Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Surely there is a Conor Friedersdorf joke to be made here somewhere

But if Henke and Ruffini is all you can bring, bring it.

(h/t, not that they intended it: Atwood and Spolsky)


Henke and Ruffini?       Friedersdorf?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Wait, Karl Rove's secretly funded PAC was caught lying? Again?

No one could have predicted that Crossroads GPS would earn another one of these:

Now they have a full house!

Entre la cruz y la espada

Which is Spanish for What's a teabagger to do?

(alt. video link)


(h/t: Amy Sullivan and Wikipedia)

(alt. video link)

[Added] See also this post by Amy Sullivan, in which she busts The rePubOLITICO for falling for Dreamy McSerious's spin.

Line of the Day: 2011-05-30

Godwin’s Law, Monetary Edition

Any mention of the advantages of a higher inflation target will evoke, almost immediately, claims that you’re trying to turn America into the Weimar Republic and/or Zimbabwe.
    -- Paul Krugman

Aside to Firefox: you should know better than to question Professor Krugman.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Another Signpost on the Long Slow Decline

-- or --

"General Motors is not in the business of making cars. It is in the business of making money," repurposed for the 21st century.

From the annals of Dumb Ideas On The Internet

Have you noticed that Facebook is reposting Wikipedia pages? Apparently, they started doing this in April 2010.

Why are they doing this?

The announcements from the Wikimedia Foundation (via) and Facebook (via) seem hand-wavy at best to me. I'm more inclined to think Wikimedia took a "donation" from Facebook to play ball, and this is really all part of Facebook's never-ending effort to become the new AOL by trapping n00bz inside their walled garden, but maybe that's just me and my cynicism.

In any case, the main immediate criticism I'd make is this: the pages on Facebook don't seem to be kept up to date; i.e., they don't reflect the changes made to the corresponding Wikipedia articles. For example compare the page for Alfred P. Sloan, Jr.: Wikipedia | Facebook. Note also a compounding of the problem: Facebook also has a page for Alfred P. Sloan (the same guy -- Junior is the only famous one), which appears to be a fragment of the English version mixed up with an excerpt of the Indonesion(?) version.

Yes, each of these Facebook pages has a link to the corresponding Wikipedia page, but so what? If I have to go over to Wikipedia to get the latest version, let alone if I want to add something to it, why even bother reposting it in the first place?

Also, LOL: Time-traveler or zombie?

[Added] And in the department of Either That's A Mighty Weird Coincidence Or We're All Now Being Watched Always, I just got an email welcoming me to the Indonesian version of Wikipedia. Selamat datang!


Another boyhood hero lost, who, it turns out, was disturbingly not that much older than me

Gil Scott-Heron, who was one of the first people outside of my immediate family to raise my consciousness, has died at the age of 62. Back when I was a kid and first learned of him thanks to a lucky purchase from a sale bin at the record store, he was … you know, a grown-up, so therefore, incomprehensibly older.

The NY Times says, "His death was announced in a Twitter message on Friday night by his British publisher, Jamie Byng." (This looks like it.)

I wonder what the man most famous for his poem "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" would make of that. More to the point, I wonder what he thought of the immense amount of social media coverage of the Arab Spring and other recent uprisings. I hope that made him happy, although I can well imagine he had mixed feelings about it.

Here is a live recording -- the original version, I think -- of "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" where he is accompanied only by drums (via Peter Rothberg).

(alt. video link)

Here is the version I grew up with, where he is accompanied by a full band.

(alt. video link)

Nice collection of images there by spuddy83. I liked that he is evidently too young to know who "Julia" was. (It is explained to him several times in the comments.) That speaks to the staying power of the poem, as does the number of other versions, covers, mashups, etc., to be found on YouTube.

The Guardian's obit is also worth a look.

(h/t: the "In the news" section on the front page of Wikipedia as of a few minutes ago)

[Added] Thanks to AemJeff in the Comments for reminding me of this one.

(alt. video link)

[Added2] Roy Edroso has a brief, smart remembrance and some recommended links.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Blogger Login/Commenting Problem Fixed (For Me, At Least)

If you're one of those poor souls suffering from the Blogger glitch mentioned a few days ago (and still not fixed, apparently), you might try the following.

