Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for January 12th, 2007

Jon Stewart on Bush’s Big Speech

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Part 1:

Part 2:

Written by LeisureGuy

12 January 2007 at 7:54 pm

Procrastination not from perfectionism

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Interesting. Another myth bites the dust:

The reason we procrastinate may be more about confidence than perfectionism, a new study says. Contrary to popular belief, procrastinators generally aren’t perfectionists; instead, they’re more likely to delay tasks they’re not confident about, says researcher Piers Steel, PhD.

Steel is an assistant professor in the human resources and organizational dynamics department of Canada’s University of Calgary. “Essentially, procrastinators have less confidence in themselves, less expectancy that they can actually complete a task,” Steel says in a University of Calgary news release.

“Perfectionism is not the culprit,” he continues. “In fact, perfectionists procrastinate less, but they worry about it more.”

Steel reviewed procrastination research from scholarly books, conferences, journals, and other sources. His review appears in the January edition of the American Psychological Association’s Psychological Bulletin.

Procrastination has been around ever since civilization began and “does not appear to be disappearing anytime soon,” writes Steel. So he boiled procrastination down to a mathematical formula.

The formula predicts procrastination based on a person’s expectation of finishing a task, the task’s importance, the person’s desire to complete the task, and how soon the task needs to be done.

The formula suggests people are less likely to procrastinate if the task has to be done ASAP and they feel confident they are up to the task. It suggests people are more likely to procrastinate if the task is less urgent, less appealing, or daunting to the person facing the task.

Other factors may also be involved, Steel notes. For example, he points out that rebellious people may tend to procrastinate tasks given by authority figures; and depressed people may procrastinate due to low energy.

More research is needed on procrastination, and the sooner, the better, Steel concludes.

SOURCES: Steel, P. Psychological Bulletin, January 2007; vol 133: pp 65-94. News release, University of Calgary.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 January 2007 at 5:27 pm

I just hope you’re reading Glenn Greenwald

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He has an excellent post on the Bush expansion of Presidential powers, in the context of Bush going to war with Iran without Congressional approval or even notification. Important to read, I think.

And he has a good post on what the GOP considers to be “serious,” which includes this:

Even though it is only mid-January, I am absolutely certain that Peggy Noonan, in today’s Wall St. Journal, wrote what will be the year’s most ironic column. After sharing her dislike for the President’s speech (“One couldn’t find the personal geography of the speech”) and expressing some muddled, rationale-free resistance to the “surge,” Noonan laments that the real problem with the country is that the Democrats are so “superficial”:

The second is the power vacuum that will be created in Washington if the administration is, indeed, collapsing. The Democrats of Capitol Hill will fill that one. And they seem–and seemed in their statements after the president’s speech–wholly unprepared to fill it, wholly unserious in their thoughts and approach. They seem locked into habits that no longer pertain, and absorbed by the small picture of partisan advancement at the expense of the big picture, which is that there nation is in trouble and needs their help. They are sunk in the superficial.

In the very next paragraph — the very next one — this is her complaint about the Democrats:

When Nancy Pelosi showed up at the White House Wednesday to talk with the president it was obvious she’d spent a lot of time thinking about . . . what to wear. She wrapped herself in a rich red shawl. Dick Morris said it looked like a straitjacket. I thought she looked like a particularly colorful mummy.

Seriously, how is it even possible that this thought did not occur to Noonan as she wrote her column: “My criticism of the Democrats is that they are so superficial and unserious, and to prove that, I’m now criticizing Nancy Pelosi for her clothing choices. I seem to be exhibiting, as completely and transparently as possible, the very flaw which I am attributing to Democrats.” Wouldn’t just a minimally functioning human brain compel that recognition?

In any event, Noonan’s “argument” here illustrates a larger point. As always, “serious” means “one who (a) takes every and any position on the war except for withdrawing, or (as in Noonan’s case) (b) takes no position at all but who expresses much concern and emphasizes how Serious these Matters Are.” As an addendum: repeatedly advocating positions that directly contradict previously advocated positions (or even misrepresenting one’s prior, now-discarded positions) is no bar whatsoever to Seriousness status, provided that withdrawal is never, at any time, one of the advocated positions.

Conversely, “unserious” (or, in Noonan’s lexicon, “superficial”) means “advocating an end to the war now, rather than in some vague, distant, indiscernible, never-to-arrive future.” That is what Pelosi has done. Hence, Pelosi (unlike Noonan, who has no position) is “superficial” and “unserious.”

Among the political and punditry establishment, there has emerged a consensus that there is only one way to show that one is a truly respectable, mainstream, Serious Thinker about the war. It is to do this:

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 January 2007 at 5:14 pm

Posted in GOP, Government, Iran

Reid’s bad efforts foiled

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From TPMmuckraker:

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) went to the wall for a watered-down reform proposal, which would have kept the public from knowing which lawmakers inserted billions of dollars worth of earmarked expenditures. Republicans, with the help of nine Democrats (and Joe Lieberman), kept him at bay by pushing an amendment that would force nearly all earmarks to be identified by their sponsors. [In this case, good for Joe. – LG]

Today, Reid appears to have accepted defeat. From CQ (sub. req.):

After losing a critical floor vote Thursday and scrambling in vain to reverse the decision, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., found the spirit of bipartisan compromise more to his liking Friday morning.Reid offered an olive branch to Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., agreeing to embrace his amendment to a pending ethics and lobbying overhaul (S 1) with some modifications. DeMint’s amendment, which Democratic leaders tried but failed to kill on Thursday, would expand the definition of member earmarks that would be subject to new disclosure rules. . . .

