Author Archives: Dana McCourt

July 6, 2010, 5:44 pm

One wonders what the kerning is on a kitten heel.

I’ve mostly ignored this over the past few months because I believe that examining pictures of a pregnant woman with an eye to figuring out whether her shape is appropriate to the gestation of the fetus is morally degrading to the examiner.  But I have to say that I’m with Amanda here, and I’m very surprised at the quarters whence the newest round of conspiracy theory comes.

Don’t get me wrong.  It strikes me as completely plausible that Palin, a woman whose public persona is constructed around a conservative fantasy, the tough woman who proves liberals wrong by having Christ, a career, children, and a perfect coiffure, exaggerated the extent to which she was in labor during the plane flight (here’s one account, where the doc says she induced labor upon landing)  This would not be surprising for any politician whose career depends more than most on personal charisma and narrative. …

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July 3, 2010, 5:03 am

2nd Meditations on the soccer ball.

So, the U.S. is out.  Not terribly surprising.  Anyone familiar with sports is familiar with the maxim that you have to play the whole game; usually, this is a monition to a team that is winning in the waning minutes.  With us, it’s a reminder to the defense that they have to show up before minute nineteen.

In any event, forward we go in our discussion of reasons Americans don’t like soccer.


June 29, 2010, 6:47 pm

I'd be open to considering a buzzer with some flashing lights.

So England scored a goal that didn’t count because the referee didn’t see it and now my English friends are suddenly of the opinion that perhaps a smidgen of technology might not be the end of the beautiful game.

But… I have to say that this case isn’t the best for either introducing video refereeing or sexy be-chipped soccer balls.   The ball was in by about two yards.  There wasn’t a tough judgment call that needed to be made here that could have gone either way.  They just needed someone on the field seeing the goal!  So we need some line judges, with flags.  Their only job would be to raise the flag when the ball crosses the line; the head referee would still sort out whether someone was offsides, diving, or American* when figuring out whether he should disallow the goal.

I get that the simplicity of soccer is something a lot of people value, and that there’s something to…

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June 17, 2010, 6:37 am

Oh hell.

Someone here has discovered the vuvuzela iPhone app.

June 16, 2010, 8:06 am

1st Meditations on the soccer ball.

It’s that time again, once every four years, when nations from around the globe gather…

… to ponder why Americans don’t like soccer.*  None of the typical explanations are compelling.  Thus I rant, first in a series, in part because it will tweak eric, tongue firmly in cheek, and you may talk about games that you’re watching in comments if you like, or you may rant back:


June 8, 2010, 10:47 am

Inference to the best explanation suggests a boot to the head

what LB said, about this terribly daring article that seems to suggest that the importance of identifying and eliminating bias affecting women in the sciences cannot be determined unless science has established that men and women have the same innate* mathematical abilities.  To this I’d add the following:

1) This argument apparently only works for math. If we’re talking at the level of the facts people normally pull out here, there’s some research that suggests that at the tip of the tail, the brightest men are better at math than the brightest women, and the usual argument proceeds from here to conclude that this explains why men are more likely to be PhD’s in math, etc.  But similar research shows that the best female communicators are better than their male counterparts, and that women are natural consensus builders and yet no one suggests that top literature and political…

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June 4, 2010, 9:13 pm

Step Two: Lock your books in a trunk so they can be re-discovered.

A fun poll asks us what 20th century philosopher will be read in 100 years.  What I find interesting about the list is that it depends on what you mean by read, and by whom?   Are the works to be read as coursework?  for pleasure?  for shaping politics?  Who is the audience?  Professional philosophers?  Trends die quickly,  and the birth of analytic philosophy may be regarded as no more than a passing fancy suitable only for 22nd century historians of philosophy.  (“A New Interpretation of Two Dogmas of Empiricism”; “Hesperus, Phosphorus, and American Cosmology post-1969″; ‘The Trolley, Ethics, and Ancient Rail Safety Protocols”; I will be here all night if I get started)  The general educated public?  Most of the authors on that list aren’t read now by non-specialists.

So much in the past depended on the survival of your manuscripts.  It’s also interesting to consider the…

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May 20, 2010, 1:44 pm

My tax dollars! Mine!

