Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Conan O'Brien

Monday Night

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* Sorry, Hillary; my current SCOTUS bet is Leah Ward Sears, who would be the first African-American woman on the court. She feels like a smart pick that the GOP would have trouble moving against after the Sotomayor debacle. She’d also fulfill the crucially important non-Ivy criterion. I think she’s the one.

* I just hope someone in the White House is reading Scott Lemieux.

* The city of Birmingham was founded in 1871, at the dawn of the Southern industrial boom, for the express purpose of attracting Northern capital — it was even named after a famous British steel town to burnish its entrepreneurial cred. There’s a gruesome irony in it now lying sacked and looted by financial vandals from the North. The destruction of Jefferson County reveals the basic battle plan of these modern barbarians, the way that banks like JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs have systematically set out to pillage towns and cities from Pittsburgh to Athens. These guys aren’t number-crunching whizzes making smart investments; what they do is find suckers in some municipal-finance department, corner them in complex lose-lose deals and flay them alive. Via MetaFilter.

* Probably the end of my Conanblogging: Conan signs a deal with TBS. Here’s some insider details involving George Lopez.

* People with Williams Syndrome lack 26 genes found in a typical human genome. As a result they are inordinately friendly, and experience no social anxiety. Now a new study reveals that they may also be free of racial bias.

* And contra Krugman: Is climate economics a mirage? Via Kevin Drum.

Now, if the economy is going to be a bit more than three times larger, but we are only going to emit 17% of the current level of carbon emissions, then the carbon intensity of the economy – that is the ratio of carbon emitted per dollar of goods and services created, is going to have to be only 5% of the current value. Next you have to figure that there are certain things in an industrial society that are very hard to do without liquid fuel – construction and agricultural machinery come to mind, along with aviation. Relying heavily on biofuels is a very dubious prospect in a world that also needs to feed 9 billion (assumed wealthier) people from its limited agricultural land. So you can probably figure that the residual 5% of carbon emission intensity is all going to go on these kind of specialized uses that are hard to substitute.

Therefore, these goals basically imply that the ordinary living and working of most citizens would be essentially carbon free by 2050. That is in 40 years time…

It Was The Week That Wouldn’t End and It Was Only Half Over

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* The time has come for all good people to follow Conan O’Brien on Twitter.

* Pay attention, North Carolina: “It is impossible for any candidate to get to the right of me.” I honestly don’t care who is running against him, I’ll pull the lever.

* Rush Limbaugh is this and every day’s worst person in the world.

* Glenn Beck: Judas!

* Ezra Klein hates America so much he’s trying to pretend that reconciliation isn’t just another world for communofascism.

* Matt Yglesias and Climate Progress explain to the editors of the Washington Post where all this climate misinformation mysteriously originates: their own completely useless editorial page and the liars they happily print there.

* Related: Reid wants a climate bill.

* Also related: Vermont has voted to close its problem-plagued Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. How long can a nuclear reactor last? Via MeFi.

* The secret origins of TV Tropes. Historical footnote: the first TV Trope ever was the Gilligan Cut.

* Behold the terror of the Zeigarnik Effect: “the tendency to experience intrusive thoughts about an objective that was once pursued and left incomplete.”

* “DNA’s Dirty Little Secret: A forensic tool renowned for exonerating the innocent may actually be putting them in prison.” Via Steve Benen.

Barlow’s main point of contention was statistics. Typically, law enforcement and prosecutors rely on FBI estimates for the rarity of a given DNA profile—a figure can be as remote as one in many trillions when investigators have all thirteen markers to work with. In Puckett’s case, where there were only five and a half markers available, the San Francisco crime lab put the figure at one in 1.1 million—still remote enough to erase any reasonable doubt of his guilt. The problem is that, according to most scientists, this statistic is only relevant when DNA material is used to link a crime directly to a suspect identified through eyewitness testimony or other evidence. In cases where a suspect is found by searching through large databases, the chances of accidentally hitting on the wrong person are orders of magnitude higher. 

The reasons for this aren’t difficult to grasp: consider what happens when you take a DNA profile that has a rarity of one in a million and run it through a database that contains a million people; chances are you’ll get a coincidental match. Given this fact, the two leading scientific bodies that have studied the issue—the National Research Council and the FBI’s DNA advisory board—have recommended that law enforcement and prosecutors calculate the probability of a coincidental match differently in cold-hit cases. In particular, they recommend multiplying the FBI’s rarity statistic by the number of profiles in the database, to arrive at a figure known as the Database Match Probability. When this formula is applied to Puckett’s case (where a profile with a rarity of one in 1.1 million was run through a database of 338,000 offenders) the chances of a coincidental match climb to one in three.

* Why autism is different for girls.

* Chat Roulette: a documentary.

* Do MFA programs hurt poetry?

* Teach the controversy: “There is no unified flat Earth model,” Shenton suggests, “but the most commonly accepted one is that it’s more or less a disc, with a ring of something to hold in the water. The height and substance of that, no one is absolutely sure, but most people think it’s mountains with snow and ice.”