Friday morning, a chastened Reid said, “Yesterday was a rather difficult day, as some days are. We tend to get in a hurry around here sometimes when we shouldn’t be. Personally, for the majority, we probably could have done a little better job.”

Written by LeisureGuy

12 January 2007 at 5:07 pm

Posted in Congress, Democrats

Robert Gates is sort of scary

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Maybe it’s the Age of Incompetence. From ThinkProgress:

“I would confess I’m no expert on Iraq.” – Defense Secretary Robert Gates, during congressional hearings yesterday. “Later, asked about reaching the right balance between American and Iraqi forces, he told the panel he was ‘no expert on military matters.‘”

Written by LeisureGuy

12 January 2007 at 5:00 pm

Get rid of the competent people

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I’ve commented in previous posts about how the Bush Administration is clogged with incompetents, and how incompetents love each other. Now they’re moving to get rid of any competents who may have been accidentally appointed:

The Bush administration has quietly asked San Diego U.S. Attorney Carol Lam, best known for her high-profile prosecutions of politicians and corporate executives, to resign her post, a law enforcement official said.


Carol Lam

Lam, a Bush appointee who took the helm in 2002, was targeted because of job performance issues – in particular that she failed to make smuggling and gun cases a top priority, said the official, who declined to be identified because Lam has yet to step down.

Lam has had high-profile successes during her tenure, such as the Randy “Duke” Cunningham bribery case – but she alienated herself from bosses at the Justice Department because she is outspoken and independent, said local lawyers familiar with her policies.

When she took over, Lam made it clear that she planned to focus less on low-level smuggling cases in favor of public corruption and white collar crime, which would mean fewer but more significant prosecutions.

Lam declined to comment yesterday.

Several prosecutors in Lam’s office and many defense lawyers said yesterday that they were unaware of her impending dismissal, and were universally shocked by it.

“It’s virtually unprecedented to fire a U.S. Attorney absent some misconduct in office,” said criminal defense attorney Michael Attanasio, a former federal prosecutor. “This office has clearly made a priority of investigating and prosecuting white collar offenses and has had occasional success doing so,” he said. “One would think that would be valued by any administration, even if it meant fewer resources were devoted to routine and repetitive border crimes.”

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Written by LeisureGuy

12 January 2007 at 4:48 pm

Bush’s fantasyland

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From Informed Comment:

Bush Sends GIs to his Private Fantasyland

To listen to Bush’s speech on Wednesday, you would imagine that al-Qaeda has occupied large swathes of Iraq with the help of Syria and Iran and is brandishing missiles at the US mainland. That the president of the United States can come out after nearly four years of such lies and try to put this fantasy over on the American people is shameful.

The answer to “al-Qaeda’s” occupation of neighborhoods in Baghdad and the cities of al-Anbar is then, Bush says, to send in more US troops to “clear and hold” these neighborhoods.

But is that really the big problem in Iraq? Bush is thinking in terms of a conventional war, where armies fight to hold territory. But if a nimble guerrilla group can come out at night and set off a bomb at the base of a large tenement building in a Shiite neighborhood, they can keep the sectarian civil war going. They work by provoking reprisals. They like to hold territory if they can. But as we saw with Fallujah and Tal Afar, if they cannot they just scatter and blow things up elsewhere.

And the main problem is not “al-Qaeda,” which is small and probably not that important, and anyway is not really Bin Laden’s al-Qaeda. They are just Salafi jihadis who appropriated the name. When their leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was killed, it didn’t cause the insurgency to miss a beat. Conclusion: “al-Qaeda” is not central to the struggle. Izzat Ibrahim Duri and the Baath Party are probably the center of gravity of the resistance.

Bush admitted that the Sunni guerrilla destruction of the Askariyah (Golden Dome) shrine at Samarra set off an orgy of sectarian reprisals. But he does not seem to have actually absorbed the lesson here. The guerrillas did not have to hold territory in order to carry out that bombing. They just had to be able to sneak into a poorly guarded old building that Bush did not even know about and blow it up. The symbolic and psychic damage that they did to the Shiites was profound. Blowing up hundreds of worshippers on Ashura had not had nearly this impact, since the damaged shrine was dedicated to the hidden Twelfth Imam or Mahdi, the Shiite promised one. Many religious Shiites in Iraq are now millenarians, desperately waiting for the Promised One to reveal himself and restore the world to justice. The guerrillas hit the symbol of that hope.

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Written by LeisureGuy

12 January 2007 at 4:28 pm

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