First, save any work that you don't want to risk losing in any other tab or window, such as a blog post or email that you're composing. Then:

  1. Clear all cookies that contain the string blogger

  2. Clear your browser cache completely

  3. Close your browser, restart, and log back into Blogger

That's probably a little more blunt than it needs to be, but it worked for me, anyway. Please feel free to weigh in with refinements.

A bit more detail for Firefox 4 on Windows below the fold. More details on request -- post a comment, @ me on Twitter, send me an email, etc.


Line of the Day: 2011-05-27

From Mr. Riley's "Olio, Carb-Day Edition:"

George Eff Will, "Pawlenty's time to move". May 25

It just seems to me that an article expounding on Tim Pawlenty's opportunities which doesn't feel much compelled to mention Tim Pawlenty says a bit more than it might intend.

Zombie Reagan Lives! "Trees Cause Air Pollution," v2.0

Or maybe Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) is just taking one for the team -- dumbing things down even further to smooth the way for Sarah Palin's threatened entrance into the presidential race. In any case, he …

... needs to hit the science books, forestry experts suggest.

They reached that conclusion after hearing Mr. Rohrabacher declare during a Congressional hearing on Wednesday that clear-cutting the world’s rain forests might eliminate the production of greenhouse gases responsible for climate change.

(h/t: Wonkette Jr. | x-posted)

[Added] New information to me:

Rohrabacher served as assistant press secretary to the 1976 and 1980 presidential campaigns of Ronald Reagan.[1] From 1981 to 1988, he was one of President Reagan's senior speech writers. During his tenure at the White House, Rohrabacher played a leading role in the formulation of the Reagan Doctrine. He also helped formulate President Reagan's Economic Bill of Rights …

Plenty of time to talk about the terrorist trees.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

ZOMG Obama and Teh Libruls are Banning Light Bulbs!!!1!

Actually, not. Not even close.

I had some mistaken notions on this issue myself, due to the sort of hysteria indicated in this post title, so I thought I'd pass along a point of clarification.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Having problems commenting? [UPDATED]

It's not you.

More leaks from with the Palin camp mean more dish!

Apparently, someone sent The Daily Caller a bunch of Twitter Direct Messages that were originally sent by Rebecca Mansour, one of Sarah Palin's top aides.

The biggest buzz is Mansour's dissing of Bristol, but I like this nugget:

Red State Editor-in-Chief and CNN contributor Erick Erickson is “a total douchebag,” wrote Palin speechwriter and domestic policy adviser Rebecca Mansour in a May 22, 2010, message. “Greasy dumb ass with a talent for self-promotion. He threw himself in at the Gov’s SC rally. Self-promotion.”


Funk Break

Those owls below reminded me of this old favorite.

(alt. video link)

The chicks are more sooty than snowy


From an article in the NYT's Scientist At Work series:

In owls with a facial disc, the ears are hidden behind it, and are asymmetrical — one is higher than the other. That allows the birds to locate prey both horizontally and vertically for more accurate detection.

I wonder if that's why dogs and cats sometimes cock their heads.

The article, which concentrates on owl researcher Denver Holt's work observing snowy owls in Alaska for what they can tell us about climate change, is worth a read for a variety of reasons.


Isn't the aerodynamic sculpting just marvelous? Looks like a seal with wings.

Photo credit for both pictures: Daniel J. Cox. They are part of a slideshow that accompanies the article.

Not a list you want to be on (#twitter #fail)

Apparently, @spammer is not just an amusing dummied-up screen shot for a help page but is in fact a working Twitter account. One presumes it is for in-house use and demonstration purposes.

However, it does appear that the "Similar to" algorithm needs tweaking. Death to all "SEO" accounts, to be sure, but as far as I can tell, @mmatthews15 and @ktalbotmurph are perfectly nice non-spamming people.


Clicking the view all link indicates the problem runs deeper.

Oh God. Oh God. OhGodOhGodOhGod.

Oh, good lord. If you must.

I confess I clicked it.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Can a T be silent?


