Ironically, with the recent retirement of the staggeringly great and effectively named Mario Lemieux, I was wondering what had ever happened to Rick Tocchet, an important cog in the great Penguins teams of the 90s. Well, now I know. It doesn’t sound like anybody bet on hockey, but still, the consistent linkage of “Wayne Gretzky,” “gambling,” and “the Jersey mob” cannot be good for the sport. (I wonder if “Operation Slap Shot” will become a plotline in The Sopranos?)
Julia of Sisyphus Shrugged will be taking a much-needed blog vacation for a few days, and hence occupying her blog in the meantime will be a passel of all-star bloggers, and I will be posting there as well. I’ll still be around these parts too, but definitely worth checking out as always.
Seeing this post reminded me that I’ve been meaning to link to Ampersand’s exhaustive decimation of yet another study that starts with assumptions about weight loss being the object (rather than a potential aesthetic side effect) of healthy dieting and exercise, and because of this makes a series of pernicious snake oil claims that aren’t supported by the data. Weight, as an independent variable, has a small impact on health in all but extreme cases, and the failure to understand this produces all kinds of distortions. Some of his conclusions are particularly worthy of notice:
* But by claiming that losing weight has been scientifically proven to be both practical and easy, they’re legitimizing bigotry against fat people, by spreading the myth that the only reason anyone remains fat is laziness and lack of caring.
* By pushing weight-loss methods that have been scientifically shown, according to the studies they themselves cite, to not work in the long term, they’re encouraging yo-yo dieting, which has terrible health consequences.
* By making weight their only measure of health, they’re obscuring the fact that eating well and exercising regularly has enormous, maintainable, long-term benefits for fat people regardless of if any weight is lost.
* By making weight their only measure of health, they’re obscuring the fact that being “normal” weight is no guarantee of good health; health-concerned “normal” people need to eat a healthy diet and exercise, too.
All of these points are extremely important. The conflation of weight and health is bad, first of all, because it’s utterly ineffective at encouraging lifestyle changes. People who aren’t overweight will believe there’s no harm in eating bad diets and/or being sedentary, and overweight people are likely to abandon salutary lifestyle changes when they discover that, in most cases, the radical transformation of their bodies they’ve been promised doesn’t occur. But it’s much worse than that. The conflation of health and weight creates all kinds extremely bad outcomes–not just yo-yo dieting, but eating disorders, grossly unbalanced fad diets, social isolation, cocktails of speed and laxatives, etc. etc.–that are far, far worse than not doing anything at all. Eating a good diet and getting consistent exercise are good and should be encouraged, full stop. Claiming that a particular body type, rather than health, is the ultimate object of these lifestyle choices is both empirically fallacious and obviously counterproductive.
Mr. Chris Muir, author of the faux-hipster poor man’s Mallard Fillmore. Again, the only “twisting of King’s legacy” is being done by conservatives engaged, in Steve‘s phrase, as “part of a conservative shell game to claim the legacy of Martin Luther King, by denuding every bit of the radical nature of his message and tying it to some bland form of equality.” Amanda invites people to make funny out of painfully unfunny-ade.
(Parody by the great Norbizness.)
"Well, I once skimmed a Tech Central Station Article about Indians and ecology, so I think my insights have a great deal of validity."
Brad DeLong plays Marshall McLuhan to Jonah Goldberg’s pompous windbag.
…Jonah’s WWII history is about equally strong.
Given the way that many people will attempt to “Wellstone” the funeral of Coretta Scott King, it’s worth nothing that the Wellstone meme itself is based on on a series of lies. The objectionable “politicization” of the Wellstone funeral was the way in which many people who despised everything Wellstone stood for distorted it for nakedly political ends.
And, of course, as Eric points out there’s also a staggering degree of presumptuousness involved in other people telling her family and friends what kind of funeral they should have. But we know what’s going on; in addition to the obvious, it’s also part of an ongoing enterprise by complacent reactionaries like Glenn Reynolds to retroactively strip the Kings and the civil rights movement of any political content. Just appalling.
