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Date:2011-03-14 20:19
Subject:Suggestibility
Security:Public

Huh. My hands didn't move - and I thought I was quite suggestible.

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Date:2011-03-07 21:31
Subject:Didn't they know the Brontosaurus isn't real?
Security:Public

OK, so early humans didn't really coexist with dinosaurs.

But, man it was mean of the ancient people of Utah to take advantage of the gullibility of creationists with their hoax dinosaur pictures! What did they ever do to you?

H/t Sarah Kendrew.

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Date:2011-02-20 11:21
Subject:Christmas nation
Security:Public

I see God supports the separation of church and state.

Or possibly just thinks that February is way too late to take down the decorations.

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Date:2011-02-17 22:56
Subject:Celebrity lookalikes
Security:Public

Anyone else noticed the resemblance between Glenn Beck and Futurama's Zapp Brannigan?

"What makes a good man go neutral? Lust for gold? Power? Or were you just born with a heart full of neutrality?"

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Date:2011-02-05 13:16
Subject:Money and happiness
Security:Public

This (pdf warning) deserves to be the viral hit of the year.

H/T @maralenenok

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Date:2011-01-11 00:37
Subject:I dunno.
Security:Public

All this stuff about moderating the tone of political debate in America in the wake of the Tucson shootings.

I don't see that the Republicans have anywhere to go except screaming and shouting for the time being. When Obama came on the scene, what he clearly brought to politics was a sense of gravitas and measured debate - an academic style of arguing. Like when he did his race speech after all the Jeremiah Wright criticisms.

So if a Republican politician responds by being measured and civilised, he's basically playing to Obama's strengths, and he's going to lose. So what's he going to do? Scream and shout and get crazier and crazier until Obama is drowned out and the playing field is levelled.

So I predict the Beckism and Palinanities will continue.

(As an aside, this shows what a polarising thing the office of President has become. The Pres, by espousing anything, automatically has half the nation against it (the healthcare mandate, which was invented by Republicans, is a good example) - surveys show this. I think the reason is that he's more like a constitutional monarch than people realise - the founders created a strong congress, so he can be successfully opposed, so there's an incentive to oppose, because it makes the opposition look successful, and the Pres like a loser. But he is a focus: presidential elections are the ones people care about, although they are arguably less important than congressional elections, for example.

And this speaks to a weakness in the American constitution in the modern world: the complexities of society today can't be addressed without legislation, which is not the Pres's job. But, unfortunately, Congress is very reluctant to act without a leader, because they're human. So they look to the Pres, whose job it isn't (particularly when he's a constitutional law scholar) to lead them.

So, in congress, which needs to take a lead to get things done, you have the president's party, which is leaderless, and you have the other party, which is incentivised up to oppose. And the situation doesn't change, because the people look at the president and wonder why he can't get anything done, and pay no attention to congress.

Or something.)

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Date:2011-01-06 22:11
Subject:Wake up and smell...
Security:Public

I see that Starbucks have wisely abandoned their claim that the stuff in their cups is coffee.

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Date:2010-11-12 21:13
Subject:What happens when you combine Christmas with a Tea Party?
Security:Public

Ah ha ha.

http://blogtown.portlandmercury.com/BlogtownPDX/archives/2010/11/03/read-the-tea-party-childrens-book-about-how-obama-stole-christmas-no-really

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Date:2010-09-28 22:12
Subject:Virtue
Security:Public

Excellent post by Krugman, summing up an awful lot.

I think, though, that he's only talking about one kind of virtue, the kind that always saves for a rainy day, and looks down on the feckless and luckless.

The other kind, that gives generously even when it's risky to do so, and gives to the undeserving, I think still ought to work pretty well - better than ever, in fact.

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Date:2010-09-25 14:37
Subject:Tour of the Northern capitals #4
Security:Public

This time next week I will be in Washington, DC, visiting alpheratz for a couple of days before going on to spend two weeks in San Antonio.

#1 was Newcastle, the capital of Geordieland, from where a lightning visit to
#2, Edinburgh, to see the Købke exhibition, was made, with my parents.
#3 was a weekend in Copenhagen with Sarah.

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Date:2010-09-12 21:26
Subject:Geek and Gamer Girls
Security:Public

This time tomorrow I'll have seen this linked all over the place...