I don’t really care about Rand Paul’s heart of hearts, but I do wonder if the acrobatic tap dance some people do about wondering whether he’s really a racist or just advocating a return to Jim Crow that happens to have racist effects would survive if the questions were put in the following way:

Should your tax dollars be used to pay police to remove people from private businesses solely because the proprietor doesn’t like the color of their skin?

I imagine it would be like one of those push polls where you get different results based on whether you say pro-life or anti-choice or what have you.  But even if it didn’t, it would belie a feature that often is overlooked; this whole debate is not one between those who would prefer a society free of state interference* versus those who think that some state interference is warranted, but a debate over what kinds of rights should have priority…

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May 17, 2010, 9:09 am

The bullet collided with the victim.

A seven-year-old girl is killed by police in an ill-considered botched no-knock raid.

I’ll admit that it’s a non sequitur, and probably necessary for fair and balanced reporting since one of the foreseeable results of a flashbang grenade is lots of chaos and no one knowing what’s going on, which one would think might be a reason not to use grenades in duplexes, but the passive constructions used to describe the killing of the girl is driving me up the wall.

Apparently people don’t kill people, it’s just the officer’s gun firing.

May 5, 2010, 9:35 am

"Coward" works. "Torture-loving fuckwit" does, too.

So Lieberman is a monster.

But logistically, how is this thing supposed to work?  The state accuses someone of terrorism.   If the state waits until after he is convicted, then stripping him of his citizenship is a novel punishment, but not one that would affect how the trial proceeds or the rights the accused would have until the trial.  (And it creates more problems, too; what do you do with a stateless terrorist?  Start deportation proceedings after prison?  Where to?)

If the state doesn’t wait, then the mere suspicion of terrorism is enough to… start legal proceedings to remove someone’s citizenship… so he can… be tried without constitutional protections?   Taken away to be tortured because the magical Miranda fairy dust makes it impossible to interrogate the guy or get him to confess?  (Both of which happened with the Miracle-Gro bomber, here, but let’s not confuse …

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May 4, 2010, 10:31 am

O tempura'd morels.

Note to Congresscritters: reading someone his rights informs him of his rights.  It does not grant them, for he already has the right to remain silent, &c.   You’d almost suspect we’d written this down somewhere in a kind of founding document and refined it through the courts.

All refusing to mirandize a suspect does is foul up the eventual prosecution.  You should have to know this if you’re a Representative.

April 10, 2010, 6:02 am

I can't figure out why there are so few women in this discipline. It must be because logic is hard.

April 9, 2010, 4:55 am

"Suffer the little children" was not a command to abuse.

Linked for truth.  Moreover, suppose Douthat was right about the alleged permissive sexual mores of 1970s Ireland.  What, by all the angels and saints and the holy living mother of the fuck does that explain?  What is that supposed to say about the U.S.? Are we to believe that this sexual liberation permeated the Church hierarchy so thoroughly that they kept the vow of celibacy instead of permitting married priests, but decided that raping children was okay and then constructed a time machine to send the abusers back in time so the authorities could establish a track record of complete wickedness and uselessness?

Look, whether raping children is wrong is not one of the hard ethical questions.  (Maybe Douthat skipped that night at RCIA.) And deciding whether to protect the institution or the rape victims wasn’t supposed to be one of the hard questions, either.

“Contrition” does not …

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March 29, 2010, 8:56 am

A semi-rhetorical question…

Do you think that following the suicide bombing of the Moscow subway that anyone writing articles will bother explaining some of the history concerning Chechnya, or will it all get swept under the heading of monolithic radical Islamic extremism?  (Those damn Caucasian Arabs ….!  What about Iran!)*

/annoyed with reporting

*Note for the slow and tendentious:  I am not saying that the suicide bombing is justified.  Killing people is wrong.  It is a source of frustration that a suicide bombing in Moscow by Chechen terrorists is attributed to nothing more than radical Islam, which is apparently the only monolithic religion on the planet.  By parity of reasoning we should respond to the Catholic sex scandals by investigating the Baptist ministers.

March 11, 2010, 12:08 pm

Wait, how much?

Five?  Five??  Five?!?!? As in, I spent more on a bagel and coffee this morning five the hell what now??