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Archive for March, 2010

Like Your Great-Grandmother, We’re Now on Facebook

[ 2 ] March 15, 2010 |

Because a webpage isn’t even really a webpage if there isn’t a webpage about the webpage… Includes actual new content!


What if Iran Got the Bomb Redux

[ 6 ] March 15, 2010 |

Y’know, the idea that there are meaningful similarities between the rhetoric used to describe the Chinese nuclear program in the 1960s and the Iranian nuclear program of the last decade is kind of interesting… or at least it was six months ago, when I wrote about it at Foreign Policy. Just sayin’.

I Do Not Think That Word Means What You Think It Means.

[ 11 ] March 15, 2010 |

I’ve been thinking this weekend about Gary Solis’ WAPO op-ed of Friday about CIA drone pilots being unlawful combatants – unlike drone pilots serving in the US armed forces who may arguably be violating the laws of war but at least have the right under international law to engage in combat:

In terms of international armed conflict, those CIA agents are, unlike their military counterparts but like the fighters they target, unlawful combatants. No less than their insurgent targets, they are fighters without uniforms or insignia, directly participating in hostilities, employing armed force contrary to the laws and customs of war. Even if they are sitting in Langley, the CIA pilots are civilians violating the requirement of distinction, a core concept of armed conflict, as they directly participate in hostilities.

Moreover, CIA civilian personnel who repeatedly and directly participate in hostilities may have what recent guidance from the International Committee of the Red Cross terms “a continuous combat function.” That status, the ICRC guidance says, makes them legitimate targets whenever and wherever they may be found, including Langley.

I agree with his first point, but I think he is misreading the meaning of “continuous combat function.” And in so doing Solis makes a common conceptual error: conflating the lawfulness of combatancy with the legitimacy of targets.
Read more…

Unexceptional American Exceptionalism?

[ 6 ] March 15, 2010 |

On American Exceptionalism:

Contrarianism I Can Believe In

[ 32 ] March 15, 2010 |

To join Rob in betraying this site’s long-standing trend of disagreement with Will Saletan, allow me to endorse pretty much all of this, in particular the idea that at some point there’s not much point to be a legislator if you’re not going to pass important legislation.

Meanwhile, I don’t have time to give this hand-waving on behalf of Dennis Kucinich the detailed critique it doesn’t really merit anyway, but to raise the most obvious points: 1)if there’s an argument to be made on behalf of the proposition that the inclusion of a public option that you concede to be so watered-down as to be trivial should be a deal-breaker, at some point you should probably make it, 2)voting against legislation that improves on the status quo doesn’t count as standing on principle unless there’s some reason to believe that voting the legislation down would do something to accomplish something better, which pretty clearly isn’t the case here, and 3)I’d love to see a list of those states that are allegedly on the verge of passing single payer.

The “Some Legislator Somewhere” Gambit

[ 9 ] March 15, 2010 |

You may be wondering where the “Obama is coming for your salt!” idea comes from.    (Other than pure derangement, I mean.)   Apparently, it’s a product of one of the oldest gambits in the hack’s playbook: “forgetting” that in the American system of government any individual legislator can introduce legislation, and then citing isolated proposals with no support as representative of something.  

Falling for some rube-running by a local Fox affiliate, Col. Mustard lets us in on the great salt-banning conspiracy.   Let us examine an exhaustive list of the powerful figures behind this inexorable legislative freight train:

…a Democratic New York Assemblyman

But don’t kid yourself: the fact that one assemblyman proposed an idiotic law that has as much chance of passing as Rush Limbaugh has of being the Green Party’s candidate for president in 2012 means that the federal government is about to ban salt. It’s a very slippery slope! Why, we don’t even have Obamacare yet, and I hear rumors that there’s an large, well-funded movement dedicated to having government bureaucrats force women to carry pregnancies to term…

“Joey, Have You Ever Been in a Turkish Prison?”

[ 5 ] March 14, 2010 |

Peter Graves has passed. Sad day…

Sunday Geek Blogging

[ 4 ] March 14, 2010 |

Happy Pi Day!

Which of the following images that appeared in Google Reader today makes more sense?

[ 27 ] March 14, 2010 |

Would it be the latest Obama Nation comic by James Hudnall and Batton Lash:

Read more…

FAQ Update

[ 15 ] March 14, 2010 |

This seems like an appropriate time to repost and update our FAQ: Read more…

Gender Cues, Babies, and the UK

[ 24 ] March 14, 2010 |

As many of you may know, the University of Kentucky’s colors are blue and white. As you can see, the women’s basketball team at UK wears blue and white:

The women’s uniform in the UK cheerleading squad is also blue and white:

And yet, when I look for UK onesies:

Obviously, I can buy blue onesies for Elisha and Miriam; I have no compunctions against dressing them in blue. I’ll admit, though, that I’m a touch bothered that pink onesies are even an option.  One thing that I never understood before having children was the obsession with gender identification. Because babies pretty much all look alike, gender can only be identified by their clothing.  It is extremely common for people to assume that either Elisha or Miriam or both are boys because of the way we dress them; indeed, some family members have expressed hostility at our gender neutral clothing choices.  People don’t seem to have schemata for dealing with situations of gender ambiguity, even in relations with babies.

Even in the context, however, I find the availability of UK onesies irritating.  Sure enough, people are going to assume that your girl is a boy if you put her in a blue onesie (although I suppose you could tie a ribbon in her hair or something).  And the solution to that is… buy products that don’t actually reflect UK women’s team colors, and that seem to assume a supporting rather than a participatory role?  Nobody on campus wears pink with the UK logo; everyone wears blue.  But your girl baby needs pink, because otherwise somebody might mistake her for a baby boy, and then who knows?  She might grow up to be a lesbian or something…


[ 20 ] March 13, 2010 |

Query: Could Johnny Damon be the first 3000 hit player to miss the Hall of Fame? Of course, this excludes the obvious problems (Rose, Palmeiro), and assumes that Biggio will make it… Damon is currently 36, and has 2425 hits. It’s not at all difficult to imagine that he could play for four more years and collect his 3000th hit without substantially improving his candidacy. Baseball Reference lists Damon’s HoF Monitor at 78 (100 is the average HoFer), and HoF standard at 38 (50 is average). Damon has played for the Red Sox and the Yankees, but I don’t think that he’s ever been perceived as much more than he is; a good, valuable baseball player who falls short of greatness.

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