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2016-01-08      Misión cumplida   

I just found out via Esquire that noted escapee "El Chapo" has been captured. Tweets from the Mexican President were included in the article:
chapo_tweets
The top one caught my eye. This is not the first time I have seen the phrase "Misión cumplida." But, in recent years, I have mostly seen or heard it in English, in reference to a single event:
mission_accomplished
We will see if they are equally accurate.

2016-01-06      An Almost Certainty in the Bush Administration   

Today on Twitter, someone I follow referred to former Vice(*) President Dick Cheney as "Evil Dick." I recently got a new phone. As such, I spent an inordinate amount of time creating new ringtones for various alerts. These two items collided in my head and produced an image I couldn't expunge for the rest of the day.

The phone number of this man:
evil_dick
was stored on scores (perhaps even hundreds) of cellphones in the Bush White House. It is all but certain that the owner of at least one of them used, for his "Dick Cheney" ringtone, the opening of:
body_count
Body Count's "Evil Dick."

In writing this, I hope to expel this imagery from my mind.

2015-12-27      After Midnight   

Christmas Day, the temperature outside reached 67?F. Boxing Day, we received more than four inches of snow.

[caption id="attachment_1197" align="alignnone" width="345"]December 27th in southern New Mexico, about 3 a.m., taken with ambient light only (no flash). December 27th in southern New Mexico, about 3 a.m., taken with ambient light only (no flash).[/caption]

Cold snaps like this remind me of how hard climate change is to explain to those who chose not to understand. Such instances set off the "A winter storm in December proves that Global Warming is a hoax" crackpots on their periodic rants featuring hackneyed and long-discredited right wing talking points. But instantaneous weather is not climate. While January may have cold days, the predictive models have been proven by empirical data. A slightly warmer day in the dead of winter may make no discernible difference to you as a a person. The same single degree difference will, however, have a measurable effect on the rate of, say, glacial melting. Scientific analysis of empirical evidence is ineffective, however, next to the selectively remembered individual event of a particular year in the minds of certain people.

In the words of Upton Sinclair:

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" - Upton Sinclair, I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked, (1935)


But really, this was just an excuse to show a strange flashless picture taken in the middle of the night.

2015-11-30      Elias on the Nazis   

I am currently reading The Better Angels of our Nature, by Stephen Pinker. It is not my typical sort of book, though I did read Pinker's The Stuff of Thought over a decade ago. The main reason I picked this one up is that I do statistics in my work. Of particular interest to me is just how far off a typical person's intuition is on mortality. I've read varied sources on it, perhaps since inspired to do so by hearing the appalling rates of violence in Medieval Europe as told in William Manchester's A World Lit Only by Fire.

Pinker tells the story of an obscure (outside of his field, I imagine) philosopher Norbert Elias. In one passage, I notices a familiar sentiment:

Elias himself was haunted by the not-so-civilized behavior of his native Germany during World War II, and he labored to explain that decivilizing process within the framework of his theory. He discussed the fitful history of German unification and the resulting lack of trust in a legitimate central authority. He documented the persistence of a militaristic culture of honor among its elites. The breakdown of a state monopoly on violence with the rise of communist and fascist militias, and a resulting contraction of empathy for groups perceived to be outsiders, particularly the Jews.


In a way, the social media have proven a tremendous boon for authoritarians from movements such as Men's Rights, White Supremacy, and Christian Identity. Right-wing populist poiticians are taking full advantage.

2015-10-15      John Oliver on Our Lady of Right Wing Nuttery   

My son recently read "Anthem" in school. I have read one Ayn Rand work, "Philosophy, Who Needs It?" Having done so, I can't help but wonder how a functioning adult who has endured her cartoonish fantasies could possibly recommend such tripe to anyone in good conscience.

I am reminded of one of my all-time favorite quotes from a blog post (Kung Fu Monkey aka John Rogers):

"-- There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."


More on the fire-breather herself, courtesy of John Oliver on Last Week Tonight:



I often wonder this myself.

2015-10-04      A Simple Take on Abortion   

Continually threatening certain rights helps certain people remember their place.


Bill Nye and Abortion (originally seen on Pharyngula)

A woman should know that she may have as much access to reproductive health care as the primary male in her life will allow.

Reproductive rights strongly resemble the Roberts Court's handling of the Voting Rights Act. Alabama issues laws to require identification during voting, while simultaneously shutting down the sorts of places one could go to get identification. In predominantly black districts. The Roberts Court declared racism over. I didn't read the majority opinion, but I'm sure the argument contained wording substantially similar to the following in meaning, "... I mean, come on, one of those people is even President."

2015-10-03      Frontrunners   

Trump:

One who can't be bothered to memorize canned answers for the most softball of questions posed by the "professional toady" class of "journalists" can't be expected to successfully fulfill any function for which success has not been preordained through a monetary exchange.

Bush, III, (The Revenge?):

Surprisingly, though, "Jeb!" has managed to trip over his own tie midstride while walking down the well marked path to his eventual nomination. It's rare to see a golden boy that looks so much like he's about to stumble right off the primrose path and into the thorns.

2015-09-19      The Opposite of Science   

The opposite of "science" is "bullshit."

examples:

"I don't believe in science." = "I believe in bullshit."

"Science doesn't have all the answers." = "Bullshit has all the answers."

"I don't trust science." = "I trust bullshit."

2015-09-13      Back from Scotland   

From the windswept moors of Scotland, I have returned to the warmer clime of southern New Mexico. Glasgow is a nice city and , given the change, I would definitely return to the banks of the River Clyde.

The Hunterian Gallery at Glasgow University has a display on Whistler. The Museum of Transport has a small display on the American Civil War (as related to the shipyards on the River Clyde). Without even noticing, in Scottish museums my attention was drawn to Americana. How American of me.

Unfortunately, thought the Queen was in Scotland at the time of her big day, she was on the Edinburgh side, so I didn't get a chance to see her as she toured. Too bad.

2015-09-04      Denali   

About eight years ago, I was waiting in the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. I was on my way to Kodiak. The part of the airport that serviced that destination had few other destinations with multiple flights. After Kodiak (or maybe before; it was a long time ago), the most popular on the list of flights was Denali. I didn't know what that was. Rather than ask, I looked around. From a brochure, I gathered that Denali was the place I had always known as Mount McKinley. It was never referred to as Mount McKinley anywhere in the airport (at least as far as I noticed on a cursory glance).

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