Tuesday, September 16, 2014

But everyone knows women aren't funny

Take 3 minutes to watch Megan MacKay's very astute and very funny Ray Rice makeup tutorial:

(h/t Jezebel)

Why I am not for HRC

One reason among many:
Kissinger is a friend, and I relied on his counsel when I served as secretary of state. He checked in with me regularly, sharing astute observations about foreign leaders and sending me written reports on his travels. Though we have often seen the world and some of our challenges quite differently, and advocated different responses now and in the past, what comes through clearly in this new book is a conviction that we, and President Obama, share: a belief in the indispensability of continued American leadership in service of a just and liberal order.*
Yep, that's Hillary.

*And of course, with great military power comes great epistemic status, so that the the elites ruling the US have privileged access to truths about just and liberal orders, an unerring ability to recognize such orders and an unmatched power to construct and impose a just and liberal order for those whose moral enlightenment falls below theirs.
(via Attytood)

Police shooting: Darrien Hunt

Each of these stories ends up reading the same way, but each represents a real person whose murder death by police shooting creates a real and unique loss to those left behind.
Authorities in Utah have altered their account of how a 22-year-old black man was killed by police, after an attorney for the man’s family alleged that he was shot repeatedly from behind by officers while running away.
The authorities also said that the two police officers involved in the shooting of Darrien Hunt last Wednesday had not yet been interviewed about the incident. The attorney for Hunt’s family described this delay as “almost incomprehensible”.
Hunt died outside a Panda Express restaurant at a strip mall in Saratoga Springs on Wednesday morning following an encounter with two police officers who were responding to a 911 call reporting a man with a samurai-style sword acting suspiciously.
After several days of silence Tim Taylor, the chief deputy attorney for Utah county, said in a statement on Saturday: “When the officers made contact with Mr Hunt, he brandished the sword and lunged toward the officers with the sword, at which time Mr Hunt was shot.”
However, Taylor confirmed to the Guardian on Monday that Hunt was in fact alleged to have lunged at the officers outside a bank several dozen yards away from where he ultimately died. While it was outside the bank that Hunt was first “shot at” by police, Taylor said, it was not clear whether he was struck on that occasion.
But he was struck by a lot of bullets, according to a private autopsy.
 Edwards said over the weekend that the family’s private autopsy had found Hunt was shot six times from behind. He was hit once in a shoulder, once in the back, once in an elbow, twice in a leg and once in a hand, according to the attorney.
“The shot that killed Darrien, which was straight in the back, did not have an exit wound,” Edwards told the Guardian. “It raises the question as to how you can lunge at someone and be shot in the back at the same time.” Edwards declined to identify the pathologist who had carried out the autopsy, citing a desire to protect him from media attention.
The state's autopsy won't be completed and released for another six weeks or so. How many more black men around the US will be killed by police by then?

Monday, September 15, 2014

wtf philosophy: reflections of a Colorado undergraduate

An undergraduate philosophy alum from the University of Colorado reflects on her department:
With the recent allegations at the philosophy department at CU, I cannot help but wonder: how many of my accolades as a student was a result of my intelligence and ability as a philosopher? Or was this success because I was an undergraduate woman? Perhaps it was the former. I would like to think so. The very fact that I have to contemplate whether or not my gender was a factor in my collegiate experience, however, is problematic.
It seems to me that this is more than problematic, this is appalling---a student, whatever her accomplishments, or lack of them, should not be forced by a pervasive atmosphere of sex harassment to have to contemplate whether, say, the favorable reception of a paper or argument stemmed from appreciation of its insight or the author's chest. This is a failure of justice as well as respect, and it causes real harm, even to students who themselves were never specifically targeted by a harasser. Pathologically sexist departments infect  students (and not just the women---the men may also be targeted or wonder about the legitimacy of the feedback they received on their work) with self-undermining doubts and the imposter syndrome.

(h/t Daily Nous)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Paid cheerleaders for Iraq 3.0

Who's benefiting from the roll out of the new Iraq 3.0 war? (Just because it is a stock question doesn't mean it is an irrelevant one.) One way of figuring that out is to check to see who is paying the talking heads cheerleaders for the war, something the Nation just did, and it is worth checking out. For example:
In a Washington Post story about Obama’s decision not to deploy troops to combat ISIS, retired Marine General James Mattis was quoted as a skeptic. “The American people will once again see us in a war that doesn’t seem to be making progress,” Mattis told the paper. Left unmentioned was Mattis’s new role as Keane’s colleague on the General Dynamics corporate board, a role that afforded Mattis $88,479 in cash and stock options in 2013.
Retired General Anthony Zinni, perhaps the loudest advocate of a large deployment of American soliders into the region to fight ISIS, is a board member to BAE Systems’ US subsidiary, and also works for several military-focused private equity firms.
CNN pundit Frances Townsend, a former Bush administration official, has recently appeared on television calling for more military engagement against ISIS. As the Public Accountability Initiative, a nonprofit that studies elite power structures, reported, Townsend “holds positions in two investment firms with defense company holdings, MacAndrews & Forbes and Monument Capital Group, and serves as an advisor to defense contractor Decision Sciences.”

