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Science Is Not Irreducibly Complex : Uncertain Principles
Science, at least the online corner of it, seems to me to be unique in the insistence that the subject can't possibly be condensed, and that it's unreasonable to even suggest that it might. There's this persistent image of science as a noble and pure pursuit that can't be sullied with trivial concerns like keeping stories about it to a reasonable length, or compressing the key points down to elevator pitch length. Whenever the subject comes up-- pretty much any time Chris Mooney says anything-- the discussion runs smack into a stubborn insistence that science is irreducibly complex, that it can't possibly be broken down into a format that fits the journalistic style.

This is, of course, nonsense,
science  communication  public  media  journalism  story-telling  complexity 
december 2010
interfluidity » Hangover theory and morality plays
The people who have sinned are not by and large the people being punished. Some people overconsumed relative to their income, and some people invested poorly. Those who overconsumed have mostly faced consequences for their misbehavior — they are either deeply in debt, or they have endured foreclosure or bankruptcy. But the people who invested absurdly, especially “savers” who lent money but permitted themselves ignorance and indifference to how their wealth would be mismanaged, have not suffered the costs of their recklessness. ... ...But rather than condemn them for negligence and permit their claims to be appropriately devalued, we applaud them for “prudence” and ...You don’t counter that sort of villainy with technocratic arguments about liquidity traps. You point out that the motherfuckers who are calling themselves prudent, who are blocking both writedowns and government action that might risk inflation, are hypocrites and thieves.
economics  moral  morality  rhetoric  debt  savings  money  banking  recession  crisis 
december 2010
A plain blog about politics: Be a Citizen, Not a Subject
What I'd say to them is: Barack Obama is not a king, and you are not a subject.  You are a citizen.  Act like it.  American political parties are extremely permeable: get active.  If things don't go your way, get more active.  If you've been active, stay in the game.  Expect disappointments -- you are one of 300 million, and many of them disagree with you.
politcal-science  politics  emotion  disappointment  citizenship  participation 
december 2010
Inured to "Trillions" : CJR
I understand that there’s a lot already in the public domain about the emergency loan programs, but it’s important to take a step back on this. We’ve become inured to stuff that was unthinkable a few years ago. Think about how awesome (in the old sense of the world) this bailout was, how stark the contrast between what the banks got and what struggling homeowners got (the shaft), and how much risk the Fed took in our name and in secret. It’s too easy to succumb to a sort of savvy complacency here, but the press has to fight that urge.

For my money (which is ironic, because these are the two outlets here which have never got a dime from me), some of the best coverage comes from Bloomberg and—dare I say it—The Huffington Post.
banking  crisis  journalism  media  scale 
december 2010
Open Left:: The pedagogy of the oppressors: The Cold War university & the roots of our current crisis
"On further reflection, however, I believe I have a clearer view of what's going on here.  Yes, conservative hegemonic warfare plays an important unacknowledged role.  But it has been successful in part because of the nature of the so-called "liberal establishment" which defined itself  in the context of the Cold War."
...Mario Savio, free speech at Berkeley, Clark Kerr and the uses of the university, administrator overreach, decline and fall of liberal education
education  conservatism  markets  ideology  cold-war  economics  meritocracy  academia  decline  liberal  liberal-arts  corporatism 
december 2010
Wikileaks: the truth is not treason | openDemocracy
The central problem, it seems, is that this “corruption of governance” runs so deep.  It is embedded within the very DNA of the political class and has been for generations, hence the high-level, across the board political resistance and opposition to the brand of total transparency advocated by Wikileaks. 
wikileaks  democracy  secrecy  corruption  britain 
december 2010
The 70 Online Databases that Define Our Planet - Technology Review
So in the interests of stimulating this debate, I'm reproducing here Helbing's list of websites that are potential sources of data for an Earth Simulator. It makes for fascinating, if unnerving, reading:
data  data-collection  earth  simulation 
december 2010
slacktivist: Do all paths lead to God?
The question is this: "Do you believe that all paths lead to God?"