* In response to a new federal mandate to fix under-performing schools, every teacher will be fired at Central Falls High School in Rhode Island. Via MetaFilter, where the conversation is by turns fascinating and soul-crushing. I’m expecting another round of (justified) anti-Duncan, anti-Obama diatribes from my friends in public education in five… four… three…

* And an awesome post I missed from Tim a few weeks back: the top-ten most desirable rare video games.

Another Set of Saturday Links

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* Even odder than Durham being the 7th “least drunk” city in the country is Boston as #1. My stereotypes are completely out of whack.

* Think Progress has been doing good work on this winter’s entirely predictable snow-disproves-climate-change malarky. Not only was this last January the warmest on record, but more severe weather systems are a predicted consequence of climate change. Meanwhile, conservatives in California are trying to employ the state’s obscenely dysfunctional public referendum system to overturn its climate change law.

* Have reports of Obama for America’s death been greatly exaggerated? Let’s hope so.

* I suspect I will watch the upcoming DC Comics documentary. I feel very confident in this prediction.

The Seychelles has one. So does Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Saudi Arabia, Mali, Algeria, Malaysia and Hungary. And New Zealand has two. The United States? None. Zero. Zip. FIFA has named the World Cup referees.

* And Conan O’Brien has been officially unpersoned.

Assorted Late Night Links That Have (Almost) Nothing to Do with Massachusetts

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* Conventional wisdom already says Obama is now president of Haiti. At least these people waited a whole week before unilaterally declaring Haiti a U.S. colony.

* Mediocre director contracted to ruin Spider-Man franchise. More here.

* Fox News, in a desperate bid for my attention, openly advocated on behalf of Scott Brown today. But even this behavior pales in comparison to O’Reilly’s bizarre nostalgia last Friday for those halcyon days when it was okay to make fun of Arabs.

* FiveThirtyEight on the branding of Scott Brown. What they predict, of course, has already happened.

* Why Massachusetts doesn’t matter. An hour or so ago I tweeted: “Bright side of Coakley loss: Democrats will finally have to face the fact that nothing good will ever get through the Senate.” It sounds like Biden at least has already figured this out.

* Timo at Bitter Laughter has carefully crafted a post perfectly calibrated to pull me in. The Duck Tales reference just seals it.

* U.S. military rifle scopes have Bible verses inscribed on them. Oddly, this is not a joke.

* But Obama’s not looking backwards: “FBI broke law for years in phone record searches.”

* Absurdity watch: New Orleans prosecutors are charging prostitutes as sex offenders. Via MeFi.

* Passport photos of famous artists. Also via MeFi.

* And the NBC late-night feud has been digitally recreated by Taiwanese newspaper Apple Daily. I think this should clear everything up.

Other Stuff

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* Details on the U.S. operation of Port-Au-Prince’s last working airstrip from Crooks & Liars, a possible (or partial) answer to complaints about its allocation. A second airport is now working at Jacmel, administered by tiny American charity Joy in Hope. From Ryan, I see the Caribbean is still at risk for more earthquakes.

* Yahoo News is hiring bloggers.

* Gawker has your roundup of clips from the ongoing NBC late-night fiasco.

* Louis Menand and how to rescue the professoriate from professionalization.

The ultimate problem is this: How do you create a system for the production of knowledge that is, on the one hand, rigorous and peer-reviewed and, on the other, committed to aims and obligations beyond its own survival? The professoriate itself is well aware of the dilemma, Menand observes, and has enthusiastically promoted what sounds like a solution: “interdisciplinarity.” The hope is that if professors join in conversation with one another, they’ll remember to be interesting to people outside their building.

Theoretically, this solves everything. The disciplines are still accountable only to themselves, but they’re also engaged with something broader—i.e., other disciplines. They are still autonomous without being hermetic. Except that, Menand explains, interdisciplinarity finally does nothing to alter the ways in which the individual disciplines produce their professors. Rather than a therapy for academic neurosis, interdisciplinarity is in fact yet one more symptom of it. “Interdisciplinary anxiety,” he writes, “is a displaced anxiety about the position of privilege that academic professionalism confers on its initiates and about the peculiar position of social disempowerment created by the barrier between academic workers and the larger culture. It is anxiety about the formalism and methodological fetishism of the disciplines and about the danger of sliding into aimless subjectivism or eclecticism.”

Ouch

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Hate to see someone lose control of an interview like this.

Written by gerrycanavan

January 15, 2010 at 10:42 pm

Misc.

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* A stage production of Two Gentlemen of Lebowski is already in the works.

* Asheville, NC, is one of the gayest cities in America.

* You said it: “The Senate is just a pain in the ass to everybody in the world as far as I can tell.”

* And if NBC screwed over Conan because they wanted me to watch his monologue on YouTube every day, mission accomplished.

Written by gerrycanavan

January 13, 2010 at 7:13 pm