Posts Tagged ‘evolution’
* Apocalypse, New Jersey: Matt Taibbi reports from Camden. Camden has been like this for decades — while the discourse in the state is always about whether Newark and Jersey City can be “saved,” Camden is simply and permanently written off.
* “The countervailing voices of this notion that student-athletes are being taken advantage of has been the dominant theme and had played out pretty loudly in a variety of outlets,” Emmert said. “The reality is schools are spending in between $100,000 and $250,000 on each student-athlete.” Good news, everyone, I just figured out a really painless way to solve university budget crises!
Prosecutors were hoping to send Couch to jail for up to 20 years, but the defense made the case for why Couch should be let go with just an ankle bracelet and a court order to go to rehab for a while. Their main line of argument was that Couch was actually a victim too. His parents enjoyed a life of wealth and privilege and due to that never bothered to teach Couch that actions had consequences, an expert brought in to defend Couch dubbed the condition “affluenza.”
* BREAKING: Dissent isn’t Possible in a Surveillance State.
* That reality TV show that wants to send a group of people to go die on Mars is really making of go of acting like they’re serious about it.
* Dark horse apocalypses: Yellowstone supervolcano ‘even more colossal’ that previously thought.
* The Desolation of Smaug is basically Tolkien fan fiction, and Salon says that’s just fine.
* Draw feminist inspiration from this Pantene ad. No, really!
* And science proves Mitochondrial Eve was killed by a really scary spider: Phobias may be memories passed down in genes from ancestors. And not to mention: Fear of Snakes Drove Pre-Human Evolution.
The headline reads, “Mystery humans spiced up ancients’ rampant sex lives.”
‘Between 8,000 and 10,000 Years Ago, Humans Took a Leafy Green Plant and, by Selecting for Different Characteristics, Began to Transform It into Several Different Products’
Slate’s Explainer: “Did people eat fruits and vegetables in prehistoric times?” Via Facebook.
* Tomorrow’s crimes today: man arrested for attempting to steal five tons of glacial ice in Chile.
* Major birth control pill recall. Bring on the lawsuits! Wow.
* Cary Nelson on fighting for the humanities.
We take it for granted that scientific knowledge must advance, that there is much we do not know and much that we will live out our lives without knowing. Knowledge of the physical universe beyond the solar system and the galaxy remains so limited that it is hard even to calculate its partiality. The nature of life elsewhere in the universe remains beyond our grasp, as does knowledge of the human body that would enable us to control diseases like cancer.
And yet we often—unreflectively, uncritically, and in a learned form of self-deception—assume that we largely know ourselves and our history. Through its institutions and the norms of social life, human culture immerses us in collective understanding that is often deceptive or false.
The task of the humanities is not only to show us the ways that artists and others have penetrated our illusions by creative acts both modest and grand but also to try to discover when human cultures as a whole have seen through a glass darkly.
* Abolish the dollar bill! For freedom!
* The headline reads, “India Factory Workers Revolt, Kill Company President.”
* Freddie deBoer on divorce rate hokum.
* And why do you have two nostrils instead of one giant hole in the middle of your face? io9 reports.
Moments like this point to a growing asymmetry in our politics. One party, the Democrats, suffers from the usual range of institutional blind spots, historical foibles, and constituency-driven evasions. The other, the Republicans, has moved to a mental Shangri-La, where unwanted problems (climate change, the need to pay the costs of running the government) can be wished away, prejudice trumps fact (Obama might just be Kenyan-born or a Muslim), expertise is evidence of error, and reality itself comes to be regarded as some kind of elitist plot.
Like the White Queen in her youth, the contemporary Republican politician must be capable of believing as many as six impossible things before breakfast…
* A key feature of the case for Elena Kagan is her supposed ability to convince Anthony Kennedy of things. (Bill makes one version of this argument in the comments, though he himself doesn’t quite endorse it.) Like pretty much everybody I’m skeptical of this; I don’t know what the evidence is supposed to be that Kagan is better positioned to persuade Anthony Kennedy than anyone else on the shortlist, and her record as Solicitor General hasn’t exactly distinguished itself in this regard.
* Nate Silver makes the actuarial case for Elena Kagan.
Wood’s VORJ, we’ll assume, begins at 50, since we’re supposing that she’ll side with the liberals 100 percent of the time rather than 50 percent for her replacement. Kagan’s starts at 40: the 90 percent of the time we’ve supposed she’d vote with the liberals, less the 50 percent baseline.
As we go out into the future, however, the Justices become less valuable as they are less likely to survive. For instance, Wood has about an 18 percent chance of no longer being with us 15 years hence, so we’d have to subtract that fraction from her VORJ.