I have a hard time figuring out what this could possibly mean given what I know about paths and what I think I know about God.
religion  belief  god 
december 2010
The moral standards of WikiLeaks critics - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com
I'm not singling out Klein here; his commentary is merely illustrative of what I'm finding truly stunning about the increasingly bloodthirsty two-minute hate session aimed at Julian Assange, also known as the new Osama bin Laden.  The ringleaders of this hate ritual are advocates of -- and in some cases directly responsible for -- the world's deadliest and most lawless actions of the last decade.  And they're demanding Assange's imprisonment, or his blood, in service of a Government that has perpetrated all of these abuses and, more so, to preserve a Wall of Secrecy which has enabled them. 
wikileaks  secrecy  moral  outrage  business-as-usual 
december 2010
Dana Blankenhorn: Moore's Law of Renewable Energy
To the popular mind, all these other changes are just as much Moore's Law as his original silicon conception. Moore's Law has become a shorthand for the computerized world all around us, and for our (correct) assumption that it's just going to get better and better, faster and faster.

So how does this apply to renewable energy?
energy  abundance  future  growth  solar 
december 2010
Julian Assange and the Computer Conspiracy; “To destroy this invisible government” « zunguzungu
Most of the news media seems to be losing their minds over Wikileaks without actually reading these essays, even though he describes the function and aims of an organization like Wikileaks in pretty straightforward terms. But, to summarize, he begins by describing a state like the US as essentially an authoritarian conspiracy, and then reasons that the practical strategy for combating that conspiracy is to degrade its ability to conspire, to hinder its ability to “think” as a conspiratorial mind. The metaphor of a computing network is mostly implicit, but utterly crucial: he seeks to oppose the power of the state by treating it like a computer and tossing sand in its diodes.
wikileaks  secrecy  authoritarian  revolution  conspiracy  collective-intelligence 
december 2010
Obsidian Wings: The culture of conspiracy, the conspiracy of culture
In other words, Assange (and I presume Wikileaks as a whole) are publishing bulk-leaked documents because:
Authoritarian organizations (including most present-day national governments and large corporations) are naturally unjust, secretive, and conspiratorial.
The networks of information and influence inside such organizations are less stable to leaking than the corresponding networks inside open, just, and non-authoritarian organizations. They will either become hardened and (even more) inefficient, or they will become more open, less authoritarian, and more just. Either result is a win.
wikileaks  politics  secrecy  data  governance  government  foreign-policy  authoritarian 
december 2010
The Decline and Fall of the American Republic : Six Questions for Bruce Ackerman—By Scott Horton (Harper's Magazine)
Yale law professor Bruce Ackerman surveys the last fifty years and sees the American presidency transformed into a potentially dangerous vehicle for political extremism and lawlessness. In his latest book, The Decline and Fall of the American Republic, he suggests some innovative constitutional remedies to address the situation.
book  interview  political-science  america  constitution  power 
december 2010
The Surprising Wealth and Success of Japan - Frank A. Weil - Business - The Atlantic
As the leading economists' definition of economic success is all about consistent growth, how come Japan has, under the radar, defied the odds and created steady prosperity in recent years without the harmful inevitable excesses of volatility that seem to come with a singular pursuit of growth? 
economics  japan  politics  recession 
december 2010
Victorian Literature, Statistically Analyzed With New Process - NYTimes.com
Victorians were enamored of the new science of statistics, so it seems fitting that these pioneering data hounds are now the subject of an unusual experiment in statistical analysis. The titles of every British book published in English in and around the 19th century — 1,681,161, to be exact — are being electronically scoured for key words and phrases that might offer fresh insight into the minds of the Victorians.
data  literature  criticism  statistics  analysis  19c  english 
december 2010
PeteSearch: Data is snake oil
It's because data is powerful but fickle. A lot of theoretically promising approaches don't work because there's so many barriers between spotting a possible relationship and turning it into something useful and actionable.
big-data  data  barriers 
december 2010
Interactive: Which Banks Got Emergency Loans from the Fed During the Financial Meltdown?
Wednesday the Federal Reserve released data on more than 21,000 loans and other deals it made through a dozen emergency programs created during the financial crisis. The Fed used trillions of dollars to stabilize the economy when the housing bubble burst and credit markets froze.