…Dave Johnson has a good roundup of the various swiftboaters. Particularly precious is seeing the reaction of Michelle “Our Blessed Lady of the Concentration Camps” Malkin. Lesse, CSK’s friends and supporters saying things consistent with her beliefs (and that her family hasn’t objected to) is “twisting her legacy” and “unhinged,” but writing a sixth-rate book arguing in favor of stripping people of their property and shipping them to concentration camps solely because of their race, now that’s what the Civil Rights movement fought for! What a disgrace.
Nick has called me out. That was quick…
Elsewhere, I must respectfully dissent from Robert Farley’s faint praise for Rumsfeld’s effectiveness at the Defense Department. His utter contempt for post-war contingency planning has left an insufficient number of soldiers in harm’s way with insufficient body armor or armored Humvees. The Military Police still don’t get enough respect to match their efforts in Iraq. Meanwhile, despite the obvious importance of the Army and Marines, procurement plans for the expensive F22 fighter and DD(X) destroyer go unchecked. I’m all for a strong defense, but I think we’ll have enough lead time to build new ships and planes should China suddenly get very bellicose. I Eeven the small things have gone wrong; DARPA has moved away from longer-term, blue sky research towards short-term work for defense contractors. The DoD continues to fight increases in pay and surivor benefits. And so on, and so on.
A couple of points to be made:
First, I didn’t (and didn’t intend to) defend Rumsfeld’s handling of the Iraq War. This is, and will in the future, be the central measure of his tenure, and he has failed utterly and repeatedly to handle the war in an effective fashion.
As for the DD(X), it replaced a previous advanced design that projected the construction of 32 ships. In 2001, the expectation was that 12 ships would be built. Now, the projection is 7, and there are serious questions as to whether more than the initial 2 will ever be constructed. This is hardly a vision of a program gone “unchecked”. Now, it could be reasonably argued that Rumsfeld has not played a crucial role in reducing the DD(X) program, but it can also be argued that he hasn’t pushed very hard for it. A similar story could be told about the F-22. The Clinton administration expectation for F-22 production was 339 aircraft. That number is now 183, and again may drop.
Now, it could be argued that Rumsfeld should have done a better job of killing these two programs, but is that terribly realistic? The Secretary of Defense is not an autocrat. He cannot simply kill defense programs. The services want the DD(X) and the F-22 badly. Their supporters in Congress want the DD(X) and the F-22 badly. Let’s not have unreasonable expectations about the capacity of a SecDef to do this job. Killing those programs is simply not on the table, at least not thus far.
On the question of pay and survivor benefits, I do not know enough about them to be able to comment usefully on the appropriateness of those critiques. It’s certainly possible that survivor benefits are too low, and that Rumsfeld is responsible. On the other hand, survivors will invariably request higher benefits, and Departments of Defense will invariably oppose such requests. This process does not necessarily indicate anything about competence. The question of pay is quite similar, except that it’s even more complicated. There are a fair number of people who argue that no military pay gap exists, or at least that other benefits (material and social) make up for that gap. In any case, the debate over military pay began in the 1990s, prior to Rumsfeld’s tenure.
A couple of final points: Nick argues that the Pentagon has erred in focusing more money toward short-term research projects, but it’s not clear to me that this is a mistake, given that the US is currently engaged in a couple of wars. Also, I am not nearly as willing as Nick to believe that the elimination of position of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict is a bad thing; the elimination of a bureaucratic layer does not necessarily reflect a lack of interest in that project. AG says:
Here we have Rumsfeld pissed off at his SO/LIC policy office. For what, it’s hard to say, because USSOCOM is one of his favorite children. If I had to guess, I’d say that the ASD(SO/LIC) office has screwed the pooch in their failed attempts to come up with a successful combating terrorism strategy. Combined with the lack of ability to manage a counterinsurgency campaign in the Middle East and inability to articulate a combating WMD terrorism policy, maybe he lost patience and told The Dark Prince (Cambone) to fix it.
