June 6, 2011 archive

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These weekly features-

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The Stars Hollow Gazette

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Our Moron Elites

Remember, they’re ever so much smarter and deserving than you and I.

E.coli: Germany says it might not be bean sprouts

German officials are no closer to finding the source of the deadly E.coli outbreak that has killed 22 people, after admitting it might not be the bean sprouts that they blamed only 24 hours earlier.

By Harry Wallop, Consumer Affairs Editor, The Telegraph

6:31PM BST 06 Jun 2011

After incorrectly blaming Spanish cucumbers, German officials said on Sunday that the source was almost certainly a bean sprout farm in Lower Saxony, in northern Germany.

However, on Monday afternoon German officials admitted that 23 of the 40 samples being tested from the alleged source of the outbreak had proved negative, though it insisted that the suspect farm was still a possible source.

Spanish farmers said that there were no signs that business was recovering, even though German officials admitted last week that Spain was not to blame. Antonio Moreno, who helps run a farmers organisation in Almeria in southern Spain, said: “We are indignant, angry, furious and everything else imaginable.

Two points- Germany is the new Randian exemplar of the 19th Century Gilded Age Capitalism that led to the Pure Food and Drug Act.

Food inspection and communicable disease control are exactly the kinds of programs our Austerian Idiots want to cut.  For the consequences of that particular folly I direct you to Edgar Allen Poe’s Masque of the Red Death

And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death. He had come like a thief in the night. And one by one dropped the revellers in the blood-bedewed halls of their revel, and died each in the despairing posture of his fall. And the life of the ebony clock went out with that of the last of the gay. And the flames of the tripods expired. And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.

The Elephants in the Room

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Now don’t get me wrong, I like Wikipedia from an anarcho-syndicalist standpoint and because I find it presents a fairly accurate consensus view (though not one I necessarily agree with) most of the time.  It’s a very good source for pop culture.  To me the downsides are it’s poorly organized (too much subdivision) and badly indexed (built in search sucks) as well as incomplete in critical parts.  Why no entry for Aqua Duck?

Now we’re all familiar by this point with Sarah Palin’s original flub on Paul Revere-

Frankly, I’m frequently wrong and when confronted by a mistake of this type my general instinct is to say- “I’m sorry, I misspoke.” even when doing so totally invalidates the point I was trying to make.  You know, like H.W. and September 7th-

This is Pearl Harbor Day. Forty-seven years ago to this very day, we were hit and hit hard at Pearl Harbor.

Bush addressing the American Legion in Louisville, Kentucky (7 September 1988).  Love to have a copy of the whole thing, but my Google isn’t up to it.

Remarks to the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana


Thank you all so much. I’m proud to be back with you. This time I’ll remember Pearl Harbor Day, too.

Since that one’s from the H.W. library you can hardly deny it happened.

Sarah has instead decided to double down-

Now the legions of Sarah fans have decided to rewrite history, which is nothing new for Republicans (did I mention I can’t find a transcript of that 1988 speech to the Louisville, Kentucky, American Legion?).  So you don’t have to click through on the LGF links here are the direct links to the discussion pages.


To Duck or Not to Duck


To Duck or Not to Duck

A Marriage Story for all the Skeptics Out There

Recently I attended a Quaker wedding.  Having now introduced the subject of this entire post, the temptation is to add a sufficient  qualifier.  None of the most common phrases used sounds especially elegant.  Same-sex marriage or its compliment, same-gender marriage, sounds pedantic.  Gay marriage sometimes implies that a union between two homosexual people is less authentic or valid than one between a heterosexual couple.  In conclusion, what I will say is that there were two grooms.  And over the past nine months I have gotten to know the both of them, which was why I was put to work that day as the world’s most nervous and highly anxious usher.  Friends tend to be introverted and somewhat socially awkward, and this Friend is no exception.    