We combined the Fed’s three programs that loaned directly to banks and other financial firms with the goal of getting them to start lending again. We hope to post on the Fed’s other programs soon.
data  media  federal-reserve  crisis  2008  business  banking  loans  journalism 
december 2010
Dani Rodrik | FiveBooks
Power and Plenty by Ronald Findly and Kevin H. O'Rourke
Global Capitalism by Jeffrey A. Frieden
Globalizing Capital by Barry Eichengreen
One World by Peter Singer
The Great Transformation by Karl Polanyi
book  recommendations  economics  globalization 
december 2010
Analyzing Effective Leaders: Why Extraverts Are Not Always the Most Successful Bosses - Knowledge@Wharton
In fact, introverted leaders can be more effective than extraverts in certain circumstances. The determining factor is who leaders are managing, according to Grant and co-authors Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School and David Hofmann of the University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School. Their paper, forthcoming in the Academy of Management Journal, is titled "Reversing the Extraverted Leadership Advantage: The Role of Employee Proactivity."
work  management  leadership  personality  introvert  extravert  teamwork  organization  psychology 
december 2010
SocialSci | Further Science!
SocialSci connects researchers with a global online community to make real scientific discoveries. Take a study, further science, and get paid while you’re at it!
social-science  research  crowdsourcing  collaboration  citizen-science  internet  data-collection  online  survey  psychology 
december 2010
Jim Quinn: Lies Across America « naked capitalism
Americans are so committed to their automobiles, hyper-consumerism, oversized McMansions, and suburban sprawl existence that they will never willingly prepare in advance for a future by scaling back, downsizing, or thinking. Our culture is built upon consumption, debt, cheap oil and illusion. Kevin Phillips in American Theocracy concludes that there are so many Americans tied to our unsustainable economic model that they will choose to lie to themselves and be lied to by their leaders rather than think and adapt:

A large number of voters work in or depend on the energy and automobile industries, and still more are invested in them, not just financially but emotionally and culturally....In the United States more than elsewhere, a preference for conspicuous consumption over energy efficiency and conservation is a signal of a much deeper, central divide.
future  gloom-and-doom  decline  america  economics  debt 
december 2010
The Mumpsimus: Ways of Reading
Hearing how someone else reads can be, for me at least, both exciting and alienating.  Exciting because it often explains at least something about their reading taste; alienating because it reminds me what an individual experience reading is.
reading  habit  methods  philosophy  criticism  literary  sympathy 
december 2010
What correlates with problem solving skill? | Casting Out Nines
What all this suggests is that there is a stronger relationship between conceptual knowledge and mechanics, and between conceptual knowledge and problem solving skill, than there is between mechanical mastery and problem solving skill....
If this relationship holds in general — and I think that it does, and I’m not the only one — then clearly the environment most likely to teach calculus students how to be effective problem solvers is not the classroom primarily focused on computation. A healthy, interacting mixture of conceptual and mechanical work — with a primary emphasis on conceptual understanding — would seem to be what we need instead. The fact that this kind of environment stands in stark contrast to the typical calculus experience (both in the way we run our classes and the pedagogy implied in the books we choose) is something well worth considering.
education  pedagogy  mathematics  calculus 
december 2010
Definitions and Standards : Uncertain Principles
The image most people have of physical standards would have both the meter and the second tied to some sort of physical reference, with the speed of light determined in terms of those two standards. And, in fact, that's how things used to be-- if you look at the history of the definition of the meter, you see that it was tied to a physical standard until 1983. So why the change?

