Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Kay Hagan

Wednesday Is Friday and the Living’s Easy

leave a comment »

Half the professoriate will kill the other half for free.

In other words, while a few already well-paid superprofessors get their egos stroked conducting experiments that are doomed to fail, “second- and third-tier universities and colleges, and community colleges” risk closing because Coursera and its ilk have sent higher education price expectations through the floor and systematically devalued everybody else’s work. And they get to do all this while dispensing a produuct that they know is inferior! Jay Gould would be proud.

The irony, of course, is that “business” logic can kill its own host, like any parasite. When taken as an end in itself, it destroys everything — and then there’s nowhere else to invest, no more areas producing real values that can be syphoned off into the giant pool of money. The imaginary values that finance has racked up then become the object of a game of hot potato, furiously churning through the system until the point when they simply disappear (i.e., lose all their value). That’s what running everything “like a business” does — it trades real value for imaginary value that is then destroyed.

* Just because it’s totally ineffective doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it: A study by the Pew Charitable Trust in 2011, which looked at school closures in six US cities, found that school districts end up saving less than had been predicted. But think of all the other advantages school closings offer!

A University of Chicago study focusing on schools closed between 2001 and 2006 found that only six percent of displaced students ended up in high-performing schools.

And 42 percent of students continued to attend schools with ‘very low’ achievement levels. A year after changing schools, students’ reading and math abilities were not any better or worse.

Students who did go to better-performing schools also had to travel an average of 6km to get there – which critics say risks the safety of students who have to go through neighbourhoods containing rival gangs.

Entire library journal editorial board resigns, citing ‘crisis of conscience’ after death of Aaron Swartz.

* The Barbed Gift of Leisure.

And here, at the limit of life that idling alone brings into view in a nonthreatening way, we find another kind of nested logic. Call it the two-step law of life. Rule No. 1 is tomorrow we die; and Rule No. 2 is nobody, not even the most helpful robot, can change Rule No. 1. Enjoy!

Junot Diaz Talks Superman As An Undocumented Immigrant On The Colbert Report.

The Essential Verso Undergraduate Reading List. Makes me think I really need to start including more theory on my syllabi.

* MOOCs we can believe in? One of the most remote outposts of Jesuit higher education is tucked away in dusty northwest Kenya, in a place whose name means “Nowhere” in Swahili. There, at Kakuma Refugee Camp, a small group of students — refugees from several neighboring African countries, including Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia — are enrolled in online courses taught by 28 Jesuit colleges, mostly in the United States. The course is part of the Jesuit Commons project.

* Unexpected: SCOTUSblog now thinks there’s at least five judges who will vote to strike down DOMA. Meanwhile, McCaskill seems to have triggered Hagan to announce her support of marriage equality.

* Ripped from the stuff Fox News usually just has to make up: Gov. Rick Scott of Florida has stepped into the fray over an offensive classroom exercise at Florida Atlantic University in which students were asked to stomp on a sheet of paper with “Jesus” written on it.

Boston College threatens disciplinary action against students distributing condoms.

Boston College officials sent a letter to students on March 15 demanding an end to student-run “Safe Sites,” a network of dorm rooms and other locations where free contraceptives and safe sex information are available.

Students living in the “Safe Sites” were told in the letter that the distribution of condoms is in conflict with their “responsibility to protect the values and traditions of Boston College as a Jesuit, Catholic institution.”

Mexican town finds more security by throwing out the police.

* Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal considers the Singularity.

* xkcd considers the past as another country … with an outdated military and massive oil reserves.

* And making the rounds again: The 50 Most Perfectly Timed Photos Ever.

soldier-yawning-perfect-timing

Kudos and Anti-Kudos

with 2 comments

I was very skeptical, but Obama got the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal done before the end of the session his way, as promised. Absolutely terrible news about the DREAM Act, though; Senator Hagan just made my list of Democrats I don’t lift a finger to support.

UPDATE: They died building the railroads, worked to bones and skin
They died in the fields and factories, names scattered in the wind
They died to get here a hundred years ago, they’re dyin’ now
The hands that built the country we’re always trying to keep down


Lots of Black Friday Links

leave a comment »

* You can listen to a segment of the Slavoj Žižek essay on contemporary apocalypticism that will appear in our upcoming issue of Polygraph here. (via Verso)

* The headline reads, Cigar-Shaped “Mothership” Plunges Argentinian Town Into A Blackout.

* 15 Toys Not to Buy Your Child This Christmas. Of course, science proves you shouldn’t buy anyone gifts at all. (Both links via Neil.)

