The science of cuteness, cont.
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The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.
This confluence of events presents the unlikely but completely plausible scenario in which 1) military boys star in gay porn which is 2) subsequently used by military interrogators in Guantanamo to torture prisoners in violation of international law then 3) these same military boys are prosecuted for acts which are perfectly legal under civilian law but remain punishable offenses under a silly and discriminatory set of military policies while 4) the torturers and their supervisors get off totally scot-free. Ain't that America.
• Simply installing a democratic or partially democratic regime is unlikely to produce political stability. When considering policy options, the full range of risk factors confronting such regimes should be in taken into account. Efforts to reduce the vulnerability of new or partial democracies to state failure are unlikely to succeed unless they also address other risk-mitigating factors, such as high levels of material well-being and openness to trade.
• Elections themselves do little to ensure the stability of democracy. In fact, the major democratic institution we found to be most strongly associated with instability in partial democracies is some form of executive or legislative elections. What seems to distinguish the more stable democracies from the unstable partial democracies is not the occurrence of elections but the presence of legislatures that are genuinely effective at making laws and constraining executive authority. (p. 36)
Our analysis shows that Muslim countries with democratic or partially democratic regimes confront odds of failure more than five times as high as Muslim autocracies. At first blush, that finding seems to support the view that Islam and democracy mix uneasily. In fact, democracies and partial democracies historically have failed at about the same rate around the globe as they do in the Muslim world. (p. 49)
The study also questions the scientific rationale behind a bill pending in Congress that would ease procedures for post-fire logging in federal forests. This, in turn, has annoyed the bill's lead sponsor, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), who has received far more campaign money from the forest products industry than from any other source, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.), another member of the subcommittee and a co-sponsor of the forest recovery bill, was even more disgruntled. He charged Donato [the study's lead author] with a long list of professional failings and character flaws, including "deliberate bias," lack of humility and ignorance of statistical theory.
Salvage logging and replanting can often succeed, Franklin said, if the intent is to turn a scorched landscape into a stand of trees for commercial harvest.
If, however, Congress wants to promote the ecologically sound recovery of burned federal forests, Franklin said, the overwhelming weight of scientific research suggests that "salvage logging is not going to be appropriate."
It is painfully and transparently obvious that if the situation were reversed -- if the UAE deal had been approved by a Gore administration -- the arguments would simply switch sides. All the Republicans would raise the objections now being made by the Democrats, and the Democrats would easily refute the arguments they now cling to with such fervor.
# Dubai Ports World (DPW) will be controlling our ports! - Wrong. That was and always will be the job of the (American) Department of Homeland Security, not just at the ports DPW would operate but at ALL ports nationwide.
# DPW is buying our ports! - No, they are just the port/terminal managers. The ownership remains in the hands of the American government.
# Bush is handing over our critical infrastructure to DPW! - No, being the manager of a port doesn't make you in charge of "critical infrastructure". The people in charge of the ports have ALWAYS been and will always be American law enforcement
# DPW will bring in a bunch of foreigners to take American jobs! - No, the majority of work at ports is conducted by American unionized longshoremen. This will not change if DPW is given the contract.
# I saw a picture of Bush holding hands with the Dubai royal family! - No, actually most of the photos I've seen on the blogosphere in connection with this story were of the Saudi royal family and Bush.
# Two of the 9/11 hijackers were from the UAE! - Yes and even assuming that's accurate, so what? Show me the ties between the Dubai royal family and the 2 UAE hijackers and then I'll get concerned.
Regardless of whether particular politicians or commentators are racist as individuals, the cumulative effect is the same: it is the unwarranted, indefensible, and altogether disgusting demonization of an entire people.
the port story is exceedingly simple: foreigners are going to take over our ports! And they're not foreigners like us, the way the British are. They're those people. Those people are crazy! They want to kill us! If this deal goes through, we're all going to die! It's pathetic.