The reason for the change is basically that we can do a much better job of measuring time than position, thanks to spectroscopic techniques developed in the 1940's.
history  science  measurement  metrology  definition  standard  sts  speed  light  physics 
december 2010
Book Review - Self Comes to Mind - By Antonio Damasio - NYTimes.com
In “Self Comes to Mind,” the eminent neurologist and neuroscientist Antonio Damasio gives an account of consciousness that might come naturally to a highly caffeinated professor in his study. He emphasizes wakefulness, self-awareness, reflection, rationality, “knowledge of one’s own existence and of the existence of surroundings.”
book  review  philosophy  neurology  mind  consciousness 
december 2010
Bill Gates Listens to the Wrong People - Bridging Differences - Education Week
Since Gates is a multibillionaire, he can't possibly understand what it means to work in an environment where you might be fired for disagreeing with your boss. Nor can he possibly understand that schools are collaborative cultures that need senior teachers who are ready and willing to help newcomers. He can't imagine that school is different from Microsoft or other big corporations. Let's be honest. CCSSO and The New York Times pay attention to what Gates says because he is so rich. If he didn't run the biggest foundation in the world, if he wasn't one of the richest men in the world, would anyone care about his opinion of education? Really, who would care what he said if he were the chairman of the Whatzit Corporation and sold widgets?
education  reform  power  wealth  media  attention  pedagogy 
december 2010
Julian Assange, defending our democracies (despite their owners' wishes) - Charlie's Diary
Around the world, governments seem to be more interested in obeying the goals of industry lobbyists and the rich than in actually governing well; this isn't an accident, but the outcome of the capture of the machinery of governance by groups of individuals who are self-selecting for adherence to a narrow ideological outlook. In effect we are beset by accidental authoritarian conspiracies — not top-down conspiracies led by a white-cat-stroking Bond villain, but unintentional ad-hoc conspiracies by groups of individuals who work together to promote common interests. By coordinating, they can gain control of our institutions and impose an agenda that is agreeable to their interests (but not to the majority of the public). Familiar examples might include: the music and film industries and their catspaws among the lobbyists attending the WIPO intellectual property negotiations, the oil and coal industries, the religious right, and so on.
transparency  secrecy  control  power  wikileaks  politics  foreign-policy  america  government 
december 2010
WikiLeaks reveals more than just government secrets - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com
The central goal of WikiLeaks is to prevent the world's most powerful factions -- including the sprawling, imperial U.S. Government -- from continuing to operate in the dark and without restraints.  Most of the institutions which are supposed to perform that function -- beginning with the U.S. Congress and the American media -- not only fail to do so, but are active participants in maintaining the veil of secrecy.  WikiLeaks, whatever its flaws, is one of the very few entities shining a vitally needed light on all of this.  It's hardly surprising, then, that those factions -- and their hordes of spokespeople, followers and enablers -- see WikiLeaks as a force for evil.  That's evidence of how much good they are doing.
wikileaks  media  journalism  secrecy  government  foreign-policy  american  power  transparency 
december 2010
From WikiChina - NYTimes.com
There is a willful self-destructiveness in the air here as if America has all the time and money in the world for petty politics.
china  politics  gloom-and-doom  trivial  self-destruction  exceptionalism  american 
december 2010
The Misunderestimation of Sarah Palin | The Nation
Using Twitter, Facebook, corporate-news punditry, readable memoirs and reality television, Palin has managed to subvert traditional media. Rather than pay for advertising, she is getting paid to advertise her politics. Rather than wait for kingmakers to declare her a contender, she smirks while predicting her victories. Her reality show is a pinnacle of this new media-saturation strategy. The show's producer, Mark Burnett of Survivor and The Apprentice, pioneered the infiltration of reality shows into network lineups. His ingenious use of product integration exploded the profitability and desirability of reality television. While highbrow critics mocked the lame, melodramatic obviousness of reality TV, the genre revolutionized American entertainment. Sarah Palin's Alaska is the ultimate test of this form. Will product placement of a candidate prove to be the flattest, fastest, newest route to the American presidency?
politics  culture  media  election  social-media  reality-television  celebrity  fame  palin  sarah 
december 2010
Free Press | Media reform through education, organizing and advocacy
Free Press is a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to reform the media. Through education, organizing and advocacy, we promote diverse and independent media ownership, strong public media, quality journalism, and universal access to communications.