Gallup: Majority of Americans Now Support Same-Sex Marriage

Following on the heels of March's ABC poll showing similar results, here's some more good news:

For the first time in Gallup's tracking of the issue, a majority of Americans (53%) believe same-sex marriage should be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages. The increase since last year came exclusively among political independents and Democrats. Republicans' views did not change.

To be specific, Gallup says Democrats who approve went from 56% to 69%, Independents from 49% to 59%, and Republicans stayed at 28%. The results broken down by ideological leaning are similar: liberals went from 70% to 78%, moderates from 56% to 65%, and conservatives from 25% to 28%.

(h/t: Jon Terbush/TPM, who has links to other relevant polls, as well)

RedState RedFace

Intoned the GHEMRotRSTF and CNN employee one week ago today:


Hat tip to Roy Edroso, whose latest wingnut wrap-up is all about the Republican candidates and ex-candidates, and what our favorite rightbloggers have to say about them. Intro here, full column here.


In shocking news, Republicans caught playing dirty tricks

Have you been paying attention to the special election to be held Tue 24 May for the House seat in NY-26? (This is the seat that opened up after second-term Republican Chris "the Craigslist Congressman" Lee resigned this past February.) As you may know, this election has become of national interest due to its status as a referendum of sorts on the GOP's near-unanimous support for the Ryan plan to destroy Medicare, and the consequent panic by senior Republicans from Boehner to Rove as their erstwhile safe seat now appears to be winnable by the Democrat, Kathy Hochul.

There's a longish article in the NYT about this race, which fans of inside baseball might enjoy. Here's a particularly delicious nugget:

And like Republican leaders in Washington, Ms. Corwin has found it difficult to grapple with the Tea Party movement, as she tries to fend off the aggressive candidacy of Jack Davis, who is running on the Tea Party line after failing to win the Republican nomination.

Concerned that Mr. Davis was draining support from Ms. Corwin, Republicans produced a wave of attacks on him, including circulating a much-publicized video that party operatives said showed Mr. Davis assaulting a young Republican volunteer who was tracking him with a camera.

But the attacks backfired after it was disclosed that the volunteer was Ms. Corwin’s chief of staff, a development that led the Davis camp to claim that Mr. Davis had been set up. Ms. Corwin was then barraged with questions from local reporters about her role in the episode.

Another interesting wrinkle: both Marco Rubio and Allen West have recorded phone messages urging support for the Republican candidate, not the Tea Party candidate. You'll recall that both Rubio and West were favorites of the teabaggers way back in 2010. I wonder if there will be any backlash for either of them.

P.S. Don't forget to visit JaneCorwin.org!


So much for that argumentum ad verecundiam

Nicholas Kristof's "Religion and Sex Quiz" is pretty entertaining.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Okay, we can officially stop saying "there's still a debate"

I mean, when even Fred Hiatt's editorial page concedes …

“CLIMATE CHANGE is occurring, is very likely caused by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems.”

So says — in response to a request from Congress — the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, the country’s preeminent institution chartered to provide scientific advice to lawmakers.

In a report titled “America’s Climate Choices,” a panel of scientific and policy experts also concludes that the risks of inaction far outweigh the risks or disadvantages of action. And the most sensible and urgently needed action, the panel says, is to put a rising price on carbon emissions, by means of a tax or cap-and-trade system. That would encourage innovation, research and a gradual shift away from the use of energy sources (oil, gas and coal) that are endangering the world.

None of this should come as a surprise. None of this is news. But it is newsworthy, sadly, because the Republican Party, and therefore the U.S. government, have moved so far from reality and responsibility in their approach to climate change.

Seizing on inevitable points of uncertainty in something as complex as climate science, and on misreported pseudo-scandals among a few scientists, Republican members of Congress, presidential candidates and other leaders pretend that the dangers of climate change are hypothetical and unproven and the causes uncertain.

Not so, says the National Research Council. “Although the scientific process is always open to new ideas and results, the fundamental causes and consequences of climate change have been established by many years of scientific research, are supported by many different lines of evidence, and have stood firm in the face of careful examination, repeated testing, and the rigorous evaluation of alternative theories and explanation.”