* Is the public option now too watered-down to fight for? Matt Yglesias and Steve Benen join Josh Marshall in thinking this over. I feel exactly how I did on Monday: the point is to pass anything so it can be improved without a filibuster.

* North Carolina in the news! Kay Hagan is the Senate’s 17th wealthiest senator (via), while Blue Cross/Blue Shield of North Carolina has gotten itself in big trouble for improper issue advocacy against the public option.

* Other politics quick hits: HIV travel ban finally lifted. The national GOP has money problems. They’re talking about a war tax. Despite what you may hear in the press, Obama is pretty good at this whole international diplomacy thing. And Dubai is collapsing; couldn’t have happened to a nicer country.

* The New York Times “100 Notable Books of 2009” list is already out.

* ‘Are Fake Academic Conferences the New Nigerian Prince Scam?’

* Little-used geek measurements.

Sheppey (distance)
I have to include Douglas Adams’ co-creation (with John Lloyd) here — It’s from The Meaning of Liff, their dictionary of things there aren’t any words for yet. All the words in the dictionary are British place names (the Isle of Sheppey is off the Kent coast). One sheppey is the closest distance at which sheep are still picturesque, and is about seven-eighths of a mile.

* Thor, a Marvel comics character I’m still pretty sure has to be an elaborate joke, will redefine what a superhero movie can be.

* Black Friday LEGO nostalgia.

* Ah, that explains it: that badly timed Dollhouse ARG turns out to be the work of overzealous fans.

* Paging George Michael Bluth. (via)

Kay

leave a comment »

Facing public pressure, including a threatened campaign from MoveOn, Kay Hagan has now endorsed a public option in a health care, clearing the bill to move out of committee.

Written by gerrycanavan

July 3, 2009 at 1:33 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , ,

Senator Franken

leave a comment »

What can we expect from the Democrats now that Al Franken is their 60th Senator? Ezra Klein points out that 60 is a big number, one not achieved by either party since 1974. Open Left thinks this is a boost to the public option in health care. Grist looks ahead to climate change and the Senate version of ACES. The Nation talks filibusters.

It falls to Donkeylicious to remind us that there are still a lot of bad Democrats, including two who have thus far disappointed me, Kay Hagan and Claire McCaskill.

Written by gerrycanavan

June 30, 2009 at 8:46 pm

Late Night Friday

leave a comment »

Late night Friday.

* As expected, Waxman-Markey passed the House earlier tonight, despite the usual deranged opposition. (Voting breakdown from FiveThirtyEight.) Ezra and Matt pour over a chart that demonstrates just how little this will cost, despite what Republicans are claiming, while Grist considers whether cap and trade has ever actually achieved its stated goals. I’m disappointed with the bill and terrified about what the Senate will pass.

* MoveOn will target Kay Hagan for her opposition to the public option. Good.

* Froomkin’s last column at the Washington Post takes the media to task for completely failing us over the last few decade.

And while this wasn’t as readily apparent until President Obama took office, it’s now very clear that the Bush years were all about kicking the can down the road – either ignoring problems or, even worse, creating them and not solving them. This was true of a huge range of issues including the economy, energy, health care, global warming – and of course Iraq and Afghanistan.

How did the media cover it all? Not well. Reading pretty much everything that was written about Bush on a daily basis, as I did, one could certainly see the major themes emerging. But by and large, mainstream-media journalism missed the real Bush story for way too long. The handful of people who did exceptional investigative reporting during this era really deserve our gratitude: People such as Ron Suskind, Seymour Hersh, Jane Mayer, Murray Waas, Michael Massing, Mark Danner, Barton Gellman and Jo Becker, James Risen and Eric Lichtblau (better late than never), Dana Priest, Walter Pincus, Charlie Savage and Philippe Sands; there was also some fine investigative blogging over at Talking Points Memo and by Marcy Wheeler. Notably not on this list: The likes of Bob Woodward and Tim Russert. Hopefully, the next time the nation faces a grave national security crisis, we will listen to the people who were right, not the people who were wrong, and heed those who reported the truth, not those who served as stenographers to liars.

* But I think Ezra Klein makes the point more strongly:

I think that analytically honest political commentators right now should be struggling with a pretty hard choice: Do you try to maximize the possibility of good, if still insufficient, outcomes? Or do you admit what many people already know and say that our political process has gone into total system failure and the overriding priority is building the long-term case for structural reform of America’s lawmaking process? Put another way, can you really solve any of our policy problems until you solve our fundamental political problem? And don’t think about it in terms of when your team is in power. Think of it in terms of the next 30 years, and the challenges we face.