Free Press was launched in late 2002 by media scholar Robert W. McChesney and Josh Silver, our President and CEO.
media-reform  media  journalism  money  economics  corporatism  lobbying  reform  netneutrality 
december 2010
I love WikiLeaks for restoring distrust in our most important institutions. - By Jack Shafer - Slate Magazine
The idea of WikiLeaks is scarier than anything the organization has leaked or anything Assange has done because it restores our distrust in the institutions that control our lives. It reminds people that at any given time, a criminal dossier worth exposing is squirreled away in a database someplace in the Pentagon or at Foggy Bottom. 
politics  accountability  democracy  institutions  trust  corruption  diplomacy  espionage  wikileaks 
december 2010
Rick Bookstaber: Viral!
The greatest concern lies in information going viral that is inconsequential. For those in the market who are on top of the news and its implications, the question no longer is simply one of when others will finally get around to looking at the information and see that it is important. It is also a question of whether something irrelevant will catch the fancy of the cloud. Look at Sarah Palin and see the logical end to the inane You Tube videos that capture the imagination of the nation, or the ranks of the “famous for being nothing” reality show celebrities that Palin has elected to join.

The new, viral world means more surprises and more volatility; and not because of market shocks precipitated by content, but because of the randomness in what might happen to catch on and reverberate through the internet.
viral  information  information-cascade  internet  rumor  diffusion 
november 2010
Free will is not an illusion | spiked
Neuro-determinism, though seemingly self-evident, is also wrong.

The first line of attack is to remove the hype from the neuroscience of consciousness and remind ourselves how little we know. We understand even less. There is at present no adequate theory of qualia (the actual experience of things – such as the sensation of yellow, the feeling of warmth, the taste of wine);...
...
Secondly, we should question the focus on the stand-alone brain. The world we live in is not one of sparks of isolated sentience cast amid a rubble of material objects. We live in a world that is collectively constructed.
biology  neurology  determinism  philosophy  mind  mind-body 
november 2010
Firms See Long-Sought Goal in Sight: Major Pay Cuts Through Two Tiers - Working In These Times
These firms are systematically implementing a major strategy to permanently drive down wages far below anything considered "middle class." The key tool for corporations: forcing acceptance of permanent two-tier wage structures and the insertion of nonunion casual workers into union plants to drive down union pay to levels unimaginable a couple years back. Big business is essentially trying to take back the hard-won gains of working people won over generations.
waiting-for-the-revolution  labor  work  unions  wages  corporatism 
november 2010
Op-Ed Columnist - A Sin and a Shame - NYTimes.com
“They threw out far more workers and hours than they lost output,” said Professor Sum. “Here’s what happened: At the end of the fourth quarter in 2008, you see corporate profits begin to really take off, and they grow by the time you get to the first quarter of 2010 by $572 billion. And over that same time period, wage and salary payments go down by $122 billion.”

