Archive for September 7th, 2008
Having a new immersion blender (this one), I’m making soups. Today’s:
1 onion, chopped
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbs Penzey’s Hot Curry Powder
1 qt Wolfgang Puck Roasted Chicken Stock
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 head cauliflower, cut up (I left on the leaves)
1 yellow crookneck squash, cut up
Sauté onion in olive until for 5 minutes. Add curry powder and sauté 2 minutes more.
Add the chicken stock, garlic, cauliflower, squash, salt, and pepper. Bring to boil and simmer for 30-40 minutes.
Use the immersion blender to blend everything to produce a smooth, thick, and satisfying soup.
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) is the kind of no-nonsense politician who puts out more straight talk in one year than John McCain has in his entire political career and she laid a bit of that on McCain again today in comments on his convention speech last night.
She’s worked with McCain in the Senate for a lot of years and it shows in the following assessment:
Last night at the Republican National Convention, John McCain used the word “fight” more than 40 times in his speech. In the 16 years that we have served together in the Senate, I have seen John McCain fight.
I have seen him fight against raising the federal minimum wage 14 times.
I have seen him fight against making sure that women earn equal pay for equal work.
I have seen him fight against a women’s right to choose so consistently that he received a zero percent vote rating from pro-choice organizations.
I have seen him fight against helping families gain access to birth control.
I have seen him fight against Social Security, even going so far as to call its current funding system “an absolute disgrace.”
And I saw him fight against the new GI Bill of Rights until it became politically untenable for him to do so.
John McCain voted with President Bush 95 percent of the time in 2007 and 100 percent of the time in 2008—that’s no maverick.
We do have two real fighters for change in this election—their names are Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
There is fresh evidence that people spend less when paying cash than using credit, cash-equivalent scrip or gift certificates. They also spend less when they have to estimate expenses in detail. These findings appear in the September issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, published by the American Psychological Association.
The conclusion that cash discourages spending, and credit or gift cards encourage it, arises from four studies that examined two factors in purchasing behavior: when consumers part with their money (cash versus credit) and the form of payment (cash, cash-like scrip, gift certificate or credit card). The results build on growing evidence that, as the authors wrote, “The more transparent the payment outflow, the greater the aversion to spending, or higher the ‘pain of paying.’” Cash is viewed as the most transparent form of payment.
Priya Raghubir, PhD, of the Stern School of Business at New York University, and Joydeep Srivastava, PhD, of the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park, asked participants to read various buying scenarios and answer questions about how much would they spend using cash versus various cash equivalents
Or, if not shutting it down, stonewall and run out the clock till after the election. Josh Marshall:
Newsweek: McCain camp and its Alaska allies move to shut down trooper-gate probe.
Definitely take a look at the Newsweek article. Also take note of the following, that we’re going to be looking into next week. Within days of Palin’s selection, at least seven of her aides and associates, who had previously agreed to cooperate with the trooper-gate investigation, informed investigator Steve Branchflower that they were now no longer willing to be deposed. Note too that this was immediately after the McCain team deployed what George Stephanopoulos reported was a “rapid response team of about ten operatives that includes lawyers” to the state.
So the question is: what contact did representatives of the McCain campaign have with these aides that had agreed to testify but within days of her selection took back their pledge and are now refusing to cooperate?
McCain has a very bad temper and he has difficulty controlling it. David Lightman and Matt Stearns of McClatchy Washington Bureau have a good article on that. It begins:
John McCain made a quick stop at the Capitol one day last spring to sit in on Senate negotiations on the big immigration bill, and John Cornyn was not pleased.
Cornyn, a mild-mannered Texas Republican, saw a loophole in the bill that he thought would allow felons to pursue a path to citizenship.
McCain called Cornyn’s claim “chicken-s—,” according to people familiar with the meeting, and charged that the Texan was looking for an excuse to scuttle the bill. Cornyn grimly told McCain he had a lot of nerve to suddenly show up and inject himself into the sensitive negotiations.
“F–k you,” McCain told Cornyn, in front of about 40 witnesses.
It was another instance of the Republican presidential candidate losing his temper, another instance where, as POW-MIA activist Carol Hrdlicka put it, “It’s his way or no way.”
There’s a lengthy list of similar outbursts through the years: McCain pushing a woman in a wheelchair, trying to get an Arizona Republican aide fired from three different jobs, berating a young GOP activist on the night of his own 1986 Senate election and many more. …
The charge of “elitism” is often hurled at experts—the idea that someone could become expert in some area and that therefore that person’s opinions are worth more than the opinions of the average guy in the street strikes some as incrediblyl elitist. And yet… Here’s a good interview with Harry Collins that appears in American Scientist Online. It begins:
As science and technology inform our society, we find ourselves increasingly reliant on experts. But what is an expert? How can we—professionals, policymakers, voters—assess the advice of others whose competence we don’t share? And what does this mean for the enterprise of science and for our society in general?
In Rethinking Expertise (University of Chicago Press, 2007), Cardiff University sociologists Harry Collins and Robert Evans consider these questions and offer a framework for exploring their import in science and in society. “Only this way,” they write, “can the social sciences and philosophy contribute something positive to the resolution of the dilemmas that face us here and now.”
American Scientist Online managing editor Greg Ross interviewed Collins by e-mail in March 2008.
What led you to this topic?
The idea of analyzing expertise grew out of my long study of the sociology of gravitational wave detection. I’ve slowly become a quasi-member of the gravitational wave community. This means I chat with my new colleagues in restaurants, cafeterias and coffee bars. I began to find I was talking physics—just the normal to-and-fro of science chat. Sometimes I would recommend that they try something different in the experiments and my remarks weren’t just shrugged off; for instance, I might be putting a case that had been considered and rejected for physics reasons that I could follow, or, rarely, I might even get something right.
This began to strike me as interesting: Here was someone, all of whose university degrees were in sociology, talking physics with physicists. I could not do the math, design the circuits or solder wires, and I would never contribute to a physics paper. Yet I could still talk gravitational wave physics.
Then it struck me that the managers of the big gravitational wave experiments, such as the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), were also not doing much in the way of maths, or designing and building experiments, or co-authoring research papers in the field. Most of what they did was mediated by the same kind of talk that I was doing. And I also realized that talk of this kind was what I heard when I sat in on review committees—it was talk that happened in these places, not calculating or experimenting. I could follow most of this talk, and, every now and again, I felt that I could even have offered something. This made me think about the nature of expertise: how my expertise differed from that of the scientists and the managers.
Expertise is important not only within science but also for understanding the public’s relationship with science. Nowadays any parent of a young child, or anyone who can access the Internet, thinks their opinions on technical matters are sound. Many of my colleagues in the social sciences seem to think the same thing. The trouble is that the speed of politics is faster than the speed of scientific consensus formation, so politicians are often faced with making decisions without firm scientific answers to lean on, and this makes science look like anyone else’s opinion. I found I wanted to work out how to value expertise without going back to the bad old days where anyone in a white coat was treated as an authority on anything scientific or technological. We have to solve the very hard problem of reconstructing the value of science when we know it can’t deliver the certainty that people want. Studying expertise may do the trick.
How does one undertake a study of expertise?
Here’s an excellent summary of the outrageous behavior of the police in the Twin Cities during the Republican National Convention. It amazes me that the mainstream media are ignoring this story altogether. The summary is written by a doctor and he includes a daily log of things he himself observed.