After about 20 years, Kagan overtakes Wood even though she’s less liberal, because she’s more likely have survived. She continues to provide excess value over [Wood] from that point forward, until we reach a period 40+ years out where both women are almost certain to be dead. On balance, Kagan’s lifetime expected VORJ is actually higher than that of [Wood]‘s (1,280 rather than 1,206, if you care), assuming that she’ll defect from the liberals 10 percent of the time whereas Wood never will.
Favoring near-term outcomes at a discount rate of 1.7% or more, though, favors Wood.
* Something good in the climate bill: Climate Bill Will Allow States to Veto Neighboring States’ Drilling Plans.
* Something good in a very bad-looking November: Richard Burr will almost certainly lose in NC.
The confusion of natural and cultural or economic concerns in the arguments over the prohibition of flights raised the following suspicion: how come the scientific evidence began to suggest it was safe to fly over most of Europe just when the pressure from the airlines became most intense? Is this not further proof that capital is the only real thing in our lives, with even scientific judgements having to bend to its will?
The problem is that scientists are supposed to know, but they do not. Science is helpless and covers up this helplessness with a deceptive screen of expert assurance. We rely more and more on experts, even in the most intimate domains of our experience (sexuality and religion). As a result, the field of scientific knowledge is transformed into a terrain of conflicting “expert opinions”.
Most of the threats we face today are not external (or “natural”), but generated by human activity shaped by science (the ecological consequences of our industry, say, or the psychic consequences of uncontrolled genetic engineering), so that the sciences are simultaneously the source of such threats, our best hope of understanding those threats, and the means through which we may find a way of coping with them.
* ‘Confessions of a Tenured Professor’: a tenured professor takes note of his adjunct colleagues.
* Middle-class white people are the only people: Atrios discovers a very strange lede at the Washington Post.
The idealized vision of suburbia as a homogenous landscape of prosperity built around the nuclear family took another hit over the past decade, as suburbs became home to more poor people, immigrants, minorities, senior citizens and households with no children, according to a Brookings Institution report to be released Sunday.
Just so we’re clear, in the 21st century, Republican gubernatorial candidates are attacked for accepting modern biology and being only a partial Biblical literalist.
* And confidential to Playboy: putting the centerfolds in 3D will not save you.
* Fox News: Don’t send your kids to college because they could catch the libralz. But if you do at least they won’t be as dumb as 30% of Texans.
* Stories to watch: activists may actually manage to bring the public option back from the death. Reid himself signaled he’s open to the idea today. Ezra Klein explains the politics at work:
No one I’ve spoken to — even when they support the public option — thinks that its reemergence is good news for health-care reform. It won’t be present in the package that the White House will unveil Monday. Everyone seems to be hoping this bubble will be short-lived.
But it might not be. The media is talking about it, liberals are organizing around it, none of the major actors feels politically capable of playing executioner, and Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson don’t have the power to do the job on their own. As of now, the strategy only has 20 or so supporters, and it’ll need at least another 20 or 25 to really be viable. But if it gets there, White House and Senate leadership are going to have some hard calls to make.
Ezra also says that as long as we’re playing make-believe it should be the Medicare buy-in we bring back.
* Rachel bestows unto Meet the Press another Maddow Bump. Will she do the same when she improbably shares a bill with me on Poli-Sci-Fi Radio this Sunday?
* Flowchart of the day: Does Tiger Woods owe you an apology?
* And Gynomite dramatically underestimates my level of interest in the penny’s new design. Coming Monday, my new blog, bringbacktheoldpenny.blogspot.com…
* A filibuster too far? Granting that no one has ever been thrown out of office for underestimating the attention span of the American people, filibustering a jobs bill at a time of 10% (official) unemployment seems like a really bad idea for Republicans interested in capitalizing on their apparent political momentum. Of course, this is the same party that spent eight months needlessly blocking the appointment of a woman confirmed today 94-2, so obviously we’re playing by different playbooks here.
* More bad policy that is also bad politics: the Republican “shadow budget” apparently calls for an end to Medicare. I’m so old I can remember when the Republicans were pretending they loved Medicare last summer. Can Democrats find a way to miss this pitch?
* The White House is how quietly telling people they support the course of action that is obvious to everyone.
* Visit Kcymaerxthaere, “a parallel universe that shares, to some degree, our physical planet.” Via MetaFilter, where a commenter notes this is reminiscent of the plot of Borges’s “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius.”
* Also at MetaFilter: great moments in prank wills.
* Vu and Kottke both have articles about proposed revisions to evolutionary theory, the first highlighting enviromentalistic biases in traditional evolutionary theory and the second suggesting horizontal gene transfer has been the dominant mode of evolution for most of life’s history on Earth.
* And today’s saddest headline: ‘Ancient tribal language becomes extinct as last speaker dies.’