Thursday, July 26, 2012

The news media is broken, part whatever.

No, the problem is not that various parts of the Australian media (Fox Sports, the Herald Sun) are excitedly reporting on a viral video clip of Michelle Jenneke bouncing before a race a few days ago.  The problem is that this all happened, went viral, then disappeared, a few days ago.

The media is a long way behind the news cycle on this, as they are on so many things.  That, in a nutshell, is the problem they face.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Building Things

David at Digby's place adds to the pushback against Romney.

Yes, I've worked hard to earn some modest success. But make no mistake: I haven't built that. I merely stood on the shoulders of a vast network of civilization paid for by tax dollars, without which I would never have had the opportunity to succeed at all.

Read it all.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hello Libertarians!

John Scalzi has a story for you.

Turns out, it doesn't look much like the one you tell.

I am surprised.

How did I not know...

That Paul Krugman wrote a paper on interstellar trade?

It should be noted that, while the subject of this paper is silly, the analysis actually does make sense.  This paper, then, is a serious analysis of a ridiculous subject, which is of course the opposite of what is usual in economics.


Winning comment thread

This post over at Lawyers Guns and Money descends into awesomeness in the comment thread, as the great generals of history get characterised as football coaches.

What, Ghengis Khan's record doesn't count just because he was in the Eastern Conference?

On the other hand, when Alexander played the sport was integrated: Europeans, Africans, Persians, Indians - all got to take part. Napolean was facing a more circumscribed talent pool

Not true - Napolean famously played away games in Egypt and Syria, and wanted to play in India but those stuck up Brits wouldn't let him.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The 'right to bear arms' is a national embarrassment for the USA.

Ladies and gentlemen, Senator Ron Johnson!

"The left always uses the term 'assault rifle,' and they're really talking about semi-automatic weapons that are used in hunting," Johnson explained. "That's what happens in Wisconsin. These are rifles that are used in hunting. Just the fact of the matter is this is really not an issue of guns. This is about sick people doing things you simply can't prevent. It's really an issue of freedom.

That is, the AR-15 rifle with the hundred round magazine is just a hunting weapon...

Is it any wonder that the US stance on gun control (or the lack thereof) is seen as crazy by the civilised world?  Even other Western countries that are big on guns (such as Switzerland, where every male of military age is required by law to have a military grade weapon in their home) have restrictions to stop the rampant abuse of weaponry that just occurred in Colorado.  (In Switzerland, access to ammunition is tightly controlled, and use is tracked.  In the US, this killer bought 6000 rounds online without anyone thinking this might be suspicious).

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Framing is important.

Via LGM, a link to some stats showing that belief in climate change increases during heatwaves (US based, naturally).  It decreases correspondingly during cold winters.

Framing [climate change] as [global warming] in so much of the public discourse is the problem here.  Those who don't pay much attention are going to laugh at the idea of 'warming' when it is cold.

Things have improved in this regard, but the legacy of [global warming] is still dominant.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Daniel Tosh

Daniel Tosh is a comedian.  Last week, he made a rape joke. It wasn't funny.  A female audience member called him on it ('Rape jokes are never funny').  He responded with a gang-rape joke, directed at the audience member ('Wouldn't it be funny if, like, 5 guys...').

 The interwebs have been having a field day with this, both on the 'rape: so funny' and the 'rape: bad' side of things.  I think the whole discussion makes for interesting reading.  Here is my take on it.  In common with other terrible things, rape can be a legitimate subject matter for jokes.  Turns out, lots of people not only agree, but have gone to the trouble of identifying the features of rape jokes that they (comedians / writers / interested observers) see as influencing whether a particular joke about the subject 'works'.

Kate Harding: Rape Jokes that Work

 Needless to say, Daniel Tosh fails by the standards of all the above linked commentators.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Debtor's Prisons

They are a thing in the US.  Because the standard interpretation of Article 11 of the ICCPR ("No one shall be imprisoned merely on the ground of inability to fulfil a contractual obligation") clearly doesn't apply to America.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Messed Up...

(Via Crooks & Liars) So a lifeguard saves some guy who is in trouble outside of the flagged area.  The (private) lifeguard organisation:

a) Congratulates him;
b) Gives him a bonus;
c) Fires him.


Monday, July 2, 2012

Semester over. Semester begins.

My heavy teaching semester has just ended (14 contact hours over 3 courses at 3 different universities).  In the downtime, I packed up my life and shipped it to New Zealand.  Well, I had removalists pack up my life, and it is sitting on a dock in Melbourne, from whence it will hopefully make its way to New Zealand to join me.  This is all in pursuit of my new job as a Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Waikato, which I began today.

With more time on hand, I should have more to say.