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Archive for October, 2007

"Are you sure this is the casino?"

[ 7 ] October 31, 2007 |

Goulet is out.

Islamo-fascists: Objectively Pro-Rudy

[ 9 ] October 30, 2007 |

Shorter Verbatim Delroy Murdoch:

As the War on Terror continues, Americans should study our foes’ political preferences — and then pull the lever the other way.

I’m not sure what else needs to be said here, except that Murdoch and Aaron Klein seem to believe informed citizens are less capable than “Islamo-fascists” at choosing American presidents.

It works just about as well in theory as in practice. Wallace Shawn demonstrates:

Tomorrow’s Contrarianism Today

[ 7 ] October 30, 2007 |

Just enough cowbell!

Since I often disagree with MY on aesthetics, I should note that I concur with his assessment of the widely-derided new Rilo Kiley album, which although being less “indie rock” than More Adventurous is almost as great song-for-song. And “Silver Lining” isn’t even my favorite cut on the album; the terrific straight disco “Breaking Up” and the epitome of the funky & poppy & catchy & sleazy vibe “Smoke Detector” are even higher peaks for me, and Lewis’s increasingly commanding vocals put some of the lesser tracks across. Even Blake’s track, normally a pissbreak, is pretty good. Terrific live show at the Bowery, too.

When You’re Insane, It’s Always 1938 and Iran is Capable of Conquering Europe by 2012

[ 20 ] October 30, 2007 |

To Rudy Giuliani’s foreign policy non-braintrust, it’s all Hitler all the time.

Stop the Madness

[ 0 ] October 30, 2007 |

What’s the new best way to stop your teenage daughter from becoming unpure by having pre-marital sex? Why, hold her down and forcibly pierce her genitalia of course! According to the Associated Press:

A woman who had her 13-year-old daughter’s genitalia pierced to make it uncomfortable for her to have sex was acquitted of aggravated child abuse on Thursday.

The girl, now 16, had testified that her mother asked a friend in 2004 to shave the girl’s head to make her unattractive to boys and later held her down for the piercing.

A jury deliberated for about three hours before deciding the mother’s actions didn’t involve punishment or malicious intent, or cause permanent damage or disfigurement.

So let me get this straight: genital mutilation in order to prevent teenage sexual expression is OK, but healthy teenage sexuality is not?* Boggles the mind.

(Via Grace)


Full disclosure: in this case, there are allegations that the girl was being molested by the mother’s boyfriend, sparking the mother’s response. Whether or not this is true, it doesn’t change the court outcome.

Anthony J. Kennedy’s Great Moments in Medical Practice

[ 0 ] October 30, 2007 |

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“While we find no reliable data to measure the phenomenon, it seems unexceptionable to conclude that some women shouldn’t worry their pretty little heads about manly medical treatment.”

Looking for information about Lurleen Wallace — George’s wife and briefly the proxy governor of Alabama when her husband was term-limited out — I found this:

She had made her gubernatorial run carrying a tragic secret. Lurleen Wallace had been diagnosed with cancer as early as April 1961, when her surgeon biopsied suspicious tissue he noticed during the cesarean delivery of her last child. As was common at the time, her physician told her husband, not her. George Wallace insisted that Lurleen not be informed. As a result, she did not get appropriate follow-up care. When she saw a gynecologist for abnormal bleeding in 1965, his diagnosis of uterine cancer came as a complete shock to her. When one of her husband’s staffers carelessly revealed to her that Wallace had discussed her cancer with them, but not her, during his 1962 campaign three years earlier, she was outraged.

In order to facilitate his plan to use her as a surrogate candidate in 1966, Mrs. Wallace cooperated with a campaign of dissimulation and misdirection as she began radiation therapy in December, 1965. This was followed by a hysterectomy in January 1966. Despite her ill health, Mrs. Wallace maintained a brutal campaign schedule throughout 1966 and gave a 24-minute speech — her longest ever — at her January 1967 inauguration.