Prompted by Heidi Klum's innocent question "Andrae, what were you thinking about this challenge?", he starts ranting about what fashion means to him, which prompts unimaginably abrupt oscillations between tears and laughter and British and valley girl accents. "The question Tim posed to us was how far would you go for fashion?" he recounts through sobs, and you know he deeply and profoundly understands the philosophical grandeur of this seemingly inane question. And he goes that far for fashion, right before our eyes. And beyond.
Watch Andrae Gonzalo break down
Heidi interrupts with a few perplexed, bobbleheaded questions ("are these happy tears or sad tears?" she asks in that squeaky sex-robot voice), but it's Andrae's show, and his show must go on and on and on, for a full, excruciating ten minutes. During the reunion special they only broadcast an edited version, with a superimposed stopwatch helpfully charting its duration. Toward the end the funnier contestants, all standing near him on the runway having to endure this madness, were hiding their laughter, and the cheesier contestants were crying (at, I suppose, the beauty of his sentiment). I almost hyperventilated from laughter.
However, another strong contender for highlight of the reunion special might have been the following exchange between the bitchy fashion mentor Tim Gunn and a very drunk contestant:
Tim: "Here's a question from a viewer named Arian. Guadalupe, did you feel your elimination was fair even though Marla had plagiarized the dress Nicky Hilton had worn before?"
Guadalupe: "Honestly I can only give him a personal critique. No one would ever know, unless they personally respond to me, would know what my personal response is, and that is of me, and personally I believe you can't, like, push the values, and, like Johnny Cash, walk the line. Understand that Marla has an aesthetic that I cannot duplicate but Marla has an aesthetic that she cannot duplicate. [Guadalupe suddenly becomes passionate and addresses the camera] And Arian, on national television, you fucking rock because you believe in what is true. Period."
Tim [not amused]: "That is the biggest load of bullshit I've heard in weeks."
People living in poverty become happier if they become richer—but the effect of increased wealth cuts off at a surprisingly low figure. The British economist Richard Layard, in his stimulating book “Happiness: Lessons from a New Science,” puts that figure at fifteen thousand dollars, and leaves little doubt that being richer does not make people happier.
The study showed that people were most content when they were experiencing what Csikzentmihalyi called “flow”—in Haidt’s definition, “the state of total immersion in a task that is challenging yet closely matched to one’s abilities.” We are at our happiest when we are absorbed in what we are doing; the most useful way of regarding happiness is, to borrow a phrase of Clive James’s, as “a by-product of absorption.”
In a nutshell, this is UNITE HERE's Fight Of Their Life. At least for the HERE side of the recently-merged union. This is the fight they've been building to for the past four years. In late 2002 (or thereabouts), the union decided that they couldn't keep dealing with their industry in the traditional manner. By way of contrasting example, let's take a parenthetical look at the supermarket fight of 2004: the UFCW had dozens of contracts all over the country with the same small handful of companies. These contracts were negotiated locally, even though the employers were national. What happened? The union had no national strategy, and the first round of the fight was in Southern California. The employers demanded big givebacks & concessions, and the union struck, yielding the longest supermarket strike in US history. After four months on strike, the unions went back to work, essentially accepting defeat. The stores created a two-tier system for wages and benefits (a two-tier system not only saves the employers money, but significantly erodes any long-term prospects for union survival, by pitting workers against each other. This was also at the heart of the recent subway strike in NYC.), and set the standard for the rest of the negotiations around the country. Why did the strike fail, despite better-than-expected worker participation and community support? Most experts lay the blame at the union's lack of a national strategy. That is, despite the fact that the companies are national, the union approached negotiations at the traditional, local level.