That kind of disconnect, said Mr. Sum, had never been seen before in all the decades since World War II.
waiting-for-the-revolution  work  economics  labor  productivity  corporatism 
november 2010
UnderstandingSociety: Transmitting technology
So perhaps the short answer to the question posed above about cross-civilizational technology transfer is this: "transfer" looks a lot more like "reinvention" than it does "imitation."  It was necessary for Chinese experimenters, officials, and military officers to create a new set of institutions and technical capacities before this apparently simple new technological idea could find its way into Chinese implementations on a large scale.
technocracy  technology-adoption  cross-culture  transfer  china  steam-engine  history  sts 
november 2010
emergent by design
Venessa Miemis is a futurist and digital ethnographer, researching the impacts of social technologies on society and culture and designing systems to facilitate innovation and the evolution of consciousness. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Media Studies at the New School in NYC
weblog-individual  emergence 
november 2010
Stumbling and Mumbling: Dissonance, ignorance & Lib Dems
What’s going on here is a form of dissonance reduction. People have two conflicting beliefs: “I want to make money” and “I’m a fair person.” One way to reconcile these beliefs and reduce dissonance is simply to choose not to know the effects of one’s actions upon other people - which allows one to believe that a selfish choice was in fact “fair“.  People use strategic ignorance to reduce dissonance.
This doesn’t just happen in laboratories. The classic example was General Tommy Franks’ statement in the Iraq war: “We don’t do body counts.”  This was an attempt to save him from the dissonance that would have arisen from trying to reconcile the belief that the war was justified with the evidence that tens of thousands were dying.
politics  cognitive-dissonance  bias  thinking  rationalization  ignorance 
november 2010
Notional Slurry » Richard Rorty, Voltairine de Cleyre, Peter Drucker and Clay Shirky walk into a bar…
The risk these social forces pose is that the increased potential for general and popular success of smart people draws our local unsung luminaries up and away. So they can talk amongst themselves.

And not with us.

We should be linked to one another by conversations that look back and forward and down, and most of all sideways at one another. Not just “up” at our luminous colleagues, our canon, but across at the friend we never suspected knew so much about that thing we were working on together.

I’ve come to detest the consensus of shared culture and its keepers, and our canon, and the news we’re told. I’m trying to rely more on the people in my presence, and the people they know personally.
...
We’re all of us always wrong. I pity the famous, the canon-makers, the revealers of truth, my professor friends because they’ve sacrificed their right to be wrong at the altar of Progress.

And as far as I can tell, that means they’re stuck; they’re not allowed to make mistakes in public.
community  pragmatism  anarchism  critique  business  success  professionalization  meritocracy  thinking 
november 2010
Busted: Stories of the Financial Crisis | The Nation
I.O.U. Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay. By John Lanchester.
13 Bankers The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown. By Simon Johnson and James Kwak.
A Companion to Marx's "Capital" By David Harvey.
On 13 Bankers - "The authors seem, in that instant, on the verge of realizing that the problem is the dynamic itself—that the choice between greed and regulation is a false one, that the dance of bankers and regulators is exactly what ends in a tangle on the floor, with the markets a shambles, liquidity in drought and real unemployment trending toward 20 percent."
books  review  economics  capitalism  crisis  marxism  marx  karl  recession  finance 
november 2010
University For Strategic Optimism
Our basic public services, we are told, are simply too expensive. They must be thrown under the wheels ofthe megalithic debt that bears down upon us. They must be privatised, corporatised and commodified. All this so we can ensure the continuation of a system that funnels wealth into the hands of a privileged few. This failed and flailing market system, we are told, is the only one that is possible, drastic cuts the only alternative, the fairest thing to do. Any deviation from the path laid out for us will unleash the worst imaginable, a media-imagined Worst that threatens from our darkened skies.
england  protests  neoliberalism  budget  education 
november 2010
Boston Review — Kentaro Toyama: Can Technology End Poverty?
If I were to summarize everything I learned through research in ICT4D, it would be this: technology—no matter how well designed—is only a magnifier of human intent and capacity. It is not a substitute. If you have a foundation of competent, well-intentioned people, then the appropriate technology can amplify their capacity and lead to amazing achievements. But, in circumstances with negative human intent, as in the case of corrupt government bureaucrats, or minimal capacity, as in the case of people who have been denied a basic education, no amount of technology will turn things around.
ict4d  development  ict  technology  poverty  economics 
november 2010
The Book Bench: The Exchange: Tony Hiss on Deep Travel : The New Yorker
So Deep Travel can work in a familiar setting?