Climate-change deniers, in other words, are willfully ignorant, lost in wishful thinking, cynical or some combination of the three. And their recalcitrance is dangerous, the report makes clear, because the longer the nation waits to respond to climate change, the more catastrophic the planetary damage is likely to be — and the more drastic the needed response.

Note to "skeptics," teach-the-controversy-ers, and still too many in the MSM: Read that last paragraph out loud a few times, and then read the rest.

(h/t: @ClimateDebate | x-posted)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

You almost have to admire ...

... how hard he refuses to develop self-awareness:

… Florida pastor Terry Jones, who has generated controversy by burning, and threatening to burn, the Koran at public demonstrations … said nobody can predict when Judgment Day will arrive. Those who do are irresponsible, he said.


A reminder of my lower station

But that's fine. It's good to have things to aspire to, and better still to be privileged to listen in.

I would not have thought it possible that I would link to a movie review (apart from a snarky one, I mean), but this is Edroso talking about Herzog filming cave paintings, so … well, I'd buy a ticket to that, for a dollar!

Stealing a part I really liked:

But there is no getting around the fact that the paintings themselves are the stars; they're incredible, not only because they remain in such good condition, but because they're so beautiful. If the film had been made by competent hacks it would still be worth attending just to see them. They're like Chagall, but infinitely simpler and more eloquent. Made when Neanderthals still roamed the earth, they have no trace of mannerism; they are what the painting of centuries built upon, and what the moderns tried to recapture; they are, no exaggeration, the very essence of art.

Can't you just feel the cold air blowing on the back of your neck?

Friday, May 20, 2011

That Al Franken is a pretty smart guy, isn't he?

Remember the email from Sen. Franken that I re-posted yesterday? Remember how he said this, among other things?

The sky is blue. The world is round. Two plus two equals four. These are truths. Here's another one: Net neutrality isn't a government takeover of anything -- in fact, it protects the Internet from a corporate takeover.

And what do we learn in today's news?

Why, that it's perfectly fine if the government takes over the Internet, provided by "the government" we mean "the GOP and their corporate donors!" (Especially when they're afraid of competition!)

IOKIYAR. IOKIYAR. Always and forevermore, IOKIYAR.


Prediction check

While looking for something else, I came across an old note to self. I thought you might enjoy it. The date of the original post was 4 Nov 2008.

Prediction   [Jonah Goldberg]

Now that McCain has lost, and Sarah Palin has time to reintroduce herself down the road, the anti-Palin conservatives will almost surely look foolish in retrospect.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

We Are All Brothers

The Taliban has a Twitter feed. However, they do not follow back, so we will continue to bomb them, until they learn some Netiquette.


American Exceptionamalism!

Rarely do I think well of The Mouse. This headline doesn't help:

Disney tries to trademark 'Seal Team 6'

(h/t: MK, via email)

Nerd alert!


Astronomers, including a NASA-funded team member, have discovered a new class of Jupiter-sized planets floating alone in the dark of space , away from the light of a star. The team believes these lone worlds were probably ejected from developing planetary systems.


The discovery indicates there are many more free-floating Jupiter-mass planets that can't be seen. The team estimates there are about twice as many of them as stars. In addition, these worlds are thought to be at least as common as planets that orbit stars. This would add up to hundreds of billions of lone planets in our Milky Way galaxy alone.


The study, led by Takahiro Sumi from Osaka University in Japan, appears in the May 19 issue of the journal Nature.

The survey is not sensitive to planets smaller than Jupiter and Saturn, but theories suggest lower-mass planets like Earth should be ejected from their stars more often. As a result, they are thought to be more common than free-floating Jupiters.


"Our results suggest that planetary systems often become unstable, with planets being kicked out from their places of birth."


I am now going to depart from the Internet to write about ten million words of science fiction.

Ken Layne has already connected it to that French Dominatrix guy, bin Laden, Newt Gingrich, Donald Trump, and, oh yeah, the end of the world, on Saturday. Also.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Why is Barack Obama ...

... so disrespectful of what ®ealAmericans believe???1?


See also, see also.


[Added] Let there be Blingee! (Especially when you can steal from Mrs. Polly at Rumproast.)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Make it stop

NYT media reporter David Carr recapitulates Halperin, with yet another long tongue bath for guess who?

