Monthly Archives: October 2008

October 28, 2008, 3:27 pm

Nutpicking, or pearls before swine?

Bear with me, I have a headache. So, as I understand it, Obama’s plan to tax the really wealthy consists largely (or entirely) of letting the Bush tax cuts expire instead of extending them. * This is derided as a socialism; but aside from the ridiculousness of the difference between Real American Taxes and Evil Islamic Arugula Socialism being 3% and roughly half a billion bucks…. does this mean we were already socialist during the Bush administration before the tax cuts and didn’t know it?

I thought the socialist barricades would come with a little flag to wave.

*This is the killing vs. letting die distinction, but for taxes!

October 28, 2008, 1:54 pm

Always be closing.

On this day in 1980, Ronald Reagan, during his debate with President Jimmy Carter, suggested to the American people that they should ask themselves a series of questions before voting: “Are you better off than you were four years ago? Is it easier for you to go and buy things in the stores than it was four years ago? Is there more or less unemployment than there was four years ago? Is America as respected throughout the world as it was?” And on and on.

It was a devastating line of attack against an incumbent President. And Reagan, of course, went on to unseat Carter the following Tuesday.

Yesterday, in Canton, Ohio, Barack Obama rolled out his closing argument, highlights of which can be seen below. If you stick around until the 1:45 mark, you’ll hear Obama re-frame Reagan’s central question….

Read More

October 28, 2008, 11:51 am

Some academic notes

First: I have to write some comments for a session at the Central APA. The paper I’m commenting on is by a much smarter guy, but I’m pretty sure he’s wrong. So this puts me in a weird position: I confidently predict I’ll make my objections and then he’ll respond in a smart and convincing way. So at some future moment I’ll believe that he’s right. But I don’t know the content of his reply, so I’m stuck with my current belief that he’s wrong. I’m reminded of al-Ghazali’s discussion of taqlid (more or less beliefs held out of uncritical emulation rather than reasonable enquiry) in Deliverance from Error: it seems that continued belief is incompatible with the recognition that your belief is of this sort. And yet reading this guy’s paper, I can’t but think that he’s not correct. Ah, the epistemology of everyday life. (Fine, I know about the al-Ghazali discussion only because Gideon…

Read More

October 27, 2008, 2:21 pm

Keep you close to the Lord.


Wire cast campaigns for Obama, via Spackerman.

RALEIGH— Tomorrow, members of the cast of the Peabody Award-winning drama series, The Wire will attend a Backyard Brunch for Barack in Raleigh. Seven of the show’s cast members will visit the Tarheel State in support of the change Barack Obama will bring across the country and in North Carolina.

Chad Coleman who plays Dennis “Cutty” Wise, Deidre Lovejoy who plays Rhonda Pearlman, Jamie Hector who plays Marlo Stanfield, Clarke Peters who plays Detective Lester Freamon, Sonja Sohn who plays Detective Shakima “Kima” Greggs, Seth Gilliam who plays Sergeant Ellis Carver, and Gbenga Akinnagbe who plays Chris Partlow will all appear at the backyard brunch on Sunday.

On Monday, Chad Coleman, Deidre Lovejoy, and Jamie Hector will visit UNC Chapel Hill and Duke University to…

Read More

October 27, 2008, 12:05 am

Happy birthday to EotAW.

I remember well how, on this day in 2007, I logged in to WordPress and started a new blog. Then, fatefully, I let Ari have the keys. In fairness, though, it was mostly Ari’s idea. The rest of this post is pure self-indulgence and a stab at one or two FAQs so I’ll put it under the fold.

October 27, 2008, 12:02 am

Shaky colonialism.

[Chuck Walker has decided to squander some of his precious time today by posting on the 1746 Lima earthquake. Chuck's extraordinary new book, on the same subject, can be found here. Thanks, Chuck, for agreeing to join us.]

On this day in 1746 a massive earthquake walloped Lima, Peru, the center of Spain’s holdings in South America. Tumbling adobe walls, ornate facades, and roofs smothered hundreds of people and the death toll reached the thousands by the next day. About ten percent of this city of 50,000 died in the catastrophe. The earthquake captured the imagination of the world, inspired Lima’s leaders to try to rethink the city, and unified the city’s population–in opposition to these rebuilding plans. With constant aftershocks and horrific discoveries of the dead and wounded, despair as well as thirst and hunger set in quickly. Life was miserable for a long time. Lime…

Read More

October 27, 2008, 12:01 am

What’s black and red and wrong all over?