The fact that people are employed by firms with financial interests in a new war does not show that their claims are false, but as any logic book will tell us, it does suggest that these claims need to be investigated further. The problem is that they aren't, certainly not in the big mouth media outlets that employ the pro-war cheerleaders. I guess there is more money in war than there is in truth, so paying attention to US tv news won't help us accurately understand what is going on and whether yet more war is the best, or even reasonable response to IS.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Short answer quiz

Over at TPM, the headline writer asks:

Has The World Been Bamboozled By The ISIS PR Machine?

Short answer: yes.

The explanation as to why has to do with interest groups pushing for more war as part of their business/political plans, plus perhaps gestures towards phenomena like lemmings and thanatos and testosterone poisoning.

Next question:

Is a new war a good thing?

Uh---what do you think? 

This is what James Fallows thinks.



Two nuclear power plants may restart in Japan

Once again, Japanese decision makers have green-lighted restarting nuclear power plants.

Japan's nuclear watchdog has given the green light for two reactors to restart but the operator still has to persuade local communities they are safe.
Widespread anti-nuclear sentiment has simmered in Japan ever since an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 caused meltdowns at the Fukushima power plant, sparking the worst atomic disaster since Chernobyl.
The country's nuclear reactors were switched off after the catastrophe. Two reactors were briefly restarted last year but all of Japan's nuclear plants are currently offline.
The go-ahead from the Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) for two reactors at the Sendai plant in southern Japan comes after it issued a more than 400-page safety report in July and follows a month-long public consultation period.
But any restart is unlikely before the year end as the operator, Kyushu Electric Power, is also required to get two more NRA approvals for other facilities at the site.
More challenging, perhaps, is gaining the consent of communities living near the plant in south-western Kagoshima prefecture, who must sign off on the restarts before they can happen.
Much of the job of convincing a sceptical public will fall on the shoulders of new industry minister Yuko Obuchi.
"If people say they are worried, I think it is only natural. If you are a mother, I think it is a kind of feeling that everyone has," Obuchi said soon after being appointed as Japan's first female industry minister. "The central government must offer a full explanation to these sentiments."
Obuchi has highlighted the importance of earning the "understanding of hosting communities" who may be hostile to the prospect of firing up nearby reactors, despite beefed up safety rules.
I don't know whether the government thought that a woman in this hot seat would be more persuasive than yet another man in attempting to reassure affected communities that all is well. I do know that Obuchi  has one of those jobs whose job description seems doomed to fail in most possible worlds.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Criminalizing standing while hispanic

In a conversation about race, policing and Ferguson the other day, it occurred to me that while the justification for the police power of the state rests in part on increased security of the population from random violence, the present policing policies in many jurisdictions around the country make people more insecure, because they are at constant threat of random violence from the police. Today's case in point in brought is to us by the NYPD via Conor Friedersdorf, who reflects:
The video illustrates what can go wrong with the law enforcement attitude, "If you don't want to get hurt, don't challenge me." While laws against resisting arrest are legitimate, it is also legitimate for a citizen having handcuffs slapped on his wrist for no apparent reason to say, "Um, excuse me, what did I do wrong?" Hernandez was still on parole stemming from an assault he committed at age 14, so you can see why he'd want to know the reason for any arrest. Withholding an arm while calmly asking why one is being arrested shouldn't be considered an excuse for police to beat on someone like he's violently resisting arrest.
This was not a tense situation.
Hernandez was unarmed. The police officers knew that, having already searched him. A half-dozen armed cops nevertheless beat up this man who posed no apparent threat to their safety, all in order to successfully arrest him for the crime of... what? If a simple request to provide some justification for their actions caused NYPD officers to become agitated and abusive, it wouldn't be the first time.
I'll quibble with Friedersdorf here---it is more than just legitimate for someone arrested and cuffed with no stated reason to ask for the reason---under some circumstances, it is mandatory. Arbitrary and groundless arrests and concocted post-hoc rationales (in this case, a 'noise complaint') threaten us all. Bearing witness to it is vital. Count me grateful for the proliferation of security cameras and smart phones.