* Posthumously cleared after twenty-five years. Via MeFi.

* We had to lie about Sotomayor because we’re still mad about Robert Bork. Right. Of course.

* More on how Obama forced Mark Sanford to shirk his responsibilities and flee the country. This is politics at its worst.

* I’m with Joe Strummer: If you don’t like Springsteen you’re a pretentious Martian from Venus. Via Shankar D.

* And of course we’re still coming to terms with Michael Jackson:
Web grinds to a halt after Michael Jackson dies. Secret library of 100 songs could be released. Google mistakes the explosion of searches for an attack. Spike in SMS traffic outpaces 9/11. Will Bruno face a last-minute edit? (Some of these via @negaratduke.)

Wednesday 3

leave a comment »

Wednesday 3.

* First Read considers the curse of the 2012 GOP candidate, noting that only Mitt Romney has avoided total credibility implosion. But stay tuned: it’s a long way to Iowa, and I believe in the Mittpocalypse.

Of course, it’s also worth noting that Obama’s political opponents tend to be cursed in this way: consider that his main opponents for Illinois State Senate were pulled from the ballot for insufficient signatures, that his original run for Senate was facilitated by the scandal surrounding the divorce of Jack and Jeri “Seven of Nine” Ryan, and that his opponent for the presidency actually thought Sarah Palin was a credible vice presidential candidate.

* More on Kay Hagan and health care from Triangulator. Contact information for Hagan’s Senate office is here.

* The MTA is trying to sell name rights for subway stations. Can’t we get a court to bar this kind of silliness? “Atlantic Avenue” is a useful and informative name for a subway station; the name of a bank in London is not remotely. UPDATE: I’m 99% less outraged upon realizing that Barclay’s is building a basketball stadium near that subway station.

* Michael Bérubé on the futility on the humanities. Said futility is not a bad thing.

* Žižek on Iran (at least allegedly).

And, last but not least, what this means is that there is a genuine liberating potential in Islam – to find a “good” Islam, one doesn’t have to go back to the 10th century, we have it right here, in front of our eyes.

The future is uncertain – in all probability, those in power will contain the popular explosion, and the cat will not fall into the precipice, but regain ground. However, it will no longer be the same regime, but just one corrupted authoritarian rule among others. Whatever the outcome, it is vitally important to keep in mind that we are witnessing a great emancipatory event which doesn’t fit the frame of the struggle between pro-Western liberals and anti-Western fundamentalists. If our cynical pragmatism will make us lose the capacity to recognize this emancipatory dimension, then we in the West are effectively entering a post-democratic era, getting ready for our own Ahmadinejads. Italians already know his name: Berlusconi. Others are waiting in line.

* Soccer in South Africa, at the Big Picture.

Wednesday 2

leave a comment »

Wednesday 2.

* My North Carolinian readers should consider sending a letter expressing their displeasure to the offices of our senator, Kay Hagan, who as Facing South reports is currently one of the major stumbling blocks for health care reform.

Sen. Kay Hagan
521 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-6342
Fax: 202-228-2563

You can contact her via email at her web site, but a snail mail letter is still best.

* Climate Progress analyzes the concessions made to Collin Peterson to get Waxman-Markey to the floor this week. Kevin Drum and Yglesias has more, as well as a teaser for how much worse the Senate version will be.

* Also from Yglesias: (1) a post on Asimov’s novel The Gods Themselves that intrigued me enough to drop everything and read the book and (2) a report that the Iranian soccer players who wore green in solidarity with the protesters have been banned from the sport for life. The Gods Themselves, I can report, is a great read: in addition to the environmental allegory Yglesias highlights there’s also some really intriguing queer sexuality stuff in the “how aliens have sex” section—very rare for Asimov—and a nice Star Maker-style cosmology regarding the origin of the universe and the fates of planets that don’t solve their energy crises. I think Asimov’s probably right that it’s his best book.

* Squaring off on the suckiness of Transformers II. In this corner, Roger Ebert:

“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” is a horrible experience of unbearable length, briefly punctuated by three or four amusing moments. One of these involves a dog-like robot humping the leg of the heroine. Such are the meager joys. If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start banging pots and pans together. Then close your eyes and use your imagination.

And in this corner, Walter Chaw:

The worst summer in recent memory continues as Michael Bay brings his slow push-ins and Lazy Susan dolly shots back to the cineplex with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (hereafter Transformers 2), the ugliest, most hateful, most simple-minded and incomprehensible assault on art and decency since the last Michael Bay movie.

