Shorter John Yoo: The Obama administration's misbegotten decision to assassinate rather than apprehend Osama bin Laden was the ineluctable result of the administration's overly fastidious compliance with due process.
"Michelle Obama" has asked James Lindgren to sign Obama's mass birthday card. James "find[s] it hard to say precisely why [he finds] this email a bit creepy." Fortunately for aficionados of shark-jumping, though, he gives it a college try:
[A]sking millions of Americans to sign a birthday card for the President
suggests a tone-deafness about the cult of personality. If we lived in
a dictatorship, getting millions of subjects to celebrate the Dear
Leader’s birthday would be routine, but in a free republic this appeal
to get millions of citizens to celebrate a current president’s birthday
strikes a discordant note to my ear.
No, I am not saying we are in a dictatorship; I am saying that
because we are not, we should not be emulating the trappings
characteristic of that fundamentally different sort of regime. Nor do I
think this is particularly ominous, just a very small step in the wrong
Christopher Edley thinks he’s one of your “betters.”  According to Edley, rubes like us should want our “betters” in
important posts, like the post in which Kagan will serve:
The tension between elitism and populism is embedded in our national
DNA because America rejected the model of a monarch ruling by divine
right in favor of an iffy experiment in democratic self-governance. So now you are responsible for choosing your leader. Do you want someone like you or someone better than you?
an astonishing framework! But so it goes when people like Edley spends
decades inside institutions like Harvard, convincing themselves that
they and their peers are “better” than all the rest of us rubes.
Not fair. What Edley meant, of course, was merely to ask whether in choosing your leader you would want someone better than Yoo.
A preliminary report into the East Anglia climatic research unit suggests that their data was on the up and up. The story is mostly failing to get the kind of attention I thought it wouldn't.
Some of the attention it has failed not to to get, however, has been kind of amusing. Iain Murray, for example, claims that the report is a "whitewash." (Bet you didn't see that coming.) But in support of that thesis, Murray (correctly) paraphrases Roger Pielke's point that "a broad reading of the report reveals an indictment of the state of climate science."
So it's a "whitewash" and an "indictment"? Riiiiight.
Murray's greedy appropriation of Pielke's remarks is more than just incoherent, though; it's dishonest - Pielke clearly disdains the "whitewash" claim as a "sideshow."
Defenders of CRU will no doubt paint the report . . . as a complete vindication of their
arguments and those who have been critical will . . . call the report incomplete or a whitewash.
If you are going to quote someone as support in a blog post named "Climategate Whitewash," you should probably own up to the fact that your authority does not believe that the report is a whitewash.
On the other hand, maybe I'm being unfair - Murray did make that clear enough himself. If only by accident.
Daniel Davies (a.k.a. d squared), usually so right about so much, has published two posts in one day on the two topics he consistently gets wrong.
The first is about the "new atheist" v. "accommodationist" debate. It's a tiresome business, made every bit as tiresome by the indiscriminate flailing of the accommodationists as by the ululating polemics of the new atheists. (See how I did that? I mentioned two opposing cohorts, and then positioned myself as socially and philosophically superior to both by using carefully chosen epithets, all without really dealing with the merits of the competing claims. (One can learn much from the accommodationists.))
DD apparently thinks that Dawkins is getting his comeuppance because, after all, his being called an "utter twat" by mean atheists is only a taste of his own medicine. Yes, finally - payback for all those times Dawkins called this religious figure or that an "utter twat." Whatever.*
The second, and far more egregiously wrong, post is about the nylon v. tortex guitar pick debate. DD blithely claims that "[n]ylon is for jazz, tortex is for rock." What utter tosh. Dunlop's Gator Grip picks are superior for both idioms.
*I realize that the real moral the authors of the linked-to pieces mean to draw is that there is justice in Dawkins' finally being abused by denizens of his own forum, which abuse heretofore had been heaped only upon Dawkins' critics. I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to spot the gaping hole in this argument.
I haven't had time to get up to snuff on the studies (or actually I guess it's just "study") Megan McArdle and others cite in support of the notion that health insurance has no discernible effect on mortality. But there are heuristics one can use to evaluate their claims.
Functional RNA catalysts arise
only once RNA bases are specifically arranged into information-rich
sequences – that is, function arises after, not before, the information
problem has been solved. For this reason, invoking prebiotic natural
selection in an RNA World does not solve the problem of the origin of
genetic information; it merely presupposes a solution in the form of a
hypothetical, information-rich RNA molecule capable of copying itself.
Therefore, God did it.
Okay - the last sentence was mine. But the interpolation fairly captures the logic intended.
BTW, Thomas Nagel has a letter on the same page, who describes himself as having recommended Meyer's book "as a grateful reader." Good heavens.
There are many kinds of truth. There are truths based on facts, truths
based on faith, and truths based on something that sounds as if it
should be true (truthiness). Then there's the kind of truth we find in
Sarah's book: stories and concepts that become truths simply because
she states them. She's a lot like our Lord and Savior, Glen Beck, in
When it comes to empirical questions that speak to the need for health care reform, Megan McArdle knows where to turn to for answers:
[W]e could go to the academic literature. Not the literature from advocacy groups which too often fills the pages of political magazines on the left and right, but something from someplace like Rand. And fortuitously, Rand happens to have published a paper on this very topic!
Similarly fortuitously, the George C. Marshall Institute happens to have published a paper on global warming. Also, the Advancement of Sound Science Center has a paper on the effects of secondhand smoke.