Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Science and Relativism 

Josh Marshall is a journalist, but he's also a wordsmith. I think he gives "the theory of" the Big Bang short shrift here. The theory has predicted phenomenon that have later been observed, and is by far the dominant theory concerning the genesis of the universe. But I'll leave that to one side.

This post is the best indictment of the Bush Administration's basic worldview that I have read to date. It doesn't harp on one policy angle or another, but it gets to the wellspring of all that's wrong with the whole operation. The context is irrelevant, if mildly entertaining. A young Bush appointee - a veteran of the Bush/Cheney '04 "war room" - was attempting to censor NASA personel. Basically he was trying to keep anyone at the agency from saying the words "global warming" and insisted that references to the Big Bang be deemed "opinion" (a position Marshall ably eviscerates). Then he was forced to resign after someone started digging and discovered that he lied on his resume about having graduated from Texas A&M. So he wasn't even an Aggie.

Sorry...I had to.

Now, you might think that based on what I've written so far, our young appointee - the 24 year old George C. Deutsch - pretended to have graduated with some degree or another in the sciences. He was, afterall, appointed to work at NASA. But it turns out he was a fake journalist, not a fake scientist. Go figure. Anyway...the poor kid's up shit creek with a turd for a paddle now, but I digress.

The point is, this kid's the personification of what's wrong with the Bush Administration's worldview, and by extension its policies and politics. I'll leave the heavy lifting to Mr. Marshall:

The rub here is the failure to see that knowledge which has been subjected to and survived -- indeed been strengthened by -- empirical and theoretical scrutiny stands on a higher footing than information that hasn't. This isn't pedantry. Nor is this some obscure alcove in the science curriculum.

This mindset -- obscurantism and relativism duking it out to be of most use in the pursuit of power -- suffuses the Bush administration: a lack of respect for facts and the set of tools we use to discern factual information from chatter and bombast.

Damn skippy.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Myspace Guilt 

I've been having some guilt about using Myspace ever since Murdoch got his grubby hands on it. Unfortunately, I'm quite addicted, especially since underground musicians and artists have started using it for networking...it's becoming a pretty nifty resource.

Damn that Murdoch. I can just avoid Fox News, but what now?

That said, I don't think I've ever posted a link to my profile so that any Myspacers who read this can add me up. Here it is. Add me up if you've got a profile.

Jihad Momani 

An interesting story coming out of the whole cartoons seen round the world situation, from a diarist at Kos's place.

Jihad Momani was the editor-in-chief of the Jordanian weekly newspaper Shihane. On Thursday, Jan. 26th, Mr. Momani published three of the Danish cartoons in Shihane, running them alongside an editorial penned by Mr. Momani which said "Muslims of the World, be reasonable."

" What brings more prejudice against Islam, these caricatures or pictures of a hostage-taker slashing the throat of his victim in front of the cameras or a suicide bomber who blows himself up during a wedding ceremony in Amman?" asked Mr. Momani.

Mr. Momani was arrested the following day, after which he was sacked by the paper and the publisher pulled all issues from newsstands. A few days later, another Jordanian, Hashem al-Khalidi, editor-in-chief of a weekly tabloid called Al-Mehwar which also reproduced a few of the cartoons, was likewise arrested.

Man...could we use a few more Jihad Momanis in this world. I only hope he comes through this unscathed and is set free. It's frightening that even Jordan, widely considered a moderate state, would react to his situation in this manner.

House Nation 

This is an interesting article about a new sociology professor here at UT, Dr. Ben Carrington, who is doing work on music subcultures. He focuses on the subculture that I suppose I'm a part of, though I'd probably parse it a little finer than this article's length permits.

As some of you may know, I wrote my undergraduate thesis on how music subcultures influenced the evolution of drug prohibition in the U.S. I sure wish this guy had been around to help me out with that project, but he just joined the faculty in 2004, it seems. Of course my mentor at the time, Dr. Mark Smith, was no slouch. He's an expert on drug policy. But I could have used an expert in music subcultures as well...I had to rely on my experience more than I would have liked.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Funny but Disturbing 

Right here.

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