Friday, April 15, 2016

Today in Stupid

What kind of moronic luddite mocks science? 

In the Russell Senate Office building, a veritable all-star lineup of maligned researchers gathered. Their work would be familiar to anyone who has read the “wastebook” put together by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) or has watched Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) lead a House Science Committee hearing: In the back corner was that guy who watched shrimp run on treadmills; off to the side was the woman who pondered why fat girls can’t get dates; in the middle of the room was the person who studied cows in China; near the bar was the man who sent text messages to drunk people; and in the back was the scientist who started a fight club for shrimp (it’s always those damn shrimp!).  
These researchers had come to Capitol Hill to make the case that their congressional tormentors had gotten their work profoundly wrong. Far from being taxpayer-funded jesters in the world of science, they were doing work of merit and promise. And while they had the resumes and wherewithal to withstand the scrutiny, their worry was that future scientists — the ones hanging out with Obama — would look at the crucible and decide to stay far, far away... 
Contra what Flake said in his book, Patek and her graduate student didn’t set up a crustacean-themed Fight Club. Nor did the federal government give her $700,000 for that purpose. That sum was for all of her studies. 
The focus of the infamous study is actually quite in symmetry with Republican priorities. Patek and her team are looking into the ability of mantis shrimp to generate incredible force without the assistance of outside factors. They’re trying to answer questions like: How it is that a shrimp’s toothpick-sized hammer can break snail shells in water when humans have to use a larger hammer to do the same in air? A discovery could eventually lead to dramatic changes in human-engineered defense systems. The research already has sparked changes in engineered materials designed to resist impact fracture. 
“It is a beautiful and elegant study,” Patek said.

Anti-science, anti-intellectual, anti-American Republicans. 

Lots of other examples of Republicans getting it wrong time after time on science through either willful deceit (i.e. lies), or willful ignorance (i.e. stupidity). There are a number of things you can debate about a person or group who exhibits this combination of deceit & ignorance so frequently over an extended period of time, but there is one thing that is obvious and incontrovertible: These people are assholes

P.S. Dangerous assholes at that. 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

WSJ: Trump is Al Gore’s Fault

The Murdoch Moron for the week is Joseph Epstein in the Wall Street Journal and his essay, “These Five Are the Best We Can Do?” 

(To bypass Murdoch’s paywall, paste the title of the article in Google and click on the Wall Street Journal link than comes up.)

No one has really complained about the quality of the Democratic candidates this year while there has been unprecedented wailing and gnashing of teeth by just about everyone with sympathies for the GOP. The GOP standard-bearers (Rubio, yet another Bush, Christie, Graham, Jindal) were all pathetic lightweights, but they could be expected to tow the GOP line. What the Republican base preferred (what they were trained to prefer) was the radical extremists of Trump, Fiorina, Carson, Cruz, and the mindless xenophobic bigotry they espoused. But apparently the Murdoch rule is that you can’t make negative comments about Republicans without also pulling the “both sides do it” trope to speak negatively about Democrats too. 

Is there something in our system of electing candidates that makes inevitable the rise of the mediocre and even the exaltation of the vulgar?

The “vulgar” is the sole domain of the GOP. No one is accusing the Democrats of vulgarity, not even Epstein, though he necessarily associates the Democrats through his lame assertion, but fails to show and Democratic vulgarities when he lists his examples. 

Difficult to find anyone who talks about the presidential primaries with any enthusiasm. Even yellow-dog Democrats and academic feminists can’t get much worked up for Hillary Clinton. The young are apparently taken with the socialist fantast Bernie Sanders—but then, being young, they don’t realize he is nothing more than a digitally remastered 1930s replay.

This is a laughably stupid statement that betrays the politically cloistered life of Epstein. First, no one is denying the enthusiastic (though brain-dead) zealotry of Trump supporters. There is also plenty of enthusiasm for Hillary as well, even though it has not taken the radical and violent path of the GOP front runner. The only insult he has for Bernie is a vacuous dismissal of the candidate and his supporters - supports that Epstein notes are, in fact, enthusiastic. Epstein tellingly fails to note any specific policy issues he has with Sanders, which is what you’d expect from a political tribalist. 

I’m sure it’s difficult for Epstein to find anyone enthusiastic about Hillary or Bernie in the halls of Murdoch’s wing-nut welfare tool, The Weekly Standard. 

The Weekly Standard is an American neoconservative[2][3][4][5][6] opinion magazine[7] published 48 times per year. Its founding publisher, News Corporation, debuted the title on September 18, 1995. Currently edited by founder William Kristol and Fred Barnes, the Standard has been described as a "redoubt of neoconservatism" and as "the neo-con bible".[8][9] [10]
Since it was founded in 1995, The Weekly Standard has never been profitable, and has remained in business through subsidies from conservative benefactors such as former owner Rupert Murdoch.[11]

Epstein berates Bernie Sanders for his politics, but is happy to cash his subsidized, socialist-style wing-nut welfare paychecks from The Weekly Standard. A disingenuous tool of a tool. 

Epstein’s choice? Mitch “college-censor” Daniels! Even ignoring the authoritarian bent of Constitutionally challenged Daniels, who in the world could ever get enthusiastic about Mitch Daniels? 

Clearly, Epstein is with the rest of the GOP establishment in retching over Donald Trump’s rise to being the most likely Republican nominee. 

