Posts Tagged ‘asteroids’
* An unnamed English teacher at Albany High School who wanted to “challenge” his/her students to “formulate a persuasive argument” tasked them with writing an essay about why “Jews are evil,” as if they were trying to convince a Nazi official of their loyalty.
* I’m afraid you’ll find the Daleks are already here.
* The actual rendezvous and lassoing of an asteroid, which NASA characterizes as the “most technically challenging aspect of the mission,” could begin as soon as 2019 and result in the asteroid arriving in the vicinity of the moon in 2021.
* Actually existing media bias: Al Gore is fat edition.
* The New Yorker remembers radical feminist Shulamith Firestone.
* Also from Richard: What do asteroids, MOOCs, and medical records have in common? All are examples, currently in the news, of the way in which public policy in the US is driven not by the common good or professionals or expert knowledge, but by the generation of mediashock in the service of the entrepeneurial desire of cybercapitalism to monetize data.
All of us that use the internet are already practicing Drone Ethnography. Look at the features of drone technology: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Surveillance, Sousveillance. Networks of collected information, over land and in the sky. Now consider the “consumer” side of tech: mapping programs, location-aware pocket tech, public-sourced media databases, and the apps and algorithms by which we navigate these tools. We already study the world the way a drone sees it: from above, with a dozen unblinking eyes, recording everything with the cold indecision of algorithmic commands honed over time, affecting nothing—except, perhaps, a single, momentary touch, the momentary awareness and synchronicity of a piece of information discovered at precisely the right time. An arc connecting two points like the kiss from an air-to-surface missile. Our technological capacity for watching, recording, collecting, and archiving has never been wider, and has never been more automated. The way we look at the world—our basic ethnographic approach—is mimicking the technology of the drone.
* The ACLU on what Rand Paul achieved.
* “Defense attorneys believe the girl, who lived across the river in Weirton, W.Va., made a decision to excessively drink and — against her friends’ wishes — to leave with the boys. They assert that she consented to sex,” reports the Cleveland Plain-Dealer’s Rachel Dissell. Richmond’s attorney, Walter Madison, is getting specific, citing “an abundance of evidence here that she was making decisions, cognitive choices … She didn’t affirmatively say no.” She was unconscious at the time.
* The Herbalife war: Hedge-fund titan Bill Ackman has vowed to bring down Herbalife, the 33-year-old nutritional-supplement company, which he views as a pyramid scheme. With his massive shorting of Herbalife stock, the price plummeted, prompting two fellow billionaires—Ackman’s former friend Dan Loeb and activist investor Carl Icahn—to take the opposing bet on Herbalife. As the public brawl rivets Wall Street, William D. Cohan learns why, this time, it’s personal.
* The most influential songwriter of his time has become the first rock star voted into the elite, century-old American Academy of Arts and Letters, where artists range from Philip Roth to Jasper Johns and categories include music, literature and visual arts.
* I just about lost my mind over this George Packer endorsement of Obama’s foreign policy on Twitter this morning.
Foreign policy exactly suits Obama’s strong points as a leader, which turn out not to be giving the masses a clear sense of direction and hope, but instead exercising good judgment on a case-by-case basis while thinking many steps ahead of the present moment. Often, foreign policy—which by definition is largely out of American control—is simply a matter of not doing the wrong thing, the unwise thing. On that count, I trust Obama more than any politician in my lifetime.
I mean really.
* Then I just about lost my mind over this article in the afternoon: No money for forced sterilization victims in NC. 1974? That was ages ago! We have to look forward, not backward, etc, etc…
* In the official view of the Obama administration, it’s totally possible that the drone that killed Anwar al-Awlaki was owned and operated by the Yemen government.
* Romney to Republican governors: Don’t mention the recovery. Josh Marshall and TPM try to game this out. I like Ed Kilgore’s take: Scott’s taking credit for a trend he’s had almost nothing to do with, and Romney wants him to shut up about the trend itself. It’s an attempted lie chasing the tail of an actual lie.
* [Christie] looks at me like I’m from France. “No one is beyond the reach of Bruce!” he screams over the noise of the crowd, and then screams it again, to make sure I understand: “No one is beyond the reach of Bruce!”
* Viral marketing for 2312? Mickey Mouse on Mercury.
* And because it’s summertime: Bricking Bad, A Breaking Bad LEGO Meth Lab.
* I missed my calling: space law. Or possibly space theology: the many asteroids are like unto the fish in the sea…
* Elsewhere in Rust Belt News: “Reverse Gentrification” in Detroit and my beloved Cleveland. Via LGM.
