finem respice

This is Too Easy

Wednesday, January 20, 2010 - 21:45 (+0100) by ep

just reactive enough (for a while)

Of late my (admittedly limited) experience suggests that Americans like their politics like they like their '40s era fission experiments: reactionary, but not too reactionary and- even then- placed directly under a large bank of retarding control rods besides. This last week in particular drives the point home quite nicely. But, then, election years always have these days.

Both republicans and democrats are in entangled particle mode, with republicans in spin up angular momentum (read: the Massachusetts election is a firm display that Americans hate everything about the utter failure of a president that is Barack Obama and his legions of cloned fiscal storm troopers, their energy policy, their elitism, their handling of the nation's economy, a degradation of national morals manifest in the inability of The Bachelor to consummate even a single enduring marriage after fourteen seasons, and, oh yeah, the health care bill) and democrats in spin down angular momentum (read: the Massachusetts election is a firm display that Americans hate everything about Martha Coakley and the pack of shiftless, good-for-nothing vagabonds she apparently pulled in from the homeless shelter to clandestinely staff her campaign with such ninja-like invisibility and silence that neither the White House or the Democratic National Committee was able to detect the abyssall depth of their deficiency until late yesterday afternoon after it was too late... and plus we are just going to pass health care anyhow even if we have to change the Senate rules, you'll see).

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He Was Wearing My Harvard Tie. Can You Believe It? My Harvard Tie.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 - 18:21 (+0100) by ep

mr. valentine has set the price

Without question a large number of venerable institutions that spent most of the last several decades basking in their accomplishment, reputation and influence (not to mention affluence) have found themselves confronted with the unfamiliar sensation of ignominious defeat (or merely "substantial setback"). One could pick any number of cogent examples, but between the drubbing dealt to its endowment, and the general anti-finance, anti-Ivy (and anti-intelligentsia) sentiment that has gripped the United States, Harvard University seems to be something of a standout.

But even in the midst of overt, popular ire (just look at the increasing popularity of the word "elites" as a neo-class warfare weapon for example) old and venerable institutions still have appeal. Despite the fact that the "elites" may become hated, they manage to remain deeply envied (one might even wonder after a connection therein). And so it is not remotely difficult to find oneself fielding requests for, say, letters of recommendation to these institutions.

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Dealing With Dissidents Online

Saturday, January 16, 2010 - 05:55 (+0100) by ep


One hardly expects any particular quarter to maintain the kind of monopoly on what can only be described as intellectually vacant ideas intended to bolster central control or the the exercise of unquestioned authority that is routinely demonstrated by the more egregious of nation states. (North Korea, Venezuela and China come readily to mind, for instance). Bearing this in mind, consider the likely source of this passage:

Recall that extremist networks and groups, including the groups that purvey conspiracy theories, typically suffer from a kind of crippled epistemology. Hearing only conspiratorial accounts of government behavior, their members become ever more prone to believe and generate such accounts.
Informational and reputational cascades, group polarization, and selection effects suggest that the generation of ever-more-extreme views within these groups can be dampened or reversed by the introduction of cognitive diversity. We suggest a role for government efforts, and agents, in introducing such diversity. Government agents (and their allies) might enter chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups and attempt to undermine percolating conspiracy theories by raising doubts about their factual premises, causal logic or implications for political action.


A 15 year old report from the Chinese Minister of Information?
Memoirs of a Venezuelan PSYOPS Officer?
A 1990's era State Sponsored Russian Hacker?

No. Not actually.

Try: A paper written last year1 by the appointee to the position of Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for the most transparent and open administration ever to breathe air.

In other words, Cass Sunstein.

  1. 1. Apparently first "uncovered" by Mark Estrin earlier this week.
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Death to the Doomsday Clock

Friday, January 15, 2010 - 01:39 (+0100) by ep

serious science for serious scientists

One might be forgiven for wondering if Martyl Langsdorf knew what she was getting into when she accepted an invitation to design the cover for the June issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists back in 1947. That little project resulted in the creation of an absolutely fantastic and long-lived bit of propaganda, the famous "Doomsday Clock," a representation of which has been stylistically embedded (with varying degrees of style) in every cover of the publication since.