Mr. Trump’s vulgarity is nonpareil—and by his vulgarity I don’t mean his profanity merely, but the vulgar quality of his speech, his thought, his very sentiments.

Epstein places Cruz as a close second to Trump’s vulgarity. 

Who does Epstein blame for this rise in Republican vulgar and extremism? The Internet. 

The advent of the Internet made this all the worse. The Internet is without an ethical standard. On it anyone can say anything—and usually does. Donald Trump has added to the demeaning quality of the proceedings by using the Internet—those endless insulting tweets—and attracting press and television with his steady stream of attacks on the personal lives of his opponents.

The Internet is to blame. Brilliant! With the right-wing zombie-lie of Al Gore taking credit for creating the Internet, Epstein is one step away from blaming Al Gore for causing the rise of Trump in the GOP. Never mind the role he and his benefactors have played in conditioning the Republican base to believe that every policy difference with the Democrats was a battle with the devil himself for America’s soul and encouraged the mindless vitriol and zealotry of Teabaggers, anti-Democratic TV and Radio hosts, as well as Murdoch’s Weekly Standard and The Wall Street Journal. And this, from a person who has made their living as a writer for decades. 

Epstein is proving himself long in the tooth and short on the truth. 

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Another Man Makes The Leap

Elon musk has to be looking over both shoulders these days with rumors of Apple making an electric car to compete with his Tesla line, and now Bezos getting into (Musk's?) space and back again. The travails of being in the lead of the pack. 

And yet another example of the continuing benefits of America's Apollo program, as Bezos himself notes at the 3:10 mark in the video above. 

Friday, April 1, 2016

All Fools Day

Wise men learn more from fools than fools from the wise.

Cato the Elder, Plutarch's Life of Cato 

In the search for intelligent life, this may be a good credo. There is certainly a lot to be learned these days. And though it would be nice to avoid the obvious fool in the name of Trump, what better example of a fool is there today? For decades the GOP has been veering from dumb to crazy to stupid to extreme, to now whatever you call the Trump-brand of Republicanism, it is telling that the base of the party has become so extreme that even the GOP leaders are taken aback and in a state of panic. Of course, this is the same leadership that promoted this craziness, but they promoted it with winks, nods, and dog-whistles instead of Team Trump’s megaphone and swinging fists).

Even the right wing National Review is freaking out about the leading Republican candidate in a piece subtly titled, “‘Mental.’ ‘Utterly Stupid.’ ‘Trump Only Cares About Trump.’"

GINGRICH: Tweeting about, or repeating a tweet about Mrs. Cruz is just utterly stupid. It has frankly, weakened everything that Trump ought to be strengthening. It sent a signal to women that is negative, at a time when his numbers with women are already bad. 
[National Review's JIM GERAGHTY:] Oh, what’s that? Trump’s Twitter behavior is “utterly stupid”, Newt? Thanks for noticing; six days ago you were telling the media there was absolutely nothing about Trump that worries you. Maybe your previous comparison of Trump to Reagan was frankly, fundamentally, profoundly wrong from A to Z.

This condemnation from the staunchly right-wing Republican National Review. But as has been pointed out, Trump is not an anomaly of the Republican Party, he is the logical and predictable product of the GOP

Donald Trump didn’t suddenly change in the past few days, weeks or months. He’s the same guy he always was, the same guy that most of us in the conservative movement and GOP have been staunchly opposing for the past year. He didn’t abruptly become reckless, obnoxious, ill-informed, erratic, hot-tempered, pathologically dishonest, narcissistic, crude and catastrophically unqualified for the presidency overnight. He’s always been that guy…

The National Review just listed what has been the MO of the GOP for several decades, but now they want to try to distance themselves from their fraternal candidate? 

The best part of the NR piece is this kicker:

Trump supporters, no one should let you off of that bandwagon now.  You should be handcuffed to that Titanic you volunteered to crew.

The same can be said of the GOP as a whole, not just Trump and his supporters. Which brings to mind this apt quote which can easily be applied to the GOP and its supporters:
Who's the more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows him?
(And, just because I like Gary Larson)

Over several election cycles, Republican voters have supported candidates that are "reckless, obnoxious, ill-informed, erratic, hot-tempered, pathologically dishonest, narcissistic, and crude." In the process of supporting these candidates, Republican voters have also exhibited these same traits. 

Un sot trouve toujours un plus sot qui l'admire.
  • Translation: A fool always finds one still more foolish to admire him.
  • Variant A fool always finds a greater fool to admire him. 

The Republican leadership in the party and the right-wing media have created today’s Republican base that now supports Trump. And why shouldn't Republicans support Trump? All the things that other Republicans only mutter under their breath, Trump says out loud. The hard-core tribalist right-wingers love it. The GOP leadership hasn’t yet figured out a way to tell Trump and his supporters, “Yes, we agree with you, but we’ll lose the general election if you can’t put some political spin on our true intentions.” Republicans as a party are looking in the mirror for the first time and what they see is very ugly. It will be entertaining watching these fools as they alternately fight and dance with each other. 

As a P.S. Some final foolish thoughts for All Fools Day:

A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.

  • A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.

  • A prosperous fool is a grievous burden.

There are three kinds of fools in this world, fools proper, educated fools and rich fools. The world persists because of the folly of these fools.

  • The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.

  • Any fool can make a rule
  • And any fool will mind it.

All quotes from -

Dawn of Blog

Is there anybody... out there?