This is the story to keep in mind when thinking about why UNITE HERE is putting up a big fight over a seemingly small, structural point, rather than about concrete things like wages or benefits. The union recognized that if they are ever going to have a significant impact on the lives and working conditions of hotel workers at a scale bigger than the one they currently have (which is to say, in a few isolated, though important markets), they would need to approach the companies nationally. This is called coordinated bargaining, and is why, say, the UAW has amazing contracts--they don't bargain plant by plant. So they set about first trying to coordinate the end dates of a smattering of contracts. This took place between late 2002 and late 2004, and was mostly successful. Here in LA, for instance, there were big actions, civil disobedience (yours truly got arrested), and a brief srtike. The issue? A shorter than usual contract. Not a sexy issue, to be sure, but getting a contract to expire in 2006 was key to the union's plan. Up in San Francisco, the hotels refused to agree, so the union has simply worked without a contract for two years, so important was it to have an open contract in 2006.
So here we are in 2006, with most of the pieces in place: all of the union's key markets (DC, LA, SF, Chicago, Hawaii, etc., etc.) have contracts expiring this year. So what? So the union has the potential to call essentially a nationwide strike, something never before possible. The union is finally able to deal with their (national) employers on a national level. Everything up until now was all about setting the table.
So now the table is set, the public campaign is gearing up, and negotiations are getting going. What's the ask? Card-check neutrality. I won't get into the issue of why the "standard" method for unionizing workforces is bogus, but suffice it to say that it is: the so-called secret ballot method employed by the National Labor Relations Board is open to massive amounts of employer abuse & manipulation. Workers benefit when employers agree to stay out of the way. And, believe it or not, employers will agree, when they have to. Look at Las Vegas in 1987. The union was down to 18,000 members, having been crippled by a 1984 strike. It dealt with companies separately. Then the union took a high-risk strategy: it would strike the entire city with a simple demand: card check neutrality. The union won the fight, and as Vegas boomed over the next decade, the union was able to add members without the dozens of individual fights that would have otherwise been required. Now the union represents some 60,000 workers, and is widely recognized as providing the best conditions for service sector workers in the country.
So these are the stakes. If the union is able to pull this off, we could see massive unionization of hotel workers around the country. Union density in the hotel sector could double, wages would stop their downward slide, and you would see, over the next decade, significant & concrete improvements in the lives of workers. If the union loses this fight, it would be only a slight exaggeration to say that any prospects for hotel workers would be gone forever. Yes, where the unions are currently strong (LA, Vegas, SF, DC, NY) they would probably stay strong (at least until what happened in grocery happens with hotels), but this is not a replicable approach. The main reason being money & resources. The union has been planning this for years, and there's probably only one bite at the apple.
One final note on the campaign. People have noticed big full page ads recently from the Center for Union Facts. [References here, here , and here, Web site here.] One might wonder: why start an attack on labor now, at the nadir of their strength and power? I haven't seen anyone make this connection yet, but I suspect that this anti-labor campaign is directly linked to the UNITE HERE national contract campaign. Richard Berman has long-connections to the restaurant & beverage industries, & they seem to have focused in particular on UNITE HERE president Bruce Raynor. If this is true -- and not just a random attack on labor -- it's probably an illegal violation of section 8(a)(1) of the NLRA-- and a sign of how seriously the industry is taking this campaign, and how hard (and dirty) they'll fight.
So what are the real security issues we need to be talking about? As the Center For American Progress reports, how about the fact that in 2002 the Coast Guard estimated that it would cost $5.4 billion over 10 years to make the necessary improvements to the nation's ports, and last year only $175 million was appropriated to the program?
How about the fact that only 6 percent of the 9 million containers arriving in U.S. ports are physically inspected by customs agents?
When the President suddenly attempts to wax eloquent about prejudice against "a Middle Eastern company," let's not be fooled about his true motives or lose sight of the real issues. And let's make certain that we continue to issue a clarion call against destructive anti-Arab and anti-Arab American sentiment that threatens to take our nation even further backwards in our continuing struggle for civil and human rights.