Really too interesting. Of course, the real funny stuff is that Rummie thinks he can imperially wave his hand and make this office disappear without Congress raising the issue with him.
Indeed, I find it very difficult to believe that Rummy has given up his infatuation with special ops or his more recent interest in low intensity operations. Again, I can’t argue conclusively that this is a good idea, but I can’t conclude that it’s a bad one, either.
This year, it looks as if the Reds will trot out the worst defensive center fielder in baseball. He will be accompanied by the worst defensive right fielder in baseball. Fortunately, the Red also have terrible pitching and play in a hitters park, so it’s not as if I’ll notice.
Came across this graphic while reading the QDR (this does not mean I’m being productive; it’s easier than working on my article), and thought it was kind of nifty.
It’s interesting and, I think, largely accurate. I do wonder how far the Rumsfeld Defense Department has pushed toward the upper right quadrant; not terribly far, I’m inclined to think.
Something to remember, though, when you read the QDR or spend time with Defense Department professionals (there were a few a Wilton Park) is that these people are, well, professional. Regardless of their ideological preferences, the people who work at Defense tend to be good at what they do, and it’s hard not to respect competence. The Rumsfeld DoD will be historically interesting, because there is no question that Rumsfeld is leaving a very large footprint. I suspect that Rummy was perhaps the wrong Secretary at the wrong time; his handling of the Iraq War is almost criminally inept, but his energy and focus have pushed DoD in the right direction in other areas. Making the Pentagon move is an onerous and difficult task, and Rummy should not be subject to too much criticism for his inability to force the services to accept new missions and new priorities. Certainly, one of his enduring accomplishments will be bringing the brass to heel after the borderline insubordination that became common in the Clinton years.
And that’s the LGM “Kind word about a Bush appointee” for 2006. Come back for another in 2007.
FMGuru points us to this:
Yours truly thinks the “intelligent design” idea is being given the short shrift by the mainstream media. Yes, some intelligent design advocates want to use I.D. as a Trojan horse to put religious doctrine into public schools — forbidden by the First Amendment, and wisely so in the opinion of this churchgoer. And some intelligent design advocates believe young Earth creationism, a nutty idea for which there isn’t one iota of scientific evidence. But as they mock the notion of intelligent design, the mainstream media are systematically avoiding a substantial question mark in evolutionary theory: it does not explain the origin of life. That organisms evolve in response to changes in their environment is well-established — anyone who doubts this doesn’t know what he or she is talking about. But why are there living things in the first place? Darwin said he had no idea, and to this day science has little beyond wild guesses about the origin of life. Maybe life had a natural origin that one day will be discovered. Until such time, higher powers or the divine cannot be ruled out. Exactly because I think intelligent design is a more important concept than the mainstream media will admit, I really wish right-wing screwballs would stop advocating I.D. — they’re giving the idea a bad name!
Where to start? First, it’s kind of hard for me to imagine how to define the “mainstream media” such that it doesn’t include Greg Easterbrook; he’s not exactly spent his career on the fringe. Nor, it should be said, can he compellingly argue that intelligent design hasn’t been treated more than fairly by the New York Times and similar organizations.
But the much bigger issue appears to be Easterbrook’s basic ignorance as to the foundation of the intelligent design movement. Saying that the right-wing screwballs are the problem with the ID movement is kind of like saying that the Republicans are the problem with the Republican Party; true, but irrelevant. There is no compelling need for a movement to argue what Easterbrook wants to argue, which is that the scientific record has gaps. Scientists themselves are more than aware of this, and most of them (along with, I think, a substantial percentage of the general population) accept that scientific and theological conceptions need not (and indeed, cannot) wholly contradict one another.
You don’t need a political machine like the one that invented ID to make the above point. The purpose of ID, which the movement craftily gives away in its name, is to indicate the necessity, rather than the possibility, of an intelligent creator. Moreover, Easterbrook seems not to understand (perhaps he simply has not made the connection) that for a scientist to assert an unknowable cause not susceptible to investigation (which is what an intelligent creator is) is to reject science.