Later On

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

Archive for January 30th, 2012

Interesting: Krugman points out Broder’s error

with one comment

High-level columnist usually hew to a doctrine of “publish and forget” and extend to colleagues the courtesy in the (generally realized) hope of having the favor returned: howlers go unnoted, ludicrously wrong predictions are passed over in silence, and so on.

But sometimes a columnist will point out a glaring idiocy in the ignorant ramblings of a colleague. David Broder wrote political commentary for 40 years, but the last ten years saw a downward drift in quality as he gradually seemed to lose touch.

Krugman rightly points out that, had the President actually listened to Broder’s prescription, the US would be in even worse shape than it is now.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2012 at 10:54 am

Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona: Pathological liar

with 2 comments

I’m not sure whether the term is “pathological liar” or “compulsive liar”: what do you call someone who lies even when the lie is evident and sure to be exposed? Whatever the term, that’s Gov. Brewer. This amazing account is by Nick Martin at TPM Muckraker:

Back in 2010 as she defended her state’s harsh immigration law, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) told a newspaper reporter that she was deeply hurt by the terrible names people were calling her. The worst, she said, were the comparisons to the Nazis.

“They are awful,” she said. “Knowing that my father died fighting the Nazi regime in Germany, that I lost him when I was 11 because of that…and then to have them call me Hitler’s daughter. It hurts. It’s ugliness beyond anything I’ve ever experienced.”

The problem, as many discovered after the quote went viral, was that it wasn’t true. Brewer’s father had in fact died of lung disease in California in 1955, a decade after WWII ended.

As Brewer now faces the fact that another one of her stories is coming under question, this one involving an encounter she had with President Obama, a pattern appears to emerging in her career: The popular conservative bomb thrower often has trouble with the truth.

The governor made the rounds on the cable news networks last week, talking about her run-in with the president on an airport tarmac near Phoenix.

Brewer called it a “tense” encounter in which Obama criticized her book and then walked away from her while she was in mid-sentence. But two other officials who witnessed the encounter said Obama was nothing but calm and described the event as little more than an“awkward moment.”

Still, the governor has used her version of the encounter to get plenty of air time, seeing an increase in sales of her book which she has called a “truth telling” tome. Amazon ranked “Scorpions for Breakfast” at No. 7 on its best sellers list on Friday. The day of the event, the book had been at No. 343,222.

On Friday, her spokesman told TPM the governor is standing by her version of events. But that spokesman, Matthew Benson, also acknowledged the governor has stumbled on certain facts in the past.

“She’s also been in political life for nearly three decades,” Benson said. “Has she ever said things that she wish she’d said more precisely? Of course.”

“I imagine President Obama would say the same thing,” he added.

In the past, when Brewer has been confronted about inaccurate statements, her first move has been to maintain she was right no matter how clear the matter was.

When a journalist for the Arizona Guardian first pointed out the discrepancy between how Brewer’s father actually died and what she had told another news organization, the governor got angry.

“There is no way I have ever misled anybody,” she said. “You’re trying to make a liar out of me.”

Later that same year, the governor went on Fox News to decry the effect illegal immigration was having on her state. Among the problems, she said, were that people were getting their heads cut off.

“We cannot afford all this illegal immigration and everything that comes with it, everything from the crime and to the drugs and the kidnappings and the extortion and the beheadings,” she told Fox’s Greta Van Susteren.

When quizzed about the fact that no beheadings had been reported in Arizona at that point, Brewer doubled down on the statement.

“Our law enforcement agencies have found bodies in the desert, either buried or just lying out there, that have been beheaded,” she said.

Neither she nor her office could point to an example of when anything like that had taken place. However, she continued to maintain for the next four months that she had not misspoken. Then in November of 2010, just days before her election, she relented.

“That was an error,” she said, then added: “if I said that.”

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2012 at 10:40 am

Posted in GOP, Government

Going down singing

with 3 comments

This post contains an absolutely marvelous song, the post providing the essential background. Do click through, watch, listen, and think: the last graph is particularly impressive. In a sense.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2012 at 10:05 am

Posted in Daily life, Government

Entire state turns its back on science

leave a comment »

It’s truly amazing what religious fundamentalist zealots can do. The Taliban was one example, certain Indiana state senators are another: refusing to countenance the findings of science because of a strange misunderstanding of the role of religion, they are now demanding that the Genesis creation myth be taught as though it were fact. I would guess this is a combination of ignorance and ill-will; it does show the effects religion can have on an untrained mind. Bob Grant reports in The Scientist:

By a margin of 8-2, the Indiana State Senate’s Education Committee passed a bill designed to insert the teaching of “creation science” alongside evolutionary theory in public school science classrooms. Senate Bill 89, which the Republican-dominated committee passed last week, would give schools the freedom to decide if they wanted to allow “the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life,” one of which is creationism.