No place, however well we know it, stays exactly the same from day to day, or even from hour to hour—there are always different combinations of people present, or different plays of light and shadow. The most famous examples of this are the more than thirty canvases Monet painted of the facade of Rouen cathedral in the eighteen-nineties.
travel  awareness  experience 
november 2010
The American Conservative -- Killer Robots—What Could Go Wrong?
Singer’s calm exposition, however, does not conceal the alarming substance of his book. Perhaps the most disturbing truth is that a book about military applications of robotics is largely coextensive with a book about robotics in the United States. Singer alludes to the fact that the world leader in robotics is Japan, where technological prowess is used to do productive work on behalf of a skilled but aging population. There robots are “used for everything from farming and construction to nursing and elder care” in a country that contains “about a third of all the world’s industrial robots.” In the U.S., by contrast, civilian applications of robots remain relatively primitive. The field is dominated by defense-oriented research funding and competition for large defense-related government contracts.
military-indusrial-complex  robotics  robots  military  war  automation 
november 2010
Existential Risks: Analyzing Human Extinction Scenarios
Because of accelerating technological progress, humankind may be rapidly approaching a critical phase in its career. In addition to well-known threats such as nuclear holocaust, the prospects of radically transforming technologies like nanotech systems and machine intelligence present us with unprecedented opportunities and risks. Our future, and whether we will have a future at all, may well be determined by how we deal with these challenges. In the case of radically transforming technologies, a better understanding of the transition dynamics from a human to a “posthuman” society is needed. Of particular importance is to know where the pitfalls are: the ways in which things could go terminally wrong. While we have had long exposure to various personal, local, and endurable global hazards, this paper analyzes a recently emerging category: that of existential risks. These are threats that could cause our extinction or destroy the potential of Earth-originating intelligent life.
philosophy  transhumanism  future  risk  existential  scenario  eschatology  extinction 
november 2010
The Beck of Revelation by Mark Lilla | The New York Review of Books
I’m coming to the conclusion that searching for the “real” Glenn Beck makes no sense. The truth is, demagogues don’t have cores. They are mediums, channeling currents of public passion and opinion that they anticipate, amplify, and guide, but do not create; the less resistance they offer, the more successful they are. This nonresistance is what distinguishes Beck from his confreres in the conservative media establishment, who have created more sharply etched characters for themselves. ...He is a perpetual work in progress, a billboard offering YOUR MESSAGE HERE.

...This is the gift of the true demagogue, to successfully identify his own self, rather than his opinions, with the selves of his followers—and to equate both with the “true” nation.
politics  conservatism  resentment  ideology  self-reliance 
november 2010
The Instability of Moderation - NYTimes.com
by Paul Krugman.
"But watching the failure of policy over the past three years, I find myself believing, more and more, that this failure has deep roots – that we were in some sense doomed to go through this. Specifically, I now suspect that the kind of moderate economic policy regime Brad and I both support – a regime that by and large lets markets work, but in which the government is ready both to rein in excesses and fight slumps – is inherently unstable. It’s something that can last for a generation or so, but not much longer."
crisis  recession  fiscal-policy  policy  economics  instability  stability  moderation  model 
november 2010
Stumbling and Mumbling: Managerialism vs technocracy
Managerialism is distinct from management. The latter is a practice, the former an ideology. What's more, this ideology is distinct from technocracy, in several ways:
management  business  ideology  technocracy 
november 2010
Eat and Run : The New Yorker
We can believe the dissenters or not—the way things are going, we probably won’t—but on several points Oliver’s is a valuable voice: obesity is an extremely complex phenomenon; inference from the population to the individual is always highly problematic; no one knows what course of behavior is certain to be good for you; some “cures”—bariatric surgery and the Atkins diet among them—may turn out to be more dangerous than the condition they seek to remedy; nutrition scientists and epidemiologists routinely contradict each other on matters of public policy and in the advice they give to individuals. The problem for the concerned but disinterested observer is not that there is no certainty in these matters; it’s that there are too many certainties. A diet slightly richer in humble pie might do nutrition experts some good.
obesity  health  history  science  expertise  certainty 
november 2010
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