Dec 24, 2005

I have a history of being strongly in favor of civil rights.

I can't imagine anybody important would be upset about passive radiation monitoring if it wasn't a way to Get BushTM.

If there were some legitimate reason to own large quantities of radioactive materials without government knowledge or control, maybe I'd be more concerned. But I can't think of any.

Under the circumstances, I'd be upset if they weren't monitoring.

Dec 23, 2005

If you want to say, "I hate you, but I'm culturally obligated to give you a Christmas present", is there a better gift than an Arch card?

When has a policy discussion been politicized?
Dec 05, 2005

The Belmont Club asks:

One of the questions I'm interested in exploring is whether politics somehow prevented environmentalists from reaching the conclusions described by the NYT years earlier; and if the answer is yes, whether there is any way, in principle, one can detect whether politics is twisting a current public policy debate away from its rational path.

I wanted to highlight this comment by "meme chose", which I though was wonderful:

The question you focus on, "whether there is any way, in principle, one can detect whether politics is twisting a current public policy debate away from its rational path", is an interesting one.

During the whole time that I have paid any attention to matters of politics and public policy (about 35 years, living primarily in Europe and the US) the answer has appeared to me to be clear and unchanging. The best indicator as to whether this twisting is going on is the readiness of otherwise reasonable people to join in campaigns of character assassination against anyone, particularly anyone with relevant professional expertise, bold enough to suggest that there might be two sides to the argument. I have found this characteristic an infallible tipoff that what is being defended is an article of faith rather than a rational proposition, pro or con....

My own first reaction on seeing this phenomenon is to think that there is probably something fishy about arguments or causes which need defending in this way, but I've been forced to conclude over time that the chance to sign up for a crusade is unfortunately at least as seductive and deeply satisfying to secular folk as it sometimes is to the religious.

That's an excellent standard: "the readiness of otherwise reasonable people to join in campaigns of character assassination against anyone... bold enough to suggest that there might be two sides to the argument."

(My somewhat more cynical answer would be: "Is there a policy discussion? Then it has been politicized.")

French Riots
Nov 07, 2005

What worries me most about the riots is not the riots themselves; it is their disturbing similarity to the trigger events of the previous two World Wars, along with all the political and economic dry powder lying around. All the reading from various blogs I've done and I've only seen hints of this point here and here. The continental Europeans have a history of denying problems and taking the easy way out until things are absolutely out of hand, and then suddenly solving the problem by turning it over to a fascist dictator. Who, upon discovering that his policies aren't really fixing the problems after all, comes up with the brilliant idea of trying to externalize the problem.

Traditionally, this is by attempting military conquest. The military situation of today is of course radically different than fifty years ago and that's not really on the table in any reasonable time span, nor can I really see a France of any kind making a credible nuclear threat. But even though I can't name it, I'm sure they can think of a way to make a lot of people's lives unnecessarily miserable.

When you have eliminated the impossible outcomes, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the possible outcomes. There are only so many ways forward. A priori, "France becomes a fascist state" must be considered a very low probability outcome indeed. But as you start eliminating all the other outcomes that either aren't occuring ("police put down the riots swiftly and effectively") or almost certainly can't occur ("France learns the error of her ways and moves to more effectively integrate her immigrants, by among other things giving up much of the Socialist Dream"), how many probable outcomes are left? At the very least, every day that goes by that the riots get worse, the good outcomes recede farther and farther away, and I am left hoping against hope for "the riots die out on their own"... which if they were going to, they probably should have by now.

This is scary stuff; those low-probability outcomes are coming up on us faster than intuition can readily grasp.

Political Spectrum
Sep 24, 2005

Been really busy with my new job. It's a dot-com, and I tend to spend spare time working on that in a push for First Release, rather than blogging. Plus my net connection during weekdays is basically non-existant. But I had to comment on this; normally I don't do these, in fact I think this is the first time I've posted one of these, but I find this interesting. (I slightly tweaked the HTML they gave me to also display the Bush/Kerry vote chart too.)

You are a Social Liberal (61% permissive) and an... Economic Conservative (68% permissive) You are best described as a: Libertarian Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid

First, if I had to place myself on the politics chart, that's about where I'd do it. Not bad.

Second, the Bush/Kerry vote chart is quite interesting. I think it adds credence to my belief that there were several issues that could have conceivably made me swing Kerry, but that I didn't hear him talk about any of them. Apparently a lot of people near me did get their personal issues talked to, or their disgust with some aspects of the Bush administration overrode the reasons they might have supported it. I'm right on the border, the most likely place future party swings will occur.

It would be fascinating if we could only get some sort of reasonable historical view of that chart over the past 200 years, to see if we could watch the parties swing around in the way you'd expect or not. Unfortunately, that's probably impossible.

The "famous people" chart is interesting, placing me directly between Donald Trump and... Adam Sandler? Huh. (Not included.)

I'm going to see if I can get my wife to try this test.

I get the sense OKCupid actually tried with this test; I don't think it's just something some schmoe put together like the "What Star Wars Character Are You"-type tests. Interesting. Recommended.

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