But if you believe that his huge traffic numbers are a byproduct of an ideologically motivated readership, consider that 15 percent of the traffic at WashingtonPost.com, which is not exactly a hotbed of Tea Party foment, comes from The Drudge Report.

I'm not sure what's worse, the innumeracy or the clinging to the notion that The WaPo is still the same paper it was when Woodward and Bernstein were cub reporters.

Or that in order to ensure balance, Carr got quotes from some clown from the Weekly Standard, a co-founder of the rePubOLITICO, and Andrew Breitbart.

Thanks for the warning, but ...

... not to worry.

Although I suppose staffers for Republican congressmen might want to make sure the anti-virus software is up to date on the boss's machine.

(pic. source: The Related stories sidebar on Naked Security, as it happens. Post here.)

Sen. Al Franken's Latest Email on Net Neutrality

Al Franken - U.S. Senator, Minnesota

Brendan --

The sky is red. The world is flat. And two plus two equals pancakes.

These statements aren't just false -- they're downright ridiculous. And so is the claim that net neutrality amounts to a government takeover of the Internet.

Let's get this straight: Net neutrality isn't a change -- it's the status quo. It's the way the Internet operates right now: free and open. And it isn't the government that's attempting an Internet "takeover" -- it's the big corporations who want to undermine net neutrality and the Republicans who want to let them.

It's important that everyone we can talk to DOES know the truth -- because this anti-Internet-freedom, pro-corporate-takeover legislation is coming to the Senate.

I'm asking you to make a commitment to standing up for truth, logic, and the free and open Internet by clicking here and taking action to help us get the truth out.

  • Forward this email to five friends
  • Share what we're doing in this fight on Facebook or Twitter
  • Add our campaign as your instant messenger status
  • Tell at least three other friends the real story of net neutrality -- no clicking required!

The sky is blue. The world is round. Two plus two equals four. These are truths. Here's another one: Net neutrality isn't a government takeover of anything -- in fact, it protects the Internet from a corporate takeover.

And here's one more truth: It'll only stay that way if we stand together and fight back against misinformation. Will you take a few minutes today and help save the Internet?



Blog Post Lede of the Week

Have you ever had one of those days when you just suddenly started thinking about fish that live in the rectal cavities of sea cucumbers?

Fun science! A really good post from Chris Mah at The Echinoblog. You'll never think of invertebrate zoology the same way again.

(h/t: Smut Clyde, in Comments at the House of Substance)

The Great Contender

So, I saw the name Edward Luskin mentioned on some wingnut's blog that doesn't bear mention, and not knowing who that was, I Googled him. The second and third hits describe him as "The Stupidest Man Alive." (The first hit is his Wikipedia entry, where the same title is mentioned.)

Turns out he's also a contributor to the WSJ op-ed page, so the plausibility of the title cannot be overstated.

But, I thought, what about that other guy? (clickety, clickety) Hmm. I suppose a distinction could be made: Donald Douglas Feith's crown of "the dumbest fucking guy on the planet" does not necessarily mean he's alive.

Okay then! Trophies for everyone!

Oh, hey, there's a new Feyman book out!

Book cover of 'Quantum Man,' a bio of Richard Feynman by Lawrence KraussAnd it's by Lawrence Krauss, to boot!

You can read the first chapter for free at Amazon.

Sadly, this event has occasioned one of the more boneheaded conclusions in any book review I've ever read. Robin McKie complains that Krauss "concentrates a little too heavily on the science."

If you know anything at all about Feynman*, you know the stories of Feynman-the-personality have been told to the point where even Feynman fanboys like me are a little sick of hearing them. Kudos to Krauss, I say. At least as far as I can tell from this review. "[P]ages and pages on the minutiae of electron interactions and photon exchanges" is a feature, not a bug.

(h/t: Twin)

[Added] A follow-up.

* However, if you don't know anything about Feynman, you're in for a treat. Even if you would say you don't like science. Seriously. A truly fascinating and heroic person. Read Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman and What Do You Care What Other People Think? and then read James Gleick's biography.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Blog Post Title of the Day

Just another great one from M. Bouffant.

