Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

More Stuff

with 4 comments

* Whoa: The UN international climate change conference is in chaos as the G77, which represents 130 developing countries “pulled the emergency plug” suspending the talks over wealthy countries’ reluctance to discuss a legally binding emissions treaty. I hope this is just a negotiating tactic in response to the so-called “suicide pact” and not a true collapse of the talks.

* If anyone tries to tell you that uncertainty about climate change is a reason for inaction, he’s either a fool or a scoundrel. Probably a bit of both.

* Two from ChartPorn: an interactive map showing the estimated effects of a 4 Celsius degree change in global temperatures and Climate Anomalies, 2007-09.

* Now we see the violence inherent in the system: Hundreds of billions in crime money knowingly laundered by banks during credit crunch.

The Observer reports that an estimated $352bn of drug and mafia money was laundered by the major banks at the peak of the credit crunch, while regulators turned a blind eye, since the highly liquid criminal underworld was the only source of the cash necessary to keep the banks’ doors open.

* ‘In the lawless mountain realms of Asia, a Yale professor finds a case against civilization.‘ Via MeFi.

In Zomia’s small societies, with their simple technologies, anti-authoritarian tendencies, and oral cultures, Scott sees not a world forgotten by civilization, but one that has been deliberately constructed to keep the state at arm’s length. Zomia’s history, Scott argues, is a rejection of the mighty lowland states that are seen as defining Asia. He calls Zomia a “shatter zone,” a place where people go to escape the raw deal that complex civilization historically has been for those at the bottom: the coerced labor and conscription into military service, the taxation for wars and pharaonic building projects, the epidemic diseases that came with intensive agriculture and animal husbandry.

* Nicholas Stephanopoulos on phasing out the filibuster. Via Matt Yglesias, who notes the real problem with this proposal:

If we actually were in a situation where Democrats were clamoring for a restoration of majority rule and Republicans were blocking it, then I think a clever compromise would be just what the doctor ordered. But as best I can tell only Tom Harkin has any real interest in doing this. A few public option stalwarts, like Sherrod Brown, have pressed for the use of reconciliation to do health care. But even on this proponents of majority rule seem to be a minority of the Democratic caucus. Which is to say that the issue is less that Republicans are insisting on the filibuster in order to preserve their ability to block legislation than it is that Democratsare insisting on a supermajority rule in order to preserve each individual member’s ability to make demands.

* And I’ve used this precise argument from xkcd many times with regard to both climate change and evolutionary biology. It’s logically sound, but, alas, gets few results.

4 Responses

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  1. Do you mean that you used the “race-car-on-a-train” argument, or the “anti-race-car-on-a-train” argument?

    td

    December 14, 2009 at 2:59 pm

  2. The anti-racecar-on-a-train argument. The recognition that thought experiments, logic games, and high-school math are extremely unlikely to dislodge the work of experts who have devoted their lives to a particular field of inquiry…

    gerrycanavan

    December 14, 2009 at 3:30 pm

  3. But yes this racecar-on-a-train thing sounds promising.

    gerrycanavan

    December 14, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    • Certainly more promising than my train-on-a-racecar theory…

      td

      December 14, 2009 at 4:05 pm


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