Depressingly, Wallace’s political heirs have in addition to using federal spending power to deny women appropriate medical advice added such innovations as using state coercion to force doctors to give women psudeoscientific propaganda and restricting their access to safe medical services.

James and the Red Sox

[ 0 ] October 30, 2007 |

Since I’ve been a fan since I purchased the 1985 Baseball Abstract on a whim and among other great stuff saw that he published a hilarious attack on bane-of-my-youthful-Expos-fan-existence Bill Virdon, I enjoyed this take on James and the success of the Red Sox:

One of the first things Epstein did was to hire James, as a senior consultant to the Red Sox organization. In the four years since, the Red Sox, who hadn’t won a World Series in 85 years, have reached baseball’s pinnacle twice.

Some of the central themes of James’ work apply particularly well to his own story. For example: An expert is someone who knows what he’s talking about, whether he has any credentials or not. Past performance is the best predictor of future performance. Talent is not in short supply. The qualities that impress people are not necessarily the same qualities that correlate with success. Powerful, wealthy institutions can be run for decades by people who don’t know what they’re doing. And the conventional wisdom is often wrong.

These ideas, obviously, can be applied far beyond the subject of baseball. They’re the sorts of ideas that never fail to annoy and infuriate authority figures, which is why it takes a special kind of person to hurl himself into the face of the solid rock wall of stupidity that defends many a comfortable social institution.

I’ve written this with respect to Billy Beane, but I think the work of James and the success of the A’s and Red Sox is often portrayed as being about “statistics” when it’s much more about not accepting received wisdom when it conflicts with evidence, making evaluations based on performance rather than images, etc. Michael Lewis actually conveyed this every well. Alas, MLB seems to be making more progress than our political class.

One unfortunate thing about James working for the Red Sox, though, is that if he could make his new research public he’d be a blogging natural…

Speaking of Sicko & Healthcare

[ 44 ] October 30, 2007 |

Among the many, many disturbing moments in Sicko (and there were many), of the most enraging for me was among the least graphic: the moment when Moore indicates, with thought bubble-like images, how much money each of several elected officials has taken from the healthcare industry. The very same industry that profits from keeping people as far away from adequate health care as possible. The bottom line is that a lot of people have taken a lot of money, not the least of which is Hilary Clinton.

Which is why I was not at all surprised (though again, disappointed), to see in yesterday’s Times that Hilary is certainly not the only one in the Democratic presidential field to be taking money from the insurers and pharmaceutical companies with one hand while holding sick babies and promising universal single payer healthcare with the other, though she has amassed the most.

According to the Times article (source of this graphic):

Mrs. Clinton received $2.7 million through the end of September, far more than Mitt Romney, the Republican who raised the most from the health care industry, with $1.6 million. The industry’s drift in contributions toward Democratic candidates mirrors wider trends among donors, but the donations from this sector are particularly notable because of the party’s focus on overhauling the health care system.

Among all the candidates in both political parties, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois is the No. 2 recipient of donations from the health care industry, having raised about $2.2 million, according to campaign finance records.

I want to choose a democratic candidate and wholeheartedly throw my support behind her or him. But with figures like this, whose campaign promises of a healthier America can I take to the bank?

"Columbia’s Gone!"

[ 5 ] October 29, 2007 |

Although I have yet to overcome my bitterness over the bulk of BSG season 3, I must admit that I’m looking forward to Razor, and that the flashbacks (especially #3) are pretty cool.

Hey, My Wife Can Get An Abortion, So Screw Roe!

[ 22 ] October 29, 2007 |

Shorter abortion centrists: Me me me me me me me me me me!

Longtime readers will know that this has been one of my pet peeves for a long time, but Dana is of course exactly correct. The idea that California women should be indifferent about abortion rights as long as they have theirs is useful only as a window into the solipsism some pundits project onto others. It’s like saying that African Americans in northern states in the 1950s should have been indifferent to federal civil rights because, after all, they didn’t have to live under apartheid! And the analogy should make clear, again, that the “moral federalism” position is just evading the issue; it’s another way of saying that you don’t consider the right in question to be important. If that’s your position, you should defend it on the merits rather than hiding behind “states’ rights” principles virtually nobody applies consistently.