Newt Gingrich still doesn't know how the Internet works

The disgraced former Speaker of the House is now for the Ryan "plan." Though he was against it yesterday, and for it before that.

Maybe his candidacy is being funded by Romney?

[Added] Ah, good. Noted Internet personality Rick Santorum is coming to stepping up to clarify matters.

(pic. source)

Even if you swore never to read another thing about Social Security, ...

... please read this post by Digby.

It's recommended by Mr. Riley, also. So now you really have no reason to say no.

This will only make you hate him more

In a surprise to absolutely no one with a pulse strong enough to get the blood above the neck, The Donald has announced he's not going to run for president after all. But, he says:

"I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and ultimately, the general election."

Silver lining, though: I think there's some inadvertent admission about how rich he actually isn't farther down:

In the end, however, his decision almost certainly had more to do with his lucrative NBC television contract for his "Apprentice" franchise than anything else. Trump was running out of time to decide whether he would sign on for another season of the "Celebrity Apprentice." Sources close to Trump said negotiations ran to the 11th hour with reports of Trump on hourly calls with NBC executives throughout the weekend who were trying to convince Trump to continue to helm the show.

Some news reports cited NBC offering Trump as much as $60 million to renew his contract, and sources said that NBC had told Trump that the network had lined up three years worth of sponsors for "The Apprentice" -- but only with Trump's participation in the show.

If you're a billionaire who wants to be President of the United States, you don't need "as much as" $60 million, much less spread out over the next three years. If you had a billion dollars, you'd only need to earn 2% interest on it to make "as much as" $60 million over three years.

So, he's lying about believing he could win or about how much money he has, or both. Release the long-form financial disclosure or STFU, Chump.

(h/t: Uncle Ebeneezer)

"The Golden Age"

One of the great things about the Internet is how quickly you can get an answer that would have been almost inconceivably hard to find back in the dark ages. For example, you see a commercial on teevee and think, "Hmmm. That is a pretty catchy song playing in the background there. I wonder if that song was written just for this commercial, or if it's a real song. And if it's a real song, is that the real band you see, just for a second there, at the end?"

Took one (1) search query on YouTube, a glance at the comments for the first video I clicked, one (1) Google, and one (1) click to get to Wikipedia, and I am now happy to tell you that, yes, "The Golden Age" is a song that was recorded in 2009 by The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, a Danish duo ("vocalist Mette Lindberg and producer Lars Iversen") who flesh themselves out to a full band when playing live. They have been around FOREVER. (Since 2008.)

(alt. video link)

And here is a video that will probably seem more familiar if you have been watching the NBA playoffs the past few weeks:

(alt. video link)

I am also informed by that Wikipedia page that this song was used as a promotion for a teevee show called Mad Men, which is something that apparently everyone but me has seen, so I apologize if the above is all old hat.

Anyway, good tune. And here is the band's website (which at the moment appears to be just a frame-embed of their MySpace page), their Facebook page, and their Twitter feed.

Aside to KK: From the comments of the first version I found on YouTube, WolfataDoor: "The most interesting man in the world's son." So I guess you are more in tune with the zeitgeist than I am.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Line of the Day: 2011-05-14

It's no accident that American Exceptionalism joins Islam and Christianity as the holy trinity of systems whose Absolute and Unshakable Universal Moral Certitudes can be shattered if someone happens to frown in their direction.
    -- Doghouse Riley


[Added] A comment I would have left under that post, had not Blogger gone all 503 on me:

The only thing better than Rudy Giuliani winning the Ed Meese Award was Atlas Shrugged, The Movie, "Part 1," winning the Ronald Reagan Great Communicator Award.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Late-Stage Growth

The guy who signed DADT and DOMA into law is now lending his name in support of Freedom to Marry in New York.

So there's that.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

"We turn now to an agreement between Florida State's Department of Economics and ...

... the Charles G. Koch Foundation," says an op-ed by two FSU professors (original, cached). They continue:

In 2008, the foundation signed a memorandum of agreement with FSU in which they committed to a proposed budget of $6.5 million over a period of six years, with most of the effort to be located in the economics department. The provisions called for the hiring of five professors and other staff; establishing a program for the Study of Political Economy and Free Enterprise (SPEFE) and a program for Excellence in Economic Education (EEE); and the development of educational programs for undergraduate students.

