Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Elena Kagan

Six for Monday Morning

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* The United Nations has completed the first-ever global assessment of the state of the planet’s land resources, finding in a report Monday that a quarter of all land is highly degraded and warning the trend must be reversed if the world’s growing population is to be fed.

*  A Few Unexpected Subjects of Class Struggle – Notes on Recent University Strikes.

* Greg Packer, “All the Angry People.”

* Elena Kagan profile (and bonus ACA-pregaming) from Dahlia Lithwick.

* Flight of the Conchords movie could happen. No spoilers for the uninitiated, but there’s at least one song in The Muppets that’s pretty much already big-screen Conchords.

* And Alex Callinicos on life after capitalism.

Great Moments in Supreme Court Questioning

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Justice Kagan said she could not understand why the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office persisted in defending its conduct. “Did your office ever consider just confessing error in this case?” she asked.

Written by gerrycanavan

November 10, 2011 at 8:54 am

Friday Night Everything

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* The long-awaited (but oddly dissatisfying) Lost epilogue has appeared online, though who knows for how long or with whose permission.

* Decadence watch: municipalities are cutting back on public transit, de-paving roads, cutting back on education and even city lights, and closing public libraries. Naturally, the wars continue apace.

* Elena Kagan post-mortems from Jonathan Chait and Glenn Greenwald.

* Neal Stephenson talks SF at Gresham College. The link has another, shorter talk from David Brin as well. Thanks to Melody for the link.

* Silly games of the night: Epic Coaster and Color Theory.

* Visiting the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co.

* Power stations of the retrofuture.

* Marmaduke (by Franz Kafka).

* America’s first test-tube baby has turned her back on her heritage.

* You had me at huge Back to the Future trilogy timeline.

* Google says there are 129,864,880 books In existence. I swear, I swear, mine’s coming.

* And neither English nor philosophy makes this list of the ten lowest-paying college majors. Take that, everyone I knew in college!

Belatedly Closing Some Tabs

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* When Breitbart says “Jump!”, the Obama administration asks how high. Humiliating. They should reinstate Shirley Sherrod tomorrow and call Breitbart and Fox out by name. More links and discussion at MetaFilter.

* Surprising: The generic Congressional ballot again favors the Democrats. Steve Benen says caveat emptor. Could this have something to do with their bizarre new “rehabilitate Bush” strategy?

* How Roger Ebert destroyed film criticism.

* How the universe might handle time travel paradoxes.

* Climate change whip count. Doesn’t look good.

* Sarah Palin has a 76% favorability rating among Republicans. If the economy hasn’t significantly recovered by 2012 she could really be president, folks.

* Constance McMillen has received $35,000 from her Mississippi school district. I thought the damages might be higher.

* Arizona, desperate for me to like it again, has disabled all its speed cameras.

* Friends don’t let friends commit confirmation treason.

* Rumors of the next Superman film.

* The Catholic Church’s official impotence index.

* And Glenn Beck says he’s going blind. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.


Saturday Night

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* Paul Rosenberg has your omnibus case against Elena Kagan. I have to say that at this point this feels a bit like pissing into the wind.

* Secret history: DeLillo as SF writer.

* Photographer Chris Jordan, whose fantastic “Running the Numbers” series on American consumerism you may have seen before, talks to the New York Review of Books about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and the sad photos he recently took at Midway Island of dead birds, their stomachs laden with plastic debris.

* When the Soviets almost nuked China. Via LGM, who thinks this story is probably greatly exaggerated.

* io9 reports on the original script for Empire Strikes Back.

* And Shia LaBeouf admits he ruined Indiana Jones forever. Apology not accepted.

Quick Links

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Lots of Tuesday Links

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* 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.

* What to do next to stop the spill in the Gulf? The New York Times speculates. Or, you know, we could just nuke it.

* Related: BP makes enough profit in four days to cover the costs of the spill cleanup thus far.

* 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.

* Žižek vs the volcano.

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.

* Inside MK-ULTRA.

* Inside Alabama.

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.

* That about wraps it up for Britain.

* And confidential to Playboy: putting the centerfolds in 3D will not save you.