…Cara has more.

New Fields of Concern Trolldom

[ 4 ] October 29, 2007 |

When I read about the sure-to-be-atrocious series by Melinda Henneberger trying to infer something meaningful about candidates for president by using tarot cards horoscopes random anecdotes about their marriages, the name sounded familiar. So I looked, and sure enough I first heard about Henneberger because she’s a classic “Democratic” abortion concern troll, arguing that the Democrats have to embrace her own support for arbitrary regulations forcing young women to carry their pregnancies to term, without bothering to make either an argument for her positions on the merits or to even to articulate her actual positions (let alone providing any non-anecdotal evidence that her strategy will have significant political benefits.) Goody.

So, anyway, If we were selecting a national marriage counselor rather than a president, this might be useful. I think it’s safe to assume that we’ll learn from her pop-psych analysis that the candidates Henneberger likes are good and the ones she doesn’t like are bad. I’m sure it will be fascinating.

Confessions of an Opium-Eater

[ 15 ] October 29, 2007 |

If you’re like me, Conservapedia had you at “Kangaroo.” Now, though, you can’t stop reading the site’s ongoing debate about the merits of colonialism, you appreciate its warnings about how teh gays might kill you, and — most of all — you’re grateful for their helpful one-line summaries of Adam Sandler films like Big Daddy.

Sadly, though, the world’s premier online encyclopedia now leaves you strangely unsatisfied by day’s end. Even the site’s entry on Barack Obama — though steeped in God’s own bongwater — can only bring a smirk to the lips (e.g., “Senator Barack Obama’s political views have been a matter of controversy even before he put himself forward as a Presidential Candidate. Former House Majority leader Tom DeLay has described Obama’s record in the Illinois Senate as that of a “Marxist leftist.”)

Fortunately, a number of renowned citizen journamalists — including Lorie Byrd, Bob Owens, and Kim Priestap — have stepped in to fill the void with Circle Jerk 2.0 Media Mythbusters, a wiki site with modest aims:

To be the Internet source [sic] of comprehensive facts and links chronicling major journalism’s treatment of certain stories in which questions have arisen regarding facts or methods of reporting. These treatments of news events by major media have direct and significant impact upon public opinion and upon policymakers. Careful consideration of the way these stories were handled by the media is essential to both a well informed public and policy, and are [sic] intended to contribute to a more reliable and responsible major media desired and needed by all. The goal of this site is to be a reliable resource, accessible to all, to provide news consumers with a tool and information to allow them to determine how best to process information they receive through major media outlets.

The group’s “mission statement” is also rich with insight:

It’s difficult enough to prove medical malpractice, given the infinite variety of humans and their reactions to varying treatments, the range of acceptable medical practices, and the difficulties of gathering evidence. It’s even more difficult with respect to the media. The added difficulty is because [sic] journalism is much less a well-defined and regulated profession than medicine. So, the standards and their application is [sic] less precise and the enforcement of standards lacks an authoritative body. Nonetheless, journalism and its major practitioners have developed and propounded standards that, for the most part, are fairly comprehensive and tried. It is against those standards, journalism’s own, that we measure [sic]. It is also usually more important that we pay more attention than we have to media malpractice. While medical malpractice may affect just one, or thousands, media malpractice affects many millions of media users, and many millions – if not billions – more of earth’s inhabitants whose governance, security, economic advancement, and freedoms (or opportunities for those) is [sic] affected.

I, too, have always believed the accumulated sins of Matt Lauer and Stephen Glass to be of significantly greater public interest than medical malpractice, which my president has told me is really not a problem to begin with. A trip to the hospital might leave you with a deadly staph infection, or your doctor might amputate the wrong leg, but — unlike our media — America’s health care professionals will never stab the nation in the back.

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