Via the super-cool litbrit at cogitamus.

October 26, 2008, 3:11 pm

“There never was such a fog”

On this date sixty years ago, a poisonous fog descended on the small town of Donora, Pennsylvania. An industrial community located 28 miles south of Pittsburgh, Donora’s economy depended on the American Steel and Wire Plant (a two-factory complex owned by US Steel) and the Donora Zinc Works. Although the three plants provided the livelihood for thousands of workers, air pollution had been a problem in the region since prior to World War I, as farmers reported periodic livestock deaths and crop damage. Several lawsuits were settled out of court during these years; a routine air sampling program, however, was halted in 1935.

On 26 October 1948, effluents from the town’s factories — including suphur dioxide, fluoride, carbon monoxide, and dusts from assorted heavy metals — were trapped by an air temperature inversion that swaddled Donora’s 13,000 residents in a deadly haze for five…

Read More

October 26, 2008, 12:17 pm

Avoid any felonies and stay away from the butterfly ballot, Opie.

Also, the Fonz was wr— … I mean, he was wr— …

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.732082&w=425&h=350&fv=key%3Dcc65ed650d%26autostart%3Dfalse%26internal%3Dtrue]

October 26, 2008, 12:09 pm

Wassup 2008.

October 25, 2008, 2:56 pm

October roses.

October 24, 2008, 7:15 pm

The fish in Jonah’s barrel? Shot dead.

Below the fold you’ll find a copy of the paper I presented today. As I’ve said before, when I write a talk, I write a talk. I don’t write an essay that just so happens to be read aloud. I revise based on what I hear when I read aloud, so as to avoid speaking sentences that can’t be parsed on the fly like, say, this one:

Tina told Mark that John thought Pauline knew what Sam had planned for Justine, but Pauline insisted she had no idea John believed that, nor whether the look Justine exchanged with Mark at work yesterday meant that Tina had inadvertently revealed Sam’s trap before John and his brother Adam could spring it.

My shorthand’s pretty straight-forward: ALL CAPS means emphasis, en dash short pause, em dash longer pause, &c.  Some of the sentences are, yes, ungrammatical when written down—but when read aloud, they make more sense.  (There are complicated linguistic reasons …

Read More

October 24, 2008, 3:41 pm

John McCain? Or Joe the Stalin?

This, from McCain in 2000, is virtually identical to Obama’s answer today. Isn’t it?

October 24, 2008, 10:01 am

A mysterious something.

On this day in October 1923, a committee in Stockholm met to consider giving the Nobel Prize in medicine to Frederick Banting, one of the discoverers of insulin.  The Nobel committee’s decision the next day to  honor both Banting and another researcher so infuriated Banting that he considered giving the prize back.  The fight between the prickly Banting and University of Toronto Physiology Professor John Macleod over the Nobel Prize was just one of the many strange and remarkable aspects of the discovery of insulin, a scientific breakthrough that saved the lives of millions of diabetics all over the world and helped usher in the modern era of medical research.

Banting, who would become the first Canadian to win the prize, and Macleod, a Scotsman, were jointly honored for the discovery of insulin the previous year. A struggling surgeon with no research experience, no doctorate, and…

Read More

October 24, 2008, 7:15 am

Some (more) perils of public intellection.

Yesterday afternoon I talked to a very kind and pleasant reporter and camera crew from CBS News for three hours about the Great Depression and New Deal, both as history and as compared to the present crisis, as far as one can. This was for what they called a “turnaround” documentary—i.e., one commissioned quickly for quick production—to appear on the History Channel.

About halfway through I began thinking, boy, I thought live interviews are bad: but maybe tape is worse! In a live interview you might say something dumb because it’s live; in a taped interview—especially one that goes three hours and in which they ask you to recall myriad facts and figures off the top of your head, without telling you which they might be in advance—you’re guaranteed to say something dumb at some point. Probably several somethings.