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Date:2010-09-01 21:04
Subject:Meanwhile, in other shock news
Security:Public

Man who drives car is someone you've never heard of.

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Date:2010-07-13 20:06
Subject:Dancing Auschwitz
Security:Public

Unbelievable.

I mean, if it had just been the kids and their mother, it would have been excruciatingly bad taste. But the grandfather? That's a kind of bravery I can't really get inside the head of.

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Date:2010-06-22 21:40
Subject:Now that's what I call Youtube...
Security:Public

All this map needs is little grey dots for the commuters running for their trains.

ETA: or Mooney, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs. Why didn't I think of that before?

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Date:2010-05-22 20:23
Subject:Texan education
Security:Public

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37271857/ns/us_news-life/ and a non-denumerable number of other links.

I won't bore you with the obvious, since I can't imagine anyone reading this not knowing where I stand, but this is fun:

'conservatives... required that the U.S. government be referred to as a "constitutional republic," rather than "democratic." '

I first saw this meme a few years back, and rather expected it to become ubiquitous (in America) in 2008. While I know there's a theory about avoiding tyranny of the majority etc. this always strikes me as a sort of subliminal partisan advertising

...a republic not a democracy... republican not democratic... Republican not Democratic... omm... omm...

the idea being that by the time children are old enough to vote they will be programmed to do the right thing and vote for the constitutionally mandated party and against the unconstitutional one.

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Date:2010-05-11 14:06
Subject:Oh, that election
Security:Public

I have to say, I think a Lib-Lab coalition would be a bad thing in the circumstances. The Tories would vote down all tax rises and progressive legislation, while standing aside for spending cuts. Meanwhile, the coalition would have to spend all its time proving to the markets that it's macho enough to cut spending. We'd be like America - 'nuff said.

Far better to let the Tories form a minority government. Then Clegg can wake up every morning and think 'what ransom can I extort today?'

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Date:2010-04-20 13:47
Subject:Parsing English
Security:Public

"Wrong in fact and in law"

Wrong in fact means we didn't do it.

Wrong in law means if we did it, it wouldn't have been illegal

if we did it, it wouldn't have been illegal means we did do it (or we wouldn't have bothered mentioning it wasn't illegal).

we didn't do it means we knew it was illegal (or we wouldn't have minded admitting we did it).

Adding both sides and eliminating the common terms, as we say in mathematics:

Wrong in fact and in law means we did it and we knew it was illegal.

I rest my case, m'lud.

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Date:2010-04-15 22:49
Subject:Jökulhlaup
Security:Public

I have a global warming denier colleague and from time to time we pile on him in a desultory sort of way.

Today, though, he was commenting on the flight cancellations because of Eyjafjallajökull, saying things like he didn't see why it was necessary, and no doubt if the planes kept on flying nothing much would happen.

Kind of sums up the mentality, really. Anything that demands action or something out of the norm can't be real. Two others of my colleagues, one a reliability engineer, the other a safety expert, gave him pretty short shrift.

Meanwhile, I can't think of any other word containing the letters 'lhl' (while it's an Icelandic word, there isn't an English equivalent, so anglophone geologists use it).

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Date:2010-03-22 21:58
Subject:US healthcare
Security:Public

As happy_potterer says, congratulations.

I wonder how the GOP will react. On the one hand, relentless obstructionism almost worked, on the other, it's not yet clear what the consequences will be.

Obama's further through his laundry list than I would have said off the top of my head, but some really important stuff for the rest of the world like tackling carbon emissions and banking regulation is stuck in Congress.

What will matter more: Democratic exhaustion, or the dawning realisation by the GOP that they need to be for something?

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Date:2010-03-10 16:17
Subject:Happiness
Security:Public

This is good.

Because it's about a happy event.

Because of the quote: "I often tell my students that, in my humble opinion, one purpose of government is to help people be happy."

Best of all, because of the way that quote makes commenters' heads ass-PLODE like a Star Trek computer asked to calculate the last digit of pi. One is reminded of Aziraphale's comment to Crowley at the beginning of Good Omens (from memory) "I'm not sure it's technically possible for you to do good".

Manicheanism. The mother of all heresies.

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