Six In The Morning

Steeper Afghanistan pullout is raised as option

Some officials say move is justified by rising cost of war, death of bin Laden

By David E. Sanger, Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker

President Obama’s national security team is contemplating troop reductions in Afghanistan that would be steeper than those discussed even a few weeks ago, with some officials arguing that such a change is justified by the rising cost of the war and the death of Osama bin Laden, which they called new “strategic considerations.”

These new considerations, along with a desire to find new ways to press the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, to get more of his forces to take the lead, are combining to create a counterweight to an approach favored by the departing secretary of defense, Robert M. Gates, and top military commanders in the field. They want gradual cuts that would keep American forces at a much higher combat strength well into next year, senior administration officials said.

Monday’s Headlines:

Muslim women’s group launches ‘jihad against violence’

Blockbusters of cinema’s arthouse

German bean sprouts identified as E.coli source

The shooting of Hamza, the shaming of the Assads

‘Only a matter of time’ before Gaddafi falls

Yet Another Third Way Democrat Victory!

(h/t Chris in Paris @ Americablog)

Tory plans to redraw electoral map could hit Lib Dem seats hardest

Boundary review to equalise and reduce constituencies by 50 could prompt mutiny, with Tory backbenchers also affected

Polly Curtis and Allegra Stratton, guardian.co.uk

Sunday 5 June 2011 21.44 BST

The Liberal Democrats face losing up to a quarter of their seats when a Tory-imposed plan to redraw the entire electoral map comes into force from September, figures seen by the Guardian suggest.

The issue could force a mutiny in the coalition amid mounting evidence that the Liberal Democrats will fare far worse than predicted and with David Cameron facing further tensions with his backbenchers, some of whom are certain to lose their seats.

“The Liberal Democrats clearly did not know what they were agreeing to. It was extremely naive. It’s like turkeys voting for Christmas,” one Labour source said.

Lewis Baston of Democratic Audit, a research group working from Liverpool University, has devised a model of the new map based on the guidelines set out by the legislation behind the reforms. In his version, the Tories would lose 16 seats – 5.2% of their total; Labour would lose 17 – 6.6%; and the Liberal Democrats a crippling 14 – 24.6%. Ministers including Norman Baker, Sarah Teather, Andrew Stunell and Grant Shapps would be among those most vulnerable.

Baston said: “The Liberal Democrats are likely to lose out more than the other main parties because their seats are yellow islands in a sea of red or blue; changing the boundaries is more likely to bring in hostile territories, their majorities tend to be smaller than Labour or Conservative MPs and their Lib Dems trade a lot on incumbency and constituency service. That is disrupted by a boundary review.”

The new seats will be announced from 6 September, making for a summer of uncertainty for MPs. A lengthy consultation will follow in which the parties can make representations to challenge decisions. The new map will be subject to a vote in both houses of parliament, creating a point of rebellion in 2013. One Tory said: “The question is, if you’re a Lib Dem and there is a Labour rebellion, do you join with them in opposing this? You rely on incumbency – being known to your patch – and then not only do you lose that but, by being in government, you’re more unpopular than you’ve ever been. Their party leadership may have decided they can’t ask their troopers to vote it through.”

Voters keep voting for change and they will continue to until they get some.

Late Night Karaoke

Pique the Geek 20110605: Misconceptions about Science

This week we shall explore misconceptions about science generally, and then take a few specific cases for further examination.  There are a few concepts that are essential to understand about what makes science work, and why it is the best tool that we have to understand the natural world, and to use science to improve the human condition.

There are two fundamental large scale misconceptions about science, and we shall treat them first.  Then there are an almost unlimited supply of what I call false science, meaning that scientific terms and logic based on incorrect premises are used in attempts by those who actually know better to influence people.  The fundamental misconceptions are sort of to be expected from folks who are not educated in science, but he false science is used by nefarious persons to influence those not versed in real science, usually for a monetary or a social goal or goals.  Please let us explore.