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Speed Reading

[ 27 ] February 2, 2008 |

This is from a while back, but for folks who might be interested in learning how to read a book in about an hour, this fellow claims to have mastered the technique. It basically involves working a lot with the index, reading the intro and conclusion, and calling it a day. The main caveat seems to be that this works well only for scholarly books, particularly the social sciences. It also won’t work — or so we’re told — with books that aren’t very good.

Also, the author offers this tantalizing bit of information in the comments:

good lord if ya’ll are digusted by this, wait ‘til I tell you how I teach the students to grade their own papers. I can’t even remember the last time I read a student’s paper.

I. Am. All. Ears.

(Via Jonathan Sterne)

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Guaranteed to Bring Some Warmth to Even the Hardest of Hearts and the Direst of Patriots Fans

[ 18 ] February 1, 2008 |

I think that 2 sports-related posts in a single day is a record for me.

Anyway, via commenter Humboldt Blue, an article about the injured Iraq War vet who has inspired the Giants this season and who has become virtually a part of their coaching staff. I double dog dare you to read it and not at least have a tiny tinge of Giants support surge through you.

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H & L Revisited

[ 0 ] February 1, 2008 |

In the interests of balance, this is pretty appalling. I wasn’t at all bothered by Obama’s invocations of Reagan; I’m sure that virtually every politician elected since 1986 has said something nice about the Gip at some point. But using what amounts to a facsimile of the 1994 anti-health care ad is pretty twitchy. Are we going to see this next?

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Getting Ready for the big Game

[ 9 ] February 1, 2008 |

explanation here.

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One Endorsement She Shouldn’t Accept

[ 12 ] February 1, 2008 |

Apparently, Ann Coulter thinks Hillary Clinton is more conservative than John McCain, and will endorse and campaign for Clinton if McCain is the GOP nominee. I kid you not. Evidence below:

Now, if I were one of Hillary’s advisors, I would say NO to that endorsement and offer of “help.”

In other endorsement news, MoveOn today endorsed Barack Obama. Of course, the GOP is already trying to use the endorsement against him.

Nice study in contrasts, eh?

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Today In Spurious Media Bias Accusations

[ 0 ] February 1, 2008 |

The thing is, it’s not hard to find plenty of examples of anti-Clinton bias on the part of the EMM – ESS – EMM. However, the Times not trumpeting Clinton’s “victory” in the Pajamas Media Straw Poll Florida non-primary really isn’t the example you want to go with, unless you’re outraged that the Times didn’t put the Tigers’s stirring 2007 Grapefruit League victory above the fold of the sports page. Jarvis also claims that the DNC’s decision was “unconstitutional.” While I agree that the draconian actions against Florida and Michigan were excessive, I must admit that I’m unaware of the constitutional provision that requires parties to seat delegates for their conventions irrespective of whether or not states follow their procedures. (Maybe it’s the same super-secret provision the Court relied on in Bush v. Gore.) And to once again point out the obvious, going along with the farcical spin of the Clinton campaign and pretending that a non-election was an election does not retroactively enfranchise Florida voters.

I would make fun of the Treason In Defense of Slavery Yankee’s arguments Roy also flags except that I don’t even understand them.

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A Momentary Lapse of Hegemonic Decline

[ 7 ] February 1, 2008 |

The Parag Khanna excerpt continues to produce some interesting discussion. Yglesias:

In 1945-46 the U.S. economy completely dominated the world, contributing some absurdly high share of total output. Every other significant country on earth had been completely destroyed by war, and we had a monopoly on nuclear weapons. Over time, this dominant position unraveled.

To which Drezner replies:

Yglesias is completely correct that the U.S. had nowhere to go but down after 1945 — a year in which we had the nuclear monopoly and were responsible for 50% of global economic output. Nevertheless, the U.S. resurgence in the nineties was not an illusion. The simple fact is that all of the potential peer competitors to the United States — Germany, Japan and the USSR — either stagnated or broke apart. At the same time, U.S. GDP and productivity growth surged. The revival of U.S. relative power was not a mirage.

This is a good point, and one that’s probably not mentioned enough. The story of how the neoconservative position on American hegemony developed in the 1970s and 1980s should be familiar by now, but the impact of the relative economic growth during the 1990s has probably been under-studied. In 1990 it wasn’t uncommon to see arguments that Japan and a Germany-driven Europe would be the premier world economic actors by, well, now. By 1995 this position was no longer tenable; setting the collapse of the USSR aside for a moment, the Japanese and German economies both stagnated while relatively fast US growth resumed. This was a situation which hegemonic-stability theorists in the 1970s didn’t foresee, and it probably goes some distance towards explaining how theories of American exceptionalism and consequently of the necessity of strong American hegemony became popular in the mid-1990s.

To put it another way, the ideas behind Kristol and Kagan’s 1996 Foreign Affairs article Towards a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy have a long history, but relative American economic strength in 1996 made them plausible and attractive to a larger audience.

Cross-posted to TAPPED.

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[ 0 ] February 1, 2008 |


Friday Cat Blogging… Nelson and Starbuck

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Bar-None Most Misleading Headline of the Week

[ 0 ] February 1, 2008 |

This one from the NY Times:

Tainted Drugs Tied to Maker of Abortion Pill

Based on that headline, you’d think all the company does is make abortion pills, and that it was those abortion pills (AKA RU-486) that were tainted.