The discoveries and research within my own kindred so alarmed me that I studied other descendants of polygamy to see if their families also suffered from crippling illnesses. I am convinced they do. As bad as this past is, the mounting evidence is far worse. In 1991, I first became aware of the Latter Day Church of Christ (a.k.a. Kingston’s and The Davis County Cooperative Society), a Mormon polygamist offshoot and determined to interview within this virtually impenetrable closed polygamist group. One 1980s leader, John Ortell Kingston, married thirteen wives and sired over sixty-five children, many of them deformed. His wives included five nieces. One disillusioned former member claims “babies are born as blobs of protoplasm”, and “brothers marry sisters in an effort to build up a royal priesthood.”  I endeavored to publish this information. Editors suggested it was unbelievable. If only that were true.
I will argue that the real issue is not whether "multiculturalism has gone too far" (as Goldston summarizes one of the lines of criticism), but what particular form multiculturalism should take. Is multiculturalism nothing other than tolerance of the diversity of cultures? Does it make a difference who chooses the cultural practices--whether they are imposed on young children in the name of "the culture of the community" or whether they are freely chosen by persons with adequate opportunity to learn and to reason about alternatives? What facilities do members of different communities have, in schools as well as in the society at large, to learn about the faiths and non-faiths of different people in the world, and to understand how to reason about choices that human beings must, if only implicitly, make?
The UAE successfully forced Lockheed Martin and the US government to stump up a $2 billion performance bond to guarantee F-16 deliveries and extracted a no-questions-asked $160 million advance cash offset to seal the deal, on top of the standard 60 percent offset arrangement. To save the 2.5 percent fee levied by the US Department of Defence on Foreign Military Sales (FMS) deals, the UAE was allowed to make a direct commercial purchase of the aircraft. Finally, the UAE received the object codes required to update their aircraft mission computers with new types of threat without US assistance, allowing the UAE Air Force and Air Defences (UAEAFAD) to keep track of Israeli aircraft. This represents a new kind of relationship between the US and any Arab nation.
More recently, the UAE made a major and unprecedented investment in the US defence electronics industry, becoming the core partner in systems that will provide the backbone of the USA.F. of tomorrow. The F-16 deal included a $2.5 billion advance payment to assist in the development of a new internal avionics suite and $500 million towards the development of the Northrop Grumman APG-68 Agile Beam Radar. If USAF or export sales are made, the UAE will receive royalties. The U.A.E has also signalled its interest in becoming involved in the field of advanced next generation jet trainers and light combat aircraft.
The federal government awarded more than $2 billion in such grants in 2004 -- nearly double the amount awarded in 2003.
I’ve had a number of exchanges recently that touch on the idea of empiricism, or at least the shabby form I try to believe in. Several people have explained to me that most Americans – most people in the world, for that matter – do not believe in the primacy of evidence derived from their five senses (which, by extension, means that they do not believe in science as a main way of understanding the world around us). Well, obviously.
About three in four Americans profess at least one paranormal belief, according to a recent Gallup survey. The most popular is extrasensory perception (ESP), mentioned by 41%, followed closely by belief in haunted houses (37%). The full list of items includes:
Extrasensory perception, or ESP
That houses can be haunted
Ghosts/that spirits of dead people can come back in certain places/situations
Telepathy/communication between minds without using traditional senses
Clairvoyance/the power of the mind to know the past and predict the future
Astrology, or that the position of the stars and planets can affect people's lives
That people can communicate mentally with someone who has died
Reincarnation, that is, the rebirth of the soul in a new body after death
Channeling/allowing a 'spirit-being' to temporarily assume control of body
The healing powers of the mind have been demonstrated empirically, reflected in the power of placebos, among other examples. More than half of Americans, 55%, believe in this connection.
Strictly speaking, visits from aliens are not part of paranormal beliefs. Although definitive scientific evidence of such visits is lacking, in principle the existence of extra-terrestrial beings and their ability to visit earth are subject to empirical verification.
All of the other 10 items listed above require the belief that humans have more than the "normal" five senses.