* We “can’t afford” to spend money building space telescopes anymore, but luckily our spy agencies just happen to have a couple spares lying around.
* And now you too can own a life-sized replica of the throne from Game of Thrones. I say anyone who seeks to claim the replica throne doesn’t deserve to sit on it.
* Naomi Klein: Capitalism vs. the climate.
* And ladies and gentlemen, for the last time anywhere: the Western Black Rhino.
Matt Yglesias catches libertarian Sasha Volokh arguing that it would be immoral to use tax dollars to prevent an asteroid from destroying all life on earth.
I think it’s O.K. to violate people’s rights (e.g. through taxation) if the result is that you protect people’s rights to some greater extent (e.g. through police, courts, the military). But it’s not obvious to me that the Earth being hit by an asteroid (or, say, someone being hit by lightning or a falling tree) violates anyone’s rights; if that’s so, then I’m not sure I can justify preventing it through taxation.
* In 1989 we were six hours away from the annihilation of all life on earth.
* Humans think we run the place, but we haven’t even built the most awesome dam in the world. That honor belongs to the beavers.
* At the Early Warnings blog: There is a horrible paper in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences … which looks at how the limits of human physiology interact with upper-range global warming scenarios. The bottom line conclusion is that there is a small—of order 5%—risk of global warming creating a situation in which a large fraction of the planet was uninhabitable (in the sense that if you were outside for an extended period during the hottest days of the year, even in the shade with wet clothing, you would die). Five percent, of course, is five times higher than the Cheney threshold that gives us the right to invade any country in the world at any time for any reason. Via MeFi.
* Nonetheless we can’t pass any climate legislation this year, not even weak-tea no-auction cap-and-trade, because Lindsey Graham is still sulking over God knows what. Obama was wise to hitch his wagon to this star.
And then it was ringing midnight, and they were in the Martian time slip, the thirty-nine-and-a half-minute gap between 12:00:00 and 12:00:01; when all the clocks went blank or stopped moving.
* Michael Steele has acknowledged a four-decade-long Southern strategy, which seems like a big admission for a sitting RNC chair to make.
* Independent Weekly asked me to write a short piece about campus green initiatives in the Triangle for their Green Living Guide this year. Here it is, minus the sort of necessary if impolitic critique of consumer “choice” that was the subject of John Bellamy Foster and Brett Clark’s talk last night. (Video of the talk will be up soon.) Like Foster and Clark my opinion is that these sorts of initiatives may be morally praiseworthy, and even efficacious at the margins, but that they are ultimately fundamentally incomplete, something akin to reupholstering the deck chairs on the Titanic.
* I’ll just say it: I don’t think people should try to pay their doctors with chickens.
* Functional immigration law or rational climate policy? Apparently we can’t have both.
Even more Sunday night links.
* Ev psych on the ropes? We can only dare to hope.
* MetaFilter remembers the Stonewall protests.
* Pawlenty says he’ll finally let Franken be seated once the state Supreme Court issues its ruling. Aren’t we moving a little fast, Tim? It’s only been eight months.
* Katrina vanden Heuvel with Steve Benen against bipartisanship.
* And Ze Frank plays “That Makes Me Think Of” again at Time, this week about thigns that are and aren’t black and white. Can’t we get The Show back already? We keep getting closer and closer.
* 902 U.S. mayors have signed a pledge to “reduce carbon emissions by 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012; strive to meet or beat the Kyoto Protocol targets in their own communities; and to urge Congress to pass the bipartisan GHG reduction legislation.”
* Experts continue to call for a global network to prevent an asteroid disaster, and everyone continues to ignore them.
* The U.S. 6th Circuit has ruled that the Vatican’s crypto-corporate structure does not insulate it from lawsuits.
I have about four months of magazines to catch up on. Let’s start now with this month’s Atlantic, which is actually pretty replete with interesting articles:
* Ross Douthat worries that the short memory of historians will allow the badness of the Bush years to be too quickly forgotten:
In this sense, it might be said that a too-keen awareness of the American tendency to associate great leadership with world-historical ambition has wrecked the presidency of George W. Bush. But the enthusiasm for Barack Obama and John McCain suggests that the yearning, on the left and right alike, for presidents who will pursue greatness has only been enhanced by the debacle in Iraq. This is good news for Bush, who has to hope that the same propensity that ruined his administration will redeem his reputation. But it’s dangerous news for America. Those who rehabilitate the follies of the past are condemned to repeat them.
* Professor X opens the books on teaching composition at a “college of last resort.”
* And Gregg Easterbrook examines the asteroid menace.