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Two is One, One is None

Thursday, January 7, 2010 - 13:08 (+0100) by ep

the shape of

Apparently, Andrew Sullivan, who writes "The Daily Dish," a blog over at The Atlantic, is a favored punching bag for... well about everyone not on the far left. I became vaguely aware of the existence of Mr. Sullivan and his blog last week in an event apparently so unmemorable that I can't remember it anymore. It was, however, enough to cause Sullivan's recent attempt at penetrating investigative reporting in the panty-bomber case to catch my eye.

Sullivan relays the email of a "reader" who seems to suggest that this whole attempt-to-blow-up-a-plane thing was some kind of artifice intended to do... well... more damage by not actually blowing up the plane, I think.

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The False Climate Claims Act?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010 - 06:54 (+0100) by ep

to collect your share of the reward

It wasn't long ago when I wondered aloud in these pages if accepting grant money from public and private sources might not give rise to a cause of action, not least of all based on the False Claims Act. That would be a particularly interesting rub on things, given the number of potential causes of action we can find lurking around. (I've toyed with the idea of evaluating civil RICO as a means to pursue matters as well). Apparently, I wasn't the only one to consider this possibility.

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Science is Dead

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 - 14:04 (+0100) by ep

his reach exceeds his grasp

It is not often that one finds a particular discourse shot through with the sort of threads, intertwined silver filaments, that touch at once on so many personal interests and gather so many errant thoughts into a larger whole that the emotional aftermath is best characterized as the shock of a sort of theoretical unification. It is even possible, only just, to appreciate (if not share) the kind of emotion that must prompt individuals to claim religious experiences as explanation. Even the hint of disappointment following the discovery that these thoughts were not uniquely one's own, that one could no longer lay claim to their original authorship, is blunted by the pleasure of discovering a kindred spirit and the small reminder that, at least as an intellect, one is (or was) just a little bit less alone in the universe.

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Sunday, December 6, 2009 - 09:36 (+0100) by ep

unhand me!

Thoughts on the death of this particular incarnation of "climate science": In the hours before his seizure at the Hôtel de Ville, Maximilian Robespierre was either shot by Charles-André Merda or shot himself in a suicide attempt. In either case, his jaw was left in tatters which, as one might imagine, greatly reduced the prospects that his legendary skill at oration would moderate his increasingly dire predicament. Indeed, he was, of course, eventually executed.

To give the blade of the guillotine an unobstructed fall, the executioner tore away the paper bandage that had been holding his jaw together.... Animal screams of pain escaped, silenced only by the falling blade."1

  1. 1. Schama, Simon, Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution, 1990.
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Their Charms Proved Irresistible

Sunday, November 29, 2009 - 00:40 (+0100) by ep

Some flow measurement approaching "neverending" seems to make a good candidate for "best descriptive prose" when discussing the number of apologist excuses for various components of the corpus of stolen University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit data. Amusingly, the quality of argument put forth by the many gallant defenders of Climate Science's beleaguered battlements is so desperately weak that it doesn't take but a few hours for one to find oneself suddenly overcome with the impression that one is fishing in a barrel... with dynamite.

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Shocked, Shocked to Find That Fraud is Going on in Here

Sunday, November 22, 2009 - 06:19 (+0100) by ep

you mean you weren't expecting to find that in there?

The Really Big News™ is actually that there is no really big news. Much is being made of the recent hack of the HadleyUniversity of East Anglia's Climatic Research CenterUnit (the "CRU") whereby over a thousand emails along with documents as well as data and code were lifted and published to an FTP site before being linked to by "The Air Vent" blog and then... the world.

The leak appears to show climate scientists shaping results, strategizing on how best to conceal data and analysis from the public, planning public relations to get their message out irrespective of the most recent data setbacks, debating the best way to influence the "man on the street," discussing means to deal with critics via the press and otherwise, and reacting with barely contained glee to the news of an opponent's untimely death. While the general consensus is that the most damaging emails appear to reference the now semi-famous "hockey graph" illustration that has been a favorite of the United Nations (and everyone else pushing radical climate change policy) for a decade, I think something much more insidious (and actually quite ordinary) emerges from between the many subject lines. Rank corruption.

Update: Looks like the "missing" hockey stick data has been found:


If so, that there is the ballgame.

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