A careful reading of the memorandum reveals a number of strings attached to the "gift." [...]

This op-ed led the St. Petersburg Times to look into it, and Ed from Gin and Tacos noticed. (Ed is a professor at another college.)


The great but largely forgotten journalist Sydney Harris once said, "You may be certain that when a man begins to call himself a 'realist,' he is preparing to do something he is secretly ashamed of." That quote kept coming to mind as I read this:

A conservative billionaire who opposes government meddling in business has bought a rare commodity: the right to interfere in faculty hiring at a publicly funded university.

A foundation bankrolled by Libertarian businessman Charles G. Koch has pledged $1.5 million for positions in Florida State University's economics department. In return, his representatives get to screen and sign off on any hires for a new program promoting "political economy and free enterprise."

Traditionally, university donors have little official input into choosing the person who fills a chair they've funded. The power of university faculty and officials to choose professors without outside interference is considered a hallmark of academic freedom.

Under the agreement with the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, however, faculty only retain the illusion of control. The contract specifies that an advisory committee appointed by Koch decides which candidates should be considered. The foundation can also withdraw its funding if it's not happy with the faculty's choice or if the hires don't meet "objectives" set by Koch during annual evaluations.

My favorite Calvin and Hobbes panel features Calvin lamenting not that everyone has a price, but that the price is always so low. [...]

Probably just a coincidence (via) that the dean of the College of Social Sciences at FSU is named ...?

David W. Rasmussen, dean of the College of Social Sciences, defended the deal, initiated by an FSU graduate working for Koch. During the first round of hiring in 2009, Koch rejected nearly 60 percent of the faculty’s suggestions but ultimately agreed on two candidates. Although the deal was signed in 2008 with little public controversy, the issue revived last week when two FSU professors — one retired, one active — criticized the contract in the Tallahassee Democrat as an affront to academic freedom.

Rasmussen said hiring the two new assistant professors allows him to offer eight additional courses a year. “I’m sure some faculty will say this is not exactly consistent with their view of academic freedom,” he said. “But it seems to me it would have been irresponsible not to do it.”

Not exactly consistent? Rasmussen, meanwhile, sang quite a different tune in a letter to the Tallahassee Democrat responding to the professors, striking a strident tone, accusing the profs of “ideological bias,” and asserting something that appears to be demonstrably untrue: [...]

We don't actually know that Dean Rasmussen is related to every conservative's favorite pollster. But we do know something: FSU's department chair is a total tool (new archive link):

Bruce Benson, chairman of FSU's economics department, said that of his staff of 30, six, including himself, would fall into Koch's free-market camp.

"The Kochs find, as I do, that a lot of regulation is actually detrimental and they're convinced markets work relatively well when left alone," he said.

Benson said his department had extensive discussion, but no vote, on the Koch agreement when it was signed in 2008.

He said the Koch grant has improved his department and guaranteed a diversity of opinion that's beneficial to students.

"Students will ultimately choose," he said. "If you believe strongly in something, you believe it can win the debate."

Benson makes annual reports to Koch about the faculty's publications, speeches and classes, which have included the economics of corruption.

Orwell wept.

Of course, FSU is still at the fluffer stage compared to another school we could name:

The big exception has been George Mason University, a public university in Virginia which has received more than $30 million from Koch over the past 20 years. At George Mason, Koch's foundation has underwritten the Mercatus Center, whose faculty study "how institutions affect the freedom to prosper."

To save the lurking glibertarians the effort of huffing and puffing that THERE IS NOTHING TO SEE HERE, we will link to ex(?)-Reason employee and perennial liberal-basher David Weigel, who says THERE IS NOTHING TO SEE HERE. (But at least he gave the backstory and the link to the op-ed.)

P.S. A Facebook page has just been launched to protest this Kochtopus purchase.

(h/t: graz | x-posted)

[Added] On 2012-07-30, I added a label to this post, which somehow caused the posting date to be set to today. I changed it back by hand to a reasonable guess as to when it actually was posted.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Further Proof of Better Living Through Unprotected Sex

In news that will come as a shock to almost no one, ...