So 75% of Americans believe in lunacies. I’m not even going to get into the fact that more than half of Americans do not believe in evolution - not natural selection as the model for evolution as opposed to “intelligent design,” mind you, but that humans evolved at all.
I think we have come to accept that it was ever thus. But it wasn’t.
A 1997 [Yankelovich] poll compared current belief in paranormal phenomena with belief levels measured in 1976.Which if any of the following do youbelieve at least to some degree?
1997 1976 Spiritualism 52% 12% Faith Healing 45% 10% Astrology 37% 17% UFOs 30% 24% Reincarnation 25% 9% Fortune Telling 14% 4%
There is a concerted assault on Enlightenment rationalism in this country. There has been for years. It’s working.
We on the left traditionally have had a core faith in “consciousness raising” (although we haven’t always used that term). The assumption is that if people can be made to face the true facts, they will make more rational choices. (Unstated here is the assumption that our choices are the more rational. Leave that aside for now.) That is why we have been champions of ever-more-universal education. But what if education doesn’t promote rationality?
Believe it or not, higher education is linked to a greater tendency to believe in ghosts and other paranormal phenomena, according to a new study.
Contrary to researchers' expectations, a poll of 439 college students found seniors and grad students were more likely than freshmen to believe in haunted houses, psychics, telepathy, channeling and a host of other questionable ideas.
While 23 percent of college freshmen expressed a general belief in paranormal concepts—from astrology to communicating with the dead—31 percent of seniors did so and the figure jumped to 34 percent among graduate students.
"As people attain higher college-education levels, the likelihood of believing in paranormal dimensions increases," Farha and Steward write.
This leaves us with a serious conundrum. People who don’t believe in rational ways of approaching the world cannot be reasoned with. And education does not make people more likely to be rational.
For the last fifty years, conservatives in this country have had another model available to them: Straussianism. The most objectionable part of which derives from Plato’s Myth of Metals – not the Myth itself, actually, but the way Plato proposes to use it.
Such is the tale; is there any possibility of making our citizens believe in it?
Not in the present generation, he replied; there is no way of accomplishing this; but their sons may be made to believe in the tale, and their sons' sons, and posterity after them.
I see the difficulty, I replied; yet the fostering of such a belief will make them care more for the city and for one another.
And suppose once more, that he is reluctantly dragged up a steep and rugged ascent, and held fast until he's forced into the presence of the sun himself, is he not likely to be pained and irritated? When he approaches the light his eyes will be dazzled, and he will not be able to see anything at all of what are now called realities.
Men would say of him that up he went and down he came without his eyes; and that it was better not even to think of ascending; and if any one tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them only catch the offender, and they would put him to death.
The temptation to manipulate people is strong. In the last few days, our own Solomon has asserted that the “unwashed masses” “need candy dangled in front of them to motivate them to have the bare minimum of decency and morality” and advocated circumcision because dampening male libidos is good for society.
The problem, of course, is that unlike Solomon Grundy (seriously), the people currently in power are a bunch of idiots. They lie to us because they think they are right and we are to be manipulated into following them, but that only works if they are in fact right. They hardly ever are.
I don’t know what to do. Argumentation is useless. Education doesn’t help. The leaders in power are witless. Those I trust more, who are out of power, have not shown anything like a comparable ability to manipulate the public. And most people don't care if we ever become rational again.
I would say we should be more upset, but who would be the "we" in that sentence?
And as to truth, I said, is not a soul equally to be deemed halt and lame which hates voluntary falsehood and is extremely indignant at herself and others when they tell lies, but is patient of involuntary falsehood, and does not mind wallowing like a swinish beast in the mire of ignorance, and has no shame at being detected?
You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.
You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven…Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
I for one don't buy it. The mystery remains unsolved, which is prompting my more conspiratorial instincts:
What the hell do Danes really contribute to the world economy?
I hope people don’t take the actions of a few thugs as representative of the Syrian or Lebanese people. Just like we expressed our voices of concern over the cartoons in the first place, we’re all expressing our views again over the shameful acts. We, the rational, should work together to show the world that there’s more to Arabs than what they see on television.