According to The Times of Northwest Indiana, scientists and religious leaders in the state oppose the bill. “Creation science is not science,” Purdue University professor of science education John Staver told the committee. “It is unquestionably a statement of a specific religion.” Reverend Charles Allen, head of Grace Unlimited, an Indianapolis campus ministry, concurred, telling the committee that he would prefer students to be taught religion in a comparative manner rather than trying to “smuggle it in” to a science course.

Staver added that passage of the bill would likely stir up lengthy and expensive legal challenges in the state. “All that the citizens of Indiana are going to get from this bill are wasted legal efforts, lawyer fees, and penalties,” he told the Senate committee, according to the Columbus, Indiana, newspaper The Republic.

And Staver’s prediction may already be coming true. Indiana’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union released a statement arguing that teaching creationism in public schools is unconstitutional. “The idea that somehow our state legislature can trump the Constitution just doesn’t make sense,” the ACLU of Indiana’s head lawyer Ken Falk said in the statement. “When lawmakers propose legislation they clearly know will end up in the courts, it wastes valuable time and resources, disrespects the legislative process, and confuses an already complicated issue.”

The bill will now be considered by the full Indiana Senate, which, according to the Chicago Tribune, has until this Wednesday to win approval.

“Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain.”

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2012 at 9:04 am

Digital textbooks: The dam shows leaks

leave a comment »

Publishers do NOT want digital textbooks—my God! students and teachers will next be creating open-source textbooks, and then what will poor publishers do? It’s hard enough for them to keep up the rat race of making this year’s editions obsolete to destroy their resale value before bringing out next year’s $100 textbook—or am I pricing it low?

Now, with easy-to-use apps and modern technology all networked together, students and teachers are taking matters into their own hands. Sabrina Richards writes for The Scientist:

Students and scientists at Duke University have collaborated to produce a free, open-source textbook devoted to marine science,  called Cachalotreported Wired Science. Although Cachalot (sperm whale in French) was designed for a specific class, Marine Megafauna, it’s currently available as an app for anyone with an iPad. Its digital platform, FLOW, was built by Duke University computer science students, and enables Cachalot users to take notes, connect to Twitter, and watch National Geographic videos. Users will also be connected to up-to-date science, with peer-reviewed text, images, and open access studies contributed by marine science experts.

Though FLOW, which was designed in one semester with less than $5,000, may not be as flashy or comprehensive as commercial digital textbooks, it’s intended for a specialized audience, said David Johnston, the Duke professor who spearheaded the project.

“We’ve created a simple tool for specialized subjects where there isn’t a textbook, and knowledge advances quickly. Being an open source effort gives academics the flexibility they need,” Johnston told Wired. His goal is to make FLOW a “cross-platform tool,” Johnston said; it should be available to Android tablets sometime this autumn. The Marine Ventures Foundation plans to support the commercialization of FLOW, which Johnston hopes to expand into a venture that enables other institutions and NGOs to design their own digital textbooks.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2012 at 8:56 am

Posted in Books, Education, Technology

Soaked horsehair brush and Figaro

leave a comment »

This morning I tried soaking a horsehair brush. As with the badger, the soaking did make it softer somewhat. With badger and horse, the contrast between soaked and not is not so dramatic as with boar, which truly does require soaking, but the soaking does produce a softer brush. On the whole, though, the return is not quite enough to warrant the effort for me, but YMMV, so you should give it a go sometime and see what you think.

Figaro is a fine, firm shaving cream, and the lather was excellent. Three passes of my Mühle with the new head (same as the Edwin Jagger DE8x series head) holding a Personna 74, a splash of Geo. F. Trumper West Indian Extract of Limes aftershave, and I’m ready for the week—which I trust will be much less eventful than the week just past.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2012 at 8:27 am

Posted in Shaving

%d bloggers like this: