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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Myth of the Bipartisan Initiative

From a Globe and Mail article on Obama's decision to provide steadfast support rather than retreat over the issue of health-care reform:
But the price of victory was steep. His decision to follow Ms. Pelosi’s advice and press on with health-care reform in the face of Republican antipathy effectively killed any hope of negotiating bipartisan compromises on other issues.
Was that ever an actual hope in the first place, however? With the right-wing descending in outright lunacy between vitriolic ignorance, the heckling jeers of "Baby-killer", and "You lie!" reality-denying outbursts, one wonders just how bipartisan compromise could be expected in the first place.

There is more to say on this topic, but the current political discourse in our southern neighbours is highly stressful and disheartening, so I will just leave it there for now.

Monday, March 22, 2010


To all those south of the border, congratulations! This is, of course, only the first step on your long road to social justice (and socialism and fascism...). There is still the matter of actually providing medical care for all citizenry rather than having the IRS enforce the purchase of insurance from a private company, but at least some of the more unscrupulous aspects of the insurance companies (such as not covering previously existing conditions) should now be curtailed. Also, I sincerely hope that the collective hernia of all those horrified tea baggers doesn't overload your fledgling system.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Out sick, so a fun link

I seem to have come down with some sort of unpleasant bug this week, which has resulted in me getting very little accomplished. While I feel sorry for myself and wish my immune system would kick in, though, Sarah has gone ahead and made a fantastic St. Patrick's Day webpage full of mathematically oriented humour. Don't feel too badly if you don't get all the jokes, though - some of them are pretty obscure (especially for non-mathies like me). Even if you only get a few of the jokes, though, it's still well worth having a look at.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday Morning Quotations

Since I had such a slow week last week, I wanted to make sure I at least started this week off with a proper set of quotations.

"Science offers the best answers to the meaning of life. Science offers the privilege of understanding before you die why you were ever born in the first place." - Richard Dawkins, English biologist, 1941-

"As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy." - Christopher Dawson, English historian, 1889-1970

"Television... thrives on unreason, and unreason thrives on television... [Television] strikes at the emotions rather than the intellect." - Robin Day, British broadcaster, 1923-2000

"Politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians." - Charles de Gaulle, French soldier, statesman, and President of France from 1959-69, 1890-1970

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Beyond The Streisand Effect

The Streisand Effect is a term bandied about on the internet to describe situations when attempted censorship backfires and ends up amplifying interest in the targeted information or event rather than suppressing it. In what is possibly one of the most dramatic cases of litigious bullying backfiring, the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) sued Simon Singh for libel after he called some of their unsubstantiated claims (such as chiropractic treatment for asthma and colic) 'bogus', and now find themselves in the ignominious and entirely fitting position of having one in four chiropractors under investigation for misleading medical claims (including some of the BCA's own officers). I am greatly impressed with Simon Singh's tenacity and backbone, and I think he and his supporters deserve a great deal of credit for taking a stand for critical journalism.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Big Decisions

Things are probably going to be slow around here this week (and belatedly, last week) as I contemplate my impending return to graduate school - decisions have to be made about where I am going to go and who I am going to work with. Of course, there is the possibility that the stress of decision making will produce a flurry of activity borne from a desperate desire to procrastinate... but that cannot be guaranteed.