Multimillionaire who attended multiple colleges beloved by poor and uneducated

According to Gallup, Sarah Palin is favored to be the 2012 Republican nominee for president by nearly twice as many Republicans who do not have a college degree as she is by those who do (16%-9%). Breaking things down economically, she does best with those earning less than $24,000/year, and progressively worse with each income group up the ladder (22%, 16%, 11%, 7%).

What about Romney?

Exactly the opposite. If you're a Republican, you're more likely to prefer him if you have a college degree, and the more money you have, the better you like him.


(h/t: Jack Stuef | pic. sources: The Pout, The Glove | x-posted)

Just in case you need an example of a rhetorical question

Is Fox News Inflating The Turnout At Bachmann's Latest Rally?

Hilariously, the lede for everyone else reporting on this event was how sparse the crowd was. Including a local Fox affiliate.

A good idea, at least: WebCite

I haven't played around with it enough to give it a review, but I applaud the thinking behind WebCite, at least.

The idea is to combat link rot (or wingnut bloggers, who disappear their posts after being proved wrong!) by archiving a copy of a Web page that you use as a reference, exactly as that page appeared when you linked to it.

Imagine if someone were to write a script to go through Wikipedia and WebCite all of the reference links. How fabulous would that be?

Submit a link for WebCite archiving here. More info here.


(I came across this in a TPM post about Donald Trump telling Fox & Friends that he is totally not at all a racist, because he had that one black apprentice that one time.)

She's too sexy for you

Hillary Clinton Photoshopped Out of Situation Room Photo


The religious paper never publishes pictures of women, as they could be considered "sexually suggestive."

Wow. Those Muslins are really out of control, aren't they?

Wait, what?

[Jezebel via Wonkette]

(title: cf. | x-posted)

Small Amusement of the Day

This morning, I had one message in my Gmail spam folder. It was an offer from Google Analytics.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

"The Republicans' Magic Calendar"

Click it to big it.

(h/t: Twin)

[Added] In Comments, Twin gives his source for the image: Jon Perr, of Crooks and Liars.

Deep Thought

Portmanteau ... that word's been around for a while, hasn't it?

Friday, May 06, 2011

Today's GOP: Big Balls? Small Brains?

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Alabama)Oh, you guessed it. Why not both?

Forty-four of your Republican Senators, led by Richard Shelby of Alabama (pictured at left), have "sent a letter to President Obama" calling for "common sense reforms" to his proposed new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Here is the best:

  • Establish a safety-and-soundness check for the prudential financial regulators, who oversee the safety and soundness of financial institutions. This would help ensure that excessive regulations do not needlessly cause bank failures.

Emph. added.

Thers and DDay have more detailed analysis of this latest hamstringing attempt by the GOP.

(pic. source | x-posted)

The Laffer Curve Applies Everywhere!

An official state analysis of the bill also says that the proposed tax change would increase consumption of chewing tobacco and that sales "would rebound sufficiently" so that the state's tax coffers wouldn't be negatively affected.

Yes, you read that right: the Texas House, as part of its efforts (?) to deal with the state's budget deficit, has passed a bill to lower taxes on chewing tobacco.

If the "official state analysis" is correct, should we worry about the increased consumption leading to increased incidence of mouth cancer and other long-term health concerns?

No, silly. By the time anyone gets the cancer from chewing tobacco starting today, we'll long since have passed Dreamy McSerious's Magical Sparkle Pony Health Care Vouchers That Cover Everything Practically Always.

(h/t: Jack Stuef | pic. source | x-posted | also)

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Any comment would be superfluous

The headline:

Blackwater’s New Ethics Chief: John Ashcroft

(h/t: Ken Layne | x-posted)

Monday, May 02, 2011

The Most Entertaining Piece of Architectural Criticism I Have Read All Year

Okay, so ... not such a high bar to clear, I admit. Nevertheless, this Joe Queenan thing is fun.

It begins:

An Iowa-based philanthropist and architecture aficionado has offered a $300 million reward to any city anywhere in the world that dares to hire someone other than Frank Gehry to design its gleaming new art museum.

(h/t: Matthew Yglesias)