But no. Here’s the article lede:

A huge state-owned Chinese pharmaceutical company that exports to dozens of countries, including the United States, is at the center of a nationwide drug scandal after nearly 200 Chinese cancer patients were paralyzed or otherwise harmed last summer by contaminated leukemia drugs.

Yes, it’s true that the company is the sole supplier of RU-486 to the U.S., but that drug is made in a totally different factory than the tainted leukemia drug. And I’d of course support stricter quality standards in all of that company’s plants. But this article is actually not at all about mifepristone/RU-486.

Is the Times really that desperate for circulation that it’s willing to use the specter of abortion scare tactic to drive online readership up? Sheesh.

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Assrocket Agonistes

[ 16 ] February 1, 2008 |

Hinderaker writes:

Mitt Romney unleashed the N-word on John McCain today, accusing him of using campaign tactics “reminiscent of the Nixon era.” “I don’t think I want to see our party go back to that kind of campaigning,” Romney said. He was referring to McCain’s misleading charge that Romney, like Congressional Democrats, had advocated a timetable for withdrawing from Iraq.

I agree with Romney’s complaint about McCain’s attack, but I’m not sure the Nixon comparison is apt. My recollection of Nixon’s career is that he was at least as often the target as the perpetrator of unfair attacks. For example, it’s hard to think of a charge made in the midst of a Presidential campaign more misleading than John Kennedy’s invocation of a fictitious “missile gap” with its attendant implication that Nixon was soft on Communism.

Oh, for the love of — the missile gap? Are you shitting me? Kennedy’s dishonesty on this issue is hardly a settled matter among historians; he certainly accepted estimates of Soviet capacity (from Eisenhower’s own Air Force) that turned out later to be exaggerated, and he didn’t allow competing data from the CIA to alter his campaign message, but no one who isn’t a desperate Nixon apologist would argue that Kennedy’s use of the issue was remotely “Nixonian.” To at least his mild credit, Kennedy later acknowledged that he’d overplayed the issue.

By contrast, Tricky Dick — a man pathologically incapable of remorse — was one of the greatest fabricators and demagogues ever to compete for American political office. Forget Donald Segretti’s successful rat-fucking of the 1972 Muskie campaign, or the Gemstone project that led directly to the Watergate burglary, or any of the rest of it. Let’s just recall Nixon’s inaugural campaigns for the House (1946) and Senate (1950), both of which were abjectly dishonest — and, in the latter race against Helen Douglas, misogynist — operations that founded and set the tone for his career.

In the ’46 campaign, Nixon ended Jerry Voorhis’ career after five terms in the House by claiming that Voorhis had accepted the endorsement of a “communist” group (CIO-PAC) that he had in fact rejected. Nixon repeated the lie at every turn, though, including at one of their debates, where he waved a piece of paper that was supposed to have furnished “proof” of the endorsement. It didn’t — the endorsement had been offered by a completely unrelated organization. The truth of the matter (which Nixon knew) did nothing to deter him, and he won the race. Four years later, after delivering Alger Hiss’ head on a platter to the anti-communist right, Nixon smeared his way into the Senate by duplicating the venality his 1946 campaign. This time, Helen Douglas was the target. Nixon deliberately distorted her voting record to bolster false accusations about Douglas’ “fellow traveler” sympathies; he famously described her as being “pink right down to her underwear”; and he pursued an anti-Semitic whisper campaign to remind voters that Douglas’ husband was Jewish. The vote in November 1950 wasn’t even close.

It takes a special kind of hack to diminish Nixon’s legacy to the point at which he seems to have peers. But I suppose that’s why blogs like Powerline exist.

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"Heh, how does Iron Man go to the bathroom?"

[ 1 ] January 31, 2008 |

This may be Mr. Duss’ finest work.

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LBJ: The Civil Rights President

[ 0 ] January 31, 2008 |

I was happy to see Ted Kennedy endorse Barack Obama, but he apparently did it in at least some measure for a silly reason:

There’s more to Sen. Edward Kennedy’s endorsement of Barack Obama than meets the eye. Apparently, part of the reason why the liberal lion from Massachusetts embraced Obama was because of a perceived slight at the Kennedy family’s civil rights legacy by the other Democratic presidential primary frontrunner, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).

Sources say Kennedy was privately furious at Clinton for her praise of President Lyndon Baines Johnson for getting the 1964 Civil Rights Act accomplished. Jealously guarding the legacy of the Kennedy family dynasty, Senator Kennedy felt Clinton’s LBJ comments were an implicit slight of his brother, President John F. Kennedy, who first proposed the landmark civil rights initiative in a famous televised civil rights address in June 1963.

One anonymous source described Kennedy as having a “meltdown” in reaction to Clinton’s comments. Another source close to the Kennedy family says Senator Kennedy was upset about two instances that occurred on a single day of campaigning in New Hampshire on Jan. 7, a day before the state’s primary.

I suppose the fact that he’s related to JFK gives him marginally more of an excuse to defend his brother’s legacy, but the fact is that JFK consistently dragged his feet on civil rights while LBJ actually got the two most important pieces of civil rights legislation since Reconstruction passed. Clinton’s comments were not only unexceptionable but obviously correct.

…commenters are correct to note that the sourcing on this isn’t exactly airtight.

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