Thursday, October 8, 2009

Leave it to Coburn

Somehow the junior Senator from Oklahoma got the brilliant idea of proposing ending federal funding of political science research. His amendment will fail, thankfully. I'm not a political scientist, but I did get my training in the social sciences. There does indeed seem to be a great deal of hostility toward social science research, much of it from right-wing extremists, coupled with a misunderstanding of the work social scientists do. Like other scientists, we test hypotheses. It's merely that our focus is on human social behavior, sometimes involving tangible social problems, leading to conclusions that may be inconvenient for those who are rigidly ideological. Let's just say that our work involves more than a few superficial remarks on a news show or a blog, and involves thinking in a way that most of us normally don't. Ordinarily in everyday life, humans look for evidence to confirm their pet hypotheses and then once they've satisfied themselves, they stop seeking. Social scientists look for evidence that may debunk their pet hypotheses, and if their particular hypotheses survive, they continue to search for the limitations of those hypotheses (i.e., for the exceptions to the rule).

I get Coburn. He's anti-intellectual to the core, as are his primary constituents. One thing about this bunch: not only do they themselves wish to shield themselves from "scary" answers by not asking scary questions, but they want to make sure that no one else attempts to ask those same scary questions.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bubbling beneath the surface

Bubbling beneath the surface of the "tea parties" and right-wing publications is the fantasy of a military coup in the US, much like the one that occurred in Honduras earlier this year. And yes, the oligarchs who took over in Honduras are expecting to get away with it, even if there is strong public support in the country for restoring Zelaya as President.

Fisk says the dollar is doomed. Whitney says, not so fast.

Seems to be a bit of panic mongering going on. My non-economist take on things is not to believe the hype. The US dollar will lose its reserve currency status eventually, and that will have some profound consequences for a declining US empire (don't expect much mourning from anyone except the handful that profit handsomely from the current status quo). It won't happen overnight (these things apparently take years or decades to materialize), and it won't be the end of the world.

Musical Interlude

Time to drop some new rhymes by Antipop Consortium - they back, and it's about damn time. New album (Fluorescent Black) drops in less than a week. Here's a Four Tet remix of "Volcano":



This is really just a music track, which is all I really need. Want to see the crew in action? Go check out a post by History Painting, which includes a couple video clips of them in concert.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

"You're a big fat phony!"

The secret to Glen Beck's tears revealed:



Which reminds me of an old Family Guy clip:



But serially...why would anyone in their right mind take anything these clowns on television and talk radio say seriously. The bulk of them make their living playing on fear and cynicism, with a healthy dose of that "my tribe is better than your tribe" mentality thrown in for good measure. I guess if all you care about is truthiness...

How far away are you from the nearest Big Mac?

Apparently there's a spot in South Dakota where you'd have to drive 145 miles to get to a McDonald's (or the McFarthest Spot). I'm out in the western half of the US, and in my sparsely populated region it's not uncommon to have to drive at least ten or twenty miles to get that Big Mac. Personally, I'd just as soon go to one of the mom & pop joints - many look like real dives, but I'll tell you what: as fast food goes, the quality is usually better and the prices sufficiently comparable. Crazy as it may seem to many of my fellow Americans, generic convenience ain't all it's cracked up to be.

H/t BLCKDGRD.