Those who insist that this row is about upholding Islam need to ask themselves at whom the prohibition on depicting the prophet is aimed. The answer is Muslims, so that they do not fall into idolatry and revering the messenger instead of his message. No Muslim is at risk of worshipping the images in these cartoons. So what's the beef?
This controversy is about power. Muslim communities in the West feel under suspicion and under siege through the mere fact of their faith. Muslims in the Muslim world feel war has been declared on them by an adversary who controls the world. In such circumstances, the one power people feel they have left is to insist on their dignity. ...
...Such thuggish behaviour [as the violent protests], wherever it occurs, is testament to a lack of power; only when you feel disenfranchised in those avenues of life that really matter can you become exercised over such trivia.
Anyone with any sense of clarity can tell you that if the cartoons in question had depicted the prophet, say, crying over the corpses of the Egyptian pilgrims who drowned earlier this week then there would've been no protests. It is the CONTENT of the cartoons that is the issue: Mohammed depicted as a terrorist -- therefore Muslims AS A PEOPLE are all bearded violent fanatics. Mohammed represents Muslims -- the cartoons target Muslims as an undifferentiated collective. Liberals like Ireland and Pollitt are totally clueless about how Muslims in Europe are marginalized, discriminated against, despised, hated, feared, routinely attacked physically and verbally. Violent protests (in some Muslim countries) are to be condemned but publishing racist cartoons targeted against a vulnerable minority helps to legitimize more hatred and fear (as Nazi cartoons of Jews did). European Muslims see these cartoons in a context of constant media caricatures of them, public discussions of them as an unassimilated foreign horde with politicians publicly saying they are a "cancer" and so should be killed off. Certainly there should be no prohibition against publishing these cartoons but let's be clear here: freedom of speech in Europe seems to be the cause celebre only when the hate speech is targeted against Muslims.
AS'AD ABUKHALIL: Many governments, like the oppressive governments of Syria and Jordan, [whose] security forces have a long record of brutality and of torturing people, have become extremely polite. And I’ve noticed the footage on the Arabic media, that they allow them basically to proceed peacefully and to speak out and, in the case of Damascus, to torch down the embassy of Denmark; and I find that to be very convenient for those governments, because they are very much under attack by their own people for being largely silent about foreign occupation by the United States and about oppression by these same governments. And this is an opportunity for them to let [the people] let out some steam, because Denmark is an easy country to pick on. And they’re organizing a boycott of Denmark, when those same governments would not dare to launch a boycott of Israel or the United States, which have been responsible for more offenses against Arabs by virtue of occupations than the Danish government.
What should really trouble evangelicals, however, is this: even if every gay man became ex-gay tomorrow, there still wouldn't be an ex-lesbian tomboy out there for every ex-gay cowboy. Instead, millions of straight women would wake up one morning to discover that they had married a Jack or an Ennis. Restaurant hostesses and receptionists at hair salons would be especially vulnerable.
...If anyone reading this believes that gay men can actually become ex-gay men, I have just one question for you: Would you want your daughter to marry one?
Seriously, who in their right minds wants more ex-gays running around using their sensitivity, charm, and passion for womenswear to seduce our naive, vulnerable daughters into de-sexed, Will and Grace pseudo-marriages?
Having said that, the abovementioned Daniel Vosovic has called himself "80/20 bi", and it is my firm opinion that if the abovementioned Andy Samberg were ever in an empty room with me for ten minutes, he would emerge either gay or ex-gay. I passionately believe in bisexuality. Without the argument that everyone is to some extent bisexual, I would lose half my sexual partners (especially the adorably gullible ones). That's why I say, no to ex-gays, yes to pre-gays!
Tags:Andy Samberg,culture ,Lazy Sunday,Daniel Vosovic,Project Runway, Dan Savage, Savage Love, gay, ex-gay, Brokeback Mountain