28 January 2009

Ideology 1, Pragmatism 0

Not that I'm keeping count...
(From the Times):

The White House encouraged other gestures as well. As the House version of the legislation came to the floor on Tuesday, Democrats stripped from it a provision that Republicans had ridiculed as having nothing to do with economic stimulus, one expanding federal Medicaid coverage of family planning services. (The Congressional Budget Office had estimated that the provision would actually save the government $200 million over five years by reducing pregnancy and postnatal-care expenses.)
So I know that $40 million a year of savings is peanuts compared to the multi-trillion dollar deficits that are coming up. Still, if a tiny family planning program expansion that could easily have been forwarded as a cost-restraining measure is defeated because the Republicans frame it (and get it thrown out by an accomodating president) in ideological terms, we don't have much to look forward to in this new era of bipartisanship.


27 January 2009

Vegetarian warriors of the 21st century

The newest additions to the Israeli Defense Forces: eight state of the art foliage clearers.

Via Sullivan.



Brandeis to sell school's art collection - The Boston Globe

Posted using ShareThis


26 January 2009

Visual representation of an entire presidency...


24 January 2009

The Terrifying Digital World


22 January 2009

Wait, so I paid an extra $300 for what?

Is this a good move when trying to push an aspirational good?

With the new white MaBbook update, it seems that unibody MacBook buyers are paying $300 extra for the following:

1. RAM at 1066 MHz rather than 677, which can be upgraded from third parties for less than $70.
2. 40GB of hard disk space, which can be purchased from Apple for $50.
3. Mini DisplayPort instead of MiniDVI
4. Trackpad.
5. Lack of Firewire
6. Glass glossy screen.
7. Aluminum.

Am I bothered? Not really - I'm vain enough to pay essentially $180 more for a better-looking computer, but are other people such sitting ducks for Apple marketing?


20 January 2009

It Might Not Be Classy

But the crowd's booing, jeering, and singing of "hey, hey, hey, goodbye" at images of George W. Bush is an understandable and excusable response to eight years of...


Live-Living the Greatest Media Event Ever?

Following the coverage on NPR and listening to CBC news this morning, a couple notes that don't mar the momentous occasion but certainly remind us of what America still is today:

It was revealed yesterday that tortured Guantanamo detainee, former child soldier, and fellow Canadian Omar Khadr recognized (likely under torture) Mahar Arar from his time fighting in Afghanistan - possible reopening that nasty episode of Canada's less-than-brilliant recent history.

And I heard on CBC's newscast this morning that a busload of Canadian visitors was stopped at the border and stopped for about 7 hours as individuals of African descent were questioned, fingerprinted, and asked whether they had plans against Obama's life by agents of the insidiously named Department of Homeland Security. All of them eventually made it to Washington, apparently.



19 January 2009

Arrogant Coastal Anti-American Elitists!

Municipality results just released by New Jersey.

Princeton Borough (town centre, including most of campus)
Barack Obama 80.36%
John McCain 16.96%

Princeton Township (more suburban, but also Lawrence Apartments!)
Barack Obama 75.30%
John McCain 20.70%


18 January 2009

From the Department of Stating the Obvious

Sean Combs, at the Inauguration:

Close to 2 a.m., Diddy strode on stage wearing sunglasses, a winter vest and some sort of white Christmas sweater.

Facing the crowd, he took the microphone and yelled: “The President is black baby! Yeah!”


17 January 2009

Justice, supposedly blind, really looks backwards

Soon-president Obama's pragmatism encourages him to take a position on the errors and probable crimes of the Bush era as one of looking forward, not backwards. Unfortunately, as this Times report on Holder's confirmation hearing attests, Justice fixes her gaze firmly on the rearview mirror most if not all of the time (with apologies to Wendt 2001).

The article claims that Holder's admission that waterboarding is torture, "amounting to an admission that the United States may have committed war crimes, opens the door to an unpredictable train of legal and political consequences"; "it could potentially require a full-scale legal investigation, complicate prosecutions of individuals suspected of committing terrorism and mire the new administration in just the kind of backward look that Mr. Obama has said he would like to avoid."

While addressing the wrongs of the past is generally likely to complicate prudential considerations about the future, it is precisely because when it comes to justice the past cannot be wholly forgotten (and, it must be admitted, it often ought not) that optimizing future outcomes is so difficult. Who can argue that the memory of colonialism and decolonization does not complicate international trade negotiations, or that history's unrightable wrongs close off possible solutions to present problems (hint: Israel), or that the world could be a safer and more reasonable place if Americans could just forget about 11 September 2001?


12 January 2009

Times Error

Oh why can't reporters exercise proper diction? From the Times:

But [Obama's] administration will face competing demands: pressure from liberals who want wide-ranging criminal investigations, and the need to establish trust among the country’s intelligence agencies.
My beef with this: "trust" by the agent of the principal is not really the matter of primary concern; the concern of "liberals" who want wide-raging investigations is to re-establish the trust by the principal (here the American people via the President and Congress) of the agents (the intelligence community. Why should those who have broken the trust of their superiors be entitled to have their own trust issues (trust that they won't be interfered with?) prioritized?


10 January 2009

An Imperial Palimpsest on Poland's Electoral Map