone, but we can relish being right about almost anything,” including that which we’d rather be wrong about, like “the downturn in the stock market, say, or the demise of a friend’s relationship or the fact that at our spouse’s insistence, we just spent 15 minutes schlepping our suitcase in exactly the opposite direction from our hotel.”

Take Ivy (Slideshow)

Time has done little to dim the allure of “Take Ivy,” with its guileless snapshots of handsome, fit and presumably bright young lugs disporting themselves in dining halls, on the College Green at Dartmouth, along Nassau Street in Princeton and in Harvard Yard. Credit: Teruyoshi H Girl

Pop’s Lady Gaga Makeover

Furthermore, the thing that most separates Lady Gaga from the bubblegum sirens of a decade ago is that her capacity for seduction has been neutered, recontextualized. Near the end of her recent Madison Square Garden show she emerged onstage with sparklerlike contraptions on her chest and crotch, spitting out tiny, angry, smoldering bits. “You tell them I burned the place!” she shouted. It was a straightforward repudiation of hypersexualized imagery. There was nowhere to touch without getting hurt.

Plus-Size Wars

Perhaps nowhere is the cultural confusion surrounding the larger woman more pronounced than in the clothing industry’s efforts to dress her. According to a 2008 survey conducted by Mintel, a market-research firm, the most frequently worn size in America is a 14. Government statistics show that 64 percent of American women are overweight (the average woman weighs 164.7 pounds). More than one-third are obese. Yet plus-size clothing (typically size 14 and above) represents only 18 percent of total revenue in the women’s clothing industry. The correlation between obesity and low income goes some way toward explaining the discrepancy — the recession was particularly hard on this segment of the market, with sales declining 10 percent between 2008 and 2009, a drop twice that of the women’s apparel industry over all — but it doesn’t explain it entirely. That figure has been fairly constant for the past 20 years.

Everybody’s a Critic of the Critics’ Rabid Critics

But then a second round of notices tarnished that luster. David Edelstein of New York magazine, Stephanie Zacharek of Movieline.com and Armond White, the reliably oppositional critic at The New York Press, published pans that ranged from frustrated to weary to vitriolic, decrying the rush to inscribe “Inception” in the pantheon of cinematic greatness. For their efforts these and other similarly unimpressed writers were treated like advocates for national health care at a Tea Party rally, their motives, their professionalism, their morals and their sanity questioned, and not always politely. What seemed to provoke the most ire was that these critics had shown the temerity to mention what other critics had written, and to respond to the aggressive marketing and the early effusions.

Facebook Is to Power Company as …

“I worry that we’ll end up with solutions that are familiar but not correct if we start from the wrong metaphor,” she said. “And I’m not sure there is a good metaphor for Facebook.”

Married, but Sleeping Alone

Technology is an even greater intrusion. Forget the tired debate about TV in the bedroom; how about your ex’s Twitter feed? Anyone who’s around teenage girls or techy men knows someone who checks e-mail, text messages or Facebook pages after turning out the light at night and before going to the bathroom in the morning.With all this commotion, it’s no wonder the bed has become such an unappealing place to sleep. Between whining kids, buzzing BlackBerrys, stacks of unpaid bills and overturned bottles of Evian and Ambien, the bedroom has become more crowded than the kitchen. If my house is any indication (“You get up early with the kids on Monday, I’ll move the car on Tuesday”), my bed needs its own Outlook calendar.

Link: China Now World’s NumberOne Energy Consumer

Regardless of the environment, it’s still their loss, it’ll become increasingly expensive to keep up that type of energy consumption in the next 100 years.

Yeah, well, I hate to say this, and some people might get very angry, but the American public is generally pretty superficial, so an image like that just allows them to project whatever limited idea they have onto it. Obviously, not everyone is like that—I actually think there were a lot of people who were bummed by the image because they felt it was shallow propaganda.

Shepard Fairey on his Obama poster.

This morning I was awoken by my alarm clock powered by electricity generated by the public power monopoly regulated by the US department of energy. I then took a shower in the clean water provided by the municipal water utility. After that, I turned on the TV to one of the FCC regulated channels to see what the national weather service of the national oceanographic and atmospheric administration determined the weather was going to be like using satellites designed, built, and launched by the national aeronautics and space administration. I watched this while eating my breakfast of US department of agriculture inspected food and taking the drugs which have been determined as safe by the food and drug administration.

At the appropriate time as regulated by the US congress and kept accurate by the national institute of standards and technology and the US naval observatory, I get into my national highway traffic safety administration approved automobile and set out to work on the roads build by the local, state, and federal departments of transportation, possibly stopping to purchase additional fuel of a quality level determined by the environmental protection agency, using legal tender issed by the federal reserve bank. On the way out the door I deposit any mail I have to be sent out via the US postal service and drop the kids off at the public school.

After spending another day not being maimed or killed at work thanks to the workplace regulations imposed by the department of labor and the occupational safety and health administration, enjoying another two meals which again do not kill me because of the USDA, I drive my NHTSA car back home on the DOT roads, to ny house which has not burned down in my absence because of the state and local building codes and fire marshal’s inspection, and which has not been plundered of all it’s valuables thanks to the local police department.

I then log on to the internet which was developed by the defense advanced research projects administration and post on freerepublic.com and fox news forums about how SOCIALISM in medicine is BAD because the government can’t do anything right.

(via kottke)

Party ID vs Voter Turnout