* And your webcomic of the day: Warbot in Accounting.

Atheism Wars in North Carolina

leave a comment »

Amanda Marcotte differs with PZ Meyers over whether or not Kay Hagan has Thrown Atheists Under the Bus™ in her response to the now-infamous “There is no god!” ad from Liddy Dole. While my initial reaction certainly had some affinity with Meyers’, my pragmatist-to-a-fault half agrees with Marcotte:

At the risk of having my cranky credentials revoked, I’ll admit that my reaction to Hagan’s “Ah hell no!” retort to Dole’s ads was sheer delight. Dole handed Hagan a loaded gun, and if Hagan didn’t fire it by out-Christianing her, she’d be a fool, and who wants a fool on your side? They live in North Carolina. The idea that a politician should take a public stand for atheists there is more outrageous than asking as politician to take a public stand for Satanists. Given the choice between token support in public and losing a genuine ally in Congress and having an ally who has to play by rules she didn’t write, I’ll take the latter.

Written by gerrycanavan

November 4, 2008 at 12:22 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , , ,

I’m a Godless Atheist, and I Vote

leave a comment »

I’m a Godless Atheist, and I vote: Elizabeth Dole desperately wants me to vote for Kay Hagan. (Done.)

Sen. Elizabeth Dole’s latest advertisement suggests her Democratic opponent, Kay Hagan, is a godless heathen.

“A leader of the Godless Americans PAC recently held a secret fundraiser for Kay Hagan,” the 30-second spot says, showing footage of the group’s members talking about their atheist beliefs on cable news.

“Godless Americans and Kay Hagan. She hid from cameras. Took godless money,” the ad concludes. “What did Kay Hagan promise in return?”

At the very end of the ad, a voice sounding like Hagan’s says: “There is no God.”

Don’t get too excited, fellow heathens: as Washington Monthly reports, Hagan called a press conference with her family and pastor to denounce the ad—for lying. Like calling your opponent a Muslim, calling your opponent an atheist is prima facie an insult. God forbid it actually be true!

Local Politics Minute

leave a comment »

Written by gerrycanavan

October 17, 2008 at 9:34 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , , , ,

Endorsements

leave a comment »

Barack Obama has attracted the support of nearly three times as many newspapers as John McCain, according to a round-up from Editor and Publisher, as the endorsement season hits a frenzied pitch.

Obama picked up the backing of several major dailies on Friday, including the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune, which has never endorsed a Democratic nominee for president.

In 2004, these numbers were much closer, roughly 50-50, due to the high prevalence of right-leaning local papers.

Along the same lines, Matt is surprised by the number of Kay Hagan endorsements.

The big endorsement right now, though, looks to be Colin Powell’s, who is again rumored to be making a bid to restore his reputation by endorsing Obama this weekend on Meet the Press.

Written by gerrycanavan

October 17, 2008 at 8:57 pm

NC-SenWatch

leave a comment »

NC-SenWatch: Both Rasmussen (51-45) and PPP (46-41) show Kay Hagan opening up largish leads over Liddy Dole.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 22, 2008 at 2:43 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , ,

North Carolina Polls

leave a comment »

No one knows how to poll North Carolina. SurveyUSA on Tuesday had McCain suddenly up 20 points after his convention, 58%-38%—but PPP’s poll yesterday had Kay Hagan up 1 over Liddy Dole and Obama only down 4. Why the huge discrepancy? Well, for one, the PPP poll includes Bob Barr, but it also has voter identification numbers I just can’t believe: 49% Democrat, 36% Republican, 15% independent. The SurveyUSA poll, in contrast, used a likely voter screen that resulted in a 40% Democrat, 41% Republican party ID split—which I’m a bit skeptical of as well.

For what it’s worth, PPP did better in the primary, though neither did especially well.

Bush took the state in 2004 by twelve points, so taken together these polls tell us we’re either doing much worse or much better, or about the same, as we did then…

Written by gerrycanavan

September 10, 2008 at 2:31 pm

Can Obama Win NC?

leave a comment »

Can Obama win North Carolina? Rasmussen puts the race at McCain 48%, Obama 45%, ±4.5%. Survey USA says 50%-45%, ±3.8. And since the college population isn’t around to be polled right now, you’ve got to figure it’s actually even tighter than that.

Let’s hope this trickles down to Kay Hagan. I’d sure like to win a Senate race sometime before I leave here.

Written by gerrycanavan

July 17, 2008 at 10:44 pm